Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Breeders' Cup Turf

Highland Reel (Ire)- Jesse Caris, Eclipse Sportswire

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog.  Friends, I'm a handicapper and gambler first and blogger second, and its days like today when I'm handicapping a lot of races with a bunch of racetrack capital in play that the needle moves more towards degenerate and less towards writer.  I wanted to at least blog my full thoughts about one race before I get lost in the gambling action and I choose one of the harder mysteries for players, the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf.  What makes it hard?  Usually a very big field of outstanding Euro invaders along with the best in the division from North America.  It's complicated by Euros that mostly run on softer ground, speed figs that don't align Beyer's and pace projections that can be challenging to predict.  I find the complexity of the issues the fun part and armed with two sets of Past Performances, a US Timeform and a DRF Formulator, I try to tackle this one head on.  Let's get it on!

I'm looking to the best from North America this year, Beach Patrol, as my chalk.  Chad Brown has Rosario up again (29% winners) and they have won two straight, including last time out Belmont Turf Classic G1 and the Arlington Million G1 before that.  I love the 4 YO's drive and acceleration.

I see little difference in my next group.  Ulysses (Ire) is a very classy 4 YO Galileo (Ire) son with impressive Sir Michael Stoute training and Dettori, up.  I expect he will be the chalk:  6 of 6 in the money in 2017 with $2.2 MM in earnings.  His Juddmonte International G1 win in late August was impressive.

Hunt (Ire) I have more forward that I possibly should have him but I love his two summer 2017 Del Mar Grade 2 wins.  No, he didn't really beat anyone in either win.  I did like Itsinthe post (Fr) in the Del Mar Handicap.

Highland Reel (Ire) and Oscar Performance make up my next grouping.  Highland Reel (Ire) is the defending champ for Trainer Aidan O'Brien, and his last strong performance was Prince of Wales Stakes G1 in June.

Oscar Performance is 4 of 6 in the money in 2017 with $1.1 MM in earnings.  6 wins in 10 turf starts but winless at the distance in only 1 try.  I don't like 3 YO's in this spot.

Fanciful Angel and Sadler's Joy have nice late turns of foot and should be moving forward near the end of the race.  Decorated Knight and Bigger Picture round out my contenders to hit the board.

Have fun with it friends.  Good luck with the gambling.

Turk Out!

I'd be remiss to not remember George Washington, who died at the end of the Breeders' Cup Classic 10 years ago. Gorgeous George was one of my all time favorites and it bothered me to see him brought out of retirement and then run over that sloppy course.  He deserved better.  Rest in Peace George.

George Washington as I want to remember him

Monday, October 23, 2017

Post Race Analysis of the Maryland Million Classic

Bonus Points

Welcome Friends to The Turk and The Little Turk Blog.

This past weekend's handicap of the Maryland Million Classic was pretty spot on and produced $695.80 on Trifecta and Exacta wins and unfortunately I left a very winable $627.50 Superfecta in the register.

As I said pre race, I mostly assembled value exactas around my base handicap, focusing on Ghost Bay, Clubman or Southside Warrior for value and Bonus Points taking the wire late.

It was a good read of the field on my part, especially when I announced I was very confused, mostly because of my first attempt to handicap using Timeform US PP's.  I will admit I am intrigued by them, but I was very out of my comfort zone and ended up buying a DRF Formulator PP as well.  I guess I jacked up the takeout from my own pocket buying two PPs for one race!

Pace/Class/Current Form.  That was the decoder ring for this race.

This was a nice handicapping day that provided my mind lots of good race puzzles to solve.  I've been on a gambling sabbatical since mid September so the reawakening of my red pen was planned and now it's onto the Breeders' Cup!

Turk Out.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Maryland Million Classic $125K

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, a race handicapping and gambling venture now in our 9th year with well over 600 blog postings to our credit.  I'd like to thank the good people of The Thorofan for allowing me to share my thoughts on the Maryland Million Classic, a $125,000 Stakes race restricted to horses sired by a Maryland standing stud.

That dapper gentleman pictured is Jim McKay, a legendary broadcaster,  horse racing owner and fan.  Mr. McKay was inspired by the first Breeders' Cup to hold an event similar in Maryland focusing on Maryland's breeding.  It's hard for me to believe (maybe accept) that Jim McKay has been gone from us since 2008.  He was a big part of my childhood, a voice that was calming, passionate, credible and likable.  It was a different era in sports, perhaps a more naive era, arguably a more enjoyable time, when sports were a release, a purer pleasure.  A time when boxing and horse racing were still relevant.  The Turk digresses, but at 50 something I think I have enough depth of perspective to say that the commercialization of sports, the politicization of sports, the marginalization of horse racing, have all left me waxing poetic for a bygone time, when men like Jim McKay came into our house to educate, inform and inspire us.

