Princess Rooney preview

Birdatthewire Headlines Princess Rooney

The Princess Rooney handicap will probably fly under the radar for most, but it’s important race as it grants entry in to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint as part of the Challenge Series. The “win and you’re in” sentiment of the prep race circuit for the world championships is a great concept and the sprint category often gets overlooked by horse players. That’s leaving money on the table.

Birdatthewire is the horse to bakc at the Princess Rooney despite a 5th place finish at the Humana Distaff back in early May. The four-year old filly out of Summer Bird and My Limit has had a rough 2016 campaign and is still searching for her first victory since winning the La Brea the day after Christmas last year. She will be the highest rated horse in the field. During this particular season, Birdatthewire has also finished 4th at the Madison, 5th at the Santa Maria and was runner-up at the La Canada.

The next best bet afterwards is Cali Star, who placed 5th at the Heavenly Prize Invitational and 2nd at the Houston Ladies Classic in 2016. She also won the Rampart last year and has the speed to match Birdatthewire. The Martin Wolfson trainee is as desperate to get back in to the winner’s circle and is still waiting for her real breakout race.

Concealedwithakiss is the only contender entering the Princess Rooney with a win in her last outing, but that was at an allowance. The four-year old filly trained by Edward Plesa Jr. is not a big player in the game and hasn’t competed in many stakes races for good reason.

Brad Cox’s Spelling Again is also a decent consideration after a 3rd place finish at the Winning Colors. She finished in the same spot at the Ruffian Handicap and also came 7th at the Madison all in 2016. The five-year old mare has been a decent challenger and could threaten the ranks at the Princess Rooney while offering a strong reward as a place bet to horse players.

Be Mind Phil, Willow Hills, My Miss Venezuela and Kiss To Remember round out the Princess Rooney Handicap field.

The 7-furlong sprint will take place at Gulfstream park at 6:02pm EST.

Mother Goose Stakes preview

Rachel’s Valentina Stars In Mother Goose Stakes

The 2016 season hasn’t exactly panned out for Rachel’s Valentina as her connections had hoped. The daughter of past Preakness winners Bernardini and Rachel Alexandra entered her three-year old season as one of the favorites to burst through and rule over her age class. Instead, it’s been one painful loss after another. The Mother Goose Stakes will represent a chance for her to right the ship.

Rachel’s Valentina burst on to the scene before she had even broken the gates at any stakes races. That’s what happens when you have a pedigree such as hers. She is considered thoroughbred royalty. Winning her maiden debut and the Spinaway late last summer indicated that she was well on the rise to becoming the next, great female contender.

Later that year, she would face Songbird at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and place as the runner-up. That race was supposed to set the stage for one of the best rivalries in 2016, and one that certainly had the stock to help propel the unofficially named Triple Tiara.

Unfortunately, the undefeated Songbird came down with a fever that held her out of the Kentucky Oaks and Rachel’s Valentina was bested by Weep No More at the Ashland in April in her only prep race. At Churchill Downs, the heiresses stock fell even further as she plummeted to sixth in a field of 14 at the Kentucky Oaks. She skipped the last two legs of the Tiara circuit and has no resurfaced for the Mother Goose Stakes.

She will have her hands full at the race, especially when it comes to outside runner Lighstream who is coming off a win at the Soaring Softly. Lewis Bay, who came third at the Kentucky Oaks her last time out, will also be in the thick of things. Off The Tracks placed second at the Acorn amongst a strong field and will also look to play the role of spoiler. Then there’s newcomer Linda Mimi, who recently won her first maiden after placing third in her first attempt.

All will be trying to derail Rachel’s Valetina’s attempts at a comeback to the perch she sat so safely on just a handful of months ago. The Mother Goose Stakes will either be vindication for this beloved contender, or it will be one of the final nails in her competitive coffin. Let’s hope that it’s the former, especially considering that this race was one of the many challenges that her mother won.

The Mother Goose Stakes is a 1 1/16th mile race at Belmont Park that will be run this Saturday, July 2nd at 5:45pm EST.

