Betting on the CFL is a lot like the league itself: the

The Mani Ratnam Rabbit hole Part 6(a) - Raavan(an)(2010)/ Thalapathi (1991) - The Epic Adaptations - The Antagonist Perspective

𝟭. 𝗥𝗮𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗻/𝗥𝗮𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗻(𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟬)
If you retell a story - you write it, tell it, or present it again, often in a different way from its original form. A new account or an adaptation of a story: it could be a retelling of a Roman legend, Greek legend or in this case an Indian legend. Sometimes, in the retelling, something new emerges, something that previously everybody has overlooked.
The essence of Indian mythology is obviously beyond the simple good vs evil trope. If you care to dig deep, there's an interesting story at every step.
We learn our first lessons of right and wrong from epics and it forms the base of our character for the rest of our lives. However, as we grow up, the complexities of the epics we grew up reading and listening to attract our attention.
As grown ups, we realize that it’s hard to departmentalize the aspects of life into boxes of white and black. We look at the epics in a new light and this time, with a little less judgement. One such character of the Indian epic, Ramayana, was that of Raavan, a person whose finer sides had always been less known.
Ravan played his role as a villain, but it was that of a much-needed villain, that brought balance to the equation. There are many people in the world, who still worship him. Thai, Lankan, Buddhist, Indian & several other Asian texts have different versions of Raavan's story.
As legend goes, Ravan was one of the most learned scholars to have ever lived. He had a keen interest in music and was a highly accomplished veena player.
The story goes that after shooting the fatal arrow on the battlefield of Lanka, Ram told his brother, Lakshman, “Go to Ravana quickly before he dies & request him to share whatever knowledge he can. A brute he may be, but he is also a great scholar”. Lakshman sat beside the dying demon-king and learnt from him important lessons in statecraft and diplomacy.
Keeping in theme, Mani Ratnam does it again, presenting anti-establishment narratives through retelling of epics.
(𝘎𝘰 𝘵𝘰 𝘍𝘪𝘭𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘞𝘪𝘬𝘪𝘱𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘢 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 2 𝘧𝘪𝘭𝘮𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘹𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦)
Abhishek as Beera/Vikram as Veeraiya 'Veera' meaning Brave, a gangster in a rural area. He is nicknamed 'Ravan' since he is seen as a hero by locals but as a villain by outsiders.
Govinda as Sanjeevani KumaKarthik as Gnanaprakasam, A forest ranger who has worked in the jungle for 25 years and he helps Dev find Veera's gang. He enjoys joking around. Hanuman served as an inspiration for this character.
Aishwarya Rai as Ragini, Dev's wife who is kidnapped by Veera and kept in the jungle for 14 days. Her character is based on Sita. As per Ramayan Sita is considered an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi. Raagini is another name for Lakshmi.
Vikram/Prithviraj as SP Dev Sharma/Prakash, Superintendent of Police who wants to shut down Veera's crime empire. His character is based on Lord Ram. Dev is an Indian name derived from Sanskrit देव (deva) meaning "God".
Ravi Kishan as Mangal/Prabhu as Singarasu, Veera's elder brother who supervises everything in the gang. He also loves to eat & sleep like the character of Kumbhakarna in Ramayan.
Priyamani as Vennila, Veera's half-sister who wants to marry Velan. On her wedding day, Veera was shot by Dev and the police forcefully brings her to the police station where she is brutally raped. She eventually commits suicide, prompting the events of the film. Her character is loosely based on Shurpanakha.
Nikhil Dwivedi/John Vijay as DSP Hemant & the main perpetrator in Vennila's rape assassination. He is Dev's trusted deputy. His character is loosely based on Lakshman.
(𝘍𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘤𝘬 𝘸𝘪𝘬𝘪)
𝐁𝐞𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐰𝐨𝐨𝐝𝐬 𝐀𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐲𝐬𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐇𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐫𝐢
In the era of intellectually lazy film making Raavan is a superior modern exploration of psychological interactions. The reason why it has possibly disappointed the masses is because it is not a kidnap-rescue story or a terrorism story (just like Kannathil Muthamitaal was not a story about the Sri Lankan war; like Roja and Dil Se were not about terrorism). Raavan(an) like the rest of Mani Ratnam's stories is about complex human emotional relationships.
The already much praised visual poetry is apparent all the way through, hats off to Santosh Sivan. What is also true is the effort put into every frame by every actor. The physical effort is also very visible all the way through. Having said that, it is out and out a director's movie.
Mani Ratnam has given his personal twist to the Tamil Dravidian version of the Ramayana. The gist of that version & some parts in the Thai version goes like this - Sita is Ravana's daughter & the destiny is that if they lived together Ravana's entire clan would die; hence Ravana plants Sita in Janaka's gardens to ensure that she grows as a princess that she is; when Sita is living in the forest being constantly attacked by various demons it is to rescue her from a terrible situation that Ravana takes her away - father's love to protect offspring. Perceptions overtake reality, honor overcomes reason and Ravana dies. This is a version that remains unacceptable for most Indians including Tamils.
Using cinematic license with the Dravidian Ramayana threads, Mani Ratnam uses the theme of 'protection' while changing the relationships. Another excellent use of artistic liberty is the reversal of 'Indru poi naalai vaaraai' situation. Bad heroes prevail and good villains perish, makes one wonder if good and evil are really as polarized as we always thought it was.
When the Stockholm syndrome or reverse Stockholm syndrome (Lima syndrome) is denied or portrayed in men or foreigners it would have been acceptable to Indians. But in the case of an Indian married woman and that too a policeman's wife and a forest brigand with its social class differences along with some shades of romance thrown in, is obviously too hot to handle even when implied and anathema when explicit. So understandably the mental resistance to see the film with the usual suspension of disbelief is very high much before the titles are shown. Get over it, grow up and Raavan(an) becomes actually enjoyable.
A particular genre of Indian commercial film consists of uninteresting variations of the formula in which melodramatic metaphorical people hanker after committed yet confused birds right up to the altar, mistaking their exaggerated puppy crushes for love which is spewed out as a psychotic roller coaster of songs, hyper-hormonal dancing, trashed villains and repeatedly predictable endings in international settings. That is enjoyable too, if one wants to switch off from their busy lives and tune into some mind-free movie viewing. The problem is we are used to doing this too often that when a movie is made like it ought to be made we are losing the ability to recognise it.
If you did not like Raavan(an) & are wondering why it did not rock the box office, look into the mirror and not at Ratnam. Raavan(an) is for grown ups.
𝐀𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞 𝐛𝐲 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐣𝐮𝐤𝐭𝐚 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐚 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐭
From the very first scene, Raavan is a visual whirl. In hippy language, trippy. In one of the earliest sequences in the film, Raagini (Aishwarya) is on a boat alone in the middle of a ferocious river when an eagle swoops down. She looks at it, the bird looks at her (a nod to Jatayu bird?). And then she looks up, to where her predator Beera/Veera (Abhishek/Vikram) is staring menacingly at her. Thick, misty air; howling waterfalls; barren trees; pouring rain; gigantic, ancient Vishnu statues surrounded by deep green trees—the forests where the film is shot make for our own natural Na’avi land (from Avatar). The film is a visual paean to Lal Maati, the fictional place where nature is beautiful and inscrutable.
But the technical inventiveness, unparalleled in Indian cinema, is a waste. In stylistic terms, there are some inventions. Visuals convey Ragini’s thoughts in one of the scenes. Intercut between a scene where she is lying inert on a damp, mossy gorge, is a scene of her crying out to her husband, standing by the river, to be rescued. There are a number of scenes like this, where desires, thoughts and imagination get translated into visuals. But how much can visuals speak the creator’s thoughts? Ratnam’s heroes are Santosh Sivan and V. Manikandan, the cinematographers of Raavan.
Set in a forest inhabited by a tribal community, the demon is Beera/Veera. He is a terror. The village is his fiefdom and he is both loved and hated by his people. His foe is the local superintendent of police Dev (Vikram/Prithviraj), who is posted in the district. Ragini, Dev’s wife, is a dance teacher who is besotted with him.
Beera and his band of men are armed goons who are fighting the establishment to avenge atrocities on them. Beera kidnaps Ragini, and Dev’s efforts to rescue her and kill Beera propel the rest of the story. While in the forest, Ragini is defiant, refusing to give in to Beera’s growing interest in her. Ratnam turns the Ram-Ravana-Sita triangle around, giving it a radical twist.
The subtext is, of course, Maoist rebellion. The tribal men are plunderers who, Ratnam suggests, turned violent after years of injustice. The government’s armed forces can’t get to them, although they are shown making constant inroads into the thick jungles. Ratnam has treated the forest with reverence. There are certain rules here, and some logic-defying situations. Human beings here can read thoughts and understand what another human being needs. Often, Raavan is ghostly, vanishing from a place in a fraction of a second.
𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒄𝒂𝒑𝒔 𝒐𝒏, 𝒍𝒆𝒕'𝒔 𝒅𝒊𝒈 𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒑
𝙋𝙖𝙥𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙣 𝙎𝙪𝙗𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙀𝙥𝙞𝙘𝙨: 𝙈𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙍𝙖𝙩𝙣𝙖𝙢’𝙨 𝙍𝙚𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙍𝙖𝙢𝙖𝙮𝙖𝙣𝙖, 𝙗𝙮 𝘼𝙢𝙞𝙩 𝘽𝙖𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙚
Ratnam’s film Raavan depicts the contradiction between the adivasis and the State through the framework of the Ramayana. The film, however, deviates from the message of the Ramayana & raises the disturbing possibility that our myths of morality & bravery are someone else’s stories of rape & conquest.
The recasting of Raavan as the wronged subaltern & Ram as the scheming agent of imperialism brings to mind similar reinterpretations of other Hindu legends by Phule, which completely subvert the orthodox interpretation. In the context of the ongoing struggle between the tribals & the State, one hopes that the movie Raavan might stir this debate up once again.
Ratnam’s Raavan, starring Abhishek , Aishwarya, Vikram, Ravi Kishan & Govinda has received generally bad reviews & was a failure at the box office as well. It also suffers from some flaws such as bad acting & complete lack of attention to details. Yet, from the social & political standpoint the film’s grafting of the Ramayana on the conflict between adivasis & the Indian state is well worth thinking about. In this review we explore this dimension of the movie.
𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐌𝐚𝐨𝐢𝐬𝐦?
The opening sets the overall tenor with a montage showing police parties being attacked by adivasis even as Beera, the adivasi leader celebrates by playing on the drum. But the narrative really starts with the abduction of Ragini by Beera. Ragini is the wife of Dev, a police officer who is posted as the Superintendent of police (SP) to a place called Lal Mati to deal with the notorious adivasi outlaw, Beera Munda. One assumes that Lal Mati is a district town somewhere in India, since SPs are not posted to villages, but the movie is not clear upon this point. Lal Mati is largely out of police or State control and is run by the writ of Beera, who is shown to be brutal and violent but at the same time to be loved and respected by the locals. One can only wonder if Lal Mati (Hindi for Red Soil) is a reference to the fact that the soil is controlled by the Maoist party. There is no other explicit reference to Maoism in the movie. The first half of the movie passes without the viewers knowing the reason behind Ragini’s abduction. Rather there is some shuttling back & forth between a purported adivasi village & the forest. One need not dwell too long on the authenticity of the adivasi village or for that matter the adivasi song & dance. Suffice to say that these affirm faithfully to a citydweller’s idea of what such villages may look like. Intriguingly the forest is the only substantial location in the entire movie. No city, town or village is shown long enough to create an impression.
Thus the feeling is one of placeless-ness & this perception is complemented by the confused accents. Ravi Kishan, the Bhojpuri movie star who plays one of Beera’s brothers of course does a good job with his Bhojpuri accented Hindi. Further, the relationship between Beera’s adivasi village & the town of Lal Mati is never clarified. Confusion of place is compounded in the second half when Beera’s sister is shown as getting ready for her wedding in a large rural dwelling which is certainly not in the adivasi village and the location of which is not made clear. Instead, most of the script is occupied in developing the relationship between Beera & his captive Ragini. The movie moves to a climax with the police getting the better of Beera & gunning him down to the protestations of Ragini who has begun to see Raavan’s side of the story of the Ramayana.
𝐀 ‘𝐇𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧’ 𝐑𝐚𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐧
Aside from the stunning visuals, the socio-political resonances are strong and it is these I will now explore. The story recasts the highly politically relevant contradiction between the adivasis and the State, as represented by its police force, into the framework of the Ramayana. Almost all the main characters of the Ramayana, viz, Ram, Sita, Laxman, Hanuman, Vibhishan, Kumbhakarna, Shurpanakha & of course the eponymous Raavan, have their counterparts in the script. However the essential message of the Ramayana is turned if not on its head, then at least sideways. Ram is no longer maryada purushottam (the ideal man in complete control of his senses & actions), nor is Raavan the unreconstructed demoniacal figure of popular understanding burned every Dussehra.
Conventionally Raavan has been humanised by citing his devotion to Shiva, his learning of the Vedas or his playing of the veena. Here he is human because he has suffered injustice and oppression at the hands of the State and has decided to fight back. His sister, an adivasi woman who dares to love and seeks to marry a brahmin boy is apprehended in a raid conducted by Ram even as she is getting married. She is later gang raped inside a police station.
Laxman (also called Laxman in the movie), a cop, assists in this “cutting off of Shurpanakha’s nose”. She subsequently commits suicide. Raavan(Beera) who is already a force to reckon with in his community, a king for all practical purposes, seeks to avenge this act and abducts Sita. Independent of this particular aggravation at the hands of the police, Raavan is a rising threat to the State which Ram represents. Beera the adivasi is openly challenging the authority of the police in his neighbourhood. The cop, Dev Pratap Sharma, has been sent to quell this adivasi who is a Munda, the same tribe that claims the famous Birsa among its members. The symbolism is thus simply crammed into the script.
𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐎𝐧𝐞, 𝐄𝐯𝐢𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐀𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫
Despite, or perhaps because of its bluntness, the movie challenges some deeply held beliefs on the nature of good & evil in Indian culture. The epics, and in particular the Ramayan still occupy a place of prominence as fables of morality. The Ramayan in its popular version is free even of the moral ambiguities to be found in the Mahabharata. Raavan raises, in very clear terms, the disturbing possibility that our myths of morality and bravery are someone else’s stories of rape & conquest. Our heroes are villains in stories told in other places, not in faraway countries, but in our own heartland. And our villains might just have been people whose only fault lay in not submitting to our rule.
The confusion that we are thrown into as a result of this reversal of viewpoint is clearly (& amusingly) on display in a brief review of the movie I read in the Banaras Times. The author of the review describes Lal Mati as “A town where the word of law is not the police but Beera, a tribal who has, over the years, shifted the power equation of the place from the ruling to the have-nots of the area.” Further, the reviewer notes that the police seek primarily to bring order & not justice. Thus “Dev knows that the key to bringing order to any place is to vanquish the big fish; in this case – Beera.”
At the end of the review, in describing the nature of the fight between Beera and the SP, the reviewer says it is a “fight between good & evil” with good being represented by the SP. The review of the movie’s Tamil version does admit that the lines between good & evil get blurred. That part was left out in the newspaper review. Thus wittingly or unwittingly the reviewer has captured perfectly the dissonance that such a reinterpretation creates. The fight between Ram & Raavan must of course be a fight between good & evil, but it also cannot be denied that Raavan has made the have nots stronger. The message is clear: it is evil to defend the poor & good to defend the rich & the ruling class.
𝐀𝐥𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐇𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬/𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬
This is of course not the first time that timeless tales have been retold from the opposite viewpoint. In reinterpreting history from the rakshasa point of view Mani Ratnam is in the august company of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, the anti-caste thinker & activist of the 19th century. A retelling of the Ramayana which casts Raavan as the wronged subaltern & Ram as the scheming agent of imperialism brings to mind similar reinterpretations of other Hindu legends by Phule.
𝐁𝐥𝐨𝐠 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐢𝐛𝐢𝐬𝐤𝐞𝐭.𝐜𝐨𝐦 𝐛𝐲 𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐚 𝐓𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐤
This Study Of The Characters In Mani Ratnam’s “Villain” Tells You Why It Is A Misunderstood Epic!
How do I start talking about this epic film? To a lot of us, it is very clear that, Ramayan is the underlying theme in Raavan/Raavanan/Villain. But, to a very few, it is not known. But, I realized that, knowing the underlying theme or not knowing it does not affect the experience in any way if you’re not watching it clearly. Raavan is that film which requires a lot of concentration and a lot more serious viewing. Because, in here, more than Ramayan, the 3 characters of Ram, Raavan and Sita are explored. Explored to a greatest extent. Explored in an unexplored format. And explored more than beautifully.
I’m aware of the fact that, this film did not do well at the BO. I’m not even arguing about that. All I want to share is our immature way of looking at a cinema. Raavan, as a film, opened up my mind on how to watch something that is told to me so many times. It actually changed the way I look at films. Because, Raavan has a perspective of MR’s own. He narrated a new story from an old story.
So, the movie opens up with this visual. Veera/Beera standing on a hill top. He pushes a small stone into the river that is flowing underneath.
Intercuts happen between Veera jumping into the water and police people being attacked by Veera’s followers. And immediately Raagini is on a small boat. An eagle lands on Ragini’s boat and Ragini just stares at it. Then, a bigger ship comes closer to this boat & the shadow of that ship is on her face. Her face is occupied by the shadow & the Ship hits the Boat. After she is kidnapped, the very first dialogue she utters to Veera and his people is “Naku nuvvante Bhayam ledu”. Not only that one instance, there are so many scenes in which she says that, she’s not scared of Veera.
Veera holding a gun in out focus and Ragini’s face in the background. Let me tell you the reason for mentioning all this in detail. Raavan/Villain is all about that shadow changing its place from Raagini to Veera, gun changing its position from Veera’s hand to Raagini’s & Veera jumping off the same cliff he was first shown standing. Take a look at these images. (𝘚𝘦𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘴)
MR tried to tell us that, Ram & Raavan are equally powerful. To justify that, he reveals the backstory of both the characters that led them to the opening sequence through intercuts. Dev, driving his jeep goes back to the first day of work in that city. Through his perspective, Veera is established. All the bad deeds Veera had done & his reason to arrest Veera. That 1.5 minute sequence is shot & cut very interestingly. The camera movement is so subtle. When Dev starts off to reveal the crime history of Veera, camera movement is slow. When he goes on with the narrative, camera movement gradually catches up speed. That camera movement alone is enough to establish the intense rivalry between a cop & a criminal. Simultaneously, it establishes, Dev as the good guy & Veera as a bad guy. But, not to forget, both are equally powerful.
In this film, MR did not want to tell Ramayan in that exact setup. He just wanted to talk about the grey side of Ram & White side of Raavan. Though, we all know that it is not true, he still wanted to put forward that perspective. But, why? I think that is what a poet does. Talking about the dark side of the light & the bright side of the night. And after having that clarity, just look at the way he took these characters to the end.
𝐑𝐚𝐦 – 𝐃𝐞𝐯 – 𝐏𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐯𝐢𝐑𝐚𝐣/𝐕𝐢𝐤𝐫𝐚𝐦 :
So, I told you that, MR wanted to explore the dark side of Dev’s character. But, how do we reach the dark side without being really dark? I think, it is possible only by taking that character & dipping him in the white, slight grey and complete grey cups. Because, that way it is gradual. It is convincing. It looks like a story being told. To mark those 3 color cups, there were few scenes. Talking about the white, he is introduced as someone who is strict and sincere at his job. In fact, throughout the film, he’s on duty. Sincere & honest. To add to that, remember the scene where he interacts with the guy who piloted the boat? This one. He asks him about Raagini. He even offers him water to quench his thirst.
But, when the movie flows, he reaches a similar situation where he come across another guy with one hand cut, to guide them to Veera. Just look at the way he behaves with him. His hand was cut and put in the other one. Yet, this “White” Dev will not be bothered about his pain. The first question he asks is about Veera.
See the shift in there? That shift from asking about Raagini to asking about Veera? That shift from white to partial grey? That is what I call as cinematic magic. After this, he goes on to explore the grey part further. To justify his shift to complete grey, there is a scene where he kills the messenger of Veera. That shapes Dev in to a full-grey-man.
Not only this, even the way Veera grows on Dev is so artistically told. Just look at the scene once again. In this, Dev holds the photographs of Raagini & Veera and turns them around. It gradually catches up speed. And finally stops at Veera’s photo.
That brilliantly & poetically reveals Dev’s state of mind. It says that, more than his wife being kidnapped, he is occupied with Veera. Ram is not worried about bringing back Sita in this adaptation. Ratnam tried to see the possibilities in that context. Just took 3 primary characters & put them in the premise of Ramayan set up in this world.
𝐑𝐚𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐧 – 𝐕𝐞𝐞𝐫𝐚 – 𝐕𝐢𝐤𝐫𝐚𝐦/𝐀𝐛𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐤 :
This character interestingly starts off with a grey touch & converts into almost white. Similar to the graph of Dev’s character, Veera’s graph is also subtle, gradual and convincing. Whenever Dev steps into a grey cup, Veera steps into a white cup. Right before he kills the messenger of Veera, there is this scene. Veera listens to the messenger & is actually ready to let go of his fight/grudge on Dev. That is the only reason for sending that messenger to talk to Dev about the compromise.
Right before Dev inquires about Veera’s stay with Venu, Veera avenges his sister’s death. According to him, Venu was one of the reasons for his sister to commit suicide. So, he believed that it is right to take off Venu’s hand. That is his partial shift towards righteous deeds.
And in the opening sequence of the film, Veera orders his men to attack the police. The reason for it is just his natural vengeful attitude. And abducting someone’s wife makes him completely evil.
This graph of the characters is what Raavan is all about. After we’re told that Veera has shifted to a whiter space and Dev to a greyer space, Mani Ratnam wanted to test our intellect once again. In the climax fight, where Veera’s intent is purer than Dev’s, look at the costumes they wear. To our surprise, Dev wears white and Veera wears black.
𝐒𝐢𝐭𝐚 – 𝐑𝐚𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐢 – 𝐀𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐲𝐚:
More than Ram(Dev), Sita (Raagini) is focused on in the film. After a point, the film seems to be talking about the relation between Raagini & Veera & Dev looks like an outsider. That is a very conscious decision in the writing. In fact, Raagini’s character is more like the thread that hangs between Dev and Veera. It just keeps elongating and turning. As this thread turns and stretches, the rivalry between the persons at the opposites (Dev and Veera) increases.
Raagini is like a catalyst in a chemical reaction. It boosts up the process. Raagini’s character starts off as someone who is devoted to her husband. Fearless. Independent. In fact, the very moment she expresses her fearlessness to Veera is when he starts to develop feelings for her. Her strength is so much that, it seduced the antagonist. When she starts to understand the positive side of Veera, she slowly shifts towards him. It is also very gradual. When Veera expresses his feelings for her on a spinning coracle, notice the costume of Raagini.
She wears a saree of a villager. It marks her shift towards Veera. (There is even a dialogue about the costume in that scene) When, she’s on the verge of loosing the anger against Veera after listening to his story, she goes to a Vishnu statue and asks him for strength. Begs him to give her enough courage to not loose her love towards her husband.
Beauty in that scene is the location and the setup. So, to conclude this character, she shifts from being bold enough to stay strong when she was kidnapped to being scared and sensitive when she’s set free. A strange shift.
I know that I didn’t cover a lot from this epic. I even know that, I wouldn’t be able to cover everything about these characters. Because, Raavan is consciously shaped that way. It is intellectual & constantly questions the viewers’ intellect & perception. It is very easy to be disconnected from anything. But, if you stay connected & understand these kind of films, you grow. Grow as audience. Grow as intellectual person. Grow as human being.
𝐁𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐰𝐚𝐣 𝐑𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧'𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞:
WHEN I HEARD THAT MANI RATNAM WAS SHOOTING an antagonist-centric update of the Ramayana, titled Raavan, in the darkest hearts of distant jungles, I wondered if the attempt was to delineate the villain through his surroundings, like how the untamed moors are a manifestation of Heathcliff’s uncivilised inner life. As it turns out, it’s more an excuse to allow the cinematographers to run riot. No one, really, walks into a Mani Ratnam movie expecting a mumblecore aesthetic, but even by his skyscraping standards, Raavan is a spectacle – perhaps too much so.
If there’s a movie that Mani Ratnam could have gone mumblecore with, it’s this one, a psychologically driven art film dressed up as glitzy, plot-motivated commercial cinema, with fussed-over Sabyasachi costumes on a heroine who’s never allowed to look anything less than breathtaking. Even her bruises are beautiful. It takes real effort to pull your eyes away from the sparkling surface and peer deep into the narrative, which reimagines the Ramayana in an intriguingly idiosyncratic fashion.
At first, you wonder what more can be done with this musty epic. There have been metaphorical extrapolations like Lajja, which dealt with multiple Sita figures strewn throughout the journey of a repressed Sita-figure rediscovering herself. Then there are the more literal adaptations like Neelkamal & Khalnayak. In the former, a chaste wife is suspected of infidelity, chased away while pregnant, and forced to take refuge at the feet of a holy man until the helpful Hanuman played by Mehmood engineers a deliverance. And Khalnayak had monkeys surrounding the hero and villain locked in mid-fight, along with a proto-feminist Sita who went after Raavan in order to nab him for her Ram. Pinjar, too, dealt with the gradual easing of anxieties between a hapless victim and her abductor, a Raavan who wasn’t a mythological moustache-twirler so much as a life-sized human being whose only blemish was being painted in grey shades.
So when we enter Raavan, it’s with the question whether Ratnam is going to do, again, what worked so winningly in Thalapathi, where he retold the Mahabharata without actually reimagining it. It was a straightforward interpretation situated in the modern day. Raavan, too, has its share of parallels with its source material – an exile based on the number fourteen, the villain’s sister being hauled up by the nose, a bridge connecting protagonist and antagonist, the lovable sidekick-monkey (cheerfully played by Govinda, and named Sanjeevini Kumar) who even rattles off couplets styled like the Chaleesa. And once again, Ram (a scowling Vikram, who doubtless had more opportunity to flex his acting chops in the Tamil version, as Raavanan) casts unjustified and uncharitable doubt on Sita-Ragini’s chastity, when she’s attired in virgin-white, no less.
But this Ram – named Dev (like the deity that he is), & employed as an SP (like the upholder of dharma that he is) – isn’t beyond torturing an armless man to extract information about his abducted wife’s whereabouts, or shooting a messenger of peace in the back after guaranteeing non-violent negotiations. No wonder the latter scene plays out in the dark of night, as befits the deeds of demons, witnessed only by a mute moon. Beera, on the other hand, is introduced with the sun shining over him, and even when he kidnaps Ragini, it’s in broad daylight (as opposed to the skulking maneuvers of a villain). The fight on the bridge may have these adversaries in their mythical colours – Ram in white, Raavan in black – but the narrative doesn’t paint them so conveniently.
Like Ram Gopal Varma did with his Sarkar films – trusting that we know the overall arc of the Godfather saga & therefore do not need to be shepherded through minutely detailed plot points – Ratnam abandons a linear this-happened-then-that-happened story in favour of flavourful highlights that simultaneously replay and reinterpret what we already know. How does Dev, in his quest to annihilate Beera, sniff out the location of the wedding of Beera’s sister (Priyamani)? Or how does Sanjeevini wend his way to Ragini in the midst of her armed captors? These are questions that need no answers. Ratnam knows that we know the answers in our heads, and this liberates him to pursue a level of narrative abstraction we haven’t witnessed since the first half of Dil Se.
Because of this approach, the outside-world issues that usually gnaw at us in this director’s films – like the political environment of the town of Laal Maati (Red Earth) – cease to matter. Ragini wonders if Beera is Raavan or Robin Hood, & that’s all we need to know, that this villain is for the exploited & against the establishment. There’s little use pondering if the redness of this earth is an indication of Beera’s communist-Maoist leanings, because the story unfolds at an abstract-mythic level. The more urgent subtext is that of the moral victory of the uncivilised over the civilised. The educated Dev is more savage than the unlettered jungle dwellers – even Sanjeevini, with his halting English, seeks a peaceful resolution to the conflict, while Dev prefers to let his gun do the macho talking.
Ratnam hasn’t completely broken away from the homey style we’ve come to associate with him. An interlude with Beera, his sister and her fiancé is a typically endearing example of fleeting characters being established with colourful brushstrokes and too-quippy dialogue. And there are several moments so loaded with pointed detail that they reveal themselves only upon looking back – the rape victim who refuses to uncross her legs even after she reaches home, the poetic justice of a tragedy in water being avenged by an abduction in water, a bird’s eye view of Ragini turning out to be a literal bird’s eye view (and Ragini being associated, later on, with this bird; “chidiya ki tarah phadphada rahi hai”), or the whisper of a kinky sex life in the case of Dev and Ragini, whose bedroom is walled with mirrors.
Further familiarity comes from the invocations of images from earlier Mani Ratnam movies – the rains, the mirrors, the cigarette-smoking hero, the gargantuan statue in the wilderness (from Kannathil Muthamittal), the man slinging along huge fish (Aayitha Ezhuthu), the song sequence of boisterous revelers in the rain (Nayakan), the trauma of rape leading to terrorism (Dil Se), the camera swooping madly around a triangular formation of characters (from Thiruda Thiruda; what are the bets that the Jimmy Jib operator ended up with a six-pack after the Raavan shoot?), the song sequence featuring a spouse in an abandoned cottage dreaming of a loved one who dances with children (from Roja), and indeed, the plot of Roja itself, only gender-reversed this time around, the husband setting out in search of the kidnapped wife.
But these totemic images apart, Ratnam, in Raavan, doesn’t set out to pleasure his audience in ways we expect him to. There are, naturally for a story of this nature, the derigueur masala moments, like the whistle-worthy scene where Dev burns holes in a newspaper image of Beera and his merry men – but the other must-haves of commercial cinema are glossed over. Ratnam stages AR Rahman’s songs as if they were perfunctory pit stops along the way. Ratnam is not terribly interested in genre thrills either. The action sequences are equally perfunctory, a hazy clutch of hyper-edited movement that registers at a corner of the eye.
Even the drama is free of detonations. You expect the abduction to be a frantic set piece, & instead, it’s a serene image of boats colliding on a lake. You expect Dev to come home & find his wife missing & go crazy with worry, & instead he receives the news over a walkie-talkie and signs out grimly, betraying not a flicker of emotion. (In fact, were it not for the snappy happier-times flashback, with those kinky mirrors, we might have wondered about the kind of marriage that Dev and Ragini had, and the stunning climax hints at more domestic trouble.) Even Hanuman’s withdrawal from Lanka (namely, Laal Maati) isn’t through a flaming circus act but a lengthy stretch of grown-up conversation.
The most interesting aspect of the narrative, however, is the way it holds back information in favour of later-on revelations that reshape our earlier experience. When we first see Beera, he has a plaster on his throat, but only later do we realise that this wound is a marker of how recent a tragedy was, a fact never spelled out in words. When a gold watch is given to someone, or when his hand is subsequently chopped off, or when a policeman is tonsured and tortured, we are outraged on their behalf, until later events inform us that they may well have deserved their fates. With commercial cinema, the expected style of narration is to establish a tragedy first, get the audience to empathise, and then punish the wrongdoers so that we can rejoice in their being brought to well-deserved justice. But here, our emotions are constantly confounded. Heroes turn villains at the bat of an eyelid, while villains display stoic reserves of heroism.
The equally unexpected love triangle is set up in one deft visual. Dev holds out a photograph of Ragini to tribals, asking if they’ve seen her. And slowly, he slides out a photograph of Beera that was hidden behind Ragini’s. Beera, now, has literally come between Dev and Ragini, and his thawing towards his victim is amongst the most extraordinary passages of Raavan. Ranjha ranjha echoes in the background – not the sprightly love song from the soundtrack album, but a lovelorn dirge that sounds as if rendered by a meth-addict whose fix has just kicked in. Over the refrain Jal jaa jal jaa ishq mein jal jaa, Beera is inflamed by Ragini’s attempts to escape – at one point, his hands hover over her chest until sense prevails.
And she responds too, for in the next scene, she’s attired like one of them. She asks to be set free, but her request, now, is a statement, not the scream from before. Even she seems unconvinced. That’s why Ragini seeks reassurance that Dev still loves her, that the mere idea of him is still worth hanging on to in the presence of this new attraction in her life. When Beera says that he saw a picture in Dev’s tent, she looks at him expectantly, and her face falls when he says it was his picture. (The line, however, is hilarious: “Raja ke tambu mein rakshas ka photo.”) And later, when Sanjeevini appears just as she’s discovered that her husband may have contributed to her plight, she reacts not with happiness but hesitation. “Woh khud kyon nahin aaye?” she asks Sanjeevini. That’s what she wants to know first, why Dev did not come to claim her.
But elsewhere? Imagine Toshiri Mifune in a Noh-styled Kurosawa drama imbued with the gesticulations of a silent-film scoundrel, and hissing like a rattlesnake making furious love to a tambourine – and you have the general idea. (Bachchan’s scenes are often shot with a jittery camera, possibly to highlight how unhinged he is, but this only accentuates how off-putting the performance is.) If the attempt was to be crowd-pleasing in the mythical (or even masala) sense while staying true to character, he might have looked closer at costar Ravi Kishan, who plays Beera’s loyal brother. The latter, with half the effort, achieves twice the effect.
(𝑫𝒐 𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒄𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑨𝒔𝒌𝑩𝒓 𝑺𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒅𝒆𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒂𝒍𝒚𝒔𝒊𝒔)
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗶 𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗹𝘆𝘀𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝟲(𝗯)
  1. AskBr Session on Raavan(an) | Baradwaj Rangan | Film Companion -
  2. Raavan(an) | Review by Baradwaj Rangan -
  3. Raavan(an) | Blog post analysis by Prabhala Tilak -
  4. Raavan(an) | Paper on Subverting our epics analysis by Amit Basole - Search on Google for PDF
  5. Raavan(an) | Livemint Article by Sanjukta Sharma -
  6. Raavan(an) | Behindwoods Analysis by Hemadri -
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My Choices For Woodbine Saturday June 29


1st Race:Maiden Special Weight--- 2 YO Fillies--- Purse $71,000--- 5 1/2 Furlongs AWT:
3) Muskoka Dancer (8-1) Has made one start and broke a little sluggish, then ran a fairly even race. Now with another 1/2 furlong and a race experience behind her, I expect her to break more alertly and track the early speed, then kick clear when asked. Trainer gave her two more works which signals she is moving forward and adds blinkers for her 2nd effort, all positive signs. Her sire, Danza, used that style of running in his 5 start career, which included a win in the Arkansas Derby and thirds in the Saratoga Special and the Ky Derby(his career finale).
4) Tara Dawn(9-2) is my choice for second. She has made two starts, the first which was to short for her running style, and the second when she sat just behind the early speed and tried to go by them in the stretch but could not run down the front running speed. Now two more good works since her last and she should give a repeat of her last, but with 1/2 furlong more to work with and plenty of front running speed to run at.
5) Rosiejewel Dancer (12-1) is my choice for third. She is a first time starter but the one who will enjoy running late. Not knowing how well she will get away from the gate is all that is preventing me from making her my top choice. Her sire, Girolamo, was a G1 SW and is a full brother to Supercharger(dam of 2010 Ky Derby winner Super Saver) and She's A Winner(dam of 2006 Ky Derby 2nd & Belmont S 2nd, Blue Grass Cat). Her broodmare sire, Afleet Alex, won the 2005 Preakness S & Belmont S after finishing 3rd in the Ky Derby. Nicely spaced works can only help.
8)Take Charge Eh(8-1) is my choice for fourth. She, too, is a first time starter. She scorched her first couple of works, then was given a couple of easier ones to set her up nicely for her first start, which is the pattern I look for to bet in their next out. Since there is plenty of front running speed signed up, she should outlast them all but should have difficulty taking these gate to wire, especially at 5 1/2 furlongs.
Bets: WP 3, Ex Box 3-4, Tri Box 3-4-5, .20 Super Box 3-4-5-8, Super Key 3 with 4-5-8 with 4-5-8 with 4-5-8.
Race 2: Charlie Barley S--- 3 YO ---- Purse $100,000 --- 1 Mile Turf:
3) The Black Album (3-1) is my choice to win. He is getting a big drop in class to what looks like the easiest spot he has seen thus far in his brief stakes career. Two good works since his last and his first time this year he has done that suggests he is starting to get near top shape. Now his trainer adds blinkers and a big jockey switch to Prat, a solid grass rider.
5) Global Access (1-1) is my choice for 2nd. His last two starts came against one of the favorites for the Queens Plate. He also has two good works following an easy one since his last start and signals he is ready also.
1)Inclusive (4-1) is my choice for third. He dropped down into a condition allowance in his last and beat slightly easier. Now he returns to his previous class and could win with his best effort or if either of my top two choices does not run their best race.
4)Curlin Grey (20-1) is my choice for 4th. He ran close to some pretty good horses in several of his maiden races before dropping into a maiden claiming to break his maiden, but that race knocked him off form because he had to chase the only speed down without any help, making up 11 lengths in 2 furlongs as well as drawing away by almost 5 lengths. While his last is not that good, it was more due to the fact he was asked to stay close to the early pace and came up empty when asked for his best run, a tactic not even close to what he has suggested he wants to do in his previous races.
Bets: No WP, Ex Box 3-5, Tri Box 1-3-5, Super(Back Key) 1-3-5 with 1-3-5 with 1-3-5 with 4.
Race 3: Zadracarta S --- 3 YO & Up Fillies & Mares --- Purse $100,000 --- 7 Furlongs Turf:
7) Zestina (8-1) is my choice to win. She is making her third start of the year and her first two were even races. But she has worked three times since her last and they have, for the first time this year, indicated she is reaching her peak conditioning. She is also returning to what seems her best surface after 2 AWT spins.
1)Red Cabernet (3-1) is my choice for 2nd. She is dropping out of a G2 stakes into this spot and in fact, 2 of the top 3 in that race returns later today in another G2 stakes. She pressed the early lead before tiring slightly while still giving an honest effort and should be even fitter in this start, as that was only her 2nd start this year. The tactics employed in that start was simply to get her fitter for this start. And it seems to have worked as she has her fastest two works of the year since, both her first works on grass.
5)Alnilah (8-1) is my choice for 3rd. She has made two starts this year also. Her first start she pressed the pace before tiring in the stretch and in her second, she sat behind the early leaders and made a late move, but was beaten by the one sitting just in her of her and a late runner who nailed her at the wire for second. Bullet work since that start indicates she is ready.
8)Desert Isle (6-1) is my choice for 4th. She wired a conditioned allowance field in her last start and steps up to face these. However, her dam, Eye Of The Sphynx, had 3 3/4 siblings to this one, all by A.P. Indy. One won the Queen's Plate, one ran 2nd in the Queen's Plate and the other won a G2 grass race in Canada. Not sure if she is ready to beat these, but definitely the next obstacle to overcome in order to earn black type.
Bets: WP 7, Ex Box 1-7, Tri Box 1-5-7, .20 Super Box 1-5-7-8, Super Key 7 with 1-5-8 with 1-5-8 with 1-5-8.
Race 4: Allowance --- 3 YO & Up Fillies & Mares --- Purse $67,500 ----- One Mile Turf:
4) Moksgmol (20-1) is my choice to win. I normally chomp at the bit when I think I found a horse that will be overlooked and this is one. She broke her maiden in her first career start and since has been entered at distances that is a little less than what should be her best distance and a surface that probably is not her first choice, either. Now she gets both, her first start on grass and at one mile. Her broodmare sire, Indian Charlie, comes from a long sire line of champion grass milers who were extremely fast and this filly also gets a lot of help from her dam line. Three solid works since her last start, including two on grass and she should be ready to fire.
9) Close Image (8-1) is my choice to finish 2nd. She has made one start this year after a series of works that suggested she would leave her best race in those workouts and that is exactly what she did. The horse has not worked since, but she has already indicated she is fit and just needed a little time instead of more fast works. Now returns in three weeks and that should be perfect.
10) Syllable (15-1) is my choice for third. She made one start this year and after forcing the pace to the first turn, dropped back to last and made another attempt to impact the race in the stretch, but the first two were long gone but she did pick up third fairly easy. Apparently the trainer thought the blinkers made her over aggressive early in her first start under his tutelage and he decides to remove them for this race. This marks her second career start on grass and she has a decent work on grass since that start. Also, my third in their last beaten by more than 2 lengths by both the first & second place finishers angle and she could surprise for the win.
5) Descente (15-1) is my choice for fourth. She is making her fourth start of the year and also her fourth start since her last top effort, angles I use plenty with success. She also showed speed to the top of the stretch in her last, another angle I use. So why isn't she my top choice? Because she has a tendency to stop when pressure is applied. I have always believed that Bodemeister and his foals would do so much better if they were allowed to rate and make their best run in the stretch. And the few trainers that have tried that strategy realizes they seem to perform better that way, also.
Bets: WP 4, Ex Box 4-9, Tri Box 4-9-10, .20 Super Box 4-5-9-10, Super Key 4 with 5-9-10 with 5-9-10 with 5-9-10.
5th Race: Maiden O/C $40,000 ---- 3 YO & Up Fillies & Mares ---- Purse $40,000 --- 5 Furlongs AWT:
6) Roansmoke (10-1) is my choice to win. She made one start this year on grass and did not do much running. However, in her only dirt start to date, the winner scorched the first quarter and half mile and that gave her no chance in that race, but none of these would have done much chasing that fast of a pace. All she needs is to get the early lead and you will probably see a horse that will wire this field. Works says she is ready and now it is on the jockey to get her going early. Could surprise!
1)Princess Fabiana (3-1) is my choice for second. She made one start this year and made a stretch move but hung late to finish fourth. That race should help her to move forward. One good work since that effort and with a furlong shorter to negotiate, this may be the spot she has been looking for.
3)Cassie's Rainbow (5-1) is my choice for third. Most will think she is making to big a jump in class to consider. But I don't. Actually, the trainer spotted her where he thought she fit best and almost pulled off a 55-1 shocker, missing by 3/4 of a length, when second in her last start. One work since her last and it will do for another good effort.
10)Magique (6-1) is my choice for fourth. She is a first time starter with a series of average works nicely spaced out and looks good enough to contend for the win here. Her sire is the speedy Badge Of Silver.
WP 6, Ex Box 1-6, Tri Box 1-3-6, .20 Super Box 1-3-6-10, Super Key 6 with 1-3-10 with 1-3-10 with 1-3-10.
Race 6: King Edward S(G2) ----- 3 YO & Up --- Purse $175,000 --- 1 Mile Turf:
2)Synchrony (7-5) is my choice to win. He has made four starts this year and is coming out of several races that were much tougher than this field. Probably the most likely winner on the card but odds will be low.
4) Savage Battle (20-1) is my choice for second. There is only one horse in here that will be able to put early pressure on this one and if he can not stay with him for six furlongs, then this one will wire this field. This will be this horse best distance and surface. I really do not believe he will be caught, but if he is my top choice is the only one that looks like he could.
7)Emmaus(3-1) is my choice for third. He has made two starts in the U.S., both this year and he just missed in both. Now, he is stretching out to a mile and most believe his record suggests he will not like it. However, his pedigree is actually screaming for more distance to around 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles, especially his dam line. Only thing I do not like about him is he had two tough races in a row that may have taken a little conditioning away for his best shape. But his work since suggest maybe not.
3) Say The Word (8-1) is my choice for fourth. Yes he beat easier in his last and this is a step up for him. However, two starts back, a horse called Admission Office won that race, and that horse came within a length beating Catholic Boy in his next start and then the G2 Wise Dan S grass race after that. 3rd dam is Dance Smartly, a Canadian Triple Crown winner and dam of back to back Queen's Plate winners in 2000 and 2001. Shot to upset!
WP 4, Ex Box 2-4, Tri Box 2-4-7, .20 Super Box 2-3-4-7, Super Key 2-4 with 2-4 with 3-7 with 3-7.
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight --- 2 YOs ---- Purse $71,000 --- 5 1/2 Furlongs AWT:
9) Proven Strategies(8-1) is my choice to win. He is making his first career start and there are several in here that are working solidly for their debut. Bur he is the only one among the top contenders that has Mr Prospector showing at all in their pedigree and he has him three times, all in his 4th generation. Good enough for me to let that be the deciding factor.
2) Canadian Secret (8-1) is my choice for third. He has made two starts and after not doing much in his first start at a distance to short for him, he was stretch out a 1/2 furlong in his second start and finished third beaten 4 lengths. Now another 1/2 furlong stretch out and you are in his wheelhouse. Two more excellent works and he will be very close against these. His sire, Secret Circle won the BC Sprint and returned the next year to just miss winning a second one.
4)Zoological (4-1) is my choice for second. The least fancy of the two Biamonte's horses entered, his pedigree suggests he has a ticket to run early and often. His broodmare sire, Hennessy, is grandsire of both Scat Daddy and Beholder, to name a couple. His sire, Animal Kingdom's only dirt win came in the Ky Derby, but he was much better on synthetics including a smashing win in the Dubai World Cup when it was ran on a AWT.
1)Meyer (3-1) is my choice for fourth. He has one start and was left with too much to do in five furlongs, though he was making up ground late. Now, he is stretching out another 1/2 furlong and has a chance to make an impact, though I like my other choices better.
WP 9, Ex Box 2-9, Tri Box 2-4-9, .20 Super Box 1-2-4-9, Super Key 2-9 with 2-9 with 1-4 with 1-4.
Race 8: Dance Smartly S(G2) --- 3 YO & Up Fillies & Mares --- Purse $175,000 --- 1 1/4 Mile Turf:
2) Art Of Almost (20-1) is my choice to win. She is another that is taking a steep rise in class, but has the bloodlines to upset. Her sire, Dansili, was a miler during his racing career, but sired top distance runs throughout his stallion career, including Flintshire, Dank and The Fugue, all finishing first, second or third in six different BC Turf races. Art Of Almost 2nd dam, Roguer, came to the U.S. and won her first stakes race of her career in 1 1/2 mile test on grass and then in her third start ran 2nd in the G2 Orchid H at 1 1/2 mile on grass.
7)Lift Up (6-1) is my choice for second. She is making her first start of the year but all her wins has came on grass. Her trainer has a pretty good recent record of bringing horse back from a layoff of 6 months or more to win their first start back, but it tells less that 1/2 the story of how many times he has done so successfully.
6)Cartabianca(20-1) is my choice for third. She has two starts this year, both were much shorter than she wants to go to perform her best. She is the only one sign up for this test that is bred for 1 1/2 mile distances, but she should only need 1 1/4 mile to be a major factor. She has ran mostly at the smaller tracks in France, but sports five excellent works since her last start and gets her chance to make believers out of the doubters.
5)Get Explicit (10-1) is my choice for fourth. Her last was her best start this year and she has three more excellent works to indicate she is ready to produce her best race. While I still am undecided, I may move her up into my exacta box, as she was originally my first choice but I moved her to this spot after taking a look at her pedigree which screams miler close up, but then she get a double dose of Northern Dancer's line in her 2nd and 3rd dam. Bet time decision!
WP 2, Ex Box 2-7(possible 5-7 box instead), Tri Box 2-6-7, .20 Super Box 2-5-6-7, Super Key 7 with 2-5-6 with 2-5-6 with 2-5-6(I know, not exactly like listed but putting the one most likely to win on top).
9th Race: Highlander S(G1) --- 3 Yo & Up --- Purse $300,000 --- 6 Furlongs Turf:
6) Tricks To Doo(12-1) is my choice to win. He has cycle back into his best form and will be tough to beat in this spot. Four solid works since his last suggests he is ready to tackle the beasts in here. Even his dam had a distaste for dirt but showed up with her A game when placed on all weather tracks or grass. Ditto for Into Mischief, though he pass some dirt ability on to some of his foals.
2)Caribou Club (7-5) is my choice for 2nd. Anybody who has read my posts knows I like my City Zip's foals in sprints, whether on dirt, grass or synthetics. However, he made the long haul to Dubai and ran poorly. While that race is a toss, the travel is not. And he has not worked nearly as well since he returned as he was before he left, though his last was more like the old him.
8) White Flag(7-2) is my choice for third. He is entering this race off a more than five month layoff, but his trainer often brings them back ready to run, so that is not a major concern. I normally like War Front in mile grass races but since this one's broodmare sire is Gone West and the dam line produced Mr Prospector, he may not really care to go that far. This distance is a better fit for him.
1)Extravagrant Kid (6-1) is my choice for 4th. He won his last start which was a tough field for a non graded stakes race and he has one easy work since. Actually his only loss this year was against Pink Lloyd, Canadian's best older sprinter. Should hang around for a minor piece.
WP 6, Ex Box 2-6, Tri Box 2-6-8, .20 Super Box 1-2-6-8. Super Key 6 with 1-2-8 with 1-2-8 with 1-2-8.
Race 10: Queen's Plate S --- 3 YOs Restricted To Canadian Bred--- Purse $1,000,000 --- 1 1/4 Mile AWT:
10) Sky Wire (4-1) is my choice to win. His last looks like more of a prep to get to the prize his connections really wants. His works picked up immediately after that start and he produced three solid works. Now he is ready for the big act.
4) Pay For Peace (15-1) is my choice for second. He won the Plate Trial in his last for his second win in eight starts. However, his broodmare sire, Sligo Bay is a son of Sadler's Wells and they usually do not like anything under 1 1/4 mile against the better competition. Nice odds for looks like a live horse.
14) Avie's Flatter (5-2) is my choice for third. I not sure if this is a distance he wants to go but he is the class of the field. Do not like betting horses going this far showing that much speed in workouts as most turns out to be sucker bets. But then again, it is restricted to Canadian breds, so talent is half the normal he would be expected to run against in this type of race.
6)Lucas N' Lori (50-1) is my choice for fourth. He has made 2 starts this year and encountered trouble in both. But I like the fact that his last was his first start with lasix off one slow work. His grandsire, Maria's Mon is sire of 2 Ky Derby winners(Monarchos and Super Saver) and his broodmare sire, Tejano Run, ran 2nd in the 1995 Ky Derby. So distance will not be a problem with this one and he has shown a little talent in his races.
Bets: WP 10, Ex Box 4-10, Tri Box 4-10-14, .20 Super Box 4-6-10-14, Super Key 10 with 4-6-14 with 4-6-14, with 4-6-14.
Race 11: Maiden Special Weight --- 3 & Up Fillies & Mares --- Purse $65,000 ----- 6 1/2 Furlongs Turf:
11) Baby Driver (8-1) is my choice to win. She has made 2 starts, the first was an even effort followed by a test against winners in an O/C race where she flashed speed and stopped against a field that was tougher than she was ready to test. She has another average work since that start and adds blinkers for this start. Just the relief in class should make her a contender against these.
13) Ekati Peace (8-1) is my choice for second. She has made three starts. After 2 failed attempts at pressuring the pace, she was backed off a little behind the early pace, made a move to the lead entering the stretch but got ran down by the winner to finish 2nd. Four more above average works since that effort should set her up nicely for this test. A return to grass makes her a win candidate in here.
3) Ready And Perfect (3-1) is my choice for third. She also has made two starts, the first when she set the early pace and flatten out in the stretch to finish third on the AWT. Then entered on grass, she sat behind the early pace and closed with a rush to just missed when second at 6 furlongs. Now stretched out another 1/2 furlongs and a good work since, she will be tough to deny a winning effort.
12) Strike It Rich (4-1) is my choice for fourth. She has made 5 starts, finishing second three times and third once. However, in her last, she sat just behind my third choice, let that one get a good jump on her as her jockey seemed indecisive about which route to take, but made up some ground late. Three works since that signals she was retain her condition and a jockey switch could be all she needs to get on top.
Bets: WP 11, Ex Box 11-13, Tri Box 3-11-13, .20 Super Box 3-11-12-13, Super Key 11 with 3-12-13 with 3-12-13 with 3-12-13.
Race 12: Allowance --- 3 YO & Up ---- Purse $67,500 --- One Mile Turf:
3)Western Crusader(12-1) is my choice to win. He has made five starts in his career with his only two grass starts coming in the U.S. against better maiden fields that what he is facing in here. With two good works since his last, a decent effort, he should set the pace and may not look back.
2) Silent Jimmie (15-1) is my choice for second. His last was his only effort showing on grass, but he has 2 wins and 1 second, all at one mile on grass but is 0-21 on other surfaces and distances, most of his board finishes against maidens. He returns in 15 days with no works, but at the distance and surface he seems to prefer more than others. His last was just a little long for him, but should set him up nicely for this start.
7) Pipers Warrior (20-1) is my choice for third. He switches barns to make his first start of the year. He also makes the first start of his career on grass. He has seven works since returning to the work tab but his last two indicates he is rounding into shape. In a fairly weak field, that should be enough to get him a shot at the top spot.
11) Coleyville(20-1) is my choice for fourth. Two of his three lifetime wins has came on grass and his third came on the AWT in a race that was moved from the grass. He is making his third start this year and the fifth in his form cycle, but while a mile seems a little shorter than his best distance, he should come running late and begin the upcycle in his form. No works since his last is biggest reason I can not put him higher in here.
WP 3, Ex Box 2-3, Tri Box 2-3-7, .20 Super Box 2-3-7-11, Super Key 3 with 2-7-11 with 2-7-11 with 2-7-11.
Race 13: O/C 62,500 ---- 3 YO & Up Fillies And Mares ----- Purse $72,500 --- 6 1/2 Furlongs Turf:

