Monster horse. Monster price.

How I got 31-1 on star Mendelssohn

By Art Parker

As of today there is only one question remaining in my mind.

Before the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Mendelssohn caught my eye. His pedigree is very impressive. Putting the late Scat Daddy with Leslie’s Lady was a very good idea. As a broodmare, Leslie’s Lady has delivered three Grade One winners counting Mendelssohn. Leslie’s Lady gave us the great champion Beholder, which is enough for any broodmare’s resume. Mendelssohn was sold at Keeneland for the monster price of $3 million, the most expensive yearling in North America in 2016. Before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year I was anxious to see if the colt could live up to his pedigree and auction price. He did. After the race I was convinced that he would improve greatly with experience.

Mendelssohn’s Breeders’ Cup triumph was on the grass but I saw no reason why he could not be effective on the main track. I couldn’t resist the 31-1 offering in the November Kentucky Derby future pool. I told myself that he is surely better than that monster price, even on the dirt. I was happy to take those odds realizing that I could have a losing ticket if he failed to make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Mendelsohhn by Gary TasichI was even happier with my Derby longshot when Mendelssohn embarrassed and obliterated the field in the UAE Derby a few weeks ago. The colt (I presume he was named for the famous German composer, Felix Mendelssohn) covered the 1 3/16th mile distance in track record time at Meydan in 1:55.18 and did it with incredible ease. He won the UAE Derby by more than 18 lengths. It was truly a monster effort.

In the big race for older horses a couple of hours later, Thunder Snow won the Dubai World Cup traveling 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.38. When comparing the sophomore Mendelssohn to his elders in the World Cup his time is very impressive, especially since he could have stopped the clock earlier if he pushed the issue.

Mendelssohn has won three straight races on three different continents and all on a different surface. He is conditioned by one of the finest trainers in the world, Aidan O’Brien.

I like Mendelssohn even though the game will get tougher for him in Louisville. He will meet some very good horses, including the probable Derby favorite, Bob Baffert’s Justify, another son of Scat Daddy.

As of today there is only one question remaining in my mind. Will Mendelssohn ship well? I know he has shown that traveling doesn’t affect his performance. But he has logged a lot of miles for a very young horse, and the trip to the states after going to Dubai may be too much. We will not know about the travel until his trip in the Derby is completed.

I think Mendelssohn is the real deal, potentially a monster horse, and I really like my monster price of 31-1.

A Look at Jockey Jose Vargas, Jr.

‘I want to do that.’ It looked like fun.”

Seeing some of his jockey school classmates already having made an impact on the American racing scene, Jorge A.

jockey riding a horse race

Vargas Jr. is doing what he can to make a mark of his own.

Vargas, 23, leads Laurel Park’s current winter-spring meet standings with 35 wins and $1,158,229 in purse earnings from 160 starters. With 30 seconds and 29 thirds, his top-three strike rate of 59 percent is also a meet best. [Note he has since padded these stats]

On March 5, Vargas won four races at Laurel, one of nine multiple-win days he has enjoyed since making Maryland his primary home at the start of 2018.

A native of Puerto Rico, Vargas attended the country’s famed Escuela Vocacional Hipica, a riding academy that has produced Hall of Famer John Velazquez and brothers Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz among others.

Also in Vargas’ class were Victor Carrasco, the Maryland-based Eclipse Award-winning apprentice of 2013, and Jevian Toledo, the state’s overall leading rider in 2015 and 2017 and second in 2016. So, too, was Manny Franco, the leading rider in New York this winter.

“It was a pretty good class,” Vargas said.

Vargas was raised around the racetrack, the son and grandson of trainers. He first got on horses at age 11 or 12 and it wasn’t long before he knew he wanted to make riding horses his living. “My dad and my grandpa [Salvatore Vargas] were trainers in Puerto Rico, so it was always in the family,” Vargas said. “Going to the barns every day with my dad, he’d be doing something and when he wasn’t looking I’d jump on a horse.

“I grew up seeing my dad and watching him training and when I saw the jockeys I thought, ‘That’s something different.’ Growing up I was a groom and I learned all that, but I looked at the jockeys and said, ‘I want to do that.’ It looked like fun.”

After winning a dozen races in Puerto Rico, Vargas made his way to the U.S., where his first mount was also his first winner, Randy Allen-trained Caymus Girl on March 17, 2013, at Parx. Other than brief stints in New York and California, the latter in the summer of 2014, he remained a mainstay at Parx and Penn National.

Vargas had been considering a move to Maryland before the jockey colony was depleted by injuries to such top riders as Carrasco, Toledo, Trevor McCarthy and Horacio Karamanos. While Carrasco remains on the comeback trail from a broken leg suffered last fall at Delaware Park, Toledo returned March 9 and Karamanos followed a week later.

McCarthy, Maryland’s two-time overall riding champion, returned in January but moved his tack to New York. Vargas contacted McCarthy’s former agent, Scott Silver, and the two have forged a successful partnership. Silver also represents Maryland’s Irish jockey Feargal Lynch.

“There was an opening with Scotty and we got together and he offered me the chance. He said he had plenty of business in Maryland and he told me I had the talent so I took a shot. We’re doing good so far, thank God. I’m very thankful,” Vargas said. “So far, he’s done amazing. He’s an awesome person, very professional. I can’t ask for anything more.”

Vargas has enjoyed success riding for Kieron Magee, Maryland’s leading trainer from 2014 to 2016, who shared meet titles at Laurel winter-spring and the Preakness Meet at Pimlico in 2017.

On Dec. 9 at Laurel, Vargas won three races, two of them for Magee, including the Howard M. Bender Memorial aboard Struth. The same day he captured the Willa On the Move with Ms. Locust Point, who he would later ride to victory in last month’s G2 Barbara Fritchie.

Vargas’ other Graded-stakes win came in the 2017 G3 American St. Leger at Arlington Park aboard Postulation.

“I used to use him [Vargas] over at Parx quite a bit. I had a rider supposed to come in from out of town to ride a few horses for me before Christmas and he no-showed, and Jorge was here that day,” Magee said. “I called his agent and they rode all four and won two, one being a stake. Then he called me asked me what did I think and I said, ‘Come here and you can ride the barn.’

“He’s just a nice, nice kid. Look at the smile on his face. He comes by the barn and he’s fun to have around. He’s strong, too. You watch him come up beside somebody through the lane and they’re screwed because he just outrides them. I’m thrilled to have him here. It’s always good to start off on a roll, and what a way to start. Hopefully he can finish this thing off. He’s got some good out-of-town barns that come in here and use him, too.”

With the winter-spring meet running through May 6, Vargas hasn’t given much thought to the riding title. Apprentice Wes Hamilton, youngest son of Maryland’s Steve ‘Cowboy’ Hamilton, has won five of his last ten starts, including a four-win day March 17, to climb into second place in the standings with 26 wins.

“I’m just going for the moment,” Vargas said. “We all have some goals, but we’re just riding for the moment and wherever it takes you, it takes you. Just enjoy it.”

Kentucky Derby or 2000 Guineas: Which Classic Will Ryan Moore Ride in Come May 5?

“The Kentucky Derby is a race on my bucket list, but we’ll have to see what’s best to do closer to the time.”

If you’re a horse racing fan and haven’t already circled May 5 as a date in your diary, then here’s a brief and gentle reminder why you should.

On one side of the Atlantic, the first Classic of the British and Irish flat season takes place at Newmarket, with the 2000 Guineas centre stage. In the Bluegrass State, meanwhile, Churchill Downs hosts the Kentucky Derby – the culmination of a two-week racing festival in Louisville.

Ryan Moore by Ogiyoshisan

The all-conquering stable of master Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore owners take aim at valuable and prestigious races all over the world these days. For evidence of that, see Mendelssohn’s 18-lengths-plus romp in the UAE Derby as the colt left the field in his wake on the dirt under Ryan Moore at Meydan.

