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Analysis & Selections for the 3rd Leg of Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes and Closing Day at Pimlico

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Analysis & Selections for the 3rd Leg of Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes and Closing Day at Pimlico

Posted on 07 June 2013 by Gary Quill


Drawing courtesy of Mel @dailyracefunies. To see more of Mel’s work, click here.

On paper, the Saturday’s 145th running of the Belmont Stakes shapes up to be a great betting race, which isn’t a bad consolation since the luster of the race was tarnished by Orb’s loss to oxbow in the Preakness. There are fourteen (14) 3 year olds scheduled to break from the starting gate at Belmont on Saturday, for the $1 million 1½ mile classic, Post Time is 6:36pm EDT. NBC-TV will have “live” coverage from 5pm-7pm.

The weather forecast for the New York metropolitan area, location of Belmont Race Course, is “iffy”. The rain that fell all day on Friday may be gone by Saturday morning. MOstly cloduy skies and winds of 10-15 mph won’t be enough to dry out the track. So look for the track condition to be MUDDY.

Here’s how I see the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes playing out, listed in my predicted order of finish. Morning Line Odds are shown in comparison to the Early Betting Odds only from NYRA tracks, Fort Erie in Canada and Twinspires.com, which was only $39,552 in the WIN pool.

1st – Winstar silks #9 – Revolutionary
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / Javier Castellano
Running Style: Closer
He was my pick to win the Kentucky Derby, but could only manage a 3rd place finish, while running on at the end. Skipping the Preakness was a wise move for this lightly raced son of War Pass. His granddaddy (A.P. Indy) on his Mom’s side won this race and there’s enough early speed in here to provide an honest pace to run at in deep stretch.
Early Betting Odds : 5-2 compared to Morning Line Odds: 9-2

2nd – Horton silks #10 – Will Take Charge
Trainer / Jockey: D. Wayne Lukas / Jon Court
Running Style: Tactical Speed
One of three colts who will have run in all 3 Triple Crown races (Orb and Oxbow are the other two), he was sort of a Wise-Guy horse in the Preakness after his strong run into the Churchill Downs stretch was abruptly stopped when Verrazano swerved in front of him. Unfortunately for his backers in the Preakness, he never fired, finishing 7th but during during Preakness week he wasn’t “on his toes” in the A.M. as he was during Derby week. Based on video from Belmont Park workouts, he looks “fit as a fiddle” again. Therefore, at a price he’s a must use in my exotics.
Early Betting Odds : 23-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

3rd – Dogwood silks #12 – Palace Malice
Trainer / Jockey : Todd Pletcher / Mike Smith
Running Style: Stalker
His Daddy (Curlin) lost the 2007 Belmont Stakesby a head, so there’s no question this colt can get the 12 furlongs. Mike Smith retains the mount after a less than stellar ride in the Derby, but the addition of blinkers likely caused Palace Malice to be way too aggressive and uncharacteristically go to the lead. The blinkers come off which should translate into a more relaxed run with a nice stalking trip.
Early Betting Odds : 10-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

4th – Repole silks #3 – Overanalyze
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / John Velazquez
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Has the same sire (Dixie Union) as last years’ Belmont Stakes winner, Union Rags. So one would the distance should not be a question. Trainer Pletcher has 4 others in here but his #1 jock rides this one. If you believe in patterns, then look at Overanalyze’s past performances. He wins then loses, wins, loses He lost his last race.
Early Betting Odds : 11-1compared to Morning Line Odds: 12-1

5th – Janney silks #5 – Orb
Trainer / Jockey: Shug McGaughey / Joel Rosario
Running Style: Mid-Pack
The Derby winner was prematurely anointed a strong choice to be the first Triple Crown winner in 35 years, but it wasn’t to be as he was a distant 4th in the Preakness Stakes. So what makes him so special to be the favorite here? I’m thinking he may have peaked on the first Saturday of May and could be a tired horse.
Early Betting Odds: 5-2 compared to Morning Line Odds: 3-1

