Blaise Brucato Completes Rare Back-to-Back Tournament Wins

 Ohio Handicapper Captures Grade One Gamble and Spring Challenge at Keeneland

 April 22-23, 2017

 In the storied history of Keeneland Race Course, many patrons have had memorable (and profitable) weekends.  We would venture to guess, however, that not many have equaled the weekend that Blaise Brucato just experienced at this venerable racetrack.

RoughlyKeeneland Green Logo 24 hours after winning the inaugural Keeneland Spring Challenge, a $400 buy-in tournament held on Saturday (4/22/17), Blaise topped that performance with a dramatic win in Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble, a $3,000 buy-in tournament that has become one of the most prized titles on the NHC Tour.

On Saturday, the Cleveland native bested a field of 258 players by hitting a $500 exacta on the last race, winning a $10,000 BCBC spot and $3,500 in cash.  Mike Maloney of Lexington captured 2nd and 4th places in the tourney, earning an NHC spot and $3,500 in prize money.  NHC qualifiers Paul Hoffman of Chicago (3rd place) and Mark Haidar of Northville, (5th place) joined lucky 6th place finisher Ali Aksoy of Toronto, who benefitted from the NHC rule that prohibits any player from scoring 2 NHC spots in one tournament. [AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen finished a distant 21st].

After winning the Saturday tournament, Blaise revealed that April 22 was his Dad’s birthday.  Bill Brucato introduced his son to horse racing at a young age, and even though Bill passed away in 1988, it is clear that his spirit and love for racing lives on through Blaise.

TheNTRA NHC logo incredible story continued on Sunday, as Brucato closed again in the final race, cashing a $250 exacta to vault past former NHC Tour champion Jonathon Kinchen by a mere $200 to claim back-to-back victories, with another BCBC spot, an NHC berth, and $13,000 in cash.   In the Grade One Gamble, a record 170 entries competed for 7 BCBC spots, 10 NHC spots, and over $40,000 in cash prizes.  The 2nd place finish by Austin, TX native Kinchen earned him a BCBC and NHC spot plus $6,500 in cash. Third through 7th finishers Bob Traynor of Oceanside, CA, Joe Kramer of Fargo, ND, Marshall Gramm of Memphis, TN, Randy Gallo of Palm Beach Garden, FL and Kenneth King of New York, NY all earned BCBC and NHC entries, in addition to cash prizes.

Brian Johnson of Biloxi, MS, Ali Aksoy of Toronto, ON and Mike Maloney of Lexington, KY finished 8th through 10th and earned a berth to the 2018 NHC, in addition to cash prizes.  For Aksoy and Mahoney, it was the 2nd NHC berth in as many days.

To recap the weekend, totaling his bankroll winnings, cash prizes, and BCBC/NHC berths, Blaise Brucato cashed for over $50,000.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend at Keeneland, and not a bad way to celebrate your father’s birthday.  Somewhere Bill Brucato has a wide smile on his face.

Final Standings for Grade One Gamble (with Bankroll)

  1. Blaise Brucato $8,434.00
  2. Jonathon Kinchen $8,234.50
  3. Bob Traynor $7,000.00
  4. Joe Kramer $6,546.80
  5. Marshall Gramm $6,493.50
  6. Randy Gallo $6,412.00
  7. Kenneth King $5,968.00
  8. Brian Johnson $5,780.00
  9. Ali Aksoy $5,590.00
  10. Mike Maloney $5,151.00

AGOS Horses to Watch – April 19, 2017

Complimentary horses to watch for AGOS (AGameofSkill.com) visitors

Aqueduct

4/8/17

Race #9 – #2 Tommy Macho – 7f dirt – G-1 Carter Stakes

Luis Saez had the call for Todd Pletcher. Trapped on the rail down the lane making his first start in 56 days. Saez tipped off the rail for clear sailing and tried to split runners in the final 1/8th. Green Gratto and Unified slammed the door shut and he didn’t make the gap. An inquiry didn’t help his case, but we saw there was some promise. I think we’ll see big things from this son of Macho Uno this year.

