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Racing Beat: September 1


I’m sad to report that this blog will be affected by the Tumblr epidemic known as backtoschoolitis as of September 5. I promise I’ll get vaccinated for next year.

Yeah, sure, the Jockey Club Gold Cup will be a great prep for Cross Traffic… do it… I’ll get fantastic odds on the real winner!

I don’t normally talk about follower counts, but I’ve been gaining between 1 and 5 *every* day since my Saratoga trip. I blame the original photos. Hi everyone and thank you! I’m always pining for new pony paparazzi adventures! Currently on the calendar: Belmont’s Super Saturday on September 28, the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in November, and a visit to Sequel Stallions— home of Freud, Bluegrass Cat, and many others— in January!

What happened to War Academy?

Expedia has been bribing me all month with flight deals… every single roundtrip flight from Hartford, CT to Ft. Lauderdale, FL has been under $200 heading into November, which is a peak travel time for snowbirds. Let’s hope it stays that way for Florida Derby time! INEVITABLE SKY TRIP!

Female jockey power: newcomer Janelle Campbell rode Makeitorbreakit to a 70-1 upset at Suffolk Downs this week.

That card at Saratoga yesterday was the worst excuse for a Saturday lineup I’ve seen in quite a while with the most backwards [at least in long-term legitimacy] results. That’s okay though, it’ll skew the odds in later races in my favor. We all remember Stay Thirsty in the mud and we all know how he ultimately did elsewhere.

Rest in peace, Indygo Shiner.

People have suggested in the past that I was ridiculous to try to always include weather information in my breakdowns. *looks at Saratoga’s card yesterday* OH YEAH, TERRIBLE, SILLY DUMB ME FOR WANTING TO KNOW IF IT WOULD RAIN AT ALL THE DAY OF OR THE DAY BEFORE.

I was watching “The Cup” on Friday and all of a sudden, MAD-EYE MOODY! Dah!

How does one acquire a “buzzer” and what is it?

Tweet o’ the Week: He looked ready… wretched rain…


Racing Beat: August 26


GAME ON DUDEEEEEEEEEEEEE! What was that again about not being able to get 10 furlongs or do poly?

As some of you know, I work nights in a hospital and I was weirdly delighted to come across bottles of furosemide aka Lasix the other day while in the cardiovascular wing. I’ll probably be excited the day I get old and get injected with this stuff… I AM A RACEHORSE!

The internet broke out into applause when Doug O’Neill claimed back Toomanytomatoes in a 22-way shake. *claps*

How do Group 1 races in Europe get filled to the brim but most U.S. G1 races get like 5 entries?

My original, very first Speightstown love came back: Wine Police! I’ll have to dig through the Galloping Hat Rack archives to find my first posts about him, but aw yeah!

I want to go to Del Mar one day so I can tell you guys whether it’s better than Saratoga or not… I doubt it… that ocean will have to be pristine with no cigarette butts or inconveniently placed rocks anywhere!

I am now 3-for-3 in predicting losers of major stakes races in my dreams: Alpha, Stay Thirsty, and now Verrazano.

The crushing feeling one gets when not one, but two horses are put down. Rest in peace, Sarava’s Dancer and Kris Royal. Could the 3rd and 4th fatalities of this Saratoga meet be blamed on a super fast track [for the biggest stakes weekend]? It’s possible.

Ego boost: I noticed my blog’s weekly page view counts exploded last week, particularly on Friday and Saturday. I wonder why, it’s not like I made any outer links. The pick 4 stuff I’ve been doing lately is the only new thing I’ve been doing… this is just like all those times I got referred as an “expert” by other people. It just feels weird.

Mike Smith can’t seem to win. One day he’s blamed for Palace Malice's poor run, the very next day he's applauded for riding Royal Delta. And people suggest “backseat training” is more of a problem.

I’m stuck between feeling elated that Bustle finally won a race— and on the turf at Saratoga, no less— and feeling irked that she got claimed from the Matzes. :/

Do you ever wonder if a few really stupid things were different, that one could like a horse more? Just sayin’, they should have done away with braiding Rachel Alexandra's mane… not a big fan of the braids… Tapizar's looked ok, but eh!

