Fourstardave Handicap Preview

Time Test Looks Tough in Fourstardave while World Approval Tries to Snap Trainers Struggles at the Spa

This is the 33rd running of The FourStarDave Handicap (G1) for 3-year-olds and up over the inner turf course at Saratoga. The $500,000 Grade I race was shorted to 1 mile in 2012, and this year’s edition has a field of 7 lined up including a filly, Sassy Little Lila (6-1), battling the boys.

Disco Partner (2-1) and World Approval (9-2) will both have new jockeys in the irons. That’s because their regular riders are in Chicago for the Arlington Million. We feel this will really affect Disco Partner, as he’s won 4-of-5 coming into Saturday’s race as the 2nd betting choice. But Disco Partner has to be ridden to perfection as he has one big kick coming from the rear. If the new jockey Tyler Gaffalione doesn’t time his move right on Disco Partner it will be very costly down the lane. If that were to come at the expense of World Approval, who will also be racing on or near the lead, then trainer Mark Casse would pick up just his 2nd win of the meet through 40 starts heading into the weekend.

There appears to be little speed lined up and that will really help Sassy Little Lila. She was scratched last weekend in another stakes race at Saratoga by her trainer Brad Cox for this spot and she’s also facing males today as well.  Sassy Little Lila will take them as far as she can on the front end, and while she may hang on for a share at the wire, a win would be a big surprise.

The morning line favorite Time Test (8/5) looks tough in this spot for trainer Chad Brown despite trying a mile for the first time in the U.S. Time Test is coming into this race after finishing 2nd in back to back races at Belmont Park as the favorite. Many handicappers will look to fade him as they consider him a money burner off those last two races. We also think Disco Partner will take money at the windows, but Time Test has lots of talent and class and can rate much closer to the pace will little speed pushing on the front end. We suggest making a win wager on Time Test at 8/5 odds, along with an exacta key over Sassy Little Lila, Disco Partner, and Ballagh Rocks (10-1).

The FourStarDave Handicap (G1) is race 10 at Saratoga on Saturday, Aug. 12 with an estimated post time of 6:28 ET as Race No. 10 on the Inner Turf.

Kenny Schmitt contributed to this article. Follow him on Twitter @FBWinners.

2017 Pacific Classic Arrogate Songbird

Arrogate Prepares For 2017 Pacific Classic

The combination of Arrogate’s brutal fourt place finish in the San Diego Handicap, along with Gun Runner’s recent win in The Whitney, has many people wondering just who the best racehorse in the country actually is. It’s a typical debate between talent and production. To regain his footing in the discussion, Arrogate needs a top performance in the 2017 Pacific Classic.

Arrogate went back to work with his typical team in order to prepare for a race that should boast a very competitive field. Official splits for his recent drills included fractions of :25 1/5, :37 1/5, :48 2/5, 1:00 3/5, and 1:12 3/5. He was timed on the gallop out in 1:38 1/5. Everything seems to be pointed in the right direction.

“It was a serious work,” commented trainer Bob Baffert. “He didn’t need much encouragement. He’s showing no signs . He’s moving forward. I’ve seen a big difference in him since that last race. He’s back to his old self again.” This is good news for the horse that will undoubtedly enter the 2017 Pacific Classic as the favorite.

Jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Arrogate for the brunt of his competitive career, also said that Arrogate, “Looked good. He galloped out strong.”

The field for the 2017 Pacific Classic is expected to include Accelerate, who handed Arrogate his first defeat in the 2017 San Diego Handicap. Collected and Curlin Road are also expected to fill the gates.

But the most anticipated rival to Arrogate will be Songbird, who has picked up two wins this year in the 2017 Ogden Phipps and the 2017 Delaware Handicap. This would be the second time in two years that the Pacific Classic featured a battle between the top male and female dirt runners in the world. Last year, California Chrome made short work of Beholder.

A month ago, this wouldn’t have even been up for debate. Songbird is an astounding talent, but Arrogate feels like he comes from another planet. However, there is a dent in that undefeated armor now and Arrogate’s strongest rivals will feel like there’s a chance to overtake the 2016 Horse of the Year. To be fair, Songbird didn’t look untoucachable in the Delaware as she barely outlasted Martini Glass for the win.

The 2017 Pacific Classic will run on Saturday, August 19th out of Del Mar Racetrack, the same venue as the 2017 Breeders’ Cup. We’ll have more coverage in the next two weeks on the big race.

