Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stakes Races 6-28-2012

This weekend is headlined by graded stakes races at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Prairie Meadows, Hollywood Park, Monmouth Park, and a major stakes race at Charles Town.

Belmont Park

GII New York Stakes $200,000
1. Aruna
2. Banimpire
3. Hit it Rich

GII Dwyer Stakes $200,000
1. Unstoppable U
2. Teeth of the Dog
3. Fast Falcon

Betfair Hollywood Park $250,000

GI Triple Bend Handicap
1. Smiling Tiger
2. Comma to the Top
3. Mobilized

GI Shoemaker Mile Stakes $250,000
1. Mr. Commons
2. Jeranimo
3. Liberian Freighter

Prairie Meadows

GIII Iowa Oaks $200,000
1. Tapajo
2. Uptown Bertie
3. Ice Cream Silence

GIII Iowa Derby $200,000
1. Hansen
2. Truetap
3. Alsvid

GIII Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap $300,000
1. Succesful Dan
2. Awesome Gem
3. Headache

Churchill Downs

GIII Bashford Manor Stakes $100,000
1. Positively
2. Roman's Avenue
3. Special Jo

Monmouth Park

GIII Eatontown Handicap $100,000
1. Unbridled Humor
2. Vivo Per Lei
3. Ruthenia

Charles Town

Red Legend Stakes $400,000
1. Il Villano
2. Innocent Man
3. Flashy Dresser

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weekend Stakes Races 6-16-12 6-17

The Weekend is headlined by an incredible rendition of the G1 Stephen Foster H. as well as the Vanity Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park, as well as good cards at Belmont, Colonial, and a graded stake at Delaware.

Churchill Downs

Grade  III Matt Winn Stakes $100,000
1. Neck 'n Neck
2. Mucho Macho
3. Right to Vote

Grade III Regret Stakes $100,000
1. Coup
2. Heart of Destiny
3. Colonial Flag

Grade II Fleur De Lis. Handicap $150,000
1. St. John's River
2. Royal Delta
3. Afleeting Lady

Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap $400,000
1. Wise Dan
2. Nehro
3. Ron the Greek

Belmont Park

Grade III Hill Price Stakes $150,000
1. Howe Great
2. Our Entourage
3. Summer Front

Betfair Hollywood Park

GI Vanity Handicap $250,000
1. Ellafitz
2. Include Me Out
3. Atlantic Swing

Colonial Downs

GIII Edward P. Evans All Along Stakes $100,000
1. Snow Top Mountain
2. La Pernelle
3. Speak Easy Gal
Pachattack would be my pick but I expect her to run in the Obeah at Delaware.

Colonial Turf Cup $500,000
1. Casino Host
2. Humble and Hungry
3. Smart Bid

Delaware Park

GIII Obeah Stakes $150,000
1. Pachattack
2. Love and Pride
3. She Be Classy

Friday, June 8, 2012

I'll Have Another out

With the defection of I'll Have Another the Belmont stakes loses the excitement of having a Triple Crown on the line. The race still goes on though. My selections will not change significantly but there are two longshot that I find very interesting. Unstoppable U could be dangerous. He is very talented and could either have the lead or sit right off of Paynter. He is lightly raced but I think has a chance to run better than his odds suggest. The other horse I think is very dangerous is Optimizer. Optimizer is bred for a mile and a half and everyonce in a while he runs his race. I think he will hit the board on Saturday at a big price and will replace I'll Have Another in my trifecta.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The 144th Running of the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Run over a 1 ½ miles at Belmont Park. The Belmont Stakes is known as the "Test of Champions", and is  the longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races.  In this year's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes all eyes will be on a single horse, I'll Have Another. I'll Have Another will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown Winner and first since 1978 when Affirmed accomplished the task. I'll Have Another breaks from post number 11 and is 4-5 odds on the morning line. His main competitors in the race will come from Dullahan (#5) who was a stong third in the Kentucky Derby, Union Rags (#3), a troubled 7th in the Kentucky Derby, and Paynter, a talented runner hailing from the barn of Bob Baffert. Below will be my horse by horse analysis of the Belmont Stakes followed by my selections. Happy Belmont week, and hopefully on Monday I will be blogging about the 12th Triple Crown winner!

PP  Name  (Odds)   [My Odds] 
1  Street Life (12-1)   [10-1] -  Street Life is trained by the young, but proven Chad Brown, owned in part by Houston Texans owner Robert McNair and is ridden by the always capable Jose Lezcano. Street Life will be a factor in this year’s Belmont Stakes. Street Life will be off of the television screen early in the race because he is a very deep closer. Street Life likes to drop way behind and make one big kick towards the end of the race. Street Life comes into the Belmont Stakes off of a respectable third place effort in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park four weeks ago. Prior to the Peter Pan he had a poor showing in the Wood Memorial, a Kentucky Derby prep race. Street Life will have no problem with the Belmont distance. There is a common misperception that to win the Belmont Stakes a horse needs to be far back. This is not true. Street Life will be running late, is bred for the distance, and is fond of the Belmont Park surface, making him a factor in the Belmont Stakes. 

