Saturday, January 31, 2009


98 year old Eddie Logan was an American character if there ever was one. Santa Anita's mainstay has left us, and his passing, as was Joe Hirsch's, makes the Turk feel like horse racing has a long way to go to get back to where it once belonged.

Rest in Peace Eddie.

The Nomination is In: January 31, 2009

The Santa Monica Handicap, G1 at the Great Race Place, Santa Anita in beautiful Arcadia, CA. 7 Furlongs on what is called "Pro Ride", fake dirt that maybe is better for the horses, maybe isn't, depending on if you are a Euro who likes to win "dirt" races in the United States or not. For Fillies and Mares 4 YO and up.

The Turk apologizes for posting three times for three seperate races. Generally he likes to combine them into one post, but today's been a rather odd flowing day for him, and quite honestly I didn't expect to have the time to handicap all three graded stakes that had my attention.

Today is January 31st. Monday is Groundhog Day. I am a rather hearty Northern Climate guy, but this has been one brutal winter. I'm in the green energy business, so I love global warming because it is making my company lots and lots of money, but you couldn't convince me that the orb is heating up. The two images I present of winter show the joy and sadness of living in the north.

That's the Little Turk, doing what he does best, love life.

And that is Kay, The Turk Clan foundation Weimaraner. She does not like to do her business in the snow. I digress.

It's really a coin toss between Indian Blessing and Ventura. I went with Indian Blessing today because I'm thinking she has better current form. As a live long shot, I like Baroness Thatcher. I like the work, I like the first time blinkers, and it seems to me that she could be there with the best Beyer of her career today.

I'm staying on the sidelines for this one. I don't really see a betting opportunity I like right now, but as always watch the board and look for value against your scorecard.

The Nomination is in: January 31, 2009

The Donn Handicap, Grade 1 at Gulfstream Park; 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 4 YOs and up.

Another interesting race at Gulfstream. I'm looking out my window at the winter wonderland that is my yard and I'm really wishing I would have made plans to go to the Donn. It will definitely be on my next year's resolutions list.

Albertus Maximus just looms large. Wearing Shadwell Royal Blue and being saddled by McLaughlin for the first time today, he'd be a no brainer if this was fake dirt, but it's not, its honest to goodness real Florida Terra firma and the 5 YO is an unimpressive 0-3 on the real thing. All that said, and this is class personified. A real heavyweight and he should win this, no matter the surface, but....I like Anak Nakal to win this race. Besides having a name I'll never even try to pronounce, I like the current form and the placing of this horse to sneak in at >8-1 and make some noise. I'm swinging for the fences that most people won't place in their top four in this race, but I think he has a legitimate shot.

Arson Squad and Einstein are two other serious contenders for the big money. I think Einstein will gather alot of money on him and he should go off as the chalk. An impressive win in the Clark just after Thanksgiving, and just solid steady work that is indicative of a well deserved vacation but also good health for the 7 YO. Safe bet, little risk, little reward.

Arson Squad is a heavy hype horse. Just 2 wins in last 11 starts. Prado/Duttrow combo clicks at 27% of the time and Duttrow is 26% on dirt and 25% coming off a >60 day layoff. Last two races were speed burners, but I betting he doesn't come back at the same form in his first race back.

I think Bullsbay and A.P. Arrow can make an exotic ticket pay big. I think both are capable of place or show, but I wouldn't predict the wire for either. Bullsbay is just a steady eddie and A.P. Arrow is all over the board. We'll see.

The Nomination is In: January 31, 2009

The Holy Bull, G3 at Gulfstream. 1 1/8 miles on Dirt for 3 YOs.

Interesting race to handicap. I see four real quality horses who should be solid graded stakes contenders, some mediocrity, and some quirky post positioning as well. It's hard not to like the expected chalk, Grade 3 winner West Side Bernie. He's been brought along slowly, but his work is sizzling and his speed is building each race out. Money will flow to him, and while a win bet isn't worth it, as a player in boxed exotics seems without question.

In the 9 and 11 post sandwiching West Side Bernie is Nowhere to Hide and Beethoven. Nowhere to Hide is similar to West Side Bernie, as he's at a new distance, but does he sizzle in works. Trainer Zito is 32% winner off last win starts. Garcia is up.

Beethoven, a Grade 2 winner, will have Borel up and will need a good trip from the far outside.

I can picture Danger to Society being there in the last few hops to the wire. Idol Maker needs to show me something and I'm not even sure I'm not ranking him too high as it is.

Little Turk's karate dojo (AKA Turk's Saturday handicapping safe harbor)was madness today for whatever reason. I have no real bet strategy right now except that I like the separation between what I see as the quality stakes contenders and the good allowance winners. With that type of separation I'm thinking exotic right now. As always, watch the board and judge your scorecard against value (unless you like to win Show money- Bless Mama Turk's heart).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How Good is Good Ba Ba?

Anecdotal observation is the best runners at one mile make the best sires. This American born gelding that races in Hong Kong won't get the chance to be bred to Better then Honour or her daughter, Rags to Riches, but wow what a foal they'd make.

Good Ba Ba won the Stewards Cup 1 Mile yesterday, cementing his position as the best in the world. Too bad the connections won't bring him to Dubai or the Breeder's Cup.

I'm posting his last two races. This first race was lost in last month's holiday hub-bub, the Cathay Hong Kong Mile on December 14th, 2008 (track record). Kip Deville was running strong in this race until he got lost in a turn.

and then yesterday, in Hong Kong, The Steward's Cup 1600 meters

Good Ba Ba's pedigree can be found at:

Post Race Analysis for Race Day January 24, 2009

The Turk didn't get much time with the Sunshine Millions yesterday, as occasionally Turk marital obligations must be reckoned with. Dinner, wine and board games with some neighbors took precedent. That prevented the California races from being analyzed very deeply, but I had plenty of time to mull over the two Florida races I handicapped with very mixed results.

Race 8: Gulfstream, The Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, 1 1/8 miles for 4 YOs and up.

No real surprises with Wild Promises. It was expected and predicted, so what do we do when we have such an overwhelming favorite who we believe will win? Well we can either sit on the sidelines or, in the Turk's case, try and find some longer odds to sneak in there for an exacta or tri.

I tied my boat to Zee Zee and Peach Flambe, the number 2 and 4 bettors favorites. Zee Zee menaced at the top of the stretch but she faded. Peach Flambe was a non factor. I discounted Elusive Lady's chances, but she ran a very good race with Alan Garcia up.

So what can we learn? Diving back into the PP, Elusive Lady's Trainer Kimmel has won 25% of the time in the second race back after a 180 day layoff. Not much to hang your hat on. I see a G3 winner who didn't win all last year. If I had to draw any conclusions, I always go back to current form is all that matters, and Elusive Lady and Julie Tuttle (with her own non descript PP)both raced in the past three weeks while the others were just getting their legs under them. I considered it while handicapping, but let it go. Everything is crystal clear the next day.

Race 10: Gulfstream, The Sunshine Millions Classic, 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 4 YOs and up.

I thought Delightful Kiss would run well, but it was asking alot to win from the 12 spot. What I really am kicking myself on is It's a Bird. Going back to my red flair pen PP notes I had scribbled "Closer. Extra Distance from the 1 Mile Hal Hopeful will help. I noted a nice 38% trainer win rate on dirt and that the horse had won 3 of last 12". A :47 and 4/5ths 4f bullet five days earlier was not missed. I had a B on this horse and again, it's always more obvious afterwards. The whole point of disecting post race is to learn. It's a Bird ran well exactly three weeks earlier and ran two nice works afterward, indicative of health and good current form. Current form, current form, current form.

I was happy for Dry Martini, and I'm glad to see the gelding back in Tagg's barn. Macho Again had a bad trip and wasn't where he needed to be for the stretch. Atoned might be a good example of a long layoff horse that just wasn't ready to go mentally the first time the gate opened. Current form, and or lack of, is just as much mental as it is phyiscal.

I'm going to go through the exercise of working backward from the race charts back to the PP for Santa Anita's Race 8 and 9. I wasn't surprised to see Leah's Secret or Georgie Boy win, but I'm going to do a bit of school work and see if I can make sense of the order of finish from the chart back to the PP. I'll be posting those this week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Nominations Are In (Part 1: Florida): January 24, 2009

The Turk is a slow handicapping machine. I'm in sensory overload on days like today with the Sunshine Millions taking place in Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. So many races, so many favorite horses running, what to do, where to start?

I'm going to start in Florida because it's in my time zone, and I'm going to handicap Race 8, the Filly and Mare Turf at 1 1/8 miles and Race 10, The Classic, at 1 1/8 on dirt (how novel).

Race 8: The Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, 1 1/8 miles, for F&M 4 YO and up, bred in CA or FLA.

