Off the Charts Trip Notes – Dec. 24, 2014

Reports on Tom Amoss & Kiaran McLaughlin

This exclusive and free feature, Off the Charts Trip Notes (Dec. 24, 2014), finds horses throughout the country who encountered some type of noteworthy trouble in their most recent start or just gave an extremely impressive performance. Please note that horses spotlighted in Off the Charts Trip Notes are never an automatic bet back, but rather runners to give a serious look at given the trips and the trouble spotted by our expert handicappers at

Kiaran McLaughlin is ‘killing it’ with 2 year olds (as of 12/15/14)

In two days McLaughlin won with two 2yo first timers on the Aqueduct Inner track for Stonestreet (Ocean Knight and Perchance) and one for his top client, Darley (Via Strata), all at the 6 furlong distance.  Both visually and against the clock Ocean Knight seems to be the most athletic and has the best turn of foot of the three.  Ocean Knight is not the biggest horse and I am not sure he will relish long distance dirt racing, but he looked really agile and has the build of a successful turf miler.  Being by Curlin out of a Stormy Atlantic mare, he may well find success on the green stuff.  Via Strata seems to have a lot of ‘try,’ but her turn of foot on the dirt wasn’t that impressive.  Perchance is a nice horse but seems much slower than the other two unless the variant at Aqueduct on Sunday was much slower than Saturday.

Aqueduct Race 4, 12-14-14, 2yo Maiden Special race, 2yo

This race was won by ½ favorite Perchance (see above), but the intriguing runner may be another first time starter Yes for Success, who did not break well from the rail, then bore in slightly, then bore out, then once steered into a straight line rushed up with a nice turn of foot to get to the lead along the inside of Perchance, leading until the 3/16ths, when Perchance went past him and put the race to bed.  Yes for Success was one of only a few horses taking money in the race, so the talent may be there.  Definitely worth a play back against similar company.

Gulfstream Park Race 3, 12-13-14, 3up F and M, “Sugar Swirl Stakes” (Grade 3)

This is NOT the trip you want sprinting at GP:

Centrique stumbled at the start, raced in the back of the field and made up a bit of ground four wide in the lane.”

Give this one a chance with a reasonable class drop into the allowance ranks.

Gulfstream Park Race 9, 12-13-14, 3up F and M, “Harlan’s Holiday Stakes” (Listed)

Kudos to Liam’s Map who won with a very wide draw and having to fight off first Csaba, then Valid to get the win.  I would be concerned it was TOO good an effort – the BRIS number came up big and visually it looked like a taxing effort.  My horse to avoid coming out of this race is Pants On Fire.  Yeah, I know he has a great name and Kelly Breen is a good trainer, but it just looks like this horse can’t get it done in stakes company any more and he never pays a good price when he does win.  Just say no.

Fair Grounds Race 5, 12-14-14, Allowance N1x,  3up, 1 mile (turf)

Stock Yard Hen had never been on the lead in its last ten races, and was switching barns to Stephenie Beattie.  What’s the logical thing to do?  Obviously take the lead and go 46.64 and 1:11.01 (sizzling fractions for the FG turf course) before tiring late and holding on well for fourth.  This horse seems well positioned to improve with reasonable splits, and/or a shorter distance of 7.5 furlongs.  SYH is definitely my horse of the week to follow.

Fair Grounds Race 7, 12-14-14, Allowance N3x,  3up, 5.5 furlongs (turf)

This race featured the 8/5 favorite Good Deed coming off a layoff against a “horse to watch” from Churchill Down’s closing weekend, Angie’s Prim Lady, winner of three straight.  As I mentioned in last week’s column, the TURF RAIL at FG is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD (as it is most years).  My understanding is the inner part of the turf course does not drain well, so it is always softer than the rest of the course.

It is so bad EVERYBODY knows the turf rail is dead, and speed horses that break on the inside will do a lot of extra work to try to move into the two path.  In this race, Angie was the inside speed and her connections decided to work hard from post two so Good Deed would not be able to pin her on the rail, but this got Angie out of her preferred running style tracking the speed.  Good Deed tracked and crushed instead, but Angie was able to hold off the closers for second in a game effort.  Play her back if you see her in a turf sprint were she has an OUTSIDE post and she can track the early leader from second.

Tom Amoss is DA MAN at the Fair Grounds

Tom Amoss has a winners from starters rate of 32% on the year, he’s currently 48% at the current Fair Grounds meet, and when he drops a horse in the claiming ranks two plus levels (example $15,000 down to $5,000) he is winning at a rate of 54% (25 for 46).  Tom Amoss is not necessarily a profitable trainer betting all his horses, because Fair Grounds regulars know his strengths, but he is a huge factor in horizontal wagers (pick 3s, pick 4s).


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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-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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