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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Belmont Park Fall Dates and Stakes

Belmont Park GrandstandThe New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced race dates for the 27-day Belmont fall meet, including 38 stakes worth $5.58 million in purse money, that will kick off on Friday, September 18 and run through Sunday, November 1.

Following opening weekend at Belmont, live racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday with the exception of Columbus Day weekend, when live racing will be offered on Monday, October 12 and return on Friday, October 16.

The Belmont Park fall meet has traditionally opened on the Friday following Labor Day. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYRA adjusted the fall schedule by adding a one-week break following the conclusion of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.

Check out Handicapping Tip of the Day #61 – Analyzing Layoff Race Horses

“This new fall schedule is the result of a collaborative effort between NYRA, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to modify our racing calendar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the industry,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “I’d like to thank the horsemen and breeders for their common-sense approach to solving the challenges brought about by this unprecedented public health crisis.”

The fall meet at Belmont Park will be highlighted by 22 graded stakes, featuring seven Grade 1 events and seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers to the two-day Breeders’ Cup 2020 World Championships to be held November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course.

Stakes action will commence Opening Day with the $80,000 Miner’s Mark at 1 1/2-miles on Big Sandy for 3-year-olds and up leading into the first of the meet’s Grade 1 events the following day with the $250,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, the second leg of the Turf Triple series for 3-year-old fillies in a 1 ¼-mile turf test on Saturday, September 19.

The following Saturday will be highlighted by the Grade 2, $150,000 Vosburgh, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offering a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The September 26 card is bolstered by the Grade 3, $100,000 Noble Damsel at one-mile on the turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

The Thursday, October 1 card offers the $100,000 Joseph A. Gimma, a seven-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies as the first of 10 stakes races restricted to New York-breds at the meet. It’s counterpart, the $100,000 Bertram F. Bongard also at seven furlongs on the main track will be held October 2.

Five graded races will highlight the Saturday, October 3 card, led by the Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, second leg of the Turf Triple series for males, a 10-furlong turf test offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $250,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 12 furlongs on the turf for 3-year-olds and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at 6 ½-furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 Kelso Handicap, a one-turn mile for 3-years-old and up; and the Grade 2, $150,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-ols at 1 1/16-miles on the turf.

The following day will showcase an additional three graded events on October 4 led by the Grade 2, $150,000 Beldame at nine furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up; The Grade 2, $150,000 Miss Grillo for juvenile fillies; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up.

Columbus Day Weekend beginning Saturday, October 10 and ending on Monday, October 12, will feature nine graded events worth $1.65 million, including four Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” challenge races on Saturday led by the $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 1 ¼-mile test offering a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Saturday, October 10, card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $250,000 Champagne, won last year by Belmont Stakes and Runhappy Travers hero Tiz the Law, at one-mile for 2-year-olds providing a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A loaded card also includes the Grade 1, $250,000 Flower Bowl at 10-furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up with a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on the line; the Grade 1, $250,000 Frizette, a one-turn mile for juvenile fillies offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; and the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point for sophomore fillies at one mile on the turf.

Sunday, October 11 will feature the Grade 3, $100,000 Futurity, a six-furlong turf sprint offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Matron for juvenile filly turf sprinters.

The Grade 2, $150,000 Hill Prince for sophomore turf milers and the Grade 2, $150,000 Knickerbocker, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds and up on Columbus Day Monday will close out the lucrative weekend.

The spotlight will focus on the Empire State on Saturday, October 24 when the best New York-breds gather at Belmont Park for Empire Showcase Day. An annual celebration of all things New York, the Empire Showcase Day card will offer eight stakes worth $1.2 million topped by the $175,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles.

Closing weekend will feature five stakes combined from October 31 – November 1, led by the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap on Saturday. Sunday’s Closing Day will offer the $80,000 Pumpkin Pie and the $80,000 Chelsey Flower.

New York state currently requires all racetracks to operate without spectators in attendance to combat the spread of COVID-19. NYRA will issue updated guidance regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols for jockeys, trainers and owners in the near future.

Source: New York Racing Association

California horse racing (TOC) backs equine innovation

Horse racing in the state has been under significant scrutiny in recent years but industry leaders have embraced sweeping reforms – the most recent of which sees Kildare-based Equine MediRecord (EMR) provide its revolutionary anti-doping and horse welfare software to Thoroughbred owners on the west coast …

This system allows for the full veterinary history of the horse to be recorded securely, ensuring the best possible horse welfare as well as aid with crucial anti-doping procedures.

“I was impressed with EMR’s system,” commented Executive Director of the California Horse Racing Board, Scott Chaney. “Equine medical records are digitized and recorded on a mobile and web-based application used by trainers or their vets.”

