This week in horse racing: state-breds in spotlight

By Jeremy Plonk  (Xpressbet Editor-in-chief) 


With the Nov. 4-5 Breeders’ Cup just two weeks away, the first of its regional offshoots returns this Saturday with the 37th edition of the Jim McKay Maryland Million at Laurel Park.

Upon the return flight from the inaugural Breeders’ Cup at Hollywood Park in 1984, legendary ABC sportscaster Jim McKay, a native Marylander, pondered having a similar event in his home state. The best Maryland-bred and sired racehorses have gathered since 1986. Saturday’s 12 stakes races, totalling $1 million in purses, will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET.

For those betting Laurel Park, here are the stats you need to know for local stakes races this year:

Percentage of Winning Favorites: 34% 

Average Win Odds: 4.8-1 

Hot Trainers: Hamilton Smith (4-10, 40%), Brittany Russell (3-10, 30%), Mike Trombetta (4-20, 20%) 

Hot Jockeys: Denis Araujo (5-13, 38%), Victor Carrasco (8-36, 22%), Jorge Ruiz (4-18, 22%), Jevian Toledo (5-27, 19%)

What To Watch For This Week

Live racing returns Friday to Golden Gate Fields in Northern California after a fair meet sweep through Fresno … Ten stakes races are on tap for Oklahoma Classics night Friday at Remington Park. The best state-breds in each division square off … Keeneland’s third of four racing weeks is in full swing and features Saturday’s Grade 2 Raven Run for 3-year-old filly sprinters and Sunday’s Dowager for the filly and mare turf marathon set … Three-year-old turf runners are in the NYRA spotlight Saturday with the Grade 3 Hill Prince and Grade 3 Noble Damsel, the latter for fillies … Woodbine offers the Grade 3 Ontario Derby on its Sunday program north of the border … Presque Isle Downs will wrap up its racing season on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Friday Weekend Firestarter

Keeneland has a fantastic Race 7 maiden race on Friday for 2-year-olds that could be a precursor to next year’s Triple Crown trail. Be on the lookout for #5 Weyhill Road, a $1.7 million yearling purchase for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. This colt is half-brother to Louisiana Derby winner Girvin and last year’s Preakness and Travers runner-up Midnight Bourbon. Top jockey Tyler Gaffalione takes the mount and this one is working in the morning with hints of afternoon success.

1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of Week

The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:

50% Zia Park 

45% Parx 

41% Charles Town 

40% Indianapolis 

38% Thistledown

Tracks With Most Reliable Favorites Last Week (By Win %)

57% Zia Park 

50% Belterra Park 

48% Finger Lakes 

45% Santa Anita 

44% Thistledown

Tracks That Were Longshot Havens Last Week (Most Winners 10-1 or More)

8 Laurel Park 

6 Belmont-at-Aqueduct 

6 Woodbine 

5 Remington Park, Mountaineer, Finger Lakes, Delta Downs

America’s Hot Jockeys Last Week

Luis Fuentes (7-17, 41%) // Zia Park 

Marshall Mendes (7-20, 35%) // Charles Town 

Jose Andres Guerrero (7-21, 33%) // Delta Downs 

Vicente Del Cid (7-21, 33%) // Delta Downs 

Edgard Zayas (7-21, 33%) // Gulfstream, Keeneland 

Jeiron Barbosa (11-43, 26%) // Laurel, Delaware, Charles Town, Penn, Parx

America’s Hot Trainers Last Week 

Jorge Abreu (4-7, 57%) // Keeneland, Belmont-at-Aqueduct 

Todd Fincher (5-18, 38%) // Remington Park, Zia Park 

Graham Motion (5-14, 36%) // Keeneland, Belmont-at-Aqueduct, Delaware, Presque Isle 

Anthony Farrior (5-16, 31%) // Laurel, Charles Town, Presque Isle 

Jamie Ness (10-33, 30%) // Laurel, Delaware, Parx, Penn National

Breeders’ Cup Game-planning

Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 4-5 at Keeneland will be announced Wednesday, and 1/ST BET will have the action covered for your handicapping needs. Visit for all the workout and training analysis, and be sure to check out all the pertinent stats, trends, analysis and picks in the 1/ST BET Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide. The free digital Guide features handicappers like Eddie Olczyk, Jeff Siegel and Jeremy Plonk as well as racing analysts Millie Ball, Zoe Cadman and more. Get the Wager Guide at beginning Thursday, Oct. 27.

– Statistics courtesy Betmix 

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