I've been handicapping for a long time.  I took red pen to the Form for the first time in 1986, 31 years ago.  I've been using DRF Formulator PPs for the past several years but today's race was the first race I've handicapped using Timeform US PPs.  Working with both pieces of information was overwhelming in many ways, perhaps information overload best describes it.  I still lack a feel for the speedfigs and the pace adjusted speedfigs of Timeform, but as an information handicapper I was quite impressed.  I also liked how I could add notes to each runner, as well as identify where I thought each horse might slot, win-place-show-toss.  I'm using the next few months to experiment with tools like Timeform US and Thorograph.  I'm a life long learner, and while I have a very comfortable comfort zone with DRF products,  I'm committed to looking at my methods and tools as I take my craft to the next level.

My craft?  I don't have a clue about today's race.  Maybe it was the PP info overload, maybe it's the parity of class and quality in the 12 horse field, but I am not afraid to say I'm a bit stumped.  Let's get after this and maybe through typing clarity will grace my thoughts.

Right off the bat I liked how the first quarter pacing was laid out for me before I even had to dive into the PPs.  You can also see in the screen capture "My Picks" which saved me scribbling them out later.

I'm backing a closer, Bonus Points, to win.  The 3 YO Pletcher trainee has been running in graded stakes company all year, hitting the board three times in 8 starts.  I think he will have plenty of speed to target and the one I think he'll be taking late is John Jones. Making a turf to Dirt switch, the 5 YO gelding has 7 wins in 13 Laurel Park starts and is a pretty consistent effort horse.

I think the more interesting group of horses are my next three: Ghost Bay, Clubman and Southside Warrior.  I think I could have made a good case for any of them to win-place.  Ghost Bay is another deep closer whereas Clubman and Southside Warrior should be racing mid-pack and steady.  Southside Warrior has declining Beyer Speed Figures over past three races (90/84/75) and while the pace adjusted figs illustrated the same decline, it did not appear as severe.  I'm intrigued at the price.  Clubman put up a 5f bullet :59 3/5ths on October 13 and has raced well at Laurel, 6 of 8 in the money and 7 of 9 in the money over fast dirt for the 3 YO.

Admirals War Chest and Jerandson round out my potential board hitters.  Admirals War Chest will go to the front, but I'm gambling the 6 YO wont be able to stay there and there are some quality closers entered.  The two time champ will get sentimental betting interest but I'm dubious.

Jerandson goes blinkers off for Trainer Pletcher (24% wins on 34 blinker off races) but the three year old so far hasn't flashed much speed.  I think a very minor prize, if anything.

I think I'll be looking to build Exacta Combinations using some of the longer prices on the board and in my handicap.  The weather should be good with no rain so we should assume a fast track.  I'm going to use some combinations of 5-2-11-9-12-1-3.  I won't box: That's a $1 Exacta for $42.  I'll use the toteboard and piece together no more than 8-10 $2 bets for $20 of betting interest with Ghost Bay-Clubman and Southside Warrior mixed with others from the group.

Have fun with it friends and enjoy the Maryland Racing Showcase.

Turk Out!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy 9th Birthday Turk and the Little Turk

Happy 9th Birthday to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog. 

September 2008 was a long time ago.  Long read personal blogs, as an expression of individual thought, were at a peak while mediums like Facebook and Twitter were still in their infancy.  The Turk was born during a rain delay on a business trip through Chicago.  Inspired by established blogs, we wrote our first post and tried to find our way.  What is our way?

The Turk and the Little Turk is a niche blog that handicaps horse races and occasionally picks winners. period. We don't have witty commentary, we aren't a must read, most mainstream turf writers ignore us, and we don't honestly make much of an effort to be social and network.  We handicap races and we try not to be smug jerks while cashing tickets and stacking dollars.  To the 2,000 or so page viewers per month that visit this blog, we thank you. 

What can you expect into our 10th year?  More of the same.  Handicapping, more video analysis and bet construction using fair money lines.  If you find that interesting to read, I hope to hear from you in comments here or on Twitter.  The Turk appreciates the friends he has developed over the years even if he is too socially stunted and time limited to do normal friend stuff, you know, like talk. 

Thank you for reading!

The Turk

The Nomination Is In: The Kelso Handicap G2 at Belmont

Sharp Azteca- Jessie Holmes/Equisport Photos
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  I'd like to begin by thanking The Thorofan and the Handicapper's Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you today about Saturday's Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park.  I  appreciate my new readers and the rabid pack of hardcore degenerates that read my work regularly.

The Kelso will be a six horse affair.

Keep your eye on the scratches and changes as well as the track condition at this linkWeather does not seem to be an issue and I would expect the track to be fast.

At first take I think the heavy chalk will be Sharp Azteca (pictured above).  Trained by Jorge Navaro with Paco Lopez up, this classy 4 YO Kentucky Bred Freud will become a millionaire the next time he hits the board, is 11 of 13 in the money lifetime, 6 of 6 in the money with 4 wins at the distance and has 9 Win-Place finishes in 11 starts on fast dirt.  Well rested and training very sharply since winning the Monmouth Cup G3 at 1 1/16 Miles by 7+ lengths it's concievable he draws off and no one catches him.

I started fast and jumped ahead.  Let's take a step back and look at some of the other runners.

Let's Get after this!

The Forego G1: 7f  on Fast Dirt at SAR  26 August

Four runners exit The Forego who chased DrefongRoss(Ire) was a non factor in the The Forego and I see no reason to make him a factor here.  Tom's Ready really came at the end and Divining Rod was gobbled up at the wire.

The Polynesian $74K: 7F on sealed slop at LRL on 12 August

Divining Rod over off track. Eh.

Monmouth Cup G3: 1 1/16 Miles on Fast Dirt at MTH 30 July

Sharp Azteca in a romp.  Not sure how I feel about the field but he fired well off The Met Mile.

The Vanderbilt G1: 6F on Fast Dirt at SAR 29 July

Bird Song.  Have to go back to early year efforts at Gulfstream to envision a win.

Belmont Sprint G2: 7F on fast Dirt at BEL on 8 July

Tommy Macho- No match for Mind Your Biscuits.

Met Mile G1:  1 Mile Fast Dirt at BEL on 10 June 2017

Tom's Ready, Tommy Macho and Sharp Azteca.  I liked Tommy Macho's chase more than anything in this race.  No shame for Sharp Azteca on this day.

What's it all add up to?

Sharp Azteca seemingly has the angles and has picked the right spot and avoided the right competition to add a win to his already impressive credentials.  While anything can happen on any day (blah blah blah ....fill in the blank CYA handicapper stuff) I'm going to single Sharp Azteca in my base handicap and look for a vertical betting opportunity if it presents itself, otherwise I'll stick to the horizontal Pick 3 that has potential with Race 7 a 12 horse field MSW $75K and Race 8 a 12 horse field N1X $90K.

The morning line placed Divining Rod second at 2-1 but I like Tommy Macho here.  The Pompa runner for Trainer Pletcher is 5 of 6 imn the money at Belmont, 5 of 6 at the distance, fired off a 105 career Beyer this calendar year, set a 101 in a good chase of the front running Mor Spirit and Sharp Azteca in the Met Mile, and I don't think the differences in current form justify the spread in values between Tommy Macho and Divining Rod.  So what of Diving Rod? Two starts in 2017 including a lack luster Forego and a win over no one at Laurel Park over sealed slop.  I loved his game beat by head in the Cigar Mile but that was a year ago, the fourth effort in three month stretch and he built towards that.  I like the horse, respect the connections, but if looking for value, I'm, shading him into Show or Exotic on the ticket.

Tom's Ready can hit the board anywhere from Win to 4th.  Not overly fast, he does have tactical speed and a late turn of foot, but I think he'll be too far back to rally to Win, but rally onto the board not unrealistic.

Bird Song is a bit of a wild card.  He was no match at 6f  in The VanderbiltHe was no match to Tommy Macho in the Hal's Hope in early 2017.

Ross (Ire) seems to be entered in the wrong race.

If you're compelled to bet this race, and you feel like I do that Sharp Azteca will win, you could try this:

$1 Super:  5 OVER 2-4 OVER 2-4-1 OVER 1-2-6 for $7.  It's not a big commitment and avoids a big bet and poor risk/reward.

If you feel that Sharp Azteca is vulnerable, and let's be real, this is a Grade 2 and no one here is invulnerable then possibly try $1 Super: 5-2-4 OVER 5-2-4 OVER 1-2-4 OVER 1-2-6 for $16

OR....if you like high risk/high reward...

$1 Super:  2 Over 5-4 OVER 5-4-1 OVER 1-4-6 for $7.

I think that extinguishes my current thoughts on this edition of The Kelso. Whatever you do, have fun, keep the betting real, don't lie to yourself about your losses, and don't waste money on other people's thoughts.

