Archives for August 2021

The Young Mustari Nabs NHC and the Handicapper of the Year Title

Justin Mustari NHC champJustin Mustari of Des Plaines, Ill., topped a field of 563 entries to win the $725,000 first-place prize and an Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year at this weekend’s 22nd annual National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas. The event was postponed from its usual early February dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic and became a midsummer event for the first time.

The 26-year-old Mustari, who works for his father Frank’s insulation contracting company, is the youngest NHC winner. He amassed a winning score of $370.80 over the three-day tournament from 52 mythical $2 Win and Place bets—17 on Friday, 18 on Saturday, 10 in Sunday morning’s Semifinal round, and seven at the climactic DraftKings Final Table for the overall top 10.

The contest came down to Race 8 at Del Mar—a one-mile turf allowance/optional claimer for California-breds—with Mustari sitting fourth behind 2014 NHC winner Jose Arias. Mustari chose a 4-year-old filly names Rose’s Crystal, who hadn’t raced since January.

“I had to give myself a chance to win with this kind of money,” Mustari said. “I definitely didn’t like this horse as a top pick but I had to find something in the range that could get me there. I thought this horse coming off the layoff potentially had a chance if he ran back to some earlier numbers, and he did.”

Mustari was the NHC two-day leader at the end of Saturday but lost the lead during the morning’s Semifinals round that led to the Final Table. He did not cash in any of the first six mandatory Final Table races.

“I’ve got to buy a house because I still live with my parents,” he said. “My dad has been the reason I play this game and he taught me everything I know so I have to give a lot of credit to him.”

Arias finished second with $347.20. The Bell Gardens, Calif., resident was seeking to become the event’s first two-time winner. However, when the second mandatory race went off, Arias was nowhere to be found. His pick did not appear on the selection screens and it soon became apparent that he had failed to get his selection in before the gates opened. Later, Arias told reporters he had had a personal issue to tend to but would not have landed on the winner of that race anyway. The $200,000 second-place prize pushed Arias’s all-time NHC earnings to $956,000, behind only the all-time leader, Michael Beychok ($1,015,300).

The official Top 10, with final bankroll (and prize):

First – Justin Mustari, $370.80, Des Plaines, Ill. ($725,000 + Eclipse Award)
Second – Jose Arias, $347.20, Bell Gardens, Calif. ($200,000)
Third – Chris Goodall, $345.60, Winter Park, Calif. ($150,000)
Fourth – Paul Calia, $339.10, Kansas City, Mo. ($100,000)
Fifth – Sarah Wiener, $297.70, Clearwater, Fla. ($75,000)
Sixth – Brendan Fay, $294.90, Seminole, Fla. ($65,000)
Seventh – Travis Allison, $291.30, Frisco, Texas ($56,000)
Eighth – Jason Phillips, $289.10, Sutherland, Va. ($54,000)
Ninth – Paul Yaffee, $279.30, Evanston, Ill. ($52,000)
Tenth – Jeff VanDrie, $273.30, Carefree, Ariz. ($50,000)

By virtue of his victory, Mustari also earns an exemption into next year’s NHC finals and a berth to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge worth $10,000.

The full NHC and Consolation Tournament standings can be accessed at

The NHC was held for the second straight year in the historic Bally’s Event Center, which for three days was transformed into the world’s largest race book. The next NHC is set for Jan. 28-30, 2022, at Bally’s Las Vegas.

The NHC finals awarded cash prizes to 56 players—the top 10 percent of finishers—from a total purse of $2,154,000. An additional $50,000 went to the top 20 in today’s Consolation Tournament. Including $367,500 paid out to top finishers in the year-long NHC Tour, NHC Tour travel awards, RTN subscriptions, and the $10,000 Charity Challenge tournament prize, plus $30,000 worth of Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge prizes in the form of entry fees, bankrolls, airfare and hotel, the aggregate value of payouts this weekend in NHC cash and prizes totaled $3,423,552.

To make the Semifinals cut, the 456 NHC entrants were required to place 35 mythical $2 Win and Place wagers—17 on Friday (one less than scheduled due to a weather cancellation) and 18 on Saturday.

DraftKings Final Table participants were relocated to a single table in the middle of the Bally’s Event Center that served as NHC headquarters.

