Author Archive

Jun 8 2018

Triple Crown Dreams 2018 (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this article we showed a chart of the “disappointed dozen” horses who have failed to win the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes since 1978. Included in that article was a more detailed account of the first six of these Triple Crown candidates. In Part 2 we describe the attempts of the remaining six, and offer a comparison of all twelve with this year’s candidate, Justify. We also contrast the Belmont Stakes spoilers from year’s past with the field from the 2018 Belmont Stakes.


Jun 7 2018

Triple Crown Dreams 2018

Since 1978, when Affirmed won the Triple Crown, there have been 14 horses in a position to win the Triple Crown after they won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. One managed to win, American Pharoah, in 2015.  The other thirteen did not.

From this point forward, we are going to give a pass to one of these 13 horses, I’ll Have Another, who was scratched from the 2012 Belmont Stakes.  How did the remaining twelve fair in the Belmont Stakes.  Their record: ZERO wins, 4 seconds, 4 thirds … and 4 off the board.  Given the fact all twelve were post-time favorites and their average win odds was 4-5, that’s not so good.  It’s a pretty safe bet that Justify will be somewhere around that 4-5 mark when they load the gate on June 9.  Will he suffer the same fate of these dozen horses … highly regarded, heavily bet, and considered by many in the crowd to be destined for greatness?

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the disappointed dozen and see if we can find any common threads in their dashed dreams.  Later we’ll compare these past Triple Crown candidates with our present day candidate Justify.  Then you can decide for yourself whether or not he’s destined for greatness.


Jun 5 2018

The ABC’s of Surviving Belmont Stakes Day – Wagering Strategies

I chose the term “surviving” with intent.  Whether Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby, Travers Stakes, or Breeders’ Cup Day … all of these “event days” have one thing in common – they are marathons with a dozen races or more that start in the morning and end past suppertime.  Even for the most experienced horseplayers, event  days test your endurance in ways that an ordinary day at the track does not.

On more than one occasion, I have found myself completely “out of gas” before the main event even took place.  For this reason, I have been refining an approach that is intended to help me (and you) make it through these days intact.  First, let me say, some of the strategies I am going to suggest are ones I would not necessarily use on normal race days.  The reason for this is simple, the challenges you face on “event” days are formidable and they require adaptations that will help you deal with them.  Among the many challenges are the following: Read More >>

May 3 2018

Kentucky Oaks Trends 2018

In the last article, Kentucky Derby Trends 2018, a reader commented:

“Great article Neal! Wonder how this translates to the Oaks race?”

That’s a good question I thought.  In this article I will try to answer that question.  Although the fillies run only 9 furlongs in the Oaks, compared to the colts going 10 furlongs in the Derby, the question of the stretch run in Prep races remains the same since horses are coming from racetracks that have a stretch run much shorter than Churchill Downs.  The results suggest stretch length might be a bigger factor in the Oaks than in the Derby.  Keep reading …


Apr 30 2018

Kentucky Derby Trends 2018

This article includes some trends about recent Kentucky Derby winners and other horses that have finished in the money for the Derby.  Part of this discussion has to include the special challenge of distance for Derby contestants and related to that, the added challenge of horses facing a stretch run that is quite long at Churchill Downs.

As most people are aware, the Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 mile (10 furlongs) long.  A distance that no horse in the field has ever run prior to the Derby.  That alone is challenge enough.  In addition to that, many of the horses are coming from racetracks that have a stretch run considerably shorter than at Churchill Downs.  The diagrams below shows the stretch runs for Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park.  The length of the stretch runs are shown in feet beneath the blue arrows.

Feb 25 2018

Left At The Starting Gate

Ok, so that didn’t go exactly as planned.  If I were a racehorse, I think I’d have been declared a non-starter!  My intention a few months ago was to make a return off a long layoff.  What I didn’t know at the time was my biggest obstacle to recovery was lurking around the next corner.  In later September I went into a tailspin that nearly resulted in a crash landing.  It wasn’t until December that I was able to pull out of my dive and right the plane.

So once again I push myself up from the ground, spit out the dirt, and try again.  However, this time I’ve decided to hold off on horse racing and focus on my mental and physical recovery.  On the physical side, I’ve made tremendous strides in the past two months and for the first time in a very long time I’m able to walk, exercise, and rebuild my strength.  It’s a slow process since so many muscles and joints were inactive for a very long time, but progress is being made.

On the mental side, let’s just say that I’ve had to draw on every bit of courage I could muster to survive this ordeal.  But with the undying support of family, friends, and some special caregivers, I’m finally hopeful that I will survive this ordeal.

And, on the subject of courage, I have created a new website ( called Daring Ways (Living with Courage).  The content of this website will be based on a lifetime of experience with an emphasis on personal anecdotes and messages that I hope will inspire readers to adopt a daring lifestyle of their own.  It is here that I will devote my attention in the upcoming months while continuing my recovery.  If all goes well, then I hope to resume authoring material on this website later this year.

In the meantime, I invite you to visit the new website and subscribe to my blog via e-mail.  There are a couple of essays already posted for your reading pleasure.


Neal Headshot2
Neal Benoit

Aug 29 2017

NYRA NOW App Review

In a recent article, I said there is no comparison between experiencing horseracing live at the track and watching it on television. With that said, there are times that we simply can’t make it to the racetrack. For these times, you should be aware of an App called NYRA NOW which is available on multiple platforms in HD format. The two platforms I will discuss in this article are the iPad and Roku.  The screenshots shown below will be from the iPad at the current Saratoga meet.

The NYRA NOW App shows only NY racing (Belmont, Saratoga, Aqueduct) and you must have a NY BETS account to access the app.  Click here for more information from NYRA about the App, including platforms supported.

The following are the main features offered by the NYRA NOW App:


Aug 18 2017

Heading to Saratoga: Where to Eat and Drink 2017

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Part 1 of this series gave some tips on things to think about when selecting a location to stay in Saratoga. Click here to read that article.

Part 2 of this series offered some “Must See and Do’s” while you are visiting the Saratoga Springs area. Click here to read that article.

So now that you have found a place to stay, and have outlined a plan of things to see while traveling around Saratoga, where will you enjoy a meal with family or friends? In full disclosure, my husband and I do not have children, so if it’s family friendly places you are interested in, we can’t be of much help, except to acknowledge restaurants that appeared to have a lot of families in them. In addition, I am only offering commentary about restaurants or bars or lounges in which we have enjoyed a cocktail or eaten a meal. Reports from other friends about their experiences are not included. Finally, we usually rent a place within walking distance of downtown, so there are few restaurants that require a drive out of town.


Jul 31 2017

Inspirational Lady Eli

Lady Eli Diana Stakes 2017

Lady Eli’s recent win in the grade one Diana Stakes was exhilarating. Her career record of nine wins in 12 starts and three second-place finishes is incredible. Her return to racing in August of last year after a 14 month layoff is amazing. But, what happened during that 420 day layoff is truly inspirational.

Before we go there, let’s turn back the clock a little bit. In August 2014 I was at Saratoga when Lady Eli made her winning debut in a maiden race. She followed that with a win in a stakes race at Belmont in September. I was so impressed by these two races that I later featured her in an article about visual handicapping just before the Breeders’ Cup. A video replay of the stakes race is in that article, and I described her maiden win at Saratoga as follows: “she was buried behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch, bounced around quite a bit as she tried to get through, altered course, and finished with a burst to win by a nose. It was the kind of effort that really gets your attention.” I went on to say, “her first race showed an ability to overcome obstacles and her second race suggests there is a ton of upside for this promising filly.” She went on to win the Breeders’ Cup and her next three races after that.


Jul 20 2017

Returning From My Long Layoff

After nearly 2 years away from my website, I am attempting a return from this extended layoff. At this time I prefer not to go into details about why I have been away so long. It’s not a very easy story to tell, and even more unpleasant to listen to. Suffice it to say it was a combination of successive medical problems that made it impossible for me to continue posting articles. The good news is that I have been improving recently. However, with that said, I still have some obstacles to overcome before I return to full health.

It was suggested by one of my doctors that I make an attempt to resume doing something that I am passionate about as I continue on this recovery process. If you followed my website in the past you know there are few things I am more passionate about than thoroughbred horse racing. It is hard for me to make any promises about the frequency of my new articles nor the content. I do make this promise, I will try to stay focused on horse racing, with the understanding that I am not the same person I was when I stopped writing two years ago. I ask you, the readers, to have patience with me … as I try to regain my racing form.