Friday, June 6, 2014

The 146th Belmont Stakes Selections and Analysis

Belmont Stakes Blog

At 6:52 PM on Saturday, post time for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, all eyes will be on California Chrome, who is bidding to become the 12th Triple Crown champion in the history of the series. After decisive victories in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, California Chrome will be the overwhelming favorite to triumph in the 1-½ miles test.  Since 1978 when Affirmed became the 11th horse to win each jewel of the Triple Crown, there have been eleven horses, like California Chrome, who have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and failed to win the Belmont Stakes. They key number for California Chrome is 12. California Chrome will either become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, or the 12th horse since Affirmed to fail with one race remaining.

There are ten colts looking to ruin California Chrome’s bid, led by Wicked Strong, fourth in the GI Kentucky Derby and winner of the GI Wood Memorial Stakes; Ride on Curlin, second in the GI Preakness Stakes; and Tonalist, winner of the GII Peter Pan Stakes last time out.  Fringe contenders include Medal Count, Commanding Curve, Samraat, Commissioner, and General a Rod. If either Matuszak or Matterhorn win, I would be shocked.

Selections for the 146th Belmont Stakes

1.     #2 California Chrome (3-5)
2.     #1 Medal Count (20-1)
3.     #8 Commissioner  (20-1)

I love California Chrome. I believe he has the running style, with tactical speed to get a good trip, even from the #2 starting gate. I believe General a Rod and Samraat will both show early speed and I expect California Chrome to sit right off of those two. Turning for home I fully expect California Chrome to be in the lead with every chance to win the Belmont Stakes. Underneath California Chrome I like two horses at longer prices to complete the trifecta.

#1 Medal Count is a major threat to California Chrome and at 20-1 I love him to finish in the top 3.  Medal Count had a very rough trip in the GI Kentucky Derby last time out when he finished 8th. Medal Count is by Dynaformer, who is also sire of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, as well as the 2010 GI Melbourne Cup Americain. The Melbourne Cup is the greatest horserace in Australia and is contested over 2 miles.  Dynaformer has also sired many top long distance grass horses as well as quality dirt horses.  With that being said, Medal Count should have absolutely no problem with the Belmont distance. While he has yet to run his best race on dirt, I am willing to look past that at 20-1. Combined with a poor trip in the Derby and breeding that will suit the distance, I believe Medal Count is a serious contender in the Belmont Stakes.  

#8 Commissioner is another horse that at 20-1 has a lot to prove in the Belmont Stakes.  Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, Commissioner comes into the Belmont Stakes off of a second place in the GII Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park behind Tonalist. Commissioner was at a time thought to be a serious contender on the Kentucky Derby trail, but after a series of bad efforts he was withdrawn from consideration. After being briefly freshened, Commissioner was a decent second behind Tonalist in the slop in the Peter Pan. The appeal with Commissioner is his breeding. Commissioner is by Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, who is by Belmont Stakes winner Seattle Slew. Commissioner’s dam, Flaming Heart, is by a Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. Needless to say Commissioner was bred to successfully complete the Belmont Stakes distance of 1 ½ miles. While Commissioner will need to take a step up talent wise, he should get a great trip and with the connections and breeding in his corner, Commissioner is worth a shot at 20-1. 

#11 Tonalist is the horse I am most worried about to overtake California Chrome. He has the most talent except for California Chrome, and was very impressive last time out when he scored decisively in the GII Peter Pan Stakes. My greatest concern regarding Tonalist is the distance. Based on his pedigree and the light seasoning he has, I believe the Belmont distance will be too much for him to overcome, but if he does he is the main threat.

#9 Wicked Strong is the most popular horse being picked to upset California Chrome. Wicked Strong ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby with a rough trip. Prior to the Derby, Wicked Strong closed with a flurry to win the GI Wood Memorial Stakes. I am taking a stand against Wicked Strong, mostly because of his breeding. Wicked Strong is by Hard Spun who faded in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Wicked Strong has a powerful closing kick, but I believe the Belmont Stakes distance will negate his closing kick.

#4 Commanding Curve was second in the Kentucky Derby and #5 Ride on Curlin was second in Preakness Stakes, but I believe neither will be able to reproduce their closing kicks in the Belmont Stakes.

Although it is the most difficult race of the three and particularly challenging for the favorite, I am cheering for California Chrome to make history on Saturday and I believe he will.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Preakness Selections

Today's 139th Preakness Stakes is all about the Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.  The Preakness should have a different pace situation than the Kentucky Derby with many horses that are capable of flashing early speed. General a Rod, California Chrome, Ring Weekend, Bayern, Social Inclusion, and Pablo del Monte all possess the ability to show early speed.  The presence of a hot early pace should benefit a closer like Kid Cruz. California Chrome is undoubtedly the horse to beat as he continues on his journey to be the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown. My selections are below.

Preakness Selections
1. California Chrome
2. Kid Cruz
3. Social Inclusion

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Instead of Kentucky Derby Blog...A 19 year old perspective

Instead of Kentucky Derby Blog

The link below contains the article that I will be discussing the blog post below.

For the last three years I have done a Kentucky Derby blog with an analysis of every horse, and at the end I made selections. I can tell you I like California Chrome to win, he is the best horse in the race and is an extremely exciting prospect. I like three horses; Intense Holiday, Ride on Curlin, and Commanding Curve to run in the money behind him.

This year is different. As a nineteen year old in the racing industry I felt a responsibility to share my opinion on the recent developments in the racing industry regarding Churchill Downs. At times, the Thoroughbred Industry can be too negative. I am not attempting to attack Churchill Downs. What I am trying to do, is provide a perspective from a young racing enthusiast, in the hopes of making drastic positive changes in the future. 

I have wanted to train racehorses since I learned how to say “I want to train racehorses.” I have always dreamt of one day hoisting the Kentucky Derby trophy above my head, and having a horse I trained and cared for winning the Run for the Roses. As I grew up and matured, I learned that the racing industry was not perfect, and until about a year ago I can firmly say I was in denial. As a young person with a passion for one thing and one thing only, I could not wrap my mind around the fact that there were so many problems in the sport I so dearly loved. I followed every single horse that ran in graded stakes racing with such focus that I never focused on industry issues. I celebrated Zenyatta but ignored drug violations.

This year I have a different perspective. My dream is still to put the Kentucky Derby trophy above my head, but I want it to be in a better sport, with better leadership. Recent letters by Rick Porter and Ron Turcotte in regards to the blatant disrespect Churchill Downs has shown them have infuriated me and I cannot help but share my opinion. 

 I was not alive when Secretariat crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs in 1973 with Ron Turcotte aboard, but that was one of the races I grew up watching. Secretariat is the most well known racehorse in North American history, and that would not be possible without Ron Turcotte. Many well respected members of the industry have not been surprised by the disrespect Churchill Downs has shown. This is the saddest aspect of the whole story. How is it not surprising that a legendary jockey in a WHEELCHAIR due to a racing accident is treated so poorly by Churchill Downs? Did everyone know that Churchill Downs was like this? Maybe it is my fault for not opening my ears and digging deeper, but I could not fathom this. Churchill Downs should not only be treating Run Turcotte up to par, but they should be treating Ron Turcotte like royalty. It appears that Ron Turcotte has done more for Churchill Downs than Churchill Downs has ever done for him. Last year, Ron Turcotte was not able to find a seat at Churchill Downs, instead he was stuck unable to watch a race he loved. And then I remembered seating was not the only issue, it was also parking. Churchill Downs would not provide free, or cheap parking (Ron Turcotte should NEVER have to pay for parking at a racetrack) to Ron Turcotte. One handicapping space should not be about affordability it should be about doing the right thing. 

Rick Porter opened up the conversation when he wrote an open letter to Churchill in which he stated that he could not get two seats, as an owner of a horse in a $300,000 race. The race is on the undercard of the Kentucky Oaks, and by itself this letter was infuriating. As someone who is trying to make my way in the industry, this kind of treatment towards owners is both disconcerting and scary. My future livelihood is going to rely on new and enthusiastic owners. If arguably the most well known track in the country is going to treat one of the most well known owners in the country with the disrespect shown to Mr. Porter by denying him two tickets, why would any owner consider getting involved in the sport?

