The El Camino Real Derby (GIII)

The Derby trail winds through Northern California this weekend with the Grade III El Camino Real Derby (3:50 Pacific Time). It’s an early 9f test with 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner (10-4-2-1). This is an interesting race with a good amount of uncertainty and well worth watching.

At the outset, Golden Gate Fields has a synthetic surface (Tapeta) — which, at least in theory, is better for several of the turf horses in the field. So, while I’d normally wait and see on any turf horse trying “dirt” on the Derby trail, I’m a bit more sympathetic to their chances today on the artificial. I’d still prefer a race over the surface and would be hesitant to accept a short price on any horse who hadn’t run yet over an artificial surface. As a general rule, I require a decent price on a horse trying to do something that he has never done before as I’d rather benefit, than be hurt, by uncertainty.

There are reasons to favor the pedigrees of the first-time artificial runners. Every horse is different, but going to sire stats can be a useful estimate of the likelihood that a runner will like a surface. The two that standout are Team Valor’s Dale Roman’s-trained Indianaughty, who is shipping in from Gulfstream after a nice 1st-level allowance win, and Metaboss, who comes off a maiden win after running second to Bolo in late November. Both Street Boss, the sire of Metaboss, and Indian Charlie, the sire of Indianaughty, are excellent artificial surface sires. 

The race lacks a participant with even a 80 Beyer over the surface. In fact, the highest any surface Beyer belongs to Mischief Clem, the Cal Cup Derby winner, with only an 85, who should challenge Indianaughty for top honors here. He owns the best win of all the participants (the aforementioned Cal Cup Derby) and, unlike Indianaughty and Metaboss, has already shown that he can run well over an artificial surface, with a good performance at Del Mar over the summer. Importantly, he has also improved as he has stretched-out. Returning to the artificial surface today could very well yield a career-best performance. He’s my pick for the top.

Conquest Typhoon is interesting, but hasn’t shown the speed that I like to see at this point in his career. A win is possible, but there’s usually a good deal of hype with horses owned by Conquest Stable, and usually find them best to avoid at low prices. The final horse to mention is local horse Cross the Line, who brings the highest track-specific Beyer to the race. That said, barring improvement, I expect him to be a bit too slow to find the top spot.

Good luck, and don’t forget about the Southwest Stakes from Oaklawn on Monday (President’s Day). Preview of that race coming soon!

Image: Josh Jackson, Copyright 2009.




The Sham Stakes (Grade III)

This week, continuing coverage of the Derby Trail moves to Santa Anita for the Sham Stakes. 8f — so a bit on the shorter side for these preps — and, of course, on the dirt for 3YO. It’s another 10-4-2-1 points race in the quest for Kentucky Derby points.

On paper, this isn’t the most interesting race. Calculator is the only entrant with Kentucky Derby points so far, and is by far the fastest of this group. He returns to the races off a 3-month layoff following a solid second to American Pharoah in the Frontrunner. I really like him before he was scratched in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to foot problems. He’s still a maiden — something that would cause some concern normally, but he’s faced top fields, including running 4th in the key maiden race from this summer, which I rate roughly comparable to a G3:

Screenshot 2015-01-09 18.00.19



Outside of the usual background risk (“no-show,” “racing luck”, etc), there’s are two main risk to a Calculator win today. The first is the layoff — something that his trainer doesn’t excel at — and the general risk of a top 2YO returning and being expected to match previous performances, especially given the injury.

That said, the race, at least on paper, seems to lack a logical contender to challenge Calculator. This doesn’t mean that one of the other horses won’t improve — it’s likely that one of them will. But simply that its very hard to isolate which particular one might be the upstart threat.  Unblunted likely will receive some support — he was impressive here at 7f in October, and if you throw out the artificial surface try, has some solid reason to improve on the return to Santa Anita. Rockinakitten debuts for the D. O’Neil barn. I’ve been pretty bearish on horses coming out of Calder/Gulfstream Park West, so I’ll rely on that in avoiding him today.

Even with the risks, I still see Calculator as a heavy favorite and a fair wager all the way down to 4/5, for those who are willing to play low-favorites (and you should.) Perhaps the public is freaked out by his maiden status and gives a decent price, but I doubt it.

