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.

Churchill Downs, Horse racing

RACE 6 (Grade I Humana Distaff): 1. #3 Mines and Magic (15-1), 2. #5 Finest City (8-5), 3. #6 Lightstream (5-1). Long shot: #1 Super Humor (20-1).

Mines and Magic is a perfect 3-for-3 on the surface, but has never run on a wet track. Finest City is coming off a loss to Vale Dori at Santa Anita.

Race 7 (Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile): 1. #6 Roca Rojo (3-1), 2. #4 Believe in Bertie (6-1), 3. #2 Miss Temple City (9-5). Long shot: #8 Prize Exhibit (12-1).

Roca Rojo almost won the Matriarch at Del Mar but lose by a nose to Miss Temple City. Time to turn the tables.

Race 8 (Grade III Pat Day Mile): 1. #4 Uncontested (5-1), 2. #5 No Dozing (5-1), 3. #8 Wild Shot (4-1). Long shot: #11) Sonic Mule (10-1).

If there is a big race, I want jockey Mike Smith aboard and he rides this 3-year-old for the first time here.

Race 9 (Grade II American Turf): 1. #10 Good Samaritan (5-1), 2. #9 Made You Look (6-1), 3. #2 Big Score (6-1). Long shot: #6 Arklow (12-1).

How much of a bog will the turf course be by the time of this race? Good Samaritan finished third in the BC Juvenile Turf and four next out winners have been produced from that race.

Race 10 (Grade II Churchill Downs): 1. #8 El Kabeir (6-1), 2. #1 Awesome Slew (4-1), 3. #12 Denman’s Call (8-1). Long shot: #3 Schivarelli (20-1).

El Kabeir is coming out of a key race at Gulfstream where the first three runners have all come back to win.

Race 11 (Grade I Woodword Reserve Turf Classic): 1. #4 Conquest Panthera (8-1), 2. #6 Bal a Bali (6-1), 3. Divisidero (4-1). LONG SHOT: #3 Oscar Nominated (15-1).

RACE 12 (Grade I Kentucky Derby): 1. #12 Sonneteer (50-1), 2. #8 Hence (15-1), 3. #18 Gormley (15-1), 4. #19 Practical Joke (20-1). Long shot: #9 Irap (20-1).
The Derby preps this year have been confounding to say the least and what kind of track there will be today just adds another hard factor to handicap. So in a wide open year why not go with a long shot? Sonneteer is still a maiden, but maybe the richest maiden in the country. His two come-from-behind runs at Oaklawn Park just might set him up for today’s 1 1/4-mile race. I know this much Keith Desormeaux knows how to train and his horses love the mud. Jockey Kent Desormeaux will have to give a way better ride than he did last time in the Arkansas Derby. I thought he waited too long. Hence comes out of the Sunland Derby, which has proven to be a productive race. Florent Geroux can ride and I know Steve Asmussen can train. Gormley is the best in the West and Practical Joke maybe a “wise guy” horse.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter


Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 6 (Kentucky Derby Day)

Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Wednesday, Nov. 23

Preview: There is a rollover of $139,275 in the Single Six wager and there is also rain in the forecast so don’t expect the turf races to stay on the green.

Race 6: #8 Teenertown Prince (6-1)
This 3-year-old drops to his lowest level ever and comes out of a key race that has produced three next out winners. Trainer Forest Kaelin is 29% with horses off a 46- to 90-day layoff and he gets Calvin Borel to ride. The sire Speightstown gets 21% winners on a wet track.

Race 9: #12 Takeittotheedge (8-1)
Our Eyes: This 3-year-old is making his second race start off the layoff and look who he lost to in some of his past races: Cupid, Forevamo and Nyquist. Trainer Dale Romans is 23% with beaten favorites. Faces several he lost to in return and could like the mud as sire Broken Vow is 18% on off-tracks.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Saturday, Aug. 13

Preview: Several riders, including leading jockey Flavien Prat. It could be a big day for jockey Rafael Bejarano, who has missed several weekend days to ride for trainer Bob Baffert.

Well, couldn’t catch a break Friday as in almost all the dirt races we had the lead at the head of the stretch, but the horses went backwards from there. You have to remember the track gets worked on Fridays after mornings workouts. According to several people, the track was playing slow and deep on the card.

Hope for better results today.

