Pacific Classic Day – Stakes Selections with Suggested Plays


AUG 16: Quip with trainer Rudolphe Brisset gallops in preparation for the Pacific Classic at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, California on August 16, 2019. Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

This year’s Pacific Classic does not look to be a forgone conclusion like we’ve seen in recent memory, which makes it an attractive betting race.  Seeking the Soul has been instilled as the 3/1 ML favorite coming off a G1 win in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.  While we may not see life changing paydays on this card, I do believe there is some value to be found and i’ll look to capitalize on that.

Race 10 – Pacific Classic(G1) Post Time – 6:30 PM
Purse $1,000,000. For Three-Year Olds And Upward. One and One Fourth Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 War Story (KY) 7/G L T J Pereira 124 J Navarro 8/1
2 Quip (KY) 4/C L F Geroux 124 R Brisset 9/2
3 Pavel (KY) 5/H L M Gutierrez 124 D F O’Neill 7/2
4 For the Top (ARG) 4/C L M Garcia 124 B Baffert 12/1
5 Seeking the Soul (KY) 6/H L J R Velazquez 124 D Stewart 3/1
6 Higher Power (KY) 4/C L F Prat 124 J W Sadler 8/1
7 Tenfold (KY) 4/C L M E Smith 124 S M Asmussen 8/1
8 Campaign (KY) 4/C L R Bejarano 124 J W Sadler 6/1
9 Mongolian Groom (KY) 4/G L A Cedillo 124 E Ganbat 20/1
10 Draft Pick (KY) 4/C L J Talamo 124 P Eurton 20/1


 Race 3 Green Flash H. (G3) Post Time – 3:06 PM

#5 Eddie Haskell (9-5)

#3 Undrafted (5-1)

#2 Stormy Liberal (8-5)

 Race 7 Del Mar H. (G2) Post Time – 5:10 PM

#6 The Great Day (Arg) (5-2))

#4 Marckie’s Water (7-2)

#7 Itsinthepost (Fr) (7-2)

Race 8 Torrey Pines S. (G3) Post Time – 5:40 PM

#7 Fighting Mad (5-2)

#3 Classic Fit (3-1)

#1 Into Chocolate (10-1)

 Race 9 Del Mar Oaks (G1) Post Time – 6:10 PM

#1 Cambier Parc (5-2)

#11 Lady Prancealot (8-1)

#8 Apace Princess (10-1)

 Race 10 Pacific Classic (G1) Post Time – 6:43 PM

#8 Campaign (6-1)

#2 Quip (9-2)

#5 Seeking the Soul (3-1)

Suggested Plays

Race 7

$1 Trifecta

6 w 4,7 w ALL = $10

$1 Trifecta

6 w ALL w 4,7 = $10

Race 8

$5 Exacta Key Box

7 w 1,3 = $20

Race 9

$3 Exacta  Box

1,8,11 = $18

$5 Double

1,8,11 w 2,8 = $30

Race 10

$10 WPS

#8 Campaign

Bonus Play: $.50 Late Pick 5 (Races 7-11)

4,6,7,9 w 1,3,7 w 1,11 w 2,8 w 1,7,8,10,14 = $120 (Big Budget)

4,6 w 1,3,7 w 1 w 2,5,8 w 1,7,8,10,14 = $45 (Small Budget)

*Updated for scratches

Good luck!

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Chad Brown, ladies rule day at Arlington, Saratoga


August 10, 2019 : Sistercharlie (left), ridden by John Velasquez, wins the Beverly D. Stakes during Arlington Million Day at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

As the 2019 Breeders’ Cup draws nearer with each passing day, the fall racing calendar sees an uptick in high-profile races across the country as the best in the sport strut their stuff in search of automatic qualifying bids and tune ups for their respective division championships. The various conditions of stakes races offered also gives trainers a chance to flex their muscles, evaluate their barns and put fellow conditioners on alert.
Got Stormy used Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap to do the former.
Chad Brown certainly used Saturday’s Arlington Park card to do the latter.
According to most bettors and analysts, a filly was supposed to win the Fourstardave. To borrow from a common refrain regarding trainers heard around the track, it was the other filly who stormed home to victory.
While the field of ten let Todd Pletcher’s Gidu open a double-digit length lead and set blistering fractions of :22.65 and :44.61 through the opening half-mile, Got Stormy was content to sit in mid-pack under Ricardo Santana, Jr. and let the leader tire out before turning on the jets inside the final furlong. She surged past Gidu before overtaking Made You Look with a sixteenth of a mile to run and won by two-and-a-half lengths despite late charges from Raging Bull and Uni, the second-choice and favorite, respectively, on the tote board.
Aided Gidu’s blazing early pace, Got Stormy – who’s sire Get Stormy won this race in 2010 – was able to set a new track record, covering the one-mile contest in 1:32 flat. Her victory gave Mark Casse his second Fourstardave victory following World Approval in 2017 as Got Stormy became the first filly or mare to enter the winner’s circle as victor in the race’s history.
The win also punched her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November.
With a quartet of graded stakes featuring the 37th running of the Arlington Million, Brown was able to pull off a four-for-four sweep of the day’s action at the suburban Chicago track.
To kick things off, Irish-bred Sistercharlie pulled clear for a three-length victory in a track record time of 1:52.43 to repeat in the Beverly D. Stakes to punch her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and become the first two-time winner of the race. It was the fifth straight visit to the Beverly D. winner’s circle for Brown, who also captured the 2011 edition. After settling towards the rear of the field through the early going, jockey John Velazquez began urging the bay mare and she responded immediately with a prolonged run off the turn before cruising past her rivals in the stretch with little urging from Velazquez.
The win marked the fifth straight Grade 1 victory for the daughter of Myboycharlie, who is following the exact same prep schedule she used in 2018 – wins in the Diana and Beverly D. Stakes – before capturing the Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs.
Brown, who captured the 2017 Arlington Million with Beach Patrol and brought back 2018 victor Robert Bruce for this year’s race, gave himself a trump card with heavyweight Bricks and Mortar as he sought his third straight Million crown. This year’s race drew the attention of several European raiders, including a pair from stalwart Aidan O’Brien: Magic Wand, who was scratched out of the Beverly D. in favor of a chance at glory here, and Hunting Horn, a winner in the Group 3 Hampton Court at Royal Ascot last year.
Despite a valiant effort by Magic Wand, who didn’t see Hunting Horn become the rabbit he was expected to be yet still held on for second, it was Bricks and Mortar who showed his superior class as he earned his sixth straight victory dating to December 2018 – including four Grade 1 triumphs – and earned a spot in the starting gate for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.
A projected finalist for horse of the year at this point of the season, his five-for-five start to 2019 has come at five different tracks covering eight- to ten-furlongs and over surfaces ranging from yielding (G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational) to good (G1 Old Forester Turf Classic) to firm (G1 Manhattan Stakes).
Brown’s other victories at the track came from Valid Point in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes and Café Americano in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes. He also became the first trainer to sweep all four graded stakes on the Arlington Million card.
While other divisions may be lacking for star power or a clear leader to emerge, there’s no doubt the turf divisions will shine throughout the fall racing season.

