Upset And Cheers In Horse Racing…

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AwesomeAgainStks13

It was an exciting weekend of horse racing filled with upset and cheers.  From Santa Anita to Belmont Park the thrill and excitement filled the air with surprises stretching from the West to the East Coast!

Fall has finally arrived, and we are only 32 days away from this year’s Breeder’s Cup races that will be held at Santa Anita Race Track.

The best is yet to come, as we start the count down!

Over the weekend, there were a few upsets, but the two that stood out in my book was the Beldame Invitational- G1 and the Jockey Gold Cup Invitational- G1.

(Upset):  A new queen was crowned in the 75th running of the Beldame Invitational – G1

Winner – Princess Sylmar

Princess Sylmar ran down one of the best older female horses around. Royal Delta stumbled out of the gate, but quickly gathered her composure.

3 year old filly Princess of Sylmar tracked Royal Delta as she targeted her around the stretch. As Tom Durkin said, “It took a champion to defeat a champion”:

Talented filly beating one of the best older female; Royal Delta:

Courtesy of: TubeYou by Partymanners2

(Upset):  95th running of the Jockey Gold Cup Invitational- G1

Winner: Ron the Greek

I’m still baffled by this race as I’m not sure what happened, but again we all know horse racing is full of surprises! — I’m sure I was not the only one scratching my head trying to figure out just what happened with this race. This was a solid field with the Kentucky Derby winner- Orb, Belmont Stakes winner- Palace Malice, Travers winner- Alpha, Whitney Invitational winner- Cross Traffic and Multi Graded stakes winner Flat Out.  My picks were the best of the best: Flat Out, Palace Malice and Cross Traffic. To understand what happened I have to break down how the race unfolded.

Cross Traffic was the expected speed in the race. Strangely, he walked out of the gate, running sluggishly and was unexpectedly dead last. Alpha ran straight to the front similar to his Travers race, and set the pace with Palace Malice right behind him. I was very surprised to see 6-year old Ron the Greek more forwardly placed than usual as Jose Lezcano sat him at the rail in third behind Alpha and Palace Malice. When he finally made his move, he quickly took off from the rail and pulled away from this all-star cast for a huge upset victory with odds of 21-1.  He skimmed the rail and cleared the field like a bullet train!

Unfortunately, the lost meant there was no 3-Peat for 7-year old Flat Out, trained by Bill Mott. He loves Belmont Park (also known as the Big Sandy), winning 5 out of 6 times at this track. Flat Out was seeking his third consecutive win for the $1million Jockey Gold Cup; a feat that only the mighty gelding Kelso accomplished back in 1962. What is even more impressive is Kelso has been the only horse to win this race 5 consecutive times (1960-1964). Since 1919, a total of 10 horses have won this 1 ¼ race ‘twice’.

Interesting addition:  Also trained by Bill Mott, Ron the Greek is Flat Out’s uncoupled stablemate. Bill Mott also won the Jockey Gold Cup Invitational back in 1995 with Cigar.

Bill Mott (Courtesy of Bloodhorse.com):

“You gotta love Ron. Everybody loves Ron the Greek! This is the Ron the Greek today,” Mott said. “This is the same type of race he ran in the Sunshine Millions, the same type of race he ran in California when he won the Santa Anita Handicap. Every once in a while, he’ll throw one of these. I can’t determine when, but he did it today.”

Watch Ron the Greek’s impressive win:

(Courtesy of: YouTube by Partymanners2)

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Win And You’re In; Not Your Average Race Horse…

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BreedersCup

I’m a fan that gets excited about the sport of horse racing and all the great horses through time. Names that been repeated dozens of times throughout the years bringing fond memories to each racing fan.

To the average person who knows nothing about horse racing all racehorses tend to look the same. Some are brown; some are gray and some are even black. Their colors are brilliant, and without a saddle cloth you can’t tell one from the next, but look closer because each of these horses has a name; a name that has been engraved in time. Their names have become a part of racing history, and every racing fan will remember their favorite horse.

By far; not your average racehorse…

This summer, the Breeders Cup Challenge races get under way and the “Win and You’re in” races have begun. There are 67 qualifying races spanning 10 countries. Each of the 14 Breeders Cup divisions have challenge races. Every connection in horse racing is hoping to get an invitation to one of the greatest racing weekend of the year… the Breeder’s Cup World Championships held once again, at Santa Anita Park, on November 1st and 2nd.

The best is yet to come.

I can faintly hear the cheers and excitement brewing for this special weekend. To be a part of Breeders Cup weekend is a thrill in itself. You will be captivated by the energy that surrounds you, and watching these beautiful creatures run with speed and finesse is amazing! In a mere seconds your eyes will capture the wonderment of a 1,200 lbs race horse running by you like a freight train, and you will be able to sense the beauty, power and determination of these beautiful creatures.

