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Jan Hoadley
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Who Is John Velazquez? posted by Horse Racing

Born November 24, 1971 in Puerto Rico, John Velazquez is a popular horseracing jockey, who has more than 5,146 wins to his credit. Velazquez learnt horse riding in his country and by 1990 had won his first official race at the Canovanas racetrack. In the same year, he was guided by his agent to move to New York, U.S.A., where he started earning many riding titles at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct Racetrack.

In 1998, Velazquez won his first Breeders' Cup race, and has gone on to win this cup seven more times in his career. He has also been very successful in graded stake races that include the Cigar Mile Handicap, Woodbine Mile, Whitney Handicap, E. P. Taylor Stakes, Dubai World Cup, Blue Grass Stakes, and the Kentucky Oaks. In September 2001, Velazquez managed six wins in a single card, which is a Saratoga record. He also earned the title of United States Champion Jockey by earnings in 2004 and 2005, and received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the same years as well.  

In 2006, Velazquez was chosen to be included in the Puerto Rico Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and was awarded the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2009. In the same year, he defeated the unbeaten Dunkirk at the Florida Derby, when he rode Quality Road. In May 2011, Velazquez riding Animal Kingdom won his first Kentucky Derby. Animal Kingdom was ridden by Velazquez again for the 136th Preakness Stakes, but he finished second. By October 2013, Velazquez was considered the all-time top money winner amongst jockeys from North America. At the Belmont race, he surpassed Pat Day, when he rode Bit Bustin, and Velazquez earnings after the race reached a record high of $297,922,320 in career purses. In 2014, Velazquez is considered the top money winner and the first jockey whose earnings have crossed $300 million.

Continue reading "Who Is John Velazquez?"

Johnny Matheis

The most overrated colt ever? posted by Johnny Matheis

Very strange. You run second in the Kentucky Derby, after a front running trip with no traffic problems, on a hard surface known to favor blistering speed so much that often where the horses are in the turn is where they wind up at the finish, and of the 20 runners, you alone have no excuse, you wouldn't expect to be lauded as the "superhorse" and Preakness favorite.

But that's the case with Bodemeister. He has now earned the title of "most overrated colt ever".

Maybe because of the trainer. Fair enough.

But the fact is we've seen his best, and it isn't good enough. If he does win a Grade 1 against older horses, it will be a fluke. He's a nice colt, and will be a stakes runner, but he isn't a classic winner.

He'll be lucky if there aren't three or four faces to beat him out of the money in the Preakness and Belmont.

Went the Day Well is probably the best of the batch. Hard telling how good Alpha is. He had no business being entered with his foot infection so recent. Makes me lose some respect for the great trainer, Kiaren McGlaughen. Kiaren has proven to be better than this in the past, so I'll excuse him this time.

Then, of course, there's the obvious Derby winner, and some fresh ones who bypassed the Derby, notably the Wood's third and fourth place finishers, and Roman's best colt in a stable of awesome runners, who will probably emerge as the best of the Arkansas runners.

Not to mention other new faces, though I don't endorse them. Figure out of every three, one will continue success, though.

I don't want to sound condescending towards Bodemeister. Obviously, he has class.

Continue reading "The most overrated colt ever?"

Johnny Matheis

Friday Cup and other Churchill races posted by Johnny Matheis

I'll be working the simulcast for it at Turfway Friday evening and Saturday morning, so I probbly won't have time to talk about Saturday's races.

So I'll talk about Friday's.

I'm not too excited about this year, which is a good thing. McGuaghey only has two entires in all of the Breeder Cup races. Zito only has two I think. All of these are long shots. Nafzger has none. The big trainers are just not in. Kiarin McClglughin has a few. Of course Baffert does. Pletcher does.

Keeneland's meet ended last weekend, and what was noticable was how poor the trainers were. Keeneland is supposed to be the premier track of the world, with the best trainers, but every runner seemed to regress in fourth and fifth races off layoffs. Lukas outtrained these guys, so that's bad. Worst training I ever saw in a meet.

Favorites have been winning a lot in Kentucky, but if it's anything like Keeneland, these aren't true morning line favorites, but hot tips. Low prices usually mean crooked stables. What this means is that instead of running true to form and having good payoffs, stables give too many good "hot tips" and the payoffs are ridiculously low for the winner, according to past performances and other stats.  

But the Breeder Cup races are tailor made for high prices, because these are supposedly the best, so anyone can win.

The three races leading into the Cup races feature 2 who have amazing class for their races, and should be nearly even money favorites, but that doesn't mean they will. The first is a more wide open race, but VICTORY NOTION should prevail. The second and third should see JOIN IN THE DANCE and NOBLE PROMISE win easily on form and pay small, so if they don't, and if they're overlays, look for the mob to run the show again at Churchill.
Continue reading "Friday Cup and other Churchill races"

Johnny Matheis

No pleasure in reporting horsemen cheating posted by Johnny Matheis

Kentucky is one of the most crooked in the country in most things, Horse racing included. You can't tell by "reports", because a truly corrupt system will not report abuses.

But we knew they would do it for the huge pick six carry over Thursday. And I watched, and found an obvious cheat.

Contrary to belief, it isn't the jockey who is to be watched. They try to stay aboard an animal and hold on for their health. It is the trainer who can "juice up" a horse. "Juicing up" may or may not involve illegal substances, but it involves having a horse ready or not. This is okay, as long as it is not blabbed to all the sports writers, trainers, and hoodlums who bet it down.

In the eighth race, which was the 4th leg of the pick six, CLASSIC EMILY was one that looked to route this group on paper. She figured to go off at 2-1. She already manhandled most of them, and the only real competition looked to be from PROUDLY IRISH, who should have been second choice around 4-1.

In fact, CLASSIC EMILY was probably a KEY horse to most pick six bettors who handicap without the inside dope.

THOMAS AMOSS trained SUN VALLEY STORM, who ran 9th to CLASSIC EMILY just two months ago. Did I say ninth out of nine? While CLASSIC EMILY won? Did I mention that it was the same distance of six furlongs? Did I mention that CLASSIC EMILY beat SUN VALLEY STORM by 19 1/4 lengths, which is roughly 4 seconds, in  six furlongs the difference between Graded Stakes $200,000 competition and horses who run for $3500 claimers?

Now the fact that SUN VALLEY STORM won the race wasn't the crooked part. There are upsets. What is crooked is when SUN VALLEY STORM goes off at 3-1, and CLASSIC EMILY goes off at 4-1.

Continue reading "No pleasure in reporting horsemen cheating"

Johnny Matheis

BOXed in posted by Johnny Matheis

I didn't make a post before the Florida Derby, because nothing really stood out. The two Zito horses looked as good as any, but the question was whether a "patient" trainer like Zito would have them firing for this or for later. I put two to win on each, but since ICE BOX was more experienced that MINER'S RESERVE, I put a little extra on him

Also, at 1 1/8 mile, ICE BOX was approaching his better distance thatMiner. MINER'S RESERVE is a son of MINESHAFT, and out of a FORY NINER dam, Royal Reserves. FORTY NINER is still long sprint bloodlines. Good bloodlines, but still not a natural Grade 1 classic distance runner.

Still, both are useful. ICE BOX began his career at Saratoga at age 2 in early August. he ran 4 races as a 2 year old, which is enough for experience, but not excessive enough to break down. He broke his maiden in his last race as a 2 year old at a mile and 70 yards. He then raced January at Gulfstream to win an allowance race, then made a good forward move in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, the prep for the Florida Derby, to finish 5th.

What we're wondering now is if he, or any of the other Florida Derby runners, are Kentucky Derby possible winners. It looked like a weak field going in, but a Grade 1 is usually strongest when it is up and comers who don't look so good on paper.

