Aqueduct November 30

Due to some technical difficulties with my web page provider, it’s an abbreviated analysis today. I can assure you I put as much effort into these picks as I always do.

No idea if the track will play to the inside front like it did yesterday. I would guess that the maintenance guys might have been slightly embarrassed by the merry-go-round nature of a lot of the races and did some dirt moving today. But, pay attention, and if it is still there, look for the inside speed on the dirt. My selections are for a fair track.

Race 1     2-7-4-1

Violette has two in here, and the better rider goes to Vagarious. Still, McQuaid still has some up side. Only two races, both times he was all but eliminated at the start, and he had to deal with the mud last out. He rushed a little in that race and flattened. In his first start he actually showed some close. Certainly there are horses with better figures, but they all have more than 5 starts. He’ll be the long price and worth a look. Keen’s Cupla and Hidden Warrior are the speed and the figure horses and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them duel to the wire.

Race 2     10-11-13-8

Off the turf and it’s bombs away time with Kimmies Lucky Star. She fits the conditions, although that 1 for 16 gets leaves me unsettled. Royal Jest is developing seconditis, but has good enough figures to compete. Piccolo Flats just broke her maiden and will be tested against winners, but that was a convincing score.

Race 3      3-5-2

North Ocean is the speed and has the best number. Small worry with Petrocelli causing him to blow his brains out early, but he doesn’t look like an anxious speed type. State Flag has 7 dirt races and has won 3 of them. He’s mainly a plodder, and that may work against him today. Socialsaul goes for five in a row, but I think the fact that he hasn’t been claimed is a negative, maybe indicative of his soundness. Still, if he holds together he’s got outs.

Race 4     5-1-3-7

I’ll be the first to admit this one is a puzzle. I went to the 5 because Violette snagged one yesterday just like this with Ortiz up. But the 1, 2, 3, 7, and even the second time starter, 9, have cases that can be made.

Race 5     3-7-8

B Shanny is the speed and can finish and I like the claimed by Nevin last out. Broad Rule takes a dive in price, but is getting older and might need the discount. Coalition comes from FL and is better than 33% first and second. No problem at this class either.

Race 6     11-9-4-8

Two year old state bred fillies. Zenstone has been off two months but has been working. Showed speed in her debut. Gullo is good with 2nd starters and 2 year olds. Accelebrate didn’t like the turf last out and if she runs back to her first two she competitive at a price. Yourcreditisgood puts the blinkers on and drops from MSW. Desperate time of the year for trainers of two year olds – time to clean the stables from horses that aren’t going to be top three year olds, hence the price drops.

Race 7     1-5-15-10

Another off the turf and we’ll look mainly at the MTO’s. Call Wil was going favorite on the grass, and although he’s not the same horse on the dirt, you have to respect his ability. Horatio jumps up off the claim and might be ambitiously placed but has the numbers to compete here at a price. Recanted is 10-1 ML and has been running on the dirt for a while. Might have won because of the slop, but has chances here. Cosmic Coincidence is the inside speed and may control the race.

Race 8     5-1-2

Bernie the Maestro will have to contend with Bowman’s Beast but I think the Maestro is the classier speed. Jacobson leaves Depeche Chat in the race and although he’s been turfing most of the year he has some dirt form in his past that would make him competitive here. When Jacobson leaves the weaker looking of the entry in, look out. Vegas No Show gets the steep holiday discount and that may be enough to make him part of the finish.

Race 9     5-6-8-9

They left this one on the turf. Go figure. You can see from the ML nobody sticks out so let’s go with Bartiromo. She’s better on the turf, fits the class level, and I’m predicting she stays close to the front here. Chow Fun will be one of the ones closing and has the numbers to be in the mix. Life’s a Stage is taking a drop off a last race best. Ambiguous but how do you leave her out. Ear D’Rhythm is in the mix in this field.

Aqueduct November 29

Race 1

On the Turf: 9-2-5

On the Main: 3-1-8-5

Race 2

  • 5 Live Love Laugh – Broke her maiden at first asking, came back in an OC $50K and then laid off until November. She ran a pretty good race and has come back with an unremarkable 4 furlong breeze. Switches to Saez today and that is a bit of a downgrade, but if the speedier runners overdo it, she should be in a good striking position turning for home.
  • 1 Wavell Avenue – wired a field in a $40K MCL and jumps up to $50K starter. That might be asking a bit, but she started out in straight maidens and has Chad Brown conditioning. She has four November workouts and that should keep her on edge. She’s not going to be good value if she goes off near her ML odds of 8-5, and there will be a lot of speed to contend with, but she has a lot in her favor.
  • 6 Vision of Mine – broke her maiden three back and came close to wiring a field at this class level in her last. She gets a major upgrade to Irad and will definitely be part of the early pace battle.

Race 3

On the Turf: 5-11-9-4

On the Main: 13-12-1a-4

Race 4     Comely – Grade 3     6-3-1

  • 2 Shayjolie -was not factor in the Raven Run, although she had an awkward start. She came back in one of the top fall sprints at Laurel, the Safely Kept, and made a furious close to take second. She’s going to have to negotiate a mile and an eighth today, and although she broke her maiden at a mile there are horses more likely today.
  • 1 Penwith – one of the three Godolphin runners entered. This one has natural speed, one win at the distance, and a third at AQU on this day last year when she ran within a neck of Stopchargingmaria in the Demoiselle. She had some trouble when she couldn’t grab the lead, but seems to have come back to form. She’ll probably need to fight up front to have a chance.
  • 1a Snowbell – Another with plenty of early speed and seemingly better suited for the sprint distances. Still, as a Tapit she should relish the distance today and can’t be discounted. Doesn’t have any graded races in her background, and that has to make her a bit suspect. Still, she scratched out of the Go For Wand to take a spot here and that has to be seen as a positive.
  • 3 Dame Dorothy – Pletcher trainee came off a two month rest to win the Turnback the Alarm in a decent time. She has a good tracking style and given the speed inside of her should find a good tracking position.
  • 4 House Rules – this filly has been busy with eight races already this year. She’s had no luck at all at the Grade 1 level, but was running well in Grade 2 stakes at GP earlier this year. She’s coming off a solid win against much lesser on a sloppy AQU track so being a factor is not totally out of the question.
  • 5 Princess Violet – ran on Friday so should be a scratch.
  • 6 Catch My Drift – was right behind Dame Dorothy last out and was closing the gap most of the way down the stretch. Actually didn’t run that badly in the Alabama and has 3 wins in 5 tries. She’s a strong contender here.
  • 1x Divided Attention – while she hasn’t made any attempts at this distance, she’s beautifully bred for the 1 1/8. She was in the top flight of 2 year old fillies last year, came out at SAR after a long layoff and won a 7 furlong allowance. She folded like an accordion in the Raven Run, but I think she’ll be much better suited for this distance and if Irad metes out her energy, she has a good chance to be the best of the entry.
  • 7 Flipcup – She doesn’t have the figures of some of these and has been almost exclusively in state bred stakes, but she will be one of the closers and did finish second to Princess Violet, who lost the Go For Wand Friday by a slim nose. Might catch a minor piece.

Race 5

  • 4 March – Blame progeny are starting well at 20% first out. Chad Brown is giving him the usual set of useful breezes and his main guy Javier is riding. $320K purchase has been brought along slowly but looks ready for this one.
  • 3 Cat Fiftyfive – the best of the horses with a start, although that start was last July. Has been working very well at Fair Hill and looks primed for a return to the races.
  • 7 Good Pick Nick – Kieran McLaughlin is good with both first timers and two year olds. Excellent workout pattern and the trainer/jockey combo is 30%.  Given the $625 purchase price, great things are expected from this runner.
  • 8 On Tap – Linda Rice has been doing well this meet with 2 year olds and this one has a good recent workout pattern after breaking training in July. Might need this race but has a shot for a minor piece.

Race 6

On the Turf: 12-2-11-7

On the Dirt: 1a-4-15-9

Race 7

  • 1 Pulling G’s – wired a field in a good time but was just as effective on the fast dirt. A couple of good maintenance works and the switch to Rosario shouldn’t be an issue. There is some other speed signed on here but thoses wins put him at the top of the group.
  • 5 Celebrated Talent – another speedball with equally good figures. Got really good in the slop, but might have trouble holding on if he has to duel with the 1 and 7.  Will give the 1 all he can handle up front, and is probably better with the half furlong cutback. Shouldn’t have any problem with the fast track.
  • 3 Joking – just won at 7 furlongs, making it two in a row. He’ll be behind the front runners and should have first run. Not without a chance.
  • 7 Waco – the third part of the speed triumvirate. He really looks about the same at the 5 but will have to go around the other speed. Perhaps a little more up against it.

Race 8     The Demoiselle – Grade 2     6-4-3-7

  • 1 My Cara Mia – three turf starts but other than the maiden sprint win has not made a big impression.
  • 2 Calamity Kate – Seemed to jump up out of nowhere to win her maiden at a mile. Went to the Alcibiades and finished well back. Would have to jump up again today.
  • 3 Quezon – two very impressive wins, one in a state bred stakes. Actually adds Lasix today. She’s 5-1 on the ML but has a big shot today.
  • 4 Save Rock and Roll – Broke her maiden in the slop at MTH, came back in the Sorority and made a mile move in the stretch. She shipped over to BEL for the Matron and finished in the middle of the field. A month later she did the same thing in the Tempted at AQU. In all three of those stakes she had some trouble, either at the break or with a wide trip. She’s actually better than her 20-1 ML odds, and with a clean break and a good stalking spot she has upset possibilities.
  • 5 Gap Year – finished third in the mud at SAR but McLaughlin thought enough of her to run her in the Alcibiades. She was very wide, closed a little and then hung toward the end. She came back to nose out Eskenformoney in a maiden at KEE. Gets a rider upgrade to Irad, but still would have to improve a lot to beat the best in here.
  • 6 Condo Commando – runaway winner of the Spinaway in the slop at SAR after absolutely demolishing her maiden field. Was favored in the Frizette but didn’t handle the BEL slop at all. She’ll have a fast track today and if she runs back to her summer races she’ll be tough to keep out of the winner’s circle.
  • 7 Angela Renee – Was well beaten by the 6 in the Spinaway, went out to SA and won the Grade i prep for the Juvenile Filies, the Chandler, and then totally flopped as the favorite in the BC. She’s got the talent and despite the 2-1 odds, she’s got plenty of competition here.
  • 7 Jacaranda – winner of the Grade 3 Tempted at AQU in early November. Plenty of speed, but I don’t think she’s likely to upset this group.

