Wednesday, 9 December 2015


Miami Valley Racing kicks off their third meet next month. The southern Ohio raceway has really taken the harness industry by storm with it's solid product and high handles by offering 30 late closing series this upcoming meet.

      A few quotes in that article really caught my attention

  1. From Racing Secretary Gregg Keidel “The condition sheet, which will be released soon, should entice owners and trainers competing here to explore ways to upgrade their stables in an effort to get their share of the pie."
  2. From Racing Operations Manager Helen Karlo "Our third consecutive year of higher purses is driven by the continued success of our property's VLTs. It is a pleasure to see our Ohio-based horsemen rewarded."
  3. From OHHA Track Representative Brett Merkle "Horsemen seem excited about the upcoming meet at Miami Valley. With the increasing amount of money up for grabs, it only makes sense that many are looking for more and better horses to race."
It sure seems that the interests of the horsemen have taken a front seat at Miami Valley. It really is great seeing them being rewarded, I guess. I certainly haven't started wagering on Miami Valley (or Dayton, or Scioto) since the horsemen began being rewarded, and I'm not sure many people have either, but I don't begrudge them.

       But are bettors being rewarded at Miami Valley? You betcha!
  • New wagering opportunities await patrons including the addition of rolling daily doubles on races one through seven, a 50-cent Lucky Pick 5 (with an industry low 12% takeout) beginning on race eight, and a 10-cent Buckeye Hi-5 on the twelfth. The latter two new wagers have carryover provisions until a winning ticket is sold which potentially creates rewarding jackpot pools which attract new interest in the product.
I know the first thing I'm looking for when I start handicapping a card from a no-handle track is whether or not they have an INDUSTRY LOW 50% EFFECTIVE TAKEOUT 12% TAKEOUT JACKPOT PICK 5. But just in case I get knocked out of that JP5, I need to know if I can try to get out with a 10 CENT JACKPOT SUPER HI FIVE.

      I am genuinely confused about who is making the decision to offer these type of wagers at tracks with next to no handle, but I suppose when VLTs, purses, the speed of the track surface and late closing series are the first and foremost thoughts, the quality of the pari-mutuel product falls through the cracks. All I know is that I doubt many horseplayers have felt betting at Miami Valley is a particularly "rewarding" experience.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Brief Runhappy Thoughts

Runhappy, Maria Borrell, Mattress Mack and Laura Wohlers have been 99% of my Twitter feed for the past few days. Judging by my feed, you wouldn't know that American Pharoah had won the Classic, and you would have forgotten than a female jockey won the Melbourne Cup pretty quickly. I haven't tweeted about this Runhappy thing, but I have a few brief things to say about it.

  1. Trainers, if you are reading this, you would be wise to have any clients sign some sort of legal agreement before you take their horses. Lay out that you will charge your day rate, whatever costs you will bill, and that you will bill for whatever % of purse earnings the horses make. The tracks aren't going to protect you, and the unfortunate reality is that there are plenty of owners who don't like to pay. You can ask practically any trainer at any racetrack and they will tell you that they have had to fight with some clients to get the money they worked for. Protect yourself, or be ready to have to fight a lot harder if you get screwed.
  2. On this fracture tibia in New Orleans thing; I don't know Laura Wohlers at all. I had never heard her name before this Runhappy thing. This is what I do know; even the worst trainers I know personally wouldn't send their horse out to race with a fractured tibia. It's one of those things that's pretty obvious. Even if they were to decide to run the horse with that injury, we have commission veterinarians for a reason. In addition, the horse clocked a half mile in 47 flat in the race, a quick pace for a route race. So if you're deciding to believe a clocker that this horse was crippled before the race and that there is no way the injury was sustained in the race, I sure can't help you.
  3. On the other hand, who sends a horse out to train the day after a race? I've worked with plenty of horses in Stakes races and $4,000 claimers at Fort Erie, and they all walk for a few days after a race, regardless of whether or not it was a hard fought win or a pitiful dead last effort. Generally, they get three days to walk, some get two, some get a few more, it all depends, but again, any trainer will tell you this is how things operate. It's unheard of in current racing for a horse to train the day after a race. The fact that there was apparently some heat in one of his feet makes this even more bizarre to me. I don't know what his feet were like, I wasn't there and I'm not going to take a side, but that whole part of the start really baffled me.
  4. Do we know the whole story? No. We have a few social media posts from both sides, but none of us were there, none of us know what actually happened behind the scenes, none of us can say anything for sure. So many things are possible here. Who are any of us to pick sides and make judgments?
        I don't know Maria Borell, Laura Wohlers or Mattress Mack, I don't know who has done what with Runhappy over the course of his career and I don't have an interest in picking a side in the matter. We'll see what happens next, but the whole story isn't there for us to see.

Monday, 7 September 2015

All American Futurity 2015

It's All American Futurity day which means I have to give some thoughts on the race. As always it's a terrific race that's worth taking a look at even if you aren't a regular Quarter Horse player.

       The favourite is a deserving one in the form of #4 First Valiant Sign. He won the Ruidoso Futurity in nice fashion, managed to qualify for the Rainbow after a third in his trial where he got bumped at the start and rallied. In the Rainbow he was bumped on both sides at the start but finished very gamely and just missed by a neck. He was a nice winner in his All American trial, and I have no doubt that he is good enough to win this race. The fastest qualifier is #9 One Fabulous Eagle, who finished very well and his runner up won the All American Juvenile earlier today. He raced in Ruidoso Futurity, where he was fractious in the gates but still managed to finish a good fourth (placed third.) The live longshot in this field is #5 Jess Good Candy, in my opinion. He took a couple of bumps at the start in his trial and surged late to get the win. One thing that I like is that his runner up, #1 McClintock B, was also fast enough to qualify to the final. That's a sign of a classy race. Another one who's worth a look is #7 Hatefulist, who is four for four in his career. In his trial, he bumped into a rival in the early yards, drifted out while dueling and won with a late surge. If he keeps straight today, I think he's got an upset chance. #6 Giving It All has an outside shot, he stumbled at the start in his trial and finished well to be second but never really threatened the winner, #8 Tf Im That Guy. #3 Sky Bo Dash is likely going to take a lot of money off of an easy trial win racing into a headwind. He outbroke his field and was alone on the lead, giving him a better opportunity to put in a fast time, but it's impressive nonetheless. I'm not in love with him at a short price, but he could win. The rest, I don't like too much. My bets will probably revolve around the 5 and the 9 racing well.

Top pick: #5 Jess Good Candy

     Good luck to everyone playing!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Pharoah

I don't think there were very many racing fans who weren't at least a little surprised that American Pharoah lost the Travers today. There were certainly no shortage of sharp handicappers who were trying to beat him, but I don't think there were many who were flat out expecting him to lose.

      The reality of American Pharoah that seems to have been lost in the Triple Crown hype is that he is a horse. He is a horse who accomplished an absolutely incredible feat and will deservedly go down in history as one of the true greats, but he is a horse. Any horse can lose, and winning the Derby, Preakness and Belmont does not change the fact that you can lose. It happens.

      The difference in Pharoah's four most recent wins and today's loss, as far as I can see, is the pace setup. In the Derby he stalked a contested pace. In the Preakness he was a lone speed on a sloppy track. In the Belmont he secured a clear lead early and no one managed to challenge him. In the Haskell he tracked an outclassed pacesetter and never really had to work after that horse stopped. Nothing went wrong for him in any of those starts. Today, he speed dueled along the rail. Speed dueling is never ideal, but nine times out of ten if you're going to get caught in a speed duel, you're better off to be on the outside.

      We can also factor in the fact that he's shipped back and forth across the country, but it's tough to argue the fact that it's easier to beat a horse when he doesn't have an absolute perfect setup.

      In my opinion, this was actually quite the telling race for Pharoah, in a positive way. The way he fought with Frosted, looked to be done early in the stretch but really dug in and put that rival away is incredibly impressive. The way he battled is the way all truly great race horses battle. The unfortunate reality for Pharoah is that this time around, Keen Ice got the perfect set up and took advantage of it. Keen Ice has shown that he's no slouch so the fact that he could win in the scenario that unfolded today should be no great shock.

