About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 12-time qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He recently won a $24,000 package into the 2016 Kentucky Derby Betting Championship. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 12-time qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He recently won a $24,000 package into the 2016 Kentucky Derby Betting Championship. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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Annual Slot Revenues at Florida Racetracks Up 2 Percent vs 2016

racino slots machineSlot revenues at South Florida racetrack casinos rose by more than 2 percent this fiscal year compared to last, according to figures released this month by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Click Here For Other Stories And Videos On South Florida Reporter The eight dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai frontons with slots collected $549… [Read more…]

Winner of 26 Stakes, Ben’s Cat Was Incredible

Press Release

Wearing a bright orange shirt and helmet cover, Elizabeth Eckert went about her business as an exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury Wednesday morning with a heavy heart.

It was only the evening before that Eckert, working for Leatherbury at Laurel Park since December, had heard the news about Ben’s Cat, the recently retired Mid-Atlantic legend who was euthanized as a result of complications from colic surgery at the age of 11.

She drove to work in her dark blue 1992 Chevrolet Z-28 adorned with tributes to Ben’s Cat. “R.I.P. Big Ben” was written across her windshield. Her side windows read, “The Cat!” while on the back window she wrote, “The Beast from the East. Rest Easy.”

Naturally, the lettering was done in orange to match the silks of Leatherbury’s The Jim Stable, for whom Ben’s Cat ran his entire 63-race career that included 32 wins, 26 stakes wins, and more than $2.6 million in purse earnings.

“Ben was an incredible horse. I was honored to ride him,” Eckert said. “He taught me how to better listen to my horses underneath me. To hear what was going on [with him] broke my heart. Even though I only knew him a short time I loved him like I knew him my whole life.

“The Leatherbury team took great care of him when he was here, and I gave him all my effort every ride,” she added. “I am happy to stand here today and say I was able to ride the beast of the east, Maryland’s great Ben’s Cat.”

“At the Preakness this year, Todd Pletcher said to me that other than the horses he trains himself, of course, Ben was his favorite horse of all time,” Trainer King Leatherbury said.

Leatherbury, 84, bred, owned and trained Ben’s Cat, retiring him on June 27 just three days after finishing ninth by 4 ½ lengths in the Mister Diz – a stakes the gelded son of Parker’s Storm Cat had won six straight years from 2010-15. He was sent to the Versailles, Ky. farm of Bayne and Christina Welker June 28 but developed colic that required surgery July 6 at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, where he was euthanized July 18 due to post-operative complications.

“I was devastated. We thought he was going to be all right,” Leatherbury said. “I thought he’d pull through, being Ben’s Cat. He’s used to winning, you know? To get that call saying he had gotten worse and they had to put him down, it broke my heart. I thought he would do it.

“It was a tragic ending to a magnificent horse,” he added. “Many times in a race I didn’t think he’d win and then he got up. I thought he was going to pull another one off, surviving, and he didn’t. It is a horrible thing for me and for all of his fans and for the horse, of course. It’s a shame.”

Ben’s Cat had his Mister Diz streak broken Aug. 20, 2016 by the unheralded John Jones, a 43-1 long shot racing first time off a $25,000 claim for trainer Lacey Gaudet, whose family has long been synonymous with Maryland racing.

“When John Jones won the Mister Diz, I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I had just claimed this horse for $25,000 and he won a stake and it was my first stakes winner as a trainer. It was, ‘We just beat Ben’s Cat,’” Gaudet said. “You never wanted to see a horse like that get beat and even when it was you, it was overshadowed.

“Every morning you’d go to the racetrack and you’d see him sitting there for 15 or 20 minutes before he got going. For a long time Doug Leatherman was on him and every morning people would jog by and say, ‘Morning Doug. Morning Ben.’ It was like you always knew he was going to be there,” she added. “I cried when I found out. It’s just sad.”

Ben’s Cat had only six different riders through his lengthy career, but it was Julian Pimentel that got on him more than anyone. Pimentel was aboard in 41 of 63 starts, including 30 in a row from June 2012 to November 2015.

Together, Pimentel and Ben’s Cat won 22 races, 17 of them in stakes, topped by the 2013 and 2014 Parx Dash (G3), 2012 Turf Monster (G3), 2012 Maryland Million Turf Sprint, 2013-15 Mister Diz and Jim McKay Turf Sprint, and 2012-14 Fabulous Strike Handicap.

“At the beginning of his career he was a little difficult in the mornings to train and stuff like that. He was like a student with a lot of growing pains,” Pimentel said. “But as he got older he was just very cool. He knew what he was supposed to do. You look at his record and he’d win by a head or a nose – it was like he knew where the wire was.

