North Dakota Horse Park Opening Day

Expert handicapper Matthew Pappis gives you his winning picks 


Matt and I at Saratoga last summer

If you plan on betting the races on opening day at the North Dakota Horse Park, you won’t want to go without this advice from my friend and handicapper extraordinaire, Matthew Pappis. Matt grew up going to the racetrack with his family. I met him last summer at Saratoga (his favorite place on planet Earth), and never fail to be impressed with his knowledge of the racing industry and keen ability to make money at the track. In fact, he’s so good at handicapping that he paid off his student loans by betting the races! 

Here are his top three picks for each race on opening day:

Race 1

Cos I Can (7): Coming off an impressive win in his last race and keeps Ziegler aboard even though he rode First Heart Break in each of her 4 races.

First Heartbreak (6): On paper this looks like the one to beat with superior speed figures however the horse does not like to win. Ziegler takes the call on our top selection. 

Denim Dust (1): Has been beaten by 1 1/2 or less lengths in each of three career starts with improving numbers. This one could fill out your exotics.

Race 2

Whiskey Memories (7): Comes in off back to back dominating efforts and is much the one to beat. 

Lots of Lajolla (1): The only other runner in this race with win under his belt and has improved in each of his two career starts. 

Miss Rablin Moon (5): Has run consistent numbers in each of three career starts but has yet to break through for the victory. Today could be the day with another step forward.

Race 3 

Jennas Easy Eagle (6): This isn’t exactly a field filled with winners but this one is usually around the wire and has hit the board in 8 of 12 career races. He should be able to show his class over a field of consistent losers.

Bet Me Im Back (3):  Is another that is constantly around at the wire, hitting the board in 7 of 10 career starts. Could today be the day for a break through performance?

Jumpn the Moon (8): Since coming off the layoff at the end of May he has been in much better form and seems to have found new life.

Race 4 

E Z Entry (7): The class of the field and should find the drop in class much to his liking. 

Ramboldi (8): On paper his numbers fit with this group and I am a sucker for cutbacks. 

Billsbyjimminy (5): Goes second time vs winners and should be improved from his last. 

Race 5

Leecha Boy (2):  Toss his last vs better company and he is the one to beat off his race two back. This race does not have one horse with a win under her belt yet.

Passing Miner (3): Has been aggressively placed in her short career, it seems as though the connections are high on her. Maybe today is the day she breaks through with a good effort.

Allfourvegas (5): Has shown nothing in two career starts vs a better class. This is a field more to her ability and she will look to break her maiden vs a soft group.

Race 6

Teasing Bernie (4): Has had a solid 2016 so far and comes into this race in great form. He should enjoy getting an easy lead and put them all away when they turn for home.

Cloud Crossing (7): He is another who comes into the race in good form and has numbers that tower over this field. I am viewing this one as a match race.

Missta H W (5): He always seems to grab a piece of the pie but does not like to cross the wire in front. I would keep him around for your exotics.

Race 7

Run Stormy Run (9): Any of his past three races win this race right back. He is the one to beat by a wide margin.

Mr.Koky (3): If you toss the last he has been in top form and should be around at the wire.

I’m the Gold (4): Has been a very consistent runner over his career but has not fired yet in 2016. We are looking for a rebound performance in this spot.

Race 8

Gold Surge (8): Has been pointed to this spot off the layoff and will be making his 3rd start in 3 years, but if he’s ready he looks like the one to beat.

Clear to Canada (7): Another long layoff horse who likes to be around at the wire, he has slipped into the trifecta in 3 of his last 4 starts.

Wildwood Aragorn (4): Has run some numbers in the past that make him competitive at this level but he will have to recapture his old form to beat the top two selections.

You can read more of Matt’s handicapping and racing analysis pieces by clicking here. He’s a man of many talents, as he writes for and is also helping to plan the first annual Taste of Travers Celebration, held on August 26th in Saratoga Springs, NY.  

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