Corey Lanerie

Corey Lanerie Gets Another Shot At Mo Tom

It’s been a strange and wild ride for jockey Corey Lanerie and Mo Tom. The pair is just six weeks removed from an errant run at the Louisiana Derby that almost cost the rider his relationship with the Kentucky Derby contender. Even trainer Tom Amoss was pretty quick to throw Lanerie under the proverbial hooves after a disappointing fourth place finish at Fair Grounds’ biggest race.

Expectations for Mo Tom have been fairly high during the prep for the Triple Crown series. He was supposed to win both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby, but had almost identical problems in both races as he was forced in to hard checks down the homestretch. Trainer Tom Amoss was not shy about criticizing his jockey’s course of action in either race either.

“I don’t understand the ride Corey, to be quite frank with you,” Amoss said at the end of the Louisiana Derby. “I was not at my professional best with Corey afterward and I apologize for that. It’s all the work we put into the horse. To watch that unfold is, the only thing I can compare it to is being present to watch your son get beat up on the playground. It’s hard to watch.” Amoss went as far as to say that, “I just hope he didn’t hurt my hors,” after seeing Corey Lanerie ride him to the rail.

To his credit, Lanerie admitted fault after a crushing Louisiana Derby race. “He’s a great horse,” Lanerie said of Mo Tom. “I got him in a ton of trouble. I had more horse than I knew what to do with. It was a bad ride and totally my fault.” Lanerie even expressed that he’d be surprised if Amoss let him ride Mo Tom again.

Eventually, Amoss came around. Time heals all wounds but it also has a way of reminding handlers that they can’t change things up on their horses too much before a big race. “Corey knows this track better than anybody and he knows my horse better than anybody,” Amoss expressed after announcing that the jockey would return in Mo Tom’s saddle for the Kentucky Derby. “We feel blessed to have him.”

Corey Lanerie is one of the winningest riders at Churchill Downs and that likely played a big factor. But it also goes a long way in reminding us that Amoss trusts Lanerie with his horse once more and that words spoken in the heat of the action can often be sensationalized.

“He gets along with him great and also knows his nuances,” Amoss continued on the relationship that Corey Lanerie has with Mo Tom. “That may sound like a contradiction, but he does. The thing about Mo Tom is that he has this switch; he turns it off out of the gate and relaxes, but when you turn that switch on, he goes in a hurry. I think it has surprised a lot of people. With Corey on him, he knows that when he turns that switch on, it’s go time.

“Corey also knows how long he can carry that kick, and it’s more than the average horse. Those aren’t things you can describe to a rider who has never ridden him in a race. We feel lucky to have him.”

There is no mistaking that Mo Tom is a lot of horse to handle. Even with just two low-grade stakes victories on his resume, horse men know that Mo Tom had the muscle and desire to make dazzling home stretch runs at both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby. Hopefully this time, Corey Lanerie can find the right line for Mo Tom to prove just how great he actually is.

Talk about a redemption story.

Kentucky Derby Closers To Watch

Closers to Watch for Preakness Potential

While the Kentucky Derby is a most coveted race, racing fans and bettors may learn something more by watching the May 7 Derby in advance of the May 21 Preakness Stakes.

Some of the horses in the Derby will make their way to Pimlico two weeks later, and there will be value to be found in some of the closers that may not fire as expected or get caught in traffic in the large 20 horse field.

Here are some thoughts on the horses that are ‘closers’ in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Note the Derby is an added distance for nearly all these horses who will have to come from behind to win the 1 ¼ mile race. Watch them along with race recaps, videos and footnotes to see what can be learned leading up to the 1 3/16 mile Preakness Stakes.

We’ll provide this in 2-3 parts covering three closers here.

Brody’s Cause went from maiden winner at 33-1 odds straight to the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Futurity (G1) and tracked down Exaggerator in the final furlong to win last fall. He came from deep in the pack to rally and win. Earlier this month he won the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) again making up over eight lengths in the final quarter mile to win. The Giant’s Causeway colt will need a fast Derby pace and be able to work his way through many horses to make his Run for the Roses.

