Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wolfson-Millers Have Three of Five in GP Feature

By HorseracingFLA Staff
Saturday, May 23 --Today’s $60,000 Alachua Handicap at Gulfstream Park is shaping up as another race in the Miller Racing-Marty Wolfson show.

It is 1 1/16 miles on dirt for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward and is the eighth of ten races with scheduled post of  4:30 p.m.

Two of the Alachua’s seven entrants, B L’s Wagon and Nice Number, were scratched by their trainers  this morning.

Three of the remaining  five will be sent  out by the formidable team of  trainer  Wolfson and owners Rob and Myron Miller,

They are Quiet Hour, Phaniebdancing and Onna Bugeisha.

Sweet Basil, trained by Ralph Nicks, and Imposing Grace, trained by Lars Becdelamotte, also are in the race.

Imposing Grace is the only horse in the field with a stakes victory this year. On April xx she rallied from seventh and last place to catch Flutterby (not in  today’s race) by a neck.  Onna Geisha finished  third,  a  length behind Imposing Grace, after racing  in second most of the way.

Onna Geisha has the outside post today  and could be the controlling speed.  Imposing Grace is to her immediate inside.

Manoel Cruz retains the mount on imposing Grace.

Edgard Zayas, who rode Onna  Geisha in the Sand Dollar, is sidelined with a knee injury.  His replacement is Tyler Gaffalione,  the leader in wins for Gulfstream’s spring/summer meet.

Since late last year Best Behavior, Swinger’s Party and My Pal  Chrissie are among horses that have won distaff stakes at  Gulfstream for the Millers and Wolfson.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

GP: Rainbow 6 Not Hit; Ledokol Wins Feature

GP: Rainbow 6 Not Hit; Ledokol Wins Feature

My HorsracingFLA Staff
Thursday, May 21 -- The Rainbow 6 Jackpot was not hit at Gulfstream today,  thanks to Lovers Quay  beating  Starship Zorro by a neck in the eighth and final  race.

Thus there will be a carryover of $149,659.20 on Friday with a mandatory  payoff, even  if  there are  multiple winners.  Precedent indicates that more than $350,000 could be bet on the Rainbow 6  on  Friday.

If Starship Zorro had won, there would have been  one winning ticket holder who would have taken  down  the full payoff on today’s pool of  $89,700 plus the carryover of  $130,294.

There were no tickets with  six winners. Each  ticket with  five of  six paid

In Thursday’s feature Ledokol led at every  call and beat the 9-5 favorite Monty Haul by 8 ¾ lengths in a seven-furlong allowance/optional claimer.

Ledokol, at  10-1, won in  a fast 1:22.61 on a track listed as fast. Pedro Cotto Jr. rode for trainer Marcial Navarro.

Thursday  May 21
The seventh and feature race will  go  off at  Gulfstream  around 4:00 p.m.,
and it could be  a special  one for Black Diamond Cat.

The 8-year-old gelding comes into the race with $498,449 in career earnings. The purse is $42,000, and a finish of  fourth or higher would make  him a half-millionaire.  The seven  furlong distance  could suit late-running  sprinter Black Diamond Cat. Juan  Leyva will ride for Bluestone Thoroughbreds and trainer Larry Bates.

With  14 minutes to post, the four lowest prices are Gryvon (2-1), Monyty Haul (5-2), Louies Flower (9-2) and Black Diamond Cat (6-1).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Preakness: Tale of Verve Saves Exacta for Us

By Jim  Freer
Monday, May 18 -- If you made  our suggested Preakness bets, you were cheering loudly and feeling saved when Tale of Verve weaved his way through the slop and beat Divining Rod by a length for second place.

Tale of Verve, at 28-1, finished seven lengths behind the 4-5 favorite American Pharoah. The $1 exacta  paid $62.20. That was part of our suggested saver exacta part wheel.

We also had a $3 show bet on Divining Rod that paid $7.80.  Otherwise, we had no payouts.

Our $50 in hedge-style Preakness bets resulted in a $70 payoff--a 40 percent return on investment.

That cut into the loss thus far on our Triple Crown  bets.

We had $132 in suggested bets and a return of  $75.30 on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
One of our winners was a saver exacta part  wheel of     American Pharoah over Firing Line that paid $36.30.

Our totals through  the Preakness are $182 in bets and  $145.30 in payoffs.  That is a 20 percent loss on investment.

We'll try for a profit in  the Belmont Stakes on June 6 when American  Pharoah  attempts to  become the  first Triple Crown  winner  since Affirmed  in  1978.

He  could face as many as ten challengers. Our  early view is that  Materiality will  be the top threat.
Materiality won the Florida  Derby at Gulfstream Park  on March  28 and finished a late-running  sixth in the Kentucky Derby on May  2 after  a very troubled trip.   Trainer Todd Pletcher did not run him in the Preakness

Preakness Recap
We predicted that Firing  Line would win and would be followed by American Pharoah. Divining Rod and Dortmund.

Our starting  point bet was a $1 exacta box of Firing  Line, American  Pharoah and  Divining Rod.

Our saver exacta  had  American  Pharoah and  Firing  Line on  top. Underneath, we had  those two horses with  Dortmund, Mr, Z, Tale of  Verve  and  Danzig Moon.   That is ten  $1  bets  for a total of $10.

In the Kentucky Derby. Firing Line finished second by a length  to American Pharoah after their thrilling stretch duel.  Dortmund was in that battle until deep  stretch and came in third, a length behind Firing Line

Firing Line had the outside post in  the eight-horse Preakness, and we  thought that could be an advantage considering his tactical speed.

Factoring in  the forecast of a possible downpour  that indeed arrived  shortly before Preakness  post  time, we  found  more to like about American  Pharoah and Firing  Line.

American Pharoah was the only horse with a win  on an off track-- in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn  Park on  March 15.

Firing Line had never raced on  a  wet track. But  he  is a  grandson of Lion Heart whose progeny often take well  to off tracks,   Lion Heart is  widely  known  for  finishing second to  Smarty  Jones in quagmire-like  conditions at  the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

But Firing Line stumbled leaving the Preakness  starting gate, and one of  his front heels  clipped  a back  heel.  

That incident,  called "grabbing  a quarter,"  often hinders a horse from reaching  best stride in a race.

Firing  Line never advanced beyond  fifth place  Jockey Gary  Stevens eased him in the stretch and  he came in seventh,  48 lengths  behind American Pharoah.

Early indications are that  Firing Line will not  run in the Belmont.

Tale  of  Verve caught our pre-race attention for two  big  reasons

*He had a win at  the  1 3/16  mile Preakness distance.  That was in  a maiden race at Keenland on April 23,  The  time of 2:00.23  was not stakes caliber.  But he won by two widening lengths and appeared ready to keep running.

For the Preakness, it was likely that That Tale of  Verve would pass some tiring horses with  a shot at  hitting the board  if  one or more of the favorites faltered or had a  troubled  trip.   Dortmund appeared  to  tire in the  stretch, and Firing Line lost all  chance at  the start.

*Tale of Verve's trainer Dallas Stewart has a record  of finishing second with horses at 25-1 or higher n Triple Crown races. Those runners-up were Macho  Again (2008  Preakness),  Golden  Soul  (2013  Kentucky Derby) and Commanding  Curve  (2014 Kentucky Derby).

In  last year's Derby  the $1 exacta of  5-2 favorite
California Chrome and 37-1 late-running Commanding  Curve  paid  $170.00.  We had it in our saver  exacta part wheel.

The generally soft-spoken  Stewart  is  talking
very optimistically about Tale  of  Verve's chances in  the Belmont.

But note that Derby star Commanding Curve was sent off  at 9-1 in  last  year's  Belmont. He failed to challenge and  finished  ninth.

California Chrome won  the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in  dominant fashion.   But  he came in  fourth in the Belmont behind Tonalist,    Commissioner and Medal Count.

 American Pharoah will be  the tenth horse since  1997 to  go  into the Belmont with a shot at the Triple Crown   Eight of  those predecessors failed to win the Belmont.  I'll Have  Another was scratched the day  before the 2012 Belmont.

All of  this  is a reminder that in  horse racing, as  in life itself,  it  is important to keep  n mind that what  happened  last  time  will not  necessarily happen  again next time.

The Belmont is next  time  and is less  than three weeks away.

It is  not too soon to  start  handicapping, and  we welcome you to send your ideas to us at


Friday, May 15, 2015

Gulfstream to Hold ‘Preakness Viewing Party' Saturday

Gulfstream to Hold ‘Preakness Viewing Party’

By HorseracingFLA Staff
Friday, May 15 – Gulfstream Park will have ten races on Saturday and also will simulcast and take bets on the Preakness as part of what it calls its “Preakness Stakes Viewing Party.”

Tampa Bay Downs will be open for simulcasting on Saturday, and will have wagering on the Preakness and all of the day’s 13 other races at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Tampa Bay also will have wagering on all of Gulfstream’s races and on the other tracks that are part of its regular simulcast schedule.

Pimlico will have 14 races with first post at 10:30 a.m. The Preakness is the 13th race with scheduled post time of 6:18 p.m.

Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah is among the eight Preakness entrants–along with Kentucky Derby second place and third place finishers Firing Line and Dortmund.

Because of the early Pimlico start, Gulfstream’s first post will be at 12:20 p.m. rather than its regular 1:00 p.m. Gulfstream will open the Silks simulcast area at 9:30 a.m. Silks is on the north side of Gulfstream’s ground floor.
Advance wagering on the Preakness will be available at Gulfstream today – starting at 11:30 a.m. when Gulfstream will simulcast the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (Grade 2) and the day’s other Pimlico races.

The Black Eyed Susan, for 3-year-old fillies, is Pimlico’s 11th race, with post time of 4:50 p.m.
It is part of the Black Eyed Susan-Preakness double bet, available at Gulfstream.
Gulfstream’s feature race on Saturday will be the $60,000 Grace Stakes at five furlongs on turf for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up. It is the ninth race with scheduled post of 5:55 p.m.
On Saturday we will have a preview of the Gracie. We also will have a preview of the Preakness and of several other Pimlico stakes with horses that ran at Gulfstream or at Tampa Bay this year.
Gulfstream Events

Ten Palms, Gulfstream’s second-floor restaurant, will offer a special Preakness buffet from noon until 4:00 p.m. Saturday for $59.00 per person. Traditional Black Eyed Susan drinks, served in collectible glasses, will also be available throughout Gulfstream for $5.
The Fountain Club, located adjacent to the walking ring, will also be open and will serve items from its regular a la carte menu. The purchase of a meal at the Fountain Club will include an official Preakness hat. Hats will also be given away free with the purchase of a seat in the grandstand or in Gulfstream’s simulcast room, Silks. They will be available beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Silks.

Gulfstream Park Advantage members will have the opportunity to win a bet on the Preakness. Ten winners will be drawn about an hour before the Preakness, and those individuals will spin a wheel to determine the amount of the bet (amounts range from $10 to $200 WPS).

One entry can be earned per person on both Friday and Saturday

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gulfstream Park Carryovers on Wednesday, May 13th

By HorseracingFLA Staff

Tuesday, May 12 — When Gulfstream Park resumes racing tomorrow, it will have a carryover of $23,090 on the Pick 5 and a growing carryover of $58,229 on the Rainbow 6 (Pick 6).
The card has eight races, with first post time of 1:00 p.m.

The carryover on the Pick 5 is a rarity and is a result of there being no tickets with all of the winners of the last five races on Sunday. None of the favorites won any of those races.
Gulfstream always has a consolation payoff, usually $20 or less, on tickets with four-out-of-five winners on the 50-cent minimum Pick 5. On Sunday, it paid a relatively large $178.95 on each of 73 consolation tickets with four winners.

The day’s pool was $36,255 of which $23,090 will be carried over to Wednesday.
The Rainbow 6 is a 20-cent only bet. As with other multiple race wagers, a bettor can have an unlimited number of horses per race.

Gulfstream pays out the full Rainbow 6 pool (day’s bets plus carryover) only on days when there is only one ticket with all six winners.
On other days, Gulfstream pays out 70 percent of he day’s pool to multiple holders of tickets with six winners and puts 30 percent into the carryover.

On Sunday, each of the multiple winners received $6,146.06. It added $9,587 to the carryover–making it $58,229.

The Wednesday Rainbow 6 is on the third through eighth race.
It looms as a handicapping challenge. There are three claiming races, one optional claimer and two maiden special weight races.

The Pick 5 is on races four through eight.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Gulfstream Notebook -- May 8

By HorseracingFLA Staff
Friday, May 8 ---Awesomendensome,  a 9-1 shot,  fired out to the lead and held off I Will Be Free for a half-length victory in today’s feature race at Gulfstream Park.

The 3-2 favorite Upbeat Mood rallied to finish third, a neck behind I Will Be Free, in the five furlong turf race--a $16,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. None of the six starters were in for a tag.

John Cruz rode Awesomendensome, who won  in  55.89 seconds on a course listed as firm.

Awesomendensome paid $21.80 to win.

Luis Ramirez trains Awesomendensome for her breeder and owner Chester Bishop.

On Saturday Gulfstream will have ten races with first post of 1:00 p.m.

The featured ninth race is a $62,500 optional claimer at 7 ½ furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds and up, with a $42,000 purse.

Stakes veterans Best Plan Yet, Adios Nardo and Breitling Flyer head an  eight-horse field.  Scheduled post time is 5:00 p.m.

Brei-Gold Win  Juvenile Openers
The  team  of owner Fred Brei and trainer Stan Gold, known  locally and nationally for their success with 2-year-olds, this week won 2015’s first two Gulfstream Park races for juveniles.

On Wednesday their filly Silent Prayer won Gulfstream’s first 2-year-old race of the year.

They returned to the winner’s circle Thursday with their colt Fellowship.

Both races were 4 ½ furlongs on dirt.  Jesus Rios rode both winners.

Silent Prayer took the early lead and went on to win by 1 ½-lengths over the late-running Nasha Nadezhda.

Silent Prayer won in 53.43 seconds on a track listed as good  At 2-1, she was second betting choice in the nine-horse field.

Fellowship, the 7-10 favorite, beat Golden Pirate by four lengths. He won in 52.11 seconds on a fast track.

Silent Prayer and Fellowship are homebtreds of Jacks or Better Farms in Ocala, which is owned by Fred Brei and his wife Jane.

Gold has a public stable, but in recent years hss trained exclusively for Jacks or Better.

Gold and Brei have combined for a record 16 wins in  the Florida Sire Stakes Series for 2-year-olds  The series  moved to Gulfstream last year.  It was previously held at Calder as the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Silent Prayer and Fellowship are eligible for the $2 million Florida Sire Stakes, the focal point of the 2-year-old program at Gulfstream.

The Florida Sire Stakes, a series of six stakes for 2-year-olds sired by nominated Florida stallions, was held at Gulfstream for the first time last year with purses totaling $1.4 million.

Silent Prayer is a half-sibling to Sing Praises, a Jacks  or Better homebred who captured two of the three legs of last year’s open division of the Florida Sire Stakes.

The Florida Sire Stakes will kick off Saturday, Aug. 8 with the six-furlong $200,000 Dr. Fager (open) and $200,000 Desert Vixen (fillies). The $300,000 Affirmed (open) and $300,000 Susan's Girl (fillies) will be contested at seven furlongs Saturday, Sept. 5 while the 1 1/16-mile finals - the $500,000 In Reality (open) and $500,000 My Dear Girl - will be run Saturday, Oct. 3.

"It's great to see the 2-year-old season has started at Gulfstream Park," said Gulfstream's General Manager and The Stronach Group's Vice President of Racing P.J. Campo.

"This is an exciting time of year for breeders, owners, trainers and fans,” he said.  “It's particularly exciting this year because we believe this is the strongest juvenile program in Florida for many years.”

Celebrity Star Wins Stakes
Celebrity Star scored the first stakes victory of her 10-race career in Sunday’s $60,000 Sunrise Handicap, springing the upset in the 6 ½ furlong event at odds of 17-1.

Celebrity Star, trained by David Kassen, won by 3 ½-lengths over Best Behavior.  Joann’s Wildcat came in third and the 4-5 favorite Little Alexis finished fourth in the seven-horse field.

Tyler Gallafione rode Celebrity Star who won in  1:16.12.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Gulfstream Posts Strong Handle and Field Size Numbers

By Jim Freer
At Gulfstream Park this winter the average field size grew 13.1 percent from 8.4 to  9.5 horses while average daily all-sources handle slipped 1.7 percent but was still an  impressive $8.1 million.

Those numbers are for the race meet from Dec. 6, 2014 to April 5, 2015 and are a combination of a Gulfstream news  release May 4 and Blood-Horse’s follow-up  review of Equibase Co. data.

Gulfstream field sizes jumped year-to-year largely because 2013-14 was the one season of head-to-head weekend racing between Gulfstream and  its South Florida neighbor Calder Casino & Race Course. Gulfstream had the South Florida market to itself  in 2014-15.

The recent Gulfstream meet’s extraordinarily large fields provided bettors with mouth-watering payoff opportunities.  Handle remained high even though a contract dispute took away some important  simulcast outlets in northeastern states.

Gulfstream said total all-sources handle for its championship meet (winter meet) grew from $691 million in 2013-14 to a record $704 million in 2014-15, for a 1.9 percent increase.

The per-day averages for the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track were $8.3 million for 83 race days in 2013-14 and $8.1 million for 87 race days in 2014-15.  Gulfstream did not  provide breakdowns of live and off-site handle, and those numbers are not readily available.

Blood-Horse research indicates Gulfstream’s  average field size was highest among major U.S. tracks during the past winter and that its average daily all-sources handle was second to Santa Anita Park.

Gulfstream’s  record for daily average all-sources handle was $8.6  million in 2012-13.

It is highly possible that Gulfstream would have broken that record in each of its last two winter meets if not for the Calder competition and the lack of handle from tracks in  the MidAtlantic Cooperative.

* From July 1,  2013 through June 30, 2014 Calder in Miami Gardens, Fla., and Gulfstream raced head-to-head Fridays through Sundays. Calder averaged about $1 million per day in handle during several of those months.  Competition from Calder had an undetermined impact on field sizes at Gulfstream.

Last July 1, the two tracks signed  an agreement under which Gulfstream  is leasing Calder’s racing operations through 2020--thus ending head-to-head racing.

* From the start of its 2014-15 meet through late March Gulfstream’s simulcast  signal was among those not available to the 23 tracks and their related wagering outlets that are members of the MidAtlantic Cooperative, a group that negotiates simulcast host fees.

Gulfstream is among  about a dozen signals distributed by Monarch Content Management, a subsidiary of The Stronach Group which is Gulfstream’s parent company.

Amid a dispute over pricing, Monarch was not sending the signals of Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs,  Laurel Park, and several other tracks to members of the cooperative.  Parx Racing, Penn National Race Course and Delaware Park  are among members of the cooperative.

Gulfstream is not commenting on that now-resolved dispute. But one point of reference is that Tampa Bay officials said in  February that it was costing them about $350,000 a day in handle.  That indicates that the impact on Gulfstream may have been $700,000 a day or more.

Gulfstream said its average field size grew from 7.5 horses in April 2014 to 8.4 in April 2015.  Average daily all-sources handle grew from $3.9 million for 12 days in April 2014 to $4.6 million for 22 days in April 2015. Gulfstream began its six-month summer meet April 8.

 “Gulfstream’s Championship Meet was a huge success,” P.J. Campo, general manager of Gulfstream, said in the May 4 news release.

“Not only was total handle up but the Florida Derby continues to grow into one of Florida’s biggest weekend events,” added Campo,  who also is  vice president of racing for Stronach Group. “Of course, none of this would be possible without our great fans and our partnership with the horsemen.”

Gulfstream established new standards for Florida Derby day and the March 28-29 weekend. Total handle on Florida Derby Day was $27.2 million, up from $26.8 million the previous year, while the total two-day weekend handle of $37.2 million exceeded the previous record set last year of $36 million.

A new standard was also established in the new building, which opened in 2006, with a record on-track Florida Derby Day handle of $3.3 million.

Campo said he’s pleased with the increases in total handle and field size during the first month of the six-month summer  meet and is looking forward to what he expects will be Gulfstream’s most successful summer meet with a $4.7 million stakes schedule.

“There’s so much more happening at Gulfstream this summer than ever before,” Campo said. “We are looking forward to reestablishing the $1 million Summit of Speed with two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win & You’re In races in the Princess Rooney (gr.  I) and Smile Sprint  (gr. II).

The Summit of Speed with sprint stakes was one of Calder’s major days,  but was not held in 2014.

Campo  added: “We’ve also established a $900,000 Sire Stakes series for 3-year-olds to go along with the $2 million Sire Stakes for juveniles. This is exactly why we signed our agreement with Churchill Downs (Calder’s parent) last year to run year-round and operate Gulfstream Park West.  We want to build Florida racing.”

Under the lease Gulfstream is holding 40 days of racing each year at Calder, and is using the name Gulfstream Park West for those race meets.  This year’s  meet will be from Oct.  7 to Nov. 29.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Our Derby Picks -- American Pharoah, Mubtaahij

By HorseracingFLA staff
Saturday, May 2  -- The scratch of International Star required us to re-think our suggested Kentucky Derby bets.

So with three hours until post, here goes:

For starters, our $60 in Kentucky Oaks bets were losers. We built our bets around exactas and trifectas with Stellar Wind and Birdatthewire. They finished fourth and fifth.

The good news is that we included Lovely Maria in the first leg of the Oaks-Derby double. We bet $8 and are alive with these four horses with these payoffs on  $1 bets:

*Mubtaahij $110
*Dortmund $ 40
*Frosted $  86
*American Pharoah $  28

Our suggested Derby bets have these horses
2 -- Carpe Diem
3 -- Materiality
5 -- Danzig Moon
6 -- Mubtaahij
10 - Firing Line
8 -- Dortmund
15 -- Frosted
18 -- American Pharoah

$3 win 18 $3
$2 wps  6 $6
$2 show 2  5 16 $6

$1 exacta box   2  6  8  15  18     $20
$1 exacta partwheel  $10
First      6  18
Second    3  5  6  8 10 18

50 cent tri part wheel $15
First --    6  8  18
Second --  6  8 18
Third  --  2  3 5  6

Florida Tracks: Live Racing and Kentucky Derby

By HorseracingFLA staff
Saturday, May 2 -- Both Florida Thoroughbred tracks will have live racing today and also simulcast the Kentucky Derby and all of the day’s other races at Churchill Downs.

Tampa Bay Downs will have ten races with first post time of 12:40 p.m.  None of those races are stakes.

Gulfstream Park will have ten races, with first post time of 1:00 p.m. It will have two stakes races with $75,000 purses.

The English Channel is  1 1/16  miles on turf  for 3-year-year-old males.

Moon Over Cuzco is the likely heavy favorite. He has won two non-stakes on turf at that distance at Gulfstream, both in fast  times.  Tyler Gaffalione will ride for trainer Chad Brown.

The English Channel is  the seventh race, with scheduled post of 4:00 p.m.

The Honey Ryder is one mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

It will  be the Gulfstream debut and second U.S. start for the highly regarded Sivoliere.

She won three of her five starts in France.  She last raced on Oct. 31, finishing  fifth  among  13 horses in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1) at Santa Anita.

Her sire is Sea the Stars, the European champion of 2008 and 2009 who is widely regarded as one of the world’s best horses of the last several decades.

Jose Caraballo will ride Sivoliere for Brown.

The Honey Ryder is the eighth race with scheduled post time of 4:30 p.m.

Scheduled post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:34 p.m. eastern.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Oaks: Birdatthewire is Our Pick

By Jim Freer
Friday May 1 --Four horses that have raced in Florida this year are  among the 14 entrants in  a strong field for today’s $1 million Kentucky  Oaks (Grade 1).

Birdatthewire, winner of this year’s 1 1/16 mile Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2) on March 28, heads the list of 3-year-old fillies that ran either at Gulfstream Park or at Tampa Bay Downs this winter.  At Gulfstream, she also won the seven-furlong Forward Gal (Grade 2) on Jan.  24 and finished second by a neck to Ekati’s Phaeton in the one mile Davona Dale  (Grade 2) on Feb. 21.

Birdatthewire has a  late-running  style, similar to  her sire Summer Bird who won the 2009 Belmont Stakes.

Ekati’s Phaeton will be among the favorites today in  the seven-furlong Eight Belles (Grade 2).  It is the tenth at Churchill Downs, one race before the Oaks.

Include Betty, Eskenformoney and Puca also raced in Florida.  All will be 10-1 or higher in the Oaks and all (especially Include Betty) could have decent shots to finish at least third or fourth depending on how the race develops.

All 14 Oaks entrants are Kentucky breds.

The Oaks, at 1 1/8 miles, is today’s 11th race at Churchill Downs in  Louisville, Ky., and will be televised on  the NBC Sports cable channel.

It is just over three hours to scheduled post of 5:49 p.m. Eastern

Handicapping the Oaks
Horses that take the early lead have generally not fared well at Churchill Downs yesterday or today.

That’s a main reason we are picking Birdatthewire to win, followed  by Stellar Wind the 7-2 favorite who  also races from off the pace.
Stellar Wind won two stakes at Santa Anita including the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade 1).

Birdatthewire is fifth, at 6-1 in the morning line set  by Mike Battaglia.

Other favorites are Condo Commando (4-1), winner of three stakes this year at Aqueduct, and I’m a Chatterbox (4-1), winner of three stakes at Fair Grounds. Lovely Maria, at 5-1, won the  Ashland at Keeneland.

All  three have won most of their races gate to wire. A maximum of one horse can do that in today’s Oaks.

Background on the Florida horses, with morning line odds:
* Birdatthewire (6-1) - trained by Dale Romans and will  be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr,  who had the mount in  the Gulfstream Park Oaks and the Forward Gal; broke her maiden last Nov.  29 at Churchill,  at 1 1/16 miles in an 11-horse field.

* Include Betty (20-1) -- leaped into prominence April 4 when she rallied from 11th  and last place after a half mile to win the 1 1/16 mile Fantasy  (Grade 3) at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs,  Ark.; She won by a neck over Oceanwave, who also is in the Oaks; Tom  Proctor trains Include Betty, who  will be ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr.  Homeister rode Include Betty in the Fantasy and to a win in the Seacoast at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 31.

* Eskenformoney  -- trained by Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by regular jockey Javier Csastellano; finished second, 1 ¼ lengths behind Birdatthewire in the Gulfstream  Park Oaks and third by a  neck to that rival in the Davona Dale; so, if  you  love Birdatthewire today, you might  like Eskenformoney’s chances to hit the  board; but she races  near the front and  is stretching out to  1 1/8 miles in a race with a lot of speed.

* Puca -- came in fourth  by 6 1/4 lengths in  the Davona Dale,   and second by 2 ½ lengths to Condo Commando in the 1 1/8 mile Gazelle (Grade 2) at Aqueduct on April  4; trained by Bill Mott and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.

Kentucky Oaks --Predicted order of finish:
1  - Birdatthewire
2  - Stellar Wind
3 - Lovely Maria
4  - Include Betty
5 - Condo Commando

We have a suggested $72 in bets, including $12 in Oaks-Derby doubles.

We are using a hedge strategy--expecting a speed duel that could compromise the chances of several low-odds horses while helping several double-digit horses that also are closers--most notably  Include Betty.

Horses we are using;
3 -- Include Betty
5 -- Condo Commando
7 -- Lovely Maria
10 -- Oceanwave
12 -- Stellar Wind
13 -- Birdatthewire

Suggested bets
$1  exacta  box      5  7  12    13    $12  bet
$1  exacta  box      3   7  12    13  $12  bet
$3  win and show    12  and 13       $12  bet'
$2  show                     3  and 10        $4    bet
50  cent tri box           3  7  12  13    $12 bet
50 cent tri part wheel                       $8   bet
first                            12    13
second                        5  12  13
third                           3    5   7   10    12      13

$1  Oaks/Derby double        $12  bet
Oaks      3 Include Betty
            12  Stellar Wind
            13 Birdatthewire
              6  Mubtaahij
              8  Dortmund
             15 Frosted
             18  American