There are some things I genuinely miss being 3,000 miles from upstate New York, and an event coming up later this month is one I’m gutted I can’t get to. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is collaborating with ThoroFan to host a trivia night on Monday, August 23rd. Tom Durkin (the greatest horse racing announcer of my lifetime and, as hard as this is to believe, an even better human being) will be the master of ceremonies, and tickets can be purchased online.
This is a convergence of many things I love. I’m a trivia nerd that single-handedly killed a weekly sports trivia night at the dearly-departed Tompkins Square Bar and Grill in Los Angeles by winning every week for a month straight, and being a Hall of Fame voter is one of the great honors of my career. It hurts I can’t be there, and if you’re in the area, I urge you to head across the street and enjoy the fun.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: My early Pick Five fizzled in the opener, and Miss Delicious dropped anchor in the stretch of the seventh. I dropped $32.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: This one’s as straightforward as it gets, because I really like #11 HEY IT’S TATI in the seventh. I’ll have a $30 win bet on her, as I think she’s in line to take a big step forward beneath new jockey Jose Ortiz for new trainer Orlando Noda.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30.
Best Bet: Hey It’s Tati, Race 7
Longshot: Daufuskie Island, Race 1
#8 CONVERTIBLE FREEZE: Looks well-meant in his unveiling and is a tepid top pick in the Thursday lid-lifter. His works from the gate look very sharp, the outside draw is a plus, and this barn is hitting at nearly 40% this summer as of this writing; #3 DAUFUSKIE ISLAND: Sports a very strong worktab for Jeremiah Englehart and boasts a strong bottom-side pedigree. His dam was a stakes-winning sprinter, and she’s already thrown five winners. Watch the board early in the wagering, as that may provide clues; #2 GIMMEDAMONEY: Flashed speed when second in his debut, which came over a muddy track here last month. I’m not sure what he ran against that day, but a step forward is logical at second asking for a barn that’s won a bunch of races already at this stand.
Daria’s Angel (MTO)
Five Alarm Robin
#4 CANDY FLOWER: Takes a significant class drop in her first start for a very aggressive outfit. She’s shown plenty of early zip against better groups, and a return to form could see her wire this group; #2 FIVE ALARM ROBIN: Has done her best running in upstate New York and pulled off an 11-1 upset last time out in her 2021 debut. That day’s runner-up has since come back to win, and she figures to do her best running late; #7 WHIMSICAL MUSE: Thumped a lower-level group at Churchill Downs last time out and has been working well ahead of this event. She’s won four of nine career turf starts, attracts Irad Ortiz, Jr., and completes a powerful 1-2 punch for Maker, who also trains my top pick.
#5 MRS. ORB: Has not run a poor race in more than year and rallied from way back to top open company in a stakes race at Pimlico. She’s back against New York-breds in the Saratoga Dew, and it sure looks like there’s plenty of pace in here to set up for her late kick; #2 SIMPLY RAVISHING: Was retired earlier this year after dropping anchor in the Grade 1 Ashland, but she’s back here after a failed breeding attempt. She’s been working well enough, and this is certainly a spot that provides some class relief, but there are logical questions about if she’ll be ready for this race; #4 ESPRESSO SHOT: Has shown she doesn’t particularly care for Belmont, so she may benefit from a change in scenery. She was second behind a sharp horse in a start at this route last summer, and she’s run well at this level in the past.
Light in the Sky
#5 SPUNGIE: Has gotten better with every start since coming north from Gulfstream and cruised to a runaway score in a first-level allowance race last month. When Bill Mott gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there, and further improvement would make her a real handful; #1 CHOCOLATE COOKIE: Had a nightmarish trip in her 2021 debut here last month, when she didn’t break well and was forced to rate behind a very slow pace. A cleaner journey, plus some added sharpness second off the bench, would give her a big shot; #4 LIGHT IN THE SKY: Has never finished worse than second in five starts over this turf course and was a close-up second last time out at this level. She’s very consistent and always seems to fire, so she can’t be ignored.
#9 KEY POINT: Is by top sire Into Mischief and has a terrific bottom-side pedigree. His dam is a half-sister to multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter American Anthem, his second dam is kin to champion Banshee Breeze, and he’s been working well for Chad Brown; #7 COZZY’S ATTITUDE: Probably needed his debut last month, as he comes from a barn whose first-time starters usually aren’t ready to roll. He’ll add blinkers and retain Joel Rosario, and I think both of those are positives; #2 PEPE’S PRIDE: Makes his first start for Rudy Rodriguez and boasts a very atypical work tab. Many of his drills are on the slower side, but his four-furlong move on August 7th jumps off the page and hints that he may have some talent.
Let Her Inspire U (MTO)
#6 CRICKET WEST: Debuts for a barn that has quietly done stellar work with first-time starters and has a sneaky pedigree. Her second dam won multiple graded events, and her dam is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Charm the Giant and Grade 2-placed runner Charming Legacy; #7 PIMENOVA: Hammered for $200,000 last year at Keeneland and has several flashy drills on the tab. If she runs to those works, she’ll have a big chance, but this barn’s numbers with firsters (especially on turf) hint that she may need a race to get going; #10 SKYWARD PRINCESS: Will take money simply because she’s a Chad Brown trainee, but I have doubts. She spent a lot of time at Monmouth Park, which is often a red flag, and I’m far from crazy about the post position, which may ensure a wide trip given the short run into the turn.
Hey It’s Tati
Flying P entry
Thief of Hearts
#11 HEY IT’S TATI: Has been competitive in a few starts at this level and gets a big trainer switch to Orlando Noda, who does strong work with new acquisitions. In addition, Jose Ortiz has been enlisted to ride. I’m expecting improvement, and she may not need to move forward much at all to beat this bunch anyway; FLYING P ENTRY: I prefer #1 HOLLYWOOD GINA, who drops back in for a tag after not doing much running against starter allowance foes. Her two-back victory was pretty good, and I certainly think she’s better than she showed back in June; #2 THIEF OF HEARTS: Chased a fast pace against a better group in a race won by exciting prospect Kaely’s Sister. I liked her a bit that day, I’m not willing to completely give up on her, and she’s got enough speed to not be compromised by the inside draw.
#4 LETMENO: Has run several very good races around one turn, and a repeat of any of those races could get him home here. He’s got tactical speed, but he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, so Junior Alvarado should have plenty of options out of the gate; #3 BRIEFCASE BULLY: Has two wins and a runner-up finish in three dirt starts and was second behind my top pick last time out at Ellis Park. He’ll likely do his best running late, and this barn has had several horses ready to run already this meet; #2 MIHOS: Was third in a similar race at this level and route earlier in the meet and is logical, but he hits me as an underlay at his likely price.
Beautiful Karen (MTO)
#6 FRACTORZATION: Has had some adventurous trips in her career but looks like the most probable early leader in a race light on gate speed. Jose Ortiz should be able to get her comfortable and in a prime position, and that sort of trip should move her forward; #1 UNCLE’S GEM: Tries winners for the first time after topping maidens at this route earlier in the meet. She could be a prospect to watch, but that day’s runner-up and third-place finisher came back to run 1-2, but that was in a maiden claiming event, so I’m not exactly sure she beat much; #10 SNICKET: Can’t be left off of vertical exotics tickets given her six top-two finishes in seven turf starts. However, her lone win came in a dirt race at Aqueduct, and she has a habit of finding trouble. Perhaps blinkers will cure that ill, but I can’t use her on top given her clear affinity for earning minor awards.
#12 ABAAN: Draws a terrible post, but is bred like a turf horse and should improve in his first start on the lawn. His recent half-mile turf drill earned a fast clocking, and it helps that he’s shown he can go two turns; #6 INCITATUS: Makes his first start for a tag and has also been gelded since his last effort, which came in May at Churchill Downs. He’s shown speed against better groups, and if he’s able to get comfortable, he could lead this bunch a long way; #4 GROUP HUG: Goes back to the turf after finishing a distant third in a race rained off the grass last month. His lone turf try in February at Gulfstream wasn’t bad, as he was a solid second against maiden special weight foes. A similar effort would give him a puncher’s chance in the Thursday nightcap.