      The idea of American Pharoah retiring after this loss is absolutely sickening to me. I can't stand losing these horses to stud deals so early, and I absolutely cannot stand the idea that one absolutely valiant loss that should not cost the horse any respect from any observer with half a brain would be the reason to send him off to the breeding shed. At the very least, give him one more race, put him in Breeders' Cup, put him against the absolute best of the best and give him that final opportunity to go out with a real bang.

      There is no shame in losing, especially in the matter in which American Pharoah lost today. I hope everyone, the connections, the fans, everyone understands that. A great race was run today.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Feeling Valued as a Customer

I was checking Twitter last night (what else is new?) and I stumbled upon this goodie from Josh Hanson.
Josh, like myself, is a Canadian and bets through HPI. Josh, unlike myself, bets a reasonable amount of money.

At this point in the year, Josh is wagering about $2,300/week. At this point in the year, I have maybe bet $2,500. Maybe a bit more. I'm not sure.

Josh got a nice HPI pen from a customer service rep. I have gotten two nice HPI pens from Grand River Raceway this summer. I lost them both, but that's beyond the point.

If Josh wants a rebate from HPI, based on his weekly average of $2,300, he's at best eligible for a 0.5% rebate. If he lived in Ontario or British Columbia, he could get 0.75% on his province's product.
That's one of the biggest head scratchers in racing, to me. How can a customer worth about $110,000 in handle/year get barely any more respect than a customer worth $5,000 (or less.)? I'm not sure what a customer in racing has to do to be treated well by a track/ADW, but it seems to be quite a bit.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

NYRA Doesn't Want Trainers to Race at Parx. So What?

Twitter went abuzz yesterday after the DRF's David Grening posted this little ditty.

      I don't get why people are so angry at NYRA for this. I don't get it at all. Parx and Suffolk are both offering ridiculously high purses this fall, and NYRA has to protect their own product. If field sizes during the Belmont fall meet drop, are people going to whine that NYRA did nothing to keep horses racing in New York?

      Other tracks do this, too. Back when Colonial still raced, Charles Town gave horsemen the same warning. It's relatively inconsequential, because when trainers come back to race at whatever track they've shipped out of, the racing secretary is almost never going to say "No, we don't want your horses here, go support that other track like we told you to."

      All this is is an empty threat trying to make NYRA's lives a little easier this fall. I highly doubt they're really going to take anyone's stalls away. To me, this means next to nothing. Why do people find this so ridiculous?

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Kawartha Downs Selections August 8

It's been a while since I've posted my selections from Kawartha or Ajax on my blog so I figured I should get back to that. Nice card of 10 races tonight at Kawartha, first post at 7:00 ET, here is this week's "Doug on the Downs."

Race 1: 6-4-2
#6 THE BAD LIFE makes her first start of the year and only the second start of her career. She comes in off of an easy qualifying win in 2.00.2. If she can shed some time off of that qualifying win she could be a threat. #4 LEAHS JET started from the trailing tier last week and raced very well to be second, making up 5 3/4 lengths in the stretch. I expect her to race well from the improved post. #2 MIDNIGHT JET was a well beaten sixth last week facing much tougher rivals than she does tonight. When she faces this level back on July 18, she finished second in 1.57.2. She is a bit win-shy, only 1 for 17 this year, but she has shown that she can be competitive in these ranks.

Race 2: 1-3-4
#1 STRIKING QUEEN sat the pocket last week, tipped out in the stretch and got up to catch the pacesetter, who went very easy fractious. Her recent form has been good and she draws well. #3 MAJESTIC MAGGIE made a break on July 25 but came back to finish third behind Striking Queen last week. Gord Brown takes the drive and may be able to improve this filly a bit. #4 ZORGWIJK PARKHILL finished fourth in the same race my top two selections exit. Both of his races here at Kawartha have been respectable and he could round this out.

Race 3: 4-2-7
#4 FONTANA SEELSTER comes in from Dresden where she was most recently third. Although she was beaten 22 lengths, what the PPs don't tell you is that she was only beaten 2 lengths for 2nd, as the winner was a total runaway. She makes her third start of the year and can show some gate speed. #2 FLYUSTOTHEMOON didn't do much last week, showing no early speed starting from post 7 and not making up much ground. Her two prior efforts were respectable and she should be a factor if she gets off the gate well. #7 WINNING SOLUTION started from the trailing tier last week and finished fifth, 3/4 of a length in front of Flyustothemoon. She's a very on and off type, but this isn't the toughest group in the world, either. Tough post to work from, again, however.

Race 4: 1-4-7
#1 ROYAL MACHERY had a tough post at Georgian and didn't fare too well, but his two previous starts here were very good. He should be very tough facing softer rivals. #4 MACHCELLERATOR made his second lifetime start and his first off of a month break last week and raced well to be beaten only 1 3/4 lengths. We may see some improvement in his second start off the bench. #7 FLEETWOOD JEREMES exits the same race as Machcellerator, finishing third by 1 1/2 lengths. He makes his third career start here but has a tough post to work from.

Race 5: 6-5-4
#6 KEYSTONE SAMURAI went a tough trip last week, tipping three wide at the 3/4 and rallied to to be third, beaten nothing for the place spot. She's a rallying type who can do some nice back halfs, and gets a race that looks to be loaded with gate speed. If things set up for her, she could be dangerous. #5 FLEETWOOD ZENA was claimed from trainer Michael Shea on July 18 and brought back a week later at Hanover Raceway, where she raced a very good first over second. Shea claimed her back from that race, gave her a week off and brings her back here. Although most of her wins come racing on the front end, I have a feeling she may be looking to take back a follow the leaders for the early stages of the mile. #4 NORVENA HANOVER exits back to back wins on the front end where she's gone in 1.56.4 and 1.56.3. Of all the speed horses in his race, she is probably the best of them, but if she has to fight on the front we may see her weakening in the final 1/4.

Race 6: 3-9-7
#3 IRONCLAD was in good form back in May and June racing at Clinton, Grand River and Georgian. He was tried in a Racing Under Saddle event on June 20 but made a break at the 3/4. He exits a qualifier where he finished second behind a pacer in 2.01.2. If he returns to his good form, he has a good shot here. #9 LOVE IGNITES had been racing very well up until his most recent start in Sarnia, where he went pretty quick early and stopped. He is capable of better that that and hopefully we'll get to see that tonight. #7 WILL TO DO made his first start off the claim for trainer John MacMillan two weeks ago where he finished last. He is definitely better than that. He was given last week off so hopefully any issue that may have been bothering him has been fixed.

Race 7: 7-4-5
#7 EMMY HANOVER exits back to back second place finishes at this class. Last week she raced first over for half the mile and was beaten only by a horse who got a perfect pocket trip. Although the post is tough, it wouldn't take much for her to turn the tables and win. #4 SONNY THE KID is the horse who sat the perfect pocket trip and beat Emmy Hanover last week. He is capable of some gutsy efforts, July 17 at Grand River he parked the whole mile from post 7 and was beaten 1/2 a length. He does have some breaking issues but when he stays flat he's a tough horse. #5 P L IDOL is a three time winner this year who needs to make the front and get a big breather if she wants to keep going. If she doesn't get her breather, she doesn't stop badly but she doesn't usually have enough left in the stretch to hold on. Last week she showed that, finishing third behind my top two selections.

Race 8: 7-9-4
#7 SPAGO HALL was a well beaten second a Georgian last week after winning in wire to wire fashion here on July 11. He makes his second start off of the three week break and should be tough if he can find position. #9 THREE NEW DAWNS was a winner here on July 4 going in 1.55.2, a very quick mile. He didn't race again until last week, finishing third and being claimed by Patrick Shepherd. He makes his second start off of the break and his first for the new connections. Hopefully he can work out a trip from the trailing post. #4 ARTELOT is a one time winner in his 177 start career, and I'm not expecting him to get the second win tonight. However, the underneath spot in this race is a toss up in my opinion, and his recent races haven't been bad. We'll see what he does tonight.

Race 9: 6-5-4
#6 P L INFERNO is five for nine this year, and the four losses were all very understandable. Last week he finished third after getting shuffled to third in fast fractions and having to tip three wide at 3/4. The rival who beat him last week isn't here tonight, and if this gelding gets to the front he should win. #5 THE ROCK exits a third place finish at Georgian. He has actually beaten P L Inferno once this year, but I don't expect that to be the case tonight. Although he's only hit the board in four of 19 this year, he's been in a lot of tough spots. When he faces reasonable foes he usually races respectably. #4 JARRETS BOY made his first start since 2013 last week, rallying into the fast fractions and getting up to be fourth, almost beaten P L Inferno for third. I don't think we're going to be seeing anything like 3/4 in 1.25.2 this week, and that will make things tougher for this gelding, but he can move forward second off the long layoff.

Race 10: 1-5-6
#1 KNEE SLAPPER is the only horse in this field who has a win in 2015. She has been racing at Mohawk where she has been outclassed most weeks, but some of her miles haven't been bad. She was a sick scratch at Georgian two weeks ago and now makes her return. She should be tough here. #5 BLAZINHEART HANOVER was a good second here back on June 6, then didn't race again until July 25 at Georgian where she finished fifth of six. She makes her second start off of that nearly two month break and has shown she can race well here. #6 DIRT ROADS SCHOLAR hasn't shown much in recent miles, other than and okay fourth at Grand River on July 3. He gets to face a very soft group of rivals tonight.

Good luck to everyone playing tonight!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Ajax Downs Selections July 12

Today is Challenge Day at Ajax Downs! We have three featured races today, the John Deere Regional Juvenile Challenge, the AQHA Challenge Maiden, and the Adequan Regional Derby Challenge. The Adequan features two new faces to Ajax, including Hialeah Derby winner Seize the Win! It's a terrific card. First post is 12:55 ET. Here are my selections.

Race 1: 7-1A-4
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #7 EYE SELECT is looking for her first win in her sixth career start. She ran a good second on Canada Day and always races well when she faces rivals she fits with. #1A IAMASWEETMAN got his maiden win facing a soft group of Ontario Sired runners on Canada Day and goes into the Speed Index Race instead of a NW2 Allowance. He & his entrymate should both fit well here. #4 DOWN N TUFF is another maiden facing winners. He was second best in a maiden Speed Index on June 21, but his speed figures suggest he can be competitive against this group. The Daily Double starts in this race.

Race 2: 7-4-5
This race starts the early Pick 3. #7 A MERE OUTLAW was a winner at Hialeah back in January, but hasn't been as effective in three starts since, most recently facing a tough group of NW4/Op$10,000CLM. She drops back in to a NW3, and was freshened up with a good breeze on Wednesday. #4 LEXIA was a game winner in a NW2 on May 31. The runner up, Selective Memory, came back to win a NW2 and also appears in this race. She goes off Lasix today. #5 TWO FAMOUS EAGLES makes his Ajax debut here. He exits a maiden win at Indiana Grand. I would rather see him in a NW2, which he is still eligible for, but good American shippers are usually dangerous.

Race 3: 4-5-2
#4 GRASSHOPPER FLATS has had poor luck in both of his starts this year, but still managed to put in respectable performances. With a clean trip he may be able to find his way into the winner's circle. #5 DOWN ON CASH has been second in both of her starts this season, also having some poor trip luck. She's shown that she's game and just needs to put it all together. #2 ITZ ALL GOOD made his career debut on June 21, keeping close early but weakening after bumping with Down On Cash after 220 yards. He could improve with a start under his belt.

Race 4: 5-2-1
Race 4 kicks off the $.20 Pick 4. #5 JESS KISS MY DASH debuts here for the combo of Kim Ito and Brian Bell. He is the full brother to Jesskissmytexas, a multiple Stakes winner, out of Strawfly Fortune, who was a top mare here back in 2004 and 2005. He has shown steady improvement in his workouts and should be tough here. #2 CR BLOWINBYEYAWL showed improvement in his last start, finishing a half length behind Embrace Extravagence. He wasn't great, but I have a feeling 220 is not his best distance. Today's 300 yard run may be better for him. #1 CASINO LOVE MILL debuts here after training down in Michigan. Her works have been okay, they don't jump off the page. Her dam was an okay claiming mare down in Texas and Louisiana, she won two and hit the board in six of her 10 starts. A longshot to round things out, perhaps.

Pick 4 ticket: 5/2,5/1,7,8/3 $1.20 for $.20

Race 5: 5-2-7
This race is our first feature, the $25,560 John Deere Regional Juvenile Challenge. #5 TRES SEA was a very impressive winner on June 21, bumping at the start but drawing off nicely. She's a well bred filly who looks good for a repeat here. #2 COOL ALLEY debuted with a third at Remington, then came up here to finish a rallying third behind Tres Sea, missing second by a neck. The extra distance should benefit him. #7 FOREST GOT SKUNKED debuted at Fair Meadows Tulsa about a month ago and finished a good second. This is a tougher affair. Jockey Berkley Packer will fly in to ride.

Race 6: 8-7-1
This race is our second feature, the $23,715 AQHA Challenge Maiden. #8 WESTERN HAULER WAYNE is one of two in this field who have managed to cross the wire first. He exits a maiden $5,000 claiming win at Fair Meadows Tulsa, has the highest class rating of the field, and looms dangerous in his Ajax debut. #7 RANDOM AUDIT won her first two starts of the year, but took a bump at the start and lost her footing in her most recent outing. With a clean break, she is a threat. #1 EFFORTLESS GAME exits a second behind Embrace Extravagence, a sharp filly who came back to win nicely again (until she was DQd for interference.) Entrymate #1A BLAZIN IVORY has been second in five of her six starts. A solid entry. The late Pick 3 starts here.

Race 7: 3-1-4
Our third and biggest feature of the day is the $29,070 Adequan Regional Derby Challenge. #3 SEIZE THE WIN ended his two year old year with a driving win in the Governor's Stakes at Indiana Grand, then went on to win the $417,000 Hialeah Derby impressively. He's winless in three starts since, exiting a second in a trial for the Heritage Place Derby behind a horse who was beaten a nose in the 2014, G1 Heritage Place Futurity. He is the class of this field in a big way. #1 TOODLES DESTINY has the best shot to beat Seize the Win. This filly has won five of her eight starts, all in Texas and Oklahoma. She exits a win in a $20,000 claiming race at Remington where she posted a very fast 99 speed figure. Owner Bryan Calloway thought she was worth the $20,000 investment and claimed her out of that race. She posted a very quick breeze at Hazel Park on Tuesday. #4 DEAL A FORTUNE has won both of his starts here at Ajax, a NW2 and a NW3 Allowance. He is stepping up in class here and will have a tough time winning, but he should put in a respectable performance. The late Double kicks off here.
Seize the Win winning the Hialeah Derby

Race 8: 10-9-3
#10 JESS WANNA HAVE FUN made her Ajax debut on May 31 over a sloppy track. She rallied to be beaten only a nose that day. Over a fast track she probably would have won. She should be able to get there today. #9 IZA JAZZ GAL makes her debut here. She worked very well on June 23 and I'm looking forward to seeing how she performs here. #3 AGAINST THE CURRENT was beaten only a neck in an Ontario Sired Maiden on June 7. He will face a bit tougher today, but his form has been decent.

Good luck to everyone playing!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ajax Downs Selections July 5th

Another Sunday comes around which means another card of Quarter Horse racing at Ajax Downs. We have 8 races today, highlighted by a $20,000 QROOI Overnight Series Open, which features the return of 2014 Alex Picov Memorial Championship winner Country Boy Deluxe, as well as Picov Maturity winner Sm Chicks N Garters. Here are my selections for this week's card.

Race 1: 2-6-3
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #2 SOXY N I KNOW IT is a Texas-bred making her debut with two quick gate workouts at Hazel Park. She is out of a dam named Cartel Leader, who was Graded Stakes placed in Texas. #6 FLICK ME A GUINESS posted a solid gate workout on June 17. Her dam won her career debut, and she may have an advantage with the outside post, as this field is primarily first time starters. #3 HAL BENT looked good in his June 17 workout. His dam qualified to a Futurity here back in 2007. The Daily Double starts here.

Race 2: 3-4-6
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. #3 CARAWAY BLUE has been very good in both of his starts this year, losing his first by only a neck and winning very nicely on June 14. He's an 11 time winner and will be tough here. #4 CHISSLED AND FIESTY was an upset winner on May 24 and came back to be a good third behind Caraway Blue, nosed out for second. She seems to be better this year than she has been in recent seasons. #6 DONTELLMEMYBUSINESS was a sharp winner in a Speed Index race on June 7 over a horse named First Prize Oscar, who came back to win a NW2 Allowance on Canada Day. He will need to step up a bit to win against this company.

Race 3: 2-8-6
#2 SPEED OF LIFE showed ability as a two year old, but hasn't been able to get out of the gate well in either of her starts this year. She drops into the Speed Index race where she should be tough with a good break. #8 SHESASTREAKINCHICK was very strong late in winning a Speed Index race on June 14. Although she isn't the most consistent, a repeat of that effort makes her a threat in this race. #6 SHAKE PRETTY BABY ended 2014 with a win and kicked off 2015 in the same fashion. She dueled very gamely along the rail and got up in a headbob. She was consistently racing well last year and can certainly run well again today.

Race 4: 4-2-3
Race 4 kicks off the $.20 Pick 4. #4 ILLTHINKABOUTIT makes her Ajax debut here, coming in from Oklahoma. She exits a good 2nd in a $7,500 claimer at Remington. She's a multiple Stakes winner in Alberta who should fit here. #2 MITFORD is the one to beat here. He finished a very good second in the Picov Maturity before getting another second behind One Famous Glass in a QROOI Overnight Series Open. He's always a threat. #3 EYESA ZOOMN is one of the toughest Starter Allowance horses in Ontario who steps up into tougher company today. He has hit the board in 20 of his 29 starts and should be able to race well with this company at his best.

Pick 4 ticket: 1,2,3,4/7,8/5,9,10/5 $4.80 for $.20

Race 5: 7-8-6
#7 BOLD SIX LOVE had poor luck in his seasonal debut but ran on very well to be third. He was supposed to run a couple of weeks ago but threw a fit in the gate and had to be scratched. Watch his behaviour today. If he breaks well, I expect a big effort out of him. #8 TOUGH TWIST ended his 2014 campaign with an impressive win in a 110 yard dash. He comes into his 2015 debut with a fast breeze down at Hazel Park. #6 MS DASHIN CORONA finished a decent third in a $10,000 claiming NW2 last time. The winner of that race, This Chics Leaving, came back to score a NW3/Optional Claiming win on Canada Day. She has moved forward a bit in each of her starts this year and could run well here today.

Race 6: 5-10-9
#5 EMBRACE EXTRAVAGENCE was an impressive debut winner, lunging at the start but recovering and rallying to get up in the slop going only 220 yards. With a better break she should be very tough moving forward into the NW2. #10 ARIZONA BENNIE finished second in last year's Alex Picov Memorial Futurity and Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. He looked good in his June 17 breeze. We'll see if he can keep his 2 year old form going. #9 ARCTIC SPECIAL won his career debut last year, an Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trial, but was a Steward's scratch out of the final and didn't race again in 2014. He made his 2015 debut at Hazel Park, breaking poorly but rallying for the runner up spot. He's proven to be quite game in both of his starts. Late Pick 3 wagering is offered here.

Race 7: 5-4-7
Today's feature is a $20,000 QROOI Overnight Series Open. It also starts the Late Double. #5 COUNTRY BOY DELUXE won last year's Alex Picov Memorial Championship, then went down to Hialeah for a couple of starts. He beat a horse named Pyro on January 5. Pyro went on to go to Sam Houston, where he ended up winning a Grade II. This horse has serious class and is the one to beat. #4 SM CHICKS N GARTERS exits an impressive win in the Picov Memorial, where he won under a hand drive. He has proven that he is a serious horse who deserves respect. #7 THE FDD MAP made his 2015 debut in a 250 yard conditioned allowance, and came with a very strong late rally to get the win. This horse is best at further distances, so he should appreciate the 100 yard stretch out today.

Race 8: 5-3-4
#5 FAVORITE LEADER was an impressive winner in a Maiden Speed Index race on June 14, taking bumps on both sides but surging for the win. Although she moves out of the Maiden condition, she catches a soft looking bunch here. #3 NOT STEPPIN DOWN dropped into a Speed Index race on June 7, broke fast and won easily despite lugging out badly. Most of the horses he beat that day return in this race. #4 RFIRST DEELIGHT came off of a very long layoff in the Not Steppin Down race. She was fractious that day and reared a bit at the start, but managed to run okay for fourth. If she's a bit more settled and breaks better, she could round things out here.

Good luck to everyone playing today!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Photos from Toole's Training Center

Back in January I took a week to go down to Florida to visit my dad, who was racing at Gulfstream over the winter. At first he was given stalls at Calder, but when a section of the backstretch was forced to move from their barns into the temporary tents you may remember reading about, he decided it was safer to go somewhere else until some stalls at Gulfstream became available. "Somewhere else" ended up being Toole's Training Center, just outside of Ft. Lauderdale.

       Toole's was an interesting little place. The barn was basically a shack, but the stalls were spacious. The track was a 3/4 mile oval with ridiculously narrow turns, not a track suitable for workouts (and no one was dumb enough to work over it.) A few roosters ran around everywhere on the property, a few ponies lived in a paddock in the infield, turkey vultures showed up once in a while. It was unique to say the least. Not the greatest place in the world, but it beat the alternative.

      Fun fact: the owner told me that the place has match races for Quarter Horses once in a while. "They pay me, hand me a bag of money and tell me to give it to whoever wins." I wasn't there to see that in person, to my disappointment, but yeah. I thought that was kind of interesting.

       Anyways, here are a few photos I took at Toole's Training Center.

Rusty decoration on the barn

Crushin Hard out for a jog. The 2-horse starting gate can be seen

Our barn. Not the prettiest to look at, but it served it's purpose

The other barn. I don't remember who's horses were there, but they were also racing at Gulfstream

View down the stretch of the track. Very long, narrow track.

The Best Glacier looking outside from his stall

Bear's Gem out having a bath

        So that's Toole's Training Center. Not the greatest place in the world, but something a little different.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Ajax Downs Selections June 28

Sunday Funday at Ajax Downs, and what a fun one it will be! Today's card has two trials to the Adequan Derby Challenge, featuring two very talented new faces. Most notably, we have Seize the Win, who won the Hialeah Derby in impressive fashion back in January. It's going to be an action packed afternoon.

     Here are my selections for Sunday's races.

Race 1: 4-1-2
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #4 FAVORITE LEADER was a very impressive winner two weeks ago, taking bumps on both sides at the start and surging to get up for the win. With a clean break, she likely would have won that race by a length as opposed to a neck. #1 NOT STEPPIN DOWN dropped to the Speed Index ranks on June 7, bumped at the start and lugged out badly but won by a length, never in doubt. I believe Favorite Leader is the faster horse, but if anyone has a shot to beat her, it's this gelding. #2 CARAWAYS LUV N FAME is a maiden making her first start in the Speed Index ranks. She finished a good second in a weak field on opening day but offered very little in her June 7 race. Her best speed figures make her look the most likely to round out this field. Daily Double wagering is offered here.

Race 2: 2-3-6
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. #2 A MERE OUTLAW faced a tough group of NW4/$10,000 optional claimers last time, breaking slow and offering no rally. She now takes a significant drop to the NW3/optional $5,000 claiming level. She has shown ability in the past, she was a winner at Hialeah Park, she just needs to break fast today. #3 LEXIA rode a clear path along the inside to score a NW2 allowance win in the slop on May 31. The runner up, Selective Memory, went on to win a NW2 allowance by a length. If she runs back to her last effort, she will be a big factor in this race. #6 TWO FAMOUS EAGLES makes his Ajax debut off of a maiden win at Indiana Grand. He's a NW2 facing NW3/Optional Claimers but live shippers from the States are almost always a threat.

Race 3: 3-1-6
Race 3 is the first of two trials to the Adequan Derby Challenge. #3 TOODLES DESTINY has been racing in Texas and Oklahoma, winning five of her eight starts. She exits a win for $20,000 claiming at Remington where she earned a 99 speed figure, a huge number, especially compared to her competition. It will take a lot to beat her. #1 JOHNNY GETTIN CASH was a $10,000 MCL winner at Louisiana Downs, then ran in a high level allowance here against The Fdd Map. That proved to be too tough of an assignment, but he now drops to face only 3 year olds as opposed to older horses. He could improve in his second start over the surface. #6 EYESA SPEEDY SIMON was last year's Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity winner. He only has one start under his belt this year, an Ontario Sired NW2 allowance, where he finished a good 2nd. This is the toughest field he's had to face in his career.

Race 4: 6-3-4
Race 4 is the second of two trials to the Adequan Derby Challange, as well as the start of the $.20 Pick 4. #6 SEIZE THE WIN may be the overlay of the century if he goes off at his ML estimate of 7-2. He has won two Stakes races in his nine race career, including a romp in the $418,000 Hialeah Derby. He didn't fire in the South Florida Derby, but he did get a good runner up finish in a trial for the Heritage Place Derby behind a horse who finished 2nd in the 2014 Heritage Place Futurity (G1) by a nose. He gets to face a much softer bunch than he has been racing with, and he is simply a very talented colt. #3 EMBRACE EXTRAVAGENCE debuted two weeks ago in a 220 yard maiden race, lunged at the start but recovered to get the win. It was impressive. She can certainly move forward now that she has a start under her belt, and while I don't see her (or anyone) upsetting Seize the Win, I think there's a bright future for this filly. #4 DEAL A FORTUNE is two for two here at Ajax Downs, and makes a logical move into this trial after winning his NW3 against older horses. He's likely going to go off as the second choice and is deserving of such odds.

Pick 4 ticket: 6/2,4/6,8/1,3,5,6 $3.20 for $.20.

Race 5: 2-4-6
#2 OURFIRSTORPHAN is a seven time winner with over $116,000 in the bank. He exits a fourth place finish behind The Fdd Map and now drops in class. He hasn't had much luck at the break in her three starts this year, but if he gets away well I think he's the best horse in this field. #4 STORYTIME BLUE has started twice this year, first in a trial to the Picov Maturity and second in an open allowance for fillies and mares. She didn't fire in either of those efforts but now drops to this rank where she should be competitive. #6 I LIKE CHICS was too little too late in his 2015 debut at this level. He did run alright, however, and could move forward in his second start off the bench. This race starts the late Pick 3.

Race 6: 6-8-3
This race is the first leg of the Late Double. #6 EYE SELECT raced a good second on May 31 against Ontario Sired Maidens but couldn't stand up in a trial for the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity. She drops into a Maiden Speed Index and looks like the fastest horse in the field. #8 ZOOM ZOOMN has crossed the wire first three times but has been DQ'd each time. He has a bad habit of lugging out but has a big shot to get that elusive victory if he stays straight. #3 IAMASWEETMAN faced Maiden Speed Index runners last time, finishing second by a neck. A repeat of that effort puts him in the mix. The underneath spots of this field are a toss up in my opinion.

Race 7: 3-1-6
#3 ARIZONA BENNIE had a good 2 year old season, never finishing worse than second including runner ups in the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity and the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. His June 17 workout was good, and I expect him to be able to be just as game as he was last year. #1 ARCTIC SPECIAL exits a second in a NW2 allowance at Hazel Park. He had a poor break that night but did race well to get up for second. He could certainly improve making his second start off the bench. #6 REMEMBER THE MUSIC raced very well in an open NW2 Allowance on May 17 but was outclassed when facing The Fdd Map. She should appreciate dropping into Ontario Sired company.

Good luck to everyone joining us today!

Kawartha Downs Selections June 27

I forgot to post my selections for both Kawartha and Ajax up here last week so I'm making sure it gets done this week.

     Kawartha has another 10 race card of harness racing tonight. First post is at 7 PM Eastern, and free programs and a live video feed are up at their website, You can play from home on HPI if you can't make it out to the track.

     Here is this week's Doug on the Downs.

Race 1: 4-2-3
#4 ROYAL MACHERY raced a good second at Flamboro on May 21 but has had the trailing tier in both of his local starts and hasn't performed well. He made a break at the 3/4 last week. He draws better this week, drops in class and gets Gord Brown in the bike. #2 P L INFERNO was a winner here on June 6 and came back to finish third at Georgian with a gapped pocket trip, beaten next to nothing for second. A big threat. #3 BIG LEFT TURN makes his first start of the year off of a 1.57.2 qualifying effort. He showed some ability in his debut at Rideau last year, coming from 6th at 3/4 to finish 3rd by only 3/4 of a length.

Race 2: 5-4-3
#5 SEASONALSUNNY was in contention at 3/4 two weeks back but made a break at the top of the stretch. She raced well against tougher on June 6 and draws a better post than she's had in recent weeks. #4 P L IDOL was a no excuse second last week, taking a big breather in the second 1/4 racing on the front end and not being able to put up a fight down the lane. She has been on the board very consistently so far this year. #3 LINE SPEED made his debut last week, had a poor trip from the trailing spot and finished last. He should be able to get good position from this post and might show a little more tonight.

Race 3: 3-4-5
#3 LEAHS JET has been knocking on the door, with a second two weeks back and a good third last week where she made up good ground in the stretch. She is the absolute one to beat in this field. #4 MEGA SPORTSSTAR was second at the top of the lane last week but faded to be sixth. She makes her third start off the bench and may be a bit sharper tonight. #5 RYANS ROCKETTE has had breaking issues that could hinder her tonight. She finished second in a qualifier 10 days ago and might race well if she stays flat.

Race 4: 1-6-7
#1 BEAU SEELSTER finished third behind the two favourites last week, pacing the back half in 57.4, making up good ground late. He doesn't win often, but he's third off the bench and the two horses who beat him last time draw poorly. Tonight could be the night for him. #6 GO MUD was beaten only a nose last week despite a first over trip from post 6. He's the horse to beat in this field if he puts in the same effort. #7 BETTER ART went to the front, took a second 1/4 breather and was able to fight off Go Mud by a nose. He will have a tougher time winning like that from post 7, but he showed last year that he is a horse who likes to win.

Race 5: 2-3-5
#2 WHIPPEROSA has had poor luck in her three local starts this season, saving no ground and making a late break while in contention two weeks ago. If she can work out a trip tonight, I can certainly see her winning. #3 FLEETWOOD ZENA is in very good form lately, with a win, a second and a third in her last three starts. She no longer has to face Cougar Gal, who's won her last two starts, and she should be very dangerous. #5 HELLO AMERICA hasn't raced poorly in three starts here, she showed some fight when finishing second on June 6, but she needs to improve if she wants to win. She got last week off and may be a bit sharper.

Race 6: 3-4-6
#3 SURGE SEELSTER looks very tough to beat, exiting two very strong wins. If he is as sharp tonight as he has been in his last two, he should win again. #4 IMA HOLY TERROR is a longshot with a chance to race well tonight. He was interfered with and made a break at the 1/4 last week but found his gait and paced third over to be fifth of sixth. With better luck I can see him hitting the board. #6 MAN OF MANY ARTS is the horse with the best chance to beat Surge Seelster. He was second over into a fast pace last week, tipped three wide at the 3/4 and drew off for a win in 1.56 flat. He will probably need a similar pace to close into if he's going to win again tonight.

Race 7: 2-1-6
#2 KINGSTONE comes in from a fourth at Rideau facing $10,000 claimers where he was beaten a 1/2 length for third. On May 10 he came off of a four and a half month break and was beaten only 1/2 a length by Burst Hanover. He has not won in a while but that could change tonight. #1 BURST HANOVER was a winner at Rideau four starts back but has not been as effective since. She was heavily favoured in a $10,000 claimer at Grand River 10 days ago but made a break at the start and finished sixth. The class drop certainly makes her a big factor. #6 CELEBRITY LEGACY is winless in 10 tries this year, but has four seconds, three in his last four starts. He has a lot of backclass, with 20 wins, $262,598 in the bank and a mark of 1.54.3 down at Pompano. Unlike the rest of his competition, he races for the tag because he has exceeded the NW$500L3 condition.

