Some of my favorite days in the racing business came leading up to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup. I was on-site at Santa Anita handling social media for TVG, and even though that often meant I was rolling into the parking lot at about 5 a.m., I loved every second of it. This was largely due to the people who were there with me (ask me about when a private clocker went off on Neil Drysdale; that’s a great story for another time and place).
The most respected member of that group, without question, was Richard Hazelton, who was there with his son Scott (the longtime HRTV and TVG reporter). It was a blast watching horses work while picking the brain of someone who won nearly 5,000 races over the course of a long career as a trainer.
Richard Hazelton passed away Tuesday. He was 88 years old, and there’s no question he lived a full life. He was a credit to the sport, and the racing world is a lesser place without him in it. My sympathies go out to Scott, the entire Hazelton family, and to everyone who had the pleasure of spending some time with Richard over the years.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Wednesday was the best day of the season for me in this section. We hit the eighth race exacta for $3, and the double connecting the seventh and eighth races for $4. In total, our $30 investment returned $253.50 and got us back in black for the meet.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to try to extract value from my best bet of the day with $10 doubles that start in the fifth. I’ll use #3 LUNE LAKE (my longshot of the day) and #7 GALADRIEL’S LIGHT to start, and I’ll finish by singling #3 GRAY NILE in the sixth. Additionally, because she’ll likely be a crazy price, I’ll put $2 across the board on Lune Lake as well.
TOTAL WAGERED: $26
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BEST BET: Gray Nile, Race 6
LONGSHOT: Lune Lake, Race 5
Dan the Man Can
#9 SUMMER SANGRIA: Debuts for Wesley Ward and seems to loom large in this restricted maiden event. She’s by Maclean’s Music and out of an Into Mischief mare, so she has every right to be precocious; #10 DAN THE MAN CAN: Showed speed when third in his debut earlier in the meet. The post position is a problem, but any improvement from his debut would make him formidable; #7 SMITE: Has worked steadily and debuts for a barn that must be respected with firsters on turf. Luis Saez has had a strong meet to this point as well.
#4 LADY’S ISLAND: Has won five of six starts this season and ships up from Gulfstream for new trainer Danny Gargan. She seems to be the main speed here, and if she gets loose, look out; REPOLE ENTRY: I prefer #1A ARCHUMYBABY, who misfired last time out but has solid back form. She’s a nine-time winner that draws a cushy outside post; #2 NO DEAL: Was second in a swiftly-run optional claiming event downstate and has shown a strong closing kick in the past. If someone goes with my top pick early, she could stand to benefit at a nice price.
Vaya Con Dios
GULLO ENTRY: I prefer #1 REJECTED AGAIN, who ran well when second beaten less than two lengths in his debut. The blinkers go on, and he could take a step forward at second asking; PLETCHER ENTRY: I prefer #2B MICROSCOPE, who needs a scratch to draw in. He’s got some solid works at Monmouth, and this barn is too good to be hitting at just an 11% clip; #3 VAYA CON DIOS: Flashed some speed against straight maidens earlier in the meet before fading to sixth. This seems like a softer group, and he may have needed that initial outing.
#7 MEMORIES ETERNAL: Comes back to the right level after two failed tries against straight maidens. Her race against maiden claimers three back wasn’t bad, and she has a running style that hints she’ll like two turns; #9 MOLLY’S NIGHTHAWK: Has been competitive in three turf starts at this level. She’s found some trouble at the start in each of her last two, and she’ll be a contender with a clean break here; #1 IDEATIONAL: Burned money when 2-1 in her debut back in November and has not been seen since. She could certainly win, but the workouts appear slow and she almost certainly will not be a square price at the windows.
#7 GALADRIAL’S LIGHT: Cuts back to a sprint after tiring a bit going a mile downstate. Her win going seven furlongs two back was quite good, and she seems to have caught a weak group in her return to shorter distances; #3 LUNE LAKE: Almost certainly needed her last race, which came nearly 10 months after an outing where something almost certainly went wrong. Toss those two, and you’re left with a horse that’s run well at this route and will likely be a big price; #9 SHANGHAI BONNIE: Certainly seems like the main speed in here and gets a strong “speed rider” in Carmouche. She’ll almost certainly make the lead; the question is, can she last when the real running starts?
#3 GRAY NILE: Takes a massive class drop and returns to the site of his lone win to date. These waters are far more shallow than the ones he’s been swimming in, and anything close to last year’s winning effort would make him very tough; #6 CURLIN’S KNIGHT: Has been competitive in three Maryland starts and comes north for this event. Jose Ortiz gets the mount, and he’s shown he can get a two-turn route of ground; #5 INCLUNATION: Graduated last time out and was claimed by an outfit that hits at a strong 24% clip with new acquisitions. He’s hit the board in six of nine career starts, but this is his first outing going two turns on dirt.
Lovely La La
#6 LOVELY LA LA: Was a beaten favorite last time out, but she ran like she wants two turns. She gets that route here, and she also may get a favorable setup on or near a moderate early pace; #3 BROKEN BORDER: Won for the first time since October of 2017 last time out and looms large for a barn on a real hot streak. However, her one-turn efforts seem stronger than her two-turn races, which is worth noting; #10 VIP NATION: Merits a look underneath at a price. She gets a big rider switch to Castellano and has run her best races around two turns, including a win three back at Aqueduct. DIRT SELECTIONS: PASSPORTTOVICTORY, MAIDEN BEAUTY, CARTWHEEL.
Free Kitty (MTO)
My Sister Nat
#5 MY SISTER NAT: Was the victim of a horrible race shape in her American debut, when she rated well behind a slow early pace and still rallied for third. She should be in better form here, and if the horse that won a Group 3 in France last year shows up, she’ll be tough; KUMIN ENTRY: I prefer #1 MIGHTY SCARLETT, who has flashed talent at times and won at this route last year. #1A EMPRESSOFTHENILE, though, does have a win here as well and may benefit from class relief; #2 CALL ME KAYLA: Has won two in a row and stretches out for Mike Maker. This is certainly a class test, but she may get a chance to dictate terms early on. DIRT SELECTIONS: FREE KITTY, TANYA’S GEM, KUMIN ENTRY.
#1 MARCONI: Found the waters a bit too deep in the Grade 2 Suburban, but seems to get a much more agreeable spot here. He wants as much ground as possible and may be alone on the front end; #8 ROCKETRY: Has made a habit out of chasing Marconi and gets a bit more ground than he’s previously had in this race. He won a Grade 2 at this distance last year, but will there be enough pace to set up for him here?; #4 CURLIN ROAD: Stretches out in distance, but did run pretty well back in 2017 going long on dirt. He won a Grade 3 that year before chasing Collected, Arrogate, and Accelerate in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Perhaps his best days are behind him, but he may be in a good spot to pick up a check at a price.
Quiet Out East (MTO)
Worth a Shot
#12 WORTH A SHOT: Is one of a few contenders on the AE list that needs some luck to run here. His turf debut off of a long layoff was sharp, and his pedigree says he’ll embrace two turns; #11 JIMMY JAZZ: Was beaten a neck last time out downstate and has run well in both of his 2019 outings. Further progression would make him tough should he draw in; #6 ZECHARIAH: Could take a big step forward in his first start as a gelding. His last start came off of a very long layoff, and he did display some form when a close-up third going a mile last spring at Belmont. DIRT SELECTIONS: QUIET OUT EAST, RISP, MAKE MOTIME.