Friday, November 22, 2019

The Nomination Is In; The Red Smith G3 at Aqueduct

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog.  I'd like to thank the good people at The Thorofan and the Handicappers Corner for inviting me to share my thoughts with you today.

This is not a race or a track I would generally handicap.  It's not that I'm biased, I just find the variables too many and the motivations of the connections too varied regarding the starting of turf runners in a northern climate track in late November.  You have the tight inner track, the weather, the horses who are building towards next year, the horses who are looking for one last kick at the can, the grizzled vets who are on their way to amassing 50 starts in their careers.  You get it all post Breeders' Cup, late season racing.  All that said, what these types of races are good for to me is isolation:  Almost all the runners are outside of the hype and BS marketing that can skew a horse players opinion of a race, and quite frankly very few of them I have played this year.  It allows me in the isolation of just my red gel pen annotated DRF Formulator PPs (an unpaid endorsement)  to study the data and bet purely on what I see on paper and a bit of video.

Let's get after it!

The NYRA website is one of the more friendly horse player track sites in my opinion.  You'll find scratches and changes and track condition here.  The weather Friday/Saturday is for rains to end around 4 PM Friday and be pretty dry and windy after that.  The inner turf track is listed as Good right now, I can't imagine it getting much better or worse but I'll take note of track conditions at end of today.  This is an inner turf race, you'll find a press release here describing the new inner turf course which was unveiled in late 2018 replacing the "all weather" inner track.  I have never played it, but take into account the turns are tight and the field is big.  The race does not start in the chute.

I'd argue the finish line is off a bit but you get the idea.

Sadler's Joy on pure class, current form, solid connections.  If I bet the race I'll most likely single him but I really need to get a feel from the tote board what the value proposition is on an exacta or trifecta.  Comes in off two solid Grade 1 efforts.  His late speed, tactical speed and the race distance should allow him to close but there is a chance he made be further back at the top of the stretch than he may normally like.  Again, based on tote board, I may cover him in place and show but a lot of that depends on the price I get for the four horse group I have in yellow.

I'll work backwards.  Red Knight is intriguing but may come to odds with a shorter price than morning line.  I love the Alvarado/Mott 25% strike rate at AQA with 72 starts.  Cutting back off a win.  Ran last year's edition of race (5th).

Roger Attfield's Tiz a Slam is training exceptionally well at Woodbine and ships in for this.  Late speed, cutback distance.  I don't care for gate position so his trip will have so much to do with his outcome.

I really like Nakamura.   Training well for Conditioner Motion, this 4 YO son of Motion's most famous trainee, Animal Kingdom (although Turk's favorite was Shared Account, daughter of another Turk Favorite Pleasantly Perfect- I think I digress) I like the late speed.  5 of 5 In the money in 2019 (one bump from 4th from DQ), 10 of 12 in the money over grass.

A million dollar purchase, Marzo has earned $263,000 in 16 lifetime races, the gelding goes for Trainer Michael Maker after bouncing through alot of barns.  7 of 9 in the money in 2019, 7 of 8 in the money over turf, alot of potential in the right hands and patience level.

Glorious Empire is of course dangerous.  8 YO deserves  to wind down soon and this may be the swan song.  6-1 morning line seems generous, I don't see him in the top four.

Red Right Hand is interesting.  6 of 7 in the money in 2019, early tactical speed, I question if the gelded son of Looking at Lucky is good enough, fast enough, to step forward and beat the top of my chart.  I don't think so, yet.

Another that is very interesting to me at the start of 2020 will be 4 YO Petit Fils (Fr) trained by Christophe Clement.  Clement is 9% first time Lasix, 10% First Time Trainer, 4% first time North America.  This talented gelding I will have my eye on next few starts.

This is purely a tote board play for me.  I feel pretty strongly that this is Sadler's Joy race to lose.  I will need to believe the tote board would reward me for his misfortune.  I'd love to see him get bet down to 6-5 or better and then I would come in with a box 1-3-4-8, a $2 Exacta for $24.

