Belmont Stakes

There may not be a triple crown at stake in this year’s Belmont but that doesn’t mean there’s not an opportunity to pick up a few books at the race window.  Kentucky Derby Jay provides his third and final installment of comprehensive race analysis for the third jewel. Governor Malibu — Improving Christophe Clement-trained colt seems to be a very trendy pick.  Rallied nicely to close for 2nd in the Peter Pan, generally considered a key prep for the Belmont.  Likely to be overbet, and I’m not crazy about his ability to get the lengthy 1.5 mile trip.  Will let this one beat me. Destin —  Wasn’t a huge fan of his chances in the Derby, but seems to be in a better spot here.  Ran a decent Derby, making a nice middle move to get to 4th, before encountering a little traffic and dropping back to 6th.  That same move today will put him in the mix.  Key is how much Pletcher got this guy to improve in the five-week layoff.  Contender, but probably just for bottom part of exotics. Cherry Wine — Could probably just copy my Preakness notes for this guy.  He passed a bunch of exhausted horses at Pimlico to rally for 2nd, and will now likely catch a lot of action today off that effort.  Myth among many bettors is that closers fare very well at Belmont, but that isn’t really the case for deep closers like Cherry Wine.  Can certainly be on the trifecta ticket with similar performance as Preakness, but doubt that gets him in the winner circle. Suddenbreakingnews — Might as well just say “See Cherry Wine.”  Made a late move to rally for 4th at Churchill Downs, and is another that is coming off a...

Preakness

He made magic for us in the Derby like he’s done so many years before we’re getting spoiled around here.  KyDerbyJay returns for the second jewel of the Triple Crown with comprehensive analysis of the 11 horse field at Pimlico. 1 — Cherry Wine – Was an also-entry for the Derby, but failed to draw into the race.  Solid jockey/trainer combo of Lanerie/Romans alone merits a look.  Third last out in the Bluegrass Stakes to Derby also-ran Brody’s Cause.  Would need to take a major step forward to have a shot here, but in a race where looking for contenders for the bottom part of exotics is no easy task, he could offer significant value with a ground-saving rail trip. 2 — Uncle Lino – Half-brother to Nyquist, and that’s likely where the comparisons stop.  Looked good winning last out at Los Alamitos, but not sure that he faced too much.  Should be the early leader, but seems unlikely he will have it easy, and figures to succumb to Nyquist by the top of the stretch, beginning a descent to the back of the pack. 3 — Nyquist –  Prohibitive favorite who will run away with it if he runs anything close to his typical race.  Pace scenario seems advantageous and he’s just more talented and faster than the majority of these here.  The #3 post is totally ideal, and could offer the only scenario that sees him falter if he gets squeezed back at the start, and finds himself a lot farther off the lead than he is used to.  That possibility aside, he figures to be racing at Belmont in three weeks with a Triple Crown on the line. 4 — Awesome Speed – Winner via DQ of the Federico Tesio last...

Kentucky Derby

He’s one of the best in the business when it comes to breaking down the triple crown races.  We’re thankful to bring him back yet again this year to offer his comprehensive analysis of every single horse in the field highlighted by his official picks and a few match-ups worth investing in come race day. Follow KyDerbyJay on Twitter 1)      Trojan Nation — Trying to become first horse to break his maiden with Derby win in over 80 years.  Seems highly unlikely.  Did run gamely in the Wood, but don’t think that was much of a field.  Don’t see anything to recommend. 2)      Suddenbreakingnews — The Arkansas Derby runner-up could offer some value to the back end of exotic tickets, as he’s likely to be doing his best running late. Think he’s a bit behind the top players, but is one to keep an eye on. 3)      Creator — The Arkansas Derby winner is another who should be flying in the lane.  Trackside reports have been raving about this guy has been training, and he’s eligible to take a big step forward.  Could it be enough to grab the roses? 4)      Mo Tom — Was well beaten last out in the Louisiana Derby, and would need to make a major improvement just to hit the board here.  Don’t like his chances at all. 5)      Gun Runner — Winner of 4 of 5 races, including last out in an impressive Louisiana Derby performance.   Seems to have the tactical style and an advantageous post position that can put him in a strong position to win this race.  I expect this guy to be ready for a career-best effort in his third start of the season, and...

History at Stake

Once again, we have at arrived at Belmont Saturday with a chance to see history, as American Pharoah attempts to become the first horse to win thoroughbred racing’s greatest prize, the Triple Crown, since Affirmed in 1978. He is heavily favored to do so, but so were almost all of the others who’ve been in his position in the intervening years, including the most recent failure, 2014’s California Chrome. Seven other colts stand in his way, but the daunting 1 ½ mile oval at Belmont may his biggest competitor; that and the Ghosts of Failed Attempts. Are American Pharoah and Victor Martinez up for the challenge? Let’s look at his challengers: All analysis provided by Ky Derby Jay Mubtaahij – Arrived at the Kentucky Derby off a nice score in Dubai with a bit of fanfare, and a fair share of supporters. I was not one of those, and he seemed a bit too slow for that crowd. He validated my concerns, with a dull 8th finish. He had of the best trips of the field, and had no valid excuse. That said, he still has one of the top trainers in the world in his corner, and could be eligible for an improvement off the extra five weeks of seasoning. He also figures to offer a bit of value. I would consider him for exotics, but I can’t see him winning the race. Tale of Verve – Wellllll…I completely discounted this guy in the Preakness, and he lit up the exacta and trifecta prices with an improbable 2nd place finish. He basically picked up the pieces of a shattered race, and passed horses that had stopped. He did earn career best figures across all formats, but it wasn’t like he had big numbers...

Triple Crown

Kentucky Derby Jay is back to break down the Preakness fresh off his match-up sweep at Churchill and his near misses at the top of the board.  There isn’t anyone in the business better at handicapping the biggest races that comprise the triple crown. American Pharoah proved to be deserving favorite in Louisville two weeks ago, winning the Kentucky in impressive (albeit comparatively slow) fashion. Next up in the quest to end thoroughbred racing’s long Triple Crown drought is the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. American Pharoah will enter the race as the prohibitive favorite, but his two closest finishers in the Derby — Firing Line and Dortmund — also return to challenge. Only five others join them, making this quite the small field. Let’s look at the competitors: Tale Of Verve: One of the three new shooters in the race, and by far the worst. Way outclassed, and far too slow. Absolutely no chance. Bodhisattva: Represents the local interests, and exits a win over the track in the Tesio in his last start. These types have sometimes hit the Preakness board at big odds. A candidate for third or fourth, but not much else. Divining Rod: The last of the new shooters. Hasn’t done much wrong, finishing a respectable 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby to Carpe Diem, followed by a win at Keeneland in the Lexington. Was eligible for Derby field, but connections opted to wait for this spot. Looks like a nice second-tier colt in this crop, but is likely out of the element today. Would need a career-best performance to best this field, and while it’s not out of the realm of possibility, I’m siding against. Mr. Z: Wasn’t much of a factor in the Derby, yet here he is again...

Run for the Roses

Every now and again you identify a specialist who excels in a unique handicapping discipline.  I won’t sell our author short in his abilities for other sports but around these parts he’s come to be known as the horse whisperer during triple crown season.  You can follow him on twitter @KyDerbyJay, a name that’s well earned over the years.  Here’s his thorough analysis of where you should be investing around 6:24 eastern this Saturday at Churchill downs. For those new to wagering on horses, (specifically reading Jay’s analysis for the first time), he goes through the painstaking effort to share what horses are worth including in your exotics (exactas, tris, and supers) along with his pick to win the race.  If that’s not enough, there are a few matchup suggestions as well which may resonate more with the traditional sports bettors.  Whether you watch the race for fun or profit, throw back a few mint juleps and enjoy the analysis of one of the industry’s most unheralded experts. Horses I Will Be Tossing From All Bets: Far Right: Does have the best Timeform Late Pace Rating in the field, but otherwise just looks too slow for this field. Could benefit from a complete pace breakdown, but I won’t be using him. Itsaknockout: Badly overmatched in his last start, and was trounced. Looked promising at one point, but a horse does not factor in the Derby off such an atrocious last start. Keen Ice: Way too slow for this crew, and even with a significant improvement would still be lucky to crack the top half of this field. Ocho Ocho Ocho: Too slow, and is up against a negative pace scenario, and a horrible post position. Strong candidate to bring up rear. Tencendur: Improved by...

Daily Double

The opening weekend of May should be called turn back the clock day; its the only time all year where boxing and horse racing dominate the sports discussion.  Everyone has an opinion (some good, some bad) on who takes home the Run for the Roses and of course who will walk out of the ring at Grand Garden with a championship belt.  Apparently a few jockeys at the track had a bit of fun recently making their selections but we can’t quite blame them for who they picked to win the prize fight. Keep it locked here all weekend long with plenty of fight analysis and derby tips to get you ready for a busy sports...

Chasing History

The big day has finally arrived — California Chrome will attempt to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed accomplished racing’s greatest feat in 1978. The general consensus is that he is a big favorite to win, and rightfully so. Still, many others have come to New York in the same situation, with the same expectations — and failed. What makes Chrome any different? Written by John Valter I labored long and hard over whether to attend the race in person. I have witnessed four prior attempts at a Triple Crown, and none were successful. Belmont Park after a horse loses the shot at a Triple Crown is a very sad place; indeed, I have never seen any more disappointed crowd at ANY sporting event than the folks at Belmont after Smarty Jones was run down by Birdstone 10 years ago. Ultimately, I decided that a) I’m a bad luck charm and b) as much I want to see a Triple Crown won, I don’t want to see one lost even more. Here’s my opinion of the horses that will be chasing Chrome (listed in order of preference, worst to first): Matterhorn – I have no clue why this Todd Pletcher-trained colt is entered here, other than that Danza & Intense Holiday are unable to go, so Pletcher feels the need to be multiply-represented here. He’s 0 for 3 in 2014, beaten a combined 34 lengths. Would need to take a huge leap forward to even hit the board. General a Rod – Wasn’t a fan of this guy in the Derby, and he proved me right. Was less of a fan in the Preakness, and he ran credibly, missing 3rd by a head. Improving? I doubt it, and is more likely to...

Preakness

On paper, the 2014 edition on the Preakness Stakes looks like a very easy race to handicap — bet the Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, and call it a day.  But races aren’t run on paper, even one that seems as predictable as this one.  I’ve said it many times in the past – the Preakness is a bit of a different race than the Kentucky Derby and requires a different handicapping mindset.  In many ways, it’s a more predictable race, if for no other reason than the smaller fields, but it’s also a race that has been kind to Kentucky Derby also-rans (as recently as last year with Oxbow). Written by KyDerbyJay Before we move on to the Preakness, a bit about my Derby handicapping, and what I had to say about California Chrome: “Yes, he has been the most impressive horse in the Derby prep season. He’s fast. He’s a great story, with his bargain-bin breeding. He certainly might be a freak that accelerates to an impressive win but he will do it without any of my financial support.” Looking back at that, I don’t think I’d change anything.  I still think he wasn’t a great value, but regret not wheeling him the field for exacta value.  Commanding Curve, a horse I gave some respect (and whom Thoro-Graph endorse heavily), made for a very juicy exacta — and juicy payouts are why we are in this game.  Also note that Todd asked me to provide some head-to-head wagering opportunities for my readers; I gave you 3, all of which were winners, including two underdogs <pats self on back>. So, let’s look at the 2014 Preakness field, listed in order of my preference from worst to first: (note:  while Baltimore is expected to...