6th – Repole silks #13 – Unlimited Budget
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / Rosie Napravnik
Running Style: Tactical Speed
The only filly in the field will try to become just the 4th filly in 145 runnings of the Belmont Stakes to enter the Winners’ Circle. She has the bloodlines and an impressive resume’ (4 wins in 5 career races; 3 in graded stakes). In an effort to compare her against her male counterparts, we can look to her Feb. 23rd race at Fairgrounds. A winning effort but her time was 4/5th of a second slower than the winner of the Risen Star, run 50 minutes after her victory. Neither the winner(I’ve Struck a Nerve) nor runner-up (Code West) are in here, but Palace Malice ran 3rd just a half length behind the winner.
Early Betting Odds : 12-1compared to Morning Line Odds: 8-1

7th – Calumet silks #7 – Oxbow
Trainer / Jockey: D. Wayne Lukas / Gary Stevens
Running Style: Speed
 Winner of the Preakness in gate-to-wire fashion, many believe he got away with a slow pace and put his competition to sleep. That won’t happen in this race as at least 3 others (Freedom Child, Giant Finish, Midnight Taboo and possibly Frac Daddy) will keep him company throughout the early stages. I see a carbon copy of his Derby run where he had the lead entering the stretch but didn’t have the stamina to seal the deal.
Early Betting Odds : 16-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 5-1

8th – Fipke silks #14 – Golden Soul
Trainer / Jockey: Dallas Stewart / Robby Albarado
Running Style: Closer
After his second place finish in the Derby at 34-1, it seems that all the experts have now discovered this hard-knocking colt who just keeps running, but only has beaten maidens in his 6 race career. Add the fact no horse has won the Belmont Stakes from the 14th post in at least 105 years.
Early Betting Odds : 16-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 10-1

9th – West Pt silks #2 – Freedom Child
Trainer / Jockey: Thomas Albertrani / Luis Saez
Running Style: Speed
Romped by 13+ lengths in slop in the G2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont in most recent outing. One problem. He did it alone on the lead, dictating the pace. That won’t happen in this race. Though he only lost to Orb by 2 and finished ahead of Revolutionary by 2¼ in the same maiden race at Aqueduct in November, he’s likely to be a pace victim.
Early Betting Odds : 8-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 8-1

10th – Magic City silks #1 – Frac Daddy Trainer / Jockey: Kenneth McPeek / Alan Garcia
Running Style: Tactical Speed
A quarter crack derailed his Derby Trail but still ran for the roses (16th). Been training lights out at CD since, but upon arriving in the Big Apple, he walked (1:04.60) through 5 furlongs in his final tune-up. Word has it he’ll gun from the #1 post, joining early speed. Looking for a glimmer of hope? In his career debut, he ran a nice second going a mile on a muddy Belmont surface.
Early Betting Odds : 23-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

11th – Godolphin silks #6 – Incognito
Trainer / Jockey : Kiaran McLaughlin / Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Running Style: Tactical Speed
It’s hard to believe the number of experts picking this one to pull a huge upset. I don’t see it. Other than having the pedigree to “run all day”, he lacks the seasoning. Making his seventh career start, took four tries to break his maiden, then followed that up with a win by a nose in a $25k Optional Claimer for N1X. Throw in the fact he’ll carry 10 more lbs. than he did in his last race, which is 6 more than he has ever carried. Early Betting Odds : 19-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

12th – Pick Six silks #11 – Vyjack
Trainer / Jockey: Rudy Rodriguez / Julien Leparoux
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Went from an undefeated, potential Derby favorite heading into the Wood Memorial, to an afterthought for the Belmont Stakes. An 18th place finish by 52 lengths will do that to a horse, but is he really all that bad? From the looks of his recent workout (5f in 59 flat) over “Big Sandy” (aka Belmont), on paper is impressive but he was ridden hard in order to get that time. Derby jock Garrett Gomez opted for a bigger longshot in here (Midnight Taboo) rather than stick with this guy.
Early Betting Odds : 31-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

13th – Sunrise silks #4 – Giant Finish
Trainer / Jockey: Anthony Dutrow / Edgar Prado
Running Style: Speed
He’s a NY-bred who does his best within that company and/or on synthetic surface tracks. Ran in the Kentucky Derby without embarrassing himself (10th by 13¼) but never threatened, simply ran a “even” race. Expect Prado to get him up close early in order to have a fighting chance, but the distance will be too much for him.
Early Betting Odds : 34-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

