Handicapping

Tips and picks for how to bet on Thorougbred horse racing

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.

Union Rags tops busy Derby worktab in Louisville

With jockey Julien Leparoux aboard, Union Rags breezed the distance in :59 4/5, third fastest of 53 moves at the distance on the fast main track. The Michael Matz colt posted fractions of :12, :23 3/5 and :47 1/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.

Unbeaten Black Caviar jogs to 20th win

Australia's unbeaten wonder mare Black Caviar returned from a two-month holiday to dust an overmatched field in Saturday's Group 1 Robert Sangster before a packed house of 30,000 at Morphettville. As her fans waved flags with the color scheme of her silks -- salmon pink and black dots -- the world's best sprinter registered her 20th straight win, breaking the Australasian record for a winning streak at metropolitan (as opposed to bush) tracks.

Keeneland posts record average attendance

Keeneland's 2012 spring race meeting proved to be an enormously successful finale for President Nick Nicholson, posting several records for attendance and wagering and boasting field sizes that are among the largest in the country. More importantly, it also marked the sixth consecutive spring meeting in which there were no catastrophic breakdowns during racing on Keeneland's all-weather main track.

Point of Entry strongly prevails in Elkhorn

Phipps Stable's homebred Point of Entry made his turf stakes debut a winning one in Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 Elkhorn on closing day of the Keeneland spring meet. Guided by John Velasquez, the Dynaformer colt defeated a group that included two-time Elkhorn winner Musketier, as well as recent Grade 2 winners Newsdad and Simmard.

Acclamation scratched from Inglewood

Acclamation, who was voted champion older male of 2011, has been scratched from Friday evening's Grade 3, $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park. Co-owner Pete Hilvers told the Fresno Bee that the son of Unusual Heat "was just a little off" in his left-front after a morning workout.

American Act bolts, but gets up in Harry Henson

The even-money favorite once the sprint was transferred from the turf to the Cushion Track, the Jack Carava trainee raced last of six early, but appeared to be uncorking a good move before veering out badly turning for home. Jockey Rafael Bejarano kept riding, however, and American Act kept responding near the stands' side of the track.

Upperline plays it by ear in Bewitch

The 2-1 second choice, Upperline strolled through an opening quarter in :26 4/5. Shimmering Moment moved up to vie for the lead passing the stands for the first time, and took over when reaching the half in :54. Senada also advanced to prompt on the outside, relegating the rail-hugging Upperline to third or fourth through splits of 1:19 3/5 and 1:44 3/5. Meanwhile, Here to Win, the 8-5 favorite, steadily improved her position off the pace.

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