The Bashford Manor

We’ll take a look at 2YO’s for the first time this year with the 117th running of the GIII Bashford Manor from Churchill Downs. We’re still months away from 2YO’s routing, but this is still an early test of stamina for this group of 13 2YO’s. It’s 6f, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s farther than any horse in the race has run. They’ve all been cutting their teeth on races from 4.5f to 5.5f. They also comprise a national field — Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Indiana Downs, Belmont Park, Belterra Park, Evangeline Downs, Presque Isle, and Santa Anita are all represented.

The field’s highest Beyer Speed Figure (84) belongs to Tales of Chaucer who earned it over a sloppy track at 5f at Belmont Park. Trained by Norm Casse (son of Mark Casse, who branched out on his own this year), he’s a NY-bred who earned the figure in a NY-bred restricted race. He’s cost $58K this past March. The other likely favorite is Toothless Wonder, a $220K purchase in March that is trained by Doug O’Neil, who needs no introduction. He lost first time out at Santa Anita — nothing strange for an O’Neil trainee — and then won with a 76 Beyer Speed Figure his next time out. He’s by Street Boss and should appreciate the extra distance, having run at the short 4.5f in his two starts.

Sir Truebadour is trained by Steve Asmussen (he of the recent haircut) and finished fourth by two lengths in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont. None of the top 3 finishers in that race are here today. He cost $300K last August as a yearling. He returns to Churchill Downs, where he broke his maiden, albeit over a sloppy track. Weiland won the Kentucky Juvenile back in May over this track with a 63 Beyer Speed Figure at 20-1 odds. Trained by John Ennis, he was only a $7K purchase last October.

Shanghaied Roo, trained by Bret Calhoun, has been unseen since his win in early April at Keeneland. There’s no Beyer Speed Figure for the 4.5 sprints at Keeneland, but his BRIS speed figure puts him right among the top contenders. Mr. Granite, trained by Wayne Rice, ran in the Kentucky Juvenile but finished 15 3/4 lengths behind. He did experience a bit of trouble early, but is still too slow. The rest of the field is comprised of maiden winners with speed figures that are a bit too low to be competitive to win graded stakes at this point in their career. Unlike in some 2YO (and 3YO) stakes, every horse has earned a win coming into this race.

Analysis: Anything can happen in these early 2YO races as horses are likely to grow in between starts. That said, it will likely come down to the favorites. Among these, I like Toothless Wonder, due to his high recent purchase price, experienced trainer, and likely propensity to improve with the distance. But I’m likely to also play Shanghaied Roo, who is the wildcard in the race and might offer some value. His breeding, trainer, and almost 3 months off suggest a possible strong performance. He’s very playable at 9-2 or better.

The Peter Pan

The Peter Pan Stakes, a GIII contest for 3YO from Belmont Park, is the focus this week. We step back from last week’s 10 furlongs in the Kentucky Derby to a more manageable 9 furlongs–the distance of the Derby final preps. A field of 7 will assemble at 6:18 Eastern Time — some with some very interesting and intriguing resumes on tap.

The race begins with Core Beliefs, who breaks from the inside, and will likely be the favorite. He finished third in the GI Santa Anita Derby, 9 1/2 lengths behind eventual Kentucky Derby winner, Justify.  The Santa Anita Derby is at the same distance as today’s race and his Beyer speed figure in that race is best in the field. Zing Zang was an also-ran in Blue Grass Stakes, Rebel, and Southwest. He should find the waters much less deep today, but he hasn’t yet shown the speed needed to win at this level. Just Whistle is a fast maiden winner trained by Michael Matz. This horse might have a bright future, but this may be too much too soon.

Blended Citizen was the last one out for the Kentucky Derby. He won the GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway and finished a decent 5th behind Good magic in the Blue Grass. With today’s race at the Blue Grass distance and the GIII win under his belt, he should be well-regarded. I expect the 6-1 price to drop. Diamond King adds Javier Castellano after winning the Federico Tesio from Laurel. He also ran well in the Swale, a Gulfstream sprint back in February. He’d need to improve, but the second start off the layoff should bring (at least some) improvement. UPDATE:  Diamond King will scratch and run in the PreaknessHigh North ran the second fastest Beyer Speed Figure in the field. He did so while winning the Northern Spur, run on the undercard of Arkansas Derby day. He wasn’t very good against the top of the division in the Rebel, but he’s likely to find his level today. Both Gotta Go and Transistor — new to the Rudy Rodriguez barn — are likely too slow to compete today. Gotta Go ran well in the Swale, but has been on a downward trend since then. Transistor’s best run was a second-place finish in a Florida-bred allowance at Gulfstream.

Analysis: Core Beliefs will likely be a short price, but both Blended Citizen and High North may offer a bit more value. I’d include the 3 of them as part of the excellent all-stakes Belmont late Pick-4 ticket.