Times are not as important as the bloodlines, trainer, class, campagin strategy, and probable fitness. ICE BOX came out of a fairly fast race with a month rest. So this is the guideline to look for an optimum effort.

On bloodlines, he is the son of PULPIT, good enough, out of a TOBASCO CAT dam, which pushes it for distance.   

Continue reading "BOXed in"


Phillies take a Halladay posted by David

After the way Cliff Lee pitched against the Yankees in the World Series six weeks ago, I would have been surprised to hear that the Phillies were even listening to offers for their ace.  But when the chance to acquire Roy Halladay comes around, I suppose any team would be crazy not to listen.  Before I knew it, Halladay was a Phillie and Lee was heading to Seattle, where he’ll join his third club in the span of four and a half months.  How often does that happen to the defending Cy Young Award winner?

Mauer wins Triple Crown in my book

No major leaguer has won the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, but this year Joe Mauer did lead the American League in what should be the three Triple Crown categories: batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444), and slugging percentage (.587).  Home runs are exciting and contribute to a higher slugging percentage, but if I were a manager, I’d much rather see my cleanup hitter go 3-4 than hit a solo shot and strike out three times trying to do it again.  Reaching 100 RBI’s in a season is a nice accomplishment, but the stat itself is overrated.  If all nine guys in the lineup are getting on base 40 percent of the time, it doesn’t matter who is driving them in; someone must be.

Granderson to patrol center in the Bronx

At the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis last week, the Yankees landed themselves a great centerfielder in Curtis Granderson.  Many of Granderson’s fans – myself included – were disappointed that he will be wearing Pinstripes next season.  Even so, I’ll keep rooting for him wherever he goes.  Of all the people I met at the World Baseball Classic, he was the happiest to be there.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Curtis Granderson is the truest friend of the game.

Continue reading "Phillies take a Halladay"

Jan Hoadley

Breeders Cup weekend - will it answer questions or create them? posted by Jan Hoadley

Breeders Cup weekend started yesterday with an incredible performance in the Marathon. The gritty 9 year old Cloudy's Knight loped to the lead coming out of the turn and looked to be a winner until Man of Iron loomed on the inside. Coming out of the turn it shows what this weekend is all about. Both horses dug down for every ounce of energy they had and it took a photo to separate them. Perhaps Cloudy's Knight didn't see the challenger in time but the gutsy old guy fought back not giving up and driving back desperately.

 Yesterday was "ladies day" with features that included some of the top fillies. We saw the two year old She Be Wild get the Breders Cup Juvenile fillies while Midday captured the Filly & Mare Turf. Some said the Ladies Classic would be less than normal without Zenyatta, but such was not the case. Careless Jewell opened up to roll away from the field but couldn't hold on. Her strides shortened on the turn and in the stretch Life is Sweet romped to the front opened up by daylight - awesome race.

 Today are some bigger questions. Will Zenyatta beat the boys is the biggest with one of the most exciting Classic fields in some time. If she does it seems she's certainly earned Horse of the Year. I know Rachel Alexander has done a lot and at this point - BC morning - the 3 year old filly has credentials for the honor. She's done all that has been asked of her. She's set records. However, if Zenyatta should win the Classic, she would too. Beating the best in the world - I think she's a wrap for older mare as is Rachel for 3 year old (mare and top 3 year old) - but the Classic is where Zenyatta really has little to lose. If she wins she's the reigning queen. If she doesn't she's still the best older mare. Many believe this is a big step up but that's where we find the best.

Continue reading "Breeders Cup weekend - will it answer ..."

Jan Hoadley

The Thoroughbred World Loses Legends posted by Jan Hoadley

It's been a tough month for champions in the TB world. As mentioned in a previous post Gone West was lost. The others are also major horses that have left fans reeling.

 There's the loss, to a heart attack in his pasture, of popular sire El Prado of the 21st.

On the heels of hearing that was news of Summer Squall being euthanized due to age. Summer Squall chased Unbridled in one of the most memorable Derby races of all time. Summer Squall came back in the Preakness to the race that defined the gutsy race horse.

Sitting fourth down the backside Summer Squall put it in gear with Unbridled on the outside as they sat down for a drive and they collared the leader with Unbridled and Summer Squall head to head for several strides  then drawing off to an impressive win.

Today news came of two more major losses in Cryptoclearance and Kona Gold.

Cryptoclearance maybe didn't win a Triple Crown but he was always right there knocking at the wire. Now 25 he had a heart attack from complilcations following colic surgery.

Continue reading "The Thoroughbred World Loses Legends"

Jan Hoadley

5 Top True Sports Movies posted by Jan Hoadley

The best sports movies can vary. What sport you like makes a difference too! There's classics like Chariots of Fire and underrated like Prefontaine and can't miss Friday Night Lights. For the horse racing fan there are special movies too. The five best in my opinion are not only for the horses they represent but the larger than life story around them. In no particular order, check these out!  ( MORE)

Continue reading "5 Top True Sports Movies"

Jan Hoadley

We're Seeing History posted by Jan Hoadley

Rachel Alexandra won the Woodward Stakes today in a smoking time of 1:48.1 holding off a hard charging Macho Again. She still has critics. She has won from coast to coast, at the top, against fillies, against 3 year olds, now against older horses. She has a perfect, unblemished season. She's been criticized she didn't "work for it" in some races - can't be said for the Woodward. There were several gunning for her waiting for a mistake from the three year old filly who dared tread outside her gender AND age! It's criticized she won't be at the Breeders Cup but it seems like unless something spectacular happens then she's done everything she needs to do for Horse of the Year, top 3 year old, top 3 year old filly and only Zenyatta arguably could stand between her and a clean sweep to best female running.

 For many racing isn't about the Pick 6 or the Daily Double. Many who enjoy a good horse never bet a trifecta and wouldn't think of dropping a hundred dollar bet on horses betting. They're no less important to the sport. No female has won the Woodward - ever! The word "great" and "legend" is bantered about too often.

 This is an incredibly special horse. She's running on level with speed figures of Sunday Silence, she's maybe not against Derby winners as Slew/Affirmed challenged..but is that her fault? Where is last year's Derby winner? What should she prove?

Human nature wants to push the limits. By pushing limits we find how good a horse is but each time is a risk. While many criticize for not running Rachel in the Breeders Cup due to the poly track recent studies shows it's a very real risk indeed! If a horrific breakdown occurs is it worth it to see her and Zenyatta? The answer in hindsight is always no and accusations of greed and cruelty - but before hand people scream for speed. Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian. Bayakoa and Go For Wand.

Continue reading "We're Seeing History"

Horse Racing News

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Patriots Rule rallies to win California Dreamin' Stakes (The Associated Press)

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From Yahoo Sports

California Chrome wins San Diego Handicap (The Associated Press)

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) -- California Chrome beat Dortmund by a half-length Saturday at Del Mar in the Grade 2 $200,000 San Diego Handicap, the 1 1/16-mile prep for the Grade I $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Unbeaten Enola Gray romps to 7 3/4-length win at Del Mar (The Associated Press)

Unbeaten Enola Gray romped to a 7 3/4-length victory Friday in the $150,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies. Ridden by Tyler Baze for trainer Phil D'Amato, Enola Gray ran seven furlongs in a stakes-record 1:21.24. The previous record of 1:21.40 was set by Princess Royalty in 1990. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Lynne's Legacy rallies to win Del Mar feature race (The Associated Press)

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) -- Lynne's Legacy rallied from last place to win the Del Mar feature race Thursday for older fillies and mares. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Summer racing heats up with California Chrome, Songbird (The Associated Press)

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From Yahoo Sports