Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar opinions for Wednesday, July 18 (Opening day)

Preview: Going to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club can be a lot of fun, but let’s be honest, everyone wants to win money. Jockeys and trainers all have their strengths and weaknesses. If you know those, it can point you to the winner’s circle and away from throwing your tickets away.

Jockeys
FLAVIEN PRAT:
Without a doubt, the best rider not named Mike Smith on the circuit, and he rides a lot more than Smith. Prat began his career in France and thus he was put on a lot of grass horses early in career, but he has become a very good all-around jockey. He won the Del Mar title last summer by winning 23 races on the dirt (25 percent) and 12 races (from 80 starters) on the grass. He was also second in races won with 2-year-olds (six) and that number could improve as he has made some inroads into the Bob Baffert barn. Prat loves to get to the rail on the turf, save ground and swing out at the head of the home stretch. He sometimes gets caught in traffic with this move, but he knows what he’s doing most of the time.

RAFAEL BEJARANO: The once king of Del Mar has slowed in the last year. He did finish tied for second in the standings, tied with Evin Roman, and tied for third on the dirt. He also tied Prat and Kent Desormeaux with 12 victories on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. If you are looking for a horse to finish down the lane, don’t bet against Bejarano because he will carry it there with his strength. The one weakness in Bejarano’s game is his work out of the gate. He registered just three wins on 2-year-olds during the 2017 meet because trainers want a jockey pushing a horse out of the gate. A lot of 2-year-old races are won by speed horses, which isn’t Bejarano’s strong suit.

KENT DESORMEAUX: There’s the good Kent and the bad Kent. If Desormeaux is in a good mood, he can be the best rider in the room, but if he’s not feeling it that day, don’t bet on him. Desormeaux, who rides a lot for his brother and trainer Keith, was fourth in the standings a year ago. He had 14 wins on the dirt and 12 wins on the grass. He is an exceptional grass rider.

JOE TALAMO: There was a time that “Talamo on the turf” made you big bucks every meet, but he has lost some of that magic in the last few years. He was fifth in the riding standings last summer (23 wins), but tied for third on the dirt with 17 winners. On the grass, he slipped to just six winners. He had a like number of victories with 2-year-olds, to tie for second in the colony. He was also second with first-time starters with three wins.

APPRENTICES: Roman, who won the Eclipse Award as the top apprentice in the country, lost his bug and is a journeyman now. Who will replace those 29 wins because you know how trainers like those 7- and 5-pound weight allowances? Fans should especially watch Heriberto Figueroa and Asa Espinoza, who just tied for the Los Alamitos riding title. Two others to watch are Edgar Payeras and Franklin Ceballos.

OTHERS: Mike “Money” Smith will ride in a lot of stakes races and 2-year-old events. If he rides in another race, take note. … Tyler Baze wins the hard-luck award from 2017 with 18 seconds and 17 thirds with just nine wins. He’s a good all-around rider. … Drayden Van Dyke scored 11 wins on the turf a year ago, one behind the leaders, and he has a great clock in his head. Watch out for him with Baffert, too. He has also made in-roads in that stable and Baffert won’t be afraid to put him up on a good 2-year-old. … Journeyman Edwin Maldonado is a rider to watch, especially on the grass as he registered seven wins on the green in 2017. He’s underrated. … Corey Nakatani maybe getting older but last summer he proved he’s still good with 2-year-olds (Bolt d’Oro) and he’s also a master on the grass.

FIRST RACE: 1. Carville, 2. Out of Patience, 3. General Ike. LONG SHOT: Above Board.
Tough race take as many as you can in the Pick 5.

SECOND RACE: 1. Upo, 2. Kylemore, 3. Ayacara. LONG SHOT: Jimmy Chila.
If this Pick 5 doesn’t pay boxcars, I’ll be stunned. This card is tough.

THIRD RACE: 1. Ketos, 2. Junior Gilliam, 3. Eighty Three. LONG SHOT: Gentrified.

FOURTH RACE: 1. Blueberry Princess, 2. Flying to the Line, 3. Dicotomy. LONG SHOT: Opus Won.
Blueberry Princess comes out of a race that has already produced two next out winners from four starters.

FIFTH RACE: 1. Bird Is the Word, 2. Ritzy A. P., 3. Ann Arbor Eddie. LONG SHOT: Castle.

SIXTH RACE: 1. Shivermetimbers, 2. Divisor, 3. Regulate. LONG SHOT: Show Me Da Lute.

SEVENTH RACE: 1. Brill (BEST BET), 2. Angel Alessandra, 3. Bizwhacks. LONG SHOT: Barbadolla.
We all know how good trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is with young fillies and this $1 million purchase BRILL looks like the real deal. She has three big works coming into the race and Hollendorfer is 17 percent with first-timers. We will never get the 5-2 morning-line, but that’s life. Looks like a single to me.

EIGHTH RACE (Oceanside Stakes): 1. Texas Wedge, 2. Desert Stone, 3. Artie B Good. LONG SHOT: More Honor.
Believe it or not, trainer Peter Miller didn’t win a stakes race at the Del Mar summer meet so you can bet (and he will) that he wants to end that right here and now.

NINTH RACE: 1. Blame Joe, 2. Super Duper Cooper, 3. Aurora d’Oro. LONG SHOT: Impression.

10TH RACE: 1. Sellwood, 2. Henry County, 3. Zipman. LONG SHOT: Starting Bloc.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs opinions for Friday, May 4 (Kentucky Oaks Day)

Preview: Check the track conditions because rain is forecast for Friday and Derby Day on Saturday. Races might come off the turf so check the changes. I handicapped just the stakes races. For the other you are on your own but check out West Coast jockeys who get mounts in other races.

FIFTH RACE (Eight Belles, Grade II): 1. Mia Mischief, 2. Gas Station Sushi, 3. Amy’s Challenge, 4. Salt Bae. LONG SHOT: Talk Veuve to Me.

SIXTH RACE (La Troienne, Grade I): 1. Abel Tasman, 2. Salty, 3. Martini Glass, 4. Apologynotaccepted. LONG SHOT: Streamline.

SEVENTH RACE (Turf Sprint, Grade III): 1. Vision Perfect, 2. Bucchero, 3. Will Call, 4. Delectation. LONG SHOT: Latent Revenge.

EIGHTH RACE (Alysheba, Grade II): 1. Good Samaritan, 2. Always Dreaming, 3. Backyard Heaven, 4. Hoppertunity. LONG SHOT: Awesome Slew.

10TH RACE (Edgewood, Grade III): 1. Altea, 2. Rushing Fall, 3. Beyond Blame, 4. Daddy Is a Legend. LONG SHOT: Figarella’s Queen.
Rushing Fall (4-5) is a monster and should win but I’ll go with the longer price of the uncoupled Chad Brown entry. Rushing Fall is entered against the boys on Saturday in case it comes down in buckets Friday, but I think she’ll run here.

11TH RACE (Kentucky Oaks, Grade I): 1. Midnight Bisou, 2. Rayya, 3. Classy Act, 4. Monomoy Girl. LONG SHOT: Wonder Gadot.
This is a tough race for me because Midnight Bisou (5-2) is owned in part by Oceanside’s Jeff Bloom, one of my best friends in the sport and I guarantee a lot of people in the industry are pulling for Jeff and his group. And with good reason, the 3-year-old filly is two noses away from being undefeated. She lost twice to the Bob Baffert-trained Dream Tree, who is injured and out of this race. Midnight Bisou’s last race was visually impressive as jockey Mike Smith let her loop the field on the turn. She didn’t beat much but it was the way she did it. Look for a similar style in this race and if it rains, she has a victory on a wet/fast track at Santa Anita. Rayya, at 12-1 on the morning-line, is the filly to watch. She just finished second to Mendlessohn, who is one of the favorites in the Derby, in the UAE Derby. She came from off the pace on a speed-favoring track. She is in the Bob Baffert barn and is adding Lasix for the first time, a move Baffert is 30 percent with. Classy Act (15-1) has a second over this track and horses coming from the Fair Grounds have been tearing it up across the country since the end of that meet. Monomoy Girl (2-1) is favored, but that post (No. 14) is horrible.

Good luck.

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, March 3

Preview: Again rain is in the forecast so I am passing the grass races.

FIRST RACE: Grass no picks.

SECOND RACE: 1.Bocephus, 2. Jimmy Chila, 3. More Honor. LONG SHOT: Heartfullofstars.

THIRD RACE: 1. Matriculate, 2. City Steel, 3. El Super. LONG SHOT: Lewis Vale.

FOURTH RACE: Grass no picks.

FIFTH RACE: 1. Kawara, 2. Deal With It Dude, 3. Lookie Loo. LONG SHOT: Elwood J.

SIXTH RACE: 1. Dream Tree, 2. Midnight Bisou, 3. Spring Lily. LONG SHOT: One Fast Broad.
Ok, my buddy Jeff Bloom is going to let me have it for not picking his Midnight Bisou, but my reasoning is simple: Sometimes a horse has another horse’s number. Dream Tree has beaten Midnight Bisou twice, yes by a nose both times, but until Midnight proves she can beat Dream Tree I’m going with the Bob Baffert filly. I hope I’m wrong.

SEVENTH RACE: 1. Honeymoonz Over, 2. Zippy Groom, 3. Joeray. LONG SHOT: Treasure Hunter.

EIGHTH RACE: Grass no picks.

NINTH RACE: 1. Wild Edie, 2. Venice, 3. Go Girl Gone. LONG SHOT: No Honey Money.

10TH RACE: 1. Go Ghetto (best bet), 2. Kenny Benny, 3. Hank the Tank. LONG SHOT: Rick’s Dream.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

Top choice winners: 3 (Southern Thunder $5.20, third race; Jeweled $2.20, fourth; Street Vision $7.60, eighth)

Second choice winners: 1 (Dr. Dorr $25.80, seventh)

Third choice winners: 0

Long shot winners: 1 (End of Now $21.80, second)

Good luck.9

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, Sept. 30

RACE 1: #6 Treasure Hunter(15-1)
This is a son of Treasure Beach (Gaileo) and he has gotten 29% winners first time on the turf. Lots of good prices in this race but we settled on this one. Inscom (4-1) and Pubilius Syrus (5-2) will be tough and a real weirdo is Channel Crossing.

RACE 3: #4 El Asesino (20-1)
Trainer Mick Ruis had three winners on opening day Friday so his horses are ready to run. This is a son of Majestic Warrior, who gets 12% first-time winners. Ruis is 31% with first time starters. Worth a shot. Favored Instilled Regard (5-2) will be tough to beat. Also give first-timers Peace (6-1), Mourinho n(9-2) and Secular Nation (12-1) a look.

RACE 6: #9 Ritzy A. P. (9-2)
As much as I like apprentice Evin Roman, he hasn’t learned how to ride the turf course, especially route races. Therefore, I’m looking for big jock switches like Friday when Joe Talamo won with Roman off at 11-1. Here we get leading turf jockey Flavien Prat and we’ll take the price.

10TH RACE: #6 Mubtaahij (4-1)
First off, trainer Art Sherman announced he will scratch Dortmund from this race. As is the case in many stakes in Southern California, it’s trainer Bob Baffert’s world and we’re just living in it. The profitable way to live in it is to take “the other Baffert” whenever the trainer starts two horses in the same race. More often than not, the longer priced-horse is live. Such is the case here. The Baffert-trained Cupid is the 2-1 morning-line favorite and rightly so, but Mubtaahij is making his first start in the Baffert barn and he has been training up a storm. In his last race, he finished fourth to Arrogate, Gun Runner and Neolithic. You might have heard of those horses as that was the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Beside a straight bet on Mubtaahij, an exacta box with Cupid might be the way to go.

RACE 11: #11 Miss Southern Miss (5-1)
This filly has a win over this turf course but this is the first time going down the hill. This 3-i-old finished fourth in the Las Virgenes this spring. Those finishing ahead of her were Unique Bella, Mopotism and Champagne Room. Heard of them? They all came back to win their next races. Kent Desormeaux rides for brother Keith Desormeaux.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar opinions for Saturday, Aug. 19 (Pacific Classic Day)

FIRST RACE: 1. Inhibition, 2. The Real McCann, 3. Bucky Goldstein. LONG SHOT: Hoppitty.

SECOND RACE: 1. Lord Simba, 2. American Pastime, 3. Taman Guard. LONG SHOT: Coastline.
Trainer Bob Baffert loves to win other races on big days at the track and this son of Discreet Cat has been away since May, when he finished third in the Kona Gold at Santa Anita. I look for a big effort here.

FIFTH RACE: 1. AUSSIE FOX (best bet), 2. Saltini, 3. Lucky Soul. LONG SHOT: Icy Street.
This looks like a wide open race to me, but I love Aussie Fox. The colt just missed last time when he started from the No. 11 post. Today, he gets to start from the inside so look for jockey Rafael Bejarano to gun from the gate. I don’t know if Saltini will be ready off the bench for Richard Mandella, but look who he lost to in his last race … Arrogate. Hmmmm.

EIGHTH RACE ($1 million Pacific Classic): 1. Collected, 2. Accelerate, 3. Arrogate. LONG SHOT: Hard Aces.
I believe Baffert when he says Arrogate is ready to go, but I didn’t like the workout this week with Arrogate looking all over the place when he hit the stretch. I’m sticking with the “other” Baffert play. Collected destroyed Accelerate the last time they met. Some times horses just have another horse’s number like Accelerate already beating Arrogate twice. I hope Arrogate is back to his old self. This sport needs superstars. I’m just not 100 percent convinced. Maybe I will be at 5:46 p.m. today.

For the rest of my selections, go to:
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/sd-sp-delmar-selections-handicap-nahill-20170818-story.html

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar opinions for Sunday, Aug. 6

PREVIEW: The La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-old on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course is the feature today. Only Pioneer Lad and Caribou Club are returning from the opening day Oceanside Stakes so this should prove to be interesting.

FIRST RACE: 1. Old Man Lake, 2. Freddies Dream, 3. Que Chistoso. LONG SHOT: Plain Wrap.

SECOND RACE: 1. Zuzanna, 2. Simmy’s Temple, 3. Tink’s Twirl. LONG SHOW: Glorious Venezuela.

FIFTH RACE: 1. Continental Divide, 2. Smokem, 3. Schulace. LONG SHOT: Sir Valentine.

Trainer Jim Cassidy isn’t known for his work with 2-year-olds (0-for-24), but he might have a good Cal-bred in today’s fifth race, the Graduation Stakes. Continental Divide (8-1 on the morning-line) finished second in his debut opening week here and figures to only improve. You might have heard of his daddy, 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. 

For the rest of my selections go to:
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/sd-sp-delmar-handicap-sunday-aug-6-story.html

Good Luck

@Jeff_Nahill on the Twitter.

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar opinions for Saturday, July 29

Preview: Favorites continue to take it on the chin eight days into the meet, but you know at some time the ride will turn, especially at Del Mar. Last Saturday, there was a rally wide bias after the racing from Friday night so watch the first race carefully.

FIRST RACE: 1. Jungle Warfare, 2. Ayacara, 3. Tatters to Riches. LONG SHOT: Blended Citizen.
Tatters to Riches is a $1 million baby trained by Jeff Mullins. The son Union Rags had been training lights out, but anything can happened the first time. Mullins is also just one for his last 15 with first-time starters. Jungle Warfare costs $300,000 and finished third in his debut. He has been working well and improvement should come today with apprentice Evil Roman in the irons.

SECOND RACE: 1. Mama’s Sugar, 2. Tiz Delightful, 3. Fabulous Lady. LONG SHOT: Zanab.

THIRD RACE: 1. G.G. Ryder, 2. He Will, 3. Incredible Luck. LONG SHOT: My Italian Babbo.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer would see to hold all the cards in this Cal-bred stakes with the top two horses. Can you say exacta box?

For the reminder of my picks go to:
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/sd-sp-jeff-nahills-delmar-selections-saturday-july-29-story.html

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill

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