Keeneland

4/12/17

Race #7 – #4 – Alasaal – 1 mile on the turf

Joe Bravo in the irons for Kiaran McLaughlin as they brought this son of War Front to post. – He led all the way and set some pretty quick fractions. Down the lane Bravo tried to take his mount as far as he could and started weaving a bit down the lane. He drifted into the paths of some other runners and the objection sign hit the board. After a few minutes, there was no action taken. “Jersey-Joe” is a 4% winning rider on the turf, and that is not a true reflection of his ability on the sod. I’m looking for the speedster to take em’ to the winner’s circle at a square price.

4/13/17

Race #4 – #10 Major Force – 6f dirt

Javier Castellano in the saddle for Arnaud Delacour and they were sandwiched and pinched back badly at the start spotting the field at least 10 lengths. He made an “Arazi-like” move around the far turn making up a quick 15 lengths in a few strides. He began weaving in and out of traffic and his fast closing fourth is a promising sign. Hopefully we’ll see a return in the final days of the meet.

4/7/17

Race #4 – #1 – Roustabout – 1 1/16 dirt

Miguel Mena in the saddle for Al Stall. The Fair Grounds shipper is a son of Harlan’s Holiday and was in pretty tight at the 1/4 pole. Once Mena broke free he was beaten by a dirty nose right at the wire. If he comes back this meet go to the windows with both hands !

 

Keeneland

4/9/17

Race #2 – #6 – Our Girl Abby – 4 1/2f dirt

Jose Ortiz in the saddle for Mike Maker. Two-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior had been training over the poly at Turfway Park. Her dam My Paige’s Jewel is 1/1 with her poly runners. She saved ground and commenced a bid earning the show spot. Look for her right back at the boutique meeting.

Race #7 – #5 – Plueven – 1 1/16 turf

Corey Lanerie in the driver’s seat for Phillip Sims. This son of Turtle Bowl was on the class drop and making his bid for the first time in four months. He made a strong move but came up a little leg weary down the lane. They’ll probably target Churchill Downs as he loves the Louisville sod.

Santa Anita

4/9/17

Race #2 – #3- Papaslilprincess – 1 1/16 dirt

Bryan Pena had the call and was fresh off the claim for trainer Steve Knapp. She is 6/14 ITM at SA, and was squeezed back at the break costing precious ground.

Race #4 – #5 – Tiz Jolie – 7f dirt

Tyler Baze in the irons fresh off the claim and blinkers off for this run. This son of Tiz Wonderful was making a 2nd start off a one month break and and hopped at the start costing the runner some needed ground. Better things are coming his way next time to the races.

Race #6 – #8 – Rocketann – 5 1/2f dirt

Santiago Gonzalez in the saddle making her second start of the year. She usually dukes it out with Cal-bred stakes runners and the welcome drop to maiden special weight looked good. She was forced three wide on the final turn and may have added to the ground she covered. Maybe a better trip is just what the doctor ordered and we’ll have a runner who can make amends for her last race.

Expert Selections for 2017 Blue Grass Stakes Card

Expert FULL-CARD Selections with Spot Plays

Rich Nilsen handicapperRich Nilsen, founder of AGameofSkill.com and one of the top tournament players in the history of the NHC, offers up his Spot Play and full-card analysis for Saturday, April 8th at Keeneland.  The analysis covers the full card, all 11 races at Keeneland on Saturday 4/8.  Nilsen provides selections for the 11 races including the 5 graded stakes on the card.  Wagering strategies are included for the 3 spot plays on the Keeneland card.

Each race offered includes Nilsen’s detailed pace scenario which explains how the race will set up.

Put an expert on your side as you attack Keeneland on Blue Grass Stakes day!

Only $9.97 for the full-card Keeneland analysis, incl. 3 spot plays with Wagering Strategies.

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Nilsen had a huge year in 2016 with his few, major race day selection sheets.  One of those days was the 2017 Travers Stakes card won by eventual super horse Arrogate.  Arrogate was fairly unknown at the time, which is why he went off at 11-1 for trainer Bob Baffert.

2016 Travers’s Day Recap:  Nilsen picks top selection Haveyougoneaway who upsets the G1 Ballerina at odds of 10-1!   Nilsen follows that score up by giving out top selection ARROGATE, track-record winner of the G1 Travers Stakes! Arrogate returned $25.40 to win for followers of the sheet.  Another top pick runs 2nd at odds of 17-1 in race 3 on August 27, 2016.

Testimonials:

“Great job, Rich!” ~ Jeff S.

“Rich: Nice job Travers Day! Thanks to Arrogate, you gave me a good day. How in the world did you land on him? I suspect you’re doing some kind of voodoo pace analysis. If you ever decide to give lessons or a seminar, let me know.” ~ Kelley S.

Keeneland Trainer Profile: Steve Asmussen

When one combines these categories, it accounts for close to 70% of Asmussen’s wins.

Handicapper Art ParkerBy Art Parker, author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns

The 51 year old trainer comes from a racing family in Texas, which includes his brother Cash who won an Eclipse Award and then enjoyed a successful career in Europe. Steven Asmussen has won several of the country’s great races. His biggest wins have been the Preakness, Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup. He has also won the Eclipse Award as the most Outstanding Trainer.

Asmussen wins with a variety of angles but is very dangerous with his two year olds in their first start and he excels with second time starts of any age. The same can be said of his layoff horses, either first or second race back. When one combines these categories, it accounts for close to 70% of Asmussen’s wins. The trainer pretty much works his horses 6-7 days apart and most of his winners have their last work 6-8 days prior to race day. One should look for a gate work from his debut juveniles, usually in one of the last two workouts before race day. The last work for a two year old will come at Keeneland.

Of particular note is, that compared to most trainers, Asmussen has his horses working a little more in a 30 days period leading up to race day. He will have 15 furlongs of racing or work at a minimum and often his horses will go more than 20 furlongs within a 30-day period prior to race day. The trainer rarely produces a repeat winner at Keeneland.

Asmussen, surprisingly, delivers with some ‘price’ horses at Keeneland and approximately two-thirds of his Keeneland victories have come in the fall meet. He will ship horses from many different tracks in the fall, but for the spring meeting look for those coming from Churchill Downs or Fair Grounds.

Asmussen has won for a long list of owners but his top owner is William Heiligbrodt. Jockey Ricardo Santana is his ‘go-to’ rider, having ridden more than 50% of Asmussen’s Keeneland winners. He has also successfully used Shaun Bridgmohan, Julien Leparoux, Robby Albarado and James Graham.

The following is an excerpt of the trainer stats found in Art’s book, now available for download at AGameofSkill.com

Steve Asmussen (25 wins)

  • Two year old debut horses show works 6-7 days apart, at least one from the gate, usually the last work 6-8 days prior to race day.
  • Look for horses that have worked and/or raced 15-20 furlongs within 30 days of race day.
  • Winners have shipped from 8 different tracks, but more than two-thirds have logged their last work at Keeneland.
  • More than half of winners were ridden by Ricardo Santana.
  • Has won for 17 different owners.
  • Approximately half of the winners paid in double digits.
  • More likely to win with turf-to-main surface switches than main-to-turf.

Art’s book is available here

 

Korea Cup, sponsored by Keeneland, to feature top race horses

$1.54 Million Purse on the Line

The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) is providing a rare opportunity for people to witness the world’s greatest racehorses this Sunday as the country’s sole horse-racing operator inaugurates the Korea Cup at LetsRun Park Seoul in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. The Korea Cup offers a purse of 1.7 billion won ($1.54 million), the highest prize in Korea’s horse-racing… [Read more…]

AGOS Horses to Watch – April 13, 2016

Horses to Watchfor AGameofSkill.com visitors

Keeneland

Baytown Turls (KEE 4/8/16 – Race #1 – #5 – 4 1/2f dirt) –  Jack Gilligan aboard, and his runner broke inward in his first outing. He immediately gathered up his charge and save ground along the rail. At 32-1 he looked to be saving gas in the tank for his next effort, but decided to finish up strong against the fence.  I think we’ll see improvement, and maybe he’ll wheel back in the short Keeneland meet or take his talents to Churchill for a mdn victory.

