Archives for February 2024

A Trio of Great Handicappers Added to NHC Hall of Fame

Lexington, Ky., (February 29, 2024): The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Kevin ‘Duke’ Matties, Jim Meeks, and Brett Wiener have been voted by their peers for induction into the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship’s Hall of Fame. These three esteemed handicappers represent the tenth class of NHC Hall of Fame inductees and will be recognized during the NHC Champions Dinner on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at the conclusion of the 25th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) at the Horseshoe Las Vegas.

Kevin ‘Duke’ Matties, of Laguna Beach, California, has spent half his life as a professional horseplayer and nearly one-third of his life as an annual qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship. As of 2023, Duke had qualified to the NHC 17 times and cashed checks on eight occasions. Duke, who as a teenager was a New York State Champion bowler, is part of a prominent horse racing and handicapping family that can be found in the summer in ‘the backyard’ at Saratoga Race Course. Duke’s brother, Paul, won the 2016 NHC (the same year Duke finished fourth) and is a fellow member of the NHC Hall of Fame. His brother, Gregg, won nearly 2,000 races as a Thoroughbred trainer in the northeast over a span of some 30 years. The patriarch of the Matties family, Chick, is a multiple qualifier to the NHC. Duke now calls California home, where he resides with his wife, Kimberly, daughter, Lucky, and son, Carson, who at the age of 24 already is a multiple qualifier to the NHC.

When asked what it means to him to be inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame, Duke said, “The fact that it’s voted by the players is a tremendous honor. I’m elated to be inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame.”

Jim Meeks, of Elko, Nevada, was raised on a small ranch in northeast Nevada that had no electricity, no power, no television, and no phones. He grew up reading by the light of a coal oil lamp. He describes it as an idyllic childhood. He never left his native Elko, where he is a successful businessman and served for 30 years as a Steward at the six-day race meeting at the Elko County Fairgrounds where he was Grand Marshall of the annual parade in 2015. That seems much further than the 375-mile drive to Las Vegas, where for more than a decade Meeks has routinely out-performed many of the nation’s best horseplayers. As of 2023, Meeks had three top 50 finishes at the NHC, including a second-place finish worth $250,000 in 2019. His other major scores included a victory in the 2015 Horseplayers World Series in Las Vegas.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by your peers for something we all love so much,” Meeks said.

Brett Wiener, of Clearwater, Florida, arrived on the handicapping contest scene in 2009 when he won the first NHC online qualifier he entered. Since then, he’s won or placed in major contests held at racetracks from coast-to-coast and in Canada: They include Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Del Mar, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Santa Anita, Saratoga, Tampa Bay Downs, Turfway Park, and Woodbine, among others. Wiener, who also participates in the NHC Mentor program, is formidable in every conceivable contest format, including onsite and online tournaments. He and his wife, Sarah, also a highly accomplished contest player, have been annual mainstays at the National Horseplayers Championship for 15-plus years.

“The NHC, and through all of the contests throughout the years, has allowed me to meet so many great players, with like interests, that have become great lifelong friends,” Wiener said. “To be nominated, and then voted into the Hall of Fame, by those same people, is a great honor.”

Over the past 24 years, nearly 4,000 people have filled more than 10,000 NHC entries and have been awarded nearly $50,000,000 in prizes. This year the NHC will host more than 600 individuals and will award nearly $4 million in cash and prizes. This is the tenth NHC Hall of Fame class to be inducted after being voted on by their peers.

Matties, Meeks, and Wiener join 23 past Hall of Fame inductees: Jose Arias (2023) , Dennis Decauwer (2023), Jim Goodman (2023), Bill Shurman (2023), Stanley Bavlish (2022), Michael Beychok (2022), Ray Arsenault (2021), Roger Cettina (2020), Steve Crist (2016), J. Randy Gallo (2022), Richard Goodall (2020), Sally Goodall (2021), David Gutfreund (2022), Chris Larmey (2018), Paul Matties Jr. (2022), Mike Mayo (2015), Ron Rippey (2015), Paul Shurman (2017), Trey Stiles (2019), Bryan Wagner (2019), Judy Wagner (2016), Steve Wolfson Sr. (2017), and Steve Wolfson Jr. (2018).

To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to www.ntra.com/membership.

About the NHC

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 conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities, and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. There are no bye-ins to the NHC. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards and is named Horseplayer of the Year. For more information on the NHC, visit NTRA.com/nhc.

ABOUT THE NTRA

The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky. and Washington, D.C.,, is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. For more information visit NTRA.com.

