Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekend Stakes Races (Not including Monday)

Saturday and Sunday of this week feature great racing from Belmont, Woodbine, and Hollywood. This weekend has great turf stakes races. Woodbine has two graded stakes race, Belmont has the Sheepshead Bay Stakes and Hollywood Park runs the American Handicap which features the very talented Mr. Commons.

Belmont Park

The Sheepshead Bay Stakes GII $200,000
1. Aruna
2. Hit it Rich
3. Hasay
The Sheepshead Bay features Aruna, who was a dull last in her return to the races this year but there was no pace in the race and she never had an opportunity to run. Aruna is the best horse in the race and she runs much better second off the layoff. Hit it Rich is in good form but if Aruna runs her race she is not as good. Hasay ran really well at Keeneland last time out and will be under the radar, I think she will be a factor.

Betfair Hollywood Park
American Handicap GII $150,000
 1. Mr. Commons
2. Wilkinson
3. Liberian Freighter

The American Handicap starts and end with Mr. Commons, Mr. Commons is the best horse in the race and could be the one of the best turf horses in the country. I was perplexed by his second last time out because he did not have an excuse, but he is head and shoulders better than this field.


Eclipse Stakes GIII $200,000
1. Mister Marti Gras
2. James Street
3. Hunter's Bay

Connaught Cup

1. Mutual Trust
2. Stormy Lord
3. Riding the River

Monday Blog upcoming when entries come out! Good Luck this weekend!
Connaught Cup S. (Grade II)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Preakness Wrap up

I think it is time to get on the I'll Have Another band wagon. He ran the best race of his career in the Preakness and that was off short rest. Bodemeister again ran too good too lose, but those two asserted themselves as the best 3yo's in the crop. They were nine lengths clear of Creative Cause, who is clearly the third best. Union Rags and Dullahan will come back in the Belmont and try to prove they belong in the same breath as I'll Have Another as they will attempt to thwart his Triple Crown Bid. Union Rags will get a lot of attention because he has had miserable trips in his last two starts but there is an argument he might be a one turn horse, and the Belmont might be the wrong race all together for him. Dullahan is very scary, he could very well be the horse that will stop I'll Have Another from winning the Triple Crown, but there is a constant theory that to win the Belmont a horse must be far back, this is not true. I believe it is to a horses advantage to be close to a normally slow pace in the Belmont so I'll Have Another will have a jump on Dullahan. I'll Have Another proved to me his four for four record this year is legit, I hope in two weeks he will make that record five for five and run his way into history.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Preakness Stakes

This Saturday's Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown includes four out of the first five finishers of the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another headlines the race but the runner up Bodemeister will be the post time favorite. Went the Day Well fourth in the Derby will garner attention as will Creative Cause, and do not forget about the five newcomers in the years Preakness. I will do a horse-by-horse analysis followed by my selections at the bottom. A new feature in this blog will be "My odds" these are the odds I believe will be acceptable come post time. Happy Preakness!

PP Horse       M.L. Odds  My Odds
1 Tiger Walk  30-1            40-1- Tiger Walk is owned by Kevin Plank, who started Under Armour. Kevin Plank is a Maryland guy, his farm is in Maryland his horses are trained in Maryland and he himself went to the University of Maryland. Plank is great for racing in Maryland but I believe Tiger Walk is in this year’s Preakness to provide the Maryland boys a thrill, but not to pose a real threat in winning the race.  Tiger Walk has knocked on the door of hitting the board in New York graded stakes races this year but has not had that final gear to get him there, and I do not think it will be there on Saturday. Tiger Walk will make a late move but it will not be enough to hit the board. 

2. Teeth of the Dog 15-1   20-1- Teeth of the Dog is trained by Michael Matz and is his backup to the unlucky Union Rags. Teeth of the Dog comes off a decent third place effort in the Wood Memorial but the problem with the Wood Memorial, Gemologist the winner was 16th in the Kentucky Derby and Alpha the runner up was 12th. The Wood Memorial did not stack up against the best three year olds in the country two weeks ago, and I do not think Teeth of the Dog will change that on the third Saturday in May.  

