December 4th, 2013 by John Scheidt
In handicapping, certain truths are deemed to be self-evident because, for whatever reasons, the long-haul data holds firm month after month, year after year and decade after decade. Two of these truths are that the wagering favorite will win about 33% of the time. The other is that one of the top three choices will win about 67% of the time. This is pretty much written in stone and has been for eons.
Considering the dynamics of turning a profit wagering on horses (degree of difficulty, track takeout, the fortunes of war, etc.), serious players need to decide how they are going to attack the game. Should they concentrate on the “logical” and confine themselves to the 1-2-3 choices in hopes of landing on the right horse in the 67% group hoping to grind out a profit or look to bust that bracket by seeking out legitimate contenders in the 33% range instead? There is no right or wrong answer here since it all depends on the individual.
However, people who are contrarian by nature generally can’t stand to succeed when everybody else is succeeding. They want to do their winning when the majority is doing their losing because, to be honest, it’s more fun and it pays a lot better.
Good price plays often pop up out of nowhere. As evidence, I offer the Grade III Miesque Stakes going a mile on turf at Hollywood Park. In this case, I liked a filly pretty much from the start of the process and never really wavered. Based on my personal betting line, I thought that, once the money was bet, I might get some action out of the race. However, I never dreamed I would get “the bet”. From the inside to outside post positions, here are the particulars as I saw them:
1. SAVINGS ACCOUNT (4/1 on the line) — A Medaglia d’Oro filly for the productive Tom Proctor barn, she had stretched out successfully over the local course to earn her diploma by a nose under Mike Smith. Since I make my own figures, I don’t rely on Beyer or Bris or any other rating system. Often, however, the numbers are relatively similar and that was the case in the Miesque. Savings Account earned a 72 Beyer and a 56 on my chart. My par for a race of this sort is 62. This filly looked to be competitive on paper but had no real positives from an intangible standpoint. With Smith riding elsewhere, a negative jock switch to Aaron Gryder (just 1/27 at the meet) didn’t help. Still, based on the competition, she might win. Post time odds were 8/1.
2. SUSHI EMPIRE (8/1) – She had been favored at 5/2 over Savings Account last time but lost by a nose after a spirited stretch duel going two turns for the first time. She had the same last-out figs as her rival (72 Beyer, 56 Osterman). Despite being a maiden in a Grade III stakes, she certainly couldn’t be excluded from consideration given the circumstances. Post time odds were a healthy 21/1.
3. CLENOR (8/5) – The 67% group decided this experienced Irish miss was the right horse based on three strong off-the-pace wins going today’s distance at Santa Anita and Del Mar, including two stakes successes. On the surface, she was certainly the most accomplished horse in the race. However, she had regressed without Lasix in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and her three wins were all helped immensely by rapid tempos over layouts playing to her late-charging style. The decision was whether to judge her off her most-recent race or expect her to rebound with the return of Lasix. Before accepting 4/5, players need to weigh every potential negative carefully.
4. LOVE IN THE DESERT (6/1) – In from the U.K. where she was beaten only four lengths in a Group III sprint, this Lemon Drop Kid filly had passed tired horses coming down the hill in a Breeders’ Cup undercard event. Not a bad U.S. debut but she was making her first start going long and was rather unattractive when bet down to 7/2.
5. NESSO (7/2) – Winless in three California grass starts (finishing behind Clenor each time) since graduating at first asking in a 4-1/2-furlong race at Calder in June, Vann Belvoir’s entrant had fought the Santa Anita grass bias when setting the pace (without LX) in the BC Juvenile Turf Fillies before caving in down the lane. There was no reason to think she would beat Clenor this time either and, at 7/2, was not all that appealing anyway.
6. FULL RANSOM (4/1) – Here was the interesting filly. Outrun in a DMR sprint to start her career, she perked up immediately when stretched out at Santa Anita for a wire-to-wire maiden win in her grass debut. Not many were able to go all the way over that course during the fall meet giving the James Cassidy-trained runner instant credibility. Also, her maiden race had already produced two graduates making her the only runner in the group to exit a race that featured even one next-out success. On my scale, she had the best last-out rating (57) and tied for the best Beyer (with Clenor) at 75. Fillies often improve quickly at this time of year and she had the “upside” working while the favorite might well be on the downswing. Obviously, it was a super-weak race for the class level and I made Full Ransom 5/2 to win the race and playable at 7/2 or more. At 12/1 on the board, she was a spectacular overlay based on her chances of winning.
Clenor, Love In The Desert and Nesso were the 1-2-3 choices so they represented the 67% group. Full Ransom, Savings Account and Sushi Empire made up the 33% bunch. They finished in that order with Full Ransom rallying to win at $26.80 to key an $84.20 Exacta with Savings Account and a $595 Trifecta with Sushi Empire.
Chalk up one for the contrarians.
December 3rd, 2013 by John Scheidt
HORSE AMOUNT FROM TRAINER RATING
JUDGE CARR $16,000 Treece Hess Jr. C+
Put the blinkers on and won this restricted claiming race rather easily under Maldonado, even while
breaking a tad slow at the start. Now, the Judge has to face “open” company and this field really wasn’t
TRELAWNY $32,000 Moger Mullins B
This race was taken off the grass due to light rain. Trelawny didn’t run his race, finishing 3rd as the 6/5
choice. Mullins was willing to pay $7000 more than what he lost him for two back, so you know he
likes the horse. Mullins won two races with him from 4 starts. Looks like a good claim.
SAMMY’S A RUNNIN’ $12,500 Sherman Mode C
Ran a decent 3rd as the winner went wire-to-wire making it tough on the closers and Sammy. This one
doesn’t win often but seems to pay his way. A negative barn switch though.
MUCHOS BESOS $12,500 Puype O’Neill C+
Likes this race track but ran a disappointing 4th as the wagering favorite. He was pretty much facing
the same problem as Sammy, as it was tough to close on the winner. This is a re-claim by O’Neill
which is a good sign.
CLOSE TO THE EDGE $12,500 Guillot Pederson B
He needed this race after being off 7 months and didn’t run too badly, finishing 5th while pressing the
pace early on. He was gelded during his down time and for $12,500, this looks like good claim for the
past classer. Also a positive barn switch.
THE CLAIM BOX @ HOLLYWOOD PARK – Nov. 30, 2013
BY ROD YOUNG, TURFDOM
DESIGNER $25,000 Baffert Glatt A
It’s hard to claim off Baffert and be successful, but Glatt has done it before, and will probably do it
again. This time, the 4/5 favorite was hooked every step of the way while pinned down on the wood.
Designer had so much class over this field, that he still pulled away to win by 7. This Kentucky-bred
has all of his allowance conditions available. Up the ladder.
DERRINGER $25,000 Mitchell Grayson C
Ran hard on the lead with “Cannon” just inside of him. He finished well enough while taking a big
drop in class, but it’s hard to claim off Mitchell and be successful. This is a negative barn switch.
MONEY CANNON $25,000 Kitchingman Mulhall B
Took all the worst of it here while being tucked in at the rail with the even money favorite just laying
on him (see this week’s HTW list). He can go long or short, turf or dirt, and looks like a good claim for
the new connections.
HE’S A DANCE STAR $40,000 Gallagher Baltas D
Threw in a real stinker, although he had a perfect trip stalking the leader. It looks like he has some
physical issues that’s caught up with him again. He is about to turn 7 years old and has only been to the
post 15 times during that time with lots of stops and starts along the way. Maybe time for R&R again.
GILLIGAN $12,500 Vallejo Hollendorfer C
Didn’t really fire, and there were no excuses at 5/1. His last 3 turf starts have all resulted in victories,
but he’s not good enough to run on the turf in So. Cal., so the “Dorf” will probably ship him up North
where they write turf races for as little as $6250. His form isn’t too bad, and you know Hollendorfer
will get “out” on him.
THE CLAIM BOX @ HOLLYWOOD PARK – Dec. 1, 2013
BY ROD YOUNG, TURFDOM
MAJESTIC STINGER $25,000 Ellis Taylor B
Won nicely off the claim by Ellis after a brief freshening. Still has all of her allowance conditions
available but the new connections may be looking to run somewhere other than this circuit with her.
Barn races mainly in the Northwest and in British Columbia.
CHASING THE HEAT $18,000 Piccioni Solis C
Ran a good 3rd from the rail draw and didn’t give it up till very late in the race. However, Solis has
done very well with his claims and I do believe $20,000 is this one’s ceiling.
WOULD YOU $20,000 Pender D’Amato B
This one was coming on late in this 7-furlong event; his best races have always been around two turns.
Look for the new connections to get him back in the route game. D’Amato has done well with recent
claims and has learned from the master, Mike Mitchell.
BIG WAGS $20,000 Spawr Catalano CA
disappointment, since he missed the board as the 6/5 favorite with zero excuses. The bright side is,
he was only beaten 2.5 lengths for all the money. I don’t know the new trainer, but going from Spawr
to Catalano on the surface does not seem like a positive move.
MAGIC BEAM $20,000 Mathis Diodoro CHopped
in the air at the start, got away poorly, and lost all chances to win the race right at the gate. He
got very good last Summer but since tailed. Mathis, a top Nor Cal trainer, shipped down here looking
to sell, and that he did. Negative barn switch to boot.
STREET CAR $8000 Pender Catalano C
As mentioned, I don’t know the Catalano barn, but this one has always had good speed. Street Car
showed it again here, and barely hung on for the victory in a race loaded with early speed. He does like
synthetic tracks – and that’s a plus – but he turns 8 in 30 days, so there may not be many good ones left
in the tank.
KING MAYA $8000 Cerin Miranda B+
King looks like a steal for $8000, but he’s headed to GGF where they write non winners of 3 races for
the claiming conditions. He was very sharp today and is currently in good form. Excellent claim.
PRIVATE BOUNTY $8000 Mitchell Taylor C+
Hard to do well claiming off of Mitchell, but once again, Bounty may be heading out of the State for
the new connections. Positively, he is in good form now and Troy Taylor does well on his home tracks.
SHARP RICHARD $25,000 Mullins Chew C
This one possesses good speed and demonstrated it here to finish a close up 4th. He broke his maiden
on the grass, and he’ll have plenty of chances at this non winners of two clause. The downside is the
negative barn switch from Mullins to Chew.
December 3rd, 2013 by John Scheidt
BACKINTHEACADEMY (Nov. 29): Three year old filly for Felipe Souza tried the first allowance
condition on Friday at two turns on the main track after this race was taken off the turf due to
light rains. Off at 50/1 and the longest price in the field, she trailed the field most of the race as the
even money favorite set moderate fractions up on the lead. She stayed on the rail turning for home,
lodged a bid at the leader at the 1/8th pole, and kept plugging away to finish second, but was
actually getting to the winner late. She finished second and it was almost 3 lengths back to the third
horse, so a very fine effort indeed. This one may need claiming company to get a win but she likes
this oval and has never finished worse than second in 4 tries on synthetic tracks. She is bred for
turf as well and with her connections (Souza/Medina), she will continue to offer good wagering
HEIR KITTY (Nov. 29): This 3 year old filly for Peter Miller tried the boys for the third time in her
career in Friday’s 8th race, a second condition allowance race sprinting on the main track. Off at 5/2 and
adding blinkers, she settled in third down the back side while showing more speed than usual, lodged a
bid turning for home, and eventually wore down the leader late to win by a half. They have had her on
the grass lately and a return to the main track and sprinting is what she does best. Plus the return of the
“shades” helps her keep in contact with the field in the early part of the races. By being able to beat colts
and geldings at this level of competition, just gives Miller so many more options down the road. This one
is a nice filly and will be tough no matter where Miller places her next.
MONEY CANNON (Nov. 30): Three year old gelding for Adam Kitchingman, who he claimed two
starts back for $25,000, was in for that same price in a sprint Saturday on the main track in a race listed
for 3 year olds only. Off at 10/1 in an 8 horse field, he was unfortunate to draw the rail slot and found
himself in a speed duel with the even money favorite and he was pinned against the rail the entire trip
taking all the worst of it. He looked dead tired at the 1/4 pole but somehow found another gear and
battled gamely the entire length of the stretch. He ended up third but was only beaten 3/4 of a length for
all the money. It was a courageous effort and his best races are where he can stalk the pace and pounce
late, which he can do with a better draw. He has won 4 races in 15 trips to the post, looks very sound, and
can go long or short, and has even won on the turf. Under rated trainer Kristin Mulhall dropped the slip
on this one and I think she made a good claim.
SUSHI EMPIRE ( Nov. 30): Two year old filly for Eoin Harty, though still in the maiden ranks, tried
the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes on Saturday at a mile on the turf for 2 year old fillies. Off at 21/1 in a field
of 7, she laid third down the back side, moved to join the leaders at the 1/4 pole, stuck her head in front at
around the 1/8th pole, and looked like she had an excellent chance of springing the upset. She “hung” a
bit in the final furlong but still finished a good third, and she certainly was not outclassed here. She likes
the turf and wants to run long and I’m sure Harty will return her to the maiden ranks next out to get her
diploma. Harty gets lots of “nice” horses and this one cost $165,000 at the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale so
she is cut out to be a nice filly.
December 3rd, 2013 by John Scheidt
The 3 day Hollywood Turf Festival took center stage over this past weekend and there were some very
good races with many close finishes. They had rain early in the week but all the stakes races stayed on
the turf over a surface labeled as “good”. On Friday in the Grade 2 Citation, Silentio under Bejarano
won a desperate nose decision over Eastern invader Summer Front. Just a step before the wire,
“Summer” was in front, and just a step after the wire, he was in front again, but Silentio got the nose
bob over a surface he did not care for. On Sunday, a tenacious Egg Drop won by the slimmest of noses,
the Grade 1 Matriarch, over Discreet Marq and Better Lucky. It was awfully hard to win on the front
end on this turf course, especially with the rails all the way in, but Egg Drop did it and she was even
passed in the stretch by “Marq”, but came back on under right handed whipping by Martin Garcia.
