Sunday, January 11, 2015

Post Race Analysis for Race Day 10 January 2015; The G3 Sham Stakes at SA

A good handicap and a well crafted bet constructed gives me reason to celebrate with a meaty stick and two fingers of bourbon.  Unfortunately, I'm off the cigars and bourbon as I round myself into the best shape I have been in since the late 90's, but I appreciate the lovely Dita having a cigar to celebrate winning a trifecta based on the Turk's input.

Today was very similar to last week's blog posting, where a heavily favored but not yet fully proven chalk took on a field of mixed quality.  Last week it was El Kabeir in The Jerome, and this week it is Calculator in The Sham.  A sprinter going two turns and running away with it:  I question this field as much as I questioned The Jerome's.

Calculator made an impressive run up just before the top of the stretch and ran away with it.  Mile and quarter, I dunno but don't think so.  Two turns, mile to mile and eighth and boy did he move fluidly under Trujillo.

Take a look!

What did I do well:
  • Had Rock Shandy covered into Place.  The bettors had him 7th on the board.  I saw sharp work at SA.
  •  I had Pioneerof the West covered for Show.  The bettors had him 6th on the board.  Good SA pedigree and big Tomlinson at the distance.
  •  I tossed the 3rd horse on the tote board, Unblunted
  •  I tossed the 4th horse on the tote board, Hero Ten All.  

On the negative side of the ledger, I missed on St Joe Bay.  Looking back at the PPs I can make the pace scenario case that breaking along the rail he'd speed to the front and try to hold on.

Pre race I proposed the following:

$0.10 Supers and $1 Tri's are on the menu.

We could Single Calculator in something like this:  $1 Tri:  7- OVER 2-3-5-6 OVER 2-3-5-6-8= $16  This would have paid $110.40 or Net $94.40


$1 Tri:  2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-8= $68  This would have paid $110.40 or Net $42.40


$0.10 Superfecta:  2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-8 OVER 2-3-5-6-8=$16.80 BUST or ($16.80)

Betting the Turk cold would have cost you $100.80 but earned you $220.80 or $120 profit.  The ROI is pretty high and not worth calculating.  

Have fun friends, the Derby Trail is about to begin.  

Turk Out!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Sham Stakes G3 at Santa Anita

Sham on the far outside  at the Start of the Belmont Stakes with the Great Secretariat at the far inside

Define greatness.

 Greatness is assigned by in our society to so many things.  In the caption above I assigned the adjective of Great to Secretariat.   Was Sham "great"?  His career highlight was a Grade 1 win in the Santa Anita Derby, a Place in the Wood Memorial, an approximate  2:00 Kentucky Derby Place and a Place in the Preakness.  He was a physically large horse and imposing. I'm calling him a damn fine horse, worthy of remembrance, but in my humble opinion not great. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being in the class and caliber of Sham.  He will be remembered long after Super Saver for example, no offense intended at all to the Winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby, but neither great or particularly memorable.  

Today's Sham Stakes may or may not have a great amongst its field.  About the only way we'll know is to watch them today and over the next several months and see if any of them will pass the Turk Litmus test.

Let's get after it!

Calculator, the Florida bred Maiden trained by Peter Miller, has been training very sharply since mid November after missing the Breeders' Cup.  He ran second to American Pharaoh losing by a combined 8 lengths.  Miller is 6% off of a layoff this long, is 5% in Graded Stakes and he has Trujillo up, with the two of them 23% at SA. Tepid chalk, regardless of the fact I appear to have him singled in BLUE.

I have a three horse group ranked just behind Calculator:  Rockinatten, Papacoolpapacool and Rock Shandy fill out this group, with Pioneerof the West possibly deserving.

Rockinatten is also 1st off a long layoff, and first with new Trainer, Doug O'Neill.  O'Neill is 10% with first timers, 2% off the break, and somehow 2% in Graded Stakes over past year.  First time racing at Great Race Place for the Florida bred son of High Cotton.

Papacoolpapacool is a lame name, just for the record.  The Temple City son tries dirt for first time, with Trainer Jeff Mullins 5% turf to dirt and no graded stakes wins in past year.  A nice :58  1 out of 100 hand ride bullet training session on 28 December.

Rock Shandy (Peter Miller has three horses today with Rock Shandy and a tosser, St Joe Bay) tries dirt for the first time as well and also  has been training nicely at SA.