What the NBA is going through right now, Donald Sterling's controversial and despicable comments are the biggest story in sports right now. The NBA has dealt with a potentially disastrous situation to its league's reputation but because of being one united league with a strong commissioner the NBA was able to ban that man from ever attending or participating in the NBA again. With the addition of a racing league or a commissioner, which so many within the industy are so desperately crying out for, racing would be better suited to deal with mishaps and crisis, like the NBA did, with strong leadership. 

The youth in racing is the future of racing; I believe in thoroughbred racing and its future, and I still believe in Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs is bigger and better than this sort of petty behavior, and if they take the necessary steps in the future, Churchill Downs has the ability to lead this industry in the right direction. 

Corbin Blumberg 
Freshman, University of Kentucky 
Equine Science and Management 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #4

After a few weeks off due to travel and exams, I am updating my Kentucky Derby Top 20. The biggest news since the last list is that Honor Code, the former number 1, was first defeated in his return to the races and then was removed from the Kentucky Derby trail with a suspensory injury. Last week, We Miss Artie captured the GIII Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in a thrilling stretch run to punch his hole to the Kentucky Derby, as did Chitu who captured the GIII Sunland Derby.

This upcoming week features three huge races leading to the Kentucky the GI Florida Derby, the GII Louisiana Derby, and the GI UAE Derby in Dubai. Surely following this week there will be plenty of shake up in the list.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 3/26/2014

1. Intense Holiday- Number 1 by default after defections of Honor Code and Top Billing, but runs in Louisiana Derby this weekend.
2. Cairo Prince- Runs in Florida Derby on Saturday against a very talented field, but does not need to win, will most likely be number 1 next week. McLaughlin seems very confident.
3. California Chrome- Super impressive in San Felipe, and future wager favorite, but still want to see him tested.
4. Samraat- Last round of prep races key for all of these, but undefeated New York bred will be tested again in the Wood Memorial.
5. Hoppertunity- Ran huge in the Rebel, proving he can run with top guns, should only improve.
6. Tapiture- Had a bad trip in the Rebel and still ran very big, and he always fires, I just believe Hoppertunity has a higher ceiling.
7. In Trouble- Entered in Louisiana Derby, will go either there or in the Wood Memorial, he should improve in either race he runs in.
8. Social Inclusion- Crushed Honor Code and run huge Beyer, but I still have questions, especially if he is headed.
9. Candy Boy- Has not run in a long time and the Santa Anita Derby will be a giant test for him
10. Ring Weekend- Will take the Calder Derby path, unusual but could be very effective for the speedy gelding
11. Uncle Sigh
12. Bobby's Kitten
13. General a Rod
14. Wildcat Red
15. Chitu
16. Ride on Curlin
17. Albano
18. Vicar's in Trouble
19. We miss Artie
20. Tonalist

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #3

This week will see the biggest shake up so far in the Derby Top 20. The largest change comes with the news that last weeks number 1, Top Billing has been injured and is off the Kentucky Derby Trail. That leaves a major void on the derby trail, but there were many impressive performances this week. In the GII San Felipe S. at Santa Anita California Chrome destroyed the field, stamping himself as the top contender in California. In Florida, Ring Weekend threw his name into the hat of contenders by running the field in the Tampa Bay Derby off their feet in an impressive score. This weekend the only major Derby prep occurs in Arkansas for the GII Rebel S. which is expected to feature major Derby contenders Tapiture, Kobe's Back and Strong Mandate. Another race of interest is the 8th race on Wednesday at Gulfstream Park an allowance race which features the return of Honor Code in his first race of 2014.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 3/11/14

1. Honor Code- Jumps to number 1, because I like the spot McGaughey found for 2014 return
2. Intense Holiday- Still a believer in this horse, just could not put him at number 1 just yet
3. Cairo Prince- Haven't cooled on him either, but is still weeks away until the Florida Derby
4. California Chrome- By far the biggest jump because his victory this past weekend was VERY impressive, took pressure and kicked on he is a serious contender
5. Samraat- Honor Code is expected to be pointed to Wood Memorial, will be a huge test for this horse
6. In Trouble- Not ready to move him down yet, I was wowed by his grit first time off the layoff
7. Strong Mandate- Rebel this weekend will sort out the charge from Arkansas
8. Tapiture- Will likely be favorite in the Rebel off of his Southwest victory
9. Candy Boy- Santa Anita Derby test vs. California Chrome will really tell how good he is
10. Ring Weekend- Not sure what he beat but he crushed them, very impressively at that
11. Uncle Sigh
12. General a Rod
13. Wildcat Red
14. Bayern
15. Mexikoma
16. Kobe's Back
17. Hoppertunity
18. Midnight Hawk
19. Conquest Titan
20. Albano

Friday, March 7, 2014

Saturday Stakes Races 3-8-2014

This Saturday features superb racing from Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs, and Gulfstream Park. 

Santa Anita plays host to the GI $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap which features the top two finishers from the Breeders Cup Classic in November, Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. Last years Santa Anita Handicap winner, the always tough Game on Dude, will also be a major player. The undercard to the Big Cap features three very deep graded stakes races including the GI $350,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, and the GII $300,000 San Felipe a Kentucky Derby Prep race worth 50 points to the winner. 

Tampa Bay Downs has its biggest racing day of the year on Saturday featuring the GII $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby as well as two graded stakes race on the turf proceeding it. At Gulfstream Park the feature is the GII $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap featuring the return of the 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. Below are my selections for all of the graded stakes races around the country. 

Good luck!

Santa Anita 

Race 9 GI $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap
1. Will Take Charge (2-1)
2. Mucho Macho Man (9-5)
3. Game on Dude (5-2)

In the Big Cap I think there is a strong possibility of Mucho Macho Man going after Game on Dude early, setting the race up for Will Take Charge. Game on Dude has yet to prove he can beat horses with the talent and quality such as Will Take Charge or Mucho Macho Man, and he also may have lost a step with age. I still believe Will Take Charge was the best horse in the Classic, and I expect him to run down Mucho Macho Man, at a distance that suits him perfectly. This instant classic airs on Fox Sports 1 at 7PM EST time. 

Race 8 GI 350,00 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes
1. Suggestive Boy (6-1)
2. Za Approval (3-1)
3. Winning Prize (7-2) 

Suggestive Boy won this race in 2013 before being sidelined. He returned last month and ran an even fifth off of the eleven month layoff. I believe Suggestive Boy, is the most talented horse in the race and he should improve greatly in his second start off the layoff. Za Approval has shown he loves the course at Santa Anita running a massive race to finish behind horse of the year Wise Dan in the Breeders Cup Mile, but he has not run since that effort. While he could certainly win, since Suggestive Boy has the race underneath him, he will be a little sharper. Winning Prize was very impressive in winning the Grade II Arcadia last month defeating many of these but the going gets much tougher here. 

Race 7 GII $250,000 San Carlos Stakes 
1. Big Macher (6-1)
2. Shakin it Up (3-1)
3. Sahara Sky (4-1)

With a race that seems to have very little speed, I searched for a horse that has speed and Big Macher fit the bill. Big Macher is coming off a stakes win against California bred runners, but he should be able to compete with these.  The most talented horse in the race is Sahara Sky, but his last race off the layoff was nothing to get excited about. If Sahara Sky runs back to his form of last year he should win this race. 

Race 5 GII $300,000 San Felipe Stakes
1. Kristo (4-1)
2. California Chrome (3-1)
3.  Midnight Hawk (4-1)

With the scratch of the morning line favorite Bayern, It really opens the race up. I like Kristo because he continues to improve, I am not sure he wants to go far enough, but with the way the race shapes up and Rosario on board he has a serious chance. 

