Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Horse racing

Churchill Downs opinions for Saturday, June 8 (Updated)

PREVIEW: Several jockeys are at Belmont Park today so jockey Florent Geroux has picked up a lot of mounts, especially for trainer Steve Asmussen, so Geroux could have a very big day. Don’t sleep on him.

NOTE: They are sloppy and off the turf in races 5 and 8. So take these picks with a grain of salt. Look for wet track pedigree.

FIRST: 1. Zyramid, 2. Nucky, 3. Halfmoon Reef. LONG SHOT: Cheeseburger.

SECOND: 1. Lunar Approach, 2.Ransomed, 3. Day by Day. LONG SHOT: Game Time Decision.

THIRD: 1. Magical, 2. Pretty Greeley, 3. Maybe Wicked. LONG SHOT: Special Relativity.

FOURTH: 1. Don’teatmycookies, 2. (Entry) Dilly Dally Darby and Estrela Cadente, 3. Indicating. LONG SHOT: Pinotage.

FIFTH: 1. Confessing (best bet), 2. Our Bay B Ruth, 3. Silver Kitten. LONG SHOT: Lady Rosalie. OFF THE TURF IGNORE PICKS

SIXTH: 1. Better Charge It, 2. Light of the World, 3. On d;Oro. LONG SHOT: Kansas City Zip.

SEVENTH: 1. Make Noise, 2. Paddock Pick, 3. Mine My Time. LONG SHOT: Brush Country.

EIGHTH: 1. Cosmic Code, 2. Be Nimble, 3. Bella Laura. LONG SHOT: Talbeya. OFF THE TURF IGNORE PICKS

NINTH: 1. Combatant, 2. Matrooh, 3. Solomini. LONG SHOT: Kershaw.

10TH: 1. Mom’s On Strike, 2. Limari, 3. Stave. LONG SHOT: Smart Emma.

11TH: 1. Ready and Rich, 2. New Frontier, 3. Admiral Brown. LONG SHOT: Not Very Gentle.

Good luck.

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Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Rebel Stakes: What they said

Quotes courtesy of Oaklawn Park following Hoppertunity’s win in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes:

Mike Pegram (owner, Hoppertunity, 1st): “Bob (Baffert, trainer) is in charge and he knows what to do. I’m just having fun being a passenger. He looks like he’ll go a mile-and-a-quarter and I wouldn’t trade places with nobody. He’s a nice horse and he proved it today. What you really want to see is a horse that will fight, and he showed it when he got bumped in there and held his ground. He responded. He’s a fighter. We will run is some Derby. His next race will be a derby if he comes out good out of here.”

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Jimmy Barnes (assistant to Baffert, Hoppertunity, 1st): “That was exciting. Wow. I saw what happened in the race live and I was saying to myself, that kid (Santana, Jr. on Tapiture) is trying to push us out of the way to get by. We had enough horse that he wasn’t getting by. Mike (Smith) said he just started running when he got bumped. That just made him run faster. He’s tough. He’s lightly raced. That was only his fourth race so that was exciting and I’m glad we came. Whether we come back for the Arkansas Derby is up to Bob.”

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Steve Asmussen (Tapiture, 2nd) – “He ran well. It was a pretty roughly run race by some fast horses.”

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Kent Desormeaux (Ride On Curlin, 3rd) – “I tell you, I fancy him. I like him a lot. At the half-mile pole, I thought I could win. The only thing I didn’t like was my post. I think if I had had an outside post, it would have been better. I was kind of committed from where I was. But, he was comfortable. He’s like riding a 9-year-old he’s so cool.”

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D. Wayne Lukas (4th Strong Mandate): “We haven’t been able to get a clean trip yet. We got roughed up more than was indicated. I don’t yet what’s next for him. We haven’t even gotten him cooled out yet. The Arkansas Derby is a month away.”

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Association Steward Larry Snyder on the decision not to change the order of finish after an inquiry and jockey objection: “We based our decision on the fact that Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. on Tapiture pushed his way out from behind the four horse (Strong Mandate) as the horses were straightening out into the stretch. Jockey Mike Smith was just holding his position.”

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Horse racing, Triple Crown

Lukas not happy with Strong Mandate’s Rebel effort?

Sounds like trainer D. Wayne Lukas wasn’t all that happy with Strong Mandate’s second place finish in Monday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Quotes are courtesy of the Oaklawn Park media department:

Lukas: “He ran well. He didn’t have the cleanest of trips. We had wanted to be more forwardly placed, but he got bumped leaving the gate and was actually wide the whole trip. The winner ran exceptional. We’ll just go back to the barn and look at the Rebel Stakes (March 15).”

Jockey Joel Rosario, on Strong Mandate: “He broke a little slow. In the first turn, I wanted to get into position, but I couldn’t. I had to hold a bit because a few horses were bouncing in and out. He’s the kind of horse you need to let run easy. He’s a big horse and you want to let him do what he wants. Maybe next time we’ll get a better trip.”

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Winning trainer Steve Asmussen, Tapiture: “It was a big step forward for him. I was impressed with  what he did. I saw some things we need to improve and he’ll have to continue to improve with the races coming up. I think the series sets up really well for him.”

Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr, Tapiture: “This horse was working really nice. I was so excited for this race. When we got to the straight, he showed all his class. He was really nice and was really relaxed today.”

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Trainer Billy Gowan, third with Ride OnCurlin: “He ran a heck of a race. He was hung nine wide and he got a little bit tired. We’ll be back for the Rebel.”

Jockey Calvin Borel, third with Ride OnCurlin: “He ran good. He broke sharp. He got hung a little wide going into the first turn and he didn’t like that. I had to take him back and let him go about his business. He got a little heavy at the end.”

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Jockey Terry Thompson on Kendall’s Boy, “He had a real rough trip. He got banged up basically from when the gates opened until he just gave up on me. He never go into stride. It was his first time going two turns and we needed everything to go right. Hard to go off of this one.”

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Saturday, Feb. 1 (updated)

FIRST RACE: 1. Senator Bob, 2. Dunmore East, 3. Private Bounty. LONG SHOT: Mensa Heat.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Boller Bomb, 2. Smart N Dreamy, 3. Silver Hustler. LONG SHOT: Buckingham Bull.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Hear the Ghost, 2. Holy Candy (SCRATCHED), 3. Appealing Tale. LONG SHOT: Avare (SCRATCHED). New picks: 1. Hear the Ghost, 2. Appealing Tale, 3. Let’s Get Crackin. LONG SHOT: Phantom Lover.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. With a Miracle, 2. Meltarib, 3. Burns Turn. LONG SHOT: Two Blue Hens.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Appealing Resume, 2. Vicki Victoria, 3. Pebble Beach Baby. LONG SHOT: Granny Calling.

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SIXTH RACE: Cervaro, 2. Counting Days, 3. Brother Pete. LONG SHOT: Master Cip.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Fashion Plate, 2. Streaming, 3. Taste Like Candy. LONG SHOT: Artemis.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Unbridled’s Note, 2. Regally Ready, 3. Suggestive Boy. LONG SHOT: No Jet Lag.

Part of the reason for picking UNBRIDLED’S NOTE was the fact that jockey Kent Desormeaux returned to Southern California last weekend to score with a couple of long shots and was named on this horse at entry time. However, it was announced Friday that Desormeaux will ride at Tampa Bay Downs in a Kentucky Derby prep on Saturday. This 5-year-old horse is stretching out off a win in the Grade III Daytona down the hill. Trainer Steve Asmussen sees fit to try two turns and who’s to argue with him? And why not go with the all-Asmussen exacta with Regally Ready.

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NINTH RACE: 1. Profire (best bet), 2. Dehere Is Gone, 3. Rob’s Pal. LONG SHOT: Captain Salt.

PROFIRE, a 4-year-old colt, makes the huge drop from the straight maiden ranks to maiden claiming $20,000. There seems to be only one way to go with this one and that’s to break on top while trying to go wire-to-wire. That’s why we think jockey Edwin Maldonado keeps the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Friday’s top choice winners: 1 (Second Time $5.40, first race)

Friday’s second choice winners: 2 (Truly Beautiful $9.80, second; No Tricks for Jack $6, sixth)

Friday’s third choice winners: 2 (Sheza Smoke Show $8.80, third; Los Bambinos $9, fourth)

Friday’s long shot winners: 0

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Thursday, Jan. 2

FIRST RACE: 1. Electric Eddie (best bet), 2. Oh Billy Billy, 3. Bodrum. LONG SHOTS: Pyrotechnics.

It’s about time this son of Square Eddie, ELECTRIC EDDIE, got back to the maiden ranks after running three straight in stakes company. Granted, he’s run well, but’s time to hit the finish line first. This newly turned 3-year-old just finished fifth, 10 lengths behind Shared Belief, who some believe is the best 2-year-old in the country. Mario Gutierrez jumps back on.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Socialbug, 2. Sallyana, 3. Caraquista. LONG SHOT: Zia Zia Zia.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Tasha’s Courage, 2. Senor Pegasus, 3. Soul Saver. LONG SHOT: Perfectly Legal.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Inner Groove, 2. Elvies Lane, 3. Secret Genius. LONG SHOT: Eltoninadress.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. One Time Only, 2. Shrilanka, 3. Laria. LONG SHOT: Kid Rollins.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. In Dad’s Honor, 2. A P Pepper, 3. E Equalsmcsquared. LONG SHOT: Senza Fina.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Regally Ready, 2. My Best Brother, 3. No Silent. LONG SHOT: Bio Pro.

REGALLY READY, a 7-year-old gelding, loves this Santa Anita turf course with three wins and two thirds in five tries on it. I’m not sure this is his best distance, but he has won here at a mile before. Little surprised normal barn jockey Corey Nakatani isn’t riding here for trainer Steve Asmussen, but it’s tough to complain with the choice of Mike Smith.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1.  Sidebar, 2. Tres Oros, 3. Teacher Teacher. LONG SHOT: Silk in Silver.

Did you expect a journalist not to pick this horse? Seriously, this 4-year-old filly SIDEBAR ran a good race against straight maidens at Del Mar and now drops back in with maiden claimers. Trainer Bill Spawr puts blinkers on and he’s 50% first-time blinkers and 43% with blinkers on and 38% with maiden claimers. That’s good enough for me.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Paynter works ‘great’ for BC Classic. The Dude to work Tuesday

From Ed Golden of the Santa Anita publicity department:

Paynter, Bob Baffert’s “other horse,” worked five furlongs in company Monday morning for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, going in a minute flat under jockey Martin Garcia. Workmate Den’s Legacy was given the identical time.

“He went awesome,” Baffert said of Paynter, who survived life-threatening ailments after winning the Grade I Haskell Invitational in 2012. “He really worked great today. In fact, both horses worked well.”

Game On Dude, the likely Classic favorite trained by Baffert, is scheduled to work Tuesday at Santa Anita for the $5 million Classic at 1 ¼ miles on Nov. 2. Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup races will be taken a week from today, Oct. 21.

Two Breeders’ Cup candidates trained by Steve Asmussen also worked on Santa Anita’s main track Monday, Justin Phillip (Sprint, five furlongs in 1:01, breezing), and Unbridled’s Note (Turf Sprint, five furlongs in 1:00.20). Argentine-bred Ever Rider (Marathon) worked four furlongs in 48.80 for Maria Munoz.

John Henry Stakes winner Indy Point worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course in 1:13.60. “He couldn’t look better,” trainer Richard Mandella said.

Breeders’ Cup candidates have special dispensation to work on turf Mondays and Fridays, rather than Santa Anita’s normal turf work days of Thursday and Saturday.

Mandella said Zenyatta Stakes winner Beholder is scheduled to breeze “Tuesday or Wednesday” as the two-year-old filly champion of 2012 prepares for the $2 million Distaff on Nov. 1.

Mike Smith appears loaded for bear in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Nov. 1 and 2. Agent Brad Pegram has the Hall of Fame jockey booked on Game On Dude in the Classic; Royal Delta in the Distaff; Points Offthebench in the Sprint; Little Mike in the Turf; Fascinating in the Juvenile Fillies; and Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint.

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