Belmont Park, Horse racing, Triple Crown

Belmont Park opinions for Saturday, June 9 (Belmont Stakes Day)

Stakes races only

SECOND RACE (Easy Goer): 1. Breaking the Rules, 2. Mask, 3. Prince Lucky, 4. Dark Vader. LONG SHOT: Soutache.

THIRD RACE (Grade I Ogden Phipps): 1. Abel Tasman, 2. Unbridled Mo, 3. Pacific Wind, 4. Ivy Bell. LONG SHOT: Berned.

FOURTH RACE (Grade I Acorn): 1. Talk Veuve to Me, 2. Monomoy Girl, 3. Gio Game, 4. Caledonia Road. LONG SHOT: Starcloud.

FIFTH RACE (Grade II Brooklyn Invitational): 1. Hoppertunity, 2. War Story, 3. Hard Study, 4. Outplay. LONG SHOT: Take Your Guns.

SIXTH RACE (Grade Ii Jaipur Invitational): 1. Pocket Change, 2. Stormy Liberal, 3. Pure Sensation, 4. Blind Ambition. LONG SHOT: Holding Gold.

SEVENTH RACE (Grade II Woody Stephens): 1. Engage, 2. The Tabulaor, 3. World of Trouble, 4. Kanthaka. LONG SHOT: Strike Power.

EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Just A Game): 1. Cambodia, 2. Lull, 3. On Leave, 4. Off Limits. LONG SHOT: Dream Dancing.

NINTH RACE (Grade I Met Mile): 1. Bolt d’Oro, 2. Bee Jersey, 3. McCracken, 4. Mind Your Biscuits. LONG SHOT: Awesome Slew.

10TH RACE (Grade I Manhattan): 1. Channel Maker, 2. Beach Patrl, 3. Robert Bruce, 4. Fashion Business. LONG SHOT: Alexis Komnenos.

11TH RACE (Grade I Belmont Stakes): 1. Justify, 2. Tenfold, 3. Vino Rosso, 4. Hofburg. LONG SHOT: Gronkowski.

I haven’t picked Justify to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but that’s because I hate picking favorites. There’s no doubt he’s the best of this crop and I expect him to win the race today by going to the front and never looking back. Tenfold was closing like a freight train in the Preakness while Vino Rosso and Hofburg have the pedigrees plus connections to win or at least do well in this 1 1/2-mile test. The real interesting horse is Gronkowski. He was suppose to run in the Derby but got sick. Now, he’s in the Chad Brown barn. He could be any kind.

Good luck.

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Belmont Park, Horse racing, Triple Crown

Belmont Park opinions for Saturday, June 6

Jeff Nahill’s Belmont Stakes picks

#6 Frosted

#5 American Pharoah

#2 Tale of Verve

#8 Materiality

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Race 6: #10 Sky Kingdom (6-1)

This race is a trial for jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Bob Baffert for the Belmont later in the day. This 6-year-old has never been worse than second at this distance and he has been training lights out at Santa Anita for this race.

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Race 7: #10 Light the City (12-1)

Tough to explain her last, but she has since been sent East to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who is 58% with horses the first time he runs them. She seems to be training well at Belmont and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who is 34% with McLaughlin, takes over.

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Race 10: #8 Biz the Nurse (15-1)

Our Eyes:  This horse makes his third start in the U.S. and he was a good fourth last time out at Keeneland. He’s moving up in class but in Grade I company in Europe and could be ready to unlease a big effort with new rider Joel Rosario.

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Race 13: #8 Biz Looie (12-1) ***

Our Eyes:  Trainer Jorge Navarro has a horse in the Met Mile and brings this high-priced claimer along, too, and also lets jockey Martin Pedroza ride. This gelding is coming off a wire-to-wire win at Gulfstream, beating the morning-line favorite in this race, Social Inclusion.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Pimlico, Triple Crown

Pimlico Race Course opinions for Saturday, May 16

The Pimlico is here and I’m not going to try to re-invent the wheel. I still think the West Coast horses are the best so here are my picks:

#8 Firing Line (4-1)

#1 American Pharoah (4-5)

#2 Dortmund (7-2)

#5 Tale of Verve (30-1)

Comment: I’m sticking with Firing Line and hope jockey Gary Stevens can get him to switch leads down the lane this time.

