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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014

Racing Headlines

'All Others' a heavy favorite in first Kentucky Derby Future Wager

It's a true reminder that the pace is quickening on the journey to the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby: the first of four pools in Churchill Downs Racetrack's Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) will open its three-day run on Friday, November 28 and the "All Others" wagering interest is expected to be a heavy favorite when Derby future betting concludes early Sunday evening.

The Mutuel Field (#24), or "All Others," has been installed by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia as the 3-5 morning line favorite among 24 betting interests in the opening future pool for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. The pool also features 23 individual horses and Zayat Stables LLC's American Pharoah, winner of the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner at Santa Anita, is the individual choice. The colt missed a planned run in the November 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile because of a left front foot bruise, but is expected resume training soon for a return to racing as early as February, according to his three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

American Pharoah, one of four KDFW Pool 1 betting interests trained by Baffert, was listed as a 12-1 risk in Battaglia's morning line odds. He is followed closely by Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red (#20) at 15-1 and a group of horses at 20-1 that includes Nashua winner Blofeld (#2), FrontRunner and Del Mar Futurity runner-up Calculator, Breeders' Futurity winner Carpe Diem (#4), unbeaten Hopeful champ Competitive Edge (#6), Champagne winner Daredevil (#7) and Delta Jackpot hero Ocho Ocho Ocho (#17).

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager enables fans of America's greatest race to wager on candidates for the Kentucky Derby well in advance of the race at odds that could be much more attractive than those offered on the day of the race.

Wagering on KDFW Pool 1 is scheduled to open at noon (EST) on Friday and conclude Sunday at 6 p.m.

"All Others" was the 4-5 favorite in last year's inaugural November pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. A total of $273,174 was wagered during that pool, including $35,096 in exacta bets. California Chrome, the eventual winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, was not listed among its wagering interests. Total betting in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, the first to feature four wagering pools, was $1,324,466.

The November 28-30 pool is only the second November pool in the history of the wager, which was first offered in 1999. All Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools offer $2-minimum win betting and exacta wagering. The latter is available in the form of $2 minimum straight exacta bets or $1-minimum exacta boxes and part-wheels.

No scratches or betting refunds are permitted in the Kentucky Derby Future wager, but betting will be suspended immediately on a wagering interest in any KDFW pool if Churchill Downs determines that injury, illness or other circumstance revealed during a pool would prevent a horse from competing in the race.

Winning payouts in KDFW pools are determined by the odds in place at the end of each respective betting pool.

Wagering on the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Wager will be offered at Churchill Downs and racetracks throughout North America; on the web via TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering site of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs Incorporated, other advance deposit wagering sites; and at other simulcast centers and off-track wagering sites.

Pool 1 coincides with the closing weekend of Churchill Downs' 125th Fall Meet that includes among its highlights the popular "Stars of Tomorrow II" program devoted exclusively to racing for two-year-old Thoroughbreds, many of whom could emerge as candidates for next spring's Kentucky Derby.

The featured event on Saturday's "Stars of Tomorrow II" card is the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, a 1 1/16-mile race that has produced recent winners of the Kentucky Derby in Real Quiet, the KJC runner-up in 1997 who won the Run for the Roses the following year, and Super Saver, who swept those races in 2009 and 2010.

Also scheduled during KDFW Pool 1 betting period is the Grade 2 Remsen, a 1 1/8-mile race for two-year-olds at Aqueduct on Saturday.

A dozen of the 23 individual horses in Pool 1 are in the barns of three trainers: Todd Pletcher, Baffert and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Pletcher, who saddled Super Saver to win the 2010 Kentucky Derby, trains five of the wagering interests in KDFW Pool 1.  His group includes Blofeld, Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge, Daredevil and New York-bred Ostrolenka (#18), who is among the top contenders expected for the Remsen. Baffert's KDFW foursome headed by favored individual American Pharoah also features Dortmund (#8), Lord Nelson (#14) and Punctuate (#19). His trio of Kentucky Derby winners includes Hall of Famer Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

McLaughlin, who saddled Closing Argument for a runner-up finish to Giacomo in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, has three Pool 1 wagering interests in his care. They are Remsen prospects Classy Class (#5) and Frosted (#11), as well as Imperia (#13), who is scheduled to race on dirt for the first time after a troubled trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1

NO.   HORSE    ODDS
1.   American Pharoah   12-1
2.   Blofeld   20-1
3.   Calculator   20-1
4.   Carpe Diem   20-1
5.   Classy Class   50-1
6.   Competitive Edge   20-1
7.   Daredevil   20-1
8.   Dortmund   50-1
9.   Eagle   50-1
10.   El Kabeir   50-1
11.   Lucky Player   50-1
12.   I Spent It   50-1
13.   Imperia   50-1
14.   Lord Nelson   30-1
15.   Lucky Player   50-1
16.   Mr. Z   30-1
17.   Ocho Ocho Ocho   20-1
18.   Ostrolenka   50-1
19.   Punctuate   50-1
20.   Texas Red   15-1
21.   The Great War   30-1
22.   Unblunted   50-1
23.   Upstart   20-1
24.   All Other Three-Year-Olds   3-5

The Great War, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for trainer Aidan O'Brien, has been transferred to the care of trainer Wesley Ward to be prepared for America's classics, according to Ward.

Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager were chosen by Churchill Downs committee that included Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, Senior Racing Analyst Jill Byrne, Pari-Mutuel Marketing Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President, Racing Communications John Asher.

An important part of the selection committee's work was making contact with trainers and other representatives of KDFW wagering interests to determine the health status of those horses and their viability as candidates for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Horses currently on the mend from injuries were not included in the pool until their recovery status and racing plans were verified.

In addition to American Pharoah, three other KDFW Pool 1 horses have been absent from the work tab recently but their connections intend to target Road to the Kentucky Derby races. Unbeaten Competitive Edge will resume training at Florida's Palm Beach Downs in the near future for a winter/spring campaign, according to Pletcher. Saratoga Special winner I Spent It is expected to resume training in two weeks at Oaklawn Park, according to trainer Tony Dutrow. Promising maiden winner Punctuate had a minor infection recently but Baffert said he should return to training soon.

Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances for wagering interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/KYDerby15future1.pdf.

Three additional Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are scheduled in the months leading up to Derby 141. The dates for those pools are:

KDFW Pool 2:   Friday, February 6 through Sunday, February 8   (12 weeks in advance of Derby)
KDFW Pool 3:   Friday, February 27 through Sunday, March 1    (nine weeks in advance of Derby)
KDFW Pool 4:   Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29   (five weeks in advance of Derby)

There will be a single pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, which was launched in 2003 and is now in its 13th year. That pool will run concurrently with KDFW Pool 3 from February 27 through March 1. The only difference in the schedule of those pools is a 6:30 p.m. closing time for the Oaks pool, which is 30 minutes later than the KDFW pool.

Real-time odds during the three-day run of KDFW Pool 1 and other information the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event Web site at www.KentuckyDerby.com.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

'All Others' a heavy favorite in first Kentucky Derby Future Wager

It's a true reminder that the pace is quickening on the journey to the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby: the first of four pools in Churchill Downs Racetrack's Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) will open its three-day run on Friday, November 28 and the "All Others" wagering interest is expected to be a heavy favorite when Derby future betting concludes early Sunday evening.

The Mutuel Field (#24), or "All Others," has been installed by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia as the 3-5 morning line favorite among 24 betting interests in the opening future pool for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. The pool also features 23 individual horses and Zayat Stables LLC's American Pharoah, winner of the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner at Santa Anita, is the individual choice. The colt missed a planned run in the November 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile because of a left front foot bruise, but is expected resume training soon for a return to racing as early as February, according to his three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

American Pharoah, one of four KDFW Pool 1 betting interests trained by Baffert, was listed as a 12-1 risk in Battaglia's morning line odds. He is followed closely by Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red (#20) at 15-1 and a group of horses at 20-1 that includes Nashua winner Blofeld (#2), FrontRunner and Del Mar Futurity runner-up Calculator, Breeders' Futurity winner Carpe Diem (#4), unbeaten Hopeful champ Competitive Edge (#6), Champagne winner Daredevil (#7) and Delta Jackpot hero Ocho Ocho Ocho (#17).

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager enables fans of America's greatest race to wager on candidates for the Kentucky Derby well in advance of the race at odds that could be much more attractive than those offered on the day of the race.

Wagering on KDFW Pool 1 is scheduled to open at noon (EST) on Friday and conclude Sunday at 6 p.m.

"All Others" was the 4-5 favorite in last year's inaugural November pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. A total of $273,174 was wagered during that pool, including $35,096 in exacta bets. California Chrome, the eventual winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, was not listed among its wagering interests. Total betting in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, the first to feature four wagering pools, was $1,324,466.

The November 28-30 pool is only the second November pool in the history of the wager, which was first offered in 1999. All Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools offer $2-minimum win betting and exacta wagering. The latter is available in the form of $2 minimum straight exacta bets or $1-minimum exacta boxes and part-wheels.

No scratches or betting refunds are permitted in the Kentucky Derby Future wager, but betting will be suspended immediately on a wagering interest in any KDFW pool if Churchill Downs determines that injury, illness or other circumstance revealed during a pool would prevent a horse from competing in the race.

Winning payouts in KDFW pools are determined by the odds in place at the end of each respective betting pool.

Wagering on the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Wager will be offered at Churchill Downs and racetracks throughout North America; on the web via TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering site of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs Incorporated, other advance deposit wagering sites; and at other simulcast centers and off-track wagering sites.

Pool 1 coincides with the closing weekend of Churchill Downs' 125th Fall Meet that includes among its highlights the popular "Stars of Tomorrow II" program devoted exclusively to racing for two-year-old Thoroughbreds, many of whom could emerge as candidates for next spring's Kentucky Derby.

The featured event on Saturday's "Stars of Tomorrow II" card is the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, a 1 1/16-mile race that has produced recent winners of the Kentucky Derby in Real Quiet, the KJC runner-up in 1997 who won the Run for the Roses the following year, and Super Saver, who swept those races in 2009 and 2010.

Also scheduled during KDFW Pool 1 betting period is the Grade 2 Remsen, a 1 1/8-mile race for two-year-olds at Aqueduct on Saturday.

A dozen of the 23 individual horses in Pool 1 are in the barns of three trainers: Todd Pletcher, Baffert and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Pletcher, who saddled Super Saver to win the 2010 Kentucky Derby, trains five of the wagering interests in KDFW Pool 1.  His group includes Blofeld, Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge, Daredevil and New York-bred Ostrolenka (#18), who is among the top contenders expected for the Remsen. Baffert's KDFW foursome headed by favored individual American Pharoah also features Dortmund (#8), Lord Nelson (#14) and Punctuate (#19). His trio of Kentucky Derby winners includes Hall of Famer Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

McLaughlin, who saddled Closing Argument for a runner-up finish to Giacomo in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, has three Pool 1 wagering interests in his care. They are Remsen prospects Classy Class (#5) and Frosted (#11), as well as Imperia (#13), who is scheduled to race on dirt for the first time after a troubled trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1

NO.   HORSE    ODDS
1.   American Pharoah   12-1
2.   Blofeld   20-1
3.   Calculator   20-1
4.   Carpe Diem   20-1
5.   Classy Class   50-1
6.   Competitive Edge   20-1
7.   Daredevil   20-1
8.   Dortmund   50-1
9.   Eagle   50-1
10.   El Kabeir   50-1
11.   Lucky Player   50-1
12.   I Spent It   50-1
13.   Imperia   50-1
14.   Lord Nelson   30-1
15.   Lucky Player   50-1
16.   Mr. Z   30-1
17.   Ocho Ocho Ocho   20-1
18.   Ostrolenka   50-1
19.   Punctuate   50-1
20.   Texas Red   15-1
21.   The Great War   30-1
22.   Unblunted   50-1
23.   Upstart   20-1
24.   All Other Three-Year-Olds   3-5

The Great War, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for trainer Aidan O'Brien, has been transferred to the care of trainer Wesley Ward to be prepared for America's classics, according to Ward.

Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager were chosen by Churchill Downs committee that included Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, Senior Racing Analyst Jill Byrne, Pari-Mutuel Marketing Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President, Racing Communications John Asher.

An important part of the selection committee's work was making contact with trainers and other representatives of KDFW wagering interests to determine the health status of those horses and their viability as candidates for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Horses currently on the mend from injuries were not included in the pool until their recovery status and racing plans were verified.

In addition to American Pharoah, three other KDFW Pool 1 horses have been absent from the work tab recently but their connections intend to target Road to the Kentucky Derby races. Unbeaten Competitive Edge will resume training at Florida's Palm Beach Downs in the near future for a winter/spring campaign, according to Pletcher. Saratoga Special winner I Spent It is expected to resume training in two weeks at Oaklawn Park, according to trainer Tony Dutrow. Promising maiden winner Punctuate had a minor infection recently but Baffert said he should return to training soon.

Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances for wagering interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/KYDerby15future1.pdf.

Three additional Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are scheduled in the months leading up to Derby 141. The dates for those pools are:

KDFW Pool 2:   Friday, February 6 through Sunday, February 8   (12 weeks in advance of Derby)
KDFW Pool 3:   Friday, February 27 through Sunday, March 1    (nine weeks in advance of Derby)
KDFW Pool 4:   Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29   (five weeks in advance of Derby)

There will be a single pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, which was launched in 2003 and is now in its 13th year. That pool will run concurrently with KDFW Pool 3 from February 27 through March 1. The only difference in the schedule of those pools is a 6:30 p.m. closing time for the Oaks pool, which is 30 minutes later than the KDFW pool.

Real-time odds during the three-day run of KDFW Pool 1 and other information the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event Web site at www.KentuckyDerby.com.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Tom's Tribute faces nine in Seabiscuit at Del Mar

Tom's Tribute will go for his third stakes win of the year at Del Mar (Benoit Photos)

Slightly outclassed by the European contingent in the Breeders' Cup Mile earlier this month, Tom's Tribute returns to his favorite course Friday as the horse to beat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.

Contested at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, the Seabiscuit was formerly known as the Citation when it was run at the now-defunct Hollywood Park.

A four-year-old colt trained by Jim Cassidy, Tom's Tribute was dominant over the Del Mar turf during the summer meet, taking the nine-furlong Eddie Read as well as the Del Mar Mile. Despite getting a favorable pace setup, the son of Lion Heart was only seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile, five lengths behind longshot winner Karakontie.

Also exiting the Mile is Kaigun, who was a non-threatening 10th as a 42-1 longshot. Winner of the Play of the King at Woodbine in August, Kaigun was a sharp second to Wise Dan in the Maker's 46 Mile in April and later occupied the same slot in the Manhattan at Belmont Park and Woodbine Mile.

The top three finishers from the October 4 City of Hope at Santa Anita -- Big Bane Theory, Mr Commons and Avanzare -- all return for the Seabiscuit. Only Big Bane Theory has run in the interim, with that five-year-old finishing a distant fifth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last time.

Za Approval, a multiple Grade 3 winner who was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Woodbine Mile and Shoemaker Mile last year, struggled earlier in the year before taking an overnight stakes, the $98,000 Real Courage, over seven furlongs at Belmont last time.

The field is rounded out by Skyring, a multiple Grade 2 winner; Pure Tactics, winner of the $80,000 Lure at Santa Anita by more than six lengths last out; Lil Bit O'Fun, who took the $95,000 Wickerr at Del Mar in July; and last-out $98,000 California Flag Handicap hero Boozer. 

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Tom's Tribute faces nine in Seabiscuit at Del Mar

Tom's Tribute will go for his third stakes win of the year at Del Mar (Benoit Photos)

Slightly outclassed by the European contingent in the Breeders' Cup Mile earlier this month, Tom's Tribute returns to his favorite course Friday as the horse to beat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.

Contested at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, the Seabiscuit was formerly known as the Citation when it was run at the now-defunct Hollywood Park.

A four-year-old colt trained by Jim Cassidy, Tom's Tribute was dominant over the Del Mar turf during the summer meet, taking the nine-furlong Eddie Read as well as the Del Mar Mile. Despite getting a favorable pace setup, the son of Lion Heart was only seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile, five lengths behind longshot winner Karakontie.

Also exiting the Mile is Kaigun, who was a non-threatening 10th as a 42-1 longshot. Winner of the Play of the King at Woodbine in August, Kaigun was a sharp second to Wise Dan in the Maker's 46 Mile in April and later occupied the same slot in the Manhattan at Belmont Park and Woodbine Mile.

The top three finishers from the October 4 City of Hope at Santa Anita -- Big Bane Theory, Mr Commons and Avanzare -- all return for the Seabiscuit. Only Big Bane Theory has run in the interim, with that five-year-old finishing a distant fifth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last time.

Za Approval, a multiple Grade 3 winner who was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Woodbine Mile and Shoemaker Mile last year, struggled earlier in the year before taking an overnight stakes, the $98,000 Real Courage, over seven furlongs at Belmont last time.

The field is rounded out by Skyring, a multiple Grade 2 winner; Pure Tactics, winner of the $80,000 Lure at Santa Anita by more than six lengths last out; Lil Bit O'Fun, who took the $95,000 Wickerr at Del Mar in July; and last-out $98,000 California Flag Handicap hero Boozer. 

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Penn National postpones stakes due to impending storm

The overwhelming threat of a Thanksgiving Eve holiday snowstorm set to hit the mid-Atlantic region has forced the cancellation of Wednesday night's Holiday Racing Festival at Penn National.

The entire 10-race card, featuring three rich stakes including the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap, has been rescheduled for Saturday night. First post time is 6:00 p.m. (EST).

"With the weather services calling for the storm, this was the logical call," said Director of Racing Eric Johnston. "We spoke with the local horsemen and consensus was that in the best interest of safety for all parties, the program should be cancelled. Many of the horses that were entered in the stakes were coming in from other tracks, and there is no guarantee that they, or many of our fans, would have be able to get here if all the weather reports for the region prove to be on target."

The Fabulous Strike, the $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies, and the $100,000 Swatara are the final three legs of an early Pick Four. The Fabulous Strike Handicap, which drew a field of 12, and the Swatara, are both part of the Penn Gaming Challenge.

The Food For Friends Charity Food Drive to support the Racetrack Chaplaincy Food Bank, has also been rescheduled for Saturday evening.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Penn National postpones stakes due to impending storm

The overwhelming threat of a Thanksgiving Eve holiday snowstorm set to hit the mid-Atlantic region has forced the cancellation of Wednesday night's Holiday Racing Festival at Penn National.

The entire 10-race card, featuring three rich stakes including the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap, has been rescheduled for Saturday night. First post time is 6:00 p.m. (EST).

"With the weather services calling for the storm, this was the logical call," said Director of Racing Eric Johnston. "We spoke with the local horsemen and consensus was that in the best interest of safety for all parties, the program should be cancelled. Many of the horses that were entered in the stakes were coming in from other tracks, and there is no guarantee that they, or many of our fans, would have be able to get here if all the weather reports for the region prove to be on target."

The Fabulous Strike, the $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies, and the $100,000 Swatara are the final three legs of an early Pick Four. The Fabulous Strike Handicap, which drew a field of 12, and the Swatara, are both part of the Penn Gaming Challenge.

The Food For Friends Charity Food Drive to support the Racetrack Chaplaincy Food Bank, has also been rescheduled for Saturday evening.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Don't Tell Sophia a heavy favorite to take Falls City

Don't Tell Sophia seeks to become the first horse in 50 years to win the Spinster and Falls City in the same season (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Don't Tell Sophia looks to cap an outstanding season on Thanksgiving Day as she faces nine rivals in the Grade 2, $200,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs over 1 1/8 miles.

A six-year-old daughter of Congrats, the $1,000 yearling purchase has bankrolled more than $1.3 million for trainer Phil Sims, who co-owns the mare with Jerry Namy. She's enjoyed her most successful season this term, winning four stakes including a mild upset victory over Close Hatches in the October 5 Spinster at Keeneland.

That Spinster win avenged an earlier loss to Close Hatches in the Azeri at Oaklawn last March, and she finished ahead of that rival again last time in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, where she beat all save likely three-year-old filly champion Untapable.

Don't Tell Sophia was made the 6-5 morning line favorite for the Falls City, a race she finished second in a year ago in her lone defeat in four outings over Churchill's main track.

Molly Morgan, who's finished behind Don't Tell Sophia in their two latest face-offs, has racked up several big wins this year in the latter's absence, including Grade 2 scores in the Fleur de Lis Handicap and Chilukki under the Twin Spires. The Dale Romans trainee was also a game winner of the Gardenia at Ellis Park in August.

Flashy American, who won the 2013 Locust Grove and ran third in the Falls City later that autumn, captured the Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne in April and later placed in the Fleur de Lis and Delaware Handicap. However, she's been unplaced in her last two starts in stakes company at Saratoga and Indiana Grand.