Turk Out!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The PID Mile $200K

War Correspondent

Welcome Friend to The Turk and the Little Turk.  Between family commitments and my school work resuming (yes, a 50 something college kid), I wasn't much of a handicapper or blogger this weekend.  I handicapped the Northern Dancer and Woodbine Mile yesterday but only placed one bet on each race, a $10 win bet on Noble Thought and Glenville Gardens in the respective races but no joy.  Both were 10-1 and I liked their chances and have no regrets about taking a shot.  Most on Twitter that I respect thought both races would go to the chalk and Johnny Bear (who I rated very similar to Noble Thought) who also was about 10-1 nipped Hawkbill at the wire while World Approval really impressed me and I haven't been that high on the grey/roan previously.  He answered questions for me yesterday to move to 4 wins in 5 starts in 2017 for Trainer Mark Casse.  I am getting very excited about Breeders' Cup and he'll present a real dilemma for me. Anyway, my ROI was negative and I lost $20 of investment capital.  It happens and its important to remember that if you don't swing for vulnerable chalk you'll be passing up about a 68% chance of winning.  Vulnerable is relative, obviously!

I'd like to see Presque Isle Downs improve.  The product has been mostly bottom tier for a long time now.  They have a nice 1 mile oval of fake dirt that plays fair.  They have one big race Monday night in the Grade 2 PID Master, the 5th race on an otherwise blah card.  Pick up your game and connect with your audience and don't just collect slot money.  I don't want to be negative.  This was a nice start 5-6 years ago, but no progress is no progress.  The racing seems solely to exist for simulcast feeds. 

Let's get after this!

This should be competitive with War Correspondent and Ghost Hunter on top.  War Correspondent is a very classy 7 year old War Front, lightly raced with only 14 career starts while Ghost Hunter is also 7 and has 48 career starts. 

The next five could finish in any order but my base handicap is my best view of the order of finish.  If going towards Tri's and Super's I think Black Tie Event or Downtown Cowboy, with 14 PID wins between them, could keep running where others ease and get into those last few spots on the ticket.  I am wary of that but I don't think either can win. 

Have fun with it friends.  I think Sister Turk and I are headed South to The Masters tomorrow and I'd love to meet any of you that will be there, but unfortunately, most will just be watching a feed. 

Turk Out!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Northern Dancer and Woodbine Mile

Glenville Gardens
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

Today the Little Turk is running in a cross country race, so this will be an abbreviated look at a fine Woodbine card.

I'm sensing from Twitter that others like myself are going through Kentucky Downs withdrawal this weekend.  I thoroughly loved those six races days as a race fan and as a bettor.  I thought the track played fairly, the fields were deep and interesting, and I love the quirkiness  of the product that is presented, at least through the Twinspires TV feed that I watch.  The track announcers and the rest of the on air commentary is good, not intrusive, and I somehow survived without Trakus or better camera angles.  Of course I'd like to see continued improvements, but a few more race dates would be at the top of my wish list.  Good luck with the politics team Kentucky Downs!

I'm focused on turf running over the past month.  I love the late turn of foot and the big fields that contest these contests.  It brings a bit of special to things when the Euros invade, even if its tier 2 Euro.  I'll be playing more vertically then horizontally today, mostly because of the circumstances of my day and my time constraints.  I do dig the NYRA/Woodbine mixed Pick 5 at the Woodbine entry level price of $0.20 and while you're reading about the bet, read Buffalo News Turf Writer Gene Keshner's take on the days events.   I was listening to HRN this morning and they seem to think these Woodbine turf races are chalky.  I'll get to it, but let's peel back the combatants and I think there may be some interesting value that pops, like Glenville Gardens pictured above.  The gelded 5 YO Street Cry was very game in the Grade 2 Play King, a race he won a year previously at Woodbine.  Let's not sleep on a Street Cry that has won 4 times at the distance and 6 times over this track, with local jock and trainer combo.

Let's Get after it!

I don't anyone beating Hawkbill in the Northern Dancer.  On Lasik, this 4 YO Kitten's Joy has won five of his last 12 and is 5 of 6 in the money at this marathon distance. Has the class and the tactical speed. I'm only tossing two and I could have made a case for multiple scenarios below Hawkbill but I think Noble Thought and Mesi (Ger) will compete for Place and Show with Pumpkin Rumble an interesting candidate for a minor prize. Noble Thought was 10-1 and ran a game Place in the Grade 2 1 1/2 Mile Sky Classic here at Woodbine in late August. 

I'm feeling contrarian in the Woodbine Mile.  I like World Approval but others to like as well and I'm not sure how much I like him on firm turf.  This would be Glenville Gardens biggest score but I think Trainer Attard has the 5 YO peaking.  Deauville is my tepid chalk and a case for 3 YO Lancaster Bomber can be made:This classy War Front was in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and has run a demanding campaign from the UAE to the UK.  Hope we see him at 4. My Show/Exotic Group and my Win/Place Groupings could easily flip flop which makes this field very interesting as a gambler and fan. Conquest Panthera and Tower of Texas could surprise and the classy Mondialiste has nothing to prove.

More on this one past race, I'm off to see Little Turk run.

Turk Out!