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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


A funny thing happened on the way to the Belmont Stakes day program: Southern California broke out!

In addition to the *Belmont Stakes, there are five graded stakes on Saturday’s race card, three of them Grade 1, a Grade 2 and a Grade 3.

And how many horses will particulate in this glut of graded splendor? Drum roll, please… 32, 10 from the Belmont notwithstanding.

Sing after me: Where have all good horses gone, long time passing, where have all good horses gone, long time ago, where have all good horses gone, out of town most every one, when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

But this is not a NYRA or a Santa Anita problem, this is an industry-wide problem thanks to the top of the sales market. There are too many places to ship to, too many “big horses” to duck.

“Step right up, folks, get your black type here.” But then why is it so hard to find horses that can compete at the highest levels of the sport on this side of the Atlantic? Damned if I know.

I can’t figure, e.g., why the 7-furlong G1 Woody Stephens only drew five entrants. There wasn’t one superhorse to duck. Steve Asmussen saddles two of the five, including early favorite Echo Town (9-5). We’ll continue whining about this another day.

Instead, we will effort to make some money on the Belmont day card. We think the best chance to make a lot for a little is in the late Pick 4. If our philosophy is correct, and the selections good, the reward will be worth the risk.

RACE 9: Anyone see Oleksandra’s runnerup finish in the G2 Monrovia? Left with too much to do, which is her style, and that of partner Joel Rosario, she roared home too late, making up six lengths in the stretch going 5-1/2 furlongs.

The extra sixteenth helps Oleksandra (7-2), as she’s 2-for-3 at the trip and her next defeat on Belmont turf would be her first in three starts. Moving into a Grade 1 against males, she drops 7 pounds to 117, not insignificant. Would take 5-2 straight if necessary.

And we’ll single her in the Pick 4, taking that same stand with Tiz the Law (6-5), so, two singles to start the sequence. After that it’s spread city, hoping to get lucky by going deep in a pair of inscrutable races.

RACE 11: NX3/Optional Claiming Allowances, 9F, Inner Turf

Too many are coming off layups, some extended, competitive vs. one another on figures, most hailing from top return barns with top riders:

Using both Pletchers [Largent (5-2) and Pillar Mountain (8-1)], Talk Or Listen (10-1), Breaking the Rules (6-1), Red Right Hand (15-1), Monarchs Glen (10-1) and Digital Age (3-1).

RACE 12: New York-Bred Allowances, 3 & up, 6F, Inner Turf

Typical turf sprint; very competitive, diverse styles, more layup, top connections–second verse, same as the first:

Using either or both Clement runners [Veterans Beach (4-1), Fly Fly Away (4-1)], Crack Shot (3-1), Simply (6-1), Qian B.C. (5-1), Turbo Drive (8-1), Power Up Paynter (15-1) and also-eligible What the Luck (12-1).

50-Cent P4: 2 // 8 // 1, 2, 3, 4, 6. 7, 9 // 1/1A, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, AE-13 = $21

See Saturday’s Feature Race Analysis section for our Belmont Stakes betting strategy

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⚠ 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.

20 Responses

  1. So, Mr. Pricci, instead of giving me your selection as to what blue blood is gonna win a race, you want me to get involve in a pick four which is a ridiculous bet won by a very low percentage of horseplayers.

    You write about the card as ‘a glut of graded splendor’; Then you sing ‘where have all the good horses gone’; then ‘why is it so hard to find horses that compete at the highest level’. What to hell is a GOOD horse? Every race in this screwed up country, from the plater that finishes first to the plug that staggers home last is between two and three seconds! Seconds! Aren’t they all good horses, all brothers and sisters, sired by the same stallions?

    Why have you abandoned handicapping? A horseplayer s/be concentrating on selecting ONE plodder that in their judgement figures as best; to go beyond that, to attempt to ‘cap the horse that will run second is, to me, foolhardy. Of course, there are now numerous exotic bets offered which are merely sucker bets and you will read how many bettors ‘hit’ them; but over the long haul betting such leads to bankruptcy.

    Sure, you may win the pick four tomorrow, but you will know in your heart that you have abandoned serious ‘capping, suckered in to the exotic bets dreaming about the ‘big’ score.

    1. Wmc, you pulled me back in ! Reminded me,while my semolina bread Is baking,at 2 am, the various S.Christ,M.Wanamaker who started this talk of Horizontal gimmicks yrs ago. Personally,never fell x it.I play Lottos when the million$ are more than the prob.odds of 300 million to One.✌️ Santa Aniha has too many races with few starters but it s nothing new in racing today nor yesterday.I used to make tum of Laurel x the same reasons which reminded of a friends of mine,racing car driver who calls many Nascar people ” Welfare ” riders and owners and if you notice boa much they receive by coming in well behind the winners,and even Last,they usually get over $90 k,,just to show up,kind of.Same in horse racing,,Why not?Outta six entrants if you beat one or two of them it pays x the trouble 😆!

  2. $10
    I have a minute to take some editing care:

    S. Crist
    M. Watchmaker
    felt x it ???
    baking, at
    tum of Laurel x ???
    mine, racing
    “Welfare ” riders and owners ???
    boa much ???
    winners, and even last, they
    90k,,just show up,kind of.Same ???
    racing,,Why not?Outta ???
    pays x the trouble ???
    Nni ???

    This has been a PSA (public service announcement).

    Further examples of lack of care and respect for the HRI audience in the comment section by anyone eventually will be deleted 😊

    1. George, We both got a little lucky but especially you. The bet cost me $18 as the AE drew in. Glad he didn’t win for your sake!

      1. Congrats x the Horizontal Pick ! It’s good to be lucky and good especially when making selections well ahead of Post Time ! Question x you,JP,if I may.. Is the last race,Usually,the most difficult to Hit especially if trying to Hit Exactas,triples,etc since it usually is a cheap race with many unknown qualities?

        1. That’s why we were alive with six horses in the finale, though I did like the winner a little–Rice going to a grass sprint; won her a training title in Saratoga!

  3. Nice Call John!

    $0.50 PICK FOUR 2/8/2/10 $427.75

    Posted just in case the naysayers might be looking. How about that, Totebuster nails it once again! Congratulations John.
    Happy for you my friend. And thanks for the Race 9 Double as well.

  4. Tiz the Law was wonderful – he deserved this! I was soo happy with Max Player’s effort – he is still green, but he closed very well to be third, and he looks like he will thrive at the mile and a quarter of the Derby.

    Can’t wait for Tiz and Honor A.P. to face off!

    The trainers have a difficult road to hoe, I think. They have to build their colts to peak on Derby day, but then have to maintain that peak to the Breeder’s Cu.

    1. I think I disagreed with you once before, and so far it’s Betsy 2 Pricci 0. You were right about Max, he ran great! And with continued development there are more graded stakes in his future.

      I thought of you as I was thinking about the Belmont result, that–all things behng equal–my only worry would be Honor A. P.

  5. By the way, I am very hesitant to overreact to a big performance, but do you think we saw what I think we saw from Gamine yesterday? Granted it was a 1 turn mile, but the stretch run gave me Arrogate Travers flashbacks.

    Granted as a 3yo filly with 3 races under her belt she’d be getting a toughness test if they decide to try the boys on the dirt, I think she might pass that test: first off, she appears to be quite large. Secondly I was watching her on the track and she was trying to gouge the throat of the horse leading her to the gate. Went after the rider too when he tried to assist Johnny V in getting her head turned away. I thought either this horse is upset today and leaving her race on the track before it starts, or this is one tough, super aggressive SOB. I have no doubt that she Intimidated the rest of the Acorn field before the gates even opened.

    Nothing against Tiz the Law, but when Tyson is on the undercard, you don’t remember much of the main event

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