2019 Dubai World Cup Night: Almond Eye all the Rage in Dubai Turf

The super filly has been followed to Meydan by a huge team of Japanese media, who have been eagerly watching her morning workouts on the Meydan track. Trainer Sakae Kunieda admits that there could still be better to come from the four-year-old, who seems to have settled into Dubai well.

“Even I don’t know where her limit is yet,” Kunieda said. “She means a lot to me, giving us this opportunity to travel with her. She is a really special filly. She has relaxed into her Dubai surroundings very well.”

Connections have opted for the 1800m Dubai Turf, having considered a tilt at the 2410m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)—also worth $6 million—and it is a race in which her compatriots have fared well, winning three of the last five runnings.

Vivlos, the 2017 winner and last year’s runner-up, lines up once again. The 6-year-old mare finished a good second to Beauty Generation in the Longines Hong Kong Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in December. Group 1 winner Deirdre is a third member of Japan’s female team in Saturday’s race. The 4-year-old finished third in last year’s Dubai Turf (G1) and second in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) in December.

Saeed bin Suroor is the most-successful trainer in the Dubai Turf’s history, boasting six previous winners, including Benbatl in 2018. He will be looking to add more with the highly exciting Dream Castle, who has always been well-regarded. The son of Frankel has been better than ever this season, winning each of his three starts at Meydan, culminating in a 1¼-lengths success from Wootton in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday, March 9. The 5-year-old emulated Benbatl by winning both the Singspiel (G3) and Al Rashidiya (G2) before going one better than his illustrious stable companion in the Jebel Hatta. All three races are over this course and distance. Bin Suroor has a useful second string in the field in the shape of progressive 5-year-old Mountain Hunter, who has win his last two starts well in handicap company at Meydan.

“Dream Castle worked very nicely on Saturday and has had a brilliant year already,” Bin Suroor said. “Obviously, this is going to be a stronger race, but he has risen to every challenge we have given him this year.”

Wootton, like Dream Castle and Mountain Hunter, is owned by Godolphin. He re-opposes, having joined Charlie Appleby from French trainer Alex Pantall this season. His best performance last year came at Royal Ascot in June when finishing third to Without Parole in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (G1), a rival who lines up, as well. Representing iconic conditioner John Gosden and U.S. owner-breeders John and Tanya Gunther, the 4-year-old son of Frankel has looked in good shape in his morning spins around the Meydan training track.

The Dubai Turf is one of the few big races to evade Ireland’s record-breaking champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has saddled six previous runners, none of whom made the frame. His representative this year could scarcely be in better form as she heads to Meydan. I Can Fly, winner of last season’s Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown, warmed up in a conditions event at Dundalk on March 8 with an eight-length victory in which she was nothing short of dominant.

Irishman David O’Meara, based in North Yorkshire in Great Britain, has enjoyed top-level success when sending runners to the US and Canada and he bids to do the same in Dubai on Saturday with Lord Glitters. The 6-year-old won York’s Group 3 Strensall Stakes in August and rounded off his year when a close sixth to Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on British Champions Day, October 20.

Third that day was the Simon Crisford-trained Century Dream, who boasts two solid performances at Meydan in 2019. On Feb. 21, he finished three lengths second to Mythical Magic in the Zabeel Mile (G2) and went on to be fourth, behind Dream Castle and Wootton, in the Jebel Hatta.

For the first time since 2014, Hong Kong is represented in the Dubai Turf with trainer Caspar Fownes’ charge Southern Legend aiming to upset the apple cart in Saturday’s 1800m feature. The consistent 6-year-old was most recently closing at the finish when runner-up in he local Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin in February.

“It’s going to be a tough ask behind Almond Eye. I think the only view we might get of her is from behind,” said Fownes. “But our boy is doing nicely, he looks as good as he ever does and he’s walking around with a bounce in his step. We’ve been here a few times before but this is probably the best horse I’ve had here since Lucky Nine.”

