How to Bet the Louisville Handicap with Soglio

A competitive field of seven will travel 1 1/2 miles on the Churchill Downs turf in Saturday’s feature, the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (G3). Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s SOGLIO (#3) (5-2) was assigned favoritism for the grassy marathon in advance of his second career assignment on this lawn.

Trained by Mike Maker, the son of Scat Daddy left quite the impression in his previous run at Churchill Downs when rolling home to a 10-length triumph against allowance foes a year ago to the day. The talented turf stayer has mixed form from a trio of 2019 endeavors, but I think he will be formidable in this spot.

Soglio was a big second in his seasonal bow behind Zulu Alpha in the W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park over yielding ground. An even sixth followed in the Pan American Handicap (G2), which preceded his subpar showing in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland most recently.

The five-year-old gelding has good tactical speed and his prior success on the course makes him very attractive despite his latest showing. The dark bay loves a lawn with some give in it and he moves forward if any precipitation falls on the ground on Saturday.

The Graham Motion-trained SHAHROZE (#4) (7-2) finished second best in a deep allowance event at Keeneland in his 2019 bow. The lightly raced son of Holy Roman Emperor has been first or second in seven of his nine lifetime tries, with his two-length win in the Singspiel Stakes (G2) at Woodbine last June being the highlight.

The Irish-bred gelding figures to show improvement second time off the lengthy layoff and his versatile running style makes him a top-three must use against this cast. Chris Landeros will guide the logical contender for the initial time.

VETTORI KIN (#6) (7-2) was victorious in this race last campaign for conditioner Ken McPeek. The six-year-old bay has failed to hit the board in five subsequent tries, but his closing fifth in the Elkhorn was a positive sign that he is trending forward in 2019.

The Brazilian import has improved his BRIS Speed figure in each outing this season and he could be the one to fear from off the pace. James Graham inherits the mount.

I would suggest playing exactas with Soglio over Shahroze and Vettori Kin. In addition, a trifecta keying Soglio over the aforementioned pair might be a wise ticket to punch.

Good Luck!

PHOTO: Soglio and jockey Jose Ortiz capture an allowance at Keeneland on Ocotober 19, 2018 (c) Coady Photography/Keeneland

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Tonalist babies ready to make their mark on track

Spring marks the season when two-year-olds get their careers underway on the racetrack. It is among the most exciting times of the year for me as I attempt to scope out the future stars of tomorrow. And it’s also a time to shed light on the up-and-coming stallions whose first foals will hit the track.

The highlight this week will be on new sire Tonalist, who has his first babies running this season. The son of perennially leading sire Tapit was one of the better horses we witnessed this decade, and his youngsters look to offer a lot of promise.

Tonalist earned in excess of $3.6 million in his racing days and accumulated four Grade 1 victories in his lifetime, most notably a score in the 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1). The sturdy colt concluded his career with a victory in the 2015 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct. He was trained by Christophe Clement and racked up seven wins from 16 races.

He has had a pair of debut runners already this season and seems to have two live entries on Friday in search of his first winner at stud.

At Churchill Downs, Tapalist will make his debut in Race 2, a five-furlong maiden special weight event which attracted nine colts. The Steve Asmussen trainee has worked well since early April in advance of his unveiling. He attracted a bid of $275,000 as a yearling and will be ridden by Tyler Baze for Winchell Thoroughbreds.

Pour on the Cole will make his initial start in the 3RD Race at Santa Anita Park, a 4 1/2-furlong dash on the dirt. The California-bred colt cost $50,000 at auction and is working like a horse ready to run. Trained by solid two-year-old conditioner Mike McCarthy, the March foal drew outside and will have jockey Flavien Prat aboard.

It is obviously way too early to gauge how Tonalist will perform as a stallion, but he was well received at the sales and should have every chance to pass on his class and heart to his foals.

PHOTO: Tonalist after winning the 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014 (c) Horsephotos.com/Deborah Kral

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How to Bet the Mamzelle Stakes

A baker’s dozen of sophomore fillies will travel five panels on the Churchill Downs lawn in Saturday’s $100,000 Mamzelle Stakes. Seven stakes winners are part of the field, which is led by three contestants from the barn of Wesley Ward.

