About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 17-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 2018 NHC Tour 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 17-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 2018 NHC Tour 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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AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – July 12th

track announcer with binocularsAGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for agameofskill visitors.


BLACKJACK DAVEY (Race 3 at Belmont, 7/2/2020) – suffered a very troubled trip when 8th in debut for Linda Rice.  Returned here with a monster performance over what looked like a competitive field.  Geared down final 1/16th.  3yo Posse gelding has a future.


GOLD BUTTON (Race 1 at CD, 6/25/2020) – this first time starter from an 8% debut barn had a sneaky fast work prior and he ran to it here.  Overall a less than ideal trip to win going away as much the best.  Can likely step up to the bottom allowance ranks.

JACK LUVS NOVA (Race 5 at CD, 6/25/2020) – Al Stall firster broke 1 1/2 lengths slow but then made a strong, sustained run to finish a non-threaten third.  Doesn’t need to move forward much to hit the winner’s circle next time.

RISKY MANDATE (Race 7 at CD, 6/28/2020) – Big comeback race for this talented filly.  The winner Unique Factor, who was also dropping out of stakes company, got the jump her and out-closed her for the win.  She galloped out past the winner late.

FAST BOAT (Race 3 at CD, 6/12/2020) – Steadied shortly after the start of this turf dash and won by nearly 5 lengths.  That’s all you need to know about this one.  Impressive!

Covid-19 Pandemic forces shuffling of New Mexico horse racing meet

“We are — all of us — in a terrible situation right now with regard to COVID-19,” he said. “It is truly a period of uncertainty and things are changing on a daily basis. My hope is that things look completely different in a few weeks and we have a fan base and casinos are open and much of this is behind us. But none of us know that.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — With the New Mexico State Fair being called off, the horse races that usually coincide with the annual event are being cancelled too.

State regulators during a special meeting Wednesday approved a motion to nix the state fair race meet. They also approved changes to the race dates and stakes schedule for The Downs at Albuquerque.

The changes mean this year’s meet at The Downs will start later, running from Aug. 8 through Sept. 20, when the state fair races would have otherwise been happening.

New Mexico’s horse tracks and their associated casinos have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. After a brief hiatus, races resumed at Ruidoso Downs in May but without spectators and the casinos remain closed under a public health order issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The revenue brought in by the casinos during race meets helps to subsidize racing. Without the slot machines and tables, some track owners have suggested losses per day could reach in to the tens of thousands of dollars.

To help offset some of the expenses, an agreement reached between The Downs and associations that represent horse owners and breeders call for $100 per head start fee for the upcoming races in Albuquerque.

Representatives for the groups told members of the state Racing Commission during the meeting that the fee should be considered as a one-time option given the circumstances brought on by the pandemic. If casinos were to reopen and fans allowed in the stands by the time racing starts in August, the fee would be reconsidered.

Richard Erhard, executive director of the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association, said it’s hard to know what public health orders will be in place in the coming months.

What is certain, he said, is that owners want to race.

“We are — all of us — in a terrible situation right now with regard to COVID-19,” he said. “It is truly a period of uncertainty and things are changing on a daily basis. My hope is that things look completely different in a few weeks and we have a fan base and casinos are open and much of this is behind us. But none of us know that.”

The Racing Commission had previously approved an agreement to redistribute more than $3.2 million in purse taxes due to cancellations at the Sunland Park and SunRay tracks earlier in the season. The commission still has to consider at its upcoming meeting whether to allow The Downs to take on the stakes races that would have been run during the state fair.

The Del Mar Wagering Menu – 17 Betting Options

Metaboss at Del Mar
copyright Gary Tasich

Southern California Tracks Opens Friday

Del Mar’s 2020 betting menu will offer 17 different ways for racing fans to back their favorites at the seaside oval as it presents its 81st racing season between July 10 and September 7.

Though current plans call for the track to race without fans in the stands, the many satellite and online opportunities to wager and follow the action are expected to provide handle results similar to – and possibly even better than – past years. In 2019, 90% of Del Mar’s betting took place away from the racetrack.

The track’s bet roster starts with the traditional win, place and show wagers and expands all the way out to several five- and six-horse combinations.

Three relatively new multi-race bets that have proven well-liked by the track’s punters are again on tap this summer. They are the early Pick Four, beginning on Race 2 at a .50¢ price; a late Pick 5 offered on the last five races daily, also at the .50¢ level, and a Win, Place, Show Parlay available for a minimum of two races and a maximum of six. It is a $2 bet.

In addition to its Early Pick Four, the track will continue to offer its usual Pick Four on the last four races on the day’s card, a bet that has proven to be one of the most popular in the country and regularly registers $1-million-plus pools on weekends. Further, the late Pick Five will be similar to the track’s early Pick Five held on the day’s initial five events. And the Win, Place, Show Parlay will be presented using the standard single-bet W-P-S takeout of 15.43% instead of a multi-bet takeout that goes above 20%.