Handiwork (KEE 4/8/16 – Race #3 – #4 – 6 1/2f dirt) –  Jesus Castanon had the call, and had dead-aim on the leaders down the lane. He brushed a bit which could have taken him out of his game, but gathered his stride and finished up with gusto. – By the time they past the finish line he was three lengths better. Shipped in from Fair Grounds, and these travelers do well overall at the Keeneland meeting.

Converge (KEE 4/8/16 – Race #9 – #7 – 1 1/16 turf) – top jock Javier Castellano in the irons for Chad Brown in the Transylvania Stakes. He was aboard a nice son of Sidney’s Candy and was making up ground at a solid clip along the inside after being way off the front runners. Just as he set sail, his efforts were compromised by being squeezed off by the #1 – Inspector Lynlee.  This was his second off the shelf since October, and maybe Team Brown will roll him right back over the lush Keeneland green.  If you don’t see him in Lexington, I bet he’ll head up to the Belmont greensward.

Kundray (KEE 4/9/16 – Race #3 – #6 – 1 mile on the turf) –  Julian Leparoux in the saddle aboard a Distorted Humor filly. She was getting first Lasix, and comes from the Michael Matz barn.  This New York-bred came rolling last out and as she shipped in from Gulfstream Park. She appeared to relish the footing and should make for a nice playback on this angle. Team Matz will have her tuned and ready to roll next up.

Commend (KEE 4/10/16 – Race #6 – #6 – 1 mile turf) –  red hot jockey Jose Lezcano in the saddle for Bill Mott, and they were making their forst start on the grass. This son of War Chant settled out nicely and stalked just off the leader. Lezcano hit the gas and accelerated quickly to open up a few lengths, and was eventually run down by the chalk #10 – American Patriot.   They way he took to the green was promising, and Lezcano did everything but win on this runner.   Next out he’ll benefit greatly from this race and be a handful down the lane.

AGOS Claimer of the Week: Ramsey strikes fast at Keeneland

Keeneland 2016  It’s no surprise that Ken and Sarah Ramsey would win of the first races at the Keeneland spring meeting. The successful owners captured the second race with Slan Abhaile after he contested the early pace and disposed of a late challenge. The Mike Maker trainee defeated $10,000 claimers over six and one half furlongs in 1:17.16. Ridden by Javier Castellano, the bay gelding returned $3.00 to his backers after claiming his sixth career victory. The son of Hard Spun has finished in the money (top three finishers) in 18 of 32 races and has accumulated $243,000 in lifetime earnings.   Trainer Mike Maker is one of the 24 “Kings of Keeneland” featured in Art Parker’s book.

Get the edge at Keeneland with Art Parker’s new book

After 3 straight meet declines, Keeneland racetrack looks to rebound

Keeneland black and white

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

Jeff Platt examines Keeneland through the eyes of racing’s most crucial customer. And the president of the Horseplayers Association of North America is as stunned as anyone by what’s happening at the Lexington, Ky., racetrack. From a handicapping standpoint, Keeneland is consistently rated at or near the top by horseplayers for its quality fields and bettor-friendly… [Read more…]

The Book is Back! 2016 Kings of Keeneland

KEENELAND WINNING TRAINER PATTERNS

Keeneland 2016 – 2016 SPRING MEET EDITION – NOW AVAILABLE

Winning Patterns on the trainers that dominate this popular meet!  Bonus Handicapping Articles.

Detailed write-ups on the 24 trainers, explaining exactly how they win at this prestigious meet.

How do they win?  What patterns do they use?

How do they work their horses prior to victory?

What owners & jockeys do they team up with?

and much more.

Keeneland Winning Trainer Pattern no longer includes boring stats on a bunch of trainers.  Instead, author Art Parker has taken a hard look into his comprehensive personal database at the trainers that win the majority of races at the meet – the 24 so-called Kings of Keeneland.

Parker’s book includes two bonus handicapping articles written by veteran turf writers Art Parker and Rich Nilsen

 “It’s a wealth of information for horseplayers serious about attacking the Keeneland meets.  One score will more than pay for this book.” – publisher Rich Nilsen

The 2016 Spring Meet Edition of “Keeneland Winning Trainers” is published by All Star Press.  

