Derby, Oaks Contenders Star on Stakes-Packed Saturday at Fair Grounds

Hog Creek Hustle winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography Up-and-coming two-year-olds with an eye on the 2019 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are among the many talented horses entered in the six stakes races scheduled for December 22nd at Fair Grounds. It’s yet another action-packed Saturday of high-class racing at the New Orleans track, which opened its annual winter meet on December 1st. In chronological order, the highlights on this massive 14-race card include…. Race [...]

Why I’m Betting Mr. Misunderstood in the River City Handicap

Mr. Misunderstood winning the Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. III) - Coady Photography He’s arguably the fastest horse on paper, he has a perfect record over the local turf course, and he’s dropping in class out of a Grade 1 race. What’s not to like about #3 Mr. Misunderstood in Saturday’s $100,000 River City Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs? I certainly don’t see any convincing reasons to oppose him. Trained by Brad Cox, the four-year-old son of Archarcharch [...]

Why I’m Betting Oscar Nominated in the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes

Oscar Nominated - Photo by Viola Jasko/Coglianese Photography Although most racecourses in North America are pretty similar in shape and size, Kentucky Downs is a unique and challenging exception. The European-style course is vaguely shaped like an oval, but the first turn is significantly sharper than the wide, sweeping final turn, and in between those two is a mild right-hand bend on the backstretch. The course is also larger than a typical North American racetrack, measuring 1 3/8 [...]

From Grade 1 to Grade 3: A Significant Class Drop

Oscar Nominated - Photo by Viola Jasko/Coglianese Photography It’s easy to understand how significant it can be when a racehorse drops from one class level to a lower class level. As we’ve discussed in the past, when a horse drops from a maiden special weight to a maiden claiming race, the easier competition will significantly increase that horse’s chance of winning. Another major drop in class comes when a proven Grade 1 competitor drops down to Grade 3 [...]

History Can Be Your Guide in Graded Stakes Races

Keeneland Photo In theory, it seems sensible that handicappers should approach every race the same way and utilize their preferred methods of analysis to determine the most likely winner. In practice, this is far from the case. Different types of races warrant different approaches in handicapping, and for graded stakes races, it can be beneficial to use history as a guide, analyzing previous renewals of the race to determine if past winners had anything in common. A great [...]

Using Trainer Angles in Handicapping, Part 2

Trainer Mike Maker - Coady Photography The history of horse racing is filled with rags-to-riches stories of horses rising from humble beginnings to enjoy success at the highest levels of the sport. Legendary Hall of Fame inductees such as Lava Man and Stymie have taken the “claim-to-fame” route, rising from the ranks of claiming races to win some of the biggest races in the country. Finding a horse with the ability to make that jump in class is easier said [...]

Playing Saturday’s All-Stakes Pick 4 at Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park Scenic Turf Gate (Coglianese Photos) The Saturday card at Gulfstream Park is shaping up to be a competitive day of racing, and for handicappers the all-stakes Pick 4 beginning in Race 11 looks like a particularly intriguing sequence. Three of the four races include clear favorites, but there’s no guarantee that all of them will win, and an upset or two could result in a solid payoff. Here’s my take on the sequence…. Race 11: Eleven [...]

Sadler’s Joy Returns in Mac Diarmida Stakes

Sadler's Joy winning the Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga -Photo by NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography The 2017 season was a big one for Sadler’s Joy. The son of Kitten’s Joy entered the year as a lightly-raced, inexperienced colt with no stakes experience, but over the course of eight starts from January through November he threw his name in the ring as one of the best turf horses in the country, never finishing out of the superfecta [...]

Looking for Longshots on the Pegasus World Cup Undercard

Apple Betty winning the Dowager Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland - Keeneland/Coady Photography The $16 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I) is obviously the highlight of the Saturday card at Gulfstream Park, but four other graded stakes races are scheduled to be run as well. Here are some of my handicapping thoughts on each race…. Race 3: La Prevoyante Stakes (gr. III) In this small field, it’s hard to look past #7 Apple Betty, a 1 ½-mile specialist [...]

Money seeks to multiply earnings in Red Smith Handicap

Bowling Green Stakes winner Hunter O'Riley has a good chance to add to his tally in the Red Smith Handicap. Pic: Coglianese Photos/Adam Mooshian. Consistent Chad Brown-trained turf galloper Money Multiplier should appreciate easier company when he contests the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct Oct. 11. Money Multiplier (Lookin At Lucky) finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last year, but missed this year’s edition after finishing eighth in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic [...]