Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb’

Maryland Horse Farms: Country Life and Merryland (Video)

I had the pleasure of visiting Country Life Farm in Maryland during a recent holiday visit to my hometown. Established in 1933 and best-known as the birthplace of the legendary Cigar, Country Life was also the starting point for successful Kentucky stallion Malibu Moon, sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby hero Orb.

A few miles down the road is Merryland Farm, a full-service breaking and training center purchased in 2001 and run by Mike and Josh Pons.

I would like to thank Mike and Josh Pons for their hospitality, and George Adams for graciously showing us the ropes at Merryland Farm.

Stacy Edwards photo - Country Life Farm

My first visit to Country Life Farm in Fallston, MD.

Cal Nation Country Life Farm

Distorted Humor’s son Cal Nation (above) stands at Country Life Farm.

Freedom Child Country Life Farm

G2 Peter Pan hero Freedom Child (above) struts his stuff at Country Life.

Friesan Fire Country Life Farm

2009 Kentucky Derby favorite Friesan Fire (above) is a stallion to watch.

Super Ninety Nine Country Life

Up close and personal with Country Life sire Super Ninety Nine (above).

Merryland Farm 2014

Scenes from Merryland Farm (above).

Horses training at Merryland Farm (video above).

Horses playing at Merryland Farm (video above).

Photos and video by Stacy Edwards.

Saturday Saratoga Race Course Free Play for Travers Day – Aug. 24

I am offering full card analysis from Saratoga Race Course each Saturday on my Today’s Racing Digest Handicapper page. For the August 24 Travers program, I have posted a free play below. I also posted my August 17 analysis from Saratoga at the bottom of this post, along with full card highlights.

Check out my free analysis of the King’s Bishop at

Saratoga Race Course Free Play for Saturday, August 24

Saratoga Race 6 (MSW, 8.5f inner turf) #6 BIRCHWOOD ROAD (3-1) missed by a neck vs. similar local rivals July 19. He attracts Rosario, dons the hood, and could be sitting on a new top 3rd off the shelf. #10 Hudson Miracle (7-2) finished 3rd, a neck behind Birchwood Road last time after racing rank and wide. Brown reaches out for $$ rider Castellano. #1 Grahamandwithers (4-1) and #7 Irish Jade (5-1) finished 2-3 here July 28. The former should flash speed from the rail and the latter dons the hood. THE PLAYS: #6 to win, Exacta Box 6-10, Exacta 6-10/1-7

Check out my Saturday (August 24) Saratoga full card analysis (available now) at For bonus free pick (SAR 14th race), click view sample. DRF TicketMaker Pick 6 tickets included in Travers Day full card analysis.

Upcoming full cards:
Saratoga Race Course (Sat. August 24) – available now!

Saratoga Saturdays (Aug. 31)
Belmont Park: Jockey Club Gold Cup Day (Saturday, Sept. 28)
Keeneland: Fall Stars Saturday (Saturday, October 5)
Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita (Friday, Nov. 1 & Sat., Nov. 2)

Orb horse

Derby winner Orb returns in Saturday’s Travers – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Saratoga full card analysis for Saturday (8-17-13)
By Jarrod Horak (,
: Mostly Sunny. High 82.  Best Bets (races 4, 6, 9, 11)
Pick 6:  Races 7-12 (see DRF Ticketmaker P6 tickets below)


SAR 5 Westside Corral/Annawon EXACTA ($84.50)
SAR 7 Lawyer Jim ($13.20), EXACTA w/Tater Downs ($79)
SAR 9 Big Blue Kitten/Twilight Eclipse EXACTA (best bet #3, $36.20)
SAR 10 Princess of Sylmar ($3)
DAILY DOUBLE (race 9-10, $11.20)
SAR 11 So Outspoken/Tiu EXACTA (best bet #4, $25.20)
PICK 3 (race 9-11, $52.50)
DAILY DOUBLE (race 10-11, $14)
PICK 3 (race 10-12, $116)
PICK 4 (race 9-12, $443)

The Fast Track with Steve Borstein

For Travers Day best bets, check out The Fast Track with Steve Bortstein on Saturday morning at 10am eastern