Buy Now

Enhanced and streamlined book  includes detailed written analysis on the following 24 trainers:

The Kings of Keeneland

Amoss

Arnold

Asmussen

Brown

Casse

Catalano

Clement

Kenneally

Lopresti

Maker

McGaughey

McKeever

McLaughlin

McPeek

Motion

Mott

Pletcher

Proctor

Romans

Sheppard

Sims

Stall, Jr.

Stidham

Ward

You can put this comprehensive trainer guide on any PC or Mobile Device, and then easily look up the Kings of Keeneland when you are ready to handicap or play a race!  $12.97 for the complete 27-page, jam packed book.

NOW AVAILABLE – FOR ABOUT 50 CENTS PER TRAINER
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“One nice hit will pay for this book many times over!”

Keeneland 2016 – It’s Almost Here

By Art Parker

In just a few weeks the coolness will taper off. Some flowers will actually show signs of life and leaves will reappear on the trees. When there is no sign of precipitation and no clouds in the sky, the feeling will begin to strike you. You breathe the amazing fresh air and know that changes are coming. You think you will hear a gradual drum roll in the distance, perhaps a half-mile away.

It will not be a drum roll but the sound of hooves striking the ground in a rhythm that lets you know it is something living that makes the noise.  The amazing sky, perhaps only disfigured by the contrails of a high flying distant jet plane, leaves you convinced that some days are truly perfect. The perfect day is upon you as your mind dashes into the future, just a few days, and you see that creature with four thin legs, exploding with energy in the glorious surroundings and providing you with every reason to believe that the horse can actually run a hole in the wind. The sounds from others like you pierce the air while hearts pound faster, and even though there are winners and losers on this day, nothing can replace the fact that you are there and a part of those wonderful proceedings we call Thoroughbred racing.

Keeneland black and white

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

Yes, it is almost springtime, a time when horse racing is rejuvenated after cold months of moderate and often dull activity. It is the time when nothing can hold this great sport in check because it is made for the time of year when people want their thrills handed to them, not inside a structure of bricks, but outside, where more than the racing can be enjoyed. There is nothing like it, this time of year, and it will soon be here.

That perfect day reminds me of some opening days at a place called Keeneland, nestled in the heart of thoroughbred country. Even though there are tracks that run in the winter, that first day of racing in Lexington, Kentucky should be declared the official opening of racing season everywhere. My favorite way to describe Keeneland is the track “on loan from Heaven.”

Keeneland will open April 8 and run until April 29. The big features will be on April 9 with the running of the Grade One Blue Grass and the Grade One Ashland. What a wonderful place filled with great racing and superb, intelligent racing fans.

I just can’t wait.

Below is an excerpt of Parker’s Keeneland Trainers book, coming soon to AGameofSkill.com.

Kenneally, Eddie – 28 wins at Keeneland

Winning Patterns: 1st Race after Layoff of at least 45 days (8), Second career race (6),  First career race (4),

Turf-to-Main surface switch (4)

The 49 year old was born in Ireland into a family that was involved with horses. His father, uncle and brother have been in the horse business. Kenneally came to the US in 1987. He was an exercise rider and assistant trainer before he started his own stable.

Kenneally does well with horses in their run after a layoff and also first time starters. About 29 percent of his winners are runners coming off a layoff and 3/4 of those are dropping in class. When it comes to debut runners Kenneally strikes at a 14-percent rate while at Keeneland and his second time starters, all of which that have won were ridden by Corey Lanerie, do even better providing Kenneally with 22-percent of his winners. Together, Kenneally does unusually well with either first or second starters, which is definitely a pattern to look for; but keep in mind that he does not turn a rookie horse around very quick.

His winning second time starters usually come back to the track after being idle for 4-5 weeks. Keeping with his first layoff horses dropping in class, Kenneally does not strike often with horses moving up in class, in fact less than 10 perce3nt of his winners fall into that category. Kenneally can get you a price as close to 35 percent of his winners paid in double digit. As far as riders go, Kenneally’s main man is Corey Lanerie, who rode half of his winners and Julien Leparoux who piloted 36 percent of his winners. The Lally Stable has been Kenneally’s top client and cashed in on 19 percent of the trainer’s Keeneland wins.