Sunday, Hollywood Park Race 4 — 2:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 5 furlongs, 2-year-old fillies

Possible overlays              Morning line

#1 Ghost Shadow                5/1
#2 Gambling Pokerface       20/1
#3 Magic Yodeler               5/1
#4 Rote                           5/1
#5 Necessary Evil              7/2
#6 Mi Sueno                     4/1
#7 Lena Miss                    20/1
#8 Laura’s Pleasure          8/1
#9 Win for M’lou                9/2

I couldn’t throw anybody out right now.


Because I think any of the horses can win this race, which has eight first-timers going out of the nine starters. The most likely winner of the debuters is #5 Necessary Evil, who is trained by Doug O’Neill. This filly has three swift workouts showing in her past performances and O’Neill won with four of his last 12 with this type of 2 year old.

The Hollywood Park morning line maker rated six of the eight first timers at odds of between 7-to-2 and 8-to-1. But I think two or three of these fillies will be greater than 10-to-1 and those are the ones that I will wager on.

The one experienced runner is #9 Win for M’lou. She showed some decent speed in her debut.

My bets will be $200 to win on #5 Necessary Evil at 7/2 or more; and $150 to win on any of these horses at 10/1 to 19/1 only: #1 Ghost Shadow, #2 Gambling Pokerface, #3 Magic Yodeler, #4 Rote, #6 Mi Sueno, #7 Lena Miss and #8 Laura’s Pleasure.

If two or fewer of the horses above fall into the betting zone, then I will also bet $200 on #9 Win for M’lou at 5/2 to 7/1 only. But if I’m able to bet three or more of the firsters, then I won’t wager on Win for M’lou at all.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 10 — 5:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $25,000, 6 furlongs, 3 yo & up, F

Possible overlays                 Morning line

#3 Atta Lora                           6/1
#6 Meat Sauce                       5/1
#12 Parker’s Stormgirl          7/2
#14 Sure Nice                        6/1
#15 Miss Reyna                      20/1

I see a few good wagering possibilities in this 16-horse field, but none is more potentially powerful than #6 Meat Sauce.

This filly is coming off an eight-month layoff, but has a couple of quick workouts for trainer Ted West. She showed some early foot in September at Fairplex and races at this 6-furlong distance are usually won by horses on or near the lead.

Another speedster coming off a long layoff is #14 Sure Nice. She was loose on the lead versus eight rivals last September and lost by 3/4 of a length. But her trainer, Daniel Dunham, hasn’t won a race all year and her jockey Agapito Delgadillo is not a marquee name either. The truth is, that if her connections were anymore low-profile they’d be in the witness protection program.

Longshot #15 Miss Reyna also hasn’t run since September and is probably a better bet to finish last than first.  But when her owner Tricar Stables wins, their horses usually pay boxcar prices.

I’m giving a shot to two second-time starters. Both #3 Atta Lora and #12 Parker’s Stormgirl could win if they run a couple of lengths faster than they did in their debuts. Mike Puype, who is the trainer of Parker’s Stormgirl, has won with 10 of his last 40 second-time starters and anybody who bet them all would have pocketed a 40 percent gain. Statistics show that Puype is also a profitable bet in maiden claiming races and when using jockey Joe Talamo.

In the end, I will put $400 to win on #6 Meat Sauce but only at odds of 2/1 to 7/2. Also, I’ll take $150 to win on #12 Parker’s Stormgirl at 5/2 to 7/1, but if she doesn’t fall into the range then I’ll replace her with $150 to win on #3 Atta Lora at 5/2 to 7/1. Also, I want $100 on #14 Sure Nice at 5/1 and up and $50 on #15 Miss Reyna at any price.

If #6 Meat Sauce goes off at 4/1 or more than I’ll reduce my bet on her to $250 while keeping everything else intact.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 5 — 3 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 5 furlongs, 2-year-olds

Possible overlays                Morning line

#1 Icy Temper                      15/1
#3 Ranger Heartley                20/1
#5 Siete Machos                   15/1
#6 Summers at Del Mar          20/1
#8 Get My Fix                       6/1
#9 Really Uptown                  9/2
#10 The Skinny Man              5/1
#11 Saarface                       20/1

Seven first-time starters go in this race and I listed them all above as possible overlays, but realistically only a few of them will go off at a price fit for betting.

The best of the debuters looks like #10 The Skinny Man. J Paul Reddam, the owner, loves to use Corey Nakatani and his horses have had success in their first lifetime races. Furthermore, trainer Doug O’Neill has good numbers with this type of horse.

Of the experienced horses, I like #9 Really Uptown. The median Beyer Speed Figure for this class is 76 and Really Uptown ran a 74 in his last start while breaking from the unfavorable #6 post at 4-1/2 furlongs. The morning-line maker has #4 Roman Counsel and #2 Sterling Outlook at lower prices than Really Uptown, who not only has better Beyers but looks to be much quicker from the gate. If Really Uptown is a higher price than these two, I will bet him with both hands.

