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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, June 15, 2023 – Monmouth Park’s All-Stakes Pick 4 begins with the actual prep for the Grade 1 Haskell on Preview Saturday, the listed Pegasus Stakes at 1-1/16 miles, a race attracting not one but two Todd Pletcher trainees, including Kentucky Derby pacesetter Kingsbarns (8-5).

As even casual fans know, this is the colt who set impossible early factions while under pressure at Churchill Downs, understandably giving way thereafter. Prior to that came three straight victories. Obviously he will appreciate the class relief he gets here and looms the most probable winner.

Stablemate Classic Catch (3-1) is very interesting, the strongest finisher in the eight-horse lineup who figures to benefit from anything near a lively pace, He is pole sitting with perennial leading rider, Paco Lopez.

The “longer Pletcher” would be no major surprise. The Classic Empire colt has worked thrice since finishing fourth in Arcangelo’s Peter Pan. The second turn suits well here.

We’re giving a possible upset look at Howgreatisnate (6-1), who won the prep for today’s prep, taking an immediately liking to his first start on today’s surface, the Long Branch being his first run since the trainer change to Elizabeth Dobles.

Exacta and trifecta boxes seem like the best parimutuel approach in the hopes that re-riding Jairo Rendon can either split or top the formidable Pletcher duo.


The Skinny: When you review Malavath’s last race, who finished last of five in her first start for Christophe Clement, in her 4YO debut, you’ll note she bore no resemblance to the filly who was competitive in two Breeders’ Cup events. Which Malavath do we get?

Chad Brown has two in here, seasonal debuting G1 winner Gina Romantica (3-1) and Consumer Spending (7-2), who was a game second behind mate Marketsegmentation in the Beaugay most recently. This is somewhat easier; we erring on the side of recency here.

The filly with the best form in 2023 is Shug McGaughey’s Surprisingly (7-2), but who now is paying the price of her Grade 3 score at Tampa as the 124 pound highweight. Paco will help, but we’ll take the six pounds.

Betting Consumer Spending to win at 5-2 or greater, and key-boxing her first and second in trifectas with the three fillies named above.


The Skinny: The best betting race of the four stakes which is to say is extremely open, any one of six would not surprise us. Petulante (9-2)) is 3-for-5 lifetime including 2-for-2 at the trip, but both wins came around one turn.

Nimitz Class (7-2) is riding a five-race win streak, all coming around two turns in listed company: Jevian Toledo has been aboard for all five scores. Artorius (3-1) won the Curlin Stakes after breaking maiden at Saratoga and was 8-1 vs. Epicenter in the Travers. This is easier, of course, but it’s also season’s debut from a wide draw.

Of the three price shots that remain, Octane (10-1) ships in off an impressive flat-mile score vs classified allowance rivals but has acquitted himself well in two of three starts around two bends, including a win and a placing.

We’ll open with a three-horse exacta box: Nimitz Class, Petulante and Octane, and will survey the dynamics that have had an edge on the day and any hints that the tote board reveals. Spread’em Dan-o.


The Skinny: Of the four stakes, past performances indicate that this is a steppingstone for some of the name brand contenders. Clearly, that’s the case for Tribhuvan (9-5), making his 2023 debut. Two things, however: He won a Grade 1 on this course wire to wire, no one can match his high early speed, he’s pole sitting with position conscious ‘Flo’, and has won off long layups. The point is he could prep and still win.

Never Explain (3-1) won the G3 Dinner Party on the Preakness undercard but pays the price as the 124-pounds highweight. Of the remainder, Jimmy Toner nearly shocked the world with Commandeer (5-1) at 31-1 last out, has worked well subsequently, and has attracted Paco. But Dynadrive (8-1) peaks our interest. He distributes his energy well, can kick home, is 1-for-1 on this course, is a six-time turf winner and should move forward of his G2 debut at Belmont and gets Nik Juarez on the re-ride. Cabin (7-2) gets Rosario but we want to see a bit more at those early line odds.

Betting Dynadrive to win at anything near early line odds–minimum 6-1, and key-boxing exactas with the top contenders favorably rated above.



It won’t take long to find the deserving favorite in Saturday’s G2 Bed o‘ Roses at Belmont Park, not with last year’s champion female sprinter Goodnight Olive signed on.

And not when you consider that she won her only trip over Big Sandy and is a very worthy 5-for-6 at the 7 furlong trip—and not when you also consider what happened to her at Churchill Downs last out.

Irad Ortiz Jr. was loaded with filly as the G1 Derby Distaff straightened away at headstretch. Ortiz sat on the fence, waiting for an opening to turn her loose, a clear path that never materialized. Completely trapped, he had no choice but to wait until the next dance.

Belmont affords a lot more running room than does Churchill, but neither Ortiz nor Chad Brown can be pleased with having drawn the pole position, even in a field of five. And know he will be surrounded once again but will be mindful of moving outside at the first opportunity.

But even if all goes smoothly, the champion is no layover, not with Caramel Swirl (5-2) who’s racing in the best form of her career at age 5, no surprise when Bell Mott is calling the shots. He knows something about getting horses to peak at that age. See Belmont Stakes day results.

Caramel Swirl comes off a completely comprehensive score in the G3 Vagrancy here on May 14. When ready Junior Alvarado tipped 5-wide entering the lane where the mare showed an electric turn of foot that enabled her to inhale rivals at midstretch, winning with ears pricking and geared down.

The Union Rags mare is at home given the dynamics, as she owns a (3) 2-1-0 slate on this surface and is (8) 4-2-1 at the trip. She breezed very well in two drills in preparation for this since. She appears set to even the score with ‘Olive’ who handled her in last year’s G1 Ballerina.

We’re taking Caramel Swirl to win at 2-1 or greater and an exacta box with the champion. Adding sharp Beguine (8-1), getting six pounds from the top choices, to the exotics mix.

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

this is a live column, we’re back Friday and Saturday with a look at Monmouth’s Haskell Preview card Saturday at the shore

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2 Responses

  1. Maybe it’s just me but… I keep on running against all of these programmed game pickers, yes younger than most of us ,who just evenly blurt out figs numbers, and various stats about players ,games of all types, and still wonder how come they don’t show their ‘records, winning stats and ROI about all of their picks? Not even weekly, monthly? (comment edited)

  2. JG, it makes me as exasperated as it makes you. Suggested wagers without accountability would be more acceptable if there were no celebratory bragging following a win. That would be OK if there were acknowledgement of losses, too.

    Keeping a running tally on straight plays or, say, a month-long ROI on suggested Pick wagers would add credibility in my view.

    Parenthetically, we do neither here, but are accountable since selections live in the archives forever for all to see.

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