Mother Goose Stakes (Belmont Park – Saturday, July 2nd at 5:45pm EST)
1 1/6th mile, 3+ Year Old Fillies, $300,000)

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Linda Mimi (KY) Jose Lezcano 121 Gustavo Delgado
2 Off the Tracks (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 121 Todd A. Pletcher
6 Rachel’s Valentina (KY) John R. Velazquez 121 Todd A. Pletcher
5 Lewis Bay (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 121 Chad C. Brown
4 Mo d’Amour (KY) Manuel Franco 121 Todd A. Pletcher
3 Mom’s On Strike (FL) Kendrick Carmouche 121 Joe Sharp
7 Lightstream (KY) Joel Rosario 121 Brian A. Lynch

Gallop Hour Friday Racing Kicks off Summer Meet at Laurel Park July 1

Summer Racing at Laurel Park Expected to be Strong

Opening day of summer racing at Laurel Park starts July 1. A big weekend of racing is expected with the Gallop Hour Twilight racing program beginning Friday and holiday racing continuing on Monday, July 4. Laurel Park is expecting a strong opening weekend after increases in total and average handle were reported following the winter-spring meet.

The Maryland Jockey Club noted that average daily handle at Laurel was $2.372 million, up 34.5 percent from $1.764 million in 2015. Total handle on Laurel’s winter-spring meet was $151.1 million, up 9-percent from $140 million in 2015, while in-state wagering on Laurel was up 25 percent from $37.4 million in 2015 to $46.7 million.

“We continue to see growth in the Maryland Thoroughbred industry both locally and nationally,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “The sport is clearly undergoing a resurgence, and racing is being revitalized with better quality racing, more participation from horsemen around the country, and our growing off-track betting network have helped. We’ve never had such a wonderful working relationship between horsemen, the commission, legislators and our fans. We are looking forward to continued growth this summer at Laurel Park.”

Post time for Race 1 of the Gallop Hour Twilight Racing Friday, July 1 is 3:40 p.m. ET.

Amoss & Gaudet Join Saratoga Live

Saratoga Live, the soon-to-launch regional and national show from the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and Fox Sports, has announced the additions of Gabby Gaudet and Tom Amoss to their broadcast team. Gaudet is an on-air host of Gulfstream Park simulcast show and is a Maryland Jockey Club racing analyst. Amoss, a trainer, has been a racing analyst for ESPN and TVG.

Amoss and Gaudet will join a Saratoga Live crew that already includes paddock reporter Maggie Wolfendale, host Jason Blewitt, NYRA handicapper Andy Serling, track announcer Larry Collmus, and former champion jockey Richard Migliore. They will be on hand for the entire run of the 40-day Saratoga meet.

Saratoga Live will be broadcast through Fox Sports 2, the Altitude Sports Network, and MSG+. It will feature over 80 hours of live racing coverage, which will include all 40 stakes races. All the NYRA races will also be available via a live stream on and the FOX Sports Go app.

It will be a busy and exciting time for the NYRA. In addition to the meet itself, and the TV coverage, they are also unveiling their new national advance deposit wagering platforms — NYRA Bets, which will be available to horseplayers across the country.

“The addition of Gabby and Tom only underscores the depth of our Saratoga coverage,” said Tony Allevato, NYRA Executive Producer and NYRA Bets President. “Both are well respected and bring unique perspectives on racing telecasts. They join an incredible team providing the best analysis in racing. Saratoga Live will be must-see TV for our fans across the country, and we look forward to the launch on July 22.”

Private Zone

Private Zone Heads Smile Sprint Handicap

The field for the upcoming Smile Sprint Handicap has yet to be fully declared, but one horse that will be featured is Private Zone. The seven-year old gelding is coming off a disappointing 5th place finish at the Cigar Mile, his only race since placing as the runner-up in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The winner of this weekend’s challenge will earn a berth back in to that very same race.

At 7-7-3 in 23 races, Private Zone has had an immensely profitable career. She has averaged $90,644 per start and grossed total earning of $2,900,062. The tough end to the 2015 campaign forced Private Zone to retreat to The Sanctuary in Florida for some much deserved rest and relaxation, and the choice to spend some time there has paid off.

In the leadup to the True North Handicap, which trainer Bryan Lynch later pulled him out of, Private Zone looked to be going strong. He breezed six furlongs in 1:13 2/5 on May 20th. The True North ran on June 10th and was won by Joking in a time of 1:08.04, a time that Lynch’s trainee is surely worth catching. The benefit of competing in the Smile Sprint Handicap is that it’s a Breeders’ Cup qualifier.

Also considered to be in the running for the race will be Awesome Banner who was last seen winning the Big Cyrpress Stakes. The three-year old colt now has four wins including the Swale and Hutcheson Stakes with a 5th place finish at the Fountain of Youth and an 8th place finish at the Tampa Bay Derby. Those last two races summarily forced him to withdraw from the Triple Crown series so it will be interesting to see if the Mark Casse guided youth is a bit of a late bloomer.

Speechify has also declared for the Sprint Smile Handicap but isn’t much of a factor to be honest. The six-year old gelding was 4th at the Mr. Prospector Stakes after placing third at the Woodword and 5th at the GP Sprint Challenge, all of which too place in 2015.

For those attune to the horse racing world, Private Zone has been a fan favorite and there is much hope that he has one final charge left in the hips. There’s strong reason to believe that he’ll be the favorite at the Smile Sprint Handicap on Saturday, July 2nd when the gates crack open. The six-furlong sprint is hosted by Gulfstream Park.



Trevor McCarthy Wins Riding Title at Pimlico

22-Year Old Trevor McCarthy Rides 3 Winners on Final Day to Win Riding Title

Heading into the final week of racing at Pimlico, jockey Feargal Lynch had 23 winners with Trevor McCarthy and Victor Carrasco just behind with 22. Jevian Toledo also had a shot at the riding title with 20 winners.

But McCarthy rode three winners Sunday on closing day of the Preakness Meet at Pimlico to earn his second consecutive meet title in Maryland this year.

“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling, especially because I missed a lot of days this meet,” he said. “I was able to ship out and ride some good horses, and to be able to do both means a lot.”

McCarthy entered Sunday’s nine-race program tied with Victor Carrasco at 26 wins, with Feargal Lynch and Jevian Toledo right behind with 25. Toledo won the seventh race to reach 26 wins and tie for second with Carrasco.

Kieron Magee, Maryland’s leading trainer in 2014 and 2015, clinched his fourth consecutive meet title during Friday’s program and finished with 14 winners.

“This is home. I love Laurel, but this is home for me so this means a little more,” Magee said. “I galloped horses here for 25 years and live 20 minutes from here. It’s home.”

McCarthy credited his fellow jockey’s for encouragement and his success.

“We have a good colony here, I think. Everybody wants to win and everybody wants to ride a good race. Everybody wants to be on the good horses, hustles hard and works in the mornings. It all came down to the last couple weeks,” McCarthy said.

“Victor, Toledo, Feargal, Edgar, I’ve learned a lot from them and I just want to thank all of them for kind of pushing me to do better and ride better and pay attention to what they’re doing,” he added. “Especially Edgar, he’s come here and I’ve learned so much just watching him. He’s a great role model to look up to and we’re privileged to have him here.”

Maryland’s leading rider in 2014, McCarthy edged Carrasco, 66-60, to win Laurel Park’s winter-spring meet that preceded Pimlico.

“I couldn’t have done it without the trainers and owners; my agent Scotty has done a great job. We had an awesome weekend this weekend,” he said. “I just want to say thank you to all them, all the grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, everybody that really takes part in the barn to get the horses ready and give me the privilege to ride them. When you’re riding good horses, you’re going to win a lot of races.”

Live racing moves from historic Pimlico Race Course to Laurel Park beginning Friday, July 1.

bad weather is bad business

Bad Weather Means Bad Business

Bad weather can certainly mean bad business for horse racing. Severe thunderstorms in Kentucky forced Churchill Downs to cancel their twilight meet on June 23rd after completing seven of the races on the program. Racing has resumed at the prestigious track on Friday beginning at 12:45pm earlier today.

Churchill Downs acknowledged that the bad weather forced them to make a swift decision. “With the safety of the equine and human athletes in mind, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards, in conjunction with track officials, made the decision to cancel the race at post time.”

This is the first time an event at Churchill Downs has been cancelled since the track was frozen in November 2014. The spring meet seldom runs in to problems with inclement weather having last terminated a session due to insanely hot heat waves in 2012.

You certainly can’t predict the weather, but it seems to be having more of an impact on the sport than in usual seasons. The Preakness Stakes was notably drenched, making it an ideal slopfest for Exaggerator while curtailing the Triple Crown hopes of Nyquist.

Most recently, Del Mar Racetrack on the west coast had to cancel a handful of races through their spring session due to bad weather as well. This has led to a serious drop off in handle, which has subsequently led to Del Mar decreasing the overnight purses for their summer meet.

“The reasoning is, we can only pay out what we generate from handle,” said Tom Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “We’ve paid out, in the last two years, a little more than we’ve generated. This is not only set by us, but also the owners.”

Del Mar is facing some financial problems largely due to the fact that they lack the same casino revenue that other tracks do. “We’re still paying more. You can’t compare us with New York or other states that have the benefits of slots or casinos,” Robbins continued in defence of his track’s profits. “We’re doing it the old-fashioned way.”

Mohaymen Returns to Work for First Time Since Kentucky Derby

Multiple grade II stakes winner Mohaymen made his return to the race track yesterday, taking part in a three-furlong jaunt at the Greentree Training Center that is located across from the Saratoga Race Course.

Mohaymen’s workout was clocked in at a time of :36 2/5. It was the first timed run since he came in fourth place at the Kentucky Derby.

“He worked great, galloped out in :49 and wouldn’t have blown out a match,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “We’re on our way to working weekly leading up to his next start.”

When the time comes for his next work, Mohaymen is expected to tackle the main Saratoga track, which is set to open for training sessions on July 1st. As for Mohaymen’s next race, McLaughlin is debating between two late July races: the $600,000 Jim Dandy (gr. II) on July 30th and the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on July 31st. The Dandy will be run at Saratoga and the Haskell is set to take place at Monmouth Park.

It would seem likely Mohaymen’s comeback race would be the Jim Dandy, as it is considered the hometown prep race for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (gr. I). The August 27th race is being tabbed as Mohaymen’s main summer goal after a bit of down time following the Kentucky Derby.

“Mohaymen went home right after the Derby, just for a once over. He was fine–a clean bill of health,” said McLaughlin. “We were never going to go to the Belmont (gr. I). He’s doing great and pointing for the Jim Dandy (and) Travers. We might look at the Haskell. We’ll see, but that’s the weekend we’re looking at.”

Wavell Avenue

Wavell Avenue To Lay In Bed O’ Roses (Handicap)

The 2016 campaign hasn’t gone as swimmingly for Wavell Avenue as his connections would have hoped. The five-year old mare came off a scintilating win at the Breeders’ Cup Fillies & Mares last fall, but has since showed third at the Madison (GR1) and checked at fourth in the Humana Distaff (GR1). Hopefully dropping down a few grades in to the Bed O’ Roses Handicap at Belmont Park this weekend will help get her back to those winning ways.

Overall, Wavell Avenuse is 5-1-2 in 13 races. Since her first victory, she has never placed out of the top-four, so there’s plenty of optimism surrounding the Chad Brown trainee. Belmont Park has been friendly to the mare as well. She has won a claiming race, a maiden special weight while placing second at the Gallant Bloom (GR2) in a loss to La Verdad as well.

The main threat to unseat the expected favorite at the Bed O’ Roses Handicap is  Bar Of Gold who recently won the Critical Eye. Trained by John Kimmel, the four-year old filly is coming on strong as of late after a string of second place finishes on the 2015 circuit. She finished as the runner-up in the Test (GR1), Prioress (GR2) and Raven Run (GR2) before falling to 6th at the Inside Information (GR2) and 3rd at the Distaff Handicap (GR3). After some much needed rest, it looks like this young gunner is ready to take on the world and a take down of Wavell Avenue would go a long way in asserting her stock.

Rounding out the field will be By The Moon, West Coast Chick, Mayla and Pangburn. None of those seem to have the talent to give Wavell Avenue a serious challenge, but it remains to be seen if the five-year old can recreate the magic of her Breeders’ Cup win from last year.


Aztec Brave Wins Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury

Aztec Brave Rewards Bettors as Favorite in Mystic Lake Mile

On one of the biggest racing cards of the meet at Canterbury, Aztec Brave stalked and pounced to a Father’s Day victory in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile. The 5-year-old French-bred gelding ran 1-mile on firm turf in 1:35.95 and paid $6 as the favorite with Chris Rosier in the irons.

Aztec Brave stalked the leader in the early stages under a firm rating. He continued with a steady bid to assert himself midway through the far turn then raced forward into the upper stretch before moving clear and bounded home in the late stages to win by 1 ½ lengths. Second choice Granny’s Kitten rallied from off the pace for second and Nun the Less finished third as the 9-2 third choice.

Aztec Brave is trained by Joe Sharp, and he was claimed for just $30,000 in October, 2014 by owner Brad Grady. He had three wins last year before picking up his first win of 2016 on Sunday.

“This horse has been something special to us,” said Sharp. “Brad Grady has been a huge part of where I am today, and this was one of the first horses we claimed together. We’re lucky to have a horse like this.”

The fourth running of the Mystic Lake Mile was “a nice Father’s Day present,’’ said Sharp, who has two children and another on the way.

Canterbury Park continues to draw well with attendance, and the track with the lowest takeout rate in the country enjoyed a big day of betting on Sunday with their two featured races in the Mystic Lake Mile and Lady Canterbury.