Sunday, June 9, 2013

Looking back on the triple crown races

Another year, and we saw some fine three year olds contend in the three biggest races of spring.  I thought  this might be the year to break the 35 year drought of triple crown champions; I believed Orb was the horse to do it, with Joel Rosario and Shug McGaughey the jockey and trainer to get the job done.  But that wasn't to be.

When all was said and run, the D. Wayne Lukas trained Oxbow stood out as the top three year old. His performances in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont were all gutty, and he looks to be a horse who will always be right there in big races, because he has a ton of heart.  When Orb started his sweeping move on the turn, I thought "he's back" but it just wasn't so.  The 1 1/2 mile distance was not to his liking and he flattened out, whereas Oxbow kept to task after competing for the lead for much of the race.  This time Mike Smith reserved Palace Malice just off the fast pace instead of setting blistering fractions as he did in the Derby, and when the real running started in the stretch, Palace Malice was strong and very impressive in prevailing in the toughest race of all for three year olds.

I know one guy who figured it out, a fellow debate coach and friend in California, Doug Dennis.  He was in Vegas, and he spent $6 on one tri box 5-7-12. which yielded a $466 payoff.  That is some pretty sweet handicapping, and I certainly wish I had identified Palace Malice as my "horse who took the Preakness off" longshot to use in exotics instead of Golden Soul.  But that was one tough race to predict, and to those who figured it out, congratulations.

It has been fun writing this blog for Horsemen's and I do appreciate the many readers.  I hope I haven't steered you too wrong with my analysis (well, on the Preakness I took you right off the road and into the ditch, but these things happen!) and that you enjoyed these columns.

Bye, and make some money, honey!

Fred Robertson

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Belmont Analysis: The Boilermaker Factor

Many years ago, in 1978, I got together with ex-Marine college buddy Tom Edmisten to watch the Belmont Stakes in Wayne, Nebraska, where we were both in graduate school, studying English.  I was going  to Tom's place to watch the race, so he called me and asked "Is there a traditional drink for the Belmont?" I was pretty sure there wasn't but I decided to make something up (b.s. is always a fine choice in such situations) so I said, "The Boilermaker is the traditional drink of the Belmont Stakes; didn't you learn anything in the Marines?"

So on a June Saturday 35 years ago, Tom and I had several Miller High Lifes (the champagne of bottled beer) with shots of Wild Turkey dropped into them. I'm sure we were both brilliant as all get out that day and handicapped the race perfectly, except that I think I picked Alydar to win, predicting he would pull the upset over Affirmed, after they had run 1,2 in the Derby and Preakness with Affirmed prevailing. That Saturday turned out to be the last day on which the Triple Crown was won--with Affirmed and Steve Cauthen gutting out an incredible stretch battle and barely edging  the great Alydar.  Despite our Miller/Turkey inebriation, Tom and I both knew we had witnessed something incredible--a Triple Crown won by a champion horse, Affirmed, by defeating Alydar, another of the best race horses ever--three consecutive times.

I'm still waiting to see that feat accomplished again, and I truly believed it was going to happen with Orb this year.  But then the Preakness happened.  Now it's a whole new ballgame, and though Orb will be favored, no one is quite so certain about his greatness or his ability to bounce back and run strong.

So what's a handicapper to do? I will give it my best shot.

The Best

 I, for one, am going to have one boilermaker (still the traditional drink of the Belmont but a drink which should be consumed in moderation) and bet on Orb.  This time he won't be 3-5, he's still the best of these, the pace scenario should be much better than in the Preakness, and Joel Rosario and Shug McGaughey are still the best connections any horse could have.  The Belmont, however,  is very wide open, and the large field could lead to traffic problems for Orb, so he is far from a sure thing.  I learned my lesson about "sure things" in the Preakness. Nevertheless, I will be leading chants of "Ooooorrrrbbbbbb" in the turf room at Horsemen's and hoping that does something positive for one of my favorite horses instead of merely irritating other horse playing patrons (who really should loosen up and have some fun anyway).

