Saturday, December 27, 2008

Road to the Past 10 Kentucky Derby's: More Random Prep Race Analysis

My second analysis of the past ten Kentucky Derby winners focuses on the last two prep races, where they ran, the distance, the class of competition and then how many days remained before they ran the for the roses.

The sample size is small, but with everything about these ten horses, some trends, mostly obvious to fans of the game, are apparent.

1. They don't run as much: While Street Sense was a bit of an anomaly trained by old school trainer Carl Nafzger, Barbaro and Big Brown contested 5 and 3 races respectively, and both had close to 5 weeks of rest leading before the Derby while the other horses averaged closer to three weeks.

Over the last ten years, Derby winners have raced 6.6 times pre-derby. Excluding Barbaro and Big Brown, that number is 7.25 and taking the heavily raced Charismatic out of the stats drops the number of starts in their pre-derby careers to 6.25. Barbaro and Big Brown averaged 4 starts.

2. No one prep race seemed to be the pathway. The Wood Memorial and The Florida Derby each hosted three Derby winners, while the the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby each hosted two winners.

Two of the horses ran an Allowance Race as one of their final two preps and three of the horses had no Grade One races in their final two preps.

3. They Win. Of the 20 last two prep races, 13 wins were registered by eventual Derby winners (65%), 4 horses placed, 1 took show and only 2 horses finished out of the money (10%).

In a vacuum, none of these random bits of information mean much. Taken together, a picture forms of the tracks where the next Triple Crown winner will run, the preps he will be in, the percentage of those preps he will finish in the top three, etc. I wish there was a divining rod for Derby winners, but this is more fun.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fort Erie: North America's 7th Oldest Track and the Future Seems Bleak

The Turk exchanged some emails with a hero of his this week, The Happy Handicapper, Robert J. Summers, of the Buffalo News.

The Turk freely admits that Robert's bravery in referring to himself in the third person allowed himself to throw off this social stigma and embrace an inane literary technique. I digress.

The Happy Handicapper, HH, has written recently in our local newspaper, The Buffalo News, about the plight of Fort Erie Race Track, and the uncertain future for the backside staff and the people who earn their living from or just enjoy that track (Like The Turk and the Turk brood).

This article appeared on the Front Page of the Buffalo News and was written by the HH with help from Tom Buckham. I thank the Buffalo News for the use of this article.

Updated: 12/16/08 12:50 PM
Fort Erie Race Track likely to close; 190 workers would lose jobs
Employees told owner will try to avoid shutdown

By Robert J. Summers

The oft-rumored demise of the Fort Erie Race Track — part of the Buffalo and Southern Ontario area sports scene since 1897 — may have moved closer to reality Monday.

But there’s still a chance the thoroughbreds could enter the starting gate May 3, the scheduled opening day of the track’s 112th season.

About 190 employees who work in the horse racing department, but not the adjacent casino, were told Monday afternoon that “it appears that the . . . track will not be able to continue live racing in 2009” and that their employment would be terminated March 31, according to a news release from the track’s owner.

But the release also said owner Nordic Gaming Corp. “will pursue every effort to try and find a way to continue racing in 2009.”

Those efforts apparently will involve pressuring the Ontario provincial government to give the money-losing track — one of the Town of Fort Erie’s major employers and tourist attractions — some sort of financial concessions.

“We’re still hopeful we can come to some agreement that is mutually beneficial,” said Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin.

“We’ve been working with the province for some time. We thought the province was ready to come to the table and provide the partnership necessary to make this work,” Martin said.

"We are in touch with senior provincial staff and politicians and they continue to discuss with us HOW they might keep the track operating and this reinforces what many at the various ministries have told us time and time again. .‚.‚. they do not work this hard to fail and they want to keep racing alive in Fort Erie," Martin told a news conference at Town Hall today.

"We in Fort Erie are frustrated and perplexed [at provincial inaction]," Martin said

"Unfortunately our government has not responded yet with any effectiveness and, given the timing, delays will just run out the time for [Nordic] to be able to mount a 2009 season."

“This is a real travesty,” said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents horse owners and trainers. “I’m still a little bit in shock that we’ve let it come to this.

“There have been months and months and months of meetings and negotiations . . .,” Leslie said. “The province has failed the industry and the town. . . . Maybe this will prompt the province to make a move.”

Nordic said it cannot “continue to absorb the substantial operating losses year after year” and must “begin preparing for closure.”

Company officials said they continue to work with all of the stakeholders, including the track’s unions and their members, and will comply with its obligations under their collective agreements as well as with Canada’s Employment Standards Act.

The announcement followed a two-year “Save the Track” campaign.

Leslie said the horsemen’s association contends that if racing is discontinued, the Ontario- owned slot machines must close also.

“The full intent of the slots being put on the race track property was to enhance live racing. . . . If there’s no live racing at Fort Erie, the slots shut down,” she said.

Martin said one of the problems in dealing with the provincial government is that a number of departments, known as ministries, are involved. They include the Ontario Lottery Corp. and ministries focusing on economic development and trade and foreign investment.

“There has been an election and change of minsters . . .,” the mayor said, “[and] people haven’t been brought up to speed.”

Fort Erie is the seventh oldest active track in North America, trailing only Saratoga (1864), Pimlico (1870), Greenwood (1871), Fair Grounds (1872), Churchill Downs (1875) and Hawthorne (1891).

It has long been staggering financially.

The Ontario Jockey Club, its owner since 1952, sold it in 1997 for a nominal fee to a group of investors that included Nordic. Now a subsidiary of the El-Ad Group headed by Yitzhak (Isaac) Tshuva, an international land developer, Nordic is the sole owner.

At the time, the track’s future seemed bright because of the legalization of a slot machine casino on the premises. The 1,200-machine casino — operated by the Ontario government — opened with much fanfare in September 1999. At first, the money rolled in, and profits were divided under a formula (10 percent to race purses, 10 percent to track ownership and 2 percent to the Town of Fort Erie) that seemed to make everybody happy.

But since then, business conditions have worsened.

As Leslie put it: “A lot of the problems that have resulted in Fort Erie are due to things out of the control of the ownership or the horsemen. . . . The province has put giant casinos within a very close range of Fort Erie. . . . the no smoking ban, the [falling value of the] dollar, the difficultly crossing the border. . . . a lot of things have led us to where we are.”

Despite the downturn in business, Nordic in 2007 unveiled plans for a $300 million (Canadian) hotel, entertainment and housing complex on land next to the track and casino.

In February, Nordic agreed to subsidize the purses for the 82-day racing season in 2008 — a total of about $9 million — to keep the sport alive while planning continued for the building project.

At the time, Nordic said it wanted the province to provide a larger share of slot-machine revenue and other assistance.

Staff writer Tom Buckham contributed to this report.

And a follow-up article appeared the next day. I again Thank The Buffalo News for its use.

Fort mayor urges action by province
By Robert J. Summers

FORT ERIE, Ont. — Like a horseplayer with tomorrow’s program in his pocket, the mayor of Fort Erie still lives with hope — at least when it comes to his town’s financially staggering racetrack.
Even though the Nordic Gaming Corp., owner of the historic Fort Erie Race Track, has given employees notice that they may be terminated March 29, Mayor Doug Martin hopes the Province of Ontario can provide a way to open the track for a 112th season of racing May 3.
The answer, he told a Tuesday news conference at Town Hall, lies with unnamed officials in the Ontario provincial government who have failed to take any action on requests for financial relief for the troubled track and its proposed development project.
Nordic, which underwrote about $7 million in losses in the 2008 season, has proposed construction of a $300 million resort on the track property. But Nordic has requested that the province grant the project some tax relief, reported to be about $50 million, over 10 years.
“We in Fort Erie are frustrated and perplexed [at the provincial inaction],” Martin said.
“Even as late as this morning, we are in touch with senior provincial staff and politicians and they continue to discuss with us how they might keep the track operating and this reinforces what many at the various ministries have told us time and again. . . . They do not work this hard to fail and they want to keep live racing in Fort Erie.”
Whether they succeed in time for the 2009 season remains to be seen.
Martin called Monday’s termination notices to about 190 track employees “a big step in the wrong direction.”
“These layoffs, if undertaken, will start a dismantling of the human resources necessary to maintain the specialty skills and training for the industry to run effectively,” Martin said.
Martin said the provincial officials have been working with James Thibert, president of the Fort Erie Economic Development & Tourism Corp., “for the the last three years to find a way to make this work. The problem is we haven’t had an offer, or a solution from the province yet.”
“Every time we get close to the finish line, there is a change in the ministerial level and then the new minister has to be brought up to speed as to what’s happening. . . . We are asking them to sit down and have real dialogue with the owner, with the partners, and make a deal,” Martin said.

