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From The Publisher

7 Page 7: Horses to Watch

Every day page updates with a live “BUZZ” play in-today. Bookmark!

30 Winning Angles:

Trainer Intent…in Derby Preps

Brian Nadeau dissects the points race and its impact on players.

36 Gotta Have Faith

9 The Teaser

Topics that titillate the racing mind.

Forgiving horseplayers can be rewardedin Louisville, as Jerry Shottenkirk can attest.

13 Cover Story:

39 Meadowlands Rolls into

Madness Marches into April

Championship Season

Keeneland may frustrate, but fascinates, Jeremy Plonk writes.

Nick Salvi highlights the “big” in the BigM racingto come.

17Legends Gallery

44 Handicapping the Early

Photos by Z features Mike Smith and last year's Ashland winner.

21 Back to Night School – Speed Figures

Futurities of the Season

AQHA handicapper Martha Claussen tackles the 2YOs.

48 April Calendar

Stakes, key dates, Race of Month

Legendary players from the best of Night School, including Len Friedman, Jerry Brown, Dick Jerardi, Ed DeRosa et al.

Our marked past performances!

26 Questions for Caton

57 Galloping Out

Renowned handicapper Caton Bredar takes your Qs each issue!

53 Playing On Paper

Lack of Effort is Never an Excuse 3

From the Publisher Free initiatives like Night School, live racing chats, the

Countdown to the Crown Preseason

Annual , on-track seminars and

more, all have made Horse Player NOW a front-line force in the quest to develop racing’s customer base.

So when I decided it was time to bring my passion of magazine publishing to the electronic world full-time, the price tag for Horse Player NOW Magazine was the easiest decision of all – free. I believe horseplayers deserve something good – and as a racing industry, it’s the least we can do to equip customers with the best chance to enjoy the product. If I can’t sell this publication to the industry, it’s my fault and theirs. I’ve never met a player who continues to lose and comes back with a smile on the face. Each of us has a desire to solve the puzzle, even if less frequently than we like. Each month, we’ll help make those puzzle pieces fit together a little easier – that’s what we do. – JP

Horse Player NOW Magazine Copyright 2014 Horse Player NOW All Rights Reseved

Editor, Publisher, Designer Jeremy Plonk Contributing Writers Caton Bredar Martha Claussen Jerry Shottenkirk Brian Nadeau Nick Salvi Ed DeRosa Photography Chief Enzina Mastrippolito ( Contributing Photographers Dustin Orona / Remington Michael Burns / Woodbine Michael Lisa / Meadowlands



From the ALL-Ways Database

More than any synthetic track I’ve studied, previous synthetic success is a huge indicator of race-day success at Woodbine. The best performing horses on synthetic do very well on Woodbine’s Polytrack: A 2.04 Impact Value for the topperforming synthetic horse with an ROI of +17% in main track sprints last year. Woodbine also is one of the better tracks for sprinters closing, boasting a 1.59-1.75 Impact Value range for various late pace ratings and an ROI of +17%-28% Main track routes similarly have value in identifying the late speed, as the top late speed rating found in the Ultimate PPs (LP) has an impact value of 2.34 and an ROI of +5% .



We update this page of the digital magazine every racing day–keep coming back! Each day’s play derived directly from that day’s official…

SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2014 Race 7 - Santa Anita #2 Shame On Alex (3-1) *** Our Eyes: Trainer Ellis brings this 5yo back from GG, where he failed miserably. Son of Afleet Alex has a win and a 3rd on the SA dirt, speed jockey Maldonado gets aboard and he is 36% with Ellis. – Jeff Nahill Jeff's Playbook: 1 unit to win, 2 units to place and 3 units to show.

Daily double of #2 Shame On Alex in 7th and #7 Journey On in 8th. OUR EYES. YOUR PRIZE. Full Report $10 daily ($15 Sat.) … Subscriptions $49.95 /month AND $100 / 3 months





From Courtney Love to Barry Teaser, definition: A male Gibb to Barney horse used at breeding farms to determine whether the Dinosaur, a mare is ready to receive a stallion. Also, perhaps the eventually it will most unfulfilling occupation in the universe. all make sense. Gulfstream’s Grassy Knoll Conspiracy theorists haven‟t been this busy since Dallas ‟63.

Rainbow Six carryover pot alive until a mandatory payout June 29. Self-professed truth-seekers allege that on Feb. 22 Gulfstream head honcho Tim Ritvo phoned track stewards from the winner‟s circle to inquire into an incident in the final race. The original results, if permitted to stand, would have resulted in a complete payout of the Rainbow Six pot and a reset of the carryover figure to zero.

In addition to worldwide machinations regarding vanished flight 370 (that means you Courtney Love),Thoroughbred racing social media outlets have been all a twitter (pun intended) over the gigantic Gulfstream Park When the dust cleared, Rainbow Six carryover. #12 Collinito was, According to conspiracy indeed, demoted for theorists, the suits at Somewhere over the interference in the Gulfstream Park are Rainbow Six… stretch and replaced in willing to go the extra the winner‟s circle by mile and one-quarter classic #13 Strategic Keeper. The race‟s distance in order to keep the „official‟ sign triggered multiple 9

winning Rainbow Six tickets and resuscitated a carryover pot for another day. Even bolder theorists suggest that on March 16, following a difficult sequence of winners in the first four legs of the Rainbow Six ($10.80, $62, $30.60, $5) that could have jeopardized a growing $3 million-plus carryover, Gulfstream suits conspired with jockey Edgar Prado to cause the next-to-last race to be declared „no contest.‟ Prado, allegedly, sacrificially dismounted Go Go Romeo in the early stages of the mile and onesixteenth turf race and then remained on the track feigning injury. As the field turned into the stretch, by order of the stewards and to avoid the fallen Prado, track announcer Larry Collmus alerted all that the race had been declared „no contest.‟ That series of events crowned every runner in the field a winner in that leg of the Rainbow Six, effectively negating any chance for a single-ticket sheet. Another longshot ($29.40) winner in the finale couldn‟t cause separation and cued the Bee Gees with the Rainbow Six theme song, “Stayin Alive.”

Now, The Teaser‟s a confirmed skeptic – „Born at night, but not last night‟ – so I‟m not above buying some conspiracy stock. And, admittedly, conspiracy nuts got it right in Dallas; however, they‟re way off the mark here. There‟s no CIA operating at Uncle Frank‟s Hallandale joint. Imagine what you will, but now that the Rainbow Six carryover has grown into the millions and fields are getting shorter as the meet winds down, a single ticket is as likely to occur as six consecutive hard sixes at the craps table. Like Vegas, this house has a built-in edge. They don‟t need to conspire to make the nearly impossible act accordingly.