I think that's my base handicap and bet.

Have fun with it friends, Turk Out!

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Nomination Is In: The Turf Mile at Keeneland

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now beginning our twelfth year.  I'd like to thank The Thorofan for allowing us the opportunity to opine on what we love, turf racing. 

My readers and friends and family know that I have been sour on horse racing most of this year.  I needed a break.  The bad press, the self inflicted screw ups, the small fields and my perceived lack of general interest from the race tracks and the people that horde over this sport for the average fan had left me questioning my life's choices.  I'd love to tell you I'm over that, but I'm not.  Watching Santa Anita, and most of California racing, flounder in their own missteps still leaves me jaded.  The one thing I do love in this sport is turf racing and I've never soured on the horses.  I have a real soft sport for the cagey turf runners in their late careers that can still find that late turn of foot that makes you need to remember them, to account for their pace and positioning.  Similar to my Catholic Church which has been screwed up royally by the actions of flawed humans, so has horse racing, but the one thing humans can't screw up for me is the horses themselves and the hard knocking honest efforts.  Let's get after this!

That's quite a field, not too much quality but far from lacking and no real clunkers.  The weather looks relatively dry and warm over the next few days and Saturday before getting wetter Sunday.  You'll find turf conditions and scratches and changes here.

Let's start with a video review of last races.

The Tourist Mile; 31 August 2019; Firm KD.  Next Shares/1, First Premio/9, Real Story/14

Secretariat G1; 10 August 2019; Firm 1 Mile; AP.  Van Beethoven/2 and Valid Point/4

Arlington Million G1; 10 August 2019; 1 1/4 Mile Firm; AP.  Bandua/3

Del Mar Mile  G2; 18 August 2019; Firm   Bowies Hero/5

Vanderbilt Stakes G1; 27 July 2019; 6f Fast Dirt; SAR  Diamond OOps/7

Oettingen-Renned G2; 1 September 2019; Good Turf 1 Mile; Baden Germany.  Vintager(GB)

Prix du Moulin de Longchamp G1; 8 Sept. 2019; 1 Mile Good/Soft; Robin of Navan (FR)/10

Bernard Baruch Handicap G2; 2 Spet 2019; 1 1/16 Mile Soft. SAR. March to the Arch/11

I never BS my readers:  I don't have a strong opinion on this race.  That doesn't mean much because my handicaps are built with the best information my eyes see and the data that is available, but from a betting perspective, because it's so close, I didn't have strong convictions on the pace and how the race might unfold.  I've won some big strikes when I felt worse about a race and I have lost races I felt invincible about.  Welcome to the most humbling game in town!

All that said, I liked Bandura coming in off the Arlington Million show.  The four year old son of The Factor, has deceptive Timeform figs and is very tactical.  The data doesn't support me too much here but I like what I see and I like the last two efforts. 

Valid Point is a three year old undefeated Scat Daddy trained by Chad Brown.  His future over a route of grass is bright but is his present good enough to take on seasoned older horses?  A grade 1 winner, The Secretariat field wasn't spectacular.  Class alone has me high on him as each start goes by.

I'm not going to analyze too much deeper that this next group as I'll only be looking at exactas and I'll be playing this group in with the top two.  Bowies Hero ships in from California.  He's a solid mile horse, 8 of 14 in the money with 6 wins.  Van Beethoven is a Canadian bred Scat Daddy 3 YO also, winless in 6 starts in 2019, winless in 4 tries at the distance.  Last three race running lines before Secretariat:  "...1f out w/o threatening, no threat, never a threat...".  That's a problem.  I liked his Secretariat effort and I think he's improving for Trainer Aidan O'Brien.  Admission Office is just an honest Trainer Brian Lynch special.  Cutting back a 1/16 from a solid Grade 2 Wise Dan.  Of the foreign invaders I like Vintager (GB) but others will argue Suedois (Fr)Vintager is first time lasix and comes in off two wins.  Trainer Appleby does well first time in North America, 60% off small sample size. 

I'll be keeping my risk small and my fun high.  Enjoy friends. Exactas only for me.  3/4 OVER 3/4 and X, Y, Z.  X, Y and Z will be from my B's and C++'s and I'll be looking at value on the tote more than anything else on the past performances. 

Turk Out!

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Nomination Is In: The Woodward Grade 1 at Saratoga

Preservationist with J. Alvarado up; Photo by Coglianese/Joe Labozzetta
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, rapidly completing our tenth full year of providing horse racing analysis and handicapping advice to readers who never asked for it.  I'd like to thank the good people at The Thorofan for asking me to share my thoughts with you today on The Woodward, a Grade 1 dirt affair over what should be a fast Saratoga course.

Readers of the Turk will note that I have not been very active in horse racing this year.  Quite frankly, I considered quitting The Turk and leaving the sport entirely.  I'm tired of the constant ways that this sport finds to turn off the fans, the bettors, the lack of any real vision, the criticism of anyone that offers any real vision, and then the tracks themselves: tone deaf, reactionary, caring only about themselves.  Musicians playing on the deck of the Titanic, except the Titanic sank years ago.  This is not the grand boat it was.  Look at the empty seats behind Preservationist at Belmont as he enters the win circle.  Visit tracks most days of the week, you already know what I mean.  The Turk is talking to the choir, and its a small choir.  I love the sport, as anyone reading this does to.  Try as much as I have tried in 10 plus years and I have only been able to grow a few new casual fans of the game.  It's disheartening.  I still have my loves: Kentucky Downs is opening for its short meet (5 dates beginning tomorrow through September 12), Arlington is still a palace and sooner or later CDI will let it go for someone to try to make it right, and the horses themselves, the older vets grinding out a living.  Try as humans do to screw things up, the horses are why I won't quit the sport.

Let's get after this handicap!

Let's start with a bit of light video review.

The Whitney G1 SAR:  1 1/8 Miles/Fast Dirt/August 3

The Alydar $100K SAR ; 1 1/8 Miles/Fast Dirt/August 2

The Gold Cup (Not at Hollywood thanks CDI) Santa Anita: 1 1/4/Fast Dirt/27 May

The Pacific Classic G1 Del Mar; 1 1/4 Miles/Fast Dirt/17 August

I'm pretty torn on this race.  There is not a ton of early speed, perhaps enough for the late chargers to take an aim at, but the pace is a bit foggy to me.  I'll assume that Mr. Buff, Tom's d'Etat, and Preservationist will strike the lead early.  By my base handicap you have already surmised that Yosida (Jpn) and Preservationist have the best opportunity to be there at the wire, with  Tom's d'Etat, Vino Rosso, Mongolian Groom and Mr. Buff moving in different direction in the last 1/8 of a mile, some advancing some retreating.  I think I just summed up every horse race that's ever been run over grass!  My apologies.

I think I ultimately see Yosida's class as what separates him from everyone else by a head or so.  The 5 YO $2.3 MM earner is winless in 2019 but possibly just getting going after the grueling Dubai trip, with a very solid Whitney run.  2 of 2 in the money at Saratoga including last year's Woodward.  1 win in 5 dirt starts

Preservationist is my kinda horse, 6 YO, out of Arch, with only 9 career starts.  5 wins in last 7 starts, 5 of 6 in the money over fast dirt. Trainer Jerkens is 29% in Graded Stakes over past rolling year, 21% over Dirt and 24% routes.  Jerkens/Junior Alvarado 25% winners in 16 SAR starts.

Out of my group of 4 possible Place/Show horses, I'm intrigued by Mongolian Groom.  The numbers tell me I shouldn't be:  0 wins in 8 dirt starts, shipping from California, no SAR starts, no wins at distance, 2 wins in last 14 starts, $370,000 earnings in 14 starts, Trainer Ganbat 0% Graded Stakes in 10 tries rolling year.  Why did they ship?  Current form off Grade 2 San Diego and 2 weeks back Pacific Classic not too shabby.  I like the taking a swing approach.  It's not like they shipped to a County Fair, they shipped to Saratoga.  I dig the effort.

