Archives for January 2019

Bryan Wagner, Trey Stiles Selected For NHC Hall of Fame

Wagner, Stiles Selected For NHC Hall of FameLAS VEGAS, NV (January 31, 2019) – Bryan Wagner, a 14-time National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) qualifier, and David “Trey” Stiles, who has qualified for every NHC since 2003, have been selected for induction into the NHC Hall of Fame, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today.

Wagner and Stiles represent the fifth class of NHC Hall of Fame inductees and will be recognized during the NHC Champions Dinner on Sunday evening at the conclusion of the 20th NTRA NHC Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas, set for Friday to Sunday at Treasure Island. Since its launch in 2014, the NHC Hall of Fame has inducted two impact figures each season, making Wagner and Stiles the Hall’s ninth and tenth members.

The Wagner name is already part of NHC lore. The husband of 2001 NHC Champion and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Judy Wagner, Bryan Wagner earned the distinction of 2009 NHC Tour Champion and earned more than $100,000 at the annual NHC finals in Las Vegas. In addition to their handicapping proficiency at other NHC-sanctioned contests, Bryan and Judy Wagner were among the Tour’s most popular figures. Bryan Wagner, who died in August of 2018, was particularly known for his gentlemanly ways and was described in a Rolling Stone feature as holding court “like a John Grisham character.”

“I am thrilled to hear Bryan is being voted into the Hall of Fame,” Judy Wagner said. “Bryan was almost a lifelong handicapper. It started when he learned to sneak into Fair Grounds in New Orleans as a young teenager. He had an unbelievable mathematical/analytical mind that was a perfect fit for handicapping.

“When the NHC Tour kidnapped him a few years ago he accepted the challenge and fought long and hard to achieve his goal of winning the Tour. Although he had many memorable handicapping experiences winning the Tour is near the top. This honor of Hall of Fame is another that I am sure would be at the top.”

Stiles, an attorney in Houston, TX, began visiting the racetrack in his teens at Delta Downs and has gone on to become one of the most recognizable faces on the NHC Tour.

A self-taught handicapper, Stiles played in his first handicapping contest in 2001 and began his record-setting streak at the NHC with a win at a contest at Retama Park in his native Texas in 2002. His knowledge serves both himself and other horseplayers well as he is also a NHC Mentor, teaching new Tour members the ins and outs and strategies involved with contest play.

“It’s a pretty amazing group so it’s quite an honor,” Stiles said of his Hall of Fame induction, adding that his first NHC experience lit the fire for his 16-year run. “I would say it would be my first time (at NHC that stands out), not because I did my best, but I enjoyed it so much that it made me want to get back there. It was such a cool experience. It hooked me and it made me want to learn and I’ve done that.”

Wagner and Stiles join Steve Crist (2016), Mike Mayo (2015), Chris Larmey (2018), Ron Rippey (2015), Paul Shurman (2017), Judy Wagner (2016), Steve Wolfson, Sr. (2017), Steve Wolfson, Jr. (2018) as Hall of Fame inductees. The honorees are chosen by the NTRA in consultation with the NHC Players’ Committee.

The main criteria for the NHC Hall of Fame are as follows:

· Competed in NHC-sanctioned tournaments;

· Played consistently well over an extended period of time;

· Gained the respect of peers;

· And, contributed to the overall growth and success of NHC tournament play, with indelible positive and lasting results.

10 Facts You might not know about Horse Racing in Australia

#7 There have been many great trainers in British Flat racing over the years, but nobody has dominated quite like Tommy Smith did in Australia. For 32 years he won every single Trainers’ Premiership, from 1953 until 1985, earning 282 Group 1 wins along the way. He died in 1998, but his legacy lives on in the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes ran at Randwick in the Autumn. He is the father of 2013 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Gai Waterhouse.

#8 Vegas Showgirl is well known in the world of bloodstock as the dam of Winx, but the queen of Australian racing isn’t the only Group winner the 16-year-old has produced. El Divino was born in October 2013, two years after Winx, and has gone on to compete in a number of Group races in Australia. In April 2016, he was a dead-heat winner alongside the Godolphin-owned Astern in the Group 3 Widden Kindergarten Stakes at Randwick.