Purple With Envy Did you hear about Barney and his January £2m betting coup across the pond? No, not that Barney, the purple anthropomorphic T. Rex. We‟re talkin‟ about Barney Curley, the 74-year-old former trainer who could don a pair of dark glasses and hat to pass for an older version of Heisenberg…or as 10

somebody‟s kindly greatgrandfather. And ain‟t they always the mugs that did it? Curley was the mastermind behind victories by four horses at three different British race courses at long odds that all could be linked in some way to him – including two he had trained earlier in their careers. Also, coincidentally, either Des Donovan or John Butler, former employees of Curley, trained three of the four winners. The winners were well-backed in two, three and four-horse parlays. So, how did the form look on these horses? Glad you asked.  Eye of the Tiger, formerly owned and trained by Curley, had not run for 481 days and was making his first start for Donovan.  Seven Summits, owned and trained by Curley until April, had not run since June.  Indus Valley, also trained by Donovan, had not run for 700 days. In his four races for Donovan, he had been beaten an aggregate of 104 lengths.

 Low Key, trained by Curley‟s former assistant John Butler, hadn‟t run in 11 months (distant last of seven). Cha-ching! Forget about „giving a horse a race‟ … Barney gave „em years! And he gave the bookies hell to pay. It wasn‟t the first time either. In 2010, Curley had been the mastermind behind a coup that netted more than £1m. That, too, involved four horses, three trained by him and one he once owned. Unlike in the States, where huge pick six winners hide their identities like they just stole money from the Sunday collection plate, in England big winners are proud of their accomplishments. Curley faced the press and called his coup „satisfying.‟ He didn‟t want to say much else, he explained, because he didn‟t want to distract attention from his charity, Direct Aid For Africa, which aims to improve educational standards in Zambia. You can bet with Curley‟s £2m gambling coup, soon there‟s gonna be some real Einsteins running around Zambia. - HPN




MADNESS MARCHES INTO APRIL By Jeremy Plonk Horse Player NOW Imagine a pick-up game in your driveway in which not only neighborhood kids showed up, but buses of high-caliber players from all over the country dropped off ringer after ringer. Sharp-shooters from Indiana … High-flyers from Los Angeles … Cross-over dribblers from Brooklyn who can break your knees with every drive to the hoop. If that sounds like even too much madness for March, flip the calendar and just try handicapping the action at Keeneland. Horse racing‟s madness happens every April and October in Lexington, only fitting in the heart of the “big blue nation.” Keeneland‟s amazing display of confluence is unparalleled in American racing. It‟s not

uncommon to see a race with six or seven different last-out prep locations among the field. Add in the diversity that the Polytrack synthetic surface has created, and you can find fields in which all 10 runners exit events on different footing … even if some came from the same prep locale. Comparing apples to apples rarely becomes applicable at Keeneland, and, thus, provides the answer to why this meet can be so darned trying on the mind, and, in turn, the wallet. While media outlets

Chat live every Keeneland racing day with Horse Player NOW experts, featuring Jeremy Plonk. Sessions begin 30 minutes to post each racing day at in the “Live Racing” section next to the video! 13

some horses handle it far better have taken it upon themselves to than others. The greatest predictor critique the Polytrack surface at of Poly success is a horse‟s every turn, sometimes because it previous record on the surface; doesn‟t fit their proprietary agenda and when not present, his of selling speed figures, the opinion pedigree. But it can be argued that here is that Keeneland‟s melting any 15-day meet with 23 different pot has much more to do with its last-prep locales level of difficulty than among its winners anything man-made, would be tough including the oftPay close attention sledding. maligned Polytrack. to the Track Maintenance page at Knowing the strength With field sizes of races at Keeneland consistently in the midGallop-Master in Spring requires you 9s to mid-10s understand the class of depending on class harrows at 2 inches races held at are friendly to speed; level, the bulky fields Gulfstream, Tampa Bay at Keeneland are two3 inches neutral; Downs, Turfway Park, fold. They further 4 inches deepen the explain the diversity, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, surface and give and sometimes as far while simultaneously west as Santa Anita. upping the level of closers their best It‟s fact: 23 different difficulty for shot at success. last-prep locations horseplayers to land were represented just on a winner. Favorites by WINNERS at the 2013 won 42 of 115 races on the Poly at Keeneland Spring Meet ... in 15 the 2013 Spring Meet (36.5%) days of racing, folks! The Fall Meet after going 32 for 108 (29.6%) in even is more diverse. Layoff horses ‟12 Spring. The average winner are extremely common this time of dropped from 6.5-1 to 5.8-1, yearyear coming off winter breaks, too. to-year. The inconsistent You easily can see the challenges. performance by the public rates a curious dynamic. But last Spring‟s The Polytrack adds another layer to strike rate and average payoff the mental lasagna, no doubt, as show that the public can prove Chat live every Keeneland racing day with Horse Player NOW experts, featuring Jeremy Plonk. Sessions begin 30 minutes to post each racing day at in the “Live Racing” section next to the video! 14

capable of the challenges Keeneland presents. Field size generally is a complaint – as in they are too small to be attractive to bettors. Not at Keeneland. The „13 Spring saw an unfathomable 60 of 115 Polytrack

races boast fields of 10 or more. Only 12 went to post with 6 or fewer starters. So what makes Keeneland such a two-fold dilemma? I‟ll try to rank the factors from most important to somewhat less important.

Why Keeneland Frustrates and Fascinates 1. Far-flung field diversity. Horses from 25-30 different last-prep locales will come together. 2. Brevity of meet. With 15 days, finding/capitalizing on trends & streaks is a different task. 3. Slower paces than dirt. Evaluating race shape is difficult when jockeys fear emptying the tank. 4. Industry-best field sizes. There are few free bingo spaces & short fields for multi-race bettors. 5. Polytrack maintenance/weather. Consult website‟s maintenance page daily; beware headwinds/tailwinds. 6. Light local resumes. Most get 1 start per meet, so even a 5YO may only have 3-4 Kee starts. 7. Layoff horses from winter. Particularly in turf miles, Kee is a favorite Spring return spot from break. 8. All-star trainers & jockeys. Who‟s Who makes identifying who‟s live more homogenous. Chat live every Keeneland racing day with Horse Player NOW experts, featuring Jeremy Plonk. Sessions begin 30 minutes to post each racing day at in the “Live Racing” section next to the video! 15

So what’s a horseplayer to do? I‟ve handicapped Keeneland probably as seriously as anyone in the Polytrack era, both for personal play and because of my association with the track. Keeneland came to me in 2008 and asked my opinion as a horseplayer as to what it would take to develop consumer confidence in the brave new world of synthetics. My message then still remains: openly provide information that‟s helpful to bettors. I developed a database of every race run to that point and tried to look at winning patterns and trends, and that initial research morphed into the online Polycapping database that has been free to the public ever since. What the Polycapping database provides is a snapshot of what is successful at Keeneland in almost any situation. It really has nothing to do with Polytrack; it could be called Keenelandcapping and be

equally effective. By filtering the various columns of data, you can find winning trends in sprints, by trainer, by class level, by distance and more. By gathering all the information together in one place, it helps alleviate two of the most difficult factors outlined in the graphic: diversity and brevity. Here are my Spring trends to watch, all gleaned directly from that free Polycapping database:  Gulfstream preppers win about one-third of all Kee Spring races on Polytrack and about one-half of all on turf.  44 of 49 Spring wins for Mike Maker have come on Poly, and twothirds in routes.  Favorites are 32-60 in the 2yo baby races with 55-60 showing a Kee work prior.  Unheralded Indygo Shiner sired 4 winners in 2013 on Kee Poly (avg 21-1 odds) – the same # as Kitten‟s Joy. -HPN

Plonk’s Daily Kee blog link.

