Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Case for Zenyatta

If you're still one of the hardened, Zenyatta doubters, even with the brilliant mare's historic near miss on Churchill's dirt, against the boys and amongst the finest Thoroughbreds, well, take time out from telling your 5-year-old there's no Santa and listen up...

Let's take three issues among national media/horse racing experts/bloggers that were or can be argued the day after the Breeders' Cup Classic. Please allow me to speak for Zenyatta and her connections, even though at this stage of her career such explanations are truly unnecessary.

Claim #1: Zenyatta beat mostly cream puffs on her way to winning 19 straight, right?

This requires a "yes," and "no" response. When a decent claiming horse wins three straight, everyone jumps aboard willingly, betting the nag down to 3-5 hoping to cash. But when Zenyatta, racing at the top of the sport's long and deep talent ladder, rips off Grade 1 win after Grade 1 win, her connections are accused of playing it soft and easy.

First of all, let's admit that the world's greatest fillies and mares weren't beating down the door ready to face Zenyatta. Zenyatta's connections can't be blamed (pun, ouch not intended) for trainers and owners ducking her. But ladies and gentlemen these weren't exactly races restricted to statebreds or starter allowances that Zenyatta was winning; they were Grade 1 races for goodness sakes!

Are Zenyatta's connections guilty of taking an easy, conservative road to the Breeders' Cup Classic? Sure. But who among us would take the sportsman's route and travel cross country or even across the world risking a chance at history? Anyone can talk a good game, miles away from the shed row. Why don't you take your dwindling 401K and invest in an aggressive small, capital fund and maybe double your money? The risk simply isn't worth the possible reward when it's your money.

Team Zenyatta mapped out a plan for 20-0 and came within a head of pulling off. They should have been roundly applauded, instead of being skewered by supposed experts. "Expert" being loosely defined as someone who has made at least one winning bet.

Claim #2: Staying close to home for 17 out of her 20 wins wasn't in Thoroughbred racing's best interest.

Allow me to answer with a question for you: Why would or should Zenyatta's connections complete and compete a series of races for the good of all Thoroughbreds? Winning is the name of the Thoroughbred game and Zenyatta's connections amazingly put her in the best position to win for three straight years!

Claim #3: Against a good/great field on dirt, Zenyatta's weakness would be exposed.

This knock was answered around 6:48 pm Eastern Standard Time on Saturday. Even though she was markedly slow, even for her, getting into stride, Zenyatta did everything but win yesterday. More gallant in defeat than Blame was in winning - he had the better trip at his favorite track.

As for the Horse of the Year discussion - Without Zenyatta racing yesterday, far fewer racing and sports fans care about the sport. A Zenyatta win was what almost everyone was routing for and isn't that worth something for the sport, Zenyatta and her connections?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


...Blllaaaaame has won it!

While the Churchill lights where hot and bright and Trevor Denman ramped up his voice for a call into history (think Al Michael's asking if we believed in miracles), the curtain abruptly fell on Zenyatta's Hollywood ending.

That's horse racing. And Blame joins the ranks of Touch Gold and Birdstone as spoilers of history and the possibility of horse racing taking over the sports page for at least one day.

But who knows, maybe the collective sports mind will pay attention despite the ending that came up just a neck short. One thing fans and gamblers alike should be able to agree on is that Zenyatta is a fantastic Thoroughbred and a true champion. As usual she ran up to her competition and sent us all away winners - whether we cashed a ticket or not.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Breeders' Cup Saturday

Of course I mentioned four winners in yesterday's blog, but didn't play any of them straight up or hit them in an exotic betting. On to expectations for Saturday.

Juvenile Turf

The Europeans were shut out yesterday, which makes me wonder if horses like Manatoba and Master of Hounds will follow suit by under preforming? Of these two I like Master of Hounds better for a least a piece of the action. Deciphering Dreams is interesting in the fact that he refused to go through an opening and had to alter course in his first stakes try - finishing third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim. Pluck will have a lot of ground to make up, if he wants a top four finish. But the one I like the best is Soldat, who regressed off a big stakes win at Saratoga on a yielding Belmont course. He should rebound here for the win.


As noted yesterday, the best part of the Churchill's dirt track was towards the middle. The F&M Sprint also showed the value of previously winning at Churchill as Dubai Majesty was an easy winner. Cash Refund, Riley Tucker, Atta Boy Royand Warrior's Reward have all won under the Twin Spires and will come from the middle of the track with Cash Refund probably going off at the highest price of all. All this being said Smiling Tiger gets my nod for the win coming for the east to the dirt. Contrarian, I know.

Turf Sprint

What a great way to kick off a Pick 6...yikes. As it should be, there is lots of speed to contend with over the 5 furlongs. Can any one horse hold through a 22 second quarter and 45 second half? Most likely not. The two most likely beneficiaries of a red, hot pace are Chamberlain Bridge and Silver Timber. Chamberlain Bridge likes to win and likes to win at Churchill. If he can get first run off the rail, he'll be tough. Since being claimed by Chad Brown, Silver Timber hasn't done much wrong winning 6 of his last 8 races. I like them both with Central City who will throw down a sub 22 second quarter and then go as long as he can.


The Breeders' Cup was not kind to chalky runners yesterday, so why should it be so on Saturday - take a stand against Uncle Mo on this stance alone. In the Filly Juvenile, Awesome Feather and R Heat Lightning basically ran around the track together off the rail while finishing one, two. The three most likely candidates - besides the chalk - are Boys At Tosconova, J. B.'s Thunder and Stay Thirsty. Box them all and cheer for something.

The Mile

For my full take on The Mile follow this link to Goldikova's Three-Peat: Are Your a Skeptic or True Believer. In short it comes down to Goldikova and Proviso. Something tells me Bill Mott is going to have a big day on Saturday.

Dirt Mile

The only way I can figure this race is like this: Mad Flatter takes to the front in the three-path, keeping Tizway to his inside or forcing him to go out and around him. Here Comes Ben and Thisskyhasnolimit bide their sweet time in mid-pack waiting to make a move. Toss at his post and cross your fingers last year's Vineyard Haven and Gayego doen't show up.


Europeans may finally turn the tide, maybe not. No Arc winner has doubled his/her win into a Breeders' Cup victory. Workforce may be special, but I think he is up against too much history, no matter how special he may be. If this race falls together for one horse, it's Al Khali. There really is no pace horse here and Al Khali may dictate soft easy fractions of 25, 51, 1:16, etc. and prove hard to catch. He and Winchester may just trade punches one more time heading to the wire together - damn the Euros.


Zenyatta's final run into history, right? If not her, then who? Haynesfield is on the muscle and appears ready to carry his speed a classic distance one more time - drawing outside Quality Road helps his chances greatly. Blame sits right in the middle of the track and owns three wins from four Churchill starts and will be Zenyatta's main challenge from off the pace.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thoughts on Friday's Breeders Cup

No picks, just some impressions of Friday's Breeders' Cup races....


Is it possible to have a speed duel in a 1 3/4 marathon? Sure if Eldaafer and Gabriel's Hill decide to go at it early. If one defers, there's a chance for a loose-on-the-lead type clicking off 25-26 second quarters around three turns. I like Gabriel's Hill to do just that at some pretty hefty odds. With all these Breeders' Cup races Churchill experience does count and A.U. Miner and Prince Will I Am both will bring big prices to the table if they can pounce on some tiring speed up front.

Juvenile Turf

Big improvement or proven form is the main question here with several foreign invaders tossed in for confusion. Winter Memories will answer both questions with another big effort. In her last, she seemed to win for fun coming six wide. Allure d'Amour ran a few ticks faster than Winter Memories will registering a very similar Beyer speed figure coming off a maiden score - of course she is breaking from the grandstand this time. Kathmanblu and More Than Real are stakes placed and looked to be the main closing threats along with chalky 'Memories. Finally Tale Untold looks battle-tested and beat 18 of 19 competitors in her last while gaining late.

Filly and Mare Sprint

This tricky race can only be parred down to five for me: Champagne d'Oro beat a decent Test field at Saratoga with ease. Her latest fourth place finish at Keenland was simply a tune up for this. Dubai Majesty loves Churchill with three wins from six starts, but has yet to win at the tricky seven furlong distance. Friday may be her day. Informed Decision is likely to reach her highest odds this year and she simply relishes the seven furlong distance, winning seven of eleven. The deftly managed Rightly So is 7-3-1 from 11 starts and 3-for-3 at seven furlongs; her last a front-running romp at the Spa. Whether or not Secret Gypsy goes, Rightly So could actually have the front to herself.

Juvenile Filly

Pace will not be the question here. There will be plenty of competition for the front and either a very strong-willed two-year-old will lead them all the way around or more likely a mid-pack or deep closer will come flying late. Awesome Feather intrigues me the most since horses coming off the deep, sandy track at Calder usually put up slower times and can be vastly underrated - even if they are 5-for-5 like Awesome Feather. According to Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch neither R Heat Lighting nor Tell a Kelly looked comfortable over the Churchill strip this week, so I'm tossing two of the chalkier prospects. Off of her Frizette win, A Z Warrior may be the favorite, and is almost a must use off that last effort. Coming from the other end of spectrum, Richard Dutrow had a 13-length maiden winner Believe in A.P. cruise at Philly Park on October 9. Will she be an all of sudden champ or just a chump filling the field?
Indian Gracey gets favorable post number 1. She is a threat to hit the front and just keep going here. Delightful Mary has made a very favorable impression working on dirt for the first time after two Woodbine synthetic track wins. A relatively unknown trainer/jockey combination and lack of dirt racing experience will provide high odds for anyone willing to take a shot.

Filly and Mare Turf

Midday is one of several terrifying European invaders. She seems push-button in winning three straight Group 1 wins. Play against her at your own risk. For some reason I am attracted t0 the chances of Eclair de Lune - a foreign invader that won the coveted, Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington's European-like turf. You'll get a price for her. Harmonious seems to have a lot to overcome despite her talent - facing older competition for the first time and stepping out an eighth of a mile longer. Too much for me.

Ladies Classic

A two-horse race for me - one leading early or one coming late. Life at Ten has worked extremely well since her Grade 1 smash, winning Belmont's Beldame easily. The one-hole could be problematic, unless pilot Johnny V. saves all the ground, only to swing out late to win. Blind Luck will simply take her time and lope around until the real running starts on turn for home. Impressive win at Churchill in May.

Important Note: In looking at Churchill's racing charts the last three days, the middle of the track - both long and short, on the dirt - is the place to be. Horses are consistently winning in the two-, three- and four-path. Unless track maintenance plays with the track this weekend, the rail is not the place to be.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Many Times is Enough?

A curious thing happened during last Friday's card at Belmont. Among the splintered fields with main track only entrants abounding from four races being rained off the turf, there came the potential for one horse to become a beaten favorite...again.

This unlikely candidate numbered 15 in your program actually was coming off a year plus layoff and gunning for six straight loses as the favorite - amazingly four of these loses came at odds under a dollar. Allow me to repeat, this five-year-old son of Unbridled Song's had lost at odds of 80 cents on a dollar, 80 cents again, 90 cents and 20 cents. Then in his last start of 2009 he drifted all the way up to almost 2-1 as part of an entry, but the result was the same - defeat.

I wonder is this some sort of record? Karma induced defeat? High-powered connections of Darley and Albertrani just not knowing when to give up or give in? What I do know is that the public, the betting pool, has continually been fooled by this well-bred, good looking steed named Unbridled's Heart.

In his first start way back in May of 2008, he showed more than just heart. Unbridled's Heart blew away a decent field of maidens over a good racing surface going 1 1/16 miles. He won by double digits and posted a triple digit Beyer. Impressive to say the least. Since then this lightly raced horse ( 1 win, 2 seconds and 3 thirds in six lifetime starts) has broken poorly, just missed twice and gave it up after holding a clear lead on a slow-paced nine furlong race at the Spa.

So there he was sitting at 65 cents on a dollar in a four horse field, the only entrant there for the main track. My eyes lit up. Now here's a chance to cash, but with only three contenders to choose from, I didn't go heavy on a win ticket. I simply signaled eventual winner Mad for Smarty going off as second choice at almost 3-1, in a modest Pick 3. Unfortunately, I didn't get to the payoff as I missed on one of the three races in the sequence. Unbridled's Heart finished an OK second, but yet again didn't hit the winner's circle.

A few days later, it still makes me wonder if Unbridled's Heart will roll out as the betting choice, once again. Sure he's always in the money, but clearly he is a bet against on a win ticket. When will the public learn on this overbet underachiever? Or better yet, when will I cash on such a proposition? If you can't get off a now six-time beaten favorite, you should pick another hobby....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Playing Favorites

Usually playing short-priced horses too many times is a recipe for disaster. Since favorites only win 30-35% of the time, you're bound to lose most of the time. Maybe you'd lose more often searching for better odds, but the expectations of winning that comes with low odds will be enough to drive you nuts when you start to lose more often than you win.

That being said, my initial Handicapper's Corner post on Thorofan is all about playing the favorite, Secret Gypsy, in Delaware Park's Endine Stakes on Saturday. For more on my "supposed" insight just click away Thorofan, Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Travers' Day Pick Four

Race 9 - Grade III Victory Ride Stakes for fillies

Beyondallboundarys– tactical speed and steady improvement in last three races, Amoss ain’t coming for nothing

Katy Now – now horse, ready to fire fresh on cut back in distance

Race 10 - Grade I Ballerina - wide open affair

Rightly So – gets the rail, off two excellent races, 2-for-2 at distance and fast works

Warbling – totally missed break in last and still ran well, should rate her back for one run

Jessica Is Back – was able to rate in last and got a rest before big time try here, grade one winner

Informed Decision – sprint champion working up to big score?

Qualia – what’s not to like, has finished first or second in all six of her races

Pretty Prolific – has the ability to close from back of pack if pace becomes too fast up front

Race 11 - Grade I King's Bishop for colts

D’Funnybone – five time stakes winner and four times seven furlong winner with two wins over the likely favorite Discreetly Mine (bounce candidate)

Bulldogger and Bank Merger are both stepping way up in class over impressive wins during their short careers, if either can win you get 5-1 or better

Race 12 - Travers' Stakes

Fly Down – should see a hot pace in front of him and has the ability to engulf the front runners with one strong move…the single

The $1 Pick Four Play: 7-9/1-6/3-5-6/8 for $36. Good luck with all your wagers!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Arlington All Stakes Pick 3 - Quickie

Quick and Easy


#1 Paddy O'Prado - has faced the best of his division on dirt and turf and is best on turf; single

Beverly D

All - since Tuscan Evening went down, the door is wide open here and I wouldn't be surprised if any of the ten entrants win


Two ways to go: 1) Real cheap, singling #6 Gio Ponti or 2) toss in #9 Tazeez, who likely gets a loose lead and could make every pole a winning one - either way it's a cheap play 1/All/6-9 costs you $20.

Good luck with your wagers!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saratoga Video Finally Completed - Enjoy!

A little more than a year in the making - actually the video footage sat on the shelf since August 2009 before I started editing this summer. I was hoping to have this ready by the Spa's opening weekend, but life, racing and betting got in the way.

I hope you enjoy this 7-minute plus video. Excuse some herky-jerky footage, as everything was shot hand-held without the use of a tripod.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pick Four Saratoga Jim Dandy/Diana Day

Let's get right to it...

Race 8 - NY-Bred Maidens, 1 1/16 Turf

Simply put these races - most of the time - go to the right connections. That being said Chingachgook is an obvious pick. This son of Empire Maker has been knocking on the door for Graham Motion in his last two, sits in the garden spot for new jock Leparoux, who excels on the turf. No trainer is hotter than Chad Brown, picking up his fourth win yesterday from only eight starts. Atitlan has some decent turf pedigree and has been working steadily towards this unveiling. Look no further....

Race 9 - Diana - Grade 1 F&M 1 1/8 Turf

Wow! You won't see many Grade 1 fields as tight and talented as this one. Each entrant has a graded stakes win with Proviso, Phola and Forever Together having multiple Grade 1 victories. I see two ways go, using the three top-tier fillies or mare listed above or hitting the "All" button. Call me chicken, but the "All" button is where I'm going. Just as an argument can be made against the rest of field, let me make a case for: My Princess Jess (win over the track an only a neck and half away from Proviso in last); Dynaslew (has awoken in last three with new trainer Seth Bezel and has potential to wire field); Shared Account (back-to-back top notch efforts) and Maram (did I mention she is trained by Chad Brown?) Dismiss any of these at your own risk.

Race 10 - Jim Dandy - Grade II - Colts 1 1/8

A field of nine that lacks the star power of Monmouth's Haskell and as I see it, a much easier race to handicap. A Little Warm and Miner's Reserve put up two of the best Beyer speed figures of all three-year-olds in their one-two finish in an optional claimer at Deleware. I like A Little Warm more since he doesn't need the front as much as Miner's Reserve and there looks to be several others that want the front in here. The classiest of all here is probably Fly Down. Besides his steadied Louisiana Derby run, he's won two and just missed in the Belmont Stakes.

Race 11 - $25,000 Claiming, 3YO and Up, 1 1/16 Turf

The definition of a difficult handicapping race - six last out winners from the first eleven entrants...whew. If I get this far, the three that will be on my ticket are: Chromospere goes for mediocre jockey turned crazy good trainer Rudy Rodriguez. You simply have to include this one off Rodriguez's recent success! Ticondero is two for his last three and you might get a price due to his trainer and his shipping in from Churchill. Although with Leparoux up, he could end up the favorite. British Banker is my top choice even though you have to go back to February for his last win. Going from an allowance starter to this level may even be considered a class drop and by the way, Chad Brown trains....

For those keeping track, that's a $1 Pick Four of: 1-5/ALL/5-9/1-3-9 for $84

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off to the Spa

Tomorrow has to Saratoga for the 16th straight year. I was hoping to have a 7-minute video on The Spa for your viewing pleasure, but it's only 90 percent done and I'm out of time...check back next week and it should be up. It's pretty good.

CCA Oaks - let's give two longer shots than even money favorite Devil May Care a long look.
  • Connie and Michael has every right to improve in her sixth lifetime start and third start off the layoff. Looks to turn the tables against the top choice and has the tactical speed to do so.
  • Acting Happy was absolutely determined to win the Black Eyed Susan in her last. Rick Dutrow brings her back off that race and scores 32 percent will such layoffs. If she is quick enough, she could give Devil May Care all kinds of problems, tracking just outside her flank.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Choosing What's Most Important

That's your charge - handicapper, gambler whatever you may call yourself - deciding what of the many, many pieces of information available is the most important in making your betting decisions. And that's just for one race! Playing multi-race wagers or deep exotics takes a replication of excellent effort several times over. It's no wonder the very best of us hit between 20 and 33 percent of the time. Maybe you'll get hot and just "see" the races for a limited time with multiple big ticket hits, but this will be followed by longer, colder streaks.

With so much numerical data packed into past performances, whether they hail from, Brisnet, Equibase or where ever, there is more than enough information to keep a handicapper busy for hours on end. The keys are to limit what information you'll use to determine winning wagers and what information you'll disregard. Knowing everything simply makes placing winning wagers more difficult.

If the above statement sounds counterintuitive consider this excerpt from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable:
"Show two groups of people a blurry image of a fire hydrant, blurry enough for them not to recognize what it is. For one group, increase the resolution slowly, in ten steps. For the second, do it faster, in five steps. Stop a point where both groups have been presented an identical image and ask each of them to identify what they see. The members of the group that saw fewer intermediate steps are likely to recognize the hydrant much faster. Moral? The more information you give someone, the more hypotheses they will formulate along the way, and the worse off they will be. They see more random noise and mistake it for information."