Others of note in the Falls City lineup are Teen Pauline, who captured the Top Flight Handicap, Ladies Handicap, and Affectionately last winter at Aqueduct for trainer Todd Pletcher; Tiz Windy, a three-year-old daughter of Street Sense who captured the Indiana Oaks by 2 3/4 lengths most recently; and Strut the Course, who invades from Canada after taking the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf on Woodbine's Polytrack by five lengths on November 1.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Don't Tell Sophia a heavy favorite to take Falls City

Don't Tell Sophia seeks to become the first horse in 50 years to win the Spinster and Falls City in the same season (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Don't Tell Sophia looks to cap an outstanding season on Thanksgiving Day as she faces nine rivals in the Grade 2, $200,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs over 1 1/8 miles.

A six-year-old daughter of Congrats, the $1,000 yearling purchase has bankrolled more than $1.3 million for trainer Phil Sims, who co-owns the mare with Jerry Namy. She's enjoyed her most successful season this term, winning four stakes including a mild upset victory over Close Hatches in the October 5 Spinster at Keeneland.

That Spinster win avenged an earlier loss to Close Hatches in the Azeri at Oaklawn last March, and she finished ahead of that rival again last time in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, where she beat all save likely three-year-old filly champion Untapable.

Don't Tell Sophia was made the 6-5 morning line favorite for the Falls City, a race she finished second in a year ago in her lone defeat in four outings over Churchill's main track.

Molly Morgan, who's finished behind Don't Tell Sophia in their two latest face-offs, has racked up several big wins this year in the latter's absence, including Grade 2 scores in the Fleur de Lis Handicap and Chilukki under the Twin Spires. The Dale Romans trainee was also a game winner of the Gardenia at Ellis Park in August.

Flashy American, who won the 2013 Locust Grove and ran third in the Falls City later that autumn, captured the Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne in April and later placed in the Fleur de Lis and Delaware Handicap. However, she's been unplaced in her last two starts in stakes company at Saratoga and Indiana Grand.

Others of note in the Falls City lineup are Teen Pauline, who captured the Top Flight Handicap, Ladies Handicap, and Affectionately last winter at Aqueduct for trainer Todd Pletcher; Tiz Windy, a three-year-old daughter of Street Sense who captured the Indiana Oaks by 2 3/4 lengths most recently; and Strut the Course, who invades from Canada after taking the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf on Woodbine's Polytrack by five lengths on November 1.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

The Pizza Man adds spice to Hollywood Turf Cup

The Pizza Man boasts a field-best 111 BRIS Speed rating and is easily tops in Prime Power (Four Footed Fotos)
The Grade 2, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup has retained its name after being transplanted to Del Mar, but the 1 1/2-mile test has a new niche on the calendar as the seaside track's Thanksgiving Day feature. Spicing up the holiday offering are a trio of shippers -- Illinois-bred celebrity The Pizza Man and the Graham Motion duo of progressive four-year-olds Holiday Star and Alakazan Alakazan.

The Pizza Man brings the deepest dish of form, thanks to a fourth to English invader Hillstar in the October 19 Canadian International in his latest. The Roger Brueggeman charge recorded a lofty 111 BRIS Speed rating in defeat, by far the best of anyone in this field. The form of the Woodbine centerpiece has also held up in the interim. Third-placer Dynamic Sky has since come back to take the Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct, turning the tables on Canadian International runner-up Big Blue Kitten.

Over the summer, The Pizza Man was unbeatable at Arlington. The five-year-old son of turf champ English Channel capped a five-race winning streak with notable scores in the Stars and Stripes and in the American St Leger, defeating an international cast in the latter.

Although drawn widest of all in post 11, The Pizza Man has good tactical speed to mitigate the damage. Regular rider Florent Geroux makes the trip to keep the partnership going.

Augustin Stable's homebred Holiday Star is qualified to live up to his name on Thanksgiving. Third to subsequent Arlington Million upsetter Hardest Core in the Cape Henlopen at Delaware, the improving son of Harlan's Holiday missed in two photos in the John's Call at Saratoga and the PTHA President's Cup at Parx before earning a breakthrough in the Sycamore at Keeneland.

Motion's other hope, Alakazan Alakazan, is not to be overlooked. A Stud TNT homebred, the Brazilian import emulated his half-brother, Group 1 hero Vitoria Olimpica, by romping in the same race at Gavea in his career debut. Alakazan Alakazan didn't continue to follow the same trajectory, however, and was unplaced in his only other outing in his homeland. He's improved on a step up to marathon trips of late, finishing second to eventual Dueling Grounds Derby winner My Afleet in a Saratoga allowance and wiring a similar event at Kentucky Downs.

Holiday Star lures Hall of Famer Mike Smith aboard, while Alakazan Alakazan picks up the valuable services of Rafael Bejarano.

Of the California squad, Finnegans Wake takes a big class drop off a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Formerly based at Churchill with Dale Romans, the veteran campaigner joined Peter Miller this fall. Finnegans Wake made a strong Santa Anita debut in the John Henry Turf Championship, closing boldly for second, and promises a similar effort back at this level. Note that he reunites with Victor Espinoza, who guided him to his lone career stakes win in the Arlington Handicap in July.

Irish Surf, fourth in this race as a sophomore last year, is arguably stronger now and tackling his best distance. In his most recent try at 1 1/2 miles, the son of Giant's Causeway and Surfside crushed the Cougar II in track-record time over Del Mar's Polytrack. Subsequently fifth in both the Pacific Classic and John Henry at 1 1/4 miles, he exits a second in the 1 3/4-mile Las Vegas Marathon on the Santa Anita dirt.

Mystery Train ranks as the 126-pound highweight in light of his two Argentinean Group 1 victories in May. He has yet to duplicate that form in two U.S. starts for Darrell Vienna, tiring to a remote ninth in the Pacific Classic and sixth in the Awesome Again. Unplaced in his only turf attempt in his native Argentina, Mystery Train figures to flash speed but must show that he's capable of sustaining it here.

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The Pizza Man adds spice to Hollywood Turf Cup

The Pizza Man boasts a field-best 111 BRIS Speed rating and is easily tops in Prime Power (Four Footed Fotos)
The Grade 2, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup has retained its name after being transplanted to Del Mar, but the 1 1/2-mile test has a new niche on the calendar as the seaside track's Thanksgiving Day feature. Spicing up the holiday offering are a trio of shippers -- Illinois-bred celebrity The Pizza Man and the Graham Motion duo of progressive four-year-olds Holiday Star and Alakazan Alakazan.

The Pizza Man brings the deepest dish of form, thanks to a fourth to English invader Hillstar in the October 19 Canadian International in his latest. The Roger Brueggeman charge recorded a lofty 111 BRIS Speed rating in defeat, by far the best of anyone in this field. The form of the Woodbine centerpiece has also held up in the interim. Third-placer Dynamic Sky has since come back to take the Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct, turning the tables on Canadian International runner-up Big Blue Kitten.

Over the summer, The Pizza Man was unbeatable at Arlington. The five-year-old son of turf champ English Channel capped a five-race winning streak with notable scores in the Stars and Stripes and in the American St Leger, defeating an international cast in the latter.

Although drawn widest of all in post 11, The Pizza Man has good tactical speed to mitigate the damage. Regular rider Florent Geroux makes the trip to keep the partnership going.

Augustin Stable's homebred Holiday Star is qualified to live up to his name on Thanksgiving. Third to subsequent Arlington Million upsetter Hardest Core in the Cape Henlopen at Delaware, the improving son of Harlan's Holiday missed in two photos in the John's Call at Saratoga and the PTHA President's Cup at Parx before earning a breakthrough in the Sycamore at Keeneland.

Motion's other hope, Alakazan Alakazan, is not to be overlooked. A Stud TNT homebred, the Brazilian import emulated his half-brother, Group 1 hero Vitoria Olimpica, by romping in the same race at Gavea in his career debut. Alakazan Alakazan didn't continue to follow the same trajectory, however, and was unplaced in his only other outing in his homeland. He's improved on a step up to marathon trips of late, finishing second to eventual Dueling Grounds Derby winner My Afleet in a Saratoga allowance and wiring a similar event at Kentucky Downs.

Holiday Star lures Hall of Famer Mike Smith aboard, while Alakazan Alakazan picks up the valuable services of Rafael Bejarano.

Of the California squad, Finnegans Wake takes a big class drop off a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Formerly based at Churchill with Dale Romans, the veteran campaigner joined Peter Miller this fall. Finnegans Wake made a strong Santa Anita debut in the John Henry Turf Championship, closing boldly for second, and promises a similar effort back at this level. Note that he reunites with Victor Espinoza, who guided him to his lone career stakes win in the Arlington Handicap in July.

Irish Surf, fourth in this race as a sophomore last year, is arguably stronger now and tackling his best distance. In his most recent try at 1 1/2 miles, the son of Giant's Causeway and Surfside crushed the Cougar II in track-record time over Del Mar's Polytrack. Subsequently fifth in both the Pacific Classic and John Henry at 1 1/4 miles, he exits a second in the 1 3/4-mile Las Vegas Marathon on the Santa Anita dirt.

Mystery Train ranks as the 126-pound highweight in light of his two Argentinean Group 1 victories in May. He has yet to duplicate that form in two U.S. starts for Darrell Vienna, tiring to a remote ninth in the Pacific Classic and sixth in the Awesome Again. Unplaced in his only turf attempt in his native Argentina, Mystery Train figures to flash speed but must show that he's capable of sustaining it here.

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La Verdad takes historic run at Fall Highweight

La Verdad looks to become the first female to win the Fall Highweight since 1986 (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

La Verdad could add her name to an illustrious list of female winners of the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, the Thanksgiving Day feature at Aqueduct.

Although the historic six-furlong dash has not been won by a filly or mare since Funistrada took the 1986 renewal, the race has been a vehicle to greatness for such outstanding specialists like Ta Wee (1969-70), What Summer (1977-78), Chou Croute (1972), Gold Beauty (1982), Honorable Miss (1975), and First Flight (1948).

The 1914 inaugural was won by Comely, who has a nine-furlong stakes for three-year-old fillies run in her honor at the Big A on Saturday.

La Verdad has won 10 of her past 15 starts, including the course-and-distance Distaff Handicap in April and four stakes restricted to New York-bred fillies and mares. A narrowly beaten second in the Gallant Bloom Handicap two back, she is undefeated in four starts over Aqueduct's main track.