Mike de Kock won consecutive runnings of the Dubai Turf in 2003 (Ipi Tombe) and 2004 (Right Approach) and he has two chances of getting win number three this year. Yulong Prince won the Grade 1 Daily News at Greyville in June when named Surcharge. He has changed names and joined De Kock after being bought privately in August by Chinese owner Zhang Yuesheng.

Mary Slack’s colours will be carried by stablemate Majestic Mambo, who had a pipe-opener for Saturday when sixth behind Dream Castel in the Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates Airline on March 9.

U Carrot Farm’s multiple Group 1-winner Rey de Oro will face off against familiar foes Cheval Grand and Suave Richard in Saturday night’s Group 1 $ 6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse. Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, the 5-year-old son of King Kamehameha has won seven of 12 career starts, while banking $7,952,951. He will make his seasonal debut with the services of jockey Christophe Lemaire from post six as he looks to avenge last year’s fourth-place effort in the 2410m test on the Meydan turf.

Rey de Oro is the richest of the three talented Japanese contenders, all bred at Northern Racing, in the eight-horse field. He captured his first Group 1, the prestigious Tokyo Yushun, in 2017 when three-quarter lengths the best of Suave Richard. At his best when tracking the leaders, Rey de Oro added a second Group 1 win in Tokyo last autumn with a 1¼-length win in the Tenno Sho over 2000m. The trio have kept close company in recent years, with Cheval Grand, trained by Yasuo Tomomichi for Kazuhiro Sasaki, notching his first Group 1 with a 1¼-length win over Rey de Oro in the 2017 renewal of the Japan Cup.

Cheval Grand, a 7-year-old Heart’s Cry chestnut, has post a record of 3-4-5 from 18 career starts. Last season, he went winless in five starts, but was narrowly denied victory in the spring edition of the Tenno Sho (G1), coming up a neck short of Rainbow Line. There is little to choose between Rey de Oro and Cheval Grand, who both arrive at the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic from the Group 1 Arima Kinen Grand Prix, where they finished second and third, respectively. Hugh Bowman has the call aboard Cheval Grand, a career earner of $7,930,746, for his Meydan debut from post one.

Suave Richard, with $4,457,211 in earnings, is more lightly raced than his fellow Japanese raiders with a record of 3-1-2 from 10 starts, but is capable of doubling his Group 1-tallies on Saturday night. A 5-year-old son of Heart’s Cry, Suave Richard broke through at the top flight with a three-quarter length score in the Osaka Hai over 2000m at Hanshin on April 1, 2018. Twice defeated by Rey de Oro, the Yasushi Shono charge, owned by NICKS Co., will need a big effort to notch his first win at the 2400m distance.

He arrives at the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic from a strong fourth, defeated less than two lengths, in the Group 2 Nakayama Kinen. Joao Moreira will take over from regular pilot Mirco Demuro as the duo leave from Post seven.

Trainer Aiden O’Brien will saddle Irish-breds Magic Wand and Hunting Horn as he looks for his second Longines Dubai Sheema Classic score, having previously captured the event in 2013 with St Nicholas Abbey. Last time out, Magic Wand, a 4-year-old daughter of Galileo, took on the boys for the first time in the inaugural Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, finishing second behind well-regarded Bricks and Mortar over a soggy Gulfstream Park turf.

With a career record of 2-1-1 from 13 starts, the multiple Group 1-placed bay showed an affinity for a distance of ground when second in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp in October. Magic Wand also picked up her first graded win at 2400m when four lengths the best in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot. Ryan Moore will pilot Magic Wand from barrier three.

Hunting Horn, a 4-year-old son of Camelot, has won just twice from 14 starts, having made the grade in the 2000m Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes in June at Ascot. He was narrowly denied a Group 2 win over 2400m in September when nosed out by Brundtland in the Qatar Prix Niel (G2). Through two starts in 2019, Hunting Horn has a pair of thirds to his credit. Wayne Lordan will have the call aboard Hunting Horn from post five .

Godolphin homebred Old Persian has a knack for having his picture taken with six wins from nine attempts for trainer Charlie Appleby. The 4-year-old Dubawi colt made a dramatic debut at Meydan in March when a nose the best over Racing History in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold. With three Group 2 wins from four starts at the distance, Old Persian will now be given his third attempt at a Grade 1-breakthrough. William Buick, aboard for the Dubai City of Gold score, retains the mount from two.

