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!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Kawartha Downs Selections June 6

So here's a new little gig.

Starting today (Saturday, June 6) I am doing a program tip sheet called "Doug on the Downs" for Kawartha Downs. For those who aren't too familiar with harness racing, Kawartha is a little harness track near Peterborough, Ontario. I needed some harness racing on my resume. I figured I might as well post them on here, too. So here it is, the inaugural "Doug on the Downs."

Race 1: 2-1-3
#2 THE ROCK took three weeks off and came here last week, racing an okay fifth. Came home in a good 27.3 at Mohawk on May 7. Gets some post relief and should be a bit sharper tonight. #1 REAL RAYE won here last week by almost three lengths in 1.57.1 (same race as The Rock) sitting a pocket trip. Good post to work with tonight, can double up with a good trip. #3 CAMSTER races best on the front end, winning two in a row at Flamboro and Western Fair. Big post relief and gets Gord Brown in the bike tonight.

Race 2: 2-7-6
#2 ARTISTIC GUSSIE has been racing well at Flamboro, exiting a 4th place finish against NW$10,000L. She drops in class tonight and can race well both on and off the pace. #7 CROSSROADS came off of a two week break and scored an easy win here last week. She got very soft fractions in that start and will need to work harder tonight from post seven. #6 FLIGHT OF AN ANGEL came in from Rideau and finished 4th behind Crossroads. She is a come from behind type who would be helped if the early fractions were faster tonight.

Race 3: 1-5-9
#1 P L INFERNO has had poor posts in his three starts so far but draws the rail tonight. He is capable of coming home quickly and will benefit if the pace is fast tonight. #5 SPORTS FEVER finished third in a higher class last week on the front end. It doesn't look like there is any pace to his inside so he will probably look to go wire to wire. #9 ROYAL MACHERY exits a runner up finish at Flamboro. He could improve in his third start, but will need to work out a trip from the trailing tier.

Race 4: 6-5-4
#6 GWENS A STAR raced a good third last week, beaten very little for second. She catches a soft looking group here. #5 MACH OF THE TOWN comes in from Flamboro. She has taken a lot of money in her last three starts and has not been able to win. Perhaps she will like the 5/8ths oval better than the half. #4 LEAHS JET exits a qualifying win over a sloppy track. She has not raced since January, but the time off may have benefited her.

Race 5: 2-9-6
#2 HURRICANE HAZEL raced on the WEG circuit this spring. She showed some ability in her debut, finishing third with a final 1/4 in 28. She took an easy qualifying win coming into this race. #9 WINDSUN MADISON made her career debut last week, finishing second. She starts from the trailing tier behind two horses who may show early foot, meaning she could work out a good trip. #6 EARLY HIT raced at this level last week, going to the front and getting caught late. He was a three time winner last year with seven on the board finishes in 13 starts. He makes his second start off the layoff tonight.

Race 6: 4-3-5
#4 KEYSTONE SAMURAI blew up the board with a 28-1 win last week. When she can work out a trip she is almost always competitive. She should be able to race well again tonight. #3 HELLO AMERICA finished fourth behind Keystone Samurai last week. She had been racing primarily in the Maritimes, where she had an okay 2014, with three wins and a mark of 1.57.1 at Charlottetown. She may improve in her second local start. #5 ANNIE MCVICAR is a bit win-shy, hitting the board in 19 of her last 35 starts but only managing to win once. She managed to finish second behind Keystone Samurai with a bad post last week and has a shot to turn the tables.

Race 7: 5-3-6
#5 JET AIRLINER raced a very good second last week, fighting for the lead early and only getting beat a half length. Last year he took a mark of 1.55.4 over this oval and could improve second off the layoff. #3 MAJOR AARIES came in from Rideau and beat Jet Airliner last week with a stalking trip. He gets an easier post tonight and will likely be a big factor again. #6 SOS MACH XTREME dead heated for second with Jet Airliner, rallying from off the pace. He did benefit from the contested pace, but he could race well second off the bench.

Race 8: 1-5-4
#1 LOVES A CHALLENGE took an easier win at Hiawatha on May 9th and has since raced well twice at Mohawk, beaten only two lengths on Monday. He should be tough in this spot. #5 ZAMBUCA GASS was a seven time winner last year with a mark of 1.53.4 at Rideau. He raced at this level last week and was beaten only 3/4 of a length. A repeat of the effort should make him a factor tonight. #4 FORTUNE PLAYBOY has been racing in the high claiming ranks at Rideau and doing well when he gets a trip. He had some decent races at Woodbine earlier this year, notably a third on March 19.

Race 9: 1-6-3
#1 SURVEILLANCE exits a two length win at Rideau. She had some breaking issues here last year but was competitive whenever she stayed flat. Hopefully these issues don't arise this year. #6 GIRL DRAMA was a very easy winner at this level last week. She was a winner at Woodbine last year, and a repeat of last week's race makes her very tough tonight. #3 REDIAL finished third behind Girl Drama last week, making an off the pace middle move and evening out down the stretch. He gets some post relief tonight.

Race 10: 3-2-1
#3 BETTER ART showed some improvement last week, moving in from Mohawk. He had a very good year on the B tracks last year and should be good if he continues moving in the right direction. #2 JACKSON KILLEAN finished fifth last week in his first start since December. Gord Brown takes the drive tonight. She could move forward second off the layoff. #1 THREE NEW DAWNS won a couple of races in California this winter. In four starts at Rideau he has managed a very good third on May 10 and nothing else particularly notable. He is an on and off type who should be a factor if he is on.

Good luck to everybody playing tonight!