"It's a tough spot -- there's a lot of speed in the race -- but she's done very well since the Iroquois and it was a choice between that and the Garland of Roses (on December 6)," said trainer Linda Rice, who saddled last year's Fall Highweight winner Palace. "I'd say right now, we're pointing towards the Fall Highweight for her."

Trainer David Jacobson's entry of Salutos Amigos and Strapping Groom was made the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Fall Highweight. A dynamite 3 1/4-length winner of the Bold Ruler Handicap late last month, Salutos Amigos was wheeled back one week later for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, where he finished seventh after a slow start and wide trip.

"Salutos Amigos shipped great back from California, and also to California, both ways," Jacobson said. "I think his performance was spectacular; getting beat just three lengths in any Breeders' Cup race is awesome."

Runner-up in last year's Fall Highweight, Strapping Groom went on to take the Tom Fool Handicap and Gravesend Handicap over the inner track, but has not been seen since a fifth-place finish in the Carter Handicap in April.

"Strapping Groom is doing well," Jacobson said. "We've had some trouble with his feet, quarter cracks, but we've got him good now and we think he's going to run a bang-up race. Both he and Salutos Amigos are spectacular horses that we've done very well with, and I expect both of them to bring their 'A' game."

Strapping Groom was cross-entered to Wednesday night's Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National. Also cross-entered there and to the Fall Highweight is River Rocks, a sharp second in the Kelso Handicap prior to a fourth-place effort in the Bold Ruler as the even-money choice.

Others of note in the Fall Highweight are True North runner-up Bakken, eighth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after a rough trip, and the turf sprint specialist Tightend Touchdown, who won over Aqueduct's main track the last time he tried dirt in a May 2013 optional claimer/starter allowance.

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La Verdad takes historic run at Fall Highweight

La Verdad looks to become the first female to win the Fall Highweight since 1986 (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

La Verdad could add her name to an illustrious list of female winners of the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, the Thanksgiving Day feature at Aqueduct.

Although the historic six-furlong dash has not been won by a filly or mare since Funistrada took the 1986 renewal, the race has been a vehicle to greatness for such outstanding specialists like Ta Wee (1969-70), What Summer (1977-78), Chou Croute (1972), Gold Beauty (1982), Honorable Miss (1975), and First Flight (1948).

The 1914 inaugural was won by Comely, who has a nine-furlong stakes for three-year-old fillies run in her honor at the Big A on Saturday.

La Verdad has won 10 of her past 15 starts, including the course-and-distance Distaff Handicap in April and four stakes restricted to New York-bred fillies and mares. A narrowly beaten second in the Gallant Bloom Handicap two back, she is undefeated in four starts over Aqueduct's main track.

"It's a tough spot -- there's a lot of speed in the race -- but she's done very well since the Iroquois and it was a choice between that and the Garland of Roses (on December 6)," said trainer Linda Rice, who saddled last year's Fall Highweight winner Palace. "I'd say right now, we're pointing towards the Fall Highweight for her."

Trainer David Jacobson's entry of Salutos Amigos and Strapping Groom was made the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Fall Highweight. A dynamite 3 1/4-length winner of the Bold Ruler Handicap late last month, Salutos Amigos was wheeled back one week later for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, where he finished seventh after a slow start and wide trip.

"Salutos Amigos shipped great back from California, and also to California, both ways," Jacobson said. "I think his performance was spectacular; getting beat just three lengths in any Breeders' Cup race is awesome."

Runner-up in last year's Fall Highweight, Strapping Groom went on to take the Tom Fool Handicap and Gravesend Handicap over the inner track, but has not been seen since a fifth-place finish in the Carter Handicap in April.

"Strapping Groom is doing well," Jacobson said. "We've had some trouble with his feet, quarter cracks, but we've got him good now and we think he's going to run a bang-up race. Both he and Salutos Amigos are spectacular horses that we've done very well with, and I expect both of them to bring their 'A' game."

Strapping Groom was cross-entered to Wednesday night's Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National. Also cross-entered there and to the Fall Highweight is River Rocks, a sharp second in the Kelso Handicap prior to a fourth-place effort in the Bold Ruler as the even-money choice.

Others of note in the Fall Highweight are True North runner-up Bakken, eighth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after a rough trip, and the turf sprint specialist Tightend Touchdown, who won over Aqueduct's main track the last time he tried dirt in a May 2013 optional claimer/starter allowance.

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Past Thanksgiving champs Delaunay, Gantry square off again

Delaunay and Gantry have won the past three Thanksgiving 'Caps between them (Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography)
If it hadn't been for Delaunay, Gantry would enter Thursday's $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds as a three-time defending champion. The 2011 Thanksgiving hero played second fiddle to Delaunay in the 2012 renewal, and in the absence of his nemesis last year, Gantry regained his crown. Now Delaunay is back for the holiday feature, and looking to confirm his superiority over his frequent rival.

Gantry had ruled the roost in the Fair Grounds sprint division during the 2011-12 meet, sweeping the Thanksgiving, the F.W. Gaudin Memorial and the Duncan F. Kenner. The Ron Faucheux trainee later romped by five lengths in the Smile Sprint on Calder's Summit of Speed program and even attempted the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

But Delaunay, a $40,000 claim by owner Maggi Moss and trainer Tom Amoss in May 2012, took Fair Grounds by storm in the 2012-13 season. The Smoke Glacken gelding dethroned Gantry in the meet's sprint series, beating him by 2 1/2 lengths in the Thanksgiving 'Cap and by more than four lengths in both the Gaudin and Kenner. Delaunay made it six straight stakes wins with another romp in the Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day 2013. Freshened after a pair of losses that summer, Delaunay resurfaced in the January 25 Gaudin Memorial and led throughout, disposing of Gantry again by 3 1/4 lengths.

The rivals have since gone their separate ways, and both are entering off layoffs. Delaunay's 2014 highlights include a 3 1/2-length decision in the May 31 Aristides back at Churchill and a close second in the June 27 Iowa Sprint to Work All Week, the eventual Breeders' Cup Sprint winner. Meanwhile, Gantry switched to turf, winning the Colonel Power here before unplaced efforts in both the April 12 Shakertown at Keeneland and the June 21 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint.

Training sharply ahead of his comeback, Delaunay rates as the 9-5 favorite with James Graham. Gantry, to be ridden as usual by Richard Eramia, is listed at 9-2. Neither has ever finished worse than second on this track.

The one who would have been most likely to disrupt that stat, Heitai, is expected to scratch after his upset loss here on Sunday. The 2-1 second choice on the morning line, the Louisiana-bred speedster had bolted five clear of Delaunay in the March 8 renewal of the Kenner.

Lemon Drop Dream, third to Heitai and Delaunay in the Kenner, capitalized on a pace meltdown to pick up the pieces next time in Oaklawn's Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. The Steve Asmussen colt was no match for the free-wheeling Happy My Way in the Maryland Sprint on Preakness Day, and hasn't hit the board in five subsequent tries.

Worth a look as longshots are Nates Mineshaft, unbeaten from five career Fair Grounds starts and exiting a near-miss in the Bet on Sunshine at Churchill, and Take It Like a Man, claimed out of a 6 3/4-length rout at Keeneland.

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Past Thanksgiving champs Delaunay, Gantry square off again

Delaunay and Gantry have won the past three Thanksgiving 'Caps between them (Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography)
If it hadn't been for Delaunay, Gantry would enter Thursday's $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds as a three-time defending champion. The 2011 Thanksgiving hero played second fiddle to Delaunay in the 2012 renewal, and in the absence of his nemesis last year, Gantry regained his crown. Now Delaunay is back for the holiday feature, and looking to confirm his superiority over his frequent rival.

Gantry had ruled the roost in the Fair Grounds sprint division during the 2011-12 meet, sweeping the Thanksgiving, the F.W. Gaudin Memorial and the Duncan F. Kenner. The Ron Faucheux trainee later romped by five lengths in the Smile Sprint on Calder's Summit of Speed program and even attempted the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

But Delaunay, a $40,000 claim by owner Maggi Moss and trainer Tom Amoss in May 2012, took Fair Grounds by storm in the 2012-13 season. The Smoke Glacken gelding dethroned Gantry in the meet's sprint series, beating him by 2 1/2 lengths in the Thanksgiving 'Cap and by more than four lengths in both the Gaudin and Kenner. Delaunay made it six straight stakes wins with another romp in the Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day 2013. Freshened after a pair of losses that summer, Delaunay resurfaced in the January 25 Gaudin Memorial and led throughout, disposing of Gantry again by 3 1/4 lengths.

The rivals have since gone their separate ways, and both are entering off layoffs. Delaunay's 2014 highlights include a 3 1/2-length decision in the May 31 Aristides back at Churchill and a close second in the June 27 Iowa Sprint to Work All Week, the eventual Breeders' Cup Sprint winner. Meanwhile, Gantry switched to turf, winning the Colonel Power here before unplaced efforts in both the April 12 Shakertown at Keeneland and the June 21 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint.

Training sharply ahead of his comeback, Delaunay rates as the 9-5 favorite with James Graham. Gantry, to be ridden as usual by Richard Eramia, is listed at 9-2. Neither has ever finished worse than second on this track.

The one who would have been most likely to disrupt that stat, Heitai, is expected to scratch after his upset loss here on Sunday. The 2-1 second choice on the morning line, the Louisiana-bred speedster had bolted five clear of Delaunay in the March 8 renewal of the Kenner.

Lemon Drop Dream, third to Heitai and Delaunay in the Kenner, capitalized on a pace meltdown to pick up the pieces next time in Oaklawn's Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. The Steve Asmussen colt was no match for the free-wheeling Happy My Way in the Maryland Sprint on Preakness Day, and hasn't hit the board in five subsequent tries.

Worth a look as longshots are Nates Mineshaft, unbeaten from five career Fair Grounds starts and exiting a near-miss in the Bet on Sunshine at Churchill, and Take It Like a Man, claimed out of a 6 3/4-length rout at Keeneland.

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Trading Leather, Up With the Birds get in light exercise

Last year's Irish Derby winner Trading Leather was the subject of a positive report from Pat O'Donovan, assistant to trainer Jim Bolger, after the four-year-old put in some light exercise over the Tokyo dirt course Monday in preparation for Sunday's Group 1 Japan Cup.

"He just stretched his legs this morning and he did a right-handed jog just to let him see his new environment," O'Donovan explained. "He's in good form and he's moving well."

Trading Leather has not seen the winner's circle since his classic score in June 2013, but he has been placed in a number of Europe's most important races in the interim. The Godolphin colorbearer has run just four times this year, most recently finishing third in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 13.

"He was trained specifically for this race," O'Donovan added. "He's had a light season and since his last start in September, he regularly did some fast work once a week. He's had his fast work done and he was very fit coming here, so all we want to do is maintain his fitness."

Canadian raider Up With the Birds enjoyed an easy morning Monday after galloping Sunday.

"The gallop yesterday was very easy and quiet," said Mark Ramsammy, assistant to trainer Malcolm Pierce. "He came out of it very well and he's in very good condition. We just wanted to let him stretch his legs--not do too much, and he won't do any more fast work until the race."

Up With The Birds, Canada's Horse of the Year of 2013, won last year's Jamaica Handicap and added the Nijinsky in July. The Sam-Son Farm homebred was most recently second in the Knickerbocker on October 11.

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Trading Leather, Up With the Birds get in light exercise

Last year's Irish Derby winner Trading Leather was the subject of a positive report from Pat O'Donovan, assistant to trainer Jim Bolger, after the four-year-old put in some light exercise over the Tokyo dirt course Monday in preparation for Sunday's Group 1 Japan Cup.

"He just stretched his legs this morning and he did a right-handed jog just to let him see his new environment," O'Donovan explained. "He's in good form and he's moving well."

Trading Leather has not seen the winner's circle since his classic score in June 2013, but he has been placed in a number of Europe's most important races in the interim. The Godolphin colorbearer has run just four times this year, most recently finishing third in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 13.

"He was trained specifically for this race," O'Donovan added. "He's had a light season and since his last start in September, he regularly did some fast work once a week. He's had his fast work done and he was very fit coming here, so all we want to do is maintain his fitness."

Canadian raider Up With the Birds enjoyed an easy morning Monday after galloping Sunday.

"The gallop yesterday was very easy and quiet," said Mark Ramsammy, assistant to trainer Malcolm Pierce. "He came out of it very well and he's in very good condition. We just wanted to let him stretch his legs--not do too much, and he won't do any more fast work until the race."

Up With The Birds, Canada's Horse of the Year of 2013, won last year's Jamaica Handicap and added the Nijinsky in July. The Sam-Son Farm homebred was most recently second in the Knickerbocker on October 11.

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Ben's Cat tries for Fabulous Strike three-peat

Ben's Cat will face a salty group including Bern Identity (B&D Photography)
Mid-Atlantic icon Ben's Cat will aim for a third consecutive victory in Wednesday evening's $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National. This year's renewal has come up unusually deep, with the likes of Bern Identity, Strapping Groom, River Rocks, Weekend Hideaway and Tightend Touchdown also engaged.

Ben's Cat's task might be eased considerably, however, since the last four are all cross-entered to Thursday's Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

The $2.2-million earner is in the midst of a rare losing streak at the moment. Since scoring a three-peat in the July 12 Parx Dash on turf, the King Leatherbury charge missed by a neck in the September 1 Turf Monster, finished third in the September 27 Laurel Dash, and went down fighting by a half-length in the October 18 Maryland Million Turf. That came over a mile trip that stretches him, however, and the cutback to six furlongs promises to suit much better.

Indeed, Ben's Cat has found the Fabulous Strike the ideal spot to rebound from tough losses, having done so for the past two years. And the eight-year-old veteran is a neck away from already owning a three-peat. Ben's Cat was a troubled third in this race in 2011, when it was known as the Six Bits.

Listed as the 5-1 third choice on the morning line, Ben's Cat will break from post 6 with regular rider Julian Pimentel.

Bern Identity, the 7-2 favorite, has drawn the far outside in post 12. The winner of the Sanford and runner-up to Goldencents in the Delta Downs Jackpot as a juvenile in 2012, he was sidelined for virtually all of his three-year-old season.

Trainer Kelly Breen got him back to top form off an 18-month layoff last summer, and Bern Identity returned to action with a three-race winning streak -- the August 2 My Frenchman at Monmouth, the August 22 Tale of the Cat at Saratoga and the September 6 Dave's Friend at Laurel. Bern Identity has dropped his last pair, finishing third in both the October 3 Phoenix at Keeneland and the November 15 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash back at Laurel. He wheels back on short rest here.

Trickmeister, who exits a third to Bern Identity in the Dave's Friend, has back class and could be sitting on a big effort in his third start off a year-long absence. The four-time stakes winner, and multiple Grade 2-placed performer, has some longshot appeal at 10-1.

Strapping Groom, hero of the 2013 Forego and this year's Tom Fool, was last seen tiring to fifth in the April 5 Carter Handicap. He leads the quartet of those holding an alternate engagement in the Fall Highweight, along with River Rocks, runner-up in the Kelso and fourth in the Bold Ruler in his last two; New York-bred stalwart Weekend Hideaway; and Tightend Touchdown, a frequent rival to Ben's Cat on the turf sprint scene, who was most recently sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. All would be worthy challengers if they opt for Penn National instead.

The Thanksgiving Eve card also offers a couple of stakes appetizers. The $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies has lured a field of nine Pennsylvania-breds, topped by recent allowance romper Brennan and Maryland Million Lassie third Rockin Jojo.

Notable contenders in the $100,000 Swatara, a 1 1/16-mile test, include Stormin Monarcho, coming off a convincing score in the Richard W. Small at Laurel on November 15; his stablemate from the David Jacobson barn, Wealth to Me, who trounced a starter allowance at Belmont last out; Ground Transport, who was just denied in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial; the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Irsaal; and Integrity, third in a tight finish with Golden Ticket and Pants on Fire in the Left Bank two starts back for Chad Brown.

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Ben's Cat tries for Fabulous Strike three-peat

Ben's Cat will face a salty group including Bern Identity (B&D Photography)
Mid-Atlantic icon Ben's Cat will aim for a third consecutive victory in Wednesday evening's $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National. This year's renewal has come up unusually deep, with the likes of Bern Identity, Strapping Groom, River Rocks, Weekend Hideaway and Tightend Touchdown also engaged.

Ben's Cat's task might be eased considerably, however, since the last four are all cross-entered to Thursday's Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

The $2.2-million earner is in the midst of a rare losing streak at the moment. Since scoring a three-peat in the July 12 Parx Dash on turf, the King Leatherbury charge missed by a neck in the September 1 Turf Monster, finished third in the September 27 Laurel Dash, and went down fighting by a half-length in the October 18 Maryland Million Turf. That came over a mile trip that stretches him, however, and the cutback to six furlongs promises to suit much better.

Indeed, Ben's Cat has found the Fabulous Strike the ideal spot to rebound from tough losses, having done so for the past two years. And the eight-year-old veteran is a neck away from already owning a three-peat. Ben's Cat was a troubled third in this race in 2011, when it was known as the Six Bits.

Listed as the 5-1 third choice on the morning line, Ben's Cat will break from post 6 with regular rider Julian Pimentel.

Bern Identity, the 7-2 favorite, has drawn the far outside in post 12. The winner of the Sanford and runner-up to Goldencents in the Delta Downs Jackpot as a juvenile in 2012, he was sidelined for virtually all of his three-year-old season.

Trainer Kelly Breen got him back to top form off an 18-month layoff last summer, and Bern Identity returned to action with a three-race winning streak -- the August 2 My Frenchman at Monmouth, the August 22 Tale of the Cat at Saratoga and the September 6 Dave's Friend at Laurel. Bern Identity has dropped his last pair, finishing third in both the October 3 Phoenix at Keeneland and the November 15 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash back at Laurel. He wheels back on short rest here.

Trickmeister, who exits a third to Bern Identity in the Dave's Friend, has back class and could be sitting on a big effort in his third start off a year-long absence. The four-time stakes winner, and multiple Grade 2-placed performer, has some longshot appeal at 10-1.

Strapping Groom, hero of the 2013 Forego and this year's Tom Fool, was last seen tiring to fifth in the April 5 Carter Handicap. He leads the quartet of those holding an alternate engagement in the Fall Highweight, along with River Rocks, runner-up in the Kelso and fourth in the Bold Ruler in his last two; New York-bred stalwart Weekend Hideaway; and Tightend Touchdown, a frequent rival to Ben's Cat on the turf sprint scene, who was most recently sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. All would be worthy challengers if they opt for Penn National instead.

The Thanksgiving Eve card also offers a couple of stakes appetizers. The $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies has lured a field of nine Pennsylvania-breds, topped by recent allowance romper Brennan and Maryland Million Lassie third Rockin Jojo.

Notable contenders in the $100,000 Swatara, a 1 1/16-mile test, include Stormin Monarcho, coming off a convincing score in the Richard W. Small at Laurel on November 15; his stablemate from the David Jacobson barn, Wealth to Me, who trounced a starter allowance at Belmont last out; Ground Transport, who was just denied in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial; the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Irsaal; and Integrity, third in a tight finish with Golden Ticket and Pants on Fire in the Left Bank two starts back for Chad Brown.

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Hollendorfer fields solid team for Zia Park stakes

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has assembled a solid team for Wednesday's lucrative stakes program at Zia Park. The Hobbs, New Mexico, track offers five Thoroughbred stakes on Thanksgiving Eve, including the $200,000 Zia Park Derby and the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks.

Hollendorfer's Tonito M. has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the 1 1/16-mile Zia Park Derby. Last seen rolling by 2 3/4 lengths in the September 28 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, he notched a field-best 100 BRIS Speed rating that day. The former Puerto Rican star previously finished a distant third to Shared Belief in the Los Alamitos Derby and to the older Soi Phet in the Los Alamitos Mile. Regular rider Rafael Bejarano has the mount.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert is represented by Can the Man, a prominent two-year-old on the Southern California scene in 2013. Sidelined until this summer, the Into Mischief colt made a winning return in the June 7 Affirmed, only to regress badly and retreat to fifth in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby. Can the Man has been freshened since then, and looms dangerous off the break with Martin Garcia.

Alert Bay ships in off a pair of victories at Hastings, where he beat fellow sophomores in the British Columbia Derby and older foes in the BC Premier's Handicap in his latest. Bay of Biscay, second to Tonito M. in the Oklahoma Derby, warmed up with a turf allowance score at his Turf Paradise base. Heading the local contingent is the undefeated Proceed, winner of three stakes for Joel Marr.

Hollendorfer is double-handed in the Zia Park Oaks, also at 1 1/16 miles, with Taste Like Candy and Thegirlinthatsong. Taste Like Candy, second in both the Hollywood Starlet and Santa Ynez last winter, has taken some time to find herself this season. But her last two allowance efforts at Santa Anita were encouraging -- a win on October 9 and a best-of-the-rest performance behind Yahilwa on October 29 -- and the daughter of Candy Ride has earned her way into another stakes try. She was flattered when Yahilwa when came back to win Saturday's Treasure Chest at Delta Downs.

Stablemate Thegirlinthatsong must find a way to reverse form with Oaks morning-line favorite Shanon Nicole, who drubbed her by 5 1/4 lengths in the September 28 Remington Park Oaks. Trained by Mike Maker, Shanon Nicole had landed the Indiana Grand in her prior start, and has been pegged at 2-1 to complete the hat trick here.

The well-bred Cassatt is an excellent rebound candidate for Larry Jones. Always highly regarded, the Tapit filly extended her winning streak to three in the August 9 Monmouth Oaks. Subpar when fifth in the Cotillion and ninth in the Raven Run, Cassatt has been firing bullets of late at Fair Grounds.

Jojo Warrior would warrant great respect as the winner of the Summertime Oaks and Torrey Pines, and third-placer to presumptive champion Untapable in the Cotillion. But co-owner Ahmed Zayat tweeted that she would not run in this spot.

Hollendorfer has entered the five-year-old veteran Blueskiesnrainbows in the $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Handicap. Winless since wiring the San Pasqual in January, the son of English Channel will be making his second start off a seven-month layoff. The 3-1 early favorite will meet such rivals as Code West, Broadway Empire and Isn't He Clever.

The morning-line choice in the $75,000 Zia Park Distaff, Doinghardtimeagain, likewise hails from the Hollendorfer barn. The 5-2 shot has been off form since taking the July 12 Great Lady M at Los Alamitos, however, and must deal with once-beaten Remington invader Fast N Fine Lookin.

Kicking off the Thoroughbred stakes action is the $140,000 New Mexico Eddy County for state-bred juveniles. The first three across the wire in the New Mexico Classic Cup Juvenile for colts and geldings -- Liberty Lover, Caliente Carson (subsequently disqualified) and Lux -- all stretch out to a mile.

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Hollendorfer fields solid team for Zia Park stakes

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has assembled a solid team for Wednesday's lucrative stakes program at Zia Park. The Hobbs, New Mexico, track offers five Thoroughbred stakes on Thanksgiving Eve, including the $200,000 Zia Park Derby and the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks.

Hollendorfer's Tonito M. has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the 1 1/16-mile Zia Park Derby. Last seen rolling by 2 3/4 lengths in the September 28 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, he notched a field-best 100 BRIS Speed rating that day. The former Puerto Rican star previously finished a distant third to Shared Belief in the Los Alamitos Derby and to the older Soi Phet in the Los Alamitos Mile. Regular rider Rafael Bejarano has the mount.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert is represented by Can the Man, a prominent two-year-old on the Southern California scene in 2013. Sidelined until this summer, the Into Mischief colt made a winning return in the June 7 Affirmed, only to regress badly and retreat to fifth in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby. Can the Man has been freshened since then, and looms dangerous off the break with Martin Garcia.

Alert Bay ships in off a pair of victories at Hastings, where he beat fellow sophomores in the British Columbia Derby and older foes in the BC Premier's Handicap in his latest. Bay of Biscay, second to Tonito M. in the Oklahoma Derby, warmed up with a turf allowance score at his Turf Paradise base. Heading the local contingent is the undefeated Proceed, winner of three stakes for Joel Marr.

Hollendorfer is double-handed in the Zia Park Oaks, also at 1 1/16 miles, with Taste Like Candy and Thegirlinthatsong. Taste Like Candy, second in both the Hollywood Starlet and Santa Ynez last winter, has taken some time to find herself this season. But her last two allowance efforts at Santa Anita were encouraging -- a win on October 9 and a best-of-the-rest performance behind Yahilwa on October 29 -- and the daughter of Candy Ride has earned her way into another stakes try. She was flattered when Yahilwa when came back to win Saturday's Treasure Chest at Delta Downs.

Stablemate Thegirlinthatsong must find a way to reverse form with Oaks morning-line favorite Shanon Nicole, who drubbed her by 5 1/4 lengths in the September 28 Remington Park Oaks. Trained by Mike Maker, Shanon Nicole had landed the Indiana Grand in her prior start, and has been pegged at 2-1 to complete the hat trick here.

The well-bred Cassatt is an excellent rebound candidate for Larry Jones. Always highly regarded, the Tapit filly extended her winning streak to three in the August 9 Monmouth Oaks. Subpar when fifth in the Cotillion and ninth in the Raven Run, Cassatt has been firing bullets of late at Fair Grounds.

Jojo Warrior would warrant great respect as the winner of the Summertime Oaks and Torrey Pines, and third-placer to presumptive champion Untapable in the Cotillion. But co-owner Ahmed Zayat tweeted that she would not run in this spot.

Hollendorfer has entered the five-year-old veteran Blueskiesnrainbows in the $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Handicap. Winless since wiring the San Pasqual in January, the son of English Channel will be making his second start off a seven-month layoff. The 3-1 early favorite will meet such rivals as Code West, Broadway Empire and Isn't He Clever.

The morning-line choice in the $75,000 Zia Park Distaff, Doinghardtimeagain, likewise hails from the Hollendorfer barn. The 5-2 shot has been off form since taking the July 12 Great Lady M at Los Alamitos, however, and must deal with once-beaten Remington invader Fast N Fine Lookin.

Kicking off the Thoroughbred stakes action is the $140,000 New Mexico Eddy County for state-bred juveniles. The first three across the wire in the New Mexico Classic Cup Juvenile for colts and geldings -- Liberty Lover, Caliente Carson (subsequently disqualified) and Lux -- all stretch out to a mile.

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In brief

Hall of Fame inductee Silver Charm (Silver Buck) will arrive this week at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Kentucky. A special open house for members of the press as well as the public will be held December 1 from 1-2 p.m. (EST). The now 20-year-old stallion will then enter a 21-day quarantine. It was announced in October by Three Chimneys Farm that the 1997 champion three-year-old colt had been retired from breeding in Japan and would be return to the United States to live out his life at Old Friends. The decision about his retirement was a joint venture among Three Chimneys Farm, Silver Charm's owners Jeff and Beverly Lewis, and the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association (JBBA). Old Friends invites friends and fans and members of the media to come meet the dual classic winner and welcome him back. For additional information please call Old Friends at (502) 863-1775...

The New York State Gaming Commission on Monday approved new rules which establish threshold limits for 24 therapeutic medications and restrict the use of three corticosteroids in racehorses. The new regulations are modeled on uniform medication rules developed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. "These new rules are in the best interest of the health and welfare of the racehorses, the safety of all participants and further promote the integrity of Thoroughbred horse racing," said New York Racing Association Chief Executive Officer and President Christopher Kay. "The adoption of these regulations by the Gaming Commission is another step forward in the ongoing efforts of Thoroughbred racing regulators in many states and other participants to adopt uniform and effective equine medication rules across the country." Last month, Kay expressed the New York Racing Association's enthusiastic support of the new regulations. Kay noted that when the NYRA Reorganization Board was formed in 2012, it established two Board Committees, Equine Safety and Racing, to review and monitor safety, integrity and related medication issues. These Board Committees worked with New York Racing Association management to establish an industry-leading program of surveillance and testing to ensure compliance with the Gaming Commission's medications regulations. Based on input from these committees and experts, the New York Racing Association Board of Directors authorized management to publicly support the proposed regulations, which reflect the organization's continued commitment to equine safety and the integrity of Thoroughbred racing.

In brief

Hall of Fame inductee Silver Charm (Silver Buck) will arrive this week at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Kentucky. A special open house for members of the press as well as the public will be held December 1 from 1-2 p.m. (EST). The now 20-year-old stallion will then enter a 21-day quarantine. It was announced in October by Three Chimneys Farm that the 1997 champion three-year-old colt had been retired from breeding in Japan and would be return to the United States to live out his life at Old Friends. The decision about his retirement was a joint venture among Three Chimneys Farm, Silver Charm's owners Jeff and Beverly Lewis, and the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association (JBBA). Old Friends invites friends and fans and members of the media to come meet the dual classic winner and welcome him back. For additional information please call Old Friends at (502) 863-1775...

The New York State Gaming Commission on Monday approved new rules which establish threshold limits for 24 therapeutic medications and restrict the use of three corticosteroids in racehorses. The new regulations are modeled on uniform medication rules developed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. "These new rules are in the best interest of the health and welfare of the racehorses, the safety of all participants and further promote the integrity of Thoroughbred horse racing," said New York Racing Association Chief Executive Officer and President Christopher Kay. "The adoption of these regulations by the Gaming Commission is another step forward in the ongoing efforts of Thoroughbred racing regulators in many states and other participants to adopt uniform and effective equine medication rules across the country." Last month, Kay expressed the New York Racing Association's enthusiastic support of the new regulations. Kay noted that when the NYRA Reorganization Board was formed in 2012, it established two Board Committees, Equine Safety and Racing, to review and monitor safety, integrity and related medication issues. These Board Committees worked with New York Racing Association management to establish an industry-leading program of surveillance and testing to ensure compliance with the Gaming Commission's medications regulations. Based on input from these committees and experts, the New York Racing Association Board of Directors authorized management to publicly support the proposed regulations, which reflect the organization's continued commitment to equine safety and the integrity of Thoroughbred racing.

