[Worstverse] Pt 2: Werewolves MIGHT Not Be Assholes Hey again guys. It's been a while, couple of months since the first post and yeah... The response was crazy. But beyond that, the stuff that happened in the days, weeks, and months after that post was even more crazy... Crazier? More crazier? Whatever, you get it. But before I get started, I'm actually a chick. Apparently a lot of you figured I was a guy because my crush(now full fledged girlfriend) was a girl. Apologies, I should have been more descriptive about my groin region in the last post. ANYWAY... Here we go again. Alright, so a few days after the post I saw a news report that unnerved the absolute hell out of me. As I was making my way through the neglected mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen I heard Jasmine call for me to come into the living room of my apartment. A started to ask her what she was carrying on about, but as I rounded the corner and the TV came into view I stopped in my tracks as the image of a burned shack in the middle of the woods glared by at me from the screen. "Isn't that the..." Jasmine started to ask, but I cut her off before she could finish. "Did they say anything about the bodies?" "No. Actually they said there was no sign of human remains. They're apparently looking for the..." She trailed off. I could tell she was thinking back to the men from that night. I might have made it seem like we just brushed it off in the first post, but it was pretty traumatizing for everyone involved. We had talked about it a little, as much as she could for as long as she could hold it together at least. I took it upon myself to start taking a class to learn to protect myself. Not like those cheesy "Grab here while stepping here and striking here" women's self defense courses though. I found a combat school ran by this big Australian bastard that has a more "Take this pointy knife thingy and stab the fucker in the eye till he lets go" approach, and that has some real appeal to me after everything that happened. I'm not much more badass than I was at the time, but I'm getting used to the idea of wrecking someone's shit at least. I'm still trying to convince Jasmine to come to a class with me but I think the whole ordeal had a more introverting effect on her. Dex has decided to get in shape to, and I quote, "Protect you lady folk like a real man." I don't think Dex understands that the community at large has never seen him as a towering monument to masculinity, but at least he's getting healthy. He's taken up cycling. Incidentally the most noticeable change in his appearance so far is that every other day he shows up with a new patch of road rash somewhere on his body. "You don't think there's anything there that'll lead them back to us do you?" She asked worriedly. "N-no. Nah, everything got burned. Besides, we didn't do anything wrong. Why would the police be looking for us?" I asked back. "I don't mean the police." She responded. "I mean there might be other people who have something to do with that lab. What if they moved the bodies and they come looking for us?" She continued. "How would they even find-" I began before being interrupted, as if by some form of divine orchestration, by a loud and assertive knock on the door. The apartment fell into a ringing silence. I began to slowly drag my feet towards the door, inch by inch. Taking at least three times longer than it should have to finally get there, I began to reach out for the knob as another series of loud raps cracked through the quiet and cause me to convulse in shock. I turned to look back at Jasmine who's hands were now clutched in front of her mouth as she watched me reach for the knob one more time with wide eyes. Taking a deep breath I twisted the doorknob and cracked the door just enough to peek out into the hallway. "YO!! Grub Hub! Got your tacos aaaand quesadillas? Yep, quesadillas." "Jesus Christ! It's the god damn taco guy!" I called to Jasmine, realizing we both had completely forgot about ordering food earlier. It wasn't until a few days later, as I closed the door to my room after coming home from work I heard a voice from behind me. "We need to talk." The voice said, causing me to nearly choke on my own tongue in surprise. I wheeled around to face the source of the noise to see a young man close to my age with deeply tanned skin, dark black hair and stubble, and a red bandanna tied around his head. His clothes were normal clothes, just... put together weirdly. It was hard for me to place at the time. He had an old, tattered red t-shirt underneath an even older black vest. His pants were baggy and frayed at the ankles where they had been cut short to reveal his bare feet. A pirate. He looked like an effing pirate. There was a pirate in my apartment. A had apartment pirates. "WHAT-WHO THE-WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU IN MY ROOM?!" I screamed as I yanked out the knife I had started keeping on me. "Whoa! Take a chill pill there Gamora. After all, you've already had my uhhhh..." The man paused as he produced a stack of papers from his back pocket and began to flip through them. "Uuuh, werewolf dong knocking against your exposed skin." He finished. "I.... What?" I asked in bewilderment. "Yeah." He answered. "I figure after having my dork on your leg, that's a few steps past me seeing the granny panties and lightsaber you got stashed in your top drawer. Plus you kinda pissed yourself right in front of me and God and everyone else, so..." I stood there in silence for a few seconds, my jaw hanging open in absolute confusion before shrieking "YOU WENT THROUGH MY STUFF?!!" It's weird the places your mind can go during situations like that. "Well yeah. You don't go through people's stuff when you break into their bedrooms?" He chuckled. "I don't break into people's rooms!" I shouted back at him. "Wait... The werewolves. You're one of the werewolves." I said as all the gears in my brain finally lined back up, allowing me to think like an actual rational person. "Finally caught on did ya?" He said. "Took long enough. And here I came all this way and not even a hello, how ya been, thanks for saving me and all my friends from getting Bobby Trippe'd and murdered in the middle of nowhere, n-" "WHY ARE YOU HERE?!!" I interrupted at the top of my lungs. "And why are you dressed like a pirate?!" I added, the gold hoop in his ear accentuating his swashbuckling appearance had only added to my frustration. "First of all, that's very offensive. We prefer the term privateer Americans. And second, I'm here about this." He said, waving around the stack of papers he produced a few moments ago. "Your little story got pretty popular. The people that ran that drug operation are going to be looking for whoever fucked up all their shit. And this is going to lead them right back to you as soon as they find it. AND... you can bet your ass the ones that run that show are a lot worse than the creeps you ran into out there." "But how? I didn't even use my name the entire post." I asked, the anger and energy starting to ebb a little with his last statement. "You used ALL of your friends real names! Do you have any idea how easy it is to find out where someone is with just first names and social media?" He scolded. "It took me like 3 hours after I found the post to find out who you were, and another day to find exactly where you live! LOOK!" He continued, pulling out his phone and swiping a few times before showing me the screen. "You even accepted my friend request jackass!" I just stood there, stunned for a few seconds. A dramatically different feeling from only a few moments before. My shock, anger, and mild embarrassment had been swapped for a deep, sinking in the pit of my gut. I might have just led some very bad people back to me and all my friends. And Jasmine... Taking a few more seconds to process everything I finally began to speak again. "I liked you better when you couldn't talk." I mumbled, staring at the ground in shame. "And I liked you better when you were more grateful for me saving your ass." He replied. After a few seconds of shooting each other fowl looks I broke the quiet with, "So where's the other one of you?" "She's... taking care of a few things then she'll be headed this way." He replied with a shit eating grin. "Until then we just chill here." He said as he started to open the door and walk into the living room. "Oh no! You are not camping out in the living room!" I exclaimed, jumping between him and the open door. "I AM NOT explaining you to Steven!(my room mate)" "Ok, your room it is." He said, walking across the room and plopping down on my bed, kicking his feet up as his did. "Your feet are fucking filthy." I growled, noticing the blackened bottoms of his feet resting on my clean blanket. "Huh, what?" He mumbled to himself, grabbing his ankle and pulling it up to check. "Oh shit you're right." He said as he wiped his nasty man paws on the blanket. "There, how's that?" He asked, proudly displaying his now slightly less dirty feet to me. I could tell he genuinely thought he had just done something good by cleaning his feet on my blanket. He thought I was mad they were dirty so he cleaned them to make me happy. I had more of an urge to scratch his ear than yell at him at that point. I looked at the sullied comforter and felt my eye twitch a little and just decided to sit down in my office chair. "Exactly how long are we supposed to be waiting?" I groaned several hours later, through my hands I had been resting my face in for the past 90 minutes or so. "Not much longer." He said, checking a wrist watch that very obviously wasn't there. "Well... Thanks for like... helping again and junk." I said with my chin still resting in my hands. "Oh don't get too excited. You got lucky last time. This one's gonna cost ya." He said, laying his head back on the pillow. "That's... cryptic." I replied suspiciously. "So... what's your name?" I added. "Milo." He answered plainly. "Oh. Hmm." I huffed to myself, mildly disappointed that it wasn't some cliché Underworld werewolf name like Lucian or Raz or something. About ten more minutes past before I heard Milo's phone chirp. He slid it out of his pocket and checked the screen. "That's her." He said, clumsily climbing out of my bed. "They're at the front door." He added. "No no. You stay. I'll go let her in." I said, hurriedly standing from my chair. Unfortunately that didn't go well at all. Several hours of sitting with my elbows on my legs had given me major toilet leg and as I stood both of my now COMPLETELY numb legs tried to fold backwards in on themselves. This caused my whole body to crumple face first into the hardwood floor of my room with a dull thud. I heard a loud cackle as Milo pressed his face into my pillow, kicking his feet with manic laughter. "Oh god, I'm sorry. I shouldn't laugh. Are you ok?" He asked, still chuckling as tears rolled down his cheeks. I shot him a hateful look as I wobbled to my feet. I somehow managed to baby deer walk across the apartment to the front door as the living hell of pins and needles began to set in. I cracked the door just to make sure who was actually supposed to be there, was. As she came into view I caught myself looking at what could have been the most gorgeous creature to ever walk the face of the earth. I slowly swung the door the rest of the way open, reveling her and all her splendor. She had the thickest curly black hair that spun its way down past her shoulders and over her dark, olive skin. Her eyes were a light blue and seemed to go on forever just like a clear sky on a sunny day at the beach. She was draped in clothes the same color and fashion as Milo, but infinitely more lavish and beautiful. She was about as inconspicuous as a Christmas day parade. "Hello! My name is Teagan. It's so nice to see you again!.... My love, are you not well?" She spoke with the heaviest eastern European accent I had ever heard, and even that was beautiful to my ears. She must have taken my moment of total unresponsive silence coupled with my erratically trembling legs as some form of illness. I don't think I had ever blushed so hard in my life. Suddenly Jasmine stepped between us with a scowl. "She's fine!" She said sharply. "Come on stud. Back so we can all get in." "What are you-Who's we? Who's all here?" I stuttered, trying to peek around the corner to no avail. "Everyone." She answered. "Dex, Trey, Joanna, and Lesley. Teagan rounded us all up and brought us here. She told us who she was and that she'll explain everything once we get to your place." Not even attempting to resist at this point I just put my finger over my mouth, gesturing for them to be quiet so they didn't disturb my room mate, then silently lead the small crowd into my increasingly packed room. Coming in last, I managed to shove and elbow my way back to my chair and sat down as Milo began to explain the entirety and severity of the situation. "So... this wasn't just a social visit because you both missed us so much?" Trey said sarcastically, breaking the silence that fell once Milo's exposition was over. Teagan quickly strolled over to him. "Oh no my love! We missed you so very much as well! You are all such wonderful people!" She exclaimed, hugging him tightly when she reached him. Apparently she didn't catch the sarcasm as was attempting to comfort him. We all new she was just being nice, but I think we all also chose to believe it on the grounds of the idea that the corporeal angel we were currently confined in my room with missed us warmed our hearts. This woman oozed mama bear energy like you can't even imagine. "So we have a bunch of meth dealers about to go Walter White on our asses and we're supposed to do... what, exactly? Call the police?" Dex asked over Teagan's soothing hums as she rocked poor Trey in her arms as she continued to hug him comfortingly. "Oh it's not really that simple." Milo answered back. "They're not juuust meth dealers. They might, kinda, sorta be... vampires." "VAMPIRES!! Bullshit! Nope! You're just screwing with us again! GET. OUT!" I yelled, jumping up from my chair. I had had enough. I was tired and hungry and ill tempered and everyone was in my room and I was over it. All I could think was of the nerve it took for them to pull some shit like this after everything we'd already been through. "Ok calm d-" Milo started before I picked up the nearest heavy object and got ready to chuck it at his head. "HEY! Hey! I was a 7 foot tall murder pupper the first time you saw me. Would it really be going out on a limb to entertain the idea that vampires might just possibly be a thing?" He added, his hands out in front of him, ready to repel my impending attack. Hearing him call himself a 7 foot murder pupper made me crack a begrudging smile. Still holding the empty mug over my head, this gave me a second to actually remember that I had been considering the possibility of what other creatures like that might exist ever since that night. "I mean... I guess, maybe." I said, placing the mug back down on my desk. "Well? So how do... vampires tie into all this shit?" I continued, choking slightly on the word as it made its way up. "Ok, you know how we add things to our food to make it taste better? Like butter and salt and pepper? Well they like to do that too. And one of the ways they like to do that, one of their favorite ways, is meth. They get some poor schmuck spun out on the stuff, and then, right after their last hit, as they're on their last breath of life, they suck them dry like a meth head cocktail. The drug apparently effects the taste of the blood in just such a way that it, combined with the effects of the actual drug itself, is like a total delicacy for them. It's kinda like how people do veal, just slightly less fucked up maybe. And selling the meth means they make hella cash while they take the Snack Packs to Flavor Town." "That's really messed up..." Lesley spoke up. "But what are we supposed to do? Can't you guys just, you know, turn back into wolves and get rid of them?" "It is not so simple my sweet darling." Teagan answered. "Turning to a wolf is not so easy as in movies and takes time and preparation." "What do you mean?" Trey asked, having finally escaped Teagan's clutches. "You know how in the movies you see some dude morph into a giant wolf that's like twice as massive as he was as a regular person? Well did you ever stop to think where all that extra mass comes from?" Milo answered. "To get that big we have to eat that much and more before hand. That shit doesn't just come from nowhere. We have to collect it, eat it, store it, THEN change." He continued to explain. "So me and Teagan need a place to, well... store, and before that we have to figure out where they are operating so we can plan and get ready. Also we are going to need A LOT of food. We're gonig to get rid of them for you, but we're also going to need your help this go round." Teagan added, "You also need somewhere to stay not home. Regular homes aren't safe. They'll find you there and us if we stay too." All of a sudden every eye was on me. In confusion I looked over my shoulders hoping there was someone with an actual idea standing behind me. There wasn't. So I said the only thing I could think of. "I... could call Gay Jake." About an hour later we all had small travel bags packed with clothes, phone chargers, tooth brushes, and were on our way to Gay Jake's. Gay Jake lived on the outside of town in his own house, and thanks to his parents, had more money than God. It also happened that his best friend Lita was staying there while she was in town. This was super lucky because she like hunts or used to hunt poachers or something. Anyway, she's supposed to have killed more men than malaria, and while Milo and Teagan are getting their shit