If Calculator wins, he’ll move into a tie for 2nd place in Kentucky Derby points with 14. He’ll no longer be a maiden, and we’ll be anticipating his rematches against the top West Coast contenders in the coming weeks. If he is upset, however, we’ll certainly be talking about a new contender — remember that nobody else in the field has earned any points yet. At the very least, one of these other horses will come away with 4-points — not enough to qualify, but the very beginnings of a campaign that might squeeze you into the gate in Louisville.

Good luck at Santa Anita!


The Jerome (Grade III)

Attention turns back to the Kentucky Derby trail this weekend, with the GIII Jerome from Aqueduct. 9 3YO’s are entered and will contest a distance of about 8.3f on the inner dirt track. 10 Derby qualifying points will be awarded to the winner — the same as every other 2/3YO prep race until the Risen Star and Fountain of Youth in late February, when the points rise to 50 for the winner (50/2010/5 — 1st through 4th place finishes). The points will rise again to 100 with the final major preps of the spring (100/40/20/10). Note that the 4th place finisher in these races will earn as many points as the winner here.

This shouldn’t suggest however that the points earned in these early races aren’t important. 20 horses will qualify for the Derby — and those who run well in the later preps will be among the top qualifiers. However, at the bottom end of the qualifying range, a few cobbled together points in the fall and winter could be the difference between qualifying and not qualifying, especially if that horse runs up the track in the later preps.

Here a list of the horses that have already earned Kentucky Derby points who are running in the Jerome:

  • El Kabeir: 11

That’s it. With a win here, El Kabeir would now amass 21 points, which is more than the minimum amount needed to qualify for the Derby the past two years. So, with a win, he would pretty much come close to guaranteeing his spot in the Derby field — a fairly nice position to be in at this point in the season. As for anyone else in the race, they’d likely need to couple a good performance here with a stronger performance down the road to make it to the gate in Louisville.

On paper, El Kabeir, who I liked at 7-1 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, seems a clear standout. He moved forward back on a dry track and around two turns, but likely won’t get those conditions tomorrow:

Screenshot 2015-01-02 12.11.43

This lowers his projected speed figure, and unless El Kabeir rates a bit, the outside post might prove a bit tricky. Calvin Borel was set to ride, but won’t due to the passing of his sister-in-law. Hopefully, a skilled local jock will pick up the ride, one who understands the nuances of navigating a sloppy inner track.

The weather-risk is enough to make me look elsewhere, although the remainder of the field is fairly unaccomplished. Ostrolenka, who ran well in NY-bred stakes, didn’t far too well last out in his open-company debut in the Remsen. He could turn it around today, especially against this mostly unproven field, but he’ll have to prove it to me a bit more before getting any action at this level. He also struggled in his lone start over a wet track (although it was his debut.) I like Nasa a bit, and not only because these connections are the same as Smarty Jones, one of my favorite horses of all-time, who also happens to be the sire.

Back in 2003, Smarty Jones won the PA Nursery Stakes as well, although it was a bit more authoritatively than Nasa, who earned an 86 Beyer in winning by 2 1/4 lengths:

Screenshot 2015-01-02 11.43.18

Smarty, of course, would go on to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown and lose to Birdstone in the final furlong of the Belmont. Like Nasa, he made his open stakes debut at Aqueduct in the first week of January (schedule changes have replaced the ungraded Count Fleet with the G3 Jerome):

Nasa will be stretching out for the first time, which offers some potential for improvement with Smarty Jones as his sire and Seattle Slew as his damsire. He’s a tough read, but should be helped by the wet track surface, always a plus. Given the likely wet track and the fact he should enjoy the extra ground and very well could be good value at a price, and certainly it is more than reasonable to use him in exactas with El Kabeir.

Ackeret is the final contender worth mentioning. An impressive allowance winner last out over a wet, fast track at Parx, he’s another that will be stretching out for the first time. He’s by freshman sire Mach Ride, himself a graded stakes winner sprinter, but it’s far to early to responsibly make predictions on his sire’s stamina. I typically like to wait a race with his trainer on the stretchout, especially moving from 6f.

Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how the public bets the Jerome given the rain. If concerns about the rain raise El Kabeir’s price to 5/2, he’s a solid play, but I’d be surprised to see him priced that high at post time. Nasa certainly seems a reasonable play at 5-1 or better. I’ll use these two in multi-race wagers (P3, P4), and I’ll leave anyone else off the tickets. Good luck at the races this weekend!