2014 Run for the Roses...

Welcome to my 2014 Kentucky Derby preview…if you want to know more about what I look for in a potential Kentucky Derby winner, I refer you to my 2012 preview (where I picked 16-1 I’ll Have Another to win): http://www.toddstake.com/2012/05/04/run-for-the-roses-2012. I won’t regurgitate all that info, and instead will get right to this year’s field, which I have divided into varying degrees of class. Good luck to everyone! Written by John Valter Toss ‘Em – Uncle Sigh tried rating for the first time in the Wood Memorial, and failed. Looks like he needs to be on lead to be competitive, and just isn’t as fast as most of these…Harry’s Holiday just doesn’t look good enough…Wildcat Red has never been worst than 2nd, but has never raced outside Florida. Is a speedy type that needs the lead; the pace scenario just doesn’t seem conducive for success. Will probably win some big races down the line, but not on Saturday night…Vicar’s In Trouble was an easy front-running winner of the Louisiana Derby, and gets popular jockey Rosie Napravnik in the irons. Will likely attract some attention at the windows, but the inside post likely spells doom. A complete toss as far as I am concerned…It seems fair to toss Vinceremo’s Blue Grass, but it’s not like the rest of his resume is that sparkling. Is likely just too slow…At press time, Wesley Ward had not announced whether Pablo Del Monte, on the Also-Eligible list, would take Hoppertunity’s spot, but it’s irrelevant in my mind. A complete non-factor. Think About ‘Em…Then Toss ‘Em- Samraat entered the Wood Memorial undefeated, but came up short. On paper, it doesn’t look like a bad effort, but visually is a different story. Entered the stretch looking like a winner, and then...

Belmont Preview

Not going to waste a lot of words here, and get right down to business. Here is the field for the 2013 Belmont Stakes, listed in order by post position: Written by @KyDerbyJay Frac Daddy – Loved what this horse did as a 2YO, but hasn’t carried his form over to his 3YO campaign.  Showed some promise in the Arkansas Derby, and was regarded by some as a live longshot at Churchill Downs.  Turned in a real stinker there though, beaten 24 lengths in the slop.  Feel like that one is an easy toss-out, and that he could sitting on a big race after the five-week layoff.  Have huge respect for trainer Kenny McPeek, and will be using him on a few tickets. Freedom Child –Figures to be overbet after a runaway triumph over a sloppy track in the Peter Pan 4 weeks ago.  That win was aided by first time Lasix; was that the wake-up call he needed?  I’m skeptical, based on a pretty average form prior.  Not going to completely his dismiss his chances at stringing back-to-back big races together, but just don’t think he is going to offer fair value at the wagering windows. Overanalyze –Hearing a lot of chatter about this one from folks I respect, but that same chatter was coming during Derby Week as well. Captured the Arkansas Derby two races back, a race I’ve dismissed as painfully slow — did Oxbow’s Preakness change my thinking on that?  Where Overanalyze is concerned, the answer is a steadfast no.  Just don’t see him making much of an impact in this race. Giant Finish – I gave this one absolutely no shot in the Kentucky Derby, and he split the field in 10th place at 39-1.  Has worked steadily for...

Preakness Preview

Written by Kentucky Derby Jay  The middle jewel of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown is upon us — Saturday marks the 138th running of The Preakness at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.  To harken back to something I said last year, the Preakness is a bit of a different race than the Kentucky Derby and requires a different handicapping mindset. While recent Derbys have produced some winners who completely disappeared after wearing the garland of roses (Giacomo, Mine That Bird, Super Saver), the Preakness has produced a number of champions who either failed in the Derby (Afleet Alex, Curlin, Lookin At Lucky) or didn’t race in Kentucky at all (Bernardini, Rachel Alexandra).  Of course, the most popular Preakness winners are those who back up their Derby victory, as did I’ll Have Another did last year, and thus stay alive for that most elusive of accomplishments, the Triple Crown.  35 years and counting, people.  So, it’s fair to say that all eyes will be on this year’s Derby champ, Orb. Before we delve into this year’s Preakness (an incredibly small field of nine horses), I wanted to take a minute to look back at my Derby handicapping.  I feel pretty good about my analysis, even in spite of saying this about Orb: Orb was the one Itsmyluckyday was chasing, and has earned Derby favoritism off of that effort.  He had a monster workout on Monday, which has everybody proclaiming him the next big thing.  Look, I think he’s a super horse, and very capable of winning this race, that close to a race of this distance (and stature). I don’t think he wins this one now That said, I still had Orb tabbed as the third choice.  In fact, my top three selections ran 5th-3rd-1st.  Not...