Free To Enter Handicapping Contest Saturday

The Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest continues Saturday. There is no fee to enter. Prize money is paid to the top four players based on scores determined by the Win-Place-Show payouts of selections in each race at Saratoga.  In addition, the top two players earn an entry to the Grand Prize contest  which will award a $3 million National Handicappers Championship entry.

Saratoga has quite a card on Saturday, 11 races in all beginning at 12:10 p.m. There are four stakes on the program, including the G3 Saranac, the G2 Amsterdam, the G1 Forego and the G1 Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Turf Sword Dancer with a half a million dollar purse.

Road to Kentucky contest entry deadline is post time of the first race at Saratoga.

Kentucky Derby Day Tickets Available

Only eight day until the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby.  Although Churchill Downs will not have spectators, Canterbury Park will. There are capacity limits by Executive Order so anyone wishing to enter the grandstand that day will need a ticket. There are a few tickets remaining and they can be purchased with credit card or 500 MVP Rewards points here:

While limited capacity in not a great business model, what it does mean for guests is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a wonderful day of simulcast racing. Churchill begins that morning at 10 a.m. Arrive before and enter the final Road to Kentucky Contest as well.

Those that can’t make it on the first Saturday in September can advance wager beginning Thursday at noon in the clubhouse or at the walk-up windows in the ticket office.

Road to Kentucky Contest Continues at Thistledown

Yes you read the headline correctly. Thistledown is the contest track, with the double-point Ohio Derby as the feature.  Post time and contest entry deadline is 11:20 am.

The Canterbury Racebook opens at 10:30 am. Make your free reservation to let us know you are coming here:

Just select date and time of arrival, provide name and phone number and submit. Bring a face mask. It is the times we are in and the regulations we operate under. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

While the entrants in the Ohio Derby are not household names there is one that race fans recognize: Storm the Court, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 45 to 1 odds. He has not won since and really has not been close facing Nadal and Authentic. He may stand out here at 3 to 1 on the line but he has the 13 hole in a 1 1/8 mile race.  Contest victories are not made of chalk in the double-point race from the 13 post.

Here are the rules for this free-to-enter weekly contest:  RULES 

There is weekly money to be had and bucks paid for the best accumulated scores. The contest ran nine weeks before the COVID-19 closure and contestants earning points in those events retain those points and they will be added, minus the lowest score from those weeks, to the 10 best scores earned through Sept. 5 at the end of the contest.  We are working on finding an easy way to post those earlier scores.

Congrats to Terry O’Connor who housed the contest last week followed by Pamela Kight, Patrick Quinn and Tim Jacobson. They all earn cash.

Come on in. The racing is fine.

Three Derby Preps Saturday; R2K Handicapping Contest Features Tampa Bay Downs; Derby Future Pool 3 Opens Friday

Kentucky Derby prep races will be held from coast to the other Saturday with the Gotham at Aqueduct, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest will focus on the first 11 races at Tampa which begins at 11:15am but also includes the other preps. Always in this free weekly contest the Derby preps count as double points.  Find the contest details on the R2k webpage.  The entry box closes with the first race at Tampa at 11:15.

The Tampa Bay Derby is a major prep for the First Saturday in May. It drew a field of 12 featuring Sam F. Davis winner Sole Volante and Chance It, winner of the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream in January. Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. scratched Chance It from the Fountain of Youth due to his outside post and this Saturday has the four hole. The two will take the majority of the wagering action making others long odds for those looking to win the R2K contest with one fell swoop. The Tampa Bay Derby, one of five stakes on the card, is race 11.

Each Derby prep awards the top horses points and the 20 with the highest point totals can advance to the Kentucky Derby. The current leader is Ete Indien with 54 points, winner of last weekend’s Fountain of Youth Stakes but he will have company as each of the three preps Saturday will award 50 points to the winner.

The Grade 3 Gotham is the 10th race at Aqueduct with a 3:42 p.m. post and a field of 11. None of the entrants are included in this weekend’s Future Wager Pool 3 but the winner, despite his current credentials or lack thereof, will earn points sufficient to make the Derby field on May 2.  Mischevious Alex won the seven furlong Swale at Gulfstream by seven lengths. Based on his speed figure from the Swale, he should be one of the favorites in the Gotham. Flap Jack was the longshot winner of the Arlington Washington Futurity in September. He has been training at Fair Grounds and ships north to make his 2020 debut.

