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Horse racing handicapping - swinging for the fences

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/26/2012 10:41:59 AM
Horse racing betting: the River City handicap

  • WHO: Thoroughbred Mr. Sidney
  • WHAT: The River City Handicap – Grade 3 (Race 9)
  • WHERE: Churchill Downs
  • WHEN: Saturday, November 22

Hall-of-Fame Trainer Bill Mott knows his horses and races them in the proper spots. If a horse hasn’t learned his lessons or lacks ability, Mott will move that horse through his conditions. This gives the horse a chance to develop and gain confidence along the way.  When Mott enters a relatively inexperienced horse in a stakes race, he generally has “the goods”. I believe that’s the case with Mr. Sidney, a $3.8 million yearling purchase in 2005.

Mr. Sidney raced once as a three-year-old, finishing third in his career debut going 7 furlongs on the main track at Gulfstream Park. Something apparently went amiss, because Mr. Sidney didn’t race again for nearly a year-and-a-half. He surfaced this summer at Saratoga, breaking his maiden going a mile on the turf. He followed that up with an entry-level allowance victory on the grass at Belmont Park in September.

That race caught my eye because he completed his final 5/16th in a very fast :28 4/5 seconds. In horse racing handicapping, that’s the kind of finish time you want to see on the lawn. He just missed at his next condition on Keeneland’s polytrack and now Mott switches him back to the grass, in a Grade 3 no less!

Mr. Sidney is 2-for-2 on turf, and he faces no world-beaters in this spot. Interestingly, Kent Desormeaux, Mott’s go-to guy, will ride the horse to Mr. Sidney’s immediate right. However, I certainly don’t mind seeing the top-notch John Velazquez take the mount on Mr. Sidney. At morning-line odds of 15-1, No. 2 Mr. Sidney could be the key to a huge score. That’s what makes horse racing handicapping such a thrill!

Likely favorite Thorn Song is clearly the most accomplished member of the field, and won this race last year at odds of 7.40-1. He’s 4-for-5 on the Churchill sod to boot. There are some concerns, though. He beat just two horses last out in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and perhaps the cross-country trip took something out of him.

His record at this 1 1/8-mile distance is 4-1-1-0, suggesting that he’s more effective going a flat mile. Also, this front-runner exits the extreme outside post (#11) and may face some pace pressure from #9-Canela. We’ll use him defensively in all positions of the superfecta and hope he runs out. Here’s how my $2 superfecta tickets will look:

2/1,5,9,10,11/1,5,9,10,11/1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 Cost: $320

10,11/2/1,5,9,10,11/1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11  Cost: $128

Total Cost: $448

Let’s make a score! Good luck.

For the best horse racing odds and horse racing handicapping, visit the Racebook.

Pete Mitchell has been handicapping horses since his teenage years. He has been a professional horse player for many years, and came to’s attention through multiple referrals from industry insiders/sportsbook owners. Pete is revered for his horse handicapping opinion and industry experts acknowledge his impressive career winning record. Thoughts or questions?



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