The Player’s Edge – April 26, 2013: Churchill Downs, Hollywood Park, Golden Gate & Pimlico

Profile Picture: Matt Carter

Matt Carter

April 26th, 2013



Photo: Matt Carter

Churchill Downs - Derby Trial Stakes


Hollywood Park - Snow Chief Stakes


Golden Gate Fields - San Francisco Mile


Pimlico - Federico Tesio Stakes


Churchill Downs – Derby Trial Stakes
Opening Day Feature

Keeneland closes on Friday, which means the opening of Churchill Downs is just one day later on Saturday. The 11-race card takes place under the lights with the 89th running of the Derby Trial going as race eight. The one-mile, one-turn race drew a field of nine; let's take a look.

The morning line favorite for the race is Zee Bros and even though he is coming off a maiden race, the Brother Derek colt has a lot of ability and has the highest speed figure in the field. Zee Bros was hammered to even money in his debut, but found one horse better. He then came right back a month ago and scored by a geared down two and one-half lengths. While the distance looks within reach, Zee Bros must avoid a speed duel with the speedy Titletown Five.

Titletown Five has something that the favorite does not and that is experience at Churchill. The son of Tiznow has two starts over the track with a second and a nine-length win last October. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas cuts him back in distance after a ninth place finish in the nine-furlong Louisiana Derby. Gary Stevens gets the call.

Officer Alex, Ruler of Love and Ruble are others who could show speed; however, they look best taking just off the pace. Of the three, Officer Alex and Ruble look like talented sorts.

Officer Alex is riding a two-race winning streak and has won four of seven overall. He won an allowance race at Oaklawn gate to wire then won the $75,000 Bachelor Stakes from off the pace.

Ruble has a similar streak going, winning two straight at Gulfstream Park. The son of Exchange Rate won a six furlong sprint gate to wire then won a mile race over a sloppy, sealed track from the third spot. That mile race is around one turn as is the Derby Trial. Ruble comes in with a solid five furlong drill over the track on Monday.

Forty Tales and Capo Bastone are the other contenders that could upset the favorite. Forty Tales makes his first start since March 2 after finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park. Forty Tales began his career with back-to-back wins and gets the hot-riding Joel Rosario in the irons.

Capo Bastone is the stable mate of Forty Tales and both will be doing their best running late. Capo Bastone had high hopes when he began his career this last summer at Del Mar, but has not lived up to the hype. The son of Street Boss may be an overlay when the gates open on Saturday night.

Rounding out the field are Tour Guide, who adds more pace, and G.T. Tabu, most likely to finish last in the race.

First post on Saturday at Churchill Downs is 6:00 pm ET with the Derby Trial scheduled for 10:42.

Hollywood Park – Snow Chief Stakes
Tiz a Minster Back With State-Breds

The feature race on Saturday, Gold Rush day, at Hollywood Park is the 20th running of the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes. The California-bred stakes race drew a field of eight, led by morning line favorite Tiz a Minster.

Tiz a Minster has been keeping some top company this year running in two of the major three-year-old races at Santa Anita. He finished third, beaten just one length, in the Grade 2 San Felipe then came back to be fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. The winner of that race, Goldencents, is expected to be one of the betting choices in next week’s Kentucky Derby.

Prior to his two graded stake races, Tiz a Minster blitzed Cal-breds in the Breeders’ Championship at Santa Anita. He was sent off at nearly 10-1, but stormed down the outside to win going away. If he gets a solid pace on Saturday, watch out, because his stretch run is electric.

Of the other seven runners in the field, only one of them has been nine furlongs and five of them are stretching out from sprints. Tiz a Minster just may get a favorable pace, which is expected to be led by Fighting Hussar.

Fighting Hussar began his career over this track last June and has run nine times since then. He has fared well in those races, winning twice with two seconds and two thirds. Distance may be his only limitation. The son of Rockport Harbor just finished second, beaten a nose, in the state-bred Echo Eddie. The winner of that race was Omega Star, who is also entered in the Snow Chief.

Omega Star is a California-bred son of Candy Ride, but began his career in New York. After a second place finish at Aqueduct he was shipped west and scored in his first start for trainer John Shirreffs. Omega Star then finished second behind Tiz a Minster in the Breeders’ Championship before a seventh place finish in the Grade 2 San Felipe. He should be pushing the pace under jockey Joe Talamo.

The only colt in the field with a race at nine furlongs aside from the favorite is Nina’s Dragon, who has run the distance twice. In the Grade 2 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, Nina’s Dragon finished second then finished a distant 12th in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. A return to California and a synthetic surface may get the son of Tizbud back on track.

Surfcup is another contender and he may just want to go this route of ground. In three starts around two turns, Surfcup has two wins and a third. Both of those wins were on the turf so he should handle the switch to synthetics. He did run at Hollywood Park last December, but that was in a sprint and routing is his game.

Completing the field are long shots Alydidit, Heat Streaker and Bobo. Post time for the Snow Chief and start of the late double is 8:00 pm ET.

Golden Gate Fields – San Francisco Mile
Grade 3 Turfers

One of the best betting races across the country this weekend is the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields. The 64th running of the $100,000 race drew a full field of 10 with half the field at 8-1 or less.

The morning line favorite for the race Saturday is Summer Hit, who is making his graded stakes debut. The gelded son of Bertrando has six wins in his nine career starts and has never been worse than third. On the turf his record gets even better with three wins in four starts. Now is the time to strike, while the iron is hot.

Tigah and Gallant Son check in next, two old warriors that have 46 starts between the two. The majority of those starts, 34, have been made by Gallant Son, who finished third in this race last year. This year trainer Frank Lucarelli has taken a different path to the race and that may pay off. From post seven he can stalk the favorite from post six.

Tigah is the late threat of the three top choices and drew the rail, so he will be saving all the ground into the first turn. This is the first time the British-bred has been in northern California with his previous six starts taking place at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park; prior to that he was running in France.

If Summer Hit does not want the lead then Barney Rebel will be sure to take it. The Irish-bred son of Holy Roman Emperor began his career in England then just missed in his stateside debut at odds of 30-1. He wasn’t quite that price in his next race, winning an allowance race by a half length. Trainer Dan Blacker moved him right up the class ladder into the Grade 1 Whittingham Handicap in June 2012, which was his last race. He may be ready to roll off the long layoff when the gates pop.

Control Seeker is the other horse at single digit odds and he is another that likes to run on or near the lead. He has run 21 times on the turf with eight wins, two seconds and two thirds. Six of those eight wins have come over the Golden Gate turf.

The others are all long shots, but they may play a big role in the outcome of the race. Grand Berry, Coach Bob and Charlemagne Wood are all pace players making for a possible scramble for the lead early. Coach Bob is most likely the speed of the speed off a dominant sprint win a month ago.

Hudson Landing and Tribal Tribute are the others and both will be doing their best running late. Tribal Tribute was eighth in the Grade 2 Arcadia and sixth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby while Hudson Landing won the San Francisco Mile last year, defeating Jeranimo and Gallant Son. Hudson Landing; however, looks like he may have lost a step at age six.

This is one interesting race and post time for the mile run is 6:23 pm ET.

Pimlico – Federico Tescio
Local Prep for the Preakness

All eyes are on Kentucky and the Derby, which will be run for the 139th time on May 4, but two weeks after that the racing world will shift their tack to Pimlico and the Preakness. This Saturday is the local prep race for the Preakness, the $100,000 Federico Tesio.

Abstraction was given the roll of the morning line favorite for the Tesio after his daylight maiden win at Fair Grounds in mid-March. The son of Pulpit finished second in his debut then stretched out beautifully in winning his next race. He has been working very well under the twin spires at Churchill Downs and he could be a talented sort.

While the favorite may be the one to beat, he is facing winners for the first time and that is never an easy task, regardless of talent. Six of the other horses in the race, in fact, have won multiple races. The best of those six is Dynamic Strike, who was won three times in five starts.

Dynamic Strike has done all of his running across town at Laurel Park and has yet to step foot on the Pimlico race track. The son of Smart Strike won three of his first four before finishing fifth last month in the $100,000 Private Terms. Dynamic Strike has been working well in the mornings in preparation for the Tesio and looks best to upset the favorite.

Next on the list are a pair of 8-1 shots, Rienzi and Heat Press.

Rienzi started his career at Belmont Park for trainer Chad Brown, but now runs for John Servis. Rienzi went for $350,000 as a two-year-old in training and has won two of four starts, both at Parx. He will likely be on or near the pace under jockey Kendrick Carmouche.

Heat Press runs for Sagamore Farm and trainer Graham Motion and has two wins in six career starts. The son of Malibu Moon broke his maiden at Laurel last December by 14 lengths then won an allowance race at Parx last month. Motion has called on Edgar Prado, who made a very good combination at the recently concluded Keeneland meet.

Just Win Baby is the bomber, shipping all the way across the country from his home base in Santa Anita. The Florida-bred son of The Daddy broke his maiden at Santa Anita then tried the big boys in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. With his style there was no chance of hitting the board as the Sunland strip was playing to speed all day long. The Pimlico course should play pretty even and has even appeared to play very well towards closers this meet.

The good thing for Just Win Baby is that there does appear to be some pace to set up his late kick, but he is going to need to get moving fast to catch Abstraction.

Handsome Tiger, Wry Me, Indian Companion, Handy Doodle and Wabbajack round out the field.

First post on Saturday at Pimlico is 1:10 ET with the Tesio off at 5:52.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

Great racing action from across the country this weekend.  Watch these races all on

Saturday– April 27

  • Churchill Downs:  Derby Trial Stakes - G3, $175,000, 3yo, 8f
  • Hollywood Park:  Gold Rush Day, 8 California Bred Stakes, Over $1-million Total Purses
  • Golden Gate Fields:  San Francisco Mile - G3, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8f turf
  • Hawthorne:  6 Illinois State-Bred Stakes, $600,000 Total Purses
  • Pimlico:  Federico Tesio Stakes, $75,000, 3yo, 8.5f
  • Pimlico:  Shine Again Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
  • Hastings:  Brighouse Belles Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up f&m, 6.5f
  • Turf Paradise:  Gene Fleming Breeders' Derby, $50,000, 3yo, 8.5f
  • Woodbine:  Jacques Cartier Stakes, $150,000, 4yo & up, 6f

Sunday – April 28

  • Hollywood Park:  Wilshire Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8f turf
  • Hastings:  George Royal Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up, 6.5f
  • Woodbine:  Woodstock Stakes, $150,000, 3yo, 6f