The Happy Handicapper belongs in the Buffalo News more often, but until horse racing gets its real estate back in the sport pages, his writings can often be often found at the Buffalo News Blog, Sports, Ink.

Again, Thanks HH, Thank You Buffalo News, and I hope we don't lose another piece of horse racing tradition, North America's 7th oldest race track, Fort Erie.

The Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Derby Winners and the Trail They Blazed

While the Turk is taking no real pleasure in holiday season horse racing, it's not to say he isn't having some fun. I spent some time over the past few weeks at Equibase, and in my cub reporter's notebook I've assembled a snapshot of how the last ten Kentucky Derby winners arrived at the first Saturday in May.

I guess the thesis statement is: Does a horse's preparation to increasing distance, surface, changes in venue, competition against class, and experience point towards a potential Derby winner?

As a horse player, I dislike hype. It's inevitable. Modern trainer with more horses then he should have has one of them win a graded stakes race=reporter asks him for quote=Modern trainer starts off aw shucks but declares the horse a freak with unlimited potential=Horse joins a list of 20 "on the trail". I hate hype. The horse did win, but against who? In what pace? Did his trip unfold like the Red Sea to Moses?

While I'll never go media dark and I'll read all the articles about this year's super horses, this Derby season I'm going to do my Turk best to develop a top ten Derby contender list based on nothing but what I see on the track, in the PP, and in the works. My list is like a brand new etch-a-sketch right now, blank. I'm setting aside hype and I'm spending January and February studying the 3YO's. I'm going to post my list every month, but it will be a work in progress right up to Mid-April.

Before I look forward, I will spend some time looking back.

It's hard to believe how long ago Charismatic was. My follicle count was much higher, The Patriots were still an NFL doormat, and the idea of a horse racing blog filled with video and pictures wasn't imaginable to me. About the only thing that was the same was my 401k balance, but that's another rant.

I'm going to throw up several more spreadsheets about these ten horses from the angle of earliest race, progression of distance, speed against distance. Maybe something will stick to the wall, or maybe it will just be noise.......

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waiting for the Birthday's

Late Fall racing is always hard for me to focus on. The snow is falling outside my windows, and yet the horses are running. The sun doesn't come up till 7:30 AM and it's gone by 4:30 PM and yet the horses are still running. I've tried Woodbine in early December, and it's just not that fun.

With all of that working against the ponies, the death of Wanderin Boy and the serious injury to the filly Springside brought me back to that dark place I found myself in on the first Saturday this past May when Eight Belles died so senselessly cooling down.

With few races of significance between now and early January, The Turk thought it was a good time to push away from the computer and descend into mindless consumerism. But that means different things to different people, and to the Turk that means focusing on the the vices that support my horse-player ethos well and the fashion style that this forty-something finds himself trying to refine.

I started with bourbon. I'm a Maker's Mark man. I like it straight up or with a bit of cola. This week I bought Buffalo Trace straight bourbon whiskey and Woodford Reserve small batch bourbon. All three have similarities, and all three went down smooth and contained several flavors that my unsophisticated palate would have never identified. Woodford Reserve by far had the most oak barrelled flavor. It's a man's drink, bourbon. It's not the sort of thing that young people associate themselves with. It's something you grow into, learn to appreciate. It's pure Kentucky horse lover and it's important for any Turk worth his tickets to be able to talk the talk. I have a few more to taste, but the education continues.

I've spent sometime on another key horse-player vice, cigars. I broke down and bought myself a Zippo Blu lighter. We are fans of a sport that is full of tradition, and I picked a lighter synonymous with retro cool and I had it engraved with the name and birth year of Papa Turk, Little Turk and myself. It's an heirloom now, a one day conversation piece when Little Turk is sharing a cigar with his grandson at the 185 th Traver's day. I'm not advocating excessive smoking, but you can't live your life in a bubble. Low fat foods, diet soda, anti-oxidant pills, blah blah blah: Have some vices and embrace them.

The final element of horse player consumerism brought me to the Filson website for a new wool vest. The Turk used to be a slave to technical fabrics, high end water repellent, wind repellent, rip stop stuff that cost big bucks and looked Telluride cool. A year ago I had an awakening and discovered wool. Nature's high tech fabric. Warm, water and wind repellent, it makes me feel timeless. With my brimmed hat and black leather gloves, I'm the model horse-player in winter hibernation.

It's funny how your life evolves. I find myself in mid life form, handicapping horses, indulging in bourbon and cigars, and wearing fabrics and hats I wouldn't have been caught dead in when The Smiths and The Cure were my role models. Frank Whitely, John Gosden, Jimmy Jones, Gary Stevens, Andrew Beyer, these are my style models now.

The two year old's will be blowing out three candles soon. Merry Christmas indeed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Nominations are in: November 28th, 2008

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. The Turk, along with little Turk and the whole Turk brood keep a low profile on Turk-ey day, but we feel pretty safe now that the feather frenzy is over.

I'm looking to handicap and enjoy 4 particular races today.

Race 3 at the Big A is The True Affair, a 7F jaunt around cold dirt for Fillies 2 YO.

The ML favorite is at 3-1, a Kiaran McLaughlin trained, Garcia ridden, West Point Tbreds owned Justwhistledixie. This is a tough race to call and I'm predicting a good payout for the winner as well as some insight into these baby girls, which is why we are paying atention instead of lined up like lemmings outside a box store.

Race 11 at CD is the 1 1/8 mile, G2, The Clark Handicap, being held for the 135th time. There are some horses as a horse fan I really enjoy and this is quite a treat to get this lineup. I most likely won't be betting because I think, but also want, Commentator, the ML 1-1 favorite, to run away with it. The Turk loves Commentator, and that's why I'm smart enough to not get too carried away with betting this one. I will say, if you can make make an arguement against Commetator, the money will be there. That will be my approach. I really liked Einstein early this year, unraced since the Arlington Mile way back in early August.

The last tw races for me today will both be at HOL. Race 6 is The Miesque, a 1 mile G3 for 2 YO Fillies on Turf. Kiaran McLaughlin again has the ML favorite, 5-2 Habaya, running for Shadwell Farms today with R. Migliore up. I wonder what's like to have a barn full of potential like Kiaran seems to have had the past few?

And finaly, Race 8 at Hollywood, The Citation Handicap, G1, 1 1/16 miles raced across Turf for 3YO and up. ML favorite is Whatsthescript coming off a 99 Beyer in the Breeder's Cup Mile. I'm going to be studying this one closely as I think it will be a great race with a good payout most likely.

The Turk is settling in for a little work and a little pleasure. I appreciated the kind notes of Thanksgiving blessings from strangers but readers of the Turk. I hope you all enjoy some good leftovers and some great races.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Nomination Selections: November 22, 2008

The Turk has a massive non-horse work load today, so forgive my brevity. Forgive the fact I do anything to do besides following the horses too.

Woodbine Race 6: The Kennedy Road, G3. 6f run on WO version of faux dirt.

I see three strong possibilities to win this race: From the 6 spot is Legal Move. The 4 YO is right about Grade 3 quality, perhaps a bit less. 6F seems to be a comfortable distance to him and he's won 9 times out of 16 races at WO, and he's 7 for 10 from the distance with a 99 high Beyer. ML had him at 3.5-1 and while not the chalk, he's close and will attract money.

From the 8 spot is Storm Treasure, who is the ML chalk at 5-2. He's returning to work after finishing third in the Breeder's Cup Turf Sprint. I think money will flow heavy to him and I'm hoping the commotion of the trip from SA to CD and now the cold of Woodbine gets to him.

