Fair Grounds, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, March 26 (Plus Fair Grounds)

Preview: Sort of a tough card with maiden races and the like and fields aren’t all that full. Just have to make the best of it. Plus I added the two big races from the Fair Grounds.


Race 3 – SA

#2 Yana (6-1): The turf stretchout didn’t work for this mare last time so trainer Bill Spawr cuts her back on the dirt and he is 38% going from route to sprint plus he has his main man, Agapito Delagadillo aboard and they are 27%.


Race 9 – SA

#5 Red Buttton (12-1): It could be a big day for the Bill Spawr barn as he brings this gelding back off a poor turf effort. Jockey Joe Talamo jumps on and he’s 24% with Spawr over the last year.




Race 9 – FG

#8 Land Over Sea (3-1): After five straight losses to superstar Songbird, trainer Doug O’Neil has seen enough and decides to flee Southern California. This daughter of Bellamy Road has finished second to Songbird twice this year. O’Neill gets John Velazquez to ride. We’ll never get this morning-line.


Race 10 – FG

#9 Dazzling Gem (12-1): Trainer Brad Cox has said he isn’t running in the Louisiana Derby for the heck of it and we believe him. This 3-year-old is a perfect 2-for-2 and while jockey Shaun Bridgmohan must work out a trip from this bad post, we think he can and the price is right.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter


Fair Grounds, Horse racing, Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs opinions for Saturday, March 26 (plus Fair Grounds)

Preview: The rains hit Friday so I didn’t handicap any of the turf races because I don’t think they will stay on. If the track is wet, check out mud pedigrees. Also it’s that time of the year when trainers get horses ready for other tracks like trainer R. Gary Patrick, who stables at Indiana Downs, and has a pair of layoff horses today. Doubt if they are ready to win, but keep track.
Race 8: #5 Fancy Man (5-2): This colt finished second against better and trainer Dale Bennett drops him. Bennett is 30% third off the layoff and jockey Pablo Morales is 33% with Bennett.
Race 10: #1 Invasion Point (4-1): Just missed against better and takes a drop but jockey Daniel Centeno stays aboard.
Race 9: #8 Land Over Sea (3-1): After five straight losses to superstar Songbird, trainer Doug O’Neil has seen enough and decides to flee Southern California. This daughter of Bellamy Road has finished second to Songbird twice this year. O’Neill gets John Velazquez to ride. We’ll never get this morning-line.
Race 10: #9 Dazzling Gem (12-1): Trainer Brad Cox has said he isn’t running in the Louisiana Derby for the heck of it and we believe him. This 3-year-old is a perfect 2-for-2 and while jockey Shaun Bridgmohan must work out a trip from this bad post, we think he can and the price is right.
@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter
Horse racing, Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs opinions for Saturday, March 12

Race 2: #4 Harp N Halo (4-1): This mare likes to win races and she’s 2-for-3 over this track in the past. Trainer John Terranova ships her in and Terranova is 20% with shippers. On top of that he gets Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride.


Race 5: #4 Elusive Speed (9-2): Trainer Jamie Ness might be known for winning with claiming horses but he can win with first-time starters (24%), too. He also team up with Tampa riding champ Antonio Gallardo and they are a 34% proposition.


Race 8: #6 Family Meeting (8-1) (turf only): This 3-year-old filly was facing tougher in Southern California and won the Grade III Durante at Del Mar. Trainer Tom Proctor can get them ready off the layoff (21%).


Race 11 (TAMPA BAY DERBY):  #3 Outwork (12-1): Trainer Todd Pletcher is playing catch up with this 3-year-old. This is only his third career race but he’s a perfect 2-for-2. Pletcher is 29% with a first-time router and he’s out of Uncle Mo and an Empire Maker mare. Plus jockey John Velazquez comes North for the ride.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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

Breeders’ Cup selections for Saturday, Oct. 31



1-Land Over Sea

9-Rachel’s Valentina

2-Tap to It

I have thought all along SONGBIRD would be the most likely winner on this card, but then she drew outside post, No. 10. I still think she is the one to beat, but I think LAND OVER SEA needs a longer look after drawing No. 1 and finishing second to Songbird two times in a row.



1-Pure Sensation

9-No Silent

14-Mongolian Saturday

4-Bobby’s Kitten

I think this a wide open race. The only thing I think is I’m not betting favored LADY SHIPMAN. If she wins, I lose. I like the fact that PURE SENSATION draws the inside and he likes it hard or soft turf plus John Velazquez rides. I hope NO SILENT comes from off the pace for the Gary Mandella barn.



2-Dame Dorothy

11-Judy the Beauty

6-Super Majesty


This 4-year-old filly DAME DOROTHY is making her third start off the layoff for that powerful jack-trainer combination of Velazquez and Todd Pletcher. She will likely press the pace from the inside and she loves this 7-furlong distance with a 4-for-5 record.





9-Miss France

6-Queen’s Jewel

Once again I’m sticking with the Euros in this race. BAWINA gets the services of Oliver Pesleir back and they have won three races together. She is first time Lasix and had some trouble in her last race.


Race 7: SPRINT

8-Wild Dude


4-Limousine Liberal

2-Kobe’s Back

Of course there is a ton of speed in this race and I’m going with the horse I think is the best closer in WILD DUDE for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Rafael Bejarano.


Race 8: MILE



3-Make Believe


Again sticking with the foreign horses and KARAKONTIE is the defending champions of this race. Can you say back-to-back?







The West Coast horses have done pretty good around the country in the 2-year-old ranks and it will be no different here. Jockey Kent Desormeaux had his choice of horses entered by his brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux, and he settled on this son of Curlin, EXAGGERATOR.


Race 10: TURF


1-Golden Horn

10-The Pizza Man

4-Big John B

GOLDEN HORN will be a lot a single for a lot of people but just not convinced he has to win this race after already winning the Arc in France. I’m going with the 3-year-old filly FOUND, trained by Aiden O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore.


Race 10: CLASSIC

9-Honor Code

4-American Pharoah



Like I said before it’s a shame BEHOLDER isn’t in this race. AMERICAN PHAROAH is now the clear speed although others will likely take a shot at him. I’m going with the deep closer HONOR CODE, trained by Shug McGaughey. Honor Code was impressive at Saratoga and I look for a similar effort.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita (plus a couple others) opinions for June 28, Sunday

Race 2: #3 Missy Mouse (8-1)

Trainer Eddie Truman has been a master with horses running down the hill this meet. This filly broke her maiden going down the hill and then won a first-level allowance race against Cal-breds. Now she runs in open company at same level and will be flying at the end.


Race 7 – SA

#9 Matter of Luck (6-1)

Trainer Dan Blacker drops this filly into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time, a move he is 3-for-3 with. She is also coming out of a key race where the top three finishers all came back to win.


Race 10 – SA

#8 Scuti de Patuti (4-1)

This filly comes out of the same key race the other maiden filly did, too. This daughter of Decarchy finished fifth in that heat and trainer Mike Puype is 21% going from MSW to maiden claiming. Joe Talamo takes the mount.



Race 8: #8 Messi (6-1) SCRATCHED OFF THE TURF

Trainer Graham Motion is 32% with horses running for the first time in the U.S. He adds Lasix and jockey John Velazquez to this import.



Race 4: #6 Big Grandpa (5-1)

Trainer Kirk Ziadie is 37% with horses making a start off a 46-90-day layoff and this one is also coming out of a key race that has produced two winners so far.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita (plus Belmont Park, Churchill Downs) opinions for Friday, June 12

Race 2: #7 Later My Love

Trainer Jeff Bonde is 24% with maiden debuters. This filly has been training well and is bred to win early being out of Lucky Pulpit (13%) and a Mr. Prospector (22%) mare. Fernando Perez (22% with Bonde) rides.


Race 3: #3 Grand Yodeler (turf only)

Trainer Eddie Truman has been on fire (47% at the meet) and really hot with horses going down the hill. Truman is 21% with horses going from dirt to turf and jockey Kent Desormeaux rides back.


Race 8: #8 Native City

Trainer Peter Miller is 27% first-time starters in a maiden claiming race and the sire City Zip is 15% first out. Jockey Tyler Baze, who is 25% with Miller, rides.




Race 6: #2 Courageisamajority (turf only)

This 3-year-old filly came with a furious kick down the lane to just miss in her last start at Aqueduct. Jockey John Velazquez stays on for trainer Graham Motion (2-for-7 in the last 60 days) and she has the best late pace ratings.


Race 9: #5 Jackson N Leonard (turf only)

Trainer Dominick Schettino hit with a bomb on Wednesday, but this gelding won’t be that price. Sire by Colonel John, this 3-year-old woke up on the grass and should love the added distance in this spot. Look for him to come from off the pace.




Race 8: #6 Teniente Coronel (6-1)

Trainer Tom Amoss has huge numbers in a lot of categories so if we get this morning-line it will be a miracle. Amoss is 38% second off the claim and 40% with horses second time in his barn. Another sired by Colonel John, should like the added distance and jockey James Graham sticks.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Monday, Feb. 17

FIRST RACE: 1. Kafister, 2. Keyboard Courage, 3. Candy Waltz. LONG SHOT: Congregationalist.


SECOND RACE: 1. Dublin Up, 2. Garen, 3. Big Tire. LONG SHOT: Big Medicine Man.


THIRD RACE: 1. Bench Press, 2. Tasha’s Courage, 3. High On Final. LONG SHOT: Ice Cream Truck.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Memphis, 2. Jet Warrior, 3. Toledo Eddie. LONG SHOT: Dreamnofatticus.

MEMPHIS, a 6-year-old gelding, isn’t a win machine, but he likes to collect checks. He’s coming out of races that say he can be right there at the finish. He has speed and Martin Garcia takes over in the saddle for trainer Beau Greely.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Beverly the Boss, 2. Abide in Me, 3. La Sorella. LONG SHOT: See Ya Signe.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Hearitforthegirls, 2. Ipolita, 3. Moscato Girl. LONG SHOT: Gisxele At Fonz’s.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Tapicat, 2. Egg Drop, 3. Pontchatrain. LONG SHOT: Miss Serendipity.

It isn’t often Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will ship West, but that’s what he does here with TAPICAT, a daughter of Tapit, and on top of that jockey John Velazquez is named to ride. This will be her first try against older fillies and mares but her workouts say she is ready.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Miss Loujean, 2. Meinertzhageni, 3. Rovenna. LONG SHOT: Wonderful Lie.

MISS LOUJEAN, a daughter of Unusual Heat, has a ton of speed and almost broke her maiden over this surface. She is coming out of an open allowance race where the 1-2 finishers were 1-2 again in a minor stakes on Saturday and this 3-year-old filly is dropping into state-bred competition. She will be gunned from the rail and see how far her speed can take her.


NINTH RACE: 1. Shame On Alex, 2. He’s Not too Shaby, 3. Candy’s Surprise. LONG SHOT: Dixieland Blues.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 1 (Snaps $10, first race)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 3 (Red Outlaw $7.20, third; Awesome Indy $7, fourth; Kobe’s Back $5.40, fifth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 1 (Gal Has to Like It $4.40, second)

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Heavens Stairway $8, sixth)