#9 Very few horses have the distinction of claiming victory over Winx, but First Seal has the honour of boasting four occasions in which she bettered the world’s joint-best turf horse. Wins in two Group 2s and the Group 1 Coolmore Flight Stakes all came at the superstar’s expense, before a hoof injury placed First Seal on the sidelines. When she returned to battle Winx once again, the narrative was very different. The wondermare bested her by four and three quarter lengths in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes, before First Seal finished more than 13 lengths behind her rival in the Doncaster Mile. They never faced off again, and First Seal was retired in …

Two bills in Pierre focus on South Dakota’s horse racing industry

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (– At least two of the so far 300 bills filed during this year’s Legislative session are focused on South Dakota’s horse racing industry.

Senate Bill’s 105 and 128 are tied to South Dakota’s horse racing industry.

SB128 would attempt to retrieve money moved from the live horse racing fund around 20 years ago for other uses and return it to District 24, where it was intended for use at the Stanley County Fairgrounds in Fort Pierre

SB105 would establish new mechanisms for funding horse racing in the state. Representative Tim Rounds says he plans to bring a version of SB128 to the House for safekeeping…

“Just in case, something doesn’t come across, I want the discussion to be held over in the House too. Both of them, in their demise over in the Senate that means we won’t have that discussion.” Representative Mary Duvall says the bills bring up a separate valid discussion. “The Legislature has a habit of sweeping funds that were established for a certain purpose. And budgets get tight or we have a pet project, so we sweep those funds into our general fund for whatever purpose. We’ve done it with the state highway fund, the aeronautics, fund the railroad fund. Shame on us.”

Nearly six million dollars was in the live horse racing fund to help promote live horse racing in both Fort Pierre and the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen. The bill, if passed, would mean roughly three-million dollars each for Stanley and Brown Counties for support of live horse racing…

Handicapping Tip of the Day #47 – 5 Ways to Conserve Wagering Funds

Handicapping Tip of the Day

Handicapping tips from

by Rich Nilsen

One of the biggest challenges horse players face is the ability to manage their money and wager properly without losing focus.  Fail in any aspect of money management and the result is typically disastrous.  This year’s Cheltenham festival offers for new customers will keep you from failing to manage your funds correctly. Here are a few quick tips that will help you stay on track by conserving your wagering funds and not wasting bets on races you shouldn’t be playing.

  1. Stay Disciplined – Start with a defined bankroll for a set period of time and refuse to add to it.  ATMs and deposit options are out of the question.  Treat that money like an investment fund and work with it to turn a profit.  Have a game plan to start and stay disciplined in your wagering.
  2. Pick Your Spots – It’s alright to play every race if you have a small ‘Action Bankroll’ available.  You can use that to make bare minimum wagers if you lack discipline and absolutely have to have some action on a race.  However, the most important thing is to spot play and hammer those races accordingly.  Keep in mind that it’s simply impossible to have a good or strong opinion on every race. You have to pick your spots.
  3. Avoid Playing Out of Proportion – If your spot-play type of wager is $50 on a race, don’t play $200 on a race because you really love it for whatever reason.  Keep your best bet plays in proportion to one another, otherwise you risk damaging your bankroll and possibly even going on tilt.
  4. Choose Your Races Wisely – play to your strengths.  If conditioned claimers are not your thing, then avoid them at all costs.  If you excel at maiden turf races, then be sure to start with those races when you begin your handicapping for the day.  Choose your races wisely and your bankroll will be rewarded for it.
  5. Variance Happens – Understand that you’re not going to win every race, and worse yet, losing streaks are part of the game.  One of the best horseplayers in the country that I know has a stop limit.  If he loses a set amount of money, he stops for the day.  It’s a simple rule and he sticks to it, no matter what.  If it’s a good enough rule for a guy who successfully puts millions through the pari-mutuel windows every year, then it’s good enough for us.

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NY OTBs could shed horse racing operations

Off-Track Betting agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties and across New York could shed their horse racing operations – their main function for nearly 50 years, but also a source of deficits in recent years – under proposals unveiled by the POS Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week.

OTBs would have greater flexibility to operate under Cuomo’s proposed 2019-2020 budget, as they contend with declining racing revenues. The budget proposal would allow OTBs to decide to get out of horse betting entirely or merge with other OTBs, officials said.