Image: Naoki Nakashimi, Copyright 2010.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic

I’ve been prepping for this race all year. It started with the Derby preps, continued through the Kentucky Derby, and an in-person trip to the Belmont Stakes. I’ve covered the 3YO stakes throughout the summer, including many race previews here on All Day Racing. I also kept an eye on the older handicap division to get a good sense of those  contenders.  I rely upon this research in analyzing the marquee North American horse race, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I’ve already discussed Shared Belief in two separate articles — one and two — and I see him as every bit of the legitimate favorite. That said, I only feel comfortable with an automatic 4/5 play, and I don’t see him being that low. The other horse who I have discussed is the enigmatic Bayern, who is an example of a public bias/mistake — as opposed to track bias — play that I cover in depth in the contrarian guide. Suffice to say here, he has several advantages and should be a square price (for more information on Bayern and more, check out the guide). Needless to say, I like Bayern a great deal. This race will likely come down to a very close finish between these two.

On paper, it appears that there are a number of other candidates. But their flaws are open to see. California Chrome was best when he was better than everyone. But, at the time, he still wasn’t that good, in absolute terms; his speed figures were always below average historically. Now that others have caught up, he isn’t as dominant. He could win, but don’t bet on it. Tonalist, a horse that I love and have supported on multiple occasions, seems to have a penchant for Belmont. In the recent past, he reminds me of Flat Out, who loved the Belmont track. That’s enough reason for me to pitch him out of the exacta; I much prefer that a horse be on his best for this race. V-E Day intrigues. He’s the horse that single-handedly made Saratoga at All Day Racing with nice paying wins in the Curlin (9-1) and the Travers (19-1). He originally wasn’t slated for this race, but that only sends me positive signals. Jimmy Jerkins isn’t coming here unless he thinks there’s a real good chance for a payday. Note, however, that V-E Day doesn’t need to find  the win spot with this $5 million purse. There’s $900K for second and $500K for 3rd. This is more than the winner receives for many G1 races.

Toast of New York deserves a strong mention, although he is trying conventional dirt for the first time. I still think he’s just a slight notch below the two best in here, but he’s probably the biggest risk to upset the party. He has shown excellent stamina already at 10 furlongs, which can be can this race’s biggest challenge. But, as for Toast of New York, he’ll be on tickets, as a real outsider threat for the win spot, if something goes a little bit wrong for the top two. The rest of the pack are just a notch below in my estimation. Cigar Street is getting some buzz, but he’ll have to be better than he’s ever been. That’s a tall task for this race.

Here’s how I would play $100 on the Breeders’ Cup Classic (as of Tuesday — will update with any changes):

$54 to Win: Bayern

$12 Exacta Box ($24): Shared Belief/Bayern

$1 4-horse Trifecta Box ($24):  Shared Belief, Bayern, Toast of New York, and V-E Day.

Even though I am hesitant about V-E Day’s win chances, I am going to put him in all positions. Too much precision, at least for my wagering, leads to a less return. Ultimately, Bayern is the key to the ticket. If he wins, we win. If he runs well with Shared Belief, we win. If he runs well with Toast of New York and V-E Day, we win even bigger. If he doesn’t run well, the other three must run well, but there still is this possibility. Of course, there is much more risk with exotic wagers, which is why over 50% of the total wager is in a win. Good luck!

Check out “Stealing Money from the Crowd,” a contrarian guide to the Breeders’ Cup. Available here and on Google Play. Coming soon to iBooks.

Will Mr. Speaker have the floor? A look inside his dirt pedigree

[With the Travers a few days away, Bob Schless did some digging into the pedigree of Mr. Speaker. He’s also written an excellent piece on Bayern. Read on for more. SA] On July 5, Mr. Speaker, ignored at 23-1 odds, found a seam along the rail in the $500,000 G1 Belmont Derby and in a stretch run defeated the Aiden O’ Brien traveler Adelaide by a neck to win the mile and a quarter turf race. He’s been flattered ever since then as Adelaide went on to win The Secretariat last weekend while the 4th place finisher Gailo Chop won a Group 2 in France. Here is the video:

Why did his connections decide to point him to the G1 Travers Stakes on dirt? He’s raced in 8 of 9 career starts on either grass or synthetics. His only dirt try was a 7th place finish in the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream. What I’m not going to do is sit here and question Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey’s direction for the horse. What I will do his examine his pedigree to see how well he’ll take to dirt and further if he’s got the talent to be competitive in this race.

Mr. Speaker has 4 wins, 1 place, and 1 show out of 9 career starts. He finished off his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the Grade 3 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park. His 3 year old year began with The Holy Bull, his only dirt try. He finished 7th — 11 lengths back. I feel this race is a throw out because he uncommonly raced near the lead with a swift pace which led to him tire at the end. Mr. Speaker runs his best races when allowed to fall back and make a run with his big turn of foot as he did in The Belmont Derby. In 2014. along with winning the Belmont Derby he won the Grade 3 Lexington on polytrack and finished a half length 2nd in the Grade 3 Palm Beach.

What I will do his examine his pedigree to see how well he’ll take to dirt and further if he’s got the talent to be competitive in this race.

So in my eyes, Mr. Speaker may have the talent to run with Tonalist, Wicked Strong and Bayern in this race given his accomplishments on the track. Let’s look at his pedigree to find the clues.

Looking at his dam sire line shows us Unbridled then Fappiano and finally Mr. Prospector. First of all they were all dirt runners. As sires, their most famous offspring were dirt runners as well. Unbridled is the last stallion to have sired at least one winner in each of the American Triple Crown races: Grindstone, Kentucky Derby, 1996; Red Bullet, Preakness Stakes, 2000; and Empire Maker, Belmont Stakes, 2003. One of Grindstone’s foals, Birdstone, upset Smarty Jones to win the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Birdstone, in turn, sired Mine That Bird, a gelding that won the 2009 Kentucky Derby and Summer Bird, a colt that won the 2009 Belmont Stakes, giving Unbridled three generations of Triple Crown race winners. Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby as well in 1990 as well as a Breeders’ Cup Classic that same year. As a broodmare sire he is known to pass along a bunch of stamina to his offspring as well (8.28 AWD). Fappiano, Mr. Speaker’s 2nd dam sire, won The Met Mile and Forego on the race track. He also has an interesting sire connection for the Triple Crown.  He was the grandsire of two different horses that combined to win all three U.S. Triple Crown races in the same year when Real Quiet won the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and Victory Gallop won the 1998 Belmont Stakes. Fappiano too gives off a significant amount of distance as a broodmare sire (8.21AWD). Mr. Prospector was a lightning fast dirt sprinter who has created a whole sire line full of classic distance dirt winners. Mr. Speaker’s three dam sires all have dirt in their pedigree and were champion race horses who went on to produce classic champions, so this bodes well for Mr. Speaker’s chances to excel on Saratoga dirt next Saturday.

Mr. Speaker’s dam is Salute. She had two stake’s placings in the Grade 2 Demoiselle and Grade 3 Tempted.  She is the daughter of the undefeated all time great filly Personal Ensign. Not only did she light up the track but she knocked it out in the breeding shed as well, becoming Kentucky Broodmare of the Year in 1996. She produced 3 Grade 1 winners and 1 grade placed runner, Our Emblem, who sired derby winner War Emblem. Through her daughter My Flag she had three generations of success in the Breeders’ Cup. No other mare has duplicated this feat. His 3rd dam is 1988 Broodmare of the Year Grecian Banner, who besides giving out Personal Ensign also foaled G1 winner Personal Flag (million dollar earner). Mr. Speaker’s 4th dam is Dorine, a champion sprinter out of Argentina. Finally his 5th dam Doria was a multiple stakes winner in Argentina as well. Once again you see females who ran on dirt and so did their moms and dads. Mr. Speaker is out of the female family number 6 that produced the 2002 Broodmare of the Year and blue hen mare Toussaud. She had five different Grade 1 winners from five different stallions, including the great Empire Maker. This line up of mares will take Mr. Speaker a long way towards trying to win The Travers Saturday.

Mr. Speaker’s sire line is Pulpit, A.P. Indy and Seattle Slew. Pulpit won The Fountain of Youth and Bluegrass Stakes before finishing fourth in the 1997 Kentucky Derby. He suffered an injury in the race and was retired. Much like his sire, A.P. Indy, Pulpit proved to be a very successful stallion. This past year he was the grandsire of Untappable, California Chrome and Tonalist. He also has 2 Breeders’ Cup Winners in Corinthian (Dirt Mile) and Stardom Bound (Juvenile Fillies). His foals have earned more than 60 million dollars. Hall of Famer A.P. Indy, Mr. Speaker’s 2nd sire, won The Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1992 while earning just under 3 million dollars on the racetrack in just 11 career starts. In 2003 and 2006 he also became the Leading Sire in North America. Both Pulpit and A.P. Indy give off great amounts of stamina to their offspring. A.P. Indy has sired over 150 stakes winners and over 30 Grade 1 winners. He is also a known sire of sires, giving us Bernardini, Mineshaft, Malibu Moon, and Majestic Warrior. His dad, Seattle Slew, is the only horse to ever win the Triple Crown while undefeated. He also passed along a very high Average Winning Distance of 8.54 to his offspring and was the Sire of the year in 1984. All three of these horses would qualify as dirt horses: they raced on dirt and there best offspring were dirt runners. There  is a ton of brilliance in Mr. Speaker’s sire line, and distance as well. This is once again another area of his pedigree that stamps Mr. Speaker’s abilities to excel on dirt and take on all comers in this race.

Read Bob Schless’ profile of Bayern at his blog here.

Image: Dave, “Vintage Postcard, House of Representatives, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.” Copyright 2007.

Bob Schless on Super Saver

[A few weeks back, Bob Schless penned a very timely article on the hottest freshman sire, Super Saver. WIll he become the first Kentucky Derby winner since Unbridled to sire a Kentucky Derby Winner? Great, detailed analysis as usual. SA]

To win a Kentucky Derby, you have to be a well-rounded individual–a horse with the speed, stamina, stoutness, and physical courage not only to withstand the rigors of training for that race, but also to win it. Super Saver embodied this. He also has some great attributes to offer as a sire as well: a talented career on the track; a superb female family with bloodlines full of class and stamina; a sire that gave off horses possessing good size and scope, quality and strength, and a balanced look that contributes to their athleticism. Super Saver is off to a hot start at stud, ranking among the nation’s best Freshman Sires of 2014. He already has 3 impressive winners out of 13 starters this summer, and by looking at the top notch mares Win Star Farms has bred him to there is a lot to like about their ability to get better as the distance gets longer. Also, owners paid an average of $100,803 for his yearlings in 2013 so they must look pretty nice in the sales ring. Trainer Mark Cassie said in April, 2014,”Everyone is looking at these Super Saver’s-We’re always looking for Derby-type horses.”  I know it’s extremely early but Super Saver has every right to give out another Kentucky Derby Champion somewhere down the line. Let’s examine it.

Racing Career:

Super Saver’s racing career was filled with highs and lows. He began his career breaking his maiden in his second attempt in a mile MSW race at Belmont by an impressive 7 lengths. In his first two-turn race he broke a stakes record at Churchill Downs in The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes for 2 year olds, clocking a mile and sixteenth in a time of 1:42.83 and winning from gate to wire  by 5 lengths. The previous mark was held by Captain Steve in 1999. The pinnacle of his career came at 3 in The Kentucky Derby. Going off with odds of 9-1, he came from 6th place to skim the rail on a muddy track and win by 2 1/2 lengths. This was his Jockey’s Calvin Borel’s 3rd Kentucky Derby winner in the previous four years. It was also his trainer’s first Kentucky Derby win in 24 tries. Pletcher said after the race, “I’m always asked: Have you won the Kentucky Derby? Now I look forward to answering it. ” He also said this about the race, “Something that was overlooked in the Derby is that everyone made it out to be that this horse didn’t get a great trip and that horse didn’t get a good trip.  Super Saver was able to get a great trip because he was able to put himself in all the right spots and every time Calvin needed him to do something, he did it.” In the Preakness, Super Saver lugged home a disappointing eighth. It was the worst Preakness finish by a Kentucky Derby Winner in 4 decades. He followed that up with a 4th place finish in the Haskell and a 10th place finish in The Travers. After the race Super Saver underwent a full veterinary exam, which showed that the colt had bruising and inflammation in all four of his cannon bones. Win Star decided to retire him with Elliot Walden saying,“The final decision to retire Super Saver was a difficult one that may not be popular with fans but should be very popular with our breeders. The bone bruising, discovered by Dr. Larry Bramlage DVM, which limited his performance during the latter half of this year should subside with time. However, it created a slight risk that he would not return to the form he showed as a two year old and through the Kentucky Derby. He has nothing more to prove.”  He ended his career with 10 starts: 3 wins, 2 place, 1 show with earnings of $1,889,766. Now let’s look at Super Saver’s pedigree, which in my eyes is a royal one.


When your half-brother goes for $1.7 Million at the 2013 Keenland September Sale, you know you possess a superb pedigree. Super Saver’s female family is a direct descendant of *La Troienne, the most influential mare of the twentieth century. His dam, Supercharger, hails from the classy Phipps Family and is a full sister to Grade 1 winner and young sire Girolamo, as well as She’s a Winner, dam of Grade 1 winner and sire Bluegrass Cat. She is also a full sister to Grade 2 winner Lord of the Game, stakes winner Sonoma Cat, Grade 2-placed Cal Nation, Grade 2 winner Daydreaming (Dam of Imagining) and Grade 3 winner Accelerator. Finally, she is the dam of Grade 3 winner Brethren. His granddam, Get Lucky, won the Grade 3 Affectionately Handicap and is a full sister to Travers winner Rhythm. Dance Number, the third dam, won the Grade 1 Beldame and is a half-sister to the Multiple Grade 1 route winner Private Account (sire of undefeated Personal Ensign). Fourth dam Numbered Account was a Champion Juvenile Filly of 1971 and equaled a Keenland track record for 9 furlongs on dirt. So as you can see Super Saver hails from mares of class and stamina. His dam sire is the hall of famer A.P. Indy, who won the Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic and sired Rags to Riches, The 2007 Belmont Winner. His 2nd dam sire is Seattle Slew, the great Triple Crown Winner. His 3rd dam sire Bold Reasoning’s breeding career was short lived but he did sire Seattle Slew. Looking at this group of dam sires you can understand how Super Saver was able to get the classic distance of the Derby. Finally, his sire was the great Marias Mon. Her racing career was short lived (she was the Champion Juvenile of 1995) but she was very successful as a sire, knowing to put a lot of stamina in to her horses. Besides Super Saver, Marias Mon also sired 2001 Kentucky Derby Winner Monarchos, who ran the 2nd fastest winning time in the history of the race. This is a rarity in this sport (to sire 2 Kentucky Derby winners). So by taking in Super Saver’s pedigree, one can see that he is giving off a lot of stamina from top to bottom and the mares on his distaff side feed him with class.


Super Saver bred superb books his first three seasons, encompassing 369 total mares. He ranks among the top sales sires of 2014, with his juveniles averaging 7 1/2 times the fee and yearlings averaging 5 1/2 times the fee, including $750,000, $675,000, $600,000, $525,000, $400,000, $360,000, $325,000, $320,000, $250,000, $240,000, $230,000. It is quite obvious that the classy outfit Win Star Farms is breeding him with a handful of fine mares who have distance-oriented pedigrees. Let’s take a look at 2 Super Saver sophomores that won in their first starts and look at their prospects for running longer distances down the road.

I Spent It (Super Saver-Rateeba by Sky Mesa)

I Spent It broke his maiden at first asking on July 2 in a 5F MSW at Belmont Park, getting up late and winning by 3/4 lengths. He is trained by Anthony Dutrow and was ridden by Javier Castellano. His time was 58:11. His win was the first one for Super Saver as a sire. He is also Super Saver’s 3rd most expensive 2-year-old sold at auction this year, at the price of $600,000. Video:

I Spent it comes from a pretty classy group of mares on his dam side and his dam sires give him a good amount of stamina as well. In my estimation not only does I Spent It have the right to go long and eventually achieve success at classic distances but he is inbred to A.P. Indy on a 3SX4D cross as well as Mr. Prospector on a 4SX4DX5D cross. Impressive stuff.

Competitive Edge (Super Saver-Magdalena’s Chase by Cape Town)

Competitive Edge broke his maiden as well at first asking in a dominating performance going 6 furlongs in a MSW on July 26 at Saratoga, winning by 10 1/4 lengths. He is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez. Pletcher said after the race, “He has never disappointed us in anything that he has done, literally, from the first time we breezed him. He continually showed us he’s a very talented colt, and every time we did something with him it was impressive. So we had high hopes coming into today. You never know when you run one for the first time. We were impressed, but not surprised”. They are pointing the $750,000 2-year-old purchase to the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on September 1.


Here is another Super Saver that has stakes winning mares and ones that are connected with great company. Also, by looking at this dam sire line you can make a nice argument that running longer distances shouldn’t be a problem for Competitive Edge. He too has many crosses in his bloodlines: 4S x 4D Seattle Slew, 4S x 4D Mr. Prospector, 5S x 5D Buckpasser, 5S x 5D Secretariat, 5S x 5D Northern Dancer. Now there’s a major boost of distance.

Conclusion: When looking at Super Saver as a sire, what not only impresses me is his pedigree and his professionalism but the type of yearlings he is shooting out that are being bought up at big numbers at auction. They must be very attractive to the bloodstock agents, pinhookers, trainers and owners to be selling the way they are. I am not surprised given the qualities that Super Saver possesses and the classy mares Win Star Farms have collected for him to breed to. Although Super Saver seems to have been bred with stamina on both sides of his family, Todd Pletcher was quoted as saying that Super Saver, “was the fastest 2 year old I ever trained”. The brilliance is evident. Once again it is early, but I’m under the belief that the potential for Super Saver to sire a Kentucky Derby Winner is there. And I think it can happen sooner rather then later because he is being bred to the best of the best right out of the starting gate.

Image: Bill Brine, “Kentucky Derby 2014.” Creative Commons 2.0. Copyright 2014.


The West Virginia Derby (GII): Now and Then

I enjoy Mountaineer racetrack, which races during the evening from March to December. Anyone wanting to gain expertise in the nuances of conditioned $5K claimers would be wise to play. But, on Saturday, the track takes a break from its workman-like cards to host several stakes races, highlighted by the GII West Virginia Derby for three-year olds going with a purse of $750K.

This is the sixth installment of the race at its current GII grading and is a particularly deep renewal of this nine-furlong race. This year’s race is especially notable for the presence of three 2014 Kentucky Derby starters: Candy Boy (13th) Vicar’s in Trouble (19th), and Tapiture (15th). In fact, the past five years, it’s been quite uncommon to see Derby runners here, with only Overanalyze, Hansen, and 2009 Derby Winner Mine that Bird having run in both. None of them found the winner’s circle — a streak that likely could end this year.

It’s always great to see horses return from the grueling Triple Crown trail during the three-year old season. These three are all making their second starts since the Derby, but only Tapiture can claim a win in his last out — doing it nicely in the Matt Winn Stakes (although Candy Boy may deserve a pass given the beast who is Shared Belief). Vicar’s in Trouble certainly has some past excuses. He drew the dreaded “1” post position for the Derby and raced in the mud in the Iowa Derby. But, that said, this is a horse that has run his best when he gets the lead. That’s no given today.  The public will likely bet these three heavily — although they make back off Vicar’s in Trouble a bit — and the winner will likely be be one of them.

Of the other horses in this year’s field, For Goodness Sake brings the best speed. Claimed from Chad Brown in February, this horse was scintillating in two performances at Churchill during the spring meet. He also has won at the 9f distance – something that only Vicar’s in Trouble has done among the rest of the field. He’d need to improve yet again, and might need to rate off what could be a hot pace. But, of the later developing horses, he probably has the best shot. Divine View ships from the mid-atlantic circuit for Larry Jones. He’d need major improvement, or regression from the others to find the winner’s circle. The rest are longshots.

To get even more excited for Saturday’s race, enjoy a look back at the past five years of the West Virginia Derby:


Screenshot 2014-07-31 12.39.01






Screenshot 2014-07-31 12.49.26







Screenshot 2014-07-31 12.51.45






Screenshot 2014-07-31 13.03.57






Screenshot 2014-07-31 13.06.46





Image: “West Virginia”, Noe Alfaro, Copyright 2013.

Belmont Park, Race 3, 2:05 PM ET

Race of the Day

Belmont Park, Elmont, NY, Race 3, 2:05 PM ET

First-Level Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, 3 year olds, Purse: $77K

An impressive purse is on the line for five three year olds in the third race from Belmont Park. Roman Approval (#1, 6-1) has scratched.

It’s quite possible that we’ll see some stakes runners emerge from this race, with the a slew of competitive graded events still on tap for the second half of the summer.  The race starts with the even-morning morning-line favorite Charge Now (#2, 1/1) for William Mott.  Charge Now is a son of Tiznow.  A Winstar farm homebred, he’s out of the same mare as Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, Supercharger.  He’s bred for greatness and has shown speed on the track in his short career.

Getting past Charge Now is difficult, but Lieutenant Seany O (#4, 5-1) has been racing well since in the David Jacobson barn.  He returns to a route — his preferred distance.  He certainly could be a factor today and rates an outside threat to Charge Now. Long Water (#6, 3-1)  is a Kiaran McLaughlin trained, Darley home-bred that has finally begun to touch his potential.  Nevertheless, he’s a bit slower than either Charge Now or Lieutenant Seany O.  Howl (#5, 12-1) comes out of a maiden claiming win and is a bit too slow.  However, he excelled in his first try on the Belmont dirt track, and could put in another solid effort today.  Steve Came Through (#3, 30-1) is outclassed.


  1. Will Charge Now emerge as a contender in the three-year old division? He’s well-bred and has shown good speed on the track.  A superb performance will vault him up the charts.
  2. How will Lieutenant Seany O appreciate the added distance?  He’s been a new horse for Jacobsen, and could very well win if Charge Now does not improve.
  3. Is Howl a potential Belmont Park “Horse for Course”?  It’s one explanation of his improvement last time, although he’s still likely too slow here.


Charge Now should be the best in the race.  But Lieutenant Seany O offers some serious upside at a price, and certainly is a strong contender for second.  We’ll check the exacta prices during our livehost @alldayracing on twitter.


The Kentucky Derby, 6:24 ET

Churchill Downs, Louisviille, KY, Race 11, Kentucky Derby

Post Time: 6:24 EST, Purse: $2.2 million

There’s great racing all day, but there’s nowhere else to go on Derby day than the race we’ve been waiting for all year.  I’ve gone into great detail on the Derby elsewhere on this site (, so this will mainly be my analysis of the race.

The Derby is the biggest race for this sports, both to insiders and outsiders.  Today, we’ll have 19 three-year olds attempting to run 1 1/4 miles — longer than they’ve ever gone before.  While any horse in the field can win the Derby (and often it’s a surprise), there are a few betting tips that I typically follow.

First, I like to see a horse have the ability to come off the pace and close.  With 19 horse, you often get the horses going too fast too early.  Second, I like to see a horse that is bred well and should get the extra distance. Third, I like to get a price — it doesn’t have to be huge, but it should compensate for the risk.


  • Will California Chrome bring his California speed to Churchill Downs?  This is the question of the race.  If he runs his best race, he’s going to win.
  • Will there be a hot pace?  A hotter pace?  A suicidal pace?
  • Will any of the frontrunners — Vicar’s in Trouble, Uncle Sigh, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, California Chrome, General A Rod, Wildcat Red, or Chitu — be faster than the others?
  • Will Medal Count like the dirt surface?


The Derby often is influenced by the trip the horse will get.  And it’s notoriously difficult (and usually not useful) to predict trips.  So, we have to demand a price to deal with this risk .

With all that in mind, let’s turn to the horses. After going through the field, I was most impressed with Wicked Strong, who ran fast enough to win here in his Wood outing.  He benefitted from a fast pace there, but he should here, too.  Danza is another that catches the eye, along with an impressive General A Rod.  I expect Samraat to be noisy on the turn and stubborn in the stretch.  Medal Count could be the winner, too.  He’ll need to like the dirt and improve, but the Dynaformer breeding is very tempting.

I usually play the Derby Trifectas and Superfectas — it’s the only time of the year that I play those bets.  But there’s a bit of a mythicism about those bets and how they often pay in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands.  It’s Wicked Strong on top for me, combined with some Saamrat, and the above horses.  Here we go!  


Sometimes champions come from humble beginnings.  California Chrome is a champion.  Bravo and congratulations.  Commanding Curve, Danza, andWicked Strong all ran well but the pace wasn’t too fast and California Chrome was just too good.   It is will be interesting to break down why the pace was surprisingly soft. On to Baltimore, where I wouldn’t be surprised to see California Chrome at odds-on.