Monday, May 19, 2014

Our Handicapping Wins - Preakness Trifecta Follows Kentucky Derby Exacta

by Inside Florida Horse Racing Staff
May 19, '14

If you made our suggested Kentucky Derby and Preakness bets you almost tripled your money via some hedge betting.  

Inside Florida Horse Racing’s Triple Crown handicapping has produced a winner in both races, with a combined profit 2.7 times our suggested bets - and we owe it largely to second place finishers Commanding Curve and Ride on Curlin. 

Our predictions blogged Satuday on the Preakness Stakes included a winning $1 trifecta box of California Chrome, Ride on Curlin and Social Inclusion.  That $6 bet paid $38.00 and helped produce a total payoff of $65.60 on $42 in bets - for a 56 percent return on investment. 

That followed our Kentucky Derby bets of $46 that returned $170, all on a $1 exacta box with five horses that included favorite California Chrome and the 37-1 shot Commanding Curve. 

Through these two races, our $88 in betting has paid $235.60. That is  a 167 percent return on investment, also  calculated as a return 2.67  times the money bet, using a hedge betting strategy. 

Our Preakness predictions, posted Saturday morning, had two $1 exacta boxes.  Both came through, and both paid $9.10 with California Chrome and Ride on Curlin. 

Unfortunately, one of those bets was a $1 exacta box with  five horses for a $20 outlay. We had California Chrome, Ride on Curlin and three other horses. We knew that the $1 payoff  probably would pay less than our $20 wager if California Chrome won. But the payoff would be very good if California Chrome did not win or finish  second. We were ahead because of a similar Derby bet, so we figured “let’s try it  again.”  

We hit the Preakness trifecta with a box that numerous bettors used. But as noted below,  we predicted it cold.

Our other Preakness bets were $2 to Place and Show on Ride on Curlin and on Kid Cruz, who came in eighth. Ride on Curlin paid $5.60 and $3.80. 

For the Preakness, our predicted order of  finish was:  California Chrome, Ride on Curlin, Social Inclusion, Kid Cruz.  That fell through  when General a Rod came in fourth.  We did not have a superfecta in our recommended bets. 

Our handicapping is based on a hedge-type strategy for a bettor who can spend about $40. Naturally and caveat emptor, it can be used with bets larger than $1 and $2.Our next handicapping will be for the Belmont Stakes on June 7th. Starting June 15th we will handicap each Saturday’s feature stakes race at Gulfstream  Park, or at Calder Casino &  Race Course. Stay tuned for a summer of racing.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our Preakness Picks

by Inside Florida Horse Racing Staff

17 May '14
For  the Kentucky Derby, our main bet was a  $1 exacta box with five horses, including California Chrome and Commanding  Curve. That $20 bet returned $170.

For the Preakness, we are again suggesting several hedge exactas for bettors with a budget in the $40 range. 

We expect a speed duel with Social Inclusion and Bayern in front coming out of the final  turn. California Chrome will then tackle them, with Ride on Curlin and Kid Cruz making late runs.

Horses in our Preakness  mix:

2 - General a Rod
3 - California Chrome
5 - Bayern
7 - Kid Cruz
 - Social  Inclusion
10- Ride on Curlin
Note - If California Chrome wins, the five-horse exacta box payoff could be less than our $20 wager.  If he is not in the exacta, the payoff could be very big indeed!


$2 Place and Show   7,10             $8  total

$1 Exacta Box  -  3, 5, 7, 8,10      $20 total

$1 Exacta Part Wheel                   $8 total 

First leg       3,10

Second leg  1,2,3,8,10


$1 Trifecta Box                             $6 total



Our Predicted finish

1st -   California Chrome

2nd -  Ride on Curlin

3rd -   Social Inclusion

4th -   Kid Cruz

Gulfstream Park Saturday Preview

By Inside  Florida Horse Racing  Staff 

Saturday, May 17 - Little Mike, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade1) winner, will make his first start of 2014 today at Gulfstream Park. 

The 7-year-old gelding is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the $75,000 Flying Pidgeon Stakes, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds and up. 

Following the heavy rain on Friday morning, Gulfstream moved the day’s four scheduled turf races to dirt. The turf course was drying out by late afternoon, and no rain is  in  the Saturday forecast.

Friday, May 16, 2014

If Not California Chrome, Who?

By Tom Jicha
16 May '14

(Note -This column by Tom Jicha was originally published in Horse Race Insider, an on-line newsletter on the national racing scene edited by veteran racing writer John Pricci.)

Capsule: In my view, California Chrome faces a lackluster group of challengers in the Preakness. Only two horses who chased him home in the Derby, Ride on Curlin and General a Rod, are coming back for more, one of the smallest numbers in years. What's more, there are holes in the resumes of the new shooters. But there is a creative way to make a good score if he wins.
Friday, May  15 - "Looking for a danger, can’t find one” is a pet Trevor Denman phrase for a race with a runaway winner. This also sums up how I feel about Saturday’s Preakness.
Like most horse players, I’m always looking to beat the favorite, especially in a race with the ego satisfaction of the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Maybe I’ll have an inspiration as post-time draws closer. But a few days out, I can’t find a horse among those scheduled to run who can upset Derby champion California Chrome.
I would have loved to see Oaks winner Untapable take a shot but that isn’t going to happen.
I wonder if Steve Asmussen is gun shy about the attention running his filly against colts would bring. This wasn’t a factor when he sent out Rachel Alexandra to beat Mine That Bird in 2009 but that was then and this is now. The uproar if anything happened to Untapable would be deafening, even though fillies routinely run against - and beat - the boys everywhere else in the world.
Actually, there will be a filly running against the males. Ria Antonia, one of the most mismanaged horse in years, is being thrown into the fray. Her problem is not that she is a filly. It’s that she’s a filly who has given no indication that she is good enough to have an impact on a race like the Preakness. She has gotten to the wire first only once in eight career starts, a maiden sprint at Woodbine last July. She got kissed into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner’s circle when an exhausted She’s a Tiger bore out late.
Ria Antonia’s owners have been hell bent on challenging males since the Breeders’ Cup. Their first target this year was the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. Her then-trainer Jeremiah Englehart chose a more prudent spot; the Rachel Alexandra against her own sex, and she finished fourth.
That was it for Englehart. Next stop was the California barn of Bob Baffert, who got her to finish second in the Santa Anita Oaks. But after Ria Antonia ran sixth in the Kentucky Oaks, she was moved from Baffert to Tom Amoss, who agreed to enter her in the Preakness.
To make matters worse, Ria Antonia, as the only girl against the boys, will be seriously over-bet by drunks trying to score points with their girlfriends and women supporting one of their own.
California Chrome even has history on his side. Only three horses who did not run in the Derby have won the Preakness in the past 30 years: Rachel Alexandra, Bernardini and Red Bullet. Taking nothing away from Bernardini, who went on to establish himself as a great horse, his victory was tarnished when Barbaro broke down shortly after the start.
Is there anyone who mistakes Ride on Curlin and General a Rod for Rachel Alexandra, Bernardini or Red Bullet? Between them, these Derby also-rans have accounted for one stakes this year, General a Rod’s win in the one-turn mile Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.
I’ve been saying all winter and spring that General a Rod is a game animal but I could not see him getting a mile and a quarter. I feel the same way about a mile and three-sixteenths.
Ride On Curlin, who was given a highly questionable ride by Calvin Borel in the Derby, almost always gives you a late run. He could pick up some minor pieces in the Preakness but he’s zero-for-seven in stakes races.
I’d be tempted to take a shot with Bayern or Social Inclusion if one or the other wasn’t in the race. But since they each seem to have one-dimensional front-running styles, they could race each other into the ground, a perfect set-up for the stalking California Chrome.
There seems to be no doubt that Social Inclusion, who appears to have the sharpest early lick, is going to the lead after his final work on Monday, a half-mile in a bullet 47 seconds. Baffert indicated he’s going to a new strategy for Bayern, whose final work of 1:02 3/5 was atypically slow for Bullet Bob.
Baffert is taking off the blinkers, tipping his hand that he doesn’t want Bayern dueling on a hot pace. Still, there is only so much you can do to harness a horse's natural tendencies.
If Bayern can be successfully rated he could be double tough. He deserved to be taken down in the Derby Trial but, if you watch the race and the gallop-out, you will see that Embellishing Bob and Myositis Dan were not going to pass him.
Even if Bayern doesn’t go all out early, Social Inclusion should have company on the front end. Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact, Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend and Pablo Del Monte, who led the Blue Grass into the stretch, as well as General a Rod, are likely to be prominent early, although this could be suicidal for the lesser lights.
Every Preakness has at least one local shooter. This year, it’s Kid Cruz although he’s not exactly a native son, being based in New York. However, he did ship south to the Free State to win the Federico Tesio and Private Terms.
However, a Maryland spring-stakes winner who didn’t start in the Derby hasn’t upset Pimlico’s signature race since Deputed Testimony in 1983. But they do occasionally hit the board at generous odds and Kid Cruz’s late-running style could be the right way to go if the early fractions are as hot as they figure to be.
I’m looking for the danger to California Chrome but I can’t find it. He’s on top of my tickets with Bayern, Ride on Curlin and Kid Cruz in supporting positions.
The price on the Derby champ, even in exactas, is likely to be so short that there might be a better way to try to make a buck. Buy as many Belmont Stakes reserved seats before Saturday as your budget allows. If he wins, they will be like gold, shooting up in value because a Triple Crown will be on the line. If he doesn’t win, you weren’t going to collect anyway but the Belmont tickets, unlike losing pari-mutuel tickets, will still have some value.









