Handicapping Tips

Q-Racing Aces Handicapping Tips

Welcome to Hialeah Park on Sunday, December 29 for a spectacular day of stakes action!  Racing Ace John Hernandez gives his take on the Hialeah Futurity and special guest handicapper Rachel McLaughlin, who does such a great job at Indiana Downs, offers her analysis of the Hialeah Derby

Follow the Racing Aces on Twitter @HorseRacingAces as well as on Facebook.  Good luck to all!

The Hialeah Sophomore Invitational features 10 runners who did not qualify for the Hialeah Derby in the trials earlier this month.

#3 Llano Cartel, who runs for top owner Wade Helton, missed by just a neck to Derby qualifier Dreamnwideopen in the trials as he gunned for a third straight win.

#6 Texelkas Chick finished just behind Llano Cartel in the trial heat and the filly has a big shot for the win if she improves off that race, which was her first outing since May.

#5 Scream N Eagle, third but beaten only a half-length in the Dreamnwide open race, was gaining late on the winner and gets top jockey G. R. Carter for this one.

John's Selections
: 3-6-5-4

2YO – 440 YARDS
The Hialeah El Niño Invitational drew a competitive field of 10 two-year-olds who did not qualify for the Hialeah Futurity in the trials on December 7.

#1 Shawnee Kid and #2 Full Blown Dynasty both won their trial heats but did not post times fast enough to make the championship heat.

#8 Max Cartel ran very well for trainer Judd Kearl in the trials, finishing a length behind Shawnee Kid, who won the trial in hand under jockey Omar Reyes.

#7 Winter Is Coming is one of three runners in the race for Brandon Muniz, the top trainer at Hialeah Park last season. The filly has been ultra-competitive in her 9 starts, and only a Fourth of July disqualification at Ruidoso Downs keeps her from being a perfect 100% in-the-money.

John's Selections
: 1-8-7-2

7TH RACE -- $200,000 (EST) HIALEAH DERBY 3YO – 440 YARDS
Analysis by guest handicapper, Rachel McLaughlin, the very popular Color Commentator/Marketing Specialist at Indiana Downs - Indiana Grand.  Bet she wishes she could be in sunny Miami to watch the Derby!

Joker on Jack qualified with a winner for this race & looks more than ready for this one. I liked the look of his win in the Refrigerator, nice times. This $325K lifetime winner has the highest earnings in the group & is going to be tough to beat.

Habits Secret: A horse I know well from its impressive work @InD. Looked like he had the QHRAI Derby but lost by the hair on his nose! Look for a big run here with Martinez- always showing up in these races. Concerning post.

I See Visions: 2nd to my top pick but shows great speed when given a little extra leg room. 4 of 6 in the money this year & looking good for this one. Was bumped last time; with the outside draw & no traffic trouble should finish in the money.

Dreaminwideopen: Something tell me not to leave out the 3yo filly. She runs with a lot of heart & I like to see "solid effort & rallied strongly" in her comments even without a win!

Rachel's Selections: 8-5-9-1

7TH RACE -- $200,000 (EST) HIALEAH DERBY 3YO – 440 YARDS
Eight out of the 10 runners in the Hialeah Derby have won over the track before and all of the horses have previous experience at the classic American Quarter Horse distance of 440 yards.

#6 Dash Master Jess was the talk of the trials after uncorking a spectacular victory under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo in his trial heat. He beat Scouts Diva and Hey List –also in the field– by 2 ½ lengths in a near-track record time of 21.355 for 440 yards. If he runs back to that race, he’s the one to beat!

#2 Panther Speed also posted an impressive trial victory, though not to the level of the Dash Master Jess performance. Trainer Donnie Strickland stays with jockey Tony Guymon, who has ridden the filly to her 2 most recent victories.

John's Selections
: 6-2-5-8

The $409,250 Hialeah Derby, which will be contested as an open race for the first time after the Hialeah Laddie and the Hialeah Lassie were combined, offers the richest purse in the four-plus years of Quarter Horse racing in South Florida.

Trainer Brandon Muniz appears to have a very strong hand with 3 trial heat winners in the race: #1 Quick Dynasty, #8 Jz Zoomin Cuervo, and #10 Big Time Jp.

Jz Zoomin Cuervo was the top qualifier for the race with a 21.357 clocking for 440 yards in his victory over Jz Fast Boy, Oldsmobile Hill, and Pappasinhehouse.

Quick Dynasty won his trial after breaking slowly but recovering for an easy win. With first call rider Jesse Levario staying on the fastest qualifier, G. R. Carter gets the riding assignment.

Big Time Jp shipped in from “the big track” Los Alamitos for the trials. Of all the Muniz runners, this one probably needed an out the most. Drawn outside, with Roman Chapa coming in for the assignment, he figures to be tough.

#2 Pyc First Prize Fany has 3 victories in 6 lifetime starts and the trackman had her “winning with authority” in her trial heat tally over Tmf Cash Cartel and Miss Southern DD, also in this race.

#7 Oldsmobile Hill was outfinished in his trial, but it was his first try since winning the rich Valley Junction Futurity in October at Prairie Meadows. #5 Jz Fast Boy ran competitively in the trial heat, which was his first career outing.

John's Selections
: 10-8-2-7

John’s Hialeah Selections – SUNDAY DECEMBER 29, 2013

Race 1: 7-1-6-5
Race 2: 6-3-7-5
Race 3: 3-6-5-4
Race 4: 9-5-7-10
Race 5: 1-8-7-2
Race 6: 4-8-10-7
Race 7: 6-2-5-8
Race 8: 10-8-2-7
Race 9: 5-10-9-2 

Racing Ace Denis Blake and special guest handicapper Jose Contreras preview The $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1).  Don't miss their insights on the final major race of the year for older horses. Should be a fantastic race!  Follow the Racing Aces on Twitter @HorseRacingAces and check out posts from Jose (@LosPonies).  

Sunland Park 10th Race: $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1), 3-yo & up, 400 yards

A terrific field of ten will go to the gate in search of the last GI event of the year for older quarter horses. The Championship at Sunland has seen some big performances over the years and this edition should be a great one. The majority of these classy runners are coming into this race after running in the Zia Park Championship (GI) or the Champion of Champions (GI).

Hez Our Secret was my longshot play in the Champion of Champions but he got away to a slow start and began drifting in after the break. He has hard to ride midway and jockey Ricky Ramirez had a tough time the entire way. He’s been a very consistent horse for Trey Wood and any of his two efforts before the Champion of Champions fits well against these.

Feature Mr Who has two wins, a second, and a third in four starts over this track including a powerful Grade 2 win in the Challenge back in April. He has a good workout leading up to this and has won from this post before. His regular rider (Esgar Ramirez) is up.

Prospect To The Top finished a troubled seventh as the favorite in the Zia Park Championship after bumping at the start. He’s won 5 of his last 7 starts including the 2012 editions of both the Championship at Sunland and the Zia Park Championship. Cross a line through his last race and his form looks great.

Cold Cash 123 cannot be ignored. He’s the type of horse that always has a run late but his gate speed is his biggest dilemma. He’s drawn between a couple of good gate breakers but if he gets away with them, he will have a good shot of running them down late. Champion Jockey G.R. Carter gets the call today.

Jose's Selections: (#3) Hez Our Secret, (#1) Feature Mr Who, (#6) Prospect To The Top, (#4) Cold Cash 123.

Denis Blake's Analysis:

The last major American Quarter Horse race of 2013 brings together some of the top older horses in training for The Championship at Sunland Park. Defending race champion Prospect To The Top will take on nine foes, including former world champion Cold Cash 123.

Jess Cuervo finished behind several of these horses last time out but was right with Prospect To The Top and Feature Mr Bojangles prior to that. He’s run well at Sunland Park and at 440 yards, and he should go off at a nice price here.

Prospect To The Top got bumped at the start last time out but if you watch the replay at qracingvideo.com you’ll see that he had a clear lane after that and didn’t really fire. Even so, he has 12 wins in 25 starts, an excellent record at 440 yards and he won this race last year.

Feature Mr Bojangles has not won a race since May 2012 but has been close several times since then and has a great record of 7-5-1-1 at 440 yards. He gets a new rider in Cody Jensen today.

Cold Cash 123 won this race in 2011 to wrap up world champion honors that year. He hasn’t been as dominant this year with a record of 7-1-1-2 but he still has the talent and class to win this with his best effort.

Denis' Selections: (#9) Jess Cuervo, (#6) Prospect To The Top, (#10) Feature Mr Bojangles, (#4) Cold Cash 123 

The Racing Aces is a fan education program initiated by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) which began in June 2010. The Racing Aces are individuals who have been involved in American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing as handicappers, racing writers and publicists. The major goals of the Racing Aces program are to promote the sport, provide fan education services and help to develop new fan bases.

Helpful Racing Websites:

Daily Racing Form                   


The Paulick Report                 

Quarter Horse:

American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) 


For more information on live racing, handicapping or future Q-Racing Ace appearances, visit the American Quarter Horse Association website or follow us on Twitter: @HorseRacingAces