Stakes Action on Saturday

Know thy Keeneland TrainersMichael Tabor, Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Moonshine Memories heads a field of 14 3-year-old fillies and two also-eligibles entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 20th running of the $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2).

The 7-furlong main track test will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

Trained by Simon Callaghan, Moonshine Memories won her first three races as a 2-year-old, including the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier (G1).

The Lexus Raven Run represents her third trip east from her Southern California base. Moonshine Memories finished fourth in the Acorn (G1) at Belmont in June and in her most recent start was third in the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga on Sept. 2.

Mike Smith has the mount and will break from post position nine.

Oklahoma Classics Cup Night

If Shotgun Kowboy is going to make his mark on Oklahoma Classics history Friday night at Remington Park, he will have to defeat four rivals while breaking from the outside post position, number five, in the 1-1/16 miles event.

Shotgun Kowboy is attempting to win his third $175,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup, the richest event on the $1,000,000 Oklahoma Classics Night of stakes events for eligible Oklahoma-bred Thoroughbreds. Bred, owned and trained by C.R. Trout of Edmond, Okla., Shotgun Kowboy won the Classis Cup in 2015 and in 2017. A third victory in the race would put him alongside Mr Ross (1999-2001) and Zee Oh Six (2002, 2005-2006), as the only horses to capture the top event in the series three times.

Jockey David Cabrera receives the call on Shotgun Kowboy for the first time in the 6-year-old gelding’s career. A son of Kodiak Kowboy from the Siphon (Brz) mare Shotgun Jane, Shotgun Kowboy has earned $1,267,501 overall with 12 wins (seven at Remington Park), five times finishing second and another five races where he was third. He will make his 31st career start when he leaves the gate on Friday night.

Shotgun Kowboy is the first horse to win the Grade 3, Oklahoma Derby (2015) and then win the Oklahoma Classics Cup. The Classics series started in the fall of 1993, shortly after the legendary Oklahoma-bred Clever Trevor had retired. Clever Trevor is the only other Oklahoma-bred horse to have won the Oklahoma Derby, known as the Remington Park Derby in 1989, when he took the inaugural edition of the top event in Oklahoma.

Shotgun Kowboy seeks his fourth career victory in the Oklahoma Classics. He started his career in the state-bred series with a win in the $100,000 Classics Juvenile in 2014. Only four horses have won four or more Oklahoma Classics races in its history. Highland Ice won five Classics races with Notable Okie, Okie Ride, and She’s All In each winning four.

Shotgun Kowboy enters the Classics Cup off a third-place effort in the $175,000 Governor’s Cup behind Hence on Sept. 30. Earlier this year, Shotgun Kowboy, won the Grade 3, $200,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, defeating Mubtaahij, out of National Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s barn. Mubtaahij was the winner, by eight lengths, of the Grade 2, $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai in 2015. He then competed in the Grade 1, $2 million Kentucky Derby and finished fourth to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes that year.

Tuff Kid is among those trying to spoil Shotgun Kowboy’s party Friday night. Tuff Kid raced second, beaten 5-1/4 by Shotgun Kowboy, in the Classics Cup last year. He was fourth in the 2016 edition of the race behind winner Phantom Trip, when Shotgun Kowboy skipped the event.

Claimed on August 31 for $30,000 for new owner GK Racing of Driftwood, Texas and new trainer Karl Broberg, Tuff Kid is normally a deep closer in his best efforts and will add blinkers for the first time in his career for the Classics Cup. A 5-year-old gelding by Don’t Get Mad from the Wild Again mare Tuff Chick, Tuff Kid will be ridden by Ramon Vazquez for the first time in his career.

Hyper Drive is the only other contestant in the Classics Cup to have started previously in the race, finishing seventh behind Phantom Trip in 2016. Owned by Henry Thilmony of Minneapolis, Minn. and trained by Randy Oberlander, Hyper Drive last won on April 16 at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla. in a starter allowance race at the same 1-1/16 miles distance of the Classics Cup.

Making his first start in the Classics Cup will be Rowdy The Warrior, a 4-year-old trained by Donnie Von Hemel, the all-time leading trainer by wins in the Oklahoma Classics with 26. Also entering the race for the first time is Night Strike, a 3-year-old trained by Bret Calhoun who won an Oklahoma-bred allowance race at 1 mile-70 yards at Remington Park on Sept. 6.

The field for the Oklahoma Classics Cup by post position and program order, with trainer and jockey:

1. Night Strike – Bret Calhoun, Jamie Theriot

2. Hyper Drive – Randy Oberlander, Lindey Wade

3. Rowdy The Warrior – Donnie Von Hemel, Luis Quinonez

4. Tuff Kid – Karl Broberg, Ramon Vazquez

5. Shotgun Kowboy – C.R. Trout, David Cabrera

The Classics Cup is the sixth of 10 races on Oklahoma Classics Night and will start at approximately 9:25pm. The other stakes events during the evening include:

Race 1, 7:07pm: $130,000 Distaff Turf, fillies and mares, 3 and up, 1-1/16 miles (turf)

Race 4, 8:31pm: $130,000 OKC Turf Classic, 3 and up, 1-1/16 miles (turf)

Race 5, 8:58pm: $130,000 Sprint, 3 and up, six furlongs

Race 7, 9:52pm: $130,000 Distaff Sprint, fillies and mares, 3 and up, six furlongs

Race 8, 10:19pm: $145,000 Distaff, fillies and mares, 3 and up, 1 mile-70 yards

Race 9, 10:45pm: $100,000 Juvenile, 2-year-olds, six furlongs

Race 10, 11:26pm: $100,000 Lassie, 2-year-old fillies, six furlongs

The Primetime Pick 4 wager (races 7-10) on Oklahoma Classics Night will carry a guaranteed minimum betting pool of $100,000. The wager is comprised of all stakes events for the evening.

Source: Press Releases

There’s No Question Who the Best Real-Money Tournament Player Is

Tommy Massis relaxing back home at Woodbine

It’s This Guy

I was one of the guys who got crushed by The Hammer, the best real-money tournament player in the country.  Tommy Massis of Toronto is not only the King of Keeneland Contests but also the one to fear most in any real-money tournament.  On Sunday (10/14/18) in Lexington Kentucky, he placed a $1,000 win bet on 19-1 shot Bella Noire in Keeneland’s 4th race to claim another real-money victory at Keeneland.  Tommy’s winning total of $20,800 bested 2nd place finisher Blake Jessee by nearly $8,000.

Tommy loves Keeneland, with good reason.  He won the Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship (BCBC) at Keeneland in 2015, and this is his second win in a big Keeneland live money contest.  For his most recent victory, in addition to his final bankroll, he takes home $30,000, a fully paid $10,000 berth in the BCBC at Churchill Downs, and a fully paid entry plus expenses into the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas.

According to the Keeneland press release, Tommy played the tournament from the Green Room at Keeneland, and when Bella Noire stormed down the stretch he jumped up and declared, “You have a new leader!”

The $3,000 buy-in tournament drew 167 entries and awarded BCBC and NHC spots to the top five finishers, NHC spots to places 6 through 8, and prize money to 15th place.

Three years ago I got the pleasure of interviewing The Hammer, so check out the link below to view Tommy’s insight into his first real-money tournament score at Keeneland:

Interview with Tommy Massis

Months after this interview, The Hammer turned around and won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship (BCBC) by absolutely crushing the exacta in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.  A couple weeks later he won the Del Mar real-money tournament, taking down another grand prize and leaving his competition in the dust.

It was truly the year of The Hammer, and this past weekend proved that he is still pounding his competition, and making some men (like myself) look like boys.  Great job Tommy!

 

Did You Miss This Gem?

How to Win a Handicapping Tournament

Eleven Sires Dominate at 2018 Keeneland Fall Sales

copyright DarbyAmerica

With 26 yearlings selling for $1 million plus in the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, 11 sires with three or more sold in Book 1 accounted for 465 yearlings or 47% of the number cataloged in Book 1.

Is Horse Racing Dead?  Apparently not if the Keeneland sales in Lexington KY are any indication.  Check out the full Blood-Horse story below.

Source: Eleven Sires Create Book 1 Surge at Keeneland

Fall Keeneland 2018 Tournament Schedule

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

Continuing a long tradition of support for the National Horseplayers Championship and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, Keeneland is proud to announce the dates of two big handicapping tournaments during the 2018 Fall Race Meet.

