About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 15-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 was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. 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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Breeders’ Cup 2018: Classic Longshot Gunnevera

Gunnevara Fountain of YouthMargoth’s multiple graded-stakes winner Gunnevera breezed five furlongs Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park West in advance of his next anticipated start in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 3.

With regular rider Edgard Zayas aboard, Gunnevera completed the distance in 1:02 over a wet-fast main track, second-fastest of 13 horses. It was his first work since overcoming a wide trip to rally from 11th and finish second to Yoshida in the Woodward (G1) Sept. 1 at Saratoga.

“He did it very easy. We wanted to give him an easy work after his race at Saratoga,” trainer Antonio Sano said. “I’m so happy with the work and how my horse is doing. I’m so proud of the way he’s come back from the race.”

Sano said Gunnevera will have another breeze next Sunday over his home track, this time in company, before heading to Churchill Downs Friday, Oct. 26.

“Next week he’ll do a little bit more,” Sano said. “He’ll work one more time with a couple horses. I want to get a little stronger work before we go to Churchill.”

A 4-year-old son of Dialed In that has won earned more than $3 million, Gunnevera ran third in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) in January before sustaining a nasty foot injury while finishing off the board in the Dubai World Cup (G1) March 31. Given two months in Ocala to allow the foot to heal, he returned with a sharp 6 ½-length victory in an Aug. 10 optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park prior to the Woodward.

Gunnevera finished in a dead heat for fifth with inaugural Pegasus winner Arrogate in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. They were 6 ¼ lengths behind winner and 2018 Pegasus winner Gun Runner.

“I’m so happy to be going back to the Classic for a second year,” Sano said. “My horse is doing very good and we are looking forward to trying again.”

Preview of 2018 Pattison International & E. P. Taylor

EARLY LOOK AT THE GRADE 1 PATTISON CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL, which will run this Saturday, October 13, 2018.

Horse – Owner – Trainer – Jockey

Arklow – Donegal Racing, Bulger, Joseph and Coneway, Peter – Brad H. Cox – TBA

Bandua – Calumet Farm – Jack Sisterson – Adam Beschizza

Desert Encounter (IRE) – Abdulla Al Mansoori – David Simcock – Harry Bentley

English Illusion – 4U Thoroughbred Racing Stable Inc. – Sylvain Pion – Rafael Hernandez

Focus Group – Klaravich Stables & William H. Lawrence – Chad C. Brown – Jose Ortiz

Funtastic – Three Chimneys Farm – Chad C. Brown – John Velazquez

Johnny Bear – Colebrook Farms and Bear Stables, Ltd. – Ashlee Brnjas – Luis Contreras

Khan (GER) – Darius Racing – Hank Grewe – Clement Lecoeuvre

Markitoff – Three Diamonds Farm – Michael J. Maker – TBA

Mekhtaal (GB) – Al Shaqab Racing – H. Graham Motion – Alan Garcia

Spring Quality – Augustin Stable – H. Graham Motion – Edgar Prado

Thundering Blue – Clive Washbourn – David Menuisier – Fran Berry

Tiz a Slam – Chiefswood Stable – Roger L. Attfield – Steve Bahen

EARLY LOOK AT THE GRADE 1 E.P. TAYLOR STAKES (9)

Horse – Owner – Trainer – Jockey

Elysea’s World (IRE) – Sheep Pond Partners and All Pro Racing LLC – Chad C. Brown – Joe Bravo

Golden Legend (FR) – Mrs. Henri Devin – H.F. Devin – TBA

Pollara (IRE) – Peter M. Brant and Allen Stable Inc. – Chad C. Brown – Irad Ortiz Jr.

Proctor’s Ledge – Patricia L. Moseley – Brendan P. Walsh – John Velazquez

Santa Monica (GB) – Mrs. John Magnier, Madaket Stables LLC and Deron Pearson – Chad C. Brown – Jose Ortiz

Sheikha Reika (FR) – Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum – Roger Varian – TBA

Sky Full of Stars (GER) – Gestut Karlshof – Hank Grewe – TBA

Starship Jubilee – Soli Mehta and Kevin Attard – Kevin Attard – Luis Contreras

Summer Luck – Gary Barber – Mark E. Casse – TBA

European star Thundering Blue sets out to conquer Pattison Canadian International

A five-year-old son of Exchange Rate, Thundering Blue has both Group 2 and Group 3 crowns to his name. In less than 10 days, the Kentucky-bred will look to lower the boom on the competition and earn his first Grade 1 victory in the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine Racetrack.

Trained by David Menuisier for Mr. Clive Washbourn, the grey, who will venture to Canada for the first time, has produced four consecutive strong performances.

Two starts ago, Thundering Blue eked out a neck nod in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes on July 28.

Runner-up in the John Smith’s Cup over the same course and distance two weeks prior, he went one better to give Menuisier his first Group winner.

“His Group 2 win at York was magical as it was his first attempt in a pattern race,” he noted. “He spent the whole of his career in handicaps. He went from a below average handicapper to a very talented one in the space of 12 months, giving us the feeling he was a pattern-class horse. The Group 2 win confirmed what we thought of him.”

Menuisier was taken aback by the York triumph.

“I can’t believe it,” he said after the race. “I’m still in shock. He’s now five, but he just keeps improving and improving. We were very unlucky here last time, so this is our revenge. He takes every yard of that trip to come and win, but there’s something about York that he loves, so why not (run in the Juddmonte)?”

Woodbine via WO FB pageDismissed at 50-1 in the Group 1 Juddmonte, contested at 1 5/16-miles at York, Thundering Blue, under Fran Berry, finished third to Roaring Lion.

“The real pinnacle was to finish in the frame against a regal opposition, beating the winners of the 2000 Guineas, Dubai World Cup, Dubai Duty Free, Irish Derby and St James’s Palace Stakes,” offered Menuisier.

On September 23, Berry and ‘Blue’ teamed to take the 12-furlong, Group 3 Stockholm Cup at Bro Park in Sweden by two lengths.

Now, the six-time winner from 20 starts will venture across the pond and onto the International scene.

Menuisier is eager to see how his charge fares on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

“I have never been to Woodbine before, but I have spoken to a few experts about the course and everybody tells me it is a very European-like turf course with a decent final straight, so I am looking forward to being there and see it with my own eyes. It should suit Thundering Blue as he has been so versatile so far winning races at Epsom, Newmarket, Sandown, York and Bro Park – five tracks that are all drastically so different.”

Berry, aboard for Thundering Blue’s last four starts, gets the call for the International.

Menuisier will arrive at Woodbine on October 10, two days after Thundering Blue takes up residence on the Toronto oval backstretch.

English Illusion looks to give local connections International headlines

To dream the possible dream? The connections of English Illusion, a five-year-old Ontario-bred son of English Channel, have answered that question with a spot in the starting gate for the Grade 1, $800,000 Pattison Canadian International, on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Woodbine.

Owned by 4U Thoroughbred Racing Stable Inc. and trained by Woodbine-based conditioner Sylvain Pion, the four-time winner from 27 starts heads into the International in top form, having won the OLG Halton Stakes on August 29 and finishing third in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes on September 15.

What’s English Illusion’s biggest claim to fame to date? He was an astute $45,000 claim by Pion on August 5.

“I like my distance horses,” noted Pion. “And he’s a good horse. I paid attention to him when he came over to the paddock. The main thing that I was thinking about was the Turf Endurance Series (a four-leg grass series with expanding distances, contested at Woodbine). I have Artistico – who leads the Series – and I thought if anyone else is going to come and beat him, it could be English Illusion. We could have gone there and he would have been an all-star, but we had the Halton.”

In the Halton, contested at ‘about’ 1 ½-miles on the Toronto oval’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course, English Illusion, at 8-1, won by 1 ½-lengths in 2:29.72 over ‘good’ ground.

With the victory, the chestnut gelding changed his career path.

“After that race, everything went out the window with thoughts of the Endurance Series,” said Pion with a laugh. “There was no more discussion about that. It didn’t feel like a losing situation. I was very fortunate. He came from a great barn, a Hall of Fame trainer (Dan Vella) and good people who take great care of their horses. Sometimes it’s a change of scenery that helps. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

With a solid third-place effort to Johnny Bear – who’ll also race in the International – in the Northern Dancer, English Illusion will now step up again, squaring off against accomplished rivals from North America and Europe.

Pion, in the midst of a career year, knows his horse will be a longshot on October 13. He also knows his outsider will be ready for the challenge.

“He’s coming into the race in really good shape or else I wouldn’t be going,” said the trainer, who has eight wins, six seconds and three thirds from 42 starts in 2018. “He’s training well. I know the competition will be a lot tougher than the last one (Northern Dancer), but we’re going into this knowing he’s in good order. He’s earned the right to face these horses.

“I know there are some very good horses, but this is his home turf. They’re going to have to run to beat him. He’s no slouch.”

Rafael Hernandez, second in the Woodbine rider standings with 124 wins, will be aboard for the International.

Source: Woodbine

How DFS sites FanDuel and DraftKings are taking aim at the world of sports gambling

How daily fantasy sites FanDuel and DraftKings are taking aim at the world of sports gambling

New York Daily News Full coverage: How daily fantasy sites FanDuel and DraftKings are taking aim at the world of sports gambling

Breeders’ Cup 2018: International Win And You’re In

Note: The Arc is today in France

Godolphin’s 5-year-old, 2.8-1 favorite Fine Needle (JPN) closed powerfully in the last 100 yards under jockey Yuga Kawada to collar 3-year-old filly Love Kampf (JPN) at the wire to win Sunday’s six furlong, $2,169,091 Sprinters Stakes (G1) at Nakayama Racecourse by a neck, and earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 85 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 2-3.

As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Fine Needle to start in the $1 million Turf Sprint, a Grade 1 race run at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, for three-3-year-olds and up, at Churchill Downs on Nov.3. Breeders’ Cup also is providing all starters based outside of North Americas with a $40,000 travel allowance to compete in the World Championships.

Fine Needle joins Disco Partner, who won the Jaipur Invitational (G2) at Belmont Park in June and Havana Grey (GB), who captured the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (G1) earlier this month at Leopardstown as the other Turf Sprint “Win and You’re In” contenders.

Melbourne_Australian racingToday’s 52nd Sprinters Stakes was run under rainy conditions with a huge typhoon closing in. Once in a Moon (JPN) gunned for the lead in the 16-horse field and set the pace. Fine Needle, trained by Yoshitada Takahashi, broke from post 8 and was settled in mid-field and three-wide. Shifting farther out in the last turn to avoid traffic, he unleashed his trademark turn of foot all the way to the wire while picking off his rivals one by one and finally catching Love Kampf in the final strides to win by a neck.

Sent off at 31-1, Love Kampf broke sharply and chased the pace in second. Hitting the straight still in second and two-wide, she took over the lead from the pacesetter while shaking off second favorite Nac Venus (JPN) 100 meters out and dug in gamely but was pinned by the winner at the wire.

Rhein Spirit (JPN) saved ground in third to fourth, struggled for room behind the battling front runners in the stretch, but broke through chasing Love Kampf in the final 50 meters, stretching his neck in front of Daimei Princess (JPN) to grab third.

Fine Needle completed the six furlongs in 1:08.3 under a course listed as good.

Fine Needle, a bay son of Admire Moon (JPN), won his fourth group stakes race is five starts this year. On Sept. 6, he came back after a four-month layoff to score an impressive 1 ½-length victory over Love Kampf at Hanshin in the six-furlong Centaur Stakes (G2). He began 2018 by winning the six-furlong Silk Road Stakes (G3) at Kyoto by two lengths on Jan. 28, and returned in March to take the Group 1 Takamatsumomiya Kinen at Chukyo by a nose. His lone defeat this year was in Hong Kong in late April where he finished fourth, beaten four lengths in the Group 1 Chairman’s Prize at Sha Tin.

Fine Needle was bred by Darley Japan KK.

“I am relieved to have been able to come up with the best results as the race favorite,” said Takahashi. “I knew by the look of Fine Needle’s eyes at the saddling area that he had switched into racing mode. He was positioned exactly where I had imagined and I was a little concerned when the jockey was urging the horse on at the third corner, but the horse got into gear and then geared up again once entering the stretch so from there I was just hoping with all my heart that he would reach the leader in time.”

Said winning-jockey Kawada: “He wasn’t as sharp in the first half of the race and we had to race further out than we’d hoped, but despite the unideal trip, he really made up for it with his legs at the straight and we just managed to clinch our victory at the wire. He sure validated his win in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen with this JRA-sprint-G1 double and two other grade-race victories which undoubtedly places him as the top sprinter in Japan.”

Keeneland News

Keeneland is at the forefront of fan education and this fall will introduce new programming targeting the intermediate fan that further enhances the track’s BETology efforts.