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Here are some other races on the card:

Race 1: #7 Mafia Muscle Man (turf only) (6-1)

Trainer Larry Rivelli is based in Chicago, yet he picks this spot for this 2-year-old to make his debut. He also owns the colt and the sire Lewis Michael is 15% with first-time turfers. Rivelli is 27% with first-timers and gets Javier Casellano to ride. Play an exacta box with #8 FINNEGAN (6-5), who is supposed to be trainer Wesley Ward’s next big Ascot thing.

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Race 3: #10 Chiropractor (7-2)

Trainer Tom Proctor is going to have a barn on the East Coast based near Pimlico and starts this Kitten’s Joy first-timer on the turf, where the sire is 17% first-time turf. One of Proctor’s West Coast jockeys, Drayden Van Dyke, rides, but they have been cold lately.

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Race 6: #2 Hooligan (4-1)

Trainer Wesley Ward is almost an automatic play in a 5-furlong turf sprint and here he gets jockey John Velazquez aboard (22% together).

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Race 9: #1 Bocaouva (8-1), #8 Watsdachances (6-1), #9 Token of Love (5-1).

One of the toughest races on the card, BOCAOUVA had a ton of trouble in her last race and drawing the No. 1 hole here is no bargain. Will use all three in all vertical bets.

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Race 10: #7 Gimme Da Lute (3-1)

Trainer Bob Baffert is an amazing 39% with horses going sprint-route-sprint and that’s what this 3-year-old does after finishing third to Competitive Edge in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day.

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Race 12: #10 Manchurian High (turf only) (15-1)

Jockey Gary Stevens doesn’t need to ride every race so he must have gotten a good story on this gelding to ride for little-known trainer Lilli Kurtinecz. The 7-year-old has won twice over this Pimlico turf course and will be charging down the lane. He also comes out of a key race with three next out winners. This is one of tougher races on the card so go for a price.

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 2

Race 3: #5 Gandono (15-1)

This son of Lemon Drop Kid, a 14% turf sired, got rained off the turf in his last but showed marked improvement. Trainer David Carroll puts blinkers on today and jockey F. Geroux (a 20% turf rider) takes over.

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Race 8: #11 Water Hole (12-1)

Trainer Chad Brown puts this 4-year-old filly in a graded stakes for her U.S. debut, which says a lot. Jockey Gary Stevens (22% turf rider) and should have her in the right position turning for home.

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Race 13: #5 Imslopokerodriguez (15-1)

Certainly New York-based trained Rudy Rodriguez could have found a spot at Belmont to run this son of Tae of the Cat (16% sire first time out), but he decides to run here and puts in a huge work over the track to boot. NY’s Irad Ortiz rides and is 24% with Rodriguez.

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Jeff Nahill’s Kentucky Derby top four

 #10 Firing Line

#18 American Pharoah

#8 Dortmund

#15 Frosted

 LONG SHOTS: International Star and Mubtaahij

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

Santa Anita opinions (plus some Derby preps) for Saturday, April 4 (updated)

Race 2: #4 Calm the Sea (6-1)

The fact is this race runs through trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Never Ends, who has finished second in all three lifetime starts. Yet, Hollendorfer enters this 3-year-old filly and gets one of his main men from Northern California, J.J. Hernandez to ride. Interesting.

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Race 7: #3 Curlin’s Fox (4-1)

Trainer Carla Gaines tries the “Bolo route” here with this 3-year-old filly. After two wins on the turf, Gaines tries to find out if this daughter can run on the dirt like her daddy. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be looking for a hot pace up front for this closer.

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EIGHTH RACESANTA ANITA DERBY: 1. Dortmund, 2. One Lucky Dane, 3. Prospect Park, 4. Bolo. LONG SHOT: Cross the Line.