On Saturday, October 13, we will conduct a live bankroll tournament, the Keeneland $400 Fall Challenge, a $400 buy-in with a live bankroll of $250 and $150 prize fund fee. Players will be able to wager any amount on any race at Keeneland, with no minimum wagers or minimum number of races. This tournament may be played from anywhere on the track; all tickets and admissions must be handled separately by the player. Please see rules here.

Based on an estimated 250 entries, one BCBC and four NHC spots will be awarded.

On Sunday, October 14, the prestigious BCBC-NHC Challenge returns, with a $3,000 buy-in and as many as 6 spots in the BCBC and 10 in the NHC up for grabs. This tournament will be held in the Lexington/Kentucky Room with the best seats in the house. This year we have use of the entire room, so your guest may sit with you, and the dress code has been relaxed to business casual; no more ties required! Please see rules here.

Entries became available online on August 13, 2018, and players registering for the BCBC-NHC Challenge may also enter the Saturday tournament with one process.

We hope that the Saturday tournament will complement the BCBC-NHC Challenge, and that many players will take advantage of the scheduling to compete in both tournaments and have a great Keeneland weekend.

Source: Keeneland

Keeneland 2018 Spring Meet Has Near-Record Wagering

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Kentucky

Keeneland closed its 2018 Spring Meet on Friday with near-record all-sources wagering on Keeneland of more than $157 million, highlighted by an all-time single-day handle record on Toyota Blue Grass Day and driven by full fields of quality horses and competition among the nation’s top owners, trainers and jockeys.

All-sources wagering on Keeneland racing totaled $157,172,604 for the 16-day Spring Meet, held April 6-27, ranking just behind the record of $158,640,591 set during the 16-day 2013 Spring Meet, and a 14.39 percent increase from the $137,399,556 recorded during last year’s 15-day Spring Meet. Average daily all-sources wagering of $9,823,288 rose 7.24 percent from $9,159,970 in 2017.

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

Keeneland set wagering records for all-sources handle and Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools on Toyota Blue Grass Day, April 7. Total all-sources handle was $22,634,861, eclipsing the previous record of $21,736,983 set April 9, 2016. Wagering on the All-Stakes Pick Four ending in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) totaled $1,065,002 versus the previous record of $733,800 set April 8, 2017. The All-Stakes Pick Five handled $899,196, smashing the previous record of $653,827 from April 20, 2013.

A rollback from the takeout increase in the fall of 2017 was favorably received by horseplayers as evidenced by the substantial increase in all-sources handle.

Keeneland offered an early Pick 5 wager with a 15 percent takeout for the first time this meet on the first five races of each race day, and it was an unqualified success. Total handle for the wager over 16 days totaled $4,104,850, an average of $256,553 per day.

On-track attendance and wagering were just shy of last year’s Spring Meet totals despite inclement weather for the meet’s opening two weekends. Total attendance of 250,475 was nearly even with last spring’s 252,247. Average daily attendance of 15,655 was just short of the 16,816 in 2017.

A record crowd of 28,307 basked in the sun on Maker’s Mark Day, Friday, April 13, to surpass the previous Friday attendance mark of 24,734 established April 2, 2010. On Saturday, April 21, 37,378 fans, the fifth-highest single-day attendance in Keeneland history, celebrated the season with an afternoon of racing.

On-track wagering this spring was $17,457,750 compared to $17,668,979 last spring. Average daily on-track handle was $1,091,109 versus $1,177,932 in 2017.

“This was an exceptionally successful Spring Meet in so many ways – from near-record handle to robust attendance and racing of the highest caliber,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Mother Nature threw us a curve ball or two, but the sometimes inclement weather never dampened the tremendous enthusiasm of our fans. We are extremely grateful to the community, our horsemen and corporate partners for their tremendous support throughout the spring.”

Source: Keeneland

“Off the Charts” Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – May 10, 2018

the Big A race horseKEENELAND

RIVERBOAT GAMBLER (Race 2 at KEE, 4/18/18) – this first timer by the speedy Justin Phillip was put in a difficult spot breaking from the rail going 7 furlongs in his debut.  Despite those obstacles the Barbara Minshall runner ran very well and got for second behind a runaway winner. He’s owned by Bruce Lunsford who has had a lot of talented runners.

PARX

SPARTAN PRIDE (Race 9 at PRX, 5/7/18) – rallied strongly against the bias and against a slow pace scenario to just miss in this claiming route race to the logical winner.  This was his second consecutive unlucky trip.  Impressive effort.

CHURCHILL DOWNS

WONDER GADOT (Race 11, KY Oaks, CD 5/4/18) – 3yo daughter of Medaglia D’oro ran a huge race behind the Brad Cox beast.  Looked like she had the winner collared in mid stretch but that one fought back gamely to win the G1 Kentucky Oaks.  This Mark Casse runner is bread to run all day, and she will be very tough to beat next time out.

BACKYARD HEAVEN (Race 8, CD 5/4/18) – trainer Chad Brown has a real nice one on his hands (what else is new?).  This 4yo son of Tizway stepped up from bottom allowance company and won the G2 Alysheba so easily.  He looks like he is going to be a major player in the handicap ranks this year.

BUGLE NOTES (Race 3, CD 5/4/18) – trainer Todd Pletcher debuted this 3yo son of Ghostzapper and the colt had every reason to lose.  He broke slowly and then raced wide on the backstretch, but then he made a menacing move to take the lead and draw off as much the best.  He is out of a Seeking The Gold mare who has produced two stakes from four foals to race.

“Off the Charts” Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – April 29, 2018

track announcer with binocularsGULFSTREAM PARK

OPTIMISTIC SHOT (Race 5 at GP, 4/20/18) – Trappe Shot made a nice run at the winner who got away with a slow pace in this 7 furlong sprint. Never gave up en route to a solid 2nd place finish for a high percentage barn.  This was a winning effort.

KEENELAND

SPIKES SHIRL  (Race 8 at KEE, 4/12/18) – Dallas Stewart runner appreciated the return to sprinting and getting the blinkers back on. The daughter of Speightstown unleashed a powerful late run to score the 11-1 upset in this entry level allowance race.  She’s best sprinting.

OAKLAWN PARK

CITY OF LIGHT (Race 10 at OP, 4/14/18) – this four year old son of Quality Road is probably the best miler in the country but he had little trouble stretching out to 9 furlongs in taking the G2 Oaklawn Handicap.  Post 11 and first start outside of California was no problem for the Mike McCarthy runner.

MAGNUM MOON (Race 11 at OP, 4/14/18) – The G1 Arkansas Derby winner was most impressive.  He faced pressure throughout, put away a solid horse in Quip (who did re-rally) and drew off in the stretch.   The drifting out is little concern to me.  Undefeated Malibu Moon runner will attempt to break the ‘Apollo curse’ in Kentucky Derby 144.

“Off the Charts” Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – April 21, 2018

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

GULFSTREAM PARK

VIOLENT WAVE (Race 5 at GP, 4/6/18) – 3yo daughter of Violence closed willingly and sneaky good to just miss 2nd in a race won by the favorite.  Trainer Kathy Ritvo never has her firsters cranked up to win in their debut (5% win rate) so this was a very noteworthy effort by the well-bred filly.  Displayed some talent in the mornings, as well.

KEENELAND

ELECTRIC  FOREST (Race 3 at KEE, 4/7/18) – well bred firster was bet down to 5/2.  She broke slowly from the outside post and raced wide on the backstretch.  That didn’t stop this daughter of Curlin from continuing on in the lane and running down a frontrunner who had a great trip.  Big future ahead.

ANALYZE IT (Race 9 at KEE, 4/6/18) – what a surprise.  Trainer Chad Brown has another superstar turf horse in the making.  This 3yo son of Point Of Entry made easy work of a very good Grade 3 stakes field in his comeback race.  He has now won all three career starts by open lengths.  Total beast.

WHEATFIELD (Race 8 at KEE, 4/6/18) – this six year old mare was well meant on the drop in class and shipping in from Fair Grounds.  Jockey Luis Saez didn’t anticipate the trouble this one would encounter down the lane.  She was badly shut off and lost all chance at the 1/8th pole.  Needs pace to close into but she can rebound in the right spot.  She’s best at 6 furlongs and against non-graded stakes or allowance company.

ALMITHMAAR (Race 7 at KEE, 4/6/18)  – gelded son of Tapit for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin ran a bang-up race second time out and appears to have a bright future for Shadwell Stables.  Wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy in stakes company in the future.

DANCELAND (Race 8 at KEE, 4/11/18) – sneaky terrible trip on this layoff returnee for trainer Shug McGaughey.  This daughter of Tapit had “run” but was never given a chance to get into the clear and unleash her finish.  A winner last summer at Saratoga, she ended up well beaten in an effort that can be easily excused.  Moves forward second start back.

