Thanksgiving weekend does not mean the end of the horse racing season. There are many good options for horseplayers to keep firing away this weekend from coast to coast. Here are a few reasons to head to your nearest track, race book, or satellite wagering facility:
Championship honors for what has been a topsy-turvy three-year-old division are still up for grabs. Maximum Security gets a chance to make his case against older horses in Saturday’s Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.
Maximum Security had the dubious distinction of being the first horse in 145 years to be disqualified from a win in the Kentucky Derby for a racing infraction when he was placed 17th in this year’s Run for the Roses. The Florida Derby winner subsequently won the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July before being forced to skip the Pennsylvania Derby while recovering from a bout with colic.
Maximum Security prepped for the Cigar Mile facing older horses for the first time in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Handicap, going wire-to-wire in a fast 1:20.76. The Cigar Mile is around one turn at Aqueduct and could be a perfect distance for the Jason Servis-trained colt.
Fellow sophomore Spun to Run was no match for Maximum Security in the Haskell, but he improved a ton this fall and comes off an impressive win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. He could be the horse to beat, though all of his five lifetime wins have come around two turns.
True Timber, runner-up in the 2018 Cigar Mile and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, could be the best of the older horses that include Bal Harbour (trained by Todd Pletcher) and Tale of Silence (Barclay Tagg). Look for Maximum Security to fire a big shot in the Cigar Mile.
Los Alamitos returns
Bob Baffert is a strong supporter of the thoroughbred race meets at Los Alamitos, and there is no stronger evidence than looking at the winners of the Los Alamitos Futurity.
Los Alamitos began hosting the Futurity after the close of Hollywood Park in 2014 and Baffert has won all five runnings of the Futurity at Los Alamitos, taking the 2014 Futurity with Dortmund, then winning with Mor Spirit (2015), Mastery (2016), McKinzie (2017), and Improbable (2018).
Baffert said last weekend he plans on saddling two horses in Saturday’s Futurity — Eight Rings, who won the Grade I American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita prior to a sixth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Thousand Words, a $1 million son of Pioneer of the Nile who was extremely impressive defeating maidens in his debut at Santa Anita Oct. 26 and who should love a route of ground.
Anneau d’Or (trained by Blaine Wright) and Wrecking Crew (trained by Peter Miller), the 2-3 finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, are expected to compete in what should be an interesting Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Donna Veloce figures to be a short price in the Grade I Starlet. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Donna Veloce was beaten just a head by British Idiom in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in just her second career start.
Baffert will counter in the Starlet with Bast, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and is already a two-time Grade I winner, and recent Maiden winner Gingham, who has the benefit of a race over the Los Alamitos dirt.
My preference is Thousand Words in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Donna Veloce in the Starlet.
Opening day for the Los Alamitos winter meet is Friday with a 1 p.m. post time on weekdays and 12:30 p.m. first post on weekends.
Claiming Crown at Gulfstream
One other card that should interest horseplayers Saturday is Gulfstream Park’s Claiming Crown, which includes nine Stakes races for horses who have raced for various claiming tags.
Horses ship in from several circuits for these unique Stakes, making for races that are not just a rerun of the same horses facing one another for inflated purses.
If horseplayers can determine which horses come out of the toughest races, there could be value to be found in the Claiming Crown.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Golden Gate Thursday Race 5 — Night of Idiots (No. 1). Filly has been on an improving pattern since being claimed by the Jonathan Wong stable and blinkers on produced a game win. She should be tough on the raise.