#1 Mr. Bowling (KY) and #1A Mark Valeski (KY) – To me there is no reason to stress over this race. The field has drawn 14 horses, but if Mark Valeski runs back to his last race none of them should be able to beat him. He went toe to toe with El Padrino in the Risen Star losing by a nose, and there doesn’t look to be a threat like him in this field. You also get Mr. Bowling, who will serve as a decent back up plan if Mark Valeski doesn’t run well. Mr. Bowling won the LeComte Stakes, but bounced badly finishing last in the Risen Star. He’s not as bad as that last race so look for him to come back with a better effort. Continue reading →
#8 El Padrino (KY) – I’m not going to make any bold predictions here, my top two are the same as what you’ll read anywhere. Even though there is a little buzz about News Pending and Take Charge Indy, Union Rags and El Padrino are above them by a few lengths I think. I’m picking El Padrino to win this race in a mild upset. The talent level between these two is comparable, but I think El Padrino’s last race will help him win this one. In the Risen Star he showed that he can dig down deep and fight off a pesky rival in Mark Valeski, which is something Union Rags did not have to do in the Fountain of Youth. I believe this race will come down to a head to head battle, and El Padrino may be better prepared to win one of those at this moment.
#6 Union Rags (KY) – Even though I’m picking El Padrino, I mean no disrespect to Union Rags. I honestly believe he needs this race to sharpen up his game for the Kentucky Derby. He does not need to win this race. What he gets out of it is more important than where he finishes. I’m looking for him to run a big race, but get nosed out at the end. Remember that Matz wants him to fire his biggest race on the first Saturday in May, and not leave it all on the track this Saturday.
–Game On Dude – He’s got Karma on his side! Game On Dude is ridden by the wildly popular female jockey Chantal Sutherland, and his trainer Bob Baffert has suffered a heart attack while in Dubai. The common theme seems to be “win one for Bob and Chantal,” and Game On Dude has a decent chance to do just that. His front-running style gives him a big advantage , as the Meydan Racecourse tapeta surface has shown a bias of favoring speed horses in the past. Look for Game on Dude to grab the lead early, and hopefully never look back. I am not predicting a win here, but hitting the board is a very realistic goal.
–Royal Delta – Royal Delta looks to become the first female to ever win the Dubai World Cup. However, this is one tall order. Her first race of 2012 was less than flattering, as she was beaten several lengths by Awesome Maria. Trainer Bill Mott was not worried about that though, saying she usually follows a good race up with a flat one. She’ll need to run the best race of her life to win this one. She is one classy filly, but probably is up against a little too much in this spot. Continue reading →
Union Rags takes on El Padrino this Saturday in the Florida Derby
1. Union Rags – Florida Derby week is finally here! Can Union Rags win it and hold on to the number one ranking? We’ll have a full preview of the race this Thursday.
2. Creative Cause – Creative Cause continues to impress the clockers at Santa Anita in the mornings as he prepares for the Santa Anita Derby. It’s hard to imagine any other three-year old doing better than he is right now.
3. El Padrino – If he can tackle Union Rags this Saturday at Gulfstream he will be the number one three-year old in the country.
4. Hansen – It now looks like Hansen is headed to Keeneland to run in the Bluegrass Stakes on April 14th. It’s a logical move to keep him at home for his last prep.
5. Secret Circle – His Rebel win was so impressive, but the question of how far he wants to run still looms large. He’s pointed towards the Arkansas Derby next where he’ll try to win the “Oaklawn Crown.” Usually the door slams shut on “sprinters” when they go a mile and one-eighth, so the Arkansas Derby will be his make or break race when it comes to the Kentucky Derby.
6. Bodemeister – Bob Baffert says Bodemeister will run in either the Santa Anita Derby or Arkansas Derby next. He’ll need to finish first or second in either race to get the graded earnings required to make the Kentucky Derby field. Arkansas might be the easiest of the two spots, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes to Hot Springs. Continue reading →
-1st Star – City Sage (FL) – When the opening fraction of 21.65 came up on the board in last Saturday’s Hot Springs Stakes, I figured front-runners City Sage and Silver Magnus were surely to be cooked up front. Silver Magnus faded, but City Sage did not as he put his fellow rivals away, and then held off a furious charge from Our Dark Knight. It was an utlra impressive performance for City Sage, and one that has to have trainer Kelly Von Hemel smiling about the possibility of running in the Grade 3 Count Fleet as well as some of the sprint races at Prairie Meadows this spring/summer.
-2nd Star – Outta Tune (KY) – As impressive as City Stage was, Outta Tune ran six furlongs on Sunday almost a full second faster than City Sage did. The final time was also the fastest six furlongs of the Oaklawn meet. This seven-year old gelding has now put in back to back performances that have been impressive. This race might have trainer Chris Richard thinking about the Grade 3 Count Fleet too. One thing to look forward is the fact that both City Sage and Outta Tune are more than likely heading to Prairie Meadows, so if they don’t meet in the Count Fleet, you can still expect them to meet in Iowa.