Pioneerof The West, trained by Mark Casse, returns to dirt after a clunker on turf at the start of this meet in late December.  Casse is 16% turf to dirt and 13% in Graded Stakes over past year.

At my own peril I'm tossing from contention Unblunted and St Joe Bay and I may consider Hero Ten All in Superfecta bets.  Hero Ten All, also trained by Jeff Mullins has closed exceptionally well and I see him still coming at the end of the race, maybe nipping some of the higher rated horses for the Exotic fourth place and possibly Show.

So, what to do with this?

$0.10 Supers and $1 Tri's are on the menu.

We could Single Calculator in something like this:  $1 Tri:  7- OVER 2-3-5-6 OVER 2-3-5-6-8= $16


$1 Tri:  2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-8= $68


$0.10 Superfecta:  2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-7 OVER 2-3-5-6-8 OVER 2-3-5-6-8=$16.80

I'm not sure I like any of them but I'll reserve the right to watch the tote board and make a few tweaks based on any tweets from horse players I know and trust regarding the appearance of the animals in the paddock and post parade.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Post Race Analysis for The Jerome at Aqueduct

El Kabeir winning Jerome: Photo by NYRA/Adam Coglinese

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  Saturday's handicap was a good example of taking what a race offered, both in the handicap and with the bet construction.  OK, what do you mean by that dribble? I'm trying to say that this was a pretty easy race to decode and bet.  I think El Kabeir is a pretty nice horse, Cairo Prince I don't know, but a nice horse and the field had just a few competent runners and then a bunch of horses that had no business running in a graded stake. I gave out four possible exotic bets pre race and one Super and Tri would have won cash.  Let's recap from the pre race handicap....

a $0.1 Super:  7-9 OVER 4-7-8-9 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8-9 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8= $11.20.  The $2 Super paid $559.00 and the ten cent cashed $27.95.

7-9 OVER 4-7-8-8 OVER 1-4-7-8 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8 =$6.00 BUST ($6.00)

Trifecta:  $0.50  4-7-8-9 OVER 4-7-8-9 OVER 1-4-7-8-9= $18  (Bust $18)

Trifecta $1.00 7-9 OVER 4-7-8-9 OVER 1-4-6-7-8=$22 or $11 for a $0.50 lottery ticket which paid $90.75.

Just betting the four bets dumb would have returned $118.70 with a net return of $72.50.

As I said pre race, I was more interested in watching the race than having ROI, but I don't invest to lose so a nice 156% ROI on one race is icing on the cake.

So what went well?

  • I didn't value Ostrolenka as high as the bettors did.  I'm not sure what Pletcher's Musket Man son will become, but I hated the Remsen and wasn't sold today.
  • I should have singled El Kabeir but a newly minted 3 YO doesn't deserve that sort of respect.  I looked for value but had him covered.
  • I had General Bellamy in the show spot discounting Royal Burgh.  Pletcher's Street Sense runner also had a poor Remsen and I discounted him at my own peril in my Tri's.  

For anyone new to my blog, The Turk doesn't follow 2 YOs at all, so this is a wondrous time of discovery for me.  "A time of discovery" and "betting cash" isn't always a good mix and often this presents the investor a chance to turn $50 into $25, but racing is also about patterns and pattern identification.  The mixture of quality in this race set up for me a classic scenario with the best horse near the front in my bet construction, the best of the rest covered and the rest tossed.  It doesn't always unfold like that but when it doesn't in hindsight it seems so obvious.

Yes, Kentucky Derby points were awarded blah blah blah...There are MUCH better blogs to address that sort of thing.  Come to think of it, there are much better blogs period, but you must have not got that memo.  I'm glad you didn't and thanks for reading.

Enjoy Friends this Feast of the Epiphany.

Turk Out!

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Jerome Grade 3 at Aqueduct

El Kabeir: Photo by Reed Palmer Churchill Downs
Happy New Years friends and readers of The Turk and Little Turk.  This is the eighth year of this blog, and while never a "must read", I like to think that it has been a consistent no bullshit, no ego, handicapping analysis forum.  I modeled the blog in the image of three of my handicapping heroes, Brad Free, The Happy Handicapper, Bob Summers, and Steve Crist. I'd be remiss in not adding an honorary fourth member to that list, as my Aunt Rosie was the one who introduced me to the horses way back on 19th Street on Saturday afternoons.  Aunt Rosie loved the grey horses and she'd like El Kabeir, pictured to the left winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Grade 2 at Churchill Downs in late November.  The running line reads "...lasted late, all out."  We like that sort of effort, and this Scat Daddy son may have a bright future.  In my eighth year I plan to continue to bring the heavy hitting handicapping that my demanding readers expect.

Let's get after this!

El Kabeir is a serious 3 year old right now.  4 of 5 in the money, a big price tag at sale, a Grade 2 winner, an accomplished and still peaking sire in Scat Daddy, this Florida bred still needs to learn to rate, still has much to do, and will be at the far outside on a funky track.  I like him but I'll be betting for him to get nipped at the wire.  So who then....

I'll be backing Ackeret, more of a sprinter but this is short enough for him I think and the barn goes 17% in sprint to routes.  Ortiz Up for Rodriguez and they clip along at 26% together at this track.  Feast or famine, not singling.

Nasa and Ostrolenka are in my next tier of runners.  Nasa has the races biggest Tomlinson number at 394 but has also been used as more of a sprinter. The PA bred is trained by John Servis who has no stakes wins in past 12 months and is 12% on sprint to routes.  Ostrolenka is a Musket Man son, a Turk favorite, and had a forgettable G2 Remsen last time out after having a good fall at Belmont.

Mini Cosmo, Royal Burgh and General Bellamy make up the rest of the contenders while I tossed Now We Are Free and Tencendur at my own peril.   I'm torn on what order, but I'm mostly favoring Mini Cosmo and General Bellamy and essentially have tossed Royal Burgh in Tri's.

So what to do with this?

My real interest here isn't ROI, it's Derby Trail reconnaissance.  That said, I think I see an opportunity to assemble a cheap investment that gives me a chance to check my handicapper and bettor boxes.

a $0.1 Super:  7-9 OVER 4-7-8-9 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8-9 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8= $11.20.  That's a bit too pricy for me for at ten center so.....

7-9 OVER 4-7-8-8 OVER 1-4-7-8 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8 =$6.00

and a Trifecta:  $0.50  4-7-8-9 OVER 4-7-8-9 OVER 1-4-7-8-9= $18

a bit pricey so....

Trifecta $1.00 7-9 OVER 4-7-8-9 OVER 1-4-6-7-8=$22 or $11 for a $0.50 lottery ticket.

Have fun with it friends.

Turk Out!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita

Shared Belief  (photo by Shigeki Kikkawa)

Boxing Day racing at Santa Anita is a wonderful, lazy day of horse gambling for the Turk from the snowy East Coast. Today is no exception, as I recharge the batteries over the last two weeks of 2014 and get ready to welcome in 2015 and the treadmill of daily living.  An all graded stakes Pick 3 with races 6-7-8 is featured today, with The Malibu the headliner and race 8, the Grade 1 La Brea and the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile rounding it out.

Today also marks the return of Shared Belief who's been on the shelf since the Breeders' Cup Classic and a race that was over almost as soon as it began for son of Candy Ride.  

Let's get after it!

Bob Baffert sends four horses into the starting gate and the race breaks down fairly simply into if you think Baffert can wear down Shared Belief,or interfere with traffic, and allow a stalker or an off the pace runner to cleanup the mess.  Shared Belief needs no introduction, 7 of 8 lifetime, with 5 of 7 wins on fake dirt, but this colt doesn't mind the dirt at all.  

Chitu, a Henry Hughes son, runs back off a 31-60 day layoff, something Baffert hits 24% of the time.  His last time back was off of a break from a lackluster finish in the Kentucky Derby when he was close to California Chrome at the top of the stretch before fading.  3 of 3 in the Money at Santa Anita.  He should be the pacesetter and has a chance to play "catch me if you can."

Indianapolis and Midnight Hawk will bring speed and tenacity to the race.  Pimpernel will be stalking somewhere just behind these two.

In the non Baffert camp,. Tamarando will be waiting to make one run at the top of the stretch but I see him running out of room and finishing anywhere from 5th to Show. Tamarando has 4 wins, all on fake dirt and is winless in 3 starts on Santa Anita dirt.

In a fairly pedestrian Allowance Level group of also ran's, I liked Diamond Bachelor the best but that is saying very little.