At the window, I will put $150 to win on any of these debuters at 10/1 to 19/1 only:  #1 Icey Temper, #3 Ranger Heartley, #5 Siete Machos, #6 Summers At Delmar, #8 Get My Fix and #11 Saarface. Also, I want $300 to win on #10 The Skinny Man at 7/2 or better and $400 to win on #9 Really Uptown at 3/1 or more.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

Results, Hollywood Park Monday Race 10 — lost $450

Trainer Bob Baffert closed out Memorial Day by winning with #8 Only Be Cause

Trainer Bob Baffert closed out Memorial Day by winning with #8 Only Be Cause

Second-time starter #12 Bango popped out of the gate and led for most of the race by open lengths. This 9/2 shot, who is trained by Jorge Periban, had a two-length lead in midstretch, but he quit badly as #8 Only Be Cause inherited the front and put trainer Bob Baffert back in the winner’s circle.

Only Be Cause was making his eleventh lifetime start, however only three of them came at maiden claiming $32,000. I had him rated about the same as #7 Domestic Gold, who did not fire at 7/2.

In his previous five races, Only Be Cause never went off at odds higher than 3-to-1, and this race was no different as he was the 2-to-1 favorite. On social networking site Twitter, poster @larryzapeye was at Hollywood Park and minutes before the race he provided his reasoning for betting Only Be Cause:  “Baffert is still here and horse looks healthy.”

During the race, jockey Victor Espinoza sat Only Be Cause about four lengths off Bango’s lead. Espinoza asked for more in the stretch and, with the wire approaching, it looked like the son of Giant’s Causeway would lose for the 11th straight time. But Bango could not last and Only Be Cause ran onto victory.

I wagered $200 on #7 Domestic Gold, $150 on #12 Bango and $100 on #13 Candy Coat.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

2 1 Classical Bartok (CA) Delgadillo A Papaprodromou G 41.40 8
4 2 Decarchy Fever (CA) Quinonez A Sticka R 37.50 7
7 3 Domestic Gold (MD) Sorenson D Gallagher P 3.60 6
8 4 Only Be Cause (KY) Espinoza V Baffert B 2.40 1
9 5 Truly a Delight (CA) Baze M Bernstein D 5.90 4
11 6 Richardminichiello (CA) Valdez F Truman E 45.00 9
12 7 Bango (KY) Valdivia, Jr. J Periban J 4.90 3
13 8 Candy Coat (KY) Stra K Sise, Jr. C 7.00 5
14 9 Box Office Star (KY) Bejarano R Yakteen T 4.80 2
SCR Fire Scout (CA)    
SCR Benjamin Z (KY) Baze T Mitchell M
SCR Sovereign Lord (CA)    
SCR Boomtown (KY)    
SCR Downtown Banker (FL)    
Pgm Win Place Show
8 $6.80 $3.60 $2.40
14 $5.20 $4.60
12 $4.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $20.70 (8-14)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $

Ernie Munick, a Belmont Stakes warm-up act

Results, Hollywood Park Saturday Race 5 — lost $400

Jockey David Flores rallied in the stretch with #6 Embroiled

Jockey David Flores rallied in the stretch with #6 Embroiled

Something seemed to be amiss with #1 Extended as she ran down the backstretch. Jockey Joe Talamo had her under restraint as she tracked pace setter #5 Eclipse Syrah.

Extended, who was coming off an 11-month layoff, eased to the lead at the top of the stretch, but then quit badly about a furlong from the wire. Meanwhile, first-time starter #6 Embroiled rallied gamely in the center of the lane at 13-to-1 to mow down Eclipse Syrah.

Embroiled’s trainer, Darrell Vienna, is a cagey conditioner who works his horses out on Santa Anita’s dirt training track. Very few runners use that track and the odds on Vienna’s stock are usually overlaid because handicappers find it difficult to gauge whether the works were good or not.

Extended had a lot of positives going for him, so I bet $400. And lost. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

1 1 Extended (CA) Talamo J Koriner B 2.30 8
2 2 Angel of Mystery (CA) Gryder A Marquez A 32.00 5
3 3 Samantha Rocks (CA) Martin G Sayler J 17.10 6
4 4 Brilliant Response (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.80 4
5 5 Eclipse Syrah (CA) Baze T Sherlock G 4.60 2
6 6 Embroiled (CA) Flores D Vienna D 13.00 1
7 7 Flashy Traveler (FL) Valdez F Metz J 25.70 10
8 8 Desired Rose (CA) Vergara O Perez M 121.50 9
9 9 Dee Dee’s Flight (CA) Scott J Sierra C 87.90 7
10 10 Flash Dance (CA) Solis A Becerra R 3.20 3
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $28.00 $11.40 $5.80
5 $7.00 $3.80
10 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $48.60 (4-2-6)
$1.00 Exacta

Results, Hollywood Park Saturday Race 1 — lost $100

544083_420x300_mb_art_R0During the 10 minutes leading up to race time, the odds on the winning horse #6 Asanti fluctuated between 5/2 and 4/1.

My plan was to bet $250 on this gray granddaughter of Free House at 2/1 to 7/2 and she seemed to be in the perfect pari-mutuel spot at 3/1 with a minute to post.

But during the race, as Asanti surged from the back of the pack to the lead on the turn, I saw on the live video feed that her odds drastically sank to 3-to-2.  Somebody, it seems, hit Asanti late. And they hit her hard.

Unfortunately for the blog, my minimum price was 2/1 so my only live bet was $100 on second-place finisher #4 She’s Very Rare at 7/1. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

1 1 Lil Red Hot (CA) Arambula P Soto A 61.20 6
3 2 Maeve (CA) Solis A Becerra R 25.80 3
4 3 She’s Very Rare (CA) Gomez G Warren D 7.00 2
5 4 Kaylie’s Joy (CA) Baze T Dominguez C 21.70 7
6 5 Asanti (KY) Quinonez A Gonzalez J 1.50 1
7 6 Luv’n Paradise (CA) Delgadillo A Schiewe P 107.00 8
8 7 Lady Alex (CA) Gryder A Koriner B 9.40 5
9 8 Gold Image (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 1.10 4
SCR Kant Catch the Kat (CA) Garcia M Sherman A
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $5.00 $3.20 $2.80
4 $5.20 $3.80
3 $9.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $10.20 (6-4)
$1.00 Superfecta

Monday, Hollywood Park Race 10 — 5:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $32,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3yo’s & up

Possible overlays                                  Morning line

#5 Benjamin Z                                    3/1
#7 Domestic Gold                                9/2
#8 Only Be Cause                               5/1
#12 Bango                                         5/1
#13 Candy Coat                                  8/1
(Note: #5 Benjamin Z was a race day scratch)

Zayat Stables bought #5 Benjamin Z for $950,000 in 2007, but he never hit the board in three maiden special weight starts last year. So today, he’s transferred from Steve Asmussen to Mike Mitchell, who drops him into this spot off of a seven-month vacation.

I’ve seen Mitchell use a similar move before, but he gelded the horse. I plan to look at the changes on Monday to see if the track announces that Benjamin Z is a new gelding.

Both #7 Domestic Gold and #8 Only Be Cause have the right running style for 6-1/2 furlongs, but they’re Beyer Speed Figures are a bit weak as the median winning number for this class is a 77. Only Be Cause was bet to 3-to-1 or less in each of his last five races only to lose them all. Today, jockey Victor Espinoza rides.

I would normally not look to a first-time starter to contend in this type of race, but trainer Clifford Sise is cagey so he may get #13 Candy Coat to run first time out. Candy Coat is owned by Halo Farms, a barn that won with two of their last six debuters since 2006. Finally, #12 Bango wouldn’t need to improve much in his second start to take down the top prize.

Because #5 Benjamin Z was scratched this morning, I revised my bets. I will put $200 to win on the higher-odds horse between #7 Domestic Gold and #8 Only Be Cause.

Also, I want $100 to win on #13 Candy Coat at odds of 5/1 to 14/1 and $150 on #12 Bango at 2/1 to 7/1 only. If both Candy Coat and Bango are out of the betting zone, Then I will put $200 on both Domestic Gold and Only Be Cause as long as they are 5/2 or more. 

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

Slim pickin’s in HollyPark maiden sprint on Sunday

Only one Hollywood Park maiden sprint today on the synthetic, which is the third race, and it’s difficult to separate any of these horses. The Jay Em Ess Stable entry looks good in this maiden special weight, but it’s 8-to-5 on the morning line.

Also, five of the eight runners lining up are first-time starters and these older debuters are much more difficult to judge than straight 2-year-olds or 3-year-olds.

However, on Memorial Day, Hollywood is running a 10-race card and both the third and final races are for main track maiden sprinters. The 10th looks really interesting, as 14 runners are entered. The group includes layoff horses from Mitchell and Koriner, as well as a recently raced Baffert horse and a Sise debuter.

It should be a good one.

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 5 — 3 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Calif. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Calif. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo’s +

Possible overlays                         Morning line

#1 Extended                                 3/1
#4 Brilliant Response                       5/2

There are two $40,000 maiden claiming races for fillies and mares today and the Harris Farms-Carla Gaines-Rafael Bejarano team has a good shot to win them both.

Gaines trains #4 Brilliant Response, who ran decently in two maiden special weight races last summer at Del Mar. Today, she’ll try to win off a nine-month layoff.

Gaines is OK off a layoff, but trainer Brian Koriner is outstanding when the layoff horses he saddles are getting bet. Koriner trains #1 Extended, who has been idle for almost a year, but looks to have the best early speed and that’s important at 5-1/2 furlongs.

I will bet $400 to win on #1 Extended at 2/1 to 7/2, but $200 at 4/1 or better. If #4 Brilliant Response is in the 2/1 to 7/2 range then I will bet $300 to win on her, but only if Extended is either 4/1 or more or 9/5 or less.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by the notorious website “Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.”

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 1 — 1 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3+, f&m

Possible overlays            Morning line

 #4 She’s Very Rare                   5/1
#6 Asanti                                  5/2
#9 Gold Image                            8/5

 Of the nine horses going to post, three of them are first-time starters. I will let them beat me if they’re good enough.

Two fillies in here look strikingly similar. Both #6 Asanti and #9 Gold Image are coming off long recent layoffs, they’ve run close to the median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class, and both have the right running style.
Gold Image has great connections. Over the years, the Harris Farms-Carla Gaines team won plenty of maiden claiming sprints in Southern California, but they have recently underperformed. Also, jockey Rafael Bejarano won on 15 of the last 51 horses he’s ridden for Gaines, or 29 percent.
But Gold Image is likely to be overbet, which is why I’ll probably have my money on Asanti.
Another possibility is #4 She’s Very Rare. She was off slowly in her only start and now Garrett Gomez takes the mount. Also, trainer Donald Warren won with four of his last 17 second-time starters.
I will bet $250 to win on #6 Asanti or #9 Gold Image at 2/1 to 7/2 only. If both fall into the betting zone, then I will put my money on whoever is longer and wager nothing on the lower-priced one.
Also, I want $100 on #4 She’s Very Rare regardless of the prices on Asanti and Gold Image.

 © Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know

Rachel Alexandra may be great, but her win payoff was not

In the days after Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness Stakes on May 16, several friends and acquaintances wondered how it was humanly possible for me not to bet this sensational filly to win the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

One insinuated to me that I must be humbled by selecting against Rachel Alexandra. But I told him that I am proud of myself for developing the discipline to lay off the best horse in the race because her price was too low.

Not many of the horseplayers that I know would do that.

Another critic claimed that I wasn’t giving Rachel Alexandra enough credit. He said she was an obvious standout based on her 20-plus length victory in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, the subsequent purchase by owner Jess Jackson for $10 million, and jockey Calvin Borel’s decision — made without hesitation — to jump off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to ride her.

All over the TV, newspapers and the Internet, horse racing analysts spent the days leading up to the Preakness touting Rachel Alexandra as something special. So, why, why, why, didn’t you bet her, people asked me.

It’s true that Rachel Alexandra looked formidable coming into the race. She had tactical speed, the best last race Beyer Speed Figure, she was working out superbly and was ranked first out of 13 horses on my pace handicapping software printout. Pundits and horseplayers alike were raving about her from Suffolk Downs to Emerald Downs.

But in a post on this site, I took a stance against Rachel Alexandra. I wrote that she was coming back on short rest, she was acclaimating to a new training team, and most importantly that the other jockeys were likely to box her in, keep her wide or bump her around with their mounts to make  her trip a miserably difficult one.

It made sense. If owners and trainers were focused on keeping her out of the race by using the underhanded tactics of filling the gate with bad horses, then why wouldn’t jockeys be focused on making Rachel Alexandra lose by “race riding?” Do riders have stronger ethics than trainers or owners?

So, instead of betting Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, I opted for $200 to win on these three runners #3 Musket Man — who finished third at 11/1, #7 Papa Clem at 14/1, and #9 Pioneerof the Nile at 6/1. Then I put $100 on #11 Take the Points at 18/1.

“I don’t understand,” wrote Jimmy in a comment to this site. “The obvious choices were the top two finishers. It just seemed like a safer investment of $700, instead of a stab to strike it rich. 

He went on: “Can you explain why you would not bet the exacta: Rachel Alexandra-Mine That Bird or (to) win on Rachel Alexandra.”

Well, my main reason for not betting Rachel Alexandra was that at 9-to-5 her price had no value. And I almost never bet exactas because the takeout is some 30 percent higher than the win pool and, besides, I’m not that good at figuring out who will finish second.

But what I do have are lots of statistics on Southern California maiden races and I’ve uncovered plenty of money-making angles over the years. Some return $1.50 for every $1 bet, and others more than $2.

However, even when examining the greatest of handicapping angles, whenever I enter <2/1 into the data base filter, the analysis almost always shows the bet to be a money loser.  About the only way I would consider betting a horse at less than 2-to-1 is if it’s a Mike Mitchell-trained maiden claimer.

As post time for the Preakness was closing in, I looked up at the tote board and was surprised to see Rachel Alexandra, the 8-to-5 morning line favorite, at 2-to-1. And I started asking myself at what price would I abandon the long shots and put all of my money on her.

I decided that at 3-to-1, I was going to rearrange my bets so I’d have enough on her to break even, but if she clicked up to 7-to-2 or better then I would unload everything on Rachel and forget the others. Instead of drifting up though, her odds dropped to 9-to-5 with a couple of minutes to post and that’s where they stayed. 

One of Rachel Alexandra’s backers told me that she was a good bet because he believed she had a 65 percent chance to win the Preakness. But it is very difficult for me to give any horse more than a 40 percent chance to win a race.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I was among the 44,186 at Del Mar’s Pacific Classic in 1996 who watched 39-to-1 shot Dare and Go stop Cigar’s record-tying winning streak at 16.

Cigar hadn’t lost a race in two straight years and, of course, like Rachel Alexandra Cigar had a great chance to win his race. But I wasn’t going to take short odds on Cigar either. Instead, Dare and Go looked OK, so I put a few dollars on him and was rewarded with a win payoff of more than $80.

During big racing days like the Derby, Preakness, Belmont and Breeders’ Cup, the racing press greatly influences betting patterns of casual fans who show up in droves. In the recent past, racing writers compared colts like War Emblem, Smarty Jones  and Big Brown to Secretariat in the same way that NBA scribes compare Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Michael Jordan.

But dominating championship athletes like Jordan and Secretariat come around about once in a lifetime, so comparisons seem to always end in disappointment. And even Secretariat, generally considered the greatest modern racehorse of them all, didn’t go undeafeated as you can see by watching the 1973 Whitney Stakes below.

If you’re a horseplayer, what’s bad for the dramatic story line, is good for the wallet. That’s because when War Emblem, Smarty Jones and Big Brown all lost the Belmont Stakes at minuscule odds, whoever had the winner was  rewarded with payoffs ranging from $74 to $142.50. Last year, I played three horses against standout Big Brown in the Belmont and cashed for $79 when D’Tara hit the wire first. So, when a celebrity horse looks like it can’t lose, it pays to take a dissenting view then try to beat it with multiple horses. 

In the running of the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra was carried wide by Big Drama on the first turn, but got a much better trip than I thought she would. However, she paid just $5.60, which I believe was a fair price, but was in no way an overlay.

In fact, jockey Mike Smith said second-place finisher Mine That Bird, who Smith rode, would have likely won the Preakness had he stayed out of trouble and gotten a clean trip.

So, saying Rachel Alexandra had a 65 percent chance to win sounds extremely optimistic to me.

Furthermore, because Rachel Alexandra paid so little, most of the bettors who cashed tickets on her probably lost all of their Preakness winnings after betting the next two races.  So, seriously, is a horse like Rachel Alexandra going to help you make a profit for the month, or the year? It’s doubtful.

Sure, the people who bet Rachel Alexandra say how great she looked and how obvious it was that she’d win the race. But almost all favorites look good, or else they wouldn’t be the favorite.

And if the obvious horse won every race, we’d all be calling our bets in from our boats at the Newport Beach Yacht Club.   

Yes, Rachel Alexandra had a great chance to win the Preakness, and she  paid a fair price. But I am looking to bet great horses at great prices. And if I can’t find one, then I’ll bet several runners against any type of short-priced horse, even if that means wagering against a great horse.

Because that’s the only way I’ve found to make long-run profits in this game.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

Racing finally has something genuine to sell in ‘Rachel’

Thoroughbred racing needed this. Really, it did.

It’s been a tough couple of years for the battered-and-bruised sport of kings and finally — finally — in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes filly Rachel Alexandra provided the feel-good story the industry needs to sell racing to mainstream America.

Every year during the 3-year-old classics, industry insiders promote some promising young colt as the next big thing. But not only has no horse won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, but in 2006 — and again in 2008 —  prominent horses were seriously injured on national television during classic races.

Sadly, the injures suffered by Barbaro in the 2006 Preakness Stakes and by Eight Belles in the 2008 Kentucky Derby led to their deaths. And racing people spent months trying to articulate to the press the dangers of racing horses without being accused of animal cruelty.

Then on Saturday, along came Rachel Alexandra. She beat America’s best colts after some owners schemed against her Preakness entry and some horseplayers thought she couldn’t get the job done. In doing so, she became the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years.

The wheels were set in motion on May 1 when she romped home in the Kentucky Oaks by 20-1/4 lengths. Current owner Jess Jackson saw the race on TV and two weeks ago paid $10 million for Rachel Alexandra and pointed her to the Preakness Stakes amid much criticism.

But Jackson is a sportsman who relishes a challenge. America yearns for greatness and this filly appears to be the real deal.

In the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra broke from the far outside post #13 and shot straight to the lead. However, Big Drama in post position #1 also ran early and floated Rachel Alexandra out four paths wide on the first turn.

Using the filly’s speed early turned out to be another masterful decision by jockey Calvin Borel, who was the same rider that scooted Mine That Bird up the rail to take the Kentucky Derby from far off the pace.

“I had to let her go,” Borel told the Washington Post. “If I didn’t do that, I’m going to get hung eight or nine [horses] wide.”

Rachel Alexandra, who Borel said did not seem to like the Pimlico surface, took over the lead on the backstretch and never gave it up. At the top of the lane, she was ahead by three lengths, but Mine That Bird, with new jockey Mike Smith aboard, came surging  at the wire. However, Mine That Bird’s rally fell a length short.

With the hype that came along with Rachel Alexandra’s huge Oaks victory, the betting public made her the 9-to-5 Preakness favorite, almost expecting to see a tremendous performance. And they were not disappointed.

Personally, I could not wager on her at less than 2-to-1. But then again, I don’t think I’d bet on Secretariat if he was that low either. Hey, you’ve got to have rules in this game or you’ll go broke quickly. Right?

Instead, on this site, I wagered $200 on #3 Musket Man at 11/1, #7 Papa Clem at 14/1 and #9 Pioneer of the Nile at 6/1. Then I bet another $100 on Take the Points at 18/1. The best finisher was Musket Man who missed by 1-1/2 lengths while placing third.

So, now Thoroughbred racing has something genuine to sell America. But just imagine how sweet it would have been if Rachel Alexandra had won the Derby and a filly was going for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park on June 6.

Now, that really would have been a captivating story.

Bad bets: Super filly Rachel and ‘That (lucky) Bird’

In the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, Rachel Alexandra’s dominating 20-1/4 length victory brought back memories of Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont win.

Being a filly who was training well, she would have been a great value bet at about 6-to-1 had she run in the Kentucky Derby. But the secret is out and at less than 2-to-1 today, she will offer absolutely no value and cannot be bet in the Preakness Stakes.

For the past 15 days, all of the pundits have been raving about Rachel Alexandra’s Oaks. Many dismiss Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird at Pimlico because, they say, he was extremely fortunate to ride the golden rail without being blocked. And he’s unlikely to get a trip as favorable in The Preakness.

Furthermore, experts say that Rachel Alexandra is a special filly who should be able to whip this weak group of 3-year-old colts. But these are the same horse racing pundits that tried to tell us that War Emblem, Smarty Jones and Big Brown were all-time great horses before they earned their stripes by winning the Triple Crown.

The problem with many of these newspaper and television analysts is that they want to be a part of greatness the same way that hometown baseball writers want to see their teams win the World Series. Therefore, they write stories about what they want to see happen and use superlatives to get people excited about the possibilities.

Usually, racing writers are too quick to jump to conclusions. From a betting perspective, it’s great because casual race fans believe they’re betting the second coming of Secretariat, so the money pours in and a horse that should be 5-to-2 goes off at 3-to-5.

This leads to monster payoffs like the 2002 Belmont Stakes when Sarava defeated War Emblem paying a whopping $142.50, and again in the 2004 Belmont when Birdstone outran Smarty Jones to pay $74. In last year’s Belmont, another anointed superhorse named Big Brown succumbed to the unheralded D’Tara,  whose backers were rewarded with $79. 

But, you say, Rachel Alexandra won the Oaks in a gallop, so how could she possibly lose today? I’m glad you asked.

First of all, she has undergone many changes since the Oaks. She was bought by Stonestreet Stables and transferred from trainer Hal Wiggins to Steve Asmussen. That means she needs to acclimate to a new trainer, groom and new surroundings at Old Hilltop. Also, her recent races have been spaced out by a minimum of 22 days, but now she’s coming back on just 15 days of rest. The one time she ran with only 14 days rest, she suffered one of her three losses.

In the Oaks, Rachel Alexandra did not face much competition and she had one of racing’s easiest trips. She stalked the leader from second place, then pulled away in the stretch.

The tour around Pimlico doesn’t figure to be quite as easy. First, she’s breaking from post number 13, which may cause a wide trip that’s made worse by the track’s tight turns.

And the other riders are likely to make her life difficult by trying to intimidate her. Jockeys may intentionally push her wide on the first turn or box her in at any point in the race. She may get bumped hard by other horses or blocked as she’s looking for running room.

Rachel Alexandra may lose because Borel moves her too quickly into a hot pace or she may finish second because Borel loses too much ground by keeping her wide to avoid trouble.

If handicappers think these scenarios are far fetched, then think back to War Emblem’s loss in the 2002 Belmont shown below. A confirmed front runner, War Emblem got off a bit slowly, was shuffled around, then a wall of horses pinned him on the rail on the backstretch, so he never made the lead until the far turn.

And in the 1997 Santa Anita Derby, Bob Baffert’s Silver Charm gunned to the lead with the D. Wayne Lukas-trained filly Sharp Cat. Silver Charm ran 6 furlongs in 1:09 while running head-to-head with Sharp Cat until she could not take anymore and tired in the stretch. According to my pace software, Silver Charm’s Santa Anita Derby was the fastest run 6 furlongs of any Kentucky Derby prep race in 12 years. I believe Baffert ordered the tactics intentionally to compromise Sharp Cat’s chances.

My opinion of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is that his win can be attributed to the rail-skimming ride that Borel gave him. The rail was faster than other parts of the track and he saved tons of ground the whole way. He ran a 105 Beyer Speed Figure, which I reduced to 95 because he’s not likely to have the advantages he enjoyed at Churchill Downs.

Watch the overhead video below and you’ll be amazed how Borel slips through tightest of cracks with Mine That Bird while never being blocked.

In the Derby, Pioneerof the Nile, Musket Man and Papa Clem all ran decent races while either being wide or bumped around. All three should be in the 5/1 to 10/1 range and they may get better trips, which will give them the necessary energy to pounce on the pace setters in the stretch.

At the window, I will put $200 on Pioneerof the Nile at 4/1 or more; and $200 on both #3 Musket Man and #7 Papa Clem at 7/1 or better. Also, as a long shot, I’ll put $100 on #11 Take the Points at 12/1 or better.

Larry Zap gets us front row for the amazing Green Monkey auction. All-time highest-priced yearling sold for $16 million

Baseball Ironman turns hunches into Kentucky Derby gold

Cal Ripken, Jr. and his friends hit for big money by betting Mine That Bird at Churchill Downs

Cal Ripken, Jr. and his friends hit for big money by betting Mine That Bird at Churchill Downs

Sure playing in 2,632 straight major league baseball games was quite a feat, but what’s really impressive about Cal Ripken, Jr. is that he is one of the few horse bettors to hit it big on Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Back in the day, Ripken, Jr. no doubt played winning baseball by using the science behind scouting reports and probabilities, but when it comes to picking the ponies he seemingly puts his money on names, numbers and hunches. But it doesn’t matter because he’s having just as much success hitting winning horses as he had hitting fastballs during his Hall of Fame baseball career.

While doping out the Derby in his Churchill Downs suite on May 2, Ripken connected with so many things about Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird that the horse did everything for Ripken except whinny the melody to the Baltimore Orioles fight song.

Ripken, who regularly attends the Derby with his wife Kelly and their friends, won large sums of money by betting the 50-to-1 shot winner that shocked the horse racing world. According to the Baltimore Sun, a Ripken spokesman named John Maroon confirmed that Ripken and many others in the suite cashed on Mine That Bird.

And when you think about it, Mine That Bird was a standout for Ripken based on three solid hunches. 

Ripken played for the Orioles, who are often referred to as “the birds” by baseball announcers and headline writers. Jockey Calvin Borel, who rode the horse, shares Ripken’s first name, and Mine That Bird’s saddle cloth number was #8, which was the same digit Ripken wore on his back while playing in a Major League record 2,632 straight baseball games from 1982-1999.

Yep, it looks like baseball’s Ironman is solid gold at the racetrack.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Maiden King. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

Results, Hollywood Park Sunday Race 6 — won $325

super%20clipBefore this race ran, I was listening to Hollywood race caller Vic Stauffer handicap the contenders as they paraded to post. And Stauffer had lot’s of good things to say about #11 Spacy Tracy, which included how this filly will crush this field if she ran back to the 78 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in her debut. Stauffer also added that he was confident that trainer Angelo Tekos could get the horse to win off her 17-month layoff.

With most other TV handicappers, I would not have paid much attention to their comments. But Stauffer is also the agent for jockey Joel Rosario, who has won on 24 percent of his 70 mounts this meet and was named to ride Spacy Tracy.

Spacy Tracy, who was 6-to-1 on the morning line, took enough action to be bet to 5-to-2 at post time. As the race began, jockey Tyler Baze sent another 5-to-2 shot #7 Mad For Plaid for the lead and she was in front by a length on the backstretch.

But on the turn, Spacy Tracy loomed dangerously in third place behind #10 Tahitian Bluff, a longshot who was fading fast in second place. In the stretch, Mad For Plaid was game, but Spacy Tracy ran her down to win by 1-3/4 lengths. These two were so dominant that the third place horse #3 Secret Potion was eight lengths behind Mad For Plaid.

I bet $250 on Spacy Tracy and picked up $875, but profited only $325 because I also had $300 on the Mike Mitchell-trained #14 To Hot for You, who ran poorly at 5/1. 

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Maiden King. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

To watch a replay of this race, go to



1 1 Global Inspiration (CA) Baze M Mendoza J 39.40 10
2 2 Poolside (CA) Quinonez A Periban J 50.00 7
3 3 Secret Potion (CA) Bejarano R Hollendorfer J 7.00 3
4 4 Be an Angel (KY) Delgadillo A Sherman A 16.90 12
5 5 Castillon (CA) Flores D Moger, Jr. E 20.40 11
7 6 Mad for Plaid (KY) Baze T Miller P 2.90 2
9 7 Atticutie (AZ) Contreras B Fiscal S 98.40 13
10 8 Tahitian Bluff (KY) Sorenson D Glatt M 18.00 5
11 9 Spacy Tracy (KY) Rosario J Tekos, Jr. A 2.50 1
12 10 Cape Moonlight (CA) Garcia M DeLima J 7.80 8
13 11 Lola Rastaquaire (CA) Stra K Dupuis J 102.40 9
14 12 To Hot for You (FL) Gryder A Mitchell M 5.10 4
15 13 Whatafantasy (CA) Valdez F O’Neill D 28.00 6
SCR Rio Revelde (CA)    
SCR Grand Symphony (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
11 $7.00 $3.80 $3.00
7 $4.20 $3.20
3 $3.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $13.20 (11-7)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $143.20 (11-1-11)

Results, Hollywood Park Sunday Race 4 — lost $300

Jockey Corey Nakatani gunned #11 Repo to the lead to win at 4-1/2 furlongs

Jockey Corey Nakatani gunned #11 Repo to the lead to win at 4-1/2 furlongs

In these 4-1/2 furlong 2-year-old maiden races, first-time starters breaking from anything but posts 1-4 are at a tremendous disadvantage.

The gate is so close to the first turn that jockeys in post #5 through #10 need to blast from the gate to the lead. If they gun, but don’t make the lead then often they end up wide and their horse has no energy for the stretch. Also, many of these horses are so young that they haven’t learned to rate well from behind.

In Sunday’s fourth, #11 Repo broke from the #10 post and didn’t leave the gate that well. She was in midpack a few seconds into the race, but then she burst by them all to shoot to the lead as the field moved into the turn. Jockey Corey Nakatani moved Repo to the rail, but with the tremendous use of early energy she was in danger of tiring in the stretch.

But, instead, Repo found a second wind that she used to bound away from the field by four lengths at the wire. It was an impressive victory against a strong post position bias.

My bet in the race was $300 to win on #3 Cougarette, a first-time starter who broke from post position #3 but never got into the race at 7-to-2.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Maiden King. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

To watch a replay of this race, go to



1 1 Chatty Lula (CA) Sorenson D Solis W 7.00 5
2 2 Sam’s Special (CA) Arambula P Ayers R 19.90 8
3 3 Cougarette (CA) Baze T Mulhall K 3.80 10
5 4 Tiz Folly (CA) Rosario J Velasquez D 29.10 7
6 5 Three for Marino (CA) Garcia M Walsh K 2.50 3
7 6 Camille C (CA) Baze M Polanco M 6.30 2
8 7 Dinnr With Nikki C (CA) Bejarano R Sherlock G 11.70 9
9 8 Fishin With T Ball (CA) Gryder A La Croix D 6.40 4
10 9 Billssecondchance (CA) Stra K Martinez S 20.00 6
11 10 Repo (CA) Nakatani C O’Neill D 10.30 1
SCR Summer Soprano (CA) Delgadillo A Stute G
Pgm Win Place Show
11 $22.60 $9.60 $5.60
7 $6.60 $4.60
6 $3.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $68.40 (11-7)


Sunday, Hollywood Park Race 6 — 3:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $25,000, 6 furlongs, 3 yo’s +, f & m

Possible overlays                       Morning line

#11 Spacy Tracy                              6/1
#14 To Hot for You                           9/2

Mike Mitchell adds blinkers to #14 To Hot for You, who has shown early speed in previous races. This filly is making her fourth start and has been steadily dropping in class. She had came back from a seven-month layoff on April 19 and may be a lot better than she looks in her past performances.

Mitchell is winning at a 36 percent clip with maiden claimers and won six out of the last 12 times he added blinkers for the first time.  If that’s not strong then I don’t know what is.

Also, second-time starter #11 Spacy Tracy has a couple of quick workouts on her way back from more than a year away from racing. In her January 2008 debut, she ran a 78 Beyer Speed Figure while showing superior early speed to any of the other fillies and mares in here.

I will bet $500 to win on #14 To Hot for You at 2/1 to 7/2 but just $300 at 4/1 and higher.  Also, I want $250 to win on #11 Spacy Tracy at 2/1 to 9/1 only.

This story is written exclusively for Maiden King and cannot be duplicated or reprinted, especially by website Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need to Know.

Sunday, Hollywood Park Race 4 — 2:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Possible overlays                   Morning line

#2 Sam’s Special                           12/1
#3 Cougarette                               4/1
#4 Summer Soprano                    20/1

Post position means everything in these 4-1/2 furlong races.

Last Thursday in this same type of race, jockey Rafael Bejarano gunned Track N Attack for the lead out of post position #1. The favorite in the race, Really Uptown, also tried hard for the lead, but was coming from post #6 and when they swang into the turn he was a length behind.

Really Uptown’s jockey Martin Garcia started pushing his horse along early and tried hard all the way to the wire, but couldn’t get within a length of Track N Attack, who won at 6-to-1. But I believe if the post positions were reversed then Really Uptown would have won by a length.

In this race, the best-looking first time starter is #3 Cougarette who will be ridden by Tyler Baze. I will also watch #2 Sam’s Special and #4 Summer Soprano for betting action.

I will bet $300 on any of these three horses — #2 Sam’s Special, #3 Cougarette, and #4 Summer Soprano at 6/1 or less only.

© Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Maiden King. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by website Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

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