Chat live every Keeneland racing day with Horse Player NOW experts, featuring Jeremy Plonk. Sessions begin 30 minutes to post each racing day at in the “Live Racing” section next to the video! 16

Chat live every Keeneland racing day with Horse Player NOW experts, featuring Jeremy Plonk. Sessions begin 30 minutes to post each racing day at in the “Live Racing� section next to the video! 17


HANDICAPPING HINTS Polytrack Sprints Turf Routes Prime Power is good here for making sure you have top contenders covered. The top four Primer Power horses have an Impact Value of 1.20 while 5th and lower is .5. Ideal tool for making sure you have a decent price(s) covered in a spread leg of a multi-race wager. Turf Sprints Early Speed crushes here with various early pace numbers (Brohamer, Quirin, Brisnet Pace rating) all with Impact Values more than 2.00 and ROIs more than 20%.

Top Prime Power has an impact value of 2.39, but an ROI of 16%, so no real edge in the straight pools. But top Prime Power horses can often be singled with more confidence. More than best, last-out Brisnet Speed Rating, horses with the best two ratings from the last three starts perform well—2.65 impact value on the top-ranked horse in this category with a +17% ROI. If just looking at the last-out Speed Rating, a top figure by at least 7 points wins 55% of the time with a 45% ROI. 7 points is also the magic number with Prime Power. Top-ranked horses with at least a 7-point gap also win 55% of the time, though the ROI is less robust at 2% – still not bad for a value single. Ed DeRosa

– from the ALL-Ways Database 19


This month‟s topic of review:

SPEED FIGURES Since 2011, Night School has been teaching novice and expert handicappers alike in the finer points of playing the races. Through live chats, videos and radio simulcasts, the best in the industry have shared their expertise free with horseplayers. In each issue of Horse Player NOW Magazine, we go “Back to Night School” with a look at some of the high points of past lessons.

“Speed Figures” has been an annual topic in Night School and has lured some of the game‟s premier creators and applicators of numbers. In 2011, Dick Jerardi of the Beyer Associates, Ed DeRosa of BRIS, Jerry Brown of ThoroGraph, Len Friedman of Ragozin and AQHA‟s Jen Perkins shared their practices with speed and performance figures in a live chat. In 2012, Horse Player NOW‟s Jeremy Plonk hosted/produced a mini-documentary video with Andrew Beyer that was featured during the discussion of the figs. Beyer returned to class in 2013

Learn more about handicapping every Tuesday (8:30 pm ET) in Night School!

Visit for a complete list of websites offering the racing industry‟s FREE national online fan education program. 21

with an appearance on a radio simulcast discussion of the numbers, where Dave Siegal of Trackmaster and Ed Burgart of Los Alamitos contributed perspective from the harness and AQHA worlds, and their increased usage of speed figures. All Night School archives on the subject remain available free to read, listen and view. In this “Back to Night School” edition, we‟ll sample some of the best moments from the past three seasons as we have discussed “Speed Figures.” “Speed Figures” Archives: 2011 Chat: Roundtable link 2012 Video: Andy Beyer - link

2013 Radio: Roundtable - link As said by Thoro-Graph‟s Jerry Brown to Night Schoolers, “How many figure-makers does it take to change a light bulb? One to do it, and 20 to say, „I did it better‟.”

Do speed/performance figures stand on their own? Jerry Brown (Thoro-Graph): Nothing is a stand-alone, not even our figures. We have a lot of ancillary info on the page about trainers and pedigree that helps with situational handicapping. Ed DeRosa (BRIS): They're best utilized when you don't over-think them. Most times the fastest horse really is the fastest horse. 90 is better than 80 all of the time. Obviously the nuances of handicapping & the pari-mutuel system require further study, but trust the fig if the price is right. What are the best ways to put the numbers to work? Len Friedman (Ragozin): If what you're talking about is a horse who is just faster than all the others, then there is not likely to be decent odds. The plays, today, are based on patterns of numbers and timing … Lifetime patterns and development are the best opportunities to use speed figures to get a betting edge – the public can often figure out who ran fastest last time.

Learn more about handicapping every Tuesday (8:30 pm ET) in Night School!

Visit for a complete list of websites offering the racing industry‟s FREE national online fan education program. 22

Dick Jerardi (Beyer Associates): Try to determine which figure is likely to win today's race. And then, after looking at the race shape, decide which horse is most likely to earn that figure. Jerry Brown (Thoro-Graph): Faster TODAY is always better. The key to using figures is to recognize they tell you what happened in the past. Accurate figures both enable you to compare one horse to another and to himself – to look at his form cycle, to figure out how he will run today. Inside the Numbers Ed DeRosa (BRIS): The BRIS Speed Rating relies most heavily on raw times and variant. We do not account for ground loss, trouble, weight, wind, or run-up. We also make very few adjustments. Maybe one in 250500 races gets adjusted & that's after heavy peer review. Jen Perkins (AQHA): {Comparing the traditional speed index to today‟s Q speed figures} A speed index does not take weather or track condition

into account, unfortunately. You also can't directly compare speed index numbers from different tracks {as you can with today‟s AQHA speed figures}. Len Friedman (Ragozin): Patterns have two aspects. First is the evaluation of what direction the horse is going in general; and second is how to evaluate the immediate pattern – that is deciding if today is the day the horse figures to run one of its better efforts, or if its recent effort figures to set it back in the short run … I can remember from the sixties, the reaction of surprise when I would say that the reason to play against a horse is because it ran too fast last time. The idea of handicapping each horse against itself is the biggest theoretical contribution to handicapping, I think, from the SHEETS. Jerry Brown (ThoroGraph): In the end all variants are based on the figure histories of the horses, one way or another. -HPN

Learn more about handicapping every Tuesday (8:30 pm ET) in Night School!

Visit for a complete list of websites offering the racing industry‟s FREE national online fan education program. 23



Learn winning angles and approaches for playing racing’s “second” surfaces from the experts.

Out-thinking yourself? Need a slump-buster? Riding a big-time high? Top players share what’s on their mind. APRIL 15 MONEY MANAGEMENT Picking the right horse is half the battle. The experts teach how to make your money talk.



Renowned pro clockers give their insight into morning training & what to look for.

Live chat with top handicappers as we dig deep into the Derby & Oaks Day cards.


Visit for the racing industry’s FREE national online fan education program.


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Each issue, we’ll take your questions for Caton Bredar, Horse Player NOW analyst, Night School co-host and noted reporter for HRTV. HOW DID YOU GET INTO HORSE RACING? Having worked in the racing public eye, so to speak, for nearly the past 25 years I get asked a lot of questions. Fortunately, I love to talk with racing fans as much as I love horses and racing! By far and away, the most common question I'm asked is how I got into the sport, and I wish I had something more elaborate, but I was, essentially, born into horse racing – Thoroughbred as well as Standardbred. At the time I was born, my father, Ray Metzler, was training a few horses at the Chicago area tracks and his new wife, Cathie Atkinson Metzler, was the daughter of Hall of Fame jockey-turned-senior state steward Ted Atkinson (aka "The Slasher"), and also the daughter of Martha Shank Atkinson, whose family was deeply involved in

harness racing. My grandmother's father built and ran several racetracks in Ohio, and her mother was from a prominent harness racing family in Russia and the US. Along the same lines, the secondmost frequently asked question is where my name comes from: that prominent racing family was the Caton family; hence the name. By the time I was three, my Dad was working as Farm Manager for the largest racing and breeding farm in Illinois, Rogers Red Top Farm in Libertyville, and later he operated one of the largest horse transport companies in the Midwest, Carey Horse Vans.

