The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Two of those four graded stakes at Churchill Downs, the Stephen Foster and Fleur de Lis, have Breeders’ Cup implications as win-and-in events.

Purses have fallen below pre-casino levels, so graded titles and an all-expenses-paid trip to Lexington on November’s first weekend will need to suffice.

The sequence begins with the Bashford Manor for juveniles, followed by the Fleur de Lis, Foster, and Regret– a skull-buster of a Grade 3 for three-year-old fillies going 1-1/8 miles on the turf. Let’s get to it:


Which Asmussen to you like? I can’t decide, so I’m using both. Hulen (5-1) was gritty and professional winning on debut and needed to overcame some adversity.

Cazadero (8-5) had an easier time as an outside stalker but when he was set down, whoosh! Stable rider Ricardo Santana presumably had his pick and takes this one. The outside post suggests a similar trip here. Both own wins over the track.


This mile and an eighth has a celebrated roster of winning mares and Midnight Bisou (3-5) figures to add her name to a recent group that includes, Royal Delta, Elate and Rachel Alexandra.

We understand speed is always dangerous but with Mike Smith stalking Serengeti Empress in the stall immediately to her left, we’re not anticipating a soft-pace front-end heist in the spot. If we wanted to price it up, we’d take improving late developer, Go Google Yourself (8-1).


The middle of three straight nine-furlong events, it’s Tom’s d’Etat’s (1-1) race to lose. We don’t believe he will. In a select group of older horses in training, the only element giving us pause is losing Joel Rosario to a prior commitment.

Miguel Mena does a lot of riding for ‘Little Al’ Stall and cheerfully takes Saturday’s assignment. The seven-year-old is both a Horse for Course and Distance. High-weighted at 124 pounds, he spots six rivals from two to four pounds.

‘Tom’s’ chief rivals have made a good transition from 3 to 4. By My Standards (5-2) and Owendale (4-1) have performed well this season. Between them we prefer the former, given the tougher of two recent trips, but neither would be shocking.


Regret, I like a few, but then again, too few to ignore…

We’ going to conclude our play with a six-pack of potential turf stars, listed loosely in order of preference:

Crystal Cliffs (3-1) won a prep for this over the course, at the distance, with first-Lasix in her U.S. debut for Team Motion/ Velazquez. Need better connections? Micheline (8-1) put her big late kick all together beneath brilliant Bravo handling. She’s not been this far but pedigree says yes.

Dominga (5-1) had trouble in the Tepin, a one-mile prep, broke maiden on debut on this course and goes for Cox/Geroux team. In Good Spirits (8-1) appeared short of condition in same race; a course winner and bred for added ground.

Stunning Sky (20-1) has improved since turf ace Mike Maker claimed her, finishing well too late over speed Gulfstream lawn last out. She’s nicely posted with Tyler.

Pass the Plate (6-1) has weak bottom line for trip but inherent class and Leparoux can get her this far. Beaten 1-1/4 by top turfer Sharing in CD return. We’re taking them all but leaning on top three, particularly the early line favorite.

50-Cent Pick 4: 2, 6 // 5 // 5, 6 // 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12 = $12


This year, the Ohio Derby is not an afterthought for late developers or those unable to race at Grade 1 talent but an actual Kentucky Derby qualifier, albeit a more 50-pointer for the winner.

As the euphemism goes, it’s a “good betting race” with a large field at various stages of development, in other words anything can happen, especially given predicted thunderstorms.

Our first look gave rise to an interest in five of the runners but unfortunately a deeper dive wasn’t particularly revealing except that there more negatives than positives to consider. Listed in post order, inside to outside.

Rowdy Yates (9-2) earned a ticket to the Middle East to no avail with a victory at Sunland Park in his three-year-old debut, was given a month off the recover but returned to the work tab on May 2 with eight timed workout for Steve Asmussen. He reunites wit Tyler Baze who won with him at Ellis in 2019.

Lebda (7-2) is the early line favorite based on his consistency, performance figures and in the hands of a Maryland-based super trainer. He’s been working bullets and is well posted but is light on pedigree for the trip and promise of a wet track.

