Horses to Watch racing – Dec. 26 – 27

by Tony Kelzenberg

Happy Holidays everyone!

Good news – several of the grass horses I have been waiting to come back to race are going to race this weekend.  Some horses I like, and others seem up against it.  I will give the fair odds and the chances of every horse that is running on Friday the 26th or Saturday the 27th.

 Dec. 26th, Gulfstream Park R4 (2:02 est):  CENTRIQUE (3/1 ML)

Centrique has had several bad races in a row, but she is finally dropping out of stakes competition and if she can run back to her races from a year a go she would have this group for lunch.  Unfortunately she is also blinkers off, switches to Javier Castellano, and draws the rail with a 3/1 Morning Line.  I was hoping for much better value when I touted her two weeks ago.

Suggested betting strategy:

If you have the faith #1 CENTRIQUE might be a good single in the horizontal wagers.

Dec 26th, Santa Anita R5 (5:14 est):  SON OF WAR (8/1 ML)

This gorgeous son of huge turf influence War Front broke his maiden like a 4/5 shot, tracking the pace 3 wide all the way around at Del Mar on Nov. 15th and paying $54 to win.  He has two good workouts since but has the misfortune of meeting a very strong field of turf runners.  He drew post 1 and should be able to save ground, but there are several horses that have faster speed figures.  The main dangers look to be the #3 Mal Verde, who already has two grass wins, and Wanstead Gardens, whose best two efforts come from the back end of the field and keeps jockey Joel Rosario.  There does nor appear to be a lot of speed lined up in this race, which may hurt Wanstead Gardens’ chances for the win.

Suggested betting strategy:

Win on #1 SON OF WAR at 10/1 or better.

Exacta Part wheel #1, #3 with #1, #2, #3, #8 (six combinations)

Pick 3 using #1 and #3 (small pick 3 ticket) or #1, #2 #3 and #8 (large pick 3 ticket)

 Dec 27th, Fair Grounds R7 (5:19 est):  STOCK YARD HEN (30/1 ML)

I cited this horse because it put up HUUUUGE early pace figures on Dec 14th, which I thought was odd because it had not been on the lead in its prior 10 starts.  Even though it clunked home, there is a good chance she will move forward and contend for a top 4 placing on Saturday.  With Diving Beauty in the lineup providing the pace, hopefully SYH can save some ground from off the pace and make some noise late.

Suggested betting strategy :

Small win/place wager on #4 STOCK YARD HEN at 20/1 or higher.

Dec 27th, Tampa Bay Downs R7 (4:18 est):  CATALINA RED (3/1 ML)

CATALINA RED put in a very strong claim that he is the best racehorse in this race and I see no reason to get off the bandwagon now.  X Y Jet is a good animal and gets a change to the barn of “miracle worker” Jorge Navarro, and is an obvious speed threat, especially as the Tampa main track has been so friendly to sprinter speed.

Suggested wagering strategy:

Win on #4 CATALINA RED at 2/1 or better

Straight Exacta #4 over #5

Late pick 4: Single #4 (small ticket) or use #4 and #5 (large ticket)

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-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 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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