Then also on Sunday, European invader Seek Again at $12.20, a Tim Osterman Best Bet, won the
Grade 1 Hollywood Derby for 3 year olds by a length and a half over 10 furlongs. The favorite,
Admiral Kitten, ran a good second as he always fires each and every time. The turf course has favored
late runners most of the meet, but the last two winners on Sunday, both two turn routes, were won by
early speed. The main track is playing fair but is tilted toward late runners rallying wide in the lane a
good portion of the time.
• Two main track races both at a mile and a sixteenth head up this week’s stakes with the Grade 2
Bayakoa for older fillies and mares on Saturday and the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet for 2 year old
fillies on Sunday. Appealing, who just got beat a head by Egg Drop, heads up the Bayakoa Saturday
along with Charlie Em, Charm the Maker, the always tough Warren’s Veneda (my choice), Magic
Union, and Rock and Glory, who is entered for Thursday, but will probably scratch for this race. On
Sunday in the Starlet, Eastern invader Rosalind will probably be the favorite for trainer Ken McPeek
off some top races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs recently. She will be faced by 5 others for sure,
Bajan for Simon Callaghan, who will be trying two turns for the first time, Arethusa, who just won the
Sharp Cat Stakes at two turns, and recent maiden winners Global Hottie for Baffert and Taste Like
Candy for Hollendorfer. Joel Rosario, who came out to ride this past Sunday will ride here the entire
week and has the mount on Rosalind Sunday. Untapable for trainer Steve Asmussen will probably
round out the field, and although there are only 6 runners, it will still be a good wagering race.
• When Bejarano left for New York on Saturday to ride Goldencents in the Cigar Mile, which didn’t turn
out very well, Joe Talamo won 3 races and closed the gap in the standings with Bejarano still on top
22 to 19 with just 3 weeks left in the meet. Martin Garcia, who won 2 on Sunday, moved into third
place with 17 wins. Rosario, who will ride here the next 4 days, will be picking up a lot of choice
mounts away from Bejarano and Talamo. Bob Baffert is having a good meet in the trainer standings
as he leads with 11 wins and is followed by a trio of trainers with 8 apiece, Hollendorfer, Sadler, and
• Ron Cooper, 66 years young, who lives in Williamsburg, Kentucky, hit the last c/o Pick Six at
Hollywood for $175,610 for a $210 investment. Cooper plays the horses full time and this is his only
source of income. He calls himself a “self employed statistical analyst”. Nobody said it was easy, but it
looks like it can be done.
November 25th, 2013 by John Scheidt
HORSE AMOUNT FROM TRAINER RATING
FRANDONTJUDGE $25,000 O’Neill Sadler B+
Had a rough trip as she got away poorly and checked early; then was in tight quarters for much of her
trip as the 7/5 choice and ended up 3rd. Has all of her conditions available, so you can bet Sadler will
make the most of them.
LAROCCO $25,000 Dollase Periban C+
Another one who had a rough trip as she was in close quarters for much of the race, but Maldonado got
her clear at the top of the lane and got the money. Don’t like the barn switch, leaving Dollase for
TOOKMEBYSURPRISE $25,000 Miyadi Spawr B
Ran a good 2nd; Spawr does well with these type of claims. This one has speed but is not speed crazy,
as she’s learned to rate nicely these days.
AMULAY $8000 Aguirre Fernandez B
Won nicely wire-to-wire on a track that had been favoring closers all day long. The barn switch is a
negative, so I’m not sure Amulay will continue her winning ways.
ENGLISH PUDDIN $8000 Blacker Belvoir B+
Ran a good 2nd as the 2/1 choice in the wagering. This is a positive barn switch, plus she can handle
any surface. Belvoir should make some money with this one.
PAWN SHOP $8000 West Pender C
Ran a disappointing 4th in a full field. This filly is just 3-years-old so she probably has some upside to
her. Pawn also likes the turf, so she should probably pay her way.
TRIBAL RAIN $8000 Hess Jr. Periban C
Had a wide trip but still finished 11th after showing some early speed. Has only one win in 18 starts so
she does have a condition to play with, non winners of two. Her speed is an asset but she seems off
form right now. They may bring her back in a sprint.
THE CLAIM BOX @ HOLLYWOOD PARK – Nov. 23, 2013
BY ROD YOUNG, TURFDOM
COOLINGTON $40,000 O’Neill Puype C
Got a ton of early play and ended up going off at 2/1 but didn’t do much running and got beat 9 lengths
without any visual trouble. Cost 100K at the Ocala two year old sale this year and has the breeding to
be a good one, but he hasn’t shown much in 3 starts.
