Preakness by the Numbers

The 143rd Preakness will take place this Saturday going to post at 6:20 pm ET on NBC. – A field of eight will go to post and Justify was installed the (1-2) morning line favorite. – For some of the very best Triple Crown coverage look no further than The Downey Profile. – “The Commish” puts together some of the very best info to read and if you follow along you’ll find yourself enlightened about the Triple Crown.

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On Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas will attempt to establish new marks in the Preakness and the Triple Crown races as a whole.
Baffert, 65, is of course scheduled to start Kentucky Derby winner Justify. Lukas, 82, plans to saddle Bravazo, sixth in the Derby, and Sporting Chance, fourth in the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard.

If both Lukas’ horses go to the gate, it will be the 13th time Lukas has had two or more starters in a Preakness. Lukas has started a record 41 horses in 27 runnings of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. In addition to his six wins, he also has one second and five third-place finishes.

Baffert made his Preakness debut in 1996 with Cavonnier, who was fourth at Pimlico after losing the Derby by a nose to Grindstone. He’s saddled a total of 18 horses in 16 editions of the Preakness and in addition to his six wins, he has one second and one third. His Preakness earnings are a record $4.4 million.


Overall Preakness Wins

Hall of Fame trainers both, Baffert or Lukas could tie a longstanding record at Pimlico on Saturday. With six Preakness wins each, they are second on the all-time win list, one behind Robert Wyndham Walden.

A denizen of racing in the 19th century and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970, Walden – known best by his middle name – completed his run of seven Preakness winners 130 years ago. He won seven of 13 runnings of the Preakness beginning in 1875 and had a record five-straight wins from 1878 through 1882. All five in the streak were owned by sportsman and magnate George Lorillard.

Walden owned and operated Bowling Brook Farm in Middleburg, Md., not far from Baltimore. He also won the Belmont Stakes four times, and his son, also named Robert, won the 1899 Kentucky Derby with Manuel.


Overall Triple Crown Record

Baffert’s 2 1/2-length victory with Justified in the Kentucky Derby was his 13th Triple Crown victory, putting him in a tie for second with Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, whose training career spanned an incredible seven decades from 1894 to 1963. Fitzsimmons won the Preakness four times and is the only trainer to twice sweep the Triple Crown.

But it is Lukas who holds this record with 14 wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Baffert could tie that mark on Saturday.


Seeking Fifth Derby-Preakness Double

After a rare absence from Baltimore in 2017, Baffert will try to extend a personal streak of completing the Derby-Preakness double for the fifth time.

Baffert has never lost the Preakness with a Kentucky Derby winner. He opened that run with Silver Charm in 1997 and continued with Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002) and American Pharoah (2015). His other Preakness victories came in 2001 with Point Given, who was fifth in the Kentucky Derby, and 2010 with Lookin At Lucky, who finished sixth in the Derby after drawing the rail.

Lukas won with his first Preakness starter, Codex, in 1980, defeating the Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk in a highly controversial race. Many observers felt that jockey Angel Cordero Jr. was far too aggressive in the stretch and carried Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk wide, inhibiting her chances of winning. She finished second by 4 3/4 lengths.

His other winners were Tank’s Prospect (1985); Tabasco Cat (1994); Timber Country (1995); Charismatic (1999); and Oxbow (2013).

Of Lukas’s six Preakness winners, only one, Charismatic, was victorious in the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday, Lukas will try to pull yet another upset while Justify is likely to be the odds-on favorite.


Preakness Selections:

Justify looks to fit and even has the same post position as the Derby. At (1-2) he has to be taken seriously after reading Baffert’s numbers from above.


#7 – Justify (1-2) – This son of Scat Daddy is a perfect 4/4, and won impressively over a sealed-sloppy track at CD. – He is facing 8 runners versus 20 and breaks from the exact post as in the Derby. Being a lightly raced colt may weight in his favor and rider Mike Smith is going to look to keep trainer Bob Baffert’s record of never losing a Preakness with a Derby winner. He’ll break close to the pace and be a major player in the early fractions. There is plenty of early speed, and I look for him to stay a little wide off the rail keeping out of the mud and pouncing on the far turn before they turn for home.


#5 – Good Magic (3-1)- Looks to make his foes disappear in the lane, but he’ll have his work cut out facing the Derby winner two weeks later. This son of Curlin is a perfect 6/6 ITM and done very little wrong since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old. Trainer Chad Brown is known for turning the tables, and if Justify makes any small error from the gate break he’ll be right there to move into action. Rider Jose Ortiz is one of the best tactical jockeys in the country and he does excellent work when he teams up with Chad Brown.


#2 – Lone Sailor (15-1) – This son of Majestic Warrior is a stone cold closer. He’ll relish the off going if the rain continues as he won his 2nd lifetime start in the slop at Saratoga. Irad Ortiz in the saddle and he’ll come rolling late in the lane. Ortiz is one of the best closing riders with a very strong late kick. Look for him at the top of the lane fanning wide under a full head of steam. He was off slow in the Derby and tried to put together a late run but was blocked around the far turn.








The Day the Bookies Cried

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 15, 2018 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

If you wanted to bet a sporting event you had to call your “man.” – You know, the guy who gave you some lame spread on the big game. – You had to bet 11 to win 10 and then fight the line. I guess the fun was worth it, but there may be some good news that may not only expand betting but could help other forms of gaming taking place under the same roof. – Yeah, there’s a lot of bookies out there who will need a box of kleenex today. But not to worry, if this all comes to full light they may even find themselves in line to make a wager on real lines with the rest of us.

According to the;

In a decision that was largely anticipated by the horse racing industry—as well as other gaming experts—the U.S. Supreme Court on May 14 found the federal law that had kept sports gambling in check—largely to Nevada—to be unconstitutional. The decision, as reported by a number of news outlets including NBC News and the New York Times, will open the door to allow states to determine if they want to allow sports gambling. The Times reports Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.

The horse racing industry was largely expecting Monday’s decision and the impact of expanded legal sports gambling has been a topic at industry meetings this year, like the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association convention and the Association of Racing Commissioners International convention.

Experts believe sports wagering could be a good fit for tracks and online advance-deposit wagering outlets, as it’s more complementary to pari-mutuel wagering than slot machines. On the other hand, it’s a similar game to betting horses and typically features a lower takeout than pari-mutuel wagering.

At the National HBPA meeting, tote company executive Michele Fischer said horse racing needs to make sure sports bettors place their wagers on-site at tracks or through ADW outlets.

“Having sports wagering at our tracks and on our ADWs is very important,” said Fischer, the vice president of sales and business development at Sportech Racing and Digital. “If they’re not in your building, they’re somewhere else.”

Think of going to the track where you’ll be surrounded by a huge sports bar. All of the traditional fare and the walls covered with big screen TV’s. – Clerks would be selling you tickets on the games of your choice and you sit and enjoy a few adult beverages watching college and professional games. – The place which has become a ghost town would come back to life. – Horse Racing taking place and for some, the VLT’s or Casino atmosphere makes your old race track an entertainment center. – No more 4-hour flights to Las Vegas as we could have everything we wanted to watch and wager miles from home. – The only loser I can see from this point are the bookies. They’ll be forced to take wagers from punters who bet today and pay next week. The rest of the bettors will be at the track or casino enjoying the electric atmosphere. – I’ve been waiting for a long time for this, and hopefully, tracks will jump in and make this happen.

Racing may benefit greatly from adding hundreds of people coming into the building every day. – Think of college Saturday’s and the all-day action. Racing couldn’t buy this type of advertisement to attract new players. – I’m optimistic and hope for the best. I am a little worried about the bookies. This may be “Black Monday” for those who enjoyed taking wagers on the cuff. – It’s just been announced and there are some that have had plans for million dollar additions to your old track and transform it into Las Vegas-style gaming. – Gaming, gambling, and betting may have just received a shot in the arm to revive and reinvent itself.

Family Fun !

Racetracks do not have the feel of your grandpa’s place anymore. – Where there was once a smoke-filled grandstand has been replaced by a more friendly environment. If you doubt my words, just pack the kiddies in the car and make the trek. You may be surprised.

