2017 Holy Bull Stakes – Return of the Empire

Nine colts, led by last year’s 2YO Champ, are set to contest Saturday’s Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16 mile, Grade 2 event is the first of three Florida prep races for the 2017 Kentucky Derby. The qualifying points are 10-4-2-1. 



Since 2000, the only horse to pull off the Holy Bull / Kentucky Derby double is Barbaro.   Closing Argument placed second in both races.  


The Favorite:

All eyes will be on CLASSIC EMPIRE as he makes his three-year-old debut. Yes, he’s the class of the race, and he’s expected to make short work of his rivals. Two Juvenile Champs started their 3YO season in the Holy Bull Stakes, both finished second; Hansen in 2012 and Shanghai Bobby in 2013.  So, it isn’t inconceivable that Classic Empire could lose.   From a class and record standpoint, he stands head and withers above the rest.  On an interesting side note, Classic Empire’s sire Pioneerof the Nile gave us 2014 Holy Bull victor Cairo Prince. Read Classic Empire’s Pedigree Profile.


Could Upset:

If Classic Empire is a little rusty, the brilliant and undefeated FACT FINDING (The Factor – Sweet Belle, by Deputy Commander) could lead them on a merry chase. Todd Pletcher has brought the pretty gray colt along conservatively. After capturing his initial start, Fact Finding beat allowance foes next out. In his third start, Fact Finding outclassed his rivals by seven lengths in the  Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream, setting a new stakes record for the mile race in 1:36.98 over a sloppy track. This will be Fact Finding’s first two-turn attempt, but the colt’s pedigree indicates that he should handle it. His graded stakes placed dam won at a mile on dirt and at 1 1/8 miles over the lawn.

Worth a Second Look:

GUNNEVERA is also making his 3YO debut in the Holy Bull. He doesn’t have the tactical speed of the top pair, but that could be a good thing in the long run. Trainer Antonio Sano wisely kept the Chestnut colt out of the Breeders’ Cup and was rewarded with a powerful 5 ¾ length victory in the Delta Jackpot. Gunnevera’s sire Dialed In captured the 2011 Holy Bull and Florida Derby. His damsire Unbridled won a stirring edition of the Kentucky Derby. This colt should improve with maturity and distance.  Read Gunnevera’s Pedigree Profile.


Last seen in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes, TALK LOGISTICS raced in heavy traffic for most of way, finally getting clear around the 1/8 pole. He closed ground on the battling top pair and missed by only 1 ¼ length. By High Cotton, Talk Logistics has s sprinter/miler pedigree but should handle 1 1/6 miles. There’s quality in his female family, too. He’s a half-brother to Grade 3 stakes placed miler Schivarelli and the stakes-winning sprinter B C’s Train.


Exotic Plays:

IRISH WAR CRY is too fast for the Maryland horses, so he’ll face bigger and better in the Holy Bull.  The son of Curlin captured his debut by 4 ½ lengths and returned to win the seven-furlong Marylander Stakes by a nose after a prolonged battle. In both starts, he threw down triple-digit late pace speed figures. Irish War Cry has the pedigree to appreciate longer distances and is making his two-turn debut. He’s a half-brother to the stakes placed sprinter Irish Politics.


FIRE FOR EFFECT is a last out maiden winner. The field he beat wasn’t that strong, but he did it the right way. Stuck in traffic and eating mud for most of the race, the colt finally found a seam. In a well-timed ride by Corey Lanerie, they scored by a narrow half-length.  By Smart Strike out of a turf stakes winning daughter of More Than Ready, Fire For Effect could enjoy longer distances.


Needs a Career Best:

Has Kiaran McLaughlin figured out the key to SHAMSAAN? The Holy Bull will be the colt’s first race on dry dirt. After three off the board finishes on turf and mud in New York, Shamsaan shipped to Florida and triumphed over maidens by 9 ¾ lengths over a sloppy Gulfstream Track.  Shamsaan is by Bernardini out of a daughter of Dynaformer. His dam is a full sister to multiple stakes placed turf router Cognashene and a half sister to Canadian Champion 2YO filly Catch The Thrill. Shamsaan’s second dam is Canadian Champion 3YO Filly Catch The Ring.  There’s no doubt that Shamsaan should handle 1 1/8 miles to 1 ¼ miles and he has a classy family. But questions surround this colt. Was the competition easier than what he previously faced or is he starting to mature? 


CAVIL faced Talk Logistics in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. After chasing the pace inside for half of the race, Cavil tired to finish sixth, 7 ¼ lengths behind. Shamsaan’s stablemate is capable of rebounding in his second start over the track. I don’t see him pulling an upset, but perhaps with a career best, he could fill out lower exotics. He’s well bred, by Elusive Quality out of a daughter of 3YO Champion Filly Ajina.


PERRO ROJO has hit the board once in six starts. All of his races have been over dirt, but that might not be his best surface. The colt has a classy pedigree; By Birdstone out of a half sister to 2YO Champion and sire Gilded Time, Perro Rojo is a half brother to Arlington Million (G1) hero Hardest Core and to multiple stakes placed turf miler, Calla Lilly. Calla Lilly bore two turf blacktype earners, Crittenden and Side Road.  I see green in his future….and it isn’t the winning purse from the Holy Bull Stakes.