Race 1: 1. Mr T Bird, 2. Tattenham, 3. On Draft. LONG SHOT: Yes Yes Yes.

Race 2: 1. Very Hot, 2. Decoded, 3. Dixie Chick Rocks. LONG SHOT: Lofty Cause.

Race 3: 1. Buymeabond, 2. Horizontalyspeakin, 3. Te Rapa. LONG SHOT: Unusual Taste.

Race 4: 1. Amodei, 2. Six Point Rack, 3. Upstaging the Cast. LONG SHOT: Burnt Cognac.

Race 5: 1. Seve’s Road, 2. Crown the Kitten, 3. China Girl Lover. LONG SHOT: Infobedad.

Race 6: 1. Weirdhaircut Seth, 2. King’s To You, 3. Dream It Do It. LONG SHOT: It’s Just Bob.

Race 7: 1. #3 Budokan (8-1), 2. Big Gray Rocket, 3. Gemstorm. LONG SHOT: Cut.

This first-time starter from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn has a couple of good works over the track and it isn’t often you get a price like this on The Dorf. The sire Hard Spun is 10% first time out and Hollendorfer is 28% first time out.

Race 8: 1. Klimt, 2. Big League, 3. Thirstforlife. LONG SHOT: Rinse and Repeat.

Race 9: 1. #11 Ashley’s Sassy (5-1) BEST BET, 2. Brainspin, 3. Fantasy of Luck. LONG SHOT: Be a Lady.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano had a choice of four horses in this race and chooses this Peter Eurton-trained filly. She has a couple of good works coming into the race and Eurton is 24% with horses off a 61 to 180-day layoff and he’s 26% with Bejarano.

Race 10: 1. #7 Brooks House (6-1), 2. Onzaway, 3. Georgia Blue. LONG SHOT: Exuberante.

This filly had all kinds of trouble in her last at Churchill Downs and now trainer Victoria Oliver, who is 2-1-1-0 at the meet, ships her west. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, who won for Oliver earlier in the meet, gets on.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Churchill Downs, Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 7

Kentucky Derby selections
#13. Nyquist
#11. Exaggerator
#9. Destin
#6. My Man Sam
It took me a while to warm up to the undefeated Nyquist, also trained by O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez. I tried to beat him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile because of his poor post draw, but I did have him in my West Coast trifecta that finished 1-2-4. It was that race that turned me around. Once he got the lead, he won’t let you go past him. It’s been the same in his 2016 races. Go back and look at the replays. Exaggerator had dead aim on him in February and Nyquist wouldn’t let him by. Believe me, the Desormeaux brothers (trainer Keith and jockey Kent) were more than happy to see Nyquist go to the Florida Derby, where he beat the best in the East to collect a $1 million bonus. Meanwhile, Exaggerator stayed in Arcadia and turned in an impressive turn of foot in the sloppy Santa Anita Derby win. Destin is coming out of win in the Tampa Bay Derby, which has produced three next out winners, while My Man Sam has some closing ability. My real LONG SHOT is the maiden Trojan Nation. I don’t know if he can win, but I think he can shake up the exotics.

Race 3: #10 Jimbo Fallon (4-1): This colt is coming off a 13-month layoff, but word is that he has been the workout mate for Mor Spirit, who runs later on the card in the Derby, and by the looks of the works JF has been holding his own. Another positive is he’s a 4-year-old running against a lot of 3-year-olds.

Race 8: #9 Birdatthewire (5-1: Dale Romans is back training this filly and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is back in the saddle. Smith has won her before at 7 furlongs, just like today. Her wins all show one thing: a long sustained run from the back and we expect the same here.

Race 10: #2 Ralis (10-1): The colt hasn’t had the same success he had as a 2-year-old, but he has been working out with likely Derby favorite Nyquist in Kentucky. Trainer Doug O’Neill tries to get him to focus by adding blinkers and jockey Mario Gutierrez is reunited with him.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Churchill Downs, Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Friday, May 6

Race 7 – CD
#2 Jade Princess (8-1): Simple philosophy: If you lost to undefeated Songbird, it’s no disgrace and play next time without her in the same race. This 3-year-old filly comes out of the Santa Ysabel that Songbird won and two fillies came out of the race to win, including Land Over Sea. Trainer Bob Baffert knows Churchill Downs well and gets Victor Espinoza to ride.

Race 10 – CD
#3 Nodiac (15-1) (turf only): Trainer Phil D’Amato has shipped a string from SoCal to Kentucky this spring and is spreading his wings. This filly finished third over a yielding course and now gets the services of jockey Flavien Prat, who is 32 with D’Amato and one of the top turf riders in SoCal.

Kentucky Oaks selections
1. #13 Land Over Sea
2. #6 Mokat
3. #3 Lewis Bay
4. #2 Weep No More
Like I said before if you lost to Songbird you go to the head of the class. LAND OVER SEA lost so many times Doug O’Neill decided to go to the Fair Grounds to win a race. MOKAT finished second to Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks in the mud.

Race 13 – CD
#6 Kiss Limit (3-1): As we said trainer Phil D’Amato has come to the Blue Grass and he stepped up to claim this colt off Mike Maker for 50K. By virtue of a cheaper maiden claiming win, this 3-year-old gets to run in a starter allowance. D’Amato is 24% first off the claim and gets that man Flavien Prat (32%) to ride.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs opinions for Friday, March 11

Preview: Field sizes are finally improving, but everyone is waiting for Saturday’s big Tampa Bay Derby card. On the dirt, trainers to watch are Gerald Bennett (37-119), Jamie Ness (22-84), Kathleen O’Connell (19-91), Dale Bennett (14-47) and Dennis Ward (11-92).


Race 2 – Tam

#1 Burley Blaise (6-1) 

Trainer Ian Wilkes races him into shape and this one has been overmatched at Gulfstream Park so Wilkes ships north and drops. Wilkes is 33% when he moves a horse down in class two of more levels.


Race 7 – Tam                

#8 Wicked Rascal (9-2) 

This gelding was overmatched in a minor stakes at Gulfstream Park but he’s back and if he shows the speed he did previously at this track with jockey Antonio Gallardo, he could be gone.


Race 8 – Tam                

#6 Peej (8-1) (turf only) 

Trainer Chris Block is 24% with horses coming off a 90-plus day layoff. This gelding is also coming out of a key Churchill Downs race that has produced three next out winners.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Saturday, Aug. 15

FIRST RACE: 1. BELLAMY CONCERTO, 2. Carson City Five, 3. Midnight Man. LONG SHOT: Attack.

SECOND RACE: 1. Freethinker, 2. Hiking, 3. Show Stealer. LONG SHOT: Tiz a Kiss.
THIRD RACE: 1, Mt Veeder, 2. Beaumarchais, 3. American League. LONG SHOT: Quality Line.
FOURTH RACE: 1. #6 Carlot Cowboy (6-1), 2. All Squared Away, 3. Broadway Nika. LONG SHOT: The Mad Hungarian.

Just throw this gelding’s last race as he has never won a wet track and that’s what he had last time in addition to be first off the layoff. The 5-year-old has won 6-of-22 on a fast dirt track and jockey Tiago Pereira rides back for trainer Bill Spawr.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Dr. Vincentstein, 2. Public Policy, 3. Justonemorthing. LONG SHOT: Rebel Rebel.
SIXTH RACE: 1. Toowindytohaulrox, 2. Weewinnin, 3. Jules Journey. LONG SHOT: Surfcup.
SEVENTH RACE: 1. Forthenineteen, 2. Plane Lucky, 3. Patriotic Diamond. LONG SHOT: Miles Sister.
EIGHTH RACE: 1. #8 Sunset Glow (best bet), 2. Rattataptap, 3. Prize Exhibit. LONG SHOT: Zipessa.

Race 8: #8 Sunset Glow (3-1) BEST BET

Just don’t think this 3-year-old filly liked the softened turf last time. Think she wants it firm and no rain is in the forecast. Trainer Wesley Ward is 27% second off the layoff and jockey Gary Stevens stays aboard.


NINTH RACE: 1. #5 Allidoisdreamofyou (8-1), 2. Unblunted, 3. London Legacy. LONG SHOT: Whine for Wine.

This 3-year-old didn’t like the going last race at Churchill Downs and ships out here looking to cash. Trainer Ron Ellis is 36% first time with horses and this one had a good work over the track this week. Look for Fernando Perez to put this one in the race early.


10TH RACE: 1. Sweet Promises, 2. Artisticdifference, 3. Sweetthancandy. LONG SHOT: Nashoba’s Candy.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Friday’s top choice winners: 1 (Wanstead Gardens $14.80, seventh)

Friday’s second choice winners: 2 (Brimstoned $8.20, second’ Ticaboo $7, fifth)

Friday’s third choice winners: 0

Friday’s long shot winners: 2 (Curlin’s Fox $6.20, third; Carlos Dangerous $6.40, fourth)

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Friday, August 14

FIRST RACE: 1. Pefiolo, 2. Omburman, 3. Warren’s Wesley. LONG SHOT: Doyouknowsomething.

SECOND RACE: 1. Far Out Kailee, 2. Brimstoned, 3. Derby Glass. LONG SHOT: Cinmars Dance.
THIRD RACE: 1. #6 HAVANNA BELLE (6-1) (best bet), 2. Princess Charm, 3. Spirit of Zian. LONG SHOT: Curlin’s Fox.

On her third try, won her first race in the U.S. in May and then went to sidelines. Trainer Phil D’Amato is 21% 61 to 180-day layoffs and is 30% with horses that won their last race. Tyler Baze jumps on and he is 31% with D’Amato.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Bussjaeger, 2. Scatastic, 3. Captain Akers. LONG SHOT: Carlos Dangerous.
FIFTH RACE: 1. Lily Kai, 2. Peggy Sue’s Loose, 3. Ticaboo. LONG SHOT: Journeyonthemove.
SIXTH RACE: 1. Ain’t Misbehavin, 2. Pat the Bear, 3. Tiz Jolie. LONG SHOT: Silvertron.
SEVENTH RACE: 1. Wanstead Gardens, 2. Texas Ryano, 3. Street Maven. LONG SHOT: Terrys Tom Cat.
EIGHTH RACE: 1. #11 I’ll Play My Hand (5-1), 2. I’m Zonin, 3. Dirt in Your Face. LONG SHOT: Southern Loyalty.

The son of Bring the Heat ends up in the Phil D’Amato barn after a claim at this level at Churchill Downs. Showed speed in last race and will likely show it from the outside post. D’Amato is 27% first off the claim and 26% with maiden claimers.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Thursday’s top choice winners: 1 (Intoxicating Move $5.60, fifth race)
Thursday’s second choice winners: 1 (Unusually Green $5.40, seventh)
Thursday’s third choice winners: 4 (Alyeska $10, first; Imflatoutsweet $3.60, third; Swiss Affair $53.40, sixth; Swiss Cheese $7, eighth)
Thursday’s long shot winners: 0
Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, Horse racing, Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos (plus a few others) opinions for Thursday, July 9

Race 3: #5 Myrna Lou (8-1)

Has a good second over the track last year and has good speed. Has a good work over the track. Trainer Molly Pearson is 29% with beaten favorites and regular jockey Scott Stevens is in from Turf Paradise to ride. He is 33% with Pearson.


Race 6: #8 Changing Karma (8-1)

This gelding has been competitive on the main circuit and had a good second over this track in December. Trainer Tom Bazley has good numbers all the way around led by 55% with horses coming off a 31 to 60-day layoff.



Race 3: #8 Ask the Lonely (5-1)

Trainer Michelle Nevin starts this 2-year-old filly by Congrats, who is 12% with first-timers. The dam has dropped five winners, including two stakes winners. Nevin is 11% with debuting MSW types and jockey Jose Ortiz is 7 for his last 23 rides.


Race 5: #1 Baby B (12-1)

This filly hasn’t had munch success on the turf so it’s time to go back to the dirt, where she finished third in her only try. Trainer Richard Schosberg is 30% going turf to dirt. She is also dropping to a career low in claiming ranks and hopefully hot jockey Jose Ortiz will put her on the lead with her speed.



Race 4: #5 Hard to Picture (3-1)

Trainer Michael Petro, who has a lot of horses for owner Frank Calabrese, is 6-for-9 with horse making their second start on the turf. The daughter of Hard Spun finished fourth in her debut at Churchill Downs. Apprentice jockey Tyler Gaffalione (38% with Petro) takes the mount.


Race 5: #5 R Quick Temper (5-1)

Don’t be fooled by the trainer’s name on this 2-year-old filly. Sally Mitchelhill is the listed trainer, but this horse is really trained by Kirk Ziadie, who hasn’t had his license renewed by the state. The daughter Elusive Quality has some good works over at Calder the sire is 13% with firsters.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter