Belmont May 30

It looks like another competitive day. Lots possibilities though.

Race 1      9-2-10-8

Galroyale comes back off a long vacation and drops into a MSW for the 2015 debut. Some concern that she bled through the Lasix last out but she’s back on the turn and at a shorter sprint distance. Unforgettable Mark drops in price after setting most of the fractions. Perhaps the easier field gets him to the wire in front. Kitty’s Pearl ran a good one last out despite a stumbling start. Fits the distance and class. Lirica Heat has a lot of starts but is usually part of the picture. Should be winging up front and can’t be discounted.

Race 2      4-2-6

Eastern Rose dominated a short field last out and seems to be improving. Clothes Fall Off made her 2015 debut an impressive one, running a new top. Like the chances today. Predicate has the best figures but is 9 of 13 in the money but with only one win. Better in the money prospects.

Race 3      1-6-3-10

Tiz Afleet jumped way up in finish time after switching to the turf and small improvement may get him to the winners circle. Kensington Court looked much better second time out and drops out of MSW for this spot. Well bred for the lawn and the distance. Number One missed by inches last out as the favorite and the switch to Castellano may get him over the hump. Lucky Leroy Brown is newly gelded, drops from MSW down to MCL and isn’t too far away from the top ones.

Race 4      6-7-2

Chasintheblues seems to have improved since breaking his maiden. Should be near the lead and has shown courage in the stretch. Boston Strong improved when dropped to a sprint and has a strong kick in the stretch. Pierce’s Prize looks best bred for the turf and the distance and may be an attractive price.

Race 5      8-1-5

Longfor the City just missed last out. He should be the front speed and the claim by DJ has to be in his favor. Frost Jordan has some competetive races against open company and has the best last out figure. Sea Raven raced well at BEL last out and is right behind Frost Jordan with his figure.

Race 6      8-3-5

Soul House drops down to the claiming ranks in search of win number two. Dominates the field on finish times. Prophet’s Cat is a somewhat pathetic 1 for 20, but seems to be a better horse on the turf. Perhaps a stretch but at 15-1 worth thinking about. Keep Me Grounded looks to be the one second off the claim for Servis. He was over his head last out but fits much better in this group.

Race 7      5-1-11-2

Kacy Lauren improved on the turf and it helps to have Chad Brown in your corner. Splendid Gold just missed on the turf first out and returns to that surface for today’s trip. Congress Park has the best figures and the works look like she should be ready off the vacation. Aussie Prayer cuts back in distance and given the speed she’s shown could be a factor here.

Race 8      5-1-3

Global Positioning ran well first time on the BEL strip. Never seems to run a bad one. All Is Number has competitive figures and fits the distance and conditions. New York Chrome goes first time with winners and is improving with each start.

Race 9     7-5-6-1A

Made in Detroit is all the speed in this race and based on that we’ll give him the chance to set an easy pace and run off with the race. World Approval comes out of a Grade 2 race at CD on Derby Day where he was flying late. Divisidero comes out of two Graded races, the last one a win in the aformentioned Grade 2 at CD. Very dangerous. Startup Nation was one of the top two year old turfers last year and we’ll see if Chad Brown brings him back in winning form.

Race 10   6-4-5

Clifton Pleasure drops down after funning decently in his first BEL start. Igotthediscoinme faltered against much better last out but definitely fits with this group. Majestic Guy is looking for the right level, seems to have found it at $16K NW2.

Getting the Story Right

Trainer Karl Broberg is having a fantastic year. 31% winners, 60% in the money. No doubt, the first thing that happens when a trainer achieves numbers like that is to ask, what undetectable elixir has he found?

I don’t know Broberg. He seems to be mostly a Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana guy. But the reaction to his numbers underscores the fact that few horseplayers buy the idea that percentages over 30 occur simply through great horsemanship.

Two great debates that horseplayers have are around the benefits of giving horses cobalt and milkshakes (bicarbonate loading). The research on cobalt seems to point toward the likelihood of it having limited performance enhancing powers, but having great potential for causing serious harm to a horse. The value of milkshakes is also ambiguous. However, both these items are extemely easy to detect, and trainers would either have to be very uninformed or self-destructive to use either as a performance enhancer.

