2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

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October 31st 2018 – Updated November 3rd 2018 4:40 PM CST

Below is the starting field for the 2018 Breeders Cup Classic with post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds. The race will be aired live by NBC. Post time is 4:44 PM CST/5:44 PM EST.

Breeders’ Cup Classic

Post Position/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Thunder Snow – Soumillon/Suroor – 12-1
2. Roaring Lion – Murphy/Gosden – 20-1
3. Catholic Boy – Castellano/Thomas – 8-1
4. Gunnevera – Ortiz Jr/Sano – 20-1
5. Lone Sailor – Graham/Amoss – 30-1
6. McKinzie – Smith/Baffert – 6-1
7. West Coast – Velazquez/Baffert – 5-1
8. Pavel –  Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20-1
9. Mendelssohn – Moore/O’Brien – 12-1
10. Yoshida – Ortiz/Mott – 10-1
11. Mind Your Biscuits – Gaffliaone/Summers – 6-1
12. Axelrod – Bravo/McCarthy – 30-1
13. Discreet Lover – Franco/Lewis – 20-1
14. Accelerate Rosario/Sadler – 5-2

Also Eligibles:
15. Collected – Trainer Bob Baffert – 30-1
16. Toast of New York – Trainer Jamie Osborne – 20-1

Race Commentary:  Overall, I feel that this is one of the weaker Breeders’ Cup Classic fields we have had in awhile. But this race carries a $6 Million dollar purse and I still think this will be an exciting race that could produce a surprise winner. There is no horse in this field that I think is a lock to win it this year.

My feeling right now is that Accelerate is really the class of this field. Usually the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic has had a Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) greater than 115. Only two horses in this field have met or exceeded this standard this year: West Coast in Pegasus World Cup way back in January with a 117 BSF and Accelerate in the Pacific Classic in August with a 115 BSF. For any other horse in this field, this means that they will have to run way better than they have ever had in their career. 

Please note that Accelerate beat West Coast in their most recent race, the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita (shown below), despite Accelerate having to travel the greater distance since he beat him coming from the outside.

Also note that jockey Mike Smith opted to ride McKinzie over West Coast. That tells me all I need to know. That Smith likes his chances better on a 3 year-old (McKinzie) vs the 4 year-old (West Coast).

Accelerate really has the tougher post-position starting from gate 14. If he drew an inside post or a post in the middle of the field, I would key Accelerate to win in my exotic bets. However, also note that trainer John Sadler has never won a Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer Bob Baffert, who trains McKinzie and West Coast, has won three.

Overall, I like big Win bets on Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race on Friday than any win bet on a horse in this Breeders’ Cup Classic field. So what I would do is place smaller Boxed Exactas on Accelerate-McKinzie (6,14 over 6,14) and Boxed Trifectas on Accelerate, McKinzie and West Coast (6,7,14 over 6,7,14 over 6,7,14). A $1 Boxed Trifecta would cost $6. 

If I had to pick one horse who I think could surprise everyone, it would be Mind Your Biscuits who won the Lukas Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs in late September and earned a 108 BSF. However, note that Mind Your Biscuits has never raced further than 9 furlongs but he has finished 1st or 2nd in his last six starts.

Updates

Click on Hyperlink for each race to see Brisnet Past Performances

Breeders’ Cup Mile (Turf Race #8): This race is too wide-open for my tastes. But if you want a selection for a Pick 4, I’d go with the Chad Brown trained Analyze It from post position #12. However, there are a number of unknowns in this field. So if you are playing a Pick 4 and like another horse in the field, throw them in. You might want to throw in Next Shares and Oscar Performance. So 2-5-12.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Race #9)I like Mike Smith riding on Abel Tasman from post-position #2. This one is no lock but I will take my chances with Mike Smith and the better inside post-position.

Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf (Race #10): I like Enable from post position #2. Enable has won eight straight, including two prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe races. Career: 10 starts, 9 wins. This is as much of a lock as you will find for a turf race and a European shipper. But bet cautiously as Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners haven’t fared well in this Longines Turf race.

Breeders’ Cup Classic (Race #11): You have got to be concerned with trainer John Sadler’s record in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and especially with how Catalina Cruiser bombed in the Dirt Mile earlier. So Sadler’s trainee Accelerate, the morning line favorite, may end up the third or fourth favorite by post-time. I am warming up to McKinzie a bit more as my race winner. However, note that Catholic Boy was the early betting favorite for this race on Friday. I still think this race is wide-open and will be must-see TV. I still like Accelerate.

My advice, on the Breeders’ Cup Classic: Bet Small and Enjoy. It will be a fun race.

–Michael

2018 Breeders Cup World Championships

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October 28th 2018

It has been awhile since I posted a blog. With sports betting on the horizon of becoming legalized in a number of states in the near future, I have been trying my hand a handicapping various sports with some friends. The potential goal being the creation of a sports handicapping service in the future with handicappers who excel in various sports. What I learned may become a future blog on US Racing. That being said, one sport that I have excelled at handicapping thus far is NFL football.

Another reason why I haven’t posted a blog in awhile is the fact that I feel this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic field is weaker than year’s past. I do feel that the Classic is more wide open this year and it should be an exciting race. As far as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, I think Game Winner is going to take that race.

Check back later as I will post another blog with some of my Breeders’ Cup World Championship selections. I do plan to focus more on the 2019 Pegasus World Cup in January as it is the richest horse race in the world and I seem to do well historically at Gulfstream Park.

–Michael

Labor Day Special – The Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity

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September 3rd 2018

It’s Labor Day and time to get a nice “look-see” on potential Kentucky Derby runners for next year with two Grade 1 races: The Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga and the Del Mar FuturityBelow are the post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and morning line odds for both races:

The Hopeful Stakes  – 7 furlongs – Race #10 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:38 PM CST. Televised by Fox Sports 2 and TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Sombeyay (122) – Castellano/Pletcher – 5/1 
2. Mind Control (118) – Velazquez/Sacco – 5/1  
3. Nitrous (118) – Santana Jr/Assmussen – 7/2 
4. Thatwouldbegrand (118) – Ortiz Jr/Capuno – 20/1
5. Dream Maker (118) – Leparoux/Casse – 4/1  
6. Backtohisroots (118) – Davis/Terranova – 20/1
7. Mucho (118) – Rosario/Mott – 8/5
8. Derby Date (116) – Saez/Lukas – 15/1 

My Pick:  Mucho has posted a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in a 6 furlong race at Saratoga last month. He’s the fastest horse in this field. However, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that Steve Asmussen’s Nitrous is going to win this one. He has a nice starting position on the inside. So I will probably be doing a #3/#7 Boxed Exacta.


The Del Mar Futurity  – 7 furlongs – Race #9 at Del Mar – Post-Time: 8:05 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Sparky Ville (120) – Stevens/Bonde – 20/1
2. Rowayton (120) – Van Dyke/Hollendorfer – 3/1
3. Roadster (120) – Smith/Baffert – 6/5
4. Savagery (120) – Talamo/Miller- 15/1
5. Spin Lightning (120) – Prat/Mullins – 6/1
6. Sigalert (120) – Baze/Sadler – 8/1
7. Game Winner (120) – Gutierrez/Baffert – 4/1

My Pick: I think Roadster is one of the top 2-year-olds currently along with Jerry Hollendorfer’s Instagrand. Instagrand’s ownership decided to skip this race. I was really hoping, like many other race fans, for this showdown. I like Roadster for the win. I think a #3 over #2,#7 Exacta might be a good play here. But remember that 2-year-olds can be very unpredictable.

–Michael

A Lack of Superstars? Kentucky Derby Classes As 2 Year-Olds

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August 27th 2018

One thing that I have been kind of silent about after the retirement of Justify, is that fact that this sport really lacks a Superstar right now. Why? Because it doesn’t really make good sense for anyone in the media to lament the fact because blog views will go down, TV ratings will go down, interest in the sport will wane. etc. 

Part of the problem with a lack of Superstars in the sport is due to the fact that the casual fan gets to know and develops favorite horses mostly due to exposure from the Kentucky Derby. How many of the past Derby runners from previous years are still racing and doing well in the Older Horse division? Virtually none. Although there is talent in the Older Horse division with Accelerate and Diversify, they lack name recognition with the casual race fan as a consequence of not running in the Kentucky Derby.

The other part of the problem has been the fact that the last few Derby classes have lacked depth which I will get into shortly. When the talent pool of a Derby class lacks depth, ultimately it affects the Older Horse division the next year since injuries and retirements to the breeding shed take away many budding Superstars. 

Typically in the past, before the Curse of Apollo breaker Justify, the vast majority of the time, the future Kentucky Derby winner had raced as a 2-year-old on or before Labor Day. See chart below.

Kentucky Derby Winners – # of Starts as a 2-Year-Old by Labor Day

2017 – Always Dreaming – 2
2016 – Nyquist – 3
2015 – American Pharoah – 1
2014 – California Chrome – 4
2013 – Orb – 1
2012 – I’ll Have Another – 2
2011 – Animal Kingdom – None (1st Start Sept 18th)
2010 – Super Saver – 1
2009 – Mine That Bird – 3
2008 – Big Brown – 1

Critics of Justify state that he dominated a weak Derby class to win his Triple Crown. A Triple Crown is still one of the toughest accomplishments in sports, but this criticism is warranted.

The good news, early reports are this upcoming Kentucky Derby class will be a good one. When looking at Beyer Speed Figures as 2 Year-Olds, I decided to research and find out how many from the past six classes had achieved a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 or better by September 1st.

2018 – 5
2017 – 2 
2016 – 5
2015 – 2
2014 – 10
2013 – 9

The 2013 and 2014 2 Year-Old classes were exceptional and produced Derby winners the following year in California Chrome and American Pharoah. There was little doubt in my mind before this research that American Pharoah and California Chrome both faced tougher competition in their Triple Crown runs than Justify faced this year. This makes me appreciate American Pharoah’s Triple Crown championship even more.

The 2015 2 Year-Old Class that included eventual Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist had some of the weakest Beyer Speed Figures and times. Many in the media moaned about the slow times. The 2017 2-Year-Old class showed a lot of promise but didn’t really deliver as expected as 3 Year-Olds. The poster child here was Bolt d’Oro who had many excited as a 2 Year-Old but kind of faded as a 3 Year-Old.

So when you have a number of weak Derby classes in a row and the Triple Crown Champion is retired after the Belmont Stakes, you have the situation we have right now with a lack of Superstars. But hope springs eternal with the next Derby class.

Early 2019 Kentucky Derby Favorites?

As for the 2019 Kentucky Derby class, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt Instagrand and Bob Baffert’s Roadster are the top two on my watch list. I have posted videos of both colts below. Instagrand has already posted Beyer Speed Figures of 88 and 92 in his first two starts.

Both colts are expected to square off in the Del Mar Futurity next Monday. My next blog will preview this race. Stay tuned!


Update With Some Sad News

Shortly after publishing this blog, I caught the unexpected news of the passing of John Asher, who was Vice President of Racing Communications at Churchill Downs. Asher died on an apparent heart attack early this morning. This is really sad news for our sport as John Asher was the most visible face of the Kentucky Derby and a real credit to the sport. The sport needs more people like John, not less.

A Twitter tweet from trainer Bob Baffert sums it up best: John was the warm human face of Churchill Downs. He was as Kentucky as the Derby and the Bluegrass, Bourbon and hot Browns.

Condolences to Asher’s family and friends. He will be missed.

–Michael

Catholic Boy Surprises in Travers, Updated 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

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August 26th 2018

The 149th Travers Stakes (shown below) proved to be exciting and a very humbling race for national handicappers as most experts picked Good Magic, Vino Rosso or Wonder Gadot to win. I picked Gronkowski.  Vino Rosso finished 5th. Gronkowski, Good Magic and Wonder Gadot finished 8th, 9th and 10th (last) respectively. These performances, to say the least, were head-scratchers. I think I could have drawn names out of a hat and fared better. But exotic bets sure paid out well. A 50 cent Trifecta paid back $744.25. Even better, a 10 cent Superfecta paid out $1,796.75.

Best 3-Year-Old still in Training?

It’s a no-brainer that Justify will unanimously win this year’s 3 Year Old Male Dirt Champion award by virtue of becoming the 13th Triple Crown Champion. So this begs the question, who is the best 3 Year Old still in training? It could be the filly Abel Tasman, but as far as colts are concerned, my pick would be Catholic Boy.

In a matter of seven weeks, Catholic Boy has produced a Grade 1 win on the turf in the 10 furlong Belmont Derby and a Grade 1 win on the dirt at the same distance in the Travers Stakes. In the Travers Stakes, Catholic Boy beat the Kentucky Derby Runner-up and Haskell Invitational winner Good Magic, the Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational Runner-Up Bravazo and the Belmont Stakes Runner-up Gronkowski.

My Boy Jack Update

I emailed West Point Thoroughbeds CEO Terry Finley, who is a minority owner of My Boy Jack, asking him for an update. Finley said they are resting him and planning on a big 2019 campaign. Per reports found on Bloodhorse.com and the Paulick Report, My Boy Jack will likely have surgery to remove bone chips from his front ankles that isn’t anything serious but probably was affecting his performance. It was discovered after his disappointing 8th place finish in the Belmont Derby.

Below are my updated Breebers’ Cup Classic Contender rankings.

2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Accelerate –Accelerate completed the Big Cap-Gold Cup double this spring having been victorious in the Santa Anita Handicap in March and Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes on May 26th. He followed up this effort with a win and career high Beyer Speed Figure of 115 in the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar (shown below). Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park on September 29th.

Career: 20 Starts 8-5-5-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joel Rosario 
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.38 – 2018 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 1152018 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic  

2) Diversify – The 5-year-old gelding eclipsed the $1 Million dollar mark in career earnings with his win in the Suburban Stakes. In hsis next start on August 4th, he won the Whitney Stakes with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. He runs great in the state of New York and especially at Belmont Park. The question is, can he transfer this form to another track? Last year, he finished 4th in the 9 furlong Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on September 29th. 

Career: 15 Starts 10-2-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bellamy Road
Trainer: Richard Violette
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:59.84 – 2018 Suburban Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 110- 2018 Suburban Stakes/2018 Whitney Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes/2018 Whitney Stakes

3) Thunder SnowAs a 3-year-old, many fans will remember his “I’m outta here” start in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. However, he bounced back from that performance to win a couple of Group 1 races: The 2017 Prix Jean Prat (on turf) and the 2018 Dubai World Cup (beating the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast). But his most recent start in the Juddamonte International turf race on August 22nd was puzzling as he finished 8th and dead last. Next Start: Unknown.

Career: 19 Starts 7-5-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd->1st–>8th
Sire: Helmet
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 111 – 2018 Dubai World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2018 Dubai World Cup

4) West Coast – West Coast finished 3rd in last year’s Classic. This year, he has two 2nd places finishes in the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup. He has never finished off the board in 11 career starts and has the highest Beyer Speed Figure this year (117) of active horses still in training. Next Start: Nothing announced to date. He was supposed to return to training a few weeks ago, but I cannot find any published workouts.

Career: 11 Starts 6-4-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.19 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 117 – 2018 Pegasus World Cup 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2018 Pegasus World Cup 

5) Catholic Boy – He has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Travers Stakes where he received a career best 104 Beyer Speed Figure. However, many believe that he is best suited on the turf and could be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf race. Next Start: Unknown. 

Career: 9 Starts 6-1-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: More Than Ready
Trainer: Jonathan Thomas
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.94 – 2018 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2018 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 104 – 2018 Travers Stakes 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2018 Travers Stakes 


On the Docket…

Time to switch gears a bit. My next blog will likely be a preview of the 2019 Kentucky Derby class, followed by a race preview of the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs scheduled on September 15th. The Iroquois Stakes is the first “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile. Early reports suggest that this 2-Year-Old class is a very good one.

