Empire New York Showcase Day, Race 7-11, including Late Pick 4

First part of card was paced by Kharafa, a legitimate contender, scoring at 6-1, along with a very chalky, but value daily double to start the card. In the first two races, 1:4 and 3:5 returned $2.50 for a $1 (3:2). This was great value. Let me explain — if you believe the public is a good handicapper (and I do) and convert the odds to percentages, a 1:4 shot should have an 80% chance of winning and a 3:5 horse has a 62.5% chance of winning. The probability of both occurring was 50% (multiply the independent probabilities), which suggested a return around even money. But the return was greater than this. In fact, it was a 10% overlay simply by trusting the public, but pouncing on them when they are inconsistent with themselves. I love the thrill of longshots, but that’s tough to pass up. I also should have trusted the public on the always-consistent La Verdad.

Here’s the remainder of day at Belmont.

Race 7: Princess Violet (#5, 5-2) has been running well against open company. Great connections. Single for me, every bet, every pool.

Race 8: I’m against Saratoga Snacks (#2, 2-1) here, who hasn’t been the same horse since joining the Mott barn this year. I’ll try to beat him with both Sioux (#8, 5-2) and So Lonesome (#6, 5-1), who were both lights out on the dirt last out.

Race 9: It’s all Discreet Marq (#10, 8-5) taking on this group of state-breds. Yes, they can always lose, but she seems all the part of legitimate. Speed, class, you name it. Another single.

Race 10: I written about West Hills Giant (#2, #12-1) many times over the summer, and he returns here. I’m not going to miss his win — whenever it comes — so he’ll be on every ticket I play. That said, this is a very deep race, and if you get past the likely favorite in Noble Cornerstone (#3, 3-1) and this race gets quite tough. I will play Chapman, West Hills Giant, Noble Cornerstone, Weekend Hideaway, Moonlit Song, and Captain Serious in the P4.

Race 11: Runaway Posse (#3, 4-1) ran well first time on turf last out. At cutback in distance might be helpful, and he could get up in the final yards. Lisa Lewis can get the right first time in her barn, so Manoffire (#5, 6-1) is a contender. I’ll throw in Spider Roll (#11, 2-1) to be in condition after the nice race on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs. I’ll throw in Port Au Prince (#2, 20-1) off the work pattern to try to light up the toteboard in a contentious race.

Pick 4:

.50 cent 2X1X6X4 = $24 (may go wider in first leg depending on board)


Empire New York Showcase Day, Races 1-6, Saturday October 18

NY-bred racing has come a long way, and you now routinely find runners winning in open company and the best horses winning Graded Stakes. Several come home today to face other NY-breds in a terrific mid-October day of racing.

As with other big days, it seems like it could be a chalky day, with some exceptions in a few contentious races. I’m going to build win and P3 tickets out of these opinions, and my goal is to accept the low, but fair, prices we will see today and bet accordingly. There’s certainly a chalky P5 sequence to play at a higher unit as well. Good luck!

Race 1: It’s an average group of maidens and Tizquick (#2, 6/5) is a clear standout of speed, if you forgive that last mud effort in a stakes. It might keep the price above even money, which would be a bit fairer. The rest of the contenders remaining are an unimpressive group of first-time starters and Scattered Dreams (#4, 8-1) who ran well in a slow race on the ship in from Laurel last time, may be the best bet to upset. David Rocks (#6, 6-1) hails from the Levine barn which can win with these at first asking. I won’t get fancy and single Tizquick.

Race 2: Another race with strong chalk as Ostrolenka (#2, 9-5) coming off a very impressive maiden. There’s always risk with putting too much stock in a solid maiden win in a stakes race. Good Luck Gus (#7, 3-1) would need to improve, but does bring a Finger Lakes stakes victory to the table. Seems another place to not mess around too much and single the favorite.

Race 3: I’ve warmed to Temper Mint Patty (#3, 8-5) who dominated a recent stakes in the mud by over 13 lengths. Even if she regresses on the fast dirt, others would still need to to improve, which isn’t impossible given the first-time stretchouts. Sweetpollypurebrd (#5, 5-1), Quezon (#6, 7-2), and Sandra (#7, 6-1) all qualify on some tickets on the first time route. But, that said, I’m leaning much more heavily towards the chalk here and will make it a rare three favorites in a row.

Race 4: Some tested turf warriors in this field, who like to take turns beating each other. I’ll simply try to get by with King Kressa (#3, 9-5), Lubash (#9, 2-1), and Kharafa (#1, 5-1).  Speed and class advantages, and here’s hoping we stay to form. I figure most people will have these in the multi-race exotics, so this might be the race to expect something crazy to happen.

Race 5: Class comes home as both Willet (#4, 9-5) and La Verdad (#8, 7-5) exit graded stakes. Some consideration for the improved Irish Whisper (#5, 15-1) returning from the layoff and Risky Rachel (#6, 6-1) if the other three aren’t up to form. This race makes me more nervous than the first 4, and I may spread a bit further depending on final ticket costs accordingly.

Race 6: A race where I’m going to want to see the board. I’m tepid on the lukewarm favorite Brother O’Connell (#9, 3-1) who has two not great showings on the turn to his name, and will leave him off. Persuasive Devil (#8, 5-1) has speed and tries turf for the first time. Ode to the Hunt (#10, 7-2) had a good debut and is expected to improve more today. Gear Jammer (#12, 4-1) is another to include, with close enough speed and a chance to wire. A very strong contender in Foxhall Drive (#13, 7-2) draws in off the AE, and should be included as wll. I’ll leave off all FTS here, especially Threes are Wild (#11, 8-1), who I expect to return to dirt after conditioning.

Good luck with the first part of the day. I’ll be back with the concluding races and a recap a bit later in the card.

Image: Roger Smith, Copyright 2014.





The Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) & Late Belmont P4

It’s a great field this year for the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park. This race is also an important moment in the thoroughbred racing calendar as the 3YO division merges into the older handicap or Classic division. Only two age-restricted routes remaining for 3YO’s, and neither of these is at the top level (Oklahoma Derby and Indiana Derby.) In this year’s installment, it’s a particularly deep field with several good 3YO’s.

My favorite horse of the summer, V-E Day, is among several contenders in this field. I’ve been a backer of him all summer, and he’s certainly helped to pay the rent. In the Curlin stakes, he was my pick, based solely on a form angle that is a consistent moneymaker:

I also really liked him in the Travers, and told just about everyone who would listen. He was improving and had earned his way into the race.

So, of course, it’s a bit hard for me to be unbiased towards V-E Day. Here, he has a good shot — he’s met each challenge of the summer and seems to have a nose for the wire. If any horse has earned his way on to a P4 ticket, it’s him. 

Another of my favorite horses, Tonalist, returns to the site of his greatest triumphs, Belmont Park. In the Belmont Stakes, I was a huge supporter of his, and I am still shocked that he went off at 8-1 (he was even 11-1 before a huge 200K bet knocked his odds down in the gate).

The Belmont Stakes, however, was my only time with Tonalist. I wasn’t on him in the Peter Pan front-running win. But recently, I was a bit skeptical of him at Saratoga:

But now back to a Belmont surface which he seems to enjoy, I’m back on the Tonalist bandwagon, and he’s the second horse on my ticket.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Moreno, but he’s in career form and his speed lately has been lights out. On paper, it seems that there will be a pace battle, but there’s often money to be found (at least in the long-term) on the other side of these opinions. Considering he’s the fastest horse at the top of his game, I’ll include him on the chance that the pace is a bit lighter than anticipated and hopeful that he’ll bring about some value. The final horse to include is Stephanoatsee who will probably be a substantial price. He’s improved since coming to the Nick Zito barn and ran a sneaky good race last out. He’s older, perhaps more mature, and could very well find the board, or even the winner’s circle at a huge price. I’ll also consider a win bet on him (and exacta save), especially if the price is over 15-1. Check my twitter for updates. Finally, I’ll let Wicked Strong, who I rate just a notch below the others, beat me (and he very well might). He’d need to improve, something I don’t like to bet on first-time against older. I’ll also pass on Zivo, the gutsy NY-bred who took the G2 Suburban this past July. This is a much tougher field, and he’d need to run a career-best to get it done.