IVA (#1) (12-1) – The first of the three from the Wesley Ward shedrow stopped early in the Beaumont Stakes (G3) at Keeneland last time but will appreciate the move to the turf. The Scat Daddy filly was a debut winner in her lone prior turf try, and she comes in with a bullet half-mile drill.

RAINTREE STARLET (#2) (20-1) – Dixie Belle Stakes victress has been outrun in her last pair, including a run on the lawn at Keeneland most recently. The Brian Williamson pupil has some class, however, and could add value to the gimmicks at a big price in her first turf test.

MORISSETTE (#3) (30-1) – Joe Sharp charge will add blinkers in advance of her turf debut. The dark bay filly has yet to prove capable of running with this kind and would be a surprise.

KIM K (#4) (20-1) – Barretts Debutante Stakes heroine makes her seasonal bow, which also marks her first run on the green. The $335,000 purchase is in an ambitious spot for her three-year-old debut for Peter Miller.

CHELSEA CLOISTERS (#5) (7-2) – Wesley Ward trainee has placed in five stakes races in succession, including a runner-up performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. The First Samurai filly figures to move forward and be a major player in here second time off the shelf.

SHESOMAJESTIC (#6) (20-1) – The chestnut has been first or second in each of her three races to date for Chris Hartman. The Kentucky-bred has some appeal making her first run on the weeds under Stewart Elliot.

CATHERINETHEGREAT (#7) (8-1) – Schuylerville Stakes (G3) princess was dusted in a pair of Grade 1 attempts to close out her 2018 season. The Uncaptured filly is training well, and she is a half-sister to turf stakes winner Katinka. Julien Leparoux rides the top-three contender.

CHANGE OF CONTROL (#8) (30-1) – Michelle Lovell trainee was third against starter allowance foes on the dirt most recently. The Fed Biz filly will need a huge step forward to impact the field in her turf unveiling.

ABYSSINIAN (#9) (3-1) – Morning-line choice from the Wesley Ward barn was a runaway winner in her first turf assignment, and she finished a creditable third to then unbeaten Bulletin at Keeneland last out. Fleet daughter of Cairo Prince might be the speed of the speed beneath Tyler Gaffalione.

MIDNIGHT FANTASY (#10) (8-1) – Cajun-bred is a multiple stakes vixen who adds blinkers coming off a lifetime best showing for Joe Sharp. The Midnight Lute filly is a wildcard on the sod, but she belongs on the list of major contenders.

QUEEN OF BERMUDA (#11) (6-1) – Group 3 star was a highly rated juvenile in Europe who rallied to be fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in the fall. The Graham Motion charge failed to fire in the Mizdirection Stakes at Aqueduct in her sophomore debut, but she looms a big danger from off the pace with an expected move forward.

PLAY ON (#12) (9-2) – Country Day filly is a turf stakes winner with excellent early presence for Brad Cox. The Kentucky-bred will be forwardly placed as a contender beneath Shaun Bridgmohan.

OLD AND COSTLY (#13) (50-1) – Outsider was last at 50-1 odds in her lone start to date. The chestnut filly looks misplaced in the field.

ANALYSIS

The pace in the Mamzelle should be a hearty one, with Shesomajestic, Catherinethegreat, Abyssinian and Play On all gunning for the early edge. I think Abyssinian is the swiftest and will be the one to catch inside the final furlong.

Queen of Bermuda and Chelsea Cloisters looks like the duo to benefit most if a pace duel takes place.

WAGER

50-cent Superfecta 9 with 5,11 with 2,5,6,7,10,11,12 with 2,5,6,7,10,11,12 = $30

50-cent Superfecta 9 with 2,5,6,7,10,11,12 with 5,11 with 2,5,6,7,10,11,12 = $30

50-cent Superfecta 5,11 with 9 with 2,5,6,7,10,11,12 with 2,5,6,7,10,11,12 = $30

PHOTO: Shesomajestic breaks her maiden under jockey Ty Kennedy at Keeneland on October 24, 2018 (c) Coady Photography/Keeneland

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How to Bet the 2019 Hanshin Stakes

A well-matched field of 11 will travel one mile at Arlington Park in the $100,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (G3) on Saturday.

GITA’S LAD (#1) (10-1) – Scott Becker charge rides in on a three-race win streak in search of his first stakes win. The gelded four-year-old was unplaced in a lone local run prior to this one, but he is a different animal now in lifetime form and can’t be ignored. Victor Santiago will ride the Illinois-bred.

REVVED UP (#2) (8-1) – Old class horse removes the blinkers after a trio of tries with the hood on. The Candy Ride six-year-old is a mystery on the synthetic in his second start for Mark Casse, but he warrants a long look from off the pace in his second outing of 2019.

RERIDE (#3) (8-1) – Ignacio Correas IV charge just missed in the mud at Keeneland with allowance foes in a nice prep for this event. The dual stakes-winning colt could peak third time off the shelf while forwardly placed throughout.

RICHIESINTHEHOUSE (#4) (6-1) – Synthetic specialist sports a superb 10-8-2-0 mark on all-weather ovals, including a three-for-four mark at Arlington. The Sidney’s Candy gelding is a question mark at the trip and from a class perspective as the wildcard in the field. The likely pacesetter will be sailing from the break beneath Jose Valdivia Jr.

SIR ANTHONY (#5) (9-2) – Mineshaft four-year-old was a going-away stakes winner the last time he raced on this course in the summer. The chestnut has fine stakes form and looms a huge chance with his best. The Illinois-bred has never been better.

NUN THE LESS (#6) (7-2) – Top contender was best over the Turfway Park synthetic with a fine tally in the Kentucky Cup Classic two prior for Cipriano Contreras. The Candy Ride gelding was a good second in the Ben Ali Stakes (G3) at Keeneland last out and could be moving best of all in the stretch. He is a must use.

ECKERSLEY (#7) (20-1) – Dark bay son of Congrats has raced on the lawn in nine straight and seeks his first tally since 2017. The Kentucky-bred will take back and try to run them down in the lane.

MACHTREE (#8) (20-1) – Ben Colebrook trainee bagged the 2018 Wando Stakes on the synthetic at Woodbine and makes his third start since the barn change. The son of Kitten’s Joy could sneak into the exotics with his best performance.

GONEGHOST (#9) (5-1) – Local standout was second in this race last campaign after holding a big lead turning for home. The speedy son of Cherokee Rap will be very dangerous if he clears early under Chris Emigh.

LANIER (#10) (6-1) – Seven-year-old raised his game with four sharp runs at Turfway Park leading up to this one, including a second in the Kentucky Cup Classic most recently. The Lewis Michael gelding has the right running style to track the pace and get first run turning for home.

WHAT’S UP DUDE (#11) (30-1) – Mark Cristel pupil draws widest of all and would need a career-best to challenge this field.

ANALYSIS

Richiesinthehouse and Goneghost are both confirmed front runners and should ensure of a robust pace. The contenders who run from off the pace should be rolling into contention in early stretch, and there could be more than half of the field in the mix late.

WAGER

$1 Trifecta
5,10 with 3,5,6,9,10 with all = $72

Good Luck!

PHOTO: Nun the Less wins the Kentucky Cup Classic over Lanier at Turfway Park on March 9, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Turfway Park

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Spot Plays for 2019 Kentucky Derby Day

A smashing 14-race card will take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday which is headlined by the 145th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1). As was done with the Oaks card, I have tabbed some long shot runners who figure to show improvement over the expected wet going.

RACE 3

I’m Looking Up (#8) (10-1) will make his first run of the season with a trainer change to Dallas Stewart. The Speightstown colt is bred to thrive with the wet conditions. His half-brother, multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Smooth Air, was two-for-two in the slop including a tally in the 2008 Hutcheson Stakes (G2). This four-year-old will show speed coming in fresh.