–Michael

2018 Travers Stakes Preview

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August 21st 2018 – Updated August 25th 2018 3:45 PM CST

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 149th Travers Stakes. As expected, Good Magic is the morning line odds favorite at 2/1. The filly Wonder Gadot is third favorite at 5/1. The race will be televised Saturday between 4pm and 5pm CST on NBC. 

***Update: The track seems to have an inside bias today which will bode well for Wonder Gadot and Gronkowski

Note: I have linked every horse in the field to their Equibase profiles so you can see their recent results and workouts.

The 149th Travers Stakes 

1 1/4th Mile – Race #11 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday August 26th 4:45 PM CST. Televised by NBC

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds/Last Start
1. Trigger Warning – Rosendo/Rone – 30/1 – 2nd in Indiana Derby
2. Wonder Gadot – I.Ortiz Jr./Casse – 5/1 – 1st in Prince of Wales  
3. Gronkowski – Rosario/Brown – 4/1 – 2nd in Belmont Stakes 
4. Bravazo – Saez/Lukas – 12/1 – 2nd in Haskell Invitational
5. Vino Rosso – Velazquez/Pletcher – 10/1 – 3rd in Jim Dandy Stakes 
6. Meistermind – Franco/Asmussen – 30/1 – 5th in allowance race (SCRATCHED)
7. King Zachary – Albarado/Romans – 15/1 – 4th in Indiana Stakes
8. Mendelssohn – Moore/O’Brien – 12/1 – 3rd in Dwyer Stakes 
9. Good Magic – J.Ortiz/Brown – 2/1 – 1st in Haskell Invitational  
10. Tenfold – Santana Jr./Asmussen – 8/1 – 1st in Jim Dandy Stakes 
11. Catholic Boy – Castellano/Thomas – 8/1 – 1st in Belmont Derby (turf)

Race Analysis: Although I would love to see the filly Wonder Gadot beat the boys and pull off the upset, I think Gronkowski is primed for a big win this Saturday. Just watching video of him and Good Magic schooling in the paddock today (Click HERE), Gronkowski looks noticeably bigger and more physically impressive. He got out of the gates poorly in the Belmont Stakes, but ran some of the best fractions in the race after that. 

I calculate that Gronkowsi ran the last 4 furlongs in 49.01 (36.72mph). That is bringing it and more impressive than anything Good Magic or Tenfold did in the Haskell Invitational and Jim Dandy Stakes.

As far as Wonder Gadot, she is a bit of a tough read as her two most more recent starts, both impressive wins, were run on a synthetic surface at Woodbine and over a sloppy dirt track at Fort Erie. However, she did run very well in a second place finish in the 8 furlong Kentucky Oaks. For this reason, I think she has a shot to hit the board and a slight chance of pulling off an upset. But my money will be on Gronkowski.

I like Win and Place bets on Gronkowski. I will make a small $10 straight 3-9 Exacta bet (Gronkowski over Good Magic) but I could see several horses finishing second in this race such as Wonder Gadot, Vino Rosso and Catholic Boy. For my $1 Trifecta, 3,5 over 3,5,9 over 3,5,9–total cost $4. For Superfecta betting, I like a 50 cent Superfecta of 3 over 9 over 2,4,5,11 over 2,4,7, 5,11 would cost $8.

I have a feeling that this Superfecta will be hard to hit as this field has a number of horses who are very close in talent and ability. One horse who may surprise everyone is King Zachary if he runs as well as he did in the Matt Winn Stakes. So I decided to add him in my 4th sport of my Superfecta.

–Michael

2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

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August 19th 2018

Below, are what I believe, are the four of the top Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders at this point of the racing season. As you can see, I don’t have any 3 year-olds ranked in my top four. Aside from Justify who was retired, this year’s 3 year-old class hasn’t performed up to the expectations I had of them based upon their 2 year-old times and speed figures. They have been a bit disappointing and I’m not the only handicapper who feels this way.

However, the upcoming Travers Stakes this Saturday is an opportunity to change my mind. Working in this 3 year-old class’s favor, is the fact that most of the remaining older horses still in training have yet to dazzle anyone to date either. Accelerate and Diversify are the top two North American horses still in training. They both appear to be trending upwards, so we could be dazzled in the coming months.

2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Accelerate –Accelerate completed the Big Cap-Gold Cup double this spring having been victorious in the Santa Anita Handicap in March and Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes on May 26th. He followed up this effort with a win and career high Beyer Speed Figure of 115 in the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar (shown below). Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park on September 29th.

Career: 20 Starts 8-5-5-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joel Rosario 
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.38 – 2018 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 1152018 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2018 Pacific Classic  

2) Diversify – The 5-year-old gelding eclipsed the $1 Million dollar mark in career earnings with his win in the Suburban Stakes. In hsis next start on August 4th, he won the Whitney Stakes with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. He runs great in the state of New York and especially at Belmont Park. The question is, can he transfer this form to another track? Last year, he finished 4th in the 9 furlong Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Next Start: Unknown. 

Career: 15 Starts 10-2-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bellamy Road
Trainer: Richard Violette
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 1:59.84 – 2018 Suburban Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 110- 2018 Suburban Stakes/2018 Whitney Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2018 Suburban Stakes/2018 Whitney Stakes

3) Thunder SnowAs a 3-year-old, many fans will remember his “I’m outta here” start in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. However, he bounced back from that performance to win a couple of Group 1 races: The 2017 Prix Jean Prat (on turf) and the 2018 Dubai World Cup (beating the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast). Next Start: The 2018 Juddamonte International turf race at Newmarket on August 22nd.

Career: 18 Starts 7-5-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd->1st
Sire: Helmet
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 111 – 2018 Dubai World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2018 Dubai World Cup

4) West Coast – Another Breeders’ Cup Classic contender from Bob Baffert’s barn. West Coast finished 3rd in last year’s Classic. This year, he has two 2nd places finishes in the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup. He has never finished off the board in 11 career starts and has the highest Beyer Speed Figure this year (117) of active horses still in training. Next Start: He will be resuming training soon. Nothing announced to date. 

Career: 11 Starts 6-4-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.19 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2018: 117 – 2018 Pegasus World Cup 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2018 Pegasus World Cup 


On the Docket…

My next blog will be a race preview of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga scheduled for this coming Saturday August 25th. The Travers Stakes entries should include a 3 year-old filly, Wonder Gadot, taking on Good Magic, Gronkowski and Bravaso. In my opinion, the Travers Stakes is the 2nd best 3 year-old race behind the Kentucky Derby. The Travers will be televised by NBC, so you won’t want to miss it.

–Michael

How to Improve and Grow the Sport of Horse Racing

 

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August 8th 2018

I am working on a multi-part series for US Racing titled “How to Improve and Grow the Sport of Horse Racing”

The first part can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

https://www.usracing.com/news/features/improve-grow-horse-racing

Please note that ESPN2 aired the Dodgeball World Cup during prime time on ESPN2 on tonight. I rest my case. This sport has sorely needed a prime time night of the week to sell itself for decades and Wednesday is completely open.

My series will touch on improving overall fan experience for events, increased safety for jockeys, increased safety for horses and catering more to the backbone of this industry: bettors.

Stay tuned! I am bringing in some unique, lifelong experiences, that I think will help this sport grow. And my US Racing editor, Derek Simon, is great for giving us writers the freedom to speak our mind.

US Racing has grown tremendously in the past few years.  Just about every monthly update I get, views are up over the previous months. US Racing has added many other talented writers, has had a free lance author Margaret Ransom get nominated for two Eclipse Writing Awards.

My article, Does Triple Crown Winner Justify Have A Weight Problem? was the top-read article on US Racing for the month of July.

–Michael

 

 

Why Justify’s Premature Retirement Threatens The Future Of Horse Racing

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August 3rd 2018

My latest US Racing article Why Justify’s Premature Retirement Threatens The Future Of Horse Racing can be accessed on the hyperlink below: 

https://www.usracing.com/news/features/justifys-premature-retirement-threatens-future-horse-racing 

The article was edited for length and probably should have been a two part feature. So I will use this blog to expand on some areas.