There’s nothing quite like watching Royal Delta run. She merely gallops under a hand ride while other top horses like Authenticity are driving to [try to] get within touching distance.

I still have Mudflats in my virtual stable. I was just about ready to delete him when he finally won at Del Mar after dropping way down in class. I wonder how much they bought him for early in the year… BIG MISTAKE. My virtual stable actually did pretty good this weekend…

Tweet o’ the Week: I want this kind of backside access :’(


Racing Beat: April 14


Spicer Cub. By now you should know his name. I wish Pimlico had Trakus installed so we could have seen how much more ground he ran versus the winner.

Looks like Departing is now a gelding, too.

I canceled a bet I had on 5-2 Apex yesterday at Keeneland… too many horses looked rarin’ to go that day even though he had a turf pedigree. Kind of glad, he finished a trafficked 11th. The other two I liked, #4 Corinthian Summer and #11 Won’tyoualwayswonder, finished 3rd and 9th respectively.

I’m going to have a tough time picking out a horse to single-handedly gush over come the first Saturday of May. I like several about the same right now. Perhaps I need another 3am groveling session like I did for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I was watching Thor the other day for the first time and couldn’t help but think of the horse Frost Giant.

Jose Lezcano and Wise Dan = Unstoppable on the [blue] grass?

Eblouissante is set to ship to New York. TRULY THE BEST STATE IN THE COUNTRY FOR HORSE RACING.

I know he’s a Pletcher trainee, but I am still loving Red Rifle, who went 2-for-2 winning by 2 at Keeneland yesterday. Not-so-secretly hoping to see him come to Belmont or Saratoga… he’s such a stunner with that bit of silver in his tail.

I understand why people like to thumb through and make picks at Keeneland yearling sales as a hobby, but why pat yourself on the back if your picks demand huge sales figures? I would think it would be a bad thing if they sold for crazy money that obviously means a poor investment if a lot of people are chasing the same horse. Better to pick a middle range horse that grows up to do well for whomever bought it. That would be bloodstock agent skill… see something others missed!

Unbridled’s Song as sire, Todd Pletcher as trainer, speed to burn, injured before… noooo, I never saw Graydar's ankle chip coming!

I strongly feel that horse racing fans never truly have a weekend off, even if they work a normal 5-day work week, because you spend your whole day Saturday watching and handicapping and then maybe Sunday you get a break but… yeah… horse racing is like a second job!

Stay Thirsty's 4-year-old half brother Bocelli (by Mr. Greeley) is getting close to a start with John Shirreffs training. I knew of a Morgan named Bocelli… kind of went straight to stud:

imageI kind of can’t wait for the day when I can mass-post “GUESS WHAT EVERYONE I CLAIMED A RACEHORSE!” and not give a damn about the ensuing “ermahgerd, so irresponsible!” gossip that follows. I’ll pick grass and put it in a basket to give to said claimer, whisper things to it like I did when I first forayed into gardening, and it will win like crazy!

Speaking of Morgans, runner-up and stablemate to Mizdirection in the Las Cienagas Handicap was Schiaparelli, the dam of one of my favorite Morgans Mizrahi. Maybe this could be a new handicapping angle!

From the pages of his family album, the dam of Java’s War, Java [GB], just foaled a Not Bourbon filly last month in France and is booked to Jersey Town next. Woop!

Tweet o’ the Week


Racing Beat: December 15


Debating whether I want to make some kind of post on new sires for next year. Stay Thirsty looks to be the weakest link in my opinion… Maclean’s Music is better than I anticipated… I’ll be intrigued by future Hansens and of course Union Rags has the most to lose as well as Bodemeister.

I hope I’m not the only one who does this… sometimes, I play guess the headline while I’m handicapping races. For the CashCall: Violence is the Answer in CashCall! He’s Had Enough More Than Enough in CashCall! Saturday night edit: I’m waiting for it…

I hope someone names one of the first Sea The Stars foals Seasick.

Heartbroken about one of my all-time favorite fillies Awesome Feather retiring. Chad Brown, Stanley Gold, and Jeffrey Sanchez all deserve huge props and lest we forget Adena Springs for keeping her racing. I was half-expecting the news since she’s a rather finicky filly when it comes to her conditioning.

Another feared retirement come true: my dear beloved “Turby” aka Turbulent Descent has predictably been retired after a few rounds under Todd Pletcher. Such a gifted sprinter, and one of my favorite Florida-breds that was racing. She’ll be visiting her boyfriend War Front in the new year.

I have an odd habit of thinking horses older than 4 must be geldings (until yesterday for instance, I thought heart favorite Grassy was a gelding). I wonder why that is…

Oxbow gave me tons of hope in his super-wide 4th place finish yesterday in the CashCall (I). If he’s going to keep doing well I have to stop spelling his name “Oxbox”… this is Rattlesnack Bridge in the place of Rattlesnake Bridge all over again…

As long as I keep my emotions at bay, at this rate I should be able to pick the Kentucky Derby winner. AHAHAHAHA LAUGH AT ME AND MY FUNNY JOKES! I’m not hardcore in love with anypony yet though, so I’m still safe.

Perhaps Eblouissante was copying Royal Delta with the butt dent before her race.

Saginaw for New York Horse of the Year?

I will voluntarily retract my summer bomber statement that Stopderpingmaria wasn’t up to running. Stopshoppingmaria's back to winning. Maybe it was the curse of Saratoga that killed her chances.

Really digging my Christmas cards I had made this year for followers. Could very well be ego, though.

Tweet o’ the Week: I was going to reply “No, Last Gunfighter is” but then I thought better of the situation! #toosoon


Weekend Stake Tip: Limitations and Track Bias

Anyway, it was a super great weekend for handicapping. I covered two races instead of just my normal one weekly race: the Clark Handicap (I), a dirt route race for older horses, and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (II) for two-year-olds. Both resulted in the top picks winning (Shackleford and Uncaptured) and my KYJCS top three all came out in the top three with 2nd and 3rd in shuffled order (race finish: Uncaptured, Frac Daddy, Dewey Square). My Clark trifecta came close to all finishing in the top 3, but second-choice Lunar Victory was 4th. Value pick for the KYJCS, Tesseron, finished a good 4th at about 8-1 odds. YAY I CAN STILL PICK GOOD JUVENILES! Thanks to my turkey dinner being on Friday and forgetting my laptop charger, no, I did not bet. It’s worth noting for the future that according to Trakus figures, the closing Dewey Square went 41 feet more than Uncaptured and 17 more than Frac Daddy, who lost by a neck going 27 feet more than the winner.

Bourbon Courage impressed me the most making a good move in the stretch to miss Shackleford by a length while just missing the place to G1 winner Take Charge Indy (who I honestly don’t… and still don’t… take seriously). It looks as if Bourbon had to counter some tight space trying to shoot the gap between horses. Speed seemed to hold strong over the weekend at Churchill as expected so that gives me all the more reason to expect big things from the Super Derby (II) winner next year. Have a look at the replay:

As we reel in closer to the Kentucky Derby trail (I hardly count most wins from a horse’s two-year-old year as signs for success as a 3-year-old), it’s time to talk limitations and track bias. The perfect example of these two factors occurring simultaneously would be in Saturday’s Cigar Mile (I), where even-money favorite Groupie Doll fell short in a duel with Stay Thirsty. All 5 of Thirsty’s wins occurred on a New York track as did his 5 places and 1 show effort. Outside of New York’s challenging surfaces, the best he could manage was a stale 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I) at Churchill Downs. On the other hand, Groupie Doll has never made a start in New York and clearly loves an easy, fast track while holding most of her wins at 6-7 furlongs. Thirsty, meanwhile, was a stalwart all year and seems to be at his best when given at least 9 furlongs. The Cigar, at 8 furlongs on Aqueduct’s main, seemed to be a balance of two evils.

It did not appear that Groupie Doll was unfit for a stacked race, but the Cigar may  have put too much of a stretch on her limits against a horse who was not only well-rested, but gave it his all on the New York dirt in his career swan song. Losing by a head bob does no injustice to the ‘Doll, but between Stay Thirsty and Flat Out, it’s proven time and again this year to take track bias seriously. With that said, I must also take Overanalyze's victory in the 9-furlong Remsen (II) lightly; as a Pletcher trainee and one who has won 3 times all in New York but failed as the favorite at Churchill, I'm not about to dive in deep.

Can Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint victoress Groupie Doll overcome an outside post and beat G1 winners Hymn Book, Stay Thirsty, Coil, and Jersey Town in Saturday’s Cigar Mile (I)? It is not just either way that I am not going to be able to go!

Can Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint victoress Groupie Doll overcome an outside post and beat G1 winners Hymn Book, Stay Thirsty, Coil, and Jersey Town in Saturday’s Cigar Mile (I)? It is not just either way that I am not going to be able to go!

Cheerleading Camp Practice for Eblouissante

I am no stranger to enormous fan bases as well as enormous hate bases, but I am carefree in admitting that I am a big fan of Zenyatta. She is part of the reason I got into the deeper aspects of horse racing. After watching that amazing 2009 Triple Crown season with Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra, I enjoyed watching replays of their races and stumbled upon a mention that a horse named Zenyatta was better than Rachel. How on earth could someone be better than Rachel? I thought. I was skeptical and even outraged that someone could suggest that possibility. However, upon watching her fireworks, I became an instant fan of Z. She was big, fast, and just a wonderful being on and off the track complete with her own set of quirks. I related to her instantly in her slow-to-bloom ways of climbing the track ladder, being obviously bigger than her male counterparts, and simply condescending in her late dashes. How many brilliant athletes do you know of that are also wonderful people?

After all this, it should come as no surprise I’m looking forward to watching her little sister Eblouissante run on Friday. I am risking being late to work to watch this three-year-old filly run for the first time, if anything because I missed watching so many of Zenyatta’s races live. After two years of disappointments with the Bernardini crops, I am hopeful this one will be different. Stay Thirsty and Alpha were both very adept early in their careers, but both hit an awkward patch, blossomed, then faded again. Both resemble their beautiful sire very little, and while “Ebby” is still maturing mentally and physically, she’s probably my pick of the litter looking so much like her sister. I also liked another Bernardini from the same crop who now that I think about it, looks a lot like Ebby: unfortunately, Spare Change has not raced successfully recently.

Whether or not you know this gal’s pressure to perform, it should be a fantastic race to watch. Hollywood Park has one of my top favorite announcers in Vic Stauffer, who called many of Zenyatta’s most memorable wins and always gets really into it. The race should be full of green horses as a maiden special weight, but at the 1 1/16 mile distance, should also give us a good hint as to what we can expect to see from Ebby in the future— how much speed versus her stretch-out potential. With so much anticipation much like Archwarrior's over the summer, I'm also predicting a lot of scratches…

Eblouissante means “dazzling” in French, and while I try to keep a lid on feeling confident in my juvenile judging capabilities, I suspect I’ll see something similar on Friday. If not, I’ll at least get a sliver of the old thrills and chills I got watching Zen score at Hollywood Park.

Racing Beat: Breeders’ Cup 2012 Edition

I think I might take a break from handicapping and slow up posts this week… call it a mini vacation or whatever!

I have a right to vote, and will be exercising that right tomorrow, but I wish I could vote in Wise Dan for Horse of the Year. Simply dominating no matter what the surface!

I HAVE REVERSE-PSYCHIC DREAMS! The horse I dreamed would win by open lengths for both this year and last year came in last in the Classic: Alpha and before that Stay Thirsty. Because of last year, I called for Alpha to repeat his brother’s performance and surprise, surprise. Maybe I should pause my dream next year and see who runs LAST!

On that note: that Bernardini curse I suspected before is being confirmed. His greatest sons Alpha, Stay Thirsty, and To Honor and Serve all blossomed in the summertime only to fold to last— and To Honor and Serve was the only horse to seriously “back up” in the Classic— in the fall championships.

This was going to be the best Breeders’ Cup of my lifetime aaaaaand look who didn’t show up. EVERYBODY!! But still… no injuries (that I know of), no breakdowns, and emphatic, stubborn winners and a couple records were made. It was a great year.

I hope I was not the only one too busy with the Breeders’ Cup to notice I hardly paid Halloween any mind. What? It’s today?

It kind of sucks knowing both Juvenile winners are likely to be sprinters if they amount to anything. Beholder is by sprint champion Henny Hughes (and obviously runs like she’ll sprint) and Shanghai Bobby is by one of my least favorite sires Harlan’s Holiday who rarely sires anything good that is older than 2.

So yeah, I just enabled the reply option for 2+ week long followers of the blog. How long has this thing been available? I feel very dumb right about now…

Only 55k in attendance for the Classic? That’s small change compared to the 85k at the Belmont this year!

Aw, Nereid! I hope you and Bourbon Bay are okay.

Good to see Damascus getting a stakes named after him on Breeders’ Cup Saturday. If only he had a G1 named after him, I’d be happier.

Mine That Bird and Dullahan's mama Mining My Own is being bred to Bodemeister in 2013. Aww yeah.

One statistic I’m shocked at myself for not using again to score higher in the Juvenile and Dirt Mile: Tapit has sired 3 Breeders’ Cup winners already including 2 juvenile winners.

I wonder how the Lasix issue will pan out from here… no 5-scale visual bleeders in the Juvie races, but there were a few minor bleeders.

If one can make an argument that Royal Delta should not be a candidate for Horse of the Year based on the fact she ran against mares (who generally looked tougher anyway this year), you can make the same point about I’ll Have Another who ran against three-year-olds.

I wonder if Bob Baffert will be calling up Chantal Sutherland anytime soon.

Tweet o’ the Week goes to the best horse who didn’t run: Bridleless Wyatt!

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…

Team Mott Looks Strong in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Often the predecessor to a knockout win in other big route races, the Jockey Club Gold Cup isn’t what it used to be (a 2-mile race on dirt somehow turned into a 10-furlong practice run for Breeders’ Cup Marathoners), but it’s still a million-dollar G1 test for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I) in November. A “Win and You’re In” for the Classic, this year’s JCGC drew a full field of ten including last year’s champ, a total of 6 G1 winners, and 2 three-year-olds that will be among the first of their class to face older horses in a graded event.

The fast dirt at Old Sandy appears to favor off-the-pace winners in the recent past, with winners in the past twenty years going on to win 4 Breeders’ Cup Classics and be runner-up in another running. The weather in Long Island unfortunately looks to damper things for the second year in a row with a 40-50% chance of rain for both Friday and Saturday. Be sure to factor track conditions and remember, when the track is off, the longshots come out to play.

$1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (I) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 1/4 miles on dirt at Belmont Park. Post Time: Saturday, September 29 at 5:46pm EST

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

1) Ron the Greek - Jose Lezcano, 126 lbs, Bill Mott - The Full Mandate horse has been having a great year with two G1 wins and a close second in the Whitney (I) after shipping all over the country to run. He has been looking good and should be fresh for the race. Lezcano is a good rail rider, but it’s still a troubling spot to have a favored closer. His record on an off track is surprisingly good with all hitting the board if not winning, and I think Mott was wise in skipping the Woodward to keep this horse fresh. Given a promising pace scenario, he could turn out another winning effort here.

2) Stay Thirsty - Ramon Dominguez, 126 lbs, Todd Pletcher - The Bernardini colt has been the little-engine-that-could since his humble win streak last year as a Travers-winning three-year-old, but has been missing that extra gear for some time. An empty third in last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup, Thirsty has not won since his Travers turn and while he was 4 lengths back in 5th last out in the Woodward (I), he went wide for much of it and lost the whip at the 1/8 pole. To his slop credit, he has two seconds and a third out of 3 tries. Despite the whip drop, he improved from a 101 Equibase fig in the Suburban to a 112 while carrying 9 additional pounds. He’ll like the distance and the track, but can he get any closer than 2 lengths from the win this year?

3) Ruler On Ice - Alan Garcia, 126 lbs, Kelly Breen - The Belmont-winning son of Roman Ruler hasn’t had the best year running second-fiddle in allowance company, but props are needed for his last start where he ran second to Win Willy by 2 lengths, staying stubborn in his usual stalking position to register a much-improved, career best 119 Equibase figure. We already all know how he does on an off Belmont surface. If it rains, you might want to work Ruler On Ice in there as a well-known and successful stalker. He should draw good odds either way.

4) Hymn Book - John Velazquez, 126 lbs, Claude McGaughey - The Arch gelding has not won since his Donn (I) upset earlier in the year with his next best being a decent second to Mucho Macho Man in the Suburban (II). However, he has endured some rocky and some pretty wide trips as a closer, and the extra furlong should help him. He’s good in the slop, winning on an off track 5 of 9 times, 2 of those wins being at Belmont. A horse who needs a good pace to do well, Hymn Book has little actually riding on this race with no intention right now to ship to the Breeders’ Cup.

5) Fort Larned - Brian Joseph Hernandez, 126 lbs, Ian Wilkes - The speedy E Dubai winner of the Whitney (I) is back for more and another (hopefully) successful stalking trip. His Whitney was won easy and late under a hand ride, suggesting Fort Larned’s got more where that came from and has won in the slop. Some may be too wary of Fort Larned to challenge him on or near the lead, suggesting he might be able to wrap up this race all on his own.

6) Atigun - Mike Smith, 122 lbs, Ken McPeek - The Istan colt was a blocked, late-charging third in the Travers last out, the benefit of the doubt being given to him by trainer McPeek that the colt would prefer the full 10-furlong distance over the easier field he would have faced in the Pennsylvania Derby (II)— which is probably true. Atigun’s best of late has been consistent, but really has to be much better to compete with this crowd. Another horse who should like the distance and need a pace and a personal best.

7) Fast Falcon - Corey Nakatani, 122 lbs, Nick Zito - The Awesome Again colt was a fierce late third in the Travers, and arguably had the best finishing touch out of any other horse in that race. He’s right at home at Belmont with two runner-up efforts against Teeth of the Dog here before. His career best was a low figure and a second placing, and given the possible weather conditions, he is a toss out due to class hike, speed figures, AND a surface he’s shown to not like. Would not be surprised if he scratches.

8) San Pablo - Javier Castellano, 126 lbs, Todd Pletcher - The Jump Start colt hopes to add a third race to his winning streak, both recent races were at 1 1/8 miles won in easy fashion. Likely to be stalking the pace, San Pablo has the stats to get an upset here with 3 wins and 2 seconds in 6 starts this year. Class is a question as is the off-track angle, but the added bonus of Castellano looks good.

9) Flat Out - Joel Rosario, 126 lbs, Bill Mott - The defending champion son of Flatter returns with a new trainer and jockey this year while being a little rough on his old form. He improved sharply in his Whitney performance where he was third by just a head to Ron the Greek, beaten less than 2 lengths by Fort Larned while sitting mid-pace with a wide trip. Flat Out is Mott’s Drosselmeyer this year, and due to his recovered form and distance clout, he’s secretly going to be one of the top horses to beat here and likely good value.

10) Game Ball - Jose Espinoza, 126 lbs, Naipaul Chatterpaul - A recent ex-claimer by Sky Mesa owned and trained by Chatterpaul, Game Ball has been everywhere this year and doesn’t appear to have a niche unless it’s “that horse that probably shouldn’t be here.” I’m wondering even further why he’s here because he didn’t make the stakes nomination list? A career closer, is off track record is fairly good but he lacks the class to make anything happen here, finishing a well-beaten 8th last out in the Sword Dancer (I).

Picks in Order:

1) Ron the Greek

2) Flat Out

3) Fort Larned

The track is likely going to be less than fast, so that makes handicapping this race that much harder to do. Fort Larned looks to be the lone speed here with most of the horses preferring a stalker or closer position behind him. I think he will try to slow down the pace to kill the horses behind him and try to win wire-to-wire. However, Ron the Greek was way too far back in the Whitney and looked awesome for second there. With freshening and an extra furlong, even if he errs again he’s super tough. Ruler On Ice and Flat Out… possibly San Pablo… I wish I could use both. Ruler may still be a bit short though, and I think Mott will have Flat Out tuned up and ready to go here for a much better effort, and he’s got tremendous upside all around. A big psychology factor to consider: who needs this race, and who will want to not go “all out?” Fort Larned and Ron the Greek already have guaranteed berths.

Value Pick: Flat Out

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

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