Race 9      The Remsen – Grade 2     12-10-11-2

  • 1 Flashaway – scratched
  • 3 Combat Diver – Came out on the turf and never got into the race, then came back on the dirt at BEL to win a MSW in fair time. He may turn out to be a good one but I’m not sure he’s ready for this group.
  • 1a Moonlight Bandit – broke his maiden in his second start for Mark Casse. He’s well bred and Casse is known as a good trainer of two year olds, but I don’t think he’s shown enough yet to get a nod.
  • 4 Bodhisattva – he looks completely overmatched here,
  • 5 Thirtysevenliveson – Still a maiden and unless Romans has been playing possum, he looks over his head.
  • 6 Royal Burgh – Delicately handled by Pletcher. His maiden win was not particularly fast, but he has a series of good workouts and is well bred for this distance. A minor contender.
  • 7 Eh Cumpari – came from the clouds at 4-1 to take an off the turf event at AQU. It was not a high class maiden field and I don’t favor that sort of running style. I’ll pass.
  • 2 Leave the Light On – Chad Brown trainee has not yet seen a dry track but ran a nice wire to wire victory in his maiden in a good time. Given this will be his first try on the dry surface he could be any kind and can’t be simply eliminated.
  • 8 Keen Ice – Won his maiden at CD but was destroyed in the in the Breeders Futurity at KEE. He has some talent but I think he’d be a surprise today.
  • 9 The Truth or Else – the McPeek runner is not the same sort of 20-1 runner as a few in here. He won his maiden at BEL in his fourth career start. He then came back in the Champagne and ran third, but 15 lengths behind Daredevil, then another distant third in the Nashua. Both of those races were on wet tracks. He hasn’t shown any speed in his races, so will have to be coming in the stretch. I think it is not inconceivable for him to catch a minor piece.
  • 10 Classy Class – Smashing maiden win and he comes back with an impressive series of workouts. Well bred for the distance and a useful pressing style. One of the main contenders.
  • 11 Ostrolenka – Blew away his maiden field for Pletcher, then came back in the state bred Sleepy Hollow and beat a decent field, including Market Conduct. He’s been improving with each start and other than the outside post, has a lot of up side.
  • 2b Market Conduct – two state bred stakes, including a third to Ostrolenka in the Sleepy Hollow. Irad took off this one to ride the 12, but Rosario is not a bad sub. Probably the weaker half of the entry.
  • 12 Frosted – Took three starts to break his maiden, but in fairness he was likely to improve with distance. Adds Lasix today and has a fabulous couple of works in preparation for this. He’ll have to figure out a trip from the far outside, but otherwise all systems look go.

Race 10     The Cigar Mile – Grade 1     1-2-4-6

  • 1 Private Zone – Won the Vosburgh on the front end, and did very well in the BC Sprint despite having to run wide. Was second in this race last year after the same prep in the BC. That’s his only race at AQU and his best finish at the distance. He’s certainly talented, and given he’s only raced three times this year, should have plenty left in the tank.
  • 2 It’smyluckyday – has really had a great year, winning the Grade 1 Woodward and finishing second to Moreno in the Whitney. He lost as the odds on favorite to Vyjack but has been given two months to rest, and even went to Florida for the short vacation. Despite seeming to have a preference for the two turn races, he’s 2 of 4 at the mile distance, and certainly competes well in this group.
  • 3 Noble Moon – despite racing well as a two year old and early into his three year old season, he wasn’t able to beat the top three year olds in either the King’s Bishop of the PA Derby. He apparently detested the slop at AQU. On the one hand losing to BC Classic winner Bayern and top sprinter The Big Beast is nothing to downgrade the horse over, but he seems maybe a step behind the best in this field.
  • 4 Vyjack – had struggled all year in Graded races and then jumped up to win the Kelso. He is 3 of 4 at AQU and one of two at the mile. He should be coming in the stretch and is not without a chance.
  • 5 Transparent – Only two starts this year, the last one a win in an OC $62K. That was not a great field, and despite the 6-1 ML he’s one of the runners I’m not that interested in.
  • 6 Secret Circle – Another with only three starts this year, including an impressive second in the BC Sprint, the same race he won last year. He doesn’t have any AQU starts and we can’t be sure he’ll take to the track, but he’s got some massive figures and has run well in both of his mile races. He never runs a bad race, and no reason to expect him not to be part of the finish.
  • 7 Big Business – Did have a second in the Grade 1 Forego, but doesn’t look like he will be in the mix at the end.
  • 8 Regally Ready – hard knocking seven year old has won 6 of 9 races this year, but nothing against this level of competition. He’d be a surprise to me.
  • 9 Bourbon Courage – Made an insane run in the BC sprint to go from dead last at the stretch call to only lose by two lengths. While that was an incredible run, he hasn’t done better than a win at an OC $80K this year and is only 4 of 20 lifetime. It’s an ambitious placing and I don’t think I’m going to bite on his chances.

Aqueduct November 28

Well we made it through Thanksgiving, albeit not without consuming more calories than I’ll need for a week. I totally understand the idea of needing an excuse for getting a Thursday in November off, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should gobble (see what I did there) enough food that famine in Africa could be eradicated. If I miss a race or two today, I’m blaming it on an L-tryptophan hangover.

Race 1

  • 11 Roman Reign – started her career on the turf with little success, and had raced her last three on wet tracks with decent success. She’s got competitive figures, a new trainer and blinkers on. I like to see horses with positive changes that have space to improve.
  • 4 Shades of Indygo – not the play of the day by any stretch. Best figures of any horse left in the race, but with 12 starts already is taking on the look of a professional maiden. She’s really got the best chance she’s had in a while today. One third at AQU, a second and two thirds on a wet surface.
  • 8 Letters of Fire – Jumps up from MCL $25K but showed a lot of speed on a muddy track at HAW last out and may be something of a mudlark. The change to Chris Englehart could help, and she is facing state breds for the first time.
  • 5 Lutheran Miss – 6 starts, four seconds and a third. You can’t leave a horse with a record that interesting out, especially since her last was an off the turf affair where she finished a couple of lengths ahead of the 11.

Race 2

  • 1 Flat Leaver – This is not a high quality field, and Flat Leaver is 2-1 on the ML, but horses dropping from MSW to the claiming ranks are generally solid plays. Hushion is 26% second off a long layoff and 2 of 8 dropping from MSW to MCL. His figures are as good as anyone’s and although he’s going to catch a wet surface, he’s well bred for the moist track and he may have enough speed to catch a decent tracking spot. The down side – a rail that has not been the place to be lately. My tepid choice.
  • 6 Massolino – he’s not well bred for the turf, although his first effort on the lawn was pretty good. He’s another dropping from MSW and has an encouraging trio of works since his last race. He switches from Saez to Izzy Rodriguez, not the most positive switch, but he is on the outside and should be closing.
  • 2 Blue Collar Cat – the speed of the race. He was looking promising in 2013, but took a year vacation, coming back at BEL in SEP. In that race he ran to the front, backing up a few lengths in the stretch. He came back at AQU at a mile and pretty much ran the same race. He’s obviously not better than a $40 claimer as a 3 year old, but if he grabs hold he could wire this field.
  • 5 Hampden Fiveone – 15 starts, 8 seconds/thirds. Hasn’t cracked through the $40K barrier and not so likely today, but in the money possibilities.

Race 3

  • 12 Lotsa Noodles – wet track specialist has 5 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts. RuRod has been having a good AQU meet and she tops the group from a figure standpoint.
  • 11 Ginny’s Grey – another that seems to improve with the wet track. Last seen beating a field of $25 starter allowance runners in the mud at BEL. Danny Gargan has a limited number of starters but is fair off the short layoff.
  • 4 Get Gorgeous – Another that excels on a wet track. Pretty consistent figures this year and adds blinkers. Not without chances in this field. 
  • 9 Agawa – finished a distant second in a race washed off the turf last out, but that is enough to expect her to be competitive. She’s had a bit of trouble with hanging in the stretch, but she gets another chance in a field not that strong today.

Race 4

  • 6 Wild Freud – Ran a bang up race first out. After bobbling at the start, he rushed up to be second, but expectedly ran short of fuel in the stretch. He’s moving from a state bred $40K to an open MCL $30K. Chatterpaul is not having a notable meet, and he’s 0 for 9 second lifetime start. He’s a bit chancy, but at 12-1 ML he might be worth a second look.
  • 8 Richie’s Rich – Dropping from much higher MCL ranks to this spot. He’s got the best figure in the field and has a couple of nice works since his last. Is coming from the right spot and should be pressing from the right part of the track.
  • 2 Ghost Swagger – two decent races on muddy tracks and an monster wet track rating. She was claimed out of her first by Abby Adsit whose is having a pretty good AQU meet. Not quite the figure of the 8, but definitely good enough to be a big factor.
  • 3 Radamel – The speed of the race. Another dropping from higher level MCL. Hasn’t shown there is an ability to stick in the stretch but might stay in the race longer with the class drop.

Race 5

  • 7 Stalagmite – Far and away the speed here. Was claimed by Thomas Morley from Chris Englehart at today’s price, jumped him up to $25K, and drops him back today. He’s had a lot trouble carrying that speed all the way, but he may be lone front today and if he relaxes up front he’s got decent outs.
  • 9 Mach Seven – I like that he broke his maiden after 13 tries and then came right back against winners and only finished a head behind the winner. While Joe Parker is a low percentage trainer at AQU, a horse that sparks to life like that deserves a chance.
  • 5 Patty and Nooche – he’s been sniffing around all year with only a maiden win on the AQU inner dirt. He’s been steadily dropping since that race and has settled at the bottom. His figures are about the same as the other contenders, and perhaps the cutback in distance gets him over the top.
  • 2 Ice Wagon – the 9-2 ML second choice right behind the 1 for 28 Harley. He’s similar in the sense that he has half his races in the second or third spot. Still, only has half the starts of Harley, drops to his lowest lifetime level, and is another with figures good enough to win.

Race 6

  • 5 Cherokee Artist – Had been racing against much better, winning a minor stakes at MTH earlier this year. He finished second in a fast time last out and cuts his claiming price in half, a typical Jacobson move. He’s another of those horses from around the east coast that Jacobson has bought outright, and I have the feeling he didn’t pay so much more than today’s claiming price that he won’t do well with a purse and the claiming price if someone grabs him.
  • 2 Patriot’s Voyage – This one was taken from Jacobson last out by the underwhelming Peter Chin. I’m banking on the idea that if Jacobson was still training his horse would be 3-1 instead of 10-1 ML. He ran decently in the Thomas Memorial at Sunland, one of their better quality races, and is another one of those horses that somehow found its way to Jacobson’s barn from another track. It’s only been six days since his last race, so if he still has Jacobson’s influence he’s got a shot.
  • 6 Street Shark – He’s another that has kept company with some better horses in the recent past. Cuts back from his last race, and he seems better suited at 6 1/2. He’s got 5 wins in 11 starts this year, so he is a hard trying horse. No surprise if he is the winner.
  • 4Bobby V. – was claimed for only $10K last out and is jumped up today. He’s been knocking around at lower levels for the last couple of months and may be in over his head, but he’s in good enough condition to make an impact.

Race 7

  • 7 Sister Margaret – three starts, two wins and a  place, with her only loss to Princess Violet who is running today in the Go For Wand. She’s stepping nicely through her conditions and certainly has the figures to match strides with this field. In fact, given the ambiguity of the other runners, she’s one of the more solid plays.
  • 4 Broadway Music Gal – Englehart trainee had been kicking around in the claiming ranks with pretty good success and then took five months off. The return works have been fair, but Englehart is a 26% trainer off the layoff. She’s 1 for 1 over a wet surface so that shouldn’t be an issue. The down side – it’s unlikely she took time off just to take a break and her pp’s suggest she may be more of a horse that likes to race into condition. But if she comes running, she’s competitive with this group.
  • 5 Elmra – Another one with both sides. She pulled up out of a turf race at SAR in July and that has to be a little concerning, but Hennig is 21% with horses off the layoff, and she has a series of fast four furlong works for this return. Hennig adds blinkers today, and given the horse’s good tactical speed, this may lead to improvement. She was well enough thought of to go in a state bred stake in May, and only dropped to OC $40K on the turf. My guess is that it was probably a quarter crack and Hennig thought maybe she would be alright on the turf. She wasn’t and he gave her time to recover. Not a surprise if she runs well or up the track.
  • 3 Spinit to Winit – has been stuck in NW2X since March, but does have a lot of second place finishes. Competitive figure, but seems destined for one of the lesser awards.

Race 8

  • 13 Guyana – hasn’t been on a muddy track in a while, but is excellently bred for wet surfaces. Last two races were strong. Down side is that she has twice as many seconds as wins.
  • 11 Go Olivia Go – Jacobson reclaimed her last time and actually jumps this one up in class, probably in an attempt to avoid losing her again. Effective on the wet track and has a win at the distance.
  • 7 Malibu Queen – had been turfing, but dominated a field in the slop at AQU last time. The time before that when she was off the turf on a muddy BEL track she finished second. Lots of outs here.
  • 12 Off My Cloud – two race win streak on the line. Has raced with better in the past. Down side with her is that she hasn’t run route races lately, but she does have a win, place and show at the distance lifetime. We’ll see if she runs out of gas today.

Race 9     The Go For Wand – Grade 3     6-5-4-2

  • 1 Tapit’s World – has been running lately in G3 races and almost won the Gardenia at Ellis Park. Still, she seems a step behind some of the best in here.
  • 2 Endless Chatter – at 6-1 ML she’s got a little attractiveness. She can be forgiven for failing in the Beldame, although she was up near the front most of the race and did beat four of the runners. She never was into the Turnback the Alarm, which is perhaps a little concerning. Before those two races she had reeled off three straight wins. Chad Brown is not a high percentage trainer in dirt route stakes, but she has a small chance to win it.
  • 3 Street Girl – A lot of people remember the second in the Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby day, and she just ran second in the Chilukki. What did those races have in common? Churchill Downs. She came to this race last year off three straight Grade 1 races, including a 5th in the BC Distaff and flopped. She’s not the same horse as we saw earlier in her three year old season, and given she’s 2 for 21 lifetime, I’m not feeling bad about not putting her in the top group.
  • 4 Sweet Whiskey – The other Pletcher runner gets the “A” rider, Johnny V. She’s run nothing but states in 7 races this year, six of them graded. I have her in the contender list based on consistent figures this year. Her works for this race have been good, although I’d have liked to have seen one on the AQU track.
  • 5 Willet – I can’t leave this horse out. She’s been a hard trying mare, especially on a wet surface where she is 3 of 4 with a second. She’s been behind some top notch filly sprinters – Artemis Argotera and La Verdad and seems to like the AQU surface. She ran fourth in this race last rear, and may improve today.
  • 6 Princess Violet – Took on Untapable in the Mother Goose, finishing a surprising second. She bobbled in the Prioress, losing all shot, but has come back with two in a row including the Empire Distaff. She should love the mud too. Overall she’s had a good season and is the horse to beat here.
  • 7 Moment in Dixie – She’s not completely outless, but does seem up against it here. She came from the clouds to just miss winning the Doubledogdare at Keeneland, but that’s as close as she’s come. She’s going to need a lot of pace up front to duplicae that effort.
  • 8 Geeky Gorgeous – she’s underrated on the ML at 30-1, but she hasn’t shown an ability to win against this level. She is 11 for 22 lifetime, and sometimes all horses that win do is…win. I’m going to pass but with some reluctance.
  • 9 Snowbell – she’s an improving 3 year old, and that is in her favor, and she doesn’t pick the toughest Grade 3 field to make her stakes debut, but overall I’d have to say she’s overmatched here.
  • 10 Classic Point – she dominated a field in the Punkin Pie but is not likely to have things her own way on the front this time. I’d say she’s up against it.
  • 11 Zucchini  Flower – To my eyes she’s a cut below a solid Grade 3 horse, although she is 3 of 5 in the money this year. Maybe a back hole possibility
  • 12 Playful Love – No reason to believe she has any realistic shot in here.

Race 10

  • 5 Stonely Heart – ran a good race in his debut, running to within 3/4 of Kleptocrat. Tried showing a little more speed in the slop and never looked like he was interested in running on the slop. She’s bred fair for the wet track and we’ll see if she finds the mud as distasteful as the slop.
  • 10 Moldavite – Another that has been in the same races as Stonely Heart and Rose Quartz. In her debut she hit the front and actually held on well for the show. She had the same issue as Stonely in the slop, and is another that we’ll have to see how she feels about the mud.
  • 4 Rose Quartz – this is her 9th start and she only has a second and two thirds. Still, she’s been close enough that she can’t be discounted.
  • 6 Bossy Boots – I really wanted to find a first-time that looked appealing, but since I couldn’t make a good case I thought I’d give the 6 a shot here. She’s about as close as I was going to come – she’s been off since March and has returned with a nice series of works. If she’s filled out she could surprise this field.


The Story Continues

Last week’s blog, For Whom the Bell Tolls, generated a good amount of response, although there were a few who didn’t quite get the essence of the piece. Let me make one thing absolutely clear. I will never suggest that jockeys or trainers never knowingly break the rules. Of course they do and if anybody believes I thought otherwise let me unequivocally disabuse you of that notion. I also believe that transgressions involving performance enhancing medications (as opposed to theraputic drugs) should be dealt with fairly, but in the end a proven, willful violation should be dealt with harshly. Just like in the real world, Commissions need to understand the difference between a traffic ticket and a felony. My piece was primarily about the competency and consistency of racing commissions. I quoted liberally from Maggie Moss’ article for Blood Horse Magazine, When Regulation Runs Amok, which was about the problems she saw with the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

I’ve argued that many racing commissions are filled with political appointees who are marginally qualified to enforce racing’s rules, much less steer racing through increasingly choppy waters and grow the sport. I agreed with Maggie Moss that the commisions can be inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary in the way that they deal with violations. Because of the absolute insurers rule they often lose any incentive to coduct complete investigations on violations. We all know that despite numerous real world demonstrations that increasing take out decreases handle, commissions will still raise take out rates and then be puzzled  about why revenues from betting go down. Most of all, we were in agreement that the negative press that results from racing’s trevails tends to do less to rid the sport of all evil than to reinforce the negative opinion held by too many of the non-racing public.

Those on the inside, under the aegis of cleaning up the sport, are casting so wide a net that every fish in the sea is getting snared. That is more what my piece was about.

Joe Gorajec, executive director of the Indiana Commission, wrote a response to the Maggie Moss piece, and I’ll focus on that this week.

Not unexpectedly, Mr. Gorajec suggested most of Maggie Moss’ claims are “either false or misleading.” Then he goes on to essentially not refute most of those claims with any substance. The depth of his argument is that she is simply wrong in most of her assertions.

This is the list of issues/questions I got from the Maggie Moss article and how Mr. Gorajec responded.

Moss: There were uncertain withdrawal times for theraputic medications, creating an ever-changing landscape for horsemen.

