Social Inclusion: Rising Star or One-Hit Wonder?

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

With just four weeks remaining until the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, the prep races are really starting to get interesting. All told, there will be four grade I stakes races for three-year-olds this Saturday, including the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, each of which will offer a total of 170 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the top four finishers. It’s going to be a busy weekend, so let’s start handicapping!

Wood Memorial

In the weeks leading up to this race, I had more-or-less decided against backing Social Inclusion in this spot. True, the unbeaten colt has been absolutely spectacular in his two starts thus far, and the 111 Beyer speed figure he earned in his March 12th allowance victory towers over the figures earned by his ten rivals. But it seems like every year there’s a colt or two along the Derby trail that earns a huge speed figure in a minor race, then fails to live up to expectations in subsequent starts. Social Inclusion could very well be one of these one-hit wonders.

However, in the last couple of days, my opinion of Social Inclusion has changed. His old-school trainer Manny Azpurua has been thinking outside the box in preparing Social Inclusion for this race, breezing him three times in the span of eight days—four furlongs in :49 1/5 on March 22nd, three furlongs in :35 2/5 on March 26th, and four furlongs in :46 4/5 on March 29th. Believe it or not, Social Inclusion may be even sharper on Saturday than he was in his allowance victory, which is a scary proposition for his rivals. So despite my concerns, I’m starting to believe that Social Inclusion may just be something extra special, and I’m picking him to win.

In the event that Social Inclusion doesn’t live up to expectations, Samraat and Uncle Sigh looked poised to continue their dominance of Aqueduct’s Derby prep races, having already finished 1-2 in both the Withers Stakes (gr. III) and Gotham Stakes (gr. III) earlier in the meet. A valid longshot possibility is Wicked Strong, who finished a close third in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct last November. He was most recently fourth behind Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Constitution in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park, in which he attempted to rally into slow fractions over a speed-favoring track. If he gets a faster pace today, and a fairer racetrack, he could be rallying strongly at the finish.

Santa Anita Derby

The Santa Anita Derby will feature a showdown among the winners of three major Kentucky Derby prep races: San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) winner California Chrome, Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) winner Candy Boy, and Rebel Stakes (gr. II) winner Hoppertunity.

Certainly, much of the attention will be given to California Chrome, who earned a massive 107 Beyer speed figure while winning the San Felipe by 7 ¼ lengths last time out. A repeat of that performance would make him extremely tough to beat on Saturday, and even if he regresses a bit, he might still have a big enough edge to get the job done.

That said, I believe that Candy Boy can pull off a minor upset. I was very impressed by his performance in the February 8th Robert B. Lewis, in which he tracked decent early fractions before unleashing a strong run in the final five-sixteenths to win by a half-length over Chitu, who came back to win the Sunland Derby (gr. III) two weeks ago. On paper, California Chrome should win this, but if the San Felipe winner doesn’t bound away from the field on the far turn, I think Candy Boy can reel him in down the homestretch.

I should also take a moment to mention Hoppertunity, who showed grit and determination to out-game Tapiture in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn three weeks ago. That performance was undoubtedly strong, but it also came over a sloppy track, and was considerably better than all of Hoppertunity’s previous races. He could simply be getting good at the right time, but the switch from sloppy Oaklawn to speedy Santa Anita is a pretty big change, and I’ll be interested to see how he handles it.

Santa Anita Oaks

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Ria Antonia and Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) winner Fashion Plate will be among the favorites, but both have questions to answer. Ria Antonia’s only top-level performance to date came with the aid of a fast pace in the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m not certain that Fashion Plate really wants to go 8.5 furlongs, especially in a race like this one, which seems to have a great deal of early speed.

As a result, I’m going to pick Arethusa. While her only win thus far came on a synthetic track, Arethusa has turned in several solid efforts on the dirt at Santa Anita, including a late-running third-place finish in the Las Virgenes last time out. Assuming the pace is reasonable, she should be closing late at a price.

Ashland Stakes

There are thirteen lightly-raced fillies to choose from in this race, but in my opinion, Testa Rossi is a standout. The Chad Brown-trainee showcased a potent late kick as a juvenile, and demonstrated in the March 8th Florida Oaks (gr. III) that she may be even better this year. In that race, Testa Rossi sat closer to the early pace than usual before accelerating in breathtaking fashion down the homestretch to win by 3 ½ lengths. I rarely say this about any horse in any race, but I would be surprised if Testa Rossi doesn’t win the Ashland.

There are many other great races being run this weekend in addition to the four I described above, and I will be handicapping many of them in the comments section of this post. I hope you’ll join me!

190 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

I'm glad you not only asked but answered the question about Social Inclusion.  I'm leery of going against him here, but unwilling to bet him, and will sit this one out.

I like Candy Boy, too.  He needs the points, for what that's worth.  I may take him solely for the odds, because it sounds like California Chrome is very sharp.  I want to see Hoppertunity not just hitting the board, but competitive with these two.  I'm going to consider him eligible to advance and win the Derby if he is.

The Arkansas Derby looks like a great race, with Tapiture, Bayern, Conquest Titan, Strong Mandate and Ride On Curlin.  I'm rooting for Bayern to hit the board and confirm my strong impression of the California contingent, rooting for Tapiture to win, so I can feel better about going against him in the Derby, and hoping Conquest Titan gets enough points.

03 Apr 2014 1:26 PM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

Wicked Strong seems like a money-burner.

03 Apr 2014 1:30 PM
Little Bill

The young "freaks" of this sport almost always come back to earth, or retire early. Question is when? I say it's this race or next for SI.

03 Apr 2014 2:09 PM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

I agree, the Arkansas Derby is coming up very strong! In my opinion, the Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby are going to end up having the most influence on the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.

I will be particularly interested to see how Conquest Titan and Ride On Curlin perform in the Arkansas Derby. I'm hopeful that the latter will revert to the late-running style he showcased in the Champagne Stakes last year, since his current pace-setting/tracking style seems to be leaving him without in the tank for the stretch runs of his races.

I will also be using Bayern to try and gauge the overall strength of the California-based three-year-olds, and on that same note, I'm curious to see how Kristo performs this Saturday in the Wood Memorial. If he manages to hit the board, it would say a lot about the talent of California Chrome, who beat Kristo by 13 1/2 lengths in the San Felipe.

03 Apr 2014 2:10 PM
Rusty Weisner

Little Bill,

I agree.

03 Apr 2014 2:21 PM
-Keelerman

So what does everyone think about Keeneland returning to dirt? From some perspectives, I think it's going to be a very positive change -- it could help return the Blue Grass Stakes, Ashland Stakes, and Breeders' Futurity back to prominence as major preps for the Derby, Oaks, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. But at the same time, I've really grown fond of the large, deep fields that the Polytrack attracts, and the blending of dirt and turf horses with synthetic specialists has always provided an intriguing handicapping challenge. Furthermore, the Keeneland Polytrack has been a very safe racing surface, and it seems a shame to see it go.

Any thoughts?

03 Apr 2014 2:23 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman I am taking Hoppertunity in the SA Derby and Noble Moon in the Wood.I have Hop in futures along with NM in the all others entry of the last wager.I dont know if I will wager on these races, or wait. I rely on my instincts developed over two decades of wagering on the ponies, and 3 decades of pari-mutual wagering.

03 Apr 2014 2:29 PM
iceman92

I am interested to see how these horses run on dry tracks after winning or close on a wet track. crazy weather this year would not surprise if were cold and rainy on derby day. great horses can win on any kind of course.

03 Apr 2014 2:33 PM
-Keelerman

There were a couple of interesting workouts turned in this morning by horses running in the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial -- Schoolofhardrocks breezed a half-mile in :49.40 at Santa Anita, while Wicked Strong went three furlongs in :37.26 at Belmont Park.

03 Apr 2014 2:40 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

I agree, Noble Moon looks intriguing in the Wood Memorial. I really like his workout pattern coming up to this race, especially the two one-mile works on March 23rd and 29th. And given the respect that Noble Moon had earlier this year, it's hard to believe that he's 12-1 on the morning line. Good luck!

03 Apr 2014 2:49 PM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

It depends on what kind of dirt surface.  The surface that gave us Sinister Minister year after year was no good.  It was more of a throwout race on dirt than it has been on synthetic.

03 Apr 2014 2:57 PM
-Keelerman

Does anyone have any thoughts on Keeneland's opening day card? The Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) has come up strong, with a large field of twelve scheduled to head to post. I haven't taken a close look at the race yet, but at first glance, Woodfield Springs looks like a possibility at odds of 12-1. He was very sharp breaking his maiden going a mile on March 1st at Gulfstream, running his final quarter mile in around :23 flat. Does anyone else like his chances?

03 Apr 2014 3:01 PM
BadSaddle

agree on Social Inclusion , but think Schivarelli is dangerous and will outfinish Wicked Strong. Do you have Schiv last race bsf ?

03 Apr 2014 3:05 PM
Secreteriat

Wicked Strong will be much improved at Aqueduct See Remsen. Gulfstream was not to his liking. He will thrive at Aqueduct in the hands of the Giant Killer Jerkins

03 Apr 2014 3:44 PM
JB Crichton

Should there be concern that Noble Moon will race with one bar shoe on in the Wood?

03 Apr 2014 4:02 PM
-Keelerman

BadSaddle;

Schivarelli received a Beyer speed figure of 86 for his February 21st allowance victory. I think it's encouraging that Javier Castellano has picked up the mount for the Wood, and I'm looking forward to seeing if Schivarelli can handle the rise in class this Saturday.

The Daily Racing Form past performances for the Wood Memorial, which include the Beyer speed figures for each entrant, are available for free on DRF.com. You can find them at the bottom of Dan Illman's latest blog post: www.drf.com/.../sprinter-rise

03 Apr 2014 4:05 PM
Little Bill

Before poly, Kee and T-way were the worst for single file, very little change in order, and no close finishes. It would be disservice to go back to that. From a derby standpoint, Kee and TP give some that are more geared towards turf a chance for connections to take a risk. The point system takes them all but out. I get they want to weed some out but frankly, who cares if a trainer wants to train his horse on the turf to make the Derby. Those types have had good results, lately.

Turfway, if it survives, has to keep poly for the winter meet.

03 Apr 2014 4:08 PM
-Keelerman

Good news! 2013 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Princess of Sylmar will return to the races in Sunday's one-mile Cat Cay Stakes at Aqueduct!

The now four-year-old filly is part of a small six-horse field that also includes Flash Forward, third last time out in the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II); and Wedding Toast, winner of the Comely Stakes (gr. III) plus three other races from five career starts.

