Monday, November 23, 2020
Another blockbuster Saturday . . .

    Mike Mulligan's BetBestBreeze handicapping website has had too many blockbuster days to count, and on Saturday he added another big day to the list.

    Mike had 19 runners listed at seven tracks: Aqueduct (2), Churchill Downs (6), Del Mar (1), Gulfstream West (3), Hawthorne (1), Laurel (4), and Woodbine (2). The final scoreboard read: 7 winners, 6 seconds, 2 thirds - and included were some real bombers.    

    It's difficult to ascertain what kind of profits handicappers following Mike's horses make because there are so many different methods of wagering. So I'm going to just list a win-place-show scenario to highlight how the picks fared, which would, of course, affect exacta, trifecta, superfecta and other exotic pool players. At least it will give some idea of what a superior day it was for BetBestBreeze.

    First I'm picking out one method at random - out of many - that is, betting $20 to win on every horse, or $20 to place, or $20 to show.

    A $20 win bet on all 19 horses would have cost $380. The total collection for the seven winners would have brought back $727, a modest profit of  $347. The key winners were Empire Express at Aqueduct ($15.20); Journeytothemoon at Laurel ($24.20); and Gary Doing Biz at Laurel ($13.60).

    A $20 place bet on all 19 also would have cost $380 and the total collection for the 13 who came in first or second would have been $994, headed by Lijana at Aqueduct ($20.80); Willtobelucky at Hawthorne ($23.60) and Journeytothemoon at Laurel ($10).  

A $20 show bet on the 19, another outlay of $380, would have returned $840, led by Journeytothemoon at Laurel ($9.20); Lijana at Aqueduct ($9.30); Marvella Nasty at Laurel ($13.60); and Willtobelucky at Hawthorne ($13.80). 

    For those with strong hearts, and bankrolls to match, $20 across the board on all 19 would have cost $1,140. The total collection would have been $2,561. Not a bad haul and you don't even have to spend $12 on a Racing Form. And, not to forget the exotic aficionados, here's just one example from Saturday to munch on: the 50-cent trifecta on the fifth race at Laurel, won by Journeytothemoon, and with Marvella Nasty finishing third, paid $319.05; the $1 superfecta paid $10,149.      

    The handicappers on TVG, Fox and the individual telecasts from each track rarely, if ever, hit these kinds of numbers, not with their picks of 6/5 shots, and the going-out-on-the-limb 'value' picks of 4-1 or 5-1 shots, while worrying about the infamous 'bounce,' or if the No. 1 horse is going to get "mired on the rail' or 'bogged down on the inside' or 'have to work out a trip.'   

    BetBestBreeze doesn't bother with such trivialities. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020
$60,000 stakes came off the turf . . .
    MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Alex and Joanne Lieblong’s Big Thorn benefited from a perfect trip, as well as the morning rains that forced turf races to be run over the sloppy main track, to score a dominating victory in today’s $60,000 Juvenile Turf at Gulfstream West.

    The seven-furlong Juvenile Turf for Florida-bred 2-year-olds, which was originally scheduled to be run at a mile on the turf course, co-headlined the program with the $60,000 Millions Filly and Mare Turf for Florida-bred fillies and mares.

     Big Thorn, a main-track-only entrant who had broken his maiden by five lengths in his previous start, raced in third behind dueling pacesetters Hot Blooded and Fulmini, who put up fractions of :22.99 and :45.77 seconds for the first half-mile. Jockey Paco Lopez made a three-wide sweep to the lead leaving the turn into the stretch aboard the home-bred colt, who drew off to a notch a 4 ½-length victory.

    Fulmini, who was ridden by Edgard Zayas, finished second, 9 ¼ lengths clear of Castle King. Big Thorn, the 2-1 favorite, ran seven furlongs in 1:23.23.

    “We were fortunate that the race came off and it helped shortening up to seven-eighths. I didn’t expect him to be quite as close as he was. Paco told me he put him into the race early but after that it was all over,” trainer David Fawkes said. “He had so much horse through the whole race. He really, really likes the horse. When he got off the horse he said, ‘Damn, this is a nice horse.’”

    Big Thorn finished second in his Sept. 26 debut at Gulfstream in an open maiden special weight race before dominating Florida-bred rivals back-to-back.

    “He ran a little green last time, but this time much, much more professional. He acted up on the van coming over, he did a lot of things last time he ran that could have jeopardized him but it obviously didn’t,” Fawkes said. “We’ll just wait and look for the next spot, that’s all. I don’t like to look too far ahead.”

    Windylea Farm’s Thissmytime ($11) relished the sloppy going while registering an easy victory in the Millions Filly and Mare Preview. Like Big Thorn, Thissmytime was a main-track-only entrant in the seven-furlong race that was originally scheduled for 7 ½ furlongs on turf.

    Ridden by Joe Bravo, who captured the $60,000 Millions Turf Preview on Saturday’s GPW card, Thissmytime closely tracked pacesetter Picara, who showed the way into the far turn after running the first quarter of a mile in :22.45 seconds. Thissmytime moved to the lead entering the turn during a 44.45-second half-mile and drew off powerfully and comfortably to register her first stakes victory.

    The Kathleen O’Connell-trained 3-year-old daughter of Carpe Diem ran seven furlongs in a sharp 1:21.40.  Starship Nala closed to finish clear of R Prerogative, the 9-5 favorite.

    Miguel Vasquez rode four winners on the program, propelling him into a 39-39 tie with defending champion Edgard Zayas in the race for the jockey’s title with three cards remaining in the Gulfstream West meet. Vasquez scored aboard Terry’s Dream ($13) in Race 3, Lavi ($5.40) in Race 4, Walkoff ($5.20) in Race 5 and Itsmyluckygirl ($5) in Race 8.

    However, Vasquez completed his final day of riding at Gulfstream West and is scheduled to return to competition on Wednesday, Dec. 2, the opening day of the 2020-2021 Championship Meet.

    Rohan Crichton, who saddled Itsmyluckygirl for her victory, holds a 17-15 lead over Antonio Sano in the race for the trainer’s title. Saffie Joseph Jr., the defending titlist, has had 14 winners.

Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $425,000           

    The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $425,000 Wednesday. The Rainbow went unsolved for the 15th day, and multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $629.86.
Friday, November 20, 2020
Jackpot guaranteed at $325 million . . .

    MIAMI GARDENS - The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $325,000 Saturday at Gulfstream West, where the $60,000 Millions Turf Preview and the $60,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf will highlight the multi-race wager’s six-race sequence (Races 4-9).

    Anne Scott’s Galleon Mast is scheduled to seek his third-straight running of the Millions Turf Preview in the mile turf race for Florida-bred 3-year-olds and up. The David Fawkes-trained gelding’s two Turf Preview wins are also his only successes in his last 10 starts. Paco Lopez, who was aboard for those two wins the only two times he’s ridden the son of Mizzen Mast during that period, returns to the saddle. Rancho Alegre’s Monforte, who has won six of his last seven starts, will seek his third straight stakes score in the Turf Preview, which is carded as Race 5.

            Arindel’s Quinoa Tifah will look for back-to-back stakes wins in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, a mile stakes for Florida-bred 2-year-old fillies carded as Race 7. The Juan Alvarado-trained daughter of Gemologist will seek her first win on turf after capturing the off-the-turf Our Dear Peggy at Gulfstream last time out. Live Oak Plantation’s Sweet Souper Sweet will also seek her first win on turf which notching back-to-back stakes scores. The daughter of First Samurai is coming off an impressive victory in the Presque Isle Downs Debutante over a synthetic track.

            A well-stocked maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds has been programmed between the two stakes races in Race 6. Todd Pletcher-trained Deemed Essential has been installed at 6-5 on the morning-line off a strong debut effort over a sloppy Gulfstream West track Oct. 10. Lets Go Stable’s daughter of Upstart rallied to finish a head off the winner at Saturday’s 6 ½-furlong distance.

    Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Dance Awhile, a Ralph Nicks-trained daughter of Curlin; Al Rashid Stables LLC’s Mizzen, a Juan Carlos Avila-trained daughter of Street Sense; and Harold Lerner LLC, Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables’ The Jokes On Me, a Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Mshawish, are scheduled to debut in Race 6.

    The Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 13th day today, and multiple tickets with six winners were each worth $5,824.

    There will also be a Super Hi-5 carryover of $9,297 heading into Saturday’s program.

Thursday, November 19, 2020
Live Oak's Souper Watson wins at Gulfstream West . . .

    MIAMI GARDENS - Ocala's Mark Casse became the 34th trainer in thoroughbred racing history to win 3,000 races today when Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Watson scored a decisive 1 ¾-length victory in Race 3 at Gulfstream West.

    The 59-year-old son of the late Norman Casse, who was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame earlier this year, watched the milestone win on TV from his Ocala farm.

“It feels good," Casse said. "I watched it with my son, Colby, and we gave each other high-fives and celebrated.” I’m happy to be able to do it for [Live Oak Plantation’s] Mrs. [Charlotte] Weber.”

    Nick Tomlinson, Casse’s South Florida-based assistant trainer, saddled Souper Watson ($17), who graduated under jockey Miguel Vasquez while coming off a 6 ½-month layoff in the 7 ½-furlong maiden special weight race on turf.

    “This is something I’ve just wanted to do my entire life," Casse said. " Milestones mean a lot. This has made me think back over the years. I went through a period of seven or eight years where I didn’t train many horses. We kicked back in, I want to say, 20 years ago. When we won 1,000, I said, ‘Well, that was nice.’ Then, when we won 2,000, I said, ‘I don’t think there will be 3,000.’ I don’t know if there will be 4,000. We’ll see.”

    Souper Watson entered the race off a sixth-place finish at Gulfstream Park in an April 25 maiden special weight event that has turned out to be a mega key race. All eight of the 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper’s rivals have gone on to graduate, including four next-out winners

    “I was just talking with my assistant, Nick Tomlinson. We weren’t shocked at all,” Casse said. “We honestly thought he was a pretty good horse early on. That last race came up a little tough. We sent him home and gave him a little break and he came back blockbusters.”

    Born in Indiana, Casse took out his trainer’s license at the age of 17 in Massachusetts. He saddled his first winner, Joe’s Coming, in 1979 at Keeneland and his first graded stakes-winner in 1984 when winning the Gr. III Jamaica at Belmont Park with Raja’s Shark.

    A 12-time Sovereign Award winner, Casse is ranked sixth in North America this year in wins (172) and purse earnings ($10.7 million). Just a few of Casse’s many highlights include saddling winners in the 2019 Preakness (War of Will) and 2019 Belmont (Sir Winston) and training two-time champion Tepin, winner of the Gr. I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

    Casse has won training titles at Woodbine, Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Turfway Park.

(Editor's note:) Mark's first interview for any publication came when he was 15 years old and was based on what a great handicapper his dad claimed he was. The interviewer was, of all people, the guy whose picture is at the top of this page.  


Thursday, November 19, 2020
Revenue of more than $18 million for 3 months . . .

    It's been a long time since we went over the casino statistics for Florida's eight pari-mutuel facilities, which have been devastated by the virus situation. The division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is only up-to-date through the end of September, so we only have three months worth of stats to report on since the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

    Several things have changed since the last report, with Dania Jai Alai and Gulfstream Park moving way up on the list, and all the numbers going down.

(1) The Isle Casino & Racing at Pompano Park continues to lead the way. The home of the trotters has taken in $229,763,064 in the three-month period and has a net slot revenue of $18,153,184. The daily average revenue per machine is $263. All this despite the fact that Pompano's percentage of payouts is 90.75, worst among all the facilities.

In the last fiscal year, 2019-2020, Pompano's net slot revenue was $83,220,629, but March through June killed the bottom line as the virus spread and people stayed home. Like all the facilities, the casino was closed in all of April and May, and parts of March and June.

(2) It took a while for patrons to gravitate to 'The Casino at Dania Beach' after its extensive renovation, but now it has moved into second place with "credits in" of  $165,788,072. The net slot revenue is $10,294,544.

(3) 'The Big Easy Casino,' formerly Hollywood dogs, is third with credits in of $147,194,957, and net slot revenue of $9,010,483. The net revenue for all of last year was $24,937,954, greatly affected by the closures.

(4) Gulfstream Park has moved up to fourth with credits in of $123,341,449 and net slot revenue of $8,009,400. The closures hurt all aspects of the racing spectrum, especially the horsemen and breeders, with net revenue of just $30,373,007.  

(5) Flagler Dog Track's 'Magic City Casino,' perennially second to Pompano Park, has dropped three spots to fifth with credits in of $125,729,791 and net revenue of $7,723,695. The lower numbers are partly due to Flagler's second-highest payout percentage of 93.42.

(6) Hialeah Park's numbers are also being affected by payout percentage. The once-revered Flamingo track gives back the most of all the facilities - 93.63%, and has credits in of $109,235,104, with net revenue of $6,540,055. 

(7) Miami Jai Alai is next-to-last on the list with credits in of $95,124,789, and a monster drop in net revenue of $5,991,356. Last year's net revenue was $53,344,457.

(8) The bottom rung is occupied by Calder Casino and Race Course with credits in of $81,737,520 and an even bigger drop in net revenue at $5,802,891. Last year, Calder was third with $70,520,842. 

 Coming up: report on how the card rooms are faring.