Months and weeks of anticipation is now down to just a few days as Kentucky Derby 141 approaches. It’s officially Derby Week and with it the requisite crush on Louisville, complete with tips and touts from just about everyone with a media credential whether they watch five horses train or 500.
The general consensus from Churchill Downs with less than a week to go is that American Pharoah is not only an appropriate favorite on paper but in the flesh. Despite his big shadow a field of 20 still appears likely, so at least Churchill’s much ballyhooed points system will come into play to determine a few 40-1 shots.
Speaking of Churchill, the often maligned and criticized track opened its spring-summer meeting Saturday night. The William Walker was the feature and even though the race was fairly late by racetracker standers – post time 9:03 p.m. EDT – it seems like a good place to start our semi-regular Monday wrapup.
Cinco Charlie, described by This Is Horse Racing’s Sean Clancy as “the Townes Van Zandt of horses,” did what he’s been doing for what seems like quite a while now as he set the pace and dusted his five opponents.
The victory was the seventh in 11 career starts for the son of Indian Charlie, who previously won the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill. He’s won at four other tracks, too, and their locations would provide a good geography lesson for an elementary-school age racing fan out there. Quick, name the states where Laurel Park, Delaware Park (that one’s free), Fair Grounds and Sunland Park are located.
Look for Cinco Charlie to show up next in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard.
New York, New York
Belmont Park opens its spring-summer meeting Wednesday, a welcome sign on the New York circuit after a long winter haul at nearby Aqueduct.
The Big A said farewell for another season Sunday, ending a run that started back in late October and meandered through a vicious winter in the Northeast.
The final graded stakes of the meet – the Grade 3 Excelsior going 10 furlongs on the main track – was run Saturday. We included the long-standing fixture in our Saturday Special.
What we wrote: Aqueduct. Race 8. 4:57. Guess we better watch the replay of the Stymie. The Excelsior Handicap pits Turco Bravo, Cousin Stephen, North Slope and Micromanage, they finished within 5 lengths of each other that day. Look out for Effinex, he’ll love the trip. And, oh yeah, his stablemate, Travers runner-up Wicked Strong.
What happened: Cousin Stephen and North Slope scratched, so the Stymie angle wasn’t as strong, but Effinex certainly loved the trip and won by three-quarters of a length at 6-1 over Red Rifle at 8-1. Wicked Strong, the 3/5 favorite in the field of six, was third.
Rainbow 6 paid out
If you needed any further evidence that horseplayers don’t like short fields and prefer to dip way more than a toe into a big pool, look no further than betting on the Rainbow 6 Saturday Gulfstream Park.
The mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 resulted in a record total pool of nearly $7.2 million Saturday – that’s nearly $5.7 million more than was carried over from Friday’s card. The previous mark for money bet into the Rainbow 6 was $3.5 million in 2011 when it featured a $1.4 million carryover. The winning ticket – numbers 1-7-8-3-9-4 for those who prefer to yell at television sets or computer monitors – returned $14,504.92.
We looked at several races on the card, including the sub-featured Tarpon Stakes early in the day and went race-by-race for the Rainbow 6.
Here’s the Tarpon …
What we wrote: Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 2:30. Mr. Jordon won’t face Competitive Edge here, the three-time winner adds blinkers and is even money on the morning line.
What happened: Mr. Jordan couldn’t hold a straight line, even with the blinkers, and was disqualified from first to second at 3/10 odds after bearing out and impeding Royal Squeeze in deep stretch.
As for the Rainbow 6 …
What we wrote: Gulfstream. Race 6. 3:30. The Rainbow 6 kicks off with maiden-claiming sprint on the main track. Tough task in opening leg with a few with 10 or more starts (losses) and no firsters. Dig deep and take the plunge.
What happened: One Proud Dude wasn’t one of the 10-times (or more) losers but he was close. Foresty gelding won start No. 10 at 27-1. Hopefully you dug deep.
What we wrote: Gulfstream. Race 7. 4:00. Royal Ascot, Saratoga, Gulfstream. Now, that’s a form line. Cordero has burned money on the first two stops, he’ll take money here as he makes his first start for Todd Pletcher.
What happened: Cordero took money and it turned out to be smart money at last. Giant’s Causeway colt won by 2 1/4 lengths as the 9/10 favorite in field of eight.
What we wrote: Gulfstream. Race 8. 4:30. Field of 11 for $30,000 claiming race on the grass. Edgar Prado, yes Edgar Prado, has been tearing it up of late and he rides Majestic Breeze for Ralph Nicks.
What happened: Back-to-back winners for TIHR as Majestic Breeze and Prado won by a neck.
What we wrote: Gulfstream. Race 9. 5:00. On a map, it’s 29.57 miles from Winchester to Middleburg. In earnings, it’s $1,393,014. Winchester has a big lead on Middleburg. Little brother tries to make it three in a row by winning the Miami Mile for owners/breeders Bertram and Diana Firestone.
What happened: Middleburg didn’t get the chance to inch closer to big brother as he was scratched when the skies opened up. Rerun, second longest shot on the board at 21-1, upset favored Grand Tito in Grade 3 event.
What we wrote: Gulfstream. Race 10. 5:30. Baffle Me deserves one this winter. But this won’t be easy as millionaire Discreet Marq begins her 5-year-old career in the Powder Break.
What happened: Baffle Me got what he deserved, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over E B Ryder and Big N Toasty. The scratch of Discreet Marq – again because of the earlier rains – certainly didn’t hurt.
What we wrote: Gulfstream. Race 11. 6:00. Hope you’re still alive for the Rainbow 6. Field of 13 for $8,000 claimer going 7 furlongs. Root for a bomb, if you have them.
What happened: A bomb didn’t go off but the Holy Bull gelding Be A Bull still returned a decent mutual, paying $15.20 for 2 1/2-length win.
Late April leftovers
Since we’re all about accountability today, what else went down over the weekend and how’d we call it? Here’s a condensed recap.
What we wrote: Woodbine. Race 4. 2:31. Weird angle of the day. Six of the eight entrants in 6 1/2-furlong allowance for fillies and mares have three wins at Woodbine. More Than Bandeau, fifth last time in Grade 3 Whimsical a week ago, has four. She’s the one.
What happened: More Than Beandeau wasn’t the one. Miss Tatey Cat, one of those six with three wins at Woodbine, won by 3 ¼ lengths over Enhanced as the favorite.
What we wrote: Woodbine. Race 6. 3:38. Field of Courage returns from Florida freshening for Oxley/Casse in Ontario-sired allowance sprint.
What happened: Who’s better than Mark Casse and John Oxley in Toronto? Field of Courage liked the return from Florida and won by 2 ½ lengths.
What we wrote: Santa Anita Park. Race 2. 4:00. War Academy, pulled up as the favorite for 2013 Arkansas Derby, makes first start since last July 4 for Bob Baffert in 6-furlong allowance-optional.
What happened: No signs of rust for War Academy, a 1 1/4-length winner. Giant’s Causeway gelding was claimed for $62,500 by trainer Emily Mode for owner Lawrence Roman.
What we wrote: Tampa Bay Downs. Race 8. 4:18. From the Not Every Day Department: Drumlish, New York-bred gelding by Black Tie Affair, makes debut as 6-year-old in 1-mile turf maiden.
What happened: Drumlish beat one, and that opponent was 45 lengths back. Ouch.
What we wrote: Woodbine. Race 8. 4:43. Conquest Titan won Swynford Stakes in his last afternoon appearance in Toronto. Went through Triple Crown prep season last spring and returns in allowance-optional after more than 10-month break.
What happened: Casse struck again, winning with Constantino as Conquest Titan finished last of six after pressing the pace early.
What we wrote: Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:00. Zayat, Baffert and Espinoza – busy in a week’s time at the Kentucky Derby with likely favorite American Pharoah – should factor in turf maiden as Madam Aamoura tries to get it done in start No. 10.
What happened: Zayat, Baffert and Espinoza certainly hoping for a better outcome Saturday than Madam Aamoura, who was seventh of 11 as Paulina’s Love romped for Richard Baltas.