Gorajec: As best I can tell, his response was that Indiana applies the Association of Racing Commissioners’ International model penalty guidelines to everyone equally, and then he launches into a discussion of the Tom Amoss and the Ross Russell cases. I was having a hard time actually seeing the connection, but I think he was saying nope, that didn’t happen, and there you have it.


Moss: There was a pattern of closed door deals, and she actually cites two trainers who were deposed and admitted they used illegal substances, but are still training.

Gorajec: The idea that there is selective enforcement could not be, in Mr. Gorajec’s words, farther from the truth. And that takes care of that. As for the allegation that the Commission was not consistent in disciplining the two trainers she mentions, there didn’t not seem to be a direct comment.


Moss: Indiana (read that Joe Gorajec) changed labs without Racing Commission approval, initially picking a lab that was not the low bidder then in the middle of the meet switching labs again. Ms. Moss suggests that this put the chain of custody in disarray.

Gorajec: As best as I could tell, Mr. Gorajec didn’t address this issue directly.


Moss: The measure of substances was done in picograms, a trillionth of a gram, and that these amounts were not only immeasurable, but could not affect the performance of a horse. Ms. Moss notes that positive notifications went up substantially (from 5 to 70), often to trainers who had been historically clean. She also charges that none of this was told to the public.

Gorajec: Mr. Gorajec says that this is “simply untrue.” He then basically explains that using modern measuring devices, they can in fact measure trace levels and this is critical to identifying the use of illegal drugs. The answer was pretty clever. He focuses on the idea that measuring equipment is getting more and more sophisticated and can find smaller and smaller amounts as a way of discrediting Ms. Moss’ statement. In fact, her use of the term immeasurable was inaccurate for conveying what I thought was the base issue – how reliable is a measurement of a picogram? It was about precision, not the raw number. Now I don’t pretend to understand physiology on that level, but I have a feeling at some point you could be picking up stuff a horse breathed from the steel plant down the road if all you find is a trillionth of a gram. I think in this case they were talking past each other.  If I understand it, she is saying, people have been caring for their horses a certain way for a very long time, and all of a sudden normal care turns into violations and somebody at the Commission should be taking this into account. New rules, new measurements – how about some time to adapt? Gorajec argues that unless measurements are in picograms, Indiana could miss a cocktail of the most abused drugs in racing. Really? A trainer could feed a horse clenbuterol, stanozolol, methylprednisolone, betamethasone, and dexamethasone on race day, and unless the track could find a trillionth of a gram, the trainer could get away with it? Just as a point of reference, a trillion seconds is 31,688 years. In other words (and apologies if you don’t buy the whole evolution thing), 31,688 years ago neanderthals were what passed for humans. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Mr. Gorajec really needs to give us a better discussion of how having a picogram of methylprednisolone is an unmitigated disaster for racing. An assurance that they’d never railroad anybody just isn’t good enough for a lot of us.


Moss: Ms. Moss alleges that there were trainers deprived of any due process or procedures outlined specifically in the Indiana Racing Rules. She says that rights to lawyers, timely split samples, or allowing the HBPA representatives to accompany alleged violators were ignored. She also says that individuals were threatened with excessive penalties of they didn’t not take deals that were offered.

Gorajec: Mr. Gorajec suggests that Ms. Moss is frustrated because the media did not look into her “self-styled troubling allegations.” In defense of the Indiana Racing Commission, he notes that in 20 years no court has supported a charge of lack of due process. He didn’t address the whole plea barganing issue.


In reality, Commissions are not obligated to investigate beyond the sample positive. As we learned in the case of Doug O’Neill and TCO2, the fact that a positive was measured was all that was necessary to penalize him. The California Commission was not required to demonstrate how O’Neill elevated the horse’s TCO2 level. In fact, all they did was speculate that it could have been Lasix or dehydration, but in the end it didn’t matter how the TCO2 got elevated. O’Neill sued, in part contending he was not given due process. He never stood a chance because due process at the racing commission primarily means did they follow their own administrative rules. It has nothing to do with the state having to prove how the TCO2 level became elevated. Any statement that the one thing racing commissions are good at is due process is sort of humorous.

As for plea bargaining, we all know that is the way of the world. Whether or not it is the case that trainers were threatened is probably a matter of perspective, but if you ever got a traffic ticket and went to see the D.A., you pretty much know how things work. Some extraordinarily high percentage of the time the violator pleads guilty and in return for not burdening the system, you get the violation knocked down to something less.

I don’t know either of the participants, nor do I have a great familiarity with Indiana racing, but after reading the two pieces I’d say Gorajec was mostly non-responsive or perhaps tangential in his response. Maggie Moss makes some fairly serious allegations and Joe Gorajec pretty much dismisses them out of hand without really offering a lot of substance.

Seems like business as usual to me.

Aqueduct November 23

Tough day with lots of overflow fields. I spent a looong time on this card so I hope we have the kind of success we’ve been having this week.

Race 1

  • 1 Mr. Amos – broke his maiden at MTH at a mile, came back in a Futurity at BEL and didn’t run much. The winner of that race came back to win a Grade 2 event next out. He was then taken to Parx where he ran decently in a 7 furlong race. The winner of that race came back to finish second in a stakes at Laurel. He’s been racing with better and I like the pressing style here.
  • 5 Oh Poggibonsi – if I had to bet based on names this one is a complete pitch. Luckily I only have to bet it. One race, one win on a muddy BEL track (how often have we been saying that). This is a pretty decent jump up from MCL $40K to OC $65K but he had a figure that would make him competitive in this field. He has solid sprinter breeding and Jeremiah Englehart is 25% with this layoff.  He’s got four similar four furlong works for this return and gets a rider upgrade to Javier.
  • 3 Whateveryouwant – the 2-1 ML favorite, has the best overall figures and although it took until his fifth start to find a win, he’d been sniffing around for a while. Has good speed, but is most likely to track the 5 here. A plus that his maiden victory came at AQU and at this distance. He really is the one in control of the race and if Rosario plays it right he can get the win.

Race 2

  • 3 Classic Salsa – interesting horse. Was in the Jacobson barn and hadn’t done anything since April at AQU. Was claimed last out by RuRod and he’s close to 30% first off the claim. Is dropping in claiming price by half and gets the services of Irad. Basically we’re betting the Rudy juice is better for the horse than the Jacobson juice, because otherwise he looks out of condition. Still, he has some back races that would win this race.
  • 8 Horatio – only 2 wins from 19 starts, but 11 seconds and thirds. He was racing with better when Michelle Nevin grabbed him for $20K. He looks like more of a presser so he may be another that benefits from a fast Big Lute pace.
  • 1/1a Big Lute/Indian Nobility – As much as I don’t like putting Big Lute on top he is dominant from a figure standpoint. He blitzed a field at BEL on a good track, but came back at 1-5 and was run down by Mop Head. He shows a couple of 7 furlong events where he was not able to hold on to the wire but with the drop to the lowest level he’s seen you have to give him a shot. Jacobson is great with the drop in price. Indian Nobilty won a $50K race at SAR in August, flopped badly on a sloppy BEL track and ran wide in a $35 claimer. He has more of a pressing style so the defection of Big Lute may have cost him his setup.
  • 6 Shot to Win – aptly named. He drops to his lowest level today and was a winner in a NW1X at SAR at 7 furlongs in July, Given the layoff until November it’s not surprising he was a little short last out at a mile. He should be one that handles today’s distance just fine.

Race 3

  • 5 My Tee Time – Should be the clear front runner and I’m feeling much more solid about her since Insolvent scratched. Lifetime she has been fair at the six furlong trip, although lately she’s run out of gas going the sprint distances. The drop in price may help her to retain her speed and the fact that she’s been popular at the claiming box is in her favor. Manny Franco picks up the ride and that should help.
  • 7 Purling – has been running usefully this year, and did well at this level last out. Actually shows a preference for the six furlong distance so the cutback should suit her well. Has done decently at AQU. Will have to make sure to get a good tracking spot but Cornelio has ridden her effectively the last two times.
  • 1/1a Blue Ballerina/Midnighpositano – Blue Ballerina is jumping up for Oscar Barrera. Fast enough to engage near the leaders but may be in there to set it up for the 1a. Midnightpositano can press and actually ran a pretty good figure last out at 7 furlongs on this dirt. She’s in about as good a condition as she’s seen in a while. Downside is that she’s more apt to finish in the money than win.
  • 8 Fall Into Faith – an interesting horse. Really low key connections but still an interesting runner. Started 2014 on the inner at AQU and shifted to the turf for BEL where she has shown very little aptitude. Hier one win this year came on a good BEL main track in a race washed off the turf. She gets back to the dry dirt today. The down side – 3 for 43, but she can still hit the board.

Race 4

  • 4 Trophee – Came to NA, got Lasix and closed nicely in a MSW at SAR.  Her figure from that race tops this field and the very able Christophe Clement has prepped her nicely for this start. Johnny V takes the mount and that is a plus. Should be a perfect distance. Only issue should be making sure she get the right spot to kick home.
  • 3 Miss Lech – Chad Brown trainee has been knocking on the door for a while. It’s a little concerning she hasn’t made it over the top but she may be crying for the extra distance. She much better bred for a route of ground and with her experience and figures she’s a definite contender.
  • 5 Angel Choir – Dropped into a MCL and nearly got the victory last out. Another with competitive figures but she’s running out of chances. More likely part of the exotics, but this is not such a tough field she can’t break her maiden.
  • 8 Strum – She really hasn’t run a bad race and with Pletcher training she has to be given serious consideration. She seems much better suited to the 1 1/16 mile trip and should be able to establish a pressing position early. She only has one turf race and that showed pretty good ability, and the fact that she comes back on the turf is a good sign.