Creator took six races to break his maiden, but has shown rapid improvement in winning two of his last three races including the Arkansas Derby last time out. His Beyer Figures have gone from 80 to 90 to the 96 he was assigned in his Arkansas Derby score. But the race fell apart following blistering early fractions and while Creator made up 10 lengths from the three quarter pole, the final three-eighths of the Arkansas Derby was run in a slow 39.53 seconds. This Tapit Colt is still not on the talent level with some of the top Derby horses and closers and the added Derby distance is likely to work against him.

Exaggerator is a Curlin colt who exploded around the far turn into the stretch and won the Santa Anita Derby going away by over six lengths. That race was one of the stronger 100-point Derby preps, and he’s improving with a strong foundation of traveling and facing good horses. He’s won on a number of different tracks including twice in the slop and mud. Exaggerator is one of the most experienced 3-year olds with nine starts including four wins. He may try to be closer to the mid-pack than far back in the Derby, but he has the speed and versatility to make a run having registered a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in the Santa Anita Derby which was the highest of all the Derby preps. Exaggerator finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Nyquist in the San Vicente Stakes February 15, but that was 7/8 of a mile and the three additional furlongs will be to his benefit. Exaggerator will be a top-3 betting choice in the Kentucky Derby and clearly a closer to watch.

Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexendra, Zenyatta Bound for HOF

Former Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra will be inducted in to the National Museum’s Hall of Fame this year. Joining her will be another legendary mare in Zenyatta. Trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ramon Dominguez will also be honoured.

Rachel Alexandra holds a lifetime record of 13-5-0 in 19 races. Her wins include the aforementioned Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational, Kentucky Oaks and the Woodward Stakes. She was well regarded for routinely running against the boys and beating them at big races. In 2009, she was awarded the American Horse of the Year.

In this season, she also has a daughter running in the three-year old campaign named Rachel’s Valentina who was sired by former Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini. Rachel’s Valentina is the new favorite to win the 2016 Kentucky Oaks now that Songbird has bowed out.

Zenyatta is the consensus pick as the greatest female horse of all time. Her crowning achievement was a win at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic. With a lifetime record of 19-1-0 in 20 races, Zenyatta’s only loss was a the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race she lost to Blame. Other distinctions for the champion female include a statue outside Santa Anita Racecourse, three American Champion Female Racehorse awards (2008-2010), and American Horse of the Year (2010). In the history of this sport, there simply has been none better on the female side of thoroughbred racing.

Steven Asmussen is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer (2009 and 2010). He has won two Preakness Stakes with Rachel Alexandra and Curlin, and has grossed over $251 million in career earnings. Asmussen also boasts 7,287 wins in his illustrious career. In the 2016 Triple Crown season, he is submitting Creator and Gun Runner, the latter of which has an outside shot of winning the Kentucky Derby after stunning wins at the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby.

Ramon Dominguez owns 44 graded stakes victories, and led all jockeys in wins during the 2001 and 2003  seasons. He was the overall leading rider from 2009-2012 in the state of New York as well. He is also a three time winner of the Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey, earning the distinction in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Stanford Wins Charles Town Classic

Stanford Goes Gate to Wire to Win Charles Town Classic

Stanford added to his riches Saturday with a $700,000 score in winning the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic. Ridden to victory by Javier Castellano and trained by Todd Pletcher, Stanford now has career earnings over $1.15 million.

“Fantastic trip,” said Pletcher.  “He broke very well and got to the position we hoped for going to the first turn. He was on cruise control from there.”

Stanford broke sharply from the #7 post in the field of 10 with Page McKenney at here hip.  Those two would travel the three turns on the small West Virginia oval together, with Stanford maintaining at least a half-length lead through fractions of :24.75, :48.86, and 1:13.75. Stanford, the Bay colt by Malibu Moon, kicked clear near the eighth pole and widened under a drive to win by two lengths over Page McKenney. Donworth, the 2-1 favorite finished third and Imperative, the second choice finished fourth.

“He broke very sharp and there wasn’t that much speed in the race,” said Castellano. “He broke well and I just enjoyed the ride. I thought the fractions were pretty comfortable.”

With the Charles Town track favoring speed both Friday and Saturday, Stanford used his and showed his versatility and improvement to finish with a final time of 1:50.55. Stanford paid $9.40 to win, $5.00 to place and $3.80 to show as the 7-2 betting choice. Page McKenney paid $6.20 and $3.40 and a $2 exacta paid $66.40.

Following a layoff in the summer of 2015, Stanford has put together back-to-back graded stakes placings, most recently behind his stablemate Blofeld in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Pletcher suggested that the next stop for the colt may be the $1.25 million Grade I Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) June 11 at Belmont Park.

the major players will avoid Songbird at the Santa Anita Oaks

Contenders Avoid Songbird at Santa Anita Oaks

You can’t blame trainers, owners and jockeys for wanting to avoid Songbird, but it would probably be better for the sport overall if there were more highly regarded horses running in this wekeend’s Santa Anita Stakes. Instead we’re left with a small field of challengers vying for second place. The more talented fillies in the country are searching for glory elsewhere.

Songbird absolutely crushed the field at the San Ysabel Stakes, a 1 1/16th mile race from a month ago. Land Over Sea placed second in that race, finishing behind the Two-Year Old Filly of the Year for the fifth time in her career. In an effort to avoid Songbird, and the inevitable, Land Over Sea took to the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26th and earned her first graded stakes victory overall. It was a much deserved breath of fresh air for the talented daughter of sire Bellamy Road, who remains pointed firmly at the Kentucky Oaks for the ultimate shot at redemption.

Also making concerted efforts to avoid Songbird this weekend are Cathryn Sophia and Rachel’s Valentina, who will instead compete at this weekend’s Ashland Stakes in a much anticipated head-to-head battle. It will be the 2016 debut for Rachel’s Valentina, who hasn’t competed since placing second to you-know-who at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Cathryn Sophia has also done well to avoid Songbird throughout the balance of her career, and has managed to go 4-0 in as many races with wins at the Davano Dale, Forward Gal and Gin Talking along with her maiden. The pair will open as the presumed favorites at the Ashland Stakes.

That leaves a scattered and somewhat empty field to compete at the highly coveted Santa Anita Oaks. She’s A Warrior placed third at the previously mentioned San Ysabel,  and is an excellent choice to place or show. However Mokat will also be in the field after showing at the Las Virgenes Stakes in February behind both Land Over Sea and Songbird.

Bellamentary, another filly sired by Bellamy Road, will make her stakes debut at the Santa Anita Oaks as well. She is trained by Phillip D’Amato. Forever Darling will round out the field after winning the Santa Ynez, but falling to ninth at the Rachel Alexandra.

Considering all of the contenders that have chose to avoid Songbird this weekend, the strongest plays to box with are She’s A Warrior and Mokat and if you’re looking to cash in large with a bigger play. Betting on the winner will require a heavy wager when it comes to the Santa Anita Oaks.

Late Winners on Aqueduct Championship Day

3 Late Winners and Picks at the Big A Saturday

The New York Racing Association’s Claiming Championship Series is set for Saturday, April 2 at AqueductWe’ve chipped in with a some picks in the late races for those that miss out on the early betting action or the $250,000 guarantee late Pick 4 starting with Race 7 and wish to wager online at

Favorite bettors will like our support of Toledo Eddie (7/5) in the Race 7 Stud Muffin Stakes. He’ll shoot for his fourth straight victory in the mile race after winning a 1 1/16 mile claimer against stronger at Santa Anita March 6. Toledo Eddie recorded a best Beyer Speed Figure of 106 in that race and went wire-to-wire while getting clear by 12 lengths in the stretch. Anything similar is plenty good enough here.

Race 8 is the Sis City Stakes and another top choice favorite to support with the versatile Can Can Babe (4/5) also looking to make it four in a row with her last win January 31 at Santa Anita. She too went wire-to-wire to beat five rivals at a mile as the even money favorite. The dark bay crossed over leaving the gate and dueled outside the backstretch and far turn before battling down the stretch to inch away late. She worked lightly at Belmont Park three times the end of March and will again be on the front end as the controlling speed of the race.

We’ll conclude our late day racing at Aqueduct with a value play of the day on #6 Winning For Sarah (10-1) in Race 10, the Karakorum Elektra Stakes. She’ll have to beat 5/2 favorite Stroke Play and come off the pace to track down Nuffsaid Nuffsaid and Brenda’s Way who will battle on the front end. But Winning For Sarah enters off back-to-back wins at Gulfstream, the latest March 10 at 14-1 odds when she angled out in the lane and closed hard for the win. She’s in the best form of her career, and her speed figures have gone up each of the last three races a total of 10 points each race. That’s significant speed improvement to support at a price.

Post time for Race 1 on Saturday, April 2 at Aqueduct is 1:20 p.m. ET with Race 7 scheduled for 4:38 ET.

nyquist is ready for 2016 florida derby

2016 Florida Derby Features Derby Faves

It’s no secret that the 2016 Florida Derby is the most anticipated race of the entire season so far. The marquee race of Gulfstream Park will feature the two Kentucky Derby favorites in a meeting that was happenstance more than anything. The coincidental clash is a solid preview for what’s to come in the Triple Crown and horse bettors across the country would be wise to keep their ears close to the rails in this one.

In a perfect world for the sake of promotion, Mohaymen and Nyquist wouldn’t meet until the Kentucky Derby on May 7th. But each of their trainers had targeted the 2016 Florida Derby as their final prep race of the preseason well before either started down the trail. After Mohaymen’s pair of victories earlier this year, and Nyquist’s scorching sprint at the San Vicente Stakes, neither of the horses’ trainers wanted to veer off course.

Kiaran McLaughlin has guided Mohyamen through his special and busy journey. The three-year old son of Tapit has already run in four races since the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships (which he did not compete in), and the 2016 Florida Derby will be his fifth and final run before focusing on the ultimate task at hand.

“We’re ready to go. We wouldn’t change anything,” McLaughlin said in a call from Dubai, where he recently oversaw some of his other trainees compete at Meydan Racecourse. “We’ll just see how we draw and who enters.”

It’s been a much less involved season for Nyquist, who won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has only competed once since. He flattened the San Vicente, but the 7-furlong challenge did little to invigorate the horse playing community. Mohaymen has surged ahead of Nyquist as the preference for the Kentucky Derby.  So this is an opportunity for Nyquist to prove what he’s worth. O’Neill wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but like most races, we feel like we can win,” O’Neill stated. “I’m sure the Mohaymen people feel that they can win, and the Zulu people feel that they can win, and there will be a few others. So it’s going to be a great race and hopefully everyone stays injury-free. I can’t wait for April 2. We’re real excited.”

The stubbornness of both O’Neill and McLaughlin may have led to an unexpected sneak preview at the 2016 Florida Derby, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s too upset about it. The epic showdown goes down this Saturday, April 2nd with 100-40-20-10 point split offered up for the top four.
mo tom

Mo Tom, Greenpointcrusader Lead LA Derby

To the savvy horse players keeping eyes on the derby trail, Mo Tom has continued to garner some serious interest. In the latest pool of the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager, Mo Tom was a relative outside shot at 15/1. This may seem like wide odds for a contender, but those close to the sport no otherwise. The derby contenders on the west coast are Mor Spirit at 12/1 and Danzing Candy at 17/1.

As is usually the case, Mo Tom is in the thick of it.

The GMB Racing product will run out of the center gate this weekend at the Louisiana Derby giving him a resounding advantage in the 11-horse field. He is currently the odds on favorite to win at 5/2. Mo Tom’s post certainly seems to be giving way to his number this weekend as he’s facing some familiar competition.

Most recently, Mo Tom ran in the Risen Star in late February. He placed third behind two horses that are featured in this weekend’s Louisana Derby. Gun Runner holds 3/1 odds as the third favorite, while Forevamo will open on the outside with 10/1 odds.

The horse most likely to give Mo Tom a real run for his money, however, is Greepointcrusader at 7/2. The 2015 winner of the Champagne Stakes fell short in a bid at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where he tumbled to 7th place in a dense field. But a positively brutish, second place showing at the Holy Bull Stakes behind Moyahmen reignited the spark surrounding Greenpointcrusader. He may be just behind Mo Tom in the Louisiana Derby odds, but he’s miles behind in the Kentucky Derby futures. Greenpointcrusader has long odds of 29/1 in that market.

A handful of other contenders will toss their names in to the hat, but everyone will be targeting Mo Tom . Boosting his overall profile will be jockey Tom Amoss, a son of the state who is excited at the chance to saddle the favorite at the Louisiana Derby. “The local fans come out to see this horse and I don’t want to let them down,” Amoss stated in a conference call.

Indeed, this is a pivotal race for almost everyone in the field. Mo Tom and Greepointcrusader are the on-paper favorites, but there is value to be had with upstarts like Gun Runner in the mix as well. Whomever wins will be hurling directly in to the teeth of the derby trail with a lot of momentum. This is a race that none of them can afford to lose if they stand a hope of challenging the top-four horses come Triple Crown season.

Tammy the Torpedo Ready for Suwannee River Stakes

Tammy the Torpedo ended 2015 on a blazing note, winning two of her final three starts. She now looks to kick off 2016 on a high note, as she attempts to win her first graded stakes score in this weekend’s $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Since winning the Tropical Park Oaks last December, Tammy the Torpedo has been preparing for her four-year-old debut, which she will be making in the 1 1/8-mile turf race on Saturday. She’s been getting in training sessions since early January, having put in four works up to this point.

“She ran terrific last time,” said trainer Chad C. Brown. “We gave her some time since that win and she seems to be back in top form breezing again so we’re looking forward to running her in this race and try to get a graded win for her.”

In addition to representing Tammy the Torpedo at the $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes, Brown will also be sending Light In Paris, who will be making her seasonal debut. She finished third in the Tropical Park Oaks race that Tammy the Torpedo won, finishing only a half-length out of first place.

“Her first run in the country wasn’t very good. She had problems at the gate and never really got involved,” said Brown. “After that we put blinkers on the filly and freshened her in Florida and her last race she ran terrific. She’s actually a filly that’s improving.”

The race favorite at money-line odds of 3/1 is Habibi. Below is the starting lineup for the race:

1. – Tammy the Torpedo (7/2)
2. – E B Ryder (10/1)
3. – Sweetie Girl (15/1)
4. – Rainha Da Bateria (8/1)
5. – Light In Paris (4/1)
6. – Habibi (3/1)
7. – Uchenna (8/1)
8. – A Little Bit Sassy (6/1)

Forsted wins Al Maktoun

Frosted Dazzles In Prep For Dubai

Frosted made his 2016 debut at the Al Maktoun Invitational as he continues preparations for the Dubai World Cup in March, claiming just his third victory overall while dusting the competition. The win stirs hope for the son of Tapit, who was consistently bested by slightly better horses during his three-year old season. Kiaran McLaughlin foresees a brighter run for the now four-year old.

So far, so good.

Besting Gold City and Faulkner to claim entry in to the winner’s circle, Frosted ran the 1 3/16 mile dirt race in 1:56.67 which is a new track record. It was an easy win for the horse and could invigorate his sense of confidence as he prepares to challenge some of the biggest names in the older horse category at the Dubai World Cup.

Frosted’s 2015 campaign was a little all over the map. He began showing promise after a strong second place finish at the Holy Bull Stakes, but failed to build momentum with a follow-up run at the Fountain of Youth where he checked in at fourth. Claiming his first stakes win at the Fountain of Youth, Frosted barrelled in to the Triple Crown series with some much needed momentum but fell back to fourth at the Kentucky Derby. Skipping the Preakness turned out a smart move by his handlers as Frosted would finish second behind American Pharoah at the Belmont stakes. He’d place second again at the Jim Dandy with a third place effort at the Travers Stakes. Frosted’s second win would come in the fall at the Pennsylvania Stakes before the long season finally caught up to him with a 7th place effort at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

It’s been a constant theme of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” in Frosted’s career. He has six second place finishes in 13 total races. Even still, it’s hard to say that Frosted’s career is a waste. A constant podium finisher, Kiaran McLaughlin hopes for big things at the Dubai World Cup where he will contend with familiar foes like Keen Ice. The March 26th mega event will also feature California Chrome, Hoppertunity, Candy Boy and a slew of other contenders challenging for the incredible $10 million purse.

Frosted will be worth a consideration in box bets if his win at the Al Maktoun Invitational is any indication of how ready he is for more major stakes races in the upcoming year.