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 selections for Saturday, Aug. 22 (Pacific Classic Day)

FIRST RACE: 1. Skelton Pass, 2. Dream Team, 3. Colonial Power. LONG SHOT: Paiasolo.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Ranulf, 2. Life Is a Joy, 3. Sea Preacher. LONG SHOT: Biltmore Boogie.

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THIRD RACE: 1. #2 Another House (4-1), 2. Dylan Ward, 3. Blue Law. LONG SHOT: Chromium.

This 3-year-old got quite an education in his debut at Laurel. He ran into trouble and finished fifth for trainer Tom Proctor. Gary Stevens takes over so look for a big improvement.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Kobe’s Back, 2. Appealing Tale, 3. Wild Dude. LONG SHOT: Turnover.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. #4 Henry’s Holiday (10-1), 2. Got Even, 3. Perfect Set. LONG SHOT: Tribal Jewel.

Finished second and was claimed by Ted West, who is 29% first off the claim. Tries two turns for the first time and should enjoy it being sired by Harlan’s Holiday. West is 2-for-3 with horses going sprint-sprint-route. Jockey Tyler Baze jumps on and he’s 24% with West.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Procurement, 2. Twentytwentyvision, 3. Soi Phet. LONG SHOT: Southern Freedom.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Fabulous Lady, 2. Tiz a Tommy Town, 3. Annie’s Curls. LONG SHOT: Casino Call.

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EIGHT RACE: 1. #9 Danas Best (10-1), 2. Big John B, 3. Ashleyluvssugar. LONG SHOT: Power Ped.

Was fifth horse on the wire in his U.S. debut and now jumps into graded stakes company. Trainer Phil D’Amato is 20% second off the layoff and Joel Rosario jumps on.

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NINTH RACE: 1. #5 Red Vine (6-1) BEST BET, 2. Bayern, 3. Beholder. LONG SHOT: Imperative.

This 5-year-old has three wins and a second on the main track since leaving the grass. Owned by Jon and Sarah Kelly of Rancho Santa Fe so a win at their home track would be huge. Jockey Joel Rosario comes West to ride for Christophe Clement and they are 22% together. I couldn’t talk you off almost any horse in this race. It’s tough. It’s put up or shut up time for Bayern. Would love to see Beholder win, but just not sure about the distance despite fabulous workouts. Imperative is training well as is invader Class Leader.

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10TH RACE: 1. Roy H, 2. Native Treasure, 3. Labour. LONG SHOT: Mal Verde.

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11TH RACE: 1. Mike man’s Gold, 2. Buckleberry Grey, 3. Saint Prado. LONG SHOT: Oligarch.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Friday’s top choice winners: 4 (Basmati $11.80, second race; True Ranger $15.20, fourth; Chief of Staff $4, fifth; Olympic Lady $6.60, seventh)

Friday’s second choice winners: 0

Friday’s third choice winners: 1 (Honey Lake $17.80, sixth)

Friday’s long shot winners: 0

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Belmont Park, Horse racing, Triple Crown

Belmont Park opinions for Saturday, June 6

Jeff Nahill’s Belmont Stakes picks

#6 Frosted

#5 American Pharoah

#2 Tale of Verve

#8 Materiality

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Race 6: #10 Sky Kingdom (6-1)

This race is a trial for jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Bob Baffert for the Belmont later in the day. This 6-year-old has never been worse than second at this distance and he has been training lights out at Santa Anita for this race.

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Race 7: #10 Light the City (12-1)

Tough to explain her last, but she has since been sent East to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who is 58% with horses the first time he runs them. She seems to be training well at Belmont and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who is 34% with McLaughlin, takes over.

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Race 10: #8 Biz the Nurse (15-1)

Our Eyes:  This horse makes his third start in the U.S. and he was a good fourth last time out at Keeneland. He’s moving up in class but in Grade I company in Europe and could be ready to unlease a big effort with new rider Joel Rosario.

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Race 13: #8 Biz Looie (12-1) ***

Our Eyes:  Trainer Jorge Navarro has a horse in the Met Mile and brings this high-priced claimer along, too, and also lets jockey Martin Pedroza ride. This gelding is coming off a wire-to-wire win at Gulfstream, beating the morning-line favorite in this race, Social Inclusion.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Churchill Downs, Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Friday, May 1

Race 2: #11 Vouch for Kitten (8-1)

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey like to go to the winner’s circle during Derby week and this 3-year-old filly makes her debut for trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Joel Rosario. Offspring of Kitten’s Joy are 17% first time turf.

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Race 4: #5 Counterfactual (9-2)

This 3-year-old filly had a ton of trouble in her debut at the Fair Grounds. Trainer Tom Amoss has good numbers in all areas and makes a key jockey switch to James Graham as they are 28% together.

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Race 9: #10 Power Alert (5-1)

The favorite in the Shakertown at Keeneland tired in second race off the layoff for trainer Brian Lynch, who is 26% in turf sprints. There is a ton of speed in here so we think jockey Julien Leparoux will come from off the pace and nail them at the wire. The sire Alert is 32% on the turf.

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Race 12: #4 Lunar Gaze (8-1)

Trainer Tom Amoss and jockey James Graham are looking to have a big Oaks Day. This filly pressed the pace in her debut, but had to wait at the quarter pole and lost all chance. Amoss is 31% with second-time starters.

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Jeff Nahill’s Kentucky Oaks top four

#4 Eskenformoney

#12 Stellar Wind

#1 Forever Unbridled

#10 Oceanwave

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita Park selections for Friday, Dec. 26 (updated)

FIRST RACE: 1. Hot Lightning, 2. Guyfromtheskyfive, 3. Justonemorething. LONG SHOT: Top Estate.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Vegas Street, 2. Rambling House, 3. May B. LONG SHOT: Como Mi Padre.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Hurry Up Henry (best bet), 2. Jimbaran Bay, 3. Captain Carchy. LONG SHOT: Life On Riviera.

Trainer Phil D’Amato was on fire at Los Alamitos and were looking for that roll to continue with HURRY UP HENRY (6-1). This colt drops into a maiden claimer for the first time and D’Amato is 40% with that move. He is also 36% fist time blinkers so we expect this 2-year-old to show plenty of speed.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Wabel, 2. Iancol, 3. Steam Play. LONG SHOT: Passinaflash.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Crux, 2. Mal Verde, 3. Bench Light. LONG SHOT: Life’s Journey.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Thank You Marylou, 2. Jojo Warrior, 3. Taris. LONG SHOT: Stonetastic.

THANK YOU MARYLOU (6-1), a 3-year-old filly, finished third to Judy the Beauty in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint and has been off since then. Trainer Mike Maker has kept her sharp at Gulfstream Park and she has a big work since shipping West. Jockey Joel Rosario keeps the mount.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Heart to Heart, 2. Talco, 3. Alert Bay. LONG SHOT: Red Outlaw.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Shared Belief, 2. Pimpernel (SCRATCHED) new pick: Indianapolis, 3. Chitu. LONG SHOT: Conquest Two Step.

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NINTH RACE: 1. Dea, 2. Foolish Ways, 3. Indian Princess. LONG SHOT: Bourbon Rose.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a flyer on trainer Mark Casse and jockey Corey Nakatani with DEA (12-1), especially on the grass. Casse is 23% maidens making their second start and 22% with 2-year-olds.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Breeders' Cup, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita selections for Friday, Oct. 31 UPDATED (Breeders’ Cup Day 1)

FIRST RACE: Allowance/optional claiming

  1. #11 Intoxicating Move (8-1)
  2. #7 Night Song (3-1)
  3. #8 Hide My Heart (4-1)
  4. #5 Starry Skies (6-1) SCRATCHED New pick: #3 Blingismything

Intoxicating Move has been in the money 6-of-8 times on the downhill turf course with two wins. She just missed last time and gets a preferred outside post. Night Song makes her U.S. debut for trainer Simon Callaghan. She has been away from the races for a year, but Callaghan is 27% with long layoffs and Jamie Spencer, from across the pond, rides and she is coming out of a key race (three next out winners).

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SECOND RACE: Grade II Las Vegas Marathon

  1. #7 Sky Kingdom (5-1)
  2. #9 Cary Street (10-1)
  3. #3 Irish Surf (4-1)
  4. #6 Mystery Train (4-1) SCRATCHED New pick: #8 Volkonsky

Sky Kingdom could just be the start of a big weekend for trainer Bob Baffert. This 5-year-old horse has been off form but he loves these marathon distances. He has three wins from six tries at Santa Anita and could be ready for a big effort. Mystery Train is the real mystery here after showing high speed in the Pacific Classic and Awesome Again. Maybe he wanted to go this far all along.

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THIRD RACE: Golden State Juvenile Fillies

  1. #4 My Fiona (2-1)
  2. #6 Joylicious (12-1) SCRATCHED New pick: #9 Tatum’s Gold
  3. #7 Ashley’s Sassy (3-1)
  4. #1 Stormy Adieu (9-2)

My Fiona has done little wrong in Cal-bred company, having never been off the board in four lifetime starts. Southern California leading jockey Rafael Bejarano takes over for the daughter of Ghostzapper. We might get a clue how the Santa Anita oval is playing in this 7-furlong event. Joylicious just broke her maiden in Northern California and could be the upsetter.

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FOURTH RACE: Grade II Twilight Derby

  1. #8 Flamboyant (6-1)
  2. #11 Ring Weekend (3-1)
  3. #10 Long On Value (6-1)
  4. #5 Patriots Rule (12-1)

This race is wide open and any of the 12 horses could win it, especially since the favorite, Ring Weekend, is parked in an outside post. Flamboyant didn’t like Del Mar’s grass, but showed an affinity for the Santa Anita course in winning his U.S. debut in April. Word on the street is that he has been training well for this spot and jockey Joel Rosario keeps the mount.

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FIFTH RACE: Damascus Stakes

  1. #3 Chitu (4-1)
  2. #2 Midnight Hawk (7-2)
  3. #12 Unbridled’s Note (8-1)
  4. #11 Bahamian Squall (4-1)

Trainer Bob Baffert could legitimately hit the trifecta here as in addition to the top two horses he has Declassify (6-1) in the race, too. Chitu and Midnight Hawk were on the Kentucky Derby trail this spring but only Chitu got there (finishing ninth to California Chrome). Both horses have been training well for their return with Midnight Hawk slightly better, however, Chitu beat him twice this spring so we’ll stick with that.

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SIXTH RACE: Juvenile Turf

1. #2 Daddy D T (15-1)

2. #14 Danny Boy (20-1)

3. #5 Hootenanny (3-1)

4. #7 War Envoy (9-2)

Trainer John Sadler experimented last time by putting this 2-year-old Daddy D T on the dirt. Big mistake. This ridgling is a turf horse, scoring a stakes win over the green stuff at Del Mar. Jockey Corey Nakatani is reunited with the horse, who should get a nice inside run from the No. 2 hole.

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SEVENTH RACE: DIRT MILE

1. #8 Fed Biz (7-2)

2. #1 Goldencents (6-5)

3. #6 Golden Ticket (15-1)

4. #2 Carve (15-1)

Fed Biz just lost to Shared Belief, who will be the odds-on favorite in Saturday’s BC Classic. The Bob Baffert-trainee can either press the pace or come from off of it. Goldencents is the defending champ and will be tough in this spot.

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EIGHTH RACE: JUVENILE FILLIES TURF

1. #3 Sunset Glow (7-2)

2. #14 Qualify (5-1)

3. #4 Lady Eli (6-1)

4. #6 Sivoliere (12-1)

Sunset Glow has done well in Europe and then came over to win the Del Mar Debutante, but trainer Wesley Ward thinks she is best on turf and who are we to argue. Qualify, an import from Europe, has a tough post but is quality. Sivoliere is jockey Gary Stevens’ first start back from knee replacement surgery.

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NINTH RACE: DISTAFF

1. #10 Untapable (5-2)

2. #2 Tiz Midnight (10-1)

3. #11 Close Hatches (3-1)

4. #8 Valiant Emilia (20-1)

Untapable will be everyone’s Pick Six single and with good reason. She has been training lights out and with Beholder out of the race Untapable will be less than 2-1. Love the way Tiz Midnight is coming up to the race for Bob Baffert and it’s tough to figure out Close Hatches’ last race.

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10TH RACE: Allowance optional claiming

  1. #11 Whine for Wine (8-1)
  2. #2 Day of Fury (6-1)
  3. #7 Jimmy Bouncer (9-2)
  4. #5 Test Ride (12-1)

How wide open is this race? Jimmy Bouncer is the morning-line favorite at 9-2. Whine for Win is one of our tophorses, coming out of a race with four next out winners. Day of Fury just broke his maiden for trainer Bob Baffert and has been training well for his initial try against winners. Jockey Gary Stevens, he of the knee replacements, takes the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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