Race 5

  • 13 Sonora – gets in off the AE list and has far and away the best figure. Should go to the front and try to take the field all the way home.
  • 4 Madoo – only two horses in the main body of the field have started. Violette is fair with 2nd start maidens. In her race the winner was 7 clear, and she wasn’t far behind the place horse. The cut back to 6 furlongs can’t hurt and the string of workouts is impressive.
  • 5 Miss Valued – Jeremiah Englehart is 18% with first timers and 17% with 2 year olds overall. Sold for almost double her stud fee as a 2 year old this spring. Has an impressive and steady string of works and should be ready for the debut. Well bred for the sprint distance.
  • 8 Downton Alley – Leah Gyamati has two in here and the signs are a little conflicting. It looks like the stablemates worked in company three times and the 8 had the better of the going. However, primary rider Irad Ortiz went to the 10. Both look good so I put the longer odds in this slot.
  • Some other thoughts: 10 Beating Heart Baby  is the other Gyamati trainee. Like I said, take your pick. I’m not ready to completely discard 3 Barrel of Dreams. She had a bad start and never got into the last race, but puts blinkers on today and that can make a difference. Clearly she wasn’t well thought of last out, going off at 60-1, but because we really haven’t seen the best she has we don’t know for sure she is an also ran. One of the other firsters, 6 Camille’s Storm also has a nice workout pattern, although Ryerson is not notable with first timers or two year olds.

Race 6

  • 12 Super City – in a race about as bad as it gets Super City has a few positives. She’s not superbly bred for the turf, yet Colum O’Brien put her there for her first two lifetime starts. The first start she showed a ton of speed after breaking slightly slow and then not unexpectedly backed up in the stretch. Second out she never got into the race, and third out was on a sloppy track she didn’t seem to grab hold of. She’s beautifully bred for the sprint and has a really nice workout since her last. The drop from MSW to the cheap claiming ranks is huge. She also puts blinkers on today. She’ll have some work to do from the far outside, but I like the 8-1 ML.
  • 5 Marriedtomichael – another one that has seen more off/turf tracks than fast tracks. Has been dropping steadily and seems to have found the right level.
  • 1 Geraldine – ran into a sloppy AQU track last out and never got into the race. Before that she was competetive at this level at Laurel after being off over a year. This is the third in the current sequence and she definitely has the figure and running style to be a factor today.
  • 14 Doesnotgrowontrees – first start was on a sloppy track. She had some trouble getting out of the gate, showed a little bit of interest and backed up. I’ll give her another shot to show what she’s got today, especially considering she got reasonable backing last time.

Race 7

  • 9 Village Warrior – has a ton of speed and no turf form. If he goes he is intriguing because this race has such little speed.
  • 7 Innovation Economy – Come from the clouds sort went a mile and a half last time. He brushed the gate on the way out and made up some ground, eventually just finishing the race evenly. Has consistent numbers in his three starts. Has a nice steady series of works for this. Brown/Castellano partnership hits at 27%.
  • 8 Make a Decision – barely missed at a mile and a half at about this class level and that was encouraging considering he hasn’t won this year. Overall he has the best figures but they don’t stand far above a few in here. Has a much more midpack style, so he should get a reasonably good position and make a strong close in the stretch.
  • 5 Bishop’s Castle – first start since coming from Britain. Adds Lasix for good percentage, low profile trainer Todd Wyatt who engages Jose Ortiz for the ride. Should have no issue with the distance, but only has one workout to prep. Based on his Euro comments, he’s another midpack to the rear.

Race 8

  • 4 Court Dancer – laid off from December to August and returned in a SAR turf sprint. She rested again until November 1 and ran a strong second in a sprint on a sloppy track at AQU. She seems just fine on a fast dirt track and since she’s coming back in three weeks she should be in top shape for this run. She had a nice maintenance work a week ago and gets a jockey upgrade to Rosario.
  • 1 Ms. Sylvia A. – broke her maiden then immediately jumped into a $40K starter, winning again. She next took on state bred stakes horses, including the well regarded Isabelle, finishing mid-pack. She then laid off for five months and came back at this class level, finishing second behind the dominating Blithely who came back to win an OC $40K. Some good works for Nevin who has been hot lately.
  • 8 My Girl Madison – shows a lot of early foot and that can be dangerous in this field. Not sure she’ll like the 6 1/2 furlongs, but she’ll give them something to run at.
  • 3 Rock N Cozy – Claimed by Jacobson last out off a win in a $40K NW2L. She’s better than 50% seconds and thirds lifetime, but she has been in better condition lately and Jacobson always makes a difference.

Race 9

  • 4 Uncle Chester – first timer for Gyamati who does good with debut runners. He’s well bred for the turf and this distance. Nice series of workouts in preparation for this.
  • 7 Worbothor – another of the first timers, this one for Steve Klesaris. He’s 21%with first time starters, 15% with two year olds overall. The works are not particularly outstanding, but she is well bred for the turf and the distance. Klesaris/Arroyo combination hits at 25%.
  • 9 Humboldt and Frost – has been showing speed and takes the blinkers off in an effort to get her to relax. Hasn’t been on the turf yet, but is average bred for the surface and distance. We’ll see if she relishes the change to the green.
  • 3 Renwick – goes for the Clement stable. His turf breeding is fair at best, although he is monstrously rated for the distance. Rosario gets the mount and the combination with Rosario is over 20%

Aqueduct November 22

I’ll explain up front that I have a varsity scrimmage I’m working early tomorrow so I won’t have an opportunity to adjust picks for off the turf or scratches. Unlike my usual pattern where I post about half an hour before post time, I’ll be posting Friday night, well before we know changes at NYRA. In the turf races I haven’t written up a detailed analysis — instead I just gave picks for the turf and dirt– but those are the picks I would have elaborated on either way, depending on scratches. I’ll be back about post time, and at that point I’ll see about adjusting the later races. In any case, take the turf races for what they are worth. By the way, you should always feel free to tweet me if you are wondering about my thinking on any particular horse.

Race 1

  • 1 Forty Nine Karats – I like four things about the horse. He adds Lasix, although if you watch his last race I don’t think bleeding had anything to do with the finish; he got a fast work 7 days ago; he only has one start so improvement is possible; and he switches from turf to dirt where he is MUCH better bred. He’s 12-1 and the two horses that are favorites on the ML are not world beaters.
  • 8 Awesome Lute – Flubbed when trying the turf in a MSW last out, but before that he ran ok in two MCL $40K races. Although he is listed at 2-1 ML I don’t see him as a lock, but in this group he doesn’t have a lot of competition.
  • 5 Bad to the Road – five starts, two thirds and the same mediocre figures as a couple of the other starters. He may actually be the most likely horse to set the pace, although he’s not exactly a speedball. 8-5 on the ML is hard to take, but he may have to find his way onto your horizontal tickets.
  • 4 Show of Force – first timer for Schettino has decent works and the trainer is fair with debut horses, a little better with first time maiden claimers. We’ll see how good he is today.

Race 2

  • 1 Tiz Elusive – Tiznow first timer for Gary Contessa has an interesting set of works. Started with some fast moves at the Training Center at Copper Crowned in Louisiana, got a couple of works to build bottom at AQU and BEL, and had a nice breeze ten days ago. Contessa is only fair with firsters but this might be one of the successful ones.
  • 6 Hythe Gardens – McPeek also just fair with younger horses. I’d like to see a few longer works, but seems to have been building the horse for speed. He’s bred beautifully for the distance so maybe the workout pattern won’t be a hinderance.
  • 2 Channel of Love – has had the misfortune of two off tracks and puts the blinkers on today. I’ll give him another shot on the fast track today.

Race 3

  • 8 Attractive Ride – old campaigner still giving the youngsters a run for their money. David Cannizzo is training now and puts the blinkers on, although he doesn’t look like he needs focus. He’s got some very nice back figures – I think you excuse the last one on the slop. Saez has to give the right ride and that is not a sure thing.
  • 7 Love To Run – racing well lately. There are a lot of horses with a preference to run to the front, so he may have some trouble getting a good tracking spot
  • 1 Patriot’s Voyage – another speedster who was 3 of 4 last year and only has one start in March this year. Baffert seemed to have the horse until June or so when David Jacobson was able to purchase the horse. Obviously Baffert likes to work his horses quick and Jacobson has just given the horse one slow work since June, which is why he’s my third choice.
  • 6 Volastic – can track and that makes him one of the few in this race. He should get a decent tracking sport and seems to like finishing in the money.

Race 4

On the Turf: 4-3-9-2

On the Main: 16-9-15-3

Race 5

  • 6 Sunny Desert – was dominant in 2013 at AQU in these state bred stakes. She’s had four races this year with a second and a third, and it is of concern that her best figures were on sloppy tracks, but she’s had plenty of success on fast tracks. She should like the distance – she’s one for one lifetime. At 3-1 ML she’s a fair bet.
  • 10 Storied Lady – has been running with these sorts all year. Likes to come from farther back and seems more comfortable at route distances. Does have a second at the distance and certainly has good enough figures to make it her day.
  • 2 Uncle Southern – Six furlong and wet track winner has no experience at the distance, although her last race on the mud at FL was a clunker. Somewhat ambiguous but I like that she seems to give an effort every time.
  • 5 Champagne Ruby – another that runs in this company regularly. Won the Niagara at FL and actually ran pretty well in the Arctic Queen, but it does appear that 7 furlongs might be the edge of her ability.

Race 6

  • 5 Monster Mash – has a great figure off his last win, although it was on a muddy track. Of course every horse that raced at BEL seems to have recent races on wet tracks. Has a second at AQU. Will have to press since some better speed is signed on. Englehart has a high percentage with horses coming off a win and Jose Ortiz stays for the trip.
  • 8 Honor Code – It may have been silly not to put him on top, considering he was in the conversation about the Kentucky Derby late last year. He was a close second in the Champagne and won the Remsen. Something happened because he was off until March and came back in an open allowance where he was drubbed by Social Inclusion, a pretty talented horse on his own. He got the comment “hard to load” which could have explained why he gave it up in the lane. He’s probably better meant for longer distances, and I always have a bit of discomfort when a horse comes out at the wrong distance in a lower level allowance – could be some exercise or he could win in a romp. Have to use but he should get overbet.
  • 7 Pure Sensation – Puts the blinkers on for Christophe Clement, although he doesn’t seem to need focus – he generally is up with the leaders. He did run in the Woody Stephens, which was one of the fastest three year old races of the year, and actually only finished 8 lengths behind HOY candidate Bayern. Has been given a short break and has a good workout pattern, seemingly an attempt to give him more bottom. I have a feeling Clement has something up his sleeve with this one.
  • 1 Royal Currier – claimed last out for $32K by Michelle Nevin but before that race had been in some minor stakes with mixed success. 3 wins in six starts this year – I like horses that like to finish in front. At 12-1 he’s got a legitimate shot and could make your horizontals and verticals.

Race 7

On the Turf: 8-4-9-10

On the Main: 6-1a-14-12

Race 8

  • 1 West Hills Giant – no wins in five starts this year, but he has been with this sort most of the year and actually finished second in this race last November. Has the best figures in the group. Not enamored with the fact he’ll have to come from near the back of the pack, but still looks best overall.
  • 3 John’s Island – Another plodder with good figures. He’s been with some good horses, having run fourth in the Amsterdam. He’s had trouble, some of his own making, in his last three. Bumped at the break, wide around the turn. But he has a win in one start at AQU and did run ok in the Mike Lee at this distance. Fast work last out tells me Jerkens might be looking to get the horse a better placement this time.
  • 4 Loki’s Vengeance – Hushion has been putting a lot of live horses on the track at AQU. Laid this one off from the end of May to late October where he ran third after being herded by Glickman all the way through the stretch. It was a good first off a layoff and Hushion is 27% with second time off a break. Has a lot of outs in this race.
  • 9 Geaux Mets – Came out of the same race as Loki’s Vengeance but it’s usually not a good idea to ignore Jacobson. Has run a lot better figures than his last two indicate. Two back he was pretty much taken out at the start, but really didn’t have an excuse in his last. Got the usual maintenance work and it’s reasonable to expect better today.

Race 9

On the Turf: 4-1-6-8

On the Main: 14-1a-7-13

Aqueduct November 21

Race 1

No fun when your choice gets scratched. I still believe the 3 is vulnerable but perhaps less so.

  • 4 Cee No More – listed at 15-1 on the ML but I don’t think the crowd will let us get away with that. Of his six lifetime starts three have been on the turf, three on the dirt. He has one second, one third, both on the dirt. He is dropping from $40K down to $20K and his dirt figure is as good as anyone in the race. The connections are less than inspiring, but that’s why you get big odds.
  • 3 Mischieviously – the 6-5 ML favorite and while he looks competitive, he doesn’t look unbeatable. Ten starts, one second, one third. He hasn’t improved since being snagged by Linda Rice and his figures are not heads above the others.  He seems to prefer pressing, although there isn’t a lot of real speed here. We’ll let the odds dictate how interesting he is at post time.
  • 2 Heading to Boca – Michelle Nevin claimed him back in Jan and rested him until October. His return was nothing to get excited about, but it was on the slop and certainly he would have needed it. He’s likely to improve and we’ll find out if it is enough for him to finish in front.
  • 5 Qui C’est Moi – was claimed last out by Abigail Adsit, and she has been effective at improving horses. Another that laid off from May to October, ran into a sloppy track for his return, and tired. He’s got some past figures that would be competitive in this field. Can’t count him out.

Race 2

  • 3 Cocktails With Dan – Actually showed a good tracking style in most of his races, but broke out and checked at the break. He never really got into the scrum, but I like that he showed some interest by closing past half the field. He doesn’t quite match up to a couple of others in terms of pace figures but at 10-1 you’re not going to get a horse that sticks out.
  • 5 Le Deluge – one race at AQU and one close second place finish. He looks perhaps like he made his move a little prematurely, but he shifts from Chuck Lopez to Cornelio and that should help. Has had consistent figures, although he does seem to have a decided tendency to finish second and third.
  • 1 Ausable River – has a lot of early speed. Came out on the turf after a brief respite and didn’t show much on that surface. Should prefer the dirt and has a second at AQU. Will be the one to catch.
  • 7 Seeker – the other speed in the race. Bruce Brown claimed him for $16K and hasn’t really improved him, but he is 3 for 3 at AQU. Will probably be overlooked in the betting and isn’t without chances.

Race 3

  • 11 Keen’s Cupla – one of the MTO’s, has the best main track figure, although it was on a wet track. Has some good early punch so he should be able to establish a nice tracking position.
  • 10 Blue Shark – has a couple of good races on the dirt and competitive figures. Gives him an edge over some of the other turf only starters.
  • 9 Talladega – has showed a lot of talent – consistent in his figures. Hard to explain why he hasn’t won by this point, but he has had some wide trips in his last two. We’ll see if he takes to the dirt.
  • 1 Forever Utopia – 8 second place finishes in 14 starts and has done well on the dirt. Hard to see him in the win slot, but has good outs for an exotic position.

Race 4

  • 1 David Rocks – Almost wired a field at BEL in October. Ok, the fractions weren’t exactly blazing, but these are state bred two year olds. Of the starters, his figure certainly sticks out.
  • 8 Global Positioning – First timer for Hushion out of Malibu Moon. Looked like he was being prepped for an early start, but something happened and he took a training break from May to September. He has a good series of works and should be as ready as he needs to be.
  • 9 Pierce’s Prize – Puts the blinkers on after showing well in two maidens and a state bred futurity at FL. Gets a big positive jockey switch to Rosario. Consistent figures.
  • 4 Possilicious – First timer for Kelly Breen. I like the workout pattern and Breen is 19% with firsters and 21% with two year olds. Chuck Lopez has a lot of experience riding, but he’s not been effective on this circuit, although he’s usually good about getting horses out and in position.

Race 5

  • 1 Financial Mogul – One of those cheap claimers with horses who have tons of starts but only one win. Financial Mogul is the X factor. He broke his maiden at first asking, and then went into a series of six graded stakes, including the Woody Stephens, a very fast race with an exceptionally strong field. Obviously this horse has been over his head for about all of his career. He may have head problems, a possibility with horses that have been raced at the wrong level, but the drop to $25K should be telling. Betting based on past class and that fact he has a lot of figures that would dominate the field.
  • 4 Brass Pear – Lots of early speed but not as much luck holding on. The 24 starts with only one victory is not inspiring, but in this field he has a shot to be in the exacta. He’ll have to be caught – again.
  • 6 Sun Storm – Came out after a year plus off and didn’t run too badly.  In his second start he didn’t have a lot of interest at the start, and it went downhill from there. But, a horse with four starts in this field has a lot of up side. Is making his third start off the layooff and if he’s going to hit it, this might be the race. Fairly low-key connections, but this is not a high class field.

Race 6

  • 5 Lunar Tales – Popular at the claim box. Contessa lost him, snagged him back next out, then jumped him the a $50K starter that was taken off the turf. He showed a little speed in that race, but it seems like the slop did him in. That was his only dirt race but I think you can excuse the poor performance  because of the soupy track. Has some decent works on th dirt and gets another chance today.
  • 3 Police Camp – Ran on the inner at AQU last winter, then took off until October when he returned on the turf. He won his first race back, returned two weeks later on the yielding turf. In that race he started a little slow, stayed wide the whole time, but still passed a few horses. Never actually been on a fast track so we’ll see how he adapts.
  • 7 Bajan Summer – one dirt start in her maiden voyage, not much of a race. Blossomed on the turf, and may have a decided preference for that surface, but has some some nice figures on the turf and if he runs to those he’s a contender here.
  • 9 Mental Iceberg – I have no idea what that means, but the horse has outs. He was well enough thought of as a 2 year old to get a start in the Remsen and then in the winter as a 3 year old in the Jerome.  He’s taking a pretty steep drop in class and he has some good races on the inner dirt.

Race 7

  • 7 Masons Dream – two starts, two second place finishes. Of the starters, has the top figures. Not likely to get much of a price, but he is the obvious pick.
  • 2 Andrew’s Got Zip – broke slow and made the death move, rushing to try to engage the leaders. No surprise he faded in the stretch. We won’t know if he is better than the 7, but with a clean break we should find out today.
  • 3 Fear – Went to the front in the Masons Dream race and backed up. We can give him a race to get his feet under him, and he should be the one to catch. I like the workout since the last – he got the rare handily comment.
  • 8 Damage Control – Kimmel is 21% with first timers and slightly lower with 2 year olds overall. Been prepping a while for this debut and should be ready.

Race 8

  • 15 Touching My Toes – has a lot of speed and almost wired a field at this level last time out. Has very competitive dirt figures and looks solid.
  • 16 Nonnie Connie – 23 starts and only two wins, but has been consistently competitive all year. Top dirt figure in the group.
  • 3 Graceful Gal – Just broke her maiden on the turf, but ran an impressive time. Curlin is a fine dirt sire and her dirt works are fair. Gets a shot to impress winners today,
  • 5 Barrier to Entry – Ran a second in an off the turf race at BEL in the mud. Has been running with cheaper, but ran well against a few of the others in here so I’m willing to give her a chance.

Race 9

  • 7 Absolute Beauty – Last three races were on the turf and a muddy track. He’s 0 for 5 on the turf, so those races can be excused. That muddy race was impressive. She went a fair pace early, and didn’t fade that badly in the stretch. I like the early foot and the distance. She’s 6-1 ML and I’d think we’ll get value at post time.
  • 4 Zimbabwe Lady – Michelle Nevin claimed the horse in February and gave her a race in March before laying her off until October. She ran well on a sloppy track, has a couple of workouts that should have sharpened her speed, and should improve second off the layoff.
  • 3 Literata – Just broke her maiden after dropping from MSW to the $25K claiming level. The figures are competitive, but she may have to improve a little to take this field to the wire. Dilger engages Johnny V to ride and they are  23% combo.
  • 9 Pitched – Really underwhelming connections, although the horse has been in the money the last four starts. Has about the same figures as the other contenders and given the low profile trainer and jockey, she should be some value.

Aqueduct November 20

I assume they’ll be off the turf again. Everything handicapped for the dirt.