TWO BLUE HENS $25,000 Proctor Velasquez C
Ran a good 2nd with the bug boy up (Van Dyke), but this is a negative barn switch. I would be
surprised if there was further improvement from this one.
MAJOR MAGIC $25,000 D’Amato Diodoro C
Another negative barn switch, but this claim makes some sense if they return him to sprinting on the
grass, which is what he does best. Showed speed tracking the pace, but faded badly in the drive and
finished 7th, though only beaten 3.5 lengths at the wire.
AFFLICATION $8000 Yakteen Glatt B
Definitely worth the money as he can go to the lead or stalk the pace, which he did here. But one could
throw a blanket over the first 6 finishers of this race and although he was 2nd, this is a sign of a weak
race since they were all staggering home the last furlong.
RED SHARP HUMOR $8000 Periban Pender C+
Was out battling for the lead and hung around gamely at the end to be a close up 5th. His kind of early
speed is normally a good thing. He can handle the turf as well. Hard to go wrong with that combination
for just $8000.
BOBBY HANDY $8000 Knapp Diodoro C
Had a very rough trip and Knapp probably saddled the best horse. If the jock could have kept him
outside instead of going down on the rail late, he wins. His rating reflects the lack of confidence I have
with the new connections.
THE CLAIM BOX @ HOLLYWOOD PARK – Nov. 24, 2013
BY ROD YOUNG, TURFDOM
JULIO’S GOLD $16,000 Hendricks Belvoir A
Super sharp filly wired this field over a track favoring closers. See our “Horses to Watch” list for this
week. A very timely claim for the Belvoir group.
GRANNY CALLING $16,000 Almeida D’Amato C
Granny didn’t show her usual speed and couldn’t keep up with Julio early, as she faded to last. This is a
huge barn switch going to D’AMato – and she is normally pretty quick from the gate. Granny doesn’t
like this track and does so much better across town at S. Anita. They may wait and run her at that meet.
MAGIC NUMBER $10,000 Biancone Kruljac C
On a track pretty much favoring closers, she came from the clouds to get the money. This one is fairly
consistent at the lower levels and will continue to pay her way.
November 25th, 2013 by John Scheidt
CAUSE I’M A BIGSHOT (Nov. 22): Two year old filly for Mike Mitchell looked like “big shot” on
Friday just crushing a maiden special weight field by 7 in her third career start. Given an excellent
ground saving trip from jockey Joe Talamo from the #2 hole in this two turn event, she laid third down
the back side just off the early pace. The rail opened up just past the 1/4 pole and she zipped through it
nicely, then just exploded in the lane and won as the rider pleased. They paid 110K for her in the
Keeneland sale in April and this daughter of Giant’s Causeway is bred top and bottom to run all day long.
They will look for some sort of stakes race for her next outing and I’m sure she will be up to the
challenge and appears to have a bright future.
D’YA KNOWWHATIMEAN (Nov. 23): Two year old filly for Doug O’Neill made her debut in
Saturday’s sixth race sprinting on the main track for a $50,000 claiming tag. Off at 6/1 in a 10 horse field
off just average drills, she broke a step slow under Bejarano and was 6th down the back side. She started
moving at the 1/4 pole, got to the outside for room, circled the 3 leaders and then quickly was 5 in front.
She crossed the wire 6 in front geared down the last sixteenth. O’Neill will probably look for a starter
allowance race, non winners of 2, and that will be just academic for this one. Another one with a bright
future and she will be a popular “single” in her next start.
KARMA KING (Nov. 23): Two year old filly for Craig Dollase made her third career start and first
around two turns in Saturday’s feature, the 100K Real Quiet Stakes on the main track. Off at 12/1 in a 10
horse field, Talamo sent “King” right to the front from the rail slot and she went pretty quick early for a 2
year old filly with splits of 23.06 and 46.73 over a tiring surface that has not been kind to early speed.
She didn’t lose the lead until the 1/8th pole and she dug in gamely all the way down the lane, salvaging a
3rd place finish beaten 3 lengths at the wire. This filly has all of her conditions available to her and the
very under rated Dollase barn will find a winning spot for her in the very near future. This one is a
JULIO’S GOLD ( Nov. 24): One way you can tell when a race horse gets very sharp is that they break
very alertly away from the gate, and conversely when they start going off form. This 3 year old filly for
Dan Hendricks will probably never be a stakes horse, but she is razor sharp right now as Hendricks had
just re-claimed her for $12,500 where she won very easily. Here she was in for $16,000 in an “open”
event sprinting on the main, and she jack rabbited out of the gate, took control of the race track and wired
the field on a track where it was hard to do so. This was her third win in 9 trips to the post and was
wisely claimed by Vann Belvoir. Up the ladder with this one.