Social Inclusion Heads Gulfstream Contingent in Preakness

by Jim Freer
16 May '14
(Note - This will be the first of our stories on Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, with much of the focus on horses that have raced at Gulfstream Park and on other Florida-related topics.)

On Saturday morning, we will have our Preakness predictions as we monitor Pimlico while at Gulfstream Park).

First, some thoughts on this year's Preakness: How the race shapes up, and what it might have been like if several top horses from Gulfstream Park had avoided injury and made it into the Triple Crown races.

The ten-horse Preakness field has four horses that ran at Gulfstream this year.  The lightly raced Social Inclusion, speedy and with a distance pedigree, will be the second betting choice behind Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. Social Inclusion finished third in his stakes debut, the Wood Memorial (Grade 1) at Aqueduct on April 5. He led until around the sixteenth pole and wound up 3 lengths behind Wicked Strong and a nose behind Samraat. Wicked Strong edged Samraat by a nose for fourth place in the 1-1/4 mile Kentucky Derby, both flattering Social Inclusion's Wood effort. Social Inclusion has post eight in the 1-3/16 mile Preakness, outside most of the other speed, and will be ridden by his regular jockey Luis Contreras.

Social Inclusion missed the Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream on May 3 because of a bone bruise in his right hind foot. But trainer Manny Azpurua said the colt is past that problem. This past Monday he had an ultra-fast 47.00 seconds workout for four furlongs at Pimlico. One widely-held scenario has Social Inclusion taking the lead around the final turn, with California Chrome on the move right behind him - setting up a potentially thrilling finish. General a Rod was a Gulfstream star. In three stakes races, he had a win, a second place finish and a third place finish. General a Rod finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby, after being forced to steady several times. He will be stalking the pace under Javier Castellano. Ring Weekend broke his maiden at Gulfstream, and later won the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2). Pablo Del Monte finished third and fourth in a pair of stakes at Gulfstream and third in the Blue Grass (Grade 1) at Keeneland. Ring Weekend and Pablo Del Monte both have early speed and likely will be part of a fast Preakness pace that sets up this scenario: It will be California Chrome's race to lose and Social Inclusion's race to win.  Or it could turn into late-running Ride on Curlin's big chance to finally pick up all of the pieces in a major stakes. It poured in Baltimore this morning and more rain is expected this afternoon. If the track is still wet on Saturday, past performances and breeding indicate that Ride on Curlin might be the horse with the most to benefit.

To win the Preakness, any of the other entrants will probably need a breakout race or a rebound to past form (e.g. General a Rod), combined with a sub-par race by California Chrome. Put all of that together, and you can understand why there is a view that California Chrome didn't beat much in the Kentucky Derby. and he is the best of a mediocre bunch.

Instead, we support this overview: California Chrome has developed and peaked at the right time, and his best may still be yet to come. Critics point to California Chrome's slow wining time of 2:03.66 and low (for the Kentucky Derby) Beyer Speed Figure of 97. The horse's backers point out that jockey Victor Espinoza allowed California Chrome to de-celerate in the final yards, in effect leaving gas in the tank for Pimlico. He won by 1-3/4 lengths over Commanding Curve who was still running strong after passing tiring horses. California Chrome's times in winning two Santa Anita stakes indicate he could have run faster if needed at Churchill Downs. He didn't need to because more than a half dozen of this year's top 2-year-olds are injured and were not in the Kentucky Derby.