Keeneland Trainer Stats on your Tablet, phone or eReader

Among the new programs are Pop-Up BETology, with Keeneland’s famed BETologists going directly to the fans via a “BET Mobile” golf cart that will invade The Hill tailgate area and parking lots to offer quick BETology sessions. Each race day, Keeneland will present organized short-form BETology 101 and 201 level seminars at 12:05 p.m. and 12:20 p.m, respectively, at Wagering Central. Topics for the beginner or intermediate fan include “The Vocabulary of Betting” and “Understanding Odds”.

Keeneland and Daily Racing Form have collaborated on programming and more advanced materials that target the intermediate bettor. The partnership includes Saturday 201 sessions with a “Play Like a Player” segment about how to read a Form, understand Beyer Speed Figures and more. In addition, Keeneland and the Form have developed materials to guide conversations with BETologists about how to use more advanced handicapping tools.

You can also plug into Keeneland.com and Keeneland’s social media platforms to keep pace with all the racing action and special events fun. Follow Keeneland on Facebook @Keeneland, Instagram @Keeneland and Twitter @KeenelandRacing and @BetKeeneland. Bet from anywhere via your phone with the Keeneland Select app.

Returning this fall is the popular @BetKeeneland on Twitter, an interactive handle that provides horseplayers with real-time handicapping tips and insights while benefiting the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) through its Handicapper of the Day Series. Guest handicappers slated for this fall include Britney Eurton, TVG reporter and part of the NBC Sports Triple Crown broadcast team; Gabby Gaudet, on-air racing analyst for the New York Racing Association and its Fox Sports telecasts; Scott Hazelton, on-air host and reporter for TVG; Richard Migliore, retired jockey and racing and workout analyst for XBTV; Jeff Siegel, noted Southern California handicapper and analyst/on-air host for XBTV; and Steve Sherack, senior editor of Thoroughbred Daily News.

The free Keeneland Race Day App offers a number of options to make your race day more memorable. Among the features available at your fingertips: live streaming of Keeneland races and race replays; entries and results; Expert Picks; special events information and a GPS-enabled interactive map of Keeneland. A Bet Simulator shows you each step in placing a wager, calculating the cost of a bet and projected simple will-pays. App users may also receive exclusive access to daily promotions, contests and giveaways.

Return of popular Pick Fours and Pick Fives

Each race day, Keeneland offers a daily Pick 6 in addition to its early and late Pick Fours and Pick Fives. Highlighting the Fall Meet schedule are a number of Pick Fours and Pick Fives with guaranteed pools:

· $200,000-guaranteed Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG (Fridays, Oct. 5, 12, 19).

· $350,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four Presented by TVG on Saturday, Oct. 6, on races 7-10: Thoroughbred Club of America, First Lady, Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Shadwell Turf Mile.

· $250,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five Presented by TVG on Saturday, Oct. 6, on races 6-10: Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select, Thoroughbred Club of America, First Lady, Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Shadwell Turf Mile.

· $350,000-guaranteed Pick Four Presented by TVG (Saturday, Oct. 13 and 20).

Source: Keeneland

Breeders’ Cup 2018: Keeneland’s Fall Stars Weekend

Keeneland Green LogoFour graded stakes winners from Keeneland’s 2017 Fall Stars Weekend, including Suedois (FR), who took the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), are among the list of horses nominated to this year’s Fall Stars Weekend on Oct. 5-7, opening weekend of Keeneland’s 17-day Fall Meet that runs through Oct. 27.

Fall Stars Weekend features 10 stakes, nine of which are graded, worth $3.95 million. Five of those races are Grade 1 events, and nine of them are Breeders’ Cup Challenge races that are “Win and You’re In” contests for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2-3.

The 33rd running of the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), for 3-year-olds and up and a Win and You’re In race for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), drew 31 nominations and will be run Saturday, Oct. 6.

Owned by George Turner and Clipper Logistics and trained by David O’Meara, Suedois won last year’s Shadwell Turf Mile by a half-length over Heart to Heart, who also is nominated to this year’s race.

In addition to Suedois and Heart to Heart, winner of this spring’s Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland, other Grade/Group 1 winners nominated to the Shadwell Turf Mile are Almanaar (GB), Divisidero, Lightning Spear (GB) and Voodoo Song.

The other defending champions nominated to Fall Stars Weekend stakes are Whitmore (Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix-G2), Miss Sunset (Thoroughbred Club of America-G2) and Bucchero (Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select-G2).

Keeneland’s Fall Stars Weekend

Opening day, Oct. 5

Grade 1 stakes action on Fall Stars Weekend begins opening day with the 67th running of the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on dirt. A Win and You’re In race for the $2 million Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), the Darley Alcibiades drew 44 nominations headed by Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress.

Trained by Tom Amoss, Serengeti Empress won the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill Downs by 19½ lengths on Sept. 15 at the Darley Alcibiades distance. Prior to that, she won the Ellis Park Debutante by 13½ lengths.

Whitmore is nominated to the 166th running of the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, a Win and You’re In race for $2 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint Owned by Robert LaPenta, Head of Plains Partners and trainer Ron Moquett’s Southern Springs Stables, he won the Forego (G1) at Saratoga in his most recent start.

Among the 23 nominees to the 6-furlong dirt test are 2017 champion male sprinter and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Roy H; H. Allen Jerkens Presented by Runhappy (G1) winner Promises Fulfilled; and multiple graded stakes winner Limousine Liberal.

Saturday, Oct. 6

The Shadwell Turf Mile anchors an 11-race card on Saturday, Oct. 6. Post time for the first race that day is 12:40 p.m. (but is 1:05 p.m. on all other days).

The 105th running of the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on dirt attracted 56 nominations. The race is a Win and You’re In test for the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

Included among the nominations are Hopeful (G1) winner Mind Control, Iroquois (G3) winner Cairo Cat and multiple graded stakes-placed Tight Ten.

The third Grade 1 race on Oct. 6 is the 21st running of the $400,000 First Lady for fillies and mares going a mile on turf. Attracting 27 nominations, the First Lady is a Win and You’re In race for the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1).

Chad Brown trains four nominees, including Grade 1 winners A Raving Beauty (GER) and Off Limits (IRE) plus Ballston Spa (G2) winner Quidura (GB) and multiple graded stakes winner Rymska (FR).

Alan Klein and Phil Lebherz’s Miss Sunset, trained by Jeff Bonde, tops a roster of 25 nominees to the 38th running of the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) for fillies and mares going 6 furlongs on dirt. The race is a Win and You’re In dash for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).

Among the other nominees are 2017 TCA runner-up Chalon and Grade 2 sprint winners Ivy Bell, Lucy N Ethel, Mia Mischief, Stormy Embrace and Vertical Oak.

Ironhorse Racing Stable’s Bucchero, who sprang a 26-1 upset in the 2017 Woodford, tops a list of 35 nominees to the 22nd running of the $200,000 Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select for 3-year-olds and up going 5½ furlongs on the turf.

Trained by Tim Glyshaw, Bucchero finished fifth in the 5-furlong Turf Monster (G3) at Parx on Sept. 3 behind other Woodford nominees Pure Sensation, Vision Perfect and Rainbow Heir.

Sunday, Oct. 7

The fifth Grade 1 event of Fall Stars Weekend is the 63rd running of the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7, the Juddmonte Spinster is a Win and You’re In race for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

The Juddmonte Spinster drew 23 nominations headed by the nation’s top 3-year-old filly, Monomoy Girl, and Alabama (G1) winner Eskimo Kisses.

Completing the Fall Stars Weekend lineup on Oct. 7 are two Win and You’re In races for 2-year-olds, the 28th running of the $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon (G3) and the inaugural running of the $200,000 Indian Summer.

The Dixiana Bourbon, which drew 54 nominations, is run at 1 1/16 miles on turf and is a Win and You’re In for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Heading the nominees is Opry, winner of the With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga, undefeated Kentucky Downs Juvenile winner Henley’s Joy and Del Mar Juvenile Turf winner King of Speed.

The Indian Summer, slated for 5½ furlongs on the turf, is a Win and You’re In for the inaugural $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

The Indian Summer drew 49 nominees, 11 of which are trained by Wesley Ward. Among the Ward nominees are Shang Shang Shang, winner of the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot; Stillwater Cove, winner of the Bolton Landing at Saratoga; and Moonlight Romance, winner of the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint.

NBC to cover Breeders’ Cup Challenge races

On Oct. 6-7, NBC will cover four of Keeneland’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge races as part of its “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, presented by America’s Best Racing.”

The $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and $400,000 First Lady (G1) on Oct. 6 will air from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

The following day, NBC will broadcast the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) and $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon (G3) from 4:30-6 p.m.

