Picks For 2 Year Old Stakes Races at Arlington

Posted September 9, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

7 (4:26) 7f Arlington Lassie

1 Royalty Princess (8-1): E 75 (5f turf) Lost ground in stretch when winning maiden wire to wire over turf, bullet work over the polytrack, 31% trainer turf to AW; intriguing at these odds.

2 Princess La Quinta (30-1): P 64 (5f turf) 5th on turf in maiden debut, quick turnaround and switch to AW.

3 Richiesdreamgirl (15-1): E 77 (5f) Extended through stretch when wiring maiden debut over this track two months ago, working well since and trainer Rivelli wins with 27% of runners off a similar layoff.

4 Sister Kan (15-1): S 75 (5.5f) Off board but gained late in debut here, adds blinkers, quick turnaround.

5 Lisa’s Premier (12-1): S 75 (5.5f) Off board and gave way late in debut here, quick turnaround.

6 Que Hansen (10-1): S 66 (5.5f) Far back in dirt debut, switches to AW for Maker barn.

7 Diadura (3-1): S 81 (5f) Closed ground winning maiden debut with field high figure over AW here, two straight bullet works since, BRIS Prime Power selection seems logical winner with added pace expected.

8 Hidenseeksally (30-1): E 75 (5f dirt) Broke maiden last out but took four tries to get there, switches to AW, will see more contested pace this time.

9 Spirituality (7-2): E 81 (6f dirt) Extended through stretch winning maiden debut, fig there competitive for win but came on dirt, enters off bullet work elsewhere and switches to AW with pedigree to suit surface, tough read.

10 Mo’s MVP (20-1): S 71 (5.5f) Well back in debut here but enters off bullet work, quick turnaround.

11 R Naja (8-1): S 76 (5.5f) Closed evenly when 2nd in debut over this track, quick turnaround.

12 Benner Island (5-1): P 74 (5.5f dirt) Came on late to win debut over dirt with slow fig, switches to AW with no works over it and although pedigree suits surface switch, draws widest of all.

Picks:

1) Diadura (3-1)

2) Royalty Princess (8-1)

3) Richiesdreamgirl (15-1)

4) Spirituality (7-2)

8 (4:56) 7f Arlington Futurity

1 Ptolemy (20-1): E 63 (8f turf) 2nd over turf in debut with slow fig at longer distance, 28% trainer turf to AW, average works.

2 Brave Benny (10-1) E 81 (4.5f) Rough trip over dirt last out, but broke maiden here at a much shorter distance before that, only runner with a 5f bullet over the track since last start and he has two of them; live at a price.

3 Romeo O Romeo (6-1) E 81 (5.5f) Rated off pace and extended in stretch to win maiden bow over the Arlington polytrack, working well.

4 Seven Forty Seven (8-1) P 66 (6f dirt) Bad trip when well-beaten in debut over dirt, well bred grandson of Tiznow switches to AW, where he posted two 3f bullets in July over this track.

5 St. Louie Guy (10-1) E 85 (5.5f) Broke maiden last out here in 3rd try, has ascending figs over those efforts, including field high Bris Late Pace last out which should suit given expected pace as well as field high fig beyond 5f on AW, working very well here.

6 Stand And Cheer (12-1) E/P 84 (5.5f) Still a maiden in 4th try, beaten by three of these foes already but has been well supported at the windows previously and is working well.

7 Wellabled (5-2) E 92 (5f) BRIS Prime Power selection and heavy favorite here off his romping, extending 5f maiden debut win over this track; held lead and faded when 2nd on turf last out at 5.5f, was it the surface or the added distance that got him? Shows a 3f bullet work recently and trainer Rivelli is 29% turf to AW, but is far from a sure thing at these odds in a 12 horse field with so much other early speed; defensive use.

8 Birdsnest Party (15-1): P 76 (5.5f) Off board here in debut, beaten by two of these, did make up late ground though and working evenly since.

9 Star Empire (5-1): E/P 82 (6.5f) Undefeated in two career starts, only two time winner in the field was extending in both for 30% AW trainer Wesley Ward, now switches tracks from Keeneland without working here, but has experience advantage as the only entrant to have won on AW beyond 6f and should work out a nice stalking trip behind the speed. Top selection simply has the least question marks and boasts the strongest resume.

10 Oso Ready (10-1): E 87 (5.5f dirt) Won maiden debut over dirt with quick fig but lost ground in stretch, poor trainer dirt to AW record (0 for 15).

11 Maxus (30-1): P 66 (8f turf) Won maiden bow over turf with a slow fig at longer distance, 30% turf to AW trainer has longshot working evenly for cutback try.

12 En Hanse (12-1): P 73 (5.5f turf) 3rd in debut but lost ground late, switches to AW for Maker barn.

Picks:

1) Star Empire 5-1

2) Wellabled 5-2

3) Brave Benny 10-1

4) St. Louie Guy 10-1

Travers Day Pick 6 Analysis

Posted August 26, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

6- PERSONAL ENSIGN, 9f, 1:23

1- I’M A CHATTERBOX (4-1): We are not sure what the oddsmaker is seeing here to make her the fourth choice in this highly competitive five horse field; to our eyes she looms the horse to beat off two straight wins. She gets a cutback from her last, where she won the 10f Delaware Handicap and posted field high and career high speed figures (98 Beyer, 105 BRIS). Her back form shows three wins over today’s foe and morning line favorite Curalina and four over Forever Unbridled from last season. Appears the clear horse to beat here going third off the lay with Flourent Geroux aboard; we will see if that morning line holds for BRIS Prime Power selection (+4.3).

2- CURALINA (9-5): Favored here presumably off her romp in the 8.5f La Troienne three starts back on Derby day (100 Beyer, 103 BRIS), but she lost to two of these foes two back at the same distance in the Ogden Phipps, finishing a disappointing 4th. Still, her Saratoga form (4-2-1-1) looks strong, and her 3rd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff makes her a strong contender at this distance. We prefer the horses that have beaten her head to head at double the odds, however.

3- FOREVER UNBRIDLED (7-2): The feeling with her is that this is a filly that is due after her rough trip in the Ogden Phipps, and she deserves a long look at these odds. She had won three straight before that race, and we like that she has several sharp workouts over the local track leading up to this. She lost four straight to the top choice last year, so it is hard to see how she will turn the tables on that one while the other is in top form, but the price may be right to find out, as she could be overlooked off a tough luck 2nd last out.

4- PAID UP SUBSCRIBER (10-1): Somewhat of an outsider among these but not impossible to make a case for, finishing just 2.25 lengths off the top selection at 10f in her last among Grade 1 company. She cuts back for this and does show a Grade 2 win at this distance two back in the Fleur de Lis. In a short field, we can’t use everyone, but don’t see a lot to dislike either.

5- CAVORTING (2-1): A perfect 3/3 at Saratoga, but one has to wonder if she is in the wrong race today, as she was undefeated at 7f heading into the BC Filly & Mare Sprint last year. She impressed when winning the 8f Ruffian at Belmont two starts back in somewhat of a shocking effort (97 Beyer, 98 BRIS), and got the best of the trip when victorious in the 8.5f Ogden Phipps last out (102 Beyer,103 BRIS). Still, this is a filly seems a one turn type and has never been this distance before and given that, 2-1 seems a bit short.

Picks:

  1. I’m A Chatterbox 4-1
  2. Forever Unbridled 7-2
  3. Curalina 9-5
  4. Cavorting 2-1 

 

7- BALLERINA, 7f, 1:59

 1- BIRDATTHEWIRE (15-1): Looks a cut below the best here, having tried this distance three times this year and hitting the board just once. Does show a Grade 1 win over this distance from last year at Santa Anita but mid-pack runner lands a tough post.

2- BY THE MOON (6-1): Was impressive in winning her last start, which came over this distance and over today’s foe and Breeders’ Cup champion Wavell Avenue (96 Beyer, 97 BRIS). She enters of a layoff of nine weeks and gets Javier Castellano aboard, but looks light on figures and may have caught today’s favorite on an off day last time.

3- PAULASSILVERLINING (4-1): Front-running type stretches out here from her last, where she was nosed at the wire by today’s foe Haveyougoneaway at 6f, but put up impressive figures in defeat (96 Beyer, 105 BRIS). She actually holds the field high Beyer from an optional claiming race back in February (107), but that came at 6f as well, and she may again struggle to carry her speed the extra panel, although she does have a Grade 3 win at this distance over the highly regarded Cavorting; consistent type has been no worse than 2nd in all five starts this year and may not face a lot of pressure up front.

4- SHEER DRAMA (5-1): Accomplished Distaffer knocked off two Breeders’ Cup winners in one race when she surprised three back in the 7f Madison (100 Beyer, 102 BRIS). She must be respected off that effort, but now cuts back from two sub-par 8.5f outings after an eleven week layoff, and we wonder if she isn’t entered in the wrong race today.

5- SARAH SIS (20-1): Inconsistent type has shown speed at times but has been well off the board in all of her four 2016 graded dirt starts, and her only graded win came over synthetic against lesser quality foes. Pass.

6- LINDA LINDA (30-1): Chilean runner goes second off the lay here following a well-beaten 3rd in her first US start over this track and distance. Would need a massive figure improvement to factor.

7- SPELLING AGAIN (12-1): Finally earned a graded win in her last, a career best effort at this distance in the Princess Rooney at Gulfstream (97 Beyer, 102 BRIS). Offers some value off that race, but meets tougher here.

8- WAVELL AVENUE (3-1): Defending Breeders’ Cup champion and morning line favorite appears to have lost a step this year amongst graded company, although she did finally get a win on the board in her last when taking a step down in class (96 Beyer, 101 BRIS). This distance fits her like a glove, but she’s always done her best running with some pace to run into, and we don’t see that today. Likely to be battling for the minor awards and an underlay at the windows.

9- CARINA MIA (7-2): Best career race came at this distance when winning the Eight Belles three back (93 Beyer, 104 BRIS), and cuts back from 9f where she was 2nd in her last to the unbeatable Songbird. Joel Rosario jumps off Morning Line Favorite and Breeders’ Cup winner Wavell Avenue to ride her here, which is a large statement to make, and makes her worthy of consideration as a single as she starts against elders for the first time. Rosario should work out a great stalking trip just behind the limited speed here.

10-HAVEYOUGONEAWAY (10-1): Five year old mare looms an intriguing prospect as she stretches out an extra furlong here following her win in the Honorable Miss, closing forcefully after a trip just off the pace and earning a field best BRIS Last Race figure (105). One could logically conclude she will benefit from the added ground here, and as she doesn’t come from the clouds should be able to stay in touch with the leaders throughout what would appear to be a moderate to slow pace up front; could be the biggest threat to the top selection, and at a price.

Picks:

  1. Carina Mia 7-2
  2. Haveyougoneaway 10-1
  3. Paulassilverlining 4-1
  4. Sheer Drama 5-1

 

8- KINGS’ BISHOP, 7f, 2:35

1- ECONOMIC MODEL (6-1): Chad Brown runner cuts back to a shorter distance and while he could get a decent setup to close into from the rail, there are other closers who pack a bit more punch, and considering he gets blinkers here (why?), may be closer to the pace anyway. It is difficult to elevate him over the top selection having just lost to him by over a length in his last, although he does receive an exchange of 6 pounds from that race. His best effort to date came at 8.5f (101 Beyer, 101 BRIS) but it is worth wondering whether this cutback is too severe, and this post isn’t ideal with so much speed drawn outside. It is worth mention that for all his success, Brown does not have a graded stakes winner at Saratoga in 28 tries.

2- FISH TRAPPE ROAD (8-1): Cuts back in distance off his 8f Dwyer win (97 Beyer, 98 BRIS) and has been working sharply during his seven week layoff since then, posting two best of 75 works at 4f over this track on 8/12 and 8/19. Looks primed to move forward for a career best effort from an advantageous post and appears the speed to stick around longest based on his BRIS Late Pace figures. May have been best in the 7f Woody Stephens two back, when hanging on for 2nd while running just off a wicked hot pace (:21.3/ :44.2). The pick.

3- SUMMER REVOLUTION (6-1): Enters lightly raced off of just two career starts, both wins at 7f, the most recent over this dirt track. Shows field high speed figures at the distance (105 Beyer, 104 BRIS) and gets a jockey switch to Javier Castellano. Takes a class leap here, but dangerous as the fastest colt in the race and without any real distance questions. A bounce candidate, but still a must use on top.

4- TALE OF S’AVALL (30-1): Finished 3rd to the top selection in his last and now cuts back a furlong. The last time he ran at this distance, he finished 6th beaten by several of these, so he would need to improve quite a bit to hit the board here.

5- BIRD SONG (30-1): Has shown four consecutive ascending speed figures but takes a big class leap coming off a maiden win and an allowance win in his last two, both at 6f. His workout patterns don’t suggest that he will be competitive in this bunch.

6- MOHAYMEN (5-1):  A big question mark at this distance. The feeling here is that this is a colt who simply can’t find the right race. Winless since February at 8.5f, he really is better suited to races longer than this one but wouldn’t have found a good spot in the Travers either, although isn’t changing course after a respectable 4th at the distance in the Kentucky Derby akin to waving a white flag? He doesn’t appear to have the pure speed of the top contenders here, although did he post a bullet move over the Saratoga track, the fastest of 75 at the 4f distance, which is worth consideration. There are prices in here we like better relative to their chances, however, and as we have played against him all year, will continue to do so until he proves us wrong.

7- STAR HILL (20-1): Broke his maiden at this distance but hasn’t won since then. This is probably his ideal spot as he is well-suited to one turn races and cuts back from 8.5f, but picks a tough group here as he doesn’t stack up with the best of these on figures. He did turn in a solid effort when 3rd in the Woody Stephens two back at this distance in a similar cutback spot (97 BRIS, 91 Beyer) behind two colts we like here, but he can’t be elevated above them. He does get blinkers which should help him stay in contact with the field, but we wonder if that takes him out of his game a bit, as he would need to improve to hit the board anyway and seems best making one run late.

8- MIND YOUR BISCUITS (15-1): Closing type has won two straight at shorter distances, including the Grade 2 Amsterdam at 6.5f (94 Beyer, 94 BRIS). He should benefit from the added distance, but there are other closers in here that show higher Average BRIS Late Pace numbers.

9- JAZZY TIMES (8-1): The lesser regarded Baffert entry stretches out to 7f for the first time off an impressive win in optional claiming company in his last at 6.5f (101 Beyer, 102 Beyer). Speedy runner goes blinkers off here and meets graded company for the first time; looking elsewhere as a pace duel seems imminent.

10- RATED R SUPERSTAR (20-1): Has benefited from a change in tactics in winning his last two races from off the pace, and that style should suit well here. He won at this distance last out in the Grade 3 Carry Back (97 Beyer, 103 BRIS), posting a field high BRIS Late Pace Figure (110). Recent works have left something to be desired off the eight week layoff but at these odds he is certainly worth including in case the race falls apart up front, as he would be a logical candidate to pick up the pieces.

11- NOHOLDINGBACKBEAR (10-1): Need-the-lead type has put up eye-catching speed figures on synthetic at Woodbine at shorter distances (101 Beyer, 105 BRIS) but has not duplicated that form on dirt. Combined with the pace duel that is likely to unfold, he seems a rather obvious play against.

12- TOM’S READY (12-1): Starts off a field high eleven week layoff but turned in a career best race in his last, closing into a manic pace to defeat the top selection at this distance in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens (95 Beyer, 100 BRIS). Has been working forwardly enough to be right there at the end again and should see plenty of pace to close into with his field high BRIS Average Late Pace figure (108), but freshness and back form remain questions.

13- DREFONG (4-1): Speedster from the Baffert barn takes a class leap off a 6.5f win in optional claiming company out west (103 Beyer, 103 BRIS). The speed figures are competitive, but he will be involved in the early pace from the widest post of all and although he has shown extension in his wins, has never run beyond 6.5f. Baffert hasn’t won in graded company at Saratoga in a while (four years) and without any works over the local track, we wonder whether Del Mar shipper will take to the deeper dirt here.

Picks:

  1. Fish Trappe Road 8-1
  2. Summer Revolution 6-1
  3. Tom’s Ready 12-1
  4. Rated R Superstar 20-1

 

9- FOREGO- 7f, 3:12

1- CATALINA RED (8-1): Competitive at a price here from the rail stretching back out to his ideal distance where he is 3/3 lifetime after two straight 6f races. Figures to drop back, save ground and make a late move into a pace that should be lively so the post isn’t a huge concern; stacks up well on figures (105 Beyer, 105 BRIS). The price is right for a horse that has yet to lose at 7f, and since the favorite boasts the same accolade, something will have to give.

2-CHIEF LION (10-1): Speed type has on the board finishes in his last two races at shorter (6f), finishing behind two different foes here, Stallwalkin’ Duke and Limousine Liberal. He’s done his better running at shorter distances but does stack up on figures, holding a field high BRIS Speed Figure (106). That came at 6f of course, and given the likely pace scenario here, asking him to stretch out beyond that is asking a lot.

3- LIMOUSINE LIBERAL (15-1): Second in this race to the world-beater Runhappy a year ago, he is a speed type that seems to have a lot of bettors on his bandwagon off that single effort, a mentality that has never resonated with us. He’s still not won beyond the 6.5f distance and was no match for the second choice at this distance the last time he attempted it. He does get a good post and a jockey switch to Javier Castellano here.

4- THE TRUTH OR ELSE (30-1): Finished well behind two of today’s foes in his last, and neither will be in our plays. Two back, he did post a career high BRIS Speed Figure (102) at 6f, but that came over a muddy track, which he is unlikely to see today. Pass.

5- ANCHOR DOWN (10-1): Toss his last, where he was bumped at the break and taken completely out of his game, which is to go straight to the lead. Still, his best effort when winning the Grade 3 Westchester (105 Beyer, 107 BRIS) came at a longer distance and over a sloppy track. This distance looks a bit more to his liking, but it is hard to overlook that his only win in his last 10 starts came over the off-going.

6- TAMARKUZ (15-1): Off the board in all four starts since returning from Dubai, where he had actually won four straight races. That dates back to July of last year, and he only has one 2016 start, beaten 26 lengths in the Met Mile. Hard to support off that effort.

7- SCHIVARELLI (20-1): Enters off a win at this distance in optional claiming company (98 BRIS) but takes a decisive step up in class here; speed figures are a cut below the best and do not appear to be ascending.

8- STALLWALKIN’ DUDE (8-1): Looking over his last five starts, he has won two of them, and the other three were all on muddy tracks, so he should see a surface to his liking here. Six-year old gelding turned in a career best effort in his last when winning a 6f stakes over a fast track and extending through the stretch (103 BRIS). He does have some back form with a win at this distance from last December, but has generally been more of a 6f runner. Seems logical underneath in exotics but hard to endorse on top.

9- READY FOR RYE (10-1): Colt has been switched back and forth so often between surfaces that he seems to have lost the edge he had as a three-year-old, when he was ferocious as pure speed. These days, he has taken to laying further back off the pace, possibly due to sheer confusion, which plays against his greatest asset. He turned in a respectable 3rd, beaten 4.25 lengths by the top selection in his last, but poor management of his talent has rendered him a confused horse that we won’t support in this spot despite his undeniable talent.

10- DANNIE’S DECEIVER (30-1): Has raced well enough in his last three against optional claimers, averaging a BRIS Speed Figure of 100 and delivering two places and one win over that span. In deeper here, though.

11- A.P. INDIAN (5-2): Undefeated on the year and at this distance over his career, having defeated four of these foes in his last two races. Was gritty in winning an scintillating stretch duel last out against today’s foe Marking, and also showed ability to rate in that effort, which could be beneficial as he draws wide here. Shows the highest speed figures in the field (107 Beyer, 106 BRIS) and tops the east coast sprinting division by a mile coming into this; will take a lot of beating.

12- MARKING (3-1): Was just a head from beating the top selection at this distance at Belmont in his last (102 Beyer, 101 BRIS), so he merits inclusion logically off that effort in his third start since shipping back from Dubai, especially receiving six pounds from that one and losing by just a head. We are willing to overlook his Met Mile, where he finished a distant 4th while playing rabbit for Frosted, who turned in arguably the performance of the year that day.

Picks:

  1. A.P. Indian 5-2
  2. Catalina Red 8-1
  3. Marking 3-1
  4. Anchor Down 10-1

 

10- SWORD DANCER, 12f, 3:49

6- FLINTSHIRE (1-5): Simply towers over this field, and there is no need to waste time discussing the other six runners, as there are no attractive outright wagers here. Nearly all Pick 6 and Pick 4 wagers will have him singled, and if he somehow loses the payoff will be astronomical, but there are no angles to play here aside from him falling down. This essentially turns both pools into Pick 5 and Pick 3 wagers, but there are enough prices on the board to be content to take the free square here.

 

11- TRAVERS, 10f, 4:44

1- ARROGATE (10-1): Baffert runner ships east and takes a big class leap here off optional claiming win where he put up a big figure two starts back in a wire to wire win (103 Beyer, 100 BRIS). Baffert hasn’t won a Grade I race at Saratoga in a long while and this is not the spot to side with that trend being broken with the combination of his post and running style on the stretchout.

2- AMERICAN FREEDOM (6-1): Goes blinkers off here, which is somewhat puzzling given that his best races have come near the lead, but perhaps Baffert wants to conserve energy as he stretches out to 10f. For all the talk about Exaggerator being a slop specialist, it bears mention that his best races have also come on muddy tracks, which he won’t get here, and he’s also yet to win beyond 8.5f. While he ran a solid 2nd in the 9f Haskell, it is concerning that he led through the stretch and then faded; is this really a colt that wants a furlong longer here? He stacks up on figures for his win in the 8.5f Iowa Derby, where he showed extension, (96 Beyer, 103 BRIS) but meets tougher in this spot.

3- MY MAN SAM (20-1): Was a longshot play of ours in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished a middling 11th in his fifth career race. He came back to disappoint after a layoff in a 9f allowance, and doesn’t stack up on figures here. He will be one that will be coming from the clouds in a race that should set up with plenty of pace, but it is hard to be too inspired to support him any further than the bottom of exotics.

4- GOVERNOR MALIBU (12-1): There seems to be a great deal of wise guy support for this Christophe Clement trainee, who comes off a 4th place finish in the 12f Belmont Stakes (94 Beyer, 100 BRIS) and a 2nd place finish last out in the 9f Jim Dandy (99 Beyer, 99 BRIS), where he turned the tables on today’s foe Destin and was at a disadvantage due to sitting back off a crawling pace. Joel Rosario retains the mount and figures to place him in the second flight of horses, but he is still unplaced beyond 9f and his speed figures look middling in this group. Still, the feeling here is that this is a colt that has been pointing to this race and may have the most room for improvement of the price horses; useable on top, but needs a step forward figure-wise.

5- FOREVER D’ORO (30-1): Easily beaten by four of today’s foes and difficult to support unless the race completely falls apart, as he is one who will drop far back early and make one late run. Bombs away for the bottom of your superfecta, but not ours.

6- ANAXIMANDROS (50-1): Closed well to get 4th in a pretty weak West Virginia Derby last out, and looks way in over his head in terms of figures. Pass.

7- EXAGGERATOR (3-1): Perhaps we missed something, but the Kentucky Derby was run at 10f on a dry track, correct? Well, this race will be run under identical conditions and should play out into a similar pace scenario, and this son of Curlin closed well for 2nd that day, and still owns the fastest speed figures at the distance in the field (101 Beyer, 103 BRIS). Experts will be jumping off of the classiest, most accomplished colt in the field on a dry track, and we expect to get better than 3-1 on him in this spot, and for him make it two in a row for sons of Curlin in this race regardless of track condition.

8-DESTIN (10-1): Todd Pletcher trainee enters off a somewhat flat effort when 3rd last out in the 9f Jim Dandy (99 Beyer, 99 BRIS). His running style should allow him to work out a somewhat ideal trip behind the speed from the middle of the field, but the feeling here is that he simply hasn’t shown that much improvement since the winter compared to some of these and may have leveled off. He did turn in a respectable effort when 6th in the Kentucky Derby (93 Beyer, 97 BRIS), so does technically own the third best speed figure at the distance, but it is difficult to elevate him above the two foes that defeated him last out and seem to be improving more rapidly, especially as he ran closer to the slow pace that day and therefore had less of an excuse to not overcome it.

9- GIFT BOX (12-1): Turned in a decent effort when beaten a length as favorite in the 9f Curlin Stakes last out (99 Beyer, 96 BRIS). He takes a step up in class here, and pedigree wise, looks more like a 9f horse than a 10f one; looking elsewhere.

10- CONNECT (4-1): Son of Curlin won his sire’s namesake 9f race in his last, showing a half length extension from the field through the stretch (101 Beyer, 97 BRIS). On paper, it wouldn’t appear that 10f would be a stretch for him, being out of a Holy Bull mare. However, he does take a step up in class here as he attempts to run longer than he ever has before, and it’s worrisome that he appears likely to get locked up early in a speed duel. He has potential, but as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line, is not for us against more experienced runners.

11- MAJESTO (30-1): Adds blinkers today to re-focus after finishing off the board and beaten a combined 46 lengths in his last two races by nearly half of this field. Would require a great leap of faith; not usable.

12- CREATOR (15-1): Turned in a horrendous performance in his last, where he didn’t run a lick when finishing 6th in the 9f Jim Dandy. He closed like a freight train to win the 12f Belmont before that though, and didn’t really get any pace to run into in his last; he should here. Looking over his form line, he appears to alternate between really bad races and really good ones, and would be in line for the latter in this spot. In any case, we expect an improved effort as the added distance should only help for the strongest closer in the field.

13- LAOBAN (15-1): Front-running type turned in a career best effort in his last when wiring the 9f Jim Dandy and posting field high last out speed figures (101 Beyer, 101 BRIS). He got a perfect setup that day as he was allowed to lop along on the lead through easy fractions (:49.0) and we don’t anticipate a similar scenario here, especially as he will be forced to clear the entire field to make the lead from his wide post. He did post a bullet 5f work leading up to this, the fastest of 32 workers that day, but it is difficult to see him carrying his speed the extra furlong in this spot.

14- GUN RUNNER (10-1): The bronze medalist in the Kentucky Derby turned in a sub-par effort in his last when 5th over a sloppy track in the Haskell. We’ll draw a line through that race, as his only two career off the board finishes have come on sloppy tracks. The wide post does him no favors, but he has proved rateable and professional in the past, and still does have the second fastest speed figures at this distance off his Derby effort (96 Beyer, 99 BRIS), where he was the only runner near that blazing pace besides the winner to stick around for awards. The distance is probably a touch beyond his best but he should be able to put himself in position to make an impact late; we’ll go with the same three on top that we did on the first Saturday in May, and in the same order.

 

PICKS:

  1. Exaggerator 3-1
  2. Gun Runner 10-1
  3. Creator 15-1
  4. Governor Malibu 12-1

 

MULTI-RACE BETS:

Pick 6:

I’m A Chatterbox/

Carina Mia/

Fish Trappe Road, Summer Revolution/

A.P. Indian, Catalina Red

Flintshire/

Exaggerator, Gun Runner

 

Pick 4:

Fish Trappe Road, Summer Revolution, Tom’s Ready, Rated R Superstar/

A.P. Indian, Catalina Red, Marking

Flintshire/

Exaggerator, Gun Runner, Creator, Governor Malibu

Arlington Million Festival Races Picks and Analysis

Posted August 12, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

6- American St. Leger, 13.5f, 3:05

1- GENEROUS KITTEN (6-1, 97): Shows the second highest BRIS Last Race Speed Figure (97) in the field off his last, a close 4th place finish in the Grade 3 Singspiel at 12f. That was his first graded start, but he did defeat foe O’Prado Ole two back at 11f. He has made up ground in the stretch in all of his last four distance races and should benefit from the additional ground here for the Ramsey connections.

2-MONTCLAIR (15-1, 112): This will be a class jump based on recent form, although he is a Group 3 winner in France in the distant past and boasts the highest Racing Post Rating in the field (tie). Still, his last three races have come in optional claiming company, and he hasn’t contested a graded race since May of last year. Against today’s foes, he defeated O’Prado Ole three races back at a shorter distance, but lost to Billabong at 12f over a soft track at Longchamp.

3- HART HILLS ROAD (30-1, N/A): Looks overmatched as he stretches out to a marathon distance with only 1 win in 20 career starts in allowance and claiming company.

4- TOBIAS (30-1, 98): With only 1 win in 26 career starts, it is difficult to support him here, especially with a combination of slow recent speed figures and having been beaten handily by a few of today’s foes (Da Big Hoss, Generous Kitten, O’Prado Ole).

5- DA BIG HOSS (9-5, 109): A deserving morning line favorite off his last, an impressive score in the 2 mile Belmont Gold Cup, where he posted the field high BRIS Speed Figure (106) by a mile. That was two months ago, but he’ll cut back in distance here which should only help off that effort, as he’s won two of his prior three starts at the 12f distance, and this should be right in his sweet spot with Flourent Geroux aboard. He holds the largest BRIS Prime Power advantage over the rest of the field in this sequence (+20.7) and is tempting as a potential single here; versatile runner neither needs the lead nor a pace to run at and should sit comfortably mid-pack to wait for the call.

6- WASIR (12-1, 101): Group 3 winner at the 2 mile distance in Germany two back, but he’s been of the board in the other three of his last four starts this year in everything from stakes to Group 1 company. Doesn’t look to appear the most formidable of the Euro shippers based on current form or Racing Post Rating; should be close to the pace.