Track bias:  Pace pressers have captured the last five editions of the Holy Bull, while two winners settled in mid-pack early.  Due to the track configuration, the starting gate is about ten strides from the first turn, so anybody in post 8+ is at a disadvantage. Three of the last five winners were making their three-year-old debut and had last raced in November.  The other two winners had recent preps at Gulfstream.  McLaughlin has conditioned two of the last three Holy Bull victors. Both colts were favored to win.


Classic Empire’s race to lose. He’s the class of the race. In the absence of need the lead speed types, the jockeys can play cat and mouse. Irish War Cry, Fact Finding and maybe Cavil could hustle for the early lead. Classic Empire may look to draft in behind the early speed. If Castellano can keep Gunnevera closer to the field within striking range, he could have a shot. 




#1 GUNNEVERA (9-2)


Virtual Horse Racing vs Life Racing

By: David Trujillo

Virtual horserace betting has become a new format for online players to enjoy horseracing while waiting for the real life races to come along. There is always some race happening around in the world, and sport betting houses like William Hill provide a large enough market to offer odds almost 24 hours a day, almost. There is always a stretch in between races, that gap has now been filled with virtual racing.


How does it Work?
Technology is a wonder. William Offers 3 racetracks that look very real with background settings, 3D horses and jockeys and a live spokesman.
* Racecourses: Portman Park, Steepledowns, Sprintvalley
* Races every 3 minutes
* Real odds


The horses and jockeys have real odds. By that I mean that the odds you see are the actual chances of a horse winning a race. In real life the odds are more of a close guess, it depends on handicapper skills and methodology how he rates a horse and decides its odds. So this is the main big difference that players should keep in mind.


Disadvantage to Virtual Horseracing
It is said virtual horseracing is more like a lottery compared to real life handicapping. In the real world handicappers make a profit from figuring out the winning odds of a horse that has been overlooked by the general public. In simpler words, the horse with the not so great odds can actually be the best choice; it was just overlooked due to weather conditions, health problems from contenders, track experience etc.
Virtual racing cuts down the variables to one simple odd, not much to analyze. For most professional handicappers this is no fun and it gives the racetrack (or racebook) all the advantage. This is true, and we should state virtual race betting is mostly for fun and should be considered more of a game of chance than a professional opportunity for handicappers.


Advantages to Virtual Horseracing
The biggest advantage is that compared to other games of chance, say the popular slot machines, it has better odds of winning. It is also a way for the new comer to learn the ins and outs of basic horserace betting. Learn the different betting types like Win, Place, Show, Trifecta, Quinella and its multiple variances.
To check the intro video to virtual horse racing competitions – click here.


Is There any AI (Artificial Intelligence Involved)?
Not that I am aware off. There is a list of horses and jockeys and players can follow a favorite horse around the different virtual races. But doe the amount of races in a day, month or year affect the health of the horse? Do horses get injured, pregnant or rebel in the middle of the track? Do jockeys fall off or rig the game? No, none of those very common happenings occur in virtual horseracing.
It would be fun to see that happening. Some virtual horseracing games exist were people can actually breed horses, train them and depending on the whole experience grow them to be successful racers and sell them to their accumulated value. AI will offer the world of horseracing a whole new opportunity for the common fan to get more involved with the entire practice, even if its only virtual and for fun.



Gunnevera is the Class of the 2016 Delta Jackpot (G3)

The top four finishers in the 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot (G-3) will earn points towards the Kentucky Derby. But so far, the race is just a blip on the Derby trail.  Only two colts have finished in the top three in the Jackpot and in the Triple Crown races.  Closing Argument was the 2005 Kentucky Derby runner-up, and who could forget this year’s Preakness champ Exaggerator, who finally got revenge on his nemesis Nyquist in the classic event?   

The million dollar purse and a chance for the horses’ connections to indulge in some Cajun cuisine aren’t the only attractions to the Delta Jackpot.  The 1 1/16 mile race is an official Kentucky Derby Prep race, a chance to earn precious points towards a start in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. The Delta Jackpot hero will earn ten points, with a 4-2-1 point system for second through fourth place.

This year, a full field of ten two-year-old colts are scheduled to run 1 1/16 miles over the Delta Downs oval. The weather should be clear and sunny with a fast track. Six of the contestants won their last race on the lead or pressing the pace.  Four colts have traveled 1 1/6 miles, but only two have been successful at the distance. Three are stakes winners.


2016 Delta Downs Jackpot field

Winning Candidates

#6 GUNNEVERA (Dialed In – Unbridled Rage, by Unbridled) is the only confirmed stalker in the field. He used this running style to chase down the speed in the Saratoga Special to win by a length. However, next start out, his regular jock Florida-based Jesus Rios, moved too soon in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, taking the colt off of the rail to go very wide around the turn. Gunnevera had a good turn of foot, but and flattened out a little in his two-turn debut. Still, he recorded the final 1/16 in 6.84, the third-fastest time in the race. Javier Castellano was on the Chestnut colt in the Saratoga Special and jumps back on for the Jackpot.  Trainer Antonio Sano has been putting Gunnevera through his paces in morning works at Gulfstream Park, recording two pre-race five-furlong bullet moves.

Pedigree: Gunnevera has the pedigree to handle longer distances. Read the full analysis.


#1 PAT ON THE BACK (Congrats – Accomplished, by Awesome Again) is a steady win machine on the New York state-bred circuit. The Chestnut colt can win from on or off the pace, and the Jackpot will be his two-turn debut. The Ken McPeek trainee was last seen capturing the Sleepy Hollow Stakes over a muddy Belmont surface.  He’ll be ridden for the first time by Robby Albarado, who gives up the mount on J Boys Echo.  Last year, Sunny Ridge invaded from New York to finish a desperate neck behind Exaggerator in the Jackpot.

Pedigree: Pat on the Back has miler speed over stamina pedigree. He is a half brother to the New York state-bred juvenile stakes winner ARAH ACCOMPLISHED.


Dark Horses

#10 TIP TAP TAPIZAR (Tapizar – Counterpoise, by Storm Cat) has never finished out of the money in five-lifetime starts, and he’s a true road warrior.  He beat Our Stormin Norman in their debut, placed third behind Classic Empire in the Bashford Manor (G3), and was beat up in the Saratoga Special, but still hit the board. In his last start, the Asmussen trainee closed for second place behind Line Judge in the  Jean Lafitte Stakes. Veteran jock Gerard Melancon pilots Tip Tap Tapizar.   Melancon rode in three of the last five editions of the Jackpot Stakes. He won the Jackpot in 2011 and 2013 and finished third last year.

Pedigree: Tip Tap Tapizar has a sprinter/miler pedigree. He is a half brother to SP sprinter Devine Music. His dam is a half-sister to the multiple SW & sire PEAKS AND VALLEYS, plus she’s a half-sister to the multiple SW ALTERNATE, who is the dam of multiple GSW ALTERNATION.


#7 BALANDEEN (Bernardini – Mamma Kimbo, by Discreet Cat) is ready to take the next step. After beating maiden claimers and allowance runners, the Chris Hartman trainee placed second in the Street Sense Stakes at a mile.  Balandeen has been posting strong works at Churchill and outworked a stablemate in his second to last breeze, a bullet five-furlong move. Interesting prospect to hit the board, if he steps up.

Pedigree:  Balandeen has the pedigree to handle 1 1/16 to maybe 1 1/8 miles. He is the first foal out of a G2 SW. 


#3 THIRSTFORLIFE (Stay Thirsty – Promenade Girl, by Carson City)  is making his third start at 1 1/16 miles and finally gets a fast track. He was a determined winner over allowance foes in his last race at Keeneland, getting the distance in a slow 1:46 over a good track, although he got his final 1/16 in 6.07.  The Mark Casse trainee owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field at 102.

Pedigree: Thirstforlife has stamina over speed pedigree. He’s a ¾ brother to CAVORTING, winner of Adirondack (G2) & multiple G1SW (Test, Ogden Phipps, & Ruffian S.). Their dam is a multiple SW miler.


#8 HOT SEAN (Flatter – Stormy B, by Cherokee Run) is one of two California shippers. Bob Baffert has brought this colt along nice and easy. After losing his 5 ½ furlong debut by a ½ length, Hot Sean added a furlong and got the job done. He returned to beat allowance foes at a mile last time out in his third start. Oddly, the colt’s Bris Speed Figures are an identical 87 in each race.  Hot Sean rallied from off the pace in his debut but fought it out on the front end in his last two starts.  Baffert gave the bay colt two very strong pre-race works, including a bullet five furlongs. Could be dangerous if left alone on the lead, but he’ll be low odds and hasn’t beaten much.

Pedigree: Hot Sean has a sprinter/miler pedigree. He’s a half-brother to Fountain of Youth winner ITSAKNOCKOUT & multiple SW sprinter STORM POWER. Dam is half to turf router RUSH BAY & SP sprinter MISS INCLINED.


Slim Chance

The rest of the field hasn’t run fast enough to be competitive here. 

#2 LINE JUDGE  – puts his three-race win streak on the line in the Jackpot. After losing his debut by a neck, the colt has overwhelmed his rivals by a combined 12 ¾ lengths. He was an easy winner of the Jackpot prep race, the Jean Lafitte Stakes.  Jackpot rival Tip Tap Tapizar made a move from off the pace to finish second, but couldn’t keep up with his loose on the lead rival.  Line Judge’s speed figures have improved in each start, but other than Tip Tap Tapizar, he hasn’t beaten anyone noteworthy, and his speed figures are ehhhh.


#4 OUR STORMIN NORMAN – finally won his maiden in his fifth start. To be fair, his last three starts were on turf.  By Blame out of a daughter of Stroll, the bay colt has a classy, Claiborne-bred pedigree, but he may be slower to mature. Keep an eye on him for next year.


#5 DANGERFIELD – ships in from California for Doug O’Neil. Dangerfield has developed a bad/good race cycle. He won his maiden last time out in the Oak Tree Juvenile after stretching out from a sprint.


#9 J BOYS ECHO – is a promising young colt. He’s a last-out maiden winner and outclassed maidens by 5 ½ lengths after some trouble.  He has a wonderful pedigree, by Mineshaft out of a G2SW sprinter. His half brother Unbridled Outlaw placed in Iroquois S.(G3) as 2YO. A half sister bore SP miler DEPUTY’S ECHO. So what’s the problem?  With only two starts under his girth, the Dale Roman’s trainee isn’t as experienced as the rest of the field, and he’s had problems in both starts.  He’s owned and trained by the same connections as BC Juvie runner-up Not This Time.  I’ll say not this time for J Boys Echo, but he’ll be one to watch next year.



Favorites have hit the board in the last five editions of the Jackpot.  GUNNEVERA shows consistent numbers in all of his races and is the only graded stakes winner in the Jackpot.  He’s the lone stalker in the field, so if they drag race on the front end early, he’ll benefit.  PAT ON THE BACK has also been steady, albeit against state-breds, but there are no world beaters in here. His pace-setting style will benefit from a rail trip. TIP TAP TAPIZAR is the hard luck horse of the race. He’s a hard trier and gets a jock who knows his way around this track.  HOT SEAN is California Speed. He took advantage of a slow early pace to win last time out and could be a dangerous foe if they do the same thing here.


#6 GUNNEVERA (5-2)

#1 PAT ON THE BACK (10-1)

#10 TIP TAP TAPIZAR (10-1)

#7 BALANDEEN (10-1)

2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Who is Our Next Champion?

When the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is contested at Santa Anita, anything goes.  Two last out maiden winners have captured the Juvenile this century – both at Santa Anita.  In the six years that the Southern California track has played host, two Champagne Stakes winners, two Frontrunner (previously known as Norfolk S.) and a Gran Criterium Stakes winner, plus the two last out maidens, have stood in the Juvenile Stakes winner’s circle.

The winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will not only gallop off into the sunset with a pretty wreath of flowers, he will almost certainly be named Champion 2YO Colt and installed as the favorite for the 2017 Kentucky Derby.  Never mind that only two colts in the history of the Juvenile actually won the Derby and less than half of the colts that race in the Breeders’ Cup make it to the Triple Crown Trail. But I digress.

Let’s review this year’s Juvenile field. Here’s a chart summing up important points.

2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Colts

#1 KLIMT (Quality Road – Inventive, by Dixie Union) This guy was 4 for 5 going into the FrontRunner Stakes.  Up to that point, Baffert had the best 2YO colt in training on the West Coast.  Klimt broke a little slow in the FrontRunner and found himself vying for last place in the early stages, someplace he’d never been before. Meanwhile, Gormley was winging it up front, about a length in front without serious pressure.  Bejarano swung Klimt into action around the turn, but had about 6 lengths to make up. Not a place to on a speed favoring track with an easy-moving pace setter. Klimt tried hard and closed some ground, but wasn’t going to get to Gormley.  Klimt’s final quarter was run in 32.09, the exact final quarter as Gormley.  

Klimt had his key pre-race breeze on Oct. 25, traveling 6F in 1:11.80 in company with Big Gray Rocket, who had finished fourth in the Champagne Stakes. The pretty gray Rocket started off a length in front. Around the turn Klimt moved to his stablemate and urged slightly to draw even. Big Gray Rocket gave a good fight and the two finished on even terms.  Nice work by both colts, but would have liked to have seen Klimt not have to work as hard to stay with his speedy workmate.  

If he breaks well, Klimt will either contest the lead from the rail or sit directly behind the pace setter in the Juvenile. He has a miler/middle distance pedigree, and a long stride. He’s on his home turf and will be tough to beat. Read Klimt’s pedigree profile. Contender.


#2 SYNDERGAARD (Majesticperfection – Magic Belle, by Gold Case) is a short nose away from a perfect 3-3 record.  He’s led every step of the way in all three starts. His last start in the one-mile Champagne Stakes ended with a thrilling stretch battle the undefeated Practical Joke.  Syndergaard blazed through fractions of 22.74, 44.63 and 1:08.75 before being collared by Practical Joke in the straight. Despite being softened by his early pace, Syndergaard fought hard on the rail, his nose in front just before and just after the wire. Syndergaard ran his last quarter in 25.89. The final time of 1:34.68 was a blink off of the stakes record of 1.34.20 recorded in 1983 by Devil’s Bag and narrowly missing the 1:34.40 set by Seattle Slew in 1976. 

Syndergaard had a slow canter at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. He moved easily without antics or pulling. The colt expressed interest when someone breezed by, but didn’t act up. He appears to have a good mind, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pletcher takes a page from his mentor, D Wayne and switches tactics last minute tor rate the colt behind the speed. Pletcher has done this before with varying success.

