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Racing Beat: March 31

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HAPPY EASTER EVERYPONY! Here’s to hoping I can cash out big-time on post-Easter candy sales this year. I’ll be up early tomorrow anyway.

I heard a number of good things about the sale-topping $1.6 million Bernardini colt at Fasig-Tipton last weekend. Regardless, he’s apt to be another regret for Robert LaPenta. DID YOU LEARN NOTHING FROM BUYING EASTER GIFT? (Although that one only cost him $90k)

I am just about all moved back in at this point, but I have rational fears that my dad will “clean” for me in here so I put a sign on the Derby Handicap prizes that says “DO NOT TOUCH.” What happens? He moves the box out of my room like he was going to do something to it! Yes I just about flipped out on him. Yes, this is the main reason why I can’t wait for the contest to be over. NOTHING IS SAFE HERE!

I ship Black Caviar and Animal Kingdom.

Awesome Feather has a new full brother! EEEEEE

It’s April tomorrow and you know what that means… one more month until May! Oh, and the Derby Dozen profiles. Gotta keep that tradition rolling. I’m thinking Orb will be the first of the top 12 I will cover.

Believe it or not, but yesterday I was actually rooting AGAINST Bourbon Courage in the Nola ‘Cap. I had put down Mark Valeski as my pick to beat Graydar, which he almost did dammit. On that note, I can’t believe the butthead handicappers that were dissing Marky as being “way too slow” to be a factor.

The amount of grr that emanated from my vocal cords when Dubai played the Australia anthem instead of the American one after Animal Kingdom’s win.

My laugh echoed across the seas when He’s Had Enough was sent off at 8-1 odds in the UAE Derby. Time to pack up the tack, people. He’s had enough.

Unlimited Budget vs. Midnight Lucky vs. Dreaming of Julia. This is going to be one delish Oaks.

Part of me is glad I don’t have to handicap the Wood Memorial this week for the Derby Handicap. Verrazano is the big horse of the race and I want to beat him so badly but I don’t know! But Normandy Invasion is still looking scary good… Vyjack too…

There’s a gray two-year-old filly over at Woodbine named No Soup for You (by Alphabet Soup). *adds to virtual stable*

Tweet o’ the Week

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Racing Beat: March 3

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I just got done learning about the Pareto Principle in message design class the other day, also known as the 80-20 rule. It states that you spend 80% of your time/money/energy/other output on 20% of the same people, while the other 20% is spent on the other 80%. Sounds about right for this blog… I give 80% of my energy spent on this blog to text posts which satisfy only about 20% of you, though I think that 20% is a generous estimate. /photo whores

There should be a Midnight Lute named Midnight Loot. I’d like that.

Ok, Vyjack deserved to win the Gotham, but like I said, this Derby trail is largely empty and we don’t see anything until mid to late March when those distances start getting longer. I’ll have more to say once my thoughts settle and I look at my Derby list again this week, but to end things with just a few small words: I hope a gelding wins the Derby.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m waiting with bated breath for the Tampa Bay Derby (II): Purple Egg, Java’s War, Verrazano.

Hooh Why had a date with Leroidesanimaux the other day. Future UNF grass racer.

Another one of my Saratoga ponies wins!: Gunderman won a 9-furlong Gulfstream allowance race yesterday. He finished last in the Palace Malice maiden race at Saratoga in a field that also included Apex and Hightail. He definitely needed more than 6 1/2 furlongs.

Two horse racing tumbleloggers had their birthdays recently: thoughtsonracinglifeandmore (Reinier) and rememberruffian (Paige). Yey!

Derby contender Uncaptured has been looking good in his recent works after a funky little layoff. His qualifying race target? The Spiral. Of course… synthetic…

The only thing I liked about Ive Struck a Nerve handicapping the Risen Star was the fact that his breeder is Brereton Jones, breeder of Mark Valeski and Believe You Can. Pure class obtained without trendy pedigrees more often than not, and proved very well again last week. *Marks down a note* Now for Smitten to make some more magic happen!

Now that Orb has won, I think back to the day I chose to like Violence the best out of that one good Saratoga maiden race. I still like Violence better since I don’t like Malibu Moons. Nope.

Favorite claimer! 7-year-old $5,000 claimer Smarty Bull is set to return to the races under John Servis at Penn National on March 6! She’s the morning line favorite in Race 3.

Look out world, Ruler On Ice is looking fierce to start the year. Glowed in his winning debut allowance and just registered a whopping :57 and change work over Belmont’s training track. Here’s to hoping we’re in for another year of great geldings.

I’m okay with Revolutionary going to the Louisiana Derby (I) as a final prep. The Wood Memorial (I) is just too much bad juju for me to let him go there.

Went the Day Well didn’t run well in his return, but I still maintain that he could have won the Belmont had he not been injured.

Tweet o’ the Week: This should be posted on the wall of every business

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Ten to Watch in 2013

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Not everyone had a good 2012 due to injury, slow goings, illness, you name it. There’s a whole basket of excuses to keep a good horse off a track, but they’re all done in the name of conserving that talent for when the time is right. For these ten, I think 2013 might be their best year yet after warming up a bit this year.

10) Eblouissante - Being Zenyatta’s sister is tough, but this girl looked tough-as-nails in her debut race at Hollywood Park. The nearly-black coming four-year-old looks the part of a promising stakes champion, so let’s hope she bucks that dreary Bernardini curse. I can see her taking up plenty more distance, but I’m particularly interested in how she’ll do on dirt in California.

9) Midnight Transfer - I realize I’m probably full of steam, but I can’t shake the frustration how much this guy was/is still being ignored. He went stale to finish 7th in the Santa Anita Derby (I) and was given time off, and has now recently returned to work and is looking just magical. If you go by bloodlines alone, he looks even better as a four-year-old: by Hard Spun and out of a French Deputy mare. Once an intriguing horse on the Derby trail this year, I’m feeling a big comeback is in store!

8) Saratoga Snacks - Bill Parcell’s New York-bred ridgeling got a slower start than most three-year-old colts, but the son of Tale of the Cat has won 4 times this year and placed once in 5 starts— all over New York’s prestigious circuit. After a close runner-up to Lunar Victory and a most recent win over the unstoppable Saginaw, it’s clear this guy’s on the improve. 2013 could mean a first graded stakes for Snacks, and perhaps something more!

7) Unbridled Command - The Master Command sophomore colt solidified his status as a true contender when he won his fifth straight race last out in the Hollywood Derby (I) under surprisingly long 10-1 odds. I like a number of horses he beat— Grandeur [IRE] and Lucky Chappy [IRE]— so that is even more credit to him. Trainer Thomas Bush is high on how easy he does it, and given how lightly he was pushed this year, I’m expecting a big breakthrough year for this gray colt.

6) Mark Valeski - I’ll admit, I didn’t like this colt from Larry Jones’s barn immediately, but he has a heck of a work ethic and was on the edge of really proving himself when he was sidelined from the Kentucky Derby. He validated his connections’ reservations by snatching a well-deserved break winning the Peter Pan (II) before being sidelined again with injury. By Proud Citizen and one of Rosie Napravnik’s true golden rides, he has G1 potential written all over and looks to ready to roll back on the track with bullet breezes.

5) Graydar - The Unbridled’s Song colt was off for most of the year after snuffing out Eight Belles’ full brother at Gulfstream in the spring, but since his recent return he’s been looking better than ever on the heels of his four-year-old year. He went to the front early last out in a mile-long test at Gulfstream, winning by 4 1/4 lengths and just missing the great Commentator’s track mark by .01 seconds! Not bad for a first start off a 3 month layoff! And nobody huff at me that track records don’t mean anything… I began liking Fort Larned after he busted one at Gulfstream, as well!

4) Paynter - The G1-winning son of Awesome Again looked compelling beating up the Haskell field, and by his stunning rate of improvement, looked like the kind of horse we never see anymore: a classic, distance-loving, beats-everything-on-four-legs type. Expected to continue training with Baffert in the coming days, I hope he’s got plenty of fight left in him after his laminitis-colitis battle.

