a long weekend at Woodbine

As silly as it sounds, I would never have gotten on a plane to Toronto for the Woodbine Mile last week if it were not for the insistence of one sassy tweeting barn cat. But, thanks to plenty of tweets threatening whips to anyone who missed the Gator Kitten Mile, I decided I would plan my first international racing trip. I booked my flight and hotel back in May, and looked forward to that racing adventure all summer.

Of course, meeting that sassy barn cat was one of the first things that happened during my long weekend at Gatorbine.  Gator’s momma Sarah picked me up from the airport, and I brought over some presents for the feline who runs the barn.


Gator, the charismatic barn cat who rules over Mark Frostad’s barn, demands full-service feeding of the treats I brought.

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Chicago Railbird: Arlington Super High Five

Tomorrow is closing day at Arlington, and there is a $249K carryover into the Super High Five pool.  Since it is closing day, there is a mandatory payout, making it a great day for anyone to take a shot.  In the latest Chicago Railbird, I provide an in-depth preview of the field.

I take a look at the field, going horse-by-horse into who stands out, who rates for a share under, and who can be tossed completely.  Whatever your betting style or budget, the insight will help you construct a ticket that fits your needs.

Head over to ShapperDaCapper, read the latest Chicago Railbird, and get ready to take down the Arlington Super High Five!

Illinois-breds at Keeneland September: book 6

Six Illinois-breds were originally catalogued in book 6 of the Keeneland September sale.  Four of them have so far been declared out, but this piece still takes a look at all six.  Since it is not uncommon for these horses to turn up in another sale, it makes sense to have this material there for reference just in case they do come back through the ring.

Two Illinois-breds are still expected to go through the ring for Book 6: hip 4290 and hip 4314.  Both are scheduled to be auctioned on Sunday.

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Chicago Railbird: 9.22.16

This week, the Arlington meet draws to a close.  Chicago Railbird is there.

By number of wins, the training and jockey races are pretty well tied up.  Larry Rivelli has an insurmountable lead in the training tally, and Jose Valdivia, Jr. has a dominant tally among jockeys.  The biggest question surrounding Valdivia is whether he will get the four wins he needs to break a hundred victories for the summer.

This week, Chicago Railbird looks at a pair of races in which they combine.  In one, Valdivia and Rivelli send out the top pick.  In the other, a wide-open affair, there is a solid argument to make for a horse who is 20/1 on the morning line.

Head over to ShapperDaCapper, read the latest Chicago Railbird, and get ready for the final week of racing this year at Arlington Park!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Pennsylvania Derby Day Stakes Preview

This Saturday is the biggest day of the year at Parx: Pennsylvania Derby Day!

The day’s card features a trio of graded stakes for three-year-old horses, all of which I preview at Picks and Ponderings.  The GII Pennsylvania Derby, at $1.25 million the richest race of the year at Parx, drew a field of twelve — including the winners of both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.  The GI Cotillion drew just six, but several are proven GI horses, including the reigning queen of the three-year-olds: Songbird.  The GIII Gallant Bob, which kicks off the graded stakes portion of the card, features an eclectic group of sprinters including King’s Bishop third Noholdingback Bear.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s graded stakes trio at Parx, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: At Woodbine, Redemption for The Pizza Man

Though it had been a tough year for The Pizza Man so far, he put it all back together in today’s Northern Dancer (GI) at Woodbine.

He looked like The Pizza Man of old — not only because he saw the winner’s circle for the first time since November, but also because he reverted to a running style that he used to use earlier in his career.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and read my recap of the day’s stakes races — including a gutsy and game victory by Illinois’s favourite turf horse.

Picks and Ponderings: Woodbine Mile Day Stakes Preview

This Saturday is the Woodbine Mile, and the card features four competitive stakes races headlined by the return of Tepin in the Woodbine Mile (GI – CAN)!  In addition to the Mile, the card also offers the Northern Dancer (GI – CAN), the Canadian (GII – CAN), and the Ontario Derby (GIII – CAN).

I have handicapped all four races, and have full analysis.

In addition, if that’s not enough Woodbine for you (or you prefer pictures to handicapping), you’re in luck there as well.  I’m at Woodbine, and both the Picks and Ponderings Twitter feed (@picksponderings) and my personal feed (@rogueclown) are full of pictures from the backside, the frontside, and everything in between.

(I’m not lying about the in between part.  I took a lot of pictures from the interstices between the turf course and the Tapeta course today.)

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s stakes races at Woodbine, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Illinois-breds at Keeneland September: books 2-3

It’s that time again: the biggest yearling sale of the year, Keeneland September.

This year’s catalogue features fifteen Illinois-breds.  Blinkers Off will look at all of them, in a three-part series.  Here, we look at the yearlings in Book 2 and Book 3, five in total.  (There are no Illinois-breds in Book 1).  A future piece will look at the four yearlings form the land of Lincoln across Book 4 and Book 5, and the final installment will shine a light on the six Illinois-breds in Book 6.

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Picks and Ponderings: Wellabled, Diadura Win Arlington’s Juvenile Stakes

Today’s card at Arlington featured a pair of juvenile stakes: the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity for open company, and the listed Arlington-Washington Lassie for fillies.

Both races drew large and competitive fields.  But when all was said and done, the favourites obliged impressively: Wellabled in the Futurity, and Diadura in the Lassie.  Over at Picks and Ponderings, I discuss the races.  I also talked to the winning trainers about where each of these winners was headed next.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and relive the final stakes action of the 2016 Arlington season!