Among this year's Gulfstream contingent now sidelined are: Constitution, winner of the Florida Derby (Grade 1); Cairo Prince, winner of the Holy Bull (Grade 2); Honor Code, winner of last year's Remsen (Grade 2) at Aqueduct; and Top Billing, an early season star who has a late-running style. Several of those horses should be back for this summer stakes at tracks such as Monmouth Park and Saratoga. So should Wildcat Red, the winner of this year's Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) at Gulfstream. Wildcat Red finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby after some heavy bumping early in the race, and came away with a cut on one leg and bruises on two other legs. Wildcat Red is healing quickly, said his trainer Jose Garoffalo who is giving the Gulfstream-based colt a break from training for several weeks.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hopes are High for an End to Head-to-Head Racing in South Florida

by Jim Freer

Thursday, May 15, '14  -  Gulfstream Park, Calder Casino & Race Course and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and  Protective Association are coming  down  the stretch in negotiating an agreement that would end the head-to-head weekend racing that the two tracks began last July.  

Officials of Gulfstream and officials of the horsemen’s group are providing  few details, but  are cautiously optimistic that a deal can be approved this month.  If that happens, the two South Florida tracks might  be able to halt their same-day racing as soon as this July.


Calder and its parent company Churchill Downs Inc.  (CDI) have declined to comment on the negotiations.

The major unresolved issue involves the often contentious  relationship between  tracks’ slot machines and their racing.


Calder, in Miami Gardens, over  the course of each year puts 12 percent of its net slot machine revenues into purses for its races. The agreement would reduce that payment to 10 percent of slot revenues, and the amount likely would fall from about $9 million to $7.5 million.


Calder’s slots revenues have been about $75 million in each  of Florida’s last two fiscal years, ending June 30, according to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.   That has led to payments of about $9 million per year for Calder race purses.


If those revenues stay in the $75 million range, the money for slot machines would fall to about $7.5 million at the  10 percent rate.


The slots revenues-to-race purses ratio would remain 10 percent at  Gulfstream.


The Florida HBPA, which has the annual purse contracts with each track, has indicated it will accept the plan.  But in return for less slots money from Calder, it is seeking some unspecified changes in its  agreements  with Gulfstream.


Requests by the Florida HBPA are being directed toward Gulfstream, which under the agreement would take over Calder’s racing operations through  a lease arrangement.  Calder, eight miles west of Gulfstream, would have racing approximately two months each  year and Gulfstream would have the remainder--with no overlap.


That would achieve the goal of the Florida HBPA, and almost everyone else in racing, of halting the head-to-head competition that began last July and is scheduled to continue through June 2015.


Gulfstream has confirmed  that  the deal, which it presented to the  horsemen April 28, has this basic framework:

* Gulfstream and  its parent Stronach Group would  lease  part of   Calder’s operations from Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI).   


*CDI would retain  ownership of Calder, including its casino.


* Calder would have racing  40 days,  probably in the fall, and  Gulfstream would race unopposed during the other weeks.


The agreement would be for six years. After approval by the tracks  and horsemen, it would require approval by the Florida DPMW.


Since last  summer, Calder has rejected  several offers under which  Gulfstream would have either bought or leased Calder.


In a statement issued May 9, Florida HBPA  president Phil Combest said: "I have to believe we're closer to an agreement than we've ever been.”


At Florida pari-mutuels, net slot machine revenues are the money that players put into machines minus payouts to players and promotional credits.


Calder has 1,170 Las Vegas-style slot machines in its casino that  is  adjacent to its racing  building,  Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach,  has 875 of those machines in the two  casino rooms in its racing building.


Gulfstream is  on pace to generate about $49 million in net  slots  revenues during the current fiscal year, which will end this June 39.  That is similar to fiscal 2012-2013  when that total was $48.7 million.


Over the course of 150 race days, approximately Calder’s current annual schedule, the $1.5 million decrease would amount  to about $10,000 less in money for purses each day.  In recent weeks, Calder has  been  racing Fridays through  Sundays, with  eight races per day and average daily purses of about $110,000.


Of  the remaining $7.5 million, it is likely  that some money would be put into purses at Gulfstream  as well  as into the 40 race days at Calder.


The catalyst for head-to-head racing year-round was Gulfstream’s decision  to keep its winter  racing and add weekends from April through November.  Calder declined to  give up any of its traditional  weekend dates.


One result has been  a huge Gulfstream lead in handle--on-track and other sources such as simulcasts and on-line betting.


Over the May 9-11 weekend, Gulfstream had 25 races and Calder had 24 races over the three days.  Gulfstream’s  average daily all-sources  handle of $4.0 million  was 5.3 times greater than  Calder’s  $753,000 average, according  to Equibase Co. charts.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How our Strategy Led to a Winning Derby Exacta Wager

by Jim Freer

Inside Florida Horse Racing Hits Derby Exacta

Sunday, May 4  - Anyone who followed  Inside Florida Horse Racing’s advice posted yesterday hit the pricey exacta wager in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby

The combination of California Chrome and second-place finisher Commanding Curve paid $340 on a $2 bet and  $170 on a $1 bet.

That was part of our $1 exacta box  with five horses, for a $20 bet.  The horses were Danza, California Chrome, Dance With Fate, Commanding Curve and Ride on Curlin.

That was our main selection, among three $1 exactas - our only recommended bets. The other two bets, for $12 and $10,  did not have the winning combination.

Our total recommended outlay of $42 produced a payoff of $170 - a four-fold return on investment.

California Chrome was the 5-2 favorite in  the 19-horse field.  Commanding Curve was sent off at 37-1, the third highest odds  in the race.

California Chrome and Dance With Fate were our two key horses. Commanding  Curve was among several horses that we thought would be passing tired rivals in the stretch.

Commanding Curve proved us correct.   He rallied from 18th after a half mile and finished within 1 ¾ lengths of California Chrome.

The first four finishers were: California Chrome,  Commanding Curve,  Danza and Wicked Strong.

Our  prediction  was: Dance With Fate, California Chrome, Ride on Curlin and Commanding  Curve.  They finished sixth, first, seventh  and second respectively.

 Danza and Wicked Strong were the top finishers among the nine Kentucky Derby horses that ran at Gulfstream Park this season.

On Monday, we will review the performance of Florida  horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby and take an early look at the Preakness Stakes that will be run May 17th at Pimlico in Baltimore.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Our Kentucky Derby Predictions

by Jim Freer                 3 May 2014
Dance With Fate the Pick to Win Derby

Among the myriad of ways to handicap today’s Kentucky Derby, it  all comes back to “meltdown.”

As many as six horses can be expected to go out fast and battle for the lead through a scorching half mile and first mile.

That always sets a 1 ¼ mile race up for a win by a deep closer or  by a stalker whose jockey is savvy enough to keep his pack animal from joining the first flight.

It  also is a good  set-up for plodders and  for one-run longshots who will pass tired horses coming  down  the  long Churchill Downs stretch and finish in  the superfecta.

Last year plodder Golden Soul, at 34-1, finished second to the favorite Orb

With that strategy as a starting point, the closer Dance With Fate is our pick  to  win the Derby.

Dance With  Fate is coming  off a  stirring come-from-behind win in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12.

The knock on Dance With Fate is that he has done his best racing on synthetic tracks, like  at  Keeneland.

However, he also finished second in the Frontrunner (Grade 1)  at 1 1/16 miles  on dirt at Santa Anita  last  Sept. 28.

He  has  always trained well on dirt, and  seems comfortable training at Churchill Downs.

California Chrome, the favorite, is our  pick  to  finish second and is the other key horse  in our exacta boxes.

Our other horses are a mixture of stalkers, closers and plodders.

Our only  speed horse  is Wildcat Red,  the colt with a  sprinter’s  pedigree who was the star of this  year’s  Gulfstream Park meet.

We  have  covered all of Wildcat Red 's races and have come  to regard him as  a  horse who will not give up coming down the stretch.

Here are the  horses we  recommend for consideration in exacta bets:
4 -- Danza
5 -- California Chrome
8 -- General a  Rod
10-- Wildcat Red
12 --  Dance  With  Fate
14 -- Medal  Count
16 -- Intense Holiday
17--  Commanding Curve
18 -- Candy Boy
19 -- Ride on Curlin
20 -- Wicked Strong  :
Suggested bets:

* $1 exacta box -- 5 horses, $20

5  12  17  19

* $1 exacta box -- 4 horses, $12

5 12  16  20

*  $1 exacta part wheel  -- $14

Win  --   5    12

Place --   5  8  10  12 14  16  18  20

Predicted order of  finish:

1. Dance  With Fate

2. California Chrome

3. Ride on Curlin

4. Commanding Curve

5. Wildcat Red

Much luck wished to our readers at Inside Florida Horse Racing