Vino Rosso, the 4 YO Curlin, has got the class and 2 straight triple digit Beyers, including a saavy Pletcher move to put him in a weak Gold Cup.  Ran a solid Whitney. Blinkers off, something Pletcher wins 24% of the time in 25 tries. Training good.  Nothing to dislike, but this is gambling and The Turk is unlike a public/paid handicapper who doesn't want to look bad and just tells you what he thinks.  Turk thinks Vino Rosso is an OK horse, $1.3 MM earner who is winless at SAR and incredibly has never Placed.

Tom's d' Etat is also very interesting and I consider him a good priced win candidate.  4-1 ML, I think that goes towards 3-1 but I'd like to see it head towards 5-1 to get really excited.  3 of 3 at SAR, 8 of 8 in the money on fast dirt and 4 of 5 in the money at the distance.  The 6 year old was a $100,000 Smart Stike who only has 13 starts.  5 of last 7 in the money with 3 wins.

I'm thinking exacta's will be my play and I'm watching the price on Tom d'Etat to see if I include him in win portions of the bet.

Have fun with it friends!

Turk Out

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Nomination Is In: The Kentucky Derby and the Turf Classic

Raging Bull (Fr): Photo by Benoit

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now in our 12th year of providing handicapping advice and betting strategy to an audience that never really asked for it.

Today's the big day, the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.  To this handicapper, older turf runners are my specialty and focus, so while the rest of the world is enthralled with three year old's breaking in a massive field over dirt at a distance only two have ever raced at, I'm the odd ball who just prefers the older horses.  I like the data, the performance history and pacing of turf racing.  I'm not anti three year old dirt runners, it's just not what I'm caught up in.  I handicapped quite a few races this spring but not one prep, so don't bother reading my advice on that race, there are plenty of bright minds you can tune into for all things Triple Crown.

Now I do have a gamblers pulse and there is something about a big field with wide open odds, so after i indulge my turf racing passion I share my thoughts about tote board handicapping as it relates to the Kentucky Derby.

Let's go!

Your find scratches/changes and track condition via this link to the Churchill Downs website.  The hour by hour weather forecast is looking pretty bleak, especially after 2 PM.  The Turf is Listed as Fast and the Dirt Firm right now but its such a wildcard I think we need to assume sloppy/sealed and Good.

A couple of key races to consider:

12 April 19 Kee Makers Mile G1 Good.

23 March 2019 FG Muniz Memorial G2  Firm 1 1/8

Chad Brown has three runners here with Raging Bull, Ticonderoga and Bricks and Mortar.  I suspect Bricks and Mortar will be a post time chalk and I think he's got a legitimate shot at winning.His good early speed will be critical as he breaks from post 12 and his late turn of foot is very good.  9 of 9 lifetime in the money, 7 wins in 9 turf starts, 1 win in 3 starts at the distance.  Lots to like in the 5 YO son of son Giant's Causeway.  Three straight wins including Pegasus World Turf .

I have Qurbaan as my top overlay.  1 win in 10 turf starts, no wins at the distance, blinkers go on for Trainer McLaughlin who hits 17% of those.  good early speed good late speed, just needs focus and Mike Smith is up to help in that regard.

Raging Bull and Breaking the Rules are in my next tier.  Raging Bull (Fr) has 5 wins in 8 turf starts and came close in the Makers Mark Mile. Solid late speed and a good post draw.  Breaking the Rules is stepping up in class but carries 6 fewer pounds than most of contenders.  7 of 9 lifetime in the money with 4 wins.  Nice solid work for Trainer Shug McGaughey leading up to this.

Synchrony also goes with blinkers on for Trainer Stidham. Big late speed I'm not sure he'll get the pace scenario needed but can easily be going forward still at the end.  5 of 5 in the money at the distance and 12 of 13 in the money over grass.  Same sort of running style in the horse one gate over, Ticonderoga.  A TimeForm 126 late, a big step up in class.  We'll see if he has the targets and the room to unleash at the end.

I'm not sure what I'll be playing, but most likely some low risk $2 exacta  with 12 OVER 1-2-8-9-10 for $10 total.

Regarding the 12 Race, The G1 Kentucky Derby, I'm just tote board handicapping it.  Its a bit of a misnomer, I'm Tote Board-Bet Constructing.  It can get too hectic as the odds shift near post time so I like to have a spread sheet built that I can quickly make adjustments to leading up to bet placement time.  While I typically do all my work within TwinSpires TV, here you will find a link to Churchill Downs webpage live odds.  

I'm not going to get to in depth with the handicapping.  Using the past performances and the tote board I am identifying horses that I think will Win/Place or be tossed from that discussion.  As the rewards most likely will be high, covering a few more potential finishers looking to maximize values.  As you can see, the highest odds on the board right now are maximum security at 18% and the top 4 colts  have odds that total 66%.  If I was assembling bets right now i'd have:

$1 Bet Box 9 horses (5-6-7-8-10-13-16-17-20) for $81.  That's a bit too much so I'll whittle it down a bit before post time.

Have fun friends, Turk out!

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Nomination Is In: The Charles Town Classic G2

Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now in our eleventh year of blogging and celebrating 33 years of horse playing, if that's something to be celebrated (I know it is by my rabid audience of readers.)

I'd like to thank The Thorofan, and the Handicapper's Corner, for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you today on the Good Friday.

This is the sort of race I hear a lot of fellow horse players starting to call this year's edition of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, a bettors race.  There is no heavy favorite, there are multiple horses a handicapper can make a case for, and there is a growing feeling of a chaotic mutuel end result.  Perhaps that's the case here but that also assumes the big three don't factor in the top two if you are an exacta player.  At worst, the lowest of the favorite odds is finishing second and long odds win the race.  The big three by the morning line have winning odds that add up to 60.5% and if you put the top four Morning Line odds in you are at 77%.

While it's a subject for another day, you should be focused on who can win and how does the overall public view the odds of the horse you identified could win.  In doing this analysis you are creating a fair odds line for yourself.  You'll notice the odds on the Morning Line's don't add up to 100% and the reason for that is pesky little things like takeout (major) and a bunch of other small deducts from your betting dollar like rounding and breakage (minor).  Ignore that.  I'll actually take a minute to tell you that if you are gambling solely on morning line odds you should really consider reading a good book and learning to handicap yourself because most track odds makers tend to introduce biases into their work, and they have an obligation to tell you the most likely winning odds, not who is an overlay.

Overlay: An underestimated horse by the betting public.

Underlay: An overestimated horse by the betting public and what you get when you read and consume most horse racing fluff pieces.

I'm jumping ahead, but quite frankly this discussion to me is more interesting the the actual race and maybe helpful to my readers who are more casual and social bettors.  Look at my chart below.

Diamond King was a 20% ML winner and I have him at 18.19%.  That is first signal of open betting race, a ML and Fair Line odds of 4-1 or worse.

Look at Unbridled Jean:  6.25% ML, a 15-1 shot, yet the Turk Fair Line has him at 14.29% or 6-1.  Forget if I'm right or wrong, that is the Overlay you are looking for.  To get better as a handicapper you have to practice.  To get better as a bettor you have to trust your handicapping and act on when you identify an Overlay.  I can't tell you how many times I'd identify Overlays but lacked the courage to bet them or even put them in a chart like this because of fear of comments from other handicappers or on social media.  Think about it like this:  I gave Unbridled Jean odds to not finish first 85.71%.  When he doesn't win tomorrow was I dumb for betting him?  Another subject for another day but if you are betting a safe choice, with short odds in the Win Spot race after race, you need a new hobby. 

Underlays?  Again this race isn't great for the examples because of the relatively small bid-ask between the ML and the Fair Lines, but Discreet Lover, a horse and trainer I absolutely love as a fan, by my handicap is the biggest underlay, and with that pronouncement,"... let's announce to the winners circle....Discreet Lover."

Let this bald handicapping idiot savant shut up for a moment and lets get after the race!

My handicap and thinking are influenced by the fact I expect the track to still be wet at race time tomorrow.  I know most of the rains will be gone by post time but I think alot will fall and I have to consider what I think the track will be like based on what I know now so this rubbish insightful commentary can be published before lunch on Friday, 30 hours before the race.  You don't have that burden, so use the information you have effectively, such as track conditions and scratches and changes. 

I like Diamond King, son of Quality Road, buts he nothing more than light chalk. I could run down the whole field but I'm not sure of the value quite frankly.  in bullet points:

  • Diamond King: 4 YO with 5 wins in 11 career starts.  Low 400 Tomlinson. last race win as chalk. Servis and Castellano 0-4 over past year together.  Tepid.
  • Unbridled Jean:  7 YO loses class war but solid career with 25 of 29 races in the money.  6 of 7 in the money over wet dirt. good early speed, strong final kick, will need tactical speed breaking from 10 post. 
  • War Story:  Easy Choice, Safe bet. 16 of 32 in the money with $2.6 MM in earnings from a $5,000 stud fee. I think he gets bet hard and goes to gate 2-1 or 3-2. 2 wins in 3 wet races. 
  • Mongolian Groom: California Shipper.  Trainer Genbat no stakes wins in past year.  Slow Early, good late speed.  Breaking along rail. Eh. 
  • Rally Cry: Last win April 2017. Race best 417 Tomlinson but one Show wet start. Good overall speed early and slow.  Pletcher an amazing 33% winner off +180 day layoff as hasn't gone since Woodward.  Was my chalk, still could win, one of those horses that should be better than his record, 6 YO and 14 career starts.  

 I don't know what i'm going to do yet, but I'll take my top five and assemble win and exacta bets.  If forced to choose now I'm leaning towards something simple like this:

Unbridled Jean 10 Over  3-9-1-4 a $2 Exacta for $8.  Odds of winning low,  odds of paying well if it does win, high.  That's how the long game is played.  My real inclination is to walk away but you only need to win a few of these low risk $8 bets in a year to boost your overall ROI. 

Have fun with it friends!

Turk Out.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Anatomy of a Bet: The Sand Spring Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk blog, in our 11th year of handicapping and bet construction here on the interwebs and in our 33rd year of being a degenerate horse player.

I had no particular rooting interest in yesterday's Sand Spring Stakes, the tenth race on the Gulfstream Park card on Florida Derby Day.  I picked a race to blog about with one one criteria other than my main criteria of being a turf race and that was field size, which the race had nine entered and eight went to post.

My early season, and to me I'm only in full blown handicapper mode between May-October, is just about getting my handicapping techniques engaged and working again after a handicappers holiday that I take every winter to refresh my mind and love of the game.  I've blogged three times in 2019 and given you three winners cold and some good exactas to boot.  Am I bragging?  Not at all, just pointing out that I honed in on the things that I do best, namely handicapping turf races, one mile and up, over firm turf primarily, and that I'm really confident in my abilities to size up the field (handicapping) and generate positive ROI consistently (bet construction).  It's not bragging, I'm actually humble, humbled by years of highs and lows.  Yesterday's exacta and trifecta win on the Sand Springs Stakes was because I ignored the mantra of Han Solo.  I noticed my second choice, Proctor's Ledge bet down to 1-1 odds, a mare with one win at the distance should not be bet down to 50-50 odds without at least challenging the possibility, which is what I did to my benefit.

Handicap Pre Race

And my pre-race thinking was:

$2 Trifecta  with 9-5 OVER 9-5 OVER 6-8-4-2  is worth $16 while a lean mean $2 Tri with 9 OVER 5 OVER 6-8-4-2 is $8.

You'll notice I put Fire Key #2 over Vendita #1 in my bet construction, which was just an educated hunch. 

I was leaning pre-race to single Proctor's Ledge if the post time odds mirrored the morning line odds, 4-1.  When they didn't, without a shred of emotion went with my original thought and put Valedictorian on top for an easy $9.50 exacta on a $2 bet.