7- ROCKET PROFESSOR (30-1, N/A): Ramsey rabbit is not here to win, but to provide pace for his stablemate Generous Kitten. He has never run further than 8f.

8- CLONDAW WARRIOR (9-2, 112): 9 year old gelding has lots of experience at running long distances, often beyond 2 miles, and does share the highest Racing Post Rating in the field. He cuts back here following a 3rd place finish in a 2.5 miles stakes race after a disastrous close to his 2015 campaign, and it’s hard to know what to do with him here. He’s won at 12f as recently as last summer on a cutback but has raced just once this year; at his age it is hard to know what to expect off the ship and the two month layoff.

9- MESSI (scratched)

10- BILLABONG (10-1, 107): Appears the classiest of these, having kept company with Group 1 runners in three of his last five races, and showing a 2nd place finish at 12f from last summer and a 2nd place finish in his last. Comes off a five month layoff but first time Lasix angle makes seven year old the most appealing of the Euro shippers.

11- O’PRADO OLE (12-1, 102): Early pace presence that always seems to find the board at Arlington, he was part of the blanket finish in the local prep for this, showing a competitive BRIS Speed Figure (96). He’s been beaten by three of these foes this year at shorter distances though (Da Big Hoss, Generous Kitten, Montclair), so we tend to give the form edge to those considering this distance could be beyond his limits.

Picks:

1) Da Big Hoss 9-5

2) Billabong 10-1

3) Generous Kitten 6-1

4) Montclair 15-1

 

7- Secretariat, 10f, 3:43

1- CHERRY WINE (12-1, N/A): Preakness runner up has had trouble finding a niche for himself. He may well have been assisted by the slop in that career best effort, and since then, he has been well off the board, finishing 7th in the 12f Belmont and 9th in the 8.5f Indiana Derby. Now he lands in between distance-wise but on a new surface. He contested turf races twice as a maiden, but to no avail. Lots of questions here for a horse looking to find his form and who likely needs a bit more pace to close into than he will see here.

2- AMERICAN PATRIOT (5-1, 97): Shows a field best Brisnet Speed Figure (100) and competitive Beyer (88) for his last race, an impressive draw away win in the 9f Kent Stakes. He seems to have regrouped since a disastrous performance in the Grade 2 American Turf on Derby Day, and trainer Todd Pletcher seems to have him heading in the right direction and rapidly improving. He figures to be forwardly placed in a field with very little true speed, and given the fact that he has been pulling away from fields in the stretch of his last two wins, the added distance is of little concern here. He should receive a ground saving trip near the lead from new jockey William Buick and be right in the mix for the win.

3- SCISSORS AND TAPE (30-1, N/A): Ramsey rabbit is not here to win, but to provide pace for his stablemate Oscar Nominated.

4- ONE MEAN MAN (12-1, 97): Winner of the local prep for this showed a tactical change in that effort, sitting back off the place and closing full of run. We expect to see a similar running style utilized here, but he will need to improve on his speed figures (87 BRIS, 84 Beyer) to see the winner’s circle again.

5- CORDON (30-1, N/A): Lightly raced recent maiden winner picks a tough spot to move up in class for his third start.

6- OSCAR NOMINATED (12-1, 101): Runner-up as the favorite in the local prep for this was arguably best in that race, having to bid between horses in the stretch after being bumped and just missed the win by a ½ length. He’s bred to run all day on turf and will finally get the chance to stretch out here with Corey Lanerie retaining the mount. Mike Maker wins with 27% of his beaten favorites in their next start, and the combination of the extra distance and his ability to rate near the pace and still close powerfully could make the difference here.

7- SURGICAL STRIKE (9-2, 104): Seems a middling contender in this group in terms of figures and form. He has kept company with Oscar Nominated, Beach Patrol and One Mean Man in his last four starts, but has beaten only the latter over that span. He was gaining ground at shorter distances, however, in those losses, so maybe he will appreciate the added ground here, and he does have a win over the Arlington course from last year’s American Derby, but there are others we like better to handle the extra ground in a race that figures to be a spread bet to begin with.

8-LONG ISLAND SOUND (5-2, 104): Lightly raced Aidan O’Brien entry holds a class edge over the field, having run a well placed 3rd to Hawkbill in a Group 3 at Ascot before that one returned to defeat older horses. He was 6th in the 10f Belmont Derby in his last, but was beaten just 2.25 lengths for the win. His entire form line reminds us of another O’Brien Secretariat runner, Adelaide, who romped here after no-showing in that same race. It may be difficult to elevate him over Beach Patrol after just having finished behind that one at the same distance, but he holds a massive BRIS Prime Power advantage (+20.1) off his three 8f wins in Ireland that merits inclusion in multi-race wagers.

9- BEACH PATROL (2-1, 105): Morning line favorite is the only other non-rabbit besides American Patriot that figures to be near the lead. He should be able to track behind the rabbit and work out a relaxed trip with Florent Geroux picking up the mount for Chad Brown. He finished 3rd in his last start in the Belmont Derby (90 BRIS) beaten just 1 ½ lengths for the win at this distance, and shows the field high Racing Post Rating. Once a need-the-lead type, he has learned to rate and conserve energy for the stretch; expect a big effort here from consistent colt.

Picks:

1) American Patriot 5-1

2) Beach Patrol 2-1

3) Oscar Nominated 12-1

4) Long Island Sound 5-2

 

8- Beverly D, 9.5f, 4:21

1- BALLYDOYLE (9-2, 115): Aidan O’Brien shipper has been off form recently; in fact, her last race, when 13th and last as the favorite in the 10f Belmont Oaks, was almost too terrible to be believed. Is the added distance or soft ground causing her recent troubles, or is she simply heading in the wrong direction? She shows the field high Racing Post Rating and has won at 8f in Group 1 company overseas, so her back class must be respected, but there are simply a lot of questions here off her last, where she seemed without excuse.

2- AL’S GAL (30-1, 99): Made a good enough account of herself when closing for second in the local prep after sitting just off a slow pace. Consistent type has posted three straight 90 Beyers, which are actually fairly competitive here in a less than spectacular edition of this race. Sure, she takes a big class leap entering Grade 1 company for the first time having never won a graded race, but these odds are too high for the runner with the highest BRIS figure in the field (107). That number came at a longer distance, and maybe she needs that to be fully effective, but she is intriguing at these odds nonetheless, especially with so many total tosses at the same morning line number.

3- MARYPOP (30-1, 106): Ran too far off a slow pace in the local prep here but never showed much response, placing an uninspiring 5th without ever improving position. She stands to run with a bit more focus this time with blinkers added and does have some form lines to fall back on, but it is asking a lot for her to improve enough upon that effort to be a factor here.

4- NO FAULT OF MINE (30-1, 95): She ran an even 4th in the local prep here. It is hard to imagine missing the board in the Modesty and then hitting it in the Beverly D with such tougher competition entering here. Her low Racing Post Rating leads us to look elsewhere.

5- TUTTIPAESI (20-1, 103): Has run well enough in her past two starts both graded stakes, at 8.5f and 9f respectively, finishing 2nd and 1st in those races. She will need to improve upon her speed figure in her most recent start (87 BRIS), where she also finished two lengths behind today’s foe Zipessa.

6- COOLMORE (6-1, 106): The other contingent of the Aidan O’Brien contingent easily bested her stablemate when 3rd in her last, the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks at 10f. Front-running type should benefit from the slight cutback in distance here, although she did back up through the stretch last time. Still, she shows the field high Beyer from that race (98) and filly is Group 3 placed in Ireland at 7f. While we don’t support her for the win here, she is preferable to her stablemate based on recent form and seems a logical inclusion underneath, as she may be the speed that stays longest.

7- LOTS O’LEX (30-1, 97): This is a puzzling spot indeed for a runner coming off a 9 month layoff that has never won a graded race. Selling with both hands.

8- PERSONAL DIARY (30-1, 107): Her Racing Post Rating looks competitive, but if you are looking to play a longshot, it’s hard to ignore that she was easily beaten by two others here, Al’s Gal and Zipessa, in her last three starts. Has only 3 wins in 23 lifetime starts and is difficult to support here.

9-ZIPESSA (15-1, 99): Impressive in winning an 8.5f Grade 3 wire to wire in her last, but she stretches out beyond 9f for the first time, and has shown declining speed figures in her last four starts. Will be part of the speed, but we question her ability to carry it this far. Not for us.

10-SECRET SOMEONE (30-1, 102): Nearly stole the local prep by setting super easy fractions on the lead (:50.1), but still only managed to hold on for 3rd, and figures to see a bit more pace pressure this time around. Pass.

11- ELUSIVE MILLION (30-1, 85): Ummmm….first time Lasix and a weight break? That’s about all we can offer on a positive note for runner with the field low Racing Post Rating by a mile and who has never run beyond 8f, appears rabbit-esque for the favorite.

12- FAUFILER (6-1, 111): Was incredibly impressive and proved us wrong in winning the local prep for this (96 BRIS, 92 Beyer), closing with authority into a slow pace in her first effort at the longer distance, showing a field high BRIS Late Pace Figure (106). She shows field high Speed Last Race and Back Speed, and has proven ability to close into a race shape that plays against her running style. Maybe the extra distance is exactly what she needed, and the price is right to find out against tougher company. She should get a better set up this time to boot, with the likes of Zipessa, Coolmore and Elusive Million signed on. The pick.

13- SEA CALISI (7-5, 112): Group 2 and Grade 2 winner holds a class advantage against this field (she’s also Group 1 placed at 12f in France). She had a terrible trip when just missing the win in the 10f New York Stakes last out (92 BRIS, 95 Beyer), and still only missed the win by ¾ of a length to a pretty tough mare in Dacita. She gets a rider switch to Flourent Geroux and is a deserving favorite for Chad Brown, but dare we say, a bit short in this spot and far from a sure thing at these odds? After all, her best races have come at longer distances and on softer turf than she is likely to see here. Certainly a must-use on top in exotic and multi-race wagers, but doesn’t offer much value outright.

14- PRETTY GIRL (15-1, 109): Lightly raced Argentinian bred gets first time Lasix here as she moves up in class for her fifth career start. She won a Group 1 in her native country at 10f in her first career start, but there are lots of questions as she will try to navigate a trip against tougher company from the widest post of all. The Racing Post Rating is quite competitive and she wouldn’t be a huge surprise underneath, but you can’t use everyone.

Picks:

1) Faufiler 6-1

2) Sea Calisi 7-5

3) Coolmore 6-1

4) Al’s Gal 30-1

 

9- ARLINGTON MILLION, 10f, 5:09

1- DANISH DYNAFORMER (30-1, 104): Winner of the Grade 3 Singspiel at 12f cuts back in distance here (98 BRIS, 94 Beyer). Before that, he was a distant 6th behind today’s foe World Approval in a 9f Grade 1. Seems middling in this field and may have found a better spot in the longer race, so we will look elsewhere.

2- DUBAI SKY (30-1, 96): Forwardly place type takes a big class leap here for Bill Mott, having raced just once in graded company in six career starts. He’ll stretch out to 10f for the first time, which doesn’t bode well for a colt that led and faded last time out at 8.5f.

3- GREENGRASSOFYOMING (30-1, 99): Won from off the pace in a blanket, four horse photo finish in the marathon local prep for this, but connections opt for the tougher spot with this six year old gelding. Trainer Mike Maker wins with 27% of his runners third off the lay but finds a tough spot here with a deep closer that may not get quite the pace he needs here in this event. This is also a big class leap for a runner that had not previously contested a graded event before his last.

4- PUMPKIN RUMBLE (30-1, 100): Just missed the win in the blanket finish in the local prep at 12f, and cuts back here as he takes a massive class jump. He has never won a graded race and is difficult to support in this spot.

5- THE PIZZA MAN (10-1, 115): Local favorite and defending champion will be overbet as usual for this despite his seemingly declining form since last summer’s monumental win. Sure, he is third off the lay here and always brings his “A” game at Arlington, but betting against him has become somewhat of a rite of passage. And seeing as how he has failed as favorite in his last three starts, showing speed figures at variety of distances that leave something to be desired (92-96 BRIS, 8.5f-12f), and meets a deeper, tougher field than he did last year, now seems the time to do that again.

6- KASAQUI (20-1, 106): Draw away winner of the local prep for this (98 BRIS, 97 Beyer) fits this race perfectly from a tactical standpoint, as he is able to sit near the pace but is clearly not compromised by the distance, having won at this distance twice in Argentina. He takes a class jump here but at these odds, deserves a look for the minor awards. We know he likes the track, and he showed a field high BRIS Late Pace Last Race (102) over it, so we know he doesn’t mind the distance. Price might be right to find out how much improvement he can make against a tougher field.

7- TAKE THE STAND (15-1, 113): Impressive wire to wire winner of the 9f Muniz (96 BRIS, 100 Beyer) in his last, where he beat today’s foe World Approval and was flattered by that one’s subsequent efforts. That was over four months ago though, and he’s never run beyond 9f before. There are reasons for concern here considering he’s shown a propensity to fade on the lead at shorter distances. That combined with the layoff is enough for us to stay away.

8- DECORATED KNIGHT (10-1, 112): Stakes winner at 10f in England three back, he won a 9f Group 3 in Ireland in his last and enters with sharp recent form. He may prefer the turf a bit softer than he will see here, but does top the field in BRIS Current Class. There are others here that look a bit more impressive in terms of Racing Post Ratings, but we won’t dismiss him for the bottom of exotics and will give him a shot in multi-race wagers as a value play. He has the look of a colt that is improving at the right time and that has been pointed to this.

9-MONDIALISTE (8-1, 118): Classy son of Galileo boasts the field high Racing Post Rating. Though his best races have come at 8f, he has showcased an incredible turn of foot at that distance that appears to begging for more ground, and that notion was proven correct in his last, where he finished a close 2nd at 10f, beaten just ¾ of a length for the win in a Group 2 in England. His 2nd place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (104 BRIS, 104 Beyer) behind the other-wordly Tepin has been highly flattered since that event, and the feeling here is that he finds a great spot to unleash that closing kick in a race where he should get a decent setup to do so. Trainer David O’Meara has shown ability to ship and win before, as Mondialiste won the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile coming in from York just as he does today, and why worry about the distance with this pedigree? (10.4/9.4 AWD). The pick.

10- WAKE FOREST (5-1, 112): He has always seemed a middling runner to this space, and he proved us correct last year, finishing 6th in this race against a weaker group. He did recently close to win the 11f Man O’War (95 BRIS, 101 Beyer), but that may have been more a result of his competition in that race. He was fairly easily beaten when third in his last to today’s foe World Approval. He’s a deep closer cutting back in distance here and figures to be overbet; looking elsewhere.