Final Table Race Results

Race: Winner ($2 Win, $2 Place), Second ($2 Place)
Monmouth, Race 10: 8-Alta Velocita ($6.20, $4), 10-Jersey Jewel ($9.40)
Saratoga, Race 9: 8-Sifting Sands ($18.80, $9.60), 5-Dreamer’s Disease ($12.20)
Saratoga, Race 10: 6-Chulainn ($22.60, $11), 11-Lord Flintshire ($11)
Del Mar, Race 6: 2-Perfectionist ($8.80), 3-Mesut ($6.20)
Del Mar, Race 7: 6-Bella Vita ($4.40, $3.20), 1-Livingmybestlife ($6)
Golden Gate, Race 8: 6-Friday’s at Shady ($9.40, $4.40), 3-Pour On the Cole ($6.20)
Del Mar, Race 8: 5-Rose’s Crystal ($41.80, $16.40), 4-Warrens Candy Girl ($6.40)

The 2020 NHC Tour winner Sally Goodall, who was eligible for a $2 million bonus if she could top the NHC, had two entries—one finished in 493rd place with a $41.40 bankroll and the second in 598th with $7.

Goodall, a record-tying 19-time NHC qualifier, was inducted in the NHC Hall of Fame at Sunday night’s Champions’ Dinner, as was Ray Arsenault, the 2017 NHC winner and third all-time NHC money-earner.

Defending NHC champion Thomas Goldsmith advanced to the Semifinals round with both of his entries and finished 18th ($246.80) and 25th ($224.20). He was one of only two players with multiple entries in the Semifinal round.

In a separate Consolation Tournament for players that did not reach the Semifinal round, Vincent Achillare of Convent Station, N.J., won the $10,000 top prize with a bankroll of $96.30 from 10 optional races. The Consolation Tournament started with bankrolls reset to zero. Cash prizes totaling $50,000 were awarded, from the $10,000 first prize down to $1,000 for 20th.

The 2021 NHC was the culmination of 256 qualifying contests held online and at racetracks and OTBs in 2020. From those contests, there were 35,730 entries played in hopes of making it to Bally’s Las Vegas.

The National Horseplayers Championship is presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas and sponsored by 1/ST BET, Breeders’ Cup, Capitol OTB, Century Bets, Daily Racing Form, Draft Kings, EquinEdge, FanDuel Group, Four Roses Bourbon, Hawthorne Racecourse, Hialeah Park,,, Keeneland, Monmouth Park, NYRA Bets, Roberts Communications, Santa Anita Park, STATS® Race Lens, The Stronach Group, TVG and Xpressbet.

source: NTRA

AGOS Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – Aug 29

track announcer with binocularsFREE horses to watch and trip notes for visitors of the education website


CHROME RACER (Race 6 at GP, August 13, 2021) – 2nd time starter from the hot Louie Roussel barn finished well to get up for 2nd behind the gate to wire winner.  Rallied against the grain of the speed favoring track.

BULLET ON TAP (Race 2 at GP, August 6, 2021) – first time starter going 7 furlongs showed good early speed and chased the winner home in the lane.  Was green in the stretch and would probably benefit from blinkers.


PRICE TALK (Race 2 at SAR, August 13, 2021) – This guy overcame a wide trip and some trouble, including the rider nearly losing the whip in the stretch.  Royally-bred turf runner should be able to handle a slight class rise next out.

Complimentary Full-card Pace Chart for 2021 Travers Saturday

Here is your complimentary Pace Chart for today’s Saratoga card on 2021 Travers Saturday!

Race 1 Expected Pace Leaders Stalkers Mid-Pack Closers Unknown
8.50 Furlongs / Inner Turf Unknown 7 5-2-8 10 3-4-6-1-9-11-1A
Race 2
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Unknown 1 4 2-3-5-6-7
Race 3
8.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 5 4-7 1-3-6 2-1A-8
Race 4
8.50 Furlongs / Inner Turf Slow/Modest 5 2-4 6-3-1
Race 5
6.50 Furlongs / Dirt Unknown 4 5-7 9-8 2-3-1-6
Race 6
5.50 Furlongs / Turf Honest/Fast 4 5-9-6 8-1-2-12 3-7-10-11
Race 7
7.00 Furlongs / Dirt Honest *1 2-4 7-6-5 3
Race 8
7.00 Furlongs / Dirt Honest 7 1-3 8-6-4 5-2
Race 9
7.00 Furlongs / Dirt Very Fast 2 4-1 6-3-5
Race 10
9.00 Furlongs / Dirt Fast 6 7-4 2-3-8 9-1-5
Race 11
12.0 Furlongs / Inner Turf Fast 1 4-5 7-3-2 6
Race 12
10.00 Furlongs / Dirt Modest 6 1-2 5-7-4 3
Race 13
8.50 Furlongs / Turf Modest 12 1-13-3 8-14-10-2 6-5-9-16-11-15 4-7

