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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, March 19, 2021 — C’mon Jack, don’t you think 40 points will get you into the Derby starting gate, even if you started at zero? We do, that’s the advantage of top efforts in the major preps run at a distance of at least nine furlongs.

We said in year one, and we reiterate here: We love the Kentucky Derby points system, one of two things that Churchill Downs gets right. The other is allowing its Fair Grounds property to draw races a week in advance.

At least the industry has one track that thinks of the customer–and its own publicist–first. Horsemen no longer can sustain the “too many things can go wrong” argument, not with laughably lenient scratch policies in effect virtually everywhere.

Make Betting Horses Great Again

Wish I could report that the extra time has made putting together a winning bet strategy easier–it was nice having another hour or two for all the video work–but the Louisiana Derby, at 1-3/16s miles, is not as cut and dry as it would appear at first blush.

Here’s a look at the field for tomorrow’s 14th and final from New Orleans, scheduled for 6:44 pm, EDT, in post order with early line odds:

1-STARRININMYDREAMS (20-1) Harry Hernandez spent the first half mile of the Risen Star comebacker fighting the Super Saver colt–a virtual run-off into the first turn. He finally settled with ground saving position but was steadied mid-far turn, Hernandez taking care of the colt for the final 3/16s of a mile. Too fresh and not fit won’t be an issue here. Dallas Stewart came back in nine days for his first drill, three more thereafter, including a bullet and near-bullet five-eighths. Luis Saez and the pole promises a much improved performance The issue is the competition.

2-RIGHTANDJUST (20-1) set a pressured Risen Star pace throughout and stayed fairly well considering he was fourth by four in midstretch, and lost the whole thing by 7-3/4s. Moves in from post 11 to slip #2, and his five furlongs in 59 3/5 MAR 13 was the fastest work on the page. Colby Hernandez replaces Mitch Murrill and we don’t know what that means but the best of the Risen Star group is back, and we think we know what that means.

3-RUN CLASSIC (12-1) After a tough trip in a rapidly run six-furlong debut, he broke maiden going 1-1/16 miles 27 days later in eye-pleasing fashion. A $475,000 two-year-old Runhappy colt is about four-times the sire’s average and we can see why. He’s big, athletic, long-striding, and is fast once he gets going. As stated, we loved his race and this test is very tough but not impossible. Brian Hernandez on a return call for Bret Calhoun, who is profitable off a maiden win and going long. Intriguing at a price.

4-PROXY (7-2) Godolphin-bred Tapit colt showed good energy distribution as the Risen Star runnerup despite some trouble and a very wide rally, but he ran on as if the extra sixteenth should only help his long, late stride. We thought he might have lost some focus and it appears that Michael Stidham and Johnny V. agree, as shades are added today. He worked a bullet half-mile for this, presumably with them, on FEB 26 and has a long pedigree on both sides of the family tree. Major player.

5-HOT ROD CHARLIE (3-1) Doug O’Neill is on the sidelines but long-time assistant Leandro Mora is the program trainer (that’s why USADA is needed). Anyway, this is a good colt who was an excellent second to Essential Quality after forcing the stretch issue in the BC Juvenile, and a very game between-rivals third throughout the Robert B Lewis stretch run, beaten a neck for all of it in a promising three-year-old return. Joel Rosario takes the re-ride as the SoCal connections apparently have decided “we’ll run wherever Bullet Bob doesn’t.”

6-MANDALOUN (8-5) Speaking of blinkers, he responded beautiful to his new eyewear in the Risen Star, atoning for a disappointing third in his Lecomte comebacker. Enjoyed a perfect stalking three-wide-and-pounce trip behind the speed and won a bit more handily than the winning margin suggests. Juddmonte homebred has worked thrice since the Risen Star, including a bullet and near-bullet. Flo the Jock likely can work out another good stalking trip. He’s never taken a backward step and is unlikely to start now.

7-MIDNIGHT BOURBON (5-1) did almost all the dirty work in the Risen Star, keeping the speed honest, withstood mid-turn pressure, engaged in a protracted stretch battle and didn’t tire until the very final strides. Also showing excellent energy distribution, Steve Asmussen is very effective in LAY-3 scenarios, he’s worked thrice and on schedule since returning only nine days after the Risen Star. Joe Talamo has been in the boot for his last two starts, including the Lecomte victory. Might slip through the pari-mutuel cracks.

8 – O BESOS (15-1) There will be a tendency to dismiss this guy out of hand and while his task is monumental, he is a nice colt that should win something important down the road. He went into the Risen Star off three career sprints, lost valuable ground on both turns, but showed great courage to finish fourth despite racing greenly. Would consider for the bottom of super-exotics but was hurt by the draw and today’s dynamics.


Race 14


VALUE BET: Proxy (7-2) to win at 3-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box Exacta Key-Box: 4 // 5.6.7. Superfecta Wheel: // // //

Betting Grids for the five preceding stakes (an estimated $750,000 All-Stakes Late Pick Five begins with Race 10) will be available at via PayPal for $4 total. If interested, you will be emailed the betting grids for Fair Grounds Saturday, beginning with Race 9, by 10 AM, EDT. PayPal address:

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20 Responses

  1. Good stuff, thanks for the writeup. I’m just about to sit down with my bagel and coffee, and dig into the TG and BRIS on the card. This is a great card. Excited to have this one coming up!

    1. You and me both Doc, obviously, one more race to watch and my job for the day will be done. Hope it all goes well and doesn’t turn out the one one press box wag you to say: “I pick’em good, it’s not my fault if they don’t run any good…”

  2. Saturday March 20,2021

    Fair Grounds

    8th- 6 with the 2,5,10

    9th- pass

    10th- 2, with the 3,8,12 and box the 3,8,12,w/o the 2

    11th- 8, (best bet) key the 8 first and second with the 2,3,6 and if you want to spread add the 1

    12th- very good betting race, Cross Border (4) was beaten 2.25 length’s by the favorite last race. Both ran identical numbers. This time Cross Border gets a 6 pound pull in the weight’s and goes from the 9 hole to the 4 hole. 5-1 is fair value take Cross Border to win and use the 1, Factor This, who is the speed on the rail in second off a layoff for Brad Cox and the lightly raced favorite Colonel Liam. Box the 3 then use the 4 on top a couple of more times to get the exotic score.

    13th- 8 (best bet) with the 4,5,6. Should move forward off first race as a 3 year old for Cox/Geroux.

    14th- The Louisiana Derby. Hot Rod Charlie paired his 2 year old top in his first race back. Beaten a neck in last where Rosario went to Calif. to ride and now follows him to Louisiana. Derby horse ? Mora 30% strike rate last 90 days and 21% first race after trainer change. In good hands. 5 with the 3,4,6,7.

    Good luck to all and as usual Let’s go get the bad guys, Vin

  3. Always enjoy reading your stuff Vin, thanks for the input as usual. I saw what you saw in Hot Rod Charlie and the fact that he ducked the BB juggernaut speaks for today’s intent.

    Really liked his last two visually as well, just decided in the end that to win he’d have to outrun his pedigree which is a bit on the short side. But I’m prepared to be wrong at the top of my voice. My choice more a pedigree–and blinkers– play than anything else.

    Interesting race!

  4. Last horse to pull off the Louisiana Derby/Ky Derby double?


    In fact, it’s only been done twice, and I believe only 4 horses have ever won the KY Derby after having prepped in the Louisiana Derby.

  5. Think you’re right, Doc. Black Gold in 1929 strikes a cord and was a trivia answer in the day as he might have been the last horse to double up before Grindstone. Will check that when I have a few minutes…

  6. I almost missed the change at Jamaica John. Senior moment, or maybe just day dreaming. I didn’t read the betting grids closure on your missive on the first fly over, and just now realized that races 10 thru 13 are behind your new pay wall. I just sent $4 via pay pal. All good John. I like the idea of your getting compensated for all you provide. I ride the free FRA train all week. Only fitting to now pay for your service on “Any Given Saturday”.

    Riders Up my friend! Time for You and Vino to go out and get us some of them bad guys. Thanks to you both. – McD

    P.S. Check out two stocks I just bought into on Thursday John. In racing terms, both will become very interesting Derby type contenders. The trading symbols are PCT and REMK. I made enough in two days to cover my oats for the horses quite well already, and expect these two investments to cover my NYRABETS wagers for years to come. One company is targeting the recycling of plastics that are now hauled off to the landfill, and the other allows states to captured desperately needed revenue by using “AI” to track and monetize your infractions of the law when driving. They will even know the details if your car insurance is current or not when you are driving. Not saying I like the big brother ideas, but most state pension liabilities are so far under water at this point, S&L governments have no choice but to find new ways to raise money. In a way, the same mindset of you employing a pay wall. Some may not like the idea, but you need to pay for gas and electric just like everyone else. That’s just the reality of the world we live in. I hope it works out well for you John.

    (Think for a few seconds of Dustin Hofmann and the line in the Graduate. “Plastics.” he said to Mrs. Robinson. Only now I am thinking of the need to find a better way to play it. “Recycled Plastics.”

    1. More than anything, McD, tired of doing the work without support. There’s plenty of free information out there for horseplayers, courtesy of companies who pay a staff to put in the work. Making a few wagering dollars is part of paying those bills so I decided I will do the work for myself, the “Race of the Week” notwithstanding and, of course, for the good folks at Tampa Bay Downs.

      Love the recycling stock tout, the big brother one not so much. BTW: Since you live in New York, maybe it’s time to legalize sports wagering in a way that racing benefits. I’m sure any person above my paygrade can figure out how to make that happen.

  7. Sometimes your day job can become a distraction to my day job John Boy. Anyhoot, lol, you have my “PROXY” vote based on the pedigree comments. One of the first things I ever learned about the track, second only to the rule of never leaving the race track broke….you don’t want people thinking your a degenerate low life….. the first rule went something like “If the “mudder” was a mudder, and the “fadder” was a mudder, than you damn sure better be betting on the “mudder”. If you swap out if the mudder got some pedegree, and the fadder got some, same logic makes sense to me…… But what the hell do I know. My great “grandfadder” was a horse Ferrier offf the boat from county Cork, or maybe Wexford, Ireland….. he ran a stable in Brooklyn where now sits the Belt Parkway. In the end, it is all about the “mudders” and “fadders” on how far any of them will run. All I wanna do is cash a ticket or two.

    Riders Up! Safe journeys all. Even them bad guys Vino Rosa.

  8. Vin takes down Late DD at Fairgrounds and propels Hot Rod Charlie into Derby conversation. Half brother to Mitole this Doug O’Neil trainee ran 2nd to Essential Quality in BC Juvie (at 94-1). Rooting for him in KY Derby, if he goes. Nice selection by Vin.

    1. Vino has an excellent opinion, C, and it’s great of him to make a contribution when he has the time. Greatly appreciated. We got lucky, too, using the gray filly with three in the last we thought would offer value, two of them completed the La. Derby exacta, good way to end the day…

      1. Bomb O Besos snuck up the inside for third and was closing nicely. You had kind words to say about this one also. Pretty good ride to get the show dough. Now Rosario has to choose between HRC and CT (Concert Tour).

        1. C,

          The ride certainly helped O Besos get third, and he finished more professionally than he did in the Risen Star.

          As for Joel, my gut tells me he’ll stick with Concert Tour and BB. If he doesn’t, that would be very telling.

    1. I’m with the owner on this one–the horse was very good yesterday, showing an added dimension, but it was Joel’s brilliance that proved the difference, IMO.

  9. Regarding the big brother comment above, we have been governed so poorly over the last two decades that we now face a Six Trillion dollar debt burden. “Kick the Can” has ruled the day for far, far too long. The same can be said of the racing industry and its lack of prudent oversight. 2008 was a breaking point for the global markets and all our leaders did was put the train back up on the same derailment track and kept it running in the same manner to this day. A clowns show, and the incumbent incompetents of both parties simply stuff their pockets. Now there are so few avenues remaining to address the massive pension liabilities to come, and our elected officials are once more mandated to find new ways to fleece Mr. & Mrs. Six Pack, aka their constituents. If only it wasn’t always about setting the table for their own self interests.

    Praying for the day when the focus of governance will be on what is best for the people of America. The reality of the day today is that we face a huge increase in the cost of living our every day lives in the coming months. We have indeed left a mountain of debt for the future of America to address. Sad is all.

  10. Not all gloom and doom mind you. I recently read a book that took me on a journey across an historic past of racing history. The following are a few of the notes from the book that I jotted down to share with readers of HRI.

    The narrative written by Wright Thomson had me hooked from the opening pages, and I immediately thought of John Pricci and the late Paul Moran when reading Pappyland, a book which focuses on the history one family’s enterprise and inner passion for producing an excellent Kentucky Bourbon. The book took me on a journey across times and places and generation all deeply rooted in thoroughbred racing and the bluegrass country of Kentucky.

    “When horses turn for home, we are all wild and free, sweating and cheering, the dream on our breath and clutched in our fists. I admit I love that blood-sport rush” verses Thompson.

    The reason that I first became interested in the subject Van Winkle family was Kentucky Bourbon but for a different reason than most. At the time of the 2020 bourbon release back in late November, I waited on line for 18 hours to purchase a bottle of Van Winkle only to sell it on the secondary market and was able to donate a $2000.00 profit to feed those in need via Island Harvest I had found a way to convert my waiting on line time into a way to feeding the poor. Any hoot, I got the idea from reading a great story, and thought I would share it.

    Here is another fascinating racing excerpt I found fascinating. “Everywhere around this hilltop were warnings to the owners and trainers in Louisville this weekend who imagine that they are making history. Domino, a famous stallion, was buried in a grave with a wooden marker just off the side of a road. Domino only produced 19 foals yet is the pedigree of the greatest horses that ever lived: Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Assault, Bold Ruler, Whirlaway, War Admiral, Gallant Fox, Omaha, Native Dancer, and American Pharoah. Of the thirteen horses to win the Triple Crown, nine have Domino in their family tree. And now he is forgotten on the side of a road.” Compelling is all.

    One day I guess we will all be forgotten on the side of a road. Fascinating is all. – McD

  11. This is why we Iove the game and HRI, McD.

    The Faithful love this game for the sake of the sport and I learned something today I didn’t know: Oh, Oh, Domino! Wow. Thanks for sharing!

    1. T, Aren’t all horses these days classic milers, many of which outrun their pedigrees.

      And you may be a little tough on Charlie, that was 1-3/16s miles after all…

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