The San Felipe will also play an important role as Thousand Words, currently one of the top 3-year-olds, is entered along with Baffert stablemate Authentic, winner of the Sham Stakes. Storm the Court won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and is fourth on the Derby leaderboard. He ran fourth in the seven furlong San Vicente and needs to prove his BC win at 45 to 1 was not a fluke. All three are offered as betting interest in the Future Pool.

Anyone longing for the ‘old days’ when Santa Anita was king should appreciate the program assembled for Saturday. The 12-race card begins at 1:30pm. Four graded stakes include the San Felipe and the Big ‘Cap, the Santa Anita Handicap. Top to bottom the fields are full and the handle will be immense.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 this Weekend

The third Kentucky Derby win and exacta future wager pool opens Friday and is playable at the Canterbury Racebook through Sunday afternoon. The first Kentucky Oaks pool is also offered along with the Oaks / Derby Double Future Wager.

The opening odds sheet along with rules is available here.

Mr. Jagermeister In Action At Oaklawn

Minnesota bred Mr. Jagermeister is entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn. The tight yet competitive field of six will race six furlongs. Leandro Goncalves has the mount. They combined Feb. 8 for a win in the Phoenix Gold Cup for trainer Valorie Lund covering six furlongs at Turf Paradise in 1:08.

One-two finishers in the Feb. 8 King Cotton at Oaklawn, Share the Upside and Whitmore, are also entered. The pair met in last year’s Hot Springs and Whitmore had the upper hand beating Share the Upside by a length and a half.

Mr. Jagermeister has an allowance win at Oaklawn in 2019 and a second in a stake in 2018. He posted a workout over the surface on Sunday.

Fountain of Youth Saturday as R2K Handicapping Contest Continues

Week seven of the free-to-enter Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest continues Saturday in the Canterbury Racebook.  The feature track is Gulfstream Park. Those hoping to enter the contest should note the 10:30 a.m. start time and contest entry deadline. Post times at Gulfstream can be a moving target and this extra-early start is no exception. Early birds enter the contest!  Action in the Racebook starts at 7 a.m. anyway with the Saudi Cup card getting underway. See below for details on that event. Contest entry cards will be available at 10 a.m.

The $400,000 Fountain of Youth, an important stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby that almost assuredly places the winner in the Derby field of 20, has attracted 12 three-year-olds including the 2-1 morning line favorite Dennis’ Moment, unseen since stumbling and finishing last as the betting choice in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The Fountain of Youth is race 14 on a 14 race program. For R2K contest purposes, the Derby prep provides double points in the mythical $20 WPS scoring system.

Check out the weekly winners and overall contest leaders by clicking here.

2020 Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year

One expects to see the surname Meyer in the top 10 of the Handicapper of the Year standings but it has for years been associated with the given name Bruce, six-time winner of HOY honors. Bruce Meyer is currently off the board but Adam Meyer, via second and third place finishes in weekly R2K contests, is tied for second with three points, just one behind Ron Hafner, the 2010 winner.

Handicapper of the Year points are awarded weekly in various contests. More information can be found HERE.

Stevens Nears 5,000th Win

Jockey Scott Stevens, a longtime member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame, is approaching his 5,000th career thoroughbred victory. Stevens, 59, is currently riding at Turf Paradise in Phoenix where he is second in the standings. He has 4,995 career thoroughbred wins and is named on two horses Saturday and three on Sunday.

Stevens’ overall win total, adding in recognized quarter horse, Arabian, and mixed breed races is 5,160, not including the countless times he out rode brother Gary in the backyard of their Idaho home in his youth.  Scott recorded his first thoroughbred win at Les Bois Park in 1976.

Racing from Saudi Arabia Friday and Saturday

Two days of racing, Feb. 28 and 29, from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will be simulcast in the Racebook with the line-up listed below. Saturday is the $29.2 million Saudi Cup Day with $20m alone the purse for the Saudi Cup. Midnight Bisou will take on the boys, including 3-year-old Maximum Security, in the 1800 meter race that also attracted McKinzie and Mucho Gusto. Daily Racing Form has been providing extensive coverage of the Saudi Cup including THIS STORY by correspondent Brad Free.


No Derby Prep But Free Handicapping Contest Continues

This Saturday lacks a Kentucky Derby prep race but Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, with $850 in weekly prize money and $25,000 overall, continues nonetheless using Gulfstream Park’s 12-race program.  Post time in Florida, and thus the contest entry deadline, is 11am. There will be no double-point prep bonus race but the mythical $20 WPS scoring system remains intact.

