Keeping Pace

Staff writer Frank Angst examines racing, handicapping, and other mysteries.

Preakness Pick: War of Will Gets Another Chance

In some ways, the debate over the Kentucky stewards' decision to disqualify Maximum Security from victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) now falls into the laps of horseplayers across the country. That's because a key question in handicapping the Preakness Stakes (G1) is: "How much was War of Will, and possibly other horses, bothered by Maximum Security coming out several... Read More

Potential to Improve Makes Vekoma Intriguing Derby Pick

After documenting the twists and turns of this year's Road to the Kentucky Derby, we'll take a break from writing about those events to answer the question on everyone's mind: Who do you like Saturday? The Derby of recent years reminds me more of the initial editions of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), where top horses with a few starts in different regions of the country--with few previous matchups... Read More

Road to the Kentucky Derby, By the Numbers

When Omaha Beach held off Improbable to win the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13 at Oaklawn Park, it wrapped up an especially exciting Road to the Kentucky Derby prep season. Before turning our focus to the actual race, I thought we could take a final look back at this year's prep season in a "by the numbers" format. 150 Points earned by Road to the Kentucky Derby points leader Tacitus. 2 Years in which... Read More

An Exciting Conclusion to Derby Points Series

When Churchill Downs changed its qualifying standards for the Kentucky Derby (G1) ahead of the 2013 edition of the race from graded stakes earnings to points earned in its designated Road to the Kentucky Derby series races, this is the type of season those racing executives surely imagined. While before the points system there were years where good horses would just get into the field or just get squeezed... Read More

International Horses With Derby Aspirations Meet at Meydan

Some of the top international runners under consideration for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) should sort themselves out March 30 in the UAE Derby Sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) at Meydan. Three runners of interest are based in Dubai with trainer Ahmed bin Harmash for owner Phoenix Ladies Syndicate. The connections said March 27 that should Walking Thunder... Read More

Not Improvising in New Orleans

Between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, plenty of visitors have wandered into New Orleans throughout its long history, but make no mistake, the equine star to date of the current Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet is in the Crescent City by plan. Last year trainer Mark Casse liked how the track with the long stretch, forgiving surface, and logical prep race series for 3-year-olds... Read More

Thayer: Tax Law Fix on Gambling Winnings a "Heavy Lift"

In a change that never should have occurred in the first place, Kentucky lawmakers eliminated the ability of gamblers to claim losses up to the amount of their winnings for tax year 2018 as part of a major tax reform that aimed to simplify the code by eliminating many deductions. While one certainly can question why Kentucky lawmakers would have stopped allowing gambling losses to be claimed against... Read More

Oaklawn Park Steps Up to Fill a Need

At this week's National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association convention in Clearwater Beach, Fla., Arkansas HBPA president Bill Walmsley explained his thought process when Oaklawn Park management outlined a possible plan this month to split the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) into two divisions. The track's plan was to offer a pair of $750,000 divisions of the Rebel. It required an additional... Read More

Gotham, Jeff Ruby Offer Options

So you're an owner with a 3-year-old who isn't quite ready to try two turns in a graded stakes, but you would like to pick up some qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1)--just in case stretching out to a classic distance could still be in the future. Or you're a trainer with a sophomore who has shown talent on turf or synthetic surfaces, and you'd like to see... Read More

Gates Beginning to Fill in Road to the Derby

After a bit of a slow start to the Road to the Kentucky Derby in terms of field size, horsemen's interest has been picking up as they try to qualify their 3-year-olds for the season's opening classic. The past seven races--counting the 11 starters in the March 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park--have featured field sizes larger or as large as last year. The 11 starters in the Fountain... Read More

Breeders' Cup Could Determine Europe's Top Award

The Breeders' Cup welcoming top international horses is not news, but it's worth pausing to consider the lineup for this year's World Championships that arrived from overseas. There is the current frontrunner for the Cartier Award as Europe's Horse of the Year, Roaring Lion, who already has won four group 1 races this year in England and Ireland. Roaring Lion, a Kentucky-bred son of Kitten's Joy, will... Read More

