• Kentucky Oaks morning line

    POSTED Apr 30, 2013
    Initial indignation gave way to curiosity as I tried to figure out who gets ignored if Dreaming of Julia is as low as 2-to-1.

    Based on her Gulfstream Park Oaks performance, it looked as if Dreaming Of Julia could be odds on, but there's just been too much chatter about how talented this group of fillies is, and so many of them have done so little wrong over the past month it's really tough for me to go any lower than 2-to-1 on Dreaming of Julia because Beholder, Close Hatches, Midnight Lucky, and Unlimited Budget will all undoubtedly be in that 5-to-1 range.

    So while 3-to-1 on Dreaming of Julia still feels way too high, I think 2-to-1 is reasonable with the West Coast fillies (Beholder & Midnight Lucky) at 9-to-2 and then other 100-point getters Close Hatches and Unlimited Budget at 6-to-1 each.

    That inflates Flashy Gray, Princess of Sylmar, and Rose To Gold pretty good, but I just think it's far more likely the money comes in on the favorites than these middling types, though each has a wild card variable vis a vis win betting with Flashy Gray's West Point connections, Princess of Sylmar being New York-based on trained by Todd Pletcher, and Rose To Gold having newly minted Hall of Fame jockey Calvin "boo boo" Borel in the irons.

    Silsita, Seaneen Girl, and Pure Fun are absolutely the bottom three when it comes to the wagering, but the Oaks is a big enough race that none will be underbet.

    So here's my stab on what the odds will look in the Kentucky Oaks:

    Dreaming of
  • Bullet Train Pulls Into Derby Station

    One thing about the new Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands points system: the buzz it generated certainly outweighed its practical use.

    With a projected field of 19-20 entrants, there was no need for a mechanism to determine preference among 21-24 entries because all entries will be able to start.

    That's not to say it didn't serve a purpose, though: Handle and interest in Derby Championship Series races (the 85- and 170-point races) was definitely up, and even for an "insider", the points system made it easier to follow the Derby trail. No more worrying about what a fifth-place finish paid in races that had no business being Derby preps (e.g. the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf).

    Hopefully the connections of future Derby hopefuls learned something, too, because I think many got psyched out by the specter of needing a certain number of points (some predicted as many as 50!) to reach the Kentucky Derby starting gate, and any horse with more than 6 points could bump Fear The Kitten from this year's field.

    Following the Florida Derby, champion Shanghai Bobby had earned 24 points, and many thought that wouldn't be near enough to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. His connections decided he would get some time off, but I wonder if they're ruing a missed opportunity now, as Shanghai Bobby easily would have made the field.

    I was right about the number of points (or lack thereof) needed to get in the Derby, including thinking weeks ago that more than 20 might not even enter, but I was wrong about who would have the most points. That is, I didn't think the top points-getters would also be the wagering favorites, but that's definitely the case with 150-point earners Orb and Verrazano, who I see as first and second choice, respectively.

    Going forward, it will be interesting to see which points-related statistics the industry and fans gravitate toward. Certainly they will help define key prep races year to year, but will records for most points by a trainer, jockey, sire, etc. enter the lexicon? What is the reasonable number of maximum points? 190? Will a filly try an open points race next year?

    In this regard, the points system is superior to the graded stakes earnings scheme. History is being made before our eyes; we're just still waiting for the first horse to be excluded on points.

  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Apr 27, 2013

    The Matchmaker and the George Morton Levy finals were the focus of April’s end at Yonkers.   

    The “Levy” offered two events before the final but only the favorites knew their ways to the winners’ circle. The best we did was have EZ Noah for third in the Levy Consolation, won by the favorite Shoobees Place. The big choice, Razzle Dazzle, won the final at even money; Eighteen was off the board in the Levy-eligible as favorite Rockincam won.    

    We nabbed the Matchmaker Consolation with Handsoffmycookie at a generous price of $8.20 but our choice in the final, Ramona Disomma, was fourth at 9-1 (the second choice won).    