Last Saturday featured Fair Grounds with its split Risen Star and the added El Camino Real from Golden Gate. Points were ample and the winning score was again huge. Roger Reigstad amassed 3,017 points to win $300 in prize money.

With just five weeks of results thus far it is too early to get excited about the overall scores but do keep in mind that to determine the top players’ accumulated scores, the lowest three weekly numbers will be deducted.  A bad week or two does end the dream.  There is cash for the top 30 overall and the best eight earn a coveted spot in the Grand Prize contest that will send a player to the $2.5 million National Handicapping Championship in 2021.

Horse Player World Series Satellite Results

With a total of 53 entries in last Saturday’s HPWS Satellite, two players won a trip to Las Vegas in March to play in the Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel Casino. Ron Hafner finished first with Rick Dahl second. Each will play in this three-day handicapping event where the top prize is in the neighborhood of $300,000. Over the years, several local players have cashed in the HPWS. Canterbury has long been involved in sending players to HPWS; in fact the first Road to Kentucky contest, which pre dates the NHC, offered the winner an entry

Odds and Ends…..

Weekly $10 super satellite handicapping contests continue Thursday through Saturday with weekly winners earning entry to the April 11 satellite…… complementary soda is available in the Racebook via a dispensing machine located on the north end of the floor near the Homestretch Diner… racing fans may have noticed a story in last weekend’s Daily Racing Form where owner Danny Caldwell states that he plans to send his stable, trained by Frederico Villafranco, to Shakopee this meet. Caldwell has won several top owner titles at Oaklawn, Prairie Meadows and Remington.

Week 5 of Road to Kentucky Saturday

The Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest this past Saturday began with favorites winning the first two races. There would be just one more betting choice victorious on the 12-race program as winning prices ranged from $13.80 to $50.80 in the other nine events.  Contest entrant Alberto Dabu found several of those longshots and recorded a season best single-day score of 3,294 points, 1,388 better than second-place finisher Halleck Peterson.

Week 5 of the free-to-enter handicapping contest is Saturday featuring the Fair Grounds 13-race extravaganza plus an added double-point Kentucky Derby prep race, the El Camino Real from Golden Gate Fields.  The prep race at Fair Grounds, the Grade 2 Risen Star at 1 1/8 miles, was so popular at the entry box that it will be run in two divisions as the final races on the card. For contest players that means three double-point races.

Post time at Fair Grounds, and entry deadline for R2K contest, is Noon.

Sleepy Eyes Todd, a two-time winner at Canterbury in 2019 for trainer Miguel Silva, is entered in the Grade 3 Mineshaft on Saturday.  After leaving CBY, Sleepy Eyes Todd ran second in the Oklahoma Derby and then won a $100,000 stake at Remington Park. Silva gave him a shot on turf in the Connally at Sam Houston but he faded to last after setting early fractions. Back on the dirt now at Fair Grounds, he should be able to use his tactical speed more efficiently.

In other handicapping contest news…..

None of the five horse players that qualified at Canterbury for last weekend’s $2.8 million National Horseplayers Championship finished in the money in the three-day event at Bally’s Las Vegas. The margin of victory or defeat is razor thin with many woulda-coulda stories to be told. Like many contests of the win-place variety,  longshot winners must be found.  For an interesting read on contest strategy, this recently posted story could guide you and then perhaps apply the strategy to your play in handicapping contests.   An NHC entry is up for grabs as the Grand Prize in R2K.

Saturday is the $100 Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest which will send the winner to Las Vegas to play in HPWS at The Orleans. The format allows for 10 mythical $2 Win Place wagers to be made on a horse in 10 races of choice from the opening bell until 5:30 p.m.

Qualifying for the 2021 NHC is underway at Canterbury with the $10 Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites. Rules can be found here.  Each week several players will qualify for the April 11 Satellite with the top six in that contest winning entry to either the Dog Days of Summer Contest or the Ultimate NHC Qualifier and a chance to get to the NHC 2021. Super satellites are offered Thursday through Saturday.

Presidents’ Day

Monday, Feb. 17 is Presidents’ Day and a full slate of racing from around the country offered in the Canterbury Park Race Book including at Oaklawn Park where three stakes are carded:  the Bayakoa (Gr. 3), Razorback Handicap (Gr. 3), and the Southwest, a grade Kentucky Derby prep race.  Oaklawn begins at 1:30 p.m.

