The 3rd Annual Racing Dudes Oaklawn Awards

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Will Take Charge Winning the Oaklawn Handicap was the Moment of the Year

Horse of the Meet: Close Hatches – This was a tough award to decide on this year, but in the end it had to be Close Hatches who won based on the fact that she was the only horse to win more than one Graded Stakes race this meet.  With no standout three-year old, and Will Take Charge only running atOaklawn once, Close Hatches is the most worthy of the group.

Older Male of the Meet: Will Take Charge – He was our three-year old horse of the meet last year, and now he is our older horse of the meet this year!  Even though he only ran once at Oaklawn, he proved much the best out of the other horses in the Handicap Division.  He also put on a show for the locals every morning during training hours, as he was the first horse to hit the track each morning.  Many thanks to Willis Horton and D Wayne Lukas for running the horse once at his home track.

Older Female of the Meet: Close Hatches – Obvious choice here as she won both the Azeri and Apple Blossom.  The last horse to accomplish this feat was Havre De Grace, who went on to win horse of the year.

3 Year Old Male of the Meet: Tapiture – Another tough award to decide on, but in the end Tapiture got the nod over Ride On Curlin and Danza.  Tapiture wo nthe Southwest Stakes, nearly won the Rebel, and finished a decent fourth in the Arkansas Derby.  He now has lost some hype heading to Kentucky, but still made his presence felt in Hot Springs.

3 Year Old Female of the Meet: Sugar Shock – She was a courageous winner of the Fantasy Stakes, and crossed the line first in the Honeybee before being disqualified.  She’ll go up against much tougher next time out in the Kentucky Oaks, but there is no doubting that she was the best of the bunch at Oaklawn Park.

Sprinter of the Meet: Alsvid – Even though he didn’t win any of the sprint stakes at Oaklawn this meet, his consistent performances land him this award.  He was a solid second in the King Cotton, Hot Springs, and Count Fleet while others in the division had up and down moments.  You can bet this horse is due for a win soon.

Owner of the Meet: Danny Caldwell – An absolutely dominating performance by Caldwell as he won the owners title by nine races.  We had the privilege to get to know Danny early on in the season, and after meeting him it’s easy to see why he’s so good at what he does.  He’s one of the best claimers in the game, and puts in the time and effort it takes to be successful.  The award couldn’t have been won by a nicer guy.  Caldwell will be heading to Prairie Meadows next!

Trainer of the Meet: Steve Asmussen – Amongst all the controversy, Asmussen just kept on winning.  As usual he took the last two weeks by storm and crushed his competition once again.  This is Asmussen’s second straight Racing Dudes Award.  Also Asmussen’s assistant Darren Fleming deserves a mention as well as he looked over the stable for most of the year and always does a great job.

Jockey of the Meet: Ricardo Santana Jr. – Another guy who is receiving his second straight Racing Dudes Award.  Santana proved that last year was no fluke as he easily won the jockey’s title for the second straight year.  This is a guy who is getting better and better with every mount, and is a rising star in the game.

Flop of the Meet: Strong Mandate – It’s painful for us to admit it…but Strong Mandate never lived up to the expectations we had for him.  After running decent in the Southwest and Rebel, he was last in the Arkansas Derby and now sits on the outside looking in as far as the Kentucky Derby is concerned.  Hopefully he can regroup and regain his form.

Favorite Moment of the Meet: Will Take Charge Wins the Oaklawn Handicap – He pretty much stole the show on Derby day.  It was a thrill to see the home town horse win in front of all his fans.  Major shout out to Brady Lukas for allowing us get in the winners circle with one of our favorite horses of all time!

Restaurant of the Meet: TIE – Hawgs and Jahna’s – That’s right…we like to eat. The Dudes have been to many places in Hot Springs over the years, but Hawgs Pizza and Jahna’s Italian easily are the two best.  We highly recommend them to anyone who visit’s the Hot Springs area.

Race of the Meet: The Rebel Stakes –

 

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Blinkers Off 065: Kentucky Derby Road En Fuego Podcast Released

Blinkers Off Logo2Blinkers Off has released a new episode!

Blinkers Off provides weekly insights into the world of horse racing including race selections and previews, handicapping methods and exclusive stories.

