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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


It’s a familiar refrain these days but there are too many races and so little time to devote to all of them.

With the racing calendar having been condensed throughout the country, and as almost all tracks have returned, devoting focused attention to one special program is nigh impossible. Accordingly, we’ll try to make more with less.

Today’s dilemma is the mega-card from Belmont Park, their first big Saturday and Santa Anita’s iconic Derby program. But there’s also a Grade 3 at Churchill and an interesting feature from Gulfstream Park. Mercifully, we completed the Laurel work before turning the page.

In pursuit of mo’ better results, we will concentrate on fewer races. There’s only so much time one can devote to angles and performance figures, thankfully less painstaking than the time and focus required to do the video work. One can’t watch all the live horses in all the live races.

As the Belmont program closes, the meat of Santa Anita’s program begins with the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks. So let’s go west first:



Ken McPeek has a well deserved reputation of having his way with fillies and Swiss Skydiver (6-5), protem favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, ships in for this having won two of three at the trip, the only loss her two-turn debut. Mike Smith gets the call. Only concern is that last was a big forward move and this is a filly shipping cross-country. Still, she will be a very tough out.

What to do with Merneith (2-1), who won her three year old debut by 10, sprinting in the slop at Oaklawn Park? Trained by Bob Baffert, 31% effective with this spacing, you box the exacta.

Speech (8-5) was narrowly beaten going long behind Baffert-trained Gamine at Oaklawn but looms underlay at early odds; second only for me. Odds dependent, we’re boxing the exacta and using both fillies in horizontals, extra with ‘Skydiver’.

RACE 6: Maiden Allowances

Cezanne (4-5) was a $3,650,000 two year old sales purchase last year. You think 4-5 is short debuting for Team Baffert/Prat? How about one Derby Futures book has him 25-1 after opening at 55-1. I know, cray-cray. Waiting to see what the hype’s about.

Mystery Man (5-1) big-time connections like to debut horses on mega-race days. Man-o-Mandella trains this one for Fox Hill Farms, and has a better first-out pedigree and post than does the favorite. Purposeful, well spaced work-line.

Rayray (3-1) is super sharp from white-hot connections, trainer and rider both, and is stretching out from 5-1/2 furlongs. It’s a different ballgame today but owns an experience edge.

RACE 7: Chrystal Water Stakes

The first “spread race” we’ve encountered and have left four of the eight grass milers in play, two trained by Phil D’Amato. Prince Earl (2-1) gets class relief and gelded five year old can handle these; must spot weight. Uncoupled mate King Abner (5-1) is getting Cedillo, who’s been on a stakes tear, stepping out of graded stakes and turning back to his winning one-mile trip.

Ward ‘N Jerry (3-1) may want more ground but he loves the lawn in Arcadia. Has been pandemic freshened, winning a Grade 3 in his return. This may be a bridge race, then again Prat takes the call; confusing.

Lieutenant Dan (4-1) also has recency and has made his bones sprinting but has raced well at eight and nine furlongs. Steve Miyadi is white hot and gelding has really improved at 4. The likely key for us but price will tell and would use all four horizontally.

RACE 8: Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby

On paper, and on the surface, it boils down to either undefeated Authentic (4-5) and his San Felipe runnerup. Honor A P. When they met, Authentic had a conditioning edge and was able to control the pace but this will be different with speed drawn to his inside. If he wins it will not be because he stole it.

Honor A. P. (8-5) was said to be in need of the San Felipe and ran to that assessment but looked good doing it and highly likely to benefit from it. Boxing and making an Honorable win bet. Super-exotically, using nicely developing Rushie (8-1) and enigmatic Anneau d’Or (15-1) who did his best dirt running on this track in the Juvenile.


RACE 6: G2 Fort Marcy

Pick a Chad, any Chad. Why not? He starts four of the nine here, going nine furlongs on the Inner Turf. Make a case for any of them, ranging in odds from a 7/2 lukewarm favorite to a 10-1 price shot.

He can control speed dynamics with one or two of them and finish them off with one of the others. If thunderstorms come, Instilled Regard can do dirt if need be. He was competitive with good dirt horses at three.

Or you could forsake all of them and take course loving New York-bred Gucci Factor (6-1), making season’s debut for Christophe Clement, who has come back to Long Island firing a couple of winners.

