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.

Spiral Stakes Next Test for Kasseopia

In his first race on U.S. soil, Kasseopia made a valiant comeback to earn a third-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) on February 13th. Not only was that the first time the Team Valor International horse ran in the U.S., but it was also his first time racing as a three-year-old.

The April 2nd Spiral Stakes (gr. III) will mark the second occasion for both milestones for Kasseopia.

“I think he did everything he could have possibly done considering the start he got off to,” said trainer Graham Motion. “The frustrating part of it is that he actually had to run very hard to do what he did. What ended up as being a fairly inconsequential race because of the way he started—he had a pretty hard race that day.”

There was no bumping or stumbling for Kasseopia during the El Camino Real Derby; it was just that he was unfocused. “This horse is extremely laid back, very kind, very relaxed, and that’s what you want in a horse,” said Motion. “But it’s almost like he went to sleep and it surprised him when the gates opened.”

In order to prepare him for the Spiral Stakes and make him more focused, Motion has taken Kasseopia to the starting gate multiple times for extra schooling.

“He was pretty forward,” said Motion. “I wouldn’t say he breaks like a sprinter or anything like that, but I certainly expect him to break better on Saturday, and he needs to, otherwise it’s going to compromise him again.”

Motion and Team Valor are looking for their third Spiral Stakes victory as partners. They previously won this race in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and in 2012 with Went the Day Well.

spiral stakes turfway park

This Weekend’s Spiral Stakes Preview

Kentucky’s Turfway Park will once again host the Spiral Stakes this weekend. It is the last challenge amongst the Kentucky Derby Prep races that offers a 50-20-10-5 point split. Run over nine furlongs on a dirt track, the Horseshoe Casino sponsored event ponies up a purse of $550,000.

An absolutely dense field will be headlined by Airoforce, one of the more well known competitors on the derby trail. Trained by Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley, Airoforce is still searching for his first win during the 2016 campaign since falling way short at his season debut. The derby longshot was 10th at the Risen Star Stakes in February.

It’s a curious result for Airoforce who ended 2015 with a strong run. He placed second at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf behind Hit It A Bomb, and rallied past Mor Spirit at the Kentucky Jockey Club a month later. By sheer name value alone, Airoforce will likely be the lead horse in the morning line odds but it’s a daring bet given his track record so far. Airoforce simply has too much left to prove and is probably left better as a choice to place or show.

The other heavy consideration at the Spiral Stakes will be Surgical Strike, who is coming off a win at the John Battaglia Memorial just a few short weeks ago. The Ben Colebrook trainee looked strong in beating second place runner Whatawonderfulworld who will also compete at the Spiral Stakes. Swagger Jagger (9th) and Strike up the Band (4th) are also nominated for this weekend’s Turfway Park race.

The relatively unknown Jensen, who is 2-2-0 in four allowances so far, will make his majors debut under Larry Jones at the Spiral Stakes and is as tempting as anyone in the field. If you’re going to take a wild flier on any horse in this race, it’s going to be Jensen.

The 1 1/8th mile Spiral Stakes has not produced a bounty of Triple Crown hopefuls, but it also happened to be the chosen prep race of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. It was also won in 2007 by Hard Spun, who placed at that year’s Kentucky Derby while sliding in to third at the Preakness Stakes. One of the reasons that it does not feature so many well-known winners is the distance, which tailors more so to sprinters than it does to milers.

The 12-field race is going to offer an exciting race,but Airoforce, Jensen and Surgical Strike remain the lead choices to build your bets around.

Jockey Calvin Borel Retires

Hall of Fame Jockey Calvin Borel Abruptly Retires

A surprising and abrupt announcement Wednesday when Hall of Fame Jockey Calvin Borel called it quits at the age of 50. His agent Larry Melancon confirmed the news at Oaklawn Park, where Borel began riding in 1990 and was the tracks leading rider in 1995 and 2001. At Oaklawn, he also earned his 3,000th, 4,000th, and 5,000th career victories.

Borel began his career in 1983. He won the 2009 Preakness Stakes aboard Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. He also rode three Kentucky Derby winners in 2007 (Street Sense), 2009 (Mine That Bird at 50-1 odds) and 2010 (Super Saver).

