Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Breeders' Cup Classic Grade 1

Tonalist: Photo Courtesy of Gene Kershner Buffalo News
Welcome Friends to the Breeders' Cup edition of The Turk and the Little Turk.  The Turk would like to thank the good people of The Thorofan for allowing me to share my opinions on such a prominent race with you.

About this time of the racing season, after you've been looking at these horses battle for months now, what is there to handicap? Well, quite a lot still.   The track, the post position, the pace scenario, relative class, current conditioning.  I don't need to know much about Shared Belief or California Chrome, two of my most favorite three year old's  since possibly 2007's Street Sense and Hard Spun, but I need to know how they answer my questions as it relates to today's race.    Notice I care about today: I discount most of what these animals did before July 1, not to take it away from them, its just not as relevant as what they did one race back.

 I love to read Past Performances.  I think its an amazing art form, how much information can be condensed down onto paper.  People who know me know I went years, pre internet, by picking winners of races I never saw.  My handicapping was purely off of paper.  I'm a better visual handicapper now, and I'm smart enough to follow certain bloggers who tweet from paddocks with physical condition and demeanor prior to races.  That said, I get a hoot from the PP's.  I love the pithy and concise comments that follow the running line.  Comments so short it makes a Tweet look like War and Peace, but over time they tell you so much.  California Chrome last time out ..."had no response."  Bayern was..."clear,strong handling" while Cigar Street "repelled bid, cleared".

Santa Anita faithful will tell you the winner needs to be on the lead or pressing the pace within 2 lengths at first call.  I'm good with that at 10 panels, but 12 tends to equalize things.  The sample size is small too.  With my Past Performances now, checking for horses on the lead at 1st call, or within 2 lengths, is as easy a clicking a box.  So much has changed to help the handicapper.

Are you a dogmatic handicapper, with angles and rules that you absolutely adhere too?  That sort of thinking serves you well in most races but at the Classic distance, I think you need to look strongly at pace, pace intensity, and which horses will be moving forward and which ones giving ground over that merciless final 1/16 of a mile.

Let's review the runners and the key prep races on video

Awesome Again G1:  1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 27 September; SA

Jockey Club Gold Cup G1: 1 1/4 Fast Dirt; 27 September; BEL

Homecoming Classic  $135,000; 1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 27 September; CD

Pennsylvania Derby G2; 1 1/8 Fast Dirt;  20 September; Prx

Woodward Stakes G1:  1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 30 August; SAR

Pacific  Classic G1: 1 1/4 Fake Dirt; 24 August; DMR

Travers Stakes G1: 1 1/4 Fast Dirt; 24 August: SAR

Suburban Handicap G2; 1 1/4 Fast Dirt; 5 July; BEL

I'm not sure I like where I came out with my thoughts, but let me get it down into the chart and then we can talk it through and perhaps even make a few tweaks.

Tonalist breaks all my dogmatic rules:  Only wins at BEL, first SA start, trainer my favorite turf master but I'm not sure I've ever bet one of his dirt runners. I love his late one run burst and that seems to be what I'm fixated on, but that implies he is in a pack close to the pace near the top of the stretch.  I'm thinking he will be sitting two to three wide and in a good spot to close.

California Chrome owned this track at the time of his Santa Anita Derby win.  His five race win streak through the Preakness was as close to goose skin tingling for me as it gets.  I don't put much stock in his Pennsylvania Derby, stuck on the inside, fighting a serious track bias, quite frankly I'm not even sure why he was there instead of a week later in the Awesome Again.   His connections are like lightning rods among horse racing folks I talk to regularly, but remember one thing: the horse doesn't care what you think of  Sherman, Coburn or Martin.    The horse is the same horse that was a monster early in the year.  I like his positioning, I just think he'll be going backwards and getting caught by Tonalist.

