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 [...]

How to Bet the Southwest Stakes

Sueno galloping at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography When I started handicapping the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) on Presidents’ Day at Oaklawn Park, I initially began by trying to separate the six runners coming out of last month’s Smarty Jones Stakes. I took note of the fact that #1 Gray Attempt won the Smarty Jones in gate-to-wire fashion, tenaciously clinging to a narrow advantage down the homestretch while giving the impression that he was in better control [...]

Kentucky Derby, Oaks Candidates Face Off in Japan’s Hyacinth Stakes

Tokyo Racecourse (Photo courtesy of the Japan Racing Association) If you’re a forward-looking handicapper already anticipating major spring races like the UAE Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Kentucky Oaks, then I encourage you to stay up late on Saturday night and check out the Hyacinth Stakes in Japan. Held over a metric mile at Tokyo Racecourse, the Hyacinth (which technically takes place at 12:25 a.m. Eastern on Sunday Morning) serves as the third leg of the Japan Road to [...]

Why I’m Betting Eagle Song in the El Camino Real Derby

King of Speed winning the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes - © Benoit Photo The last few years have certainly been tough sledding for local runners in the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Not even their proven experience over a synthetic Tapeta track unique to California has been enough to give the Northern California locals an edge over their Southern California counterparts. Seemingly every year, an experienced turf horse from Santa Anita and/or Del [...]

Is War of Will Vulnerable in the Risen Star?

War of Will winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir If horses always ran to form and everyone always received a perfect trip, handicapping races would be easy. Certainly handicapping Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds would offer no meaningful challenge. After all, doesn’t #14 War of Will loom as a standout on paper? The son of War Front is 2-for-2 on dirt and was [...]

How to Bet the San Vicente Stakes

Santa Anita - Photo by © Breeders' Cup/Todd Buchanan 2014 Trainer Bob Baffert has won the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on nine occasions, and since he’ll be sending out two of the five starters in Sunday’s renewal of the seven-furlong sprint, it stands to reason that he’ll have a strong chance to win a tenth. Baffert’s two runners are #2 Coliseum and #3 Dessman, the favorites on the morning line at 6-5 and 5-2. [...]

How to Bet the Las Virgenes Stakes

Bellafina winning the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar - © BENOIT PHOTO In my opinion, the only way to make a meaningful profit playing Saturday’s $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita is to play the exotics straight and hope that your selections are absolutely perfect. Just five three-year-old fillies have been entered in this one-mile Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep race, and on paper, the four-time graded stakes winner #3 Bellafina towers [...]

Is Knicks Go Vulnerable in the Sam F. Davis?

Knicks Go winning the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) - Keeneland Photo I don’t think anyone will deny that #3 Knicks Go was among the best two-year-olds of 2018, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be unbeatable in Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs. Knicks Go will surely be favored in the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, but he’ll be making his first start in 2 ½ months [...]

Picks and Plays for Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs

Monte Man winning the Heitai Stakes - Photo by Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr Saturday night is Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs, a special day of racing with ten stakes events packed into a twelve-race card that kicks off at 6:25 p.m. Eastern. The card is naturally stacked with multi-race wagers, including rolling doubles and Pick 3s. Let’s go through the stakes races and look for some plays…. Race 2: Starlet Stakes #1 Midnight Fantasy has [...]

Track Condition Could Be Key Factor in Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Mucho Gusto winning the Bob Hope Stakes (gr. III) at Del Mar - © Benoit Photo Regardless of Albert Hammond’s opinion that “It Never Rains in Southern California,” the weather figures to have quite an impact on the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita. There’s plenty of rain in the forecast between now and Saturday afternoon, when the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race will be contested, but remember, the main [...]