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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Here are my most recent posts

Breeders’ Cup Classic Defending Champ Arrogate Draws One Post

Arrogate BC 2016 winners circle

Arrogate Breeders’ Cup Classic 2016 winners circle

Arrogate will break from the rail in a bid for a second straight Breeders’ Cup Classic victory on Saturday at Del Mar, where the draws for the flat racing extravaganza were made on Monday. Trainer Bob Baffert admitted the number one slot wouldn’t have been his first choice, but jockey Mike Smith said Arrogate had broken… [Read more…]

Tampa Bay Downs to Offer Most Lucrative Stakes Program in Their History

Press Release

Tampa Bay Downs will conduct the most lucrative stakes program in its 92-year history during the 2017-2018 Thoroughbred racing season, offering a record 28 stakes races worth a combined $3.65-million.

Additional purse and bonus monies for seven stakes – including the Grade II, (now)-$400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds on March 10 – are being made available through Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association’s (FTBOA) stakes funding and sponsorships by the FTBOA’s Florida Sire Stakes program.

The lineup features a $50,000 increase in the total purse for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, won last season by subsequent Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRABets winner Tapwrit. The Festival Day card will consist of five stakes races worth a cool aggregate of $1-million, a Tampa Bay Downs single-day first.

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

The stakes schedule, announced by Tampa Bay Downs Vice President-General Manager Peter Berube, includes three graded stakes apiece on both the March 10 Festival Day program and the Feb. 10 Festival Preview Day presented by Lambholm South card, which is highlighted by the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes.

The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and the Sam F. Davis Stakes, both contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track, are part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, which awards points to the top four finishers in major races to help determine eligibility for the Run for the Roses on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby has produced the winners of three Triple Crown races. In addition to Tapwrit, Street Sense won both the Tampa Bay Derby and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands in 2007, while Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby.

“Not only are we offering more stakes than ever, with more available purse money, our schedule include races for all ages and types of horses on both dirt and turf,” Berube said. “We are proud of our record of attracting horses capable of winning at the highest level of the sport and pleased to offer our fans such a high quality of racing.

“A lot of credit goes to our track maintenance staff, headed by (Vice President of Facilities and Track Surfaces) Tom McLaughlin,” Berube said. “Year after year, many of the top trainers who send horses here, as well as our locally-based trainers, have expressed their satisfaction at the consistency of our deep, sand-based main surface and the immaculate condition of the turf course and their desire to compete at Tampa Bay Downs.

“We also strive to position our stakes races on the calendar to give horsemen the best opportunity to prepare for other major races across the country, which creates a ‘win-win’ scenario for them and for our fans who love seeing the big horses in their backyard,” Berube added.

Joining the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on the March 10 Festival Day card are the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-an-eighth on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course and the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, also on the turf.

The purse for the Hillsborough, won in 2016 by the subsequent Eclipse Award Champion Grass Mare, Tepin, has been increased from $200,000. The track’s Festival Day program also includes the $100,000 Challenger Stakes and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes, the latter on the turf, rounding out the million-dollar stakes cornucopia.

As mentioned, the Feb. 10 Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card is led by the Sam F. Davis Stakes, which serves as the traditional prep race for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and has produced numerous Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands starters.

Also part of Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South are the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward and the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. Both races feature purse increases of $25,000 and will be contested at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf.

The lone non-graded stakes on the Feb. 10 card is the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, which features a $50,000 purse boost and has been added to the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points series.

Churchill Downs added the Suncoast to the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” roster soon after Elate (the runner-up to Tapa Tapa Tapa in last season’s Suncoast) won the Grade I Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in August. Elate’s Alabama triumph marked the third consecutive year a Suncoast participant went on to win a Grade I event, joining 2015 Suncoast winner Include Betty and 2016 winner Weep No More.

A quartet of first-year stakes funded by the FTBOA will provide an additional $450,000 in purses for eligible Florida-bred horses. On Dec. 16, Tampa Bay Downs will play host to the $125,000 FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $125,000 FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, both at a distance of seven furlongs on the main track.

Then, on May 5, as part of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands festivities at Tampa Bay Downs, two stakes will be contested: the $100,000 FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $100,000 FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Both races will be contested at a mile-and-40-yards on the main track.

The Dec. 16 program is the track’s annual Cotillion Festival Day, which includes the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, both at a distance of six furlongs.

Cotillion Festival Day is a natural lead-in to the track’s Skyway Festival Day program on Jan. 20, featuring the $125,000 Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds and the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, both at a distance of seven furlongs on the main track. Both the Pasco and the Gasparilla enjoy $25,000 purse increases.

The 16th edition of the track’s Florida Cup, featuring six races worth $100,000 apiece for Florida-bred horses, will be contested Sunday, March 25. The Florida Cup, which has seen such recent winners as multiple Grade I-winning star World Approval, offers three main track races and three turf races for males and females.

All told, the 2017-2018 stakes schedule features eight multi-stakes programs.

Tampa Bay Downs will open its barn area on Monday, Oct. 30, with training to commence on Nov. 6. The 2017-2018 season, which officially began July 1, is set to resume on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien Sets Record Group 1 Wins

Ascot racecourse in UKTrainer Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to be popping the corks on the champagne this evening unlike the late Bobby Frankel his predecessor as holder of the world record for Group One winners in a season. Instead the 48-year-old Irishman — who broke the record with Saxon Warrior at Doncaster on Saturday – is more likely to have… [Read more…]

Breeders’ Cup Offering New Ways for Fans to Connect

Just because Breeders’ Cup fans may be following this year’s event from home doesn’t mean they won’t have the opportunity to plant themselves in the thick of this year’s event.

Source: Breeders’ Cup Offering New Ways for Fans to Connect

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Vegas Odds

Direct from our friends at the Wynn Las Vegas race book, the best in Nevada.  Odds as of Oct. 25 for next weekend’s race at Del Mar.

ARROGATE 2/1 2/1
COLLECTED 125/1 3/1
CUPID 65/1 25/1
DESTIN 40/1 40/1
DONWORTH 85/1 100/1
DORTMUND 30/1 40/1
GUN RUNNER 18/1 13/10
GUNNEVERA 100/1 15/1
KEEN ICE 35/1 10/1
MUBTAAHIJ 35/1 15/1
SHAMAN GHOST 16/1 25/1
WEST COAST 40/1 7/1

Gulfstream Park Rainbow Six Surpasses $100,000

Press Release

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot for Wednesday’s program (10/25/17) at Gulfstream Park West swelled to $100,250.35 Sunday when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 16th consecutive program.

Gulfstream Park paddockMultiple tickets with six winners Sunday returned $9,834.

The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

There will also be a Super Hi-5 carryover of $9,211.20 heading into Wednesday’s program.

The Wider World of Horse Racing’s Jim McKay: Celebrating His Life and His Work

This weekend is the Jim McKay Maryland Million card from Laurel Park.  Let’s look back at his amazing career life.

The late sportscaster Jim McKay, and his grandson, James Fontelieu, are shown attending the 1997 Kentucky Derby . McKay’s contributions to equine journalism and Maryland racing will be honored next month at Harford Community College. (Courtesy the …

Source: The Wider World of Jim McKay: Celebrating His Life and His Work

A Score of a Lifetime from $80 Pick-6 Ticket

Press Release

Purchased for just $80 at Northville Downs in Northville, Mich., there was one winning ticket in today’s Single Ticket Pick 6 Jackpot, and it resulted in a potentially life-changing payout of $549,864 Sunday at Santa Anita.

With a Single Ticket Jackpot carryover coming into Sunday of $368,281, there was $279,915 in “new money” bet into today’s popular $2 minimum wager, resulting in a total Pick 6 pool of $648,196.

In addition to the Jackpot payout of $549,864, there were 60 consolation tickets with five winners, each worth $534.

Santa Anita apron

copyright AGameofSkill.com

With Corey Nakatani off all of his mounts today, Jamie Theriot picked up Irish-bred Pantsonfire for trainer Richard Baltas in the ninth and final race, a one mile turf affair for maiden special weight fillies and mares three and up.

Off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 11, Theriot took hold of his mount in the run to the clubhouse turn, began to patiently weave his way through traffic around the far turn and was full of run through the stretch drive, winning by 1 ¾ lengths over second choice No Cats Allowed with Tyler Baze.

In what was her seventh career start, Pantsonfire, who is owned by Starry Night Racing, Jeremy Peskoff, Mark Silverstein and Jeff Ward’s Next Wave Racing, paid $6.80 to win and banked $30,000.

Sunday’s Pick 6, which began with race four, was won by 7-2 shot Van Cortlandt ($9.80); the fifth race, the $70,000 Speakeasy, went to Beautiful Shot, who upset 1-5 favorite Mourinho and paid $10.00; the sixth went to 9-5 favorite Skelton Pass ($5.60); the seventh was won by Fast Pass, who at 13-1, paid $29.00 and race eight was taken by 9-5 favorite Roman Tizzy, who paid $5.60.

Racing resumes on Thursday at Santa Anita, with first post time at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. For additional racing information, please visit santaanita.com.

Great Horse Racing Videos – RIP Champion Distaffer Inside Information

Champion distaffer Inside Information passed away this week.  She holds the record for the largest margin of victory ever in a Breeders’ Cup race, 13 1/2 lengths.  Let’s take a look back at her devastating win in the 1995 Distaff over the likes of Serena’s Song, Mariah’s Storm and stablemate star Heavenly Prize!

YouTube:  Seconds after Inside Information scored the most decisive victory in Breeders’ Cup history, the sun appeared for the first time Saturday.

Apparently, even the heavens were impressed with the 4-year-old filly’s 13 1/2-length destruction of her nine rivals in the Distaff.

Called by some in the days leading up to the Breeders’ Cup the most competitive of the seven events, the Distaff instead turned into a showcase for Inside Information, trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Dinny Phipps.

In addition to watching the daughter of Private Account shatter Princess Rooney’s record (seven lengths) for easiest Breeders’ Cup victory, McGaughey and Phipps saw her entrymate, Heavenly Prize, rally from far back to get second, more than two lengths in front of Lakeway.

Proven already over off tracks, Inside Information moved to a new level Saturday in what was her final start, and in so doing, wrapped up the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top older filly or mare. The entry paid $3.60 as the 4-5 choice.

Her final time over a surface labeled good was 1:46, the fastest for the Distaff since the distance was shortened from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8 miles in 1988. The victory was her seventh in eight starts this year and 14th in 17 lifetime.

“If that wasn’t an Eclipse Award performance, I don’t know what is,” jockey Mike Smith said after the first of his two Breeders’ Cup victories Saturday.

Laurel Park Handle Continues to Climb

For the third consecutive year and eighth consecutive meet, Laurel Park registered an increase in average daily handle during its recently-completed summer meet.

Source: Laurel Park Handle Continues to Climb