Such globetrotting exploits – Mendelssohn also landed the Juvenile Turf race at the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar on his previous start and final one of last season – present connections with a problem. A nice one to have to be sure, but Moore cannot ride both the ante-post Kentucky Derby fancy and either Saxon Warrior or Gustav Klimt in the 2000 Guineas.

What would you do? Well, current odds suggests Moore will be getting the leg up Stateside rather than riding at Newmarket. He’s odds-on with leading British and Irish bookmakers for Churchill Downs.

A big factor behind that short price are words from the jockey himself. Speaking after Mendelssohn bolted up in the United Arab Emirates, Moore said: “The Kentucky Derby is a race on my bucket list, but we’ll have to see what’s best to do closer to the time.”

Given Mendelssohn is clear 5/1 favorite in the latest horse racing betting with bet365 on the Kentucky Derby, it might well be the perfect opportunity to tick that ambition off. Connections certainly appear willing to go to the USA.

Having ridden two of the last three 2000 Guineas winners in Gleneagles and Churchill, Moore could be forgiven for letting someone else have a go. In the meantime, American horse racing fans will get to see him riding across Kentucky at Lexington track Keeneland.

Derby 2017 by LunchboxLarry

Moore piloted the Todd Pletcher trained colt Marconi in the Blue Grass Stakes – a recognized Kentucky Derby trial – on April 7. Pletcher called in a favor from Coolmore as that day also contained big races throughout the USA, notably in New York and California. [Moore’s mount finished off the board].

Taking this ride Stateside just a few weeks before the Kentucky Derby may be the biggest hint yet that Moore will be there on May 5 aboard Mendelssohn. Pletcher was keen to downplay the significance of booking the jockey, though, adding it had been arranged before the big Meydan win.

Although trainer and rider team up with Marconi at Keeneland, they could be competing against one another come the Kentucky Derby if Moore is on Medelssohn. Pletcher has a number of contenders for this year’s renewal of the richest Group 1 prize in the United States including market principal Audible.

And what of the 2000 Guineas hopes? Well, in Moore’s stead O’Brien can always call upon son Donnacha or Seamie Heffernan to ride Newmarket Classic contenders Saxon Warrior and Gustav Klimt.

Why Horses are Big Business in Qatar

MUSIR winning in Dubai. Copyright Andrew Watkins

Horse Racing is Growing in Qatar

CNN Full coverage

Source: Why horses are big business in Qatar

Medaglia d’Oro holds solid Kentucky Derby cards

Handicapper Art ParkerBy ART PARKER

His greatest runners have been fillies. Names such as Songbird, Rachel Alexandra and last year’s Alabama winner Elate. The successful sire, Medaglia d’Oro, has two of the current Kentucky Derby favorites and their prospects look good.

Bolt D’Oro leads most Kentucky Derby polls as the top three year old in the nation. He is a true blue blood coming from a dam by the great A.P. Indy. You put the dam side along with his sire, which is El Prado, and you have the makings of a classic champion. The most impressive part of his sire line contains names such as Sadler’s Wells and Northern Dancer. One thing about Bolt d’Oro – distance should be no problem.

Bolt d’Oro won the San Felipe Stakes, the biggest three year old race on the west coast prior to the Santa Anita Derby. It is important to note that Bolt d’Oro didn’t make it to the finish line first, that honor belonged to McKinzie, a Bob Baffert trainee that many considered to be the top Derby prospect in the nation. Bolt d’Oro won with a controversial disqualification. If he and McKinzie both return in the Santa Anita Derby the issue of superiority should be resolved, at least until the first Saturday in May.

As of now Bolt d’Oro is atop the Derby list and his pedigree makes him a genuine classic distance horse.

copyright DarbyAmerica

On the east coast another son of Medaglia d’Oro captured a Kentucky Derby prep the same day Bolt d’Oro was victorious in California. Enticed, a colt with the cool one word name, romped in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Enticed left the impression that he was a plodder and had to be encouraged to go. When he did get down to business in the Aqueduct stretch, he turned the Gotham into an easy win.

