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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, May 11, 2023 – We’ve seen this movie before, the one in which a B-level stakes class turf runner crosses the pond to the New Land in search of Grade 1 U.S. gold. Only this time Charlie Appleby is not bringing stable star William Buick over for the ride. Instead, it’s some guy named Dettori.

And rather than shipping over from Great Britain, or Dubai, or Saudi Arabia for that matter, 2-Warren Point (9-5) last raced in Qatar, prior to that in Bahrain and when last seen Great Britain last year, the Irish-bred Dubawi 4-year-old was winning on the All-Weather at Kempton.

But whatever a horseman with an incredible strike rate of 55%–12-for-22–decides to do is OK by us and, of course, the great “Frankie” needs no introduction as he circles the world in search of additions to one of the greatest riding legacy’s ever compiled in this his final year astride many of the world’s best horses.

Warren Point will be facing America’s all-too familiar Grade 1 veterans, 1-Red Knight (7-2) and 3-Channel Maker (6-1), but that’s not all.

A couple of turf “youngsters,” 4-year-olds 4-Verstappen (6-1), recent game winner the G2 Elkton, and Howe Street (8-1), the vanquished Elkhorn favorite now back to his winning trip with blinkers off but with Flavien Prat on the re-ride, are interesting, along with 6-Soldier Rising (5-1) working purposefully for his 5-year-old debut.

G1 MAN o’ WAR Race 5


WIN-VALUE PLAY: Verstoppen and/or Howe Street, price dependent.

EXOTICA: Exacta Key-Box: 2 // 4-5. Trifecta Key 2, first and second: 2 // 1-4-5 // 1-4-5.


The Skinny: A decidedly mixed bag with more questions than answers. While we believe the early line of 8-5 on Bishops Bay is sophomoric, the following is my trip note from his sprint debut at Fair Grounds in February: “Scopey individual, stalked throughout under overconfident handling, going from absolute pull to drive, challenged deep stretch, chowed class late to prevail. Wants distance…”

Well, he won his second start, an N2L at one mile 70-yards, overcoming a clipped heels at start and another deep stretch battle to win by a neck. He comes off a 55-day break after two top-figure scores and hard-earned victories.

Horses of interest include: 1-Arcangelo (10-1) coming off a visually impressive run at a flat mile in SoFla; 2-Slip Mahoney (4-1), uncoupled ‘Bishops’ mate dropping from the G2 Wood Memorial and attracting Rosario; two from Todd Pletcher; newly blinkers 5-Classic Catch (9-2), beaten 5-1/2 lengths from another county in the Wood and 6-Go Soldier Go (8-1) new acquisition who had no chance on inside-speed highway behind Derma Sotogake in UAE Derby, and 8-Henry Q (8-1) getting away from speed-conveyor Sunland Park going one turn with Dettori.


WIN-VALUE PLAY: Prefer Bishops Bay if 2-1 or more is available, if not Henry Q to win at 5-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Key-Box 9 // Trifecta Key 9 // Trifecta Wheel: // 9 //



The Skinny: Wesley Ward has won a dozen races at Royal Ascot, including one for owner Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stable. They ship in to Hallandale looking for get their Brit trip-tick punched with newcomer 6-Ocean Mermaid (2-1). This daughter of precocious European stud Kingman from a Frankel mare, cost a cool quarter-million at Tattersalls last fall. She’s had nine morning trials for debut including a turf move and a sharp gate drill. Johnny Velazquez, anxious to get back to Royal Ascot, comes in to ride this miss and colt Holding the Line in the fifth, owned by equally legendary Steve Cauthen.

Her main rival will be 9-Crimson Advocate (7-2), a second-time starter for another turf whiz and shipper, George Weaver, who was a good third in Keeneland dirt debut now tries turf with an appropriate pedigree and adding blinkers. Weaver runners are profitable making their turf debuts. 3-Scootaloo (15-1) finished very well for third after an adventurous trip for Kent Sweeney, profitable going dirt to turf and first-time turf.


