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Who were you cheering on when the gates opened that first Saturday in May? My Kentucky Derby horses throughout the years (Tumblr has a dumb limit of 10 photos):

  • 2013: Normandy Invasion (4th)
  • 2012: Union Rags (7th)
  • 2011: Nehro (2nd)
  • 2010: Ice Box (2nd)
  • 2009: Desert Party (14th)
  • 2008: Big Brown (1st)
  • 2007: Street Sense (1st)
  • 2006: Steppenwolfer (3rd)
  • 2005: N/A, I don’t think I followed the race that year for whatever reason
  • 2004: Action This Day (6th)
  • 2003: Empire Maker (2nd)

Not pictured: 2002 - War Emblem (1st), who ran in the first Derby I ever watched.

Racing Beat: May 11

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After a Derby week and recovery time/finals time hiatus, Racing Beat is back to clog up your sluggish Sunday feed!

How cool would it be if Pletcher entered Dreaming of Julia in the Belmont? He commented she wouldn’t be ready for a Preakness run after the Oaks soooo maybe another Rags to Riches attempt? YES PLEASE. (Two-weeks-later-edit: Seems my dreams of Julia is going to happen! Aw yeah!)

Poor Hollywood Park. If I do indeed get that full-time spot in the coming weeks like I hope, I may think about going out there just so I can soak in one of Zenyatta's old stomping grounds before they tear it down. *Sigh* Who's good at finding good cheap flights?

Oh Godolphin, getting desperate are we? Still, that was the quickest sentencing I’ve seen… why can’t we do that in the States?

One of the nice things about the Doug O’Neill camp is how much they believe in their horses and are all too willing to send in a possible bomber. But Handsome Mike to Royal Ascot? Against Shea Shea? *shrugs*

If I can save enough money, I have big Saratoga plans this year that involve me staying overnight here. *squee*

A full sister to 2007 Kentucky Derby winner/handsome stud Street Sense has been foaled at Darley America. Unf.

I feel like registering for a 5K mud race after the Kentucky Derby so I can pretend to be Orb mwahahaha if only those poseur races weren’t flipping expensive I might be more serious discussing this.

My mind has been off how Power Broker is moving forward and concentrating more on when Rolling Fog is coming back. Add Power Broker to the Belmont possibles list as well after his recent comeback win.

Some find the Ramsey family to be obnoxious or annoying, but let’s reward them for the fact that they claimed back their gelding Pleasant Prince recently, a recognizable older horse that has made appearances in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon as well as the Classic in the past.

Sweet baby Atigun won his race, but sweet baby Java’s War was dusted. So much sad THIS IS JULIEN’S FAULT YES THAT’S IT.

Add Freedom Child to your watch list for the Belmont Stakes as well as Tenango, who isn’t an “official” possible yet but one can assume things…

Rest in peace to Nehro, my beloved 2011 Kentucky Derby horse I really wanted to see in person, and to Chilled, the “savage” horse who was DQ’d to second in this famous 2012 photo.

Tweet o’ the Week: I love her already (by Istan)

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My 2011 Kentucky Derby horse: Nehro, who finished 2nd.
It was my first time trying to legitimately handicap the Derby, and overall, not a bad job! Nehro became my horse after his rushing 2nd in the Arkansas Derby (I). He showed great tenacity when almost-beating my pick Archarcharch, who unfortunately drew the rail post in the Derby. It kind of sucked not being able to go to the Belmont that year because I wanted to see “my” horse as well as Animal Kingdom in the flesh, but hey maybe someday he’ll show up again around here! (Photo Courtesy of Zayat Stables)

My 2011 Kentucky Derby horse: Nehro, who finished 2nd.

It was my first time trying to legitimately handicap the Derby, and overall, not a bad job! Nehro became my horse after his rushing 2nd in the Arkansas Derby (I). He showed great tenacity when almost-beating my pick Archarcharch, who unfortunately drew the rail post in the Derby. It kind of sucked not being able to go to the Belmont that year because I wanted to see “my” horse as well as Animal Kingdom in the flesh, but hey maybe someday he’ll show up again around here! (Photo Courtesy of Zayat Stables)

Hear Me Out…

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I’m bored to death in film class (already know dis shtuff) and am overtired… PERFECT TIME FOR A HEAR THE GHOST APPRECIATION POST!

  • Dad is Ghostzapper, who is one fast po-nay
  • Grandpops is Awesome Again, who I love pretty obviously [clicky]. THAT MAKES HIM RELATED TO GAME ON DUDE AND AWESOME FEATHER!
  • He’s a gelding. NEVER RETIRE NEVERRRR
  • Time for Hollendorfer to win the Derby. I still kind of die thinking about Blind Luck retiring  prematurely.
  • Nobody is REALLY talking about him yet. I like unpopular things.
  • He’s like a male look-alike version of Contested (related, weirdly enough) who I picked to win a couple of races too:

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  • He was a cute hunk of a baby:

  • He’s chestnut, which is the very best color
  • Nakatani owes me money after losing on Nehro.

Racing Beat: December 23

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It’s the last Racing Beat of the year! Thank you for reading my blurbs!

I know he had a fan or two around here: the speedy Jocosity is off the Derby trail with a recent knee chip.

The Pletchers of spring keep coming back! Today Heavy Breathing makes his return in Gulfstream’s 9th.

Thesis: WinStar agrees to expand their roster to the Zayats’ Pioneerof the Nile and Maimonides to a) make nice for future Zayat powerhouses that will retire to stud… Nehro's likely going to have just one more year should he return as expected, and b) because Pioneer's rate is bound to go up some more with his first crop hitting the track in 2013.

I’m thinking about faraway Kentucky Derbies already with G1-winning Tapit daughter Stardom Bound's big, roan, Big Brown colt!

Bloodlines can be overpriced: Empire Way has 1 win to his 12-race record (a 6 1/2 furlong maiden special weight at Hollywood Park over 4 others), but as Royal Delta's full brother, he opens his book at $5,000.

What a perfect present for the racing world: Paynter's been cleared to resume training!

I’m going to make an earnest effort to start painting again. I bought a canvas this week with the decision to try to paint Trinniberg's portrait, namely because I think he's a cool horse and looks like he'd be fun to do with his unique face and the bright red and yellow he has on his bridle.

It was love at first sight and is ironically one of my favorite boys’ names as well: the first racehorse I ever “officially” saw raced on Thursday. Alejandro, a now 4-year-old gelding by Alex’s Pal, ran 3rd in a Gulfstream Park claimer. I saw him as a two-year-old running his race from the Calder parking lot while trying to figure out how the hell to get to the grandstand. He ran last that day.

Lasix is a non-issue. It didn’t impact the predicted results of the Breeders’ Cup juvenile races, just the size of the fields. I don’t see how it’s a voting problem.

I wonder if and when Horse Greeley will get some credit as a sire. Still $2,500.

The squealing three-year-old gelding Sacred Tradition was finally adopted!

With his brother retired, I’m looking hard at Elnaawi, the half brother of To Honor and Serve by Street Sense. He’s been working really nicely for a once-run two-year-old under Kieran McLaughlin so far. Much like his brother, he’s less-than-twelving his eighths without pressure! I hope to see him do well on the New York trail.

It has occurred to me that I should have gone with more of my “heart” picks during the Breeders’ Cup… long-time love “Tap Tap” aka Tapizar won the Dirt Mile, one of the first sons of probably my most UNF-tastic stallions Henrythenavigator won the Juvenile Turf, another Tapit baby nearly knocked off Shanghai Bobby, and Calder pony Trinniberg won the Sprint.

Tweet o’ the Week

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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…

Tough Field Lines Up for Stephen Foster

The male handicap division has been deep this year, but this will mark the first occasion that the unstoppable Wise Dan meets Alternation, who has been building up a pile of wins this year as a four-year-old seeking his first G1 pass. However, neither will have an easy task: 6 other worthy hopefuls aim to upset, and there’s plenty of potential for that in the Downs. I picked last year’s winner, Pool Play, at fantastic 34-1 odds!

Successful Dan has been counted out of the lineup as replacement for Wise Dan in the unlikely event he should scratch. Forecast looks hot and sunny.

$400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (I) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs. Post Time: Saturday, June 16 at 9:39pm EST.

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

1) Nates Mineshaft - Jesse Campbell, 118 lbs, Austin Smith - The Mineshaft son caught fire this year back-to-back graded stakes, but followed that with a disappointing 6th at Churchill in the Alysheba (II) while being held back. He won the Lone Star Handicap (II) last out by 7 1/4 lengths and is in fighting trim as the likely pacesetter. His one and only Churchill start— and on the rail— did not offer him a smooth trip, and this front runner will need a super fast track and lots of luck. His last work over the main wasn’t that great.

2) Fort Larned - Julien Leparoux, 117 lbs, Ian Wilkes - The E Dubai colt has yet to gain much respect, reeling off a clear, record-breaking win in the Skip Away Stakes (III) at 1 3/16 miles followed by a runner-up finish in the Alysheba (II). 5-furlong breezes have remained consistent, and he deserves a look as a skilled pacestalker.

3) Wise Dan - John Velazquez, 123 lbs, Charles Lopresti - The Wiseman’s Ferry gelding can do it all: turf, dirt, synthetic and in winning fashion. He has won his past 3 graded stakes by a combined 18 lengths and has flattened plenty of excellent horses along the way. Lopresti has Wise Dan wound up nicely for this effort, and I expect to see something wonderful from him.

4) Nehro - Corey Nakatani, 116 lbs, Steve Asmussen - The Zayat-owned Mineshaft colt has been pushing hard for his first stakes win, hitting the wire of the Pimlico Special (III) just a head bob away from it last out going 5-wide. He’s in peak condition with a 7-pound advantage over Wise Dan and 6 from Alternation. A fast pace will help this eager closer.

5) Ron the Greek - Jose Lezcano, 119 lbs, Bill Mott - The Full Mandate son already has a G1 to his credit this year in a very strangely-run Santa Anita Handicap (I), and other than Wise Dan, is the lone G1 winner in this field. A gradual closer with no Churchill experience, but with the track leading Mott in charge, he’ll benefit from the reduced weight but has a lot of question marks hanging over how good his form really is.

6) Rogue Romance - Manoel Cruz, 115 lbs, Ken McPeek - The Smarty Jones colt stopped running to finish dead-last in Wise Dan’s eye-popping Ben Ali (III) score, but has a good history at Churchill Downs. He is fresh off a confidence boosting allowance score at Churchill, winning by 5 to dismiss any fitness doubts. The G3 winner lacks the credentials to pose as a sound bet for this race, but put him on the up-and-up list.

7) Mission Impazible - Javier Castellano, 116 lbs, Todd Pletcher - “Happy-go-unlucky” best describes this Unbridled’s Song gelding, who finished a wide, eased 4th last out in the Pimlico Special and sports mostly board finishes in a millionaire career. He finished second in last year’s Stephen Foster as well as this past Clark Handicap to Wise Dan. He makes excellent efforts in top company, but of course doesn’t like to win too often. I don’t see much here that shows a potential breakthrough.

8) Alternation - Luis Quinonez, 122 lbs, Donnie Von Hemel - The Distorted Humor son has been cooking since turning 4, reeling off 4 wins in 4 starts with 3 of those wins being graded. He appears to be a fan of running towards the front end of things, but may have his work cut out for him this time with second-highest weight and a deeper field. He was all-out to win the Pimlico Special, and honestly looks a bit dulled lately.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Wise Dan

2) Nates Mineshaft

3) Nehro

4) Fort Larned

A very tough race to handicap. Wise Dan shows no sign of slowing down and is the best horse of the group. Versatile Nates Mineshaft excels out on the lead, which he should roll with again in this race to hold off the talented closers.

Value Pick(s): Nates Mineshaft

Racing Beat: May 20

I’ll Have Another is certainly living up to his name… winning 4 races in a row, all graded stakes!

The Bernardini spam continues: dam of Mine That Bird and Dullahan, Mining My Own, was bred to the big brown beast as announced by Darley. What happened to breeding to the obscure?! Starting a pool now that it won’t make the Derby/Oaks field.

Get well soon, Paddy O’Prado. We need pretty ponies.

Emirates Park Stud in Australia bought half of BC Mile winner Artie Schiller from WinStar. I wonder which half.

Chantal Sutherland could learn more than a thing or two from Rosie Napravnik.

Ten in a row for Frankel, firing me up for what might be one of the most memorable Royal Ascot meets ever.

Now this is the people’s horse!: Il Vilano let several children pet him in the paddock before winning the Chick Lang Stakes.

I’m a bit sad I likely won’t get to see the legendary Kent Desormeaux at Belmont. His fault, not mine.

Would it be okay for the racing gods to let Nehro win a stakes?

I’m going to marry Mario Gutierrez, just so you all know.

Preakness Day aka D. Wayne Lukas Is Back From the Dead Day: I was going for the two horses who finished second to Skyring and Hamazing Destiny, but dang. Is this a sign of the end of the world, or the beginning of beautiful things for the legend?

Tweet o’ the Week:

It would probably be considered bad juju if I started rooting for I’ll Have Another in the Belmont. Therefore, I will keep hollering for Union Rags like the blind ignoramus I am!

OH MY GOD WINTER MEMORIES IS GOING TO BE RUNNING ON BELMONT DAY. Note to self: bring extra clean underwear.

Alternation Wants His Fourth Straight in Pimlico Special

Preakness Saturday may be feeling a little light when it comes to its feature race (how many Derby runners are skipping it now?), but the undercard race for older horses at the same distance is as steep in talent as it is in history. The Pimlico Special features the return of 6 stakes winners, a Kentucky Derby runner-up, and a whole lot of handicapping value. It returns for the first time since 2008 and has been won by multiple champions such as Skip Away, Invasor [ARG], Cigar, Real Quiet, and of course, Seabiscuit.

Six graded stakes winners of varying abilities will be stepping it up to see who can last the full 1 3/16 mile distance of the Special.

$300,000 Pimlico Special (III) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 3/16 miles on dirt at Pimlico Racecourse. Post Time: Saturday, May 18 at 5:51pm EST.

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

1) Toby’s Corner - Eddie Castro, 118 lbs, Graham Motion - Last year’s Wood Memorial (I) winner, the Bellamy Road colt has had a rocky return to the races after an injury ended his Triple Crown hopes. He was 3rd after a rough trip to Yawanna Twist in the General George (III) carrying 4 additional pounds to the winner, but had a good rebound in the New Orleans (II) behind romping winner Nates Mineshaft and Mission Impazible. He lost that start by nearly 11 lengths, but his works are starting to look up if he can avoid getting pinched at the start. Has never finished off the board.

2) Endorsement - Martin Garcia, 124 lbs, Eoin Harty - No Lasix and fresh off a huge comeback as the winner in the Texas Mile (III), the Distorted Humor son has been a hardy competitor winning 4 races and placing in 3 out of 8 total career starts at various distances and kinds of trips and gets some star power with Garcia in the irons. This will be a big step up class-wise for Endorsement, who has yet to really tangle with graded winners, but he should be improving just enough to want to spring to the front.

3) Cease - Rosie Napravnik, 124 lbs, Albert Stall - Loved this War Chant son last year leading up to the Hawthorne (III), and he’s been strong at those distance races with a 5th in this past BC Marathon (II) and a flawless win in the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Park over 1 1/8 miles. Not a fast mover and will need a fast pace to get going.

4) Hymn Book - John Velazquez, 124 lbs, Claude McGaughey - The rallying cry of this Arch gelding rang true when he won the Donn Handicap (I), but did not last as he flattened out to finish 4th in the Oaklawn Handicap (II). Strong, speedy, short works have him ready to fire when needed, and his running style suits this race nicely.

5) Cherokee Artist - Victor Santiago, 118 lbs, John Robb -  The most experienced horse in the field with 34 starts featuring 8 wins, he has won twice this year already over 1 1/16 miles at Laurel Park by 4 lengths and another at Pimlico by 8. He lost the Harrison Memorial Stakes by a short head dueling Eighttofasttocatch, presenting some real class issues.

6) Nehro - Corey Nakatani, 118 lbs, Steve Asmussen - If I made a list of my favorites still running, this Mineshaft colt would be somewhere near the top. A handy winner of his comeback in an allowance, he puttered out in the Oaklawn Handicap (II), going wide early on to finish 6th. His works have remained consistent. A classy horse gets a weight break and a chance to prove himself trying yet again to win his first stakes. It may be just a G3, but Nehro has a lot to get done on the way up.

7) Mission Impazible - Javier Castellano, 118 lbs, Todd Pletcher - Awesome all the way, the gutsy Unbridled’s Song gelding has had two near-misses this year against some of the best: Hymn Book in the Donn Handicap (II) and Nates Mineshaft in the New Orleans Handicap (II) and was second last year to the record-cracking Wise Dan in the Clark (I). He’s started 17 times, but has won only 3 times— thus, making the case for board-hitting. His form so far this year has been excellent, however, with a recent 5-furlong bullet in :59 1/2. Look out!

8) Yawanna Twist - Mike Luzzi, 118 lbs, John Parisella - The Yonaguska son has been having a sharp 2012, winning an allowance by almost 7 lengths and following it up with a strong win in the General George (III). He faded a bit in his last race in the Oaklawn Handicap (II), where he was a pace-pusher who held on for third. With a bullet :59 1/5 work and strong form, he’s definitely worth a look despite having just won his first graded win in February.

9) Alternation - Luis Quinonez, 124 lbs, Donnie Von Hemel - Unstoppable this year, the Distorted Humor colt has been 3-for-3 in stakes races including the Oaklawn Handicap (II) over several members in this field. He would have few excuses here to do poorly with his running style and post position right next to the speedy Yawanna Twist, and has had a really nice blast over Pimlico in :48 3/5.

10) Eighttofasttocatch - Sheldon Russell, 124 lbs, Timothy Keefe - Hitting and missing and losing Rosie Napravnik to Cease, the Not for Love gelding sports an incredible 33 starts with 10 wins. He won his last start by a head over Cherokee Artist in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial, which may have been the kiss of death with the extra pounds as well as the far outside post. Bound to be the pacemaker who will try to outlast the field.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Mission Impazible

2) Alternation

3) Hymn Book

4) Toby’s Corner

Value Pick(s): Toby’s Corner, Yawanna Twist

I mean, personally, I had an exacta with AK/PoF just because Rosie is so damn hot. But I also had my other exacta with AK/Nehro becausYew the AK/PoF pair was a stretch. Haha. You're not wrong about the name thing, though. As much as I know about racing, I always seem to pinpoint a certain horse I want to win just based on the name. It's hard to back a horse with a stupid name.

Asked by hansenforpresident-deactivated2

Send me your Kentucky Derby picks then? ;)

I’m guilty of the same thing, even after much time spent strategically handicapping. It’s not very often I’ll back a horse whosnamelookslikethis (I hate that) or is just so blatantly boring. It’s not that terrible of a strategy though— nobody will waste an awesome name on a horse they think is going to be bad.

And then there’s the names influenced by their parents I love… GO YUMMY WITH BUTTER! (dam is Sophisticatedbagel wahahaha)

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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