Race 8: 4-6-3
#4 THREE NEW DAWNS led the first over charge last week, was second at the top of the lane but was run down by Motor Shark. He generally races well when he gets a good trip and should be able to do so tonight. #6 MOTOR SHARK followed the cover of Three New Dawns and came home strongly down the stretch for the win. He's a four time winner this year with a mark of 1.55.4 at Flamboro. He deserves respect, big chance to double up. #3 MR XL faced tougher last week from post seven, and raced an un-noteworthy sixth. The week before when facing $5,000 conditioned claimers he was fourth beaten only a length and a 1/2. He should be better than he was last week.

Race 9: 4-1-5
#4 PRETTYDANGEROUS exits back to back third place efforts at Rideau, both of which she's been near the back at the half and launched three wide at 3/4. Last week she took the lead at the top of the stretch but evened out. The week before she was 6th at the top of the stretch and kept making up ground. She has a good shot here. #1 COUGAR GAL has won back to back races, both with front stepping efforts where she's taken a big second 1/4 breather. If she can do that again, she can win tonight. If she is challenged early, there's a chance she may not even hit the board. #5 FLYUSTOTHEMOON had the far outside post last week, went three wide at 3/4 but couldn't get up for anything better than 5th. She was a winner two weeks back with a second over trip and gets a better post to work with tonight.

Race 10: 6-1-4
#6 REMSHEG JULIAN finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Ive Got It All last week in an $8,000 claiming handicap at Rideau. Although winless in 2015, he had a good 2014 with 6 wins and 14 top 3 finishes in 27 starts. Reg Gassien takes the drive; he's dangerous. #1 IVE GOT IT ALL was a $6,500 claiming winner at Rideau two starts back but was just an okay 5th in the $8,000 claiming handicap. He is a very consistent sort with a good post to work with tonight. #4 L H SONOFTHETIMES has gone a couple of decent miles this season, most notably a third from the trailing tier two weeks ago. He's very win shy, but he's in good form and can round this race out.

Good luck to everyone joining us tonight!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Hubbard's Next Move Will Speak Volumes

There have been some interesting happenings at Ruidoso Downs as of late.

      Last fall it was announced that Ruidoso would be implementing heavy surveillance and "super testing" for it's six Quarter Horse Triple Crown races. R. D. Hubbard, the owner of Ruidoso Downs, called cheaters "a cancer to horse racing."

     Well, it turns out the super testing is working, as trainer Michael Joiner ended up getting four positives for clenbuterol. The kicker: one of the horses is co-owned by Hubbard.

     I'm incredibly curious to see what Hubbard will do next. One would hope that he would take all of his horses out of Joiner's stable and not allow him to race at Ruidoso. But, this is horse racing, and it wouldn't surprise me if Hubbard were to keep quiet and Joiner ends up going unpunished aside from any fines and suspensions from the New Mexico Racing Commission.

      Hubbard's efforts to clean up his track have been commendable, but if he expects people to take him seriously he must put the hammer down on Joiner. The rules are great, but they don't mean much if they don't apply to everybody.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The California Chrome Effect

California Chrome is a horse people love to talk about. No one wanted to shut up about him during last year's Triple Crown season, we kept talking about him in his end of the year Parx-Breeders' Cup-Del Mar turf campaign, and his international travels have kept him as America's most talked about horse (sorry American Pharoah.)

     But here's something you didn't know about California Chrome: over exposure to him makes people total jackasses. Yes, it's shocking, but California Chrome might be the most dangerous horse humanity has ever seen.

     Let's roll back a year, to Belmont Stakes 2014, to Steve Coburn's epic "coward's way out" rant.

Now, Coburn had been outspoken through the whole campaign, but he had never said anything that made himself look like an outright jerk. After a five week Triple Crown campaign, spending more time with his horse than ever, he blew up.

      Although Coburn had lost some fans, most people still had the utmost of respect for Chrome's trainer, Art Sherman. Small stable, humble, family operation, the kind of guy you want to cheer for. But both Art and his son Alan made themselves look a bit less likable after it was announced that Chrome would race at Ascot. "I would have never done it myself," "They don't realize the horses that are going to be involved, they go counterclockwise, he's got to learn to go the opposite way, and everything. It's going to be rough on him, I think." and various comments about the horse's weight based on training videos. I understand there is some legitimate concern about the horse (although we didn't seem to hear these comments before the horse raced in Dubai on the dirt) but most people would be thrilled just to have to opportunity to race at Ascot, especially a little guy like Sherman. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Chrome fans started an online petition demanding
Chrome not race at Ascot and return to the US
      But the truest example of how this horse makes people say crazy things comes from the "Bring Chrome Home" wing of Chromies. It was announced that Chrome would (almost certainly) not race at Ascot this week after coming up with a bruised foot. The reaction from this group of die-hard fans was interesting. 
Chromies react to their favourite horse coming up injured
      I have been around horses all my life, and I have consistently gone into the racetrack to work on the backstretch for six years. I have worked for a handful of long time trainers, and have spent time with hundreds of various horses working for various people. In my time, I have NEVER thanked God that one of my horses was injured, even with something so minor as a foot bruise. I have also NEVER heard racing fans complain that a horse was training and planning on racing in England, which is generally thought of as the ideal country for a horse to train and race. I have NEVER heard that switching from going counter-clockwise on dirt to clockwise on turf caused horses to be injured. Maybe these people are right, but this is the craziest sounding talk I've heard from racing fans that I have ever heard.

       I have come to the conclusion that something about this horse will make people literally go crazy. Too much of a good thing, I suppose. I'm not saying that no one should be a fan of this horse, but I am saying enjoy California Chrome in moderation. Be responsible. If you find yourself thanking God that a horse is injured, you may want to get yourself checked out.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Ajax Downs Selections June 14

It's Sunday, which means it's time for some Quarter Horses at Ajax. Today's card features a pair of trials to the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity. The best older horses from Ontario are looking to earn a spot in the $45,000 added final. Here are my selections for today's card.

Race 1: 1-4-5
Welcome to Ajax Downs! #1 FORTUNE PENDING showed ability last year, finishing second in the John Deere Ajax Juvenile Challenge. He raced in one of the QROOI Overnight Series Maiden races and finished a very good 4th in a race where he was forced in very late. He's the one to beat. #4 THE DIAMOND CARTEL was claimed by Renee Wilson last year for $5,000 in September. She raced her once after that, finishing a good fourth behind a horse named Random Audit, who's two-for-two this year. She shows a work at Hazel Park in Detroit coming into this. #5 DEE DEES WINNER was cut off midway in the race on May 17 in one of the QROOI Overnight Series Ontario Sired Maiden races to finish 7th. She had a few okay efforts last year, a few fourths and a third, and can improve today. Early Double wagering is available here.

Race 2: 7-3-5
This race starts the early Pick 3. #7 FLYING SECRETS pulled an 18-1 upset two weeks ago in one of the QROOI Overnight Series Maiden races. He was forced outwards 70 yards into the race but found a very nice late gear and got up for the win over a horse shipping in from Will Rogers. If he can run that well again, he will be tough. #3 HOLEY FOOSE had the lead but was caught late in a NW2 Allowance on May 31, in a race won by Deal a Fortune, who came back to win a NW3 Allowance last week. She should put in a good effort here. #5 FASTAZ TASK has hit the board in five of his nine starts. He makes his first start of 2015 here off of a good 220 yard work. He has the 2nd highest class rating of the field.

Race 3: 3-4-5
#3 FAVORITE LEADER is a Texas-bred who faces five Ontario-sired rivals today. She managed to get a third in her second start last year, and makes her first start off the layoff with a breeze at Hazel on Tuesday. #4 ARCTIC LAKE hasn't had any luck in two starts this year, but manage to get a second and a third last year. He finds himself eligible for the Speed Index Maiden condition and may appreciate that drop. #5 DASHING SUGARMAN raced an okay sixth on May 31, taking a bump after 50 yards and actually finishing ahead of Arctic Lake. He has not hit the board in eight starts.

