The Monday Special – Feb. 12

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The Monday Special is back for Week 3, in time to recap a somewhat light slate of classic preps, the National Horseplayers Championship, a strong performance by one of our own in a charity handicapping tournament and a little of this and a little of that as Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day barrels down.


Classic Prep

A week removed from a fairly busy slate of Kentucky Derby preps, Tampa Bay Downs hosted the lone event of consequence going two turns with the Sam F. Davis on its Saturday card that also featured the return of champion and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner World Approval.

Flameaway scored an upset victory in the Sam F. Davis, going to the front and holding off favored Remsen Stakes winner Catholic Boy to win by a half-length in stakes-record time. The Saratoga Special’s Ben Gowans was on hand for the action Saturday at Tampa and we’ll post his feature later this week.

The first two should be familiar to readers as we wrote about Flameaway and Catholic Boy in two articles apiece that appeared in The Saratoga Special and on

Flameaway in the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Flameaway in the Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland Race Course

Catholic Boy in the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Catholic Boy in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct


For Charity’s Sake

Sean Clancy fared the best of the three “handicappers” representing Team TIHR/The Saratoga Special in Saturday’s Tito’s $10,000 Charity Challenge that was part of the 19th annual NTRA National Horseplayer’s Championship.

Sean picked two winners and another two of his picks finished second as he finished third in the eight-race contest. Sean finished with a mythical bankroll of $47.40 – a total earned based on a $2 Win/Place bet for the eight designated races.

Sean and Team TIHR/The Saratoga Special’s other representatives – Joe Clancy and Tom Law – raced out to a quick start in the first contest race by correctly tabbing Infuse to win the sixth race at Tampa Bay Downs, racking up $13.20. Sean cashed again in the Grade 3 Suwannee River when his pick, Dream Awhile, finished second. He inched closer when Consolida upset the $50,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate to return $17.40 and $6.20 and again in the final race, a starter allowance at Santa Anita, when his pick Quick Finish finished second to return $4 to place.

Ed DeRosa of won the event with a final score of $63.40 with TVG’s Matt Carothers second at $54.60.

The $10,000 prize pool was shared between three causes – the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, official charity of the NHC ($5,000); the Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati, the nonprofit designated by DeRosa ($2,500); and another nonprofit still to be determined by title sponsor Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka ($2,500).  

Tom finished 20th with a total of $26.40 and Joe finished 32nd with $13.20.

Chris Littlemore, a retired autoworker from Whitby, Ontario, cruised to the $800,000 first prize and the Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year by winning the NHC. We invited last year’s winner, Ray Arsenault, to be a guest handicapper for a day in The Saratoga Special. We’ll try to hustle Chris, too. 


Worth Repeating

“As a 2-year-old, he looked like a chubby kid and now he’s become a sculptured man.”
Mark Casse referring to Sam F. Davis stakes winner Flameaway

“The elusive Grade 1.”
Trainer Brian Lynch after Heart To Heart secured his in Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Turf. We’ve written a lot about him through the years; how about the first time? Check it out from the deep archives, page 18 of the Aug. 21, 2014 edition of The Saratoga Special.

“He’s had more problems than Donald Trump.”
Commentator on the GBI Racing feed talking about Valdez before the 11-year-old made his first start in 1,204 days Saturday at Newbury

“For a Tapit, he’s great. He really takes interest to the women but other than that he’s very sound mentally.”
Trainer Philip Bauer after first-time starting 3-year-old colt Madison’s Luna won his debut Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs

“Useless? I don’t know if she’s useless, but I would say she’s limited.”
Trainer talking to an owner on the phone after a race at Tampa Saturday

“I’m going to give it away to my friend. I have too many.”
Jose Ortiz when asked what he was going to with the gift box he received after his win in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes aboard Dona Bruja

“I thought Ignacio was going to kill me when I passed the first-turn and I found myself on the lead.”
Ortiz when asked what he was thinking when he made the early lead with Dona Bruja

“I’d rather not tell you what I was thinking.”
Ignacio Correas when asked what he was thinking when Ortiz made the early lead

“It’s nice to give horses time off, but it’s kind of like humans when we come back from vacation, we don’t really want to do it.”
Norm Casse referring to World Approval being a bit lackadaisical when first put back into training after his post-Breeders’ Cup vacation


Tweet of the Weekend

@ShamIAmNot: Too early to say but West Point partners are hoping that Kanthaka is the best thing since his dam

Kanthaka is (of course) out of Sliced Bread