Race Preview: National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame

National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Race is Competitive Feature Friday at Saratoga

The Racing Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced Friday morning, and then state-bred fillies and mares will break from the gate in Race 1 at 1:00 pm ET to start the weekend of racing at Saratoga. Javier Castellano, who has won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey each of the past four years, will be inducted into the National Museum Racing Hall of Fame. He’ll then ride one of the race favorites in Race 1 on the turf, Corey Q (5-2), for trainer Chad Brown. The featured race of the day will be at 5:40 ET when 10 three-year-olds break from the gate for the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2). The 1 1/16 mile turf test will have Castellano riding one of the favorites again aboard Big Handsome (3-1) for trainer Tony Dutrow.

The four top favorites in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes will break from the four inside posts. That includes Yoshida (JPN) at 7-2. The Japan-foiled colt trained by Bill Mott liked the soft turf at Pimlico in May to win his stakes debut from the back of the pack, but busted his backers as the favorite last time out in his graded stakes debut, finishing 5th in the Belmont Derby Invitational. Favorite Caviar Czar (IRE), by Medaglia d’Oro, is 2-1 odds breaking from the 3-hole for trainer Todd Pletcher. He broke his maiden at Churchill and then finished 2nd last out in allowance company on the dirt. Beatable favorite here. Bricks and Mortar (5-2) is on the rail for trainer Chad Brown, and jockey Joel Rosario. The dark bay by Giant’s Causeway is a perfect 3-for-3 following his Manilla Stakes win on the 4th of July. Rosario rallied him from the back of the pack at the three quarter pole and to soar to the front in the shadow of the finish line by a neck over Big Handsome (3-1). The Street Boss colt Big Handsome likes to stalk and stride home and he’ll get plenty of wagering interest with HOFer Castellano aboard.

Snap Decision (5-1) is a Hard Spun colt who won in allowance company last time out for trainer Shug McGaughey. He’s been in the money his last six races including his lone stakes try when 3rd in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) in March. Secretary at War (8-1) will be running on the lead and has value with John Velazquez riding after finishing a very close 3rd in the Manilla behind Bricks and Mortar and Big Handsome.  Arklow (10-1 breaks from the outside and he too was a huge disappointment as the second choice in the Belmont Derby where he tired badly in the stretch and finished last of 11. If he runs back to his previous two races at similar distances, then he’ll contend. Jockey Felix Geroux rides for trainer Brad Cox at a healthy price.

Long shots Parlor (15-1), another Giant’s Causeway colt Makarios (20-1) trained by Nick Zito and Bonus Points, Pletcher’s other runner, round out the field.

A well-matched and difficult-to-handicap race with Castellano another Hall of Famer on the list. Afternoon thunderstorms (40%) are in the forecast for Saratoga Springs, NY, so confirm the race will stay on the turf.

Getting Set for the Saratoga Summer Stakes Races

Saratoga Summer Meet Features 35 Graded Stakes Including 16 Grade 1’s

The best racing of the summer season starts this week with Del Mar out West in California and the Saratoga Summer Meet in Saratoga Springs, NY. Racing fans and horsemen look forward to these meets, which draw the best racing, and betting, in the world. The 40-day Saratoga Summer Meet starts Friday, July 21 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 4.

During the 2017 Summer Meet, Saratoga hosts 35 graded stakes races, including 16 Grade I races – 13 on the dirt track and 3 on turf. A total of 69 stakes worth $18.775 million in purses are set for this summer at Saratoga, the oldest track in the U.S. and voted one of the top-10 sports venues of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated, .

The two richest races at the carnival is the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 26, and the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes, the first ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge race of the Saratoga meet. The Travers is the traditional midsummer highlight for 3-year-olds, and the world’s best race horse, Arrogate, announced his arrival with a record-breaking performance in the 2016 Travers Stakes.

Travers day is August 26, and the biggest day of racing at Saratoga with six Grade I races including four ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. They include:

  • $700,000 Personal Ensign – (BC Distaff)
  • $500,000 Ballerina – (BC Filly & Mare Sprint)
  • $600,000 Forego – (BC Dirt Mile)
  • $1 Million Sword Dancer – (BC Turf)

Five graded stakes headline opening weekend at Saratoga, and the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) for top 3-year-olds follows next Saturday, July 29.

The Saratoga Race Course Guide provides all the information you need, whether you are a first-time track goer looking for the basics, or a life-long veteran looking for what’s new this year. The biggest and richest races of the summer at Saratoga are listed below. Let the races begin!

Sat., July 22 – Diana (G1), 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares on the turf – $500,000
Sat., July 29 – Jim Dandy (G2), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds – $600,000                                                                                                                                                     Sat., July 29 – Vanderbilt (G1) 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds & up – $350,000
Sat., Aug. 5 – The Longines Test (G1), 7 furlongs for 3-year-old fillies – $500,000
Sat., Aug. 5 – The Whitney (G1), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds & up – $1,200,000
Sat., Aug. 12 – Fourstardave Handicap (G1), 1 mile on the turf for 3-year-olds & up – $500,000
Sat, Aug. 19 – Alabama (G1), 1 ¼ mile for 3-year-old fillies – $600,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Forego (G1), 7 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up – $600,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), 7 furlongs for 3-year-olds – $500,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Ketel One Ballerina (G1), 7 furlongs for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & up – $500,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Personal Ensign (G1), 1 1/8 miles for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & up – $700,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Sword Dance (G1), 1 ½ miles on turf for 3-year-olds & up – $1,000,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Travers (G1), 1 ¼ miles for 3-year-olds – $1,250,000
Sat., Sept. 2 – Woodward (G1), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds & up – $750,000                                                                                                                                         Sat., Sept 2 – Spinaway (G1), 7 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies – $350,000
Mon., Sept. 4 – Hopeful (G1), 7 furlongs for 2-year-olds – $350,000

Handicapping the Indiana Derby

Indiana Derby Favorite Irap May Not be so Handsome

The $500,000 Indiana Derby is set for Saturday, and it’s time to pick a winner. The Derby is race 9 and the last of six stakes on a strong 10-race program that includes the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) in race 8. While the American Graded Stakes Committee dropped both the Derby and Oaks to Grade 3’s this year, they still drew solid fields of 11 and 8 horses respectively.

Trainer Doug O’Neill saddles the favorite in both races for 3-year-olds with Mopotism (7-5) breaking from the outside post in the Oaks and Irap (8-5) drawing the No. 2 post in the Derby. O’Neill also trains the favorite in the Warrior Veterans Stakes, Gangster (5-2). O’Neill’s go to jockey Mario Gutierrez will ride all three favorites.

Have Fun betting Indiana Derby and All Stakes Pick Four

No Derby runners have more than two wins in their careers, but Irap is the lone millionaire having broke through for his maiden win in the Blue Grass Stakes to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, where he finished up the track in 18th place. But a victory in the Ohio Derby in late June when he finished well clear of Steve Asmussen-trained Untrapped (6-1) should have the Tiznow colt drawing plenty action as the favorite. Irap is the proven horse and best horse in the field, but will offer little value when wagering.

Awesome Saturday (8-1) is an up and comer for trainer Bret Calhoun who tries stakes company for the first time. He’s raced five times, all this year, and finished in the money each time with a pair of wins. His last race in June was an impressive 3-length win at this distance over Watch Me Whip (10-1), who drew the outside post for trainer Dale Romans. Brian Hernandez, Jr. has ridden Awesome Saturday in all his starts, and figures to be cashing in again Saturday night with a breakthrough win pushing the pace not too far-fetched.

Untrapped was 3rd behind Irap in the Ohio Derby, and while the cutback in distance may help him, the others mentioned including Hollywood Handsome (8-1) seem to be better shots. Hollywood Handsome fired a 5 furlong bullet work of 23 at the distance on July 3 and then breezed easy again for trainer Dallas Stewart on July 9 at Churchill. He should rebound well off his DNF performance in the Belmont when Florent Geroux was removed from the irons and did not finish. He was 4th in the Louisiana Derby in April, but the impressive performance was his allowance win when he won at this distance on the front end with a fast pace. Must include if you’re looking for a long shot winner and a score in your horizontal wagers.

The Derby is the cashing leg in an all-stakes pick four, and post time Saturday night is 9:49 ET.

2017 Delaware Handicap preview

Songbird Preps for 2017 Delaware Handicap

The 2017 Delaware Handicap isn’t pretending to be much of a competition. After all, Songbird is coming in a heavy 1/5 favorite so the oddsmakers and handicappers are calling this is a done deal. Such is life when a competitor is as proven as Songbird, who remains 12-1-0 in 13 starts.

Most of us won’t be interested in what Songbird does until she goes toe-to-toe with the best female runners in the world in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she placed second to Beholder by a nose in arguably the most exhilarating finish from last season. She has since rebounded by decimating a field at the 2017 Ogden Phipps that included noted challengers like Paid Up Subscriber.

The Fox Hill Farms superstar won’t face a significantly threatening batch of rivals in the 2017 Delaware Handicap either. Weep No More is a distant second choice at 6/1, considering that Songbird is 1/5, and is coming off a harrowing sixth place finish in the Fleur de Lis Stakes. It’s not far off her regular results. Weep No More also finished fifth in the Matron Stakes.

