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HRN Original Blog:
Maryland's Own GQ

Sham Stakes carries all important Derby points

From the conclusion of the Breeders’ Cup during the first weekend in November through the end of the year, thoroughbred horse racings as far as national coverage goes into hibernation. With the new year, every horse turns a year older, and with that every owner who had a 2-year-old colt that showed promise in 2012 begins to dream of being at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May for the Kentucky Derby. 


Getting a 3-year-old into the starting gate for the Run for the Roses took on a new twist last Summer. The Churchill Downs Corporation formed a committee which developed a “point system” to determine the pecking order for entry to the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby. The committee designated specific races across the country as official Derby Preps in which horses earned points based on how they finished. Some races are worth more points than others.

Click HERE for the entire list of Derby “point system” races.


So for 2013, trainers needed to map out a plan for their 3-year-olds to insure they compete in the races that offer the valuable points versus the biggest purses.

ith that being said, the first test in 2013 for 3-years-olds who may have Derby aspirations where they can earn valuable points for entry into the Derby is the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at SantaAnita Park. Though it only offers a $100,000 purse, it is a Derby “point system” race. Run a 1 mile on Saturday, Jan. 5th, a field of 6 is scheduled to go postward for the 3rd race at “The Great Race Place”.


The 4-5 Morning Line favorite is the Doug O’Neill trained (#2) Goldencents who won the G3 Delta Jackpot last November in his most recent start, in gate to wire fashion. In 3 career races, his only loss came at the hands of the BC Juvenile Champ, Shanghai Bobby. In the Sham, Goldencents won’t have it all his way on the front end as (#6) Manando will provide a stiff challenge for the lead early. If these two hook-up in a speed duel, you might see the longest shot on the board (#3) Greeley Awesome cross the wire first in a shocker, as he’s the only other runner who ran well in his only natural dirt surface career start. *note: Greeley Awesome was SCRATCHED.

Recapping the final posted selections at Laurel Park from Saturday, Jan. 1st had 5 winners from 9 races (4 Top Selections; pay-offs shown in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $12.20 (1st race), $3.20 (2nd), $3.40 (3rd), $10.60 (6th), and $5.20 (9th).


The BEST BET of the Day(1 0-0-0) Summer Robin (7-2 PT; 4-1 M/L) had no excuse as he was placed in a nice stalking, was wide throughout the turn and never made up ground in the stretch, as anticipated. He earned the dubious but accurate comment “Even effort” for his 4th place finish.  


The LONGSHOT PICK (1 0-0-0) Malibu Creek (7-1 PT; 12-1 M/L) ran like she was up a creek without a paddle. Breaking slowly from the gate she got a good look at every one of her foes… the entire race. Using the angle of when a trainer (Michael Trombetta) has two separate runners in a race, play the horse ridden by the “go to” jock (Julian Pimentel) failed. The joke was on me as the other runner won at a short price, ridden by apprentice Trevor McCarthy (2 for 31 at Laurel Fall meet).


For Saturday races the weather forecast calls for Partly Cloudy skies with just a 10% chance of precipitation, meaning the track will be FAST at Laurel Park on Saturday Jan. 5th. Selections for all races posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.


1st race – $5,000 Claiming for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs

#6 – Sixty Acres (8-1) 

#1 – Amadorable  (3-1)  ---- SCRATCHED ---

#4 – Turbo Tweaked  (2-1)  


2nd race – $5,000 Claiming N1Y or N4L for F&M 4 y.o.and up – 6 furlongs

#3 – Three Ways Home  (2-1)

#4 – Secret Life of Bea  (15-1)

#7 – Impadoodle (7-5)


3rd race – $25,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o . – 7 furlongs

#7 – A Street (6-1)

#2 – Tamarindo (5-1)   

#6 – Dubai Kingdom  (10-1) 


4th race – $35,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. OR N3L 5 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs

#4 – Rohirrim’s Pride (7-2)  

#3 – Smileforthecamera  (20-1)

#5 – Final Forest  (15-1)      


5th race – $7,500 Claiming for F&M 4 y.o. OR N3L for 5 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs

#4 – Gagne (5-2)

#5 – Surrenderthemoney (9-2)  

#2 – Changingoftheguard (9-5) 


6th race – $40,000 Allowance N1X for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs

#3 – Embraceable Win  (3-1) ---- SCRATCHED ---

#1/1A – Cat Wiesel / Orange’s Lil Sis (7-2)

#5 – Phi Beta Kaffa (8-1)  


7th race – $10,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs

#8 – Chac Mool (7-2)    *** BEST BET ***

#3 – No Shenanigans (3-1)

#1 – My Golden Opinion (5-2)    


8th race – $40,000 Optional Claiming N4X for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs

#1 – Celtic Chant (5-1)

#7 – Exclusive Warrior  (2-1)

#4 – Wild Rainbow (8-1)   


9th race – $5,000 Claiming N2Y for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 1 mile

#6 – Lady Outflanker (10-1)   $$$ LONGSHOT $$$

#7 – Ketubah (2-1) 

#3 – Full Motion  (12-1)





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You've done very well with your picks on HRN, Gary ... I'll be keeping an eye on today's Laurel selections!

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                Meet Gary Quill

  I am the most passionate person on the planet when it comes to thoroughbred horse racing! One sunny summer day in 1964 at Timonium Race Track is where my Dad and mentor introduced me to “The Sport of Kings”. Since that day, I have had the pleasure to visit over 40 different tracks across North America. Though an IT professional by trade, I’ve had a part-time gig with the Maryland Jockey Club since 1988.

here are thousands of rail-birds who claim to be great handicappers. Well, I don’t claim to be the best… just the most passionate and one that won’t tout “chalk”. Like a savvy stock broker, I look for value and often find it. Unlike the talking heads on horse racing television networks and the dozens of websites featuring handicapper’s opinions, I’m ACCOUNTABLE. That is, good or bad, you’ll always know how my previously posted picks performed along with a running record of my BEST BET and LONGSHOT Play of the Day selections for Maryland tracks (Laurel and Pimlico) at TheRacingBiz, see "The GQ Approach".

   In addition to focusing on the Maryland thoroughbred racing circuit, each year I follow the Derby Trail and post “GQ’s Derby Double Dozen” in early February. 

   My personal mission is to rejuvenate interest in thoroughbred horse racing. Being able to share my energy, thoughts and opinions on this sport via HRN will certainly help the cause.


"I lost $2 at Santa Anita and I've spent $3 million trying to get it back." - Mickey Rooney

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