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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, April 29, 2022 — First, we are going to supply our Top Five Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Contenders in Sunday’s column.

If you are a regular in these parts, you can probably guess who they are going to be right now.

Fortunately, the post position draw for both races is Monday, so there very likely are to be adjustments made based on pace and race flow projections.

And you can’t do that without knowing the starting position of 14 fillies and 20 colts clashing in Louisville next weekend.

The unknown variable is weather–it always is–and I’ve seen conflicting reports, from rain to predicted short, spring storms. Either way. it’s 50-50 at this posting.

Due to events beyond our control, we will be unable to make last-minute adjustments for the Oaks. We are scheduled for oral surgery on Wednesday, and it will be a two-day process. I have no idea what to expect.

I literally might need a wakeup call at post time for the Oaks and can promise no last minute adjustments. It would be shocking if it weren’t one of the Big Four, anyway.

However, by Friday evening, post-Run for the Lilies, we can make last minute adjustments for the Derby, acknowledging any notable late developments.

The post draw is scheduled to take place Monday at 2 pm. Check your local bat channels for the latest information on where you can find the program.

As if things were not hectic enough, this computer is going in for much needed service Friday am. When it will be ready for pickup is anyone’s guess. So there’s that, too.

Hey, we’re not playing Johnny Derby Downer here, just passing on some basic 411.

We will return later today, or early tomorrow, with value plays from major races run at Belmont, Churchill and Santa Anita on Saturday.

Per the usual time table, our daily Going Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Today trip tips, for lack of a better phrase, will be available early to mid-afternoon a day in advance–that being this afternoon.

No one promised me a rose garden, although it would be timely given the events scheduled for the first weekend in May.

Now, if you’ll excuse, I need to give my laptop a lift to the computer hospital.

Happy Hunting!

Happy Derby!

Computer Update: The HP is dead; long live Dell. But will have neither again for two to three days. Aarrrrgh!


Elusive Quality Stakes            Race 9

Gambling more on faith in the connections than anything else because Toro Strike (6-1) was terrible in his U.S. debut going 5-1/2 furlongs at the Fair Grounds over what appeared to be a hard surface. Must have come as quite a shock to Luis Saez and Todd Pletcher.

After showing good zip from the gate and making a nice run to challenge at the turn, he completely stopped trying in the final furlong. It was pretty. If he needed the run, then he needed very badly.

But after returning to the Palm Beach Downs training center, a month later he started working on schedule, and brilliantly, including three bullets, one uncommonly fast after those demanding grounds.

‘Toro’ left Florida for New York, had a soft Belmont Park breeze, a lung opener, and shows up going seven-eighths. Three of his four lifetime wins came at this trip. You don’t name Irad unless you’re serious.

MOST ROBABLE WINNER:  Value Proposition (3-1)

THE VALUE BET:  Toro Strike to win at 4-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Three horse exacta box, the two named above plus Therapist (5-1), back at his preferred course and trip and picking up Rosario.


Roxelana Overnight Stakes          Race 9   

It’s difficult for linemakers not to make an undefeated horse anything but the favorite. Caribbean Caper is 5-fr-5 lifetime, “Little Al” Stall trains. What’s not to like? An early line of 8-5 off a 217-day layup.

Not that her story is so much different from Bayerness (5-2), except there are a few more things to like. For one Cherie DeVaux.

Not that she has a reputation with bringing layups back wound tightly but we don’t bet against trainers amid a career year, the case here. But wait, there’s more.

For one, her (3) 2-1-0 slate at the trip, a 2-for-4 record at Churchill. Thoro-Graph figures that improved incrementally at the end of her four-year-old season.

Finally, Luis Saez has the call and her recent 47 3/5 breeze was 7th fastest of 114 peers to work during that week.


THE VALUE BET: Bayerness to win at 2-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta box with the favorite and with Club Car (5-2)


Late scratches notwithstanding, a total of 25 horses will be racing in four graded stakes for an aggregate $725,000 in purse money. Show of hands please: How many players are shocked by this development?

Sadly, it reflects the state of the game in the modern era on virtually every circuit not named Kentucky. And, unfortunately, quality has not necessarily replaced quantity.

G3 KONA GOLD      Race 4

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Brickyard Ride (6-5) looms the Lone F


EXOTICA: (see the value play)

G2 CALIFORNIAN       Race 6

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Express Train (4-5) is one classy choo choo

THE VALUE PLAY: Not here, either

EXOTICA: Cold exacta Express Train over forward-looking, fast-working  Holden the Lute (12-1)

G2 SANTA MARGARITA           Race 10

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Miss Bigly (5-2) has proven consistently fastest and competitive in better company

THE VALUE PLAY: Park Avenue (4-1) is proven at the trip, barn profitable going turf to dirt (23%) and drilled with purpose since her last. Taking her at 3-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta part wheels with the two fillies above keying the ticket with each other and adding classy Varda (4-1) and price shots Midnight Jamboree (8-1) and SA-loving Bye Bye Birdie (12-1) second and third

G2 CHARLES WHITTINGHAM               Race 11

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Beyond Brilliant (9-5) was beaten one length in the G1 Kilroe Mile last out. Highly likely to shake loose but winless at SA and unknown quantity at the trip

THE VALUE PLAY: Dicey Mo Chara (4-1) exits live race with very solid blowout and good spacing for this. Betting to win at 5-2 or greater.

EXOTICA: Key-boxing exactas, ‘Dicey’ with the favorite and the sharp, consistent Gold Phoenix (6-1)

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

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11 Responses

  1. No one promised you a rose garden, but ‘along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain some time’ :)- Lynn Anderson

    1. She is right, of course, Nick, but with respect to Derby-148 weekend, rain comes with built-in excuses.

  2. Rain: I once met Astro Alan Bean who the drove a lunar module on the surface of the moon on one or two of the space missions. I remember his comment about rain that I will never forget and would like to share. “Go somewhere where they don’t have any, and you will quickly learn to like it.” It keeps us all alive was my take away. I still play at times in the rain. I just lower my out of pocket wagers on rainy days at Big Sandy is all.

    Bean also shared a bit of the humor exchanged on the shared use space station with Russia’s guys. All in good fun, on one exit he said that they left a U.S. “space suit” seated up on the crapper and reading a newspaper. When the Russian team next arrived and flipped on the lights, they found one of the U.S. team members left behind and seated on the bowl. I’m thinking the U.S. suit may have been reading the daily racing form.

    P.S. for Wendel. The real game of games is Wall Street and not Jim Cramer or what you see on CNBC. Just like reading the form only the percentages are better. Learn to play the high and low risk ranges of the markets and short and long accordingly. Awesome game. Check out Hedgeye on the web and you can win even in the rain.

    As for Mr. Ed, I can attest to his character. Some of my best experiences on the HRI board have been centered on conversing with “Indy”. One of his talking four leggers in fact gave me a boxed tri score only two weeks back. Racing Wendel is a fun game some of us play for entertainment. The most important skill set with the horses like with anything else is moderation. Even Pastrami. Safe journey to you Wendel. I too am a distinguished “old fart”.

  3. We all have to thank (curse?) Lisa for bringing the old team back together for a Derby hurrah.

    But “distinguished old fart?” A bit of an oxymoron, wouldn’t you say?

    Either way, safe and speedy journeys to all!

  4. Oxymoron brings to mind Military Intelligence. Back in my indentured servitude time while wearing only olive green, I was drafted into the rank of Private, and I next moved upward into the rank of Private First Class. More distinguished was my take as I got a few more bucks off the public dole on the first of the month. I was reclaimed from the rank of Spec 5 upon my exit back into the private sector in 1971. As for as the comparison of “old farts” and “distingushed old farts”, well in 2022 of 2022, I like to think that the distingushed ones have the knack of being able to raise a little hell without appearing to be a damn fools. There is a difference. Some just want to raise hell without caring how they might be perceived or whom they might offend is all. Riders Up! Safe Rides today. – McD

    1. I liked your delineation between, essentially, “old farts” and “new farts;” context matters and I think you nailed it. Good job McD!

  5. Riders Up and I am out of here. K of C Night at the Races set up starts at 4:00PM and I need to shower up. I roll the dice and call the races for the event. A lot of our seniors have a good night out at the event. My favorite is the reach for the “Dr. Yankem” dentist funding John. The night closies with a 50/50 drawing. Most often ~$400 or $500 to the winner. I’ll put a couple of bucks in for you and Toni. Praying for great care for you both this week. – McD

    Proof of purchase for the IRS: Small fields so I got off very light today.

    Apr 30 2:21:40 PM Accepted Tampa Bay Downs 8 Trifecta Key Box $0.50 8/4,5 $3.00 – –
    Apr 30 2:18:06 PM Accepted Gulfstream Park 10 Trifecta Box $0.50 2,3,5 $3.00 – –
    Apr 30 2:15:25 PM Accepted Santa Anita 6 Exacta $1.00 3/2 $1.00 – –
    Apr 30 2:13:34 PM Accepted Churchill Downs 9 Exacta Box $1.00 3,4 $2.00 – –
    Apr 30 2:11:37 PM Accepted Belmont Park 9 Exacta Box $1.00 6,11 $2.00 –

  6. Once in a while the numbers kick you in the butt ,reminding you that,just like Lotto,got to take a game,or race ,at a time.Usually,almost always,I have been sincere about how I have been doing,both on an imaginary tab and in real $ and numbers-results. The last few weeks at Aqueduct were the best I have had in a long time,especially the last few days.Newsday-s Matthews had a similar streak becoming the best * public handicappers*,whatever that means these days of only a few,rare ones like the NY Post-s Cangialosi,I guess. Anyway,as usual ,in the first week of any new meet I only keep an imaginary tab while trying to fell what,who is going on.It also keeps the mind off,just like reading,listening too much of politics,economy,etc drives me bonkers. It is like enjoying a shot of a liquor which I never had before.Cold Turkey? Heck,why not !!(Ahah!). The first two days at Belmont felt like Aqueduct-s last,no changes ?!?!..And then here come the fastballs,screwballs that I never saw= few,if any of my Four horses chosen for exactas,triples rarely got in.Yeah ,half of them made the exactas But With the wrong horses ! After a losing streak of over Six races,my wagering increases… to the point of my Twilight Zone,that is,over my comfy situations Even if there were some $2900 over the mythical starting balance..It did not feel right,it never does,trying to get over $ 200 and up per race. Anyway, it did,,,and for that it returned the worst winning combo that anyone wants,Unless that is Your Only bet,that is aCold Exacta between the fav. and the second choice in a small field,yielding a miserable Harness race return of $6 !,that was Sunday’s first race.Wow,now what to do ? As Daedalus wax wings,my joy,ego and humility crashed,melted by the bitter facts,results.Not even a cheap triple since the show horse was never considered.The next four playable races put salt onto the fresh psychological wounds= Three horse made the exactas without Any of my other pics.All three placed,not even won! Now what is the next step ? Start from scratch. Forget about Aqueduct-s streak or Belmont’s last two days. Tomorrow,or Wednesday,is another day. Humbly,hopefully,some lessons were learned because had I been betting as much as I *Should have*, you know,Due $, it would have been as catastrophic as it had already happened ONCE before. Ps= Does Belmont use a different odds maker,morning line guy than the one who was doing it at Aqueduct ?..Just wondering. Thanks for letting some internal steam off. Gotta be honest,at least,with ourselves..and our pocket$ !!

  7. With the rain scheduled for Friday, I don’t think I’m too fond of Secret Oath drawing the rail in the Oaks; she doesn’t have that early zip where she can secure a position quickly off a deep rail. She is going to need an inordinate amount of racing luck to get through, even with a jockey as good as Saez. I’m not happy at all with this draw.

    On a positive note, looks like Ethereal Road will draw into the Derby for the Coach.

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