Who Will Win the Big 'Cap Showdown?

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

In what may very well go down as the race of the year, the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 8th will feature a spectacular showdown between Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge—the 1-2 finishers in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)—as well as Game On Dude, who is shooting for an unprecedented three-peat in the "Big ‘Cap."

There are also two major Kentucky Derby preps on the schedule for Saturday—the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) and the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II). So without further delay, let’s start handicapping!

Santa Anita Handicap

Mucho Macho Man is the 9-5 morning line favorite off a fourteen-length victory in the January 18th Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, but with Game On Dude looming as the lone front-runner—a situation ‘Dude has not encountered since his romping win in the Pacific Classic (gr. I)—Mucho Macho Man may find himself in the unenviable position of having to keep Game On Dude honest on the lead.

If that scenario does unfold, it could potentially set the race up for Will Take Charge. Since his nose defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic—a race in which ground loss on the final turn may have cost him the victory—the son of Unbridled’s Song has won the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, edging Game On Dude by a head, and finished second in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) on February 9th. In that race, Will Take Charge had to wait for racing room at a critical time on the far turn, allowing eventual winner Lea to steal a large lead entering the homestretch. Will Take Charge tried his best to catch the lonely leader, but fell 1 ½ lengths short at the wire. Nevertheless, he ran his final three-eighths in approximately :35 1/5 seconds—a stellar time—and should appreciate the additional furlong that he will find in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Selection: Will Take Charge

San Felipe Stakes

Bob Baffert’s up-and-coming Bayern was as impressive as could be winning a one-mile Santa Anita allowance race on February 13th by fifteen lengths, finishing up under a light hand-ride while running his final two quarters in :24 flat. Bayern will undoubtedly face more pace pressure today (he ran the opening half of his allowance romp in just :47.77), but I don’t think he has to be on the early lead and could prove just as successful with a pace-tracking trip.

If anyone is going to beat Bayern, I think it will be his stablemate, Midnight Hawk. Winner of the one-mile Sham Stakes (gr. III) back in January, Midnight Hawk lost some of his budding reputation when third as the favorite in February’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II). However, I thought his performance that day was actually pretty good. He was a bit rank early on when his jockey attempted to rate him off the pace, but once settled down, he made a strong challenge to draw within a head of the lead as they passed the eighth pole. Although he tired late to lose by 1 ¾ lengths, he has turned in four excellent workouts since then, and appears primed for a rebound.

Selection: Bayern

Tampa Bay Derby

Trainer Mark Casse appears to hold a strong hand in the Tampa Bay Derby, with Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Conquest Titan and Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) fourth-place finisher Matador looming as two of the major contenders in this ten-horse field. Of the two, Conquest Titan will offer lower odds, but I like Matador to out-perform his stablemate. In the Sam F. Davis, Matador was making his first start on dirt, and his first start in 2 ½ months, yet was only beaten a length despite racing wide and being severely bumped from both sides in deep stretch.

Another horse I like is Hy Kodiak Warrior, who was beaten just two lengths by the well-regarded Top Billing when third in a January 3rd allowance race at Gulfstream Park. He has been training very well at Calder, turning in three consecutive bullet workouts, and will race on Lasix for the first time this Saturday. Expect him to put in a solid run from off-the-pace, along with East Hall, who was fourth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) just two weeks ago.

Vinceremos will likely be favored off his win in the Sam F. Davis, but he raced very greenly in the homestretch that day, and it nearly cost him the victory. If he turns in a more professional run on Saturday, he can definitely contend for the victory, but the presence of talented new challengers like Conquest Titan and Hy Kodiak Warrior makes me tempted to look elsewhere for the winner.

Selection: Hy Kodiak Warrior

So, who do you like this Saturday? Who will win the Big ‘Cap showdown? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Leave a Comment:


Hey, Keelerman: I, too, have been looking forward to Matador this year so I'm hoping it will be a Casse exacta.  I also like Bayern - who wouldn't?  But I think the S.A. Handicap has pushed the triple crown stuff to the side and I'm rooting for Game On Dude. I'm just happy that all three of the big guys are back, healthy and sassy, and I hope they are ready to run and we don't get a StuperBowl-like blowout with all this anticipation.

06 Mar 2014 11:08 AM

MMM has contested three 10F races with a record of 1-2-3. He has never allowed the amount of weight in a graded race, that he is required to allow in the Big Cap. Will Take Charge has contested three 10F races with a record of 1-2-0. He also will be allowing a ton of weight. Both top weight horses have won once at the distance when the weights were either level or marginally different. Can they allow 9lbs & 10Lbs to talent horses?

One such talented horse is Hear The Ghost who won the 2013 renewal of the San Felipe approximately one year ago. After his defeat of the highly regarded Flashback he was the buzz horse in CA. He suffered a setback and did not make his next start until 8 months later. Since his return he has contested races over four different distances i.e., 6.5F, 9F, 8.5F & 8F. He closed to finish

on the board in all with his worse finish being 3rd.

This colt has been begging for 10F and with four races under his belt he should now be fully fit. No one knows the true potential of this gelding and I happen to

think he is very good. He was certainly more highly regarded than WTC before his injury. With the light impost of 114Lbs and the extended distance, both he and Blingo he will be rolling in the last furlong with a lot of my cash.

06 Mar 2014 11:11 AM

I am anxious to see Kristo perform in the San Felipe. He was sired by Distorted Humor and of all the tail male descendants of Mr. Prospector standing in the US,

he has by far the best record. He has sired Derby & Preakness winner Funny Cide and Belmont & BCC winner Drosselmeyer. Add to the list Commentator, Regal Ransom,Flower Alley, Any Given Saturday, Endorsement, Alternation etc., and it is clearly obvious that he is a top class stallion.

Kristo was very impressive in his MSW win. He displayed powerful energy efficient strides en route to victory. He returned in the Sham to disappoint, if 2nd can be considered disappointing. He did not change leads in the stretch and was never going to effectively challenge Midnight Hawk. I hope the issues that bothered him in the Sham have been addressed and the real Kristo will be on display in the San Felipe.

Kristo’s dam was sired by a Capote the Breeder Cup winning son of Seattle Slew. The dam of Normandy Invasion the 4th place finisher in the 2013 Derby was

sired by Boston Harbor a son of Capote. Kristo is a physically imposing colt with a lot of tactical speed and a pedigree loaded with stamina. I hope he lives

up to expectation

06 Mar 2014 11:13 AM

Considering the recent past performances of the three big guns that are running on Saturday, Mucho Macho Man looks primed to take on anything. What would be interesting to see is a three horse drive down the stretch between the big three.

  As for the other races, Midnight Hawk holds more experience over Bayern in the San Felipe. Other than his little mishap in his last race, he appears to have moved past that and matured from his experience. Tampa Bay is a toss-up with both green and experienced horses. Had Matador not been bumped or raced wide in the Sam Davis, he probably would have challenged significantly. This race could be his redemption card.

06 Mar 2014 11:14 AM

In celebration of the spectacular Saturday of racing ahead of us, I’d like to invite you all to join me in an informal handicapping contest! All you have to do is pick one horse to win each of the seven contest races listed below. Scoring will be based on mythical $2 win/place wagers on your selection, with the winner being whoever collects the highest payoff. There won't be a prize, except for bragging rights. :)

I will be posting scoring updates after each race is run. Good luck, everyone!

Contest Races

Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I)

Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (gr. I)

San Felipe Stakes (gr. II)

San Carlos Stakes (gr. II)

Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II)

Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II)

Honeybee Stakes (gr. III)

06 Mar 2014 11:25 AM

Before going any further, I should really take a moment to state that while the handicapper side of me thinks Will Take Charge will win the Santa Anita Handicap, my racing fan side really wants to see Game On Dude succeed in his attempt at a three-peat. Over the last four years, I have become a major fan of Game On Dude, and it's been disappointing to see him lose his last three races. Maybe he's just getting old, but I would love to see him turn for home on Saturday with a tenacious lead over Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge, and watch him turn back both his rivals and the clock to win the Santa Anita Handicap for a record-breaking third time.

06 Mar 2014 11:26 AM

Speaking of the Santa Anita Handicap, do you think the final time will be over or under 2:00 2/5? I say they go under that time, and maybe even crack two minutes. I'll guess 1:59 4/5.

06 Mar 2014 11:27 AM


I'm with you! It's so rare to get such a spectacular race this early in the year, and I've got my fingers crossed that the Big Three will match strides turning for home and race as a team down the homestretch. It would be a little disappointing if one of them blows the race wide open on the far turn and wins by ten lengths, although I suppose the chances of that happening in a matchup like this aren't very good! :)

06 Mar 2014 11:36 AM
Pedigree Ann

Crazyhorseperson - In fields of a decent size, horses without stakes experience have not been winning the better Derby preps this year. For example, Top Billing obviously has talent, but he couldn't run down a couple of established graded SWs in the Fountain of Youth.

06 Mar 2014 11:45 AM
food fight

I'm a huge fan of WTC but i think he is up against in the SA handicap, MMM looks like on paper he will get first run at the speed and with the crafty jockey Stevens up will make sure he puts enough separation between him and WTC for the stretch run.These two horses should make for a memorable stretch run. If all goes well it should setup a much needed rivalry the sport desperately needs.Not to mention about the new gunslinger in town Lea.He looks like a real challenge to the top two for handicap honors this year as he is now 2 for 2 in the Bill Mott barn haven already beaten WTC down in Florida.

06 Mar 2014 11:58 AM

Along with all the top-notch graded stakes races being run on Saturday, there are also a few notable non-graded stakes and allowance races on the schedule. Here are a few of the highlights that I'm looking forward to:

* Tampa Bay Downs Race 6: This one-mile turf allowance race has attracted Bobby's Kitten, unraced since a third-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I). A son of Kitten's Joy, I have the feeling that this colt is among the best of this three-year-old crop, and I'm hopeful that his connections are using this race as a stepping stone to the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Not only do I believe Bobby's Kitten could win the Blue Grass, I think he can win the Kentucky Derby as well.

Another notable name entered in this allowance race is Mighty Brown, winner of the Pasco Stakes on January 4th and most recently seventh in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) behind Wildcat Red. Although he has been running on dirt as of late, he did make three starts on the turf as a juvenile, with his best being a runner-up finish in the Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

* Laurel Park Race 8: The nine-furlong Private Terms Stakes has drawn an intriguing field of eleven, including Classic Giacnroll, who scratched from last week's Gotham Stakes (gr. III) to run here instead. Also entered are Baratti, who was very impressive winning an 8.5-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct in January; Roman Fire, winner of a one-mile allowance race at Parx for trainer Anthony Dutrow; and Matuszak, fourth by 2 1/2 lengths in the Jerome Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct two starts back.