Broberg just had two violations for TCO2 thrown out and in writing the story, the Paulick Report said this:

Both of the alleged violations were dismissed because the method of collection and handling of blood samples was not compatible with the type of equipment being used to measure total carbon dioxide (TCO2, commonly referred to as milkshaking a horse through bicarbonate loading that reduces fatigue-causing lactic acid buildup).

If you’re going to write stories about drug/medication violations, do your homework. An elevated TCO2 level may be due to milkshaking, but it can also be a result of diet (especially one high in alfalfa or soybean products), dehydration, supplements, medications (e.g., certain anti-ulcer medications), electrolytic drinks (pedialyte), or a Lasix bump. It is very easy to determine if the high TCO2 level is potentially related to milkshaking – sodium levels will be very high. If they aren’t, the cause of the elevated TCO2 is one of the other things.

So it is accurate to say that a high TCO2 level may be associated with milkshaking if there are sufficiently high sodium levels accompanying the positive, but it is inaccurate to make a TCO2 level over the standard and milkshaking synonymous. Let’s not convict a trainer of milkshaking by proxy, or lead horseplayers to believe all TCO2 violations are a result of bicarbonate loading.

Horseplayers are cynical enough about the presence of drugs in racing, and every time a trainer gets a positive the sport suffers both with bad publicity and loss of public confidence. But let’s be accurate here. There were 14 TCO2 overages in 2014 according to RCI statistics, and of those, most had nothing to do with milkshaking.

As for Broberg, he does seem to have found the winning formula. I believe it is incumbent upon track officials to reassure the public through investigation that it is good horsemanship or find out what it is if not that. This is an area where horseplayers should be more active. Instead of tracks spending precious resources battling trainers with picogram level therapeutic violations, let’s make an effort to prove or put to rest the rumors and innuendo associated with every trainer (except the mega guys like Baffert, Pletcher or Asmussen) that has an eye-catching winning percentage. If I was Broberg and I knew I was clean, I would demand an investigation to clear me. Tracks do themselves no service when they let such rumors hang there unaddressed.

As for Paulick, a lot a people depend on him for horseracing news. Getting the story right is not just a good idea. It’s an obligation.

Belmont May 29

I like today’s  card. All selections are for a fast track and races on the turf.

Race 1      3-1A-6

The first race is one of the early two year old races. I’m favoring the two Bustin Stones horses trained by Michael Mareina. They both sold for nine times the stud fee and they’ve obviously been working as a tandem. I like their pattern – a fast three furlong work followed by some good four furlong workouts. I wonder about the filly running with the boys, and she may not be as strong as the others. Rajiv Maragh rides the Mareina colt and that looks like a positive. The RuRod entry has to be given some consideration.

Race 2      4-3

Darling Bridezilla has a good turn of speed and is in top form. Ginnny’s Grey drops in half for this run and goes second off the claim for 2015’s hot trainer Danny Gargan. Go Olivia Go is another dropper. She’s been off for five months after running in 42 races in the last two years. The works are nothing special and it’s been quite a while since we could see how she runs off a layoff, but I like the potential of a well-rested horse. My Donna Jean is the last of the class droppers and can be used.

Race 3      3-2-5

Mail goes for Chad Brown and Ken Caramouche, a 43% combo. He has consistent figures and has one good race over the BEL surface. Mylute has a steady diet of stakes races and goes first time for Pletcher. Integrity has a ton of early foot and just a little trouble finishing, but is still the dangerous speed.

Race 4      2-4-5-9

Nic N Jr hasn’t run a bad one in a while and the Lezcano /Cibelli combination is 6 for 13. Ducks Dock is the closer in the field and with a clear run can be dangerous in the stretch. Weekend Express didn’t run horribly first time with winners and with some improvement can make a dent. Cuppa Joe could be the controling pace and may not back up against this group.

Race 5      5-7-9

Cody’s Notes made an uninspired first start in 2015 but improvment can be expected second time out. Crescent Street should have the lead but has looked heartless in the stretch. This group may be an easier puzzle to solve. Fordham Bound drops out of a straight maiden. The works are steady and he is worth a look. If Plundering makes it in, he is a contender.

Race 6      7-8-4

Letsgotovegas crushed her maiden field and with small improvement should defeat this group. Edith dropped last out in search of a win and almost got it. Second time may be the charm. Busted Handle came up with nice figure on the last race on the turf and if she transfers that form to the dirt she’s competitive. Underthemoonlight ran well at this level three back and should be competitive here.

