Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick Picks for January 1, 2013

I hope all of you had a wonderful New Year's Eve! Here's to hoping this year is better than the last and that we hit a few winners along the way. Today, I have a few plays from Santa Anita and one from Aqueduct. Good luck with your bets and if you ever have a race(s) in mind that you'd like me to cover, feel free to let me know on Twitter (@chare889). 

Aqueduct Race 3 -- Affectionately Stakes: #1 Centring
Unfortunately, we won't get the best odds on this one, but perhaps this daughter of A.P. Indy would serve best as a single for those of you who are playing multi-race wagers. The class of the field, in my opinion, Centring has finished in the top three of four straight graded stakes. She's raced against the likes of Princess of Sylmar, Royal Delta, and Authenticity throughout the year and these obviously are not up to that standard. Yes, she finished second to fellow competitor Royal Lahaina at Aqueduct last time out, but she was closing furiously over the one mile contest and you have to think the extra distance benefits her.  

Santa Anita Race 2 -- Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500: #3 Safety Belt
I'll preface this by saying that I'm so glad to see Govenor Charlie back on the track and while he has trained well for this often in company with Shakin It Up, who recently won the Malibu, I'm just not willing to take such short odds on a horse who hasn't raced since May. If he runs at his best, he smokes these, but that's a lot to ask after an extended layoff. Instead, I'll side with a price in Safety Belt, who ships here from South America and has looked solid while working on the main track. This will be his first start in America, but he enters off a second place finish in at G1 in Argentina and gets Gary Stevens aboard. Like Govenor Charlie, he hasn't raced since May, but he clearly offers the better value of the two. 

Santa Anita Race 5 -- Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500: #1 American Blend
If you've followed me on Twitter for long, then you know that biggest cliff horse of 2013 was Den's Legacy. That being said, I'm not sure I'm quite in favor of the switch back to dirt when his best races have certainly been on the turf (reverse jinx?). Instead I'm going to side with American Blend, who most recently finished sixth in a lightning fast allowance race over a mile on the main track that was won by Tiz the Truth. Prior to that race, however, he had two wins and only one off the board finish in five starts at Santa Anita and with other bigger names in the field, you should be able to snag him at a price. 

Santa Anita Race 8 -- Blue Norther Stakes: #1 Famous Alice
Proctor trained daughter of top American turf sire Kitten's Joy enters here after impressively breaking her maiden in her first race, which was on the turf at Hollywood Park. She's prepped well for this and Gary Stevens retains the mount. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Year in Review: My Favorite Races of 2013

As we are nearing the end of the year, I'm reminded of so many breathtakingly wonderful racing moments we were privileged to witness this season. From the rise of superstars to the retirement of champions, we were treated to a bevy of moments that we will not soon forget. 

Below, is a review of this past year of racing, which is highlighted by my personal favorite race from each month of the year. I hope you have as much fun as I did reliving all of these fantastic runs and, as always, let me know some of your favorite races from 2013 either in the comments below or via Twitter (@chare889). 

January: Smarty Jones Stakes-- Will Take Charge
One of the many "forgotten" stakes, the Smarty Jones stakes, which has only been in existence since 2008, hadn't had a winner who went on to be a top-class horse. That was the case, until this year, when a little known horse, who prior to running only had a maiden special weight win to his name, introduced himself to the nation...or at least, to all of Arkansas.

February: Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap-- Point of Entry
It was billed as the showdown between multiple Grade 1 winner Point of Entry and 2011 Champion Three-Year-Old Colt Animal Kingdom and boy, did it live up to the hype. Coming off the far turn, it was just the two of them dueling side-by-side. Despite a game effort from the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, he was out battled by the son of Dynaformer on this occasion.

March: Dubai Sheema Classic-- St. Nicholas Abbey
In this race last year, St. Nicholas Abbey finished just a neck behind fellow European raider Cirrus Des Aigles and this year's task didn't appear to be any easier with Japanese Horse of the Year Gentildonna in the field. The son of the late Montjeu was more than up to task, however, and he pulled clear of the Japanese filly down the straight. Little did we know that would be one of the last times we would see St. Nicholas Abbey, but we hope that he continues to fight on and has a successful recovery. 

April: T J Smith Stakes-- Black Caviar
As is the case any year, a few of our favorites retire, but this month saw the end of a glittering career from one of the best we'll ever see: Black Caviar. The daughter of Bel Esprit retired with an undefeated twenty-five race career, but her final race was one of the most special of them all. It not only broke the Australian record for most Group 1 wins, but it further solidified her status in horse racing history. 

May: Qipco 1000 Guineas-- Sky Lantern
It was here that the beautiful grey filly Sky Lantern showed exactly what she is capable of when at her best, as she showed a superb turn of foot when running down her rivals to win by a half-length and hand Richard Hughes his first UK Classic win.

June: Firecracker Handicap-- Wise Dan
Few American horses' runs are more anticipated than those of 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who was riding a six-race winning streak entering this one, which was to be contested under the lights at Churchill Downs. While there didn't appear to be any threats to Wise Dan in the field on paper, this turned out to be a fantastic race in which the six-year-old son of Wiseman's Ferry showed us that even a hedge can't stop him from reaching the wire first.

July: Coral-Eclipse-- Al Kazeem
Few horses in the world had a better start to the year than Al Kazeem, who won four straight to start his 2013 campaign. This, his final of those four wins, was about as beautiful as they come, as he simply found another gear when dueling with frontrunner Mukhadram in what was a strong field that also included the likes of Declaration of War and The Fugue. 

August: Maiden Special Weight-- Honor Code
I'm not sure any race this season had more of an impact on Twitter than Honor Code's maiden victory. On a sealed sloppy track at Saratoga, the son of A.P. Indy, who's pedigree is about as blue-blooded as it gets, was sent off as the second favorite in his debut, but his backers had to have thought it was all over by the half-mile pole, where he trailed the field by over twenty-two lengths. What happened after that can't even be fully described in words. 

September: Beldame Invitational-- Princess of Sylmar
It was the Princess versus the Queen in this showdown that pitted 2012 Champion Older Mare and two-time defending Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta against the Kentucky Oaks winner and rising star Princess of Sylmar, who entered this contest having won three-straight Grade 1 races. It turned out to be a crowing moment for the Princess, who won what was her first start versus elders with relative ease. 

October: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-- Treve
After impressively winning the Prix Vermeille, three-year-old filly Treve stamped herself as one of the favorites heading into the Arc at Longchamp. Despite a wide post and a new jockey aboard, Treve remained unbeaten in five starts after demolishing what many hailed as one of the strongest Arc fields in recent memory. 

November: Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle-- Mountain Tunes
Under normal circumstances, perhaps this wouldn't be a well-regarded race, but this was not your average day at the track. When it comes to racing, we tend to say it is all about the horse and often the jockey is an afterthought, but this one was all about AP McCoy and the quest for his 4,000th National Hunt win. It was only fitting that this monumental victory came as the result of another masterful ride from the Champ. 

December: Arima Kinen-- Orfevre
After finishing second in the the Arc yet again, the Japanese hero Orfevre was pointed to the Arima Kinen for what would be the final race of his career. Although some of the usual suspects had opted not to run here, defending champion Gold Ship still loomed a large threat. Orfevre was much the best on this day, however, and he ended his racing career with style. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa Anita Picks for Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a wonderful holiday and are as excited for Santa Anita's opening day, as I am. Well, we have a fantastic card on tap, which is highlighted by two Grade I stakes: the La Brea and Malibu, both of which are for three-year olds, but the former is restricted to fillies. As a special treat, on top of my analysis, I'm pleased to include picks for the late Pick 4 from Stephen (@sw064351), who is a fantastic handicapper, particularly for those of you who follow international racing. Without further ado, on to our fancies.

