Archive for April 2015

2015 Kentucky Derby Preview

The Kentucky Derby. The Run for the Roses.  The First Saturday in May.  The first leg of the Triple Crown.  The finest two minutes in sport. Handicapping it though, is a mess. You are presented with a field of twenty horses (which is rarely seen at other times in America other than the Derby), all... Read more »

Conquest Stables: From Chicago to the Pinnacle of Horse Racing

“When you do something well, and with passion, people are going to notice.  That’s just the way it is.” After Conquest Curlinate finished second in the Illinois Derby on April 18 at Hawthorne, the time has come for Chicago to take notice of Conquest Stables, based in Highland Park.  Though they have only owned horses... Read more »

2015 Kentucky Oaks Day Stakes Preview

It may be the opening week of Arlington on the local scene, but this week Picks & Ponderings takes a road trip to Louisville for Kentucky Derby week.  And we mean “road trip” this week in the literal sense, with our own Nicolle Neulist heading down for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.  But before they take... Read more »

2015 Derby Dozen 4

They’ve prepped and they’ve shipped.  They’ve raced and they’ve worked.  They’ve gone off and on the list, up and down as well.  One last time the duo of Picks and Ponderings, for Wireplayers, makes a Derby Dozen list.  It should be noted that the list below is made before the draw, and a final round... Read more »

Scott Becker Sweeps the Illinois-Bred Stakes Again

STICKNEY/CICERO — Four weeks ago, Hawthorne ran two stakes on the dirt for three-and-up Illinois-breds.  Scott Becker was the winning trainer in both races and also conditioned the second-place finisher. So when the Illinois-bred stakes were run on a chilly, damp late-April night that featured the Spring meet’s only night card of season, Scott Becker... Read more »

2015 Last Tycoon Handicap Preview

Traditionally, the week before the Kentucky Derby is one of the quieter, less busy weeks on the racing calendar. Yet Picks & Ponderings keeps busy this weekend.  From the East Coast, Nicolle Neulist previews the Grade Three Excelsior Handicap from Aqueduct.  From the Midwest, Paul Mazur previews two Illinois-bred stakes from Hawthorne. From the West... Read more »

2015 Excelsior Stakes Preview

Come May, racing in New York shifts to Belmont Park.  However, one more weekend remains in the Aqueduct meet.  The final graded stakes this spring at the Big A is the Excelsior Stakes (GIII), a 1 1/4 mile race for the handicap division.  The Excelsior, first run at Jamaica Racetrack in 1903, will be contested... Read more »

2015 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap and Peach Of It Handicap Preview

We head into closing weekend at Hawthorne Race Course of the Spring 2015 meet. This weekend, the Illinois-Breds get a chance to shine.  The older routing horses get their moment in the sun as Hawthorne presents the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap and the Peach of It Handicap.  While these stakes were lumped together in the past... Read more »

Mubtaahij: From Dubai to the Kentucky Derby, via Arlington Park

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — For Mubtaahij, the road to the Kentucky Derby (GI) leads through Arlington Heights. A blowout winner of the UAE Derby (GII – UAE) on March 28, Mubtaahij arrived at Arlington Park last week.  He came out of quarantine on Monday, April 20.  The three-year-old Dubawi colt took a stroll on the Arlington... Read more »

California Runners Conquer Hawthorne's Graded Stakes

STICKNEY/CICERO — The sun shone, the band played, and far more people in spring suits and Derby hats graced the Hawthorne apron than on any day all year.  Today’s ten-race card featured the only two graded stakes of the spring meet at Hawthorne, the Illinois Derby (GIII) for three-year-olds and the Sixty Sails Handicap (GIII)... Read more »