2. Unstoppable U (30-1) [40-1]- Unstoppable U is undefeated for trainer Ken McPeek, and jockey Junior Alvarado. Unstoppable U is taking a major step up in class. He won a maiden special weight at Aqueduct followed by an allowance win going a mile at Belmont Park. Following that wire to wire win at Belmont Park Unstoppable U is being thrown into deep water in the Belmont Stakes. Unstoppable U is going to be a factor though because he is going to go to the lead. I believe he is talented, but this race is too long for him. Unstoppable U is going to see pace pressure from Union Rags among others. Unstoppable U will have the lead for about a mile but will not be a factor when the winner crosses the finish line.

3. Union Rags (6-1) [9-2]- Union Rags has gotten himself into trouble. In his Kentucky Derby prep, the Florida Derby he never really had a chance to run and the Kentucky Derby was a complete debacle as he ended up finish seventh. Trained by Michael Matz and ridden for the first time by John Velasquez, Union Rags is in the perfect spot to get the perfect trip he has desired all year. Ideally, Union Rags will sit in a comfortable spot in second right off of Unstoppable U. This makes Union Rags the most dangerous threat to I'll Have Another's Triple Crown attempt. Union Rags has run at Belmont Park once and romped in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes as a 2 year old. Union Rags gets the services of John Velasquez who will put him in a position to win the race. Union Rags should not have a problem with the 1 1/2 distance and when they turn for home he will be the horse the rest of the field will have to catch. 

4. Atigun (30-1) [25-1]- Atigun also comes from the barn of Ken McPeek. Atigun may be the more fancied of the two. Atigun was on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year by way of Arkansas. Atigun was a non factor in the Rebel Stakes or the Arkansas Derby. Atigun was successful in his last start, an allowance race at Churchill Downs. The problem with Atigun is that he has struggled in high quality races, and the Belmont is certainly a high quality horse race. Atigun will be towards the back of the pack, and does not have the kick to win the race. He should be able to handle the 1 1/2 which will put him in the top half of the running order, but Atigun is not good enough to hit the board. 

5. Dullahan (5-1) [7-2]- Dullahan is widely regarded as the most likely Belmont Stakes winner if I'll Have Another falters. Dullahan seemed to prove in the Kentucky Derby that he handles dirt. Dullahan is trained by Dale Romans and will be ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano. Dullahan is a closer as well, but I expect him to be closer to I'll Have Another in the Belmont Stakes. Dullahan will have to pass both Union Rags and I'll Have Another in the Belmont, a task I do not think that he will be able to accomplish. Dullahan is fresh, and Castellano is riding better than anyone in the country, but I think Dullahan still has to prove he is a capable dirt horse away from Churchill Downs, and for this reason I will look elsewhere in the Belmont Stakes. 

6.  Ravelo's Boy (50-1) [75-1]- Ravelo's Boy comes into the Belmont Stakes off a layoff. In his last race he was a non-factor in the Tampa Bay Derby a race that has produced very little. Ravelo's Boy has been over matched in his stakes appearances and will be over matched in the Belmont Stakes. Some horses have won the Belmont Stakes unexpectedly ,but this horse would be an absolute shock. He will have the services of the veteran Alex Solis but that will not be enough to make Ravelo's Boy a factor in the third leg of the Triple Crown.

7. Five Sixteen (50-1) [50-1]- Five Sixteen will be bet below his morning line for one reason, his jockey, Rosie Napravnik, the popular female jockey. Rosie became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks five weeks ago and will attempt to become the second female jockey to win the Belmont Stakes, but it will not happen. Five Sixteen was a non-factor last time out in an Aqueduct allowance race. This race is a major step up in class, and Five Sixteen will not be up to the task. 

8. Guyana Star Dweej (50-1) [60-1]- Guyana Star Dweej is simply over matched. Guyana Star Dweej is coming out of the same allowance race Unstoppable U was victorious in. Guyana Star Dweej was not finishing particularly well when he finished second in that race. I believe the 1 ½ miles will not suit him well. The class of the race will also get in the way of Guyana Star Dweej big to win the Belmont, who is not good enough to win this race.  Guyana Star Dweej gets the services of Belmont Stakes winning jockey Kent Desormeaux, but it will not matter. 