together I think we'd all be pretty safe around her should something go down at the house. Milo and Teagan ended up riding with me and Jasmine in the back seat. About half way there Teagan asked, "So you think we can trust this Gay Jake with out secrets and to keep them safe?" Jasmine answered, "Oh yeah totally. Gay Jake is keeping secrets about half of the people in the state from the other half of them. He's one of the nicest people in the world too. I don't think he's ever not helped someone when they needed it. But he does have a really fruity southern accent so please don't make fun of him." "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!" Milo screeched from the back seat. "He's rich, super nice, has dirt on everyone, has a super fruity southern accent, AND his name is Gay Jake?! He sounds like the coolest guy ever and I have to meet him! I NEED to meet him." Jasmine and I both laughed at the idea that the actual mythical creature in the back of the car was so excited to meet Gay Jake. After that it took about 10 minutes to get to the house, going slow to keep from drawing attention or anything. We pulled in at close to 11:00, only to see Gay Jake's body lying in the middle of the driveway. "HOLY SHIT! Is he ok?!" Milo yelled from the back as Teagan gasped in shock. "He's fine." I said. "That's just how he waits for company sometimes. Move shit head!" I yelled out the window, laying on the car horn as I did. His arm popped up off the ground, middle finger proudly extended, a large grin cracking across his face. As he hoisted himself off the ground I yelled again, "I will run your gay ass over!" "Well now isn't that the carpet muncher calling the kettle black!" He said, walking over to the open window. "Yall alright? You get here ok?" He asked, sticking his head through the window to check on everyone. "Yeah, everyone else ought to be pulling up in a second. We really owe you one for this Jake." I answered. "Oh hunny yall don't owe me a damn thing. Now go on up there and get parked and head inside. I'll make sure everyone else gets in alright." He exclaimed. "And help yourselves to anything in the kitchen. Yall know where everythin' is. It hadn't changed none." "I... love... him..." Milo whispered in my ear as we drove up the driveway to park. We all filed into the house, which was immaculate and well decorated as always. Although through no doing of Gay Jake himself. "Just cause I like men don't mean I know what lamp goes with those curtains." He would say when someone asked if he did the decorating himself. We spread out as we entered through the back door and all found a place to sit. All except for Milo who made a B line for the kitchen. "So... How do you, or I should say how does one end up a werewolf?" Jasmine asked to break the silence. "If it's ok to ask." She added. Teagan got up out of her seat and sat down next to Jasmine, wrapping her arm around her shoulders and pulling her in closer. "Oh darling, you may ask me any questions you like. To be werewolf you have to exchange the fluids with an already werewolf." She explained. "Oh, so a bite? They do have to bite you?" Jasmine said. coughcough Milo exaggerated from the entrance to the kitchen to get our attention. He shook his head then held up both hands, making a circle with his thumb and index finger with one and extended the index finger of the other before moving his extended index finger in and out of the circle few times. Once he was satisfied with our disgusted he retreated once again into the kitchen. "Oh... Oh my." Jasmine said, turning back towards Teagan who had an affirmingly blushed expression on her face. "So... did one of you... You know... the other?" She added. "Yes. I met Milo when he came to my home of Romania on vacation. He had much more money back then. A gift from his grandfather when he died I think. I made him werewolf there then we came back here together." Teagan explained. "That sounds like a beautiful story." Jasmine gushed. "Oh darling it is! I must tell you all of it sometime!" Teagan said as Joanna, Trey, Lesley, and Dex walked in from the back door, followed shortly by Gay Jake. "What happened to Talk Dark and Mansome you pulled in here with?" Gay Jake asked me as he made his way in, looking around at everyone. "He's in the kitchen." I answered. "Alright, I'm gonna go get him in here then you're gonna tell me all about whatever this shit is yall got yourselves into." Gay Jake said before heading into the kitchen. I had just begun to ask if they had noticed anything unusual on their way over but before I could get the words out I heard a racket in the kitchen. Milo came whipping around the corner with his arms up over his head for cover, Gay Jake close behind yelling and swatting at him with a paper plate. "Go on now! Shoo! Git! Scat! I was saving that for later!" Gay Jake screamed, continuing his paper plate barrage. "He just ate damn near everything in my refrigerator and still sniffed out the damn cheeseburger in the microwave I just got before yall got here and hadn't got to eat yet!" He complained with visible distress. Milo ran across the room in an attempt to seek shelter from Gay Jake's fury. As he did I noticed that, unlike before, his once fairly average body now had a pretty noticeable gut that jiggled as he ran. "He can really put it away." I thought to myself. "We'll go get you another cheeseburger." I reassured him in an attempt to rescue Milo... the werewolf. Once I got everything calmed down and everyone got situated in the living room, I began to explain the ENTIRETY of the situation to him. Gay Jake, never being the judgmental type, took the insanity of the story in stride. Though he did have some well founded disbelief. "Nah, bullshit. I'm not gonna sit here and have someone tell me that these two are some damn werewolves." He said, pointing in the direction of Milo and Teagan. "And yall want me to believe that yall are in trouble with... drug dealing vampires because Hamburglar over there burned down their meth lab? What they hell are you kids on?" "I know it's sounds like the weirdest, craziest shit on earth but it's true." Trey spoke up. "Maybe if one of them could like turn into a wolf, would that convince you?" He added. "Ok yeah, you get one of them to turn into a wolf in front of me and I'll believe it." Gay Jake answered. "But didn't you hear them?" Lesley interjected. "They said they have to prepare and that it takes time. They can't just-" "Yeah I got this!" Milo said, hopping up from his seat and rolling up his right sleeve to the shoulder. He held out his arm and started to strain and grunt as the muscles in his arm began to tighten. Slowly they began to grow as his skin darkened. Before long thick, black hairs began to sprout and then, suddenly... SNAP!! POP!! CRUNCH!! His arm began to stretch along with his fingers. "SHIT!" He shouted on the first loud snap. He then clenched his jaw and grimaced as his right arm became unrecognizable to what it was moments ago. "Come on you fuckers. Almost there." He said to himself through gritted teeth, as he flexed and shook the tips of his elongated fingers as the nightmarish claws began to protrude and pop away the fingernails they were growing out from under. As this went on I was the only one who noticed that his newly obtained belly had been receding back into its normal size. "Oh my god are you ok?! That looks like it hurt like a bitch!" Gay Jake shouted as he ran to Milo's aid, who's face was now bright red and covered in sweat. His right arm now looked exactly as it had the night we met, and do mean EXACTLY. It was way out of proportion to his body, the tips of his claws just short of touching the floor. Once Gay Jake had a chance to take everything in, we began to get on the same page. He had always been one to stay calm and take things pretty well, but I don't think anyone expected him to just accept that a man grew a werewolf arm right in front of him. When I asked him how he managed to stay so cool in the situation he replied with a sassy, "Sweetheart, if I look this good and I'm still single then anything is possible." After that we sat and talked for hours in attempt to formulate a plan. But like most people our age, we only managed to agree to put it off until later and focus on getting more food. It became apparent that we weren't going to get anywhere after Gay Jake spoke out mid conversation. "Alright look! You're gonna have to do something with that!" He exclaimed, pointing at Milo's grossly oversized wolf appendage. "But you seemed so accepting of it earlier." Dex chimed in sarcastically. "I was and I am!" Gay Jake argued back. "But it still freaks me right the fuck out. I keep thinkin' it's gonna try to crawl towards me or something. Just, here, put this blanket over it." That morning I went to the grocery store accompanied by Dex and Lita, who had been asleep upstairs the night before. We also were in the company of Gay Jake's no limit credit card and Lesley's van so we could haul as much food as possible, not only to feed the troop of people currently camped out in the house, but to bulk up our two lycanthropic allies. It also turns out to everyone's surprise that Lita required absolutely no convincing that Milo and Teagan were werewolves and that we're on a spun out gang of vampires' shit list. As it would happen, Lita already new about all that shit. According to her she was a licensed member of the American United Association of Certified Vampire Control Technicians, or A.U.A.C.V.C.T for... short. Auacvct, if you prefer. She had become a memeber after meeting some guy during one of her usual anti poaching assignments that suggested she had the right stuff and showed her how to apply. Apparently it's a lot less hush hush and ceremonious than you'd think. So that means that she's not necessarily a full time vampire hunter, but she's licensed to by the government or something. I remember hearing a story about her one time. During one of her assignments with a tiger preservation organization she saw a poacher about to kill a wild tiger, and since he hadn't noticed her yet, she just shot him in the ass with her rifle and let the tiger maul him to death in the mild of the jungle. This chick is THE matron saint of fucks ungiven. The fact that she ended up being an actual vampire hunter seriously made me wonder if we were all extremely lucky or extremely unlucky. As she was a very fortunate, billion to one shot protection to a very unfortunate, billion to one shot problem. A fortune teller would lose their shit if they tried to read my palm at that point. As we pulled into the Walmart parking lot I wondered to myself if this wasn't possibly too much. After all we still didn't have any indication that the people who ran the operation out of that shed were even after us, and definitely nothing to suggest they were vampires. But my suspicions wouldn't last long past that. After we had finished our shopping and were headed back out to the van with two overloaded buggies a piece, the call of nature struck. "Ok guys, I've got like Kentucky Derby levels of race horse piss in my bladder, so I'm gonna run back in real quick. It'll just take a second." I said as I loaded my last bag into the vehicle. "A second my ass!" Dex complained. "You've got like the biggest bladder of anyone on earth. You're going to be in there forever. Where do you even put it all?" "Pee is stored in the balls!" I yelled back at him as I walked away, knowing how much he hated that saying. I heard his agitated "UGH!" fade into the distance as I got close to the entrance. When I walked through the doors I saw that the greeter had switched from the one who was there when we first arrived. Where the first greeter was an older man, this new one seemed to be a middle age woman who's hair and makeup could only be described as "I'd like to speak to your manager." It only got worse as she greeted me in the most energetic, peppy voice possible. A morning person... I'd have rather ran right down the mouth of one of those bipedal meth mosquitoes than a morning person. I managed to grimace a smile and a nod as I passed by and headed to the restrooms. On my way there, in one of the aisles I passed by a man in a hoodie who kept staring at me as I walked by. I decided that if he started to follow me I'd call Lita and tell her to get her G.I. Jane ass in here. But he stayed where he was and I made it to the bathroom in one piece. I walked in and slipped into a stall to do my business. While I was in it I thought I might have heard the door to the restroom open but it was so quiet I figured it must have been the door to the men's room instead. Once I had finished bleeding the phantom lizard I popped the latch on the stall door and started to walk out only to be impeded by the wide smiling face of... the morning person from the front of the store. "Ugh." I thought. "Excuse me ma'am." I said trying to step past her. But to my surprise she put her hand against my chest and shoved me back into the stall, hard. My head bounced of the tile wall and my vision dotted and speckled as I fought to stay conscious. I came to my senses just as she leaned down into my face. "I thought that was you! You're staying right here sugar." She hummed in that same insufferably cheerful voice. "I'm just going to call for a little help and then we're going to cart you off and torture you until you tell us where all your little friends are." "I'm not going any fucking where with you..." I mumbled, still in a daze from the impact. "You have to take me out of this bathroom and the second you do I'll pitch a bitch like you can't imagine. You'll never make it out the door with me." "HAHA! Oh no sugar, you won't be doing a darn thing after I take just enough blood out to not kill you. Why you won't even be able to stand on your own after I'm done. Now let me just get comfortable first and..." She cooed. She then started to lift me off the floor and up against the stall partition. As fear and panic started to set in I tried to scream but she pressed her hand over my mouth so hard I could taste blood from my lip. I kicked and squirmed and punch but nothing even seemed to bother her as I felt the hand on my mouth begin to push my head to one side and expose my neck. I watched in horror as her face aged 40 years in front of me. Her now bloodshot eyeballs seemed to bulge from their sockets as she opened her mouth and extended her tongue. At that point her front teeth had began to retract upwards to reveal just two large, sharp, triangular fangs that spanned the entirety of where all of her original teeth should have been. After this the top of her tongue began to split down the middle and blossom open to expose rows upon rows of tiny, cactus like spines, making a revolting suction sound as it did. She started to lean in towards me, excitement gurgling from her open maw. I still couldn't pry myself from her grip despite my frantic struggle. Just as I felt her hot breath on my face I slammed the point of my knife straight into her exposed eye with every bit of strength I could muster. While she had been putting her game face on I had managed to get my hand underneath my shirt and free the knife from my waistband. I felt the tip hit bone and a grinding, scrapping sensation as the blade slid across the back of the socket. I took my other hand and hammered it into the butt of the handle just to really sink it in. The knife was pulled from my grip as she snatched her head sideways, emitting a screech of agony as she hit the floor and began to flail. I didn't hesitate. I bolted from the stall and slammed into the locked door, frantically trying to turn the latch I finally managed to get it open and take off through the store. By the time I got back to the van Lita was in the driver's seat facing Dex in the back. I opened the passenger door and got in as fast as possible. "See! I told you that you'd take forever! We've been in here for like 15 minutes and Lita keeps doing that thing where she keeps saying "I must break you" in Dloph Lundgrin's voice and she knows it freaks me out!" Dex griped as I sat down. "It's not my fault he's a pu-... Hey are you ok?!" Lita said once she turned to look at me and saw the sweat running down my face and the blood dripping out of my mouth. Before I could collect my thoughts and answer, broken glass exploded in the cab from the driver's side window. Morning Bitch must have went out a back door, circled around, and dived through the window after us. It took took Lita a second to orient herself but once she did, oh boy. Ohhh boy. Operation Oh Hell No went into full effect. Lita grabbed the handle of my knife that was still sticking out of her eye socket to hold her head in place and started raining down elbows on her temple like it was what all the cool kids were doing. Every blow bouncing Morning Bitch's head off the steering wheel causing the horn to bark out over the sounds of Dex freaking the absolute fuck out in the back. Lita continued the onslaught until the blade finally slipped loose from her head, allowing her to slide out of the window and onto the pavement. As soon as we heard the dull thud of her body crumple to the ground Lita fried up the engine and peeled out of the parking lot as fast as she could. "Are you ok?" She asked once again, glancing back and forth from the road to me. "Yeah, yeah I'm good." I answered, Looking down at my hand when I felt a warm, stinging sensation in my palm. A deep gash ran through the center of my palm. My hand must have slid down onto the edge when I stabbed her. As I looked I noticed a few thin, black lines snaking their way around, peeking out from under the flowing blood as they headed down my wrist towards my arm. Sliding my hand into my pocket I reassured her, "I'm fine. Everything's fine."