OTB officials and experts say Cuomo’s proposal, which must be approved by the state Legislature, may make it possible for betting agencies to pursue bigger moneymakers, such as video lottery terminals and, perhaps eventually, sports betting.

But at this point Cuomo’s proposals are general, and do not set guidelines for what the changes would look like.

“The whole industry is on the phone, trying to figure out what does this mean,” said Phil Nolan, director of Suffolk Off Track Betting.

OTBs were established in six locations in the 1970s to pass along profits from horse betting to local governments and to reduce illegal gambling. In Nassau and Suffolk, the OTBs have significant numbers of patronage employees.

OTBs simulcast races, take telephone and internet bets and operate automated betting machines. In Batavia in Genesee County, Western OTB manages a racetrack at Batavia Downs.

But the OTBs have struggled in recent years as horse racing has declined in popularity and competition has grown from casinos in other states, officials said…

Pegasus World Cup Soars

For racing media, one of the fun parts of the job, believe it or not, is waking up at ungodly hour, rain or shine, and visiting the barns of the players from the previous day’s big race.

As expected, mostly the winners laugh, tell stories, and the losers say deal. Temporarily sidelined myself, I wonder what happened when my colleagues this morning only to find nobody was home.

That didn’t happen, of course. With winners and losers celebrating or commiserating over dinner late into the South Florida night, Mike McCarthy and John Sadler still needed to show up and check on their horses before watching them be loaded onto a Lexington-bound van.

So it’s not likely that City of Light or Accelerate would have been among this missing this am, but they won’t be around for long, leaving the racing’s stage forever–fertility issues notwithstanding.

While City of Light separated himself from the 2018 handicap champion in the gloaming at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, both will soon arrive at the same stud farm to begin a second career.

Some guys have all the luck.

On a day better suited to Netflix binging than going to the races, the building was hopping despite the elements. Stakeholders, horseplayers and fans showed up brought money, and weren’t shy about spending …

Racino Failure: Monticello Raceway casino closing

Monticello Harness track remains open

MONTICELLO – The casino operation at the Monticello Casino and Raceway will soon close, but the harness racing track will stay open for now.

Empire Resorts, the Monticello racino’s parent company, will close its electronic gaming operations at the track “on or about” April 23, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday.

Forty employees will remain at the raceway, while the operation’s other 160 can take jobs at the nearby Resorts World Catskills casino, also owned by Empire Resorts, or receive severance packages.

“We’re happy about the fact that they have offered jobs to laid-off members, and we’re constructively talking with the company about adding additional severance,” Hotel Trades Council, the union that represents most of the workers, said in a statement.

Empire Resorts Inc. said horse racing will continue. But, in a written statement and in an SEC filing, it made no guarantees about the track’s long-term future.

The goal for now, the company said, is to avoid cannibalizing revenues from the 2,157 slot machines and 150 table games at Resorts World Catskills in the Town of Thompson.

Plus, Empire Resorts, which has averaged losses of between $10 million and $13 million per month since it began its phased opening of the Resorts World Catskills last February, is looking to improve earnings…

Big Guaranteed Pools for Pegasus World Cup 2019 Day

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Saturday’s 12-race program at Gulfstream Park, highlighted by the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, will offer guaranteed pools for the Late Pick 4, the Late Pick 5 and the Rainbow 6.

The pool for the Late Pick 4 (Races 9-12) will be guaranteed at $1 million, while the Late Pick 5 (Races 8-12) and the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 7-12) will offer guaranteed pools of $750,000. The Rainbow 6 pool will be guaranteed as long as the popular multi-race wager isn’t solved before Saturday.

Belinda Stronach countersues father, cites 'unprofitable projects'The multi-race sequences for all three wagers will include the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), North America’s richest race; and the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), North America’s richest turf race.

The third running of the Pegasus World Cup field will be headlined by $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and 2018 Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate. The Pegasus World Cup Turf will feature an international field of grass stars, including Yoshida, a Grade 1 winner on turf and dirt, and Aerolithe, a multiple graded stakes-winning mare in Japan making her first start in the U.S.

Should the Rainbow 6 go unsolved through Saturday’s program, there will be a mandatory payout of the entire pool of the popular multi-race wager Sunday.

Saturday’s card will offer seven other stakes, including four additional graded stakes: $200,000 W. L. McKnight (G3); $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3); $150,000 Fred Hooper (G3); $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Hurricane Bertie (G3), $150,000 Gulfstream Turf Sprint; $150,000 Ladies Turf Sprint, $125,000 South Beach.

First-race post time for Saturday’s program is set for 11:30 a.m.

Source: Gulfstream Park

Japanese Invader a Major Threat in 2019 Pegasus World Cup Turf

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL.–The new $7 million GI Pegasus World Cup Turf S. has attracted a diverse international array of runners and Japanese invader Aerolithe (Jpn) (Kurofune) may be one of the most intriguing of the group as a relatively unknown commodity on these shores.

A three-time group stakes winner in Japan, including the 2017 G1 NHK Mile, the 5-year-old mare has never raced outside her native land. Aerolithe’s journey took a total of 21 hours and 25 minutes, traveling from Tokyo to South Korea to Anchorage to Miami.
When asked how the mare handled the long ship and her new surroundings at Gulfstream, Kate Hunter, Pegasus World Cup field representative and translator for the Japan Racing Association, said. “Absolutely fabulous! She has never traveled this far. She has never traveled internationally, so we weren’t sure how she was going to handle it, but she was a natural.”
Owner Sunday Racing Co. and trainer Takanori Kikuzawa had originally intended to run Aerolithe in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 3, but travel issues derailed those plans.

“The connections had been targeting the Breeder’s Cup Mile and once [The Stronach Group] announced the fact they were going to have this [Pegasus Turf race], they were actually thinking about racing her in both,” Hunter said. “Then airplane trouble happened and they weren’t able to get her to the Breeders’ Cup, but they kept this in mind. We were able to get the airplane sorted this time.”
In her previous races in Japan, Aerolithe has run both clockwise and counter-clockwise, but her team feels counter-clockwise is her preferred direction, making her well-suited for American racing.

Yoshida Gets Favorite’s Role in Pegasus World Cup Turf

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners’ Yoshida, already a rare Grade 1 winner on both turf and dirt, returns to the grass in search of his biggest payday yet in the inaugural $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) Saturday, Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.

The debut of the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus Turf and the third running of the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) – the richest races on either surface in North America – comprise the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, headlining a blockbuster 12-race program featuring nine stakes, six graded, worth $17.125 million in purses.

First race post time is 11:30 a.m. EST. Post time for the Pegasus Turf is 4:50 p.m. EST. The race will be shown during NBC’s live national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Yoshida was assigned Post 2 and installed as the 5-2 program favorite among 10 older horses entered during Tuesday morning’s post-position draw in Frankey’s Sports Bar at Gulfstream. The field features nine group or graded-stakes winners, including Yoshida’s Hall of Famer Bill Mott-trained stablemate Channel Maker.

A 5-year-old Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry, Yoshida made the first 10 starts of his career on the turf, including a trip abroad where he finished fifth by 1 ¼ lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) last June at Royal Ascot. He ran first or second in seven of those grass races, four of them wins, topped by the Turf Classic (G1) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard in his 2018 debut.

Yoshida, who trains regularly over the dirt, was given his first shot on the main track in the historic Woodward (G1) at Saratoga in September, and he responded with an impressive come-from-behind two-length triumph. In his last start, he again came from well back to be fourth, beaten less than two lengths, in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 3 behind likely Pegasus World Cup favorite and 2018 Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate.

Since the same connections also own 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner and Pegasus World Cup contender Audible, they decided to put Yoshida – out of the Canadian Frontier mare Hilda’s Passion – back on grass for the Pegasus Turf.

“He’s got a pedigree that would probably lend itself to turf or dirt. On the top side, maybe a little turf and dirt. The bottom side, his mother was a Grade 1 winner at the sprint distances … so he’s got a pedigree for both and he’s one of the odd horses that has transitioned from one to the other,” Mott said. “It’s probably debatable whether his dirt races are better than his turf races, and they may well be, but he’s a horse that won very nicely for us in the spring last year on the turf. He’s run with good company, and we weighed our options here and thought that maybe the turf was the spot to go this time.”

Following the Breeders’ Cup, Yoshida joined Mott’s winter string at Payson Park in Florida, where he shows six works over its main track since mid-December. Jose Ortiz, up in the Joe Hirsch and Breeders’ Cup, is named to ride back in the Pegasus Turf.

“We gave him a little bit of a break … when he came out of the Breeders’ Cup, but we kept him … jogging and training easily,” Mott said. “We made the decision to run in the Pegasus, so we started cranking him up and he’s done very well since then. He seems like since every work he’s picked up in condition and seems to be feeling very good with himself.”

Channel Maker on Mark

Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Channel Maker exits an off-the-board finish over a soft course in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) Nov. 3. The 5-year-old son of grass champion English Channel won two of eight starts last year, dead-heating with Eclipse Award male turf finalist Glorious Empire in the Bowling Green (G2) and romping by 4 ½ lengths in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) in September.

“He’s very good. He had been in really great form during Saratoga and Belmont. He won a ‘Win and You’re In’ when he won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and we ran in the Breeders’ Cup Turf going a mile and a half. Very soggy turf that day, a lot more pace than maybe he had had when he won the Joe Hirsch,” Mott said. “We made the decision collectively to have him in the race that day and I think by doing that we kind of forced his hand a little too much and the turf was very soft and it just worked against him.

“He’s not a horse that has to be in front or up on the pace, it just happened that he won the Joe Hirsch so that was freshly in our mind when he went into the Breeders’ Cup. It wasn’t the day to have him up on the pace,” he added. “He’s a horse that’s not really one-dimensional by any means. It looks like the Pegasus is going to have some pace in it, so in that particular instance I don’t think we have to push him up toward the lead early in the race.”

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride Channel Maker (12-1) from Post 3.

Before he attempts to win the Pegasus World Cup with Accelerate, trainer John Sadler will send out Woodford Racing’s Catapult in the Pegasus Turf, second choice on the morning line at 7-2. The 6-year-old son of turf champion and prolific sire Kitten’s Joy won the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read (G2) and Del Mar Mile (G2) prior to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), where he was second by a half-length to Eclipse Award finalist Expert Eye.

“I think he’s better than he was last year. He had a little foot issue after the Del Mar Mile and we trained him right into the Breeders’ Cup, but he’s been perfect out of the Breeders’ Cup. I think he’s in tip-top shape,” Sadler said. “His record is so good. He won both those stakes at Del Mar, [and was] almost kind of an unlucky loser … in the Breeders’ Cup Mile so his record is very, very good. They might look at the distance, but he won the Eddie Read at a mile and an eighth and he’s a big, strong horse. He won’t have any problem with the distance.”

Catapult will break from Post 9 with Joel Rosario aboard.

Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Bricks and Mortar, a 5-year-old son of late six-time Group 1 winner Giant’s Causeway, will be making just his eighth career start in the Pegasus Turf. He is undefeated in two tries over Gulfstream’s turf, breaking his maiden at first asking in February 2017 and returning from a 14 ½-month break between races to capture a one-mile optional claiming allowance Dec. 22.

Bricks and Mortar won each of his first four career starts including Manila Stakes and National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (G2) in 2017, the latter by three-quarters of a length over Yoshida. Bricks and Mortar was third in his final two starts at 3, a half-length behind runner-up Yoshida in the Saranac (G3) and by a total of three-quarters of a length in the Hill Prince (G3), won by Yoshida.

“He’s a horse that always showed a lot of promise as a 3-year-old and unfortunately had some injuries and needed a long time away from racing,” trainer Chad Brown said. “We were able to get him back in time to have a real productive allowance race, and he seems ready to move forward. It’s a big jump to go right into a Grade 1 like this, but he’s a horse that’s doing well and he’s got that race under his belt. He’s fit and we’re happy to have a horse to participate.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., favored to earn his first Eclipse Award as champion jockey during Thursday’s ceremony at Gulfstream, will ride Bricks and Mortar (5-1) from Post 7.

Sunday Racing Co. Ltd’s Aerolithe, a Group 1 winner from Japan, and Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s European Group 2 winner Magic Wand lend international intrigue to the Pegasus Turf. Both are females facing males, with Irish-bred Magic Wand having one previous North American start when fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) Nov. 3. Irish jockey Wayne Lordan has the call from Post 1.

Aerolithe will be racing for the first time outside her native country. She has been first or second in nine of 13 lifetime starts, four of them wins, including victories over males in the 2017 NHK Mile Cup (G1) and 1 1/8-mile Mainichi Okan (G2) last October.

Florent Geroux, winner of the 2018 Pegasus with Horse of the Year Gun Runner, will be aboard from Post 4.

“She’s never shied away from the boys, and she always runs really well,” trainer Takanori Kikuzawa said through interpreter Kate Hunter, Pegasus World Cup field representative for the Japan Racing Association. “She’s got a very strong personality and likes the competition, so she’s in a good spot mentally, as well. This filly has got a lot of speed and, if you look at some of her previous races, she can really go to the front. If we get a good start we plan on going forward and hopefully staying there.”

Frankie Dettori Has a Mount

Stronach Stables’ homebred Delta Prince will be making his 6-year-old debut in the Pegasus Turf. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the 6-year-old son of Street Cry has been worse than third just once in 11 lifetime starts, when fourth in the Woodbine Mile (G1) Sept. 15.

Winner of the King Edward (G2) over Woodbine’s turf last summer and second by a neck in the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga, both at one mile, Delta Prince returns to the grass after finishing third in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler (G3) over Aqueduct’s main track Nov. 2.

“We’re taking a little bit of a shot. He’s running further than he ever has in his life but he’s bred to go the route. The furthest I ever had him in was in a race going a mile and an eighth, the Knickerbocker, and we ended up having to scratch. I think as long as he rates kindly enough and gets a decent enough trip, he’ll get the distance,” Jerkens said. “The other day I gave him nice, easy mile around two turns just to see and make sure he didn’t turn the other way and get a little bit on the rank side because of it, and he didn’t. He rated like a baby and he finished up nice so I was really happy with it.”

Internationally acclaimed jockey Frankie Dettori has the call on Delta Prince (15-1) from Post 8.

Mike and Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw and Mark Taylor’s Next Shares enters the Pegasus Turf having won three of his last four starts, the most recent a gutsy nose triumph in the 1 1/8-mile San Gabriel (G2) Jan. 5 at Santa Anita. An impressive 3 ¼-length winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in October at Keeneland, he was in contention before fading to 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile to cap 2018.

“She’s never shied away from the boys, and she always runs really well,” trainer Takanori Kikuzawa said through interpreter Kate Hunter, Pegasus World Cup field representative for the Japan Racing Association. “She’s got a very strong personality and likes the competition, so she’s in a good spot mentally, as well. This filly has got a lot of speed and, if you look at some of her previous races, she can really go to the front. If we get a good start we plan on going forward and hopefully staying there.”

“There was so much rain that day, and he drew inside, and it was really bad. The inside part of the turf was really boggy, and he got covered up and just spun his wheels. Those are the best horses in the world, obviously, and they ran a mile in 1:38 so that tells you how soft the turf was,” trainer Richard Baltas said. “That being said, he was doing great going into that race.

“He’s just getting good. He’s a gelding, so I think he’s probably just coming into his own. He seems like a very happy horse,” he added. “He’s just been in good form. He ran a big race again, and he came back really good. I walked him from the track [the other] morning and he was coming out of his skin. He’s happy.”

Next Shares (15-1) will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from Post 5.

Bran Jam Stable and David W. Clark’s Fahan Mura punched his ticket to the Pegasus Turf with a front-running three-quarter-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Robert J. Frankel (G3) Dec. 29 at Santa Anita. Also by English Channel, the 5-year-old former claimer is the most experienced runner in the field with 23 starts, nine of them wins. Regular rider Edwin Maldonado returns in the irons from Post 6.

“I think when Edwin Maldonado started riding her, he just let her loose on the front end and she maintained her speed and just got more and more confident and was just able to beat better and better horses,” trainer Vladimir Cerin said. “She only went over a mile and an eighth once, and I think the longer the distances are the more relaxed the pace is and she may be able to maintain a greater advantage for a little longer. I think she has a pretty good chance.”

Rounding out the field is Ron Paolucci Racing’s Dubby Dubbie. The gelded 4-year-old son of 2010 Florida Derby winner Ice Box most recently won a second level optional claiming allowance going 1 1/8 miles over a yielding Churchill Downs course Nov. 23, and ran third in the American Derby (G3) last summer. Luca Panici has the mount from outside Post 10.