Aqueduct, Horse racing, Keeneland, Santa Anita

Santa Anita stakes opinions for Saturday, April 6 (Plus Wood Memorial and Blue Grass)

SANTA ANITA

SECOND RACE (Evening Jewel): 1. Sneaking Out, 2. Tim for Kisses, 3. Ruby Bradley. LONG SHOT: Violette Szabo.

THIRD RACE (Grade I Santa Anita Oaks): 1. Flor de La Mar, 2. Bellafina, 3. Chasing Yesterday. LONG SHOT: Slewgoodtobetrue.
Obviously Bellafina is the filly to beat as the 2-5 favorite and trainer Bob Baffert tries to do it with Flor de La Mar and Chasing Yesterday. Flor de La Mar makes her first start around two turns and Baffert is 28 percent with this move and she’s bred to do so. Chasing Yesterday is coming back a little soon after a win in the March 24 Sunland Park Oaks and that’s not a normal Baffert move.

FIFTH RACE (Grade II Royal Heroine): 1. Space Talk, 2. Vasilika, 3. Meal Ticket. LONG SHOT: Ms Bad Behavior.
Vasilika is 3-5 on the morning-line favorite and deservedly so with nine wins over the course. Space Talk is making her second start in the U.S. and is bred to run all day. Her last looks like a prep to me and huge jockey change to Rafael Bejarano.

SIXTH RACE (Echo Eddie): 1. Tap the Wire, 2. Foster Boi, 3. Lieutenant Dan. LONG SHOT: Midnight Special.

EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Santa Anita Derby): 1. Roadster, 2. Game Winner, 3. Instagrand. LONG SHOT: Nolo Contesto.
If any of these four won the race, it wouldn’t surprise me. Roadster needs the points the most to get into the Kentucky Derby and maybe Baffert has him cranked up more than stablemate Game Winner, who is in the Derby and appears to be racing himself into shape after that huge second in a division of the Rebel. Instagrand also needs a first or second to get into the Derby and he figures to improve off that third in the Gotham.

NINTH RACE (Grade III Providencia): 1. Hostess, 2. Miss Flawless, 3. Lady Prancealot. LONG SHOT: Truffalino.
Hostess (12-1) and Miss Flawless (6-1) are both making their first starts in the U.S. after European campaigns and they are bred to run all day. Trainer Simon Callaghan is 24 percent first time in the U.S. so I lean to her. Miss Flawless is trained by Peter Miller, who is 21 percent with a horse off a 90-plus day layoff.

10TH RACE (Grade I Santa Anita Handicap): 1. Gift Box, 2. McKinzie, 3. Campaign. LONG SHOT: Mongolian Groom.
It certain looks like a two-horse race and the odds suggest that: 4-5 on McKinzie and 6-5 on Gift Box. Loved Gift Box when he beat the ill-fated Battle of Midway in the San Antonio and he has been training well for John Sadler in this spot.

AQUEDUCT

RACE 10 (Grade II Wood Memorial): 1. Haikal, 2. Final Jeopardy, 3. Tax. LONG SHOT: Hoffa’s Union.

KEENELAND

RACE 11 (Blue Grass): 1. Market King, 2. Dream Maker, 3. Signalman. LONG SHOT: So Alive.

Good luck.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS (Santa Anita races 2-7)

Top choice winners: 1 (Monydontspenitself $13.60, second race)

Second choice winners: 3 (Railman $2.80, third; Lomu $5.40, fourth; Cinnamon Twist $6.40, fifth)

Third choice winners: 0

Long shot winners: 0

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, April 7

Race 5 (Grade III Providencia): 1. Fatale Bere, 2. Paved, 3. Ms Bad Behavior. Long shot: Lexington Grace.

Race 9 (Grade I Santa Anita Derby): 1. Instilled Regard, 2. Bolt d’Oro, 3. Justify. Long shot: Pepe Tono.

Race 10 (Grade II Royal Heroine): 1. Enola Gray, 2. Madame Stripes, 3. Beau Recall. Long shot: Mongolian Shopper.

Race 11 (Grade I Santa Anita Oaks): 1. Midnight Bisou, 2. Finess Bere. 3. Thirteen Squared. Long shot: We All Have Dreams.

For the rest of my picks go to:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/sd-sp-santa-anita-horse-racing-20180406-story.html

Friday’s results

Top choice winners: 2 (Dhafeera $10.20, first race; Subic Bay $11.80, fifth)

Second choice winners: 0

Third choice winners: 2 (Most Amusing $2.60, second; Tangled Up in Ju $4.40, seventh)

Long shot winners: 3 (Restrainedvengence $13.60, third; Dukes Up $11.20, fourth; Gringo Star $15.60, sixth)

Good luck.

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Horse racing, Pimlico

Pimlico Race Course opinions for Saturday, May 21

There are no secrets to my picks for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, #westisbest.
Even thought it’s suppose to rain most of the day at Pimlico Race Course, I don’t see any reason why Nyquist won’t win the race and go to New York looking to give the sport a second straight Triple Crown.
Nyquist has just proven to be able to do what he wants on the track and the thing I keep coming back to is the fact that he doesn’t want to be passed once he gets in front.
Exaggerator has yet to get by him and I don’t see it on Saturday, but he looks like the second-best 3-year-old in the country.
Adding to the intrigued in this one will be the addition of Uncle Lino, who finished to Exaggerator in the mud at the Santa Anita Derby. I don’t think he is as good as Nyquist, but he will have to go from the No. 2 post and he has natural speed.
I look for a West Coast trifecta in this race. Rain or shine.

EIGHTH RACE
1. Lady Shipman, 2. Joya Real, 3. Exaggerated. Long shot: Miss Matzoball.

NINTH RACE
1. Counterforce, 2. Justin Squared, 3. Quijote. Long shot: Discreet Angel.

10TH RACE
1. Mizz Money, 2. Heath, 3. Tiger Ride. Long shot: Flying Tipat.

11TH RACE
1. Dazzling Gem, 2. American Freedom, 3. Gettysburg. Long shot: Moon King.

12TH RACE
1. Takeover Target, 2. Grand Arch, 3. Take the Stand. Long shot: Prince Gagarin.

13TH RACE: Preakness Stakes
1. Nyquist, 2. Exaggerator, 3., Uncle Lino. Long shot: Fellowship.

Good luck.

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, Triple Crown

Weak that was: very, very weird

Usually when the big money is on the line, you can count on the top trainers at Santa Anita to be in the winner’s circle.

Such wasn’t the case last week, which was highlighted by California Chrome’s win in the Santa Anita Derby.

The top five trainers in the overall standings were a staggering 1-for-61 last week in Arcadia. That’s right one win out of 61 starters.

Here are the ugly numbers:

Jerry Hollendorfer 0-for-13

Bob Baffert 0-for-7

John Sadler 0-for-11

Peter Miller 0-for-11

Doug O’Neill 1-for-19

Now add in the likes of Tom Proctor (1-for-4) and Mike Puype (1-for-10) for a truly stunning week.

The stars of the week were Javier Sierra, who won three races, and Jim Cassidy (despite his New York Yankees loving ways), who won two races on Sunday.

Miller is in a prolonged slump and hasn’t won a race in at least a month. Better wait until he gets a win or two to start betting him again.

On the jockey’s side, victories were pretty well spread out.

As usual Rafael Bejarano led the way with five wins from 28 mounts. However, I’d bet most people couldn’t come up with the jockey who had the second most victories on the week … that’s right, journeyman Brice Blanc had four wins from 16 mounts. Blanc is more known for winning on the grass, but he won on the dirt, too.

Otherwise, three was the magic number as Joe Talamo rebounded from a winless week to go 3-for-26 followed by Tyler Baze (28 mounts), Victor Espinoza (13), Mike Smith (14), Edwin Maldonado (18) and Gary Stevens (seven) all had three victories.

Speaking of Stevens, he announced on Twitter Tuesday that he wouldn’t be tweeting again until June and the tweet featured a photo of Bayern, who is trained by Baffert and will run in this Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. I’m not sure what that’s about because Stevens has been active on Twitter, but it sounds like he’ll stop corresponding until after the Triple Crown.

Of course, Baffert did Stevens one better as he completely deleted his Twitter account (@midnightlute) apparently on Monday. The only rumor I heard was Baffert had a horse breakdown on Sunday and might have received at least one unkind comment.

But it also appears Bob’s wife, Jill, who has never been shy on social media either has disappeared on Twitter, too. At least, I couldn’t find her handle (@jillbaffert) on Tuesday afternoon.

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Del Mar, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

On to Kentucky for California Chrome

California_Chrome_cb4_200 (1)

California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza return to the winner’s circle after winning Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. BENOIT PHOTO

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The overwhelming sentiment when leaving Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on Saturday was that everyone saw the winner of next month’s Kentucky Derby. Heck, he might finally break the drought of Triple Crown winners.

And they well have, but maybe it wasn’t the horse you’re thinking about.

There’s no doubt that California Chrome was spectacular in winning Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. But will he be the winner on the first Saturday of May in Louisville, Ky.

The thing you have to remember is there will be a full field of 20 horses at Churchill Downs. There will be all kinds of trouble for all kinds of horses. There will be horses that don’t belong, and California Chrome surely isn’t one of those, but he could get stopped by one who is. Remember funny things happen in 20-horse fields.

I hope California Chrome wins it for trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza and to stick it to the “bluebloods,” but I know too many things can go wrong. It just seems amazing to me that California Chrome was running last summer in Cal-bred races and now maybe the betting favorite in Kentucky. It brings back fond memories of Silver Charm, one of my all-time favorites.

Hoppertunity, who finished second to California Chrome, certainly belongs in the equation. He has run three good races in a row.

And perhaps the most impressive 3-year-old winner Saturday was Wicked Strong taking the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, seemingly passing the entire field in the stretch.

Personally, I’m keeping my eye on Commanding Curve, who finished third in the Louisiana Derby, to see if he gets in.

And don’t forget there are two more big preps this coming Saturday with the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Hot Spring, Ark.

Wait until all the data is in and then make your decision. Just think how many other times have you left Santa Anita on its Derby Day saying you thought you saw the winner of the Kentucky Derby?

You might have and you might not.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Saturday’s top choice winners: 0

Saturday’s second choice winners: 3 (Fashion Plate $6.20, fifth race; Nashoba’s Gold $7.40, seventh; Kerrilynn $10.60, 11th)

Saturday’s third choice winners: 4 (Reno Rebel $6.80, first; Storm Fighter $6.40, second; California Chrome $3.40, eighth; Seeking the Sherif $9.80, 10th)

Saturday’s long shot winners: 1 (Alert Bay $20.20, third)

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Sunday’s top choice winners: 1 (Crusher $7.60, first race)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 3 (Big Note $10.40, fourth; Congregationalist $11.80, seventh; Perfect Tango $7, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Jules Journey $14.40, sixth)

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Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita

Chrome proves top 3-year-old in California, maybe nation

ARCADIA —- The rest of the country might not know where the Los Alamitos race track is, but it’s about to find out because the probable favorite for next month’s Kentucky Derby trains there.

California Chrome, the Cal-bred who calls Los Alamitos home when he’s not at a race, showed he is the real deal with a 5¼-length victory over Hoppertunity in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on Saturday at Santa Anita Park before 35,241. The 3-year-old covered the 1 1/8 mile on the dirt in 1 minute, 47.52 seconds.

California Chrome, a son of Lucky Pulpit, has destroyed the competition in the Golden State, recording four start victories by a total of 24¼ lengths.

“It was pretty easy for him,” said winning jockey Victor Espinoza, “it wasn’t so easy for me.”

It sure looked easy.

A noted frontrunner, California Chrome ($3.40) was joined on the front end by 33-1 long shot Dublin and 5-2 second choice Candy Boy.

“Everybody had the same idea,” said Espinoza.

Winning trainer Art Sherman never let on that he was worried about the scenario.

“I think he’s a better horse when he’s stalking another horse,” Sherman said.

California Chrome stalked Dublin through fractions of :22.89, :47.02 and 1:10.81. At the head of the stretch, Espinoza hit the button and he was 5 lengths in front, just cruising to another easy victory in his home state.

“It was like Trevor (Denman, track announcer) says,” said Sherman, “ ‘you would need to sprout wings to catch him.’ I love that saying.”

California Chrome was a little slow from the gate, but it didn’t bother the connections.

“He knows what’s going on (when he goes to the gate),” said Espinoza. “He’s calm and focused, but for some reason, we missed the break a tiny bit, but I put him in the race right away. I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. It worked out well.”

Said Sherman: “I got a little spooked leaving the gate. He got banged around pretty good … Right now he’s kind of freaky and I’m enjoying it. I can’t believe the races I’ve been seeing. A length or two might have been all right with me.

“It was awesome. That’s all I can say.”

Sherman will continue to train California Chrome at Los Alamitos until approximately a week before the May 3 Derby when he ships to Louisville, Ky.

Hoppertunity, trained by Bob Baffert, was coming out of a win at the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

“”He’s a really good horse (California Chrome),” said Baffert of the winner. “I was really happy with my race. I’m glad I ran my horse.”

Trainer John Sadler said third-place Candy Boy will likely head to Kentucky if he has enough points.

In the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, it figured to be a two-filly race and it was as Fashion Plate ($6.20) beat 6-5 favorite Ria Antonia by 1 ¼ lengths. However, both 3-year-olds are expected to run in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, one day before the Kentucky Derby.

Fashion Plate, ridden by Gary Stevens and trained by Simon Callaghan, went to the front and never looked back covering the 1 1/16-mile in 1:42.97.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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