Met Mile and Belmont Stakes Notes

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Zedan Racing Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Taiba will skip Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, at Belmont Park.

Taiba worked seven-furlongs in 1:27.40 Friday at Santa Anita in what was to be his final prep for the one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and up which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at the Arcadia, California oval. He has not raced since an eighth-place effort in the Group 1 Saudi Cup on February 25 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

“His works have been good, but not like I’d like to see them. I just don’t think he’s ready for something like that yet,” said Baffert, who won the 2017 Metropolitan with Mor Spirit. “I’m going to wait and run him at Del Mar. He’s doing well, but not well enough for the Met Mile. To run in the Met Mile, you have to bring your ‘A’ game and I don’t think he’s quite there yet.”

The 4-year-old Gun Runner colt’s trio of Grade 1 scores came in the Santa Anita Derby last April, the Pennsylvania Derby in September at Parx and the Malibu in December at Santa Anita.

National Treasure Works for Belmont Stakes

SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Grade 1 Preakness-winner National Treasure is slated to breeze Monday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

The Quality Road sophomore added blinkers and made all the running in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on May 20 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez up, outdueling Blazing Sevens for a narrow head score with Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Mage settling for third.

Baffert said he is hopeful that National Treasure will appreciate the added ground in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”

“You never know until they do it,” Baffert said. “He handled the Preakness distance and it wasn’t a problem for him. We’re all in the same boat. None of them probably want to go that far, but if they don’t go too fast, they can do it.

“I just want him to show up like he did at Pimlico,” added Baffert. “He’s never really run a bad race. All his races have been competitive. He’s a pretty consistent horse. He’s happy and he’ll breeze tomorrow and hopefully everything goes well.”

Baffert, who previously won the Belmont Stakes with Point Given [2001] and Triple Crown-winners American Pharoah [2015] and Justify [2018], will be in attendance Saturday for the final leg of the Triple Crown.

National Treasure graduated at first asking in September at Del Mar and hit the board in a trio of stakes in the Grade 1 American Pharoah [2nd] in October at Santa Anita, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile [3rd] in November at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Sham [3rd] in January at Santa Anita. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April ahead of his Preakness coup.

Zedan Racing Stables’ graded-stakes placed Arabian Lion rolled to a frontrunning four-length score last out under Velazquez in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard.

While initially under consideration for the Belmont Stakes, Baffert decided to point the Justify chestnut to the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores.

“On the turnback, sometimes they run well. We’ll send him back to two turns again after that,” Baffert said.

Arabian Lion, who boasts a ledger of 6-2-2-0 for purse earnings of $217,600, entered the Sir Barton from a pacesetting runner-up effort to First Mission in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Lexington on April 15 at Keeneland.

Undercard of Belmont Stakes 2023

Baffert will also enter multiple graded-stakes placed Fort Bragg in the Woody Stephens. The Tapit colt, who was third in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity in December, finished second last out in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile a neck back of returning rival General Jim on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

“He’s still improving and filling out,” Baffert said. “He’s maturing and there’s a lot of room to improve.”

Baffert previously won the Woody Stephens with Bayern [2014] and American Anthem [2017].

The Belmont Stakes headlines the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that features a total of 16 stakes events from Thursday, June 8 through Saturday, June 10. For additional information on the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and details on hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit


Preakness Stakes Analysis with Wagering Strategies

by Rich Nilsen

Pace analysis: There is not a lot of speed in this year’s running of the Preakness Stakes.  Longshot Coffeewithchris will likely insist on the early lead, as National Treasure and John Velasquez sit in close pursuit, ready to pounce.  There should be a gap of a couple of lengths to Mage running in the third spot.

Top Selection: # 1 NATIONAL TREASURE (4/1) – comes off a troubled trip when a respectable 4th in the G1 Santa Anita Derby and now makes his first start back for Bob Baffert, who has won this race no less than seven times.  The son of Quality Road dons new blinkers for today’s race and he’s been training up a storm in preparation for a race that he has been pointed to by the Hall of Fame trainer.  He should sit a perfect, forward-running trip in a race featuring a modest pace and prove the one to catch in the lane. John Velasquez, who has been riding great recently, is in search of his first Preakness win, one of the few races he lacks on his incredible resume.

2nd Selection: # 3 MAGE (8/5) – this colt has done absolutely nothing wrong in his career and I see no reason why he won’t run another bang-up race.  The Gustave Delago runner has won twice in his career, both times at double-digit odds, but he will likely be odds-on here.  A win would not be a surprise but I think the Baffert charge has just a good a chance and will offer more value.

3rd Selection: #6 PERFORM (15/1) – the Shug McGaughey runner is the value play in this field.  He overcame all sorts of traffic issues to storm home and win the Fedrico Tesio Stakes at Laurel last time out.  It’s interesting that Shug chose to run this horse instead of Pat Day Mile winner General Jim.  Perform is sitting on another strong effort.

Wagering Strategy: Play # 1 National Treasure to Win.  Exacta partwheel over 3, 6.  Smaller exacta 6-1.  Trifecta key #1 over 3, 6.

