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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 6, 2024 – Yet another Derby weekend as Hoosier Indianapolis gets its moment in the national spotlight with the G3 Indiana Derby while Belmont Park gets in its last pre-Spa hurrah with the G1 Belmont Derby taking on an international flair.

Obviously the ladies will be along for a ride with a pair of matching Oaks contests, the G3 Indiana Oaks and G1 Belmont Oaks. Both Indiana races will be contested on dirt while both Belmont fixtures will be run over the lawn in Elmont.

And both tracks offer a strong supporting undercard with Belmont renewing two more graded stakes, the once storied G2 Suburban and G3 Victory Ride for 3-year-old filly sprinters. In the Midwest, five supporting overnight stakes complete an attractive wagering program.

We’ll begin our Tote Busters© assessment in America’s heartland. Ladies first, of course:


G3 INDIANA OAKS                                                                           Race 11

The Skinny: This 1-1/16 miles two turner features two strong favorites who if they were coupled in the wagering would start in the neighborhood of 3-10: Taxed (2-1) is coming off a dominating score in the Black-Eyed Susan; Defining Purpose (8-5) is dropping from the G1 Kentucky Oaks after her prior G1 Ashland score. What to do?

2-Taxed’s finish on the Preakness undercard could not have been more impressive. She ran through the finish line in full stride followed by a strong gallop-out. The perfect 3-path stalking trip she enjoyed could not have set the table any better.

Conversely, 5-Defining Purpose’s journey could not have been tougher, breaking from post 11 of 14 then chasing a very strong pace throughout while racing 3 to 4 wide all the way. Between the pace and ground loss, she had ever right to tire.

Both fillies have worked bullets or near bullets subsequently and both are well drawn. In a tough call, the lean goes to Defining Purpose, twice a winner at Saturday’s trip.

Further, we’re giving an honorable mention/puncher’s chance to California ship-in 6-Lily Poo (5-1), clearly improved since the barn change to Michael McCarthy over the winter.

STRAIGHT WAGER: Ultimately, win wagers would be price and bias dependent.

EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2-5-6.  Exacta Box: 2-5. Exacta and Trifecta Wheel: 2.5 // 2.5.6 // 2.5.6

G3 INDIANA DERBY                                                                      Race 12

The Skinny: Finding the worthy favorite in this edition of Indiana’s premier event is easy; divining the winner might be a bit trickier. 5-Verifying (8-5) has outstanding company lines and he’s been competitive against some of America’s best three-year-olds; Maje and Tapit Trice among them, including a last-strides defeat by late developing Disarm last out.

Verifying is supposed to beat this field, but his stats line is not all that compelling given a slate that reads (8) 2-3-0. Five others are interesting and obviously will offer much better odds. They are, from the inside-out, 2-Raise Cain (10-1), 3-Act  A Fool (6-1), 4-On the Stage (10-1), 7-Hayes Strike (3-1) and 8-Cagliostro (8-1).

Raise Cain offers value on the early line. After his blow-out score in the G3 Gotham, he subsequently faced the exact same horses as the favorite but admittedly did not race as competitively. Still, the company was top class and there’s a big odds disparity.

What Act of Fool lacks in company he makes up for in performance, winning four of five career starts. And the ever fickle racing gods surely owe Larry Rivelli one following the Ohio Derby-winning Two Phil’s next day, injury-centric retirement.

On the Stage’s last at Lone Star was first rate; a handy winner that has come to hand rapidly of late for Steve Asmussen. Hayes Strike has good class lines, too, but has not broken through at the graded level, his two wins coming in listed company. If Raise Cain offers early-line value, then Hayes Strike is the underlay.

Cogliostro is lightly raced and very intriguing. Following a maiden romp he just missed at the allowance level then was thrown into the deep end in the G2 La Derby, where he found the dynamics and trip too demanding. Freshened, he finished boldly in his one-mile allowance return, missing by a head. He’s worked thrice into this, stretches to his most productive trip, and gets six pounds from all three favorites.

STRAIGHT VALUE PLAY: Cogliostro to win at 8-1 or greater.

EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 5-8. Exacta Wheel 5 //  Dime-Super Key: 5 //    Dime-Super Wheel: // 5 // //


G1 BELMONT PARK OAKS                                                      Race 8

The Skinny:  This event, plus the other international fixture, the G1 Belmont Derby, features some very talented, potentially top class 3-year-olds. Having said that, it’s the Americans we’re shading in the Oaks.

We’ve been on 1-Mission of Joy (2-1) since her Tampa allowance win. Following that came a flying finish to win the G3 Tampa Oaks and last out another Grade 3 on the stretch-out to nine furlongs. She can handle yet another furlong based on pedigree but is an underlay at early line odds.

7-Aspray (6-1) is 3-for-3 in her career with a longer-the-better pedigree. She was confidently handled tipping 7-wide in Pimlico’s Hilltop and won with something left despite the narrow margin. If ‘Mission’ is an early line underlay, this one is an overlay at anything near 6-1. 5-Be Your Best (10-1) is also better than the line suggests, nearly winning her last after being pace compromised. 4-Papilio (4-1) has been highly competitive with tougher all season and 2-Strikingly Spun (15-1) certainly will be tested for class but is proven at the distance.

STRAIGHT VALUE: Aspray to win at 4-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Going for the gusto is open scramble. Dime-Super Box: 1-2-4-5-7. Exacta Key-Box: 1 //  Exacta Key-Box: 7 //


The Skinny: An international battle we can’t wait to see and the principles could not be more diverse. How diverse? Well, European 11-The Foxes (7-2) is coming off a competitive effort in the storied mile and a half Epsom Derby. The American? He’s only raced once–that’s no typo. But 10-Redistricting’s maiden win was so dominating, the turn of foot he demonstrated so jaw-dropping it even impressed Chad Brown who enters him back 35 days later moving him way up in class and distance. He ran his final sixteenth in 05.83.

Neither one got a favorable draw so each has their work cut out. The first thing The Foxes might notice is no Auguste Rodin, Europe’s best 3-year-old by consensus. The Foxes was matching strides with him with a quarter mile left to go. The trip was in ‘Rodin’s’ wheel house, but not The Foxes’. So 10 furlongs will suit perfectly. Oisin Murphy must think so, accepting the call from Andrew Balding.

After that, in our graded order, come 5-Far Bridge (4-1), 4-Webslinger (9-2), 6-Silver Knott (6-1) and 2-Boppy O (12-1).

STRAIGHT WAGER depends on off time odds. At early line odds of 7-2 and 6-1, respectively, either would be a fair price. We would bottom out at 5-2 or 4-1, respectively.

EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 11-12. Trifecta Wheel 11.12 // 11.12 // Trifecta Wheel: 11.12 // // 11.12.

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

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

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11 Responses

  1. Sins of omission, lol? David Aragona had an interesting comment on Race 8 at Sandy I thought I might share. “According to GMAX Freydis The Red had a final eigth in 11.64 in last.” Just caught my eye is all in a race where you mention five runners, he didn’t make the grade. A second look at his Tifeform comment might be in order. But then again, compared to Loughlin, what the hell do I know. Riders Up and safe journey to all.

    1. One can do worse than heed the counsel of Mr. Aragona, IMO the best track linemaker in the biz.
      And thanks for the props but my vote for best Loughlin analyst out there is Mark Jackson…

  2. Nice pick on the Oisin Murphy ride ! Planned to just watch , and tab, the main races when suddenly, as my Chicken Parmigiana tray was ready, I noticed that they, FOX sports, switched to a baseball game. What about the info that there was supposed to be Belmont racing, maybe on its best day, from 1 pm to 7 pm? Frantically tried to find it in other Fox and Sport channels, including the former TVG one. Nothing! As I’m waiting for some explanation, I noticed that on the bottom running sports info-results, there is a hurried up mention that America at the Races can be followed on the phone app! What? Who wants to see those small screens, numbers, and ‘ fuggedaboutit’ races on a cell phone? On a Belmont day with over $2.5 million in purses! Talk about ignoring the horseracing betting fans! And I’m paying some $240 monthly to be treated like I don’t exist or care? The cable Network are the ones who do not respect your own frigging Schedule! So, they got Rugby, July baseball and not what was initially scheduled, ‘upgraded’ to the other horse channel not a favorite of mine since FD bought it, and while I was waiting for a hopeful glimpse of Belmont racing, I got nothing! And these folks are professionals who are trying to gain more fans while hopefully keeping those who are still hanging around? Cannot get NYRA.. can’t move back to Long Island.. just being deprived of their own inexistent schedules, and Capriciously so in favor, again, of sports which are less interesting, like motorcross, Cornhole, interminable championships and other ‘sporting events’, like league golf, league beach volleyball… and on and on .. on this Belmont Derby Saturday? It must be me, or just as we used to say in military terms ,it is just SNAFU?? Thanks..

    1. PS: The switch was made at 4 pm.. right before the better races were supposed to be Televised ! Who is in charge of making such Asinine switches ?

    2. It would be Fox’s call to make that switch, not NYRA’s. But you’re right, there must be more coordination between NYRA and the network. This is not a new phenomenon; this partnership has done horseplayers a disservice since inception. I don’t even like it when they lateral Fox 1 and Fox 2 in the middle of the card.
      Guess the one good thing is that I don’t expect them to cut away from Saratoga racing. But all this is typical of the infighting in thoroughbred racing. The competition among NYRA, CDI and TSG is fierce, and it extends to broadcasting rights.
      Racing deserves what it gets! But they are not the losers, it’s horseplayers who take the worst of it.
      And I’m with you on one other thing; I’m not watching horseracing on a smartphone screen either.
      If I were 19 instead of 79 and starting over, I would be a sports bettor, not a horseplayer. Horse racing does not deserve my loyalty!

  3. Since I usually play one track at a time I’d be willing to pay ” a la carte”,just like those outfits selling specific track Past Performances. Yeah, I’d be willing to shell out a couple of $$ for an entire day’s program like Belmont, Saratoga, and CD. But , Don’t Cut the pre scheduled program! It is so Boorish and Amateurish ! It’s not like the other( unscheduled ) sporting events came out of nowhere! They too were planned , but Not to interfere with the previously arranged Belmont Day program… They’re so Insolent!

  4. JG, Don’t give them any ideas about paying a premium for what you want. There’s too much of that happening already. I wound up watching the Belmont stakes on my computer from my ADW’s track feed. I often do that when races from difference venues are run simultaneously.

  5. No “premium” needed JGR, JRP. The Networks will just layer in a “surcharge” as all other entities seemed to have discovered of late. Even Verizon now collects a “surcharge” when a bill payment is made at a customer service center. Some are even collecting an extra fee for “digital” payment. Frogs in the water we all are as “the heat” is ever so slowly raised seemingly everywhere. The only balance remaining is that a two dollar ticket is still two dollars, but even at that, the winning tickets are still subjected to the increased takeouts on the exotics. There’s a saying I first heard many, many years past that I will close with. “F”’em when they’re sleeping. Turning the page….

  6. In a game or exercise where keeping a positive attitude is important to stay in winning balance, this game all but makes that impossible, cashing a Pick 4 or 5 every day notwithstanding. Sadly, I don’t know anyone without a six-figure betting bankroll that could do that on a consistent basis. Let’s hope for a minimum of major errors in judgment at the Spa.

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