About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-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.

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-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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How Professional Handicapper Sean Boarman Won the 2023 BCBC

SEAN BOARMAN DECLARED OFFICIAL WINNER OF 2023 BREEDERS’ CUP BETTING CHALLENGE
Kentucky Native Made Winning Score on Breeders’ Cup Sprint Exacta to Claim Largest Payday in Tournament History

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 2023) ― Collecting more than $120,000 in the final race of the tournament and taking down the largest winning total in event history, Kentucky native Sean Boarman has been declared the official winner of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) presented by Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel. The announcement was made upon completion of a full audit, in accordance with BCBC rules and regulations.

The 15th annual BCBC, Thoroughbred racing’s biggest live-money tournament, drew a record 571 entries as top horseplayers wagered Nov. 3-4 on the 40th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

The tournament players generated an all-time contest-record wagering handle of $7,759,434. Over $4.6 million of that total was wagered at Santa Anita Park, representing more than 23.6% of the total on-track handle.

In the 2023 BCBC, each player was required to fund a $2,500 buy-in and a $7,500 betting bankroll ($10,000 total).  All buy-in monies were applied to the prize pool, making the total prize pool $1,427,500. Players made real wagers (win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and daily double) with their $7,500 bankroll and kept all monies earned from their wagering.

Boarman, 43, finished with a total score of 231,238 points. Combined with his first-place prize of $411,125, he earned a grand total of $642,363, the highest total any player has achieved in BCBC history. Kevan Strom of Niskayuna, New York finished second, with 215,453 points, and with his $274,075 prize money added, he amassed a total of $489,528. Mike Mulvihill of Palatine, Illinois finished third with 173,160 points, and combined with prize money of $148,450, he earned a grand total of $321,610.

In addition to those playing at Santa Anita, players competed from satellite locations at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Players also participated online at TVG.com ― the official wagering partner of Breeders’ Cup ― well as numerous ADW locations including HPI in Canada and domestic ADW’s Xpressbet.com, and NYRABets.com.

Boarman, born and raised in Lexington, became interested in horse racing more than 20 years ago while a student at the University of Kentucky. He still lives in Lexington with his wife and two children.

“Winning the BCBC is obviously a huge financial windfall, but it means much more than that to me,” said Boarman. “I was very confident going into the contest that I had a good strategy mapped out and to see that come to fruition against the best of the best in the BCBC is very gratifying.”  

 

How Sean Boarman Won the 2023 BCBC

Boarman’s strategy centered around putting himself into position to make a large wager on White Abarrio in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). He achieved that when he landed a $6,500 daily double wager on Inspiral (GB) capturing the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with Goodnight Olive taking the PNC Bank Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). That wager yielded approximately $36,000. Three races later, his win bet on White Abarrio returned $126,000, and set him up in third place overall with two races remaining.

“I knew that I did not want to risk the entire 126,000 in order to win the contest, and ultimately settled on making a $20,000 bet in the last race, the [Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup] Sprint (G1).” Boarman recalled. “I played a $16,000 exacta with Elite Power on top of Gunite and $4,000 worth of saver trifectas with Gunite third, as insurance.”

The exacta play returned $128,000, boosting his point total to more than $231,000 and securing the BCBC title.

“I am particularly proud of finding a way to make a winning wager using my handicapping opinion of the last race without risking my entire bankroll to do so,” Boarman added.

Complete tournament results are available here. Participant Vince Foglia made a place wager on his own horse, a violation of BCBC rules which was discovered during the audit. As a result, the winnings from this non-approved wager ($14,000) were deducted from the final score, which resulted in Foglia dropping from 8th place to 13th place in the final standings.

ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP

Breeders’ Cup Limited administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races through an 80-race series hosted by 11 countries, and the U.S.-based Dirt Dozen Bonus Series. The Breeders’ Cup supports and operates under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which, for the first time, establishes a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack. HISA seeks to enhance the safety of both horse and rider and to protect the integrity of the sport to the benefit of all racing participants, fans, and bettors.

The 2023 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Grade 1 Championship races, and $31 million in purses and awards, was held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The Championships will return to the West Coast the next two years in Del Mar, California, set to host Nov. 1-2. The 2024 Championships will be televised live by NBC Sports. Press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, BreedersCup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.