Shared Belief would be the easy thing for me to do to seem smart (I'd pick Cigar Street if I wanted to appear savvy). What a series of races he has assembled, but its amazing to me that this is his first showdown with California Chrome.   I am not ready to concede he is the best horse in this group on dirt, an Awesome Again effort not making my case easier.  Unless he has a horrible trip and misses the break, he should be as well positioned as Tonalist to push forward.  I think he was a bit exposed in the Awesome Again, win aside, and against a field of top shelf class I think he has as great a chance to be out of the top 5 as he has of being in the top 2.

Cigar Street is perhaps the most beautiful animal in the race.  On the muscle is an understatement.  He should get a get trip tucked in behind the front running speed, he'll have a price I'm thinking similar to Bayern and Tonalist and Mott is always a dangerous adversary.  This is a serious animal, I'd like to see him come back in the Clark Handicap and have a good late season campaign.

So what am I going to do with this base handicap? With a race like the Classic you can overthink it very easily.  Let's be even more frank:  How many legitimate winners are in the starting gate?  I'm going with six (California Chrome, Shared Belief, Tonalist, Cigar Street, Zivo and V.E. Day) with possibly two more (Bayern and Majestic Harbor) in the conversation.  It's not the sexy thing for a handicapper to throw his hands up in the air and say I dunno, so clearly this bald handicapper won't be doing that.  I'm going to do what you should do: have a handicapping opinion and stick to your guns.  Don't go hedging yourself like mad, just pick the horses and let it ride, you'll always be more wrong than right, but if you bet wisely you'll be OK.

I think the pace scenario is pretty straight forward.  We'll assume Big Cazanova doesn't enter the starting gate, but if he does, we'll lump him in with early speed. Moreno has been 1st at 1st call 16 of his last 21 races.  Expect him there.  Bayern has been 1st at 1st call 6 of his last 8 races.  Expect him there.   I think Cigar Street will be near the front from his 2 post as well.

I think the next group back will include Shared Belief, California Chrome and Tonalist and Majestic Harbor and just behind them will be one run closers V.E. Day, Zivo, Candy Boy and Footbridge.

My handicap reflects the horses moving forward and backward as the struggle to the classic distance. What I have yet to identify is a bet strategy.   I'm typically an all in Super High Five fella on these big day races.  It's a high risk, high reward sort of bet, definitely not for everybody.

On a race where you conceivably win over $50,000 with a 6-1 shot on top, I think it's a good investment.  I only need to hit one in one hundred to break even and I'm hitting one every 20-30, even though I've only broken five figures once, and a low five figures it was. No matter, it gets me juiced up and I work my ass off during the week so a little bit of blown off steam isn't so bad.

Whatever you do friends, have fun with it and bet responsibly.  Exotic betting should never be a dart toss and if you can't pick exactas with regularity, stay away from these sort of wagers.  Remember, its not just cash you are betting, its an opportunity cost:  What are you not spending this money on in order to gamble?  I hope its not food or the mortgage.  If you have a problem, seek help.

Turk Out!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Breeders' Cup Classic Video Handicapping/Preliminary Handicapping

Tonalist; image courtesy of Chelsea Durand
The Turk has been on the blogging sidelines since the Triple Crown season ended.  While still playing the horses, I reckon after six years I didn't have much to offer my readers.  I'm not sure I have much to offer now either, but it's time to start banging the keyboard and talk about the horses again.

I could go to the Breeders' Cup:  I've been to a few, and I'm going to be around Arcadia most of the week, but quite frankly it is hands down my favorite betting/investment opportunity of the year and I'd rather be home at Turk Central with two laptops going, an iPAD and all my information around me with limited distractions.  I love being at the track, and next to my family, my job and my church, I'd rather be no where else, but it's distraction city, and I just can't assemble my exotic bets very well when I'm there.  I'll be happy for all my racing pals who will be there, but The Turk and lil' Turk have business to attend to.

My efforts begin with just a video recap of the major prep races leading up to next weekend.  For the Breeders' Cup, I usually start at the July 4th holiday and go forward, as Belmont Day back isn't that relevant at this time of the year.  Current form, current form on dirt, and carrying speed at distance are what I'm interested in seeing, including the gallop out, so thank you to the video feeds that focus on that.

I couldn't begin to tell you who I like yet; clearly Shared Belief will be heavily bet, for good reason. Santa Anita Wins:  Bayern X2 (ALW/MSW 56K's),  California Chrome X3 (G1 Santa Anita Derby), Candy Boy X1 (1 Mile MSW 49K), Footbridge X3 (OC's 62K), Majestic Harbor X2 (Hollywood, er Gold Cup G1 28 June), Shared Belief X1 (Awesome Again G1), Big Cazanova (Arg) X1 (1 mile MSW 57K)

Ugly Santa Anita records include Imperative (0 wins in 5 starts, 1 place and 1 show), Moreno (0 wins 6 starts, 3 Place, no Show), Prayers for Relief (0 wins 3 starts, 2 show).

First time at Great Race Place: Cigar Street, Toast of New York, Tonalist, V.E. Day, Zivo.

I haven't had a chance to study the work tabs close enough to have a better handle on my handicapping.  My first blush gut call is as follows:

Shared Belief
California Chrome

My hunt for value will have me considering Bill Mott's Cigar Street, and Bayern for top spot.

I'm really not sure yet what I have yet so I'll take advantage of the time and think a bit more on the issue

Have fun with this friends, Turk Out!

Awesome Again G1:  1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 27 September; SA

Jockey Club Gold Cup G1: 1 1/4 Fast Dirt; 27 September; BEL

Homecoming Classic  $135,000; 1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 27 September; CD

Pennsylvania Derby G2; 1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 20 September; Prx

Woodward Stakes G1:  1 1/8 Fast Dirt; 30 August; SAR

Pacific  Classic G1: 1 1/4 Fake Dirt; 24 August; DMR

Travers Stakes G1: 1 1/4 Fast Dirt; 24 August: SAR

Suburban Handicap G2; 1 1/4 Fast Dirt; 5 July; BEL

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Presque Downs Masters

Presque Isle Downs
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog.  I'd like to start by thanking The Thorofan. an organization run by, and for, the average horse racing fan.  If you are looking for a way to make social connections at the racetrack, The Thorofan might just be for you so check it out.

Monday, September 8, is the 8th running of the Presque Isle Downs Masters, a Grade 2 race for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up.  This year's edition lacks the pizzazz and star power associated with any brace where the fabulous Groupie Doll appears, but its a solid 12 horse field nonetheless.  Groupie Doll set the track record last year, winning this race for two years consecutive, so this field is really getting a break now that the big mare has retired.

For those of you not familiar with Presque Isle Downs, don't write it off as a non-sexy, racino.  The fake dirt plays very fair, and the surface is safe too, with  a breakdown rate of .83 per 1,000 starts over five years, compared to 1.37 deaths per 1,000 starts from all fake dirt tracks and 1.92 deaths per 1,000 starts on all surfaces over the same period (The Jockey Club).

The Turk's love of horse racing ebbs and flows.  The dearth of good older horses, horses that have multi-year careers, really saps my enthusiasm.  I may be down on the current state of racing, but its fun events like Presque Isle's big weekend of racing that brings me back from the edges of apathy.  After spending most of the summer handicapping and betting instead of blogging (I didn't feel like I had much to say about the sport), I'm using the Masters Weekend as a way to regroup my blogs focus and start my preparations for the Breeders' Cup Saturday, always my favorite betting day of the year.
Anyways, let me get back to the task at hand, the Presque Downs Masters.

Northern Passion, the Ontario bred Mark Casse/Patrick Husbands combination is winless at the distance and most likely would like a few more panels, but I'm picking the 5 YO mare for her class and overall solid and consistent performances.  6 of 8 in the money on fake dirt, 9 of 17 lifetime in the money, 4 of last 9 in the money.

Disco Barbie will challenge for the win;  3 of 3 at PID, including her last time out 6.5 furlong Allowance win by 5.5 lengths as the heavily bet chalk.  4 of 5 in the money in 2014, 4 of 4 in the money on fake dirt and 3 of 3 at the distance, the 4 YO Kentucky bred is a horse for this course.

Master the Blues, the 5 YO Mare from Master Command, is a PID regular, but at shorter distances typically.  Desormeaux is up after riding her to a win at Del Mar in early August where she set her career best Beyer.

Ageless is a 5 YO Mare as well out of Successful Appeal and comes in off a driving 6f turf win.  This is first effort on fake dirt after going 5 for 5 in the money on Turf and 12 of 14 lifetime in the money, including 4 of 4 in the money in 2014.  She's the fastest and my consistent horse of the field.

Madame Cactus is entering her second race off a long layoff of >180 days, something trainer Peter Eurton wins 15% of the time with.  Talamo is up for the CA based 4 YO.

Living the Life (Ire) is Trained by Gary Mandella and has Mike Smith, up.  She's making her second North American start after winning her debut at Del Mar at 6 furlongs.  11 of 14 in the money over fake dirt lifetime 12 of 20 lifetime in the money.

My Option is capable of freakish good efforts like her 99 Beyer in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park but with clunkers along the way.

So what to do with this?  I'm leaning towards a fun ten cent superfecta built around my base handicap:  4-5 OVER 4-5-10-11 OVER 1-5-7-8-10-11 OVER 1-7-8-10-11 for a $9.60 bet.

Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy your track experience.

Finally, please remember in your prayers the family of Juan Vazquez, a 39 year old exercise rider killed in a training session on the Belmont track this past week.  Rest in Peace Juan.

Juan Vazquez (image used by courtesy of Barbara Livingston)

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks


The Turk hasn't blogged much over the past two months but has handicapped an awful lot of Saratoga and Del Mar races this summer.  I've been torn about how to devote my time, handicapping or blogging.  After an intensive handicapping/gambling period that began with a very lucrative Triple Crown season,  I feel like I'm ready to take a breather and just enjoy the last few weeks of the summer racing season until I start my Breeders' Cup preparations in mid September.

Alabama Weekend always holds special significance to me, as I've attended many an Alabama and attended with my father and son just a few years ago in a memorable three generation Turk boys day at the races. I am, and have been, an enormous fan and handicapping devotee of Arlington Millions day, but I've not handicapped Arlington much this year and I made the decision that those races are just too difficult for me to jump into cold.  What is in my wheelhouse right now is Saratoga and Del Mar, two tracks I've struggled at traditionally but where I'm doing well in these respective meets.

Anyway, I'm done with serious horseplaying until Breeders' Cup weekend, which means I'll be blogging more often to keep my mind fresh.  Let's get after it!

Let's start with The Alabama, Grade 1 at Saratoga.

Hard not to like Stopchargingmaria; 7 of 9 lifetime with 5 wins, one Grade 1 win, two Grade 2's, 3 of 3 in the money at SAR including the impressive CCA Oaks.  A candidate to single in my exotics.

Catch My Drift and Size both make SAR debuts today;  Catch My Drift, trained by Chad Brown, is a 2 for 2 Pioneerof the Nile daughter with Joe Bravo up.  Brown/Bravo combine for 39% wins on 23 starts.

 Size, trained by Bill Mott, rallied to win the Iowa Oaks in late June and she's been training sharply at SAR for a few weeks now.

Unbridled Forever gave Stopchargingmaria chase in CCA Oaks, and was second best of the bunch, but I'm not expecting much better today.  Miss Besilu posts bullets regularly but is winless since a February Optional Claimer.

Got Lucky and Fortune Pearl would not be enormous surprises to hit the exotic tickets.  I'm tossing Flay's America and Joint Return at my own peril.

The track should be fast and the weather good.

At Del Mar, we get the Grade 1 1 1/8 turf Del Mar Oaks.  Cutting back is Sea Queen for Christophe Clement with Bejarano up.  5 of 6 in the money on Turf with 3 wins, 2 of 2 at this distance, and trying Del Mar for the first time.  How she'll handle the firmness is my only question.  I'm got Sea Queen on equal footing with Tepin and Istanford. Tepin is winless on Turf, winless at the distance, winless at Del Mar but was a willing Place in the 1 mile San Clement Handicap in mid July here, won by Istanford.  Istanford has 5 wins in 8 turf starts but none at the distance and may start to fade after a mile.

