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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing



Here’s the first sectional match-up of the day: an East vs. Midwest tilt between Covfefe, faster than a speeding bullet on Fifth Ave, and Come Dancing, a local resident who New Yorkers actually like.

My heart is with Carlos Martin, a press box regular as a young lad back in the day, but my head tells me Covfefe. Neither filly will make anyone rich but they should get Breeders’ Cup XXXVI off to a very fast start.

Joel Rosario needs to break sharply away from the barrier so that Covfefe can assume a stalking position outside. Any other trip, aside from a wire job, could spell trouble.

Come Dancing has better position in mid-gate, giving Javier Castellano more options. At some point, something will give. It’s not just about speed, it’s about trip; one has drawn the rail and Selcourt is a very fast fly in everyone’s ointment. I have no idea. Gun to temple: Covfefe for the win.

Will key both on top in exactas and trifectas, including Selcourt (10-1) and 7-furlong, track-loving Bellafina (6-1).


The strength in this race is both way outside and way inside. Some parimutuel craziness might occur here, even among logical contenders Pure Sensation (5-1), Totally Boss (5-1) and Imprimis (8-1).

Eddie Haskell (9-2) is an SA turf-sprint specialist I like very much but was hurt by the #10 slip; he is an exacta inclusion. From the outside, Final Frontier (6-1), Belvoir Boy (12) and Om (15-1) can win this if they can trip out. That’s right, I just named seven horses, exactly half the field.

Right now, our win/place play is Totally Boss to win at 9-2 or more. Pure Sensation (his best figures only at Parx, making me dubious and CC is winless at BC) and Imprimis (third off layup, short of condition and tough trips, now picks up the great Dettori) will be used equally in exacta boxes.

Will key Totally Boss first and second in Dime Supers with those mentioned. This is a bet in progress, need to see how turf is playing.


It’s Omaha Beach (8-5) against the world–with or without the Kurds. He may be the best three-year-old in training, or the best dirt horse in America; skies the limit. One mile should be perfect, even with a slight regression from a fast, taxing event.

But there are money-making opportunities depending on what else happens here. It may be a fool’s errand but I will not be using Improbable (3-1) in the exacta. Bullet Bob loves him, me not so much and, either way, a likely underlay.

The horses we want, and will make a small exacta key box with are Mr. Money (6-1) [love how he’s training] and Great Expectations (12-1) [excellent Pat O’Brien placing; getting the pole, dynamics and Jose Ortiz] underneath in a serious manner.

For super-exotics, third and fourth behind ‘Omaha’, using Diamond Oops (15-1), Blue Chipper (20-1), Coal Front (6-1) and Improbable. [If Mr. Money looks as good as he’s been training, will entertain a win bet at 6-1 or more].


On paper, there’s no beating defending champion Sistercharlie (8-5). In fact, no one has since JUL 21, 2018. Six straight Grade 1 victories; any ground, hot pace, slow pace, nothing stops her. She comes in second off a short layup and a race in which she ran her final quarter-mile in a conservative 22.40.

But there are three mares in here which we will hook up in key exacta boxes with improving European 3-year-old, Iridessa (8-1), course-loving Vasilika (8-1), loved her Keeneland prep, and Mrs. Sippy (8-1), also pace compromised in the Flower Bowl.

Beyond that, we will fill super-exotics with Fanny Logan (15-1) for Team Gosden/Dettori; Castle Lady (15-1), great AM energy at SA, and Billesdon Brook (10-1), fresh and in here off GR 1 score at Newmarket (10-1).

We’re not looking to bet against this favorite but if the crowd makes what I believe is a mistake and dismisses one of my exacta-box fillies, I could dip my beak into the win pool.


No surprises here, unless one of the ‘Big Three’, Mitole (9-5), Imperial Hint (4-1) and Shancelot (4-1) is beaten. As for wiseguy horse Catalina Cruiser (4-1), believe that he’s overrated given today’s dynamics which, of course, means step right up and bet! But I won’t be–third and fourth only for me.

Of the Big Three, it’s really the ‘Big One’, Mitole. The rider was fortunate to keep him on the ground in his most recent gallop; he’s a monster right now and can’t see any rival getting the best of him. If the crowd doesn’t go overboard, this is one favorite I could bet straight.

I will use him in two exacta position with the ‘Big Two’, pressing on top, of course. In super-exotics, will sprinkle in the AM-energetic, longer Asmussen, Engage (15-1). and Catalina Cruiser.


No comparisons intended but it appears Mark Casse has another super turf filly on his hands. It wasn’t so much her tour de force in the Fourstardave at the Spa as it was, for me, her placing in Toronto. A victim of circumstances, she raced 4-wide throughout, 5-wide into the lane and held grimly for place over ground that did not appear to suit her.

Anyway, she will hear her tootsies rattle today, has tactical speed, has looked great in the video from Santa Anita. Her talent, speed and athletic heart should give Tyler Gaffalione all the options necessary to score here with Got Stormy (7-2).

She will need to be on her game in this always difficult test of she wants to handle the boys again, among them talented and classy Circus Maximus (3-1), who has the look of a fresh, pointed individual, not an Aidan O’Brien afterthought. He wins on soft [GR 1 Prix du Moulin and firm, GR 1 St. James Palace, passing the eyeball test in deep stretch]. Three year-old gets 3 pounds on the scale, Ryan Moore, and blinkers.

Uni (7-2) put on quite a show at Keeneland but her wide draw and tight turns do her no favors here, making her worth trying to beat. Below? Yes. On top? Not for me. I’m going on record with Got Stormy for the win and a partial exacta wheel with the two choices boxed, and over Uni.

But I’m not sure what I’ll do until I see the tote the post parade, deciding between the filly and the 3-year-old. But I will key them on top in exactas with Uni, Space Traveller (12-1) a fresh, pointed 3-year-old on the rise, and hickory game Lord Glitters (12-1), who will need luck from his wide draw, will fill out the exotics below.


It’s hard to imagine Midnight Bisou (6-5) not being made of iron. She ships everywhere, wins everywhere, returns to Santa Anita where she owns three wins and a placing in four starts and looks the absolute picture of health; bright and professional every time we’ve caught a glimpse.

She looks prohibitive, but after her things gets interesting. Secret Spice (10-1) is fast enough, a tactical speedster with an advantageous draw, picks up Johnny, is fresh, loves SA (7) 3-2-1 and hails from a barn [Baltas] that’s profitable in LAY 2 scenarios. And reading from my workout notes: “pressed two mates in hand while uncommonly relaxed, quickened nicely and finished well comfortably.”

We will throw no shade Dunbar Road‘s way (6-1), who never left the fence at Keeneland, or at Ollie’s Candy (15-1), another fresh filly that “cruised by her mate on the turn” one morning, and John Sadler reaches out for one of his main men, Joel Rosario.

Those two fillies could be interesting if their straight prices are high enough and are exacta players, of course. We’ll take Blue Prize for third in trifectas.


By Saturday night, Bricks And Mortar (9-5) could be the Horse of the Year and he will have deserved it, given that he would be 6-for-6 this season with this win being his fifth Grade 1.

Everybody is asking the mile and a half question, including trainer Chad Brown, yet here he is. I see Giant’s Causeway on one side and Ocean Crest on the other so I don’t see the problem. If he can’t do it here, then he can’t do it anywhere.

Old Persian (4-1), ridden with disdainful confidence while prepping for this at Woodbine, and Anthony Van Dyke (3-1), a fresh, multiple GR 1-winning 3-year-old, reuniting with Ryan Moore and Lasix, will be part of key-boxed exactas, pressing the favorite.

Zulu Alpha (20-1), a price-shot rebounder with Jose O pole-sitting, and Channel Maker (10-1) always firing and getting Johnny, are super-exotic fillers.


The only time McKinzie (3-1) raced a mile and a quarter at Santa Anita, he was beaten a nose in the Santa Anita Handicap, coming the final quarter-mile in 24.80. I’m not going to punish him for that.

McKinzie has never been out of the exacta in seven starts here, with three wins, and that 5-furlong workout in 1:00.20, best of 41 that morning, was more of a gallop out than five-eighths. Can’t knock ‘Money Mike’ but Rosario was made to ride this horse.

I think Mr Mott will tighten the girth on two very live horses: the filly Elate (6-1), getting three pounds, 3-for-3 at the trip and coming in off an easier schedule than last year’s, and Yoshida (8-1), who I never expected to like but who also has looked super in his trials.

Three-year-old Code of Honor (4-1) will be a very tough out, but he must take another step up to beat this contentious group. Of course, he will be part of a exacta key box with McKinzie, as will the Mott duo.

Vino Rosso (4-1), looking well and 1-for-1 here, Higher Power (6-1), back at his winnning trip, and War of Will (20-1), ferocious in blinkers, will be part of the super-exotics mix.

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5 Responses

  1. In a race where all have holes in their resumes, will take a shot at a long shot, War of Will to take the BC Classic on the front end, and throw the three year old picture upside down.

  2. Well, Den, 3-year-old picture still scrambled after Classic, except for one thing. Maximum Security has been the most controversial but most consistent who knows where the wire is; loves to win! He gets my 3-year-old vote right now and depending on the results of the Cigar Mile…

    1. Bricks and Mortar or Mitole in a photo for HOY honors, JP. The owner of Breeders Cup winner climbing fence at Garden State when young brought back memories. Would do the limbo under a fence near RR to save the parking fee. You can’t make this stuff up. Then would hear Jack Lee announce, “this field is at the starting gate…” “Governor Skipper, Rambling Willie, Falcon Almahurst all try for the early lead…” Once was near the rail late on rainy night (The Big M) when Cam Fella came like a freight train to win. This was a monster harness horse (loved water, as Marty liked to say).

  3. Mal, I believe the phrases were “the field is on gate,” followed by “the field is in motion.” Spent many nights at the harness races in college and when first married. Toni and I had dinner at the Promenade Cafe (?) every Saturday night; Scowl-faced Louie sat us and Leon Wilson took great care of us at the table.

    Anyway, agree that ultimately I will come down to the two you mentioned but believe voters will side with a turf horse over a sprinter. Mitole of course in the conversation for best older dirt male but ballot splitting of sorts (Mitole sprinter, Vino Rosso two-turn older male) would be fair and balanced. Both deserve recognition.

  4. Johnny Chapman in the bike. Merritt “Butch” Dokey, too. John, there was a guy who worked the cafeteria at both Yonkers and RR. He would scoop up what you asked for and hand you the plate. Then, at the cash register he would tap a quarter on the stainless steel countertop as a way to “persuade” you to leave a tip. Hey, sometimes you have to be aggressive. Roosevelt was a beautiful track back then and I would laugh when Jack Lee would announce a larger than usual trifecta payout: “The 8-7-6 combination pays six THOUSAND dollars (emphasis on “thousand”). Another memory is when there was a teller’s strike at Aqueduct and replacements were called in to work the windows. I was on the 2nd floor in what was the clubhouse back then and presented a winning ticket (a rare winning ticket) to the teller. When the $500.00 in hundred dollar bills was handed to me I heard a familiar voice say, “congratulations.” It was track announcer Marshall Cassidy doing double duty as a teller. True story.

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