Archives for October 2017

Breeders’ Cup Winners Profiles – Day One, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017

 By Craig Spencer

I have gone back and looked at the winner of each Breeders’ Cup race since 1999.  I will look at each of the races and discuss historically successful prep races and other interesting things to keep in mind as you begin to look at past performances and formulate your wagering strategies

As you read through this you will see in the tables for each race an “Angles” field.  The legend for that field is:

In 2016, the qualifiers performed quite well with 9 of the 13 winners being “qualifiers”, the exceptions being:

  • Oscar Performance who became just the second winner in the Juvenile Turf not to make their final prep start in Europe
  • Champagne Room who surprised everyone when winning the Juvenile fillies and returning $69.20 after finishing 4th in the G1 Chandelier
  • Finest City who did not run in the Thoroughbred Club of America but did come into the race off a second place finish in the G2 Finest City and a good final workout
  • Queen’s Trust did come out of a decent Group 1 performance to win the Filly and Mare Turf but the qualifying requirement is a 1st or 2nd in a Group 1 and she had finished fourth

One final preface, you may hear that foreign shippers run better when the BC is held on the East Coast due to the heat and/or the closer proximity/less travel time.  That is just not true.  7 times since 1999 the BC was held at SA, 157 horses who made their last start outside of North America raced, taking home 25 winner’s trophies (15.9%).  In the 11 years when other venues hosted the Cup there were 18 foreign winners from 173 starters (10.4%).

 

JUVENILE FILLIES

Juvenile Fillies Turf Trends:  Group 1 exiters from Foreign shippers. For North American entrants: Top 2 in a Graded Stakes last out, 60%+ top 3 finishes in their turf outs, and last raced within 5 weeks. The Miss Grillo Stakes has been a key race for North American entrants:

The US representatives have been successful the last three years after being beaten by foreign invaders in ’12-‘13.  I still wouldn’t ignore the Group 1 exiting foreign horses.

The two traditional key East Coast prep races are the Grade 3 Miss Grillo where Significant Form brought in only a win in her career debut but promptly extended her unbeaten string to two and the Grade 2 Natalma where Capla Temptress rallied to get a victory in her first North American try after winning two out of three across the pond. She was transferred to Bill Mott’s barn for the Natalma.  While in the UK she finished 3rd in her only defeat in the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket finishing a length behind Juliet Capulet who is pre-entered in this race for John Gosden and followed up her second place finish in the Sweet Solera by winning the Group 2 Shadwell Rockfell Stakes at Newmarket.  Juliet Capulet, will retain the services of Frankie Dettori and that is never a bad thing.

Of the rest of the foreign contingency, September is coming off a nose defeat in the Group 1 Bet365 Fillies Mile Stakes, but she finished nearly 4 lengths behind Happily when third in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh.  Happily followed up that victory with another victory on the Arc undercard at Chantilly when winning the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Stakes.  The European trainers do not typically send their best over for this race.  Once again, all Group 1 exiting filly should be looked at closely even no matter where they finished.  The other foreign pre-entrants coming out of Group 1 races are Madeline and Now You’re Talking.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Best Performance finished reasonably close to Significant Form in the Miss Grillo. Orbulation was not too far back behind Best Performance while not having the best trip in the world.

Rushing Fall is a non-qualifier that you might still consider, she rallied very impressively in both of her starts to date.  In her most recent start she was a convincing winner of the Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland where she ran a BRIS figure of 91, which is the tops of the pre-entered US based fillies.  In the Jessamine she rallied from 9 lengths back to win by a widening 3 lengths.

My top selection in this event is Happily who is a half to four time Group 1 winner Gleneagles  (Irish 2000 Guineas, British 2000 Guineas, St. James Place, Vincent O’Brien).

LAS VEGAS DIRT MILE

Las Vegas Dirt Mile Trends:  last raced within 6 weeks in a Grade 1 or Grade 2; a good last work is a plus.

The first five winners of this race all were 6-1 or better, the next three were a bit easier to figure.  Last year we returned to a more chaotic result.  If you are a horizontal player, I would truly suspect this race to be one in which you should consider going a bit deeper in than the others.   Only once had a horse won this race off more than a 6 week break and 6 of the 9 winners had a good last work (top 1/3rd at the distance, within 14 days of the race), so watching the workout tabs heading into the Breeders’ Cup seems like a good idea.

