THE TIP-OF-THE-WEEK

March 27, 2019: It Takes Guts

Another weekend of final Derby and Oaks preps found some more victories for our Gut Handicapping. The premise of Gut Handicapping for these races has been to beat the heavy favorites in them. Why didn’t it work for the earlier preps, you ask? Well, the final preps for both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks make the fields deeper in talent. Everyone is vying for those points to get into the Derby or Oaks. The temporary closure of Santa Anita has also caused some differences this year as we saw in last week’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

 

For example, the Sunland Derby run last Sunday saw a deep field with the usual Kentucky Derby trainers of Baffert, Pletcher, and Asmussen entering horses. Of course, Baffert’s Much Gusto went off as the heavy favorite. However, using our Gut Handicapping, we stayed away from that one and landed on the winner, Pletcher’s Cutting Humor. Our guts were saying that the trainer wouldn’t be using his go to jockey Johnny Velazquez on a horse with no chance.

Does this outcome mean Cutting Humor should be one of our Derby contenders?

 

Maybe not, because of what the runner-up, Anothertwistafate did. Remember the Kentucky Derby is run at a distance of a mile and a quarter, whereas, these final preps are run at a mile and an eighth. Showing a great closing kick, Anothertwistafate raised our eyebrows, as did the fact his sire is Scat Daddy, who just happens to be the sire of Triple Crown winner, Justify. So, the plot thickens.

 

What about Derby contenders coming out of the other prep run last weekend, the Louisiana Derby? Our Gut Handicapping came through again, when the heavy favorite War of Will finished up the track. Even though he wasn’t trained by Bob Baffert, the horse went into the race undefeated on dirt.

 

Being familiar with the configuration of the Fairgrounds track might have aided your gut handicapping in this case. The Fairgrounds race track is one mile in circumference and has one of the longest stretches in North America. With those long stretches, the turns become very sharp. Jockeys who ride there for the meet know that to start a horse on the far turn usually means there won’t be much in the tank mid-way through the stretch.

 

That’s exactly what happened to the favorite War of Will. He was four wide around the sharp first turn, then three wide on the far turn, where his jockey started to rouse him. So, with the heavy favorite out of the picture, the local connections of jockey Gabriel Saez and Bret Calhoun saw their charge By My Standard win and pay a nice $47.

 

How could we possibly land on that long shot you ask? Well, there were seven horses going off at double-digit odds. If you were to place win bets on all of them, your payoff would be still very nice in terms of an ROI. A similar thing happened in the Fairground Oaks Saturday, where the heavy favorite Serengeti Empress was pulled up and trainer Larry Jones, who seems to own this race had the winner, Street Band paying $10.90 and third place finisher Sweet Diane paying $18.20. Does this mean we are to always bet the local connections in these races? No, it means the preps at the Fairgrounds seem to lend themselves to these long shot winners.

 

We have to find out if our Gut Handicapping will hold for another weekend with the Florida Derby being run Saturday. The race has produced many eventual Kentucky Derby winners with Todd Pletcher’s Always Dreaming being the last one to do so. With such success, his horses will probably be the heavy favorites, which means we look elsewhere, right?

March 21, 2019: Patience Really Does Pay Off (Sometimes)

Finally! Finally, our Gut Handicapping paid off in last weekend’s Derby prep, The Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Actually, it paid off twice, since the race had two divisions as a result of 19 horses entered overall for the stakes. The closure of Santa Anita and subsequent cancellation of the San Felipe, a Derby prep had much to do with this anomaly. Bob Baffert sent both of his undefeated three-year-olds, Game Winner and Improbable to run in it. Sure, you could say Baffert always has his charges run well at Oaklawn Park, therefore, both were legitimate favorites in each of the divisions and worthy of our bankrolls.

 

However, it is typically a successful move when he ships his top three-year-olds in for the Arkansas Derby as a final prep for the Kentucky Derby. With Game Winner being the reigning BC Juvenile winner and subsequent Eclipse Award recipient in that category, his odds weren’t worth the effort of a wager on him. There was also the fact that both Baffert runners were coming off layoffs of several months. All of these items led us to look elsewhere among the entries.

 

That elsewhere led to another Derby Prep angle, namely, successful Derby prep jockeys that ship in for such races wherever they are being run. So, we looked at the big name jockeys shipping in to ride. Of course, there is no bigger name in the sport when it comes to stakes racing than Mike Smith, or as Baffert calls him, Big Money Mike. Smith’s mount, Omaha Beach’s payoff for a win bet was a double digit $10.80, which wasn’t bad for a horse considered the main competition for the favorite.

