Friday, June 5, 2015

Belmont Day for HELLO RACE FANS!


We head into Belmont Day with another chance at a Triple Crown and, if you believe all the racing scribes, the best chance in nearly four decades to get one.  While I do think AP is the best horse in the race, he certainly isn’t the best value.  I think you either take a stand against him or you pass the race and root for history.

For Hello Race Fans, the best new racing fan education site on the web, a group of us made some picks for the Grade I races on the card so I’m going to go into a little detail here on my selections.

OGDEN PHIPPS

UNTAPABLE the unbeatable, right?  Well, nearly, but not entirely.  She’s been off since her easy victory in the Apple Blossom and has been training nice and regularly.  She’ll be zero value on the board and an improving WEDDING TOAST could be the one to go get her if she keeps on improving.

WEDDING TOAST

ACORN

I got beat by the undefeated PROMISE ME SILVER in the Eight Belles on Derby weekend and it’s hard to not be impressed by SHOOK Ups runner up finish in the Oaks and Curalina’s cruising victory in a Churchill $75,000 optional, but I’m loving CONDO COMMANDO cutting back from a route to a mile.  Her speed may very well be the key and I think that she can cut back better than PROMISE ME SILVER can stretch out.

CONDO COMMANDO

JUST A GAME

This is a nice betting race and I could make a case for several in here.  I went back and forth between BALL DANCING and COFFEE CLIQUE and decided to go with COFFEE CLIQUE.  Should the other win I wouldn’t be surprised.

COFFEE CLIQUE

METROPOLITAN

Easily the best race of the day, all due respect to the Triple Crown try.  In a race where you have TONALIST, WICKED STRONG, BAYERN, PANTS ON FIRE, HONOR CODE and KOBE’S BACK – most of the best older horses in training – you really can’t do better.  I’m not a big BAYERN fan and he was a disaster in his odds on seasonal debut but he’s been training well and if his occasional clunker was out of the way in the Churchill Downs, he could bounce back nicely.  He likes the front and he has speed on his inside and that could make things tough on him on the front end.  If TONALIST doesn’t bounce after his sparkling debut, he should get the right trip behind the early pace.

TONALIST

MANHATTAN

Some really nice turf routers in here for this one and one former Derby trailer trying grass for the first time.  GENERAL A ROD doesn’t appear to have a turf pedigree and appears to have a tough trip laid out for him in his turf debut.  To the inside you have TWILIGHT ECLIPSE, the West Pointer that broke through with his first Grade 1 victory last out in the Man O War, and the tough and steady FINNEGAN’S WAKE.  The steadiest of all in here is BIG BLUE KITTEN.  The Ramsey homebred knows how to win and is always in with a chance.  His seasonal debut was stellar in taking the Ft Marcy and he should be flying at the end…if he can get there in time.

BIG BLUE KITTEN

BELMONT

Unless you want to toss the favorite and look for a boxcar payoff, this is not a particularly good betting race.  By all indications and measures, AMERICAN PHAROAH is coming into the race perfectly.  He’s the best horse in a small field and if he can navigate the distance, we should have a Triple Crown winner.  In my opinion, this is a watch but don’t wager race since I’m not willing to toss the fave.  I don’t know if any of the real long shots tend to figure at all and, if you’re tempted to try and beat him, the best options appear to be FROSTED, MUBTAAHIJ and MATERIALITY.

AMERICAN PHAROAH

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Preakness Thoughts


We head into Preakness Day like we always do - with only one horse with the ability to bring home a Triple Crown.  Some of the usual suspects come with the Derby King to take another crack at him and they join up with a few that have been waiting in the wings for Black-Eyed Susans rather than roses.

Sometimes the Derby King succeeds and goes on to New York with America in tow, waiting to see if the drought is broken and the country's thirst for a Triple Crown winner is quenched.  It hasn't been for 37 years.

Maybe this year will be different; maybe it won’t, but for any chance of it happening at all American Pharaoh has to win in Baltimore.  I’m not sure how he can fail.

Admittedly I got too cute in the Derby.  Around our house most conversations Heather and I had handicapping the Derby ended up with “maybe American Pharaoh is just the best horse?” He was and I was wrong.  I had him in the mix but in the big field, anything can happen, two-minute world of the Derby it was worth going for the price.  In Baltimore it’s all about the win.

I know it’s trendy to look at Firing Line improving or Diving Rod coming in for the Jacksons in their return to the Preakness, but with his owner and the likes of D. Wayne Lukas saying that the horse won in Louisville despite not being at his best and a field half the size he had to contend with in the Derby, I’m going with American Pharaoh, odds be damned.
(Follow this and other picks from a myriad of horse racing folks on the Preakness Day stakes at Hello Race Fans.)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mr Lexis Goes Postward in Our First Run at Arlington


Mr. Lexis, the horse we manage for CAC Racing LLC,  heads postward this afternoon versus eight foes and while he was installed as the tepid 3-1 morning line favorite, this race did not come up easy.  Here’s a look at the field:

1 MR LEXIS (BRINSON/EMIGH)

2 Five Green Stars (Block/Esquivel) – State bred allowance winner had a real tough time against open company at the Fairgrounds.  While he’s back home and dropping into claiming company, he may need to face lower.

3 Top Gato (Mason/Felix) – He ran a very professional race last out over the Oaklawn Park dirt track in his first race off the claim for the new connections. This is a pretty good step up but he has 2 wins in only 5 lifetime starts.

4 Love you Mon (Williamson/Geroux) – Emigh came off of this one to ride us but Geroux is no slouch.  He’s won a few times here at Arlington, albeit at lower levels.  He did show speed before fading 1st off the layoff and could be in line to step up a bit here.

5 Kitten’s Song (Haran/Murrilo) – Well bred colt won at this level before on this track, though over a yielding strip.  Firing first off the layoff is tough.

6 Armature (Rousell/Gudiel) – I actually like this one’s chances.  He hasn’t run too badly recently and the score at the Fairgrounds two back was nice.  Our saving grace may be that he doesn’t seem to like the Arlington track, though those races were all in maidens before he had a chance to figure things out.

7 Poker Player (Catalano/Hill) – Won the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland and ran in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf that same year.  Now he is a couple of seasons removed from that but as recently as December 27 he was still thought highly enough to run in a stake.  He didn’t fare well in a Turfway optional claimer so now he heads into straight claimers to try and get a win out of him. Either he is the class of the field or completely washed up.

8 Brim (Rodriguez/Homeister Jr.) – You can probably draw a line through that last dirt debacle – this one clearly belongs on the turf.  Last competitive race was a win at the Fairgrounds in a $15,000 conditioned claimer.

9 Badger Bay (Williamson/Perez) – This one is entered for the main track only and with the weather the next two days predicted to be sunny and dry, don’t expect to see him.

So we’re looking at a probable field of 8 and I have two concerns: a complete lack of any pace in the race and I don’t know what to make of Poker Player.

On pace, maybe Top Gato or Kitten’s Song could cut the fractions but if you look back at our boy’s races 3 and 4 back, he was mighty close to the lead.  A good break and the inside post and we could find ourselves on the lead and hope that Emigh can ration his speed.  With a field full of closers if he can crawl the fractions without frustrating the horse we could be looking good.

As for Poker Player, my guess is that he’s done. As a colt, I would think if he doesn’t win here and turn things around he may be retired.  He is a graded stakes winner from Harlan’s Holiday out of a mare by Preakness and Gotham winner Red Bullet.  He may try stud duty before they totally collapse the value on him by running in low level claiming races.  Then again this kind of company may be just what he needs but his BrisNet speed figures say that while he may belong in here, he doesn’t tower over.

Good luck everyone!!