Race 1-- Maiden Claiming $20,000: #7 Gold Tie Please
Best result in three career starts was a runner-up finish over a mile on the main track here. Blinkers on and Rafael Bejarano gets the mount in what will be his first start for a new barn.
*Others to consider: #2 Crusher

Race 2--Maiden Special Weight: #4 Forest Boy
Finished second in two of three starts over the main track at Santa Anita. His lone poor local start was over a mile, whereas he performed much better over six furlongs and change. Most recently finished third at Hollywood, one and one half lengths behind Battled, who was disqualified from the win. I think he'll appreciate the switch to conventional dirt more than the Baffert trained Battled, however and he's been working well recently.
*Others to consider: #5 Battled

Race 3-- Starter Allowance $40,000: #7 Amanda
Most recently destroyed maidens over one and one sixteenth miles on the all-weather track at Hollywood. She'll be making her first start on the turf, but she's shown ability on synthetic and the fact that she's sired by Smarty Jones is a plus. She has a strong series of recent works.
*Others to consider: #1 Buckingham Bull

Race 4-- Allowance Optional Claiming $40,000: #8 Five Palms
Lightly raced three-year-old son of Unbridled's Song broke his maiden in his first attempt before finishing fourth in a six and a half furlong allowance race at Hollywood. He impressively closed late, despite having to go five wide in that one though. He's worked very well over the main track at Santa Anita in preparation for this. Joel Rosario gets the mount.
*Others to consider: #9 Big Macher, #5 Wild Media

Race 5--Claiming $40,000-$35,000: #5 Trelawny
Won a $25,000-$22,500 claiming race on the Downhill Turf two-back before struggling as the favorite over the all-weather at Hollywood. A switch back to the turf should help and he's shined in works leading up to this race.
*Others to consider: #8 Carbonite, #10 Mr. Bossy Pants

Stephen's Late Pick 4 ($0.50): 4,6 / 5,9 / 4,5,7,10/ 2,5,7,8,10 --> $40 

Race 6--G2 La Brea Stakes: #7 Madame Cactus
Most recently won the G2 Lexus Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland and before that she finished second in a stakes at Del Mar, despite a slow start. Although she typically runs on synthetic, she did break her maiden by over six lengths over the main track at Santa Anita last year in a race that included the highly-regarded Fiftyshadesofhay and by all accounts, she's looked fantastic in recent works on the dirt. Sweet Lulu spots her (and everyone else in the field) five pounds. Joe Talamo gets the mount.
*Others to consider: #4 Executiveprivilege

Stephen's Choice: #6 My Happy Face -- Underrated sprinter. Will sit back and swoop, take holding out. 

Race 7--G2 Sir Beaufort Stakes: #8 No Jet Lag
One of my favorite horses in training, this three-year-old son of Johar out of a winning Green Desert mare has found success since arriving in America in June. He's raced three times since then, in which he's won two out of his three starts, including the G2 City of Hope Mile over this course and distance. The lone race in America he's lost was the Breeders' Cup Mile, in which he finished sixth. These aren't at that level, however. He's the class of this field, in my opinion, and a potential single for those of you who are playing the late Pick 3/4.
*Others to consider: None

Stephen's Choice: #9 Tom's Tribute -- Found the line strongly when winning Uniformity. Right in this. 

Race 8--G1 Malibu Stakes: #6 Demonic
Lightly-raced son of Bernardini broke his maiden in his first attempt over Tiz the Truth, who has since gone on to win three out of four starts, before an over eleven month layoff. He returned earlier this month at Hollywood, where he finished fifth despite going six-wide in an allowance race that included my top two choices for race four: Five Palms and Big Macher. Despite the fifth place finish, Demonic was only about two and a half lengths behind the winner at the end of the six and one half furlongs contest and looked to have plenty left in the tank. The anticipated early speed up front should be beneficial and if he improves in what will be his second start off the layoff, he could surprise at a price.
*Others to consider: #7 Central Banker, #2 Shakin It Up

Stephen's Choice: #10 Bakken -- Undefeated colt. Ability to rate at query but still hard to beat.

Race 9--Maiden Claiming $30,000: #3 Dream Totem
Son of Midnight Lute did not run well in his debut, but they've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at him since. This will be his first run as a gelding and he gets blinkers on, a drop in class, and a surface switch from synthetic to dirt. Martin Garcia retains the mount.
*Others to consider: #10 New Order, #5 Confisio

Stephen's Choice: #5 Confisio -- Drops a long way in grade for this and will strip fitter second-up. Warrents respect. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Horse to Watch: Pleuven

Pleuven is a two-year-old colt by Turtle Bowl, who also sired Lucayan, out of a Singspiel (1996 Eclipse Champion Grass Horse) mare. Pleuven's first four starts were in France, where he finished on a two-race win streak after backing up his maiden win with a victory in a listed stakes. In his one poor finish overseas, he still only finished two and a half lengths behind the winner, Testa Rossi, who went on to win the G3 Miss Grillo before finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

In what was his first start in America, the G3 Dania Beach Stakes, Pleuven broke slowly and was held up at the rear, spotting the field well over ten lengths at the half. Upon entering the straight, however, he began a furious run that saw him finish a good closing third.

Gulfstream Park 12/21/2013--Race 9: 

Horse to Watch: Shogun Samurai

Shogun Samurai is a two-year-old filly by the multiple graded stakes winning son of Giant's Causeway: First Samurai out of a Stakes winning Boston Harbor mare. She broke her maiden in her only start to date in impressive fashion when she lead from gate to wire in the six and one half furlongs contest at Gulfstream Park despite being mildly pressured up front by the favorite Lucky For You. Trainer Kelly Breen has clearly taken her time with this filly and it shows. She will definitely be an interesting prospect in her next start.

Gulfstream Park 12/20/2013-- Race 7:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quick Picks for Saturday, December 21, 2013

Aqueduct Race 4: #5 Great Minds
Son of Stroll out of a winning Arch mare is always in the consistent sort, as he as two runner-up finishes as well as a very strong fourth in his only three starts. To my eye, his best results have been on turf, but a second place finish in his first try on dirt combined with strong dirt works give me reason to believe he'll take to the surface here. The cutback in distance and first time getting Lasix further help his case.
*Others to Consider: #1A Goodnewsisnonews (AE)

Aqueduct Race 5: #11 Superiority
Consistent in similar races at this course and distance. He's running after only one week off, but he turned in back-to-back wins only one week apart back in April. He was only a nose and a neck away from winning over today's course and distance in his last run despite being forced five-wide.
*Others to Consider: #8 Rigby

Aqueduct Race 6: #2 Hey Kiddo
Close, but no cigar sums up this daughter of Stonesider out of a winning Silver Ghost's career thus far, as she's finished second in all three of the races she's run. She's looked better and better every time she's ran, however, and she most recently lost by only a head over today's course and distance. She had a strong work earlier this week and just the slightest of improvements could see her in the winner's circle.
*Others to Consider: #5 Pink Lipgloss, #10 Worldly Charm

Aqueduct Race 7: #4 Native Singer
Three-year-old son of Songandaprayer will try against winners for the first time after breaking his maiden in the easiest of fashion locally over seven furlongs last time out. Draw a line through his poor finish two-back in which he had a horrendous start, as he came out onto Shot Wide and was the cause of a wild start in which several horses made contact and was hampered badly, as a result.
*Others to Consider: #3 Jack's R Wild, #2 Lord of Love

Aqueduct Race 8: #6 Palace
Few horses are more consistent than this son of City Zip. He's won four out of his seven races this year including three straight, the most recent of which was the G3 Fall Highweight over the likes of Strapping Groom, The Lumber Guy, and Caixa Eletronica. A quick recent work leads me to believe that he still has plenty left in the tank this late in the season.
*Others to Consider: #4 Strapping Groom


Hollywood Park Race 3: #4 Abide in Me
This daughter of successful juvenile sire Tiz Wonderful has never finished outside of the top three in her four starts and she enters here off of back-to-back runner-up finishes behind two very good horses in Taste Like Candy and Streaming. She'll be stretching out to a mile and trying turf for the first time.
*Others to Consider: #6 Dancinginthestreet, #7 Kitten de Pere

Hollywood Park Race 10: #8 Sprouts
Winner of three-straight before finishing last after a troubled trip in the G1 Del Mar Debutante, which was much too tough of a race for her. Daughter of Square Eddie enters here off a four-month freshening, but an impressive local work last week suggests she's sitting on a big performance. I see this as being a pretty wide open race, however, so it may be wise to spread any plays you have here.
*Others to Consider: #1 Rovenna, #7 Swiss Lake Yodeler, #4 Global Hottie


Fair Grounds Race 1: #2 Youve Got a Friend
This son of My Pal Charlie has never finished worse than third in four career starts. He has yet to run this far, but a strong second over seven furlongs two back despite a troubled start is promising.
*Others to Consider: #3 Hail to the Nile, #4 Blue Forty Two

Fair Grounds Race 5: #8 Twirl
Irish daughter of Galileo out of a Storm Cat mare has been asked to go one and one eighth miles or further in all four of her races since she arrived in America. She enters this off of an extended layoff, but I for one think she will be ready here. Last year, she won over 9f in Ireland and she finished second to The Fugue over 10f at York. If she fires here, watch out.
*Others to Consider: #5 Class Included, #9 Artemus Kitten

Fair Grounds Race 6: #2 Closing Report
Undefeated in only two starts, both of which were over five furlongs on the dirt at Lone Star. Enters here off of a five month layoffs, but a series of strong local works suggest this daughter of Closing Argument is sitting on a big one.
*Others to Consider: #3 She's Offlee Good

Fair Grounds Race 7: #12 Channel Marker
A horse I've been tracking, Channel Marker enters here off of five straight top-three finishes, which includes two wins over today's distance. This is a step up for the four-year-old son of Purim, but his prowess at the distance combined with solid recent works make him appealing at what will likely be a nice price.
*Others to Consider: #5 Great Mills, #2 Sum of the Parts

Fair Grounds Race 8: #3 Prayer for Relief
There are a few horses in this field who have consistently ran against tougher this year and those are the ones I'm going to side with here. Prayer for Relief's most recently finished last in the G1 Clark Handicap where he was outclassed, but he won a G3 over the summer and he has consistently placed in G2s and G3s in his career. I expect him to rebound versus lesser company here.
*Others to Consider: #7 Ground Transport

Fair Grounds Race 9: #3 Compliance Officer
Enters here off an easy allowance optional claiming (NW2 X) over a mile on the turf at Aqueduct. His only race at Fair Grounds was over this same distance and he won it with ease. Strong recent works further suggest he's ready to fire here.
*Others to Consider: #7 Derby Kitten

Fair Grounds Race 10: #3 Albano
Impressively held the lead over today's course and distance to beat heavy favorite Speightshill to break his maiden in his second attempt. This will be his first try against winners, but the son of Istan out of a stakes winning Fortunate Prospect mare appears on paper to fit well with these.
*Others to Consider: #6 D'cajun Cat

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Video Preview of the Arima Kinen

Special thanks to Emily White (@racehorsewriter), who is extremely knowledgeable in pedigrees and international racing.

Arima Kinen Preview:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quick Picks for Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fair Grounds R4-- #3 Unknown Road (ML 3/1)
Finished a close second to Horse to Watch Coup de Grace in only start over six furlongs on the dirt at Saratoga. Coup de Grace has since boosted that form by winning an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream. By all accounts, he's been working beautifully leading up to this race. Son of Bandini out of a winning Known Fact mare is a half to Champion three-year-old filly Banshee Breeze.

Gulfstream R1-- #3 Coach Inge (ML 3/1)
Pletcher firster by Big Brown out of a Holy Bull mare. Solid works leading up to this start. Javier Castellano gets the mount.

Gulfstream R2-- #11 N. B. A. Money (ML 20/1)
First time running at Gulfstream, but enters this race off of a second place finish versus tougher (albeit on dirt). Both career wins have come at one mile on the turf, however. Definitely worth an across the board play on the distance cutback and surface switch if his odds remain double digits.

Gulfstream R3-- #3 Jasper's Posse (ML 3/1)
Canadian shipper who finally broke his maiden (14th attempt) two-back at Woodbine. He has decent enough form on the turf, drops in class, and he should relish closing into what figures to be a pretty healthy pace up front.

Gulfstream R4-- #5 House Rules (ML 8/1)
Draw a line through the most recent race for this daughter of Distorted Humor, in which she went four-wide over a sloppy track. A better trip this time out could see her having her strongest finish to date.

Horse to Watch: Deceived

Deceived is a two-year-old colt by multiple graded stakes winner Broken Vow out of a Known Fact mare. Trained by Leah Gyarmati, Deceived unfortunately had a few tough trips in his previous outings, all of which were in maiden special weights, and yet he always finished in the money.

After finishing third in his debut at Saratoga, he had two runner-up finishes at Belmont before impressively breaking his maiden in a one-mile contest over a sealed muddy track at Aqueduct. Unlike his previous outings, the Broken Vow colt was more forwardly placed in this race before taking the lead at the top of the stretch and drawing away to win by seven and a half lengths.

LATEST UPDATE (12/18/2013): Finished a far back, non-threatening third in the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct after jumping at the break. He was able to get himself into contention, but he weakened when they turned for home.

More on Deceived: 
*Watch Deceived's most recent race here:
*Equibase profile: http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=9057846&registry=T
*Pedigree: http://www.pedigreequery.com/deceived5

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Horse to Watch: Shared Belief

Shared Belief is a two-year old gelding by multiple graded stakes winner Candy Ride out of a winning Storm Cat mare. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trainee is yet to be tested in two starts on All-Weather tracks, as he romped by seven lengths in his debut at Golden Gate and backed it up with a seven and three quarter lengths victory in the G3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes at Hollywood Park.

He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 after finishing the seven furlong Hollywood Prevue in 1:22.17.

LATEST UPDATE (12/14/2013): Shared Belief impressively won his CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park by over five lengths. He stalked the pace for much of the race before being asked to go around the second turn and kicking clear of the field. In what was his first attempt at two turns, this son of Candy Ride showed a patience and maturity that is rarely seen in a horse of his age. He earned a whopping Beyer Speed Figure of 106.

Hollywood Park 12/14/2013--G1 CashCall Futurity:

Hollywood Park 11/10/2013--Race 3:

For more on Shared Belief:
*Equibase profile: http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=9064077&registry=T
*Pedigree: http://www.pedigreequery.com/shared+belief

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Horse to Watch: Coup de Grace

Coup de Grace is a two-year-old son of Tapit out of a winning Storm Cat mare. Undefeated in two starts, this Chad Brown trainee has been very impressive. In his maiden victory, he turned away a game challenger in Unknown Road, who was over twelve lengths clear of the rest of the field. He was the class of the field in his next race, a one mile Allowance Optional Claiming on the dirt at Gulfstream, where he took the lead after the first 1/4 and never looked back.

Gulfstream Park 12/15/2013--Race 6:

For more on Coup de Grace: 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Horse to Watch: Fleet of Gold

Fleet of Gold is a two-year old Medaglia d'Oro filly out of 2006 Eclipse Champion Older Mare Fleet Indian. After a tough debut in October, Fleet of Gold returned made her second start in a one mile race on the dirt at Laurel Park.

In that race, she patiently sat behind the leaders before being asked to go when entering three-wide into the stretch. She easily dispelled her foes down the stretch and cruised to a confident three-length victory.

Laurel Park 12/11/2013-Race 6:

More on Fleet of Gold:

Quick Picks for Thursday, December 12, 2013

Laurel Park Race 6: #1 Wise Minister (ML 7/2)
If you follow me on Twitter (@chare889), you probably already know that I was very impressed with Wise Minister's maiden victory last month at Laurel Park. This son of Curlin out of a Touch Gold mare made an impressive six wide move down the stretch and once he got clear running room, he easily passed his competitors.

Today's contest is seven furlongs, which is a bit concerning. Prior to breaking his maiden, his two other races were six furlongs, a distance that one could argue was a bit too short for him. Regardless, if he doesn't get too far behind early, as has happened with him in these shorter contests in the past, he should be fine.

Hollywood Park Race 7: #6 Fanticola (ML 9/2)
Fanticola caught my eye at Del Mar this summer and has rewarded me since. In five starts, this lightly-raced three-year-old daughter of Silent Name out of a winning Tabasco Cat mare has never finished outside of the top three. Her two most recent outings, a one mile turf race at Del Mar and a six and one half furlong contest on The Downhill turf course at Santa Anita both resulted in victories. She's a versatile filly, who has won from gate to wire, but can sit off the pace, if necessary.

Today, she'll be stretching out to one and one sixteenth miles on the turf and will be spotted five pounds from the highest weighted horse (#5 Fantastic Mizz). Joseph Talamo retains the mount.

Bonus Plays:

Laurel Park R1: $1 Exacta Wheel: 2,5,6/2,3,5,6 --> $9

Laurel Park R5: #6 Danees Do Be Do (ML 5/2)

Hollywood Park R5: #9 High on Final (ML 9/2)

Hollywood Park Late Pick 3 (R6,7,8): 3,4,5,7/6/6,7,10 --> $12

Monday, December 9, 2013

Horse to Watch: Stopchargingmaria

Stopchargingmaria is a two-year-old filly by graded stakes winner Tale of the Cat out of a stakes winning Montbrook mare. Owned by Repole stables and trained by Todd Pletcher, Stopchargingmaria has an incredibly consistent record. In five career races, the Tale of the Cat filly has three wins, including the G3 Tempted Stakes and G2 Demoiselle Stakes, as well as a second and third place finish, both of which came in G1s.

In her most recent victory, Stopchargingmaria showed an ability to rate off the pace before swinging wide down the stretch and getting up at the wire for the victory.

Aqueduct 11/30/2013--G2 Demoiselle Stakes:

More on Stopchargingmaria:

Pedigree Report: In Reality

Now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I thought I might take a crack at exploring some of the more well-known pedigree lines in American racing. I am by no means an expert, so I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg and you're more than welcome to add anything notable about this line in the comments below.

The first line I decided to explore was that of In Reality, who of course, was one of the top horses in his crop (along with Dr. Fager & Damascus) in what was one of the more talented crops we've ever seen. I chose to explore this line first because it is one that I use quite often while I'm handicapping races on a wet track. The In Reality-Relaunch line, in particular, is one that I specifically look for when I'm sorting through the entries for a race that's being held on a wet track. Like I said earlier, this is just a small portion of what I discovered while looking though this line, but even this shows how important In Reality has been to American horse racing.


In Reality (Intentionally-My Dear Girl, by Rough'n Tumble)

  • Career Highlights:
    • 1967: Won Fountain of Youth Stakes & Florida Derby, 2nd in Preakness Stakes
    • 1968: Won Carter Handicap & Metropolitan Handicap
  • Notable Progeny
    • Desert Vixen (o/o Desert Trial, by Moslem Chief)
      • 1973: Won Monmouth Oaks, Delaware Oaks, Alabama Stakes, & Beldame Stakes, Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Filly
      • 1974: Won Beldame Stakes & Matchmaker Stakes, Eclipse Champion Older Mare
    • Known Fact (o/o Tamerett, by Tim Tam)
      • 1980: Won Queen Elizabeth II Stakes & 2000 Guineas, English Champion Miler
    • Believe it (o/o Breakfast Bell, by Buckpasser)
      • 1978: Third in Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes, Won Wood Memorial
    • Smile (o/o Sunny Smile, by Boldnesian)
      • 1985: Won Arlington Classic, Runner-up in Breeders' Cup Sprint
      • 1986: Won Breeders' Cup Sprint Stakes, Eclipse Champion Sprinter 
  • Sire of Sires
    • Smile (o/o Sunny Smile, by Boldnesian)
      • I'll Get Along (o/o Don't Worry Bout Me): Dam of 2004 Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones
    • Believe it (o/o Breakfast Bell, by Buckpasser)
      • Really Blue (o/o Meadow Blue, by Raise a Native): Dam of 1998 Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes winner Real Quiet
    • Known Fact (o/o Tamerett, by Tim Tam)
      • Markofdistinction (o/o Ghislaine, by Icecapade)
        • 1990: Won Queen Anne Stakes & Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 
      • Warning (o/o Slightly Dangerous, by Roberto)
        • Sired G1 winners Diktat, Piccolo, Prophecy, Sumati & Give Notice
    • Valid Appeal
      • Successful Appeal (o/o Successful Dancer, by Fortunate Prospect): Sire of multiple graded stakes winner Lunarpal
      • Valid Expectations (o/o Mepache, by Iron Constitution): Texas' all-time leading sire, Sire of 2005 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Saratoga County & G2 winner The Daddy
      • Valid Wager (o/o Bid Gal, by Bold Bidder): Sired 2003 G1 King's Bishop winner Valid Video
    • Relaunch (o/o Foggy Note, by The Axe II)
      • Skywalker (o/o Bold Captive, by Boldnesian): Sire of 1993 American Champion Older Male Bertrando, Grandsire of G1 Champagne winner Officer 
      • Waquoit (o/o Grey Parlo, by Grey Dawn): Sire of G1 winner Halo America, damsire of 2006 Preakess Stakes runner-up Sweetnorthernsaint
      • Honour and Glory (o/o Fair to All, by Al Nasr): Sire of 2008 U.A.E. Derby winner Honour Devil & graded stakes winner Put It Back
      • With Anticipation (o/o Fran's Valentine, by Saros): Multiple G1 winner
      • Cee's Tizzy (o/o Tizly, by Lyphard): Sire of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner and prominent American sire Tiznow, damsire of 2013 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow, & 2012 Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter
      • Baby Zip (o/o Thirty Zip, by Tri Jet): Dam of 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper & G1 winner City Zip
      • To The Hunt (o/o Royal Advocator, by Majestic Prince): Dam of multiple G1 winners Stellar Jayne & Starrer
      • Naughty Notions (o/o Taras Charmer, by Majestic Light): Dam of 2009 Sovereign Champion two-year-old filly Negligee  
      • Constant Companion (o/o Wedding Picture, by Blushing Groom): Dam of 2008 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Forever Together
  • Notable Current Runners Who Trace Back to In Reality
    • Strong Mandate (Tiznow-Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister): Won 2013 Hopeful Stakes, third in 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile
    • In Trouble (Tizwonderful-Ballpark Butterfly, by Grand Slam): Won 2013 G2 Futurity Stakes
    • Mylute (Midnight Lute-Stage Stop, by Valid Expectations): Third in 2013 Preakness Stakes
    • My Happy Face (Tizwonderful-Summer Star, by Siberian Summer): Won 2012 G3 Tempted
    • Successful Dan (Successful Appeal-Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power): Multiple graded stakes winner
    • Midnight Lucky (Midnight Lute-Citiview, by Citidancer): Won 2013 G1 Acorn Stakes
    • Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute-Silverbulletway, by Storm Cat): Won 2013 G3 Sunland Derby
    • Palace Malice (Curlin-Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem): Won 2013 Belmont Stakes & Jim Dandy Stakes
    • Unlimited Budget (Street Sense-Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal): Multiple graded stakes winner
    • Seaneen Girl (Spring At Last-Afternoon Krystal, by Afternoon Deelites): Multiple graded stakes winner
    • Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song-Take Charge Lady, by Dehere): Won 2013 Travers Stakes & Clark Handicap, Second in Breeders' Cup Classic
  • Notable Recent Retirees Who Trace Back to In Reality
    • Oxbow (Awesome Again-Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy): Won 2013 Preakness Stakes
    • Paynter (Awesome Again-Tizzo, by Cee's Tizzy): Graded stakes winner, Second in 2012 Belmont Stakes
    • Orb (Malibu Moon-Lady Liberty, by Unbridled): Won 2013 Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, & Kentucky Derby
    • Graydar (Unbridled's Song-Sweetest Smile, by Dehere): Multiple graded stakes winner
    • Royal Delta (Empire Maker-Delta Princess, by A.P Indy): Two-time Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic winner, 2011 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, 2012 Champion Older Mare

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Horse to Watch: Coltimus Prime

Coltimus Prime is the two-year old son of two-time G1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Milwaukee Brew out of a Distorted Humor mare.

He finished seventh in his debut, but about six weeks later, he returned to the All Weather track at Woodbine, where he ran seven furlongs in 1:23.61 and finished eight lengths ahead of his competition.

LATEST UPDATE (12/8/2013): Coltimus Prime backed up his maiden victory with an impressive second in the Display Stakes at Woodbine. He seized the early lead on, but was dueled down the stretch by Jose Sea View, who had previously finished fifth in the G2 Nashua. Jose Sea View would go on to win by a neck, but Coltimus Prime fought hard in what was his first time stretching out and facing winners.