14th – Repole silks #8 – Midnight Taboo
Trainer / Jockey: Todd Pletcher / Garrett Gomez
Running Style: Speed
He’s basically just starting his career with only 3 career races, is overmatched and is only runner in here that has never faced graded stakes company. The owner also has Overanalyze and Unlimited Budget. Both of those will need a quick pace to run at, so Midnight Taboo appears to be the sacrificial lamb.
Early Betting Odds : 37-1compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

Based on my analysis of the Belmont Stakes, I’ll play…

$10 WIN, PLACE, SHOW on #9 (Revolutionary) – Cost $30

$1 EXACTA BOX on #3 (Overanalyze) #9 (Revolutionary) #10 (Will Take Charge) #12 (Palace Malice) – Cost $12

$1 TRIFECTA PART-WHEEL 3, 5, 9, 10 w/ 3, 5, 9, 10 w/ 12 (Palace Malice) in 3rd spot – Cost $12

Selections for Pimlico’s Closing Day, Saturday, June 8th card  are on Page 2.

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Derby winner Orb installed as Belmont favorite over Oxbow

Posted on 05 June 2013 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK (AP) — Back home again, Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes.

Orb was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 entered for Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, and trainer Shug McGaughey is confident his colt can bounce back from his fourth-place finish behind Oxbow in the Preakness.

“He’s been here for three weeks, and I think it has to be a help not only mentally but being familiar with the footing as well,” McGaughey said. “He’s done well here and trained well here. … I’m going to strike a line through the Preakness. It wasn’t his day. It was (trainer) Wayne Lukas and Oxbow and Gary Stevens’ day. We’re going to regroup and hopefully you’ll see the right horse here on Saturday.”

Orb drew the No. 5 post Wednesday, with Oxbow two gates over in No. 7. Revolutionary, one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s record five entries, is the second choice at 9-2. Oxbow is next at 5-1.

“I think Shug has established his horse as the favorite today, and that’s right,” said Lukas, who has won a record 14 Triple Crown races, including the Belmont four times. “But I think he knows he has to take care of business in getting us out of the way, too.”

The field for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is the largest since 1996, when Lukas won the race with Editor’s Note.

“It’s a great advantage to be on your home court, where you train your horses,” said Lukas, who used to have a Belmont-based stable. “They don’t have to ship in and get settled, and then get over the surface. They’ve already been doing that.”

Orb, under Joel Rosario, navigated his way past 16 rivals in the final half mile of the Derby to win by 2 1/2 lengths. In the Preakness, Orb was unable to find running room outside after breaking from the rail, and Oxbow led wire-to-wire under Gary Stevens.

McGaughey is well-versed in what it takes to deal with the Belmont – one long trip around the spacious oval.

“The jockey is really going to have to read the race – it’s what separates the top riders from some of those that aren’t,” said McGaughey, who won the Belmont with Easy Goer in 1989 and spoiled Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown try. “If you turn down the backside at Belmont, it’s not like turning down the backside at Churchill Downs, or Pimlico or the Fair Grounds.

“You’ve got a long way to go, and big open space through there, and you better be patient. If you’re not, it’s going to get to you.”

Orb comes into the race with five wins in nine starts for owners Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps and Stuart Janney III, while Oxbow’s Preakness win was just his third win in 11 starts for Calumet Farm.

Pletcher is looking for his second Belmont win. He won it in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches, and Unlimited Budget could make him 2-for-2 with his Belmont fillies if Rosie Napravnik can pull off the upset and become the second female rider to win a Triple Crown race (Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont with Colonial Affair).

“She’s a big, strong, talented filly. From a physical standpoint, she is going to match up well,” Pletcher said. “My biggest concern is the mile-and-a-half, with her not as strongly bred as Rags to Riches. But she’s trained very well.”

Pletcher will also send out Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Midnight Taboo. Mike Repole owns Unlimited Budget, Overanalyze and Midnight Taboo.

Unlimited Budget, who won her first four starts before running third in the Kentucky Oaks, and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child are co-fourth choices at 8-1.

The last Derby-Belmont winner was Thunder Gulch in 1995, and the last Preakness-Belmont winner was Afleet Alex in 2005. The last rematch of the Derby and Preakness winners was in 2011, when Preakness winner Shackleford ran fifth and Derby winner Animal Kingdom sixth behind Ruler On Ice.