Continuing, in post position order, is the Bill Mott ship-in Sprawl (15-1), who developed rapidly this spring with maturity and addition of blinkers, has forward looking figures, has won both two-turn dirt starts, is bred bottom side for the trip and on both sides for wet. Paco Lopez will get him in the game.

Going turf to dirt, South Bend (8-1) is interesting. Never involved in a turf stakes last out, he returns to the dirt where he has been competitive at the stakes level, including a win in the Street Sense at Churchill.

Blinkers off is a 22% winning event for trainer Stan Hough and the Algorithms colt has had three solid works since the dull try last out and goes first time for Rafael Bejarano.

Juvenile champion Storm the Court (3-1) is a deserving favorite based on accomplishment and company lines but was hurt badly by the draw. Since his dully try in the Arkansas Derby, he’s been working better than at any time of his career.

Having five drills since returning from Hot Springs he’s been working extremely well, presumably without blinkers, removed today by trainer Peter Eurton, who is 31% efficient with that equipment change, and Flavien Prat sticks. The negative is a lack of wet track experience and suitable pedigree.

We’re looking to wager on either South Bend or Sprawl or both, allowing the tote board to guide us, and will consider using the others in some fashion in exactas and super-exotics.


RACE 7: Grade 3 Vagrancy

Chalon (5-2) to win at 2-1 or greater. Exacta part wheel Chalon and Come Dancing (7-5) with each other and Jakarta (20-1) underneath.

RACE 8: Grade 2 New York Stakes

Mean Mary (7-2) to win and boxed exacta with Call Me Love (9-5).

RACE 10: Grade 1 Just A Game

Uni (7-5) to win, key-box exactas with Newspaperofrecord (7-5) and Regal Glory (10-1), extra ticket with Uni first.

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

17 Responses

  1. I’m looking forward to Micheline hopefully getting her first graded stakes win!

    John, I see that Shug has entered Orb’s 3/4 brother, Patriot Game, for a 7 furlong MSW on turf (along with another colt). I’ve been waiting for this colt for awhile. Does Shug ever enter horses just to get a run in them? I ask because Patriot Game has only worked once on turf – a nice work, but still just one. While Honor Code has a couple of nice turf winners, including Bama Breeze, who’s very good, you’d think Patriot Game is dirt-meant. Thanks!

  2. Bets, think I read somewhere earlier that Shug is looking forward to running the colt but that would probably be better in his second start. It’s a mixed signal so I’ll be watching. There are plenty of opportunities elsewhere today but looking forward as he runs two in there and the other looks well meant.

  3. John, thanks! Shug didn’t give much away in the quotes I read today, but it really makes sense considering his pedigree that he’d need a race. Got to start somewhere …and, if it rains hard enough, it might be run in the main track (but I don’t want to see that happen). I’m excited to see how he does, turf or no!

  4. Thank you for the P4 Tote Buster CD analysis John. A wonderful Covid distance time diversion of Carly Simon “Anticipation” it is……and they’re in the gate….appreciate all the hours you put into this PSA freebie. A true man of the sport and people you are.

  5. God willing, I always will advocate for horseplayers and fans, but need to earn and bring some help on board. Using you for a sounding board here, no obligation, just a response.
    If I set aside, say, two hours a day, to watch races to find future wagers, is there a market for my horses to watch?
    I realize there are price points to consider, and there’s much that’s free on the Internet , so it’s a tough market. But product is for sale daily, too, and the lowest price for daily product is about $10.
    Would people buy horses to watch from someone with a half-century of trip handicapping experience for $10/week?
    I need a minimum of 25 clients to make the effort worthwhile, but I would also limit subscriptions to those 25 people to protect the odds. Clients would only be replaced when people drop out.
    Obviously, any member of the HRI Faithful is welcome to offer an opinion or suggestion here as to whether it’s something that would interest them.
    One more, important thing. There’s no handicapping involved; the rules are simple:
    Bet the H to W blindly three times, always same amount. If it wins in its first or second try, it’s off the list. If it loses three times it’s also off the list. Three strikes, out.
    This month, I’ve made 18 bets [5 horses were scratched]: 4 wins, 3 seconds, 3 thirds. Winning prices were $5.00, 5.20, 8.40, 35.20. Odds are unpredictable. I just follow my own betting parameters, no handicapping involved. [Many losers were 20-1+].
    So there it is. No pressure, just thoughts…

