Race Reviews

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Track Handicapper Darin Zocali's Bio
Darin Z  RACE REVIEWS by Darin Zoccali A thoroughbred and standardbred racing announcer and analyst, Darin works for several racetracks including the Meadowlands, Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park and Tioga Downs.  He is also a regular fill in on Sirius XM Radio's Down The Stretch broadcast.  He is a graduate of St John's University (class of 2005) and is one of the youngest announcers/broadcasters in the racing business.

Race Reviews For Friday, May 22, 2015

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 1-2-6-3
H Horse Comment
1 CITIZEN HALL Encouraging first start for this Hambletonian-eligible colt. Winner of that heat was third in a PASS behind Pinkman, last years two year old trotting champion. Runner-up was 4th in a very good NJSS division next out. Plenty of appeal, but price is gone.
2 ARIEL SALUTE Raced quite well last time showing a new dimension of speed. This barn will continue to improve this once $170,000 yearling. Exits the same race as Citizen Hall and performed well. Key contender.
3 CUP TOWN GIRL Exiting a nw2 for this. While technically a class drop, the inside pair are exiting a much better race. Still, he raced well last time and it not without a chance. I do believe he is third or fourth best on paper.
4 AARENA HANOVER Filly continues to struggle with breaking issues. Faces some up and coming prospects. Up against it at this time.
5 NORTHERN GRACE Stayed trotting last time. She is a kin to Opening Night ($842k) and will likely improve over time for these connections.
6 UNCLE HANOVER He was finishing with noticeable late trot last time. He is beginning to show the improvement you look for in lightly-raced trotters and while I think a win may be a touch out of reach, he can hit the ticket here.
7 TAME THE DICE This is the first foal from a dam that earned $131k. Improved in that second qualifier, but I will wait and see what she has.
8 TOY IS OURS Gelding has a pair of full-brothers who have earned $30k combined. Family of Supertoy ($372k). Need to see more here.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 6-4-7-1
H Horse Comment
1 MUSCLES AND SPICE Sent off at 37-1 against Dapper Don last time. Didn’t factor, but came home in sub-28. Likely to continue to improve and he has a strong pedigree being from the family of Spellbound Hanover. Have a feeling we haven’t seen the best of him, yet.
2 CINNABAR HALL Winner of last came back to win a Stallion series event. Dominated the Kentucky Sire Stakes last year. Watching closely.
3 SMART AS A WHIP Out-performed pari-mutuel expectations last time when finishing sub-28. He probably has more to offer as well.
4 DAPPER DON Easy winner in his three year old debut. Then tried one of the leading Hambletonian contenders in a PASS event. Slides back down in class off a miscue and is one of four horses that I think can win this event.
5 STARZINNER I will forgive the break from the pylons on the half-mile track. Note, connections entered him in an Excelsior event rather that a NYSS heat and he is not Empire Breeders Classic elgibiel. That doesn’t show a great deal of confidence.
6 P MAC ATTACK It was a long time ago, but this colt does own a win over Muscle Diamond, who will be a serious three year old this year. He is better than his last raceline indicates and he has talent. I expect major improvement tonight.
7 SHOW BIZ HALL Made another mistake last time which he is prone to do. He is a talented trotter, but always comes with some risk. Hard to take too short of a price on him, again. Very tricky call because if he trots, he can win.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 5-3-2-7
H Horse Comment
1 BALLAGIO HANOVER Has been earning some money at the amateur level recently. Just one win on the year. Saves ground for a part.
2 PERMANENT JOY He is not off to a great start this season, but this is a spot he typically excels in. Good draw. Expecting a solid effort.
3 JACKS TO OPEN Moved up the ladder and just couldn’t get involved last time. Has done good work at this level in the recent past. Player.
4 MAGGIES BED Neither of her last two efforts inspire much confidence here. Pompano form was not bad. Taking a wait and see approach.
5 BLUEBIRD KIDSQUEEN Recent form has been questionable. But, she has been facing better, for the most part. Good post. Expect more.
6 RUSSEL THE MUSCLE Improved effort against the bottom level at Freehold. This stable has had a fine meet and he may be a price play.
7 KNOCKABOUT ROSIE This mare has been in solid form lately. She raced well in a decent race last time. There are things to like here.
8 BLOOMFIELDCANTIFLY Came from a difficult spot last time at Tioga. She didn’t race badly when last seen here, either. Interesting.
