• Week Of 12/15 - 12/21
  • SU15
  • MO16
  • TU17
  • WE18
  • TH19
  • FR20
  • SA21
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 Saturday, December 21, 2013

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 6-10-5-8
H Horse Comment
1 CAPITAL ACCOUNT Brittany Homebred exits a pair of solid qualifiers. Always tricky with a first time starter, but feel there is ability here.
2 NOBLE LOGANS LOU Yet to hit the ticket in 7 lifetime tries. Lost ground in the stretch in that qualifier too. Retains his longshot status.
3 OFFICER Just a $6,000 yearling that connections are bringing along slowly. I am likely to watch his first lifetime start and tab for later.
4 JUST LIKE TIGER Brought a $25,000 sales price as a yearling. He struggled against maidens at Pocono. Qualifier was mediocre. Pass.
5 IF IT RAINS His last two races look pretty good in this field. But keep in mind, this horse is 0 for 29 for a reason. Strictly using underneath.
6 JUST GOT PAID The winner last time got the jump on him to the outside as he closed up the open stretch. Loved that effort. Top selection.
7 THE X HORSE His form from earlier this year would make him a contender. But, he is coming off a dull effort, following a 7 month layoff.
8 SWEET WATER JACK That break last week was just a skip in the slop. He is just 1 for 21 lifetime, but appears capable of landing a piece.
9 RJ’S DAY Gelding was 130-1 in this company 2 weeks ago and didn’t make any headway. Looms a longshot again off that effort.
10 NITRO’S WIGGLE Clearly has the speed to overcome the draw and appears faster than these. Only concern is the 38-day layoff.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 8-6-7-10
H Horse Comment
1 LONG FIGHT HANOVER Pulled off a shocker earlier this year for Di Nozzi. This race looks top-heavy. He can compete for a minor award.
2 CANE RIDGE He put up some ferocious miles earlier this year. He has almost uncontrollable speed. Note, he goes back to Dilloian now.
3 HUNCHIE If you back to that 10/28 effort, you can make a case. But even there, he was 28-1. Recent form just has not been sharp.
4 OYSTER BAY Not thrilled with how he threw in the towel last time. Prior effort was an even try from the pocket. Looking elsewhere.
5 ST LADS HE MAN Moved to this level last time and he just wasn’t competitive at 51-1. Gets Callahan this time. Still, not sold on chances.
6 BOILER BOB THE QB He defeated his main rival, Windsong Gorgeous, who is not entered this week. Looks like the dominant favorite.
7 NATURAL HABITAT Certainly is worth noting how easily he dispatched $15k claimers at Yonkers. I would not sell him short. Upset glance.
8 FALL BLISS He was really moving at the end of that qualifier. Spacing of races and being put in for a tag is a concern. Still, worth a look.
9 FOUR STARZ ALEX Only shows one poor line recently. The problem is, that came on the move up to this level. Feel he is a cut below.
10 MATTADOR D Moving to a new barn again. Dropping in class, but is coming off a non-effort. Bongiorno must stay close to Gingras early.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 2-10-3-4
H Horse Comment
1 BLUEBIRD IDEAL His form is decent, but I question if he is fast enough. On a forecasted warm night, this race will go close to 1:51.
2 MINDSET Likely substantial favorite on the move down in class. Race in the Reynolds was respectable. His try from 11/17 wins this race.
3 DULL ROAR I was very surprised Miller opted off. At his best, this horse can win. Just feel he has been facing much deeper fields lately.
4 CONTRABAND HANOVER Qualifier looked good. His form seemed heading the wrong way before the brief rest. Came back sharp though.
5 COURAGEOUS CAT Has not made any real impact in either start, although he was better last time. Still, need to see a little bit more.
6 TWIN B FAMOUS If you watch his last race, you come away saying “someone had to be 2nd.” This is a much tougher spot. Not sold.
7 BIG ART I can forgive that last start as his prior efforts were much better. Has won here before. He can round out a trifecta or superfecta.
8 TELL US MORE Have to figure he needed that last start off the layoff. But, he loses Miller. Still think he can find his way into the mix.
9 NEUTRAL DATA It’s really tough to get a gauge on those New England restricted races. My advice is to watch a start here before playing.
10 TALKING BLUES Certainly was finding his best stride at Yonkers. Faced a really good horse in Word Power in that qualifier. Contender.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 3-1-6-9
H Horse Comment
1 WESTERN TSUNAMI Miller gives him a big call as his choice of four in here. Last start shows marked improvement. Logical contender.