The Futurity (from Belmont Park)

Our tour of 2YO racing moves to a shorter distance this week with a Grade 3, 6-furlong sprint from Belmont Park. You never know when/how/if these speedy 2YO’s will and find their way onto the Derby Trail, so there is an advantage in watching them early. BYou’ll get the full context of their win (or loss) — something that is really hard to do from just videos, charts, or past performances.

A small field of 6 has always reduced to 5 with the scratch of Happy Like a Fool, who was to be ridden by rising jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Let’s step through the field:

  1. Red Peril: A fast maiden winner at Gulfstream Park in August. Florida’s summer meet still feels like Calder. He belongs (to round out the bottom of the field) but would be a significant surprise.
  2. Scratched
  3. Barry Lee: Well-traveled, he’s coming out of the Arlington-Washington Futurity, which was a good race in 1970’s. He was overmatched in the Saratoga Special, but this race isn’t as good as that one. Lots of trainer angles — De Pax wins and is great adding blinkers. May very well be the fittest of the bunch.
  4. Mojovation: Our requisite Todd Pletcher nominee. You always see his 2YO in these level sprints. A strong Saratoga debut win. But failed at 7/2 in the Hopeful — and failed badly at that. Maybe it was the moisture, maybe not. Feels like a basic contender — nothing more, nothing less.
  5. Smooth B:  The most experienced runner with 5 previous starts. He has an allowance win at 1-turn mile at Laurel and a decent showing in competitive a Monmouth stake. Hasn’t raced off the mid-Atlantic circuit so may find himself lacking the final furlong.
  6. Engage: A $550 purchase as a 2YO in training, he has run faster than any other horse in the field. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz. The main question is how he responds to the higher level of competition.


On paper, it seems like a two-horse race between Mojovation and Engage. And one of them will probably win. But I really like the chances of Smooth B and Barry Lee to hit the board.  So here’s an exacta play:

4,6 (Mojovation, Engage)

3,5 (Smooth B, Barry L)

Good Luck at the Races!

Ending the Mystery of the Inquiry

[I wrote this piece this summer after a series of questionable inquiries. It’s quite relevant, especially with the uproar over the Bayern decision. – SA]

As an industry, there’s been some small progress in communicating the mystery of the “Stewards’ Inquiry” to fans.  For example, NYRA publishes their stewards’ decisions online. But there’s still a great deal more that can be done.   As an example, let’s look at today’s 6th race at Belmont:

Stewards inquiry and an objection from trainer of the 2nd place finisher # 2 Make a Decision (C. Velasquez) for alleged interference within the vicinity   of the 1/8 pole. #2 Make a Decision racing in between #3 V. E. Day (J. Lezcano) and #4 Majestic Jess (I. Ortiz Jr.) takes a hold as #4 Majestic Jess comes out under a left handed crop.

 After reviewing the race video and hearing statements from the riders of #2 and #3 and in the  judgment of the stewards no change was warranted. 

It’s something, but it  doesn’t really tell us anything.  There’s no analysis or application — no rationale given as to what in the race video and jockey’s statement led to the conclusion.  We don’t have any idea what the stewards saw (or heard) that led them to make no change to the order of finish.

In contrast, I would prefer to see stewards adopt a simple format that stresses why the decision was made.   It would start with a statement of facts and the relevant rule for interference, but would also require that the stewards explicitly and clearly indicate their reasons.  

It could look like this:

  1. What are the facts of alleged interference?
  2. What is the rule for interference?
  3. Why/why not does this action constitute interference?

It’s a simple and relatively costless reform, especially when added to the limited information already released.  By requiring stewards to explicitly state their reasoning, it would eliminate the mystery of the inquiry-review, and it would inform the public exactly why a horse was taken down (or left up.) It is important that conclusory language is avoided in the reasoning, and instead, that the written decision provides insight into the stewards’ thinking.

All Day Racing Schedule for June 30 – July 5

An exciting week of races ahead, capped by a terrific day of stakes from New York on Saturday.  A few changes to note.  First, outside of major races, race previews will now appear in their entirety on twitter at  In addition, instead of featuring a single race, I will be focusing on one particular multi-wager sequence that can be played effectively by a recreational player.  This includes daily doubles, Pick 3’s, Pick 4’s, and Pick 5’s.The entire sequence will be previewed and hosted on twitter.

The website will continue to feature essays on handicapping as well as commentary on the sport, as well as previews of significant races.   I’m reworking the tag cloud to provide an easy way into the increasing content of the site.  In addition, a podcast is also set to launch later this week.  This week’s episode features handicapping author, Mark Cramer.  Mark’s books are the seminal works on value and bettor psychology, and are an absolute must for any serious horseplayer.   Mark now lives in Paris, but still keeps an eye on American racing, especially the classics.   We discuss value and recap the Belmont Stakes, among other topics.

I’ll be live on Twitter @alldayracing for the following:

Monday, June 30:  Delaware Park, Late T-bred Double (Turf and 2 year old), Races 6 and 7, Coverage begins 3:15 PM ET.

Wednesday, July 2:  Belmont Park, Turf Sprinting Double (2 6f turf sprints), Races 8 and 9, Coverage begins at 4:40 PM ET.