I don't have a bet strategy yet, nor do I often share those anyway, as that's not what the Turk is about. I grade em', I put together likely orders of finish, and I make 5 minute to post betting decisions that look to maximize the ROI on my 2 bucks. I'm not a whale, more like a pretty good guppy. I digress.

I think Wild Promises is the class of this race. Without looking at the Morning Line, which Turk shuns, I think that this girl will go off at odds only a bridge jumper would love (or Mama Turk, but again I digress). One of my favorite angles when I do bet is to wait for races with such a money magnet like this and either a. hop the train and hit a low risk, ok reward multi horse bet or b. look for someone to beat the chalk at a big price. Both angles are fun for me, but I like the latter better because most of the time you'll swing for the fences and lose, but every now and then....

I'll be honest I don't see a way to beat Wild Promises yet. I think Zee Zee could. I never hold the poor animals to blame for thier trainers, and while I dislike Mr. Dutrow as a fan, as a dispassionate gambler I'm impressed by the tainer stats. The horse hasn't been a winner, but she's fresh and has worked steady and regular. I like the Albarado/Dutrow combo to perhaps win at >3.5 to 1.

Just a hunch, but Peach Flambe I think will run well and could go off >10-1.

And race 10, The Sunshine Millions Classic, 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 4 YO and up bred in CA or FLA.

I could sing a slightly different tale of handicapper woe to you, but the Turk doesn't sing too well anyhow. I think this race has 5 legitimate horses who could take win or place and 8 of 12 who could argue for show money.

I don't think Delightful Kiss is starting in a good spot, and while I think the gelding is the best horse, I'm going to gamble against him winning. Instead, I'm looking for Atoned or Macho Again as likely winners, although Atoned seems more content to be second best in life. Tagg could have Dry Martini primed for a big race, but I like Hey Byrn as a legitimate longer odds horse and from left field I like Medzendeekron, owner of a 4f :45 and 2/5 and a 7f in 1:24 3/5's to maybe pull a shocker at >12-1. The trainer's turf to dirt is 23% but this horse is very unproven on dirt. I think it's worth a 2 buck flyer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Sunshine Millions. Marketing 101

In the Turk's opinion, this weekend's Sunshine Millions promotion, an early season event pitting Santa Anita and California Thoroughbreds against Gulf Stream and Floria Thoroughbreds is a great marketing idea to build buzz for these tracks in the period leading up to each meets marque matches.

To those who aren't familiar, the Sunshine Millions features eight races, with full fields of Florida and California bred entries and guaranteed purses totaling $3.6 million. There's a point system, and bragging rights, and yada yada yada, but the important thing is these are two great cards of mostly 4 YO's with a 3 YO sprint race thrown in, with some big purse money at stake.

The races worth following are:

At The Great Race Place

Sunshine Millions Turf
Four-Year-Olds and Up - Bred in California or Florida - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)

Sunshine Millions Distaff(got that right!)
Fillies and Mares, Four Years Old and Up - Bred in California or Florida - 1 1/16 Miles

Sunshine Millions Sprint
Four-Year-Olds & Up - Bred in California or Florida - 6 Furlongs

Sunshine Millions Oaks
For Three Years Old - 6 Furlongs

And at Gulfstream Park:

Sunshine Millions Classic
Four-Year-Olds and Up - Bred in California or Florida - 1 1/8 Miles

Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf
Fillies and Mares, Four Years Old and Up - Bred in California or Florida - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)

Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint
Fillies and Mares, Four Years Old and Up - Bred in California or Florida - 6 Furlongs

Sunshine Millions Dash
Three Years Old - Bred in California or Florida - 6 Furlongs

The Turk hasn't picked which 3 or 4 races he will handicap. It most likely will come down to the races that have his favorites running, and Turk favorites include Georgie Boy, In Summation, Leah's Secret, Macho Again, Dry Martini, Delightful Kiss, Zee Zee, Dearest Trickski and Ten Churros .

And while it's not the Turk's cup of bourbon, Twin Spires made an announcement yesterday that they are putting a full court press on coverage of the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas this Friday and Saturday. From the Twin Spires press release:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (January 20, 2009) –, the official advance deposit wagering service for Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN), will be helping horseplayers get an inside look at the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) from Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas by providing online video coverage of the event throughout the day both Friday, January 23rd and Saturday, January 24th.

TwinSpires’ Jill Byrne will be on site breaking down all of the NHC action with video updates, interviews and player reactions.

“When we learned the major racing television networks were not going to be on site covering the event, we found a way to step in and help out those horseplayers who wanted to get closer to the action from the Red Rock,” said Jeremy Clemons VP of Marketing for ‘We are constantly looking for unique and innovative ways to engage the horseplayer community.”

Go to for more details

In our society, we are quick to criticize. I commend Twin Spires for bringing a byzantine event like a handicapping contest to a computer screen near you. Good luck fellow handicappers. The Turk is a slow, painfully slow, handicapper, who tips his hand to these contest folks, but my process just doesn't work like that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fort Erie Race Track Update

Buffalo News reporter Robert J. Summers wrote today of the recent developments by the Town of Fort Erie and the Ontario Government in an attempt to save Fort Erie Race Track from closure and sale. Fort Erie is the sixth oldest continuous operation race track in North America. For the geographically challenged, Fort Erie sits across the Niagara River from downtown Buffalo. It is home to the Grade 1 Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, a race won last year by a fan favorite, Harlem Rocker. The great Northern Dancer was ridden by Ron Turcotte in his first victory as a two-year-old at Fort Erie Race Track.

FORT ERIE, Ont. — Like a desperate horseplayer fashioning a long-shot trifecta on the last race of the day, Fort Erie officials on Tuesday unveiled a complicated new plan to save the 111-year-old Fort Erie Race Track.

Unfortunately for the hundreds of employees and horsemen who make their living at the track, the plan comes with a short-term deadline (Monday at noon) and needs a big loan from the Ontario provincial government.

“We need the Province’s help to maintain this critical business in Fort Erie,” James Thibert, General Manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development & Tourism Corp., told a news conference.

It took Thibert more than an hour to explain details of the proposal, which calls for purchase of the thoroughbred track and surrounding properties from Nordic Gaming Corp. for $35 million. The money would come from a 40-year government loan backed by a mortgage on the facility’s 350 acres of property.

Nordic officials — who learned of the plan on Monday — said they need a $3.2 million down payment by noon Monday. Nordic’s license to operate a race track expires at the end of January.

The proposed deal calls for:

• Establishment of a not-for-profit corporation to operate the track.

• Agreement with Toronto’s Woodbine Race Track and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. — which operates the slot machine casinos at both tracks — to transfer 200 machines from Fort Erie to the more-crowded and profitable Woodbine for three years.

• Agreement with the Town of Fort Erie to contribute half of the revenue, up to $1 million a year, from its share of slot machine money to operate the track and pay down the debt.

Kim Craitor, the area’s representative (Member of Provincial Parliament) in the Ontario legislature in Toronto, endorsed the plan as an “unprecedented viable solution” and said he would deliver it as soon as possible to “the right people” in Toronto.

The proposal is the latest in a long series of efforts by local officials to get the province to assist the track’s live racing program, which has lost about $4 million a year for the past three seasons. So far, the proposals have received no response from the legislature at Queen’s Park.

As Thibert said, “The good news is on the 15th [of January, a previous deadline], they [Parliament] gave us no answer. But they refused to give us a ‘no.’ ”

Thibert emphasized that the government is being asked for a loan, not a “bailout.”

“It’s a loan,” Thibert said. “The Province . . . should underwrite and guarantee the loan as it will be secured against real property which is bound to increase in value over time.”

“Interest earned [by the province on the loan] is far less than costs associated with closure and layoffs,” he said, noting that the track and casino employs about 650 people while racing provides jobs for about 1,600 horsemen and their employees.

Thibert emphasized that Nordic does not require a check for the $3.2 million down payment on Monday, just a commitment that the money would come.

“The potential danger of closing will be significant,” said Kimberly Walpole Zanko, president of the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce. “We’re supported by tourism. [Closing] will have a domino effect.”

The Turk thanks the Buffalo News and Bob Summers, The Happy Handicapper, for the reuse of this article.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day January 18, 2009

Santa Anita Race 8, The El Encino Stakes G2, 1 1/16 miles on Pro Ride for 4 YO Fillies

With Lethal Heat scratched, I saw an opportunity to place Ginger Punch and Country Star in a Super, with Life is Sweet and Miss Singhsix.

The Turk is not a big bettor. He picks his marks and he walks when he doesn't feel the bet is worth the risk. What seperates The Turk from the big whales (besides the fact I work a real job by day) is the mindset; I'm too conservative to have a bankroll that I'm prepared to lose. My conservative style means I eek out meagerly, but there is an odd fulfillment this brings me, as I turn small amounts of money into slightly larger amounts of money.

