May 2019 Breeders’ Cup Overview: Who Leads Each Division?

Bricks and Mortar winning the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) - Coady Photography Don’t look now, but the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park is just more than five months away, and the first North American leg of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series kicks off this weekend. Handicappers will be happy to know several key Breeders’ Cup divisions look wide open this year, which should make the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races exciting and competitive. Let’s quickly [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff Top 10: Division is Deep

Monomoy Girl winning the 2018 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) - Coady Photography The potential field and top contenders for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) might be unclear at this point, but the same can’t be said for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), which could be among the highlights of the championship series at Santa Anita Park this fall. There’s no shortage of high-class fillies and mares targeting the Distaff, and in compiling an initial Top 10 [...]

How to Bet the 2019 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

Point of Honor winning the Suncoast Stakes - © SV Photography I know, I know. When we were handicapping the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, we all thought there was a ton of speed in the race, only to watch in disbelief as Serengeti Empress shook loose on an uncontested lead and won in gate-to-wire fashion. But that frustrating turn of events won’t stop me from making the same declaration about Friday’s $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan [...]

Patience Pays Off, She’s a Julie Wins La Troienne

She's a Julie winning the La Troienne Stakes (G1) - Coady Photography She wasn’t the favorite—three rivals started at shorter prices—but when push came to shove, She’s a Julie was indisputably the best filly in the $500,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. She’s a Julie is a perfect example of a horse who needed time to mature before reaching peak form. After winning her debut as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs, the [...]

Frontrunning Tactics Pays Off for Serengeti Empress in Kentucky Oaks

Serengeti Empress winning the Kentucky Oaks (G1) - Coady Photography A bold, frontrunning gambit paid off for Serengeti Empress in the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 3 at Churchill Downs, surprising many handicappers who were expecting anything but a gate-to-wire winner. A full field of 14 3-year-old fillies, many of them speedy frontrunners or pace-pressers, lined up to contest 145th running of the Kentucky Oaks, so a fast and contested pace was widely expected. But when [...]

Betting Against the Proven Class in the Santa Margarita Stakes

Santa Anita - © Breeders' Cup/Todd Buchanan 2014 There might be a couple of established grade 1 performers entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, but for various reasons I’m inclined to oppose both in this 1 1/8-mile test. #8 Paradise Woods is by far the most accomplished mare in this eight-horse field, but the two-time grade 1 winner hasn’t won a race since September 2017, and she seems to have lost the [...]

Will Escape Clause Upset the Apple Blossom Handicap?

Midnight Bisou (far right) edging Elate (far left) in the Azeri Stakes - Coady Phototgraphy There are only six fillies and mares entered in Sunday’s $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn Park, but I’d argue that you won’t find a higher-quality field anywhere in the country this weekend. Five graded stakes winners, two grade 1 winners, and a two-time Canadian classic winner are among the entrants, which is why—despite what the tote board might try to tell [...]

How to Bet Saturday’s All-Stakes Pick 4 at Oaklawn Park

Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography Thanks to the split of the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) into two divisions, Oaklawn Park will be able to offer an exciting all-stakes Pick 4 on March 16 that includes both halves of the much-anticipated Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race. I’ve put together a Pick 4 play that includes a strategy I rarely utilize—using “ALL” in the most competitive leg. The rest of the sequence looks predictable enough that spreading deep [...]

Spot Plays for Southwest Stakes Day at Oaklawn Park

Jack Van Berg breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography High-class Monday racing action isn’t common, but Oaklawn Park is making an exception by scheduling three graded stakes races for February 18, Presidents’ Day. It’s a fun card with a lot of options, so let’s go through the fields and look for some spot plays…. Race 3: Maiden Special Weight There are some promising first-time starters in this race, including #1 Good as Money (a Calumet [...]

Picks and Plays for the Las Cienegas and La Canada Stakes

Santa Anita - Photo by © Breeders' Cup/Todd Buchanan 2014 Although most of the attention at Santa Anita this time of year is focused on three-year-olds and Kentucky Derby prep races, the upcoming Saturday card is a bit different, aimed at showcasing older mares on both dirt and turf. The 6.5-furlong $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes (gr. III) over the unique downhill turf course is first on the agenda, and will be followed two hours later by the 8.5-furlong [...]