Thursday, July 3: Belmont Park, Early Pick 4, Races 2 through 5, Coverage begins at 1:30 P.M. ET.

Friday, July 4: Ellis Park, Early Maiden Claiming Double, Races 1 and 2, Coverage begins at 1:35 P.M. ET

Saturday, July 5:  Belmont Park, Stakes Coverage, featuring the Belmont Derby.   Coverage TBA.

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.


All Day Racing Schedule for Week of June 23 – June 28

Here’s the schedule for the week of June 23- June 28 at All Day Racing:

Monday, June 23:  Delaware Park, Race 6, Maiden Claiming $30K, 1 mile 70 yards, Fillies and Mares, 3 and up, Purse: $24K. Coverage begins at 3:15 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.   Coverage begins at 4:10 P.M. ET.

Thursday, June 26:  Race of the Day, Charles Town Races, Race 6, Allowance for non-winners of three lifetime, 4½ Furlongs. State-bred. Purse: $27K. Coverage begins at 9:00 P.M. ET

Friday, June 27: Race of the Day, Belmont Park, Race 7, 1st level Allowance, 6½ Furlongs. 3 and Up.  State-bred. Purse: $62K. Coverage begins at 5:50 P.M. ET

Saturday, June 28:  IOWA DERBY, Prairie Meadows.  Details to follow later in week.  Let’s kick off the second-half of the season for 3-year olds!  Check out detailed preview available Friday!  Let’s pick up where the Triple Crown left off!  Full coverage of all Stakes on the Prairie Meadows card live on Saturday evening on Twitter.  Don’t make other plans — this is always an exciting night — or at least, bring your smartphone with you!

And, of course, a bunch of other handicapping and racing content on the site and on twitter at @alldayracing!


Reviewing Maiden Claiming Week: Favorites, Plays, and Surprises

This past week, the Race of the Day focused on the maiden claiming ranks from around the country. There was still a good variety of races, with three different surfaces, four different tracks, three different distances, and, of course, a race for two years olds to cap it off.  Let’s review by looking at the charts, along with the predicted/actual favorite, whether I believed the favorite was risky, what plays I suggested, and the biggest surprise out of the race.

I track these because I like to assess the accuracy of  both my predictions about the public’s behavior and whether the favored horse is beatable.  Sometimes, these indicators can tell you more about your handicapping than temporary fluctuations (both positive and negative) in your ROI.  Notable surprises are both interesting, but also useful in future handicapping. Enjoy!

Monday, June 16:  Presque Isle Downs, 7th race, 6½ Furlongs, Dirt, PA-Bred Maiden Claiming $12.5K, 3 and up, Purse: $13,000.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  1/1A   Little Drummer/Burning Point 2/5
  • Favorite Status:  Beatable
  • Play/Rationale:  Textbook Blues (9/2) and Mission Man (9/1) as second time against artificial surface with improvement in first effort.
  • Winner:  Favorite
  • Notable Surprise:  Money Eyed Boy’s sire, Jet Star, had his first starter on artificial surface, which could bode well for the Pennsylvania sire at Presque Isle.

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.23.12 Wednesday, June 18:  Mountaineer Racetrack,1st race, 1 Mile, Dirt, Maiden Claiming $5K, 3 and up, Purse: $8.1K.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  Peekaboo Vision (1/2)
  • Favorite Status:  Beatable
  • Play/Rationale: Diamond Mind at 5-1 as a well-meant first-time starter with heavy risks on other contenders
  • Winner: Heza Belfast
  • Notable Surprise:  Hezabelfast was 0 for 26 with six seconds and nine thirds.  But he just rolled on by Peekaboo Vision and Diamond Mind, who had led in the stretch before tiring late.  That’s horse racing!

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.35.32 Thursday, June 19:  Belmont Park, 5th race, 1 Mile, Inner Turf, Maiden Claiming $40K, 3 and up, Purse $41K.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  Corinthian Summer (Even)
  • Favorite Status:  Beatable
  • Play/Rationale:  Shoot for the fences — Azorian and Hooping — with the beatable favorite taking way too much money.
  • Winner: Plated
  • Notable Surprise:  The “extreme cutback” from over 2 miles by Plated.  For those curious, FX is twice a year day-long meet in Charlottesville, VA for jumpers.  Learn something new every race!

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.37.18 Friday, June 20:  Lone Star Park, 6th Race, 5 Furlongs, Maiden Claiming $20K, 2 year olds, Purse $12K.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  Prime Pilot
  • Favorite Status:  Very Legitimate
  • Play/Rationale:  Prime Pilot — legitimate favorite that was playable down to even money.  Combine with Pick 3’s and Pick 4’s.
  • Winner: Favorite
  • Notable Surprise: The stronger part of the #1 entry, Nonobaby, was scratched by the track vet before the race, making it easier for Prime Pilot to romp.

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.41.59 All charts are: Copyright 2014 Equibase Company, LLC.

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!