Belmont Stakes – Stakes Selections with Suggested Plays


Secretariat Monument Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day on June 11, 2011. Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day on June 11, 2011.

Hard to believe Triple Crown season is already winding down!  Its been and interesting year considering we have no Triple Crown on the line.  From the Derby DQ to Bodexpress running the Preakness on his own accord without a jockey, it’s been wild.  What will the Belmont have in store?  Here are my plays for Saturday’s card.

 Race 3 Easy Goer S. Post Time – 12:47 PM

#4 Outshine (9-5)

#5 Majid (6-1)

#6 Alwaysmining (6-5)

 Race 4 Longines Just a Game S. (G1) Post Time – 1:22 PM

#7 Got Stormy (6-1)

#4 Rushing Fall (4-5)

#3 Beau Recall (4-1)

Race 5 Ogden Phipps S. (G1) Post Time – 2:01 PM

#2 Midnight Bisou (1-1)

#3 Pacfic Wind (12-1)

#1 Come Dancing (6-5)

 Race 6 Jaipur Invitational S. (G1) Post Time – 2:41 PM

#8 World of Trouble (1-1)

#2 Om (8-1)

#6 Disco Partner (3-1)

 Race 7 Acorn S. (G1) Post Time – 3:22 PM

#7 Guarana (2-1)

#9 Ce Ce (9-2)

#3 Cookie Dough (6-1)

 Race 8 Woody Stephens S. (G1) Post Time – 4:04 PM

#1 Honest Mischief (6-1)

#6 Nitrous (10-1)

#9 Mind Control (5-2)

Race 9 Runhappy Metropolitan H. (G1) Post Time – 4:46 PM

#1 Coal Front (6-1)

#3 Mitole (3-1)

#4 Thunder Snow (5-1)

 Race 10 Manhattan S. (G1) Post Time – 5:36 PM

#1 Raging Bull (10-1)

#8 Bricks and Mortar (7-5)

#10 Channel Maker (9-2)

Race 11 – Belmont Stakes (G1) Post Time – 6:37 PM
Purse $1,500,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Half Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Joevia (KY) 3/C L J Lezcano 126 G D Sacco 30/1
2 Everfast (KY) 3/C L L Saez 126 D L Romans 12/1
3 Master Fencer (JPN) 3/C J R Leparoux 126 K Tsunoda 8/1
4 Tax (KY) 3/G L I Ortiz, Jr. 126 D Gargan 15/1
5 Bourbon War (KY)  3/C L M E Smith 126 M A Hennig 12/1
6 Spinoff (KY) 3/C L J Castellano 126 T A Pletcher 15/1
7 Sir Winston (KY) 3/C L J Rosario 126 M E Casse 12/1
8 Intrepid Heart (KY) 3/C L J R Velazquez 126 T A Pletcher 10/1
9 War of Will (KY) 3/C L T Gaffalione 126 M E Casse 2/1
10 Tacitus (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 126 W I Mott 9/5

#6 Spinoff (15-1)

#10 Tacitus (9-5)

#7 Sir Winston (12-1)

Race 13 Brooklyn Invitational S. (G2) Post Time – 8:00 PM

#3 Sonneteer (10-1)

#7 You’re to Blame (3-1)

#1 Marconi (9-2)


Suggested Plays

Race 3

$5 Trifecta

4 w 5,6 w 5,6 = $10

$5 Trifecta

4,5 w 4,5 w 6 = $10

Race 4

$1 Trifecta

7 w 3,4 w ALL = $10

$2 Pick 3

3,4,7 w 2,3 w 8 = $12

Race 6

$10 Exacta

8 w 2,6 = $20

$2 Pick 3

8 w 7 w 1,4,6,9 = $8

Race 7

$10 Win

#7 Guarana = $10

$5 GSL

7 w 1 w 1,3,4 w 1 = $15

Race 8

$.50 Pick 4

1,6,9 w 1,2,3,4,6 w 1,8 w 6,7,10 = $45

Race 9

$1 Trifecta

1 w 3,4 w ALL = $14

$1 Trifecta

3,4 w 1 w ALL = $14

Race 10

$.50 Pick 4

1,8 w 6,7,10 w 1,4,10 w 1,3,6,7 = $36

Race 11

$2 Exacta Box

6,7,10 = $12

$5 WPS

#6 Spinoff = $15

Race 13

$1 Trifecta

3 w 1,6,7 w 1,2,6,7,8 = $12

1,6,7 w 3 w 1,2,6,7,8 = $12

Good luck!

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Kentucky Derby 145 – Stakes Selections with Suggested Plays


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – APRIL 30: Scenes from the Post Position Draw for the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on April 30, 2019. Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

We’ve had our hands full in the Watchandwager office this week so I didn’t have time to do full race write-ups, but these are my top three selections for all of the Stake races on Kentucky Derby Saturday. I’ll be rooting for safe trips for all and looking to add a few zeros to my bank account.  Best of luck!

 Race 6 Humana Distaff S. (G1) Post Time – 1:13 PM

#4 Talk Veuve to Me (4-1)

#7 Marley’s Freedom (7-5)

#2 Spiced Perfection (7-2)

 Race 7 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile S. (G2) Post Time – 1:55 PM

#9 Environs (8-1)

#6 Precieuse (3-1)

#8 Got Stormy (8-1)

Race 8 Churchill Downs S. (G1) Post Time – 2:45 PM

#8 Mitole (7-2)

#7 Warrior’s Club (12-1)

#6 Promises Fulfilled (4-1)

 Race 9 American Turf S. (G2) Post Time – 3:37 PM

#5 Seismic Wave (8-1)

#9 War Film (15-1)

#2 Social Paranoia (10-1)

 Race 10 Pat Day Mile S. (G3) Post Time – 4:28 PM

#10 Instagrand (6-5)

#11 Frolic More (20-1)

#14 Last Judgement (5-1)

 Race 11 Old Forester Turf Classic S. (G1) Post Time – 5:25 PM

#8 Breaking the Rules (15-1)

#12 Bricks and Mortar (5-2)

#9 Synchrony (8-1)

 Race 12 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) Post Time – 6:50 PM

Purse $3,000,000. For Three-Year-Olds. One and One Fourth Miles.
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 War of Will (KY) 3/C L T Gaffalione 126 M E Casse 20/1
2 Tax (KY) 3/G L J Alvarado 126 D Gargan 20/1
3 By My Standards (KY) 3/C L G Saez 126 W B Calhoun 20/1
4 Gray Magician (KY) 3/C L D Van Dyke 126 P Miller 50/1
5 Improbable (KY) 3/C L I Ortiz, Jr. 126 B Baffert 6/1
6 Vekoma (KY) 3/C L J Castellano 126 G Weaver 20/1
7 Maximum Security (KY)  3/C L L Saez 126 J Servis 10/1
8 Tacitus (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 126 W I Mott 10/1
9 Plus Que Parfait (KY) 3/R L R Santana, Jr. 126 B P Walsh 30/1
10 Cutting Humor (KY)  3/C L C J Lanerie 126 T A Pletcher 30/1
11 Haikal (KY) 3/C L R Maragh 126 K P McLaughlin 30/1
12 Omaha Beach (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 126 R E Mandella SCR
13 Code of Honor (KY) 3/C L J R Velazquez 126 C R McGaughey III 15/1
14 Win Win Win (FL) 3/C L J Pimentel 126 M J Trombetta 15/1
15 Master Fencer (JPN) 3/C J R Leparoux 126 K Tsunoda 50/1
16 Game Winner (KY)  3/C L J Rosario 126 B Baffert 5/1
17 Roadster (KY) 3/C L F Geroux 126 B Baffert 6/1
18 Long Range Toddy (KY) 3/C L J K Court 126 S M Asmussen 30/1
19 Spinoff (KY) 3/C L M Franco 126 T A Pletcher 30/1
20 Country House (KY)  3/C L F Prat 126 W I Mott 30/1
Also Eligibles:
21 Bodexpress (KY) 3/C L C Landeros 126 G Delgado 30/1

 #5 Improbable (6-1)

#6 Vekoma (20-1)

#17 Roadster (6-1)


Suggested Plays

Race 6

 $10 Exacta

4 w 2,7 = $20

Race 7

 $5 Exacta Box

6,9 = $10

$1 Trifecta

9 w 6,8 w ALL = $16

$1 Pick 3

6,9 w 8 w 2,5,8,9,12 = $15

Race 8

$1 Trifecta

8 w 6,7 w 4,5,6,7,10,12 = $10

 $.50 Pick 5

8 w 2,5,8,9 w 10,14 w 8,12 w 3,5,6,8,14,17 = $48

Race 9

 $2 Exacta Box

2,5,8,9 = $24

Race 10

 $5 Double

10,11,14 w 8 = $15

Race 11

$2 Exacta Key Box

8 w 1,3,6,9,10,12 = $24

Race 12

$.50 Trifecta

5,6 w 3,5,6,8,14,17 w 2,3,5,6,8,10,14,16,17,19,20,21 = $50

Good luck!

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Rebel Winners’ Collide in Arkansas Derby – Stakes Analysis with Suggested Plays


March 16, 2019: Jockey Mike Smith, after winning aboard Omaha Beach, in the second leg of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. ©Justin Manning/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

After a crazy few months of Kentucky Derby prep season, we’ll finally know who’s made it into the 2019 Kentucky Derby field after Saturday. Of course, there will likely be a defection or two in the weeks leading up to the first leg of the Triple Crown, but we can safely begin debating with ourselves and others exactly how we’re going to nail that Derby superfecta this year. This weekends’ Grade 1 Arkansas Derby is the final prep race of the spring and the 1st and 2nd place finishers will likely be guaranteed a spot in the gate.  The disparity in winners this year has created what will likely be a record point minimum needed to get into the Kentucky Derby field.  That means the only horse in this field who has their spot secured is Long Range Toddy who currently sits at #11 on the leaderboard with 53.5 points.  Omaha Beach, Improbable, and Country House all need to run in the trifecta to secure a spot.  The rest of the field needs to run 2nd or better.  The Stakes are higher than ever!

Weather Forecast: Heavy Rains are expected throughout the morning and into the afternoon on Saturday.  I recommend handicapping for an off track.