3) Applauding - The Florida-bred daughter of Congrats set the racing world ablaze when she rewrote Keeneland’s 6-furlong mark in her debut win, driving home to win by a gob-smacking 9 lengths. She laid off and raced just once this year, maintaining her spotless record going wire-to-wire in a 6-furlong Churchill allowance. Seeing how much I liked another Congrats filly in Turbulent Descent when that one was just 2 and went on to win much, I have some right to excitement.

2) Mucho Macho Man - Too gangly to get my vote when he ran all three Triple Crown races, Mucho looked outstanding all filled out as a four-year-old. While he won a great deal of races and in impressive style, I think he’s got something better in the tank. Kathy Ritvo knows how this colt ticks and I am lying in wait for a G1 year for this guy in 2013!

1) Animal Kingdom - Must I elaborate? Graham Motion has called the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner the best horse he’s ever trained, and well, Animal looks and acts like this is truth. A horse that cantered to an allowance victory, he injured himself again but re-emerged in the fall as the showstopping runner-up in the super tough Breeders’ Cup Mile. Dare I say, he stole the show from Wise Dan, who looks to be crowned Horse of the Year soon. I expect nothing less than roses for what I believe is the world’s greatest active racehorse. He does it all, and so brilliantly.

Racing Beat: December 2

The worst part about not having a laptop for the whole week? Not being able to update the weekend’s Racing Beat as thoughts come to me. Or, well, at least it’s one of the many worst parts about not having a laptop/accessible Internet. /dies

Smart Bid's to be a New York stallion. Yay and nay at the same time… he IS a 6-year-old this year and has some nice wins to his credit.

I’m not totally sure why some people are appalled that horses get electroshock therapy. I’m sure these offended persons are the same folks who think it’s abusive when we vacuum one of our horses. (She really likes it)

I should have guessed that Toby’s Corner was done after an unremarkable comeback from his poorly-timed injury last year. Not the prettiest horse, but I had him in my WinStar fantasy Derby stable and oh man, was I rollin’ in it when he beat Uncle Mo in the $1 million Wood Memorial. Mwahahaha. We’ll miss ya, Tobes, have fun in Japan.

YAY GULFSTREAM MEET’S ON! It’s like a fast, New York god-tier track set up in Florida.

He’s still got it: Game On Dude comes on again to flick away Nonios twice in the same race!

Overdriven goes the way of Bodemeister and retires with a shoulder injury. Seriously I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really that bad or if they really think they can turn a profit on a horse that has only won as a juvenile. I dislike most of Repole’s horses by natural instinct, but even I would have given him a chance. He works super nice and has some nice distance pedigree.

Confession: I didn’t care for Dance Card over Questing [GB] until I found out she was gray. OHMAIGURSH!

Mark Valeski needs to return already. Teeth of the Dog, too. Don’t get me started on Graham Motion teasing me with photos of Went the Day Well on the training track. #sigh #4yearolds2013

Well that had to be the shortest reign ever, Solemia.

Hope Damon Thayer lives up to expectations in the Kentucky Senate /boringpoliticalmentions

So much for the Clark Handicap! I saw you racing in the grass-bound Hollywood Derby (I), Golden Ticket! What gives! What you doing there? You know you can’t catch Unbridled Command! (Whom I’m shocked got away with 7-1 odds! And my own favorite Lucky Chappy [IRE] at a whopping 15-1! Missed huge betting opportunity for sure…)

For once, I actually agree with someone on DRF. Of course it’s Mike Watchmaker.

I’m glad I got to see Rule before he retired to stud, also in New York at Vinery. Not the most amazing runner, but he was so darn cute.

Gulfstream’s giving away 50 opportunities to “Meet Little Mike" for donating a dollar to charity. Gosh you Californian peeps got him for free before his Breeders’ Cup win, now it’s gonna cost you…

Tweet o’ the Week: A worthy wager

Early Haskell Buzz for Who?

He may not have won the Derby or the Preakness (and some of you would say that he never would have and was soundly beaten by I’ll Have Another), but Bodemeister would have been the horse to beat in the Haskell Invitational (I), had he not been stricken with illness. Belmont winner Union Rags, a likely candidate to close into Bode’s fantastic fractions, is also out due to a suspensory injury.

Who does that leave in what will be a rather unexciting Haskell?

Hansen, who has a lot of work to do in redeeming himself as a top three-year-old fallen from grace, is now 60-70% likely to enter the Haskell, with priority originally given to the lighter West Virginia Derby (II). Trainer Mike Maker has commented that the colt has matured quite a bit from his rank prep days leading up to the Derby, where he finished an unimpressive 10th. He is certainly ready for a big race following his public workout in the Iowa Derby (III), which he won by an easy 10 lengths.

Zayat Stables is also listing Bodemeister’s talented stablemate as a possible for the race. Paynter nearly wired the Belmont Stakes (I) and has been an impeccable horse from the get-go. Dare I say, he is more mentally capable than Hansen, and can probably beat the Great White Hope should he elect to sit off the pace.

Throwing in a third option and a name I have brought up many times before as someone I like: Street Life. I can’t help but think Street Sense is a good enough sire to get a G1 with one of his progeny this year, and Street Life might just be up to the task. Starting from the rail in the Belmont, he got off to a bad start and was too far behind the field to do better than a modest fourth. He nearly snuffed out Mark Valeski in the Peter Pan (II) before that, and had he not been on the far outside, I think he would have won that race. Obviously, things have to go right for him, but the pace has the possibility of working in his favor.

There’s little to dissuade me from siding with Bodemeister as the potential winner and very possible best three-year-old of 2012. For how lightly raced he is, he has sure done a lot to impress us and often times, good three-year-olds can become great three-year-olds come summertime. We saw it happen with Stay Thirsty as well as Coil just to name two non-classic winners who won prestigious summer stakes races. Now that Bode will be skipping the Haskell, it’s just a question of how and when he’ll get that one prep before the Travers.

Weekend Stake Tip:

Weekend Stake Tip has returned after a short(ish) hiatus. I’ve been betting sparingly, winning on two races I wagered last week, nothing on Derby weekend, and finished just about even for Arkansas Derby weekend with a little on Bodemeister (3-1). A lot of horses were running just barely short of expectations… Ron the Greek, Cozzetti, Drill… and after the Grand National tragedy I took it as a sign I should lay low a while. Didn’t do too much betting over the weekend, but of course had to wager some dough on Peter Pan (II) after my handicapping preview. I cashed in pretty well:  a $5 win ticket on Mark Valeski (6-5) and a $2 show on Street Life (13-1)… sorry, I can’t help but root for a closing Street Sense boy, who predictably had a dream setup with all that speed. Value pick Good Morning Diva came driving in for fourth.

The Peter Pan (II) did not appear to produce any Belmont hopefuls as it customarily does on occasion, with a lot of speed showing up all the way around Old Sandy. Despite an affection for Eoin Harty and Chris Clemente trainees, I steered clear and went with the classiest horse in the field Mark Valeski, who surprisingly stayed well clear of the hot pace set by Harty trainee and rail horse Right to Vote. The Political Force gelding may have been runner-up, but even Tom Durkin noted how well he did in his comeback and without race-day medication. Mark Valeski passed him in the stretch to log his first graded stakes win, but Right to Vote was certainly added to some people’s watch lists. Street Life also showed some spunk and may have even won had he not broken from the far outside— classic material, oh yeah. Watch replay below

Racing Beat: May 13

The Racing Beat is back after a Derby-influenced hiatus! And Winter Memories won her first start of the year!

Reason #12000 why I would make a good horse racing spokeslady: I’ve been around Spanish communities and people long enough to know how to pronounce the jockeys’ names properly and understand their broken, heavily-accented English. It’s not Mar-tin Garcia, it’s Mar-teen Garcia.

The Derby broadcast was not as delicious as I felt it could possibly be. Couple that with the obvious lack of expertise by NBC Sports (camera pans to talk about a specific contender and films El Padrino getting his tongue tied) and I feel slighted.

I keep hearing that people supposedly all supported Union Rags because they thought he was the next Barbaro. Nope, not for me anyways. I supported him on paper, sight unseen, because I have such tremendous faith in Matz as a trainer. He doesn’t have a super popular pedigree i.e. Bernardini, A.P. Indy, Giant’s Causeway, Empire Maker. He was bred in Pennsylvania on a small-scale farm. He’s big, magnificent, and always tries hard. Barbaro had nothing to do with it.