And in the 9 spot, Just Rushing. The horse is a ML 4-1, who has had a series of good works, mostly consistent Beyers and 8 wins at WO, including a 40% win rate and a 99 high Beyer on the fake dirt.

My close and maybe in the exotic pool is the 5 horse, The Great Caruso and the 4 horse, Hosta Rica.

I like Legal Move to win. I'm betting if >7-2. I plan on taking a $2 flyer on the 7 horse, Main Executive. At a ML 12-1, I'm looking for at least >9-1 at post time. The horse did some work from the gate and is adding blinkers for the first time. He's capable of a 98 Beyer on this course at this distance.

I'm sticking to $4 bucks on this race and I might string an exacta together at post time as well that includes Legal Move.

And Race 9 at Churchill Downs, The River City Handicap, G3. 1 1/8 miles run over Ol' Kentucky turf for 3 YO and up.

I have two strong contenders for this race. In the 5 spot is Karelian. My knock on him is this maybe a 1/16 to long, but we'll see. He's 2 for 2 on CD turf and he brings alot of class to this race. He's a ML 5-1.

From the 11 spot is Thorn Song who will enter as the heavy ML chalk at 6-5. Forgetting the Breeder's Cup and this horse has been nothing but three digit Beyer's since since June. He's 4 for 5 on CD turf but again the distance has been a stumbling block.

I really like the 9 horse, Canela, who is a ML 8-1. The horse is 4-4 on CD turf, 4 for 5 at the distance and has J. Leparoux and his gaudy 29% winning record at CD up.

While I don't see him winning, from the 1 post, Yate's Black Cat is a ML 5-1 and a very consistent mid 90's Beyer. This horse is Dale Roman's other entry along with Thorn Song, but I don't see him as a rabbit but more as a stretch run competitor.

It's a big field and I think money will flow to the two horses I think are favorites, but especially Thorn Song. I'm looking for Canela if at least >7-1 to win. I like Karelian if >5-1 and I think I'll bet no more then 6 bucks with the last two bucks on an exacta I throw together, most likely with Thorn Song and a longer odds challenger.

As always, watch the tote. Only the foolish bet early.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Nominations Are In: November 21, 2008

It's a good time of the year for the Turk. Thanksgiving is only six days away, and some great stakes races unfold over the next eight days. Tomorrow I'll be handicapping two in depth at two different tracks.

At Woodbine Race 6, The Kennedy Road, G3, 6f raced over WO version of faux dirt for 3 YO and Up. The ML chalk is Storm Treasure at 5-2. Storm Treasure is coming off a 97 Beyer effort in the Breeder's Cup Turf Sprint, finishing third behind Desert Code and Diabolical. I think there are a few horses that could win this race that will go off at least 4-1. That's what we like.

I'll then turn my attention to Race 9 at Churchill Downs, The River City Handicap, G3, raced 1 1/8 miles on genuine Kentucky turf for 3 YO and up. ML 6-5 Thorn Song, coming off a weak 9th in the Breeder's Cup Mile looks to bounce back for trainer Dale Romans with Robbie Albarado up. The 5 YO will attract money and a betting opportunity should open up if he falters.

The Turk is going to stay busy during the next week or so. On Sunday the Turk and the Little Turk will be handicapping at WO The Bessarbian Stakes at 7f for 3 YO and up and also Hollywood Park, The Hollywood Prevue Stakes, 7f for 2 YO.

Starting on Thanksgiving and running through Sunday, there will be 9 stake races, including the G1 Cigar Mile, the G1 Citation Handicap, G2 Clark Handicap and G2 Demoiselle that I'll be watching and handicapping. This is like Christmas come early, or better yet, Turk-ey Day. Gobble Gobble....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Post Race Analysis: November 16, 2008

Well, sometimes you are right, and sometimes you are wrong, and sometimes the results are a murky grey of right and wrong.

In the Coronation Futurity today at WO, the Turk thought the chalk was beatable and predicted a nice win payout and exacta payout, even with just a six horse field.

Pre-race I discounted the eventual winner Active Duty ($25 dollar win bet), as well as the horse (Gallant- finished fourth) that set the pace most of the way.

The two horses I keyed on, Cool Diablo (someone wake him up) and Khabibulin (who found a great turn of foot on the stretch and just needs a better start) didn't show the speed I expected, and the very heavy chalk, El Brujo, broke well, stalked but couldn't finish in front.

I'm disappointed as I smelled upset and big pay-out, but honestly, didn't see Active Duty winning this race, even in hindsight.

The only upside is the Turk flapped his blogging gums too long and too close to the start of the race and when I arrived back at Twin Spires I didn't allow enough time to place the bet. No money lost.

The Nomination Is In: November 16, 2008

Baby it's cold outside. I'm 70 miles from Woodbine, and the air is filled with freezing rain and inclement intentions. Still, I wish I was there today, but the Turk is watching the 2 inch video feed instead and lying with the warmth of my weimaraner and a blazing fire. In other words, I'm roughing it.

Today's race I'm handicapping is Race 6 at WO, The Coronation Futurity, for 2 YO's foaled in Canada, raced 1 1/8 miles across Woodbine's version of faux dirt.

The heavy ML favorite is El Brujo. The horse, and all the entrants, has never raced to this distance. El Brujo is coming off a n1X win on October 10th and he owns the best Beyer of the entrants at 79 and is the model of consistant Beyer's over four races since July.

Four of the horses coming into this race were last seen on yielding WO turf turning in awful performances. I'm going to throw those results out the window.

I've dismissed Gallant from the 5 post as being too slow and not very seasoned. I'm dismissin the 4-1 Active Duty as well from the 6 post.

I'm looking at Khabibulin at ML 8-1. His key race was 7f in 1:22.25. The Chalk's best 7f was 1:23.52. They both worked 5f on November 9th, seperated by 1/5 of a second. I'm on the hunt for a value exacta.

I also like the 1 horse, Cool Diablo. A similar 5f work was 3/5's faster the chalk. His last race was a mile over dirt and he won by 8 lengths.


I could see a good payout winner and exacta if El Brujo falters.

I'm toying with a 4-1 box exacta (Khabibulin/Cool Diablo) or a 4-1-2 Straight Tri.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Post Race Analysis: November 15, 2008

Race 8 at the Big A, the 1 1/8 G3 Stuyvesant Handicap was raced across genuine NYS dirt turned to pure slop. Helsinki and Phil the Power scratched and exercised good sense. My choice, Temporary Saint, went to the front and only surrendered the lead at the end of the stretch run. The Little Turk's eye for horse flesh was rewarded again today as he cashed tickets on Dry Martini who paid $10.20 to win. Stud Muffin, whom I dismissed as a pre-race contender, had a good run to take Place. To those who read the Blood Horse, there was a great article on Trainer David Jacobson (who claimed Temporary Saint earlier this year) in the issue that arrived today.

Race 9 at CD, the 1 1/8 turf stakes G3, Cardinal, was a race I watched the tote board closely on up until post. Pre-race I liked Callwood Dancer, but the prerace chalk went off at paltry odds and I decided to look in other places. I settled on a Kent Desormeaux mount, Indescribable. I liked Lady Digby, but her odds were unacceptable as well, going off as the bettors second choice. I'd call this bet a flyer, an informed guess.

The Little Turk liked Long Approach. I placed a straight exacta bet down on the 10-3, Indescribable and Long Approach and was rewarded with a $15.40 win bet and a $199 exacta take.

One of those good, semi-unexpected days.

I did take sometime looking at WO Race 8, the 7f Glorious Song. I thought the chalk, Selva, would win and she did. No bet, but a horse to watch is just as good.

For those keeping track, Big Turk is now up $157.64 in operating income in this current Breeders Cup to Breeders Cup cycle. I bought a month's worth of PP's today from DRF, but I hit big on the win and exacta.

My current expenses are at $67.45 and earnings are now $225.09. The two dollar bettor can scratch out good days.

The Nominations Are In: November 15, 2008

The Turk is looking at two races today at two different tracks.

At Aqueduct, Race 8 is The Stuyvesant, 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3 YO and Up.

The ML Chalk at 5-2 is Solar Flare (ARG), a Larry Jones trained Fox Hill Farms 4 YO. The horse didn't fare well up in class, but bounced back to win a n4x with a 98 Beyer 3 weeks ago. I'll be looking for >3-1 or I'll be thinking exotic with him in it.

At 6-1, I like Temporary Saint, breaking from the 7 spot. The horse has two low 100 Beyer's and an upper 90 Beyer since mid September. The 5 YO grey/roan won a G3 at this distance at Aqueduct with a 105 Beyer in April 2008.

At 12-1 is Helsinki, racing for the first time in 51 Weeks. The horse has six works at Belmont since early October and may be worth a flyer at these odds.

The ML Place Horse at 7-2 is Brilliant Son. The horse hasn't won in a year, has 3 wins in 14 starts lifetime and the works for this 5 YO McLaughlin trainee don't seem that impressive, except for possibly a lone 47 and 3/5 at 4f in early October. I hope money flows to him, but I won't be (aka The Turk Kiss of Death).

So....I think the ML has this one right. I like Solar Flare, but only a win bet if >3-1. Instead I'll look to couple Solar Flare in a Tri and I may take a flyer on one of the horses I like for odds >8-1.

Little Turk is pleased to look for value and has an eye on Dry Martini, especially if >8-1.

Race 8 at CD, The Cardinal Handicap, G3, 1 1/8 on the turf for F&M, 3YO and up.

At ML 4-1, I like Lady Digby. Lightly raced since the summer, but working consistently since early October. A 30% winner on Turf, I'm looking for a Beyer approaching 97 today.

The ML Chalk is is Callwood Dancer (IRE). A 36% winner on Turf and a Turf Beyer of 100, the 4 Yo was formidable in the G1 EP Taylor at WO in early October giving Folk Opera all she could handle. This horse will be in the money today, and I'm thinking the odds could fall slightly.

Meribel at 9-2 and Ciao at 6-1 will look to fill out the finishers.

I'm going to watch the tote board and the track bias as the day goes on, especially as the weather is turning quickly in NY, and we'll see.

Little Turk cares nothing for the tote board and looks for Leparoux to stay hot and picks 6-1 Long Approach.

Woodbine has 2 nice 2 YO races this weekend, the Glorious Song today at 7f for fillies and tomorrow's Coronation Futurity at 9f for Canadian Bred. I'll be paying my attention to WO all weekend and if i get time later, will share my thoughts on both of these races.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Life Gets in the Way

If I am like many of you, we live in a world where only a few people in our families get horse racing. Today, my cousin, Shawn Murphy, passed away after a short but brave fight against cancer.

In August, I saw my cousin the one time a year we saw each other, at the family reunion. This year, like the past several years, we spent hours talking horses, as well as our other shared interests like the Civil War and counter culture. A week before the Woodward, I suggested to Sister Turk that we call cousin Shawn and invite him to the Spa to see Curlin run. That's when I learned he was sick, but at the time we had no idea how serious.

We never called cousin Shawn but thought about him during the course of the day. This was his last summer at the Spa and he regretted the rain that plauged the early part of the meet. How could he know he'd never see another meet, but how do any of us?

Shawn leaves behind a loving wife, two beautiful daughters, and a cat. I was the ring bearer in his Wedding, I held his first born on the day she was baptized, and I lost somebody I didn't see often but thought the world of. Rest in Peace Shawn, we'll be talking over the ponies one day again, with Aunt Rosie I imagine.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Post Race Analysis: November 9th, 2008

The Turk believes in one overwhelming handicapping goal: Identify what horses can win and which horses can't. Sound simple enough? Don't depend on the track handicapper who sets the Morning Line, too often they are safe bets. Then again, as a handicapper, that's what we want, a segment of the betting public plunking down cash on horses based on what the logical winner will be. We are betting horses, real flesh and blood, and logic only makes up 70% or so of the equation. The other 30% is where the handicapper's art comes into play.

I digress.

In Race 1 at HOL,a 1 1/16 Maiden race for 2 YO Fillies, The ML choice was Black Magic Mama. It made alot of sense. Black Magic Mama was coming off the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies just a few short weeks ago. Her last two races were against some stiff G1 competition. The ML was 8-5 and the bettors sent her off with only a chance of winning 40 cents on their 1 dollar bets. This is the text book definition of a bridgejumper bet.

Pre-race, I thought there were only three legitimate winners in the race, Black Magic Mama, Vikkilee, and Box Office Queen. I didn't get the odds I wanted so I didn't bet. I considered a Trifecta with the three horses, but I would have gotten the second and third place finishers reversed on a straight bet, and the small amount this trifecta bet returned didn't justify boxing the three. I was happy to identify the possible winners and eliminate the also rans.

In Race 5 at WO, a 7f Maiden race for 2 YO's, I identified that I wasn't thrilled with the ML chalk, Airstrike. Pre-Race I liked a 12-1, lightly raced, Patena. Patena had a 5f bullet a week early in 1:00 2/5ths, and had been working regularly since September over the WO surface. The tote board odds dropped significantly just before the race, but I plucked my 2 bucks down and recovered $10.10 for my efforts. The bettors favorite was Red Wine, a $500,000 Distorted Humor colt trained by Steve Asmussen and campaigning in the Stonestreet Stables colors. It was an alluring choice, but the horse has done little in two races and had uninspiring works. It's a bettors dream, a bet magnet who you don't think will win.

My last handicapping adventure of the day was Race 9 at CD, a 1 1/16 Turf race for 3YO's, the GIII Commonwealth Turf Stakes.

The ML Chalk was Seaspeak, and this fine horse was the bettors choice as well. Seaspeak had a gaudy 96 Beyer on turf to hang his tack on, and I didn't think he would get beat. I was wrong. A horse named Nistle's Crunch coming off some mid 80's Beyer's on Turf closed like a freight train after getting stuck in traffic and nipped Seaspeak by 1/2 length. I wish I would have seen this coming, but i didn't. The horse was a 4.5-1 ML and the odds grew larger as the bettors looked elsewhere. A win bet returned a sweet 17.20.

Two weeks into the race year (Breeder's Cup to Breeder's Cup) and I now stand at ($3.40). That includes all expenses including PP's. As I said, I believe this exercise will show that I lose money each year willingly and it's not much different then the tomatoes I plant each year that cost me 10X what I can buy them for when my labor, money and time is factored in. I like horses more then tomatoes, but you get the point.

The Nominations Are In: November 9th, 2008

The Nominations are in, November 9th, 2008:

The Turk is looking at three different tracks today, and from each I choose a seemingly ho-hum race to try and gleen handicapping gold from the PP.

Without further gum flapping....

HOL Race 1: 1 1/16 Maiden Special Weight, for Maiden Fillies 2 YO, on HOL version of Faux Dirt.

The ML chalk is at 8-5, an O'Neill trained, Garett Gomez ridden horse last seen in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies, Black Magic Mama. This girl has lost two G1's in a row and now just looks to punch her maiden box. I think heavy money will flow to her, and that should open up some possibilities.

At 2-1 is a Cerin trained, Bejarano ridden filly named Vikkilee, in the 5 spot. If the horse falls >4-1, it will interest me, as will Box Office Queen will if she slips to >6-1. This will be a post time decision.

Race 5 at WO is a 7f Maiden Special Weight , for 2YO.

ML chalk is 5-2 Air Strike, unraced and on lasik today. The horse has worked regularly at WO and has two nice works in a row.

At ML 8-1 from the 10 Spot is Smart Selection, a Reade Baker trainee, again unraced and again trying lasik for the first time. His 5f works are OK.

At ML 6-1 is Red Wine, a Steve Asmussen trainee. With two races under this Distorted Humor's belt, and a $500,000 price tag, expectations are high.

And the Race 9 at CD, the 1 1/16 Turf Race, GIII, The Commonwealth Turf. for 3YO's.

ML chalk is Seaspeak, coming off a 96 Beyer, 1 Mile Turf race at KEE on October 12th.

At 20-1 is a 97 Beyer, 1 1/4 dirt winner Allsarott.

Turk's going to go to Church, meditate on the PP's, and make some selections. I'll reconvene with the Race Charts later today.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

When Life Gets in the Way

The Turk is back. To those of you familiar with The Turk, you'll know that he has a special bond with the man he calls Papa Turk, my dad. Papa Turk ended up in the hospital this week when his heart got a bit wonky. I can laugh about it now, but as I sat in his hospital room this week, the nurse came in a gave him an injection of lasik. I daydreamed of placing a dark circle and a capital L on his door to signify his "first time lasik" condition and consider him as an underlay. Papa Turk is a thoroughbred in every sense of the metaphor. He's a patriot, serving his country for many years in uniform, as well as serving for many weeks at ground zero after 9/11. He's doing well and he has many more trips left with me to Saratoga. Maybe next year we can see a Triple Crown Winner at the midsummer derby.

I'd like to thank the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance for extending an invitation to me to join their crew of outstanding thoroughbred online journalists. What I like the most about the TBA is the diversity of interests and opinions. I'm not worthy to be in the company of many of these authors, but then again, the Turk has a loud Hawaiian Shirt, a red flair pen, a copy of the Form, and a desire to crash the party....Let the Horse's, Handicapping and Hijinks's begin again!

It's been a challenging week. I'm paying attention to Calder today and I'll be back tonight to handicap a few Woodbine races for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Post Race Analysis: November 1, 2008

Not a bad day of identifying the winners in four races that I handicapped. Unfortunately, no real good underlays popped out of the PP's and onto the track.

Race 3 at HOL, I picked Pamona Ball to win and she did. The bettors agreed and sent her off at 1.90. I liked Pamona Ball and Magic Roberta in an exacta (Trifector wasn't offered), and I thought Toro Bonito would take show. It was Pamona Ball and Toro Bonito at the wire. I didn't like the Tote Board and I placed no money, made easier by the stupid internet waging silliness.

At WO in race 6, I said I liked Retractable to beat the heavy chalk, High Mist. Retractable was the bettors second choice at 2.10, and won the race 3 1/4 lengths in front of second place. The Turk took a 2 dollar flyer on Sanguine, a first time Lasik horse racing for the first time. She led for awhile and faded to finish last.

The 9th race at CD, the G3 Pocahontas Stakes, I liked Rachel Alexandra and Sara Louise. Sara Louise took the wire 3 3/4 lengths in front of Rachel Alexandra. The top four horses in the race were picked by me, but the bottom three were really outclassed anyway. No bets placed.

The 10th race at CD I was out to lunch on. It's one of those moments we all have. Pre Race, I typed Capt. Candyman Can as my favorite, only to delete it after second guessing my selection. I made my selections without seeing the Morning Line, and I was surprised to see that Capt. Candyman Can did go off as the bettors favorite. I picked Monty's Best, who finished second. No bets placed.

That drops the Turk to ($6.75) after Week 1 (Breeder's Cup to Breeder's Cup) . I'm tracking all my expenses (PP's, race charts, Blood Horse, Track Admission, etc) just for kicks. As a friend recently told the Turk, "There's nowhere to hide when you blog". Ain't that the truth!

The Nominations Are In: November 1, 2008

The Turk is looking at 4 races at three different tracks today. Of course, until the end of the year, the Turk is all about the 2 YO's, next year's stars.

I've been quiet this week, just sucking up the analysis from last weekend's Breeder's Cup. I throughly enjoyed the Breeder's Cup, and I'm excited already thinking about the Euro invasion next year. I know as we enter 2009, I'll be paying attention to the Euro's much more closely. I thought I did a good job this year, but I would watch the races this year, and they were more like curiosities. I couldn't and still can't watch a European race and relate the the trip to what my mind is conditioned to. I'm getting better reading the Euro PP's, I've taken the time to learn the trainers, the tracks, the races. I think what happened last weekend was a good thing for the sport, although that appears to be a contrarian position. It's good to be the Turk: I neither take myself too seriously, nor should my opinion be treated as anything more then it is; One Turk crying out in the wilderness.....

I digress.

HOL Race 3: The Sharp Cat, 1 1/16 miles on Hollywood's version of faux dirt, for 2YO Fillies

A five horse field with 2 maidens. The top Beyer belongs to Ten Churros at 85, but that was back in June. Toro Bonito, one of two Baffert horses in the race, comes in with an 84 at 6f at SA.

I like Pamona Ball to win. She's won at this distance recently. I like Magic Roberta to Place. A maiden, she has drilled quickly regularly over the HOL surface, and completing the trifecta is Toro Bonito.

2 bucks on the straight Trifecta.

WO Race 6: The Princess Elizabeth, 1 1/16 miles over Woodbine's verison of faux dirt, for 2 YO Fillies foaled in Canada.

The chalk should be High Mist. The filly is 3-0 and has three very consistant Beyer's. She's trying a new distance, but all wins are over this surface.

I like the filly, Retractable, to upset High Mist. She has one win, consistant but lower Beyer's then High Mist, and is also familar with WO. I'll like Retractable to win if >4-1 (possible).

I also like the unraced Sanguine. On Lasik for the first time, seemingly being placed in a difficult first race. This might be the only bet I place based on the tote board, and I'll look for huge odds and a prayer.

CD Race 9: The Pocahontas, G3, 1 Mile on good ol' fashioned KY dirt, for 2YO Fillies.

I like Rachel Alexandra in this race, and she most likely will be the bettor's chalk as well. 4 races under her belt, and the owner of two 80 plus Beyer's. The horse has drilled bullets at CD and is coming off a solid N2L at CD. This is a pretty nice field and I'll watch the tote board for better then 4-1 (maybe, doubtful).

Sara Louise is intriguing to me. Nothing special on the PP, this girl won her last race at 7f and has had some good works.

Pretty Prolific has one win at 5f and a dud of a 1 mile effort her last race out. She's raced in a G2 and a G3 and has been drilling at CD since early September.

Dr. Zic comes in with one race, one win, a wire to wire at KEE

The last possible for me is Selective, last raced in early September, and working without much fanfare at CD since.

I'm going to bet 2 bucks to win on the horse with the best long odd's. I may take an exacta play as well.

CD Race 10: The Iroquois, G3, 1 mile on dirt for 2 YO .

The 2yo races give me a headache! So much promise, so little to analyze, so much to be confused by.

I like three horses in this race. The first is Brave Victory. Coming off a so so G1 effort, his previous two races at 7f were consistent efforts of about 90 Beyer's each. He worked twice at SAR and today has her 4th jock in five races for Nic Zito.

Monty's Best is coming off a 7f win at WO . No real good reasons.

Casey's on Call is 2 for 2 with two solid consistent Beyer's and some solid works.

Again, game time decision based on the tote board.

The Turk is starting a spreadsheet for kicks. Between now and the end of the Breeder's Cup 2009, I'm going to track all my expenses and winnings and I'm hoping to break even over the course of the year. It should be amusing to see how I delude myself. Before today's races I'm ($4.75), the cost of the PP's for today.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Breeder's Cup: European Perspective

Julian Muscat of the UK TimesOnline, has written a very cutting European view of the events of the Breeder's Cup.

I for one am happy to see the Europeans come here and win. We call it a World Championship but we don't even pretend to try and have it at Ascot or Longchamp. We invite European horses to come to the United States, run an opposite direction, compete on a surface just as foreign to them as it seems to many of our trainers, and yet they win and win big on day two.

Muscat writes "....As worthy as were previous renewals, the 25th Breeders' Cup broke significant new ground here on Saturday. It was cathartic from a British perspective: four winners from nine races redeemed what has otherwise been an eminently forgettable season. But the broader question concerns American reaction to an occasion when their horses were put to the sword. Will Americans rise to the challenge in the spirit that has transformed the Ryder Cup into a leading sporting event? Or will they clamour for a return to a dirt surface on which their horses used to bloody European noses? "

If Curlin's connections didn't like the surface they should have stayed home. For months now all we have heard from the owner and trainer is the hesitation to step onto Pro Ride. Curlin has nothing to be ashamed of or apologize for. He flew to Dubai this year and dominated. He tried a Turf race against legitimate Grade 1 horses and he came up a bit short. Instead of spending time at a dull Woodward in August or Belmont in September, perhaps he should have been at Del Mar, or Keeneland, or Santa Anita drilling on the future surface of the industry. I am not attacking an owner like Mr. Jackson in any way because if we had more owners like him we would have had a four year old Hard Spun, a four year old Street Sense, a four year old Rags to Riches on the race track, but the hand wringing over the surface sounds like excuse making now that Curlin, valiant and game as he was, failed to win.

The gene pool is small. The European horses are closely related to our American stars. The rules for the Breeder's Cup are our rules, the tracks our tracks. It's time for American owners and trainers to get serious about being the best.

Julian's article can be found at :

The Turk was fascinated to read and listen to so many opinions about the steroid ban and what that means to what we saw this past weekend. The California Horse Racing Board took steps to ban any horse administered anabolic steroids on or after August 22nd. Banning steroid use only helps level the playing field and eliminate built in excuses (you know, like the ones about Artificial Surfaces).

The snippets of Julian's article I quoted belong to the UK Times Online.

Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Breeders Cup 2008 Video Review: Saturday

Muhannak (Ire) takes a snooze fest of 1 1/4 miles and a hell of a last 1/4 mile in the BC Marathon.

In the Turf Sprint, Desert Code pulled off the longshot of the weekend.

In the Dirt Mile, Albertus Maximus paid a healthy price of his own.

In the BC Mile, Goldikova (IRE) took care of business.

Midshipman wins the BC Juvenile. Here's hoping he's more Street Sense then War Pass.

In the Juvenile Turf, Donativum (GB) wins it.

Midnight Lute repeats in the BC Sprint.

Conduit (IRE) has a run to remember in the BC Turf.

And finally The BC Classic. Raven's Pass, with Detorri up, pulls off a stunner.

Breeder's Cup 2008 Video Recap: Friday

Ventura started the day off...F&M Sprint

Maram, arabic for Destiny, takes the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Stardom Bound stars in the Juvenile Fillies

Together Forever and the F&M Turf

And the Lady's Classic, the Distaff, Zenyatta wows the Eclipse voters

Breeder's Cup 2008: The Classic

Raven's Pass. I was thrilled by this horse watching the videos of his wins this year, but i thought that the shipping, the distance and the surface would be too much for him.

I became a real fan of Raven's Pass today. I was proud of Curlin, it was a strong move to take the lead at the top of the lane, but Dettori had Raven's Pass positioned perfectly.

I thought the weekend was a real sucess and The Turk will go into next year spending much more time paying attention to the European races. While I liked what I saw on video, I didn't have the guts or the courage to pick them based only on turf videos.

Thanks to everyone who sent me emails about the blog, it was very appreciated.

Will we see Curlin in Japan?

Stay turned!

Breeder's Cup 2008: The Classic

It's finally here. I've looked forward to this race as a horsefan for a long time. Sister Turk and I made a long drive roundtrip to see Curlin at the Woodward this year. We stood along the fence as Curlin walked back from the Winner's Circle. We chanted for him and stood in marvel at his magnificence. As a horse fan, I want Curlin to win today.

As a horseplayer, I don't want Curlin to win. I love what he does for the odds, and I'm looking for value.

With a superfector I'm looking for Curlin, Go Between, Tiago and Col. John.

With a 2 dollar win bet, I'm looking for Go Between .

Mrs. Turk places the 2 bucks on Tiago.

Little Turk is looking for Col. John.

They are headed to the post parade. It's been a great two days.

Breeder's Cup 2008: BC Sprint and BC Turf

The Turk finally broke through with a Superfector win in the BC Sprint. I fared better then Little Turk's soccer team.

The BC Turf finds me looking for Soldier of Fortune, Grand Courtier, Eagle Mountain and Dancing Forever.

The Little Turk likes Out of Control, decked out in Calumet Farm's silks (nice).

I'm taking a 2 dollar flyer on Winchester.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Dirt Mile, The Mile and jumping ahead to Race 7, the Sprint

Albertus Maximus. I had him in the top four, but the ticket got smoked by Well Armed not firing at all, as well as Mast Track and Surf Cat just not running good.

In Race 4 The Big Turk likes Daytona, Goldikova, Kip Deville and Whatsthescript.

The Little Turk Bold Chieftain.

Speaking of the Little Turk, we are off to see him play a soccer game (keeping the Turk family priorities thanks to TIVO).

The timing is good because I was only going to watch Races 5 and 6.

Race 7 is the Breeders Cup Sprint at 6f.

The Big Turk likes Midnight Lute, Fatal Bullet, In Summation and Street Boss.

The Little Turk likes First Defense and I'm going to take a 2 dollar flyer on Black Seventeen.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Turf Sprint and Dirt (ahem) Mile

The Turk never pretends to be something he's not. I wrote "Grade 1 failure" next to 36-1 Desert Code in the PP. Congratulations to the connections, again very likeable people (as opposed to Dutrow- Did anyone hear him open his trap and say something stupid again yesterday?

Mr. Nightlinger flew out sideways when he went from the turf to the dirt. My ticket was cooked.

In Race 3 comes the Pro Ride Faux Dirt Mile. The Big Turk is looking for the following four in a boxed 10 cent superfecta: Well Armed, Albertus Maximus, Mast Track and Surf Cat.

I'll be placing 2 bucks on Well Armed.

Little Turk likes Mast Track to win.

Breeder's Cup Marathon and Turf Sprint

A great way to kick off day 2. The 1 1/2 mile race was a 1 1/16 walk in the park and a jail break from the top of the lane into the stretch. Church Service closed like a freight train, but Muhannak and his very likeable connections pulled out a thriller to cash $26.80.

After yesterday, I was worried that Euro's wouldn't even be competitive, but that notion just went the wayside.

Race 2 is the about 6 1/2f Turf Sprint.

I'm looking at another boxed 10 cent Superfector. I like Mr. Nightlinger, One Union, True to Tradition and Idiot Proof. I'm also placing a 2 dollar win bet on Mr. Nightlinger and Fleeting Spirit.

Little Turk likes the 4 yo filly, Only Answer.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Marathon

Marathon: 1 1/2 miles on Santa Anita faux dirt (pro-ride).

The Turk really enjoyed day one. It wasn't a good day for either Turk at the betting window, but I was happy with the races, the challenges within the races, and the coverage.

I thought the inside trip with the big fields was mostly a dead end. The front runners would come back to the pack as they inevitably do on faux dirt, and the jocks who still had game horses under them were either in good stalking positions on the right flanks of the horses in front of them, or had to try and swing wide heading into the stretch.

Zenyatta was magnificent and it made me feel guilty for not paying attention to her sooner. The Turk has a soft spot for big fillies, and he holds deep affection for Ruffian, Personal Ensign, Winning Colors, and Rags to Riches, champions all. I hope we see Zenyatta next year, and I don't know what the connections have in mind, but oh to see her campaign in Saratoga next year. I know it's a pipe dream but....

The Turk has talked up Forever Together now for some time, but his mouth didn't match his tickets.

Congratulations to all involved yesterday. While I don't think the people who market our sport know how to tap into a bigger market, I thought yesterday went well. I did hear the Breeder's Cup President on the Jim Rome Show. He made a comment that the best way to get into horse racing was to own a horse. Good going alientating 95% of the people listening.

Anyway, Race one is a few hours away. The Turk likes the superfecta in this race, the 10 cent boxed variety. I'm looking for Sixties Icon with Dettori up, Zappa, Big Booster and Cedar Mountain. I've also got 2 bucks on Cedar Mountain to win.

Little Turk picks Zappa.

Let's get it on!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Breeder's Cup 2008: F&M Turf and Distaff

The Turk and Little Turk must go, but we leave Ladies Day with the last two picks:

In the F&M Turf, Little Turk likes Folk Opera and Big Turk likes Halfway to Heaven

In the Distaff, I like Cocoa Beach and Little Turk likes Ginger Punch.
Go Zenyatta.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Juvenile Fillies

Breeder's Cup 2008: Juvenile Fillies 1/16 on faux dirt.
What a move by Stardom Bound. The sound you hear is Little Turk shrieking over Dream Empress's late run that came up short.

I thought Sky Diva positioned well but then had to swing back out wide in the stretch and the trip didn't materialize.

Mike Smith has some nice mounts today.

These big fields have made the trip ultra critical. Outside horses seem to be making it inside well, so I'm less concerend > mile about the outside.

Pro Ride, Shmo Ride...It's championship horse racing y'all.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Juvenile Fillies

Breeder's Cup 2008 Juvenile Fillies, 1 1/16 on faux dirt.
20 minutes to post. The Little Turk likes Dream Empress. I do to, but I like two others more.

I'm a fan of Sky Diva. Currently 9-2 and breaking from the four hole. I am also a fan of Doremifasollatido. I loved her run at the Matron in September. I hate her post here, but I'm looking for wild value from a horse I actually know and like.

Big Turk is having fun and I like the coverage. There's something fun about watching Hank Goldberg sweat excessively. I'd like to hang out with him at a good claimer's track like Fort Erie one day. If Ms. Edwards came it would be a real fun day!

I'm betting two bucks on Sky Diva and 2 bucks on Doremi, both to win.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Juvenile Fillies Turf

The unnoficals are up and Maram is posted as the winner. Great coverage and some good above course shots on the reply.

ESPN is talking to Chad Brown, the trainer. He skipped his grandfather's funeral to be at the Breeder's Cup, and he says the grandfather would have wanted him there. That's great stuff. Chad Brown, you have a big fan in the Turk.

I was very impressed by Heart Shaped. Readers of the Turk know I get a bit misty eyed when I see the Royal Blue, Orange Ball and Orange Striped silks. Aidan O'Brien's horse ran a hell of a race for Place. Prado ran Laragh a bit too agressively me thinks.

Breeder's Cup 2008: Juvenile Fillies Turf

Breeder's Cup 1 Mile Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Little Turk and I both like Sugar Mom, currently about 10-1. The Turk doesn't like to bet two year olds, but again, we are throwing the rules out today. 4 bucks on Sugar Mom.

Feminists around the world are cringing as the Juddmont Farm's Prince announces a colt win is what he's really hoping for. He loves you Ventura, 1 million times more now.

I'm geeked already!

Breeder's Cup: F&M Sprint Champion

Congrat's Ventura. The first race was exciting. The coverage is good early on. That was one stacked field.

Little Turk and I are regrouping....

Breeders Cup 2008: F&M Sprint

The Turk and the Little Turk are tuned in and happy that today has finally come. I've watched as much video and studied as many PP's as any one Turk can.

We are 10 minutes to post. Little Turk likes Indian Blessing, currently at 2-1. Big Turk likes Indian Blessing as well, but the horse player in me is looking for value, so I am plucking down 2 bucks on Tizzy's Tune, currently 30-1. She closes like a train and she is at home.

I'm waiting for this abysmal ESPN2 soccer coverage to end....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breeder's Cup Preview: The Mile

Breeder's Cup Mile, G1. 3 yo and up October 25,2008.

A strong field of entrants, some of whom may go in different races, but we'll pretend for now that they all run the mile. The Turk is having a real ball looking at the Europeans, studying the pedigrees, the PP's, and trying to sort out how they will fare with so many intangibles: How did they ship? How will they like the hard and fast turf? They seem so strong on paper and on video, but the races are run on the track, not in The Form as Papa Turk likes to tell me. Speaking of Papa Turk, he needs a pacemaker. He's a kind and loving father and the rest of the Turk clan is there for him. I also will be telling him not to watch the Raven's Pass because this horse may be too much for his ticker right now.

Raven's Pass, a 3 yo bred at Stonerside Stable in KY has won his last two races. This video is from his last race, beating Henrythenavigator in a tough stretch run at Ascot in the QE II Stakes at 1 mile, G1, on September 27, 2008. This horse may go in the Classic, but I couldn't wait any longer to show some video on him.

And I'd be remiss to not show Henrythenavigator beating Raven's Pass at the Sussex Stakes, G1, a 1 mile at Goodwood on July 20, 2008. I liked Raven's Pass in the loss still, digging in deep and losing by a head. If they meet in the Classic, I see no reason why Raven's Pass won't finish in front.

Kip Deville, the defending Breeder's Cup Mile Champion is coming off of the Woodbine Mile where he just didn't fire when he needed to and lost to a very game, and unfortunately absent Rahy's Attorney. This is still a beast of a 5 yo, capable of a 110 Beyer rating and not intimidated by the Euro's. While watching this race, pay attention to fellow entrant Ventura (104 Beyer). He's a steady 103 Beyer his past three races, including a nice G1 in June beating Lady of Venice and Together Forever. The Turk thinks if Ventura would have won the Woodbine Mile we'd be looking at <4-1. He didn't and I'll be watching the tote board minutes before post looking for good value.

Whatsthescriptis an interesting horse and this video is the Del Mar Mile, G2, from August 24, 2008. Fellow entrant Bold Chieftain Placed. Also watch for another entrant, Daytona.

The Shadwell Turf Mile,G1, from KEE on October 4, 2008 featured four of the entrants. Thorn Song (105 Beyer), Shakis (102 Beyer), Lord Admiral (102 Beyer) and War Monger (102 Beyer), as well as Rahy's Attorney all battled for a blanket finish after Thorn Song. There was alot of game efforts to like here.

Some of the other entrants, Goldikova and Precious Kitten I have highlighted in other posts. I'm going to skip over Awesome Gem and US Ranger (no disrespect Col. Morgan).

Lots to digest.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Breeders' Cup 2008 Preview: Filly and Mare Turf

Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf, G1. 1 1/4 for 3 yo and up.

8 August 2008, Goodwood (GB): 1 1/4 turf Nassau Stakes, G1. Halfway to Heaven, a 3yo Aidan O'Brien trainee who has battled all the top F&M's in Europe This is her first trip to America, and she last raced and won on October 4, 2008 beating another entrant in this race, Visit.

Another Halfway to Heaven win, this time the Irish 1000 Guineas, G1 on May 25, 2008.
The race just before this one, she was defeated by Zarkava (sigh) and lost place to another entrant, Goldikova, and we'll get to her next!

Goldikova (Ire) is a 3 yo who's last two losses were to Zarkava. This race link was her last race, September 7th, 2008, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, G1.

A couple of American girls are feautured in this next clip. Forever Together and Precious Kitten battle at KEE in the First Lady, G1 at 1 mile on the truf. Forever Together posted a 104 Beyer to defeat Precious Kitten, who posted a 101 for second.

September 27th, 2008. An interesting race featuring a few entrants in this race. on this day, Dynaforce defeats Mauralakana on yielding turf at Saratoga over 1 1/4 miles. Also in this race was Communique, a 4 yo G3 winner who may be in a bit deep with this group, yet has put up some consistant upper 90 Beyer's.

The Diana on July 26, 2008 was a race that Forever Together beat Dynaforce in. Yes, these horses for the most part, know each other! Wait A While finished 7th in this race as well.

Staying with our theme of the vanquished becoming the conquerer, The Beverly D raced on Arlington firm turf, Mauralakana (105 Beyer-career best) drubs Precious Kitten (99 Beyer) and defeats Communique (102 Beyer-career best).

Staying with the theme further, a G1 winner at Santa Anita, Wait A While has defeated Vacare, which she does in this race, the Yellow Ribbon at 1 1/4. Wait A While has been beaten by Forever Together, Dynaforce and Precious Kitten, and seems to have Vacare's number. Wait A While is unbeaten on Santa Anita turf.

Vacare, the 5 yo, may be fading a bit in 2008. She hasn't broken a 100 Beyer since defeating Precious Kitten in the First Lady Stakes at KEE in October 2007.

I don't know much about Folk Opera, Pure Clan or Sealy Hill, and I'm not expecting much from them anyway.

It's an interesting group that have beat and have been beaten by each other. The Turk is still doing his homework so I won't make a pick I'll regret later, but I will say I like what I saw in many of these clips.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Breeder's Cup 2008 Filly and Mare Sprint Preview

The Turk plucked down some winnings and purchased the PP's for the Breeder's Cup. I'm a pig in mud, a rooster in the hen house, a cube dweller with his TPS report. Yes, I'm happy.

I'm going to break off the Heavy Hitter previews and move right to the individual races and try to look at the contenders in each race from a trip handicapping perspective right now. As the entrys become final and the post positions set, I'll return to this race and make my selections, but for now, the Turk approaches this with as open a mind and he can muster.

Filly and Mare Sprint. Race 3 October 24, 2008. F&M 3 yo and up. 7f on Santa Anita faux-dirt.

Zaftig and Indian Blessing. The Acorn, G1. June 7, 2008 at BEL. 1 Mile. Indian Blessing has raced on time one last year's version of faux dirt at Santa Anita. They have met one time and Zaftig shocked the Champion Baffert trained Filly. Gomez was shuffled off of Indian Blessing and she's had two jocks since then and her Beyer's have have been a steady 110. Zaftig, with her effort in the Acorn, owns the race's best lifetime Beyer. She hasn't raced since beating Indian Blessing.

Indian Blessing wins the Test Stakes at Saratoga August 2, 2008. 7f G1.

Ventura posting a 104 Beyer in a losing effort in the Woodbine Mile, September 7, 2008. Lots of turf and two synthetic wins in her resume.

Dearest Trickski winning the G3 Rancho Bernardo 6 1/2 f on Delmar faux dirt on August 24, 2008. A game Tiz Elemental and La Tee will also be meeting again, as well as Magnificience who finished 5th this day. This contigent of Turf and Synthetic Runners have the potential for some attractive odds, and all are capable of a solid 100 Beyer on the sythetic. Will that be the fig to beat? Inquiring Turks want to know.

A Turk watcher in 2007, Dream Rush hasn't fired in 2008. This video is Dream Rush at Saratoga tarining track on October 10, 2008 where she posted a bullet breeze of 4f in 47 and 2 fifths (1/25).

I don't know much about Indyanne. Robby Albarado was up in a G3 with a 101 Beyer. This video is from July 12, 2008 at Calder, another G3 at 6f. She has two synthetic wins in her career, and while she's making a huge jump in class, what I'm seeing is interesting.

Intangaroo winning the G1 Ballerina Stakes, 7f on August 24, 2008 at Saratoga. Finishing second was another F&M Sprint entrant, Miraculous Miss.

Jazzy (ARG), Lady Sprinter, Psalm (IRE)have PP's that I don't have my Turk hands around yet. We'll have to work at them.

It's going to be a fun week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breeder's Cup Heavy Hitters Preview: Dirt Mile Contenders

Well Armed was addressed in a seperate post

Divine Park

G1 Metropolitan Handicap (The Met Mile), 1 Mile on fast dirt at Belmont-May 26, 2008

...Divine Park was unhurried while well in hand along the backstretch, moved out on the far turn, rapidly gained while four wide nearing the quarter pole, closed steadiliy to challenge inside the furlong marker and then wore down Commentator. Commentator led most of the race.

The fractions were 22.48; 44.52(22.04); 1.09.61(25.09); and a plodding final quarter in 27.30 for a final 1:36.91

Lewis Michael

G2 Pat O'Brien Handicap, 7f raced on Del Mar faux dirt-August 24, 2008

...Lewis Michael stalked the pace inside, came out into the stretch, bid outside the pacesetter in midstretch, gained a short lead, drifted in from the whip a 1/16 out, inched clear, continued to drift in under left handed pressure but won clear.

The fractions were 22.65; 45.07(22:42); 1:08.79(23.72); and the final 1/8 in 12.38 for a final 7f in 1:21.17. Lewis Michael returned 19.20. The chalk was Midnight Lute who started and finished poorly.


Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs-August 17, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Breeder's Cup Heavy Hitters Preview: Well Armed

Well Armed

Trainer Eoin Harty discusses Well Armed

August 24, 2008 Pacific Classic Stakes, G1. 1 1/4 on Del Mar faux dirt. Well Armed loses to Go Between by a neck.

...Go Between angled in and settled inside then off the rail on the backstretch, went three deep on the second turn and four wide into the stretch and rallied under left handed urging to gain the lead deep stretch, then gamely prevailed. Well Armed stalked off the rail the outside a rival, took the lead three deep a quarter mile out, inched away in the stretch, fought back inside the winner in the final furlong and continued gamely to the end.

The fractions were 23.4; 47.36; 1:12.20 (24.84); 1:37.06(24.86) and a final 1/4 in 24.12 for a final of 2:01.18 (A track record for Go Between)

July 19, 2008 San Diego Handicap, G2. 1 1/16 on Del Mar faux dirt

...Well Armed sped to the early lead, angled in on the first turn and set the pace inside of Global Hunter on the second turn, kicked clear under urging, came a bit off the rail in the deep stretch and held sway. Surf Cat stalked the pace inside, came out past midstretch and finished well to be second best.

The 1 1/16 mile race was run in fractions of 23.29; 46.89(23:60); 1:10.62(23:73); 1:35.14(24.52) and the final 1/16 in 6:43 for a final of 1:41.57. Well Armed never trailed.

September 27, 2008 Goodwood Stakes, G1. 1 1/8 on Santa Anita faux dirt

...Well Armed stalked outside then alongside a rival, bid three deep leaving the second turn and into the stretch, gained the lead outside foes, inched clear under urging and held gamely. Tiago unhurried outside a rival then off the rail, came out four wide into the stretch and rallied late for the place.

The 1 1/8 race had fractions of 23.26; 46.81; 1.10.31; 1:34.86 for a final 1:47.11. At the 3/4 mark, Well Armed was 3rd, 1.5 lengths back. Tiago, as Tiago will do, was 10th at that point and rallied hard.

March 29, 2008 Dubai World Cup, G1. ~1 1/4 on Nad Al Sheba's idea of dirt

Monday, October 13, 2008

Breeder's Cup Heavy Hitters Preview: Zenyatta

The Turk likes this filly and doesn't expect to bet against her winning the Distaff, but will look at this with my 10 cent Superfecta goggles on! Modified Trip Notes follow each video.

Lady Secret Stakes: Oak Tree at Santa Anita on September 27, 2008

...Zenyatta a bit slow to begin.She ranged up three deep in the stretch, gained the lead outside foes past the eighth pole and drew closer under a tap on the shoulder with the whip turned down and a moderate hand ride...Hysterical Lady led the whole way until Zenyatta willfully took the race. The 1 1/16 on Santa Anita's faux Dirt had an odd, 4 horse race pace. 24.26; 48.32(24.06); 1:11.45(23.13); 1:34.39(22.94) and the final 1/16 in 5.91 for a final time 1:40.30. Smoking at the end!

Clement L. Hirsch Handicap: Del Mar on August 2, 2008.

...Zenyatta unhurried off the rail early, moved up inside leaving the second turn, swung three wide in the stretch, rallied under some urging, swept to the front outside the runner up at 1/16 out kicked clear and proved best under a long hold late. The 1 1/16 mile in the Del Mar faux dirt had fractions of 23.24; 46:53 (23:19); 1:10.75 (24:22); 1:35.26 (24.51) and the final 1/16 in 6:22 for a final 1:41.48

Apple Blossom Handicap: Oaklawn on April 5, 2008

...Zenyatta was "unhurried, going away". She was last away. Began to accelerate through the second turn. Came four wide entering the lane and won going away. Ginger Punch was away in good order, set a moderate pace of 23.47;47.30;1:11.61 but she came up empty on the final drive. Brownie Points stalked most of the race and entered up with Place money. The 1 1/16 mile race on dirt had a final time of 1:42.64

What's Wrong with Horse Racing?

The Turk was hoping to take a rare vacation day and enjoy the afternoon. My dog got sick, nothing major, but it kept the Turk from spending the afternoon with his family. Being the Turk, I went to DRF Dot Com and what were the first two headlines:

Big Brown Retired.....
Arc winner Zarkava Retired.....

Luckily these horses are fine. They could easily race next year, but greed and stupidity rule the day.

The sport will never reclaim its glory without its stars racing in their fourth years. It's not rocket science.

I don't care how many video poker machines are installed at the track, the track is called the track because there is a "track" there. Now we need stars.

Is it time to allow a set number of invitro babies to encourage owners to risk lost breeding shed profits if their prize horse flesh breakdown?

Is it time for lucrative 4yo only purses or significant financial incentives?

The Turk may not be a horse racing industry insider, but he's sucessful at what he does and the so-called experts have given us what? Smaller handles, smaller crowds, no TV coverage, failing tracks, Ladies Classic? The insiders can't fix it.

It's another sad day in racing....