Get the Pace Scenarios for every race at Pimlico on Preakness Saturday.  Pace Makes the Race!

Who won the 2023 Kentucky Derby? Mage In His 4th Career Start

In an upset victory, Mage won the first leg of the Triple Crown at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening. The chestnut colt, who was considered an outsider at 15-1 odds, crossed the finish line ahead of Two Phil’s and Angel of Empire to claim the coveted prize. He was ridden by Javier Castellano, one of the top riders in the nation, who claimed his first win ever in the Run for the Roses…

The purse for the 2023 Kentucky Derby was $3 million, the highest purse of the Triple Crown races. $1.86 million of that amount, will be for the winning horse’s owner, Gustavo Delgado, while winning jockey Javier Castellano will take 10% of that amount, $186,000.

What happened to Kentucky Derby hero Rich Strike?

Rich Strike ran five more times after the Derby without a victory. After Dawson and Reed made the unconventional decision to skip the Preakness, saying the two-week break wasn’t enough time for Rich Strike to recover from a tough race in the Derby, he came back in then Belmont and was a well-beaten sixth.

After another 2 1/2-month break, Rich Strike wound up fourth to Epicenter in the Travers Stakes but made a good showing, finishing just a neck out of second. Back at Churchill Downs in early October, Rich Strike got nosed out by Hot Rod Charlie right at the wire in the Lukas Classic Stakes. Another solid effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic put Rich Strike in fourth place before he wrapped up his season with a disappointing last place finish in the Clark Stakes last Nov. 25…

Derek Simon’s Kentucky Derby Betting Guide for Derby 149

It’s back! The 2023 Kentucky Derby Guide from handicapping guru Derek Simon is the only guide of its kind for the greatest two minutes in sports!

Simon’s in-depth KY Derby report offers 24 pages of insightful information on the most exciting two minutes in sports, the 149th Kentucky Derby.  Just some of the content includes:

Simon’s Historical Investment Technique

The top four S.H.I.T. choices have won 21 of the last 30 renewals of America’s most famous race (70.0 percent), good for a profit of $16,290 for a $100 win bet on each qualified selection.  One horse stands out here and he will be a huge price on the first Saturday in May!

Final Fractions Theory

Derek expounds on the now popular Final Fractions Theory, which was conceived by Colonel Edward R. Bradley and popularized by Jennie Rees. Using more scientific, dynamic values for lengths, find out who the fastest finishers among the Derby entrants are.

Find out:

What trait do 78% of Kentucky Derby winners since 1967 share? What single factor has produced an ROI of 122.5% since 1997? Find out on page 6!

Discover the the workouts trend that has produced a 1-for-74 record in the Derby since 1997 from those that have led to huge profits. Find out on page 8!

Speed Ratings – An in-depth discussion of Brisnet speed figures and what they mean, with an emphasis on “the bounce.”  See the speed rating pattern that has produced zero Kentucky Derby winners (from 38 starters) since 1992. Observe the pattern that has produced a 54 percent ROI as well! Page 16 has the details!  And much more

Download instantly today and attack the Run for the Roses.  Only $25

Derek Simon’s 2023 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide is Here.  Download Today



Live horse racing returns to Kentucky Downs for 2022 season

Live racing returns this week to Kentucky Downs with the first of seven events scheduled for Thursday at the Franklin, Ky., facility. John Wholihan, director of Marketing at the Mint Gaming Hall and Kentucky Downs, said that live racing at the facility offers the biggest purse at any track in the area. ‘

The biggest attraction of the whole thing is the money. We are the highest average daily purse anywhere. We’re going to average more than $2 million a day in purses over each of those seven days,” Wholihan said. “The people who really like us are the horse owners, the people who own and train, they’re getting a chance for a good paycheck. Running in third place in our races can be like winning a race in some other locations. There are people who gear up for this meet. They want to take a shot because they know there’s big money.”

Wholihan said the Mint Gaming Hall’s intake of money helps to make the purse at Kentucky Downs so attractive. “The reason there’s big money is because of the Mint Gaming Hall, what happens in those pari mutuel machines, those historical horse racing games that people play every day,” Wholihan said. “That’s helping to feed the purse structure, and what we do. So we’ve really …

What Happens at a Horse Racing Track

Horse Racing Season Opens at Presque Isle Downs & CasinoNear the gate, a horse is spooked. It rears, so the jockey and groom back off. The horse turns and runs in the other direction. A pony horse and rider follow the galloping thoroughbred as it escapes. It makes it around one turn of the track before the escaping horse seems confused, turns, evades the pony horse, and runs more. Confusion again sets in for the horse. An owner and trainer walk onto the track, approaching slowly and cautiously. Their presence seemingly corrals the nervous horse long enough for the pony horse rider to grab onto the reins.

The horse is guided back to the starting gate, loaded into a stall, and within moments, the race begins. In less than two minutes, the horses are nearing the final stretch to the finish line. Along the patio, some 75 onlookers — maybe all gamblers, maybe just people who came to watch a race — call out to the horses: “C’mon” or “Let’s go” or some variation of those phrases. They call out to them by name.

Racehorses have odd names. Race horse owner and trainer Tim Girten has a horse in the third race named Serene Warrior (that horse will finish second in its race). Girten said sometimes horses are named by combining the names of its parents. The names also have to be to unique to be approved by the Jockey Club (the horse version of the American Kennel Club for dogs). Though Girten has owned and/or trained quite a few horses — he’s been a licensed racer since 1994 and he’s raced horses in more than 3,000 races — his horse Little Aladdin Rib quickly comes to mind as a standout. Girten claimed the horse for about $15,000, and when he retired the horse it had earned about $375,000.

“I was racing in Ohio at the time, and he was the Ohio Handicap Horse of the Year in 1996,” Girten said. “I’ve had quite a few stake horses.”

On a damp May 18 afternoon — a weekday — about 100 people were watching the first four races. It doesn’t matter if it’s damp. The staff say the horses run faster when it’s wet. A small handful of horses ran in each race. Each race lasted about 2 minutes. There are typically 27 or so minutes between races. And Presque Isle Downs has eight races each day that they race in the season. Meanwhile, races from all over the world are simulcast on TV screens inside so gamblers can keep the action going between each local race, placing bets on faraway races through the local establishment, or betting online…

KY Derby-winning trainer Eric Reed Discusses Rich Strike and pre-Belmont Stakes Work

KY Derby-winning trainer and longtime Kentucky horseman Eric Reed speaks about Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike after he works between races at Churchill Downs for the Belmont Stakes:

Eric Reed spoke with the media after his 80-1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike worked five-eighths of a mile between Churchill Downs’ fifth and sixth race on Memorial Day. He left Tuesday, May 31st for Belmont Park and New York’s Belmont Stakes contested on June 11th. The Kentucky Derby winner’s was timed in 59 seconds flat for the five-eighths (similar to his last work before the Derby) with splits of 11.80, 23.20, 34.80 and out in 1:12 flat under exercise rider Gabe Lagunes.

Video of Rich Strike’s work (5F in 59 seconds) between races at Churchill Downs for the Belmont Stakes.


Sconsin repeats in G3 Winning Colors, running 6F in 1:08.18 off eight-month layoff. We speak to trainer Greg Foley, jockey Tyler Gaffalione and Johnny Ortiz, trainer of gallant runner-up Joyful Cadence.



About the Kentucky HBPA

The Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is one of the country’s largest horsemen’s groups, representing about 6,000 owners and trainers at Kentucky’s five thoroughbred tracks. As an affiliate of the National HBPA that represents about 30,000 horsemen in the United States and Canada, the Kentucky HBPA’s responsibilities have greatly expanded as the racing industry has become more complex. In addition to its original general benevolence mission, the HBPA is the leading force for horsemen in negotiating contracts with tracks as well as the advancement of the sport through safety and integrity initiatives, promoting racing and assisting in the development of aftercare programs for retired racehorses.

Preakness Day Do’s and Don’ts

…the middle jewel of the Triple Crown is back at Pimlico Race Course in full swing this year, celebrating its 147th anniversary with a jam-packed Black Eyed Susan Day and InfieldFest lineups, plenty of colorful hats in the grandstand, and, of course, all of the trusty thoroughbreds that will participate in the race itself.

“Preakness is synonymous with Maryland,” says Jimmy Vargas, CEO of 1/ST Experience, the owner and operator of the event. “Baltimore is the home of Preakness, and we are honored to continue the tradition each year, putting Baltimore—its people, history, traditions, and thoroughbred industry—front and center on a national stage.”


Buy tickets early: Prices rise as we approach race day, so take advantage of package deals like the famed all-you-can-drink MUG Club. Ticket prices for MUG club, which include access to party areas and a souvenir mug to use at all filling stations, will increase on May 15. For an even more VIP experience, check out the MUG and Vine Club that goes one step beyond with private viewing areas, lounge areas, and restrooms. Try to arrive early to avoid long lines.

Prepare for the weather: Nothing rains on your parade more than, well, rain. If it has rained recently or throughout the day, the infield can turn into a huge mud pit that tracks up to mid-calf. Be prepared to swap out your cutest kicks for a pair of rain boots, cover your race regalia with a poncho or rain jacket, and protect your makeup by using a waterproof mascara.

More on the Preakness Day from Baltimore Magazine

The Incredible Story Behind KY Derby Winner Rich Strike’s Connections

Nearly six years ago, Eric Reed almost called it quits from the horse training business.

A fire engulfed one of the barns at his Lexington, Kentucky, equine center, in the middle of a December night, killing 23 thoroughbred horses and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

“When we drove up on that that night, I told my wife, I said, ‘we’ve probably lost everything,’ ” Reed recounted this week. “The next morning, when we saw the devastation … I just thought of all the years and all the stuff we had done to get this beautiful farm and to have this happen, that something might be telling me it’s the end of the line.”

Reed didn’t give up, and with friends — and sometimes strangers — who showed up to help, he continued training. “I just decided, I wasn’t going to let it take me out.”

It paid off: Reed is now a Kentucky Derby winner…

More on trainer Eric Reed and the owner of Rich Strike