And Junior Alvarado, he of Friday’s riding triple Alvarados, has the call. So maybe I’ll do that, but need close to early line odds to win, and I’ll save in the exacta with a Chad to be named later.

RACE 7: G3 Westchester

The return of 2019’s almost three year old champion Code of Honor (6-5). He owns a huge class edge and figures that on average are superiority to the group. And Shug was touting him on a podcast this midweek. “I’m really looking forward to running him,” McGaughey said.

But that man Chad has one in here, too, well actually two in this dirty 1-1/16 miles. But one of them, Payne (8-1), ran huge last time out and returns fresh with Kendrick Carmouche.

Did you know that–according to Thoro-Graph stats–that this team is 34% when they hook up, and that’s after 140 rides? Well I didn’t, but now I do.

Seeking his fourth straight win, he makes his stakes debut here. We’re taking Payne and six pounds to win and an exact box. But 8-1 is a pipe dream; would love to get half but nothing below 3-1.

RACE 8: G3 Interborough

It’s on turf, weather permitting, and 12 older fillies have been entered, four trained by what’shisname. He has an import from France for Peter Brant, Viadera (6-1) with Rosario, and the ground is always soft there, so there’s that.

As for the trying-to find her-best-form-again or be-a-broodmare Newspaperofrecord (3-1), she would love the course wet. Well freshened, she’ll take catching over any ground.

If I’m going to gamble on this race, I will need to get paid. While she’s slower on figures than the rest, Getmotherarose (10-1) is on a healthy line, she’s fresh, versatile, and can kick on when sprinting.

And did we mention she’s won half her six starts in Elmont? She has, so we’ll take her straight and place. If perchance she’s better than 10-1, WPS seems like the right thing to do.

RACE 9 Grade 1 Carter

Think we can safely narrow this one down to two for the honors; Performer (3-1), Joel Rosario for Shug McGaughey, and Mind Control (4-1), Johnny in the boot for the Sacco brothers.

While Performer will be the steam because he’s on the rise as a first-time four year old, is fast, working like a wild horse and seeks his third straight Belmont score without defeat. But the line disrespects Mind Control.

His two Grade 1 victories forces him to give five pounds to his contemporary, but he’s far better posted to control dynamics in this seven furlong sprint and has a man who knows how to take advantage.

Our guess is that Mind Control will be a fair price while Performer will be over-bet. We’ll box the exacta, bet Mind Control to win, and try to squeeze Still Having Fun (20-1) into the super-exotics, very possible if Dylan Davis is his patient self.

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21 Responses

  1. Lots of stake races tomorrow. Stake races, Thoroughbred racing’s jewel; races where the ‘best’ supposedly are entered; races that usually have an odds-on favorite that has a habit of not winning; stake races where a lot of horseplayers toss their tickets on the floor; races where just about all the entrant’s owners receive a check in the thousands no matter if their blue blood finished dead last; races where the purse, in the thousands, is funded from casino dole or sponsors

    Not much, if any, mention of today’s feature stake race at Belmont, the Harmony Lodge. To my surprise there were two odds-on favorites today. No surprise, neither won. But all the owners of the blue bloods in the race received a check. The owner of the horse that finished last received a check for $2,400 – my goodness! The conditions of stake races are written so just about all owners of entrants do not lose their entire investment in the race. Think owners of claiming horses get this kind of treatment, the guys/gals who provide the platers for the vast majority of races run each day?


    Claiming Horses Matter!

    OTB lowlife

  2. Yes, WMC, #ClaimingHorsesMatter, we all agree. Do your thing, we’ll do ours, and I’ll return with Laurel and Tampa in the next two days. Have fun today, most horseplayers will…

  3. David Aragona, who makes the ML, doesn’t care for Mind Control, doesn’t think he’s fast enough, and thinks he’ll be pace disadvantaged if he closes from way out of it like last time. It’s true he doesn’t run huge Beyers, but he’s really an amazing horse who refuses to lose, and I also think he’s being completely disrespected.

    Well, I’m calm now, but I will be incredibly nervous in a little over 12 hours. It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for the rematch between Authentic and Honor A.P. I could see this being a jockey’s race – I think a lot will depend on what DVD does on Authentic. I’m expecting him to sit off of Shooter’s Shoot instead of getting into a duel with him. I think Mike Smith won’t let his foe get away from him. While I don’t think the others have a real shot, I do think Smith and DVD have to be careful not to pay so much attention to each other that they set it up for a long shot.

    1. Very prescient of Mr Aragona. He was right, Mind Control bigger price than I expected, was cool on the tote, and ran horribly. Insiders had it right, albeit not this insider…

  4. Good analysis, Bets, and I admit that Performer could even go favorite in the Carter. Horseplayers have it all wrong about the purpose of the morning line, maybe I’ll do something for Sunday column.

    Think you’re right, DVD will stalk Shooters Shoot, but only if the pace is fast is my thought. If slow, or if DVD catches a flyer from the gate, he’d be smart to go on with it, forcing Smith to react to him.

    If it develops as you say, DVD with stalk the speed and Smith will be hounding DVD–yes, very much a rider’s race.

    Now I don’t blame you for being a nervous HAP fan. Barring the unknown, he has no excuses here,. If good enough, he’s supposed to win this race, doesn’t have to, but does have something to prove.

    He sure looks the part. What a body on that guy… Enjoy the race!

    1. Thanks, John!

      Sadly, Performer was scratched, but apparently it’s a miner injury, so he’ll be ok.

      Good point about DVD….It’s funny, but races never turn out like you think they will; too often, crazy things happen you could never anticipate. Here’s hoping for a clean start and race.

      LOL I get nervous every time a favorite horse runs, but this feels different, probably because of all the expectations I’ve had for him. I’m sure he’ll run very well, but a win would be really special. He’s a spectacular looking colt – my jaw dropped when I saw him for the first time, lol

      1. Bets, Actually was thinking about you as he started to draw off, nice when dreams come true!

        1. John, If you can believe it, I’m just finding out he won this morning! My power went out last night and I went to sleep…….then I just forgot, lol.

          Thank you ! I’m so, so happy – for the colt, for his connections and for his sire, who I adore. Oh and his grandsire/namesake, who’s a legend.

          I’m seeing a few people (some of whom are die hard Authentic fans) diminish HAP’s performance because Authentic got off to an awkward start. He did, there’s no doubt about it, but I just don’t think it cost him the race. While I did say that I thought DVD might rate the colt, he was always going to try and get the lead first. HAP is this huge long striding colt who was 100 % yesterday, not 80% as in the SF, and apparently per Mike Smith he came back like he wanted to run again. He also won easily.

          I’m really sorry he won’t be running in the Belmont as the track is so perfect for him, but one day he’ll make it to NY.

  5. Bomber Bobby

    No. Horse Race 8 M/L TTT

    4 Anneau d’Or 15 2.17
    7 Authentic 4/5 5.34
    6 Honor A. P. 9/5 8.30
    3 Shooters Shoot 8 16.10
    2 Rushie 8 16.93
    1 Friar’s Road 20 17.32
    5 Azul Coast 15 18.83

    1. T/BB,
      Even a “lefty” could have his day turn out right with your exacta box.

      Why isn’t anyone mentioning the name-restored Hollywood Cold Cup here?

      Midcourt, Brownstorm
      Midcourt, Brownstorm

      Midcourt, Brownstorm
      Midcourt, Brownstorm
      Improbable, Higher Power
      Improbable, Higher Power

  6. Killing a bit of time I took a look at the Fort Marcy Stakes with a purse of $150,000. Nine entrants with Chad Brown the trainer of four of ’em. Do you know that the cost to the owner to enter their blue blood in the race is $2,400, yet the owners of all the entrants , at a minimum, will get paid $4,500! How about that! Can’t lose financially no matter how their blue blood runs. Ya’all ever find a horse race to bet on where you will get reimbursed for losing and almost get back twice the amount of your bet?

    Yup, stake races. The crown jewel of Thoroughbred racing, where they are pretty much fixed financially for the owners of the blue bloods.

  7. TTT

    WMC, baby, I am totally against payoffs for losing. Even paying for 4th. When paying for only the first 3 positions, trainers and owners must ensure that their horses are in the best shape they can be. And for those with any morals, isn’t that what life is all about?

