Keeping Pace

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

Kentucky Downs Race Raises Questions on Entry DQs

I believe a stewards’ ruling on a recent race at Kentucky Downs failed to follow the state policies in place on disqualifications when an entry is involved, although chief steward Barbara Borden believes the rule gives them latitude on such matters. As it turns out, even when given that latitude—which I don’t think is there—I still think they got it wrong. To the stewards’ credit, they also released... Read More

This Year’s Derby Horses Bring Added Experience

Looking at the number of starts in the past performances for horses entered in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), one half expects to see Real Quiet or Thunder Gulch listed among the runners. In terms of starts ahead of the Derby for this year's 3-year-olds, pushing the race back four months seemingly has pushed the classic back a few decades. With those added months to get some... Read More

Equine Safety Lessons Should be Learned the First Time

This is my Frankly Speaking column from today's (March 12) issue of BloodHorse Daily. If you haven't already downloaded the app or subscribed to the free BloodHorse Daily , you should. I didn't get far into the California Horse Racing Board's assessment of the spike in Thoroughbred fatalities last year at Santa Anita Park before I came across a recommendation that I most assuredly agreed with. It also... Read More

California Equine Fatalities Down Since Reforms

The initial equine fatality numbers for Southern California since March 29, when the tracks and racing regulator put sweeping reforms in place, are encouraging. While more numbers are needed before declaring any statistical significance, to date the rate of catastrophic injury during racing at Del Mar, Los Alamitos Race Course, and Santa Anita Park is below the national average of 2018 (the most recent... Read More

Belmont Pick: Tacitus Provides Plenty to Like

All eyes figure to be on the outside posts when the gates open for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) June 8 at Belmont Park as they briefly will house Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will in post 9 and morning-line favorite Tacitus in post 10. I'm in agreement with the morning line as this year's Belmont has some separation between the top two choices, War of Will at 2... Read More

Looking at the Varied Paths to the Belmont

Just breaking from the gate as planned in the June 8 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Belmont Park will separate War of Will from this year's other 3-year-olds as the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner is expected to be the lone horse to start in all three legs of this year's Triple Crown. Starting in the first two classics has proven a successful route in recent years, thanks to Triple Crown... Read More

War of Will Takes Aim at Elusive Preakness-Belmont Double

In just over two weeks, War of Will will try to join racing's most exclusive club: horses to start but fall short in the Kentucky Derby (G1) only to bounce back and win the final two classics. OK, there's much more interest and prestige in sweeping all three classics, but a whopping 13 horses have done that. Only 11 horses have lost the Derby, then won the other two Triple Crown races. Statistical... Read More

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

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