First look at the Enlightened Derby and Oaks Trails for 2018-2019

What I’ve linked in this post is my first attempt at the next season’s Trails.  The races listed are the ones for 2YOs that represent the best race for each track that would normally fit on the actual Trails.  I’ve yet to figure out the 3YO portion, as most of the tracks with such high profile races have not published their 2019 calendar yet.

Here’s the Derby version.

And here’s the Oaks version.

My source for this is the stakes calendar at


Stephen Foster Handicap analysis

The Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs is a race for 3YO+, 9 furlongs, with a 500k purse, at the Grade 1 level.
My top 3 horses here are 6-2-9…Backyard Heaven, Patch and Pavel.
Overlays: Patch, Lookin At Lee.
Patch won his 2nd maiden race with a 101 score, was 2nd in the Louisiana Derby with a 98, then bounced in the KY Derby. He would finish 3rd in the Belmont, then 4th in the WV Derby, then won an allowance race last month debuting as a 4YO. He is the only early closer in this race.
Lookin At Lee comes out of a 62.5k optional claimer win here at CD, scoring a 98, a small new top that was just better than his runs in the Triple Crown races.Slight possibility of a bounce, as he paired his 98 with a 95 in the Oaklawn, ahead of an 88 in another allowance race. 4 works here at Churchill in prep.

I plan to use Lookin At Lee and Patch for wins, and use under Backyard Heaven for exactas. Lots of ways to score, as I’d likely use Pavel with some exactas here as well, assuming the ML odds.

2018 Belmont Day stakes races analysis

Lots to get to for this 10-stake Belmont Stakes Day…so, as scratches/changes get posted, I’ll update this post. Let’s get started! For brevity’s sake I’ll just post thoughts on my top valued choice, as well as mention overlays.

Race 2 is the Easy Goer, 8.5 furlongs, 150k purse for leading 3YOs. Top 3 are 5-8-4…..Prince Lucky, High North and Soutache. Overlays: Prince Lucky, Soutache. One of 2 races today where I expect any favorite to finish no better than 3rd, if at all. Prince Lucky won 3 of his first 4 races lifetime, then had some trouble in classier races. Last race was 5/19 in the Sir Barton at Pimlico, running 3rd with an 87, and a wide, shifting trip. It was an improvement on his prior race, 2 months following layoff, with a faster 2nd call time, and a slight gain on the leader. Hopefully something to build upon today.
UPDATE: Mask is now my 2nd choice here.

Race 3 is the Ogden Phipps, Grade 1 event worth 750k, fillies/mares 4YO+ going 8.5 furlongs. Top 3 are 5-1-2…American Gal, Unbridled Mo, and Ivy Bell. Overlays are Ivy Bell and Unchained Melody. Ivy Bell has been 1st or 2nd in 12 of 14 lifetime. Comes out of 2 stellar efforts since claim by Todd Pletcher, a 98 in the Humana Distaff, and a 100 in winning the Inside Information. One of several with recent new tops in pace. Only horse here who is improving after first run after layoff. Gained very well at 2nd call speed and slightly better vs leader.
UPDATE: Following changes, top 3 are now 1-4-2….Unbridled Mo, Pacific Wind and Ivy Bell.

Race 4 is the Acorn, for top 3YO fillies going 1 mile, 700k. Top 3 are the favored Monomoy Girl and Caledonia Road, then the overlay Starcloud.3-5-6. In a race that otherwise might be worth passing, Starcloud is the worst per odds of this 7 horse field. But I happen to like her. Winner of 4 of 5 lifetime, including the Game Face last out at Gulfstream, with a strong 96. Off for 7 weeks, she’s freshest among those stretching out. Switching jockeys back to regular rider Albin Jiminez.

Race 5 is the Brooklyn Invitational, for 4YOs +, going 12 furlongs in this Grade 2 event. Top 3 are 9-4-5….War Story, Take Your Guns, and Mills. Overlays are Mills and Giant Payday. My reason for liking the big longshot is his 3 local works, plus a strong 4 length gain on leaders in his last race, the Mr Sinatra on 3/31.

Race 6 is the Jaipur for 4YOs +, a 6 furlong turf race at Grade 2, worth 400k. I have confidence in just 2…Disco Partner and Pure Sensation, 5-2. Probably the weakest of today’s races, I like Pure Sensation for value. 17 of 26 races in the money, the 7 year old is 2 races removed from his lifetime best of 102, in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint. He’s the only horse who could bounce back in pace. Jockey switch back to Kendrick Carmouche, his regular rider.

Race 7 is the Woody Stephens, for 3YOs going 7 furlongs and a 400k purse. Top 3 are 12-11-2…Strike Power, World Of Trouble, and overlay Pure Shot. Pure Shot I am playing strictly from a track bias point of view….in 16 races at this distance during the meet, 6 were won by pure sprinters, and 3 by posts 1-3. Adds blinkers for the first time. Also jockey switch back to Ricardo Santana Jr. The other overlay here is Beautiful Shot.

Race 8 is the Longines Just A Game…turf mile for fillies/mares 4YO+, Grade 1. Top 3 are Off Limits, Dream Dancing (overlay), and Proctor’s Ledge (3-2-5). Dream Dancing is the big longshot at 20-1 in this field of 8. She is one of 2 who have posted a recent small new top as her year’s best…96 and 4th last out in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill on Derby Day. It was a nice improvement after being off for 12 weeks, with an 11 point gain in speed figure by 2nd call, and 1.5 lengths on the leader.

Race 9 is the Met Mile, Grade 1 event for 3YO+. Top 3 are 10-4-9….Bee Jersey, McCraken and Warrior’s Club. This is the other race to eliminate favorites out of in the top 2. Bee Jersey began his career running at Dubai in 2016, then found much better success here in the US….103 lifetime best 2 races ago in an optional claimer 62k race, then a 106 while winning a Grade 3 event at Lone Star on 5/6. He’s the lone sprinter of the field. Also, 11 of 39 races run as dirt miles during the meet have been won by pure sprinters, and 7 from posts 8 and out. Warrior’s Club is the overlay in this race.

Race 10 is the $1 million Manhattan, Grade 1 event for top 4YOs+, going 10 furlongs on the inner turf. Another great handicapping race, with lots of contenders and ways oto score. Top 3 are longshot/overlay Fashion Business, Beach Patrol and Channel Maker (overlay too, along with One Go All Go and Hello Don Julio). 7-10-9. Fashion Business I like most based on her 40k optional claimer last out, a 92 run after an 8 month was a slight improvement at 2nd call plus a few lengths against the leader at that point, en route to winning that race.

Race 11 is the big Belmont Stakes itself, and the opportunity for Justify to be a truly immortal horse. I do like him outright, followed by Vino Rosso and Gronkowski. Overlays are those latter two plus Restoring Hope. Vino Rosso bounced from his Wood Memorial win to 9th in the KY Derby. One of several who should bounce back in pace. I like his pattern of recent speed figures: 91, 102, 91, 100. Triple digit run today? Despite the bounce, he did make some ground at 2nd call vs Justify. 1-8-6

2018 Preakness Stakes analysis/selections

Now for the boys’ turn, as I give you a capsule, horse-by-horse look at the Preakness.

QUIP won his maiden debut in September, then also in a 67k allowance race. Finished 7th in the Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade 2). Broke through in pace with a 98 following a 14-week layoff, debuting at 3 in the Tampa Bay Derby. Last out, was 2nd in the Arkansas Derby, scoring a 95. 4/14 is the longest wait for any of this 8-horse field to stretch further to 9.5 furlongs. 2 fast works at Keeneland in prep. Was 2nd at nearly each call in his last 2, both running at a snail’s pace.
Prediction: Winner.
Odds prediction: 8-5. Overlay.

LONE SAILOR came out of the Kentucky Derby with something of a setback from his lifetime best of 100 to 92. Given that his 100 score in the Lousiana Derby was 7 weeks ago, that still allows him time to run to that effort. He’s the lone closer of the field, too. He should require a fast pace early that slows down to average. Thomas Amoss, his trainer, did not make any notable adjustments for this horse in prep.
Prediction: 5th.
Odds prediction: 10-1. Overlay.

SPORTING CHANCE has shown a mixed bag of results in his 7 lifetime races. His 2 wins came early in his career: Maiden score at Saratoga with a strong 89, followed by a 98 in the Grade 1 Hopeful. Took in a lot of money since those races, and notably was DQ’d to 4th in the Blue Grass. Last outing was in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day, with a troubled trip and a drop to 79 while finishing 4th. I can never trust a horse labeled as a sprinter who doesn’t have some share of the lead at any point.
Prediction: 8th.

DIAMOND KING has had a rather interesting 6 races under most folks’ radars…unless your radar was watching Laurel and Parx. Worst race of the bunch was the Kentucky Jockey Club, as he lost his rider. Of the races he’s finished, his worst was in his debut, finishing with an 87. Since the debacle at CD, he’s scored with 91, 93 and 95. Wins include the Heft and the Federico Tesio. Thing is, this is a big jump in class for him, and the speed figures aren’t quite up to par with those who ran in the Derby.
Prediction: 6th.

GOOD MAGIC I really liked in the Derby, running close to Justify all throughout. A fine career in 6 starts: 2nd in his maiden debut, 2nd in the Champagne, winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile (105 Brisnet, his best), 3rd in the Fountain Of Youth, wins the Blue Grass, and 2nd in the Run for all those Roses. Best pattern of speed figures of this field (last 3 numbers were 99, 98, 98). Only early closer in the field. Requires an average pace throughout to get his pace set up.
Prediction: 2nd. If rain, drop to 3rd.
Odds prediction: 9-2.

TENFOLD was a maiden debut winner with a 92 as he wired a field of 10 at 8.5 furlongs. Won an optional claimer race of 75k, same distance and track. 5th in the Arkansas Derby. Lifetime speed figures are 92, 93, 94. Best AWD numbers of the field…pedigree is Curlin/Temptress, out of Tapit. Had a stalking trip in the AR Derby, made a wide move at the turn as well. The 94 score was fastest of those with a troubled trip coming in.
Prediction: 4th.
Odds prediction: 7-1. Overlay.

JUSTIFY is still a justified freak to me. Or…is he truly one of the greats, the immortals? What else does he need to do to justify how excellent of a career he’s had, after all the naysaying and questioning? His 102 in the Derby suggests he will certainly get this distance easily enough. Also, with the slight promise of an off-track, that 104 from his 2nd lifetime race makes him a bigger threat. In fact, the 102 score is actually a bounce from his 114 in the Santa Anita Derby. No question he’s the true speed. Is it enough? It might be
Prediction: 3rd. If there’s rain, 2nd.
Odds prediction: About 5-1.

BRAVAZO has wins from his 2nd maiden race, then a 62k optional claimer, then the Grade 2 Risen Star (lifetime best 98 Brisnet). Bounced to a 76 in the Louisiana Derby, and then back to 96 while finishing 6th in the KY Derby. He’s subject to a bounce this time around.
Prediction: 7th.

Top 3 in summary: 1-5-7….. Quip, Good Magic, Justify. Overlays are Quip, Lone Sailor, Tenfold.

Even with 2 ML favorites in my top 3, it’s an even more inviting sort of race to wager in. I can see using 1, 6, and 2 for wins, and under 5 and 7 for exactas. Also exactas using 5-1 and 7-1.

In terms of odds movement, the only trend I’m seeing is the money that Tenfold will take. People may overlook his pedigree, his fast troubled trip plus his slight gain on the leaders last time out.


2018 Black-Eyed Susans analysis, prediction

Time to go horse-for-horse in the big event for fillies this week, the Black-Eyed Susans. this race is 9 furlongs in length, for a purse of $250k. 10 fillies are contesting this race.

Check out my latest IS podcast (soon to be published) as I give you the audio version of my analysis and more.

TELL YOUR MAMA has run since late last summer, still a maiden after 10 races. She’s run from levels 51k to 74, eased out of the Breeders Cup Fillies, and was 4th in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Best score was 83 in her 4th race, going from route to sprint for the first time. Michael and Ann Ewing claimed this filly from original trainer RB Hess Jr after the GP Oaks, saw it finish 2nd with an 80 Brisnet last time out. RB Hess Jr claimed her back upon that effort. I’m noting that a generally positive sign, despite the slight bounce risk moving up 7 points in speed rating.
Prediction: 9th.

