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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, March 3, 2022 – In today’s simulcast events era, tracks will do almost anything to capture the public’s imagination and their betting dollars.

The Magna Group, for instance, has created a super-mega wagering fest, combining two event days from their premier winter venues, Gulfstream Park, and Santa Anita Park and merged them into one.

The New York Racing Association gets into the act with its own special event that has proven popular with bettors the past several seasons, the Cross Country Pick 5. It’s not quite 1/ST’s all graded-stakes exclusive Dirt and Turf Pick 5, but the money spends just the same.

Talk about specialization.

Gotham Stakes day in New York dovetails nicely with South Florida’s Fountain of Youth and Southern California’s San Felipe for the Triple Crown prep set.

But since those events are spoken for, NYRA will team up with two other popular winter signals; Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs, starring Tampa’s popular grass course and two state-bred stakes from Hot Springs that are wide open betting events, book-ending Aqueduct’s featured Busher and Gotham Stakes.

Wagering notwithstanding, Saturday belongs to the three-year-olds with several looking to certify their credentials as prime time players while a handful of 2021 notable juveniles get their campaigns started with a perceptible two-prep Derby program..

In the San Felipe, we expect to learn more about the two-turn ability of Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom, having taken the 7-furlong San Vicente over four rivals with authority.

The Grade 2 1-1/16 miles features the American Pharoah chestnut vs. two possible-Derby Baffert colts to be named later.

Indeed, a Baffert shipper rates to be a major player 3,000 miles to the east. Nashua winner Rockefeller will try to improve on his recent season’s debut in the Sham.

Second in the G3 two-turner, he will face two SoFla ship-ins from Todd, including undefeated Dean’s List, and will meet a rare Asmussen New York-stabled winter runner, Morello, undefeated in two starts that includes an impressive run in the 7-furlong Jimmy Winkfield over the track.

But it is the Fountain of Youth that’s the lynchpin of a loaded Derby prep afternoon

On first pass we could not eliminate seven of the 12 entrants–a 13th is also-eligible–although we believe four of them: Mo Donegal (3-1), Simplification (7-2), Emmanuel (9-2) and In Due Time (6-1) are the most viable.

We will separate them this weekend, before 10 am Saturday, along with Gulfstream’s Late Pick 4, Aqueduct’s Gotham and the San Felipe on the left coast.


G2 Gulfstream Park Mile Race 10

Between the 6-pound weight pull and the dominating manner of the victory, Speaker’s Corner (5-2), who has the earmarks of a really good horse might not replicate that effort as the waters get deeper and there is more pace signed on today than in the G3 Hooper. #Respect.

Fearless, meanwhile, was being ridden to keep pace and is likely to benefit from today’s dynamics, hence we predict this minor upset.

Diamond Oops, admittedly more accomplished going shorter, should also take advantage of a strong pace and an outside post. He was really up against the the GP Sprint and looked in need of the effort. He will be much tighter here and while beating the top two, he could split them.

We’ll take Fearless to win at 2-1 or greater, and an exacta part wheel of ‘Speaker’ and Fearless first with all three in the second slot. Trifecta players have at it. Both favorites are a must-use in any horizontals.

G2 MacDiarmida Race 11

Looking at two horses again and both are horizontal inclusions. Abaan (8-5) showed an added dimension to win his third straight, making him 2-for-2 in Hallandale, is a winner at this trip, and has trained monstrously for his return. Saez and the rail makes him triple tough.

Temple (9-2), however, came with a wild horse finish to second the place behind Abaan last time despite the moderate tempo and a 5-wide sweeping rally on the turn, going best at the end. He, too, benefits from a 6-pound weight pull today and attracts Jose Ortiz.

Shamrocket (6-1) is returning to his favorite surface in his third run off a layup, is tactical, can kick, and goes well for Castellano but he needs a good setup and split second timing to make his finish most effective. He’s finished in the money in 17 or 21 grass starts but 13 were places or shows.

Kygo (20-1) raced wide throughout his Tampa prep and finished strongly while no threat, but was a bear on the gallop-out. Extreme value at early line odds.

So it’s another must-use two first, horizontally and vertically, with the others best as super-exotics fillers. Will need a bare minimum of 7-2 before taking Temple straight to upset.

G2 Fountain of Youth Race 12

We said what we had to say earlier about this event and again see the race primarily between Simplification (7-2), likely to be over-bet on the strength of his recent tough trip, and Emmanuel (9-2), on the strength of possibly being the best horse in this matchup and the Pletcher factor.

But at proper odds, thinking 9-2 or more, we’ll take In Due Time (6-1) straight. In winning his last at a flat mile, he appeared to get better the farther he ran, impressing more like grandsire Curlin than daddy Not This Time.

In Due Time has improved with each start incrementally, and today is the day to find out whether he is of this class. We’ll use all three horizontally. Vertically, they all merit the top slot.

Super-exotically beneath, we will use bullet-working Howling Time (15-1), hoping he’s not the KY Jockey Club runoff we saw last fall; Rattle N Roll (15-1) classy and getting the right setup but race dynamics hurt; A. P.’s Secret (20-1), whose last was better than it looks, and Giant Game (15-1), much better than his last indicates.

G3 Herecomesthebride Race 13

Yes, another pair have caught the eye. Spendarella (6-1) broke maiden on debut like a much-the-best seasoned pro but Diamond Wow (8-1) has been on my list since her winning debut at 2. Recovering from an illness, Patrick Biancone didn’t have her wound tightly and it showed.

