Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby

Jeff Nahill’s Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, Sept. 5 (Kentucky Derby Day, stakes races)

EIGHTH RACE: 1. Fancy Liquor, 2. Smooth Like Straight, 3. Field Pass. LONG SHOT: Taishan.

NINTH RACE: 1. Cezanne, 2. Vertical Threat, 3. Rushie. LONG SHOT: Digital.

10TH RACE: 1. Pico d’Oro, 2. Therideofalifetime, 3. Sittin On Go. LONG SHOT: Ultimate Badger.

11TH RACE: 1. Newspaperofrecord, 2. She’sonthewarpath, 3. Juliet Foxtrot. LONG SHOT: La Signare.

12TH RACE: 1. Ce Ce, 2. Serengeti Empress, 3. Bellafina. LONG SHOT: Bell’s the One.

13TH RACE: 1. Mr. Dumas (best bet), 2. Factor This, 3. Digital Age. LONG SHOT: Sacred Life.

14TH RACE (Kentucky Derby): 1. Tiz the Law, 2. Thousand Words, 3. Honor A. P., 4. Authentic. LONG SHOT: Enforceable.I’ll be the first to say I hate picking favorites, but I just don’t see a way around it here. TIZ THE LAW has done everything asked of him this way and trainer Barclay Tagg has been here before with Funny Cide. I do like the West Coast horses to fill out the exotics. Trainer Bob Baffert has said THOUSAND WORDS has been improving by leaps and bounds recently.

Good luck. Stay safe.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS (Stakes races only)

Top choice winners: 1 (Monomoy Girl $2.80, 11th race)

Second choice winners: 3 (Sconsin $16.40, eighth, reverse exacta $30; Sharing $3.20, ninth, reverse exacta $9, trifecta box $37.50; By My Standards $5, 10th)

Third choice winners: 0

Long shot winners: 1 (Shedaresthedevil $32.20, 12th, exacta box $118.80, trifecta box $116.80)

Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Tampa Bay Downs

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 4 (plus some Tampa Bay Downs)

Preview: Expect a wet track at some point today and a softer turf course. Rain is suppose to hit hardest around 1 p.m.

12TH RACE (Grade I Kentucky Derby: 1. Improbable, 2. Game Winner, 3. Roadster, 4. Vekoma. LONG SHOT: By My Standards.
If it’s Derby Day we must be in trainer Bob Baffert’s world and we’re just living in it. Baffert can pull off a race feat here by hitting the trifecta with all three of his entries. Improbable is my choice off his runner-up efforts to Omaha Beach, who had to scratch out of the race with a balky throat. All three of Baffert’s horses, including Game Winner and Roadster, are coming up to the race in fine form and a win by any of them wouldn’t surprise me.

Other Churchill Downs stakes

SIXTH RACE (Grade I Humana Distaff): 1. Talk Veuve to Me, 2. Marley’s Freedom, 3. Spiced Perfection, 4. Emboldened. LONG SHOT: Mia Mischief.

SEVENTH RACE )Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile): 1. Beau Recall, 2. Daddy Is a Legend, 3. Precieuse, 4. Valedictorian. LONG SHOT: Environs.

EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Churchill Downs): 1. Do Share, 2. Mitole, 3. Uncontested, 4. Whitmore. LONG SHOT: Warrior’s Club.

NINTH RACE (Grade II American Turf): 1. Marquee Prince, 2. Seismic Wave, 3. Digital Age, 4. Social Paranoia. LONG SHOT: Henley’s Joy.

10TH RACE (Grade III Pat Day Mile): 1. Instagrand, 2. Durkin’s Call, 3. Mr Money Bags, 4. Last Judgment. LONG SHOT: Dunph.

11TH RACE (Grade I Turf Classic): 1. Brick and Mortar (best bet), 2. Multiplier, 3. Ticonderoga, 4. Next Shares. LONG SHOT: Synchrony.

FOURTH RACE: 1. Sir Higgins, 2. Market Swings, 3. No choice. LONG SHOT: Trap Music.
SEVENTH RACE: 1. Pure Luck, 2. Silver Shield, 3. Solid. LONG SHOT: Edelman’s Catch.
10TH RACE: 1. Sugar Cane Girl, 2. Crown of Joy, 3. Speeding Starlet. LONG SHOT: Patient Digna.
Good luck.
Churchill Downs, Horse racing, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, May 5 (Kentucky Derby Day)

SIXTH RACE (Humana Distaff, Grade I): 1. Finley’sluckycharm, 2. American Gal, 3. Lewis Bay, 4. Ivy Bell. LONG SHOT: Skye Diamonds.

SEVENTH RACE (Distaff Turf Mile, Grade II): 1. Dream Awhile, 2. Madam Dancealot, 3. On Leave, 4. La Coronel. LONG SHOT: Thundering Sky.

EIGHTH RACE (Churchill Downs Stakes, Grade II): 1. Whitmore, 2. Imperial Hint, 3. Awesome Slew, 4. Limousine Liberal. LONG SHOT: Warrior’s Club.

NINTH RACE (American Turf, Grade II): 1. Threeandfourpence, 2. River Boyne, 3. Admiralty Pier, 4. Captivating Moon. LONG SHOT: Speed Franco.

10TH RACE (Pat Day Mile, Grade III): 1. Mask, 2. Greyvitos, 3. Restoring Hope, 4. Mississippi. LONG SHOT: Givemeaminit.

11TH RACE (Turf Classic, Grade I): 1. Beach Patrol, 2. Arklow, 3. Synchrony, 4. Deauville. LONG SHOT: Camelot Kitten.
Beach Patrol got beat in the last 100 yards of the BC Turf at Del Mar. That race has produced five next out winners from eight starters. Chad Brown will bring back a fit horse.

12TH RACE (Kentucky Derby, Grade I): 1. Mendelssohn, 2. My Boy Jack, 3. Justify, 4. Bolt d’Oro. LONG SHOT: Good Magic.
Does Europe get its first Derby winner? Mendelssohn is a superstar. He cost $3 million at auction and he’s up to $1.9 million earned. I know he’s coming out of the UAE Derby in Dubai on a track that might have had a speed bias, but he destroyed that field in his first try on the dirt. He also comes out of one of the most productive 2-year-old stakes races last year as a he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf which has produced numerous winners.I think he’s the real deal. My pick after the Louisiana Derby would have been My Boy Jack, that move Kent Desormeaux mad was Azeri-like, but trainer Keith Desormeaux felt he had to win the Lexington to have enough points to get into this race so he ran and won. I think Desormeaux will make a similar wide sweeping turn here and it could be a moneymaker if My Boy Jack has something left. Justify and Bolt d’Oro are the best in the West. They will both be forwardly placed early in the race and question is do they want to go this far. As for any other horse, this seems like a deep crop and I wouldn’t talk people off of most any horse. BTW, Good Magic, the BC Juvenile winner at Del Mar, is listed at 12-1 on the morning-line. If he’s that high I might have rethink my wagering.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

FRIDAY’S RESULTS (Stakes races only)

Top choice winners: 1 (Mia Mischief $5, fifth race)

Second choice winners: 1 (Salty $10.40, sixth)

Third choice winners: 2 (Will Call $15.60, seventh; Backyard Heaven $6.40, eighth)

Fourth choice winners: 1 (Monomoy Girl $7.20, 11th)

Long shot winners: 0

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, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Monday, Dec. 26 (opening day)

Race 1: #9 Informant (8-1): This filly has never crossed the finish line first as she broke her maiden on a DQ, but she fits here. She is cutting back to one turn and trainer Eddie Truman is 32% third off the layoff.

Race 2: #2 Sawbuck (3-1) BEST BET: This maiden has been favored in his last two and might be here, too. Flavien Prat takes over and this 2-year-old has the second-best early pace rating and the best late rating by Brisnet.

Race 5: #9 Ruby Trust (6-1): There are plenty of top maidens from Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer in this race, but I’m going with a filly who finished third in a maiden race at Del Mar and that race has produced three next out winners.

Race 8: #8 Mor Spirit (6-1): This might be a prep for this 3-year-old by trainer Bob Baffert, but the fact of the matter he comes out of the Kentucky Derby and six horses have exited that race to win their next race. This ridgling has a 5-2-3-0 record on this track and 7 furlongs hits him right between the eyes.

Good Luck.

@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)

Arlington Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita (plus Arlington Park) opinions for Saturday, July 9

Preview: Interesting card just because there are a pair of 2-year-old stakes. Looking for that Pick 6 and late Pick 4 single? Looking no further than Navy Hymn (4-5) in the sixth race. Don’t see him beaten, but that might be the kiss of death. And don’t forget that 2015 Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line (also 4-5) makes his return to the races in the fourth and trainer Simon Callaghan has admitted he isn’t fully cranked up.

Race 5 – SA: #2 Tap It All (8-1): This filly cost $800K at auction in March and she has finished second in all three of her maiden races this year for trainer Doug O’Neill. By Tapizar, I think this 2-year-old has been wanting more ground and she gets an extra half-furlong here. Sure, she’s a maiden but O’Neill is 23% with beaten favorites and new rider Santiago Gonzalez takes over.

Race 7 – SA: #1 Big Break (4-1): I’m not the biggest fan of trainer Steve Knapp and in fact in most cases if Knapp wins, I lose, but here is the one category Knapp excels in: beaten favorites. He is 41% with those kind of horses. This mare is moving up in class, but her early speed will be a weapon from the inside post.


Race 4 (Modesty Handicap): 1. Faufiler, 2. No Fault of Mine, 3. Al’s Gal, 4. Marypop.

Race 6 (The Stars and Stripes): 1. Roman Approval, 2. Quiet Force, 3. The Pizza Man, 4. Bullards Alley.

Race 7 (Arlington Handicap): 1. Kasaqui, 2. Messi, 3. Roman Approval, 4. Only in America.
Be careful because ROMAN APPROVAL and QUIET FORCE are cross-entered in the Stars and Stripes plus the Arlington Handicap.

Race 8 (American Derby): 1. Oscar Nominated, 2. Two Step Time, 3. J R’s Holiday, 4. The Rouge Diesel.

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

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Thursday, May 5

Preview: There is a chance of rain for the return to Santa Anita so the turf races could be in danger of coming off. It’s looks like Rafael Bejarano is new top rider for the Bob Baffert barn after a falling out with jockey Martin Garcia. Also top jocks will be missing for much of this week to ride in Kentucky for the Oaks and the Derby.


Race 6 – SA

#3 Emmzy (5-2): This filly from the Bob Baffert barn cuts back a half-furlong, which is a little surprising knowing haw the trainer likes to stretch them out. Rafael Bejarano takes the mount and he’s tough to beat in the stretch.


Race 7 – SA

#4 Tribal Again (6-1): There is a ton of speed in this race and this gelding seems like the only one that come from off the pace. There is a big jockey upgrade to Flavien Prat, who is 24% with trainer Peter Miller.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, Feb. 20

Preview: Interesting card with the highly anticipated debut of Ziconic, a son of Zenayata, set to run in what looks like a tough maiden race in the third.


Race 2: #4 Decisive Triumph (turf only) (8-1) 

Trainer Graham Motion doesn’t have a win at the meet yet, but he’s too good not to score eventually. This son of Kitten’s Joy should love this distance and surface. Motion adds Lasix and he’s 23% first time he does that plus he adds leading jockey Rafael Bejarano.


Race 3: #2 Fast Munny (6-1)

This is the race with Zenyatta’s son, Ziconic, plus two horses trained by Bob Baffert and one trained by Jerry Hollendorfer so this could turn out to be a key race. We’re going with the son of Munnings and trained by Craig Dollase, who is 26% with first-time starters. I know the connections are high on this 3-year-old colt, but like I said it’s a tough heat. Flavien Prat rides and he’s 2-for-4 with Dollase.


Race 7: #9 I’m Zonin (8-1) 

This gelding is in the money 60% (3 for 5) at this distance. Trainer Richard Baltas is 30% going sprint-route-sprint meaning that this 4-year-old should have plenty of stamina. Veteran jockey Stewart Elliott gets the mount.



Race 11 (Grade II Risen Star Stakes: 1.#4 Bistraya (15-1), 2. #10 Airoforce (5-2), 3. #13 Candy My Boy (15-1), 4. #6 Gun Runner (6-1). LONG SHOT: #7 Its All Relevent (15-1).

It’s time for the 50-point races on the Kentucky Derby trail so a win in any of these races pretty much gets you in the starting gate on the first Saturday of May. We’re going with an upset here as Bistraya ships in off a maiden victory in Southern California. Jockey Edwin Maldonado comes along for the ride. Candy My Boy is interesting but that post is a killer.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter