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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 9, 2022 – Multi-race, deep-pocketed bettors are chomping at the bit awaiting Saturday’s wondrous card at Kentucky Downs.

While skies might not be fair in Franklin, KY today or Saturday, there is no promise of precipitation—not as this is written, anyway. Here’s hoping…

There are six stakes at the most boutique of American race meets; boasting three million-dollar pots, one for $750,000, and two more worth $600K apiece.

Many national faces will be on hand, of course, including Todd Pletcher, Mark Casse, Mike Maker, Brad Cox, Christophe Clement, Wesley Ward and a host of others.

Astride their charges will be the brothers Ortiz, Joel Rosario, Tyler Gaffalione and many new, yet accomplished, faces. And all this only scratches the undulating surface.

The races are, on balance, routinely impossible, although if A+ form holds, we could see three or four favorites succeed in the six events–good news for the shorter bankrolls.

But if chaos prevails, a routine occurrence at the track that’s so far to the west in the Blue Grass state that you could be in Nashville within an hour.

The betting menu is promising for every manner of player, and one successful price-play from six chances certainly could make one’s day.

And for the Pick 4 and Pick 5 crowd, the takeout is a reasonable 14%.

These half dozen races, along with well-bred maidens and allowance types–racing for “stupid money” thanks to casino dole—will demand lots of effort from dedicated handicappers. But commensurate rewards are worth the time, and risk.

In our first take, we will attempt to divine the winners of Races 5, 8, 9 and 10. The final three races later this weekend. Let’s begin:


G3 MINT MILLION                    RACE 5

The Skinny: Five of the 10 entered can win–and that’s after drilling down. Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs’ all-time leading trainer, has three entered, including early line choice 7-Atone (3-1), a three-time winner at the distance, exiting a key race and a Horse for Course (4) 2-2-0. Tyler rides.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  2-Pixilate (5-1)

PRICE PLAY:  5-Kentucky Ghost (12-1)

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Pixilate to win at 3-1 or greater. Saver win wager Kentucky Ghost at 10-1 or greater. Exacta Box: 2-5-7. Trifecta and or Superfecta Key 2-Pixilate with 5-Kentucky Ghost, 7-Atone, 10-Cavalry Charge (12-1) and 1-Mr. Dumas (7-2)

G3 LADIES TURF                        RACE 8

The Skinny: For us, a tough choice between the classy 8-Princess Grace (3-1) and Distance and Course filly 3-Hendy Woods (9-2). The tote will be the ultimate deciding factor. We have three to use in exactas and a fourth to complete trifectas and superfectas. It’s always suggested to early-bet base-wager exotics, pressing and making straight wagers as late as possible.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: 8-Princess Grace (3-1)

EARLY LINE VALUE:  3-Hendy Woods (9-2)

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 3-8-4 [Lady Speightspeare (8-1). Exacta and Superfecta Key-Box 8 first and second with 3-4-1-[Dalika (2-1)]-10 [Henrietta Tophan (20-1)] and 9-[Stolen Holiday (4-1)]

G2 TURF SPRINT                        RACE 9

The Skinny: The classification says it all: Turf Sprint; wide open; duh… Many in here have been specifically pointed this way, especially it seems 12-Arrest Me Red (9-5) and 2-Chewing Gum (5-1). An obvious horizontals spread and perhaps verticals. too. I’ll be hunting for overlays in the straight pool. The horses we have open at the top of the ticket are the aforementioned plus 5-Arzak (9-2) and price shot 9-Front Run the Fed (15-1). Potential exotic fillers are 8-Bran (6-1), 7-Gregorian Chant (10-1),  11-Chasing Artie (15-1).



STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2-5-9-12. Exacta Box 2-5-12. Exacta Wheel: with 7.8.11. Trifecta Wheel 2-5-9-12 // // Straight Wagers: The best value and pre-race appearance; Arzak or Chewing Gum.

G2 TURF CUP                     RACE 10

The Skinny:  There are two accomplished and classy runners matching up here, 8-Gufo (7-5) and 4-Arklow (7-2) a defending Turf Cup champion. All Gufo did last out was a repeat winner Saratoga’s G1 Sword Dancer. He’s 4-for-6 at the trip but returns on short rest over this demanding course and has never run here. Arklow has, winning this race then finishing second by a neck last year. He’s worked strongly since his troubled-trip season’s debut at the Spa last out.


EARLY LINE VALUE:  1-Red Knight (15-1)

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA:  Exacta Box 1-4-8. Exacta Wheel: Trifecta Wheel 1-4-8 // 1-4-8 // 1-3-4-6-7-8-10-12  [Temple (6-1)], [Glynn County (30-1)], [Admission Office (10-1)], [[Another Mystery (15-1)], [Highest Honors (12-1)]. Arklow to win at 5-2 or greater.

G3 MINT LADIES SPRINT                      RACE 11

The Skinny: At this level, turf sprints for fillies, rival trainers with contenders will probably have a Wesley Ward trained favorite to beat, the case here with 10-Campanelle (8-5). Now it’s not so much that she was a good third beaten a mere 3/4s of a length in a 24-horse field, but no fewer than six fillies have come out of the G1 Platinum Jubilee t win next out. Classy, fresh, and has worked weekly since July 30 for this. Now this is a Breeders’ Cup prep race, but 85 or 90% should be enough to win this. She’s well posted at this trip with Irad.


EARLY LINE VALUE: 5-Creative Credit (12-1)

STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA: Exacta Key-Box 10 with (3-Jouster 5-1), (8-Candace O. 30-1), (11-In Good Spirits 6-1). Trifecta and Superfecta Key 10 // In Good Spirits to win at 6-1 or greater.

G2 FRANKLIN-SIMPSON STAKES                      RACE 12

The Skinny: If 6-Big Invasion (8-5) is not the best three-year-old sprinter In America then I have no idea who it could be. He owns a devastating turn of foot, and I don’t believe we have seen his best yet. He very likely will improve his lifetime slate today to a gaudy (8) 7-1-0.


EARLY LINE VALUE:  2-Chanceaux (15-1)

STRAIGHT WAGERS and EXOTICA:  Exacta Box: 6.8.AE-15. Trifecta and Superfecta Wheel 6 // 8.15 // // (4-Heaven Street 30-1), (7-Run Curtis Run 6-1), (8-Sumter 9-2), 10-Asymetric 10-1), (11-Coinage 15-1), 12-One Timer 15-1), AE-15-Catamosto 9-2). AE-Catamosto to win at 6-1 or greater.

When multiple horses are listed, preference order reads from left to right. Suggested Exotica Wagers are at minimums available. Straight wagers are in $2 units or greater.

This is a live column

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13 Responses

  1. Just off the boat from Block Island, (BI,RI) and the Preacher has me off to Franklin, Kentucky. Awesome, and thank you John. I love the crooked layout and ups and downs off the turf. A twist for the equines, riders, and HRI readers all today. Can’t wait to see the verse Tabasco may come up with. I wagered a few “Indy Dimes” on the card as well, and am keeping our good friend Indulto in our collective thoughts is all. Riders Up I-Man! A safe journey to all.

    P.S. The runner’s name that catches my interest most today by the way is entered in Race 9. It is indeed something that I try to do most everyday when wagering vs the Wall Street Crowd at Charles Schwab. On a hunch, and John oftens says you gotta go with your hunches, “sins of omission, yada, yada. Well I’ll back track Twinspires and wager an additional two bucks on Race 9 number 9. Excess in moderation or moderation in excess? Never sure which, but keep in mind I always go much higher $ wagers when playing with house chips, lol.

    “Cheap Bastard Frugal” said Sam I Am. Peace. Out.

    Sep 10 12:08:09 PM Accepted Kentucky Downs 12 Exacta $2.00 6/8 $2.00 – –
    Sep 10 12:04:51 PM Accepted Kentucky Downs 11 Superfecta Key Box $0.10 10/3,5,11 $2.40 – –
    Sep 10 12:02:38 PM Accepted Kentucky Downs 10 Trifecta $0.50 4,8/4,8/1 $1.00 – –
    Sep 10 12:02:19 PM Accepted Kentucky Downs 10 Exacta Box $1.00 4,8 $2.00 – –
    Sep 10 11:58:38 AM Accepted Kentucky Downs 9 Superfecta Box $0.10 2,5,9,12 $2.40 – –
    Sep 10 11:53:58 AM Accepted Kentucky Downs 5 Superfecta Box $0.10 1,2,5,7 $2.40 – –
    Sep 10 11:53:10 AM Accepted Kentucky Downs 5 Trifecta Box $0.50 2,5,7 $3.00 – –
    Sep 10 11:51:00 AM Accepted Kentucky Downs 8 Trifecta $1.00 1/3,8/3,8 $2.00 – –
    Sep 10 12:32:40 PM Accepted Kentucky Downs 9 Win $2.00 9 $2.00 –

    Riders Up!

  2. McD, rolling the turf course and taking down the temporary rail produced a bias that favored inside runners and speed held very well, very much historically anti-profile. Thank goodness a Red Knight in boxed-exacta armor saved what was otherwise a very tough day.
    However, we soldier on and intend to take down the Sunday card in the morning in hopes of a better day.
    We are horseplayers.

    1. Penny breakage? Clearly Kentucky racing is making its bid to become America’s strongest and most popular circuit for bettors.

      No reason why other states can’t go the same for their customers…

  3. Soldier on we will John. No fresh bowl of pasta to be had for me today, but once more I’ll simply look forward to the next shot, and turn the page on this one. Race track life begins anew tomorrow, and our quest towards our future winners starts all over again. Riders Up! I’m still in.

  4. Let’s not overlook taking time to remember 21 years past today. God Bless and be with always all who perished, and also bless all responders who worked the recovery effort during the days, months, and years after. God Bless America and all families living in it on this solemn day. Watching the reading of the names and my prayers for peace go out to all this morning.

    Looking back on history 21 years removed, I searched Google for stories regarding Moira Ann Smith, the “Lady Cop with the flashlight.” Moira saved more people during the attack than any other uniformed services officer. Moira entered into the fullness of life that day, but her heroic efforts allowed for the preservation of life for hundreds of the lost souls trapped in the darkness in the lower levels of the WTC.

    Never Forget the contributions of all our heroes that day. May they all Rest in Peace, and know that we will always cherish the memories of all who perished and also their extended families who continue forward on without them. Peace be with them as well.

  5. Saratoga post-mortem part 2.

    One of the most appealing features of betting on horse racing is that you can win a significant amount of money in one bet. That is true even with WPS bets.

    My one and only longshot (if 13 to 1 can be considered a longshot), was Tiberius Mercurius with Luis Saez aboard on August 21. No other horse I cashed on at Saratoga 2022 came close to this payoff. I finished the meet with a 29% loss that would have been a 41% loss if that horse had not won.

    A “bailout” does not necessarily need to be the final wager of the day that puts you into the plus column. It can be a horse that provides enough replenishment to your bankroll to prevent a level of losing that would be much worse. In my case, 12 percentage points.

    More to follow.

    1. As my late, great friend Cary Fotias always said, “it’s about price, not about horse.” And 13-1 is a longshot in my book…

  6. DanM, Thanks for sharing. Duly noted your “bailout” comment. My number one rule is to never leave without at least a few extra bucks in your pocket. Playing when short never works out well. There’s always another day and another meet. All about moderation.

  7. The former TVG channel has been ruined by incessant ads and props who ch have Nothing to do with racing but also it occupies 1/5 bottom part of the screen which,as i witnessed yesterday,you cannot enjoy the photo finish of a race since one outside horse was blocked by the prepping BS come on. Ridiculous,unprofessional,boorish other than being professionally dishonest.Even crapola has to have some sense of dignity…Shameless pushers !

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