Del Mar also will continue with its longstanding $2 Pick Six on all racing days, along with the “Single Ticket Jackpot” addition to it that the track introduced during its 2016 fall season. Under the “Jackpot” rules, a separate pool accumulates alongside the regular one if nobody hits the bet as a lone ticket holder. This allows for a large separate pool to grow even in the case of a “hit’ on the Pick Six by two or more players. The “Jackpot” pool often reaches six figures in fairly rapid order and can be expected to do so throughout the stand.

And, as it has the past several summers, Del Mar will schedule two “mandatory payouts” on the “Jackpot” pool:  first on TVG Pacific Classic Day (Saturday, August 22), then on Closing Day, Monday, September 7. That means that a Pick Six winner on either of those dates would share not only in the regular pool, but the full “Jackpot” pool besides. Additionally, consolation winners on those days also would share in the “Jackpot” payout.

“Seeing what has happened at other tracks that have raced without fans because of the COVID-19 situation is giving us encouragement,” said Del Mar’s director of mutuels Bill Navarro. “Across the board nationally betting has been strong. Wagering is the lifeblood of our sport and we believe we can – and will – have a good summer in that regard at Del Mar.”

The full array of Del Mar bets is as follows: $2 win, place and show (all races); $1 Exacta (all); $2 Quinella (all); .50¢ Trifecta (all); $2 Rolling Doubles (all except last); $1 Rolling Pick 3 (all except last two); $1 Superfecta (.10¢ minimum – all); $1 Place Pick All (starts w/Race 1 or 2); $1 Super High 5 (last); $2 Pick Six (last six); .50¢ Players’ Pick 5 (first five and last five); .50¢ Pick 4 (Races 2 thru 5 and last four), and $2 Win-Place-Show Parlay (all races but last).

Del Mar will race on a Friday – Saturday – Sunday schedule throughout the summer, ending on its traditional closing day, Labor Day Monday, September 7. First post daily throughout the session will be 2 p.m.

Source: DMTC.com

How Sol Kumin Turned A Labour Of Love Into The World’s Leading Horse Racing Business

Is Sol Kumin the ultimate “hobby-preneur”? Amid a 20-year career on Wall Street, including the launch of his own hedge fund business, Kumin only became interested in horse racing in 2014 when a friend persuaded him to take a stake in a thoroughbred. Six years later, the financier has built one of the world’s most successful racing stables, with a string of winners of prestigious races to his name.

“The racing has turned into a more commercial endeavour but it certainly didn’t start out that way,” reflects Kumin, who confesses he quickly got “hooked” following his initial foray into the sport. “Initially, it was a bit of a journey to understanding there was so much more to this sport; we bought more horses, did some research on how to do things a little differently, and over time it became a business.”

How horse racing can appeal to a younger crowd

The Sport can overcome its ugly past

Let’s be clear. I wasn’t planning on liking horse racing.

I spent the first four weeks of the shutdown in a hazy search for sports, looking for signs of it everywhere — in old NBA classics, Madden simulations, the car chases on TV from which I couldn’t un-glue myself.

Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, I made the three-hour trek to Calgary Stampede parties multiple summers in a row without ever giving a single thought to buying tickets to the rodeo. Horse racing was even less than an afterthought.

Even though I thought it would be tedious, maybe a little charming but ultimately not for me, I was ready to play the ponies. It’s the kind of thing you do early in a relationship, when you’re still pretending to be open to new experiences.

And then a dozen beautiful horses leaped from the gates, and I was entranced…

Read how she got hooked on horse racing

Triple Crowns all over the world

by Art Parker

Operating on a new schedule, The American Triple Crown of 2020 has recorded only one event. The Belmont Stakes, usually run at 1 ½ miles and usually the last of the Triple Crown races, was held on June 20, 2020.

Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg, won the 1 1/8 miles journey without difficulty and stamped himself as the top three year old in the nation. The Kentucky Derby will be September 5th, and the Preakness will be October 3rd.

There is no official Filly Triple Crown for fillies. There was a version that featured the big filly races the same day as the Triple Crown races. Those races, all on the dirt, are: (A) Kentucky Oaks, run over 1 1⁄8 miles at Churchill Downs, (B) Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, run over 1 1⁄8 miles at Pimlico Race Course, and (C)  Acorn Stakes, run over 1 mile at Belmont Park.

Davona Dale won the three races in 1979, and she is the only filly with this accomplishment.

Due to the change in the Triple Crown schedule in 2020 only the Acorn Stakes has been run thus far. The Bob Baffert trained Gamine was an impressive winner by 18 lengths setting a stakes record.

Canada also has a Triple Crown for Canadian bred thoroughbreds. The races are: (A) The Queen’s Plate, run over 1 ¼ miles on the main track at Woodbine, (B) The Prince of Wales Stakes run over 1 3/16th miles on the main track at Fort Erie, and (C) The Breeders Stakes run over 1 1/2 miles on the turf at Woodbine. There have been a dozen winners of the Canadian Triple Crown and the last winner was Wando in 2003. The Canadian Triple Crown is getting a late start in 2020. The Queen’s Plate will September 12th, The Prince of Wales will be September 29th and The Breeder’s Stakes October 24th.

Across the pond in Great Britain, a Triple Crown dates back to the mid-1800s. The races of the English Triple Crown, all on turf are: (A) The 2,000 Guineas Stakes, run over a mile at Newmarket Racecourse in Newmarket, Suffolk, (B) The Epsom Derby, run over 1½ miles at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Epsom, Surrey, and (C) The St. Leger Stakes, run over 1 ¾ miles at Town Moor in Doncaster, Yorkshire.

Fifteen horses have captured the English Triple Crown. The most recent – and only winner since World War II – was Northern Dancer’s much heralded son Nijinsky II, in 1970. Since Nijinsky only Nashwan (1989), Sea the Stars (2009), and Camelot (2012) have won both the Guineas and the Derby. Between Reference Point in 1987 and Camelot in 2012, no Derby winner has entered the St. Leger.

Only the Guineas has been run thus far in 2020. The winner was Kameko, who was bred at Calumet Farm and sired by Kitten’s Joy. The Epsom Derby will be July 4th and the St. Leger will be September 12th.

The Irish Triple Crown races are all on the turf and all run at the Curragh. The races are: (A) The Irish 2,000 Guineas is run over one mile, (B) The Irish Derby is run over 1 ½ miles, and (C) The Irish St. Leger, which open to older horses also, is run over 1 ¾ miles. Only two horses have won the Irish Triple Crown – Museum in 1935 and Windsor Slipper in 1942. The 2020 Irish Derby has been held and the winner was Santiago, who collected trainer Aidan O’Brien’s 14th Irish Derby win. O’Brien took the Guineas with Peaceful. The Irish St. Leger is scheduled for September 13th.

The French Triple Crown races, all on turf, are: (A) Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) is run over a mile at Longchamp, (B) Prix du Jockey Club is run at approximately 1 ¼ miles at Chantilly, and ( C ) Grand Prix de Paris is run 1 ½ miles at Longchamp. Only two horses have won the French Triple Crown – Zut in 1879 and Perth in 1899.

Victor Ludorum won the Guineas on May 11. and the race was held at Deauville since Longchamp was closed due to COVID-19. The Prix du Jockey Club will be July 5th. The Grand Prix de Paris will be July 14th.

The Australian Triple Crown races are all on the turf. The races are: (A) The Randwick Guineas run over one mile at Randwick Race Course, (B) Rosehill Guineas run over 1 ¼ miles at Rosehill Gardens Race Course and (C) the Australian Derby run over 1 ½ miles.

The Australian Triple Crown is complete for 2020. Shadow Hero was victorious in the Randwick Guineas. Castelvecchio captured the Rosehill Guineas and Quick Thinker won the Derby.

The Japanese Triple Crown races are all on the turf. The races are (A) The Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) run over 1 ¼ miles at Nakayama Racecourse, (B) The Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby – ) run over 1 ¼ miles at Tokyo Racecourse and (C) The Kikuka Sho (Japanese St.Leger) run over 1 7/8 miles, at Kyoto Racecourse. Seven horses have won the Japanese Triple Crown. The last winner of the Japanese Triple Crown was Orfevre in 2011.

The Japanese Triple Crown could easily be captured in 2020. Contrail has won both the 2020 Guineas and the 2020 Derby. The Japanese St. Leger is all that remains and that will be October 25th

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – June 30

Agameofskill.com - A game of skill horse racing handicapping

Put these runners in your stable email notification service.


JACK AND NOAH (Race 9 @Belmont, Jne 19, 2020) – This 3yo son of Bated Breath is a very, very fast early.  He utilized that speed to run his rivals off their feet in this $80,000 stakes going 6 furlongs on the grass.  Throw out his 1 mile start on Jan. 26, and this colt’s sprint record is rock solid on the lawn.


CIELO AZUL (Race 5 @Indiana, June 23, 2020) – 3yo gelding making first start since 2yo season ran a huge race here.  After not showing much in two starts in 2019, he had been training well and nearly pulled off the 10-1 shocker of a dropper from Tampa.

Did you miss… The attributes of an off-the-turf longshot winner?

Handicapping Tip of the Day #58 – The Off the Turf Bomber

Look for These Attributes for an Off-the-turf Winner

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

This is the story of how I gave my buddies a 27-1 winner that won for fun and I think a total of $10 was bet on her.

A few weeks back I picked up my Brisnet Past Performances for the 8th race at Gulfstream Park, an off-the-turf claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.  First thing I did was look at the MTO (Main Track Only) runner who had drawn into the field and was now the favorite. The four year old filly had so-so early speed and just struck me as a one-paced runner, the type that makes a slow, steady late run that isn’t going to win many races…especially at Gulfstream Park.  She also showed declining speed figures for her 9% trainer.

Immediately, I was interested in who might be able to beat this vulnerable favorite.  The #2, 5, and 12 were all turf runners that had no show little-to-no ability on the main track.  Toss.

That left only the #4, 6, 11, and 13.  The #11 was a terribly slow horse for a bad trainer.  Easy toss.   The #4 had won a maiden $10,000 claimer at Tampa and this was a $25,000 2-life at Gulfstream.   She looked slow and outclassed for this level in South Florida.

That left only two possibilities if I was going to play this race.  The #6 Just A Bit Sassy had run twice on the dirt and had placed twice both times while earning decent figures.  However, she was beaten a total of 18 lengths and had failed to show much early speed.  She was being heavily bet as the second choice and I felt the risk/reward wasn’t there.

#13 Lilo’s Call, on the other hand, had gone wire to wire in her maiden win first time out at Laurel last March.  Off that start she ran a lackluster 6th on the turf (toss).  She was then well beaten in her next two starts in tough allowance races and one of those starts came in the slop.  I only needed to forgive her last start in order to make her a play.

Sometimes you just have to forgive a bad last race for no reason.  Today,  the daughter of Drosselmeyer was making her first start for her new trainer, a low profile but solid 21% trainer John Collins.  She had three solid works for the new barn, a very positive sign that she might revert to her prior good form.  Lilo’s Call was bred to love the distance and dirt, and she was already a proven, front-running winner in a one-turn mile race.  Went I looked at the toteboard on BetPTC.com I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was 40-1.

I’m a privileged member of the LoneSpeed.com text thread, a select group of really good handicappers.  The small group of six includes superstar handicapper Dylan Donnelly (currently #1 on the NHC Tour) and wanna-be star Justin Dew.

It was 6 minutes to post and I texted my buddies about a longshot that I thought had a big shot.  Radio silence.

They broke from the gate and Lilo’s Call moved up into a perfect stalking position in third, just off the early pace setters.  At the 3/8th pole Miguel Vasquez asked and Lilo responded, cruising to the front.  From there she took command and then proceeded to just run the rest of her rivals off their feet.  She hit the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front.   The MTO favorite plodded along in second.  My phone exploded.

Chart of a longshot off the turf winner

copyright 2020 Equibase.com and Brisnet

The filly paid $57.20 win.  The congrats came in via the text thread, and double NHC qualifer Dew acknowledged that he had a few bucks on her.

Overlays like this aren’t easy to come by.  When you handicap an off the turf race, look for a horse that is proven on the dirt or has an excellent dirt pedigree.  Give the edge to runners with good early speed or strong tactical speed.  Couple that with an angle or two that makes sense, and you have the icing on the cake.   Best of luck!

Mandatory Payout Day Set for Saturday at Charles Town

Source: Charles Town Racetrack

This Saturday, June 27, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is pleased to offer a mandatory payout of the Charles Town 6-12 carryover which currently stands at $140,718 with only two cards remaining before the weekend.  The Charles Town 6-12 is a jackpot style Pick 6 covering the final six races on each Charles Town card and carries a low 12-percent takeout.

Due to the low takeout and size of the carryover, should the Charles Town 6-12 not be hit prior to the weekend, the wager stands a good chance of paying out more to Saturday’s players than is bet into the pool as the last three forced payouts have seen a resulting players advantage of 8%, 3% and 13% respectively.

Live racing at Charles Town will take place Thursday through Saturday this week with each program kicking off at 7:00 P.M. EST.

New normal for horse racing… in Jamaica

Much to the delight of racing professionals and punters, horse racing returned to Caymanas Park on Saturday last (June 20, 2020) after an agonizing three-month break due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

So, it is the new normal at the Park where the order of the race day was sanitizing, wearing masks, and social distancing.

Did you read – Handicapping Tip #57 Wide with Intent

There was even a new innovation by the promoting company of allowing punters to sit in their cars on the infield, watching the races, betting, and generally enjoying themselves, without entering the stands or any of the restricted racing areas.

There were 11 races on the card and the racing itself was superb.

Truly a good start, with minor tweaks, here and there, expected to come.

The Supreme Racing Guide was present and shares in photos with our readers some of the special moments of the first race day in three months.

The photographer