Kentucky Derby Day 2018 – Pick 6 Sequence Analysis (races 6-11)

Race 7: The Churchill Distaff Turf Mile – 11-2-9

This race is #11 La Coronel’s race to lose. She’s winless in three starts since the Queen Elizabeth II at the Keeneland fall meet, but has not embarrassed herself in those races, finishing second by four lengths, third by 3/4 of a length, and fourth by three lengths. Even so, her speed figures are the best in the field and she is a classy filly with the tactical speed to position herself well behind expected pacesetter #10 Psycho Sister. However, she’s far from invincible in a race with plenty of other talented fillies and mares, and my top pick to upset her is #2 Thundering Sky. She hasn’t been off the board in her three 2018 starts so far, and is another filly in this race with enough speed to secure decent position in the early stages of this mile on the turf. In her first race of the year, she finished third behind Madame Stripes and Insta Erma in the G3 Megahertz Stakes. She will be facing both of those rivals again in here, but she was most recently seen getting the better of Madame Stripes by half a length when finishing second in the G2 Royal Heroine at Santa Anita, despite being in tight quarters and steadying at the eighth pole. #9 On Leave, for Stuart Janney and Shug McGaughey, is coming off a close defeat in the G3 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park behind Lull and Res Ipsa. She has never been off the board at the distance of one mile. She’s an incredibly consistent five-year-old daughter of War Front, and can be counted on to run her race. She won’t let the speed get too far away from her, and Jose Ortiz will have options from the nine post.

Race 8: The Churchill Downs Stakes – 10-3-1

#10 Awesome Slew ran his first race off a five-month layoff on April 7th, 2018, following up his third-place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with a runner-up effort behind budding star Army Mule in the G1 Carter Handicap. While his closing style may not be condusive to the way the Churchill Downs main track has been playing the last two days, I believe that he is the best horse in the race and the horse that everyone will need to be looking out for late. He’s never been worse than second in five tries at seven furlongs, a distance that should suit this son of Awesome Again beautifully. #3 Imperial Hint is the 9-5 morning line favorite, and with the way that speed has been holding over this track, he deserves favoritism. He is wickedly fast, and even if he is outsprinted to the early lead by the speedball #2 Chief Cicatriz, he has shown the ability to rate and close in the past, though it hasn’t been necessary as of late. Imperial Hint’s only loss since December 17th, 2016 came in the G1 Breeders Cup Sprint where he was second defeated only a length by Roy H. He won a $100k race for Florida-breds at Tampa Bay Downs in his comeback, receiving a rather inferior Beyer of 92 compared to his six straight triple digit Beyer figures, but the race was so easy for him that it’s hard to gauge what, if anything, he got out of the race. He has two quick works since, though – a bullet four furlongs in :47 1/5 at Tampa Bay Downs and five furlongs in :59 2/5 over this track on April 26th, a move that was the second fastest of 32 on the day. He is the most likely winner of this race due to his style and the way the track has been playing, but I’m willing to give the edge to the classy Awesome Slew in the hopes that a fairly fresh Imperial Hint gets at least a little weakened by the other speed in the race. #1 Whitmore has been off the board only once since cutting back to sprint races following a 19th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. That single poor effort came in the Breeders Cup Sprint, but he has been victories in both of his 2018 starts, posting Beyer figures of 102 in each. He is as consistent as they come at the sprint distance, and while he is known for his big finishing moves, he is plenty capable of getting involved in the race and not allowing the early speed to get away from him.

Race 9: The American Turf Stakes – 1-6-11-3

#1 Speed Franco should be the controlling speed in here, something I think is often underestimated in turf races. His last three Beyer figures have been 90-88-89, and no other horse has posted anything over an 88. I don’t think there’s a horse in here with more talent than him, and the fact that he will likely get an easy lead make him doubly tough in this race. If he is anywhere near the 6-1 morning line price, he is a must-play across the board. Next to him, I think the most likely winner is #6 River Boyne, another horse that I believe has a big future. After three unsuccessful starts in Europe, he ran second in his American racing debut to Blended Citizen, and while he was only an also-eligible in the Derby field, I believe he is a colt with a lot of potential. Following that, River Boyne broke his maiden by five lengths in December of his two-year-old career. He hasn’t lost in his two starts since, including his most recent win in a $200k stakes race at Santa Anita.

#11 Untamed Domain was beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Speed Franco in his most recent turf race on February 3rd – he most recently tried the dirt to no avail in the Tampa Bay Derby. However, he was beaten only a length when finishing second to Mendelssohn in his race prior to that. I’m willing to believe that this colt has improved for Graham Motion since February, and even the slightest improvement puts him right there in this race. #3 Threeandfourpence is making his first start in the United States for trainer Aiden O’Brien, and this colt was only beaten 3/4 of a length by Mendelssohn two starts back on a synthetic surface (he, like Untamed Domain, experimented with dirt in his most recent start; for Threeandfourpence, that was in the UAE Derby, where he was never involved). This son of War Front was fourth behind U S Navy Flag and Mendelssohn in the G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes, which was his last turf effort. He is a horse to be taken seriously, but a major unknown factor in here.

Race 10: The Pat Day Mile – 7-1-8-3

This race promises to be a competitive affair, and I think it’s a tough race to handicap. I ended up with #7 Madison’s Luna on top. I am looking forward to seeing this 2-for-2 son of Tapit go two turns for the first time. He’s a half brother to two G1 winners and he was very impressive in his score in the G3 Hutcheson last time out, receiving a 92 Beyer in the process. #1 National Flag is another horse that must be respected. After an uninspiring debut as an odds-on favorite, National Flag broke his maiden in his second start in a race where he showed some courage after getting bumped around some in the stretch. He was disappointing in the G1 Hopeful, but returned as a three-year-old to win an Allowance at Gulfstream Park – where he got an exceptional 100 Beyer, – and then took the Bay Shore at Aqueduct in his most recent race. He showed a new dimension in that race, being forced to rate after getting squeezed at the start but making a big move to win by a widening four lengths. He’s by Speightstown, who was himself a sprinter but whose offspring prove exceptionally versatile time and time again, and his dam is by Bernardini and a half-sister to Eddington, who was competitive in graded stakes at up to ten furlongs, so I think the added distance will only help him.

#8 Mask is a very exciting Chad Brown trainee making only his third start after a debut win by 3 and a win in the mile $100k Mucho Macho Man Stakes by over 6 lengths. He is another son of Tapit whose ceiling we have yet to see, and he also comes from a strong female family – while his dam was a stakes winner at 5 1/2 furlongs and is by sprinter Yonaguska, a mile shouldn’t be out of his wheelhouse thanks to the influence of his sire. His dams siblings include Bullsbay (a G1 winner at 9f) and Our Khrysty (a G3 winner at 8.5f). He’s another horse in here who could be any kind, and he showed in his 6 1/2 furlong debut that he is fully capable of rating if another horse wants to gun for the lead, but Javier Castellano will be able to keep him close. It’s worth noting that, while I don’t give him a big shot at the win, there is another well-bred Tapit colt in the race – #3 New York Central for Todd Pletcher is a half-brother to Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar, and if you throw out his Sunland Park Derby at 1 1/8 miles, he fits perfectly with these. This is a horse with a 12-1 shot at winning this race, not a 30-1 shot (as he is on the morning line), and is worth using underneath in exotics.

Race 11: The Turf Classic – 10-7-2-1

I like #10 Beach Patrol on top in this race. He was last seen being defeated only half a length in the G1 Breeders Cup Turf, and he was second in this race last year. Between then, he has been off the board only once – when he was beaten 1 1/2 lengths finishing fourth in the G1 Manhattan. He has run seven consecutive 100+ Beyer speed figures, and as long as he can relax in his first race since last November, I think he’ll be hard to beat in here. #7 Synchrony is two-for-two in 2018 after knocking on the door in stakes company at the end of last year, and while this is a bit of a step up in class after winning in G3 and G2 company in his first two starts of the year, I think he’s the “now” horse, and his Beyers of 102 and 103 in 2018 put him right in this mix. If Beach Patrol doesn’t relax though, the horse that will give him the most trouble is #2 Shining Copper, a horse who used to be simply a rabbit for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, but has really come into his own in his own right. #1 Deauville was beaten 3/4 of a length by Beach Patrol in the Arlington Million last year. In his most recent start on April 18th, he was beaten only half a length in a G3 race in Europe. He needs to have improved since last August, as I believe Beach Patrol has, but he does have the edge of a start in 2018. He’s a very good horse but I think he is likely to be overbet as a European contender.


2018 Dubai World Cup Picks

As usual, I was last minute typing this up, but here are my picks for the rest of the Dubai World Cup card today:

UAE Derby

The two favorites look tough again in here – Gold Town won both the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and the Guineas itself, the latter by over ten lengths, and his main competition seems to be from Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn, who has won both starts since over synthetic at Dundalk. His breeding suggests he should handle the dirt fine, and I think he has a lot of natural ability as well. UAE Oaks winner Rayya will take on the colts in this race, and she’s never been worse than second in four lifetime starts. The UAE Oaks is at this distance, so she has already proven her ability to stay 1 3/16 miles. The American Reride is interesting to me in this spot. Winner of the Mine That Bird Derby for Steve Assmussen in his last start, his only career loss was in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at age two. The son of Candy Ride ran a 91 Beyer in that race, defeating Runaway Ghost, who would return to win the Sunland Derby in his following start. Being out of a Tapit mare, I think he will be suited to the distance. Yulong Warrior is another worth mentioning, having won the 1 3/16 mile Al Bastakiya at Meydan on March 10th by 11 1/2 lengths.


$2 Win #4 Mendelssohn

$1 Exacta Box #1 Rayya / #4 Mendelssohn / #5 Gold Town

$2 Show #3 Reride

Al Quoz Sprint

Okay, I may be completely missing something, and he could prove me wrong and win impressively, but I do not like 4-5 morning line favorite Blue Point in this race. I understand why he is favored, but I do not think he deserves such heavy favoritism, and I think that creates a lot of potential value in this race. I love Holding Gold in this race. The last time he ran six furlongs, he was beaten a length by Disco Partner in that horse’s world record-setting Jaipur at Belmont Park. Holding Gold himself ran sub-1:06 in that race, despite placing third, and no other horse in this race has broken the 1:08 barrier  (at least within the last five races shown on my PPs). Though he was 7th in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint and 6th in the Turf Monster at Parx, he was beaten less than two lengths in both of those races and didn’t disgrace himself. The Mark Casse trainee is coming off a win in a stakes at Fair Grounds, which should set him up well for this. Jungle Cat would be my second pick, and is the horse to beat in my opinion. He soundly defeated track record holder Ertijaal in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on March 10th, and prior to that he was victorious in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort. Librisia Breeze was last seen in October winning the G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot. He was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths in the G1 Diamond Jubilee behind The Tin Man last June off an eight month layoff, so I don’t think the five months since his last race will be a problem. I believe that Conquest Tsunami is the quickest horse in the race, and he is my preference of the three Peter Miller trainees in here, but I’m not sure he’s good enough to win this. Also worth mentioning is Godolphin’s third entrant, Baccarat, who was 3 1/2 lengths behind Jungle Cat last time but prior to that he was seen winning at the distance earlier in the meet, and all three races the 9-year-old has run this year have been good.

$2 Win #6 Holding Gold

$1 Exacta Box #3 Librisia Breeze / #6 Holding Gold / #10 Jungle Cat

$2 Show #6 Holding Gold

Dubai Golden Shaheen

This race is being billed as a showdown between Americans X Y Jet, who ran admirably in this race as the favorite in 2016 and seems to have come back as good as ever after being off for over a year, and Breeders Cup Sprint winner Roy H. X Y Jet has won all three races since the layoff, and while he hasn’t defeated much in those races, he’s done it stylishly. However, I’ll give the edge to the Breeders Cup winner, who has since won the Palos Verdes in preparation for this race. X Y Jet should go to the lead, and I don’t think Roy H will let him get too far away. Mind Your Biscuits hasn’t won since the July 8th Belmont Sprint, but he is the defending champion in this race and he was third behind Roy H in the Breeders Cup. He’s never been off the board in six starts at six furlongs, and he ran big behind Sharp Azteca in the Cigar Mile two starts back, where he posted a career-best 107 Beyer. His most recent race, a loss in allowance company to Conquest Windycity, is a bit of a concern, but I trust that Chad Summers will have him ready to go this time. Also worth a shoutout is the 12-year-old veteran Reynaldothewizard, who has raced twice since being well-beaten by Mind Your Biscuits in this race last year, finished third in both of those races. He’s a classy horse and while I’m not sure he’s up to defeating the top two in here, I think he has every chance to hit the board at a big price.


$2 Win #6 Roy H

$1 Exacta Box #1 Mind Your Biscuits / #2 X Y Jet / #6 Roy H

$2 Show #3 Reynaldothewizard

Dubai Turf

Benbatl is favored on the morning line in this race, and he makes a lot of sense off three good races at the meet this year – wins in the G3 Singspiel Stakes and G2 Al Rashidiya, and a narrow defeat to Blair House in the Jebel Hatta last time. He is the horse to beat and a deserving favorite, but I like Japan’s Neorealism on top. If you toss his poor effort in the Tenno Show behind Kitasan Black, he looks to be coming into this race in similar form to he was prior to his victory in the G2 Nakayama Kinen last February. He’s 3-for-6 at the distance and I think he makes a good alternative to the favorite. Real Steel, also based in Japan, was beaten 4 1/2 lengths to Neorealism in the aforementioned Nakayama Kinen, but if he were to repeat his effort in the Mainichi Okan last October, where he ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.6, he could have a shot here. I like him cutting back from the 1 1/4 miles of the Tenno Sho – he’s only been off the board once at 1 1/8 miles in seven tries. Blair House, who defeated the favorite in the Jebel Hatta, is in great form recently, not finishing worse than second in four races this year.