Dirt Mile

Pre-entrants exiting a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race within 6 weeks of BC Weekend include Cupid (4th in G1 Awesome Again), Giant Expectations (5th in the G1 SA Sprint Championship), Midnight Storm (2nd in G1 Awesome Again), Sharp Azteca (1st in G2 Kelso).

Mor Spirit last raced in June when winning the G1 Metropolitan.  His trainer, Bob Baffert, is exceptional with horses coming back off layoffs of any duration.  Practical Joke, last raced in the G1 Jerkins at Saratoga at the end of August.  His trainer, Chad Brown, has a very similar success rate as Baffert.

If one wins this race after being defeated in the Awesome Again, that horse would join the company of Albertus Maximus won the inaugural Dirt Mile after finishing third in the Goodwood, which is now known as the Awesome Again and Dakota Phone who also raced in the Goodwood prior to his success in the Dirt Mile.

I would like Mor Spirit more than I do had he had a race since early June.  If he wins I will probably not cash a ticket in this race or in any multi-race wagers involving this race.  The main horses I was interested in are racing in different spots over the big weekend.

 

JUVENILE TURF

Juvenile Turf: Foreign Shippers Reign.

The European contingent have been deadly in this race with 7 winners in the 9 Running’s (Foreign Tacks are shaded).  Four of the 7 European winners last raced at Newmarket (Hootenanny was US based, trained by Wesley Ward, but last start was across the pond).  One of the two US based winners, Pluck, didn’t make his last start in the US either, although I wouldn’t call a race at Woodbine a real foreign test.

Most of the best US talent at this stage of their 2 year-old year are still trying to make a name for themselves on the dirt so they can make a run at the Triple Crown.  The European shippers are definitely at an advantage in this race.  Not only have they been racing on turf against the best 2 year olds that Europe has to offer, they are trained over turf in the mornings and are well prepared to handle the lower rate North American talent that they will typically face.

If O’Brien brings U S Navy Flag to Del Mar, he will be the first winner of the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst, a race that has sent us two victors from horses who were not good enough to win at Newmarket but were easily good enough to win stateside.  He would be heavily favored and would be the most likely winner on Friday’s card if he makes the trip.

Top 3 finishers (either European or from at least a US based G3) include Catholic Boy (1st in G3 With Anticipation at Saratoga, which is probably a little bit too long between races to strongly consider), Flameaway (Winner of the off-the turf G3 Bourbon), Hemp Hemp Hurray (2nd in the G2 Summer Stakes), James Garfield (1st in G2 Mill Reef at Newbury), Masar (3rd in G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lugardere at Chantilly), Mendelssohn (2nd for O’Brien in the historically significant G1 Darley Dewhust at Newmarket), Nelson (2nd for O’Brien in the G2 Royal Lodge at Newmarket),  Untamed Domain (1st in the G2 Summer Stakes), Voting Control (2nd in the G3 Pilgrim), Tap Daddy (3rd in the G3 Bourbon), Tip Two Win (2nd in the G3 Tattersalls Stakes  at Newmarket), Tangled (who finished a nose behind Tip Two Win in the Tattersalls)

Pedigree information to consider:

Mendelssohn is a half to Beholder and Into Mischief, both of which did their running on the dirt.  Into Mischief’s offspring have been solid on both dirt and turf but based on that pedigree I would think they might try the Juvenile on Saturday and not the Juvenile Turf on Friday.

US Navy Flag is a full to double pre-entrant Roly Poly both being by War Front and out of the Galileo mare ($1.1M earner) Misty For Me.

Aiden O’Brien has had at least one starter in this race in each of it’s 9 running’s, after going 0 for 3 in the first 3, he has won 3 of the last 6 renditions.  Based on the strength of his stable my selection will be whichever horse he enters in this race between U S Navy Flag and Mendelssohn.  If he leaves U S Navy Flag home and runs Mendelssohn on the dirt, his third possible starter Nelson will have to be used on the ticket but likely with some others as backup.  Those would include Untamed Domain and Voting Control.

 

DISTAFF

Longines Distaff: Zenyatta and Beldame are key prep races, a race within 5 weeks is a plus, but historically either decent early or decent late pace presence is required.

In the 18 running’s of this event since 1999, we have had only two winners that last raced over 5 weeks out, however they were in two of the last three years.  I wouldn’t bet on that trend continuing but might extend the requirement a week so the Cotillion can be included as a major prep race.  With the Beldame and the Zenyatta (formerly the Lady’s Secret) providing 8 of the last 10 winners. A good last work (GLW) does not appear to be of much importance, as five of the last 10 winners did not have a “good last work.”

