Sunday, November 8, 2009

Zenyatta's Lasting Impression

In the 30 or so years I've bet on and followed Thoroughbred horsing racing only a few races have taken my breath away - Sunday Silence/Easy Goer's Preakness chief among them. I've watched the 1989 classic over and over again and the sheer will of each ultra-talented colt giving it their all from quarter pole to finish line still amazes me.

By the same token only two races have welled my eyes with tears - Rags to Riches and Curlin's Belmont and yesterday's classic. (An explanation of 2007 Belmont will have to wait for another day). But yesterday, Zenyatta's personality, talent and determination were a wonder to watch. It didn't strike me on first viewing - I had made Twice Over my top selection so I was intently watching his movement down the stretch. The last of I saw of Zenyatta she was second to last turning for home and Trevor Denman announced, "If she wins this, she'll be a superhorse." At that point, I thought she was done.

But of course, Mike Smith knew what he had under him, saved some ground, swung wide of Twice Over and beat the boys. It was "un-be-live-able", good for the sport and good for the connections. There is no griping the majesty of the mare, talents of her rider and trainer and courage of her owners. They took on the toughest field and the greatest challenge when it meant the most - beating Personal Ensign's 13 straight wins - on the sport's greatest stage.

I bet against her, but cheered for her and shook my head in wonder...then my eyes filled to the brim, almost overflowing with all that I had just witnessed. True champions leave us in just such a state.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breeders' Cup - Saturday

Instead of going blow-by-blow throughout the Breeders' Cup program, let me just give you my early and late Pick 4s. Do what you like with them....

Early Pick 4:

Juvenile Turf - It's hard to get a single anywhere, but why not one here.
  • #11 Interactif has found his footing on the sod with two wins and two tries. He overcame much trouble in Keenland win which gives me confidence in this large field.
Turf Sprint - Down the hill, full field with a funky dogleg and crossing fake dirt momentarily, yea this is an easy race to handicap. You've got to go with some horses that have the "downhill" experience, so:
  • #1 Noble Court is stakes-placed in last three starts and won down the hill four back, real chance at good price.
  • #2 Silver Timber has been a monster since being claimed for $25,000 earlier this year - three wins and a second including two Grade 3 wins, comes west and may or may not take to hill including on the ticket just in case.
  • #3 California Flag goes quickly, last year too quickly in this very race - 20 and 3/5 for the first quarter! Hopefully, he goes a little slower and gets the win gate-to-wire.
  • #7 Gotta Have Her is 4-for-4 on the hill - enough said.
  • #14 Delta Storm gets a break in the final post as the turning, twisting start actually helps his cause. The other old man of the group has two triple digit Beyers in his last three starts.
The Sprint - single with Zensational???
  • #1 Zensational does the rail matter that much...only if Fatal Bullet goes with him. Still he may be the fastest horse in here.
  • #5 Gayego is 4-for-4 at the distance and will close into whatever fractions are thrown up.
  • #8 Capt. Candyman Can is a tough customer with three 100 plus Beyers in a row and just missed catching Fatal Bullet in last.
The Juvenile - A chance to take a shot against the chalk breaking from the 13-hole
  • #4 Noble's Promise - three wins on three different surfaces at three different tracks with rising Beyers along the way.
  • #6 Pulsion - Got caught way wide and bulled his way through the stretch in Norfolk. Lookin At Lucky had the better post that day, but on Saturday.
  • #9 Aikenite has gotten good fast and will close late.
Early Pick Four Play: 11/1-2-3-7-14/1-5-8/4-6-9 for $36

Now for the Late Pick Four:

The Mile - Euros vs. Yanks, I'm going with more Yanks than Puddle-Jumpers while leaving Goldikova out. The 11-post is will take huge effort, and I'm betting against on this alone.
  • #1 Court Vision's testicles now hang better and he runs better too. Dutrow is a master first time out and certainly should get some play here.
  • #3 Cowboy Cal is likely to get the lead and at a mile he may not relenquish it, besides Karelian to his outside isn't as fast.
  • #9 Gladiatorus got back on track in Italy (and really who doesn't?) He gets first-time Lasix and will likely be overlooked, worth inclusion at a price.
Dirt (?) Mile - The weakest field of the day, take the single...
  • #1 Mastercraftsman - most accomplished runner in here - 4-time Grade 1 winner. Everyone else is an alsoran.
The Turf - This time the Euros get the nod...
  • #2 Conduit - fourth in the Arc in last and first in last year's Turf will get a pace to run at with Presious Passion and Spanish Moon setting or pressing the pace.
  • #7 Spanish Moon should track behind Presious Passion and get first run at top of stretch.
The Classic - The Handicap division has been so weak this year that it's tempting to go with a Euro or 3-year-old. I'm just flat out spreading.
  • #2 Colonel John is on home turf and comes into this year's Classic in solid form.
  • #3 Summer Bird the second most impressive 3-year-old this season. A three-time winner at the Classic distance and seems to run on anything, but has yet to run on fake dirt.
  • #6 Richard's Kid may give Bob Baffert the perfect ending to a winning day. A late booming stud was rallying in 1/8-mile shorter Goodwin in last and will be aided by the extra distance.
  • #8 Einstein will be overlooked even though he took the Big 'Cap here in March. Tough as nails, he will run around and through horses to get to the line.
Late Pick 4: 1-3-9/1/2-7/2-3-6-8 for $24

That's it...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Friday's BC Pick Four

In looking at Friday's Breeders' Cup Late Pick 4, I feel you have to single either the Turf or Ladies Classic - to both keep the ticket affordable while providing you the best chance of hitting at least one long shot in what looks to be a pretty chalky four races. OK, here's my Late Pick Four for Friday.

Juvenile Fillies - A place in which any horse can improve 5-10 lengths without any notice.
  • #1 Zilva - Eligible for Non-Winners of 1, but after missing the break in Alciblad, rode the rail in traffic and had to race around a stopped horse before re-rallying in deep stretch to just miss third. A pretty good race for maiden winner and worth a shot at 30-1.
  • #3 Blind Luck made it look easy winning the Oak Leaf at Santa Anita last out and is likely to repeat.
  • #8 She Be Wild either got caught late or simply gave it up after making the front in the Alcibiad's. I'm going with the former and she will be getting a dream trip following likely pace setter, Connie and Michael.
Filly and Mare Turf - You either believe Forever Together repeats or you don't. After studying and re-studying the charts, I'm sticking with Forever Together, here's why...
  • #2 Forever Together is the single simply because she has shown the quickest turn of foot, will finish the fastest and is closest to meeting the Beyer par speed figure of 107. And to top it off, she's likely to be second or third choice behind Magical Fantasy and Midday.
Filly and Mare Sprint - I can see anyone of five horses taking this race and I'm looking to spread with all five.
  • #2 Sara Louise exploded onto the scene after a nine-month layoff to capture the Victory Ride at 'Toga and then finished second a head behind champion, Indian Blessing on her preferred dirt surface in Grade 2, Gallant Bloom. Tremendous upside gets you around 4-1.
  • #7 Informed Decision is 6-for-6 on fake stuff and 5-for-6 at tricky seven furlong distance. If you get more than 5-2, it's a gift.
  • #8 Seventh Street cuts back from routing and with such talent around one and two turns she has the ability to hold the front which she may inherit. If she gets loose and handles the Santa Anita synthetic - watch out! 5-1 win odds will balloon in the Pick 4.
  • #9 Ventura - I've gone back and forth on whether or not to include her, but with synthetic, distance and track success, tossing her is just plain foolish. Leave her on the ticket for protection, but hope for a longer price beating her to the wire.
Ladies Classic - Another place to single, if you dare. I don't.
  • #1 Careless Jewel looks to become the eighth three-year-old to capture this race. She is the quickest horse, gets the rail and will likely force favored Music Note to stalk her. Whether she wins or fades, she will have the most to say about the eventual outcome.
  • # 5 Proviso won the Grade 1 Spinster in last before the DQ after the curious wayward move in deep stretch. She's my closer if the top pair get locked into a speed duel up front.
  • #7 Music Note looks too strong to keep her off the ticket. She zipped through a 5 furlong breeze at Santa Anita in 59 and 2/5 seconds, so the track won't be a problem, how closely she must track Careless Jewel will be.
So here's the $1 Pick 4 for $36: 1-3-8/2/2-7-8-9/1-5-7. Good luck and I'll check in with Saturday's picks on Friday morning.

Long Time Coming

After having a new baby join the family and trying unsuccessfully to operate a for-profit wagering service, I'm back - at least through the Breeders' Cup weekend. If you're swinging back to check the blog out - great. If it falls on deaf ears, so be it.

Tomorrow, I'll have a late pick four for Friday's cards and Saturday selections on Thursday.

A few trends to look for while making your selections:
  • Bob Baffert was white hot winning the first four races at Oak Tree on Sunday. He's loaded for another good score this Breeders' Cup weekend, so include him or toss at your own peril
  • Goldolphin is loaded and ready for at least a few wins
  • Europeans will be here in force, will they dominate again?
  • There will be plenty of logical longshots to love - make sure to play a few in your exotic wagers or just to win. I really liked Desert Code in last year's sprint turf and threw him on top of several exactas (which I failed to hit), and I didn't have him to win at 30-1
Good luck and talk to you tomorrow...