* Gulfstream Park Race 10: Three-time graded stakes winner Unlimited Budget makes her return in this seven-furlong allowance race for Florida-bred fillies and mares. Unraced since a last-place finish in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) last July, Unlimited Budget will face four rivals this Saturday, including Toasting, who won the Dream Rush Stakes at Belmont last October.

06 Mar 2014 12:02 PM

Just noticed that Ride On Curlin, third in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) last time out, breezed seven furlongs in a strong 1:26 4/5 at Oaklawn Park this morning. I haven't given up on him as a Derby contender, and I'm hopeful that he will make a big impact in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) next week. Of course, that won't be easy, with Honor Code, Tapiture, Strong Mandate all eyeing that race as well, but I don't think we've seen the best of Ride On Curlin just yet.

06 Mar 2014 12:06 PM

food fight;

It seems odd to be more excited in March about the handicap division than the Triple Crown, but that's the case for me right now! I can't wait to see how the season unfolds for the star older horses. We're already getting one showdown this Saturday in the Santa Anita Handicap, and this on the heels of an exciting Donn Handicap (gr. I) in which Lea edged Will Take Charge to stamp himself as a legitimate contender for the division championship.

Can you imagine what it could be like at Saratoga this summer if everyone stays healthy? Imagine a Whitney Handicap featuring Mucho Macho Man, Will Take Charge, Lea . . . and maybe even Wise Dan, whose connections have expressed a desire to try him running long on the dirt this season. Throw in a Belmont Stakes winner like Palace Malice, a rising star like Normandy Invasion, last year's Whitney winner Cross Traffic, and good old Saratoga-loving Alpha . . . !

I can dream, can't I? :)

06 Mar 2014 12:20 PM

Looking over the entries for Aqueduct's Saturday card, a six-furlong maiden special weight for three-year-olds has caught my eye. Among the seven horses entered are Scotland, third in both the Jerome and Withers Stakes (can you believe he's still a maiden?!) and Constantine, a first-time starter from the barn of Bob Baffert. However, it's worth noting that Scotland's trainer, Anthony Dutrow, has also entered a colt named Onthewhistle, and named Charles Lopez to ride them both. So it's possible that one or the other could scratch.

The feature of the card is the six-furlong, $100,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes for three-year-olds. The colt I have my eye on is Long On Value, who was fourth in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) last time out behind Wildcat Red. A two-time juvenile stakes winner at 5-1/2 furlongs, Long On Value will be attempting to become the fourth horse to exit the Hutcheson and win a stakes race next time out, following Wildcat Red (Fountain of Youth), Spot (Swale Stakes), and Tashir (Smooth Air Stake.)

Among the other prominent names entered in the Capossela are Germaniac, winner of the Frank Whitely, Jr. Stakes on January 4th at Laurel; Hot Heir Skier, winner of the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct; and Oliver Zip, runner-up in the Jimmy Winkfield and subsequent winner of a starter allowance race.

06 Mar 2014 12:30 PM

-Keelerman not to be negative just to post this information on Hy Kodiak Warrior, when you posted he had two bullet works I thought how did I miss this? The answer is I didnt miss this, but those 2 bullets were completed over the Calder strip where the class of the horse population is not close to Gulfstreams, or PMs.

It dosent mean he cant win,but IMO his trainer dosent want him to have to close too much ground to win.He wants him to be closer to the front.I also noticed Hy Kodiak Warrior is first time lasix.He should be double figure odds to win with the others entered and their reputations and that of their trainers.GL

I am hoping for a top 3 finish for Conquest Titan so he can be closer to being in the gate for Derby futures wagers.

06 Mar 2014 4:25 PM


That's a good point, but it is worth noting that on the same day as Hy Kodiak Warrior's most recent work, the talented sprinter Evolution Rocks -- who won Calder's Thrillin' Discovery Handicap with a 105 Beyer -- breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5, four-fifths of a second slower than Hy Kodiak Warrior.

I am also hoping for a top-three finish by Conquest Titan. We know he likes Churchill Downs -- it's hard to forget his allowance victory there last fall! -- and if he can pick up enough points to make the Derby field, I have the feeling he could explode with a career-best performance on the first Saturday in May. Given that he's not a very big colt, and that his sire is Birdstone, a sloppy track at Churchill would likely play in his favor. Perhaps he could be the next Mine That Bird, albeit without the 50-1 price!

06 Mar 2014 4:55 PM

Just in case you didnt know Baratti is back and is running Saturday at Laurel in the Private Terms Stakes its the 8th on the card, and it has a purse of $100,000 to be contested at 9 furlongs.

06 Mar 2014 5:17 PM
Pedigree Ann

Once again, contest with only stakes races. Not my best area of 'capping. Will still pick numbers or names or whatever, but with no conviction whatsoever.

06 Mar 2014 5:59 PM

bayern is out!

06 Mar 2014 6:06 PM

Well, the scratch of Bayern from the San Felipe certainly changes things! I guess my new pick for the moment is Midnight Hawk, although I'll have to re-examine the race with Bayern's absence in mind before settling on my selection for our contest.

So unfortunate. I was really looking forward to seeing Bayern compete.

Pedigree Ann;

Thanks for joining the contest! Good luck!

