Sunday, October 26, 2008
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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....
Story from DRF.com and I thank them for it.
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown has been retired after the colt suffered an injury to his right front foot during a workout Monday morning at Aqueduct.
Thus, the dream match-up of Big Brown and Curlin will not take place as anticipated in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Curlin, the reigning Horse of the Year, was due to work at Santa Anita between races on Monday.
Big Brown tore off a chunk of the inside quarter of his right front foot while working six furlongs in company with defending Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville over Aqueduct's turf course. The two multiple Grade 1 winners worked head and head throughout the move, which Daily Racing Form timed in 1:12.89. Big Brown worked without front shoes.
The injury would take too long to heal to make the Breeder's Cup or any other race this year, his connections said. Co-owners Michael Iavarone - along with his wife and two daughters - and Paul Pompa Jr. observed the work from the backstretch along with trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.
After consultation with blacksmith Alex Leaf - who was at Aqueduct - and noted equine hoof specialist Ian McKinlay - who was not on-site - the decision was made to retire the horse.
"I'm sick I want to throw up right now," Iavarone said in a phone interview a few hours after the work. "It's emotionally painful more than it is anything else. When you begin to look at it selfishly, it's a terrible thing. When you look at it as a realistic person you're okay with it. He's going to retire happy and sound and he's going to go on and have a good life."
Big Brown, who will stand at stud at Robert Clays' Three Chimneys Farm, retires with seven wins from eight starts and earnings of $3,614,500. In addition to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Big Brown won the Florida Derby, Haskell Invitational, and Monmouth Stakes. His lone loss came when he was pulled up by jockey Kent Desormeaux at the quarter pole of the Belmont Stakes.
The 2008 Kentucky Derby
The 2008 Peakness
The Monmouth Stakes
The Haskell Invitational
2008 Santa Anita Derby
2008 Travers Stakes
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
There are two A type horses in the Turk’s bracket, and unfortunately I don’t disagree with the racing secretary. Horse #1, I’m So Lucky, is the ML favorite at 7-2. He raced to Show money in the G1 Kings Bishop in Saratoga on Travers Day. Since then he’s had three works at KEE since 12 September. His last three Beyer’s were 98, 99 and 97. He’s fresh and he has Robby Albarado up. I like his chances to win this race a lot, so as I’m typing I’m thinking of my strategy and hopefully when I’m done typing it will sound semi-coherent.
My other A group horse is Fidelio. This horse has kicked the class door open a bit, especially when compared to Ready’s Image, a solid B+ in this race, but with quite a resume. Fidelio has only one win on poly, when he broke his maiden at Woodbine. He’s got wildly erratic Beyer’s, with a 71, 92, 101 and a 55 in his last four. After that 55 in the G2 Amsterdam, he was freshened with six works at SAR, BEL and finally KEE. I think this horse is capable of bouncing back today to an upper 90 or even a 101 Beyer. His ML is 3-1, and if money chases some other horses, I like Fidelio a lot, especially >4-1.
Ready’s Image is entering his 7th graded stakes race. This is another horse shouting out to be freshened, after posting a 52 Beyer in his last race on July 6th at BEL. The racing line says one word “stopped”. Ouch! This horse seemed to hit his high water mark in Saratoga in 2007 and has been on a decline since. He started 2008 with a 94 Beyer in May and has done nothing since. Six straight 4f breezes that appear unspectacular bring him to today, where his name and his resume should be a magnet for the money. I’m hoping this is the case because while I’d like to see this horse do well, I’d be betting without any serious reason to believe that Ready’s ready to win again.
I think the 5, 10 and 11 horses could challenge. From the 5 post, is Eaton’sGift with Calvin Bo-Rail up. This is a G2 winner as well as a KEE poly track winner. He’s a ML 8-1 and I might try to get him into an exotic play, but I’m not sure he can win unless things break perfect.
The 10 horse is Hatta Fort (GB) who is a ML 8-1 as well. This Godolphin racerdid post a 99 Beyer on this very course in April, but ran a very inconsistent 2008. I think he’s more then capable of running a 92 Beyer today.
The 11 horse is Liberty Bull who is a ML 12-1. He won a 6f NX3 his last time out a PID but was smoked at the G2 Arkansas Derby the race before that. He has freshened with 4 works since 30 August and is looking for a bounce back to a 91 Beyer range.
My C Group I don’t think much of. Horse #2, Nickel Shooter is a ML 30-1. I have him rated better then that but no better then an 87 Beyer. West Express is the 7 horse. He’s won on this track, but I think he’s stepping up against too many good horses. I have him no better then an 88 Beyer. Same goes for the 8 horse, Meal Penalty except I don’t think he’ll run better then 85 Beyer. Ditto for the 9 horse, Wise Answer and the 12 horse, Amazing Results.
I have one train wreck D Class. Godolphin Gray is at the wrong track, running with the wrong horses and in the wrong class. No better then an 80 Beyer today.
The ML and Turk Chalk in this race is Criminologist. The 5 yo last raced on September 13th at BEL, winning the G3 at 1 mile on soft turf and has two mid tempo breezes since, all at Belmont. The Turk likes acclimated horses. Breaking from the 3 post with Prado up, Criminologist posted her lifetime best Beyer in this race one year ago at 102. She hasn't cracked three digits in 2008, but has been a very steady mid-upper 90's horse. In life, you have to be what you are. This is a Champion G3 horse and is very comfortable at this level of competition.
The Turk will need to find someone who can beat this horse or I'll use the three horse to power a Trifecta.
I have no other A horses in my groupings, but I have some interesting B's in no particular order:
From the 1 hole, Oh Deanne O is stepping up in class and last one an N3X in July on firm turf at 1 mile, posting an 87 Beyer. The 4 year old last raced on September 14th at today's race length and likely turf condition, posting a game place finish and a lifetime best 91 Beyer. The horse has early speed and will look to take the lead by the first turn. Can she hold off Criminologist or can he pull of place or show.? That's what I'm mulling.
From the 4 post, Waquoit's Love, the 5 yo that lost by a head to Criminologist the last time out after wiring the race until the last two hops. The horse has no graded stakes wins and has only worked once since it's last race in mid September. She seems to be capable of a low 90's Beyer on firm turf, but the question is can she repeat the 98 Beyer he hung on Criminologist? She'll have a new jock up and 4 pounds less to see if that's possible.
The Little Turk's choice is my last B group horse, Social Queen. The 4 yo has posted low 90 Beyer's at 1 1/16 on firm turf against G3 competition and won. The horse had a very light race schedule since early August, but has had some steady worka nd a G2 race in early September where she didn't challenge but ran an 88. I'm dubious, but this horse is also a closer and could be right there with Criminologist when these ladies turn for home. We'll see but I'm dubious.
My C group is small, OK one horse, Sunshine for Life. The horse is entering her first Graded Stakes and she is coming off a career best Beyer of 89 on firm turf at 1 1/16 miles. The horse is acclimated to Belmont and has had regular breezing works. I think the last race Beyer was a high water mark and that Sunshine for Life will finish near the back. If she takes the early lead, that will be interesting and she could find herself with a paycheck, but I think a winner's circle visit is a big stretch.
My D list contains a 5-1 ML horse, Maria Rosa (GB). The horse hasn't raced or worked in about 1 month. It's last two running lines refered to the horse as "rank". I don't see any better then a low 80's Beyer.
Classic Neel, from the 5 post, is a 20-1 ML. The horse hasn't won since September 2007. She raced against Criminologist and Waquoit's Love and got smoked in her last race. A year ago she was a low 90's Beyer, but 2008 doesn't seem to be a focused campaign and this distance will challenge her and I think she'll fold early.
Last but not least is Criticism (GB). This first time lasix hose hasn't raced in 2008. She breezed in steday intervals and fashion at Saratoga from early September to last week. I hope she enjoyed the SPA and who knows what she'll do today, but I'm not guessing on her.
I'm not making up my mind until near post time, but I'm leaning on 2 bucks for a straight trifecta of Criminologist, Waquoit's Love and Social Queen. No more then 2 bucks unless Waquoit's Love or Oh Deanne O get long prices.
Friday, October 10, 2008
At Belmont, Race 9, the 1 1/16 turf G3 Athenia Handicap. The ML chalk at 6-5 is Criminologist, coming off a G3 1 mile turf race win at Belmont on the 13th of September.
At Keeneland, we will take a look at Race 7 and Race 9. Race 7 , the approximately 7f dirt G3 Perryville. Robby Albarado is up on the ML chalk, the 5-2 I'm so Lucky, coming off a third place run in the G1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Travers Day. 2 Bullet breezes and a brisk 6f work since have the 3yo ready to roll.
Race 9 at KEE is the 1 1/8 dirt G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Alan Garcia is in town and is up on Ariege, the 3-1 ML chalk. Ariege finished third in the G1 Garden City at BEL on 6 September, and she has breezed easily three times since. I get a bit misty eyed anytime a Calumet Farm horse enters the gate favored.
And the forth Turk "special" is from the Oak Tree a Santa Anita, Race 8, the G3 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap, 1 mile on the faux-dirt. The ML chalk is Tasha's Miracle, drilled at regular 5 and 6f at SA since early September. The filly strung three low 90 Beyer's together in 2 G2's and a G3, but hasn't won since August 8th, 2007.
The Turk makes no bones about it this weekend, I'm looking forward to seeing Casino Drive race on Sunday. Casino Drive will start in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Sunday. Casino Drive, a half-brother to Belmont Stakes winners and Turk favorites Rags to Riches and Jazil, has not raced since winning the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10.
The Peter Pan Stakes 2008
And Casino Drive in Japan demolishing his maiden
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The Turk passes to no judgement because he is not capable of fairly condeming or approving of what the best approach is. I spoke recently about Larry Jones, a trainer who lives his life and trains his horses with an honesty that I appreciate on many levels. I guess on some level, discussing Larry Jones and this next gentleman gives the reader some idea of what I consider the horse trainer image that I consider ideal.
I'd like to highlight a various trainer every few weeks in a recurring series of articles. To lead off this collection of articles , I'd be remiss to not post this obituary from the New York Times on Frank Whitely Jr, in my mind, one of the greatest trainers ever and a member of the NTRA Hall of Fame. Frank was the trainer of Ruffian and Damascus among others, and all I've read about him, including Jane Schwartz's "Ruffian- Burning from the Start"has left me with an indelible image of a man who lived for his craft at the expense of almost all else.
May 4, 2008
Frank Whiteley Jr., 93, Dies; Trained Ruffian
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Frank Whiteley Jr., the thoroughbred racing Hall of Famer who trained the brilliant but ill-fated filly Ruffian, died Friday in Camden, S.C. He was 93. His death was announced by the New York Racing Association. A trainer for nearly a half century, Mr. Whiteley saddled the great gelding Forego and the 1967 horse of the year Damascus. But he was best remembered for Ruffian, perhaps the greatest female thoroughbred in history.
On July 6, 1975, Ruffian, undefeated in 10 starts — setting stakes or track records in most of them — and having swept the filly Triple Crown, was matched against Foolish Pleasure, the winner of that year’s Kentucky Derby, in a mile-and-a-quarter race at Belmont Park.
Coming two years after tennis’s celebrated Battle of the Sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the match race of the 3-year-olds was billed as horse racing’s equivalent of a glamorous boy versus girl duel, an equine sideshow to the women’s rights movement.
But what promised to be one of horse racing’s greatest days became one of its grimmest. Nearly half a mile into the race, in front by a neck, Ruffian shattered her right front ankle. Flashing her competitive spirit, she continued to run for another 40 yards, compounding her injury, as her jockey, Jacinto Vasquez, somehow managed to keep her upright. In an emotional sports saga that captured national attention, a team of veterinarians operated on Ruffian into the night in the face of virtually hopeless odds. They placed a cast on her broken leg, but while coming out of anesthesia, Ruffian struggled so violently that she smashed it. At 2:20 a.m. the day after the race, she was put down by injection. That night, she was buried at Belmont’s infield, 70 yards beyond the finish line, beneath a flag pole that had been flying at half staff.
Twenty-five years after Ruffian took her fatal misstep, Mr. Whiteley recalled the moment he had first seen her, in a pasture at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. He said, “She was only a yearling, but she had that quality you only see once in a lifetime.”
On Saturday, in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby, the filly Eight Belles collapsed with two broken ankles after finishing second to the colt Big Brown and was euthanized.
Frank Yewell Whiteley Jr. was born and raised on a farm in Centreville, Md. He rode horses at shows and fairs and obtained his trainer’s license in Maryland in 1936.
Mr. Whiteley won a Triple Crown race for the first time in 1965, when he saddled Tom Rolfe in the Preakness Stakes. Two years later, he trained Damascus, who won horse of the year honors after victories in the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes, the Travers and the Woodward.
In 1976, Mr. Whiteley took over the training of Forego, who won the horse of the year title that year. Mr. Whiteley was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 1978.
Mr. Whiteley was “a wonderful horseman, who did it the grass-roots way, and there just aren’t that many around any more,” his fellow Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey told the New York Racing Association. “When they got sick, he gave them aspirin. When they needed to be iced, he hosed them.”
Mr. Whiteley retired in 1984 and conducted winter training for many years in Camden. Last year, he was portrayed by Sam Shepard in the television movie “Ruffian.”
He is survived by his sons David and Alan. David Whiteley trained Coastal, the 1979 Belmont Stakes winner.
Two days after Ruffian’s death, a wreath of 1,200 white carnations in the shape of a horseshoe was placed on her grave by NYRA, an addition to a host of floral tributes there.
Mr. Whiteley glanced that day at Ruffian’s old stall in Barn 34 at Belmont. “That stall will never be occupied as long as I have this barn,” he said. “There’ll never be a horse worthy of entering it.”
And the below link will lead you to a Frank Whitely jr. interview conducted in 1983.
The below video is from a Japanese TV feed, but the universal language of 1,200 pounds of horse flesh at 38 MPH is unmistakable. Wow! The filly, Zarkava has me sad wondering how dominant Rags to Riches could have been.
And for you conservative types who don't speak Japanese, here's the english speaking version
Saturday, October 4, 2008
"...I have a contrarian position the chalk. I like the 7 horse Ventana, whose ML is 8-1. This Baffert horse won at 6f his last time out and since has had a string of constant and solid works at Belmont. I'll be looking for real value here on a win bet. "
The Turk is never ashamed to admit he missed. It's part of critical analysis and getting better at the craft of handicapping. I really believed that Ventana would not only compete, but possibly win. The Baffert colt finished dead last and never challenged.
The only G1 winner before this race was today's winner, Vineyard Haven. The knock on Vineyard Haven was that the G1 Hopeful had a bad start and he won by default. I didn't buy that after looking at the Equibase Race Chart ($1.50). That said, Cribnote and Munnings came to run today and the top three today were the top three (with Munnings and Cribnote flip flopping) from the Hopeful. We seem to have some juvenile contenders finding their pecking order.
Said Vineyard Haven's jockey, Edgar Prado "I saw the horse win in Saratoga. I’ve ridden him a couple of times (in the mornings). He broke nice and easy. I had pressure, but he kept pricking his ears and going so easily. I was moving along a little bit, but when I called on him, he just accelerated. How many horses do you know that can do that: go fast, relax on the turn and then find another gear? I had to ease up in the last part because he was opening up too much on the group.”
The ML chalk, Tagg's Hello Broadway finished 5th. Another horse I liked and bet, Gone Astry, closed quickly but ran out of ground. I'll be looking for him at 1 1/16 the next time out.
Vineyard Haven paid $10.40 to win. Sometimes value stares you right in the eyes.
Thorn Song, with Robby Albarado up, ran a nice tactical race, and he had a lot of horse for the last 2 furlongs. The Turk's favorite, Rahy's Attorney, broke well from the 12 spot, sat in second until the final turn, and faded at the end. I didn't bet the race because I didn't have time to fully handicap it, but I'm not sure if it settled a favorite for the turf mile. Some good horses just didn't seem that interested in winning.
Jason Shandler of Bloodhorse.com reported that "...Ridden aggressively by Robby Albarado, Thorn Song broke from post three and took advantage of a lack of early speed in the field of 12. He clicked off solid fractions of :23.28, :46.26 and 1:10.01 for six furlongs. Karelian and Kingship were up close for a half-mile, as was Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) winner Rahy’s Attorney. War Monger was never far behind and came up to challenge at the top of the stretch. But Thorn Song repelled the bid with a sixteenth of a mile remaining and got to the wire before Shakis, who made a furious late run from the back of the pack."
Sky Diva? The public, and the Turk, liked the 5-10 combo, I didn't see the 1 horse at all. The 1-5-10 exacta paid a nice $58.20. A good quality video feed through Twin Spires showed the 10 horse, Gemswick Park shot from the far outside post, and then put up some really fast fractions, at 22.3 and 45.4. Sky Diva had a ground saving trip and then exploded. Persistantly, the 5 horse, closed like a freight train and I'm looking forward to calculating his last 1/4 mile pace.
I never saw Sky Diva coming. His only previous win, his maiden breaker, left us with this PP comment "won in handy fashion." Ditto in this race.
Also...True to Tradition looked very strong at Woodbine. On to Santa Anita for the 6 yo.
The Turk spent so much time on the two Belmont Races that he is going to sit back and just watch these two races and study them after the fact.
In the 7th race, I'm loking at the 6 horse, Majestic Blue if the price is >5-1. In the 8th Race, I like Rahy's Attorney, but only better then his ML of 5-1. $2 to win if I get 8-1 (possible).