 

The other division of the race found Long Range Toddy paying $18.80 in his win over heavy favorite, Improbable, the other Baffert shipper coming off a layoff. How could anyone land on the winner? Another Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen owns the meet at Oaklawn Park on an annual basis, so, had six entries overall, with two in the first division and four in the second.

 

Why would we land on the Asmussen winner in the first division and ignore the Mandella runner in that race, but do the opposite in the second division? Well, we didn’t. Unlike a Horseplayer’s contest where the Derby Prep race would be mandatory single-win bet, we could make win bets on several horses in each race. Now, we didn’t want to make too many bets, thereby, diminishing our winnings, so, we looked for those horses having improving form, which is pure Gut Handicapping.

 

Overall, now that we have had a taste of successful Gut Handicapping, we can look forward to using the same tools for the remainder of the Derby preps. As the final preps approach in March, many of the runners will have established a running style, which can put Head Handicapping into the mix as well.

March 14, 2019: Goldilocks strikes again

So, how did the Gut Handicapping of last week’s Derby preps go? What’s that you’re saying? Not very good? Your gut led you to the favorites because those horses had the trainers and jockeys who usually win the preps. What do we have here, a Goldilocks scenario? You can’t use your Head Handicapping because the horses don’t have enough races under their girths and you can’t use your Gut Handicapping because the same connections have the best three-year-olds running and wind up as the winning favorites. The whole idea here was trying to come up with some long shots in these Derby preps in a similar way the horseplayers in a contest would have to bet on these races because they were mandatory ones.

 

Look, we feel your pain, we’ve all been there. The horseplayers aren’t going to take the favorites because it won’t help their cause. So, they try and figure out which horses have a running style that would at least contend at the distance or have connections that are locally based, thereby, giving them an edge of sorts. Like the horseplayers, if you were to just bet the favorite, your payoff and ROI will be so low, it’s not worth the bet. However, say you can find a long shot or even a middle-odds horse, who is showing improved performances or performances that aren’t green anymore. Take a flyer on that kind and your ROI will be good enough to last you the whole card, if not making your whole weekend bankroll.

 

How about going back to the drawing board and use your Head and Gut handicapping to find some worthwhile wagers. The most you lose is a small bet, but the most you can gain is….

March 7, 2019: Now that's using your Gut

Continuing with our discussion about our treating Derby preps like they were mandatory wagering races in a horseplayer contest. Last week, we wanted to try our Head Handicapping tool to figure out how such a race will unfold. Horseplayers may use speed figures for this exercise, but we could just use the running styles and fractional times found in the past performance columns of a race entry. Whatever variation you chose, could you figure out how the race would unfold? What’s that you’re saying? The problem you’re having with figuring out how the Derby preps will unfold isn’t the use of speed figures or the running styles or fractional times. The problem is that the three-year-olds don’t have a lot of races under their girths to make a good decision on who are the pace setters, or off-the-pace types, or even the closers. Also, throw in that their speed figures were probably made in races of shorter distances.

 

Understood. Thankfully, we have other handicapping tools in our Anatomy of Horse Race Handicapping, like Gut Handicapping. With Gut Handicapping, we try to find entries with some good form established. Of course, with only a few races, established form is typically not found. However, what about the form of the trainers or jockeys riding in the preps? With the preps being the feature races on a card, we can find out, which trainers shipping in horses typically do well in that prep. The well-known trainers of three-year-olds will not want them to go head-to-head until the Derby, so they spread them out across the country for the all-important final preps run at a mile and an eighth.

 

Gut Handicapping dictates that the same trainers and jockeys shipping into these preps have success at winning them year after year. With this annual success, their horses become the favorites. Our Gut Handicapping will have us digging around the form of all the entries to find out if the favorites are deserving of all that wagering or is there some hidden form in the other entries going off at higher odds.

 

Sure, it is difficult to go against a heavy favorite in any Derby prep, so, unlike the horseplayers facing a mandatory, we really don’t have to wager, we can just watch. We can also structure a bet around the long shots because we don’t have to make a win bet only, like the contestants. Use your options. Construct a good wager if you can and when you can’t, then just watch and take notes that will serve you well in future Derby preps.

 

February 28, 2019: Handicapper AND Horseplayer

Last week, we were throwing out there the idea to treat the Derby prep races like they were mandatory races to bet in a horseplayer contest ala the NHC. The preps run so far have given us heavy favorites in the winner’s circle. In a contest, you don’t play these kinds of favorites. You need to look for some nice payouts. So, how do the horseplayers find long-shots, or even middle-shots, in fields with heavy favorites? Well, using the same tools we do of course.

 

If a horseplayer says they use the speed figures, then we can go a step further and say we are Head Handicappers per our Anatomy of Horse Race Handicapping. Head handicapping means we look at the past performances, specifically two sections. The columns that show a horse’s position in a prior race and the fractional times of the race. The positions information serves to tell us the running style of a horse, while the times tell us how fast the race was run at various points, whereby, we can determine things like who the pace setters were and if their speed held or was challenged.

 

Horseplayers on the other hand, who say they are speed figure reliant, typically use the Beyer speed figures or something like them. These numbers tell us the fastest a horse has run in its prior races. The key thing to look for is the triple-digit speed figure. What happens if more than one horse posted the same high number? Well, that’s where our Head Handicapping looks at running style. Are there any closers or off-the-pace types with a speedy kick down the stretch? If two really fast horses duel, they will likely be overcome by the horses with those late kicks. How do we determine what horse will do what? Again, it’s in their established running styles and how fast they ran in which part of their prior races.

 

So, give some Head Handicapping a try this weekend. Try to figure out how a race will unfold using this information including the speed figs if you’d like. You don’t have to wait for a Derby prep. Just look over a race card for the race that you can readily use your head handicapping tools.

 

February 21, 2019: Derby Prep Tip?

About this time last year, the eventual Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year, Justify, burst onto the racing scene. Does this mean, we should start paying attention to the Derby pointed three-year-olds?  What’s that you’re saying? You’ve been watching them since they were two. Then you might have noticed, there tends to be a big difference with the crop between two and three. New faces appear like Justify did last year or the rest of the crop has grown up and gotten some race experience under their girth.

 

Even with these additions and differences, the majority of preps have resulted in chalky favorites winning so far this year. Sure, come March, the waters deepen as the distances get longer. However, the crop is still spread out by running in the many preps held at tracks throughout the country. They are destined to collide come the first Saturday in May though, but in the meantime, what do we do, since this spreading lends itself to heavy favorites succeeding. Bottom line, as always: how to we make a profit with heavy favorites?

 

Maybe we can look to our horseplayers in the NHC to get some handicapping tips. There are no mandatory races for us, but what if we treated the Derby preps as mandatory though? Our horseplayers wouldn’t key in on the chalky favorite would they? No, they would use their handicapping tools (whatever they may be) to come up with a long shot. Why not follow their lead and do the same. If will don’t find a viable long shot, just skip the race and make it a watch-only event. Maybe just place a small wager on a long shot, thereby, saving our bankrolls for races on the card that appeal to our handicapping better? Give it a try, and who knows, you might just find out how to make a profit on a Derby prep when your long shot comes in!

February 14, 2019: Handicapper or Horseplayer?

The biggest thing to happen this past weekend in horse racing wasn’t a stakes race, but a human contest. The National Horseplayer Championship or NHC was held this past weekend with the winner receiving a nice check for $800K and even getting an Eclipse Award for the year’s top horseplayer.

 

Before you look where to sign up for next year’s event, you have to qualify at one of the live contests held regularly at a variety of tracks or web sites. To find out more about the qualifying events, just search NHC, and note, they say horseplayer, not handicapper. What’s the difference, you ask. There are several. First, be warned that the rules for each tournament may vary and the emphasis is always on gambling expertise rather than pure handicapping.

 

Here’s what we mean. The contest held last weekend required 18 win or place bets to be made on Friday and Saturday with 8 each day being on mandatory races. Payoffs are capped at 20-1 for win bets and 10-1 for place ones. This handicapping for a single winner is quite the opposite of what we talk about in the Anatomy of Horse Race Handicapping. We attempt to get your handicapping in-line with how you make decisions naturally. We emphasize finding races that appeal to your handicapping and find the contenders in those races with the tools of handicapping with your head, eyes, gut, heart, and the pedigree, in other words, in the ways you make decisions.

 

By restricting your bets to a $2 amount and to single win or place bet per race, the second decision we talk about of developing a betting strategy for our contenders doesn’t exist. What results is gambling, pure and simple. Sure there are what the NHC calls bankrolls. The top 10% at the end of Saturday’s play go onto a semi-final round on Sunday morning. That group has to bet on 10 races at eligible tracks with none being mandatory. The 10 highest bankrolls after that round go to a final table. Their bankrolls carry to the final, where wagers are on 7 mandatory races.

 

If you followed the action this past weekend, you may have notice that these horseplayers’ skills at handicapping for sloppy conditions were no better than most of us. The fields of the last mandatory race of the final round was reduced to 4 horses. It was interesting to watch the various methods of choosing horses that abounded. Many of them relying on speed figures or trip handicapping, which we know from following the Anatomy of Horae Race Handicapping is rather limiting.

 

However, the live contests to qualify are fun to try, so, we won’t criticize playing in them. As long as you don’t get frustrated by the outcome because you have to think differently by always looking for “the winner” in a race not of your choosing. So, give one of these contests a try, if for no other reason than to use your handicapping tools for the “game” of horse racing.

February 7, 2019: Rain Rain Go Away

 

Well, another weekend of stakes racing run on sloppy tracks. How can we ever construct the “perfect” bet with these kind of conditions every weekend? It’s difficult enough to make winning bets of any kind with dry conditions, but with the rains, we really need to save our efforts until the sun shines again, if it ever does-sigh. Thankfully, there’s plenty of stakes racing this weekend. We have the prep for the Tampa Bay Derby, the Sam Davis, and the prestigious Las Virgenes for the three-year-old fillies, and several turf events with big fields. That is big fields IF it doesn’t rain again.

 

So, we go back to our game plan where we handicap a race card. Pick a card, any card at a meet you typically follow. Look over the race conditions of each race. Look over the fields. Find one that appeals to your handicapping, then drag out your handicapping tools whether Head, Gut, Eye, Pedigree, or even Heart handicapping or some combination of them. Pick your contenders in that race and find a bet type that matches the contenders chosen. The overall goal is to get a high return without betting our entire bankrolls.

 

It all sounds so simple, but we know it’s not. With all these rainy race days, we might even forget about why we love the sport so much. As a reminder, here’s an excerpt from our book The Anatomy of Horse Race Handicapping Or How to Have Fun at the Track:

 

“With horse racing, you're getting to participate in pure theater. There's the build-up to the race, as the horses and their jockeys parade in front of us. Then, after you give them a careful look, you're diving into the race program. In one ear, you're listening to your friends argue in support of their picks, like lawyers giving closing arguments in a trial. In the other ear, you're listening for any late changes being announced. Finally, you get out of your seat to place a carefully constructed bet. As you receive your bet slip, it feels like you just bought a piece of a race horse. You picked it and it is running for you. Then the moment has arrived. All your focus is on the starting gate, as you get to watch the kind of drama only horse racing can provide. As the horses speed around the track, you strain your ears to hear the announcer calling your horse's name. It seems like they have been on the backstretch for an eternity, when suddenly, there they are turning for home. You find yourself on your feet; yelling your horse onward. As they cross the finish line neck and neck, you then anxiously await the results to appear on the tote board. Will the number of "your" horse appear first or second. The waiting seems to take forever. Then in a flash, your brief ownership in the horse pays off and you have bragging rights, at least until the next race.”

 

January 31, 2019: Going for the WHOLE card

As predicted, Justified ran away with the 2018 Horse of the Year Eclipse title last week riding on the juggernaut that is Bob Baffert. Baffert’s horses will be a reoccurring theme in 2019 as well given the amount of Derby and Oaks prospects he has in his barn. This weekend, we have the Bob Lewis Stakes, a Derby prep for the three-year-olds going a mile and an eighth. So, it will be no surprise that his entries will be the heavy favorites and it will be no surprise when his entry wins it.

 

While we mean no disrespect to the Hall of Fame trainer, his horses present a problem in our quest for the “perfect” ticket. As we saw in the Pegasus World Cup, although the heavy favorite Accelerate did not win, another favorite, City of Light did. How did you construct a wager using those kind of favorites, whereby, you optimized your return on it? It was tough given the outcome which would have you wagering far more of your bankroll than you perhaps wanted to get a return not worth the effort. The weather conditions might have done us a favor however, where we just decided we are not mudders when it comes to handicapping and avoided betting on the race altogether.

 

With the powerful Baffert barn in the west and the always potent Pletcher stable in the east, the Derby preps will continue to present the same problems for our handicapping. It doesn’t mean we should avoid the preps because you just might find a long shot in the field. One who shouldn’t be a long shot, but is overlooked by the aura of Baffert and Pletcher when it comes to these races.

 

It might be better to focus our handicapping tools on an entire card rather than the stakes race of the week. By handicapping the entire card, we might just stumble upon the race type that appeals to our handicapping. Now, it could be a race where our Head Handicapping results in our easily figuring out how the race will unfold. It could be a race at a track where we find successful angles or what we call Gut Handicapping

 

Handicapping an entire card is not as much work as one would think, especially if you aren’t in the habit of having to make a wager on every single race offered. Give it a try, who knows, it may lead to that elusive perfect wager.

January 24, 2019: Raising the Stakes!

We continue our quest this weekend, whereby, we resolved in 2019 to construct the “perfect” wager. Last week, we suggested looking through the various race cards offered to find a race that appealed to your handicapping eye, skills, talents, whatever you want to call it. The Palos Verdes Stakes caught our eye last Saturday. After all, who could resist a race featuring a Breeders’ Cup winner at any time of the year, let alone January? BC Sprint champ, Roy H. was making his 2019 debut in the hopes of winning the stakes for a consecutive year.

 

Unfortunately, looking over the competition, it appeared that only Roy H. could beat Roy H. as he went off at the lowest odds possible. So, how can we construct a “perfect” wager with a favorite like that? Sure, if you’re a bridge jumper, you just plop $100K to show on him and take a nickel on a dollar. Let’s face it, if we had that kind of money to play with, we certainly didn’t get it by making foolish decision.

 

Not giving up on the race, our thoughts turned to a multi-race wager like a Pick 3. That meant we had to find races surrounding the Stakes that appealed to our handicapping or else we’d just be throwing away our bankroll hitting the “all” button. Rarely, do consecutive races appeal to anyone’s handicapping sensibilities, and this case was no different. So, we were left with just watching Roy H. destroy the field in a public workout. (When you think about it, that’s not a bad consolation prize.)

 

This weekend, we are faced with a similar situation in the year’s first BIG day of racing. The Pegasus World Cup is now the world’s richest race, whereby, in its short existence has drawn the country’s best older horses. The short-odds favorite will no doubt be the BC Classic champ Accelerate. So, are we left with trying to find races surrounding the Pegasus to construct our perfect bet? Maybe not, because the day’s card is full of graded stakes, therefore, we need to look over each race given us to find that elusive appealing one.

Happy hunting (and watching)!

January 17, 2019: Onward to Perfection!

Last week, we made a New Year’s resolution to achieve the “perfect” wager. Now, it is time to try it, if only because the weekend presents us with a bunch of stakes races. Of course, you don’t have to just pick one of these stakes to attempt perfection. Pick the race type that you usually enjoy handicapping. What’s that? You don’t have success with any race type?

 

No worries. Just go through the cards until you find the races that appeal to you. The races could be a graded stakes or a maiden claimer. Try handicapping each of them, then choose one, the one where you match the handicapping tool or tools to the entries given. Once you choose your contender or contenders, structure a bet with low risk and high reward.

 

Say, you look over the LeComte Stakes at the Fairgrounds on Saturday. It is a graded stakes for three-year-olds and it has Derby points up for grabs. You might want to use some pedigree handicapping given that these horses probably don’t have enough past performances to adequately Head Handicap. You could try some Gut Handicapping too, whereby, you choose the trainers who typically do well in the early Derby prep races.

 

Remember, we are learning what race types will match our natural decision-making. By looking over race cards on days when a variety of race types are offered, we probably will be drawn to one type over the others. Try it. Who knows? You may find out why you have been spending too much wagering on the wrong kind of race types or maybe finding out you just can’t skip any race on a card.

 

We have a whole year to reach this resolution, let’s have some fun along the way!

January 10, 2019: The Perfect New Year's Resolution

As with any New Year, we have predictions (we did our racing ones last week, so, check them out, especially if you need a laugh) and also resolutions. Now, just what resolutions involving our handicapping and/or wagering be? A new year comes around and what do we do?

 

Typically, most of us just revert back to our prior year’s form. If we are Head Handicappers, then we head handicap all the races and follow that with use of the same old bet type. So, how about we start 2019 in a different direction? Let’s strive for perfection. “Huh?” you reply in a manner implying we have lost our minds.

 

Sure, the majority of us never reach perfection in any of our goals, but why not set the bar that high anyway? Once in a rare while, there may be something in sport that can be considered perfection, like Secretariat’s win in the Belmont Stakes. For our handicapping, if we strive for perfection, anything remotely successful would be considered a victory.

 

What it all means is not treating all races the same. Sometimes a race fits our handicapping. Why not turn that around and fit our handicapping to a particular race? We can only work with the fields that are given to us. Sometimes handicapping a field can be so easy and at others times impossible, but we treat them all the same. Therefore, picking the right handicapping tool or tools for a single race allows us to work around the constraints of just using our usual methods of handicapping any and all races.

 

The same thing applies to constructing the “perfect” wager. Typically, we do all this work handicapping a race, then fall back on our usual bet type. What would happen if we gave some thought to constructing a ticket based on the horses we selected as contenders? Would such a move take us any closer to perfection? Well, we don’t know until we try.

 

It won’t be easy, but striving for perfection never is, just ask any athlete. You have to think though, if you are successful for just one race, it could change your old handicapping and wagering behaviors, and isn’t that what resolutions really are?

January 3, 2019: Horsing Around the New Year

Last week we had the obligatory year-in-review for 2018, so, it follows that this week we have the obiligatory predictions for 2019 (Be warned, these were arrived at after too much holiday eggnog!)

 

The New Year kicks off with controversy off the track, as Accelerator is named Horse of the Year over Triple Crown champ Justify. Justify’s connections demand a recount. An additional 2018 votes were found, all cast for Justify. A despondent Accelerator races in the Pegasus World Cup as the heavy favorite, even though he is no longer Horse of the Year. He finishes last after stopping mid-way through the race to gaze out to the ocean.

 

February finds the Derby trail filled with first-time starters. It seems that trainers are following Bob Baffert’s lead and want a fresh horse for the Derby by only racing their charges twice beforehand. In March, Accelerator’s connections make a bid to have him run in, and win, the three California’s Grade 1s for older horses for a second consecutive year starting with the Santa Anita Handicap. Being a Horse of the Year for a minute means he gets a weight allowance of having to carry two riders. When they fight over who gets the reigns, Accelerator dumps them both onto the stretch resulting in a DNF. He is promptly retired.

 

Derby day dawns with a field of twenty heading to the post. Nine of the entries are Bob Baffert’s trainees. Not to be outdone, Todd Pletcher enters nine too. The remaining two spots go to Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen. Brown gets Gary Stevens out of retirement to ride his lone entry. Not to be outdone, Asmussen gets Julie Krone out of retirement to ride his lone entry. For a third year in a row there is record rainfall on Kentucky Derby Day and the Pletcher entry swimming along a sunken rail, with who else but Calvin Borel aboard, wins.

 

Not to be outdone by Churchill Downs, the Preakness is run in record rainfall too achieved with cloud seeding and fog machines. Unfortunately, there was so much fog, a winner couldn’t be determined, so, the whole field is awarded first place, thereby, keeping a Triple Crown possibility alive. Alas, there would be no Triple Crown awarded in 2019 because Chad Brown ran five new shooters in the Belmont, none of which ever ran on dirt before, but all five finish in the money.

 

The Saratoga meet opened in July with the announcement that takeout would be increased to 50%, but the good news according to NYRA was that admission would only be charged to those carrying lawn chairs and coolers. In August, Accelerator comes out of retirement only to run last in the Pacific Classic, as he stopped to gaze out over the ocean once again. He is retired soon afterward, as were all of Pletcher’s and Baffert’s Derby entries by then. As a result of the retirements, and Chad returning his Belmont Stakes runners to the turf, the Pennsylvania Derby draws a three-horse field consisting of all Steve Asmussen runners.

 

American Pharoah’s first crop starts making their two-year-old debuts over the summer and fall of 2019. Not to be outdone, California Chrome’s first crop, although only yearlings, start showing up in the same races. An investigation is launched to find out how they lied about their age to enter the MSW’s for two-year-olds.

 

As the Breeders’ Cup approached, Accelerator comes out of retirement to run in the BC Classic. The connections felt that since the BC was being held inland at Santa Anita, there would be no ocean gazing problems nor would he have to have two riders. He wins it for the second time. Just as it looked as though Accelerator would get his Horse of the Year title restored, Justified gets 2019 write-in votes, even though he did not race during the year.

 

There you have it race fans. Our predictions for 2019 (and if any of them come true, it’s time to find another sport to follow!)