Horse racing, Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs opinions for Saturday, Feb. 13

Preview: Great card. All one had to do was look at the jockeys scheduled to run (Javier Castellano, John Velazquez, Julien Leparoux, Jose Lezcano) to know it’s a big stakes day at Tampa. Four stakes on card so should be some prices, hopefully.


Race 2: #6 Quick Coconut (6-1) 

This is a first-time starter from the Gerald Bennett barn, which is 29% with debuting maiden claimers. Jockey Ronnie Allen Jr. rides and he is 12-for-24 with Bennett over the last 60 days.


Race 4: #7 Ms. Scarlet Fever (6-1) 

This 3-year-old filly has never been worse than fifth in five races and that was a stakes race where she was over her head as a maiden. This is a tough race, but trainer Joe Arboritanza is 4-for-7 with horses cutting back in distance.


Race 6: #5 Mata Mua (turf only) (15-1) 

It isn’t often that you get a morning-line like this on trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Javier Castellano. McGaughey is 2-for-2 this winter shipping in to Tampa and Castellano got to know this filly last time at Gulfstream Park when she showed speed and tired going longer.


Race 10: #3 A Lot (turf only) (10-1) 

 Trainer Bill Mott ships this son of Tapit in for this race. Mott takes the blinkers off and he’s 23% with that move. This 4-year-old finished third by a neck in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park. The big difference today is he’s moving from an outside post to inside, where his speed can be rationed better by Jose Lezcano.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Breeders' Cup, Horse racing, Keeneland, Keeneland Race Course, Kentucky, Lexington

Breeders’ Cup selections for Friday, Oct. 30

In case you don’t know it, Beholder has been scratched from Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic due to bleeding in her lungs after a gallop on Thursday.

It’s a shame because I really wanted to see her face American Pharoah, but the show much go on so here are my thoughts for Friday.



7-Ray’s The Bar


11-Hollywood Don


If we get this morning-line, I’ll be stunned as trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano just don’t go off at 20-1. RAY’S THE BAR had traffic trouble in U.S. debut so here’s hoping for a clean trip.




3-Liam’s Map

1-Red Vine

7-War Envoy

LIAM’S MAP will be everyone’s single here. Not me. This Bill Mot runner LEA is a perfect 3-for-3 at the distance and finished third in the Dubai World Cup. Mott put a good work into over the track recently signaling all systems are go.



3-Alice Springs


14-Last Waltz


Sticking with the Euros in this race. They just seem to do well here. The condition of the turf course will be a concern to some after rain most of the week but reports are that the inside is harder than the inside so you might see horses all over the place depending on what type of turf they prefer.



1-I’m a Chatterbox

14-Sheer Drama

7-Wedding Toast

6-My Sweet Addiction

Boy, if Beholder was healthy and running in this race she would be 1-9. She’s not so let’s go with an up and coming 3-year-old filly facing older for the first time in I’M A CHATTERBOX. Larry Jones is a great trainer and will have her ready.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Belmont Park, Horse racing, Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos (and Belmont) opinions for Thursday, July 2

Race 1: #1 Zees Chris (10-1)

Our Eyes:  Jockey Drayden Van Dyke was the king of Los Alamitos last year, granted he had a 5-pound weight allowance, but he hasn’t forgotten how to ride. Van Dyke jumps on this long shot for trainer Mike Harrington and we’ll take a flyer. I’m kind of stunned Van Dyke only has three mounts on the card. Why would trainers put no name jockeys on their mounts instead of a jockey who dominated this track last year? Just plain stupid. 


Race 3: #1 Warm Endowment (7-2)

Van Dyke jumps on this first-timer starter for trainer Dean Pederson, who is 23% with firsters. This daughter of Unusual Heat (9% with first timers) has been training well at Los Alamitos and should be ready to go.


Race 7: #4 Magic Mark (15-1)

This gelding had a third over the track last year and now trainer Ron Ellis has him third off the layoff (31%). Van Dyke jumps on and he is 32% with Ellis.



Race 6: #3 Messi (4-1)

Trainer Graham Motion is 32% with horses making their U.S. debuts. This one was suppose to run last week, but it was rained off the turf. Motion adds Lasix and has gelded the horse since its last race.


Race 8: #5 Can’thelpbelieving (8-1)

Trainer Graham Motion gave this colt a confidence builder with a win at Parx. Top jockey Javier Castellano takes the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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

Santa Anita (plus a few others) opinions for Saturday, June 27

Race 2: #7 Architop (5-2)

When trainer Richard Mandella drops a horse into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time, he means business to the tune of 39% like with this son of Arch. Jockey Flavien Prat showed speed with this one in the last two and if he does that here, he might go wire-to-wire.


Race 8: #7 Fanticola (7-2)

This 5-year-old mare just missed going longer in the Grade I Gamely Handicap and now she gets to go shorter which means she will be able to go harder earlier. Trainer Phil D’Amato is 21% in graded stakes.


Race 10: #6 Where Was Eddie (7-2)

This is a first-time starter by In Excess, who wins at an 18% rate first time out. This 3-year-old colt has been tearing up the track in the mornings.



Race 5: #5 Private Tale (8-1)

This 7-year-old won over the surface and now moves up in class and tries to go longer. Trainer Mike Maker is 38% with horses winning back-to-back in the claiming ranks plus top jockey Javier Castellano takes the mount.



Race 10: #10 Langdarma (15-1)

This 3-year-old has been ITM 6 of 9 career races and just missed last time. Maybe moving to the turf will do the trick for the son of Candy Ride, who is coming out of a key race that has produced two winners so far.



Race 9: #3 Racetrack Romance (4-1)

Trainer Marcial Navarro did us right the other day so we’re going back to the well. Navarro is winning 43% of his races this year and is 8-for-13 at Gulfstream. This gelding just won at the condition but is now shortening up and being put up for a claiming price. Jockey Eddie Castro is 3-for-5 in the last 60 days with Navarro.

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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.

Horse racing, Pimlico

Pimlico Race Course opinions for Friday, May 15

Race 2: #7 Samantha Nicole (3-1)

Just broke maiden at Keeneland and might score right back. Trainer Kirian McLaughlin is 33% third off the layoff.


Race 6: #7 Holiday Camp (fast track only) (5-1)

Tough to ready explain this 3-year-olds last race other than he might not have liked the wet track because Bob Baffert horses are usually ready to go off the layoff. Jockey Victor Espinoza jumps on and is 6-for-9 in the last 60 days for Baffert .


Race 8: Windy Forcast (10-1)

Lost to the ultra-tough Avenge going down the hill last time. Trainer Simon Callaghan returns her to the dirt, where she has her only career victory so she might surprise with Gary Stevens aboard.


Race 9: #1 Grateful Nation (turf only) (15-1)

Tough not like this gelding at this price with jockey Javier Castellano aboard. The 5-year-old has faced many of these before and held his own. Just finished third off a long layoff and has never been off the board over with course in five tries (1-2-2).  Watch out for DREAMSGONEWILD, who comes out of a race that has produced five winners.


Race 10: #10 Yahilwa (9-2)

Once this mare got away from the top fillies on the West Coast she aired in the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne. She faces tougher here but she could go back-to-back. Victor Espinoza rides for trainer Jim Cassidy.


Race 11 (Black-Eyed Susan): 1. Ahh Chocolate, 2. Include Betty, 3. Luminance, 4. Keen Pauline. LONG SHOT: Pure.

This is a wide-open race for the 3-year-old fillies. LUMINANCE is the likely favorite for Bob Baffert, but I’m hesitant to pick her after Baffert’s poor effort Derby weekend sans American Pharoah, plus Stellar Wind didn’t run well in the Kentucky Oaks, which is whom Luminance finished behind last time.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Thursday, April 30

Race 4: #1 Simplicityizegnius (6-1)

This 3-year-old turned in a even effort in debut at 6 ½ furlongs. Trainer Phil D’Amato now goes long second time out (26%) and puts blinkers on (35%). There’s a good blow out work showing from earlier in the week and Joe Talamo stays aboard .


Race 8: #8 Sir Irish Danny (8-1)

Trainer John Sadler loves to claim young horses and then turn them around. Here he has a $50K claim by Unusual Heat making his first turf start (12%) and Sadler is 24% first off the claim.


Bonus Churchill Downs pick

Race 8: #3 Nileator (4-1)

This 3-year-old must beat an even-money favorite in this spot, but he comes out of a Gulfstream Park race that has produced four next out winners . Trainer Dale Romans is 21% turf to dirt and all-world jockey Javier Castellano takes the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter