Tag Archives: Dortmund

California Chrome romps home in Pacific Classic

California Chrome

Touted as “the best  ever”, the Pacific Classic didn’t turn into the thrilling three-way-battle everyone was hoping for. A let-down?

Nope. Certainly not! Well, at least not if you love to see great horses doing great things!

It wasn’t the supposed thriller because California Chrome demolished his classy rivals –  brilliant mare Beholder and gutsy Dortmund – in quite sensational style. In fact Chrome fans were able to count their chickens early –  the race was basically done and dusted already after the first couple of furlongs.

Why? Because the one big thing that could spell trouble for the reigning Dubai World Cup champion was pushed out of the way with ease. Drawn in barrier one can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to be.

From the inside gate, jockey Espinoza pressed on right from the moment the gates crashed open. Without much hassle he manoeuvred Chrome into the lead and let thimp settle into a nice rhythm.

And that was that. Case closed. No rival wanted to take him on for the lead; Chrome was allowed to dawdle along in front to set fractions that would suit him perfectly. Then from four furlongs out Espinoza started to go through the gears.

He was winding it up without any signs of trouble whatsoever. After an easy lead for the entire race, Chrome had still plenty in the tank and finished strongly despite being hand held, whereas his main rivals faded away.

What was thought to be a highly competitive race turned into a procession by a tactically smart rider and a classy equine superstar – which California Chrome undoubtedly is.

I’m not surprised and speculated beforehand that the draw would not be as big a deal as some made out of it. I also said California Chrome should be considered an odds-on chance in this field, despite all the hype around the depth of the field in “best ever Pacific Classic”.

Yes, it would have been interesting to see if either Dortmund or Beholder would have at least tried to make a race of it, if one would have pressed Chrome for the lead or would have made at least a big move at some point to apply some heat.

But then the five year old is simply in a different league to Beholder and Dortmund. He’s a battle hardened horse but more importantly a multiple Grade 1 winner on different surfaces at different continents. Breeders Cup Classic next?

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Sunday Selections:

3.10 Chelmsford: Acclio @ 10/1 Bet365
3.40 Chelmsford: Gentlemen @ 4/1 Bet365
4.40 Chelmsford: Always Summer @ 7/2 Bet365

Photo: AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Pacific Classic: Clash of the Titans

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What a race in prospect tonight: the clash of California Chrome vs. Beholder vs. Dortmund in the Pacific Classic! Should be an absolute cracker.

The mare Beholder tries to defend her crown, after romping home to an 8 lengths plus success in this race last year. It looks a tougher assignment this time, given main rivals Dortmund and California Chrome are sure to be primed.

Both locked horns in the San Diego Handicap most recently where they reappeared after a break. Despite giving weight away, California Chrome came out on top after a tough battle in the home straight.

Quite honestly it’s hard to see Dortmund turning the table today. I’m a big fan of this lad, he just such good looking boy! But he is not quite the class of Dubai World Cup winner California Chrome and is not necessarily appreciating the step up in trip.

No bother for Chrome, though. He has the stamina and class, however will have to overcome a tough draw on the inside – Espinoza has to make a tough call early on.

I believe he’ll keep it simple and will use Chrome’s early speed to make sure he’s not boxed in. And that will be that.

Beholder has tried this trip once before – when she turned last year’s Pacific Classic into a procession. However it was an odd race, with the leaders taking each other on and Bayern not performing on the day.

My feeling is that against tougher opposition, over this trip against a world class animal like California Chrome, who’s sure to stay every inch of the distance, she’s likely to fall short – despite a handy 5lb weight allowance.

Chrome is the class act and clearly the one to beat. He usually improves quite a bit from his first run after a break, so should be ready for a big performance today. In my book he is odds-on.

Selection: California Chrome @ 6/4 Ladbrokes

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Saturday Selections:

3.05 Sandown: Majoris @ 7/1 Ladbrokes
3.25 York: Dream Of Dreams @  12/1 WH
4.50 Sandown: Philadelphia @13/2 Coral
7.50 Chelmsford: Dubawi Hundred @ 3/1 Ladbrokes

Photo: San Diego Tribune

Preakness Stakes: Rod can spoil the party!

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Here we are, only two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, there’s the second leg of the American Triple Crown right in front of us! Yes, it’s Preakness Stakes Saturday, and boy, it promises to be an exciting renewal: the Derby winner, runner-up, third and fifth – they are all here. It’s round two of American Pharoah v Dortmund v Firing Line!

Of course there is the all overshadowing question: Do we have a Triple Crown winner on our hands? Well, American Pharoah was as good a Kentucky Derby winner as it gets, no doubt about that (though you better don’t get me started to talk about the butcher of a jockey Mr Espinoza!). But that doesn’t make him a ‘wonder horse’, as some ‘experts’ want to make us believe.