9. Paynter (8-1) [10-1]- Paynter is trained by Bob Baffert, ridden by Mike Smith, and owned by Ahmad Zayat, the same exact connections as Bodemeister. These connections will take their third crack at I'll Have Another but this time with a different horse. Paynter comes off an easy win at Pimlico on Preakness Day. The race was visually impressive, as Paynter was too good for that field. Paynter has been unsuccessful in his two stakes tries but for good reason. Paynter stepped into the Santa Anita Derby off a maiden win and ran very well to finish fourth. Paynter then ran in the Derby Trial and ran a good second at one turn. Back to two turns at Pimlico he was dominant. Paynter is a very dangerous horse to I'll Have Another's quest simply because of his connections and the fact that he is improving every single race. Watch Out.

10. Optimizer (20-1) [15-1]- Optimizer is trained by legendary D. Wayne Lukas and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani. Optimizer has run in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and has been a relative non-factor. Optimizer is bred to run a 1 ½  miles but the problem is he is bred to run 1 ½  on the turf. Optimizer has been relatively ineffective on the dirt and has been better on turf and synthetic. He is by English Channel who won the Breeders Cup Turf at the Belmont Distance but it was on the lawn. Optimizer will relish the distance so he will be in the top half of the race but is simply not good enough to win or even hit the board in the Belmont Stakes 

11. I'll Have Another (4-5) [1-1]-  I'll Have Another has the opportunity to make history in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Following thrilling victories in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, I'll Have Another is on the cusp of becoming the 12th  horse to win the Triple Crown,  and the first since 1978. I'll Have Another is trained by Doug O'Neil and ridden by the young and inexperienced Mario Gutierrez. I'll Have Another could not have drawn better in the 11 post. Gutierrez will be able to watch the race unfold to his inside and will be able to stay outside of all of the traffic. He should get a good stalking trip and turning for home will have no excuses. The question will be, can I'll Have Another catch Union Rags and Paynter, and then hold off Dullahan and Street Life? I'll Have Another will be the focal point of the nation’s attention on Saturday. He has been perfect this year, but I have yet to pick I'll Have Another in the Triple Crown and that will not change Saturday. 

12. My Adonis (20-1) [30-1]- My Adonis is an up and down sort of horse. Trained by Kelly Breen and owned by George and Lori Hall who owned Ruler on Ice the winner of the Belmont Stakes last year. My Adonis began the year by running strong races in both the Holy Bull and the Gotham Stakes, but followed that up by two disappointing efforts. My Adonis will follow I'll Have Another into position and should have a good opportunity to run. My Adonis could very well jump up and run a big race but he is too unpredictable to put my trust in. 

1. Union Rags
2. I'll Have Another
3. Street Life

I hope I'll Have Another wins on Saturday. I will be rooting for him, but based on my knowledge I believe Union Rags will win the Belmont Stakes. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Breeders Cup needs Black Caviar and Frankel

Horse Racing is a global sport and unbelievably does not revolve around the United States. Black Caviar and Frankel are the best horses in the world. Both are undefeated and dominate in their divisions in their respective countries. The great thing for the United States is that the Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships already has the divisions in place for these horse. The Breeders Cup Mile or Classic would suit Frankel perfectly and the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint would more than suit Black Caviar. The Breeders Cup is a long way away but they need to recruit these two horses now because, yes bringing I'll Have Another to the Classic would be exciting, but what horse racing thrives off of is global stars. Black Caviar must be the first priority. The mare has Zenyatta status in Australia and is gaining notoriety in the United States. I think the Breeders Cup must do whatever they need to do to get this mare to the United States. If I were in charge of the Breeders Cup here is what I would do. I would raise the purse of the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint to $3,000,000 this would attract turf sprinters from all over the world as well as being more intriguing for Black Caviar. I would also provide a prep race at Santa Anita with a significant purse to attract Black Caviar to the United States for two races. This would also allow the super-mare to be on her game come Breeders Cup day. Lastly I would move the Turf sprint back in the race order so that it would be aired on the same broadcast as the Breeders Cup Classic. This mare has is at all. She is really fast. She would bring an audience from all over the world including her massive following in Australia. The Turf Sprint with the addition of Black Caviar would share the spotlight with the Breeders Cup Classic. Frankel is the most electrifying horse in the world. His talent and grace  makes him a superstar. He is, like Black Caviar, undefeated, and would provide a spark to the Breeders Cup Classic or the Mile. Another horse to watch would be Camelot, Camelot is undefeated following his Investec Darby win this morning. This is hypothetical and a long way away but the Breeders Cup Classic could contain two Triple Crown winners, I'll Have Another and Camelot which would make the Breeders Cup Classic the best race in decades. Simply put the Breeders Cup is a World Thoroughbred Championships and to fulfill that name they need to bring the best horses from around the world and right now some of the best horses in the world are running outside of the United States.