Race 11 – Arkansas Derby (G1) Post Time – 6:43 PM
Purse $1,000,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Eighth Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Improbable (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 122 B Baffert 8/5
2 Six Shooter (KY) 3/G L D Cohen 122 P E Holthus 30/1
3 Omaha Beach (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 122 R E Mandella 2/1
4 Tikhvin Flew (KY)  3/C L T Baze 118 S M Asmussen 30/1
5 Laughing Fox (KY) 3/C L R Santana, Jr. 118 S M Asmussen 20/1
6 Gray Attempt (KY) 3/C L S Elliott 122 W H Fires 8/1
7 Galilean (CA) 3/C L F Prat 122 J Hollendorfer 10/1
8 Country House (KY)  3/C L J Rosario 118 W I Mott 12/1
9 One Flew South (KY) 3/C L C H Borel 118 D F O’Neill 50/1
10 Jersey Agenda (KY) 3/C L R A Vazquez 118 S M Asmussen 30/1
11 Long Range Toddy (KY) 3/C L J K Court 122 S M Asmussen 5/1

I thought #3 Omaha Beach ran a very game race when he narrowly beat Game Winner last out in the 2nd division of the Rebel Stakes.  I think he improves off that performance and makes it two for two over the Oaklawn surface.  This horse has improved his beyer numbers in every one of his starts.  The son of War Front has already won over a wet surface and he has two bullet works since his Rebel win.  I expect Mike Smith to be very forwardly placed throughout and a he’ll just be too much for the others at the end.

Bob Baffert puts the blinkers on #1 Improbable for the first time, which isn’t a common move from the Hall of Famer, but his numbers are strong when he does it.  The son of City Zip finished 2nd in the first division of the Rebel Stakes last out after being floated wide for pretty much the entirety of the race.  A wide trip should not be an issue in this race with the rail post positioning.  Jose Ortiz has the mount for the first time after the connections decided to replace Drayden Van Dyke.

I have yet to hop on the bandwagon of #7 Galilean, but he did run better than I had expected in last months first division of the Rebel Stakes and I do believe he is an underneath contender in here.  It was just announced earlier this week that Coolmore Stud has bought into the Uncle Mo colt, so they seem to be sold on his capabilities.  Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has decided to take the blinkers off, which I would expect to put him a little further from the pace than he usually is.  We’ll see how the track is playing early in the day, but I would expect Flavien Prat to still be within striking distance and not too far out of it.

#8 Country House shows up in this spot because his connections believe he is a Kentucky Derby caliber horse, but he failed to pick up enough points after running 4th in the Louisiana Derby.  He doesn’t possess a lot of gate speed which has caused him to find traffic in just about all his starts so far.  I don’t expect his running style to change and unless we get a super-hot pace up front, I think it will be too little too late for the Bill Mott trainee.  He does get a rider change from Saez to Rosario and perhaps Joel can get a little more out of him.

Suggested Plays

 Race 11

 $1 Superfectas

 3 w 1 w 7,8 w ALL = $16

3 w 1 w ALL w 7,8 = $16

3 w 7,8 w 1 w ALL = $16

3 w 7,8 w ALL w 1 = $16

Bonus Play: $.50 Pick 4 (Races 9-12)

ALL w 2,4 w 3 w 3,5,6,7,8,10,11 = $63


ALL w 2,4,10 w 1,3 w 3 = $27

Good luck!

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Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes Looks to Have its Say in Crazy Derby Picture – Stakes Analysis with Suggested Plays


Scenes from around the track during Blue Grass Stakes Day on April 16, 2011 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)

As someone who resides in Lexington, Kentucky I can tell you that opening weekend of the Keeneland Spring meet is one of those events you look forward to, but feel as if it’s never going to come. I wouldn’t exactly compare Winter in Kentucky to Antarctica, but it sure does drag on.  The forecast calls for some beautiful weather for opening weekend and you can pair that up with some fantastic racing, a recipe that shouldn’t disappoint.  Saturday’s card is especially good with a total of five Stakes races and is highlighted by the Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.  With the Kentucky Derby just a month away, the Blue Grass is one of the last remaining chances for three-year-old’s to earn their way into the starting gate.  Let’s look the race!

Race 10 – Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) Post Time – 6:23 PM
Purse $1,000,000. For Three-Year Old’s. One and One Eighth Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Somelikeithotbrown (NY) 3/C L T Gaffalione 123 M J Maker 10/1
2 Vekoma (KY) 3/C L J Castellano 123 G Weaver 9/5
3 Signalman (KY) 3/C L B J Hernandez, Jr. 123 K G McPeek 5/1
4 Market King (KY) 3/C L J K Court 123 D W Lukas 20/1
5 Chess Chief (VA) 3/C L P Lopez 123 D Stewart 30/1
6 Dream Maker (KY) 3/C L F Geroux 123 M E Casse 12/1
7 Admire (KY) 3/C L R Albarado 123 D L Romans 15/1
8 Win Win Win (FL) 3/C L I Ortiz, Jr. 123 M J Trombetta 7/2
9 Sir Winston (KY) 3/C L J R Leparoux 123 M E Casse 15/1
10 Lucky Lee (KY) 3/C L C Landeros 123 J C Servis 20/1
11 So Alive (KY) 3/C L L Saez 123 T A Pletcher 15/1
12 Parsimony (PA) 3/C L M Gutierrez 123 D F O’Neill 20/1
13 Moonster (KY) 3/C L J McKee 123 D L Romans 30/1
14 Aquadini (KY) 3/C L C J Lanerie 123 D Stewart 30/1

With such a big field this very well could turn out to be a rider’s race. I would imagine a handful of horses will lose ground going into the first turn and that may end up being enough to cost them a chance at a win.  The horse I like in here and who should not experience any ground loss is #1 Somelikeithotbrown.  This colt comes out of the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park which many view as a “weaker” prep compared to the traditional dirt preps.  I think a mistake many handicappers make is labeling a horse a “dirt” or a “turf” horse early on in their careers.  Just because this horse has done most of his running on turf and synthetic, I still feel it is highly probable he can be just as talented on a dirt surface.  Just look at last weekend’s Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow.  With that said, you should get a fair price on the Mike Maker trainee.  Tyler Gaffalione will have the opportunity to establish a solid early position with the rail post and he can also take back if some of the outside horses send.  Either way he has a strong chance to be there at the end and cash some nice tickets.

#6 Dream Maker is a horse many people are going to toss after the clunker he ran in last month’s Tampa Bay Derby.  He broke poorly that day and never really did any running.  It’s encouraging to see that Mark Casse has clearly not lost any faith in this colt by entering in this spot.  I love the bullet work over the track on March 30th.  If Florent Geroux can find a spot behind the leaders with minimal kickback I think this one could run big.

At odds of 7/2 on the morning-line #8 Win Win Win seems like an underlay, but I do think this horse can make a dent in the exotics.  This colt ran a 99 beyer two back in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay, that is higher than any other horse in this field.  He closed well to pick up 3rd in the Tampa Bay Derby last out and he has two solid works since then.  Irad Ortiz Jr. rides for trainer Michael Trombetta.

The connections of #7 Admire are no stranger to this race.  They were victorious with Brody’s Cause in 2016.  They may find it a little more difficult to find the winners circle with this one, however I think he provides a lot of value to your tickets.  This son of Cairo Prince will need to improve off his last two efforts, where he was a non-threat.  He was 5th in the Grade 3 Withers and 7th in the Tampa Bay Derby.  I used him underneath in both of those races and I want to give him one more chance here.  He’s also the only horse in the field with a win at the one and one eighth mile distance.

Suggested Plays

 Race 10

$13 Win/Place

 #1 Somelikeithotbrown

$2 Exacta Box

 1,6,7,8 = $24

Bonus Play: $400,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 7-10)

11 w 4,5,8,9 w 1,6,7 w 1,2,3,6,7,8,11 = $42


6,9,11 w 9 w 1,6,7 w  1,2,3,6,7,8,11 = $31.50

(With the scratch of Feedback, Imprimis and Shamrock Rose look like the two best single of the sequence in my eyes. Imprimis is 6 for 7 lifetime going five and one half furlongs on the grass.)

Good luck!

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War of Will Looks to Reign Supreme in Louisiana Derby – Stakes Analysis with suggested Plays


March 29, 2014: Hats and high fashion with a Mardi Gras flair were the focus on Louisiana Derby Day at the Fairgrounds Race Course in New Orleans, LA. Scott Serio/ESW/CSM

This Saturday War of Will tries for the complete sweep of the three Kentucky Derby prep races held at Fair Grounds Race Course. The Mark Casse trained son of War Front has already taken down the Grade 3 LeComte and Grade 2 Risen Star in overwhelming fashion.  Those two victories put him at the top of the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard.  He is already guaranteed a spot in the Derby starting gate, no matter the outcome of this weekend’s race.  Can his competitors turn the tables this weekend or will we see another dominant performance from the points leader?  A total of 180 points will be on the line for this contest with 100 going to the winner.  The top two finishers should lock up a date at Churchill Downs this May.  The Louisiana Derby will cap off a 13-race card that features a whopping eight stakes, four of which are Graded.

Race 13 – Louisiana Derby (G2) Post Time – 5:13 PM
Purse $1,000,000. For Three Year Olds. One and One Eighth Miles.
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Roiland (KY) 3/C L J Graham 122 T M Amoss 12/1
2 Lemniscate (FL) 3/C L B J Hernandez, Jr. 122 K G McPeek 15/1
3 Limonite (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 122 S M Asmussen 20/1
4 Sueno (KY) 3/C L C J Lanerie 122 J K Desormeaux 8/1
5 By My Standards (KY) 3/C L G Saez 122 W B Calhoun 12/1
6 War of Will (KY) 3/C L T Gaffalione 122 M E Casse 6/5
7 Mr. Money (KY) 3/C L A Beschizza 122 W B Calhoun 20/1
8 Country House (KY)  3/C L L Saez 122 W I Mott 9/2
9 Bankit (NY) 3/C L I Ortiz, Jr. 122 S M Asmussen 20/1
10 Spinoff (KY) 3/C L J R Velazquez 122 T A Pletcher 8/1
11 Hog Creek Hustle (KY) 3/C L M Mena 122 V L Foley 12/1

In last weekend’s two divisions of the Rebel Stakes we saw both favorites go down and it triggered some big payouts. I’m a big fan of War of Will, but as a bettor I need to make the smart move and take some shots against him.

I very much doubt you get anywhere near the morning-line price of 8/1, but #10 Spinoff looks like the play in here.  Distance shouldn’t be a problem for this well-bred son of Hard Spun, who is out of the G1W mare Zaftig.  This colt showed talent early on, breaking his maiden on debut last summer as a two-year-old.  He made his second start in the Saratoga Special, finishing a decent 3rd before he went up on the shelf for the remainder of the year.  Pletcher elected to bring him back in an allowance last month at Tampa Bay where he won by double digit lengths.  Interestingly John Velazquez also made the trip that day and these two will pair up again on Saturday.  If you happened to forget, Pletcher and Velazquez were victorious in last year’s Louisiana Derby with Noble Indy.  Look for Johnny to hustle out of the gate and establish decent position from the 10-hole going into the first turn.  If he has the talent, we’re going to see a horse race in the final eighth of a mile.

#8 Country House was my pick in the Risen Star Stakes, and he gave me a glimmer of hope as he was closing in deep stretch.  That hope didn’t last long because the Bill Mot trainee began to lug in behind War of Will, who had a two-length lead at that point.  Luis Saez was not able to get the son of Lookin At Lucky straightened out in time and he glided home in hand to finish 2nd.  Now I’m not sure he was going to pass the winner that day anyhow, but if he’s able to avoid that on Saturday then maybe he can flip the script.  If the pace sets up like that of the Risen Star, he could make it interesting as he gets an extra sixteenth of a mile to work with here.

