My preview of the 2020 Belmont Stakes can be found by clicking the link below.
My preview of the 2020 Belmont Stakes can be found by clicking the link below.
Coming up Saturday, we get our first big horse race of the year with the fourth annual Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. The Pegasus World Cup was the richest horse race in the world in 2017 and 2018 with purses of $12 Million and $16 Million respectively. Last year, the purse was reduced to $9 Million. This year it was reduced again down to $3 Million, the same purse size as the Kentucky Derby.
This race would have been more interesting had Maximum Security been entered as everyone hoped. But Maximum Security’s owner Gary West is bypassing the Pegasus in favor of the $20 million Saudi Cup scheduled for February 29th.
Below are the official entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for this year’s Pegasus World Cup scheduled for Saturday, January 25th at Gulfstream Park. Post time is 5:34 PM EST. The race will be televised on NBC with coverage beginning at 4:30 PM EST. All horses will carry 124 lbs weight.
Post Position/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. True Timber – Bravo/McLaughlin – 20/1
2. Tax – J. Ortiz/Gargan – 12/1
3. Diamond Oops – Leparoux/Biancone – 20/1
4. Seeking the Soul – Velazquez/Stewart – 30/1
Omaha Beach – Smith/Mandella – 7/5 (Scratched)
6. Higher Power – Prat/Sadler – 6/1
7. War Story – Rosario/Dobles – 30/1
8. Mr Freeze – Saez/Romans – 30/1
Spun to Run – Castellano/Guerrero – 7/2 (Scratched
10. Mucho Gusto – I. Ortiz Jr/Baffert – 9/2
11. Tenfold – Gafflione/Asmussen – 30/1
12. Bodexpress – Jaramillo/Gargan – 30/1
Race Analysis: With the scratches of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, this scrambles up my original handicapping. The race favorite and my new favorite to win will be Mucho Gusto. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr, who won beat Omaha Beach in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile aboard Spun to Run, opted to switch mounts and jump onboard Bob Baffert’s entry Mucho Gusto. This was a surprising move at the time but Baffert claims that Mucho Gusto has been training well of late.
Perhaps a step up from 8 to 9 furlongs is another reason that factored in Ortiz’s decision since Spun to Run’s best finish at 9 furlongs was his third place in the Haskell Invitational where he finished behind Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto.
I like Mucho Gusto being keyed to win in exotics with Tax, Higher Power, Mr Freeze, Diamond Oops and War Story. I will add that Mucho Gusto is no lock and I’m not betting big on this race. Respected handicappers are all over the board on who they think the race winner will be and a lot of them don’t like Mucho Gusto due to his last performance in the Remington Stakes. I asked my respected horse racing handicapping friends for their picks and nobody wants any part of this one. You have horses coming off long layoffs, so anything can happen. My advice, make smaller trifecta and superfecta bets. I did 10 over 2,6 over 2,6 over 2,3,6,7,12.
Right now, Mucho Gusto and Higher Power are both around 3-1. With Higher Power having issues eating a few days ago, you have to wonder how his stamina will be today.
I will update this blog clear up until post-time in case there are any scratches or the weather changes. Right now, weather.com shows it will be sunny and clear with temps in the 70s. Also note that you can find free past performances for this race by clicking HERE
Also, I am on Twitter and you can add me at https://twitter.com/totallyfearless
After a year or more of being frustrated with the sport of horse racing, I am back and decided to renew this thederbyhandicaper.com site.
My reasoning is simple, I like some of the safety stuff I have seen lately. I think the sport of horse racing is pointed in the right direction. But I will admit, it has a long way to go. I love horses and horse racing.
Another factor, writing about multiple sports like I did on my coxsportsnet.com website, you are sort of small fish in a big pond. I did get great views on some articles that I posted but from my experience and writing ability, I could write a similar article on horse racing and get ten times the views for most articles.
It helps when your area (mine in Missouri, see above picture), was once referred to as “nothing but a horse town.” Hence the above picture. My hometown has so many streets named after horses and horse racing.
