What has the last decade taught us about racing at Belmont Park?

Turf racing at Belmont Park - Photo by Coglianese Photography Recently I was thinking back on the unforgettable 3-year-old campaign of super filly Rachel Alexandra, and I had to shake my head at the thought that 10 years have passed since her sensational 2009 season. It seems like yesterday Rachel Alexandra was obliterating eventual grade 1 winners Malibu Prayer and Flashing by 19 1/4 lengths and 31 1/2 lengths, respectively, in the 2009 Mother Goose Stakes (G1) at [...]

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 [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Jockey Assignments, Facts and Trends

Jockey Mike Smith aboard Kentucky Derby winner Justify - Coady Photography It is often said that jockeys are unable to make horses run beyond their abilities, but the difference between victory and defeat can come down to the skills of a rider in saving ground, timing moves correctly and riding hard to the finish line. That’s why the 20 jockeys who will compete in the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) include the most talented riders in North America. Leading [...]

Four Takeaways from the Arkansas Derby

Omaha Beach turns back Improbable in the Arkansas Derby (G1) - Coady Photography The final prep race for the 2019 Kentucky Derby produced a thrilling finish, as Omaha Beach and Improbable battled to the wire in a strong renewal of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. Wet weather may have produced a sloppy, sealed track, but it did little to dampen the quality of the race. There’s a lot to digest, but my primary takeaways [...]

Tacitus Prevails in Roughly-Run Wood Memorial

Tacitus winning the Wood Memorial (gr. II) at Aqueduct - © NYRA/Coglianese Photography In one of the roughest races seen on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this winter, favored Tacitus emerged from a battle-weary field to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct in hard-fought fashion. Chaos reigned during the run to the first turn, and even Tacitus did not emerge unscathed. A generally ragged start was made worse when Tax, breaking from the rail, [...]

Plus Que Parfait Rebounds in UAE Derby

Plus Que Parfait winning the UAE Derby - © Dubai Racing Club/Mathea Kelley After being soundly defeated in two Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds this winter, it seemed as though the Derby trail had come to an end for Plus Que Parfait. But his undaunted connections persevered and set their sights on another target—the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, offering 100 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the winner. And [...]

Tacitus Breaks Through in Tampa Bay Derby

Tacitus winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) - Photo by SV Photography Early speed, middle moves, late rallies, a wild finish with a half-dozen horses in the hunt—from start to finish, the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs had it all. Ultimately, it was Bill Mott’s lightly-raced Tacitus who emerged from the fray victorious in the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, which was no small feat considering that Tacitus was racing [...]

Why I’m Betting Longshot Kulin Rock in the Mac Diarmida

Zulu Alpha winning the Sycamore Stakes (gr. III) - Keeneland Photo Sometimes, it seems like trainer Mike Maker is able to work miracles with little-known grass runners, turning them into graded stakes winners seemingly overnight. His strategy tends to be simple, at least to the casual observer. It goes something like this—find a nice, solid competitor, stretch him or her out in distance, and see what happens. That exactly what Maker will do with #9 Kulin Rock in [...]

Harvey Wallbanger Posts 29-1 Upset in Holy Bull Stakes

Harvey Wallbanger winning the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) - Photo by Adam Coglianese Photography/Leslie Martin Harvey Wallbanger spent much of Saturday’s Fasig-Tipon Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park racing in last place, but the 29-1 shot made the last move and ultimately had the last laugh as he rallied to post a stunning upset victory. The early pace of the 8.5-furlong Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race wound up more contested than expected as Epic [...]