    1. Several years ago a friend of mine had a list of horse s to “watch* which were copied off a newspaper ( Berner?) handicappers and from ,I believe,the former ATM magazine..Basically,they were horses that had placed or showed in their last race(s) .There was another one who had a different list of horses that had finished WIDE. $ 10 a day ? Greed is good even at $ 125 x hour ! My plumber feels cheated at Only $ 95 x hour !Suckers are everywhere,especially Lonely Seniors. There is No shame,guilt or conscience,in Anything! Step right up,Folks,,and keep the distance from B.S. because the money that you Save is Yours!

      1. Come to expect responses like this. All entitled to opinion, not objectively ignoring truth. There are handicapping services that charge $10 or day or more depending on that market… I was thinking $10 per week, just so we understand the facts…

    2. If a horses to watch list is done by a solid knowledgeable handicapper who knows the difference between Noise and a note worthy event, then it would be worth money to me.

      1. Thanks for the input, Doc. So it comes down to trust and knowledge, of course. I’m good with that…

        1. Yep – if you are going to run a trip notes service on NYRA, you can definitely count on me to subscribe.

          1. Thanks Doc, we’ll see if there’s enough interest. It’s time consuming, as you know, and you can’t miss any days. I would plan at watching all the majors, NY, KY and FL. Can’t commit to the Western time zone, except major stakes, of course…

  6. Considering this is her return from an immeasurably strenuous race in Saudi Arabia burning herself out trying to run down a Jason Servis vet job- after a very draining trip to Saudi Arabia in the first place – the effort by Bisou yesterday was absolutely jaw dropping. Mike Smith never moved a muscle and swallowed an extremely sharp front runner with graded stakes credentials with total disrespect.

    Her race time means absolutely nothing – smith never asked, and strangled her down the stretch. I think you can make a case for her 2 efforts this year both being in the top 5. Just one man’s opinion, but right now I have her running away with horse of the year. Obviously I’m considering her first race a win since she beat every horse in Saudi Arabia that wasn’t juiced.

    1. When I cast my NTRA vote tomorrow, MB will be #1, TD #2, and it was an agonizing choice. And Asmussen continues to put a run in the Classic out there. He must know something!
      Will talk about Saturday’s races here Tuesday…

  7. John, At present I am content staying with my daily three to five dollar HRI analysis investment, and maybe good for another twenty on Saturdays. I had no issues giving up Trumps $1.2K to a local outreach food program for people in need due to covid-19, but my curse is that I am a cheap bastard taking address to my own vices. One round of golf at Eisenhower or Bethpage Park, and a few races each week is enough for me to be content. I don’t gamble enough to justify an additional $10 x 52 weeks on the watch list runners

    I am sure however your insight offers an honest value. As you might recall I had subscribed to Tote Buster years back and managed to always stay on the plus side on that venture. Back at that time, I had organized a weekly Saturday pool with a group of ten family members and friends. I disbanded the group however once I became uncomfortable with the excessive medication in the sport. Bottom line John, I guess if you need me to make your number, I’ll join in, but the no analysis, and blind return, would not be my first course of play each week. In only if needed,

    1. I knew this would not be for everyone McD and don’t want anyone to live outside their personal comfort zone. Thanks for the honest reply. I’m sure these days that everyone is watching their budgets carefully.

      I hope the powers that be take seriously your course of action, the disbanding of your small betting syndicate because of excessive medication use in the sport.

      There’s a lesson in there, but only if heeded…

  8. McD,
    Your generosity with your stimulus check makes me feel like Scrooge McDuck without his money bin.

    I know I’m repeating myself, but I would definitely subscribe to unlimited access to a historical racing data base.
    I’m convinced there’s good money to be made by the data base operator if he/she could also access data on races not yet run; and could execute custom selection processes created by either clients or him/herself, for a fee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *