Tracker Horses to Watch from Europe

track announcer with binocularsRacehorses to note, including a promising William Haggas filly

Dusky Prince
Fifth, Redcar, May 16

Returning after a 77-day pause, he didn’t have much room when needed and it was all too late by the time he got in the clear. He would have gone closer otherwise.

El Bello
Sixth, Wolverhampton, May 19

Was sent off favourite to complete a hat-trick, after a two-month breather, but he started slowly, was hampered more than once on the home bend and didn’t get a clear run inside the last furlong, doing well to miss out by only three lengths.

Fourth, Goodwood, May 20

Was up against it given the way things worked out and wasn’t disgraced in the circumstances. A lack of pace led him to be a little keen and he was too far back in a race in which the leaders weren’t coming back…

AGOS Horses to Watch: Kentucky Derby Favorite Epicenter

Will Trainer Steve Asmussen Win the KY Derby?

Hall of Fame horseman Steve Asmussen capped off a 5-win day with Epicenter’s impressive victory in the 1 3/16 miles Louisiana Derby.  The talented colt rode the rail while sitting in third.  Second choice Zozos, trained by Brad Cox, dictated the pace with mild pressure from the longshot Pioneer Of Medina behind him. Epicenter took over at the top of the lane and drew off with Rosario at one point looking under his arms for any competition.  The pacesetters hung on gamely for second and third respectively.  [Note that so far, two also rans from this race have returned in stakes company to run off the board.]

Prior to this start, Epicenter led gate to wire in the Risen Star Stakes.  He set a modest but consistent pace throughout and again won as much the best under jockey Joel Rosario.  The third place finisher Zandon returned to win the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland impressively, and the runner-up in the Risen Star placed in this same stakes.  Fifth place finisher Tawny Port won the Lexington Stakes two races later.  The Risen Star has turned out to be a key race on the 2022 Kentucky Derby trail.

AGOS Horses to Watch: UAE Derby Won by Crown Pride | Arkansas Derby

Will Japan Be a Threat in the Kentucky Derby?

After a wildy successful 2021 Breeders’ Cup, Japan could be back to make a big splash in the Kentucky Derby.  Crown Pride (Jpn) debuted at 9 furlongs (1 1/8 miles) winning by 6 lengths last fall in Japan.  He won again at that distance before receiving a short winter break.  He returned in a one mile race where he got demolished at the start and then raced wide on the backstretch into the far turn. This was a sneaky great performance.  Off that troubled trip, he scored in the UAE Derby on the World Cup undercard, a card dominated by runners from Japan.

This sophomore colt was much the best in the UAE Derby and won with his ears pricked up in the final 50 yards.  Crown Pride will love the stretch out to 10 furlongs and he has won on both right-handed and left-handed courses.  The runner-up had a perfect trip and no excuse for not holding on.  I don’t like his chance if he comes to the U.S.A.

2022 Arkansas Derby

Cyberknife, trained by Brad Cox, unseated his rider in the post parade but that wasn’t an issue when it came time for the gates to open.  The son of Gun Runner sat a great trip behind the early leaders, made a move into the far turn and then held sway in the lane.  The filly Secret Oath ran a big race.  She got bounced around at the start.  She was in traffic on the backstretch and at about the 4 furlong pole, she dropped back to last.  Jockey Luis Contreras then asked her to run and she swept by the field with ease to move into third, then into second while charging at the leader down the lane.  The jock got lacksidiscal late and she got run down for the place spot.  Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was hardly pleased and he has named a new rider for the filly.

Barber Road was green in the lane, made a nice, inside run late and galloped out well.  He hasn’t had a break since early last fall.  Favorite Doppelganger didn’t have the best of trips but ran a disappointing race as a distant 4th.


AGOS Horses to Watch: Wood Memorial Won by Mo Donegal

Will the Wood Memorial Make an Impact?

Klaravich Stable runner Early Voting set an honest pace while receiving mild pressure from longshot A.P. Secret.  He opened up in mid-stretch but was run down late by Mo Donegal, the 2021 Remsen winner at Aqueduct.  This result reminded me alot of the Wood Memorial finish between the speed horse Funny Cide and the closer Empire Maker.  The latter would take a lot more money in the Kentucky Derby, in fact he went off the favorite, but Funny Cide was the upset winner.  Both Early Voting and Mo Donegal came home with swift fractions in this 9 furlong Derby prep.  Mo Donegal’s final 3/8th of a mile was an eye-opening 35.59.  Third place finisher Skippylongstocking, for FL Derby winning trainer Saffie Joseph, tried hard in third while no real threat to the top two.  This colt is definitely on the improve heading into the first Saturday in May.

AGOS Horses to Watch: Santa Anita Derby Won by Taiba

Trainer Tim Yakteen runs 1-2 in the major California prep for the Kentucky Derby

Forbidden Kingdom got the early lead and dictated the pace.  However, he flipped his epiglottis and backed up abruptly turning for home. Messier, who was tracking that one through a quick pace, took over but could not hold off stablemate Taiba.  The son of Gunrunner, described as a “superhorse” by Yakteen mowed that one down in the lane in a very impressive finish.  His final 1/8th of a mile was sub 12.50. Legendary jock Mike Smith was the winning rider aboard Taiba, this year’s Santa Anita Derby champ.

The top two finishers, of course, were previously trained by Bob Baffert.

AGOS Horses to Watch: Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes

White Abarrio, recently recovered from a fever and having skipped the Fountain of Youth, came into the Florida Derby and delivered a knock-out performance.  The Saffie Joseph runner was four wide around most of the first turn and three wide into the stretch.  Charge It re-rallied after struggling on the turn.  He took dirt for the first time in his race and finished very well despite been very green in the lane.  He even switched back to his wrong lead about 100 yards from wire but kept on coming.  Simplification pressed the pace, took over briefly heading into the far turn and them ran gamely in the lane to easily hold third.  Steal Sunshine was far, far back and closed well as no-threat but galloped out huge past the wire.

California’s top jock, Flavien Prat, who recently moved his tack east took the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes aboard Zandon.  The colt was near the rear and in some traffic at the 3/8th pole but got clear running from there and finished powerfully in the final furlong.  Drew off late in front of the Keeneland grandstand.  Smile Happy was five wide around the first turn, made a nice move to the front at the top of the lane but could not hold off the fresh closer, while well clear of third.  Fenwick was well beaten in fifth but had a brutal trip, with trouble early and getting bounced around badly at the top of the stretch.  Emmanuel was clear on the early lead and had no excuse.  Commandperformance remains a maiden.

Of these two major Kentucky Derby preps, the Florida Derby appeared to be the much stronger, deeper field than the Blue Grass.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – April 3rd

Free Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for visitors to


MASTER G (race 4 at Gulfstream Park, April 2, 2022) – This second starter was much the best in his 2nd career race.  He was boxed in from the far turn until the top of the stretch. When he got clear, he easily ran down two runners who had perfect trips.  The margin of victory was deceptive for this regally bred colt.


KANT BEAT THE ROCK (race 5 at Santa Anita, April 1, 2022) – This maiden was claimed last summer by sharp handicapper Dylan Donnelly, and unfortunately he had to be put on the shelf for the remainder of the year.  He returned, working sharp in the mornings for new barn, and then was pointed to this down the hill turf sprint.  Making his first grass start, the Rock stalked from just off the pace.  Made a bold move turning for home but was a tad green.  When Tyler Baze got him straightened out and asked for run, the colt exploded.  Pulled away from the field and galloped out very strong.  This grandson of Raven’s Pass has a future on the sod, both short and long.

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AGOS Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – Aug 29

track announcer with binocularsFREE horses to watch and trip notes for visitors of the education website


CHROME RACER (Race 6 at GP, August 13, 2021) – 2nd time starter from the hot Louie Roussel barn finished well to get up for 2nd behind the gate to wire winner.  Rallied against the grain of the speed favoring track.

BULLET ON TAP (Race 2 at GP, August 6, 2021) – first time starter going 7 furlongs showed good early speed and chased the winner home in the lane.  Was green in the stretch and would probably benefit from blinkers.


PRICE TALK (Race 2 at SAR, August 13, 2021) – This guy overcame a wide trip and some trouble, including the rider nearly losing the whip in the stretch.  Royally-bred turf runner should be able to handle a slight class rise next out.

AGOS Horses to Watch and Trip Notes – July 27

Horse Racing Fans at the Saratoga Clubhouse Rail

Fans at the Saratoga Clubhouse Rail

Put these Horses to Watch and Trip Notes from A Game of Skill in your Stable Mail or StableAlert service.


WAR SMOKE (Race 1 at Saratoga, July 17, 2021) – Trip notes saw this first timer run huge. Squeezed badly at the start, and then unleashed a big late run.  The son of War Dancer got bumped and knocked off stride by the winner when both were rallying in the final 1/16th of a mile.  He is a half to 3 turf winners.

MISSPELL (Race 3 at Saratoga, July 17) – Got hit hard at the start of the race.  She recovered with a huge late and just got nosed out.  It was the first start since September for the Chad Brown filly who showed a lot of talent last year.  She was getting Lasix for the first time here.   Figures to break through her conditions very soon.

DANCE CODE (Race 9 at Saratoga, July 17) – Lost all chance at the start of the G3 Sanford Stakes but came on late to finish a very game third, despite being well beaten by winner Wit.  Showed a lot of talent in this loss.

TOO SEXY (Race 6 at Saratoga, July 16) – Clement runner looked like one that had trouble finding the winner’s circle but now she has won two of her last four races.  She was much the best in this entry level allowance race, overcoming trouble in the stretch to win going away in this turf sprint.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – July 15

Saratoga canopy walk throughComplimentary horses to watch and trip notes for visitors of


ORCHESTRATION (Race 5 at Ellis Park, June 2, 2021) – Bounced around at the start and then unleashed a huge late run to get up for 2nd and blow past the winner just past the wire.  Big gallop out from the Chad Brown first time starter by Flatter.


MAINSTAY (Race 9 at Saratoga, July 15, 2021) – In watching the head-on replay you will see that 2yo filly from the Robert Reid, Jr. barn stumbled badly from her two post.  However, she recovered like a real pro and ran a huge race to be 2nd to the second choice and wire-to-wire winner Pretty Birdie.  She was about 4 lengths clear of the show horse.

OMAHA CITY (Race 8 at Saratoga, July 15, 2021) – This talented turf runner finished extremely well to get up for 2nd in the Quick Call Stakes.  Trained by a 3% barn, this son of Temple City had not been out since mid April at Gulfstream.  Super honest and looks primed for top efforts at 6 1/2 furlongs or less.

EKHTIBAAR (Race 1 at Saratoga, opening day July 15, 2021) – The 8yo shipper from Parx showed a new dimension by rallying from off the pace.  Broke from a tough outside post in this 9 furlong dirt opener and was gained furiously on the leader in the lane, and that rival was drifting in and out in the final 1 1/16th.  This old timer loves Saratoga and could surprise at the same or similar level next out.