Pose your questions each week in Night School – or by emailing! 26

I grew up around the farm and track, rode in the van with my Dad and spent any free time I had around horses; so, you could say, I was bred top and bottom to be in horse racing. Although, the genes don't always mean everything – my sister is a high school math teacher! (She loves racing, too.) WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SYNTHETIC TRACKS, AND SHOULD PREP RACES RUN ON SYTHETICS COUNT FOR POINTS FOR THE DERBY? This question is particularly timely with the Spiral at Turfway Park just having run and the Blue Grass at Keeneland coming up. First of all, while I think the jury is still out on synthetic tracks, early studies and analysis suggest they reduce the incidence of catastrophic injuries in horses. If that holds true over time, then I'm a fan. So far as handicapping the surface, I think the two important things to keep in mind are: not all synthetic surfaces are the same; Polytrack plays differently than Tapeta, which plays differently

than Pro-Ride, and so on. Having ridden (not in races, but astride a lead pony) over various synthetic tracks, I can attest to the differences, from consistency to temperature to buoyancy. The second important thing to remember is that handicapping a synthetic track is no different from handicapping a turf course or traditional dirt track. Handicap the pace, the competition and the likelihood a horse will handle the particular surface / circumstance. Don't assume just because the horse is bred to handle turf, he will handle synthetic. While that's sometimes the case, just as many horses bred for the dirt handle synthetic as well. Consult lists of sires that have so far thrown a high percentage of synthetic runners and then, handicap just like you would any other racetrack. As far as synthetic stakes races as Derby preps, I would first admit I'm not a fan of the point system as it currently exists and believe the original graded stakes earnings as a means of preference

Pose your questions each week in Night School – or by emailing! 27

for the Kentucky Derby was a more equitable and logical system. That being said, both the Spiral and Blue Grass would be key prep races under either system – and rightfully so. Historically and today, those races have been important three-year-old stakes races producing horses who have won or competed favorably in the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races {i.e. Street Sense below}.

Even since the advent of synthetic tracks, both races have produced Kentucky Derby winners and, statistically, compare favorably with most other graded 3-year-old stakes. As long as both races are graded and continue to offer large enough purses to lure top contenders, I think each has a rightful place as an important race on the road to the Run for the Roses.

Pose your questions each week in Night School – or by emailing! 28

MORE WITH OUR TEAM Watch our Pimlico Weekend Previews during key stakes dates leading up to the Preakness! Videos will be posted this month for racing April 5, 19 and 26. Then join us in the Preakness infield! The Countdown to the Queen’s Plate weekly scouting report debuts this month – accompanying Jeremy Plonk’s ninth season of Countdown to the Crown every Friday! Follow it through July 6, when HP NOW will be on-hand teaching the fans! Check out Night School co-host Steve Byk’s superlative daily magazine show for the news/newsmakers. Horse Player NOW’s Jeremy Plonk joins At The Races every Tuesday during the Night School season to preview the evening’s lesson. Capitol OTB handicapper Seth Merrow, founder of, interviews HPN’s Brian Nadeau and Jeremy Plonk during regular weekly visits to this upstate New York and web-streamed telecast. Catch Night School co-host and HPN handicapper Caton Bredar as she covers the action coast-to-coast for HRTV.


“Trainer Intent” How to Profit from Final Round of Derby Preps By Brian Nadeau As the days—and the prep races— to the 140th Kentucky Derby wind down, handicappers are beginning the sorting-out process as to which 3-year-olds they fancy … and which ones they plan on playing against. Often, opinions are formed before the final round of important preps, and then either reinforced or knocked down, depending on how your fancied 3-year-old fared in his final start before the Run for the Roses.

One of the most misunderstood parts of handicapping the 3YO ranks is just how to attack those final preps and how to interpret their results. They require thinking in the present, while also keeping an eye on the future, as the balance between squeezing the lemon dry and leaving some juice for Louisville is a tricky one.

Uncle Mo’s Breeders’ Cup win secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby gate, so why take a horse like that at 1-9 odds in the 2011 Wood Memorial with little to gain? – Photos By Z 30

But above all else, the final round of preps offer the most important thing a bottom-line handicapper really cares about – the chance to make a big score. That is, if you are looking in the right places.

round prep race, resist the temptation of who is running and first examine the points list.

points standings (LINK).

―Already in‖ means a horse already has earned enough qualifying points to make the Derby. What that number is remains to be seen (again, this is something you’ll need to handicap to get an idea of), but somewhere in the 30-point range safely will suffice. ―Close‖ would be a horse who has earned a good chunk of points this year

Deciphering What it All Means

Now that you have the list of points, you can begin to sort First Things First through the contenders in the prep Clearly the final round of preps will races, and how they stack up with bring together most of the best 3each other on the list. Here’s year-olds in training. These races where you will actually need to offer the most handicap the Final Round Derby Preps qualifying points points race and March 29 – La Derby, Fla Derby for the Kentucky try and figure out April 5 – SA Derby, Wood Derby (the points April 12 – Blue Grass, Ark Derby just how many Qualifying points: 100-40-20-10 points it will take breakdown is 100-40-20-10), the most money to make the Derby field. and the most prestige. But before I slot them in three categories: you look over the PPs and get into 1. Already in; who looks good and who doesn’t, 2. Close; stop and do something first: pull 3. Need a Career Best. up the current Derby qualifying The points system is the entire basis of our subject. The race for points (or money, as it was just two years ago) is what makes up the starting gate for the Derby. The more points you have, the better chance of getting into the big race. So, before getting into the nuts and bolts of each final-


and needs nothing more than a solid finish and a handful of points in his final prep to make the Derby in the 20-point range. ―Needs a Career Best‖ is a horse with few, if any, points and likely needs a 1-2 finish to crack the Derby lineup. Again, this isn’t an exact science, but it is absolutely pivotal before proceeding – and the entire basis of what we’re looking for.

How to Apply What You Find Once you have a good idea of what it will take to get into the Derby and each horse’s current points situation, you can scroll the contenders of each race and assign them to their respective categories. Basically, anyone who has won a March prep race will be ―Already in‖ with 50 points. Anyone who hasn’t, or maybe is a late bloomer, is going to fall into the ―Close‖ or ―Needs a Career Best‖ slot. Far too often we look at the favorite in the preps and think,

―They’re the best horse, one of the top Derby contenders, so there’s no reason to think they won’t win

or be right there in their last start prior to Kentucky.‖ On the face of it, that’s sound thinking. Why wouldn’t the best horse win or run second? After all, he’s done it all winter long, right? Think back to the aforementioned lemon. If you train a top 3-yearold, the last thing you want to do is ―gut‖ him in a prep race when the Derby is three to five weeks away ... especially if your horse is an ―Already in‖ or a ―Close.‖ Starting to see the line of thinking? Handicapping often rewards the contrarian – the one who zigs when others zag – and nothing is more contrarian than trying to beat the best horse(s) in a race after they have proven their worth. But when the top horses aren’t quite cranked, and just want a good, solid race before the Derby, they become susceptible to the modest ones who have the screws as tight as they can be turned – and whose trainers will worry about Louisville when, and if, they get there. 32

Looking Back in Time The past 20 years or so have brought out some prime examples of both sides of the coin. Back in the money era, when earnings determined who made the Derby, a trio of examples comes to mind. First, let’s look back at the 1999 Blue Grass, when an under-theradar colt named Menifee (above) stormed from the back of the pack to beat Cat Thief, Vicar, Lemon Drop Kid and Wondertross, amongst others. Menifee, with just a second in the Tampa Bay Derby to his credit, had only $30,000 in graded stakes earnings to that

point and desperately needed a top finish to make the Derby. Conversely, Cat Thief, Vicar, Lemon Drop Kid and Wondertross, all stakes veterans with plenty of earnings accrued, were assured starting spots in the Derby. If you correctly surmised that Menifee needed a career-best effort, while the others could afford to use the Blue Grass as the prep that it was, then you got paid to the tune of $17.40, while the aforementioned chased at 5-1, 5-2, 4-1 and 9-5. The 2001 Wood provided a perfect example of ―Who is trying to win today, and who is trying to get 33

ready for the Derby?‖ It’s an angle horse field. Not only did Uncle Mo that can not only pay dividends in have enough earnings to make the the present, but also in the future Derby, but he had also started only (i.e. the Derby). The race brought once on the year and had battled together Monarchos, who simply all sorts of ailments throughout the devastated his foes in the Florida winter. As weak as the Wood Derby, and the rapidly improving, looked, and as imposing as Uncle but untested, Congaree. The Mo looked, it was presumptuous to former banked $600,000 from his think he was anywhere close to Florida Derby win and already was ready to deliver a peak run. Uncle considered one of the Mo chased home a favorites in Louisville. Toby’s Corner-Arthur’s Monarchos and Oxbow The latter had yet to Tale $158 exacta. didn’t need their final run in a graded stakes preps as much as others – The earnings and likely needed to but rewarded their requirement changed win the Wood to even supporters with Derby to points last year, but make the Derby. & Preakness scores. the story remained The 2001 Wood much the same. results offered the perfect storm as Oxbow, who entered the Arkansas Congaree upset Monarchos, but Derby on the ―Already in‖ bubble, those who kept the faith and knew used the race to change tactics and the big gray was simply prepping in try to settle and make a run. the Wood weren’t discouraged by Oxbow didn’t fire when a his runner-up. They got $23 on the disappointing fifth at 3-1. When win end when Monarchos won the the chips were down in the Derby Derby three weeks later. and Preakness, D. Wayne Lukas did not experiment with Oxbow. Arguably the greatest bet-against There, he put him back in his frontexample came just three years ago running comfort zone and Oxbow in the 2011 Wood, when Uncle Mo, rewarded anyone who kept the the champion 2-year-old, entered faith – when he stole away with the starting gate at 1-9 in a ninethe Preakness at 15-1 odds. – HPN 34

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By the time mid-April rolls around, the list of Triple Crown hopefuls has dwindled from a couple hundred to a couple dozen.

Alexander Pope may have applied that to horse racing in the old country. We need to apply it today. When you’re completely unemotional, write a horse off for any little reason and take the latest hotshot winner, you line up with much of the world on the first Saturday in May. You will have the chalk.

It’s go time. Time to get real. Time to seek out a winner. But even this time can be too soon to etch a name in stone. If you are of the school that says a horse is only as good as his last race, you will settle on the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, and chances are, you will be disappointed.

To forgive is divine. English poet

On many prep occasions, you can get more out of a loss than a Thunder Gulch remains relevant today not only win. Two personal at stud, but as a reminder for players to forgive. triumphs of yesteryear are prime examples.

In my 35 years of public handicapping, I’ve brought home some good ones. And like you, I’ve suffered more times than not in the Run for the Roses.

Thunder Gulch probably rates as one of the great overlays in racing, and it was simply because he disappointed as the favorite in his 36

last prep. The Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland that year remains as one of the great anomalies. Back in 1995, when Keeneland’s strip was of the conventional variety, speed held like crazy. And when fractions were slow, it just made it that much more difficult to pass. Wild Syn was 30-1 in the field of six, Randy Romero was up, and the outsider went the opening quarter in :24.37 and followed with fractions of :49.10 and 1:13.34. It was of little surprise he held on for the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.31.

position into the first turn. The fractions in front of him were a universe away from those set in the Blue Grass. The timer read :22.57, :45.89 and 1:10.33 for the opening six furlongs. Serena’s Song and, oh yes, Wild Syn, were sautéed under the pressure – most would under those circumstances. Thunder Gulch ground down his competition. He readily took the lead in the stretch and won going away for a win that rewarded his faithful with a $51 mutuel.

Meanwhile, Unbridled’s THUNDER GULCH ’95 trail Thunder Gulch Kentucky Derby Fountain of Youth 1st / 9-2 seemingly tossed win in 1990 Florida Derby 1st / 2-1 himself to near wasn’t as large of Blue Grass 4th / 6-5 the back of the a monetary st Kentucky Derby 1 / 24-1 pack on the success, but it Derby contention list. It was a wasn’t far off. And for the same fourth-place finish that was reason – a loss in the Blue Grass. agonizing to those who made him the heavy favorite. Many bailed; Unbridled wasn’t favored in the some of us stayed and rejoiced. Blue Grass after a win in the Florida Derby. That role belonged Thunder Gulch’s rider, Pat Day, to Summer Squall, and the public was correct that day. However, opted for uncoupled stablemate Timber Country. Thunder Gulch Unbridled lost a lot of support in gained Gary Stevens. that defeat and went off at nearly 11-1 in the Derby. With Craig The riding performance in the Perret urging, he wrested command late and was an easy 3 Derby was masterful. Despite the 16 post in the field of 19, Thunder 1/2-length winner. Gulch and Stevens had perfect 37

Those who stuck with him were rewarded with $23.60. Glad to report I was loyal. Funny Cide isn’t in my personal Kentucky Derby ticket portfolio, but his supporters, too, were richly rewarded in 2003 for standing pat despite a loss. While all eyes were on Empire Maker winning the Wood Memorial as the 1-2 favorite, Funny Cide finished willingly on the inside as Empire Maker claimed the narrow win. Yet, Funny Cide was dismissed by most and paid $27.60 in Louisville.

Paying It Forward Trips, track conditions and pace are prime considerations when it comes to attachments to particular horses. It rarely pays to blindly follow a horse each time. It helps to have a reason. For another month, handicappers will peruse the preps and take their shots. They will decide their loyalties. Key preps remain in April, and the recently run Florida Derby begs some historical reminder. Among my key horses to look for are Tapiture (at Oaklawn), as well as General a Rod and Cairo Prince (from the Florida Derby).

