Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar picks for Thursday, Nov. 22 (first post 11 a.m.)

Preview: It’s the third meet of the meet, eight more racing days to go. As far as post positions go, in dirt sprints the No. 2 (1-for-30) and No. 6 (1-for-28) haven’t been good for whatever reason. Dirt distance races have been fair for the most part. On the turf course, the No. 1 post is an awful 1-for-24 while posts No. 6 (6-for-24) and No. 9 (5-for-16) have over performed. Just keep it in mind.

Race 1: 1. The All Button, 2. Proud of Our Kids, 3. Eichel. LONG SHOT: Evolve.

Race 2: 1. Jonny’s Choice, 2. Alex Rossi, 3. Which Market. LONG SHOT: Broadway Nika.

Race 3: 1. Sky Preacher, 2. Got Even, 3. Poshsky. LONG SHOT: Professor Berns.

Race 4: 1. #1 Uptown Rythem (6-1) BEST BET, 2. Drover Crazy, 3. Basinca. LONG SHOT: He’s a Tiger.
This filly won her last race, was claimed but returned to trainer Carla Gaines after the claim was voided. She’s been away since March so obviously there was a problem, but Gaines is 19% with long layoffs and the horse is 2-for-3 at the distance.

Race 5: 1. #7 Family Code (4-1), 2. Brandothebartender, 3. Anatoalian Heat. LONG SHOT: Royal Privacy. 

Trainer Robertino Diodoro is off to a 6-2-1-1 start at the meet and he drops this gelding off a Santa Anita win. Diodoro is 42% when he drops off a win. He puts 3-year-old on the turf for the first time looking to increase his value. The sire Desert Code gets 8% first-time turf winners.

Race 6: 1. Forever Darling, 2. Lily Pod, 3. Brainspin. LONG SHOT: Ultimate Holiday.

Race 7: 1. #3 Swear By It (10-1), 2. Arles, 3. Nuovo Record. LONG SHOT: Generosidade.

Trainer Nicolas Esler ships from New York looking for a graded stakes win for this 5-year-old mare. She holds an amazing 21-point Brisnet Late Pace Rating so she will be rolling in the lane with new rider Norberto Arroyo aboard. There are some tough females in here but she’s a worth a shot at the price.

Race 8: 1. Party Rule, 2. Big Champion 3. Global Even. LONG SHOT: Frosted Boss.


Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Saturday, Aug. 27

Preview: The turf rails will be at 12 feet today so closers should have a shot. Jockeys Flavien Prat (16-for-69) and Rafael Bejarano (10-56) lead the way on the grass. Jockeys to avoid (maybe) are Stewart Elliott 1-for-26, Mike Smith 1-for-25 and Martin Garcia 0-21.

Race 1: 1. #3 Where’s Bubba (6-1) BEST BET, 2. Boompa, 3. Tomasino. LONG SHOT: Exemplar.

Trainer Bill Spawr is good a changing a horses distance. He is 36% when going from a route to a sprint and even more impressive when going sprint-route-sprint he is 56%.

Race 2: 1. Above Board, 2. Latest Craze, 3. Counturluckystars. LONG SHOT: Cavalry.

Race 3: 1. Masochistic, 2. Indexical, 3. Vyjack.

Race 4: 1. Vartan, 2. Dream It Do It, 3. Moose Skowron. LONG SHOT: Dynamic Scoring.

Race 5: 1. #3 Lauren’s Export (12-1), 2. Dust It, 3. Leveler. LONG SHOT: Anythingcanhappen.

Trainer Carla Gaines is 23% when debuting a horse on the turf and this daughter of Lonhro has three straight big works coming into the race. Lonhro is 13% with first-time turfers.

Race 6: 1. Hell On Heels, 2. Krisie’s Heart, 3. Passionate Emotion. LONG SHOT: Dragon Flowerr.

Race 7: 1. Nodiac, 2. Do the Dance, 3. How Unusual. LONG SHOT: Patriotic Diamond.

Race 8: 1. #5 How About Zero (6-1), 2. Miss Sunset, 3. You’re Late. LONG SHOT: I’ll Be Around.

We have seen trainer Doug O’Neill do this before: start a first-time maiden in a stakes race and he has won. This is a daughter of Square Eddie, who gets 16% winners first time out and barn jockey Mario Gutierrez takes the ride.

Race 9: 1. #8 Hansen Tale Blues (10-1), 2. Life’s Blessings, 3. Lovely Linda. LONG SHOT: Soul Singer.

Trainer Victor Garcia is 12% with first-time starters and he always seems to cash a bomber for his father King Juan Garcia, who races under the name Lucky Charm Stable. This son of Hansen has been training steadily and the sire gets 14% first time out. Follow the money.

Race 10: 1. American Aristocat, 2. Temple Keys, 3. Anatolian. LONG SHOT: Over Par.

