“Off the Charts” Trip Notes – Dec. 3, 2015

track announcer with binocularsHorse to Watch from AGameofSkill.com

As you watched the last of the turkey scraps turn into doggie treats, you sit back with a grateful smile on your face. Not only will this be the last you’ll see of turkey until Christmas, you had a mega-dose of watching the two-year-olds strut their stuff around the country. It was that kind of weekend where we get a small glimpse of what awaits in 2016. – It won’t be long now until you’ll start hearing the names of your favorite three-year-old stakes start going to post. Now before you start drifting off into your tryptophan-turkey coma, take a gander at the runners listed below. They had a tough day at the races, and need an extra helping of keeping your eyes peeled when they make their way to the starting gate.



Scout it Out (Aqueduct – 11/18/15 – Race #7 – #2 – One mile on the turf) – RIDER Luis Saez in the irons for Wesley Ward, and this pace setter did everything right. She was 10-1 and cut the fractions all the way around, only to be met by a 1-2 shot trained by the red-hot Chad Brown. She did nothing wrong, and hooked a much better filly. Same race, same style, and hopefully same price. She’ll give them fits from gate break to the wire.

Reload (Aqueduct – 11/21/15 – Race #8 – #10 – one mile on the turf) –  John Velasquez gave a solid effort stalking the leaders and made a strong move at the 1/4 pole. He was forced to swing three-wide, and made a good attempt down the lane to finish 3rd. – Johnny V. hooking up with “Shug” can be a good thing, and I think we’ll see an improved effort next out.

We Did (Aqueduct – 11/21/15 – Race #9 – #3 – 7f on the main track) –  Francisco Arietta had the call for Leah Gyarmati. This runner was box cars at (77-1) and was pinched back hard at the start. After correcting his mount, he dropped over to the rail to save ground. At the top of the lane the rider shifted his runner into the four path, and ran an even race down the lane to finish 5th.  – This may not be the next stakes winner you’ll see, but that kind of price is worth a real look to finish off exotics. – Give extra points if there is a rider change to a higher percentage boot in the irons.

Island Therapy (Aqueduct – 11/28/15 – Race #6 – #1 – Mile on the turf) –  Irad Ortiz had the call for the red hot barn of Rudy Rodriguez, and this runner was enjoying a picture perfect ride from Ortiz until the 1/4 pole.   He had to take up and clipped heels as he swung three-wide for the stretch drive.   A little better trip has him right on target.


Voodoo Storm (Churchill Downs – 11/18/15 – Race #6 – #1 – 1 1/16 on the turf / 1 1/16 on the dirt) – Calvin Borel in the saddle for Joe Woodard fresh off the claim. Woodard wins (22%) off the claim, and he brought a runner who was claimed for the green. When it came off the turf and was contested on the main course. This became a big play back for a barn that is winning (24%) on the year and (57%) ITM. – Borel made a six wide move around the turn showing interest, but rolled it up on this day to finish 4th. – Right back on the greensward may be the answer.

Pow Wow Pal (Churchill Downs – 11/18/15 – Race #9 – #13 – 5f on the turf / 5f on the dirt) –  Albin Jimenez had the call, and the turf sprint was contested on the main track. This runner for the Wesley Ward barn angled off the rail nicely when the real running began. – The late kick was solid to finish 3rd, and I can’t wait until Ward brings his runner back to the turf. If the rider stays aboard, pay extra attention as he is one of the hidden gems in the saddle no matter where he hangs his tack.

Mo Tom (Churchill Downs – 11/28/15 – Race #11 – #10 – 1 1/16 on the dirt) –  Corey Lanerie in the irons for this son of Uncle Mo. He broke from the outside post and was dead last most of the race. As the field passed the 3/8th’s, he kicked into gear over the sloppy track and was flying along the rail. As they straightened for home he looked in fine shape skimming the paint and hit the rail about the 1/16th pole. – When two-year-olds have a set back like this, you can usually call it a wrap and wait til’ next time. – I can’t wait for Thom Amoss to bring this runner back to the races.


Seek Again (Del Mar – 11/27/15 – Race #8 – #4 – 1 1/16 on the turf) –  Jose Lezcano aboard for Bill Mott, and these guys know how to get a turf runner to the winner’s circle. In this G-2 affair, Lezcano had to put on the breaks at different times during the race. He is one of the most under-appreciated turf riders in the country and deserves a big time look the next time this runner takes to the greensward.

Serbian Syclone (Del Mar – 11/21/15 – Race #4 – #9 – 5f on the turf) –  Victor Espinoza had the call for Peter Miller, and saved ground and waited patiently. When he swung off the rail he looked to have more in the tank as the speed was unable to catch. Espinoza didn’t use up his mount, and saved plenty for the next effort out. – Be of the lookout for this tandem, and hopefully you’ll get near the price of (18-1) next time out.


Red Zone (Fair Grounds – 11/28/15 – Race #9 – #2 – One mile and 70 yards) –  Leandro Goncalves in the saddle for Jeff Thornbury. He was under a hammer-lock most of the race, and when he worked off the rail he had to take up in hand once again forcing him to slam the brakes on many times while in tight. – Give him half a path and he’ll make a direct path to the winner’s circle next time out.


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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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