Pedigree: Syndergaard has a sprinter/miler pedigree 1 1/16 miles may be at or beyond his scope. He breaks next to Klimt and will fly to grab the rail.  If he throws down fast fractions in the Juvenile, Syndergaard will be flatter than leftover champagne. Pass.

#3 TERM OF ART (Tiznow – Miles of Style, by Storm Cat) won his maiden by a nose last time out at a mile in a very professional fashion. He was in rush hour traffic three wide the entire way, had to alter course slightly in mid-stretch and got the nose bob in the middle of a blanket finish. His final quarter was a slow 26.31, but his final 1/8 was 13.04, the fastest final fraction of all BC Juvie entrants who last raced at a mile. Yes, comparing times between tracks is apples and oranges, but this guy could be starting to improve at the right time. His last two gallops looked more like breezes, especially his last work on  Oct. 31   Not worried about the maiden angle. Term of Art has 3 races under his girth and two last-out maidens have won the Juvenile since 2000 – both at Santa Anita. Action This Day raced twice, winning his maiden at 1 1/16 miles by a nose and New Year’s Day won the Juvenile after capturing a mile maiden race. I’d feel better if Term of Art had “Day” someplace in his name, but he isn’t facing a tough crowd here.

Pedigree: Classy Classy Classy! Term of Art’s dam is an unraced full sister to G1SW turf miler MR SIDNEY & to multiple SP SAVE BIG MONEY. His second dam is multiple G1SW TOMISUES DELIGHT, who is a full sister to HOY MINESHAFT. His third and fourth dams are graded stakes winners and blue hens.  Could be an interesting long shot to hit the board if you’re feeling flush. Otherwise, watch for this guy on the Triple Crown trail.

#4 THEORY (Gemologist – Gem Sleuth, by Officer) won the 6F Belmont Futurity by 3 ½ lengths in his last start, getting his final quarter in 24.34. He’s raced twice, both times in sprints and is now stretching out for Todd Pletcher.  The trainer has a 2-17 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His only victories were with the stand-out favorites Uncle Mo (2010 CD) and Shanghai Bobby (2012 SA). Theory breezed a bullet 4F 49.40 with the 3YO allowance winner Ready Dancer on Oct. 29 at Belmont. The pair finished up well and Theory showed athleticism cutting the corner.

Pedigree: Theory has a miler’s pedigree. His dam is SP and there is minor blacktype in 2nd generation. 3rd dam is multiple G1SW TALLAHTO (Oak Tree Inv. Vanity, Santa Barbara, etc.,). Tallahto is the second dam of Artie Schiller. As mentioned before Pletcher doesn’t have the best record at Santa Anita. Theory’s SF are solid low 90’s, but this looks like a tough assignment for him. Pass.  

#5 CLASSIC EMPIRE (Pioneerof the Nile – Sambuca Classica, by Cat Thief) enters the Juvenile with three races under his girth, varying in distance from 4 ½ furlongs to 1 1/6 miles. He could be consitered undefeated if we draw a line through the Hopeful Stakes.  Classic Empire took a sharp right turn coming out of the gate and was declared a non-starter.  Mark Casse equipped the colt with a set of shiny new blinkers for the Keeneland Breeders’ Futurity. The colt broke from post 11, sat 2 – 3 wide just of of the pace for much of the race. He took command at the top of the stretch and won by 3 lengths under a hand ride. His final quarter was 32.26, not the fastest of times, but he was under a hand ride. Classic Empire stretched his legs with a moderate gallop at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.  He moved fluidly, not tugging or acting up, and when another horse joined Classic Empire on the outside briefly, he ignored the interloper and continued his steady gallop.

Pedigree: Classic Empire is bred along the same lines as American Pharoah. Both by Pioneerof The Nile out of a daughter of a Storm Cat stallion. The colt’s half brother  Anytime Magic captured a set of state-bred juvie stakes in his first two starts. His half sister Uptown Twirl  placed in a state-bred juvie stakes and as a 3YO, captured the Surfside Stakes and Pleasanton Oaks, both sprints. Classic Empire has the pedigree and conformation to handle classic distances, yet was precocious enough to capture his debut in May at 4 ½ furlongs.  I really, really like this colt. In fact, I like him so much, I don’t want him to win the BC Juvenile, simply because so few winners of this race make it to the Kentucky Derby trail and only two have stuck around to win the classic. Win Contender.

#6 THREE RULES (Gone Astray – Joy Rules, by Full Mandate) has been galloping under the radar, dominating the Florida state-bred races while the other colts have been fighting for graded stakes status. A lot of people have dismissed this colt. He hasn’t beaten anything; his times are slow.  When you’re 10+ lengths in front of everybody else, how fast do you need to run?  Remember Awesome Feather?  Wait, his times are slow?  Three Rules set a new stake record in the Dr. Fager, 6F in 1:09.49. The track record is 1:08.12 set by Big Drama as a 4YO.  The In Reality Stakes at 1 1/6 miles was the distance test for Three Rules. He answered with a resounding ten length victory, the widest winning margin of his career. Oh, and he got his final quarter in 31.84 the second fastest final quarter among the Juvenile contenders who prepped in a 1 1/6 mile contest. Three Rules was gate schooled at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Then jogged with the pony. The colt looked good, nice body weight, moving along proudly with his neck arched. The lead pony had some issues, but Three rules was calm and more professional.

Pedigree: Three Rules has a sprinter/miler pedigree, yet he may handle 9F with maturity. His sire Gone Astray is a multiple G2 – G3 SW at 8F – 9F.  Three Rules’ dam is a half-sister to multiple SP sprinter ROY’S RUCKUS. The 3rd dam DARK IMP is a SW sprinter.  Three Rules isn’t a one-dimensional sprinter. He sat behind horses in his second start and appears professional enough to handle whatever is tossed at him. Include him in your bets. I will.

#7 GORMLEY (Malibu Moon – Race to Urga, by Bernstein) is now 2 for 2. He outclassed maidens by 4 ¼  lengths in a slow 1:17.79 and 27 days later, scored a front-running victory in the Front Runner, upsetting Klimt. Gormley earned the fastest clocking for 1 1/16 miles, 1:43.57, of the juvie contenders who have raced at this distance. Gromley breezed 6F in 1:16.40 with a stablemate on Oct. 26. He’s a big, athletic colt with high knee action. Gormley sat a couple of lengths behind his workmate, but was relaxed, with ears flopping. Nearing the other horse, Gormley was suddenly all business, ears back, lengthening his stride while under a light hold. But once Gormley passed his workmate, the very pretty, curly ears went back up and he was looking around.  This is a sign of a mature, intelligent colt, who, despite having raced only twice, knows his job.

Pedigree: Gormley has a miler/middle distance pedigree & may go longer with maturity. His distaff line is filled with turf oriented stakes class. Gormley is the first foal out of a stakes winning turf mare. His second dam is an Irish SW.  He has a strong turf pedigree and descends from 1986 Champion Grass Mare Estrapade.  Trainer John Shirreffs isn’t noted for condition precocious youngsters, so this colt is one to keep an eye on. Gormley won both races on the lead, but doesn’t appear to be a speed freak. Contender.

#8 STAR EMPIRE (GB) (Foxwedge (AUS) – Celestial Empire, by Empire Maker) won his first two starts, over dirt and Tapeta. Tossed into stakes competition, he’s finished third in the AW Futurity and chased Theory in the Belmont Futurity. Per Trakus, Star Empire wasn’t getting any closer to his rival, his final quarter for six panels was 24.77. Star Empire galloped three times at Santa Anita. He has high knee action. In his Nov. 1 gallop Star Empire had trouble around both turns, cocking his head and moving sideways. Most likely because he was wearing blinkers and had trouble seeing where he was going. In the straight, the colt evened out and moved well under a light hold.

Pedigree: Star Empire has the pedigree to handle middle/classic distances and there’s a ton of turf affinity in his background.  His dam’s half-sister bore a multiple SP turf miler. There’s no other blacktype in the first 2 generations of his distaff line. Star Empire’s second dam is a half-sister to the G2 SW turf router Academy Award. Ashland Stakes heroine Well Chosen, the Two-time Sword Dancer Inv.(G1) champ Telling and Travers Stakes winner Golden Ticket are descended from Star Empire’s third dam. Star Empire should love the extra distance of the Juvenile. He has a later-maturing pedigree and at this point, appears a cut below the best.  

#9 PRACTICAL JOKE (Into Mischief – Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor) is undefeated in three starts. He prefers to sit off the pace and make one run. The Chad Brown trainee captured the Hopeful and Champagne Stakes, by a neck and a nose. He’s game and his speed figures have improved.  Practical Joke ducked in at the start of the Champagne Stakes, which in the long run, was a good thing for him. It enabled the colt to sit behind very fast fractions set by Syndergaard. He still had trouble putting away that rival in the stretch and won with a nose bob, getting his final quarter in 25.39. Practical Joke’s final breeze for the Juvenile took place at Belmont, on Oct. 29, where he traveled 5F 1:01.40 in company with the well-bred maiden Devine Union. Bruno de Julio couldn’t have stated it any better in his commentary of the breeze “ Practical Joke was strangled as rider did best imitation of bobble head doll on turn. Workmate Devine Union was under a loose rein late to finish heads up, but Joke has a ton left at the wire. Wasn’t as impressed with gallop out.”  That about sums it up.   

Pedigree:  Practical Joke has a sprinter/miler pedigree. His dam is a SP sprinter and half-sister to Louisiana Futurity winner CUBERA No other blacktype in 3 generations. Read his pedigree profile. Practical Joke may find 1 1/6 miles at the top of his distance range, however, he is aided by his running style and talent. This colt is aided by a quick pace and if he gets that, he’ll do his best running late. That is, if he doesn’t have to go too wide on the turns. This is a talented colt who likes to win and historically, the Champagne champ does well in the Breeders’ Cup. Practical Joke may depend on a good trip, but you won’t be laughing if you fail to add him to the contender pile.

#10 NOT THIS TIME (Giant’s Causeway – Miss Macy Sue, by Trippi) is the wow horse of the field. After losing his debt by 10 lengths sprinting, he came back to beat foes by the same amount at a mile. For an encore, Not This Time scored an 8 ¾ victory in the Iroquois. He clocked the fastest final quarter of the BC Juvie contenders, with a 30.51 – over a muddy track.  Not This Time has won from on and off the pace and his speed figures have jumped in each start. Dale Romans worked the colt at Santa Anita on Oct. 29, going 5F 1:01.60.  He has a good leg extension and a long reach. He galloped the distance under a loose rein without being asked. Not This Time is a muscular colt

Pedigree: Not This time has a miler’/middle distance pedigree. He’s half to BC Dirt Mile hero LIAM’S MAP & to SW sprinter TAYLOR S. Their dam Miss Macy Sue was in the money 19 of 25 starts as a dirt sprinter. She captured mostly listed stakes, and her lone graded stakes victory was the Winning Colors (G3). This is a hard-knocking mare and she was multiple graded stakes placed, including a third place in the 2007 BC Filly & Mare Sprint. Not This Time is a serious win contender.

#11 LOOKIN AT LEE (Lookin At Lucky – Langara Lass, by Langfuhr) Had a nice start to his career. After a toss out debut, the son of Lookin at Lucky successfully sat mid-pack/pressing when capturing his maiden and Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes. The colt had a different rider in his trio of starts. Then Ricardo Santana Jr. climbs on. Lookin At Lee is wrangled to the back of the pack and forced to take the scenic route both times, resulting in runner-up finishes. In the Keeneland Breeders’ Futurity, the colt was 14 lengths off the pace in the early stages. He clocked his final quarter in 31.81, just a tick faster than Classic Empire.  Lookin At Lee has been logging gallops at Santa Anita/   After his visit to the gate on November 3, the colt was a handful, doing his best Lipizzaner impression while jogging next to the pony. The Chestnut lead pony was not amused. Finally let loose, Lookin at Lee literally sprang into action, galloping along under a tight hold. Rider had a ton of horse and Lee’s misbehavior isn’t concerning, he’s just feeling good.

Pedigree: Lookin At Lee He has a miler/middle-distance pedigree. He’s half to SW turf miler BATTLEFIELD ANGEL & their dam is a multiple SW sprinter. Langara Lass is full sister to G3SW miler (8F – 9F) MADEIRA PARK & half to SW milers AMBLESIDE PARK & OVERACT. Lookin At Lee’s early races show that he has enough early speed to sit closer to the pace. If forced to sit far back early, Lookin At Lee will have no shot of winning this, unless he sprouts wings. He does have a shot of hitting the board. It would take a perfect trip to win.


11 of the last 16 winners won their prep for the Breeders’ Cup.  Two placed and three finished third. None finished worse than third.  Nine Juvenile heroes raced between 3-4 times.  Three started only twice and three started 5+ times.  Colts that haven’t had their prep race within a month are at a disadvantage.

A case could be made for just about every colt in here.  Most of the BC Juvie winners at SA don’t wire the field. Syndergaard will be winging it up front. Klimt to his inside may go too or just settle directly behind the pace setters. Star Empire and Gormley may press the pace.  Three Rules is an interesting one. He has the speed to keep up, but could take back and sit third or fourth. The rest will pile in behind while Practical Joke and Lookin At Lee watch the action from the back of the pack.


#6 THREE RULES (8-1)

#10 NOT THIS TIME (7-2)


#1 KLIMT (6-1)


#11 LOOKIN AT LEE (20-1)

#7 GORMLEY (5-1)


Future Champions in the 2016 Rags to Riches Stakes?

The Rags to Riches Stakes was inaugurated in at Churchill Downs 2013.  The most accomplished filly to have exited the Rags to Riches was Tepin. The youngster placed third. Tepin later found her calling on the lawn and was last year’s Champion Turf Mare.

This year seven juvenile fillies will contest the 2016 Rags to Riches Stakes.  My Sweet Stella was scratch from of the one mile contest.

farrellTrainer Wayne Catalano captured the 2014 edition of the Rags to Riches with West Coast Belle. This year, his hopes lie in recent maiden winner FARRELL (Malibu Moon – Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song). The dark brown daughter of Malibu Moon captured her maiden victory at 6 ½ furlongs over Churchill’s wet-fast track. After pressing a moderate pace, Farrell opened up under a hand ride by jockey Channing Hill. She ran away from the field by five lengths in 1:17.39.    24.65 6.66

Pedigree Notes: Farrell is a half sister to three stakes winners and a stakes placed runner.   Carpe Diem, winner of the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and second in the BC Juvenile. Carpe Diem  won the Blue Grass Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby as a three-year-old;   J. B.’S Thunder also captured the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland; Doncaster Rover is a multiple stakes winner in England.  And Semper Fortis, second in the Los Alamitos Derby (G2). The classy Farrell should enjoy a fast track the extra distance of the Rages to Riches.