Tapiture narrowly lost to Hoppertunity in the Rebel, but had an excuse. Whether it was his own fault or that of another, the fact remains he lost his rear action and was nearly knocked sideways in the run to the wire. The Arkansas Derby is up next for him. The Florida Derby – as history has shown – can be enigmatic. In retrospect, Constitution got a dream trip and did not reject it. But if you had Cairo Prince or General a Rod, you want another shot at it. Cairo Prince’s running style is probably more conducive to a track that doesn’t cater to speed, and General a Rod was pushed along to keep up with the pace. A chance at a more relaxing trip might be waiting for him in the Derby with others finally doing the dirty work. It’s disappointing to tear up a ticket. But it never hurts to take a good look before you leap from a bandwagon. Whatever you capture mentally out of a particular race – often concentrating on the losers more than the winners – can take you to the pari-mutuel promised land on the first Saturday in May.

- HPN 38


MEADOWLANDS ROLLS INTO CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON By Nick Salvi The Meadowlands provides the horseplayer mutuel pool size unequalled in the harness game. All sources handle on the product regularly exceeds $3 million and on the special event cards (July 12 Meadowlands Pace night and August 2 Hambletonian Day) well beyond that figure. Simply put, The Big M offers the highest quality harness racing in the land throughout the summer

stakes season. The Championship Meet traditionally begins on Kentucky Derby Day (May 3 this year) and continues through Hambo Day on August 2. Over the course of those three months, the season’s top performers are on display each and every weekend. Field size is strong, with the average over eight horses per race and the quality remarkably even, due in large part to the unique 40

letter classification system employed at the track. The industry standard for overnight racing is almost exclusively based on earnings over a defined number of starts. At The Meadowlands overnight horses are “graded” and placed by the Racing Secretary, which results in greater field parity and, in turn, square prices to reward your efforts.

vertical wagers, including dime superfectas. Horizontally, each card begins with a $25,000 guaranteed Pick 5 and offers two guaranteed Pick 4s (the early Pick 4 at $30,000 and the late version at $50,000). The retention rate for each Pick 4 is a very fair 15 percent. Complementing those opportunities are rolling Pick 3s throughout the card.

Meadowlands Chairman Jeffrey The Meadowlands provides Gural has enforced a very stringent an enticing product for the casual policy on those horsemen racing fan as well as the dedicated their horses at his horseplayer. The Meadowlands Must-Knows track and that top stakes also has performers must Friday-Saturday live racing contributed make an First post 7:15 pm ET to the dependimpression on 15% Takeout on Pick 4s ability of The Meadowlands 2014 Stakes Schedule Link the product. mile track to be Free Live Video / Replays Link taken seriously as Racing's top personalities regularly contenders on the big stage. ply their trade at The Meadowlands with the sport’s top drivers like Tim The sport’s leading conditioner, Tetrick, Yannick Gingras, David Ron Burke, has captured the Miller, John Campbell, Andy Miller trainers’ title for the past few years and Corey Callahan participating and has a strong presence at The nightly. Fresh young talents such Meadowlands in both overnight as Scott Zeron, Jim Marohn Jr. and races and stakes. Top colt trainers Joe Bongiorno are breaking in to such as Jimmy Takter, Tony the circuit and add to the Alagna, Linda Toscano and Julie competitiveness of the races. Miller prefer the big track to start the careers of the prize prospects So far as the available wagers, The and the “baby” races are an Meadowlands offers the requisite important part of the racing season 41

every year. The two-year-olds start out in mid-June each year as they embark on their quest for greatness and The Meadowlands provides that stage. The sophomore crop lists several of its key dates at The Meadowlands, led by the aforementioned Meadowlands Pace, arguably the most important event of the season for three-year-old pacers, and the Hambletonian, which holds the same designation for discussion necessary. The Hambletonian is a rare spectacle in that the three-yearold trotters compete in the heat format, where they are required to race twice on the same afternoon. The purse is $1 million and the worth of a “Hambo� win on the resume is above all others. Spaced around those marquee events are a spectacular menu of the finest racing anywhere on the continent. The older trotters and pacers are represented throughout

the summer and the races are regularly the stuff of which memories are made. In 2013, a new grandstand was built across the track from the original structure at a cost estimated to be $100 million. The result is a state of the art facility like no other. Designed to host events beyond horse racing, the new grandstand offers fine dining, a futuristic sports bar, an outdoor bar atop the grandstand with unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline and a swanky club restricted to horsemen. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive and has enticed a crowd beyond the racetrack regulars that normally populate the grandstands. On any given night, the crowd contains a number of crossover patrons, many of whom are experiencing their first exposure to horse racing. It is rewarding to see the enthusiasm as they clutch their tickets and root for their selections down the stretch. - HPN 42


Handicapping the Early Futurities of the Quarter Horse Racing Season By Martha Claussen Thoroughbred horseplayers are nearing the home stretch in watching the prep races for the 2014 Kentucky Derby and firming up their choices for the Run for the Roses. While no exact formula applies to all players, most rely on a combination of speed and pace figures, pedigree and human connections in analyzing the preps and narrowing down their top selections. Many of the same handicapping principles apply to American Quarter Horse racing, but one major difference is the timing of the marquee coming-out party for the two breeds. While Thoroughbreds engage in their showcase event on the first Saturday of May, Quarter Horse racing's version of the Kentucky Derby, the $2.4 million All American Futurity, is run on Labor Day. Instead of several "roads to the Derby" from circuits across the country, the top 2-yearolds compete in trials in

August at Ruidoso Downs. The top 10-fastest qualifiers earn a ticket to the prestigious final. However, way before the All American Futurity in September, there are a slew of futurities at racetracks including Remington Park, Sam Houston Race Park, Ruidoso Downs and Delta Downs. The first official futurity of the year, the $281,514 Mardi Gras Futurity (for accredited Louisianabreds) took place on March 15 at Louisiana Downs. The winner, with a clean trip from the seventh post position, was Hemps Jumpn Lajolla. Ridden by Raul Ramirez, Jr., and trained by Miguel Rodriguez, he paid $25.80 to win. The winner was a maiden coming into the final, which might have some 44

horseplayers shaking their heads, but that is not uncommon in early futurities. Fastest qualifier and heavy post-time favorite Dynastys Jumpin was disqualified and placed eighth after bumping Game, another betting favorite, at the start. 2013 Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA) Champion Trainer Kenneth Roberts has won just about every major race in Louisiana, and knows that having a 2-year-old primed for the first futurity of the year is no easy task.

that take a little more time to mature and improve. "It's a gamble," admits the veteran horseman. "I try not to push my horses too soon, because we have a long season ahead of us. You just never know who will step up in the early futurities, and even if they don't qualify, they could be better as the year goes on. JLS Mr Bigtime ran in trials for the Mardi Gras,

Paint Me Perry rolls in the March 22 G2 Oklahoma Futurity at Remington Park, one of the season’s first big futurities.

– Dustin Orona Photography

"It's a real tough challenge," states Roberts. "You are trying to get your babies fit, educated mind-wise and with enough works to perform without making too many mistakes." Roberts acknowledges that some of his 2-year-olds have been quick learners, but he prefers the ones

did not qualify and went on to run in the All American."

Players can not only enjoy wagering on the early tests for the 2-year-olds, but make some nice profits, by considering the following handicapping angles. Breeding Many of the early futurities will have maidens competing in trials. With no past performances to study, pedigree is one of the most important factors for consideration. 45

In 2013, AQHA posted the five top sires of 2-year-old money earners as: 1. Corona Cartel 2. First Moonflash 3. One Famous Eagle 4. Heza Fast Dash 5. Pyc Paint Your Wagon Jumpn leads the 2014 standings with Pyc Paint Your Wagon, Corona Cartel and Heza Fast Dash producing trial winners at Louisiana Downs and Remington Park.

enough talent to run fourth in the 2013 All American Futurity. In Oklahoma, Eddie Willis has a strong arsenal of 2-year-olds and Rodney Reed and Clinton Crawford are two other prominent horsemen. Paul Jones, 2013 AQHA Champion trainer, will have his share of promising 2-year-olds at the upcoming Ruidoso Downs meet as well as Los Alamitos in Cypress, California. Trials

Fastest qualifiers do Click image to watch a short tutorial not have to win their video on AQHA trials! trial to make it to the final. Oftentimes in trials, there are one or two "key" trial races in One freshman sire meriting which multiple horses have attention is Apollitical Jess, 2010 clockings swift enough to make the AQHA Racing World Champion, top ten. If you cannot attend the whose daughter, Apolitical Pac, races in person, live streaming of was fastest qualifier to the all the trials is available on QOklahoma Futurity at Remington. Racing Video (LINK). Spotting a runner who has overcome difficulty Connections in his trial, could yield a nice price in the final. Each region has trainers that have done extremely well with their juveniles. At the current Sam Houston Race Park meet, trainers Trey Wood and Judd Kearl are two Martha Claussen is the coordinator of the Racing Aces Fan Education initiative of the American Quarter Horse to watch. Wood won last year's Association (AQHA). She served as publicity director at $400,000 Sam Houston Futurity Sam Houston Race Park from 1997-2007 and continues to be active in writing, fan education and racing publicity with Especially Tres, a filly with in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America . 46

New 10¢ Minimum Bet! PLAYERS’ JACKPOT

April 3 through May 3: Any single, unique 10¢ winning ticketholder will receive a minimum of $50,000, plus a trip for two to the 2014 Preakness*! *Roundtrip airfare (from any major North American city), hotel accommodations for May 16 & 17, ground transportation and tickets to Turfside Terrace for Black-Eyed Susan Day (May 16) & Preakness Day (May 17). Turfside Terrace offers magnificent views of Pimlico’s home stretch and finish line from your table. This all-inclusive premium seating area includes a gourmet luncheon buffet, beer & fine wines, souvenir program, entertainment, plus access to private comfort stations and mutuel windows. Two large, state-ofthe- art Jumboscreens allow fans to follow the continuous racing action throughout the day.

The Pimlico Jackpot Pick 5 is a jackpot wager that pays any carryover to a single, unique winning ticket. • 60% of the daily pool is paid to multiple winners or “best of fives” • 40% of the daily pool builds a jackpot carryover payable to a single, unique winning 10¢ ticket. • Low 18% Takeout • 10¢ minimum bet and ticket value. • Late scratches are awarded post time favorites. • A move from turf to dirt results in an “all”; a surface change in more than one leg results in a refund. • Mandatory payout on Preakness Day (May 17, 2014) 47

Distaff Turf (Tam), f/m, 8.5F-T Sprint (Tam), 4up, 6F Soph. Turf (Tam), 3yo, 8.5F-T Sophomore (Tam), 3yo, 7F Sophomore Fillies (Tam), 3yof, 7F Wildcat (TuP), 3up, 11F-T Arizona Stallion (TuP), 3yo, 7.5F-T 6 Cat Cay (Aqu), f/m, 8F Carousel (OP), f/m, 6F

Point Given / Photos By Z

APRIL 2014 4 G3 Transylvania (Kee), 3yo, 8.5F-T 5 G1 Ashland (Kee), 3yof, 9F G1 Santa Anita Derby (SA), 3yo, 9F G1 SA Oaks (SA), 3yof, 8.5F G3 Providencia (SA) 3yof, 9F-T Echo Eddie (SA), 3yo, 6.5F Evening Jewel (SA), 3yof, 6.5F G1 Wood (Aqu), 3yo, 9F G1 Carter (Aqu), 3up, 7F G2 Gazelle (Aqu), 3yof, 9F G3 Bay Shore (Aqu), 3yo, 7F G3 Fantasy (OP), 3yof, 8.5F Dahlia (Pim), f/m, 8F-T Mister Diz (Pim), 3up, 5F-T Twixt (Pim), 3yof, 8.5F Calder Derby, (Crc), 3yo, 9F Czaria (Sun), f/m, 6F Turf Classic (Tam), 4up, 9F-T

10 G3 Count Fleet (OP), 4up, 6F Premiere (LS), 3up, 6.5F 11 G1 Maker’s Mile (Kee), 3up, 8F-T G1 Apple Blossom (OP), f/m, 8.5F Bachelor (OP), 3yo, 6F 12 G1 Blue Grass (Kee), 3yo, 9F G1 Jenny Wiley (Kee), f/m, 8.5F-T G2 Madison (Kee), f/m, 7F G3 Commonwealth (Kee), 3up, 7F G3 Shakertown (Kee), 3up, 5F-T G1 Arkansas Derby (OP), 3yo, 9F G2 Oaklawn Hcp (OP), 4up, 9F Northern Spur (OP), 3yo, 8F Instant Racing (OP), 3yof, 6F G2 Potrero Grande (SA), 4up, 6.5F G3 Las Cienegas (SA), f/m, 6.5F-T Calder Oaks (Crc), 3yof, 8.5F-T Hanks Memorial (LS), f/m, 6.5F Copper Top Fut. (Sun), 2yo, 4.5F

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13 G2 Beaumont (Kee), 3yof, 7F G3 Santa Barbara (SA), f/m, 10F-T G3 San Simeon (SA), 4up, 6.5F-T Jacques Cartier (WO), 4up, 6F Sunland Park Hcp (Sun), 3up, 9F 17 G3 Appalachian (Kee) 3yof, 8.5F-T 18 G3 Doubledogdare (Kee), f/m), 9F 19 G2 C-Town Classic (CT), 4up, 9F Sugar Maple (CT), f/m, 7F Robert Hilton (CT), 3yo, 7F C-Town Dash (CT), 4up, 4.5F Confucius Say (CT), 3up, 7F Original Gold (CT), f/m, 7F G3 Ben Ali (Kee), 3up, 9F G3 Lexington (Kee), 3yo, 8.5F Giant’s Causeway (Kee), f/m, 5F T Federico Tesio (Pim), 3yo, 8.5F Henry Clark (Pim), 3up, 8F-T Primonetta (Pim), f/m, 6F Stormy Blues (Pim), 3yof, 5F-T G2 Distaff (Aqu), f/m, 6F G3 Illinois Derby (Haw), 3yo, 9F G3 Sixty Sails (Haw), f/m, 9F Molaro (Haw), 4up, 6F Third Chance (Haw), f/m, 6F G3 Miami Mile (Crc), 3up, 8F-T Star Shoot (WO), 3yof, 6F

20 Woodstock (WO), 3yo, 6F 24 G3 Bewitch (Kee), f/m, 12F-T 25 G2 Elkhorn (Kee), 3up, 12F-T G3 Last Tycoon (SA), 3up, 9F-T 26 G3 Derby Trial (CD), 3yo, 8F G3 Whimsical (WO), f/m, 6F G3 Texas Mile (LS), 3up, 8F G3 San Fran Mile (GG), 3up, 8F-T Shine Again (Pim), f/m, 8.5F Spring Fever (SA), f/m, 6F Fran’s Valentine (SA), f/m, 8F-T Snow Chief (SA), 3yo, 9F-T Melair (SA), 3yof, 8.5F NYSS Park Avenue, 3yof, 6.5F NYSS Times Square, 3yo, 6F Land Of Lincoln (Haw), 3yo, 6F Pretty Penny (Haw), 3yof, 6F Milwaukee Ave. (Haw), 4up, 8.5F The Peach Of It (Haw), f/m), 8.5F Goldfinch (Prm), 3yof, 6F AZ Br. Derby (TuP), 3yo, 8.5F Grand Canyon (TuP), 3up, 6F Patterson (TuP), 3up, 8.5F-T Ann Owens Distaff (TuP), f/m, 6F Joanne Dye (TuP), 3yof, 6.5F 27 G3 Wilshire (SA), f/m, 8F-T

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April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April April

1 – Online: Night School 3 – Pimlico opens 4 – Keeneland opens 5 – TV: Wood/SA Derby, NBC 8 – Online: Night School 10 – Lone Star Park opens 12 – Oaklawn ends 12 – Woodbine opens 12 – Emerald Downs opens 12 – TV: Blue Grass, FS1 15 – Sunland ends 15 – Online: Night School 18 – Prairie Meadows opens 18 – Thistledown opens 18 – SunRay Park opens 22 – Online: Night School 24 – Atlantic City opens 25 – Keeneland ends 26 – Churchill Downs opens 27 – Aqueduct ends 27 – Hawthorne ends 29 – Kentucky Oaks draw 29 – Online: Night School 30 – Atlantic City ends 30 – Kentucky Derby draw 30 – May HPN Mag release

Horse Player NOW also hosts free, live chats each racing day of the meet. PLAY WITH OUR PROS.

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G3 $100,000 SAN FRANCISCO MILE April 26, 2014


John Sadler left his heart in San Francisco last year. KEY INGREDIENTS TO THE SAN FRANCISCO MILE: One of Golden Gate’s most premier races has gone to out-of-towners for the most part, with Santa Anita invaders winning 7 of the last 10. Foreign-breds have had success, scoring half of those. Winning your previous prep isn’t a must, as only three times in the last decade has a horse who entered off a win then added the San Francisco Mile. MOST RECENT RENEWAL: Tigah (GB) proved a popular winner when he closed from last to get up by a neck. The SA invader, who started his career in Europe, built on a 3rd-place finish in the Thunder Road in his previous start.


HANDICAPPER’S AIDES: Last 10 Winners – Full History ’13 Tigah (GB) ’12 Hudson Landing ’11 Our Nautique (NZ)

Alonso Quinonez Juan Hernandez

John Sadler Blaine Wright

Kevin Krigger

Jerry Hollendorfer Bill Morrey

’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03

Mike Smith Martin Pedroza Rene Douglass Jose Valdivia Ron Warren

’10 Bold Chieftain Russell Baze ’09 Mr Napper Tandy (GB) Julio Garcia

Chinese Dragon Charmo (FR) Casteldale (IRE) Singletary Ninebanks

Jack Carava Bob Hess Julio Canani Jeff Mullins Don Chatlos Jerry Hollendorfer

Last 10 Winners’ Preps ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03

3rd 1st 2nd 1st nd Mr Napper Tandy (GB) 2 Chinese Dragon 2nd Charmo (FR) 6th Castledale (IRE) 2nd Singletary 2nd Ninebanks 1st Tigah (GB) Hudson Landing Our Nautique (NZ) Bold Chieftain

Thunder Road (SA) AOC (GG) Starter Stakes (SA) Allowance (GG) Arcadia (SA) Arcadia (SA) Kilroe Mile (SA) AOC (SA) Kilroe Mile (SA) GG Breeders’ Cup (GG)

-Race not held in 2008.

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Horse Player NOW takes you inside the past performances – the GPS of nearly every player – and dissects a specific race type for what to look for within the lines – and between them. Maiden claiming races are the bottom rung on the “class” ladder. No one wants to be there; you wind up there because … well … it’s the last resort in the race to be competitive. Often they are littered with career maidens (those who have gone on for a few seasons in pursuit of that graduation day). Some debut runners hit the MCL ranks because they’ve shown little in the morning, or hail from barns that feel their stock can’t be competitive in the big, bold world of maiden special weight races. And finally, maiden claiming races often include the proverbial “class droppers,” horses who have been facing tougher to no avail and are looking for relief. Horses making a change to the program – a new class, distance, surface, jockey, blinkers, Lasix – often are the best alternative in maiden claiming races. Those who have “been there, done that” and still not won at this level have no recourse but to finally find the right field. That’s why those horses making a change in the gameplan often find the right formula. Let’s take a look at a maiden claimer from Santa Anita where “change” was a good thing. We’ve circled what we saw relevant and etched our notes with the contenders. PPs courtesy BRIS, chart LINK courtesy Equibase. 53




“Lack of effort should never be an excuse.” I made that statement in my first professional staff meeting in August of 1990. The upperclassmen on the university’s daily newspaper looked at me as though I was a loud-mouth who had yet to learn his role. Our advisor paused, spoke up while making eye contact, and slowly I shrank into my chair. He then said 4 words I’ll never forget: “Now THAT is leadership.” Here, some 24 years later, the story still rings true. While none of us (or very few) went on to a career in a dying newspaper industry, those of us who still communicate for a living must do so effectively without two fears – the fear of speaking up, and the fear of hard work. The focus of this column wasn’t supposed to be about the attacks on horse racing’s reputation or our industry’s own misdeeds from within. The debut

of this venture was meant to continue our quest to teach the game we love, explain its nuances and provide consumer confidence. But the travails of the PETA-Steve Asmussen situation caused many legitimate concerns for confidence. Folks around the industry are speaking up – titans like Dinny Phipps, Barry Weisbord and Rick Porter. They are trying to rally around a cause that would unify the splintered factions, assert some sense of role and responsibility in a hodge-podge of freelancers and contractors. They have stepped past the first fear and have spoken out. Now comes the tremendous task of hard work. If the reputation and real integrity of horse racing is worth fighting for – and it is to many of us – then lack of effort won’t be an excuse in our trip notes. - JP 57



Horse Player NOW Magazine - April 2014  

The horse racing industry's leading player development / fan education source brings you successful strategies for enjoying the sport of kin...

Horse Player NOW Magazine - April 2014  

The horse racing industry's leading player development / fan education source brings you successful strategies for enjoying the sport of kin...