How to Bet and Win the Preakness - Anatomy of the Perfect Bet
Look first of all I'd like to be honest with you, I'm not going to claim I "stumbled" upon some "crazy secret system" that nobody knows. In fact, probably more than a few people know what I'm talking about in this article. The truth is that I've been playing the Preakness among many other horse races, for at least 15 years. The Preakness is the first throroughbred race I ever attended, back in the 1990's. I had played at harness tracks, having been introduced to that at a young age, but had never been to a throroughbred track until 1996. That year, my good friend and fellow horseplayer convinced me we should go to Pimlico for a big infield party and some big horse races would break out at some point. I didn't know or care much about anything except the infield party and thought it would be fun. We brought a 12 pack and settled in. Early in the afternoon on the way up, we tuned in to the Baltimore rock station and were hearing all kinds of live music from some of our favorite bands such as Pearl Jam. We were just about pissed off at the fact that we missed some of these bands live, only to show up and find it was just a DJ playing live cuts, and the few local bands on deck hadn't even started playing yet. I was young and after the party was over and horse races had broke out, I was wondering why Louis Quatorze had won the Preakness and we hadn't bet on him. After that I began some more analysis and started using some figures from Brisnet to help me analyze the races. A couple years later I liked Charismatic in the Kentucky Derby, among like 10 other horses, but failed to have the right trifecta boxes since I had little clue what I was doing. I liked him in the Preakness as well, still at good odds since people thought his Derby victory was a fluke, but again failed to have the right trifecta when Badge showed up. But at that point I realized that a pattern was emerging. Eventually I figured this stuff out, although hard-headed about it and unwilling to part from numerical analysis from numbers that I didn't even know how were calculated. I found out it didn't really take a any magic numbers or even much analysis for a basic wagering strategy. With few exceptions, the Preakness is one of the easiest races to bet. Take the top (4-5) horses from the Kentucky Derby that run at Pimlico two weeks later, and undoubtedly 2 of them will finish in the top 4, in fact, usually the top two horses from the Derby will finish 1-2 in the Preakness. It's really that simple. After that you do have to put in some analysis to figure out which "outsiders" will infiltrate the trifecta, or possibly even win the Preakness, along with the Kentucky Derby contingent. There are various tools to use to accomplish this but I normally use one I invented. Unsatisfied with numbers from various other people and organizations with their secret calculations that I did not understand, I decided to make algorithms to create my own numbers and put them into what I call the Grid. Last year, the Grid gave me Preakness winner Shackleford at 13-1 as the top Speed and Power horse. It was an obvious key horse for me and automatic win bet at those kind of odds. Plus, he was a top four Derby finisher. Apparently people forgot he finished 4th not 14th in the Derby, which was very respectable for a frontrunner. Combine him with Derby winner and obvious favorite Animal Kingdom at 2nd, and take Astrology as an improving horse with 4th best Early Pace according to the Grid in 3rd place, and you have a very easy trifecta payout. Add Dialed In, the best Late Pace horse coming off a disappointing but respectable 8th place Derby finish, and you have a very easy superfecta. This is what I call the anatomy of a perfect Preakness exotic bet. You take any of the top 4 Derby finishers that are running at Pimlico, and key them and 1 and 2, get the "outsider" that didn't run in the Derby at good odds, and add another strong contender, usually from the Derby, such as a good late runner for 4th. You would be surprised how many times the Preakness plays out this way. Often the same horse will win the Preakness that won the Derby, which has happened less in the last few years but they still often finish in the money. And in fact the top two in the Derby often run 1-2 at the Preakness. So using the top Derby horses is obvious but where will you find the "outsiders" that will undoubtedly take up a spot or two in the superfecta? Well that is tough to come up with by yourself. Normally you will need more of an advanced handicapping tool for that, which is why I use the Grid. I can tell you that the outsider is almost always at odds from 12-1 to 15-1 so that narrows it down. The year before last the Grid of course gave me the Preakness winner, but only at 2-1 and not much value there, obviously. But also it gave me 11 of 13 winners that day including some nice long shots that provided good exotic payouts. Of course, since I wrote this, it could just happen that the top Derby horses will finish 1-4 in the Preakness, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if that happens. Especially since of my top 6 Derby winning contenders, out of 20, 4 of them finished 1-4 in the Derby. So now you know the basic strategy now for betting the Preakness. You just need to find the right long shot or two to add to your obvious Derby contenders for some nice exotic payouts. If I were you, I'd use the Grid to get them, but that's just because it always comes through for me in these situations.
Saturday November 30, 2019 Aqueduct Racetrack Race: 7 (2:46 PM EST Post) Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship Fully Vested was a close up third in the “Belmont” Sprint Championship run in a smoking 1:07.1 and scored a 100 BSF in the process. This five year old gelding by Discreet Cat beat mid level optionals two back also in “racehorse” time. Looks best in a weakly drawn field…………………….Dubini is just 1 for his last 11 but has hit the board seven times, including coming from way back to win the Laurel Dash Stakes two back. Lastly, note the BSFs of between 90 and 93 in his last six in a row….that’s pretty consistent…………….You know it’s a weak field when I have to put Vici, who is 2 for his last 19 and 0 for 8 in 2019 in the “show dough” slot. Race: 8 (3:15 PM EST Post) The Discovery Tax towers over this field in money won and “back class”. The 2019 Jim Dandy winner has chased the top three year olds, including Maximum Security, Honor Code and Tacitus, all year long and absolutely held his own throughout. Trainer Danny Gargan picks a very good spot for his return to the races here……………………..Performer is a stretch runner by Speightstown from the Shug McGaughey barn who is 3 for 4 in his career. This chestnut colt will be taking a sizable step up in class in this spot but, judging by his ascending BSF (71, 87, 96 and 95), he could be up to the task……………………Majid possesses excellent early speed as he rattled of four straight coast to coast scores in the first half of the year. This son of Shackleford clearly went out of form in the second half of the year and received a mini vacation. If he is freshened up, and I suspect he might, he’ll be the one to catch on the turn for home………………Mubarmarj is a $375,000 son of Curlin from a scalding hot Chad Brown barn who has won his last two while showing great versatility. Steps up but could be a menace. Race: 9 (4:44 EST Post) Long Island Handicap Si Que Es Buena is well named (means Yes, That is Good) as she has run well in all four North American starts. Good looking five year old mare just missed in this race last year, won back to back Stakes’, then had legitimate excuses in her last (first start off a layoff and overmatched in a Grade: 1). Drops into a very realistic spot but draws the rail which might hurt her a little. Past that, she looks best……………………..Romantic Pursuit was only beaten by a total of four lengths vs. much better in her last two. Distance will be no problem for this very well bred mare (by Medgalia d ‘Oro out of Grade: 1 winner Questing) and she looms a serious threat here…………………………Lift Up is a well traveled, stretch runner by the wickedly fast Ghostzapper who has won three of her last four. Her BSF don’t match up all that well but note the 6 for 11 record on the turf and this race does appear to set up well for her………………………………Honorable Mentions: Empressof the Nile has run well in three of her last four and is another with a good excuses in her one poor, recent outing (overmatched in a Grade: 1). Note the 2 for 2 on this turf course for this daughter of the late Pioneerof the Nile………………..Homeland Security was charging hard, late behind Empressof the Nile and just missed catching her. Daughter of Smart Strike won a Stakes race two back at Monmouth and could conceivably outrun this rating. Churchill Downs Race: 9 (4:57PM EST Post) Golden Rod Stakes This race might be a bit of a “wildcard.” There are heavy rains expected in Louisville on Saturday and only one filly in this race has ever ran on an off track. I like the versatility Finite has displayed thus far in her career. Chestnut filly by Munnings showed excellent early speed two and three races back yet came from slightly off the pace when clobbering a Stakes field in her CD debut in her last. We know the Santana Jr./Asmussen combination is deadly and, in watching her videos, I see no reason to think she will not handle the added distance here…………………….His Glory recorded an excellent second in a Grade: 2 on this oval two starts back. Filly by Mineshaft was much the best, in leading all the way, when beating high priced optionals last time out. Figures close at the end of this one………………….Turtle Trax has won two of three to start her career and looked good while pasting six horse in the final quarter mile when beating high priced optionals in her last. Note, she came home the last sixteenth of a mile in a very good :06.2, signaling to me she too shouldn’t have a problem with the stretch out in distance………………Honorable Mentions: Bean is very intriguing to me. $340,000 filly by Bernardini ran very well in both synthetics starts but stumbled and lost her rider at the break in her first start over the dirt in her last. If she is able to replicate either of those synthetics races on the dirt, she could be a menace here……………………..She can’t Sing wired maidens by a wide margin in her dirt debut. Another filly by Bernardini, her speed figures say she might be a contender in this race but her split and final times tell a different story…………………Lady Glamour has some ability but chased Finite last time out. Race: 11 (5:56 PM EST Post) Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes See the Golden Rod Stakes as this appear to be a bit of a “wildcard” also being only two of the nine colts entered have ever run on an off track. Tiz the Law could NOT have looked any more impressive coming form behind and bulldozing his rivals in the prestigious Champagne Stakes at Belmont last time out. Colt by the super hot Constitution broke poorly in that race and still won laughing. Absolute monster work last week signals to me he’s sitting on anther big race……………..In taking Tiz the Law, South Bend scares the bejesus out of me. Handsome colt by Algorithms has showed impressible late runs in all three career starts/wins. He is 2 for 2 on this oval, is another who has worked well for this (including a decent 4F in the mud) and he only appears to get stronger as the distances get longer. Serious threat right here…………………….Fighting Seabee came with a brazen late run and just missed behind South Bend in his last, which was actually his dirt debut. His speed figures are climbing and the added distance should only help……………………Honorable Mentions:Enforceable is another who is clearly improving. Regally bred colt (Tapit out of Justwhistledixie, making him a half brother to Mohaymen) looked good breaking his maiden two back then finished within shouting distance of the apparently mega talented Maxfield in a Grade:1 last time out…….could better this rating……………….After setting a quick early pace, Silver Prospector was still hanging and banging in deep stretch in his last vs. South Bend and Enforceable…………………Shotski made a bold move on the turn but hung like a cheap suit down the lane in that same race. Possible threat with a race at the route distance under his belt……………………..Lastly, watch the board 4-5 minutes before post time on Finnick the Fierce, who was wiped out at the start of his last but fought back gamely, late and was only beaten by less than two lengths. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Race: 2 (3:33 PM EST Post) Jimmy Durante Stakes Alms was visually impressive coming from behind to take both starts in NY, including the Grade: 3 matron in her last……………….Croughavouke appears to be her main competition as this filly was beaten by less that five lengths in the BC Filly Turf last time out. All four prior races, here and abroad, were all strong as well. A “must use” in any exotics betting situations……………………… Princess Caroline also merits respect off her maiden win and racing debut. Filly by the great American Phaorah won going away at 8 ½ furlongs (tough to do in your first race), is proven at the distance and has trainer well of late. Race: 6 (5:30 PM EST Post) Seabiscuit Handicap Prince Earl has run well in all six career starts, highlighted by just missing in the City of Hope Stakes last time out in a mile run in a snappy 1:32.4. This son of Paddy O’Prado won a Grade; 2 Stakes two back, so it appears he fits nicely in this spot and that last work (5F- 1:01, dogs up) was much better than it looks on paper……………….Cleopatra’s Strike is lightly raced this year but has run big in all of his starts, highlighted by taking down the John Henry Stakes in his last. Should be coming late in this spot………………..Sacred Life is another who has run well in all three U.S starts. I loved his Brisnet Speed Figures in those starts as well (97, 97 and you guessed it 97)…………………Honorable Mentions: Om totally outran his 15-1 odds in the BC Turf Sprint last time out while fishing a very good second. I just think a mile and a sixteenth is a little out of his range……………… It’s been a long time between drinks (wins) for River Boyne. In fact, I’m starting to question if he’s possibly lost a step recently. Note how this colt was 6 for 9 last year and 0 for 6 this year. If he bounces back to last year’s form, and he could here, he should be a menace. Race: 8 (6:30PM EST Post) HollywoodDerby Mo Forza is just 2 for 7 in his career but I just loved the way he won/upset the Twilight Derby in his last. Colt by Uncle Mo showed several “gears” in the running of that race, highlighted by coming home the last furlongs in smoking :11.1 second……narrow margin in a wide open horse race……………….Neptune Storm always fires his best shot and has yet to miss the board as his 2019 record of 9-4-2-3 record would indicate although he is 0 for 2 on this turf course, he must be considered off of consistency alone…………………………I’m going to give Nolde a “mulligan” for his last race/disappoint effort because he won three of his prior four races on the turf with outstanding final times in his last two………………….Honorable Mentions: Standard Deviation is 2 for 4 on the turf, including a pair of Stakes wins and ran fairly well vs. better in his other two………………..Henley’s Joy is the only Grade: 1 winner in this field but is a little too inconsistent for my liking…………….Digital Age has also disappointed of late. That said, if he bounced back to form to any one of his previous races, he’ll outrun this rating for sure…………………….Couple of other to consider include: Succeedandsurpass, who hasn’t run a bad race in five career starts and finished right behind Mo Forza twice in the past, Mr. Dumas, who is 2 for 3 on thru turf , including winning the Grade: 3 Commonwealth at Churchill last time out and Proud Pedro, who possesses a strong late run and seems to be improving but will be taking a big step up in class in this spot. By: Gerard ApadulaDirector of Equine Operations and DevelopmentKnights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])2019- Record: 77-228 = 34%2018- Record: 107-261= 41%2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%2013- Record: 20-59= 34%2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%2011 –Record: N/A2010- Record: 24-74= 33% Little Bets N’ Pieces **** Corey Nakatani, a winner of 3,909 races and more than $234 million in earnings, announced his retirement Nov. 23. Badly injured in a spill in the final race at Del Mar on Aug. 4, 2018, he wanted to return to competition, but the injuries ultimately led him to conclude his riding career. "Although I never imagined this was how my career would end, I am very proud of my accomplishments and know that I competed at the very highest of levels, which gives me a sense of satisfaction," he said in the release, distributed by his son and agent, Matt Nakatani. Among his many top mounts were Lava Man, Sandpit, My Miss Aurelia, Serena's Song, Lite Light, and Shared Belief. **** WinStar Farm stallions Daredevil and Super Saver have been acquired by the Turkish Jockey Club and will relocate to Turkey, WinStar announced Nov. 27. "The Turkish Jockey Club has done extremely well with Victory Gallop, who is the leading sire in Turkey, and has made a concerted effort to improve their stallion roster this year through the purchase of Bodemeister , Trappe Shot , Super Saver, and Daredevil, among others," said Elliott Walden, president, CEO, and racing manager of WinStar Farm. "We look forward to following their careers in Turkey." Super Saver, a 12-year-old by Maria's Mon who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby, sired 22 black type winners to date, including three Grade 1 winners in champion sprinter Runhappy, Competiive Edge, and Embellish the Lace. Daredevil, a 7-year-old son of More Than Ready, won the 2014 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. His first crop hit the racetrack in 2019 and includes multiple stakes winner Deviant, Stakes placed Shedaresthedevil, and stakes-placed Jewel of Arabia. He's sired a total of 10 winners so far this year.
I’m not recommending any exactas in a wide open race but if you consider the wager, in addition to those above also consider #11 Justinian and #13 Coil Me Home, at least for the second position on those exacta tickets.