Beyond Orb, there are three other horses I like who also have legitimate shots at winning.  The first is Golden Soul.  He is getting almost no notice or buzz from wise guys, despite the fact that he ran very well in the Derby and appears to love the extra distance. Yesterday I watched Dan Illmann and Mike Beer's individual contender Belmont analysis; they both said Golden Soul had too easy of a trip in the Derby,  and that the pace scenario was ideal for him, and these were the only reasons he ran well.  That's nonsense.  Yes, the very fast front end pace helped him, but he still came from 15th place 18 lengths out of it to finish a good second to Orb, closing very strong.  Sure, Albarado kept him on the rail and it worked, because lots of horses were tiring after the blistering pace and drifting out, opening up the inside, but that's just smart riding; and Albarado, who is making a solid comeback after some down years, is back aboard. Trainer Dallas
Stewart wisely kept Golden Soul out of the Preakness and stayed at Churchill, where he has continued to train forwardly.  He's the one who has the best chance to pull the upset, and he will be 10-1 to 15-1.

Next is Oxbow.  I was wrong to dismiss him in the Preakness and I'm not making that mistake again.  This is a high quality horse and he is bred to love the distance.  I don't believe he will need to be in front here but will find himself a nice stalking position behind Freedom Child, who clearly has to be sent hard, since that is the only way he has ever run well, on the lead.  Oxbow's form shows his ability to rate just off a fast pace, which is what I believe Stevens will do.  He will be right there when the real running starts at the head of that long Belmont stretch.

Finally, I think Overanalyze should be in everyone's exacta, trifecta, and superfecta mix. Looking at his past performances, I noticed a very consistent pattern: good race/not so good race.  He won his first at Saratoga, was fourth in the Hopeful,  won the Futurity at Belmont, was third in the Iroquois at Churchill, had his best win in the Remsen at Aqueduct, was 5th in the Gotham, then won the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, and was 11th in the Derby, experiencing a bit of a troubled trip.  That makes him "due" to run another good race if he stays to pattern, and he also gets John Velazquez back aboard, a definite plus at Belmont, despite the fact that Johnny V has been struggling to get wins lately.  Overanalyze has been working at Belmont since the Derby, which should make him acclimated and comfortable.  Morning line says 12-1 and I say that means you better be including this horse in your wagers.  Plus, this is the horse my gorgeous (and extremely tolerant of my weirdness) wife Amy confidently picked to win the Arkansas Derby when we were sitting in a bar in Nashville watching the race.  That remains some powerful karmic juju which I must consider in my handicapping calculus.

Those are my top four selections, and I recommend putting all four together in exacta, trifecta, and superfecta boxes.  This race could really go any which way.  I will be betting some money on Orb, and most likely a little across the board on both Golden Soul and Overanalyze, but mainly focusing on exotics with those four boxed.

The Rest

Revolutionary is one of Pletcher's brigade (5 horses!) who does appear to be reasonable to play off his Derby performance, since he did have some trouble in his Derby run and still ended up third.  I have not liked the way Castellano is riding lately, although he is definitely a solid Belmont rider, and many will consider going back to him a plus.  I don't like this move, however, and I'm not sure Revolutionary isn't due to take a step back in this race.  He's clearly the horse that can beat any of my top four if he has his best day, but I think he will be 5-1 while there will be much better odds on Overanalyze and Golden Soul, so I'm playing against him....with some trepidation.

I also respect Palace Malice as a horse with a chance.  Smith won't have him out in front running suicide fractions like those he posted in the Derby, and his works at Belmont are very strong.  I expect to see him do much better than he did in Kentucky.

Plenty of bettors will support Freedom Child and Unlimited Budget but they will be mistaken.  Freedom Child ran one big race, in the slop, clear on the lead in the Peter Pan.  That race did not have Oxbow in it.  This race does.  I watched Unlimited Budget's Kentucky Oaks.  She was in position to win that race, and just couldn't do it.  I'm no sexist, but if she can't beat fillies, she isn't beating the boys, and putting Rosie Napravnek on her does not help her cause.

Will Take Charge is being run by Lukas for some unknown reason.  He's going in the wrong direction and needs a break, not a rider switch back to Jon Court. Vijack is taking another shot after running horribly in the Derby and switching to Leparoux.  He has been working well at Belmont and may make some noise late but I don't think he can be with the top 4 or 5. Incognito is a little intriguing but his last win came in a 25000 optional claiming race at Aqueduct, hardly a great item for his resume. Midnight Taboo is probably being entered by Pletcher to help provide pace competition for Freedom Child but will have no chance in the stretch.

I don't know what Frac Daddy is doing in this race but perhaps Magic City Thoroughbred Partners, who own him, do believe in magic, because it will take some kind of mystical conjuring to get this horse in a win picture for the Belmont. Giant Finish has run a few decent races but Sunrise Stables Golden Goose Enterprises, the ownership partnership here, has apparently been into the Grey Goose rather than Golden Goose-- if they think he has more than a snowball's chance in hell.

Hope to see a bunch of happy punters at Horsemen's Park on Saturday for the Belmont.  It's always a great challenge for three year olds to go a mile and a half, which throws some crazyf unpredictability into the mix.  Sort of like dropping a shot of Wild Turkey into a Miller High Life.  You never know what might happen next.

Fred Robertson

Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting Ready For The Belmont!

Getting ready for the Belmont

It's been awhile since I've written anything here, and honestly, it's been a nice vacation.  I had to reassess my ability to read a racing form for awhile after telling everyone and their dogs to bet their life's savings on Orb in the Preakness.  The race was just one of those deals: a horse who loves the front got it as well as no challenger, had a fine, experienced rider who is great with a horse on the lead--Gary Stevens, and had no other speed challenge him.  Rosario's only chance on Orb was to be right next to Oxbow, or perhaps a couple lengths back, but he would have had to be psychic to figure out the race would develop in the way it did.  Instead he realized the pace was slow, rushed up heading into the final turn, but got Orb in between horses, which he didn't like.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Oxbow won easily, and Orb, despite running hard and passing some horses down the stretch, was a disappointing 4th at 3-5.

Eventually I went back to Horsemen's (it was the day after the Preakness, actually) and it seems lately I have gotten my handicapping mojo  working once more, with the help of my friends: Jaritza Medina and her confidence in a horse named Commando Kat;  Win Willy and his crushing victory on Saturday at Delaware; and veteran jockey Gary Boulanger, who gave a great ride to a first-time starter named Mighty Bear at Woodbine yesterday, and got me 5th in the Sunday daily contest that was part of last weekend's handicapping contest at Horsemen's.  I guess Jaritza is my only friend of those three, although I have petted Win Willy a few times and he didn't bite me.  I'd like to give Gary Boulanger a big hug, but that would probably just frighten him.

So now it's back to work, trying to figure out who will take the rematch of Oxbow and Orb in the most challenging race of the Triple Crown--the Belmont.  At a mile and a half, it's a very difficult test for three year olds, and some of this year's crop of sophomore runners who figured to benefit from the added distance--Java's War and Mylute, for example--are not running.  Another who I thought might take another shot at greatness, Normandy's Invasion, is also on the bench.  So most of the focus is on the two "O" horses, with good reason: both were very strong in the first two/thirds of the three race trial.  The wise guys are all talking about Freedom Child, new to the mix off his Peter Pan win, and the wise gals are excited about the filly Unlimited Budget with Rosie Napravnek aboard.  Overanalyze is working brilliantly, Revolutionary certainly ran a fine Derby, and Vyjack is one who may benefit with the added distance--so they are getting some buzz.

But no one is talking much about Golden Soul, who was 2nd in the Derby, and who is improving massively each time he goes longer distances.  Additionally, his trainer, Dallas Stewart, has wisely not worked the horse to death, giving him nothing but easy five furlong breezes, and keeping him home at Churchill the whole time.  He could very well run another big race, and if he does, he will be tough.

Before I make any final selections, I will need to see the post position draw Wednesday, and also try to figure out the pace scenario a little better than I did for the Preakness.   Will post late Wednesday or Thursday with full analysis/predictions.  Get ready for another big day at Horsemen's this Saturday for the Belmont Stakes!

Fred Robertson

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Hubris of a Horseplayer

I posted this on Facebook about an hour ago:
After titling my last blog "There is Such a Thing as a Sure Thing" I will be writing a new one called "The Hubris of a Horseplayer" in a day or two. I was completely wrong about the Preakness. But I can't blame Orb, his trainer, or his jockey. Horses are like people--great people make terrible decisions, have awful days, don't get it right. Or they try their hardest, but just plain fail to win. You've been that person, I've been that person (far more than I'd like to admit), we've all been that person. I've watched the race four times now, trying to figure out what could have gone differently, but instead of trying to figure it out, I just want to go pet Orb, take him out to graze, give him a carrot; tell Shug McGaughey he is one of the best trainers ever in horse racing; and let Joel Rosario know that I hope his riding career is safe and as long as he wants it to be, because he will most likely go down as one of the greatest jockeys in horse-racing history. I believe Orb will be back strong (did anyone else notice how he kept trying, even when he knew he couldn't win, passing two horses in his last few strides?) because he has a big heart, and he's a Kentucky Derby champion, and one race that didn't go well cannot take that away from him. I love that horse. Oooorrrrrbbbbbb!!!!!!!!!
I decided to just go ahead and write my new blog post this morning, but I am not going to add too much more.  I know there were horseplayers who figured out that the pace scenario could be in Oxbow's favor if he got the lead easily and could rate.  To those who figured this out, all I can say is congratulations on some great handicapping, for figuring out what would happen before it happened, which is what betting on horses is all about, and which is what makes the game so incredibly fascinating.
 I also have to give kudos to Gary Stevens.  He decided to make a comeback and start riding again after doing a fine job as an actor  (he was brilliant in the HBO horse-racing series "Luck") and race commentator, and yesterday he was back at the top of his game--winning on Skyring at 24-1 in the 11th race wire to wire and then repeating that feat on Oxbow at 15-1 in the Preakness.  It's impossible not to feel great for Gary Stevens, and yes, even D. Wayne Lukas, two old pro's who came through yesterday in style.
For the next three weeks, I will be trying to figure out the Belmont, which presents an amazing challenge: who will decide to run?  will we see a big field because so many owners/trainers can make a legitimate case that their horses have a shot? or will many figure they should not push their top three year olds too hard right now, preserving them for important fall races?  is Mylute, who has closed very strong in both the Derby and the Preakness, going to give Rosie Napravnik a huge chance to win the final leg of the triple crown? will Orb resurge when he returns to his home base in Belmont? will Normandy Invasion be back in competition, or is Chad Brown thinking he doesn't really want to run a mile and a half? did the sealed slop at Churchill ruin Itsmyluckyday's chances and is he now right back at his best?  is Oxbow just too good and once again capable of going wire to wire if no one goes with him?
Who knows the answer to those questions.  One thing I do know is that I will never title another blog "There is Such a Thing as a Sure Thing."
Because there isn't.
But I still love Orb.
Fred Robertson 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Preakness Preview: Sometimes There is Such a Thing as a Sure Thing

If you saw the Kentucky Derby, you watched it happen.  Orb made a huge move on the turn, passing the other runners like they were standing still, or, perhaps "dancing madly backwards," to make a reference to a little known but very good song by Captain Beyond.  By the head of the stretch, he was by all of them, and although he ran a bit awkwardly for just a short while, he straightened out nicely, striding out powerfully, and won easily.  Orb won like much the best horse, and that's because that's who he is--the best horse.  With the best trainer.  And the best rider. He is going to win the Preakness this Saturday and, three weeks later, he will win the Belmont to become the first triple crown winner since the great Affirmed bested the amazing Alydar in three straight battles for the ages in 1978.

