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Derby Points, Get Yer Easy Derby Points Here!

Midnight Hawk breaks maiden in BHP debut.
Photo: Benoit Photo

On Saturday (Feb. 8th) the Derby Trail swings westward to Santa Anita Park with a 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby point system format in place for the $200,000 G2 Robert B. Lewis stakes.

Nominations for this event, which included 116 early nominations for the Santa Anita Derby, closed on January 30th. Yet only a field of seven (7) made it to the entry box for the Lewis. In the infamous words of Vince Lombardi…

So you have to think that Baffert, Sadler, Shirreffs, Miller, Hoffmans and Biacone saw an opportunity to grab some easy Derby points without having to leave their own backyard (aka Santa Anita). 

The surprise entry was #7 - Chitu. According to most reports over the past couple weeks, this chestnut son of Henny Hughes was training up to the G3 Southwest Stakes @ OP on Presidents' Day. An interesting change of plans considering Baffert's other runner is #3 - Midnight Hawk, the 9-5 M/L favorite.  

Here’s how the field of seven will break from the gate at approximately 4:00 PST (Race 8)…

#1 - Candy Boy (2-1) G. Stevens / J. Sadler

#2 - Diamond Bachelor (6-1) J. Leparoux / P. Biacone 

#3 - Midnight Hawk (9-5) M. Smith / B. Baffert

#4 - Home Run Kitten (15-1) J. Talamo / D. Hoffmans

#5 - Cool Samurai (6-1) C. Nakatani / J. Shirreffs 

#6 - El Nino Terrible (12-1) E. Maldonado / P. Miller

#7 - Chitu (7-2) M. Garcia / B. Baffert

HOW I SEE IT:With speed from the gate while sprinting in his only 2 career outings, Chitu should hit the front at the 1st call, with Midnight Hawk saving ground early and getting a good position from the outside with Diamond Bachelor more forwardly placed per his turf outings. Stevens will give Candy Boy a rail trip with company from Home Run Kitten and El Nino Terrible. Cool Samurai will trail them all well into the backstretch but put will be asked for his best effort at the ¼ pole.

Midnight Hawk will engage Chitu at the head of the stretch with only hand urging, as Candy Boy and Cool Samurai swing to the outside in an all out assault on the leaders, but only the latter will make any headway on the Baffert duo to be part of the Exacta.

THE PLAY: $20 WIN #3 and $2 Exacta Box 3-5-7

Recapping my previous blog posted selections at Laurel Park selections from Saturday, February 1st had 5 winners from 9 races (4 Top Selections; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $4.00 (1st race), $4.80 (4th), $3.60 (6th), $3.80 (8th) and $4.20 (9th).

The BEST BET of the Day (4: 0-0-2) Cherokee Empire (2nd race: 3-1 M/L; 5-2 PT) flashed early speed but was under pressure throughout the first half mile. Though hanging tough into the lane, this 7-year-old gelding was spent at the eighth pole and steadily faded to finish 6th.

The LONGSHOT PICK (4: 1-2-0) Harmonizer (5th race: 8-1 M/L; 3-1 PT) was “live” coming off a one year layoff as evident of the action he took at the windows. It took him ¾ of a mile to get rolling, got to even terms with the leader in mid-stretch but couldn’t get by that one, losing by a neck to return $4.40 to PLACE and $3.40 to SHOW.

FYI – the BEST BET of the Day selection will never be a M/L favorite and the LONGSHOT PICK will simply be the runner having the highest M/L odds among my top picks for an entire card.

PLEASE NOTE: Statistics provided for the BEST BET and LONGSHOT PICK in parentheses represent the Number of Picks: Wins-Places-Shows. For example, the BEST BET (10: 1-2-3) was picked 10 times resulting in 1 winner, 2 places and 3 shows. In the past, I would reset these numbers at the start of each meet. For 2014, I reset these numbers on Jan. 1st in order to chart results on a yearly basis.

Selections for Saturday, Feb. 8th at Laurel Park posted below are based on a FAST dirt track as the forecast calls for a 40% chance of snow showers with temps just below freezing. Selections 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 – 6 furlongs
#1 – Brew Blessings (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#3 – Do It With Honor (5-1)
#7 – Tikitocki (5-2)

2nd race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Peace Cat (2-1)
#7 – Joey Whispers (3-1)
#6 – Bull Hole (7-2)

3rd race – $8,000 Maiden Claiming for F&M 4 y.o. and up – One mile
#1 – Bossy Breen (2-1)
#8 – Scienziato (6-1)
#3 – Cousin Ida (9-2)

4th race – $15,000 Claiming N2L for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#1 – Hidalgo Legacy (6-5)
#4 – Fridays Gift (61)
#6 – Funny Lady (8-5)

5th race – $5,000 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. and up – One mile
#9 – Onegreatstep (8-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#6 – Charmed by Danger (8-5)
#8 – Sarah’s Whisper (5-2)

6th race – $35,000 Starter Allowance for F&M 4 y.o. and up – One mile
#4 – No Means No (5-2)
#2 – Allie Sweet (9-5)
#7 – Maybe Tonight (15-1)

7th race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#10 – Bellissima (4-1)   
 #7 – Stonecoldsteamer (12-1)
#11 – Bullet Catcher (15-1)

8th race – $42,000 Allowance for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#7 – Thurmont (3-1)
#8 – Yes He Did (12-1)
#1 – Dark Voyager (7-5) note: if scratched not #1A/ - Bellagio

9th race – $12,500 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 6 furlongs  
 #1 – Gladysrunstheshow (4-1)
#11 – Lady Terp (9-2)  
 #9 – My African Nurses (8-1)

Good Luck!


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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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