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Royal Mo romps to win in Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Royal Mo won the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 3+ lengths Saturday at Santa Anita, giving owners Jerry and Ann Moss a second contender for the Kentucky Derby.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Royal Mo ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.48. The 3-year-old colt trained by John Shirreffs earned 10 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse field.

The Mosses’ other 3-year-old, Gormley, won the Sham Stakes by a head last month at Santa Anita. The couple won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 Giacomo, tied for the second-longest shot to win the race.

“We haven’t had two horses in this position in a long time and it’s fun,” said Jerry Moss, co-founder of A&M Records. “We don’t really see anyone else coming up that scares us.”

Royal Mo paid $5, $3.40 and $2.20. The colt’s sire is Uncle Mo, who was undefeated as a 2-year-old but got knocked out of the 2011 Kentucky Derby because of illness.

Irap returned $4.20 and $2.60 while 7-5 favorite Sheer Flattery was another neck back in third and paid $2.20 to show in the Grade 3 race.

“Royal Mo just ran lights out,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains Irap, fourth-place Term of Art and last-place Dangerfield. “When you give a horse like Royal Mo an uncontested lead, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Breaking from the rail in the field of five, Espinoza took Royal Mo to the early lead. Irap pulled even with Royal Mo heading into the stretch turn, but soon fell back.

“He’s such a big, heavy horse,” Espinoza said. “He doesn’t have that quickness for the first couple of strides. As soon as he gets into a rhythm though, he’ll keep going.”

Royal Mo ran second in his first two starts and then won by 1\ lengths at Del Mar on Nov. 27. The Mosses purchased the colt for $300,000 at auction.

“He’s improving a lot,” Espinoza said. “From the last few races to this race, he’s really coming along. He’s going in the right direction. Hopefully, we keep going all the way.”

Moss said he wants to separate Royal Mo and Gormley, who is being pointed toward the San Felipe Stakes on March 11 at Santa Anita.

“I like Arkansas and it’s been great for us,” said Moss, whose superstar mare Zenyatta won at Oaklawn Park. “We’ll take one of them back there.”

Sheer Flattery was floated four-wide into the first turn, moved up inside leaving the second turn and just missed finishing second.

In the $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes, 3-5 favorite St. Joe Bay won by 2\ lengths under Kent Desormeaux.

The 5-year-old gelding ran six furlongs in 1:08.75 and paid $3.40 to win in the Grade 2 race.

Moe Candy was second and Ike Walker took third.

Predators favored against Penguins on betting lines for Game 4

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have an excellent track record as a bounce-back team, but they are giving off some distressing signals against the Nashville Predators going into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Predators are a -155 moneyline favorite against the +135 underdog Penguins with a 5.5-goal total for Monday’s matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Predators are 9-1 in their last 10 home playoff games, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. Nashville is 11-4 in its last 15 home games as a favorite of -140 to -500 on the moneyline.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. The home team has won each of the clubs’ last six meetings.

The Penguins are 13-2 in playoff games after a loss under coach Mike Sullivan and are also 6-4 in in their last 10 playoff games as an underdog on the road. However, star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were each held without a shot on goal during Game 3, a first in their time playing together.

Pittsburgh has also counted on its power play throughout much of its playoff run, but it is only 1-for-13 with the extra skater so far against Nashville. Crosby has yet to score in the series.

Health-wise, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan might have to shuffle his forward lines if center Nick Bonino (left foot) is unable to play. Bonino is listed as doubtful, although he practiced on Sunday. Pittsburgh also needs to create more opportunities for Phil Kessel. While Jake Guentzel has a series-high four goals, those have come on only six shots on goal (hardly a sustainable shooting percentage).

Nashville, which is 13-6 in the playoffs, has been the better team in even-strength play during the course of the series. The Predators are often able to control the tempo of a game due to the defensive foursome of P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, who all have at least 10 points during the playoffs.

While some puck luck played into the 5-1 score during the Predators’ first win against Pittsburgh on Saturday, other key elements included staying out of the penalty box as well as getting an injection of speed from the creation of a line of Frederick Gaudreau, Harry Zolnierczyk and P.A. Parenteau.

Goalie Pekka Rinne (27 saves on 28 shots) also regained his usual form. If that continues, Nashville should have an excellent chance of taking another win at home and reducing the series to a best-of-three.

The total has gone over in seven of Nashville’s last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams. The total has gone over in 11 of Nashville’s last 16 home games (playoffs and regular season) when it was a favorite of -150 to -500 on the moneyline.

Predators take 2-1 lead into Game 4 vs. Ducks as clear betting favorites

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As great as their record at home in the playoffs is, the Nashville Predators also consistently take care of business when installed as a big favorite, be it home or away.

The Predators are -140 betting favorites against the +120 underdog Anaheim Ducks with a five-goal total in their Game 4 matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Nashville is 10-0 straight-up in its last 10 home playoff games and the OddsShark NHL Database also reveals that the team is 12-3 in their last 15 games as favorite of -135 to -500 on the moneyline. Eight of the last nine games within that sample have gone under. Nashville is also 5-2 SU in its last seven home games against Anaheim, including a win on Tuesday that gave it a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.

Anaheim, who is 13-7 overall in its last 20 games, faces a virtual must-win situation. The Ducks will need to do a better job screening and obscuring the sight lines of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne than they did during Game 3. The trend in the series has been that Anaheim, whose forward corps is led by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg, has been getting fewer shots on goal and fewer shot attempts than Nashville. Perry scored in Game 3, but had only two total shots.

John Gibson will start in goal for Anaheim, which will be missing Kevin Bieksa, Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw due to injuries.

Nashville, which is 12-8 overall in its last 20 games, might well be the smart-money choice to win the Stanley Cup even though they had the fewest points in the regular season of any playoff team.

The Predators have a deep cadre of offensively astute defensemen in Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban. During Game 3 on Tuesday, the Predators’ defensemen took more shots on goal (21) than the entire Ducks team. Filip Forsberg has scored in all three games of the series and has a total of 13 shots on goal.

While the Predators seem to have all the momentum, Anaheim has lost back-to-back games only twice within its last 30 games overall.

The total has gone over in five of Anaheim’s last seven games on the road heading into the Game 4 matchup on Thursday. The total has gone under in nine of Nashville’s last 12 home games, with two pushes. Overall, the team scoring the first goal is 48-25 during the playoffs this year.