2017 Penn Derby Preview


September 21st 2017 – Updated September 23rd 4:30

Coming up this Saturday is highly anticipated Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. Although not a “Win and You’re In” Challenge race, the Penn Derby is an important Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds that carries a $1 Million dollar purse.

With no clear-cut favorite for the Eclipse 3 Year Old Male Champion award, perhaps this race will help sort things out. A win by West Coast could propel him to the top of this 3-year-old class.

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Pennsylvania Derby – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #11 at Parx – Post-Time: Saturday September 23rd 4:45 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Timeline (122) – Castellano/Brown – 5/1
2. Outplay (119) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 12/1
3. Watch Me Whip (117) – Albarado/Romans – 20/1
4. West Coast (124) – Smith/Baffert – 8/5
5. Irap (122) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 3/1
6. Talk Logistics (117) – Pennington/Plesa – 20/1
7. Game Over (117) – Carmouche/Navarro – 15/1
8. Irish War Cry (122) – Lynch/Motion – 9/2
9. Term of Art (117) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20/1
10. Giuseppe the Great (117) – Saez/Zito – 20/1

Race Commentary:  Bob Baffert’s West Coast is the horse to beat in this field. That being said, strange things sometimes happen in the Penn Derby. For example, last year when the Chad Brown-trained Connect at 10/1 odds upset the race favorite Nyquist. For this reason, I like Chad Brown’s Timeline in a 1-4-5 Boxed Trifecta (Timeline-West Coast-Irap). 

If you like to play longshots, Todd Pletcher’s Outplay at 12/1 is probably the best longshot with any glimmer of hope at winning. Outplay was a recent winner at this same 9 furlong distance in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga and he has won at Parx before.

For exotics, I would key West Coast to win over, Timeline, Irish War Cry, Irap and Outplay in some 10 cent supers. That is 4 over 1,2,5,8 over 1,2,5,8 over 1,2,5,8.

Early Favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby Trail

I recently wrote an article for US racing profiling my three current favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail: Bolt d’Oro, Copper Bullet and St Patrick’s Day. The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.

My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com





2017 Travers Stakes Preview


August 22nd 2017 – Updated August 26th 4:38 PM CST

The 148th running of 2017 Travers Stakes has the most competitive field of 3-year-olds that we have seen all year. Entries include the Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, the Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing, the Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit and the Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Girvin.

The Travers Stakes is a Grade 1 Stakes race that carries a $1.25 Million dollar purse. It’s not a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic but might as well be as the race winner will probably be viewed as the leading 3-year-old in North America entering the Classic.

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockeys and morning-line odds:

The 148th Travers Stakes

1 1/4th Mile – Race #11 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday August 26th 4:44 PM CST. Televised by NBC

1. Cloud Computing – Castellano/Brown – 8/1
2. Giuseppe the Great – Gafflione/Zito – 20/1
3. West Coast – Smith/Baffert – 4/1
4. Tapwrit – J. Ortiz/Pletcher – 7/2
5. Good Samaritan – Rosario/Mott – 5/1
6. Girvin – Albarado/Sharp – 10/1
7. Always Dreaming – Velazquez/Pletcher – 6/1
8. Lookin At Lee – Santana Jr./Asmussen – 30/1
9. McCraken – Hernandez Jr./Wilkes – 12/1
10. Irap – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 8/1
11. Gunnevera – Zayas/Sano – 20/1
12. Fayeq – Saez/McLaughlin – 30/1

Race Analysis: This race is wide-open. There are about six or seven horses in this field that I would not be surprised at all if they won. Right now, I like about three horses for the win: West Coast, Good Samaritan and Gunnevera. So I may try a 10 cent superfecta keying those three horses over 3 others which would cost $18. 

Girvin is one horse I am sure that I would include underneath because he has shown me a willingness to battle. I also like a rested Tapwrit’s possibility of hitting the board. And Always Dreaming has proven that he has won at the 10 furlong distance and he usually puts himself in striking distance. The question will be, will Always Dreaming  fade out like he did in the Jim Dandy?

Last year, when Arrogate won the Travers in a 14 horse field at 11.7 to 1 final odds and race favorite Exaggerator finished out of the money, a 10 cent superfecta paid out $1,045.60. It’s not likely to pay as much this year with a 12 horse field even if a longshot wins. But if Gunnevera or some other longer shot wins, it should still pay out nice.

I am really warming up to Gunnevera in my exotics because I loved his last start in the Tangelo Stakes at Gulfstream Park (shown below). It was nearly 3 weeks ago, so a tune-up for the Travers. Yes, it was against a weak field but he absolutely smoked this field in the final 2 1/2 furlongs. I calculated his final 2 1/2 furlong speed at 38.08 mph. He’s a closer but he had no early speed to run at in this race to aid his closing style.

Betting Advice: When bettingI prefer races where I feel that there are one or two clear favorites from my research and this isn’t one of them. I don’t think this is a great betting race for Win bets and Exacta bets, it’s just too unpredictable.

However, there will be a lot of money plunked down on this race and there is money that can be made. I normally don’t like Superfecta bets as they are too hard to hit. I can usually hit three out of four horses but one horse usually surprises me. That being said, a superfecta bet appears to be the way to go for this race. Over the last ten years, a 10 cent superfecta in the Travers, on average, paid out between $450-$500.

So I am going with a smaller outlay/big reward approach. I am going to place a 10 cent Superfecta keying 3 horses to win: West Coast, Good Samaritan and Gunnevera. So 3,5,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11. This 10 cent super will cost $36. If it hits, you should cover your bet at the minimum for a potential $1000 payback if a longer odds horse like Gunnevera wins. If it doesn’t, well it’s just $36 lost–nothing to cry about.

Final Update: I see nothing new to wager on but I am liking how the odds are shaking out thus far. My superfecta bet above was edited, earlier edit didn’t take. 3,5,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11. This 10 cent super will cost $36.

On the Docket…

My next blog will be updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings. I decided that the Travers Stakes deserved more attention, so I decided to wait until after the Travers to post my next updated Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings. A big hint, it won’t have Arrogate #1.

My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com


A Preakness Stakes Rematch: Always Dreaming vs Cloud Computing

July 29th 2017

The Jim Dandy Stakes will provide an interesting rematch of Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing from the Preakness Stakes. From a betting perspective, I don’t like the this race. A small field, the best horses coming off significant layoffs. I think Always Dreaming wins. However, if he and Cloud Computing lock into an early battle, it provides a closer a great opportunity to steal a win. I am not sure that any of the other three horses will have the closing ability to pull this off.

Pavel is making his second start after a maiden win in a sprint race. Good Samaritan has primarily ran on turf and synthetic surfaces and he is making is his first start on dirt. Giuseppe the Great has never won a graded stakes race or raced beyond one mile.

For me, this is just a good race to watch and it will be televised live by Fox Sport 2. Live coverage begins 5 pm EST/4 pm CST.

Jim Dandy Stakes

The Jim Dandy Stakes  – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #10 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday July 29th at 5:18 PM CST.

1. Always Dreaming – Velazquez/Pletcher – 1/1 
2. Cloud Computing – Ortiz Jr/Brown – 6/5
3. Giuseppe the Great – Saez/Zito – 10/1
4. Pavel – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 6/1
5. Good Samaritan – Rosario/Mott – 12/1

Haskell Invitational Preview

Tomorrow, I will preview the Haskell Invitational. I should have this out early in the morning.