3)Sanity (7-2) is my choice to win. While she does not fit my 3rd beaten by more than two lengths by the first and second place finishers to a T, it is close enough for me to make her my top choice. As with all my angles, I leave a little flexibility and make final decisions on a case by case basis. With this angle, I am simply trying to determine if the jockey used the whip excessively or if he was pushing too hard on the horse's neck. Horses needs some encouragement to move forward, but there is also a fine line that can have the opposite effect.

12) Killag Katie (8-1) is my choice for second. In her first start this year, she finished a length behind my top choice while making up ground late. Definitely in need of that start, she has one good work since followed by a maintenance breeze. She looks like a hard trying sort that comes up short in most of her races and that is why she will be my second choice, instead of my top choice.

10) Magic Spell (6-1) is my choice for third. She has two starts this year, the first an out she was clearly in need of and then a second in this class in her last, finishing in front of both my top two choices. She has third works since that effort and all indicates she is nearing top shape. However, I really do not believe she is quite there yet. For this reason and the fact she finishes third in most of her on the board finishes, this is why she will be placed there by me.

4) San Nicola Storm(20-1) is my choice for fourth. She has made one start this year against much tougher and was in need of that start. She has four good works since that effort and with the class break and surface switch, she is in here with a chance to win at a huge price.

WP 3, Ex Box 3-12, Tri Box 3-10-12, .20 Super Box 3-4-10-12, Super Key 3 with 4-10-12 with 4-10-12 with 4-10-12.
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[Pre Match Thread] Schalke 04 vs Manchester City (Champions League - Round of 16 - Leg 1)

Schalke 04 vs Manchester City F.C.
Competition Champions League – Round of 16 – Leg 1
Venue: Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Date: Wednesday, 20 February
Kick-off : 20:00 GMT | 21:00 CET | 14:00 Central USA
Referee : Carlos Del Cerro
Assistants : Juan Yuste, Roberto Alonso
Fourth official : José María Sanchez Martinez
VAR : Alejandro Hernandez
Schalke 04
Manager: Domenico Tedesco
Line Up - TBD
Substitutes - TBD
Sidelined – Mascarell, Schöpf, Embolo
Form Guide -
All competitions - W W L D W
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
There's nothing like a Champions League knockout match against one of the world's best. We have worked hard to be able to play in a game like this. By logic, we are in with a chance. Of course we aren't favourites, but we have made it to this round [on merit]. Manchester City have an extremely strong team and we need to be strong. We owe it to ourselves and to our fans.
City are very structured in their phases of play. Every player knows what the others are doing. They are particularly good in the 'number eight' position. Yet even if you do your job well, it can make you vulnerable in some respects. Any team can pay the price [against them].
Dominico Tedesco
Manchester City F.C.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Line Up – TBD
Substitutes - TBD
Sidelined – Jesus, Stones
Form Guide
All competitions - W W W W W
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
This competition is special – the teams are good, you have to control your emotions. You have to suffer and survive the bad moments, but we are confident. We have many dreams in our head.
You can't go through if you are not yourself, if you don't do your best performance. If you want to dream, to go through to the last stages, every single second you have to be incredible: impose your game. To be ourselves, that is what I want to feel.
Pep Guardiola
Book Schalke 04 DRAW Man City
William Hill 10.00 5.50 1.30
Bet 365 12.00 5.75 1.30
Bwin 11.00 5.50 1.30
Tipico 11.00 5.70 1.27
Payout odds in multiples of 1, i.e. odds of 2.60 means a total payout of €2.60 if you place a winning bet of €1.
Odds at 14:00 GMT. Included to show how the bookies rate the outcome probabilities. This is not an endorsement for gambling. Bet responsibly if you really must. Don’t be an idiot.
  • Schalke and Manchester City are facing each other in a third different European competition after the Cup Winners Cup (1969/70 semi-final) and UEFA Cup (2008/09 group stages)
  • In April 1970, Manchester City beat Schalke 5-2 on aggregate in the Cup Winners Cup semi-final - they would later win their first and so far only European trophy with a 2-1 victory in the final against Górnik Zabrze
  • Manchester City are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games against German opponents (W6 D1) since a 0-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in September 2014 - current Man City boss Pep Guardiola was in charge of Bayern that day
  • Schalke have been knocked out in the round of 16 in each of their last three Champions League appearances - 2010/11 was the last time they made it past that stage, reaching the semi-finals
  • Schalke are unbeaten in their last nine European home games (W6 D3) - they last went longer without a home defeat between July 2003 and November 2004 (11 games). They are looking to win three consecutive home Champions League games for the first time since April 2011, when they reached the semi-final of the competition
  • Schalke scored six goals in this season's group stages, the lowest tally amongst the 16 clubs left in the competition, with five of those six goals coming after half-time. However, only Borussia Dortmund (5) kept more clean sheets than Schalke (4)
  • Manchester City have lost five of their eight Champions League knockout games away from home, winning two (Dynamo Kiev in February 2016, Basel in February 2018) and drawing one
  • No Schalke player scored more than one goal or delivered more than one assist in this season's Champions League group stages
  • No player delivered more assists than Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez in the Champions League group stages this season (4, level with Kylian Mbappé and Memphis Depay)
  • Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has won the Champions League on two occasions as a manager (2009 & 2011, both with Barcelona); a third trophy would equal Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley's record. He's also reached the semi-finals in seven of his nine previous seasons as manager but hasn't made the final since 2011
Will be updated as more information emerges
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Previews of the Gotham Stakes; Tampa Bay Derby and more

Needless to say, this weekend is jam packed with big races all over the country….. But it could have been a lot bigger.
With the blockbuster news that Santa Anita Park has been closed “indefinitely” due to an alarming 21st horse suffering a life ending injury during a training session four major races won’t be run this weekend.
Affectionately known as “the Big ‘Cap”, the Santa Anita Handicap, a major three year old Kentucky Derby prep race, the San Felipe Stakes, the Grade: 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile and the San Carlos for sprinters were all slated to be run and will be rescheduled.
This statement was released last Tuesday at 10:15PM:
“The Stronach Group announced the closure of Santa Anita Park for live racing and training effective immediately while the one mile main track undergoes additional extensive testing.
All stakes races scheduled for this upcoming weekend, including the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, the Grade II San Felipe and the Grade II San Carlos will be rescheduled.
“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer, The Stronach Group. “While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time”.
The additional testing of the track will be led by veteran Trackman Dennis Moore, expanding on the ground radar testing conducted earlier this week by the University of Kentucky's Dr. Mick Peterson. Measures will include utilizing an Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, a device that mimics the impacts of a horse running at full gallop allowing engineers to see how the track holds up. These test results will be evaluated to ensure track consistency and uniformity for both training and racing.
Further, The Stronach Group will be conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols.
This decision comes a little late. In all my 40 years of being involved in this sport, I can’t recall a time where 21 horses have lethally broken down in such a short, 10 week time span.
I’ve been to Santa Anita several times in the past year. I walked the upper stretch, the surface seems fine.
The whole situation is both tragic and baffling. The only thing I can come up with is the weather, as I’m not sure the Santa Anita surface was designed to stand up to it. Los Angeles and surrounding areas have been pounded with rain over the last several weeks and the temperatures are much lower than normal. Past that, I am very curious to see what these tests show.
With the cancellation of those races, the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the Tampa Bay Derby at, you guessed it, Tampa Bay Downs, will be our highlighted races of the week.
Other races we will be examining include the Honey Bee Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Busher at Aqueduct, both for three year old fillies.
Lastly, and although I’m not a big fan of the synthetic racing surface, we will be looking at the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park for three year old males.

Aqueduct Racetrack
Race: 10 (5:09 PM EST Post)
Gotham Stakes
Although there are several “play against” angles in regards to the very highly touted Instagrand, I can’t seem to pull the trigger in doing so. The $1.2 million son of Into Mischief will be making his first start in almost seven months. Will he be ready? How will he ship across the country? How will he handle going from 70 degrees in Southern California to Queens, New York where it’s expected to be in the low 40’s? How will he handle the surface change? And of course, how will he handle the mile distance when he’s never been over three quarters? I mentioned last week that Hidden Scroll was the most intriguing horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. If Hidden Scroll was #1, this colt is easily #2. The decision to come here was sheer brilliance by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer as he gets away from what is right now a dangerous surface and two dangerous horses in Game Winner and Improbable. It makes all the sense in the world that if you’re going to ask a horse to stretch out, why not do it at a one turn mile against what is clearly inferior competition and over a safer track? All that said, I still have no idea how good he is. He absolutely destroyed maidens in his debut and his rivals in the Grade: 2 Best Pal Stakes last summer while winning each race by 10 lengths. He’s been working well so he should be ready but remember the ultimate goal is the first Saturday in May, not the first Saturday in March. Past that, I’ll throw in my “eye test” angle as he was jaw dropping good last year and one more little tidbit. The talk around the Hollendorfer barn is they are putting this horse in the same league as the ill-fated Shared Belief. That, readers, is an enormous compliment…………......…….Based off his Grade: 1 win last year and his strong performance in winning the Jerome last time out, Mind Control is most likely the best three year old in New York. This handsome colt by Stay Thirsty has won three of his last four races and seems to be coming into this race in good shape. "Everything has gone according to plan. For the most part, he hasn't missed a beat. He's filled out, he's stronger, and his works have been well within himself. He couldn't be doing any better going into the Gotham," trainer Greg Sacco said………………………Haikai is a neck shy of being unbeaten in three starts including gamely winning the $150,000 Jimmy Winfield on this track last time out and scoring higher speed figures than Mind Control…must be considered in this spot……………………….Honorable Mentions: I really liked Not That Brady’s last three races, which consisted of two large margin wins vs. NYSB and super game second to Tax in the Withers Stakes. Chestnut gelding by Big Brown set the pace in the Withers, was passed by Tax, but lowered his head, dug in and fought back valiantly in the process. The cutback in distance should only help him in this spot and he could easily better this rating…………………..Much Better is a speedy, $600,000 son of Pioneerof the Nile from the Bob Baffert barn who ran huge vs. Gunmetal Gray in the Sham Stakes in January and whistled home (6 ½ furlong in 1:15.3) three in front vs. high level optionals last time out….should come out running in this spot and could be a menace………………..What do you do with Knicks Go? On one hand he is a Grade: 1 winner and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall, but on the other hand, albeit with excuses, he showed little in last two races. (My Play: .50 trifecta box using the top 5. Cost $30.00)

Race: 11
Busher Stakes (5:40 PM EST Post)
Like Instagrand in the Gotham, Please Flatter Me is hard to go against in this spot. Filly by Munnings, who the owners paid $12,000 for but she has already made more than 12 times that amount, has won all three career starts “on the engine” and by a combined 18 ¼ lengths including two Stakes races. I also the liked the fact that, after ripping through the first half mile of her last, she came home the last furlong in a solid :12.3. This speedster will be stretching out in distance, stepping up in class and drew towards the outside. However, drawing the outside becomes somewhat neutralize in a one turn, mile race and she shows a pair of monster works recently….should make every pole a winning one here………………….Play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” with the rest of this field as they are difficult to separate. ….I’ll take a shot with the well bred Always Shopping to fill out the exacta. This good looking filly, by Awesome again out of the Grade: 1 Stakes placed Stopshoppingmaria, has methodically improved through each of her four career starts, highlighted by winning the Busanda Stakes on this oval last time out………………….Espresso Shot is 5-2-1-1 in her career and running very well in her last two on this track, including beating a restricted Stakes field in her last. Although it took her a very pedestrian :26.3 seconds to get the final quarter mile in that race, you must note that race was in the mud. If you go back to her previous race, note how she was charging hard, late to grab second in a fairly quickly run six furlong race. A fast track and a mile distance looks to be exactly what the Doctor ordered for her here……………………….Honorable Mentions: Ujjayi sports a 4-2-2-0 record, has speed, draws the rail and wired a Stakes field on this oval last time out. All that said, she’s faced Please Flatter Me twice recently and has been beaten by a combined (almost) 10 lengths………………………I hate to put Oxy Lady this far down, I really do as this might come back to bite me. This filly Oxbow ran the best race of her life in her one and only try on this surface and had legitimate excuses in her two races since (overmatched in the Grade: 1 Starlet at Los Al, yet she was only beaten by less than three lengths and probably needed her wide tripped, Rachel Alexandra Stakes effort in her last). Of course, having Castellano in the irons won’t hurt her chances either. Bottom line here is she could easily outrun this rating………………..If you want to think outside the box a little, take a look at the cleverly named Filly Joel, who has shown improved speed for trainer “Rudy Rod” in her last three races and cuts back in distance for this race. (My Play: .50 Trifecta box using the top 5. Cost: $30.00)

Tampa Bay Downs
Race: 11 (5:25 PM EST Post)
Tampa Bay Derby
Win Win Win ran one of the better races by a three year old on the Road to the Kentucky Derby when he pulverized the field in the Pasco Stakes last time out. The colt by Hat Trick shattered the track record for seven furlongs when he stopped the clock in 1:20.4, which is almost unheard of for a surface that is so deep and sometimes quirky. He’s been training lights out since (49 days), signaling to me another big effort is upcoming. Although he’ll be trying a route of ground and two turns for the first time, I’m not real worried about it as a) he showed me no signs he was “done” late in the Pasco Stakes. In fact, he was moving very well in the last three furlongs, which he got in a very good :36.2, including the last furlong in :12.1 and b) note, both his grandsires were Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, so he certainly has the bloodlines for more distance……………………The 123 days off that Dream Maker received evidently did him a world of good. Colt by super sire Tapit decimated a field of optional NW1X in his 2019 debut at the Fair Grounds while winning by 8 ½ lengths under very little pressure from his rider. Bottom line here is he looks to be the biggest threat to my top pick in this spot…………………………………I like Zenden in this spot too, but what’s up with his three career races being spaced so far apart? Makes me wonder. Anyway, this chestnut colt by Fed Biz won his first two career starts, with one being a minor Stakes race, before chasing (second) the talented Call Paul in his last in the Grade: 3 Swale Stakes at GP. He ran well that day being it was his first start in almost two months and Call Paul is a runner. That race should set him up very well in this spot and his past races and running style suggest he won’t have a problem with the route distance either………………………Honorable Mentions: Well Defined pulled off a 7-1, coast to coast upset in the Sam F Davis last time out, so he certainly merits attention. That said, a few things trouble me about him. One, he was all alone on an uncontested lead in the Sam Davis and I doubt that happens again in this spot. Two, he has a hard time putting wins back to back. Three, his recent works since have been….meh….ok, I guess………………......Outshine is a $625,000 son of Malibu Moon who closed late to win two of his first three starts, including his 2019 debut on Feb 10. He recorded a monster work last week at Palm Beach Downs and he should appreciate the stretch out in distance here………………………….Just a few other side notes about this race: Although he finished off the board, Sir Winston didn’t run all that bad in his return to the dirt surface for the first time since June in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in his last…….........Tacitus is clearly one of the best bred horses in training today being by Tapit out of five time Grade: 1 winner Close Hatches and he goes first time Lasix here……….Lastly, if you are looking for a long-shot, take a look at Dunph, who has run very well in three of his five career starts and had legitimate excuses in the other two. (My play: $50 to win on Win Win Win, .50 trifecta box using the top 5. Cost: $80.00).

Oaklawn Park
Race: 9 (5:09 PM EST Post)
Honey Bee Stakes
Motion Emotion was visually impressive running high level NW1X optionals off their feet while winning by almost 7 in her last and looking like the “real deal.” She improved her record to 2 for 2 on this oval in the process. Drawing towards the inside should only help her chances, should make every pole a winning one here even with the big step up in class………………….Power Gal is a stretch runner by powerhouse sire Empire Maker who has yet to run a bad race though four career starts, highlighted by winning the Martha Washington in her debut on this oval last time out. With rain in the forecast for Oaklawn, there are no worries about her as she can handle a wet track…………………..After poking her head in front in the drive, Marathon Queen yielded and finished just a half length behind Power Gal in the Martha Washington. That was an impressive feat being that was just filly by Super Saver’s second career start. Logical contender with normal improvement from career start #2 to career start #3………………………Honorable Mentions: After finishing a fast closing third in her debut, Raintree Scarlet has rattled off three impressive wins in her last three races, including taking down a Stakes race in her last. Filly by Get Stormy steps up and stretches out but could be a menace………………………Sunset Wish has also rattled of three straight wins before finishing a close up fourth in the Martha Washington after a troubled trip (rank early, took a minor bump and four wide on the turn). Filly by Malibu Moon could outrun this rating, especially with a cleaner trip…….Couple of long-shots to consider: Bizwhacks is consistent and ran an enormous race in the mud last time out, consider her if it rains.. and, based off her past performances, Chocolate Kisses might quietly be sitting on big race here. (My Play: $50 win on Motion Emotion and .50 trifecta box using the top 5. Cost $80.00)

Turfway Park
Race: 11 (6:37 PM EST Post)
Jeff Ruby Steaks
Somelikeithotbrown just missed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year and was a conclusive winner in 2019 debut (on the synthetics) on Feb 15. This son of the very gentle Big Brown should only be tighter for this his second start of the layoff…..logical choice here…….................….Skywire won his racing debut on the synthetics nicely, then closed very well, late to beat optional NW1X by 6 at Gulfstream Park in his last. Good looking colt by Afleet Alex takes the next logical step in this spot……………………........Five Star General probably needed his last in the Sam F. Davis, his 2019 debut. Colt by Distorted Humor won his last two races in 2018 and his work pattern suggests he will come out running in this spot……………..Honorable Mentions: Dabo returns to his best surface (synthetics) in this spot and executed a brazen, five wide run on the turn in his 2019 debut while finishing third to Somelikeithotbrown in his last. Threat in this spot as he should be “tighter for this” and get a little better trip………………..Dynamic Racer has shown improved early speed in 2019. Although he was beaten fair and square by the top choice last time out, he draws the rail, likes the synthetics and you get the third start off the layoff angle as well. Merits consideration even though his trainer is 6 for 185 (3%) in synthetics surface races…………..If you are hunting a long-shot, take a look at Curlin Grey, who is the complete opposite of Dynamic Racer as this colt has shown an improved late run in both 2019 races at Gulfstream but tries the synthetics for the first time. (My Play: $50 win on Somelikeithotbrown and .50 trifecta box using the top 5. Cost $80.00)

By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team

[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])

2019- Record: 15-42 = 36% (My Plays: -$815.76)
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%

Little Bets N’ Pieces

**** 62-1 shot Southwest Stakes winner Super Steed is off the Kentucky Derby trail because of bone bruising in a front leg, trainer Larry Jones said last Sunday morning.
Albeit the injury isn't career threatening, Jones said Super Steed will require 60-90 days of rest, eliminating any chance of running in the Kentucky Derby
"He's walking, but not perfect by any means," Jones said. "We just found out yesterday afternoon that's he got the issue because I galloped him yesterday and he came back and everything was good. He came out of that last race with a little more of an issue than I realized," Jones added.
"We did some X-rays, and it just looks like if we don't stop now, we're going to run into trouble. Thank God there's no surgery, no nothing needed. Just needs rest."
Jones said Super Steed will be sent to Kentucky to recover.

**** In another development last Sunday, trainer Jinks Fires said Smarty Jones winner Gray Attempt was no longer under consideration for the Rebel Stakes because of an undisclosed minor setback. Fires said the hope is to make the Arkansas Derby.

**** Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said last Friday that Bravazo was scheduled to undergo surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., to address a knee issue.
Bravazo was pointing for the $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 30 in Dubai but the problem was detected after training Thursday morning, Lukas said.
"He galloped beautifully yesterday," Lukas said. "We thought he was tender coming off the wash rack, and we just got to the bottom of it. He's already gone (to Kentucky) … he had some gravel and garbage that they wanted to clean up."
Lukas said he expects Bravazo to return to his barn by June 1.
Bred and owned by Calumet Farm, Bravazo has a 3-4-3 record from 17 starts and earnings of $2,003,528.

**** Four time champion Beholder was confirmed in foal to sire War Front, Spendthrift Farm confirmed Friday.
The pregnancy is the third for Beholder, who produced an Uncle Mo colt in 2018, and a Curlin filly on Jan. 19.
Beholder, who won Eclipse Award titles as champion 2-year-old filly, 3-year-old filly, and two as champion older female, earned over $6 million on the racetrack.

**** Global Campaign, the half brother to the mega talented Bolt d’Oro by Curlin, “grabbed a quarter” (stepped on one of his front feet with a back foot) during his fifth place finish in last Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes.
“He grabbed a quarter, on the meaty part above the coronet band and ripped it back, and it's going to take some time to heal up,” said trainer Stanley Hough. “(Jockey) Luis (Saez) said he wasn't even sure where it happened. Best-case scenario he's going to be out of training a couple of weeks, so he'll have to miss the rest of these type of races. But I look at it as maybe a blessing in disguise because now he'll get some time off, and by summer time I think he'll really show himself and be the guy.”

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[Match Thread] Germany vs Australia (international friendly)

Germany2 - 2Australia
International Friendly
Stadium: Fritz Walter Stadion, Kaiserslautern
Kick off: 20:30 CET (UTC+1)
Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)
The Teams
Team Germany Australia
FIFA Ranking #1 #65
Last 5 games WLDWW WLWWW
Line-up 3-5-2 4-5-1
Zieler (GK) Ryan (GK)
Mustafi Franjic
Höwedes Davidson
Rudy 46' Wilkinson
Kramer 63' DeVere
Schürrle 63' Mooy 69'
Gündogan Juric 88'
Özil Jedinak 50'
Hector Oar 61'
Kruse 73' McKay
Podolski 73' 81' Leckie
Bench Weidenfeller (GK) Federici (GK)
Hummels Troisi 40' 88'
Boateng Bozanic
Schweinsteiger Burns 61'
Bellarabi 63' Ikonomidis
Müller Wright
Badstuber 46' Milligan 69'
Kroos Elrich
Khedira 63' Behich
Götze 73'
Reus 17' 73'
Coach Löw Postecoglou
Whilst only a friendly, it's nevertheless the game between the reigning world champions and the reigning Asia champions. What else is there left to say? It's one of the few possible friendlies featuring 2 teams currently holding international honors. Especially since the last time these 2 met bacj in 2011 (which is also their only friendly to date), Australia won 2:1. Looking at the WC, Germany won the games against Australia with 4:0 (in 2010) and 3:0 (in 1974), and the Confed Cup game with 4:3 (2005). But as I said, coming to friendly games, Australia currenlty leads with 1W/0D/0L.
Whilst Germany might still be the big favourite to win this game, the reigning world champion has struggled a lot ever since they won the title, with losses against Argentina in a friendly and Poland in the qualifier, as well as a draw against Ireland in the qualifier. Australia's last game however was their victory in the Asia Cup over South Korea, so they come into this game on a high which can only be prolonged with a win today.
Betting odds - according to
Win Germany Draw Win Australia
1.16 7.50 13.00
0 - 1 goals 2 or more goals 4 or more goals
6.00 1.12 2.10
Match Updates
0' Kick-off
5' Reus testing Ryans abilities, Badstuber on the 1st deflection, and Gündogan on the 2nd, but the Aussies defend successfully and the final attempt goes wide.
9' Leckie goes through and is open in front of Zieler and misses the Australian lead by just a few inches.
15' Gündogan with a nice lob onto Reus into the box, but the Australian defence intercepts his attempts to stick the ball into the middle.
16' - Reus with the first 'goal' of the match, but sadly for the Germans from an offside position. Game still tied at 0-0.
17' - 1 - 0 Germany! Reus after a nice counter attack, after an assist from Khedira. Shortly after his rightfully disallowed goal, Reus makes it count from an onside play.
23' Reus again, intercepting a pass in Australia's build-up and suddenly open in front of Ryan, but waits too long and makes the angle too narrow, allowing Ryan to save his shot rather easily.
28' Jedinak with a shot from far out that comes in surprisingly hot, but Zieler able to clear it to a corner.
32' Leckie gets a 1v1 against Zieler, but can't quite put the ball past him. That's his 2nd great chance of the game so far.
40' - 1 - 1, Australia scores! Burns with a cross to Troisi who heads it in.
45' Half time! A quite entertaining game so far, both teams playing high up the pitch.
46' We're back on again!
46' - (1/6) - Badstuber, Rudy
48' Reus with a direct free kick from ~25m, but Ryan is just about able to save it.
50' - 1 - 2, Australia in the lead! Jedinak hammers a direct free kick into the goal, just over the wall.
53' Troisi with the chance for the 1-3, but his shot goes just wide of the goal.
61' - (1/6) - Burns, Oar
62' Götze with a pass on Bellarabi who is open to shoot, but his attempt goes straight at Ryan who can clear it.
63' - (2/6) - Khedira, Kramer
63' - (3/6) - Bellarabi, Schürrle
64' Zieler creating a chance for Australia by trying to Neuer a ball away, but Hector saves the day for the German GK here.
69' - (2/6) - Milligan, Mooy
71' Great counter attack from Australia, but Leckie's header goes just wide of the goal. Unlucky day for the Australian who even plays in Germany for FC Ingolstadt.
73' - (4/6) - Reus, Podolski
73' - (5/6) - Götze, Kruse
81' - 2 - 2, Germany equalizes! Podolski of all makes the game even again, after a great pass from Schürrle following his great run into the box.
85' Podolski opening the play with a pass to Özil who passes it to Kruse, but his shot goes way over the target.
88' - (3/6) - Troisi, Juric
90+2' Podolski on fire, with a good run on a counter attack, but can't quite control the ball as DeVeer blocks him. In the end, his attempt goes wide.
90+3' It's over! A fast paced and entertaining game ends with no winner and no loser. Australia has yet to lose against Germany in a friendly, whilst at the same time the 2 teams draw for the first time ever.
Highlights - the place for gifs
Germany 45' Australia
54% Possession 46%
8 Shots 6
44% Duells 56%
6 Fouls 5
0 Offsides 0
Germany 90' Australia
60% Possession 40%
20 Shots 11
56% Duells 44%
12 Fouls 11
4 Offsides 1
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Preview of the Kentucky Oaks and more

With this website scheduled to shut down in less than two weeks, this weekend we will be covering the Kentucky Oaks, the Kentucky Derby and a host of under card races on both cards as well. There’s nothing like going out in a blaze of glory, is there?
I’ll be back on Friday with my Kentucky Derby report for Saturday.
First things first though, as we will be “touching” on a total of five races on Friday’s card at Churchill Downs highlighted by the Kentucky Oaks.
On top of the Oaks, we will also be taking a brief look at the Eight Belles Stakes, the Edgewood Stakes, which will feature the mega talented Newspaperofrecord, the Alysheba Stakes led by McKinzie, and the La Troienne Stakes, a Grade:1 for older fillies and mares.

Friday, May 3, 2019
Churchill Downs
Race: 5 (12:35 PM EST Post)
Eight Belles Stakes
Break Even is unbeaten and untested thus far through three career starts. With rain in the forecast, an off track will be no problem and her speed figures are climbing steadily……….Queen of Beas is a half length shy of coming into this undefeated. She steps up in class here but she too can handle an off track and, on paper, looks to be sitting on a big race…………Mother Mother is consistent and has chased the likes of Bellafina (twice) and Chasing Yesterday in the past few months. However, all of her closing fractions leave much to be desired, topped off by her taking a turtle like :17 seconds to run the last furlong in her last. Sloppy track or no sloppy track, that’s a big red flag……..…Honorable Mentions: Bell’s the One, at 15-1, seems generous. Although she showed nothing in her last, she cuts back to her best game (sprinting) here……..Lyrical Lady looked sensational in 2 of her 3 starts with the one bad start over a track labeled “good”. This is a nice filly, but if she doesn’t like a wet track, she is running on the wrong day.

Race: 6 (1:17 PM EST Post)
Edgewood Stakes
Newspaperofrecord is a “special” filly. She’s won her first three starts by a combined 20 lengths including the Breeders’ Cup Filly Juvenile Turf in just her third start. All three of her colossal wins were on a yielding turf course, so no worries about the weather with this budding superstar, who is probably the best bet of the entire weekend…………..Cambier Parc is unbeaten on the “weeds”, including taking down a Grade: 3 win last time out while getting the last 2 ½ furlongs is a strong :29 second flat. If anyone is going to pull an upset here, it will most likely be this $1,250,000 filly by “King of the (sales) Ring” Medaglia d’Oro………….Concrete Rose is three for four in her career, including a pair of Graded Stakes wins….looks best of the rest.

Race: 7 (2:00 PM EST Post)
Alysheba Stakes
The talented, but at times frustrating McKinzie has gone down in flames at short odds (2/5 and 1/2) in his last two but still towers over this field. Gorgeous bay colt is 9-5-3-0 and is still another who can handle what is projected to be an off track. No excuses this time………Before Seeking the Gold’s failed Dubai experiment, he ran lights out in none other than the Breeders’ Cup (dirt) Mile, Clark Handicap and the Pegasus World while chasing City of Light in two of those. Albeit he is 0 for 3 on off tracks, he remains a logical contender here…………Tom’s d’Etat rattled off four straight wins before being thrown to the wolves in the Pegasus World Cup last time out. Son of Smart Strike returns to a more reasonable spot, on a track he likes and at a distance that is clearly his favorite. ….........Honorable Mentions: It’s a bit of a head scratcher trying to figure out why Silver Dust, who has won 3 of his last 5 including a Grade: 3 two back, and the handsome Copper Bullet, who is 8-3-3-0 in his career, was charging hard late, behind the super talented Coal Front two back and likes this track, are both 15-1 on the morning line. I was thinking 8-1 or so……… Others who deserve looks include Bourbon Resolution, who has won three of his last four and appears to be in career form right now, and Hawaakom, who is in anything BUT career form right now, but has been known to run monster races in the mud in the past.

Race: 8 (2:53 PM EST Post)
La Troienne Stakes
Blue Prize had a huge year last year while winning four of seven including a Grade: 1. Mare by the drop dead gorgeous Pure Prize finished off the year by finishing less than two lengths behind super star Monomoy Girl in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She loves this oval and she is ok on an off track. Before you go running to the windows and bet the mortgage, note this will be her first start (in a Grade: 1?) in exactly six months…that’s asking a lot………………….In two of her last three, Secret Spice ran races that would blow this field to smithereens. But the one “off” race she ran was over a surface with moisture in it. With an off track expected here, I’m going to try to beat this morning line favorite as she may not like the mud/slop, which could prove futile………..Divine Miss Grey is an astounding 12 for 24 in her career and owns multiple Stakes wins. Mare by Divine Park is 4 for 5 on off tracks, which is an attention getter as well…………………Honorable Mention: She’s a Julie has been in the dreaded “one up, one down” pattern since last July but merits a look anyway.

Race: 11 (6:12 PM EST Post)
Kentucky Oaks
Bellafina is clearly the pro-tem three year old filly division leader thus far in 2019. Stunning filly by Quality Road is 3 for 3 and decimated her rivals in two of those races while showing the pure guts and determination in the other win. It appears she can handle the off track and has trained forwardly of late…………………..Restless Rider always fires her best shot as her 7-3-4-0 record would indicate. Filly by Distorted Humor is already a Grade: 1 winner and “just missed” in her last two, including a Grade: 1 last time out………………….Out for a Spin has speed, the rail, likes an off track and pulled off a colossal upset (52-1) in winning the Grade: 1 Ashland last time out. ………..Honorable Mentions: Judging by her several humongous margined wins in her career, Serengeti Empress clearly has a world of talent and could easily outrun this rating. I just can’t get past the fact that she bled badly, through Lasix, last time out………….2018 Two Year Old Champion Jaywalk is clearly not the dominate filly we saw streak through her races last year. It doesn’t appear she has grown or put on that much weight from last year to this year and simply put, the others have “caught up” to her…………………The Amazonian Flor de la Mar merits a look here too. Although she was beaten fair and square by Bellafina last time out, this $500,000 filly should only get better as she gets older…………………A couple of side notes in this race: Liora is 2 for 2 on this quirky surface... Jeltrin has a developed a habit of outrunning her odds which including two, close up fourth place finishes and a win at 63-1, 125-1 and 51-1 odds respectively. If Dunbar Road somehow gets in off the AE’s, don’t be so fast to toss her.

By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team

[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
2019- Record: 24-78 = 31%
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%
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[Pre Match Thread] Manchester City vs AS Monaco [Champions League - Round of 16 - Leg 1]

Manchester City F.C. vs A S Monaco FC
Competition Champions League – Round of 16 – Leg 1
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Date: Tuesday, 21 February
Kick-off : 19:45 BST | 20:45 CET | 13:45 Central USA
Referee : Antonio Mateu
Assistants : Javier Aguilar, Pau Cebrián
Fourth official : Teodoro Sobrino
Manchester City F.C.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Line Up – Caballero, Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Yaya Touré, Sané, Silva (C), De Bruyne, Sterling, Agüero
Substitutes - Bravo, Zabaleta, Fernando, Nolito, Navas, Delph, Iheanacho
Sidelined – Gabriel Jesus (foot), Kompany (leg)
Form Guide
All competitions - W W W W D
Champions League - D L W D D
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
All of Europe is going to watch us, to analyse us, to kill us if we don't win, to say how good we are when we win and that experience is beautiful to me.
I am really impressed [with Monaco]. They are physically strong, the full-backs play like wingers, the wingers play like attacking midfielders and the strikers are fighters and in the box they are killers. They don't need too many chances to score goals. A complete team – the most successful team in Europe in terms of scoring goals.
Pep Guardiola
A S Monaco FC
Manager: Leonardo Jardim
Line Up - Subasic, Glik, Raggi, Mendy, Sidibé, Fabinho, Bakayoko, Silva, Lemar, Mbappé, Falcao
Substitutes - De Sanctis, Diallo, Touré, Dirar, Moutinho, Carrillo, Germain
Sidelined – Jemerson (suspended), Boschilia (knee)
Form Guide -
All competitions - W W W W D
Champions League - D D W W L
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
We have changed a lot of players over the last three seasons and we're back in the last 16 again. That's great because it shows that despite all the changes we're still able to play at the top level. We have only two or three players left from the team that took on Arsenal a couple of years ago.
This is our 11th game, taking into account qualifying matches, and we always try to play the same way. These two teams love to play football and have technical players. The two coaching staffs work well. But in other respects we cannot compare, such as in the respective transfer budgets.
Leonardo Jardim
  • This is Guardiola's first duel with French opponents since his Barcelona side beat Olympique Lyonnais 6-3 on aggregate in the last 16 in 2009. As a player, he was in the Barcelona side that overcame Paris 1-0 in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final. He had helped Barcelona to home (2-0) and away (1-0) victories over Monaco in the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League group stage.
  • Leonardo Jardim's first encounter with English opposition came as coach of the SC Braga side that beat Birmingham City FC twice (3-1 a, 1-0 h) in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage. The next season, as Olympiacos FC boss, he faced Arsenal in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage, losing 3-1 in London but winning 2-1 at home.
  • Yaya Touré was a Monaco player in 2006/07, making 27 Ligue 1 outings and scoring five goals.
  • Bacary Sagna faced Monaco five times with AJ Auxerre between 2004 and 2007 (W2 D2 L1).
  • João Moutinho was in the FC Porto team beaten 4-0 at City in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 on 22 February 2012. Fernando and Nicolás Otamendi also featured for Porto that night.
  • During his 2014/15 loan at Manchester United, Radamel Falcao figured as an 83rd-minute substitute in a 4-2 derby home win over City. On loan at Chelsea in 2015/16, the Colombian was a late replacement in a 3-0 loss at City.
  • Falcao struck Porto's winner in a 2-1 first-leg home success over Arsenal in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (agg 2-6). He hit a hat-trick against Chelsea for Club Atlético de Madrid in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup.
  • Djibril Sidibé made his home debut for France as a replacement for Sagna during a 4-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win in October 2016.
  • Aleksandar Kolarov scored a free-kick goal for Serbia in a 1-1 friendly draw with France in Belgrade in 2014.
  • Have played together:
Fernando & Radamel Falcao (FC Porto, 2009–11)
Fernando, Nicolás Otamendi & João Moutinho (FC Porto, 2010–13)
Bacary Sagna & Djibril Sidibé (France)
Fernandinho & Fabinho (Brazil)
Book Man City DRAW Monaco
William Hill 1.62 4.20 5.50
Bet 365 1.62 4.33 5.75
Bwin 1.62 4.33 5.50
Tipico 1.57 4.20 5.70
Payout odds in multiples of 1, i.e. odds of 2.60 means a total payout of €2.60 if you place a winning bet of €1.
Odds at 10:00 GMT. Included to show how the bookies rate the outcome probabilities. This is not an endorsement for gambling. Bet responsibly if you really must. Don’t be an idiot.
Manchester City
  • Raheem Sterling is a booking away from a ban.
  • City had won their last four fixtures in all competitions before Saturday's FA Cup draw at Huddersfield Town AFC. The winners of the replay will travel to Middlesbrough FC in the quarter-finals.
  • Gabriel Jesus broke a metatarsal bone in his right foot early on in the 2-0 victory at AFC Bournemouth on 13 February.
  • Jesus went into the Bournemouth match having scored three goals in his first four appearances in English football.
UEFA Champions League squad changes
  • In: Kelechi Iheanacho, Gabriel Jesus, Yaya Touré
  • Out: Angeliño, İlkay Gündoğan, James Horsfield, Pablo Maffeo, Billy O'Brien
AS Monaco
  • Kamil Glik will incur a suspension with his next booking, while Jemerson serves a one-match ban.
  • Monaco have won 11 of their 15 games in all competitions since matchday six, losing once – 3-1 at home to Olympique Lyonnais on 18 December.
  • Jardim's men will play Paris in the French League Cup final on 1 April.
  • Monaco have also made progress in the French Cup, where they will meet Olympique de Marseille on 1 March in the last 16, having beaten AC Ajaccio (2-1) and third-tier FC Chambly (5-4 AET) in 2017.
  • Not including the Chambly game, the principality team have scored four goals or more in a match on 11 occasions this season.
  • Falcao has scored 13 goals in his last 14 appearances in all competitions.
  • Kylian Mbappé, 18, has registered two hat-tricks since the beginning of December, his most recent treble coming in a 5-0 defeat of FC Metz on 11 February.
UEFA Champions League squad changes
  • In: Franco Antonucci, Dylan Beaulieu, Jorge
  • Out: Mehdi Beneddine, Corentin Jean, Adama Traoré
Will be updated as more information emerges
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[Pre Match Thread] - Bayern München vs Juventus - [Champions League - Round of 16 - Leg 2]

F.C. Bayern München vs. Juventus F.C.
Competition : Champions League - Round of 16 – Leg 2
Aggregate Score - Bayern München 2 - 2 Juventus (Leg 1)
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Date: Wednesday, 16 March
Kick-off : 19:45 GMT | 20:45 CET | 14:45 Central USA
Referee : J. Eriksson
Assistants : M. Klasenius, D. Wärnmark
Fourth official : M. Culum
F.C. Bayern München
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Line Up – Neuer, Benatia, Ribéry, Lewandowski, Costa, Alonso, Lahm, Vidal, Müller, Alaba, Kimmich
Substitutes - Ulreich, Thiago, Rafinha, Bernat, Götze, Rode, Coman
Sidelined – Boateng (adductors), Badstuber (ankle), Robben (cold)
Form Guide
All competitions - D W L D W
Champions League - L W W W D
Weekend Result - Bayern 5-0 Bremen (Thiago Alcántara 9 90, Müller 31 65, Lewandowski 86) - Kingsley Coman set up two for Thiago Alcántara and the first of two for Thomas Müller, with Robert Lewandowski – on as substitute – scoring Bayern's fourth as they ended a two-game wait for a Bundesliga win.
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
We have to accept the result of the first leg. I would have preferred 5-0 but now we have to deal with it. Juventus are Juventus, with their own special spirit. The situation is the same as ever: Juve will be very strong opponents.
I know the Italian mentality, it has won them so many trophies. They wait for their moment. They know how to defend and how to score goals. After the first game, my appreciation and respect for Juve is even greater.
Juve can defend with ten men, with concentration and focus. I don't like this style of play, but I am impressed by the way they do it. They can also keep the ball with players like Paul Pogba, and they can attack. Juve can always score goals. We really will need to be at our best to win. We're all looking forward to this 'final'.
Josep Guardiola
Juventus F.C.
Manager: Massimiliano Allegri
Line Up– Buffon, Alex Sandro, Barzagli, Bonucci, Lichtsteiner, Evra, Khedira, Pogba, Hernanes, Morata, Cuadrado
Substitutes - Neto, Rugani, Asamoah, Sturaro, Pereyra, Zaza, Mandžukić
Sidelined – Cáceres (Achilles), Marchisio (calf), Dybala (calf), Chiellini (calf)
Form Guide
All competitions - D W W W W
Champions League - D D W L D
Weekend Result - Juventus 1-0 Sassuolo (Dybala 36) - Dybala's 14th league goal of the season proved enough as Juventus saw out the match to become the first team in history to keep ten consecutive Serie A clean sheets.
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
We have to play a perfect game tomorrow. If we are not able to do so, it will be very difficult. We know Bayern are a team that normally take control of the game, 60 to 70% of the time.
Of course it is a pity that we have some injury problems. But we cannot risk anything with those lads, there are many other, very important, games for us in Serie A and the Coppa Italia.
Mandžukić is an extraordinary player. We will decide tomorrow if he will play or not. He trained well, but we do not know yet if he is going to play from the start. There are two players missing – this is not a drama, but of course it is sad. A drama for me is something else in life ...
It is possible Bayern are underestimating Juventus. But I don't think so, they have lots of respect for us, as we do have for them. We have to be very careful and try to be the better team tomorrow. It is as simple as that.
Massimiliano Allegri
F.C. Bayern München vs Juventus F.C.
4 WINS 3
13 GOALS 8
Book Bayern DRAW Juventus
William Hill 0.4 3.4 7.5
Bet 365 0.4 4 8
Bwin 1.4 4.6 8.5
Tipico 1.4 4.7 8.0
Bayern München
  • Bayern were in unstoppable form at home in the group stage, winning their three games against GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal FC and Olympiacos FC with an aggregate score of 14-1.
  • They have won their last three home matches against Italian opponents including a 2-0 success against AS Roma in last season's group stage. Their overall home record against Serie A sides is W9 D5 L5.
  • Bayern last lost a two-legged European tie against German opposition when going down on away goals to FC Internazionale Milano (1-0 a, 2-3 h) in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League.
  • Their overall record in knockout ties against Italian sides is W4 L6.
  • Bayern lost the 2010 UEFA Champions League final against Inter (0-2) in Madrid.
  • Bayern have won all but two of the 20 UEFA ties in which they drew the first leg away from home, the exceptions being against Liverpool FC in the 1980/81 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-finals (0-0 away, 1-1 home) and AC Milan in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals (2-2 away, 0-2 home).
  • The Bianconeri had mixed fortunes on the road in the group stage, winning at Manchester City FC (2-1), drawing at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (1-1) and losing at Sevilla FC (0-1).
  • Massimiliano Allegri's side beat Borussia Dortmund home (2-1) and away (3-0) in last season's round of 16. Their overall away record against Bundesliga clubs is W9 D6 L8.
  • Juve's record in two-legged ties against German sides is W13 L3.
  • Juventus have lost two European Cup finals against German sides – against Hamburger SV (0-1) in 1983 and Dortmund (1-3) in 1997. They beat Dortmund 6-1 on aggregate in the 1993 UEFA Cup final.
  • Juve have won all but one of the seven UEFA competition ties in which they drew the home first leg, including the last six. The sole exception is the first, against Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, when a 1-1 home draw preceded a 2-1 away loss.
  • The Italian side have won both UEFA competition ties where the home first leg finished 2-2; against Borussia Dortmund in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup semi-finals (2-1 away) and Djurgårdens IF in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (4-1 away).
F.C. Bayern München
  • Draw 0 - 0
  • Draw 1 - 1
  • Win 1 - 0, or by greater margin
Juventus F.C.
  • Draw 3 - 3
  • Win 3 - 4, or by greater margin
  • Draw 2 - 2 (EDIT 93' - OF COURSE IT HAD TO BE THIS!)
I will be updating the information regarding line ups etc. as it emerges
EDIT: Line Ups are out!
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[Pre Match Thread] Manchester City vs Real Madrid [Champions League - Semi Final - Leg 1]

Manchester City F.C. vs Real Madrid C.F.
Competition : Champions League – Semi Final – Leg 1
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, UK
Date: Tuesday, 26 April
Kick-off : 19:45 BST | 20:45 CET | 13:45 Central USA
Referee : C. Çakιr
Assistants : C. Satman, T. Ongun
Fourth official : S. Ok
Manchester City F.C.
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Line Up – Hart, Sagna, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva, De Bruyne, Aguero
Substitutes - Caballero, Mangala, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Delph, Sterling, Iheanacho
Sidelined – Touré, Nasri (unregistered)
Form Guide
All competitions - W W W D W
Champions League - W W D D W
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
It's very important to enjoy the semi-final as it's not something we achieve every year. The players know that. It's important not to be comfortable because we're at this stage. Everyone wants to continue, to play the final. We'll see a City team that will play to win.
We won't just try to defend to reach the final. I have always tried to have a team who play good football, play well. We need a hot heart and a cold mind ... We need our emotions under control.
Manuel Pellegrini
Real Madrid C.F.
Manager: Zinedine Zidane
Line Up - Keylor Navas, Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Lucas Vázquez, Benzema
Substitutes - Casilla, Varane, James, Kovacic, Jesé, Isco, Danilo
Sidelined – Ronaldo, Lazo (suspended)
Form Guide -
All competitions - W W W W W
Champions League - W W W L W
Pre-Match Press Conference Statements
We are in a decent vein of form, probably the best of the season. We are going to do the best we possibly can to score and try not to concede. It's a game and tie that is 50/50. You can prepare all you want for a big game but then the game can turn out totally different to how you envisaged it. The important thing is to give 150%.
Our opponents are a great side. If you give them space they can hurt you. The players get between the lines and cause problems. When we've not got the ball we must keep it tight and defend; when we have the ball we'll try and hurt them. The players are really focused. In 2014, there was a similar atmosphere in the dressing room.
Zinedine Zidane
The clubs' only competitive fixtures came in the 2012/13 group stage, when Madrid twice came from behind to win 3-2 in Spain on matchday one. City led twice courtesy of Edin Džeko (68) and Aleksandar Kolarov (85) but Madrid responded through Marcelo (76) and Karim Benzema (87) before Cristiano Ronaldo snatched a 90th-minute victory.
The teams at the Santiago Bernabéu on 18 September 2012 were:
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Khedira (Modrić 73), Xabi Alonso; Di María, Essien (Özil 65), Ronaldo; Higuaín (Benzema 73).
Manchester City: Hart; Maicon (Zabaleta 74), Kompany, Nastasić, Clichy; Javi García; Silva (Džeko 63), Y Touré, Barry, Nasri (Kolarov 37); Tévez.
It was 1-1 in Manchester, Sergio Agüero's penalty cancelling out Benzema's tenth-minute strike. Madrid ended with ten men as Álvaro Arbeloa collected a second yellow card in fouling Agüero to concede that spot kick.
The sides at the City of Manchester Stadium on 21 November 2012 were:
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasić; Maicon, Y Touré, Silva, Nasri (Tévez 60), Kolarov (Javi García 46); Agüero (Milner 88), Džeko.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrão; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Di María (Albiol 87), Modrić (Callejón 68), Ronaldo; Benzema (Varane 75).
Those four points helped José Mourinho's Madrid finish second in Group D, behind Borussia Dortmund; City, then managed by Roberto Mancini, ended bottom with three points having not won a game.
Book Man City DRAW Real Madrid
William Hill 3.00 3.20 2.45
Bet 365 3.00 3.50 2.45
Bwin 3.00 3.50 2.40
Tipico 3.00 3.50 2.40
Payout odds in multiples of 1, i.e. odds of 2.60 means a total payout of €2.60 if you place a winning bet of €1.
Odds at 12:00 GMT
Manchester City
  • City's last two UEFA Champions League campaigns ended in round of 16 defeat by Barcelona, in2013/14 and 2014/15.
  • The 3-1 aggregate win against Dynamo Kyiv in this season's round of 16 – 3-1 away, 0-0 home – was City's first European Cup knockout victory. Aside from those Barcelona defeats, their only previous tie was a 2-1 aggregate loss to Fenerbahçe SK in the 1968/69 first round.
  • City claimed their second knockout win with a 1-0 home defeat of Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-final second leg, completing a 3-2 aggregate success.
  • Manuel Pellegrini's side have won three and drawn one of their five home UEFA Champions League games this season, although they did suffer a 2-1 loss to Juventus on matchday one.
  • The Manchester club have already met Spanish opposition in this season's competition, beating Sevilla FC 2-1 at home and 3-1 away in the group stage.
  • City's home record against Spanish sides is W3 D2 L2, both defeats coming against Barcelona. Overall it is W5 D3 L7.
  • Their record in two-legged ties with Spanish sides is W1 L3.
  • City may have never been in the semi-finals before, but Pellegrini's Villarreal CF team got this far in 2005/06, losing 1-0 to Arsenal FC over two legs
Real Madrid
  • While Madrid are in the last four for the sixth season running, they have lost five of their last six UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Of those ties, they suffered four defeats and picked up one draw away from home, the sole exception the 4-0 victory at FC Bayern München in the 2013/14 second leg.
  • Madrid lost their last away game in the UEFA Champions League, going down 2-0 at VfL Wolfsburg in the quarter-final first leg – they won the return 3-0 to progress. They had previously collected three wins and a draw away from home this campaign.
  • The 2-1 loss at Juventus in last season's semi-final first leg is the other of only two defeats in Madrid's last 12 European away games, with eight victories in that time.
  • Madrid have won on their last three visits to England, against Tottenham Hotspur FC (1-0, 2010/11), Manchester United FC (2-1, 2012/13) and Liverpool FC (3-0, 2014/15).
  • The Merengues are unbeaten in their last eight games against English clubs (W6 D2) since a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool in the 2008/09 round of 16 second leg – their heaviest UEFA Champions League loss.
  • Madrid's record in two-legged ties against English opponents is W7 L4.
  • The Spanish side's record in England is W6 D3 L5; overall it is W13 D9 L10.
I will update the line-ups as the information emerges.
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CFL Calgary 37, Saskatchewan 43- September 17, 2010 AlsTV: #Alouettes win 2010 Grey Cup! CFL 98th Grey Cup Recap: Montreal 21, Saskatchewan 18 Bachman & Turner Grey Cup Half Time Show - November 28th, 2010 CFL 2010 Grey Cup Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Montreal Alouettes

Over the past seven seasons, six different CFL franchises have won the Grey Cup, so it’s good to think outside the box when betting on Grey Cup futures. The last team to win back-to-back titles was the Alouettes in 2009-2010. Four of the last six Grey Cups were decided by margins of less than a converted touchdown. Other types of CFL bets The Grey Cup is both the name of the championship of the Canadian Football League and the name of the trophy awarded to the victorious team. The finale is traditionally held on a Sunday at the end of November and the venue is rotated annualy. The Toronto Argonauts have won the Grey Cup 17 times, which is the most all-time. Bet On The 2019 Grey Cup – 3 Step Guide. If you’re new to betting online, but want to wager on the Grey Cup, follow this 3 step guide to get your bets in on the big game. Step 1. Open an Online Sports Betting Account. First you’ll need to open an online betting account. Betting Guide. You might have been a sports fan all your life, but when it comes to betting, you may have no idea how to bet the pointspread or the over/under. In fact, if the word parlay sounds to you like a French discussion, then let us teach you How to Bet. Betting Terms. The Grey Cup betting favorite shouldn't come as a surprise (hint: it's not the defending Grey Cup champions). While the 2020 CFL season was supposed to kick off in June, the COVID-19 pandemic has

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CFL Calgary 37, Saskatchewan 43- September 17, 2010

Bachman and Turner Grey Cup Half Time Show - November 28th, 2010. The 2010 Grey Cup game will be held in Edmonton. This montage celebrates the history of the Edmonton Eskimos heading into 2010! CFL 2010 Grey Cup Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Montreal Alouettes by CFLfan#31. 2:13:08. CFL 2009 Grey Cup Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Montreal Alouettes by CFLfan#31. 2:15:20. The Montreal Alouettes repeated as Grey Cup Champions as they defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the second straight year. Skip navigation ... Published on Nov 30, 2010. 2010 NFC Championship - Packers @ Bears - Duration: 2:18:27. ... CFL 2007 Grey Cup Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Winnipeg Blue Bombers - Duration: 2:32:17. CFLfan#31 17,173 views.