Race 7      8-2-1

Compliance Officer comes off a six month break. Last time he did that he ran fourth in a stakes. This is a decidedly easier field. Has a penchant for BEL. Asset Inflation is three of four on the BEL turf. He’s another coming off a break. Last out he was over his head but is in the right spot today. Dowse’s Beach is always competitive and the works say ready to go.

Race 8      7-3-2

Face the Music improved noticeably with the addition of Lasix and has the best last race figure. Gallery is overlayed at 12-1 ML.  Plenty of early foot and fits the conditions. Competitive in here. Fundamental goes first time with winners for Chad Brown and with a little improvement could have a say in the outcome. Ship Disturber has some good races on the dirt but has decent turf breeding. Worth a look at the odds.

Race 9      6-10-3-5

Polar Axis showed improvement last out on the AQU dirt. 15-1 ML reflects the fact his figures aren’t quite as fast as others in here, but the works are steady and with more improvement no reason this one can’t be a factor at a price. Bold Over ran well first out while failing as the favorite and should be better second time. New York Victory drops out of MSW into a claiming race. He showed a bit of ability and the drop should be in his favor. David Rocks dropped to this level in search of a win last out and ran his best race. Competitive in here.

Belmont May 28

Race 1      1-5-2

Race 2      1/1A-2-3

Race 3      5-1/1A-6

Race 4      2-4-7

Race 5      7-2-4

Race 6      1/1A-7-6

Race 7      13-9-12

Race 8      3-6-10-1A

Race 9      4-6-3-8

Belmont May 25

The web site was down most of the morning so all I’ll be publishing are the selections.

Race 1      5-3-6

Race 2      5-8-1

Race 3      3-4-1

Race 4      5-3-2

Race 5      7-3-2-9

Race 6      5-3-4

Race 7      3-6-2

Race 8      6-9-7

Race 9      10-7-2

Race 10    3-12-9

Taking a Few Days Off

With apologies to all my followers, I’ll be at referee camp for through the weekend and unfortunately won’t be spending any time handicapping. I’ll be back next week with a new blog and selections from BEL. Good luck to everyone and make a bundle.

Belmont May 20

Race 1      3-2-1

Thundering Gale has two wins in three tries at BEL. Chad Brown is great off the layoff and with turf fillies. Little Ariel showed good turf ability last time she was on the grass and gets a top jock in Franco. One Penny Piece ran well at GP and does have a second on the BEL turf.

Race 2      1-3-5

Ghost Swagger has the best last out figure and is bred very well for the distance. Summit Moon was over his head last out but has been competitive at this level. Thomas Knight has four seconds in six starts and looks to break through today.

Race 3      4-5-3

Iknewuweretrouble was claimed last out by Nevin who is 28% first off. Consistent figures lately. White Legend is another who was claimed last out and has been with far better recently. A winner off his best. Bella Fachi does not seem to be a real win type but if she has a favorite track it looks like BEL.

Race 4       1-4-3

The entry of Double the Energy and Lady’s Lunar Luck looks tough here. Double the Energy may be the better of the two. Ave’s Halo drops way down and off his best number is competitive. First Whippoorwill should be one of the pacesetters and may steal this one.

Race 5      6-5-3

Lotsa Noodles is dropping down for this start and has the best last race figure. Ginney’s Grey was taken last out by Danny Gargan who has been unreal with starters this year. Has previous figures that show some talent. Bounty Pink has been with better and is 3 for 3 at BEL.

Race 6      6-4-1

Ack Feisty ran very well first time out for Chad Brown and doesn’t have to improve much to beat this field. Memories of Peter got better when stretched out and has the best last race figure. Apollo Eleven ran his best race when switched to the turf and is competitive in this group.

Race 7      2-4-3

Best Man was taken last out by RuRod and is bumped up a notch in class. Has a win at the distance. In Speight Ofitall has had trouble reaching the winner’s circle, but looks capable in this group. Erik the Red drops down a bit for Linda Rice. Was beating much better in the not too distant past.

Race 8      9-6-1

Barrel of Love has been consistent lately and has figures that dominate this field. Analysis comes off the long layoff for George Weaver who is better than average off the vacation. Figures say he should be in the mix behind the 9. Mark My Way picks an easy spot to make his return. Enjoys the BEL turf.

Race 9      8-2-10

Isthatallthereis jumped up on the turf and is attractive at the ML odds. Fredaq ran well enough to win last out and should improve today. Courageisamajority just missed last out and looks very competitive in here.

Lasix: Fact and Myth

I’m not sure what compromise solves the Lasix issue for horseracing. The pro-Lasix side is mostly horsemen and vets who believe it is a necessary part of allowing a horse to run to the best of his ability. The Water, Hay, Oats Alliance is in the forefront of the effort to ban the use of Lasix, and performance enhancing drugs by appointing an independent anti-doping program run by the U.S.  Anti-Doping Agency. The motives of the WHOA are to

  • solve the problem of widespread drug use in American racing;
  • put the U.S. in step with international standards.

According to the WHOA, doping destroys public confidence in racing, defrauds the betting fan, weakens the genetic pool and, most importantly, puts the life and limb of horses and their jockeys at risk. They also insist that the various jurisdictions cannot police themselves. The are careful not to call out Lasix by name, but considering it is the only allowable raceday medication…..well, you figure it out.

If you search the WHOA website, you might expect that they would be documenting their position with statistics. But you’d be wrong. Instead, theirs is a populist movement, and the lineup of folks on the WHOA team is pretty impressive.  Instead of dull statistics, their argument is, all these people must have a point. For example, John Koenig, Two Rivers Racing Stable, Owner/Farm Owner says

I think we are at a tipping point. The time for arguing “therapeutic” medications and permissible drugs is over. Regardless of our opinions, the public will never believe running horses on drugs is humane. Further, as we all know, it truly is “chemical warfare” at the racetrack. This has created a crazy arms race that no one can win – expensive in both owners dollars and horses health. At the same time, the industry is dying. This is due to many reasons, but a drug-riddled image is certainly among them. We currently use many legal medications in our stable. Real change would effect us and the way we operate, forcing us to possibly retire or rest horses more frequently. I say good. If outfits like ours are forced to change or disappear because they cannot, so be it. I believe it is the only way racing will survive.

I picked this one because it had some of the common “evidence” for why we need to ban medications and drugs.

  • the public will never believe running horses on drugs is humane. Notice the carefully constructed language. It does not say running horses on drugs is inhumane. It says the public doesn’t believe it is humane. Remember last week’s blog, Opinion and Fact? What is the fact? Drugs are not humane or drugs are humane and we just can’t find a way for the public to believe it?
  • As we all know, it is truly chemical warfare at the track. As we all know? Chemical warfare? The language is inflammatory and pejortive, but certainly not instructional. As they say on law dramas, assumes facts not in evidence. But it does fit nicely with the WHOA agenda where we need an independent and universal drug testing agency.

Here’s another good one from Andrew Kessler, Slingshot Solutions LLC, Substance Abuse Expert

As an advocate working in Washington, D.C. on the subject of substance abuse treatment and prevention, I see every day the damage that drugs can do to a life, to a family, and to a business. As a lifelong racing fan, I am witnessing a collision of my professional expertise and one of my greatest passions. While the policy I work on pertains to human health, I have developed an expertise on what damage unregulated drugs can to do a body. Whether we are human or equine, we deserve to live a life that is free from the destruction caused by illegal drugs, or even legal drugs administered in unsafe dosages. Substance abuse does not damage only those who ingest drugs and narcotics. Amongst people, drug use causes severe economic damage, stemming from increased health care costs, lost economic productivity, and a plethora of other problems. The difference between humans and equines in this regard is negligible. Drugging of horses leads not only to bodily damage, but to economic damage as well, in the form of increased medical costs, and shortened careers. Nothing should be more paramount to the Sport of Kings than the safety of its participants. Every other sport- football, hockey, baseball, etc- are taking part in a movement to place participant safety at a level never before seen. Thoroughbred racing must join in this movement.

I’m going to ask a general question. What the hell does most of this have to do with drugs in horseracing? The damage drugs do to a life, a family, and to a business? Try not to forget there is exactly ONE drug allowed on raceday and that’s Lasix. I don’t know – are horses spending all their pocket money on drugs, keeping their families from having an idyllic life? And then he has the audacity to mention football, hockey, baseball, and leaders in limiting drug use. Are you kidding me? Here are some of baseball’s enlightened standards

Drug Initial Test Level (ng/mL)              Confirmation Test Level (ng/mL)

Cocaine Metabolites                           300                                                 150
Opiates/Metabolites                        2000                                               2000
Phencyclicdine (PCP)                             25                                                     25
Cannabinoids                                             50                                                      15

You know what the standards are for these substances in horseracing? Zero. The presence of a stimulant in baseball is considered a positive only if the level exceeds 250 ng/ml. That would be 250,000 picograms/mL. Remember Kellen Gorder was nailed with a 49 picogram positive for meth. I wonder how many baseball, football or basketball players could pass post-race testing after a game?

Here’s another part of the baseball drug policy. If a doctor says a drug is a medical necessity (say testosterone for all you A-Rod fans) it is allowable. Does that policy sound like anything in racing? I’ll give you a clue. Lasix. And let’s not even get into football. Anyone remember Tony Romo getting painkiller injections in his ribs in four straight games? Anyone remember the outcry from fans of the game? Me neither.

Now before you say Romo could consent, but a horse can’t, sure that’s a legitimate point. But that totally understates the issue that comes up in horseracing – that performance enhancing substances are affecting the outcomes of events. Did the fact that Romo was able to play instead of some backup affect the outcome of the event? I’m sure we all have an opinion on that.

I’ve had the WHOA and HANA people take shots at me, saying things like horseracing is more “wholesome” without Lasix, or why do horses need drugs for something they were bred to do? Honestly, if wholesomeness is your best argument, you really aren’t making a positive case. As for breeding, as we’ll see in a moment 300 years of breeding has left the breed with an undeniable defect. They bleed under racing stress. Somehow it is supposed to be a truism that withdrawal of Lasix will be in the best interest of the horse, and although WHOA is a little thin with the details, this really translates as no horse in less than perfect health gets to run. Sort of the Olympic equivalent of asthmatics should stay home. And what this really translates to is there may not be nearly enough horses to run at the hundred or so race tracks operating in North America. Smaller tracks will be driven out of business, and whether WHOA is on board with this, there are organizations that think this can fix one of racings really big problems – too many tracks and too many marginal tracks running marginal racehorses. I didn’t make this up – horsemen who have talked with me all believe this is an agenda.

Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH) refers to the rupturing of blood vessels in the lungs during racing or training. EIPH is measured numerically on a scale from 0 to 4, where 4 represents a horse with blood covering the entire trachea.

Let’s talk Myths and Facts.

Myth: The only bleeders of concern are those that show epistaxis, or discharge of blood from the nostrils.

Fact: Prior to the perfection of the fiberoptic endoscope, the only visible symptom of bleeding was epitaxis. However the endoscope proved that the bleeding starts in the lungs. The great majority of racehorses will show some level of bleeding in their careers. Dr. Ken Hinchcliff, a major force in EIPH research, proved EIPH affects the majority of racehorses, with 50-70% confirmed bleeders. If you scope a horse after three successive strenuous workouts, nearly 100% will show signs of EIPH. And as a horse ages, the potential for bleeding increases. In essence, if a horse races long enough he’ll probably bleed at some point.

Myth: Lasix is a performance enhancing drug and as such should be banned on raceday.

Fact: Horses that suffer bleeding cannot breathe properly and most certainly performance will suffer. In fact, even a grade 2 EIPH is likely to affect performance. If the inferrence is that Lasix is performance enhancing in the same way say amphetamines would be, it doesn’t really make physiological sense. Lasix allows a horse to run to the level of his ability because their breathing is not going to be impaired. If a study shows a horse runs faster on Lasix than without, I believe the scientific explanation is, DUH! Lasix does lead to the elimination of excess fluids, which once again allows the horse to run to the peak of his own ability. Lasix is not like Popeye’s spinach, where gulping a can turned him into a super sailor. It is not a stimulant. The alternative to Lasix is denying food and water for 48 hours. That has the same effect as using a diuretic – weight loss due to the elimination of water weight. If you think some trainers won’t deny food and water if Lasix is banned. you’re dead wrong. And if you think PETA won’t replace WHOA as the voice of cruelty to race horses (HEADLINE: TRAINERS STARVE RACEHORSES), well you don’t know PETA either,

Myth: If Hong Kong, Europe, Japan and Dubai can race without Lasix, so can we.

Fact: I’ve been through the explanation of why we aren’t Hong Kong (860 races a year) or Dubai (23 racing days per year) numerous times. North America runs more races in a month than those jurisdictions run in a year. Some jurisdictions will allow Lasix but only after evidence of epistaxis, which is evidence of serious crisis. Trainers in both Australia and Europe will use Lasix during training regularly. Do I need to repeat that?  Lasix is not banned in Europe for training. If you think European horses don’t bleed, think again. They do, pretty much at the same rate as the breed in general. And lest you think the Euros are above racing on Lasix, plenty of them show up in the U.S. and race on Lasix when they do.

Myth: Racing is underfunded to test for drugs and medications, unlike the Anti-Doping Agency.

Fact: According to RCI’s own statistics, over 324,000 blood and urine tests are done each year on racehorses. Racing jurisdictions spend $35 million a year on testing. The Anti-Doping Agency spends $1.6 million on testing. So the WHOA idea is to pass $35 or so million dollars to an agency completely ill-equiped at the moment to take on something of the maginitude of racehorse testing in 38 jurisdictions. And where does WHOA think all the testing is going on? At a lab far superior some of the high level testing labs (like LSU or UC Davis)? Like most of the WHOA plan, we’ll worry about the details later. RCI statistics show almost 99.6% of the horses test clean. Out of the 324,000 plus tests, 47 revealed a positive for a Class 1 or 2 substance. In 2014 the current heinous drug, cobalt, showed up positive in only six tests. TCO2, the standard for milkshaking, showed positive in 14 cases in 2014, and most of them were not milkshaking but, feed, dehydration or a Lasix bump. The only explanations are that either compliance is high and the testing program is having a discouraging effect on illegal drug use, or horsemen are pulling a fast one on testers. I’ve had people insist the trainers are drugging away, and the reason they are getting away with it is that labs aren’t testing for those substances. As I’ve noted, it’s a small community and it would be hard to keep that secret from the authorities for long. Under any definition of the term “chemical warfare” those statistics are not supportive.

Myth: Lasix masks other medications.

Fact: Rick Sams, who directs HFL Sport Science Inc. in Lexington, KY said, “That concern is largely eliminatied when [Lasix] is administered in a tightly controlled environment, as it is in the United States. It’s impact on past-race testing is not very significant.” In other words, Lasix given four hours before a race at 10cc or less isn’t a masking agent, especially considering the sensitivity of modern tesing equipment.

Myth: Lasix weakens the breed.

Fact: I believe this is in part the epigenetic argument, which I wrote about in this blog  The other part has to do with the average number of starts per horse per year. The argument goes something like, since Lasix has been an approved drug, starts have decreased. This may be a spurious correlation. It could be specifically related to changes in trainer behavior. Not that long ago, trainers raced their horses into condition, and now they put them on the track race ready. Many owners select trainers based on win percentage, and if you are giving your horse two or three races to get in shape, your percentage is not looking good. However, if the presence of Lasix has created a situation where horses are not strong enough to start less, then we should see horses in Europe or Australia averaging more starts per year than the U.S., but it’s not the case. Average number of starts per year per horse in the U.S. is slightly over 6. That compares to 3.77 in Ireland, 4.82 in Germany, 5.01 in France, 5.33 in England, and 5.64 in New Zealand. Only Australia is comparable to the U.S. with 6.14. If absence of Lasix made the breed stronger, wouldn’t this show up in the statistics for places that ban raceday Lasix? The point is that the average number of starts is more likely correlated to trainer behavior and the significant drop in foals born than Lasix. It’s misdirection.

Myth: The public is anti-Lasix.

Fact: A lot of people believe exactly that, although I don’t know how many of them are die-hard horseplayers. But Lasix is not steroids and it is not amphetamines and it is not a Class 1 controlled substance. It is a therapeutic medication given to horses with a condition called EIPH. If it is a performance enhancing drug, it is only in the sense that a horse runs better when it isn’t suffering through pulmonary bleeding. It does not cause a horse to run beyond its natural ability.

I’d like to think that the vast majority of horseplayers see Lasix for what it is, and considering 98% of horses are on it, which horse is gaining an advantage? In my opinion, only the one who would be without a job if it couldn’t have its EIPH controlled. I’d ask some different questions before deciding what to do with Lasix.

  • What impact will it have on the treatment of horses to ban Lasix? Is Lasix actually more humane than the alternatives?
  • Will racing suffer with even smaller fields?
  • Will the number of available race horses decrease to the point where many smaller tracks are run out of business?
  • Is there not room for compromise as I proposed in my blog, To Lasix or Not to Lasix?

Belmont May 17

Race 1      6-5-3

Flag On the Play was claimed last out by Servis and he is 34% with new arrivals. Alysaro should be one of the horses battling up front. Takes a pretty good drop into this MCL off a long layoff, but Englehart is 21% with horses coming back. Island Therapy failed in the slop last time but has the figures to break through for win number 2.

Race 2      3-2-7

Beyond the Green raced well first time with winners. His breeding suggests a preference for the turf, and that may be enough to break him back to the winners circle. J.C.’s Not Brown puts the blinkers and has the best turf numbers in the field. Bullhead Boy goes for the strong Pletcher/Velasquez combination. Has been with better and we’ll see if the turf makes a difference today.

Race 3      3-1-4

10 year old Be Bullish just keeps on going. The sentimental choice. Attractive Ride is another old veteran. A 25% career winner with the figures to give Be Bullish a run.  American Creed drops down to this level and is competitive off his best.

Race 4      2-8-7 

Magical Miss is far better bred for the turf and distance, and she was well enough thought of to be made the favorite last out. Possible proce horse. Summersault is the horse with the fastest turf number and should be feared here. Bebob Raindrop has a decent start over the BEL turf. Come is off an 8 month layoff, puts the shades on, and works say go.

Race 5      3-4-5

Goodtimehadbyall has consistently good figures and fits the class. Have to wonder why he failed first out for Patrick Reynolds, but I’m willing to give a guy having a good 2015 so far a chance. Doc Almon goes first time for DJ and that is always reason to consider a horse. Has won with better recently. Regulus goes for the strong combo of RuRod and Irad. Has had success at BEL.

Race 6       8-6-3

Whale Rock just missed first time out after a troubled start and has the best time of the group. So Noted goes first out for Charlton Baker. I like the workout pattern where he shows a speedy three furlongs early and some good four and five furlong works. At 6-1 ML I like his prospects. True Bet has been close as this level for a while. Now he’s newly gelded and that’s enough to give him a shot here.

Race 7      10-1-2-8

Runaway Posse goes for low provile connections but has been turfing with some success, including a win over the BEL turf. Macagone is coming in as a new gelding and has had competitive efforts on the turf, including a win at Belmont. Looks like all the front speed here. Thurgood makes his season debut for Clement. He looked good last year, has nine more months of development and plenty of room for improvement. Sonnyandpally is looking for three in a row. Has been struggling with NW1X but has competitive turf numbers.

Race 8      4-2-3

My Won Love is better suited at this level. Has the front speed and competitive numbers. Here’s Zealicious was brilliant in 2014 but has been struggling since the claim by Chatterpaul. I’m banking she’s better on the BEL dirt than the AQU inner. Lady Gracenote drops a few notches since the claim by Diane Balsamo. Still, she’s a dangerous competitor.

Race 9      5-11-6

Stormy Sky drops out of MSW into the MCL ranks and her one race on the BEL truf was not that bad. At 6-1 ML I like the possibilities. Your Turn has one of the better turf figures and should be coming at the end. Another interesting longshot for me. Lirica Heat has a lot of starts and generally I don’t favor 10+ start maidens, but perhaps the change of scenery helps.

Belmont May 16

It’s Preakness Day and most of the attention is over at Pimlico, but Belmont has a great betting card.  As for the Preakness, I don’t believe there is any insight to be had. American Pharaoh will go off odds-on, and it is hard to argue he shouldn’t be based on his Derby performance. The only real question is whether Dortmund’s bout of colic was enough to keep him from running his best race. If you can buy that, then the race looks like it is between those two. Firing Line? Is there a reason to believe he will run better and turn the tables on AP? I’m not sure why. The cutback in distance has to benefit AP and in an eight horse field the inside post should be irrelevant. Even if AP doesn’t break on top, he should be able to establish a good tracking positon. The question is, is there a way to bet the race to make money? Perhaps a targeted superfecta is the way to go. I’d play it

Dortmund, AP/Dort, AP/ Firing Line, Divining Rod, Danzig Moon/Firing Line, Divining Rod, Danzig Moon.

I’d gamble a saver on

Dort, AP/Dort, AP/ FL, DR, DM/all

And finally, I’d play the better value super

Dortmund/AP/FL, DR, DM/FL, DR, DM

But I guarantee any bets I make are action only. It’s not a great betting race based on my handicapping.


Race 1      10-6-7

Media Kid has the best combination of speed and finish and makes a drop in price. Favors the BEL surface. Arc Above goes first time for Contessa and should improve in his second start of the year. Holy Invader beat a few of these last out and looks for two in a row.

Race 2      4-5-2

Matuszak makes a precipitous drop in his 2015 debut and if the best Matuszak shows up he’s the main threat. Harpoon takes the fire sale drop for Pletcher and he looks like he could use the relief. Well thought of at one time, but is in a more likely spot today. Kowboy Boots is another that goes into an easier spot today. Competitive off his best fig.

Race 3      6-1-3-5

Gotachancetodance had a strange loss last out when leading comfortably in the stretch. If she can stay on the track the entire trip she’s got a big shot. Lady Anita is making her seventh start but has the best last race number. Arana takes the blinkers off and drops into the MCL ranks looking for a win. The Ghost Bride puts the shades on and could pick up some pieces in the stretch.

Race 4      5-2-3

Jubilant Vision drops into the claiming ranks and last time she was at this level she ran a good one. Familyofroses has had success at BEL and at the distance. Just Got Out puts the blinkers on for new trainer Jeremiah Englehart who is 26% with new stable arrivals.

Race 5      7-3-2-10

Memories of Peter finished last year on an up note and has been working well for the 2015 debut. Brother O’Connell comes out in his 2015 debut for Clement and gets Lasix for this trip. Talledega has done his best running at Belmont and at the 12-1 ML is worth a look. Bugle Blues had a troubled start last out but showed great closing ability. Should have no problem with the distance.

Race 6      4-1

Room for Me gets the nod off the best two last race figures. La Verdad loves the BEL surface and hasn’t run a bad race on a fast track.

Race 7      12-3-9

Kabang has the best last out figure but will have to get a strategic ride from Saez out of the 12. Elmazeed is a first-timer for McLaughlin who is 17% with that move. Strong workouts say ready. Street Moxie is newly gelded and puts the blinkers on. First race at KEE was a good effort and with focus he may be dangerous today.

Race 8      4-2-3-1

Dreaming as Always goes first time with winners and has consistent figures. Should be in good condition and with slight improvement he’s in the photo. Race and Shine has had some trouble at the NW1X level but seemed to jump up some on the turf. Gets a chance here. Detail looked good on the turf first time with winners and with Chad Brown in his corner should be competitive. Moonlit Sonnet is another trying to get past the NW1X but has a

Race 9      8-6-9-5

Cease  has been a useful horse, although lately he hasn’t been able to find the winner’s circle. He is just one of the horses in here that has the figures to win. Matrooh won at first asking off a year and a half layoff and he came back to run competitively at this level. Never discount a Chad Brown trainee. Anchor Down ran very well in his 2015 debut and no doubt Pletcher will have him wound up. Street Lord is 2 for 2 at BEL and can’t be completely eliminated.

Race 10   3-6-8

Sunset Glow is a Grade 1 winner. Has the best numbers and should improve second off the layoff. Lady Shipman has tons of speed, but the concern is being compromised by the equivalent speed of Sunset Glow. Still, she looks like she could be a good one. Isabella Sings would not relax last out; she could pick up the pieces if she runs a more relaxed race.

Race 11   4-5-3

Curious Cal is competitive off his best. Brass Pear puts the blinkers on and should be the one to catch. Round puts the blinkers on for Mott. He likes the BEL surface and his last race was his best. That race puts him right there.

Race 12   11-3-5

Winter Wish has one good turf race and that was over the BEL surface where she was beaten by Distorted Beauty. Her 2015 debut was useful and with some improvement she could take this field to the wire. Little Mary Ellen drops in price for this one and she is tied for the best turf number in the field. Weekend Hottie drops in price and puts the blinkers on for Barclay Tagg. Ran a good one last time and is another with a good enough turf number to win.