R2K Continues, NHC news and Derby Future Pool 2

Canterbury Park’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, the weekly skills test that takes horse players right up to the First Saturday In May, continues Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs as they conduct the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, a Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles. First post of the 12 race card, which also contains three additional stakes, is 11:12 a.m.  The Racebook at Canterbury opens at 10 a.m. and entry cards for this free contest can be obtained at the third level Information Center at that time. Don’t be late and get shut out.

R2K focuses on the top 3-year-olds as they compete to earn points that allow them to be entered in the Kentucky Derby.  The Sam F. Davis, the 11th race, is an important stepping stone and has drawn a field of eight led by undefeated colt Independence Hall. Trained by Michale Trombetta, Independence Hall won the Jerome to earn 10 Derby points. Ajaaweed draws the rail in the Sam F. Davis. He was second to Shotski in the Remsen on Dec. 7 at Aqueduct. We watched Shotski run second after a tough battle in the Withers last Saturday. Remember that in the R2K contest, Derby prep races are double points and can be a separator when a price horse wins.

NHC This Weekend

Hundreds of horse players are traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the $2.5 million National Horseplayers Championship hosted by the NTRA this Friday through Sunday. Five players qualified for the annual event through Canterbury contests held in 2019. The current Road to Kentucky Contest awards an entry to the 2021 NHC through its Grand Prize Contest. In September are the Ultimate NHC Qualifier and the 24th annual Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Contest, each awarding two NHC entries. Players can qualify to a Satellite contest by playing in the Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites underway now. These supers allow players to win their way in for just $10.

NHC qualified players through Canterbury include Steve Laurent via R2K, Joe Gauthier and Andrew Carlson via Ultimate NHC, and Bruce Meyer and Brian Herrity via Dog Days. Another prominent local, Mike Ferrozzo, qualified elsewhere. Ferrozzo won the NHC Tour in 2017 and also has made it to the final table at the NHC. Standing will be available during the contest on the NTRA website. 

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 This Friday through Sunday

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 Promo Graphic

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager is an opportunity for fans to bet early on the potential Derby horses they think will earn a spot in the starting gate and go on to win the Kentucky Derby. Future Wager bets typically offer larger payouts than betting the same horse on race day. Future Wager Pool 2 opens on Friday, February 7 and closes on Sunday, February 9. Win and exacta wagering will be offered.

Here are the 23 horses offered plus the Field which is all other 3-year-olds.

KDFW Pool 2: February 7 – 9, 2020

KDFW Pool 3 & Kentucky Oaks/ Derby Double Future Wager: March 6 – 8, 2020

KDFW Pool 4: April  3 – 5, 2020

Longshot Key to Win in Road to Kentucky; This Saturday Features Three Derby Prep Races in Free Contest

There was only one winning favorite in the 12-race Pegasus card last Saturday which was the focus for week 2 of Canterbury’s $25,000 Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. That meant a mix of prices with one standout that was a must-have to win the week. Spooky Channel, a 5-year-old who started his career at Turf Paradise in 2018 and tried the Mystic Lake Mile in 2019, won the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight at odds of 36 to 1 providing backers in the contest with 1,072 points.

Todd Loose had that bomber and added another 1,062 points to win week 2 and the $300 first prize, plus three Canterbury Handicapper of the Year points, and entry to the Grand Prize contest that will send a player to the $3 million National Horseplayers Championship in 2021. The top five prize earners had selected Spooky Channel with 16 players in all taking the longshot winner.

This Saturday Gulfstream will be the R2K contest track once again with the Holy Bull offering double points along with two additional Derby prep bonus races, the Withers from Aqueduct and the Robert B. Lewis from Santa Anita, also on the contest docket.

First post at Gulfstream Park is 11am. The Canterbury Racebook opens at 10am and contest entry cards are available at the third level MVP Booth.

The Withers will go as the 9th at Aqueduct and has attracted a field of eight headed by Remsen winner Shotski.

The Robert B. Lewis is the 6th race at Santa Anita. Six are entered with Bob Baffert trainee Thousand Words, winner of the G2 Los Al Futurity in December, the likely betting choice.

The Holy Bull, one of five stakes on the program, is the 11th of 12 races at Gulfstream with seven 3-year-olds entered.

This week also offers the final chance to win an entry to the Feb. 15 Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest. The $10 super satellites are offered Thursday through Saturday.  The winner Feb. 15 travels to Vega in March for the HPWS at The Orleans.