Sound familiar? What really do you need to know about a race to determine a winning wager?
  • Some pace information - who will take the lead? will she have company? does the pace scenario favor your pick or will he have to work against it?
  • Some rider/trainer stats - you can't dismiss a trainer that wins 33% with first time claimers, 28% off a long layoff or a jockey that moves a horse up on the turf. (An aside: great and well-know jockeys bring horse odds down, but don't necessarily get them to the winner's circle.)
  • Limited breeding info - does she have winning siblings on the turf? can he get 10 furlongs? does the sire have a high percentage of first-time winners?
  • Track bias if any exist - for instance hardly any horse held the lead at Monmouth yesterday (July 16) discounting all front-runners, period!
  • How much are you willing to bet?
Beyond this you must develop a system, you are comfortable with. Some may use speed numbers of some kind exclusively, track bias or some developed power rankings based upon their own inputed data. Does this make anyone a consistent winner? Hardly.

Check out the horse wagering pick websites and they'll give you up to four possible picks per race, then use those four picks to show you how much you could have won - if you somehow managed top put their four picks per race into a winning Pick 3, Pick 6 or even exacta tickets. It's bull...throw enough on the wall and see what sticks and then tout your winning shit! A simple Pick 4 using four picks per race is a $256 ticket for every buck.

Pick what's important, toss what's unnecessary, choose wisely and put yourself in a position to get lucky!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

TBA - WTF - The Solution Under Our Nose?

The subject of this post comes from Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance and other members will be posting their views to the questions below. These posts can be seen by clicking atop the blog roll to your left.

We all love Keenland, Del Mar and Saratoga; Will reduced racing dates, like Monmouth, be the future of live horse racing? Is a reduction of racing dates the best way to ensure Thoroughbred racing's future?

The answer to the above questions are maybe...and this comes from the blogger who suggested it.

Tracks (or should I write race-casinos) from Altoona, IA to Bossier City, LA to Erie, PA may already have the answer - slots or gaming supporting their purses. Even our neighbors north of the border have figured out a way to offer claimers almost double their asking price and maiden purses hovering around $70,000 at Woodbine Racing and Slots.

Of course this takes a population willing to put up with gaming/slots and a governing body able to pull it off. (Here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts where the Legislature meets almost 300 days a year, a gaming bill sits in committee with no current option to support the state's two horse racing facilities - one Thoroughbred and one Standard bred. And this comes almost 15 years after two casinos were built in neighboring Connecticut carting thousands of Massachusetts residents and gambling/entertainment dollars south of their state border everyday.)

The math for gaming-supported racing is not hard to follow. A percentage of said gaming dollars goes to purses, greater purses attract more horsemen looking for a living and owners for a return on their investments, more horses means bigger, more competitive fields which attracts more bettors and ultimately translates into more handle, more revenue back to the horsemen, the state and the track. Does anybody lose here?

For those states without the guts to bring gaming in, Monmouth's plan - reducing dates to increase purses and revenue - is the best way to ensure a tomorrow. As it stands right now, Monmouth is on a pace to pull in the same total handle as it did in 2009 in half the racing dates. This means average daily handle is twice what is was last year. How many entertainment business do you know that can generate such equal revenue in half the time?

Of course Monmouth's great gamble comes at a cost. Their purses now average almost $700,000 a race day more than last year and the track will offer about $17 million more in purses to generate the same handle. In addition, with only 50 racing dates over a longer stretch of time, the average Joes working the windows, cleaning the facility and possibly even those along the backstretch will have less days of earning pay.

The tracks with short meets like Del Mar, Keenland and Saratoga have history and destination on their side. The racing in each of these venues is top-notch and bettors flock to the track or to their simulcast outlets or computers to bet the higher quality of their racing.

What other everyday tracks like Suffolk Downs or Aqueduct or even Santa Anita, without any casino dollars coming in the near future, have to do is to make their tracks destinations through either shorter seasons, limited days, greater promotion and heck even improvement in customer service and experience. Of course getting someone to travel by the East Boston gas tanks or the into the cold of a New York City winter is a little tougher than looking out at the mountain backdrop that is Santa Anita, which has its great share of history on its side.

Finally even racetracks with casino/slot action should limit their race dates to encourage fans to come out and see the "event" that is horse racing. Rolling it out daily, as the industry did in the less competitive times of its heyday in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, is one thing. But running a field of seven, $12,500 maidens on a Wednesday afternoon when most people work, don't care and find it easier to buy a lottery ticket, is another thing all together.

Like Monmouth other states should bite the bullet and try something new like limiting dates, working interstate, if need be, to develop a circuit of racing or supply purses that bring quality horses and people' gambling dollars out. For horse racing will exist in some form or another 30 years from now. It's up to racetrack owners, state governments and the horsemen to figure out a better model to deliver a quality product to its handicappers and gamblers.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rock Stars Get Rock Star Treatment

At the bequest of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance I will put my feelings down on whether or not Jess Jackson deserves or should demand greater purses when his prized filly, Rachel Alexandra races. Other opinions will be posted throughout the day at the TBA webpage, which you can reach by clicking on the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance atop the blog roll on your left.

Right or wrong, Rachel Alexandra's connections will push purses whenever and where ever they decide to race her. While some may feel that is unfair or outside the "normal" way Thoroughbreds run for top money, it's all about demand baby.

Here are several reasons why Jess Jackson will simply be handed or request higher purses:

  • Rachel Alexandra draws crowds, which in turn draws money to the track that offers the purse. Could Oaklawn have recouped its $1 million purse for Rachel and Zenyetta, probably not, but the track would have received more than $1 million in free publicity throughout the country and in the long run this would have been good for their business.
  • Rachel Alexandra is one of the few Thoroughbreds to transcended our beloved sport and make it into sports pages and onto SportsCenter whenever she runs. This draws attention to the filly and the sport in general, which is never a bad thing. All horse racing wagering outlets gain greater business - simulcast, live and on-line - when she runs.
  • Which came first, the offers for more purse money or the demand by Jackson? Maybe it doesn't matter, but if the offers were made (by Jackson holding out on his decision to run), why shouldn't he 1) run Rachel Alexandra for more money and 2) continue to make the demand? This is like saying professional athletes shouldn't take the many millions owners pay them...come on, this is America!
Just one bloggers opinion...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm In

OK so I'm in at the TBA - not "Too Be Announced," but the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance. I'm not sure what this says about the group - allowing me in that is - but I'm happy to be aboard.

Sorry I haven't posted lately. Blame it on the late nights watching the Celtics - ugh - and the close of another the school year. (When I'm not handicapping or blogging I'm a public school principal.) Now that the Celtics are toast and tomorrow will be my last day of school, I'll be geared up from the first day of summer to the close of Saratoga.

In the works is a video I'm putting together on Saratoga. I hope to have it up before the opening day at the Spa. I'll be on the back lawn for this year's opening...anyone else going to be there???