03 Apr 2014 4:14 PM
Carlos in Cali

The Wood came-up so weak, Social Inclusion is the morning line favorite vs. the (2) proven stakes horses over the track. He should be able to dictate the pace from his outside post and if he's left alone on the lead he'll be gone..

Uncle Sigh's trainer said he'd like somebody else to hook him early because he wants to be sitting 3rd-5th,bad idea but I get his gist. He and Samraat are tough customers but In Trouble's no-show last week proves they're really not that good- they beat up on the also-rans cuz' the top NY stabled colts were @ GP as usual. Someone has to pressure SI to see if he's really a "Rising Star" or a "One hit Wonder".

California Chrome has the SA Derby field over a barrel with him being the controlling speed if he runs back to his last race. He's gone!!!

Candy Boy barely got by Midnight Hawk in the Lewis and look what happened to MH when California Chrome dusted him in the San Felipe.Baffert, who shipped MH and Chitu to Sunland to get away from the Beast that is Cali Chrome has Hoppertunity in here for convenient learning lessons,instead of shipping back to Oaklawn. He has enough points to make the Derby anyways.

Arethusa has been my KY Oaks filly since her fine closing 3rd in the Las Virgenes.

03 Apr 2014 5:59 PM
Ranagulzion

The Wood Memorial will be a cake walk for Social Inclusion ...I'll be surprised if the runner-up (expected to be Samraat) comes within 5 lengths at the wire.

California Chrome packs too many guns for Candy Boy in the Santa Anita Derby but the latter will not be disgraced, finishing a hard charging second.

Ria Antonia should cop the SA Oaks. Happy hunting.

03 Apr 2014 10:29 PM
Forbidden Apple

I feel like Social Inclusion is ready to smash his competition on saturday. He absolutely does nt need the lead to win. For those that see him as a hyped horse, just think back to Big Brown. After one monster allowance race, Big Brown was ready for the FL Derby. After winning from an extreme outside post, he then exploded down the stretch to win the KY Derby. Social Inclusion is far to sharp, a 46 4/5 workout proves that. Wicked Strong? I don't get why people like him every time he races, he is average at best.

I love California Chrome, but he will have his work cut out for him against Candy Boy. Candy Boy has every right to improve off from his Lewis victory. It should be a true battle between these two stars.

I'll give Bayern the edge in the AK Derby.

I'm happy to see that the end is near for the polytrack at Keeneland. Restore history and let there be dirt! Keeneland is smart in following Del Mar's decision to dig up the polyjunk. I look forward to watching the Bluegrass in 2015. Next up, a change to dirt for the Dubai World Cup.

Wedding Toast should not be taken lightly, she is all class and knows how to win.

03 Apr 2014 11:14 PM
Forbidden Apple

BIG A Saturday:

Race 7- Goodtolook should appreciate a return to dirt. This son of Disco Rico has plenty of speed, he's quite dangerous.

Race 8- The Admiral is coming to NY after a maiden breaker at S.A. in fine fashion. This classy colt is out of Sassy Pants, a fabulous broodmare that also produced the lightning fast sprinter named Madcap Escapade. I see him stalking Favorite Tale and getting the first jump on the fast closing Kobe's Back.

Race 10- Social Inclusion

Race 11- Sahara Sky

03 Apr 2014 11:56 PM
TnT

I got a feeling "crazy horse"Harpoon surprises in  the wood running like his daddy, that would just sum up this crop for me.  That said my olny bet will be a win place on Kid Cruz, out of nothing more than I am very close to a special Kid called Cruz.

As someone noted above would be good for SI to get in, so we can have the big East vs West match up.

Chalk exacta in the Sa derby Cali Chrome - Candy Boy

Ria Antonia in the SA oaks

Golden Ticket

Testa Rossi by a country mile in the Ashland  

04 Apr 2014 9:31 AM
TnT

Keelerman.....are you up for a handicapping contest this week ?

04 Apr 2014 9:34 AM
Derbystorm

Shame on Keeneland for switching in the first place. Looking forward to going back to Keenelands spring meet in 2015, after 8 year hiatus. Glad to see the classic traditional tracks realizing poly was a mistake. It truly hurt thorobred racing in my opinion. The experiment should have never been considered at the big traditional tracks. Lets keep future experiments at the small circuit claiming tracks like Turfway.

04 Apr 2014 10:08 AM
Coldfacts

Keelerman,

Why no love for Los Borrachos?

The Pulpit colt with only a MSW victory to his credit is probably unknown to most. He finished 4th over 7F to impressive debut winner Bayern. Far behind him was recent Rebel winner Hoppertunity.

Under normal circumstance a 4th place finisher to an impressive winner would be unworthy of notice. However, the manner in which this colt covered ground with energy efficient strides while finishing willingly was a beauty to behold. It was exceedingly clear he needs much more ground to be effective.

He contested 3 races in CA all that appeared to be too short for him.  Despite this he was not disgraced. He received Lasix in his 3rd start and ran at improve race over 6.5F finishing 3 1/2L off a final time of 1:15 2/5 before being shipped to Bill Mott’s barn.

A month later and 2nd time Lasix he scored an easy victory over a mile in a good time of 1:39 on the inner track at the Big A. He gives every indication that longer will be better and the 9F of the Wood will be ideal. This well bred colt who shares dam sire with Constitution is a beautiful mover and if there is an upset in the Wood he will be the one to create it.

NB: Ten year ago a grey son of Pulpit by the name Tapit won the Wood. Could it be a bay that secures another victory 10yrs later?

04 Apr 2014 10:25 AM
Coldfacts

History appears to be on the side of Social Inclusion in the Wood as it relates to shippers from GP. In nine of the last 13 renewals of the Wood, GP shipper have either won or finished second.

2013- Verrazano

2012- Gemologist (1st AWL)

2010- Eskendereya (1st FOY)

2007- Nobiz Like Shobiz (3rd FOY)

2005- Bellamy Road (1st AWL)

2004- Tapit finished (6th FOY)

2003- Empire Maker (1st FL Derby)

2002- Buddha

2001- Monarchos (2nd) (1st FL Derby)

Uncle Mo was the biggest flop shipped from GP to contest the Wood. A race was specially written for him before the Wood, similar to the one that was written for Honor Code. Social Inclusion won that race. Will he suffer a similar fate?

04 Apr 2014 10:31 AM
Coldfacts

Social Inclusion was 1st time Lasix in his record setting Allowance win. Will the powerful race day performance enhancer have the reserve effect the 2nd time around?

04 Apr 2014 10:46 AM
Monarchos Matt

Of the two races, the Wood certainly looks like the better betting race to me. There's an awful lot of speed in here, with Social Inclusion, Samraat and Uncle Sigh, and to a lesser extent Kristo and Noble Moon, who have raced on the lead as well as from mid-pack in previous starts. If Wicked Strong is sharp, he is a strong threat to at least hit the board from off the pace, and if 15-1 ML odds, hold he'll pay more to show than Social Inclusion will pay to win. It's about making money people, not picking the winner! :)

Re: Bayern in the Arkansas Derby as a gauge for the West vs East...I can understand this angle but would advise caution as to applying the transitive property to a colt with just two career starts. Yes, he did crush Hoppertunity when breaking his maiden, but it would be hard to deny that Hopp is a completely different colt at this point in his career. That said, I'm completely missing the comparison between Kristo's 13+ length loss to California Chrome and anything regarding Bayern, who has not raced Kristo or any one of Kristo's opponents. I can see the angle but the sample size is far too small to say that simply because Bayern and Kristo both come from the west, that one's performanace should somehow be indicative of the quality of the other, or the opponents of the other.

I'll take Candy Boy to win the Santa Anita Derby but don't have a strong feeling about it...this looks like a stone cold tri box that won't be worth playing, as the top 3 looks head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Keeneland going back to dirt is the best news of the week for me. Now if only I could persuade my home track, Arlington, to do the same...

04 Apr 2014 10:50 AM
-Keelerman

I'm glad you asked, TnT! I was about to suggest that we hold a contest this week when I saw your comment. Let's go for it!

The rules will be the same as usual, with everyone picking one horse per race, and the scoring based on mythical $2 win/place wagers on each selection. Whoever records the highest total payoff wins!

Here's the lineup of contest races, arranged in order of post time:

4:00 - Calder Derby at Calder Race Course

4:35 - Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct

5:00 - Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) at Santa Anita

5:06 - Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct

5:22 - Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland

5:40 - Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct

6:00 - Providencia Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita

6:09 - Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn

6:14 - Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct

6:30 - Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at Santa Anita

(all times Eastern)

Good luck, everyone!

04 Apr 2014 11:07 AM
-Keelerman

Coldfacts;

Great point about the success of Gulfstream shippers in the Wood Memorial! Another notable shipper was War Pass, who finished second in the 2008 Wood Memorial after a seventh-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby. Granted, that race was at Tampa Bay Downs, but War Pass did win an allowance race at Gulfstream that February.

04 Apr 2014 11:25 AM
-Keelerman

It has been reported that Kid Cruz will scratch from the Wood Memorial due to a lingering shoulder issue.

04 Apr 2014 11:29 AM
-Keelerman

Coldfacts;

Los Borrachos does look interesting, especially from a pedigree perspective. The fact that he is trained by Bill Mott also inspires confidence in his chances. Perhaps if the early pace is quick enough, he can come with a late rally to secure a spot in the trifecta. Good luck!

04 Apr 2014 11:42 AM
-Keelerman

They're off the turf at Keeneland today, and four horses -- Ry's the Man, Red River Rising, Pleuven, and Can'thelpbelieving -- have scratched from the Transylvania.

The switch to the Polytrack will probably help the chances of Medal Count, who finished a close fifth in an off-the-turf edition of the Bourbon Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland last fall, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths.

04 Apr 2014 11:49 AM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Medal Count

Very impressed with his lone turf start when he ran through an Xtreme for Speed to win. He was the Trans lone upgrade on turf,  so the scratches and switch to the main reduce the likely off odds while adding a level of unknown.  Nonetheless, he's the Win bet

04 Apr 2014 12:16 PM
MikeG7251

4:00 - Calder Derby - Ring Weekend

4:35 - Bay Shore Stakes - Favorite Tale

5:00 - Santa Anita Oaks - Ria Antonia

5:06 - Gazelle Stakes - Got Lucky

5:22 - Ashland Stakes - Thank You Marylou

5:40 - Wood Memorial - Social Inclusion

6:00 - Providencia Stakes - Nashoba's Gold

6:09 - Fantasy Stakes - Kiss Moon

6:14 - Carter Handicap - Strapping Groom

6:30 - Santa Anita Derby - California Chrome

04 Apr 2014 12:25 PM
-Keelerman

Thanks for joining the contest, Mike G7251! Good luck!

04 Apr 2014 1:00 PM
Carlos in Cali

Calder Derby: Ring Weekend in a romp.

Bay Shore: Kobe's Back, literally.

SA Oaks: Arethusa gets up if track plays fair.

Gazelle: Got Lucky faces lesser,wins.

Ashland: Rosalind, 2nd. in Alcibiades last year.

Wood Memorial: Harpoon,if he ever gets his act together,now is the time.I'm purely banking on pace melt-down.

Provedencia: Tough betting race.Full Ransom with a clean,stalking trip,though I don't like the 5lbs. she's giving the field.

Fantasy: Me in Europe hanging out with.. nevermind!

        Mufajaah,steps up in class in top form.

Carter: Sahara Sky, the class of the field.

SA Derby: California Chrome, shines and gets more bling!

04 Apr 2014 2:25 PM
Pedigree Ann

Just a few points -

Can we please stop comparing anybody to Big Brown? Big Brown got steroids when in training, the sort of steroids that are now banned for use in racehorses of any age. Steroids allowed Big Brown to progress and mature much more rapidly than a horse normally would - like the 30yo baseball players who suddenly grew muscles they'd never had before. None of these horses should be getting steroids, so Big Brown's preparation is not relevant.

Track records are usually more a function of track condition than anything else. The spring meeting of Secretariat's Belmont, the track was quite fast and several track records were set during the meeting. I am not impressed when I see that track records have been set twice already this season at the distance.

When the Keeneland track was being re-graded for the installation of the Polytrack surface, it was discovered that the homestretch actually ran downhill. The satellite-determined elevation at the clubhouse turn was 9ft lower than the elevation at the far turn. There had be no suspicion that the track layout was so flawed - had Jack Keene laid it out that way so that he could impress visitors with how well his horses were working? Anyway, the track base has now been regraded to an dead flat surface, so we should not see some of the characteristics of the the old surface return.

Which leads to - dirt surfaces are not all the same, so why would a new mix of dirt and sand be the same next fall as the one that was there 8 years ago? When they rebuilt Gulfstream as a 9f track in 2005(?) (fixing something that wasn't broken), they installed a new dirt surface which has been much more front-running-friendly than the old surface. A similar comment could be written about the current Santa Anita surface compared to the pre-Pro-Ride dirt surface. They don't take the track material that was dug up and store it somewhere, in case they want to use it again later.

04 Apr 2014 3:12 PM
Pedigree Ann

Now about Social Inclusion - the comparison to Uncle Mo is quite apt. Uncle Mo's 3yo debut was a short field GP 'made-up' stakes race where he was the only speed. He ran slow early fractions - 25 &2, 49 &2, then sprinted home is a respectable time. Next out was the Wood Memorial, where he was 1/5 and tired to be 3rd. Social Inclusion's fractions look somewhat faster, but remember - the track had already had a track record set at the distance a week or so earlier and had only started running 1 1/16 races last year; many changes of track record are to be expected. It's not like he broke a record that had stood since the 1980s or something.

According to BRIS pace figures, SI (I still think Sports Illustrated with those initials) is slower early going two-turns than at least 3 other horses in here, including Kristo, whom they tried to teach to rate off the pace last out (didn't work so a return to front-running is indicated). All are drawn inside of SI, so it looks like it will be hard for him to get the lead unless the rider pulls a Goldencents-like move (unlikely to succeed at Aqueduct). Tactically, it should be an interesting race.

04 Apr 2014 3:39 PM
Monarchos Matt

Calder Derby- Cleburne

Bay Shore- The Admiral

SA Oaks- Ria Antonia

Gazelle- Got Lucky

Wood Memorial- Wicked Strong

Ashland- Testa Rossi

Providencia- One More (lone speed in a race with all closers)

Fantasy- Please Explain

Carter- Sahara Sky

Santa Anita Derby- Candy Boy

04 Apr 2014 4:29 PM
TnT

Calder Derby- Ring Weekend

Bay Shore- The Admiral

SA Oaks- Ria Antonia

Gazelle- Got Lucky

Wood Memorial- Harpoon

Ashland- Testa Rossi

Providencia- Margot Machance

Fantasy- Sugar Shock

Carter- Golden Ticket

Santa Anita Derby- Candy Boy

04 Apr 2014 5:08 PM
-Keelerman

Sounds like UAE Derby winner Toast of New York is unlikely to run in the Kentucky Derby: www.drf.com/.../kentucky-derby-toast-new-york-unlikely-ship

04 Apr 2014 5:18 PM
-Keelerman

Plod Boy Phil;

Good call on the Transylvania Stakes! That was quite a run from Medal Count. Congratulations!

04 Apr 2014 5:29 PM
-Keelerman

Carlos in Cali, Monarchos Matt, & TnT;

Thanks for joining the contest! Looks like we've got a good one shaping up!

04 Apr 2014 5:30 PM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

Your comment about Keeneland's new dirt track not being the same as the old one reminded me of Twirling Candy breaking Spectacular Bid's seven-furlong track record in the 2010 Malibu Stakes, right after Santa Anita went back to dirt. I was surprised that Santa Anita resurrected the old records, rather than starting fresh with the new track. I wonder if Keeneland and Del Mar will do the same?

04 Apr 2014 5:38 PM
Brontexx

Contest Picks SA Derby Hop

             Wood Mem Noble Moon

If either wins Ill make 10 bucks or more betting 4 bucks ROI will be tops.Or both will lose and it dosent bother me its the real bets Im interested in and these are the only two races Im watching outta the list GL players.

04 Apr 2014 6:21 PM
Brontexx

KY VET dont forget the HOP/TAP EXACTA BOX

04 Apr 2014 7:01 PM
Little Bill

Contest:

Crc 7) Our Caravan

Aq 8) Financial Mogul

SA 5) Arethusa

Aq 9) Sweet Reason

Kee 9) Rosalind

Aq 10) Noble Moon

SA 7) Nashoba's Gold

OP 9) Please Explain

Aq 11) Clearly Now

SA 8) Schoolofhardrocks

04 Apr 2014 8:18 PM
El Kabong

Sorry I've been out of it. We've had nothing but rain in March. Had to get my garden in, rain let up so I've been a tilling like a mad Hobbit the last 72 hours. On top of that, no film, but on paper, all I have is this. Social I, Wicked Strong, Sam, and Kristo look like a good Tri/Super Box. I haven't been a fan of the Aqueduct group. Left In Trouble off my LD tickets, so that's where I'm at right now without some film, but I don't think it will change. The locals are going down. They have had home field advantage against lesser company, and Wicked is the only one who ventured out to grow up. I like him. Social is a tough looking horse and I think he will travel just fine. Those two and a cali tossed in should beef up a ticket to pick the local pockets, unless they agree come post time.

04 Apr 2014 8:18 PM
Plod Boy Phil

CONTEST

Ring Weekend

Financial Mogul

Bajan

Bird Maker

ROOM SERVICE

Diversy Harbor

Sugar Shock

Central Banker

Candy Boy

04 Apr 2014 8:36 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Keelerman -

I forgot to include:

Uncle Sigh in the WOOD.

04 Apr 2014 8:46 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Interesting about One More in the Providencia.  I was throwing out the One More race, but will take another look.

Plod Boy Phil,

Financial Mogul:  yes.  I was wondering whether I was reaching going wide to include this rank closer in this race.  I will keep him.

Anyone have an opinion on R6 at Santa Anita.  Rovenna has beaten the second ML choice four time on this surface.  I am interested in whether anyone like Princess Genevieve.

My hand is reaching, zombie-like, to play Social Inclusion in the P4.  Someone put a stake through my heart!

I'm tempted to go with the top two in the Carter, but they're closers.  Blushing Groom, the best speed, I'm inclined to go against because his big figs were on slop and in an ungraded stakes with a field of, I think, five.  Any thoughts?

04 Apr 2014 9:07 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

re: Social Inclusion

Really?  The 11 post against accomplished foes that have repeatedly displayed both tactical speed and stamina under duress in Graded races.  The fact that SI is a downgrade for us is no surprise - track records in wire to wire fashion tend to be achieved under perfect scenarios.

Rates 'none chance' from Flowville.

04 Apr 2014 9:30 PM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Princess Genevieve

Nothing to inspire me. Two downgraded turf races sandwiched around a neutral win, at fifty cents.

04 Apr 2014 9:36 PM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Central Banker

Rusty, you know I took this one from Little Bill, scoundrel that he is.

If I had an opinion of my own, I'd note that CB was:

- 'Quick to Zip' in the Malibu

- 'vs' a near Xtreme for Speed in the TGDay Hdcp

- owes me huge

04 Apr 2014 9:44 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

I was ready to stick the stake in myself, but thanks anyway.  Whew.  I don't care if we're wrong.  At least I won't end up wandering the face of the earth for eternity craving the taste of chalk.

I didn't like Princess Genevieve, either.  Thanks in advance.  I saw your pick of the favorite Diversy Harbor.  I still might hope for luck and play against that one.

04 Apr 2014 9:49 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'll root for you guys with Wicked Strong but I'm not biting.  Good luck.  I'm rooting against this outclassed longest longshot with the obscene name, too, if only for the name.  Watching Kristo, California third-stringer, with interest.  What happened in to him with that tugging by the way?  Horse experts?

I'll play all chalk exactas in the SA Derby, Candy Boy and CC on top, Hoppertunity on the bottom.  

Good luck, and good night.  Or is that supposed to be good night, and good luck?

04 Apr 2014 9:54 PM
Rusty Weisner

Reminder,

Reminder:  there were (at least) three track records at Gulfstream this spring:  Social Inclusion at 8.5f, the winner of the Razorback a week or two before that at 8.5f, Normandy Invasion, who may never win at over a mile, at 1m.

04 Apr 2014 9:59 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Keelerman -

Thanks on Medal Count ($8.00),  but the fact remains that my postings at Unlocking Winners to date in 2014 have been simply dreadful.

04 Apr 2014 10:03 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Correction:

I took Financial Mogul from Little Bill.

04 Apr 2014 10:12 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx, Little Bill, & Plod Boy Phil;

Thanks for joining the contest! Good luck!

04 Apr 2014 10:30 PM
Little Bill

Very good Phil,....putting that scoundrel thing together.

Good luck with Mogul, and to all.

04 Apr 2014 10:33 PM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

In regard to the Carter Handicap, I'm intrigued by the chances of Clearly Now. I thought he looked like a potential winner on the far turn of last year's Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct, but then he clipped heels and lost his momentum. Even still, he recovered well to finish fifth, beaten less than four lengths for first place. Since that race, he's turned in a long series of solid workouts, and I think he has a real chance to win tomorrow.

04 Apr 2014 10:35 PM
-Keelerman

Here's a question for any and all -- do you think the Kentucky Derby winner is running tomorrow?

04 Apr 2014 10:37 PM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman -Maybe he gets to do that because the track configuration hasn't changed, unlike Gulfstream's. And the material is the same, even if it isn't EXACTLY the same mix or from the same excavations.

The New York tracks underwent significant redevelopment in the 1950s and 1960s; I don't know if that included replacing the old surface or just improvements in drainage, etc. NYRA continued to list the track records from the previous years after the redevelopment until they were broken; as of my 2006 ARM, Man o' War and Kelso share the record for 1 5/8 on the main track, which may be eternal since the NYRA doesn't card races that long on dirt anymore at Belmont.

04 Apr 2014 10:37 PM
Suf10Jul35

In the Wood, I like the three horses with Florida experience 1-2-3... Harpoon: like Father like Son, grey closer at a square price plus he should improve from the inner dirt to main track, gets Johnny V too... Wicked Strong returns to familiar and favorable conditions; only horse in field to have 9f experience... would love tosee him  get at least place to ensure a KY Derby start for Jerkens... Social Inclusion: the one to catch and beat...  In the Santa Anita Derby: Hoppertunity: Smith and Baffert are due for some Derby luck as a team.  Good luck this weekend to one and all indeed! Thanks!

05 Apr 2014 12:41 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

Yes.  I think the Derby winner is running in the Santa Anita tomorrow, and maybe another that hits the board.  I think that one or two others that hit the board are running in Hot Springs.

But that could change! It always seems to.

05 Apr 2014 6:15 AM
Brontexx

Keelerman I think the KD winner will come out of the Fl Derby,the SA Derby or the Arkansas Derby.There wont be a winner outta the Spiral or the Sunland Derby like with AK and MTB.

Heres a question for you when was the last time a KD exacta came out of the same prep.I will answer and hope you have a better answer, it was BACK in 2003 when FC and EM completed the exactas in both the Wood and KD.I am happy to say I had it, but I had Empire Maker back in his first race of the previous year the only time I have picked my colt in his 2yo campaign.

This was Judmonte farms colt for Frankel to win the Derby.

05 Apr 2014 9:27 AM
Brontexx

Oh an I should have included the Blue Grass a KD winner wont come outta that race like Street Sense did in 2007 after demolishing the field at Churchill Downs in the Breeders Cup juvenile and all Nazfer had to do was get him there in one piece he loved Churchill Downs.In that year the best horse was Curlin and the most versatile horse was Hard Spun.

05 Apr 2014 9:34 AM
Rusty Weisner

My definition of "hit the board" for the purposes of the KY Derby is the top four.

05 Apr 2014 10:18 AM
Brontexx

Rusty Weisner any horse in just about any race can occupy 3rd and 4th, IMO the trick is to hit the exacta and put all in 3rd and 4th if you can afford it which for me is not an option.18 times 17 equals 306 dollars for the one dollar super.Churchill Downs Inc does not allow 10 cent supers otherwise i would have already won at least one.My goal is to win the exacta by covering numerous combinations, and then try to score with not a lot of money but a lot of luck in tris.The super is probably a pool that I should stay out of but if I can narrow it down to ten or less in the money,I could try a token bet that will depend on a lotta luck.In 2010 I played my birthday will all others in 4th and the 10 beat me outta third otherwise I win.4-2-10-9 I played 4-2-9-all.I was pretty sure that year about the exacta.

05 Apr 2014 10:56 AM
-Keelerman

Good morning, everyone! Welcome to another terrific Saturday of racing!

Across the waters in England, it's almost time for the Grand National Chase, which has a forty-horse field. Just for the fun of it, I'm picking Balthazar King to win. Is anyone else watching the simulcast?

Brontexx;

You're right -- 2003 was the last year that two horses emerged from the same prep race to sweep the Derby exacta. I find this a bit surprising, since such an occurrence used to be fairly common. It happened in 2000, with Fusaichi Pegasus and Aptitude (Wood Memorial); in 1995, with Thunder Gulch and Tejano Run (Blue Grass Stakes); in 1993, with Sea Hero and Prairie Bayou (Blue Grass Stakes); and in 1990, with Unbridled and Summer Squall (Blue Grass Stakes).

Perhaps this is the year the drought will end. It wouldn't surprise me if this year's Derby exacta is swept by horses coming out of the Santa Anita Derby, thanks to California Chrome, Candy Boy, and Hoppertunity. What do you think?

05 Apr 2014 10:58 AM
-Keelerman

Suf10Jul35;

Good luck to you, too!

05 Apr 2014 11:03 AM
Brontexx

Last year as I have stated no exacta for me I had Orb like almost everyone on this blog but not the 2nd place finisher who got a great trip and beat out Revolutionary for 2nd.Yes he got a good trip what did he do after that,btw he and Revolutionary came outta the Louisiana Derby.

05 Apr 2014 11:05 AM
-Keelerman

Here are my picks for the contest:

Calder Derby - Our Caravan (I can't really see Ring Weekend losing, but I think Our Caravan can finish second at a respectable price.)

Bay Shore Stakes - Favorite Tale

Santa Anita Oaks - Arethusa

Gazelle Stakes - My Miss Sophia

Ashland Stakes - Testa Rossi

Wood Memorial - Social Inclusion

Providencia Stakes - Nashoba's Gold

Fantasy Stakes - Mufajaah

Carter Handicap - Clearly Now

Santa Anita Derby - Candy Boy

Good luck, everyone!

05 Apr 2014 11:12 AM
Coldfacts

The Mr. Prospector sire line was shut out of the 2013 Derby. It is a rarity when a horse from this line does not hit the board.

I expect the line to be back with a vengeance in 2014. The line is represented by the buzz horse Social Inclusion, Conquest Titan,Candy Boy, General A Rod, Vinceremos, Cairo Prince and Kristo.

05 Apr 2014 11:31 AM
Brontexx

Keelerman, My bad there is another race Ill be watching that is in the contest 8th at Aueduct here are my up to date picks   Contest Picks SA Derby Hop

                             Wood     Noble Moon

                      A8 aka Bay Shore Coup de Grace

05 Apr 2014 11:49 AM
TnT

I also use hit the board as the top four for KD purposes. I only pay superfecta in the KD, as the payouts are so high, and it has become an obsession of mine. I missed 2011, 2012 and 2013 by one horse, Schakleford, Dullahan, and Golden Soul, believe it or not, all three years the winner was my key horse for 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

My use of closers if mainly for the 3rd and esp. 4th position. Key horse so far this year is either Cali Chrome or Candy Boy once dry, if wet no idea yet.

Good luck today everyone. Phil I also like Cajan but not sure she is ready for top company.

PS. Rest of the year my wagers are only win, place and exacta.

05 Apr 2014 11:59 AM
Kevin

No bets this weekend. More interested to see if inclusion (or samraat) chrome and constitution make it to derby undefeated who the derby fave will be.

05 Apr 2014 11:59 AM
Brontexx

Keelerman one more this time a contingent pick because it should be the favorite and for contest purposes I dont like to have to take favorites.If Coup de Grace dosent hit the board in A9 Bay Shore then Ill go with Testa Rossi in K9 aka  Ashland if she hits the board which in this case is 1st or 2nd then forget about TR.

SA Derby  Hop

Wood      Noble Moon

Bay Shore Coup de Grace if he dosent finish 1st 2nd then      Ashland Testa Rossi

05 Apr 2014 12:03 PM
El Kabong

Calder    Ring Weekend

Bay         Kobe

SA Oaks  Arethusa

Gazelle   Got Lucky

Ash         Thank You Mary Lou

Wood       Wicked Strong

Prov         One More

Fantasy    Euphrosyne

Carter      Golden Ticket

SA Derby  Candy Boy

Good luck. I'm in.

05 Apr 2014 12:22 PM
-Keelerman

Sounds good, Brontexx! Thanks!

05 Apr 2014 12:43 PM
-Keelerman

Thanks for joining the contest, El Kabong! Good luck!

05 Apr 2014 12:44 PM
TnT

Thanks for the contest Keelerman, would hate to be playing real money this week, sideline observations are fine for me.

Albano also Mr.Prospector if he makes it .

05 Apr 2014 12:49 PM
Mary Zinke

Quick picks for the contest:

Calder Derby: Cleburne

Bay Shore: Kobe's Back

SA Oaks: Artemis

Gazelle: Got Lucky

Ashland: Candy Kitty

Wood: Kristo

Providencia: Savings Account

Fantasy: Please Eplain

Carter: Sahara Sky

SA Derby: Hoppertunity

05 Apr 2014 12:50 PM
-Keelerman

It is being reported by DRF.com that it is very windy at Aqueduct today, and unless the direction shifts, the wind will be blowing in the faces of the horses as they come down the homestretch. So don't be surprised if the final furlong times are a bit slow today.

05 Apr 2014 1:03 PM
-Keelerman

In today's opening race at Keeneland, I like the two Wesley Ward-trainees to finish 1-2, with preference for Climb in Back over Time out of Mind.

05 Apr 2014 1:06 PM
-Keelerman

Mary Zinke;

Thanks for joining the contest! Good luck!

05 Apr 2014 1:07 PM
-Keelerman

Skyway was very impressive winning the opening race at Keeneland this afternoon, drawing away with authority in the homestretch to win by six or seven lengths in the sharp time of :51.62 for 4 1/2 furlongs. He looks like a good one!

05 Apr 2014 1:29 PM
-Keelerman

The more I think about it, the more I think that Schoolofhardrocks has a real shot to crack the trifecta in the Santa Anita Derby. I've heard a number of people mention how well he has been training, and I thought his performance in the San Felipe was promising, given that it was his first start since August. Any thoughts?

05 Apr 2014 1:45 PM
-Keelerman

Stewart Elliot is off to a great start at Keeneland, winning two races yesterday and the first two races of today's card to take an early lead in the jockey standings. If his success continues, perhaps he can pick up a mount in the Kentucky Derby!

05 Apr 2014 1:49 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman yes I think thats a good possibility that the KD exacta comes outta the SA Derby.If it rains that day I probably wont play an exacta from competitors in either Fl Derby or SA Derby.And if it rains I might even look at the Spiral and Bluegrass for the place as well as the Louisiana Derby.

05 Apr 2014 1:53 PM
derbygal

4:00 - Calder Derby at Calder Race Course

      Our Caravan

4:35 - Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct

      The Admiral

5:00 - Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) at Santa Anita

      Ria Antonia

5:06 - Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct

      Sweet Reason

5:22 - Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland

      Istanford

5:40 - Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct

      Social Inclusion

6:00 - Providencia Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita

      Kukaluka

6:09 - Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn

      Mufajaah

6:14 - Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct

      Sahara Sky

6:30 - Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at Santa Anita

      California Chrome

05 Apr 2014 2:03 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman oh I do already have Hop and CC in the futures so I cant take that back but Hop won on slop.Thats the ONLY FUTURE WAGER I have on CC and I have none on Candy Boy hes not in unless 1st or 2nd today.CC prices on exactas were TOO low in futures on the horses I was keying or The other ones I keyed in last future wager I thought would be running early in same pack as CC.I have other reasons but I cant remember them off the top of my head, but I think about this unique race for months so my bets are well thought out.

05 Apr 2014 2:05 PM
ROBBIEJOE25

Calder Derby: Ring Weekend

Bayshore:     The Admiral

SA OAKS:      Ria Antonia

Gazelle:      My Miss Sophia

Ashland:      Thankyou Marylou

Wood:         Social Inclusion

Providencia:  Diversy Harbor

Fantasy:      Please Explain

Carter:       Strapping Groom (Best Bet 2day)

SA Derby:     Hoppertunity

Keelerman thanks for letting me be a part of the game...

Goodluck ALL

05 Apr 2014 2:12 PM
-Keelerman

Thursday's Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park looks to be a very competitive race, with Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Secret Circle taking on Heitai, Alsvid, Apprehender, and others. Here are the entries: www.equibase.com/.../OP041014USA-EQB.html

05 Apr 2014 2:54 PM
-Keelerman

RobbieJoe25 & derbygal;

Thanks for joining the contest! Good luck!

05 Apr 2014 2:58 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

It sounds like you have a great chance to hit a really nice Derby future wager! How did you play Conquest Titan? Did you use him in any exactas, or just in the win pool?

05 Apr 2014 3:07 PM
-Keelerman

The upcoming fifth race at Keeneland looks more like a graded stakes race than a nine-furlong allowance race, thanks to the presence of grade I winners Forte Dei Marmi, Boisterous, and Up With the Birds. I'll take a shot with Unbridled Ocean, who rallied well into fast closing fractions to finish fourth in the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. III) last time out.

05 Apr 2014 3:14 PM
-Keelerman

Boisterous just turned in an excellent performance to win Keeneland's fifth race, wearing down early leader Tricky Hat (who got away with fractions of :51.28 and 1:16.12!) to win the nine-furlong turf allowance race by a neck. The final time was 1:50.86, while the final three-eighths were clocked in an exceptional :34.74. Unbridled Ocean finished third after tracking the early pace.

05 Apr 2014 3:23 PM
Pedigree Ann

Calder Derby - Ring Weekend

Bay Shore - Kobe's Back

Santa Susana (it's REAL name) - Fashion Plate

Gazelle - Vero Amore

Ashland - Rosalind

Wood Memorial - Samraat

Providencia - Savings Account

Fantasy S - Please Explain

Carter H - Dads Caps

Santa Anita Derby - Candy Boy

05 Apr 2014 3:24 PM
-Keelerman

Trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza, who will team up with California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby later today, just won the opener at Santa Anita (a seven-furlong maiden special weight for 3yos) with Reno Rebel. Sent off as the second choice at 2-1, Reno Rebel helped set quick fractions of :22.23 and :44.55, then kicked clear at the top of the stretch and held off a late run from pace-tracking Yard Line to win by a half-length in 1:21.64 seconds. I'd say the track is very fast today!

05 Apr 2014 3:29 PM
-Keelerman

Thanks for joining the contest, Pedigree Ann! Good luck!

05 Apr 2014 3:36 PM
-Keelerman

Early speed is definitely not a bad thing at Santa Anita today! In the second race, Storm Fighter seized command of the early lead, set fractions of :22.67, :45.77, and 1:09.67, then held on gamely through the final quarter mile to win by a length in 1:35.67.

05 Apr 2014 3:41 PM
-Keelerman

Stewart Elliot just picked up his third win of the day at Keeneland, riding the Mark Casse-trained 6-1 shot Creative Spirit to a dominant win in the sixth race. He has three more mounts left on the card -- Jagger M in the seventh race, Jet Cat in the eighth, and Resistivity in the Ashland Stakes.

05 Apr 2014 3:52 PM
-Keelerman

If speed is indeed an asset at Santa Anita this afternoon, perhaps Frensham has a shot in the upcoming Echo Eddie Stakes. Trained by Doug O'Neill, the son of Square Eddie has flashed speed in both of his starts, and will break from the rail today. Perhaps he can steal the race on the front end at around 35-1.

05 Apr 2014 4:00 PM
-Keelerman

Stretch-runners have been performing very well at Aqueduct today -- so well that 74-1 shot This Hard Land was able to rally from the clouds in Aqueduct's sixth race to win by a neck. That's not to say early speed is a negative -- there have been a number of a pace-setting/tracking winners as well -- but if you like a deep closer in any of the graded stakes races, I don't think you'll get beat by a track bias! :)

05 Apr 2014 4:12 PM
-Keelerman

There was a pace meltdown in the Echo Eddie, as Oh Daddy Oh and Frensham had nothing left after setting blazing fractions of :21.61 and :43.76. Alert Bay and Life is a Joy both rallied from well back to complete the exacta, the former stopping the clock in a sharp 1:15.61 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

05 Apr 2014 4:23 PM
-Keelerman

Does anyone have any thoughts on what just happened in the Calder Derby? I was surprised to see Ring Weekend rating off the pace early on, especially since the pace (:24, :49 1/5, and 1:14 3/5) was moderate. Even still, he seemed to be in good position on the far turn, but after bumping with Our Caravan at the top of the stretch, he could offer nothing more as Our Caravan drew off to win by about eight lengths in 1:54 1/5 for nine furlongs. Ring Weekend held on to be second over the late-running Cleburne.

But the performance of Ring Weekend aside, congratulations to Derbygal and Little Bill, who both picked Our Caravan to win! Here are the standings after the first race of our contest:

1. Derbygal - $17.20

1. Keelerman - $17.20

1. Little Bill - $17.20

4. Pedigree Ann - $2.20

4. RobbieJoe25 - $2.20

4. El Kabong - $2.20

4. Mike G7251 - $2.20

4. Carlos in Cali - $2.20

4. TnT - $2.20

4. Plod Boy Phil - $2.20

11. Monarchos Matt - $0

11. Mary Zinke - $0

11. Brontexx - $0

05 Apr 2014 4:43 PM
-Keelerman

Congratulations to Brontexx, who successfully picked Coup de Grace to win the Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at odds of 7-1! The Chad Brown-trainee showed great determination in the homestretch to edge Oliver Zip by a head, with the slow-starting Kobe's Back making up ground impressively to finish third.

Here are the standings after our second contest race:

1. Brontexx - $23.70

2. Derbygal - $17.20

2. Keelerman - $17.20

2. Little Bill - $17.20

5. Pedigree Ann - $2.20

5. RobbieJoe25 - $2.20

5. El Kabong - $2.20

5. Mike G7251 - $2.20

5. Carlos in Cali - $2.20

5. TnT - $2.20

5. Plod Boy Phil - $2.20

12. Monarchos Matt - $0

12. Mary Zinke - $0

05 Apr 2014 4:50 PM
-Keelerman

Fashion Plate and Ria Antonia put on quite a show in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), staging a thrilling stretch duel that ended with Fashion Plate the winner by just over a length in the time of 1:42.97 seconds. Ria Antonia showed great improvement in her second start of the year, and seems to be on an upward trajectory heading into the Kentucky Oaks.

Across the country at Aqueduct, My Miss Sophia was able to set very moderate fractions of :48.23 and 1:12.39 in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II), which enabled her to draw off in powerful fashion down the homestretch to win by seven or eight lengths in the time of 1:50.48. Got Lucky edged Sweet Reason for second place.

Congratulations to Pedigree Ann for selecting Fashion Plate, and to RobbieJoe25 for selecting My Miss Sophia! Here are the standings after our fourth contest race:

1. Brontexx - $23.70

2. Keelerman - $23.30

3. Derbygal - $20.00

4. Little Bill - $17.20

5. Pedigree Ann - $11.80

6. RobbieJoe25 - $11.10

7. Mike G7251 - $7.90

7. TnT - $7.90

9. Monarchos Matt - $5.70

10. El Kabong - $5.10

10. Carlos in Cali - $5.10

12. Mary Zinke - $2.90

13. Plod Boy Phil - $2.20

05 Apr 2014 5:21 PM
Rusty Weisner

Played chintzy P3's starting in R5 and R6.  Singled Fashion Plate and Rovenna in R6. Six horses in R7.

05 Apr 2014 5:22 PM
-Keelerman

Photo finish in the Ashland Stakes! Was it Rosalind, or was it Room Service? That may have been a dead-heat!

05 Apr 2014 5:28 PM
-Keelerman

... And it was a dead-heat! Rosalind and Room Service hit the wire together following a lengthy stretch duel in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I), with the rest of the field finishing well behind them. Testa Rossi, the 8-5 favorite, encountered trouble on the first turn, but received a good trip thereafter and just didn't fire in the homestretch.

Congratulations to Pedigree Ann, Carlos in Cali, Little Bill, and Plod Boy Phil, who all picked the winner(s)!

Here are the standings after our fifth contest race:

1. Little Bill - $26.60

2. Brontexx - $23.70

3. Keelerman - $23.30

4. Pedigree Ann - $21.20

5. Derbygal - $20.00

6. Plod Boy Phil - $15.20

7. Carlos in Cali - $14.50

8. RobbieJoe25 - $11.10

9. Mike G7251 - $7.90

9. TnT - $7.90

11. Monarchos Matt - $5.70

12. El Kabong - $5.10

13. Mary Zinke - $2.90

05 Apr 2014 5:37 PM
TnT

There goes 6 mil.......silly boy

05 Apr 2014 5:54 PM
-Keelerman

Wow...I thought Social Inclusion looked like a winner on the far turn of the Wood Memorial. I really thought he was going to burst away from the field and win by daylight, like he did in his allowance victory. But when asked for run at the top of the stretch, he lacked the necessary response, and wound up finishing third as Wicked Strong powered down the homestretch to win in clear-cut fashion. The final time for nine furlongs was 1:49.31, 0.88 seconds faster than the My Miss Sophia ran in winning the Gazelle.

Samraat ran on to be second after appearing beaten turning for home, edging Social Inclusion by a nose. The question now is this -- will 20 Kentucky Derby qualification points be enough to get Social Inclusion into the Derby?

Congratulations to Monarchos Matt and El Kabong on selecting Wicked Strong to win! Here are the standings after our sixth contest race:

1. Monarchos Matt - $33.70

2. El Kabong - $33.10

3. Little Bill - $26.60

4. Pedigree Ann - $26.10

5. Brontexx - $23.70

6. Keelerman - $23.30

7. Derbygal - $20.00

8. Plod Boy Phil - $15.20

9. Carlos in Cali - $14.50

10. RobbieJoe25 - $11.10

11. Mike G7251 - $7.90

11. TnT - $7.90

13. Mary Zinke - $2.90

05 Apr 2014 6:05 PM
Pedigree Ann

Well, I did say some nice things about Wicked Strong, back when he was running at GP. To wit; I liked him best of the horses coming out of the Remsen because he was able to close into a glacial pace. He disappointed me. So I gave up on him.

05 Apr 2014 6:06 PM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

Two down, one to go! Good luck in the Providencia! Which six horses did you use?

05 Apr 2014 6:06 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I'm going to simultaneously congratulate and console you on Wicked Strong.  I assume you didn't hammer him to win.

Tell me I'm wrong!

05 Apr 2014 6:27 PM
-Keelerman

Congratulations to Pedigree Ann, who has seized command of the lead in our contest following a 10-1 victory by Dads Caps in the Carter Handicap!

Also, congratulations to Little Bill and Mike G7251, who selected Nashoba's Gold to win the Providencia Stakes!

Here are the standings after our eighth contest race:

1. Pedigree Ann - $59.70

2. Monarchos Matt - $38.90

3. Little Bill - $37.40

4. Keelerman - $34.10

5. El Kabong - $33.10

6. Derbygal - $25.20

7. Brontexx - $23.70

8. Mike G7251 - $18.70

9. Plod Boy Phil - $15.20

10. Carlos in Cali - $19.70

11. RobbieJoe25 - $11.10

12. Mary Zinke - $8.10

13. TnT - $7.90

05 Apr 2014 6:27 PM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

I had 3,4,5,6,7,8,9.  At least the 8 didn't win (sorry Phil).  Didn't bet Aqu at all.

05 Apr 2014 6:28 PM
Kevin

Jockey on Social Inclusion looked behind him like he was going to win by daylight at the top of the stretch.  But SI had nothing left.  

05 Apr 2014 6:36 PM
-Keelerman

Congratulations to Plod Boy Phil and TnT on selecting Sugar Shock to win the Fantasy! And congratulations to Mike G7251 on selecting Kiss Moon, who finished a strong second at odds of 13-1!

Here are the standings after our ninth contest race:

1. Pedigree Ann - $59.70

2. Monarchos Matt - $38.90

3. Little Bill - $37.40

4. Keelerman - $34.10

5. El Kabong - $33.10

6. Plod Boy Phil - $28.00

7. Derbygal - $25.20

8. Brontexx - $23.70

9. Carlos in Cali - $19.70

9. TnT - $19.70

11. Mike G7251 - $18.70

12. RobbieJoe25 - $11.10

13. Mary Zinke - $8.10

05 Apr 2014 6:36 PM
-Keelerman

Good job hitting the pick three, Rusty Weisner! Congratulations!

05 Apr 2014 6:37 PM
Kevin

Odds on California Chrome for the Derby?  Guessing the favorite as 3-1.  

05 Apr 2014 6:51 PM
-Keelerman

Congratulations to Pedigree Ann! You are the winner of our handicapping contest!

Also, congratulations to Mike G7251, Derbygal, and Carlos in Cali on selecting California Chrome to win the Santa Anita Derby!

Here are the standings after the final race of our contest:

1. Pedigree Ann - $59.70

2. Monarchos Matt - $38.90

3. Little Bill - $37.40

4. Keelerman - $34.10

5. El Kabong - $33.10

6. Derbygal - $31.00

7. Plod Boy Phil - $28.00

8. Brontexx - $27.70

9. Carlos in Cali - $25.50

10. Mike G7251 - $24.50

11. TnT - $19.70

12. RobbieJoe25 - $15.10

13. Mary Zinke - $12.10

Thanks to all for playing!

05 Apr 2014 7:00 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman all my future bets are exactas.I take advantage of the free square the all others,another one added today Wicked Strong wasnt in any of the top 23 in all four future wagers.As far as Conquest Titan I started slow in pool 2 with an exacta box Conquest Titan,Commissioner and all others.The all others with CT and Commish are We Miss Artie,Hop,Chitu,Constitution,Gen-Arod,Wildcat Red,and Albano so far lets see if more are added in the Arkansas Derby or BG.I got Conquest Titan in the 3rd pool also.He was in ALL OTHERS in the 4th one and I have him with other key horses.

You have me listed for 27.70 in the contest, so Im assuming it was a 1st and 2nd contest because I had one winner and one 2nd, BTW who won the ROI thats where I thought I had a good chance since I only picked three races.

05 Apr 2014 7:28 PM
Pedigree Ann

To paraphrase George M. Cohan, "My [late] mother thanks you, my [late] father thanks you, my brothers thank you, and I thank you." (No sisters.)

How was the deed done? Since I was running out of time to handicap, I just wrote down my little pace charts for each race and identified a couple of races with lone serious speed - Fashion Plate and Dads Caps (on whom I wish I had bet). In the Ashland, lots of speed signed up, found a closer with a good race over the Keeneland Poly. Bay Shore had lots of speed, too, so I picked a closer, just the wrong one. Otherwise, I just picked horses I knew somehow.

Wow, the Flashy One may well be for real. If he can keep it up for another furlong..., I apprenticed at the CTBA (summer job, part-time during my senior year) after which I was given a Calbred registration certificate, complete with the registrar's embossed stamp and a number. (Unfortunately at 21, I was too old to enter a race.) So I am always on the side of my fellow Calbreds. On to Churchill!

05 Apr 2014 7:34 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

Thanks for filling me in on your future wagers!

In terms of ROI, you topped the contest standings with a strong $3.95. Great job!

05 Apr 2014 7:48 PM
Brontexx

Ring Weekend lost at Calder I forgot to mention he was in all others in pool two because that could be a throwout on the day of the race for me,but if he happens to come in the exacta I hope I have the other one.

05 Apr 2014 8:00 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Congrats Pedigree Ann - nicely done start to finish.

I'm just happy to have trounced Mary Zinke's 'Quick Pick' ticket....is that done with a machine Mary?

05 Apr 2014 8:51 PM
El Kabong

Missed all the action. Duty called, was gone at work all day. Time to look at film but before I do……

Pedigree Ann, you're in the zone. Stay there. Congrats to you.

Keelerman, can I borrow a buck!

Monarchos Matt, I knew we were not going to get the 15 to one. Played tri's and smacked them. Hope you let them have it on this one too. Wicked lived up to his name.

05 Apr 2014 9:20 PM
Rusty Weisner

I think I bet $28 and netted $5 on that SA Derby.  With my P3's I netted $40 on the day.  Beats losing, anyway.

El Kabong,

Good stuff.  

05 Apr 2014 10:14 PM
Rusty Weisner

I really thought Social Inclusion had it easily.  He was lathered up before the race, though.  

05 Apr 2014 10:15 PM
Rusty Weisner

Did anyone have Dads Caps in the Carter?  That one gives me the shudders; I never would have had him.  

05 Apr 2014 10:30 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'm displeased about Ring Weekend losing because if he still runs in the Derby he won't take any money.

05 Apr 2014 10:33 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

Can't lie, I stuck with the plan and went with a straight up place bet on Wicked Strong...still got me back all of last weekend's losses and then some so I'll take it, but I was definitely kicking myself for not sacking up and betting to win. But, place betting is my game...I came out of that race thinking, wow, a closer, maybe now I have my Derby horse!

Then the Santa Anita Derby happened. Going to be very hard to justify going against California Chrome.

Keelerman,

I think he'll be less than 3-1. He's an obvious standout in a weaker than usual crop. I want to try to beat him in the worst way but not sure I see an angle--he just crushed the next two best horses in the whole crop and was under a hand ride to boot. Maybe the Arkansas Derby will show me something but I'm not sure what that would be exactly. Will be eagerly anticipating the Beyer, didn't even see the final time as I had to run out immediately after the race for some Final Four action, both games went against me of course. Heading to check out the charts now, and looking forward to next weekend to try to find some value.

As I mentioned over on the other blog, this Derby to me isn't shaping up to be a race with as much pace as a lot of people are predicting. Rusty will remember that I had the exact opposite opinion about last year's race. Social Inclusion was rank from the start, had to get the lead in the Wood from a wide post, but still could only get there in :47.2 and had nothing left in the tank. That was a race I handicapped based on a hot pace and did so correctly and picked the right winner, but I still thought the pace would be faster. Same was the case in the Florida Derby, where I predicted a hot pace that ended up being a crawl in :48.1. Where are the horses that are going to put up a sub :47 half in the Derby? I'm not seeing it. That makes Cali Chrome even more dangerous in my opinion. But, desperately want to beat him, and I'm not even sure why...

06 Apr 2014 12:08 AM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

Totally agree on Ring Weekend. Hopefully Steve throws him far out of his Dozen...should be a complete toss in the Derby.

06 Apr 2014 12:21 AM
Brontexx

Sadler shipped at least two more outside of Cali for graded stakes, and both lost I doubt he turns it around with Candy Boy in one of the toughest race in the world,Stevens might want to jump ship I know he can get the mount on others in the race.

06 Apr 2014 7:55 AM
Brontexx

Last year Golden Soul was the trip colt and got second place,they still have to run the race and the circumstnces of the race makes it so the best horse losses much more than he should.

06 Apr 2014 7:57 AM
-Keelerman

The Beyer speed figures for both the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial came back strong. Here they are, along with a few other interesting Beyers from yesterday:

California Chrome (Santa Anita Derby) - 107

Wicked Strong (Wood Memorial) - 104

Fashion Plate (Santa Anita Oaks) - 87

My Miss Sophia (Gazelle) - 93

Our Caravan (Calder Derby) - 88

Coup de Grace (Bay Shore) - 89

06 Apr 2014 8:35 AM
Secreteriat

Giant Killer Jerkens strikes with Wicked Strong,

Great stash for the DERBY,

Wood exacta and TRI

Sa DERBY Exacta ,Tri P3 and P 4

The thrill of victory feels soooo good

CAL Crome 107 Beyer.

Future bets look very promising.

Can't wait for the DERBY

06 Apr 2014 8:35 AM
Secreteriat

Giant Killer Jerkens strikes with Wicked Strong,

Great stash for the DERBY,

Wood exacta and TRI

Sa DERBY Exacta ,Tri P3 and P 4

The thrill of victory feels soooo good

CAL Crome 107 Beyer.

Future bets look very promising.

Can't wait for the DERBY

06 Apr 2014 8:35 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

You can always get him at 3/2 by playing for and against him, hoping in the latter scenario that he has bad racing luck.

06 Apr 2014 9:16 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

The Wood actually makes me oppose the Florida Derby more.  The Gulfstream track was totally compromised and horses like Wicked Strong had no chance, while Social Inclusion and Normandy Invasion had inflated, track-record figures.  I see no excuse for Wildcat Red and General A Rod in a race that was suspicious in more than one sense.

06 Apr 2014 9:43 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Before the SA Derby I brashly predicted Hoppertunity would lose that race and win in Louisville.  Things look a little different now, but I'm still keeping an eye on him, as this wasn't a race he was meant or expected to win.  

06 Apr 2014 9:48 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

California Chrome just paired figures.

Samraat is like clockwork: his Beyer was 98.

06 Apr 2014 11:20 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

The sporting side of me wants the best horse, California Chrome, to win.  The avaricious side wants him to lose.  

To that end I'm already getting a head start on concocting justifications for betting against him, besides just the potential for bad racing luck.

Maybe his final furlong isn't quite as good as his previous ones.  Maybe he only runs a 105, or less; Orb only got a 104 last year.  A few strike me as eligible to move forward to something around there:  look at Hoppertunity -- after only a three-week break he ran back to his previous, winning performance in the Rebel.  Even accounting for the weakness of the Louisiana Derby (Hoppertunity's win in the Rebel reflects little on the quality of that field) I might consider Intense Holiday still eligible to crack 100.

On the other hand, if that track is like 2012, I won't relish the prospect of betting against CC.  I might even relish betting on him.

06 Apr 2014 11:45 AM
Brontexx

In horseracing the track has more do do with outcomes than figure players will admit.Look at Wicked Strong yesterday and what the trainer said after the race.CC looks unbeatable at SA.Gen-Arod has already run a good one(beat byCT) not great at CD, at Gulfstream he mostly chased the pace,I know after CCs performance Gen_ARods odds will be double figures as well as many others.If CC loses I sure wont be scratching MY HEAD,but I hope Ill be looking in my pocket for the WINNING TICKET or double checking my ADW accounts.

06 Apr 2014 12:10 PM
Brontexx

Now a lot more than before would love to see Cairo Prince make it he might like the surface at CD even if its like 2012.

06 Apr 2014 12:14 PM
Pedigree Ann

Secretariat (you should know this, since he trained Onion) - "The Giant Killer" is H. Allen Jerkens, the father of James A Jerkens, trainer of Wicked Strong. Jerkens pere beat Kelso and Secretariat with his Florida-bred Hobeau Farm charges like Beau Purple and Onion to earn his title. Don't know if Jerkens fils has performed any similar deeds to deserve to inherit it. I would hardly call Social Inclusion or Samraat 'giants.'

06 Apr 2014 1:36 PM
Sam Santschi

Brontexx ...missed the boat as usual on the use of the all others key in the future exacta.  Betting strategy my usual downfall.  Sitting just with CC, Uncle Sigh and Strong Mandate in a boxed exacta and a Win bet on CC at 32-1.  Any body like the idea of trifecta's with CC singled in each of the three spots and all in the others?  He's got to hit the board, I would think?  Of course, cashing a ticket is not the same as crushing one. Praying the Coach figures out SM in time.

06 Apr 2014 4:29 PM
Brontexx

Sam Santschi no problem the slow boat will leave again in 2015,not sure it will leave in November 2014 as thus far none are in from the first pool that was held in the 11th month this year.CC looks unbeatable in Cali its not just the form that could drop off its also shipping,the venue,the track etc, as far as US if hes in so is CP who I still believe in and he will run in relatively close vicinity to CC in the race barring extravagant post position draws or kick back from the slop.

I got Strong Mandate also but I got others slated to run in the Arkansas Derby too.

06 Apr 2014 7:04 PM
Brontexx

Sam Santschi in case you didnt understand my verbage if you know sports its called comfort zone, homefield advantage.On the other hand a shrewd bettor will have enuff dough on the obvious winner on paper to cover his other bets.

06 Apr 2014 7:12 PM
Secreteriat

Pedigree Ann

I do know Alan is the real Giant killer. I saw Onion beat Secreteriat when I lived in N Y. I am sure that Mr Jerkins Sr is helping behind the scenes. I agree Samrat and Social Inclusion are not giants yet but Samrat was unbeaten prior to this race and Social Inclusion did run the fastest 3 year old race. Maybe they are small giants in their division. I think Wicked Strong will be very competitive going forward and can't wait to see him in the Triple Crown. I always appreciate your comments and congrats on your picks this weekend.

06 Apr 2014 9:24 PM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

Excellent point about the Wood vs. Florida Derby. I completely agree and that was one of the first things I said after the result- it completely indicts the GP form altogether. It was already very suspicious but the Wood result provides strong evidence against GP.

If we toss the come-home times from the Florida Derby, which are suspicious to begin with even independent of the surface issues thanks to the 1:12.0 opening 3/4, we have only three horses who finished their final preps coming home in under :38 for final 3/8 and under :13 for final 1/8. These have historically been strong cutoff indicators. They are:

California Chrome (36.65, 12.49)

Wicked Strong (37.35, 12.52)

Hoppertunity (37.47, 12.54)

These are the three I am currently keying in on, awaiting this weekend's results.

07 Apr 2014 9:55 AM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman - I missed your post about the National - excellent pick! Not only did your horse make it all the way around with the jock on board (only 18 did), he finished second! Hope you had him both ways. My punt was Teaforthree, who unseated his rider at The Chair. I know he was the favorite in GB, but in the US pools, "the field" of 16 horses was 5/2, which inflated my horse's price. Number 31 won, so the the field was the right bet after all.

07 Apr 2014 9:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Those are my top three, too.  I am keeping a fourth slot open for the one or two I like best out of the Arkansas Derby:  Conquest Titan? Rise On Curlin? Strong Mandate?

El Kabong,

What is it you like so much about this Smart Cover?  I'm not impressed by his Iroquois, despite the company he kept, and beat -- he seemed to get the ideal setup.  And other than that, what else is there? Why hasn't he been running on dirt?

07 Apr 2014 12:39 PM
Brontexx

Stevens agent will have to call an audible at the line of scrimage after the trouncing by CC,he will have to jump ship onto another colt and leave Sadler and his ofer record alone.Keelerman what is Sadlers record for grade 1 shippers when they ship outside of California?

07 Apr 2014 2:35 PM
-Keelerman

Thanks, Pedigree Ann! I had a lot of fun watching the race, in part because Balthazar King actually made it through without falling! :) I've always been fond of very long races, particularly those at two miles or longer, so I look forward each year to watching the Grand National.

On that note, do you know if Estimate will attempt to defend her title in the Ascot Gold Cup this June? That would be a race to see!

07 Apr 2014 4:13 PM
-Keelerman

Brontexx, I'm not sure what Sadler's record is with grade I horses shipping outside of California, but I'll do a bit of research and let you know what I find!

07 Apr 2014 7:00 PM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman -

And most of the runners in the Grand National are Thoroughbreds! A different strain of TBs, chosen for traits different from those of flat horses, but registered TBs nonetheless. Some of my favorite chasers have been sons of Old Vic, winner of the French and Irish Derbies. However this year's winner is only 127/128ths or 99.2% Thoroughbred and is therefore designated a 'half-bred' in Britain (His 6th dam was sired by a TB out of mare of unknown pedigree.)

Are you familiar with the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, which has been run since 1874 (with no runnings in wartime)? It is run across country, like the Maryland Hunt Cup, for 6.9 km, which works out to just over 4 miles 2f, so the Grand National is longer. But the Pardubicka race (the 'c' is pronounced 'ts') is tougher, as it involves up and down, banks, and a ploughed field as part of the course. It is easier than it used to be, when half the race was run over the ploughed field, some of the fences were higher, and the infamous Taxis ditch (on the LANDING side) was deeper and wider. In 1909, no horses finished (but only three started).

07 Apr 2014 7:43 PM
-Keelerman

Pedigree Ann;

Perhaps our American flat racing Thoroughbreds could use a bit of that steeplechasing endurance and durability! I find it amazing that seven or eight years of age is considered old for a flat racer, whereas a steeplechaser that age might just be reaching his prime.

I'd never heard of the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, but it sounds like a great race! When and where is it held?

07 Apr 2014 10:27 PM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman - The Velka Pardubicka is held near the city of Pardubice in the Czech Republic on the second Sunday in October.

For a long flat race, consider the Newmarket Town Plate at 3 mile 6f, which will be run on 23 August this year. It is considered the oldest race run under Rules, having been first run in 1664 or 5, founded by Charles II. In accordance with His Majesty's preference, the race was originally for owner/riders; today one can have someone else ride their horse, but it must be non-professional rider.

The race is run on the 4-mile Round Course at Newmarket, which is used only for that one day of the year. The Round course begins in the National Stud, behind the July course, makes a big loop to join the extension of both the Rowley and July course that allows longer races, then follows the Rowley course (the one closer to town). You can see the path it takes on a satellite maps of the Newmarket racecourses.

08 Apr 2014 10:49 AM
Rusty Weisner

Pedigree Ann,

If I may ask, what is this interesting connection you have to Eastern/Central Europe?  You mentioned being in Warsaw and Vilnius recently.

08 Apr 2014 3:21 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman I saw that on DRF or HRN about Sadler being ofer 31 or something like that.I just checked on HRN I went back to 2012 and any stakes races outside of Cali the best finish I saw was 3rd.

I know what this implies to me, but Ill keep it to myself because this is just a theory without proof.

08 Apr 2014 4:26 PM
-Keelerman

Thanks, Pedigree Ann! I'll be marking August 23rd on my calendar of major races. I had never heard of Newmarket's Round Course, but it sounds like a very special and unique course! I imagine that in a race like the Newmarket Town Plate, at three miles and six furlongs in distance, the strategy of establishing the perfect pace for each horse becomes particularly important. How many starters does the race typically attract?

08 Apr 2014 6:47 PM
-Keelerman

Looking over the entries for Friday's card at Oaklawn, it looks like there are a couple of intriguing races being run in addition to the Apple Blossom. One is the six-furlong Bachelor Stakes for three-year-olds, which has attracted Bob Baffert's promising allowance winner Pimpernel. Gary Stevens has the mount on the son of Elusive Quality, who will break from post eight in an eleven-horse field.

The other race of interest is an 8.5-furlong allowance optional claiming race that has attracted a very deep field of older horses, including graded stakes winners Called to Serve, Sabercat, and Guilt Trip, as well as the multiple graded stakes-placed colt Frac Daddy.

At Keeneland, the highlight on Friday is without question the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (gr. I), in which Wise Dan will make his seven-year-old debut, but there a number of other races that I'll be interested to see. In particular, there is the fifth race, in which Juddmonte Farm's talented filly Riposte takes on eleven rivals in a nine-furlong turf allowance race; the sixth race, an 8.5-furlong main-track maiden special weight in which Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) third-place finisher Colonel Joan will attempt to secure her first victory; and the eighth race, where Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf also-ran Granny Mc's Kitten makes her seasonal debut against eleven rivals in an 8.5-furlong main-track allowance race. It looks like a great card!

08 Apr 2014 10:09 PM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

Any idea whether Wise Dan is planning on running Derby Day?  He really ruined my horizontal wagers last year.  

09 Apr 2014 10:46 AM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

Last I heard, Wise Dan will indeed defend his title in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes. There's an outside chance that he could face a couple of European invaders in that race -- 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) winner Flotilla and 2012 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (gr. II) winner Grandeur are among the nominees.

09 Apr 2014 12:07 PM
-Keelerman

The post positions for the Blue Grass Stakes have been drawn! Here they are:

1 Asserting Bear

2 Extrasexyhippzster

3 Pablo Del Monte

4 Harry's Holiday

5 Bobby's Kitten

6 Coltimus Prime

7 Casiguapo

8 Dance With Fate

9 Big Bazinga

10 So Lonesome

11 Coastline

12 Vinceremos

13 Medal Count

14 Gala Award

15 (also-eligible) Divine Oath

It's interesting to see Medal Count wheel back so quickly after winning Keeneland's Transylvania Stakes on April 4th. This looks like a great race!

09 Apr 2014 12:15 PM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

Maybe a great race, but woeful to think that three of them could realistically qualify (and theoretically four could) for the Derby.  Points leaders, with 20 each, are Harry's Holiday -- who showed on synthetic and started his career with a win on dirt at CD...in a maiden claimer -- and Vinceremos, a TB second or third stringer.  Coastline could get in the Derby with a third or fourth.  The rest are not dirt horses, or not even very good non-dirt horses.  

09 Apr 2014 1:54 PM
-Keelerman

It has been reported by DRF.com that Albano, runner-up in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), will pass on the Kentucky Derby: www.drf.com/.../kentucky-derby-albano-withdrawn-consideration

Following Albano's defection, Commanding Curve is now sitting in the twentieth position on the Kentucky Derby points list, just ahead of Social Inclusion and Ride On Curlin. I'll be keeping an eye on the status of Ring Weekend, who is not definite for the Derby following his distant second-place finish in the Calder Derby last Saturday.

09 Apr 2014 4:45 PM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

I'm looking forward to seeing how Bobby's Kitten fares in the Blue Grass Stakes. If he succeeds in rating off the lead and rallying for victory, I'm going to give him serious consideration as a win contender for the Kentucky Derby. I think he may be one of the most talented colts in this crop, even if he does end up as primarily a grass horse.

I'm curious what you think of Pablo Del Monte's chances. He is unbeaten and unchallenged in two sprint victories over the Keeneland Polytrack, but 0-for-3 since then on dirt and turf. Will a return to Keeneland bring about a much-improved effort?

09 Apr 2014 4:54 PM
-Keelerman

The post positions have been drawn for the Arkansas Derby! It looks as though the race could be very interesting from a tactical perspective, since Bayern and Strong Mandate -- two speedy colts in need of Kentucky Derby qualification points -- have drawn the two far outside post positions.

Here are the entries:

1 Danza

2 Knock Em Flat

3 Tapiture

4 Ride On Curlin

5 Thundergram

6 Commissioner

7 Conquest Titan

8 Bayern

9 Strong Mandate

09 Apr 2014 5:31 PM
Pedigree Ann

Rusty - my husband is an astrophysicist. Some 35 years ago, as a post-doc, he started developing a computer program for teasing out the composition of interstellar clouds from the spectral lines and other observations. Involves a lot of physics. Turns out it had a lot of other applications in astronomy and has become an industry standard program. So as the program evolves, he is invited to astronomy centers to give short courses on how to use it and where he meets foreign astronomers with whom he has interests in common, so they end up collaborating on papers which they present at meetings, which leads to more invitations...., In Warsaw, we spent a week at the Nicolas Copernicus Center.

I have gone with him to England several times, Chile, China, Israel, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, and the Canary Islands (I think that's all - Hawaii, California and Canada don't count as foreign) in the 30 years we have been married.

Our sabbatical 7 years ago was spent at Cambridge (the English one), just down the road (20 miles) from Newmarket. One interesting thing about that is that I recognized the names of some of the older chasers from when we were there before. (I was a Denman fan, not one of Kauto Star.)Starting in mid-May, we will be at Queen's College Belfast, for the current sabbatical. Not so close to a major racing area, but Ireland is a pretty small island compared to Britain; The Curragh is about a 3-hour drive away.

09 Apr 2014 9:38 PM
Ranagulzion

Keelerman: So far this season there hasn't been any major upset in the Derby prep races. I suspect we'll have one in the Blue Grass on Saturday ...watchout for the grandson of Lemon Drop Kid ...he'll be flying at the finish like Java War did last year.

Bobby's Kitten, Gala Award and Medal Count are the class horses on paper but I think that they are vulnerable on the Keenland surface.

09 Apr 2014 10:16 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman have you found the stat on Sadler and his graded stakes shippers outside Cali.

Ring Weekend shouldnt run from a competetive standpoint but from the owners view,I dunno never owned horses.You should know their are throwouts every year some years more than others if you can eliminate a quarter of the field 5 you are a lot closer to having a winning bet.I dont have a goal of eliminating five but you cant bet on every one of them at least not on the day of the race so you do need to do some elimination.

10 Apr 2014 8:31 AM
Rusty Weisner

Fetch, Keelerman!  Go, boy!

10 Apr 2014 10:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

Beats me about Pablo Del Monte.  Is there a Green Giant or a Birdseye?

It's interesting about Albano and speaks well of his trainer, who also kept the outmatched Mark Valeski out of the Derby a couple years back.

10 Apr 2014 11:02 AM
Rusty Weisner

Pedigree Ann,

You're husband may be an astrophysicist, but I bet he can't handicap horses ;-)

10 Apr 2014 11:03 AM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

I'm still working on compiling the statistic, but I just finished going through the year 2011, and here's what I found: John Sadler had a starter in four grade I races outside of California that year, and while he didn't pick up a victory, three of his starters did finish in the trifecta. Here are the names of his starters, along with the race they contested and their finishing position:

Switch - 2nd Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

Runflatout - 7th King's Bishop Stakes

Zazu - 3rd Kentucky Oaks

Switch - 2nd Apple Blossom Handicap

I also took a brief look at the year 2010, and saw that John Sadler won two grade I races outside of California with Line of David (Arkansas Derby) and Mona de Momma (Humana Distaff.) I'll keep researching and see what else I can find!

10 Apr 2014 12:20 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman per equibase graded stakes wins I believe ALL of these are in Cali check it over

Year Race Horse

2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (Gr. 2) Candy Boy

2014 San Vicente Stakes (Gr. 2) Kobe's Back

2014 San Marcos Stakes (Gr. 2) Vagabond Shoes (IRE)

2014 Santa Maria Stakes (Gr. 2) Iotapa

2013 Del Mar Derby (Gr. 2) Ethnic Dance

2013 San Diego Handicap (Gr. 2) Kettle Corn

2013 Del Mar Handicap (Gr. 2) Vagabond Shoes (IRE)

2013 La Canada Stakes (Gr. 2) More Chocolate

2013 Santa Barbara Handicap (Gr. 2) Lady of Shamrock

2013 San Francisco Mile Stakes (Gr. 3) Tigah (GB)

2012 American Oaks Stakes (Gr. 1) Lady of Shamrock

2012 Del Mar Oaks (Gr. 1) Lady of Shamrock

2012 Santa Monica Stakes (Gr. 1) Home Sweet Aspen

2012 A Gleam Handicap (Gr. 2) Switch

2012 Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (Gr. 3) Scherer Magic

2012 Providencia Stakes (Gr. 3) Lady of Shamrock

2011 Las Virgenes Stakes (Gr. 1) Zazu

2011 Lady's Secret Stakes (Gr. 1) Zazu

2011 Santa Monica Stakes (Gr. 1) Switch

2011 John C. Mabee Stakes (Gr. 2) Cozi Rosie

2011 Del Mar Handicap (Gr. 2) Celtic New Year

2011 Strub Stakes (Gr. 2) Twirling Candy

2011 Hollywood Oaks (Gr. 2) Zazu

2011 Californian Stakes (Gr. 2) Twirling Candy

2011 San Antonio Stakes (Gr. 2) Gladding

2011 Buena Vista Handicap (Gr. 2) Cozi Rosie

2011 Generous Stakes (Gr. 3) Stoney Fleece

2011 Native Diver Handicap (Gr. 3)

10 Apr 2014 4:17 PM
Brontexx

Last graded stakes win outside of Cali was in 2010 I remember this one well he helped Super Saver get a tightener by providing a miler/sprinters pace in the Arkansas Derby of 2010 that set Super Saver up in the 2010 KD to run the same trip basically with more horses that he had to pass to win he was 6th instead of 2nd.He got first jump on Ice Box and it was over.

2010 Arkansas Derby (Gr. 1) Line of David

10 Apr 2014 4:26 PM
Brontexx

Unfortunately the 2010 Kentucky Derby where he finished 18th was Line of Davids last start.Super Saver ran several more times but never came close to winning again.

10 Apr 2014 4:43 PM
Brontexx

I counted 28 graded stakes wins for Sadler since his last graded win outside Cali in the 2010 Arkansas Derby.So he is ofer 28 since 2010,and I am on the fence if Candy Boy is a toss for me.Candy Ride his sire won the Pacific Classic at 10 furlongs as a 4yo but it was a 4 horse field if you wanna call it that.

10 Apr 2014 4:49 PM
Pedigree Ann

Rusty - The hubby is very focused on his work, which is why he is so good at it. He finds my interest in horses, generally, and racehorses, in particular. amusing. Back when we were kidless, he would bring a folding chair and scientific papers to read when he went to the steeplechases or the 3-Day here in Lexington with me.

11 Apr 2014 11:44 AM
-Keelerman

Brontexx;

That's a very interesting statistic! You're right -- all twenty-eight of those graded stakes wins came in California. I'm really surprised that John Sadler hasn't won a graded stakes race outside of California since 2010, but then again, I guess he doesn't try it all that often either. Thanks for sharing that list!

11 Apr 2014 12:23 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman would you keep leaving your own state if you win so much at home or would you continue to ship your graded stakes horses away from home to win minor awards.

There is something that is part of Sadlers routine that he cant seem to do when away from California.

BTW he ships a lot more than Art Sherman does Im sure you know who he trains.

11 Apr 2014 10:41 PM

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