There is awesome information on the Breeder’s Cup website, click HERE . “The Hall of Champions” honors each and every Breeders’ Cup champion dating back to the very first winner in 1984, Wild Again. It provides you with a picture, detailed information and the actual race replay! From triumphed comebacks to thrilling photo finishes, we can all go back in time to once again experience the thrill of victory!

I’m sure many of you will remember some of these spectacular horses!

Who is your favorite Breeders Cup Classic winner?

Seeking the LAST Pot of Gold: Hollywood Gold Cup

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The last pot of gold will be up for grabs tomorrow at Betfair Hollywood Park best known as, “The Track of Lakes and Flowers”. There is much to be sentimental about since this will be the last stirring of the pot. The 75-year-old track is scheduled to be closing down once the autumn season ends and racing will no longer continue.

With hardly any pace in the race, and a short field of just 5; Game On Dude is seeking a repeat victory. Although anything can surely happen in horse racing, its anticipated that Game On Dude under hall of fame jockey Mike Smith should dictate the pace from the early start, coast to the lead and go gate to wire.  We’ll be able to see just how great he is since his last race was two and half months ago, and he will be carrying a career high of 127.  Going a distance of a mile and a quarter, there can always be surprises when the “real” running begins. He will be tough to beat, but there may be a couple of players that could get in the way of his re-peat victory. The only horse I see pushing Game On Dude early in the race is uncoupled barnmate Sky Kingdom, which is Bob Baffert’s “other” horse. He does have the pedigree to go a mile and a quarter, and did show flash speed in his last two races, but his speed figures may not match up to Game On Dude. On a positive note, he did win a marathon 2 races back, and you can cross out his last race when he bombed going on turf for the first time. He’s had a nice bullet work on 6/30 and has had some other great workouts. With a ML of 8-1, he could be a major upset. Clubhouse Ride has been beaten by Game On Dude 3 straight times, coming in second, but he does get an 8 pound break. He’s speed rating has progressed from his last race, and he’s third off the lay-off.  I’d consider him a legitimate upset.

Here are several fun facts to share about the Hollywood Gold Cup:

  • The very first Gold Cup was held on July 16, 1938 when the great Seabiscuit, under jockey George Woolf won the race going away. This was his one and only appearance at *Hollywood Park

Let me take you back to 1938, when Seabiscuit helps put *Hollywood Race Track on the map. Please  CLICK HERE  to see the great Seabiscuit win, going away!  Courtesy: YouTube Video – cf1970

  • 1942 and 1943, there were no races at *Hollywood Park. The race track was closed and used as an airplane parts storage depot during WWII
  • In 1949, The Hollywood meet was hosted at Santa Anita Race Track due to a fire that destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse a few weeks before the opening of the meet. That year, a horse named Solidarity won the Gold Cup
  • In 1951, in the final race of his career the great Citation won the Gold Cup
  • Affirmed, the last colt to win the Triple Crown, won the 1979 Gold Cup. Later that year he went off to win Santa Anita Handicap
  • Lava Man has won 3 consecutive Gold Cups (2005, 2006, 2007), who followed in the footsteps of Native Diver (1965, 1966, 1967). Watch Lava Man’s amazing win in the 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup. He is going to open up and run away, winning by about 9 lengths!

Courtesy of YouTube: cf1970

  • A colt named Quack set the track and world record on dirt for 1 1/4 miles in the 1972 Gold Cup with a time of: 1:58.20. In 2009 Gold Cup, Rail Trip set the record on a synthetic track, finishing in 2:00.75
  • The smallest Gold Cup field in history was only 4 horses in 1999.  Real Quiet, also called “The Fish” clinched the Gold Cup victory that year
  • In 2012, Chantel Sutherland aboard Game on Dude was the first female to win the Gold Cup
  • The infamous Lava Man, now 12 years old is still active on the track as a stable pony for Doug O’Neill’s barn, and will be leading the post parade for this year’s Gold Cup. Lava Man was a grade I winner on three surfaces (dirt, synthetic, grass) at *Hollywood Park

*In the Spring/Summer meet of 2012, the track once known as Hollywood Race track opened up under the new name Betfair Hollywood Park

Instructional Video: How to Skim the Hedge in Horse Racing…

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Wise Dan gave us a thrilling ride as he managed to overcome a troubled trip yesterday in the 23rd Firecracker Handicap (gr.2) at Churchill Downs on the turf.  With a yielding track, and pouring rain the horse and jockey displayed pure finesse. Weather was not in their favor, but the reigning “Horse of the Year” proved to us how fearless he really is.

Wise Dan held his position along the inside of the track, as he sat patiently in 3rd/4th.  You could see JR Velazquez holding this mighty horse back with the strategy to obviously keep him on the inside as he dabbed on the breaks. Coming into the final furlong, Wise Dan was still pinned on the inside amongst the other contenders, and rather than finding a way out of the clustered mess; JR Velazquez maneuvered Wise Dan so tightly upon the hedge there was no room for error.

“I was in the right spot the whole way and he was going well the whole way,” the Hall of Fame rider said. “I didn’t want to make a premature move. I decided to wait. I had to work my way out. If you watch the head-on, he brushes up against the bushes and he even jumped right at the eighth pole. By the sixteenth-pole, though, he got through. He’s just a very good horse. I know he can handle it when things get tight. He’s big enough to push his way through. I’ve ridden him that way before and I wasn’t worried about it.”  Courtesy of :  Bloodhorse.com

As fast as he was moving and trying to seize whatever opportunity he could find, there were a couple of moments when he did have to steady while trying to overcome traffic. He battled like a warrior with only  inches away from the hedge and the pacesetter Seruni. As he overcame traffic problems running on the inside, he finally got a gap to easily win by 2 lengths. Late-running Lea managed to come in 2nd beating pacesetter Seruni, by a neck. Wise Dan managed to run his foes down while carrying 11-13 pounds more than his fellow contenders.

He is the first horse to ever win two Firecracker Handicaps, and has now won eight of nine turf races in his career and is 3-for-3 over Churchill’s turf.

If you haven’t seen the race, you have to check it out!

 

Courtesy of: Youtube

12=7+5…It Adds Up…

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With the Belmont Stakes now behind us, the dust has finally settled and we can now reflect on the final leg of the Triple Crown trail.  What a journey it has been for this year’s crop of talented 3-year olds!  On picking winners, we can either give ourselves a tap on the back for some great handicapping efforts, or knock ourselves across our heads for overlooking imperative information and picking incorrect winners.

Now who would have thought the results of the Belmont Stakes (1st- Palace Malice #12, 2nd- Oxbow #7, 3rd- Orb #5) could be compared to a Mathematical equation, but the number 12 is indeed the sum of 7+5. How simple does that sound? If picking a winner was that easy; we’d all be rolling to the bank!  I never really like numbers, in fact I hated Math in high school, but when I started to understand how the relationship of numbers within a horse race could actually help me with my handicapping, I actually appreciated all the numerical information I could I could get my hands on! I realized how important it was to keep things simple, and just understand each race and how the numbers within the race could help me to narrow-down my choices.  Nothing comes easy when you are trying to pick a winner and things can get even more complicated once different variables are added to the mix. Yes in horse racing anything can happen, but having the right information gives you a calculated edge on who to keep within a race, as well as who to toss-out. This may probably be the longest distance any of these 3-year olds will ever run. A grueling mile and a half, no wonder it’s known as “The Test of the Campion”.  Palace Malice who had set the second fastest initial quarter and half mile fractions in the Kentucky Derby’s history was by-far the best horse on Belmont Stakes day. He drew clear in the last quarter mile to win by three and a quarter lengths from Oxbow, with Orb in third. With such wide sweeping turns at Belmont Park, how difficult was this race to figure out?  Well, you could have eliminated half the field by understanding just how invaluable these factors were:

1.  Tomlinson Figures – The late Art Kaufman aka Lee Tomlinson developed the Tomlinson pedigree ratings as a handicapping tool. It became a part of the DRF in 2001, and can be easily found in your DRF forms. It’s located in the far top right of each horse’s career information box under WET, TURF, DISTANCE. It is a 3 digit rating purported to gauge a sire’s ability to pass turf, wet-track, sprinting, and staying ability to its offsprings. A look at the rating might give you a clue to which horse has the pedigree to get the distance

  • A DISTANCE rating range from 0-480 with a rating of 320 to be considered average. Each horse has a rating and is revised quarterly. Ratings are keyed to the distance of the specific race. The higher the rating the better chances a horse should run particularly well over that distance
  • For an off-track, a MUD rating of 320+ merits further consideration as a horse who could run particularly well over a wet track

Within the Belmont field the following horses had the highest Tomlinson Distance Rating:

**Midnight Taboo – 309

Palace Malice – 310

Overanalyze – 311

Incognito – 316

Oxbow – 330

2.  A favorable Dosage Index figure of 3.00 or less. The Dosage Index is a number that comes from the ratio of speed to stamina in a horse’s pedigree. The higher the number the more speed in the pedigree — while a lower number indicates that a horse should have more stamina. Anything above a number of 4.00 is supposed to indicate that a horse will have trouble at longer distances. It’s a useful tool to  quantify a horse’s ability, or inability, to negotiate the various distances at which horse races are run. It is calculated based on an analysis of the horse’s pedigree.

