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!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Post Race Results: Kentucky Downs Late Stakes Pick 4 including Turf Cup

Hogy- Photo by Reed Palmer/KY Downs

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

The stars aligned for me yesterday:  I had time, quiet and a real desire to engage with Kentucky Downs, which has quickly become one of my favorite tracks.  I'm a turf racing/handicap division handicapper to begin with, and this is like a short stay in heaven.  

I spent quite a bit of time inside the past performances of the late all Stakes-
Pick 4, perhaps because I was looking for hidden gems.  Quite frankly, all I saw in everyone of these races was a dividing line in Class, Speed and Form, and I think you'll see visually my handicaps were pretty much dead on with only St. Louie sneaking up on me (as much as a Michael Maker/ Arch son can be ignored) and the lack of response from Enterprising, both in the Turf Cup.  

My ROI on the day was +16% which is well below my opportunity cost of 40%.  You can win and lose, and I know that I may have ended the day a bit up, it's not enough earnings to offset the inevitable losses.  

What did I do wrong:

  • Not singling Miss Temple City.  My personal money line was 1.8-1 and the two additional covers I made cost me $40 dollars in earnings and was the difference between a 400% ROI and 16%.  
  • Undervalued Happy Mesa in Race 8I had her at 40-1.  The Michael Maker was coming in off a very sharp 4F in :47 2/5ths over CD Turf and was making a deep cutback.  
  • before mentioned St. Louie.
What I did right:
    • I had Race 7 dialed in:  Cold Exacta paid $11.80 for $2 bet.  It wasn't complicated and you do get credit for not overthinking. 
    • A four horse Tri Box in Race 9 would have paid $109.80 for $48, $2 bet.  
    •  A five horse Tri Box in Race 10 would have paid $231.20 for a $120, $2 bet. 

Watching Kentucky Downs on Twin Spires TV is like stepping back in time with the quality of the video, the graphics, the lack of camera angles, but I can't say I minded it.  There was something liberating about not having some smarthty talking head rambling non stop.

Happy Sunday Friends.  I'm off to watch my Buffalo Bills (I know, laugh now).  Also, please pray for everyone affected by Hurricane Irma, especially the horses and backstretch workers at the various tracks and farms.

Turk Out!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Late Pick 4 at Kentucky Downs

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk. 

The Turk loves turf racing, but I was very late to the game with Kentucky Downs.  Coming on the heels of summer meets at Saratoga and Del Mar, my attention normally turns to Presque Isle, Belmont and Santa Anita as I start to think about my biggest gambling weekend of every year, Breeders' Cup.  It wasn't until two years ago that I embraced this quirky track and it's quirky meet that is both race fan friendly, bettor friendly and incredibly forward thinking in comparison to most of what I see from horse racing "thinkers". 

I've spent the better part of 3 hours handicapping the last four races of the card today, a pick four sequence that kicks off at 5:18 ET.  The scratches and changes can be found here and my picks represent the best knowledge of scratches at around 11:00 ET.  It should be dry today.

I'm going to watch the races before finalizing my P4 selections.  I've provided my possible covers in my chart and I'll be using my base handicaps to fashion my vertical bets. 

Have fun with this card friends.  Will focus a bit more on each race in the Post Race review.

Turk Out!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Songbird: All 15 Race Video Retrospective

Songbird- Mary Cage

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  

Horses. Handicapping and Hijinks. That has been the subtitle of this blog for nine years.  While I focus quite a bit on handicapping, I am first and foremost a fan of the horses and the people that campaign them.

Fox Hill Farms, Mr. Porter and family, have given this horse racing fan much to cheer about.  Eight Belles. Old Fashioned. Kodiak Kowboy.  Harve De Grace.  Hard Spun


15 Starts.  13 Wins.  2 terribly close Place finishes.  A Breeders' Cup Champion.  Nine Grade 1 victories.  In an era where the word great has been watered down, she was great.  A great champion.

I wanted to remember her as the great Champion she was, and words aren't how I'll remember her but it's through the video of her game and determined efforts that she will live on for me.

Enjoy retirement big girl, you earned it.

Saratoga; 26 August 2017; The Personal Ensign Stakes G1

Delaware Park 15 July 2017;  The Delaware Handicap G1

Belmont Park; 10 June 2017; The Ogden Phipps Stakes G1

Santa Anita; 4 November 2016; The Breeders' Cup Distaff G1

Parx Racing; 24 September 2016; The Cotillion Stakes G1

Saratoga; 20 August 2016; The Alabama Stakes G1

Saratoga; 24 July 2016; CCA Oaks G1

Santa Anita; 18 June 2016; Summertime Oaks G2

Santa Anita; 9 April 2016; The Santa Anita Oaks G1

Santa Anita; 5 March 2016; The Santa Ysabel Stakes G3

Santa Anita; 6 February 2016; The Las Virgenes Stakes G2

Keeneland;  31 October 2015; Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies G1

Santa Anita; 26 September 2015; The Chandelier Stakes G1

Del Mar; 5 September 2015; The Debutante G1

Del Mar; 26 July 2015; MSW