2 VOLO Clearly tailed off in the last pair of starts. Neither race offers much when you watch them. Needs to find his best form again.
3 ESPRIT DE KAYJAY A Parked out last time at Freehold. Now gets back to a catch driver and note, his previous form was rock-solid.
4 MARINER SEELSTER Had he shipped down off that win on 11/3, this would be a totally different story. However, he is adding Lasix. Tricky.
5 RINGO There was no outer flow in that last race and coming first-over from 8 lengths off the pace of an odds-on chalk is tough. Interesting.
6 MOVEOUTOFMYWAY Another that endured a tough trip in his last race. He is still sharp. Only knock is Miller chose off. Still a contender.
7 PICTORIAN PRIDE Last race was a total throw out. Previous two tries at this level rank well in this group. Wouldn’t dismiss him either.
8 HACIENDA It appears his form has gone in the wrong directions since opening night. At this point, I would need to see a form reversal.
9 SO TAKE THAT Last pair of efforts make him another logical contender. Fits in this group. Likely a short price and I see other value in here.
10 FOX VALLEY ACTION Just has not been the same horse since the claim. He needs to find that speed that he had in October for this try.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 1-6-3-4
H Horse Comment
1 UP UP AND OUT Covered more ground than Lewis & Clark in the first quarter at Freehold. This is a tougher spot, but he has class. Pick!
2 ROAR Has always had potential, but still waiting on him to deliver on that potential. Still feel he has plenty of ability. Rates another look.
3 COWBOY TERROR Made a monster move forward in his last 2 starts. Now moves to a new barn and is simply too sharp to ignore here.
4 ROCKIN WIZARD Nothing wrong with that qualifier as he was chasing a good one in Word Power. Moves to a new barn and is a player.
5 DOVUTO HANOVER Game effort in his first try back off the bench. Not the biggest horse out there, but he has ability. Much tougher spot.
6 VALIDUS DEO Out-raced his odds last time behind a serious horse in Eddie Sweat. Perhaps Lasix has made all the difference here.
7 KEHNMYWOOD Bongiorno picks up the drive on a horse with some ability. Catches a tough group, but there isn’t much else to knock.
8 COMICBOOK HERO He was favored over Cowboy Terror last time, but never threatened that foe. Needs to make up some ground now.
9 BIG GAME HUNTER Has big track experience and moves to a barn that has had success with this angle. The 42 day layoff is a concern.
10 SWEET TALKIN SATIN Ainsworth ships this gelding down to Burke and everyone will note that barn change. May be over-bet in this spot.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 2-8-3-9
H Horse Comment
1 AROCKIN HANOVER Out-raced his odds last week in a wild stretch drive. Catches a few of the same and a couple of other tough ones!
2 TOWNSLIGHT HANOVER Callahan lands here over Flem. He was outkicked to the wire last week, but he can turn things around tonight.
3 BAKIN ON THE BEACH Very consistent lately, but I feel like he has burnt a lot of cash here in the past. Still, consider him a contender.
4 DIAL OR NO DIAL Loomed up boldly and flattened out a touch late. He needed that start and figures to be better this time. Another player.
5 LIGHTNING RAIDER N He was 27-1 vs. Outrageous Art last out. But, he was blocked coming down to the wire. Likely overlooked in here.
6 YO CHEYENNE ROCKY Stepped up in class last time but was overmatched. This field is very tough as well. Think he needs a bit softer.
7 ALEXIE MATTOSIE Took plenty of action last week and simply got tired late in the mile. Will need to step up to compete at this level.
8 OUTRAGEOUS ART He has major speed and got back on track with a sharp score last week. Looks like he is the favorite in this group.
9 FLEM N EM N Makes plenty of money, despite recent lack of wins. Callahan did choose off but this horse is still going to be a factor.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 1-3-2-4
H Horse Comment
1 CHICAGO HANOVER Miller goes elsewhere but this horse is still live. Toss out that last race at Yonkers and he is sharp. Don’t overlook!
2 ROLL ON He was blocked for quite a bit of the stretch drive and was finishing well late. But, he wasn’t exploding. Inclined to use in exotics.
3 BLATANTLY GOOD Classy old pro has quite a history here. Recent form has been suspect, but he always gets play. Captain’s choice, too.
4 BETTORS GLASS This is Miller’s choice of four so that should tell us something. Steps back up off a sharp confidence builder. Contender.
5 CODE WORD He has class to him as well and has competed against even better than this here effectively. Might over some value this time.
6 CASHENDASH HANOVER Got stung a bit early in that mile, but I think that last race showed us he needs a cut below these for his best.
7 OUR CULLENSCROWN N Back to back solid tries over at Yonkers where he finished with interest. Does catch a very salty group, though.
8 MR COOLIE On paper, this is a move down in class. But when you look at the body of this field, it’s really not. Will need to step it up now.
9 BOLDER Pulled off that 92-1 shocker last week. Obviously, he won’t be that price again. But, he won’t be 3-1 either. Siding against repeat.
10 HYPNOTIC BLUE CHIP He raced great, especially considering he was coming off an 11 month layoff. Only problem is the post. Tricky.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 7-3-8-5
H Horse Comment
1 LONG LIVE ROCK Has not offered much pop recently. Draws inside and I expect Dauplaise to save ground and try to earn a share.
2 SCOFANMAN Has gotten better in his last few starts, but that said this is going to be a much tougher assignment. Longshot in this field.
3 TWIN B HOLLISTER He is getting some class relief as he has been facing some tough customers at Yonkers. Expecting a good effort.
4 BIG BAD ELI Has found the winners circle often this year and will be looking for a helmet to slingshot off of. A contender with right setup.
5 PIERAZ Barn change here for this gelding who does well to pay the bills, but wins don’t come as often. Will be tossing on bottom of exotics.
6 PANESTHETIC Really should have been better on the move down in class. Moved to the lead, just came up empty in the stretch. Tricky.
7 MORTAL ZIN Sat the pocket last time but offered little in the stretch. Moves down the ladder and he has beaten better than this before.
8 FLIGHT ELAL His effort on 11/30 left me a little flat. I just didn’t see enough kick from him when free. Last start was a confidence builder.
9 ROCKNROLL JEWEL Took back to last and made one late move. I suppose a similar trip is likely again at this level. Can leave though.
10 TAILLIGHT HANOVER Form just doesn’t stack up well against this group. Have to believe he is a bit overmatched for now. Longshot.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 4-3-1-5
H Horse Comment
1 MORGAN SHARK Looks the part of a deserving favorite off those qualifiers. Is entering this off a 6 month layoff. Not taking the short price.
2 VOICE OF TRUTH Another coming off a substantial layoff. This horse has plenty of class, but with just 1 qualifier, I think he needs a start.
3 ERLE DALE N First over didn’t work last time at Yonkers. If he can race back to his opening night form, he is a contender in this group.
4 SANTANNA ONE The race 2 stats back is actually better than it looks and he dominated last time. His arrow is pointing up. Top selection.
5 THE POKESTER He has a good history here as well and his recent form is nothing to look past. Fits well in this group and is a contender.
6 RELENTLESS G If you throw out his last start, he looks pretty good too. Although, if you watch the 11/23 race, he hung a bit. Offers price.
7 LAWGIVER HANOVER He has moved from barn to barn a bit. He can jump up with a big race from time to time. Will be watching this one.
8 LUCKY MAN Speaking of back class, this guy packs plenty. Qualifier was decent. Miller did opt off and I am guessing he needs a start.
9 FOREIGN OFFICER This was Miller’s choice of four. While he is a consistent check getter, I am not sold on the win end at this level.
10 ABBEYLARA Stepping up off a win, but I am always skeptical of those pocket wins from post 1 at Yonkers. Will be looking elsewhere.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 6-4-9-1
H Horse Comment
1 SONIC DANCER Stepping up off a win against softer. I think this race is tougher than a typical C-1, but he could be on the move up now.
2 SIR MELO’S Z TAM Granted first over isn’t his game, but he really stopped last week. Hard to recommend off that kind of effort.
3 CRUISING YANKEE Has not appeared the same since the claim as he has not been involved in either of his last 2 starts. Longshot.
4 PEMBROKE DEWEY He might have been a bit short last time off a 4 week layoff. Should be tighter for this and is a win contender again.
5 FRESH DREAM That field he beat on 11/22 didn’t thrill me and his last start was just even. I need to see him step up in this spot.
6 WILLY MUCHA Here is you wild card. This horse can fly, but his form has gone way off. If he bounces back, he can easily win this race.
7 REAL NICE He just doesn’t appear to be the same horse. Dropped about 5 levels last time and came up empty. Not my kind of a play.
8 TREND SPOTTER Barn change here, but he really should have been better on the class drop last time. Not sold on his chances yet.
9 MAJOR TIPPER Coming off 2 very nice qualifiers and if Morgan Shark won the 9th, then move this guy up even more. Logical contender.
10 STOLEN CAR Showed improved speed on the class drop last time. That’s a step in the right direction. Will need even more speed now.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 8-1-2-6
H Horse Comment
1 ROAD UNTRAVELED He is pretty sharp right now. Granted he benefited from a perfect trip last time. Still, is the first of many contenders.
2 COLOSSAL He continues to race very well and showed plenty of early speed last week. Always offers a square price with nothing to knock.
3 CURATOR Barn change for this Ohio invader. Rating him is really a pure guess coming from Northfield. I will simply watch closely for now.
4 VERDAD Form just has not been very good recently. He has had success here before, but this race came up tough. I will pass for now.
5 SPENDER HANOVER Nice win against softer last time. This is a move up the class ladder and I will be playing against the repeat in here.
6 SILENT SWING Easily scored against a softer group last time as well. He has plenty of class though and he should be competitive again.
7 AVENUE HANOVER Tough trip last time with Callahan. Problem is now Callahan chooses off so I will be looking elsewhere for the winner.
8 COLE HEAT That last mile was deceptively good and his races at the nw18000 level put him right in the mix. Expecting a sharp effort.
9 MEGA LIGHTNING Seems to have tailed off in his last pair of starts. He can jump up with better at any time. Will be watching closely.
10 COBALT MAN Bongiorno put him in a perfect spot last week, the horse simply didn’t have much kick. Now post 10, same class. I will pass.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 1-5-4-8
H Horse Comment
1 BURKENITE HANOVER Hes gotten caught in his last pair when he probably shouldn’t have. But, does own a win over K-Lees. Tough.
2 BOOTS N BOURBON I guess his last race was a bit better, but even he will need to take a major step forward to threaten the top 2.
3 WORLD CUP CULLEN I am willing to give him an exotics longshot look based on the tough draws at Yonkers. Using underneath a bit.
4 RING LEDA Have similar feelings for this guy as I do ‘Cullen. I can see him passing a few in the stretch to land a share of this. Using.
5 K-LEES SHAKENBAKE The other key contender was upset last week at less than 2-5 odds. Gingras had a tough choice, went with other.
6 BOOGIEWOOGIEBRIAN Doesn’t seem to offer much interest in the stretch and I will need to see him step up to consider at this point.
7 PUT IT IN GEAR Really doesn’t show much lately and is another that will need to improve before I can consider using in gimmicks.
8 WILL KANE He is in better form that most of these and I expect Plutino can wheel around a few of these. Will be using in exotic plays.
9 EX DREAM His form at Monticello just doesn’t bode well in this spot. Looks like the longshot of the field and I will be passing.
10 CRUIJFF The race he tried to leave from post 10 at Woodbine didn’t work out, so what does Zeron do from here? Tabbing for later on.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 6-3-2-9
H Horse Comment
1 ON THE RADAR He had no chance with that trip last time. But, he was 32-1 in there. His previous effort disappointed me. Tricky call now.
2 SIR ZIGGY’S Z TAM This barn has been really sharp to start the meet. Last effort was decent and he seems poised to earn a share of this.
3 HANGON COWBOY He is one of those Burke horses that seems to jump up with big efforts here, a la Transcending. Will be a handful.
4 WESTERN DAKOTA Qualified behind a very nice horse in Versado. That was a fast qualifier, too. Still, he is just 1 for 36 on the year.
5 BITTERSWEET CHAMP His last 2 starts are particularly discouraging. At this point, I need to see him at least stay closer to consider.
6 GIDDY UP BLACKFLY Showed improved speed as he appreciated the class drop. I expect him to continue to cycle forward at this level.
7 ALEX BULLVILLE Coming off a sick scratch following a 3 month layoff. That makes things tough for me. Looking elsewhere for the winner.
8 ANDY BARAN He is another that has performed well her and his last 2 starts aren’t bad. Wouldn’t be opposed to tossing on some tickets.
9 I DO HANOVER Solid effort last time, although I do question the strength of that race. Feel this came up a little tough. Still, cannot ignore.
10 SPINARAMA I like the improvement he showed in that 2nd qualifier, but still believe he is going to need a start, especially from post 10.