You can view all episodes of Blinkers Off by visiting our podcast page.

Blinkers Off 065: Kentucky Derby Road En Fuego – March 21, 2014

The Thoroughbred Racing Dudes recap the controversial stretch drive in the Grade II Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park, and preview the last two 50 point races of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series at Turfway and Sunland Park with the Grade III Sprial Stakes and Grade III Sunland Derby.

[audio https://racingdudes.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/blinkers-off-065.mp3|titles=Blinkers Off 065: Kentucky Derby Road En Fuego]

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Oaklawn Report #10

Close Hatches won the Azeri Stakes this Weekend

Close Hatches won the Azeri Stakes this Weekend

Three Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Close Hatches (KY) – She shipped in and stole the show from the three year olds!  Sometimes horses struggle with the Oaklawn surface when shipping, but Close Hatches proved to be a champion Saturday when winning the Azeri Stakes and turning back several worthy challengers in the stretch run.  When you consider her race record, and also considering when she did lose last year it was to some seriously good horses, this one could be turning into a super star.  You’d think they’ll come back now for the Apple Blossom, and unless someone ships in with some serious class it could be lights out for everyone else who enters.

– 2nd Star: Hoppertunity (KY) – It’s a Rebel Stakes that we’ll be talking about for a long time, but through all the bumping, grinding, and controversy it was Hoppertunity who came out on top.  Is Hoppertunity the best horse moving forward?  That’s certainly up for debate, but it also doesn’t matter when it comes to this particular race.  All the credit must be given to jockey Mike Smith for this one as he made things as difficult as possible for Tapiture and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.  Santana rode a brave race himself, but the veteran Smith did just enough to make the difference.  Hopefully we’ll see the top four finishers of this one all come back for the Arkansas Derby.

– 3rd Star: Golden Lad (KY) – Pletcher’s success at Oaklawn isn’t as strong as many of the other tracks he comes too, but Golden Lad broke that trend as he dominated the Razorback Handicap over a field that looked evenly matched.  The field is probably not the best Grade 3 you’ll find, but it still included several horses that like Oaklawn and were highly touted.  Who knows where he’ll pop up next, it could be virtually anywhere.  It would be nice to see him back in a month to run in the Oaklawn Handicap…but will he come to challenge Will Take Charge?

Flop of the Week

Govenor Charlie (KY) – He was bet down to the 2-1 favorite and thought of by most as being the better of the two Baffert horses that had shipped in for the weekend, but Govenor Charlie didn’t run a step in the Razorback step.  He was out-ran from the beginning, and never got into the race at any point.  With the track starting to play strangely his connections could point to that as an excuse, but to me it looks like he’s not a true two turn horse.

Trainer Standings

Rank Trainer Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Steven M. Asmussen 92 21 20 6 $1,117,655 23% 47 51%
2 Chris   Richard 61 19 5 6 $472,416 31% 30 49%
2 Federico   Villafranco 58 19 13 7 $394,153 33% 39 67%
4 Cody   Autrey 81 17 16 11 $477,911 21% 44 54%
5 Chris A. Hartman 59 15 10 6 $441,515 25% 31 53%
6 Ron   Moquett 76 9 9 6 $389,282 12% 24 32%
6 Brad H. Cox 43 9 6 7 $335,329 21% 22 51%
8 D. Wayne Lukas 72 7 8 10 $410,471 10% 25 35%
8 Kellyn   Gorder 30 7 5 2 $285,976 23% 14 47%
8 Randy L. Morse 54 7 8 3 $278,087 13% 18 33%
8 David R. Vance 28 7 4 1 $162,441 25% 12 43%
8 Joseph R. Martin 58 7 7 11 $156,050 12% 25 43%

Jockey Standings

Rank Jockey Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Ricardo   Santana, Jr. 195 37 34 14 $1,721,982 19% 85 44%
2 Norberto   Arroyo, Jr. 183 28 27 24 $973,504 15% 79 43%
2 David   Mello 149 28 18 19 $658,411 19% 65 44%
4 Ken S. Tohill 99 18 16 10 $526,001 18% 44 44%
5 Ramon A. Vazquez 108 17 17 16 $492,874 16% 50 46%
6 Terry J. Thompson 135 16 12 16 $555,867 12% 44 33%
7 Channing   Hill 98 14 11 13 $691,055 14% 38 39%
7 Alex   Birzer 165 14 20 14 $530,800 8% 48 29%
7 Jon Kenton Court 112 14 11 14 $412,090 13% 39 35%
10 Luis S. Quinonez 121 13 13 15 $489,342 11% 41 34%

Owner Standings

Rank Owner Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Danny R. Caldwell 56 18 13 7 $383,293 32% 38 68%
2 Maggi   Moss 32 12 3 4 $226,655 38% 19 59%
3 Steve   Landers 51 10 9 8 $175,719 20% 27 53%
4     Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. 43 8 8 3 $244,740 19% 19 44%
5     Ulwelling, Al and Bill 24 6 4 2 $149,162 25% 12 50%
6     Driver, James L. and Ywachetta H. 15 5 5 2 $238,737 33% 12 80%
6 William   Stiritz 40 5 3 1 $191,852 13% 9 23%
6     Zayat Stables, LLC 21 5 1 3 $174,792 24% 9 43%
6 Craig   Drago 15 5 0 4 $162,780 33% 9 60%
6     Poindexter Thoroughbreds LLC 22 5 3 3 $124,436 23% 11 50%
36     N P H Stable 11 5 1 2 $73,407 45% 8 73%

Preview to Next Week

– Saturday: The Gazebo Stakes – Three Year Olds – Six Furlongs – Purse: $100,000

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Oaklawn Report #9

Euphrosyne "Wins" the Honeybee Stakes

Euphrosyne “Wins” the Honeybee Stakes

Three Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Work All Week (IL) – All this guy does is win races!  Saturday’s Hot Springs Stakes was his first Stakes race outside of Illinois bred company, but that didn’t matter as he scored a decisive win over a fast closing Alsvid and Apprehender.  The win makes this horse an incredible nine for eleven lifetime, and a winner of six straight races.  Now that he’s passed this latest test, you’d have to think graded stakes company could be next in the Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn during the Racing Festival of the South.

– 2nd Star: Euphrosyne (KY) – It was a wild running of the Honeybee Stakes this Saturday, and in the end it was Euphrosyne who got the money via a disqualification of Sugar Shock.  Sugar Shock looked like she was going to be the winner deep into the stretch, but then took a severe right turn and nearly ran over Euphrosyne, which made for a clear decision for the stewards.  It was one of the more curious stretch runs in race history, and could set up for an interesting rematch later on down the road.  However for now, Euphrosyne sits atop the leader board of Oaklawn three-year old fillies.

– 3rd Star: Carve (KY) – What a comeback race for Carve!  The hard knocking honest horse had a nice 2013 running well in several graded stakes races, but Sunday’s allowance win at Oaklawn may have been his best race yet.  It’s clear the horse has improved since last uear, and you have to wonder if a race like this one could spring-board him into the Oaklawn Handicap next time out.  The waters would obviously be deeper in that one, but after his last race it’s clear that he could be ready for the challenge.

Flop of the Week

Taris (KY) – The Maryland shipper came in hyped, and surprisingly the tote board hinted that she was more highly thought of than Florida shipper Please Explain.  Neither of the shippers were able to get the job done in the Honeybee, but Taris was by far the lesser of the two.  After seemingly having a perfect trip up front, Taris faded badly and finished sixth. Maybe the class jump was too high, or perhaps she didn’t handle the track.  Either way, it was a big disappointment for a highly thought of horse.

Trainer Standings

Rank Trainer Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Steven M. Asmussen 75 18 17 5 $904,259 24% 40 53%
1 Chris   Richard 55 18 4 6 $456,308 33% 28 51%
1 Federico   Villafranco 54 18 12 7 $348,153 33% 37 69%
4 Cody   Autrey 78 17 16 11 $476,851 22% 44 56%
5 Chris A. Hartman 54 13 10 5 $389,600 24% 28 52%
6 Brad H. Cox 41 9 5 7 $305,129 22% 21 51%
7 Ron   Moquett 65 8 8 5 $360,729 12% 21 32%
8 D. Wayne Lukas 64 7 6 10 $366,557 11% 23 36%
9 Mark E. Casse 42 6 4 7 $328,548 14% 17 40%
9 Randy L. Morse 48 6 8 3 $236,269 13% 17 35%
9 Roger A. Brueggemann 35 6 7 4 $212,813 17% 17 49%
9 David R. Vance 23 6 3 1 $145,102 26% 10 43%
9 Michael E. Biehler 23 6 3 2 $141,262 26% 11 48%
9 Joseph R. Martin 50 6 6 9 $135,697 12% 21 42%
9 J. R. Caldwell 27 6 4 6 $96,517 22% 16 59%

Jockey Standings

Rank Jockey Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Ricardo   Santana, Jr. 167 33 31 12 $1,493,095 20% 76 46%
2 Norberto   Arroyo, Jr. 163 28 25 22 $907,067 17% 75 46%
3 David   Mello 123 23 15 17 $539,475 19% 55 45%
4 Terry J. Thompson 124 15 11 15 $532,518 12% 41 33%
4 Ramon A. Vazquez 96 15 14 16 $419,302 16% 45 47%
6 Alex   Birzer 147 13 18 12 $492,490 9% 43 29%
6 Luis S. Quinonez 106 13 11 13 $462,483 12% 37 35%
8 Channing   Hill 88 12 9 10 $581,464 14% 31 35%
8 Ken S. Tohill 82 12 15 9 $419,523 15% 36 44%
10 Jon Kenton Court 96 11 10 12 $341,772 11% 33 34%

Owner Standings

Rank Owner Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Danny R. Caldwell 52 17 12 7 $337,293 33% 36 69%
2 Maggi   Moss 31 11 3 4 $215,855 35% 18 58%
3 Steve   Landers 49 10 9 8 $174,739 20% 27 55%
4     Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. 40 8 7 3 $239,935 20% 18 45%
5     Ulwelling, Al and Bill 21 6 2 1 $135,662 29% 9 43%
6     Driver, James L. and Ywachetta H. 15 5 5 2 $238,737 33% 12 80%
6 William   Stiritz 38 5 3 1 $191,568 13% 9 24%
6     Zayat Stables, LLC 19 5 1 2 $168,488 26% 8 42%
6 Craig   Drago 13 5 0 3 $158,205 38% 8 62%
10 John C. Oxley 24 4 2 4 $216,169 17% 10 42%
10     Poindexter Thoroughbreds LLC 18 4 3 2 $106,690 22% 9 50%
10     Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. 24 4 3 2 $99,016 17% 9 38%
10     Martin Brothers, Inc. 21 4 2 2 $62,147 19% 8 38%
10     N P H Stable 10 4 1 2 $54,507 40% 7 70%

Preview to Next Week

– Saturday: The Rebel Stakes (Grade 2) – 3 Year Olds – 1 1/16th miles – Purse: $600,000

– Saturday: The Razorback Handicap (Grade 3) – 4 Year Old Males and Upward – 1 1/16th miles – Purse: $200,000

– Saturday: The Azeri Handicap (Grade 3) – 4 Year Old Fillies and Mares and Upward – 1 1/16th miles – Purse: $200,000

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Racing Dudes Personal Favorite Top 5 Races of the Year

1. Will Take Charge and Oxbow finish 1-2 in the Rebel Stakes

2. Oxbow wins the Preakness Stakes

3. Photo Finish in the Breeders Cup Classic

4. Will Take Charge surges late to win the Travers

5. Wise Dan wins the Breeders Cup Mile

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Oaklawn Report #10

Will Take Charge Wins the Rebel Stakes

Will Take Charge Wins the Rebel Stakes

3 Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Will Take Charge (KY) – All I can say is wow!  Although I definitely thought Will Take Charge would run much better in the Rebel, I really didn’t think he’d win the race.  A third place finish would have been a great effort, but he did so much more.  Toughness and heart are two qualities this horse has shown twice now, as he was able to dig down deep and find the wire at the right time in both the Smarty Jones and Rebel Stakes.  During the final 100 yards of the Rebel is when it looked like he was hitting his best strides, which is a great sign of things to come.  Now the question is will he stay home and run in the Arkansas Derby, or will the Bluegrass Stakes be his final Kentucky Derby prep?