Race 4: 6-1-4
Race 4 is the start of the $.20 Pick 4. #6 CARAWAY BLUE finished fourth in a very close finish on May 24. The 8 year old has 10 wins under his belt including two Stakes victories, and should be the one to beat here. #1 U B CRAWLIN raced at Hialeah this winter, getting a win and two second in four starts, all for lower claiming tags. Her class rating is close to Caraway Blue's and she could be a factor in her Ajax debut. #4 CHISSLED AND FIESTY exits a win in an Ontario-sired NW3 Allowance/Optional $7,000 claimer. Although she has only won three of her 36 starts, she has hit the board 21 times.

Pick 4 ticket: 1,6/5,7/4,5,6/8  $2.40 for $.20

Race 5: 7-5-4
#7 EMBRACE EXTRAVAGENCE was my pick in a race two weeks ago, but she flipped in the gate and was scratched. I'm still going to stand with her, she has looked great in her workouts and she has some very nice pedigree. I expect a big run out of her. #5 EFFORTLESS GAME went off as the favourite in her Ajax debut on May 24 but got shuffled back at the break and couldn't recover. She showed some talent in her American starts and should be a factor with a clean break. #4 DM KING CITY has had poor luck in his two starts so far, flipping in the gate prior to his debut and taking two bumps early two weeks ago. We should get a fair chance to see if he has any talent or not today.

Race 6: 4-6-5
This race is the first of two trials for the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity. It also starts the late Pick 3. #4 NOT LOOKING TO SHAKE makes his 2015 debut here after a good 2014, where he compiled a record of 8-2-1-2. He won his first start of the year in 2012, 2013 and 2014, has a Stakes win under his belt and $141,942 in the bank. #6 CHARTED BY DM raced a great second last week behind The Fdd Map, one of the tougher older horses in Ontario. He qualified to this race last year, is second off the bench, and almost always races well against Ontario Sired runners. #5 CRUWYSN THE ARCTIC was the runner up in last year's Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity. In his 2015 debut, he raced in a Starter Allowance going 220 yards, where he lost his early footing but managed to find his stride and rally for third. He should be tough here.

Race 7: 8-5-2
This race is the second of two trials for the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity. #8 JESSKISSMYTEXAS should win this race. The 5 year old is seven for 13 in his career, went three for three last year, is the defending champion of this race, his class rating is 10.1 points higher than the second highest in this field, and he looked terrific in his June 3rd gate work. It's going to take a lot to beat him. #5 PEGASOS ONE UNDERPAR only missed the board once in nine starts last year. While he is a classy runner, he gets leg weary at the longer distances. 330 is one of his better distances, he has hit the board in seven of nine starts at it. He should race well here. #2 RECKLESS AN WILD is last year's Ontario Sires Stakes Derby winner. He raced against older horses once last year, finishing third behind my top two picks. He has looked good working out and should race well in his 2015 debut. Late Double wagering is offered here.

Race 8: 8-5-7
#8 JESS FLY N HIGH came off the bench to score a Maiden win on May 24. He won that race by 1/2 a length but it probably would have been 3/4 or a full length had he not veered out late. He showed some ability as a two year old when he finished 4th in a Futurity trial. #5 THATSALOTOFSUGAR was a Maiden winner on opening day, broke slow and was a non-factor a week later, then finished a good second on May 31 with a 57 speed figure. Barring another slow break, she should race well. #7 FAMES A WINNER didn't show much in his season debut against NW2 Allowance runners. Dylan Williams, Renee Wilson's first-call rider, opts with this one over Jess Fly N High. Perhaps they expect improvement.

Good luck to everyone playing today!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Kawartha Downs Selections June 13

"Doug on the Downs" kicked off last week at Kawartha Downs with four winners on the 10 race card, and now it's time to see if I can do it again. Another 10 race card on tap this weekend at Kawartha, here are my selections.

Race 1: 6-3-5
#6 VEGILANTE HANOVER comes off back to back 3rd place finishes, most recently making up 8 3/4 lengths in the stretch to go from 7th to 3rd, clocking in the mile in 1.57.3. The final 1/4 was slow, it looks like he was shuffled back between 3/4 and 7/8, picking up speed in the final 1/8. #3 WILDCAT CHARLIE hasn't show anything in two starts, but exits a good qualifying effort where he came home in 29.3. He could improve tonight. #5 SCREENWRITER makes his career debut off of a qualifying win. Be cautious betting at a short price; he has made breaks in two of his four qualifiers.

Race 2: 4-7-1
#4 P L INTIMIDATOR has been racing at Mohawk and not having much luck, with a fourth being his best showing in four starts this year. The class drop will help him. #7 EMMY HANOVER finished 2nd with a first-over trip last week after making a break at the start. Despite the tough post she should be tough if she says flat. #1 WINDSUN MADISON started from the trailing tier and finished 5th. She did get a runner up finish two weeks back and starts from a better spot tonight.

Race 3: 1-2-3
#1 COUGAR GAL was part of a fast pace last week, had the lead at the top of the stretch but stopped down the lane. She still went the mile in 1.57.3 and likely will not have to go as fast early as she did last time. #2 FLEETWOOD ZENA went to the front last week, got very easy fractions and won wire-to-wire by 3/4 of a length. She likely will not be able to get away with the same trip this week. #3 SESTINA raced a closing 3rd on opening night but took last week off. Last year she was an 8 time winner who hit the board in 22 of 39 starts with a mark of 1.56.1. She is best coming from behind and will benefit from a hot early pace.

Race 4: 4-1-9
#4 SHININGSTARATNIGHT has not raced particularly well this year for whatever reason, the exception being a 2nd at Flamboro back on March 28. After a disappointing effort on opening night she took an easy qualifying win last week, perhaps as a confidence booster, and drops in class here. #1 CELEBRITY LEGACY strung together three runner up finishes in April and May in $6,000 claimers at Western Fair and Flamboro. He wasn't great at Georgian last week, but he draws a good post tonight and is in better form than most of his competition. #9 L H SONOFTHETIMES didn't show much on opening night and drops in class tonight. Back in the winter he was racing at a high class at Western Fair and managed to get a fourth on December 12. He could find position from the trailing tier.

Race 5: 5-1-8
#5 FLIGHT OF AN ANGEL put in a good closing effort last week, going the mile in 1.59.2. If she has any pace to close into I expect a good effort out of her tonight. #1 CASIMIR NUTMEG came off of an eight month layoff to finish third at this level last week. She can improve second off the bench. #8 PERFECT CIRCLE had a tough post and a tough trip last week, and unfortunately gets another tough post to work with tonight. Her debut two weeks back wasn't a bad race at all given the broken equipment in the stretch. If she does manage to work out a good trip, she may race well at a big price.

Race 6: 7-6-4
#7 CASIMIR NANOOK comes in from Mohawk where she hasn't shown much in her last three starts. Although she draws a tough post here, she catches an easy looking field and should be tough. #6 MIDNIGHT JET raced a good 3rd last week and a 2nd the week before. She'll have to work harder from post 6 than the 3 hole she's gotten in her last two, but she deserves respect here. #4 LUCKY COCKTAIL has been racing in $10,000 claimers at Flamboro and Georgian and she's had some good efforts, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths on April 30th, a runner up on May 7. She had a poor post last week. I expect better tonight.

Race 7: 5-3-2
#5 GO MUD finished 5th in a higher class last week in a race where he gapped from 2nd going quick fractions and tired late. He put in some good efforts in the NW$20,000 at Flamboro this spring and should appreciate the class drop. #3 THREE NEW DAWNS won against this class last week, taking the lead at the half, going an easy 3rd 1/4 and never being challenged down the stretch. He has back class, with $272,114 earnings and 34 wins in his career and should not be tossed. #2 LET THERE BE ROCK finished 4th behind Three New Dawns last week in his first start off the bench with a first over trip. He could certainly improve in his second start with a better trip.