RACE 6 – HUMANA DISTAFF (G1)

Trainer Bob Baffert has two in the field, and it’s the longer-priced one who appeals to me. Emboldened (#6) (8-1) is a deep closer who will appreciate the extra furlong in this spot. The Elusive Quality filly lacks the credentials of many in the affair, but she has big upside and figures to move forward over the off-going. The chestnut will be running on late beneath jockey Joel Rosario.

RACE 8 – CHURCHILL DOWNS STAKES (G1)

The Mike Maker-trained Do Share (#1) (10-1) sports a 6-3-1-1 mark on wet surfaces, and he comes in off of a smashing Tom Fool Handicap (G3) victory when registering a sensational 116 BRIS Speed figure. The Candy Ride gelding has a big turn of foot and lands in a field with a trio of confirmed front runners. The Kentucky-bred will have Irad Ortiz Jr. in the silks.

RACE 9 – AMERICAN TURF STAKES (G2)

Transylvania Stakes (G3) third The Black Album (#12) (12-1) endured an awful voyage in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) when a somewhat unlucky eighth. The dark bay colt faces a tough task from this post, but he will appreciate some give in the ground in his second run of 2019. Jose Ortiz riding adds to the confidence level on the Rodolphe Brisset trainee.

RACE 12 – KENTUCKY DERBY

Grade 2 star War of Will (#1) (15-1) was a 5 3/4-length maiden winner at Churchill Downs over a sloppy, sealed surface last fall. The Mark Casse pupil is training up a storm of late and will be a serious pace presence at the very least in the Run for the Roses.

RACE 14

Tony Small (#5) (12-1) finished a smart runner-up from the 12 post position going two turns on debut at Fair Grounds. The Tom Morley trainee possesses a strong wet-track pedigree and could be the one in the get-out race on Saturday. He figures to improve with a race under his belt.

PHOTO: Roses on Kentucky Derby Day (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

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Spot Plays for 2019 Kentucky Oaks Day

An excellent 13-race card will be hosted by Churchill Downs on Friday, led by the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1). With the expectation of a wet surface, I have tabbed a few long shot contenders who will move forward on a moisture-laden main strip.

RACE 3

BLAME THE FROG (#7) (12-1) broke her maiden at Churchill Downs last summer in the slop. The Ben Colebrook charge might be peaking third time off the layoff beneath John Velazquez.

RACE 7 – ALYSHEBA STAKES (G2)

Grade 3 winner INSTILLED REGARD (#6) (8-1) draws into a tough field with the turf-to-dirt move for Chad Brown. The Arch colt was a closing fourth in the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1) over a sloppy, sealed oval, and he could be overlooked in the field.

RACE 11 – KENTUCKY OAKS (G1)

OUT FOR A SPIN (#1) (15-1), my top pick for the Oaks, is two-for-two on wet surfaces for trainer Dallas Stewart. The Ashland Stakes (G1) heroine could splash by them all with a good voyage under Irad Ortiz Jr.

RACE 12

BLUE EYED GIRL (#9) (15-1) is by Super Saver, a solid wet-track sire who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby over a sloppy oval. The Barbara Minshall trainee has early speed and room for improvement second time off the shelf under jockey Luis Saez.

RACE 13

Rockingham Ranch’s BARRACUDA (#13) (12-1) brought $170,000 as a two-year-old in training last spring and debuts in this spot for Peter Miller. The Graydar filly shows a bullet gate drill in preparation of her first outing, and the gray lass has a very good wet-track pedigree. The post is tough but Miller will have the sophomore ready.

CLUB CAR (#12) (15-1) is also an intriguing player in the finale with John Velazquez aboard. The Malibu Moon filly chased lone speed before tiring to third at Keeneland on debut for trainer Ben Colebrook. The Kentucky-bred will move up having one under her belt, and she should also thrive over wet going.

PHOTO: Churchill Downs (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

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Final Kentucky Oaks works round-up: Notes and quotes from coast-to-coast

A total of 13 sophomore fillies put in their final major morning preparations over the past week in advance of Friday’s $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs. Grade 2 princess Positive Spirit previously drilled a bullet four panels in :47.20 at Keeneland on Sunday, April 21, the best of 33 works at the distance.

Two-time Grade 2 winner Serengeti Empress also impressed in her final tune-up, scorching five furlongs in a bullet :58.20 at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, April 23 for trainer Tom Amoss.

MONDAY, APRIL 29

At Churchill Downs, Grade 1 heroine Restless Rider breezed a half-mile in :49.60 in her final move for the Oaks. Trainer Kenny McPeek was “pleased” with how his consistently very good filly traveled, as she clocked fractions of :12, :23.80, :36.80 and going out in 1:03.20 for five-eighths.

Restless Rider, the co-second choice in the field, was second in the recent Ashland Stakes (G1) in her sophomore debut.

“This next race is going to be an improved race off that first race of the year,” McPeek said. “She’s ready to do that.”

SUNDAY, APRIL 28

Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) victress Champagne Anyone completed her major preparations for the race with a half-mile move in :48 at Churchill Downs. She established fractions of :12.40 and :24.60 before eventually galloping out in 1:00.80 for five furlongs.

The Ian Wilkes charge is the co-second choice on the morning line, and her latest drill left both trainer and jockey Chris Landeros in a positive mood.

“It was perfect,” Wilkes said. “She has had a good four weeks here and as long as I don’t mess anything up the next four days, we are fine.”

“Every time I get on this filly, she gives me more confidence I can win the Oaks,” Landeros said.

Fantasy Stakes (G3) winner Lady Apple traveled four furlongs on the Churchill main surface in :49.80 in advance of her biggest test to date. The Steve Asmussen trainee worked in solo fashion and went in :12.40, :25 and :37.20, eventually galloping out five furlongs in 1:04.80.

Also at Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) star Street Band posted :12.60, :24.40, :37, :48.40 and 1:00.20, going out in 1:13.60 for three-quarters of a mile under regular rider Sophie Doyle. The filly races for conditioner Larry Jones, who has saddled a trio of Kentucky Oaks winners since 2008.

Doyle had a very positive outlook following the final major breeze for Street Band.

“She moved well out there,” the 31-year-old rider said. “She gave me a great feel.”

SATURDAY, APRIL 27

Two Oaks contenders got in a final morning work in advance of the Friday feature. Honeybee Stakes (G3) queen Chocolate Kisses clocked four furlongs in :48 beneath Julien Leparoux. The Mark Casse pupil worked in company and posted splits of :12.40 and :24.40, with a five-furlong gallop out in 1:01.

“I thought she worked super,” Casse said. “Julien was aboard; Julien is going to ride her in the Oaks. He said ‘she loves this place.’”

The twice-raced Dunbar Road is currently on the also-eligible list waiting for a defection to draw into the Oaks field. The talented Chad Brown trainee stopped the timer in 1:01.60 for five-eighths. The Quality Road filly earned splits of :13, :25.20, :36.80 and :49.40, before galloping out six panels in 1:14.80.

“She breezed great, we worked her and everything went as planned,” Brown said. “Everything is perfect now all we can do is wait to see if there are any defections.”

FRIDAY, APRIL 26

Multiple Grade 1 star and Oaks favorite Bellafina posted her final drill in anticipation of Friday at Santa Anita Park. The daughter of Quality Road clocked five furlongs in 1:01 to the pleasure of conditioner Simon Callaghan.

“She came out of her work very well,” Callaghan noted. “We didn’t ask her to do too much; she’s been on a good path and we want to keep her going. We’re happy with where we are.”

Santa Anita Oaks (G1) runner-up Flor de la Mar scorched five furlongs from the gate in a bullet :59.80, the swiftest of the 46 morning moves at Santa Anita on Friday for trainer Bob Baffert.

“I mean we’re taking a shot. I think she’ll be better down the road,” Baffert said. “She’ll have to really step it up but the way she worked the other day (was impressive).”

At Churchill Downs, the speedy Motion Emotion registered a half-mile breeze in :49.80 over a surface labeled good. The Thomas Van Berg charge worked on her own and recorded fractions of :12.20 and :24.60, before eventually galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 under Tyler Baze.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” said Baze, who was aboard the Fantasy Stakes (G3) runner-up for the first time. “She made a favorable impression.”

Motion Emotion is expected to be part of a busy front end in the Oaks.

The Wayne Catalano-trained Liora also drilled beneath the Twin Spires and was credited with five furlongs in :59.60. The Candy Ride filly comes into the Oaks off consecutive runner-up finishes at Fair Grounds in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2).

Blinkers were added to the filly for her latest start, and the equipment change has moved the hard-trying dark bay forward.

“She was way more focused today,” said Florent Geroux, who was aboard for her morning spin. “She puts way more into her works. The blinkers definitely helped because she has a tendency of wandering around a bit at the end. Not getting tired, but just losing her focus a bit.”

THURSDAY, APRIL 25

Ashland Stakes (G1) upsetter Out For a Spin put forth her final serious Oaks work over a muddy surface at Churchill Downs. The Hard Spun filly set splits of :12.20, :24.40 and :37 prior to completing her move in :49.80.

The drill pleased conditioner Dallas Stewart, who thought it was “perfect.” The Grade 1 heroine will receive a rider change to Irad Ortiz Jr. on Friday.

Champion Jaywalk, who dominated the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on this course in the fall, is sending signals that she will be a filly to deal with in the Oaks. The daughter of Cross Traffic ran a creditable third in the recent Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and Friday will mark her third start in 2019.

The lass recorded a bullet five furlongs on the Keeneland main surface in :59.20 and received praise from Tyler Servis, the son of conditioner John Servis.

“That was exactly what we wanted,” Tyler Servis stated. “She left the five-furlong marker like a bear. She left there running. I had her in :11 3/5 for the first eighth. She looked like she wanted to do it. She galloped out really well.”

At Gulfstream Park, Davona Dale Stakes (G2) stunner Jeltrin worked five furlongs out of the gate in 1:00.33. The bay daughter of Tapizar has shown steady improvement in 2019 and has could be a live Oaks longshot in his first voyage outside of the Sunshine State.

Conditioner Alexis Delgado said of her final morning move, “Perfect work; we’re ready to ship.”

PHOTO: Restless Rider posts her final major move on Monday, May 29, ahead of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

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Hoosier Park Harness Racing

Hoosier Park Harness Race of the Week for May 1, 2019

RACE 7 at Hoosier Park on Wednesday attracted a field of eight for a one-mile trotting event. “The Death Star” is a conditioned race for now-winners of four and looks like a very good betting opportunity.

Don’t forget to get your GAIT INSURANCE before the Race of the Week! Your $5 WIN BET will be refunded is your horse breaks stride and loses the race!

CRYSTAL ICE (#7) (12-1) can be very good when he stays flat. The four-year-old son of Donato Hanover was victorious in his 2019 debut before suffering a break after making a nice middle move to be into contention most recently. The Henry Lunsford charge had a nice string of races on this oval in the fall and he figures to be improving in this spot in a third run off the shelf. The gray four-year-old will be forwardly placed early and looms as the value of the field.

JUSTLIKEHIM (#4) (9-2) intrigues at a nice price for trainer Kennedy Lindsey. The four-year-old gelding will face easier in this assignment and could be overlooked in the betting after suffering an early break last out. The California-bred bay is not especially consistent to this point, but he has run some big races that make him more than competitive in this field. John de Long will be in the sulky and Justlikehim could peak in his third race off of the long absence.

HORNS FOR THREE (#3) (7-5) is the obvious one to beat coming off a convincing tally in his seasonal debut. The gelded son of Credit Winner faced some of the better juveniles in training last campaign with solid results and looks to have picked up right where he left off in 2019. The Kentucky-bred from the dangerous Jeff Cullipher barn should be fitter second time off the shelf and is a must use under the guidance of Sam Widger.

This trio could be racing in some order in the first three positions early on, and it would be of little surprise if they stayed there to the finish.

PHOTO: Hoosier Park Harness Racing (c) Jamie Linscott/Hoosier Park

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Opening day Spot Plays for Churchill Downs’ 2019 spring meet

The spring meeting at Churchill Downs will get underway on Saturday with 10 races on the slate. Topping the opening-evening card is the $125,000 William Walker Stakes, a five-furlong dash on the lawn for three-year-olds featuring the unbeaten Bulletin.

I have tabbed some horses of interest on the card with the hope of building some momentum going into next weekend.

RACE 2

Conqueror (#4) (3-1) is a head shy of being two-for-two since being claimed by Peter Miller. The chestnut son of Malibu Moon has a versatile running style and will be hard to defeat in his current form cycle. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides in the local debut for the six-year-old.

RACE 5

Grit and Glory (#4) (6-1) went postward at 5-2 odds on debut here in May against maiden special weight foes and finished fifth in a strong field. The chestnut has since moved to the Stanley Hough barn and shows a trio of fine local drills in anticipation of his return. The son of Malibu Moon races as a gelding for the initial time with Luis Saez in the controls.

RACE 6

Eddie Kenneally sends out Murad Khan (#1) (8-1) for his second start of 2019 in a field without an abundance of pace. The Raven’s Pass gelding exits a stakes-quality allowance race at Gulfstream Park and should be tighter for this endeavor. I think the bay will be prominent from the opening bell at a square number.

RACE 8

Three-time stakes victor Bulletin (#1) (4-5) is the obvious one to catch and beat for trainer Todd Pletcher in the William Walker Stakes, but I have a lot of interest in import Legends of War (#3) (6-1) making his U.S. debut. The $1.3 million son of Scat Daddy faced Group 2 or better fields on five occasions as a juvenile and has a hint of class to him. The Doug O’Neill trainee gets blinkers and Lasix, and the sophomore might get a contested pace to rally into in the stretch, as well.

RACE 9

The Dale Romans-trained Unbridled Outlaw (#7) (7-2) didn’t fire a lick at Gulfstream last time but will reverse his form in this spot. The dark bay has run some good ones on this course for a barn that is always primed for Churchill Downs. The six-year-old was 4-1 in a stakes race last out and might offer the same value in this lesser spot.

Good luck and don’t forget to opt in to the Opening Night Bet Back, where you can get your Win bet back up to $10 if your horse runs second in every race at Churchill Downs on Opening Night, April 27!

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Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Win Win Win

Live Oak’s homebred Win Win Win earned his way into the Kentucky Derby (G1) field with his third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and most recently, a runner-up performance in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. The Florida-bred has 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, which has him in 16th place on the Leaderboard.

Win Win Win is by the Japanese-bred champion sprinter Hat Trick, who was a multiple Group 1 winner and came out on top in the 2005 Hong Kong Mile (G1). Hat Trick has sired at least 34 stakes winners and two champions from nine crops to date. His top progeny have been most successful in South America, though he has had some success in North America, as well.

Hat Trick is by Horse of the Year Sunday Silence, winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). As good as the son of Halo was during his racing days, the impact Sunday Silence has made in the Japanese breeding shed has been remarkable. He was Japan’s leading sire from 1995 -2007, and he has also been mightily successful as a sire of sires and as a broodmare sire.

The first dam of Win Win Win is the winning Smarty Jones mare Miss Smarty Pants, who counts herself a half-sister to Grade 3 queen Unbridled Humor. Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, has not been as productive in the breeding shed as he was on the racetrack, however. The champion son of Elusive Quality is the broodmare sire of nine stakes winners to date, with overall earnings in excess of $5.9 million.

Win Win Win is an interesting sort in that his maternal and paternal grandsires found glory in each of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The colt was full of run in the latter stages of the Bluegrass Stakes in his first attempt going 1 1/8 miles, and his female line has stamina influences through the likes of Unbridled, Caveat and Northern Jove.

The talented Kentucky Derby prospect has had trouble overcoming poor starts in a few races this campaign, which could be his undoing in a 20-horse field on May 4.

PHOTO: Win Win Win captures the Pasco Stakes under jockey Julien Pimentel at Tampa Bay Downs on January 19, 2019 (c) SV Photography

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