Dubai World Cup Saturday plus R2K at Turfway Park

Yes, Arrogate is all the buzz in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup and deservedly so, but there is plenty of action from the desert and it all begins at 6:45 a.m. with the big one rounding out the card at 11:45, just a few minutes before the start of the weekly Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest which this week features Turfway Park and their Kentucky Derby prep race, The Spiral Stakes.

Last week the R2K contest was strictly Oaklawn Park and their 11-race Rebel Stakes program.  Bridgejumpers were on the wrong side in race seven, the G2 Azeri Stakes, when Terra Promessa missed the board at 1 to 5. Big show payouts were the result.  With a cap on payouts it was not as bad as it could have been for contest players  as third-place finisher Tiger Moth, who paid $45.40 to show, was capped for contest purposes at 200 points. The winner, Streamline, was worth 552 total.  The sixth race also was a price with #9 Love That Lute scoring 572.

The double-point prep, The Rebel Stakes, went to Malagacy at 3 to 1.  However, second-place finisher Sonneteer, a maiden shipper from So. Cal, was 112 to 1 and accounted for 1,108 points after being capped on the place payout.  Total available points for the week was nearly 4,000. Expect the winning total to be around 2,400.

The Rebel Stakes this Saturday

The Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest this Saturday focuses on the races from Oaklawn Park with the Kentucky Derby prep being The Rebel Stakes.

Last week’s contest did not offer many surprises. The Tampa Bay Derby went to the favorite Tapwrit and the San Felipe at Santa Anita also was chalky with Mastery winning at a short price. The biggest payout of the day happened in the final race at Tampa Bay Downs when longshot Luva’s Last Wonder ran second and provided supporters with 410 contest points, nearly 20 percent of the overall total which was about 2,100 points, making it a must-have for those hoping for a top five placing.  Distaff dominance was evident in the weekly scores.  The weekly winner was Rita Molnar with 1,404 points. Hayley Monnens finished second with 1,353, Patricia Clemmenson was third with 1,332, and Ann Genosky fourth with 1,324.

Live Racing Tables On Sale March 25

Tables and tickets for the live racing season, which begins Friday, May 5, go on sale Saturday, March 25. Go HERE for the details.

Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites Continue

For players doing the work for the free R2K Contest, also playing in the $10 Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites might make sense.  Winners of the supers, and there have been five or six weekly, advance to the April 8 satellite and from the top three from that event advance to the Dog Days of Summer or Ultimate NHC contests in September. Dog Days is a qualifier for both the National Handicapping Championship and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and the Ultimate NHC sends two to the NHC in January 2018.

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Canterbury Park Stall Applications Due March 13

Horsemen interested in racing at Canterbury Park are reminded that stall applications for the 2017 race meet are due in less than one week, March 13 to be precise. The 67-day meet begins Friday, May 5 with the stable area opening for training mid-April.

Canterbury racing officials have introduced two programs to assist trainers with shipping and reward those that arrive ready to race.

Program #1: Shipping Loan Program

Canterbury Park will offer up to a total of $300,000 in shipping loans for qualified applicants who arrive prior to the start of the 2017 live racing season. Shipping loan applications will be due with stall applications and will be reviewed by the stall allocation committee. Upon review, the committee will authorize up to $30,000 per owner to cover the costs of horse transportation to Canterbury Park. The loan will be recouped by Canterbury Park through the owner’s purse earnings via a loan agreement between the owner(s) and Canterbury Park. The loan application is available here.

Filling fields in the early stages of the Canterbury meet is a priority and often a challenge. To encourage trainers and owners to have horses ready to run when the track begins racing May 5, a starter incentive program is being offered.

Program #2: $100,000 New Starter Incentive Program

Canterbury Park’s new starter incentive program, run in partnership with the Minnesota H.B.P.A., is designed to reward owners who bring a new, race-ready thoroughbred to Canterbury Park in 2017. Any thoroughbred making its first start at Canterbury Park shall be eligible for a bonus paid in its initial start according to the following schedule:

Initial start at Canterbury Park prior to May 31, 2017: $500

Initial start at Canterbury Park after June 1, 2017: $250

In order to be eligible for this program, the thoroughbred must fit the following criteria:

 The horse must have made its most recent start after January 1, 2017.

 If its last start was in a claiming race, the horse must have started for a claiming price of $3,000 or greater.

 First-time starters are not eligible for the Canterbury 2017 New Starter Incentive Program.

 In order to be eligible for Canterbury’s 2017 New Starter Incentive Program, the trainer of the horse must have stalls assigned at Canterbury Park.

Shipping incentives from this program will be paid until the exhaustion of the $100,000. The Canterbury Park Racing Office will produce records each week so that owners and trainers can fully understand the current expenditures from this fund and estimate the amount remaining available for awards. The award will be for each qualifying horse’s initial start at Canterbury only.

Canterbury Park’s first condition and stakes book in online.

More information about the 67-day race meet as well as racing department contacts can be found here.

R2K Features Tampa Bay Downs Saturday

This week the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest features the races from Tampa Bay Downs including the Tampa Bay Derby, which for contest purposes is a double-point race. Additionally, the San Felipe from Santa Anita will be used in the contest, also for double points. Post time at Tampa is 11 a.m.

Last week was a bonanza of racing with a 13-race program at Gulfstream plus the Gotham from Aqueduct. Long shot winners were not the norm that day at Gulfstream, in fact in a few cases the second-place horse was worth more contest points than the winner. Total points available were 2,903. The high score of 1,675 by Michael Stamp was in the expected range, and more than 200 points better than the second-place entrant, earning Stamp $350.

Kight Soars in Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites

For those that play handicapping tournaments and contests in the Canterbury Park Racebook, the name Pamela Kight would not be unfamiliar.  Her name often shows up as a qualifier in the weekly $10 super satellite contests.  The Spring Tune-Up Super Satellite series began Feb. 23 and Kight finished second in the first session, earning a $100 berth in the April 8 Spring Tune-Up Satellite. She followed that up by not only winning the March 2 through 4 weekly super with the high score, but also recorded the second highest score on another entry, winning two more spots in next month’s event.

The super satellites are offered Thursdays through Saturdays and players can pay to enter once per day.  There are three contest tracks daily from which to choose and players make a selection in each of eight contest races at the track they have chosen.  Scores are based on points accumulated through mythical $20 win/place/show payouts. This past session, Kight earned her best score Friday night at Sam Houston Race Course and then Saturday recorded the second-highest weekly score through her Oaklawn picks.

“I play the contests along with regular betting,” Kight said.  “I get a lot of fun out of my $10 for the contest. I like the fact that I can play the next bigger contest if I win an entry.”

For a moment this year Kight was also atop the 2017 Handicapper of the Year leaderboard after winning the first contest of the new year. This recent victory earns her another Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year point.

“I would like to someday win Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year,” Kight said.  “Not easy to do though!  I think I was second one year.  So I like getting that point last weekend!”

Over the years she has played in Canterbury’s biggest contests including the Dog Days of Summer, and years back the Claiming Crown Ultimate Handicapping Contest, both of which send players to the National Handicapping Championship. Victory in those contests has been elusive for Kight.

“I really look forward to Thursday, Friday and Saturday when I can play the contests,” she said. “The more chances I have, the more likely it is I will someday  get the glory of winning a trip to the BIG one, or getting Handicapper of the Year.  Meanwhile, I just enjoy playing.”

With four more sessions in this series, Kight has an opportunity to win her fourth entry, the maximum allowed April 8. Players can also buy-in to the Spring Tune-Up Satellite for $100. The top two players from that contest, which is an anything-goes mythical bankroll format, earn $700 Dog Days of Summer entries and third place is a $550 Ultimate NHC Qualifier entry. All three also earn cash prizes.

Gulfstream Park featured in Saturday’s R2K Contest

Gulfstream Park will offer eight graded stakes races on Saturday’s card including the Fountain of Youth, an annual Kentucky Derby prep race. Canterbury’s free-to-enter contest, the $25,000 Road to Kentucky, will feature the entire Gulfstream card with the Fountain of Youth being a double-point race.  Also in the mix as a double pointer is The Gotham from Aqueduct.

Last Saturday R2K players handicapped the 12 races from Fair Grounds including the Risen Star Stakes, a double-point Derby prep won by Girvin at 8 to 1 odds. That race was the high water mark for points with those selecting Girvin earning 652 points. The fourth race was worth 332, otherwise it was a grind to accumulate points, based on a mythical $20 WPS wager, as the races did not produce long shot horses hitting the board. The total points available for the week were 2,679.

The winning score, earning 67 percent of the total available, was 1,799 by the very accurate Steven Johnson. Joe Schoening was second with 1,634 and Bill Ender beat Ted Grevelis by one point for third with a score of 1,578.

Entry deadline for Saturday’s contest is first post at Gulfstream at 11 a.m.

Frost Wins HPWS Satellite; World Famous Sam T wires Grasmick

Kelly Frost of Maple Grove won Saturday’s Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest and will be headed to The Orleans Hotel Casino at the end of March to compete in the $1 million Horse Player World Series. Mike Ferrozzo of Eagan was second in the satellite and also earned a trip to Vegas. The contest format called for ten $2 mythical win and place wagers on races of choice. On a day that was short on big prices, Frost’s winning score was $64.60. Ferrozzo finished with $58.90. In a contest like this the winning score usually exceeds $100 but with few prices to be found the top two made the best of what was offered.

“I was surprised that $58 would win an entry,” Ferrozzo said. “But I will sure take it.”

Bob Lill finished third with $48.00, just 20 cents ahead of Michael Mills. Lill earned an $800 prize. In December, Steve Laurent and Bob Moore also won entries to the annual HPWS through a Canterbury satellite.

The Claim That Keeps On Giving

World Famous Sam T won the Grasmick Stakes on Saturday at Fonner Park for the second consecutive time. He was ridden by Larren Delorme for long-time Canterbury trainer Troy Bethke. Now 8 years old, the speedy sprinter was claimed by Bethke for $4,000 at Canterbury on June 20, 2015 and has since compiled a record of seven wins, three seconds and three third-place finishes from 15 starts and has earned $83,995 in purse money since the claim. The $25,000 Budweiser-Tondi Stakes on March 25 at Fonner is likely on the radar. World Famous Sam T finished second in that race last year.

News and Notes

With fewer than 50 days before horses begin arriving on the Canterbury backside in preparation for the meet that begins May 5, rumors of who is returning and who might try Shakopee for the first time are beginning to flourish.

Sources vary in degrees of reliability. Once the stall application deadline of March 13 comes and goes there should be a fairly clear vision of trainers that will race here this summer. But interest in racing and driving through the stable gate with a load of horses are not the same thing so speculation is on hold for now.

One a scale of one to 10 of reliability, a source rated as an 8 has indicated that the jockey colony should remain similar to last season with Dean Butler, Orlando Mojica and Alex Canchari all returning. The likely addition of journeyman rider Jareth Loveberry is welcomed. With more than a decade of experience and 1,000 plus wins, he should get plenty of calls. Loveberry is currently riding at Oaklawn.

Town Hall Meeting with Minnesota Racing Commission March 2

MRC

The Minnesota Racing Commission has scheduled an open forum town hall meeting for Thursday, March 2 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. at Running Aces Casino and Racetrack.  All horse racing participants are invited to attend.

Discussion topics include legislative developments, the economic impact study released in February, the racehorse aftercare initiative, and backside support programs. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions about other  subjects of interest as well.

MRC staff and Commissioner Dan Erhart will host the meeting. Running Aces is located at 15201 Zurich St, Columbus, MN 55025.

Future town hall meetings have yet to be scheduled but expect one to be held at Canterbury Park in the near future.

R2K Cap Horse Wins El Camino Real

Those players that assumed Golden Gate Field’s nine-race El Camino Real card, the featured track in the weekly Road to Kentucky Contest last Saturday, was going to be a predictable chalk-fest were mistaken. Four of the races produced scores of more than 475 points including the feature race which was won by Zakaroff at 48 to 1 odds, a cap horse in R2K, yielding 2,104 points. Total points available for the week totaled a season high 4,540.

Zakaroff was a must have for contest purposes and about a dozen entrants selected him. The 2,104 points from that race alone is more than any of the total winning scores from the first four weeks. R2K is a marathon with several weeks and many double-point races remaining, but Zakaroff supporters were provided a huge boost in quest of the overall title and $1,350 prize.

The high score of the week went to Kerry Stephens with 3,140, nearly 70 percent of the available points. The second place score, 2,834, was earned by Larry Cronin. Neither had played R2K in the first four weeks so while they are not impacting the overall leader board currently, they did earn prize money, and if they play out the remainder of the contest, keeping in mind that the lowest three scores are dropped from the total, they both could contend.

This Saturday’s R2K track is Fair Grounds with 12 races including the Derby prep Risen Star, a field of 14. Entry to R2K is always free.

The Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest also takes place Saturday. Winning players will earn a trip to Las Vegas in late March to compete in the HPWS at The Orleans Hotel Casino. Entry fee to the satellite is $100. Players make 10 mythical $2 win/place wagers with the goal being accumulating the most points based on mutuel payouts of selections.