In the rest of the P4, I’ll go wide in the Flower Bowl with 5 horses: Stephanie’s Kitten, Abaco, Watsachances, Alterite, Strathnaver. A wide open race, I’ll go with Chad Brown’s 3 entrants, along with last out close finishers Abaco and Strathnaver.

In the Vosburgh, I’ll bank on a hot pace coming back to Salutos Amigos or Palace. As an alternative, I’ll also include Happy My Way as the potential speed of the speed.

Finally, in the Hirsch, I’ll go two deep. Imagining might just wire them, but I’ll let him beat me to keep the cost of the ticket in ideal range. Main Sequence has won two straight G1’s and has found his form again. He’s healthy and flourishing for the Graham Motion barn. Finally, I like Big Blue Kitten, who’s been a benchmark horse all summer since winning the key Lure. He’s part of an entry, so I’ll take the free Real Solution, too.

$.50 P4 5*3*2*4 = $60   

Image: Nakishi, Copyright 2006.

Belmont & Maidens for Friday Afternoon

Some overlap as I have a several maiden plays at Belmont today. Two plays that I gave out on Twitter earlier:

Belmont 4: I liked Mineral Water (6-1) to sit a good trip and grind on home with the extra 1/2 furlong. Improved since layoff, it’s not the toughest field, and the price should be good enough to take a shot. Result: 2nd to favorite.

Belmont 5: I took a gut shot with Dangerous Lad (12-1). He’s a fast enough turf horse who likes the distance in a field with lots of questions. Result: Led into the homestretch, but passed by closers in final 100 yards. Upset winner at 13-1 in Which Market.

Here’s the plays coming up:

Belmont 7: In the Footsteps drops down in the second start off the layoff for Linda Rice. Willing to forgive last as too short and at a different track. Price might be nice with a 6-1 morning line, but some key scratches could effect the price. Playable down to 4-1, but not below.

Belmont 9: I like Neilinger (6-1) for the Contessa barn. Running lines suggest that she should appreciate the stretchout.  I’ll be at 4-1 or better. Momma’s Favorite is also worth a longshot look at 12-1. Paco Lopez rides for this other Monmouth invader. Another who could benefit from the stretchout. Will take shot at 8-1 or better.

Update: Neilinger is scratched. Will still take flyer on Momma’s Favorite. I’m also going to add Trensita (10-1) for Michael Matz who usually has them ready for their second time on turf.

Laurel 9: Nest of Pirates (and not because it’s National Talk Like a Pirate Day) at 6-1. The two likely favorites, both NY-invaders, have closed into some fairly sharp paces. Nest of Pirates, however, has done in with some softer paces. One decent turf effort already in past, and goes for a trainer that excels off the layoff. Playable at 3-1.




Belmont Park, Race 7, Coverage begins at 5:50 P.M. ET

Race of the Day, Belmont Park, Race 7, 1st level Allowance, 6½ Furlongs. 3 and Up.  State-bred. Purse: $62K. 

Sixty-two thousand dollars is a significant state-bred allowance purse in today’s 7th.  Note the significant scratch of Sidearm (#2, 3-1), leaving Station Chief as the lone Contessa runner.


  • Station Chief (#3, 5/2) adds an extra half-furlong and will look for a bit easier pace to get it done on the front end.  He hasn’t run fast enough yet to win here.
  • Say Mr. Sandman (#5, 7/2), an Aqueduct warrior, has had success closing on the biased inner track. Typically, this bodes well at Belmont, and, for him, this has proven to be true — he’s 1-1-0 in 3 starts at Belmont.  He very well may be in career form, and looms a good threat today.
  • Horatio (#7, 5/1) offers value potential.  His career best peformance could be attributed to the muddy track on June 5th, or it could be a result of the new barn. My guess is the public will think it’s the mud and undervalue this horse.
  • Brass Pear (#1, 15-1) will keep Station Chief company on the front end, and may open up the race for Say Mr. Sandman and Horatio.

