The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, February 23, 2023 – A million-dollar prep for a million dollar race? Why not, it’s the age of stupid money in which the rich get richer while the remainder flat-lines.

Amazing what a little help from racino dole can do. Speaking of which, breaths are being held in Kentucky as this is posted. The dreaded “Gray Machines;” who knew?

Now, the business at hand. Saturday is Rebel Day at Oaklawn Park, a precursor to next weekend’s first meaningful Super Saturday prep day topped by Gulfstream’s G2 Fountain of Youth, Aqueduct’s G3 Gotham and Santa Anita’s G2 San Felipe.

The Fountain of Youth features the return of three-time Grade 1 winner and juvenile champion Forte.

While the Rebel appears to be a two-horse match on figures, there are, to our count, four others who would not be a shock to horseplayers. The two ticket toppers are Reincarnate (7-2) and Giant Mischief (5-2),

‘B’ runners include, in post order, Verifying (2-1) and Red Route One (10-1). Gun Pilot (8-1) and Frosted Departure (20-1) make the cut as ‘C’ contenders.

Reincarnate is the first Baffert transfer to change barns and, given Bullet Bob’s record when shipping into Hot Springs, it is no wonder that once again he is deputizing former assistant Tim Yakteen as his Derby designee representing in the Midwest division.

Reincarnate surprised many at 16-1 in taking the Sham but will enjoy a much higher profile here. That’s what happens when you win a Grade 3 instead of a routine NX1, and your runnerup stablemate comes back to win the Robert B Lewis.

In winning that one mile two-turner, Reincarnate earned one of the best Thoro-Graph figures run by a three-year-old this year, has had nearly seven weeks recovery since, and looms the speed of the speed as doled out by Johnny Velazquez.

Despite blowing the start in a rough-trip break away from the Remington Park barrier, Giant Mischief rallied strongly to earn the place in the Springboard Mile, a race that got a shoutout from the Sly Stallone vehicle “Tulsa King” in an early episode… but I digress.

One of two Brad Cox runners—uncoupled with early line favorite Verifying—Giant Mischief entered his last with a 2-for-2 slate, his 7-furlong Keeneland score earning a figure equal to Reincarnate’s. He’s a strong rebound candidate with Irad Ortiz replacing for Florent Geroux, who reunites with Cox’s Verifying.


GRADE 2 REBEL STAKES                                                                   Race 11

BEST BET: Giant Mischief


(*CORRECTION MADE 12:30 PM 022523

EXOTICA: Both value candidates, also including Gun Pilot in the exacta and/or trifecta mix


The Skinny: Hope this is as lucrative as it figures to be entertaining; talk about open races… On our first pass, six of the 11 were open. Grudgingly, we narrowed it to four, and uncomfortable at that. 1-Hazy Command (10-1) has won two straight since the Amoss barn change, totally outclassing her last group with a powerful late rally, running her final 1-4-mile in under 24 seconds. These are much rougher, then there an abundance of speed to set the table; the worry is will be get bottomed out on the hike. 10-Mercy Warren (8-1) absolutely freaked winning her last, earning an obscene -4 1/4 on the Thoro-Graph scale. If that doesn’t grab you, check her run on JAN 1, Race 7. He turn of foot at the turn was extraordinary–and she kept going to win by 16! Will she regress? Probably. Will it matter? Probably not; a tough read.

The ones to catch are the classy 5-Yuugiri (5-2), who is 2-for-2 at the trip, and 7-Pretty Birdie (5-2), a bullet from the barrier and returning fresh with a good draw. She exits the key Poinsettia Stakes, from which two won their subsequently starts. For the record, the other two are 6-Dealing Justice (15-1), who showed improvement first time for Riley Mott, worked strongly since and getting Irad here, and 11-Samurai Charm (3-1), dropping out of graded SoCal stakes and reunited with Lasix, with which she’s 2-for-2 recently.

BEST BET: Mercy Warren

BEST VALUE: Hazy Command

EXOTICA: Yuugiri and Pretty Birdie are exacta inclusions. Will take Dealing Justice and Samurai Charm to fill out super-exotics.


The Skinny: Yet another competitive event for these young three year old fillies at various stages of their form cycle. And again, half of them have a license here but we’ve narrowed the top of the ticket down to two: the speedy price shot 1-Effortlesslyelegant (20-10 and strong late runner 7-Wet Paint (7-2).