Good luck

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Wednesday, Aug. 17

Preview: Inside is the place to be this meet at Del Mar, both on the turf and the main track. In turf races, horses starting from posts 1-3 are winning 46% of the time. On the main track in sprints horses in posts 1-5 are winning 59% and in distance races posts 1-4 are winning 55%. Keep it in mind..

Race 1: 1. #2 Adios Princess (7-2), 2. Street Goddess, 3. You Sleep On That. LONG SHOT: Khalaya.
Apprentice jockey Chad Lindsay had his choice of three horses in here and takes this filly, which was placed way above here head in the last. She is 3-2-0-1 at this sprint distance and has the top Brisnet Class Rating.

Race 2: 1. Datsatsa Gem, 2. Beantown Boys, 3. Blowemaway. LONG SHOT: Nicos Way.

Race 3: 1. Ultimate Holiday, 2. Tourny, 3. Snow Cloud. LONG SHOT: Everqueen.

Race 4: 1. Sweet Profit, 2. Stole a Kiss, 3. Cherokee in Me. LONG SHOT: Summer Veil.

Race 5: 1. Howdy Kingkowboy, 2. Amazing Love, 3. Supreme Giant. LONG SHOT: Bic Mitchum.

Race 6: 1. Out Ofthe Ordinary, 2. Kennedie Sky, 3. Summer Lady. LONG SHOT: Sea Smoke.

Race 7: 1. Tara’s Tango, 2. Enchanting Lady, 3. Pretty N Cool. LONG SHOT: Lost Bus.

Race 8: #3 Monterey Shale (3-1), 2. The Big Train, 3. He Could. LONG SHOT: Evicted.
This 4-year-old showed big improvement when moved to the turf. He has the top Class Rating from Brisnet and his running style of pressing the pace should work out well with the rails out to 30 feet on the turf course. Jockey Rafael Bejarano stays on and he is 23% with trainer Carla Gaines.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Wednesday, July 27

Preview: For those that haven’t noticed, the main track has been playing to speed. If you get the lead, you win and if you have the lead at the head of the stretch you are long gone. The track was be dug up on Monday after training hours so what that means this week is anyone’s guess. By my count, only three or four closers have won the dirt. Maybe that will change today so be sure to watch the early races.

Race 1: 1. Ipray, 2. Kristinite, 3. Toppers Sunshine. LONG SHOT: Wahine Warrior.

Rac 2: Downside Up, 2. Westmont, 3. Amazing Love. LONG SHOT: Ninety Nine Proof.

Race 3: 1. #6 Ultimate Holiday (6-1), 2. Bendable, 3. Luminance. LONG SHOT: Diabolical Dame.
This race came up tough for a non-winners of two allowance test. This filly has been training lights out as the pair of bullet works prove for trainer Richard Baltas, who is 21% with horses off a layoff of 61 to 180 days.Look for this filly to make one run for jockey Tyler Baze

Race 4: 1. #1 Sirocco Strike (5-1), 2. All Indians, 3. Louden’s Gray. LONG SHOT: Go Vo.
This gelding has been away from the races for more than 18 months, but he has done well at Del Mar before. There is a nice work for trainer Jeff Mullins last week and Mullins is 21% with horses in for a tag for the first time. On top of that, turf wizard Flavien Prat is aboard.

Race 5: 1. She’s a Warrior, 2. Summertimemischier, 3. Leveler. LONG SHOT: Sid the Squid.

Race 6: 1. Kennedie Sky, 2. Brookes All Mine, 3. Do the Dance. LONG SHOT: Watch the Cat.

Race 7: 1. #2 Smokey Image (7-2), 2. Mrazek, 3. Tribal Fighter. LONG SHOT: Taman Guard.
Trainer Carla Gaines got a bad case of Kentucky Derby fever with this 3-year-old and his performances suffered. Now he is back with his friends (Cal breds), where he is 3-for-3 against, including two wins at Del Mar last summer. This race is full of speed so jockey Martin Garcia must exercise patience. Absolutely the toughest race on the card.

Race 8: 1. #3 Mooney Makin Mike (8-1), 2. Alston, 3. Candy Cowboy. LONG SHOT: Ring Collector.
This colt was claimed out of his last race from trainer Doug O’Neill by trainer Steve Knapp. This is the only situation we will play Knapp as he is 47% first off his last 15 claims. This 3-year-old likes to be near the front, which is good on this track and red-hot jockey Santiago Gonzalez takes over.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 4 (Back beauty $4.40, first race; Hard Caes $2.80, fourth; Coyote Fly $18.20, sixth; Dream Team $3.40, seventh)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 1 (Zinvor $14.80, 10th)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 2 (Avenge $21.20, second; Midnight Pleasure $43,80, ninth)

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Thursday, Feb. 4

Preview: Hopefully the turf course has dried out enough from Sunday’s rain to run on it this week. Thankfully, the weather forecast, which Santa Anita ignored on Sunday, called for sunny weather all week. The rail on the turf course are set at 30 feet which means closer will have a tough time passing in the lane. Look for speed to dominate like it has for much of the meet.


Race 4: #2 Book Thirty Four (5-2)

Trainer Doug O’Neill is never afraid to take a huge crop in class and that’s what he does here.O’Neill is 36% when dropping a horse two or more classes. This gelding has speed, which has been good on the main track, too, and jockey Flavien Prat is keeping the mount.


Race 5: #3 I’m Zonin (4-1)

Trainer Richard Baltas has slowed down since his fast start, but he is due to get hot again. He drop this gelding and Blastas is 22% second off the claim. Perhaps biggest change is move to money rider Rafael Bejarano, who is 29% with Baltas.


Race 8: #8 Uptown Rythem (5-2)

Speed has been good for much of the meet and look for it to stay that way, especially after the rains. Carla Gaines is 40% when dropping a horse two of more class levels as this 5-year-old drops to the bottom of the maiden claiming ranks for the first time and Rafael Bejarano takes over.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita (plus a few others) opinions for Saturday, June 13

Race 2: #6 Broke the Mold (4-1)

This 5-year-old showed speed against better and now drops to the bottom of the maiden claiming ranks. Trainer Carla Gaines is 40% when dropping a horse two of more class levels and she’s 24% going from a route to a sprint.


Race 4: #6 Frandontjudge (turf only) (8-1)

Our Eyes:  Trainer Victor Garcia claimed this filly and moves her up in class. Garcia is 37% from 19 starters first off the claim. Look three races back and this 4-year-old finished a close second at this exact level.


Race 9: #1 Unusual Storm (10-1)

She had a prep over the dirt, but this daughter of Unusual Heat (12% first time out on turf) belongs on the grass. Underrated jockey Flavien Prat rides for trainer Gary Mandella.



Race 8: #7 Missy Bay (turf only) (12-1)

Trainer Dominick Schettino has had a good meet so far and this one was in fine form before a layoff. She is moving up in class but Schettino was 21% with NY-breds in the past at this meet and 20% in turf sprints.



Race 2: #5 Muntij (8-1)

Our Eyes:  Trainer Daniel Pietz is 31% with horses running two sprints into their first route race and this son of Daaher is bred to love the added distance. Jockey Marcelino Pedroza has been hot lately with fours wins from his last 14 mounts.



Race 7: #5 Ima Tornado (10-1)

Trainer Monte Thomas is 21% with first-time starters and the sire Hello Broadway is 7% first time out. In a field with plenty of first-timers, she’s worth a shot with hot apprentice Harry Hernandez aboard.

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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Sunday, Feb. 1

Race 5: #9 Curlin’s Fox (5-2)

Trainer Carla Gaines doesn’t have great numbers with first-time starters, but she knows how to get one ready. This daughter of Curlin has been tearing up the track in the mornings and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith jumps on.


Race 7: #8 Empty Headed (6-1)

This hard-knocking 7-year-old went back East for one winning race last September, was claimed and now is in the barn of Jeff Mullins. Gary Stevens has been riding great and he takes the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Friday, April 4

FIRST RACE: 1. Thisonesforricky, 2. Tiz the Key, 3. Iconic Spirit. LONG SHOT: Sheza Sish.


SECOND RACE: 1. First Strike, 2. Dress Code, 3. Chicsdigtheshark. LONG SHOT: Los Bambinos.


THIRD RACE: 1. Mosso, 2. Southern Digs, 3. Surfer Moon. LONG SHOT: Bart the Barrister.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Water Issues, 2. Lakota Road, 3. Backintheacademy. LONG SHOT: Djimmah.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Fit to Rule, 2. Big Wags, 3. Mensa Heat. LONG SHOT: Anabaa Premium.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Rhagori, 2. Theatre Star, 3. Lady Asano. LONG SHOT: Include the Aussie.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Tres Belle (best bet), 2. Seattle Charlie, 3. My Sweet Addiction. LONG SHOT: Sweet Factory.

This 4-year-old filly TRES BELLE, trained by Bob Baffert, won her career debut on the Santa Anita dirt a year ago and then ran on the Hollywood Park synthetic and Del Mar grass without much success. She returns to the dirt in her first race in 7 months and looks ready to run following a string of strong works.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Golden Chalice (grass only), 2. Stake Hunter, 3. Smart Journey. LONG SHOT: The Custodian.

Trainer Carla Gaines has won with 2-for-3 first-time starters on the grass at the meet and she’s looking to increase that here with GOLDEN CHALICE. Gaines is 32% first-time turf from 22 starters. This son of Lucky Pulpit has a couple of good works in preparation for this race down the hill with jockey Victor Espinoza.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Thursday’s top choice winners: 3 (Our Pure Creation $9, third race; Mavericks Gun $7, fourth; Ginger Tap $9, seventh)

Thursday’s second choice winners: 3 (Clearly Confused $6.20, second; Rossi Reserve $14, sixth; Shakeitupbetty $4, eighth)

Thursdays third choice and long shot winners: 0

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar picks for Wednesday, Aug. 14

The  last five racing days trainer Doug O’Neill won seven races from 20 starters to make the trainer’s race a four-man battle between John Sadler (14 winners, 2-for-16 for the week),  Bob Baffert (12, 0-for-13), Jerry Hollendorfer (11, 4-for-12) and O’Neill (10).

Rafael Bejarano continues to pull away in the jockey’s race. He had eight wins on the week and has 29 for the meet. Former Kentucky Derby winning jockey Mario Gutierrez had an outstanding week with six wins from 17 mounts. Of course, Gutierrez rides a lot for O’Neill.

Jockey Julien Leparoux was 4-for-18 last week while Martin Garcia was 3-for-19 and Edwin Maldonado was 3-for-25. On the flip side, Joe Talamo continues to struggle as he went 1-for-30 for the week. Tough to bet on him these days, especially when he gets out-finished by the likes of apprentice Irving Orozco.

Don’t forget jockey Garrett Gomez is back in the mix and Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens returns from riding in Europe last week.

FIRST RACE: 1. Bubba Fizz, 2. Jets to Brazil, 3. Manewal. LONG SHOT: Zippingaroundtown.

Maldonado and trainer Adam Kitchingman have hit with an amazing 41 percent of their mounts over the last two years from 44 mounts. BUBBA FIZZ returns to sprinting after a failed effort at Santa Rosa going long on the grass. He also takes a drop in class.


SECOND RACE: 1. TANGERINE TICKLE (best bet), 2. Atta Girl Anna, 3. Promiscuoussuances. LONG SHOT: Ziva the Diva.

TANGERINE TICKLE just lost to Glorious Luck, who won impressively on Saturday at Del Mar. This Tribal Rule filly will stalk the pace and let’s hope Talamo gets out of his funk.


THIRD RACE: 1. Scary Fast, 2. Secret Memo, 3. Calameera. LONG SHOT: Spritzy.

The big Pick 6 carryover off more than $255,000 will start here. I wanted desperately to like SPRITZY in this spot for Bejarano and trainer Vann Belvoir, and she could very well win, but her works just haven’t been sensational for her debut. Then, again, maybe Belvoir is trying to hide something. Instead, we went with SCARY FAST, who just finished third at this level and has a good work since that race over the Del Mar Polytrack. Beside, we all know now that trainer Carla Gaines isn’t really suspended and she’s watching all her horses run in the afternoons.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Pawn Shop, 2. Bonita Star, 3. Bas. LONG SHOT: Lindz Winz.

Bejarano jumps on PAWN SHOP for little-known Northern California trainer Genaro Vallejo. They have hit 1-of-2 connections like this in the last year with a huge ROI of $15.30. Bejarano’s agent only puts him on horses that have a shot to win. LINDZ WINZ comes from the Dallas Keen barn, which just got off the 0-for-48 schneid on the Polytrack on Sunday.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Keldy, 2. Patriot C H, 3. Coconut Cream Pie. LONG SHOT: Cravin the Heat.

KELDY is one of six horses in this race going from turf to Polytrack. This 3-year-old daughter of Benchmark finished third at Hollywood Park and secures the services of Stevens for this race.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Cosmic Heat, 2. Unbridled Giant, 3. Frenemy. LONG SHOT: Somewhere With You.

COSMIC HEAT is first off the claim for Ron Ellis, who is 40 percent with this move. We tried this angle last week and got burned by a bad ride on the part of Agipito Delgadillo. Unfortunately, he’s riding here again so let’s hope he doesn’t get trapped on the rail again and no way to get through.


SEVENTH RACE (The Green Flash Handicap): 1. Boat Trip, 2. Wiredfortwotwenty, 3. Distinctiv Passion. LONG SHOT: Circa’sgoldengear.

There’s lots of speed in this race so we’ll go with the closer BOAT TRIP, who is 1-for-1 at the distance and 4-of-6 on the grass.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Frannie’sspirittoo, 2. Dolphin Shorts, 3. Janes Ship. LONG SHOT: Reclusive.

FRANNIE’SSPIRITTOO has third-place finish over the track and may have the right style today. DOLPHIN SHORTS had a tone of trouble in her debut for trainer Mike Mitchell, who is 20 percent second time out. RECLUSIVE has been training well at Hollywood Park, but trainer Eric Kruljac is just 3-for-56 with first-time starters. He admitted in an interview that he tends to give a horse a race before fully cranking them up.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter