JC / Railbird


Picks, Plays, and Thanks

Belmont Stakes day picks, up on Hello Race Fans.

Kevin Martin, of Colin’s Ghost, asked five handicappers how they would bet the Belmont Stakes with $100. Valerie Grash offers some pedigree plays that hold up even with I’ll Have Another’s sudden retirement.

As for that, like everyone else on hearing the news, I was disappointed. What a letdown! But, like everyone else, I can’t see that trainer Doug O’Neill and owner Paul Reddam did anything but their best by the horse, scratching him when he came up with a sore tendon after galloping on Friday.

Team IHA also did right by the bettors — imagine the outcry there would have been if I’ll Had Another had finished other than as the winner and it emerged — as it would have — that he had had some heat and swelling in his left front leg and so wasn’t 100 percent. Oh, we would have howled! How could they let us bet him? How could they have run him?

By putting the horse first, they protected the horseplayer.

Breeders’ Cup Links

This is the third Breeders’ Cup week I’ve worked, the second on Breeders’ Cup 360, and the one thing each week has had in common is that I always think there’s going to be time to post on Railbird — and there never is. So, why not visit the site that’s taking up all my time? We have John Scheinman live blogging from Churchill Downs, post-race interview live video, picks from the BC360 handicappers, Ernie Munick on a horse, Euro commentary from Nick Luck, and, of course, on scene tweets. Looking for more picks? Visit the Hello Race Fans picks page or the HRI Breeders’ Cup Classic media picks. I went out on a limb with Paddy O’Prado in the latter, seduced by the good looking gray’s sparkling morning moves over the Churchill surface.

Preakness Picks

Mea culpa: Super Saver never appeared on my top 10 list before the Kentucky Derby. He didn’t appear on any of my tickets Derby day either, despite one small mention I made Derby week of his positive attributes. (I can’t toss him? Well, I did.) For the Preakness, though, I’m on the bandwagon. Despite Todd Pletcher’s concern that 14 days may be too quick a turnaround (a worry Andrew Beyer knocks down), all reports are that the colt came out the Derby in excellent condition and is exercising enthusiastically at Pimlico. With little pace expected, and his now proven versatility, Super Saver will be tough to beat in the Preakness. I’ll be playing an exacta with Caracortado, the California-bred gelding with an ugly Santa Anita Derby running line shipping east for the first time. He’s fresh, he has heart, and he prefers to be forwardly placed, a running style that should suit a race without much speed.

More picks: Horserace Insider, The Rail, Hello Race Fans.

Calvin Borel walks back: Flush with the immediate thrill of a Derby win, the jockey made a bold prediction. “I’m going to win the Triple Crown this year.” This week, he’s feeling more circumspect:

“I knew if he could win the Derby, he’d be really tough in the next two legs,” said Borel. “But to predict a Triple Crown? You just can’t do that. Man, winning it is tough to do.”

Pletcher is feeling good:

“It’s a challenge, for sure. But it’s something you look forward to. To me, there’s nothing as exciting in this game as potentially going to the Belmont with a Triple Crown candidate, and that’s certainly what we’re hoping for.”

Kenny Mayne checks in from Baltimore:

As I climbed four flights of stairs I wondered if we’d have to airlift Hank Goldberg onto the roof. He’s weighed down by that much money.

Changing the subject: I’ve been meaning to return to Wednesday’s post on the Breeders’ Cup, in which I glossed over a couple important points; I might wait another day or two to do so, considering the news this afternoon that MI Developments has voided the Oak Tree at Santa Anita contract. Regarding the discussions between the Breeders’ Cup and Oak Tree about hosting the event permanently at Santa Anita, Oak Tree executive Sherwood Chillingworth commented, “This certainly could affect that in some way.” Understated.

Elsewhere: A short piece about fractions for Hello Race Fans.