By Noel Michaels Saturday’s loaded 11-race card at Churchill Downs is headlined by a $500,000 guaranteed-pool Pick 5, which starts in Race 7 and is bookended by the two stakes races on the card, the Winning Colors (G3) and Race 11, the Mint Julep (G3). Here is a closer look at handicapping Churchill’s late Pick 5 on Saturday. RACE 7 The Pick 5 sequence starts out with the co-featured Winning Colors Stakes, and there appear to be three standouts, #2 Break Even (9-5), #7 Spiced Perfection (7-2), and #8 Mia Mischief. It’s hard to go against Break Even, who has won seven of nine career
By Margaret Ransom The Honeymoon Stakes (G3T), which will be contested for the 69th time on Saturday at Santa Anita, is another Hollywood Park transplant that carries some significant history. The grassy test, which has in recent years served as a prep for the American Oaks but now stands on its own as a significant stop for sophomore fillies who prefer the turf and don’t point toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Names like Turkish Trousers, Antespend, Megahertz, Evening Jewel and Lady Prancealot a year ago are some of the names who have won this now nine-furlong turf test (it’s been
By Richard Rosenblatt Just over a year ago, trainer Brendan Walsh returned to Dubai and looked on with pride as his promising 3-year-old Plus Que Parfait won the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2) to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1). A few months later, the Irishman gave a leg up to jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., on Plus Que Parfait and experienced his first Run for the Roses. His horse, sent off at 57-1, got as close as fifth with a quarter-mile to go, but faded to ninth and was elevated to eighth after first-place finisher Maximum Security was
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By Noel Michaels With sports virtually shut down throughout the months of April and May, horse racing has continued to flourish as basically the only game in town, albeit with no fans. What the sport has lost in terms of spectators at places such as Oaklawn Park and Gulfstream Park, and currently at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita, it has more than made up for in terms of handle (the amount of money wagered on races), which is continuing to go through the roof. Thanks in part to its status as the only game in town, demand for horse racing
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By Ray Wallin Whether you are a casual horseplayer or you make your living playing the races, we’ve all been there. At some point you were a beginner horseplayer too. Some of us were more fortunate than others to have someone introduce us the sport and to help us understand the wagering and handicapping sides of the game. I had my Uncle Dutch who gave me a great foundation to become the handicapper I am today during that misspent summer on the apron of the Monmouth Park grandstand. Many people aren’t so lucky. Going to the track without understanding how
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By Ed McNamara Change can be stressful and disorienting, so we dislike it. More than most sports, horse racing loves retracing its steps, especially along the revered Triple Crown trail. Yet in this year of the pandemic, it had to find another way. For the first time, the Belmont Stakes will come before the Kentucky Derby — 11 weeks before. There was no way to fit a 1½-mile race into the scrambled 3-year-old calendar, so it will be run at 1 1/8 miles on June 20. Good move. “Because of the way the race is now positioned, that’s the right
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By Richard Rosenblatt Raging Bull came charging down the stretch and blew past the leaders for his first victory in more than 20 months, capturing the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Monday to earn an automatic berth in the Breeder’s Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland on Nov. 6. Trained by Chad Brown (of course), the 5-year-old bred in France was making his first start since running third in the Woodbine Mile Stakes (G1) back on Sept. 14, 2019. The Peter Brant-owned horse was 0-for-5 – all in Grade 1 races – coming into the Shoemaker Mile, but
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By Maryjean Wall I’m certain you’ll hear a lot more horse talk in the clouds now, following the recent death of Preston Madden, owner of Hamburg Place and breeder of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Alysheba. Imagine him catching up in heaven with his grandfather, John E. Madden, who died in 1929. John Madden, notorious two-fisted gambler and founder of Hamburg Place in 1898, was called the Wizard of the Turf. He was responsible for six Kentucky Derby and five Belmont Stakes winners. “Presto,” the old Wizard might have said upon greeting his grandson from his own puffy cloud, “I’ve
By Margaret Ransom A field of 11 is set for the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Monday, including last year’s Preakness (G1) winner War of Will, who hasn’t raced since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) nearly seven months ago. The son of War Front joined stablemate March to the Arch and Chad Brown trainees Raging Bull and Without Parole, and a few others, on the Tex Sutton plane bound for California earlier this week and all will be part of a talent-filled field for Memorial Day feature. The Shoemaker Mile is the first
By Richard Rosenblatt Here we go Maxfield! In his first start in more than seven months, Maxfield made a wide move around the final turn and overtook the leaders in deep stretch to win the $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The 3-year-old son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense is now undefeated in three starts. He was sidelined with an ankle injury that kept him out of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Trained by Brendan Walsh, the Godolphin-owned colt was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the 1 1-16-mile Derby qualifier, and earned
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