Day 1 Notes from the Re-scheduled 2021 NHC in Las Vegas

Handicapper Colin Cummings leads the way into day two of the NHC after scoring $165.90 on Friday (day 1 of the NHC).  Track the live action during the day with the NTRA leaderboard link.

Top Trainer Broberg Makes Second NHC Appearance

Karl Broberg, among the winningest active trainers in North America and 13th all-time, is an NHC qualifier for the second year in a row.

“I feel about as confident as I did last year, which is not at all,” Broberg said. “You just have to catch fire on the right day.”

The prolific horseman had a six-year run as the continent’s top trainer from 2015 to 2020 and was second last year to Steve Asmussen. As of Friday afternoon Broberg had 273 wins in 2021. His career mark stands at 4,090.

According to Broberg, any perceived advantages that trainers might have – like inside intel on other horses – are irrelevant in handicapping contests.

“Trainers are the worst touts in the world,” he said. “You love your horse and you get tunnel vision. If anything, I think it’s a detriment, unfortunately.”

Broberg owns and trains Bustin Bay in Friday’s Race 6 at Saratoga, the NHC’s second mandatory race. By rule Broberg is not allowed to participate in that race and will instead play an alternate, the Race 8 finale at Del Mar.

Over the three days of the NHC, Broberg has horses entered at six different tracks, including Saratoga, where he has stalls for the first time this summer. The majority of Broberg’s training wins have come in Texas and Louisiana but his success has also allowed him to attract better stock from new owners.

Broberg has amassed a significant following on Twitter (@KarlBroberg) as a result of his unusually candid posts, which often include tips on his own horses and photos of winning tickets.

New Caesars/William Hill Rewards Program at Bally’s Las Vegas

NHC qualifiers who bet into the pari-mutuel pools will get more bang for their buck thanks to a new partnership between Caesars Entertainment, parent company of Bally’s Las Vegas, and William Hill, who operates the race and sports books at Caesar’s properties in Nevada. In addition to the traditional Caesar’s Rewards program, horseplayers can also participate in the William Hill Rewards Club, with 4% of one’s handle returned in the form of comps throughout the property.

NHC qualifiers who sign up for the William Hill Rewards Club will receive 5,000 credits for their first $50 wager. Those points can be used at the newly rebranded Caesars Race & Sportsbook or for dining and other perks around the Bally’s Las Vegas property.

“A lot of these NHC players are accustomed to rebates so I’m glad we can offer them something substantial while they are here playing with us,” said William Hill’s Director of Race Operations Steve Alford. “

“I’m sure I’ll reach out to these players and invite them back out here to see us again a few times during the year,” Alford said.

Gulf Coast Players Keep One Eye on Developing Hurricane

Louisiana always boasts a strong presence at the NHC and this year is no exception, with seven players from the Bayou State, led by past champions and perennial qualifiers Judy Wagner (2001) and Michael Beychok (2012). The Louisiana delegation is having a hard time concentrating, though, as Hurricane Ida bears down on the Gulf Coast with landfall expected Sunday afternoon, around the same time the DraftKings Final Table will get underway.

“It weighs on you,” said Beychok. “You always hope the news will get better but it’s getting worse. This looks like a really bad one. We’ve all been working the phones constantly, trying to figure out where and when we can get back. I’ve been worried about family, first of all, and then working with clients trying to make sure their connections are solid.”

Most of the Louisiana-bred NHC players sit together at their usual spot, Table 1, in the Bally’s Event Center. For Ryan Berni, a political consultant who served as Deputy Mayor of New Orleans under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, his first NHC appearance is not playing out at all like he’d imagined.

“My family’s headed to Florida right now,” Berni said. “I’m going to try to get back as soon as I can. I haven’t hit anything so far. I’ve been watching this storm all week; a lot more than I’ve been watching the races.”

Ida is expected to grow into a Category 4 hurricane. The projected path anticipates landfall somewhere along the Louisiana coast, with the eastern edge stretching into Mississippi.

Jon “Hurricane” Hurd is a New Orleans native and all too aware that his longtime nickname lands a little differently under the circumstances. Part of his strategy for dealing with the news from back home has been to submit his plays early in the day. That way he can monitor odds fluctuations and adjust as needed but has already made clear-headed decisions if he has to take calls from clients or kin. Hurd’s parents are contemplating whether to evacuate to their son’s home in Little Rock, Ark.

“It’s hard because everyone’s calling and they have so much going on,” Hurd said. “You can’t take hurricanes lightly. I’ll be praying for my family and friends but also doing everything I can to stay focused on winning the NHC.”

BCBC Winner Gramm Will Take a Swing at $3 Million Bonus

As the winner of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, where he took home $492,750 between the prize pool and live-money earnings, Marshall Gramm is eligible for a $3 million bonus, the largest prize ever offered for a handicapping contest. The economics professor at Rhodes College in Memphis has pondered the potential windfall but tries to remain realistic about his chances of taking it.

“I made sure I did a little more work,” Gramm said. “You have to have a lot go right though. I didn’t want the bonus to create a lot of pressure for myself. This is still a great weekend to just enjoy Vegas and see friends.”

Gramm insists this NHC is not suited to his personal gambling style because he only follows a few favorite tracks – especially Oaklawn Park – and strongly prefers dirt racing. Nonetheless, as economist who obsesses over EV (“expected value”), Gramm has considered how his strategy might be impacted with the bonus in play. The added money incentivizes him to go all-out for the Final Table even if he risks giving up ground in the overall standings.

“I want to play to win the thing but at some point that usually becomes a lost cause” Gramm said. “But [Saturday] afternoon I’ll still be playing longshots because I might get lucky.”

New Sportech Contest Platform Debuts

Behind all of the personalities, hospitality, and drama of a top-class handicapping tournament is the infrastructure that actually keeps the contest running. Thursday’s “Last Chance/Next Chance” qualifier at Bally’s marked the debut of a completely new, state-of-the art tournament platform developed by Sportech, the international betting technology company.

The new platform is similar to that seen at contest sites like Monmouth Park, Hawthorne Race Course, and Lone Star Park. However, the software had to be updated to accommodate the mythical bankroll format of the NHC.

Among the innovations that players can’t miss are a real-time leaderboard that displays how many mandatory and optional races each entrant has completed. The full TVG Leaderboard suspended in the center of the Bally’s Las Vegas ballroom displays the top eight on the left side and a rotating look at the entirety of the field, in descending order, on the right.

“The NTRA has been working with Sportech, William Hill, and Caesars Entertainment for more than six months on a new contest platform,” said NTRA COO and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “We are very pleased with the initial results and appreciate the investment by our partners in delivering what we hope will be a much-improved contest experience for our customers.”
For the first time, all contest plays must be made on self-service terminals dedicated for contest use, eliminating the possibility of teller error.

“Our ultimate goal in the future is to allow participants to play from their table in the Events Center on their phone or tablet,” Chamblin said.

A less-apparent feature that can have big ramifications for certain players is an improved process for canceling tickets. If a selection scratches from an optional race, for instance, that ticket is completely canceled so there is no risk of suddenly ending up on a post-time favorite the player never liked in the first place.

“We will learn some things from this weekend and continue to make improvements going into the 2022 NHC,” Chamblin said.

Soure: NTRA

NHC Begins Friday in Las Vegas

NTRA NHC logoLAS VEGAS (Wednesday, August 25, 2021) – The calendar tells us the 2020 renewal of the National Horseplayers Championship was “only” 18 months ago, even if it feels like several lifetimes since roughly 600 gamblers gathered at Bally’s for the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping contest. Nearly 200 days after being postponed due to COVID-19, #NHC2021 is set for this weekend, Friday to Sunday, as a midsummer betting extravaganza at Bally’s Las Vegas.

The nature of pandemic life in 2020 forced the cancelation of many on-track contests, but led to unprecedented interest in online wagering on Thoroughbred racing and online handicapping contests. As a result, this weekend’s 22nd NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas will carry cash prizes of some $2.01 million, including a grand prize of $700,000, and overall prize money and travel awards of nearly $3 million. Some 449 individuals and 550 entries (101 of the players earned the maximum of two entries) will also compete for an Eclipse Award and the title of “Horseplayer of the Year.” (A total of 75 berths to the 2021 NHC, and approximately $350,000 in prize money, will be transferred to the 2022 NHC primarily due to issues related to COVID-19).

The NHC field will be reduced to the top 10 percent of players after the first two days. The highest 10 cumulative scores after the Semi-final round on Sunday morning will fill out the DraftKings Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semi-final round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

This year’s track menu for mandatory and optional races is comprised of Del Mar, Ellis Park, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Woodbine Racetrack. All but Gulfstream and Golden Gate are part of the NHC for the first time.

“The 2021 NHC has been a long time coming but will be worth the wait,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director, Keith Chamblin. “I want everyone involved—horseplayers, sponsors, and contest partners—to know how much we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we navigated having to reschedule the event. Having world-class summer racing from Del Mar and Saratoga, including the star-studded Runhappy Travers Day card, as well as the addition of new tracks Monmouth Park, Ellis Park and Woodbine, is going to make this an exciting and memorable NHC.”
Players who do not make the Semi-final cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate $50,000 Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.

At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 201) from Bally’s and online at daily, from 9-12 a.m. ET/6-9 a .m. PT on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday, with NHC coverage at slated for 2-8 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-5 p.m. PT) Friday-Sunday. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.

Defending NHC champion Thomas Goldsmith heads this year’s field, which is comprised of an estimated 449 individuals (pending the outcome of Thursday’s Last Chance/Next Chance Contest). There are 100 rookies, representing some 22 percent of the field. There are 101 dual qualifiers going into Thursday’s Last Chance/Next Chance Contest at the Bally’s Events Center.

As the 2020 NHC winner, Goldsmith received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won 563 days ago when he prevailed in his first time playing in the NHC. Goldsmith amassed a winning bankroll of $404.10 over the three-day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets. He will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will eight other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions are Scott Coles (2019), Ray Arsenault (2017), Jose Arias (2014), Michael Beychok (2012), Stanley Bavlish (2007), Steve Wolfson, Jr. (2003), Judy Wagner (2001) and Steven Walker (2000).
Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments. As the winner of the 2020 NHC Tour, legendary 20-time qualifier Sally Goodall won $100,000 and an NHC berth. She also is eligible for a $5 million bonus if she goes on to win at the 2021 NHC finals.

Marshall Gramm, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC), is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus if he takes down the NHC title.

In its 22nd year, the NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments. NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 31 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations, and other Thoroughbred racing organizations.

The #NHC2021 qualifier hosts were: Aqueduct, At the Races with Steve Byk, Bally’s Las Vegas, Belmont Park, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Capital OTB, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fonner Park, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hialeah Park,,, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Lone Star Park, Monmouth Park, NTRA, NYRA Bets, Ruidoso Downs, S. Florida HBPA, Sam Houston Race Park, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga, Sport of Kings, STATS Race Lens, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, TVG and

The tournament format for the NHC is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on mythical $2 Win-and-Place wagers. Assigned “mandatory” races – eight per day on Day 1 and Day 2 and seven at the Final Table – will be announced at least 36 hours prior to each contest day (Wednesday evening for Friday, Thursday evening for Saturday, Friday evening for Sunday) on Twitter (@NTRA) and

The remaining 10 races on Day 1 and Day 2 and all 10 plays in the Semifinal round will be optional wagers on races at one of the seven designated tournament tracks.

On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the 7th Annual NTRA NHC Charity Challenge presented by Four Roses Bourbon. A field of approximately 60 will compete for the $5,000 charitable prize with $2,500 set to be donated in the winner’s name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the other $2,500 going to the winner’s charity of choice.

The National Horseplayers Championship is presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas and sponsored by 1/ST BET, Breeders’ Cup, Capitol OTB, Century Bets, Daily Racing Form, DraftKings, EquinEdge, FanDuel Group, Four Roses Bourbon, Hawthorne Racecourse, Hialeah Park,,, Keeneland, Monmouth Park, NYRA Bets, Roberts Communications, Santa Anita Park, STATS® Race Lens, The Stronach Group, TVG and Xpressbet.

Preview of the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet

Today, we take a look at Sunday mornings Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet, a race that could have Breeders’ Cup implications. It is the only French feature open to the older mares ie four year olds and up.


Third in the G1 Prix de Royallieu (2800m) in October 2020, Ebaiyra has improved during her four-year old campaign and achieved a Group Two success in the Prix Corrida (2100m). She has since finished runner-up in the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (2400m) and returns to 2000m for the first time since her win in the G3 Prix Allez France (2000m).

Lady Bowthorpe

Lady Bowthorpe burst onto the scene with a second behind Palace Pier in the G1 Lockinge Stakes (1600m) at Newbury in May. She ran with credit in Group 1600m events subsequently and achieved a career-best performance when winning the G1 Nassau Stakes (1980m) at Glorious Goodwood and is capable of a big effort.

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Isinuendo remains unexposed after five racecourse starts. She was a useful fourth in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes (2000m) and enjoyed a drop back in class when scoring by one and a half lengths in the G2 Kilboy Estate Stakes (1800m). Has the ability to sneak a place.

Grand Glory

Grand Glory is a very experienced performer who finished third in the G1 Prix de Diane (2100m) in 2019. She has picked up plenty of prize money since and returned to winning ways in Group company when scoring by two lengths in the G3 Grand Prix de Vichy (2000m), however would need to improve to win.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper has featured in some of the best races in the calendar and placed second in the G1 Irish Oaks (2400m) as a three-year-old. She has only had two starts in 2021 and is potentially still improving after a third in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes (2000m).

Thundering Nights

Thundering Nights is aiming to uphold her winning form in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes (2000m) with re-opposing rivals. She has proven capable of big efforts at Group level in all three starts in 2021 and continues to progress. Her second in the G2 New York Stakes (2000m) at Belmont Park (USA) indicates travelling is not a problem.


Eudaimonia is trying her luck against considerably tougher opposition after a fourth in the Listed Prix du Pays d’Auge (1800m) at Clairefontaine. She has not shown the same level of form as her opponents and may struggle.


Ambition returns to female only company after a sixth in the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud over 2400m on seasonal reappearance. In 2020 she picked up a Group Two and Group Three event but probably falls short of Group One company.


Winner of this race in 2020, Audarya enjoyed an excellent 2020 season culminating in a hard-fought victory in the G1 Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf (1900m). Arguably she has the best form in the race but has not shone in the same way this year and was last seen finishing fifth behind Lady Bowthorpe in the G1 Nassau Stakes (2000m) at Glorious Goodwood.

Source: French PMU

Did you know? How the Big Apple Got Its Name

Morning Start: New York gained its ‘Big Apple’ nickname from horse racingNew York state is America’s top apple grower, after the state of Washington, but New York City’s nickname has nothing to do with fruit production. In fact, the Big Apple moniker first gained popularity in connection with horseracing. Around 1920, New York City newspaper reporter John Fitz Gerald, whose beat was the track, heard African-American stable hands in New Orleans say they were going to “the big apple,” a reference to New York City, whose race tracks were considered big-time venues. Fitz Gerald soon began making mention of the Big Apple in his newspaper columns. In the 1930s, jazz musicians adopted the term to indicate New York City was home to big-league music clubs.

The nickname later faded from use and wasn’t revived until…

more on the Big Apple from the history channel

Jam-packed Stakes card for Saturday’s Pacific Classic Day

Four Graded stakes, each eligible to be a card topper on a given day, instead will provide a first-rate “undercard” for Saturday’s Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar.

Topping the quartet are a pair of $300,000 offerings – the Grade I Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade II Del Mar Handicap presented by The Japan Racing Association. The former is run at nine furlongs on grass, while the latter goes at a mile and three eighths on the green for 3-year-olds and up.

Inside Information: Del Mar Racing is back and better than everAlso on the agenda is another $300,000 Grade II special, the Del Mar Mile on the main track. The fourth stakes is the Grade III, $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for sophomore fillies traveling a mile on the dirt.

The Oaks has lured a field of nine including a pair of shippers: Head of Plains Partners’ Fluffy Socks in from New York and Yuesheng Zhang’s Soaring Sky aboard from her native Ireland.

The Del Mar Handicap will bring out 10 competitors and sets up for a clash of titans between two of the best grass route horses in the country in LNJ Foxwoods’ United and Donegal Racing, Bulger and Coneway’s Arklow.

Six will go hard and heavy at the classic flat mile in the Del Mar Mile and each and everyone of them is a major stakes winner. Their purse earnings got past the $5.4-million mark and they’re all seasoned racehorses eligible to fire a big shot Saturday.

