Why I’m Keying the Favorites in the Hollywood Derby

River Boyne - © Benoit Photo With relatively few opportunities remaining for horses to compete against Grade 1 company before the end of 2018, fourteen three-year-olds have turned out to contest Saturday’s $300,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. I) at Del Mar. But while the huge field size suggests that the race should be wide-open in nature, I’m strongly drawn toward the two favorites #4 River Boyne and #6 Raging Bull, in part because I believe their most recent efforts [...]

Why I’m Betting Robert Bruce in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

Robert Bruce winning the Arlington Million (gr. I) - © Arlington Park/Coady Photography There are plenty of talented horses entered in Saturday’s $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. I) at Belmont Park—five Grade 1 winners, a Canadian classic winner, a Grade 1-placed runner, and a European invader. Still, I find it hard to look past the once-beaten Chilean-bred sensation #1 Robert Bruce, who figures to be the clear favorite in this 1 ½-mile “Win and You’re In” prep [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Top 10: Sorting Out the Euros

Robert Bruce winning the Arlington Million (gr. I) - © Arlington Park/Coady Photography Getting an early start handicapping the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) is always a challenge, since European runners tend to have the advantage, but determining which ones might make the trip is easier said than done. That said, with less than seven weeks remaining until the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, here’s my preliminary attempt at ranking some of the top contenders, which [...]

Analyze It Faces International Challengers in Secretariat Stakes

Analyze It winning the Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) - Keeneland Photo It’s not hard to imagine that Analyze It will feel a sense of relief when he heads to the starting gate for Saturday’s $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) at Arlington Park and realizes that, for once, he will not be joined by Catholic Boy. Analyze It is a head and a neck away from being undefeated in five starts, with those narrow losses coming against Catholic Boy [...]

Betting First-Time Starters in Maiden Claiming Races

Turf racing at Belmont Park - Photo by Coglianese Photography Once in a while, handicappers will come across a maiden race filled with horses that seemingly lack the desire or inclination to win. This can be particularly evident in maiden claiming races, the lowest category of races for horses that have never recorded a victory. When you come across a field with lots of experienced (but winless) runners, it can be a wise strategy to take a stand [...]