Five Breeders' Cup Winners Look for More Success

Three horses will try to defend their Breeders' Cup titles, and a pair of horses who won juvenile races at the event will look for more success in this year's World Championships. The three horses looking to repeat their 2017 success in the same race are Roy H in the TwinSpires Sprint (G1), Stormy Liberal in the Turf Sprint (G1T), and Talismanic in the Longines Turf (G1T). Also looking to add to their... Read More

Trio of Preps for New Breeders' Cup Race This Weekend

Looking for something new in a jam-packed weekend of stakes races, many of which serve as key steppingstones to the Breeders' Cup World Championships? The three North American Breeders' Cup Challenge races to the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs will be contested this weekend at Santa Anita Park, Belmont Park, and Keeneland. Santa Anita gets the ball rolling Oct... Read More

Thunder Snow Could Make History in Classic

When Godolphin Racing's Thunder Snow (IRE) starts in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) Sept. 29 at Belmont Park, it could mark an important step toward a historic run in the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. Thunder Snow has shipped to the United States with the goal of becoming the fifth horse to post victories in both the Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline... Read More

Derby Winners, Family, Springsteen, and John Asher

Many thoughts filled my head today (Aug. 27) on the news of John Asher's passing, a bunch all at once, and then seemingly one about every hour as I thought, “I can’t believe John is gone.” These are a few of the many pleasant memories. In terms of John Asher’s professionalism, I’ll share the most recent example. All writers and reporters will get this right away, for those who are not, I’ll try to... Read More

Justify Would be Second Undefeated Triple Crown Winner

Justify will look to become the 13th Triple Crown winner and second undefeated Triple Crown winner in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. The Road takes this opportunity to recall the four previous Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winners to enter the Belmont with an unblemished record.... Read More

WinStar Going for Third Belmont Win Since 2010

Should Justify win the Belmont, WinStar will become the first owner of the 21st century to have three Belmont winners. Also, WinStar would become the first owner since Belair Stud in the 1930s to have three or more Belmont winners in the same calendar decade. ... Read More

One Trend Against Justify in 2018 Preakness Stakes

As Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Justify prepares for the May 19 Preakness Stakes (G1), he has plenty of trends in his favor, including Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's amazing record of winning the Baltimore classic each of the four times he's entered the Derby winner. But there is one recent trend going against this year's Kentucky Derby winner: Six of the past seven... Read More

Pletcher Finishes 2018 as King of the Road to the Kentucky Derby

On April 27, trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Audible, Magnum Moon, Noble Indy, and Vino Rosso for their final pre-Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) workouts at Churchill Downs. That would be this year's respective Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner, Arkansas Derby (G1) winner, TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner, and Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets Stakes (G2) winner... Read More

4.5 Million Reasons to Love the New Tax Rules

About 2,000 bettors went home happy after playing the mandatory-payout Rainbow 6 wager March 31 at Gulfstream Park. Thanks to new tax reporting and withholding rules put in place during the fall, the joy figures to spread through racing for quite some time. Betting the Rainbow 6 on this year's Florida Derby day card at Gulfstream has provided the best example yet of how pari-mutuel wagering will benefit... Read More

Four Horses on the Derby Bubble

The connections of four horses being considered for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) will be watching the season's final two Road to the Kentucky Derby points races closely April 14. The race with the most potential to upset the apple cart is the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, which offers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to its respective top four finishers. Also in play is the... Read More

International Runners Could Shape Derby Points Bubble

Because a pair of international races could generate several Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) starters, this weekend's points races will be the most important weekend in determining where this year's Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points bubble will fall. As many as three horses based outside of North America could secure Derby spots this weekend, and a fourth horse, who likely... Read More

On Derby Trail, Horsemen Weigh Their Options

After punching through on the inside and rolling to a 4 1/2-length victory in the Feb. 19 Southwest Stakes (G3) in his first start at Oaklawn Park , a return trip to the Hot Springs, Ark., track seemed to be in order for My Boy Jack . But before owners Don't Tell My Wife Stables (Kirk Godby) and Monomoy Stables (Sol Kumin) and trainer Keith Desormeaux committed to a return trip to Oaklawn for the ... Read More

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