    The Ron Burke favorite, Charisma Hanover, won the Courageous Lady at Northfield, taking full advantage of the rail and making the chalk-players happy with a under-whelming $3.40 win mutuel. It figured, all right, but as usual, we went against the grain, looking for value, and Cams Macharena went off at 12-1 to satisfy our wager. She was locked on the outside to three-quarters and tanked, as most do on the half-mile, especially against a top choice with a popular driver (Dave Palone) making it more attractive. The second choice finished second. The exacta paid a paltry $6. Keep an eye open for Cams Macharena, she will show her stuff and perhaps pay a good price, soon.   

    Here are the results of all the wins this past week from the extraordinary H2W list, exclusive to TwinSpires. It was a monster Friday at Buffalo, which produced significant profits. Come back on Thursday for more great contenders.    


    $23.20 Native Roots, Buffalo
    $22.00 MS Heather M, Buffalo
    $14.20 Windsong Ingenius, Buffalo
    $11.60 Artie’s Gift, Northfield
    $9.40 Maddy’s Fantasy, Hoosier
    $8.40 Mousseline Hanover, Cal Expo
    $7.70 Cry For Cash, Buffalo
    $5.80 Blissfull Jessie, Northfield
    $4.40 Foreign Officer, Pocono
    $3.40 Bullwinkle, Hoosier
    $3.40 Our Ella, Vernon
    $2.80 KD Amazin Spirit, Cal Expo 

    H2W Cashing Notes

    At Buffalo, Native Roots and MS Heather M completed a Daily Double worth $354.50. Maddy’s Fantasy saw the public choice finish second for an exacta worth $19.20. If you follow horses for a third time, once they leave the list, you may have had Sun Rei at Northfield, who came back after failing twice on the H2W, won and paid $61.80. Our Ella won with Tiger Would Too second at Vernon for an exacta worth $20.20.   

    The following are the horses that finished second or third along with their post-time odds. Special notes on those finishes follow.    

    ER Sister (7-5), Hoosier; Nightinthebox (18-1), Maywood; Le-Sirenuse (8-5), Maywood; Tiger Would Too (6-1), Vernon   

    Upandover Hanover (18-1), Buffalo; Regil Millionaire (5-2), Hoosier; Mastermaker (9-2), Freehold; Newsam (1-1), Freehold; Best Magic (20-1), Freehold; Erikadikete (4-1), Northfield; Hurricane Hanna (5-1), Northfield; Pair Of Eyes (8-5), Northfield; Dollys Joy (9-5), Lebanon; Avantage (7-2), Pompano; Stettin Hanover (5-1), Vernon; Westridge Warrior (4-1), Fraser; Bell Valley Indian (5-2), Lebanon; Fish Tales (9-1), Vernon   

    All adjustments for returnees to the list and additions will be in the Thursday blog.


    News And Notes

    Captaintreacherous, the most awaited sophomore pacer in years, qualified at the Meadowlands on April 27 in 1:52, going a final quarter of :26.2, breezing. The Somebeachsomewhere colt is the winter-book favorite for just about all of the major glamour-boy pacing stakes this year. The colt that defeated the “Captain” in the Breeders Crown, Rockin Amadeus, qualified that day in 1:51.3.

    Last year’s great but disappointing equine pacing sophomore, Sweet Lou, returns at four this season. He qualified on April 27 in 1:51.3, pacing a final quarter of :25.4. Sweet Lou campaigns for Team Burke again this season.

    Other stakes performers from last season qualified at Pocono last week. Bolt The Duer, Economy Terror, Waiting On A Woman are promising sophomore pacing colts among the winners.

    Tioga Downs is set for opening day of its 2013 race season on Saturday, May 4 (Kentucky Derby day) with a post time of 5 p.m. In Canada, harness racing moves to Mohawk Racetrack on May 23.

    The 2013 Ontario Sires Stakes (ONSS) schedule is now available. The schedule was drafted with the racing information known at this time and participants are advised that the dates and locations are subject to change. Draw dates and times will be added to the schedules and results section of the website in early May when that information has been finalized. To view the schedule, please click here. 

    A late-closing series for trotters racing under saddle features a $25,000 final on Hambletonian day, Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Monte racing, a hybrid of harness and thoroughbred racing is a popular pari-mutuel sport in Europe, especially in France, where trotters and drivers (who ride) compete under saddle races. The series presents two divisions (July 19 and July 26), each worth $10,000, to decide the field in the final.   

    Extraordinary Extras

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

    Every weekend as part of that blog we offer Balmoral Pick-4-and-win picks at the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program page which includes suggested win bets.   

    Connect to Twitter and follow Frank and Ray Cotolo for up-to-the-minute suggestions on wagers at many harness raceways. Then, wager from your TwinSpires accounts.   

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog.


    Cartoons by Thom Pye
  • Know Your Simon’s Historical Investment Technique for the Derby

    Thanks in large part to Ed Fountaine, I broke my Kentucky Derby handicapping maiden in 1984, the year that Swale gave Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. his first — and only — garland of roses.

    So, who is Ed Fountaine, some of you may be asking?

    Well, Fountaine was — and still is, for that matter — a turf writer for the NY Post. And, every year (or so it seemed), he published a system for selecting the Derby winner in American Turf Monthly, a magazine devoted to convincing horseplayers that handicapping can be broken down to a few simple rules and an insufficient workout of past plays. I’m kidding about that latter bit, of course, but there’s no denying that ATM loves its angles and methods.

    Fountaine’s system was a perfect example. It awarded points to Kentucky Derby entrants based on a host of criteria that the veteran scribe deemed to be important — and it was that criteria that pointed me to Swale in 1984.

    Naturally, the older and wiser I got, the more dubious I became of this kind of “race-ial” profiling, especially since Fountaine’s standards seemed to change every year. In ‘84, for example, he allotted 30 points to the winner of the Arkansas Derby; the year before, the victor got squat. Is it merely a coincidence that Sunny’s Halo captured the 109th Run for the Roses after first triumphing in Hot Springs?

    Still, there’s no denying that systems like Fountaine’s are a lot of fun, so, in my 2010 Kentucky Derby Guide, I decided to join the party by producing “Simon’s Historical Investment Technique” for the Kentucky Derby. And, lo and behold, Super Saver proved that my Simon’s Historical Investment Technique doesn’t stink, as he won the Derby just like the method predicted he would.

    Of course, over the past couple of years, the method has lived down to its acronym. However, like General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, I’m convinced this year will be different. I vow to get my Simon’s Historical Investment Technique straight.

    So, without further doo-doo, here are my S. H. I. T. picks for 2013:

    WIN: Revolutionary
    PLACE: Mylute
    SHOW: Normandy Invasion

    History of Simon’s Historical Investment Technique
    (using Brisnet data)

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    2013 Kentucky Derby Guide Now Available

    My 2013 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide is now available at Brisnet.com. For just one easy payment of $10, you’ll receive unique insights and analysis relating to the most exciting two minutes in sports.

    This year’s Guide features an in-depth look at post positions, pedigree analysis by Laura Ross of Horse Racing Nation, “Key Race Ratings” of the top Derby preps and important form factors and characteristics of past Kentucky Derby winners.

    What’s more, the Guide also contains Brisnet past performances — with my pace figures — for every likely (and a few unlikely) contenders.

    Pick up your copy at http://www.brisnet.com/derby today … or tomorrow… or any time before the Derby… whatever works for you.
  • Derby drive time

    POSTED Apr 26, 2013
    One of my favorite big-event traditions is making a music play list for traveling, and my favorite play list to make is the Derby because it's me, the early morning dew, rolling pastures, and 75 minutes of music on Interstate 64 to kick off my week.

    Here is this year's 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands play list.

    1. "Constructive Summer" by The Hold Steady
    2. "High School Never Ends" The Dollyrots covers Bowling For Soup
    3. "Born To Kill" by The Thermals
    4. "Benson Hedges" by fun.
    5. "Because I'm Awesome" Bowling For Soup covers The Dollyrots
    6. "Sixteen Saltines" by Jack White
    7. "Can I Get A..." by Jay Z
    8. "I'm On Everything" by Bad Meets Evil (featuring Mike Epps)
    9. "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (featuring Wanz)
    10. "Club Can't Handle Me" by Flo Rida (featuring David Guetta)
    11. "Sacrilege" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    12. "I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light" by Brand New
    13. "Origin of Love" by Mika
    14. "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" by Meat Loaf
    15. "Nassau Coliseum" by Lifter Puller
    16. "Faster Than the Speed of Night" by Bonnie Tyler
    17. "Where Are All the Scientists Now" by Jukebox the Ghost
    18. "A Matter of Time" by Jukebox the Ghost         
  • Derby prom

    Dana Byerly's "Derby Dating" columns are on hiatus, which is a shame because her approach was a fun way of parsing the contenders. With her blessing, I decided to take a run at the approach by aligning my picks with who I would want to take to prom.

    Itsmyluckyday, will you go to Derby Prom with me?

    Back in college, I wrote a massive research paper on the songs of Jim Steinman. As part of that research I discovered he was a high school classmate of Tony Kornheiser, who at the time was a Washington Post columnist. As luck would have it, he and "Jimmy" had study hall together senior year, so Tony had lots of perspective.

    "Jimmy was the type of guy who knew what it meant to be cool and knew that he wasn't it."

    I related to that idea then and still do now, which is why I know Orb and Verrazano aren't the prom dates for me. The popular crowd puts up with me, maybe lets me have a slice of eggplant Parmesan, but it doesn't want me around when they let their guard down to sing karaoke. Orb and Verrazano would be happy to be on my tickets, but they're saving themselves for someone else's top spots.

    Itsmyluckyday isn't at the top two's level, but he's still capable of cleaning up real nice and turning some heads. When we step out of the limo no one will be asking who we're wearing but maybe by the end of the night people will start paying attention.

    Goldencents is somewhat attractive as a sure thing. You know what you're going to get with him in that I think he's the horse most likely to get his ideal trip. Whether that's good enough remains to be seen, but if he's good enough he'll make it look easier and whomever his date is will have a reason to crow. Your limo could end up in a ditch, though, and you'll be wondering why you let Kevin Krigger drive.

    So hopefully things will go with Itsmyluckyday. I don't want to rush anything after Derby. There will definitely be a courtship even if he wins, but I could see tying the knot in time for the Belmont if things go well at Preakness too.

    I'll have a playlist for our DJ later.
  • Last ‘Levy’ Stand; Courageous Lady Calls Seven

    POSTED Apr 24, 2013

    The George Morton Levy Series Final for stalwart older pacers becomes the focus this Saturday, April 27, with the older mares co-starring in the final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker, both at the events’ home track, Yonkers Raceway.

    After five weeks of divisions that produced less-than-startling results, it is obvious that there are a few top contenders in both series finals that can be their own worst enemies in the contests’ conclusions. Below we analyze the only possible ways to make money on the series’ finales by focusing on the obvious contenders’ problems, which can open the doors for some weaker competition to upset the proverbial pacing applecart.

    There’s also a “Levy” consolation worth $100,000 and a $50,000 Levy-eligible spinoff mile, all of which we will dig into with pleasure.

    The earliest contest with a major purse for soph-filly pacers takes place at Northfield Park this Friday, April 26. Seven dainty femmes get nasty for $84,000 in this tough-as-nails four-turn mile in an attempt to take down the biggest share of the prize and make the harness headlines before any in their division has a chance.

    TwinSpires’ exclusive harness horses to watch (H2W) list goes deeper this season than it has ever gone due to popular demand. This season we have handed readers lists of winning horses that have peaked at $100 for a simple $2 bet, offered from tracks across the continent. This week we add horses from Hoosier and Pompano.