Source: Press Release

Stronach 5 Wager for Friday 10/5/18

Friday’s edition of the Stronach 5, a national wager with a $1 minimum and industry-low takeout of 12 percent, will feature four turf races, big fields, and a guaranteed pool of $50,000.

The Stronach 5 kicks off Friday, Oct. 5 with Santa Anita’s third race at 5:03 ET (2:03 PT) with a field of nine going six furlongs.

Last week’s inaugural Stronach 5 rewarded 14 bettors with winning tickets of $9,888.30.

Friday’s Stronach 5 Wager sequence is:

Leg One – Santa Anita Third Race (9 horses) 5:03 ET, 2:03 PT

Leg two – Gulfstream West Eighth Race (10 horses, turf) 5:10 ET, 2:10 PT

Leg Three – Laurel Ninth Race (15 horses, turf) 5:22 ET, 2:22 PT

Leg Four: Laurel 10th Race (14 horses, turf) 5:54 ET, 2:54 PT

Leg Five – Santa Anita 5th Race (10 horses, turf) 6:08 ET, 3:08 PT

The minimum wager on the multi-race, multi-track Stronach 5 Wager will be $1. If there are no tickets with five winners, the entire pool will be carried over to the next Friday.

For the Stronach 5, if a change in racing surface is made after the wagering closes, each selection on any ticket will be considered a winning selection. If a betting interest is scratched, that selection will be substituted with the favorite in the win pool when wagering closes.

The Maryland Jockey Club serves as host of the Stronach 5.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – 10/4/18

AGOS Visitor get complimentary Horses to Watch and Trip Notes.

BELMONT PARK

KEPT TRUE (Race 9 @BEL 10/4/18) – First time starter by Yes It’s True was full of run and just waiting for run when she took over in mid-stretch and scored an easier-than-it-looks victory.  She’s out of a stakes placed mare and is bred to be a nice sprinter.

STRIVE FOR A CURE (Race 5 @BEL 9/19/18) – This was quite the put over by top MidAtlantic trainer Dale Capuano, who brought this 2yo son of Goldencents up from Laurel to upset a pretty good maiden field at odds of 10-1.  Ridden by bug boy Weston Hamilton, he made a long sustained run on the inside to catch the favorite in mid stretch and then outduel that one to the wire.

SUNNY RIDGE  (race 8 @BEL, 9/22/18) – Holy Bull gelding made a wide sweeping run against the early speed bias and finished a game 2nd to the logical, gate to wire winner. Jason Servis runner is very honest.

SARATOGA

OPRY (Race 9 @SAR 8/29/18) – This winner of the featured With Anticipation Stakes unleashed an eye-catching late run to get up and draw off at the wire. Son of Declaration Of War, who is by War Front, just missed in debut which was taken off the turf. That race was won by Cairo Cat.  2nd stakes winner out of that maiden affair on Aug. 11th.

How to Win a Handicapping Tournament

By Rich Nilsen

For the last 10 years or more, the handicapping tournaments in the horse racing world have been all the rage.  The popularity has increased with each passing year, and the overall tournament landscape has changed significantly.  Whereas in the past nearly all contests featured a $2 win/place format using mythical money, the larger real-money tournaments have now taken over.  The good news is that there is still something for everyone.  There are small entry-level contests where the buy-in may be as a low as $9, and there are huge tournaments where you need $10,000 or more to get in the front door.

Handicapping tournaments are a lot of fun, but to win one you have to be more than just a good handicapper.  You have to be prepared and have a plan.  Today we’ll look at the steps I believe you need in order to succeed in horse racing contests.  Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences at the end on what you think it takes to win a handicapping tournament.

REALLY KNOW THE RULES

Yes, that seems pretty obvious.  But understanding the basic rules and really knowing the rules are two different things.  There are many contests out there that have ‘fine details’ and those fine details can be the difference between winning and losing.

I highly recommend reading through the rules of an upcoming contest multiple times.  In doing so, you may just catch something you missed the first time around.  For example, in 2016 I was fortunate to win into the Kentucky Derby Betting Championship, a brand new, real-money contest that featured a $20,000 buy-in.  You had to bet a certain amount of money on a minimum number of Churchill Downs races on both Friday and Saturday of Kentucky Derby weekend.  What could easily be missed in the rules is that you could wager LESS than the required amount on any given race.

This omission was actually significant.  Why?  The reason being that you could take a swing at a race that maybe you didn’t want to go all-in on per the minimum race requirements.  So, instead of wagering the required $400 minimum, for example, you could take a shot with $50-100 in bets.  If you lost, no big deal.  If you hit an exacta or trifecta that paid well, this could help you make a move on the leaderboard.  If you sat out the race entirely, because you failed to understand the rule, and then a horse you were strongly considering won, this could also wreck havoc on your mental game.

There are other contests where if you fail to make a bet or meet the minimum requirements, you’re disqualified.  I’ve seen this happen even to veteran tournament players.  By reading the rules and really understanding the ins and outs of the contest, you’re much less likely to make a critical mistake.

FOLLOW THE CONTEST TRACK(S)

In the week leading up to a contest that features specific tracks, you should definitely follow the action at those tracks in the days prior.   There are several benefits to doing that.  For one you may catch on to a prevailing track bias.  You may notice certain trainers or jockeys that are ice cold, or red-hot for that matter.

You may also notice a horse that was victorious who ran against a horse entered on the upcoming contest date. That happened to me many years ago when I was involved in a handicapping tournament in Kentucky.  The day before the contest, I had wagered on a horse that won impressively at Keeneland and had done so at nice odds.  The following day a runner that had been very competitive with that winning horse was entered to run.  The horse made sense to me, for a variety of reasons, and I knew he was coming out of a sneaky good race.  He crushed the field and scored at 50-1 odds!  I had him in the contest and, although I didn’t win the grand prize, I was among the top finishers at the conclusion of the contest.

BE AGGRESSIVE

It’s very hard to win a contest with a conservative approach.  Playing the favorites, for example, throughout the majority of the card isn’t going to get you into the winner’s circle very often.  You may feel good cashing several races, but it simply won’t ‘cut it.’

I’m not suggesting that you just take stabs at big longshots.  However, it is advisable to find some value plays that make sense and can propel you up the leaderboard if you’re right.  Just a couple of victorious 6-1 shots can oftentimes put you in the hunt to win a tournament.

If you’re playing a tournament with mandatory races, then everyone is required to play the same race(s).  If a big price comes in, unless it’s a very small field of players, someone is going to have the longshot, and you’re toast.

The chances of just picking the logical favorites and being successful in most tournaments is low, as this player found out a few years ago.

How not to play a contest

In this live, online tournament featuring 10 mandatory races, there were 105 players and the top 12 won prizes.  This player had an awesome day, selecting six winners in a row!  The problem was that only one of those winners paid more than 2-1 and that was the 4-1 winning selection at Hawthorne.  Unfortunately for this sharp handicapper, a big price came in late in the tournament and blew him and his great day out of the water.  He plummeted to 15th place, out of the prize spots.  SIX winners in a row in a 10-race contest against only 104 other entries, and he finished completely out of the money.  Incredible.

MAP OUT YOUR CONTEST PLAYS

When you enter a contest, whether it’s on-track or online, you should handicap and make your selections (or structure your wagers) as far in advance of the first race as possible.  Then, check the scratches when they get posted and make appropriate revisions.

If you enter a contest and just plan to ‘wing it’ at the event, or during the online contest, I wish you the best of luck. To me, one of the worst aspects of ‘winging’ a contest and playing it as it goes, is that you are not prepared for the later races.  And, more times than not, the later races will play the biggest part in determining the final results.

My friend Paul Shurman, who is currently leading the NHC Tour (again), explained his thoughts on this in an interview with Eric Wing: “I think you need to have handicapped all the races before you enter the room. You have to know what you like later on in the day to know whether what you’re looking at right now represents good contest value. I also handicap backwards. I’ll start at the end of the card and work my way to the beginning. This way, if I don’t finish, and I wind up having to handicap on the fly, at least I’ll be handicapping on the fly early, knowing what I like later.”

The other benefit of mapping our picks or wagers ahead of time is that you are more likely to stick to your guns.  How many times have you heard a player say, “every time I change a pick, it loses,” or “I should have stuck with my original pick.”  I can attest that when I change my original pick it is usually a mistake.  It’s rare that I have a good reason to go against my original handicapping.

Now, of course, if there is a sudden downpour and the track has become a muddy mess, that is one example where changing your picks is not only a good idea but probably advisable (assuming you didn’t handicap for a wet track).  There are other scenarios and most are common sense.