There’s potential for a big upset, and if you’re looking for that play than look no further than Martini Stakes. Obviously this is a stretch. Songbird is a no-brainer, but Martini Stakes is coming off a second place finish int he Obeah Stakes and is a home grown product with experience on this track. The only time Songbird has ventured away from California to compete is when she crushed the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Miss Mo Kelly, Line Of Best Fit and Home In round out the 2017 Delaware Handicap as longshots.

This one’s a wrap, folks. But are you really going to miss a chance to see the best female racehorse in the world? I didn’t think so. Anytime you get to see Songbird, it’s a damn treat.

2017 Delaware Handicap – Saturday, July 15th at Delaware Park
1 1/4 Miles – 3+ Year Old Fillies – $750,000

PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY Wg OD
1 Miss Mo Kelly Kellyn Gorder Carol Cedeno 111 15-1
2 Martini Glass Keith Nations Jose Ferrer 115 8-1
3 Weep No More George Arnold II Joel Rosario 111 6-1
4 Line of Best Fit Keiron Magee TBA 112 12-1
5 Songbird Jerry Hollendorfer Mike Smith 124 1/5
6 Hone In Victoria Oliver Tyler Gaffalione 111 15-1

Ohio Derby Preview

Girvin is Favorite in Field of 9 for $500,000 Ohio Derby

Saturday’s Grade 3 Ohio Derby is the richest race in the U.S. over the weekend just outside Cleveland. Nine 3-year-olds are ready to run 9 furlongs over the main track at JACK Thisledown, and the $500,000 purse ensures a big payday.

Girvin winning Louisiana Derby

Girvin is the 2-1 favorite and the multiple graded stakes winner had his biggest score when winning the $1 million Louisiana Derby in April.  He followed with a 13th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, as he wasn’t fully healthy with a hoof crack and also had a troubled trip under Mike Smith that included being sharply steadied along the far turn. Smith rides Girvin for the second time, and the Joe Sharp-trained colt has 3 wins and a second in five starts, and he worked a 5 furlong bullet in 1:00.00 at Churchill Downs June 17.

Irap (3-1) is the Tiznow colt who surprised everyone winning the Blue Grass Stakes at 31-1 odds. He beat four Derby runners that day at Keeneland on a deep track, and then was another big long shot who suffered a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby. Irap is expected to be near the leaders breaking from the rail with Julien Leparoux looking for a similar Blue Grass trip.

Untrapped (9-2) has just one win in seven starts and was 2nd behind Girvin in the Risen Star (G3) in February at identical 8-1 odds. He finished just in front of Girvin in the Kentucky Derby after a 6th place finish in the Arkansas Derby when Smith rode him. Ricardo Santana, Jr. was up in the Risen Star and Derby, and takes over again here for trainer Steve Asmussen. A stalking trip near mid pack hoping for plenty of speed up front and a late burst.

Fast and Accurate (8-1) is the fourth and final Kentucky Derby runner in this field who faded badly to finish 18th in Louisville. He’s expected to set the pace in Ohio like he did in his recent start May 27 in the Arlington Classic (G3) on the turf. He folded up in the stretch to finish 4th, and Mike Maker’s colt will have a tough time holding off stronger runners at 9 furlongs.

Sorry Erik (6-1) is trained and ridden by the Desormeaux brothers and is 2-0for-5 this year with a 5th in the Louisiana Derby and 7th in the Risen Star, both as a huge long shot. He needs a very fast pace to run into, which he got in his recent allowance race at Santa Anita when he rallied from last to finish second.

Game Over (12-1), Talk Less (12-1), Vibe (12-1) and Hinton (20-1), who is 3-for-4 and moves up sharply in class, complete the field as longer shots.

The Ohio Derby is Race 8 on Saturday, June 24 with post time for the 1 1/8 mile race at 5:30 ET.

 

2017 New York Stakes Preview

The 2017 New York Stakes (G2) is scheduled to run today at 5:14 PM local time at Belmont Park. The $500,000 race will feature two last-out winners in Sea Calisi and Hawksmoor.

Sea Calisi is coming off a win in the May 6 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2T) on the very same track the New York Stakes will be run on. She won that race by 2 1/2 lengths over Suffused, who will also run in the New York Stakes.

In her last race, Hawksmoor took home the Beaugay Stakes (G3T), also run at Belmont, on May 13. The New York Stakes will be her fourth race on U.S. soil.

“They’re both training really well and they’re coming into the race the right way,” said Brown of Sea Calisi and his other filly in the race, Dacita. “They have similar running styles but they complement each other in terms of ground preference. Dacita prefers it firm but can handle soft if she has to; Sea Calisi can run on firm but she prefers some give in the ground.”

In four starts at Belmont Park, Sea Calisi has a record of 2-1-1. Hawksmoor is a grade two winner in Europe. Another filly to keep tabs on who could surprise is Sassy Little Lila. She has finished worse than second only once in seven career starts and was the runner-up in the American Oaks (G1).

Below is the full post position starting gate draw for the New York Stakes:

  1. Quidra
  2. Suffused
  3. Apple Betty
  4. Kitten’s Roar
  5. Hawksmoor
  6. Sea Calisi
  7. Summersault
  8. Dacita
  9. Sassy Little Lila

Penn Mile Preview

Competitive Field of 10 Set for $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes

One of the biggest races of the weekend to break from the gate June 3rd is the $500,000 Penn Mile. The 5th running of the Grade II race is on the turf at Penn National Race Course with 10 fairly accomplished 3-year-olds lined up in a very competitively priced race. Eight of the runners were stakes-placed in their most recent race, and three trainer’s saddle of pair of horses – Mike Maker, Todd Pletcher and George Weaver.

The favorite Big Score (5-2) and Cistron (6-1) ship in from Southern California to challenge Frostmourne (3-1), who breaks from the outside. Frostmourne had a pair of wins last year and was runner-up in his 3-year-old debut in the Woodhaven Stakes following a lengthy layoff. He posted his best Equibase Speed Figure (ESF) of 102 in that race. Big Score also had his best ESF (108) in his last race, a 3rd place finish in the American Turf Stakes. He won the Transylvania Stakes (G3) in April at Keeneland with a 107 ESF and is the only horse in the field with a graded-stakes win. Multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano rides him for the third-straight time. Castellano has owned Penn National, winning 9 of 17 stakes races at the track.

Time To Travel (8-1) makes his turf debut but is expected to make a good move on the surface. He posted a 102 ESF in an April sprint and finished 2nd in the Sir Barton Stakes in his most recent race.

Bronson (4-1) and Bonus Points (8-1) are the pair for Pletcher, and Bronson won the English Channel last month while Bonus Points captured the Parx Derby on the main track. Mo Maverick (8-1) is expected to push the pace, while Prize Fight (8-1) and Shiraz (8-1).  Holiday Stone (12-1) is the long shot in the field, but he was a close 2nd to Big Score in the Transylvania and posted a strong 106 EFS.

The field and post position with best Equibase Speed Figure in parentheses.

  1. Shiraz (94)
  2. Bonus Points (90)
  3. Prize Fight (89)
  4. Bronson (99)
  5. Time To Travel (102)
  6. Cistron (100)
  7. Mo Maverick (99)
  8. Holiday Stone (106)
  9. Big Score (108)
  10. Frostmourne (102)

The Penn Mile is Race 9 on Saturday, June 3 and is preceded by the $200,000 Mountain View Stakes (1 1/8 miles), $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup (5 furlongs turf), $200,000 Penn Oaks (1 mile turf), $100,000 Danzig Stakes (6 furlongs), $100,000 Lyphard Stakes (1 1/16 miles turf) and $100,000 New Start Stakes (6 furlongs).

Preakness Meet at Pimlico Ends Memorial Day

Mandatory Payouts at Pimlico on Memorial Day

Memorial Day concludes Pimlico’s short 12-day meet, and the race course will offer mandatory payouts in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Late Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi-5 wagers on closing day of the Preakness Meet Monday May 29. Pimlico set attendance and handle records for the Preakness Stakes when over 140,000 fans watched 13-1 shot Cloud Computing chase down Classic Empire  in the deep stretch to win the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes. Those fans wagered over $97,000,000 on on Pimlico’s 14-day race program on Preakness Stakes day.

The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 60 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool. However, on days when a mandatory payout is scheduled the entire pool is shared by those holding tickets with the most winners.

Last Thursday, one lucky bettor hit a life-changing 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot of $185,957.24 from a $420 investment purchased through the Xpressbet wagering platform’s Oregon hub.

Also on Preakness weekend, Hall of Fame horseman Steve Asmussen earned a $50,000 bonus from a total pool of $100,000 offered to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in the 15 stakes races over Preakness weekend. Asmussen totaled 38 points while trainer Mark Casse finished 2nd with 33 points to earn $25,000. Points were accumulated for finishing first (10 points), second (seven), third, (five), fourth (three) and having a starter (one) in the selected stakes races.

Maryland racing shifts to Laurel Park for the summer meet beginning Friday, June 9 and continuing through Sunday, Aug. 20.