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Learn things about Suffolk Downs that you won't read anywhere else. Various racing personalities, including jockeys, trainers, track handicappers and others contribute on a regular basis.

2014

Breeders' Cup 2014 - Saturday

October 30, 2014 | Jessica Paquette

From top to bottom, this year’s Breeders' Cup is a super card. There is some real value to be had, particularly on Saturday, and handicapping these races has been an interesting, challenging task. Read on for my selections for Saturday’s star-studded card.

Juvenile Fillies

This may be one of my most lukewarm opinions of the day. Angela Renee seems logical – she has a win over this track and at this distance. She has not been the most consistent, nor has she been all that impressive in her recent workouts, however. I was impressed by Cristina’s Journey in her most recent workout at Santa Anita. (TVG's The Works is a must-watch leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, by the way.) She finished very strongly and seemed to get over the track extremely well. I’m also using Feathered and Conquest Eclipse as I think both fillies can move forward off of their last races,

Filly and Mare Turf

I like Dank (GB), I really do. I do not, however, think she is the same horse that won this race last year. She has taken a completely different path this year and after last year’s route worked so well, why change it? No question, she caught a remarkable field in the Prince of Wales (G1) last time out – The Fugue, Treve, Magician – but she did not really hold her own and has been on the shelf since June. It is asking a lot and I am leaving her off my tickets. Emollient is a horse who may offer some value. She does seem to really like Santa Anita’s hard, fast turf course and the blinkers on made a huge difference last time out. She is not consistent, but at 12-1 she is a contender. I’m also using the in-form Just the Judge and longshot Abaco who should get some pace to run into.

Filly and Mare Sprint

This is another race where my opinion has been swayed by getting the opportunity to watch some final workouts. Stonetastic looked like a monster in her October 25 bullet at Santa Anita. She has been keeping good company all year, is relatively consistent and interesting at somewhat of a price. Leigh Court could very well be the final horse in the Melnyk silks we see in the Breeders’ Cup and it would be fitting for them to go out with a victory. She showed a new dimension last time out and that versatility makes her very dangerous. I also think Judy the Beauty , the runner-up last year, looks very formidable.

Turf Sprint

Before the draw and the odds came out, I really liked No Nay Never . With the outside draw, a short price and the fact he is unproven over Santa Anita’s downhill course, I am looking elsewhere though I do still think he is a contender . Reneesgotzip has been second and third in the last two editions of this race and while she has never won on the turf, she has proven she can be competitive and seems to be in solid form this year. I’m intrigued by Bobby’s Kitten cutting back to a sprint. He held his own against top class older horses going a mile last time out and is extremely talented. I’m hoping Za Approval draws in but it is not looking likely.

Juvenile

The Great War is looking like a big longshot but I think he is a really interesting horse here. He was purchased for $1 million as a yearling and with his heavily dirt-influenced pedigree, there is a chance he moves up significantly on the surface switch. He has been very competitive overseas and could surprise here, like Vale of York several years back. I also loved Carpe Diem in his win at Keeneland and think this colt has all the makings of a legitimate Kentucky Derby horse. For me, those are my two top horses in this race and will throw in Lucky Player to round out my trifecta.

Turf

The scratch of Magician has made this race a significantly more wide open race. While, as always, the European contingent should be respected, I am giving my edge to the United States representative, Main Sequence . Though the gelding has not won by big margins, he is a perfect three for three since coming stateside and has been able to significantly improve off of his international form. He has a sharp turn of foot has shown himself to be a resilient, game competitor. Flintshire (GB), was second to the brilliant Treve in the Arc last time out. The Arc to Breeders’ Cup turnaround is extremely demanding and with the travel, it is a lot to ask. If he fires, however, he should be tough. Telescope (IRE) is interesting but the question will be with him whether or not he takes to the very firm Santa Anita turf.

Sprint

I cannot stress enough how much I loved Fast Anna in his final workout. It was remarkably fast but what was most impressive was how easily he did it. No question he handles Santa Anita’s main track. This colt is seriously talented and for those of you looking for a local connection, he is trained by Kathy Ritvo. Working five furlongs in :57 flat is very fast and the only question is whether or not that took too much out of him. I don’t think it did – I’m all in on him. Watching Indianapolis work with his stablemate Secret Circle served in doing two things – it made me like Indianapolis and confirmed my thoughts that Secret Circle has lost a step this year. I also really like Rich Tapestry who looked very, very strong on the track and has the running style to really work well here. 

Mile

Without two-time champion Wise Dan, the Mile has become a very different race. Toronado (IRE) looms as a very legitimate favorite and has been in excellent form against top international company. The only question for me with him is whether he is at his best on a truly firm turf course or not. Anodin (IRE) has some big horse shoes to fill. He is the little brother of three-time Mile champion Goldikova. Though at this point he does not appear to be the horse his sister was, he is a legitimate contender in his own right. I wanted to like Seek Again but for a horse with known issues racing outside of horses, the twelve post is not ideal. That being said, he still is a serious talent and maybe the strongest of the stateside based contenders.

Classic

Since I saw him in person at Saratoga this summer, I have maintained that Cigar Street is the Classic winner. Though he has been plagued by injuries throughout his brief career, this horse is the real-deal talent wise. There is a lot to like about him – he is making his third start off of an extended layoff and should be poised for a peak effort. Also, Bill Mott. Mott is not the kind of trainer to run a horse solely for the sake of having a horse in a big race – if the horse is in the starting gate, they have a chance. My strongest pick of the Breeders’ Cup. My other selection here is more of a longshot - Footbridge . I’ve been high on this colt since his maiden win and while he has not quite liven up to the potential, his recent races have been encouraging and he is proven at Santa Anita. He doesn’t seem to like to win but could certainly get a piece of the action. Rounding out my exotics with Tonalist and California Chrome .

Good luck!

Breeders' Cup 2014 - Friday

October 29, 2014 | Jessica Paquette, Racing Analyst

The Breeders’ Cup is the equivalent of Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. Without question, it is my favorite racing event of the year and this year is no exception. Even with some pretty major defections (Wise Dan, Beholder, American Pharaoh, the entire older male division), the races have shaped up to be extremely competitive and there is some real value to be had. Let’s take a loon at Friday’s races.

Juvenile Turf

Hootenanny figures to be the favorite here and it is difficult to knock his impressive record. He has competed in three separate countries, four different racetracks and run well on turf, dirt and synthetics. The only thing he has not done is win going two-turns and may have some distance limitations. In a race that has been dominated by international horses, I am looking to Juddmonte’s homebred Commemorative (GB) . With his running style, if he breaks well and takes to the firm turf, he may be a big gate to wire threat. The hard-knocking and experienced War Envoy seems like a logical contender for Aiden O’Brien and while he has never won a stakes race, he has been keeping top company. Imperia is exceptionally well-bred and is out of multiple Grade 1 winner and Chilean Horse of the Year Cocoa Beach. He broke his maiden pretty impressively in the Pilgrim (G3) and the only concern is a mile may actually be too short for him.

Dirt Mile

While the Breeders’ Cup is a great place to find some big longshots, there are certain races where the favorite just looks too formidable. This is one of them. If I’m playing a multi-race wager, Goldencents is a strong single for me. He was narrowly defeated by Rich Tapestry (who I think is a top threat in the Sprint on Saturday) last time out and has been training sharply. In addition, he draws the rail and just looks too tough here. I like the hard-knocking veterans Pants on Fire and Golden Ticket in the exotics but don’t think the reigning winner is getting dethroned here.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

It is a good thing I am using Goldencents as a single because this is a race where I like several longshots and may have to go a little bit deeper into a multi-race wager ticket. I’m fascinated by Sivoliere (IRE) who is making her stateside debut for Chad Brown. More notably, she will have Gary Stevens aboard after a rapid comeback from knee surgery. It is the Stevens angle I really like here – there is no one better on a big day and her international form is good enough to make her interesting. I also like Lady Zuzu because really, what would the Breeders’ Cup be without D. Wayne Lukas winning a two-year-old race? If you overlook the Spinaway (G1) where she clearly did not belong, her form is pretty good and she is a ridiculously well-bred half-sister to Optimizer. Sunset Glow looms as the favorite and rightfully so after winning on turf and synthetics. I also like Raihna Da Bateria after an impressive win in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.

Distaff

Close Hatches is tabbed as the second choice in the morning line and could really offer some value if Untapable gets all of the attention. While her race in the Spinster (G1) was disappointing, everyone is allowed a bad day and her overall body of work is way too good. She has been a powerhouse all year and if her recent bullet at Belmont is any indication, she is ready to run big. Untapable is a horse that for some reason, I just don’t like. She has been very dominant against three-year-old fillies this year but has yet to prove she can run against older horses. At a short price, I’m looking elsewhere. Tiz Midnight I do think is an interesting potential longshot. She was a good second to Beholder in her first try against graded stakes competition and while she will have some pressure out front, she could surprise.

Good luck everyone! 

Introducing Roimes Chirinos

June 2, 2014 | Dino DiFronzo

Roimes Chirinos may be new to Suffolk Downs this season, but he is no stranger to being one of the world's most promising jockeys.

Chirinos, a 31 year old Venezualan native, has been riding for fourteen years and has a very impressive track record in that time. Riding in his home country of Venezuaela, he won the Venezuelan Triple Crown not once, not twice, but three times! He has also proven himself greatly in the United States. In one of the most impressive jockey performances in recent memory, Chirinos won an astonishing six races in one day riding at Retama Park in Texas!

Sincle riding at Suffolk Downs the last few weeks Chirinos continues to be dominant. He has an impressive record and has won a perfect 4 out of 4 for trainer Juan Pablo Silva. Keep your eyes open for Roimes Chirinos!    

Kentucky Derby

May 2, 2014 | Jessica Paquette

Kentucky Derby Day has arrived and with it, we will start our 2014 live racing season. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite horses in the entries for the opening day feature – Glowing Promise. The best part of the racing season starting up again is seeing so many familiar faces, both human and equine. I’m looking forward to the start of a great season.

Now, on to the Kentucky Derby.

It is tough to get past California Chrome . Though I am an unabashed East Coast elitist and am hard wired to bet against West Coast-based horses, I think this colt is the real deal. As one by one the top Derby contenders fell to the wayside with injury, he has emerged as the most consistent of the bunch and has passed every test with flying colors.

His greatest test is going to be whether or not he can be effective over Churchill Downs, away from his home track out west. The surface has proved particularly difficult for some and has been the one blemish on the otherwise impressive careers of some of racing’s start. His other issue may be coming out of the gate – he has a tendency to break poorly and cannot afford that kind of costly mistake here.

Samraat has won me over. The gutsy New York bred may have lost the Wood Memorial but it was a game performance and he may be able to move forward after passing the gut check.

While he may have some distance limitations and is not helped by his resistance to switch leads in the stretch. He will need to run the race of his life to win here but has proven he is as tough as anyone here and will put in an honest effort.

If you’re looking for consistency, Ride on Curlin could offer some value. Though he has never won a stakes race nor has he won going past six furlongs, he is bred to handle the distance and has been routinely holding his own against respectable company.

He may not be the type of horse who actually wants to win, but he seems like a very logical horse to use in exotics and will certainly be picking up the pieces at the end.

Todd Pletcher, as always, will send out an arsenal in pursuit of his second Kentucky Derby victory. The strongest of the four may be Intense Holiday . Though his runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby was ugly – he cross fired throughout the stretch and nearly crashed into the rail – he is no doubt talented and if he can run professionally he should be a contender.

Good luck everyone and enjoy the Run for the Roses!

Kentucky Oaks

April 29, 2014 | Jessica Paquette


After a long, cold winter, the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby are finally here to bring spring – and the start of our live racing season – with them. Live racing begins on Saturday along with Boston’s Biggest and Best Kentucky Derby Party and I cannot think of a better way to spend Derby Day.

Before we turn our attention to the Run for the Roses, the fillies will take center stage on Friday in the Kentucky Oaks.

Untappable is the obvious top contender. The Steve Asmussen-trained filly is a perfect two-for-two on the year and has one major advantage – she is also undefeated from two starts at Churchill Downs. Her lone real career blemish came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in what was her only start without Lasix. 

One filly who could potentially offer more value than the heavy favorite Utapable is Unbridled Forever . Though her dam, Lemons Forever, was not a model of consistency, she did win the one that mattered – the Kentucky Oaks. This filly will try to follow in her mother’s hoofsteps. She did get dusted by Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks in her final prep, but she does handle Churchill well and could have upset potential.

My Miss Sophia may lack experience with only three career starts under her belt. However, she has flashed some real talent and passed the class with flying colors in the Gazelle Stakes. Though Todd Pletcher's Derby arsenal may not be the strongest (though it is the largest), he looks like he as always has a major chance to sweep the Oaks/Derby Double.

Unbridled Forever
Untapable
My Miss Sophia
 

Entries for our opening day will be drawn on Wednesday so stay tuned for that and for a complete analysis of the Kentucky Derby!  

OTTB of the Month - Southoftheborder

January 27, 2014 | Jessica Paquette

 

When New England champion Massachusetts-bred Southoftheborder made her final start this summer, I assumed the multiple local stakes winner was off to the breeding shed for owner and breeder Lloyd Lockhart.

That was in fact, not the case. Southoftheborder was not quite ready to hang up her horseshoes and completely retire. Laurine Barreira, Lloyd’s granddaughter, has taken over the management of the family’s Cedar Lock Farm in Florida and saw potential in the big, good-looking mare for a second career off the racetrack.

“She was so athletic, talented, willing to please and fun to work with throughout her career. Watching her in the field with Petesamassbred made me realize she just wasn't ready to be a broodmare retired from working,” said Barreira. “It was evident that she still wanted to strut her stuff; so I decided I would retrain her as a hunter/jumper for myself.”

The eleven-year-old daughter of Senor Conquistador has always been a favorite of New England Hall of Fame owner and breeder Lockhart. “Grampa always called her his pet, and that's exactly how she acts. She is just so loving and sweet, and always alert and waiting for my next instruction.”

One common misconception is that an older Thoroughbred is more difficult to retrain. Often the more experienced war-horses are passed by as show prospects in favor of something that is more of a blank slate. I have found that while an empty canvas can be nice, you know with a seasoned racehorse that they already have the fire and competitive spirit to excel in the show ring. “I have retrained many OTTB's over the years, and I have to say that it all has to do with the horse and their personality,” said Barreira. “South is definitely one of the easiest I've had in a long time. It’s safe to say I'm absolutely smitten.”

An advocate for off-the-track Thoroughbreds, Barreira has become an advocate for OTTBs and has successfully sent many of the family’s homebreds off to successful careers as show horses and pleasure mounts.

Across the country, more and more Thoroughbred exclusive shows have been popping up as a way to promote the OTTB in their second careers. Barreira has created one of her own and it could be an exciting addition to the competitive Florida Show circuit this spring.

“The all-new "Run for the Ribbons" Horse Show Series will be an exclusive Hunter/Jumper horse show series for all tattooed, registered, and identifiable Thoroughbreds. Our mission is to create a meaningful competitive environment, raise the demand for Thoroughbreds, and to help owners in expanding second career options for OTTB's (Off-Track Thoroughbreds). We envision the Run for the Ribbons as a great way to showcase the talents and abilities of Thoroughbred horses in the second stage of their careers in the world of Hunter/Jumper competition. We will also have in-hand classes for thoroughbreds that are no longer able to compete under saddle. This will encourage and reward those who have taken on the responsibility of caring for those horses. This exciting and meaningful show will provide prospective horse buyers with a fresh look at the OTTB as the potential source of their next horse, rather than selecting other more conventional breeds. We also believe that this show will encourage trainers and owners of current racehorses to retire their horses in sound condition, knowing that there is a market by way of this new exclusive Thoroughbred show series. We envision this series as an opportunity to remove the dark cloud hanging over the horse racing industry, providing for the wellbeing of OTTB’s and opening the door to new opportunities for them and their owners. Caring for our beloved Thoroughbreds after their lives in racing has become the driving force behind this series and its success. This new life “after racing” will also go far in generating substantially greater positive public opinion about racing. We recognize the hardships faced by retiring Thoroughbred racehorses, and have created this show series exclusively for the purpose of honoring this elegant and competitive breed, giving them a new lease on life, and providing greater home opportunities for them after they cross the “finish line” for the last time. This show also allows us to further the industry’s current conscientious efforts to enhance thoroughbred retirements.”

More information about Cedar Lock Farm and the Run for the Ribbons show series can be found here: http://www.cedarlockfarm.com/run-for-the-ribbons-horse-show-series.html