Castellano sets earnings record

Jockey Javier Castellano put his name in the record books on Friday at Gulfstream Park, passing Ramon Dominguez to establish a new North American single-season record for purse earnings.

Castellano, 36, set the standard for riders after rallying on the far outside with I Ain’t Gonna Lie ($7.20) to win the third race by a nose over Currency Union for owner and trainer Herman Wilensky.

The victory, Castellano’s eighth of the meet, pushed his purse earnings to $25,655,988 on the year. He entered the day $8,849 shy of the $25,634,852 banked in 2012 by Dominguez, who was forced to retire in June, five months after suffering serious injury in a spill at Aqueduct.

Leading the country in wins and purses earned, Castellano was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as top jockey behind Dominguez in 2011 and 2012, and is a leading contender to earn his first trophy in 2013. The ceremony will be held on January 18 at Gulfstream.

“I am very proud to break the record,” Castellano said. “One thing you work for all year round is this moment. I’m very proud to be at the level of Ramon Dominguez. He is such a classy guy.

“It feels so great. I am so thankful and blessed to be competitive with the top jockeys in the country. I appreciate all the opportunity from the owners and trainers, everybody involved, especially my agent. He handled my business the right way.”

Castellano is the two-time defending riding champion at Gulfstream, taking the 2012-13 title with 100 wins. He set a single-meet record with 112 victories in 2011-12, passing the previous mark of 97 shared by Julio Pezua (1987), Wigberto Ramos (1991) and Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey (1996).

This year, Castellano has also won riding championships at Belmont Park in the spring and fall and Saratoga Race Course in the summer, and was leading the standings at Aqueduct’s fall meet when he moved to south Florida for the winter.

“I’ve been very blessed to ride in New York. The purses are good and they help me break the record,” he said. “I am thankful to participate at Gulfstream with the best jockeys in the winter. To be the consistent leading jockey all year round is very special for me, almost more impressive to me than breaking the money record.

“It’s a lot of sacrifice to my family. My wife, my kids, they support me every single day, every single race. I don’t have the words to describe how thankful I am and how I appreciate everything. There are so many great riders out there. To be the number one earning jockey is unbelievable.”

In his career, Castellano has amassed more than 3,600 wins and been the regular rider for 2004 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, as well as Bernardini, the three-year-old champion of 2006. Among his wins this year are the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame with Princess of Sylmar; the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Ria Antonia; and the $1 million Louisiana Derby with Revolutionary.

At Gulfstream, he has won 38 graded stakes and guided Twilight Eclipse to a world record for 1 1/2 miles on turf earlier this year. He also posted his 3,000th lifetime victory at the Florida oval in February 2012.

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Oaklawn Park to Open 57-day Meet Jan. 10

Oaklawn Park‘s 57-day meet that begins Friday, Jan. 10 will offer more than $20 million in purses and 31 stakes, highlighted by the 78th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 12.

Oaklawn’s 3-year-old stakes program is one of the most successful in the nation. Last year it included likely champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Oxbow , whose victory in the Preakness was the 10th Triple Crown race won by an Oaklawn-raced horse in 10 years.

The four-race program offers 289 points based on the qualifying method for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and these race days also help anchor some of Oaklawn’s most popular promotions. The series starts Monday, Jan. 20 with a special Martin Luther King Jr. card that features the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and a free baseball cap giveaway with paid admission. It continues Monday, Feb. 17 with a Presidents Day Weekend card that includes the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and $55,000 Progressive Cash Giveaway.

Next to Arkansas Derby Day is Rebel Stakes (gr. II) Day, Saturday, March 15. In addition to this $600,000 race for aspiring sophomores, the card includes the $200,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) and $200,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. II) and one lucky fan will walk away with a new boat and truck, courtesy of Bradford Marine.

The meet will begin with the traditional $.50 corned beef sandwiches on opening Saturday, Jan. 11 and end with the Racing Festival of the South which starts Saturday, April 5 with the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) and concludes Saturday, April 12 with the Arkansas Derby and three other stakes.