    As well, the TwinSpires’ 10-percent bonuses for winning the Pick 4 at Woodbine on Saturday nights continue. And now, get the same deal with Pick 4s at Hoosier Park throughout the harness meet, and double points plus (click here).

    Check out the details for Woodbine here.

    Check out the Hoosier details here.

    And check into the Hambletonian Trail blog, our exclusive information center where through April you can get acquainted with the eligibles to the classic Hambletonian and “Oaks,” each raring to start in spring stakes battles to get spots in the August 2013 classics. Bookmark the blog and check in often as the season ensues for great betting information on the stakes leading to the first weekend in August. It’s an exclusive series spinning off from this blog, brought to you by TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

    ‘Levy’ Leftovers

    Saturday three Levy-related miles highlight the Yonkers program. The Levy-eligible mile features eight, with one, we feel, that is peaking just at the right time. That is Eighteen. Last week he was full of himself and almost got to the big favorite while ignored at 28-1. This could be his night in the limelight.   

    The six-digit Levy Consolation may be a showcase for Electrofire. We have no way to predict the public’s betting behavior here (last week he was 33-1) but we see Electrofire and EZ Noah in the forefront for prices. “EZ” was our choice for an upset in a chapter of the final leg but had trouble negotiating a second-over trip in the Razzle Dazzle division and finished last after a strong move that sent him too wide to make ground on the short Yonkers stretch. He raced far better than Atochia and Classic Rock Nroll, both which finished in front of him respectively.   

    That Razzle Dazzle-won division was a fine race and could turn out to be a sort of key race, producing winners in the next few weeks. We hope to see one tonight at a price in the consolation.   

    The final, worth a whopping $450,000, is so filled with speed that the best of this lot could find themselves clouded in smoke for the sake of wanting the cherished top spot on the half-mile. Razzle Dazzle gets the wood and the best shot at being best solely on commanding the pace. However, Foiled Again and Something For Doc are not going to sleep early in the mile; they don’t want to dream about losing.   

    The top three posts, featuring Razzle Dazzle, Versado and Annieswesterncard in that order, will launch boldly to secure the lead or at the least a good pocket. By the half there could be dangerous dueling at Foiled Again and “Doc” begin to challenge. The only scenario worth wagering here, we feel, is the one where Dancin Yankee is kept at bay by driver Tim Tetrick and he is raring to go with speed and space just as the others are struggling to stay alive. This would be a fine upset with a fine price.   

    ‘Blue-Chip’ Mares

    The Blue Chip Matchmaker final and a $75,000 consolation are also on the card April 27 at Yonkers. The consolation is a tough call but we like Handsoffmycookie to do what she has almost done in her two if five of her outings this season—win and win firmly against a group where she is apt to be under rated, though it is a very well-matched bunch.  

    The $285,000 final, on the other hand, seems to belong to Ramona Disomma. She is fit and on a roll now and could take control of this mile and win at a decent price. Certainly Camille will get played, as will Rocklamation and Anndrovette but with those two on the outside, the coveted 5 hole where “Ramona” lanches, should add strength to her trip.  

    Brave Babes

    The Courageous Lady field includes seven soph-filly pacers that are searching for their identities at three; not one of them has raced this season more than thrice and they are all bidding on the national stage, having had frosh experience in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ontario and Ohio.

    The Meadows-Mohawk entry, Charisma Hanover, is the morning-line favorite and bound to be a big favorite, especially since driver Dave Palone has taken the short trip west for the filly’s second soph race. Palone must have a commitment on “Charisma,” since the other horse he guided to victory this year, Carols Desire, was not his choice. The hot-reins man Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. gets the ride we assume Palone turned away.   

    Champagne Tonight has the best record and the most class at two. This is her debut at three and the Clair Umholtz filly looks ready after three qualifiers in Cleveland. She may return with a powder keg performance, proving she has potential to be with the division’s best this season.  

    And then there is Cams Macharena, a Mach Three filly that has won four for 10 and has excuses for losing her first two as a sophomore, both at Woodbine. She is bred for speed and in her recent two jaunts in hometown Ontario she did not wither to tough challenges, finishing third both times as a dead-on choice. Here she will not get that kind of respect and yet she is as classy as “Champagne” and more gutsy than Palone or Wrenn’s mounts.   

    Chances are that we may never see this price on “Macharena” again because if she is as good as we assess she will win having no problem with the outside post and drawing the attention of all chalk players the next few times out (which will probably be stakes). Having Tyler Smith aboard is a big plus; he drives far better than the odds of some of his winners, which have stunned more than a few players.

    H2W Legend

    As we publish weekly, here is the H2W legend, Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track to decide how you will use the information.

    The horses names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date theywill 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 that horse 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 (so it might not get into the race). Multi-horses may be listed in the same race.   

    Horses from previous lists that are not racing have a NR after the name on a separate line from dated entries.   

    Wagering on any of the H2W listed horses is based on your own judgment. Your handicapping skills should include decisions to wager to win, place, show or in exotics. If you have any questions about the H2W list, send them to us through the TwinSpires blog channel.    


    4/26/13 Native Roots R1; Jk Abigezunt R1; MS Heather M R2; +Cry For Cash R3; Pacific Prince R3; Windsong Ingenius R5; Fifty Two Finn R8; Upandover Hanover R10; Bailys Magic ae R10
    4/27/13, Pw Tootsie R10; Quick Change Artist R13
    Naked News NR

    Cal Expo
    4/26/13, Mousseline Hanover R7; Loco For Cocoa R9; Ra Ra Steven R12; Eggwhite Inmy Beer R14
    4/27/13, Stiletosilverheels R2; KD Amazin Spirit R3; Amazin Dot R6; +Aj’s Little One R7; +Bullet Tooth Tony R13; Flash’s Camilla R14
    Paul The Powerful NR; Haggin Oaks NR 

    4/26/13, +Westridge Warrior R5
    Red Star Scammer NR; Fast Lane Wealth NR

    4/27/13,  +Mastermaker R3; Fleeting Desire R3; Newsam R4; Magnum Mike R5; Best Magic R10
    Pacey Deucey NR

    4/25/13, Bullwinkle R14
    4/26/13, Regil Millionaire R4; Richerthanrayno ae R4; Holy Chip R5; ER Sister R6; Lordy Gordy R7; Keep On Flirtin R7; Velocity Vespa R10; Maddy’s Fantasy R10; Flashy R11; Shabalabadingdong R13 

    4/26/13, Black Blitz R4; Swimsuit Model R4; Racy Betty R5; Cagney Munster R6; Dollys Joy R8
    4/27/13, +Fort Ord R3; Rain Dance Maggy R5; +Bell Valley Indian R11 

    4/25/13, Rock N Jam R7; +Nightinthebox R8
    4/26/13, Catch The Rapids R2; +Le-sirenus R6; Stryker R10; Pin Stripes R12; Prime Escape ae R12
    Silky Salt Shaker NR

    4/26/13, Towner’s Great Lady R2; Attack Of The Town R2; Some Little Star R4; Pair Of Eyes R4; Blissfull Jessie R6; +Queens Or Better R7; Blue Time Ice Lady R7; Hurricane Hanna R7; Arion R9; Erikadikete R9; +Survivalism R10; Artie’s Gift R12; Just Got Lucky R13

    4/27/13, Automatic Teller R3; +Hurricane Scotty J R5; +Mississippi Hippy R8; +Fool To Cry R9; Foreign Officer R15
    Delco Rocknroll NR

    4/27/13, Avantage R3; Joltin Duel R4; Wingull ae R4; T’s Electric R6; Kennairnmachmagic R9   

    4/26/13, Southwest R7; Delano R10
    4/27/13, Stettin Hanover R5; +Maxnifizent R7; +Our Ella R8 ; Tiger Would Too R8; Worldly Domination R13; Fish Tales R13   

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this edition.