Results

NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

PRX, 8TH, AOC, $47,500, 3YO/UP, 6F, 11-24.
8—CAST A DOUBT, g, 5, Wildcat Heir--Casting Pearls, by Fusaichi Pegasus. ($19,000 '10 OBSJAN; $50,000 2011 OBSMAR). O-Marshall K Gramm, B-Shelley Huber (FL), T-Lisa Guerrero, J-Kendrick Carmouche, $27,600.
4—Boogie Too, g, 4, Dixie Union--Lite Twilight, by Twilight Agenda. ($105,000 '11 KEESEP; $225,000 2012 FTFMAR). O-Barbara Hopkins, B-Mueller Farms, Inc (KY), $9,200.
5—Arrogant Officer, g, 5, Officer--Diva Girl, by Saint Ballado. ($5,500 2011 FTMMAY). O-Pipe Dream Racing Stables LLC, B-Alan S Kline Revocable Trust (MD), $5,060.
Winning Time: 1:10 4/5 (wf)
 
ZIA, 8TH, ALW, $32,500, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/16M, 11-24.
2—ILIKEWINNIN, f, 3, Desert God--I Like Tricks, by Tricky Fun. O-Taylor, Dale and Lewis, Lee R, B-Joe Allen (NM), T-Todd W. Fincher, J-Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr., $19,500.
5—Desert Lady, f, 3, Desert God--Special Boot, by Storm Boot. O-Cleber J Massey, B-Cleber J Massey (NM), $7,150.
3—B Bold Cindy, f, 3, Desert God--Bold Jubilation, by Smoke Glacken. ($10,000 '12 RUIJUL). O-Vernon Hauschild, B-Cynthia H Dick (NM), $3,250.
Winning Time: 1:45 2/5 (ft)
 
ZIA, 7TH, ALW, $27,500, 3YO/UP, 6F, 11-24.
7—ZIP TRIP, g, 3, City Zip--Morakami, by Fusaichi Pegasus. ($28,000 '11 KEENOV; $54,000 '12 FTKOCT). O-Teed Off Stable LLC, B-G Watts Humphrey Jr, Susie Keller, Vicki Oliver & G Watts Humphrey III (KY), T-Justin R. Evans, J-Irwin J. Rosendo, $16,500.
3—Turn Up the Lights, g, 3, Touch Tone--Thunderforafantasy, by Thunder Gulch. O-Tom R Durant, B-Tom Durant (TX), $6,050.
1—Jimmy's Date, g, 3, Sought After--Ihaveadate, by Take Me Out. ($4,500 '12 BESJAN). O-Robison, J Kirk and Judy, B-Rancho San Miguel (CA), $2,750.
Winning Time: 1:10 2/5 (ft)
 
MVR, 4TH, ALW, $22,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 11-24.
2—CAVIAR N CHAMPAGNE, m, 5, Formal Dinner--Arctic Dove, by Dove Hunt. ($13,000 '10 OBSAUG). O-Loooch Racing Stable, Inc, B-Dr D W Frazier (OH), T-Jeffrey A. Radosevich, J-Scott Spieth, $13,640.
5—Isadella, m, 5, Kentucky Dane--Adella, by Tejano Run. O-Raymond Donald, B-Divine Intervention Farm (OH), $4,400.
4—Pretty Much Mine, m, 5, Half Ours--Fit N' Pretty, by Fit to Fight. ($30,000 '10 FTKJUL). O-Peter J Sheppell, B-Catherine E Sheppell & William R Sheppell (OH), $2,200.
Winning Time: 1:14 2/5 (gd)
 
FL, 8TH, ALW, $16,900, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1M, 11-24.
4—UNDER OVER, f, 3, Patriot Act--Over Forli (CHI), by Milt's Overture. O-Diamond in the Sky Racing Stable, B-Jonathan Schwartz (NY), T-Michael S. Ferraro, J-Simon P. Husbands, $10,140.
1—Moves Your Soul, f, 3, Jump Start--Woodland Dance, by Woodman. ($9,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Rudina Stable, B-Milfer Farm Inc (NY), $3,380.
3—Brandini, f, 4, E Dubai--Mystical Lady, by Behrens. O-Bond, Tina Marie and Portnoy, Jay, B-Song Hill Thoroughbreds LLC (NY), $1,690.
Winning Time: 1:42 3/5 (gd)
 
TUP, 4TH, ALW, $16,000, 3YO/UP, A7 1/2FT, 11-24.
3—NAVARRE (GB), g, 5, Dansili (GB)--Binche, by Woodman. (52,000gns 2013 TATJUL). O-Rick Nunley, B-Juddmonte Farms Ltd (GB), T-Dan L. McFarlane, J-Drayden Van Dyke, $9,622.
1—Dontmesswithkitten, c, 4, Kitten's Joy--Trio, by Lemon Drop Kid. ($20,000 2012 BESMAY). O-Henry Leong, B-Kenneth L Ramsey & Sarah K Ramsey (KY), $3,104.
4—Coach Royal, g, 5, Lemon Drop Kid--Pagosa Springs, by A.P. Indy. O-James H Glassmeyer, B-Mike G Rutherford (KY), $1,552.
Winning Time: 1:30 1/5 (fm)

Notebooks

DEL MAR NOTEBOOK

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

by John Mucciolo

There was a single graded race this past weekend at Del Mar Race Course.

Red Carpet H. (G3): Team Valor's homebred THREE HEARTS (Hat Trick) swept to the lead nearing midstretch and held sway through the final furlong to post an upset in this turf feature. Trained by Neil Drysdale, the four-year-old filly was a half-length clear late while getting 1 3/8 miles on the firm lawn in 2:15 2/5 under Joe Talamo.

Track Stats

From a total of 34 races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 35 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 59 percent of the wins. From 21 frays contested on the Polytrack oval, 11 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (52 percent), while two of the 13 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (15 percent).

Speed on the main oval was dominant once again with more than half of the races on the Polytrack resulting in a wire-to-wire winner. The trend is especially strong in route races, where four led at each call and another pair fought back from the inside after being passed in the lane. Continue to ride this trend.

Both of the turf wire jobs came in sprint runs, as is often the case here. We noticed this summer that these five-furlong dashes on the green tend to favor early types.

Meet Totals

RACES:   95
POLYTRACK:   62
TURF:   33
FAVORITES:   32 (34 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   24 (25 percent)
TURF WIRE:   7 (21 percent)
POLY WIRE:   27 (43 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (11/20)

5TH -- PIONEER OF THE WEST (Pioneerof the Nile) took command soon after the break and held sway over a tough foe in the lane to graduate for conditioner Mark Casse. The juvenile colt finished up well for a youngster and could have a nice future ahead of him.

CYRUS ALEXANDER (Medaglia d'Oro) ran a big one in defeat, finishing more than eight lengths clear of third in his second lifetime outing. The well-bred Jerry Hollendorfer pupil has run a pair of nice ones to kick-start his career and could be any kind with more seasoning.

Friday (11/21)

2ND -- OLIVIA'S GREATDANE (Ghostzapper) broke much better after a tardy break in her debut and the Bob Baffert filly made good today with an easy tally. The juvenile lass hasn't done much wrong to date and gives the impression of a filly who can run all day.

3RD -- MEMPHIS (Roar) ran a good second on the class rise for conditioner Bob Hess and has never been better than the gelding has shown in his last trio of outings. Getting the Kentucky-bred in the race early has made a big difference.

7TH -- HEAT TRAP (Unusual Heat) returns to this list after another solid effort for conditioner Carla Gaines. The five-year-old mare simply had too much to do at the top of the lane but made a big move from the back to be a clear second.

Saturday (11/22)

7TH -- NICKLAUS WAY (Bluegrass Cat) was the victim of trying to run down lone speed through the lane but soldiered on bravely in a game runner-up showing under Kent Desormeaux. The five-year-old likes this surface and could turn out to be a fine claim for trainer Mike Puype.

9TH -- SAYES SO (Congrats) broke well, sped to the front, and never looked back in posting a sharp debut tally for conditioner Richard Mandella. The sophomore looked the part and could evolve into a nice one with further development.

Sunday (11/23)

8TH – It was nice to see something close to the best of ROUSING SERMON (Lucky Pulpit) in this stakes spot, battling gamely with a nice one until the very end in a sharp effort. The Hollendorfer trainee has a lot of back class and this run could have been a nice confidence booster.

A Look Ahead

A big weekend of racing will take place at Del Mar over the Holiday break. The action kicks off Thursday in the form of the Grade 2, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Friday will play host to the Grade 2, $150,000 Seabiscuit Handicap, while Saturday will boast a pair of big ones -- the Grade 1, $400,000 Hollywood Derby and the Grade 3, $150,000 Native Diver Handicap.

The Grade 1, $300,000 Matriarch Handicap is the Sunday topper, accompanied by the Grade 3, $150,000 Cecil B. Demille Stakes.

Top Speed/Class ratings

NATIONAL

Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3&up Dirt Routes
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Sunbean 4G 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Delta Mile S. 100
Yahilwa 4F 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Treasure Chest S. 97
Lucy's Bob Boy 5G 1 1/8m (ft) CT 11/22 A Huevo S. 92
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3&up Dirt Sprints
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Readthebyline 5G 7f (ft) AQU 11/22 New York Stallion Series S. 100
Calgary Cat 4G 6f (ft) WO 11/23 Kennedy Road S. 98
Big Macher 4G 7f (ft) DMR 11/23 Cary Grant S. 97
Johnny Whip 5G 6 1/2f (ft) RP 11/21 Silver Goblin S. 94
Vicki's Dancer 5M 7f (ft) AQU 11/22 New York Stallion Series S. 93
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3&up Turf
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Lubash 7H 1 1/8m (gd) GPW 11/22 Tropical Turf H. 101
Strike Charmer 4F 1 1/8m (gd) CD 11/22 Cardinal H. 99
Three Hearts 4F 1 3/8m (fm) DMR 11/22 Red Carpet H. 92
Daring Kathy 3F 1 1/8m (gd) GPW 11/22 My Charmer H. 91
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 2 year olds (Dirt)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Ocho Ocho Ocho 2C 1 1/16m (ft) DED 11/22 Delta Downs Jackpot S. 101
Take Charge Brandi 2F 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Delta Downs Princess S. 93
Dom the Bomb 2C 6f (ft) HAW 11/22 Sun Power S. 90
Mississippi Delta 2F 7f (ft) WO 11/22 Glorious Song S. 89
Four Leaf Chief 2C 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Louisiana Legacy S. 87
Wind Chill Factor 2F 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Louisiana Jewel S. 82
Timeaday 2F 6f (ft) HAW 11/22 Showtime Deb S. 77
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3 year olds (Dirt & Turf)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
D'cajun Cat 3G 7f (ft) DED 11/22 Sam's Town S. 95
Grinder Sparksaglo 3G 6f (sy) PM 11/23 Stallion S. 93
Honeycomb Allie 3F 7f (wf) DED 11/22 Orleans S. 86

North American Maiden Winners
Doneraile Court--Betty Is Ready by Red Bullet; PAPERBACK WRITER, f, 2, PRX, Mcl 25000, 11-24, 6f, 1:13 3/5. B-Swallowtail Farm Inc. & Drew Manisca (FL.).
Quien--Bee Sting by Distorted Humor; ZEDONIA, f, 2, MVR, Msw, 11-24, 6f, 1:17 4/5. B-B.A. Man, Inc. & John Elkins (OH.).
Beat the Traffic--Allie P. by Millennium Wind; ALLIE GALE, f, 3, TUP, Mcl 5000, 11-24, 4 1/2f, :52 3/5. B-Jonelle Farms (AZ.).   ***FIRST WINNER FOR SIRE
Northern Afleet--Rowdy by Malibu Moon; SCHARNHORST, g, 3, ZIA, Msw, 11-24, 6 1/2f, 1:15 4/5. B-Mary Voss (MD.). $27,000 '11 KEENOV.
Park Avenue Ball--Tippy Toe Tessa by Swain (IRE); PARK N BROADWAY, f, 3, PRX, Mcl 10000, 11-24, 7f, 1:27 4/5. B-Colonial Farms (NJ.).
Read the Footnotes--Bauhaus Bourbon by Behrens; READ IT AND WEEP, f, 3, MNR, Msw, 11-23, 5 1/2f, 1:07 2/5. B-Delahanty Stock Farm (NY.). $55,000 '12 FTKJUL; $120,000 2013 OBSJUN.
Unbridled Energy--Classy Little Bing by Binalong; BINGING WITH LOVE, f, 3, PRX, Mcl 15000, 11-24, 1m, 1:44 . B-Jack A. White Jr. & Karen White & Pope McLean (KY.).
Great Notion--Effervescent by Citidancer; GREAT ILLUSION, f, 4, PRX, Mcl 10000, 11-24, 7f, 1:26 3/5. B-Jonathan Sheppard (PA.).
Harris Tweed--Medea by Flying Pidgeon; SUGAR RASHAD, g, 4, FL, Mcl 5000, 11-24, 1 1/16m, 1:52 3/5. B-Bruno Schickedanz (ON.).

Top Speed/Class ratings

TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS

Horse   Track   Dist(Cond)   Date   BRIS Class
Ocho Ocho Ocho   DED   1 1/16m (ft)   11/22   121.7
Take Charge Brandi   DED   1m (ft)   11/22   121.1
Honor Code   AQU   6 1/2f (ft)   11/22   121.1
One King's Man   FG   1m 70y (my)   11/23   121.0
Sunbean   DED   1m (ft)   11/22   120.8
Strike Charmer   CD   1 1/8m (gd)   11/22   120.7
Lubash   GPW   1 1/8m (gd)   11/22   120.3
Yahilwa   DED   1m (ft)   11/22   120.1
Calgary Cat   WO   6f (ft)   11/23   119.8
Too Dim   FG   6f (my)   11/23   119.7
More Than Even   RP   1m (ft)   11/20   119.6
Three Hearts   DMR   1 3/8m (fm)   11/22   119.5
School Spirit   DED   7f (ft)   11/20   119.4
Readthebyline   AQU   7f (ft)   11/22   119.3
Cerro (IRE)   LRL   1m (ft)   11/22   119.3

Notebooks

DEL MAR NOTEBOOK

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

by John Mucciolo

There was a single graded race this past weekend at Del Mar Race Course.

Red Carpet H. (G3): Team Valor's homebred THREE HEARTS (Hat Trick) swept to the lead nearing midstretch and held sway through the final furlong to post an upset in this turf feature. Trained by Neil Drysdale, the four-year-old filly was a half-length clear late while getting 1 3/8 miles on the firm lawn in 2:15 2/5 under Joe Talamo.

Track Stats

From a total of 34 races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 35 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 59 percent of the wins. From 21 frays contested on the Polytrack oval, 11 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (52 percent), while two of the 13 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (15 percent).

Speed on the main oval was dominant once again with more than half of the races on the Polytrack resulting in a wire-to-wire winner. The trend is especially strong in route races, where four led at each call and another pair fought back from the inside after being passed in the lane. Continue to ride this trend.

Both of the turf wire jobs came in sprint runs, as is often the case here. We noticed this summer that these five-furlong dashes on the green tend to favor early types.

Meet Totals

RACES:   95
POLYTRACK:   62
TURF:   33
FAVORITES:   32 (34 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   24 (25 percent)
TURF WIRE:   7 (21 percent)
POLY WIRE:   27 (43 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (11/20)

5TH -- PIONEER OF THE WEST (Pioneerof the Nile) took command soon after the break and held sway over a tough foe in the lane to graduate for conditioner Mark Casse. The juvenile colt finished up well for a youngster and could have a nice future ahead of him.

CYRUS ALEXANDER (Medaglia d'Oro) ran a big one in defeat, finishing more than eight lengths clear of third in his second lifetime outing. The well-bred Jerry Hollendorfer pupil has run a pair of nice ones to kick-start his career and could be any kind with more seasoning.

Friday (11/21)

2ND -- OLIVIA'S GREATDANE (Ghostzapper) broke much better after a tardy break in her debut and the Bob Baffert filly made good today with an easy tally. The juvenile lass hasn't done much wrong to date and gives the impression of a filly who can run all day.

3RD -- MEMPHIS (Roar) ran a good second on the class rise for conditioner Bob Hess and has never been better than the gelding has shown in his last trio of outings. Getting the Kentucky-bred in the race early has made a big difference.

7TH -- HEAT TRAP (Unusual Heat) returns to this list after another solid effort for conditioner Carla Gaines. The five-year-old mare simply had too much to do at the top of the lane but made a big move from the back to be a clear second.

Saturday (11/22)

7TH -- NICKLAUS WAY (Bluegrass Cat) was the victim of trying to run down lone speed through the lane but soldiered on bravely in a game runner-up showing under Kent Desormeaux. The five-year-old likes this surface and could turn out to be a fine claim for trainer Mike Puype.

9TH -- SAYES SO (Congrats) broke well, sped to the front, and never looked back in posting a sharp debut tally for conditioner Richard Mandella. The sophomore looked the part and could evolve into a nice one with further development.

Sunday (11/23)

8TH – It was nice to see something close to the best of ROUSING SERMON (Lucky Pulpit) in this stakes spot, battling gamely with a nice one until the very end in a sharp effort. The Hollendorfer trainee has a lot of back class and this run could have been a nice confidence booster.

A Look Ahead

A big weekend of racing will take place at Del Mar over the Holiday break. The action kicks off Thursday in the form of the Grade 2, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Friday will play host to the Grade 2, $150,000 Seabiscuit Handicap, while Saturday will boast a pair of big ones -- the Grade 1, $400,000 Hollywood Derby and the Grade 3, $150,000 Native Diver Handicap.

The Grade 1, $300,000 Matriarch Handicap is the Sunday topper, accompanied by the Grade 3, $150,000 Cecil B. Demille Stakes.

Top Speed/Class ratings

NATIONAL

Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3&up Dirt Routes
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Sunbean 4G 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Delta Mile S. 100
Yahilwa 4F 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Treasure Chest S. 97
Lucy's Bob Boy 5G 1 1/8m (ft) CT 11/22 A Huevo S. 92
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3&up Dirt Sprints
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Readthebyline 5G 7f (ft) AQU 11/22 New York Stallion Series S. 100
Calgary Cat 4G 6f (ft) WO 11/23 Kennedy Road S. 98
Big Macher 4G 7f (ft) DMR 11/23 Cary Grant S. 97
Johnny Whip 5G 6 1/2f (ft) RP 11/21 Silver Goblin S. 94
Vicki's Dancer 5M 7f (ft) AQU 11/22 New York Stallion Series S. 93
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3&up Turf
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Lubash 7H 1 1/8m (gd) GPW 11/22 Tropical Turf H. 101
Strike Charmer 4F 1 1/8m (gd) CD 11/22 Cardinal H. 99
Three Hearts 4F 1 3/8m (fm) DMR 11/22 Red Carpet H. 92
Daring Kathy 3F 1 1/8m (gd) GPW 11/22 My Charmer H. 91
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 2 year olds (Dirt)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Ocho Ocho Ocho 2C 1 1/16m (ft) DED 11/22 Delta Downs Jackpot S. 101
Take Charge Brandi 2F 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Delta Downs Princess S. 93
Dom the Bomb 2C 6f (ft) HAW 11/22 Sun Power S. 90
Mississippi Delta 2F 7f (ft) WO 11/22 Glorious Song S. 89
Four Leaf Chief 2C 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Louisiana Legacy S. 87
Wind Chill Factor 2F 1m (ft) DED 11/22 Louisiana Jewel S. 82
Timeaday 2F 6f (ft) HAW 11/22 Showtime Deb S. 77
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (11/17-11/23) - 3 year olds (Dirt & Turf)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
D'cajun Cat 3G 7f (ft) DED 11/22 Sam's Town S. 95
Grinder Sparksaglo 3G 6f (sy) PM 11/23 Stallion S. 93
Honeycomb Allie 3F 7f (wf) DED 11/22 Orleans S. 86

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Tuesday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Delta Downs   (6th) Pontchartrain, 3-1
    (7th) Excitable Girl, 4-1
Finger Lakes   (2nd) Fancy Pancy, 3-1
    (5th) Readygetsgold, 7-2
Mahoning Valley   (1st) Trinity Revealed, 4-1
    (6th) Canalasso, 8-1
Mountaineer   (2nd) Gotta Runaway, 7-2
    (8th) Spanish Invader, 6-1
Parx Racing   (1st) Rose Buzz, 4-1
    (6th) Red Dirt Racer, 6-1
Turf Paradise   (5th) Skye Memo, 6-1
    (7th) Detention, 7-2

Top Speed/Class ratings

TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS

Horse   Track   Dist(Cond)   Date   BRIS Class
Ocho Ocho Ocho   DED   1 1/16m (ft)   11/22   121.7
Take Charge Brandi   DED   1m (ft)   11/22   121.1
Honor Code   AQU   6 1/2f (ft)   11/22   121.1
One King's Man   FG   1m 70y (my)   11/23   121.0
Sunbean   DED   1m (ft)   11/22   120.8
Strike Charmer   CD   1 1/8m (gd)   11/22   120.7
Lubash   GPW   1 1/8m (gd)   11/22   120.3
Yahilwa   DED   1m (ft)   11/22   120.1
Calgary Cat   WO   6f (ft)   11/23   119.8
Too Dim   FG   6f (my)   11/23   119.7
More Than Even   RP   1m (ft)   11/20   119.6
Three Hearts   DMR   1 3/8m (fm)   11/22   119.5
School Spirit   DED   7f (ft)   11/20   119.4
Readthebyline   AQU   7f (ft)   11/22   119.3
Cerro (IRE)   LRL   1m (ft)   11/22   119.3

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

Announcements

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.