Back by popular demand, Oaklawn will open its infield, complete with a Beer Garden, live music, and family-friendly activities, every Saturday from Rebel Stakes day through Arkansas Derby day.

The popular “Dawn at Oaklawn” program sponsored by Westrock Coffee returns Saturday, Feb. 15 and will allow guests to get up close and personal with the horses and top racing personalities from 7:30-9:30 a.m. every Saturday through the end of the meet. Visitors can take barn tours as part of the Saturday morning program.

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Chasing Landaluce


Two-year-old fillies will line up for the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) for the last time at Betfair Hollywood Park Dec. 7. The Starlet, 32 years old and a companion race to the CashCall Futurity (gr. I), offered juveniles one last big race with which to end the season, and its roll call of winners—from Althea to Goodbye Halo to Serena’s Song to Blind Luck represents true star power.

However, it was one filly that didn’t win the Starlet that has Thoroughbred owner Ray Struder chasing ghosts at Hollywood Park with his filly Rosalind this weekend.

Struder, like many in the industry, feels a connection to the great Landaluce. He hopes he can come full circle and help to extend her legacy far beyond the track, Hollywood Park, which will close forever at the end of the month.

Struder, 51, grew up in Knoxville, Tenn. A football injury in high school left Struder in a wheelchair.

“Knoxville’s not known as ‘the Hill’ for nothing,” Struder said. Better wheelchair access, better weather, and smoother topography led the young Struder to San Diego and San Diego State University. While a fan of Thoroughbred racing but with no true connection to the sport, bus trips to Del Mar came frequently for the college student. He would get a prime spot near the saddling paddock and watch each horse before heading to the rail to see the races.

On Sept. 5, 1982, the unbeaten filly Landaluce strode into the paddock at Del Mar for the grade II Del Mar Debutante Stakes. Unbeaten and untested in two starts, the streaking filly won by 6 1/2 lengths that day, leaving Struder in awe. He traveled to Santa Anita the following month to see her win the seven-furlong Anoakia Stakes (gr. III) by 10 lengths. Landaluce then added the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) to her résumé.

“She was the first horse I wholly loved as a fan,” Struder said. “I had the Daily Racing Form delivered to my apartment back then. She was going to run next in the Hollywood Starlet and I was going to skip school to watch her.”

Landaluce didn’t make the Starlet. Felled by a bacterial infection, she died the morning of the Starlet, sending shockwaves through the racing world.

“I was surprised how heartbroken I was by her death,” Struder said. “I would think all the time about her and the two races I saw her win.”

Fast forward a couple of decades. Struder had his own engineering firm back in Tennessee and the capital to enter the Thoroughbred business. He studied the business, attending Thoroughbred Owners’ and Breeders’ Association seminars for eight years before pulling the trigger. Struder turned to trainer Ken McPeek with a well-devised plan and modest budget to embark on his new journey as an owner.

Coming up with a stable name was easy: Landaluce Educe Stables. Which is Latin for “Landaluce remembered.”

Struder’s plan is simple. He wanted to own a race winner, then a stakes winner, then a grade I winner. Only buying fillies, he then hoped to breed a winner, breed a stakes winner, and breed a grade I winner; then breed and race a winner, breed and race a stakes winner, and breed and race a grade I winner. Having starting out in 2010, he’s already well on his way.

Of Struder’s affinity for fillies, Mc Peek said: “He’s one of the few clients that thinks that way, and I think it’s really smart; it helps build a strong foundation in the business.”

From his first purchases came Niji’s Grandgirl (a paternal granddaughter of Nijinsky II and grade II-placed and grade III-placed) and the Tennesseee-appropriately named Volcat (a paternal granddaughter of Storm Cat and winner of the 2012 Virginia Oaks, gr. IIIT).

His fillies then began their second lives as broodmares at the John and Martha Jane Mulholland’s Mulholland Springs Farm in Scott County, Ky.

Meanwhile, along came Rosalind. A $70,000 purchase at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, she ran third in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) in September, then second in the grade I Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland. She then closed resolutely to finish third, beaten only a half length by She’s a Tiger and Ria Antonia, in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

Looking to close out her 2-year-old campaign, Struder steered McPeek away from Churchill Downs‘ Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) and looked toward the Starlet.

Struder’s mission is to further the legend of Landaluce. It won’t end at the close of the meet when the doors are locked at Betfair Hollywod Park. He wants the legend to live on with a horse racing from his Landaluce Remembered Stable running in the final grade I race for 2-year-old fillies at the sight where Landaluce is laid to rest.

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Hawthorne Gold Cup: Last Gunfighter Prevails

By , @BH_CNovak

New York shipper Last Gunfighter earned his fourth graded stakes win of the year, closing to get the job done by a length over 14-1 shot Mister Marti Gras in the $350,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Hawthorne Racecourse Nov. 30 (VIDEO).

John D. Gunther’s homebred son of First Samurai came off a fifth-place finish in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park to start as the 4-5 favorite in a field of eight at the Chicagoland oval, and drew off in the final sixteenth under vigorous handling by jockey Joe Bravo to wrap up the 1 1/4-mile event in a slow 2:06.11 on a fast track. The victory pushed his earnings past the million mark, to $1,025,405.

The 4-year-old colt and 120-pound highweight picked up his first grade II win, adding to a resume that includes three grade III victories in 2013 for trainer Chad Brown—the Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Pimlico Special at Pimlico Race Course, and  the Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park. He was also fifth in the Sept. 28 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and second to three-time grade I winner Flat Out in the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) back in July. He started the season with a victory in the Jan 19 Evening Attire Stakes at Aqueduct, that win part of a six-race win streak that did not end until the Suburban.

Multiple grade I winner Alpha was the 5-2 second choice and pacesetter in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, and crept away through a languid early pace of :25.09, :51.14, and 1:15.61 as Suns Out Guns Out and 29-1 shot Street Spice followed along. Last Gunfighter was still sixth behind a mile in 1:40.80, and it looked like Alpha would carry on as the field turned for home, but in upper stretch the front-runner conceded the lead, and it was Street Spice who inherited the advantage.

Last Gunfighter was kicking in, however, and ground down the outside with Bravo keeping him to task. He provided a solid response to take control inside the furlong grounds, and edged forward late to secure the victory.

Last Gunfighter returned $3.80, $2.40, and $2.60 while 14-1 Mister Marti Gras paid $7.80 and $5.40. Street Spice brought $8.80 at odds of 29-1, while Alpha, Suns Out Guns Out, Fordubai, Hattaash, and Derby Kitten completed the order of finish. Prayer for Relief scratched in favor of the Nov. 29 Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, where he finished last.

Bred in Kentucky out of the Sir Cat mare Saratoga Cat, Last Gunfighter improved his record to 8-3-2 from 15 starts.

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Stonetastic Returns to Churchill Downs in Search of Golden Rod Redemption

by John Asher & Darren Rogers | Churchill Downs Communications | 11/27/2013

The last time Stoneway Farm’s Stonetastic visited Churchill Downs, she returned to her home base in New Jersey with a near-miss loss that was also the first setback in her promising young career.

But trainer Kelly Breen’s imposing gray daughter of Mizzen Mast will attempt to make amends for that disappointment in a return date beneath the Twin Spires on Saturday’s and she Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has installed her as a narrow 7-2 morning line favorite in a field of 10 2-year-old fillies entered to contest the 70th running of the $150,000-added Golden Rod Stakes (Grade II).

The Golden Rod is the co-headliner on the final day of the 25-date Fall Meet. The day is billed as “Stars of Tomorrow II,” and each of its 12 races is exclusively for 2-year-olds that may have aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next spring’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).

The 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod is a stop on the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points series that will determine the eligibility of 3-year-old fillies to run in next spring’s Kentucky Oaks. It is a “Prep Season” race in which the Top 4 finishers will receive 10-4-2-1 points, respectively.

The Golden Rod is scheduled as Race 9 on the 12-race closing day care with a post time of 4:35 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post for the “Stars of Tomorrow II’ program is 12:40 p.m.

Although Stonetastic is the morning line choice, she is barely so.  Behind her in Battaglia’s early odds are John C. Oxley’s Madly Truly and James H. Tolliver, Carlos Reys Vasquez and Mary Grum’s Daddy’s Memory, both listed at 4-1 in the pre-Golden Rod line; Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Vexed, who is rated at 9-2; and Marylou Whitney Stable’s homebred Bird Maker, who is next in line at 6-1.

As first impressions go, the one left by Stonetastic in her racing debut at Monmouth Park in early August could not have been much stronger.  She rolled to a 12 ½-length victory under jockey Joe Bravo and the authority of that triumph prompted Breen to ship his filly to Churchill Downs for the $150,000-added Pocahontas (GII) at the Golden Rod distance on Sept. 7.  She left the starting gate as the favorite in a field of eight, but was beaten by a half-length by Winchell ThoroughbredsUntapable, who earned both the winner’s purse and the race’s “Win and You’re In” spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).

Untapable would eventually finish eighth to Ria Antonia in the Breeder’s Cup, while Stonetastic traveled to Aqueduct on Nov. 3 to compete in the $250,000 Tempted (GIII), where she finished fourth to Repole Stable’s Stopchargingmaria.

Stonetastic drew the outside gate in the 10-filly Golden Rod and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie, the leading jockey in the Churchill Downs Fall Meet. She will run without trainer Breen and regular rider Joe Bravo, who are in Japan for a run by stablemate Pants On Fire, winner of Churchill Downs’ Ack Ack (GIII), in the $3 million Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin Racecourse.

The Mark Casse-trained co-second choice Madly Truly rallied from off-the-pace last time out to win the $150,000-added Mazarine (GIII) over synthetic Polytrack at Toronto’s Woodbine, her second victory in five career outings. The victory made the daughter of Malibu Moon the only stakes winner in the Golden Rod. She has only one dirt start on her five-race résumés: a fourth-place finish behind Untapable in her June 20 debut at Churchill Downs. Joe Rocco Jr. will ride Madly Truly from post eight.

Daddy’s Memory rolled to a 10 ¾-length Halloween romp over sloppy going in a one-mile Churchill Downs maiden race to secure her first win in three outings. The daughter of Scat Daddy joined trainer Cecil Borel’s barn after that race and she will make her debut for her new stable in the Golden Rod and will break from the rail post under jockey Miguel Mena.

Vexed enters the Golden Rod with an opportunity to score a milestone victory for co-owner Claiborne Farm. A victory in the race by the daughter of Claiborne stallion Arch would pull the iconic Paris, Ky. breeding and racing farm into a tie with Calumet Farm, another Bluegrass legend, for the most stakes victories in the history of Churchill Downs. Claiborne currently has 31 stakes wins beneath the Twin Spires, one fewer than Calumet, which scored its last local stakes win in 1984.

After a third-place finish in her racing debut over Polytrack at Arlington Park, Vexed scored an easy victory for trainer Al Stall Jr. in a Churchill Downs maiden race in September. She then stepped up to stakes competition and was runner-up to Clever Beauty in the $62,700 Rags to Riches overnight stakes on Churchill Downs’ “Stars of Tomorrow I” program on Oct. 27. Vexed will break from post seven, and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount for the third consecutive race.

Bird Maker is one of three Golden Rod fillies trained by Ian Wilkes and enters Saturday’s race off a 2 ¾-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. Julien Leparoux will ride Bird Maker, who breaks from gate five. Narola Racing’s Playful Love, who notched her first career triumph in the opening race of the Fall Meet on “Stars of Tomorrow I,” is a 12-1 risk in the Golden Rod morning line. The daughter of Tapit will break from post nine with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle. Wilkes also trains Runaway Giant.

The Golden Rod field from the rail out (with jockey, weight and morning line odds) includes:  Daddy’s Memory, 119, Mena, 4-1), Naïve Enough (Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 8-1), Streethomealabama (Robby Albarado, 119, 20-1), Runway Giant (Jon Court, 119, 15-1), Bird Maker (Leparoux, 119, 6-1), Canaryinacoalmine (Jesus Castanon, 119, 20-1), Vexed (Bridgmohan, 119, 9-2), Madly Truly (Rocco Jr., 119, 4-1), Playful Love (Hernandez Jr., 119, 12-1) and Stonetastic (Lanerie, 119, 7-2).

In just eight years, Stars of Tomorrow has been the launching pad for numerous graded stakes winners. Thirty-three participants became Grade I winners, including 2010 Kentucky Derby champ Super Saver, who holds the KJC stakes record of 1:42.83; 2011 Preakness and 2012 Met Mile and Clark Handicap winner Shackleford; 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra; 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2013 Stephen Foster Handicap hero Fort Larned; 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can; and 2013 Travers winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Will Take Charge.

Eighteen participants became millionaires: Fort Larned ($4,471,322), Court Vision ($3,746,658), Rachel Alexandra ($3,506,730), Shackleford ($3,090,101), Lawyer Ron ($2,790,008), Will Take Charge ($2,727,371), Pure Clan ($1,987,498), Super Saver ($1,889,766), Macho Again ($1,825,767), Giant Oak ($1,484,829), First Dude ($1,442,140), Swift Temper ($1,296,688), Believe You Can ($1,280,324), General Quarters ($1,226,655), Fly Down ($1,256,115), Any Given Saturday ($1,083,533), Overanalyze ($1,046,381) and Uncaptured ($1,020,147).

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Aqueduct: Fall Highweight Anchors Thanksgiving Day Card


Horses as well as humans will be toting around a few extra pounds on Thanksgiving Day as a field of eight gathers for the 100th edition of the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, the traditional holiday feature at Aqueduct Racetrack.

First race post time on Thursday will be 11:25 a.m., with the nine-race card set to conclude at approximately 3:10 p.m.

Set to defend his Fall Highweight title is Mike Repole’s Caixa Eletronica, who will carry 132 pounds, including jockey Javier Castellano, in the six-furlong race. Last year, the son of Arromanches lugged 133 pounds en route to a four-length win, which earned him a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

Now 8, Caixa Eletronica has shown few signs of slowing down, having won four of his eight 2013 starts, including a come-from-behind triumph in the Duck Dance overnight stakes last time out at Belmont Park. He began the year with a 2 3/4-length win in the Uncle Mo overnight stakes at the Big A and won a pair of optional claimer/starter allowance races over the summer.

Since being claimed by Repole for $62,500 in March, 2011, he has compiled a record of 11-5-4 from 28 starts for earnings of more than $1.5 million. Overall, he is 23-9-11 from 68 career races.

“The cool thing about him is he’s kind of a no-pressure horse; we feel as if everything he does is a bonus,” said Caixa Eletronica’s trainer, Todd Pletcher. “He’s still doing well after winning 23 races and he seems to love what he’s doing.

“In a lot of these cases, when you’re running horses in significant races there’s a lot on the line in terms of their stud value, or their residual value and all those things,” he added. “In his case, we can enjoy it and that makes it kind of fun and pressure-free.”

As the 7-2 third choice on the morning line, Caixa Eletronica will leave from post position 2.

Vying for favoritism are likely to be Grade 1 Forego winner Strapping Groom, most recently fourth as the 6-5 choice in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October 26 at Belmont, and multiple graded stakes winner Sage Valley, making his first start since a last-place finish as the favorite in the Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash on September 21 at Laurel Park.

The 5-2 morning-line favorite and starting high weight under 135 pounds, Strapping Groom and jockey Junior Alvarado will leave from post position 6 while Sage Valley, assigned 129 pounds, will depart from post position 8 with Junior Alvarado in the irons. He is listed at 3-1 on the morning line.

Trainer Mike Hushion will be represented by a pair of stakes winners in the speedy B Shanny, exiting a third-place finish in the Hudson Handicap on October 19 at Belmont, and The Lumber Guy, coming off a pair of disappointing outings when seventh in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and 11th after a slow start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“The Lumber Guy had a bit of an excuse in California, but I really thought he would run a big race in the Vosburgh,” said Hushion of the 4-year-old gray Grand Slam colt, who last year won the Vosburgh and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. “It’s a little bit quick back, but we’ll see where we are at with him.

“B Shanny is training well and it looks like a good spot for him,” he added of the 4-year-old son of Street Cry, 3-1-2 from seven starts this year. “We know he’ll ensure an honest pace.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride B Shanny from post position 5, with Mike Luzzi to pilot The Lumber Guy from post position 7. The Barry K. Schwartz entry is 4-1 on the morning line.

Rounding out the field are Saturday’s Charm, third in the Bold Ruler last time out; Jake N Elwood, coming off a sixth-place finish in an optional claimer at Laurel, and Palace, who in his two most recent starts defeated New York-breds in both the Hudson Handicap and Chowder’s First overnight stakes.

The field for the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap:
PP   Horse                              Jockey                 WGT   Trainer                Odds
1     Saturday’s Charm (KY)    J L. Ortiz             128     S M. Asmussen   10-1
2     Caixa Eletronica (KY)       J Castellano        132     T A. Pletcher        7-2
3     Jake N Elwood (PA)         L Saez                127     D P. Duggan        30-1
4     Palace (NY)                    C H. Velasquez    129     L Rice                  5-1
5a   B Shanny (NY)                I Ortiz, Jr.           127     M E. Hushion       4-1
6     Strapping Groom (KY)     J Alvarado          135      D Jacobson         5-2
7a   The Lumber Guy (NY)      M J. Luzzi           133      M E. Hushion       4-1
8     Sage Valley (KY)             J Rosario            129      R R. Rodriguez    3-1
(a – coupled entry)

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Trifecta Betting Strategies

by: Jasen Mangrum

The purpose of this blog has always been to share ideas that may help others cash more tickets (trifectas and superfectas in this instance), not to pat myself on the back after winning. In fact, one of the teaching examples will show a losing bet when I felt the thought process was correct, though the end result was not.

When playing trifectas many bettors focus on narrowing down win contenders, and work their way down to the 2nd and 3rd positions. On the other hand, I like to work my way from the bottom up by indentifying horses that may not be win factors, but have a decent shot at running 2nd or 3rd. This gives the option to spread on the top line in tris and supers, which in turn creates bigger payoffs when longshots win. This is more commonly known as the reverse pyramid method.

Though horses like this can be found running every day, at every track and at every level, I find myself employing this method most in maiden and non-winners of 2 lifetime races. Here are a few examples over the last few days.

One of my favorite tracks to play in the winter is Hawthorne, so as I was getting crushed on Wednesday in a multi-track handicapping contest, I was also playing some races from the South Chicago oval. The 6th race was a $5,000 claimer for non-winners of 2 races lifetime. #4 Contemporary Art looked like a good candidate to hit the board, but not win. His lifetime record of 23-1-4-4 hints that he does not have that killer instinct to win, but one that likes to run with pack. Also, his sprint race 2 back showed he can handle track and retaining top rider Eddie Perez despite clipping heels and finishing poorly in his last.