Casse's other runner after Tepin is My Conquestadory; A talented 2 YO, I think this girl could be ready to step forward.

Tom Proctor's Famous Alice is coming back after freshening since late June.  His other runner Diversity Harbor is fresh, just not that interesting.  A couple of first North American/first time Lasix runners enter the gate with D'Amato's Odisseia (Ire) and Maibaby (Ire).  Eh, I'm skeptical of both.

What I do with these races I'm still not sure;  I think I'll stick close to these base handicaps and develop some Tri's or Super's and see if a bet is worth making based on tote board values.

I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts today, which is how I always feel after coming back after a break.
Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Queen's Plate $1,000,000 at Woodbine

Attfield looking for 9th Win: Globe and Mail
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, handicapping today for the Thorofan Handicappers Corner.

The Queen's Plate, a restricted classic distance race run over poly, has been a tough race for me to handicap over the years.  The contenders often  have varied and unimpressive past performances, especially when compared to their three year old contemporaries in the United States.  Once you embrace Woodbine as a track to play you'll learn its poly places pretty fair, that in general turf like pace is the norm, and that it's racing, just a bit different, and with just a bit different paradigm.  The trainers are good, the locals are good, there is a home field advantage and Yanks just don't show up and win easily. Fillies win, maidens win, it's a gosh darn free for all!  So what is a handicapper to do? The same thing he always does:  be consistent in your approach.  What that means for the Turk is a complete analysis of the Past Performances, video analysis where practical, an open mind, and bet construction that comes only after a base handicap, regardless of odds or tote board action specifically, is created.

Anyway, let's jump into this and see what we have to work with!

I print my DRF Formulator PP's (now that they print again- don't get me started on that debacle DRF!) without Morning Line odds.  In my opinion, morning lines are another handicappers bias and bias is something I try to avoid.  I also try to avoid reading articles pre race, mainstream media or other bloggers, about a certain horse, owner, or any sort of human interest tied to the horse. Again, that creates bias.  As a racing fan, I get into all that stuff, just after I've ponied up to the betting window.  I do however like to print the DRF Closer Look and DRF's Jennifer Morrison is one of the best.  Her opinions provide just enough of a balance to my own opinions and after doing this a long while, I like the collaboration, albeit loose collaboration.

We Miss Artie seems like an overwhelming favorite and I would suspect he will be bet down top even money or lower. :26 2/5ths in the last 1/4 mile of the Kentucky Derby, across a surface he didn't much like, winner of the Spiral and handily in the Plate Trial on 15 June.  Trainer Pletcher, with Castellano up, have a three for three poly winner and Pletcher won the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity at KEE.  Pletcher won the Queen's Plate in 1998.  Were not talking unbeatable but very solid.

I like Asserting Bear and the filly Lexie Lou as possible upset candidates.  Asserting Bear should like the extra distance, is very game, and has been training sharply.  Trainer Baker places Sutherland-Kruse up. Only one win in 5 poly tries.  Lexie Lou should also attract betting dollars.  Winner of Woodbine Oaks on 15 June, she sports the best Beyer on fake dirt of all starters and is 8 of 11 in the money at Woodbine lifetime.  Husbands, Up and Trainer Casse are 27% together at WO in 179 tried over past year.

My next group of four could jump into Place, but I'm expecting Show, fourth or fifth: Matador, Casse's second of three starters, with Leparoux up, came off the road and posted a $75K OC win going away at 8.5 panels on 28 June.  A Malibu Moon colt.

Lions Bay, sent to the gate by young Jamie Attard, is really stepping up in class, but he should like the distance.  Tower of Texas is Trainer Roger Attfield's lone entrant as he attempts to win this race for the ninth time.  1 win in 8 Poly starts. 1 win in 7 WO starts. He has a perfect running style and I could easily make a case for a Win spot.  Consider playing him for a good price.  John Velazquez is up today.

Ami's Holiday is my cut off line.  A good effort in G3 Lexington at KEE  and  a G3 winner across this track.  Jock/Trainer combo of Contreras/Carroll won in 2011 with Inglorious and Carroll has won this twice. 

Majestic Sunrise and Coltimus Prime are my only two "non tosses":  Casse's third starter Majestic Sunrise ran well in the Plate Trial; Coltimus Prime ran well in the Blue Grass Stakes but comes in off a slow N2L Allowance win at WO at 1 1/8 Miles on June 8.

I'm tossing at my own peril Niigon Express and Man O' Bear.  Either could have been in my Exotic Group.  I'm tossing without fanfare Athenian Guard, Cap in Hand, Heart to Heart and One Destiny (entered 5 July as well).

There is a mandatory payout Super High Five with 20 cent options.  Better than a lottery ticket and I'll take an educated bet over an idiotic lottery ticket any day.

What shall The Turk do?  After pondering a bit I wasn't able to assemble a Super High Five ticket that created an investment option that felt good in my gut.  I have however built a Superfecta option I'll consider:

$0.20 Superfecta:  4-6-12-14 OVER 4-6-12-14 OVER 4-8-10-12-14-15 OVER 4-8-10-12-14-15 =$60  Will it pay enough to cover the bet?  I have to think on that awhile.  Speculative investments are just that, and past performance is no promise of future outcomes. Bet responsibly or just use monopoly money and enjoy the racing.  It should be a good card.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Stephen Foster Handicap Grade 1 at Churchill Downs

It doesn't get much more American than Stephen Foster:  Born on July 4, 1826, the composer of such American music classics as Camptown Races, Oh Susana!, My Old Kentucky Home are still songs that generations of kids sang in music class and learned to play on instruments.  Another great American institution, The Thorofan, invested in the growth of the American horse racing fan base, has again asked this bald idiot handicapper to opine on the races.  It's not a Pink, Blue, or Yellow sheet but its probably just as accurate.  Ignore as you will!

My success rate, measured as Return on Investment, is not very good with my Handicapper Corner's handicaps.  It doesn't help that I'm typically making Superfecta and Super High Five bet recommendations, but still, the handicapping has been dull and not very good.  In self analysis mode I think for some handicaps I was too conservative, afraid to look dumb.  In others I was wildly aggressive, on the edge of reckless.  I've learned that to be a  successful bettor I need to  approach my handicapping with consistency: I build my base handicap, regardless of value, and if I choose to take some risk on the bet structure for value at least I am doing it with eyes wide open.  

The first thing I noticed when I reviewed the Past Performances is how many of the runners you could make a legitimate win bet on: Revolutionary, Moonshine Mullin, Will Take Charge, Departing, Golden Ticket and Prayer for Relief could all hit the wire first.  With the way Long River, a 15-1 Morning Line sleeper, is training, that's seven of nine that could be in the winners circle. 

The weather should be good. The track should be listed as Fast.

Let's get after this!

I have Departing in the top spot.  It's the four year old geldings  2nd off a 180 day layoff, he's 3 of 5 at the distance, 1 of 1 at CD and 7 wins in 10 starts on fast dirt.  Trainer Stall and Albarado, up, clip along at 31% win  rate.  He's been training very sharply at CD.  I doubt I single him but I like his chances to provide value from my chalk spot.  Look for him to come off the pace.

I have late running Revolutionary in the next group back;  He came late for Show in last year's Kentucky Derby and he comes in off a Pimlico Special Grade 3 win.

Prayer for Relief has no top three finishes in three starts at CD.  Another off the pace style runner, the 6 YO sizzled in morning work across this track a week ago.  4 wins in 13 starts at the distance, 6 wins in 20 starts over fast dirt, he ran terribly in  2013 Clarke Handicap here.

The Alysheba, Grade 2, run at CD in May was an interesting race.

Moonshine Mullin should provide much of today's pace.   Will Take Charge will try and forget his non fire in the Alysheba.  Stevens is up again for Trainer Lukas and most likely is the one to beat and the expected post time chalk.  I'm a biog fan of Will Take Charge but I need to see him fire in his four year old season and I'll bet against the money on him.

Golden Ticket and Long River are collectively no wins in six starts at this distance.  Long River has been working very sharply at Saratoga and ran very well on the inner dirt at Aqueduct this past winter.

So what to do with this?  I think I'll take a position similar to my base handicap, with a horse like Departing on top and a series of Exacta Bets with value underneath like Golden Ticket and Long River.  To be decisive I'll go with 6 OVER 3-7-8. Three $10 Bets may interest me.

Whatever you do, have some fun and develop your own handicap and bet responsively.

Turk Out!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Preakness Stakes Grade 1

Turk/Little Turk: Preakness 138
Welcome friends to the Preakness Stakes;  I hope someone reading my blog today is a new fan of the sport.  Perhaps you were thrilled by California Chrome's win two weeks ago, perhaps you made a fluke bet and made some money, perhaps you are like me, someone who was around horse racing most of his life but disengaged for awhile only to come back and like it even more.  No matter what your story is, I hope you give the sport a chance, enjoy it for more than gambling, and what the heck, spend a few bucks trying to make a larger pile of bucks in the process.  If you are new to the sport, I may talk a bit too fast for you. I get that:  Try out the wonderful Hello Race Fans! for many horse racing articles geared towards the new and intermediate fans.

This blog is about horse racing, handicapping and occasionally is where the exploits of the Turk and the Little Turk are chronicled.  Pictured is a race track getaway last year, the Preakness Stakes 138.  We had great seats and enjoyed Pimlico, even if the track is in a war zone and the drive in is like driving through a third world country.  Old Hilltop is a special place and we enjoyed our trip, bad weather and all.

If horse racing is going to grow again, it will be with people like The Turk bringing the new generation to the track and getting them hooked on the beauty of the horses and the discipline of responsible betting. I hope someone reading today will consider a race track getaway with some young adults this year.  The track is a safe, family environment, and the wiseguy, horseplayer types stay to themselves.

Anyway, today's Grade 1 Preakness Stakes has a bit of a Grade 2 feel to it with the field assembled.

When I sat down to blog and handicap, I had no doubt that California Chrome is the class of the field.  Now sometimes the best horse doesn't win (get use to that concept), but if the race unfolds like it should, he will win.  Today's handicap then is really about identifying from the muck who will set the pace, who will be running faster in the last 1/16 of a mile and who will be going backwards.  Handicapping is pretty much about that, but the devil is in the details.

I like to start by refreshing my visual memory of the contenders last races.  Watch the races with the race chart to get a really good feel of what took place, who was contending, and who wasn't.  I like to identify horses who didn't win but ran well for consideration in their next races.

Let's get to it.

Illinois Derby Grade 3;  1 1/8 Miles Fast Dirt

Dynamic Impact late surge takes the race by a nose by a horse that was good enough to be here, Midnight Hawk.

Kentucky Derby Grade 1;  1 1/4 Miles Fast Dirt

Tampa Bay Derby Grade 2; 1 1/16 Miles on Fast Dirt

2nd effort back for Ring Weekend.  He destroyed a so-so field.  He raced poorly next race out but has been training well and Garcia is up again for Trainer Motion.

Derby Trial Grade 3; 1 Mile Fast Dirt

Bayern wins, and I don't take that away, but I'm not thrilled by the possibilities of more distance.

Kentucky Oaks Grade 1;  1 1/8 Miles Fast Dirt

Ria Antonia:  Why is she here?

Federico Tesio Stakes;  1 1/16 Miles Fast Dirt Pimlico

Kid Cruz against small, soft field, but it is at Pimlico. Nice close.

Wood Memorial Grade 1; 1 1/8 miles Fast Dirt

Social Inclusion: slowed to crawl in last 1/16.

Arkansas Derby Grade 1: 1 1/8 Miles Fast Dirt

Ride on Curlin:  lots to like.

I'm going to let the base handicap speak for itself and I'm going to bet pretty much as my base handicap is laid out.  I'm going to single  California Chrome in most of my bets, but I may box him in a few in case the upset does happen, I can be sad but richer at the same time.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!