About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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Crystal Ocean Headlines G1 Juddmonte International on Wed. Morning

Breeders’ Cup Turf Prep on Tap

The world’s highest-rated horse, Crystal Ocean, will face eight rivals in the Aug. 21 Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Crystal Ocean will face high-class 3-year-olds King of ComedyCircus Maximus, and Japan on the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in a contest with a purse in excess of £1 million. As expected, Enable, who has Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks (G1) as her target, will not run in the 1 5/16-mile test.

More about G1 Juddmonte International on Wed. Morning

Industry Profile: QnA with Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith

After over 40 years in the saddle, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith remains at the top of his game. To date, the 54-year-old (as of today — happy birthday, Mike!) jockey has 26 Breeders’ Cup wins, the winner of two Eclipse Awards, and an Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award. Mike has won horse racing’s largest races including two Kentucky Derbies, two Preakness Stakes, and three Belmont Stakes and has piloted some of the best-known Thoroughbreds like Unbridled’s Song, Arrogate, Bodemeister, Zenyatta, Songbird, and 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify…

4. Who is your favorite horse at the moment?
McKinzie (four-year-old colt, with seven wins out of 12 starts and $2,238,560 in earnings).

5. Which racetrack do you enjoy riding at the most?
In California: Santa Anita and Del Mar. In New York: Belmont and Saratoga. I love Lexington, Kentucky, and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. All special for different reasons.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Aug. 13

Saratoga canopy walk throughAGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGameofskill.com visitors

August 13th Edition

SARATOGA

CLEON JONES (Race 1 @SAR, July 28, 2019) – Expensive two year old in training purchase looked beat turning for home but unleashed a powerful late run (12.1) to not only get up but be drawing off impressively at the wire.  Tale Of The Cat 2yo could be a stakes runner for Englehardt.

FREAKY STYLEY (Race 1 @SAR, July 24, 2019) – Trainer Jorge Abreu had this firster ready to go in debut but he broke slowly (spotted 1 1/2 lengths to field) out of the gate.  Despite the tough 7 furlong distance he rallied well to finish 2nd to the winning Chad Brown horse.

IRISH MIAS (Race 6 @SAR, July 24, 2019) – 2yo son of Sky Mesa finished very well in debut and was the only threat to the gate-to-wire winning favorite.  This was on dirt, but his dam loved the turf and he is a half to a turf winner of over $90k.

ROMANTIC PURSUIT (Race 10 @SAR, July 28, 2019) – Maiden winner tracked the pace and took over turning for home.  In the final 1/8th she was super game to hold off several challengers.  Well-bred filly for Godolphin has a future.

SHENNAN (IRE) (Race 4 @SAR,  July 25, 2019) – Foreign invader for Mark Casse was likely compromised by the slow pace and heavy downpour conditions.  Given strong Euro form in Ireland, this well bred colt deserves another chance against similar.

PUTTHEGLASSDOWN (Race 8 @SAR, July 27, 2019) – PA bred son of Violence broke open the gate prior to the start. He finished very well in this 6 furlong 1x behind the speedy Jason Servis runner who helped set the pace.  Has run very well in all three Saratoga starts.

KEOTA (Race 1 @SAR, July 31, 2019) – This Lonhro filly was overbet off the claim by Jason Servis for Michael Dubb.  She stayed in after the race was taken off the turf but she despises the main track.  Look for her back on the grass in her second start for Servis.

MASCHA (FR) (Race 7 @SAR, July 31, 2019) – Margin of victory was deceptive as this Chad Brown import was much the best in this 1x entry level allowance.  Ran a close second to Homerique overseas and that one is a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 placed for Brown in the States.

KLICKITAT (Race 10 @SAR, Aug. 1, 2019)- ran second to a stakes-placed turf runner in career debut, running a big 2yo fig, and finally got back on the grass her 10 months later.  Making first start for Jerkens, the 3yo just missed late to a logical winner that dropping in from open company.  Major contender next time out at same level.

History, excitement and food. A perfect trifecta at Saratoga Racetrack

Saratoga_NatMuseumofRacing and HallofFame

copyright AGameofSkill.com

Going to Fenway Park and the Baseball Hall of Fame is a treat that all baseball fans should try to do during the summer months. If you are a horse racing fan, […]

My advice: Set aside a day and take the 3 1/2-hour ride to Saratoga. You can drive yourself or take advantage of the bus tours offered in the area.

Go up early and spend a few hours at the Hall of Fame and rewatch some of the classic races, such as Secretariat’s 31-length victory at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, which secured “Big Red” winning the sport’s first Triple Crown in 25 years.

After enjoying your stay at the Hall of Fame, head one mile to the track and take in the eclectic surroundings that make Saratoga so unique.

Horse players come in all shapes and sizes. Wealthy people dressed as though they just walked off the set of “The Great Gatsby” or the everyman hoping to cash in on a five-figure superfecta. The concessions are outstanding to hold you over until you head out to a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants in the area.

Live horse racing returns today to Virginia

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — Live horse racing is returning to Virginia after a 5-year absence.

Colonial Downs, which has been dormant since 2014, is launching a 15-day race meeting beginning on Thursday, August 8, 2019.

The live racing follows an infusion of revenue from historical horse racing machines, which function like slot machines but technically base their payouts on the results of old horse races.

The Colonial Downs Group, which owns the racetrack, also operates the machines at three locations throughout the state under the name Rosie’s Gaming Emporium. In June, gamblers wagered more than $88 million at the machines. Wagering at the Colonial Downs site alone grew 10 percent from May to June.

Admission to the New Kent County racetrack, about halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg, will be free throughout the meet.