“They did the right thing”

Judging from some of the comments I received from those in favor of retiring Justify, aka the “They did the right thing” crowd, first it needs to pointed out that Justify has not been officially diagnosed with an injury. Inflammation in the joints of performance horses is extremely common. A good article on the causes can be found by clicking HERE

Plain and simple, Justify was retired because he was worth more in the breeding shed than on the race track. It begs the following questions:

  • Are we breeding to race or racing to breed?
  • If this is now the standard for a Triple Crown winner, then why will the casual fan have any interest in the sport outside of the three Triple Crown races?
  • Why will the casual fan want to invest time watching a sport knowing full well that their favorite horse’s career will be short-lived if they are too good on the racetrack?

Can’t Buy Love or a Triple Crown

You’ve heard the old saying that you can’t buy love? Well, you can’t buy a Triple Crown winner either. Both are just fate combined with a little luck. As I noted in my article how Secretariat’s progeny fared, if you want another example of the other side of the pond, how about Lammtarra?

Lammtarra won all four career starts, three of which were Group 1 turf races in 1995 with his biggest being the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His breeding rights were sold to Japanese investors for $30 million at the end of his 1996 breeding season. This would equate to $48 million US dollars today. Lammtarra’s best progeny were two Grade 3 Japanese winners. His stud fees plummeted from £30,000 (~$39,300) to £2,500 (~$3,275).

However, examples like this doesn’t stop the foolish spending and attempts of buying a future Triple Crown winner on genes alone.

More Emphasis On Fan Experience

As I noted in my article, with the recent Supreme Court decision on sports betting, Joe American will have more options when it comes to betting. And handicapping an NFL game is easier than handicapping a ten horse field. So the sport of horse racing is getting more competition in the future and will need to focus more on improving fan experience at events.

One of my biggest beefs is selling tickets to get into the Walking Ring area. Selling tickets for seating in the Walking Ring area, I understand. However, having to pay additional for a pass to even get in the area is just wrong and greedy. You have to allow every fan in attendance an opportunity to be up close to the stars of the sport. Not try to capitalize on every potential dollar that you can make off them.

As I noted in my article, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita was a very disappointing experience. Why? Because the Breeders’ Cup LTD organization oversold tickets to capitalize on California Chrome’s popularity. While this event did set Breeders’ Cup attendance records (45,673 on Friday and 72,811 on Saturday), the Breeders’ Cup is supposed to be the Super Bowl of the sport. It was everything except.

At the Belmont Stakes this year, I had great reserved seating but it was a long walk, needing your ticket for clearance to get through security, to get to a place where you could buy a Long Island Ice Tea on Long Island. Then factor in poor cell phone reception and absolutely no docking stations for patrons. Fortunately, Belmont Park treats media like gold as they had media stations everywhere with outlets and I was able to recharge my phone.

Come Out of The Dark Ages

As I noted in my article, docking stations to recharge your cellphone, they are now becoming more commonplace at sports venues. They have them at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. This is an example, along with others noted in my article, of what other sports do today to attract and retain fans. Especially the tech-savvy younger generation whom this sports needs to market more to.

Overall, I love the sport of horse racing. I want the sport to reclaim some of its former glory and success. However, many key people within the sport need to take a long look in the mirror and get out of their cushy suite and experience an event as a regular fan.

This sport needs to come up to speed with technology and fan experience if it wants to compete with other professional sports in the future.

–Michael

Justify Retired After 6 Career Starts

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July 25th 2018

As I predicted two weeks ago in my blog titled Why I became a fan of Horse Racing – before the ‘Sport of Kings’ killed the Goose that laid Golden Eggs” today it was announced that Justify will be retired. I hoped like hell that I would be wrong.

I could reference other sources for quotes and reasons for the early retirement, but I am not going to. I am not buying it. Instead, I would rather voice my opinion and make my commentary on a larger scale in a US Racing article that might reach more of the key players in the sport of horse racing.

I have a bit of an “Axe to Grind” with the sport of horse racing that I love and have been meaning to write about it for awhile. But I sort of got sidetracked, so caught up in the Justify hysteria that I put it aside.

Stay tuned! This next US Racing article will cut like a knife but it needs to for its survival.

–Michael