November 25th, 2013 by John Scheidt
A two day c/o in the pick six was the highlight of racing this past week at Hollywood Park as the pool
grew to over $1.3 million on Sunday. But just as it was two weeks ago, the wager remains extremely
difficult to hit. Two weeks ago with a 2 day c/o the lone winner received $484,729, which was
purchased at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The cost of that ticket was $75,600. So that shows what you
are up against with a pick six c/o. This past Sunday the winning payoff was $169,375 with a number
of winning tickets, and the first 5 winners were all reasonable and none paid off at more than $11.40.
But in the night cap, Valarta came home in a maiden claimer at $38.20 and was extremely hard to find
in that field. In fact he should have paid $138.20 based on his past performances. This wager is
becoming much like the State Lottery. Throw the darts and pray.
• Possibly the best trainer in California, 66 year old Jerry Hollendorfer, won both of the stakes over the
weekend at Hollywood. Rousing Sermon (6.60) wore down Cyclometer in the On Trust Handicap on
Sunday and Tamarando (7.40) won the Real Quiet Stakes Saturday for two year olds going two turns.
The main track continues to favor closers in most races whether going short or long. The turf course
plays fair to all runners, but they will bring the inner rails in this week for the first time and I think that
will give the advantage to the late runners as they start the Turf Festival on Friday. The “Dorf” is now
loaded for the $750,000 Cash Call Futurity with Tamarando and Prevue stakes winner Shared Belief
on December 14. The former comes from off the pace and the latter will be on the pace and right now,
they are hard to separate.
• They kick off the Turf Festival this Friday with the Grade 2 Citation Handicap at a mile and a
sixteenth on the lawn, and Gary Mandella’s Silentio looks awfully hard to beat. He just finished a close
third to Wise Dan in the Breeders Cup Mile and he had some trouble in that race. And we all know
what kind of a horse Wise Dan is. Tiz Flirtatious heads up the field on Sunday for the Grade 1
Matriarch at a mile on the turf and will be joined by Better Lucky (who won the race last year at 35/1),
Dayatthespa, Discreet Marq, both coming in from the East, Tom Proctor’s Wishing Gate, Mike
Mitchell’s Egg Drop (who is all heart up near the pace), My GiGi, Stormy Lucy, and perhaps Halo
Dolly for the Dorf. Also on Sunday is the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at 10 furlongs on the grass and
that field will be headed up by Eastern horses Admiral Kitten and Jack Milton. By the way, Joel
Rosario, riding as good as anyone in the Country this year, will be on hand to ride Milton in the Derby
and Tiz Flirtatious in the Matriarch. Also expected for the Derby will be Amen Kitten, Gabriel Charles,
Rookie Sensation (who is fast developing into a runner), Infinite Magic, Seek Again, Dice Flavor, and
• Jockey Gary Stevens will be gone all this week as he is off to Japan to ride in the World Super Jockey
Series this weekend. He then heads to Hong Kong to ride in the Longines International Jockey
Challenge on Monday. Bejarano, Mike Smith, and Martin Pedroza will all be in New York this
Saturday to ride in the Cigar Mile. Bejarano rides Goldencents, Smith rides Laugh Track, and Pedroza
will be on sprinter Private Zone. Game On Dude (Smith up) will be at Churchill Downs this Friday for
the $500,000 Clark Handicap.
• Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring meet will run from Dec. 26 to April 20, but there will only be a 5 day
break, and then the meet continues from April 25 through June 29. The last two months they will have
twilight racing with a first post of 3 PM on Fridays, which is better than night racing.
November 20th, 2013 by John Scheidt
By nature and political persuasion, I consider myself a “libertarian” – “an advocate of free will” and “one who upholds the principles of unrestricted liberty”. In other words, less government is the best government.
Unfortunately, this country has been so corrupted by greed and personal aggrandizement that government of the people, by the people and for the people no longer exists. Washington has become even more corrupt than Don Corleone’s family. Everybody knows it, so everybody tries to get their share. The rich become richer and “justice” is essentially non-existent This is the word we live in.
Horse racing, of course, is nothing more than a microcosm of the “real” world where a few people hold the rest of us hostage because they control the purse strings. Corruption runs rampant in the game just as it does in big business, big government and, even, big-time religion. There is no place to hide as the liars, cheats and thieves make all the decisions in guise of benevolent dictators. The voting box is controlled by the rich and, hence, “change” is impossible. Just see the O’Bama administration for proof positive.
