• Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Apr 13, 2014

    The positive news about this weekend’s cash haul is testament to the potency of the horses-to-watch list (H2W), even with only three winners recorded on a slim menu (many of the lists’ horses are still in queue to race). For the first time in 14 weeks of this season, horses coming in second practically trumped the winners with remarkable across-the-board payoffs, some igniting exactas with the race favorites. Check out the H2W results below and focus on the “Seconds” column.

    We recorded only one low-priced winner in our sets suggested for the Meadowlands’ Pick 3 and Pick 4 on April 11. Miss Machqueen turned out to be a strong favorite in leg two of the Pick 3, which was the opening leg of the Pick 4. She paid $4.60, $3 and $2.40.

    In the Matchmaker at Yonkers on Friday, April 11 we were defeated in one leg by a mare we supported in two divisions of the four legs now on the books. Defending Matchmaker champion Feeling You failed for us twice, once at 15-1 and once at 13-1. She did not look to have returned this season with much verve, so we let her go this week and supported Let’s Go Higher. Feeling You awakened in the second Matchmaker division on April 11 and scored at 15-1, while “Higher” was sixth in the short field at 46-1. Our friend, the late Alan Kirschenbaum, bred the seven-year-old that scored her first finish on the board in five tries.

    Fashion Mystery took the long way around, though with cover, and finished fifth at 26-1 in another leg, while Summertime Lea (6-1) could not repeat from the week before and lost to the first two public choices in division three.

    The “Levy” at Yonkers on April 12 found us sending out two huge longshots. The first, Keystone Velocity, was 44-1. He finished sixth of seven, making no impression. The division went to the Ron Burke entry at five cents to the dollar. We chose to support Versado this week over Sapphire City, who ignited a decent exacta in last week’s second division and did so again this week. Versado was 43-1 and finished fourth but “Sapphire” took second at 19-1 (The Exacta was $39.80 with even-money winner Mach It So. The field had trouble at the start of the race that caused the triple Burke entry—55 cents to the dollar—to be placed in the last three finishing positions. Versado was bothered in that harangue.

    Foiled Again continued to dominate the series with another win, while our choice, Dancin Yankee, finished second at 11-1 (no place or show wagering here), sparking a timid exacta of $5.90.

    TwinSpires switched to Indiana last week with a Hoosier 10-percent Pick-4 Bonus. Every time you cash a winning Pick 4 ticket at Hoosier Park, you receive a bonus equal to 10 percent of the gross winnings, up to $500 per night. We will assist on Twitter occasionally, with suggestions for your tickets. Follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires for choices.

    For complete details:


    The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta).


    Jinni’s Fantasy, $36.20, $10.80, $6.80, Cal Expo
    Spicey Victor, $18.20, $7.60, $3.60, Meadows
    Clementine Dream, $2.40, $2.10, $2.10, Pocono


    Unicorn Hanover, $20.80, $10.80 (Exacta $112.50), Vernon
    Muncie, $13.60, $5.80, Saratoga
    Royal Todd, $10.60, $5 (Exacta $48.20), Freehold
    Western Tower, $8.60, $4 (Exacta ($17.50), Cal Expo
    Alligator Falls, $6.80, $4.40, Hoosier
    Sundowner Bob, $5.50, $3.60, Vernon
    Screen The Call, $4, $2.60, Freehold
    Banker Volo, $3, $2.10, Pocono
    Trys Little Prince, $3, $2.40, Pocono


    Xtra Perfect, $5.20, Miami Valley
    Chepachet, $3.60, Rosecroft
    Jammin Joshua, $3.60, Hoosier
    Stop The Traffic, $2.10, Hoosier

    News And Notes

    More stars have hit the qualifying scene to rev up for the 2014 season. San Pail, Wheeling N Dealin, Charmed Life and Intimidate were among trotters qualifying at Woodbine. Wheeling N Dealin went gate to wire to win by more than 3 lengths in 1:56.2. The disappointing early Hambletonian favorite that did not fire at three as he did at two, is ready to face older. San Pail, the North American horse of the year in 2011, won his second straight qualifier, holding off a determined Charmed Life in 1:55.1.

    Ontario-owned Hes Watching tops the first 2014 Road to the Meadowlands Pace without having faced or beaten any of the frosh stars. This year's road to the “Pace” is quite different than the 2013 edition. One year ago, just 30 horses were nominated with 29 still eligible after the first payment. A large factor in this was the presence of Captaintreacherous. Fifty-nine three-year-olds were nominated to the Pace and the connections of 56 of them made the March payment. Each week leading up to the event, Director of Racing Operations and odds-maker Darin Zoccali will publish a top 10 of Pace contenders, each of which is assigned a spring-book morning line. Hes Watching begins as the top in Zoccali’s rankings  at 4-1.

    Missing in the rankings is Arthur Blue Chip because recently, the Dr. Ian Moore trained colt suffered a stall injury and will miss a “significant part of the year.” Also noticeable by his absence is National Debt. Undefeated in six starts, National Debt’s absence is due to Zoccali’s assessment. Strange to us is that National Debt has not lost a race yet this year, though he beat no significant sophs. We feel Hes Watching is being over evaluated, since he has only displayed a freaky speed talent, having defeated no impressive contenders while racing solely on the New York Sires Stakes circuit.

    We will be closely watching Western Vintage, ranked fourth. He was the super favorite in last year’s Breeders Crown frosh pace who choked in the elimination and did not make the final. Luck Be Withyou, ranked third, won the final. For our money, it is astounding the speed performances of Hes Watching won him the frosh-pace division award last year and takes precedence over the class and probable maturity of “Vintage” and “Luckbe” in forecasts. We will be watching the odds closely of those two, respectively, in Pace preps and other early season soph stakes, because with the surge of popularity for Hes Watching, the chances of a major paradigm shift in actual performances may mean profits on the horizon.

    Dover Downs awards were presented and for the fifth-consecutive meet Corey Callahan was presented the Leading Driver award. Callahan completed the meet with 222 wins, earning $1,995,836 for the horses he drove. It is doubtful he was a flat-bet profit for bettors, though he had his share of overlay winners. Dylan Davis, who had been runner-up the last few season, won the Leading Trainer title. Davis haltered 69 winners during the meet. Nova Artist, for the second time in three seasons, won Horse of the Meet honors. The pacer had 17 starts with seven wins and earned $108,950 in purses.

    Extraordinary Extras

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

    Ray Cotolo contributes to this blog

    Cartoons by Thom Pye

  • Crazy Over Keeneland

    POSTED Apr 11, 2014

    Don’t look now (well, you can if you want to), but there’s some big races coming up at Keeneland this weekend. Located in the heart of Bluegrass Country in Lexington, Kentucky, Keeneland Racecourse is among the most beautiful thoroughbred facilities in the country — perhaps the world.

    So what better place to watch the 2014 debut of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan or the most prolific Kentucky Derby prep in history?

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    On Friday, Morton Fink’s six-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry will take on six rivals in an attempt to win the Maker’s Mile for the second year in a row, while, on Saturday, Bobby’s Kitten heads a full field of 15 entered in the Blue Grass Stakes, a race which has produced a record 23 Kentucky Derby winners.

    Below is a look at each event, along with the Arkansas Derby, another great Derby prep scheduled for Saturday:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Suggested Play(s): 3-WISE DAN is clearly the horse to beat, but his probable price — and the short field — have me hunting for potential value in the show pool. Simply put, I expect “Danny Boy” to generate a (large) negative show pool and I think, given his age and recent workout pattern (I’m not a fan of the three-furlong breeze on April 8), the defending champ may be vulnerable.