Kids at the track back in the day was a pain in the butt for other gamblers. They didn’t come to hear kids asking for ice cream or when were we leaving? – These were the days of old. Now when you walk in the track you may see families enjoying the day at the races.  – Why not? There’s nothing to hide except a day of fun and getting up close to the action.

Tracks are having special family fun days. The track I work offers this Sunday-Funday the last Sunday of the month. It has inflatable rides, free ice cream and popcorn, games and face painting, and a petting zoo. Not too bad for a day at the races if you ask me. – The change is to bring people closer to the action and have a little something for everyone to enjoy. – Some may argue this is a ploy to create kids into a growing class of next-generation gamblers. – Not the case. Tracks are showcasing the facility in a new light. It’s not that smoke-filled venue anymore. Matter of fact most if not all tracks have non-smoking areas where the family is free from smelling like a Dutch Master cigar.

I think it’s a great idea and kids naturally fit in well with animals. – How many places can kids walk up to the rail and feed the out-riding ponies peppermints? Not many. – There are some youngsters where this may be their only opportunity to be close and friendly with these majestic animals. They may get to see fast Thoroughbreds whizzing past going 40 mph, or maybe it’s the jockey who hands the kids a pair or two of his racing goggles. Picture opportunities and a day where mom and dad can bring the kids to something they enjoy. What’s wrong with this? – Nothing. Unless you’re not much into having fun.

I have about 20 or so kids stop up to the booth each year and I let them put the headsets on and sit in the big chair. – They get to make an announcement, and when they hear themselves over the sound system their eyes just light up. Even Mom and Dad have had the same feeling believe it or not when I push the button and they come out loud and clear. – Just having fun. That’s what it’s all about. – Tracks are not the place where the whirl of gamblers jet in and out of betting lines and smoke em’ if they got em’. There’s a kinder feel, and if you’re anywhere near Belterra Park the last Sunday of each month make the trek and enjoy the day. – You can even stop up and make an announcement or two. I keep hats and candy upstairs and kids have a little keepsake to remind them of a fun day out with Mom and Dad.

C’mon out and see for yourself. It’s good clean fun and who knows. Maybe the kids will be asking Mom and Dad when they can go back again. – Best of luck from Winning Ponies! 

The Happy Horseplayer

The Kentucky Derby is in the books and your favorite summer ovals will start racing soon. There is something about the change of seasons and the opening of new ovals that really get my blood pumping. There is nothing like the spring and the opening of Keeneland to get my inner-horse player revved up. The babies coming out to race and hope for good things to come. Summer brings top-notch action as runners start to mature and trainers begin the long process of plotting plans for two-year-olds. Fall has the action of Keeneland and California and New York showcasing runners before they begin a hibernation of sorts and bring the horses back for the Derby preps. Winter has me in gear watching Gulfstream and waiting with baited breath for the preps to begin. – I guess the change of seasons works like a watch or a calendar for horse lovers. Each season brings a new chapter and hope springs eternal.


Kentucky Derby


I guess there are some fans who are not happy with Mother Nature following last weekend. The rainiest Derby on record seemed to take away some of the luster of the day for this fan. – But, there is always next year and the spring and summer racing seasons are sure to give us plenty to cheer about. Look at it like this. – Rainy days give us muddy tracks and different types of biases to play. The breeding that enjoys a soft wet track really rises to the top when you see the rain glistening on the surface. I guess we can’t have every day filled with sunshine and sometimes you have to make the best of what is given. – It wasn’t my favorite, but we did see the “Apollo Curse” sink into the history books impressively. We celebrated the 40-year anniversary of Steve Cauthen’s Triple Crown and watched as Mike Smith made 52-years-old look like he was still twenty-five. – Yeah, I guess it wasn’t as bad as I remember last Saturday.


Small track action


I work at Belterra Park and get to watch fans enjoy the races. – It’s not Saratoga or Belmont, Keeneland or Churchill. It won’t be mistaken for Santa Anita or Del Mar. But there is certainly a charm to the small ovals. Some are old and have a deep history of families that have been racing there for decades. Others have a new feel with casinos and racino action to complement horse racing. The horses still run even though it’s not the World Cup or Triple Crown. There’s something about racing on the smaller circuit that has always been enjoyable. – Maybe it was watching a $75,000 stake race on a Saturday, or families gather down by the open air paddock feeding peppermints to the outriding ponies. There wasn’t a $500 cost for a seat or $100 to park in someone’s front yard. It is always free parking and admission, and the smell of hot dogs and popcorn greet you just like the big ovals. – For me, it was when I watched Perry Ouzts notch his 6,900 win the other day. Yep, the little oval has provided acton for most of my life as a fan. – I called down to the jocks room and congratulated Perry and listened intently as he said; “Ed, I’m gonna get 7,000 this summer and I want to do it right here.” – He is the 9th all-time leading rider in history passing Mario Pino and eyeing down Edgar Prado for number eight. – I think he’ll get his wish and what a day it will be. 7,000 is one helluva’ number and to think I watched most of them right here at the little oval.

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Well, another month is in the books and this gambler looks back with gratitude and hope. – I can’t wait for the next race and every day I walk into the track is a new experience. – I’ve never seen a gambler root for a slot machine and whip their side like a rider thundering home. – There’s something about racing that has grabbed my gambler’s soul. Until next month, this is the Happy Horseplayer wishing all your photos be winners.

Enjoy Every Sandwich

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 26, 2018 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | 1 Comment >>


What’s been on your mind? – Is it the Derby just days away? – How about the big score that eludes us until luck hits home. – Have you been thinking about a trip in the sun or a “bucket list” track you’ll be visiting soon? – Not me. I’ve had something rolling around my noggin for some months and Friday can’t come soon enough.

I’ve been on the bench since November. It was right after Breeders’ Cup and I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. – As we get older sickness creeps up on us like a bad dream. – This time down was not the usual and had many questions that would only be answered by doctors, nurses and many trips to the hospital. – Welcome to getting old was my first thought, and then the worry set in.

The two greatest words in the English language are “In Remission.” – Two words and eleven letters can change your whole outlook on the way you look at life. – For me, it was an awakening of sorts. A time to reexamine your life. – Now, I’m not trying to be over dramatic but it changes the way you see things. – You enjoy the small things, there’s no reason to argue or get heated, the things you worried about are replaced with a gentle kinder you. – As Warren Zevon said; “be sure and enjoy every sandwich.”

For me, I counted my time down by months at first, then weeks, and now I’m into hours. – I walked back into the announcer’s booth and was greeted by friendly faces. The kind of people who make you feel good. After chit-chat and cleaning up, the feeling was great to be back. – The days that used to have any kind of stress will be replaced with sheer child-like enjoyment. You can bet your hat I’ll enjoy every race. Even the ones that aren’t my best. – Someone asked me a question when I was in the hospital. ” Who are the best race callers?” – For me the answer was easy. – “There’s the retired Tom Durkin, Larry Collmus, Pete Aiello, Trevor Denman, Michael Wrona and then there’s the rest of us.” – I have some big plans for this year. – Don’t take yourself too seriously, enjoy what you’re doing, get there early, talk to more people on the way in and out, and enjoy every second.

This year I have known more people battling some sort of illness. I guess that’s the signpost of “you’re officially getting older.” – My son told me I don’t get mad about anything anymore; I don’t get miffed if the dog makes a mess and I speak with a softer tone. – He’s right. It’s not that big of a deal and we’ll just take care of things as they come. – When I walk in on opening day, the smile on my face is pure joy. It’s for any and all who have battled something this year. For my friends and new friends who want to get back to living and having that new sense of normalcy. – It’s gonna’ be a great day and I can’t wait. If you want to tune into the happiest guy who gets to do something he loves. Turn in Belterra Park on Friday. – The first post is 1:20 pm. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!






Free Selections – Saturday – 4/21/18

The days are getting warmer and the snow is (HOPEFULLY) gone for the season. – It’s only a matter of days until we’ll be sipping a mint julep watching the best crop in years do battle for the roses. – In the meantime, here are a few appetizers to whet your handicapping whistle.



Race #9 – The  1 1/2 on the turf –  G2 Elkhorn – 5:30 pm ET


#12 – Hayabusa One (9-2) = 2nd off the layoff for the son of Siyouni. – He ships in from California for Peter Miller who wins 19% with his new arrivals. He is 1/1 at Keeneland and retains the services of Victor Espinoza. 3/3 ITM for the year and 5/8 ITM on the green.

#10 – Itsinthepost (5-2) = Jeff Mullins trainee who won the San Luis Rey over Hayabusa One. 1/1 in Lexington winning the 2017 Elkhorn. He is 2nd off the shelf and the barn wins 22% with last race winners. – 3/4 ITM going this far and returning to Kentucky may be a welcomed trip.

#8 – Hunter O’Reilly (10-1) = Turf runner who’s been off for 5 months and comes in for the James Toner barn. 2/2 ITM at Kee and has the hot hand of Florent Geroux in the irons (19%).




Race #8 – The $125,000 Weber City – 1 1/16 – 4:40 pm ET


#4 – Shamrock Rose = Julien Leparoux for Mark Casse and they know their way to the winner’s circle. 3rd off the layoff shipping in from Woodbine. This gal gets a major rider change and look for this PA-bred to jump out and be a pace player.

#7 – Indy Union = Junior Alvarado in the saddle and trainer Jeremiah Englehardt is 1/1 over the course. – She’s been away for 4 months and drops in from graded company. – She cuts back from 1  1/8 – 1 1/16 and drops in class. When you see both of these moves good things are on the horizon.

#8 – Layla Noor – = Fergal Lynch is the reinsman and had a brief freshening the past 4 months. Drops in from graded company in the same race as Indy Union and should be a formidable foe down the lane.




Race #10 – The Federico Tesio – 1 1/8 – 5:40 pm ET


#2 – Still Having Fun = Sheldon Russell in the saddle for Timothy Keefe and they exit the Private Terms stake as a beaten favorite. Stretches out from 1 1/16 – 1 1/8 and should be an up-close factor. He is 4/5 ITM over the course and Russell picks up the mount for the very first time. He is 4/5 ITM lifetime and relishes the course.

#4 – Noble Commander = Julien Leparoux in the driver’s seat and for Mark Casse. This son of Forestry is looking to make it a perfect three-in-a-row. This Florida-bred ships in and the Casse does very well on the move. He should be right on if not calling the shots on the front end.

#1 – Takedown = Luis Quinones for Lacy Gaudet and they exit off a win in an O.C. $50,000 race. – This is an acid test and getting the rail may be a benefit to his running style.





Riders Up !

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 18, 2018 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Sharon Crute - Detail of 1 1/16 #1 - Horse Racing Canvas Giclee


For years we’ve watched with wonder as Jerry Bailey, Gary Stevens, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay, Bill Shoemaker, Jorge Velasquez, Pat Day, Jacinto Vasquez, and Angel Cordero. – There are so many talented riders it would take up ten pages just to scratch the top.- It was the time. Going to the races was an event you started thinking about days prior to pick up the Daily Racing Form a day in advance so you could study and be prepared. – We would watch with wide-eyed wonder as these small men would magically glide on a 1,000 pound Thoroughbred. – There are so many that are etched in our mind, and thinking back to these well-trained athletes bring a smile to our face. -Here are a few that touched my love of the game and made an impression.


Pat Day was a small gent who gently walked through the tunnel at Keeneland. The race had just gone official and if Pat was coming back last he was probably getting his picture taken in the winner’s circle. – He would sign autographs and speak the gentle gospel. He wouldn’t impose but would leave an impression on you. There was something about Pat Day that left you feeling cleaner. He had battled his demons and if you really wanted he would ask you to stop back after the next race and he would briefly continue. There was a gleam in his eyes that left you knowing a little more about the man. He was one of the most impressive riders who used his hands to communicate with his mounts but used his words to bring you closer to God. He was a man who never blinked about his journey and would take a moment and pass this on. To this day, every time I have ever spoken with Pat Day he left me feeling cleaner. A feeling where you would walk a little taller and have a little more bounce in your step.

Jerry Bailey was the original magic money man. Bailey was a very talented rider, but his real secret was he just made fewer mistakes. – If there was a hole for a horse to chase, Bailey would get his mount there at just the right time. He could win more head-to-head races than anyone as he saved just enough in the tank. – Jerry was cocky, confident and talented. The only one who could beat Jerry was Jerry. – Just watching him ride was a pleasure.

Jacinto Vasquez was a rider who looked like he just came off the golf course. Probably did as the stories mounted about he made as much on the links as the professionals. – I first saw him ride at Keeneland after he did a one-year suspension from a 1975 accusation of race fixing. He fought in the courts and came back in 1984. – I was a very young handicapper and was in awe. He was the famed rider who gave up Foolish Pleasure to ride the great Ruffian in the “Great Match Race.” – Vasquez was riding in the Lexington Stakes in 1988 and he was aboard Risen Star facing the impressive Forty Niner. – At the top of the stretch, he glided off of the rail and spun wide into the lane to get up just in the shadow of the wire. At the time I made my biggest wager of $50 to win and he got up by a nostril. – Impressive to say the least and the talented Panamanian would stay in my memory forever.

Gary Stevens was like watching a conductor direct his band. – He started in 1979 in his home state of Idaho. He did every job on the track and the “Bionic Man” for his many joint replacements, just made it look easy. – If you’re a new fan or a handicapper who missed many of his years of riding, you probably remember his role in the 2003 movie Seabiscuit. He played the role of George Wolff and acting looked to be his new calling. – But if you watched this meet at Oaklawn Park you watched with wonder as he guided horses to the wire like he was still 18. – I saw him go down on Storming Home in the Arlington Million and God was watching over this day. I thought he was finished, but the “Bionic Man” made his way back into the saddle.

Angel Cordero was the first Puerto Rican rider to be elected into the Hall of Fame. He won three Kentucky Derbies and two Kentucky Oaks. – His asset was voiding of fear. He was always seen with his bright smile and he rode his mounts like a fearless madman. He would pin riders against the rail, shut off a hole for seconds before a horse could make his way and ride very close to others. He saved ground and was a master with the whip. – Cordero’s craft was not on display on weekly horse racing shows on ESPN as the simulcast explosion had not happened. If you weren’t in a New York OTB or at the track, or lucky enough to be in Las Vegas, you would have missed much of his magic. – I used to watch with eyes glued to the screen as ESPN showed the past weeks big races with host Chris Lincoln. I learned much about the master and how he held court. He was a confident rider who wasn’t afraid to use the stick and jump his horse into a small gap along the rail where only the fearless ventured. – Cordero has taught more riders the skill of the sport and how to use these tactics to their best. – Picture John Velasquez, Jose and Irad Ortiz, and the retired Ramon Dominguez. At some time there must have been plenty of conversations with these new riders as they had the look of the master.

These were the riders I grew up watching and wagering. – They seemed like magicians who plied their trade with a gentle hand and always seemed to be there at the wire when the money was on the line. – There are some riders who still amaze me with their abilities and the new faces in the jock’s room. – Irad Ortiz Jr, Jose Ortiz, Tyler Gafflione, Flavien Prat, Manny Franco, Eric Cancel, Evin Roman, and Asa Espinoza to name a few. – That’s the best part of the game for me is getting to watch the new riders learn their trade from the pros. The game keeps running and the talk in the back row at every OTB or track is the “remember when” type when retired riders and horses held court.



Free Selections – Saturday, 4/14/18 – Winning Ponies

One of the last big weekends before the Derby is coming up on tap and we better start thinking about building that bankroll. – By now you should start whittling down the Derby list and bein the long hard focus on who you should play and why. – Here are some free selections to use as an appetizer and be sure to download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms. They’ll break down the race and show you how it’s going to take shape. – Most data providers just toss out a list of three or four runners 72 hours in advance and cannot change up for new track conditions or scratches. Winning Ponies allows for up-to-second changes and if Mother Nature changes up the weather. Winning Ponies will have you a brand new set of E-Z Win Forms for FREE! – What are ya’ waiting for? It’s almost post time. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!




Race #11 – The G1 Arkansas Derby – 1 1/8 – 7:18 pm ET


#5 – Solomini (2-1) = This son of Curlin is making his second start of 2018 and two back beat McKinzie but was DQ’ed at Los Alamitos. He’s been working lights out and capped off his last move with a bullet for the travel. – This guy has shown nothing but good races ever since running 2nd to Good Magic in the BC for trainer Bob Baffert. Flavien Prat has the call and knows this colt very well as he’s been the only rider in the driver’s seat. They score 20% as a team and Prat is making quite a name for himself as a top-notch reinsman.

#6 – Magnum Moon (8-5) = Lightly raced son of Malibu Moon is 3/3 in 2018. He’s coming without a two-year-old season but he’s been flawless this year. He won the Rebel with authority and a big trip over the track is a plus coming in. Is this a points situation? – In my opinion, Solomini gets the nod as team Baffert is looking to have another bullet in the chamber. This could be the year of the Apollo curse if “Magnum” wins. – He did handle Solomini last out, but do you want him to peak too early going to the Derby?

#9 – Combatant (6-1) = He was a neck behind in the Rebel last out with Ricardo Santanna in the irons for Steve Asmussen. He was coming and had no real excuse. That could have been a “building race” getting him one step closer. He’s as honest as the day is long, and may be coming into his own.






Race  #9 – The G3 Lexington – 1 1/16 – 5:34 pm ET


#7 – Pony Up (6-1) = Nice colt from the stock loaded Pletcher barn. John Velasquez has the call and they cut back in distance from the 1 1/8 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway. The race was on poly track and he looked like a stone cold winner with 70 yards to go. Once they got him off the turf he started showing good signs. He may not make the Derby gate, but he’ll be worth a play down the road. He was rolling and was bested by a neck at the wire. – I think he’ll get the trip on the distance backup and look for this Calumet runner to be in high gear around the turn for the short stretch.

#12 – My Boy Jack (5-2) = Kent D for his brother Keith and they were closing so fast last out in the Louisiana Derby they turned sideways. – This son of Creative Cause was 7 wide at the 5/16th’s and 8 wide at the 1/4 pole. – Kent Desormeaux always does excellent work when riding for family runners winning 36%.

#10 – Zanesville (20-1) = 3rd off the layoff for this son of Tiznow for the Thom Amoss barn. He was forced to steady in the J.R. Steaks at Turfway and was making up good ground down the lane. – James Graham picks up the mount and is starting to come into his own. – Look for him moving late at the 3/8th’s pole keeping out of traffic.








What Da’ You Think?

Saturday was the last big hurrah of marquee races until Derby day. – That’s just fine. It will be here in 28 days. – Was it the Wood with Vino Rosso who caught your eye or the lightly raced Justify who has the racing world talking morning line favorite. Maybe it was the Bluegrass and Good Magic who put the field under his spell on his way to Louisville. The Derby is red hot and the hounds are on their trail.


Wood Memorial

Enticed looked good until the real running began and still he tried to find another gear. When Johnny V called upon Vino Rosso he inhaled the leader only to find he had some more to offer. If you believe any of the racing rags he scored a 98 Beyer figure this race. Not bad, and I think he still had more in the tank. Either way, you need to follow these two off this effort.


The Bluegrass Stakes

It’s been awhile since the Bluegrass has produced a strong contender. – Could this be the year the prep should be taken extra serious? – Good Magic was a standout when they made the turn and the fractions were honest. For this handicapper, it was the winner and everyone else. Good Magic is a real player and scored a 95 Beyer figure off this race.


Santa Anita Derby


Bolt d’ Oro brought his “A” game. – No matter what is written or said he wanted to take the race. – J.J. Castellano went to the whip, dove to the rail and saved every inch of ground down the lane. The efforts were perfect but just not good enough. – Justify was the (4-5) morning line chalk and brought every bit of it. He is facing the “Apollo Curse” where no runner since 1882 has won the Derby without a two-year-old start. – Curses are meant to be broken. – His stride, his gleaming coat and his third-lifetime race in 2018 were ultra impressive. The scribes are chanting morning line favorite for Louisville. He scored an impressive 107 Beyer and may be the only runner without a 2-yr-old season with three triple-digit Beyer numbers to be given this honor. – “Bolt” is very good no doubt.  But Justify brought more heat than he could handle. – I like the race and feel he should be right there when it comes time for the morning line. I’m a little scared for “Bolt.” – Did they use too much gas down the lane? Looked like it to me, but that’s why they run the races and leave the windows open for guys like me.


Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!




Free Selections – Saturday 4/7/19 – Winning Ponies

This will be the last of the “biggie” weekends before the Derby. Hard to believe we are just weeks away and the roses will be in full bloom. Weather may play a factor in some regions of the nation but don’t let that dampen your enthusiasm for the marquee events.  Who knows, it may come up wet, rainy or snowing on Derby day.



Race #10 – G2 Wood Memorial – 1 1/8 – 5:55 pm ET


#8 – Restoring Hope 4-1 = Falvien Prat in the saddle for Bob Baffert and they score 19% as a team. 3rd off the layoff and ships in from GP. Exits an impressive win for this son of Giant’s Causeway. He gets added distance and should relish more moving forward.


#5 – Enticed 6-5 = Robby Alvarado for Kiaran McLaughlin, They bring a son of Medaglia D’ Oro who is 4/5 ITM lifetime. They were ultra-tough winning the G3 Gotham and last year won the G2 Ky JC at CD. He looks to be a solid closer and this race may be a good tune-up to peek just at the right time going into Louisville.


#9 – Vino Rosso 9-2 = John Velasquez in the saddle for Todd Pletcher and they score 36% as a team. This son of Curlin is lightly raced and comes in off a 3-off-the-layoff move. He ships in from Tamps and he’s faced some nice runners in his past.



Race #10 – G2 Bluegrass Stakes – 1 1/8 – 6:23 pm ET


#4 – Kanthanka 10-1 = Julien Leparoux in the irons for Jerry Hollendorfer. 3rd time off and exits the San Felipe where he was bested by Bolt D’ Oro and McKinzie. Two races back he circled the field and came flying home quick to score in the G2 San Vincente. He’s a closer and if the pace is honest he’ll come calling late around the turn.

#5 – Quip 6-1 = Florent Geroux the pilot and looks to improve the G2 Tampa Derby effort. He comes in for Rodolphe Brisset who is a newcomer to the big scene and he could set the pace or lay just off and pounce.

#11 – Good Magic 2-1 = Jose Ortiz for Chad Brown and they score 27% as a team. 2nd start of 2018 and was a beaten chalk last out. He doesn’t have to win as he scored last year in the BC Juvenile, but he’ll want a very solid effort to keep him tuned tight. This son of Curlin will probably want the nuts and bolts all tightened and ready.


Santa Anita

Race #9 – G1 Santa Anita Derby – 1 1/8 – 3:30 pm ET


#6 – Justify 4-5 = Mike “Money Man” Smith for Baffert and they have a very nice colt here. He didn’t run in 2017 but think of it as your “Curse of Apollo” runner. He is 2/2 and has the look of a late bloomer who will only get better. He needs the Derby points so a victory is on his short list.

#3 – Bolt D’ Oro 6-5 = J.J.Castellano for Mick Ruis. This son of Medaglia D’ Oro was put up against McKinzie in a DQ. He has the points and a blowout win is not necessary. A nice effort where he can keep him fit should be the order of the day. If he wins, it’s only that much sweeter but he’s in a great spot. – Just a good effort and keep him out of trouble.

#7 – Core Beliefs 20-1 = Tyler Baze for Peter Eurton. This son of Quality Road should flash good speed as he just broke his maiden last out. – He may be a nice late bloomer down the road.


Be sure to download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms as there is plenty of handicapping to do and only so many hours. Winning Ponies can make easy work getting you and your bankroll ready for the big day. – I can smell the roses in the hothouse and the mint juleps icing down. Start now and make your first winning move by downloading the E-Z Win Forms. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!