Sunday, July 23, 2017

Post Race Analysis of Eddie Reed at Del Mar and Diana at Saratoga

Lady Eli up to win The Diana
Welcome friends to The Turk and The Little Turk Post Race Analysis.

Handicapping for these two races was not complicated and in many ways very similar.  Both had what should have been overwhelming favorites taking on slightly lesser competition.  The Chalks went into the gate at $0.95 to $1 for Lady Eli and $0.70 to $1 for Ashleyluvssugar.  It was tee'd up for the classic single the heavy chalk and find value in Place and Show -OR- Beat the favorite and watch the payouts go big (See Arrogate in the San Diego).  Speaking of Arrogate, The Turk said pre-race he really hates the returning from Dubai first race back angle.  I find it's almost as bad (with smaller sample size) than the first race back after Breeder's Cup.  These big events take a toll.

I said Lady Eli would win that race 90 out of 100 times.  I still believe that.  I said Lady Eli, Antonoe, Dickerson and Quidora would be 1-4 on the tote board and they were.  My handicap could have easily netted a $22.20 exacta and $66.50 Trifecta.

It's so rare to see a horse break through the gate and then run well.  Lady Eli really impressed me today.  I'll be curious where Antonoe is pointed next as I'm still high on the physically big filly.

In the Eddie Reed, my real coup was where I rated Mr. Roary.  I thought he'd be Place or Show and he was, while the betting public had her sixth out of 7th.  It's that sort of edge that separates you from the public and gives you an opportunity to make money in this game.   My handicap would have given you the Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta.  The $2 Superfecta paid $485.60.

Ashleyluvssugar is an inconsistent runner who Stevens usually gets the most out of.  Overbet, but the field didn't exactly lend itself to confidence in the other runners.  Hunt (Ire) and Mr. Roary should be added to virtual stables and kept tabs of.







Have fun with the races friends.  I'll be back with Tuesday's $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes from Fort Erie.

Turk Out!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Eddie Reed at Del Mar

Del Mar

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

It took me less than 24 hours to be a liar in this blog.  I said I wasn't playing Del Mar this summer, I couldn't resist dipping my toe in the surf with the Grade 2 Eddie Reed, 9 panels over a route of grass.  While most eyes will be on The San Diego and the return to North American racing for Arrogate, this older turf event is more my speed.  I'm not sure how I'd play Arrogate today anyway: I typically always bet against horses on first effort back from Dubai but I don't think I'd do that here.  Regardless,  lets take a look at Race Four and focus on this task at hand.

Let's get it on!

Only two last race winners in the gate today:  Mr Roary won an OC62K wire to wire over firm turf at 1 1/4 miles and Ashleyluvssugar in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham.





In the 1 Mile American Stakes at Santa Anita, Kenjisstorm showed me nothing even with a great rail trip ride, while Hunt (Ire) was really rolling the last panel.  Can he run contrary to a 266 Tomlinson?






On paper, Ashleyluvssugar is the only legitimate graded stakes runner in this bunch.  With Steven up, this horse has shown the ability to rate and have a late turn of foot to finish off the competition.  I expect that today.

So who will Ashleyluvssugar be rallying against?  I've got a deep group of four with little differentiating them.

Mr Roray I considered tossing at first look but upon reflection this 2nd effort off 180 day layoff (which Trainer Papaprodromou is 0 of 4 at this past year) is a cut back of 1/8 mile and this very classy Scat Daddy 4 YO seems very undervalued.

Hunt (Ire) goes blinkers on this race.  As I previously said, I loved his closing speed against the pace in the American.  Is that who he is?  Zero of four at Del Mar and Zero of 2 at the distance.

Kenjisstorm gets Bejarano up today, and Jock/Trainer Baltas are 27% winners on 30 starts at DMR,
Makes class jump from N3X/Claimers.

Abbey Vale (Ire) is a first time claim run for Trainer Doug O'Neill,  O'Neill's barn wins 20% of these in 46 claims over past year.

In consideration for Show or 4th is Up With The Birds.

At first blush I'm thinking Trifecta based on Ashleyluvssugar singled and Exacta with Ashleyluvssugar in both spots.  

$2 Trifecta:  6 OVER 1-2-3-7 OVER 1-2-3-7=$24.  Sneaking the 5 horse into SHOW brings the bet to $32

$2 Exacta:  6-1-2-3-7 BOXED= $50  too much,  Reworking 6-1-2-3 BOXED=  $40.  Still too much.

$2 Exacta:  6 OVER 1-2-3=$6

$2 Trifecta:  6 OVER 1-2-3 OVER 1-2-3-7=$18

I'm still toying with it.  Have fun and bet responsibly.  Turk out!




The Turk at 600 Posts: 21 September 2008- Present; A Study in Persistence



Dear friends, family and readers, Welcome to the Turk and the Little Turk, where today I am celebrating the 600th blog posting, dating back to 21 September 2008.

It was a different time when this blog began.Twitter and Facebook were still just starting to take hold, and whole communities of bloggers banded together by subject material, and the one I gravitated to was horse racing.

I thought I could provide free, No BS Past Performance analysis and bet structures to my readers, as well as develop some horse racing fan friendships.  I've accomplished those relatively modest goals and my only regret is declining readership and a lack of feedback in the form of comments.  There are times when I feel like I'm talking in space, inside my helmet, with no one listening.  I made a decision to blog for myself, first and foremost, and if I can grow my incredibly rapid group of core readers, so be it.  There was a moment a few years ago when I thought about hanging it up. I kept asking myself if I still enjoyed reaching 100 people per post.  After time to think about it, the answer is always yes, The Turk will endure until I no longer have anything to offer.

I've included some images that appeared in this blog over the years.  I'm proud that this blog consistently produces top shelf handicapping and not too shabby bet construction.  I'm as dedicated and excited about the next 600 posts as I was the past 600.  I'll never compete with the bigger blogs, I'll never get thousands of views per post, advertisers will never be craving space on my margins, and I'm good with all that:  I'm a hack handicapper who doesn't bedazzle anyone with fancy terminology or systems and I'm content with this blog being what it is.   The Turk blog would never have happened if it wasn't for the internet kindness of Equispace blogger and now Buffalo News Turf Writer Gene Kershner.  Blame him!



                                                  A Little Turk Halloween circa 2007


Little Turk and I:  Arlington Millions Preview Day 2007



The Turk in the IRS Cashing Lane at the Spa 2006


                     What I thought would be the last Derby Winner and the Next Derby Winner: Mine that Bird and Eskendereya


The Turk's Office:  Street Sense, Curlin, Rachael, Ruffian, Mine That Bird, Rags to Riches


A cold Breeders' Cup Day at Churchill


Lost by a Nose to John Henry


Horse Racing Friend Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds-Rest in Peace



Three Generations of Turk at the Spa 2007


A Corbin Clan gathering at Arlington 


The Turk Clan 

On a cold and rainy Preakness Saturday 2013

Pioneerof the Nile winning the Santa Anita Derby 2009


Little Turk at Arlington Million 2016


A mature Grandma Turk and Sister Turk at Fort Erie


Thanks for reading.  Expect about the same.

Turk Out!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Diana Grade 1 at Saratoga

Lady Eli- Equisport Photos
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  I'd like to start by thanking The Thorofan and the Handicapper's Corner for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today about The Diana, a Grade 1 affair run over 1 1/8 miles of the Mellon turf course at Saratoga.

Keep your eye on the scratches, changes and track condition.  With a six horse field, one scratch would be one too many.  Weather doesn't seem to be an issue at the Spa until maybe Sunday.

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At Saratoga, when analyzing your Past Performances, a T in a circle represents a race run on the Mellon or outer turf course.

A T in a square box represents an inner turf event.

As with any two turf course configuration, inner turf races have very tight corners and its different racing dynamics.  Take that into account when judging cross over horses from one track to the other.  You'll also note visually why you won't see many shorter sprints on this turf course, as it's hard to configure without placing the starting gate right on the 1st corner.

Are you a Saratoga watcher, a Del Mar watcher or both or some other combination over the summer meets?  I love Saratoga even if my ROI's are lower at Saratoga than most other courses.  I lived in Saratoga during the 1986 race season and I walked to the track from my house on Jumel Place.  I could have bought the little house for $70,000 from my landlord, and it recently sold for $450,000. My ROI off the racetrack in Saratoga isn't any better!