Enticed has strong ties to A.P. Indy on the dam side since his broodmare sire is former Horse of the Year Mineshaft. His dam was no slouch either. It’s Tricky defeated two-time Champion Royal Delta and Oaks winner Plum Pretty in the Grade 1 Coaching Club of America Oaks over 9 furlongs.

Medaglia d’Oro has been a great sire and he was also a great runner. His record from 17 starts is 8-7-0. He won The Travers Stakes and The Whitney at Saratoga as well as the Strub Stakes, the Oaklawn Handicap and the Donn Handicap. He finished second in the Pacific Classic and the Belmont Stakes and twice finished in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup.

Medaglia d’Oro currently has a lofty stud fee $250,000.

Now 19 years old, Medaglia d’Oro only needs a winner on the first Saturday in May in Louisville to round out a great stud career. In 2018 he looks to be at the Derby poker table holding some strong cards. His popularity as a prospective Derby winning sire was displayed in the November future sire pool when he was heavily bet to 5-1.

Interview with Garett Skiba, Elite Contest Player and OptixEQ User

Meet Garett Skiba, an elite handicapper and contest player with the most six-figure cashes in handicapping contests over the last two-plus years. He most recently took home third place in the 2018 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) tournament in Las Vegas, netting $125,000. We asked him to discuss OptixEQ and how he incorporates its products into his own handicapping process. 

 

Optix (O): When did you first start following horseracing? And what is your proudest achievement as a horseplayer?

Garett Skiba (GS): I started playing the races with my dad, going to simulcasting outlets at Balmoral Park and to live racing at Sportsman’s Park and Hawthorne. As a horseplayer, my proudest achievement is having won more than $650,000 in contests.

 

O: What kind of player are you and how often do you play? For example, do you follow just one circuit? Do you just play tournaments, etc.?

GS: I will focus primarily on Kentucky Downs, Belmont, Saratoga, Keeneland, and Gulfstream. I will typically play intensively one to two days a week, and then, for three or four days a week, I will look for spot plays.

 

O: What kind of handicapper are you, and which types of bets favor your style?

GS: Historically, I have been a handicapper who has looked for hot pace scenarios that would favor horses with perceived “weak form” who would benefit from a pace collapse. Optix has been a valuable tool in broadening my approach to the overall pace picture.

 

O: How long have you been using OptixEQ and what brought you to try our handicapping platform?

GS: I have been on Optix for about two years. My interest was brought on by a willingness to try new products and always tweaking my style/approach in order to better understand the game. 

 

O: Describe how OptixEQ has enhanced (or added to) your game?

GS: As mentioned previously, the product has improved my understanding of the pace picture. Additionally, OptixNOTES have been a fantastic way to explain away poor races by horses who are being overlooked on the board.

 

O: Over the past two years, OptixEQ users have been finishing very well in tournaments. What advice do you have for users who are new to the platform?

GS: I would highly recommend learning about all aspects of Optix and also take the time to review historical races. I wouldn’t recommend playing either OptixPLOT or OptixNOTES alone, but rather use them as tools to support/contract your entire picture/opinion of the race. It is not meant to be a prediction engine!

 

O: What would you like to see integrated into the platform to further enhance the product?

GS: Personally, I would like more control as it relates to the pace lines driving the OptixPLOT, or at the very least, visibility as to which line is driving what we are seeing.

Queen Elizabeth II has over $9 million in Earnings from Her Horse Racing side hustle

source: Ascot

Queen Elizabeth II Loves Her Horses

According to the site’s report, the Queen has claimed 452 wins out of 2,834 races, about 16 percent. Her best year was 2016, when her earnings totaled $775,325. One of her most significant wins came in 2013, when her horse Estimate won the Gold Cup at Ascot. It was the first time a reigning monarch had won the race.

CNBC Full coverage Source: Queen Elizabeth II has made an amazing $9 million from her side hustle

The Making of Horse Racing Conference Equestricon II

Tampa Paddock

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

The Making of Equestricon II

Although he actual trade show will take place on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the championships, Equestricon will have a week-long presence and involvement with the Breeders’ Cup, Sharp noted.

