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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Contrary to popular belief, Thoroughbred racing is not done this year and horseplayers and fans need not await opening day at Santa Anita DEC 26 to have some fun.

This is one loaded holiday weekend. There are graded stakes all over the map. plus one of my favorite programs of the year, officially known as Future Stars II but, simply stated, all-two-year-olds-all-the-time Saturday at Churchill Downs.

The prime time event is, of course, the Grade 1 Clark Stakes on Friday but beyond there are a pair of ungraded turf stakes at Aqueduct Saturday that are both great betting races and also a possible glimpse into graded-stakes future. And future is the buy-word this weekend.

The first parimutuel Derby Futures Pool features certain to be juvenile champion Essential Quality and the Slew-like debut winner Life Is Good. Each will be highly fancied but most likely “All Other Three-Year-Olds” will be the public’s choice when betting stops at 6 pm Sunday.

On Friday, Code of Honor (3-1), who has had a start and stop season, is supposed to win his first Grade 1 of 2020. After winning the G3 Westchester, he was a good third to Vekoma in the highly graded G1 Met Mile before finishing a one-paced fourth to Improbable in the G1 Whitney.

But his last points him out, a strong rally placing to brilliant Complexity in the G2 Kelso. Johnny Velazquez got off him and told Shug McGaughey “he really wants to go two turns.”

Code of Honor will get that chance in the Clark, the nine furlongs will hit him squarely between the eyes and, lest we forget, he was an excellent, troubled third last year in “Maximum Security’s Derby.”

The stoutest competition looks to be Brad Cox-trained Owendale (5-1) and Bret Calhoun’s By My Standards (4-1), providing you draw a line through his Breeders’ Cup Classic, easy to do since he’s back home at Churchill Downs. On Grade 1 lines, however, Code of Honor appears to be any price.

The Aqueduct turf races referenced earlier are graded level events masquerading as listed stakes. In between, the G3 Comely will feature Miss Marissa, who will be hell to pay as the likely favorite. She has speed, stamina, the pole and already has won beneath hot-riding Dylan Davis.

The Gio Ponti goes as the fifth race at 1-1/16th mile on the Big A grass and, on first pass; Basquiat, Fighting Seabees and Reconvene immediately catch the eye. And keep in mind that Ajourneytofreedom goes third time off Mike Maker’s $80,000 claim.

Thirteen fillies and mares entered the Forever Together, including one main-track-only. and six raced on a different surface last out. It’s wide open but favoritism likely will come down to two graded-tested females; Christophe Clement’s Feel Glorious and Chad Brown’s Tapit Today.

We’re back Friday with a closer look and a betting grid. Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving. Stay safe; wear a mask.

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3 Responses

  1. Happy Bird Day to all! Today’s the day I start to prep for my real job. I love it that the Santa Gig is just around the far turn. Time to pull the suit down out of the attic once more. Where else are you going to find a job where you can work but only one day a year, sleep as late as you like before punching in, and at every stop, anyone you might happen encounter wants to buy you a drink, and maybe a plate full of home grown cookies. A couple of years out, maybe the parents just might factor in a dusting of cannabis flower. But I digress. Today It’s Bird Day. A Day for allowing recognition and simply saying thank you!

    On the “High Echeleon” of my weather influenced list today, as it is rainy and windy early in NY early, on top of the list is John Pricci. NYRA is dark today so lets get to it.

    (Weather has me remembering when Personality stayed in the barn after the second leg of the series, and his trainer went with Echeleon in the mud of Elmont Belmont. Good call.)

    Any hoot, I am starting the thank you process today with Broadway John, but first a side note of recognition. When John was a young teen his folks put him on a subway and headed him off from Queens each day headed for Brooklyn’s Bishop Loughlin. Tony Fauci’s parents by the way, were of much the same mindset, but there the route to and fro’ twisted around the tracks headed from Brooklyn to 84th St Manhattan and Regis. Only four or five years behind the two, and it was my turn. I bused to 68th Street on the B-line and jumped onto the subway. All in all, Walnut St. in Lynbrook to Nostrand and Carroll in Crown Height’s to Brooklyn Prep, originally the Crown Hill lock up. My point in relaying this is that all of us benefited greatly from the love, care, and sacrifice, extended to each of us by out parents. On Thanksgiving, my thanks start with God above and next the parents.

    That said, Broadway is on deck. Simply want to say thank to John Pricci for all that he shares with us most everyday. He allows us free access to every tool in his craftsman’s analysis kit. For that at times, he is often scorned, even spit at, but sadly that is the life of the public ‘capper. You are never going to be able to please everyone John Boy. What you have shared in your writing, is the need to always have an awareness of what is going on around you. Your logical approach, i.e.; two shorts and going long today, are a must for the casual player to be aware of.

    I can’t tell you for example how a simple “sins of omission” comment you made has helped me of late, in my finances and my personal life. The words have helped me far beyond the boundaries of Belmont Park . Even reached out to my two godchildren recently who I hadn’t contacted in a long while. Thanks John!

    So to wrap this up, I wanted to inquire what libation you might enjoy most John? My way of returning only a fractal of a fraction of the enjoyment you have provided me over the last ~ 50 years. (thinking Happy Bird Day to Indulto as well right about now, so enjoy his verse.) I was musing maybe a bottle of Weller Special Reserve. I was able to come by a half dozen Wellers recently, and one has your name on it if you would like it. If not a bourbon guy, just let me know what you enjoy. For Toni, I was thinking maybe a bottle of Stags’ Leap 2016 Cabernet (Wine Enthusiast 94 Rated).

    When you decide, you know where to find me John. We’re both from kind of the same old school yard neighborhood. No not Jackson Heights John, Jackass Flats. The place where Mike Quill told “Mayor Linsley” he could reach him over the weekend during the sixties subway strike, Quill winked and explained to a reporter, tell the Mayor that “he ain’t gonna find me. I don’t work on the weekends.” I think he too might have been nipping on a bottle of Weller?

    You know where to find me my friend. My address is in the cloud, but my distributions to the Plantation go thru FEDEX.

    Thanks for all you do John. Next week I’ll reach you via PAY PAL and ToteBusters.

  2. One addendum:

    Special Thanks To All Our Uniformed Services Providers and Health Care Workers!

    Any one else care to add?

    Today’s the day to do it. Also the day when “good heartedly” I can tell you all to Stuff It!

    1. Amen brother. And I was thinking, Fauci and I probably get the amount of abuse–only what he does truly matters.

      God bless him; our troops, who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice fight for democracy; all the responders in every field who care for us, and for the service people who deliver our mail, sweep our streets, and help keep our tummies full.

      Please give to your local food banks. Thank you!

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