Hong Kong Horse Racing Analysis for Wednesday – Feb. 28

HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS
(Wednesday, February 28, 2024)

Race 1: #10 Loyal Ambition, #3 Palace Pal, #8 Brilliant Pioneer, #12 Mighty Star
Race 2:
#3 Fire Ball, #1 Chiu Chow Brother, #7 Double Show, #6 Tactical Command
Race 3:
#10 Circuit Seven, #3 Parents’ Love, #12 Lean Master, #5 Oversubscribed
Race 4:
#7 Gold Tack, #3 Dragon Star, #2 Samarkand, #5 Sturdy Ruby
Race 5:
#1 Superb Capitalist, #5 Raging Blizzard, #6 Wings Of War, #3 Healthy Healthy
Race 6:
#2 Super Joy N Fun, #9 Crystal Powerful, #3 Golden Bull, #10 Tattenham
Race 7:
#4 M Unicorn, #5 Ivy League, #3 Eighteen Palms, #2 Silver Sonic
Race 8:
#2 Joyful Hunter, #8 Denfield, #4 Sugar Sugar, #7 Chain Of Gold  
Race 9:
#11 Dan Attack, #1 Beauty Infinity, #7 Vantastic Choice, #3 Jumbo Legend

 

Race 1: Sai Kung Handicap (2.40am PST, 5.40am EST) 

#10 Loyal Ambition is racing well and he’s so, so close to recording another win. He gets that opportunity here under Karis Teetan, even from the widest draw. #3 Palace Pal has a powerful finish and he’s on the cusp of landing a first win. He’s better than Class 5, however, his get-back style of racing is proving costly. #8 Brilliant Pioneer was solid last start and he can continue to race at the level of form here. He’ll shuffle back early before closing late. #12 Mighty Star slots in light and managed to turn his form around last start. Next best.

 

Hong Kong Happy Valley fireworksRace 2: Tai Po Handicap (3.10am PST, 6.10am EST) 

#3 Fire Ball was a tidy winner two starts ago and he remains in Class 5. He’s racing well and gets a suitable chance this week. He’ll take beating on recent form. #1 Chiu Chow Brother’s last start in Class 5 returned a win. Chances are he rolls to the front from the gate and tries to play catch me if you can. He can take reeling in. #7 Double Show is a winner already this season and he’s holding his condition. He gets his chance. #6 Tactical Command has mixed his form but perhaps from gate one he can use this to his advantage. Next best.

 

Race 3: Fanling Handicap (3.40am PST, 6.40am EST) 

#10 Circuit Seven won well last start and he gets another chance in the grade here. Zac Purton hops up and his winning form might be too much this group. #3 Parents’ Love is doing plenty right and he’s lightly raced with a stack of upside. Expecting further improvement from him this week. #12 Lean Master slots in light and gets his opportunity. He has a stack of gate speed and could easily take up the running here. #5 Oversubscribed knows how to win at Happy Valley and he has a strong closing speed. Next best.

 

Race 4: Sheung Shui Handicap (4.10am PST, 7.10am EST) 

#7 Gold Tack has returned in sound condition this season. He’s gone close several times across his career and gets another super chance returning to Happy Valley. Conditions suit and he’s the one they all must beat. #3 Dragon Star rarely runs a bad race. He’ll roll forward and make his own luck from there. #2 Samarkand is a two-time winner this season. He’s still racing well and is worth keeping an eye on. #5 Sturdy Ruby charged into second position last start. Expecting similar again from him here with Zac Purton sticking aboard.

 

Race 5: The Rotary Centenary Challenge Cup Handicap (1st Section) (4.40am PST, 7.40am EST) 

#1 Superb Capitalist can roll to the front and give this group something to catch. He’s a solid talent who can use the inside gate to his advantage. One to catch, even though he can mix his form at times. #5 Raging Blizzard has a few rating points still in hand. He’s lightly raced but has a stack of potential. #6 Wings Of War narrowly missed last start. He can take another step forward this week and has shown that he’s close to a first win. #3 Healthy Healthy has been in superb form this season. He gets his chance.

 

Race 6: Tsuen Wan Handicap (2nd Section) (5.10am PST, 8.10am EST) 

#2 Super Joy N Fun won in fine style on debut and he has the scope to further improve this week. He’s a super talent and his best is yet to come. One to beat. #9 Crystal Powerful failed in his bid to capture a hat-trick of wins last start, still, he managed to make up significant ground and with luck he should go close this week. #3 Golden Bull is yet to win but has always been around the mark. This shouldn’t change, especially with Zac Purton aboard. #10 Tattenham is next in line. He goes about his racing very well.

Read the recap of the 2024 Saudi Cup

Race 7: Tsing Yi Handicap (5.45am PST, 8.45am EST) 

#4 M Unicorn is a four-time winner this season. He’s rapidly rising and his ascent appears far from over, especially with Hugh Bowman hopping up from an ideal draw. He’s the one they all must beat. #5 Ivy League is in the right vein of form this term. He’s a winner now and remains a factor this week. #3 Eighteen Palms is chasing back-to-back wins. Remaining in Class 3 is a plus, especially with Harry Bentley engaged once more. #2 Silver Sonic is better than his form suggests. He can make his presence felt from gate one. Don’t discount.

 

Race 8: Kwai Chung Handicap (2nd Section) (6.15am PST, 9.15am EST) 

#2 Joyful Hunter can mix his form but he is seriously good on his day. His latest effort was sound for fourth and he should be able to take another forward step here. One to beat. #8 Denfield slots in light with Zac Purton engaged. He’s consistent, aside from his effort two starts ago, and this should be rewarded soon enough this season. #4 Sugar Sugar got on the board last time out and that level of form holds him in good stead here. #7 Chain Of Gold has improved across his only two starts in Hong Kong. Keep safe.

 

Race 9: Tsuen Wan Handicap (1st Section) (6.50am PST, 9.50am EST) 

#11 Dan Attack was an impressive winner last start and he can continue to step up this week. He remains in Class 4 which suits and carries another light weight, even against strong opposition. #1 Beauty Infinity is lightly raced and continues to progress. He’ll take beating under Zac Purton, even with top weight assigned. #7 Vantastic Choice is a two-time winner from his last three starts. Expecting he’ll lead and give this group something to run down. #3 Jumbo Legend is better than his last start suggests. He’ll reverse that form here.

Dust Settles in the Desert: A Recap of the Thrilling 2024 Saudi Cup!

The sand has barely settled on the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, but the echoes of hooves and cheers still reverberate after a thrilling day of racing at the 2024 Saudi Cup. With purses totaling a staggering $35 million, the world’s richest horse racing event contested on Saturday, February 24 lived up to its billing, delivering nail-biting finishes and unexpected heroes.

Señor Buscador Steals the Show:

The main event, the $20 million Saudi Cup, saw a dramatic come-from-behind victory by 13-1 longshot Señor Buscador. Ridden by Junior Alvarado, the American-trained gelding trailed the pack for most of the race before launching a powerful late surge in the final furlong to snatch the win from Charoleton. This emotional victory capped a lifelong dream for owner Joey Peacock and New Mexico trainer Todd Fincher, proving that heart and determination can conquer even the toughest odds.

“He was unbelievable,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “That horse that finished second passed us at the sixteenth pole. I was saying, ‘C’mon boy. C’mon boy. Keep going here.’ He kept going right down to the wire.”

REY DE ORO SEEKS REDEMPTION IN LONGINES DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSICDerby Delight for Forever Young:

The G3 Boutique Group Saudi Derby saw a dominant performance by Japanese champion Forever Young. Despite encountering early trouble, the rising star displayed incredible stamina to power through the field and cross the line first. This win cemented Forever Young’s status as a global force in horse racing and set the stage for an exciting future.

Bargain Buy Blazes to Sprint Glory:

The G3 Neom Turf Sprint witnessed a fairytale ending for Anaaf. This modestly priced gelding, ridden by Rossa Ryan, defied the odds to take home the win in a thrilling photo finish. His victory proved that talent can shine through, regardless of pedigree or price tag.

Other Notable Wins:

  • Remake captured the G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint, showcasing his impressive speed on the dirt track.
  • Desert Hero triumphed in the G3 1351 Turf Cup, adding another chapter to his impressive career.
  • Mubasher claimed the G3 Neom Turf Cup, demonstrating his dominance in the staying division.

Beyond the Winners:

The 2024 Saudi Cup wasn’t just about the top finishers. The event showcased the incredible athleticism of the horses, the skill of the jockeys, and the dedication of trainers and owners from around the world. It served as a platform for international sporting collaboration and cultural exchange, bringing together horse racing enthusiasts from all corners of the globe.

Hong Kong Horse Racing Selections for Sunday, Feb. 25

SHA TIN SELECTIONS
(Sunday, February 25, 2024)

Race 1: #5 Circuit Blazing, #12 Starship Eighty, #2 Romantic Fantasy, #4 Darci Joy
Race 2:
#1 The Golden Scenery, #5 Spirited Express, #4 Fantastic Treasure, #3 Atullibigeal
Race 3:
#4 Charmander, #11 Brother Pearl, #3 Superb Move, #1 Dragon Pride
Race 4:
#1 Master Stroke, #13 Winning Heart, #3 Lifeline Express, #4 Solid Shalaa
Race 5:
#8 Gale Saga, #13 Spicy Gold, #10 Sunny Da Best, #6 Geneva
Race 6:
#8 Ballistic Win, #3 Top Scorer, #1 Second To None, #4 Panda Legend
Race 7:
#3 Straight Arron, #1 Romantic Warrior, #10 Five G Patch, #2 Voyage Bubble
Race 8:
#4 Beauty Fit, #8 Frantanck, #12 Beato, #3 Karma
Race 9:
#2 Enterprise Attack, #3 Gorgeous Win, #6 Pins Prince, #14 Rubylot
Race 10:
#5 Green N White, #4 Young Champion, #7 Illuminous, #1 Tamra Blitz

Race 1: Citi Global Wealth Handicap (9.00pm PST, 12.00am EST)

#5 Circuit Blazing can improve second-up following his debut in Hong Kong. Expecting he can take closer order here in the run and with even luck improve drastically. Taking a chance on him. #12 Starship Eighty rarely runs a bad race. He’ll roll forward and get his opportunity. #2 Romantic Fantasy can do similar this weekend. He’ll find the front and get his opportunity from there. #4 Darci Joy can mix his form but regularly remains a threat, especially pairing with James McDonald this time around.