Cody Wish’s Story Leaves a Mark with Breeders’ Cup Horsemen

In a statement online today, November 6, 2023, the family posted that Cody Dorman passed away on the trip back to Kentucky following his namesake’s dramatic victory in the BC Dirt Mile.

From BreedersCup.com prior to the win by  Cody’s Wish in the Dirt Mile:

Those who ply their trade on backstretches from Belmont Park to Churchill Downs to Santa Anita Park have all heard the story.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone in horse racing who doesn’t know about the tug-at-the-heart relationship between Godolphin’s Cody’s Wish and Cody Dorman.

“If there is a better story than this one, I don’t know it. Do you?” Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse said.

The 5-year-old horse, the 9-5 morning line favorite in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), met up with his best pal, 17-year-old Cody Doman late Thursday afternoon.

“We are all pulling for him,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said about the two Codys. “I am running against him (with Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure), but I think this is just great.”

Cody Dorman, along with his dad Kelly, mom Leslie and 10-year-old sister Kylie made the trip from Kentucky to root for Cody’s Wish.

They had a personal, half-hour meet-and-greet with the horse and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Cody Dorman, who is able to communicate via tablet, gobbles up all things Cody’s Wish. He can watch videos of the horse training or walking or racing for hours on end. His bedroom at home is filled with all things Cody.

It’s a love affair that has been going on since young Cody, who was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare genetic disease, met Cody’s Wish when he was a foal in 2018.

“This story touches everyone,” said Nora McCormack, an exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. “If you don’t feel something when you see or hear about this story… I’ll be rooting for Cody, but I’ll also be rooting for us.”

Pletcher will be represented by Charge It in the Dirt Mile.

McCormack knows the special connection a horse can have with a human. She has been working for Pletcher for five years and has been the exercise rider for the champion filly, Nest.

“When Nest came in as a baby, I rode her every day,” she said. “She was so sweet on the track. We were best friends. We get very attached to these horses. You trust them and they trust you.”

The Cody Dorman-Cody’s Wish love story gained steam when the horse won the Dirt Mile last year. It has made the youngster a rock star as he and his four-legged friend’s friendship has been chronicled by media outlets throughout the land.

It has proven to many what those who work closely with these Thoroughbreds have always known.

“These horses can bring so much joy,” Baffert said. “Being around horses can distract you from things that are negative in your life. They are so noble and beautiful. To see the (Dorman) parents and the kids watching this horse … it brings so much joy to them. It’s a feel-good story and, right now, we need feel-good stories in racing.”

Casse always has been one who wants to share his horses with the public. He trained the great Tepin, a two-time Eclipse Award-winning mare who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2022.

People loved Tepin and Tepin loved people.

“A lot of horses are loving,” Casse said.

He can relate to the bond between Cody’s Wish and Cody Dorman. And, like everyone else, he wants to see a happy ending in the Dirt Mile, which is the 16th and final race of Cody’s Wish career.

“Oh, I’ll be rooting for him,” Casse said. “I want it all to go good.”

Nilsen’s Simple Pace Report for 2 Days of Breeders’ Cup 2023

Simple Pace Report covers both days of the Breeders’ Cup: Nov. 3-4, 2023 at Santa Anita 

  • Pace Forecasts for every race
  • Covering 2 days – all 22 races for Friday and Saturday!
  • New feature identifies the horses that will benefit from the pace scenario!
  • Lone speed runners identified***

New and improved report identifies the horses that will benefit from the pace and race shape! Handicappers know that one of the most critical elements to selecting winners is to evaluate the pace. That’s where the Simple Pace Report comes in.  Based on decades of experience, the Simple Pace Report utilizes an algorithm that analyzes expert pace ratings, running styles and unique horse tendencies to arrive at an accurate forecast for each race. European horses incoporated into the runstyle analysis.

Leaders marked with * hold a possible pace advantage and should be seriously considered.  Horses marked in gray/bold figure to benefit from the expected pace scenario and are must-uses in exotic wagers, vertical and horizontal.

Get both tracks in ONE DOWNLOAD for one low price! Download this 4-page PDF file to any device for only $12

 

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

NYRA to raise purses for 2024 NY-bred foal crop

by Pat McKenna

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced a significant investment in the future of the New York-bred program, paving the way for the 2024 New York-bred foal crop to compete for some of the richest purses of any state-bred program in the nation.