– 2nd Star: Tiz Miz Sue (KY) – There is no other horse in the country that deserved to win the Azeri Stakes more than Tiz Miz Sue.  For over a year now she’s been knocking heads against the best in her division, and Saturday it was her turn to find the winners circle.  The win gave Tiz Miz Sue back to back Azeri victories, and also gives her all the momentum heading into the Apple Blossom.  Her victory also confirmed an angle that many handicappers believe in…Steve Hobby trained horses running their second race off a layoff are pretty tough to beat!

– 3rd Star: Oxbow (KY) – He may have lost the battle on Saturday, but I have a feeling Oxbow is slowly winning the war.  Just think of the education he’s gotten out of his last two races, and also don’t forget how tough he’s ran considering poor post positions and wide trips.  The move he made at the top of the stretch was incredible, and he looked like the winner every step of the way until the last few feet.  At this point the only question mark could be the mile and one-quarter distance, although his breeding says he should be able to handle it.  Either way, this is one talented and tough race horse. Continue reading

New SimpleForm™ Launched

The SimpleForm™ is here!  Just click the links below to purchase yours for this weekend’s racing action.  For an explanation of what exactly the form contains, please scroll down for more information.  Don’t miss out on this ground breaking product!

Aqueduct SimpleForm™: Saturday, March 16

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Gulfstream SimpleForm™: Saturday, March 16

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Oaklawn SimpleForm™: Saturday, March 16

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Santa Anita SimpleForm™: Saturday, March 16

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The SimpleForm™ Explained:

The Thoroughbred Racing Dudes are proud to present a revolutionary new product for both novice and experienced horse racing handicappers. Simply put: SimpleForm™. The goal is to give you an informative product that will assist in your handicapping, while making it the easiest form to read in horse racing.

SimpleForm Example1The horses in each race are ranked by jockey, trainer, pace, track class and the Racing Dudes numbers. The jockey, trainer, pace and track class numbers are based on a 1-10 point scale, while the Racing Dudes number is based on a 1-20 scale. The Racing Dudes number is a specially designed number we created to evaluate horses based on their past performances. This number carries a higher value than the other categories because it is the most important aspect in handicapping a race. The culmination of these numbers summarizes the often hard to read racing form into a simple and easy to read chart, SimpleForm™.

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Oaklawn Report #9

Cyber Secret Wins the Razorback

Cyber Secret Wins the Razorback

3 Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Cyber Secret (KY) – When looking at the Razorback Handicap on paper you assumed the race was going to be very close, and it definitely did not disappoint us.  Cyber Secret came out of the battle as the winner, as he stalked the pace and was able to just put his nose in front of longshot Golden Ron at the wire.  The win was Cyber’s Secret third straight, all three coming at Oaklawn Park this meet.  Oaklawn Park owner Charles Cella is the owner of Cyber Secret, which makes the win that more special.  Cyber Secret came out of the race in good order, and the Oaklawn Handicap looks to be the next goal.

– 2nd Star: Rose to Gold (KY) – All the hype coming into the Martha Washington was on Rose to Gold and she ran an average race and finished second.  In the Honeybee last Saturday all the hype was on Kentucky Oaks future pool favorite Flashy Gray, but this time it was Rose to Gold that turned the tables winning in wire to wire fashion to pull off the upset.  Rose to Gold broke extremely well and went straight to the front, and jockey Calvin Borel didn’t have to move a muscle.  The win puts her into the Kentucky Oaks, and the Fantasy Stakes will likely be her final prep for that race.

– 3rd Star: Apropos (KY) – On a week where the racing was extremely strong at Oaklawn, it was actually an allowance race on Thursday that produced the highest Beyer speed figure.  Apropos, trained by Al Stall, dominated a first level allowance field winning by ten lengths and earing a Beyer of 101.  The win could spring-board her to the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn towards the end of the meet.  If she can duplicate her performance in that race, the sky could be the limit for this late developing filly. Continue reading

Oaklawn Report #10

3 Stars of the Week:

-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

Rebel Stakes (Grade 2) Preview

Likely Winners:

#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