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 [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Eight Unraced Nominees to Remember

Justify winning the Kentucky Derby - Coady Photography It seems hard to believe, but last year at this time, Triple Crown winner Justify was still a week away from his career debut. Perhaps emboldened by the extraordinary success of the colt who shattered the “Apollo Curse,” seventy unraced horses have been nominated to the 2019 Triple Crown, including three who haven’t even been named yet. If you’re in the mood to look for the second coming of Justify [...]

Dubai Carnival Update: Walking Thunder Carries Derby Dreams for Dubai

Thunder Snow winning the 2018 Dubai World Cup - Coady Photography From the deserts of the Middle East to the bluegrass of Kentucky, who’s coming to Churchill Downs by way of Dubai? With 170 Kentucky Derby qualification points on the line in the March 30 UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, we're bound to see one or two horses use the desert challenge as a springboard to Churchill Downs. Although no UAE Derby starter has ever [...]

Is Maximus Mischief Vulnerable in the Holy Bull Stakes?

Maximus Mischief winning the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct - Photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand When ten horses line up to face the starter in Saturday’s $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, all eyes will be on the heavy favorite #8 Maximus Mischief. On paper, this 8.5-furlong Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race should be a walk in the park for Maximus Mischief. The son of Into Mischief compiled a perfect 3-for-3 [...]

Picks and Plays for Sunshine Millions Day

X Y Jet winning the Smile Sprint Stakes (gr. II) - Photo by Coglianese Photos/Kenny Martin The annual Sunshine Millions program at Gulfstream Park might not be quite what it was a decade or so ago, when there were more races and bigger purses, but the four races scheduled for Saturday are shaping up to be competitive events with some high-quality participants. I’ve gone through the card and come up with a few spot plays totaling $100. Feel [...]

How to Bet the Rego Park Stakes

Aqueduct (Coglianese Photo) When a lightly-raced horse fires off a huge effort, particularly over a wet track, it can be difficult to know if it’s a fair representation of their talent or a fluke that they’re unlikely to repeat. That’s one of the challenges facing handicappers in Sunday’s $100,000 Rego Park Stakes at Aqueduct, a 6 ½-furlong event for New York-bred three-year-olds. The probable favorite, #2 Blindwillie McTell, ran huge over a sloppy, sealed track in the New [...]

2019 Racing Preview: Who Will Get Hot, Who Will Get Cold?

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke - Keeneland Photo A new year of racing is on the horizon, and in preparation, it can be a useful exercise for handicappers to project which jockeys, trainers, and horses are poised for banner years or quiet years compared to 2018. Having an idea of what to expect during 2019 can help us formulate more effective wagering strategies and maybe even zero in on where the most promising Kentucky Derby contenders will come from. [...]

Award Winner Looks Prize-Worthy in Gulfstream Maiden Race

Gulfstream Park (Coglianese Photos) It’s well known that Todd Pletcher is tough to beat at Gulfstream Park, where he has been the leading trainer at the winter/spring Championship Meet on fifteen occasions. Pletcher is particularly tough with his two-year-olds and three-year-olds, which is why it comes as no surprise to see Pletcher with two entrants in Saturday’s seventh race at Gulfstream, a one-mile maiden special weight for two-year-olds. But does this mean that handicappers should simply concede that [...]

Keying Audible in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes

Audible winning the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park - Photo by Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photography On a stakes-packed day of racing at Gulfstream Park, one of the highlights is the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (gr. III), a 1 1/16-mile event that serves as a logical steppingstone toward the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I) six weeks from now. The overwhelming favorite figures to be #1 Audible, who has not run a bad race in [...]