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The new points system for the Derby sucks. Suddenly Churchill Downs is playing God and deciding which prep races are worthy, rather than letting the trail sort itself out. War Emblem won the Illinois Derby, yet they completely exclude that race. No filly races will earn points, and I am the very last person to say filly races count the same, but I think they should let the best filly in for intrigue.

Asked by thoughtsonracinglifeandmore



I’m not sure just yet how I feel about the new points system. Ultimately, a lot of races just got left out of the mix where they shouldn’t have, and that is going to result in a drop in purses and track handles (bad). It’s also going to lead to a lot more horses trying to get into the field late, which is a problem already with certain later preps— I don’t like this because they fill the field first with graded winners/earners before they give anyone else a chance to try (see Arm Force trying to get into 2 preps this past Triple Crown trail with no avail).

The filly issue I think will just help push these gals into Derby consideration early… most wait until the last minute before deciding which race they want, which I think is unfair to colt owners… and really, if some think that’s a problem, don’t you think On Fire Baby and Grace Hall could have handled some of the lesser colts that got into the Derby? Mmm? The filly rule just allows for intrigue to set in early as they now need to compete in the same preps!

Biggest B.S.: giving winners of certain races like the UAE Derby (what…) 100 points while giving winners of other preps just 10 points. Yeah okay that seems fair and all… not…

I Like Arm Force for Loaded Louisiana Derby

Call me crazy, but I like a 20-1 longshot for Louisiana’s biggest Kentucky Derby prep race.

The field reads like a rehash of past Fair Grounds preps, the Risen Star (II) and the Lecomte (III), except for a few new (and probably better) additions that make the Louisiana Derby (II) an interesting fight. There’s the highly-touted local Cigar Street, a son of Street Sense with some real nice distance pedigree to back him up. He bested fellow entry Flashy Sunrise by nearly 14 lengths last out over 1 1/16 miles where he snapped his maiden, and with Shaun Bridgmohan, he’s got a home base advantage and then some!

Of course, while we’re discussing favoritism, you have to bring up Mark Valeski. The morning line favorite will be piloted by top local rider Rosie Napravnik after his extremely close second to El Padrino in the Risen Star after helping set the pace. He’s been working like a monster and it’s been suggested we haven’t seen his best yet… can this speed horse work his magic again for a win?

Wherever WinStar goes, no matter how I ultimately think of the horse in question, I *have* to consider them. I bet against Windsurfer when the horse broke his maiden at Gulfstream over 1 1/16 miles, and for a Speightstown son, he looked really nice out there. Todd Pletcher has taken his time with this one and I think it’s going to pay off. With John Velazquez up, he’ll probably get some nice value and a decent shot here.

But, none of these are my personal favorite. The horse on my close watch is the 9, Arm Force, who has a 20-1 morning line. A full brother to Dubai World Cup (I) winner Well Armed, this Tiznow [pictured] colt was taken along slowly by Eoin Harty and really showed a lot of class in his recent maiden break at Gulfstream where he won by nearly 4 lengths despite being jostled in the stretch. It’s a bit of a stretch thinking he’ll bounce up to 1 1/8 miles right off the bat, but this is my heart bet. With the Casners as the owner and Julien Leparoux up, my chances aren’t terrible.

Racing Beat: February 27

I was legit teary-eyed when I saw Nehro being saddled before his big win at Fair Grounds. He’s going to have such a good year, I know it!

I know this statement is arguable, but didn’t Larry Jones say that extra weight really doesn’t bother horses that much? He’s keeping Havre de Grace away from handicaps that would give her too much weight. And by the way, I don’t think 122 lbs is that much considering how much she’s done, which is what she would have gotten for the Azeri. Then again, it’s still early in the year.

Our Entourage finally figured out the racing game to win this weekend at Gulfstream. I pray to God Mike Repole doesn’t see this as a sign he can start being overly dramatic again.

My 2011 Kentucky Derby trifecta as brand-new four-year-olds: Nehro? Too easy. Mucho Macho Man? Grew up so well and doesn’t look like a stick anymore. Master of Hounds, you’re next to blow my socks off! (He’s been second and third in 2 starts this year)

Wish I’d known Well Armed's baby brother was racing 5 minutes before I found out… my allegiance would have cashed in; he was 12-1. Look out for Arm Force! Blinkers, no Lasix.

Another Calder-based horse prevails against the big wig names… an excellent run in Saturday’s Davona Dale (II) by 64-1 shot Yara over Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly (I) runner-up Grace Hall. You go girl! #calderpride

Add Avie’s Sense to the list of gifted Street Sense babies.

I love it when name plays win: The Lumber Guy won the Miracle Wood Stakes while Nate’s Mineshaft (the biggest longshot and only son of Mineshaft in the field!) won the Mineshaft Stakes. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Sway Away faithful must be awful proud of his comeback.

Sky Kingdom is the latest hopeful off the Derby trail. /heartbreak

My brain does weird things to make me laugh when I’m sleep-deprived. I found myself thinking of names of future baby Gemologists during an overnight shift at the hospital. Wonder if the Jockey Club would accept Urologist.

Animal Kingdom might go to Hong Kong to race after Dubai. So basically, he’ll probably be too tired to race much in the U.S. this year, and who knows if he’ll be back in 2013. Ugh.

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