Handicapping

Tips and picks for how to bet on Thorougbred horse racing

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.

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.

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