-3rd Star – Dust and Diamonds (KY) – After two and a half months off, Dust and Diamonds came back sharp on Saturday as she put away the field in a $35,000 Allowance Optional Claimer. She lead wire to wire, and was never really challenged. The win might have trainer Steve Asmussen thinking stakes company for her next time out. She clearly is classy enough to give it a shot. Continue reading →
When you hear the last name Von Hemel, horse racing is always the first thing to come to mind. Last Sunday we had the privilege of spending the day with the farrier of the Von Hemel family, Kelby Von Hemel. Kelby is an apprentice farrier currently working at Oaklawn Park. He is the grandson of legendary trainer Don Von Hemel, as well as the son of trainer Kelly Von Hemel, and the nephew of Breeders Cup winning trainer Donnie K Von Hemel.
After graduating high school, Kelby went to college for a year and half, but missed the game too much and decided to attend horseshoeing school in Dardenelle, Arkansas. After the 12 week program, Kelby was able to get back into the mix of the sport he loves: horse racing. He then started traveling from track to track with his dad, Kelly.
At the age of 20, he has been working as a farrier for almost a year now, but has been around horses all his life. Many people don’t have an understating of how important a farrier can be. “When a horse is having issues, you start with the feet and work your way up trying to figure out what is wrong,” Kelby says. The Thoroughbred Racing Dudes are proud to bring you our interview with Kelby, as well as some video of the proper way to shoe a horse. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did! Continue reading →
Last week we showed you one of the most important angles in handicapping which was determining the shape of the race. This week we’ll cover a topic of equal importance, which is “track class.” All race tracks are not created equal! Track class simply refers to how good of horses are running at a certain track. Horses that run well at the bigger and better tracks are likely to have success when they leave that track and go run somewhere else. In this article we’ll go through most of the tracks across the United States and talk about how strong these tracks are in comparison to others.
The Big Boys
Oaklawn Park: The track always produces quality three year olds, both male and female. The last five Horse of the Year winners have run at Oaklawn. Their claiming horses usually have a lot of success at places like Prairie Meadows, Remington Park, Lone Star, Louisiana Downs, and other tracks around the country as well.
Del Mar: This is California’s most popular track, and probably its most competitive track as well. It runs in the Summer and is used by many trainers to prep their horses for Breeders Cup races.
Santa Anita: While Del Mar is the most popular track in California, Santa Anita is not too far off. They’ve hosted several Breeders Cup events in the fall, and also run a winter meet that always produces high-class three-year olds. Continue reading →
1. Union Rags – He holds on to his number one spot for another week, but I don’t believe he is above and beyond them like so many others think. His next start is shaping up to be a stiff test, as El Padrino is now pointed towards the Florida Derby as well.
2. Creative Cause – His win in the San Felipe was great, but it was the gallop out that really has me sky-high on Creative Cause. After the wire, Creative Cause galloped out 12 lengths in front of the rest of the horses. This tells me he may have only just been getting started in the mile and one-sixteenth race. That’s great news for fans that are backing him in the Kentucky Derby.
3. El Padrino – It now looks like the Florida Derby is where he’s pointed. Let the Union Rags vs. El Padrino hype begin… Continue reading →
-1st Star – Secret Circle (KY) – The worries about this horse getting the Kentucky Derby distance are still legit, but you cannot question this horses heart and talent. For the second straight race Secret Circle had to dig deep in the stretch to fight off a pesky Scatman, and then had to hold off a late charge from Optimizer. It’s clearly obvious that if this horse sees a horse in front of him, he’ll do everything in his power to get passed him. His win in the rebel makes him five for six for his career, with his only loss being to Out Of Bounds by a neck at Santa Anita early in the year. Trainer Bob Baffert has already said Secret Circle is likely to come back for the Arkansas Derby so it looks like we will have the possibility of an “Oaklawn Crown” this year.
-2nd Star – Tiz Miz Sue (KY) – After trying eight times to get a win at Oaklawn, the ninth time was a charm from Tiz Miz Sue, as she was dominate in winning the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes this Saturday. She sat a length off the front-runners for most of the race, then exploded down the lane to win by three lengths. Tiz Miz Sue received a 102 beyer number for her effort, which was the exact beyer that Havre De Grace ran in her come back race this weekend. From here you would think the Apple Blossom is the obvious choice for Tiz Miz Sue, and it could be the next start for Havre De Grace as well.
-3rd Star – Optimizer (KY) – Welcome back to the triple crown hunt D Wayne Lukas! Optimizer was completely written off by almost everyone, but within a few strides late Saturday afternoon he became a player in the Kentucky Derby picture. Lukas has always said Optimizer can run all day, and he sure looked like he could judging by the way he ran in The Rebel. Optimizer was just hitting his best stride very late in the race, and passed several rivals within seconds, but fell short by a head to Secret Circle. If you watch the gallop out after the race, Optimizer is well clear of the others just a few short steps after the wire. One issue that has me a little concerned is the fact he did not change his leads. That is something that will have to be corrected for him to move forward. Continue reading →
#8 Secret Circle (KY) – Make no mistake about it…this horse race revolves entirely around Secret Circle. He’s the best horse in the race, and if he can get the distance none of these are going to beat him. BUT, can he get the distance? I have him as my top selection so obviously I believe he can. It was really impressive to see him sit off the lead a bit in the Southwest, and patiently wait to make his move. His price is going to be short, but I’m willing to play him at low odds. He’s far from a lock though, so let’s go through the horses that will be there to pick up the pieces if Secret Circe decides a mile and one-sixteenth is not for him. Continue reading →