I’m back! Doing what I love and what I am best at and most appreciated for. My next blog will be a preview of the Pegasus World Cup.
Reviewing my Facebook memories yesterday, I stumbled upon some pictures I took of my son Anthony and I’s trip to Lexington, Kentucky in 2015 for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. We were there to see American Pharoah win the very first Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.
As a part of this trip, we took horse farm tours that I highly recommend to anyone visiting Lexington. I was saddened when I saw this picture of Holy Bull (shown below) that I took on my tour. Holy Bull passed away in 2017 at the ripe old age of 26. He loved visitors to his stable and he seemed to know that he was still sort of a big deal.
Now onto the mian point of this article, the crazy money in horse racing. As many of my readers already know from some of my previous blogs and articles on US Racing, I have been real critical of the foolish money thrown around for unproven yearlings and 2 year-olds. Millions of dollars are spent every year in these auctions.
Everyone thinks they have done their homework and are bidding on the next Kentucky Derby winner based on its pedigree, physical characteristics and demeanor during auction presentation.
I am used to seeing classic cars sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars and I understand that mostly. But some of these young horses fetch over seven figures in auctions. Yes that is right. One million dollars for totally unproven yearlings. Perhaps the best example of this is the American Pharoah filly who went for $8.2 million dollars last month in the Keeneland September Sale last month. See: https://www.wave3.com/2019/09/11/american-pharoah-filly-sells-record-million/
Here is a good story. One of the tours took us to the same farm and horse stable where Zenyatta was born and raised. At this stable, the opportunistic photographer in me took the picture below of one of the stalls that housed a weanling. From memory, this was the same stall where Zenyatta was born. I had hoped to potentially capture greatness in its infancy.
When reviewing this picture, I decided to research and see what became of this unnamed weanling, born 3/19/2015, whose sire was Bernardini and whose dam was Zardana.
This weanling from Bernadini and Zardana was sold for $520,000 under the name Dominant Strategy in the same 2016 Keeneland Yearling September Sale as Justify. Justify was sold for $20,000 less at an even $500,000 See Hip 149 and Hip 50 in the auction results linked here: https://www.bloodhorse.com/…/keeneland-2016-september-yearl…
Justify was the 13th Triple Crown Champion.
Dominant Strategy won two turf claiming races at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown http://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm…
This is why I cringe when I see a million dollars spent on a yearling or a 2 year-old. It’s always a crapshoot.
Here is what recent Kentucky Derby winners sold for in auctions. I excluded this year’s Derby winner because it was debacle:
I have always felt that one of my most untapped talents would be budget racehorse buying in auctions. I can’t save you hundreds of dollars on your auto insurance. But I feel that I could justify (no pun intended) a six figure salary identifying bargains.
With all the foolish dollars spent in horse racing, why don’t they have capologists like they do in professional sports? The capologist’s job is to maintain a budget and not overpay for free agents. And how long will it be before someone develops a software program and database used for prospective horse buyers that analyzes the future earning potential of every horse up for auction?
With all the crazy money spent in horse racing, if they don’t already have some of these concepts already, it won’t be long.
July 1st 2019
I just posted the 2nd part of my feature article for tomorrow’s Palio di Siena on my Cox Sportsnet website. The article can be accessed by clicking on the Hyperlink below:
The first leg is set for tomorrow July 2nd at 7:30 PM local time which, for North American audiences, would be 1:30 PM EST, 12:30 PM CST, 11:30 AM MST and 10:30 AM PST.
June 26th 2019
I published a new article on my Cox Sportsnet website which can be accessed by clicking on the Hyperlink below:
The first leg is set for July 2nd at 7:30 PM local time which would be 1:30 PM EST, 12:30 PM CST, 11:30 AM MST and 10:30 AM PST.
June 5th 2019
My 2019 Belmont Stakes Preview can be accessed on my new website at Cox Sportsnet.
You can access the article by clicking on this hyperlink: https://coxsportsnet.com/2019/06/05/2019-belmont-stakes-preview/
June 1st 2019
I’ve posted a new blog article on my recently created Cox Sportsnet website on how to improve and grow the sport of horse racing. The article can be accessed by clicking on the link below
This is a continuation from a series that I started on US Racing last year. Part One can be accessed by clicking here: https://www.usracing.com/news/features/improve-grow-horse-racing
In case any of my readers missed it in previous posts on this site, I’ve decided to move to a multi-sport website format and promote my own websites rather than free-lance for others. I will be transitioning completely over to the new Cox Sportsnet website next year.
I expect to have better content moving forward on a variety of sports on the new website, including feature articles from other authors and writers.
May 16th 2019
Whether you are a fan of horse racing or not, I am sure you have heard by now about the controversial disqualification in the 2019 Kentucky Derby that took a win off the board from Maximum Security. You may ask, why should I care if I am not a horse racing fan? I doubt anyone writing this isn’t a horse racing fan. However, if you love sports in general, you just may reap the rewards of better officiating of all professional sports in the near future due to this controversial decision. I’ll explain.
The owners of Maximum Security are filing a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court seeking to overturn the race stewards’ decision and make Maximum Security the official winner as well as receiving the $1.86 million winner’s share.
Although some believe that this court case will be thrown out, I think the case will be heard. The Kentucky Derby is simply too high-profile of a race, with too much money bet on it, for this case to not to be heard. Even President Trump tweeted his disdain over the disqualification. Not hearing the case would only invite corruption to a sport that had issues in the past with doping and organized crime affecting race outcomes. Bettors are consumers and it is the government’s responsibility to protect consumers.
With sports-betting on the verge of sweeping the country after New Jersey won a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court last year, a bad call or disqualification just doesn’t affect Vegas vacationers, it is going to affect many more Americans in the future.
The public needs to be protected from fraud. As sports-betting grows, there is going to be more upward pressure to “get it right” because professional sporting events will be viewed as more than just entertainment. We may already be there at this point now when you consider the recent FBI probe into college basketball.
This is why this court case may actually be a very good thing for the fans and athletes in all sports. If Maximum Security’s ownership group wins their court case, the next step will be refunding money to all those who had placed bets on Maximum Security. It may take a class action lawsuit, but bettors will get their money back if Maximum Security’s win is restored.
This will force professional sports leagues to improve officiating out of fear of future lawsuits. Yes, that includes the NFL which is still reeling from the controversial non-call in the Saints-Rams NFC Championship game. The New Orleans Saints most likely win that game and advance to the Super Bowl if Pass Interference had been called by the referee who standing in plain view of the incident.
And the NHL for those who watched last night’s Sharks-Blues game. The San Jose Sharks were the Game 7 beneficiary of a bad call in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs vs the Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL even apologized to the Vegas Golden Knights and their fanbase over the 5 minute Major penalty for Cross-Checking that should have been a 2 minute minor at most. And now last night’s game (see video below). How the NHL can review goals to see if the play was offsides but can’t review a goal scored via an illegal hand pass (that the refs missed) is beyond me.
Interesting and timely, Fan Duel Sportsbook has refunded all Moneyline bets made on St Louis over this controversial finish. See https://sports.yahoo.com/news/gambling-site-makes-honourable-move-after-blown-call-in-sharks-blues-game-3-175822562.html
It may force the sport of horse racing to require Race Stewards to have actual experience as a jockey and not just as an exercise rider who attends a school to be a Race Steward.
Overall, I expect to see more video review and better officiating in all sports if Maximum Security’s ownership group successfully wins their court case. The technology is certainly there and a landmark ruling could set a precedent for similar sports related court cases in the future.
For professional sports leagues, there would be too much to lose other than integrity and some television ratings if poor officiating alters outcomes and generates court cases and lawsuits.
For this reason, we all should hope that Maximum Security’s owners win their case and his Derby win restored.
Please visit my new multi-sport website: https://coxsportsnet.com/
his win his Derby win is restored.