As I said, #6 War of Will is the horse to beat, but I think those two above are the ones that can do it.  You also must consider that this horse has already racked up enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate and that’s the goal for these connections.  I don’t expect Mark Casse to back off on his training tactics, but I don’t think he wants to ruin his chance at the roses either.  He’s had three breezes since his last start, the last of which was a sharp half mile in :47.3.  He gets a better post draw then his last contest and Tyler Gaffalione has shown that this horse is able to utilize his tactical speed and then pounce when the time is right.  I don’t expect that to change, but maybe he gets a little stiffer challenge her.  I’m looking forward to it!

After these three there is really a few different horses that could fill out the superfecta. #1 Roiland and #11 Hog Creek Hustle closed well in the Risen Star.  #2 Lemniscate, #4 Sueno, and #5 By My Standards, all look to break onto the scene.  The horse I’m interested in however is the #3 Limonite.  This horse had to check multiple times in the stretch of the Risen Star and finished well after finally getting clear.  You get a positive rider upgrade from Brian Hernandez to Jose Ortiz and he has the chance to improve 2nd off the layoff, a 20 percent angle for trainer Steve Asmussen.  It’s also possible the son of Lemon Drop Kid will relish the extra ground.  Those are my picks!

Suggested Plays

 Race 13

$10 Win

#10 Spinoff

$1 Superfectas

10 w 6,8 w 6,8 w 1,3,4,5 = $8

10 w 6,8 w 1,3,4,5 w 6,8 = $8

6,8 w 10 w 6,8 w 1,3,4,5 = $8

6,8 w 10 w 1,3,4,5 w 6,8 = $8

6,8 w 6,8 w 10 w 1,3,4,5 = $8

Bonus Play: $500,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 10-13)

3,6,9,10,11 w 7 w 2,6,8 w 3,6,8,10 = $30

3,6,9,10,11 w 2,3,6,7 w 2 w 6,8,10 = $30

Good luck!

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Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun in the Rebel – Stakes Analysis with suggested Plays


January 18, 2016: Scenes from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, AR. Justin Manning/ESW/CSM

Due to the ongoing issues at Santa Anita Park and the abundance of entries it created for Saturday’s G2 Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn has split the Kentucky Derby prep into two divisions. Some love it, some hate it.  Sure, it may water down the field a touch, but a handful of these horses would not have ran in this spot to begin with.  It’ll be a great opportunity for East Coast fans to see some West Coast stars, such as Game Winner and Improbable.  Bob Baffert has won the Rebel a record six times, and now he’ll get the chance to go for seven and eight in the same year.  With the split, the purse becomes $750,000 for each division with 63.75 Kentucky Derby points allotted in each race.  Other notable races on the card include the G2 Azeri and the Essex Handicap.

Division 1
Race 8 – Rebel Stakes (G2) Post Time – 4:42 PM
Purse $750,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Sixteenth Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Extra Hope (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 117 R E Mandella 6/1
2 Long Range Toddy (KY) 3/C L J K Court 119 S M Asmussen 10/1
3 Corruze (KY) 3/C L S Elliott 117 C A Hartman 30/1
4 Easy Shot (KY) 3/C L R E Eramia 117 J K Desormeaux 15/1
5 Proud Nation (KY)  3/C L D Cabrera 117 J Sharp 50/1
6 Ninth Street (KY) 3/C L R Santana, Jr. 117 S M Asmussen 50/1
7 Classy John (LA) 3/C L D Cohen 117 D Stewart 15/1
8 Galilean (CA) 3/C L F Prat 122 J Hollendorfer 3/1
9 Improbable (KY) 3/C L D Van Dyke 119 B Baffert 3/5

I think #9 Improbable is the best horse in Baffert’s barn and I expect him to win in this spot quite easily.  You’ll have to get creative to turn him into some value, but this isn’t a horse I want to try to beat.  The City Zip colt is three for three lifetime and has improved his speed figures in each outing.  Drayden Van Dyke will do his best to tuck in behind the leaders coming into the first turn and pounce at the appropriate time.  If all goes to plan, he’ll keep some in the tank for wherever the connections decide to point next.

I don’t plan on going crazy with vertical wagers, but if there is a price horse I think can possibly slip into the exotic picture it would be #4 Easy Shot. The Keith Desormeaux trainee put in a decent effort over a sloppy track in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes last time out, finishing third to a couple of nice horses.  The son of Trappe Shot will need to improve, but he has very capable connections that can make that happen.

If you’re going by the “eye test” #8 Galilean looks like a shoo-in for second here.  He’s won his last two outings in impressive fashion and is three for four lifetime.  My issue is all four of those races were restricted stakes and now he must go up against a horse like Improbable?  The jury is still out on this one for me.

#1 Extra Hope makes the second start of his three-year-old campaign here. He was victorious in a one-mile allowance at Santa Anita at the end of January.  Shanghai Bobby is not a sire that really screams distance, but if the Richard Mandella trainee can improve off his last race he should contend for a piece of the exotics.  Mike Smith picks up the mount for the first time.


