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.

2017 Jim Dandy

Champs Stunned in 2017 Jim Dandy

The 2017 Jim Dandy was sold to fans as a showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. For the first part of the exciting race, that’s how the whole thing played out with those two champions taking the field out early. What unfolded at Saratoga was completely unexpected.

Always Dreaming went out as the even money favorite and held the early lead, hitting and early quarter-mile fraction of :24.13. Cloud Computing was right on his tail in both the early stages of the 2017 Jim Dandy and the betting board as the 6/5 second choice. Right behind those two was Pavel, an 8/1 outside shot, and Giuseppe The Great who was a distant 14/1 on the board. Way in the back was Good Samaritan, another contender with an 8/1 mark, who seemed to be way outclassed early on.

Suddenly, as they rounded the final corner, the whole field bunched together and Good Samaritan hit a gear nobody knew he had to stream around the outside. The performance seemed to shrink Cloud Computing and Always Dreaming, who fell back right next to Pavel and Giuseppe The Great as the final four ended in a bunch. Good Samaritan won handedly in an absolute shocker.

The 2017 Jim Dandy Stakes was the first appearence on dirt for Good Samaritan, who had previously been tested as a turf runner with unfavorably inconsistent results. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he ran,” said trainer Bill Mott. “It was a terrific race for him. The pace was a little bit slower than I thought it would be. I was a little concerned when they were going down the middle of the backside and they hung up the slow fractions. I was a little concerned about that. They did start to pick it up leaving the half-mile pole. He ran into a very slow pace and ran well.”

This victory has now thrust Good Samaritan in to the thick of a very competitive three-year-old class that now includes 2017 Haskell winner Girvin, the three Triple Crown victors and a host of other colts entering the fray on route to the world championships. What Good Samaritan does with this new found momentum will be noted – hopefully – in the upcoming Travers Stakes which will have a stacked field.


2017 Diana Stakes results

Lady Eli Scores in 2017 Diana Stakes

The 2017 Diana Stakes was never going to be a surefire play on Lady Eli. Antonoe and a slew of other stiff competitors were trying to upset the would-be champion, and the field pushed the eventual winner to her absolute limits. It was an absolute scorcher of a race which not only proved Lady Eli’s quality, but also legitimized two other turf females in the process.

Quidura led through much of the race as a 7/1 outside shot with 7/2 Dickinson stalking right behind. My Impression also tested the top ranks, sitting in third with heavily touted Antonoe sitting in fourth at 5/2. The lead pack hit fractions of :23.59, :47.51 and 1:11.46. Lady Eli was right behind as the 4/5 favorite…and wouldn’t dissapoint.

Stampeding around the outside to match the frenzied pace set by Quidura, Lady Eli broke around the edge and tried to pull away. Surprisingly, Quidura wasn’t having it, and matched the favorite stride for stride down a hellacious stretch. Antonoe attempted to break through on the rail but jockey Javier Castellano seemed to let up on the reigns as they approached the wire, knowing he didn’t have the room or the pace to win out. Lady Eli would stretch out to barely win as Quidura came in second.

Trainer Chad Brown was obviously elated that she not only rose to the challenge, but overcame the downright gritty efforts of Quidura. “Today was one of her greatest races to date. Maybe her best,” Brown told the media. “Giving eight pounds to the horse she ran down late in the stretch after breaking through the gate, going a little wide. She just overcame everything. Today she proved she’s one of the all-time greats. It was her determination. Proud she didn’t hang there in the end. She’s always drove past another horse, as long as she can see them.”

The news on Antonoe, a hopeful breakout star in the 2017 Diana Stakes, didn’t seem optimistic and even Brown said that seeing a competior let up is, “Never a good sign”. Recent news has confirmed that Antonoe was played safe by Castellano which will end up being a smart decision. It’s obvious she has the speed to compete. Whether she has the will remains to be seen.

With the 2017 Diana Stakes win, Lady Eli paid out $3.90, $2.70, and $2.10. Quidura was worth $5.10 and $3.10 and5-2 Antonoe brought $2.60.

This win is what Lady Eli needed after losing to Queens Trust in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. It’s a reminder that she is not in a league of her own. Quidura will most definitely have the attention of both the oddsmakers and horse players, while Antonoe will certainly be a keen horse to watch given her curious finish in the 2017 Diana Stakes. The top flight competition Europe will be bound for Del Mar and the world championships, but runs like these will have the American turf fillies (and mares) poised to make it a serious competition

2017 Indiana Derby results

Irap Crushes 2017 Indiana Derby

Going off as a 7/5 favorite in the 2017 Indiana Derby, Irap had a lot to prove. He had cruised to a win in the Ohio Derby just a month ago, but the stink of his 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby was still fresh in people’s minds. There was simply a lot of ground to recover before cappers and players were firmly behind him once again.

Consider the mission accomplished…for now.

Wild Shot took the field out as the pace setter with opening half-mile fractions of :23.71 and :47.71 but dropped well out of the lead as the pack hit the home stretch. Jockey Mario Gutierrez made a definitive pass at that point and Irap did the rest, dusting the remainder of the field to a closing time of 1:42.21 over the 1 1/8th mile distance.

With a 2017 Indiana Derby win, trainer Doug O’Neill answered positively as to whether or not you have to consider the colt a contender. “I think you have to,” O’Neill replied. “He’s getting better with each race. We’ve learned so much from him. We just couldn’t be more happy than we are now. And Mario rode just a perfect race. We’re just very, very happy.”

Gutierrez shared that same feeling by addressing Irap’s development since a rough run in the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown. “He’s definitely grown up since then,” Gutierrez noted. “He was very unlucky in that race and he was a bit immature back then. He has matured a lot and he showed that today.”

Irap delivered$4.80, $3.20 and $2.60 with the 2017 Indiana Derby win while Coloneldarktemper was worth $9.60 and $5.80 in second. Untrapped finished third for the second time to Irap and was worth $2.80.

The next destination for Irap would logically be the Travers Stakes where he’s expected to run up against the top three-year-old colts in the country. With the 2017 Indiana Derby and 2017 Ohio Derby providing some much needed momentum, Irap could certainly add to the $1.3 million he’s already earned while improving his prestige wildly.

2017 king edward results

Go Bro Upsets 2017 King Edward at 44/1

All of the major action was at Woodbine Racetrack over this past weekend. While Holy Helena dusted the boys in the marquee event known as the Queen’s Plate with odds, and Green Mask made short work of his rivals in the Highlander Stakes as the odds on preference, Go Bro wasn’t going to let all the favorites have the fun. The six-year-old stunned the 2017 King Edward field as a 44/1 longshot.

To be clear, Go Bro was never a consideration for handicappers and that’s largely because he almost never runs in stakes races. So when we say “upset” we damn well mean it. Nobody saw this coming.

“He broke sharp and I knew we were going slow, so I let him be there. It set up very good,” jockey Jesse Campbell said before echoing a strange sentiment about the race. “I say it all time—I’d rather be lucky than good. The race went our way and the horse showed up.”

The stunner was the first graded stakes victory for trainer Michael Keogh, who was last in the winner’s circle with Last Answer in the 2007 Nijinsky Stakes. It may have taken a decade to get back, but the 2017 King Edward stakes victory has to be just as sweet.

With the 2017 King Edward Stakes victory, Go Bro delivered a monsterous $91.30, $34.20, and $10.20 across the board. Hootenanny paid $8.20 and $4.70, and Tower of Texas was just $2.50 to show. Tower of Texas has to be the most disappointed after entering as the favorite.

It’s been a very modest career for Go Bro, who now holds a record of 4-6-3 over 20 starts and just $338,786 in career earnings. The 2017 King Edward Stakes win will likely end up being his career highlight, but it’ll be hard to ignore this tempting longshot when you see him on the board next. I’d rather bet on talent than luck, but if Jesse Campbell is back in the saddle then I might have to rethink my strategy.

2017 Ohio Derby results

Irap Victorious in 2017 Ohio Derby

Trainer Doug O’Neill’s Irap is back in the winner’s circle after a victory in the 2017 Ohio Derby. The three-year-old colt was last seen finishing a disappointing 18th in the Kentucky Derby but was able to best Girvin down the stretch this past weekend. The winning time was 1:50.48 over 1 1/8th miles.

Girvin was the heavy 4/5 favorite, but I had advised last week that his odds weren’t exactly trustworthy. The oddsmakers and handicappers alike had always overvalued the colt in my eyes. That didn’t stop Girvin from putting on a good show regardless.

Fast and Accurate took the team out as an 18/1 pace setter, but fell off immediately at the top of the stretch with Girvin stalking behind. Hinton and Vibe were a part of the front pack for the early stages but faded off equally as well. Game Over went with Girvin initially, but was left in the dust as the latter tore down the stretch with his trademark kick. He looked like the 2017 Ohio Derby winner up until the last portion of the stretch.

That’s when Irap made his move, bursting on the outside of Game Over and catching up with Girvin to provide an absolutely thrilling finish at the wire. It was completely indistinguishable to the naked eye, but video replay proved that Irap got the edge and won the 2017 Ohio Derby in the process.

Florent Leparoux was aboard Irap, and spoke about edging out the legendary Mike Smith who was riding Girvin. “He broke good and we had good position,” said Leparoux. “I was a little farther back in the first turn but I was right behind Mike Smith, and I knew that was the right horse to follow. He’s the kind of horse you have to ask pretty early, because he has that long, long stride, so I was able to get him going early and got there on time. I didn’t know that I’d won, it was so close.”

It was the rebound performance that O’Neill was looking for out of Irap and other supporters of him at the 2017 Ohio Derby window were fairly rewarded. Irap paid $7.60, $3, and $2.40 across the board

2017 Queen Anne Stakes Ribchester

Ribchester Dominant in 2017 Queen Anne

The 2017 Queen Anne Stakes kicked off a busy first day of action at the Royal Ascot Meet and saw 16 hopefuls take to the gates. But it was 4/5 favorite Ribchester who was unrelenting in his pursuit of victory in the Group 1 race. Godolphin Racing expects nothing but the best out of their elite talent, and that’s exactly what they got on this day.

The oddsmakers had designed the lines to be top heavy with Ribchester going off as a strong preference followed by 5/1 second choice Lightning Spear. However, Lightning Spear was poor in this effort and finished 9th overall. He gave way to Mutkayyef, who finished 2nd at 6/1, and 12/1 outside shot Deauville who is trained by Aiden O’Brien.

Jockey William Buick was aboard for the win and couldn’t say enough about how powerful Ribchester was over the one-mile turf challenge. “You’ve got to hand it to the horse, he’s an absolute jockey’s dream,” Buick stated. “It doesn’t get much better than this. This is the biggest week for our sport and to wear the royal blue here. We’re all working towards one goal. We’re all working to get to the winner’s enclosure. That’s what Sheikh Mohammed deserves.”

Trainer Richard Fahey also beamed at the four-year-old colt’s potential, saying that he has much more left to offer. “Look Ribchester is just an exceptional horse,” Fahey exclaimed. “He has to be the best horse I have ever trained,” winning trainer Richard Fahey said. He broke the track record here today and that’s not being disrespectful to the others, but he is just exceptional.

Fahey went on to say that the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes was just the beginning, and after conferring with his jockey, he knows where the end game for the season is. “William doesn’t feel that the tank is empty with him and that he is getting stronger the whole time. The Sussex Stakes is where he has to go really. I was always hoping that he would stay further but at the moment, I don’t need to go further.”

With the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes victory, Ribchester is now 5-3-3 in 12 starts and has posted back-to-back wins in Group 1 races.

Record Day at Preakness Stakes

Pimlico Sets Attendance and Handle Records for Preakness Stakes

Cloud Computing closed in the deep stretch to win the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on a record day at Pimlico Race Course. And a track-record 140,327 witness the exciting finish. The Maryland Jockey Club announced that Saturday’s Preakness Stakes card broke all handle and attendance records at Pimlico.

Cloud Computing edges Classic Empire in 142nd Preakness Stakes

Total handle on Pimlico’s 14-race program was $97,168,658, an increase of three percent over the previous record of $94,127,434 and a 14-percent increase over 2015 wagering. The attendance of 140,327 broke last year’s record of 135,256.

The Maryland Jockey Club also announced that in-state handle was up 7.1 percent from last year and 10.4 percent from 2015.

“From morning into evening, we witnessed an incredible day of world-class racing and eclectic entertainment,” said Sal Sinatra, President of the Maryland Jockey Club. “The sport of Thoroughbred racing is being rejuvenated and reimagined by the Stronach family. Their commitment to this sport is remarkable and unparalleled. Their vision is being embraced by horsemen and fans around the country.”

Betting on the Preakness this year was $60.2 million when counting all wagers that ended in the race, down 1.7 percent from the record of $61.3 million set last year. This year’s Preakness had 10 horses, while last year’s race had 11 horses.

Overnight television ratings for the race portion of the Preakness broadcast on NBC peaked at 6.2 with a 14 share, identical to the overnight figures for the race portion of the broadcast last year. NBC said the broadcast was the highest-rated sports broadcast of the weekend.

Sinatra added. “We want to thank the fans who came to Pimlico Saturday as well as the horsemen who supported our program this weekend. And, of course, the incredible equine athletes for their spirit and beauty.”

Weber City Miss Favorite Jenda’s Agenda Scratched Pre-Race; Lights of Medina Wins

Heading into April 22nd’s Weber City Miss, all eyes were on Jenda’s Agenda. She was the odds-on favorite going into the 1 1/16-mile race for three-year-old fillies that was tapped as a “Win and You’re In” event for the May 19 $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2).

Unfortunately for Jenda’s Agenda, the Laurel Park track veterinarian surprisingly scratched her pre-race because she wasn’t pleased with how she jogged getting off the van from her trip to the track from Delaware Park. Rain turned the track into a wet and sloppy one, and trainer Larry Jones considered the scratch a blessing in disguise not having to run in such horrible weather racing conditions.

Jenda’s Agenda was undefeated in her previous three career starts, a record made even more impressive when she didn’t train all that much for the Caesar’s Wish thanks to cold temperatures.

“She ran very, very well,” said Jones referring to the Caesar’s Wish performance. “The thing about that race, I was just awful proud of surviving it. We had shipped her out of New Orleans and that filly had only been able to go to the track one day out of 12. She had been hung in the barn just having to (walk the) shed row for that, so I was just awful proud to get out of that race in one piece and with a victory.”

Lights of Medina became the new odds-on favorite following Jenda Agenda’s scratch and she would win the Weber City Miss in a time of 1:45.22. Forever Liesl finished second and Frank’s Folly was third.

Arrogate 2017 Dubai World Cup

Arrogate Wins 2017 Dubai World Cup

The 2017 Dubai World Cup was supposed to be easy going for the gambler. At 2/5, with nobody coming even close on the board, Arrogate was the runaway top choice off the morning line. Gun Runner and Mubtaahj were each 8/1 as second choices, with Hoppertunity valued at nearly double with 15/1 odds of his own. Everyone else was shelled with longshot marks. Essentially, this was a layup.

In fact, this challenge was anything but.

Arrogate broke dead last from the gate after a horrific start. Mike Smith later admitted that he totally missed the bell, and as everyone watched on, Arrogate was playing catch up behind the 14-horse field. The start was so poor that even Bob Baffert had to be holding his breath. “I was thinking, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have brought him. Maybe he’s getting tired,'” the trainer later recounted.

Then something truly remarkable began to unfold. Arrogate began to devour the track, but did it was such grace and confidence that it didn’t even seem real. As the race marched on, so did Arrogate. By the top of the stretch he still had work to do, as Gun Runner had battled all the way with Neolithic for the lead. That’s when Arrogate unleashed his trademark speed in the 2017 Dubai World Cup to take the win. And he made it look so easy.

It’s hard to put what Arrogate has done in the past year in to perspective. The win at the $10 million 2017 Dubai World Cup has now launched him to the top of the historical standings with $17,084,600 in winnings. He has won so many marquee races but the fact that the Triple Crown is not part of it detracts from his standing to mainstream fans. It’s much easier to sell American Pharoah as the “greatest in the modern era” but Arrogate is posting a tremendously difficult case. Should he win the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic as the defending champion, that debate will rage on for the rest of time.

As will Arrogate’s performance in the 2017 Dubai World Cup. Click below to witness it for yourself.