11- WORLD APPROVAL (4-1, 114): The concern with him has always been distance related, but he blew that notion away in his last after winning the 11f United Nations from just off the pace, posting a field high last out Bris (99) and Beyer (105) figure. He faded after leading the Grade 1 Manhattan (98 BRIS, 105 Beyer) at 10f two starts back, but faced tougher foes that day, as none the likes of Flintshire or Ironicus are signed on today. Florent Geroux retains the mount, and it doesn’t hurt that colt won the 9f American Derby over this turf course a year ago. On speed figures alone, he appears the one to beat as he has duplicated the field high Beyer at the distance. His recent ability to rate makes him a must use on top.

12- TRYSTER (7-2, 117): Morning line favorite certainly has the back class to support such, as he’s the only multiple Group 1 winner (Dubai) in the field. However, he’s the rare Euro shipper that may prefer firmer ground, so beware if it comes up softer than expected today; his last two starts (after winning his previous three) were lackluster and came over soft turf. While he’s won a Group 3 at this distance, his Group 1 wins have been at shorter, so it’s fair to wonder, at this price and off the ship, whether this race is a bit beyond ideal. Is his talent enough to overcome that? It wouldn’t be a surprise, but there are enough questions to try to beat him outright, while using him defensively in multi-race wagers.

13- DEAUVILLE (6-1, 114): Aidan O’Brien trainee was the winner of the 3 year old restricted 10f Belmont Derby (92 BRIS, 94 Beyer) in his last, but connections opt to try the tougher spot here instead of the Secretariat. In doing so, he’ll attempt to become the first 3 year old to ever win the Arlington Million, and if he does, he’ll do it from the widest post of all, and at our expense. Figure wise, he doesn’t really stack up against the top contenders here, and the fact that he only beat Secretariat favorite Beach Patrol by 1.5 lengths after that one had the worst of it trip-wise leads us to play against and conclude he is in the wrong spot here.

Picks:

1) Mondialiste 8-1

2) World Approval 4-1

3) Tryster 7-2

4) Decorated Knight 10-1

 

Arlington Million Preview Day Stakes Picks

Posted July 8, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

4- Modesty Hcp, 8.5f, 2:49

Arlington track owner Richard Duchossois brings in MARYPOP off of two straight wins in France, both at longer distances and the latest a Group 3. It’s always easy to root for Mr D.’s charges on his home track, but there are a variety of angles here that appeal. As this race turned up fairly paceless, she should be able to either control the lead if desired or track steadily behind the slow pace. We like the cutback in distance for her as well here versus several of her rivals who will be stretching out, and if her preference for softer surfaces is a concern, it should help that she’s posted seven works over the Arlington track since May, so has had time to acclimate to it. She also gets first time Lasix. Her 3-1 on the morning line would be a gift, and will be our strongest win bet of the day at those odds. AL’S GAL also cuts back in distance after winning her last at 12f and posting a field high Brisnet Speed Figure of 105, and she showed ability to rate near the lead rather than close from the clouds as she did in previous races, and those tactics should suit here. She’s still never won a graded stakes, so this will be a jump in class, but she certainly fits on figures. Morning line favorite FAUFILER owns the field’s highest Racing Post Rating of 111 and gets class relief exiting a 5th place finish in the Grade I Just A Game, but it remains to be seen whether she can duplicate her closing punch stretching out beyond 9f. Seeing as how she has been better as a closing miler over her career, there are questions as to whether she will stand to benefit from the distance or the race shape; we will side with the cutback horses here. NO FAULT OF MINE also stretches out beyond 9f for the first time coming off a strong 2nd place finish over the Arlington polytrack in her last, but appears a bit light on figures compared to the top choices, and may not get the pace setup necessary for the needed improvement.

Picks:

1) Marypop 3-1

2) Al’s Gal 7-2

3) Faufiler 2-1

4) No Fault Of Mine 9-2

6- Stars And Stripes, 12f, 3:53

 The defending champion of the last two editions of this race as well as the 2015 Arlington Million, THE PIZZA MAN, returns to his home track, where he is 10/13 lifetime. He’ll be even money or less at the windows as he stretches back out to his preferred distance following two tuneups that found him off the board earlier this year. While he looms a defensive use in multi-race wagers and exotics, he’s been a nemesis of ours for years, and part of the fun of going out to Arlington is betting against him outright, even though that’s usually a lost cause. So, bombs away…We’re calling for CHIP LEADER to wire the field in a shocker. Coming off a five month layoff and having never raced beyond 9f, son of Giant’s Causeway is likely to be strongly overlooked at the windows. He’s 2/3 lifetime over this track, and posted two straight bullets over it in May before a series of maintenance moves that were clearly an effort to give him some bottom to stretch out here. Simply put, this is a sneaky spot to enter him if he wasn’t at least live off the lay, so we will take a shot, and there don’t appear to be any pedigree-related reasons he can’t get this distance, being out of a Tapit dam. ROMAN APPROVAL finished second last year, beaten just a nose by the champ. He has appeared a bit off form so far this year, but goes third off the lay for Mike Maker and gets a jockey switch with Corey Lanerie aboard. His past two works, both bullets, indicate he is ready for a big effort here, and his versatile running style should help him navigate a tough post. Lanerie jumps off O’PRADO OLE here, which is a strange move coming off a front-running win at this distance in his last, where he posted a field high last out Brisnet Speed Figure of 96. We’ll take that as a meaningful choice, but also will play against as he may well be run off his feet on the lead by the top selection. He’s also shown a pattern of alternating between strong races and duds, and he is currently due for the latter. More appealing underneath is BULLARDS ALLEY, who enters off a graded win at this distance in his last, but did so with a perplexingly low figure of 79.

Picks:

1) Chip Leader 30-1

2) The Pizza Man 1-1

3) Roman Approval 9-2

4) Bullards Alley 5-1

7- Arlington Hcp, 9.5f, 4:25

 Assessing race shape may prove to be the key determinant in how this renewal of the Arlington Handicap plays out. While there are several runners entered who have shown ability to run on the lead, there isn’t exactly a dearth of one-way speed. The battle up front figures to play out between two runners with practically opposite credentials. Favored GO AROUND cuts back in distance from his last when fading to 8th in the 11f Man O’War. He had won his last two at 9f and 8.5f respectively when running near the lead. While those distances may be more in his wheelhouse, he has won at 9.5f before in allowance company, and shows competitive figures in this group (99 Brisnet Speed Figure at 9f). ONLY IN AMERICA, by contrast, figures to gun for the lead but has never run on turf or beyond 9f. If he can translate his Brisnet Speed Figure of 98 earned on dirt at 8.5f to the new surface, he could loom a threat, but that’s making a pretty large assumption. More concering are his low Late Pace figures, which seem to indicate he won’t withstand a pace duel on the stretchout.  KASAQUI may be able to be placed a bit more tactically just off the pacesetters, the same way he was when he stormed home to win an 8.5f allowance three starts back. He lost the lead at 9f in his last, but that was less him backing up than simply running into a gritty closer in Pleuven, and since he has two wins at 10f in Argentina, shouldn’t be at a disadvantage stretching out here. In a race with ambiguous shape, we’ll settle for the horse that fits in the middle of it best for the distance, and it doesn’t hurt that he does show the field high Brisnet Speed Last Race (95). MESSI is arguably the classiest in the bunch, having previously won before at the Grade 3 level, but will have to navigate a wide trip from the widest post, and may not get the pace setup he needs. Although it bears mention that he did close into a pretty slow pace in that aforementioned win at a distance shorter than this, and holds the field high Brisnet Speed Figure in this group for that effort (100). It is tough to separate the top three and all merit inclusion in multi-race wagers. Looking for a bomber, there are a couple of horses for the course that intrigue. We slightly prefer R GREAT ADVENTURE, who was flat in his last but closed well to win his two prior starts at 8f. He shows 4 wins in 8 starts over the Arlington surface and he appears live if you can bring yourself to toss his last. He defeated fellow home town hero PEEJ recently by a half a length, and as the two are admittedly tough to separate we point towards that head to head result. This one shows 3 wins in 7 starts over the track and takes an equal class leap. Defending champion QUIET FORCE enters for a repeat attempt, but does so light on figures, and meets a tougher group here than he did last year.

Picks:

1) Kasaqui 9-2

2) Go Around 3-1

3) Messi 4-1

4) R Great Adventure 15-1

8- American Derby, 9f, 4:57

After a 17th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, which was the wrong surface, and a 5th place finish last out in the 8f Penn Mile, which was too short, OSCAR NOMINATED finally finds the right spot and draws the rail here. Son of Kitten’s Joy has turf breeding out the wazoo and stands to improve on the stretchout here, holding advantages over the field in Brisnet Prime Power and Current Class. Corey Lanerie picks up the mount, which is an added bonus, and his Brisnet Speed figure of 86 even in defeat is highly competitive here in terms of last out numbers. Remember, the polytrack win that got him into the Derby in the first place came at this exact distance. ONE MEAN MAN has a great name, and traded wins with the top choice in two shorter races at the Fairgrounds earlier this year before an impressive 2nd place finish from near the pace over this track in the Arlington Classic two back, holding on and beating several of today’s foes. His tactical speed should put him in position to hold on for similar honors here. The highest Brisnet Speed Last Race figure of 89 belongs to recent maiden winner MONGOLIAN HOLIDAY, and he’s worth a look at a price on the class jump. In a race where there appears to be no one-way speed, he could well find himself on the lead and carry them a long way; his maiden win came on dirt, but it was at 8.5f, and he was gaining through the finish. Connections turned local horse Mongolian Saturday into a Breeders’ Cup winner. Morning line favorite J.R.’S HOLIDAY shares the same sire and deserves respect, but is worth trying to beat on top at such short odds. His post draw combined with the lack of speed entered here may leave him with too much work to do late, and his last two races away from Gulfstream have been steps backward. Coming out of the Arlington Classic, both SWAGGER JACK and TEQUILA JOE figure to attract wise guy attention, but we don’t like the way the former held the lead in the stretch and then gave way considering he will have to cover more ground here, or how the latter couldn’t get to the wire from off the pace and now loses his rider; leaning elsewhere.

Picks:

1) Oscar Nominated 12-1

2) One Mean Man 5-1

3) Mongolian Holiday 30-1

4) J.R.’s Holiday 2-1

Belmont Day Pick 4 Picks and Analysis

Posted June 10, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Uncategorized

8- Just A Game, 8f, 2:58

Oh my, what a way to begin the Pick 4 sequence. One could justify using as many as nine in this wide open affair. There’s an interesting mix of pace types cutting back to a more ideal distance alongside a bunch of deep closers who may need more. While we’ll lean towards the former, fillies like CELESTINE and LA BERMA should ensure an honest pace up front while taking steps up in class, so the closers aren’t completely out of this. For the top selection, RECEPTA appeals most. She enters third off the lay, and cuts back in distance following a 3rd place finish in her last at 8.5f, where she lost all chance after clipping heels at the start. She’s been working well, posting a 4f bullet on June 4th, and should be well-positioned mid-pack from her ground-saving post; appears to split the difference tactically in a race where race shape advantages aren’t readily apparent. She’s won twice at Belmont and has only missed the board once in six career starts over this track. If she can run back to the 103 Brisnet Speed Figure she posted here last September at this distance, the field high, she seems to be the one to beat. If she doesn’t fire here, things get cloudier. TAPITRY ran quite well when 2nd in her last, defeating the top selection for place honors. She actually held the lead at the 8f mark in that race, and should appreciate the cutback in distance. Improving filly gets a jockey switch to the red hot Flourent Geroux, has been working well, and may be ready to peak in her third start off the lay at long odds. MY MISS SOPHIA disappointed when 5th as our single in the same race as the top two selections, but was coming off a long layoff, and perhaps needed it, as she ran rank on the lead setting fractions quicker than she needed to. Her workouts leave a bit to be desired but her tactical speed and class make her a looming threat every time out. Trainer Bill Mott wins with 20% of his starters second off the lay, and the price will be right on this occasion. Deep closers FAUFILER and RAINHA DE BATERIA are in receipt of a considerable weight break and figure to attract attention, but appear underlays at their morning line odds based on relative form and speed figures. If we are forced to use a closer, we’d rather have a mare who has shown success at this track and has stronger back class. LADY LARA shows the second highest Brisnet Speed Figure at the distance (102) from a win here last September and figures to be a bit more forwardly placed than the aforementioned closers. Her first two starts of the year have been huge steps back in terms of form, but she’s been working well and perhaps Mott has her ready to roll in this spot. That means being against favored MRS MCDOUGAL, who seems a massive underlay in this spot, having never run a Brisnet Speed Figure above 95, coming off an eight week layoff, and stepping up in class. The attention she’s receiving is likely a result of beating STRIKE CHARMER last out. That one defeated each of our top three selections in her last, so what gives? The feeling here is that she needed the extra distance last out and won’t benefit from the cutback as much. Her rail post, drawn inside the speed, is also a negative. Can’t bet them all…

Picks:

1) Recepta 6-1

2) Tapitry 15-1

3) My Miss Sophia 8-1

4) Lady Lara 15-1

 

9- Met Mile, 8f, 3:41

CALCULATOR fits this race like a glove at a very attractive price. After hitting the board in all four of his 2016 starts at 7f following a lengthy layoff due to injury, he finally gets to stretch out to the more suitable 8f distance, in which he won last year’s Sham at Santa Anita before being sidelined. Take a look at his 2nd place finish in the Carter two back over the slop. He defeated ANCHOR DOWN handily in that race, and then that one came back to post a field high Brisnet Speed Figure of 108 in his last, again over the slop. One could think this points toward the top selection as an off-track specialist, but he was a hard closing second in his last over a fast track in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs, missing by just a length and begging for more ground. He’s been working like a monster, posting a bullet 5f work in :58.0 on June 4th, and trainer Peter Miller wins with 30% of his runners over the past three years going from sprints to routes. The distance in which he bested ANCHOR DOWN seems to give him a form edge over STANFORD and BLOFELD, who will both take money as well, given how close ANCHOR DOWN was to those two in the Gulfstream Park Hcp at this distance. NOBLE BIRD must be respected coming off his wire to wire destruction of the Pimlico Special field, posting a Brisnet Figure of 117 that simply towers over all of these. He gets an extreme cutback from 10.5f to 8f, but figures to be dangerous on the lead once again in a field that isn’t exactly loaded with speed. AMI’S FLATTER has experienced quite the career resurgence, winning two of his last three at 7f and increasing his lead into the stretch, posting Brisnet Speed Figues of 106 and 105 respectively. Aside from the top selection, only BLOFELD has shown two consecutive 100+ Brisnet Speed Figures, and having won the aforementioned Gulfstream Park Hcp at this distance and cutting back from a 9f race, seems a logical contender. It’s worth wondering how well-suited this distance will be for favored FROSTED, a personal favorite. Coming off a trip to Dubai and two longer races, he cuts back to a distance that may be well short of ideal for him. He’s a versatile type that can be placed anywhere, but has never shown blazing speed, and may be worth beating on top as the favorite here.

