Archives for April 9, 2018

Recap of the Big Derby-prep Stakes Action

“and if you refer back to his juvenile form cycle, his third start [off the layoff] was his best.”

by Justin Dew

As a fan of Good Magic, I was happy to see him win and win nicely. He was wide around both turns and outran two horses (Flameaway and Sporting Chance) who I feel had better trips. And while it didn’t appear that Good Magic was getting stronger as the race went on, keep in mind that this was just his second start off a layoff, and if you refer back to his juvenile form cycle, his third start was his best. From a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint, the 95 he earned in the Blue Grass was six points better than he earned in the corresponding race from his juvenile campaign, the Champagne. Additionally, if you compare his career debut and his 2018 debut, he ran seven points better as a three-year-old. So, he ran 82-89-100 to start his career, and 89-95 this year. Might another 11-point Beyer jump be in the cards for his third start of the form cycle? It’s something to think about.

Nyquist KY Derby 2016I also happen to think Jose Ortiz may have moved a few seconds too soon, and perhaps could have given Good Magic a chance to finish a little stronger with better timing. It’s not going to surprise me at all if we ultimately see Good Magic make a nice life for himself at a mile, but for now, we can still give him the benefit of the doubt based on what he’s done in his five-race career.

Flameaway is just a hard-knocking fighter and he’ll get nothing but respect from me. I don’t think 10 furlongs is in his wheelhouse, but if More Than Ready can run 4th in the Kentucky Derby, so can this guy. As for Free Drop Billy, let’s see how he trains at Churchill Downs. I suppose one can make a case that he could clunk up in the Derby.

It looks like Justify is headed for something around 3-1 in the Kentucky Derby. Maybe even lower. I don’t really have anything meaningful to add about the Santa Anita Derby. Justify is good. If you want to take low odds on a son of Scat Daddy going 10 furlongs, be my guest. I may even join you to some degree.

Without going back and looking at the charts for every New York Derby prep to be run over the last decade, my general sense is that winter/spring racing in New York attracts the horses that aren’t good enough to compete elsewhere. Enticed lost at Gulfstream, then won at Aqueduct and was favored in the Wood. Vino Rosso lost twice in Florida, and then came to New York and won. And a maiden winner from California, Restoring Hope, came to the Wood and ran 3rd. So, I’m just not impressed by anything out of the Wood. I highly doubt I’ll use any of them in the Kentucky Derby.

With the Arkansas Derby still to be run, I’m feeling like the list of horses who can be labeled as prime Kentucky Derby win candidates is taking a more firm shape. Same for the longshots to watch:

Prime Win Candidates: Justify, Bolt d’Oro, Audible, Good Magic

Top Longshots: Hofburg, Runaway Ghost

Logical horses that I don’t particularly like: Mendelssohn, Magnum Moon, Enticed, Vino Rosso

The 2018 Grand National Hurdle is Expected to be Another International Affair

America’s richest steeplechase was a truly international affair in 2017 and a similarly diverse field is expected once again in October. The contest, which is staged at Far Hills, attracted five competitors from overseas and once again drew a bumper crowd who enjoyed witnessing five

The Irish Field via twitter

high-quality stakes races on the card. The European national hunt season will be gathering momentum by the time this year’s contest arrives and many more UK and Irish trainers are expected to send their charges’ to New Jersey in a bid to get their hands on a share of the $800,000 purse.

Although very few overseas trainers have been able to land the prize in recent years, Irish jockey Ruby Walsh has enjoyed success in the contest. He rode Rawnaq to victory in 2016 and the Irish-bred charge has quickly established itself as one of the leading US steeplechasers and had previously enjoyed success in the Grade 3 Temple Gwathmey.

In 2017, trainers Emma Lavelle, Charlie Longsden and Willie Mullins all originally declared runners in the race and that trend is likely to continue with more UK and Irish-based trainers utilising the option to race in the US. Joseph O’Brien is relatively new to the national hunt scene in Europe but the impressive trainer sent over the French-bred Katnap last year and he picked up sixth place in the contest. He has pledged to “not stop trying” in his quest for glory in America and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another couple of his stable stars pitch up at the New Jersey hunt in October 2018. His inconsistent ten-year-old had previously enjoyed success over the Grand National fences at Aintree but wasn’t able to replicate that performance at Far Hills.

Champion series via Twitter

O’Brien has enjoyed success with Edwulf this season with the JP-McManus owned horse taking the inaugural Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival but he will not be participating in the Randox Health Grand National on April 14th. The nine-year-old isn’t the only runner to have pulled out of the energy-sapping steeplechase event with Definitly Red also being withdrawn. Edwulf competed at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival alongside Tiger Roll, who has Grand National best odds of 14/1 with Betfair and is vying for favouritism alongside Anibale Fly, Total Recall and Blaklion.

Willie Mullins has a number of runners in the UK Grand National and has enjoyed a profitable 2018 so far. Balleycasey was declared for the US Grand National Hurdle in 2017 but the Irish trainer opted not to run his 11-year old at the meeting. He has recently sent runners to France and Australia and is believed to be keen on showcasing some of his stable string at Far Hills this year.

Steeplechasing in the USA has a rich and varied history and this Grade 1 event originally dates back to 1896. The number of International entries has slowly increased over the past couple of years and more overseas competitors is a terrific way of enhancing the reputation of this contest across Europe. Expect a handful of UK and Irish trainers to target the October race once again in 2018 as they attempt to break the historical home dominance in this event.

Annual Report on Casino Gaming’s Impact on PA’s Horse Racing Industry

racino slots machinePennsylvania Gaming Control Board Releases Latest Casino Data

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 2, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released the Annual Racetrack Casino Benchmark Report detailing the impact of Pennsylvania casinos on the Commonwealth’s horse racing industry. The report is now available for download from the PGCB’s web site The report includes and compares information from the 2017 calendar year.… [Read more…]