Monthly Archives: October 2014

Make it a Double

Turf Paradise

The Princess of Palms for fillies and mares going six furlongs will be run Saturday at Turf Paradise. Trainer Valorie Lund saddles two, but Robertino Diodoro has one entry, Rock and Glory, with Scott Stevens in the irons. Rock and Glory has one start this year and that resulted in a 6th place finish in the Paseana Stakes at Santa Anita. However, this horse has been working lights out at Turf Paradise. Even with the help of the vet Stevens, this daughter of Rock Hard Ten is still green and untested.

Maker Or Breaker is morning line 3/1 with Israel Hernandez getting the mount for Dan McFarlane. Maker Or Breaker is a 5-year old mare out of Empire Maker and has more stakes experience than the rest of the field. She finished 4th in the Gr. 3, LA Woman Stakes at Santa Anita on October 4. She has been in four races this year and three of those were stakes races.

Makinmymark and Love Makor are both sired by Makors Mark. The better of the two is Makinmymark trained by Lund, and in the Princess of Palms she’s on the rail – a good spot for jockey Rocco Bowen. Makinmymark finished third in the Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury Park last summer. In fact, she only races at Canterbury and Turf Paradise, hitting the board 3 out of her 4 starts in 2014.

The upset in this race could come on the number 2 horse Gracie Grace. She has been racing at Arapahoe with an outstanding five starts, four in the money past performance. In fact, her only time out of the money was a 5th place finish at Turf Paradise, but she has been putting in good works at this level.

Interesting to note, the number 3 horse is Fightin Mean Mad, and according to the sheet is owned by Jeff Bonde and bred by Richard Ravin and Larry Rivelli, Chicago boys. Interesting connections.

As much as I shower the Diodoro barn and Scott Stevens with kudos, I’m going to put Rock and Glory in the bottom of the trifecta and make it a double in the Princess of Palms and take the bookends: Maker Or Breaker and Makinmymark go 1, 2 in the Palms. If jockey “Is-rail” Hernandez can get Maker Or Breaker from the outside post to the rail without too much traffic, it could his chance at the money.

I’ll play the Pick 3 starting with Race 3, only because I am just learning how to handicap the quarters from watching endless footage from Los Alamitos, so I am not familiar with the Turf Paradise quarters yet.

Diodoro has three in Race 3: Harlan’s Vitesse (Stevens), Causeithertz (Franco) and Megastar (Carreno). I’ve got no problems with 8-year old Megastar, the overwhelming favorite, and it’s possible that Diodoro could sweep the board. (I have a feeling a horse called God of War might have a say in that however.) When it comes to turf riding, I will take Franco over Carreno any day, and when it comes to turf experience I’d take Stevens over them both. But, as much as I would love to see Diodoro sweep the tri, I am hoping that he doesn’t as the payout would be paltry. I’ll take the Brazilian, God of War, to spoil it. So I’ll play a superfecta , just to get a price 2, 4, 1, 6.

In Race 4, I have to go with the favorites and Minnesota jockey Patrick Canchari finds himself on the 9/2 morning line favorite. However, Taras Ruler is a tough horse to beat. He is 5 for 5 in hitting the board, unfortunately that’s in Canada where all he does at Assiniboia is win, win, win. Canada is a long way from Arizona though. I also like the number 8 horse – Airborne Mark. If you put a line through only one race in his 2014 campaign, this horse has either landed in the money or just out of it in 6 of his 9 starts. (4,7,8 tri box – boxing it because Patrick just might pull it off!)

Race 5 – Diodoro/Carreno on World Famous Sam T – no contest. Tribal Smoke will be coming though, so 2, 8 exacta box. I looked at Moses On the Mesa and Majorca Sun, neither will go with World Famous Sam T.

Pick 3: 241/748/28

Race 6: See above re: “Is-Rail” Hernandez. Dan McFarlane‘s Red Constitution has mainly been running with good company on the East Coast at Belmont and Aqueduct. Even with the post position and aforementioned jockey, this 3-year old filly will have a task ahead of her, most likely the push coming from the 6-year old beside her, The Grans. Trainer Lund puts Stevens in the irons and I’m taking notice. This Canterbury runner should enjoy the trip on the turf with her stable mate Bear Facts to her right. Trainer Eikleberry has the favorite in the 6th, a 4-year old filly named Peppy Miller. This filly has hit the board 6 times in 8 starts and races solely in the southwest racing circuits. I can’t tell you how many tickets I’ve had The Grans on, so since they say consistency is a key, I’ll put her on again. (6,2,1)

Race 7 Princess of Palms: See analysis above.

Race 8: I’m gonna bounce around the favorite Cara Has It in this one and stay on the rail with a horse I’m also accustomed to watching, Grazen Cold for trainer McFarlane. Diodoro has the 3-year old filly Nevergetsold, so I’ll take both of them to bump Cara Has It from the board. I’m also looking at the lone Minnesota-bred in here, Jumpin Jenny, who is a morning line 5/1. This 5-year old mare has been racing consistently at Assiniboia, but again, it’s a long way from Canada to Arizona. I’m only looking for the Pick 4 numbers so I’ll go with a tri box 1, 2, 5.