CHINA GROVE (City Zip – Gatorette, by Distorted Humor) is the most experienced filly in the race with six starts under her girth.  After winning her debut and placing in the Astoria Stakes, the Ben Colebrook trainee went off form, in her next three starts.  In her last start, China Grove placed second to Lovely Bernadette after racing from off of the pace. China Grove appears one paced and simply outlasted a group of fillies that were going nowhere fast. 25.68, 6.73

Pedigree Notes: China Grove has a miler’s pedigree. She owns the only blacktype in her immediate family, but her dam is a half-sister to the stakes winning turf miler Sooonerette.  The second dam Gigis Skyflyer won a sprint stakes.

LOVELY BERNADETTE (Wilburn – Inlovewithlove, by Bernstein) tracked the pace in her last two starts and cleared the field each time. She’s hit the board in all three starts. The James DiVito  trainee has very high knee action and was drifting down the lane. The fillies behind her were staggering, and it wasn’t an impressive race.

Pedigree Notes: Lovely Bernadette is bred to be a sprinter/miler. Her first crop sire Wilburn was a miler who captured the Indiana Derby (G2). He has 39% 2YO winners from 113 starters.  Lovely Bernadette is a first foal. Her dam was a claiming level mare who was ITM in 5 of 21 starts, mainly as a dirt sprinter, but she also won one of four starts on the lawn. There’s no blacktype in the first two generations of her distaff line.

SAILOR’S VALENTINE (Mizzen Mast – Sortilege, by Tale of the Cat) won her debut with authority, traveling 7F in 1:23.74 at Keeneland. The second place finisher won next time out.  Sailor’s Valentine had a strong post race work of 4F in 47.4 breezing  with a stablemate. She followed up with an easy pre-race maintenance move, giving indications that she can move forward off of her debut. 25.43  13.22

Pedigree Notes: Sailor’s Valentine is a second foal. Her half sister is a sprinter/miler on dirt. Their dam is a half sister to a stakes placed sprinter. Dam’s half sister bore three stakes placed runners. The third dam Coup De Fusil set a new track record of 1:59.80 in the 1 ¼ mile Delaware Handicap (G1) and was one of the leading competitors of her generation.  Sailor’s Valentine may handle middle distances (9F) as she matures.

malukuMALUKU (Street Cry (IRE) – Javanese, by Medaglia d’Oro) gets her first opportunity to run on a fast track in the Rags to Riches Stakes. In her previous start, Maluku raced wide most of the way. She looked like a winner in the stretch, but surprisingly, the winner, who had an easy rail trip, came back in the shadow of the wire to nip Maluku by a head. The Michael Stidham charge was previously racing well on turf. Maluku receives Lasix for the first time.  12.01 12.69

Pedigree Notes: Maluku is a second foal. Her dam is an unraced half-sister to the multiple graded stakes winning sprinter/miler Drill, who captured the Del Mar Futurity (G1)as a two-year-old and the San Vicente (G2) and  Lazaro Barrera Memorial (G3) the following year. Maluku has the pedigree and conformation to handle middle to classic distances.

HOLIDAY’S ANGEL (Harlan’s Holiday – Senorita Corredora, by El Corredor) finished third in her sprint debut. She won her maiden by 5 ¼ lengths a month ago over a wet-fast track at Churchill after stretching out to a mile. 12.29 13.34

Pedigree: Holiday’s Angel is the first foal out of an unraced mare. Her dam’s half-sister bore Kentucky Juvenile (G3) winner Lou Brissie.  Holiday’s Angel has the pedigree to handle 8.5F, and possibly 9F when she matures.

NAUGHTY LITTLE NUN (Songandaprayer – A Little Evil, by Deputy Minister) was off of the board in her first two starts once over mud and the other on turf. Third time on a fast track was what she was praying for. The Bernie Flint trainee took the lead at the start of the 1 mile 70 yard race and never looked back, flying home by 7 ¾ lengths.  Her speed figures have improved in each start.

Pedigree Notes: Naughty Little Nun has plenty of speed and class in her pedigree. She’s a half sister to Bad Hombre, who placed in the 1 1/8 mile Curlin Stakes. Their dam A Little Evil is a half sister to 1997 HOY & Champion 2YO Favorite Trick.  A A Little Evil’s half sisters bore stakes winning milers Fury Kapcori (Precisionist S. G3); Tizfiz (San Gorgonio H. G2 9F); Favorite Tale (Smile S. G2 6F).  Naughty Little Nun may be distance challenged beyond 1 1/16 miles.


FARRELL looked good in her last and came back with a pre-race bullet. SAILOR’S VALENTINE exited a strong race and can move forward.  MALUKU really stepped it up in her last start. She was wide the entire way and fought down the stretch. One thing I didn’t like to see is that the tenacious winner Heir Apparent (entered in Race 2) didn’t let Maluku by at any point on the gallop out & Maluku looks like she’s still figuring things out. Still, she received the highest late pace speed figure in this race and will improve with racing.

#7 FARRELL (6-1)


#2 MALUKU (10-1)