Tampa Bay Downs

Race 11 GII $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby
1. Hy Kodiak Warrior (10-1)
2. Conquest Titan (7-2)
3. Ring Weekend (15-1)

I am Top Billing believer, and Hy Kodiak Warrior comes out of an allowance race at Gulfstream Park won by Commissioner, and Top Billing was second. Top Billing and Commissioner both ran in the Fountain of Youth two weeks ago with Top Billing running a very good third. Hy Kodiak Warrior has yet to run a bad race, and I do not believe this rendition of the Tampa Bay Derby is particularly strong.  Conquest Titan is the most proven of the bunch, but he will need a good trip coming from the back and he is a short price. 

Race 10 GIII $200,000 Florida Oaks 
1. Kitten Kaboodle (8-1)
2. Testa Rossi (2-1)
3. Interrupted (15-1)

Race 9 GIII $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes
1. Riposte (2-1)
2. Cloud Scapes (9-2)
3. Waterway Run (7-2) 

Gulfstream Park 

GII $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap
1. Golden Ticket (5-1)
2. Palace Malice (5-2)
3. Brujo De Olleros (6-1) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #2

The major Kentucky Derby prep race last weekend took place at Aqueduct in the GIII $500,000 Gotham Stakes. The top three finishers of the the thrilling race are all expected to return in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. This upcoming weekend features the GII Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, and the GII San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, both should have a profound impact on the road to the Kentucky Derby. This week on my Top 20 list, the biggest jump will be made by In Trouble, who ran a gutsy third in the Gotham off a significant layoff, I look for him to improve significantly in the Wood Memorial. I have removed Shared Belief from the list, because I have not seen enough in terms of work that would give him a realistic shot of making the Kentucky Derby, especially with 0 points. Havana has also been removed due to his battle with a quarter crack forcing him out of the GII Swale Stakes at Gulfstream last weekend.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 3/4/2014

1. Top Billing- Still believe he is a true Derby horse, hope he gets away from Gulfstream
2. Intense Holiday- Distance will not be a problem, Risen Star victory impresses me every time I watch it
3. Honor Code- Has some points from two year old season, but a first or second in the Rebel would leave McGaughey with more options down the road.
4. Cairo Prince- Purchased by Godolphin, which seems to be an encouraging sign
5. Samraat- Remained undefeated in gutsy Gotham victory, love his tactical speed.
6. In Trouble- Absolutely loved his Gotham performance, off the layoff down on the inside never gave in, should only improve off of that effort.
7. Strong Mandate- Rebel will be a serious test, whether he is worthy of this spot.
8. Tapiture- Perfect trip in Southwest led to victory, but it was a good performance
9. Candy Boy- Best 3yo on West Coast as of now, San Felipe should be tougher test
10. Uncle Sigh- I am a big believe in the Gotham, which could come back to bite me, but these are tough horses.
11. Bayern
12. Conquest Titan
13. Mexikoma
14. General A Rod
15. Wildcat Red
16. California Chrome
17. Kobe's Back
18. Albano
19. Midnight Hawk
20. Chitu

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kentucky Derby 140 Top 20 #1

The first major round of prep races took place last weekend, and with that it is time for my initial top 20 for the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 2/24/2014

1. Top Billing-Really impressed me in FOY against a strong bias should move forward
2. Intense Holiday- Loved his Risen Star victory, closed relentlessly distance will not be a problem
3. Honor Code- Reports are he is working well, clearly very talented.
4. Cairo Prince- Holy Bull win was impressive, but I don't like the 9 week break prior to Fla. Derby
5. Strong Mandate- Had a very wide trip in Southwest and showed new dimension sitting off, should only improve off that effort.
6. Samraat- Huge fan of his, Gotham HUGE test this weekend
7. Tapiture- Ran huge in the Southwest, but had a perfect trip, expect tougher test in the Rebel
8. Candy Boy- Professional in most recent win, but not sure about the quality of the field.
9. Tonalist- Serious contender in the final round of prep races, taken out of his element in last start, a real threat to improve.
10. Bayern- Really powerful allowance win tested in next
11. Shared Belief
12. Conquest Titan
13. Mexikoma
14. General a Rod
15. Wildcat Red
16. California Chrome
17. Havana
18. Albano
19. Hoppertunity
20. Commissioner