Race 2: Citi Private Bank Handicap (9.30pm PST, 12.30am EST)

#1 The Golden Scenery was a solid winner three starts ago. Question of pace in this race and it wouldn’t surprise to see him roll forward and take up the running. Gets his chance. #5 Spirited Express loves the course and distance and he’s been running well all season. #4 Fantastic Treasure finds a suitable contest and gets a super chance to land an overdue win this weekend. #3 Atullibigeal is the horse in form and the step up in trip isn’t a concern. He’s racing well and remains a worthy inclusion under Zac Purton.

Hong Kong sees all-time record turnover for horse racing bettingRace 3: Citigold Private Client Handicap (10.00pm PST, 1.00am EST)

#4 Charmander went close last start. He can continue to build on that effort and give this group something to catch. Strong booking of Zac Purton holds him in good stead. #11 Brother Pearl is racing well and he’s been making significant ground late across his recent few starts. He’s found the right rating. #3 Superb Move draws ideally and he should receive an economical run throughout. #1 Dragon Pride has top weight to shoulder but he should relish the return to Class 5. Keep safe.

Race 4: Citigold Handicap (1st Section) (10.30pm PST, 1.30am EST)

#1 Master Stroke dips to Class 4. He was sound last start and it wouldn’t surprise to see him improve drastically, especially with Luke Ferraris taking the ride. He’s worth a ticket. #13 Winning Heart is yet to win but has shown quality at times. Zac Purton hops up and he’ll be well-fancied this weekend. #3 Lifeline Express has done plenty right without winning across three starts in Hong Kong. His time will come. #4 Solid Shalaa turned in a superb effort for third last time out. He’ll make his presence felt.

Race 5: Citi Ultima Handicap (2nd Section) (11.00pm PST, 2.00am EST)

#8 Gale Saga makes his debut. He’s done well in trials leading up to his first start and clearly boasts his fair share of ability. He’s worth a throw at the stumps. #13 Spicy Gold is making the right progress towards a first win. He gets an opportunity here from the positive draw with Luke Ferraris up. #10 Sunny Da Best makes his debut. He’s clearly got the potential and his pairing with Zac Purton is worth keeping an eye on. #6 Geneva finished second first-up and can improve. Next in line.

Race 6: Citi Wealth Advisory Services Handicap (11.35pm PST, 2.35am EST)

#8 Ballistic Win has ability and he can put his best foot forward this weekend. He ran very well two starts ago and any improvement from that effort holds him in good stead. #3 Top Scorer has placed in all three of his starts. Chances are he’s well-fancied again, even from another difficult gate. #1 Second To None is still improving and remains a massive player here. He will have to overcome the wide draw. #4 Panda Legend won well at huge odds last start and can improve again. Keep safe.

Race 7: Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (12.05am PST, 3.05am EST)

#3 Straight Arron continues to improve and he’ll need to do exactly that again if he is to be winning. He was a close-up fourth to Romantic Warrior in December and arguably could have nearly won that race. Taking a chance on him at odds. #1 Romantic Warrior will be a deserved favourite and should prove hard to beat. Expecting his quote to be very short this weekend and not worth entertaining. #10 Five G Patch rates strongly after his latest effort for second. #2 Voyage Bubble is always competitive and gets his opportunity.

Race 8: Citi Insurance Services Handicap (12.40am PST, 3.40am EST)

#4 Beauty Fit has been in superb form all season without winning. He deserves this and is favoured from the ideal draw against this group. Once again, he rates strongly. #8 Frantanck is closing in on a first win. He’s proven consistent and does get five pounds taken off his back from a suitable draw which appears suitable. #12 Beato is after back-to-back wins. He’s ready to maintain his ascent. #3 Karma is a nice horse and he deserves a shot here, even though he tends to mix his form. Next best.

Race 9: Citi Mortgage Services Handicap (1.15am PST, 4.15am EST)

#2 Enterprise Attack is a seriously talented horse and he returned in sound order following a setback. He can improve this weekend and the inside gate could easily afford him the lead or a spot on the speed. One to beat. #3 Gorgeous Win is chasing back-to-back wins. He has an ideal draw with Zac Purton remaining aboard. He’s swiftly improving and there seems to be plenty more of that to come. #6 Pins Prince can reverse his form and be competitive. #14 Rubylot has the light weight.

Race 10: Citi Investment Services Handicap (1.50am PST, 4.50am EST)

#5 Green N White is a nice horse and he’s continued to develop this season with a pair of wins. He has a suitable gate here and should receive the right run throughout under champion jockey Zac Purton. #4 Young Champion did well to grab second on debut. He has a bit of talent and looks set to improve out of sight and very quickly. #7 Illuminous did well to score on debut and he’s tracking nicely toward Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series. #1 Tamra Blitz can settle prominent in the run. Keep safe.

Handicapping Hour for Oaklawn Park – Saturday, Feb. 24th

Guest Jim Miller from Hawthorne Racecourse

Jim Miller joins Mark and Steve Simonvic on their weekly Oaklawn Handicapping Hour to discuss the Saturday card in Hot Springs, AR.   Follow us on Twitter/X at www.twitter.com/Agameofskill

Dr Ardito Seeks Fourth Stakes Win at Aqueduct on Saturday

Michael Caruso and Michael Dubb’s Grade 2-placed multiple stakes-winner Dr Ardito will once again team up with jockey Manny Franco in search of their fourth collaborative stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Haynesfield, a one-turn mile for older New York-breds, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, Dr Ardito returns to the scene of his determined half-length score in the one-mile Alex M. Robb with Franco at the helm on December 29 over muddy and sealed footing. The now 6-year-old Liam’s Map gray displayed his usual come-from-behind tactics to rally from last-of-5 and collar stablemate Aggregation just in time, stopping the clock in a final time of 1:36.18.