$2 Win #2 Neorealism

$1 Exacta Box #2 Neorealism / #5 Benbatl / #15 Blair House

$2 Show #8 Real Steel

Dubai Sheema Classic

I think this is Godolphin’s best chance to get a win on Dubai World Cup night, as Cloth of Stars looks awfully tough here. The runner-up in the 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe comes into this race off a second-place finish to BC Turf winner Talismanic on March 6th in the Prix Darshaan. He’s only finished off the board once in 14 starts, and really looks like he’ll be hard to beat. However, I do think that there are two main possible upsetters in Rey de Oro and Hawkbill.  Rey de Oro is a G1 winner at 1 1/2 miles, and seems to be a very consistent performer at the highest levels of racing in Japan. He is coming off a defeat as the odds-on favorite in the Kyoto Kinen on February 11th, but I’m willing to give him another chance. Hawkbill, meanwhile, won the G2 Dubai City of Gold Stakes in his prep for this, and the five-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy will likely be well-placed early, which can only help his chances.


$2 Win #6 Cloth of Stars

$1 Exacta Box #3 Rey de Oro / #6 Cloth of Stars / #7 Hawkbill

$2 Show #7 Hawkbill

Dubai World Cup

I tried and tried to find a way to beat West Coast in this race, and have simply come up empty. He’s simply the best dirt horse in America right now, with the retirement of Gun Runner, and seems to only be getting better. On top of likely being the best horse in the race, he looks to also get a dream trip, with good tactical speed and the ability to rate behind a horse like Mubtaahij, who may be going for the lead here, if needed. His biggest threat comes from Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic, who won on synthetic in his one race since the Breeders’ Cup, but has never run on natural dirt. However, being by Medaglia d’Oro, dirt isn’t completely out of the question. I think he’s the only horse who may be West Coast’s equal or better on sheer talent, but the surface is a significant question mark. Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled will be making the final start of her career in this race, and I think the distance could be a big positive for her. She’s a talented horse, but this is by far the toughest race of her life, and I’m afraid her familiarity to American gamblers could cause her to be an underlay. At her morning line odds of 8-1, I think she’s a reasonable bet. North America has improved with each race this year, running in all three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, culminating with a 5 1/4 length win in Round 3 over Thunder Snow. He’s another contender in the race, but again, I’m not sure if any of these horses are going to be able to run with West Coast.


$2 Win #9 West Coast

$1 Exacta Box #2 North America / #7 Talismanic / #9 West Coast

$2 Show #6 Forever Unbridled

Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families – Part Two

It’s been quite a while since my post about the information I compiled regarding the 100 distinct female families that account for over 200 Hall of Fame members, but I’m back to talk about Family 1-x, the second-most productive female family in American racing’s Hall of Fame. I’ve talked about Family 1-x before, but today I’m focusing solely on the nine Hall of Fame members who descend from the great matriarch La Troienne.

Continue reading “Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families – Part Two”

Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families

In 1895, pedigree researcher Bruce Lowe’s Breeding Horses by the Figure System was published posthumously by his friend and editor William Allison. Lowe had traced the pedigrees of the winners of the English classic races and grouped them by direct lines of tail-female descent. He then tallied the number of classic winners in each female family, and numbered them in declining order, with the family descending from Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare as family #1, the Burton Barb Mare as #2, and so on, for a total of forty-three numbered families. Herman Goos later expanded this to fifty families. While most disregard the theory that Lowe proposed as a result of his research, his family numbers are still used as a convenient method of denoting Thoroughbred female families.

It’s no surprise that some female families have proven to be exceptionally prolific – my personal favorite example is La Troienne’s family 1-x, – but I was curious to know to what extent the greatest horses of our sport descend from common female ancestors. So, I looked up the Lowe family numbers of all 206 equine members of the United States Racing Hall of Fame, and came upon some very interesting findings.

Continue reading “Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families”

Farewell to a Hero

It took me a while to post this, as it is by far the most personal thing I have ever shared on the internet, but I feel it would be an injustice to Blackie to omit the reasons he was such a substantial influence in my life. In reality, this is not a blog post about Better Talk Now – those who knew the horse far more than I have written beautiful tributes to him already,  – this is a blog post about the profound impact he had on me, personally.

I’d like to thank Herringswell Stables for their care of Blackie during and after his racing career, and for their generosity in sharing him with his legions of loyal fans. I’d also like to thank Graham Motion for responding to a letter written years ago by a teenage girl whose life was changed by his superstar gelding. I still treasure the letter (now laminated) and photographs I received in reply.

A few images from an incredible summer interning at Saratoga, a lifetime high experience born of the passion that Better Talk Now inspired


Continue reading “Farewell to a Hero”