06 Mar 2014 6:33 PM
Carlos in Cali

Big Cap': Will Take Charge- MMM won't let Dude' get an easy lead,should set it up for him.

Kilroe Mile: Za Approval- his 2nd to Wise Dan on this course and the fact Clement rarely ships.

San Felipe: California Chrome- he stands out on talent alone.Lukas also brought the recent maiden winner Unstoppable Colby w/him,he must think highly of him going forward...The coach is getting some of his "Swagger" back.

San Carlos: Since this race is obviously named after yours truly,I'll give ya'll the trifecta ;) Sahara Sky/Shakin It Up/Zeewat.

TB Derby: Matador- for the reasons Keelerman so astutely pointed out.He also got struck on his nose inadvertently right after getting squeezed/bumped down he stretch.Gets Leparoux for this one.

GP Hdcp: Itsmyluckyday- just because Plesa,Jr. has been bragging n' boasting about how he's been training for his comeback.Plus, he likes the track.Tough race...

Honeybee: No idea- dartboard reads... Taris...Taris it is.

06 Mar 2014 7:24 PM

Follow up from Rainbow Pick 6 comment from previous blog.  As expected, Twinspires Pool "experts" did an awful job organizing their tickets.  8 tickets, spending $4,200.  Even with getting free "alls" for 3 of 6 races, they hit one ticket (30 times).  Overall a loss of $2,400.  I had one ticket for $204 and doubled my money.    

Their strategy was to depend on 4 horses in the first race on all but 1 ticket (got that race wrong). From the 7 times I've played their pool, they do this every time.  Key one race and spread the rest.  Like they aren't handicapping, but rather trying to "buy" it.

06 Mar 2014 8:15 PM

Santa Anita - will take charge

Frank E Kilroe- Za Approval

San Felipe -  Midnight Hawk

San Carlos - Zeewat

Tampa Bay Derby - Conquest Titan

Gulfstream Park - Golden Ticket

Honeybee - Ireland

06 Mar 2014 8:37 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Almost immediately after Bayern's over-hyped Alw1x win, I made the comparison both here at Unlocking Winners and down the hall at Haskins between Bayern and another flash in the pan, Tiz the Truth.  The latter went several months before racing again.

Who will be next year's one (two) race wonder ?

06 Mar 2014 8:39 PM

One the unfamiliar horses that will be contesting the Tampa Bay Derby has captured my attention. Coltimus Prime will joint fellow Canadian invaders Matador, Asserting Bear and Tuscan Getaway as part of the cast attempting to secure valuable Derby points in the TBD.  Why has he captured my attention? After reviewing the videos of his last two races, it became evident he is a very talented colt.

He disappeared from a MSW field over 7F to record his maiden victory in a time almost similar to that recorded by Conquest Titan in the 7F Swynford.  He returned 21 days later to contest the Display Stakes against winners. He assumed the lead after 2F and was joined 4 ½ furlongs from home by eventual race winner, Jose Sea View. Both battled to the line with neither giving an inch until the more experienced Jose Sea View prevailed by a NK.

Coltimus Prime showed a lot of speed and an exceptional amount of guts while grudgingly surrendering the advantage to his opponent. That was 3 months ago. This May foal must have benefited from the lay off and must be stronger and raring to go based on his impressive exercise spins. The TBD will be a step up in class but what I have seen of this colt I can safely state that he is a runner and a very good one too.

He is bred for dirt and with his tactical speed I expect him to be amongst the leading group. If he is fit and good enough, his opponents will be in for a fight.

06 Mar 2014 11:27 PM
The Deacon

Game On Dude

07 Mar 2014 3:44 AM

PBP I think you made your point about hype but your comparison to Tiz The Truth was invalid who TOOK 3 RACES TO BREAK MAIDEN RANKS compared to Bayern who only races twice and is still UNDEFEATED here is a copy of Tiz The Truths first 3 races:

Santa Anita 2/2/2013 1 Maiden Special Weight 1

Santa Anita 1/13/2013 4 Maiden Special Weight 2

Betfair Hollywood Park 12/15/2012 8 Maiden Special Weight 8

07 Mar 2014 7:28 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Brontexx -

You don't get it, clearly.

07 Mar 2014 7:41 AM

Will Take Charge may like the longer distance. My head votes for him and my heart for Game on Dude. Let's not count out the rest of the field.

07 Mar 2014 8:04 AM
Rusty Weisner


You forgot the Gulstream Park Handicap.  What a big day of racing...that I can't play, unfortunately.

Bayern out.

I feel the same way about Ride On Curlin'.  His trip was impossible.  That is a race I'm looking forward to betting, as I think Honor Code is worth playing against off his layoff, his problems, and with the dimensions at Oaklawn.  KY VET says Tapiture is going "off", too, and he is never wrong, so I can toss that other favorite.  I foresee the same exacta I played in the Southwest:  Strong Mandate, Ride On Curlin'.

07 Mar 2014 8:32 AM

Phil I dont understand your logic in comparing a two time winner with a colt that took three races to break its maiden.

The concept of hype I do understand,and IMO the posterchild for it among the media thus far has to be Top Billing.

07 Mar 2014 9:08 AM

Imperative was claimed from Darley on the 12/21/2013 after contesting an 8F turf race. Nineteen days later he contested a 10F turf that was completed in 1:59 2/5, where he finished 3rd by 3 1/4L. Seventeen days later he contested an 8F race, where he finished 2nd by 2 1/4L.

When Imperative entered the San Antonio it was 12 days after contesting an 8F race. It was his 2nd start on dirt and 1st time with blinkers. He was gallant in defeat losing by 1/2L. He contested 4 races in 48 days covering 35F. He enterers the Big Cap with the longest rest between races for his new connections. If he was not damage by the brutal 4 race schedule to which he was exposed, it is likely this 4YO will be on the board.

07 Mar 2014 9:14 AM

If Game On Dude wins the 2014 Big Cap he should be prematurely voted 2014 HOY. This gelding is old and his best days are behind him. He is in a phase of his career where he will be hearing a ghost.

07 Mar 2014 9:19 AM

Carlos in Cali and TnT;

Thanks for joining the contest! Good luck to you both!

The Deacon;

So nice to see you here! Just curious -- how would you rank Game On Dude among the great California-based handicap horses of the past? How do you think he stacks up against Lava Man? Best Pal? Ancient Title? Native Diver? Certainly, Game On Dude has not carried the weight assignments of horses like Diver, but his overall body of work is very impressive, and a third Santa Anita Handicap would be an amazing achievement. Any thoughts?

07 Mar 2014 9:58 AM

Don't forget! Sweet Reason, winner of the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) last year and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), returns this afternoon in a one-mile allowance optional claiming race at Aqueduct: www.equibase.com/.../AQU030714USA-EQB.html

07 Mar 2014 10:05 AM
Little Bill

Great blog! Nice combination of info, banter and humor.

I will join the fray latter.

07 Mar 2014 10:38 AM

Welcome aboard, Little Bill!

07 Mar 2014 11:49 AM

Santa Anita Handicap - Will Take Charge

Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes - Winning Prize

San Felipe Stakes - Midnight Hawk

San Carlos Stakes - Clubhouse Ride

Tampa Bay Derby - East Hall

Gulfstream Park Handicap - Falling Sky

Honeybee Stakes - Midnight Eclipse

07 Mar 2014 1:07 PM

Thanks for joining the contest, MikeG7251! Good luck!

07 Mar 2014 2:09 PM
Monarchos Matt

Big Cap- Hear The Ghost

Kilroe- Za Approval

San Felipe- Schoolofhardrocks

San Carlos- Sahara Sky

Tampa Bay Derby- Conquest Titan

GP Hcp- Brujo de Orrelos

Honeybee- Please Explain

Good luck!

07 Mar 2014 4:54 PM

BREAKING NEWS: Honor Code has been entered to run in an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream this Wednesday! Here are the entries: www.equibase.com/.../GP031214USA-EQB.html

07 Mar 2014 6:02 PM

...And here is a DRF.com article on the subject: www.drf.com/.../gulfstream-park-honor-code-make-return-wednesday-allowance

07 Mar 2014 6:03 PM
Carlos in Cali

Honor Code is still the one to beat come Derby Day...

Just get him to Churchill Shuggy!

07 Mar 2014 8:51 PM
El Kabong

Big Cap   Mucho Macho Man

Kilroe Za Approval

San Felipe Schoolofhardrocks

San Carlos Wild Dude

TBD  Conquest Titan

GP  Falling Sky

Honeybee Please Explain

Thanks Keelerman, good luck to the everyone.

07 Mar 2014 9:53 PM
Pedigree Ann

Contest races:

Big 'Cap - Game on Dude to get a first half of over his 'death pace' limit of 46&3 and be in it at the wire. If somebody runs that fast with him, they both tank.

Kilroe Mile - Silentio is as good as anybody in here.

San Felipe - California Chrome to sit behind Kristo and Midnight Hawk and pounce like Candy Boy.

San Carlos - Shakin It Up loves SA and 7f.

Tampa Bay Derby - tossing the entire Davis field leaves me with Conquest Titan, been keeping the best company.

pseudo-GP hcp - Itsmyluckyday, another I hope can stalk and pounce. Always thought he'd be best as a miler.

Honeybee - Please Explain. I don't have to (explain, that is. Ha Ha).

07 Mar 2014 10:54 PM
Mary Zinke

Keelerman, I agree with you about The Dude in the SA H'cap.

I'll do the contest. Hadn't thought about the Honeybee, though.

Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I)

Dude(very tempting to vote on Ghost at those odds)

Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (gr. I)


San Felipe Stakes (gr. II)


San Carlos Stakes (gr. II)

Wild Dude

Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II)

Surfing USA

Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II)

Brujo de Olleros

Honeybee Stakes (gr. III)

Sugar Shock

08 Mar 2014 3:14 AM

Keelerman: I share your sentiments about Bobby's Kitten and will be watching him carefully. If he is pointed to the Blue Grass after his pipe opener you can be sure that his connections, The Ramsey's are taking dead aim on the Derby. He has tactical speed, stamina & grade 1 calibre laden pedigree, proven class and only needs to be happy on dirt. Interesting colt. Below are my winners for today.

Santa Anita H'cap: Mucho Macho Man

Frank e. Kilroe Mile: Lochte

San Felipe: Schoolofhardrocks

San Carlos: Shakin it Up

Tampa Bay Derby: Conquest Titan

GP Handicap: Itsmyluckyday

Honeybee: Please Explain

08 Mar 2014 7:35 AM
Rusty Weisner

Do I get anything for wanting in advance to bet against Honor Code in the Rebel?  

At least he's not running in the Timely Writer specially carded overnight stakes.

08 Mar 2014 8:16 AM

Monarchos Matt, El Kabong, Mary Zinke, & Ranagulzion;

Thanks for joining the contest! This should be a memorable one! Good luck to you all!

Now, here are my selections for the contest:

Santa Anita Handicap - Will Take Charge

Frank E. Kilroe Mile - This race looks wide open, and I think Tom's Tribute has a great chance. He stayed right with Winning Prize through the stretch of the Arcadia Stakes (gr. II) last time out, but while Winning Prize is 7-2 on the Frank Kilroe morning line, Tom's Tribute is an appealing 10-1. At that price, I'll take a shot with him.

San Felipe Stakes - Midnight Hawk

San Carlos Stakes - Wild Dude

Tampa Bay Derby - Hy Kodiak Warrior

Gulfstream Park Handicap - Palace Malice

Honeybee Stakes - Ireland

08 Mar 2014 10:13 AM
Little Bill

SA Hdcp Am. Blend

Kilroe Mile Lakerville

San Felipe Sawyer's Hill

San Carlos Sahara Sky

TB Derby Vinceremos

GP Hdcp Palace Malice

Honeybee Kiss Moon

08 Mar 2014 10:30 AM

Will take charge

Winning prize

Shakin it up

School of hard rocks

Conquest titan

Its my lucky day


thanks for the game KEELERMAN

08 Mar 2014 11:48 AM

Thanks for joining in, Little Bill and RobbieJoe25!

In case anyone might find it useful, here is a list of the contest races organized by projected post time:

4:39 - Honeybee Stakes

5:03 - San Felipe Stakes

5:10 - Gulfstream Park Handicap

5:25 - Tampa Bay Derby

6:11 - San Carlos Stakes

6:42 - Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes

7:15 - Santa Anita Handicap

Good luck, everyone!

08 Mar 2014 11:52 AM
Mary Zinke

Brujos scratched, so Palace Malice in the GP Handicap.

08 Mar 2014 12:37 PM

Scotland did scratch from today's third race at Aqueduct, leaving stablemate Onthewhistle as the favorite at 4-5. But after dueling Brendan G into submission through a pace duel, Onthewhistle got leg weary and was nailed at the finish by Patty and Nooche, a 7-1 shot that was far back early and took full advantage of the fast early pace. Constantine, the first-time starter trained by Bob Baffert, was far back throughout and never threatened.

08 Mar 2014 2:52 PM

Wow. Bobby's Kitten could not have been much more impressive winning the sixth race at Tampa Bay Downs this afternoon. Sent straight to the lead by Javier Castellano, Bobby's Kitten rattled off fractions of :24.32, :48.13, and 1:12.31 while being tracked closely by Global View, then kicked clear a bit at the top of the stretch under virtually no urging and maintained a two-length to the wire, which he reached in 1:36.84 seconds. He gave the impression that he could have opened up at any moment if asked for run by Castellano.

Suffice to say, Bobby's Kitten just jumped several notches in my Derby rankings!

08 Mar 2014 3:10 PM

They're getting into the gate for the first contest race! Good luck, everyone!

08 Mar 2014 4:47 PM

And so our contest gets off to a bit of a rocky start as Sugar Shack -- who finished first in the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn -- gets disqualified and placed second for interference in the homestretch.

No one had the official winner, but Mary Zinke picked Sugar Shack, so here are the standings after the first contest race:

Mary Zinke - $7.40

Carlos in Cali - $0.00

Tnt - $0.00

Mike G7251 - $0.00

Monarchos Matt - $0.00

El Kabong - $0.00

Pedigree Ann - $0.00

Ranagulzion - $0.00

Little Bill - $0.00

RobbieJoe25 - $0.00

Keelerman - $0.00

08 Mar 2014 5:10 PM

California Chrome looks like a very, very special colt! That was a tremendous performance in the San Felipe Stakes. I know it's Santa Anita, but when was the last time a Derby contender ran a 1:33-and-change mile on dirt?

Following the San Felipe, we have a three-way tie for the lead in our contest! Here are the standings:

Mary Zinke - $7.40

Carlos in Cali - $7.40

Pedigree Ann - $7.40

TnT - $3.00

Mike G7251 - $3.00

Keelerman - $3.00

Monarchos Matt - $0.00

El Kabong - $0.00

Ranagulzion - $0.00

Little Bill - $0.00

RobbieJoe25 - $0.00

08 Mar 2014 5:20 PM

What a race! The Gulfstream Park Handicap had me on the edge of my seat from the start, and I could hardly believe the outcome! Palace Malice looked absolutely beaten at the top of the stretch when headed by Uncaptured, then battled back to stay in the mix, appeared beaten again when Golden Ticket loomed on the outside, and then somehow held them both off to win the race in a blazing 1:33.80 seconds. What a handicap division this is shaping up to be!

Here are the standings after the third contest race:

Mary Zinke - $15.00

Keelerman - $10.60

TnT - $8.20

Little Bill - $7.60

Carlos in Cali - $7.40

Pedigree Ann - $7.40

Mike G7251 - $3.00

Monarchos Matt - $0.00

El Kabong - $0.00

Ranagulzion - $0.00

RobbieJoe25 - $0.00

08 Mar 2014 5:38 PM

There's a lot of wagering support for Hy Kodiak Warrior in the Tampa Bay Derby -- he's 7-2 with one minute to post time, down from a morning line price of 10-1.

08 Mar 2014 5:43 PM
Pedigree Ann

Not a very inspiring ride by Shaun B. on Conquest Titan at Tampa, directing him down on the rail behind Vinceremos and no way to get outside. Not enough time to get into gear once he got clear. Lone speed does it again.

08 Mar 2014 5:58 PM

What a bold ride by Daniel Centeno aboard Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby! It's hard to believe they managed to hold on after leading by around eight lengths on the backstretch, yet they did so in decisive fashion.

Here are the standings after the fourth contest race:

Mary Zinke - $15.00

Little Bill - $13.60

Keelerman - $10.60

TnT - $8.20

Carlos in Cali - $7.40

Pedigree Ann - $7.40

Mike G7251 - $3.00

Monarchos Matt - $0.00

El Kabong - $0.00

Ranagulzion - $0.00

RobbieJoe25 - $0.00

08 Mar 2014 6:07 PM
Pedigree Ann

How a horse who was in post 10 gets caught behind a wall of horses like that is a mystery. One would think that Smith knows better than that. Oh, well, my own fault for taking a closer.

08 Mar 2014 6:20 PM
Pedigree Ann

I do have to say I'm glad that the real Sahara Sky is back. Just needed one after that long layoff.

08 Mar 2014 6:27 PM

That was quite a rally from Sahara Sky in the San Carlos Stakes! It looks as though he'll be in good form for a defense of his Metropolitan Handicap title, assuming Jerry Hollendorfer sends him for that race once again.

Here are the standings following the fifth contest race:

Little Bill - $27.40

Carlos in Cali - $21.20

Mary Zinke - $15.00

Monarchos Matt - $13.80

Keelerman - $10.60

TnT - $8.20

Pedigree Ann - $7.40

Mike G7251 - $3.00

El Kabong - $0.00

Ranagulzion - $0.00

RobbieJoe25 - $0.00

08 Mar 2014 6:31 PM

Winning Prize and Lochte put on quite a show in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile! Great job by both horses.

Here are the standings after the sixth contest race:

Little Bill - $27.40

Carlos in Cali - $21.20

Mike G7251 - $17.60

Mary Zinke - $15.00

RobbieJoe25 - $14.60

Monarchos Matt - $13.80

Keelerman - $10.60

Ranagulzion - $9.20

TnT - $8.20

Pedigree Ann - $7.40

El Kabong - $0.00

The showdown in the Big 'Cap is next!

08 Mar 2014 7:08 PM
Pedigree Ann

Woo-hoo! Way to go, Dude! (I had some coin on him, so I'm doubly happy.)

08 Mar 2014 7:41 PM

Wow...that was a race for the ages! I don't usually say much when watching races, but I was cheering for Game On Dude to hang on in the homestretch. What a magnificent performance by a very special horse.

Congratulations to Mary Zinke, who is the winner of our handicapping contest! Here are the final standings:

Mary Zinke - $28.20

Little Bill - $27.40

Carlos in Cali - $24.20

Mike G7251 - $20.60

Pedigree Ann - $20.60

RobbieJoe25 - $17.60

Monarchos Matt - $13.80

Keelerman - $13.60

TnT - $11.20

Ranagulzion - $9.20

El Kabong - $0.00

Thanks to all for playing!

08 Mar 2014 7:48 PM
Monarchos Matt

I took a flyer with some show money on my longshot pick Hear The Ghost, and it didn't miss by much. But as soon as I saw how close he was to those hot opening fractions, I knew he was cooked. Utterly amazing race by Game on Dude. Equally amazing he was 7-2 and I didn't bet him.

08 Mar 2014 8:20 PM
Mary Zinke

I won?  Thanks for the fun contest, Keelerman.  I was way off on some of these. I see my guess in the Honeybee was DQ'd, but still placed.  Way for Dude to say, "Take that!"(edited from what he was really thinking).  Will have to check out the replays.  Glad that Sky got the San Carlos win.  Just thought his roommie might have higher odds.

09 Mar 2014 4:46 AM
Rusty Weisner

Congratulations, winners.

I hadn't seen this California Chrome until yesterday.  I think Midnight Hawk provides a good yardstick for how good he was.  

I'm wondering whether Conquest Titan is going to the Bluegrass.  That seems like the place he'll have a chance.

09 Mar 2014 10:25 AM

Id be surprised if CT didnt run at Keeneland where hes already run.With his new running style he dosent have a good chance to win at a mile and a sixteenth, at a longer distance he would have a better chance, as long as he can sustain his run.

He wasnt going to win at TB unless he got the ideal trip and pace set-up which he didnt.If the track is off this year for the KD then if hes in the race I think he really moves up.BTW he got a better pace scenario in the Holy Bull so its NOT ALL ABOUT THE TRACK,but a combination of factors.

If its a dry track on Derby day, I dont think any of these colts want the lead because there will be company,then the handicapping puzzle will become more difficult because a presser who gets first run might be able to hold on.The question is which one of the early-presser types will get that trip,remember its a twenty horse field.In 2012 the last track that was fast and dry the day before and on the day of the KD,I knew Bodemeister would be the speed,do you know who can fill this role yet? I dont, keep in mind he ran the top Beyer heading in to the race at 9 furlongs.

09 Mar 2014 5:44 PM
Rusty Weisner


I think Conquest Titan will make a very good bet in the Bluegrass if he runs.  I don't know if I'd like him in the Derby, even though he won at CD.