I am absolutely crushed that Pluck is not returning to racing, even more so they’re sending him to stand in Australia.

GO BODE GO!

One more month until the mighty Belmont Stakes and I could not be more excited about going. Possibly Union Rags and AlphaDullahan… I really wish Team Valor had saved Went the Day Well for this specific race, as well.

Tweet O’ the Week:

Stanley Gold is back at his stomping grounds at Calder doing what he does best: winning! Great job to a horse who had a rough spring, Fort Loudon!

Mark Valeski has a new fan: me! Rosie’s going to have her best year yet with Larry Jones’ horses.

Yummy With Butter has some competition as the best racehorse name ever: Hastings standout Spaghetti Mouse.

I’m in the process of reading as much as I can about the usage of furosemides (Lasix/Salix) in horse racing. As of right now, I am all for a gradual pull-out from race-day medications, but would like to learn as much as possible as I continue to form a personal opinion on the matter.

Improving Hopefuls Set to Go in Peter Pan

The Peter Pan Stakes (II) at Belmont has been a springboard for developing horses such as last year’s winner Alternation, a now-four-year-old who has been unstoppable in this year’s handicaps. A nice full field should be showing up for this year’s rendition, with shipper and Derby dropout Mark Valeski ready to start taking names as he attacks a distance that should be to his liking. I’d like to comment in advance that this is a pretty nice field in comparison to other years, but what in the hay was the racing secretary on assigning some of these weights?!

$200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (II) - 3-Year-Olds. 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Belmont Park. Post Time: Saturday, May 12 at 5:06pm EST.

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

1) Right to Vote - Alex Solis, 116 lbs, Eoin Harty - A Political Force gelding I haven’t heard much from since he hit up New York as a juvenile, Right to Vote got back on his feet in his only start this year at Gulfstream, cruising just off the lead to nab the win by a head in a 6 1/2 furlong allowance. He was solid at Belmont last year, taking third in the Champagne (I) behind Union Rags and Alpha, but this one will need a little extra time at minimum.

2) The Lumber Guy - Michael Luzzi, 120 lbs, Michael Hushion - The dizzying winner of the Jerome Stakes (II) last out at Aqueduct, the 1 1/8 mile Wood Memorial (I) proved to be a bad showing for the front-running son of Grand Slam. He’s been breezing at his usual winning pace at Belmont, and looks like he could possibly get another furlong or two, but the Jerome wasn’t run against anyone too brilliant (at all) and he’ll be back to rubbing elbows with better horses.

3) Zetterholm - Junior Alvarado, 116 lbs, Rick Dutrow - With 3 wins in 4 starts this year including a 2-length win in the Patsyprospect Stakes at Aqueduct, Dutrow is stepping things up for the Silver Train colt who he would have preferred to start in the Preakness (I) should room be made. His works have been decent and he’s being stretched out from his one-mile stakes win as a closer who gets the job done in the stretch. The Lumber Guy and Mark Valeski should set up a hot pace for this one.

4) Le Bernardin - Eddie Castro, 116 lbs, Kiaran McLaughlin - A $325k yearling purchase, the Bernardini colt owned by Darley broke his maiden on his second try and followed it up with a nearly 2-length allowance win at a mile over older horses, with all starts at neighboring Aqueduct. With no brilliant works and no juvenile racing foundation, combined with the Bernardini expectations I’ll throw this one in the “won’t improve significantly until summer at best” pile.

5) Mark Valeski - Rosie Napravnik, 116 lbs, Larry Jones - Perhaps one of the most underrated three-year-olds on the Derby trail, the Proud Citizen colt scared favorite El Padrino in the Risen Star (II) when second by a dueling nose and was runner-up again to Hero of Order during an “off day” in the Louisiana Derby (II) as the favorite. Originally meant for the Kentucky Derby (I), Jones decided to shelve him after some brilliant works at Churchill with the sentiment he wasn’t 110% fired up to give it his all for another week or two. I loved Mark Valeski’s works at Churchill, and the look of him gave me confidence despite not liking him that much during the prep season. With Napravnik and 116 lbs, I’m ready to see a breakthrough stakes win for this colt.