Some of my readers may be thinking, "You are jinxing this horse!  How can you be so confident?  Predicting a triple crown before he even wins the Preakness!"  Perhaps these same readers are coming up with reasons to bet Departing (he's a fresh horse, coming off a nice victory in the Illinois Derby); or Mylute (solid, fast-closing performance in the Derby); or, if they are completely delusional, Goldencents (sorry, can't even make my mind get whacked out enough to come up with a hypothetical justificaton).  Horseplayers are a cynical, skeptical lot, always looking for reasons the favorite won't win, possibly, and there are good reasons to doubt the assertion that a horse will win the triple crown.  34 reasons in a row, in fact.

But here's the deal, folks.  I told one of my best friends, and fellow horse racing fan extraordinnaire, Erik Christensen, that Orb would win the Kentucky Derby before he won the Florida Derby.  That's a bit of confidence in a horse, and my confidence in Orb then certainly didn't jinx him in either the race at Gulfstream or that little race at Churchill.  He was the one wearing the roses in Louisville on the first Saturday in May, and he wasn't even breathing hard.

So if you can actually get 1-1 on Orb Saturday, I advise you to cash in your change collection, empty your wallet, sell your clothes--whatever is possible--to get the most bank on this brilliant horse you can.  Because he will win, and a different pace scenario which may emerge in this race won't make any difference because Rosario can place this horse wherever he needs to be, and in such a small field, it's quite unlikely he will encounter any trouble.  He ran much farther, since he was wide throughout the Derby, and still won going away.  The same thing will happen Saturday--Orb wins the Preakness fairly easily and gets job number two (on the way to job number three at his home track of Belmont) done in style.

But I doubt you are going to get that 1-1 morning line.  If anyone at Pimlico and betting nationwide can read a racing form, Orb will probably be 3-5.  So you may be looking for horses to play underneath in exactas, trifectas, or superfectas.  And some will of course want to put these horses on top with Orb in these wagers as well in case there is an upset.  There is only one horse I will play on top of Orb in any exacta, tri, or super--and that is Departing.  The fact that he has had some time, using the Illinois Derby as his prep race, is a factor that gives him a chance.  He's trained by the very savvy Al Stall, and the connections stick with his regular rider, B.J. Hernandez, which is a smart move.  The horse is on the improve, and though it's very unlikely he is improving more than Orb, he's the one horse who I believe has an outside chance to pull the upset.

Another Preakness entrant I like a little is Mylute.  Rosie Napravnik had him charging late in the Derby and a similar effort here puts him in the mix.  Mylute definitely should be used in exotics.  A Derby horse who ran well, but experienced lots of trouble, was Will Take Charge.  More gamblers will probably be playing one of the other D. Wayne Lukas trained entries, Oxbow.  But Oxbow was up there dueling with the brutal pace in the Derby and probably will bounce badly in the Preakness.  Will Take Charge likely improves in the Preakness after being stopped in his big closing run by a fading Verrazano, who bothered him considerably in the stretch. I also know that Larry, one to the most intelligent punters I know, likes Will Take Charge, and I respect Larry's thinking.

That's it--I only like three horses in this race--Departing, Mylute, and Will Take Charge--and I love one horse--Orb.