“He’s a nice horse,” Franco said. “He’s sharp and he knows where the wire is. He always gives me everything out there, that’s a nice type of horse to be around. Every time I ride him, I try to do my best and make it happen. The horse is always there for me. I hope Saturday will be the same.”

Franco has piloted Dr Ardito in all but one of his 14 lifetime outings, which includes a six-race win streak from April 2021 through last February that began with a second-out graduation and concluded with a gritty head score over the multiple graded stakes-placed Bankit in last year’s Haynesfield.

In addition to the Haynesfield and Alex M. Robb, Dr Ardito’s 5-year-old campaign included another stakes triumph in the Evan Shipman Handicap at Saratoga Race Course and his first graded placing when narrowly defeated by Everso Mischievous in the Grade 2 Forty Niner in October here.

Bred by Fred W. Hertrich, III and John D. Fielding, Dr Ardito has posted a record of 14-8-2-0 with total purse earnings just shy of $500,000. He was purchased by Dubb for $95,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale and is out of the twice-winning Indian Charlie mare Delightfully So, a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Delightful Kiss.

Aqueduct starting gateDr Ardito, assigned a field-high 124 pounds, will emerge from post 3.

Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher, Maxis Stable and John Huber’s Maker’s Candy [post 7, Jose Lezcano, 122 pounds] streaks in off three straight wins at the Haynesfield distance at the Big A dating to a 6 3/4-length romp in a November state-bred optional claimer for trainer Mike Maker. The talented colt has crossed the wire first in all five starts going a one-turn mile here, however he was disqualified and placed second for interference in last year’s Gander.

The 4-year-old Twirling Candy bay’s two latest victories have come against open company when setting the pace and bravely holding on to win with Franco at the helm. On December 17, he earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for a first-level allowance score by a neck over stakes-winner Drake’s Passage ahead of his last-out head triumph over stakes-placed Bold Endeavor on January 27.

“He’s doing great and he’s got a win streak going on that’s pretty impressive,” said Peter Proscia of Paradise Farms Corp. “He’s a gutsy horse and he doesn’t give up. He seems to like that distance at that track, so we’re looking forward to the race. He’s a game horse and doesn’t like horses passing him.”

Maker’s Candy returns to stakes company for the first time since a distant fourth-place effort in the state-bred Albany in August at Saratoga. He looks to notch his second stakes conquest capturing the seven-furlong Mike Lee in May at Belmont Park.

A $200,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, Maker’s Candy was bred by Newtownanner Stud. He is out of the twice-winning Bluegrass Cat mare Purple Cat, a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sky Diva, multiple graded stakes-placed Quick Little Miss, and Re Entry, the dam of graded stakes-winner Shotgun Hottie.

“I think he was a good-looking horse and Mike liked the way he looked and the way he was traveling,” Proscia said of his impressions of Maker’s Candy at the sale. “We’ve been very successful with Mike and I’m hoping we keep the ball rolling. I named the horse after him and it’s been fun. The staff that works with Mike do an awesome job and we’re very grateful to have them.”

Gallagher’s Stud’s stakes-placed homebred Olympic Dreams [post 1, Trevor McCarthy, 120 pounds] is cross-entered in a one-mile optional claimer on Friday at the Big A for trainer Pat Quick. Regardless of which race the 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding contests, he will see a cutback to one turn for the first time since finishing third in a May optional claiming tilt against state-breds at Belmont.

Quick said a return to one mile is a question for the consistent gray.

“I am not certain where we’ll run – I’m on the fence,” said Quick. “I think a mile and an eighth is better, but in the wintertime, I would just as soon run him than train him.”

Olympic Dreams earned back-to-back wins at the Big A when capturing a 1 3/16-mile open-company allowance by a neck in November and following with a 2 3/4-length score in a second-level nine-furlong optional claimer on January 7. He was last seen finishing third behind graded stakes-winner Law Professor in a January 26 optional claiming tilt that saw him bumped at the start and angled five-wide to come up 3 1/2 lengths shy of victory.

“He ran a great race against two horses who ran better,” said Quick. “We really didn’t have any issue with it and he ran his usual race and just got beat. He’s been a great horse and he’s doing terrific. We couldn’t ask for any more.”

Olympic Dreams boasts a lifetime record of 13-5-1-3 with total purse earnings of $313,755. His best stakes finish was a narrow defeat to Bankit in the Commentator in May when traveling a one-turn 1 1/16 miles at Belmont.

Ten Strike Racing’s Whittington Park [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche, 118 pounds] looks to earn his first stakes triumph on the heels of a decisive 2 1/4-length victory on January 13 in a one-mile open-company allowance, which was his first start off a five-month layoff.

Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, the 5-year-old Midnight Lute bay rallied from 7 1/2 lengths off the pace under regular pilot Kendrick Carmouche to be within 2 1/2 lengths of the lead at the top of the lane. He continued to find more with each stride down the stretch to take charge in the final sixteenth and kick clear to victory in a final time of 1:37.52 over muddy and sealed footing.

Bred by Marshall Gramm and Clay Sanders, Whittington Park is out of the six-time winning Forestry mare See the Forest and is a half-brother to stakes-winner Looms Boldly. His second dam is the multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Critical Eye.

Completing the field are the stakes-placed Overstep [post 4, Eric Cancel, 118 pounds] for Hall of Fame conditioner Todd Pletcher; four-time winner Mama’s Gold [post 6, Romero Ramsay Maragh, 118 pounds] for trainer Chad Summers; and five-time winner Anejo [post 5, Dylan Davis, 120 pounds], who is also cross-entered in the same Friday optional claimer as Olympic Dreams for trainer Doug O’Neill.

The Haynesfield is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

Source: NYRA.com

Hong Kong Horse Racing Selections – Wednesday, Feb. 21

HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS
(Wednesday, February 21, 2024)

Race 1: #1 Savvy Chic, #2 Wood On Fire, #5 Kilindini, #4 Glory Cloud
Race 2:
#2 Happy Together, #3 La City Blanche, #7 Mr Ascendency, #4 Dancing Code
Race 3:
#4 Great Achiever, #2 Jolly Companion, #11 Alloy King, #3 Happy Fat Cat
Race 4:
#3 Son Pak Fu, #6 Bundle Of Charm, #1 Duke Wai, #8 Tomodachi Kokoroe
Race 5:
#10 Kyrus Unicorn, #11 Sunny Baby, #6 Mr Aladdin, #12 Turtle Again
Race 6:
#10 Noble Win, #2 Win Win Fighter, #5 Galvanic, #1 Gallant Valour
Race 7:
#8 Escape Route, #12 Red Hare King, #4 Tourbillon Prince, #1 Galaxy Witness
Race 8:
#3 Copartner Ambition, #1 Wonder Kit, #7 Bon’s A Pearla, #5 Winning Icey
Race 9:
#9 Atomic Energy, #1 Explosive Witness, #5 Happy United, #3 Heroic Master

 

Race 1: Wang Tak Handicap (2nd Section) (2.40am PST, 5.40am EST)

 

#1 Savvy Chic gets down to Class 4. His last run in this grade returned a win and he draws suitably for this contest with Karis Teetan aboard. He’s the one they all must beat. #2 Wood On Fire is favoured with the 10 pounds coming off his back. He loves the track and can make his presence felt here. #5 Kilindini has a tricky gate to overcome but he is racing well. He’s a threat. #4 Glory Cloud was sound on debut and can improve second-up. He has the scope to do so and just needs luck from the gate.

 

Race 2: Shan Kwong Handicap (3.10am PST, 6.10am EST)

 

#2 Happy Together is a seriously good horse and he raced without luck last start at Group 3 level. He was a winner in that grade two starts back and a return to that level of form should see him go on with it here. #3 La City Blanche rarely runs a bad race and he deserves a win. He’s been in sound form of late and should contend strongly. #7 Mr Ascendency slots in light and should get an opportunity. He’s versatile and comes into this off the back of a strong effort for third. #4 Dancing Code is next in line.

 

Race 3: Wang Tak Handicap (1st Section) (3.40am PST, 6.40am EST)

 

#4 Great Achiever has ability and it wouldn’t surprise to see him bounce back here. He draws ideally and is worth taking a chance on this week. #2 Jolly Companion can mix his form but there is definitely some talent there. He’s suited in this grade and it wouldn’t surprise to see him turn it around. #11 Alloy King knows what it’s all about over this course and distance. He slots in light and is in the right vein of form at the minute. #3 Happy Fat Cat can roll forward and lead. He’ll give this group something to reel in.

 

Race 4: Singapore Pools Handicap (4.10am PST, 7.10am EST)

 

#3 Son Pak Fu was a competitive fourth last start at Group 1 level. He’s racing well at present and a return to his preferred course and distance suggests he’ll be hard to beat. #6 Bundle Of Charm is in the form of his life and he hasn’t put a step wrong of late. He’ll be fighting this one out. #1 Duke Wai has the class-edge but will be forced to lug the hefty impost. He’ll be right there in the thick of things though. #8 Tomodachi Kokoroe slots in light and is advantaged at the bottom of the handicap. He’ll need to step up but does get a serious shot.

 

Race 5: Yuk Sau Handicap (4.40am PST, 7.40am EST)

 

#10 Kyrus Unicorn made a stack of ground late last start and he can take another step forward this week. He’s going the right way and gets a superb chance here. #11 Sunny Baby won well last start and he might be able to surprise as he goes back up to Class 4. #6 Mr Aladdin is tracking the right way and if his setback is a thing of the past then he’s a worthy inclusion. #12 Turtle Again slots in light and just has the gate to overcome. He is in very good form and can figure in this grade.

