Tag Archives: Saratoga Race Course

Guest interview on Youbet On-Track

At about 3:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon, I got a message from superstar freelancer Claire Novak asking to appear on her podcast, Youbet On-Track, later that night to break down the late Pick 4 at Saratoga. At 5 p.m., I had to be in line for a cage fight.

This led to one of the most furiously-paced ventures of my handicapping career, as I examined four races from a circuit I have barely followed amidst a crowd of people clamoring to see two guys beat the hell out of each other. Plus, I had to make it sound like I knew what I was talking about to a worldwide audience.

Good thing I work well under pressure.

I managed to decipher the races to the best of my ability, took copious notes, and waited cageside for the call to come in. Shortly after the conclusion of one of the undercard bouts, my phone buzzed and I shuffled off to a quiet spot far from the heavy metal music that could be heard from blocks away.

The interview went very well. Claire and I shared stories of Mount Pleasant Meadows with co-host/producer Joe DePaolo and I gave a brief rundown on the state of racing in Michigan. Then we looked at Rachel Alexandra’s campaign leading into Sunday’s Personal Ensign Stakes and examined her chief competitors in the race. After that, I gave my picks and analysis for the remainder of the Pick 4.

Fortunately, I was at the MTOBA Yearling Sale (which I managed to sneak in a plug on the podcast) most of Sunday, so I did not get the opportunity to back up my predictions at the windows. My Pick 4 ticket was cooked by the second race, and I ended up going one for four and losing a pair of heartbreakers in the final two legs.

My shoddy handicapping aside, getting the chance to chat on the air with Claire and Joe was a fantastic time and I am grateful that they gave me the opportunity to do so. I’d be happy for the opportunity to redeem myself in the Handicapper’s Corner anytime – even if it means missing a fight or two.

To listen to my interview on Youbet On-Track with Claire Novak and Joe DePaolo, click here.

To listen to more podcasts with Claire and Joe, click here.

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Sanford Stakes preview for Thorofan

Once again, I have been called into service to handicap one of the weekend’s feature races for horse racing fan site Thorofan.com.

Currently, my record stands at a perfect two-for-two in picking the winner of my assigned race for Thorofan’s Handicapper’s Corner, including 19.90-to-one shot Exhi in the Lexington Stakes (I’m going to brag about that one for a long time). This time around, my mission was to break down Sunday’s Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

The Sanford is one of the first graded stakes tests in the country for two-year-olds, so I did not have much to go by in terms of on-track performance. The only horse in the field I had any real prior knowledge on was Kentucky Juvenile winner Lou Brissie. In all honesty, when it comes to two-year-olds, I’m probably a more useful handicapper with Quarter Horses.

With that said, the Sanford should be an entertaining race and I look forward to seeing if I can keep my run of good fortune going on Sunday.

To see my analysis of the Sanford on Thorofan, click here.

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Filed under Stakes Races

My racetrack wish list

With the snow beginning to melt and warm weather slowly starting to find its way into the forecast, my itch to hit the road is beginning to return once again.

Plans are in the works for a trip to Keeneland Race Course in April, so that will ease my road trip jones for the immediate future. However, one of my goals for 2010 is to add some length to the list of tracks I have visited.

Below is a list of ten tracks I would like to cross off my list sometime in the future. Some of them are very plausible to hit in the coming year, while others are more likely to be long-term projects. The tracks range from tiny harness and Quarter Horse bullrings to the host of the last two Breeders’ Cups, so there is plenty of variety. Some of my selections may appear less than ambitious, but there is a reason for each, and any of them would be a huge “get” for my list.

Before we get too deep into this, the premise for this post was lifted from a great post on Equispace. A little while back, Thoroughbred Times News Editor Ed DeRosa also listed some of the tracks he has yet to cross off his impressive list.

The top ten tracks are listed in alphabetical order, followed by some honorable mentions. Let’s have a look…

Ajax Downs
I only became aware of this small Ontario track early last year, but from the sounds of it, I was missing out. Before getting approved for slots, Ajax Downs was a quirky, little Quarter Horse track that ran for tiny purses and was shaped like a “J”. Cindy Pierson-Dulay of Horse-Races.net described the track as “a 440-yard straightaway ending in a sharp right hand turn for the runout.” Since the slots, the track has remodeled into a five furlong oval and boosted its purse structure enough to draw the attention of some Mount Pleasant Meadows-based horsemen. If anything else, the track’s website is among the most impressive and comprehensive I have seen from a track of any size.

Bluegrass Downs
Where, you ask? In a past life, the Paducah, Kentucky track was a popular destination for horses and people from Mount Pleasant Meadows. Today, Bluegrass Downs is a standardbred-exclusive track. Harness racing isn’t exactly my bag, but from the description of racetrack bucket-lister McChump, the track’s too-small-for-its-own-good atmosphere is right up my alley.

The remaining tracks on my wish list can be found behind the jump. Did your home track make the list? Click the link below to find out.

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The Haiku Handicapper: Woodward Stakes recap, etc.

Rachel spurns late charge
Start engraving her Eclipse
A legend confirmed

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And for those of you curious about Mrs. Murphy’s start last Thursday at Presque Isle Downs…

Broke with the lead pack
Going backward by stretch drive
A well-beaten sixth

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The Haiku Handicapper: 2009 Woodward Stakes

Triumphant return
Key race for Horse of the Year
Rachel draws the crowds

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#1 – Da’Tara
A one-hit wonder
Belmont and a cloud of dust
The entry’s weak link

#1A – Cool Coal Man
Great in overnights
So-so in graded races
Not expecting much

#2 – Bullsbay
Whitney’s big winner
Rebounded from weak summer
Should be in the hunt

#3 – Rachel Alexandra
Ambitious campaign
Weight advantage helps her cause
What’s left in her tank?

#4 – Macho Again
Streaky, but rising
Excels with Albarado
Looking for a dip

#5 – It’s a Bird
Took meds, got DQ’d
Tough to beat with Leparoux
He might give good odds.

#6 – Asiatic Boy
A Dubai mainstay
Respectable since move west
Needs a big effort

#7 – Past the Point
Last year’s runner-up
Steps up his game at the Spa
Right horse for the course?

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Who burns the Woodward?
The filly makes history
Two, seven, the rest

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