Race 8: 3-4-9
#3 WHIPPEROSA came off of a two month layoff, drew post 7 and raced a good fourth with a second over trip, pacing the back half in 58.1. She takes a small drop in class and is second off the bench here. #4 HELLO AMERICA finished 2nd last week, a length in front of Whipperosa. Both of her local efforts have been good, she is tough to fault in this spot. #9 FLYUSTOTHEMOON is a three time winner this year. She has been racing primarily in $5,000 and $6,000 claimers at Flamboro and Western Fair. Her last effort wasn't very good, but she could turn that around tonight.

Race 9: 5-3-2
#5 DADDY WARBUCKS comes in from Mohawk where he most recently finished 5th, losing ground and coming home in 27.2. He makes his third start of the year here and faces easier company. #3 COLLEGE MAJOR won a local qualifier in a blowout time of 1.55.4, pacing the back half in 57.1. I don't know why they decided to qualify like that, but I do know the horse is capable enough, he was a winner at Woodbine last year, and he will be tough here. #2 BLAZING SAKRA made his first start since 2013 last week, sitting last most of the way and making up ground in the stretch to be fourth. We'll see if he shows any improvement tonight.

Race 10: 1-5-2
#1 NOLANATOR drops in for the tag off of two 4th place finishes against higher levels. Facing easier competition and drawing the rail post tonight, I expect him to be tough. #5 IMA HOLY TERROR was just behind Nolanator last week in his first start off the bench. Although she ended the season racing at Woodbine, her only win last year came at Georgian Downs. She should fit well here. #2 MIGHTY MOUSE has made up ground in the stretch in both of her starts here. She moves inside while the horses who have beaten her have outside draws. She has an outside shot here.

Good luck to everyone playing tonight!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Ajax Downs Selections June 7

Good card of racing today at Ajax with some competitive fields. Feature race is a $20,000 QROOI Overnight Series Open for fillies and mares. Writing this in a rush. Here are my selections for today.

Race 1: 1-3-4
Welcome back to Ajax Downs! #1 TTT KELLYS REGAN makes his second start of the meet after getting beat a nose in a tougher class by a horse called Memories Times Six, who's been a very good Allowance/high Claiming horse for a few years. This gelding has only missed the board once in his six starts at Ajax and should be tough to beat on the class drop. #3 FEARGHAS was a very good looking Maiden winner here last fall before wintering at Hialeah Park. At Hialeah he managed to win a Derby trial and qualified to two Derbies, where he found himself a bit outclassed. The horses he raced against have been of good quality: Premier Ethics is a Grade 2 winner who is undefeated in six starts and Eat the Fish is a two-time Stakes placed runner. This horse should not be 10-1 come post time. #4 DEAL A FORTUNE made his Ajax debut two weeks ago with a win in a NW2 Allowance. He steps up to the NW3, but his speed figures say that he should be competitive with this group. Daily Double wagering is offered here.

Race 2: 6-3-5
This race kicks off the early Pick 3. #6 I LIKE CHICS made his career debut last year as a 5 year old, and raced very well against credible horses. He made six starts, got three wins, a second and a third. He finds himself eligible for this Speed Index condition, where he should be a major player. #3 DONTELLMEMYBUSINESS had a good 2014, with two wins and two more on-the-board finishes in eight starts. He made his 2015 debut in a Starter Allowance on opening day where he was a non-threatening third of five, but all things considered he raced pretty well. He drops into a more logical spot, and while he's been beaten by I Like Chics on two occasions, he could be a factor here. #5 FIRST PRIZE OSCAR was a rallying second in a Speed Index race two weeks back, where he was forced outwards near the wire. He makes his second start off the bench and hopes to be able to keep a straight path today.

Race 3: 4-2-7
#4 NOT STEPPIN DOWN raced in the QROOI Ontario Sired Maiden Overnight Stakes two weeks ago and had poor luck, stumbling at the start, then being forced out and having to check midway through the race. He showed some ability back in September when he finished second in a trial for the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. I expect to see some improvement today. #2 FASTAZEXPRESS faced a fairly tough Ontario Sired NW2 Allowance two weeks back, but was fractious in the gate and lost all chance when the rider lost his irons at the start. Her race on opening day wasn't too bad, and she has to improve off of that last start. #7 A LIKELY HERO took a few starts last year before he showed any ability, but he did end the season with a good second in an Ontario Sired Maiden. He posts a pretty solid work down in Michigan prepping for this start.

Race 4: 6-1-7
Race 4 is the start of the $.20 Pick 4. #6 THE FDD MAP really seems to outclass this field: his class rating is 14.2 points higher than the second highest in the field. He only won once in 2014, but he was first racing at Hialeah and then racing against horses like Country Boy Deluxe, Joltin Jess, First Down the Track, Piranhaaa, and What Ta Wear who all top horses. He's had two good works coming into this and should be able to win today. #1 JOHNNY GETTIN CASH has the best shot to upset The Fdd Map here. He makes his Ajax debut off of a win at Louisiana Downs. Renee Wilson takes over training duties. I still don't expect The Fdd Map to lose, but if something happens that screws his chances up, this gelding should be the one to inherit the win. #7 CHARTED BY DM makes his 2015 debut after an okay, albeit winless 2014. He also faced some very tough horses like Country Boy Deluxe, Jesskissmytexas and Reckless an Wild. If this field didn't include The Fdd Map, I would have to think this horse is the second choice behind Johnny Gettin Cash.

Pick 4 ticket: 6/6,8/ALL/1 $3.20 for $.20

Race 5: 6-8-5
#6 IMAFLYSMASHINGBABY exits a good second behind Deal A Fortune (Race 1 today) two weeks back with a speed figure of 65, strong for this group. He's not super consistent, but a good effort today will make him a big factor. #8 CC FIRE N ICE was an upset winner in a QROOI Ontario Sired Maiden Overnight Stakes on May 17. He was average as a two year old but based on his win he's likely improved significantly from two to three. #5 GEORGE IS DASHING won an Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trial last year, but offered little in the final. He posted a good work prepping for his 2015 debut and could race well at a big price.

Race 6: 7-3-4
#7 MARTHAS JESS GOLD was a surprise winner two weeks back, but ended up being DQd to last for bothering a foe. If she stays straight and doesn't bother anyone today, she should be the best horse in this field. #3 TTT KELLYS COPPERTWO ended 2014 with a third behind Fearghas (Race 1 today) and Eyes That Tell, who was the winner of Marthas Jess Gold's last race by DQ. I suspect this filly could end up winning a couple of races this year, although I'm not sure today is the day. #4 CORONA STRAW exits the same race as Marthas Jess Gold, but was bothered at the start and couldn't get going. I certainly expect improvement off of that effort, and 8-1 is probably too high of a price on her. Use her in your exotics. The Late Pick 3 starts here.

Race 7: 1A-5-8
Today's feature is the $20,000 QROOI Overnight Series Fillies and Mares Open. Late Double wagering is offered here. #1A FIRST DOWN THE TRACK debuted in a trial for the Picov Maturity off of a great work; I thought she was a lock that day. However. she proved me wrong by rearing at the start, eliminating her chances. If she actually breaks today, she should be the best horse in this field. I'll give her a second chance. #5 VARSITY LACE dead-heated for third in the Picov Maturity last week, racing really well with a not so great trip. She's a horse who wouldn't need to improve very much to be a tough Stakes horse, and she's certainly worth a look here. #8 STORYTIME BLUE is realistically a nice Allowance/Starter Allowance/high Claiming horse, she's just not quite at Stakes level. On her best day. she is good enough to hit the board with mares like this, and I expect her to be higher than 4-1 at post time.

Race 8: 5-10-6
#5 SILK SHAKE raced in a Maiden on opening day, rallying to be third going 220. She gets an extra 80 yards to work wit today and is a 4 year old racing against mostly three year olds. At 15-1, I'll give her a chance. #10 BA LUCKY PENNY made her seasonal debut in a QROOI Ontario Sired Overnight Maiden Stakes, racing greenly but posting a good speed figure. She needs to keep straight today, but perhaps breaking from the outside and having a clear path will help her. #6 GRASSHOPPER FLATS finished a half length ahead of Ba Lucky Penny on May 17, finishing fourth after being forced inwards. He can certainly move forward in his second start off the bench.

Good luck to everyone playing today!