In other news……

Multiple stakes winner Amy’s Challenge,  owned by Joe Novogratz of Minnesota and trained by Mac Robertson, is entered in Saturday’s $125,000 American Beauty Stakes at six furlongs. The now 5-year-old mare won the American Beauty in 2019 following a three-month layoff.  On Saturday she makes her first start since running third in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Stakes on May 4, 2019 at Churchill Downs. She has five reported workouts at Oaklawn dating back to Dec. 17.

Ari Gia, winner of seven of 12 starts in 2019 including five at Canterbury Park, has recorded her second workout at Turf Paradise since returning to training, firing a bullet four-furlong drill in 48 flat on Tuesday. Her trainer Jose Silva, Jr., indicated the Minnesota-bred winner of the Lady Slipper Stakes and Bella Notte Distaff Sprint will race in Phoenix before returning to Shakopee where she presumably will defend her Lady Slipper title on May 16.

R2K Handicapping Contest visits Pegasus Saturday

The Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, featuring the top 3-year-olds headed toward the first Saturday in May, continues each Saturday through May 2 but takes an occasional diversion on weeks when there are no Kentucky Derby prep races.  This coming Saturday is an example when the contest with a $300 weekly top prize will feature the Pegasus World Cup card at Gulfstream Park, the equivalent of a road trip pull over to the world’s largest frying pan or biggest ball of twine, a roadside attraction well worth a stop. Canterbury will pay the best of the best to join in.

The 12-race card is void of a Derby prep thus no double-point contest race but there is plenty of action with the main event being the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes backed by eight additional stakes. The Pegasus replaced the Grade I Donn Handicap, a longtime fixture at Gulfstream. The Donn was won twice by the great Cigar in 1995 and 1996 and then by Skip Away in ’97.  For decades the Donn attracted the top older horses in training.

In 2017 came the Pegasus with the Grade I status of the Donn being passed along.  The ante was upped. Participants paid $1 million to run for a $12 million purse, at that time the richest in the world. Arrogate won the inaugural Pegasus followed by Gun Runner in 2018 when the purse was increased to $16 million. In 2019 the purse was $9 million and the 1 1/8 mile dirt race was won by City of Light. This year the purse was reduced to $3 million and will have a 10-horse field after it was announced that Omaha Beach and Spun To Run are to be scratched.

Last season, the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational was run for the first time, replacing the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes. It offered a $7 million purse with Bricks and Mortar pulling away to win by more than two lengths.  On Saturday the purse will be $1 million.

Find the entire Road to Kentucky schedule online, review the rules and check out the prize money. On Saturday, entry deadline is 10:30 AM.

For a look at last week’s results, click here.

“Even the Losers…Get Lucky Sometimes”     

Ah yes, Tom Petty had it right so many years ago.

Russ Jubert has been playing the ponies at Canterbury since it was called “Downs”, not “Park”. Over the past 30+ years, he has been a weekend warrior, handicapping the races, betting a couple of dollars, enjoying a small beer and building friendships. Russ is a great person but a self-proclaimed average handicapper, winning here, losing there, while every once in a while finding a live longshot. That all changed on Saturday as part of the highly enjoyable Road to Kentucky Handicapping Tournament.

Russ’s tournament day started out like so many others:  26 points after three races. Most likely another back-page low weekly point total and another lost beer on a head-to-head side bet with his track pals. Then something weird happened. Something cosmic. Almost spiritual. Russ got hot. He had the next six winners and we’re not talking all chalk here…

R4) Blackberry Wine                       $10.40

R5) Two Emmys                             $32.80

R6) Charming Lady                           $3.40

R7) Shake Some Action                 $30.20

R8) Echo Town                               $28.00

R9) Quebec                                     $5.60

Can you imagine if that had been a Pick 6 sequence? How historic was this run? To put it in prospective, if Russ had started a $2 six-race win parlay, his final payout would by over $164,000. As the fictional character Dr. Jay Trotter stated in the 1989 cinematic masterpiece Let it Ride, Russ was “having a VERY good day”.

Russ added a few more points in the last four races and was easily the weekly winner of the Road to Kentucky. As the weekly winner, Russ wins $300 and entry into the Grand Prize Contest, with the winner getting an entry to the $2 million National Horseplayers Championship in 2021, plus airfare and accommodations.  If you’re not playing the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Tournament every week, you must hate money because as Russ proved, you should gamble every day because you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

This Saturday the free contest will feature all the races from Gulfstream Park. Entry deadline is 10:30 AM.

Story submitted by Jay Lietzau