Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Golden Saturday

The Golden Ticket

The Great Race Place will host the second of the Win and Your In free trips to the 2014 Breeders’ Cup. The Santa Anita Gold Cup will be run Saturday at Santa Anita Park. Game on Dude will take to the dirt for a chance at the Gold Cup trifecta. Mike Smith again will get the mount for Baffert. The Dude certainly is the elder statesman of the group, but Fury Kapcori and Clubhouse Ride with leading rider Joe Talamo will be pressing him from the start. We will see if the Dude still has the class. Fury Kapcori is a Santa Anita regular, and winner. All starts in 2014 have been at Santa Anita and he has four trips to the winner’s circle and one second on his home track. Clubhouse Ride won the Gr. 2 Californian on May 31 but that was the best he could do, most of his finishes have been to show. Imperative has not run since his victory in the Charles Town Classic. In Gr. 1 company at Santa Anita, however, Imperative has finished a disappointing seventh but he’s coming off a lay off with nice works and should be ready to fire. Superman Desormeaux could pull the upset on Game on Dude again, and this time on the Dude’s home track. The curious entry is the Chilean horse in the Puype barn, Salto Del Indio. Even though he has no U.S. starts in 2014, this horse is a force in his native Chile and has been handling the California dirt in impressive fashion.

As much as I love to bet against Gary Stevens, Fury Kapcori is a just too good for even Stevens to screw this up. I’m going to go with the big upset here: the Chilean goes to the Breeders’ Cup.

A quick note on Race 7, Gr. 3 Senorita Stakes for 3 year old fillies on the turf. Talamo on the turf is an unbeatable combination, but so is Nakatani on Sushi Empire. Nakatani in this one over Smoking Joe Talamo on Sheza Smoke Show, with the Ireland-bred, Clenor, filling the trifecta. Victor Espinoza has ridden Rovenna to victory on this track and I would put him in a superfecta, simply not to miss out.

Will the real Golden Ticket please stand up?

Prairie Meadows is hosting its Festival of Racing this weekend and on Saturday some very familiar horses will enter the paddock at Altoona, Iowa. Race 7 on Saturday is the Gr. 3 Iowa Oaks for 3 year old fillies going one and one sixteenth miles. Sugar Shock, Thankyou Marylou and Ria Antonia are the obvious class of the group having competed in the Kentucky Oaks, and of course, Ria Antonia’s heartbreaking 10th in the Preakness. I would like her to win because I’m tired of watching her get pushed around. I’ve been following Sugar Shock (Candy Ride) since Oaklawn, and was hoping for better from her in the Kentucky Oaks. Sugar Shock is the only horse in the field to have won at Prairie Meadows, just recently winning the Panther Stakes on May 31. Thankyou Marylou at least finished 5th in the Kentucky Oaks, but has a pretty forgettable 2014 campaign thus far. Ria Antonia has been at four different tracks between February 22 and May 17, 2014. Three of the four races were grueling Grade 1 races: Santa Anita Oaks, Kentucky Oaks and the Preakness. The ship to Prairie Meadows will be her fifth race track in four months. All of this leads me to the Bill Mott horse entered here: Size. Three starts and three times in the money. Fresh legs versus Ria’s tired legs.  Sugar Shock, Ria, Marylou and Size.

Race 8 is the Iowa Derby. Even though it’s a Gr. 3 race, Embellishing Bob, Russellin, Six Spot, Smack Smack, Charge Now, Jessica’s Star, I Got It All, Vicar’s in Trouble and Tairneach all show up. Vicar’s in Trouble and Embellishing Bob should handle this group nicely. That’s all.