Controversial betting machines headed to Nebraska horse tracks

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Racing Commission rejected the position of the state’s attorneys in voting Wednesday to install controversial machines that take wagers at Nebraska’s thoroughbred tracks.

Commissioners voted 3-2 during a meeting at Grand Island’s Fonner Park racetrack to allow the machines, which are used to bet on historical horse races. The same board approved the machines in October but then nullified that vote amid warnings that the meeting had violated state open meeting rules.

Chris Kotulak, the CEO of Fonner Park, praised Wednesday’s decision, saying it would pump millions of tax dollars into state coffers and provide a much-needed boost to the state’s struggling thoroughbred racetracks.

“It will be the urgent shot in the arm to help the horse racing industry,” Kotulak said. “The surrounding states that offer thoroughbred racing all have additional gaming that supplements their purse money. They’re taking away the horses and trainers.”

Meanwhile, the head of a leading anti-gambling group in Nebraska promised a swift legal challenge to the commission’s action. The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office has said the commission lacks the power to approve a new form of legalized betting in the state.

“It’s a slot machine,” said Pat Loontjer of Gambling with the Good Life. “It walks like a duck, it talks like a duck — it’s a duck.”

More:

Is Horse Racing at a Tipping Point?

It’s barely 9.30am at Santa Anita Park racetrack in Los Angeles, but Jennifer Saavedra has been at work for five hours already. Her husband, trainer Anthony, is traveling, and she’s charged with overseeing their small five-horse stable. “I’ll probably get done around six tonight,” she says. Long days are a staple of track life like water is to the Venetians. Not that Saavedra minds: horses are in her “blood,” the 53-year-old says.

“You couldn’t keep me away from the track since I could walk.”

But the intense scrutiny the sport in California has been under these past few months – a result of the 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period that’s commanded national headlines – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the racing industry could bring about an abrupt end to racing in California. Saavedra describes her involvement in the sport – a world as far removed from the office 9-to-5 as Mercury is from Neptune – as her “passion”. A way of life that’s “more than just a job”, she says.

But the intense scrutiny that horse racing in California has been under these past few months – a result of 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the sport could bring an abrupt end to a world she’s been in her “whole life.”

Read the rest….

Industry Profile: Trainer Linda Rice

From The Blood-Horse Magazine:

Linda Rice was 17 years old, a time when the real world begins to come into view for most teenagers. She and her father, Clyde, had attended a Keeneland sale in Lexington, and were driving back to their farm in Pennsylvania when an accident ahead of them caused a….

She left Penn State after two years and took out her trainer’s license in 1987. Clyde understood and was so supportive he assigned her half a dozen horses or so at the outset. Now viewed as the leading female trainer in the United States, Rice was hardly an overnight success.

“It was very difficult getting started,” Rice said. “My father was my first client and then I grew from there. But it was many years of building the business. It’s taken many years and a lot of hard work.”

If she had an advantage in what continues to be an aspect of the industry populated largely by men, it was her upbringing.

“When you grow up around horses, you learn the behavior of horses, the psychology of the horse,” she said. “It allows you to be very advanced and have many years of experience by the time you start training them.”

No Hawthorne Spring Meet. Track to Build Casino

Fans at Hawthorne racecourse. Fans at Hawthorne racecourseHawthorne Race Course will not conduct live Thoroughbred racing in the spring of 2020 while it builds casino and sports-betting facilities, leaving a nearly four-month gap in the Chicago-area schedule.

“This is going to be a hardship for Thoroughbred horsemen,” said David McCaffrey, executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “But it’s a short-term pain, long-term gain situation and Hawthorne has pledged to work with us to while we get through it.”

“It’s a hardship and our members will have to do some creative planning,” he said.

More from The Blood-Horse:

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – August 2

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGameofskill.com visitors

SARATOGA

SHE’S A JULIE (Race 13 @SAR, July 21, 2019) – This honest filly from the Asmussen barn spotted weight to the top two finishers but held on well for third in this Grade 1 stakes.  She can dangerous next time in a better spot.

BLUE GEM (Race 1 @SAR, July 21, 2019) – 3yo looked really good winning first time off the claim for trainer Steve Asmussen, who dropped him from 30k to 16k.  Should be able to take a logical step up in class next time out.

OFF THE RECORD (Race 7 @SAR, July 17, 2019) – Firster took a lot of money and ran to it.  Son of Distorted Humor was very professional coming up the rail to win going away in this off-the-turf maiden special weights event.  Brisset barn doesn’t usually have them cranked up first time out.

MY SASSY SARAH (Race 10 scr @SAR, July 17, 2019) – Michelle Nevin firster was scratched when this race was taken off the turf.  She is a half to two nice turf winners, and the dam won on the grass as well.  Granddaughter of War Front should love the sod.

SHANCEALOT (Race 11 @SAR, July 28, 2019) – Juice.

LUCKY MOVE (Race 3 @SAR,  July 25, 2019) – Marshall Gramm’s Ten Strike Racing runner was claimed two back and then shipped to New York to take advantage of the lucrative state-bred program.  The mare rewarded this smart move with a powerful, off-the-pace victory in this 1x, optional $25k race.  Loves 9 furlongs and can be a threat at the next level.

DEL MAR

NOLDE (Race 8 @DMR, 7/17/2019) – Son of Pioneerof The Nile is a strong closer on the grass for trainer John Shireffs.  Sophomore colt just missed to favorite in the Oceanside Stakes on opening day.

ORIGINAIRE (IRE) (Race 7 @DMR 7/18/19) – Zoffany colt was squeezed back at the start of this race, but recovered under Mike Smith to unleash a big late run and score with something still left in the tank.   Impressive.