Handicapping

Tips and picks for how to bet on Thorougbred horse racing

Maker to send two to Spiral

The field for Saturday's Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park is expected to fill or nearly fill the gate as trainers solidify plans for their Kentucky Derby hopefuls.  The race's $500,000 purse virtually assures the winner a spot in the Derby gate, as proved true for the 2011 Spiral Stakes and Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom.

Tapitsfly swoops in Honey Fox

Frank L. Jones Jr.'s homebred Tapitsfly, who had not won a stakes race since the 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, remedied that statistic with a strong late rally in Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park. Typically up on or near the pace, the Dale Romans filly enjoyed being held up a little farther back by Julien Leparoux, and rolled past Bay to Bay and La Reine Lionne by a measured three-quarters of a length.

Alpha leaning toward Wood

As of Sunday morning, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin appeared to be in a New York state of mind when thinking about the next starts for Godolphin stakes runners Alpha and It's Tricky.

Perfect Shirl to miss Sheema Classic

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf upsetter Perfect Shirl has been forced to withdraw from the Group 1, $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield announced.

Tiz Miz Sue closes fastest of all to take Azeri

Cresran's homebred Tiz Miz Sue bided her time just behind the early leaders before making her move in the stretch, closing strongly on the far outside to win going away in Saturday's Grade 3, $147,000 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The five-year-old mare garnered her first graded stakes victory, scoring by three lengths under Joe Rocco Jr., and the Steve Hobby trainee completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 2/5 over the fast track.

Include Me Out is all in to win Santa Margarita

Jay Em Ess Stable's Include Me Out was an easy winner of the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on January 22 and continued that thread Saturday with a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $294,000 Santa Margarita Invitational under jockey Joe Talamo. The Ron Ellis trainee was sent off the 6-5 second choice to Ellafitz's 4-5 favoritism, but was much the best in this one while finishing nine furlongs on the sloppy, sealed dirt in 1:47 3/5.

Havre de Grace reigns supreme in New Orleans Ladies

Fox Hill Farms' reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace made a winning return to competition on Saturday, easily outclassing four rivals to take the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds by 4 1/2 lengths. The Larry Jones trainee was sent off the prohibitive 1-9 favorite, and did not disappoint her backers, who may have decided to keep their tickets as souvenirs instead of cashing in for paltry across-the-board returns of $2.10.

Musical Romance rebounds in Inside Information

After a troubled trip in her season debut in late January, reigning champion female sprinter Musical Romance was back in better form in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park. Under a ground-saving ride by Juan Leyva, the five-year-old mare settled just off the leaders for the opening three-quarters, split rivals in the stretch, and drew clear to win by three parts of a length in a time of 1:21 4/5 for seven furlongs over a fast track. She returned $11.20, $6.40 and $4.60 as the 9-2 third choice.

Marilyn's Guy holds off San Pablo in Excelsior

Marilyn's Guy disposed of pacesetter San Pablo leaving the far turn, opening up a clear lead in midstretch, but nearly surrendered the advantage as that rival came again late in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior Stakes, desperately holding on by a neck over the inner track at Aqueduct. Ridden by Chuck Lopez for trainer Tony Dutrow, the six-year-old gelding was making his graded debut after notching his first listed stakes tally in his previous outing, the February 18 As Indicted Stakes.

Caleb's Posse posts quick drill for Carter

Multiple Grade 1 winner Caleb's Posse powerfully returned to the Oaklawn workout sheet Saturday in his first drill since a close runner-up finish in this four-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap March 3 in New York.

Giant Ryan posts half-mile breeze for Golden Shaheen

Grade 1 winner Giant Ryan had his final workout Saturday morning in preparation for the Group 1, $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, covering a half-mile on the fast track at Calder in :47 3/5 in advance of his seasonal debut under the lights at Meydan Racecourse on March 31.

Gemologist devalues Currency in allowance romp

Gemologist had not raced since November 26, when he captured the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. The Tiznow colt had recently posted a pair of bullet drills, however, and was sent off as the 3-5 favorite. Currency Swap, sidelined for more than six months since his victory in the Grade 1 Hopeful, rated as the 6-5 second choice.

Breeders' Cup board offers discount on early, online foal nominations

In response to its popularity among horsemen over the past three years, the Breeders' Cup board of directors has again approved an early foal nomination program deadline which allows for a $100 discount off the standard $500 nomination fee for all foals nominated electronically by August 1 to the Breeders' Cup program.

New Vocations hosts 'Thoroughbreds For All!'

New Vocations will host "Thoroughbreds For All!" -- an evening of education and fellowship for people who favor off-the-track Thoroughbreds combined with an invitation for equestrians to shop in Kentucky for the Thoroughbred of their dreams -- on April 28 shortly following the Rolex cross country at 5 p.m. (EDT).

Epsom Oaks draw 95 early entries

A total of 95 fillies have been entered for the Group 1, £350,000 Epsom Oaks, highlight of Ladies Day at the Derby Festival at Epsom Downs on June 1. The figure is two more than the 2011 entry and way ahead of the 2010 total of 77.

Musical Romance seeks better trip in Inside Information

Champion female sprinter Musical Romance experienced a troubled trip when opening 2012 in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint, grabbing a quarter and ripping off a shoe at the start, but the five-year-old will look to rebound when she lines up for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park. The Bill Kaplan-trained mare will square off against 10 rivals, including the top four finishers from the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes on February 29.

Roster announced for Taste of Derby

The perfect Kentucky Derby appetizer returns May 3 as Churchill Downs stages its third annual Taste of Derby -- a celebration of cuisine and racing on the eve of the Kentucky Oaks. Taste of Derby attendees will mingle with horse racing and Hollywood celebrities and savor exquisite cuisine and delectable wines from racing destinations across the country as nationally-renowned chefs serve samples of their regional specialties.

Betfair acquires Hollywood naming rights

Betfair US and Hollywood Park on Tuesday announced the completion of a ground-breaking agreement intended to transform the customer experience for racing fans at the historic venue, online and on television. Under the terms of the five-year deal, the venue will be renamed "Betfair Hollywood Park" in the first naming rights agreement ever for a horseracing venue in the United States.

Gulfstream to host 2012 Claiming Crown

Gulfstream Park will host the 14th running of the Claiming Crown on the opening day of its 2012-13 meet on December 1. The 2012 event will see a significant increase in purses to $850,000 for seven races with the individual race purses ranging from $100,000 to $200,000. In addition to the six Claiming Crown races conducted at the 2011 event, the Tiara for fillies and mares on the turf will return this year.

Florida Derby Festival raises money for charities

Gulfstream Park will offer fans a week of activities and attractions leading up to the $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday, March 31, including a concert by a mystery Grammy-winning country artist as well as golf and poker tournaments, a cocktail party with jockeys serving drinks, and the official Florida Derby cocktail party with live and silent auctions.

Craft Unicorn wins on debut at Ocala

Dennis J. Manning's first-time starter Crafty Unicorn stayed close to the early pace of the 23rd running of the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes, contested Monday at the Ocala Training Center in Florida. Crafty Unicorn fought to the lead along the inside in the stretch and beat Burn the Mortgage by 1 3/4 lengths, with Moon Traveler checking in third.

Havre de Grace puts in final work for New Orleans Ladies

Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace put in her last workout in advance of Saturday's $150,000 New Orleans Ladies this morning at Fair Grounds, breezing five furlongs in :59 3/5 with regular exercise rider Jen Brasser aboard. The five-year-old mare worked in company with an unraced three-year-old filly, Just Jan, who went the same distance in 1:00 under Rosie Napravnik while breezing to the inside of Havre de Grace.

Animal Kingdom to miss Dubai World Cup

Champion Animal Kingdom will miss his intended start in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup on March 31 after developing lameness in his left hind leg over the weekend at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.

NTRA updates safety, integrity standards

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced Monday that an updated set of racetrack safety and integrity standards has been circulated to members of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, and that it is now available for public comment. After finalization, the compliance standards will serve as the basis for future racetrack Alliance accreditation, including the re-accreditation of tracks previously accredited by the Alliance. The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen's organization. Twenty-two racetracks have been accredited to date by Alliance safety teams.

Musical Romance probable for Inside Information

Pinnacle Racing and Bill Kaplan's five-year-old mare Musical Romance closed out an Eclipse Award campaign in 2011 winning the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs on November 4, but her 2012 season debut did not go well when she finished fourth in the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park on January 28.

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