Picks and Ponderings: Cigar Mile Day Stakes Preview

The huge weekend of horse racing continues as Aqueduct on Saturday, with the Cigar Mile (GI) card.  Private Zone, last year’s winner, returns to defend his crown against six other runners.  The two-year-olds get the spotlight as well.  A pair of nine-furlong races, the Remsen (GII) and the Demoiselle (GII), will test the runners’ stamina over dirt.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and get up to speed on the three biggest races at the Big A this Saturday.  Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter, what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: Go for Wand Handicap Preview

Over at Picks and Ponderings, my previews of the Thanksgiving weekend racing action continue with a look at the Go for Wand Handicap (GIII).  The race drew a field of seven fillies and mares ready to tackle a one-turn mile over the Aqueduct main.  The key word is ready, as every single one of the runners has some kind of extended sprint or one-turn mile form to recommend them.  Still, there is plenty to investigate, and I take a deep dive into the race.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and see my take on the Go for Wand.  Make sure to leave us a comment over there, and let us know what you think about the race!

Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Fall Highweight Handicap Preview

The Fall Highweight Handicap (GIII), this Thursday at Aqueduct, is a unique race on the calendar.  Nowadays, except for rarities like Work All Week’s 2014 attempt in the Addison Cammack Handicap, the H-word means little.  The “handicap” weights vary by a few pounds, but no one carries much more than they do in any other race.

It’s a little different in the Highweight.  The top weight, Favorite Tale, was assigned 135.  He will not run Thursday, but both Salutos Amigos and Palace did enter.  They lug 134 and 133 pounds, respectively.  The rest carry between 124 and 127 — not light in an absolute sense, but far more within what horses typically carry nowadays.

Can Salutos Amigos or Palace drag a sled to the winners’ circle?  Will someone else take advantage of a lighter impost?

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, and get ready for the Fall Highweight Handicap!  As always, please feel free to leave a comment or send a tweet with your thoughts!

Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Long Island Handicap Preview

Horse racing in the United States is catching its collective breath after a thrilling Breeders’ Cup — but racing goes on, and so does Picks and Ponderings.

This weekend, I turn my attention to Aqueduct, and the Long Island Handicap (GIII).  The race is one of the last turf stakes of the year in New York, and it drew a healthy field of ten (plus one MTO).  No single runner towers over the field, so it should not only be a fun race to watch, but also present solid betting value.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, and get ready for a competitive renewal of the Long Island Handicap!

Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Excelsior Stakes Preview

The Aqueduct meet draws to a close this weekend.  Before that happens, the handicap division gets a chance to try the Classic distance over the Aqueduct main in the Excelsior Stakes (GIII).  The race drew a field of eight headed by Wicked Strong, but also including three horses who have run in graded stakes in the Chicago area.

I look at the Excelsior over at Picks and Ponderings.  Head on over there to see what I have to say, and leave me a comment if you think I am right — or really, really wrong — about my outlook on the race!

Picks and Ponderings: Derby and Oaks preps continue

My preview of the Fantasy Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn is just the beginning of this weekend’s stakes analysis at Picks and Ponderings.

I also took a detailed look at the pair of prep races at Santa Anita Park, the Santa Anita Derby (GI) and the Santa Anita Oaks (GI).  The Oaks is one of the most competitive races of the prep season so far.  In the Santa Anita Derby, beating Dortmund has been an impossible assignment for every horse who has tried so far, but I think one looks up to the task.

My Picks and Ponderings colleague Paul Mazur has looked at the other three-year-old preps this weekend.  He heads to Keeneland to dive into the Blue Grass (GI) and the Ashland (GI), and also to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial (GI) and the Gazelle (GII).

From coast to coast, Picks and Ponderings has you covered for the big three-year-old races!

Picks and Ponderings: weekend stakes previews!

Big ‘Cap Weekend is a big weekend all over the country, and Picks and Ponderings has stakes previews from coast to coast.

Santa Anita has five stakes on the card; between me and Paul Mazur, we preview them all.  I take a look at the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (GI), the San Felipe Stakes (GII), and the China Doll Stakes; Paul delves into the Santa Anita Handicap (GI) and the San Carlos Stakes (GII).

The weekend also features Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks prep races across the country.  We have been following the marquee three-year-old races all winter, and we are not about to stop because we got too distracted by warm weather and a certain fast little gelding out at Santa Anita.  I took a look at the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), and Paul looked at both the Gotham Stakes (GIII) at Aqueduct and the Honeybee Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, let us know what you think in the comment sections, and get ready for an exciting weekend of racing!

Picks and Ponderings: Busanda Stakes, Take Two

The Busanda Stakes, a Kentucky Oaks points race, was originally scheduled for yesterday.  However, the races were cancelled due to safety questions and cold weather, and the Busanda was redrawn for Friday, January 16.  The race drew a bit deeper field second time around: nine three-year-old fillies instead of the original six.  Classwise, it also drew more contentious: Hopefaithjoy was a clear standout in the original field, but the newcomers include some horses who can give her a run for her money.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, and get ready for Friday’s new and improved Busanda Stakes!

Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Busanda Stakes Preview

The Kentucky Oaks trail heads east this Saturday for the Busanda.  The race only drew a field of six, but the Oaks points at stake should make it a contentious affair nonetheless.  Only one of the competitors has more than three races under her belt, and none have more (or less…) than one win so far.  Stiffer competition will likely arise come the Busher and the Gazelle…but Princess of Sylmar’s road to the Kentucky Oaks started here, so it’s time to start watching!

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, see what I have to say about the race, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Jerome Stakes Preview

Tomorrow, everyone on the Derby trail turns three.  Though that is but an arbitrary point on the calendar, it still strikes the horse racing world as a moment when the road to the first Saturday in May gets that much more serious.

The first Kentucky Derby points race of the new year is the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, and I have previewed that race in depth over at Picks and Ponderings.  El Kabeir attempts to add another graded stakes to his resume, Nasa attempts graded stakes company for the first time, and Ostrolenka attempts to bounce back from a disappointing Remsen.  Six others vie for their first graded stakes win…and things look ripe for an upset.

Read my in-depth Jerome Stakes preview at Picks and Ponderings, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Keen Ice.

A field of maidens turned for home at Churchill Downs on September 6.  Starbound and Tiznow R J were head and head for the lead.  Everyone else in the field looked sunk, with no one within almost ten lengths of the leaders.  The 9 horse was making up some ground, and cleared the rest of the field just past the furlong pole.  He had not given up.  At the sixteenth pole, open lengths still gaped between him and the two battling for the lead.

As the main pack passed the sixteenth pole, it’s as if a switch flipped in his head.  The situation was now urgent.  Five lengths became four…three…two…and by the time the wire came, the improbable had happened.  Neither Starbound nor Tiznow R J, so far clear of the rest of the field turning for home, had been in front when the full mile was up.  Instead, the mission that had looked impossible…wasn’t.  The horse charging from behind had passed them, and prevailed by a head.

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Picks and Ponderings: Cigar Mile Preview and More!

The biggest day of the Aqueduct fall meet is upon us tomorrow: Cigar Mile Day.  At Picks and Ponderings, I took a dive into that Grade I race, as well as the three other graded stakes on that card: the Remsen (GII) and the Demoiselle (GII) for the two-year-old set, as well as the Comely (GIII) for three-year-old fillies.

If you’re more interested in what’s going on out west with California Chrome, Lexie Lou, Tamarando, and friends, Paul Mazur has you covered.  He has a detailed preview of all of the graded stakes at Del Mar tomorrow: the Hollywood Derby (GI) for the three-year-old turf (or trying-turf) set, the Native Diver (GIII) for the three-and-up polytrack runners, and the Jimmy Durante (GIII, nee Miesque Stakes) for juvenile grass fillies.

Picks and Ponderings: Friday’s stakes highlights

As a continuation of Picks and Ponderings’s Thanksgiving Handicapping Feast, Paul and I delved into three more races for Friday.  Continuing the theme, he went west and I went east: be took on the Seabiscuit Handicap (GII) at Del Mar, and I looked at both the Clark Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs as well as the Go For Wand Handicap (GIII) at Aqueduct.  Across the three races, there’s a little bit of everything: an Illinois-bred turf star, a former Illinois Derby winner, no shortage of three-year-olds taking on the older set, and some contentious betting races.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, take a look at our previews, and let us know in the comments what you think!