LADY APPLE (Race 2 at KEE, 4/12/18) – 2yo daughter of star Curlin, out of a Clever Trick stakes placed mare, ran a winning race but was second best behind the well-meant Wesley Ward firster Dragic.  Great pedigree and solid barn.  Should be very tough in second career start, pretty much anywhere.

 

“Off the Charts” Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – April 12, 2018

GULFSTREAM PARK

FERDINANDA (race 5 at GP, 3/31/18 FL Derby Day) – this daughter of Giant’s Causeway is a nose away from being three for three since trainer Barclay Tagg added Lasix.  Facing stakes company for the first time she flew home to just miss by a bob to the wire-to-wire winner who benefited from modest fractions.  This one will be tough next time out on the lawn.

STYLE ICON (race 7 at GP, 3/31/18) – trainer Graham Motion has a nice one in this Tampa shipper.  She was the only runner to close in this race and she encountered lots of trouble en route to her third place showing behind the Pletcher trainee.  The daughter of top turf sire Artie Schiller has finished well in both career races.

RHODE ISLAND (race 9 at GP, 3/31/18) – well meant second time starter on the grass for Shug McGaughey lost his best chance at the very start of this race.  He never gave up and continued on well.  This was only his second race and his first with blinkers on.  Half to four turf winners.

REP IPSA (race 10 at GP, 3/31/18) – despite her first race since October and facing a solid group in the G3 Honey Fox, this 5yo mare finished like a shot to just miss to the talented Lull, who took this field gate to wire.  Daughter of English Channel could be set for a strong year for Ian Wilkes.

KEENELAND

TRUE SAINT (Race 1 at KEE, 4/6/18) – the first race of the spring meet featured an impressive performance from this Bret Calhoun two year old.  The colt was steadied as they turned for home behind the even-money Wesley Ward frontrunner.  Lost nearly two lengths in momentum and then re-rallied to run that rival down in the late stages.  A lot of professionalism and talent from this baby.

Monomoy Girl the One to Beat in G1 Ashland Stakes

Press Release

Monomoy Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Monomoy Girl has been installed as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies entered for Saturday’s 81st running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland.

The 1 1/16-mile main track test offers 170 points toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 to fourth. The Oaks is limited to the top 14 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 21 points.

The Central Bank Ashland, one of five graded stakes races Saturday, will go as the ninth race on the 11-race program with a 5:45 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

Trained by Brad Cox and to be ridden by Florent Geroux, Monomoy Girl has won four of five career starts. In her lone 2018 outing, she won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17. Monomoy Girl’s only defeat was a runner-up finish by a neck in the Golden Rod (G2) in November at Churchill Downs.

Monomoy Girl will break from post position one.

copyright Rich Nilsen

Keeneland paddock (copyright All Star Press)

Second choice on the morning line at 2-1 is Magdalena Racing, Gainesway Stable and Harold Lerner’s Eskimo Kisses. Runner-up in the TwinSpires Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start on March 24, Eskimo Kisses will break from post position two. She is trained by two-time Central Bank Ashland winner Kenny McPeek and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

Lanerie is one of five riders to have won the Central Bank Ashland three times. A victory Saturday would make him the first to win the race in three consecutive years. Lanerie won with Hooh Why in 2009,Weep No More in 2016 and Sailor’s Valentine in 2017.

Other graded stakes winners in the field include Craig Upham’s Patrona Margarita and Don Alberto Corp.’s Andina Del Sur.

Trained by Bret Calhoun, Patrona Margarita won the Pocahontas (G2) in September at Churchill and did not return to the races until February when she finished fourth behind Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra. Patrona Margarita will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. and break from post position three.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Andina Del Sur will be making her main track debut Saturday. Winner of the Florida Oaks (G3) in her most recent start, Andina Del Sur has raced exclusively on turf in her four-race career. Julien Leparoux has the mount and will break from post position five.

The field for the Central Bank Ashland, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Monomoy Girl (Geroux, 4-5), Eskimo Kisses (Lanerie, 2-1), Patrona Margarita (Hernandez Jr., 15-1), C. S.Incharge (Luis Saez, 10-1), Andina Del Sur (Leparoux, 6-1), Ipanema Beach (Chris Landeros, 20-1) and Tyfosha (Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.