Once records are entered into the system they cannot be altered, providing integrity and transparency for all concerned. The Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) have unanimously agreed to support the set-up and implementation of the system.

Nilsen’s Kentucky Derby Analysis w/wagers – Full Card

Rich Nilsen qualifies for the 16th time

Get the complete analysis of the 146th Kentucky Derby card with Nilsen’s professional selections for the big race.

Nilsen covers all 14 races on Derby Day and includes his written analysis on all 18 starters in the Run for the Roses!  Along with trifecta strategies for the KY Derby, Nilsen has 4 best bets (spot plays) with wagers on the day.

As always, this is a tremendous betting card, one of the best of year!

17x NHC Qualifier & AGOS founder Rich Nilsen has his KY Derby Analysis with top picks, 4 spot plays & wagering strategies now available

  • 4 Spot Plays w/wagers
  • Full card selections for all 14 races
  • Pace Analysis for every race
  • Expert Commentary on all 18 Derby Starters
  • Top Derby picks with wagering strategies

Download it now.  17 pages, PDF, only $17.97

Nilsen’s KY Derby Analysis w/expert wagering strategies

 

 

Derby 146 Analysis with Wagering Strategies & 4 Best Bet Spot Plays by Rich Nilsen

Rich Nilsen is the winner of 8 major handicapping tournaments and a 17-time qualifier to the $3 million National Horseplayers Championship (NHC).

There are a lot of pretenders out there.  Get affordable, expert advice for this year’s amazing KY Derby card.

Testimonials About Past Analysis

“Hey Rich.. Thanks for putting me on Tapwrit [Belmont Stakes 2018]!! I liked him and Gormley and Irish War Cry… I had Tapwrit straight & the exacta.  Tapwrit & Gormley both had “dream trips”, But Gormley didnt want to go that far… Hey!! Let’s give some love to Disco Partner for his new North  American record for 6 panels. I had him straight  and also knocked down the exacta of 2-4 for $42.00… Hope you had a good day & made some cash!  Thanks Again, ” ~ Wayne M.

“Rich, thanks for your terrific analysis of the Gulfstream Park [Rainbow Six 3/31/18].  I was able to hit the Pick 6 [paid $9,018 for twenty cents!].   Anyone out there who bets horses would be well advised to download your sheet on every major race day… thanks again for a job well done.” ~ Evan C.

“Great job, Rich!” ~ Jeff S.

“Rich: nice job Travers Day! Thanks to Arrogate, you gave me a good day. How in the world did you land on him? I suspect you’re doing some kind of voodoo pace analysis. If you ever decide to give lessons or a seminar, let me know.” ~ Kelley S.

‘Wise Guy’ Horse Is Out of the Derby

SAD NEWS.   KING GUILLERMO TO SCRATCH FROM KENTUCKY DERBY 146

 

LOUISVILLE, KY (Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020) – Owner Victor Martinez of Victoria’s Ranch reported Thursday that Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner King Guillermo will be scratched from Saturday’s 146th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) due to a fever.

Trained by Juan Carlos Avila, King Guillermo was evaluated by veterinarians after the team discovered he had a fever Wednesday afternoon. Avila and Martinez made the decision Thursday to scratch the colt from Saturday’s “Run for the Roses.”

“To race in a race like the Derby we need him at 100 percent,” Avila said. “We aren’t going to be able to demonstrate how good he is like this. I think we are going to have plenty of time to show his quality. He’s going to be a great horse and everybody knows we have to take care of the horse first. The next step is to try to get him ready for the Preakness and go from there.”

Martinez added, “The sad part is that Juan said yesterday was his best day here. When we left the track in the morning following training and came back in the afternoon for feed time, we discovered he had a fever. It’s just the sad part about this game.”

The defection of King Guillermo leaves the Kentucky Derby field with 17 starters. The two inside gates and one outside gate of the new Kentucky Derby starting gate will remain open. The post positions that were drawn Tuesday remain unchanged.

Industry Profile: Owner of Kentucky Derby contender Honor A.P.

And a Horse Named After Kobe

Lee Searing fell in love with horse racing before he made it out of elementary school.

As a young boy growing up in southern California, trips to the track were a cherished family tradition for the owner of one of this year’s top Kentucky Derby contenders.

“I started going to the racetrack with my father and my mother and my grandfather when I was 8 years old, so I didn’t miss many weekends at the track,” Searing told the Herald-Leader in a phone interview. “I have very wonderful memories with my father and my grandfather and my mother with me and my brothers going to the races at Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita.”

Searing, 73, is president of Searing Industries — the family business founded by his father which specializes in industrial tubing. He parlayed his passion for racing into a second career as a successful horse owner. Along with his wife, Susan, Searing owns C R K Stable. Lee and Susan, who met in high school and have been married for nearly 50 years, named the stable in honor of their three children: Christina, Richard and Katherine.

Tiz The Law Has His Own Ice Cream

From Stewart’s Shops in Saratoga:

Tiz  the Law is on a winning streak! He recently took the Traver’s Stakes in Saratoga after winning the Belmont Stakes and he’s headed to Kentucky to run in the Kentucky Derby! To celebrate our hometown hero, we’ve bestowed him with Stewart’s highest honor, a dedicated ice cream flavor.

This Limited Edition flavor has a chocolate ice cream base with baked brownie and cheesecake pieces. It is available in cones, shakes, sundaes, and hand packed pints at the cone counter. This flavor was chosen because the chocolate base resembles Tiz the Law’s coloring and his owner Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable requested a chocolate flavor. You may remember the flavor, Funny Cide Pride from 17 years ago, it was a customer favorite.

Tiz the Law will be available all 337 Stewart’s Shops. Look for it at the cone counter on Monday, 8/31/20 through Sunday, 10/4/20.

Are We Ready for a Classic in the Kentucky Oaks?

by Art Parker

There are two glorious weekends for all of us horseplayers. The last always comes in late October or early November – The Breeders’ Cup. The first of these weekends focuses on the first Saturday in May, which features the Kentucky Derby. This year the Derby was delayed until the first weekend of September. Now all eyes are finally on the Derby.

Churchill winner's circleHowever, the Derby may not be the best race of the weekend because among the many fantastic graded stakes is the Kentucky Oaks. I can’t help but think the 2020 Oaks will be the best race we will witness in a long time. It may remind us of great battles of the past we will never forget – Alydar and Affirmed or Easy Goer and Sunday Silence.

The Oaks will feature Bob Baffert’s Gamine and Kenny McPeek’s Swiss Skydiver. Gamine has two meanings: As an adjective, it means attractively boyish; as a noun, it means a girl with a mischievous, boyish charm. Take your pick – both meanings fit the speedball named Gamine.

Gamine is far less experienced than Swiss Skydiver, even though she has handled all situations as if she has been around a race track forever.

Swiss Skydiver has run five times since late March and won four of those. The only time she ran second was against the boys in the Blue Grass at Keeneland, and it was a good second. When it comes to her gender, she has destroyed the hopes of young girls she has faced – just like Gamine.

Gamine sent notice that she was for real when set a stakes record in the one turn Acorn Stakes at Belmont of 1:32 2/5 on June 20, less than a couple of hours before Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes. Quite a performance when one considers that Johnny Velazquez kept Gamine away from the rail despite having the lead. She won by more than 18 lengths and did it with incredible ease. If you want to consider how good she is, look at the times of her race and that of Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes. Although Gamine only went a mile while Tiz the Law went nine furlongs, the time differentials are eye-catching.

Gamine: 22 2/5, 45 1/5, 1:09 2/5, 1:32 2/5.

Tiz the Law: 23, 46, 1:09 4/5, 1:34 2/5 and nine furlongs in 1:46 2/5.

True, not completely comparing apples to apples, but it gets your attention.

Gamine followed that up in the Test Stakes, one of the top sprints for females in the nation contested at seven furlongs. She faced a great deal of pressure in the first half-mile, but she casually went about her business with strong split times and coasted home easily by seven lengths in 1:20 4/5. Once again, Velazquez kept her away from the rail while leading the entire trip.

Swiss Skydiver has run a great deal and experience is on her side. She has also been around two turns on five occasions, which is more two-turn races than Gamine has run collectively. As far as qualifying Oaks points, Swiss Skydiver has accumulated about three times the points as the second place filly, Speech, who was soundly defeated by Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks. The filly that is third in the points standing is Bonny South, who managed a decent second in the all-important Alabama Stakes at 1 ¼ miles August 15. Please remember that the only reason one can call the Alabama runner up’s effort decent is because the winner was being geared down with a hard hold the last furlong.

In my mind, the win by Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn on May 1 portrays her the best. In a field of 14 fillies, she showed she has excellent tactical early speed, and we all know that is one of the best ways to avoid trouble in a race. Swiss Skydiver, dismissed in the wagering at about 15-1, stayed along the rail chasing the big favorite, Venetian Harbor, and gradually advanced before challenging the favorite for the majority of the stretch. But when it came time to determine the better filly, Swiss Skydiver slapped her opponent and won like a champ. It is important to note that Gamine toyed with Venetian Harbor in the Grade One Test before winning with ease.

My imagination tells me that Gamine will lead early, and Swiss Skydiver will track her. Assuming both have a clear trip, I imagine the battle in the stretch on Oaks Day will be one to remember. Both Gamine and Swiss Skydiver are great fillies. I, for one, look forward to seeing this heavyweight bout. After all the analysis and after watching tapes of races, only one question remains for the Kentucky Oaks.

Who will run third?

Born into slavery, He won the Kentucky Derby three times and became the richest American athlete

Born into slavery in Clark County, Kentucky, in 1861, he moved to Lexington with his mother after the end of the Civil War. In 1874, his mother, perhaps due to ill health or the loss of her savings in a bank crash, apprenticed the teenager to James T. Williams, a horse breeder. He learned to care for and exercise the horses. Eli Jordan, a friend of his mother’s, took a special interest in the boy and taught him the intricacies of pace and horse racing. Since he was small, he was an ideal jockey.  Who is he?

Source: Born into slavery, this man won the Kentucky Derby three times and became the richest American athlete

DID YOU MISS?

Are the Kentucky Derby Points a good selection tool?

Are Kentucky Derby and Oaks Points a Useful Selection Tool?

by Art Parker

In 2013 the criteria for being able to enter the Kentucky Derby was measured by graded stakes earnings accumulated during the career of a three year old. The idea was to award those that performed well in certain races known as “Derby Preps.” These races are the traditional big races in the spring when racing eyes are beginning to envision the first Saturday in May.

While this year has been quite a bit different due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Kentucky Derby points system is still the measurement used to determine who gets into the gate on September 5, the Derby Day of 2020. The actual races may have changed a bit but the point system is still the determinant.

On the Derby Leaderboard the clear favorite for the race, Tiz the Law, has 372 points after embarrassing competition in several outings this year, most notably the Travers, which was his last start.

Churchill Downs Stock UpgradedThe second horse behind the leader is Authentic, one of two Bob Baffert charges. Authentic has 200 points which puts him slightly above half of what the Tiz the Law has accumulated. Comparing the point differential from first to second in prior years tells us that Tiz the Law is in a league of his own – at least based on points. This has been the difference in other years: zero, one, 13, 16, 18, 21, and 30. The number that looks so big, 30, was Derby winner’s California Chrome’s number over Vicar’s in Trouble in 2014. By the way, only one other point’s leader that has won the Derby was in 2013, when Orb romped home on a muddy track.

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Since California Chrome no point’s leader has won the Derby. The winner in 2019, Country House, was 17th in points in a Derby we all wish to forget, except the winner’s connections. In 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify was ninth sporting only his Santa Anita Derby win. In 2017 Always Dreaming was seventh in points. In 2016 Derby winner Nyquist was second in points to eventual great Gun Runner. When American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015 he was fourth on the points list.

Should you select a Derby winner based upon on points? According to this, the answer is no, based on history. However, no other horse has held such a colossal amount of points over the competition.

The points leaderboard for the Kentucky Oaks looks similar. Swiss Skydiver has been on tour winning four major races in four different states. Her point total for the Kentucky Oaks is a whopping 450. In second is Speech with only 160 points. The difference of 290 points is hard to imagine. Like the Derby, let’s look at the point differential between the leader and second place. The only Oaks winner that led in points was Untapable in 2014. The point differential between first and second on the leaderboard has been, zero, zero, 6, 10, 19, 20, and Untapable’s 40.

In 2019 Serengeti Empress won the Oaks and was eighth on the points list. In 2018 Oaks winner Monomy Girl was second on the points list to Midnight Bisou. Abel Tasman won the Oaks in 2017 and was seventh on the points list. In 2016 Cathryn Sophia captured the Oaks while finishing sixth in the points race. Lovely Maria won the 2015 Oaks and was fifth in points. Before Untapable in 2013 Princess of Sylmar finished seventh on the points list and won the Oaks.

Like the points question asked earlier about the Derby, should you select an Oaks winner based upon on points? According to this, the answer is no, based on history. However, just like the point differential in the Derby, no other horse has held such a colossal amount of points over the competition in the Oaks.

A major consideration in the Oaks points this year is Bob Baffert’s filly, Gamine. The superstar is ninth on the points list but has raced in only one race with points – The Acorn at Belmont.

For a final, up to date listing of points for the Derby and the Oaks.

Industry Profile: Racehorse Owner Jack Knowlton

From Fairy Tale to Triumph

In 1995 Jack and five pals of his formed Sackatoga Stable. The name was a play on words. A combination of letters from the crew’s hometown of Sackets Harbor along with Jack’s residency in Saratoga Springs creating an amusing name for the enterprise. They chose the staid checkered colors of maroon and gray that matched those of their high school for the stable’s jockey silks.

They liked the name so much that they named their first horse Sackets Six. Little did they know that eight years later lightning would strike them in the form of a three-year-old gelding with the name Funny Cide…