After three straight Pick Six carryovers to lead off the new meet, the money poured in on Saturday, with $3.2 million bet chasing the $1.48 million carryover. However, the frenzy came to an end when 71 tickets isolated all six winners for a return of $46,492. It was no gimme, either. Double digit winners in three of the six races, but 3/5 shot “single” SILENT SOUL got home in the 5th and favorite I BEAT THE FIRE wore down his stablemate in the 9th to make it “hittable”.

The performance of the day came from AFTER MARKET, who took the Inglewood Handicap in ultra impressive fashion. After a brutal trip last time out, ‘MARKET didn’t get a whole lot better journey this time. Despite being parked 4-wide through the final 1/2-mile (also known as no-man’s land when running on turf), the royally-bred colt powered away from his rivals through the lane to look like a very serious player in the local turf division. The homebred son of Storm Cat-Tranquility Lake won the first four starts of his career in New York and clearly is back on top of his game now…RED FORT ran well chasing him home but WILLOW O WISP doesn’t look anywhere near the same horse he was before going to the sidelines last May…A. P. XCELLENT made it 3-for-3 on Cushion Track when he wired the field in race 2. Every time time SINISTER MINISTER runs, he proves what a fluke his 12-length win was in last year’s Bluegrass…three more wins for Joe Talamo, who figures to battle for leading rider here.

On Sunday:

With the Pick Six pool guaranteed at $1 million for Gold Rush Day, I really questioned whether there might be a shortfall in the pool. Considering how much money had been sent through the windows chasing the carryovers, I thought there might be some burnout for the Sunday card. Wrong. The pool wound up at slightly over a mil, with only two winning tickets. The fields were large and the racing competitive, which accounted for price horses winning four of the last six heats…it was great to see 24-year-old SNOW CHIEF paraded on the track before the race named in his honor. He looked unbelieavably fit and spry for a horse his age, bouncing around and nipping at the pony like he was back in his prime. The track showed some of his great victories like the Hollywood Futurity and Preakness Stakes, which brought back memories of just what a good horse he was. Running with his head low to the ground, the ‘CHIEF had a huge stride and great acceleration when turned loose.

GREG’S GOLD took heat all the way but held on gamely in the Tiznow…TIZ ELEMENTAL was impressive in winning the Melair, and runner-up CURIOUSLY SWEET ran huge to finish second…the stewards got it right both times, disqualifying GETBACK TIME in the 3rd and taking down ZONINGÂ IN from third in the feature…runner-up C. T. ZEE turned in a very game try while making only his third lifetime start in the same race…NASHOBA’S KEY remained perfect in three starts by taking the Fran’s Valentine (2nd race) under a perfect Garrett Gomez ride.

I had a great day in my graded handicap, picking seven top choice winners, including $16.80 winners EPIC POWER and LEESIDER, who gave Alex Solis his second stakes win in two days (he was also aboard AFTER MARKET but, let’s face it, that horse won despite the ride/trip). If only (and there’s always an “if only” in horse racing) I could have found SOCIAL CLIMBER in the 7th, I also would have nailed the Pick 4 ($60 ticket after scratch) for $6,279 on my Premium Play selections. At least if you came back in the last Pick 3–and that’s what it’s there for when blown out in the first leg of the Pick 4–the return was a healthy $697.

Back to the wars tomorrow…we really need six-day racing during Derby Week, don’t we?

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Three days, three Pick Six carryovers. Heading into Saturday’s card, the carryover had built to more than $1.48 million after a longshot brigade to open the meet. On opening day, the Pick Six kicked off with a $106 bomber, followed by a $39 longshot. That caused a carryover of $101,000 into Thursday, which saw double-digit prices (including $35, $34 and $53 surprises) win five of the six races. With $452,000 carried over into Friday night, it was bombs away with all six winner paying over $10, including $37, $36 and $30 price horses. So, of 18 Pick races run at the young meet, 14 of the winners (and 16 of 25 overall) have paid over $10.

The reasons probably are obvious: switching back to the Cushion Track surface after a long four-month meet at Santa Anita; large field sizes and extremely competitive races to open the season; and a slight edge to horses that have trained regularly at Hollywood Park. Still, finding these winners and hooking them up properly for a score are not easy. For example, on the Thursday card I used longshot winners CORAZONDELCAMPEON ($34.60 in 7th) and BRAHMS TUDOR ($53.40 in 8th) in trifectas (Best Play races) and the Pick 4 but couldn’t connect with the exotic touchdown.

Friday night was extreme chaos and all Pick Six tickets were dead when KING PALM re-rallied to win his second straight after being a professional maiden for the first 16 races of his career…the late Pick 4 paid a record $355,000 to ONE winning ticket.

Pete Eurton, Mike Puype and Vladimir Cerin have two winners apiece while training at HP. Of Bob Baffert’s two winners, one trained at HP and the other trained across town. And both of Julio Canani’s winners have trained exclusively at Santa Anita. Moral of the story: You can train and win at either place (although I still think it’s an advantage to train over the home track). There has been no bias on the main track or turf but we have seen a bit of a “horses for courses” angle with winners GREAT OPINIONS (1st race on Thursday) and HAPPY CELYNA (5th race on Friday) snapping back to winning form after scoring here during the fall meet.

Things will settle down, no question. In the meantime, ride the wave and try to catch one of these huge payoffs. Isn’t it a whole lot better than short fields with a parade of 3/5 shots?

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It didn’t take long for super-apprentice Joe Talamo to become the meet’s leading rider, winning the opener with odds-on dropper RUN FOR DESSERT for Art Sherman. He went on to score with FLEET CAROLINE in the 5th and NATURAL PHENOMENON in the 6th, giving him a hat trick on his first day riding on Cushion Track. And he might have scored a fourth if SPY ALY had a place to run through the stretch in the 3rd. Day 1 gave us a few wacky results, which resulted in a Pick Six carryover of more than $101,000. Let’s recap the day and see how the main track and turf played:

1st) Big dropper ‘DESSERT saved ground inside from second flight, angled outside the leader into stretch, came away in mid-stretch; 2nd) WORTHY CAUSE rallied wide and pulled away in mid-stretch after racing mid-pack early to outclass maidens. She had never set foot (raced or worked) on the Cushion Track in the past; 3rd) WHATWEREWETHINKING, making her first start on turf, pulls off the $106 upset for Clinton Potts and Molly Pearson, rallying from well off the pace, splitting horses in deep stretch, then proving best in the final 50 yards; 4th) Another big price as first-time gelding AREUTRUE drops back into a maiden claimer to pull off the $39 upset; 5th) ‘CAROLINE, making her turf debut, takes heat inside, then dominates through the lane to win her third straight (dating back to Nov.’06); 6th) NATURAL PHENOMENON wears down soft-tripper YOUHADYOURCHANCE near the wire to score as the 3/2 favorite. Like ‘CAUSE earlier, he had never set foot on the Cushion; 7th) CHARM THE GIANT rallies wide from far back to run past SOHGOL (my selection at 13-1). Lightly-raced ‘GIANT wins her third race over this course and sixth lifetime; 8th) LIL NUGGET, making her first start for Marty Jones and first vs. Cal-breds (why had her previous connections run against open company in her first eight starts?), gets through inside to outkick the favorite through the final furlong. Fair track, fair turf. And previous experience over the Cushion was not mandatory. Sounds good to me.

What wasn’t good was my blank-o on opening day. Not the way to start a meet but what can you do? I purposely tried to beat favorites WORTHY CAUSE and NATURAL PHENOMENON because they had no synthetic track experience. I just missed with RED OPAL in the 3rd, scratched into the wrong horse in the 5th, made a good pick with longshot SOHGOL (second best) in the feature and had no excuse in the finale. We’ll snap back tomorrow.

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Closing day at Santa Anita turned out more special than usual this year. That’s because ON THE ACORN gave publicity man Jack Disney and his partners a storybook result when their former $40,000 claimer won the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano. Now, to be sure, the Capistrano is nowhere near the prestigious race it once was but that won’t matter one iota to Disney and company. Disney, a former sportswriter and life-long racing fan, was around the track when this race was special. Whittingham won in 14 times, for God’s sake. And when ‘ACORN came rolling down the stretch under Victor Espinoza, the No Cheering in the Press Box rule went out the window. The publicity office was full of cheering, clapping, whooping, hugs and high fives. This is what racing is all about–a chance to dream big and once in a while have those dreams come true.

Another successful season for The Great Race Place, breaking last year’s all sources handle ($11.7 million daily average handle this season) and up slightly in on-track attendance, including five crowds of more than 30,000. The racing was good (until short fields plagued us the last few weeks) and the weather was great.

On the human side, Espinzoa finally caught and tied Garrett Gomez (voted top rider by the media) with his winning ride in the San Juan. Doug O’Neill broke his own record with 56 training victories, including taking his second straight Big Cap with Lava Man. At age 38, O’Neill has been putting up some staggering numbers over the past few years. And congratulations to Brad Free and Larry Weinbaum for winning their respective divisions (winners and mutuels) of the meet-long Allan Malamud Handicapping Tournament. I chased in vain, finishing in a tie for second with Bob Mieszerski (LA Times) in total number of winners.

Final thought: Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and expressed kind words after reading my last posting (“Goodbye to a Friend”). Although Fermo Cambianica passed away on Saturday night, I can’t help but think he was looking down on Sunday’s results with a big smile. The Lakers blew the game (with Kobe going one-for-10 in the final quarter); Jack Disney’s horse won; and he outpicked all of us with SEVEN winners on his final newspaper handicap. And the icing on the cake was the Angels’ victory, with announcer and racing fan Rory Markas ending the game with this call: “And this one’s for you, Fermo! Just another Halo victory.” Truly awesome.

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I got home about 9 p.m. tonight and had two messages on my cell phone informing me that Fermo Cambianica had passed away earlier in the night. I had written about Fermo a couple times lately, knowing the end was near. But it still sends a shock wave through your body when you hear those words.

How could he go so fast? It was just three weeks ago that he was taken from Santa Anita to Arcadia Methodist after falling down. At age 79, he hadn’t been feeling well for the last few months and tests revealed the worst. His illness was terminal but he was upbeat and coherent in the hospital. But after being moved into a convalescent home down the street from Santa Anita, his home away from home, his health declined at an alarming rate. He was able to make it out to the track on Wednesday to visit friends and be part of a winner’s circle ceremony after a race was named in his honor. His great friend Ellis Davis wheeled him around every square inch of the plant so Fermo could see his legion of friends and spend one last day at his favorite track. I’m not religious, but thank God he (and we) got that opportunity.

Fermo was the unofficial and unpaid pressbox steward. He ran copies of entries and past performances, saved programs and charts for me a hundred times if he did it once. Faxed pp’s to all of us countless times when we were out of town or didn’t feel like making the drive over. Xeroxed and distributed his picks to all the mutuel clerks downstairs. Closed the windows and turned off the lights each night before he left. I often kidded him that he acted as if he were paying Santa Anita’s electricity bill.

He was a huge Angels and Clippers fan, having turned against the Lakers and Kobe after Shaq was traded to Miami. He personally held Kobe responsible for the split and would get great joy when the “gunner” had a bad shooting night. Even when he would score 50, Fermo would point out how many shots it took him to do it. He loved the quarter horses, too, having worked publicity at Los Al years ago. The only two times I ever saw him get really mad were when the self-service betting machine wasn’t turned on early enough to bet a 440 at Los Al, and when he couldn’t get the TV department to put the Clipper game on. Over the years, I tried to reciprocate some of his favors and generosity. An occasional dinner at Domenicos in Monrovia, a bottle of wine before I knew he didn’t drink, rides to Hollywood Park once in a while. But I know I got the better end of this friendship, and so did most of his colleagues.

The press box won’t be the same without rolly-polly Mr. C, the former Long Beach State point guard and Arthur Murray ballroom dancer, who loved his gnochi and chocolate ice cream. We will miss you, Fermo.

On the racing front:

After a slow start to the meet, trainer Doug O’Neill broke his own Santa Anita record by scoring his 55th winner of the season…Mel Stute got off the schneid when KIM’SKLASSYLADY broke her maiden in the 5th…BONFANTE outdueled BATTLE WON in a thrilling edition of the off-the-turf San Simeon. The race was won when Aaron Gryder snuck through on the rail, saving just enough ground to outduel the runner-up by a scant nose…NAUGHTY RAFAELA won a blahsville edition of the Santa Barbara…one winning ticket in the Pick Six, bought at Del Mar ITW…Julio Canani took back 3rd race winner GRAFTON for $70,000….believe it or not, Victor Espinoza still trails Garrett Gomez by one winner heading into the final day. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Gomez held on despite shipping out of here two weeks ago to ride at Keeneland?

On Friday, the first serious rain of the meet made for short fields and uninteresting racing…both Jorge Periban and Jorge Alcala won races. Are these two cagey trainers really the same person?

On Thursday, three wins for jockey Michael Baze and two training wins for Jack Carava, whose main client La Canada Stable is poised to win the owner’s title for number of wins at the meet.

Tomorrow closes out the meet with the traditional San Juan Capistrano. Congratulations to Santa Anita on a solid meet with good racing. My personal highlights were Lava Man winning his second straight Big Cap and the development of terrific 3-year-old fillies RAGS TO RICHES and MAGNIFICIENCE. Back to the Cushion Track on Wednesday.

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Field sizes certainly have dwindled as we head into the final four days of racing at Santa Anita. After such strong numbers through late March, we’ve seen a drastic drop off in the past few weeks, and weather certainly can’t be used as an excuse. This has been one of the driest meets in history. The reasons? Too many race dates, too many races, too long of a meet. Other than Big Cap and Santa Anita Derby days, do we really ever need to run 10-race cards? And wouldn’t this meet be a whole lot stronger if it ended by running the closing-day San Juan Capistrano the day after the Santa Anita Derby and called it quits? Closing this year on April 8 instead off April 22 would help save us all from the dog days of short fields and uninteresting cards comprised of maiden claimers and cheap platers.

Two frivolous inquires called by the stewards today that each took about five minutes of deliberation. The first one involved the winner MY MAN MURF and a tiring PAPAGO ROAD at the 1/4-pole in the 2nd race, the other one apparently involved all the horses except front-running CHARMIN DOT coming down the hill in the 7th. The explanation that was passed down to announcer Trevor Denman? The “course configuration” with the “rails being out caused the problem.” No kidding? The course narrows at the head of the lane when the rails are out 15 feet like today, often times causing some interesting maneuvering as horses straighten away past the dirt crossing. Unbelievable.

Speaking of CHARMIN DOT, the Roger Stein-trained horses are running out of their minds right now…another training win for Rafael Becerra, the 18th of the meet for him and just one shy of his personal record for a Santa Anita season…he also claimed first-time starter CELTIC DREAMIN, who was a rather impressive winner of the nightcap…two more wins for Michael Baze, who seems to win at least one every racing day. He’s now sixth in the standings with 42 victories…you have to love an old pro like LORD ALBION, who returned from a near 10-month layoff to run down $12,500 claimers in the opener, giving the 9-year-old full horse 13 lifetime wins from 31 starts…despite the small fields, with Pick Six payoffs have been huge. On Sunday, there was a single winning ticket for the third straight day, and today’s paid $40,850 to three ticket holders.

The highlight of the day was the winner’s circle ceremony for retiring press boxer Fermo Cambianica after the 5th. Named the “Fermo Cambianica Bet to Place” due to his affinity for large place bets, Fermo was surrounded by dozens of friends and co-workers as Trevor read a glowing biography. Fermo has been hit by serious health problems recently and needed a wheelchair to get around the track to see friends today but he was beaming while surrounded by well-wishers, wearing the ball cap of his beloved Angels and a shirt given by the track that read “Fermo, 46 years at Santa Anita.” There hasn’t been a nicer, more helpful or generous man to grace that press box.

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All spring we’ve been waiting for a breakout performance by one of the Derby hopefuls. We got it today. Facing a modest field in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, CURLIN made it three-for-three with a romping 10 1/2-length victory. What made the win so impressive was the way the son of Smart Strike finished, running the final 1/8th in under 12 seconds. That’s the way good horses finish. Not the 13 and change final furlong we saw in the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, CURLIN sat behind overmatched leaders setting a slow pace, so he was supposed to come home well. But he has the look of a special horse and will almost surely go favored in the Derby off this effort, especially since he has taken the same Arkansas path that gave us Derby winner SMARTY JONES and AFLEET ALEX (third in his Derby), who both won two-thirds of the Triple Crown while clearly the best 3-year-olds of their generation.

Of course, the traditionalists will point out that CURLIN didn’t start as a 2-year-old, and it’s been a zillion years since a Derby winner didn’t start as a juvenile. Draw a line through him, they will say. But those same traditionalists last year told us BARBARO couldn’t win off a five-week layoff, and not too many years ago it was the Dosage enthusiasts who thought they could narrow the contenders down based on pedigree. Funny, we don’t hear much about Dosage anymore. I guess if CURLIN had made his career debut on January 31, 2006, instead of Feb. 3, 2007, he could be considered a legitimate Derby favorite. I think I’ll take my chances anyway.

By the way, where was Lukas-trained FLYING FIRST CLASS? Thought he was going to be much more cranked up this time. As I wrote earlier, no offspring of Perfect Mandate that I can think of wants to run long. Good thing he doesn’t have any graded stakes earnings or he would be thrown into the Derby meat grinder by D.Wayne.

At Keeneland, the Blue Grass was exciting but ultimately unfulfilling. Four horses hit the wire together, with improving DOMINICAN edging STREET SENSE right on the wire. ZANJERO and pacesetter (if you can call fractions of :26, :51.2 and 1:16.3 “pace”) TEUFLESBERG were heads back. GREAT HUNTER was impeded in deep stretch but wasn’t punching home and probably was going to finish fifth anyway. Give the winner credit for rallying from behind the walking fractions but might he be a Polytrack specialist? STREET SENSE ran a solid race but he’s now been in two gut wrenchers since coming back. He’s still a very strong Derby contender, especially since trainer Carl Nafzger is so good at having his horses ready to peak on the right day. And GREAT HUNTER will run better on Derby Day when he gets a realistic pace in front of him.

At Santa Anita: Nice closing kick by Jim Cassidy-trained GOLDEN BALLS to nail odds-on favorite DESERT CODE on the wire in the La Puente…BALLADO’S THUNDER won nicely in the restricted Santa Lucia a couple of races earlier…for the second straight day there was only one winning ticket in the Pick Six…Joltin Joe Talamo has “star” written all over him. Three more winners today, all ridden patiently from off the pace. We see speedball-riding apprentices all the time–they are used by trainers on front-runners who theoretically benefit from the weight break. However, these bug boys are a dime a dozen and rarely make it in the big leagues. Talamo is different. He already looks like a top-five rider on this circuit and figures to have a huge Hollywood meet. Along with rising young star Michael Baze, these guys should be fun to watch for years to come…you have to admire a horse like BLUE STELLER. At 9-years-old, the full horse is now competing in the mid-grade claiming ranks but won the 10th race of his career (only 37 starts) by running down EASTERN SAND in the 9th…the stewards got it right by making no change in an inquiry involving runner-up THRILL AFTER DARK in the 5th. But what takes these guys so long to make a decision? While I have agreed with almost every call at the meet, most seem so obvious that the announcement should come several minutes earlier. The officials seem to take an agonizingly long time over the most basic calls (like the DQ of juvenile winner CARBELLA in Wednesday’s 1st).

Although I had three top choice winners and two nice trifecta hits ($195 in 8th race and $121 in 10th) on my Premium Play sheet today, I am still trying to shake off results where my top choice finished second six times. My hand still stings from slamming the desk when Free Pick of the Day and KLAA 830 AM “radio play” THRILL AFTER DARK got run down in the 5th. To get beat by a Steve Knapp-trained horse only adds insult to injury.

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Did you see 2-year-old filly ONE HOT WISH Thursday at Keeneland? In probably the most impressive debut race by a juvenile that I’ve ever seen, the Wesley Ward-trained filly crushed her opposition while running a world record :48.87 for 4 1/2 furlongs. She shot out of the gate quickly, got loose through an opening quarter in :21.3, opened up many while going the half-mile in 43 flat, then extended through the lane while running her final 1/16th in :05.4. The Cal-bred by Bring the Heat will be sold Tuesday in the 2-year-old in training sale at Keeneland. How much will she bring?

Yesterday at Santa Anita: Two wins by Smokin Joe Talamo…trainer Ben Cecil has had a very nice meet and got another win when AINAMAA dominted turf maidens in race 5…SEEKING ANSWERS split horses and was an impressive winner of the 7th race. How come he couldn’t punch it in like that last time when I had him “singled” on Pick 4 ticket (Mar. 17) that had winners paying $19 and $47?

On Wednesday: Two wins for Victor Espinoza and two more for Michael Baze, who has been on a terrific role since joining forces with agent Nick Casato six weeks ago. Listening to these two talk about each other makes you believe they are going to have a long and productive relationship…congratulations to Peter Lurey and Black Diamond Racing partners, who got off the schneid at this meet when recent claim ROCKELLA stepped up two levels and proved a handy winner in the 6th. She was taken by Jerry Hollendorfer, who figures to leave her down here since she has shown an affinity for the Cushion Track at HP…nice U.S. debut win by YARIO coming down the hill (4th race) for trainer Eoin Harty.

Into Friday’s’ card, three still alive in the ShowVivor II contest.

Thanks to Douglas Goat ( for his extensive interview session with me last night. You can hear the entire podcast on his colorful website.

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With $570,000 carried over into Sunday’s Pick Six, there was huge anticipation for the Easter Sunday card. Lo and behold, when five of the last six races were won by favorites, the Pick Six return was a whopping $898, with consolations paying $18. Not exactly the windfall Pick Six dreamers were looking for. It happens. Sometimes they run like trained pigs. The little guy has a chance on days like this, the big syndicate tickets take a beating. My $96 ticket (actually reduced to $72 with the scratch Lonely Highway in the 5th) had five, missing with ABALANCHE, one of my three “singles” on the card.

But days like this really expose the antiquated IRS sign-up rules. You know, sign your name and social security number to any payoff returning more than 300-1 ($600 based on a $2 bet). So with 1,709 winning tickets, everyone of those winners had to go through the tedious signing process, and will have to report this as gambling income on the 2007 tax return. Never mind that no money was withheld–that only happens when the exotic payoff exceeds $5,000. In this era of exotic betting, when trifectas, Pick 4′s and superfectas regularly exceed the $600 threshold, it’s high time for the IRS to change its rules. Why not just sign and report when there are actually taxes withheld?

Two wins on the card for Garrett Gomez, who leaves for Keeneland with a 10-win margin over Victor Espinoza. John Sadler continued his excellent run with a pair of victories, putting him third in the standings. Impressive stakes victory by TRY TO FLY, giving outstanding apprentice Joe (Remember the) Talamo his first Santa Anita stakes win. ‘FLY was making only his second start but won like a seasoned pro and might be able to stretch out in distance for Doug O’Neill.

Saturday’s crowd of 56,810 was the largest for a Santa Anita Derby since 1984 and eighth largest in track history. Total handle of $24,335,478 was 14% higher than last year.

Welcome back to Jerry Antonucci, who has been recuperating at home with a detached retina. And best wishes to Fermo Cambianica, who is experiencing some health problems. Fermo, one of nicest guys of all time, will be retiring at the end of the meet and we wish him all the best.

To view a Free Sample of Sunday’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Apr. 8

Tomorrow morning will be the traditional Easter egg hunt for the kids, but tomorrow afternoon is for the adults. Specifically, adults who love to bet the horses and shoot for Pick Six carryovers of $574,000. TIAGO ($60.60) got the ball rolling in the Santa Anita Derby, followed by longshots SUPER FREAKY ($19.80) and MAKTUB ($54.00), then two more double-digit winners in ICY ATLANTIC ($12.00) and THREEATONCE ($10.80). By the time PRIMAL CAT ($7.20) won the last as the second choice, the damage had already been done. In fact, it was announced with two races remaining that no tickets were alive. Never seen that happen before.

The crowd of 56,810 on crowd (helped by the spinners who came to get multiple free tee-shirts) contributed nearly 25% to the total handle of $24,335,478 and saw great racing all day long. SMOKEY STOVER manhandled his small field in the Potrero Grande, cruising home nearly five in front while running 1:14.83. Good thing BORDONARO passed and is shipping to Oaklawn for Friday’s Count Fleet. No one was going to beat ‘STOVER, who looks like the best sprinter in the country right now while taking the place of ill-fated LOST IN THE FOG for the Aleo-Gilchrist team…TIAGO closed from next-to-last to run down an exhausted KING OF THE ROXY (nice colt but doesn’t want to run nine furlongs) in the final 30 yards. The winner is lightly-raced and still developing, so I guess he should be given some kind of longshot chance in Kentucky. SAM P. was too close to the early pace after adding blinkers, while LIQUIDITY was a major disappointment after getting a gorgeous stalking trip. As he breezed to the lead at the 1/4-pole with Corey Nakatani looking all around for competition, I said, under my breath, that the Derby was over. Boy was I wrong. LIQUIDITY hit the wall in mid-stretch and ran himself right out of serious Derby consideration, and Doug O’Neill went from four contenders to two in one afternoon after COBALT BLUE was distanced in the Illinois Derby. Hope next weekend is better with GREAT HUNTER in the Blue Grass…O’Neill snapped right back when SUPER FREAKY took the Providencia…ICY ATLANTIC got up to nail EL ROBLAR on the wire in the Arcadia to round out the stakes action in Arcadia…three wins on the day for Jon Court, two for Ramon Dominguez and two for Richard Migliore. However, Migliore’s good day could have been great had he won the close ones on ‘ROXY and ‘ROBLAR.

From around the country: Todd Pletcher had another dominant day, winning a maiden race with expensive PAVAROTTIÂ at Santa Anita, the Arcadia with ‘ATLANTIC, the Excelsior at Aqueduct with MAGNA GRADUATE, the Illinois Derby with COWTOWN CAT and the Oaklawn Handicap with LAWYER RON; runner-up finishes in the SA Derby, Ashland Stakes at Keeneland (OCTAVE) and a third with ANY GIVEN SUNDAY in Wood Memorial. What a stable, what great help. They ship out of Southern California for Kentucky on Tuesday.

Still don’t know what to make of NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ. He added blinkers and took the Wood by a half-length over SIGHTSEEING, with ANY GIVEN SUNDAY “bouncing” to the moon and running third after his gut-wrencher at Tampa three weeks ago. ‘BIZ was in a tough spot down inside the entire way and held gamely through the lane while running straight. But he never seems to be relaxed early and makes things tougher on himself than necessary. It just seems like he should be more professional at this stage of the game.

Get ready for the Easter Sunday card. I will be adding a Pick Six play to my Premium Plays, so get armed to attack this tough card.

Good luck and Happy Easter.

To view Free Samples of Thursday, Friday and Saturday Premium Plays, click on the links below: Premium Plays for Apr. 5Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premium Plays for Apr. 6Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premium Plays for Apr. 7


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