I'll be back tonight to decompress and dissect.
For all the horses, this is a new distance. Some strong Beyer's in this group as well, and 6 of the 10 horses have run and G2 or G1 level.
I have a contrarian position the chalk. I like the 7 horse Ventana, whose ML is 8-1. This Baffert horse won at 6f his last time out and since has had a string of consitant and solid works atBelmont. I'll be looking for real value here on a win bet.
The Morning Line set by the track was contrarian in its own right. Hello Broadway, a half brother of Nobiz Like Showbiz and trained by Barclay Tagg, has the 6th best Beyer in the race, but there is lots to like and little seperating the talent. Hello Braodway in the 4 post won at Saratoga on 30 August at 61/2f where he really dug his heels in and gutted out the victory. He's had a string of solid works at Belmont as well and will go well today. There should be value still for a chalk whose only at 3.5-1. If he's pressed down >4.5-1 I think you have to think hard on him.
The only G1 winner of this bunch is the 3 horse, Vineyard Haven, winner of the Hopeful at Saratoga on 1 September. The knock on this win was that Cribnote was distracted and Munnings stumbled out of the gate. It's empty talk with such a small sample size of races to compare these horses with. The Turk dropped a buck and a half at Equibase getting a race chart and all it really told me was the Hopeful was packed with some quality horses. I'm hoping that money chases this horse down from its ML of 8-1, allowing some opportunies to arise elsewhere. At a minimum, he creates bettor anxiety.
Cribnote follows up that G1 debacle with blinkers on today. He owns the second best Beyer in the race and fought hard on the stretch to finish second in the Hopeful. He's starts the day at 4-1.
Munnings goes from the 10 post and his ML is 6-1. His third place, 75 Beyer in the Hopeful came six weeks after he had a 90 Beyer as the chalk to break his maiden. The horse has had steady works since the Hopeful and will have a new jock today.
That's a much bigger A Group then I'd like. The B Group is narrow:
Breakwater Edison ran in the Hopeful as well, finishing 4th after fading in the last few hops to the wire. He has a new rider today and has worked steady at Belmont for at least two weeks. His best Beyer was 89 in a G2 the race before the Hopeful. His ML is a low 12-1 and he starts in post 1
Brave Victory is a horse that I could argue is the dark chalk. He owns the best Beyer of 93, and before that he had a 91 and a 75 since mid July. Nick Zito is having a tough Belmont meet at 8% wins after 13 races, and he saddles a new jock today as Prado is aboard Vineyard Haven for this trip. This is the horse's first taste of a graded stakes race. Brave Victory breaks from the 8 spot and his ML is 6-1. We'll be watching this for a reasonable value play on a win bet.
Gone Astry goes off from ML 8-1 from the 9 post. He ran a 90 Beyer in front of the Turk at Saratoga on Traver's day and followed it up with an 83 in the G2 Futurity that Charitable Man won. he had a 4f bullet, besting 60 other horses on 30 September. I'm wondering if a fast surface today doesn't propell him back into the 90's?
The line between C and D group is blurry and I'll lump them together. A.P. Cardinal has shown nothing to get me excited. He does have stedy consistant works and coming off his maiden breaking win at 6f with a beyer of 64 on a fast track at Monmouth in mid September. His ML is 20-1 and I agree.
Girolamo is ridden today by Alan Garcia (16%) for Kiran McLaughlin(14%). He finished fourth in a G2 race Charitable Man won on 13 September at Belmont. He's a 10-1 ML and has had a consistant string of mid 80 Beyer's. Not sure if he isn't just a consistant also ran.
I'm looking for $2 for Ventana to win if I get >7-1 (probable)
I'm looking for $2 for Cribnote to win if I get > 6-1 (possible, not likely)
I'm looking for $2 for Vineyard Haven if I get >6-1 (possible)
I'm looking for $2 for Gone Astry or Brave Victory only if both >10-1 (doubtful)
I will bet a 7-3 exacta (Ventana and Vineyard Haven) for $2
I'll keep it to six bucks and hope for the best.
The Turk likes to crunch data, and two year old fillies racing in early October don't give you alot of PP data that easily digestible. You have to look at alot of angles and these races are time consuming for the studious Turk. The Little Turk will undoubtedly spend 20 seconds and pick a horse to show, but then again, he's my boy.
I see to pretty classy and consistant horses in this group. The Morning Line chalk is the 5 horse, Persistently. She's a closer riden by Alan Garcia for 3 races now, including a G2 place on 13 September against a really game Doremi...(great race call by the way). It's a new distance, but she has improving Beyer's including the races second best at 85 her last time out. She's aclimated to Belmont and I think the money will chase her down below 2-1.
The only A horse I see is in the 10 spot, Gemswick Park. She's aclimated to Belmont and owns the race's highest Beyer at 91 her last time out. She'll have a new jock I recok, it's a new distance, and its her first Graded Stakes event. She has early speed and will need it from her starting position. I'm looking for value better then here 3.5-1 Morning Line and will bet to win if >4-1.
the rest of the field did little to inspire me. I have two B horses. In the 3 spot is War Echo,owner of a lifetime best 70 Beyer after 2 races. She did run this course and distance to win her last time out. Asmussen owns a gaudy 50% win rate this meet. Would have like to have seen longer, harder drills since 10 September.
My other B is in the 2 post, Royal Ballade. She has a 65 Beyer in her only race and has never faced a Graded Stakes group. It's a new distance with a new jockey. Her ML is 6-1 and I'm guessing she'll go lower. She's worth a flyer at better then 8-1.
The C group includes the following in no particular order:
The 1 horse, Sky Diva. She's ran the distance but she has a lot to overcome
The 4 horse, Miss Ocean City. Very sharp work and she ran an 81 in July to break her maiden.
The 6 horse, Collegiate, ran a 91 in July to break her maiden at 5f but has regressed in longer races.
The 9 horse, Heavenly Vision, ran an 81 in August at 6f to break her maiden, but never challenged in the G2 Matron. A new jock for Bob Baffert's (36% win at meet) filly.
My D group includes the 8 horse, Coffee in Bed. She's got consistent mediocre Beyer's, but she did break her maiden at a mile and 70 yards last time out. I think she's in over her head.
And finally, the 7 horse, Winning Brew. She is intriguing. She puts blinkers on today. She had a strong work at 5f a few days ago. She ran a G1, the Spinaway, in August. Betting her would be a blind shot in the dark, but the price will be very big.
All that said and the Turk can't argue against the ML Chalk, Persistently. I'm going to bet a 5-10 exacta and/or a 5-10-3 trifecta.
Friday, October 3, 2008
At Keeneland, I'll be handicapping Race 7 and Race 8. Race 7 is The Lane's End Breeder's Futurity, G1 for 2yo, 1 1/16 on the main track. Race 8 is the Shadwell Turf Mile, G1 for3yo and up.
At Belmont I'll handicap Race 8 and Race 9. Race 8 is The Frizette, G1 for 2yo fillies, 1 mile on the main track. Race 9 is The Champagne, G1 for 2yo, 1 mile on the main track.
If the large Pick Six Carryover mania continues at Belmont, I most likely will bring my small bankroll and my red pen out to partake.
The Turk is plenty excited, but has to get to his day job now. More to come.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I arrived moments before a "backside and barn tour" was starting. To my astonishment, I was the only person signed up for the tour, so a lovely young lady named Tiffany drove me around for over an hour. There was something special about seeing the barns, and the different ways the various trainers keep them. It was also fascinating to see the culture of the backside workers too. Most travel by bike and live above the barns. There is a Church, a recreation building, and an education center where the backside workers can study towards a GED and learn about citizenship requirements, as well as increase their knowledge of horse grooming and handling. There appears to be a sincere effort to provide community to these workers who live at the lowest edges of the poverty line. Inside the Museum, there is an exhibit of art work created by backside workers. I was very impressed by the creativity and quality of the art created in all sorts of creative media.
After returning from the barn and backside tour, the Turk signed up for what is called a “behind the scenes tour”. We started in the Jockey’s room. Everyone who’s ever watched race coverage on Derby Day is familiar with this room. The couch where Robby Albarado or Calvin Borel sit slumped in, answering inane questions as they try to relax, was surreal to see. The room is spacious but spartan, with ping pong tables, and is next to the locker room and scales. A separate female jockey room is adjacent, but the Turk wasn’t allowed in there for some reason!
From the Jockey’s Room we headed into the Grandstand, but not before crossing through the paddock. I stood in the Pink 8 stall and imagined the Jackson’s and Mike Matz saddling Barbaro just three Derby’s ago.
The Turk is a religious man, and I thanked my God for allowing me the opportunity and the time to come to Churchill Downs and see it like this, quiet and invoking.