What I’m thinking of playing:

Station Chief has yet to run fast enough to win at this level.  Expecting improvement at low odds is a difficult path to follow.  I’ll likely play against him in the Pick 3 and Pick 4 with Horatio and Say Mr. Sandman.  I like either of them over 3-1, but not both.  That will likely be Horatio when the odds settle.

See you at 5:50 p.m. ET on Twitter!

Belmont Park, Race 7, Coverage begins at 4:10 P.M. ET

Wednesday, June 25: Race of the Day, Belmont Park,  Race 7, 1 Mile. 1st Level Allowance, plus claiming. 3 year old only. Purse: Purse $77K. 

A sizable purse is on the line for a solid group of 3-year olds routing at Belmont Park.  The scheduling and distance of this race are an ideal for the start of a Travers Stakes campaign, so we could very well see someone of note emerge from this group.

  • Venetian Mask (#2, 5/2) starts off an dominant seven furlong maiden score at Parx.  A son of Pulpit, out of a Carson City mare, this horse should fit the distance perfectly. He’s been training well and adds Rosario.  Legitimate, but this is a deep field.
  • Protonico (#6, 4/1) who joins the Pletcher barn after a brief two-year old campaign that showed promise.  Pletcher is taking the blinker offs — always a sharp move.  A strong win here off the layoff could have Protonico pointed towards the Travers.   Always worth a paddock look of the layoff and trainer change.
  • Big Guy Ian (#3, 6-1) has done very little wrong in his career.  He ran decently in the famed February 22nd allowance at Gulfstream in which Constitution beat eventual Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong.  Possibly prepping for later today — seems to want longer.  Could see him down the road.
  • All My Memories (#4, 8-1) came into his own last race for Jason Servis, winning impressively over this track.  There’s no reason this one can’t win today and could offer great value for those who bet longshots.
  • Magic Cash (#5, 6-1) comes into the Tony Dutrow barn.  A son of Tapit out of a Storm Cat mare, this horse could be a star.  Training lights-out at Fair Hill, he’d still need an improved performance to win here, but that’s not an unreasonable task.
  • Lietenant Seany O (#1, 3-1) has been finishing second for the Jacobson barn as of late.  Solid, but Jacobson’s runners typically lose form the more they run.  With a tough field here, I’d think he’ll be overbet.

What I’m thinking of betting:

I’ll take a good look at Protoncio and listen to @maggiewolfndale’s analysis, especially with the layoff and trainer change.  The potential is sky-high with this one.   There are still lots of chances, so I’d need to see a decent price of around 4-1 to win.  All My Memories is also probably worth a small bet — especially through multi-race exotics — over 10-1 to win.


Belmont Park, Race 5, Coverage on Twitter at 3:10 P.M. ET

Race of the Day, June 19

Belmont Park, 5th race, 1 Mile, Inner Turf, Maiden Claiming $40K, 3 and up, Purse $41K.

Today, it’s back to N.Y. for the first time since the Belmont Stakes. Great racing there everyday.  Plus, it’s another installment in Maiden Claiming week!  I love Maiden Claimers. Tons of risky favorites and lots of horses that need miracles to win.  It can set up for great value in mid-odds. 

Here’s what you need to know about the fifth from Belmont:

5 facts:

  1. Corinthian Summer (#8, 2-1) continues his drop through the maiden claiming ranks.  Did make up some nice ground in the middle of last race, but should be overbet because of connections.
  2. Azorian (#1A, 10-1) stays in the race as, perhaps, the most important pace factor.  Easy fractions could see an improvement to the Winner’s Circle, but demand at least 6-1.
  3. Dividend (#7, 3-1) adds blinkers in a curious move for a horse that made up almost 21 lengths in a previous start.  Ian Wilkes struggles with this angle, but Dividend’s last workout — presumably with blinkers — has to be encouraging.  I wouldn’t go much past 6-1 with him.
  4. Plated (#6, 5-1)  cuts back from 2 1/8 miles in his last start.  Not something you see everyday — perhaps underneath and late.
  5. Hooping (#4, 6-1) would need more today, but certainly has a shot.  His experience in lower-leveling claiming at Gulfstream Park ($16K) will likely keep the price relatively fair.

The Key Questions:

  • How heavy a favorite is Corinthian Summer?  The lower the price, the better for value elsewhere.  Public overbet!
  • Does Azorian improve with an easier pace?  It’s a tough angle to nail, but one that can pay well in the right circumstances with value odds.
  • How does Dividend react to the blinkers?   Wilkes struggles with this angle.
  • Does Hooping do enough to win?  Sometimes the winner doesn’t have angles, but just enough speed when others don’t fire.

What I’m thinking of playing:

I’ll likely take a stands against both Corinthian Summer and Dividend. Azorian should be be the play, but only at  6-1 or better. Good luck!

Tune in at @alldayracing on Twitter for coverage starting at 3:10 P.M. ET. See you then!

Postscript: The Belmont Stakes

Tonalist gets past Commissioner in the shadow of the wire to win the “Test of a Champion.”  California Chrome was valiant, but clearly defeated.  Let’s revisit the 3 key questions from the Cheat Sheet:

1. Does California Chrome run his race?

Pre-race comment:  If he does, only Tonalist or an unexpected improvement will get it done. The above-risk factors matter, along with the importance of a good start. It’s a long race, but a bad start did in Victor Espinoza and War Emblem.

Post-race comment: He ran well, but was not in his top form today. Whether it’s due to Matterhorn stepping on his hoof or just being tired from the Triple Crown effort, he didn’t put out an absolute top effort.

2. Can Tonalist duplicate his Peter Pan effort?

Pre-race: There’s the ever-present mud question coming out of the Peter Pan. But this is a very impressive son of Tapit out of a Pleasant Colony mare. I wouldn’t expect to see him on the lead, especially starting from the way outside. A repeat of that effort puts him right there with California Chrome. Wouldn’t be shocked to see him catch Chrome in the final strides.

Post-race:  The mud wasn’t the reason for his earlier improvement, and he managed to put forth a great effort.  As expected, he showed great versatility in style, the mark of a very talented horse.

3. Who improves?

Pre-race: Most likely, one of the remaining 9 horses will put a career-best effort together. It’s the result of growth, training, and an affinity for the distance. Commanding Curve is getting some buzz in all these regards.

Post-race:  Commissioner moved forward again after his strong Peter Pan and seized the lead early.  He almost got it done, and gives WinStar another Travers prospect along with Charge Now.

Belmont, Race 10, 5:50 pm ET

Race of the Day, June 6

Belmont Park, Elmont, NY

Belmont Gold Cup, 2 miles, Turf, 4 and up, 200k

It’s not every day that you see a 2-mile race here in the States.  None of the participants have raced at this epic distance before, but several are bred for it.  The M/L favorite is Twilight Eclipse (#11, 9/5) who has been racing exclusively in top level events.  He has some nice efforts in some long routes, but nothing approaching this distance.  He’s the class of the field and rates well.  Second choice is Charming Kitten (#3, 4-1), who starts for the Ramseys and Pletcher.   Classwise, he’s a notch below Twilight Eclipse.

Sky Blazer (#3, 8-1) brings a solid closing style and a likely liking for the added distance.  His biggest knock is his unimpressive 5 for 26 record.  But he seems in career form and rates a great chance.  Draw Two (#8, 6-1) has found himself under Motion and seems to relish going long.  Spy in the Sky (#5, 30-1) moves over from jumps and certainly has the stamina to do well here.


1.  Who will like the added distance?  It’s new for everybody.

2.  Does Twilight Eclipse’s class advantage trump the others?  He’s been facing tough horses consistently.

3.  Does Sky Blazer maintain his career form?  With another improvement, he should find the Winner’s Circle.

4.  Does Draw Two continue to move forward under Motion?


Twilight Eclipse certainly stands out on page, but would need to be at least 5-2 to provide any value for the risk.  Draw Two and Sky Blazer rank well for the top spot, but need to be at least 6-1 to consider.

The Skinny:  (1) Sky Blazer (2) Draw Two (3) Twilight Eclipse (4) Spy in the Sky