This race also looked like some chaos could occur as far as who might end up in the winner’s circle, since #5 Kinzig was even money on the morning line while sporting a lifetime record of 13-1-5-0. I decided to wheel #4 in 2nd and 3rd in the trifecta. The tickets were structured like this 1,2,3,5,9/4/1,2,3,5,6,7,9 and 1,2,3,5,9/1,2,3,5,6,7,9/4

Fortunately, Contemporary Art loomed boldly on the turn and flattened out like usual. Unfortunately it was for 5th place. By looking at the chart some big prices landed in the top 2 spots of the trifecta, the suspect favorite ran poorly and the trifecta returned a handsome sum. A good thought process that just did not materialize.

Fast forward to Thursday…I was looking for someone to play in a head-to-head tournament over the first 6 races at Betfair Hollywood Park on DerbyWars, but could not find any takers before first post, so it was back to regular betting. The 4th from BHP was a $20,000 maiden claimer at 1 1/16 miles where #4 Tiz Futurity had very competitive speed figures, but a dismal lifetime record of 17-0-2-1. Rather than longshots possibly winning, this race looked to go through only the #7 Midnight Cassanova and #8 Chocolatier. The only chance for chaos would be in the 2nd or 3rd row. Here were my tickets: 7,8/4/1,2,7,8 7,8/1,2,7,8/4 and then I wanted to press the combinations with the 7 & 8, so 7,8/4,7,8/4,7,8 and a straight trifecta 7-8-4.

Though the result was chalky, hitting the trifecta multiple times paid for Wednesday’s losses and then some. Plus, I gave myself a chance for a nice payout had the #7 or 8 ran out of the money. The odds on my key horses were not too big in both of these examples, but one can clearly see the value created just by asking logical horses to hit the board.

*PPs provided by Brisnet and result charts by Equibase

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Manhattan Resident Wins Aqueduct Handicapping Tournament

by | 11.18.2013 | 1:05pm

Making his first-ever appearance in a handicapping tournament, Jeffrey Siskin of Manhattan took down top prize of $37,500 and earned a trip to Las Vegas for the $1.5 million national championships as he coasted home to victory in the New York Handicapping Series presented by NYRA Rewards on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The tournament, which attracted 229 entries, produced the final four representatives from the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) to move on to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championships on January 24-26 at Treasure Island Las Vegas, where the first prize will be $750,000.

Siskin, who was in sixth place after Saturday’s first day of tournament action, moved up steadily in the standings and held a commanding lead late in the day to finish with a grand total of $1,278 in mythical wagers, $133 more than runner-up George Longobardi of Marlboro, N.J.

“I just handicapped like I always do,” said Siskin, 66, who is retired from the apparel industry and also owns several racehorses. “I got lucky and had five winners today, most of them here at Aqueduct. I never had the time to enter a handicapping contest before. I’m very excited.”

Joining Siskin in representing Aqueduct in Las Vegas will be Longobardi, who collected $12,500 in prize money; third-place finisher Mitch Schuman of Brightwaters, N.Y. ($9,000), and fourth-place Eric Moomey of Elwell, Mich., who won the bonus seat provided by NYRA Rewards. In addition to $5,600 in prize money, Moomey also won $1,500 as the leader after the first day of the tournament.

Each player had to make 10 selections a day on each day of the two-day tournament, nine $20 plays and a single $40 play.

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Imagining shows new dimension in G3 Red Smith victory

By Jenny Kellner | 11/16/2013 04:59 PM ET

Closing with a flourish from the outside, Imagining grabbed the lead in midstretch and held on for a half-length triumph over Hangover Kid in the Grade 3, $250,000 Red Smith Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack, giving Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey his third consecutive win in the 1 3/8-mile race.

Off a step slowly, the usually speedy Imagining was allowed to settle in midpack, well off the rail, behind long shot Mission Approved, who towed the field of 12 through a half-mile in 50.92 seconds and a mile in 1:41.63 over the firm turf course. Given his cue by jockey Joel Rosario on the far turn, Imagining kicked into high gear to take command with a little more than a furlong to go and hold off a late charge from the runner-up.

“I thought he’d be racing on the lead or in second, but he broke a little slowly and I had to race behind horses,” said Rosario. “They weren’t going all that fast, and we were able to move up. I asked him turning for home, and he gave it to me.”

Imagining, who had sandwiched front-running victories in the Bowl Game overnight stakes at Belmont Park on October 17 and the restricted Idle Rich stakes at Saratoga Race Course around a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, completed the 11 furlongs in 2:18.43.

“[Joel] let him settle in and get to the outside, which is where he wanted to be,” said McGaughey who won the 2011 and 2012 Red Smiths with Boisterous. “I was glad to see that; I said to myself when they were going down the backside, ‘I hope he punches from here’ because it would be something different for him. It was a pretty good bunch of horses; I think we’re moving on up.”

The victory was the first in a graded stakes for the 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, who has now won three of his past four starts. Sent off as the 7-2 second choice, he returned $8.30 for a $2 win bet and earned $150,000 for the Phipps Stable.

“There’s a race out in California in about a month, or we may wait until Florida to run him,” said McGaughey of Imagining, who is now 7-3-0 from 14 starts with a bankroll of $513,190.

The fast-closing filly Tannery finished third, a nose behind Hangover Kid
and 1 ¾ lengths ahead of 94-1 shot Slip and Drive. Hyper, the 3-2 favorite, never challenged and finished eighth.

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Frac Daddy Back at Churchill for Commonwealth

By , @BH_FAngst

Frac Daddy will race at Churchill Downs for the first time since his off-the-board finish in the Kentucky Debry Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when he starts in the $100,000 Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) Nov. 16.

Magic City Thoroughbreds’ Frac Daddy placed 16th in the Derby and 14th in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) but the son of Scat Daddy has registered victories in two of his three previous starts, taking allowance races on the turf at Saratoga Race Course and the Polytrack at Keeneland, going into Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

“It’s a great next spot for him,” said trainer Ken McPeek, citing Frac Daddy’s 3 1/2-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile race Oct. 17 at Keeneland. “His last race was ultra-impressive. He has had a hard time getting over the hump against stakes horses, but his race in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) was really good.”

Frac Daddy is still looking for the first stakes win of his career. He finished second in this year’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill.

The colt had little luck at the post draw for Saturday’s race, where he landed in gate 12 of 13 under jockey Alan Garcia. But he comes into the CommonwealthTurf off a pair of sizzling bullet works over Keeneland’s synthetic footing.

“The colt’s doing really well,” McPeek said. “It’ll be a little tricky from the outside, but I think he’ll run really well.”

The field features four other stakes winners in Alto Racing’s Lexington Stakes (gr. III) winner Winning Cause, Tucci Stables’ River Seven, a stakes winner at Woodbine; Terry Hamilton’s Dorsett, a stakes winner at Canterbury Downs, and Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Central Banker, winner of the Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga.

$100,000 Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT, race 7, approximate post time 7:32 p.m. EST) 3yo, 1 1/16 miles, Turf
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Golden Sabre (ON), P. Husbands, 118, M. Pierce
2. Layton Register (KY), J. Court, 118, P. Oliver
3. Ruler of Love (FL), J. Castanon, 118, J. Scott
4. River Seven (ON), S. Bridgmohan, 120, N. Gonzalez,
5. Moro Tap (VA), J. Leparoux, 118, M. Maker
6. Winning Cause (KY), J. Rocco Jr., 120, T. Pletcher
7. Formidable Heart (KY), F. Geroux, 118, D. Miller
8. Braveman (KY), M. Mena, 118, R. Anderson
9. Kaigun (ON), L. Goncalves, 118, M. Casse
10. Dorsett (KY), B. Hernandez Jr., 120, M. Stidham
11. O’Prado Ole (KY), C. Lanerie, 118, D. Romans
12. Frac Daddy (KY), A. Garcia, 118, K. McPeek
13. Central Banker (KY), R. Albarado, 118, A. Stall Jr.

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