  • In the last 10 years horses that won the Belmont had a Dosage Index of 3.00 or less (In 2003, Empire Maker had a DI of 3.16)
  • In the last 25 years there have been three horses with Dosage Index above 4.00. Sarava in 2002, Commendable in 2000, and Touch of Gold in 1997
  • A Center of Distribution of .67 and higher. The CD value indicates the “Balancing Point” of the horse’s pedigree profile, with positive values toward speed. A CD of 0.0 means that he horse has an even number of speed points as he does stamina. A CD of  -0.5 means he has slightly more stamina points, and a CD of 1.5 for example, shows a large favor in the speed side of the profile.
  • In the last 10 years, there has been only one horse that had a CD lower than +0.67. Drosselmeyer in 2010 with a CD of +0.55

Again, only half the field in this year’s Belmont had a Dosage Index of 3.00 or lower, and a Center of Distribution close to +0.67 or higher:

*Unlimited Budget – DI 3.00/CD +0.92

Incognito – DI 3.00/CD +0.64

**Midnight Taboo – DI 3.00/ CD +0.75

Overanalyze – DI 3.00/CD +0.92

Oxbow – DI 2.50/CD +0.86

Palace Malice – DI 2.64/ CD +0.65

Golden Soul – DI 1.92/CD +0.61

Vyjack – DI180/CD.71

Giant Finish -DI159/CD.41

When combining all 3 figures for Tomlinson Ratings, Dosage Index and Center of Distribution there were only 2 horses that had very close numbers, and that would be Palace Malice and Oxbow. Orb’s Tomlinson Distance is 296, DI 3.21, and CD +0.86.

3.  In this final and most demanding leg of the Triple Crown Favorites Rarely Win. In fact, the last favorite to win the Belmont was in 2005 with Afleet Alex. Beware of the betting public, they can steer you in the wrong direction!

  • ***Understanding that most Belmont Stakes winners are Presser or Off the Pace types that sit 1-4 lengths off the lead in the early stages of the race
  • ***The only “deep” closer that managed to win in the last 13 years was Jazil and he sat about 8 lengths off the lead early on
  • ***Going back 10 years, there has been only 1 “wire-to-wire” type horse to win the Belmont. Da’Tara in 2008 at odds of 38/1

So it’s been proven once again that statistics, and numbers do matter when handicapping a race like the Belmont Stakes.  Being able to understand important factors within this race can help you choose the right contenders. There are also other factors to consider like the weather, but the use of the Tomlinson Figures will assist in helping you pick out the horses whose pedigree will favor a wet track. You can incorporate your other handicapping strategies along with these important factors to solidify your final picks.

Before we close the doors on this year’s journey for the Triple Crown, I must address the only three horses that ran in all three legs of the races – Oxbow, Orb and Will Take Charge. There were memorable moments of glory; as well as the sadness of defeat, but despite the various outcomes to all three races Orb, Oxbow and Will Take Charge deserve much respect for their commendable efforts.  Orb went off to win the Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track with the second fastest quarter and half-mile fractions set in Derby history. Two weeks later we patiently waited with anticipation for a Triple Crown candidate, but our hopes were shattered when out of nowhere Oxbow was guilty of stealing the 2nd jewel of the crown. He won going wire to wire, in what was the slowest fractions set in Preakness Stake’s history. Orb was sadly defeated, but managed to come in 3rd in both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont. Three weeks later, a fresh horse emerged as suicidal fractions were set in the Belmont Stakes. Palace Malice won by 3 1/4 lengths over Oxbow, with Orb beaten five lengths, Incognito six lengths and Revolutionary 6 1/2 lengths. What can I say about Will Take Charge?  He had a disastrous trip in the Kentucky Derby when he ran into tiring Verrazano, and he never really had a chance to regain momentum and managed to come in 8th out of 19 horses. Although it seems “bad derby luck” could have been his excuse in the Derby, Will Take Charge was never a major factor in the remaining legs of the Triple Crown.

So as the quest for the Triple Crown ends, a few of these talented three year olds will eventually find their places in racing history. Some will move on and become remarkable turf horses, others will become unbelievable sprinters and maybe one of these horses may even go off to win the Breeders Cup Classic. What the future holds for each of these amazing three year olds will be a new journey with unlimited possibilities. Soon a new Spring will arrive, and a new cast of super-stars will create new excitement and the quest for the Triple Crown will start all over again.

It takes a lot out of a horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown so it’s no big surprise that it’s been 35 years since our last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed nipped Alydar by a head to claim his stake in horse racing history.

The 2014 Belmont Stakes will be run on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

*Filly

**In the last 75 years, no horse who ran 3 races or less has won the Belmont Stakes

***Courtesy of Super Screener, Belmont Stakes