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2019 GR1 TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC BETTING CHEAT SHEET


The Road to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships makes a stop at one of racing’s premier venues this Saturday for Del Mar’s signature race, the $1 million, Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes. With the winner getting an all-expenses-paid “Win and you’re in” ticket into November’s Breeder’s Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

This year’s 29th running of the Pacific Classic drew a competitive 10-horse field highlighted by the 1-2 finishers of the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes in June, Seeking the Soul and Quip.

Whether you want to gamble a few bucks on the race or you just want the scoop on this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2019 TVG.COM Pacific Classic Betting Cheat Sheet.

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1. War Story (8-1)

Jockey: Tiago Pereira

Trainer: Jorge Navarro

Owners: Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis

Career record: 35 starts – 7 wins – 6 seconds – 5 thirds

Career earnings: $2,885,305

Earnings per start: $82,437

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 124

Pedigree: Northern Afleet – Belle Watling, by Pulpit

Colour: Chestnut

Age: 7

Notable achievements and interesting facts: War Story was a rising star on the Kentucky Derby trail back in 2015, but ever since running 16th in the 141st run for the roses he’s built a career as a lunch-pail racehorse capable of grabbing purse shares in lucrative races (such as earning a total of $900,000 for finishing fifth and 10th in the first two runnings of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational). He returns to Del Mar for the third time on Saturday, and will look to repeat his good fourth-place showing in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic, won by Gun Runner, rather than his seventh-place finish in the 2016 Pacific Classic, won by California Chrome. War Story comes in off of a win July 20 in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Monmouth Cup Stakes, where he out finished Bal Harbour to win by a head. That effort indicates that even as he prepares to make his 36th career start, War Story still has the will to compete, and although his win chances are slim in the Pacific Classic, he’s shown more than enough ability throughout his career to merit strong consideration as a trifecta and superfecta filler. California-based jockey Tiago Pereira will ride War Story for the first time Saturday.


2. Quip (9-2)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Rodolphe Brisset

Owners: WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing

Career record: 9 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,054,100

Earnings per start: $117,122

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Distorted Humor – Princess Ash, by Indian Charlie

Colour: Bay

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This talented racehorse ships in from points East to try for an elusive Grade 1 win, and he’ll face off again with Seeking the Soul. Both exit the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 15, when Quip duelled with classy Tom’s d’Etat for most of the 1 1/8-mile race and put that foe away in the final furlong but then could not withstand Seeking the Soul’s late charge and lost by a neck. Quip won the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in his start prior to the Stephen Foster in a game effort, and prior to that, he ran third in his 2019 debut in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park after a nine-month layoff. At age 3, Quip won the Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and finished a good second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby before disappointing in the Preakness Stakes. Based on that impressive two-year record, there’s an aura of untapped potential surrounding this colt that suggests a Grade 1 victory is well within his ability. The main concern with Quip is distance, as he’s been unable to finish the deal in two of his three starts at 1 1/8 miles despite good tries in both the Arkansas Derby and Stephen Foster, and he only won the Oaklawn Handicap by a neck. Still, Quip has shown plenty of fight throughout his career and figures to be near the early lead and battling all the way into midstretch under Florent Geroux, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Gun Runner at Del Mar in 2017. This is the first Pacific Classic start for both Geroux and trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Co-owner WinStar Farm campaigned 2008 Pacific Classic runner-up Well Armed.


3. Pavel (7-2)

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owner: Reddam Racing

Career record: 17 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $2,090,000

Earnings per start: $122,941

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 117

Pedigree: Creative Cause – Mons Venus, by Maria’s Mon

Colour: Gray or roan

Age: 5

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last year’s Pacific Classic runner-up returns for another try on the heels of a decent third-place finish behind Preservationist and Catholic Boy in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes July 6 at Belmont Park. He’s been training steadily at Del Mar since then for Doug O’Neill and, on the positive side, won’t face a monster like 2018 winner Accelerate in this year’s edition of the Pacific Classic. On the other hand, he has not visited the winner’s circle since taking the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap in June 2018 — easily his career-best race — and has generally continued his usual pattern of picking up hefty checks in prestige races by obtaining minor placings (he’s finished fourth seven times in his career, all in graded stakes, and earned $1.1 million with two such efforts in the 2018 and 2019 Dubai World Cups). Pavel can be counted on to usually make up some ground in the late going, but he doesn’t exactly have a swift turn of foot, and one wonders if regular rider Mario Gutierrez won’t put him in the race a little earlier on Saturday than usual. In his Stephen Foster win, Pavel stalked the pace and took over coming out of the far turn at Churchill Downs to get the jump on his opponents, and such a strategy might give him a better chance at winning (or at least hitting the board) on Saturday. As it stands, Pavel is an underlay on the morning line at 7-2 odds. Gutierrez was aboard Pavel in last year’s Pacific Classic, which boosted trainer Doug O’Neill’s overall record to one win, one second, and two thirds from 12 Pacific Classic starts. O’Neill won the 2006 renewal with fan favourite Lava Man. J. Paul Reddam has finished second one other time as sole owner besides last year, with Momentum in 2002; he also co-owned 2010 runner-up Crowded House.


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4. For the Top (12-1)

Jockey: Martin Garcia

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: RRR Racing

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $160,428

Earnings per start: $22,918

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Equal Stripes – Stormy Martyr, by Bernstein

Colour: Bay

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the Pacific Classic five times, second behind the late Bobby Frankel’s six victories, but he’ll be represented by a longshot in Saturday’s renewal with For the Top after stable star McKinzie instead was pointed to — and impressively won — the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 3. This Argentine-bred won two of five starts in his home country, including a Group 1 stakes on dirt at about 1 ½ mile, before coming to the U.S. earlier this year. He made his debut in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Santa Anita in June and finished last of four after pressing the early pace (fellow Pacific Classic starter Draft Pick rallied from last to win). He then started in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at 1 ½ mile at Del Mar and again tired late after pressing the early pace to finish third behind another Pacific Classic foe, Campaign. It will be interesting to see if Baffert tries a different running style with For the Top in the Pacific Classic since the horse has been out finished in both of his U.S. starts, but the presence of Martin Garcia, one of the best pace jockeys in California, in the irons suggests that For the Top will be in the front ranks once again on Saturday. Garcia has won the Pacific Classic twice, both times for Baffert, aboard Game On Dude in 2013 and Collected in 2017. Baffert’s three other Pacific Classic wins came with General Challenge in 1999 and with Richard’s Kid in 2009 and 2010. Baffert has also finished second three times and third once.


5. Seeking the Soul (3-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Charles Fipke

Career record: 27 starts – 7 wins – 6 seconds – 7 thirds

Career earnings: $3,335,802

Earnings per start: $123,548

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 122

Pedigree: Perfect Soul – Seeking the Title, by Seeking the Gold

Colour: Bay

Age: 6

Notable achievements and interesting facts: In this current era of horse racing, Seeking the Soul qualifies as a throwback. Unlike fellow Pacific Classic starter War Story, who has eight more career starts but is a gelding, this 6-year-old still has a prospective career at stud on the horizon. Still, he has been sent all around the U.S. for four years running by owner-breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart — and even to Dubai earlier this year. More often than not, he’s answered the bell against some of the best racehorses in training. That includes his most recent start, a sharp win at Churchill Downs in the June 15 Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes, in which he out finished Pacific Classic fo Quip to score by a neck. That victory pushed Seeking the Soul’s career earnings over the $3 million mark, and he enters the Pacific Classic as the 3-1 morning-line favourite. He deserves that distinction, but it must be noted that Seeking the Soul is 0-for-2 in races longer than 1 1/8 miles and, as a closer, will be dependent on a good pace scenario and a clean trip to set up his late kick. Still, he’s arguably in the best form of his career, the recent Dubai trip aside, and has excelled when teamed up with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the saddle. One of the best jockeys at judging pace and timing a horse’s rally, Velazquez should have Seeking the Soul in a good position to make his customary stretch rally in Saturday’s race. This will be the first Pacific Classic start for Velazquez, Stewart, and Fipke.


6. Higher Power (8-1)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Hronis Racing

Career record: 12 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $200,648

Earnings per start: $16,721

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – Alternate, by Seattle Slew

Colour: Bay

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning three of his first nine starts racing on the Midwest circuit, Higher Power was bought by Hronis Racing and sent to California and John Sadler. He joins Sadler-trained Campaign as a worthy contender in the Pacific Classic at what should be attractive odds, although he’ll need to muster a career-best performance to have a shot at winning, and even that might not be enough. His two best starts for Sadler have been his most recent ones, both coming on turf: a win in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Santa Anita in June and a runner-up effort in the July 21 Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar. Higher Power picks up current Del Mar leading jockey Flavien Prat for the Pacific Classic, a big plus. Look for Prat to place his mount behind the early leaders through the first six furlongs and make a bid for the lead entering the far turn. A consistent type, his form has improved since moving to California and he should be considered for exactas and trifectas. Sadler picked up his first win in the Pacific Classic last year with Hronis Racing’s eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and champion Accelerate, and he’s also finished second twice and third twice from 12 starts.


7. Tenfold (8-1)

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds

Career record: 11 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $901,890

Earnings per start: $81,990

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Curlin – Temptress, by Tapit

Colour: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Beginning with this well-bred colt’s second start, which was his second consecutive win to start off his career, he’s alternated good and bad performances over the past year and a half. If he keeps up the pattern, Tenfold should show up in Saturday’s Pacific Classic after making absolutely no impression in the June 15 Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes. He finished ninth of 12 in the Foster, 17 lengths behind Seeking the Soul, and he mustered only an 83 Equibase Speed Figure without any apparent excuse. Prior to the Foster, Tenfold tallied his second career graded stakes win in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes, defeating You’re to Blame by a neck … but that followed a seventh-place finish to Quip in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. You get the picture. This Steve Asmussen trainee has flashed enough talent to defeat the likes of Vino Rosso and Flameaway in the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and to come three-quarters of a length shy of Justify in last year’s Preakness Stakes, but he’s also appeared overmatched at the top level several times, as noted above. Tenfold has a good, stalking running style and is bred for the Pacific Classic’s mile-and-a-quarter distance, and Hall of Famer Mike Smith gets on him for the first time Saturday, a big plus. Smith is tied with the late Garrett Gomez as the winningest rider in the Pacific Classic with four victories: Came Home (2002), Richard’s Kid (2009, 2010), and Shared Belief (2013). He’s also finished second once and third twice.


8. Campaign (6-1)

Jockey: Rafael Bejarano                                                                  

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Woodford Racing

Career record: 10 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $394,753

Earnings per start: $39,475

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Curlin – Arania, by Dynaformer

Colour: Bay

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Even with the announcement that Catalina Cruiser would skip the Pacific Classic and compete in one-turn races going forward, trainer John Sadler still has a pair of legitimate contenders entered in Saturday’s mile-and-a-quarter contest. Campaign is more accomplished than stablemate Higher Power in dirt races and figures to get some betting support in the Pacific Classic based on his current form and, even more so, on his proven ability in long-distance routes. The Curlin colt first drew attention last fall on turf, winning races at 1 ½ mile and then 1 5/16 miles during Kentucky Downs’s short meet for trainer Steve Asmussen. In February, he resurfaced in California under Sadler’s care and has since competed exclusively on dirt, winning three of five starts including the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes in April at Santa Anita and the Cougar II Handicap most recently on July 24 at Del Mar, both at 1 ½ mile. This horse is a grinding type who rates well back off of the pace and methodically makes his way through the homestretch picking off foes, and he’s a logical choice to hit the board if a fast pace develops in the Pacific Classic. Sadler picked up his first win in the Pacific Classic last year with eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and champion Accelerate, and he’s also finished second twice and third twice from 12 starts. Jockey Rafael Bejarano has piloted Campaign in both of his stakes wins; he’s finished third twice in the Pacific Classic.


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9. Mongolian Groom (20-1)

Jockey: Abel Cedillo

Trainer: Enebish Ganbat

Owner: Mongolian Stable

Career record: 13 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $249,141

Earnings per start: $19,165

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Hightail – Bourbonesque, by Dynaformer

Colour: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: If this workmanlike gelding runs back to his most recent start, he’ll have a chance to spice up the exotic ticket payoffs in the Pacific Classic. Mongolian Groom came up a length short to odds-on favourite Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap July 20, Del Mar’s prep race for the Pacific Classic, but kept churning through the stretch in a game effort. Four starts prior to the San Diego, he finished third behind Gift Box and McKinzie at odds of 53.50-1 in the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. He usually can be counted on to make up ground in the stretch with a sustained rally, and his only throw-out race through his prior nine starts came this past June when he unsuccessfully tried turf. As such, Mongolian Groom is a must-use in trifecta and superfecta tickets on Saturday, but his win chances are very slim against accomplished graded stakes opponents such as Seeking the Soul, Quip, Pavel, and others. Abel Cedillo retains the mount after his good ride on Mongolian Groom in the San Diego. He is seeking his first win in the Pacific Classic, as is trainer Enebish Ganbat and owner Mongolian Stable, who memorably won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2015 with Mongolian Saturday.


10. Draft Pick (20-1)

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: Peter Eurton

Owner: C R K Stable

Career record: 11 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $307,480

Earnings per start: $27,953

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Candy Ride – Firehouse Red, by Arch

Colour: Bay

Age: 4

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of 2003 Pacific Classic winner and track-record setter Candy Ride has returned in good form for his two starts this year. After a 10-month break, he won fresh off the bench by a neck in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Santa Anita in June and then ran a solid third behind top-class Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, pressing that foe through the backstretch and far turn before tiring a bit late to lose by 2 ¼ lengths. Draft Pick has not competed at 1 ¼ mile before but prefers route races and has a good press-pacing running style that will allow jockey Joe Talamo to put him in a good spot early. This colt has never finished worse than fourth in his 11 starts and earned a career-high Equibase Speed Figure in the San Diego Handicap. Two notes of concern: he’s only faced three other opponents in each of his two starts this year, and in Quip and Tenfold, he’ll be squaring off against two stakes-winning East Coast shippers who also share the same running style. Talamo is winless in seven prior Pacific Classic starts, and this will be trainer Peter Eurton’s first starter in Del Mar’s signature race. Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable finished second in the 2013 Pacific Classic with Kettle Corn.

 

SUGGESTED BET

Bet #2 Quip for the win at 9/2

2019 Arlington Million Guide: Preview, Odds, Selections, Bets, Watch

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2019 Arlington Million (G1)

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# Silks Horse Trainer / Jockey Odds
1 Robert Bruce C. Brown
J. Castellano
7-2
2 Magic Wand A. O’Brien
W. Lordan
5-1
3 Bricks and Mortar  C. Brown
I. Ortiz, Jr.
8-5
4 Catcho En Die N. Chatterpaul
S. Doyle
30-1
5 Hunting Horn A. O’Brien
R. Moore
12-1
6 The Great Day A. Delacour
T. McCarthy
12-1
7 Pivoine A. Balding
S. Sousa
15-1
8 Captivating Moon  C. Block
J. Valdivia, Jr.
20-1
9 Intellogent F. Chappet
F. Geroux
12-1
10 Bandua J. Sisterson
A. Beschizza
6-1

WATCH THE 2019 ARLINGTON MILLION LIVE & FREE

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2018 Race Replay

SUMMARY

The Arlington Million was the first thoroughbred race to offer a purse of US$1,000,000. It is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, and the winner automatically qualifies for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The Arlington Million was introduced in 1981 by Joe Joyce, the dad of TVG’s Mike Joyce and the president of Arlington Park at the time. The winner receives 60% of the million-dollar purse and the Arlington Million Trophy. The race was graded after only its second running and was awarded a grade one status in 1983 based on the talent of the runners that raced in its first two years

Even with Bricks and Mortar’s presence, the Grade 1 Arlington Million still drew a healthy field size of 10 this year, with four European-based entries. While the competition looks overmatched on paper compared to the near-invincible form of Bricks and Mortar, in racing anything could still happen.

One other horse attracting attention is Robert Bruce, who won this race last year. Plus, familiar European-based runners Magic Wand and Hunting Horn ship over here again for trainer Aidan O’Brien, and Bandua carries the hopes of the local horses.

The Arlington Million’s post time is set for 6:12 p.m. CDT Saturday 10 August.

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FIELD

1. Robert Bruce, 7-2 (Fast Company – Chad Brown/Javier Castellano – 13: 8-2-0): The expected second choice gets to save all the ground with the rail post. Toss out his Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) flop, as he needed the race. The runner-up finish in the Manhattan Stakes (G1) is a better barometer of his ability. With that said, Bricks and Mortar still finished 1 ½ lengths ahead, which is a sizable margin on turf. But there is still the chance he improves in his third start off the layoff. Last years winner of this race. Main Danger.

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2. Magic Wand, 5-1 (Galileo – Aidan O’Brien/Wayne Lordan) – 16: 2-5-2): This filly has disappointed since winning at Royal Ascot last summer. In her most recent start, she finished a dismal 11th in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1). Her second in the Pegasus World Cup Turf to Bricks and Mortar earlier this year is credible, but she keeps losing. After the Pegasus, she ran fifth in the Dubai Sheema (G1) and third in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1), before runner-up finishes in the Wolferton Stakes and Pretty Polly (G1) in Europe. Hope

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3. Bricks and Mortar, 8-5 (Giants Causeway – Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz Jr. – 11: 9-0-2): How do bettors play against this horse? Since returning in December, he is undefeated with wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf, Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2), Turf Classic Stakes (G1) and the Manhattan Stakes (G1). In most of those races, he looked clearly the best from a visual standpoint, and the small margin in the Muniz Memorial is forgivable because of the slow pace. Clear Top pick.

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4. Catcho En Die, 30-1 (Catcher in the Rye – Naipaul Chatterpaul/Sophie Doyle – 13: 5-1-1): With a ninth-place finish in the Manhattan, followed by an eighth in the United Nations Stakes (G1) against a weak field and an 11th in the Bowling Green Stakes (G2), it is hard to imagine why the connections want to run. Roughie.

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5. Hunting Horn, 12-1 (Camelot – Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore – 19: 2-2-5): In Europe, this is a constant also-ran for O’Brien. Sometimes he will pick up a minor check, as he did when running fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) behind Crystal Ocean and Magical at Royal Ascot. On this soil in 2019, he ran fourth in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1) after setting a fast pace and third in the W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3). If he fires, a minor award is the limit. Place Best.

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6. The Great Day, 12-1 (Harlan’s Holiday – Arnaud Delacour/Trevor McCarthy – 13: 4-6-1): This one finished a decent second in the Arlington Handicap (G3), 1 ¾ lengths behind Bandua. But if that effort is his best, he cannot contend in the Arlington Million with Bandua entered again and better horses present as well. Hard to Have.

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7. Pivoine, 15-1 (Redoute’s Choice – Andrew Balding/Silvestre De Sousa – 19: 6-0-1): Some bettors might find a new European invader intriguing, but his overall class is lower than Magic Wand or Hunting Horn. Even though he won the Diamond Jubilee Cup in his most recent start, no real competition ran against him. Pivoine also tried the Gordon Richards Stakes (G3) and Al Rayyan Stakes (G3) earlier this year and finished sixth and fourth in those two races respectively. Not for Me.

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8. Captivating Moon, 20-1 (Malibu Moon – Chris Block/Jose Valdivia Jr. – 14: 2-6-4): His third-place effort in the Arlington Handicap, 3 ¾ lengths behind Bandua, will not cut it against this group. In his only other start at the Grade 1 level, he ran fifth in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) on this card last year. Looks Tough.

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9. Intellogent, 12-1 (Intello – Fabrice Chappet/Florent Geroux – 11: 3-1-2): The other new European face finished fourth in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1). Although the race is labeled as a Group 1, it is not a “true” Group 1 as the winner Zabeel Prince went on to finish seventh in the Prince of Wales’s, eighth in the Coral-Eclipse (G1) and seventh in the Sussex Stakes (G1). Earlier this year, Intellogent also finished last in the Prix Ganay Stakes (G1), 13 ¼ lengths behind Waldgeist. Place Hope.

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10. Bandua, 6-1 (The Factor – Jack Sisterson/Adam Beschizza – 12: 3-1-1): Bandua did look sharp winning the Arlington Handicap, but who did he beat? None of the big names from the Manhattan were present, making the race a bit of a cakewalk. With that said, Bandua’s sixth in the Manhattan is better than it looks as he chased a fast pace. He is still young and improving. Not Hopeless.

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WATCH THE 2019 ARLINGTON MILLION LIVE & FREE

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SELECTIONS

3. Bricks and Mortar,

10. Bandua,

1. Robert Bruce,

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BETS

3. Bricks and Mortar, On the nose / straight out!

 

WATCH THE 2019 ARLINGTON MILLION LIVE & FREE

2019 Haskell Invitational Preview, Selections & Who to Bet!

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The $1 million, G1 TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park is traditionally the marquee event at the Jersey Shore racetrack. The Haskell also signals the start of the “second season” of major stakes races in the 3-year-old male division that are usually very important in determining the year-end championship when the Triple Crown series fails to produce a dominant horse.

z190504_eclipsesportswire_Dan Heary_02209.jpgThis is definitely one of those years, and the 52nd Haskell shapes up to be a competitive race with several compelling storylines, the most prominent among them involving disqualified Kentucky Derby first-place finisher Maximum Security.

The 1 1/8-mile (1800m) Haskell is also a crucial race on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The winning horse on Saturday receives a fees-paid, automatic berth to the November 0cc5af6cf6dd49338e00395931d12ec6.jpg2nd Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park as the Haskell is part of the “Win and You’re In” Challenge.

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2019 HASKELL INVITATIONAL FIELD

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1King for a Day (5-2)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Red Oak Stable

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $210,550

Earnings per start: $42,110

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Ubetwereven, by French Deputy

Colour: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This patiently-managed, well-bred colt is a leading win contender in the Haskell based on his perfect 2-for-2 record so far this year as a 3-year-old and, more importantly, his one-length win over Maximum Security in the June 16 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes. In that 1 1/16-mile race at Monmouth, King for a Day kept the pressure on Maximum Security throughout and out finished his opponent in the final sixteenth of a mile. He’s lightly raced, winning one of three starts as a juvenile in 2018 and returning with an impressive 2 ½-length score in the May 18 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico. And, he’s trained by multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, who has won the Haskell three previous times – with Bluegrass Cat in 2006, Any Given Saturday in 2007, and Verrazano in 2013. Look for Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez to position King for a Day just off the early pacesetters and have him primed to strike at the top of the stretch. Velazquez’s two Haskell wins came aboard Bluegrass Cat and Verrazano for Pletcher. King for a Day is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to the dam of Mind Control, a Grade 1 winner as a juvenile and a leading 3-year-old sprinter this year.

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2. Joevia (10-1)

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Gregory Sacco

Owners: Michael Fazio and Jeff Fazio

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $281,600

Earnings per start: $46,933

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Shanghai Bobby – Peace Process, by War Front

Colour: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This locally-based horse outran his 21.60-1 odds in the June 8 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, finishing third after setting a contested pace. He held on well until deep stretch at “Big Sandy” in his first race under jockey Jose Lezcano, who retains the mount in the Haskell. Prior to that, he scored by 2 ¾ lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park in May, defeating three horses on a sloppy track. He’s posted two consecutive triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures, has trained well at Monmouth since the Belmont Stakes, and could very well be a late-developing type with a legitimate upset chance in Saturday’s $1 million race. Lezcano will have to reserve some of Joevia’s early speed to capitalize on that chance, however, as the early pace figures to be heavily contested among Maximum Security, Mucho Gusto, Bethlehem Road, and possibly King for a Day.

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3. Spun to Run (15-1)

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Juan Guerrero

Owner: Robert Donaldson

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $82,620

Earnings per start: $13,770

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Yawkey Way, by Grand Slam

Colour: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt has only finished out of the money once in six career starts – his debut last fall – but will be facing a major class hike in Saturday’s Haskell. Spun to Run enters off of his first two career wins, both coming at Parx Racing by a combined margin of 10 ½ lengths earlier this year. In those starts – both route races – he took over early and was never threatened as the odds-on favourite. He also raced competitively at Aqueduct last winter, nearly defeating subsequent Gotham Stakes winner Haikal in a six-furlong race. On the negative side, he’ll be racing Saturday after a nearly four-month break, and he will find it harder to stalk the pace of Maximum Security and Joevia with Mucho Gusto and King for a Day hovering nearby through the backstretch. He’ll be one of the longest shots in a compact Haskell field, if not the longest, and filling out the superfecta would appear to be his ceiling if he can hang on long enough. Picking up Monmouth-based jockey Paco Lopez is a plus, however. Lopez ranks second in earnings and third in wins during the current Monmouth meet through July 15 and was second in both categories in 2018.

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4. Bethlehem Road (20-1)

Jockey: Luis Rodriguez Castro

Trainer: Dee Curry

Owners: Don Ameche III, Griffin Investments, and Randall Reed

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $124,300

Earnings per start: $31,075

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Pedigree: Quality Road – Alydarla, by Henny Hughes

Colour: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After posting three consecutive front-running, open-length wins to begin his career at Parx Racing, including a stakes victory, Bethlehem Road moved up in class and shipped to Thistledown in Cleveland to start in the Ohio Derby on June 22. In that race, he was bumped twice, at the start and on the first turn, but recovered to stalk the pace before tiring badly in early stretch, finishing fourth of six behind OwendaleMath Wizard, and Long Range Toddy. This gelding should be part of the early pace in the Haskell, but he’s facing a tall task going up against Maximum Security, Mucho Gusto, King for a Day, and Joevia, as each of those horses also has speed plus a sizeable class advantage.

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5. Mucho Gusto (2-1)

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Michael Lund Petersen

Career record: 7 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $430,800

Earnings per start: $61,543

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Pedigree: Mucho Macho Man – Itsagiantcauseway, by Giant’s Causeway

Colour: Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: During the run-up to the Triple Crown races earlier this year, Mucho Gusto was a second-stringer in Bob Baffert’s loaded barn behind Game WinnerRoadster, and Improbable, despite winning a graded stakes as a juvenile and then another one in February. Now, he sits alongside the recently resurgent Game Winner in Baffert’s first string, and is a leading win candidate in Saturday’s Haskell based on his late spring-early summer form. He heads to the Jersey Shore on a two-race winning streak, taking the Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita Park on May 18 and then defeating Roadster by 2 ¼ lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita on June 16. Although he did fade to third in his only prior start at 1 1/8 miles – the Sunland Derby back in March – this colt is bred to easily handle the Haskell’s distance and has a good pace-pressing running style that should set him up perfectly behind what figures to be some honest early fractions set by Maximum Security and company. And last but certainly not least, he’s trained by the all-time leading Haskell winner in Bob Baffert, who has eight career victories: Point Given (2001); War Emblem (2002); Roman Ruler (2005); Lookin At Lucky (2010); Coil (2011); Paynter (2012); Bayern (2014); and American Pharoah (2015). Baffert has also finished second in the Haskell four times and third once.

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6. Everfast (10-1)

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 12 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $499,805

Earnings per start: $41,650

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Pedigree: Take Charge Indy – Awesome Surprise, by Awesome Again

Colour: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Twice during the Triple Crown season, this deep closer has beefed up the exotic payouts in graded stakes by grinding on late in the stretch to finish second. He triggered a $1,101.70 exacta in Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes back in January by nabbing second behind fellow longshot Harvey Wallbanger, and surprised many public handicappers and bettors alike by edging Owendale for runner-up honours behind War of Will in the Preakness Stakes. In his four other graded stakes this year, Everfast has finished no better than fifth, and that includes a seventh-place effort in the Belmont Stakes, his most recent race. Supporters of this colt – who has not won a race since his career debut at Ellis Park last summer – will point out that he was only beaten by three lengths in the Belmont and he did earn a 100 Equibase Speed Figure in that 1 ½-mile classic. Furthermore, there should be a fast enough pace in Saturday’s Haskell to set up his late run as he’s really only the true closer in the field. He’s worthy of consideration in exactas and trifectas with the hopes of boosting those payouts, just as he’s done before, but his chances of reaching the Haskell winner’s circle are remote. Trainer Dale Romans finished second behind American Pharoah in the 2015 Haskell with Keen Ice, one race before that colt upset the Triple Crown winner and eventual Horse of the Year in the Travers Stakes, and he nearly won the Haskell in 2011 with Preakness winner Shackleford, who lost to Coil by a neck. Last year’s Haskell runner-up Bravazo was owned by Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm.

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7. Maximum Security (8-5)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Jason Servis

Owners: Gary and Mary West

Career record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $679,400

Earnings per start: $113,233

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: New Year’s Day – Lil Indy, by Anasheed

Colour: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A second shot at redemption is on hand for this ultra-fast, talented colt who was at the centre of a national controversy after he was disqualified from first and placed 17th in the May 4 Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security’s first chance to move past the Derby DQ hangover came in the June 16 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth, where he was sent off as the overwhelming 1-20 favourite against what looked like a mediocre field. But he stumbled out of the gate in that race and thereafter received constant pressure by an improving horse in King for a Day, who wore him down late in the stretch to win by a length. That was the first time in Maximum Security’s career in which he did not cross the finish line first, and just how well he’ll respond in the Haskell is easily the most anticipated question surrounding Saturday’s race. In the Derby and in his prior wins, Maximum Security showed that he does not necessarily need a clear early lead to win, but he certainly prefers to be forwardly placed. In addition to King for a Day, the Haskell field includes speed horses Joevia and Bethlehem Road as well as California invader Mucho Gusto, who also likes to set or press the pace. The expected company upfront should make it tougher for Maximum Security to do what he does best, especially breaking from the outside post, but he’s still the fastest horse in the Haskell field and figures to stay in contention all the way to the finish line. Luis Saez finished second in last year’s Haskell aboard Bravazo. Gary and Mary West campaigned 2016 Haskell runner-up American Freedom and 2014 runner-up Power Broker, and Jason Servis trained third-place finisher Sunny Ridge in 2016.

 

 

 

SELECTIONS

1.KING FOR A DAY***

7.MAXIMUM SECURITY

6.EVERFAST

5.MUCHO GUSTO

 

BEST BET

1. KING FOR A DAY A WIN BET SPECIAL AT 5/2 ($3.50)

 

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Belmont Stakes 151 – Field, Odds, Preview, Selections & Best Bets

POST POSITION HORSE ODDS
1 Joevia 30/1
2 Everfast 12/1
3 Master Fencer 8/1
4 Tax 15/1
5 Bourbon War 12/1
6 Spinoff 15/1
7 Sir Winston 12/1
8 Intrepid Heart 10/1
9 War of Will 2/1
10 Tacitus 9/5

RACE SUMMARY

  • Taprit in 2017 was the last horse to get beaten in the Kentucky Derby, skip the Preakness and come in and win the Triple Crown 3rd leg the Belmont Stakes. 4 of the 10 starters in 2019 are looking to win the Belmont off a similar form profile; TACITUS, MASTER FENCER, TAX & SPINOFF.
  • Tonalist in 2014 was the last horse to win the Belmont Stakes fresh after skipping both the Derby & Preakness. JOEVIA, SIR WINSTON & INTREPID HEART fit those same criteria having been specifically targeted at the Belmont.
  • Preakness winner and Kentucky Derby hard luck story, WAR OF WILL is looking to become the 1st horse since Afleet Alex in 2005 to run in all 3 legs of the Triple Crown & complete the Preakness Stakes / Belmont Stakes double after tasting defeat in the Derby.
  • That leaves EVERFAST & BOURBON WAR. They’ve got to defy the most significant history if they’re to win the 2019 Belmont Stakes. They skipped the Derby & were beaten in the Preakness. Not in over 2 decades, since Touch Gold in 1997, has a horse profiled in such a manner in the lead-up and gone on the win the Belmont.

No more needs to be said about the controversy that unfolded in the Kentucky Derby surrounding War of Will and Maximum Security. But it could certainly argued that if not for the severe check on the turn at Churchill Downs, War of Will could be going for the Triple Crown this weekend. He faces a stiffer test here up to the mile and a half trip (2400m) and having drawn out as opposed to the Derby and Preakness, wherein both races he drew post 1 and got a cosy run just in behind the speed on both occasions. Having said that it is only a small field of 10 runners and he does have good tactical gate speed so he should be able to find himself getting a similarly cushy run again here in the Belmont if speed maps play out according to plan. Judging by his Preakness win where he was very strong through the line, he shouldn’t have any trouble staying the mile and 1/2, he looks a dour type who doesn’t have an explosive turn of foot but rather just keeps on grinding away at a solid clip. I think the trip will suit. He’s my clear top pick to win the 151st Belmont Stakes. I think he’s much underrated, I know it’s a big IF, but again I’ll say it, if not for being Skittled by Maximum Security in the Derby, we could be talking another Triple Crown in 2019 and he’d be starting 1/2 ($1.50), not 2/1 ($3.00).

Tacitus the early favourite ran on well in the Derby. But I wasn’t enthralled with the effort. He does have the freshness War of Will win be lacking but does he have Waar of Will’s tenacity?

Next best Bourbon War coming fresh into the Belmont since an average Florida Derby run was he was a beaten favourite behind Maximum Security, but that form does stack right up so a win certainly wouldn’t shock.

TIPS

1. 9-War of Will @ 2/1

2. 10-Tacitus @ 9/5

3. 5-Bourbon War @ 12/1

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