Friday, October 28, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Fayette Stakes (G2)

Noble Bird Ready to Fly in 2016 Fayette Stakes

By: John Caro, S. FL ThoroFan Member

Hagyard Fayette Stakes – Grade II - $200K – 1 & 1/8 Miles (3+)

Looks like it will be a great day for racing with bright skies and a fast dry track. No three year olds are entered for what is expected to be a runaway race by Noble Bird, provided he’s in the mood. It may require a good look at him on screen or live to sum up what he’s going to do today. I think the true par for this race is 98. Those that can consistently play in that area and are improving in form are key players today.

#2 - Noble Bird (6/5) – Hard ridden in his last out at Churchill in the Lukas Classic for a wire to wire finish after a lay off as he did the last time he took a break. He has all the pace and speed to win in today’s contest. His regular rider is aboard and knows this horse well with two wins and three incredibly poor efforts. His trainer has stated that he is a tough to ride and moody. He also said he’s at the top of his game. Looking though the running lines tells me he can be stellar and have exceptional speed or flop and mosey home if he has a bad start or the pace gets harsh in front of him. The other caution I see is when he’s taken a lay off he comes back strong and his second after lay off was a flop. He’s had two good works since his last out and probably holds his form. The expected favorite with no win bet value.

#1 – Hawaakom (8/1) – Second to Noble Bird at the Lukas Classic and he finished strong with a close from far back. After some traffic trouble during the first furlough and being behind Noble Bird by 12 lengths it was a nice effort down on the rail and well timed to close to within one and a half at 12 to 1. I don’t believe he’ll have traffic jamming from the rail post and may have a better trip. His lines show his ability to close from the back or mid pack with excellent speed. The drawback is the last out was a huge effort. In a smaller field he may threaten with his 8 ITM finishes in the last ten outings. I like him third.

#3 Kasaqui (6/1) – Interesting thing about this guy is the decision to move to dirt after a great career on the grass. There is no question that the distance is suitable for him and one might think that the move to dirt is unwise but, I don’t think so because Alysheba could show up and wouldn’t that be fun. Interesting side note: Robby Alvarado rode Kasaqui’s sire, Lasting Approval to many victories. He came back after a break and shot a 97 Bris speed in a good effort. The win and place at Arlington are encouraging as well. He could be a value play because the crowd doesn’t see him coming. We can hope his odds move up like several races he’s had between 12 and 15 to 1 and play him as a single place bet. Could be dangerous.

#4 Mr. Z (10/1) – This is an ambitious position for this guy to be in. He hasn’t been ITM in the last five starts and was on a break since November until his last in the Ack Ack with terrible results. Yes, we’d all like to see him improve and return to form but, I just don’t see it happening. No play here for me. There is one thing he may do in this race. His early speed/pace may affect the outcome for Noble Bird. He may challenge Bird through a half at a hot pace and that will bring others into the mix. I hope.

#5 Chocopologie (30/1) – This guy gives me chills. Here we have a four year old who’s been hiding out in the South with a ten race career and has never been out of the money. In his only graded stakes he lost by 2.25 to Mobile Bay who he came back to beat decisively in the recent Governor’s Cup. He may look out classed here but his running style may stay on pace and close from the ¾ pole and cause damage to other’s chances. I believe I will play this guy in combination with others in an exacta with a win and place bet to boot. Have to believe he will be in the money.

#6 Prayer for Relief (6/1) – He is the oldest horse in the race and did not fare well in his trip overseas. He has had four good works after a six month rest but, I don’t think he will be able to keep pace with the field. Corey will do his best as always and Mr. Romans is a sly fellow at Keeneland but, I can’t recommend this animal. Not on my ticket.

#7 Iron Fist (5/1) – Asmussen brings his charge to this field from a second place finish by half a length in the Ack Ack against Tom’s Ready. This will be Iron Fist’s third off a layoff and he’s had nice works since his last race and I would expect his form is intact. Santana gets the call and he can be tactical. The drawback for me is his record going longer than a mile. He just seems to be a mile specialist and today might be longer than he wants. I’d use him in third or fourth in exotics.

#8 Divining Rod (5/1) – Another who is third of a layoff and his last visit to Keeneland I remember well as I made a nice wager on him then in the Lexington. His performance in the Preakness was good as well considering the company. He’s taken almost a year off to come back in two back to back wins at PARX and the speed ratings match up pretty well given today’s competition. He also has the running style for the race set up that may develop with a strong leader and those that can carefully track the path in a short field. He may be the best of the rest.

If you believe that Noble Bird is fit in his mind and will behave, then by all means bet him with vigor in an exacta with your picks. I like to see consistent speeds and efforts that point me to my picks when betting. The three I see as the most consistent and their form is coming forward are the #5, #8 and the #3. My idea of a good bet is below.

 Win/Place bets:
$5 win and place on #5 Chocopologie (30/1)  $10 – if his odds go down to about 25 play $7-8
$15 win on #8 Divining Rod (5/1)   $15
$15 win on #3 Kasaqui (6/1)     $15

$3 Exacta Box - 3,5,7 / 3,5,7   $18
If you think Noble Bird’s mood is right!!!
$20 Exacta 2 with 3,5,7  $60

You could play a large place bet on your best choice of the above three under Noble Bird and be happy as well. Let you wallet decide.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Raven Run Stakes (G2)

Lucy N Ethel Ready to Roll in 2016 Raven Run Stakes

By: Nick Costa, Trackside with Trackman

A dozen three-year old fillies are entered for the 18th running of the Grade 2 Raven Run on Saturday. First run in 1999, the Raven Run Stakes, which has been sponsored by Lexus since 2005, is named after a nature sanctuary about a half-hour drive from Keeneland Race Course, the site where the race is held. It is a Grade 2 sprint for 3-year old fillies at 7-furlongs with a purse value of $250,000 and is run during the third week of October as part of the race course's annual Fall Meet. The race attained G3 status in 2002, then earned its current Grade 2 designation in 2006.

Let's take a peek from the rail out.

PP -  Horse/Jockey/Trainer
1 -Covey Trace/Brian Hernandez/William Denzik Jr.--She won her first stakes last start in the G3 Charlestown Oaks where her heart was on display as she displayed firm determination in winning by a neck. F.Y.I, last year's Raven Run winner (Sarah Sis) also exited the C.T.Oaks.

2 - Ma Can Do It/Channing Hill/Dale Romans --As a maiden back in the springtime, she finished 2nd at 50-1 odds in the G2 Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico. She recently broke maiden ranks in her 10th start last time out. Too slow to win this.

3 - Grace's Treasure/Jesus Castonon/Michael Ewing--Following a six-week layoff, this girl finished third in the Dogwood Stakes last race, her only start at this distance. That was a nice tightener and should move forward.

4 - Lucy N Ethel/Corey Lanerie/Tom Amoss--After healing from ankle surgery, this speedy Pennsylvania-bred filly returned last month to win the G2 Prioress. She has never been headed and now puts her unbeaten record on the line while traveling an additional furlong.

5 - Southern Girl/Florent Geroux/Larry Jones--Gray filly exits a stakes win and has won 4 of her first 5 starts, which includes beating older runners. Has a nice mid-pack running style and should give a good account of herself.

6 - Bellamentary/Martin Garcia/Philip D'Amato--The only filly in this field that can boast of a runner-up finish to Songbird, which was accomplished two starts back at Santa Anita. May find herself in the early mix at this distance, which she is 2 for 2 at.

7 - Malibu Stacy/Gabriel Saez/George Weaver--Stakes-placed closer will try to rebound from a nondescript turf outing last month. Scored going 7-furlongs at the Spa, but against weaker.

8 - Curlin's Aprroval/Tyler Gaffalione/Martin Wolfson--She's been spotted against older runners three times and has come away victorious each occasion. The only defeat hung on her was against her own age group. Speed figures are on the rise and she owns the best last race figure (BRIS) in the field. Has been away since August, but has trained swiftly. Should be involved early.

9 - Coniah/Joe Bravo/Kiaran McLaughlin--G3 placed runner brings plenty of speed to the table, but seems overmatched and the 7f distance doesn't appear to suit her.

10 - Sophia's Song/Robby Albarado/Todd Pletcher--Her graded stakes debut in the C.T.Oaks last month saw her employ closing tactics and just miss by a neck. Was on the lead before giving way to T.C.A. winner, Irish Jasper, when the two met at Saratoga in August. In the money in all six starts.

11 - Takrees/Ricardo Santana/Kiaran McLaughlin-- First level allowance winner closed from last place with a fierce rally to finish third behind Lucy n Ethel when stepped up in company in the 10-horse G2 Prioress field last race. Has yet to race beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.

12 - Lightstream/Julien Leparoux/ Brian Lynch--Reeled off three consecutive wins to begin her career before the streak was halted in  the G1 Mother Goose with a third-place finish. Contested the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga where she was denied very late. A 3-time winner at the distance.

All eyes, of course, will be watching Lucy n Ethel to find out if the young filly can keep her unbeaten record intact. She's certainly proven fast early and fast late, but the question is, can she repeat the latter feat traveling into unchartered territory? There are a few others in here that can motor quickly also, but although no opponent has put her away thus far, and probably won't here either, the added pressure she will face in the early stages may leave her vulnerable in the final furlong. I'll bet against the winning streak continuing.

No one likes to play a favorite, well, she is on the morning line and very well could be at post time, but Lightstream gets my call. She exits the best races (Mother Goose and Test) that any of these runners came out of. She’s proven at this distance, including a win in the G3 Beaumont over the Keeneland surface this past spring, has trained fast for this, and should get a strong pace to run at.

Longshot play:
Southern Girl should receive a nice trip in behind the front flight and get first crack to take over from the tiring speed. Whether she can hold off my top choice remains to be seen, but with a strong late kick of her own, she has to be afforded a solid chance, especially at nice odds. She's displayed consistency, with 4 wins in 5 starts. This is her first try in graded stakes company and there may be more upside to this gal seeing she is lightly-raced. She has shown steady progression in each start that another move forward could get it done here.

About Nick Costa 
Nick became instantly hooked on horseracing when his father first took him to the racetrack when he was 5 years old. As a racing fan, he attended several Kentucky Derby's and Breeders' Cups, while also traveling to several major and minor tracks throughout the United States and Canada. Back in the year 2000, Nick became a licensed owner and is currently still involved with the sport in that honored capacity. In 2010, Nick added another dimension when he began to try his hand at writing about horse racing by previewing and recapping major events for different racing outlets. You can view much of Nick’s writing contributions on his blog, Trackside withTrackman at Horse Racing Nation.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Canadian International (G1)

Idaho, Dartmouth Invade 2016 Canadian International

By: Reinier Macatangay, Lady and the Track

Without a doubt, the $1 million Canadian International (GI), scheduled for Sunday at the 1 1/2-mile distance at Woodbine, has been friendly to invaders. Foreigners own a six-race win streak in this event, with the last American-based winner coming in 2009 (Champs Elysees). Four overseas-based horses are entered this time.

Subsequently, the streak will likely continue this weekend. Out of the four invaders, Idaho and Dartmouth look most probable to keep the European domination going. For one, both of them are using Lasix, which helps.

But, there are other reasons to side with Idaho and Dartmouth.

In Idaho’s case, he has the familiar Aiden O’Brien as his trainer, and Americans know O’Brien is successful at bringing horses to this continent and winning major turf races. When analyzing overseas horses, siding with a trainer with past success is important because the horse needs to acclimate to the new place. The trainer can help.

Idaho’s form is not terrible either. He owns a Group 2 win this year in Great Britain. Idaho also finished runner-up to Harzand more than once, and Harzand rates as one of the top 3-year-old runners in Europe, if not the best.

Furthermore, Idaho’s only “clunker” came in the St. Leger on Sept. 10, but O’Brien can turn form around quickly. Remember when Magician ran a poor race overseas and came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) a few years ago? Whether through Lasix or other methods, Europeans sometimes wake up when they come to North America.

As for Dartmouth, he raced against good company overseas as well. Fans are familiar with the name Highland Reel, who defeated Flintshire in Hong Kong last December. Dartmouth defeated Highland Reel in the Hardwicke Stakes (GII) at Ascot. Add the Lasix, and Dartmouth should be a prime contender in this spot too.

The other two Europeans do not offer as much appeal, although they deserve small consideration.

Erupt is owned by Flaxman Holdings, a group that is familiar to Americans. When he competed against Highland Reel and Dartmouth in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (GI) though, he lost by over four lengths.

In dirt racing, four lengths is not a lot of ground to make up.

When it comes to turf racing, four lengths can signify a thorough beatdown because the flow of grass races encourages a clustered finish (slow and bunched early, fast late).

Protectionist starts from the outside, and he shows a three-race winning streak. The wins were earned in Germany though, and it is hard to trust a German Group I event as equal to a Group I in Great Britain or France.

Before the streak, Protectionist had trouble picking up wins in Australia, a racing circuit which arguably also falls somewhere below the Group I racing standard in Great Britain and France.

Beyond the invaders, the competition appears more questionable.

Danish Dynaformer likes this racetrack, but his sole 2016 win came against the washed up Hardest Core. The Pizza Man defeated him by over three lengths in the local Northern Dancer (GI) too, which is not a good sign either.

World Approval is a pace presence at best. He should fade down the lane.

The Pizza Man needed a 53-second half mile to take down the Northern Dancer. It is unlikely to see the same fractions here, although if the half did go in 53 again, better horses are around to close the gap.

Wake Forest did a decent job closing into the soft Northern Dancer pace, when he started three lengths off the lead and lost by a neck. At least Javier Castellano hops on board. The overall class just remains questionable.

Taghleeb is a Grade II or Grade III type at best.

Bettors only need Idaho and Dartmouth, two opposite locations on the North American map, for horizontal wagers. Hopefully, bettors waste their money on The Pizza Man and ignore the two main European contenders.

One of them will deliver.

$100 Handigambling:

$30 Win - Idaho
$35 Exacta Box - Idaho, Dartmouth

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1)

Five Go for the Gold in Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes

 By Robert Marks, They're in the Gate (and on Twitter @theyreinthegate)

On Saturday, October 8th, 2016 NYRA has dubbed Belmont Park Racing Day as "Super Saturday. The day includes multiple Graded Stakes including the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup for 3-year-olds and up. The winner gets an automatic entry into the Breeder's Cup Classic. The field has scratched down to a small 5 horse field.
Here are the participants listed by Post Position, Horse, Age, Odds, Weight, Jockey and Trainer
5 H
Javier Castellano
Todd Pletcher
4 C
Jose Ortiz Jr.
Kiernan McLaughlin
5 H
Johnny Velazquez
Bob Baffert

Joel Rosairo
Kiernan McLaughlin
Mike Smith
Jimmy Jerkens

Here's who we like as far as horses to consider:
Mubtaahij -The 8-5 morning line odds might go off as the favorite so watch the board. He seems ready to pop a big one. He always runs hard and I expect McLaughlin to have him ready. Comes off a 2nd place in the Woodward Stakes at the Spa. The 1 1/4 distance will be no problem for this horse with much distance pedigree.  

Effinex - A Veteran who likes the Belmont Dirt and has run this distance 7 times. Always love hearing the race call of this horse.

Watershed - The other entry for McLaughlin deserves a long look, especially if he stays at 10-1 or higher. With 9 races under his belt, 3 in Graded Stakes races, I think he can stick around for a in the money showing. Biggest weakness will be distance.

Wagering/Betting Handigambling Bankroll: Here is our $82 worth of betting for the race

We feel confident with Mubtaahij and recommend using him in all your exotic bets.

$25 Win/Place: Mubtaahij (2) ($50 total)
EXACTA: $2 Key Exacta (10 Bets for total cost of $20)
2,6  / 2,6,5,1
Trifecta ($1 Box for $12 Total)

As always, watch the Board and if at the track watch how the horses look in the Paddock and adjust your bets accordingly. Good Luck!