Handicapping

Tips and picks for how to bet on Thorougbred horse racing

Wise Dan returns in Ben Ali

Wise Dan concluded 2011 in smashing fashion, posting big wins in the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes and Grade 1 Clark Handicap, and the Charles Lopresti-trained gelding will look to make it three straight when opening his five-year-old season in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland. The versatile chestnut tops a field of seven in the 1 1/8-mile test over the Polytrack.

Princess Arabella retired with injury

Peachtree Stable's undefeated Princess Arabella, who would have been a major contender in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, has been retired due to injury. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert revealed the news on HRTV Thursday.

Secret Circle out of Derby

Grade 2 Rebel Stakes winner Secret Circle is out of the Kentucky Derby with a sesamoid injury, according to the Blood-Horse. The Bob Baffert pupil was most recently a distant runner-up to stablemate Bodemeister in last Saturday's Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

Lukas still hoping Optimizer makes Derby field

Bluegrass Hall LLC's homebred Optimizer, most recently ninth in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, is still being pointed to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

St. John's River prepares for La Troienne return

Dede McGehee's St. John's River, who was narrowly defeated by Plum Pretty in last year's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, is being pointed to a return to the races after an eighth-month layoff in the Grade 2, $300,000 La Troienne, which is to be run on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard on May 4.

Baffert duo face The Lumber Guy in Jerome

After landing a one-two punch in last week's Grade 1 Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister and Secret Circle, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will attempt to do the same in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome at Aqueduct with California shippers Stirred Up and Brigand. The one-mile Jerome, which will be run for the 142nd time, is the final graded stakes of the Aqueduct spring meet as racing in New York shifts to Belmont Park next weekend.

Nicholson stepping down as Keeneland president

Keeneland President and CEO Nick Nicholson on Wednesday announced that effective September 1, he will retire from Keeneland Association after nearly 13 years at the helm. Bill Thomason, currently Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, has been selected by the Keeneland Trustees as successor to Nicholson.

Creative Cause works with blinkers

Creative Cause, recording his first workout since a nose second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby April 7, completed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park on Tuesday. It was the 16th fastest of 37 works at the distance.

Bodemeister feeling good after big win

The top-two finishers in last Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park arrived at Churchill Downs in good order Monday afternoon to continue their preparations for the 138th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby, which is to be run beneath the Twin Spires on May 5.

Pachattack faces seven in Doubledogdare

Pachattack, a leading mare on synthetic surfaces in North America the past couple of seasons, get back to work Friday at Keeneland in the Grade 3, $100,000 Doubledogdare over 1 1/16 miles. The race will mark her first start for the Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings, which purchased the six-year-old for $1.2 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.

Went the Day goes very Well in Spiral

Providing a strong sense of deja vu, Team Valor International's Went the Day Well booked his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with a convincing victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Viver Racing Spiral Stakes

Triple Crown late nomination deadline looming

Thoroughbred owners and trainers who wish to make their late-blooming three-year-olds eligible to compete in the 2012 Triple Crown series of classic American races have until Saturday to add their horses to the roster of late nominations to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Eight set for Sunland Derby

With its lucrative $800,000 purse, the Grade 3 Sunland Derby is an attractive prep race for Kentucky Derby hopefuls lacking graded earnings, and three-year-olds from the barns of notable trainers Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen have shipped into the New Mexico track this year in search of a guaranteed berth to the Run for Roses. The 1 1/8-mile race gained notoriety in 2009 when producing Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Purses for Oaklawn 'Cap, Count Fleet Sprint raised

Oaklawn Park, which has already announced three purse increases this meet, is increasing the purses of the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap by $50,000, bringing the April 14 events to $400,000 and $250,000, respectively. Additionally, the track will offer a participation bonus for the fourth consecutive year on all non-stakes races that attract more than eight wagering interests for the final three weeks of the season (March 29 ? April 14).

Pletcher looking for third win in Spiral

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Spiral Stakes in 2001 with Balto Star and in 2005 with Flower Alley when it was a Grade 2, will be looking for his third win in the now Grade 3 race when he sends out the uncoupled duo of Heavy Breathing and Holiday Promise on Saturday at Turfway Park.

Arlington announces overnight stakes

A schedule of 11 overnight stakes races worth an aggregate $725,000 for the 2012 meet was announced Wednesday by Arlington Park Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Polzin.

Mark Valeski, Mr. Bowling work for Louisiana Derby

Mark Valeski, runner-up in last month's Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, made a case for favoritism in the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1, breezing an impressive five furlongs over the fast main track at Fair Grounds on Tuesday. He completed the move in :59 2/5 under regular rider Rosie Napravnik, the fastest of 11 works at the distance by a full second.

Louisiana Derby in mix for Alpha

South Florida-based Alpha, easy winner of the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct on February 4, is now considered probable for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin confirmed Tuesday.

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