Picks:

1) Calculator 10-1

2) Noble Bird 9-2

3) Ami’s Flatter 6-1

4) Blofeld 10-1

 

10- Manhattan, 10f, 4:37

It is very difficult to get around favored FLINTSHIRE here, so we won’t even try, as he appears the best option for a single in the sequence. He makes his first start of the year but has run well off layoffs before, and his Group 1 Euro form outclasses the field in this one. In his last US start, he posed a 116 Brisnet Speed Figure when winning the 12f Sword Dancer, a number that simply towers over these. His last six races have come at the 12f distance but we don’t mind the cutback here off the lay, especially considering he figures to be more forwardly placed than his most likely challengers in a race that doesn’t look heavy on pace. He also receives first time Lasix, which is a scary proposition. The 1-2 finishers from last year’s contest return here both second off the lay and both at the age of 8, and of the two, we give the slight edge to SLUMBER based on his current form and workout patterns. He wasn’t disgraced when rallying for third at a distance shorter than this in his season debut. He was aided by a fast pace that day which he isn’t likely to see here, but should enjoy the added ground as this a distance he has relished in the past; he’s 5 for 10 lifetime at 10f and has never won at any other distance. He fired a bullet 5f work here on 6/4 and should be ready to move forward. BIG BLUE KITTEN appeared a step slower in his debut and hasn’t been working as sharply, but does own the best speed figures in the field at this distance as well as a 12 point Bris Prime Power advantage, and can’t be easily dismissed. There’s a new Kitten in town, and that’s DIVISIDERO, who beat many of these last out in the 9f Turf Classic. This will be his first try at 10f, but he didn’t look to be done running in that win. The concern for them is whether that race, coming third off the lay, was his peak, and whether he can duplicate his closing punch on the stretchout. He was also aided by the quick fractions up front that day. A colt who could make the opposite argument is WORLD APPROVAL, who hung on gamely for 2nd in that race and deserves a look at short odds as the likely pacesetter from the rail in a race where no one appears to be gunning for the lead. Questions remain about his ability to handle the added ground, however, so it will come down to how much pressure he sees from the likes of GRAND TITO and TAKE THE STAND, who also appear to be distance challenged. IRONICUS will be well-backed in the wagering and deserves respect as he also stretches out to 10f for the first time in his second race since returning from injury, but looms a potential underlay off his last, which was extremely light in terms of figures relative to these.

Picks:

1) Flintshire 8-5

2) Slumber 10-1

3) Big Blue Kitten 6-1

4) Divisidero 8-1

 

11- Belmont, 12f, 5:37

The prevailing train of thought regarding the marathon 12f distance of this final leg of the Triple Crown is that closers are at a disadvantage and that handicappers should focus in on horses that show a combination of tactical speed and pedigree for the distance. We’ve always played against this angle when appropriate, as the connections of so-called “deep” closers are well aware of the dangers of dropping back too many lengths off a slow pace and instruct their riders accordingly. Birdstone, for example, was only four lengths off the lead turning for home when he spoiled Smarty Jones’ bid for the Triple Crown. For this reason, we will lean towards the colt that showed the most powerful closing kick in the Kentucky Derby, and who figures to be more forwardly placed than he was in that race. That’s SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS, who made up 7 lengths in the stretch to finish 5th in that race after dropping back some 27 lengths off the pace, coming home in his final 1/4 in an eye-popping :24.3, the fastest of any colt that day. We won’t want to see him that far back in this race, but he’s showed ability to race closer to the lead in the past; he actually had the lead at the first call when breaking his maiden, and was never further back than 5 lengths when winning his first stakes as a 2 year old. The rider switch to Mike Smith should ensure a more tactical position. From a pedigree aspect, a fun angle to look at is the fact that both his grandsires, Afleet Alex and A.P. Indy, won this race, and he’s only the third starter since 2010 that can make that claim. (The last one, Commissioner, ran the best race of his life here at long odds and just missed the win). From a class standpoint, EXAGGERATOR still looms extremely large off his Preakness score, and with the possibility of rain again in the forecast, he’s a must use in multi-race wagers and on top of verticals. He’s one of just two colts to contest each of the three Triple Crown races, but fatigue is not an angle that we find applicable here, as Curlins tend to just get stronger and stronger with more races. Searching for a horse with a combination of front-running speed and pedigree, you could do worse than landing on DESTIN. He ran a deceptively good Derby despite running off an unprecedented 8 week layoff, and actually closed ground in the stretch to finish 6th. Todd Pletcher has been very successful in this race over time, and with that race under him he comes in fresh with some bottom, and should be expected to improve. A ground saving trip from the rail should find him very much in the mix late as he is bred to run all day. The same connections that spoiled California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid with Tonalist (Christophe Clement and Joel Rosario) are here with GOVERNOR MALIBU, who enters off a similar patter as that one did, using the 9f Peter Pan over this track as a prep. His combination of tactical speed and closing pace numbers make him dangerous here at a price. He’s the only runner in the field to show triple digit Brisnet Late Pace numbers in all of his last three starts. The issue with actually supporting him for the win is the combination of the class jump and the fact that he doesn’t really stack up on figures, with only a 94 Beyer to his credit.

BRODY’S CAUSE makes a lot of sense here from a pedigree standpoint and sure seems like a big overlay at his 20-1 Morning Line. He actually closed the second fastest in the Derby behind the top selection, making up 5 lengths in the stretch to finish a respectable 7th. The negative with him continues to be his seeming lack of speed, as he’s still never topped a 94 Beyer and seems to have leveled off there. He’s difficult to support on top unless he improves. LANI was another who was closing into the lead in the Derby, and didn’t run a bad Preakness when 5th. Still, he’s contested all of the Triple Crown races, and it’s possible that fatigue will catch up to him here especially  considering how hard he’s been training, although it would be no surprise to see him crash the bottom of the superfecta. Last time out was probably the time to be on CHERRY WINE, who wheels back quickly here and may have pedigree limitations based on the bottom of his pedigree. CREATOR threw in a real clunker in the Derby and is rested here, but remains somewhat of a mystery. With so many closers entered here and the many negatives such runners encounter in this race to begin with, there are simply others we like better. STRADIVARI ran on well for 4th in the Preakness but is possibly the biggest underlay of the entire year at 5-1 and second choice on the morning line. His Late Pace figures are among the field’s worst, and nothing about his pedigree seems to indicate that this distance will be to his liking. Toss.

Picks:

1) Suddenbreakingnews 10-1

2) Exaggerator 9-5

3) Destin 6-1

4) Governor Malibu 12-1

2016 Kentucky Derby Picks and Analysis

Posted May 5, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

PACE:

OUTWORK (Uncle Mo/ Empire Maker), #15 Post, 15-1

98 Beyer, 242 Tomlinson

Pros: Showed impressive grit when winning a sloppy edition of the Wood Memorial in his last, setting a decent pace up front and holding on for the win. His pedigree sizes up well in terms of the AWD numbers of his sire and damsire (7.0/7.7). In four career starts, he’s never had a regression in terms of Brisnet figures, although he did level off over his last two. Has been the darling of the Derby works.

Cons: Lightly raced with only four career starts, he enters off winning the slowest Wood Memorial in 92 years, and had to fight tooth and nail to hold off an 81-1 maiden in stretch. If it was surprising that he was able to do so after setting a fast pace, consider the plodding closing fractions the reason. He came home in :40.66 over the final 3/8 and :14.02 over the final 1/8, which all adds up to a fairly brutal Brisnet Late Pace figure of 64. That simply will not get it done in the stretch at Churchill. His Dosage of 11.00 is off the charts in terms of historical Derby criteria (anything above 7.00 is three standard deviations from the mean), and his low Tomlinson seems to confirm these distance questions. Even having run well in his last two, he still has yet to break the Triple Digit Beyer threshold.

Conclusion: He will be part of what is always a torrid pace up front, and we generally veer away from these types of runners unless there is a strong reason to the contrary. Visually, the Wood Memorial was ugly, and we aren’t inclined to use any of those runners on any tickets here.

DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy/ Songandaprayer), #20 Post, 15-1

100 Beyer, 226 Tomlinson

Pros: Front-runner blew away a pretty strong San Felipe field two back in a wire to wire fashion, posting a 100 Beyer in the process, one of just three runners here to break the triple digit barrier around two turns. The 104 Brisnet figure he earned in that race is actually the highest in the field around two turns.

Cons: The pedigree leaves a lot to be desired for a race of this distance. While the sample size of his sire is small, he shows by far the worst AWD numbers in the field (6.5/6.0), which would also be worse than any Derby winner has ever had, and his Tomlinson is in the lower tier as well. Of course, his damsire set the fastest opening fractions in the history of this race back in 2001 before fading badly. The feeling was that Danzing Candy would endure a similar fate if he tried to set fast fractions in the Santa Anita Derby, and that’s exactly what happened. His come home times (:42.04, :14.81) and Brisnet Late Pace figure (53) are the lowest in the field. As a need-the-lead type out of the widest post, he’ll have to really gun it early to clear the field.

Conclusion: He has virtually no chance in this race unless he can rate behind the pace. If he didn’t show the ability to do that in his last, it is quite the leap of faith to believe he can do it here with a larger field and more speed to contend with. He may just be a headstrong colt whose high cruising speed may be better suited to shorter races. He wants no part of this distance, and is our pick to finish last. (Someone has to)

NYQUIST (Uncle Mo/ Forestry) #13 Post, 3-1 Morning Line Favorite

94 Beyer, 202 Tomlinson

Pros: Undefeated two year old champion comes into this race as a deserving favorite following a convincing Florida Derby win, a classy effort following a ship in from California. He’s beaten Exaggerator in three meetings, so he was highly flattered by the Santa Anita Derby result. His ability to handle races beyond 9f is questionable, but he did come home in reasonable fractions in his last. In fact, in a field full of colts that didn’t close especially well in their final preps, he holds the fastest 3/8 come home time of :37.72.

Cons: His connections somewhat curiously chose to prepare him for this with an abnormally light racing schedule that included only one two turn prep preceded by a 7f sprint tuneup. While all he does is win, he still hasn’t posted a triple digit Beyer around two turns, and will need to improve several lengths upon his prior form to win this race. The fact that his speed figures have declined as the distances have gotten longer is certainly a reason for concern, in combination with the fact that his damsire is Forestry for heaven’s sake. The pedigree data supports this worry as well as it pertains to Dosage, AWD and Tomlinson Distance Rating. His Dosage of 7.00 is especially worthy of raising one’s eyebrows, as it is nearly three standard deviations below the mean of an average Derby winner, and his field-low Tomlinson is right on that line as well; in fact, 202 would be the lowest Tomlinson ever for a Derby winner. His Florida Derby win was billed as a heavyweight battle against Mohaymen, but it is worth asking, via the transitive property, what exactly Mohaymen has beaten of any real consequence.

Conclusion: The pedigree and speed figure concerns raise several red flags, and it is an uncommon thing indeed to see an undefeated Derby favorite with so many apparent negatives. But what makes it even more difficult to support him in this spot is the fact that he doesn’t really show any qualities above what we’d expect to see from a Derby winner. What is his overpowering advantage against this field? On paper, it doesn’t exist, aside from the fact that he simply doesn’t let horses past him in the stretch. He’s the horse to beat, but with so many question marks, it is worth a shot to beat him on the top line at these odds. Use defensively in the bottom of trifectas, but the real value in this race may be keeping him out of the exacta. While it would certainly be no real surprise to see him win, he’d break some serious historical precedents in doing so, and would also be the fourth consecutive favorite to win this race, which hasn’t happened since 1975.

DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway/ Siberian Summer) #9 Post, 15-1

100 Beyer, 310 Tomlinson

Pros: Tampa Bay Derby winner will certainly be well rested and fresh for this, entering off a somewhat unprecedented eight week layoff. The form of that race has held up well, with beaten horses Outwork and Brody’s Cause coming back to win the Wood Memorial and Blue Grass stakes respectively. While he’s never run beyond 8.5f, his Brisnet Late Pace figure at that distance is 100, which is highly competitive here, and his figures were ascending through each stage of his last two races. In fact, if we are throwing out distance altogether, his Late Pace figure of 109 two back in the Sam Davis is tied for second best in the field. He also posted triple digit Beyer and Bris figures in his last, one of only three runners to do so, and his Dosage is strong enough to suggest he should be fine with the distance. He’s trained well over the track.

Cons: It’s the giant pink elephant in the room: THAT LAYOFF. No horse has ever won this race off an eight-week layoff, but not many have tried. The connections had good reasons for campaigning him this way, as his Thorograph number for the Tampa Bay Derby was simply off the charts, and they didn’t want to risk him peaking too soon. What bothers us more than the layoff is the jump from 8.5 to 10f, which also has not been done before in this race by a winner in about 100 years. For a horse that likes to run near the pace, that’s putting a whole lot of stake in a pedigree that appears competitive but not exactly towering over the rest of these. The feeling here is that he has to be short for this.

Conclusion: He’s probably the biggest mystery in the field, because there just isn’t a lot to go on in terms of handicapping angles. He is a full brother to Creative Cause, who was our 2008 selection to win this race. We will find out how talented he is soon enough, but the overwhelming sentiment has to be that he simply doesn’t have enough bottom under him to be considered a win candidate here. Still, there’s enough going his way for him to be highly useable on the bottom of exotics, and if he does win, look out for similarly unorthodox training patterns to continue.

MOHAYMEN (Tapit/ Dixie Union), #14 Post, 10-1

95 Beyer, 249 Tomlinson

Pros: Looked professional as could be in winning the Fountain of Youth at 8.5f with push-button authority, and earned a Brisnet Speed Rating of 102 for that effort. Before that, he stormed home in the Holy Bull at the same distance, showing a field high Late Pace figure of 115.

Cons: No colt has ever won the Derby after being beaten as badly as he was (8.25 lengths) in the Florida Derby. Form and regression questions abound, as the horses he had beaten prior to that dud, including Greenpointcrusader, Flexibility and Zulu, all failed to even make the Derby field. Who has he beaten? He faded so badly in the Florida Derby over a wet track that is was hardly even believable. It could be that he simply didn’t take to the track condition that day, or it could be that he is simply not the type of horse that wants to go much further than 8.5f; that does happen to Tapit colts without classic breeding on the damside. Even for all the hype surrounding him leading up to his Florida Derby dud, he had still never ran anything faster than a 95 Beyer. His works over the track have bordered on ancy and he may be very close to a pace. Amazingly, no horse has ever won the Derby out of the #14 Post in the last 40 years.

Conclusion: It’s amazing what one race can do to your stock as a Derby contender. Had he won the Florida Derby with authority as the odds-on favorite, he’d be as heavy a favorite here as American Pharoah and California Chrome were before him. Instead, he’s liable to be completely overlooked. We were always going to be against him based on his pedigree, however, and if he hits the board after that disaster of an effort in his last, well, that’s gambling.

JUST OFF THE PACE

MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya/ Dixie Union), #17 Post, 12-1

97 Beyer, 262 Tomlinson 

Pros: He showed a high cruising speed running close to the pace and devouring the leaders in his stretch wins in the 8.5f Los Alamitos Futurity and the Robert Lewis over fast tracks. In the Lewis, he posted a massive Late Pace figure of 108, and had actually posted three straight double digit Late Pace numbers before the Santa Anita Derby flop. He’s a bit of a grinder that is always in the mix. He’s never finished outside of the exacta in seven career starts, so there is a lot to like in terms of his consistency. He shows a strong Dosage profile of 1.57, and his sharp work of :59.80 over the track seems to indicate Baffert is training him to be in the early mix.

Cons: Finishing 2nd in his last two races, he has seemed to lack a turn of foot or a will to win. Maybe he didn’t care for the wet surface in the Santa Anita Derby, but he plodded home in :40.0 over the final 3/8, a dreadful 76 Brisnet Late Pace figure, and that will not get it done in this race. His training at Churchill has been a bit overly eager with bizarre internal fractions and he may be closer to the pace than expected. Drawing far outside, he’ll need to be in order to avoid a wide trip.

Conclusion: It would certainly seem like poetic justice for him to win this race for his sire, who might well have been a Triple Crown winner if not sidelined from this race with an injury. We were prepared to make him our top selection had he won the Santa Anita Derby convincingly, so maybe he deserves a bit of slack given the track condition that day, although he did run well when 2nd over a sloppy Churchill track as a two year old which would seem to nullify that excuse. Still, the feeling is that he is not a flashy colt and lacks dazzle or the will to win, but could be usable underneath in superfectas.

SHAGAF (Bernardini/ Unbridled’s Song), #16 Post, 20-1

87 Beyer, 236 Tomlinson

Pros: Perhaps he deserves a bit of a pass for his horrendous 5th in the Wood Memorial considering the trip he had. His pedigree holds up well from an AWD standpoint, even if the Tomlinson leaves much to be desired. Lightly raced colt has upside potential.

Cons: Difficult to support off only four career starts given his current trajectory. He has yet to run above a 90 Beyer, and plodded home in a Wood Memorial that was already on the slow side.

Conclusion: This is a tough spot to expect the type of improvement he would need to factor here, and if we are tossing the whole Wood Memorial and he was 5th there, we have to look elsewhere.

LANI (Tapit/ Sunday Silence) #8 Post, 30-1

83 Beyer Equivalent, 278 Tomlinson

Pros: UAE Derby winner will ship from Dubai and is very well-bred, with highly competitive Dosage and AWD numbers. He figures to be placed tactically.

Cons: It goes without saying, but Dubai shippers have not historically had much success in this race, with a 5th place finish by Master of Hounds the highest to date, and with many more off the board well beyond that. They’re always a bit of a mystery, but if his Beyer equivalent is to be believed, he is many lengths behind this group, and that’s in a slow year to boot. He has not looked good at all over the track and did not even care to finish his 6f work last week.

Conclusion: The pedigree, especially on the bottom is intriguing enough to justify inclusion on the bottom of the deepest of superfecta tickets, but not much more. The day a horse from Dubai wins or even hits the board in the Kentucky Derby, we will have ticket confetti.

MAJESTO (Tiznow/ Unaccounted For) #18 Post, 30-1

89 Beyer, 364 Tomlinson

Pros: His daddy is one of our all-time favorites, and his Tomlinson Distance Figure is tops in the field. He ran close to the pace when 2nd in the Florida Derby and managed to come home reasonably behind Nyquist, missing the favorite by just 3.25 lengths and galloping out ahead of him. If Nyquist is considered such a likely winner by some here, then this guy stands a chance to make an impact as well, considering he is far better bred for the distance. It bears mention that at a shorter distance (8.5f), his Late Pace figure of 109 when breaking his maiden is tied for second highest in the field.

Cons: Not only has he not cracked the triple digit Beyer threshold, he hasn’t even broken 90. He took five races to break his maiden, unable to accomplish such as a juvenile, and has only one career win. After Mohaymen stopped running in the Florida Derby, somebody had to finish second. It simply was not a fast race.

Conclusion: He is interesting from a pedigree standpoint for sure, and it bears mention that even though he shows only one win in six career starts, that five of those races have been around two turns. Still, if we’re playing against Nyquist, then we’re playing against Majesto as well. Those who think Nyquist is a sure fire winner should use him in exactas, however, as top Tomlinson has usually been one of our favorite angles.

STALKERS

GUN RUNNER (Candy Ride/ Giant’s Causeway) #5 Post, 10-1

91 Beyer, 261 Tomlinson

Pros: His pedigree is among our favorites in the entire field, and his field-low Dosage number adds support to this opinion (1.25). He should only improve with the added distance. He has enough tactical speed to stay near the leaders and make a winning move late in the race, as he shows a competitive Brisnet Late Pace figure in a field fairly devoid of closing punch (98), and came home his final 1/8 in :12.94 in his last. He descends from the Mr. Prospector sire line, which has won 13 of the last 24 Kentucky Derbys. He is one of only two colts in the field to post ascending Brisnet Speed figures in each race of his career. He has a win over the track, having broken his maiden at Churchill. He may have drawn the very best of all, somehow getting four deep closers all inside of him, and should enjoy a ground-saving mid-pack trip if he wants it.

Cons: Enters off a six week layoff since his Louisiana Derby win. No horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby straight from the Louisiana Derby, and only one, Animal Kingdom, has ever won it off a six week layoff. He’s light in terms of Beyer numbers, with a career high of just 91, although this is somewhat at odds with his higher Brisnet (100, recently revised down) and Equibase (105) figures. He has a tendency to veer towards the rail once he loses a target in front of him, but he has had six weeks to mature and gain professionalism since his last race.

Conclusion: The star of the Fairgrounds show takes a bit of a step up in class here having not beaten a lot there, but looks like the value of the race to our eyes. In fact, Gun Runner has only a single negative, his Beyer numbers. It is rare for speed figures to be at such odds with each other; usually even if the numbers are different, they still confirm the same thing. He has the right running style and pedigree to win this race, and is very useable on top and in outright wagers. Perhaps our favorite angle is the ascending Bris figures, and the layoff should ensure a fresh horse that is less of a bounce risk off his last, ready to take another step forward. One of two that we believe can win.

EXAGGERATOR (Curlin/ Vindication) #11 Post, 8-1

103 Beyer, 238 Tomlinson

Pros: Son of Curlin is the closest descendant of Mr. Prospector in the field (great grandsire). He enters with great foundation off nine career starts and having won as a two year old, and we are fans of how he campaigned leading up to this race, tuning up with a sprint and then running twice around two turns. His dominating Santa Anita Derby win over a sloppy track earned field high Beyer and Brisnet figures for the 9f distance (103, 102), and he’s also the only colt in the field to post four consecutive triple digit Brisnet figures; by any reasonable measure, he’s the fastest colt in the field in terms of figures. He demonstrated an impressive turn of foot in that race as he blew by the leaders around the turn, the type of move that wins Derbys, and posted a respectable Brisnet Late Pace figure of 98. He has now won on three different tracks, and this would be a fourth.

Cons: Since he had won as a two year old over a sloppy track as well, there is validity to the argument that he may have benefited from the off-going at Santa Anita, which he will probably not see at Churchill. While his move was visually impressive, his come home times were not, as he finished his last 3/8 in :38.09 and his last furlong in :13.36. On the flip side, the slop and the fact that he was not fully extended may have had a say in those fractions as well. He has lost to the favored Nyquist in all three of their meetings. The Tomlinson number is well below where you would want it to be to pick him for the win, as only Giacomo has ever won with a lower number (215), and there are some distance concerns based upon the bottom of his pedigree (6.9 AWD).

Conclusion: He’s been our Derby pick since last fall, and nothing about his Santa Anita Derby performance leads us to jump off now. The truth is that the progeny of Curlin have shown a tendency to develop late and improve rapidly, just as the sire himself did. Both Palace Malice and Keen Ice won Grade I races later in their three year old seasons. While the slop certainly didn’t hurt Exaggerator in his last, this space feels it is highly likely that he is simply experiencing a similar sort of move forward. His campaign has been perfectly planned, having run a 7f prep as a sharpener before stretching out to 8.5 and then 9f. The pick, wet or dry.

OSCAR NOMINATED (Kitten’s Joy/ Theatrical), #7 Post, 50-1

82 Beyer, 355 Tomlinson

Pros: Came home in field best fractions (:37.29 and :12.38) when winning the Sprial for the Ramsey connections, but that of course was on a synthetic surface and into a plodding pace of 1:13.70 up front. His breeding shows mostly turf influences, but in terms of the distance itself, that shouldn’t be a problem based on pedigree, and his is actually the best AWD composite in the field.

Cons: In seven career races, he’s contested strictly turf and synthetic surfaces, never racing on dirt. Only one horse has ever won this race without previously running on dirt (Animal Kingdom in 2011), and his works over the track have not caught clockers’ attention the way that one’s did. His career best Beyer of 82 is well below the competition here and virtually eliminates him, unless there is some reason to believe he will improve massively with the surface switch that we are missing entirely.

Conclusion: Of course Ramsey is going to run him here because he can, but this is not the right spot for this colt, who should be a complete non-factor.

WHITMORE (Pleasantly Perfect/ Scat Daddy) #10 Post, 20-1

92 Beyer, 264 Tomlinson

Pros: He had a rough trip when 3rd in his last in the Arkansas Derby, and his running style suggests he possesses a turn of a foot he is waiting to unleash under the right circumstances.

Cons: He has yet to win a two turn race, and his speed figures are well below the best here. His pedigree numbers are somewhat mixed, with classic influences on top but more of a miler pedigree underneath. There are certainly others that scream “10f horse” more than this one does, and the fact that he’s lost ground in the stretch of his last three races, two at 8.5f and one at 9f, may indicate he is more of a miler.

Conclusion: Some like his chances a great deal more than we do. Perhaps it is the Scat Daddy association, which has been a wise play against every time. He just appears very middling in this group. In a race this wide open, he has every right to hit the board with an improved effort, but there are others we like a bit more for exotics wagers.

TOM’S READY (More Than Ready/ Broad Brush) #12 Post, 30-1

85 Beyer, 322 Tomlinson

Pros: He doesn’t have a lot of red flags outside of the fact that he hasn’t run fast yet. He did lose ground in the stretch when 2nd in what on paper appears to have been a slowly run Louisiana Derby, but criteria such as pedigree and closing ability seem average enough.

Cons: He was handily beaten by 4.5 lengths when 2nd in the Louisiana Derby, and shows just one win in eight starts. Having not run higher than an 85 Beyer, his speed figures are among the lowest in the field. He has only one career win, and only Giacomo has won this race in the last quarter century with such a profile.

Conclusion: Dallas Stewart colts like Golden Soul and Commanding Curve have crashed Derby exactas in recent years with similar profiles that don’t appear to stack up, so he can’t be dismissed completely, but the feeling is that we are due for some mean reversion…meaning this time, he’s finally off the board.

CLOSERS

CREATOR (Tapit/ Privately Held) #3 Post, 10-1

96 Beyer, 356 Tomlinson

Pros: Showed an explosive stretch kick when winning the Arkansas Derby in his last, coming home impressively for his final 3/8 and 1/8 (:37.91, :12.64). Along with that final 1/8 time, his Brisnet Late Pace figure of 101 is tops in the field for 9f, and he showed ascending pace figures at each stage of the race; there is every reason to believe he is the field’s strongest closer based on the numbers. His pedigree data is very strong, mostly thanks to the bottom, which is laden with international classic winners. Sons of Tapit have never been our favorite plays in races beyond 9f, but that all went out the window with Tonalist. He has a win over the track, having broken his maiden at Churchill.

Cons: He took six races to break his maiden, and would be the first horse to ever win the Derby having broken his maiden in February. The 96 Beyer he posted in winning the Arkansas Derby was his career high. He has a lot of races under his belt and this is a quick turnaround. And, he did get a bit of a weight break against his rivals in his last, and will move up from 118 to 126 in the Derby.

Conclusion: It depends on how rapidly improving one believes this colt is and how tired he will be wheeling back on three weeks rest. He does show the least red flags in the field, as only his Beyer figure is well below the mean of an average Derby winner. If he can take another step forward equal to his last, then that goes out the window, and there is very little to hold against him in this spot. Leave the best closer in the field off your tickets at your peril.

MY MAN SAM (Trappe Shot/ Arch), #6 Post, 20-1

95 Beyer, 283 Tomlinson

Pros: Lightly raced son of Trappe Shot ran on well to be 2nd in the Blue Grass in just his fourth career start, and had already paired 90+ Beyers before that. His final 1/8 time of :12.65 is tied for the fastest in the field, and he shows every indication of a colt that is begging for more ground, especially in a long stretch like Churchill. The post draw is great, as he can drop back and save ground.

Cons: While there is room to improve, he enters this race still light on speed figures relative to the top candidates, and actually regressed from the 95 Beyer he ran two starts back in an allowance race back to an 88 in the Blue Grass. The Derby is a difficult race to win with so little foundation; he has just four starts under his belt, which only 2 such winners in the last 98 years have had; he enters without a win as a juvenile and with only one win, a profile which only 3 of the last 25 winners have shown. His pedigree is a bit mixed, with sprint influences on top and strong distance influences underneath. His sire AWD of 6.6 is the 2nd lowest in the field.

Conclusion: His inexperience makes him tough to play on the top line, although he may have as much upside as any of these runners, and since his speed figures appear to be his lone negative, those confident of improvement will find a lot to like. He appears very playable as an outright wager and underneath in exactas and trifectas, as he will most certainly be running on late.

MO TOM (Uncle Mo/ Rubiano), #4 Post, 20-1

87 Beyer, 209 Tomlinson

Pros: He’s one of just two colts in the field to show ascending Brisnet Speed Figures in each of his seven career races, and he’s done so with tremendously bad racing luck, having been checked badly in the stretch in each of his last two outings. This makes his true ability somewhat of a mystery. He’s the only runner in the field with a stakes win at Churchill.

Cons: The pedigree data is somewhat mixed, with the field’s 2nd lowest Tomlinson paired with a strong Dosage number. That’s what you get with all of these Uncle Mos, but we are hesitant to assume his progeny will excel as distances get longer considering he was a dynamite miler but limited beyond that. His closing style is somewhat perplexing to begin with, and we will learn in time, with eventual clean trips, whether he’s better closing at 8f or 10f. Whether he gets that here, with a post that is again near the rail where he tends to find trouble, remains to be seen.

Conclusion: His Beyer numbers are low, but it’s tough to hold those against him considering the trips he’s had in his last three races. The Tomlinson is a huge historical red flag, but one must remember when weighing all of these Uncle Mos that the sample size is very small for this data, this being his first crop. Of course, any deep closer is going to depend on racing luck, especially in this race, so either he is due for some or he is simply the type of horse that always finds his way into trouble. The question isn’t whether he will be coming late, it is simply whether he is fast enough, which makes him interesting on the bottom of trifectas, but difficult to support any higher than that.

BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway/ Sahm) #19 Post, 12-1

91 Beyer, 332 Tomlinson

Pros: He bounced back from his Tampa Bay Derby fiasco by winning the Blue Grass with authority, and enters this race third off the lay, which is a great spot to be in the form cycle. Closer is well bred for this distance, showing Dosage, Tomlinson and AWD numbers that are among the field’s best, and all above the mean for an average Derby winner. He has a win over the track, having broken his maiden at Churchill, and has looked great training over it.

Cons: All of his best races have come at Keeneland, and even as visually impressive as his Blue Grass win was, it didn’t come back very fast in terms of speed figures. He would need a huge jump forward from that effort to win. While his late punch appears to be his best asset, there are several others in this field that show better Brisnet Late Pace numbers.

Conclusion: We’re willing to completely toss his flat Tampa Bay Derby; perhaps he needed that race off the layoff or he simply didn’t take to the notoriously finicky track there. But you do have to wonder about his consistency. His speed figures don’t inspire much confidence in him as a win contender, but given his running style and pedigree, he is highly playable in exactas and trifectas, and if we like Exaggerator to win and this one has beaten him twice, he is certainly in the conversation.

SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft/ Afleet Alex) #2 Post, 20-1

94 Beyer, 359 Tomlinson

Pros: That pedigree is astonishing. Talk about a horse bred for the distance, with Grade I winners at 10-12f in his immediate family. We will overlook his rather high Dosage number of 4.20 in favor of common sense. He ran his best career race last out when stretching out to 9f, while at a 4 pound weight disadvantage to the winner, and should only get better with the extra panel here. His Brisnet Late Pace figure of 98 stacks up well among these. He turned in a sharp sub-60 second 5f work training up to this, and adds equipment called a shadow roll, which sounds pretty badass.

Cons: His running style could leave him with too much to do late in this race, as he hasn’t started his move soon enough when beaten in his last two, and while he could save ground from his inside post he has to be careful to not get buried on the rail behind a curtain of horses. With middling speed figures, perhaps he simply isn’t fast enough to make an impact.

Conclusion: One thing is for sure, he’ll be flying late. Whether he has enough speed to hit the board is anyone’s guess, and how far back he is at the quarter pole will likely dictate his fate, but we can’t look away from that pedigree. Seems very logical for the bottom spots in exotics, and although there are other closers here that we like slightly more, the feeling is that if you are using Creator, he has to be used as well.

TROJAN NATION (Street Cry/ Summer Squall) #1 Post, 50-1

93 Beyer, 304 Tomlinson

Pros: He is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line, and from a pedigree standpoint, shouldn’t struggle much with the distance.

Cons: He’s the lone maiden in the field, and had never even finished 2nd before coming out of the clouds to get there on the rail in a very slow edition of the Wood Memorial. As impressive as his closing move appeared visually in that race, it actually doesn’t stack up at all with the best closers here in terms of fractions of Late Pace figures. He draws the dreaded #1 Post, although given his running style, it shouldn’t make that much of a difference in his finish.

Conclusion: The feeling is that his 2nd in the Wood is more an indictment of that race than anything else. He should be flying late and could improve enough to manage a finish in the top half of the field if the race implodes up front, but anything more than that is a stretch. The Kentucky Derby is a rough spot for a maiden.

Picks:

  1. Exaggerator
  2. Gun Runner
  3. Creator
  4. Brody’s Cause
  5. My Man Sam
  6. Nyquist
  7. Suddenbreakingnews
  8. Mo Tom
  9. Mor Spirit
  10. Destin
  11. Majesto
  12. Mohaymen
  13. Tom’s Ready
  14. Whitmore
  15. Oscar Nominated
  16. Trojan Nation
  17. Outwork
  18. Shagaf
  19. Lani
  20. Danzing Candy

How To Bet $100 On The Kentucky Derby:

$10 Win, $20 To Place on EXAGGERATOR

$20 To Place on GUN RUNNER

$2 Exacta Box: EXAGGERTOR, GUN RUNNER, CREATOR, BRODY’S CAUSE ($24)

$0.50 Trifecta Part Wheel: EXAGGERATOR, GUN RUNNER/ EXAGGERATOR, GUN RUNNER, CREATOR, BRODY’S CAUSE, MY MAN SAM/ EXAGGERATOR, GUN RUNNER, CREATOR, BRODY’S CAUSE, MY MAN SAM, NYQUIST, SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS, MO TOM ($24)

$1 Superfecta: EXAGGERATOR, GUN RUNNER/ EXAGGERATOR, GUN RUNNER/ CREATOR/ BRODY’S CAUSE ($2)

The Most Astounding Sports Moments of My Lifetime

Posted April 11, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

In the aftermath of that amazing National Championship battle between Villanova and North Carolina, I got to thinking about what a spectacular thing it is when moments like that occur in sports. It truly is the greatest unscripted drama available on the planet. This is my 37th year on Earth, so I decided to take a look back on the 37 moments in sports that were the most memorable, meaningful and astounding over that time, the types of moments that make you remember exactly where you were and who you were with when they happened. In compiling this list, I took into account not only the unpredictability of the events, but also their significance. 

#37: Buster Douglas Knocks Out Mike Tyson (1990)

People forget how truly invincible Tyson was during this time period. Douglas came into this fight as a huge underdog; odds in Vegas were 42-1. This wasn’t a horse race with some ten other contenders entered, this was a fight between two people, and he was 42-1. Just think about that for a moment. Still, he wore down Tyson throughout the fight and eventually delivered an uppercut followed by four quick punches in the 10th round that knocked out the champ. This wasn’t a decision, Douglas actually knocked Tyson unconcious in this stunner. 

 

#36: Kerri Strug Vaults US To Gold On One Leg (1998)

This was the perfect example of unscripted drama. With the US Women’s Gymnastics team holding a narrow lead over the favored Russians heading into the final rotation on vault, the team began to falter. Strug fell and injured her ankle on her first vault, and since teammate Dominique Moceanu had fallen as well, Strug needed to land one final vault in order to clinch the gold. In a gritty effort, she landed the vault on one leg before saluting the judges and collapsing in pain, which was enough to secure the first ever Women’s Gymnastics gold for the US. 

#35: Bryce Drew Upsets Ole Miss (1998)

The #13 seeded Valparaiso Crusaders trailed the #4 seed Ole Miss by two points with just 2.5 seconds left and had the ball underneath their opponent’s basket. Inbounder Jamie Sykes threw a baseball pass beyond the half court line, which Bill Jenkins quickly caught and passed in one motion to a trailing Bryce Drew, who drilled a three for the win. This play is remembered less for its significance than it is for its impeccable execution and situational difficulty, as well as the fact that the underdog hero Drew was coached by his father Homer. 

#34: U.S. Reed Beats The Buzzer From Halfcourt (1980)

Until 2016, this was the only half-court buzzer beater in NCAA Tournament history. Trailing defending champion Louisville by two points after the Cardinals had hit a go ahead bucket with five seconds left, U.S. Reed let fly a desperation heave from midcourt that hit nothing but the bottom of the net as time expired, and Arkansas prevailed by one. 

#33: Northern Iowa Half Court Bank Shot, Northern Iowa Blows 12 Point Lead in Final 44 Seconds (2016)

These two events deserve to be paired together, as they occurred less than 48 hours apart, and such a juxtaposition of good luck and bad luck against two teams from the same state is almost impossible to comprehend. The first game was a back and forth affair against Texas. Trailing by two and with ten seconds remaining, the Longhorns drove into the lane and tied the game with a runner, and overtime appeared imminent. But with just 2.7 seconds left on the clock, Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson launched a half-court prayer that banked in for a most improbable win. Two nights later, Northern Iowa led favored Texas A&M by 12 points with 44 seconds left, a 99.99% win probability. Nevertheless, a series of incredibly ill-advised decisions as the Aggies pressured the in-bounds passes led to a double overtime loss. Mathematically speaking, this has to be considered the greatest collapse in the history of the tournament, if all of sports

#32: Christian Watford Beats Kentucky (2011)

This game may not seem as significant to those outside of Hoosier Nation since this was non-tournament game played in December. But for these young Hoosiers and their legion of fans, this was the game that turned the entire program around, and arguably prevented arch rival Kentucky from an undefeated season, which would have unseated the 1976 Hoosiers as the last to do so. It is easy to forget after all of the hoopla regarding the 2015 Wildcats that this was actually the superior unit, and had Christian Watford’s trailing buzzer beater not gone in on this night, Kentucky may well have been more focused in their only other loss before winning it all, the SEC Championship to Vanderbilt.

#31: Spurs Meltdown in NBA Finals (2013)

With a 3-2 series lead in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Miami, the Spurs found themselves up 5 with 28 seconds left. A series of events that included a LeBron James three and a Kawhi Leonard missed free throw gave the Heat one last shot to tie the game in the closing seconds. James missed the three this time, but Chris Bosh came up with a huge offensive rebound and passed to the sharp-shooter Ray Allen, who drained a corner three with 5.2 seconds remaining to tie the game. The Heat won in overtime, and took Game 7 to win the Championship two nights later. 

#30: Adam Vinatieri Kicks Super Bowl Winning Field Goal (2002)

As pressure situations go, I’ve always been of the opinion that field goal kickers have the most thankless job imaginable. To me, it seems infinitely more difficult to kick a ball into the air and through an elevated goal from 100+ feet away than it is to knock down a free throw with the game on the line. Vinatieri’s 48 yard field goal as time expired gave the Patriots their first Super Bowl in 2002, beginning somewhat of a dynasty for the franchise. Two years later, he made one from 41 yards in the same situation, and to this day is the only kicker to be the deciding factor in two Super Bowls. 

#29: Luis Gonzalez World Series Walk-Off Single (2001)

The Arizona Diamondbacks became a franchise in 1997, and it didn’t take long for them to earn their first championship, thanks to this amazing upset against the far more history-rich New York Yankees. The usually invincible Mariano Rivera was unable to hold a 2-1 lead in the 9th inning after surrendering a double to Tony Womack. Eventually Luis Gonzalez came to the plate with the bases loaded, and lofted a softly hit blooper over Derek Jeter’s head and into the outfield for the walk-off Game 7 win. Inconceivable. 

#28: Kordell Stewart Hail Mary Pass to Michael Westbrook in the Big House (1994)

An epic pre-conference battle between #4 Michigan and #7 Colorado ended in thrilling fashion when trailing 26-21 with enough time for just a single play, Buffaloes quarterback Kordell Stewart launched a 64-yard desperation pass into the end zone. The pass was deflected by receiver Blake Anderson and into the hands of Michael Westbrook, who secured it for the soul-crushing win in the Big House. I watched this game with a Michigan fan who was reduced to tears by the outcome. 

#27: Michael Phelps Beats Cavic For 7th Gold Medal (2008)

What made this race so memorable wasn’t necessarily that Phelps won it, but rather the way that he won it and its significance. Rival Serbian Milorad Cavic held a massive 0.62 second lead over Phelps at the halfway mark, but Phelps dug in and closed the gap steadily towards the finish. Cavic attempted to coast into the wall while Phelps took an extra half stroke, and the two appeared to touch the wall at the exact same time. The official results showed that Phelps touched the wall 0.01 second sooner, giving him the gold. Despite a Serbian protest and a bit of controversy, the result was upheld, and Phelps earned his 7th gold medal of the Beijing games, tying Mark Spitz’s record, and allowing him to set a new one when he won his 8th a night later with the 4 x 100 Medley Relay Team. Phelps swam the butterfly leg. 

#26: Brandi Chastian Wins Women’s World Cup For USA (1999)

In a captivating moment that both elevated interest women’s sports in general and brought soccer to the forefront of national pride, Brandi Chastain scored the fifth kick in a penalty shootout over China to give the US its first World Cup. In an act of “momentary insanity”, Chastain ripped off her jersey and collapsed to her knees in a black sports bra, an image that became iconic in the aftermath.

#25: Mario Chalmers Ties The National Championship (2008)

In a classic example of why it’s important to hit your free throws, Memphis held a 9 point lead with 2:12 to play in the National Championship, but couldn’t seal the deal. They missed four of five free throws to end the game, and Kansas miraculously found themselves down just 3 with the ball and 10.8 seconds remaining. Point guard Sherron Collins nearly threw the ball away, but a cutting Mario Chalmers corraled it and nailed an ice-cold three to tie the game. The Jayhawks rode this momentum to absolutely obliterate the Tigers in overtime in route to their third National Championship. 

#24: Reggie Miller Scores Eight Points In Nine Seconds (1995)

The intense rivalry between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers felt almost like a rite of spring for the better part of the 1990s, and this was its defining event. Trailing by six with 18 seconds remaining in Madison Square Garden, the Pacers inbounded to Reggie Miller, who promptly knocked down a quick three to cut the lead in half. Miller then stole the in bounds pass, and instead of driving to the hoop, actually gathered himself and ran back behind the perimeter, turned and buried another three to tie the game. The Pacers made a mistake to foul John Starks on the in bounds pass, but Starks choked and missed both free throws. Miller rebounded after Patrick Ewing failed to convert on an offensive rebound, and was fouled in the process, and then sank both free throws to seal the win. The game is remembered not only for this shocking comeback, but for the energy created by the constant trash talk between Miller and Spike Lee, who was seated courtside. 

#23: Vince Young Scrambles to Win National Championship (2006)
 

In what is widely considered the greatest game in College Football history, Texas beat two-time defending AP champion USC, who entered the game on a 34-game winning streak. Trailing 38-32 and facing a 4th and 5 from the USC 9 yard line late in the game, quarterback Vince Young found his receivers covered and had no choice but to make a run for it. He received a crucial block from Justin Blalock and bolted into the end zone to win the National Championship. It was a fitting end to legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson’s career. 

#22: The Catch: Montana To Clark (1982)

Those old enough to actual remember this play live probably have it ranked higher than I do. In the NFC Championship, the 49ers faced a 3rd and 3 from the 6 yard line late in the game. A blown play forced quarterback Joe Montana toward the sideline as the Cowboys pass rush bore down hard. Montana pumped faked and threw and errant pass towards the back of the endzone, which receiver Dwight Clark pulled out of the sky to secure the win. Montana admitted in the aftermath that he could not see Clark, but knew where he would be. In terms of signifance, this play is remembered as a passing of the torch from Dallas to San Francisco in terms of NFC control. 