Race 9 at Prairie Meadows is the Cornhusker Handicap. And, yes, there it is, the real Golden Ticket. When Golden Ticket finished behind Goldensents at the Breeders’ Cup last November, I certainly took notice. It seems the 2014 campaign is starting to catch a little momentum, even though he is coming off a 5th place finish in the Foster at Churchill Downs. Ground Transport, son of Big Brown, has two recent stakes wins under his saddle but he’s coming off a graded 5th place finish. Ricardo Santana, Jr. has had a wild ride so far in 2014 – finishing a stellar meet at Oaklawn and guiding Tapiture in the Derby. The young rider comes to Prairie Meadows for a piece of $300,000 purse with Right to Vote who is 3 of 5 in the money for 2014, and won the Rasmussen Memorial Stakes at Prairie Meadows on May 26. My superfecta in this race would be Right to Vote, Ground Transport, Golden Ticket, and Carve.

However, a Pick 3 for Races 7, 8, 9 is available and very enticing!

 The Golden Goose

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” – Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes/If Wishes Were Horses

The Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday provides us with the much-anticipated return of Untapable. This daughter of Tapit has a morning line of 1/5. There’s no doubt that Untapable will win this race, nor that Stopcharginmaria will be charging at the end. In fact, there is one horse here that may give them all a Grimm-type tale instead. This horse’s jockey is not one to ever be considered a villain, nor one to boast about an upset victory. He did, however, become the “expected spoiler” of the long-awaited end to the Triple Crown drought: Joel Rosario. Even though Rosario showed class in the post-race interview being humble and gracious when speaking of beating California Chrome, he did his homework and knew exactly what he needed to do to beat the Cal-bred. Rosario will have his homework assignment entitled “Untapable” complete and in good form come Saturday too. Rosario is one of the top riders at Belmont. His top 3 percentage is 51%. He rides at Belmont every day. Home track advantage and House Rules. Never bet against the House.

Regardless, Untapable still wins. She’s the Jimmy John’s of 3 year olds: Freaky Fast. Freaky Good.


Canterbury Park’s Father’s Day Stakes


I have been accused of not knowing how to appreciate a good steak, but let me say that is a complete fabrication. I do indeed love to sink my teeth into a good stake.

I will certainly cut into Churchill Downs very appetizing card today but my home track, Canterbury Park, has a couple good ones scheduled for Sunday, and some well-known trainers will be taking advantage of the competitive field. I’m thrilled to see names like Amoss, Ward, Maker, Harty, Desormeaux and, of course, Ramsey on the card.

Race 8 is the $75,000 Dark Star for three year olds and up going six and one half furlongs on the Canterbury main track. Sheldon Russell and James Graham take a break from riding duties at Arlington to make a run for the wire. Russell is aboard W.B. Smudge for trainer Grantz and a current early morning line of 10/1. Graham on the other hand is aboard a horse I like in this race, Ghost Is Clear, for Mike Maker.

Other riders coming in to Canterbury on Sunday are Rafael Manuel Hernandez who has been riding at Fairmount in Illinois. He’s on the other horse I like, Card, who draws the #1 post. Card has been in the money 4 out of 6 starts, 3 times in the Winner’s Circle and Rafael Hernandez has been his pilot. Shane Laviolette makes the short drive up to Shakopee from Prairie Meadows to ride the WinStar-bred Bobcat Jim.   Trainer Wes Ward enters a rare non-kitten for the Ramseys, Politicallycorrect, with rider Quincy Hamilton in the irons. The connections have brought both Ghost Is Clear and Politicallycorrect down in price.

Home-track trainer Diodoro has two entered in this race, La Mano Nera with Jorge Carreno and Castletown with Scott Stevens getting the mount.   Diodoro’s barn has been seeing success at Canterbury this summer and when he teams up with Carreno the odds usually come down, but La Mano Nera is 8/1 morning line. I’m going with the other Diodoro horse in this one, the six year-old gelding Castletown.

My long shot pick in this race is Speakfromyourheart who is currently 15/1. This horse ran down Heliskier at Canterbury Park opening weekend and paid me well. I know this horse can run and keep up with the field. Last out, he had the help of Lori Keith but this time he gets Jenna Joubert, another new rider to Canterbury.

