Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Tampa Bay Downs

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 4 (plus some Tampa Bay Downs)

Preview: Expect a wet track at some point today and a softer turf course. Rain is suppose to hit hardest around 1 p.m.

12TH RACE (Grade I Kentucky Derby: 1. Improbable, 2. Game Winner, 3. Roadster, 4. Vekoma. LONG SHOT: By My Standards.
If it’s Derby Day we must be in trainer Bob Baffert’s world and we’re just living in it. Baffert can pull off a race feat here by hitting the trifecta with all three of his entries. Improbable is my choice off his runner-up efforts to Omaha Beach, who had to scratch out of the race with a balky throat. All three of Baffert’s horses, including Game Winner and Roadster, are coming up to the race in fine form and a win by any of them wouldn’t surprise me.

Other Churchill Downs stakes

SIXTH RACE (Grade I Humana Distaff): 1. Talk Veuve to Me, 2. Marley’s Freedom, 3. Spiced Perfection, 4. Emboldened. LONG SHOT: Mia Mischief.

SEVENTH RACE )Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile): 1. Beau Recall, 2. Daddy Is a Legend, 3. Precieuse, 4. Valedictorian. LONG SHOT: Environs.

EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Churchill Downs): 1. Do Share, 2. Mitole, 3. Uncontested, 4. Whitmore. LONG SHOT: Warrior’s Club.

NINTH RACE (Grade II American Turf): 1. Marquee Prince, 2. Seismic Wave, 3. Digital Age, 4. Social Paranoia. LONG SHOT: Henley’s Joy.

10TH RACE (Grade III Pat Day Mile): 1. Instagrand, 2. Durkin’s Call, 3. Mr Money Bags, 4. Last Judgment. LONG SHOT: Dunph.

11TH RACE (Grade I Turf Classic): 1. Brick and Mortar (best bet), 2. Multiplier, 3. Ticonderoga, 4. Next Shares. LONG SHOT: Synchrony.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS
FOURTH RACE: 1. Sir Higgins, 2. Market Swings, 3. No choice. LONG SHOT: Trap Music.
SEVENTH RACE: 1. Pure Luck, 2. Silver Shield, 3. Solid. LONG SHOT: Edelman’s Catch.
10TH RACE: 1. Sugar Cane Girl, 2. Crown of Joy, 3. Speeding Starlet. LONG SHOT: Patient Digna.
Good luck.
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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Wednesday, Dec. 26 (Opening day)

Preview: Remember jockey Joel Rosario is coming West to ride until the spring so look for him to get plenty of live mounts. Also, a lot of out-of-town jockeys are in Arcadia today for the stakes-filled card. These guys can ride and you will get some great prices on great jockeys. If you like one of them, bet them. I’m not sure how the turf course will play after rain on Tuesday night so make sure you check changes.

FIRST RACE: 1. Twentytwentyvision, 2. Orchestral, 3. Taelyns Prince. LONG SHOT: Comes the Dream.

SECOND RACE: 1. Naughty Sophie, 2. Chatty, 3. Come On Kat. LONG SHOT: Easter Dream.

THIRD RACE: 1. I Am the Danger, 2. According to Buddy, 3. Shane Zain. LONG SHOT: Lil Milo.

FOURTH RACE: 1. Ms Bad Behavior, 2. Amandine, 3. Love and Peace. LONG SHOT: X S Gold.

FIFTH RACE: 1. Jumpin Thru Hoops, 2. Scalper, 3. All Good. LONG SHOT: Mo Mississippi.

SIXTH RACE (Grade I La Brea): 1. Emboldened, 2. Dream Tree, 3. Happy Like a Fool. LONG SHOT: Hot Autumn.
DREAM TREE is the rightful 8-5 morning-line favorite and is the most likely winner of this race for trainer Bob Baffert, but I have to go with the “other Baffert.” EMBOLDENED has never been worse than third over this track and has been training well for her comeback. I’m a big believer that horses either like or hate 7-furlong races and both of these Bafferts have won in their only tries at this elongated sprint distance.

SEVENTH RACE (Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile) 1. Choo Choo, 2. River Boyne, 3. Sejo. LONG SHOT: Desert Stone.
Again RIVER BOYNE is the deserving 8-5 morning-line favorite and will be tough to beat as jockey Flavien Prat stays on the 3-year-old rather than ride my choice, CHOO CHOO. This son of English Channel just missed at Del Mar and Joel Rosario takes over. SEJO is an import from France and gets Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle for trainer John Sadler, who got shut out at Del Mar.

EIGHTH RACE (Grade II San Antonio): 1. Gift Box, 2. Battle of Midway, 3. Dabster. LONG SHOT: Tatter to Riches.
The older horses finally take to the track and the thought is that BATTLE OF MIDWAY will be singled in a lot of wagers. Not here. GIFT BOX has been purchased privately by Hronis Racing LLC for Sadler. The 5-year-old comes out of the Chad Brown barn and has a couple of great works over the track. He has never been worse than second in three tries at the distance and that man Rosario rides back. One to watch is TATTER TO RICHES for trainer Jeff Mullins. The 3-year-old will be facing older and Mullins puts blinkers on. Plus Gift Box is coming out of a key race that has produced two winners already.

NINTH RACE (Grade I Malibu): 1. Ax Man (best bet), 2. Seven Trumpets, 3. McKinzie. LONG SHOT: Copper Bullet.
The big race of the day and it drew a field of 16 (only 14 can run). Baffert has five 3-year-olds in this race and at least one (or more) will scratch. AX MAN has been seen since July, but has been gelded since that race. He has been training lights out and Baffert’s layoff stats are huge. SEVEN TRUMPETS ships in from the East Coast for trainer Dale Romans. Throw out that eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He’s back with has own age group and finished second at this distance in the Jerkens at Saratoga.