I'll be playing winners only for the Pick 3, singling Shared Belief and looking for some value in the first two races.  If forced to assemble an exotic here I could go one of two routes:  Single Shared Belief OR look to see him beat with some value in the bet.  As the latter is more fun we'll assemble a monopoly money bet of the following:

$0.10 Bet:  2-3-6 OVER 2-3-6-8 OVER 2-3-6-8 OVER 3-5-6-7-10 for $6.20

That's sufficiently interesting enough for me to enjoy and have a punchers chance.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Bayakoa at Los A

Bayakoa/5 against Go For Wand/2; 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff
I could write a blog post about what Bayakoa meant to me, and I have  (like this from 2009).  Instead of the Turk rambling I  like this blog post by Sam Ludo to summarize the amazing career of one of the greatest fillies ever,  a mare whose name belongs in the same breath as Zenyatta, Ruffian, and Rachael Alexandra.

For anyone who can stand it, this is Bayakoa in her glory, dueling Go for Wand.  With the heart of a lion these two engaged each other and it was many years before I could ever think to watch this video as I became an emotional wreck just thinking about the pride and passion that fills such animals to race to the very edge of death when challenged.

We use the word great too often in our society to identify champions.  Not all champions are great.  Great should be reserved, along with a few other adjectives, for the absolute best of the best.

Bayakoa was great. It's one of the sadder parts of the demise of horse racing in our culture, that her name isn't known more widely, acclaimed by openly, adored for forever.

As a race fan and a lover of animals, I never want to see a horse get hurt like this.  These animals were bred to race, they love to race.  As long as they are cared for after the track, Grade 1 winners or claimers, I can live with the inevitable deaths that will occur.  This one is haunting to anyone who loved Bayakoa and Go for Wand.

I am still mourning in a different way Hollywood Race Park.  I'm not that familiar with the big oval at Los A yet.  I'm learning to play it the old fashioned, by reading race charts and building my opinion of how to play its big stretch.

Anyway, this edition of the Bayakoa (thanks for leaving name alone!) is a six horse affair and a bit of a snooze fest at that.  Let's see what we can make of it.

I'm backing Yahilwa to win.  In last two races as come from more than 2 off the lead to win as well as wired a win, both at 1 mile.  Came up back of Tiz Midnight and Beholder three races back in the G1 Zenyatta.  One win at the distance in an N1X in April 2014.  Getting faster as the year goes, Trainer Cassidy is 25% won last start on 40 tries and Mike Smith/Cassidy win at 23% on 52 tries.

Hard to say what Tiz Midnight will bring.  I typically don't like the first race back off a Breeders' Cup race which is exactly what Baffert's 4 YO is doing.  Class alone, she;s top of the class.  She'll race as always within two of the lead all the way around.  Easily wins, but for value would like to see Place.

Legacy seems like the best of the rest.  Sadler's horse has run well on this track.  Sadler 18% on turf/dirt switch after a trouncing in the G2 Goldikova at SA in early November.  (I guess I could have added Goldikova and Lady's Secret to my list of greats. I know I'm forgetting others as well!)

I'm leaning towards a very simple bet construction:  A $2 Tri with 1-3 OVER 1-3 OVER 2-5-4-6 is a $16 bet and a $2 Tri with 1 OVER 3 OVER 2-5-4-6 is an $8 bet.

Have fun with it yourself if you are so inclined!

Turk Out.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Cigar Mile at the Big A

Secret Circle:  Photo by Breeders' Cup Ltd
Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite racing weeks of the year.  Obviously not because the weather is ideal, or that there is much left to settle in horse racing prior to year end, but I'm off of work and I force myself to do something other than work for a few days in a row.

My job is very analytic, much like my approach to horse racing.  At work I may spend time thinking about average total costs or marginal costs as they relate to diminishing gains, but it's analytical numbers that help me make the best decisions possible for the physical mechanical equipment I'm charged with running optimally.

In horse racing, and in horse racing blogging, I choose not to bore my readers with the exact analytics I'm employing.  I've read blogs that are very analytical driven and I don't want to be that blogger.  In business at least I can do analysis in hindsight of my decisions and learn something that is typically concrete in nature.  In horse racing, not so much.  You can apply hard fought analytics to these 1,200 pound animals all you like and about the only thing you can be sure of is the overall general horse betting public will still hit 33% winners applying no analytics and if you are honest with yourself, you'll be hard pressed to not incrementally beat that figure.  This blog isn't interested in picking winners primarily, we are building exotic bets, un-boxed, built on a matrix of horse order of finish possibilities.  The goal of my horse racing activity is 0% ROI.  0% Turk, WTF?  Yes, if I were to break even I'd be happy because at this point in my life, I'm not gambling horses for economic profit. Do I want losses?  Absolutely not, Mrs. Turk wouldn't put up with that nonsense.  I'm a positive ROI guy who applies analytic, really statistical and mathematical possibility analysis, to my bet strategy after developing a base handicap of possibilities.