WIN-VSLUE PLAY: Scootaloo to win at 10-1 or greater.

EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 3-6-9. Exacta and Trifecta Key: 6 // 3.9 // 3.9



The Skinny: Trainer Mike Maker has a well deserved reputation as a turf scion and Tyler Gaffalione is headed toward his eighth riding title at Churchill Downs. Today they join forces with 2-Gaslight Dancer (2-1) who won the listed Palisades Stakes in his 3-year-old debut at Keeneland. At 2 he won the G3 Futurity and was beaten less than four lengths in the BC Juvenile Turf going long. He likely will be a lot shorter than his early line odds indicate–deservedly so.

Horses of interest and possible upsetters include 3-Two of a Kind (6-1), 6-Crispy Cat (5-1) and 7-Private Creed (3-1). Private Creed and Crispy Cat own the kind of speed that can break this wide open with their early gas–or they might set the table for the late running favorite or Crispy Cat. We’ll fade either scenario.


WIN-VALUE PLAY: Two of a Kind to win at 9-2 or greater.

EXOTICA: Exacta Key-Box 2 // 3.6.7 Exacta 2 over 3.6.7. Trifecta Key: 2 // 3.6.7 // 3.6.7.

Per usual, suggested exotics at minimums available, straight wagers in $2 units

this is a live column and will be updated throughout the weekend


Over one million dollars returned to winning bettors as a result of penny breakage

Alas, yet another topic we’ve written about in recent years, along with reduced takeout, eliminating or at least lowering breakage, and most recently, foxed odds wagering.

My, those pennies sure add up, don’t they? And while Derby-like mega-wagering figures are rare, any monies returned to winning bettors is a good thing.

Do you think that those pennies, that add up to dollars whatever the level of play, helped Churchill Downs Inc, set handle records in virtually all categories Derby weekend? I know it did.

It’s about time that other racing states take notice of something that the Commonwealth of Kentucky instituted to help horseplayers, who might implore other jurisdictions to: “Please, help me help you!”

Item 2: Gulfstream to hold two Saturday preps for juveniles which qualifies the winners for Royal Ascot

Here’s a great idea that I’m totally buying into, and will be at the Hallandale oval Saturday checking on those “turf feet” and watching the demeanor of the babies that are considering a trip to Royal Ascot.

Ability is paramount, of course, but Royal Ascot replicates the energy and atmosphere of Churchill Downs on Derby day. Either way, it’s a big ask.

There are two divisions, a his and hers, the boys going first in the Royal Palm Turf Juvenile, Race 6, while the ladies, the Royal Palm Juvenile Turf Fillies, goes as the ninth. Both races were well supported at the entry box.

Blast Furnace has experience, finishing second at Keeneland going 5-1/2 furlongs and turns back a sixteenth here. George Weaver adds blinkers on the The Factor colt. Weaver is profitable at 21% with shippers.

And you know it’s serious when Wesley Ward, who has an amazing dozen Royal Ascot victories, debuts a Soldier’s Call colt, owned  by Steve Cauthen, and ridden by Johnny Velazquez. Think he’s well meant? So do we.

As an aside, baseball fans will need to choose between Mattingly and No Nay Met, debuting for Weaver and Joe Orseno, respectively. Both are well bred for the lawn.

In the ninth, Ward is represented by $252K purchase Ocean Mermaid for Stonestreet Stable with Johnny again. She is royally bred—no pun intended—as a daughter of super Euro stud Kingman, from a Frankel mare, Sparkling Surf.

Breaking from the pole against her is fast-working Kiss, an Army Mule filly from Nasty Noozie, who produced one turf winner from three prior foals. Jose Morelos will handle this miss who breezed 3 furlongs in 35-flat from the gate May 7, best of 34 at the distance.

Just think, fast working babies and it’s not even Saratoga. Bettors may not be interested in risking money on unknown quantities, which is fine. Horseplayers like me are willing to go to school, starting with the walking ring.

We’ll have handicapping coverage of both sprints with other races of interest on Saturday. Betting Man does not live on classics alone.

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11 Responses

  1. Those are good news; I think if outfits like NYRA adopted penny breakage, it would be great PR. I am aware that it would have to go through the politicians etc. however first, and it’s not as simple as NYRA changes it and it’s done. I would love to see other locales dip their toes into penny breakage and I would support them with my wagering dollar.

    As much as I love grass racing and all – and the Gulfstream link with Royal Ascot is a fantastic and exciting idea – Royal Ascot is another meet that is too intertwined in my mind with the Dubai royal family/Godolphin for me to want to entertain it. Of course, I am a hypocrite since I still play plenty of races in the US where Godolphin horses have a strong presence and all so it is a slippery slope – and if I was in SoFla instead of NY, believe me, I would be there right next to you in attendance for these new prep races. But anything and everything Dubai and their royal family related gives me a really bad feeling to put it way more nicely than I feel like putting it.

  2. First, yes, it is the states–most, not just New York, that would push back against penny breakage. And since tracks get to keep some portion of the 10% breakage in effect elsewhere, they probably would be reluctant, too–short sighted of course because future churn would more than make up for the short-term hit.

    So I guess you didn’t bet on Pretty Mischievous to win the Oaks? Yes, we’re trolling here, but I have far more issues with the Saudis than I do the Emirates. While rights repressive, I don’t think they execute their critics–though I might be naive here.

    Will take you one further, would you boycott trainers you suspect take a medication edge, permitted or not? Many would not and they have walked away.

    Saw a tweet I loved this morning: “I love horse racing as much as I hate horse racing.” Sadly, many I suspect feel the same.

    HISA, warts and all, is the only salvation, once problematic issues are addressed.

    And maybe then various HBPAs will work to correct problems instead of “appealing” to some corrupt conservative judge to declare a law unconstitutional at the drop of a gavel.

    1. You make fair points, and I admit that my sense of right and wrong can make me a pretty severe hypocrite at times. I do fully believe that the Dubai royal family are deplorable human beings, but that is not said to absolve the Saudis in any way. This was a very interesting story in The New Yorker that is very much worth your time:

      I agree that HISA is necessary for the simple fact that racing cannot be trusted to save themselves. And I’m still looking forward to those GP prep races.

      1. Hey Doc, by no means are you are a hypocrite in any way, and you rarely waste my time, so looking forward to reading the New Yorker piece…

  3. Looked at those races, BTW.

    Challenging, of course, but extremely interesting. Once research is done, will be looking for tote and paddock clues.

  4. Doc D, Thanks for the link. Contempible and Dispicable captures the leadership of Dubai well. Same for the Brits involved as they sold their souls for the money to be had. There’s just never enough to be had. Good luck to all of them as one day they will settle up the plus minus accounts with their Creator. Our time is short lived is my take, but our time will be the tool that evaluates all of us and determines our true worth. Funny how all the money in the end will equate to zero in terms of worth. I am as well hard pressed to have any interest in anything connected with the Dubai Royal Family including Godolphin. I will pass on their races as they only for me detract from the sport of thoroughbred racing.

    John, Love the tweet “I love horse racing as much as I hate horse racing” as well. Damned if we engage in all things racing, and damned if we do not. Damned if we do not wins out however, as I so wish I could be standing next to you on your outing later today to Gulfstream. Pen in hand, I would be standing next to you as horseplayers like me are also “willing to go to school, starting with the walking ring.”

  5. McD, will try to make good notes and pass along, try being the operative word.

    As for the rest of it, from my catechism I recall something about rich men and eyes of needles, the again I judge not, lest I be judged…

    Meanwhile, a safe and speedy journey to all!

  6. Thanks John.

    Content to wait on your future comments posted. No pressure mind you. Just enjoy the day. The youngsters are fun to watch, and sometimes you can “tell” just with how they look is all. Still a crap shoot, right. Then again, I don’t nothing Officer. Pricci is the guy you should be looking at. I might of “palmed” a few quarters as the collection basket passed in my younger days, but it was guys like Pricci that taught me how to lick my palm first, and then press the quarter firm into hand, lol. A quarter back in the day covered five candy bars is all. Given all that as lessons from the early gospel pages of our youth, take a look the all action you get at the track today. For only a buck or two, you still have a dream to run at. An exacta for a buck? Try buying a candy bar for a buck today?