Borel was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2013. He retires with 5,146 career victories placing him 27th in North American history. That includes 947 victories in Hot Springs including 51 stakes wins at Oaklawn. He won all five of Oaklawn’s major Racing Festival of the South events at least once including the Arkansas Derby in 1993 aboard 108-1 longshot Rockamundo.

A horseman all his life, hard work and talent made Calvin Borel a Hall of Famer. He was also a fan favorite and many riders idolized him. So too did his longtime trainer, Jerry Hissam.

“Personally, we were together for 24 years and he was like a son to me,” said  Hissam, who retired last year. “His success came strictly from extreme hard work that his brother (Cecil) laid on him and he’s done it.”

After learning of Borel’s retirement, Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery issued the following statement:

“Along with his three Kentucky Derby victories and his status as one of the most accomplished jockeys in Churchill Downs history, Calvin’s 20 years at our track were as notable for his relationship with our fans as his excellence on the track. Calvin rose to racing’s Hall of Fame from humble beginnings, and that was reflected in his ongoing relationship with our fans – and especially children. He loved the kids and felt a responsibility to provide a positive image to them and to let them know daily how much he appreciated them. There have been few, if any, individuals quite like Calvin Borel in 142 years of history at Churchill Downs. We thank him for a job well done and wish him the best in the future.

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.

Jensen Prepares for Cincinnati Spiral

Even though Jensen hasn’t been nominated to the Triple Crown that won’t stop him from following in his broodmare sire’s Hard Spun footsteps in the upcoming $500,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III). The race is scheduled to take place at Turfway Park on April 2nd.

According to Turfway’s racing office, the 1 1/8-mile Spiral will attract a full field of three-year-olds looking to gain ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ qualifying points; 85 points, to be exact.

The Kentucky-bred Jensen comes from the Hard Spun mare Spun Lake. Hard Spun is a previous winner of the Spiral on Polytrack, who also went on to finish in second-place at the Kentucky Derby. Hard Spun’s return to Turfway later in the year led to a victory in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II).

“Hard Spun loved the synthetic up there,” said trainer Larry Jones said. “I’m just going to try to make Jensen look as much like his old granddaddy as I can. This is probably the first grandson that’s out there running from Hard Spun.”

In order to be eligible for the Kentucky Derby, Jensen needs a $200,000 supplemental payment. However, Jones pictures a different path to the Kentucky Derby.

“I have always said I’ve wanted a horse good enough to dodge all the good horses,” said Jones. “A hero I had many years ago was a horse called Lost Code. He was the same crop as Alysheba and Bet Twice. He didn’t even run against those guys until he was nearly done making almost $2 million.”

Weekend Racing Roundup

5 Stakes Winners Highlight Weekend Racing Roundup

Five stakes races highlighted the weekend of racing in the U.S. while a pair big money horse races were all the rage in Dubai. A pair of 3-year olds stamped their ticket to the Run for the Roses May 7 as the Road to the Kentucky Derby nears. Gun Runner and Lani will be one’s to watch as both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes near.  Here is a weekend racing roundup.

Gun Runner followed up his victory in the Risen Star last month with a 4 ½ length victory in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds. He’s secured his spot in the Kentucky Derby but critics note he’s yet to run fast compared to some of the other leading Derby contenders after posting a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 in the Louisiana Derby.

Lani staged a massive comeback in winning the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai. The son of Tapit earned 100 Derby points and punched his ticket to the Run for the Roses May 7.

California Chrome was much the best in the desert Saturday evening in Dubai as the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner pulled clear in the stretch to win the world’s richest race in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G2). Two-time Preakness Stakes winning jockey Victor Espinoza added to his and accomplishments while making California Chrome the richest racehorse ever in American earnings.

Land Over Sea charged late and was best in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2); the leading Kentucky Oaks prep race.

Trainer Bill Mott notched three stakes wins at three different tracks Saturday. Take the Stand cruised to a front-running victory in the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial (G2) at the Fair Grounds. Tuttipaesi took the Santa Ana Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, closing through a tight spot in the final furlong to edge Glory by a neck. Jockey Chris DeCarlo was aboard Tuttipaesi in his first mount at Santa Anita. Harmonize made a successful 2016 debut in the Sanibel Island Stakes at Gulfstream, her first race since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Gun Runner succeeds at Fair Grounds

Gun Runner Stifles Louisiana Derby Field

If the 2016 Louisiana Derby seemed familiar, it’s because we saw the exact same race last February when it was called the Risen Star Stakes. Once again Gun Runner took the win. Once again Candy My Boy set the pace. And once again, there was major disappointment for Mo Tom.