Woodbine 11/17/2013--Race 4:

Woodbine 12/8/2013--Display Stakes:

For more on Coltimus Prime:
*Equiibase Profile: http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=9156216&registry=T
*Pedigree: http://www.pedigreequery.com/coltimus+prime

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hong Kong International Races Picks and Analysis

R4--Hong Kong Vase: Mount Athos
There isn't a horse about whom I've read more positive feedback following workouts than Mount Athos. This six-year-old son of Montjeu has ran well, as of late, as he finished just a head behind Harris Tweed two-back at Goodwood over 14 furlongs and he backed up that effort with a fantastic third in the Melbourne Cup, despite having started from barrier 22. My only concern would be that this race could be too short for him, but he may very well be the horse who's getting hot at the right time.
*Others to consider: The Fugue

R5--Hong Kong Sprint: Lord Kanaloa
No surprises here, as I'm siding with Japan's star sprinter Lord Kanaloa, who by all accounts has looked fantastic while working at Sha Tin. He's the defending champion of this race and in the past year has won every race he's ran except for a G2, which he lost by a mere neck off of a three month layoff. He rebounded off of that effort by winning a G1. Looks to be the class of the field.
*Others to consider: None

R7--Hong Kong Mile: Sky Lantern
It's hard not to like Sky Lantern, who won this year's Coronation Stakes at Ascot over a mile on firm ground. She has won every race she has contested at a mile, except for her narrow loss to Elusive Kate back in July and on paper she appears to be a perfect fit for this one mile trip over fast ground. Also, don't sleep on King Kreesa, who I believe could offer some real value underneath on your plays. While I'd be surprised if he won this race, I could see him sneaking in for a minor award.
*Others to consider: King Kreesa

R8--Hong Kong Cup: Grandeur
It was nearly one year ago to the day that I first saw Grandeur in the flesh when he ran in the Hollywood Turf Cup and I've tracked him ever since. It's true that he's yet to break through in a G1, but he does appear to be a horse on the improve. He had a strong second, just 3/4 of a length behind Mukhadram in the G2 York last summer and he enters this one off of a nice win in a listed stakes at Goodwood. Ryan Moore, who rode him to his most recent victory, retains the mount. My chief concern would be that the original plan was to run him in the Breeders' Cup Turf, but he was declared a non-runner after falling ill. I have not read anything negative about his appearance on track this week, however, and I'm more than willing to take the gamble at a price.
*Others to consider: Side Glance, Endowing

Horse to Watch: Alpaca Fina

Alpaca Fina is a two-year old filly by 2008 Champion Three-Year Old Colt Big Brown out of graded stakes winner Ms Brookski.

After impressively winning her debut on the dirt at Belmont after breaking slowly, she finished third out of four runners in the Sharp Cat Stakes. In her next start, however, she dropped into a six furlong optional claimer on the dirt at Aqueduct and romped by six and one quarter lengths, solidifying her status as the heavy favorite at post time.

LATEST UPDATE (12/5/2013): Alpaca Fina backed up that win with victory in an allowance optional claiming race at Belmont, impressively closing down the stretch to get up for the win.

More on Alpaca Fina:
*Watch Alpaca Fina's most recent start:
*Equibase profile: http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=9098129&registry=T
*Pedigree: http://www.pedigreequery.com/alpaca+fina

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Confessions of a Young Female Horse Racing Fan

When I first meet someone, I almost always get the same reaction. “You love horse racing, but you’re in your twenties and….you're a woman.” While I want to respond by patting that person on the head and handing him a cookie, I restrain myself and admit that I am one of the select few women who was lucky enough to realize the sheer awesomeness that is horse racing at an early age. Typically, I still get a dazed and confused look as I attempt to explain why horses racing from gate to wire is in fact a sport and why the heck I watch it every day, because of course, as a woman I should only pay any attention to gymnastics, figure skating, or football (....but not for the actual game, just the attractive men).

But I digress. Whilst most of you reading this already know I’m passionate about this SPORT. There’s more to me and horse racing than what I post on Twitter, so I thought this was as good a time as any to get a few racing-related admissions off of my chest.

Confession #1: Yes, I LOVE the horses
Plenty of people who watch racing are emotionally invested in the sport. It’s awfully tough not to be when you track your horse from one race to another, hoping that he or she will finally make it big. I screamed at the top of my lungs and jumped around the house like a maniac when Silver Charm, the first horse who stole my heart, won the Preakness Stakes after holding off longtime rival Free House and Captain Bodgit in a scintillating duel to the wire. It was in the very next race, however, I was brought back to reality when Touch Gold gamely fought tooth and nail down the stretch at Belmont to take the third leg of the Triple Crown. Just three-quarters of a length stood between Silver Charm and immortality, and yet as tears rolled down my cheeks, I had never been more proud of “my boy.” At the tender age of seven, I had realized the meaning of unconditional love.

Confession #2:  Speaking of Crying After Races….
I’ll be the first to admit that I teared up after Zenyatta lost in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I sat at a bar surrounded by middle-aged men, most of whom had drank far too many beers by that point, and I watched her come up just short behind Blame. As my eyes welled up with tears, a man behind me immediately yelled “See, I told y’all that she ain’t good enough. Goldikova is the real star.” I was not in the proper emotional state to combat a drunken man in that moment, but I have heard similar sentiments expressed since. No disrespect to Goldikova, who was phenomenal, but why do self-proclaimed “real fans” feel the need to diss the more popular horses as overrated and proclaim any of their fans as “bandwagoners” who “don’t understand racing.” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe we have seen better fillies than Zenyatta, but there’s no doubt she was special, not only on the track, but in the hearts of the public. The fact of the matter is we could use another Zenyatta, Seabiscuit, or Smarty Jones. All three of them perfectly exemplified the beauty of horse racing and the meaning of a true champion, whilst capturing the nation’s attention. And although the new fans they attracted might not be scouring over past performances before each and every race, they’re still worthwhile, and are in fact an integral part of our sports’ survival, thus they deserve our respect.

Confession #3: I Go to the Track to (gasp!) Watch Racing
I’m sure I’m not the only woman (or young person, for that matter) who has not been taken seriously at the track before and I sure as heck won’t be the last, but why men assume I drove 2+ hours to be some sort of groupie looking for free drinks or a wealthy new boyfriend is beyond me. Trust me, I would not be there if it was not to watch the horses and (hopefully) pick a few winners. Sorry guys, but I don’t want five free beers or an invitation to your hotel room. I just want to watch the races...nothing more, nothing less.

Never has this situation rung truer than when I was in attendance at Santa Anita with a friend for Breeders’ Cup Saturday last month. A group of guys happened to sit next to us and proceeded to not only give us every opinion they had about every single horse, jockey, and trainer before EVERY race, but they deemed any opinion I had as “nice.” They even tried to teach us how to properly handicap a race while making sure that we “knew” they knew exactly what they were doing.

Put it this way, after listening to one of them spend nearly ten minutes explaining why Planteur was going to win the Classic, I had enough and made the bold statement that “Planteur would finish last,” before letting them know I was alive to Palace Malice, Declaration of War, & Mucho Macho Man in the Distaff-Classic double. They scoffed at the time because, of course, they “knew the Euros better than I did”, but how did that work out, boys?

Confession #4: Trackside Fashion is Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
I could never, ever in a million years see myself being all dolled-up at the racetrack. A dress, heels, and a hat that’s larger than my cat….no thank you! That being said, I have never shown up to the track in jeans and a t-shirt either (and that includes during my beloved trips to Hollywood Park during my college years). Perhaps it’s because I have only ever been to a track during the fall or winter months, but a nice pea coat and boots seem to be the staple of any outfit I have worn while attending the races and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Kudos to those of you who wear three-inch stilettos to the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders Cup, but I like to be able to physically walk out to my car after a long day of standing.

Confession #5: It’s About SO MUCH MORE Than The Money To Me
I’m completely aware there’s a faction of racing fans who are all about the money and believe the race (or horse, jockey, trainer, etc) was horrible if they did not win their bets. I have nothing against these people. In fact, the occasional “BOOOOOM!” followed by “what the f---” a mere thirty minutes later can be entertaining, but, I don’t at all fit into that group.

Sure, I spend far more time than I’d ever like to admit watching and handicapping races, but I rarely bet, myself. Handicapping, for me, is a hobby and one that effectively satisfies my mind’s need for critical thinking and analysis (which is, sadly, probably the same reason why I have a mathematics degree).

Saying I love the horses more than the money is too vague though. Instead, I’ll say I love not only how beautiful these horses are physically (Will Take Charge, anyone?), but how incredible they are mentally, and how much heart the great ones have shown under the most pressure-packed circumstances. I love the journeys to stardom I have witnessed and watching the sons and daughters of my favorites hit the track for the very first time. And while I hate seeing beautiful souls taken away from us far too soon, comeback stories like that of Paynter give me hope for the future.

And like any other sport, I thrive on the rivalries, the titles, the blowout wins, the narrow defeats, the horses that are dominant and the ones who are always close, but can never quite find a way.

It’s those horses and their stories that feed my love of racing much more than the money I have won or lost along the way.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Post-Race Analysis: G2 Remsen Stakes

Perhaps the most anticipated of this year's juvenile stakes races, the G2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct lived up to the expectations. Not only did we see another dimension of the well-regarded Honor Code, but we learned that Cairo Prince is the real deal, and were introduced to potential stars Wicked Strong and Intense Holiday.