“He could run pretty much on anything. He won on the slop, he won going short, he won going a mile,” he added. “Going long wasn’t his favorite distance but he did that a couple of times. He liked turf, dirt, the slop, it didn’t much matter to him. I think he would run on concrete. He was just unbelievable.”

Ben’s Cat’s last two victories came to start his 10-year-old season, taking an open 5 ½-furlong allowance last May before his fifth triumph in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint. The closest he came to winning after that was in his 11-year-old debut, finishing fifth by less than a length in an April 16 allowance.

“At the Preakness this year, Todd Pletcher said to me that other than the horses he trains himself, of course, Ben was his favorite horse of all time,” Leatherbury said. “The thing is, you have good horses come along all the time but they don’t last. For him to last is where he created that ‘People’s Horse’ thing.

“A lot of horses are so good that they retire because of their value in the breeding industry, and others have problems that knock them out early. They run a couple years and that’s it,” he added. “But Ben, year after year after year he’d come back and that’s why he got that reputation. It is a sad end to the great Ben’s Cat.”

Handicapping Tip of the Day #40 – Thoroughbred Race Horses are Not Machines

See Arrogate July 22, 2017 at Del Mar.

 

Super horse Arrogate Loses

The horse racing world was turned upside-down when Arrogate, rated the top horse in the world and the all-time leading money winner among North American thoroughbreds, suffered one of the biggest upsets in thoroughbred history Saturday at Del Mar, Calif. Arrogate, the 1-20 favorite in the $300,000 San Diego Handicap, finished fourth. After his subpar performance,… [Read more…]

‘And they’re off!’ Pleasanton Track Announcer is rising star in horse racing

That Chris Griffin is the track announcer for the two Oak Tree at Pleasanton horse racing meets is not a surprise. Griffin, now 36, has rapidly ascended the ranks of track announcers in the United States, calling most of the California State Fair meets …

Source: ‘And they’re off!’ Fair track announcer is rising star in horse racing

 

AGOS Horses to Watch – July 20, 2017

Horses to Watch for AGOS visitors.  Mark these Belmont runners down for the upcoming Saratoga meeting.

Belmont Park

7/15/17

Race #1 – Claiming – 6f – King of Anything

#4 – King of Anything = Rajiv Maragh in the saddle for Dom Giglio. He’s been off 59 days and the trainer wins (21%) with layoff runners. He had a sharp work coming in and was pinched back at the start winding up last in the field. He spun out two wide, then five, and eventually 7 wide at the top of the lane finishing a game 4th.

Race #6 – Claiming – 7f on the turf – Stormin Maclean

#4 – Stormin Maclean = Luis Saez in the irons for Brad Cox (32%). This was his 2nd start off the layoff coming in from Keeneland. The barn wins (32%) with turf runners and was getting added ground going from 6f – 7f. He was caught in very tight against the rail losing all momentum. He is more than capable getting his picture taken next out.

Race  #7 – Mdn Claiming – 1 1/16 turf – Kierland

#4 – Kierland = Luis Saez for Mike Maker getting first time Lasix for a (20%) win clip. His last race came off the turf and the barn scores (21%) going dirt to turf. He uncorked a strong rally splitting runners twice down the lane closing in on the leader. He was beaten in the shadow of the wire.

Belterra Park

7/14/17

Race #3 – Allowance Optional Claiming – 6f on the main track – Woodland Mask

#2 – Woodland Mask = Hector Rosario Jr. in the irons and led from start to finish impressively. They set a new track record while in hand throttled down the last 1/16th of a mile in 1:08.10 – This guy has plenty more in the tank.

Race #4 – Mdn Sp Wt – 5f on the dirt – Love and Mischief

#5 Love and Mischief = John McKee in the saddle for “Buff” Bradley. This filly looked great coming onto the track. This two-year-old broke sharp and was forced to take back and jog home after two horses bumped and were caught in a spill right in front of her. – Toss this race out and she’ll come back and show a better side next out.

Race #8 – Mdn Claiming – 6f on the main track – #C. M. Victoria Rose

#1 – C.M. Victoria Rose = Dean Sarvis (23%) aboard for Matt Hebert (50%) this day. This daughter of Thunder Gulch was shipping in from Tampa Bay and dropping in class. She was far back in the field and came flying very strongly in the lane getting beat a head right at the wire. Play her right back and double-down if Sarvis stays in the saddle.

Beat Saratoga! 8 Tips for Turning a Profit

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8 Tips for Turning a Profit!