As to the rest, I suppose I should say something about them.  Goldencents.  Go ahead, California speed lovers, bet on him again after he was embarrassed in the Derby, eased, and beaten over 45 lengths by Orb.  The rest of us will gladly reap the rewards of your parimutuel madness. I already indicated why I think Oxbow will not run well. He doesn't want to run this long anyway, and he is likely to bounce.  Governor Charlie is the Baffert entry who I perhaps should respect more because of his works at Churchill, but a person should always remember that Baffert's 25000 claimers pretty much all work that fast too.  Winning the Sunland Derby doesn't quite match with winning the Florida and Kentucky Derby either.  Itsmyluckyday will get more play than he deserves again, because Mike Smith decides to ride.  I and several hundred thousand horse racing fans are still trying to figure out what Mike was doing taking Palace Malice out to the lead in the Derby, setting blistering fractions, so I'm not thinking that Itsmyluckyday is going to be any luckier on this day just because Mike Smith gets on his back.  Lukas has entered the sprinter, Titletown Five, which insures a good pace for Orb to run at, and who will be doing the moonwalk backwards like a fast-motion Michael Jackson for the last half mile.

That sums things up for the preview, but I want to share one last detail from what I watched this week.  Orb was out grazing at Pimlico, and he decided he wanted to eat some flowers hanging in a pot off a fence nearby where he was chomping grass.  His regular gallop girl, Jennifer Patterson, was the person who had taken him out for a graze, and she was laughing and tugging at Orb, who still managed to get a good chomp of those gardenias.  Why am I telling you this?  Here's why: brilliant trainers know that making a horse happy makes a horse improve.  It doesn't matter if that horse is a 2500 claimer or the best stakes horse in the world.  You do things like have the same gallop girl always ride and exercise the horse, because the horse loves that gallop girl.  You have the gallop girl take the horse out to graze, to have some fun with him.  You keep things normal and routine and calm and cool and pleasant.  In a thirty second clip on, I saw Shug McCaughey's subtle brilliance as a trainer in action.  There was Orb's regular gallop girl, petting him and laughing, while she grazed the best horse in the world.  There was Orb grabbing some flowers--hey, they gave me a ton of these pretty smelling things after the Derby, and I sort of liked them!  There was the winner of the Preakness, and next up, the Belmont and the coveted triple crown, the one and only Orb.

Fred Robertson

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Last Saturday, Derby Day, I got up to do some final handicapping at about 5 a.m.  After taking my wonder dog Zoey for a brisk walk (it was cold and misty last Saturday, if you recall) I got back in the house, made myself some coffee, and sat down at the computer to read Daily Racing Form formulator past performances and watch some key races of horses entered at Churchill on Derby Day.  I went up to Horsemen's at 7:45 ( HP opened last Saturday at 8 a.m. since first Churchill Downs post was at 9:30).  By then, it was raining harder, and it was a cold rain.  But I stood right outside the doors with a pack of fellow punters, ready to scamper in and get a couple tables saved.

When the security guard let us in, I along with everyone else hustled to secure a spot. And later that day, when I and a group of my best friends (who love horse racing almost as much as I do) were all chanting "OOORRRBBBB" in the minutes before the Derby, and when Dana Christensen, Erik Christensen, and I were all jumping up and down in unison pumping our fists as Orb blew by everyone else in the stretch-- like they were standing still--it was well worth a 5 a.m. wake-up and waiting outside in the freezing rain.

There is nothing like the excitement of a horse race.  Even a televised horse race, which is after all what we were watching last Saturday, puts me on edge, followed by release, and a rush of adrenaline, as soon as the ponies spring from the gate.  But that's still not comparable to being at a live horse race. Up next to the track, listening to the sounds as the gate crew loads the thoroughbreds, smelling the mixture of beer and Italian sausage and peppers from the outdoor food and beverage stands as you head out to the grandstand, yelling your fool head off as your horse surges or fades down the stretch.  And you are right there to see it, feel it, taste it, and love it---live horse racing!

That's what Horsemen's Park has to offer this weekend, along with many other fun activities for everyone who comes to the track at 6303 Q Street.  Post times are 6 p.m. for opening day, Friday May 10; 2 p.m. for Saturday, May 11; and 2 p.m. for Sunday, May 12.  There are four races on Friday, five races on Saturday, and six races on Sunday.  Entries are already posted for all three days, and there are full fields of 10 horses slated to run in 7 of the 15 races, fields of 9 in 4 races, and fields of 8, 7, 6, and 5 in the remaining four races.

You may wonder why I am telling you the number of horses in each race if you are new to this game, but if you are a grizzled racetrack veteran like me, you know that larger fields yield better gambling value, and I am guessing that a lot of my readers understand this and may be as happy as I am to hear that Horsemen's has mainly full fields for the races this weekend.

I am not going to give you any selections in my blog this week.  Hey, I gave you the Derby winner, Orb,  who paid 12.80 last Saturday!  What more do you want?  Well, if you do want my selections for the live races this weekend, you can get them.  You will just have to pay $1 for them, if you purchase my Fred Sheet, or you can pay $1 for former AkSarBen and Oaklawn announcer and current Oaklawn handicapper Terry Wallace's tipsheet, Terry's Touts (or even better, buy both for $2!).  All proceeds from these purchases go to a very good cause, the Dylan Krajicek Memorial Scholarship Fund, with a percentage of proceeds on Sunday, Mother's Day, going to the Susan G. Komen Fund to fight breast cancer. I will be selling the tipsheets, and Bonnie in the turf room will also be selling them, as well as a few other volunteers for the Krajicek Memorial Scholarship fund.  But the main crew who will greet you in the parking lot, will be a group of hard working young women, Fred's Fillies, offering everyone a chance to purchase the top notch predictions of Terry Wallace and me.  As an added bonus, Rob Tuel will add his longshots and best bet selections to Terry's Touts, and resident Horsemen's handicapping guru Mike Kratville will add the same to the Fred Sheet.

Activities at Horsemen's This Weekend

There are almost too many to list, but I'm going to give it a try.

Friday: The weekend kicks off with 4 races, including the feature race, the Falls Amiss Stakes, run at one mile, with a purse of $30000.  Live music is provided in the Miller Lite beer garden and food court by Sound Bite.  There will be a free t-shirt toss from the Miller Lite girls after every race. On Friday, two winners will be drawn to receive South Point Las Vegas prize packages, which award $500 cash, a 2 night suite stay, and $400 airfare courtesy of Team Rosso Real Estate of Omaha. Get out to Horsemen's after getting off work and start your weekend right.

Saturday:  5 races, including two features--The $30,000 Fantango Lady Stakes and the $30,000 Skunktail Stakes, both named in honor of two all-time great Nebraska-breds.  Saturday will feature Z-92's Todd and Tyler 20th Anniversary Event, Camel and Ostrich races, and live music by Down to Here.  And 2 more winners will be drawn for the Las Vegas prize package to South Point Casino. In addition, on Saturday, one of the greatest trainers of thoroughbreds ever, Jack Van Berg, will be at Horsemen's with co-author and former Fonner Park announcer, Chris Kotulak, signing his biography: "Jack Van Berg: From Grit to Glory."  I got to see Jack Van Berg at Horsemen's a couple of years ago for one of the Saturday handicapping seminars; getting to meet a legend and great person like Jack Van Berg, who still loves his Nebraska roots in horse racing, was a fantastic experience.

Sunday:  It's Mother's Day and there are lots of events to honor women: "Gallop for the Cure" for Susan G. Komen Nebraska, and 5 Mother's Day Prize Package drawings, with each prize package valued at $500.  In addition, a drawing will be held to win a Budweiser VIP package for 2 to St. Louis July 19-21, which includes airfare and hotel, as well as a VIP tour of the Budweiser brewery and tickets for a Cardinals/Brewers ball game. Live music will be provided by High Heel and the Sneakers in the Miller Lite Beer Garden.  The feature race is the $30,000 Who Doctor Who Handicap, named for perhaps the greatest Nebraska-bred ever to race, Herb Riecken's amazing sprinter who earned over $800,000 in his illustrious career.

There's simply nothing not to like!  Come to Horsemen's, have a great time, jump up and down, yell for your horse, cash some tickets, eat some great food, have some refreshing drinks--simply have fun this weekend at Horsemen's Park!

Fred Robertson