10TH RACE: 1. Souter, 2. Avalance, 3. Cupid’s Claws. LONG SHOT: Trojan Spirit.

Good luck.

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar opinions for Thursday, July 19

Preview: Trainers Doug O’Neill and Jerry Hollendorfer, who were mediocre in 2017, dominated on opening day, winning the first seven races between them. Give their horses an extra look, especially O’Neill, who gets hot and then cools off.

Trainers to watch
PHIL D’AMATO: Tied for the Del Mar training title last summer with 18 wins and his stable has only gotten stronger since then. He is a monster on the turf with 12 wins and 11 seconds from 66 starters. This summer look for improved numbers on the dirt and with younger horses.

RICHARD BALTAS: He tied D’Amato for the crown a year ago. Surprisingly, he beat D’Amato on the grass, leading all trainer with 13 winners on the green. One area of weakness is first-time starters so stay away from them.

PETER MILLER: Last summer wasn’t the best for the Carlsbad resident who annually starts a ton of horses at the seaside oval. He had more than twice has many seconds and thirds (24 and 16) as wins (15). No doubt he wants to turn those numbers around. Don’t be afraid of horses showing San Luis Rey Downs works because he has a portion of his stable there. Miller was second in dirt wins and victories by 2-year-olds. He does a lot of damage with claimers and maiden claimers, but you often don’t get a square price.

MARK GLATT: He had a really good summer under the radar last year, finishing tied for third in the standings with Miller (15 wins) from far less starters (68). He also is sneaky on the grass with eight wins from 37 starts. Betting on all of Glatt’s starters would have produced a flat-bet profit, according to Jim Mazur’s The Del Mar Handicapper 2018.

DOUG O’NEILL: It will be a race to see who starts more horses this meet: Miller or O’Neill. The O’Neill barn gets a lot of horses from J. Paul Reddam and a lot sired by Square Eddie so watch for that combination. O’Neill was tied for third in dirt wins (nine) and grass can be a weakness. However, look at turf sprints because in 2016 O’Neill did well in that category.

OTHERS: Bob Baffert has his second Triple Crown winner in four years but like American Pharoah, Justify won’t run at Del Mar. Baffert led all trainers with 12 dirt wins, with half of them coming from 2-year-olds. He is also usually strong in the sprint and handicap divisions. The best betting option is “the other Baffert.” When he has two horses in the same race, bet the one with the higher odds plus bet an exacta box of his two horses. … Jerry Hollendorfer had just five winners a year ago but he got hot during Santa Anita and might be back to his old self. Watch out for his 2-year-olds, especially the fillies, one of which (Brill) is running on opening day. … Michael McCarthy, the former Todd Pletcher assistant, is starting to get better stock after finishing last summer for third in dirt wins (nine). According to Mazur’s book, McCarthy produced a huge $73 flat-bet profit. … Simon Callaghan is another younger trainer to watch after he had seven 2-year-old winners in 2017. … Steve Miyadi is also good with 2-year-olds (four wins) and first-time starters (three of 11). … Jim Cassidy, the life-long New York Yankees fan, is 7-for-13 in turf sprints the last three years with a profit of $137, according Mazur’s book. … Tom Proctor, who trains mainly for Glen Hill Farm, is a whiz on the turf and he went 6-for-15 at 2017 meet for a flat-bet profit, but don’t expect any large prices because his horses get bet.

FIRST RACE: 1. Watch Me Burn, 2. Jellybeankristine, 3. No Thanks Erik. LONG SHOT: Lakerzwin.

SECOND RACE: 1. Gutsy Effort, 2. Welldidyougetit, 3. Latitude. LONG SHOT: June Two Four.

THIRD RACE: 1. PASTIME (best bet), 2. G Q Covergirl, 3. Painting Corners. LONG SHOT: Invested Prospect.
Let me just say this up front there is no way we are getting the 12-1 morning line on No. 8 Pastime in today’s third race. Trainer Victoria Oliver brings a small string to Del Mar almost every year from Kentucky and always seem to win at a good price, but the word is already out on social media. That being said Oliver is 4-for-11 at Del Mar with horses off a 31- to 60-day layoff like this filly and the average winning price is $20, according to Jim Mazur’s The Del Mar Handicapper 2018.

FOURTH RACE: 1. Robin’s Love, 2. Cylinders, 3. Lil Bit Dangerous. LONG SHOT: Go Smiley Go.

FIFTH RACE: 1. Memorable Election, 2. Rockaway, 3. Ivy Mike. LONG SHOT: Master Ruler.

SIXTH RACE: 1. Magic Musketier, 2. Andesh, 3. Inscom. LONG SHOT: Soltero.

SEVENTH RACE: 1. Secret Spice, 2. Moonshine Memories, 3. Show It N Moe It. LONG SHOT: Treasuring.

EIGHTH RACE: 1. Majorie E, 2. Venue, 3. Oh Pretty Woman. LONG SHOT: Unusual Gold.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS

Top choice winners: 2 (Shivermetimbers $4.60, sixth race; Brill $3.40, seventh)

Second choice winners: 1 (Super Duper Cooper $6.40, ninth)

Third choice winners: 3 (Eighty Three $10.60, third; Dichotomy $5.40, fourth; Ann Arbor Eddie $20, fifth)

Long shot winners: 1 (Jimmy Chila $7, second)

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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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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