Download this free guide "Beat Saratoga: 8 Tips for Turning a Profit" and get prepared to attack the 2017 Saratoga meet successfully.  Beating this 40-day meet with so many contentious races is no easy task, even for experienced horseplayers.

13-time NHC Qualifier, 6-time major contest winner and AGameofSkill.com founder Rich Nilsen walks you through the steps required to beat this prestigious race meet.   Content is updated for 2017!

  • Learn what steps it takes to beat this meet successfully
  • Get the scoop on which jockeys and trainers dominate this meet
  • Find out which 'dark horse' jockeys and trainers you need to know about.  These guys bring home the prices!
  • Understand how each of the tracks play and how this affects you as a handicapper

Fill out the short form below to claim your free report "Beat Saratoga!"  You will automatically receive an email with a link to the PDF document that you can download to any device.

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8 Tips for Turning a Profit at Saratoga

Expert advice for beating the Saratoga meet

A Look Towards the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot

source: Ascot

Following the wondrous 2017 Royal Ascot meeting at the Berkshire track, the next installment of top class Ascot racing takes place at the end of July, with the Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes being the undoubted highlight.

First run in 1951, the twelve furlongs contest rapidly established itself as one of the most prestigious middle distance events in the world and attracts some of the top thoroughbreds from Europe and beyond. As the race is open to three-year-olds and upwards, the King George offers the first major chance for the best of the current Classic generation to take on the leading older horses over a mile and a half.

This year’s renewal looks to be another fantastic race in prospect – provided the leading contenders stand their ground, with less than two weeks till the big race.

Money-machine

Irish super-trainer, Aiden O’Brien has a multitude of stable stars, but the globetrotting money-machine that is Highland Reel, must surely be at the top of his list. Owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor, the son of Galileo has accumulated almost six million pounds in prize money – and the current ante post market leader for the King George could mop up another huge prize here. Following a below-par effort in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan back in March, the return to British racetracks has seen Highland Reel back to form with wins in Epsom’s Coronation Cup (1m4f) and Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’ Stakes over ten furlongs. One note of caution for favourite backers is that the five year-old has never won on any going worse than good ground.

Youthful chance

John Gosden’s Enable surely holds the best three-year old chance of claiming the King George after two highly impressive wins in the English and Irish Oaks. The Khalid Abdullah owned filly saw off the well-backed Rhododendron at Epsom with an eye-catching performance of speed and stamina. Most recently at the Curragh, Enable landed the Irish equivalent at short odds by spread-eagling the field to win by five and a half lengths. Following the Curragh victory, Gosden intimated that Enable “would take on the colts at some stage, but she has come back with a nick on the outside of her off-fore and we’ll have to check that out.” Gosden now has a race against time to get his star filly ready for Ascot, but the veteran trainer has several other race options to consider.

Improving colt

Following his recent Sandown victory in the Coral-Eclipse, the Sir Michael Stoute trained Ulysses has since seen plenty of ante-post market support for the King George. Ulysses rewarded trainer Stoute’s patience and faith by edging out Barney Roy in a thrilling finish to a great clash between the generations at the Esher venue, and Ascot could be next on the agenda for the improving four year-old. After finishing around a length and a half behind Highland Reel in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes, Ulysses – another son of Galileo – will have to show improvement to challenge the Coolmore horse if he is to mount a serious challenge.

Best of the rest

The likely Aiden O’Brien second string could be Idaho, who proved his wellbeing by landing the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting last month. Ridden by Seamie Heffernan, the four year-old stayed on well after claiming the lead, and now deserves his chance again at open Group 1 level. John Gosden may also be double-handed in the race with Jack Hobbs, who must put a disappointing performance behind him in Prince of Wales’ Stakes at Ascot. Godolphin’s best hope of victory could lie with Frontiersman, who put in a career best effort despite defeat to Hawkbill at Newmarket recently.

Top Trainer Bob Baffert Talking Del Mar 2017 [Video]

Del mar chantal billboardThe 78th season of horse racing at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club starts Wednesday, July 19th. Bob Baffert, one of the sports all-time best trainers, has a horse named Arrogate that will race twice at Del Mar this season.

Here’s trainer Bob Baffert talking about the …

Source: Top Trainer Bob Baffert Talking Del Mar

What are the Kentucky Derby Starters Up to this summer?

KY Derby Logo 2017Always Dreaming: The Kentucky Derby winner, who finished a poor eighth in the Preakness for trainer Todd Pletcher, is rested and headed for the Grade II Jim Dandy on July 29 at Saratoga. He’ll have plenty of competition. In fact, it could be the first …

Source: What are the Kentucky Derby horses up to this summer?