Division 2
Race 10 – Rebel Stakes (G2) Post Time – 6:06 PM
Purse $750,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Sixteenth Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Market King (KY) 3/C L J R Velazquez 117 D W Lukas 30/1
2 Laughing Fox (KY) 3/C L R Santana, Jr. 119 S M Asmussen 10/1
3 Parsimony (PA) 3/C L M Gutierrez 117 D F O’Neill 30/1
4 Jersey Agenda (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 117 S M Asmussen 15/1
5 Game Winner (KY)  3/C L J Rosario 119 B Baffert 4/5
6 Omaha Beach (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 117 R E Mandella 7/2
7 Our Braintrust (MD) 3/C L D Cohen 117 M E Casse 6/1
8 Gunmetal Gray (KY) 3/C L F Prat 122 J Hollendorfer 10/1
9 Kaziranga (KY) 3/C L R E Eramia 117 S M Asmussen 50/1
10 Captain Von Trapp (KY) 3/C L R A Vazquez 119 S M Asmussen 15/1

Of the two divisions, I feel we’re much more likely to see an upset in this one. The horse I want to take a shot with on top is #7 Our Braintrust who was beat narrowly last out in the G3 Withers Stakes back in February.  The Mark Casse trainee cuts back in distance and adds blinkers, two angles that should make him a strong contender.  I also like the fact that he picks up local jockey David Cohen.  I’ll be using a few horses in my horizantal plays but I give this one a slight edge to score a win.

#6 Omaha Beach kind of reminds me of another Kentucky Derby contender and the current points leader, War of Will. Both horses are by War Front and both started their careers on the grass, only to improve after switching to dirt.  The Richard Mandella trainee is only a maiden winner but has never been worse than third in five career starts.  That last effort was very impressive and perhaps this colt has finally figured it out.

#5 Game Winner will be the obvious favorite and rightfully so considering he is the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ. Baffert is typically good off the layoff, but we shall see if the two-year-old form holds up against this field.  I expect the undefeated son of Candy Ride to come back to the pack now that others have had more time to mature.  It should also be noted that the runner ups from the Juvenile haven’t exactly come back to flatter him.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out a whopping six horses split between the two Rebel divisions. For some reason when entries were drawn a mistake was made and this division ended up with four of his runners.  They were supposed to be split evenly between the two divisions.  Anyway, I don’t think it affects much and the horse of his that I like in here is #2 Laughing Fox. The son of Union Rags makes his stakes debut and he will get Asmussen’s first call rider, who likely had his choice of mounts.  This colt is two for two as a three-year-old, both starts over this Oaklawn surface.  You get a fair price here for a horse that figures to improve again.

Suggested Plays

 Race 8

$1 Superfectas

9 w 4,8 w 1,4,8 w ALL = $24

9 w 4,8 w ALL w 1,4,8 = $24

Race 10

 $4 Exacta Key Box

 7 w 2,6,5 = $24

$1 Trifecta Box

 2,5,6,7 = $24

Bonus Play: All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 7-10)

5 w 9 w 2,5,6,8 w 2,4,5,6,7,10 = $12

Good luck!

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Somelikeithotbrown Hungry for a Jeff Ruby Steaks Win – Stakes Analysis with suggested Plays


FLORENCE, KY – MARCH 17: Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes day at Turfway Park on March 17, 2018 in Florence, KY. (Photo by Jessica Morgan/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

The card at Turfway Park on Jeff Ruby Steaks day still provides bettors and fans alike a day of excitement, even if the feature race is no longer a serious stepping stone towards the Kentucky Derby. The beauty of the All-Weather track is that it brings together top horses from each surface and provides a little extra challenge to the handicapping.  Saturday’s 12-race card offers six Stakes races and multiple wagering opportunities, including three Pick 4 sequences.

Race 11 – (Turfway) Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) Post Time – 6:37 PM
Purse $200,000. For Three-Year-Olds. One and One Eighth Miles (All Weather Track)
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Dynamic Racer (KY) 3/C L E E Prentice, Jr. 123 R Kahles 15/1
2 Moonster (KY) 3/C L J McKee 123 D L Romans 20/1
3 Five Star General (KY) 3/C L D Cannon 123 A Delacour 6/1
4 Dabo (IL) 3/G L L Machado 123 D L Romans 10/1
5 Baytown Jimbo (KY) 3/G L A Achard 123 P McEntee 20/1
6 Skywire (ON) 3/C L G Boulanger 123 M E Casse 3/1
7 Counter Offer (KY) 3/C L M Franklin 123 I R Wilkes 10/1
8 Twelfthofneverland (KY) 3/C L S Russell 123 R Handal 12/1
9 Curlin Grey (KY) 3/C L B J Hernandez, Jr. 123 K G McPeek 10/1
10 Somelikeithotbrown (NY) 3/C L T Gaffalione 123 M J Maker 8/5
11 Speed App (VA) 3/C L W De La Cruz 123 D W Lukas 30/1

Three horses in here come out of last month’s John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, including the winner. I’m not going to get cute as I believe the Battaglia winner #10 Somelikeithotbrown is the most likely winner of this race.  The Mike Maker trainee won last out with relative ease and he didn’t look to be fully cranked off the layoff. This horse is good out of the gate and able to make his own trip which is a good quality to have in a racehorse.  Tyler Gaffalione, who is having a stellar year comes in to ride.  I expect him to lay close to the pace and pull away late.

If I’m going to take one of three horses coming out of the Sam F. Davis, its #3 Five Star General. Owned by Triple Crown winning connections of WinStar Farm, China HC, and SF Racing, this son of Distorted Humor did not have an ideal trip in that contest.  Jose Ortiz had him parked wide through much of the race and he had to check hard in traffic turning for home.  After all of that he was still able to come home in strong fashion, albeit 13-lenghts behind the winner.  Declan Cannon picks up the mount for trainer Arnaud Delacour.

#9 Curlin Grey is a deep closer, so he’ll need some pace to run at, but this horse comes out of a strong allowance race at Gulfstream park and I like him to pick off horses late and hit the trifecta. Trainer Ken McPeek can pop one in these spots and while I don’t think he can win, he’s worth a look in your exotics.

To me #6 Skywire is a bit of an underlay at the morning-line price of 3/1.  He’s two for two lifetime but those wins weren’t impressive enough for me to view him as the second choice in here.  With that being said Mark Casse and Gary Barber saw enough from this horse in his debut to buy-in and I respect that.  One of his wins was over a synthetic surface so he has that going for him.  Gary Boulanger makes the trip south to ride.