Either a decent early pace presence or the best late pace ability seems to be a requirement with Pleasant Home and Unbridled Elaine being the only victors to not meet one of those requirements.  The last 5 had shown decent early pace presence, with Life is Sweet, Zenyatta and Ginger Punch all being monsters in the final stages of the event.

Distaff profile

Elate’s last two victories were extremely impressive to see.  Her win in the G1 Beldame paired the same figure with her Alabama and is the best BRIS figure given to any horse in this race this year. She should be a pretty low priced favorite and not one that I would leave off any horizontal wagers I made.

Forever Unbridled is a sneaky horse in this race, as she is the late pace presence.  It’s been a while since she last raced at Saratoga when winning the G1 Personal Ensign but if the pace is hot up front and Elate is unable to get clear to get first run on the leaders or gets embroiled in the pace duel, don’t be shocked if she is able to rally at a good price.  If the layoff doesn’t get the better of her, she will be picking up some of the pieces late.  Don’t leave her out of your exacta’s and trifecta’s.

Paradise Woods returned to form when romping in the G1 Zenyatta at Santa Anita.  This was after two very poor performances in the Kentucky Oaks and the Torrey Pines, which was held at Del Mar.  The real question mark with this filly is whether or not she can win anywhere but in Arcadia since she has yet to succeed in doing so.  No other participants in the Zenyatta will be running in the Distaff.

As for the other 3 year old fillies in this race, Kentucky Oaks heroin Abel Tasman got a very strange ride by Mike Smith being allowed to rally to the lead approaching the final turn before tiring from that early move.  The most interesting longshot possibility in this field is Champagne Room who has only raced twice since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies last year at 33 to 1.  She ran a tiring 3rd to Unique Bella in February and then returned in September to win the Remington Park Oaks convincingly and she continues to impress in the mornings.  This year’s “Champagne Room” might indeed be Champagne Room again.

If Stellar Wind races, I think she is a play against.  She hasn’t raced since the end of July and her worktab has not been very flattering.  Sadler doesn’t usually work his horses fast, so maybe that shouldn’t be concerning, but for this type of a test I believe she needs to be working significantly quicker to be ready.

My main selection in this race is Elate with the value plays being Champagne Room and Forever Unbridled.

Craig Spencer former jockey

  • Craig Spencer is a former jockey who has ridden at numerous tracks around the country including Saratoga, Finger Lakes and Turf Paradise. The second part of Craig’s BC preview will be available later this week at agameofskill.com

 

Breeders’ Cup Classic Defending Champ Arrogate Draws One Post

Arrogate BC 2016 winners circle

Arrogate Breeders’ Cup Classic 2016 winners circle

Arrogate will break from the rail in a bid for a second straight Breeders’ Cup Classic victory on Saturday at Del Mar, where the draws for the flat racing extravaganza were made on Monday. Trainer Bob Baffert admitted the number one slot wouldn’t have been his first choice, but jockey Mike Smith said Arrogate had broken… [Read more…]

Tampa Bay Downs to Offer Most Lucrative Stakes Program in Their History

Press Release

Tampa Bay Downs will conduct the most lucrative stakes program in its 92-year history during the 2017-2018 Thoroughbred racing season, offering a record 28 stakes races worth a combined $3.65-million.

Additional purse and bonus monies for seven stakes – including the Grade II, (now)-$400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds on March 10 – are being made available through Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association’s (FTBOA) stakes funding and sponsorships by the FTBOA’s Florida Sire Stakes program.

The lineup features a $50,000 increase in the total purse for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, won last season by subsequent Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRABets winner Tapwrit. The Festival Day card will consist of five stakes races worth a cool aggregate of $1-million, a Tampa Bay Downs single-day first.

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

The stakes schedule, announced by Tampa Bay Downs Vice President-General Manager Peter Berube, includes three graded stakes apiece on both the March 10 Festival Day program and the Feb. 10 Festival Preview Day presented by Lambholm South card, which is highlighted by the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes.

The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and the Sam F. Davis Stakes, both contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track, are part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, which awards points to the top four finishers in major races to help determine eligibility for the Run for the Roses on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby has produced the winners of three Triple Crown races. In addition to Tapwrit, Street Sense won both the Tampa Bay Derby and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands in 2007, while Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby.

“Not only are we offering more stakes than ever, with more available purse money, our schedule include races for all ages and types of horses on both dirt and turf,” Berube said. “We are proud of our record of attracting horses capable of winning at the highest level of the sport and pleased to offer our fans such a high quality of racing.

“A lot of credit goes to our track maintenance staff, headed by (Vice President of Facilities and Track Surfaces) Tom McLaughlin,” Berube said. “Year after year, many of the top trainers who send horses here, as well as our locally-based trainers, have expressed their satisfaction at the consistency of our deep, sand-based main surface and the immaculate condition of the turf course and their desire to compete at Tampa Bay Downs.

“We also strive to position our stakes races on the calendar to give horsemen the best opportunity to prepare for other major races across the country, which creates a ‘win-win’ scenario for them and for our fans who love seeing the big horses in their backyard,” Berube added.

Joining the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on the March 10 Festival Day card are the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-an-eighth on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course and the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, also on the turf.

The purse for the Hillsborough, won in 2016 by the subsequent Eclipse Award Champion Grass Mare, Tepin, has been increased from $200,000. The track’s Festival Day program also includes the $100,000 Challenger Stakes and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes, the latter on the turf, rounding out the million-dollar stakes cornucopia.

As mentioned, the Feb. 10 Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card is led by the Sam F. Davis Stakes, which serves as the traditional prep race for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and has produced numerous Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands starters.

Also part of Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South are the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward and the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. Both races feature purse increases of $25,000 and will be contested at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf.

The lone non-graded stakes on the Feb. 10 card is the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, which features a $50,000 purse boost and has been added to the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points series.

Churchill Downs added the Suncoast to the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” roster soon after Elate (the runner-up to Tapa Tapa Tapa in last season’s Suncoast) won the Grade I Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in August. Elate’s Alabama triumph marked the third consecutive year a Suncoast participant went on to win a Grade I event, joining 2015 Suncoast winner Include Betty and 2016 winner Weep No More.

A quartet of first-year stakes funded by the FTBOA will provide an additional $450,000 in purses for eligible Florida-bred horses. On Dec. 16, Tampa Bay Downs will play host to the $125,000 FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $125,000 FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, both at a distance of seven furlongs on the main track.

Then, on May 5, as part of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands festivities at Tampa Bay Downs, two stakes will be contested: the $100,000 FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $100,000 FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Both races will be contested at a mile-and-40-yards on the main track.

The Dec. 16 program is the track’s annual Cotillion Festival Day, which includes the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, both at a distance of six furlongs.

Cotillion Festival Day is a natural lead-in to the track’s Skyway Festival Day program on Jan. 20, featuring the $125,000 Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds and the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, both at a distance of seven furlongs on the main track. Both the Pasco and the Gasparilla enjoy $25,000 purse increases.

The 16th edition of the track’s Florida Cup, featuring six races worth $100,000 apiece for Florida-bred horses, will be contested Sunday, March 25. The Florida Cup, which has seen such recent winners as multiple Grade I-winning star World Approval, offers three main track races and three turf races for males and females.

All told, the 2017-2018 stakes schedule features eight multi-stakes programs.

Tampa Bay Downs will open its barn area on Monday, Oct. 30, with training to commence on Nov. 6. The 2017-2018 season, which officially began July 1, is set to resume on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien Sets Record Group 1 Wins

Ascot racecourse in UKTrainer Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to be popping the corks on the champagne this evening unlike the late Bobby Frankel his predecessor as holder of the world record for Group One winners in a season. Instead the 48-year-old Irishman — who broke the record with Saxon Warrior at Doncaster on Saturday – is more likely to have… [Read more…]

Breeders’ Cup Offering New Ways for Fans to Connect

Just because Breeders’ Cup fans may be following this year’s event from home doesn’t mean they won’t have the opportunity to plant themselves in the thick of this year’s event.

Source: Breeders’ Cup Offering New Ways for Fans to Connect

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Vegas Odds

Direct from our friends at the Wynn Las Vegas race book, the best in Nevada.  Odds as of Oct. 25 for next weekend’s race at Del Mar.

HORSE OPEN CURRENT
ARROGATE 2/1 2/1
BREAKING LUCKY 60/1 60/1
COLLECTED 125/1 3/1
CUPID 65/1 25/1
DESTIN 40/1 40/1
DONWORTH 85/1 100/1
DORTMUND 30/1 40/1
GUN RUNNER 18/1 13/10
GUNNEVERA 100/1 15/1
HOPPERTUNITY 15/1 40/1
KEEN ICE 35/1 10/1
MUBTAAHIJ 35/1 15/1
SHAMAN GHOST 16/1 25/1
WEST COAST 40/1 7/1

Gulfstream Park Rainbow Six Surpasses $100,000

Press Release

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot for Wednesday’s program (10/25/17) at Gulfstream Park West swelled to $100,250.35 Sunday when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 16th consecutive program.

Gulfstream Park paddockMultiple tickets with six winners Sunday returned $9,834.

The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

There will also be a Super Hi-5 carryover of $9,211.20 heading into Wednesday’s program.

The Wider World of Horse Racing’s Jim McKay: Celebrating His Life and His Work

This weekend is the Jim McKay Maryland Million card from Laurel Park.  Let’s look back at his amazing career life.

The late sportscaster Jim McKay, and his grandson, James Fontelieu, are shown attending the 1997 Kentucky Derby . McKay’s contributions to equine journalism and Maryland racing will be honored next month at Harford Community College. (Courtesy the …

Source: The Wider World of Jim McKay: Celebrating His Life and His Work

A Score of a Lifetime from $80 Pick-6 Ticket

Press Release

Purchased for just $80 at Northville Downs in Northville, Mich., there was one winning ticket in today’s Single Ticket Pick 6 Jackpot, and it resulted in a potentially life-changing payout of $549,864 Sunday at Santa Anita.

With a Single Ticket Jackpot carryover coming into Sunday of $368,281, there was $279,915 in “new money” bet into today’s popular $2 minimum wager, resulting in a total Pick 6 pool of $648,196.

In addition to the Jackpot payout of $549,864, there were 60 consolation tickets with five winners, each worth $534.

Santa Anita apron

copyright AGameofSkill.com

With Corey Nakatani off all of his mounts today, Jamie Theriot picked up Irish-bred Pantsonfire for trainer Richard Baltas in the ninth and final race, a one mile turf affair for maiden special weight fillies and mares three and up.

Off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 11, Theriot took hold of his mount in the run to the clubhouse turn, began to patiently weave his way through traffic around the far turn and was full of run through the stretch drive, winning by 1 ¾ lengths over second choice No Cats Allowed with Tyler Baze.

In what was her seventh career start, Pantsonfire, who is owned by Starry Night Racing, Jeremy Peskoff, Mark Silverstein and Jeff Ward’s Next Wave Racing, paid $6.80 to win and banked $30,000.

Sunday’s Pick 6, which began with race four, was won by 7-2 shot Van Cortlandt ($9.80); the fifth race, the $70,000 Speakeasy, went to Beautiful Shot, who upset 1-5 favorite Mourinho and paid $10.00; the sixth went to 9-5 favorite Skelton Pass ($5.60); the seventh was won by Fast Pass, who at 13-1, paid $29.00 and race eight was taken by 9-5 favorite Roman Tizzy, who paid $5.60.

Racing resumes on Thursday at Santa Anita, with first post time at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. For additional racing information, please visit santaanita.com.

Great Horse Racing Videos – RIP Champion Distaffer Inside Information

Champion distaffer Inside Information passed away this week.  She holds the record for the largest margin of victory ever in a Breeders’ Cup race, 13 1/2 lengths.  Let’s take a look back at her devastating win in the 1995 Distaff over the likes of Serena’s Song, Mariah’s Storm and stablemate star Heavenly Prize!

YouTube:  Seconds after Inside Information scored the most decisive victory in Breeders’ Cup history, the sun appeared for the first time Saturday.

Apparently, even the heavens were impressed with the 4-year-old filly’s 13 1/2-length destruction of her nine rivals in the Distaff.

Called by some in the days leading up to the Breeders’ Cup the most competitive of the seven events, the Distaff instead turned into a showcase for Inside Information, trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Dinny Phipps.

In addition to watching the daughter of Private Account shatter Princess Rooney’s record (seven lengths) for easiest Breeders’ Cup victory, McGaughey and Phipps saw her entrymate, Heavenly Prize, rally from far back to get second, more than two lengths in front of Lakeway.

Proven already over off tracks, Inside Information moved to a new level Saturday in what was her final start, and in so doing, wrapped up the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top older filly or mare. The entry paid $3.60 as the 4-5 choice.

Her final time over a surface labeled good was 1:46, the fastest for the Distaff since the distance was shortened from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8 miles in 1988. The victory was her seventh in eight starts this year and 14th in 17 lifetime.

“If that wasn’t an Eclipse Award performance, I don’t know what is,” jockey Mike Smith said after the first of his two Breeders’ Cup victories Saturday.