Desert Encounter, trained by David Simcock for Abdulla Al Mansoori, earned his Grade 1 stripes with an out-of-the-clouds score in the Canadian International at Woodbine. Last of 11 at the half, the 7-year-old Halling gelding made up considerable ground over the lengthy homestretch to finish a length the best of Thundering Blue in the 2400m classic. Jim Crowley, who guided Desert Encounter to a wide-traveling third last out in the Dubai City of Gold, retains the mount from eight.

Godolphin’s Racing History, a 7-year-old son of Pivotal, completes a compelling Longines Dubai Sheema Classic field. Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, Racing History is Group 1-placed at the distance, with a good second in the Grosser Preis von Bayern over a yielding Munich turf in 2016. However, with two wins from 11 starts, the lightly-raced gelding will require a career-best effort to topple the field. The Longines Dubai Sheema Classic will be the penultimate race on Saturday’s lucrative Dubai World Cup card.

2019 Thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine

Woodbine via WO FB pageWoodbine Entertainment has unveiled its stakes schedule for the 2019 Thoroughbred racing season highlighted by the prestigious $1 million Queen’s Plate and the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, which will kick off Woodbine’s championship fall turf season. The grand opening of Woodbine’s new inner turf course this spring will add a new level of excitement and competition to the mix.

Strengthened by the previously announced purse increases for 2019, the $16 million-plus stakes schedule consists of 95 stakes to be contested over the course of the 133-day meet, running from April 20 to December 15.

The 160th edition of the Queen’s Plate, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing starring the finest Canadian-bred three-year-olds, will be contested on Saturday, June 29. Woodbine will also host the final Triple Crown leg, the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, on Saturday, Aug. 17.

With an increased purse guaranteed at $1 million for the 2019 running of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, the Grade 1 stakes event will mark the start of Woodbine’s championship turf season. One of three Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ events on the stakes calendar, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is set for Saturday, Sept. 14 with a strong undercard including the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Grade 1).

Great Woodbine Stakes on Tap

The $250,000 Natalma Stakes and companion Summer Stakes, both Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races for two-year-olds, will follow a stakes-filled Ricoh Woodbine Mile day on Sunday, Sept. 15. With the highly anticipated opening of the inner turf course this year, Woodbine will offer a pair of new $100,000 stakes for two-year-olds on the September 15 undercard called the Ontario Racing Stakes and the Woodbine Cares Stakes for fillies, both to be run over the pristine green at five furlongs.

The $800,000 Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1), another premier race that annually attracts top international turf talent, will be contested at the height of the fall stakes season on Saturday, Oct. 12. The E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1), with a purse increased to $600,000, is among the usual supporting features that day and will serve as the final leg of Woodbine’s new Ladies of the Lawn Series, which offers $75,000 in bonuses to the top performers based on points accumulated in the designated graded turf routes for fillies and mares. The series also includes the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (Grade 2), $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Grade 2) and $250,000 Canadian Stakes (Grade 2).

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser will headline the track’s first signature race day of the meet on Saturday, June 8 as Canadian-bred three-year-old fillies begin their bid for the Triple Tiara. The Woodbine Oaks will be accompanied by the Plate Trial Stakes in addition to a 6-1/2-furlong stakes race to be held on the turf for three-year-old fillies, which will be named in 2019 in honour of the late William D. Graham, a long-time Woodbine Entertainment Director and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame breeder who passed away in January.

Canadian Millions Night is another annual highlight of the season that will showcase the top Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Yearling Sales graduates over six stakes with a total of $750,000 in purses up for grabs on Wednesday, Aug. 28.

With the early season Jacques Cartier Stakes upgraded from Listed Status to Grade 3 by The Jockey Club of Canada’s Graded Stakes Committee, Woodbine’s stakes schedule includes a total of 41 graded stakes.

The Charlie Barley Stakes, Grade 3 Ontario Colleen, Eternal Search (formerly called the Victoriana), Vice Regent and Ontario Damsel will shift over from the E.P. Taylor Turf Course to the new inner turf course.

The Achievement Stakes has been retitled the Greenwood Stakes to celebrate the second annual trackside social affair hosted by The Social Concierge.

Woodbine’s popular Turf Endurance Series will return this year with $40,000 in bonuses available for the top performers competing in the four legs from July through October. New competitions this year include a Turf Sprint Series on the new inner course with qualifiers and semi-finals before culminating in a $75,000 final under the lights on Wednesday, Aug. 21. Woodbine will also present a $50,000 Early Bird Starter Handicap on Wednesday, May 29.

Woodbine will again be offering its Graded Stakes Bonus Program in 2019 with increased bonuses up to $75,000 for incoming graded stakes winners. Horses that have won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 stakes race in the current year will receive a $50,000 bonus for winning a Grade 2 stakes race at Woodbine and $75,000 for winning a Grade 1 stakes race at Woodbine.

To view the complete stakes lineup for Woodbine’s 2019 Thoroughbred racing season, visit Woodbine.com.

This Track Will Offer Monster-sized Purses

Press Release

Highlighted by two new graded-stakes events and a record $8.4 million in purses and supplemental Kentucky-bred monies, Kentucky Downs will offer one of the world’s most lucrative racing programs during its five-day, all-turf season Sept. 2 – 14.|

With the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint and $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf enjoying Grade 3 status for the first time, three of the track’s 13

stakes are now graded. The stakes duo joins the Grade 3, $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs, which along with New York’s Belmont Park were the only tracks to gain more than one newly-graded stakes.

Graded stakes are those judged the best in America by the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association’s American Graded Stakes Committee. The Turf Sprint and Ladies Turf are among only eight in the United States and Canada that received new Grade 3 rankings for 2017.

A record $8,404,000 will be offered in purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements at the meet, for an average exceeding $1.68 million a day — tops in the country. Even horses that aren’t registered Kentucky-breds will compete for some of the biggest pots in the country.

The mushrooming of purses is fueled by what horsemen earn through historical horse racing, an innovative pari-mutuel technology that allows patrons to bet on previously-run races for a different type of wagering experience.

“By working with our horsemen and embracing historical horse racing, Kentucky Downs is able to offer unprecedented purses. The owners and trainers have responded and now we’re getting over the hump to attract graded status for our stakes,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “Success will breed success, we believe exponentially. Additional graded stakes are so important, because that provides trainers from across the country more reasons to come for a short meet. And as they make plans for their Kentucky Downs’ contingent, we encourage them to put additional horses on the flight or van to go after our $130,000 maiden races, with allowance races $140,000 and $145,000 offered for Kentucky-breds, which comprise the vast majority of our horses.

“We want to be the prototype, to demonstrate how historical horse racing can be a game-changer for the good as an alternative gambling opportunity based on horse racing and which intrinsically is our product.”

The 1 1/2-mile Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, for which Skychai Racing’s Da Big Hoss is the two-time defending champion, will be conducted on the same blockbuster card Saturday, Sept. 9, as the 6 1/2-furlong Turf Sprint, mile Ladies Turf and $350,000 Ladies Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs. The Turf Sprint received a $50,000 purse hike over 2016.

Kentucky Downs added a 3-year-old stakes: the $250,000 Franklin-Simpson to be held at seven-eighths of a mile on Thursday, Sept. 14, which is closing day.

Two stakes have new names paying tribute to past winners. The $400,000 Tourist Mile, formerly the More Than Ready Mile, honors WinStar Farm’s winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile, Eclipse Award finalist and current WinStar stallion. Tourist won the stakes now bearing his name in 2015 off a 10-month layoff.

The 1 5/16-mile stakes for fillies and mares formerly known as the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon now is the $350,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes, recognizing the track and Kentucky’s all-time winningest owner in Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Nicholasville farm. The Ramseys won the stakes last year with Al’s Gal, who in her next start captured Woodbine’s Grade 1 E.P. Taylor. The Ramsey Farm also is on the closing card.