This blog is a reflection of my passion and also my ambivalence to horse racing.  A sport that is teetering on irrelevance, with no real plan forward, while physical capital like Hollywood Race Track is watched to be sold off as scrap, where the beautiful Hialeah can't get thoroughbreds back on the track, where for all but a few days Arlington is irrelevant, I find it hard to care.  It's a defense mechanism not caring because there is almost nothing an individual or a collective group of racing fans can do.  We aren't what drives the sport and we have no voice.  This blog lives because no matter what happens, these animals have been under my skin for almost my entire life and I find true relaxation staring at a past performance.  Why isn't Trackus available at every track?  Why is access to data so expensive and almost off limits to the casual fan? No one person cares enough to move this sport forward.

I digress.  This has never been a popular blog.  It's a labor of love done by The Turk for diminishing numbers of readers.  I can't remember the last time I received a legitimate comment.  Outside of the Triple Crown season, my blogs numbers are putrid.  I leave the deep issues for others and I will continue to do what I do, not because I give a hoot about web traffic, but because this beautiful mathematical game still thrills me and because my ROI stays positive.  Good days, bad days for sure (namely any Thorofan Handicappers Corner post) but relaxing and stimulating nonetheless.

I'm going to add some new features to my blog next year.  I may even add more topics of interest to me: a late 40's gentlemen's fashion choices, hardware selections, watches, everyday carry, electronics, whatever may interest other socially disinterested, work-a-holic bald fellas who like horses and fine craftsmanship.

Anyways, let's get after this!

Lots of options in this one.  I'm going with Vyjack on top, but what I'm really saying is even if Baffert is shipping in Secret Circle, I'm betting against these Breeders' Cup contestants.

Vyjack is 3 of 4 at the Big A, and his Wood Memorial Show was against some solid class.   Won G2 Kelso last time out.

Rodriguez/Ortiz 31% at Aqueduct on 113 tries.

Itsmyluckyday, a  4 YO Lawyer Ron, one of my favorite horses ever (Rest in Peace), has been training regular and steady since a Show in the Kelso which followed a win in the Woodward.  First Big A effort.  2 of 4 at this distance, 8 of 16 on fast dirt, 13 of 16 in the money on fast dirt, 4 of 7 in 2014, 6 of 7 in the money in 2014.  Trainer Plesa 16% off the break.  Plesa/Lopez are 26% together in 333 tries over past year.  Lots to like and will be within 2 lengths the whole way.

Private Zone was 33-1 last year when he almost shocked the race.  He is boom or bust here but I think he'll run well to hit the Show or Exotic spot.  I guess I'm being a hypocrite as I have him higher than some BC runners I'm penalizing.

Bourbon Courage and Secret Circle I guess have a reason to call me a hypocrite.  Secret Circle, 5 YO already, has won two Breeders' Cup Sprints and Placed a third.  Not too shabby.  5 straight efforts at 6f but he seems to want to stretch out.  Interesting that Baffert brings him in for this with options at Del Mar.  Bourbon Courage has 1 win in last 12 races  but is 8 of 12 in the money as well. No wins in 3 starts at the distance, rang off a :46 4/5ths at 4f bullet last time on track.

Regally Ready (Can he really be 7?  I find myself exclaiming that alot this week!) is a really versatile horse. 6 wins in 9 2014 starts.  Only 3 of 37 career starts on dirt.  He may be in a great spot on the track to come hard and free at the end.  Beware!

I'm tossing three: Big Business, the other Eddington son along with Secret Circle, who I respect but you can't cover all in my world, Transparent and Noble Moon.

As the race is two hours to post, I'm going to publish these thoughts and keep thinking about bet strategy.  The track should be good and the weather OK albeit cold.

I'm thinking something along the lines of this:

$1 Super:  2-4 OVER 1-2-4-6-8-9 OVER 1-2-4-6-7-8-9 OVER 1-6-7-8-9 for $168.  It's too rich and I have to make some harder choices but its a starting point

Good Luck

Turk Out!