In a couple of days there’ll be another congressional hearing to discuss a bill that would give a single agency the power to enforce racing’s drug-testing rules in all U.S. racing jurisdictions. Now, I’m all for a uniform code that protects horses and horseplayers from the nefarious actions of unscrupulous trainers and veterinarians who currently do their best to divide and conquer. To say these people aren’t out there doing what they can to ruin horse racing while getting rich in the process would be a wide-open display of incredible naivety.
The racing press in the U.S. has disappeared for the most part, leaving white-collar criminals with trainer licenses to do whatever they wish knowing full well that their actions, even if detected, will essentially be swept under the rug in the name of “protecting” the game. The chain of enforcement has totally broken down.
So, now a few Congressmen might want to get involved. The same people who block progress in order to keep their jobs; the same ones who play politics when lives are on the line; the same ones who swear an allegiance to the flag and, then, do whatever puts more money in their pockets. These people can’t even keep the government running but, every once in a while, they decide they can do a better job of regulating things they know nothing about.
You get the feeling that the powers in racing would want to be ahead of the curve on this one and actually get together and come up with a system that works. Instead, they simply pin their hopes on the probability that Congress will do nothing of significance and that business will go on as usual. And, they’re probably right.
There are good people in the game, folks who believe changes need to be made in order to preserve the integrity of the sport. Unfortunately, they are generally out-shouted by those who are perfectly happy with racing being splintered beyond recognition because they like it the way it is. After all, they’re making plenty of money.
The entire Lasix debate pretty much presents the problem in a nutshell. Lasix does help a few horses continue to campaign but, in the long run, it dilutes the breed while leading to generations of equines who are nothing more than “crack babies” born and bred to be bleeders. U.S. racing’s dependence on Lasix is about as bad as the country’s dependence on foreign oil. DRF columnist Jay Hovdey recently collected the following post-Breeders’ Cup responses from journalists in the U.K. that pretty much define the rest of the world’s opinion of Lasix as a race-day staple.
“To any rational mind, or to those who love horse racing, the permitted use of Lasix represents a stain on the sport that needs to be wiped away in the interests of credibility” – John O’Brien of Ireland’s ‘Independent’.
“The Breeders’ Cup needs to be staged on a level field, and, if horses cannot run without drugs, they should not be running at all.” – Greg Wood of England’s ‘The Guardian’.
“It’s a huge ask for our horses to compete with the ‘septic tanks’ in their own backyard and I’m convinced the only rule in U.S. racing is there are no rules”. – Garry Owen of Scotland’s Daily Record.
The Euros racing on Lasix at Santa Anita, of course, did well while winning four events and coming close in the Classic. Those that didn’t (outside the two-year-old races where the substance was prohibited) got nothing.
Now, even the do-nothing Congress may want to be heard. They probably won’t but that doesn’t mean racing in this country shouldn’t get its house in order before they do.
November 18th, 2013 by John Scheidt
PAPA SMITTY (Nov. 15): Two year old gelding for Peter Miller made start #2 of his career in Friday’s
4th race, a maiden claimer for $30,000 at 6.5 furlongs on the main track. Off at 13/1 in this 10 horse
field, “Smitty” came out running and set all the fractions in a quick opening quarter of 21.95 and a 45.12
half. He was still 2 lengths clear at the 1/8th pole but then the quick early fractions took their toll and he
faded to third beaten 4 lengths at the wire. This was a big step up from his debut and further
improvement should be coming in start #3 for a very good barn. His speed is hard to deal with at this
level and a race at 5.5 furlongs or even 6 would be ideal. Tab and follow.
ARTEMIS (Nov. 15): Two year old filly for the “Dorf” made her debut Friday in a maiden special
weight sprint on the main track. Off at 9/1 in this 10 horse field off some very solid 5 and 6 furlong drills,
she was bumped on both sides leaving the gate and got away in last place early. Bejarano then rushed her
up a bit to try and get her back in the race and actually did as she was in contention for the lead by the 1/4
pole. Then she got fanned 8 wide (yes, 8 wide) as she tried to rally by horses at the top of the lane. At this
point she lost all realistic chance of winning the race and checked in third beaten only 2.5 lengths. In my
opinion Hollendorfer saddled the best horse in this race. An expensive purchase, (280K) she is bred to
run long, but wherever the Dorf puts her next time, she wins. Be ready.
I’LL WRAP IT UP (Nov. 16): Two year old colt for Doug O’Neill tried 3 new things here and passed
the test in all 3 in his 4th career trip to the post for maiden special weights at a mile on the lawn. He tried
grass for the first time, two turns for the first time, and this was his first time racing without blinkers. Off
at 7/2 in this 10 horse field, he broke well to contend for the lead, stayed there until the 1/4 pole when the
heavy favorite loomed up on his outside. The favorite went right on by and it looked like “Wrap It Up”
was going to fold his tent, but he found another gear and battled back all the way down the lane beaten
just 2 lengths at the wire. This son of Tapit got a lot out of this race and he’s one that should be able to
find the Winners Circle in the very near future. Worth following.