    As for “time served” and evaluations in life, it will all come down to a game of one on one in stickball with the Creator. Spaldeens and no Pinkies. All your good pitches and your bad will be counted. If the good ones outweigh the bad, you got nothing to worry about, lol.

    P.S. Was it a Baltimore catechism, lol. That’s probably banned in Florida now as well. Adam & Eve, and the hang up with wearing clothing, etc.

    Riders Up ! Gotta go. Safe journeys to all.

    1. You’re wrong McD, never palmed a quarter in my life!

      I did however make a gesture that appeared I was putting money in the basket when in fact my hand was empty. No, I’m not proud of that.

      Spaldeens, absolutely. I HATED Pinkies! Soft, bad color, all of it.

      BTW: Stickball home runs were balls that cleared the roof of Walter Lamb’s house across 37th Ave.

      1. Guilty of many infractions along the way as well John, but never “palming quarters” at the church. A deceased friend and co-worker used to tell me that fable “with a wink in his eye”, as we made our way over to St. Peter’s by the Trade Center for the mid-week days of obligation Masses. I will admit to pinching a quarter or two off my Dad’s dresser on occasion however. Most of my transgressions were venial in scope, “mischievous” in nature, as opposed to malicious. Well look at that, I worked my way back Doctor Disaster and Godolphin’s Mischievous. Now their transgressions are indeed more mortal weighted.

        My deceased friend of old was also a John. He used to kid the Masters crowd of young techsters by saying that the Blue Rock on his hand was worth more than anything that ever came out of St. Johns. A Brooklyn Tech grad for the rock, and then he was off to Vietnam. The draft got quite a few of us back in the sixties. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Five Towns board was open to checks for anyone wishing a “bone spur” or two. Screw them, I was going in regardless. “If they got ya, they got ya.” I thought it more patriotic to serve. I didn’t have a clue as to how dishonent the war was. Hasn’t changed much since either. My “Honorable” Congressman now is none other than George Santos. There’s no consideration taking him out however, as his knowingly “corrupted vote” is needed bigly”. Best to wait out the process as “Everyone is indeed innocent, until proven otherwise.” Indeed. More oats already been through the horse. HORSESHXT is HORSESHXT!

        What a work ethic my buddy John had John. On his last work day of his “semi-forced downsizing” separation from the payroll, six others shook hands and departed at 10:30 AM. John worked his full tour to 5:00 PM. He said with a laugh, “the bastards paid me for eight, and I’m stayed for eight”. Same with his golf game, lol. He long claimed that he was the most honest person that ever played the game. “I never shot over a 103”, he would comment. At reaching 103, he merely picked up his ball and headed for the 19th hole. As for horseracing, he claimed he quit a winner there as well with two bucks to Win on “Stage Door Johnnie”.

        I recently helped his family by organizing and providing attestation records and having a claim successfully accepted by the WTC 911 litigation crowd for any compensation he is entitled to. He and I were both down in the six floor crater below the Vista Hotel, created in the first WTC bombing, and both of us worked the long extended recovery period during the second after the WTC collapse. I will always take great pride in the fact that I was the last person to place a flower on my close friends casket at his burial out on the East End. He served America and NYC quite well during his tour.

        “If I keep talking of John, he’ll never really be gone.” as I said recently to his daughter, “Your’re never really gone if someone is still talking about you.” Peace my friend.

        Please wish Toni a Wonderful Mother’s Day. You are now charged with all cooking and clean up for the day my friend. Now that would allow a few really good “Photos by Toni.” John on KP it is for the next 24.

        Happy Mothers Day to all families, and those that have lost, or are separated from their families as well.

  7. Quarters Up!

    RACE 6
    SU BOX

    RACE 6
    TR BOX

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