#21: Fiesta Bowl Trickery (2007)

In one of the wildest college football games ever, mid-major Boise State pulled off a shocking upset over heavyweight Oklahoma. The series of trick plays began with a hook and lateral touchdown on 4th and 18 from the 50 that tied the game and forced overtime. That play would have been amazing in and of itself, but when Boise State scored converted on 4th and 2 for what would have been another tying touchdown, head coach Chris Peterson opted to go for the jugular and lined up for a two point conversion for the win. The Broncos then ran another trick play, “The Statue of Liberty”, and with a bit of slight of hand, quarterback Jared Zabransky handed off to Ian Johnson, who raced into the endzone for the win. In the post-game interview, Johnson dropped to one knee and proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend, adding to the mass-hysteria. Besides the entertainment value provided by such unorthodox play-calling, this game is remembered as the turning point for when mid-major programs announced their arrivals as foes to be taken seriously. 

#20: Scott Norwood Wide Right (1991)

The Buffalo Bills lost their first of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances when Norwood’s 47-yard kick veered way wide right, never even providing a moment’s suspense in regard to its accuracy. Norwood had not been a successful long-range kicker and arguably took more slack than he deserved, having a career long of only 48 yards and missing all four of his other prior attempts beyond 40. In the next three years, the Bills lost the Super Bowl by 13, 35 and 17 points respectively, making this 1 point loss more and more painful for the city as time went on. Buffalo has not won a major sports championship since 1965, and this missed kick becomes more and more of a punchline for that futility as time goes on.

#19: David Ortiz Keeps Red Sox Alive (2004)

In arguably the greatest series comeback in sports history, the Boston Red Sox overcame a 3-0 ALCS deficit against the arch rival New York Yankees in route to their first World Series Championship since 1918. But before that happened, the Red Sox had to force a Game 5 as they headed to the bottom of the 9th trailing 4-3 in Game 4. Ace reliever Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar to start the inning, and pinch-runner Dave Roberts successfully stole second after three pick-off attempts by Rivera. Roberts scored to force extra innings on the subsequent single by Bill Mueller. David “Big Papi” Ortiz won the game with a two run blast in the 12th, and the rest is history. 

#18: Doug Flutie Hail Mary Beats Miami (1985)

This was a true win for the “little guy” in every sense of the word, as this miracle play both elevated underdog Boston College back to national prominence and catapulted diminutive quarterback Doug Flutie to a Heisman Trophy win. Defending champion Miami held a 45-41 lead as Boston College lined up for one final play from midfield. Flutie narrowly averted a sack and had to run backwards some 15 yards before heaving the ball into a 30 mph wind towards the end zone. The Miami secondary allowed Gerard Phelan to run behind them and the ball landed in his arms for a stunning win.

#17: Santonio Holmes Super Bowl Catch (2009)

This was a highly entertaining Super Bowl from start to finish between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. James Harrison returned an interception 100 yards at the end of the half to give the Steelers the lead, but the Cardinals stormed back on a 64 yard touchdown reception by Larry Fitzgerald to take the lead with 2:34 to play. But Big Ben Rothelisberger marched the Steelers down the field and connected with Santonio Holmes, who made an unbelievable shoestring catch in the endzone to deliver a sixth Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.

#16: American Pharoah Wins The Belmont Stakes (2015)

Fans of horse racing had been waiting since Affirmed’s 1978 campaign for a Triple Crown winner, and had suffered through 13 failed attempts since then. Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah entered the Belmont Stakes with a strong shot to break that drought off a dominating 7 length win over the slop in the Preakness. The professional, once-in-a-lifetime colt left no doubt as he won the Belmont by an authoritative 5 lengths to become the sport’s 12th Triple Crown winner and the only one of my lifetime. He also became the sport’s only Grand Slam winner later that year when he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and displayed similar dominance in doing so. 

#15: Steve Bartman Interferes With Moises Alou (2003)

The Chicago Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908 or even competed in one since 1945, but they held a 3-2 NLCS advantage at home and took a 3-0 lead into the top of the 8th inning. With one out and a man on second base, Luis Castillo hit a foul ball down the left field line. Cubs left-fielder Moises Alou attempted to make a play on the ball, but a fan named Steve Bartman who was seated on the wall reached to catch it as well, deflecting it away from Alou, who failed to secure it for the second out. Alou’s belligerent reaction in particular seemed to put the team’s chemistry out of whack immediately. Ivan Rodriguez singled to drive in a run following the Bartman play, but the Cubs still should have been out of the inning with a 3-1 lead on the next play as Miguel Cabrera hit an easy double play ball to shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Alas, Gonzalez booted the ball, and the Marlins went on to score 8 runs that inning before clinching the series at Wrigley Field in Game 7 the following night.

#14: Michael Jordan’s Last Shot As A Bull (1998)

The Chicago Bulls won their sixth World Championship in eight years as the legendary Michael Jordan sunk a deep jumper from just inside the three-point line to seal the win and cap off an incredible 45 point performance. Jordan appeared to clearly push off on Bryon Russell to create space for the shot after crossing over, but no offensive foul was called by the officials. In all seriousness, how could it have been? This was Michael Jordan, the greatest to ever play the game, hitting a championship winning shot in his final game as a Bull. That’s a “play on” 100 times out of 100. 

#13: The Band Is On The Field (1982)

I laugh out loud every single time I see this play. If this list was ranked in order of the most preposterous sports moments, this would probably be at the top. The combination of so many lateral passes (there were five) with the stunning lack of awareness of the Stanford band just created such a chaotic, hilarious conclusion to this game, which was spearheaded when Cal’s Kevin Moen barreled into Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrrell in the end zone while still carrying the football. The fact that this most unlikely series of events came in such a huge rivarly game in star quarterback John Elway’s last home game and that the loss came at the hands of the home team adds to its status as one of the most astonishing finishes in college football history. 

#12: Music City Miracle (2000)

As lateral passes go, the Stanford-Cal game was more ridiculous, but the implications of a similar play on the professional level in a playoff game no less simply hit a lot harder. Trailing 16-15 with 16 seconds left, the Tennessee Titans lined up to receive a kickoff from the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round. The Titans’ Lorenzo Neal retrieved the kick and handed it behind him to tight end Frank Wycheck, who started to scramble to his right but then stopped and threw a lateral pass across his body to Kevin Dyson, who was planted firmly on the sideline. Dyson then ran 75 yards into the end zone to deliver a shocking home victory. 

#11: Kirk Gibson Pinch-Hit Home Run In World Series (1988)

In Game 1 of the World Series, injured NL MVP Kirk Gibson entered the game as a pinch-hitter as the Dodgers trailed the Oakland A’s 4-3 with two outs and one man on in the bottom of the 9th. AL save leader Dennis Eckersley was on the mound for Oakland, and quickly put Gibson in an 0-2 hole. After looking at three balls to bring the count to full, Gibson was looking for a backdoor slider based on a scouting report he had been provided on Eckersley. Gibson got that exact pitch, and when he did, he crushed it over the right field wall and won the game for the Dodgers. The image of Gibson limping around the bases and giving two distinctive fist pumps became an iconic one. Gibson would not make another plate appearance for the rest of the series, but the Dodgers rode the Game 1 momentum to capture the World Series in five games. 

#10: Keith Smart Shot (1987)

In what was one of the most entertaining, back and forth Championship Games of all time, Syracuse really had no excuse to lose this game, but they couldn’t hit their free throws down the stretch, and this enabled Keith Smart to score the last six points for the Hoosiers, which was enough to deliver a fifth National Championship. Howard Triche went 1 of 2 on a trip to the line late and Derrick Coleman missed the front end of a 1 and 1 that the Orangemen strangely did not line up to rebound, and the Hoosiers found themselves down 1 with the ball and 28 seconds remaining. Indiana wisely held for the last shot, and as Smart threw a jump pass inside to forward Daryl Thomas, he paused briefly before cutting sharply to receive the give and go, and knocked down a baseline jumper while still in motion. Syracuse was so shell-shocked that they failed to call time out, leaving just one second on the clock, and not enough time to run a designed play. (Big East Homer Billy Packer is so upset that Syracuse lost that he can’t even focus on the shot itself).

 

#9: Bill Buckner’s Error (1986)

Before the 2004 team finally reversed the curse, this was the play that buried the hopes of the entire franchise in the wake of the Championship drought that lingered since the 1918 season and the parting of ways with Babe Ruth. With the Red Sox leading the World Series 3-2 against the Mets, they entered the bottom of the 10th inning with a 2 run lead and a championship in sight. However, three straight two out singles allowed the Mets to tie the game again. Mookie Wilson then hit a slow roller down the first base line that Bill Buckner badly misplayed, as the ball rolled to the left of his glove and through his legs, allowing the winning run to score. The Mets would win Game 7 and the World Series, and Buckner was absolutely lampooned as the scapegoat for what became the most significant error in Major League history. 

#8: Patriots Goal-Line Interception (2015)

In a wild, emotional roller-coaster of a game, the Patriots overcame a 10 point second half deficit to take a 28-24 lead on a Tom Brady pass to Julian Edelman with 2:02 left to play. With time winding down on Seattle, quarterback Russell Wilson threw a deep pass to Jermaine Kearse, which was tipped but eventually caught by the receiver while he was laying on his back in an incredible turn of events. Marshawn Lynch ran the ball just short of the goal line on the next play, and the Seahawks appeared to be in business, sitting on 2nd down and goal inside the 1 yard line. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll opted for a risky slant pass play despite having one of the league’s best backs in Lynch at his disposal, but New England was ready for it, and cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front of the pass and picked it off on the goal line, sealing the Super Bowl win for the Patriots. The play-call was the subject of endless debate and is widely regarded as one of the worst decisions in NFL history. 

#7: Joe Carter World Series Walk-Off Home Run (1993)

Walk-Off home runs are a rare enough thing in an ordinary baseball game (about 2% of games end this way), let alone on the sport’s biggest stage, and this is the only time one has resulted in a World Series win in my lifetime. The Toronto Blue Jays led the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in the 1993 World Series, but trailed Game 6 by a score of 6-5 heading into the bottom of the 9th. Phillies closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams began the inning by walking Rickey Henderson, and then gave up a single to Paul Molitor. With one out, Joe Carter sent a low, inside pitch from Williams to deep left field off a 2-2 count. It left the stadium and brought home the Championship to Toronto for a second consecutive year.

#6: Miracle On Ice (1980)

Those older than me or that may be bigger hockey fans than me will probably have this higher, but I can certainly appreciate its significance, especially in the Cold War era. In the 1980 Winter Olympics, the US knocked off the Soviets, who had won 6 of the previous 7 gold medals, in the semifinal round, scoring two goals in the final period for a 4-3 comeback win. It is hard to quantify the enormity of this upset, but it is widely considered one of the largest in sports history, somewhere along the lines of what at 16 seed beating a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament would be considered, if it ever happens. A long-lasting source of national pride, this win lives on through Al Michaels’ immortal call, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” The US would go on to win the gold medal. 

#5: NC State Alley-Oop For The National Championship (1983)

This was a classic David vs. Goliath matchup, as the fearsome Phi Slamma Jamma talent of Houston was far superior to the 6th seeded Wolfpack. But NC State stuck to the game plan, and found themselves in position to hold for the last shot in a tie game. Houston applied intense pressure and NC State nearly turned the ball over twice. The second time, Charlie Wittingham overplayed the dribble to avoid the steal to such an extent that he found himself well beyond his range as time ran down, and had no choice but to throw up a desperation heave. He left it well short and Houston, presumably believing they were heading to overtime, had no one near the basket. The Wolfpack’s Lorenzo Charles grabbed the airball and slammed it home as time expired to win a most improbably championship, and one of the greatest upsets in sports history. 

#4: Marcus Paige and Kris Jenkins Trade Buzzer Beaters (2016)

There’s no telling how the last ten seconds of this year’s National Championship will be viewed in time, but even while still as fresh as it is, it is undeniably the greatest moment of my lifetime in a title game. It gets the edge over the NC State win simply because it featured two incredible last second shots rather than one. After a courageous comeback from a 10 point deficit following the under four minute timeout, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an unbelievable three to tie the game, having to jump awkwardly and hang into the air after Villanova big man Daniel Ochefu made a desperation dive for the ball. With 4.7 seconds left and the game tied, all eyes turned to Villanova senior point guard Ryan Arcidiacano, who everyone in the building had to believe would take the final shot. However, he did what seniors do after realizing he had dribbled into double coverage, and found a trailing Kris Jenkins, who knocked down a wide open three from NBA range at the buzzer to bring Villanova its first championship since 1985. 

#3: David Tyree Helmet Couch in Super Bowl (2008)

The significance of this phenomenal upset cannot be understated. The 2007 New England Patriots entered the Super Bowl with an undefeated record and looked to achieve the first perfect season since the 1973 Miami Dolphins. But the stout defense of the New York Giants frustrated Tom Brady and company all night, and kept the game close in a low scoring affair. Trailing 14-10 late in the game, Eli Manning was forced out of the pocket and all but sacked on 3rd and 5 and threw up a prayer pass which David Tyree caught against his helmet as he fell backwards for the first down. New York scored on the following play and dealt New England a crushing defeat, the likes of which the city of Boston will probably never get over. 

#2: Iron Bowl Kick Six (2013)

What makes sports so amazing is that it has the ability to create scenarios that were previously unimaginable. When something happens that no one has ever seen before, that is when you realize you have witnessed something truly astounding. When Chris Davis returned a missed Alabama field goal 100 yards to win the game, many football fans watching the game may have been unaware that such a return was even possible in terms of the rules. This game had it all. The rivalry aspect, the significance aspect (Auburn earned the right to advance to the SEC Championship and subsequently, the National Championship) and the element of astonishment to a superhuman degree. But what many forget is that such a finish never should have happened to begin with, which adds to the irony of it all. In a moment of weakness, Alabama head coach Nick Saban got greedy and made a giant error. The game was heading to overtime, but Saban wanted one second put back on the clock, and after a review, the officials agreed. Kicking a 57 yard field goal in that situation was a pretty bad decision from a risk/ return standpoint, but it gave us what I believe was the most astounding moment in the history of the sport. 

#1: The Laettner Shot (1992)

It may be controversial to place this at the top of the list ahead of game winning shots in National Championship games since this was merely a regional final. But consider the following: This was probably the greatest college basketball game ever played even before Christian Laettner hit the shot. These were two blue blood programs, one of which was the defending champion, and both had scored triple digits in back and forth fashion. Also consider the difficulty of the final shot relative to the other games on this list. Grant Hill had to throw a perfect baseball pass across halfcourt to the free line to Laettner, who Kentucky had to know was going to get the ball if Duke had it their way. Then, Laettner had the composure and presence of mind to realize he had enough time to take a dribble and get his feet set after he caught the ball. He drilled the jumper from behind the free throw line to complete a perfect 10-10 shooting performance, and pandemonium ensued. Duke went on to win the title, one of only two repeat champions during my lifetime.