Trifecta Box: 7/1/4, best long shot 5

Thirteen fillies will go a mile on the turf in the Northbound Pride Oaks. It’s good to see the stakes races at Canterbury drawing some well-known trainers to the track. In this one, Eoin Harty, Tom Amoss and Keith Desormeaux also enter runners for a slice of the $75,000 purse. Ward didn’t miss out on this one either and this time entered a kitten, High Wire Kitten (7). Quincy Hamilton again gets the mount for the Ramseys. Harty has the riding talents of veteran Scott Stevens on Afsana (1), but is still a ways off the board. I’m guessing that will come down by post time. Most Minnesota racing fans aren’t familiar with Harty horses since he trains and races primarily in California, but by the time Ms. Angela Hermann educates them in her pre-race analysis, the betting public should bring this horse down to about 6/1.

Trainer Desormeaux brings Miss Machiavelli (2) with Dean Butler up. This Miss ran well in 2013 in California, but since shipping to Churchill and Arlington in 2014, has falter, horribly. I’m guessing she likes the Southern California sunshine so I’ll let her be in this race.

Graham, Russell and Laviolette stick around for mounts in the Northbound Pride, but only Russell has a chance in this one on Maria Maria for trainer DiVito. Graham is on the early morning line favorite Stellaris at 9/2, but he’s one that I will bet against. With leading jockey Alex Canchari making an early arrival to the stewards’ doghouse, he won’t be riding in any of the stakes races this weekend. That leaves the door open for the second leading rider at Canterbury, Ry Eikleberry, to take over the top spot. Ry will be getting a leg up on a very good horse for Tom Amoss. Kiss to Remember (12) is the son of Big Brown and owned by Maggi Moss. The connections are golden. Ry will be celebrating his first Father’s Day on Sunday as a new father. He is riding with more confidence this meet than last summer. Ry has two back-to-back riding titles in his book at Sunland Park, and maybe that’s where his confidence is coming from. Or, maybe, it’s not the riding title but the title of “Dad.” Ry is a go-to rider for me this meet, and I’m not gonna miss out on a Kiss to Remember. With the exception of a failed attempt at Presque Isle on May 11, Kiss to Remember trains and races at Fair Grounds. He is 3 out of 5 in the money in career starts. Yes, he’s a shipper. Yes, he doesn’t do well on unfamiliar turf, but at 8/1, I’ll take that!

Trifecta Box: 12/7/1, best long shot: (13) Maria Maria. This daughter of Curlin consistently finishes 4th. She ships over from Arlington which should transfer well to the Canterbury turf, but here she’s running with some horses that have actually had their hooves on grass rather than a man-made surface.

Ghost Dance
Ghost Dance

Another turf race on Sunday’s card is the most interesting of the day. Race 7 has only two horses of the 9 coming in at double-digit odds. Maybe because there’s no Diodoro horses entered in here? Whatever the reason, this mile and one sixteenth should be a good one with a purse of $30,000 on the line. Bryan Porter has Minnesota-bred Ghost Dance. Ghost Dance is a beautiful, nearly white, seven-year old gelding. He won the Blair’s Cove Stakes last year at Canterbury Park with the aforementioned “Stewards Choice” Alex Canchari aboard. He won that race going away, but in this turf race Ghost Dance will have to deal with Alvear, Affirmed Cure, Cavour, Nic a Jack, Angel de Amour, Why Frank, Evansville Runaway and Runandyrun. Not an easy field as they are all evenly matched. Ghost Dance has only run three races outside of the Canterbury gates in his entire career. However, his 2014 debut on May 26 was a disappointing 8th place finish. The younger legs of Angel de Amour, Cavour and Alvear might run him down at this distance.

It’s been raining here all day, and thunderstorms are on radar for tomorrow. I’m praying for safe and secure trips for both horse and rider on Father’s Day 2014.