As far as Del Mar,  I was very turned off by the former artificial surface.  It played horribly and I have yet to really come back.  It's not an East Coast/West Coast thing with me, in fact, as an East Coast Handicapper I use to play Santa Anita, Del Mar and Hollywood exclusively.   For me, I'm going to focus on Arlington Turf and Saratoga Turf and Dirt Routes, that's my summer plan.

Today's Diana is a six horse field with the mighty Lady Eli leading the way.  At $2.4 MM lifetime earnings, she towers over the rest of the field with 11 starts and 11 times in the money.  She's not unbeatable, and she will be bet hard and heavy on opening weekend,  Let's see if we can make a case against her.





Lady Eli has finished in the Win or Place spot in every race in her 11 race career.  That's multiple Grade 1 competition.  When you watch her a beaten nose in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last year, how do you take anything away from her.





She followed that race up with a long break, a Place by a head in the Jenn Wiley  and then set a career high best Beyer of 104 in Gamely.  I think if this race is run 100 times she wins 90 of the 100 races.

Gamely Stakes Grade 1:  1 1/8 Mile Hillside start on Santa Anita Firm Turf




I look at the field and I wonder where pace pressure will come from.  I'm not sure it will and she may have the lead early and hold it.  I think that's the most likely scenario and from an overlay perspective, I'd have a hard time taking a position a against her, but the tote board will make that decision for me.  There are at least two legitimate candidates to beat her in this field.

Let's take a look at Antonoe and Dickerson:

Just a Game Stakes Grade 1:  1 Mile Firm Turf at Belmont



Great trip and ride by Castellano, taking the rail when the rail opened late.  This was not some paceless fake Grade 1.  Watch the stride, watch the power.  Impressive win for Antonoe.  Trainer Chad Brown has a very impressive stable this year, and with Antonoe and Ladi Eli, he has an embarrassment of riches.  I would expect Antonoe will take one run at Lady Eli but lets not expect that sort of gift trip every race.  You have to respect the speed she showed on that late run.  I'm really floored watching that.  

Dickerson is a flawed but very talented 5 YO Medaglia d'Oro mare.  5 wins in 7 career turf starts. Three straight wins this spring, all graded stakes over routes of grass.  Not a great trip in the Just A Game, sent outside late, willingly up for Show and one more hop away from Place.  If I get 9/2 or 5-1 I'll be happy.

Jenny Wiley Grade 1:  1 1/16 Miles on Firm Turf at Keeneland



Quidora (GB) has class, but her class won't win this.  She had a nice stalking trip in the Grade 2 New York but I didn't think she really got rolling until 1 3/16ths.

New York Stakes Grade 2: 1 1/4 Miles on Firm Turf at Belmont




She's cutting back 1/8 of a mile.  Watch her here over soft turf at 1 1/16 miles in a big field at Keeneland, the Grade 3 Valley View.



My Impression hasn't really made an impression on me, and I'm more impressed with her connections than anything she's done on the track.   Training nicely and coming in off an effort at PARX on July 4th,  winless in 4 starts in 2017 for Trainer McGaughey, with Ortiz up for owner Stuart Janney III.  The trainer/jockey were 21% together last SAR meet.  5 Wins in 13 turf starts. Unless things go really upside down its hard to imagine anything but a minor Exotic prize.

I've tossed 4 Year Old Harmonize.  You can't cover everyone, but Bill Mott is a hard one to just discount.  While today's field is small, this is a classy group, including this daughter of Scat Daddy.  It's hard to believe the Florida Derby and excellent sire Scat Daddy is gone, may he rest in peace.


Antonoe-NYRA Susie Raisher
So what do we do with this?  As I write this on Thursday night, I take stock of what I know:

The Turf should be firm.

The Course should be in good shape.

A six horse field with Harmonize and My Impression long shots and not very live.

I'd expect the tote board ranking will be Lady Eli, Antonoe, Dickerson, Quidora in that order.

I'm not sure where pace will come from.  This is a pretty similar group of running style horses.  Is it as simple as Lady Eli going gate to wire?  I think that's a strong possibility.  Who will take late run and who has best late turn of foot?  I like what I've seen in a limited body of work from Antonoe.  

I'm not sure what I'm going to bet yet, but whatever I do, I'm going to keep the risk/reward quotient realistic.

Have fun friends.  Do your own handicapping and bypass the tip sheets.