What can you say about Dortmund? He’s 5-for-5 and wins impressively every time. I would single. Like Dortmund, One Lucky Dane is from the Bob Baffert barn and he was impressive in his 2015 debut. People forget he finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Interesting that Baffert didn’t ship this one somewhere else, but if he finishes second, he’ll go to the Derby. Prospect Park ran a good second to Dortmund last time and could love the extra ground. I’m not sold on Bolo. I didn’t like the he tired in the stretch last time. We find out here if he’s a dirt or turf horse.

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10TH RACE: 1. Bad Ju Ju

I debated this race for 10 minutes the other night and decided not to add this filly to my selections for HorsePlayer Now. I wish I had after seeing the works on this daughter of Desert Code. Jokcey Kayla Stra will take this one straight to the front and see how far she can go. That’s go enough for me on a day the track could be “souped up.”

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WOOD MEMORIAL at New York’s Aqueduct Race Track: 1. Frosted, 2. Lieutenant Colonel, 3. Daredevil, 4. El Kabeir. LONG SHOT: Tiz Shea.

Let me say I haven’t been impressed with much this winter in New York and the one horse I was (Far From Over) is hurt now. El Kabeir just doesn’t do it for me and he may prove me wrong. Frosted comes from the speed-biased Gulfstream and receives a jockey change to Joel Rosario. The real interesting horse to me is Lieutenant Colonel, who is trained by Chad Brown. By Colonel John, he should love longer distances, although he didn’t like the mud in the Grade III Gotham. Hope for a dry track.

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BLUE GRASS at Lexington’s Keeneland Race Course: 1. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 2. Carpe Diem, 3. Frammento, 4. Unrivaled. LONG SHOT: Gorgeous Bird.

As much as I laud trainer Jim Cassidy for coming to this race, I think he made a mistake by running against Dortmund in the San Felipe in this 3-year-old’s first race back from a layoff. There had to be easier spots, but it’s time to move on and look to the future. It’s now or never for this late-blooming 2-year-old. Carpe Diem was the first horse to come out of the key Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to win around two turns in the Tampa Bay Derby. That said, who did he beat in that race. He’s quality and will be tested here. Unrivaled is the “X” factor having been purchased by Team Valor after a huge win at Parx. Should be interesting.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Coburn: Still a Dumb Ass (Partner)

Despite his “apology” Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning, America,” California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn is still a Dumb Ass, just like his stable name (Dumb Ass Partners) says.

I love how a lot of people are lauding Coburn for finally stepping up to rectify the situation he created after Saturday’s Belmont Stakes loss when he basically called the owners of Tonalist and Commissioner “cheaters” for not running in the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

The man didn’t rectify anything.

Did you see the interview with Robin Roberts? The man was choking on every word he said. He had a hard time getting them out because he didn’t believe them. He was bullied into Monday’s apology. Check it out here:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/california-chrome-owner-angry-rant-belmont-24053547

The time to apologize for Saturday’s rant on national television was Sunday morning. Instead, Coburn went back on national TV and compounded the situation by stating the situation was akin to him playing basketball against a child in a wheelchair. How does one defend that? That was so wrong, it’s unbelievable.

The Triple Crown is meant to be hard. That’s why we haven’t had a winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 36 years. A super horse hasn’t been born to do it. So be it.

In last week’s build up to the Belmont, I was still amazed Real Quiet lost his Belmont to Victory Gallop. I covered Real Quiet’s Preakness that year and for him to lose by a nose in New York still is unfathomable.

But back to the point at hand, even if Coburn and others associated with California Chrome were complaining about the Triple Crown system and dates of the races beforehand, you knew what you were getting into when you started the journey. Three wins in five weeks. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about all the new shooters in the Preakness.

Now after losing, Coburn is bitching and moaning.

I don’t feel sorry for Coburn one bit.

I feel sorry for the man’s wife, who tried to reel him in on Saturday, but was rebuffed. The woman must be a saint.

I feel sorry for others like trainer Art Sherman and his son, Steve, a trainer in his won right who stayed with Chrome on the East Coast for five weeks. I feel for the exercise rider and other barn personnel.

There is a long way to go this year, but if California Chrome ends up not winning the Eclipse Award for top 3-year-old, it might end being Coburn’s fault, and that’s just not right. I don’t have a vote, but I guarantee that if it comes down to coin flip, there will be voters who don’t vote for the horse due to Coburn’s ignorance.

One reporter tweeted on Saturday that after meeting Coburn earlier on the Triple Crown trail, he knew it was just a matter of time before the man blew up.

There’s no doubt, Steve Coburn has lived up to his barn’s name: Dumb Ass (Partners), and no apology is going to change that.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 3 (Magna Warrior $5.60, first race; Babe’s Journey $10.40, fifth; Soi Phet $7.40, sixth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 5 (Elegant $6.40, second; Natalie Paige $6.40, fourth; Red N Black Attack $6, seventh; Unusual Heatwave $16.80, eighth; Nothing to Hide $4.40, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Myrna Lou $8.80, first)

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Horse racing, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

Belmont Park selections for Saturday, June 7

Belmont Stakes (11th race)

2 California Chrome

4 Commanding Curve

5 Ride On Curlin

7 Samraat

10 General A Rod

3 California Chrome: Drew great post, can be used a little to get position, will be in great spot turning for home and his Triple Crown immortality.

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FIRST RACE: 1. Forever Thing, 2. Jimmy Connors, 3. Wabbajack, 4. Catholic Cowboy. LONG SHOT: Bernardo.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Life in Shambles, 2. Misconnect, 3. No Surrender, 4. Legend. LONG SHOT: Kid Cruz.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Micromanage, 2. Ground Transport, 3. Ever Rider, 4. Golden Soul. LONG SHOT: Eriugena.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Marchman, 2. Positive Side, 3. Ben’s Cat, 4. Spring in the Sky. LONG SHOT: Upgrade.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Kobe’s Back (15-1), 2. Top Fortitude, 3. Pure Sensation, 4. Coup de Grace. LONG SHOT: Tonito M.

Tough to explain last race by KOBE’S BACK other than got off bit slow and the pace wasn’t as hot as he needs with his come-from-behind style. That shouldn’t be a problem here and jockey Joel Rosario, who is the last one to win with him, returns to saddle for trainer John Sadler.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Artemis Agrotera, 2. My Miss Sophia, 3. Fiftyshadesofgold, 4. Sweet Whiskey. LONG SHOT: Euphrosyne.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Beholder, 2. Close Hatches, 3. Princess of Sylmar, 4. Antipathy. LONG SHOT: Belle Gallantey.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Better Lucky, 2. Coffee Clique, 3. Somali Leomnade. 4. Strathnaver. LONG SHOT: Dame Marie.

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NINTH RACE: 1. Palace Malice, 2. Goldencents, 3. Normandy Invasion, 4. Romansh. LONG SHOT: Vyjack.

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10TH RACE: 1. Rookie Sensation (12-1, best bet), 2. Hey Leroy, 3. Imaging, 4. Grandeur. LONG SHOT: Chamois.

ROOKIE SENSATION had a ton of trouble in Grade III Last Tycoon at Santa Anita when got stuck on rail in the stretch, had to wheel out and finished third. One horse has already come back to win out of that race and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith stays aboard.

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11TH RACE: Belmont Stakes (see above)

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12TH RACE: 1. Ghurair, 2. Artic North, 3. Inchcape, 4. North Star Boy. LONG SHOT: Shining Copper.

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13TH RACE: 1. Protocol (6-1), 2. Slan Abhaile, 3. In Trouble, 4. Confrontation. LONG SHOT: Celebrator.

PROTOCOL won his first condition in impressive fashion at Santa Anita three months ago and resurfaces here for trainer John Shirreffs. Been training in New York for couple weeks with a few good works and should love the 7-furlong distance.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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