SMALL MOVES ( Nov. 16): Three year old filly for Joshua Litt isn’t really bred for the turf but she
tried it again for the second time against older runners for the first allowance condition sprinting on the
main track. And she almost pulled it off at 30/1. In a field of 11, Garcia sent her right to the lead and she
didn’t give up that lead until the 1/16th pole when the favorite wore her down. She gamely held on for
second and was beaten 2 lengths at the wire by a course specialist, Et Tu Walker. Her next start will be
her third off an 8 month layoff, and I think that one will be better than this. She can knock out this first
condition on grass or on the main track and will still maintain good wagering value. Be ready for this
November 18th, 2013 by John Scheidt
The highlight of this past week’s racing was the pick six c/o of $110,000 plus into Sunday’s card. With
the c/o the pool grew to over $700,000 and only one person got it right for a payoff of over $484,000.
The two toughest horses to find in the 6 race sequence were Casey’s Clem (40.60) and Warren’s Judy
(20.80) in the finale. Well our Tim Osterman had both of them right on top yesterday and he made
“Judy” a Best Bet as well. Casey’s Clem beat a 1/5 favorite (Yana) that everybody considered a “lock.”
But as we all know, in racing there just isn’t any “locks.” The main track had been playing pretty fair
the first two weeks with the outside lanes being the best. But on Sunday, they ran 8 races on the main
track and 7 of the 8 races were won from off the pace, some well off the pace. And the inside couldn’t
have been too bad either as Casey’s Clem closed from off the pace on the rail. The turf course does
play fair but off the pace horses do have the edge. They have kept the rails out either 10 or 15 feet the
entire meet and are saving the inside for the Turf Festival which starts on Friday, Nov. 29. The Super
High Five wager, a bet I’ve never tried and probably never will, has a two day c/o of $84,000 plus into
Thursday’s program. Racing does resume on Thursday with their regular 4 day week.
• The best stakes race this weekend will be on Sunday with the On Trust Handicap for older runners at
the unique distance of 7.5 furlongs. This race plays more like a “route” race from a handicapping
standpoint yet it only has one turn. The race starts way back in the chute and appears to be an
elongated sprint. Bruce Headley’s Cyclometer, who won on opening day, heads up the field along with
Gary Mandella’s Mobilized, who won the race in 2012, and the Dorf’s Rousing Sermon, who gets the
leading rider, Rafael Bejarano. Mike Smith has the mount on Cyclometer and Corey Nakatani, who
has been riding much better of late, has the mount on Mobilized.
• They assigned weights on Sunday for the Grade 2 $250,000 Citation Handicap, which will be run on
Friday Nov. 29 at a mile and a sixteenth on the infield turf course. Za Approval was assigned the top
weight of 123 pounds followed closely by Indy Point at 122. But neither of them are expected to run.
The probable high weights that will run will be Jeronimo at 120 and Vagabond Shoes at 120. Jeronimo
won the Citation in 2011. At 119 are Winning Prize for Neil Drysdale and Gary Mandella’s Silentio,
who just ran a very close third to Wise Dan in the Breeders Cup Mile. Winning Prize won his U.S.
debut by 4 lengths at Del Mar in 1:32 and 4/5 and flirted with the course record. Other contenders in
the race assigned lower weights will be He Be Fire N Ice at 118, Summer Front at 118, My Best
Brother at 116 and a pair at 115, Big Bane Theory and Bio Pro. It will be a very good race with both of
the high weights very vulnerable.
• Most of our customers at Turfdom are in retirement, or at least very close to it, and much like me, they
got started in racing back in the 60′s and 70′s when race tracks would be filled on the weekends with
60-70,000 patrons. We had superstars back then like Dr. Fager, Buckpasser, Damascus, and of course
Secretariet in 73 and then more stars in the late 70′s with Spectacular Bid, Affirmed, Alydar, and the
great Seattle Slew. But racing has been on the decline the last couple of decades and mostly with
regards to on track attendance. They just made it much too easy to bet from home or some simulcast
facility that’s close to home. But to me, there is no substitute for being at the track. That’s why it’s
encouraging when we reported two weeks ago that Keeneland in Kentucky had a record Fall meet, not
just in handle but a 10% increase in on track attendance. Well the Fall meet at Belmont Park just
concluded and they had equally impressive numbers. Handle was up almost 10% and on track
attendance was up 11%. We know the Summer spots like Saratoga and Del Mar still do well, but this
is very encouraging for all of us who still love this sport. Maybe, just maybe, racing isn’t dying after