May 16th 2019 – Updated May 18th 2019 5:46 PM EST
As I delve into handicapping this year’s Preakness Stakes, my level of excitement has grown. With no Country House or Maximum Security entered in the field, many viewers won’t tune in to watch this Saturday. Not tuning in, I think will be a big mistake. This year’s Preakness Stakes is wide-open. I think this is going to be a really exciting race and a good one for bettors with no short price favorite.
Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for this Saturday’s 144th running of the Preakness Stakes.
The Preakness Stakes – 9 1/2 furlongs. Race #13 at Pimlico. Post-time: 6:48 PM EST. Televised by NBC.
1) War of Will (4/1) – The Risen Star Stakes winner originally started off as a turf horse with little success before switching to dirt. The change worked well for the Mark Casse-trained colt as he reeled off three straight wins. War of Will generally likes to get out towards the front which will bode well in the Preakness Stakes.
Career: 9 Starts 3-1-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st-->9th–>7th
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 96 – 2019 Risen Star Stakes
2) Bourbon War (12/1) – The Tapit colt finished 4th in the Florida Derby. His most impressive performance came in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (shown below) where he unleashed a late charge to finish second.
Career: 5 Starts 2-1-0-2 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st-->2nd–>4th
Trainer: Mark Hennig
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Remsen Stakes
3) Warrior’s Charge (12/1) – The Brad Cox-trained colt has never raced in a graded stakes race. So, I don’t understand the 12-1 morning line odds even if two-time Preakness Stakes winning jockey Javier Castellano is on board.
areer: 5 Starts 2-0-3-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2006 and 2017 Preakness Stakes Winning Jockey)
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 Lexington Stakes
4) Improbable (5/2) – The Bob Baffert-trained colt is a consistent runner, never finishing below 4th in his six career starts. The Los Alamitos Futurity winner had some issues loading into the gate in the Arkansas Derby. He finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby after a poor start out of the gate. Note that Improbable ran as fast as Maximum Security after the bad start. He gets Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith for this race, so I am confident he will be the live race favorite come post-time.
Career: 6 Starts 3-2-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>4th
Sire: City Zip‘
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015 & 2018 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1993 & 2018 Preakness Stakes Winning Jockey)
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 100 – 2018 Los Alamitos Futurity
5) Owendale (10/1) – After a disappointing 8th place finish in the Risen Star Stakes, the Brad Cox-trained colt bounced back with an impressive win in the Lexington Stakes winner (shown below).
Career: 8 Starts 3-1-1-2 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>8th–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 Lexington Stakes
6) Market King (30/1) – He’s 30-1, and the only reason why he’s not 50-1, is due to his Hall of Fame trainer. D. Wayne Lukas who has won six Preakness Stakes races. This colt has never produced a Brisnet Speed Figure over 90 in eight career starts.
Career: 8 Starts 1-1-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>11th
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas (1980, 1985, 1994, 1995, 1999 & 2013 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Jon Court
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 88 – 2019 Rebel Stakes
7) Alwaysmining (8/1) – The Frederico Tesio Stakes winner (shown below) is the most experienced horse in the field. The Frederico Tesio Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Preakness Stakes but hasn’t produced a winner for the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown since 1983 with Deputed Testamony.
Career: 12 Starts 7-0-1-2 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Stay Thirsty
Trainer: Kelly Rubley
Jockey: Daniel Centeno
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 Frederico Tesio Stakes (Black Type)
8) Signalman (30/1) – The 2018 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner (shown below). He finished 3rd in his last start, the Blue Grass Stakes. This is a quality colt, who you may remember, finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. I had hoped that he would find his way into this year’s Kentucky Derby. I felt he could have been a Derby sleeper since he had run so well before at Churchill Downs. So, 30/1 seems too long to me here but I am not sure the Pimlico track fits his running style.
Career: 7 Starts 2-2-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>7th–>3rd
Sire: General Quarters (Finished 9th in the 2009 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Kenneth McPeek
Jockey: Brian Hernandez
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
9) Bodexpress (20/1) – The son of Bodemeister. Bodemeister finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2012. A nice pedigree but Bodexpress has failed to break his maiden in 7 career starts. He did run well in the Florida Derby (shown below) with a 2nd place finish behind Maximum Security.
Career: 7 Starts 0-3-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>13th
Sire: Bodemeister (Finished 2nd in the 2012 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Jockey: John Velazquez
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Florida Derby
10) Everfast (50/1) – The Dale Romans-trained colt finished 2nd in the Holy Bull Stakes (shown below) but really hasn’t done much since. A very appropriate longshot in this field but I think 50-1 is a bit too long given the trainer and the rider.
Career: 10 Starts 1-1-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>9th–>5th
Sire: Take Charge Indy (Finished 19th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 94 – 2019 Holy Bull Stakes
11) Laughing Fox (20/1) – The Steve Asmussen-trained colt is coming off a win in the Oaklawn Park Invitational. He finished 4th in the sloppy Arkansas Derby. Asmussen has won the Preakness Stakes twice. This colt’s form is improving, just wish that he had drawn an inside post.
Career: 7 Starts 3-0-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 7th–>4th–>1st
Sire: Union Rags
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 & 2009 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 96 – 2019 Oaklawn Park Invitational (Black Type)
12) Anothertwistafate (6/1) – The runner-up in the Sunland Park Derby and the Lexington Stakes. His best performance came on an all-weather surface at Golden Gate in the El Camino Real Derby (shown below). This colt has speed and the Pimlico track and Preakness race distance does fit his running style. He probably won’t win this Saturday but consider him in all your exotic bets.
Career: 6 Starts 3-2-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Blaine Wright
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 99 – 2019 El Camino Real Derby
13) Win Win Win (15/1) – After winning Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in January, Win Win Win followed up this effort with a 3rd place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby, a 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes and a 9th place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Career: 7 Starts 3-2-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>9th
Sire: Hat Trick
Trainer: Michael Trombetta
Jockey: Julian Pimentel
Career Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 101 – 2019 Pasco Stakes (Black Type)
The Pimlico straight is 80 feet shorter than Churchill Downs and the Preakness is 1/2 furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby. The turns at Pimlico have less banking, so it is more difficult for horses to accelerate through the turns. All of this works against deep closers. It benefits early speed types and inside runners. So I would think you would want a horse that gets out towards the front early and makes his move early.
The Preakness exotic bets usually don’t pay out well unless longshots finish in the top 3 or the race favorite gets beat. Just like the Kentucky Derby was 2 weeks ago, this race seems pretty wide-open. So I am expecting that the exotic bets will pay out much better than it did last year with no short price favorite like we had with Justify.
My Preakness Stakes pick for tomorrow is Improbable. This is no “lock” by any stretch of the imagination with his previous gate issues. But if I am going to pick a favorite, I am going with a horse that has proven to be nearly as fast as Omaha Beach and was faster than Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby after his bad start.
At the 1/4th mark, of the Kentucky Derby, Improbable was 4 3/4 lengths behind but he finished 3 1/4 lengths behind. That is making up 1 1/2 lengths. He will get Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith who is good at getting the most out of his mount and being able to calm a high-strung horse.
Plus Improbable is trained by Bob Baffert who has won seven Preakness Stakes. Jockey Mike Smith has won two.
Improbable also has a decent post-position (#4). The Preakness favors inside runners who get out to the front early. This bodes well for Improbable, Warrior’s Charge, Alwaysmining and War of Will.
This field is wide-open and if I am betting on it, I have to key who I feel is the fastest horse in the field. You can have a paralysis of analysis trying to handicap this race. You’ve got to put “the baby to bed” at some point as they say. If I am going down with the ship, I’ve got to go down with the best trainer, best jockey and fastest horse in the field.
So, I am playing a win bet on Improbable and a some 10 cent Superfectas keying Improbable with the following combination:
4, over 1,3,5,7, over 1,3,5,7,12 over 1,3,5,7,9,12
I wouldn’t recommend betting huge amounts on this race. I am steering away from Exactas and Trifectas because I feel Superfecta are the better exotic bet for this race.
I will keep updating this clear up until post-time if I like anything else.
Stay tuned! And please visit my new multi-sport website: https://coxsportsnet.com/