Diamond Wow is tactical, well drawn, and can kick on strongly. We’re betting her straight at 5-1 or greater, and possibly a saver with Spendarella, price dependent, and a quinella box, of course.

Super-exotically, we’re adding Bill Mott’s stakes winning returnee Mischievous Miss (6-1), good mover Opalina (7-2), Beside Herself (4-1) for Team Todd/Irad, and Howdumakeurmoney (12-1) who galloped out strongly after winning Woodbine’s Glorious Song on Tapeta at 2–despite detesting the name.


G3 Gotham Stakes Race 10

Most inscrutable of the three preps: Bold Journey (6-1) moved prematurely at headstretch to open big lead in the state-bred Gander at the trip and surface, first time going a mile and stopped late, probably more tired than lost of focus. Anyway, it should help him here He can rally from off the pace, nicely drawn outside, switches to strong-finishing Jorge Vargas, gets weight and price should be fair.

Morello (3-1) is 2-for-2 in life, coming up to added distance perfectly now makes second start of 2022 and it appeared Jose Lezcano left something in reserve while winning the Jimmy Winkfield. Style also suits the dynamic as does outside slip. Can finish off lively pace.

Fromanothermutha (6-1) was a bullet away from the barrier while breaking maiden by open lengths and has plenty off bottom from three routes at 2, including Belmont one-turners at 1-1/16 miles. Like the idea of Dylan today and getting a few pounds in weight.

Will take Bold Journey straight if 3-1 is available, will key-box exactas with the other two and will add Dean’s List 7-2), Rockefeller (4-1) and Glider (8-1) to the super-exotics mix.


G2 San Felipe Stakes Race 6

Like this event, although this is not the most exciting renewal we’ve ever seen. There’s no shortage of early zip. Forbidden Kingdom (8-5) beat four rivals with authority in the 7-furlong San Vicente and Mr. Mandella has put him on the fence since with a series of fast, stamina building drills for his two turn debut. Appears to have enough class and pedigree.

Doppleganger (9-5) should be better than his dull effort behind the choice in that event, has more than enough pedigree for the stretch-out and comes with three subsequent bullets in his holster. Prat sticks.

Will take Forbidden Kingdom straight if 6-5 or more is available, a boring exacta box with his rival above with Armagnac to fill out exacta and trifecta possibilities.

live column will be updated periodically

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4 Responses

  1. John

    Can’t believe it’s been at least a year-and-a-half since I last posted on this site. As if I was doing much of anything in all that time. You may recall that back then we were both wary of Swiss Skydiver as she prepared for a 4-year old campaign. As it turned out, unfortunately, our trepidation was spot on. And now there’s Secret Oath. I suppose if anyone can prepare a filly for the first Saturday in May rather than the first Friday, it would be D Wayne. A side note about Lady’s Secret: Despite being a huge fan throughout her stellar career, in her last career start (Saratoga summer 1987), I played against her, using all others in the show pool, and was more than amply rewarded. All these years later, all I could think of was that in her prior start she must have somehow signaled that “this is it, no mas.” But then I checked her past performances (using that marvelous book Champions) and it reveals that she had easily won her prior start, an allowance race at Monmouth three weeks before.

    Jumping back to Secret Oath, I note that Steven Haskin has her ranked #7 in this week’s listing of his “Derby Dozen.”

    Switching gears – I don’t know how others feel, but increasingly I wish that Bob Baffert would just go away. The brief and meteoric (mysterious?) careers of Arrogate and Justify. The positives for Medina Spirit and Gamine. And on and on. I know he’s a personable and engaging interview, as opposed to nearly all other top trainers. But when will enough be enough? Do you think that his owners have stuck with him with an anticipation that he will somehow get an injunction/a stay or whatever else, that allows his three year olds to become eligible for Derby points? (I know time is running short in this regard but a bunch of 100 pointers will still be out there into early April).

    On a lighter note: I know Fourstardave is near or at the top of all-time Saratoga horses, and deservedly so. But wasn’t his full brother Fourstarsallstar a more accomplished horse, including a venture across the pond to race in England (Champions seems not to have information about either of them)?

    Lastly. my Stable Watch List has gifted me with five horses for the Fountain of Youth, the four you mention as well as Rattle N Roll. Plus there’s High Oak, who I gave high marks to last summer at Saratoga. Probably a good race to watch and learn.

    As always, great that you’re still here and doing what you do.

    Rich Gold

  2. Rich, thanks for checking in! But so much to unpack late at night. Need some time for this one. Maybe I’ll have something on Mr. Baffert this weekend or later. But let’s say I feel much as you do.

    To think that Rick Dutrow got 10 years because He parts his hair a different way and it took planted evidence and questionable practices from racing officials in New York and Kentucky. He’s still unjustly paying the price.

    And, yes, who knows, there is a chance he’ll stay his way into the race and, as you say, with those hundred-granders still out there.

    Later, and thanks for the wakeup call.

  3. Can’t believe this * big a* schedule ! Not only are they racing mostly only on weekend but ,after waiting four days, I’m looking at this putrid ,poor,cheap, short program for a Friday and thinking * Why even bother* and might as well just open on Saturdays ?!? I Have to only play TWO races and might as well send them in before their post time and enjoy the good Charleston weather by paying attention to something else more exciting,\.

  4. JG, the continued decline on the number of horses foaled each year is having a negative effect on all tracks. Simulcasting is a double-edged sword and people have learned, especially during height of pandemic, that they didn’t “need” to see live racing… then there’s the scandals that, legitimately or not, also turn fans into used-to-be fans.

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