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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, December 16, 2022 – First, if you have not yet checked out the new television series “Tulsa King” on Paramount Plus which premiered in November, you’re missing a bet.

Consider for starters this is the latest offering from co- creators, writers and producers who  know something about crafting entertaining and highly successful television fare, Taylor Sheridan and Terence Winter.

If you’re unfamiliar with these creative artists, or have not seen the series, think of it as wise-guy family entertainment. Think “The Duttons Meet the Sopranos.”

The major storyline concerns Dwight “The General” Manfredi, starring Sylvester Stallone in the lead role, who gets out of prison after serving 25 years for the family, just like any self-respecting capo would do.

The first item on Dwight’s agenda is a sit-down with the bosses to learn when he can resume “earning” in his old Brooklyn territory. But, to paraphrase underboss “Chickie’ Invernizzi, played by Dominick Lombardozzi:

“Twenty-five years is a long time Dwight, and things have changed. We need you to open a new territory that will be all ours. It’s wide open and a great opportunity. All we need to do is go in and take over…”

“Where?” Dwight asked.

“Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Chickie informs him, at which point curse words are hurled and chairs broken: “It’s not what you think, Dwight, Oklahoma’s big-time now. It’s got a racetrack … the Springboard Mile.”

This weekend, Tote Busters’ offering will be our example of life imitating art. Saturday in Oklahoma City, where conditions are expected to be clear and fast, will be the Sooner State’s day in the national spotlight.

The 12-race program concludes with–you guessed it–the Springboard Mile. In addition to a $400,000 pot, it offers the winner fees-paid entrance into the Oklahoma Derby and an opportunity to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

An aside: There has been no advance word that Stallone will be there to present the trophy to the winning connections. And if Remington didn’t think to make that happen, then they missed a bet.

The 8-5 early line favorite is the uber impressive Saratoga maiden breaker, Echo Again, who, after disappointing in the G3 Iroquois, has worked eight times preparing for this with trainer Steve Asmussen seeking his seventh Springboard title.

Lined up against him in a field of nine will be charges trained by Brad Cox and Karl Broberg, seeking their initial Springboard victories and an entrant from Todd Fincher, who won this in 2020 with Senor Buscador, a Breeders’ Cup competitor last month.

The speedy Echo Again is pole sitting and reunites with maiden-breaking pilot Ricardo Santana Jr., winner of this event with Shoplifted in 2019 for Asmussen. Echo Again will be the one to catch and beat.

Cox’s Giant Mischief (3-1), undefeated in two starts including an impressively game 3/4-length score in a Keeneland allowances, in which the runnerup was 17-1/2 in front of the show finisher, gets Lasix back and Florent Geroux on the re-ride, is the major rival.

So, can HRI move into Oklahoma City and sweep an All-Stakes Late Pick 4? Check back with us in the coming days when, in addition, we will analyze feature events from Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs.


JIM THORPE STAKES                                                 Race 8

The Skinny:  Named for the great Olympian, a Carlisle Indian that is one of the greatest athletes this country ever produced, is topped by the suitably named 1-Cherokee Legacy (5-1). Late season 3YO gelding has developed nicely in recent months. 6-Rowdy Rascal (6-1) is 3-for-7 at RP and 1-for-7 everywhere else; competitive figures.5-Beckett’s Lovely Day (3-1) hails from connections and 2-Inca Empire (5-2) exits a live race.



EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS:  Exacta Key-Box: 1 // 2.5.6. Trifecta Wheel: 1.6 // //  Betting Cherokee Legacy to win at 3-1 or greater.

TRAPEZE STAKES                                                  Race 9

The Skinny: Eight juveniles fillies have entered and it appears a two-filly affair between two undefeated fillies: 3-Olivia Twist (2-1) and 8-Doudoudouwanadance (5-2). “Olivia’ is on a tight, fast line, stretching from 5F debut to a mile—today’s trip—last out. Trainer Todd Fincher’s won this race before. Doudoudouwanawin would be a more of an apt handle, at any distance, over any footing. 4-Lucky Deputy (8-1) exits key race, Asmussen points for this day.


EARLY LINE VALUE: Lucky Deputy (8-1)

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box: 3-8. Exacta and Trifecta Wheel 3.8 // 3.4.8 // 3.4.8. Olivia Twist to win at 8-5 or greater.