 

Race 6: Yik Yam Handicap (5.10am PST, 8.10am EST)

 

#10 Noble Win is in the right vein of form and he’s shown that a first win is close. He’s worth taking a chance on here under Matthew Poon from the ideal draw. #2 Win Win Fighter is racing well and was a solid winner two runs back. He’s remained at the level of form and gets another super shot here off a suitable mark. #5 Galvanic has the ability but is struggling to piece it all together. Gate one should afford him the right chance. #1 Gallant Valour has sprung to prominence this season. He just has the awkward draw to overcome.

 

Race 7: Village Handicap (5.45am PST, 8.45am EST)

 

#8 Escape Route finds a suitable contest. He’s been super consistent of late and any luck can see him go on with it here. The lightweight is a bonus. #12 Red Hare King is in terrific form with three seconds and one win from his last four starts. He’s lowly weighted and gets his chance. #4 Tourbillon Prince can mix his form but does have serious potential on his day. #1 Galaxy Witness loves to run home without winning. He’s consistent though and a hot tempo could easily bring him strongly into contention.

 

Race 8: Sing Woo Handicap (6.15am PST, 9.15am EST)

 

#3 Copartner Ambition is the one they all must beat as he chases a fifth win this season. He’s got a stack of ability and his ascent can persevere here, especially from an ideal gate. #1 Wonder Kit just doesn’t know how to run poorly. He’s consistent and is a huge threat under a familiar pair of hands. #7 Bon’s A Pearla finally got on the board earlier this campaign. She’ll get back and finish strongly. #5 Winning Icey is third-up and returns to his preferred course and distance here. Keep safe.

 

Race 9: King Kwong Handicap (6.50am PST, 9.50am EST)

 

#9 Atomic Energy goes about his racing very well, especially at Happy Valley. He gets a super chance to win here and does appear to still have plenty of rating points in hand. One to beat. #1 Explosive Witness won well last start and can continue to race at that level of form. He has the big weight to contend with, however, his recent form has been superb. #5 Happy United continues to raise the bar and this is another test for him. #3 Heroic Master can easily reverse his form and take his shot at this group. Next best.

Handicapping Hour for Oaklawn Park with FREE Pace Chart

Guest Richard Nilsen of AGameofSkill.com

I had the pleasure of joining my friends Mark and Steve Simonvic on their weekly Oaklawn Handicapping Hour to discuss the Saturday card in Hot Springs, AR for Saturday, February 17, 2024. We go over the full 10-race card at Oaklawn as well as discuss this weekend’s Tampa Bay Downs and Hawthorne Racecourse handicapping tournaments.  Below is a complimentary pace chart to see how the races are forecasted to set up on Saturday.

Fast track expected.

Saturday’s free pace chart for Oaklawn horse races:

Race 1 Expected Pace Leaders Stalkers Mid-Pack Closers Unknown
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Modest 3 5-2 4-6-8 7-1
Race 2
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Honest/Fast 1-2 6-3 9-7-5 4 8
Race 3
8.50 Furlongs / Dirt Honest 2-5-4 1-6 3-8-7
Race 4
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Modest *3 8-10-2 9-5-6-1 4-7
Race 5
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Fast 1 4-2 5-3-8 6-7
Race 6
8 Furlongs / Dirt Honest/Fast 9 4-8-10 5-1-2-7 6-1A-3
Race 7
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Unknown 6 9-7 5-4-1 2-3-8
Race 8
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Modest 1 8-3-2 4-9-7-5 6-10-11
Race 9
6.00 Furlongs / Dirt Honest 3-1 6-8 5-2-4 7
Race 10
9.00 Furlongs / Dirt Fast 4-9 3-7 8-10-5-1 2-6

 

Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

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Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Red Flags on this Big Favorite

Hong Kong Horse Racing Selections – Special Thursday Card

HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS

(Thursday, February 15, 2024)

Race 1: #1 More Rice, #2 Wind Speeder, #9 Great Days, #5 August Moon
Race 2:
#8 Atomic Beauty, #6 Cheong Fat, #7 To Infinity, #11 Club Soda
Race 3:
#1 Capital Legend, #3 Fight Time, #7 Joyful Prosperity, #12 Splendid Star
Race 4:
#4 Flying Phantom, #1 Golden Long, #11 Super Eagle, #6 Happy Soul
Race 5:
#9 Jumbo Fortune, #3 A Americ Te Specso, #1 Togepi, #6 Happy Trio
Race 6:
#3 Harmony Fire, #7 Molly’s Witness, #8 Parents’ Love, #1 Fortune Warrior
Race 7:
#3 Ernest Feeling, #7 Country Dancer, #8 Crystal Powerful, #2 Joy Coming
Race 8:
#8 Righteous Arion, #5 Prince Of Porty, #2 Nicconi County, #11 Ready To Win
Race 9:
#12 Noble Pursuit, #2 Prime Minister, #3 Turin Mascot, #10 All Beauty

 

Hong Kong horse racingRace 1: Hung To Handicap (2.40am PST, 5.40am EST)

 #1 More Rice is favoured in Class 5. He travelled wide throughout last start and can easily improve with a smoother run in transit. Gate five should afford him the opportunity. #2 Wind Speeder has an ideal draw and is racing well. He was superb two runs ago and his best form holds him in very good stead. Strong booking of Zac Purton bodes well for this contest. #9 Great Days is yet to win but has been knocking on the door for quite some time. He can take another step forward following his latest effort. #5 August Moon is next in line.