    Plus, negative pools give one a shot at a huge payday with very little risk. Hence, I’m looking at show bets on 4-GENTLEMAN'S KITTEN, who has a pace advantage, and 7-KAIGUN, who ran a bang-up race at Gulfstream Park in his latest.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Suggested Play(s): Print out the past performances, buy a dart and fire away.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Suggested Play(s): Primarily, I’m looking to beat 8-BAYERN, who had things all his way last time and makes his stakes debut following a 58-day layoff. 3-TAPITURE and 9-STRONG MANDATE are the logical alternatives, but I’m really intrigued by 2-KNOCK EM FLAT. Not only has the son Flatter shown tremendous improvement in recent weeks, his speed and pace figures are among the best in the field.

    (Click on image to enlarge)
  • More Profit Hunting In Yonkers’ Series

    POSTED Apr 9, 2014
    Here we go again with Yonkers Raceway’s George Morton Levy Memorial and Blue Chip Matchmaker pacing series. It’s round four this weekend. The ‘Levy’ and Matchmaker divisions, as we wrote in our review blog, have been tough to win with the kinds of prices we are used to getting but we have managed to adapt to the uneven flow of prices due to having so many horses coupled. We have managed to squeeze some decent prices out of these fields, especially when place and/or show betting is allowed and even when place isn’t allowed, by hitting exactas with the favorites that pay reasonably.

    So, we go at it again, trying to overcome the adversity presented by the Levy fields and scores of bettors content to cash tickets worth anything. We still feel there are some serious contenders aboard for the series and there is no reason not to zero in on their chances to pay in spades should any win.

    At the Meadowlands again this Friday, we engage in the Pick 3 that is inclusive with the Early Pick 4 and offer contenders for the difficult multi-exotics. Please consider these horses for your combo ticket and for win, place and show (last week we hit two winners that paid off well across-the-board.

    Until Nov. 18, Hoosier Park is the place to play for TwinSpires Pick-4 bonus bets. The bonus feature includes every Pick 4 on every Hoosier program. We will be adding Hoosier to our horses to watch (H2W) list and suggesting horses during the week on Twitter @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires. Click here for details.

    And of course, the horses to watch (H2W), presented exclusively for TwinSpires harness blog, carries on its productive parade of contenders that usually offer a bounty of across-the-board prices and serve as profitable members of exotics.

    Leveling Levys

    Yonkers Raceway presents three divisions of Levy’s fourth-round on Saturday, April 12 and we are excavating for value despite the adversities presented in these four-turn battles.

    In division one the value problem goes deeper than usual, with a field of seven reduced to five betting entities due to Ron Burke having a trio going for him. If you want to go outside of the entry to win and keep it as a key for exotics, use Keystone Velocity. Although he comes from the 7 hole here, last week, in only his fourth race of the season, he made up about 10 lengths to finish fourth at 75-1. It’s an upset depending on any number of situations but worth a shot considering the others outside of the entry.

    Division two also houses a three-pronged Burke team. The best of the rest from last week is our choice last week, Versado. He closed 8 lengths in his trip to finish fourth at 48-1. With eight starts in 2014 he has finished second five times. Again, he is worth backing as an upset and a good second to the Burke brigade in exotics.

    Finally, we face the mighty Foiled Again, the most prolific earner in the sport’s history; something few to none of his supporters at the windows can say assisted in their success. To add insult to injury, Burke’s other contestant is Bettor’s Edge, who is in his best form so far this season. His efforts in this series have even been bettor than those of Foiled Again, considering his moves during the miles. If you intend to key the Burke duo, use Dancin Yankee and Texican N behind them but if neither of those win, don’t expect to need Pinkertons to escort you home after you collect.

    Matchmaker Mares

    Friday, April 11, there are three divisions in the fourth round of the Matchmaker series. Unfortunately, two of the three mares that had impressive trips last week appear in the first division this week and the other is missing. There are three short fields this week.
    In division one the outsider, again, should be Fashion Mystery. We nailed her for second in round two at an astounding 44-1, catching the triple, too (Ramalama, here in post 2) each exotic paying quite well compared to the series’ payoff history thus far. She is in post 5 of six in division one and should be a strong player.

    We loved the way Bettor B Lucky used the final quarter last week in a two-move effort that got her home fourth but she comes along with the other Ron Burke property, Charisma Hanover. That one has had few excuses for losing twice already but as an entry she and “Bettor” may reduce the value element of this race. Fashion Mystery may still offer a decent price to win and for an exacta due to the unknown element here, the first Matchmaker appearance of Monkey On My Wheel.

    ”Monkey” has been very competitive up north, is a wild card in any race and won an overnight here last week. We can only leave her out of the contest here, considering she is up against stronger content than last week and may be the ruin in a speed duel, which favors our choices.

    Division two features one Burke horse, so with no coupled entries we can shoot for a well-deserved upset, if we can beat Anndrovette. Angels Delight will be the second choice and can beat “Ann,” but we want the entity least likely to grab the public’s attention in a rare seven-horse Matchmaker field.

    Our support, therefore, will go to Let’s Go Higher. She was weighed with post 8 last week and began 11 lengths out of it. She finished a mere 4 ¾ lengths behind Yagonnakissmeornot, who won by 2 over Angels Delight. From post 7 “Higher” needs to get a stronger position mid-field early and use her one burst to take advantage of what may be a burning duel.

    Division three brings together six strongly competitive mares. This is a tight event to call and it may go to a low-priced overlay if bettors lean on a single mare. We can hope wagering centers upon Yagonnakissmeornot, who won here last week and the betting will be softer for Somwherovraraibow. But the latter is three for three this week, a buzz mare and her speed badge will impress bettors. With those two on the outside, then, we may have a shot with a decent price from Summertime Lea from post 1. Judge the price for yourself but as a third choice she should be worth support.

    Pickin’ In Jersey 

    The Meadowlands Early Pick 4 (April 11, $30,000 guaranteed pool, 15-percent take), tails off into the Pick 3 with its second leg. Here are some suggested contenders for the multi-race exotics, as well as they are sound across-the-board competitors.

    Early Pick 4 (Races 3 through 6)
    R3—use 7 Special Command
    Pick 3, (Races 4, 5 & 6)
    R4—use 3 Miss Machqueen, 7 Day To Ponder
    R5—use 6 C-O-To Bluegrass, 7 Lindy Mcdreamy
    R6—use 8 Hobe Sound

    H2W Legend

    Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “AE” signals the horse is entered but on the also-eligible list. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


    Cal Expo
    4/11/14, +Jimmi’s Fantasy N R9; +Sleigh Belle R11
    4/12/14, Western Tower R9

    4/12/14, +Screen The Call R9; +Royal Todd R11 

    4/10/14, Alligator Falls R1
    4/12/14, Stop The Traffic R7; Jammin Joshua R11

    4/11/14, +Cult Status R7

    4/11/14, Spicey Victor R13; +JJ Gladiator R14

    Miami Valley
    4/10/14, Xtra Perfect R5

    4/12/14, +Banker Volo R3; Bagel Man R4; +Desperation R8; +Trys Little Prince R8

    4/5/14, +Mystical Muscles R4

    4/12/14, +Chepachet R12

    4/10/14, +Muncie R6
    4/11/14, Sarkozy R12

    4/12/14, +Southwind Missouri R4

    4/12/14, Unicorn Hanover R7; Sundowner Bob R8

    4/11/14, +Mctaylor R7

    Ray Cotolo contributed to each Thursday edition.      
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Apr 6, 2014

    This weekend’s features, once again, did not equal the successes of our overnight choices, mostly due to what has been occurring with the features, that is, the “Levy” at Yonkers. We managed to do well enough, though, considering the circumstance.

    In a rare state of agreement with Harness Racing Update’s Bill Finley, we believe bettors have not had much to target in the series’ with public choices annihilating prices., Five of the nine winners paid $3.10 or less in the first two Levy legs. The hubbub centers on the many entries from the Ron Burke barn and the coupling rule. As Finley writes, you cannot blame Burke or Yonkers, it is the fault of the racing commission for not changing the rule.

    For the fact of the terrible prices, we feel nothing short of famous for our performance at Yonkers on April 5 in the series third leg. We nailed division three with Apprentice Hanover in a race with two coupled entries, The field of seven had only five betting entities, making the price (no place or show betting) sterling for the occasion. Apprentice Hanover paid $7.50.

    As well, in division two, using the race favorite with our second choice, Sapphire City ($6.70, no show betting) created an exacta worth $17.20. You can only imagine how the prices would have swelled had there been no coupling.

    In the Matchmaker at Yonkers on Friday, April 4, we supplied and exacta and two thirds of the trifecta with the favorite atop the tickets. Fashion Mystery (44-1) paid $11 to place (no show betting) resulting in an exacta worth $34.20. Our other choice, Ramalama did not pay off for third but contributed to the trifecta worth $74.50.

    Then, Friday at the Meadowlands we offered a few horses, which you may have added to your Pick 3 and Early Pick 4 tickets and/or played across the board. We gave you the first-leg winner, Upfront Elizabeth ($11.80, $6.40, $2.80) and the fourth-leg winner, Drift Away ($25.20, $11.40, $6.80).

    The 50-cent bonus Pick 4 bonus at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesdays with a 10-percent-bonus on winning the exotic ended with April 5’s combination. Our Twitter suggestions did not produce winners but on the board, two were huge payoffs for place and show. Blow Away was third, paying $12.80 in leg one, while A And G’s Doll paid $25.40 to place and $9.10 to show.

    TwinSpires now switches to Indiana with the Hoosier 10-percent Pick 4 Bonus. Every time you cash a winning Pick 4 ticket at Hoosier Park, you receive a bonus equal to 10 percent of the gross winnings, up to $500 per night. We will assist on Twitter occasionally, with suggestions for your tickets. Follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires for choices.

    For complete details:
    | http://www.twinspires.com/10-pick-4-bonus-every-night-hoosier-park


    The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta).


    Make You Famous, $9.80, $3.80, $3.60 (Exacta $21.20), Pompano
    Silverlode, $9.80, $4.60, $3.20 (Exacta $16.20), Cal Expo
    Lucky Man Again, $4.80, $3.40, $2.20, Cal Expo
    Beach Boy Tiger, $3.50, $2.40, $2.10, Saratoga


    Doctor Gates, $20.40, $6.50, $5.30, Buffalo
    Muncie, $6.50, $2.70, Saratoga
    Trys Little Prince, $5.80, $3, Pocono
    Me Tarzan, $5.20, $3.20, Cal Expo
    Sparky Mark, $3.60, $2.40 (Exacta $9.60), Pocono


    Village Jackson, $8.60, Saratoga
    Milliondollarmarch, $4.30, Saratoga
    Mama Made Me Blue, $2.80, Miami Valley
    Southwind Missouri, $2.80, Scarborough

    News And Notes

    Maven, Uncle Peter, Shebestingin, Archangel, D’Orsay and Rockin Amadeus were among the stars qualifying over the weekend at the Meadowlands. The return to the races for several stakes types is eminent. Archangel prepped after spending 2013 at stud. He now resides in the Burke bar. He won his qualifier racing against the wind. Four-year-old Ma Chere Hall, a success as a choice at this blog last year, was second for trainer Jonas Czernyson, who also sent out Mistery Woman and aged mares Maven and D’Orsay. They finished second and third, respectively, behind Jimmy Takter’s millionaire Uncle Peter. Shebestingin came back for a second trial and won for trainer Joe Holloway. He had another winner with Always B Miki, sired by Joe’s classics winner Always A Virgin.

    April begins a full slate of stakes action at Northfield Park. The $100,000 (guaranteed) Courageous Lady will go to post on Friday, April 25. A nationally open stakes event for North America’s top three year-old filly pacers, it is the first national stakes race of the 2014 season. Among the 16 fillies nominated to the Courageous Lady are last year’s frosh standouts A La Notte Hanover, Fiyonce, Rustys Bliss and Sister Stroll. The connections of top three year-olds in the country have shown great interest in the newly added $500,000 (est.) Carl Milstein Memorial. The race for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers is the richest single standardbred event in Ohio for 2014 and has been slated for Friday, Aug.15. Included in the 42 nominees are Allstar Partner, Boomboom Ballykeel, Luck Be Withyou and Western.

    The $150,000 Cleveland Classic is the final open stakes event this year. North America’s top soph-pacing colts take the stage on Friday, Dec. 12. There are 38 colts nominated to the Cleveland Classic, including last year’s standouts Allstar Partner, Boomboom Ballykeel and Hes Watching. In other racing news at Northfield Park, the $150,000 (g.) Battle Of Lake Erie is set for Saturday, July 19 and has 25 nominees that have combined career earnings in excess of $23 million, including Apprentice Hanover, Bolt The Duer and Foiled Again. “Battle” nominees also include Aracache Hanover, Clear Vision, Heston Blue Chip, Michaels Power and Sweet Lou.

    Northfield Park’s Stakes Calendar for 2014:
    Friday, April 25 - Courageous Lady
    Thursday, July 3 - Ohio Sires Stakes (frosh filly pace and trot) 
    Saturday, July 19 - Battle Of Lake Erie
    Ohio Sires Stakes - (two- and three-year-old colt pace and trot)
    Saturday, July 26 - Summit County Fair Stakes
    Friday, Aug. 15 - Carl Milstein Memorial
    Friday, Sept. 5 - Ohio Sires Stakes (two- and three-year-old filly pace and trot)
    Friday, Dec.12 - Cleveland Classic

    Extraordinary Extras

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog

    Cartoons by Thom Pye

  • Let the ‘Real’ Derby Preps Begin

    POSTED Apr 5, 2014
    According to KentuckyDerby.com, there have been 20 “prep” races for the Kentucky Derby so far this year. That’s 29 events in which points have been awarded to Kentucky Derby hopefuls — points that will ultimately determine who’s in and who’s out of America’s greatest horse race.

    I say nay.

    I say that, in truth, there has been but one Kentucky Derby prep (last weekend’s Florida Derby) run this year — with four more remaining (Blue Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Arkansas Derby) including two this weekend (the SA Derby and Wood).

    No offense to the majestic thoroughbreds that competed in this year’s Sham, LeComte, Smarty Jones or El Camino Real Derby, but those races have produced exactly three Kentucky Derby champions since the death of Andrew Johnson (he was the 17th president, kids) — and not one of them actually won the “prep” in question:

    Giacomo (3rd in 2005 Sham)
    War Emblem (5th in 2002 LeComte)
    Charismatic (2nd in 1999 El Camino Real Derby)

    Meanwhile, Saturday’s Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby have produced a total of 36 Kentucky Derby winners. So let’s take a look at this weekend’s prestigious preps, starting with the Wood Memorial:

    10th Aqueduct (4/5/14)
    1-1/8 miles (dirt)

    1-KID CRUZ
    Recent podcast guest Brian Zipse of Horse Racing Nation loves this horse and I can see why. The son of Lemon Drop Kid comes from the clouds and could get the perfect setup with the likes of Noble Moon, Kristo, Schivarelli, Uncle Sigh and Social Inclusion in this field. What’s more, his speed and pace figures are competitive. In his last start (the Private Terms at Laurel), in which he rallied from 18 lengths back at the first call, Kid Cruz earned a 98 Brisnet speed figure (today’s par is a 104) and a -7 late speed ration (LSR).
    Fair Odds: 12-1

    His subpar speed rating in the Remsen can be excused due to the slug-slow pace in that affair, but there is absolutely no excuse for his subsequent impression of a tortoise in both the Holy Bull and an optional claiming event.
    Fair Odds: 30-1

    This guy appears to be moving in the right direction, but he needs a major performance boost to compete with the likes of these. The 91-day layoff doesn’t inspire confidence either… although the last two workouts — both at a mile — are very interesting indeed.
    Fair Odds: 12-1

    I suspect this son of Tapit was entered solely because the connections expect — or are hoping for — a pace meltdown. Personally, I think Harpoon’s subpar LSRs — a -12 in the Gotham and -10 in the Sam F. Davis — make this hope a forlorn one.
    Fair Odds: 15-1

    His latest LSR (-2) was great… but it was earned in a race that featured an 84 Brisnet speed figure (BSF).
    Fair Odds: 30-1

    After a decent try in the Grade III Sham, this colt proved unratable in the San Felipe and would up getting beat by 13 ½ lengths. The presence of Martin Garcia in the saddle today makes me think the game plan will be to stick much closer to the pace this time.
    Fair Odds: 10-1

    Son of the speedy Montbrook (6.3 AWD of progeny) is bred to be a sprinter, but he’s very intriguing in this spot. Not only does he look like the quickest of the quick, but his last race (granted, it was a lowly optional claiming affair) wasn’t half-bad. Schivarelli earned a 98 BSF while recording a positive pace profile in a dominant win on Feb. 21. Even a repeat of that effort makes him interesting.
    Fair Odds: 8-1

    Love the way this colt has progressed. His speed figures are solid, if not spectacular (he’s earned a 99 BSF in each of his last three races), and his overall LSRs are second only to Effinex (who is much slower). Forget the state-bred nonsense — those races were last year; this year, the son of Noble Causeway has been nothing but money.
    Fair Odds: 2-1

    To paraphrase those commercials, trainer David J. Smith doesn’t win often, but when he does… well, he makes ‘em count. I suspect Effinex is too slow to compete against the likes of these, but the colt did improve greatly in his first start under Smith.
    Fair Odds: 30-1

    He’s game as they come, with solid overall speed and pace figures. Price is key.
    Fair Odds: 6-1

    So, here’s the deal: Yes, this colt is talented, but, as I’ve often said, finding a talented horse is not what betting the races is all about — or even partially about. If you’re seeking the most talented contender in a race, just check out the tote board.

    Social Inclusion is likely to be favored today; on that, most racing fans agree. And that favoritism will be based on one race — a wire-to-wire score in an allowance race featuring an absurdly slow pace (0 early speed ration) over a notoriously speed-favoring track (Gulfstream Park) on March 12.

    Oh, and did I forget? Social Inclusion broke from post 1 that day.

    Today, he starts from the 11-hole, faces several other prominent speedsters and meets Grade I competition for the first time in his career.

    Anybody taking 2-1 on his chances is either crazy or incredibly brave… I’ll make a case for straitjackets.
    Fair Odds: 9-2

    8th Santa Anita Park (4/5/14)
    1-1/8 miles (dirt)

    Son of Bluegrass Cat with the low-percentage connections is still a maiden, although his numbers are OK (not good, just OK).
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    Do you want to know the story about how this colt got his name? Yeah, neither do I. I just know it’s awful. That said, this Doug O’Neil trainee put in a decent run last time while vastly improving his previous numbers on dirt.
    Fair Odds: 15-1

    Great last race (95 BSF, -5 LSR) and no knocks to speak of.
    Fair Odds: 5-2

    4-BIG TIRE          
    Just broke his maiden (in start number six) and will need to improve greatly to even get a sniff against this group.
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    His combination of overall speed and quickness looks formidable. Interestingly, although California Chrome’s sire (Lucky Pulpit) gets 80 percent of his wins in races under a mile, his progeny also show great improvement, from a speed figure standpoint, in routes. Art Sherman trainee is a legitimate favorite.
    Fair Odds: 7-5

    Still like this guy as a Kentucky Derby candidate, but the reality is he will need to improve several lengths to visit the winner’s circle today. Can he do it? Of course. Will he do it? That’s what fair odds are for.
    Fair Odds: 3-1

    Looked short in the San Felipe, but exactly how good is the son of Rock Hard Ten? I guess we’ll find out.
    Fair Odds: 10-1

    Another maiden trying winners, except this guy is from connections familiar to the Triple Crown trail — Donegal Racing. However, that doesn’t make the Peter Miller trainee any faster
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    (Click on image to enlarge)