SHE’S ALL IN STAKES                                   Race 10

The Skinny: The one question that needs answering is can 1-Famed (6-5) get the trip? At those odds, one would hope so. When you look at the pedigree, Uncle Mo along should get you there, even if the bottom side projects mixed signals. But Brad Cox and Florent Geroux from the pole at this trip should get it done. She has been consistently faster since the summer.

4-Family Time (6-1) has improved for the barn of Federico Villafranco and partner Isaac Castillo have been doing excellent work of late; this filly can finish. 3-Lavander (30-1) has gone turf-to-dirt successfully in the past and her last cannot be taken seriously. She was terrible but worked twice since that NOV 15 run and here she is; a surprise package?


EARLY LINE VALUE:  9-Dicey (20-1)

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Trifecta Key 1 // // [8-Sunday Flashback, 9-2, barn effective stretching off two sprints]. Exacta Box: 1.3.4. Betting Lavender W-P-S at 15-1 or higher.

HAWK MEMORIAL STAKES                                             Race 11

The Skinny: It’s not easy to categorize a horse which has compiled a (14) 5-4-1 slate, earning $656K, as a disappointment but after finished second in last year’s G1 Arkansas Derby, but what was anticipated never materialized. After winning three straight this summer, 9-Caddo River (2-1) was shelved after a speed-stopped effort in the Foster. So he’s back after being recycled, working bullets and appearing set for a 5YO campaign. Today’s race is a bridge to somewhere but even at least than 100%, he is supposed to handle this group, off that workline anyway.

Those with upset potential are fast working 3-Hello Hot Rod (5-1), venerable finisher, 9YO 5-Rated R Superstar, exiting a strong key race, and 6-Shadrack (20-1) from a barn that’s batting 27% going turf to dirt.



EXOTICA: Trifecta Key: 9 // 3.5.6.  Exacta Key-Box 9 // 3.5.6. Caddo River to win, no price restrictions.

SPRINGBOARD MILE                                                   Race 12

The Skinny: If it’s any horse other than favorites 1-Echo Again (8-5) or 5-Giant Mischief (3-1), it would be shocking. Echo Again looked like a killer winning sprint debut at Saratoga then was rank while drawn wide In Churchill’s G3 Iroquois, dueled wide then stopped. Since, Asmussen has drilled him eight times, working on his stamina and development. He’s run better here.

Giant Mischief then outdueled a horse that will be one of the favorites in the Los Al Futurity this weekend, the pair finishing 17-1/2 lengths in front of the show finisher. He could even go favorite here considering the Cox/Geroux connections.

EXOTICA AND STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box 1-5. Trifecta Wheel: 1.5 // 1.5 //

BUDGET PICK 5 PLAYS: 1.5.6 // 3.8 // 1.3.4 // 9 // 1.5

Per usual, vertical and horizontal wagers at minimum available, straight wagers are at $2 units or greater

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

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6 Responses

  1. John, may I ask you a handicapping question? I’ve seen this before and I’m not sure what to do. I’m asking you because the latest example is at your track. In the 2nd at Gulfstream on 12/16, the 1 and the 2 are in for a tag although it appears to me they meet the condition. Do you find any handicapping value to this? Is it a typo? Thanks

  2. Waquoit, this actually was a pretty straightforward condition with only two provisos. For a horse to enter, she shall have run previously for a claiming tag of $16,000 OR HAS ANOTHER OPTI0N,

    If the horse had not run that cheaply before, she could enter this race to be claimed for $16,000 out of today’s race.

    Seen one recently with four conditions, inclusionary and exclusionary to keep the class playing field as level as possible and attract as many horses to increase field size. Hope that helped.

  3. Checking to see in What Condition my Condition Is In : 1] Former TVG “horse handicappers” become “Sports Betting analysts” .So, they go from picking “Pick 5 or 6″gimmicks to Multi – Game Parlays. Hey, with only a $20 bet you could win Thousands !! Yeah, right. !2] After tabbing some 50 races with some 20 coming in first or second, the ” Late $” trial tells that small tracks with small purses and cheap horses remain unreliable bets. Some horses could be running for survival, and that`s not a good reminder.., and besides, only a few thousand can change the odds because of their small pools. 3] Et Tu, Servis? Anyone surprised? Please throw your popcorn in the air. [4] NFL-Thanks 49ERS, you’ve been THE best best for the past few weeks, even W/O Jimmy G.

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