In the Torrey Pines, seven will face the starter, each of them eyeing their first graded stakes score. The Fast Anna filly I’m So Anna has the most bragging rights in the group currently with a pair of Cal-bred stakes on her ledger and $289,740 in the bank.

Undercard for Pacific Classic Day

The “undercard” races will be run like this: Torrey Pines – 6th Race; Del Mar Mile – 7th Race; Del Mar Oaks – 9th Race; Del Mar Handicap – 11th Race. The TVG Pacific Classic is the day’s 10th Race.

The key prep race for the Del Mar Oaks is the Grade II, $150,000 San Clemente Stakes, run at Del Mar at a mile on the turf on July 24. The one, two, three finishers from the race — Kaleem Shah’s Madone, Dubb, Gevertz or Nentwig, et al’s Going Global and Slam Dunk Racing or Platts’ Tetragonal – are all back to try their luck in the more demanding and more lucrative Oaks.

The likely battle royale between United and Arklow in the Del Mar Handicap will be a fitting nitecap to a delicious day of racing. The pair of turf behemoths bring plenty of bragging rights to the race: United, a 6-year-old gelding by Giant’s Causeway, has won nine races and $1,675,549. He was second, beaten a head, in this race last year. Arklow also has won nine races, but his bankroll goes past his chief rival at $2,755,746. The long-winded stretch kicker shipped to Del Mar last fall and made short work of the Hollywood Turf Cup at a mile and a half. Both runners will have their regular riders – Flavien Prat on United and Florent Geroux on Arklow.

The Del Mar Handicap is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge race that guarantees the winner all expenses paid admission into the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, which will be run at Del Mar on Saturday, November 6.


Horse Racing Czar Rips NY Sports Betting Process

A week after the New York Gaming Commission announced that it had received six bids with the goal of offering mobile sports betting in the state, Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural remained in an ornery mood this week at the Racing and Gaming Conference held at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“I’m being nice — I won’t be so nice later,” Gural said on Tuesday morning during a Q&A portion of one conference panel, as he warned two elected officials that if the process fails, “You’ll have everybody laughing at you.”

And as part of the last panel of the two-day event at the iconic racetrack, Gural showed he was not joking.

As owner of two upstate New York harness racing tracks — Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs — Gural has reason to have mixed feelings about New York’s plan for a mobile betting tax rate of at least 50%.

The more inefficient a formula that plays out in New York, the more likely it is that the FanDuel Sportsbook at this Meadowlands site — the highest-grossing such book in the country — suffers minimal harm. But for the 79-year-old New York and New Jersey real estate mogul, putting forward what he sees as a poor business model seems to offend Gural most of all.

Asked for his overall opinion of the New York plan, Gural groused, “I don’t think they got anything right. They got..

XB Net Inks New Deal with Hawthorne Race Course

Fans at Hawthorne racecourse. Fans at Hawthorne racecourseXB Net, a provider of premium content for North American horse racing, has agreed to a new distribution deal and a multi-year contract renewal option with Chicago’s Hawthorne Race Course.

The agreement, commented the firm, heralds another milestone partnership with one of the United States’ most historic racetracks, particularly as it embarks on a $400m redevelopment to add sports betting, casino-style gaming and other entertainment amenities.

Hawthorne Race Course forms part of a wider network of over 60 North American tracks whose steady stream of rapid-cycling content is proven, said XB Net, to increase digital dwell-time for its clients and their customers.

Moreover, the deal helps to immediately leverage the 50 thoroughbred race-days that comprise Hawthorne’s traditional fall/winter meetings and will build momentum for further fan engagement in 2022 when it is the only race track in the Chicago area, which is the third-largest media market in the US.

Elsewhere, Hawthorne’s CDT time zone naturally clocks on for core UK and European racing audiences, generating increased fan engagement at peak leisure times. Its daily schedule of coverage, which neatly complements Europe’s domestic racing action, provides operators with a trustworthy source of rapid-settling betting content from 18:00 CET.

John Walsh, Assistant General Manager at Hawthorne Race Course, said: “This close collaboration with XB Net will expand the international reach and appeal of Illinois thoroughbred racing. The distribution of our content to both mature and emerging markets requires strong partnerships that will showcase the very exciting future of Hawthorne and racing at Chicago’s hometown track.”