Pick 4: 28/126/167/12 – Yes, I’m hoping for a fast inside post on Saturday.

As I’m looking ahead to the card on Monday at Turf Paradise, I see Dan McFarlane has apprentice-extraordinaire Drayden Van Dyke (aka DVD) on all his horses that day. Kinda changes the way I handicap McFarlane horses when he’s got the hottest young rider in Southern California in the saddle. I’ll be watching to see how the skilled young jock does on one of my favorite McFarlane horses, Mancala, in Race 4 at Turf Paradise on Monday. DVD also is also riding one for Diodoro on Monday as well.

The Sport of Kings … and Queens

Breaking down Belmont

Grade 3 Knickerbocker (Saturday) and Athenia (Sunday). I am hoping for a scratch in both these races because the AE’s are the best horses in both races. Easter Gift should be in the Knickerbocker and Teen Pauline should be in the Athenia.

If Easter Gift doesn’t draw in to the Knickerbocker, trainer Christophe Clement has two entered that could certainly steal the victory from the early favorite Up With the Birds. The six-year old gelding Za Approval has tested racing experience and is familiar with the Belmont track. He will have Luis Saez to guide him. The other Clement entry is the Irish-bred Speaking of Which, who has been consistently Grade 3 tested. In fact, he only has Grade 3 stakes races on his 2014 resume. When Speaking of Which was bumped up to the Grade 2 level in the Monmouth Stakes, he won. The young jockey Manuel Franco will be in the saddle to see what the winner of the Monmouth Stakes can do on the Belmont turf. For the price, I’m heading to the rail … Plainview at morning line 6-1. This son of Street Cry has four starts in 2014 and hit the board three of the four including a third place finish in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at Monmouth at this same distance.

Of note, Castellano on the turf should never be overlooked, but Mshawish has been racing mostly at Meydan. It’s not too often that you see a Todd Pletcher horse at 10-1 morning line. Bet at your own risk.

If Easter Gift gets in, I’ll take him on top. But in the meantime, I’m giving the young jock Franco the win on Speaking of Which.

I won’t look any further than Castellano on the rail in the Athenia on Sunday at Belmont. Overhead is three for three in 2014 starts, and even though La Tia gets the help of Joel Rosario, I believe La Tia prefers the Arlington surface. Again, if the AE, Teen Pauline, gets in she’s on top and the class of the bunch. Regardless, if Irad Ortiz, Jr. doesn’t get in on Teen Pauline he gets the mount on a very good European horse for Clement, Annecdote. This filly has one race on U.S. turf … at Belmont in the Noble Damsel which she won … kicking away from the field in the stretch.

Clement put three in here to assure a chance at hitting the board and getting a piece of the $200,000: Annecdote, Cushion and Maximova. Maximova has put in good works over the Belmont turf but will be making her debut at the stakes level.

Bill Mott has entered Byrama who has the incomparable John Velazquez to guide her on the Belmont turf. Byrama is somewhat of a Belmont Bridesmaid; second in the Noble Damsel, third in the Beugay both Grade 3 races at Belmont this year.

Overheard for the victory in the Athenia, with Annecdote and Byrama underneath.

Keeneland – Dancing Queen

(If you are old enough to remember ABBA, you’ll have that song stuck in your head all day.) But it is true, the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland has Sea Queen, Crown Queen, Daring Dancer and Ball Dancing and all of them are going off at good odds. The obvious favorite in this race is Chad Brown’s Minorette with Joel Rosario in the irons. West Coast apprentice extraordinaire Drayden Van Dyke (aka DVD) makes the cross-country trip to ride Sistas Stroll for Tom Proctor, and West Coast turf expert Corey Nakatani also makes the trip to Keeneland. If Nakatani handles the turf the same way he does in California, Minorette will have her hands full with Personal Diary. Graham Motion has the sole Maryland bred in this race, Daring Dancer, with the underrated, under-the-radar turf rider Alan Garcia to guide her. This daughter of Empire Maker, Daring Dancer, has six career starts and four of them landed her in the winner’s circle, including a Grade 3 win at Keeneland in the Appalachian Stakes and Grade 2 win at Saratoga in the Lake George. I don’t think you mess with Chad Brown or Rosario at Keeneland, especially if they’ve got the Belmont Oaks winner in the race. Minorette will have to work for this one though. Minorette, Personal Diary and Daring Dancer for me.

Distaff Decision

Nakatani and DVD will miss mounts on Saturday at Santa Anita in the California Distaff but won’t enjoy the Keeneland green too long as they both are on the card at Santa Anita on Sunday. The California Distaff is 6 and half on the turf and features four-year old filly Velvet Mesquite with “Money” Mike Smith aboard. The best turf riders in California, in my opinion, are Joe Talamo, Rafael Bejarano and Corey Nakatani. With Nakatani at Keeneland on Saturday, Talamo, Bejarano and Money Mike all have live mounts. Interesting that Talamo goes with Tribal Spy and leaves Warren’s Veneda to Tyler Baze. Tribal Spy won the Grade 3 Las Cienegas at Santa Anita, won the Irish O’Brien Stakes and finished fourth in the Daisycutter and Mizdirection Stakes. Safe to say, Tribal Spy knows how to hit the board at Santa Anita. Bejarano is aboard Qiaona at 6-1 morning line. I’m not all that interested in Qiaona even though she finished third in the Mizdirection and second in the Solana Beach H.   I’m gonna give a look to Warren’s Veneda and Ciao Bella Luna in this race, but Tribal Spy and Velvet Mesquite will take the top honors.

Good luck! Only 21 days until Breeders’ Cup weekend!

 

 

Stretching Out to Two Turns

With live racing at Canterbury Park now wrapped up for the summer meet, my focus turns to following the connections as they disburse throughout the country. My attention this time of year turns immediately to Santa Anita. I have been following this track since my days in Southern California. I have voiced my opinion many times that the racing community as a whole leans toward the East Coast horses, trainers and tracks more than the West Coast talent. California racing produced the great Zenyatta, the Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome and the current “It” horse, Shared Belief. California Chrome’s lackluster finishes in recent months reminds us that there is always another race, always another horse in the gate waiting to take the place of a faltering champion. Jungle Racing (Shared Belief) has a knack for acquiring and introducing buzzworthy horses. In fact, my Twitter name (@MizPostParade) is a nod to the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Champ Mizdirection, owned by Jungle Racing. However, Jungle Racing may want to keep an eye on Zayat Stables in 2015, specifically a colt named American Pharaoh. This two-year old colt by Pioneerof the Nile showed no mercy on his competition in the Frontrunner Stakes at Santa Anita. Speaking of that sire, remember Cairo Prince? The discussions and debates in 2014 could have been so different. Cairo Prince was a burgeoning force.

My favorite jockeys race at Santa Anita and this year another favorite rider of mine, the Minnesota Kid, Alex Canchari, dropped his tack in Arcadia, California. He will be struggling for mounts with the likes of Bejarano, Talamo, Smith, Baze and Espinoza in the jock’s room. However given some time, I’m sure Alex will establish a solid book in California. I advocated to anyone who would listen (including Alex himself) that he needed to get out of the Midwest circuit and test his talents on a more competitive stage. In the previous two years, the talented 20-year old has finished second in the rider standings at Canterbury Park. Last Saturday, he took his first photo in the winner’s circle at The Great Race Place winning by a nose on 19-1 Papa’s Paisley.

My impression of Canterbury’s 2014 leading trainer, Robertino Diodoro, is “classy.” He has a classy barn with some top-notch horses. The most interesting horse is the two-year old colt, Native American. For me, this horse has a great deal of potential and is in the right barn for developing that potential into a classy graded stakes runner. I followed Diodoro horses all last winter at Santa Anita and so I was more familiar with his barn than most Canterbury regulars when they shipped in. Right now Diodoro has horses scattered all over, but will eventually have more runners at Santa Anita and Turf Paradise.

I met a lot of wonderful horse people this year at Canterbury and was asked by a specific trainer to follow his barn’s progress as he left the meet and headed to Hawthorne and then down to Florida. So, I shall comply and will be covering Tampa Bay Downs when the connections arrive, as well as Hawthorne’s fall meet.

My son came to the track with me on several occasions this summer when his schedule allowed. He admitted that he prefers watching the quarter horses and asked why I never concentrate on them. He said they are the power sprinters of the horse world and “a lot more fun to watch.” I respect all aspects of horse racing, so I decided to get my feet wet a couple times with researching and handicapping races at Canterbury and followed many of the horses and riders down to Prairie Meadows. Of course, you have not truly caught the “QH Bug” unless you follow Los Alamitos! The guys at TVG are excellent at what they do. I plan on going to school with TVG all winter and get ready for some serious quarter horse handicapping next year!

I have a goal to be a part of the horse racing industry. I appreciate all the support and encouragement that I have received over the past year. It was one year ago, almost to the month, that I first created my blog and wrote my first post. I have made so many wonderful friends over the past year. I truly am grateful for those people, and appreciate everyone who has helped give me a “leg up” towards reaching my goal. Specifically, Dan Tordjman, Jonathan Stettin, Jim Miller, Angela Hermann, Johnny Love, Jon Mikkelson, Todd Schrupp and a multitude of intelligent and knowledgeable handicappers, gracious owners, trainers, and jockeys who have taken a few minutes between races to speak with me or pose for a selfie!

As my blog enters its second year, please continue following me on Twitter for updates. Remember, all a two-year old with potential needs is productive works, a good break from the gate, a steady stretch run and quality guidance to emerge from the pack as a contender.