Beginning on January 1, 2026, NY-bred overnight races for 2-year-olds on the NYRA circuit will offer purse amounts matching the race’s open-company counterpart. Accordingly, the 2024 New York-bred foal crop will gain the benefits and financial rewards that will flow from purse parity.

walking horse through Saratoga crowdAt the 2023 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, maiden races restricted to New York-bred 2-year-olds featured a purse of $88,000 compared to a purse of $105,000 offered for 2-year-olds competing in an open-company maiden event.

While this purse increase will impact only the 2024 New York-bred foal crop, NYRA intends to further expand purse parity for additional categories of New York-bred races in the future.

In 2022, NYRA conducted 556 races exclusively for registered New York-breds with purses totaling $42,366,000. Among those races were 56 stakes with $8,725,000 of purse money on offer. NYRA holds three high profile NY-bred showcase days annually, highlighted by New York Showcase Day at Saratoga Race Course. In 2023, Saratoga Showcase Day was run on the Sunday of Travers Weekend and featured a whopping 113 NY-breds competing in 11 races, including six stakes worth a combined $1.25 million.

As a result of the partnership between NYRA and FOX Sports, nearly every NY-bred contest is broadcast live to a national audience on the FOX Sports family of networks. Both Saratoga Live and America’s Day at the Races, which are produced by NYRA, have generated sustained ratings growth since they were launched nationally in 2016.

“The New York-bred program is critically important to the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State,” said Dave O’Rourke, NYRA President & CEO. “This new purse structure increases the value of the upcoming foal crop of New York-breds, and reflects NYRA’s commitment to the owners, breeders and trainers who choose to breed and race in New York.”

Beyond the rich purses offered by NYRA, a variety of owner, breeder and stallion awards are available to those who breed and race in New York. These lucrative incentives serve as a significant benefit to thoroughbred breeding farms across the state, which create and sustain thousands of jobs in every corner of New York.

“This initiative is a strong signal to the bloodstock market on why you should breed and foal in New York, and own a New York-bred to race,” said Najja Thompson, Executive Director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. (NYTB). “New York-breds compete and win at the highest levels, and NYRA’s consistent support guarantees more opportunities than ever for New York State’s breeders and owners.”

New York State has adopted rules that expand the reach of the New York-bred awards and benefits by clarifying a pathway for non-resident mares to gain residency status. According to the rule changes, a non-resident mare purchased in foal through public auction is deemed a resident mare provided the mare is purchased for at least $50,000 in the public auction; is present in the state of New York within 15 days after a sale in North America and 60 days at any public auction sale abroad; the foal is foaled in New York; and the mare thereafter is continuously in residence in New York from within 120 days after her last cover in the year of conception of another foal and remains in residency until foaling.

“It pays to participate in the New York-bred program,” added Thompson. “And bringing a mare back to New York is a valuable proposition, especially for the 2024 foaling season.”

For additional information on resident and non-resident mares and their foals, visit https://www.nybreds.com/rules/resident-non-resident-mares.

To support the residency rule, NYRA and The New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund (NYTBDF) provide up to $650,000 per year in purse bonuses to owners. The bonus offers $5,000 every time a New York-sired New York-bred wins at the maiden special weight or allowance level at NYRA’s tracks.

Source: NYRA

Top European Turf Runner Ace Impact Retired

Unbeaten Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Ace Impact has been retired to stud.

Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, the three-year-old has enjoyed an exemplary campaign, rising through the ranks from a Cagnes-Sur-Mer all-weather win in January to an electrifying length-and-three-quarters victory in the ParisLongchamp showpiece at the start of this month.

After his initial win in January, Rouget bided his time until sending Ace Impact for a conditions win in April, with a Listed success coming the following month.

Upped to Group One level for the Prix du Jockey Club after that, the son of Cracksman showed his trademark turn of foot to win the French equivalent of the Derby by three and a half lengths from Big Rock.

Read more about Ace Impact

Look for this horse in the company lines of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Past Performances!

How to Watch the Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita

How to Watch the 2023 Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita

Live Coverage of Nov. 3-4 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park will be featured on NBC, Peacock, USA Network, and FanDuel TV

Here is the broadcast coverage schedule for the 40th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The two-day championship event will be shown live across NBC, Peacock, USA Network, and FanDuel TV on Friday and Saturday.

Arrogate BC 2016 winners circleThis year’s Breeders’ Cup begins Nov. 3 with Future Stars Friday, featuring all five Breeders’ Cup World Championships races for 2-year-olds. There will be four undercard races preceding the first Breeders’ Cup race on Friday’s 10-race program, with the first race post time at 2:30 p.m. ET.

USA Network and FanDuel TV will both televise the first day of this year’s World Championships. USA Network coverage will take place from 4-8 p.m. ET and will include one undercard race and all five Breeders’ Cup races, concluding with the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at 7:40 p.m. ET. FanDuel TV coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET with the first undercard race and will conclude with undercard Race #10 at 8:10 p.m. ET.

Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Schedule

Nine Breeders’ Cup races anchor a 12-race card on Saturday, Nov. 4. First post is 1:10 p.m. ET, with two undercard races preceding the first Breeders’ Cup race, which will have a post time of 2:30 p.m. ET.

The USA Network coverage on Saturday is from 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET, followed by an extended 3 1/2 hours of live programming on NBC and Peacock from 3:30-7 p.m. ET that will feature five World Championship races, concluding their coverage with the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Post time for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, Race #9, will be 6:40 p.m. ET. The Classic will lead into NBC Sports’ Big Ten Football coverage.

FanDuel TV will also televise the first two undercard races and eight of the nine Breeders’ Cup World Championships races on Saturday. Following the running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic on NBC and Peacock, FanDuel TV will televise the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and will conclude its coverage with a final undercard race with a post time of 8:32 p.m. ET.

This year marks the first time that Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be held after the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The official race order and final post times for the 2023 World Championships will be released on Oct. 25.

ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP

Breeders’ Cup Limited administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races through an 80-race series hosted by 11 countries, and the U.S.-based Dirt Dozen Bonus Series. The Breeders’ Cup supports and operates under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which, for the first time, establishes a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack. HISA seeks to enhance the safety of both horse and rider and to protect the integrity of the sport to the benefit of all racing participants, fans, and bettors.

The 2023 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Grade 1 Championship races, and $31 million in purses and awards, is scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The Championships will return to the West Coast in 2024 with Del Mar in Del Mar, California, set to host Nov. 1-2. The Championships will be televised live by NBC Sports. Press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, BreedersCup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.

Source: edited press release

Industry Profile: Jockey Ray Sibille Enters LA Sports Hall of Fame

With the first of his 4,264 winners coming on June 29, 1969 at Evangeline Downs in his native Louisiana, the highlight of jockey Ray Sibille’s 35-year career came on Nov. 5, 1988, when he guided a 5-year-old gelding named Great Communicator to a gutty half length victory over a course softened by rain in the Grade I, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. While that was undoubtedly the highlight of his career, Sibille experienced a once-in-a-lifetime thrill off the track when it was announced Wednesday that he would be inducted into the prestigious Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as part of its class of 2024 in June.

“You know, to these guys down here, going into the Louisiana Hall of Fame is better than the Saratoga Hall of Fame,” quipped Sibille, who rode full-time in Southern California from 1981 prior to shifting his tack to Northern California in 1992. “I stayed out of trouble, for the most part and now, looking back on my career, it’s a really good feeling knowing that you accomplished a lot and treated people right.

“When I first started out, every young jockey was under contract and you learned the fundamentals of horsemanship. A trainer named Buster Leger had my contract and boy, you had to work. No goin straight home after you galloped some horses. You had to groom ‘em, do the bandages, take care of their feet, do everything. And then, if we were running at night, you ponied horses to the gate.

Jockey Chris Emigh still hoping racing at Arlington can be savedI had an agent named Jimmy Daigrepont. We went to Chicago and right away at Arlington, I was third-leading rider and I thought, ‘Man, this is pretty good.’ We were together there about nine years and he did a great job. I was leading rider a few times at all three tracks, Arlington, Sportsman’s and at Hawthorne.”

In 1981, Sibille followed his lifetime friend, Eddie Delahoussaye, to Southern California in the fall of 1981 with legendary trainer “King” Richard Hazelton.

“Eddie and me were together from the time I was 14. He started riding full time out there in 1978 and I came out with Richard just to ride the Orange County Fair Meet at Los Alamitos,” Sibille recalled. “Well, Richard went back home at the end of the meet and I stayed.”

Indeed he did, becoming a fixture in a Santa Anita/Hollywood Park and Del Mar Jockeys’ Room that at the time, included the likes of Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron, Sandy Hawley, Fernando Toro, Patrick Valenzuela and others.

Regarding his biggest moment on the track, Great Communicator’s win in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Turf, run at a mile and one half over a grass course listed as “good,” Sibille fondly recalls the entire day, including a college football result.

“I didn’t really realize the magnitude of that race until I got the (Breeders’ Cup) ring, that’s when it really sunk in,” said Sibille, who currently works as an association clocker at Evangeline Downs, which is 12 miles from his place of birth and current home in Sunset, LA. “The other thing about that day is, I was in the jocks’ room all day and I was watching LSU and Alabama.

“I went out and rode the race (which went off at 5 p.m. ET) and did all the interviews after the race, with about 20 reporters. Then I got back in jocks’ room just in time to see LSU kick the game-winning field goal. We hadn’t beat Alabama in about 20 years, so that was the icing on the cake.

“And then the most amazing thing about that day was when I walked out of the interview room right behind the paddock at Churchill Downs. When I walked out into the paddock, I said ‘It’s dark!’ And they still had five minutes to the Classic with Alysheba. ‘How they gonna run this race, it’s dark?’ Well, they did, and Alysheba won it.”

Trained by fellow Cajun Thad Ackel, Great Communicator was a Kentucky-bred by Key to the Kingdom. With Sibille up, he had a sensational year throughout 1988, winning not only the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but prior to that the San Luis Obisbo, San Marcos and San Juan Capistrano Handicaps at Santa Anita and the Hollywood Turf Cup across town at Hollywood Park.

So, what in Ray Sibille’s opinion does a jockey need, besides good horses, to have a long, successful career?

“Well, back when we first started, we raced six days a week and took Sundays off,” he said. “So, we’d stay out all night on Saturday and sleep all day Sunday. But I’ll say this, the last 15 years I rode, I worked out a lot and I took care of myself really good…Didn’t drink near as much. And I guess that’s what kept me around for so long…I got a whole lot smarter and if you’re going to have a long career, you gotta make those adjustments.”

A winner of the 2005 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Ray Sibille, who was born Sept. 13, 1952, will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in late June along with several other Louisiana legends including Drew Brees, who quarterbacked the New Orleans Saints to victory in the 2010 Super Bowl.

–Mike Willman, source: SantaAnita.com

What’s Happening at Santa Anita This Weekend

by Victor Ryan for Santa Anita

HONG KONG HARRY RETURNS IN CONTENTIOUS GII CITY OF HOPE

As would be expected when running the top turf barn in California, trainer Phil D’Amato looks to have a pair of live chances in Saturday’s GII City of Hope at a mile on turf.

Set to go for D’Amato are multiple graded-stakes winner Hong Kong Harry, who has been off since the GI Shoemaker Mile here May 29, and Cathkin Peak, who was a close-up second in last year’s City of Hope.

Santa Anita San Gabriel

copyright Cheryl Ann Quigley

In the Shoemaker Mile, Hong Kong finished third by 1 ½ lengths to winner Exaulted, who earned an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup Mile with the victory and is bypassing the City of Hope. Hong Kong Harry was subsequently given the summer off by design before returning to the work tab in late July at Del Mar.

In the City of Hope, Hong Kong Harry will be ridden for the first time by Santa Anita’s perennial leading rider Juan Hernandez.

“We freshened him up and he’s come back in good order,” D’Amato said of the 6-year-old Irish-bred gelding. “He’ll have a new pilot and hopefully he’s ready to go.”

Cathkin Peak was most recently a troubled seventh, beaten 2 ¾ lengths, in the GII Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles. The City of Hope will be his third start following a nearly 10-month layoff.

“We experimented running him 1 3/8 miles last time and I think it was a little too far, so we’re going to cut him back to a mile. He ran good in this race last year,” D’Amato noted.

In last year’s City of Hope, Cathkin Peak was beaten just three-quarters of a length when second to Beyond Brilliant. That was the final race of his 4-year-old campaign.

D’Amato is expecting a big effort from Cathkin Peak on Saturday.

“He’s coming in good. In fact, he’s trained extremely well,” D’Amato said. “I think he’s the dark horse in the race.”

Among the D’Amato pairs chief rivals are Twist for John Sadler and Astronomer for Simon Callaghan.

Twist was beaten just 2 ½ lengths by winner Du Jour in the GII Del Mar Mile despite a troubled trip on Sept. 2. With Kent Desormeaux up, Twist hopped at the start, found traffic leaving the second turn and then had to check at the stretch. Sadler feels it was enough to cost Twist a better placing.

“We thought he would have been second without the trouble line, but he wasn’t going to beat the winner,” Sadler said of the 6-year-old gelding bred in France. “He’s come back and trained really well. He’s on an improving-type pattern and didn’t get beat too far, so we’re going to give him another chance.”

Desormeaux will be replaced by Hector Berrios, who guided Twist to an allowance win at Del Mar prior to the Del Mar Mile.

“Hector gave him a really a good ride last time,” Sadler said.

Astronomer has run well in two starts after being sidelined for 16-plus months due to what Callaghan said was bone bruising. Owned by Michael Tabor and Alice Bamford, the 4-year-old gelding by Air Force Blue flashed speed and faded in an allowance at Del Mar July 21, but then returned with a promising upset victory at the level Aug. 19 at Del Mar.

“We’ve had high hopes for him since he was a 2-year-old,” Callaghan said. “We had to be patient through his 3-year-old year. We’re really looking forward to see how he does against these better horses. We think he fits.”

The City of Hope goes as the 10th and final race on Saturday’s card. Post time is approximately 5:30 p.m. Pacific. The field in post position order: Il Bellator, Alejandro Gomez (15-1; War At Sea, Victor Espinoza (8-1); Hit the Road, Joe Bravo (15-1; Hong Kong Harry, Juan Hernandez (5-2); Astronomer, Antonio Fresu (6-1); Flavius, Jose Valdivia Jr. (12-1); Twist, Hector Berrios (3-1); Cathkin Peak, Umberto Rispoli (4-1); Irideo, Mike Smith (8-1).

I’M A GAMBLER SHORTENS UP FOR GLATT IN GII EDDIE D

I’m a Gambler was a multiple stakes winner in England and Ireland. Since joining Mark Glatt’s barn last year, he’s been close in three stateside stakes tries, all going a mile on turf. Glatt thinks a move to the hillside turf course in Saturday’s GII Eddie D could provide a breakthrough.

“I think the hillside course will fit him like a glove,” Glatt said Thursday.

I’m a Gambler is the 6-1 co-third choice on the morning line behind Bran (5-2) for John Sadler and Lane Way for Richard Mandella. I’m a Gambler returned from a nearly six-month layoff July 23 in the one-mile Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar and was third, beaten just a length by winner Du Jour. In the subsequent GII Del Mar Mile on Sept. 2, also won by Du Jour, I’m a Gambler had a narrow lead at the eighth pole before getting overhauled late.

The Eddie D will be I’m a Gambler’s third start on the comeback trail.

“I thought it was a good effort in the Del Mar Mile, he got a big number for the race,” Glatt said in reference to I’m a Gambler’s 97 Beyer Speed Figure. “We’re going to shorten him up a little bit and see if that’s a winning move.”

Antonio Fresu, who has been aboard for both of I’m a Gambler’s starts this year, again has the call on Saturday.

While the Eddie D is a potential steppingstone to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint going five furlongs here Nov. 4, that will not be the road taken for morning-line favorite Bran no matter how good he runs in the about 6 ½-furlong Eddie D.

Bran returned from nearly a year layoff in the GIII Green Flash going five furlongs at Del Mar Sept.2. Last early in a 12-horse field, the 5-year-old French-bred gelding made a late bid to finish 3 ½ length behind winner Motorious.

“We wanted to run five furlongs because that’s the distance of the Breeders’ Cup,” Sadler said. “But what we thought was true was proven true. It was too short for him.”

Last year, Bran won a pair of stakes on the downhill turf course (Siren Lure, GIII Daytona). Sadler believes a return to the unique layout should make him tough Saturday.

“He’s been great here at Santa Anita, he’s won down the hill and it’s his second start off the layoff,” Sadler said. “He should be a good fit in this spot.”

Top turf trainer Phil D’Amato will saddle Balnikhov (6-1), a multiple stakes winner at a mile on turf, and promising allowance winner Unconquerable Keen (8-1). Balnikhov will be trying the hillside course for the first time.

“We’re trying something a little different,” D’Amato said. “He’s a horse that likes to have speed to run at. I think he’ll have a better chance of getting that scenario going down the hill. We’ll see if this gives him another dimension.”

Unconquerable Keen, a 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding, won a second-level allowance going five furlongs on turf at Del Mar Aug. 31. In June, Unconquerable Keen tried the hill for the first time. He faded to seventh after setting a sharp pace.

“We tried the hill one time and he kind of ran off that day,” D’Amato said. “Joe Bravo’s been working him and getting to know him. I think he’ll get him to relax and finish a little better.” The Eddie D goes as the ninth on a 10-race card. Post time is approximately 5 p.m. Pacific. The field in post position order: Balnikhov, Geovanni Franco (6-1); Bran, Juian Hernandez (5-2); Sumter, Umberto Rispoli (15-1); Mas Rapido, Edwin Maldonado (30-1); Noble Reflection, Mario Gutierrez (6-1); Lane Way, Mike Smith (3-1); I’m A Gambler, Antonio Fresu (6-1); Unconquerable Keen, Joe Bravo (8-1); Ah Jeez, Tiago Pereira (8-1); Packs a Wahlop, Hector Berrios (15-1); Radical Right, Diego Herrera (20-1).

BREEDERS’ CUP: TOP-RATED ARCANGELO ARRIVES AT SANTA ANITA

Arcangelo, the top-rated horse in the official Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings, arrived at Santa Anita Wednesday evening. The GI Belmont and GI Travers winner was bright and alert Thursday morning.

Trained by Jena Antonucci, Arcangelo has a record of 4-1-0 in six starts with earnings of $1,754,900. The Arrogate ridgling hasn’t lost since his second start as a maiden at Gulfstream Park in January.

Also on Thursday, Classic contender White Abarrio jogged over the Santa Anita main track. Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., the GI Whitney winner last worked on Sept. 20 at Santa Anita. As for when he’ll return to the tab, assistant Chip Dutrow said Thursday morning “we’ll let him tell us.”

In other Breeders’ Cup news, four horses on the grounds trained by Steve Asmussen – Echo Zulu, Clairiere, Gunite and Society – all tack walked, according to assistant Scott Blasi.

Stakes Preview: G3 Noble Damsel in New York

Turf course at AqueductMoyglare Stud Farm’s dual group stakes-winner Malavath will look to secure her first stateside score in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Noble Damsel, a one-mile inner turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Christophe Clement, the 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Mehmas captured the 2021 Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte at Chantilly and the Group 3 Prix Impudence last April at Deauville for her former conditioner Francis-Henri Graffard.

Malavath completed her sophomore season with a trio of top-flight tries, finishing a close fourth in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild last August at Deauville and posting a runner-up effort to Kinross in October in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret. She was a rallying fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Keeneland to close out her campaign when 1 3/4-lengths back of the victorious Modern Games.

Moyglare Stud Farm then purchased Malavath for more than $3.3 million from the Arqana December Breeding Stock Sale and sent her to Clement’s care at Payson Park in Florida. She made her debut for current connections in April when a distant fifth in the one-mile Plenty of Grace here and returned two month’s later to land sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Eatontown at Monmouth Park, finishing 6 1/2-lengths back of next-out graded stakes-winner Consumer Spending.

The chestnut has breezed back 11 times, including a bullet half-mile in 49 seconds flat Friday over the Oklahoma training turf.

“She had two starts so far for us, they were rather disappointing,” said Clement, who shares the record for most Noble Damsel scores of five with Chad Brown. “We didn’t run her after the race in New Jersey, we opted to give her some time and regroup. Her works have been nice on the turf at Saratoga and it’s time to go on again.”

Out of the New Approach mare Fidaaha, Malavath is a full-sister to Group 3-winner Knight, who is currently in training with Simon and Ed Crisford.

Joel Rosario retains the mount from post 4 aboard Malavath, who is assigned 122 pounds.

Rival Not So Close

Marylou Whitney Stables’ Kentucky homebred Not So Close [post 3, Jose Lezcano, 122 pounds] enters from a gate-to-wire score traveling one mile over good going on August 17 at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Norm Casse, Not So Close made her first six starts over the main track, including frontrunning scores in an off-the-turf one-mile maiden special weight last July at Ellis Park and in an optional-claiming route in March at Fair Grounds. She finished a close second in her turf debut on July 1 at Ellis Park ahead of her Spa score which the third-place finisher, Sister Lou Ann, exited to win the One Dreamer at Kentucky Downs.

Not So Close, by Empire Maker, is out of the Mineshaft mare Bird Legacy, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winners Birdstone and Bird Town.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, who took this event five straight years from 2016-2020, will be represented by multiple graded stakes-winner Fluffy Socks [post 5, Manny Franco, 126 pounds], Grade 1-winner Gina Romantica [post 6, Flavien Prat, 122 pounds] and the Grade 2-winner Gerrymander [post 7, Jose Ortiz, 122 pounds], who makes her turf debut.

Head of Plains Partners’ Kentucky homebred Fluffy Socks has enjoyed a lightly-raced but productive 5-year-old campaign, taking the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile in May at Churchill Downs and finishing a last-out second in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa on August 24 at Saratoga when a head back of Evvie Jets. Her other effort this year was a non-threatening fifth in July in the Spa’s Grade 1 Diana.

The 5-year-old Slumber mare boasts past graded scores in the 2020 Grade 3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar and the 2021 Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont Park.

Peter Brant’s Gina Romantica won 4-of-7 starts last year, including an impressive 1 3/4-length score over stablemate McKulick in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October at Keeneland to cap her campaign.

The 4-year-old Into Mischief bay, a half-sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire Gift Box, was purchased for $1,025,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She has made two starts this year, finishing fourth in the Eatontown ahead of a runner-up effort to Fev Rover on August 12 in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Colonial Downs.

Gerrymander, a 4-year-old Into Mischief bay, boasts a record of 13-3-4-2 for purse earnings of $509,500. She has done most of her best work over Big Sandy, finishing second to Echo Zulu in the 2021 Grade 1 Frizette and posting wins in that year’s Tempted and the Grade 2 Mother Goose last June.

A half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Lone Rock, Gerrymander is out of the graded stakes-placed Hard Spun mare Ruby Lips, who is a half-sister to multiple turf stakes-winner Like a Gem – the dam of multiple Grade 1-winning turfer Hard Not to Like.

Rounding out the field is five-time winning New York-bred Sunset Louise [post 1, Kendrick Carmouche, 122 pounds] for trainer Bruce Levine; and the Linda Rice-trained mu

ltiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred Runaway Rumour [post 2, Dylan Davis, 122 pounds], who is cross-entered in Friday’s $125,000 John Hettinger for state-breds.

With the National Weather Service calling for a 60 percent chance of rain Saturday in Ozone Park, additional main-track only entrants are graded stakes-winner Battle Bling, multiple graded stakes-placed Venti Valentine, stakes-winner Balpool, five-time winner Movie Moxy and stakes-placed Bustin Bay.

The Noble Damsel is slated as Race 7 on Saturday’s 10-race card which also features the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole in Race 3. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of every day of Belmont at the Big A on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

Source: Nyra.com

Here Are Five Movies About Horse Racing to Watch

William Forrest, Barry Fitzgerald (rear), and Shirley Temple in 1949’s “The Story of Seabiscuit.”

There are some really great movies that have been made about horse racing, from Phar Lap to the popular films about Seabiscuit and Secretariat…

“Phar Lap” (1983)

This movie chronicles the story of the much-loved Australian racehorse Phar Lap and the stable hand Tommy Woodcock (Tom Burlinson) who helps set the thoroughbred on a course to victory.

Phar Lap raced to stardom in the 1930s, winning the Melbourne Cup and 22 other weight for age races. His final victory was at the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track-record time.

At the time of Phar Lap’s death in 1932, he was the third highest stakes winner in the world. This is an absolute classic and a great movie.  If you have not seen it, find a way to watch it…