Off the Charts Trip Notes – Jan. 5, 2015

This exclusive and free feature, Off the Charts Trip Notes (Jan. 5, 2015), 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

by Tony Kelzenberg

First off, I would like to wish everybody a great 2015, in both personal relationships and betting.  2014 was my best year as a bettor and I hope it goes even “better” for me next year (I could not resist the pun).

The horses that I have put out in a “horses to watch” list have been coming back to run over the last few weeks.  Here are the results so far (of course, past success does not insure future results), or as Yogi Berra once said “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Recent Results (Dec. 2014)

Starts – 9

Wins – 4 (44% win rate from starts)

In the money – 6 (67% In the money rate)

WIN Return On Investment (ROI) = 39%

($2 dollars bet on every horse to win would return $2.78 on average)

  Horses to Watch Winners this Past Week:

As I expected, CENTRIQUE (paid $3.20 to win) Gulfstream R4, Dec. 26th, was dropped to a starter allowance level that she qualified for months ago.  That, along with JAVIER CASTELLANO up and BLINKERS off certainly added up to a short price in a 9 horse field, but she opened up at 1 to 9 odds (off a 3/1 ML)!!!  Drifting up to 4/5 late, Centrique controlled the pace from the 6 furlong pole to the line from the inside.  She handled the sloppy track and finished well enough to prove her above average late kick is still there.  On the other hand, it did not appear to me that she can move back easily into stakes company and win at the tough GP meet.  Look for trainer Marty Wolfson to get Centrique into a conditioned allowance race at 6.5 or 7 furlongs.

CATALINA RED (paid $3.20 to win) Tampa Bay Downs R9, Dec. 27th, how I love you so.  Coming off a 7 length crush in the 6 furlong Inaugural Stakes at Tampa, I was hoping to get 7/5 or 8/5 odds off a 3/1 Morning Line (second choice), but after three scratches and only 6 runners Catalina Red stood out to everyone that could read a “Form” at 3/5.  Pace setter X Y Jet (who defeated Catalina Red at GP West), was getting a trainer change to Jorge Navarro, who is deadly with speed horses entering his barn and was the 2/1 second choice.  “The Jet” laid down a 44 and change half mile, and kept on finding, forcing Catalina Red to make several runs at the leader, ultimately catching the speedster two jumps from the line in 1:21.40, a STAKES and TRACK record.  Off of this race Catalina Red looks like the local horse to beat for the Sam F. Davis Stakes, and if that goes well I would expect a start in the Tampa Bay Derby.  The exacta of CR over XY Jet paid an acceptable $6.20

MONSIEUR POWER (paid $15.00) Golden Gate R4, Dec. 28th, was kind of my X-Factor horse coming out of a Del Mar straight maiden turf race where he was hopelessly blocked and I thought the horse looked athletic enough so I put him in my Virtual Stable.  I was busy with the holidays, but a fan of this blog, Bill Mentes, was paying attention and was able to get some money down on this overlay.  The trainer, Patrick (Paddy) Gallagher, changed the track (Golden Gate), the surface (turf to poly), the distance (from a mile to 6 furlongs) and the running style (stalker to wire to wire).  You could say the connections definitely earned the 6.5 to 1 odds on that training job.  Another way to look at it, watch Patrick (Paddy) Gallagher closely, he’s quite sneaky.

CONTRARIAN BET (paid $3.60) Fair Grounds R2, Dec. 29th, was a selection into my Virtual Stable because I liked his combination of early speed and professionalism – he seemed like a hard trier.  I saw him win for $5,000 claiming against fellow Louisiana-breds, but Trainer Tom Amoss must have liked the race too, because he moved the horse up to $15,000 La-bred claimers and “CB” crushed the race as the 4/5 favorite.  I would have liked more value here but it is hard to quibble with the results.  He won by 4 under steady urging so there probably is more in the tank.  He was claimed from Amoss by a rival trainer, Ron Faucheux, so maybe there is even more upside than was indicated out of that $5,000 claimer.

Near Misses this Past Week

SON OF WAR (out of the top 4) Santa Anita R5, Dec. 26th was my anticipated bet of the week and he ran a great race on the Santa Anita turf course at 12/1 in a very competitive N1x allowance field, weaving his way through traffic desperately, and making a clear lead a furlong out….and then he ran out of stamina and did not finish in the top 4.  It’s hard to say if the jockey moved too soon or the horse does not want 9 furlongs, but I think an allowance at 8 furlongs is within his scope.  I would really love to see him go down the hill going 6.5 furlongs, as I think the stamina issues would be minimized and this horse is really very agile and can shoot the gaps between animals.

Robert Frankel Stakes, Santa Anita R8, Dec. 27th, fillies and mares, 9 furlongs (turf)

THREE HEARTS (3rd) and LADY OF GOLD (4th) both had unfortunate trips and got beat a head and a half length, respectively, for the win in a 4-horse photo.  Both horses went off at good odds demonstrating the crowd does not realize how good these two are.  Of the two I think Three Hearts might have a bit more upside but both seem good enough to compete in the big filly and mare turf races in Southern California.

 New Horses to Watch (Dec 26th – Dec 28th):

MICKS MIRACLE, Santa Anita R4 Dec. 26th (Maiden Special 6.5 furlongs) is a very athletic horse with a lot of scope, not something that is typical from sons and daughters of noted Florida-based speed sire Wildcat Heir.  The “workout guys” were all over this one before the race, but what I really liked about this horse is that he seems to have several gears, he is not a “one-paced” speed ball.  A mile is definitely in this one’s scope and if American Pharaoh hasn’t come back in time for the Classics this guy might be the next best classic contender in Southern California.

WABEL, Santa Anita R4, Dec. 26th (Maiden Special 6.5 furlongs), is a horse that has sprinted twice and shown good early speed but no finish.  Being by Curlin, he probably would improve going two turns.  Finishing a well-beaten second to potential star Micks Miracle may also help to “darken his form” a bit.

JOJO WARRIOR, Santa Anita R6, Dec. 26th (Grade 1, F&M, 7 furlongs) was stuck very wide FROM POST 10 chasing a 43 and change half mile and never got into the race.  If news reports indicate she was not injured in the La Brea stakes, give her a chance to rebound, especially in two-turn races where she can control the early pace.

PRINICIPESSE AVA, Gulfstream R5, Dec. 26th (N2x allowance, 8.5 furlongs, turf) is a mare that is starting to put it all together.  Her Nov. 13th race at Aqueduct, when she showed a 115 BRIS late speed rating, showed she is learning how to relax, and in the Dec. 26th race she just exploded in a way that indicates that a stakes race is next in her future.

GIANT EGO, Santa Anita R6, Dec. 28th (Clm. $40,000 down the hill – 6.5 furlongs) showed incredible early speed at 25/1 and held well enough before losing to perfect tripper Pepnic narrowly.  This distant relative of Giant’s Causeway just might be a force to recon with in the $32,000 to $50,000 claiming ranks.

BETTYS BAMBINO, Santa Anita R8, Dec. 28th (GR. 3 Daytona Stakes down the hill – 6.5 furlongs) is maturing into a real racehorse and 5-4-0-1 going down the hill at Santa Anita.  Horses that enjoy the downhill course outperform all other types, and in addition this horse showed blistering late speed to win the Daytona, which is not typical for a speed horse.  I think this one can get a mile as well.

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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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