“Off the Charts” Horses to Watch – End of the Year (2015)

track announcer with binoculars Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ! Here’s a little something to stuff in your stocking as we’ve been keeping a list and checking it twice.


Forty Nine Watts (Aqueduct – 12/18/15 – Race #7 – #2 – 1 1/16 on the inner track) – rider Angel Cruz had the assignment for David Cannizzo. This solid event turned into a pinball machine down the lane. He was striding into the final furlong very strong when Divine Child came off the rail and bumped him multiple times down the lane. The rider stayed quiet and patient in the irons, but was unable to overcome the drifting runner. Cruz kept his mount four wide into the lane to avoid traffic, and was forced wider keeping him out of the winner’s circle.

Pegasus Red (Aqueduct – 12/16/15 – Race #5 – #3 – 6f on the inner track)  – Eric Cancel was the reins man this day, and cane rolling down the lane with a solid late kick. His mount was bottled up a couple of times causing that momentary hold which caused his mount to tap on the brakes. A very solid effort, and a good ride by Cancel not running up on heels. – With a cleaner trip you may see “Pegasus” take flight down the lane.

Northern Screamer (Aqueduct – 12/17/15 – Race #6 – #5 – 6f on the inner track) –  Jose Ortiz had the call for Rudy Rodriguez, and these guys do  very good work as a team. – The pace was solid over the sloppy sealed track making it very difficult to catch the conveyor belt speed during most of the day. Mark this one off to battling a bias, and with a fast or fast/frozen track. I think we’ll see a big time effort down the lane next up.


Did you know… you can see today’s weather forecast for GP and other tracks on this page?

Try Your Luck (Gulfstream Park – 12/26/15 – Race #7 – #6 – 5f on the turf) –  Jeffrey Sanchez aboard this daughter of Looking at Lucky, and this two-year-old showed a great deal a promise first time to the races. She settled in nicely and tipped off to make her move. She ran a very game 3rd place effort and appeared to have plenty more in the tank.

Wheels up Now  (Gulfstream Park – 12/26/15 – Race #8 – #2 – One mile on the dirt) – Luis Saez had the call for Thom Albertrani, and this colt ran a big effort. He was trying 2nd time Lasix, first time blinkers, and was bested by an impressive colt by Uncle Mo. He set the pace going 44.3 and 109.3 in the middle stages, and for a baby that is moving and shaking. Next out should be a “flag fall to that’s all” move to put the field to sleep from the gate break.

Rosalind (Gulfstream Park – 12/26/15 – Race #11 – #7 – 1 1/2 on the turf) –  Edgard Zayas in the irons for Chad Brown, and they were beaten by a very talented Goldy Espony ( another Chad Brown runner) who put the field the sleep in this marathon event on the green. – Rosalind was under a snug restraint down the backstretch, and the dawdling fractions may have been her undoing. She tried to produce a rally, but was left in the dust by her impressive stable mate. The race was better than what you’ll see on paper, and hopefully she won’t hook “Goldy” next out.


Mister Brightside (Santa Anita – 12/26/15 – Race #6 – #6 – One mile turf) – Hall of Famer Mike Smith was the reinsman and this guy has been a handful his last two outings. – Hopping at the start two races back, and steadying multiple times in his next to last effort. Having Smith aboard was the move, and he can get them to settle better than most in the game. – Smith had a “Full-Nelson hammerlock” on his mount as he had to take up just a bit around the first turn and allowed his mount to run freely before the 1/2. – I watched and wondered, but it would be a fools folly to second guess Smith. He knew his mount was acting up, and allowed a quick blast of energy hoping to settle his mount. – He came three wide into the final turn for clear sailing but ran out of gas. I think this will be a very nice play back, and you can expect a sweet price. Once Patrick Gallagher figures out this fella, you’ll get a handsome price at the windows.

Hoffenheim (Santa Anita – 12/27/15 – Race #4 – #2 – 1 1/16 dirt) –  Victor Espinoza had the call for Bob Baffert and ran what I like to call a ” winner’s race and not getting your picture taken.” – In tight at the start, and settled out nicely. Moved into position to out the field away and tipped off the rail four wide to find his best stride. He drew off by 1/2 at the 111.2 make, and was bested by late closing French Getaway under Kent Desormeaux. – He’ll grow from this effort and you should look very closely for his next out effort.

Voodoo Storm (Tampa Bay Downs – 12/18/15 – Race #9 – #3 – One mile and 40 yards on the dirt (originally scheduled for one mile on the turf ) – Dominant local rider Antonio Gallardo was seeking his 5th win on the card, and was blocked badly down the lane multiple times. He had the call for the Jamie Ness barn, and raced just off the pace. From the 1/4 pole to the 1/16th, pole he couldn’t find a seam and was forced to check up down the lane. After all said and done, this beaten favorite finished a neck shy of getting his picture taken. You can bet he won’t be high dollar odds next out, but he’ll make a nice “free spot” for multi-race exotics. – Keep your eyes peeled!



Owl Creek (Turfway Park – 12/18/15 – Race #3 – #2 –  1 1/4 on the poly track) –  Didiel Osorio had the call for trainer Kim Hammond. He was tipping off the rail for clear sailing, and bumped soundly causing his mount to lose action. Once the rider straightened course, he finished up willingly down the lane for a game second. Solid barn with a talented young rider. I think we’ll see a “make-good” next time out to the races for this runner.

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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 Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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