California Chrome was awesome.  I mentioned Midnight Hawk not to depreciate him, but to make the point that this good horse is a good measuring stick.  To hark back to Bodemeister, CC's San Felipe was superior timewise and pacewise to the Creative Cause/Bodemeister San Felipe in 2012, the best year for California 3-yos in a decade.  Don't know how to compare older horses at 10f with young 3-yos at 8.5, but the pace of the San Felipe was hotter than that, too, Saturday.  I think California Chrome is the horse you're looking for.  The trainer's nervous talk makes me a little nervous, though.  

I'll leave it to others to discuss CC's pedigree, but, regardless, I don't think he's another Goldencents.

10 Mar 2014 11:46 AM

Rusty Weisner CC is good but the race he ran in the San Felipe will not win the KD.The race that Ill Have Another ran in the KD is the one he wants to emulate not the one Bodemeister ran.

You are a Beyer methodologist Bode ran a 109 at 9 panels in Arkansas which most resembles the surface at Churchill when dry.CC ran a 107 at 8.5 furlongs on a speed freeway where GOD looked like he found the FOY and ran a 116.

I will look to ad CC to colts that I already have in my futures wagers that are closers or pressers I wont pair him with speed in exacta boxes, but will look to combine him with for instance Cairo Prince who settles off the speed like many Mclaughlin trainees.

As far as Conquest Titan I bet him in the futures because I believe he will move up on an off track and hes a closer.The other Birdstone offspring to win the KD was Mine That Bird and till this day I am sure that the offtrack helped him win SO EASILY.

Mine That Bird would have won anyway but the margin was helped by the fact he loved the slop.Could CT be similar in his love for an off track we will find out.

10 Mar 2014 8:07 PM

Rusty Weisner dont be mislead by high Beyer figures on dry tracks.Go back and check Mine That Birds beyers before the KD,why do you think he was 99-1.

If the Derby is run on an off track which it has been most of the years since 2009 the Beyer figures for early runners wont matter they wont be able to hold their speed.Last year Oxbow put his nose in front for the briefest of moments in the stretch, and he faded to 6th on that off track.Two weeks later it was gate to wire for Oxbow on a more favorable surface and wasnt pressured on the lead.Last year Palace Malice was the KD frontrunner on that off track and faded badly, 6 weeks later on a dry Belmont track without pressure he won the race.

10 Mar 2014 9:06 PM
Rusty Weisner


You're too quick to label people "Beyer methodologists".  Beyers are useful.  They're big, fat bold-print numbers that can tell you the obvious, like what races are really slow: I'm right on board KY VET when he says the horse is not going to make up 20 Beyer points.  He's right; why try to outsmart myself by thinking otherwise.  Don't underestimate bettors' abilities to outsmart themselves.  On the other hand, I deprecate the Beyers when the field is small or when the track is wet.

I am aware of what Oxbow and Palace Malice did last year.  Along with Orb they're the two horses I bet most heavily in the TC series last year.  I'm looking for the same stuff you are:  legitimate horses that will fetch odds going into the Derby because they were disadvantaged in some way, or showing improvement in defeat - it's why I mentioned the Bluegrass, by the way -- it's often good as both a negative and positive predictor, like last year, with Java's War a good toss and and Palace Malice showing a great effort in a final prep.  The way the Keeneland speed strip used to produce Derby tosses (like Sinister Minister and his 116 Beyer) it now puts horses forward that are excel on the wrong surface, like Dullahan (rest in peace), who never did win on dirt.

11 Mar 2014 10:24 AM
Rusty Weisner


Oxbow "fading" in the Derby had nothing to do with the surface, nothing.  It was solely the pace.

11 Mar 2014 10:26 AM

Rusty Weisner I still think it was a combination of surface and pace.On a different surface Oxbow might have moved up a couple of spots from 6th to 4th.When the track is sloppy everything changes as far as whats on paper(PPs)I learned that more than 20 years ago when I first started playing this game.I read your comments but I play my own opinion.

11 Mar 2014 2:55 PM

Rusty Weisner,

“California Chrome was awesome.”

The adjective you used to describe California Chrome's performance seems appropriate in comparison to others that have used to describe it.

Bellamy Road’ stunning 17 1/2-length record setting victory in the Wood was also awesome. He finished unplaced in the Derby.  Empire Maker’s 9 3/4 lengths romp in the 2003 FL Derby was also Awesome. He finished second to a horse he previously defeated.

My policy is to move on to the next prep to see what additional information can be secured on other contenders. California Chrome does not have the profile of a Derby winner. However, there have been a few fortunate winners that had less than stellar profiles.

The collection of 3YOs that will enter the starting gates for the Kentucky Derby will bring different strengths to contests a distance none have previously undertaken. The horses delivering awesome performances leading up to the big race in many instances are defeated by lesser amongst them.

The Kentucky Derby is an event that provides an equal opportunity for all to win and it is takes no prisoners. The horse with the ability to stay 10F that gets an ideal trip and adapts to track conditions on the day will be the likely winner. All previous record setting and impressive performances are irrelevant when those starting gates open.

12 Mar 2014 12:43 PM
Little Bill

Coldfacts, You are correct sir.

12 Mar 2014 5:10 PM

Welcome Little Bill on your initial foray into the world of the Bloodhorse Blog and its inhabitants.

12 Mar 2014 6:34 PM

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