What we wrote: Fonner Park. Race 9. 6:22. Don’t you wish you had horses at Fonner Park? Just so you could say, “I’m aiming at the Bosselman Pump and Pantry/Gus Fonner Stakes.” $75,000 up for grabs. Doctor Peter exits Oaklawn Park and attracts morning line favoritism. Diamond Joe seeks win No. 19.
What happened: Joy Boy, also exiting Oaklawn, defeated Diamond Joe and Doctor Peter fairly easily.
What we wrote: Golden Gate Fields. Race 7. 6:45. The San Francisco Mile attracts three from Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, one from Graham Motion and one from Neil Drysdale. The former three are based in Northern California while the latter two ship from Santa Anita.
What happened: Hollendorfer kept the dough at home, going one-two with G. G. Ryder and Summer Hit. Drysale was third with Are You Kidden Me and Motion was sixth with Edge of Reality.
What we wrote: Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. Interesting group for Grade 3 Last Tycoon. Big John B makes first start since ninth in Breeders’ Cup Turf, Power Foot tries to break through in graded company and Quick Casablanca attempts to defend title in 10-furlong stakes on grass.
What happened: Bombs away. Si Sage took the lead into the stretch and stayed there, winning in a romp at nearly 43-1 for Darrell Vienna. Big John B was last, Power Foot was fourth and Quick Casablanca was fifth.
What we wrote: Will Rogers Downs. Race 7. 7:18. We love streaks wherever they reign. Proceed Bee has won four in a row, at four different tracks and with two different trainers. If he wins here, he’s even money, it will be win No. 20.
What happened: Proceed Bee will have to wait until next time after finishing second to Perfect to Please.
What we wrote: Charles Town Races. Race 7. 9:55. Linda Zang’s homebred Waterside Dream impressed in her debut back in February, she takes on three-time winner Red Hot Revenge, who drops out of state-bred competition and into first-level allowance conditions. There’s nothing like a state-bred program, she’s won three races and earned $63,310 and is eligible for never won two conditions.
What happened: Success At Sunup spoiled it for Waterside Dream, Red Hot Revenge and favored Pepper Bay, winning by a neck and pocketing first-place money of $15,540.
What we wrote: Evangeline Downs. Race 9. 10:16. The great String King aims at win No. 16 in the John Henry Stakes. Bred, owned and trained by Charles Smith, the 7-year-old won his last two at Fair Grounds, including the Grade 3 Bradley in January. Jockey James Graham, aboard for his three most recent starts, travels north while Richard Eramia stays put and returns aboard the Louisiana-bred star.
What happened: String King showed the kind of gameness to make the late John Henry proud, but it wasn’t enough to fend off Stormdriver in the stretch.
What we wrote: Prairie Meadows Race Track. Race 8. 10:37. Who do you like in the Goldfinch? Maggi Moss doesn’t miss a spot, she sends Sibling War for the $75,000 stakes.
What happened: Sibling War finished fourth as the Indiana-bred I’m Workin On It stayed unbeaten in three career starts with 3-length victory at odds-on.
Double up, twice
The steeplechase handicappers from This Is Horse Racing are operating almost at a slower pace than spring’s arrival in the Northeast.
They were blanked in the Maryland Hunt Cup, tabbing neither the disqualified Imperial Way (taken down when his jockey weighed in underweight after jockey lost lead pads during the race) or adjudged winner Raven’s Choice. They were unanimous in their selection of Guts For Garters, who finished second.
Joe picked two winners at the Foxfield Spring Races in Charlottesville, Va., and two winners at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase in Mineral Springs, N.C. He correctly tabbed Young Bohemian in the maiden hurdle and Fall Colors in the maiden claiming hurdle at Foxfield and Maserati in the maiden hurdle and No Wunder in the training flat in Mineral Springs.
Sean picked three winners in Mineral Springs – Maserati, Ginobi in the maiden claiming hurdle and No Wunder – and also tabbed Young Bohemian in Charlottesville.
Joe and Sean are tied at the top with 12 wins.
Tom struggled mightily, picking just two winners at the other two meets – Young Bohemian and No Wunder. He’s third, and probably looking forward to The Power Grid at Saratoga already, with nine wins.