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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, November 30, 2023 – I must have had a psychological block as I forgot all about the Cigar Mile, probably because it’s no longer Grade 1—just another race with history that didn’t impress the what-have-you done-lately Graded Stakes Committee.

And I was distracted by the Claiming Crown—great betting races that I’ve been looking at all week because Fair Grounds entries are taken far in advance; terrific for fans and bettors but problematic for horseman vis a vis before-and-after legal-medication issues regarding lead times and such.

I’m excited, too, to see the new local turf course in action and curious about the Tropical Turf Pick 3 on the three final grass races on weekend cards. I’ve resisted playing the sequence in other jurisdictions but might give this a go because it’s live championship-meet racing with an attractive 15% takeout.

This weekend we shall offer up some down-and-dirty selections at select tracks with limited analysis. Starting at our old stomping grounds and the All Graded Stakes late Pick 4


G2 DEMOISELLE                                                                          Race 7

WORTHY FAVORITE:  7-Shimmering Allure (7-2) impressed Tempted prep over the track.

BEST VALUE:  5-Vino Rouge (8-1) great conditioning, long pedigree, good blinkers barn.

EXOTICA:  3-Life Talk (8-5)

G3 GO FOR WAND                                                                         Race 8

WORTHY FAVORITE:  7-Good Sam (5-2) 3-for-3 in Queens

BEST VALUE:  2-Dr B (4-1) defending Go for Wand titlist

EXOTICA:  6-Gerrymander (2-1), 5-Tizzy in the Sky (7-2), 3-Venti Valentine (12-1)

G2 REMSEN                                                                                   Race 9

WORTHY FAVORITE:  3-Dornoc (5-2) a natural talent at the trip

BEST VALUE:  6-Billal (12-1) excellent development, progression, pedigree and blinkers off works

EXOTICA:   8-Where’s Chris (6-1)

G2 CIGAR MILE                                                                            Race 10

WORTHY FAVORITE:  2-Senor Buscador (7-2) class relief, one turn mile suits well, brilliant work

BEST VALUE:  7-Three Technique (8-1) also class relief, also suited by one-turn mile, well drawn, Javier good fit.

EXOTICA:   11-Hoist The Gold (8-1)



WORTHY FAVORITE: 9-Me and Mr. C (5-2) class relief, loves GP Tapeta, attracts Zayas

BEST VALUE: 5-Skyro (6-1) showed high promise on GP synth, dropping from G2, Bravo a plus

EXOTICA: 2-Volcanic (9-2), 1-Armstrong (6-1), 6-Novo Sol (3-2)



WORTHY FAVORITE: 7-Perhaps Tonight (7-2) dividends for new Amoss acquisition

BEST VALUE: 1-Dana’s Beauty (8-1) recent Sharp claim exits live race, worked very well

EXOTICA: 8-Strong Odor (4-1)


WORTHY FAVORITE: 4-Time for Trouble (7-2) loves this trip

BEST VALUE: 6-Knight’s Cross (8-1) highly competitive figures

EXOTICA: 13-Proverb (4-1), 1-Casey’s Memory (15-1)


WORTHY FAVORITE: 2-Mischievous Rogue (3-1) top ship-in connects, fast work, loves trip

BEST VALUE: 4-Tilted Towers (8-1) another ship-to-win barn, good fit this level

EXOTICA: 6-Smithwick’s Spice (20-1), 5-Rebel Posse (15-1), 11-Cotton (8-1)

this live column will be updated throughout the weekend

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24 Responses

  1. From the first Saturday in December, all the way to the first Saturday in May, “They’re off.” The Remsen offers quite a collection of potential Derby starters today. Several in this field may begin to stand out as the distances get longer. I will be watching with interest on how Dornoch, Moonlight, and Drum Roll Please each finish today. The latter two runners I picked up tickets on in Future Pool #1 back in November. My minimum on any future wager this far out is 50-1, and I will be content just to make it into the Derby field to be honest. The futures are stretch I know, but it is nonetheless fun watching and “owning an interest” in few longshots on the Derby Trail.

    Another of your selections that I did not wager on in the future pool, but will be watching is Bentornato at Gulfstream Race 5. Passed on his odds being well south of the fifty yard line.

    Safe journey to all today.

  2. First things first, McD. Bentornato was terrible. I had my doubts as to his distance running ability and allowed the trainer to tout me. I’ll have to stay in my lane. I do believe you saved a deuce there.

    As for the Remsen, the first two finishers raced very well, indicating that 10 furlongs may be in their respective wheelhouses.

    I, too, like to dabble in Derby Futures, but I wasn’t feeling it for anyone at post time, although I do have a few I’m keeping my eye on. More as the season lengthens…

  3. Got Hoist the Flag in gimmicks off JV ‘ s experience and how many big races he has won by going to the lead, but what was Outstanding were the brisk workouts of that same horse. Speed favoring track, fast 4F workouts, veteran rider on a horse which was one of the top five to be considered: What are we waiting for at inviting odds ? It feels good! Ps: Ms Linda Rice is reaching and breaking new records by mainly claiming horses off anyone from any track. Congrats !

    1. Unfortunately, public handicappers don’t know the bias before the day starts. Had we known, would have sided with the runner with more early speed. But then playing results are a lot easier; I’m never wrong after the fact…

  4. Ps: A I’m watching a horse named Un Ojo getting ready for the sixth Big A race, don’t ask me why but Jimmy Breslin’ s name and voice comes to mind.. As a former New York area writer/handicapper who also must have appreciated that open writing style of his, another Queens guy, I believe , wonder if that similar , distant thought crossed over your memory lanes. Miss those brilliant, better days of my life, including buying all three competing dailies with dazzling columnists , from the sport pages to the metro area news, with bold exaggerated headlines, of course. Some of them changed more than once in the same day… ( New York Post, especially)!.

    1. Breslin WAS quintessential New York, no question. My big go-to was Pete Hamill, especially back in his NY Post days. And, of course, always read Dick Young–because I hardly ever agreed with his point of view!

      1. By mentioning Dick Young, others columnists writers names come to mind, like Zimmerman, Kerrison, Pepe, Vecsey ,Jacobson ,Lupica and others and some
        of them specialized in one sport,whether it was boxing, baseball or football. It was interesting when one writer would disagree with another one,,, in the same paper. Wasn’t there another, albeit minor, Hamill, Dennis , if my memory is correct ? Many people disagreed with Young, and just like Howard Cosell, he got his share of attention, kind of Steven A. Smith today, as he gets rewarded some $ 11 mil$ plus for his gigs. Did horse racing ever have a ‘ name’ columnist who made waves in print media circles besides your friend Harvey Pack ?? Hoist the Flag: Did you check those 47,and 48 4F workouts ? Til next time…

        1. Yes there was a Dennis Hamill.

          JG, But I was remiss and glad you came up with names that were must-read for me: ALL that you named, but especially, Kerrison and especially :Lupica. And if you included Jacobson, then Stan Isaacs was a must, one of the original “chipmunks.”

          They were the new breed of reporters that challenged the establishment, so to speak, and they changed the face of sports journalism forever.

          He wasn’t controversial, but Red Smith wrote about racing and he liked it for all the treasure trove of stories.. Also William H (Bill) Rudy of the Post was a favorite read in the afternoon editions of the Post on the subway home from the city…

          1. Do not remember Rudy, but Smith and some other NYTimes writers were mentioned by our creative writing teacher as examples of good writing prose. Isaacs: i was going to mention him BUT, besides his ice cream lists i could not remember any other columns . Yes, those everchanging front pages of the Post to attract all of those commuters going returning home.. There is NO present sports columnist name that i can think of who might direct me first to his column as it was then. Geez, even in sports radio/television there is someone who sticks out. They re all robotic ,repeated mouthpieces acting out and blabbering between those long commercials. There is NO Arthur Rust Jr by the microphone ! Arthur WHO ? Heard that question so many times…They might even have the same reaction with Red Smith… {” Was he a wrestler?”} .

  5. JP–
    While the $500,000 Cigar Mile has been relegated to Grade II status, I see that the $300,000 Hollywood Derby and the $300,000 Matriarch Stakes retained their Grade I status at Del Mar this weekend. And in the Matriarch, Chad Brown shipped 4 fillies out to California to compete in the 12 horse field. And predictably, they finished 1, 2, 3 ,4 with the “other” Chad beating the “other other” Chad beating the “other other other” Chad with the 9-5 favorite Chad completing your superfecta!
    If you boxed Chad’s 4 runners in the triple you received $368 for $1 and if you boxed Chad for the super, you received $1,062 for $1.
    All money is green–especially when it is “Brown”!

    1. Shame on me for not checking out the Matriarch, only the Hollywood Derby. As a West Coast betting fan, I’m sure you had a good day. Good on you Chuck!

    2. Amazing feat by the ‘the Chadster’…Oh well, at least it wasn’t Baffert 1-2-3-4…Remember Linda did that in Saratoga a few years back?

  6. Chuck is excellent at wading through those California pp’s as I’ve heard, but there’s rumor around Saratoga that he is as proficient at the harness tracks as well.
    I have been watching racing for many many years, and Saturdays Remsen was an outstanding display by 2 really terrific 2 year olds.
    Sierra Leone, to me, was best but hung a bit after being dead last, 12-13 lengths out, and then going 8 wide against a dead inside speed bias. Certainly MY Winter Derby pick… Bred to go 10 panels, to boot.

  7. Sonny, agree with your Remsen analysis and both colts should be on everyone’s Derby radar. ‘Leone’ might give Brown his first Derby, we shall see…
    Chuck is a proficient harness handicapper and has had much success as as owner of trotters–as opposed to pacers–as well.

  8. JG, Bill Rudy was more of a feature columnist, seldom taking on issues. But he was a writers’ writer and was sophisticated when assessing talent and pedigrees.

    I do remember Art Rust, who was the lead in for “The Schmoozer’s” overnight program.

    Stan’s ice cream columns were legendary–chocolate only you may remember–and his investigative days mostly were behind him when at Newsday where primarily he was an editor as was a sports television critic. But his favorite race was the Belmont and he never missed a Belmont week assignment.

    Think you forgot a TV and radio sports voice; here’s a hint: “Let’s go to the video tape!” He said it early and often. Give up?

    Warner Wolf

    1. …and Mr G was at the game ! What a crew with Grimsby,Antoine,and then Mr G ,JJ Johnson,Geraldo Rivera, Roseann Scamardella,Bill Beutel,etc.. killing the competition. We `d we watching them from our first pizza place and customers did not mind since ,maybe,most of them would watch that news program at home. A few months ago, when i last visited relatives on L.I. Mr G was still doing the weather as the last of that highly paid group. Rivera was kicked off Fox a few months ago. Wolf’s excuses for picking the wrong team was ;” Well if you`d go against my picks ,you would have been rich ” ! Some of the ” best yrs of our lives” ,as that wonderful movie title suggested. Thanks!

    2. Warner Wolf has a few minute spot on WOR-NY radio every Monday AM. Len Berman/Michael Reidl show… 6 to 10AM.
      You can get on Heart app..
      He now lives in Florida, is a pickle ball aficionado and still has his wit.
      John: Remember Bill Nack at Newsday? Just read his article when they put Ruffian down..

      1. Sonny, good to hear Warner still has a voice. Good on him.

        Remember Bill Nack? He was a dear friend, even if he weren’t instrumental in getting me an interview with Newsday back in the day.

        The Ruffian piece, and his book on her, are indelible in my mind. I think of him often. He did a column from the Super Bowl when it was in Miami in the early days, and interviewed an old senior citizen living very modestly on Collins Ave.

        It was written in juxtaposition to the excesses of the Super Bowl party; a classic, Nack at his best…

  9. JP/Sonny–
    Will be looking forward to Sierra Leone’s next race. Will the path to the Derby go through NY for a change??
    And you are correct, my interaction with the world of harness racing is focused on the diagonal gait. Looking forward to watching my yearling trotters train up here this winter in the frozen tundra of Saratoga while you both bask in the Florida sunshine……

    1. Chuck,

      There is some chance it could go through New York. The hint comes the next time Sierra Leone is entered. It could start with the WIthers; Brown has used the NY route before, although at some point the colt will probably wind up at Keeneland

  10. Let’s not forget Jerry Girard on PIX, especially on the news after a Yankee win. The sports segments on Channel 11 were so long that they had a commercial break in the middle of them! Those were the days, as Norman Lear’s man would say, May he rest in peace.. Now, sports news in Florida, if they have one at all, is comprised of one local high school football game. Sad.

    1. All this makes one pine for simpler, and in many ways, better days, Les. We soldier on here at HRI!

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