The Tourist Mile has been moved to Saturday, Sept. 2, which features a stakes quartet on the opening card. Also that day: The $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies and $150,000 One Dreamer for fillies and mares.

Kentucky Downs is staging two additional $75,000 starter-allowance races for a total of four on Sunday, Sept. 10 that will serve as automatic qualifying races for the Claiming Crown in December at Gulfstream.

The Claiming Crown, which totaled $1.1 million in purses last year, serves as a Breeders’ Cup-style championship for claiming horses — the work horses of American racing.

The new Claiming Crown Canterbury Stakes Prep at Kentucky Downs, at 6 1/2 furlongs, will be for 3-year-olds and older horses that have raced for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2016. The Claiming Crown Distaff Dash Stakes Prep at Kentucky Downs is the filly and mare counterpart. Also back for the second year are the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes Prep at Kentucky Downs and Claiming Crown Tiara Prep at Kentucky Downs, both a mile and 70 yards.

Winners of the qualifying races are guaranteed a spot in the corresponding Claiming Crown race, with Kentucky Downs providing a shipping stipend of up to $1,000 and the $100 nomination fee.

“We are putting out our stakes schedule and condition book 4 1/2 months in advance to give horsemen plenty of time to chart out their summer and fall schedule,” said racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer. “We constantly work to improve our entire racing program in order to attract horses and horsemen from across the country and even overseas. We also appreciate that our bread and butter is the Kentucky horsemen, who have consistently proven that their horses hold their own no matter who shows up.

“Our Claiming Crown qualifiers provide big-money steppingstones to the championship for our blue-collar horses, allowing those owners and trainers their own day in the spotlight.”

Kentucky Downs’ 2017 stakes

Including KTDF supplements for Kentucky-breds

Saturday, Sept. 2 — $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, 2yo fillies, 7 furlongs; $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, 2yos, 7 furlongs; $400,000 Tourist Mile, 3-year-olds & up, mile; $150,000 One Dreamer, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, mile and 70 yards. Thursday, Sept. 7 — $150,000 The Old Friends Stakes, 3-year-olds & up, mile and 70 yards. Saturday, Sept. 9 — $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), fillies & mares 3 years old & up, mile; $400,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), 3-year-olds & up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles; $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, 6 1/2 furlongs. Sunday, Sept. 10 — $350,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 5/16 miles; $200,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 5/16 miles. Sept. 14 — $350,000 Ramsey Farm, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, 1 5/16 miles; $250,000 Franklin-Simpson, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #22 – The MTO

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Art Parker

Always take special note when you see the words “Main Track Only” next to the name of an entrant. This positioning is the action of the trainer and it simply means that if the race is taken off the turf then the horse is eligible to run in the field. If the race remains on the turf then the horse will be a scratch. There are several interpretations of this move but what you need to closely examine is the condition of the horse and the conditions of the race. If the horse appears to be in good shape and if the horse fits the conditions well, then pay closer attention.

Oftentimes this means that the trainer knows he has a runner ready to roll and this was the best race he could find. If things do not make sense, such as the runner has a terrible main track record or usually competes at a lower level, then the horse is probably in the race for a workout. Always give MTOs a closer look.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #21 – The Right Track Surface?

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

By Art Parker

Are you sure of the surface of the upcoming race? A player must pay close attention to all races carded for the turf because sometimes one or more of the grass races will be moved to the main track. Races are taken off the turf for several reasons, usually due to excessive moisture on the course. A change of surface can affect everything when it comes to the handicapping process. All changes are usually announced several times and posted on the tote board and monitors. Yet many players see the word TURF in the conditions and they forget that things may have changed. Not all turf races are taken off the turf and this makes things more complicated.   For example, just this past weekend a race was taken off the turf at Gulfstream Park with only three minutes to post.  If a track has three races carded for the turf it may not change the surface on all of the turf races. This is when alertness is the best handicapping tool you have.

The Fork in the Road

Horseplayer’s Decision Time

by Rich Nilsen

When we arrive at the fork in the road, which path we choose plays a major role in our future success as horseplayers. Each time we come to the split, the decision we make reaffirms the type of bettor we have become, be it good or bad. Fortunately, it is never too late to take the right path, just harder. One of those forks in the road, for me, came two decades ago at Churchill Downs.

SINAN CIERO deserved to be the public choice in the last race of the day at Churchill Downs on June 5, 1996. Winner of his only start while earning an “off the chart” Speed Rating (99) for a first time starter, Sinan Ciero appeared to have tremendous potential. This was a well-bred horse by a top young sire and out of a good producing mare who had already thrown a turf winner.  He had the looks of a future stakes horse.

On the BRIS Ultimate Past Performances, the favorite’s pedigree stats read as follows:

SIRE: 21% turf, 27% 1st Turf, 6.2 AWD (Average Winning Distance)

DAM: 1 turf winner, 9 starters, 6 winners [at the time of the race]

Sinan Ciero was making his first start on the grass, a surface he was obviously bred for, and he was stretching out to one mile. With an outstanding figure earned in his six-furlong maiden win and sporting two workouts over the Churchill lawn, Sinan Ciero seemed more than capable of winning this race.

Most within the wagering public seemed to see the same thing because Sinan Ciero was being bet down below even-money in this field. On the surface, this race appeared fairly weak, so he looked formidable at 4-5. The chink in the armor, of course, was that this was an inexperienced horse trying a new surface and two turns for the first time. No big deal, right?

In the field of twelve, only one other runner, MAJESTIC RANSOM, had the type of pedigree stats that screamed “I want turf, please!” Making his grass debut, Majestic Ransom had the following turf pedigree:

SIRE: 24% turf, 21% 1st Turf, 7.3 AWD

DAM: 1 turf winner, 5 starters, 5 winners  [at the time of the race]

Horse racing PPs

copyright Brisnet.com

Exiting a win in a conditioned $25,000 claimer, Majestic Ransom did not have the “future stakes horse” look that the favorite had, but he was in sharp form and bred just as well for the lawn. Majestic Ransom had run a 92 Speed Rating in his recent win and also had won a Maiden Special Weight race two back, running a 91 fig in the mud. It was worth noting that Majestic Ransom’s sire, Red Ransom, had a much higher AWD than Dayjur, indicating that the stretch out in distance should be easier for him than for the favorite.

Majestic Ransom opened at 8-1, which was slightly below his 10-1 morning line.  Shortly after the post parade, the odds on Majestic Ransom began to drift up as Sinan Ciero continued to hover around 4-5.

What’s a horseplayer to do? This race was the classic example of the dilemma that handicappers face on a regular basis. All horseplayers at one time or another have fallen into the trap of assuming a horse will win just because he is a prohibitive favorite.

“Well, he looks like a future superstar,” they think to themselves, “and someone is betting him heavy, so he’s probably unbeatable. I’ll key him on top in the exotics.  I’ll key him in the Pick-4.”

With experience, many handicappers are able to overcome that detrimental thinking and take advantage of opportunities like the one that was presented in this race.

When it came to pedigree for the turf, there was not much separating Sinan Ciero from Majestic Ransom. However, the same could not be said for the pari-mutuel odds.  As the horses were nearing the gate, the former was 4-5 and the latter was 13-1. The decision was easy. Take the high road and bet Majestic Ransom.

The astute horseplayers who strayed from the masses were well rewarded on this day. As the latches sprung open, Majestic Ransom pounced to the early lead, while Sinan Ciero broke sluggishly and went wide in his first race around two turns.  The favorite was finished after six furlongs, but Majestic Ransom cruised home easily by three lengths. He topped an unbelievable $41,141.50 superfecta while returning $28.60, $12.40 and $9.00 across the board.

Making the decision to key on a horse such as Majestic Ransom instead of Sinan Ciero is the difference between being a winning horseplayer and a losing one.  It takes conviction and experience. It is important to remember that no one makes money doing the same thing that everyone else is doing. The Majestic Ransoms will not win all the time, but they will be victorious often enough to make it worthwhile in the long run.

When you come to the fork in the road with two horses of similar credentials but vastly different odds, take the less crowded highway. When you reach your destination, the payoff is always more rewarding.

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