MIDNIGHT DISGUISE owns 4 wins in 6 races, including the Busher and Busanda, both at her home track of Aqueduct. 4th last out in the Grade 2 Gazelle. Her trip was somewhat wide all through that 9 furlong race, yet still managed an 85, not far off her lifetime best of 91 at age 2. Slight gain at 2nd call in the race also. Gets a positive jockey switch to Irad Ortiz Jr, and adds blinkers for the first time.
Prediction: 4th.
Odds prediction: 9-1.

COACH ROCKS was a filly I seriously liked early on, even if it took her 7 tries to break maiden. Followed it up with a win in the GP Oaks, then was 7th in the KY Oaks. Best current pace pattern among fillies (last 3 speed figures were 87, 93, 90).
Prediction: 5th.
Odds prediction: 9-1.

RED RUBY won the Martha Washington, then was 4th in the Honeybee. Both races at Oaklawn. Lifetime best of 92 set in her maiden win in November.. Off since 3/10, she has a prior win 1st off layoff, and is waiting the longest of these to stretch. 3 works in prep, 1 work very fast. Nice gain at 2nd call last out in the Honeybee.
Prediction: Winner.
Odds: 9-5

MIHRAB comes out of an optional claim win for 50k, this following 3 stakes events with mixed results. She set a nice lifetime best of 87, a spike up from her 58 in the GP Oaks. I have to forecast for a bounce.
Prediction: 7th

CS INCHARGE won in her 5th maiden race, backing that up with a win in Suncoast at Tampa Bay, then was 6th last out in the Ashland. She’s yet to surpass that 92 score from her graduation from maiden status. Considering there is rain in the forecast, and that she put forth a superb score on a muddy Keeneland track for the Ashland, she has to be given some favorable looks. If anything, she did improve at the first 2 calls first race after layoff.
Prediction: 6th.

GOODONEHONEY has won both of her lifetime races, a 6 furlong race on 3/24, and the Weber City Miss at 8.5 furlongs on 4/21. She threatens as the true speed of this 10-horse field, having also posted 2nd-call scores of 102 and 92. I can make her a contender on this alone.
Prediction: 3rd.
Odds: 7-1.

INDY UNION was 8th in the Miss Grillo, then won her 4th maiden race with a 93. After that, she bounced to 6th in the Demoiselle with a 71. Then was 2nd in the Weber City Miss, moving up to an 84, improving at each call from prior race first after layoff. Best AWD numbers of the field (pedigree is Union Rags/Fapindy, out of AP Indy). Regular rider Jose Ortiz Jr returns.
Prediction: 8th.
Odds: 44-1

SARA STREET won her 2nd maiden race, then was 2nd in the Busher and in the Gazelle. 99 in the Gazelle marks the best speed for today’s distance, and her 3rd consecutive gain. Possibility of a bounce here, especially as she eclipses the track par figure of 96.
Prediction: 10th
Odds: 44-1

STAKES ON A PLANE was 7th in her route debut, the Grade 2 Demoiselles on 12/2. Won a 50k optional claimer on a muddy Laurel track as she began her 3YO career. She spiked up to an 83 with that win. 4th in the Beyond The Wire with an 81, then 4th in the Weber City Miss, matching that 83 score. I like the recent pattern of speed figures, all following a 10 week layoff. Receives Lasix for the first time, usually a good future indicator. Also, she’s the lone closer of the field. With an average pace throughout, she has a real possibility to score an upset or at least run near the shorter-priced horses.
Prediction: 2nd
Odds: 3-1. Lone overlay of the field.

Top 3 here, therefore, are Red Ruby, Stakes On A Plane, and Goodonehoney (4-10-7). Coach Rocks is the lone filly beginning with odds better than 4-1. This suggests we’ll have a value-filled race.
I can see using 4 and 7 with each other and over 10 in exactas, saving the 10 for a win wager (plus under the narrow ML choice of Coach Rocks).

As mentioned, with rain forecast for the weekend in Baltimore, an off track must be factored in. Generally, I don’t put much stock in using simply the lifetime figures for conditions, so I can only give CS Incharge so much rope to do better.

Odds movers: Coach Rocks and Sara Street are definitely ones to take on more money by the public. From the back, Tell Your Mama and Mihrab also should be looked at favorably. Getting ignored will be longshot Stakes On A Plane, and Red Ruby. Of course, I happen to like both horses very much.

Kentucky Oaks 2018 analysis

It’s time to go horse by horse for this year’s Kentucky Oaks!

1 SASSY SIENNA won the Fantasy Stakes last time out. Never broke into the 90s for her Brisnet speed ratings. She relies on a fast pace all through the race to win, doing her best run on the backstretch. Probably finishes middle of the pack. Not a contender.

2 COACH ROCKS won the Gulfsream Park Oaks last time out. Best AWD numbers of the field Oxbow/Mexican Moonlight, out of the Irish bred El Prado). Set 2 new tops last 2 races with 90 and 93. Could bounce from those numbers. Won last time out first after layoff with a 4 point increase in 2nd call numbers, and 1 length gained on the leader. I feel her odds are 9-5, not her 12-1 at morning-line. A true overlay. She’s one of several that will still take less money than others. Requires an average pace, running best on the backstretch.
Prediction: Winner.
Future Wager impact: Win, and exactas with field selections over and under (in this case, My Miss Lilly, Chocolate Martini, and Kelly’s Humor)

3 CLASSY ACT was 2nd in the Rachel Alexandra, 4th in the Fair Grounds Oaks. This pure sprinter has the best tactical speed of the field; her 1st call numbers in her last 3 races are 111, 104, 99. Trainer Bret Calhoun has done the best with her compared to others. Positive jockey switch back to Brian Hernandez Jr, with whom this filly has won both lifetime races. Blinkers off for the first time in 5 races. She’s also the only sprinter of the field, needing a very fast pace all through the race to win. Probably gets ignored somewhat in the wagering. I think she’s worth 2-1. ML is 15-1, a true overlay here. Best workout tab of the field: 4 runs at CD, all very fast, plus a bullet work on 4/21 going 5 furlongs, breezing in 59 seconds.
Prediction: 2nd.

4: CHOCOLATE MARTINI won the Fair Grounds Oaks last time out. Last 2 races saw her score 90 and 91, well above prior bests, so she is a bounce risk. My odds are 17-1, worse than ML of 12-1. LIkely to take on more $ than some others. Needs a fast consistent pace for this race, running best on the backstretch.
Prediction: 5th.
Future Wager impact: Field selection, using over/under my chosen 3 of Coach Rocks, Wonder Gadot, Monomoy Girl.

5th: WONDER GADOT won the Demoiselle and the Mazarine. Gained 1.5 lengths on leader in the Fantasy Stakes last time out by 2nd call. Seems to lack enough evidence for a win. This late running filly needs a slow pace that slows even further for her to win out. Not a contender, despite positive jockey switch back to John Velazquez.
Future Wager impact: Win, plus exactas over/under field selections.

6 KELLY’S HUMOR won the Ellis Park Debutante last summer. 2nd in the Pocahontas, 2nd in the Beaumont. Improved 2nd call numbers first after layoff last time out. This backstretch runner needs a very fast pace all through the race. Not a contender.
Future wager impact: Field selection hooked up with my chosen 3 over/under.

7 RAYYA is the question mark, with races at Dubai before making her US debut this week. 2nd by 18 lengths last time out in the UAE Derby to Mendelssohn. Based on her Racing Post Ratings, she bounced in pace last time. I am aiming for a bounce back here somehow. Gained a bit on Mendelssohn by the 2nd call before picking up the pieces last time. 1st time Lasix recipient here. Probably worth 17-1, worse than ML of 12-1. Unsure of her true pace parameters. She’ll take less $ than others.
Prediction: 6th.

8 HEAVENHASMYNIKKI was 4th in the Forward Gal, 3rd in the Davona Dale. Only filly in the field to win 1st off layoff. Assumed the lead by 2nd call last time out. Not liking her much at all…maybe 60-1, or worse if we have rain….close to her 50-1 ML odds. She’ll get ignored a bit by the public as well. This backstretch runner needs a slow pace throughout.
Prediction: 8th.

9: TAKE CHARGE PAULA becomes a bit of a threat if we have rain. Her lone off-track race was her lifetime best of 97, in the House Party Stakes at Gulfstream. Also won the Forward Gal and the Smart Halo. Besides these efforts, she does add blinkers. Needs a solid average pace. Is not even close to being worth 15-1 ML.
Prediction: 9th

10: MIDNIGHT BISOU has 3 wins and 2 seconds lifetime. Wins in the Santa Anita Oaks, the Santa Ysabel and the Santa Ynez. All speed figures in the 90s. Lifetime best of 96, small new top last time out. Gained 3.25 lengths at 2nd call last race. I respect the efforts but seems outclassed here. Probably worth 17-1, not truly running like 5-2 ML odds. Needs slow pace throughout, running best in the backstretch.
Prediction: 7th.

11: MY MISS LILLY won the Gazelle, was 3rd in the Busher and in the Forward Gal. Gazelle win was a 99 for 9 furlongs, best score for today’s distance. I like the score, but she is a bounce risk, moving from an 86 number prior. Should be taking a lot more money than most. 10-1 ML odds are fair; I think she’s actually about 13-1. Late runner needing an average pace. I’m assuming the bounce will occur today, as her scores eclipse the track par by too much.
Future wager impact: Field.

12: PATRONA MARGARITA won the Pocahontas here last September. Small gain on the leader last time out in the Ashland Stakes, tho didn’t improve in 2nd call speed. Not at all a contender for me. Late runner who needs a pure pace collapse.

13 ESKIMO KISSES was 2nd in the Fair Grounds Oaks and in the Ashland. 3 runs in the 90s..a slight bounce risk today. Fastest non-winner trouble trip of this field with the 91 score in the Ashland, circling 4 wide and running with heart. If this deep closer can run like that today, she’s a legit contender. In fact, she’s the lone deep closer here. True overlay, as I like her for 9-1, better than ML of 15-1. Needs fast pace early that slows somewhat later. This longshot threatens to be seriously ignored by the public.
Prediction: 4th.

14 MONOMOY GIRL is the ML fave at 2/1. I think she’s more like 5-1 but still definitely a serious contender. 5 wins in 6 races. Best CD speed of the field; 97 in the Rags to Riches, 99 in the Golden Rod. I measure her to having the best pure speed of the field, with runs in the high 90s, plus the fastest pace pattern. She relies on an average pace to win from the backstretch. Deserves to be the favorite as determined by the public.
Prediction: 3rd.
Future Wager impact: Wins and exactas.

My running order:
Overlays: Coach Rocks, Classy Act, Eskimo Kisses.
Horses taking most $: My Miss Lilly, Chocolate Martini, Monomoy Girl
Horses taking less: A list headed by Eskimo Kisses, followed by Coach Rocks, Classy Act, Rayya, Heavenhasmynikki.
Future Wager summary:
$2 win bets on Monomoy Girl at 6-1, Wonder Gadot at 21-1, Coach Rocks at 60-1.
$1 Exactas: Monomoy Girl, Wonder Gadot, Coach Rocks over and under the field at 5-1 (My Miss Lilly, Chocolate Martini, Kelly’s Humor)
$12 total investment.

Predicted wagers:
Wins on overlays, plus Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou over them in exactas, $12 invested overall. All subject to change based on actual odds movement.

Later I will have thoughts on the Kentucky Derby.
Hear my latest IS podcasts that includes analysis on both races! and on


Idealistic Stats podcast 4/1/18

This podcast was recorded on 5/1/18. I introduce my Enlightened Trails series (my version of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Trails), plus a horse-by-horse analysis of the 2018 Derby and Oaks.

I have since made a few different decisions of some horses. Please check my blog posts for the very lastest.

This program is available at the Internet Archive

and primarily via

This program created and hosted by Dan Herman

Co-produced with the assistance of DJ Flowerdove
Twitter: @flowerdove2168