The field from the rail out is Frac Daddy (Alan Garcia, 30-1), Freedom Child (Luis Saez, 8-1), Overanalyze (John Velazquez, 12-1), Giant Finish (Edgar Prado, 30-1), Orb (Joel Rosario, 3-1), Incognito (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1), Oxbow (Gary Stevens, 5-1), Midnight Taboo (Garrett Gomez, 30-1), Revolutionary (Javier Castellano, 9-2), Will Take Charge (Jon Court, 20-1), Vyjack (Julien Leparoux, 20-1), Palace Malice (Mike Smith, 15-1), Unlimited Budget (Rosie Napravnik, 8-1), and Golden Soul (Robby Albarado, 10-1).

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/06/05/2626001/derby-winner-orb-3-1-favorite.html#storylink=cpy

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 04 June 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable MentionAuto Racing: NASCAR Party in the Poconos 400 (Sunday 1pm from Long Pond, PA live on TNT); IndyCar Firestone 550 (Saturday 8:30pm from Fort Worth, TX live on ABC); Golf: PGA Tour FedEx St. Jude Classic (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel Saturday & Sunday 1pm live on Golf Channel 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Memphis), Champions Tour Regions Tradition (Thursday 6:30pm Friday & Saturday 12:30pm Sunday 2:30pm from Shoal Creek, AL on Golf Channel), Wegmans LPGA Championship (Thursday & Friday 12:30pm Saturday & Sunday 3pm from Pittsford, NY live on Golf Channel); Boxing: Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson (Saturday 10pm from Montreal live on HBO), Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez (Saturday 10pm from Carson, CA live on Showtime); MLL: Chesapeake Bayhawks @ New York Lizards (Thursday 7pm from Randalls Island, NY live on CBS Sports Network); WNBA: Minnesota Lynx @ Washington Mystics (Saturday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Monumental Network)

10. Pretty Lights (Saturday 5pm Pier Six Pavilion); The National/Dirty Projectors (Thursday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), Capital Jazz Fest feat. Chaka Khan, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds (Friday-Sunday Merriweather Post Pavilion); Earth, Wind & Fire (Tuesday 8pm Wolf Trap), Widespread Panic (Wednesday 7:30pm Wolf Trap); Dirty Heads (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); “Weird Al” Yankovic (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live), Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (Thursday 8pm Rams Head Live), Metric (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live), Mint Condition (Saturday 9pm Rams Head Live), Social Distortion (Sunday 8pm Rams Head Live), Foals (Monday 8pm Rams Head Live); Alpha Rev (Thursday 6:30pm Mt. Vernon Park); Toad The Wet Sprocket (Wednesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Cris Jacobs Band (Friday 8pm 8×10 Club); Edwin McCain (Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Beach House (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), Cut Copy (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club), Tricky (Sunday 10pm 9:30 Club), Animal Collective (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Marc Cohn (Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); The Heavy (Monday 8pm Sixth & I Historic Synagogue); Queens Of The Stone Age “…Like Clockwork” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Frank Turner is the guy that does that song you don’t even realize how much you love.

Everyone I know who likes good music likes Foals. So…umm…maybe you should like Foals?

I would really like to have someone go with me to Alpha Rev Thursday night. Anyone available?

Also, if you’d like to drive me to DC to see The Heavy; I’d like to discuss that as well.

9. Honfest (Saturday & Sunday Hampden); St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival (Thursday-Sunday Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church); Annapolis Arts and Crafts Festival (Saturday & Sunday Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium); Tommy Davidson (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Bobby Slayton (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); A Good Day to Die Hard“, “Warm Bodies” and “Identity Thief” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); The Internship” out in theaters (Friday)

The Internship appears as though it’s probably garbage; but it doesn’t change anything about the history of Wedding Crashers. Wedding Crashers was freaking fantastic. That will never change no matter what amount of hot garbage is involved in this not-so-sequely sequel.

Also, if I can’t make it down to Saint Nicholas; could someone bring me just about as much of this as possible?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Preakness winner Oxbow headed to Belmont Stakes

Posted on 19 May 2013 by WNST Staff

PREAKNESS WINNER OXBOW CONFIRMED FOR BELMONT STAKES

ORB ‘FINE’ AFTER DULL TRY;  ITSMYLUCKYDAY MAKES GRADE

 

BALTIMORE, 05-19-13 – Back in the 1980’s and ‘90s when trainer D. Wayne Lukas was winning Triple Crown races with astonishing regularity, the catch-phrase “D. Wayne off the plane” followed him from track to track as he made his hit-and-run assaults on racetracks across America with a lineup of assistants that included Todd Pletcher, Mark Hennig, Kiaran McLaughlin and Dallas Stewart.

The glory days of Lukas had seemingly subsided in the new millennium with the passing of wealthy clients like Eugene Klein, W. T. Young and Bob Lewis. In recent years, Lukas had geared down his operation and had become more of a fringe player on racing’s biggest stage.

That all changed Saturday when the 77-year-old Hall of Famer saddled his record-14th Triple Crown race winner, Oxbow, for the 138th Preakness for legendary Calumet Farm, which had similarly faded from the forefront of major thoroughbred racing,

It was the first spring classic winner for Lukas since Commendable took the Belmont Stakes in 2000, and the Preakness score by Oxbow ended a drought in the classics for Calumet dating all the way back to Forward Pass’s victory in the 1968 Preakness.

Lukas and his nine-horse contingent, that also included Dixie upsetter Skyring and his personal pony, were on the highway before dawn Sunday morning, heading back to their home base at Churchill Downs. Then it’s on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks with Oxbow and possibly seventh-place finisher Will Take Charge. Titletown Five, Lukas’ third Preakness entrant who finished last, will run in shorter races for the rest of his 3-year-old campaign.

“I’ve always rode with the horses all my career,” said Lukas, who now has six Preakness winners, one behind Robert Walden for the all-time record in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. “I used to go on the airplanes and stand there with them all the time. We don’t fly much anymore.”

He’s “the man on the van” these days, having ridden in a pickup truck for more than 12 hours to Pimlico on Tuesday and scheduled to follow the same routine back home Sunday.

“I’ll get him home at feeding time just about,” Lukas said. “By the time I get him home and give him a bath it’ll be right about 5 o’clock. They put a bucket seat where I ride on kind of an air-ride slide thing. It’s like riding in a boat somewhere on the waves.”

This Preakness was a serious helping of history for the connections of the winner. In addition to Lukas and Calumet, jockey Gary Stevens capped an unlikely comeback at age 50 by winning his third Preakness (Silver Charm and Point Given).

Last year at this time, Stevens was working in Baltimore as a TV analyst for NBC and HRTV. Lukas said all week he was thrilled to have the Hall of Famer aboard Oxbow and was encouraged by his Derby performance.

“He’s so on top of all this stuff,” Lukas said. “He’ll tell you the fractions, who was laying fourth on the backside and everything. He’s very into this, very into this.”

Oxbow, a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, is Lukas’ first Preakness winner since Charismatic in 1999. His other Preakness winners were Timber Country (1995), Tabasco Cat (1994), Tank’s Prospect (1985) and Codex in 1980.

Over those glory days, there was a sometimes not-so-friendly rivalry with colleague Bob Baffert, who saddled Govenor Charlie to a disappointing eighth-place finish Saturday. It was Baffert’s 14th Preakness starter (five winners), well behind Lukas’ record total of 40.

“Over the years a lot of people thought that Baffert and I had a rivalry, when actually we come from pretty similar backgrounds and we’re pretty good friends,” Lukas said. “It was really significant yesterday when he came down and congratulated me right after the race. A mutual friend of ours said that when his horse didn’t look like he was getting it done at the half-mile pole, Bob and a friend were jumping up and down and saying: ‘Go get ‘em, Lukey.’ “

Lukas said almost immediately after the Preakness that he hoped to try Oxbow in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes.

“I was trying to be politically correct all week, but I thought (Oxbow) was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong, he had the best chance to overcome,” Lukas said. “Will Take Charge is so big that he has to get a clear run. He can’t check, stop, take a bump or anything. The other horse (Titletown Five) we knew was going to need a career quantum leap forward.”

 

ORB – Kentucky Derby hero Orb boarded a van bound for New York at 7 o’clock Sunday morning, showing no ill effects from Saturday’s disappointing fourth-place finish in the Preakness.

“He came out of it fine. He’s sound. Physically, everything is fine,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We’ll get him up the road and evaluate the situation to see where we’ll go.”

McGaughey didn’t have a concrete explanation for Orb’s surprisingly dull performance as the 3-5 favorite that followed a sharp, dominating 2 ½-length victory two weeks earlier at Churchill Downs.

“The racetrack was probably deep down the inside there. There was a lot of throwback. We couldn’t get to the outside. I thought he was in good position and he took him to the right position, and all of a sudden he had no horse. Why that was, I don’t know,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I think it wasn’t our day and it was Oxbow’s day.”

Saturday’s disappointment in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown only made McGaughey appreciate the Derby victory even more.

“Winning the Derby was my lifelong dream. We won it. I would have loved to win (Saturday) to take it to the next level, so I do appreciate how tough it is,” McGaughey said. “If I have the opportunity again (to compete in the Derby), I may cherish it even more, because I’ve seen how tough it is to get it done. Maybe, I do appreciate how tough it is to win more. As brilliant as we were two weeks ago, we weren’t as brilliant yesterday.”

McGaughey will monitor Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s homebred colt’s training at Belmont Park before deciding his status for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 8.

“I want to see him bounce back and see his soundness level and his energy level,” he said. “I think there are a lot of good wins down the road for him.”

 

ITSMYLUCKYDAY – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday looked bright Sunday morning, earning high marks from trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. for the manner in which he exited his second-place finish behind Oxbow in Saturday’s Preakness.

“On a 1-to-10 scale, 10-plus,” Plesa said.

Itsmyluckyday, who had finished 15th over the sloppy Churchill Downs track in the Kentucky Derby, rebounded with a strong showing at Pimlico. The son of Lawyer Ron, who was forwardly placed in fourth as Oxbow set a comfortable pace along the backstretch, kicked in through the stretch but could get no closer than 1 ¾ lengths of D. Wayne Lukas’ sixth Preakness winner.

“I wouldn’t take anything away from Wayne’s horse, but they went the half in 48-and-change. That’s pretty much walking. Did that help his horse? Absolutely. Did it hurt my horse? Absolutely,” Plesa said. “I won’t say anything other than: ‘I wish the pace would have been quicker.’”

Plesa said Itsmyluckyday’s dismal Derby showing did nothing to undermine his confidence in his colt’s abilities, but he was happy that the Florida-bred got a chance to prove his critics wrong.

“Everybody was throwing him out because he couldn’t get the distance and he ran a lousy race. I hate to use slop as an excuse, but it was a valid excuse. We all knew that,” Plesa said. “Not for us, but for other people, it validates his ability.

That’s not a bad thing. They’re like your children. You don’t like to read something bad about your children. We know what we have. He’s an exceptional horse; there’s no doubt about it.”

A start in the Belmont Stakes is far from a definite for the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner.

“It’s 50-50 at best,” Plesa said.

Itsmyluckyday, who was scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Sunday, is a far more definite candidate to run in the Haskell Invitational at the New Jersey track on July 28.

“The Haskell is on my list. God willing, that’s a certainty,” Plesa said.

 

MYLUTE - Fourteen hours after his colt finished third in the Preakness, trainer Tom Amoss said Sunday that he was even more impressed with the performance than he was Saturday.

“Upon reflection, I think my horse ran the best race of his career,” Amoss said. “The slow pace was impossible for us to overcome and yet he still ran a very good race. I don’t know where the rest of the speed went in yesterday’s Preakness. It looked like there was quite a bit on paper, but it just didn’t materialize.”

Amoss said the son of Midnight Lute owned by GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm has earned a little bit of time off.

“As far as future plans, nothing is on the board right now,” he said. “I’ll get together with the owners at the beginning of the week and we’ll discuss what to do. He’s had two races close together and I think that’s going to be taken into account when we have that conversation.”

And Amoss saluted the winning trainer and jockey combination of Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens. Lukas, 77, won his record 14th Triple Crown race and Stevens, 50, earned his third Preakness just a few months after ending a seven-year retirement.

“It was a masterful job,” Amoss said. “As far as Wayne is concerned, you’ve got to tip your hat to him. Over the last year he’s made a remarkable comeback and put himself where he used to be, which is at the top of the trainers’ charts.”

 

GOLDENCENTS – Trainer Doug O’Neill and his fifth-place Preakness finisher Goldencents will not be going on to Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes as originally planned. Team O’Neill and the colt departed early Sunday morning to return to Southern California.

“It doesn’t make sense to go on to the Belmont,” O’Neill said. “We had talked prior (to the Preakness) that if we didn’t run huge and came out of it great, we wouldn’t come back in three weeks. Even though I’m very proud of him and the way Kevin (Krigger) rode him, I just don’t think coming back in three weeks off that effort is the right move.”

Last year, O’Neill left Pimlico looking for a sweep to the Triple Crown with I’ll Have Another, who had followed up his Kentucky Derby win with a score in the Preakness. He would never get the opportunity when the son of Flower Alley came down with a leg injury that forced him to be scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes.

Goldencents, a three-time stakes winner going into this year’s Kentucky Derby, was a dismal 17th at Churchill Downs, but O’Neill believed the sloppy, sealed race track was largely responsible for that. He admitted the son of Into Mischief simply couldn’t keep up with Preakness winner Oxbow after briefly heading him coming out of the gate on Saturday.

“We’ll relax and see what’s in the cards five, six, seven weeks down the road,” O’Neill said. “You’ve got the 3-year-old series on the turf down at Del Mar, so we could possibly try a different surface with him.

“Or we could go over him good, train him out there and then look for races like the Haskell or Travers somewhere down the road. We’ll huddle up with the owners and put together a game plan. He’s a good horse. You’ll be hearing from him.”

 

DEPARTING - Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s War Front gelding was shipped back to Kentucky Sunday morning following his sixth-place finish in the Preakness.

“He’s fine, but he cooled out very tired,” trainer Al Stall said.

Stall said he had not talked with the owners about future plans for Departing, but that he would not be participating in the Belmont Stakes.

 

GOVENOR CHARLIE - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported Sunday that the eighth-place finisher came out of the race in good shape and was being shipped back to California with stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay, the winner of the Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

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Horse Racing Progress: GQ and “Mel” Join Forces

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Horse Racing Progress: GQ and “Mel” Join Forces

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Gary Quill

Progress. Webster defines progress, “positive development, usually of a gradual kind, toward achieving a goal or reaching a higher standard”.  In the 40+ years that I’ve been an enthusiastic thoroughbred horse racing fan, there has been plenty of progress. Racing surfaces, medications, jockey and horse equipment, tote systems and types of wagers have all been part of the progress in terms of safety and the quality of the horse racing product.

From a fans standpoint, there has been progress on many fronts. Information is one example. Now there are multiple sources from where one can obtain Past Performances (PPs) instead of just one. The PPs provide additional statistics such as jockey win percentages at a specific tracks’ meet and YTD, with a trainer for the current meet and YTD; a trainers’ win percentage with “Shippers”, “3rd off Layoff”, “1st time Blinkers” and so on. A horses’ record on a fast dirt track v. off track v. turf v. synthetic surfaces is at your fingertips, unlike yesteryear when one needed the memory of an elephant to recall if Port Conway Lane liked an off track or not. The only hint was seeing an asterisk (“*”),”X” or an X inside a circle, to the right of the horse name, which indicated his/her prowess on an off track. Are you old enough to remember those?

PP's

A true speed rating used to require simple addition of the Speed Rating plus Track Variant. Now anyone under the age of 35 thinks Beyer (or Bris) Speed Figures are “bible” and find it impossible to pick winners without them. Same is true with Tomlinson (or Bris) Pedigree numbers. Fractions were measured in 5th’s, not 100th’s of a second and unless you were at the track to witness every race ever run, you didn’t have a clue if any of the top 3 finishers of a given race came back to win their next start.

Even with all of this progress, there is a one aspect of thoroughbred horse racing that, until now, had fallen by the wayside, an equine cartoonist. For 53 years (1955-2008) Pierre Bellocq aka Peb” was the staff cartoonist for the Daily Racing Form. This French-American’s cartoons and caricatures earned him recognition worldwide. As a kid in the 60’s when my Dad would buy “The Form”, I’d look forward to seeing his work on the cover of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes editions. But that ended in December 2008.

Enter Marcy Leonard, aka “Mel”. In my humble opinion, Mel fills the void left when Peb retired. Thanks to social media, Twitter to be specific, I recently discovered Mel which led me to Daily Racing Funnies DOTCOM (www.dailyracingfunnies.com). The website features all of Mel’s equine drawings. From Aqueduct to Woodbine and many tracks in between, her gallery is impressive considering she didn’t draw her first (equine) “Funnie” until 2011.

Daily Racing Funnie

In an effort to give Mel’s “Funnies” exposure they truly deserve, I offered to use them in my blogs. After trading numerous emails of negotiating (not really) with Mel and her better half Rick, we settled on a “relationship” which is basically an old-fashion, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” arrangement. Because after all, GQ wants, needs and deserves (tongue in cheek) more exposure too.

It is my hope that you will join me in welcoming Mel into OUR horse racing inner circle and $upport her (and my) passion for this sport we all love, as she expresses it through art for our enjoyment.

My BEST BET of 2013: The Daily Racing Form or Bloodhorse come knocking on Mel’s door with contract in hand, leaving GQ out in the cold. Dooooohhhhhllllll!!!!!!

* Daily Racing Funnies are courtesy of Mel should not to be copied or produced and distributed without Mel’s written consent.

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Two time Preakness winner Stevens to return to racing

Posted on 04 January 2013 by WNST Staff

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Two months shy of his 50th birthday, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is launching a comeback this weekend at Santa Anita.

“My passion is still there,” Stevens said Thursday in announcing his return after a seven-year retirement. “Or I should say my passion has come back. I’ve worked a couple of very good horses in the morning at Santa Anita that kind of made the hair stand up on my neck and I haven’t felt that in a long time.”

Stevens’ first race will be Sunday at Santa Anita, with his lone mount in a $50,000 claiming race on a horse named Jebrica.

“I’m going to be selective in what I ride and if that means not riding at all or upsetting people then so be it,” he said. “I didn’t come back to ride five days a week and ride nine races a day. I came back to ride some quality horses with hopefully some good futures.”

He retired in November 2005 after battling knee pain that had him downing anti-inflammatories every day for the last 15 years of his career.

“Knees, they were never 100 percent, I’ll tell you, but compared to my last five years of riding they’re about 120 percent now,” Stevens said, adding that the medications damaged his liver. “Fortunately, the liver is able to repair itself and I’m healthy.”

Stevens said he’s been working with a personal trainer and attended a program in Bellevue, Wash., that taught him how to eat a diet featuring high-protein and carbohydrates along with healthy fats. In retirement, his weight reached 146 pounds, but now Stevens said he’s “down to 119 without trying.”

“I’m sleeping well, no medications,” he said.

Stevens’ wife, Angie Athayde, said, “He cut out smoking, drinking, sugar. He went really hard-core.”

She and the couple’s young daughter visited Stevens in Washington state over Thanksgiving, where food and drink were in abundance.

“I said, `Are you OK? They’re drinking,”‘ she said of the get-together. “He said, `It’s not the drinking. It’s the pie.”‘

Athayde said she’s excited for him to resume riding.

“It’s long overdue,” she said. “He’s been so miserable not riding. I told him, `You’ve got to get back on a horse.”‘

Stevens has been working as a racing commentator for HRTV on weekends and for NBC Sports during the Triple Crown series, and he said he’ll continue in those jobs while juggling his riding commitments.

The TV work provides a fallback plan if his comeback is thwarted by his knees.

“I don’t know that that pain won’t come back. Only time will tell,” Stevens said.

Then there’s the danger involved in riding 1,200-pound thoroughbreds going 40 mph in a race.

“Anything can happen at any time,” he said. “I know being out there it’s not a question of if I’m going to hit the ground, it’s when. But I’m probably fitter than I’ve been. I know I’ll able to handle the blow. The risk is worth the reward at this point.”

For now, Stevens is working without an agent, although he indicated he may have one soon. He said he’s looking forward to riding a few horses in particular, although he declined to provide their names.

In addition to his TV duties, Stevens has worked as a jockey agent, opened his own racing stable, and done some acting. He played jockey George Woolf in “Seabiscuit” and played a down-on-his-luck jockey in the HBO racing series “Luck” that was cancelled after a brief run last year.

Stevens won 4,888 races and more than $221 million in purses during a career that began in 1979 at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho. He’s won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes three times each, and twice won the Preakness Stakes. His other highlights include winning the Santa Anita Derby nine times and eight Breeders’ Cup races.

In 1997, Stevens was elected to racing’s Hall of Fame and the following year he won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding jockey.

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