However, this has more to do with Gun Runner showing up for the second time at a major stakes race at Fair Grounds and putting together another scintillating performance. It’s unreasonable to further doubt Gun Runner. He’s a very strong runner and one that will perhaps steal some attention when the Kentucky Derby rolls around.

Jockey Florent Geroux was quietly confident in Gun Runner’s talent. “He has so many gears. He settles really nicely, and when you ask him to go, he has a nice turn of foot,” the rider quipped. “Hopefully we can make a nice run the first Saturday in May.”

That part seems to be a given at this point.

One of the reasons that Gun Runer’s victory was a stunner was his lack of hype leading up to it. His win at the Risen Star Stakes in February was chalked up to an error by Mo Tom down the stretch. Unfortunately, the same thing happened in this race.

Mo Tom was the heavy favorite and was picking up a head of steam down a clogged home stretch before he was forced to check hard behind Candy My Boy. Trainer Tom Amoss was thoroughly disappointed in the outcome but seemed more upset with the decisions made by rider Corey Lanerie who took Mo Tom to the inside rail early on. That proved to be a massive, tactical error.

“I am surprised,” Amoss said. “It’s so hard to watch something like that with all the preparation we do. We will make sure he’s OK before we make any other decisions.”

To his credit, Lanerie assumed the blame for being unable to handle Mo Tom properly. “I doubt they’ll let me sit on him again. He’s a great horse.”

Mo Tom wasn’t the only big disappointment of the Louisiana Derby as Greenpointcruaser sailed in with a devastating seventh place finish that all but ends any hype around his Triple Crown hopes. Their backers were had plenty to be upset about after they picked up the most action at the window leading in to the race. Greenpiontcrusader had $145,835 behind him while Mo Tom garnered the most action with $197,642.

Despite the loss, Mo Tom showed some quality speed and the singular burst he flashed before having to slam on the brakes gives hints that he could’ve pressed Gun Runner for the win. There’s a lot of work to do between now and then, but you can tell by the amount of money behind the three-year old that horse players believe in his ability. It will just take some breathing time for his handlers and connections to remind themselves of that  as well.

For the win Gun Runner paid out $9.80, $5.60 and $3.60. Tom’s Ready was the big profit generator of the day as a stunning surprise with a $24.00 and $12.40 return for his second place finish holding 30/1 odds. The 8/1 Dazzling Gem reeled in $5.80 for the show.

dubai world cup 2016

Dubai World Cup Field Led By ‘Chrome’

California Chrome will lead all horses in the field at the Dubai World Cup. The 2014 Preakness Stakes winner is holding 7/4 odds to win the race. He is the clear choice of the oddsmakers, thanks in large part to glowing reviews from his trainer Art Sherman, who finally joined his prized trainee in Dubai this week.

For the past couple months, California Chrome has been in Dubai acclimating himself to both the track and the climate under the guidance of Art’s son, Alan Sherman. Slight changes in his training and a much needed length of rest over the winter have yielded positive results for his handlers. Chrome has put on around 160 pounds and has been pushing well through his work at Meydan Racecourse.

“We came over early and gave him time to acclimate,” said Neal McLaughlin, an assistant to the Shermans. “The prep couldn’t have gone any better. With seven weeks since his last start, he’s fresh, happy and ready to run. We are full of confidence.”

Finishing second at last year’s Dubai World Cup, California Chrome will run out of the 11th post in a field of 12. His connections are not worried at all.

Frosted stands as his main threat with 2/1 odds as the second favorite. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is best known for his 2nd place finish at the 2015 Belmont Stakes behind American Pharoah. He also finished 4th at the Kentucky Derby. Frosted skipped the Preakness Stakes. Recently, Frosted clipped the Al Mouktoum Challenge at Meydan and set a course record in the process. There are few strong cases for a place or show bet in the Dubai World Cup, but Frosted remains the best bet right behind California Chrome.

Keen Ice will be searching for a strong display, but poor training and a terrible run at the Al Mouktoum Challenge Round 3, where he finished 7th, have dropped his odds to 16/1 as a longshot. Jockey Ryan Moore has requested to add blinkers to Keen Ice’s equipment, but it’s hard to imagine that being enough to close the gap in this race.

Mshawish represents an intriguing choice in the Dubai World Cup over Keen Ice as a show bet at 10/1. He has collected wins at Hal’s Hope and the Dom Handicap earlier this year.

2016 Dubai World Cup Odds – Saturday, March 26th at 1pm EST (9pm local)
California Chrome – 7/4
Frosted – 2/1
Mshawish – 10/1

Mubtaahj – 14/1
Hoppertunity – 14/1
Keen Ice – 16/1
Special Fighter – 16/1
Hokko Turumae – 25/1
Vadamos – 25/1
Gun Pit – 33/1
Teletext – 50/1
Candy Boy – 50/1


Louisiana Derby and Saturday Stakes Races

Louisiana Derby and Fair Grounds Oaks Highlight Saturday Stakes Races

The 103rd Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds highlights the weekend of racing on Saturday, March 26. In addition to the tracks biggest Kentucky Derby prep race, the Fair Grounds card will feature the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), New Orleans Handicap and Muniz Memorial Handicap. The Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita will features the ladies on the lawn, and the rest of the Saturday stakes races around the country are listed below.

Local Favorite Mo Tom goes after Louisiana Derby win
Local Favorite Mo Tom goes after Louisiana Derby win

Mo Tom heads a strong field in the Louisiana Derby. But before you get too excited about this year’s winner making a strong bid at the Kentucky Derby, know that just two Louisiana Derby winners have gone on to win the Run for the Roses, Black Gold (1924) and Grindstone (1996). However, four Louisiana Derby winners have gone on to win the Belmont Stakes.

Betting favorites fare well in the Louisiana Derby, winning 47.8 percent of the time since 1920 and finished in the top three at a 77.8 percent clip. will once again lead the way with online wagering action.

In the Fair Grounds Oaks, Stageplay has been established as the morning-line favorite at 5-2, but she must contend with familiar New Orleans-based foes as well as a few new faces from California, including Grade I winner Street Fancy and multiple Grade I-placed and certified Songbird chaser Land Over Sea, who is expected to vie for favoritism with the Kentucky-bred.

Stageplay owns the co-highest Beyer Speed Figure of 88 with Land Over Sea, a number she earned on debut when taking 6½-furlong Keeneland maiden special weight last fall. The good-looking gray daughter of Curlin will take another crack at the 1 1/16 mile distance after failing to win two previous times including in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes over this track February 20 as the 3-5 favorite. Also, the improving chestnut Adore, daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, ships in for the 2014 Fair Grounds Oaks-winning owner Winchell Thoroughbreds and trainer Steve Asmussen.

The Fair Grounds Oaks is also a Kentucky Derby prep race and awards 100 qualifying points to the winner with the top-4 finishers receiving points (100-40-20-10) in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Saturday’s Stakes Schedule – March 26

LOUISIANA DERBY (G2), Fair Grounds, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m.
FAIR GROUNDS OAKS (G2), Fair Grounds, $400,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
NEW ORLEANS H. (G2), Fair Grounds, $400,000, 4&up, 1 1/8m.
MUNIZ MEMORIAL H. (G2), Fair Grounds, $300,000, 4&up, abt 1 1/8mT.
SANTA ANA S. (G2), Santa Anita Park, $200,000, 3&up, f&m, 1 1/8m.
Cicada S., Aqueduct, $125,000, 3yo, f, 6f.
Gazebo S., Oaklawn Park, $100,000, 3yo, 6f.
Crescent City Derby (r), Fair Grounds, $75,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
Crescent City Oaks (r), Fair Grounds, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1m 70yds.
Cutler Bay S., Gulfstream Park, $75,000, 3yo, 1mT.
Sanibel Island S., Gulfstream Park, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1mT.
Primonetta S., Laurel Park, $75,000, 3&up, f&m, 6f.
Southern Park S. (r), Mahoning Valley, $75,000, 3yo, f, 6f.
Costa Rising S. (r), Fair Grounds, $60,000, 4&up, abt 5 1/2fT.
Star Guitar S. (r), Fair Grounds, $60,000, 4&up, 1 1/16m.
New Orleans Ladies S., Fair Grounds, $50,000, 4&up, f&m, 1m.