 

Race 2: Wai Yip Handicap (2nd Section) (3.10am PST, 6.10am EST)

 #8 Atomic Beauty has found his feet. He was impressive when winning three runs back and since then has held his form well. Zac Purton hops up and he just needs to offset the slightly tricky gate. #6 Cheong Fat is a winner in waiting. He’s racing well at present and just needs an ounce of luck to prove competitive. Gate six can afford him the right run. #7 To Infinity gets handy five pounds taken off his back with the apprentice engaged. He’ll be finishing fast. #11 Club Soda is open to improving and he gets that chance here.

 

Race 3: Wai Yip Handicap (2nd Section) (3.40am PST, 6.40am EST)

 

#1 Capital Legend makes a favourable step down to Class 5 with the apprentice booked. 10 pounds come off his back and he’s really, really well weighted here. One to beat. #3 Fight Time caught the eye on debut. He closed off impressively for third and can continue to build on that performance with more racing. #7 Joyful Prosperity has mixed his form but there is a fair bit of ability there. He’ll be competitive. #12 Splendid Star slots in light and he appears favoured here. He’s already a two-time winner this season.

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Race 4: Tsun Yip Handicap (1st Section) (4.10am PST, 7.10am EST) 

#4 Flying Phantom is tracking in the right direction. His latest effort was superb and he can continue his advance here under Zac Purton. #1 Golden Long can bounce back. He was brilliant on debut when winning and a return to that level of racing is easily within his grasp. #11 Super Eagle doesn’t know how to run a bad race. He’ll get his chance and is most deserving of a win. The lightweight is a big plus. #6 Happy Soul is getting back to a suitable rating and his most recent efforts have been sound. Big watch.

 

Race 5: The Volunteers’ Challenge Cup Handicap (1st Section) (4.40am PST, 7.40am EST) 

#9 Jumbo Fortune caught the eye with a fast-finishing third last time out. He’s in the right vein of form and if they run this along at a slick tempo then he’s suited. He’s worth taking a chance on. #3 A Americ Te Specso is getting up in the handicap but he does continue to run well enough. He just has the tricky draw to overcome. #1 Togepi might get shuffled back behind runners from the draw, however, he does do his best racing over this course and distance. He’s in form and gets a shot. #6 Happy Trio is in form and next in line.

 

Race 6: Hoi Yuen Handicap (5.10am PST, 8.10am EST)

 

#3 Harmony Fire can find the front and play catch me if you can. He gets 10 pounds taken off his back with the apprentice engaged and from gate four he should find an easy lead. One to reel in. #7 Molly’s Witness makes his debut and must have some potential with Zac Purton hopping up. His latest trial was sound and gate one should see him do next no work in the run. #8 Parents’ Love can improve after finishing fifth on debut. #1 Fortune Warrior knows what it’s all about. The drop in grade brings him right into contention.

 

Race 7: Tsun Yip Handicap (2nd Section) (5.45am PST, 8.45am EST)

 

#3 Ernest Feeling is in the form of his life. He’s a two-time winner this season and he gets another chance in Class 4 here. His versatility and recent form is hard to overlook. One to beat. #7 Country Dancer has found his feet and his latest effort was superb. #8 Crystal Powerful is chasing a hat-trick of wins. He’s in career-best form and reaching another career-high wouldn’t surprise. #2 Joy Coming can mix his form but he does have his fair share of ability. The wide draw is a slight hindrance.

 

Race 8: Mut Wah Handicap (2nd Section) (6.15am PST, 9.15am EST)

 

#8 Righteous Arion comes into this under a light weight. He’s a winner already this season and has remained competitive since then. One to beat. #5 Prince Of Porty showed plenty of early promise before setbacks slowed his development. He’s back racing at a competitive level and it wouldn’t surprise to see him perform very well under Zac Purton. #2 Nicconi County won well last start and he’s always done his best racing at this course. He’s a major threat. #11 Ready To Win gets in light and can make his presence felt.

 

Race 9: Yue Man Handicap (6.50am PST, 9.50am EST)

 

#12 Noble Pursuit is a quite a serious talent and he’s capable of knocking up back-to-back wins this week. He slots in light, draws well and gets a few favours as he aims to make his Class 3 debut a winning one. #2 Prime Minister is also a last-start winner. The apprentice takes 10 pounds off his back and the inside gate is a plus. #3 Turin Mascot generally prefers racing over further but he has remained in sound form. Don’t discount. #10 All Beauty has consistency on his side and this contest should prove to be no exception. Next best.

Handicapping Hour for Oaklawn Park – Saturday, Feb. 10th

Guest DYLAN DONNELLY

Our friend Dylan Donnelly joins Mark and Steve Simonvic on their weekly Oaklawn Handicapping Hour to discuss the Saturday card in Hot Springs, AR.   Plus, get your Oaklawn weather update from Marko.