3. Pretension 30-1       50-1- Pretension comes off a win in a the Canonero II stakes at Pimlico two weeks ago. In that race he defeated once highly regarded My Adonis. The problem I have with Pretension, in his start prior to the Canoreo II he was a non-factor in the Illinois Derby, the Preakness is a much tougher race than the Illinois Derby.  Pretension has little to no chance on Saturday. 

4. Zetterholm 20-1   15-1- Zetterholm is the most interesting "new shooter" having not raced in the Kentucky Derby; Zetterholm comes into the Preakness fresh. Zetterholm is taking a massive step up in class in the Preakness, after losing his debut he has reeled up three straight including a stakes win last time out. The problem is that stakes win was an overnight at Aqueduct for New York breds. This is a huge step up but Zetterholm is obviously talented, I look for him to be slightly overmatched but certainly he has a chance to be a factor. 

5. Went the Day Well 6-1  9-2- Describing Went the Day Well's Kentucky Derby trip in words is almost impossible. Went the Day Well should never have made a run, he was cut off early was way too far back, had trouble on the first turn and was as far back as he could be turning for home and yet he still rallied to finish fourth. Went the Day Well does not need to be far back, in fact he was fourth the whole way around before pouncing to the lead and winning the Vinery Racing Spiral. Went the Day Well will have no problem with the two-week turn around because of his light-seasoning prior. He has looked great at Fair Hill coming up to the race and is primed to run a monster race. 

6. Creative Cause 6-1  8-1- Creative Cause's trip in the Kentucky Derby might have been the only trip worse than Went the Day Well's and Union Rags. He ran further than any horse ran in the Derby and still managed to make a big run to finish fifth. I think the Derby took an immense amount of energy out of Creative Cause, and add the cross-country trip and back I think Creative Cause has undergone way too much to run his race on Saturday, 

7. Bodemeister 8-5  1-1- The race Bodemeister ran in the Kentucky Derby was impressive. He set torrid fractions was pressed the whole way and still managed to hold on for second. He ran the 5th fastest half-mile in the history of the Derby and still managed to hit the board, not to mention every horse around him became a non-factor in the stretch. Bodemeister will be tough to pass on Saturday. He comes into a race that does not have an abundance of speed unlike the Derby and will be doctored along by Mike Smith. Bodemeister has yet to bounce but this is his third race in five weeks, a extremely tough task for a lightly raced horse like Bodemeister. I think he will be very tough and will hit the board but I will try and beat him on Saturday.

8. Daddy Nose Best 12-1  20-1- I was quite high on Daddy Nose Best going into the Kentucky Derby but he proved in the Derby he was not good enough to win at this level. He ran an even race but never made a major run. I look for him to run a similar race on Saturday. I do think Daddy Nose Best is better than a significant amount of horse in this race and I believe he will finish in the upper half of this race but he will not be good enough to hit the board.

9. I'll Have Another- 5-2  2-1- I'll Have Another ran a perfect race in the Kentucky Derby, he had a perfect trip and Bodemeister faded just in time. I admire the race he ran and I admire Doug O' Neil for sending I'll Have Another to Baltimore so quickly after the Derby, but I think I'll Have Another's undefeated season and Triple Crown run will come to an end on Saturday. I'll Have Another runs well fresh; he won the Robert Lewis off a massive layoff, followed by the Santa Anita Derby off a long layoff. He had four weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, but this time he only gets two. The brightside is he did not have a grueling campaign coming into the Triple Crown; the downside is he may not run well without any freshening. He really should get a perfect trip again right off the pace but I just do not see him finishing as well on Saturday, but hopefully he will prove me wrong so the Triple Crown run can continue. 

10. Optimizer 30-1  30-1- A lot like Daddy Nose Best, Optimizer ran a very average race in the Kentucky Derby, he finished right in the middle of the field and never made much of an impact and finished 11th. A believe Optimizer will not be much of a factor on Saturday because he is just not good enough to win the race. He may make a run for the coach D. Wayne Lukas but I am fairly confident he will not hit the board. 

11. Cozetti- 30-1  40-1- Cozetti ran a decent race in the Arkansas Derby, the problem was he was really far behind Bodemeister. Cozetti is improving and the gray son of Cozzene will be easy to spot in the field, but I simply believe he is Dale Romans replacement to Dullahan in this race. I do not think he is good enough to get a share of the pot. 

1. Went the Day Well
2. Bodemeister
3. I'll Have Another
4. Zetterholm 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kentucky Derby Analysis (Horse by Horse)

The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby features morning line favorite Bodemeister, talented Union Rags, and the flashy Hansen. The Derby is always one of the hardest races of the year to predict, as the 20 three year olds cavalry charge makes traffic problems imminent. Here is a horse-by-horse analysis to hopefully improve your knowledge of every horse so that you can make a pick in this years Kentucky Derby! I ranked each horse in brackets of 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, and 16-20. At the very bottom are my final selections. 
PP  Horse Name        Odds
1. Daddy Long Legs (30-1)- Daddy Long Legs is trained by the legendary Irish trainer Aidan O' Brien, who sent the Irish horse across the pond to run in last Breeders Cup Juvenile. The race was a disaster; seeming like he never took to the dirt, Daddy Long Legs was never a factor. This year he was sent over to Dubai in his seasonal debut for the UAE Derby. This time over a synthetic surface similar to a grass racecourse Daddy Long Legs relished the ground winning the 2 million dollar race. In the Derby I will look past Daddy Long Legs due to his horrid post and dislike of the dirt surface. I will place him in my final quarter which is 16-20

2. Optimizer (50-1)- Optimizer is trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Optimizer is an inconsistent horse. Last year as a two year old he ran a very impressive second in the Breeders Futurity, but he followed that effort up with a dull performance in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. This year the pattern was similar as he ran an impressive second in the Rebel Stakes, only to follow it up with a dull 9th in the Arkansas Derby. I look for Optimizer to run better than that but I still consider him not good enough to get the job done. I will place him in the 11-15 bracket.

3. Take Charge Indy (15-1)- Take Charge Indy comes off an impressive gate to wire win in the Florida Derby defeating Union Rags. In what was only his second start of the year, Take Charge Indy took advantage of the speed bias and led all the way around the track holding off Reveron and Union Rags. Take Charge Indy benefits from a long time in between races as he showed between his seasonal bow and the Florida Derby. Calvin Borel stays aboard Take Charge Indy and because Calvin Borel is a three time Derby winner his odds will be shorter than what he should be. I believe he is peaking at the right time, but the speed bias that got him home at Gulfstream. In the Derby he will simply not be good enough to hit the board, I will put him in the 6-10 bracket.

4. Union Rags (9-2)- Union Rags is the second choice on the morning line and deservingly so. Trained by Micheal Matz of Barbaro fame, Unions Rags returned to the races this year with a smashing score in the Fountain of Youth but followed that performance up with a traffic filled dull third in the Florida Derby. Based on what he has shown in his workouts leading up to the Derby, Union Rags should be a main threat in the Derby. I love him, I think he will about 5-1 which is a great price for such a good horse. I think Union Rags certainly belongs in the 1-5 bracket.

5. Dullahan (8-1)- Dullahan comes off a win the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland last time out, but i was on a synthetic surface and the Kentucky Derby is on the dirt. Dullahan has two career wins, both Grade 1 wins on the Keeneland polytrack. His race on dirt in the Juvenile last year was just ok, as he finished fourth. He possesses a very strong closing kick and will be coming late, but I am willing to bet that his closing kick is not as powerful on dirt as it is on turf or synthetic. I am not a huge Dullahan fan and I have him in the 6-10 bracket.