Honor Code impressed me in that he was able to win without coming from the back, often horses fold when the pace scenario is completely against their running style, but this son of A.P. Indy showed a versatility that is rarely seen in a two-year old.

Of all of the runners in the Remsen, none stood out to me more than Cairo Prince. Not only did he have a much wider trip than Honor Code, but he spotted him six pounds only to lose by a nose. We all know that Honor Code has a sizzling turn of foot, but Cairo Prince kept right up with him as they dueled down the stretch. In what was the toughest test to this point for the leading son of freshman sire Pioneerof the Nile, Cairo Prince proved he belongs in the conversation of early Kentucky Derby favorites.

Although overshadowed by the top two, Wicked Strong and Intense Holiday are both horses to keep an eye on moving forward from this race. In what was only his third start and first against stakes company, Wicked Strong seemed a bit green. He appeared to be looking around early on and he drifted outside when the stick was used, but the fact that he was still able to get himself together enough to be closing on the dueling top two at the end speaks to this colt's potential. Like Wicked Strong, Intense Holiday had a bit of a tough start. The son of Hard Spun also had a wide trip and was hampered by Wicked Strong down the stretch, yet he still finished less than three lengths behind Honor Code.
Last but not least, on Twitter, I've been asked about what I look for during a race and what notes I take on the runners, so below I've posted my personal trip notes for the top four runners in the G2 Remsen in order for you to get a idea of what sticks out to me when I'm analyzing a race.

Honor Code (A.P. Indy-Serena's Cat, by Storm Cat)
After a slight stumble while coming out of the gate, Honor Code settled along the inside, just off of the pace set by Master Lightning. After the first quarter, Javier Castellano brought him to the outside of Master Lightning at the front of the pack, where he stayed before making his move at the top of the stretch. It was there that he took the lead while running between Cairo Prince and a fading Master Lightning. He moved over to the rail, during which he was momentarily passed by Cairo Prince, but he fought back to nose out the victory at the wire.

Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile-Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)
Broke from the far outside post and ran four-wide alongside the leaders before settling three-wide, just off the lead set by Master Lightning. He began to make his move to the outside of Master Lightning and Honor Code around the second turn, despite being pushed a bit wide by the aforementioned son of A.P. Indy. He took a slim lead near the eighth pole, but was nipped at the wire.

Wicked Strong (Hard Spun-Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic)
Slow start, moved inside and was forwardly placed alongside the rail. He was positioned just behind the leading trio entering the stretch, but appeared to suddenly drift outside when Rajiv Maragh used the stick. He gathered himself, however, and was closing on the top duo late.

Intense Holiday (Harlan's Holiday-Intensify, by Unbridled's Song)
Slow start, three-wide mid-pack around first turn. Two lengths back after the first half. Asked to go while entering second turn in the three-wide path. Exited the turn four-wide before having to check up slightly when Wicked Strong drifted towards him, but closed well late, regardless.

As always, I want to know what you think! Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment and if there are any other races for which you'd like me to post my analysis, please let me know. For all of the latest updates and picks, follow me on Twitter @chare889.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Horse to Watch: Cairo Prince

Cairo Prince is a two-year old colt by 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile out of a multiple stakes winning Holy Bull mare. In two starts, he is undefeated, having won his debut over six furlongs on the dirt at Belmont and following that up with a two and a half length victory in the G2 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.

He is pointed to the G2 Remsen Stakes, which will be run at Aqueduct on November 30, 2013, in which he could potentially face talented A.P Indy two-year old Honor Code. The Remsen is a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race.

LATEST UPDATE (11/30/2013): Cairo Prince finished an impressive second in the G2 Remsen Stakes, just a nose behind winner Honor Code. You can read my in-depth analysis of the Remsen Stakes here: http://cappingwithcandice.blogspot.com/2013/12/post-race-analysis-g2-remsen-stakes.html

Aqueduct 11/3/2013--Race 8:

More on Cairo Prince:
*Equibase profile: http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=Horse&refno=9178753&registry=T
*Pedigree: http://www.pedigreequery.com/cairo+prince2

Friday, November 29, 2013

Stakes Picks for Friday, November 29, 2013

G2 Go For Wand Handicap--Aqueduct Race 9: #2 Centring (ML 5-2)
Just missed last time out in a 1 1/16 mile G3 at Belmont despite having to go five-wide. While she has yet to win this year, she has routinely faced top class competition including Princess of Sylmar, Royal Delta, and Authenticity. She fits right in with this group if given the right trip, should find the winner's circle.
*Others to consider: #1 My Pal Chrisy (ML 3-1), #5 Willet (ML 10-1)

G1 Clark Handicap--Churchill Downs Race 11: #1 Game on Dude (ML 8-5)
Although he didn't fire in the Breeders' Cup Classic, I expect Game on Dude, who had won six straight prior to failing in the Classic, to bounce back here. Much has been made of him being drawn in the first stall, but I don't believe that will be much of an issue since he should be going for the lead, regardless. If he gets that lead with relative ease, it's all over.
*Others to consider: #3 Bourbon Courage (ML 8-1), #7 Will Take Charge (ML 9-5)

Bonus Picks:

*Churchill Downs Race 7: #8 Amazulu (ML 12-1)

*Churchill Downs Race 8: #5 Moonlight Caper (ML 3-1)

*Churchill Downs Race 9:  #2 Chalice (ML 6-1)

*Churchill Downs Race 10: #9 Marchwood (ML 3-1)

*Churchill Downs Race 12: #2 Make Me Adorable (ML 20-1)

*Hollywood Park Race 7: #5 Bio Pro (ML 12-1)

*Golden Gate Fields Race 7: #2 Teaks North (ML 4-1)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

20 Two-Year-Olds to Watch

We're nearing year's end and that means one thing: we'll soon have a new three-year-old crop to watch, with the hopes that our favorite will become the next Frankel, Black Caviar, or Citation. Even if that's not likely to happen, we're still most certainly assured another great season of racing that will have more highs and lows than Millennium Force at Cedar Point.

With that being said, below, I've listed who I believe are the top 20 most promising two-year-old horses both in America and Europe. This list isn't exclusive to horses that would specifically be pointed to the Kentucky Derby or the Guineas, per se. It is instead meant to highlight horses that I believe can be successful three-year-olds, no matter their niche. 

1. Honor Code (A.P. Indy-Serena's Cat, by Storm Cat)
Lightly-raced colt from the final crop of A.P. Indy is about as blue-blooded as it gets. To add to his stellar pedigree are his two spectacularly run races. He broke his maiden in his first start, which was over the slop at Saratoga, after having spotted a solid field (two others went on to win next time out) over 20 lengths in what was easily one of the most memorable races of the year and he backed that up with a good second in the G1 Champagne. His connections opted to skip the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in favor of the Remsen.

2. Toormore (Arakan-Danetime Out, by Danetime)
The Richard Hannon-trained Toormore has an unblemished record in the three races he's ran. He ran gamely to defeat Outstrip, who of course went on to when the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, and he followed that up by dominating Group 1 winner Sudirman. He's the one to beat amongst next year's crop of top class Euros.

3. Miss France (Dansili-Miss Tahiti, by Tirol)
After a tough debut in which she finished ninth, Miss France hasn't looked back. This daughter of prolific sire Dansili broke her maiden at Chantilly over Indonesienne, who went on to win a Group 1 on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe undercard, and she was hardly urged in her easy victory in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp stakes.

4. She's a Tiger (Tale of the Cat-Shandra Smiles, by Cahill Road)
The ever-consistent She's a Tiger hasn't finished worse than second in six races. A victory in the G1 Del Mar Debutante and a second place finish (after being disqualified from first) in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies highlight her career to this point. She's a half to multiple G1 winning sprinter Smiling Tiger.

5. Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile-Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)
He may only have two races to his name thus far, but the son of successful juvenile sire Pioneerof the Nile hasn't missed a beat. After easily winning his first time out, he impressively won the G2 Nashua, which was his first start against winners, despite starting from the outside post.

6. Australia (Galileo-Ouija Board, by Cape Cross)
Aidan O'Brien trains this royally bred son of two-time Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Ouija Board, who has only gotten better with time. Despite having to settle for second after breaking slowly in his debut, Australia has since won twice, the most recent of which was a demolition job of the highly regarded Free Eagle in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.

7. Shared Belief (Candy Ride-Common Hope, by Storm Cat)
In two victories in as many starts, Shared Belief's average margin of victory is just over seven lengths. Not even the well regarded Kobe's Back could come close when they met in the G3 Hollywood Prevue earlier this month.

8. No Nay Never (Scat Daddy-Cat's Eye Witness, by Elusive Quality)
This son of successful American sire Scat Daddy has won each of his three starts. After breaking his maiden in his debut at Keeneland, he became trainer Wesley Ward's latest Ascot winner when he took the Norfolk Stakes. It was his win in the Group 1 Prix Morny over both Vorda and Rizeena that cemented his status as one of the top two-year-olds in the world. He's expected to return to Europe next year and will most likely be pointed towards the St James Palace Stakes.

9. Havana (Dunkirk-Missy Turtle, by Kyle's Our Man)
Todd Pletcher's latest young star has defeated some of the best two-year olds in America, including the aforementioned Honor Code in the G1 Champagne. The son of leading American juvenile sire Dunkirk, Havana contested a fast pace set by Debt Ceiling in the Champagne, and yet he was still able to finish ahead of the fast-closing Honor Code. He backed up that effort with a solid second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

10. Arethusa (A.P. Indy-Miss Coronado, by Coronado's Quest)
A horse we've previously profiled on the blog, Arethusa is by former Horse of the Year A.P. Indy out of a graded stakes winning Coronado's Quest mare. While she didn't have the best debut, Arethusa improved to hit the board behind the well-regarded Georgia and Be Proud in her next two efforts. Her most recent run, which was in the Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park, however, is what has catapulted her to being one of the top juvenile fillies in the world. After sitting at the back of the pack early, she showed an impressive turn of foot, which allowed her to take the lead at the top of the stretch and never look back.

11. Chriselliam (Iffraaj-Danielli, by Danehill)
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf may have been her introduction to a worldwide audience, but she impressed in Europe before her trek to California, particularly when she defeated Rizeena and Ihtimal in the Group 1 Shadwell Fillies' Mile at Newmarket. She is expected to be pointed towards to the 1000 Guineas, for which she is currently the bookies' second choice.

12. New Year's Day (Street Cry-Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)
Going into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, this son of Street Cry was known as "Baffert's other horse," but following an impressive stretch run that saw him overtake Havana late, he exited the race a superstar. While his debut was nothing to write home about, he quietly defeated the likes of Bond Holder and Candy Boy, who have both impressively broken their maidens since. It's unusual to say about a Breeders' Cup champion, but he may be one of the more underrated American horses of this crop.

13. Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor-Beer Baroness, by Mr. Greeley)
At times, Ria Antonia has been brilliant, but she has struggled to maintain the consistency of the horses who are ranked above her. She emphatically broke her maiden in her second attempt, which was over the All Weather at Woodbine, but she struggled to replicate that effort in her next two races. She made good when it counted, however, when she was named the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after She's a Tiger was placed second following a stewards inquiry.

14. Outstrip (Exceed and Excel-Asi Siempre, by El Prado)
Godolphin's newest star Outstrip is arguably the most battle-tested horse of this group. He nearly defeated Toormore in the Veuve Clicquot before winning a Group 2 at Doncaster. He then failed to threaten War Command in the Group 1 Dewhurst, but perhaps that can be attributed to him not handling the soft ground. He emphatically won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, but he's just a notch below his top class peers at this point.

15. War Command (War Front-Wandering Star, by Red Ransom)
A winner of four out of his five races, War Command's only loss was a narrow defeat at the hands of Sudirman in a six furlong contest at Curragh. His most recent victory in the Group 1 Dewhurst at Newmarket was more of a workmanlike effort than that of a superstar, but he got the job done.

16. Recepta (Speightstown-Honor Bestowed, by Honor Grades)
Another horse that has previously been profiled on here, Recepta won her debut before struggling in the G1 Frizette. She quickly bounced back, however, to win the Chelsea Flower Stakes on the turf at Belmont despite a very wide trip.

17. Testa Rossi (Dr Fong-Peggy Lane, by Dancing Spree)
A winner of four straight this season, including the G3 Miss Grillo, there's no doubt that this filly knows how to win. She may have finished second behind Chriselliam in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, but her run should not be disregarded, particularly since she checked up entering the stretch, but was still able to gather herself and rally to take runner-up honors.

18. Tap It Rich (Tapit-Gold Canyon, by Mr. Prospector)
The lightly-raced son of Tapit only has two runs to his name. His debut was as impressive as they come, as he dominated the field over a mile on the Santa Anita dirt despite breaking slowly. It was his run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile that made me believe, however. His fifth place finish despite a wide trip that gave him no chance at the victory certainly caught my eye.

19. Wired Bryan (Stormy Atlantic-Red Melody, by Runaway Groom)
When Wired Bryan wins, he wins big. This son of Stormy Atlantic already has four wins to his name, including the G2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga and has won his last two outings in dominant fashion. The flashy grey also owns some of the fastest speed figures of the group.

20. Bobby's Kitten (Kitten's Joy-Celestial Woods, by Forestry)
Few juvenile races this year were more impressive than that of Bobby's Kitten in the G3 Pilgrim, in which he easily demolished the field by over six lengths. He entered the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf as the post time favorite off of that result, but he set lighting quick fractions early in that race, which cost him the lead. His ability to hold onto third place, regardless, showed that he's not your average runner. The son of leading American sire Kitten's Joy was named after the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

On the Rise:
*Indonesienne (Muhtathir-Mydarshaan, by Daarshaan)
Winner of two out of three races, including Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp (only loss 1 1/4 lengths behind Miss France)

*Noble Moon (Malibu Moon-Mambo Bell, by Kingmambo)
Wore down rivals to win debut at Belmont before finishing third behind Cairo Prince in the G2 Nashua

*Pablo Del Monte (Giant's Causeway-One Hot With, by Bring the Heat)
Won both races, both of which were over the All-Weather at Keeneland, but has yet to run in a stakes race.

*Indian Maharaja (Galileo-Again, by Danehill Dancer)
Easily won both races in which he's ran, but he's another who's yet to be tested in a graded stakes.

*Good Old Boy Lukey (Selkirk-Pivotting, by Pivotal)
Three for three including his most recent win in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July

Stakes Picks for Thursday, November 28, 2013

Churchill Downs Race 11: #5 Magic Hour (ML 12-1)
Daughter of Awesome Again finished in the top two in four straight before struggling after a tough trip in her last. Defeated fellow competitor Don't Tell Sophia in her last victory and I expect her to appreciate the stretchout.
*Others to consider: #1 Flashy American (ML 3-1)

Aqueduct Race 8: #3 Caixa Eletronica (ML 7-2)
He may not be quite at the level he once was, but the grizzly veteran and defending champion of this race enters off a win in the Duck Dance Stakes at Belmont. He'll be coming late.
*Others to consider: #5 Palace (ML 5-1), #2 Saturday's Charm (ML 10-1)

Hollywood Park Race 4: #Majestic Stride (ML 2-1)
After two wins in as many races this his comeback season, the four-year-old son of Trippi most recently finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He's simple in a different class than the rest here.
*Others to consider: None

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Churchill Down Picks for Saturday, November 23, 2013 & Bonus Plays

Race 1: #2 Hot French Fries (ML 3-1)
Three-year old Unusual Heat filly who has four wins this season, including her most recent race, which was over the course and distance of today's contest. She'll need to improve in order to hang at this level, but all signs point to her being on the right track.
*Others to consider: #4 Majestic Shoes (ML 6-1)

Race 2: #5 Channel Marker (ML 3-1)
Channel Marker, a four-year old gelding by Purim out of Extended Applause, is a horse that I've been following ever since he lost by a neck on the turf at Saratoga three back. He has since won twice at five and a half furlongs on the turf. He does have a win over a small field in an off the turf race at Fair Grounds earlier this season.
*Others to consider: None

Race 3: #8 Coronate (ML 8-1)
In his debut over six and a half furlongs on the dirt at Churchill Downs, this three-year old son of 2007 Breeder's Cup Dirt Mile winner Corinthian, finished a good closing second. He figures to improve with a race under his belt.
*Others to consider: #1 Alert and Perky (ML 6-1)

Race 4: #1 Arrived Home (ML 20-1)
It's safe to say that I was impressed with this son of Orientate's last outing, which was over seven furlongs on the All Weather at Keeneland. After falling from near the lead to the back of the field early and going extremely wide around the turn, he displayed a strong late kick to steal show honors at the wire. He'll be switching back to the dirt, on which he has won in the past.
*Others to consider: #5 Gallant Pleasure (ML 3-1), #9 Turbalo (ML 10-1)

Race 5: #7 Zimbabwe Lady (ML 4-1)
Daughter of 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil finished a good closing second in her most recent race after running in the back of the pack early and having to go four wide into the stretch in what was her second career start and first on the dirt.
*Others to consider: #4 Dash to the Flash (ML 3-1), #10 Lady Mickelson (ML 6-1)

Race 6: #1 Aripeka (ML 20-1)
In what will be an off the turf affair, I like Aripeka, who finished a closing third in another race that was taken off the turf over one mile at Churchill Downs in his last outing. It's splitting hairs between him and Bold Challenger, but Aripeka offers the better value of the two.
*Others to consider: #11 Bold Challenger (ML 6-1), #4 Majestic Bay (ML 6-1)

Race 7: #7 Chalybeate Springs (ML 8-1)
If you plan on playing the Pick 5 or the late Pick 4, here's your single. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Chalybeate Springs is a four-year old son of the late Dynaformer and is one of the more consistent of this bunch. He finished second and third in his two most recent races, both of which were at the distance being contested today. He'll be coming off a two month layoff, but he sports a solid work pattern coming in to this one.
*Others to consider: None

Race 8: #4 Nantucketeer (ML 4-1)
Wesley Ward-trained son of Street Sense out of a winning Danzig mare will make his debut in this six furlong contest on the dirt. He enters this off of a series of quick works and should be primed to fire first time out.
*Others to consider: #1 Unbridledcharacter (ML 10-1), #6 Claymaker (ML 8-1)

Race 9: #4 Keep Up (ML 7-2)
Defending champion of this race enters off a win at a mile and an eighth over the turf at Keeneland. He's been working sharply and should get a favorable pace setup in this one. He'll be flying late.
*Others to consider: #9 Daddy Nose Best (ML 6-1), #7 Coalport (ML 5-1)

Race 10: #4 Distorted Music (ML 5-1)
This lightly raced three-year old daughter of Distorted Humor finished third in her only two starts, albeit on the All Weather surfaces of Keeneland and Arlington Park. Just the slightest of improvements could see her being the first to finish.
*Others to consider: #9 Infliction (ML 10-1)


Delta Downs Race 6: #6 Concave (ML 7-2)
This Doug O'Neill-trained daughter of Colonel John won the G2 Sorrento over the well-regarded She's a Tiger at Del Mar over the summer and followed that up with a solid third place result in her next outing: the G1 Del Mar Debutante. She was freshened before the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies and by all accounts looked fantastic during her works, but she was unfortunately taken up in order to avoid Secret Compass, who had broken down near her. At her best, she towers over this field.
*Others to consider: None

Delta Downs Race 7: #7 Rankhasprivileges (ML 15-1)
In his only start, this son of Einstein was much the best. I think the pace setup will work in his favor and he'll get Lasix for the first time.
*Others to consider: #2 Coastline (ML 5-2)


The following horses from my tracker are running on November 23, 2013:

Churchill Downs Race 2: #5 Channel Marker (ML 3-1)

Delta Downs Race 4: #5 Heitai (ML 2-1)

Hollywood Park Race 8: #3 Green Mask (ML 3-1)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Japan Cup Picks and Analysis

The G1 Japan Cup takes place on Sunday, November 24, 2013 and is run over a mile and half on the turf at Tokyo Racecourse. Below, are my top three choices for the prestigious race:

As if Japan's reigning Horse of the Year and this race's defending champion needed any help, she'll get top jockey Ryan Moore, who recently had the winning mounts in both the Breeders' Cup Turf and Filly & Mare Turf, on board in hopes of a repeat performance. Although it's clear that she hasn't repeated the form of her remarkable three-year old season this year, her performances are much better than they appear on paper. In three races this year, she has a strong second place finish behind 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf winner St. Nicholas Abbey in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan, a third place finish after coming off a nearly three month layoff in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin, and a runner-up finish in her most recent start, which was in the G1 Tenno Sho at Tokyo Racecourse. 

In the Tenno Sho, Gentildonna was overwhelmed by the late closing Just a Way after running close to a healthy pace up front. That start was her first off of a four month layoff and, in fact, it's worth noting that all three of her starts this season have come off of layoffs. She figures to improve in the Japan Cup, however, which will be her second start off of her most recent break. 

Gold Ship:
Gentildonna's biggest competition should come from her countryman Gold Ship, who defeated her earlier this year in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen. In four starts this season, the four-year old son of Stay Gold has alternated between victories and fifth place finishes. His most recent fifth place finish over a mile and a half in the G2 Kyoto Daishoten is a bit troubling, but it did come after a nearly four month layoff. He figures to improve here and if he can return to the form that won him last year's Arima Kinen, he'll be tough to beat. 

This year's crop of European challengers isn't the strongest, but I think Simenon provides the best chance of that group. The now six-year old gelding hasn't won this season, but his form coming in is still very nice. He has never finished outside the top four all year and he notched two runner-up finishes behind the likes of Estimate and the always consistent Ahzeemah in the G1 Ascot Gold Cup and G2 Lonsdale Cup, respectively.  

Simenon finished an impressive fourth in the G1 Melboune Cup earlier this month, so he'll be cutting back to a mile and a half here. The ground should be firm, which is a positive for him, and Richard Hughes retains the mount after their successful pairing at Flemington. 

Churchill Down Picks for Friday, November 22, 2013

Race 1: #8 Laope (ML 7-2)
Five-year old gelding who is starting for the first time for a new barn after being claimed following an easy win over six furlongs on the dirt at Churchill Downs. He has two wins in his last four races.
*Others to consider: #3 Biker Boy (ML 2-1), #2 Timely Pursuit (ML 10-1)

Race 2: #2 Trick My Ride (ML 8-1)
Daughter of Kela finished a well-beaten second in her debut, but her fifth place finish over six and a half furlongs on the dirt at Churchill Downs was better than it appears on paper, as she broke slowly and closed well down the stretch.
*Others to consider: None

Race 3: #5 Super Star Darrell (ML 8-1)
Finished second and first in his last two races, both of which were at today's distance, albeit at Indiana Downs. In his most recent start, he engaged in a duel down the stretch, but was able to wear down his closest competitor.
*Others to consider: #7 Swaylon Braylon (ML 4-1)

Race 4: #1/1A Lonesome Street/Beer Garden (ML 5-2)
In his last outing, Lonesome Street displayed an good late kick en route to a fifth place finish at the same distance as today's contest. Four-year old Tapit colt Beer Garden finished second in his most recent race. He won twice this season and finished on the board in seven of his eleven starts this year.
*Others to consider: #8 Motor City (ML 8-1)

Race 5: #4 Transylvania Flash (ML 6-1)
Three-year old More Than Ready gelding finished fourth in his last three outings, two of which were on the dirt at Churchill Downs. He's ran some of his best races at Churchill.
*Others to consider: #6 Good Time Coming (ML 10-1)

Race 6: #1 Relentless Spirit (ML 10-1)
Kenneally-trained firster by Indian Charlie is a half sibling to multiple graded stakes winner Heart Ashley. He's notched good works entering into this contest.
*Others to consider: #9 Franklin (ML 8-5), #4 Late Night Lu (ML 8-1)

Race 7: #10 Clovelly (ML 4-1)
In his only start, he finished a well-beaten second behind the highly regarded Green Mask. The son of Pleasantly Perfect out of a stakes winning Cozzene mare will be switching surfaces from the All-Weather to dirt and figures to improve with a start under his belt.
*Others to consider: #2 Indian Pegasus (ML 8-1)

Race 8: #10 Cookie (ML 7-2)
Three-year old daughter of Quest is a neck away from having won her last three starts. She has only finished outside of the top four once in her career.
*Others to consider: #1 Temptress (ML 12-1), #3 Anusara (ML 3-1)

Race 9: #9 Ford's On Fire (ML 8-1)
Son of Dixie Union out of a graded stakes placed Pulpit mare finished third in his only start at a sprint distance on the dirt, he'll switch bad to that here and figures to improve in doing so.
*Others to consider: #1 Kitchen Police (ML 7-2), #5 Go Go Sugar (ML 8-1)

The following horse from my tracker is running on Friday, November 22, 2013:
Hollywood Park Race 8: #7 Tribal Rain (3yo filly by Tribal Rule)--ML 5-1