05/29/2009 4:20PM

Weekend opinions


Let's take a look at a few stakes races scheduled for this weekend:

Dogwood Stakes (Churchill - Race 8)
LUSTER is very logical based on her recent win over sloppy going at Churchill Downs, but both of her career victories have come in gate-to-wire fashion, and she may face more pace pressure with AFFIRMED TRUTH breaking inside of her.  LADY'S LAUGHTER was caught up in a hot pace duel in the Eight Belles Stakes, and put away her early rival only to understandably succumb in the late stages.  She adds blinkers, is proven from stalking range, and may revert to the rate-and-finish tactics that resulted in her 1 1/2 length defeat of Luster at Keeneland.  She won her maiden over this track and trip, and will make the third start of the form cycle on Saturday.
Selections:  Lady's Laughter, Luster, Perfect for You

Aristides Stakes (Churchill - Race 10)
Although SEMAPHORE MAN appears to be an Oaklawn horse for course (8-14 in Hot Springs, 1-13 elsewhere), he enters this Churchill Downs stake in fine form, and may be the speed of the speed.  CASSOULET and KNIGHTS CROSS are quick from the gate, but Semaphore Man has 43 and change speed if necessary, and I'm guessing that he'll grab the top entering the turn.  He was very game in the Count Fleet Sprint last time after enduring race-long pressure. 
Selections:  Semaphore Man, Early Return

Golden Gate Fields Turf (Golden Gate - Race 8)
SHEM has shown a little speed in the past, but I'm guessing that the riders in this race are skeptical about YACHT SPOTTER's chances at this distance, and may let that speed horse go in the hope that he'll burn himself out.  That may turn out to be a mistake.  Although Yacht Spotter blew a clear lead at a mile last time, and now must navigate three more furlongs, he is dangerous when allowed an easy advantage, and I'll take a shot with him attempting a theft.  SPRING HOUSE and OBRIGADO may be getting a little long in the tooth, but both are solid on their very best.
Selections:  Yacht Spotter, Porfido

Gamely (Hollywood - Race 9)
A tremendous betting race highlighted by two horses that ran well despite trouble in the Santa Barbara Handicap across town.  MAGICAL FANTASY won that war despite being checked and shuffled back on the far turn, but I'll go with BLACK MAMBA, who was forced to go six wide on that bend, and into the stretch.  Black Mamba just missed by a dirty nose, and galloped out powerfully after the race.  The pace should be solid with TUSCAN EVENING likely to set the tempo, and Black Mamba won the Grade 1 Mabee in her only previous try at this distance. 
Selections:  Black Mamba, Lemon Chiffon, Tuscan Evening, Magical Fantasy

Honeymoon Handicap (Hollywood - Race 7, Sunday)
Several are coming out of the Grade 3 Senorita four weeks ago.  CANDILEJAS finished best of the six exiting that race, but she was 37-1 that day, and will be much lower in the wagering this time around.  I'll give PRIDE DANCER another chance for Bobby Frankel.  She raced in minor traffic from the far turn to midstretch that day, and finished with some interest for third.  This is her third start of the year, and she may be a bit more tactical in this paceless race.  Note that she went gate-to-wire against boys last year in France.
Selections:  Pride Dancer, Acting Lady, Candilejas

More importanly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.


Hey Dan!  Haven't posted in a while ,but I was wondering, with all this talk of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, if you could perhaps get the pp's for these two unbelievable mares please?  Thanks!

Here they are.  You make the call!

Download Rachel vs. Zenyatta


Speaking of wasted talent: has Zarkava produced a foal yet?
John C

Zarkava is in foal to Dalakhani.  Her first foal will be born in 2010.


Since the Will Rogers Downs meeting ended Saturday, I'm not sure where Miranda Diane is going next nor whether Super Shane and Matz will remain her trainer/jockey. Can you please try to find out?

The next step for Miranda Diane may be the Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows on June 21.


who calls the races at lonestar park?
i caught the featured race last monday and ended up watching replays of the earlier races because i enjoyed the calls so much. thanks.

John Lies (pronounced Leeze) calls the races at Lone Star. Sometimes he works at TVG on Mondays and Tuesdays when lone star is not running. He also does the intertrack for Del Mar. And he started out as the person who said the prices on the Socal results line. (and we miss him, the new guy stinks. Lots of unnecessary pausing.)


Mr. Illman, I'm convinced that 1997 was the best year of horseracing in the last 20 years.  You had Formal Gold, Skip Away, and Will Way burning up tracks in the East, while Gentlemen and co. blazed the way in the West.  Hidden Lake was an awesome filly, Cheif Bearheart was running big on grass, Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, Free House and Touch Gold made the Triple Crown awesome, and Favorite Trick was an undefeated 2 year old.  Can we please get a list of the top Beyers from that year?  It should be impressive.  Also, what is the best year of the last 20 in your opinion?
Captain Bodgit

Here are the top Beyer Speed Figures from various categories 1997:


Orville N Wilbur's - 108
Orville N Wilbur's - 108
Coronado's Quest - 105
Rodeo - 103
Grand Slam - 102
Real Quiet - 102


Kelly Kip - 120
Behrens - 118
Captain Bodgit - 118
Free House - 118
Silver Charm - 118


Elusive Quality - 122
Kelly Kip - 120
Distorted Humor - 118
Unbridled's Song - 118
Wild Escapade - 118


Formal Gold - 126
Gentlemen - 126
Will's Way - 126
Formal Gold - 125
Skip Away - 125


Atticus - 115
Spinning World - 114
River Flyer - 113
Chief Bearheart - 112
Lucky Coin - 112
Lucky coin - 112

I'm very fond of the 1988-1989 years.  In 1988, Easy Goer was a strong juvenile champion, and Risen Star, Winning Colors, and Forty Niner put on a good show in the Triple Crown Events.  Alysheba and Personal Ensign were champion older runners, and Miesque again shipped in to win the Breeders' Cup Mile.  Add in solid performers like Open Mind, Gulch, Seeking the Gold, Steinlen, and Sunshine Forever and you have a banner year.
The following season was highlighted by the Easy Goer - Sunday Silence rivalry, Go for Wand's emergence as champion juvenile filly, Bayakoa's dominance of the distaff division, and Safely Kept's powerful sprint campaign.  Blushing John was a good handicap horse that year, and Gorgeous and Open Mind did well for the ladies.  Steinlen, Prized, and Dancing Spree were also worthy Breeders' Cup winners that year.


Speaking of the Tampa jockey scandal, nothing has come of it to the best of my knowledge... by the way, wasn't Douglas one of the riders named in that fiasco?

Douglas was ruled off of Calder Race Course in December of 2005.  He rode one race at Hawthorne on New Year's Day 2006, and was reinstated a couple of weeks later.






Have a great weekend.