  8. Quite a nice call in the SA Derby today John. Short odds resulted in my playing only your selections in the TRI and SF. You called a perfect analysis on this race. Fun watching Honor A.P. pass Authentic, and always enjoyable cashing any tickets. Back in January when I inquired who you might consider in the Derby futures, you mentioned both Honor A.P. and Governeur Morris. Can’t recall the futures odds back at the time, but you sure pointed me towards two very good runners. Honor A.P. just moved to the head of the class. Thanks!

    1. McD, HAP not quite there yet but very well could be by September. Will be high on my NTRA ballot tomorrow. This is a terrific class as 3YOs!

  9. Musings,hints,factual numbers revisited at 5 am.😗In the early days when i d create my consensus by buying fresh Newsday,NYDN papers,at about this time i d walk two blocks along Montauk Hway,smell the ocean water and check which races to avoid.Today Is different.No NYDN,really,not any hints of racing which nea means no DRF # consensus,nor R.Harris picks,and to a lesser extent,no Trackman picks.Trackman was my unpredictable picked ,whomever he,she was. Today i woke up and Cant go back to sleep so i mixed Amaretto with Southern Comfort,My Sicilian Kiss version.✌️Next to me a Guesɛ Check,my portable notebook, with some six pages of yesterday s notes, numbers.Nothing gets changed nor embellished,that would be suicidal,almost. Dont Like playing on racing days,wet track,no matter how Much i read about mudders breeding etc.After losing four races and incremental bets( 2,3,4,5,6,..)we re on the 8 race and evrything points to two numbers,5 and 7. The 5 Is the Alpha pick both in # and $ and my so called Jerkens pick Is the 7. Used them both in gimmicks: exactas,triples,SXRr plus WP on 7.,hoping that it bears the fav, x value. Minimum bet starts at $6,twice more on the ex box.Reminded myself of Pricci s input that the fav likes it wet,,and what about the 7 ? Dont know but cannot ho against myself nor the Numbers,ie,who Is betting bet with the fav..Very Important,Folks!.

    1. 78,260,92 are numbers,dollars,really ,some of which have to be multiplied by 2,3 and more.Exacta,triple,Superfecta and WP,whose numbers are here somewhere. The Super was mmore generous than expected,and looking at my #,57-57-12,1,9 and 8 x last would not have cost me Much since the top two and then other three were right there in pefee of,,Importance.🤣. Last the last two races being bet unwillingly. The 8 th race bir was still on my mind. I still disagree on Why they do Not show DD $ after a race.It should be Shown,Its inexcusable !!! Could say the same about Pick 3 ,pick 4,probable payoffs but i Dont really care about those other gimmicks,But The DDPayoffs? Boa can they keep it away from betting patrons? What Is Next, No prices after a race?😗 My ” liqqer” hit me,my dog Is sleeping and i close with ” My Way”which many of you might not know that it IS French Dont,and as a trilingual i prefer things,songs, mo kese in their original way..Sorry,Paul Anka,Frank Sinatra😗✌️..I Will,though,play That s Life by F.Sinatra.Gey,U Tube Is Good x something.Thanks,AuRevoir,Addio.Gave it all and Hope that it served x a purpose,no matter how small.Cin Cin, Salute !

  10. It is obvious Mr. TTT that track management favors wealthy owners who purchase blue blood stock from breeders, thus they offer stake races with six/seven figure purses derived from casino dole or sponsors and also guarantee that the owner will received a few thousand bucks if their horse runs fifth or better or in NYRA stake races just gets pushed into the starting gate no matter where the horse finished the race. And, naturally, the media hopes on board informing all that the stake races are the best racing. Owners of claiming horses, who provide the entrants for the vast majority of races must hope their plater finishes third or better to get paid – seems unfair to me.

    Yesterday Belmont offered four stake races and the favorite won all four. Churchill presented two stake races and the favorite won one and finished second in the other. At Santa Anita seven stake races were carded, and the favorite won five of them and finished second in one. Where’s the bomb! It showed up in the 7th paying $186.00. Just about all the owners of the entrants got paid thousands of bucks. I wonder if one horseplayer somewhere profited as much on the races as the owners of the blue bloods that were up-the-track.

    I sat in my backyard watching the climbing beans crawl up the trellis until post time of the race. I found the beans more thrilling to watch.

  11. Now there’s a name for a horse I could wager on sight unseen….Two bucks “across the board” on BEANCRAWLER.

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