Finally, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! And thanks again for allowing me to join the group.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Triple Crown Reflections

  • Super Saver gets super ride
  • Best betting angle - rider changes
  • Once again possibly the best horse - Eskendereya like Quality Road - sidelined before Derby Day
  • Huge exotic payouts through Triple Crown cards
  • Belmont to Travers victory for Drosselmeyer?
  • Lookin at Lucky has the inside track for best three-year-old
  • Borel approaching folk hero status at Churchill and beyond
  • Firsts for good guys - Smith and Mott and newcomer Garica
  • Back to the reality of finding a winner from $35,000 claimers on Pick 3 and 4 tickets

Friday, June 4, 2010

Belmont Stakes on the Cheap

  • Here's my take on the Belmont Stakes and the five other stakes races on the card with some very affordable and quite hittable multi-race wagers.

Race 6 Woody Stephens Stakes, 7 furlongs for 3 YOs
  • A compact but fairly talented field here. For me it comes down simply to the horse I believe is the fastest - Eightyfiveinafifty. Take away the Churchill mud and the bizarre Whirlaway Stakes in which his bridle broke and he ran off the track, and he's run two triple-digit Beyer scores. While D'Funnybone is 3-for-3 at the tricky, 7 furlong distance and doesn't need the lead, Eightfiveinafifty may force his hand to go along at a rapid pace - one that he may not be able to keep up with. Derby entrant, Discreetly Mine, is the wild card.
Race 7 Just a Game, 1 mile turf for fillies and mares
  • Another compact field with a few stand outs...Speak Easy Gal is the price play at 7-2, if there is such a thing. Castellano, who excels on the turf, will likely play catch-me-if-you-can with a loose lead. Proviso, a two-time Grade I winner and against the boys no less in her last. Must respect. Phola has won three straight in going from allowance to grade three to grade two company with rising Beyers in each, which makes her tough to ignore.
Race 8 True North Handicap, 6 furlongs for older males
  • A crowded field that can be pared down to three contenders. Custom for Carlos brings his A-game just about every time and excels at this sprint distance. Strasbourg is an X-factor moving way up to Grade II company coming off a tough allowance loss at a mile. Trainer Albertrani wins at just about 25% second off a mid-layoff and you'll get at least double digit odds for this $450,000 purchase out of champion Friends Lake. Checklist rounds out the top three coming off a triple-digit score and a short rest. He'll either win by 10 lengths or lose by 25.
Race 9 Acorn, 1 mile for 3YO fillies
  • Really no standout in this division, so just about everyone is live here, but let me try to narrow it down to a little. Tanda goes from synthetic to dirt and west to east here, but owns the last two highest Beyers. Hollywood strip plays like dirt and trainer Dan Hendricks isn't bringing her all this way for nothing. While Seeking the Title dropped her rider during the Black Eyed Susan Stakes, she should not be faulted for this and Desormeaux comes right back to ride. Streaker from the powerful Phipps Stable has every right to improve off two, single-turn wins at Gulfstream and Belmont and could pass class test with flying colors. Not sure what to do with either Amen Hallelujah or Quiet Temper - both are inconsistent while showing flashes of brilliance. With blinkers on, Indian Burn should be included for deep tickets.
Race 10, Manhattan Handicap, 1 1/4 miles turf for older runners
  • Either everyone is in here or everyone is out except for one. I'm going with just the one because 11 entries are just too many to play. Gio Ponti, older turf champion, has yet to score this year, but has run two sneaky good races. He loves Belmont, winning and $3.5 million in the bank is enough for me to single here.
Race 11, Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 miles for 3YOs
  • No Derby or Preakness winners here, so a big evenly-matched field goes forward. I can see a case to be made for every hopeful except Dave in Dixie - overmatched, Stately Victor - overrated and Uptowncharlybrown - poorly breed for such a distance. I've been trying to get it down to less than four choices and if I could only pick one, it would be First Dude. He's the most likely candidate to go coast-to-coast ripping off 24 and change quarters along the way. Fly Down showed a great turn of foot in Dwyer and is most likely to inherit a lead at the top of the lane. Spangled Star has the breeding to get the job done and nothing else. Worth some sort of play at 30-1 or greater. Trying to like Ice Box, Drosslemeyer and Make Music for Me, but at this time will probably include the chalk, Ice Box, just in case.
The Picks:
  • Pick 3 (Races 6-9) - a cheap pay looking for $50 plus return: 1-5/1-3-5/2-8 for $8
  • Pick 6 - an affordable triple single play 1/1-3/2/2-4-5/1/2-5-6-11 for $48
  • Pick 4 (Races 8-11) affordable with big payoff potential 2-4-8/2-4-5-11/1/2-5-11 for $36
Good luck with all your Belmont Day wagers!

Early Scratches Changes to Wagers
  • Pick 3 (Races 6-9) 1-5/1-3/3-6-7-8-9 for $20
  • Pick 6 1/1-3/6-8/2-4-5/1/5-11 for $48
  • Pick 4 (Races 8-11) 3-6-8/2-4-6-8/1/2-5-11 $36

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Preakness Pick

My father was fond of saying, "Don't make an easy job hard." Preakness pick is Super Saver. Here's why:

  • While his critics will be picking against him, say Calvin Borel led Super Saver through a perfect trip for the Derby, which made winning it easy, many horses get perfect trips and fail.
  • Derby winners have great success on Preakness day.
  • Here's where Pletcher and just about every other trainer's lightly raced schedule pays dividends - Super Saver will race for only the fourth time this calendar year.
  • Finally, Borel gets to pick and choose how he wants to go - if others go for the lead he can lay back, if no one goes for the front Super Saver has enough speed to win on the front end.
Really 5-2 would be a gift on Super Saver. I'll be playing him to win and placing him on top in exacta, trifecta and superfecta wheels. My spread will not be as wide, but I will offer myself just a bit of protection.

Preakness bets:

$10 exacta 8-12 - I like Dublin to step way up with Gomez aboard

$1 trifecta wheel 7-8/1-7-8-12/1-5-6-7-10-12 for $28 for a little protection in case it was the rider and not the horse in Lookin at Lucky's case

$1 superfecta wheel 8/1-7-12/1-5-6-7-10-12/2-5-6-9 for a $54 superfecta stab....

Good luck with all your Preakness wagers

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Movin' On Up

Here's two horses to consider in your Preakness bets off of less than stellar performances on Derby Day:
  • Garret Gomez, much maligned for his last two rides aboard Lookin at Lucky, gets aboard Dublin for the first time on Saturday. Gomez is much better suited to Dublin's late running style. D. Wayne Lukas' top runner moves up considerably based on this rider change and goes into my Preakness exacta and trifecta bets.
  • Jackson Bend simply got lost among the Derby throng. In a shorter field with an uncertain pace picture, he'll be much closer up and may either find himself loose-on-the-lead or tracking just off of Paddy O'Prado or whoever else wants the front.
Listed at 10-1 and 12-1 on the morning line, here are the most likely long shot candidates to hit the board. Bet on it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

One Step Up and One Step Back

Let's start with the step back...

I am pleased with my Derby handicapping. I targeted seven of the 20 horses to bet with Super Saver as my top choice. In addition, I had a $1 exacta wheel totaling $12 which paid out around $76. Not even close to Turk-like payouts, but I at least go my money back on all my Derby wagers.

As usual my handicapping outweighed my actual betting. In retrospect, I simply overspread my bets. If I had stayed with my top three choices - Super Saver, Ice Box and Paddy O'Prado - I would have hit the trifecta for sure. I had included Make Music for Me in some additional double and underneath wagers, so if only...but really such 20-20 betting is for losers.

Now a quick look forward...

Last year Rachel Alexandra beat the boys after skipping the Derby. While there have been other fresh faces who have worn a blanket of black-eyed Susans most Preakness success comes from running first in the Derby. For this reason I suggest either a five-horse exacta box ($20 for each dollar bet) made up of Super Saver, Lookin at Lucky, Dublin, Paddy O'Prado and Jackson Bend. If you're feeling a little lucky I'd further suggest a Super Saver over the rest of the Dery gang over the rest of the Derby gang plus Schoolyard Dreams, Caracortado and Yawanna Twist for $24 for each $1.

Just a few thoughts before the middle child of the Triple Crown trail.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How About a Hurricane Inspired Pick 4

Here's a last minute, all stakes Pick 4...

Humana Distaff:

Dr. Zinc - traveling too well of late to ignore
Warbling - big Beyer in last slop-run and 8-1
Informed Decision - in case she comes back to prior form
Cassidys Pride - huge step up and huge wet pedigree number, why not

Churchill Downs:

Country Day - another whose stock has gone up in slop - two 100 Beyers - and 15-1
Kensei - second off layoff for grade II winner
Musket Man - tough customer and held well in last year's sloppy Derby

Turf Classic - on the turf, off the turf, running on a bog???

Blues Street - gets the call for the single because I'll need lots of luck to get this far through the hail storms and he's raced well on all kinds of wet grass


Lookin At Lucky - best of the field may overcome post for win
Super Saver - track and slop success should not be discounted
Awesome Act - don't like him, but something tells me I need to include him at least on one bet

The play for $1: 1-2-3-7/2-11-12/7/1-4-16 for $36

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Channeling The Derby Fini - 2010

You (the few of you out there reading this) and me should have arrived at a Derby selection. If not now, then in a few hours or days. Or as Confucius is quoted, "And remember, no matter where you go, there you are."

So my question to you is, Where are you?

I know where I've landed, so let me tell you all about...

A mainstay of handicapping a race - besides finding the winner - is to eliminate the losers. The tosses where made in a previous post, but if you're too lazy to scroll down, let's review:

Homeboykris - 150-1 would be generous

Dublin - unfortunately yesterday's news

American Lion - fighting for the lead

Discreetly Mine - see American Lion

Sidney's Candy - see Discreetly Mine

Line of David - see Sidney's Candy

Stately Victor - somehow becoming overrated at 30-1

Dean's Kitten - forgotten and probably should be

Awesome Act - thrown shoe may have been least of his problems in Wood

A few more to toss:

Devil May Care - goes because Johnny V. is available to ride, sounds like an afterthought

Make Music for Me - last minute additions, Mine That Bird aside, usually don't hit the board

Backtalk - 24 lengths back in last two graded stakes, yikes

Jackson Bend - likable little horse, but finished 8 and 9 lengths behind in last two

Those that get in (at least on the superfecta tickets):

12 Conveyance - certainly won't win, but something tells me he hangs around for small piece

3 Noble's Promise - back and forth on this one, but huge wet pedigree makes me put him in for second, third or fourth

10 Paddy O'Prado - either upset threat or pretender, Desormeaux is riding very well these days

2 Ice Box - with all the upfront speed, somebody has to close late and pass tired horses

14 Mission Impazible - speed figures going the right way and may be forgotten Pletcher horse

1 Lookin At Lucky - sure tough post, but has overcome much adversity already - gets top spot on trifecta ticket

4 Super Saver - the pick - has romped in slop and at Churchill - with crafty rider Calvin Borel getting first run on tiring speed horses

Plays rain or shine:

$1 Exacta Wheel 2-4-10/1-2-4-10-14 for $12. This is a long shot special

$1 Trifecta Wheel 1-2-4/1-2-3-4-14/1-2-3-12-14 for $42. This is including Lookin At Lucky on top just in case

$1 Superfecta Wheel 4/1-2-3-14/1-2-3-14/1-2-3-14 $24. Keeping it simple

In case you're playing on Oaks Day - 82 and sunny, thank you very much...

Starting with Race 9

$1 Pick Three: 2-3-6-7-8/1/2-3-5-8-11-13 for $30.

I'm going against singling Blind Luck in the feature, Oaks and final leg and instead singling Setsuko in Race 10 - who trainer Richard Mandella was hoping to get into the Derby and who DRF's Mike Welsch thought galloped the best this week. The Alysheba also gets a big spread with hopes of Flying Private winning it and setting up a big score....

Good luck with all your wagers!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Draw and What It Means

The Derby draw had a few surprises with first and second choices, Lookin at Lucky and Sidney's Candy drawing posts one and twenty, respectively. To me, this means you need to find your winners somewhere else.

The problem with the rail is that 18 colts and a filly will tend to come crashing down upon the rail as they break from Churchill's chute and go by the grandstand for the first time. This means a horse and rider must go immediately to establish a racing position one or two away from the rail ahead of everyone else or have to drop back and wait to make a run through traffic. I love Garret Gomez, but I would feel more comfortable with Calvin Borel up against Churchill's rail. Another problem is Lookin at Lucky will load first, will be waiting a while in the Churchill gate and may not break all that alertly.

The problem with the far outside post is that you have 19 other horses inside you working for position and horse and rider must go to establish position somewhere in the middle of the track. Once the rider, in this case Joe Talamo aboard Sidney's Candy, pushes his steed, the horse may not be able to relax and could go through a sub-23 first quarter, which in turn could lead to a sub-46 second half, which would mean whoever is on the lead will be toast. While Big Brown had no trouble two years ago negogiating some quick fractions, he did so against substandard competition. This year's group is more closely stacked together with several speed horses willing to vie for or take the lead - Super Saver (post 4), Line of David (post 5) American Lion (post 7), Devil May Care (post 11), Conveyance (post 12) and Discreetly Mine (post 15) all break inside Sidney's Candy.

Even if it's just Conveyance going alone to the front, rider Martin Garcia could stay in the four-path and force Sideny's Candy wide on the first turn. Of course one, two or all seven could go for the front leaving Sidney's Candy wide or forcing him to rate - something he's yet to do.

If you like either or both Luckin at Lucky and/or Sidney's Candy, you'll have to swallow these poor posts and hope for racing's best luck around both turns. While Big Brown was the first Derby champ to win from the grandstand, it's been a long time since the one-hole produced a winner. In fact in the last 21 runnings, there have been just two fourth place finishers (Jazil and Limehouse) and one third place finisher (Risen Star) coming from the one post.

Looking at the post position draw, I'd have to say my top five choices in no particular order are Super Saver (4), Lookin at Lucky (1), Ice Box (2), Conveyance (12) and Mission Impazible (14). More on these choices to follow either Thursday or Friday in my final Channeling of the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Channeling The Derby Part 2 - 2010 - The Tosses

For me it doesn't matter where these horses break from, who their sires were, who trains or rides them or what I thought about them two days, weeks or months ago - it's time to present my tosses. These are the colts that won't make any of my Derby tickets - multi- or single-race exotic wagers.

I'm going to start with the most difficult cut of all. This was a horse I was high on, watch break his maiden at Saratoga and had Derby dreams of: Dublin. Sometimes it is hard to separate the heart from the head, whether you're rooting for or betting on a Thoroughbred of your choosing. By Afleet Alex and trained by the once-veneable, D. Wayne Lukas I really thought Dublin would show up in a big way at Oaklawn's Derby preps. Unfortunately the excuses were bountiful, the rider was changed and then changed back and the horse just didn't pass muster in the Arkansas series. It is hard for me to fathom, but I won't include Dublin on any Derby tickets. The first cut is always the toughest.

The rest of the tosses with far less expository text....

Sidney's Candy - The second toughest cut....I've got him in a small future bet at 33-1, so I don't feel an overwhelming need to use one of the many, many pacesetters in my Derby Day wagers (I know Iisted him in my top five a few days, but things have changed, call it enlightenment, if you like)

Line of David - front runners aplenty and he isn't the fastest of the bunch

Noble's Promise - lots of grit, but not enough talent to hit the board...might not even go

Rule - working poorly and doesn't seem to have enough umph to make 10 furlongs... connections are deciding whether to enter him

American Lion - ran back to two-year-old form in Illinois, too bad two-year-old form won't hold up on May 1

Discreetly Mine - ran one big one and followed it with a fourth-place fade, another not likely rating and helping ensure stalkers/closers rule the day

Stately Victor - besides runner up Street Sense, who already had established dirt form at Churchill, the Blue Grass has become a joke since Polytrack was installed

Awesome Act - sorry I'm not sold on his European form and Gotham win was against a bunch of N1X allowance types

Dean's Kitten - really?

Homeboykris -he's in and out of all of my bets

There they are - eleven to discard in exactas, trifectas, pick threes and fours. None of this bunch scares me in the least. Of course there will be some reshuffling of the Derby deck over the next three days with decisions on Interactif, Rule, Devil May Care and even possibly Blind Luck, which will affect others like Backtalk and Make Music for Me. So after the Wednesday afternoon draw, I will reveal the ten I will bet in some fashion. I feel at peace. More on that after I hit my gong a few more times, chant and burn some incense.....

Something or Nothing...You Decide

Just want to make sure you knew Calvin Borel had five winners during Churchill Downs' opening day, including an upset winner in the Derby Trial. Calvin's triumphs at Churchill are many, and his ride on Derby Day is Super Saver.Hurricane Ike Wins The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial
Hurricane Ike cruises home in the Derby Trial after a rail skimming ride from Borel

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Channeling The Derby Part 1 - 2010

I wrote the following last year and like it so much, I'm rolling it out again with just a few changes for this year's Derby...

"With just over a week to go my process of picking a Kentucky Derby winner has begun.

The build up to the first Saturday in May comes with so much hype and hyperbole eliminating the static in search of the Derby winner goes far beyond handicapping. To land on the right horse when almost all of America is a horse racing fan takes more than skill, guile and speed figures. It takes karma, chi, balance, harmony and peace in a less than peaceable world. I believe to pluck a Derby winner from a full field with humongous betting pools, I have to work as conduit and channel my strength, energy and ignorance towards a single-minded goal.

This takes work and should not be left to the final minutes before post, although I've seen that work from time to time...for some else. I start by reading everything and believing only some of it. I sort through morning workouts - most which will be good, some fantastic and a couple dreadful. There are no odds or payouts resulting in morning works, but this does not mean they should be completely disregared. Since I can't make it to Churchill to see Derby contenders work, I rely on The Daily Racing Form's Michael Welsch and his daily insights to help inform me...just a little.

I also know that any and all analysis will need adjustment based upon post, rider changes and weather. Better to be prepared when conditions require last minute changes, than to be caught flat-footed.

Currently I am pouring over DRF past performances in the first part of my channeling process. This is what I know:
  • There will be at least ten automatic tosses
  • With connections sending horses that are better qualified for allowance company (hello Homeboykris) or another surface besides dirt (hello Paddy O'Prado) there is a chance for real catastrophe at worst and traffic trouble at best
  • With so much emphasis on Eskendereya, there will be a bevy of horses at choice odds, ensuring big exotics, even if the early favorite wins"
Now, back to the future...At this point in the game I am zeroing in on my top choices - those handful of horses that will sit atop exotic wagers both vertical and horizontal. These are colts I just can't seem to ignore or live without. They are in no particular order:
  • Super Saver - third off the layoff here while also showing lots of talent as a junvenile...a win at Churchill doesn't hurt either.
  • Sidney's Candy - probably the most improved three-year-old that was on nobody's radar three months ago...big question here is will he rate? or does he have to?
  • Eskendereya - two monster performances make him the favorite going in, but do wins against a handful of also rans make him vulenerable?
  • Luckin at Lucky - has found lots of traffic in his three-year-old races, but has push-button excelerration...a must for any Derby winner.
  • Endorsement - sure he beat a probable miler in Conveyance in Sunland Derby, but he posted one of the few triple-digit Beyers in a Derby prep which means either another monster performance awaits or a bounce to last...I'm willing to take a shot with him.
In Part Two I will attempt to sort out exacta, trifecta and superfecta plays while sitting in the Lotus position....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Derby Must

For any interested handicapper or just Derby fan, The Daily Racing Form's clocker reports by Mike Welsch are a must - brief, informative and always telling us something.

Last year Welsch pegged Rachel Alexandra as the best worker of the week (of course for the Oaks and not Derby). He added that Rachel Alexandra would have been his Derby bet had she gone in the race. Click on Derby Workout Reports under Other Views to check it out!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tale of Two Lexingtons

I think we all can agree that today's Lexington Stakes, run thousands of miles and hundreds years apart from the historical battle that set the course for The United States of America, holds little significance for the current state of three-year-old Thoroughbreds gunning for the Kentucky Derby.

In fact, the one horse that can guarantee himself a place in the Derby starting gate with a win - Connemara - is a synthetic surface specialist whose trainer, Todd Pletcher, has yet to venture off the fake stuff with this son of Giant's Causeway and already has, I don't know, 12 Derby starters. Connemara, a tepid 5-1 co-second choice, is more likely to miss the board than hit it today.

This ragtag group of three-year-olds may remind one of the disheveled, disorganized and dangerous bunch of farmers-turned-patriots who marched towards Lexington properly pissed-off at their pompous, parliamentary adversaries in the year 1775. Of course the stakes and circumstances were just a little different that day 235 years ago, yet both had represented a stop on the march towards something more.

In two days, the people of Lexington and Concord will replay the events of that fateful day - tying up traffic and confusing lost tourists along the way. At about the same time all of the Lexington Stakes crew will be eating hay or oats preparing for something quite different from the greatest day in racing.

If I do play the Lexington Stakes in a multi-race exotic, it will go something like this in Pick Three: a single, two deep and then the all button in the Lexington Stakes. Maybe the impression of Stately Victor has me spooked, but just as I can draw a line through all the Lexington runners, I can also make a case for just about every horse winning. And why not try to be alive with all at the tail end of Pick Three? Let's see if I can get there...

Race 7 - OC 80k/N3W, 1 1/6 miles - This looks to be a chalky affair to won between Deal Breaker, Forest Attack and Canyon Drive.
  • As a six-time winner Forest Attack must be taken seriously winning and placing in minor stakes at Turfway Park and just missing at Keenland last year going six furlongs. Canyon Drive is stepping up in class, but may just get loose on the lead here, if Final Count isn't ready or willing to go with him coming off a six month layoff. My hope lands with Deal Breaker having just a bit more class than his rivals, saving ground patiently at the rail and making a bold run turning for home to take this event as 2-1 favorite. I'm guessing his trainer Mike Mitchell has brought this five-year-old from California for more than just a run around the track.
Race 8 - Giant's Causeway, 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf - In which we hope for a bomb, but take safety with co-favorite.
  • Canadian Ballet is fast period. She is the fastest mare in here and will get a clear look at her competition coming from the far post. Her trainer, Linda Rice, excels in these turf events and if one of the three speed horses in this field are likely to hold on, it's Canadian Ballet. If I get through the first leg single, the real hope here is that Valentine Fever stoutly closes on three fading speed horses and picks up the pieces at 10-1 or greater. She's the only dead-closer in the field and if they go out under 22 seconds for the first quarter, she'll have a real chance. West Ocean presents the biggest danger, but I'm looking for her to bounce coming off a course-record performance off the funky Fair Grounds turf.
Race 9 - Lexington, 1 1/16 miles - The gates open and everyone has a chance...
  • As stated earlier, I will hit the all button here in a 12-horse field. But if you're interested in who I like the best it would come down to these three: Krypton for winning going away at Keenland in his last; Distorted Dave because everything John Sadler sends out lately should be bet; and Kettle River who might bounce back to his impressive win two back after disappointing in the Sham.
I'll give you two Pick Threes because after writing all that, I am suddenly on the fence on what I'll do.

Scenario one: 1/2-8/All for $24
Scenario two: 1-2-4/2-7-8/1-3-11 for $27

Good luck with your wagers!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Early Derby Line

Here's The Bada Bing Earliest of Derby Lines:

Horse Bada Bing Line
Eskendereya 2-1
Lookin at Lucky 4-1
Sidney's Candy 6-1
Super Saver 8-1
American Lion 8-1
Endorsement 10-1
Ice Box 10-1
Mission Impazible 12-1
Noble's Promise 12-1
Interactif 15-1
Stately Victor 15-1
Dublin 18-1
Conveyance 18-1
Line of David 20-1
Drosselmeyer 20-1
Rule 25-1
Discreetly Mine 25-1
Dean's Kitten 30-1
Awesome Act 35-1
Paddy O'Prado 40-1
Homeboykris 50-1
Uh Oh Bango 50-1

Horses in italics may either pass or get into the Derby gate late. A possible defection of Noble's Promise would open the door for Uh Oh Bango and Drosslemeyer would find himself in the Derby gate with a win in the Lexington, knocking Uh Oh Bango back out. In a few weeks we'll see how close I've come to the real deal...

Really no surprises here and much will be made of the works before May 1, which I really don't use in my handicapping. Last year, I factored in Friesan Fire's quick work, making him my Derby favorite. The really quick three furlong work reminded me of Hard Spun's pre-Derby work a few years ago, and I thought if it worked for one Larry Jones-trainee it would work for another. Man, I was wrong. One thing to consider when factoring in workouts, either slow or fast, is trainer Jack Van Berg's words following Alysheba's slow works, "Time only matters when you're serving it."

On the other hand, I would factor in the works report on

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Derby Prep Upsets Mean What?

So the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes upset your Derby Dreams apple cart with $82 and $36 plus winners?

My answers are well, yes and's why:

Dublin and Super Saver both ran OK. In his second start of the year and reunited with regular rider, Cavil Borel, Super Saver stalked well for the first time in his career. He came to, but could not get by eventually winner, Line of David. It was an improvement off a now, sour-looking Tampa Derby with Super Saver the only horse in the top four to move forward off that race.

Dublin was looking like his was going by the top two with his regular rider, Terry Thompson, in the saddle. He really had no excuse this time. Like Super Saver he might have distance limitations. At this point, without benefit of post draws and weather conditions, I'm likely to use both underneath in Derby bets.

The Blue Grass was a debacle with one-time winner, Stately Victor, coming through at long odds - the longest in Blue Grass history. Stately Victor will likely get the same hot pace to follow at Churchill that he got today, but can he maintain his form on dirt? He is by champion Ghostzapper.

Odysseus, Make Music for Me, Pleasant Prince, Akenite and Interactif all disappointed mightily. Of these five, I was looking for strong runs from Make Music for Me and Interactif with hopes of putting them into Derby wagers. On the flip side, the word was out on Paddy O'Prado who was bet down for morning line, 12-1 to about 5-1. Desormeaux had the race stolen aboard the turf specialist with a 1/16 of a mile to go before Stately Victor marched on by. I kind of like Paddy O'Prado to fill out trifecta and superfecta tickets, if he gets in.

Today's preps did nothing to dent my, and probably everyone else's, top three: Lookin at Lucky, Eskendereya and Sidney's Candy. The next three weeks will consist of what I like to call, Channeling the Derby. More on that later...

For the record, my future bets are win wagers on Sidney's Candy at 33-1 and Rule at 20-1 and an exacta box of Lookin at Lucky/Interactif/Super Saver paying out between about $300- $1,000 for a $1 bet.