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2016 northern dancer turf stakes preview entries and odds

The Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes comes our way this Saturday, September 17 from Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario. Horses three years old and upward will take to Woodbine's turf track and race 1 1/2 miles searching for the winner's share of the $300,000 purse.

Eight older turfers will give it a go in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes - race 10 on Woodbine's stacked Saturday schedule. Post time is 5:31 PM. Let's take a look into the past performances of all eight entries for this intriguing Grade 1 stakes.

2016 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes Race Preview at Woodbine Racetrack

World Approval 2-1 - Mark Casse trained gelding has six wins, two seconds and three third place finishes in 16 career starts. He put his name on the radar with a win in July, 2015 in the Grade 3 American Derby and has been decent since. Last time out was a bit of a step back however - a seventh in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions August 13. Before that was a good win in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park July 3, an OK third behind the terrific Flintshire in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park June 11, a second behind Divisidero in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic May 7, another second in the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds in March and an Allowance Optional Claiming score three weeks before that. He also won the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes last year. World Approval has been competitive virtually every time out but will be chasing a strong bounce back from an uncharacteristic effort. Julien Leparoux will be in the reins of the morning line favorite from gate 6.

Wake Forest 5-2 - German bred Chad Brown Group 3 winner at home has seven wins, a second and two third place finishes in 15 career starts. He made his North American debut last August and finished sixth in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions and was forced to the sidelines for eight months. He returned April 2 and posted a respectable second, a head behind Kaigun in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream and followed that with a terrific win at this distance in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park May 14. He followed that with an OK third in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park July 3 and an uber-disappointing tenth in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions last time out August 13. Before shipping he posted a win in a Group 1 race in Hamburg. Wake Forest has been up-and-down and will be out to avenge a career-worst effort from gate 4 Saturday. Irad Ortiz has the mount on the second betting choice.

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Big Blue Kitten 4-1 - four-time Grade 1 winner and last year's champion turf male enters this week off a sixth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park June 11, a fifth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs May 7 and an OK third in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Before that he finished no worse than second in seven starts with three wins over that span including a win in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park September 26, a second in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions, a win in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes in July and a second in behind Slumber the 2015 Manhattan Stakes last June. Big Blue Kitten now has 32 career starts with 14 wins, eight seconds and five third place finishes hopes to regain his incredible 2015 form. Joe Bravo has been tabbed to snap a streak of consecutive off-the-board finishes from gate 2.

Danish Dynaformer 6-1 - Roger Attfield trained colt has five wins, a second and a third place finish in 15 career starts. He won the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes on this track in July - the only time he's placed in his last six starts overall. Results over that span include a fifth last time out in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions, a sixth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Classic in May, a seventh in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International last October and a sixth in last year's edition of this race. Outside of one start (two back) Danish Dynaformer has been underwhelming to say the least. He tries to channel his Singspiel form from the outside gate 8 Saturday with Patrick Husbands guiding him.

The Pizza Man 8-1 - Roger Brueggemann trained gelding was terrific in the summer of 2015 - wins in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes in July and the Grade 1 Arlington Millions in August were followed by a second in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in October. He also won the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in November of last year. The Pizza Man has largely struggled in four starts this year - a sixth last time out in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions followed a fourth in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes in July, another fourth in the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes in June and a fifth in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February. He has shown serious form in the past, has 16 wins and two seconds and two third place finishes in 30 career starts but hasn't been impressive lately. Flavien Prat will try to change all of that from post 7 Saturday.

Button Down 15-1 - defending runner-up in this race - Josie Carroll trained mare has three wins and seven seconds in 18 career starts and has three wins and three seconds in her last 10 starts overall. Last time out was a fourth in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes here August 21 which followed a second behind Up With the Birds in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes here July 24 and two more off-the-board finishes - an eighth in the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland April 29 and a fifth in the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay March 12. Before that were a career-best win in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs November 21 and another fifth in the Grade 1 EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in October. Button Down was good at this time last year but has failed to place in five of her last six. She hopes to turn things around Saturday with Gary Boulanger guiding her from the rail.

Majeed 15-1 - British bred David Simcock trained gelding has six wins, a second and four third place finishes in 18 career starts. He makes his North American debut Saturday in decent form - a second last time out in the minor Sri Lanka August Stakes followed a third in the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes in July and a Handicap score - at three different tracks in Britain. He has been good and hopes his success overseas translates Saturday. Jamie Spencer gets the call from post 3.

Camp Creek 20-1 - lightly raced Rachel Halden trained gelding has two wins and a third place finish in five career starts. He makes his graded stakes debut on a nice two race win streak - the minor Breeders' Stakes last time out on this track August 21 and a maiden score here July 15. Camp Creek has improved every time out and will be out to make some noise from post 5 Saturday. Rafael Manuel Hernandez is scheduled to ride.

Super bowl li an awesome offensive tussle awaits us in the big one

New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons

Start-time: Sunday 5 January, 23:30 GMT

TV: Live on BBC & Sky Sports


This isn't a David v Goliath battle but representing the AFC are a team with a QB/Head Coach combo who have won four Super Bowls in Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck. They've also been to two more only to lose to two incredible plays. They could easily have won six times this century.

Over on the other sideline we have the pre-season 80/1 shot Atlanta Falcons. They've relied on one of the most dynamic offenses we've seen in the modern era. Quarterback Matt Ryan has shrugged off that 'good but nothing special' tag that he's had around his neck for most of his NFL career. With a 38:7 TD/Int ratio this season and throwing for seven scores with no picks in the playoffs, he's as hot as they come.

So we have two very different teams, one who has pretty much shocked the NFL watching world with their season and the Patriots, who were the favourite going into the season and have never relinquished that mantle.

The Falcons have the best wide receiver in football in my eyes in Julio Jones. I know there are those who'll say Antonio Brown or OBJ should be regarded as the best but I've long been a Jones fan. He reminds me of Larry Fitzgerald in his heyday, a receiver who can line up in any position and can run any route. There is nothing this guy doesn't have. He will be singled out by the Pats D of course.

Speaking of the Pats D, they were the #1 in terms of scoring defense this season. They gave up an average of just 15.6 pts/game. This is amazing when you consider how many members of that D you can name without looking it up. I like to think I watch a lot of NFL but I can name only three off hand, Malcolm Butler, Ron Ninkovich and Dont'a Hightower. Looking at their roster a few more names ring a bell but essentially they are a bunch of well-coached, less-than-star-names who all do their job. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is the most underrated coach in the game.

On offense the Patriots have Tom Brady and we all know he's quite simply the greatest of all time (and I say this as a Peyton Manning man). Brady, like Manning, is a surgeon and has the ability to identify the defense and calculate the numbers in a split second. You can only beat Brady by constantly getting to him with just four rushers. If you bring a fifth man then the numbers are steeply in his favour.

One player Brady doesn't have though is Rob Gronkowski. Earlier I said Julio Jones was the best wide receiver in the league, well the Gronk is the most important offensive skill player in the game. If he was fit and available I think the Pats will roll to a relatively easy win. Without him I have had to think about it a bit more.

Not having him is a huge blow but one thing they do have is a great coach, who will identify a team's weakness and put together a new offensive scheme week in, week out. With the likes of Hogan, Mitchell, Edelman, Floyd and Amendola. Someone will get open constantly and make plays because that is just how the Pats roll.

The long and short of it is the Falcons have a tandem of running backs who can wear you down. They have a QB who is in the form of his life. They have the best offensive skill player who'll suit up on Sunday. They also have a defense that were able to rock Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game.

New England have Brady, they have Belichick, they have the historical background of knowing how to be in and win big games.

The question is, do you trust the hot team or what is historically the best team...?

First Touchdown Scorer

Last time out in the AFC Championship Game, Chris Hogan came through for me in this market. This week though I'm going to go for the tried and trusted Julian Edelman. He has become Brady's comfort blanket and I see a huge night for him. He's 10/1 to snaffle the first TD of Super Bowl LI. He's also priced up at 20/1 to get the MVP.

For the Falcons I think the Pats take away Julio Jones so go with Mohamed Sanu at 16/1 to get that first score.


I was going over all the way and didn't really care what the line was. Then I saw the line has been set at 58pts and I took a step back. That is very high but when you think about it, it makes sense. The Falcons have only failed to get to 24 points once this season and are firing on all cylinders at the moment. I also think the Pats are going to want to come out and not just win this game, but make a point. Deflategate is still an issue in their minds and Brady wants to rub commissioner Roger Goddell's face in it. I'm going with the over despite the almighty high line.

The Spread & Straight-up Pick

Here we go. The big pick. It has been an iffy year for me tips wise overall, but the record when picking games has actually been pretty good. It has been the side bets that have been the killer in a torrid spell in the middle of the season.

The problem I have is my brain doesn't just look at what is in front of me. If I look at these two teams in isolation then I think the outsider Falcons complete their stunning season by lifting the Lombardi Trophy. I think they have the game to give the Patriots all sorts of fits. Yet here is my conundrum, I know what these Patriots have done before and going against them has long been a foolish play.

Do I trust Matt Ryan to win the big game? No I don't. Do I trust Dan Quinn? No, not yet. Do I trust Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? Oh my word yes. History influences us and one more time I have to go with the tried and trusted combination. Not only do I think they win, I think they beat down the Falcons in one of the most decisive and statement Super Bowl wins in history. I like the Pats...big.

Recommended Bets

5pt Back New England to win -3pts points at Evens on the Sportsbook

3pt Back New England to win by 14points+ at 9/2 on the Sportsbook

3pt Back Tom Brady to be Super Bowl LI MVP at 10/11 on the Sportsbook

3pt Back over 306.5 passing yards for Tom Brady at 5/6 on the Sportsbook

3pt Back over 7.5 receptions for Julian Edelman at 5/6 on the Sportsbook

3pt Back over 48.5 receiving yards for Mohamed Sanu at 5/6 on the Sportsbook

1pt Back Mohamed Sanu to score the first TD at 16/1 on the Sportsbook

1pt Back Julian Edelman to score the first TD at 10/1 on the Sportsbook