Parsimony opens at hard to ignore 10/1 odds, mostly because he just broke his maiden, BUT this is a first level allowance and not only does he fit perfectly, he faced and ran well to much tougher foes than he faces today. So highly regarded earlier this year as a maiden, Parsimony ran in the Cinema Stakes and finished second, ran in the Los Alamitos Derby and finished second to Game Winner and ran in a couple of other stakes on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Finally put where belongs last out, in a maiden dirt sprint, he won easily at 5 to 2 and so 10/1 here could prove to be very profitable if he just repeats that last effort which earned a solid 105 Equibase Figure.
Candy Cornell has just one win in 12 career starts and four runner-up finishes but his last race, under nearly identical conditions, was his best yet as he missed by a half-length for the win and was a head behind runner-up Rogallo for second.
Rogallo was making his fifth career start that day BUT ONLY his second in a dirt sprint, having won a dirt sprint in his debut, and Candy Cornell broke his maiden in a dirt sprint, so both have good shots to be competitive right back, opening at 8/1 and 6/1, respectively.
Threefiveindia has four career wins including one at this level but is in for the optional claiming price today first off the Miller claim at the same level. That was his first start after eight months off and his first after being gelded, so we can and should expect improvement second off the layoff, second off the gelding and first off the claim by a top barn.
Top Brass can be considered a contender if he gets in from the also-eligible list as he loves to win, with a 7 for 13 record on dirt. He too was claimed out of his last race, a fine runner-up effort when beaten a half-length, over the track, and from an outside post he can stalk the speed and close nicely just as he did for all three of his previous wins in six starts on the Santa Anita dirt.
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The Devil's Advocate: An Argument FOR and AGAINST Every Horse in the Kentucky Derby
With the Kentucky Derby just over a week away, the field is shaping up to be one of the more evenly matched groups in recent years. Often the most overanalyzed 2 minutes in sports, there are countless articles telling you who to bet, who’s hot, and who’s not. Like many others, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time pouring over PPs, watching replays at the office (shh), and trying to find the likeliest winners. However, instead of simply writing an article about who I like, I thought it would be more interesting to give a brief argument for and against each horse in the Derby. This ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated, so feel free to skim over horses or buckle down for a long read. It’s a bit of a different take, so I hope you enjoy. Tacitus: + Tacitus is impeccably bred, by Tapit out of the stakes winning mare Close Hatches, and has improved in every start. He proved the Tampa Derby victory was no fluke when he displayed an ability to overcome adversity after getting knocked sideways at the break in the Wood Memorial. - Tacitus came home very slow in the Wood, running a final 3/8ths in 38.2 seconds and a final 1f in 13.4 seconds. There have only been 3 horses to win the Derby who did not run a final 3f in at least 38 seconds or a final 1f in at least 13 seconds in the last 29 years (Animal Kingdom, Mine That Bird, and Silver Charm). 22 of the past 29 Derby winners qualified on both fractions. He also benefitted from a long shot significantly compromising some of his competition at the break. Omaha Beach: + Despite taking some time to break his maiden, once the light bulb turned on for this horse nobody has been able to beat him. He owns the field’s second highest Beyer at 101, highest Thorograph figure at -2, and is proven over a fast and sloppy track. Mike Smith chose this horse over a very strong Baffert candidate in Roadster despite his connection with Baffert. - Omaha Beach has peaked too early, and is a very strong bounce candidate in the Derby. His most recent thorograph figure of a -2 represents a 4 point jump from his previous top, and from 1995 onwards 64.3% of horses who ran a -2 or better in their final prep have significantly regressed in the Derby. As the likely favorite coming off of 2 very strenuous efforts, he is a play against. Vekoma: + Vekoma ran arguably the best race of any 2-year-old in the Nashua, and looked very strong in the Bluegrass. He sat too close to a scorching pace in the Fountain of Youth first off the bench, but came right back with a solid win. He has the right run style to sit just off the pace and make his move, so he should be able to avoid trouble in a crowded field like the Derby pending the draw. A step forward is possible third off the layoff. - Vekoma, like Tacitus, does not qualify on the final fractions theory, coming home in a pedestrian 39.4 / 13.4 seconds for the final 3f / 1f in the Bluegrass. He is an ugly mover, as he runs with a paddling motion with his front legs, and the bottom half of his pedigree with Speightstown as a damsire suggests 10f will be too far for him. He also was the main beneficiary of a strong speed bias at Keeneland that day for his final prep. Plus Que Parfait: + Plus Que Parfait is the only horse in the field proven at a distance greater than 9f on dirt, as he convincingly won the ~9.5f UAE Derby. His pedigree suggests he should love the extra ground of the Derby. He was able to close into a track known for a speed bias, even in spite of a new surface. - No horse who has used the UAE Derby as their Kentucky Derby prep has ever run in the top 3 in the Kentucky Derby, with the best finish coming being fifth in 2011. The race is historically a terrible prep for the Run for the Roses, and this year’s field seems even weaker than usual. PQP was routinely trounced by local US competition and had to ship abroad to face inferior horses to even make the gate. Roadster: + Roadster was the horse Baffert was most excited about as a 2 year old, earning him the nickname of “The TMZ horse.” He has been a monster since getting throat surgery to fix a breathing issue, and has beaten the consensus “top” Baffert horse in Game Winner in the SA Derby. He’s shown versatility in his running style, displaying an ability to close last out but also possessing the tactical speed to avoid trouble. He has every right to improve in his third start as a 3 year old. - Roadster was the beneficiary of a very poor trip from his main rival, Game Winner, who ended up going 4 wide around both turns in a short field. Roadster still barely got up to win by a half-length, and his thorograph number of 2.25 was actually 2 points worse than Game Winner (0.25). Roadster’s last 2 wins have come in fields of 6 and 5 horses, respectively, and he will now have to navigate 19 other horses. Mike Smith defects to Omaha Beach despite a strong connection with Baffert, and this horse will likely be a short price on Derby day due to the recent hype. By My Standards: + By My Standards has been really turning heads in the mornings since getting to Churchill with some very impressive workouts. He comfortably won the Louisiana Derby at a big price, recording an impressive Beyer of 97. He has rapidly improved his last 2 starts, and another move forward makes him competitive with the best in this field. - The Louisiana Derby has not produced a Kentucky Derby winner since Grindstone in 1996, and is historically a weak prep compared to the others. By My Standards caught a weak field and was very fortunate when the heavy favorite, War of Will, took a bad step in the early part of the race and failed to fire his usual effort. By My Standards has lost against mediocre horses multiple times before this, and it’s more likely his Louisiana Derby effort was a flash in the pan against a weak field than a true coming out party. Maximum Security: + Maximum Security enters the Derby as the only undefeated horse in the field. Since the adoption of the Kentucky Derby points system, every Derby winner has gone undefeated in their 3 year old season. He owns the field’s highest Beyer at 102, and the co-second highest Beyer of 101, and is the only horse with multiple 100+ Beyer races on his resume. His thorographs are strong despite never being asked for his best. He has the right running style for the Derby, with a lot of early speed but not the type to need the lead, and he has yet to even be challenged by his competition. - Maximum Security is in significantly over his head. The horse debuted for a 16k claiming tag, and he wasn’t even claimed. Servis then pointed him to a restricted starter allowance race, which he won easily. Despite two monster victories, Servis, a clever and high percentage trainer, still did not point him to a stakes or prep race, but instead brings him back in yet another starter allowance race. Servis is an intelligent trainer, and he tried giving this horse away in his debut, and then only thought enough of him to enter him in two separate restricted starter allowance races despite large victories. When he finally entered stakes company in the Florida Derby, he got to walk the dog on the lead and set absolutely laughable fractions, so slow that a maiden was able to finish second simply by being near the lead. This is a horse who is just happy to be here and will fold with any real pace pressure going 10f. Game Winner: + Game Winner is the most battle tested and consistent horse in the field. He had a tough trip in the SA Derby going 4 wide where he was likely not cranked all the way up, and his Rebel Effort was impressive for the first race off a layoff losing an incredibly close photo to the likely Derby favorite Omaha Beach. He should love the extra ground, and goes out for a trainer who knows a thing or two about getting his horses peaking at the right time. - Game Winner has not exactly lived up to his name, as he’s been runner up twice in both of his starts as a 3 year old after being undefeated as a juvenile. The horses Game Winner was beating as a 2 year old have proven to be relatively weak moving into their 3 year old season. No other runner in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile even made the Kentucky Derby starting gate, with Signalman being closest listed as an Also Eligible. It could be fair to say that Game Winner may have matured a bit faster than his competition at 2, but now the field has caught up and he may have ceded an edge to the other top California based horses. He is the likeliest candidate in the field to hit the board, but it’s questionable if he will have that final kick to come in first. Code of Honor: + Code of Honor ran a respectable third in a snails-paced Florida Derby where nobody was making up any ground. He goes out for top tier connections, and he has a jockey on board who is known for his ground saving trips. He has more tactical speed than some of the other deep closers in this field, so he should get first jump on the tiring leaders before the likes of Country House and Win Win Win can make their move. - Code of Honor was the lucky beneficiary of an absolute pace meltdown in his Fountain of Youth victory, and in another 2 jumps Bourbon War was blowing right by him. He has not significantly improved on his thorograph 2 year old top, and would need a big jump forward coupled with a clean trip and a pace meltdown to even have a chance. There are other stalkers with more front speed than him and other closers with a better final kick. Haikal: + Haikal has done little wrong in his career, with a record of 5: 3-1-1. He proved his Gotham score wasn’t a fluke by running a respectable third in the Wood, and he has one of the best closing kicks in the field. If the West’s elect to use MS as a rabbit and the pace heats up, look for him late. - Haikal has managed to outrun his pedigree this far, but this is as far as talent will take him. A half-brother to Takaful, the 2017 G1 Vosburgh Sprint winner, this is a horse at his best running in a one turn mile or shorter. He was one of the few not significantly impacted by the poor start in the Wood, yet was still soundly beaten by the top two finishers. Improbable + An early Derby favorite, Improbable’s only two losses have come by a combined length and a quarter with good excuses. He was very wide in both turns in the Rebel when getting nailed by Long Rang Toddy at the wire, and he acted up badly in the gate of the Arkansas when loading first and having to wait while trying blinkers for the first time. His natural ability and raw talent put him near the top of this field, and he has the second highest thorograph in the field with a -1. Any repeat of that effort or slight improvement is probably good enough to win. - Improbable is another who is pedigree challenged to get the distance. City Zip is notorious for siring sprinters, and while the bottom side of his pedigree has stamina, his top side is pure speed. He gets yet another new rider, his third in three races. Baffert removes the blinkers after trying them last out, and you never like to see equipment changes trying to figure out a horse in the first Saturday in May. War of Will + Draw a line through War of Will’s last race, as he lost all chance when he lost action in the first 100 yards. Outside of that, you have a horse who is undefeated on dirt, possesses a great stalking run style, and is bred to run for days. Proven over fast and off tracks, he has steadily improved and paired 1s on thorograph until the Louisiana Derby. - War of Will breaks just about every Derby rule of thumb regarding final prep before the race. Final fraction, ground loss, finish no worse than fourth, he fails them all. Couple that with the chance that he is not 100% after the Louisiana Derby incident, and he becomes a horse who is very hard to trust. Long Range Toddy + Long Rang Toddy is a horse who always tries his heart out. Toss his last race where he may not have cared for the slop, and you have a horse who is ultra-consistent and ever improving. He bested Improbable, one of the Baffert monsters, in the Rebel, and then likely bounced a bit in his last race. Another new top here could make him dangerous, as he projects to sit a good stalking trip. - Long Range Toddy is a heartwarming story of a Remington Park horse making the Derby, but he just isn’t good enough. He only has one Beyer in the 90s, and even his best thorograph of 4 is significantly weaker than most of the field. He got lucky with a dream trip and a great ride to beat Improbable in the Rebel. Tax: + Tax has seen massive improvement since Danny Gargan claimed him out of a maiden claiming $50,000 race back in October. He stumbled badly in the Withers yet came very strong to fight on and get the win. This horse is very game and has moved forward with each start. He was a good second to Tacitus in the Wood, and the result may have been different if Tacitus did not lean on him and induce him to the rail. - Tax got a great trip in the Wood, as he was not dramatically impacted by the poor start and sat a perfect stalking trip behind two dueling leaders. Despite that, he still could not hold off Tacitus, who had a tougher trip all around. His final fractions are too slow, and he is simply an inferior version of Tacitus. Cutting Humor: + Cutting Humor comes from the highly respected Pletcher barn after an impressive win over well-regarded Anothertwistafate in the Sunland Derby. His final 3f and 1f fractions are the fastest of any horse in the field today, and he is coming off a big effort. He gets 6 weeks rest to recover from that, making another big effort possible. - Cutting Humor was beaten soundly in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, and he had to go to a much easier spot to secure his place in the starting gate on May 4th. No winner of the Sunland Derby has even won the Kentucky Derby, with Mine That Bird being the only horse to prep at Sunland and win the Kentucky Derby at odds of 50-1. His final fraction times are artificially inflated due to how fast the track was playing that day, evidenced by his “just okay” Beyer of 95. Win Win Win: + Win Win Win ran a lightning fast race in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa, and a repeat of that effort makes him very dangerous here. His last few losses have come with excuses, as he broke very slowly and was very wide in the Tampa Derby while favored over Tacitus. In the Bluegrass, he was the only horse to make up ground on the speed favoring track all day, and he was steadied badly while entering the stretch. It was very impressive to make up ground after losing all momentum, and he may have won that race with a better trip. - Win Win Win can’t get out of his own way. He repeatedly breaks very poorly from the gate and has morphed from a horse running near the lead into a dead closer. He has a penchant for troubled trips, and his best races have come in shorter races. Julien Pimentel and Michael Trombetta are a respectable jockey/trainer pair, but they are outclassed against the best connections in the country. Country House: + Country House has one of the best closing kicks in this entire field. He has been a bit of a slow learner, as he often breaks slow and lugged in down the stretch, but he has matured with every start. He may have run down War of Will if not for some green racing down the stretch in the Risen Star. He has never been out of the money in all his tries on dirt and looms a major threat when turning for home. - Ultra-deep closers like Country House are massively disadvantaged in the Kentucky Derby since the inception of the points system, and Country House routinely spots the field 10 lengths from the onset. There is not a lot of early pace signed on in this field, and he would need an absolute pace meltdown with a dream trip to have a chance of getting the win. He lost ground in the stretch run of the Arkansas Derby to both Omaha Beach and Improbable, never something you want to see from your deep closer. Gray Magician: + Gray Magician took a nice step forward when switching to the Peter Miller barn and stretching out in distance and moved forward again when going from the 1-mile races in California to the 1900m UAE Derby. It’s quite possible he further improves adding another furlong at Churchill. He has some tactical speed, so he could sit a nice trip just off the leaders to avoid trouble. - He’s simply too slow. His career best Beyer is nearly 20 points slower than the top contenders here, and he was embarrassed when facing competition in California who weren’t good enough to even make the Derby trying US preps. The UAE Derby was very weak, and it is a poor prep even with a strong field. Spinoff: + Spinoff was very impressive in his 3-year-old debut, winning by daylight in a Tampa allowance race before running a respectable second in the Louisiana Derby. He has the perfect run style, listed as an E/P 7 (pace pressing) on Brisnet, which has produced the most Derby winners in recent years (Justify, American Pharoah, California Chrome). His pedigree suggests he should handle the distance, and he’s lightly raced and eligible to continue improving. - Todd Pletcher, an unquestionably excellent trainer, boasts a record of 2 for 49 in the Kentucky Derby. Velasquez, the routine first call pilot for the Pletcher barn and normal rider of Spinoff, ends up on Code of Honor instead. In the Louisiana Derby, Spinoff had every right to win that race turning for home and instead was easily passed by a 22-1 maiden facing winners for the first time in By My Standards. He is not as battle tested as others, so he may not respond well to the large field and massive crowd at Churchill. Master Fencer: + Master Fencer is the only horse in the field to have run 10 furlongs, not once but twice, albeit on the turf. He finished second and fourth in those efforts while not embarrassing himself in either. - Master Fencer is just a horse who is happy to be here, as his presence opens the Derby to Japanese betting markets. Foreign horses typically do terribly in the Derby, he is a dead closer, and he wasn’t even Japan’s top point earner. In fact, there were 3 Japanese horses ahead of him in the points standings, all of whom declined the invitation to the Derby. He was beaten by Derma Louvre in the Hyacinth, who went on to run a non-threatening 4th in the UAE Derby. Edit: thank you kind internet strangers for the silver and gold! My first of each!
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Preview of the Delaware Handicap, Diana Stakes and more
Saturday, July 13, 2019 Delaware Park Race: 8 (5:25 PM EST Post) Delaware Handicap Elate bounced back to Graded Stakes form when coming from behind to take down the Fleur de Lis at Churchill last time out. This daughter of “King of the (sales) Ring” Medaglia d’Oro was impressive powering past her rivals down the lane while getting the last furlong in a swift :12.1. She has worked well since and she is 2 for 2 on this oval………………..The multiple Graded Stakes winner, yet still underrated Blue Prize was head strong on the first turn of the aforementioned Fleur de Lis last time out and didn’t offer much of an answer when Elate came to her in mid stretch. However, this seven time winner, of over a million bucks, will be making her third start off the layoff in this spot and that 6F work (1:12 flat) was strong, signaling she might be ready to run another big one here………………….Escape Clause is a win machine as her 20 for 30 career record would indicate. This five year old mare gave the mega talented Midnight Bisou all she could handle two starts back and had several excuses in her last (may have bounced slightly off such a tremendous effort and got caught up in a strong early pace). Leave her out of your exotics plays at your own risk…………………….Honorable Mentions: Gotham Gala ran the best race of her life in her initial try on this oval in her last, which is the perennial prep race for this. This $260,000 daughter of Smart Strike figures to be on or near the lead early once again in here and could prove difficult to run down late……………After showing little on the grass last time out, Promise of Spring return to her preferred surface (dirt), where she’s hit the board in 11 of 16 tries. Saratoga Race Course Race: 3 (2:10 PM EST Post) Sanford Stakes These 2YO races are far and away the toughest to figure. This time of year these horses’ forms are volatile and can improve or go downhill quicker than a hiccup. Of course, having such little info (few races) to go off of is another nightmare. That said, I’ll take By Your Side who ran the last half of a furlong in sub :07 seconds to take his Churchill Downs and racing debut. The way this colt by Constitution came running late makes me think the stretch out in distane here should only help him…………………..Cucina appears to be a huge threat in this spot. After just missing in his debut, this colt beat maidens in the slop while getting 5F in a fleet :58 flat…..looks next best……………..Raging Whiskey is a California invader who broke his maiden by a wide margin in his second career start. Race: 9 (5:46 PM EST Post) Diana Stakes The 2019 Diana is an intriguing race in several levels. First off, it drew yet another small field (six) with four of them trained by Chad Brown. Also, it pits 2018 Older Female Turf Champion Sistercharlie against another one of the better turf fillies in training today in Rushing Fall as well as unbeaten in this country, Homerique with yes you guessed it all three being trained by Brown. All that being said, you can throw a blanket over all three and pick one as they are almost impossible to separate. So much so, I might pass this race. However, if I change my mind (and I probably will) I would have to stick with Champion Sistercharlie, who capped off a sensational campaign last year with a furious late run to win the BC Filly and Mare Turf. Good looking mare sports an 11-7-3-0 record overall with the elephant in the room being will she be ready as this will be her first start since the Breeders Cup in Nov?....................It might be betting suicide to put Rushing Fall, a mega talented turf filly who is an astounding 9-8-1-0 in her career, in the two slot. Her last race in the Grade: 1 Just a Game Stakes was one of the most impressive races I’ve seen all year long. After cruising through the first five furlong of that race, this filly dropped her head, leveled off and came home the last quarter supersonic :22.2….needless to say, in taking Sistercharlie, this filly scares the daylights out of me………………………………….As I mentioned earlier, Homerique is 2 for 2 since arriving from France. The gray filly by Exchange Rate overcame slows paces in both races, which is one of many telltale since of a quality racehorse. Her speed figure are in the same zip code as her stablemates (the top two) and she should be coming late once again in this spot……………………….Honorable Mentions: The speedy Mitchell Road, who has sports record of 7-5-2-0, merits attention as well. Good looking mare by English Channel should be the one to catch on the turn for home……………………Secret Message won her last two with strong late runs. Steps WAY up here however. Los Alamitos Race: 6 Los Alamitos Derby (6:28 PM EST Post) The 2019 Los Alamitos Derby continues the trend for short fields this weekend as just four are entered. It almost appears as though the race was written for 2018 Two Year Old Champion Game Winner, who makes his first start since his valiant run in the Kentucky Derby. I’m not seeing a way to beat him as he absolutely towers over this field and his work line resembles an Uzi 9 millimeter (non stop “bullet” works). This is probably one of those rare occurrences where you might see a horse go off at 1-20 odds……………………After chasing the talented Visitant, Mucho Gusto and Anothertwistafate, Game Winner stable mate Kingly looks next best by a wide margin…………………..I have to go with Feeling Strong, who won his last and will be breaking out of state bred competition for the first time for the show dough, as my only other choice is a maiden who is 0 for 12 in his career. Indiana Downs Race: 8 (9:10 PM EST Post) Indiana Oaks Chocolate Kisses has shown very little in her last three but you must note the enormous class drop she is taking in this spot. $410,000 daughter of Candy Ride ran in back to back Grade: 1’s, including the Kentucky Oaks, and had a failed turf experiment in her last. She will be cutting back in distance here and clearly will not be facing anything near was she’s been lately……………..After pulling an 11-1 upset in the Grade: 2 Fair Ground Oaks two starts back, Street Band will also be coming out of the Kentucky Oaks so she too should relish the class drop vs. these………………The rest are rather difficult to separate but I’ll go with Kim K for the show dough. This $335,000 daughter of Will Take Charge seems to have improved greatly from last year, highlighted by ripping off fast early fractions and wiring a $75,000 optional field in her last. What made it more impressive is she broke from the #9 post that day. In this spot, she’ll break from the rail, which is a serious tactical advantage for her and, oh by the way, the #1 post at this meet so far is winning at a 25% rate…………………………..Honorable Mentions: With Dignity has used impressive late runs to win her first two starts. Note how she encountered serious traffic issues down the back side of her last race but yet blew past the early leaders down the lane for the win….Steps up but could easily better this rating……………..If you ignore Blessed Again’s failed turf experiment in her last, you’ll see an impressive maiden breaking win before going on to beat $75,000 optionals by a colossal margin……………….Sweet Diane has yet to be off the board in six career starts, including finishing within shouting distance of Street Band in the Fair Grounds Oaks this past spring. Race: 9 (10:02 PM EST Post) Indiana Derby Mr. Money is sharp as a tack right now. The son of Goldencents won back to back Grade: 3’s by wide margins at Churchill in his last two. Good looking colt’s speed figures are higher and more consistent than these as well…......………Math Wizard is quietly having a very good year, highlighted by finishing less than five lengths behind Tacticus at 65-1 in the Wood Memorial back in April. Since then, he’s faced an improving Laughing Fox and a really improving Owendale and held his own in both. Looks next best………………Fan favorite Long Range Toddy has been in training, and running once a month for the past 10 months now, and on paper, it looks like that brutal schedule is catching up to him. He was overmatched two and three races back but I saw no visible excuses for his disappointing effort in the Ohio Derby at 2-1 odds in his last…………………Honorable Mentions: Although running admirably, Alwaysmining went down in flames as the even money favorite in the Easy Goer at Belmont in his last, further fueling my speculation that he is a vastly different horse anywhere but on his home track (Laurel)…..Find out more about that on Saturday night……………………Gray Magician is not as bad as his 1 for 9 record indicates. Make no mistake, this gray colt has talent. I’m just not sure how much a trip across the world (Dubai) and then running in the most physical race in the country (Kentucky Derby) less than five weeks later, has taken out of him……………………….. I love Roiland’s running style. Although somewhat inconsistent with it, he possesses a big closing kick which is always fun to watch. Listen, if he gets a nuclear meltdown type early pace, stranger things have happened………………….If, and that a big “if”, Frolic More can handle the class rise, he could be a menace in here as he is clearly in career best form right now. By: Gerard Apadula Director of Equine Operations and Development Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) 2019- Record: 43-124 = 35% 2018- Record: 107-261= 41% 2017- Record: 92-235 = 39% 2016- Record: 91-229 = 40% 2015- Record: 67-180 = 37% 2014- Record: 29-73 = 40% 2013- Record: 20-59= 34% 2012 -Record: 24-73= 33% 2011 –Record: N/A 2010- Record: 24-74= 33% Little Bets N’ Pieces: **** In the “about freaking time” category Colonial Downs Group/owners announced plans to name its turf course after the immortal Secretariat. Secretariat was born at Meadow Stable in Doswell, Va., in 1970. He became a global phenomenon after his tour de force 1973 Triple Crown win while setting track records in all three of the classic races. The Secretariat Turf Course will be ready when Colonial Downs opens for live racing Aug. 8. The partnership is part of an agreement with the Tweedy family, who owned him while on the track, and Secretariat.com that also will feature an annual Secretariat Day at the racetrack as well. "Colonial Downs is thrilled to partner with the Tweedy family and spotlight one of Virginia racing's brightest stars, who was foaled less than 50 miles from our own gates," said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing operations. "Secretariat's enduring legacy continues to reverberate with new generations of fans, and it is only fitting that Colonial Downs recognizes this native son of the Commonwealth." "My family and I are excited that live racing has returned to Virginia and that we can contribute by sharing the legacy of Secretariat." said Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery. "The Secretariat Turf Course will no doubt witness great racing contests, something my mother and my grandfather would have especially loved to see. Our family also applauds Colonial Downs for their efforts to engage existing horse lovers and generate new racing fans."
"Road To The Kentucky Derby" Conditions Stakes - 7:15 Kempton (4th March 2020)
Gave this race a good look last year which was won impressively by William Haggas' Jahbath. He finished down the field in the UAE Derby and subsequently got gelded but we haven't seen him on the track since then.
This year's renewal looks considerably less interesting with just the 5 runners but in order to try and get back into the swing of things before the flat season (proper) gets underway I thought I'd take a look regardless.
1) Ayr Harbour (Michael Appleby/Alistair Rawlinson) Ayr Harbour made the track for Richard Hannon in October running a respectable 3rd. The form was boosted by the 4th and 5th subsequently who both won next time out but those horses were not favoured by racing close to the pace - an advantage Ayr Harbour did enjoy. Nevertheless it was a strong start, he then moved to Michael Appleby for £18,000 at Tattersalls. He's won both handicap starts for Appleby this year - the latest of which was particularly impressive with the front 2 pulling clear. A 5lb rise doesn't look especially harsh on the back of that which brings up to 82. He steps up to 1 mile today (his dam was 2nd in an Italian Group 1 over the trip) and would be of significant interest in handicap company. However, there are drawbacks. Theoretically, he has lots to find with 3 of his 4 rivals (leaving aside the once-raced Naval Commander in this instance). However, the combination of confirmed fitness and the progress he has made in his most recent starts should help plug that gap.
2) Berlin Tango (Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy)
Officially, Berlin Tango has 5lbs to find with Chares on ratings. He started his career in a warm Salisbury contest and like so many Balding horses improved for his 2nd start to win at Ffos Las. Although Evens favourite that day the race had a bit of depth (some novice races from this track aren't dreadful and can be worth following during the 2nd half of the season, just as an aside). Itkaann (2nd) hosed up at Kempton in December and is now rated 83, Arabian Moon (3rd) has already run to an exact RPR of 79 on 4 separate occasions. Unsurprisingly, Berlin Tango's last 2 starts have come in pattern company. 3rd in the Stonehenge Stakes form which has produced mixed results (worth noting the winner hasn't run since). The Doncaster run that followed, and which constitutes his latest, has greater strength. The race was won by Molatham and Wichita was 2nd - that's considerably stronger than most Listed form. Tomfre back in last did well (if memory serves, can't get RTV replays to work currently) to win a handicap at Newmarket next time. On the evidence of the last run, I wouldn't have criticised the handicapper for giving Berlin Tango a rise for collateral form and would suspect him to set the standard here.
3) Chares (Jane Chapple-Hyam/John Egan)
Every year I say I'm going to follow the French form and every year I don't. His first 2 starts saw him beat opponents most comprehensively, but the strength of those opponents must be questioned. The bulk of them seem to have recorded anything better than a mid 70s RPR in subsequent outings and they were at non-Paris/Deauville tracks namely La Teste De Buch and Dax. The 3rd run is easier to assess, coming in a listed contest at Lyon Parilly. The Archie Watson trained Shared Belief was back in 4th and he'd shown a perfectly fine level of form in his Newmarket 5th and Deauville 3rd behind the promising Helter Skelter (a horse I have a significant amount of time for). The 2nd that day has just tended to be OK, not really progressing in listed races and only winning a minor event at Chantilly last time. Quite whether a rating of 103 is merited is certainly questionable but Chares is clearly in contention here. I'd also be strongly encouraged by the switch to Jane Chapple-Hyam who is superb. Less encouragin
We have very sketchy evidence available for Naval Commander. He's run just the once, finishing 2nd at Southwell. He butchered the start but recovered from off the pace and was actually caught on the line by Iron Heart (who was also slowly away, perhaps raising a possible query about a bias towards those running off the pace). That run was on fibresand, which might well translate better to the context of a Kentucky Derby but would hardly be guaranteed to translate here. The positives; well he's only raced once and his sire has done well from an exceptionally limited sample size producing 2 horses with a best RPR of 85 or more. But it is clear his form has little depth in the context of this race.
