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Racing Beat: October 28

I had some fun this year: by my count, I got to see 14 of the Breeders’ Cup contenders somewhere this year in-person. Let’s hope one of them gets to win!

I dare you to read Mary Cage’s blog about Miss Fifty and not feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

A year later, I feel a bit foolish now that I’m more “in the know” about not considering Drosselmeyer more than I did for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (I). Sure he didn’t win anything and was more a Marathon type being a Belmont (I) winner, but he was a closer that was working really well at Churchill (which I even mentioned!) and was probably right at his peaking point. Dang.

Looks like Weemissfrankie isn’t coming back after all after her injury earlier this year. She was a fun horse on the California circuit.


Stephanoatsee won last weekend, Afleeting Lady this weekend… SHACKLEFORD IT’S YOUR TURN THIS COMING WEEKEND! Props to Mama Oatsee. #perfecthunchbet

I just now got around to reordering a replacement lens cap for my camera. If you happen to be at Saratoga next year and find a Nikon lens cap, probably somewhere near the saddling paddock, THAT’S MINE!

I’m a bag of mixed feelings about Chantal Sutherland’s retirement. I for one couldn’t live very long without cheeseburgers and Pizza Hut.

I still have the 2011 Breeders’ Cup app on my iPod. I’m a digital packrat.

How creepy weird am I to have been thinking about Rodman earlier this week (I was thinking about F&M Turf, thought about Nahrain [GB], thought about cool blazes, instantly thought of Rodman) to find out he died from a bad infection? All the sad in the world…

I can’t think of a better, more deserving stallion of your attention and his recent retirement: 10-year-old turf horse Musketier has been a graded winner from age 2 and 10!

So Buffum finally won a stakes? I guess not all well-bred, ritzy maiden smashers have it easy.

Tweet o’ the Week:

The best pony in all the land: Game On Dude

The best pony in all the land: Game On Dude

Racing Beat: October 7

No question about it… if Wise Dan can beat Animal Kingdom and the rest of a challenging field in the BC Turf Mile, he gets Horse of the Year if Game On Dude loses the BC Classic. Nobody tops those two this year in breadth of challengers and list of impressive wins.

Feeling a future post here… I look forward more to the Juvenile Turf than the Juvenile dirt race. No lie.

I hope there’s a rich Disney fan of a racehorse owner that will name a future Street Sense/Cry/Life/Boss baby Street Rat. Mwahahaaaaa.

And Calder continues being the dick of the track world charging fees for things that don’t need fees…

I have defeated the curse that is Blazing Silks, thank you Paige. Aww but look at my pone pone I named Greek Fire!

I vow to make a superior pony game if I ever finish my computer science degree.

Word on the street is the new freshman sire to watch is The Green Monkey. Yes, that overpriced bomb of a horse, yes that one. Spring At Last is making progress as well.

Looks like Drill is starting to make his way back with 3-furlong breezes at Hollywood Park after a tiring spring campaign sprinting. Ultimate Eagle has started breezing last week, too. ~A la horses I just randomly started thinking about and looked up

Feeling legit depressed about Danedream and the rest of the Arc dropouts. At least now I know it’s not just the U.S. where horses like to drop like flies at terrible moments.

I had a dream the other night that I was watching the Breeders’ Cup Turf and out of nowhere comes NEHRO to win it. Yeah, even in the dream I was like what the…

Chantal Sutherland is constantly testing my will… she’s cool one moment throwing out the first pitch for the L.A. Dodgers game… unthinkably vile the next having her baseball signed by that god-awful, why-does-he-have-a-show Rob Drydek. *hurls*

If I were the owner of Stay Thirsty, I’d keep him running if at all possible until maybe age 6. He’d likely improve with age, plus I’d throw him into the Marathon, not the Classic. Hopefully in his last year the Breeders’ Cup will go to Belmont and then he could go out with a bang on his favorite track. But since this is not the case, I’m stuck brainstorming name-play foal monikers… I like Slurpee.

I am so proud of Pool Play right now…

Shanghai Bobby is a cute colt and all, but I’m still not feeling him. I’m eagerly awaiting the Remsen Stakes at 1 1/8 miles… maybe we’ll see a real Derby horse then.

Tweet o’ the Week hails back to medieval times…

Racing Beat: September 16

Bejarano is replacing Sutherland as Game On Dude's rider in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a sure sign that Baffert ain't playing around anymore. With Richard’s Kid sold, Coil not looking ready, and Paynter out on sick leave, he’s saddling up his number one guns together. Feelin’ sad for Sutherland, though, it won’t feel the same if the Dude wins this time.

A moment of silence needed for Thoroughbred Times, a good online news source that just folded.

I suppose I can’t beat up Joseph O’Brien on Camelot too much; they didn’t find room until late and by then Encke was ahead by some 4 lengths despite a saddle slip. A very odd race to say the least.

Dreaming of Julia? Kauai Katie? My Happy Face? Teen Pauline? So Many Ways? Who to pick in the filly ranks this year, I don’t know…

I saw the Distorted Humor - Mushka going for the sale topper from the get-go ($1.65 million!), but surprised Paynter’s little half brother only mustered a million even.

Carla Gaines’ magnificent trainee Winding Way has tested positive for testosterone. She’s as swift as a coursing river, with all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon… but a filly, not a colt.

Bourbon Courage's connections are thinking Breeders' Cup, and just look at the filth they've inspired in the comment sections:

i hope they go and get their a$$es handed to them—they won’t have their little collusion racket going for them at santa anita that they do at these bush league tracks with the russian. the only question i have is, did they slice blueskiesandrainbow’s tendon before the race too?

Now, I don’t know if he’s BC material just yet (probably not), but I think he won that race fair and square… also, new personal reason to root for Bourbon Courage: he’s the product of the McMahons, who foaled Funny Cide in New York.

Wherever did Majestic City and his talent go? How about one-hit wonder Buster’s Ready?

You wouldn’t catch me dumping $1.55 million on a Bernardini colt… unless maybe if it was Baby Z.

There are few things I hate more than when a horse wins a start or two after I originally put money on it to do well. LOOKING AT YOU RIGHT NOW, VAPOUR MUSING. DON’T BACKSASS ME, PACIFIC OCEAN.

Awesome Feather's back to racing on Thursday at Belmont… AWW YEAH! Perhaps Bob Baffert should discuss jockey tactics with Chad Brown and Jeffrey Sanchez.

Yes I looked it up… the name Yolo belongs to a registered daughter of Dixieland Band. Yeah, I kind of want to use it when I’m rich and have a pony. It’s going to win the Derby in obnoxious fashion.

I am thinking they will put Dullahan in the big Classic should they decide to bring him to the Breeders’ Cup because a) it’s the big one, b) should he have another day where he decides he likes dirt it could mean an Eclipse, c) too many good ones in the Turf shipping in, d) we don’t know how good he is on turf, e) the big Classic field is not a strong one… one of the year’s best for example is Wise Dan who looks to be getting ready for the Turf Mile.

Tweet o’ the Week: After nosing through many pictures of Keeneland September yearlings, the one I was most marveled by had to be the only Pyro out of a Gone West mare, hip #426. He looks great!

Racing Beat: August 19

I’m going to be deep for a second here: Handicapping is a lot like the weather. Every day can’t be sunny, and even if the forecast predicts no rain, there’s no guarantee it won’t.

Another Dixieland Band bites the dust… er, retires: Simmard was having one hell of a year besting all my choices on the grass (Newsdad, Joinem).

Excuse me while I plan a road trip to/grand equine theft of Lane’s End.

Chantal Sutherland gets a 4-day ban from British stewards for overuse of the whip. At least she won oh wait.

Anyone who had a hunch bet in Friday’s Saratoga R5, Shakeira/Wholelottashakin, must have enjoyed a nice payoff.

I imagine those people who claim to have paid their way through college from handicapping are either a) college grads from the 80s when college was cheap, b) super-omg-awesome at exotics, c) bullshitting me. I’d feel lucky if I could buy a textbook every semester with my winnings.

The Travers looks likely to be laughably awful this year. Again. Time for a hunch bet on Alpha.

I need to write something about how much I dislike the DRF’s handicapping style. To each his own, but I purposely avoid whomever they pick 9 out of 10 times.

Is there anyone out there— still in training, that is— that can keep up with Trinniberg for the King’s Bishop (I)?

I have a new love on the horizon: the chestnut Big Brown colt Mach Seven is out of a City Zip daughter and is trained by Michael Matz. He was second-last in his debut trailing the whole way at Delaware Park though, so it’s a good thing I forgot to bet on that one… ANYWAY, I CALLED HIM FIRST! Looking at his pedigree maybe he’ll like turf…

New two-year-old names to add to the watch list: Sonofasamurai (First Samurai x Midnight Deelite, by Afternoon Deelites), a McPeek trainee owned by Susan McPeek, and Orb (Malibu Moon x Lady Liberty, by Unbridled) under the Phipps colors.

What good is suspending a trainer if they can just give directions to their assistant trainers during their “time-out” period? They’re still getting credit for training, but are basically getting a vacation off of actual work while doing it.

New favorite horse name? (Yes again): Pink Leninade, a filly by Lemon Drop Kid out of Soviet, by Unbridled.

I hope Questing [GB] gets a good, long career. She’s too talented to retire sooner!

Little Mike, you’re just too beautiful a sight… I too prefer running all alone up front.

Joel Rosario is a good front rider while Mike Smith does best with those coming from off the pace. Therefore, I think Atigun's a good match for Smith in the Travers…

Tweet o’ the Week:

Amen! How G.O.D. Makes Me Love Horse Racing & Hollywood Park

I started this blog in April last year, not giving me a whole lot of time to nail down what particular tactics I liked using in handicapping breakdowns. One of last year’s most memorable races was the Hollywood Gold Cup (I), which I had the pleasure of sitting down to watch the same way I did last year: in front of our main living room TV (I stream most races I view online), complete with feeding a breakdown of who to look out for to my mother. #6 will very likely win easy, but watch #2. I also like #3 a lot.

This year felt weirdly similar, as the top three I picked were again clearly the best in the field with Bob Baffert having two live ones and the lone filly in the field being pretty outclassed. The most dominant one of this bunch was undoubtedly the sleek and strong Game On Dude, a front-running flier with tons of style and class. Looking at him now, I couldn’t believe I had him pegged to run third in last year’s Gold Cup, ascertaining that the newly-revamped closing style of First Dude would bowl him over in the final strides while a heavily-campaigned Twirling Candy would hold on for second. Pace mattered little to me last year, as I strongly favored closers, but while First Dude proved me correct that day, Game On Dude also stood out strongly as the pacesetter who refused to fold.

Fast-forward to 5 minutes to post, and I had decided the Dude would not be good enough betting value to throw my usual win ticket on— unlike his 4-5 in the Californian (II). I couldn’t imagine him losing— even to a proven closer who liked the track like Richard’s Kid— but today had been proving me wrong about the possibilities some faced at the races. I scattered tickets safely, feeling confident that the top three would sort themselves out, the third being the glistening copper colt Kettle Corn, who I’ll like until the fat lady sings. So far in the season, I was doing pretty good breaking down Hollywood Park races, and while my luck had been off all day, all would be forgiven if the Dude could muster a win today. Baffert said before the race to Chantal Sutherland, "You’re on the best horse… but if you hear Richard’s Kid at the eighth pole, you’re in trouble."

The delightful part about watching Game On Dude is the mental commentary one can almost hear as he rolls down the backstretch. Pulling up beside longshot Spud Spivens, who towed a whopping 10 pounds less, the Dude looked pissed that someone was trying to keep up with him and began trying to bob his head in front. The fractions were fairly tame, and the Dude looked poised to put him away. He stuck his nose out. Then his head. His neck. Suddenly, he was a length in front and began to draw away still in check. Way back, Richard’s Kid was let loose and things looked scary heading into the stretch. But, only momentarily.

"He’s [Richard’s Kid] is going to catch him!"

I look hard at G.O.D., who while being urged, is only beginning to stretch his wings as his stablemate closed in. “No, he’s not going to lose.” Game On Dude stopped the ever-shrinking margin and settled into a modest drive, the mental commentary never noting a desperate plea. It wasn’t the overwhelming performance we saw in the Californian, but today did not ask for the Dude’s full measure. Richard’s Kid was the obvious second-best while Kettle Corn gained ground to stick around for third.

The Dude had no equal today, and I doubt anyone out west can match strides with him. He is still my favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I) in November, and the Gold Cup retains its status as my favorite western race.

"STRAIGHT AND STRONG!" Nobody had a chance of challenging Game On Dude in the Californian Handicap (II)… seriously, anytime someone tries to pass this gutsy gelding, he pours more on, even when he’s “short!” Horse of the Year, thank you.

"STRAIGHT AND STRONG!" Nobody had a chance of challenging Game On Dude in the Californian Handicap (II)… seriously, anytime someone tries to pass this gutsy gelding, he pours more on, even when he’s “short!” Horse of the Year, thank you.

California Dudes Throwdown at Hollywood Park

California gurls? No thanks, we want our California dudes! After a struggle at Meydan in the World Cup, Game On Dude is back at his home turf to add another graded race to his resume. While the field is small, it sports some nice talent including G1 winner Morning Line, who has been blossoming since trading hands to John Shirreffs. Can the Dude and Chantal rebound?

$150,000 Californian Stakes (II) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 1/8 miles on all-weather track at Betfair Hollywood Park. Post Time: Saturday, June 2 at 4:30pm PST.

[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]

1) Game On Dude - Chantal Sutherland, 120 lbs, Bob Baffert - One of the most consistent around, the Awesome Again gelding was one of the best handicap horses from last year and is simply outstanding at the 1 1/8 mile distance, winning 2 of 3 times he raced it in the past 2 years with one runner-up performance. His last appearance at Hollywood was a hair-raising duel with First Dude in the Gold Cup (I), and while he did not run well in Dubai last out, he’s been cruising in his breezes and has shown he can win major races with long layoffs. He’s the one to beat!

2) Uh Oh Bango - Mike Smith, 118 lbs, R. Kory Owens - The Top Hit, Arizona-bred was the surprise winner of the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual (II) at Santa Anita back in January, and has remained pleasantly consistent as a pacestalker, finishing off the board just once in all of his Californian starts. He’ll be getting Mike Smith back after a tarnished 5th in the 1 1/8 mile Charles Town Classic (II) in West Virginia and does well on synthetic. However, he will need to really be brilliant stats-wise to beat out the field.

3) Morning Line - Joe Talamo, 118 lbs, John Shirreffs - Finishing a tiring last in last year’s Whitney (I), the Tiznow son took a breather and traded off to John Shirreffs from Nick Zito and it all really made a difference. He stormed back to competition on May 5 to capture the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (II) over Prayer for Relief and Kettle Corn, holding them off to win by 1/2 length while being top-weight. Keeping steady connections and apt to be on the improving cycle, Morning Line will likely sit off Game On Dude and try to pull one over on him if he can, but I have some reservations about him being that good this soon after a career focused on slightly shorter distances.

4) Prayer for Relief - Rafael Bejarano, 122 lbs, Bob Baffert - Winless in 4 starts this year after a large win streak last year as a three-year-old, the Jump Start colt was runner-up to Morning Line last out in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (II) and has been off the board only twice since breaking his maiden. His Strub Stakes (II) third should be discounted for a rough trip. Getting Bejarano back at last should help, but his works post-Mervyn LeRoy have to draw a big question mark over. He’ll need some time to improve this year and I’m hoping someone made a typo with his weird weight assignment…

5) Kettle Corn - Joel Rosario, 118 lbs, John Sadler - After upsetting Tres Borrachos in the Native Diver (II) last year, the Candy Ride [ARG] son broke poorly to snatch 3rd in the Mervyn LeRoy (II) after a 5-month layoff. He’s been working nicely, including firing a :59 3/5 bullet and a 6-furlong work in 1:12 4/5 at Hollywood most recently. He has some class questions but picks up top jock Joel Rosario who will hopefully pilot him to a very sneaky ride.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Game On Dude

2) Kettle Corn

Nobody has a record of consistency and speed like Game On Dude, who should be right at home back at Hollywood. I like Kettle Corn’s works and possibly closing move at this pace to notch him for second.

Value Pick: Kettle Corn

Much at Stake in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup

On Saturday, Godolphin and Coolmore will send out their armies, Bob Baffert will try to calm himself after his heart attack, and one shall be named the victor of the world’s richest race— the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). While the field lacks a certain Kentucky Derby winner, 14 will vie for the trophy with much at stake— some more than others.

While Bill Mott has expressed confidence in last year’s champion three-year-old filly Royal Delta, the bay daughter of Empire Maker has much to prove as she tries to rebound from a stale loss to Awesome Maria while attempting to become the first female winner of the race. Also trying to master history is Chantal Sutherland, who may have even more at stake as the race’s only other American entry paired with the valiant Game On Dude. It’s no secret that Chantal has been getting fewer mounts these days as horses she has ridden like Utopian and Great Hot [BRZ] have been handed to other riders… including Mike Smith. Ouch. It will be an especially tough pill to swallow should “G.O.D.” fail to make a case for the win; as a big synthetic runner and a key favorite, her one and only big horse at the moment needs to do well for her benefit as well as his own.

I love, of course, the look of high-weight and favorite So You Think [NZ], a Euro grass horse who has been racking up those G1s like nobody’s business and should slide right into the synthetic footing at Meydan with father-son connections Aidan and Joseph O’Brien. Special consideration also due to peaking 4-year-old Master of Hounds, who won at Meydan earlier this month, and last year’s runner-up, Japanese entry Transcend. I’ll also throw a “value pick” bone to Planteur [IRE], to be ridden by Ryan Moore and put back into the classic distance here.

Racing Beat: March 25

As I’m sure everyone had to recently, I agreed to Tumblr’s new privacy policy/rules and gave it a quick read-through. A few things I had to scoff at, including this “guideline”:

Non-Genuine Social Gesture Schemes. Don’t participate in schemes to gain non-genuine gestures like follows or reblogs. Don’t orchestrate or engage in “follow trains,” where users are encouraged to follow lists of other users to gain more followers for themselves. Don’t scatter deceptive links to your blog or Follow pages. Don’t make bulk or indiscriminate use of messaging features like Fan Mail or Asks to bait followers.

LOL, that’s the whole point of Tumblr for so many people. I’m proud to say I’ve never whined for more followers, nor do I ever intend on making something like the Derby Handicap Contest a competition for the most reblogs/likes/follows. That’s just filling our wonderful Internet with more spam, not to mention it’s annoying.

I find it slightly amusing how Larry Jones is pushing to get Havre de Grace a break in the weights for the Apple Blossom Handicap (I). How fair does your proposition sound to other potential contenders who dare challenge the Horse of the Year? Blind Luck got a 2-pound advantage in last year’s DelCap because Grace beat her recently (and pretty easily) while Life At Ten's last G1 was months behind that… THAT is why the handicaps were adjusted that way. Really, had this been the other way around I doubt Grace's connections would be complaining so loudly… not like the racing secretary's going to be listening!

NAME PLAY TIME!: The Lumber Guy is going to the Wood Memorial (I).

Dubai World Cup wish: Chantal and Game On Dude win it. Dubai World Cup prediction: a foreign entry wins it… unless they cut holes in G.O.D.’s blinkers.

Not sure whether or not I like Mark Valeski. Could be I just don’t like his name! :3

The Bernardini spam continues! This time, Better Than Honour, dam of 2 Belmont Stakes winners (Rags to Riches, Jazil) is the victim. Meanwhile, it was announced today that Rachel Alexandra is now in foal to this prolific beast.

That moment I get a comment/message from a well-known industry person:

Looks like Hansen's connections *sort of* listened to me… they're keeping Hansen in Kentucky instead of shipping him back to New York to run in the Blue Grass (II). I'm game!

Alpha is the Mitt Romney of Derby contenders. He *will* run in the Wood Memorial (I) after all now that Hansen’s not going, despite having McLaughlin list the reasons why the Louisiana Derby (II) is the perfect spot. Yada yada yada, you never fooled anyone, dude…

Still can’t get over my excitement about a future Tapit x Zenyatta babeski. Imagine that thing now… gray/roan… precocious… a late burst that kills… after Zazu, would it surprise anyone that Jerry and Ann Moss picked this sire?

If I were to ever feel bad about not doing so well handicapping Santa Anita, I shall remind myself how many freakin’ carryovers happen for the Pick 6 at that god-forsaken race place!

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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