SAR 1 (Clm-20k, 5.5T) #3 DISSENSION (4-1) overcame trouble to beat similar course/distance rivals July 28 and Gary Gullo is good (25%) with his recent claiming winners attempting a repeat. #6 Ideal Place (3-1) won her Maiden Claiming turf sprint bow before fading to last vs. state bred stakes sprinters on the lawn second time out. Chas Brown excels with 46-90 day layoff runners and she reunites with winning pilot Javier Castellano. #8 Tapit to Me (8-1) has fired Trifecta shots in 5 of 7 turf starts at 7.5f or shorter including her last three outings. THE PLAYS: #3 to win, Exacta Box 3-6, Trifecta 3-6/ALL/8

SAR 2 (MSW, 6.5f) #3 TAPITURE (3-1) is by 13% debut sire Tapit and dam has tossed three winners from as many starters (2 Stakes winners). Steve Asmussen is clicking here and this one fired a local 5f gate bullet Aug. 12. #4 Crescent (5-2) finished a solid 3rd in his bow and winner Corfu came back to take the G2 Saratoga Special. The $215k Keeneland sales grad can improve for patient trainer Bill Mott. #1 Rebranded (7-2) is a $350k son of Tiznow debuting from the intimidating rail for the profitable Johnny V/Pletcher team. THE PLAYS: #3 to win, Quinella 3/1-4   

SAR 3 (Mcl-20k, 6f) #5 MY ITALIAN ICES (9-2) dueled and faded as the beaten favorite in his debut and the clear place finisher came back to score. Jason Servis excels first off the claim. #6 Ocala Jim (2-1) turns back, switches surfaces, and drops in for a tag. He has solid connections (Castellano/Levine) in his corner. Levine also trains #3 Pete and David (4-1), and he is back at his claimed level. Trainer George Weaver is sending out live wires here and he has first timer #1 John Silver (5-1).  THE PLAYS: #5 to win, Exacta 5/1-3-6, Exacta 1-3-6/5  

SAR 4 (OC-25k/1x, 9f) #8 INDY’S ILLUSION (5-1) needed his last 7f prep and ran well at 9f in Florida earlier this year. The highly regarded A.P. Indy colt ran in the G2 Remsen as a juvenile and hooked Orb twice at the Gulf this winter. Tagg shows a profit sprint-to-route. #6 Sliver and Onions (3-1) exits a sharp course/distance graduation run for high % trainer Hushion. THE PLAYS: #8 to win, Quinella 6-8  

SAR 5 (Clm-20k, 8.5f inner turf) #10 ANNAWON (12-1) rates a look at a price for solid trainer Jack Fisher. The realistically spotted Virginia shipper won here before and attracts sharp turf rider Lezcano. #11 Livingston Street (7-2) drops into a winning spot in his third start off the Trombetta claim. Johnny V hops aboard the fresh, tactical gelding. #12 Yankee Fourtune (10-1) can improve in his second start off the Servis claim. He has won twice here and three times at this trip. #9 Westside Corral (3-1) drops off the claim but Galluscio is winning here and Castellano has booted him home before. THE PLAYS: #10 to win, Exacta 10/9-11-12, Exacta 9-11-12/10

SAR 6 (Alw-1x, 5.5T) #2 IRON POWER (6-1) split a 12-horse field off a layoff after breaking last and making a wide move under Rosario at this course/distance July 29. Hushion excels 2nd off the shelf and quality turf rider Lezcano takes the call. #3 Countknickerboker (3-1) proved once again that he likes local turf sprints with a place finish from post 10 vs. this kind July 29. #5 River Tune (4-1) ran well at 6f on turf May 26 but not nearly as good in two longer starts since. Castellano sticks and he may regain his punch at this abbreviated trip. THE PLAYS: #2 to win, Exacta 2/3-5, Exacta 3-5/2  

SAR 7 (OC-35k, 8.5f inner turf) #5 LAWYER JIM (10-1) is versatile for profitable turf trainer Lisa Lewis and I like the rider switch to Jose Lezcano. He lands a better post and should offer value. #3 Liquidity Trap (9-2) ran well off the Jacobson claim in a slow early/fast late turf route at Belmont July 7. He has fired Trifecta shots in 6 of 8 turf tries. #6 Gold Megillah (7-2) and #12 Tater Downs (4-1) both figure for Mike Maker. The former enters fresh after a pair of close-up 4th place finishes at Belmont and the latter has won twice on turf and is usually thereabouts. THE PLAYS: #5 to win, Exacta Box 3-5, Exacta 3-5/6-12

SAR 8 (OC-35k, 9.5T) #8 MASTER WESLEY (5-1) ran well at Monmouth Park July 6 and the show finish came back to score. Castellano hops aboard 3rd off the shelf. #5 Now and Then (7-2) tries turf for McLaughlin and is the likely target. #6 Royal Blessing (4-1) reunites with winning pilot Saez but might be better at 8.5f. #2 Ampersand (4-1) won here last year and will try to get involved late under Lezcano. THE PLAYS: #8 to win, Exacta Box 5-8, Exacta 5-8/2-6

SAR 9 (G1 Sword Dancer, 12f inner turf) #4 TWILIGHT ECLIPSE (5-1) ran well despite some give in the ground in the G1 Man o’ War last time. He prefers firm turf and can turn the tables on Boisterous if he gets the right ground. He is 2-for-2 at this trip. #10 Boisterous (5-2) has fired Exacta shots in six straight and exits back-to-back Graded wins for Shug. He has won here before and moves up with some give in the ground. #1 Big Blue Kitten (4-1) exits a smart win in the G1 U.N. at Monmouth at 11f and was 2nd to Boisterous at 9f before that. He is 1-for-1 over the Saratoga turf course. THE PLAYS: #4 to win, Exacta 4/1-10, Exacta 1-10/4

SAR 10 (G1 Alabama, 10f) #4 PRINCESS OF SYLMAR (3-5) is 6 for 7 in routes and the G1 Kentucky Oaks heroine easily won the local prep for this, the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks at 9f. Pletcher’s versatile miss probably seals the Eclipse Award deal with a victory in this spot. #6 Fiftyshadesofhay (2-1) has the breeding (Pulpit-Real Quiet) to handle this trip and exits back-to-back Graded route tallies. Baffert’s filly is fresh, attracts Johnny V, and is expected to attempt a wire job. #5 Carnival Court (15-1) offers Exacta value. McLaughlin excels first lasix and Royal Delta’s $650k half-sister has won two straight. Barn won this with Questing last year. THE PLAYS: Exacta 4-6/5  

SAR 11 (Mcl-25k, 8.5f inner turf) #12 TIU (3-1) drops to a new low and should be very competitive in this spot based on his last two turf numbers. #6 Ryvit (6-1) found the pace at a flat mile a bit too quick for his liking here Aug. 3 and he probably regressed 2nd off the shelf as well. He fits off his July 21 place finish here and should be much closer to softer splits this time. He is 0-for-15. #9 So Outspoken (5-2) is the obligatory favorite for Johnny V/Pletcher. He ran into multiple next out winners in both turf starts and finished 2nd in a local 9f dirt route on the drop July 28. THE PLAYS: #12 to win, Exacta 12/6-9, Exacta 6-9/12

SAR 12 (MSW, 7f) #10 SHOT TO WIN (4-1) hails from a profitable debut outfit and sports two bullets for this. #4 Summer Place to Be (6-1) is a $100k purchase and Tony Dutrow can click with a first time starter. #6 Bottleofredorwhite (7-2) is a $135k purchase debuting for the recently hot Johnny V/Pletcher team. #3 Native Singer (3-1) dons the hood after back-to-back place finishes. THE PLAYS: #10 to win, Exacta 4-6-10/3     

Double/Pick 3/Pick 4 contenders – in order of preference


1   (3-6-8)
2   (3-4-1)
3   (5-6-3-1)
4   (8-6)
5   (10-11-12-9)
6   (2-3-5)
7   (5-3-6-12)
8   (8-5-6-2)
9   (4-10-1)
10 (4-6-5)
11 (12-6-9)
12 (10-4-6-3)

Preakness 2013 Contenders – Will Orb capture second jewel?

Congratulations to Kentucky Derby 2013 hero Orb, and it was nice to see Shug McGaughey saddle his first Derby winner as well. He looks like a runaway locomotive at this point and might be too hot to handle in Preakness 2013.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb

Congrats to Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Orb was one of my Exciting Prospects when I posted my first Derby Top 10 list last September. He lacked maturity in his first three outings but has really put everything together since. The Derby was his fifth straight win and he goes to Baltimore on a serious roll. He received a great pace setup in the Derby and it could be more of the same in the Preakness with the likes of Titletown Five and Goldencents on the engine early.

Speaking of rolls, jockey Joel Rosario has been unstoppable since winning the Dubai World Cup. Orb is currently preparing for the second jewel at Belmont Park and will ship to Pimlico early next week.

It is fun to talk about Orb’s Triple Crown chances but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. History is not on his side but he does possess all of the tools to give it a serious run. The son of Malibu Moon wheels back quickly on May 18 and it should be noted that he graduated off two weeks rest last year. I also saw a stat on TVG earlier this week about Shug McGaughey clicking at a 50% rate (6-for-12) when he brings horses back in 14-days. New shooter Departing might be his biggest competition.

Look out if Orb makes it past the Preakness but he will still have to beat fresh, talented rival Revolutionary at Big Sandy. That’s a discussion for another day.

Derby runner-up Golden Soul is pointing to the Belmont Stakes. He finished 2nd in the Derby because of the pace and will be an underlay in the Test of Champions.

My Derby selection Revolutionary, the top ranked contender on my Derby list since February, ran well to land the show on the first Saturday in May. I have not lost faith and he reminds me of my past Derby/Belmont picks Empire Maker and Union Rags.

Oxbow was too close to the rapid Derby pace and Normandy Invasion moved too soon. Both are players in Baltimore, especially the latter if Chad Brown opts to go in that direction.

Mylute took advantage of the fleet fractions and was in the show photo (finished 5th). If he runs in the Preakness, note that jockey Rosie Napravnik has plenty of Pimlico experience.

Will Take Charge was making a move with Orb in the Derby but Verrazano was backing up and stopped his momentum. The Derby was his first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth and he was coming off a layoff so it was not a bad effort finishing 8th.

Goldencents seemingly hated the Derby slop and will be part of the Preakness pace, especially if the track is fast.

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5 contenders) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Contenders

Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fifth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Kentucky Derby (wet track) and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Red hot jockey Joel Rosario has been on a roll since the Dubai Gold Cup and he is an obvious major stretch player in Baltimore.

Departing (War Front) – Finished 3rd in the productive Louisiana Derby and overcame a wide draw to smartly take down the Illinois Derby. The Al Stall Jr. runner is a dangerous new shooter and it is nice to see him join the Triple Crown series.

Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt trained aggressively and moved too soon under Javier Castellano in the Derby. He needs to sit back with Orb and make a big late run in the Preakness. He is reportedly much more relaxed since returning to New York. His ultimate goal is the G1 Travers at the Spa in August.

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – LA Derby runner-up rallied to finish 5th on the first Saturday in May under Rosie Napravnik. Trainer Tom Amoss said that his Preakness status would be revealed on Saturday morning.

Oxbow horse

Oxbow was too close to the hot Derby pace – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and finished a solid 6th in the Derby after attending fast fractions from an inner post under Gary Stevens. Lukas trainee can rate but went all the way in both career wins. His main problem is that he is usually not quick enough to grab the early lead.

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a respectable 8th in the Derby. He did find some traffic but that is to be expected in a 19-horse field. Mike Smith will ride in the Preakness and he could improve 2nd off the shelf.

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa Jr.’s colt was the talk of Florida earlier this year at the Gulf. The Holy Bull hero played second fiddle to Orb in the Florida Derby and finished a disappointing 15th on the first Saturday in May. John Velazquez will ride in the Preakness.

Preakness Dreamers:

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Doug O’Neill’s quality early-pressing type seemingly hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help either. He earned a strong number in the SA Derby and is capable of big efforts on fast ground under the proper race shape.

Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – Smartly captured G3 Sunland Derby in his third career start. The Baffert trainee has plenty of upside but still lacks seasoning. He wisely passed on the Derby and has seemingly recovered from a minor hind foot issue. Worked 6f in 1:11.80 (1/3) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Street Spice (Street Sense) – Illinois Derby 5th place finisher seems up against it in the Preakness. He likely needs to find a softer spot to be competitive. Breezed 5f from the gate in 1:03.40 (27/33) at Arlington Park on 5-4.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Has lost all three starts this year and looks like a sprinter at this point. He will attend the Preakness pace before fading. Breezed 4f in :47.60 (5/35) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – 18th place Derby finisher has now dropped two straight. He came out of the Wood Memorial with a lung infection and that hiccup probably cost him under the Twin Spires. He has talent but is not sharp right now.