Handicapping

Tips and picks for how to bet on Thorougbred horse racing

Believe You Can gives Napravnik historic win in Kentucky Oaks

Jockey Rosie Napravnik became the first woman rider to win the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on Friday when piloting Believe You Can to victory over a stubborn Broadway's Alibi at Churchill Downs. The race was delayed a half-hour after a powerful storm blew through the area, but the delay apparently didn't affect the Proud Citizen filly, who finished 1 1/8 miles over the fast track in 1:49 2/5.

Contested romps in Eight Belles

The two wagering favorites dominated Friday's Grade 3, $110,000 Eight Belles for three-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs, with even-money choice Contested taking over from pacesetter Good Deed at the three-sixteenths pole and drawing away to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and campaigned by his wife, Jill, Contested returned $4.20, $3 and $2.80.

Silver Max wires American Turf

Fresh off a dominating, wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland, Mark Bacon and Dana Wells' Silver Max dished out the same treatment to his rivals in Friday's Grade 2, $238,200 American Turf at Churchill Downs. The biggest difference was the winning rider. With Robby Albarado off his mounts after reportedly being arrested Friday morning for domestic violence, Rafael Bejarano picked up the mount and gave him a textbook ride.

Stephanie's Kitten sets stakes record in Edgewood, eyes Royal Ascot

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Stephanie's Kitten pounced to a stakes record-setting victory in Friday's $184,800 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs, setting her up for a bold assault on the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot June 22. The winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf over the same course last November, the even-money favorite completed 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:40.94, best in 27 runnings of the Edgewood.

Dan successful over Fort Larned in Alysheba

Stakes records continued to fall at Churchill Downs Friday as Mort Fink's homebred Successful Dan was timed in 1:41 in winning the Grade 2, $337,800 Alysheba for older horses. Not only was it the fastest time achieved in the nine-year history of the event, but it also bested the previous track-record time of 1:41 1/5 set by Brass Hat in 2007.

Sanchez one to watch at upcoming Arlington meet

Chicagoland racing fans who annually enjoy the Arlington experience may be unfamiliar with the name of jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, but the 26-year-old native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has rapidly made a strong, positive impression among the nation's more discerning horsemen on other major league circuits.

Juanita provides 16-1 upset in La Troienne

William S. and Graydon Patterson's Juanita kept pace with 2-5 favorite Plum Pretty on the front end of Friday's Grade 2, $327,000 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs before putting that rival away and just holding for the win as St. John's River came with a game late rally in the final strides. Sent off the 16-1 fifth pick, the Mineshaft filly ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42 4/5 to pay $35.40, $13.20 and $5.

One Thousand Guineas attracts field of 18

The Group 1, £376,500 One Thousand Guineas, run on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket Sunday, has attracted 18 runners. The final field for the first fillies' classic of the season includes the well supported ante-post favorite Maybe, who rounded off an unbeaten juvenile campaign with a smooth victory in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes in August. The daughter of Galileo and her stablemate Homecoming Queen, who won the Leopardstown One Thousand Guineas Trial in April, will be bidding to give their trainer Aidan O'Brien a second success in the race after Virginia Waters' runaway victory in 2005.

Kentucky Derby Report

MAY 4, 2012

by James Scully

Saturday's Kentucky Derby has a pair of top contenders in Bodemeister and Union Rags, but I've never seen a Kentucky Derby field so deep with viable win options. A compelling case can probably be made for half the field.

I've identified eight logical win candidates (in alphabetical order) -- Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Dullahan, Gemologist, Hansen, I'll Have Another, Take Charge Indy and Union Rags -- and could've included Alpha and Daddy Nose Best in the mix as well.

With such a competitive field, the post position draw was critical and I felt Bodemeister (post 6) and Union Rags (post 4) were hurt by the draw.

Bodemeister excelled from post 11 against a soft field in the Arkansas Derby, earning the top last-race BRIS Speed rating (105), but he's an inexperienced colt who was late to develop and probably needed an outside post to have his best c

Homeister happy to be back

Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. may be a new name on the Arlington racing program this summer, but she's hardly a new name to racing fans around the nation.

Eighteen stand their ground for Guineas

The waiting and anticipation is now almost over with the first classic of England's 2012 Flat turf season, Saturday's Group 1, £376,500 Two Thousand Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. Final declarations were made Thursday morning, and 18 colts are set to go to post in the famous mile contest.

Get Stormy faces difficult task to repeat in Turf Classic

Get Stormy failed to turn an uncontested lead into a repeat victory in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland three weeks ago, but will have an opportunity to make amends in his title defense of Saturday's Grade 1 $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. The nine-furlong grass test, the traditional race before the Kentucky Derby, highlights a blockbuster Derby Day undercard that includes four other graded stakes.

Sprint champions featured in Derby undercard dashes

Sassy Image won numerous battles in the race for champion female sprinter honors in 2011, but ultimately lost the war when Musical Romance was awarded top honors after winning the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in Sassy Image's absence. The two will square off for a second time in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs over seven furlongs.

Winter Memories gets back to work in Beaugay

Winter Memories, whose explosive turn of foot propelled her to four graded stakes wins last season, including the Grade 1 Garden City, makes her four-year-old debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay at Belmont Park. The gray daughter of El Prado should find the conditions ideal in the 1 1/16-mile grass test as she's undefeated in three attempts over Belmont's two turf courses.

Grass stakes highlight Oaks Day undercard

A pair of grass stakes for three-year-olds attracted overflow fields on Friday's Kentucky Oaks Day undercard at Churchill Downs. The Grade 2, $200,000 American Turf at 1 1/16 miles, features a wide-open cast of males, while Breeders' Cup heroine Stephanie's Kitten looks to be favored in the $150,000 Edgewood for fillies, also at 1 1/16 miles.

Hawthorne sees big jump in business

Increased purses, larger fields, great weather and placement of races led to a very strong spring thoroughbred meet at Hawthorne as the season concluded on Sunday. With the release of the impact fee funds prior to the start of last fall's Thoroughbred meet, an increase in overnights of 50 percent helped to keep more horsemen on the grounds through the winter dark period in preparation for the spring meet.

Believe You Can reminiscent of Proud Spell

Brereton Jones' homebred Believe You Can was in tip-top shape the day after her bullet five-eighths work for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in :58 2/5, according to trainer Larry Jones, who gushed about both the breeze and her demeanor 24 hours later.

Quiet Oasis breaks through in Wilshire

The Irish-bred Quiet Oasis, who nearly doubled her bankroll to $122,413 from her 8-3-1-1 line, had previously shown glimmers of talent. Originally based with Brian Meehan in England, the daughter of Oasis Dream finished a close fourth in her stakes debut in the Group 3 C.L. Weld Park Stakes and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

Mark Valeski's Derby status hinges on Monday work

Brereton Jones' homebred Mark Valeski galloped 1 1/2 miles Sunday during the Derby and Oaks training period under trainer Larry Jones, who said it's not a given they'll enter the Kentucky Derby unless the Proud Citizen colt impresses in his final breeze Monday.

Brown readying new imports for U.S. debuts

After winning Grade 1 turf races in 2011 with European imports Stacelita and Zagora, trainer Chad Brown is primed to make a similar assault on major grass events in America this year after receiving an influx of talented international runners.

Hierro rallies for Derby Trial win

Stonestreet Stables LLC's Hierro rallied four wide in the stretch to run down favored Paynter to win the 88th running of the Grade 3, $232,600 Derby Trial by 1 1/2 lengths before a crowd of 26,527 on opening night of Churchill Downs Friday.

Hudson Landing denies Jeranimo in San Francisco Mile

Chappell Alpine Farm's Hudson Landing, who had shifted barns five times via the claim box since last July, is unlikely to be moving away from trainer Blaine Wright anytime soon after a half-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields. Overcoming a wide journey down the backside, the five-year-old gelding caught 2011 Mile runner-up Gallant Son inside the eighth pole and held off a belated rally by 1-2 favorite Jeranimo to register his second stakes win in a time of 1:37 1/5 over good ground. He returned $19.60, $5.20 and $3.80 at odds of 8-1.

Endorsement claims Texas Mile

Endorsement made a name for himself when taking the Grade 3 Sunland Derby by three lengths in 2010 but an injury sidelined the son of Distorted Humor until December 2011. Following three conditioning starts at Gulfstream Park, the Casner Racing colorbearer returned to stakes competition on Saturday and easily went two-for-two against black-type company with a two-length victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile Stakes at Lone Star Park.

To Honor and Serve makes Met Mile statement in Westchester

Live Oak Plantation's To Honor and Serve coasted in his comeback in Saturday's Grade 3, $142,500 Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park, stamping himself as the horse to beat in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap over the same mile trip on Memorial Day. Under confident handling by regular rider Jose Lezcano, the 3-5 favorite took over with a minimum of effort turning for home and won easing up by 5 1/4 lengths.

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