Win Place Show Bet Explained - Horse Race Betting

Playoff Contender or Pretender? West Edition

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation triumphed at the box office this week, inspiring me to make another sequel that no one asked for. Last week, I wrote an unpopular post regarding whether middling Eastern Conference were actual playoff contenders or pretenders so we're going to do the same thing here with the West.
Now, when we usually talk about "contenders," we're talking about title contenders. Not here. None of these teams are competing with Golden State, or even hoping to make the Western Conference Finals. For them, their immediate goal would be to make the playoffs in 2018-19. Or at the very least, credibly contend for a playoff spot. So with that bar in mind, let's examine some of those bubble teams and determine whether those dreams of chasing a playoff berth are legitimate or not.
Dallas Mavericks
"win now" moves
Despite a 24-58 record last year, the Mavericks made some moves that suggest that the playoffs could be on their mind. After all, tanking teams don't give $23 million to a veteran center like DeAndre Jordan otherwise. Moreover, the team moved up to draft Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic, arguably the most "NBA-ready" player in the pool.
an argument for playoff "contender"
On face value, it's silly to think that a 24-58 team could springboard up far enough to get into the playoff conversation, especially out West.
That said, this Mavericks team wasn't a true 24-58 team if you gauge based on point differential, a mark that most statisticians agree is more indicative of future success than pure win-loss standings. The Mavs were only -3.0 in that metric. Not good, obviously, but perhaps not as far away from .500 as the record suggests. If Rick Carlisle and the Mavs wanted to win more games last year, they could have done it; they were essentially pulling "defeat from the jaws of victory" to secure a higher pick.
Now, even if we presume they were better than their record (maybe a 30-35 win team in reality), that would still mean the team has a long way to go. Has the roster improved by 10+ games? Perhaps. Still only 29, DeAndre Jordan hasn't shown any signs of decline yet. He's still one of the best rebounding big men in the league. The team isn't asking this leopard to change his spot or asking him to be a go-to star; they simply want him to give the type of minutes and production that they never got from Nerlens Noel.
And of course, it's hard to ignore the Luka Doncic factor in all of this. After signing with a pro team at age 13 (and playing in the A level at Euroleague since 16), he's had years and years of professional coaching and experience. He should be further along than all his rookie peers in that regard, and a clear contender for Rookie of the Year. He's not some deep-rebuild project; he's a player that was logging nearly 15-5-5 in Europe last year in only 25.0 minutes per game. If he plays 30 minutes a night in the NBA, it's not unreasonable to think he may hit 15-5-5 again.
With Jordan and Doncic in tow, there's clearly a lot of talent on this team: they'll be joining vets like Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes, and Wesley Matthews, as well as second-year guard Dennis Smith. That's potentially 6 starter-level players, with some decent reserves off the bench as well. With that type of talent and balance, the playoffs isn't ridiculous at all.
an argument for playoff "pretender"
There's obviously a huge difference between being a talented rookie and being a productive NBA starter, which the Mavs know all too well based on their own Dennis Smith Jr. last year.
After flashing superstar potential in the Summer League, Smith had his own Rookie of the Year hype. But when the lights came on during the regular season, some of those warts started to show. He racked up decent raw numbers (15.2 points, 5.2 assists per game), but the efficiency wasn't as kind. He shot 39.5% from the field (31.3% from three), to go along with 2.8 turnovers. According to ESPN real plus/minus, his impact was a -3.09 overall. Among starting point guards, that was the second worst in the league (behind only fellow rookie De'Aaron Fox.)
I'm not using those stats to suggest that Smith (or Fox) are "busts," but only to illustrate that it's really hard to be a net "positive" player as a rookie in the NBA. That's a warning for both Luka Doncic, and for Dennis Smith Jr., who clearly has a long way to go before he's a good starter in the league. He should get much better this year with some of the pressure off his shoulders, but it's still optimistic to presume that he'll be "average." And if your starting point guard is below average, then the playoffs are an uphill battle.
Clearly, that's the "half glass empty" approach to the Mavs' playoffs hopes this year: maybe Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic are not ready yet. And if they aren't, then the team has virtually no shot to compete for an 8th seed.
the verdict
Personally I like the Dallas core, both from a talent perspective and from a team chemistry and balance perspective. DeAndre Jordan should be a great fit at center alongside with Dirk Nowitzki or especially Harrison Barnes as a stretch 4. If they can get competent perimeter play, this may be a solid team.
Can "solid" actually make the playoffs in the West? Eh. Probably not. In the stacked West, 45 wins may not even be enough to make the 8th seed. If I had to bet, I would certainly bet against Dallas to make the field.
But hey, that's not the standard here. I'm not picking teams that will make the playoffs. All I'm asking for are teams that can credibly compete for the playoffs. And by that standard, I'm going to label Dallas a contender. Any time a team has a great coach and a solid roster, they're a threat to finish above .500. I anticipate the Mavs hanging tough for the majority of the year; their days of nakedly tanking are behind them.
Denver Nuggets
I'm only including the Denver Nuggets here in case people ask about them. But yes, obviously, they're a true playoff contender. At 46-36, they were one game away from it last season and should only get better this season with a healthy Paul Millsap and an improving Jamal Murray.
Among other teams that missed out last season, I'm also presuming that the Los Angeles Lakers are an obvious playoff contender. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm not going to run through the Sacramento Kings; it's hard to make a case for them as a playoff contender right now.
Los Angeles Clippers
"win now" moves
For the Clippers, the signs that the team wants to compete involve the moves that they did not make. After the Blake Griffin trade, we all pegged them for a deep rebuild. Nope. The Clippers have apparently decided to hang on to the majority of their vets, most notably Lou Williams and Tobias Harris.
While they didn't re-sign DeAndre Jordan, they did bring back Avery Bradley. In fact, Bradley (age 27) is one of the youngest starters on the team along with Tobias Harris (age 26). This is a veteran lineup. The question is: can it be a good one?
an argument for playoff "contender"
Unlike Dallas, the L.A. Clippers don't have far to go to make the playoffs. They somehow finished 42-40 last year (with a +0.0 point differential.) If they can improve by 3-4 wins, they're going to be right in the thick of the playoff race.
And in theory, that can happen. The Clips will presumably get better health from Danilo Gallinari (who played 21 games) and Patrick Beverly (who played 11). Doc Rivers will also have a full season to work in mid-season acquisitions Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley. All four of those players are solid vets and legitimate starting caliber players.
But wait, there's more. The Clips signed veterans Mike Scott and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, in addition to their trade for Marcin Gortat. On their own, none of those guys are world-beaters, but they're all competent rotation players and net "positives". In some ways, the Clippers may be the ultimate mashup of the All-Underrated Team, from their best players like Tobias Harris and Lou Williams all the way down to backups like Boban Marjanovic.
The Clippers may have 8+ decent rotational players all told, which is more than most teams can say. That type of depth can sustain them through the long slog of the regular season and help patch up any damage from injuries that may occur. It's also a higher octane, "stretchier" lineup than they've had in the past, which has been working out well for them so far. If you're looking for a true sleeper for that 8 seed, the Clippers aren't a bad bet at all.
an argument for playoff "pretender"
With the Clippers and most of these "middle class" NBA teams, the difference between contending for the playoffs and tanking often depends on a front office decision. Where there's a will, there's a way.
Does Jerry West and this front office really want to push hard for that 8th seed (and inevitable R1 loss)? In some ways, it may help them. Their path to relevance may be to have a solid .500 season, at which point they can credibly make an argument to star free agents like Kawhi Leonard that they're "one piece away!" from being a legitimate contender.
On the other hand, there's still risk of slippage here. If the Clippers struggle out of the gates (going 10-15 or so), then the franchise may start to doubt that plan and start looking to the future. For their purposes, that would manifest in two ways.
For one, it may be holding a garage sale, and sending off solid vets like Lou Williams to the highest bidder. The Clippers don't have huge assets in their cupboard, but they have a boatload of decent ones. They could land a late R1 pick here, a few R2 picks there... etc. They can cash in their chips and look ahead to next year.
Secondly, that decision would mean more time for their rookie guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. Gilgeous-Alexander, in particular, has a long way to go. He's a long-armed scorer with long-term upside, but he's also a teenager who didn't even start for his entire freshman season at Kentucky. It's hard to imagine him becoming a "plus" starter in the NBA for 2-3 years. And if the Clips hand him 25-30 minutes a night to help him develop, it would basically mean that they're throwing in the towel on the 2018-19 season.
the verdict
I'm torn on this one, just as I was for Dallas. In fact, the Clippers may have an even better argument to make for having a high floor. They have a lot of veterans who should keep them around .500 as long as the team wants to compete.
But my fear for the Clippers (as opposed to Dallas) is that they don't necessarily have major upside either. For the Mavs, there's some hope that Luka Doncic turns out to be a star and jolts them to a whole new level. Meanwhile, the Clippers are older and more set in terms of their value. I'd say they're more likely to win 40 games than Dallas, but Dallas may win anywhere from 30-50; that type of high-variance helps in exercises like this where you want a shot at the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Clippers would need to improve at the margins (better health, better style of play) to really make a "leap" in the standards and a win total in the 45-50 range.
Personally, I don't see that, so I'm going with a reluctant pretender tag here. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below though; there's certainly an argument to make that the Clips are better than the Mavs and some other teams to follow.
Memphis Grizzlies
"win now" moves
As with the Clippers, the Memphis Grizzlies' biggest statement was to keep this core together. They resisted any urge to "blow it up!", perhaps knowing that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol's trade value has dipped anyway. As long as those two suit up, this team won't be actively tanking.
To help them chase the playoffs, the team has added some vets like Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple, in addition to their top pick Jaren Jackson.
an argument for playoff "contender"
Although the team tanked and finished 22-60 last year, the bones of the Mike Conley - Marc Gasol tandem have clearly proven to be playoff-worthy in the past. In fact, they made the playoffs in 7 of the previous 8 seasons.
Conley (30, and coming off injury) and Gasol (33) are definitely in the "back nine" of their NBA careers, but they are still good starters as long as their health holds up. And while Conley's recovering from a dangerous Achilles injury, there's a big distinction between his and Boogie Cousins'. Conley suffered the injury back in November, whereas Boogie tore his Achilles in January. That's a few extra months of rest that should -- coupled with his lighter frame -- make him closer to 100% for the start of the year.
I happen to be a big fan of the Grizzlies' two additions Kyle "Slow-Mo" Anderson and Garrett Temple as well. Neither one have All-Star upside, but they're both heady players with the length to play multiple positions. And while I've been burnt by touting him before in both Minnesota and Golden State, I'm going to keep betting on Omri Casspi (a $2M sign) as a solid rotational player because I'm half-stubborn and half-Jewish. Conley+Gasol don't necessarily need a third star (although a healthy Chandler Parsons would have been nice); they just need some competent role players around them to help keep this team afloat.
With that in mind, rookie Jaren Jackson should be a bright spot for this team as well. His true value is in the long term, where he should ultimately replace Gasol as the franchise center in 2-3 years. However, in the meantime, he can be a jolt of energy and shot blocking for 15 minutes a night to help spark the second unit.
an argument for playoff "pretender"
As mentioned, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are a playoff-worthy tandem when healthy and 100%, but it's hard to claim that they'll be at the peak of their powers. Gasol is clearly showing signs of age, and there's no telling whether Conley will bounce back easily for his own injury as well. Point guard is stacked in the NBA, so losing a step may turn Conley from a fringe All-Star player into an average starter.
If Conley is only average, or even above average, then he's going to have trouble carrying a mediocre roster across the finish line. There are still holes on this roster, especially after Tyreke Evans left in free agency. Having a $20M+ albatross like Chandler Parsons on your books makes "depth" hard to come by, and the Grizzlies will have to be a patchwork operation until that deal expires.
Moreover, there's a concern that the Grizzlies may have been a little bit of "smoke and mirrors" even before Parsons strolled to town and duped them like the Music Man. Memphis made the playoffs in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, but actually had a negative point differential (-0.8) over the course of those two seasons. In the new age of the Western Conference, that type of mediocrity won’t cut it anymore.
the verdict
Again, this is a tough one, because the margin for error on Memphis' playoff chances is thin. If they struggle out of the gates, they may pack it in and turn the reins over to their young guns like Jaren Jackson Jr.
That said, you could see some scenario where Conley and Gasol help this team doggy-paddle and stay afloat for the majority of the season, perhaps winning 40-45 games. It's unlikely to result in a playoff berth, but it's possible. Maybe? Sure why not. I'll be an optimistic and call them a contender. Until the franchise decides to pull the plug, I'm going to have faith in those vets to stay relevant for the course of the year.
Phoenix Suns
"win now" moves
After years of sucking and loading up the "tank," the Phoenix Suns finally appear ready to crank up the gas. With that in mind, they even signed veteran Trevor Ariza to a 1 year, $15M contract. While that does reek of "veteran mentorship" more so than an active pursuit of a playoff appearance, it can work both ways, as J.J. Redick showed in Philadelphia last season.
an argument for playoff "contender"
The Suns' roster is brimming with young talent right now. SG Devin Booker is already a star, and SF Josh Jackson may be poised to join him sooner or later. The fiery wing happened to be my # 1 prospect in his class, with the caveat that he would be a few years away from developing his full potential. But when that happens? Watch out.
The Suns' new top pick is actually further along in that regard. If people haven't seen DeAndre Ayton play yet, you're in for a surprise. There's almost nothing about him that reminds you of a 19-year-old rookie. In terms of his body and his game, he looks like he's 25-30 years old. There will no doubt be some growing pains in terms of his defense and his efficiency, but he's a beast. He put up 20-10 in college, and may be able to reach those marks by Year 2 in the NBA as well.
Meanwhile, the team added vet Trevor Ariza and "college vet" Mikal Bridges, a polished 3+D wing who spent 4 years on campus. Those are exactly the type of player that you'd want surrounding a true big man like Ayton.
Perhaps the biggest change in terms of instant impact may be the coaching upgrade. Likable vet Earl Watson never looked comfortable in his role as a head coach, while new hire Igor Kokoskov comes in armed with experience. If he can carry over some of the success of Quin Snyder in Utah, then this team may take a mini leap based on coaching alone.
an argument for playoff "pretender"
I'm legitimately high on the Suns' core and chances of becoming a force down the road. The only question is: how long will this road be?
In terms of efficiency, Josh Jackson was a poor NBA player last season, and it's hard to expect him to take a major leap right away. DeAndre Ayton and even Mikal Bridges will have issues themselves. Based on college stats, Bridges should be an immediate contributor and "positive," but that didn't happen overnight for 4th-year college studs like Denzel Valentine or Draymond Green. There's a learning curve for almost every rookie. Hell, even Devin Booker (a seasoned vet by Suns standards), still hasn't gotten the grasp of NBA defense yet.
Aside from teach that newfangled concept of defense, Coach Kokoskov will also need to figure out his rotations and his lineup going forward. Point guard is a major question mark. Brandon Knight will be returning from injury, but that may not be a good thing; he's routinely graded as a poor NBA player. At the moment, the Suns don't have viable competition for him on roster either, with only rookie Elie Okobo lurking. I've heard good things about Okobo, but he's a little off my radar. Does the team truly trust the Knight+Okobo combo? Do they intend to play Devin Booker major minutes at PG again? TBD.
Another "TBD" is how the team intends to use T.J. Warren, an effective scorer but non-spacer and iffy defender. Former top picks Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss don't have a clear role for the team moving forward either. All three should be candidates for possible trades -- an uncertainty that may make it difficult to settle on a consistent rotation.
the verdict
Given all this youth, it's really hard to claim the Suns are a viable playoff contender right now. They're firmly in the pretender category to me.
That said, I suspect they'll give it a go this season and try to win games early rather than commit to a full-on tank. If the season slips away in the second half, expect a few questionable injuries to pop up again.
Going forward, I'd compare the Phoenix Suns to the Minnesota Timberwolves from about 2-3 years ago. They have the young talent in place, and simply need to work in better habits and better chemistry (and maybe add one more piece) to see that jolt up into playoff territory.
Again, I'd like to reiterate that all of these teams -- even the ones labeled "Contender" -- are UNLIKELY to make the playoffs in the West. It's a stacked field, where a 45-win team may likely miss out. There are 8 good playoff teams from last year, plus Denver and a LeBron-led Lakers. That's a field that's 10 strong.
But making the playoffs isn't the bar here, it's contending for the playoffs. That means winning enough games to hang around until the last month or the season or so (as opposed to embracing a tank.) Who knows, maybe an injury or two ahead of them clears up the room for a sleeper 8 seed to emerge.
To me, 1-2 of these teams can credibly make a pitch as that dark horse in this upcoming season. I picked Dallas and Memphis from this field to have that puncher's chance, but it's obviously hard to tell this early on.
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Preview of the Woodward Stakes and lots more

Saturday August 31, 2019
Saratoga Race Course
Race: 3 (1:36 PM EST Post)
Prioress Stakes
Break Even is 6 for 6 in her career while winning those 6 starts by a combined 21 lengths. In fact, the closest anyone has ever gotten to this speedy, obscurely bred filly is three quarters of a length. Past that, she’s been running her competition off their feet with supersonic early fractions (on both turf and dirt) yet still has plenty left in the tank down the lane. Note the ridiculously fast work at Churchill on Aug 16 as it signals to me she is sitting on another big race…..obviously hard to go against…………………..Risky Mandate is also unbeaten but in two career starts. Filly by Strong Mandate absolutely whistled in her debut and then came back 32 days later and pulverized a first level Allowance field. She looks like a million bucks physically and has been running a hole in the wind in the mornings……………..Royal Charlotte won her first four career starts including the Grade: 3 Victory Ride Stakes. Filly by Cairo Prince then chased a wickedly fast pace (and the mega talented Covfefe and Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress) in the Grade: 1 Test and folded late. Drops into a more reasonable spot and to a distance to where she is 3 for 3….clearly looks best of the rest.
Race: 10 (5:27 PM EST Post)
Glens Falls
Santa Monica had a traffic issue leaving the half mile pole in her last (costing her valuable momentum) but ran on to miss winning by a length. Good looking, over half million dollar mare is in good form right now and I’m taking her to bounce back in this spot………………The ultra consistent Fools Gold took advantage of Santa Monica’s misfortunate trip in her last and was able to hang in there late to win the Waya Stakes. Respect this filly who has been on the board in 10 of 12 career tries including 8 of 9 on the “weeds”………………….Although Lady Montdore appears to have completely cycled out of form, it must be noted she has the back class to run well here. Also note she is 2 for 2 over the Saratoga turf and 1 for 8 everywhere else………………Honorable Mentions: Get Explicit just missed behind Fools Gold in the Waya while actually finishing ahead of Santa Monica last time out at 23-1. Is she back in form or was that race an anomaly being she hasn’t won a horse race of any kind in almost a year? Your call from there…………….The very cleverly named Mrs. Sippy showed little in her last two races overseas but had rattled off seven good races in a row prior. Goes first time Lasix in her U.S debut here.
Race: 11 (6PM EST Post)
Woodward Stakes
Preservationist may have had several excuses when “weakening” in the stretch of the Whitney last time out. This lightly raced son of Arch was nervous wreck in the post parade, was ridiculously wide on the first turn and may have bounced off a titanic effort in the Suburban in his prior race. If he’s calm in the prerace and gets a good trip, he is my tepid choice in this wide open horse race…………………..In taking Perservationist, Tom’s d’Etat, who is 3 for 3 on this oval, scares the daylights out of me. Not only does he love this surface, but he is clearly in career best form right now. Although only winning one of his last three it must be noted he had legitimate excuses in his two defeats (chased McKinzie three back and then Churchill surface lover Seeking the Soul two back)……looms a big threat here…………………….After chasing and finishing just a length behind the physically imposing and speedy Catalina Cruiser two starts back and then running into a buzz saw in Higher Power in his last (both in California), how on earth is Mongolian Groom 15-1 on the morning line? I mean what am I missing? Although just 1 for 8 in 2019, he is clearly in career best form right now AND he meets no such rivals in this spot……………….Honorable Mentions: I’m not sure what to do Yoshida, who has the rare distinction of being a Grade: 1 winner on both turf and dirt. Albeit, running against some of the best horses in the world in his first three starts of 2019, he didn’t really show all that much. Then, all of a sudden, he runs off the charts in chasing home star older male McKinzie in the Whitney in his last. So exactly which Yoshida shows up on Saturday?.............Go ahead and throw out Wooderson’s lack luster effort two starts back as I’m not sure what happened to him that day. If you do, you’ll see he’s run very well in his other three starts this year, including chasing home Saratoga surface lover Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar last time out…………….Mr. Buff is the razor sharp, in form, speed who draws the rail in this spot. This five year old gelding will be taking a major class hike in this spot but, based off his last two races, might prove difficult to catch late…………………Depending on how he looks in the paddock and in warm ups, I’m leaning towards throwing Vino Rosso out completely. Yes, he looked like a world beater two starts back, and yes, he ran admirably after a “parking lot” wide trip in the Whitney (finished third) and yes, he ripped a hot 5F (:58.3) work last week but I don’t really want him at 7/2 or possibly less by post time. If he beats me, he beats me… but I’ll say it again, I believe he is a little over-rated………………..If you are hunting for an off the charts long shot, take a look at Bal Harbour, who really hasn’t run a bad race in almost a year, highlighted by running lights out against War Story at Monmouth in his last. Note how he came home the last three furlongs in an excellent :36.4.

Kentucky Downs
Race: 8 (5:11 PM EST Post)
Tourist Mile
I love Hembree’s heroic, late running style. Handsome five year old just missed vs tougher two and three starts back and, although checking in sixth his last time out, it must be noted he made up 13 lengths in the final six furlongs of that race, which was against Grade: 1 caliber foes. A repeat performance of that effort here and he should get his picture taken…………………..Next Shares is just 1 for 4 this year but will getting exactly what the doctor ordered in this spot. After running in three consecutive Grade: 1’s, including chasing leading Horse of the Year candidate Bricks and Mortar twice, this six year old gelding will be taking a noticeable class drop here…..figures bang up……………….Snapper Sinclair is 2 for 4 on the turf and 2 for 13 on the dirt, so he logically switches back to his preferred surface in this spot. Judging by his last two races, he is sharp right now and the 1 for 1 (experienced) over this “light bulbed” shaped racetrack is a big plus…………………..Honorable Mentions: Majestic Eagle is a California shipper who is also in good form right now. Closes, and with a plethora of speed signed up in here, he should have a good, solid pace to “run into” late……could better this rating……………………..Mr. Cub is still another who has rounded into top form and could be coming late here……………….Siem Riep and Real Story appear to be the “in form” early speed but could wind up knocking each other out early. Beware if one of them is left alone on an uncontested lead however.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Race: 7 (8pm EST Post)
John C. Mabee Stakes
The recent defeat of Vasilika doesn’t make me lose any confidence in her just yet. This five year old “win machine” might have been the victim of a poorly timed ride by Julien Leparoux while closing late but missing by just a half length in her last. Regular rider Flavien Prat, who knows her like the back of his hand, gets back on and although drawing the wood is a bit of concern, I’m taking her to bounce back in this spot………………….Toinette’s 2019 debut was very good. Filly by Scat Daddy beat high level optionals on this very turf course while making her first start in 9 ½ months. I loved the way she came home with a big move on the turn while getting the final quarter mile in :23.1. If she improves off of that race, and I suspect she might, she figures close………………….Juliet Foxtrot was 1 for 8 overseas but came here in the spring and has done nothing wrong while rattling off three straight impressive and versatile wins. Her speed figures are on par with the top two and her recent works suggest she is sitting on another big race. Lastly, the :17.2 seconds it took her to get the final furlong and a half of that race is strong………………..Honorable Mentions: Paved could be ready to ambush this field. She clearly needed her last, which was her first start in over seven months, where was only beaten by two lengths. Note the “back class” running lines as she ran in five straight Grade: 1’s last year. With the exception of a “good” turf course in none other than the BC Filly and Mare Turf, she ran admirably in all of them. Lastly, the big time rider upgrade should help her also. Bottom line here is she is no easy throw out for me……………………La Force has impressive “back class” in her past performance charts. She’s faced the likes of Unique Bella (twice), Vale Dori, Monomoy Girl and Paradise Woods and held her own. She meets no such rivals here but that 1 for 12 career record on the turf is…well….ugly……………..Elysea’s World can pop a big race now and again but is far too inconsistent to back with any confidence.
Race: 9 (9PM EST Post)
Del Mar Debutante
Back to volatile two year olds in this race. I don’t know about you, but I’m treading lightly here…... Inspiressa is an $850,000 OBS purchase who wired maidens while withstanding pace pressure through fast fractions in her debut. Good looking filly, who will be stretching out and taking a big jump in class, has worked well since…..My best guess in wide open horse race……………….Bast is a well bred, $500,000 filly from the powerhouse Bob Baffert barn who missed the break in her debut and wound up chasing my top choice all the way around the track….. Obvious threat with a better start………………..Pure Xena got hooked in a protracted speed duel yet shook loose late and drew off to win by a colossal margin in her initial outing. No surprise if she outruns this rating……………Honorable Mentions: After winning on both coasts, including at Grade: 3 at Saratoga, Comical might have “bounced” in her last when she showed brief speed yet quickly retreated to last. A bounce back effort here is not out of the question……………Powerfulattraction won her debut then rallied nicely late to get second against a runaway winner in the Grade: 2 Sorrento last time out. Still another who could better this rating……………….What do you make of Leucothea, who showed little in her debut but then ran a hole in the wind, with the addition of Lasix and blinkers, last time out? Filly by Midshipman won by 14 lengths and ran the fastest final time, and by far the highest Brisnet Speed Figure, of anyone in this race that day. Freak performance or a sign of things to come? Find out more about her on Saturday afternoon.

Colonial Downs
Race: 9 (9pm EST Post)
Virginia Derby
English Bee has chased far better in New York in his last two and wasn’t completely embarrassed either time. With this being a sizable serious class drop, he should handle these……………….Tracksmith is 3 for 6 in his career and has come back much improved in 2019. Good looking colt by Street Sense look good while coming from behind to win both starts this year. Steps up here but looms a threat in this spot but he is cross entered for a race in NY…………………..Credit Swap has yet to run a bad race as his 6-2-1-2 record would indicate. Gets the call for the show dough based on his consistency…………………Honorable Mentions: Critical Data has been “beating around the bush” in three tries in this country. Although he’s just 2 for 13 in his career, the “first time Lasix” angle is an attention getter for me……………….Jais’s Solitude has run very well in three straight but steps up here.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
2019- Record: 57-158 = 36%
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%

Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Spendthrift Farm has acquired the breeding rights to leading sprinter Mitole, who won his third Grade: 1 of 2019 in the stakes record performance in the Aug. 24 Forego Stakes at Saratoga.
Mitole is set to retire at the end of this year and enter stud in 2020 at the Lexington, Ky., farm.
Spendthrift is offering breeders the opportunity to lock in at a fee of $20,000 for 2020. Mitole's fee will be subject to change pending future race results.
"The term 'brilliance' gets used a lot in this business, but there aren't many horses in recent history that have shown as much consistent brilliance as Mitole," said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift's general manager.
"His Met Mile sticks in my head. That was both the field of the year and race of the year so far, and Mitole showed just how brilliantly fast and classy he is in that performance. On top of having rare ability, he's an extremely good-looking animal”.

**** Hall of Fame jockey Randy Romero, who rode the likes of Personal Ensign and Go for Wand, died around midnight Wednesday according to his brother Gerald Romero. He was 61.
Romero had been battling a series of health issues going back to 1983 which started when a near-fatal sauna explosion at Oaklawn Park burned 60% of his body.
While receiving blood transfusions during skin graph operations, he received blood with hepatitis C. The blood transfusions saved his life, Romero said in an earlier interview, but the hepatitis has severely damaged his liver.
Other health issues included the discovery a stomach tumor in 2015 while he was being screened as a candidate for a liver and/or kidney transplant.
"He is the toughest man I've ever seen in my life," Gerald Romero said. "Believe me, for all he's been through, he's in a better place."
Romero was the leading rider at 10 tracks on 21 separate occasions. He retired with 4,294 victories and earnings of over $75 million and was inducted to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2010.
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i saw five movies (American Animals, Blindspotting, Roma, Boy Erased, The House That Jack Built)

i've had these reviews sitting around for the past week or so. i figured instead of flooding the Plounge with them by posting each one seperately, i should just make one big review post. here are some movies that i missed out on seeing last year. either because they didn't play near me, or i just didn't have enough time to see them.
first up was American Animals
the only thing i knew about this going in was that it was distributed by the MoviePass company. that seemed to be the only thing they used to draw audiences in, i guess.
in Kentucky, 2003, Spencer Reinhard is an art student who feels his life has no meaning, that he needs something exciting, even if tragic, to happen in his life to inspire greater artistry. Warren Lipka is a rebellious student on an athletic scholarship, though he does not care much for sports and is only pursuing the education to please his family.
after Spencer is given a tour of Transylvania University library's rare book collection, the two friends begin to plan to steal an extremely valuable edition of John James Audubon's 'The Birds of America' and other rare books. Warren travels to Amsterdam to meet some black market buyers who express interest in buying the books. upon returning to the US, he informs Spencer that they could make millions of dollars, much to their excitement.
what follows is their process and determination to do this job. it's told using two techniques. one of them being representation of reality, the other being interviews with the real guys involved in the heist. most movies would just have footage or interviews with them at the very end, but this one switches it up a bit. there's a scene early on where the two styles mesh and one of the real guys is seen talking to the actor who's portraying them. not in an interview way, necessarily. it's more of a visual gag when it happens.
the tone is largely comedic during the first two acts, with a couple moments of sincerity here and there. the two main guys feel like a crime duo to begin with. Spencer is the straight man, and Warren is the energetic sleazeball. sometimes, the real individuals misremember a part of the story, or have a different view of it, and so they decide to have it shown in two different ways as a result. that was a very clever way of doing things.
the more it gets down to the actual heist, the more dramatic and dark it gets. they start to doubt themselves, then they get back up and make another attempt. and eventually, they become disgusted with their actions. there's an entire section that deals with the effect this situation has on their families. that, and their own mental health. the acting was absolutely stunning. the portrayals feel like more than just performances. these guys were amazing at their range from calmness, to agitation, to downright insanity. the writing also deserves credit for investing us beginning to end, especially during the third act. you feel this jolt of anticipation that never goes away. it's just a stream of intense moments building up, one after another.
overall, i thought it was fantastic. easily one of the best heist movies to come in a long time. if you're interested, i highly recommend it.

next up was Blindspotting
Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. he and his troublemaking best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men's friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.
there must be fewer experiences more wounding to the heart than witnessing an act of police brutality. it all comes so fast and sudden, leaving not only the onlooker, but the policeman himself in utter disbelief. it causes a certain debate amongst citizens, trying to see if the victim deserved it, or if the officer shot them because he simply had to. no matter what case happens in the media, there will always be two sides. the term "racist" can be thrown around so casually in each case, to the point where it's just the go-to assumption.
this movie is quick at bringing these subjects to light. it's almost explosive in the way the narrative is able to examine such troubles between race and the justice system. not only that, but there are stark choices in the way it develops these characters. the lead, Collin, attempts to break free from his past lifestyle to provide a better way of living for himself. being a convicted felon has scared him into giving up guns, drugs, and unwarrented fights with random people in the streets. he also makes a repeated attempt to revive the relationship he once had with his ex, Val. they could start a normal, joke-filled conversation at work, yet it'll still lead to a subtle feel of contempt from her, as she reminds him of his previous actions.
there's a scene that involves Collin going over to visit Val so he can help her study. she makes it clear that he's over there just for studying, and nothing more. once they're done, she starts packing up to leave and Collin takes a moment to embrace her in his arms. for a beat, there's no restraint from her, almost as if it's a sensation or feeling that the both of them missed. another moment later on has the two of them speaking over the phone. with a split-screen technique to show both sides, Collin tries to have a casual conversation about her studying, but can't. as Val speaks, we see him with his eyes watering and his lips quivering. finally, he can't contain himself anymore and asks: "when you see me now, do you always see the fight first?" it's a bleak and abrasive aspect that happens often in a gang-oriented town such as the one in the film. even if someone with a troubled past makes the decision to change, it doesn't solve or alter the perceptions that people have of them.
that also goes for his friend, Miles, who puts on this constant charade of being a jive-speaking tough guy. he stirs up some conflict when he buys a gun and keeps it in his home without telling his girlfriend. after getting kicked out for a night, he comes back to discuss it. they start with an argument, but wind down once the topic of their son is brought up. there's a sudden change in Miles' voice. for once, we see the real version of himself rather than the act he puts on. it's quite staggering.
the execution is wonderful at combining this gritty drama along with setups that have a touch of humor to them. it's also done with whimsical choices in the editing that showcase the suburban setting around us. the one and only complaint that i have is a sequence that occurs near the end. without giving too much away, it's something that happens only by pure convenience. and it's written in a way that seems preachy in a bad sense. i would have excused it if they chose a better way to execute the scene. if you were holding a gun up to someone in a threatening manner, and you were full of absolute scorn towards them, would your first instinct be freestyle rapping? i doubt it.
all in all, the movie has maturity and emotional depth. aside from the scene i just mentioned, it places realism ahead of easy payoffs and finds a way to get the audience deeply involved. if you're interested, give it a watch.

the third one was Roma
it's times like this where i become disappointed in the fact that Netflix is strictly a streaming service. some of their movies, like "Bird Box", are ones that are destined to be watched at home. but, the more ambitious and personal ones like "Roma" deserve to be seen in theaters. and no, limited engagement runs aren't enough. this isn't the type of useless dravel that you can have on as you do other things in your house, it's an experience that you become completely immersed and engaged in.
Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) is a housekeeper working for a wealthy family. she spends her days tending to their four children, taking care of the dogs, and cleaning the house. she has a close friendship with Adela (Nancy Garcia), the other housekeeper. there is tension between Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), a doctor and the head of the household, and his wife, Sofia (Marina de Tavira). he is continually leaving for work trips, making Sofia and the kids miss him greatly. over the next year of her life, Cleo balances the many obstacles facing her in her own personal life, along with the ones cornering the family.
the story is told in a series of detailed panning shots that linger. i'm betting this will be one of those subjects for a film class in which the students examine the picture by pausing it and going frame-by-frame. the attention to detail that Alfonso Cuarón provides is marvelous. you become completely engrossed not just by the characters in front of you, but the ones that fill the background. we see the daily routines of street vendors, protestors, shop owners, and just simple townspeople going about their everyday lives. the way it represents the early 1970s has less of a nostalgic feel, and it creates this sort of slice-of-life capsule.
it's structured to be very observant and micro. but there is a macro level, too, almost too large in scale to be seen, and the ingenuity of the film is suggesting a larger reality. the characters, mainly Cleo and the mother, Sofía, are dealt with a string of events that lead them to the brink of their tolerance. certain shots will focus primarily on Cleo's face, showing the audience that she's become boarderline depressed. yet, she never acts out. it could either be because her job forbids her from doing so, or because she simply can't express the difficult emotions that she's dealing with.
there's a heavy amount of atmosphere, but an even heavier amount of melodrama. the moral sense is incredibly hearfelt by the way we get invested in these people. despite all of these setbacks that are happening to them, they still find a way to be happy with each other, and they put that above everything else. you join their experience, feeling as if you're a member. Cuarón himself stated that this film is a tribute to the women in his life and “the elements that forged me." he creates a balance of truth and art that's almost breathtaking, because it registers to us, too. there are some moments in your lifetime that, when you think about it years later, have way more of an impact than when you first experienced it. that's really what it all comes down to: memory. by the end of the film, we know that the people involved have just completed their own journey. in the future, they might have these personal events to thank for shaping them into the person they've become.
this is a highly captivating piece of work that wins sympathy for its characters by having a reflective story. i would highly recommend it if you're interested.

next was Boy Erased
Joel Edgerton is not only a highly talented actor, but he also showcases his efforts as a filmmaker. the last movie he directed, "The Gift", was easily one of the best psychological thrillers i've seen in recent years. i expected nothing less with this movie, even if it was more of a dramatic piece.
based on the true story, it follows Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program, or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.
many people in the LGBTQ community come to a decisive realization in their own time, that the portion of the world that doesn’t accept them is wrong and they themselves are right. Jared appears to find himself in the thick of that realization. he doesn't want to hurt those around him, who state that God will not love him unless he defeats his homosexual urges, but that causes even more of a strain on his view of self worth. his parents register him to a conversion program run by the impassioned, self-appointed therapist Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton).
the program creates a loss of guiding voices for all of the camp inmates, as none of them are permitted to discuss the details of the therapy with their guardians. as he works his way through the emotionally manipulative curriculum, Jared becomes less soft-edged and more confident in his lifestyle choices. the main situations that cause the shift involve Edgerton literally forcing the inmates to speak about their "sins", and putting large emphasis on that word as part of the conversion. if they make the slightest attempt to speak for themselves instead of the lord, it makes their stay even longer.
Sykes himself possesses the stereotypical vibe of one pretending what he's not, in terms of his own sexuality. he seems only opinion, not at all clinician. some of the methods he used are less likely to be God's plan, and more of his own. Jared's parents are a little more sympathetic with their son. they're disappointed with his sexual preference, yes, but they never lose their love for him. Russell Crowe is earnest and solid at playing the father, both theological and biological, and Nicole Kidman is equally as strong and compassionate as the mother. Lucas Hedges creates brilliant composed awareness as Jared. he gets that he won't change, and that will go badly for him. but, his eloquent gentleness is his distinct power and voice. for survival sake, a gay participant Gary, played by Troye Sivan, instructs Jared, "fake it till you make it."
the movie could tell its story and not necessarily be great. it could be considered a typical "gay oriented movie." but Joel Edgerton focuses so intently and with such feeling on the people involved with the story that the movie is as observant as work by Bergman. i can imagine someone weeping at this film, identifying with it, either because they know the feeling of being shunned for their sexual identity or because they've experienced events such as the one being portrayed. what it comes down to is that we are all responsible for our needs and wants, and no one else has the power to make those decisions for us. you can beat someone with the bible, and baptize them til' the cows come home, but all that will do is scare them into pretending.
this is a very well made film on all parts: direction, acting, writing, cinematography, and editing. as good as it looks, the style never overlaps the emotional baggage we're given from the storyline. it's courageous, bold, and outstanding with its execution. this is another choice that i would highly recommend if you're interested.

and now we end with The House That Jack Built
this is the new film by Lars von Trier, a director whose work mostly comes across as challenging. i enjoyed "Breaking the Waves", "Dancer in the Dark", "Antichrist", and "Melancholia". but other works of his, like "Dogville" or "Nymphomaniac", are less passionate and more disappointing. with this, he seems to be getting back into his original form and crosses it with the feel of a slasher movie, which was easy enough to have me sold.
in five audacious episodes, failed architect and arch-sociopath Jack (Matt Dillon) recounts the elaborately orchestrated murders. each, as he views them, are a a towering work of art that define his career as a serial killer. during his walk through memory lane, he is joined by a man who goes by the name of Verge (Bruno Ganz), modeled as a priest that listens to his every sin.
it would be too easy to draw comparisons between this and "American Psycho." what most people will fail to see, i think, is the difference between character structure and exposition. Patrick Batemen was first and foremost an exaggeration, someone whose excessive compulsions are crossed with a cartoonish personality. in this, Matt Dillon's character has the same ideals and arguments that you would hear coming from one of real life's serial killers. there are a few sequences where him and Verge are discussing topics such as art, icons, and the constraints or expectations of the world around us. he also has this quiet, menacing quality to him that will make anyone feel uneasy, and he plays it with such conviction to the point where it seems real. early on, we learn that he's diagnosed with OCD. while i doubt it has little to do with his murderous habits, it brings a lot of discomfort in his social interactions. one scene shows him trying to get into a woman's house by tricking her into believing he's a police officer. the way he shifts back and forth between his reasoning causes suspicion, yet his sincerity is able to trick them.
we also gain some perspective on how the act of killing has become so easy and simple to him. he doesn't even attempt to keep it secret from most people. a long, suspensful part has him working his way onto slowly killing a girlfriend of his. during the buildup, he goes on about how society has this concieved thought that men are automatically born guilty, and women are always the victim. while i can't exactly argue against that point, it doesn't redeem the act of murder. maybe that's the whole point of Matt Dillon's mindset. he perpetually makes an effort to convince people that he's doing these horrendous acts because of the affect societal standards have had on him, but that just adds to his insanity. he endures a psychopathic function that has long since stopped giving him pleasure and become purely instinctive.
Jack also has a burning passion for art, and he uses the kills as an outlet to create art. what else are you going to do with the bodies laying around? he has a way of viciously condemning people, yet tries to be delicate in any process afterwards. in my opinion, von Trier did an excellent job at writing this character. we know the only things about him that we need to, and nothing else. it's not that any events from his past shaped him into this way, it's that he was just created as a visceral murderer.
i have one complaint and one complaint only: during the third act, the movie starts to get on more of an intellectual and arthouse beat. those moments are well crafted and nicely executed as they move along. but then, all of the sudden, there's about a minute where we see a clip show of Lars von Trier's other movies. i understood the use of prolific images or stock footage up to that point, but this just seemed like a case of the director jerking himself off. it's seriously one notch below Nicolas Winding Refn calling "Only God Forgives" (his worst movie) the best film ever made. get off your fucking high horse.
but, i digress. that flaw only lasted for a mere minute. it was enough to only take me out during that moment. i was completely fine with the rest of the movie. i'm not going to say it's for everyone, though. some people might object to its violence or be alienated by the stylistic choices made, but hey, you can't win em' all. bottom line, i would recommend it only if you have the stomach for it.
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What A Day: Inherit the Vindman by Sarah Lazarus & Crooked Media (11/18/19)

"I've given plenty of on the record statements that were truthful and accurate"- White House Press Secretary & Occasional Truth-Teller Stephanie Grisham

Where There's A Williams

Last week’s hearings provided a strong start to the public phase of the impeachment inquiry, as evidenced by how many Americans have watched them, remain supportive of impeachment, and applauded witnesses at DC jazz clubs. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the next round of hearings, which kick off Tuesday morning:
Where do Americans stand after week one?
After the first week of devastating testimony from unassailable career officials, a majority of Americans feel that President Trump should be removed from office. That’s genuinely remarkable. This week, eight more witnesses will testify, including some who have first-hand knowledge of Trump’s involvement, and Republicans still have no substantive way to defend him. Watch along with us starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET in the Crooked Group Thread

Look No Further Than The Crooked Media

For those of you who want to rest your eyes and ears from the searing realities of impeachment, might we at Crooked suggest the last two episodes of our series: America Dissected with Abdul El-Sayed. You may think you’re a whiz when it comes to following the 2020 Democratic race. But with all these candidates there’s one very important issue that seems to only have gotten more confusing: healthcare.
In part one of Abdul’s health-care special he talks with a woman who had a heart attack in order to dissect how the business of healthcare works and what’s wrong with it. In part two, he breaks down the three major health-care plans—and their pros and cons—from the democratic candidates and speaks to Friend of the Pod Ady Barkan! The next democratic debate is coming—just two days from now!—and we’ll bet they’re gonna talk all about healthcare. In fact, don’t just listen to these last two episodes of America Dissected. Binge the whole series, which is out now

What In The World?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, overturning 40 years of American policy. The change effectively dooms Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts (great job, Jared Kushner!) because control over the West Bank is at the heart of the fight over any future two-state solution. The United States has long considered Israeli settlements there to be illegitimate, and the sudden shift reflects desperation on the part of both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to hold onto their bases of support. Netanyhu promised to push annexation of the West Bank in both of his elections this year, and has until Wednesday to form a majority in Israel’s parliament, or risk a third election. To make a long story short, two corrupt heads of state have pawned off peace in the Middle East to cling to power a bit longer and maybe stay out of jail.

What Else?

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) defeated Republican Eddie Rispone to win a second term in Saturday’s runoff election. Rispone is the second Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate to lose to a Democrat in a red state this month, following the defeat of Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY). Both Kentucky and Louisiana are Medicaid expansion states, and Democratic victories there are likely attributable to the success of that program, so, thanks, Obama!
President Trump paid an unexpected visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Saturday, and the White House is unconvincingly hiding something. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed that Trump made the surprise trip to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam,” because as we all know, annual physicals happen in abrupt, unscheduled phases that begin less than a year after your last one. Something about Trump’s health raised enough alarm that he had to go to the hospital, and the public deserves the truth.
Trump summoned Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to the White House, presumably to pressure him to lower interest rates and juice the economy to help Trump win reelection. Powell issued a statement after the meeting saying he told Trump that the Fed will continue to set interest rates “based solely on careful, objective and non-political analysis." The meeting took place in the White House residence, because again, Trump is in Perfect Health.
Pete Buttigieg has jumped to the front of the pack in Iowa, according to a new poll from the Des Moines Register and CNN. Buttigieg was the first choice of 25 percent of likely caucus-goers, followed by a virtual tie for third between Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders.
Trump reversed course on his flavored-vape ban after learning it could cost him votes. The usefulness of the ban was controversial to begin with, but predictably, it was concern for his re-election prospects that guided Trump’s decision-making on an urgent public health matter.
Four people were killed and another six were injured in a shooting at a backyard party in Fresno, CA. Unknown suspects sneaked into the backyard and opened fire at a football-viewing party on Sunday night. In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass common sense gun legislation, saying “No one’s political survival is more important than the survival of our children.”
Around 600 Hong Kong protestors occupying a university are locked in a violent standoff with riot police. Protestors stood their ground at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus as police stormed the school, fighting back with bows-and-arrows and firebombs. As the clashes intensify, police have warned they could start using live ammunition.
The Supreme Court has placed a temporary hold on an order requiring Trump’s accounting firm to turn his tax information over to Congress. That doesn’t mean much yet: If the Court grants a longer stay at the end of the week, it would be an indication that the court’s conservative majority might band together to protect Trump against the decisions of all lower courts, which have agreed that Trump’s arguments for keeping his financial records secret are, pardon our legalese, totally bogus.
Chik-fil-A said it will stop funding anti-LGBTQ organizations, after years of criticism and protests. Chik-fil-A pledged the same thing in 2012 and it wasn’t true, so go ahead and applaud this change but at the same time remember to be SKEPTICAL and trust NO ONE because all good news is a TRICK.

Under The Radar

A new report shows that two million Americans live without running water, and that Native Americans are more likely to have difficulty accessing water than any other group. Fifty-eight out of every 1,000 Native American households lack plumbing, according to the report, compared with three out of every 1,000 white households. The groundwater in Navajo Nation has been contaminated by abandoned uranium mines, and the Environmental Protection Agency cited unregulated drinking water as the biggest public health risk on the reservation. Many tribal nations struggle to access the same infrastructure funding that’s federally allocated to cities and states, and developing remote tribal lands can be especially expensive.

What A Sponsor

EveryAction is the modern and easy-to-use unified nonprofit CRM that powers both online and offline fundraising, as well as advocacy efforts, volunteer programs, and grants management. Unique features like one-click contributions via email and a network effect of millions of saved donor profiles enable nonprofits to raise more money. EveryAction is trusted by The National Audubon Society, Covenant House International, and over 15,000 other organizations. Learn more →

Is That Hope I Feel?

Dunkin’ will phase out polystyrene foam cups. The foam elimination began in New England, and the full transition to double-walled paper cups is scheduled to be completed by April 2020. Styrofoam is an environmental nightmare that never breaks down completely, and instead sticks around in tiny particles for hundreds of years. Because styrofoam doesn’t guard well against heat, Dunkin’ customers often use two cups at a time, doubling the environmental impact. The new cups are certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, and mostly recyclable. But Jon Favreau won’t be happy until Dunkin’ puts the “Donuts” back in its name.


socialist horse girl on Twitter: "someone posted on the bird group i’m in that they decorate for christmas a bit early bc their little bird mango is in love with this decoration 😭"
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Previews of the United Nations; Ohio Derby and more

Race: 9 (5:10 PM EST Post)
Ohio Derby
Global Campaign was super impressive while winning the Peter Pan at Belmont last time out, his third win in four career tries. This half brother to the mega talented Bolt d’Oro stalked fast fractions (:46 & 1:10) before taking command of that race and finishing nine furlongs in a smoking 1:46.3. The son of Curlin got the last furlong in a strong :12.1 that day and had a legitimate excuse (“grabbed a quarter”) in his one and only loss…………..Narrow margin over fast closing, third place Preakness finisher Owendale. This very handsome son of Into Mischief was a ridiculous seven wide on the turn in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown yet was only beaten by 1 ½ lengths to War of Will. Tack on the visually impressive, monster move on the far turn in winning the Lexington Stakes two back and the bullet work last week (5F- :59.2) and you should have a colt who merits a ton of respect in this spot…………………..It’s pretty clear that the stretch running Long Range Toddy didn’t care for the slop in the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby (both Grade:1’s) his last two times out. If you draw lines through both of those races, you’ll see that this colt by Take Charge Indy is as consistent as the day is long as his 7-4-1-1 record would indicate. This Steve Asmussen trainee should like this distance, drops in class and should get a fast track, where he does his best running, come Saturday............................Honorable Mentions: Bethlehem Road is 3 for 3 at Parx, including a minor Stakes win, and is proven at a distance of ground. That said, he’ll be taking an enormous class hike and the :32.4 seconds is took him to run the approximately last 2 ½ furlongs in his last won’t cut it in this spot…………………….Math Wizard is versatile but has speed and draws the rail, so I expect him to come out running here. Although he disappointed as the favorite in a weaker field than this last time out, note the “sneaky” good fourth at 64-1 in the Wood Memorial two starts back and his work patterns/times since May couldn’t be much better…………………….Dare Day has the distinction of being the only horse in this field with a race over the track. This obscurely bred gelding annihilated Ohio state bred maidens and Ohio state bred first level allowances foes in his first two starts as well. His speed figures say he’s not completely out of it but the 15-1 morning line odds are probably about right.

Monmouth Park
Race: 7 (3:33 PM EST Post)
Eatontown Stakes

Although this race drew just six it is a very well matched field as I’m seeing four or five with a good chance to win it. That said, I’ll gingerly take Valedictorian, who although disappointed last time out, rarely throws in a “clunker” as her 20 of 27 on the board finishes, including 11 wins, would indicate. Note, she is 3 for 4 on the Monmouth turf course and also note the supersonic (:22.3) final quarter mile she ran two races back………………………… Inflexibility is a $340,000 daughter of the late Scat Daddy who probably needed her race at Pimlico on May 18 as she was coming off an over 200 day layoff. This five year old mare was 1 for 6 last year but you should take notice of the company she was keeping as they included Champion Sistercharlie, Santa Monica and A Raving Beauty. She will meet no such rivals here and she should be tighter in this race…………………..My Sistersledge made up 13 lengths in the last 6 ½ furlongs in a minor Stakes race on this very turf course last time out. Although it was against lesser caliber foes, note that race was her first start in 216 days. Five year old mare was 4 for 8 last year, so she likes winning and she also should be tighter for this……………Honorable Mentions: Maid to Remember shipped in from overseas and rallied from dead last after completely missing the break in her U.S. debut to just miss beating an allowance field……..quietly looms a threat in this spot………………The owners paid $5,000 for Dynatail and thus far she’s earned almost 100 times that amount including winning three of her last four. Big step up in class here however.

Race: 10 (5:00 PM EST Post)
Philip Iselin Stakes

Although every single one of them was at Charles Town, Runnin’toluvya has all “1’s” down his entire past performance page. This obscurely bred gelding has won an eye popping 10 in a row, from six to nine furlongs, and 13 of 17 in his career overall. This speedy gray doesn’t necessarily have to have the lead either as he can “sit the trip” as well. Hard to go against a horse who all he does is win and beat his main competition fair and square two races back, even if he is “venturing out” of his comfort zone……………………..Try as he may, Diamond King could not get past my top pick down the lane two starts back. This son of Quality Road always fires his best shot as his 10 of 13 on the board finishes, including five wins state. He goes first time blinkers here, so it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to that……………………….. It’s a good thing I can use his number to bet him because I have no idea how to pronounce Monongahela correctly. Albeit, he is 0 for his last 11 races, he’s run very well in most of them with speed figures that either match or exceed the top two in here. Looks best of the rest and could actually better this rating……………………….Bal Harbour is another who always “shows up”. Note how this son of the sleek looking First Samurai missed the break in his last but was less than three lengths behind Diamond King at the finish. Outside shot here, especially with a clean break.

Race: 11 (5:28 PM EST Post)
United Nations
After winning three of his last four, Focus Group disappointed as the roughly 5/2 favorite in the Grade: 1 Man o’ War last time out. “I can't really explain why he ran so bad (in the Man o' War)," trainer Chad Brown said. "He's been training well. He was in between horses in the back of the pack and got frustrated during the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. couldn't get him to settle back there and he wore himself out. He's trained really well since then and I hope we can draw line through it and he can return to his previous form."….exactly Mr. Brown, I’m going to draw a line through that race and, although this is a very competitive spot, I’m coming right back with him here……………………Flip a coin for the place and show spot as Zulu Alpha and Bigger Picture, who are both multiple Graded Stakes winners, are both 2 for 4 this year and took turns beating each other the last two times they met……………………..Honorable Mentions: Channel Cat had legitimate excuses (first start in eight months and then chased Bricks and Mortar in a quickly run Grade: 1) in his first two start this year. Four year old son of English Channel should have no excuses for a good performance in this spot and gets the third start off the layoff angle……………………The globetrotting Monarchs Glen, a son of European super star Frankel, could quietly be sitting on a huge effort. Although he was off the board in his first two U.S. starts against lesser foes, note the final times in both of those races were strong and he was making up ground late in both. Bottom line here is this long shot possibility will be on a couple of my trifecta tickets.

Race: 12 (5:57 PM EST Post)
Lady’s Secret Stakes
Pink Sands is a $625,000 daughter of super sire Tapit who chased far, far better than these in her last two and wasn’t completely embarrassed by any stretch either time. “Shug” adds blinkers here (a move where he wins at 20% clip with)…logical choice………………….Sun Studio beat an allowance field two back and finished just a length behind Pink Sands in her last…………My Miss Lily has been struggling a bit in three starts this year but will also be taking a “plunge” in class in this spot……………..Honorable Mentions: Thanks to a DQ, Breaking Bread is 3 for 3 this year, including a Stakes win on this oval last time out. Steps up in class but could be a menace………………….Coffee Crush has shown improved early speed in her last three races and switches to “speed” rider Paco Lopez. Of course, the elephant in the room with her is how will she handle the surface (turf to dirt) switch?...........................Alberobello was impressive wiring mid level optionals in NY in her last, but what’s up with this being just her eighth career start half way through her four year old season?

By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
2019- Record: 37-110 = 34%
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%

Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** Two time Grade 1 winner Diversify has been retired from racing after reinjuring a suspensory ligament, trainer Jonathan Thomas said last Sunday. The 6 year old gelding will remain at Belmont Park while retirement plans are finalized.
"He worked yesterday. Cooled out well, came out of the work in good order, but I noticed a little bit of abnormal inflammation in his upper suspensory area," Thomas said. "It's a reoccurrence of an old injury. I'd say at this stage it's minor. (The) horse is sound. It's in the minor stages, but certainly not something you'd want to press on with, especially given what this horse has done."
"He's comfortable and sound and happy," Thomas added. "It's kind of one of those injuries where it's at the very beginning, or the very early stages, and probably the only one around the barn that doesn't know he has it is him."
Diversify retires with a 10-2-0 record from 16 starts and earnings of $1,989,425.
"Rest assured, Mr. Evans and his daughter and his wife (Judith), they've been just an incredible support group for this horse, the ownership," Thomas said, "so I can only imagine that the horse is going to definitely be provided with a very, very good home forever."

**** 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House will get at least two months off from training and will likely miss the rest of his 3 year old season, trainer Bill Mott said last Saturday night. The news came in an interview with Jerry Bailey on NBC Sports’ live telecast of the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
“He just wasn’t as eager to get into his training as he had been,” Mott said “We just felt like he wasn’t moving as well as he should be. We had him checked out again, and I think the determination is that we probably need to give him more time. Right now, we’d have trouble making the Travers or the Breeders’ Cup, and I don’t believe we’d be able to get him back to the races in as good a shape right now as what we would have to have him to run at that very top level. To give him a fair chance and bring him back as a 4 year old, we’re going to give him a little extra time.”

**** 2019 Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston has been ruled out of a summer campaign due to a minor left front ankle injury.
“He has a minor left front ankle injury and he’s going to do some rehab at the farm. He’s back in Ocala now, he’s going to be off for a little while,” said trainer Mark Casse. “I’m still hopeful we’ll be back in the fall, we’ll play it by ear. The Travers is not going to be an option.”
Casse mentioned the Pegasus World Cup Stakes in January as a possible long term goal.
submitted by aspen222 to horseracing [link] [comments]

Week 10 SEC vs SEC matchup preview

Hello all! Welcome to the third in the series of fan produced game previews. Sorry this one is later in the night than normal, but I have had a busy week. But, its almost Friday and that means that SEC football is almost here! Before we get to the previews we need to look at the winner of the guess the score contest from last week. The winner is u/joblanco40 and South Carolina! Jo’s prediction was 27-21 SC which was just three points away from the actual score of 27-24. This brings the score to Tennessee 1 South Carolina 1.

Texas A&M @ Auburn 12:00 ESPN

Texas A&M perspective by u/TryhardTim of


Well, that Mississippi State game left a sour taste in my mouth. Let’s hope that’s not a sign of things to come. (Also, shout out to Kirk Herbsteit, who (jinxed us on College Gameday last week)[])
This week, the Aggies will play their final road game of the season against the Auburn Tigers. It’s easy to call any game at this stage of the season an important game, but I want to stress how important it is for this Aggie Football team. We’re currently sitting at 5-3. One win will make us bowl eligible, but that was never really going to be a problem for this team. You see, this game is important because we need to build confidence before we hit the home stretch of the season. We *need a win this week. Let’s see how we can take care of business:
*What’s an offense???? Sheesh, last week was ugly. Like, not ugly in a kind of cute way, but ugly in a I-want-to-go-throw-up- after-seeing-that way. We still have yet to score more than two offensive touchdowns in any SEC game this year (We even got to overtime in one of those games). If this team wants to get a win against the SEC equivalent of Jekyll and Hyde, they need to get their act together on the offensive side of the ball. Namely, they need to improve in the red zone, where they have an appalling 38% TD rate against SEC opponents this year. Another problem the Aggies had last week was dropped passes. Like, a lot of them. Anyone who claims that the gloves that receivers wear make catching the ball too easy needs to watch the Aggie receiving group last week. If the offense can get back to the form that we saw in the first 4 weeks of the season (Mond being accurate with the ball and making plays with his legs, actually targeting Jace Sternberger throughout the game), the Aggies will have a good chance to win this game. *Are we becoming the “get right” team of the SEC West? Nick Fitzgerald was on the verge of being benched before he broke out and had a season-saving performance against us. This week, we get to face another struggling QB who has performed well against the Aggies in the past in Jarrett Stidham. Aggie fans do not need to be reminded of the absolute beating we took last year at the hands of Stidham and now pro running back Kerryon Johnson. To prevent what happened last week, the defensive secondary, led by a (for once) non-suspended Donovan Wilson needs to do significantly better than how they performed last week, where missed tackles and giving up too much space to receivers were all too common.
This game is a relatively simple one to preview. If the Aggies show up and play to their full potential, they will win this game. If not, this game could get ugly like last week’s game, and it’s time to start panicking about the now possible chance that we lose to Ole Miss at home. I feel as though Jimbo Fisher will be able to get our players back in form, and we can win in a stadium where we have had success since joining the SEC. **#BTHOauburn #WarEagleTigers? #AtLeastTheLonghornsLostToo
Texas A&M 20, Auburn 14
Auburn perspective by u/patsey of
Hey Y’all!
A quick note to the AU family: Kelly Bryant visited campus! Gus is back on his recruiting horse, Bryant is obviously the “highest value free agent ever” filling the void Jalen's dad created.
On the Field:
Gus Malzahn’s system revolves around the rushing attack. Boobie Whitlow has been what passes for a breakout star but is injured and likely out. Also in that stable is a senior walk-on in Malik Miller and a pair of talented freshmen in Shaun Shivers and Asa Martin. Martin was the highest rated of them all as a prospect but has only seen 6 carries this year, his fumble in the A-State game a likely reason for this. Kam Martin the day 1 starter is almost negligible as he is simply never good for more than 4 carries per game.
All this may be a relatively moot point as the O-line has been just putrid. There is some talent there but none besides right tackle Jack Driscoll is even holding his own. This is unlikely to change this week as A&M boast the 5th ranked rush defense in the country. The question is can they get straight through our O-line to Stidham.
Malzahn and Lindsey will likely need to lean on the passing game, maybe quick passing game if they expect to defend their honor in the eyes of recruits. The problem is the O-line was inexcusably bad against the pass rush of Miss State. Driscoll was injured in that game and that hole may have been patched but this exposes Stidham’s most glaring weakness, the way he responds to pressure. When his spidey sense goes off he instantly tucks to run and does so with the grace of an old Peyton Manning.
The Culture War:
Named after a 3 hole stretch at August National, Amen Corner is the name Pat Dye gave to the last 3 games of Auburn’s schedule- at the time Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. AU Athletics has since broken up that uphill finishing stretch by adding a cupcake in between Georgia and Alabama week. That term may be applicable again if we are going to play A&M at this time every year. There is no doubt the tectonic plates of the SEC West changed when A&M entered the league, and Jimbo’s hire was an earthquake for the rest of the division. Bama have proven they are still superior, but we will see how their recruiting is affected. LSU will catch them last in what may prove to be the new battle for 2nd place in the West.
Auburn had become the third best recruiter in the West behind Saban’s Bama and Les’s LSU. With A&M in the picture we could easily find ourselves 4th, and a loss this Saturday will only fuel that shift. Mississippi State has something to say in this too as they beat A&M last week and effectively throttled Auburn in their stadium. Traditionally they are not considered a recruiting threat but we have to wait and see what Moorehead’s first class looks like. Going in to the LSU game this year AU Family had great reason to believe Auburn could capitalize on Gus being the last face Les Miles saw on the battlefield. That was not to be despite a 10 point lead in that game, and now we are seeing Coach Orgeron show up in Alabama during his bye week to recruit in our state. To read an extended look at how this affects the big picture go to
Auburn 22 – Texas A&M 19

South Carolina @ Ole Miss 12:00 SEC Network

South Carolina perspective by (the returning champion) u/joblanco of
South Carolina (4-3, 3-3) will be traveling to Oxford this Saturday to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (5-3, 1-3) in a cross divisional matchup that could be a good one. South Carolina was once again a terrible football team in the first half against Tennessee, continuing a trend that has just left Gamecocks fans everywhere completely stressed the fuck out. Tennessee was moving the ball down the field effectively and our defense was just being gashed by short and intermediate crossing routes. Guarantano rarely attacked the ball downfield, but he managed the team well and we were just out schemed in the first half, especially on the defensive side.
The defense wasn’t helped by the fact that South Carolina was just as worse on offense. Our running game was effective against Tennessee; we consistently set the edge and were able to get some good chunk runs down the field. It was just the passing game just would completely kill our momentum. Our passing game limited our offense to a point where Bentley received a healthy dose of booing for the second consecutive game. While Bentley did have his bad throws, that first half performance was NOT all him. Majority of the blame should go to the offensive coordinator, Bryan McClendon.
But!!! It all changed in the end of the first half. My own father, Deebo Samuel, just showed the SEC what just makes him so special as a player: one-handed grab in the endzone. He just absolutely saved Bentley too, because he definitely overthrew that pass. But it didn’t matter because Deebo is that dude and can jump to the moon. He gave our team the spark we needed to gain momentum into the 3rd Quarter, and we took advantage. Rico Dowdle (underrated football name, btw) just bullied defenders in that second half and finished the game with 140 yards rushing with a touchdown. His play, and Jake too, led our team back in another gritty, comeback win for the Cocks.
If they start slow against this Ole Miss team, then they might be going down a hole that will be too hard to get out. Ole Miss can be ELECTRIC if they get clicking. The game against Texas Tech was just a barnburner and Ole Miss looked unstoppable on offense. They’ve already scored more than 70 points twice this season. Led by the “Throwin’ Samoan” Jordan Ta’amu, this Ole Miss offense has weapons that can hurt the Gamecocks. AJ Brown is a first round pick (here’s a hot take: DK Metcalf is a better player), Scottie Philips is good, and they have a sneaky good tight end in Dawson Knox (another underrated football name). Their Oline is experienced, and Ta’amu is mobile enough to make plays with his feet.
This team is good on offense, but holy fuck they are awful on defense. They gave up 41 points to Southern Illinois. Southern Illinois. Do you know what the team name of Southern Illinois is? I bet you don’t. Don’t lie to me and tell me you do. They’re called the Salukis. The fucking Salukis. The only reason why you would name yourself after a Saluki, is probably because you’re an asshole. But that’s beside the point. Ole Miss is bad at defense. They lack depth at linebackers and the secondary (especially at secondary). Its so bad that they had to convert two running backs (who started this season as backup running backs!!!!!) into safeties. And these guys get meaningful snaps. If the Gamecocks don’t start fast against this team, then I’ve just lost hope that it’ll ever change while Bentley is at QB.
From a gambling perspective, this game is listed as a pick em’. I normally don’t like to bet on the Gamecocks, but this is looking to be like a win with some added value. I believe Will Muschamp will try to combat this prolific offense with an old school ideology: Keep them off the field. I think the Gamecocks run the football early and often against Ole Miss, and just milk the clock. Ole Miss has serious problems wrapping up, and the Gamecocks have good physical runners that can break tackles. Look for Deebo to get the ball out of the wildcat a bit more this game, and look out for sneaky big games from Ty’Son Williams and Mon Denson. I think the gamecocks play complimentary football with the running game, and make enough plays in the secondary on defense to maintain the lead against this high-powered offense. Also I'm pretty sure nobody will be at the game in Oxford since it starts at 11 am. So there's that too. Gambling tips for the game: South Carolina Pick em, UNDER 68 points.
32 South Carolina-27 Ole Miss
Ole Miss perspective by u/Rebbel228 of
This week the 4-3 (3-3) South Carolina Gamecocks visit Oxford and take on the 5-3 (1-3) Ole Miss Rebels. It’s going to be a great matchup for mediocre football provided to us by one of the worst in the East and the second worse in the West (thanks Arkansas). This is the first time these two teams have met since my junior year of high school when Ole Miss was ranked #4 and lost on a Thursday night in 2008, which personally is a game I’d like to forget.
(Editors note: the fact that these two teams haven’t played in nine years is ridiculous. We want a 9 conference game schedule!)
The Gamecocks are looking for their 5th win in hopes of becoming bowl eligible in the next 4 weeks. This is a must win for them, as Florida and Clemson are both on the docket for the month of November. South Carolina will be looking for some consistency this season after alternating wins and losses. They’ve been winning the games and they’re not supposed to and losing the games they’re not supposed to. Luckily for Ole Miss, that means this weekend looks pretty good for the Rebs.
Let’s be real. Ole Miss has been a dumpster fire this season. Granted, on paper, the Rebs don’t look that bad. They can score points. We all know that. They can’t stop the other team from scoring points though and that’s rough in today’s world high tempo offense. Ole Miss likes to score quick which doesn’t leave much time for the defense to rest. The key to this game will be the Ole Miss offense to play a good game with little to no mistakes and to for the defense to step up and make a few huge plays. Force turnovers, Jake Bentley has thrown 8 INTs this season and 1 or 2 turnovers can be very beneficial for the Rebs.
Mississippi is a sports betting state so I’ll throw a quick pick in. Pick your conscience. This game can really go either way, you’re picking the winner with this spread. This game opened Ole Miss (-1) but my local sportsbook currently (10/30) has this game as a PK. I personally am staying away from this game because I don’t like losing my money, but if I had to pick I’d take Ole Miss straight up, or whatever the point spread moves to by this weekend. From what we’ve seen of South Carolina this season, they start off slow and pick up in the second half. Ta’amu and Co. will have no problem scoring points early. This game will also most definitely go under 66.
It'll be an emotional game for both sides. Hotty Toddy, y’all.
Ole Miss 38, South Carolina 31

Georgia @ Kentucky 3:30 CBS

Georgia perspective by u/DuragofJupiter of
Following a cathartic 36-17 victory over the Florida Gators in Jacksonville, the sixth ranked Georgia Bulldogs will continue their travels as they face the ninth ranked Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington this weekend in what is certainly an SEC East title decider, as a win for either side would give them an insurmountable lead in the race to Atlanta. In order for UGA to return to Athens victorious, the offense will have to continue the (mostly) mistake-free play it demonstrated against the Gators, while the Bulldog defense will have to tackle far better than they have throughout this season to contain the Wildcats’ powerful running game, which is led by their star tailback, the bruising Benny Snell.
Offensively, UGA will need to be at their best against Kentucky, as the Wildcats boast one of the nation’s best defenses. Kentucky currently ranks third in Defensive S&P+, and they are particularly dangerous against the run, as the ‘Cats rank ninth in Rushing S&P+, while their passing defense is also exceptional, ranking 12th in Passing S&P+. Kentucky’s defense also achieves the difficult feat of combining excellence at preventing explosive plays, ranking 12th in IsoPPP, with a top-15 Havoc ranking. Finally, Kentucky’s defense excels when their backs are against the wall, as they allow only 3.09 points per scoring opportunity, good for fourth in the nation. In summary: they’re damn good, and they’re the unit that’s powered Kentucky to 7-1 and a top 10 ranking this season and Georgia will have to be at their best to even move the ball against a defense this dominant.
Fortunately, the Bulldogs have some experience with defenses as talented as UK’s as they’ve already played LSU and Florida this season. While Georgia was overawed by LSU’s speed and physicality in Baton Rouge, UGA’s work during their bye week in between the LSU debacle and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party clearly paid off, as the offensive unit was far more consistent against the Gators than it had been against the Tigers. In particular, Jake Fromm was far more in command against Florida than he had been against LSU, as he went 17-24 for 240 yards and 3 crucial touchdowns, including a pair of excellently placed fadesto Jeremiah Holloman and a perfectly thrown crossing route to Terry Godwin. Fromm’s performance against an athletic Florida defense has almost certainly quieted the calls for Justin Fields to start, and he will need to continue his efficient play against the Wildcats’ dominant defense, particularly given some of the recent struggles of the running game.
While the running game has been a strength for the ‘Dawgs this season, their performance against Florida could have been better, as the Bulldogs stunk in short-yardage against the Gators, particularly in the red zone. This was highlighted by Florida’s goal-line stand in the third quarter, when Georgia had 7 tries to gain one yard following a Feleipe Franks fumble, and got pushed backwards. Of course, some credit is due to the Gator defense for their efforts, but the Bulldogs must be better against Kentucky in these situations in order to escape Lexington with a win. I’d look to see Elijah Holyfield get more carries as he’s a bit more physical than D’andre Swift, which could wear down the Wildcat defense in the second half.
While the Wildcats’ defense is certainly legit, their offense is a bit… shit. Kentucky ranks 109th in Offensive S&P+, and their passing game is somewhat atrocious, as presumptive starter Terry Wilson has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season. However, despite his inefficiencies as a passer, Wilson is a dangerous runner on the option and as a scrambler as he’s run for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns this season, and he’s got fairly good speed, as shown on hisTD run against Florida. Luckily for Wilson and the Wildcats, star tailback Benny Snell has been able to carry the offense on his shoulders despite the struggles of the passing game. Snell has toted the ball 179 times for 935 yards, and he combines speedwith a nose for the endzone, as he’s found paydirt 9 times this year. Snell will often take direct snaps from the center in short-yardage situations, and he’s even tossed a td pass this season. While Kentucky does have a few other threats, including sophomore receiver Lynn Bowden Jr, it is clear that Snell is the foundation for all of Kentucky’s offensive success.
While it is no surprise that Kentucky will run Snell as often as possible, Georgia will still have to stop him, which will prove a tall task for Georgia’s underperforming run defense. Despite the talent level across the UGA defense, the Junkyard Dawgs have been pedestrian against the run, ranking 77th in rushing S&P+, and they’ve both struggled to inflict negative plays, ranking 77th in stuff rate, and to prevent opposing backs from getting into the second level, ranking 105th in opportunity rate allowed against the run. However, if UGA can leverage Kentucky into passing situations, the Bulldog defense should easily handle the Wildcat passing attack, and could hopefully force a few turnovers as Terry Wilson is forced to test future NFL players such as Deandre Baker, J.R. Reed, and Richard Lecounte.
While Kentucky is having their best season in more than 40 years, I’d expect their dreams of a berth in the SEC Championship to end on Saturday against Georgia. The ‘Dawgs are too complete on all levels for Kentucky’s offense to keep up, particularly given their struggles with the passing game. Kentucky’s defense will keep the game close, however, and I’d expect the first half to stay relatively low-scoring, barring a spate of turnovers on either side. Nevertheless, Georgia’s offense will eventually wear down Big Blue defensively, and the Bulldogs will leave Lexington with an SEC East title and a date in Atlanta with the winner of the Alabama-LSU game.
Georgia 27- Kentucky 13
Kentucky Perspective by u/B1ackMagix of
In a shocking turn of events, the SEC east will be decided in Lexington against Georgia and Kentucky. While I believe Kentucky’s defense is up to the challenge it’s do-or-die time for the offense. Kentucky needs to pay attention to the strong Bulldog opponents past games to hopefully find some keys to victory. Offense
We’ve got a match made for our offensive line. Georgia’s pass defense is top notch (9th in the nation) while their rush defense leaves something to be desired (clocking in at a much lower 43). Compare this to the games we’ve already played and we’re looking at teams like Texas A&M (5), Mississippi State (15), And Mizzou (28). We’ve got a large opportunity to let Snell, Rose and Wilson do what they do best as long as they don’t put a spotter on Wilson. Charge those lines and get some rushing yards. If there’s a game to let our rushing offense shine, it’s here.
Don’t be afraid of the RPO though. Wilson made some incredible passes in the past 8 minutes of the Mizzou game and I hope that confidence carries through. We’ve proved that Bowden is a weapon to be used and we should try to get him some good looks.
Georgia is going to keep us guessing. They like to balance passing with the rush and aren’t afraid to take shots down field when they feel they can. Our defense will need to play top notch to stiffen their offense. Georgia is tied right there with Kentucky as far as sacks allowed go so Allen needs to get his name out there early. Make the offense settle for short gain plays and try to keep them out of their rhythm.
Outside Influences.
The crowd is going to be a factor. We need to be loud and proud and support our team. I don’t see this being a big issue, but it should be a sellout crowd and we should have blue and white be as loud as possible. Saturday is looking cold and cloudy in Lexington, so we should prep for that.
I think this game is going to be close. If Kentucky plays the best game of the season, then we could pull out the upset but that’s a big if. I do think the game will be a lot closer than people give us credit for. Kentucky will play hard but unfortunately our offense is lacking. Our defense won’t be able to cover the slack the offense leaves behind but it will be a close game.
Georgia 28 -Kentucky 24

Missouri @ Florida 4:00 SEC Network

Missouri perspective by u/Marc1221 of
First off, before we get into this game, let’s review the debacle that was last week’s Kentucky/Mizzou Game. I sure hope that wasn’t anybody’s first experience watching college football. It would have been their last. Mizzou got ZERO first downs in the second half and still would have won if either a) the officials didn’t make the worst pass interference call since the 2002 BCS Championship game; b) the remaining crew had the balls to overturn it; c) they run the ball with a late lead and trying to take time off the clock (see SC also); or d) Barry Odom knew something about clock management. But, hey, in the end, this is Mizzou in a nutshell. We are on the wrong end of these game-changing/season- defining/legacy-making calls all the time. It’s a cliché, but if it weren’t for bad luck, Mizzou sports would have no luck at all. The 5th Down. The Flea Kicker. The 1960 KU Jayhawk cheaters. Michael Porter. Jontay Porter. Tyus Edney. Norfolk St. Northern Iowa. And on…and on… and on. Anyway…
I doubt Mizzou shows up for this game. The players are saying the right things…they still believe…they are behind their coach, etc. But Barry Odom is a dead man walking if they lose this game. And part of me would not mind that scenario. Like on Survivor, when a team loses a challenge on purpose to get rid of someone on their own team. A win could energize the team against a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way. And maybe sweeten the prospect of landing Clemson QB transfer Kelly Bryant. And Drew Lock, God love him, has not shown in 4 years that he can lead Mizzou to a victory over any team of significance. Mock drafts still show him as a first round pick, but I would not want to be the GM that made that call. Of course, these mock drafts are made by people with no NFL draft experience, but I see him going 3rd round or lower. His inability to deliver early in his career was explained away because he played 3 sports in high school; he didn’t have time to focus solely on football like his peers. But there is no excuse for 8 CONSECUTIVE three and outs in the second half against Kentucky. That was the Missouri offensive output. 8 possessions…8 three and outs. This team has the talent to contend, but whether it’s coaching or Lock’s breakdown against superior defenses, they find themselves at the end of the season needing a must-win in the 12th game to make a mid December bowl game. I’m not saying they are Bama ready, but eight 3 and outs? How is that even possible?
So, about this game. Florida is 11 in the latest poll and has a couple impressive wins already. Even though they are coming off a tough loss to Georgia, they have a lot more to fight for than the Tigers. They are good in all areas but not great in any particular one, but a better than average passing defense will once again neutralize Drew Lock. We will see how much the Tigers are committed to Odom and this season, and three of their 4 losses so far are against top 10 teams, and they did reel off 6 straight wins last year after a disastrous start to became bowl eligible, including a win at home over Florida, but again, this year had so much more promise. I think you can stick a fork in this team. They are done.
Florida 27 – Mizzou 17
Florida perspective by u/dcspringer (and his wife apparently) of
Florida comes in this week following a loss that a score suggest was more one sided than it felt. The game spiraled out of control in a matter of mere minutes for the Gators, and showed that perhaps they are not ready to contend for crown of the SEC yet. But they are close, and they can get back on track this weekend when a high-powered Missouri offense rolls into Gainesville.
The Gators and Tigers do have something in common, they both have a loss to Kentucky, but the similarities stop there. This Florida team is much improved over that Florida team that lost to Kentucky, and Missouri seems to have regressed on the season. This game is more important for Florida than many give it credit for. Dan Mullen is facing the large conundrum of keeping his team motivated. The Gators making the SEC championship game at this point is an impossibility. Florida holds the clear advantage in talent on both sides of the ball, and the biggest question will lie on whether Gator QB Felipe Franks will deliver a performance worthy of bang or a dud.
The Tigers have the 23rd best ranked passing offense in FBS ball in terms of YPG. Florida, with its 11th ranked pass defense, will look to shut down a Missouri pass offense that has seen its fair share of struggles recently. Missouri has done a decent job of keeping Drew Lock upright, giving up only 10 sacks through 8 games, and that includes a game at Alabama. Florida, on the other hand, has done a decent job of getting to the QB 22 times in 8 games. Getting to Drew Lock should be an important point for the Gator defense to disrupt the passing offense of the Tigers and give the ball back to the Gator offense.
The contractually obligated FSU wife preview:
Florida is a swamp ass garbage team whose players are as criminally inclined as its fans. Spending one second in the swamp is akin to spending an eternity sitting on a boiling hot pile of garbage. It is no wonder that the team is a trash bag full of smaller trash bags full of elephant sh*t. I and the rest of the conscious world look forward to continue to watching it implode for the rest of time until there is nothing left in its place except a work camp for the criminally insane.
(Editors note: yeah… this checks out)
Florida has been a decent but not great team of running the football and using the spread offense. Think how the gators ran when Tebow was there under the glory days of MeyeMullen. Florida must do a better job of ball security and not allow Missouri to have their run of the field when they want. Expect Mullen to give Felipe Franks easy throws early and often to build confidence and allow UF playmakers to make plays in space. Missouri is a team that is as desperate, maybe more so than Florida is. But Florida just gets it done this week. They get off to a slow start due to the cocktail hangover, but open it up and get off to the races. Don’t be surprised if Mr. Jones shows up and shows out if things get fun.
38 Florida-21 Missouri

Alabama @ LSU 8:00 CBS

Alabama Perspective by u/dbatchison of
Oh man, oh man, oh man, I am excited for this game. Some people will say that this is Alabama's first test of the year. Despite us really dominating the Alabama/LSU series for the past 7 years, this rivarly has always been awesome. Coach O has brought some much needed life to the Tigahs and really is the perfect person to hold the reigns in Baton Rouge. When I was growing up, LSU absolutely dominated the series winning 7 of 8 between 2000 and 2007. I was a junior at Alabama for our 9-6 defensive slugfest and went to the championship game in New Orleans that year. Following the game, I experienced the perfect summary of what Alabama vs LSU is all about:
While standing in front of Fat Catz on Bourbon Street, a crying, gorgeous, blonde tiger fan yelled between tears and quick breaths "SUCK... THAT TIGAH... DICK, BITCH!" at me while throwing a full unoppened can of bud light, hitting me square in the jaw. She then ran up, hugged me, and started making out with me. Ending her passionate embrace, she shoved me away and stumbled away into the crowd, blending with the masses as quickly as she appeared, vanishing away into the night.
I believe this is a perfect summary of the Alabama-LSU rivalry. We love to hate each other. Corndogs, I expect a hell of a fight and am eagerly anticipating it. Roll Tide. I also believe this rivalry (along with the Iron Bown) needs a trophy. I suggest having a large, gold plated Gumbo Pot something this size mounted on a base with placards riveted around the sides of the pot featuring the games. The team that wins keeps it until next year. I don't like the name "the Saban Bowl" because this rivalry goes all the way back to the 1900s. It should be called something else, the "Boudin Bowl"... the Cajun Confrontation... the "At least we're not Mississippi" Showdown... the Corndog Combine... idk, something like that
35 Alabama-24 LSU
It really hurts me to say I have no LSU preview this week. Alas, 5 outa six aint bad. As always if you would like to write a preview pm me! It’s a first come first serve basis so even if someone wrote for your team this week they may be available next.
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Preview of the Man o' War Stakes and more

It’s funny, my very first article for isportsweb in 2010 was focused around my home track of Belmont Park in New York. It’s fitting that my last article will also be focused around Belmont as we will be looking at five races there this weekend, highlighted by the Grade: 1 Man o’ War Stakes, a marathon turf contest for four year olds and up.
Other races we will be examining in my pro-tem, farewell article include the Beaugay Stakes, an 8 ½ furlong test for four year olds and up fillies and mares, the Run Happy Stakes, a six furlong dash for four year olds and up, the Vagrancy Handicap, which is a 6 ½ furlong race for four year olds and up fillies and mares and, what is perennial a prep race for the “Test of Champions” Belmont Stakes, the nine furlong Peter Pan Stakes for three year olds.
A few final shout outs and thank you’s before I go. To Tom in Detroit, who bets more horses in a single weekend than I do all year (probably), Len, who lives near Oaklawn Park and keeps me on my toes with good, text message questions, Theresa in London, England who I think is more into American racing than in her home country and Clement in South Africa, who emails excellent racing questions about the sport worldwide.
Don, Russ and Irwin all deserve mentions as well.
Extra special shout out to Jain in California, who is an amazing human being and was instrumental in getting me a side gig writing for EQluxe magazine, and Melanie, who emailed several times a week and was a sponge for horse racing knowledge. Unfortunately Melanie took ill several months ago and I haven’t heard from her since. Melanie, hope you are ok.
Perhaps my biggest shout out and thank you goes to Denise, my editor for the past 4-5 years and my friend for the past 30 years. Denise worked tirelessly for me at all hours of the night, through several physical issues and kept me “in check” so to speak.
Thanks Denise, my articles went into another stratosphere since you came on board.

Saturday, May 1, 2019
Belmont Park
Race: 1 (1:30 PM EST Post)
Vagrancy Handicap
Separationofpowers is a drop dead gorgeous daughter of Candy Ride who boasts a pair of Grade: 1 wins in her career. Only one of her opponents in this race has ever even run in one and it was an up the track finish. She logically towers over this field and, even though her works are a bit ho-hum, this is an excellent spot to kick off her 2019 campaign…………………..Pacific Gale ran lights out in chasing (second) the absolutely streaking Come Dancing last time out. You get the “Horse for the Course” angle with her too as she is 2 for 4 at Belmont yet 1 for 11 everywhere else. The only concern is, off such a big effort last time out, she could be on the threshold of a “bounce” effort here…………………………Dawn the Destroyer has run fairly well in all three 2019 starts. Looks best of the rest even though she is showing signs of cycling out of form.

Race: 4 (3:08 PM EST Post)
Peter Pan Stakes
Global Campaign is a very handsome son of Curlin who won his first two starts then chased Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth and checked in fifth. I thought that was a sneaky good race as a) he was only beaten by 5 ½ lengths in just his third career start and b) note he was among the vanguard through torrid early fractions but held well late. After being freshened up a bit, this looks like a good spot to resume his campaign as I see no Code of Honors in here…………………….Intrepid Heart is a $750,000, well bred colt who has speed, the rail and is 2 for 2 in his young career. Gray by Tapit out of Stakes winner Flaming Heart steps up here but his speed figures say he’s a contender…………………….Sir Winston is tough to get a read on. On one hand this colt by Awesome Again chased Tax, Tacitus and Vekoma in his last three races and will meet no such rivals here. On the other hand, he appears to be cycling out of form……………….I won’t be surprised if Final Jeopardy runs well in this spot. Bay colt by Street Sense won two of his first three races by daylight but was thrown to the wolves in his fourth race (Wood Memorial). Jason Servis trainee returns to a more reasonable spot here.

Race: 7 (4:43PM EST Post)
Beaugay Stakes
Competitionofideas won three of her last four, including shipping 3,000 miles to Santa Anita to take down the Grade: 1 American Oaks, to end 2018. Filly by wide spectrum sire Speightstown handles any footing and any distance……logical, albeit short priced, choice………………….Throw a blanket over the rest and pick one as the rest of this field is difficult to separate. That said, I’ll go with Homerique, who ships over from France having running very well in several Group: 1 contests there……………..Andina Del Sur gets the call for the show dough here. Albeit, she is just 2 for 13 lifetime, it must be note she has hit the board in 7 of 11 turf tries.

Race: 9 (5:51PM EST Post)
Run Happy Stakes
Recruiting Ready is a speedy son of Algorithms who has won two of his last four but any one of those last four races are good enough to win this. Good looking five year old returns to his optimal distance (5 for 10 at 6F) as well…………………Firenze Fire will probably be your post time favorite but I’m going to try to beat him in this spot as he drives me batty with his inconsistencies. Colt by Poseidon’s Warrior, who was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup (Dirt) Mile to end 2018 and probably needed his 2019 debut at Tampa Bay Downs, should (keyword “should”) be setup to run well in this spot……………………..Killybegs Captain is in good form right now. Gray, five year old has won two in a row, including completely outrunning the speedy Imperial Hint two starts back, before just missing in his last, plus he likes this distance and this track. …………….Honorable Mentions: Bon Raison is a hard knocker who also likes this track…………………Ready to Escape has speed, the rail and has hit the board in seven of eight career tries. Four year old by More Than Ready steps out of New York State Bred competition for the first time however.

Race: 10 (6:24 PM EST Post)
Man o’ War Stakes
Although Magic Wand is a filly taking on older males and she is just 2 for 12 in her career, she has run HUGE against some of the top turf horses in the world in her last three which consist of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile, The Pegasus Turf Cup and the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic. Although this is a Grade:1 with 700,000 “dead presidents” on the line, I’m seeing a slight drop in class for her here………………..Zulu Alpha won two Graded Stakes to kick off the year but moved WAY too soon in his last, leaving him vulnerable down the lane and checked in third in his last. That race/move probably cost Jose Ortiz the mount as Castellano now takes the reins…………………Focus Group could be an up and coming turf star. This five year old by Kitten’s Joy came storming down the lane to win the Pan American at Gulfstream Park last time out, which was his first start in 5 ½ months. Stretch runner has won four of his last six dating back to last year. It’s just that 0 for 4 record on the Belmont turf course that deters me from him slightly…………….Honorable Mentions: Epical used his early speed to win three of his last four races and just missed in a race sandwiched between those wins. Bay gelding by Uncle Mo is another who ran big off a layoff but, unlike Focus Group, beware the “bounce” here…………………….Hunting Horn is another who has taken on the world’s best turf horses throughout his career. However, this son of Camelot is just 2 for 15 and, although this looks like a drop in class for him as well, I believe he is a tad overrated…………….Channel Maker doesn’t seem to be in the best of forms right now, but when right, he has the ability to win the whole enchilada.

By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
2019- Record: 26-83 = 31%
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%

Little Bets N’ Pieces
*** Multiple Grade: 1 Stakes winner Bolt d’Oro, who covered his first season of mares this year at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, will shuttle to Spendthrift Australia for the upcoming breeding season. A service fee has been set at $13,750 which will be payable on live foal terms.
“Bolt d’Oro will be the highest profile stallion to shuttle to Spendthrift Australia since we’ve opened our doors, and we believe he’ll be very attractive to our market,” said Garry Cuddy, Spendthrift Australia general manager.
“It all starts with his two year old form. Bolt d’Oro is widely regarded as one of the best U.S. two year olds of the last decade, winning a pair of respected Group Ones in very fast times and dominating fashion. He is by a proven outcross sire in Medaglia d’Oro, who needs little introduction here when it comes to his ability to sire high class two year olds, and he is completely free of Danehill or Danzig blood. Bolt d’Oro established himself as one of the most popular first season stallions in the U.S. this year, and we very much look forward to being able to show him to our breeders.”
Bolt d’Oro retired with four wins from eight starts and earnings of $1,016,000.

**** Trainer Bob Baffert has confirmed that Kentucky Derby fifth place finisher (promoted to fourth after the DQ) Improbable will be pointed to the Preakness Stakes next week.
The gorgeous chestnut, who was ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., in the Derby, but will instead have Mike Smith for the Preakness.
Baffert's other two Derby contenders, Game Winner and Roadster, are currently not expected for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
“It's too early to tell. I want to let the dust settle,” Baffert said. “I should know more in a few days. Right now, Improbable is the only one I'm considering for it. But I'm not sure. It takes about a week to find out how they are.”

* While talking about Baffert, I could not agree more with his statement about the Kentucky Derby DQ:
“No one ever calls an objection in the Derby,” Baffert said. “It's always a roughly run race. Twenty-horse field. I have been wiped out numerous times, but that is the Derby. I can see by the book why they did it. But sometimes you've got to take your ass kickings with dignity.”

**** 2012 Breeders' Cup Sprint Trinniberg has been sold and will be relocated to Haras La Concordia in Uruguay.
The 10 year old was bought by a coalition of South American breeders, including Haras La Concordia, Haras San Miguel Queguay, and BGC Thoroughbred Stud in a deal brokered by Ricardo Colombo.
Trinniberg is very popular in South America having shuttled to Brazil in 2014 and to Uruguay in 2016-17 and sired 29 winners in Brazil, including black-type winner Adaga Do Rei.
Trinniberg also has two Brazilian black-type performers in Group: 2 placed Aristocratica and Above the Stars. In the Northern Hemisphere, Trinniberg has just five overall winners to date.
On the track, Trinniberg was first or second in eight Graded Stakes and earned $1,553,086. He entered stud at Rockridge Stud in New York and stood most recently stood for $3,500.
Haras La Concordia stands several U.S. bred stallions, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, shuttle stallion Smarty Jones.

**** Grade 2 winner Instagrand sustained a sesamoid fracture to one of his rear legs in the Pat Day Mile last weekend.
The Into Mischief colt is scheduled to have surgery to repair the fracture at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and is expected to return to training later this year.
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Preview of the LeComte; Silverbulletday Stakes' and more

Well, that was quick, wasn’t it?
If you ask me, I say the winter doldrums are already over. Yes, it’s still cold in most parts of the country, but racing action officially heats up this weekend.
I looked ahead, all the way to the Belmont Stakes, and with the exception of the weekend of February 23rd, there is excellent racing every single weekend until the “Test of Champions”. Then just a couple of weeks after that, the Del Mar and Saratoga meets open.
Starting on Saturday, we will be traveling the country with stops at three different tracks with our highlighted race being the 2019 Le Comte Stakes at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana.
While at the Fair Grounds, we will also be looking at the Silverbulletday Stakes, also a mile and seventy yards contest but for three year old fillies.
Elsewhere, we’ll head east of the Fair Grounds to Gulfstream Park in Florida for a look at the nine furlong, Sunshine Millions Classic for four year olds and up. There are also a pair of turf Stakes races on the Sunshine Millions Classic card; the Sunshine Millions Turf and the Sunshine Millions Turf Filly and Mare. Both are run at a mile and a sixteenth and carry $150,000 purses.
From there, we head west, all the way to Santa Anita for a look at the six furlong Palos Verdes Stakes, a Grade: 2 dash for four year olds and up.
Lastly, let me address my mistake last weekend. Somehow, I put the La Canada break down under the Marshua’s River Stakes and omitted the Marshua’s River Stakes completely.
I was having some computer issues but that’s really not an excuse. I apologize for any confusion it might have caused and, even though I had the winner and exacta in the La Canada, I’m going to scratch those two races and take the losses instead. That mistake won’t happen again.