I plunked down $6 to win $23.90 Trifecta betting 5-9 OVER 6-8-4  

Smartest guy in the room?  Far from it.  Consistent handicapping and not over thinking the bet construction, relying on the work I've done and using the tote board eyes to make sure I don't overlook value.  

Have fun with it friends!  Turk Out.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Nomination Is In: The $100,000 Sand Springs Stakes at Gulfstream

Gulfstream Park: Photo Mason Kelley
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, now in our 11th season of providing questionable handicapping and atrocious bet construction to people who never asked for it.  Actually, the handicapping and bet construction is not too shabby, and I focus on what I do well, and more importantly enjoy more, and that's older horses running over grass.  Everyone is about to be sucked into Kentucky Derby fever, and that's very cool, but 2 and 3 YO horses have never been my strong suit and I'll leave that sort of thing to people who are better at it and care more about it than I do.  At Gulfstream today, Florida Derby fever is kicking in with Race 14 going off at 6:36 ET, but for me, I'm "practicing" today on Race 10 about two hours earlier, Sand Springs $100K for Fillies and Mares 4 YO and Up, one mile with the temp rail set at zero (alternates 0 to 60 feet).

Why do I practice?  Why does anyone practice anything, to improve and get better at a skill, and my craft is handicapping and bet construction.  I've been handicapping for 33 years, which alone is hard to believe, but true.  I still learn and my skills need need sharpening.  I often will handicap a dozen races and build bets, and not bet them, just for a mental exercise, just for practice.  I think all of us have some mental exercise we perform to stay sharp.  I work very long hours and I travel a lot for my job.  An hour or so here and there handicapping is the perfect mind relaxer that makes me better at my job as well.

For a turf guy, you don't have a lot of great options early in the calendar year.  I should have played Santa Anita which has some graded stakes over grass today, or even Japan, but the handicapper in me likes predicable situations with few variables and quite frankly I don't want any part of the craziness at Santa Anita until that situation calms down some.  I very much hope it does, horse racing can't afford to lose Hollywood Park and Santa Anita in Southern California.

Lets get after this handicap!

The Track was listed as Good as of March 29, you'll find an update to track conditions as well as scratches and changes here.  The #3 filly, Mrs. Ramona G is unfortunately scratched.  The weather looks like it should be dry up to and after post time.

The race looks chalky to me.  Carrying the most weight at 124 pounds is Trainer Breen's Valedictorian.  Two straight strong GP performances, 7 of 10 in the money over GP grass, a class drop for the Mare  who has a big early Timeform and will look to wire the field.  She should break and be at the front with Too Charming and Andina Del Sur through 4f.

Proctor's Ledge intrigues me here.  A grade 1/2 contender, the Mare is making first 2019 start, a layoff of 61-180 days that Trainer Walsh wins 15% of the time in 60 tries over past year.  An excellent :46 3/5ths 4f work 2 weeks ago makes me think she's ready.  4 pounds less than Valedictorian, she should be just off the pace and we'll have to consider if the speed that is in front will crack.  I'd like it better if turf was a bit softer but I'm not discounting. 

Too Charming and Andina Del Sur are more or less similar horses, both going for Trainer Albertrani.  Both will come out fast.  Both lack high end speed that carries.  Both have excellent pilots.  both in the mix for Place-Show-4th.

Best of the rest is Quebec.  A morning line 3-1, with Ortiz Jr Up for Trainer Robert "Bobby" Dibona who is looking for first stakes win and has two Grade 3 wins over a long time training.  I don't see it but at 118 pounds the horse has run well, has 90+ Beyers  and decent early speed that carries late. 

I'm keeping the betting simple:

$2 Trifecta  with 9-5 OVER 9-5 OVER 6-8-4-2  is worth $16 while a lean mean $2 Tri with 9 OVER 5 OVER 6-8-4-2 is $8.

Have fun with it friends!  Turk Out!