5) New World Tapestry (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore)
The yard came up short in the Dundalk equivalent of this on Friday. Following 2 fine runs in Ireland, New World Tapestry took the initiative in winning a Newmarket maiden, form which has been upheld but arguably not boosted by Colour Image's exploits in Meydan. His Racing Post Trophy run was probably better than it looks, I absolutely hate front-runners at Newcastle and he was right up with the pace predictably fading to 8th. The first 5 did obviously pull clear though, and the race was an afterthought for many of these horses. I'd say his overall form stacks up sufficiently to make him competitive and his mark of 89 would look most appealing in the context of a handicap, but it is still a step below what Berlin Tango appears to have done.
Berlin Tango (4/5) Chares (2/1) New World Tapestry (3/1) Ayr Harbour (14/1) Naval Commander (40/1)
23% overround and difficult to recommend any bet at those prices. I would expect Berlin Tango to win though and he'd be the closest thing to a bet (at 4/5).
Welcome back to Santa Anita! Hopefully everyone enjoyed their holidays and are now ready to get back to making money at the Great Race Place! Despite opening day falling a little later than normal due to the weather, opening weekend was an excellent card full of great races and competitive fields. I’ll be covering the Friday cards at SA for The Daily Gallop throughout 2020, and as always, I will provide ROI statistics of my results for those keeping score at home. New for 2020, I will be breaking out picks into tiers rather than simply providing 4 selections per race. These tiers will show confidence levels in certain horses and also provide a basis for playing horizontal tickets if you are an ABC ticket player. Finally, I’ll also be highlighting one “best longshot” of the day. Let’s start off 2020 with a bang! Race 1:Clm 12500n2L 1 Mile Picks: 6, 1 / 3, 6 We kick off the day with a group of 6 going 8 furlongs on the main track. These cheap N2L races are always challenging handicapping puzzles due to the inconsistency of horses at this level. I’m not crazy about taking a short price on a horse who is 1/19 lifetime, but #6 Fast as Cass does appear to be a cut above most of this field. There is no clear-cut leader in this race, as most of these horses prefer to do their best running late, so I think Fast as Cass has a decent chance to be on or just off the pace early. He has beaten most of this field already, but seems to lack that finishing ability. The barn change from Knapp to Lorenzo Ruiz is a bit concerning, but Ruiz does have strong numbers in a limited sample size, firing at 29% in 2019 and 22% first off the claim. #1 Union Station ran a big race last out. If you watch the replay of the 12/14 race, there were 4 horses bunched together for the lead with a gap of about 10 lengths to the rest of the field. Despite dueling for the majority of the race, those 4 horses ran first, third, fourth, and fifth. Union Station was the only horse that day to make up any ground at all, and while never a threat to the winner he was steadily gaining ground through the lane. His main obstacle here could be the lack of any early pace, as he’s one who will be spotting the field a few lengths early. #3 Tiz A Slayer might be the longest shot on the board, but do not overlook this 4-year-old gelding. Unraced at 3, he is much more lightly raced than the majority of this field, suggesting that we likely have not seen the best of what he has to offer. His speed figures have improved in each of his last 3 starts, and he was trying to close over a strip that was playing kindly towards speed at Los Alamitos. I always prefer a lightly raced horse with upside over the 6-year-old horse who is 1/25 lifetime and likely past his prime. #5 Norski is a notorious horse for me as one who’s burned money countless times as the favorite before finally breaking his maiden last out. Sometimes with these bridesmaid horses, once they finally get that first win the light comes on and they back it up with another strong effort. He has never tried a route, but pedigree suggests he should handle 2 turns, and the strong apprentice rider Velez takes the mount. There are enough unknowns and changes here to suggest he could surprise today, especially if the rider is aggressive and gets him on the lead early. Race 2: Clm 16000n3L 6 Furlongs Picks: 2,3 / 4,5 #2 Toothless Wonder gets the nod as the top selection in this compact field of 5. While there are no superstars in this N3L bunch, Toothless Wonder has numerous speed figures recently that are better than what many of these other horses have run. He flopped as the chalk last out at Los Al, but he still managed to hang on for second despite running in a 2-turn mile which is likely farther than he wants to go. He cuts back to 6 furlongs here, and he owns a strong record at Santa Anita of 8-2-2-1. Ignoring the route race last out, all his other races were against much tougher than he faces today, and he seems poised to get the job done. #3 I Belong to Becky is the early favorite going out for the always dangerous Peter Miller barn. This one will likely be on the lead, and he also gets a bit of class relief here. His race 2 back at Del Mar likely wins this race today, but he did regress quite a bit in his most recent race. The wide draw did him no favor that day as he was hung 5 wide on the turn, so it’s probably best not to be too critical of that effort. Tough to love this one at a very short price though. #4 Black Storm has actually beaten I Belong to Becky in the past, but that was before that one changed barns to Peter Miller. Black Storm always runs an honest race, but he’s typically done his best work away from the speed favoring strip of Santa Anita over at Del Mar. He could upset if the pace gets hot up front, but would need everything to go just right. #5 Roaring Fork has never tried sprinting and makes his first start coming off of a 10-month layoff, but allegedly this one has been working strong in the mornings for McCarthy. He has ample early speed and could get bold if he manages to make the lead. Race 3: [F][S]OC20000n1x 11/8 Mile (T) Picks: 1,5,4 / 7 The third race of the day gives us what is essentially a rematch of the November 15th optional claiming race at Del Mar that 5 of 7 of today’s entrants competed in. That race was pretty much dominated on the front end, as the pace was on the slower side and the even money favorite barely managed to overtook the 2 leaders to get up to win. It’s tough to differentiate those horses in that race, as less than 2 lengths separated the winner from the 6th place finisher, so I’m going to go with a new face in #1 Quinnie. She disappeared for most of 2019 as she was laid up from February until October, but she managed to fire a good effort off the break and win a claiming race on the eve of Breeder’s Cup weekend. Carla Gaines appears to have this one heading back in the right direction, and this daughter of English Channel should relish the added ground today. I expect her to sit just off Brahms Command and Rose Dunn while saving all the ground with the rail draw and tip out wide at the top of the stretch where her stamina edge will get her home. #5 Sapphire Kid was arguably the most impressive horse to exit that November 15th race at Del Mar. She found herself next to last and a bit wide on both turns while chasing a slow pace, but she was closing fastest late and would have likely gotten up for third in one or two more jumps. She seems like one who won’t mind the added ground, but the barn change is concerning, as Steve Knapp is just 2/87 with turf starters over the last 3 years. #4 Lucky Ms Jones was another whom I thought was impressive in the November 15th race. She was off a bit slow last out and made a similar run as Sapphire Kid, and although she finished a nose in front it appeared Sapphire Kid was running better late. A strong work tab in the AM indicate she may have improved since that effort, and D’Amato is a strong turf trainer out west. #7 Rose Dunn is the likely favorite after just missing last out, but she’s one I will try to beat. She had a perfect trip last out, stalking a fading leader with a slow pace, and she still couldn’t hang on to get the win. Now she has to handle an extra furlong, and it’s tough to see her getting the lead as Maldonado is back on Brahms Command and will be gunning for the front once again. That last work was lightning fast, she perhaps she has improved, but there are certainly obstacles to overcome and at a short price I’d rather side with others. Race 4: [F]Clm 12500n2L 6½ Furlongs Picks: 5,3,1 Race 4 brings us an unattractive group of fillies and mares that lacks any true standout. While I acknowledge that Diosa is the likely runaway winner if she returns to her late 2018 form, her last 2 races were abysmal efforts and she then disappeared for 8 months and now returns for a new barn at a much lower level. She also has a lot of other speed to contend with here, and she has never proven that she has the ability to rate or to stay on beyond 5.5 furlongs. Reports from the morning workouts indicate she’s been unwilling to settle and finishing up a bit flat, so I’m going to fade her at a very short price. #5 Jabber Now is the reluctant top choice. This one may be a head-scratcher at first given the 1 for 16 record and 13-month layoff, but I just don’t like any of the competition in this race. Jabber Now has proven the ability to rate, and I imagine the pace up front will be very hot, with Diosa, Bellazano, Queen Carmelita, and At the Margin all gunning for the lead. The 1 for 16 record is certainly not encouraging, but it isn’t as bad as it seems if you discard the 6 turf races where she was clearly on the wrong surface and the 1 race over an off track she did not care for. She has apparently been working strong in the mornings in preparation for this return, but this is not a pick you can feel super confident in. I will be spreading deep here as I don’t want to be right about the 8/5 favorite losing but not having the right longshot on top. #3 Bellazano is likely my pick for the best of the speeds. I already covered that I do not trust Diosa, and Bellazano has speed figures at this distance and over this track that make her very competitive today. She appears to be in decent form and returns to a track she likes. It is likely we haven’t seen the best this now 4-year-old has to offer. #1 Laker Jet is one of two who has proven the ability to pass other horses and sustain a bid beyond 5.5 furlongs. Laker Jet should get a great stalk and pounce trip when the speed begins falling apart. There are certainly some class concerns at play, and a trainer not known for success at Santa Anita, but at least she should be fit on the cutback and coming strong late. Race 5: [F]Clm 25000n2L 1 Mile (T) Picks: 8,9 / 4 / 1 #8 Invincibella finally gets the class relief she has so desperately been needing as she drops in for a tag for the first time. Versatile miss has the ability to close or sit just off the pace, which should prove useful here as there are a number of speedsters signed on and the pace should be hot. She has been working strong in the mornings, and she appears to just tower over this field from a class and speed figure perspective. The pick. #9 Point Hope is another who may wake up on the class drop. She has done her best work on the synthetic surfaces so far, but she’s bred to handle turf routing just fine. Pace should be honest, so I imagine she will be another coming strong late. It is a bit alarming to note the steady regression in her speed figures over her last handful of starts, but she does have a right to improve here second off the bench. #4 Tinnie had to drop all the way to maiden claiming 20k last out to break her maiden, but she did so like a 3/5 horse should when blasting an overmatched field. Prat is familiar with the mount and gets back aboard, and she should get first run on some of the other deeper closers. Note that Mandella is an absurd 58% (10 for 19) in claiming races over the last 3 years. Never easy facing winners for the first time, but she appears to be heading the right direction. Don’t completely ignore #1 Greater Glory. Many will dismiss this 5-year-old mare based on the unknown connections and 1/23 lifetime record, but I believe this one has a chance to surprise. By Into Mischief and out of a Mr Greeley dam, this one should really enjoy the grass, and she has hit the board twice out of her four turf starts. She was freshened up briefly before returning at Los Alamitos, and now returns to grass and has a history of mild improvement second off the layoff. She is a dead closer, but she should get a hot pace in front of her and she draws well with the inside post, especially advantageous with the rails being out. It might be asking a lot for her to end up in the winner’s circle, but she’s one to consider using underneath as she will be coming strong late as the dueling leaders begin to tire. Race 6: [F]OC40000n1x 1 Mile Picks: 5 / 1 / 3 #5 Savvy Gal is the top pick in a competitive field of up-and-coming 3-year-old fillies. She possesses loads of natural speed, but she has also proven that she does not need the lead to be effective when stalking the pace in her debut. She’s trying dirt for the first time, but out of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense she should handle the surface just fine. Rosario is in the irons, who is a red-hot 38% so far this meet since returning to California. He should have plenty of options from the outside draw, and she appears the one to beat. #1 Gingham took a while to finally break her maiden, an unusual pattern for Baffert-trained horses, and she was thrown to the wolves a bit when up against 2 of the division’s leading juvenile fillies in Bast and Donna Veloce in the Grade 1 Starlet last out. It’s unclear just how talented this filly might be, but she’s run fast enough to contend in this spot and has very strong connections. Lack of that finishing ability could prove troublesome, and her last workout was uncharacteristically slow for a Baffert horse, but I’m likely willing to give her another chance. I probably won’t be going much deeper than the top 2 selections in this race, most likely singling Savvy Gal, but #3 Shanghai Keely is one who could fly under the radar a bit. I think you get better value than the 3-1 ML indicates, as these connections typically don’t get bet much at Santa Anita. Ari Herbertson was firing at 32% in 2019, and is an astounding 40% when 3rd off the layoff over the last 3 years. Her effort in the G2 Sorrento in defeat actually makes her competitive here on speed figures alone, and the winner of that race Amalfi Sunrise was incredibly highly regarded until being forced into early retirement. She improved second off the layoff last out, and with further improvement and a return to dirt she could pull off the surprise. Race 7 [S]Mdn 55k 5½ Furlongs (T) Picks: 9,1 // 3 Race 7 provides our first turf dash of the day, with a field of 9 freshly turned 3-year-olds. #9 Rookie Mistake is the top selection. Far too many times have I seen Doug O’Neill with a Reddam Racing Square Eddie homebred switch to turf and romp to not use this horse. The initial turf debut was strong, as he came up just a bit short when bet down to 6/5 favoritism and making the lead. He was clearly in over his head in the stakes race that followed, but a return to maiden company nearly got him home last time out on the dirt. He has ample early speed and now returns to the surface I think he prefers. He needs to prove he can sustain that early speed for the final 1/16th, but back on turf against state-bred company, I think he gets the job done today. #1 Coalinga Road is the very close second choice. This gelding flashed strong early foot in his debut before tiring badly late in the stretch while dueling between horses the entire race. Carla Gaines horses very rarely win first out, as she typically races them into shape, so I expect a better effort from him here today. Note that Gaines is 24% over the last 3 years with horses making their first start on grass with a +$2.23 ROI. Beyond the top 2 selections, the pickings get a little more complicated. #3 Big Billy is the first time starter I’m most interested in. While the trainer Dunham has not had much success in 2019, especially with turf starters, there are enough positives here for me to take a shot at 15-1. Strong rider Abel Cedillo takes the mount, which is something I typically note when leading riders get up for small barn or low percentage trainers. There is also tons of turf pedigree, as both Mr Big (Dynaformer) and Street Boss get 15% winners with horses trying turf for the first time. He exits a strong 47.4 workout last out, and the pattern suggests he may be fit enough. Race 8: [F]MC 20000 6½ Furlongs Picks: 7,4,5 / 3,9 Race 8 appears to be a pretty open affair depending on how you feel about the morning line favorite. My top pick here is the longshot of the day #7 Suezaana. In a field full of relatively cheap maiden claimers who haven’t flashed much real ability, I almost always prefer a horse with the ability to be on or near the lead. Suezaana has some early speed but has also shown the ability to pass horses when needed. Her speed figures have improved in each of her last 3 starts, and she has hit the board twice in her 2 tries at Santa Anita. She has strong early pace and respectable turn times for this field, so she’s one I’m using prominently in a field of somewhat uninspiring maidens. #4 Manresa is one who likely did not get enough respect by the 4-1 ML after coming home strongly late to just miss by a nose in her debut. The show horse from that race came back to win next out, and with any improvement she is a huge threat here. Still, the cutback to a sprint seems puzzling given her strong debut at a route, and Tom Bell doesn’t have the best record with horses coming back off of medium (46-90 day) layoffs, as he’s 0/32 the last 3 years. #5 Buyback is the last logical threat, as she also has early speed and an aggressive rider in Maldonado. Her race 2 back was very strong, as the winner and show horse both came back to win, but she did not appear to have the same spark off the layoff last out. Another contender in an open race. #9 Katsaros is the obvious pick here, as she gets huge class relief and switches surface to dirt. While her speed figures on turf make her competitive here, she has never run on dirt, and note that the Sadler – Hronis normal jockeys Rosario and Prat do not take this mount, and NorCal rider Cerapio Figueroa ends up on board instead. I can’t help but feel like the barn just doesn’t know what to do with this one, as she has tried turf sprinting, turf routing, maiden special weight, maiden claimers, back to maiden special weight, and this drop to maiden claiming and switch to dirt feels more desperate than strategic. She likely needs to be used on horizontal tickets, but I would try to beat her in anything vertical or for win bets. #3 Chirp is another with early speed who figures to contend for the lead. While she has hit the board a few times, she wasn’t within 10 lengths of the winner in those efforts so it’s tough to feel great about her chances here. Race 9: [F]Alw50000s 1 Mile (T) Picks: 9,3,2 / 5,6 We have another price play slated on top for the nightcap, with the #9 Flying to the Line getting top honors. The outside draw with the rails up could prove tricky, and it is always incredibly dangerous to claim off of Peter Miller, but this filly has tons of speed in a race where I think it’s likely the winner will be near the lead. This surely isn’t a lone speed scenario, but I feel she is likely the classiest of all the speeds and has already run competitive races at this level. Her turf form is respectable and she’s a proven miler already, so I’ll take a shot with a price I can’t pass up. #3 Untouched Elegance is the other speed who will threaten for the lead, and she has drawn more favorably. If Flying to the Line doesn’t respond on the barn change or fails to break, Untouched Elegance could inherit a fairly easy lead and prove tough to run down on the front. Baltas has been absolutely owning the turf at Santa Anita so far this meet, and despite losing to weaker last out she has already proven she can compete at this level. Expect her to improve second off the layoff. #2 Querelle is the morning line favorite, and it is always risky to fade a Peter Miller horse on grass in California. Miller hits at 29% first off the claim, and gets the services of dominantly leading rider Rosario on board. The connections are outstanding, and the class relief will help, but you have to question how short of a price do you want on a horse who is a dead closer and only 1 for 7 on the board since coming to the US a year ago.
Saturday July 27, 2019 Saratoga Race Course Race: 9 (5:44 PM EST Post) Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes Mitole really needs no introduction as he has been taking the sport by storm of late. The son of Eskendereya has rattled seven straight, clear cut wins including back to back Grade: 1’s in his last two. This bay colt has recorded splits and final times that are off the charts good and consistent. Note the last seven speed figures as well as they range from 103 to 108. No way I try to beat him until he start showing some kinks in his armor…………………….The speedy Strike Power is clearly at his best game (sprinting) in this spot. After this big chestnut toyed with mid level optionals two back, he blew out of the gate, set a hot early pace and only one of the best horses in training today (Catalina Cruiser) was able to gun him down late. The slight cut back in distance should only help him here. Don’t worry about his one try over this surface being a bad one, his rider that day was on some kind of kamikaze mission as he forced this horse to run a :21.1 opening quarter mile. Between this horse, and the top pick, there might an interesting battle for early supremacy…………………………… Those of you who know me know I like Imperial Hint. This now six year old “little guy” is a running fool while winning 12 of 21 career starts. The problem is, after three straight defeats, are his best days behind him? I mean, his form *is\* showing a noticeable downward trend………………………..Honorable Mentions: Diamond Oops might quietly be sitting on a big one at what will probably be some long odds too. This son of Lookin’ at Lucky has cycled back into top form and looked good coming from behind to take down a Grade: 3 at Gulfstream last time out. With a plethora of speed to his inside, stretch runners like him are always dangerous in these kinds situations………………….If Belmont surface lover Firenze Fire couldn’t handle Mitole at Belmont Park, how will he handle him at ‘Toga? I don’t know… but he has run well, including back to back “trips” speed figures in his last two, so he deserves a “mention”…………….Mr. Crow looks overmatched in this spot but I did notice he is 2 for 4 at ‘Toga and 2 for 10 everywhere else. Race: 10 (6:18 PM EST Post) Bowling Green Stakes These marathon turf races are getting tougher and tougher to figure as the same group appears in the entry box and they take turns beating each other, with the winner (like normal) being the one who gets the best trip. I don’t know about you, but I’m treading lightly in this WIDE open contest. That said, I’m taking Yo Primo, who is another in a looooong line of runners Chad Brown brings in from other parts of the world, for several reasons. First off, you get the “fresh face” angle. Now tack on first time Lasix angle, the fact he is 5 for 9 in his home country of Chile (including four Group: 1 wins), he’s been lighting up stop watches in the mornings since his arrival, and note the final times of his last two starts/wins. 10 furlongs in 1:56.3? 12 furlongs in 2:24 flat? Those are stone cold racehorse times and if he duplicates either of those races in this spot, he’ll be long gone in the stretch………………..Arklow just missed in the Grade: 1 Man O’ War and in the Grade: 2 Belmont Derby in his last two. This stretch runner from the Brad Cox barn should be coming late once again here………………….13 time and multiple Graded Stakes winner Bigger Picture is a threat in just about any turf race he runs in. Still another who should be coming late………………….Honorable Mentions (and there are several due to the depth of this field): Zulu Alpha has won five of his last 10 races and just missed in the Grade: 1 United Nations at Monmouth last time out. This six year old gelding made a brazen, three wide move on the turn but was gunned down in deep stretch by a long-shot winner. Could be tough with a better timed move by his (new) rider……………….I love Sadler’s Joy heroic, late running moves. He habitually comes from 8, 10, 12 sometimes 14 lengths out of it early but always makes it interesting late. Although he’ll be making his first start in almost nine months it must be noted he has run big off layoffs several times in the past…………………….Channel Maker won this race last year and likes this turf course but is a little too inconsistent for my liking……………………..Did Highland Sky’s late running, wide tripped, close up third in his last signal some kind of return to form?.........................Argonne has won three straight vs. lesser. Steps up and stretches out but, with so many late runners in this field, he could be a menace late if left alone on an uncontested early lead. Race: 11 (6:51 PM EST Post) Jim Dandy Stakes Global Campaign is three for four in his career and was nothing short of brilliant in winning the Peter Pan Stakes last time out. This son of Curlin stalked a strong early pace, took over at the quarter pole, opened up on the field at that point and held sway late, beating eventual Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston in the process. Note the internal and final fractions of that race as they included a :48.2 middle half mile and a :12.1 final furlong. Having not run in two months, he should be a fresh horse and trainer Stanley Hough, who is no babe in the woods, should have him ready to fire……………………..I’m not sure if it was the 12 furlongs or the fact that Preakness winner War Of Will, who has had a tough campaign thus far in 2019, is showing signs of fatigue, to explain his disappointing effort in the Belmont Stakes last time out. Either way, although it might prove futile, I’m going to try to beat him here. One last thing, he has physically looked like a million bucks training for about the last week or 10 days……………….Tacitus is a gorgeous and well bred son of Tapit who possesses a good late run, one that he has used to win the Wood Memorial, finish third in the Derby and second in the (nightmare tripped) Belmont Stakes. This gray colt sports a record of 6-3-1-1 in his career and is a must use in any exotics betting scenario…………………………..Honorable Mentions: After winning the inaugural Oaklawn Park Invitational while getting the last furlong in about :12 seconds flat, Laughing Fox quietly made of the most impressive mid race moves I’ve seen all year in the Preakness Stakes, totally outrunning his almost 22-1 odds in the process. This $375,000 son of Union Rags was near last and some 25 lengths off the early pace that day but methodically starting “picking off” horses one by one down the backside, swung wide on the turn for home and finished full of run to check in fifth. Note, at the end of the day, he was beaten less than four lengths. Making up some 21 lengths, especially in classic race, deserves attention…………………..Although running a very, very respectable fourth, Tax found the 12 furlongs of the Belmont Stakes a little too much to handle. Colt by Arch cuts back to a more reasonable distance here and could be a menace………………………..Mihos is not as bad as his last race or two would indicate. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Race: 8 (8:30 PM EST Post) Bing Crosby Stakes Cistron blew the doors off of his competition in his return to the dirt while wiring the field in the Kona Gold two starts back. I know that this five year old, by the ridiculously fast The Factor, blew a three length lead at the top of the stretch in his last but it must be noted he set a supersonic early pace that day and that race was also at seven furlongs. Logically, the cut back to six furlongs plays right into his lap. Big work last week should have him “revved up” for this………………..Recruiting Ready has taken on some crack sprinters back on the East Coast, including the super-fast World Of Trouble and (getting beat by a half a length to) Catalina Cruiser his last time out. He will meet no such rivals here and figures bang up here, especially if he can adapt to the vastly different West Coast race tracks…………………. Jalen Journey won three straight vs. lesser before being nailed on the wire by Diamond Oops in the Grade: 3 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream last time out. It’ll be interesting to see if he can hold his form with a trainer change and a move to the West Coast………………..Honorable Mentions: Chief Cicatriz is a win machine as his 10 for 15 career record would indicate. However, this six year old son of Munnings will be swimming in much deeper waters here………………………Air Strike pulled a 12-1 upset when running down my top pick last time out. This son of Street Sense was 0 for his last 5 heading into that race and, although he might run well in this spot, I doubt he does it again. By: Gerard Apadula Director of Equine Operations and Development Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) 2019- Record: 45-128 = 35% 2018- Record: 107-261= 41% 2017- Record: 92-235 = 39% 2016- Record: 91-229 = 40% 2015- Record: 67-180 = 37% 2014- Record: 29-73 = 40% 2013- Record: 20-59= 34% 2012 -Record: 24-73= 33% 2011 –Record: N/A 2010- Record: 24-74= 33% Little Bets N’ Pieces **** Trainer Shug McGaughey said Code of Honor who will bypass the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, will train up to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 24. Owned by William S. Farish, Code of Honor was a recent winner of the Grade 3 Dwyer, following his second-place result in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. “I haven't decided, still on the fence,” McGaughey said. “He's made great progress here in the last few days and I'm probably leaning more towards the Travers as opposed to running in both, just to give him more time in between races.” **** Omaha Beach recorded his first work at Del Mar after being sidelined due to an entrapped epiglottis. The handsome son of War Front went three furlongs in :36 3/5 Tuesday with Alex Solis aboard "Everything's healed up and he's back in good shape," trainer Richard Mandella said. "Had a very nice first work today, :36 and a little change, and he galloped out (four furlongs) in :49. We scoped him afterwards and the throat looked good, so we couldn't be happier." Del Mar's Aug. 25 Shared Belief Stakes, run at a mile for 3-year-olds, is a possible comeback spot for Omaha Beach.
With the Kentucky Derby now just three weeks away, our highlighted race of the week will be the last prep race for the Derby in the Grade: 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We will also be looking at the Oaklawn Handicap, a Grade: 2, $750,000 nine furlong contest also for four year olds and up. Elsewhere, we will take a look at three Graded Stakes races at Keeneland Race Course. The Ben Ali Stakes for four year olds and up, the Jenny Wiley Stakes, an 8 ½ furlong test for four year olds and up fillies and mares on the turf and the Lexington Stakes for three year olds who are desperately trying for some last minute Kentucky Derby points in hopes that a win or a good showing will catapult them into this year’s “Run for the Roses”. Lastly, on Sunday we will be examining the Grade: 1, $750,000 Apple Blossom back at Oaklawn Park, another 8 ½ furlong race for four year olds and up fillies and mares. Saturday, April 13, 2019 Keeneland Race Course Race: 7 (4:24 PM EST Post) Ben Ali Stakes If you look up “racehorse rounding back into top form” in the dictionary you might see a picture of Flameaway. The one time Kentucky Derby threat ran a very good third in the Grade: 3 Mineshaft off a nearly six month break two starts back. I really like the way this $400,000 son of Scat Daddy won his last, as he took pace pressure every step of the way while wiring the field. That last race, back to back excellent works since and this being his third start off the layoff, all point to another good effort upcoming. Lastly, I don’t see him having any problems in what is projected to be an off track on Saturday.…………………….Based off his last two races, a win and a fast closing third, both at Laurel Park, Bonus Points also seems to be in peak form right now. The Todd Pletcher trainee draws a good post for his running style and should be coming late in this spot……………………… I know Solomini is quite popular but I’m not a big fan of his. In fact, I believe he is one of the most overrated horses in quite some time…maybe since Keen Ice. Yes, he’s a Grade: 1 winner and yes, he’s hit the board in 9 of 11 career starts but two facts stand out about him to me. 1) He’s won one race since that Grade: 1 win (a span of 16 months) and that was against $40,000 optional claimers and 2) the fact still remains he is 2 for 11 lifetime. This son of Curlin will likely be over bet in this spot. ………….Honorable Mentions: Third Day is a $575,000 son of the corvette looking Bernardini who did well to finish third in the aforementioned Mineshaft Handicap in his last. This handsome colt was trapped behind a slow pace yet finished just a neck behind Flameaway in that race and his one and only race in the slop was an impressive win. Bottom line here is, he could better this rating especially if the track does come up wet…………………The cleverly named Nun the Less looks better suited for the synthetics but note he is 2 for 2 on off tracks. Merits a longshot look if the rains come…………….First Mondays, a $450,000 son of Curlin who missed the break in his last, and Just Whistle, who was a good third in the Peter Pan Stakes last year, both could run well here and neither would be a huge surprise. Race: 9 (5:34 PM EST Post) Stonestreet Lexington Anothertwistafate rattled off three super impressive, large margined wins over the synthetics this year but looked just as good, if not better, in his neck loss last time out in the Sunland Park Derby on the dirt. This $360,000 son of Scat Daddy sat just off screaming early fractions (:45.3, 1:09.3, 1:34.3) before “running on” to just miss the win. Note the :24 second flat internal fraction as it’s the sign of a quality runner. If this handsome, smooth strided colt, who ripped a sensational half mile work for this (:46.4) last week runs well enough here to make it into the Derby (he’s on the threshold on points), no one better go to sleep on him as he appears to have big time talent and would pose an enormous threat………………….Based off his close up, on the board finishes in the Sham, Southwest and Louisiana Derby, Sueno clearly looks next best………………….I really liked Zenden’s Tampa Bay Derby effort at 20-1 in his last. This son of Fed Biz normally assumes a stalking position early on in his races but in the Tampa Bay Derby, this horse blew the gate and ripped off super fast fractions (:22.3, 45.4 and 1:09.3). He understandably tired late but I thought he did extremely well to finish fourth and was only be beaten by four lengths to the likes of Tacitus and Win Win Win. Looks best of the rest here………………..Honorable Mentions: Call me stubborn, but I’m STILL not giving up on the late running Roiland, who has a habit of running well at double digit odds………………Anyone have any idea what to do with Harvey Wallbanger, who wins the Holy Bull at 30-1 then comes back and completely tanks in the Florida Derby? Because I sure don’t. He’s a tough horse to play with such inconsistencies…………If you are hunting a longshot in this race, take a good look at Shang, who is a neck shy of being unbeaten in five starts vs. lesser. Although he obviously will be taking a huge step up in class, it should be noted he ran the last 2 ½ furlongs of his last race in an excellent :30.1, his speed figures are climbing, he handles the wet track very well and the #1 post at this meet is winning at 18% thus far. Race: 10 (6:12 PM EST Post) Jenny Wiley Stakes Rushing Fall is a very special filly. This gorgeous, $320,000 daughter of More Than Ready is 6 for 7 in her career, has already captured two Grade: 1 wins and, had it not been for a questionable ride when losing her one race by a neck, she could be unbeaten. There is nothing not to like about her as she can handle the distance, is adaptable to any pace scenario, handles any “give” in the turf and is 3 for 3 at Keeneland. If you are looking to beat her, which might prove futile, you can use the angle that this will be her first start in exactly 6 months but that’s not enough for me……………………I like Rymska. She is a big, all black (very rare) five year old mare who is 7 for 13 in her career. This multiple Graded Stakes winner could not have looked any better in taking down the Hillsborough at Gulfstream in her last and you get the third start off the layoff angle. Easily looks next best here…………………Bellavais has been gradually improving since October. $485,000 mare by Tapit finished very well in her last and won her previous time out, both at Gulfstream Park. It appears she too can handle a soft turf course and has been on the board in 10 of 15 career races…………….Honorable Mentions: Onthemoonagain is a French invader who has fared very well in all four U.S. starts. Chad Brown trainee could better this rating with the right pace scenario……………Got Stormy came back running off a long layoff when whipping high level optionals. Steps up but that race could set her up for a good effort here……………….The longshot horse in this race is Princess Warrior, who looks overmatched on paper but note her two races on off turf courses were both very good. Oaklawn Park Race: 9 (6:22 PM EST Post) Oaklawn Handicap After back to back big efforts at “big balloons,” Rated R Superstar has methodically worked his way back into what appears to be top form. Although his rider is ice cold right now, he does like this track and seems to be ok if it rains as expected. …my best guess in an extremely wide open horse race…………………….Giant Expectations disappointed as the 8/5 favorite in the Essex in his last. This 6 year old by Giant Frost chased Battle of Midway and McKinzie two back and wasn’t embarrassed by any stretch, so you know he has ability. It’s the consistency I question as he hasn’t won a horse race of any kind in 16 months. That said he looks next best…………….Quip was up against it when he had to chase the absolutely streaking right now Prince Lucky in his first race back off a long layoff. This good looking son of Distorted Humor did well to finish third in that race and should be tighter for this…………………Honorable Mentions: Tenfold’s claim to fame is running Justify to three quarters of a length in the 2018 Preakness Stakes. This son of Curlin was a very close up fourth in his first race since, handles the slop just fine and should improve off his 2019 debut. Figures close………………Lone Sailor figures to do his normal “drop way back early but come with big run late only to fall short late” routine. Logically, the faster the pace, the better his chances are and the pace figures to be honest in this race……………..Keep an eye on Chris and Dave here too if it rains. Although he seems overmatched, he is 4 for 6 on wet tracks…………..I got to spend several minutes up close and personal with Lookin’ at Lee last year at Saratoga before the Travers. He is a very nice looking, well made horse, but he just hasn’t run to those looks as his 3 for 21 career record would indicate. Race: 11 (7:43 PM EST Post) Arkansas Derby There are a lot of “moving parts” with the big, almost perfectly strided, Improbable, so this race should tell the tale of where we stand with him. His last race, The Rebel, didn’t answer any questions for me. In fact, it seems to have posed more. Let’s start with why he was run down in deep stretch by Long Range Toddy. Was it because he was “parking lot” wide, off a boneheaded ride by DVD, throughout the entire race and, with that being his first race in 10 weeks, maybe he understandably tired late? I don’t know, like I’ve said before, Baffert is the master at sending them out ready, regardless of the situation. Was it the City Zip breeding that is causing the dreaded distance limitation? I don’t know that yet either being he romped, not once but twice, at 8 ½ furlongs before. Whatever the answers are, I know this much….Baffert is not sitting on his hands with this gorgeous colt. I don’t blame him one bit for making a rider change (from DVD to Jose Ortiz) and he is adding blinkers in this spot as well. I absolutely LOVED his last work where, with blinkers on, he sat just off his work mate, passed him on the turn for home and was "reaching out" soooooooooo beautifully down the lane I mumbled “wow” while stopping the clock in either 1:13.3 or 1:14 flat depending on what racing publication you read. This might prove futile, but I am sticking with him until he proves otherwise. That said, this race is a “do or die” for him. He will need to step up right now, in this spot to remain a serious Derby threat………………………….Horse Racing is a lot like other sports in the sense that the best baseball/basketball/football team doesn’t always win, but more of who gets hot heading into the playoffs. In this case, it’s who is getting good at just the right time and, aside from Tacitus and perhaps Vekoma, is there another horse in the country who is getting good right now more that Omaha Beach? After losing a couple of heart breaking, maiden races earlier in his career, this very handsome, very well bred colt (by War Front out of a mare super sire from years ago Seeking the Gold) ran a hole in the wind in the slop to finally break his maiden two starts back. He won by 9 that day and stopped the clock in a blistering 1:21 flat for seven panels. His next and last start was in a division of the Rebel, where he assumed command early, fended off a few others early in the race and then dug in and fended off none other than Two Year Old Colt Champion Game Winner in a thrilling stretch run. The Rebel proved two things. 1) He can handle the route distance and 2) he has the guts of a tight rope walker. Back to back bullet works since the Rebel signal he is holding form and possibly getting better. Big Money Mike gets the leg up……………….The aforementioned Long Range Toddy is a stretch runner who is 7-4-1-1 in his career has never finished more than two lengths behind the winner in his three career defeats. That, readers, is consistency. He draws the extreme outside post which could actually help him in this spot and I love his work pattern since his Rebel upset (8-1) win……………….Honorable Mentions: Although Galilean was passed in the stretch of the Rebel by Long Range Toddy, I still like this very handsome, $600,000 son of Uncle Mo. After annihilating Cal-Breds in his two prior races, this colt, who has a very efficient and smooth stride, did very well to finish third, beaten by less than three lengths in his first try vs. open company and outside the state of California as well. Bottom line here is, he is no easy throw out……………………...Country House is another late runner who, on the surface, looks to be struggling a bit outside the friendly confines of Gulfstream Park but a closer look shows he had legitimate excuses both times. He broke slowly (again) and chased a streaking War of Will two back and, after you guessed it, breaking slowly again, he was ridiculously wide in the Louisiana Derby. That said, this son of Lookin’ at Lucky could be a menace with a clean break and what is projected to be a hot early pace………………….Gray Attempt has won 4 of 6 in his career and is 2 for 3 on this oval plus he recorded a monster work in the mud last week (5F- :58.3). The problem I’m seeing with him is a mile or a mile a sixteenth looks to be “all of it.” In other words, on paper he looks better suited to sprinting. Sunday, April 14, 2019 Oaklawn Park Race: 8 (4:42 PM EST Post) Apple Blossom This year’s renewal of the Apple Blossom features a rematch from the Azeri Stakes with two of the best older females in the land in Elate and Midnight Bisou and this race figures to be a doozy. Midnight Bisou, who I liked since early last year, got the better of it last time and I’m sticking to my guns that she has a world of talent, will continue to get better and have a tremendous year when it’s all said and done. Four year old by Midnight Lute is off to a good start (2 for 2) in winning the Houston Ladies Classic in January and the aforementioned Azeri in March. She “takes her racetrack with her” as she is 7 for 13 in her career while winning on four different ovals in all parts of the country. Lastly, I believe she still holds a fitness edge over main rival Elate as this will be her third start (off the layoff) while Elate will be making her second start in eight months…………………….Elate is clearly the main threat in this spot. Head hunters in New Guinea could see this two time Grade: 1 winner needed her last as it was her first start in eight months. Filly by Medaglia d’ Oro did very well to finish second in the Azeri when beaten by just one length as the even money favorite. When I was at Belmont Park (before heading over to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial) last week, I heard several folks on the backstretch talk about how she may not be coming back the same as last year after, by trainer Bill Mott’s admittance, “a few minor injuries”. I’ll give her a mulligan for the Azeri but like Improbable this weekend, she needs to improve off the Azeri to prove that theory wrong………………….Wonder Gadot is another who probably needed her first race of 2019 when finishing second vs. optional $50,000 claimers on March 8 as it was her first start in over four months. Another daughter of “King of the (sales) Ring” Medaglia d’ Oro, this filly actually won two thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown (beating the boys) last year and still has that very long and flowing stride, which is especially good when on her right handed lead………………..Honorable Mention: Escape Clause is an absolute win machine while registering a mind boggling 20 wins in 30 career starts. Granted, she was beating up on far lesser competition at smaller tracks for most of it but still that’s quite a feat. That said, she did win a Grade: 2 at Santa Anita in January and could not have looked any better while blowing out her rivals at Sunland Park in her last. Mare by Going Commando (how did the Jockey Club miss that name by the way?), who stands for less than $1,000, won by 7+, getting a mile in a track record 1:34 flat. By: Gerard Apadula Director of Equine Operations and Development Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) 2019- Record: 22-72 = 31% (My Plays: -$2,314.14) 2018- Record: 107-261= 41% 2017- Record: 92-235 = 39% 2016- Record: 91-229 = 40% 2015- Record: 67-180 = 37% 2014- Record: 29-73 = 40% 2013- Record: 20-59= 34% 2012 -Record: 24-73= 33% 2011 –Record: N/A 2010- Record: 24-74= 33% Little Bets N’ Pieces ****Superstar Winx makes her final career start in the Group: 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick. If her win streak continues, this will be her 33rd straight win and 25th Group: 1. The scheduled post time is 11:05 p.m. ET on Friday, April 12th. **** Lady Pauline, a half-sister to Lady Aurelia, was an eye catching, first time out winner last week at Keeneland. Going off at an enormous 1-5 betting favorite, the Stonestreet homebred blew the gate and showed a very impressive speed to win by 9 3/4 lengths, stopping the clock in :51:3 for 4 ½ furlongs. We’ll need to keep an eye on her moving forward. ****In all my years of being involved in this sport, I’m not sure I’ve seen a stronger book of mares to be bred to one first year stallion ever. Justify, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Paris, KY., for $150,000, has the following list of mares booked: (although this is not all of them) A Raving Beauty Multiple G1 winner A Z Warrior G1 winner Afleet Maggi Dam of G1 winner Dream Tree African Jade Dam of G1 winner Lord Nelson Appealing Zophie G1 winner, dam of Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit Bar of Gold Won Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Bella Jolie Dam of champion sprinter Runhappy Birdatthewire G1 winner Blossomed Dam of G1 winner Sippican Harbor Brave Anna G1 winner Bubbler Dam of champion Arrogate Caledonia Road Champion 2-year-old filly Champagne Room Champion 2-year-old filly Charming Dam of champion 2-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi, Classic Strike Dam of G1 winner Union Strike Dazzling Song Dam of G1 winner Magnum Moon Diamondsandrubies G1 winner Diva Delite Dam of G1 winner Midnight Bisou Dream Dancing G1 winner D’Wildcat Speed Dam of filly Lady Aurelia Emma’s Encore G1 winner Found won Breeders’ Cup Turf Got Lucky G1 winner Grace Hall G1 winner Grazie Mille Dam of G1 winner Mo Town Groupie Doll Two-time champion female sprinter and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Havre de Grace 2011 Horse of the Year, sold for $10 million Ithinkisawapudycat Dam of G1 winner Sweet Loretta, Khancord Kid Dam of Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold Kosmo’s Buddy Dam of G1 winner Knicks Go Mining My Own Dam of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and G1 winner Dullahan Misty For Me G1 winner, dam of Cartier champion 2-year-old colt U S Navy Flag Moonshine Memories G1 winner Morena dam of Belmont Stakes winner Creator Noted and Quoted G1 winner Pretty ‘n’ Smart Dam of G1 winner Cupid Rare Event Dam of G1 winner Improbable Sambuca Classica Dam of champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire Silk and Scarlet Dam of G1 winner Master of Hounds Silky Serenade Dam of G1 winner Restless Rider, So Sharp of G1 winner Sharp Azteca Storm Dixie Dam of Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar Tapestry G1 winner Together Forever: G1 winner Turbulent Descent G1 winner Untouched Talent dam of G1 winner Bodemeister Vale Dori G1 winner Yellow Heat Dam of G1 winner R Heat Lightning Zipessa G1 winner
Kentucky is arguably the United States of America’s most famous state for horse racing and horse betting alike. In no small part is this due to the state being the home of the world famous Churchill Downs horse racing track in Louisville, where the Kentucky Derby has been the “Run for the Roses” for over 100 years, celebrated as the first jewel of the famous Triple Crown. Show off your Derby Handicapping skills and pick up a free $50 in wagering credits for the Preakness Stakes. OTB is also offering a consolation prize if you don't get all 3 correct. We'll give you $10 if you only get the top 2 finishers correct (in order), and a free bet ($2 in wagering credits) if you only pick the correct Kentucky Derby winner. NEWPORT, Ky. (WKRC) - Churchill Downs is expanding its move into Northern Kentucky with plans to build a new gaming facility in Newport called The Turfway Extension. The $38. 4 million gaming ... Off Track Betting Kentucky Kentucky is practically synonymous with horse racing and there is always a way to get in on the excitement. Whether you are taking in the live racing underneath the famed Twin Spires of Churchill Downs or enjoying an afternoon with friends at a conveniently located Off Track Betting location, there are plenty of ... Kentucky Derby Betting Online. It is very important to select an online sportsbook to make your Kentucky Derby wagers. This event typically has some of the highest payoffs of the year, especially in the trifecta and superfecta areas.
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