Effortlesslyselegant goes first-time two turns for Norm Casse, winning at an ungodly 50% rate at this meet. While there is other speed signed on, she has the pedigree for added distance and has run well on wet tracks, the expected conditions here. He broke maiden as Santana pleased showing the early speed he never had a chance to display on debut, but showed class late, beating half the field after finally getting a clear, wide lane. Meets tougher and more experienced but gets five pounds and the pole.

Wet Paint won both her runs on wet tracks, including one at the trip on this surface when taking the Martha Washington with a strong late rally, running to her stout pedigree. Has the connections with Cox and Prat calling the shots on the Godolphin filly, working a bullet for her return. She’ll be a tough out.

BEST BET: Wet Paint

BEST VALUE: Effortlesslyelegant

EXOTICA: Will fill out the exotics with 2-Towhead (9-2), a winner of her OP debut at the trip; 3-Grand Love (3-1), also speed and tried the heavy heads in her juvenile finales; 4-Gambling Girl (12-1), a mini-turn-back for Todd/Irad team and 12-Taxed (15-1), a very game second to Wet Paint last out and a plausible exacta player at fair odds.


The Skinny: Unknown newcomers notwithstanding, three stand tallest of this limit field; 2-Skyped (9-2); 7-Midnight Taxes (3-1) and 10-Time Andbeyond (5-2). Fully realize that Skyped in a six year old non-winner but obviously had issues, making only 11 starts, but with seven board hits. His last was his best when reunited with Lasix, racing five across the track early, a 3-4 wide sweep around the turn but only a very game second run down late by a well meant first-timer. He moves inside here and likely pocket-sitter with Borel.

Midnight Taxes is the fuzzy in the group, going from SoCal special-weights to Arkansas breds. Further he makes his first start for Chris Hartman added Lasix, both profitable scenarios for this outfit. What’s more, the first-time gelding gets switch to Juarez, the barn’s 19% stable rider. Time Andbeyond showed improvement in his juvenile finale when dropped into the state-bred ranks and getting first Lasix. Second, he was nearly 9 lengths ahead of the show finisher; Bejarano accepts the return call.

BEST BET: Time Andbeyond

BEST VALUE: Midnight Taxes

EXOTICA: Making an exacta box of the three main contenders, and will be looking for tote clues on 4-Table Money (8-1), a Steve Asmussen newcomer with a purposeful workline; son Keith gets the ride.


On Monday, Steve Asmussen surpassed the 10,000 win mark in his career and will retire that all-time trophy. There are no words to describe this unfathomable singular achievement, other than hearty congratulations on an impossible job well done… There will be more Bob Baffert three-year-olds on the move. Thus far, two have been the aforementioned Tim Yakteen and Britney Russell, Maryland-based and new to the national scene… Long overdue was recognition of black horseman to the underpinnings of horse race as a sport. Kudos also to the Keeneland Library for their efforts just before the end of Black History Month in recognizing of the historic contributions made by black horsemen centuries ago.

This is a live column and will be updated throughout the weekend.  Still to come an analysis of Oaklawn’s finale to complete the Late Pick 3

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

4 Responses

  1. Got up to play the Saudi card. At least to watch some of it. I still don’t love contributing to Saudi horse racing to be honest.

  2. Doc, Like last year, I’m boycotting the Saudi Cup. I feel you. There’s plenty going on stateside today, there is no lack of opportunities at home.

  3. Passed on all things Saudi today, and got lucky by forgiving Confidence Game’s last. Not thrilled with much else in the race, so I went for the price horse. Unlike getting greedy last week by canceling a winning price wager for an exacta box, I played safe and wagered on what I thought was a 22-1 shot that was favored in his last. At last flash he went from 22-1 to 18-1, so I guess many others did the same going for the price Sterling felt he was good at 10-1. Worked for me. I would have lost the exacta by the way as the “not a Baffert’s runner anymore for now” runner finished third. Lesson learned. Don’t cancel your price tickets for more. Who knew? In my 75th year and I’m still learning. Will use a few of the extra dollars from today on tomorrow’s HRI FRA. Riders Up!

  4. Never too old to learn, especially in this game. Happy for you McD, but he cost me a small score. Used him underneath, used the second and third runners, as well as Giant Mischief, as ticket toppers, and bet on the 9-1 runnerup straight. Ouch, ouch and ouch! Well, that’s what one gets in a zero-sum game.
    BTW, haven’t done Tampa yet but Gulfstream’s sixth looks solid…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *