“Off the Charts” Trip Notes – July 14, 2015

Canterbury Park

Nora’s Song (Canterbury, July 9th, Race 5, #5 saddlecloth).  Confirmed closer was sent from 7th to 1st between the half mile and six furlong calls and made the lead more than 4 furlongs out.  Was essentially a sitting duck for the winner late, losing by a half length in a brave effort.  Fits in $7,500 to $10,000 claimers on the turf.

Belterra Park

Donsandroses (Belterra Park / Race #8 / #9 / 7/10/15) – Remember the name Jordano Tunon. He’ll be a really nice rider over time, but the young jockey had everything but the kitchen sink tossed at him in this race. He broke out and hit the gate at the start, settled out, and started gaining to have the lead at one point by a head. He was drifting about and just looked to be lost on this day. Claiming $5,000 N2L is not the Queen’s Plate, but sometimes the small tracks offer a player or two that deserve a good look next time out. After speaking with the chart callers following the race, we all agreed he was one for the watch list as he appeared to have other things on his mind. If you liked 6-1 this last time out, I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’ll be about the same price if not higher next up.

Arlington Park

Up With the Birds = Arlington / Race #6 / #2 / 7/11/15 – The grass course had plenty of cut by all reports, and it seemed a little better from this handicapper’s eye. Up With the Birds had the services of young Drayden Van Dyke who may be one of the best up-and-coming turf riders for the future. He broke well and stayed along the rail down the backstretch. Just about the time he was given his cue, he was soundly bumped by Yankee Dealer and Coco Mon nearing the 1/2 mile mark. After the bustling he kicked out four wide and attempted to make a rally, but came up a bit empty. You can bet trainer Graham Motion will have the bugs ironed out the next time he enters the paddock.

Roman Approval (Arlington / Race #7 / #3 / 7/11/15) – When a runner does very little wrongs and still gets beat, you just hold your breath until the next outing. Julien Leparoux broke on the lead under a hammer lock and tried to control the early pace of his efforts. He held sway all the way around until he was bested down the lane by the ultra-tough runner The Pizza Man. – He was only beaten a neck and you can bet if he faces runners in his ability range, it may be a different outcome.

Belmont Park

African Fighter (Belmont / Race #7 / #6 / 7/11/15) – Luis Saez had the mount for Todd Pletcher and they were shipping over from Monmouth for this venture. He stumbled at the start and regained his footing. Going down the backstretch he started picking up momentum but ended up in the parking lot all the while gaining ground at a good clip. Give him a better start and we’ll end up having a very nice runner to play.

Willow U (Belmont / Race #10 / #9 / 7/11/15) – She stumbled at the start getting a snout full of race track to begin. This is usually pretty tough to overcome, but started to get in gear about the 3/8th’s pole. His interest was keen and swing three wide to finish up for the show money. Junior Alvarado did an excellent job all the way around, and if she doesn’t go face down in the dirt next out, she’ll be a factor to be reckoned with about the 1/4 pole.


Ellis Park

Sapphire Spitfire (Ellis Park / Race #6 / #2 / 7/12/15) – B.J. Hernandez did nothing wrong for the record. He broke alertly and settle in nice. He started closing in on the leader, but was bested by a monster by the name of Dothraki Queen who won by a commanding 7 lengths. – I like to call this effort “running a winners race” but not getting your picture taken. Two-year-olds mature rapidly at this time of year and she’ll be money in the bank next


Danish Dynaformer (Woodbine “Queen’s Plate,” July 5th, Race 11, #7 saddlecloth).  Was bumped at the start, moved way too soon and hit the front more than a furlong out.  Wound up second after covering significantly more more ground than the winner.  This horse is bred to excel on the grass (and has two grass wins already), so play this one back when the action shifts back to the lawn.


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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 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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