Suggested Plays

 Race 12

 $7 Exacta

 10 w 3,9 = $14

$1 Trifectas

 10 w 3,9 w ALL = $18

10 w ALL w 3,9 = $18

Bonus Plays: All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 8-11)

3,4,8 w 2,5,6,7 w ALL w 10 = $66

3,4,8 w 2 w 2,5,9,10,12 w 3,6,9,10 = $30

Good luck!

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Full field for Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course – Stakes Analysis with suggested Plays


January 19, 2019: #8 War of Will ridden by Tyler Gaffalione wins the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds Race Course on January 19, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Parker Waters/EclipseSportswire/CSM

Don’t look now but we’re just 79 days away from the 2019 Kentucky Derby and that means the stakes are rising!  Saturday’s Grade 3 Risen Star will be the first Kentucky Derby prep race of the year to offer 50 points to the winner, which we all know basically guarantees a spot in the gate come May.  This year’s Risen Star has drawn a full field of 14 with an additional horse on the Also Eligible list. LeComte winner War of Will is the no doubt about it favorite, but he’s up against it after drawing the extreme outside.  Bob Baffert’s has announced Kingly will scratch so Gun It should draw in.

The Risen Star hasn’t produced much as far as the Kentucky Derby goes, with War Emblem (9th 2002 Risen Star) being its only graduate to go on to Derby glory.  The race has however, seen two future Breeders’ Cup Classic winners come through its gate.  Gun Runner took the 2016 edition and Mucho Macho Man was victorious in 2011.  Perhaps there are a couple future stars in this year’s field.

Race 12 – Risen Star Stakes (G2) Post Time – 6:02 PM
Purse $400,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Sixteenth Miles.
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Plus Que Parfait (KY) 3/R L J R Leparoux 122 B P Walsh 10/1
2 Roiland (KY) 3/C L J Graham 122 T M Amoss 20/1
3 Mr. Money (KY) 3/C L G Saez 122 W B Calhoun 12/1
4 Chase the Ghost (KY) 3/C L M Murrill 122 D Stewart 30/1
5 Henley’s Joy (KY) 3/C L M Franco 122 M J Maker 10/1
6 Hog Creek Hustle (KY) 3/C L F Geroux 122 V L Foley 8/1
7 Manny Wah (KY) 3/C L C Hill 122 W M Catalano 12/1
8 Owendale (KY) 3/C L S Bridgmohan 122 B H Cox 6/1
9 Country House (KY)  3/C L L Saez 122 W I Mott 20/1
10 Limonite (KY) 3/C L B J Hernandez, Jr. 122 S M Asmussen 10/1
11 Dunph (KY) 3/G L J L Ortiz 122 M J Maker 20/1
12 Frolic More (KY) 3/C L C J Lanerie 122 D Stewart 10/1
13 Kingly (KY) 3/C L D Van Dyke 122 B Baffert SCR
14 War of Will (KY) 3/C L T Gaffalione 122 M E Casse 5/2
Also Eligibles:
15 Gun It (KY) 3/C L R Santana, Jr. 122 S M Asmussen 10/1

If you can connect in this race you are likely to be handsomely rewarded. I plan to be rewarded with my top play in here which is the #9 Country House who is 20/1 on the morning-line, but I do expect he will take some money. This son of Lookin At Lucky debuted on the grass at Belmont back in October and has made steady improvement in each of his last two starts since.  I feel if he’s able to take another step forward he will be very dangerous in here.  He was a close 2nd two back at Aqueduct to Kentucky Wildcat who ran 2nd himself in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis last weekend.  The Bill Mott trainee then broke his maiden at Gulfstream last out after absolutely missing the break and spotting the field at least eight or nine lengths.  I’m not sure he beat much in his last outing, but I was very impressed with the way he did it.  Let’s hope he’s better out of the gate this time around and make some money!  Luis Saez retains the mount.

I just can’t bring myself to put #14 War of Will on top here at such a short price.  I think this horse could be a star, but he’s going to have to break well and establish solid early positioning in order to win.  We’ll see what kind of trip Tyler Gaffalione can work out aboard the Grade 3 LeComte winner.  I’ll still plan on using on my horizontal plays, but there is better value to be had in this big field.

I thought the Brendan Walsh trained #1 Plus Que Parfait ran a pretty good race last out after stumbling slightly at the break and then getting caught wide into the first turn of the Grade 3 LeComte.  The son of Point of Entry seems to enjoy this distance and I would expect Julien Leparoux will have him more forwardly placed breaking from the rail.  Strictly using on my vertical tickets.

#3 Mr. Money makes his first start since finishing 4th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile back in November.  He was slated to run in last month’s Grade 3 LeComte, but his connections decided to scratch.  I like the recent works from this son of Goldencents and I think the time off should do him good.  Will probably need a career best outing to win here.  Gabe Saez rides for Bret Calhoun who just got his 3,000th training victory this past Sunday.

Another horse I want to add in on my vertical play’s is #15 Gun It who is a well-bred son of Tapit and the first foal out of Miss Besilu.  The Steve Asmussen trainee is a former $2.6 million Keeneland September Yearling purchase that has yet to prove his worth.  He broke his maiden over this track back in December and returned to run 3rd in an allowance contest last month over a wet track.  I’m willing to forgive his last outing as he never looked completely comfortable and did not seem to love the track that day.

Suggested Plays

 Race 12

$4 Win

#9 Country House

$5 Exacta Box

 9,14 = $10

$1 Trifecta Keys

 9 w 1,3,14,15 w 1,3,14,15 = $12

1,3,14,15 w 9 w 1,3,14,15 = $12

1,3,14,15 w 1,3,14,15 w 9 = $12

Bonus Play: $200,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 9-12)

2,5,6 w 5,6,7,9 w 4,8 w 9,14 = $24

Good luck!

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