9 MAJESTIC GINGER This mare has a really big move in her, but she is also a risk to break each time. All or nothing type. Very tricky call.
10 BAMBINO HALL He has plenty of speed although he didn’t show it last time at Freehold. Pretty sharp right now. Post is tricky. A player.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 2-1-6-8
H Horse Comment
1 DOUGH DOUGH Admire how this mare has come back from the long layoff. Raced well against a good group upon her return. Then, endured a tough grinding trip next time out. Picks up the services of Campbell. Plenty of things to like.
2 WORLD CUP Showed speed last time off a race that he showed ferocious late kick. I think he does his best work off a helmet and now he drops in class and gets away from some very nice trotters. Sears in the bike will attraction plenty of wagering dollars, too.
3 DREAMS OF THUNDER Returned well off the qualifier but has not been handling the move up the latter very well. Off a miscue, too.
4 SIX GUN HALL He has broken stride in two of his last three. His other effort was a 39-1 shocker. Exits the same race as World Cup.
5 ITZAZIAM He has won here before, but it was against lesser than this. Gelding is racing himself back into shape. Keep tabs for later.
6 LAZURUS Gelding has a bit of second-itis lately. But I like how he is improving while moving up the class ladder. He should work out a trip from here and he figures to be rolling late once again. Must-include.
7 HOME TURF Did his best work at lower levels than this and regressed into a break last time while heavily-favored. A bit skeptical now.
8 POUNCE HANOVER Got back to his winning ways on the class drop. He moves back up the ladder, but if you like Lazurus, it is impossible not to include this very sharp gelding on your tickets. He will be the one to catch.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 4-5-6-8
H Horse Comment
1 DEMONS N DIAMONDS Impossible to get a real gauge on her racing against Mission Brief. But, her 1 for 17 mark is a concern here.
2 BLK THAI OPTIONAL This filly hasn’t taken steps forward since her career debut. That troubles me. Saves ground, hopes for a share.
3 MODEL BEHAVIOR This filly has some appeal at a price. No chance in her last pair. Note, she was only 7-1 in The Simpson. Better post should keep her closer. I can see her rallying into this for a share.
4 RILEY’S DREAM She chased Mission Brief last time while going a good mile. Without that powerhouse in the field this week, this lass assumes the role of the favorite. She looks like the best of these on paper.
5 MARION MILLIONAIR Came up with the best effort of her career last time, finishing third to Mission Brief. I like this mare’s speed and she draws extremely well for this assignment. The logical alternative to the favorite.
6 RULES OF THE ROAD Sitting the pocket to a filly that has the speed of Mission Brief is a very tough thing to do. I wouldn’t be too hard on her for losing ground in the stretch. She is a candidate to step her game up.
7 JOSIE’S JOY Good qualifier in preparation for this. Off her last qualifier at Hoosier, filly had to qualify again and missed round 1. That could hurt her chances a bit here as others have a bit more seasoning.
8 SOUTHWIND CARTIER Circumstances put her at 91-1 last time. She is not that far off from the top fillies here. Exotics upside at a price.
9 DYNAMITE DAME She was OK last time and her previous form was more than acceptable. The post will prove a challenge though. Tricky.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 6-4-7-3
H Horse Comment
1 ANGELS DELIGHT Steps up off a narrow loss against lesser, including the mare to her outside. Very difficult spot for her. Hard to endorse.
2 COFFEE ADDICT It took a drop in class plus the addition of Lasix for her to perk up. Steps back up now and will face a tough challenge.
3 LUCY’S PEARL Saved ground and had pace in the stretch. That was a good performance. Tough to see her winning, but has exotics appeal at what will be an inflated price due to the level of competition.
4 SANDBETWEENURTOES She was collared in the stretch by an undefeated Horse of the Year in that qualifier. Her season last year was a tail of two fillies. When she is on top of her game, she can absolutely win this race.
5 ACT NOW This mare had her moments last year and her qualifier at Philly indicates that Drennan has her on her toes and ready to fire. She catches a difficult group though and it would take a monster effort to win this time.
6 WEEPER Anyone who watched her rally last time will have an extremely difficult time playing against her now and her price will reflect that. She was pacing out of her skin in the stretch. Curious to see if the tactics remain the same. The one to beat.
7 INITTOWINAFORTUNE Somehow, she paid $25 to win last week. That still has me scratching my head. Her speed is her best weapon as she consistently puts herself in a spot where she can contend. Expect nothing less here.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 6-8-7-5
H Horse Comment
1 TRUE BLUE STRIDE He was in contention for a check when he broke last week. Well-bred colt needs to race to his pedigree now.
2 EL DIABLO BR He took more play than I thought last week racing against two leading Hambletonian contenders. He avoids those foes this week but has Guess Whos Back to deal with now. Only four lifetime starts so he has upside.
3 CODE BON He flashed talent at Lexington last year. But, he was soundly beaten by Guess Whos Back in that qualifier. Must step things up.
4 SOUTHWIND MOZART Colt raced as well as anyone could have hoped for last time. He was 184-1 there. Still will offer a square price.
5 ALDEBARAN EAGLE Put forth an outstanding effort off the layoff last time. On paper, he is probably the third bet horse in the race, but he also will offer the best price of the contenders. I wouldn’t blame anyone for trying him.
6 TOTAL DARKNESS This colt has some real “go” to him and while he still appears to be a work in process, he showed in the last quarter of a mile last week what he can do. Give him a long look here and going forward. Sneaky good colt.
7 GUESS WHOS BACK Came back a winner, but there were times in that mile where he appeared to be a bit steppy. That has been a problem with him dating back to last year. High on talent, but feel there is some risk in taking a short price again.
8 CANEPA HANOVER When Guess Whos Back got to the half-mile in 58-seconds, this colt had no chance to catch him. Takter-trainee has plenty of talent and he can certainly win if he can stay close enough. Logical contender.
9 NATURAL KEMP Extremely well-bred colt, but up to this point, he just appears to be a cut below the best of these. Must step things up.
10 CRESCENT FASHION We probably haven’t seen the best of him yet, but circumstances place him up against it here. Tough trip likely.
11 SATURDAY KNIGHT Colt has breaking issues and just doesn’t seem fast enough at this time to compete with these. Longshot.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 9-1-10-2
H Horse Comment
1 NEVER EVER CLEVER The 10 slices compared to two lifetime wins concerns me on the win-end. Still, her form is too good to be ignored and she must be includes on all exotics tickets plus maybe a win saver.
2 ON THE SLY He raced to within one length of a very serious Hambletonian contender two starts back. Regressed last time. Still consider.
3 SILVERHILL VOLO Even try last time, but on a level playing field, he is playing catch-up to several of these. Winless in 10 starts this year.
4 WHEELS AH SMOKIN Comes from a good family, including a champion in Wheeling N Dealin. Not racing up to that pedigree, yet. Tricky.
5 GO BYEM Enters this off a win, but that field was far lesser than what he sees here. Draw will give his pilot options. Siding with others.
6 FERRAGAMO Returns after trying a couple of events in Pennsylvania. He raced well at times earlier in the year and fits well at this level.
7 WYGANT PRINCESS Even try landed her a check while being dismissed at 106-1 last time. I don’t see the same trip happening here.
8 ANNAPOLIS She hasn’t come back very well yet this season and would need to step things up. Can’t see her making up all that ground.
9 TWO HIP DIP When he trots, he is very good. But at this level he is always going to offer a short price and sometimes he will burn a lot of cash. That being said, once again, if he trots, he will win this race.
10 DONNIE DARKO Raced well last time while chasing the favorite to his inside. He could have used a little bit of help from the post position draw and is more likely to land underneath than on top again.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 9-8-6-4
H Horse Comment
1 MCNICKELS MCDIMES She is moving up a bit off a series of rather dull efforts. Moves inside, but I am looking elsewhere for contenders.
2 LEXUS ARTIST Hasn’t had much luck with the post draw at Yonkers. Draws better here and might be worth a look as a bomber for exotics.
3 AMERICANAUTOMATION She did come home in 27-seconds last time and this field is top-heavy. A repeat of that puts her in the super.
4 KZ BEACH GIRL She has taken money in her last three starts and has disappointed. Now, she gets some post relief. Chance to rebound.
5 CHEYENNE MIRIAM Exits the same race as Lexis Artist in the last pair. She was just a bit better than that mare. Maybe a minor award.
6 JANIE BAY This mare has tailed off recently. Perhaps a return to the bigger track with Marohn in the bike will move her forward. Maybe.
7 SMOKIN N GRININ She seems to put forth better efforts at The Meadowlands recently than anywhere else. She has speed. Maybe a part.
8 REAL DRAMA She was in over her head last time at Philly and the class drop here is significant. I am not sure how much speed she has but she catches a rather suspect group and I have to rate her chances as quite good here.
9 TOP BRAND Fits into the last part of the condition and catches a field with a lot of questions as well. That is an awfully imposing angle here and she is coming off a sharp win. Looms as the one to beat at the price will reflect that.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 9-3-7-8
H Horse Comment
1 HELIOS You never know when this gelding is going to show up with a peak effort, or when he is going to make a mistake. Always tricky.
2 CASHAHALLIC Major post improvement here. That last race was a toss-out and it wouldn’t shock me if he stepped up and raced better.
3 QUICK DEAL Faced better last time and simply came up a bit short in the stretch. Moves inside and he seems to be the one they will have to catch as his speed will be prominent here. Looms a major contender.
4 STEEL CURTIN He has been picking up checks consistently but only has one win on the year. Draws well and can compete with a trip.
5 POWER WHEEL Exits the same race as Quick Deal, but he wasn’t a factor there. Needs to step up his game here to contend for a win.
6 DREAM ROCKER His recent form has developed a pattern. His speed carries him into the stretch, but he hasn’t been able to hold on recently. I think the presence of Quick Deal will only make things tougher for him. Exotics use.
7 LAUDERDALE Made a break in back to back starts. Qualified well behind Father Patrick and certainly fits at this level. If he remains on-stride, he is a win contender, but there is some risk involved.
8 B YOYO Sharp win off the qualifier last time. Talented trotter also has a tendency to go off-stride at times and comes with some risk as well. Still, off his last performance, he looms a major win contender.
9 IN NOMINE PATRI Exits the same race as Quick Deal and raced very well there while committing first over. He does draw outside but has early speed and should be a factor on the class drop.
10 ANNIES LIST Better efforts this year have come against lesser. Now moves all the way outside without much speed. Tough assignment.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 3-7-6-2
H Horse Comment
1 KEN DOLL J Never involved last time. Previous effort was decent against similar at Philly. Catches a good group here. Mixed feelings.
2 RIVER RUNS THRU IT This stable has been on a tear. That cannot be understated. But this is a monstrous move up in class. Typically, I would say this is asking too much, but this barn is just so sharp right now, it’s scary to exclude this mare.
3 BEACH STORY She has the look of a are that will take some money here. She had sneaky late pace there and should only improve in her second start off the layoff. Looms a legitimate contender.
4 BEACH GRANNY This field is pretty comparable to the field she last faced at Philly. That concerns me. Her Meadowlands form was solid.
5 PAN LUIS OBISPO While she continues to earn checks, she hasn’t had that same late punch to put her over the top. While she isn’t far off, it would require some improvement at this time to see her get there.
6 BEAUTIFUL LADY In very tough last time and drops back down the ladder to a level that saw her push Jerseylicious to the brink two starts back. She fits well at this level and is one to watch here.
7 KATIE SAID This mare was gearing up from far back when she went off-stride. She was excellent the week before. Curious to see the tactics utilized here and as long as she stays pacing, she figures to be motoring late.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 4-8-6-2
H Horse Comment
1 JITTERBUG Has not shown a tremendous amount of form yet this season. Taking a wait and see approach while looking for improvement.
2 ORANGE BIGI This mare has not raced badly since shifting to the big track and now she drops in class as well. Winless this year. Using.
3 WHOWHOHOOSIER They put the trotting hobbles on for that qualifier and the result was good. First start in six months. Watching this one.
4 EXQUISITE GLIDE Raced very well against a better group of trotters when last seen here. Any repeat of that makes him very tough to beat.
5 KINGAPORE Gelding has consistently burnt cash this meet and seems to always attract attention at the windows. Can rally for a share.
6 SOUTHWIND POSEIDON Impressed by his first start of the season as it was difficult from post 10. This race came up light. Things to like.
7 ENTRANCED Not a bad qualifier and he is a bit of a wild card. If he stays trotting, I can see him finding a way onto the tickets. Maybe.
8 SWEET BEN Tough trip last time and simply ran out of steam late. His previous effort was strong. May add value to the exotics here.
9 HASTY PROFFITT Finished 4th against better at Yonkers the other day. Solid try two starts back. Needs to overcome the wide post now.