“That’s the kind of energy and excitement we’re hoping to build for Breeders’ Cup week, trying to get fans who are traveling to the Breeders’ Cup to come in early and get to experience Louisville and make a whole week’s vacation out of it.”

Source: The Making of Equestricon II

Brazilian Jockey Scores World Record Win 12,844

jockey riding a horse raceJorge Ricardo Nabs World Record for Rider Wins

For years, Brazilian jockey Jorge Ricardo battled for one of the least heard-of, yet toughest titles in sport — most horse races won — and on Monday he got there with a 12,844th victory. The win in the rain at Rio de Janeiro’s Hipodromo race track equalled the extraordinary world record held by Ricardo’s career-long Canadian… [Read more…]

Industry Profile: Jockey Antonio Gallardo

Two seasons ago, Antonio Gallardo rode a 3-year-old first-time starter named Imperial Hint to an eye-opening victory in a 7-furlong Tampa Bay Downs allowance in a sizzling time of 1:22.39. The Luis Carvajal, Jr.-trained Florida-bred colt lowered that time to 1:22.15 in his next start with Gallardo in the irons, the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes.

“That is the dream of every jockey every year, to have a nice horse like that,” said Gallardo, who watched Imperial Hint race to a second-place finish in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint last month under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano. “In this game, you stay positive because you can find a good horse anywhere.”

The 30-year-old Spaniard, whose meteoric rise upon moving to the United States resulted in three consecutive riding titles at both Tampa Bay Downs and Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., has shown a knack for winning all kinds of races, including five graded stakes the last two years.

But while Gallardo’s quest to secure another “big horse” continues at full speed, he’s a devoted family man who strives for the right balance between his professional and personal lives.

Gallardo’s early-meeting Oldsmar performance, with 17 victories, has earned him the SenÞor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month Award.

When the 2017 season at Presque Isle Downs in western Pennsylvania ended in early October, Gallardo, his wife Polliana and their two children, Carlos, 9, and Christa, almost 4, traveled to his hometown of Jerez in Cadiz, Spain for about a month to visit his relatives.

Gallardo’s ambition to be known as one of the world’s best jockeys hasn’t changed. But the pull of home, both in Spain and Tampa, helps charge his batteries to succeed on the track.

“That (traveling to Spain) helped me a lot. My family is real close, and I was able to have fun with them and forget about the horses for a while,” said Gallardo, who got to visit his parents, his sister, his grandmother and other relatives. “If one of us is crying, everybody is crying, and if one of us is happy, everybody is happy.

“It was good for me mentally and good for my muscles and my bones. If I have a chance to go next year, I’m going again,” he added.

After riding in New York last season, where he finished seventh in the 2017 winter meeting standings at Aqueduct with 19 victories, Gallardo has returned to his home away from Spain on Florida’s west coast.

Gallardo, who finished second in North America in victories in both 2015 and 2016, riding 652 winners during that two-year period, recently bought a home on a farm a few miles from Tampa Bay Downs. The property includes a seven-stall barn, several paddocks and a riding arena.

Gallardo said the reasons he has returned to Tampa Bay Downs are “simple. It’s my home, my family is here and the weather is good. I was making more money in New York, but I wasn’t as happy.

“As a jockey, you risk your life every day. Yes, you have to make money, but you have to have fun and enjoy your family. Money comes and goes, but when time leaves, it never comes back to you.”

Gallardo finished third in the Monmouth Park standings this year with 50 victories. On Dec. 16, he won the inaugural $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on 3-year-old gelding Mo Cash with a bold move between rivals on the turn.

Among his five graded-stakes victories is the 2016 Grade II Nashua at Aqueduct on Hemsworth. He also won the $400,000 (ungraded) Poseidon Handicap last winter at Gulfstream on Imperative on the Pegasus World Cup Invitational card and finished fifth on War Story in the $12-million Pegasus.

It appears Gallardo’s next major assignment is a matter of “when,” not “if.” Whoever it happens to be with, the connections can rest assured their jockey will know the way home.

 

Source: Press Release