Race 1

  • 3 Guggenheim – sometimes 7-5 on the ML looks like it should be 7-5. Fastest numbers in the race, should have no trouble with the distance, and has better tactical speed than it may look like in the PP’s. Seems to have some issues – two months between first and second start, four months between start two and three, but is coming back in less than a month this time, a good sign.
  • 2 Veya – eight start maiden had been exclusively on the grass until last out when the race washed off. That affair was as good as he has run, and Ribaudo adds blinkers today. Izzy Rodriguez is still a work in progress, but he has had some decent rides lately.
  • 6 Street Babe – don’t get too excited about all those bullets on the workout line. He has been upstate and there aren’t too many horses using the Oklahoma Training Track at SAR at this time of the year. Tough debuting at a mile, but it is only one turn. Rosario probably had his choice and decided to pass on the 3 in favor of this one. Dilger is fair to good with first timers. Really the only unknown in the race, so could be any sort.

Race 2

  • 4 Summer House – has shown speed in two races on off tracks. She’s trained by Bill Mott, and historically Mott runners need a race or two to get going. Being a Tiznow, she should relish the distance and the fast dirt. She won’t be 15-1 at post, but may be a decent price.
  • 8 Doukas – three starts on the turf, but she is bred well enough for the dirt. RuRod trains and Irad stays for the trip. She has the best figure of the horses left after scratches, and plenty of tactical speed.
  • 12 Resilient One – Pletcher trainee has one start at 6 furlongs on the yielding turf, but should adapt to the dirt and the distance just fine. Pletcher is dynamite with second start maidens.
  • 11 Tap It Out – Comes out of the same race as the 12 where she was three lengths behind that one. She is well bred to handle the dirt and the distance and improvement is realistic today.

Race 3

  • 1 E Z Passer – Threw in a clunker at 7 furlongs last out, but before that had won four in a row and around this class level. Came back with a good workout a week ago. Patrick Quick grabbed her from Diane Balsamo, and he has only been fair first off the claim. Still, has some really competitive figures and if he runs back, he’s got a great shot.
  • 5 My Place – nine starts, 3 wins, including one for one at AQU, and 3 second place finishes, include 2 of 2 place finishes at this distance. Good numbers and should thrive at the trip.
  • 3 Pure Vida Zen – the track didn’t play to closers on Wednesday, although she does have the ability to press. Runs well on fast or wet dirt. Hasn’t seen this particular trip but no reason to expect she’ll falter at 7.
  • 6 Darling Bridezilla – Luckily you don’t have to like the name – just the horse. This the the David Jacobson runner, and he is white hot with 1st off the claim lately. Horse seems to always be trying hard, and with a little improvement is right there with these.

Race 4

  • 10 N.F.’s Destiny – has some fast races in his pp’s and speed was doing well on Wednesday. 12 of 17 first or second lifetime. Does seem to have some trouble hanging on in the stretch, but given his lifetime record at six furlongs, you have to include him.
  • 8 So Scott – Drops all the way down to $20K after running decently in some state bred $75K races at AQU in the spring. Bruce Levine is only fair off the layoff, but he looks like he has been patient with this horse. Wouldn’t be a total surprise.
  • 2 Won Great Classic – 20% lifetime winning percentage. He has 3 wins in 8 starts this year, all at this level and a figure that makes him competitive given the key scratches. Has a pressing style, so should be close enough to get a clear run in the stretch.
  • 7 Seek to Destroy – Showed good speed last out after shipping over from FL. Cuts back half a furlong and that should only help. Cannizzo hasn’t been hot at the AQU meet, but usually has his runners ready to go.

Race 5

  • 5 Irish Jasper – Overwhelmed his maiden field at Parx going five and a half. Pressed nicely, drew away powerfully, despite having a slow start. Castellano takes the mount and even though it is a step up. the horse looks good enough to be competitive.
  • 3 Omagoddonna – Chris Englehart snatched this one off a strong maiden win. Steps her up in price today, but cuts back slightly in distance. Couple of nice works in her favor.
  • 6 She’s Marvy – Another that was taken last out, this time by Steve Klesaris. She barely managed to win her maiden, but has a decent figure for this group. Klesaris is 28% first off the claim, although not really known as a two year old specialist.
  • 8 Captain Munnings – Dominated a field when dropped from MSW to MCL. Gary Contessa trains, and he is only fair with horses coming off the short rest, but she does have speed and that is an advantage.

Race 6

  • 1 Againsome – more seconds and thirds than wins this year, but is definitely at the right class level to move to the winner’s enclosure. Linda Rice has been fair at this meet, and if he runs back to his last he’s a serious contender.
  • 7 Sean and Matt – didn’t run horribly in the slop last time, but was much better on a fast surface. This is the third in the sequence since coming off a 10 month break and I’m expecting it to be a good one. Did well at the distance last time he went a mile.
  • 8 March Too – Showed good speed in the summer at SAR and BEL, went to KEE a month ago and won comfortably despite being challenged around the track. A mile seems to be the end of his stamina rope. Eddie Kenneally grabbed this one for $40K off the maiden win, steps him up a bit today, but given the positives, he’s a contender.
  • 4 Giant Fox – been close with these sorts since breaking his maiden for $20K. Dropped way back last time and made a strong close, although that may not be the best strategy today. Certainly has the numbers to be a factor here.

Race 7

  • 10 It’ll Be Fine – started his career on the turf including including a run in the Sunday Silence where he only lost by 3/4 length. Next out was on a muddy KEE track where he finished a close second. Although he ran a clunker on the fast dirt next out, he’s proven at the distance and is well bred for the dirt. Castellano takes the mount and that has to helps.
  • 8 Blazing Truth – has shown good speed in five turf starts for Bill Mott. Given that any other potential speed defected, he should inherit the lead here and that makes him dangerous. Actually is nicely bred for the dirt and should have no issue with the distance.
  • 6 Havermeyer Street – one race on the dirt at a much lower level, but he did make a nice press and close while wide into the stretch. Actually went off as the favorite in that race so was well thought of. A couple of decent works should have the horse on edge.

Race 8

  • 4 Girlaboutown – Been off for two months for NY bred specialist Mike Hushion. Has been working steadily for the return. Was a strong winner at seven furlongs, came back at a mile and faded a bit in the stretch. Still, she’s well bred for the distance, and figures best if she runs back to her SAR race.
  • 5 Official – The other winter giant David Jacobson trains this one. Just beat a NW1X last out on a good AQU track. Last two before that were on the turf, but she seems to be one of those horses that runs well on both but prefers dirt. No surprise to see these two battling to the wire. Jacobson’s go to guy Cornelio rides.
  • 6 Canal Six – Another last out winner for Tom Morley. Is six of seven in the money lifetime, one for one at AQU, and one for one at the distance. Is every bit as competitive as the first two, and given the pressing style, could be picking up pieces in the stretch.
  • 7 Bridgetta – Claimed last out by Schosberg, and immediately jumped up. Schosberg is not good first off the claim, but he does take the blinkers off today and perhaps that helps the horse to relax. Not without a chance but more likely underneath in the exotics.

Race 9

  • 13 American Hero – one of the MTO’s. He finished a close second after having some trouble at the start and altering course in the stretch. He’s at the right level and perhaps finally has it figured out.
  • 12 Spa City Treasure – has one race on the fast dirt at GP where he finished second. Late bloomer has three second place finishes in six lifetime starts. Nice pressing style. A little dicey in the win slot but the character of the race changed substantially with the scratches and his chances are certainly elevated.
  • 14 Party On – Two races on the dirt. The first one was at this level and he settled at the back of the pack, eventually showing interest in the stretch and passing a few horses. Next out he hit a muddy surface and was over his head in a MSW. The drop coupled with dirt experience makes him a contender.
  • 2 Tottie Royer – debut race was on the dirt. He had some trouble at the start in that one and didn’t show much. The two races on the grass were helpful in terms of experience. Low profile trainer and a jockey that has had very little success, but has a shot to make the exotics.
  • 1a Zabaione – part of the coupling that stayed and one of the MTO’s. Breaking from the far outside in a mile race can’t help, but given he’s the only one that hasn’t started enough to get a good handle on his running ability, it doesn’t make sense to leave him out.

Aqueduct November 19

Race 1

  • 2 Player to Be Named – Jimmy Soul looks very strong in this field, but the 2 has shown a lot of speed and if the track plays well to front runners she’s got a chance here. At 10-1 she represents the value in the race, especially since she is a filly running against the boys. She has been racing with slightly better and the drop down in price should help.
  • 5 Jimmy Soul – despite being seen as a world beater, he was an eight start maiden when the switch to Rudy Rodriguez and a sloppy track woke him up. He does have an impressive number and perhaps will win for fun, but they don’t run races on paper.
  • 4 Brother Ralphie – has two races on the inner dirt, one on a fast track one in the mud, and two races on the turf. He won the race on the fast dirt and although he’s been off a while he’s got some useful works and Linda Rice is fair with layoff horses.

Race 2

  • 4 Mallory Street – two seconds and a third in three lifetime races. She had been off over a year, returned at BEL and ran a clear second to True Romance. She’s had a work since then and looks good to break her maiden in this race.
  • 2 Hijaab – three spaced races indicates some physical issues, but she has shown good early foot and has a couple of nice works since her last.
  • 6 Blooper – One race where she broke from the far outside and stayed wide throughout but still managed to find her way to fourth. Michelle Nevin trains and she’s been having a good AQU meet with limited starters.
  • 3 Full of Sugar – Hennig has been fair with layoff horses and this one has been off since the spring at GP. Irad takes the ride and that is a plus. If she improves from her previous races she’s a contender.

Race 3    (off the turf)

  • 5 Senso – the Jacobson trainee, has some experience on the dirt. Concern is her ability to stay the distance, but this is a very weak field.
  • 4 Lil’ Zilla – has some speed. Only has one race on the dirt, and that was on a sloppy BEL track. She made a big move mid-race in that one and flattened in the stretch. Another with a shot.
  • 9 Bi Light of Day – six starts on the dirt and three in the money finishes. Is a 17 start maiden, and normally that is a red flag, but given the ambiguity of the race, you can’t discount any horse that has shown some ability on the dirt.

Race 4

  • 4 Socialsaul – has three in a row and no reason he won’t make it four. Has a nice pressing running style and Cornelio stays aboard. May not be dominant but looks best.
  • 1 Holy Invader – had been off eight months and came out to run a nice third to favorite Socialsaul.  No reason to expect the tables to turn today, but looks second best.
  • 8 Chrisandlorisposse – ten starts this year, mostly against better competition. Could pick up some of the pieces.

Race 5

  • 7 Saint Finian – won on the BEL mud last out and jumps up slightly in price. Irad stays for the ride. Definitely will depend on how the track is playing. If it is kind to the wider closers, his chances increase.
  • 2 Midnight Taboo – was racing well late last year and early this year. Took a vacation and has shown very little in two starts. Takes a big drop today and given he has good tactical speed, may have found a field easy enough to beat.
  • 3 Sir Bond – ran a good third last out and Chris Englehart puts the blinkers on today. 2 for 28 record not inspiring, but could get a piece.
  • 5 Run for Logistics – should set the early fractions and is in with much cheaper than he’s ever seen. Has the figures to be a factor here.

Race 6

  • 10 Inaflash – has been competitive all year. Has two thirds on the AQU dirt and competitive figures.
  • 7 Mama Zee – has good tactical speed, although she didn’t look too good in her last when she got taken back by Rudy Rodriguez. It was only a few short months ago she was running in a minor stakes. Might be able to prosper with the price drop.
  • 1 Blue Ballerina – although the 1a looked to be the stronger of the two Barrera runners, the 1 has the best speed. She does seem to have developed chronic seconditis – in 30 starts she has three wins and ten seconds. Still, should be competitive in this group.
  • 2 Hoopskirt – another suffering from seconditis. Took a year off, came back and never got into her last race. May improve enough to catch a piece.

Race 7

  • 5 Freudie Anne – in the battle of the Anne’s, I’ll go with the 5. She broke her maiden in fine style at BEL on the turf, returned in a state-bred stakes and never got into the race. She drops to a claiming race and should have much better prospects today.
  • 8 Building Permit – Chad Brown trainee stays for the dirt race after  clobbering a field at BEL in the mud. Can’t argue with Brown’s success and go to guy Castellano gets the ride.
  • 1a In Spite of Mama – MTO makes it in. Was beaten soundly by Building Permit and then came out to do the same to a MSW field. Should improve with a drier track.
  • 10 Brockolini – Comes of a debut win. Has the number to be first to the wire.

Race 8

  • 5 Irish Whisper – Was running well in the spring, took six months off and came back in the Iroquois where he showed a little speed but backed up badly. Obviously needed the race. Have to expect improvement today.
  • 9 Storm Swept – Jerkens trainee is making the crucial third start of a layoff and has gotten better. Topped last year’s best number in her last out, and that is a really positive sign.
  • 4 Sun and Moon – Good tactical speed but a tendency to hang. Did finally break her maiden two back and didn’t run badly in her first with winners. Perhaps now that’s she’s found what it is like to finish in front she’ll repeat the feat.
  • 2 Irish Sweepstakes – hasn’t been with nearly this good, but does have 3 wins in 9 starts lifetime. Rosario takes the mount and that is a positive.

Race 9

  • 15 Net Gain – second time starter for Mott and everyone knows his horses improve with experience. Has a great number but will have to find a way to get into the race from the far outside.
  • 6 Battle Red – has shown a lot of speed on the turf but has one good race on the dirt. Pletcher trains and Johnny V rides, and that usually leads to paydirt.
  • 12 Manchurian – debuted on the dirt at a mile and a sixteenth, a tough job for any firster. He ran a decent third in that one, and should be a factor today.
  • 2 High Noon Rider – gets Lasix today for George Weaver. Hasn’t run that badly and if he takes to the dirt and improves he has a big shot.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

“No man is an island, entire of  itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Those words were written in 1624 by John Donne, at the time Dean of St. Pauls in London. Earlier Donne had been afflicted with spotted fever, and as he was lying in his bed at home could hear the tolling of the funeral bell from the neighboring church day after day. This led him to the profound revelation that we are all part of a greater whole, all in this life together. When one of us dies, we are all diminished by that death.

It is no different in the racing community. When a racetrack closes,  we all suffer a part of that loss. When the sport is spoiled by jockeys who use “buzzers,” or trainers who resort to performance enhancing medication, we are  all diminished. It is the strangest of conditions, where each of us often feels like an island, but we are all tied to each other through our devotion to the sport, and of course the parimutuel pool.

This is equally true when the state through its regulatory bodies does not act in the best interest of the sport. I’ve written extensively about the absolute insurers rule and how it has absolved the state from its investigatory responsibilities in some cases. The politics of racing commissions and the cronyism that often pervades regulatory issues angers many fans, but since so many see themselves not only as islands but as singularly impotent, we often restrict ourselves to complaining, mainly to each other.

Maggie Moss wrote a scathing piece about new regulations at Indiana Grand

In it, she says

The 2014 meet began May 6 with an attempt to adopt new Association of Racing Commissioners International medication rules. However, uncertain withdrawal times for therapeutic medications—in the middle of the meet—created an ever-changing landscape for horsemen. It was, admittedly, a work in progress; even trainers strictly complying with new rules were called in with “positives.” The immeasurable amounts, by all scientific data, could not ever remotely affect the performance of the horse.

This is often the rub. A trainer gets a relatively severe penalty for a positive for oxazepam at a trace level, despite the fact that there seems to be no logical explanation for why any horse would be given what amounts to a sedative in an attempt to enhance performance, or even how the drug had made it into the horse’s system. Because racing commissions are paranoid about public perception the letter of the law becomes the alpha and omega of the law. How a horse winds up with a positive often becomes irrelevant in the world of racing commission violations.There is no innocent until proven guilty – it is quite the opposite. The idea of due process is perverted to the point where it only means the commission lets you talk before they found you guilty, or as in the words of Sheriff Cobb in the movie Silverado, “We’re gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging.”

This is consistent with what happened in Indiana as Ms. Moss documents.

Trainers notified of overages were allegedly deprived of any due process or procedures outlined specifically in the Indiana rules of racing. Any rights to lawyers, timely split samples, or allowing Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association representation was ignored. Worse, individuals were threatened with excessive penalties if they did not take the “deals” offered. Most of this was done behind closed doors; the identities of those disciplined were never released to the media or the betting public.

This is the epitome of business as usual. Commissions hell-bent on getting guilty pleas cajole and intimidate the accused. I once served on a jury in an armed robbery case. The defendant, in this case the getaway driver, was offered the same deal as his partner who actually went into a jewelry store with a gun and robbed the place. For some reason this guy thought he could beat the rap, and to avoid trial the D.A. offered him the same 12 years as his partner. To make it tougher on the defendant, she threatened him with a three-strikes violation, a crime that carried a life sentence, if he wouldn’t plead guilty. His other two felony convictions were for things like jimmying the coin box at a laundromat, certainly not a violent or particularly heinous crime, but a felony nonetheless. It didn’t matter. His partner pled guilty and a few years later walked out of jail. The defendant was convicted, is still at the penitentiary, and will be for quite some time. The point wasn’t lost on me. If you don’t plead guilty, the penalty after conviction can be orders of magnitude worse.

Maggie Moss’ article is a horror show of a state commission run amok, and perhaps it is worse than what occurs in most jurisdictions, but I expect not.

It is the nature of the world that partisanship exists. We are loyal to those who have always supported us and we have little patience for those who are arrogant or aloof. It is no different in racing where certain trainers and jockeys always seem to warrant the enmity of the press, the public and racing commissions, while others have the appearance of being teflon coated.

It is not that the racing commissioners are not well-intentioned. On the contrary, they believe they have been ordained to protect racing by treating all transgressions as violent felonies. In the words of one backstretch worker who asked not to be identified, it seems rare that any medication violation is treated as a simple traffic ticket. It will always be that way as long as the sport is governed by unelected commissioners appointed by politicians who often are dispensing favors to the appointee or to those who are the equivalent of the Rockefellers or the the Morgans in the sport. It is far easier to focus on the O’Neill’s, the Dutrow’s, and the Asmussen’s of the sport, people for whom public opinion has already placed them in the category of chronic cheaters. Intent can rarely make up for competency.

Maggie Moss says,

“We must stop calling everyone cheaters when we discuss picograms of therapeutic overages versus cobalt, dermorphin, and other boutique drugs that kill our horses and jeopardize our jockeys. The media must do its job and stop calling everyone in racing cheaters, and also inquire into what a picogram is and how it affects a racing animal. The media also should ask what our labs are doing to test as they never have before and trying to measure amounts that are simply immeasurable.”

“Most of all the media must realize it is what makes the public think that racing is a cesspool of cheating when in reality it is not. A good starting point would be to see how inconsistent drug testing and inequality by our regulators is aiding a very unfair playing field. Indiana with its new regulations, switching of labs, and selective prosecution would be a good starting place.”

Each of us that loves racing has a responsibility to get involved with changing the administration of the sport so that governing bodies are filled with objective and qualified people. Where racing commissions are filled with lobbyists, attorneys who have represented the companies that own tracks and may understand administrative rules but were never inside the game, horse owners STILL connected to the trainers and racetracks they have to judge, B-level actresses, state veterinarians who still have certain trainers as clients, and so on, we cannot expect better than we are getting. The media, the commissions, and ardent racing fans are accomplishing what PETA could not. We are killing the sport from the inside out, by sensationalizing its faults and allowing amateur regulators to hold the reins of power.

When the next track closes; when the next honest trainer gets suspended; when the next horse dies inexplicably in its stall and nothing is done; when you hear the tolling of the funeral bell, ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.