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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 15, 2023 — If it’s a graded turf stakes in New York and the pot in big enough, handicappers know they can count on Charlie Appleby to ship from “over there” to over here.

And given his rate of success, his runners will always be the ones to beat.

In this instance, it’s the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational and the filly is Eternal Hope (1-1), who prepped for this in Deauville AUG 20 following a brief freshening. Jockey Jamie Spencer is keeping her company on the trip over.

The Teofilo filly has won at 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs, meaning today’s 11-furlong trip should hit her squarely between the eyes.

Of the locals, the two with the best upset chance are Highland Grace and Speirling Beag, each rated at 5-1 on the early line.

Highland Grace is seeking her third straight, developing very well for Barclay Tagg, and she is a winner at the trip. Speirling Beag has not taken a backward step of the Thoro-Graph scale and won as a 2-year-old going 9 furlongs in Europe.

In her U.S. debut JUL 8, Speirling Beag was severely pace-comprised in a Grade 1 on the Belmont main course. She rates to improve here for Graham Motion.

We can’t go past this favorite. Even money would be a gift, as she likely will be 3-5 in the ante post market.

We’ll take exactas in reverse, an extra ticket with Eternal Hope on top, and will try to spice things up using Stephanie’s Charm (30-1) third to complete a trifecta.



The Skinny: Not going to stand in Bango’s way, who is 1-1 to become the winningest horse on this surface as he looks to improved his Churchill lifetime mark to 11-for-19.

Bango is fresh, has great spacing, and is positioned in the gate just outside his major rival. His fastest races have come on this surface; regular partner Tyler G is in the boot.

He must beat equally fresh Strobe (6-5), who also is fast and also likes it here. Godolphin runner goes for Box/Geroux team.

But we’re taking Bango to win, betting a cold 4-3 exacta.


The Skinny: Tyler G’s private little juggernaut highly likely to roll on here as Wicked Halo (3-5) has too much going for her in this spot. She’s 2-for-5 over the track and 3-for-5 at this trip. Her best runs are much faster than her rivals sand she returns from from Saratoga where she summered for the season to get ready for her fall campaign. This is a Steve Asmussen-trained sprinter; enough said.

Yuugirl (3-1) is a very worthy 4-for-5 at the trip, gets Prat, but note especially that Rodolphe Bisset is a profitable 29% efficient when switch from All-Weather to dirt.

Yet another short-priced projected winner and another cold exacta for us: 2-1.


The Skinny: No layovers here. Lots of fast babies, many with speedy pedigrees and this is a one-turn mile.

Not to overthink it, we’d be fairly surprised if a filly other than V V’s Dream (5-2), Youalmosthadme (2-1) or Hot Beach (7-2).

‘V.V’ broke maiden by daylight over the track then was beaten a half-length by Brightwork, a dual stakes winner at Saratoga and undefeated in four starts. By Mitole from a Tapit mare should get you a mile.

Youalmosthadme was third in that same race, Ellis’ Debutante, and won his previous two by open lengths including an early season Churchill stake. Tyler rides for Brad Cox.

Hot Beach beat the Cox filly in the Debutante, breaking her maiden in the process. We’ve been impressed by the offspring of Omaha Beach, she was rate-able on the stretch to 7 furlongs and returns going longer off a series of strong drills. The presence of Prat informs the lean here.

We’re betting Hot Beach to win, needed 5-2, at minimum, key-boxing the exacta with the two fillies above and will add price shot Riperton (12-1) to the trifecta mix.


The Skinny: Handicappers have learned to expect the unexpected in the first stakes for the following year’s three-year-olds. We, however, are not the clever.

We liked the way Todd Pletcher’s Union Roll (5-1) finished up to break maiden at Monmouth, lengthening stride perceptibly as if added ground will be appreciated, and he gets that here.

But two others will gain more attention: Risk It (2-1) was an impressive maiden breaker at Saratoga in stylish frontrunning style, earning the field’s top performance figure. Tyler gets the call on yet another Steve Asmussen speedster.

Now we don’t know what he beat at Colonial, but Proud Spirit (7-2was ) was the easiest of winners under a most confident rider, Jesus Castanon, who retains the mount.

Even from off the pace, the colt under complete control of the field. The fact the score came at 7 furlongs augurs well for the stretch to a flat mile.

We’re betting Patriot Sirit to win at 3-1 or greater and key-boxing exactas with his rivals above, an extra ducat with the favorite.



The Skinny: I’ll see your five Casse’s and raise you three Attards. Clement? What about him? Indeed, loaded doesn’t begin to describe today’s Canadian Group 1 for juveniles. But we’ve made our decision: A filly will lead them. Check out Airosa’s (7-2) last run;

Uncle Mo filly broke well, established her position, but had nowhere to launch approaching headstretch. Her rider waited. When an opening did develop inside, she shot through, got the lead and held it to the finish in a game performance.

Kevin Attard has also entered her in the G1 Natalma against her own kind but was able to secure Johnny V. for this assignment as the trainer is doing what he does best, in fact is profitable first time going long and going sprint to route. Undefeated in two starts on the WO course, she distributes her energy well.

Taking Airosa to upset at 4-1 or greater and key-boxing exactas with Casse’s fast-figure uber impressive My Boy Prince (3-1) and stablemate Bucyk (12-1), adding blinkers as Kimura climbs back aboard.

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

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2 Responses

  1. Thankfully, I mostly skip any track’s first week’s offerings, but this “Belmont at the big A” seems to have been a brutal sect of horseflesh. I wonder why more top name riders didn’t just go someplace else, or better yet, spend more time relaxing ..Too many cheap races and several scratches do not make for an interesting menu. It does not feel like Belmont, for other obvious reasons.Hopefully,there will be ” exciting” ,higher caliber competition coming up. This is not worthy of many horse players time, especially on a busy college football Saturday. As some college fan mentioned to me, ” Watching a minute, or minute and a half race, every thirty minutes , won’t get me excited. ” Ps: The football analyst in your site, how come he does not keep records of his wins/ losses ,at least , a season at a time. ? Very few did ,or do anymore. Every one shoots in the dark, and then again the following time.. No Cred .

  2. First, Marc Lawrence keeps a record of wins and losses on his site PlaybookSports,com, there is always a tally at the end of the year. Meanwhile, his Playbook selections are made approximately five days in advance which he updates with latest information–injury, line moves, and the like He allows us to pick and choose the best upsets of the week. additionally, I never have seen a database as complete as his, ever. And, finally, in an industry full of scoundrels he is an honest man, the reason we have remained friends for over two decades. (Marc was 2-1 Saturday, both underdogs winners on the field).

    As far as cards re concerned, not every meet can be Saratoga, NYRA has taken tremendous hits from Kentucky–extremely difficult to complete with those purses, most recently at Ky Downs and Churchill. Yesterday, you had a choice of stakes laden cards at CD and Woodbine. There is no dearth of top horses on any given simulcast Saturday. Things are bad now: Wait. First Breeders’ Cup then the Florida exodus at Thanksgiving time. And this is not new, been “normal” for some time now.

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