6. Bodemeister (4-1)- Bodemeister is the morning line favorite coming off his dominating 9 length win in the Arkansas Derby. Trained by the red hot Bob Baffert, Bodemeister is the deserving favorite, but I see too many flaws in Bodemeister to pick him. In Bodemeister's last win in the Arkansas Derby, only two horses are coming back to run in the Kentucky Derby and both will be major longshots. I do not believe Bodemeister beat a whole lot in the Arkansas Derby. My second problem with Bodemeister is the pace scenario. Bodemeister will be part of a hot pace that will be contested by Trinniberg and Hansen. I am not convinced Bodemeister can handle this hot pace and I think the quality of the field and the pace will catch up to Bodemeister in the Derby I have him in a shock in the 11-15 bracket.

7. Rousing Sermon (50-1)- Rousing Sermon is coming off a solid third place finish in the Lousiana Derby, but the quality of the field in the Lousiana Derby is in question. Rousing Sermon ran on late to pass tired horses in the Lousiana Derby. I do not think he is good enough to be a true factor in the Kentucky Derby. He will be at the back and will make a run late but I don't think he will be good enough. I have him in the 16-20 bracket.

8. Creative Cause (12-1)- Creative Cause is the most consistent horse in the race. He has never been beaten more than a length and he has been competing at the highest level. Last time out in the Santa Anita Derby he lost to I'll Have Another (19) by just a nose. He ran extremely well at Churchill last year finishing third in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Creative Cause will hit the board in the Derby, he always does. I think 12-1 presents great value and so I have Creative Cause in the 1-5 bracket.

9. Trinniberg (50-1)- Trinniberg comes into the Kentucky Derby off two fantastic wins, the problem is both of those wins come at the sprinters distance of 7 furlongs. The Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles or 10 furlongs. Trinniberg has never gone a route distance or gone two turns. Trinniberg is fast, for a sprinter, which means he will be very fast for the route distance. Trinniberg will be on the lead and could present a problem for horse likes Hansen and Bodemeister. Trinniberg will be on the lead for a long time but I believe the distance will catch up to him, so I have Trinniberg in the 16-20 bracket.

10. Daddy Nose Best (15-1)- Daddy Nose Best comes off two good wins. He took the El Camino Real Derby followed by a win on conventional dirt in the Sunland Park Derby. Daddy Nose Best has been training really well and presents a major threat coming from mid-pack and closing into the fast pace. He will be ridden by Garrett Gomez who rides best when the big moment presents itself. I think the quality of the Derby might be a little too much for him though, but I do think he will fire his best shot. I have him in the 6-10 bracket.

11. Alpha (15-1)- Alpha has done nothing wrong this year, he ran a very impressive second to Gemologist (15) in the Wood Memorial. My problem with Alpha was his dismal effort last year in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. I know there were excuses but I don't think Alpha will prove to be good enough to hit the board. He will improve from last year, but the fact that Ramon Dominguez is riding Hansen (14) over him and his bumpy road to the Derby I will put him in the 6-10 bracket.

12. Prospective (30-1) Prospective comes off a dissapointing effort in the Bluegrass Stakes but prior he won the Tampa Bay Derby. The problem with Prospective is that he did not beat much in the Tampa Bay Derby, and when he has been placed in top compettion he has not been a factor. He ran a horrid race last year in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. I believe Prospective will be a non-factor so I will place him in the 16-20 bracket.

13. Went the Day Well (20-1)- Went the Day Well shares the exact same connections as last years Kentucky Derby Winner, Animal Kingdom. Owned by Team Valor International, trained by Graham Motion, and ridden by John Velasquez Went the Day Well will be a major player in this years Kentucky Derby. Purchased by Barry Irwin after two races in England it did not take Went the Day Well long to make an impact in the United States. After a fourth in his U.S. debut, he won a maiden race and followed it up with a smashing victory in the Vinery Racing Spiral, the same race Animal Kingdom won prior to the Derby. Went the Day Well is improving and has already won on dirt something Animal Kingdom had not yet done. I think Went the Day Well is in a position to get a perfect trip in mid pack and could be right there at the end, so I will put Went the Day Well in the 1-5 bracket.

14. Hansen (12-1)- Hansen, last year's two year old champion has one win and two seconds this year. After a loss in his seasonal debut, he rebounded with an impressive win in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct which he followed up with a second to Dullahan in the Bluegrass. Hansen is a free running colt who will be part of the pace early on. I do not think Hansen wants a mile and a quarter, the pace will be too hot with the likes of Trinniberg and Bodemeister for Hansen to stretch his speed to this distance. I think Hansen will be overbet and will end up being a non-factor so I will put him in the 11-15 bracket. 

15. Gemologist (6-1)- Gemologist is an undefeated 5 for 5. His body of work includes being undefeated at Churchill Downs and a Grade 1 win last time out in the Wood Memorial. He was only started twice this year and figures to improve again. He got a stern test last time out when Alpha tested him in mid stretch. Gemologist responded to win the Wood. Gemologist should get a really good trip sitting outside of the main speed as well as being able to see Union Rags to his inside. Gemologist's connections are the lethal combination of Javier Castellano and Todd Pletcher, which only help his cause. Gemologist’s records lands him in the 1-5 bracket. 

16. El Padrino (20-1)- El Padrino had all the hype following his gutsy Risen Star victory on the heels of his solid allowance score, but that was followed up by a dull effort in the Florida Derby. The Florida Derby fourth place effort cannot be ignored, but I still think El Padrino offers a lot of upside.  El Padrino is tough as he showed when he prevailed in the Risen Star stretch duel. He is the "Other Pletcher" which is always dangerous because Gemologist will get most of the play and El Padrino could be in a position to make a splash. I think he is a major factor and he is in the 1-5 bracket. 

17. Done Talking (50-1)- Done Talking comes off an upset win in the Illinois Derby, but he will still not gain a lot of respect as his morning line shows. He will be coming from behind like he did in the Illinois Derby. His dissapointing effort in the Gotham does not reflect on this horse who ran a very good fourth in the Remsen in his last start as a two year old. Done Talking will make a run late but I think it will be too little too late and he will finish in the 11-15 bracket. 

18. Sabercat (30-1)- Sabercat improved off his lackluster seasonal debut in the Arkansas Derby running a decent third. Sabercat won the Delta Jackpot in his two year old finale, a race that really played into his hand. I do not see him being enough of a factor to hit the board because of the quality of this race in which he might find himself over his head. I think Sabercat fits in the 11-15 bracket. 

19. I'll Have Another (12-1)- I'll Have Another has had a perfect year and has run only one bad race in his career. I'll Have Another has run well fresh in both of his starts this year, and comes into this race off only a four week rest. I'll Have Another ran a gutsy race to get up and win the Santa Anita Derby by a nose. The horse has clearly improved around two turns but I do not think he will be enough of a factor Saturday. I'll Have Another's post position does not set up well for him. I do not think he wants to drop to the back or be rushed to the front leaving him in a place where he could get caught very wide. He is a talented colt but I do not think the Derby will be his day so I will put him in the 6-10 bracket. 

20. Liaison (50-1)- Liaison has had a lackluster year. After losing his rider in the first race of the year he has continued to perform poorly in his next starts. His performance could be attributed to the Santa Anita dirt, which he did not seem to like. Liaison is scary because if he takes to the Churchill dirt he could be a factor, but based on his current form I do not think Liason will be. Liason will finish in the 16-20 bracket. 

Selections for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) $2,000,000
1. Union Rags
2. Went the Day Well
3. Gemologist

Creative Cause and El Padrino will not be far behind either. 

1-5 In Alphabetical Order
1. Creative Cause
2. El Padrino
3. Gemologist
4. Union Rags
5. Went the Day Well
6. Alpha 
7. Daddy Nose Best 
8. Dullahan 
9. I'll Have Another
10. Take Charge Indy 
11. Bodemeister
12. Done Talking
13. Hansen 
14. Optimizier
15. Sabercat
16. Daddy Long Legs 
17. Liason
18. Prospective
19. Rousing Sermon 
20. Trinniberg 

Kentucky Oaks Day Picks 5/4/2012

The Kentucky Oaks is the feature on the Friday card at Churchill downs. The undercard is headlined by a fantastic race in the American Turf and the Alysheba for older males, as wel last the La Troienne featuring Plum Pretty. My selections for the stakes race on Kentucky Oaks day are below!!