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Gulfstream Park
Race: 6 (2:15 PM EST Post)
Sunshine Millions Turf
Big Changes had a phenomenal year last year while recording a 7-5-2-0 record. Take note in the two defeats he just missed behind multiple Graded Stakes winner Mr. Misunderstood and a razor sharp right now Great Wide Open. That :48 half mile work last week was 3rd of 145, he has excellent connections (Castellano takes the leg up from Brad Cox) and, with rain in the forecast for Hallandale this weekend, he can handle an off turf course…………………………It’s very rare when I can say a horse cuts back 7 ½ furlongs off his last race but that’s exactly the situation for Archer Road, who made a very strong middle move in the two mile H. Allen Jerkens last time out but weakened shortly thereafter, finishing ninth. This son of Leroidesanimaux cuts back to a more reasonable distance here and all five career wins have come on this very turf course. Albeit his rider is ice cold right now, he still figures bang up……………………..Class and Cash is a speedy, yet tactical, well bred, win machine. This good looking gray son of Exchange Rate (out of an A.P. Indy mare) is batting over .500 on the turf (13 for 27) and has hit the board an astounding 22 times out of those 27 starts as well. Although his recent works are a little slower than I’d like to see, he gets a major jockey upgrade here as 2018 Eclipse Award nominee Irad Ortiz Jr. gets the leg up……………………Honorable Mentions: Driven by Thunder looks overmatched here but there were a few things about him that caught my attention. First off, he was reclaimed by the PletcheRepole team two starts back (reclaims always peak my interest), he is 4 for 6 on this turf course and Pletcher reaches out to his “go to” rider Johnny V. in this spot, which totally makes sense being Johnny V. is 3 for 3 aboard this son of Overdriven....... “Ignore Pletcher, leave the track on a stretcher”…………………Second Mate also looks overmatched here but he made an enormous late run vs. lesser late last time out. He too will get a serious rider upgrade and he’ll go first time off the claim for trainer Jorge Abreu, who hits at an eye popping 25% in these types of situations. (My Play: $5.00 exacta box with the top 3 and a .50 cent trifecta box using all 5 horses. Cost: $60.00)

Race: 10 (4:15 PM EST Post)
Sunshine Filly and Mare Millions Turf
Starship Jubilee towers over this field in money won and “back class”. Even though she went down in flames as the 7/10 favorite in her last, her two previous races, which include a Grade: 2 win in Canada then set the pace and held very well late in the Grade: 1 E.P Taylor also in Canada, were both first rate efforts. This mare, who was purchased for $6,500 but has made over $560,000 thus far, is 7 for 14 on this turf course, gets the services of Javier Castellano and that sizzling half mile work last week (4F- :46.2) signals readiness…...logical choice…………Although Picara is 0 for 4 on this turf course, she has rounded back into top form in textbook style through her last three races. Trainer Todd Pletcher once again reaches out to Johnny V. and the only question left is, how will she handle what might be an off turf course being she’s never run over one?.......................Mrs. Ramona G is another who is peaking out in form right now. Gray filly by Kantharos, from the “Miah” barn, is 4 for 6 on the weeds and comes into this riding a three race win streak. Steps up but could be a menace……………………………Honorable Mentions: Southern Sis is yet another in good form right now as she has either won or has been “right there” on the wire in her last four races. Another daughter of Kantharos, this mare is 2 for 3 on this turf course and was making up ground late vs. Picara at 7 ½ furlongs….logically merits attention with the stretch out in distance in this spot…………Madame Uno is 3 for 5 on this turf course and just 1 for 7 everywhere else, so it’s safe to say she likes this surface and you get the “horse for the Course” angle. This daughter of the hulking First Dude will be making her first start in over seven months but she hasn’t run badly off of layoffs in the past…………………………Florida Fuego shows only two turf races but both were very good, third place finishes with both vs. open company. A red hot Jaramillo gets the leg up…listen, stranger things have happened. (My Play: $20 win on Starship Jubilee, .50 trifecta box with the top 5 horses. Cost: $80.00)

Race: 11(4:47 PM EST Post)
Sunshine Millions Classic
Although beaten by a country mile to the mega talented World of Trouble last time out, it must be noted that Noble Drama made a very impressive late run, coming from near last to get second, over a sloppy track. This gelding’s prior two races show a close up second behind Mr. Jordan (after a ridiculously wide run on the turn) and a game win over that same rival three back. He stretches out to a more suitable distance in this spot and, trust me, there are no World(s) of Trouble(s) in this field……………After valiantly winning his last, the gorgeous, almost all white Mr. Jordan is still getting it done at seven years old. Still another offspring of Kantharos, he figures to go off as your post time favorite, but I’m going to try to beat him in this spot based off the fact he is a strong 9 for 17 everywhere else in his career, yet a very ugly 1 for 17 on this oval…………………………..The regally bred Souper Tapit (by Tapit out of Grade:1 Mother Goose Stakes winner Zo Impressive) hit the board in all seven races last year but won just once. The now five year old chestnut ran a hole in the wind in his last while pulverizing mid level optionals which begs the question… did he run so huge last time out because he took his Gulfstream Park debut very well? Or was that a “freak” performance and he bounces over the moon in this spot? Your call from there…………………Honorable Mentions: Forevamo was just starting to get good towards the end of last year but has been put away since. If he picks up where he left off, we’ll be ok but my thinking is he is going to “need one”……………………..Dalmore, who either runs big or doesn’t run at all, has trained very well at Gulfstream Park for his Gulfstream Park debut and does have some back class to run well here. (My Play: .50 trifecta box, all 5 horses. Cost $30.00)
Fair Grounds
Race: 11 (6:20 PM EST Post)
Silverbulletday Stakes
Although Liora was allowed an easy lead in the sloppy tracked, Grade: 2 Golden Rod last time out, she was dead game in fending off upper echelon two (now three) year old filly Restless Rider the entire length of the stretch for the win. This $175,000 daughter of Candy Ride broke her maiden by a colossal margin prior to that and this distance hits her right between the eyes as she is 2 for 2 at 8 ½ furlongs. Of course, dropping from a Grade: 2 into a Grade: 3 won’t hurt her chances either…narrow margin in a very competitive horse race………………….Albeit Needs Supervision will be making her first start in 56 days, she merits respect in this spot. Good looking daughter of Paynter is just a half length away from coming into this race unbeaten in three starts. She looked really good drawing away from $75,000, NW1X optionals last time out, stopping the clock in a very strong 1:36.3 for one mile over a sloppy track. Moreover, you get the “first time Lasix” angle and kudos to her trainer for putting together a “textbook” work pattern for this race, including sizzling 6Fs in 1:10.4 two weeks ago…………………..Grandaria was visually impressive blowing the doors off of maidens two starts back, then came from near last with a brazen, six wide rally at the quarter pole to beat $50,000 optional NW1X in her last. This $170,000 daughter of Curlin must be considered here………………….Honorable Mentions: Although through slow early fractions and registering a slow final time, I liked the way Cowgirls Like Us took pace pressure for the first half mile, yet was drawing away late in her last race. That win was her third straight Stakes win. I also like the versatility she has shown through those three races as she is tactical enough for any pace scenario. Steps up in class big time here but could be a menace…………………..Mandy Blue is unbeaten in two starts, one on the turf and one on the dirt, for a 23% Brad Cox. Filly by the late Smart Strike is no easy throw out here. (My Play: .50 trifecta box, all 5, cost $30.00)
Race: 12 (6:49 PM EST Post)
LeComte Stakes
This race came up very strong this year….. I’ll gingerly take War of Will. This good looking colt by War Front faced much better on the turf last year and held his own quite well, including in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (close up fifth). He then proved his mettle on the dirt when hammering maidens on Nov 24. What I found even more interesting is he hammered those maidens some 30 minutes after my second place pick Plus Que Parfait just missed catching Signalman as both horses ran on the same track and on the same card with Plus One Parfait’s final time being just 1/5th of a second faster…..narrow margin here……………….. In taking War of Will, Plus Que Parfait scares the daylights out of me. This chestnut ridgling rallied from near last to just miss catching (at this point in the year) Kentucky Derby contender and close up, third place Breeders’ Cup Juvenile finisher Signalman in his last. On paper, and with the possible exception of my top pick, he meets no such rivals in this race……………………….……………..I have no idea why Roiland is 12-1 on the morning line. Handsome colt by Successful Appeal was a neck shy of coming into the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes unbeaten last time out. He completely missed the break in that race and was 12th early on but unleashed a very nice late run, passing nine horses late, to get fifth (behind Plus Que Parfait and Signalman). Trainer Tom Amoss has won this race four times, he gets “blinkers on” (signaling to me he might be forwardly placed here) and shows a monster work (5F- :59.2) two weeks ago. I was figuring he would open at 5 or 6 to 1…………………………………Honorable Mentions: Tight Ten showed zilch in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but his two prior races were close up, second place finishes in a pair of Graded Stakes races. Colt by Tapit would be tough if he were to run back to either of those efforts here………………… I hate to put Mr. Money this far down as he completely outran his 41-1 odds in the aforementioned Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. After being among the vanguard early, he finished fourth that day. He’s been off since but he shows a good series of works coming into this and his trainer Bret Calhoun hits at a 21% clip when bringing horse back from between 46-90 day layoffs……………………After smoking maidens and gamely beating mid-level optionals to improve his record to 2 for 2 on this oval, Tackett deserves a mention and could conceivably better this rating………………………Manny Wah’s last three races consist of a three length win, chasing that beast they call Improbable (fourth) and being beaten by just one length in his Fair Ground (Stakes) debut in his last. (My Play: Tough race, $5.00 exacta box using the top 3, Cost: $30.00)
Santa Anita Park
Race: 9 (7:00 PM EST Post)
Palos Verdes Stakes
2017 Sprint Champion Roy H, who will most likely wear that crown again for 2018 based off his back to back Grade: 1 wins to end the year, makes his 2019 debut here. The now seven year old son of More Than Ready, who is not the only crack sprinter running this weekend (see X Y Jet in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park), is 4 for 6 on this oval and has been training well at San Luis Rey Downs in preparation for this. His connections said they will “follow a similar path” to his probable championship year last year so I’m not sure he is 100% “cranked up.”….past that, he is very tough to go against…………………The stretch running Kanthaka is 3 for 5 on this oval and had not one, but two legitimate excuses last time out (overmatched in the Grade: 1 Malibu Stakes and was making his first start in that race in 7 ½ months at the same time). The son of Jimmy Creed should be tighter for this with that race under his belt and has also trained forwardly since…….looks next best………………….Awesome Anywhere is 4 for 5 on this oval vs. lesser foes. Steps up but this chestnut gelding ran lights out in his last race in October. “Big Money Mike” takes the leg up from Jerry Hollendorfer and he should come out running here………………………..Honorable Mentions: St. Joe Bay always gives a good account of himself on this oval as his 12-3-5-2 record would indicate………………Distinctive B has finished right behind St Joe Bay and Roy H in the recent past, signaling to me that when he’s right, he can contend. (My Play: .50 cent trifecta box, all 5 horses Cost : $30.00)

By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
2019- Record: 0-5 = 0% (My Plays: -$90.00)
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%

Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Probable Two Year Old Champion Filly Jaywalk had her first published work since winning the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly race on Nov 2.
The John Servis trainee went four furlongs in an easy :50 4/5 at Palm Meadows last Friday morning.
Servis caught the gray daughter of Cross Traffic in splits of :13 3/5, :26 1/5, and :38 3/5, and galloped out to five furlongs in 1:03.
"She went a nice, easy half. It was perfect," Servis said. "She galloped out super, so she didn't lose much (fitness). Everything went very good."
Servis said he is targeting the $200,000 Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies going one mile March 2 at Gulfstream as Jaywalk's 2019 debut.

**** With the Pegasus World Cup coming up next weekend, some of the contenders put finals works in for the $9 million, Grade: 1:
* Florida Derby winner Audible went five furlongs in 1:00.4 at Palm Beach Downs. The Todd Pletcher trainee worked in company with stablemate Impact Player.
“Audible’s training really well,” said Pletcher. “I’ve been pleased with all of his works, particularly this morning. It was a good, solid five-eighths with a strong gallop-out that we were looking for. All indications are he’s in good form and coming up to the race very well.”
After finishing a disappointing second as the 1/5 favorite in Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, the gorgeous bay seems to be in good form.
“Unfortunately, before the race, the skies opened and we got a downpour into a harrowed track. They tried to seal it after that but it was too late. I think, more than anything, he didn’t like the condition of the track. He didn’t fire his best shot. He came out of it well and has trained better than ever coming into the Pegasus. It served its purpose in terms of conditioning.” Pletcher added. “I think a mile and an eighth is ideal for him”.
* At Gulfstream Park West, Gunnevera went six furlongs work in 1:15.4 under regular rider Irad Ortiz.
“He worked really good,” said Ortiz. “He’s doing everything right. Hopefully, he comes back to racing the way he is right now.”
* Grade: 1 winner Seeking the Soul went five furlongs in a bullet (best of 77) 1:00 flat at the Fair Grounds for trainer Dallas Stewart.
“Just a strong, basic work for him,” Stewart said. “That’s him. He’s doing great.
*Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate worked seven furlongs in a bullet 1:27.1
“I got him in 1:27, out a mile in 1:40 4/5, so it was a good long-distance work,” trainer John Sadler said. “On this track, it’s not super-fast. He’ll come back next week with more of a blowout type work, like five-eighths or something like that. But I’m glad we got this one in today because of the weather. It’s going to rain tomorrow and we’ve got a lot of rain next week.”
* In other Pegasus news, Grade: 1 winner McKinzie is “very doubtful” for the race according to trainer Bob Baffert.
Owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman had not paid the $500,000 fee necessary to earn a berth in the race even though only 11 starters are confirmed for the race, yet the race can include as many as 12.
“McKinzie is doing really well and he will get even better,” Baffert said. “You can tell that he’s changing. It’s just that we didn’t want to take any chances of taking a step backwards. I’ve gone down to Gulfstream for that race before and I know how demanding the race is. The payment is $500,000, so you have to at least run third for it to be a push.”
Baffert said the only way he would change his mind and try to get McKinzie into the race were if “something dramatic” happened to the body of the field.
“With horses as good as Accelerate and City of Light, someone like that would have to defect for us to change our minds,” he said. “If we were talking about Arrogate, American Pharoah or Justify we’d go. But this horse is different. He is a very nice horse, but he is still developing. I think that if we do right by him he’s going to wind up being the best older horse in the country and I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves this early in the year”.
Baffert said he has no particular plans for McKinzie, but mentioned the Santa Anita Handicap or the Metropolitan Mile as possibilities.
“The Met (Mile) would be a great race for him,” Baffert added.

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Basic betting terms Win: The horse selected will win the race. Place: The horse selected will finish first or second. Show: The horse selected will finish in the top three. Exacta: Two horses Across the board – A bet on a horse to win, place, and show. If the horse wins, the bettor collects three ways; if second, two ways (place, show); and if third, one way, losing the win and place bets. On the nose – Betting a horse to win only. Kentucky collides with Auburn in SEC showdown February 28, 2020 1:00 pm Expert tips for Horse Racing Betting – Win-Place-Show Bets. Also known as an “Across the Boards” bet, a Win-Place-Show bet is a manner of horse racing betting that is much like a Show bet. The bettor selects a single horse to Win, Place or Show (finish in first, second or third) in the race. If the horse Wins, Places or Shows, the bet is won. Win, Place & Show Bets Explained. The general bets on horse racing including betting on a horse to win, which means they obviously must finish in first.Those odds will pay out well if you hit, but Horse Betting Terms. Straight Bets: Probably the most famous terms when is comes to betting horse: Win, Place, and Show. Win A Win bet is just what it sounds like: betting that the horse you pick will win the race. You win if the horse wins. Place A Place bet is wagering on the horse to either first or second place. Show

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