Turk Out!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Post Race Recap with Video and Charts: Delaware Park Pick 3 with Delaware Handicap


Songbird- Averie Levanti
Welcome Friends to the Post Race recap edition of The Turk and the Little Turk.

The Turk sat on the sidelines today in the Race 7-8-9 Pick 3 at Delaware Park I handicapped earlier in the day. Too many scratches and no real belief that anything other than chalk in at least two of the legs would win. What did I pass on?  The $2 Pick 3 paid $21.40.  The race track investor must be choosy and I wasn't thrilled with the fields or the quality running today.  There is nothing wrong with passing and The Turk has always rejected this idea of needing some action.  I know, boring old stodgy Turk, well I'd rather be old (bald) and stodgy with a positive ROI than a riverboat gambler.

When I looked at the selections before race 7, I fully expected Eighty Three would win as a heavy chalk, I thought Frostmourne or Master Plan would win Race 8 and Songbird would win in Race 9.    I saw no value and passed.








Race 7


































Race 8


Race 9





I'm really baffled why supposed race fans bash horses.  Songbird just won her 13th race in 14 lifetime starts.  I'm happy for Mr. Rick Porter and the very proud organization, Fox Hill Farms.

I don't know where Songbird stacks up in the greatest Filly ever list and quite frankly, it doesn't matter.  She's not racing Zenyatta, Rachael Alexandra, Blind Luck, Royal Delta, Flower Bowl, Bayakoa, Ruffian or Our Mims, she's racing whoever shows up.  I'm happy for her connections today, and she exits ready to battle the naysayers another day.

The Porters: Rick and Betsy


Turk Out!










The Nomination Is In: The Delaware Handicap and Race 7-9 Pick Three

Songbird at Santa Anita: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Welcome friends to The Turk and The Little Turk Blog, a handicapping and horse racing blog established in 2008 on the premise of offering no BS handicapping to people who never asked for it.  It's free and it stacks up well with anything you will pay for.

Mr Rick Porter and Fox Hill Farms are the type of horse campaigners this sport needs more of.  A true sportsman in every sense of the word, Mr, Porter has brought to this game some of The Turk's favorite runners over the past 10+ years:   Harve de Grace, Hard Spun, Eight Belles, Rockport Harbor, Old Fashioned, Kodiak Kowboy and now Songbird.

How many of you rank 2011's Delaware Handicap as one of the greatest races of this decade so far:



We wish Mr. Porter the best as his long battle with cancer continues.  How many losses of true horsemen can this sport survive?  That's what the Turk worries about, but that's a deeper question for bloggers more worthy than I.

Today's edition of the Delaware Handicap doesn't contain a Blind Luck or even a Life at Ten (The Life at Ten Breeders' Cup Distaff debacle to me is still one of the great horse racing black eyes of the past decade).

I'm going to think horizontally today with a Pick 3.  I can take the contrarian position that the enormous favorite Songbird will be beaten or I can single her and try and find value in the first two legs.

Let's get after it!




The Dirt and Turf are listed as GOOD and there are no scratches  as of this morning.  The weather doesn't look to be a problem so expect upgrading in the track as the day goes on.

Race 7 is a $50,000 Stakes Race, The Hockessin, a one turn 6 furlong affair for 3 YOs and Up on the dirt.  Eighty Three is 8 of 9 on fast dirt in the money and 8 of 9 in the money at this distance.  Last raced April 13, Trainer David Jocobsen is only 9% off the 61-180 day break.  Expect the 6 YO gelded son of Harlan's Holiday out of Life's a Dance to be chalk.  The two I have my eye on are Never Gone South and Debt Ceiling.

Never Gone South enters off a 6f driving win in late June and is 6 of 7 in the money on fast dirt while Trainer Cathal Lynch is 23% stakes winner over past year on 39 tries.  Debt Ceiling, a recent claim of Kieth Nations has been working really well over past month and makes 2017 debut here.  Nations is 18% with new claims, 12% off 180 Day layoff.  Expect good price. I'm not that high on some that will be high on tote board: Always Sunshine and Chief Lion.  You have to pick your poison sometimes.

In Race 8 we have the The Kent, a Grade 3 1 1/8 mile route over grass for 3 YOs.  Trainer Christophe Clement, a 19% Turf winner on 634 starts in past year, brings in Frostmourne, the Grade 2 Penn Mile winner last time out.  This colt is rapidly improving.

Master Plan is an $850,000 March 16 OBS purchase trained by Todd Pletcher.  Classy Twirling Candy from Sage Mist (Henry Hughes).  Winner of the Delaware Park $50K Stanton, his second race back after a well beaten Show to Thunder Snow in UAE Derby and a very well beaten hand ride in his first effort back, the G3 Peter Pan in May.  Will be bet heavily and he's really a coin toss which way he goes.

I like The Tortoise: Two bullets coming into the race and a 1 Mile Allowance win on from turf here at Delaware last time out.  Lunaire shouldn't be ignored but again, you can't cover everyone.  A Malibu Moon colt, conditioned by Trainer Thomas Albertrani with Mike Smith up.     Adonis Creed beaten by Master Plan in the Stanton is a Brilliant Speed colt.  Brilliant Speed died yesterday in a freak lightning strike at Three Chimneys Farm.  Rest in Peace Brilliant Speed!



In Race 9, the Delaware Handicap it's Songbird's to lose.  Trainer Kieth Nation's has Martini Glass training well and enters off a game Place in a 100K stakes. Weep No More goes with blinkers today for Trainer George Arnold.  Winless since a Grade 1 Ashland win in 2016 from last at the top of the stretch to first at the wire.  Field size is the same and the pace maybe the same.  Songbird is better than this.



So what to do? First of all, have fun and do your own handicapping.  When it comes to bet construction, you have several ways to approach this.





I think there are 5 contenders in Race 7, 4 Contenders in Race 8 and One Contender in Race 9.  Top to bottom in base handicap is how I count those out.

A $2 PICK THREE with 5 Horses OVER 4 Horses OVER Single would cost $40. That's not value and isn't a bet worth betting.

Two basic approaches, maybe three:


  1. Single Songbird and look for value in first two legs
  2. Look for Songbird upset, but if that happens you MUST win first two legs
  3. Keep bet cost <$20 bucks and enjoy the action.

For low cost betting on this three race sequence I've settled on  either a $16 bet that envisions Songbird's Defeat or an $18 that gives me three chances in the first two legs and Songbird singled.  

I'll be watching the toteboard and won't be that emotional about which 2 or 3 I cover in Race 7 and 8. I'll use my base handicap and the tote board to find value.   

Turk Out!



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Graded Stakes Race Analysis From Belmont and Arlington Park


Ghost Hunter

Welcome friends to the Post handicap review of the Turk and the Little Turk.  The Turk gave out for the Arlington Handicap one name as live and long, none other than 12-1 Ghost Hunter and $2 win bettors were rewarded with $26.  The 7 YO Ghostzapper has run very well on the AP fake dirt and won last time out over Deleware Park grass.

I was surprised that Kasaqui tracked and fired too late.  I was not surprised that Oak Brook ran so well coming off the Black Tie Affair win.  A ridiculous 20-1 Morning line that carried over to the Tote Board.

I had very limited betting today.  I passed on the Suburban.  As you'll see, with a scratch the field dropped to five and I was pretty sure Shaman Ghost would win.  I wasn't/still isn't a Keen Ice backer, but he made one hard run and it was plenty today.

The Modesty and the Arlington Handicap was a mixed bag for me.  Just focused on the slotting, the color shows I had the horses slotted appropriately in order of finish.  I did pretty good on the Modesty with a Trifecta, Exacta and a $10 Win Bet on Dona Bruja (Arg).

In the Arlington Handicap as I said previously, I was eyeing Ghost Hunter as the long shot and had a $10 win bet on him.   I gave back about half those winnings on some poorly constructed cards centered on Kasaqui and Manitoulin.

















































Finally at Belmont, I was turned off by a six horse Suburban and really turned off when Sunny Ridge scratched and left five.




Hindsight 20-20 I made a major betting error.  If I would have simply boxed my trifecta selections from my base handicap, a $2 bet costing $12, would have returned $96.  I left money on the table, but I was just turned off.





























Finally, a few races from Belmont Park to pay attention to.

Race 10: The Belmont Derby Invitational.  3 YO 1 1/4 Miles Grass.



























Race 6  The Dywer, Grade 3.  1 Mile, Dirt  3YO's




















Turk Out!