Where it is not advisable is when you hear the paddock commentator say something negative about your selection, and so now, you’re looking at going a different direction.  Stick to your guns.  If you put a lot of work into your original selections, don’t be easily swayed from them.

SUMMARY

Winning any handicapping tournament is not easy.  Chances are you need to follow the advice presented herein and then proceed to have a really good day on top of that.  In many big contests, you also may need to catch a few breaks, e.g. winning a photo, surviving an inquiry, etc.  Winning is not easy, but if you lay the proper foundation, you enhance your chances greatly.  Best of luck!

 

Rich Nilsen handicapperRich Nilsen is the founder of A Game of Skill.  He is a 15-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) and a winner of 8 major handicapping tournaments.  He is currently ranked 6th on the new NHC Lifetime Player Rankings system.

Rich will be on the panel discussing handicapping tournaments at the Equestricon Conference in Louisville, KY.

 

Breeders’ Cup 2018: The Other 5 Races on Saturday

Stars Aplenty Expected for Remainder of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Card

While the Classic, Distaff, Mile and Turf will rightfully garner the majority of the Saturday headlines, the other five Breeders’ Cup races will be filled the very best equine talent, with several championships lying in the balance.

The Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 3/8 miles, is expected to be led by Peter Brant’s divisional leader SISTERCHARLIE (IRE), who qualified for the race when she won Arlington Park’s “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. (GI) August 11 for trainer Chad Brown, who could also start FOURSTAR CROOK and SANTA MONICA (GB). Sunderland Holdings’ SEA OF CLASS (IRE) won the “Win and You’re In” Darley Yorkshire Oaks (GI) August 23 at York to gain an entry for trainer William Haggas and rates the best of a European contingent that could also include EZIYRA (IRE), MAGIC WAND (IRE) and WILD ILLUSION (GB).

Breeders' Cup Trophy, Churchill Downs

copyright All Star Press.com

The one-turn Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is shaping up as a tremendous race, as Hronis Racing’s CATALINA CRUISER, who earned a berth into the race when he won Del Mar’s “Win and You’re In” Pat O’Brien (GII) August 25 for trainer John Sadler and has won his four career starts by 18 ½ lengths, rates as one of the most talented horses in training. Waiting in the wings is multiple Grade I winner CITY OF LIGHT and the undefeated ARMY MULE, on the comeback trail after suffering a minor injury shortly after winning Aqueduct’s Carter (GI) by 6 ¼ lengths April 7. Defending Dirt Mile winner BATTLE OF MIDWAY made his return from retirement and was second in the Pat O’Brien and is also pointing to the race.

The six-furlong TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint is expected to be led by Ray Mamone’s IMPERIAL HINT, who aired in Saratoga’s Alfred Vanderbilt (GI) July 28 for trainer Luis Carvajal, while LIMOUSINE LIBERAL and RANSOM THE MOON qualified for the race with wins in this summer’s “Win and You’re In” Belmont Sprint Championship (GII) and “Win and You’re In” Del Mar’s Bing Crosby (GI), respectively. Defending Sprint winner ROY H is also expected, as are Grade I winners PROMISES FULFILLED and WHITMORE and multiple graded stakes winner X Y JET.

The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, run at seven furlongs, looks to have a solid favorite in Cicero Farm’s MARLEY’S FREEDOM, who earned a berth into the race with her win in Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Ballerina (GI) August 25 for trainer Bob Baffert. STORMY EMBRACE earned a berth into the race in the “Win and You’re In” Princess Rooney (GII) in June, while multiple graded stakes winners AMERICAN GAL, FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM, LEWIS BAY and MIA MISCHIEF are also pointing to the race.

The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, run at five furlongs, is expected to draw a deep field, with Patricia Generazio’s homebred DISCO PARTNER, who qualified for the race when he won Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Jaipur (GII) in June for trainer Christophe Clement, looking to better his third-place run in last year’s renewal at Del Mar. Defending champion STORMY LIBERAL headlines the rest of an American contingent that could also include BELVOIR BAY (GB), BUCCHERO, LADY ALEXANDRA, PURE SENSATION, and VISION PERFECT, while the Europeans could send BLUE POINT (IRE), CORINTHIAN KNIGHT (IRE), EL ASTRONAUTE (IRE).

Source: Breeders’ Cup