Race 6 The La Troienne (Grade II) $300,000
1. Plum Pretty
2. Absinthe Minded
3. Juanita

In the La Troienne the first graded stakes races on the friday card will have the shortest priced favorite in Plum Pretty. Plum Pretty won her first race of the year in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn and the going does not get much tougher today. She will be an overwhelming and deservingly so. She is 1 for 1 over the Churchill surface with that win coming in the Kentucky Oaks. I will be shocked if she losesm and I am making Plum Pretty my top selection. Absinthe Minded can always jump up and give a big effort and I will look for a good effort on Friday but not good enough to beat Plum Pretty.

Race 7 The Eight Belles (Grade III) $100,000
1. Small Kitchen
2. Contested
3. Good Deed

The Eight Belles is an interesting race becasue Small Kitchen is cutting back to one turn following a lackluster effort around two turns. I think she is the most talented runner in the field and I look for her to rebound. Bob Baffert could not be hotter and I think Contested will be right there at the wire.

Race 8 The Edgewood $150,000
1. Disposablepleasure  (12-1) ML
2. Stephanie's Kitten
3.  More than Love

The Edgewood for three year old fillies on the turf features Stephanie's Kitten who was a dissapointing third last time out in the Ashland at Keeneland. This race for her serves as a prep for the Coronation at Royal Ascot in June. She is the class of the race but I believe the riders will target her in the race based on her Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf win last year. Disposablepleasure tries turf on friday and I will believe she will take to the grass and defeat Stephanie's Kitten who I think could run into traffic.

Race 9 The Alysheba Stakes (Grade II) $300,000
1. Mucho Macho Man
2. Boxeur De Reus (30-1)
3. Succesful Dan

The Alysheba is a very compettive race and features Mucho Macho Man who is one of the top older males in training this year and Succesful Dan who returend at Keeneland with an impressive win. I think it will take Succesful Dan one more start to return to this level of compettion and Mucho Macho Man is the horse to beat. Mucho Macho Man ran a very solid third last year in the Kentucky Derby showing his affinity for the Churchill surface. He has run two impressive races this year and I think he will continue his roll in the Alysheba. Boxeur de Reus ran a decent race last time out in the Santa Anita Handicap and I think he could hit the board at a big price for O'Neil and Guttierez a preview of the Derby. I think Succesful Dan will run his race but this is a quick turnaround and might need this race.

Race 10 The American Turf (Grade II) $200,000
1. Howe Great
2. Gung Ho
3. Star Channel

The American Turf is for three year old males on the turf and for me the race starts with Howe Great. Even though he is in the 14 post position he has never lost on grass and until he does I am not going to pick against him. The race is filled with speed which does not set up for Silver Max who won the Transylvania last time out gate to wire. I like Gung Ho to come running late but I think Howe Great will have the jump turning for home.

Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1) $1,000,000
1. Hard Not To Like (20-1)
2. Grace Hall
3. On Fire Baby
This year I beleive the Kentucky Oaks is a wide open race and for that reason I like the three year old filly named Hard Not To Like. I was very encouraged by her last race which was her first race off a decent layoff.  I am willing to take the risk that she will take to the dirt because if she does she will be right there at the wire. I love her at what should be a price well over 15-1. Grace Hall is as consistent as they come, she has has never run a bad race and I look for that to continue on Friday, but I do not know if she will get a great trip. I think she is too good to not hit the board but I will pick against her. On Fire Baby has done nothing wrong on conventional dirt but I think the compettion might catch up to her a bit on Friday, she will be close but I think she will get caught late. The Oaks is a strong deep field and really any of them could win it, but I love the canadian filly to make a splash in the Oaks its Hard Not to Like her.