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Feb 12, 2010


By: John Piesen


Monmouth Park is merely just another simulcasting facility during these frigid winter days in the northeast, but two of  the Jersey racetrack's most popular and successful horsemen -- a jockey and a trainer -- are making news this racing weekend.

The jockey: Chuck Lopez. The trainer: Alan Seewald.

Here's the deal with Lopez...

Chuckie currently is enjoying his traditionally successful Aqueduct winter meet. Entering Friday, he stood fifth in the jockey standings with a 21-32-15 record from 145 rides.

Good but not great.

But let's take a look at Saturday:

Ramon Dominguez, the Big A top dog as usual with 63 winners, will be at Gulfstream, and David Cohen and Rosie Napravnik, second and fourth, respectively, in the standings, will be missing in action.

And why is that?

Both were named on major players in two Laurel stakes -- the Barbara Fritchie and John Campbell -- on Saturday. But, when Laurel management decided to postpone those two stakes to Monday, that left The Lady and The Cowboy out in the cold.

As a result, Lopez -- thanks to agent Joe Rosen -- is sitting on the proverbial gold mine Saturday at the Big A. He rides all 10 races, and nine of the 10 will be no worse than second choice.

In fact, Chuckie will ride the favorites in all four legs of the $250,000 guaranteed Late Pick Four.

"I told my jock,"Rosen was saying Friday, "..that he'll win all 10, and set a world record. That really got him pumped.

"Seriously, I think he can win nine. He's riding the right horses for the right people, and I can't find a chink in any of  them."

You've heard about the Derby Top Ten.

Herewith, Chuckie's Top Ten:

Race One:      


Frame of Reference       


Race Two:      


Saints Alive                   


Race Three:   




Race Five:     


Hittin the Note              


Race Six:    


Yo Karakorum            


Race Seven: 


St. Augustine               


Race Eight:  


Empty Wallet            


Race Nine:  




Race Ten:   


Conseated Lady            


Play 'em. Parlay 'em. Who knows? But you better not leave 'em out.

This brings us to Alan Seewald.

During a 30-year training career, mostly on the Jersey-Florida circuit, Seewald has had some nice horses, notably Teddy Drone, a multiple-stakes
winner in the mid '90s.

But the one-time standardbred trainer hit the jackpot this year with a 3-year-old named Uptowncharlybrown.

Charly, owned by Fantasy Lane Stable, a consortium of 40 small-time Jersey guys and dolls, won his first two starts at Tampa Bay Downs by a combined 15 lengths. He faces the acid test Saturday at Tampa when he steps up in class and distance in the $225,000, Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, a race
that Seewald hopes to use as the first step on the Road to the Triple Crown. "It's important that Charly runs well, and gets a lot out of this race,"Seewald told DRF. "If he happens to win, all the better."

Charly will be second choice under Jose Lezcano in the 1-1/16-mile race to (what else?) a Todd Pletcher-trained horse.

That would be Rule, who, last time out, merely wired the field in the $750,000 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs. The $450,000 winner's share qualifies Rule for a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Charly, on the other hand, has zero graded-stakes money.

Rule, who will be odds-on under jockey Velazquez, no doubt will break running from the one-hole and take no end of catching, but it will be fun to see Charly try.

The Sam Davis will be one of three major races this weekend for Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

Bob Baffert will run the favorite in the other two -- Tiz Chrome in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis on Saturday at Santa Anita, and Conveyance in the $250,000 Southwest on Monday at Oaklawn Park, both with jockey Gomez up.

The second choice to Conveyance will be Dryfly, the Smarty Jones Stakes winner owned by Oaklawn president Charles Cella, and trained by Lynn Whiting, a Kentucky Derby winner with Lil E Tee.

Calvin Borel, the rider of two of the last three Derby winners, has the return call on Dryfly. Of course, Calvin is the regular rider for Super Saver, a serious Derby prospect from The Toddster, so somewhere down the line, he presumably will have to make a choice.

More likely, the horses will make the choice for him.

And, speaking of Oaklawn Park...

As we all know, the Zenyatta--Rachel Alexandra is back on, thanks to Oaklawn's decision to set the $5 million Apple Blossom Invitation back a week from April 3 to April 9.

Obviously, Mr. Cella was spurred to do after reading the following in the Tuesday column on this venue:

"I'm thinking it would not be a bad idea to postpone the Apple Blossom Invitational a week from its scheduled April 3.

"After all, that would give Zenyatta and Rachel more time to prepare, and it would mean not competing for media attention with the Masters, the Final Four, and the opening of the baseball season (Go Buccos!). And it is Easter weekend.

"Hey, it's only a suggestion."

Obviously, I'm delighted that my suggestion was taken.

One piece of bad news did come over the wire on Friday morning:

The Animal Planet people decided to drop "Jockeys"after two seasons.

Tiz a shame, because the series, despite its flaws, was truly a terrific piece of television, certainly the best racing show ever on the tube.

I guess we should have known it was too good to be true.

And, worst of all, we may never know about Mike and Chantal.

Finally, I wish the standardbred people would stop using the names of top-line thoroughbreds. The latest example is Terlingua, who won the $12,500 feature on Thursday evening at The Meadowlands.

A reminder that I have a great 3-day President's Day weekend ready to make you plenty of money. Click here for all the details on this Powerful 3-day racing score, that includes Saturday's and Monday's Derby Prep races.

You can also call my John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283) and we'll see you back here Tuesday for a review of the racing weekend.

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