6) Good Morning Diva - Julien Leparoux, 120 lbs, Timothy Hills - 5th in the Swale (III), the Lion Heart colt bounced back to win the Calder Derby last out stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, battling Big Screen all alone up front to win by a neck as the favorite. His works have been steady ones aimed to stretch out, but I have some concerns for his confidence. He doesn’t seem to do too well when he’s outkicked at the start, and there are some very fast horses here who will push him out of his comfort zone.

7) Hakama - John Velazquez, 116 lbs, Michael Trombetta - The First Samurai colt was a victim of racing luck in the Illinois Derby (III), traveling 7-wide after a bumpy trip to take third. Before that, he was beaten a head by Raconteur in the Private Term Stakes. Works at Fair Hill have been very good and barring trouble, Hakama should have a shot to get up there… if he’s good for the distance, might be another story entirely.

8) Big Screen - Rajiv Maragh, 116 lbs, Thomas Albertrani - The pedigree of this Speightstown reads “speed demon,” though he has yet to have a win this year out of 3 starts, his best being 2 seconds to Good Morning Diva in the Calder Derby and Heavy Breathing in an allowance where he was rank early on. He has matured slowly and picks up a new jockey and trainer, but has yet to showcase the kind of works I would expect from him at this point. Put him on the wait-and-see list.

9) Master Rick - Corey Nakatani, 120 lbs, Steve Asmussen - A Master Command who finally found his running gear, Master Rick snapped his maiden only in March, but did so by more than 5 lengths over 1 1/16 miles and followed that win up with an upset over G1 winner Drill in the mile-long, ungraded Northern Spur Stakes. Breezing his usual steady works, I like the look and feel of this rising star who is ready to peak for the class and slight distance bump here.

10) Teeth of the Dog - Joe Bravo, 116 lbs, Michael Matz - Toteboard finishes line this late-blooming Bluegrass Cat colt’s record this year, marked by a longshot show performance in the Wood Memorial (I) behind Gemologist and Alpha gaining ground late. He should be given ample credit for the wide, late Wood trip seeing as he only broke his maiden in February. The distance will be to his liking and judging by his drills he’s ready for a good performance.

11) Summer Front - Ramon Dominguez, 120 lbs, Chris Clement - The War Front colt just made his first start of the year recently when finishing a sharp second in the Lexington Stakes (III), and will be hitting the dirt for the first time here. He doesn’t strike me as a horse who should be a typical threat in this scenario, but I do like Clement’s style and this colt in particular impressed me a lot on the grass last year. Considering he should keep improving off that runner-up in the Lexington, there’s legroom for upset.

12) Street Life - Jose Lezcano, 116 lbs, Chad Brown - The late-rushing winner of the Broad Brush Stakes, the Street Sense colt broke poorly in the Wood Memorial (I) and flattened out to finish 6th. He’ll be donning blinkers for the first time. He’s been breezing at Belmont for some time preparing for this race, but with the funny outside post, this likely won’t be his comeback day.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Mark Valeski

2) Teeth of the Dog

3) Master Rick

4) Summer Front

Value Pick(s): Good Morning Diva, Master Rick

Big shame he was scratched yesterday… Larry Jones talks Mark Valeski's chances in the Kentucky Derby and compares him to Hard Spun. Real nice horse, and I do love the way he takes then spits out the treat at the end. He worked a sharp :59 3/5 at Churchill.

WOW…

109-1 HERO OF ORDER won the $1 million Louisiana Derby (II) today. Who saw that one coming?

I was personally thinking the Risen Star (II) probably took too much out of Mark Valeski for him to win, and the fast pace would set up for a closing horse like Rousing Sermon, but wow, this is just too funny. Hero of Order walloped Mark Valeski by a bigger gap than El Padrino. Me thinks all these jockeys were too lax this weekend watching only one or two horses they *thought* could beat theirs. That’s what the longshots are expecting them to do when they pull one over on them!

Now, not saying I think Hero of Order has a real shot at the Kentucky Derby, but I can’t stop laughing at the fact he’s won $600,000 at such enormous odds. Kind of wish a few more better horses were in the field today that could have used those earnings…

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


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