Anyway, let’s stay focused on what is important: Can American Pharoah win the Triple Crown? Nope. No chance!

Don’t get me wrong, this is a really talented individual. He was the best horse in the Derby, and he won, despite one or two difficulties to overcome during the race. But hype comes and goes quickly. We know that. Once he starts losing, he’s already forgotten.

Personally I find it hard to believe that American Pharoah is capable of staying the Belmont trip. The facts are against him. He’s a dubious stayer on pedigree and the Belmont is traditionally a race where you find some fresher horses in the line-up who are also better suited to the kind of unique test this race provides.

As for today, absolutely American Pharoah is the favourite. Though maybe not quite as clear as the betting wants us to believe he is?! Well, maybe he is. But a price of 5/6 isn’t really anything more than a fair price. So, do we have alternatives?

Derby runner-up Firing Line ran the race of his life. He was gutsy, but couldn’t quite hold on. The slight drop in trip may help him. He looks progressive and should be a big contender once again today. If he is quite good enough to beat American Pharoah, who’s probably even more fancied to do better over the shorter trip, remains to be seen.

I love Dortmund. I stated it quite often in recent weeks. His Derby performance doesn’t change that. He ran out of gas and that was always a possibility with the trip not sure to suit. The drop in distance is sure to suit today, though may still stretch him enough. My main concern is the fact that he had already four tough runs this year. It might be time to give him a break.

Derby fifth Danzig Moon is a good, tough horse. He always keeps going, though never seems to be really dangerous. That means he’s probably not good enough. His only win came in maiden company.

A brief look at the betting tells us there’s no other horse with a chance in this race….. or is there? Absolutely, there is! The exciting Tapit colt Divining Rod is overlooked. But not by me. I like his lightly raced profile and the fact that he comes into this race fresh off a five weeks break.

He won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes in super style last month, which would have entitled him to start in the Kentucky Derby. However he wasn’t rushed to be ready in time for the big one, instead connections decided to skip the first leg of the Triple Crown and aim him at the Preakness. He should love the trip and may be able to improve quite a bit.

I really like his Lexington performance, He showed gate speed, settled well and one single slight flick with the whip ensured that he went almost effortless into the clear. To my eyes he’s the right type to take on the well fancied Kentucky Derby runners.

That says It may turn out he is not quite up to the highest level. It may well be that American Pharoah is too good. But we don’t know that yet. And with the facts in hand right now, I have to believe Divining Rod is outstanding value.

Divining Rod @ 20/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Weekend Round-up

Cheltenham is over, and one could feel a bit empty, but the racing world never sleeps! So let’s have a quick round-up of what happened this last weekend.

American Pharoah has been shaking up the Kentucky Derby ante-post market. An impressive success in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes saw him jumping right at the top of the market. Trained by Bob Baffert – who also has the second favourite Dortmund in his barn – American Pharoah was last seasons champion two year old in the US, though injuries towards the end of the season put his Derby credentials on hold. He’s back no – see for yourself how impressive he was on Saturday:

Warren’s Veneda has been really progressive over the last couple of weeks, and her rise to the top of the mares division didn’t stop this weekend when she landed the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes in great fashion. She tried the 1 1/8 mile trip for the first time, but clearly saw it out.

The Hangman was once a top class juvenile, but injuries prevented him from fulfilling his potential. Nursed back to form, he has now won two on the bounce after he took the Grade 3 Kings Cup at Greyville on Sunday – which is the place of his biggest triumph -here’s were he won the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes as a juvenile back in 2012. Ridden to perfection stalking a slow pace on Sunday, he held on gamely to fend off the challenge by runner-up Candy Moon. The second may be the one to take out of this as he came from well off the pace, and has been a bit unlucky lately. A big win is potentially around the corner.

Tryster may well be one of the best horses we have ever seen on the UK All-Weather. Trained by Charlie Appleby, he has been progressive throughout the whole winter and took his form to new heights when getting up easily in the Winter  Derby at Lingfield.

Goonyella delivered for the Irish in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter! Trying the 4 mile + trip for the first time, he saw it out like a champ and could be en-route to the big National at Aintree in month time now, where he’d be well in.

If you haven’t seen it already – check out my Cheltenham Festival Review as well as the great Photo Gallery from my trip to Coolmore Stud.

Racing’s Weekend Review

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Yep, it’s hard to believe, but it’s March again and Cheltenham is literally just around the corner! Next week were’ already discussing the big races, fallen favourites and hopefully some surprising & heart-warming stories. It’s a shame, I can’t make it this year. I broke my Cheltenham maiden tag last year, and it was absolutely amazing. Tuesday with club enclosure was the perfect race day. Top class racing action, big crowd but not that it felt uncomfortable, and some lovely warm spring sun shining down into this natural amphitheatre . It’ll be a shaky stream at work this time, and replays on TV afterwards (no need to cry for me – I’ll be going to the Grand National instead!).

VIEW: Our Photo Gallery – Cheltenham Festival 2014

The formerly in Ireland trained Designs On Rome has rapidly become one of the best middle distance horses in the world. Since he left Pat Flynn’s yard to start a new career in Hong Kong, he has nothing but improved. Now a three time Group 1 winner in overseas, he’ll be one of the favourites for the Sheema Classic on Meydan’s World Cup night. And rightly so. He won the prestigious Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup in very taking style on Sunday morning UK time. Having it all to do turning for home, he had come from the widest travelling welloff the pace for most parts of the race, but was simply too good for his rivals, mainly old foe Military Attack.

It was Gauteng Guineas day at Turffontein, South Africa, on Saturday. You may have seen my previews for both the fillies’ and boys’ races. They promised allot and didn’t disappoint, though it was slightly surprising to see both races won by very convincing winners – that says it wasn’t the usual bunched up finished! Siren’s Call took the Fillies Guineas in style of a really good horse. She’s a hardly filly with the touch of class. Harry’s Son overcame all troubles in preparation to the big race and proved far too good for the opposition in the boys’s Guineas. Last seasons champion two year old will now try to go on to win the Triple Crown before he’ll be on the move to Dubai for next years Carnival.

Gauteng Guineas – Winner: Harry’s Son:

Gateng Fillies Guineas – Winner: Siren’s Call:

It’s not news to readers of this blog that I‘m a big fan of Bob Baffert’s colt Dortmund – who is my pick for the Kentucky Derby. It was pleasing, though also kind of odd to a certain extent,to hear Baffert talking about Dortmund, following a workout at Santa Anita: “His last two works have really been his best works. I think the light finally went on. I think he’s finally figuring out how he’s supposed to do it.” Mind you Baffert is talking about a Grade 1 winner, who is currently trading as the co-favourite for the Derby. One has to wonder, if Dortmund has been able to win all these races before without ‘the light on’, how much more improvement could potentially come from this extremely good looking colt?!

Eye-Catcher of the Weekend

Sundays card at Geyville, South Africa, was largely low grade stuff. With the exception of a fair Graduation plate, which saw 2013 champion two year old Kochka back on track for his second run after a long injury related lay-off. The four year old colt ran on well on his comeback run and has clearly grown physically into a brute of a horse. He was the clear favourite today to beat rivals below his natural class and for that reason he was our banker of the day. As expected, Kochka finished the job, even though it was slightly more thrilling than I as a punter would have like it. Which was very much the down to the very confident and light ride the big colt was given. Kochka itself is a horse to keep in mind when he steps up in trip again. 1.200m is too short against better opposition, but he is clearly back and should be a force over a mile.

My eye-catcher of the week ran in the very same race. The three year old Saratoga Dancer Saratoga Dancer, officially rated a low 78 rated, finished a fine third, less than two lengths beaten by Kochka, who is 105 rated, and runner-up Nineteen Fourteen who is a fair measure stick at 88 and clearly ran to form. Saratoga Dancer only received 3.5kg and 0.5kg respectivelly by these much higher rated individuals, yet he was able to finish so close. He is still lightly raced, was back from a break today and probably needs further. Not to mention that he got an odd ride, was never touched and still finished as close as he did. Let’s see what the handicapper does next But I suspect that Saratoga Dancer, once up in trip again, will be a big runner regardless of where he pops up next. .

Khozan’s a special colt!

You may remember this: I made recently a case for Dortmund to the win the Kentucky Derby. Nothing has changed in that regard, I still believe Bob Baffert’s colt will be a big runner on Derby day, in fact I do fancy him to be one of the shining stars this season. However, sometimes you come across something that makes you think: “WOW, this is special!”.

It’s likely that I wasn’t the only one who thought this way after the lightly raced Khozan won a Claiming race at Gulfstream Park by a mere 12 lengths last weekend. This low mileage colt is rapidly emerging as one of THE prime Derby contenders for the Kentucky Derby. But Why? Well, there is his outstanding pedigree first of all. He is a half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Royal Delta, and simply bred to be a champion. Take this: His sire, dam, and damsire were all graded stakes winners, and his damsire was even inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame

Then there is his price tag. He was purchased by Al Shaqab Racing for $1mio at the sales. Right, you may say, money doesn’t make necessarily a good racehorse. Only to point out then, that Khozan looked the real deal when he appeared on the racetrack! He ran extremely well first time out on a very eye-catching debut. But Khozan clearly stepped up to another level over the last weekend. He couldn’t have been more impressive on what was only his second career start then when winning a claimer by a street under a light hands and heels ride. Yes, he didn’t beat much, but as mentioned, this was only his second career start and he got a really nice educational ride, having some difficulties to overcome right after a start and also getting some dirt into his face. This experience will toughen him up and he should have learned plenty. The manner he drew clear in the home straight was nothing less than impressive after all.

So far so good. Okay, here’s a bit of a dilemma, though: History is against him. Horses that haven’t raced as two year olds have failed in their attempt to win the Derby since Apollo managed to do exactly that for the last time – back in 1982. They call it the “Apollo Cause.” But hey, you know what? Sometimes it needs something special to break the duck. Khozan has the talent to do so… if he can qualify for the Derby. Because he hasn’t qualified for the race yet! Obviously he didn’t have any chance to earn points yet.

But, breath easy, he’s due to run in the Florida Derby next. If he wins it, he’s in. The race should suit perfectly as he has won twice at Gulfstream Park now. If he is a legitimate Derby contender, well then he has to perform strongly in this next qualifier anyway. Do I expect him to live up to his rapidly growing reputation? Yes, absolutely. You can still back Khozan at 20/1 with Bet365 & Racebets. I’d recommend to lump on. Back Dortmund and this boy at the big prices which are available now – surly not on Derby day though – and you’ll have two extremely strong runners for your money when it really matters!

It’s Dortmund’s Derby

It’s midway trough February – time is really flying! Blink with the eye and we’re almost in May. Then when the run for the roses is upon us… the Kentucky Derby, the myth-enshrouded race along the iconic Churchill Downs twin towers. It’s one of those races I’m always looking forward to. It’s the atmosphere surrounding this event. Staged like the battle of titans. legends are born here. Will we see something special? Or may this even be the start for some colt to merge as a potential Triple Crown winner?

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This year, the race is going to be ran on the 2nd of May. As always, the first Saturday in May. Yes, this may seem still almost three months away, but I said it before: time is flying. Qualifying races for the Derby are already under way. In fact some of the ‘thought to be main contenders’ have even shown their class this year.

It’s no surprise that Bob Baffert seems to have a very strong hand for the 2015 renewal – yet again. The two horses at the head of the ante-post market are trained by him. That is American Pharoah – he was mightily impressive as a juvenile last year. Though he missed the Breeders Cup due to a foot injury. He is reportedly back in training and will be back racing, probably next month.The other one is Dortmund, who showed his class this season already.

Indeed, it is this very good looking colt Dortmund who made me go down the ante-post route – which is rather unusual for me these days. But I do really like this horse. He has just started as well into his classic campaign as he ended his juvenile season: With ultimate success, protecting a 100% record!

So what is it about him? Well, Dortmund won his first two career starts by a combined 12 lengths +, including a runaway victory at Churchill Downs – which is the home of the Kentucky Derby of course. He followed on to win the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes in dramatic style at the end of last year. That day he stayed on strongly to win it in a photo, while setting a new 1 1/16 miles course record! Yes you read that right. This two year old colt set a new course record on only his third ever career start!

Dortmund reappeared in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes last week for his first race in the new year. He looked a bit fresh and keen early on, was bang on with the pace, and got himself locked up in a match race from halfway out. Turning for home he seemed beaten when dropping a good lengths behind the then leader Firing Line – who himself is a fancy for the Derby, and finished a narrowly beaten runner-up in the Los Alamitos behind Dortmund. But then Dortmund showed some impressive guts, something you wouldn’t see often in such a young horse. He fought his way back into the race! Close to the line, he eyeballed Firing Line and eventually emerged victorious – clearly on top when it really mattered!

One simply has to be impressed with what Dortmund has done so far in his short career. Keep in mind, according to his trainer, he actually didn’t quite fancies the Santa Anita dirt, but actually prefers the deeper Dirt tracks, like Churchill. And is if not enough, what really impresses me about this colt is his fabulous conformation. He is an absolutely stunning looking individual. He has this huge frame, these mighty long strides, and looks quite mature and very forward at this stage. With that in mind, he has the right profile for the Kentucky Derby. Reportedly he is still a big baby – mentally – but he should have learned plenty from these last tough battles.

After all he ticks almost all the right boxes:  He Acts at Churchill Downs, a track that suits him very well. He proved his class and attitude at the highest level. Has the looks of a monster. He set a track record at Los Alamitos over 1 1/16 miles – as a two year old. is it too good to be true? Well, the only question mark is the Derby trip. He is bred more for speed actually, however he is a son of Derby winner Big brown nonetheless and there is stamina on the dam side down the generations. Also the way he finished his races are a fair indicator that he can get further. Given his relaxed character, he should have every chance to stay the Kentucky Derby distance.

Next stop is the Santa Anita Derby. After that we know much more about him. I duly expect him to oblige. If Dortmund wins indeed, you can be sure that he’ll be a very short price on Derby day. So I’ll be going now with the big 16/1 offer. I believe this colt is the real deal, as long as he stays healthy!

Want to have a bet on the Derby or any other US race? > Kentucky Derby at BetOnline