I was bang on with my boxed Super today. I thought the risk on the box was worth it, as the top four horses in this race were clearly the top four horses. The money was spread around enough to produce a decent $156 payout.

I would have liked to have seen Lethal Heat run, and I had expected Ginger Pop to win, but you can't get everything. Country Star had the race won and couldn't finish the deal. I was impressed by Life is Sweet after such a long layoff. Shirreffs did a great job having her ready.

Updates Before Post: Race 9 Santa Anita- January 18, 2009

Lethal Heat and Foxy Danseur are scratches. I expected Lethal Heat to win this race, but I thought it was a toss up with Ginger Pop.

I may stay on the sidelines, but I'll be watching the tote right up to post, and I'm leaning towards a trifecta or superfecta with my list. We'll see where the odds go in a few minutes when the 7th race gets off the board.

The Nomination is In : January 18th, 2009

The Turk is looking at the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes at the Great Race Place, 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita's pro ride fake dirt (that only drains so-so- blame it on the last fake dirt)for 4 YO fillies.

It's a chalky type of outlook, but in my opinion there are three chalks in this race. I like the near trajectories that Lethal Heat and Ginger Pop are on. I like the works and the fact that they've ended their winter vacations early and kept working through the holidays. Country Star has the chops, but I have to question if she's ready after such a long layoff. I think Life is Sweet and Foxy Danseur could cause some mix up in the final order, but I can't see anyone taking the wire from one of the big three.

I'm in a winter cocoon right now that I'm rejoining the Turk clan in. Enjoy the races.

Post Race Analysis for Raceday January 17, 2009

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, The Mr. Prospector Stakes G3, 6 furlongs on dirt for 4 YOs and Up

Ikigai came into the race of a blazing 107 Beyer in a 5 furlong race at Calder and a winning Jock/Trainer percentage of 37%, and good but not great work at 4 furlongs. The odds rolled all over the place on this horse leading up to post, but he went off as the bettors 5th choice in a 7 horse race. It pays to be contrarian at the track when you are right. Ikigai was clearly the best on the track today, winning by 2 1/4 lengths.

The fact that Ikigai and Rollers came in one/two was interesting, but reading the tea leaf known as a Past Performance, the clues were there. Rollers had a four race upper 90/100 Beyer streak going until he turned in a dud in the slop at the Big A in November. Rollers turned in some very nice work, a recent 5 furlongs in :59. Tagg and Garcia had the classy 4 year old primed and we'll look for him again.

What does this mean for Black Seventeen? Apologists like myself blamed SA for his fall off, but the 5 YO is clearly on a cold streak. He could use some good ol' fashioned New York State dirt, but brother you gotta wait like everyone else for that, which means he needs to find his game.

He's So Chic had a bad trip and he'll be back.

I hope it wasn't the end for Kelly's Landing. The 8 year old has had a great career, capped with a win in Grade 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, with none other than Frankie Dettori up.

I had two low risk, decent reward bets placed. I had two straight supers with Black Seventeen/He's So Chic/Ikigai/Rollers and Black Seventeen/Ikigai/Rollers/He's So Chic.. Only have to hit a few of those a year the way I bet to stay black, but it wasn't to be.

And at Santa Anita , Race 7, The San Rafael, G3. 1 Mile on Santa Anita imitation dirt for 3 YOs.

The eight horse field scratched its way into a five horse field and the Turk decided to stay on the sidelines. I still like my pick of Ryehill Dreamer. I think he was inserted here to catch the bettors off guard. Our fellow Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance member Amateur Capper wrote me to say that Ryehill Dreamer still had a long coat in the paddock. Shake the coat out big fella, there are races I know you can win at SA, Dmr and HOL.

So what surprised me? The Pamplemousse wiring the race surprised me. I said pre race that this horse was a professional, consistent performer. He ran at 1 1/16 very well in mid December and had a 3f :35 and a 5f 1:00 3/5's and a 4f in :47 his last three practice runs.

I was not surprised by Square Eddie. He's now 2 of 7 lifetime, but 7 of 7 in the money. The Turk thinks winner's win, especially at this early point in a career. I'm not saying Square Eddie is not a winner, I'm saying if he was as professional as The Pamplemousse he'd be better off. Horses mature at different rates, just like us.

2009 San Rafael

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Updates before Post

The eight horse San Rafael is now a five horse race. I don't think the scratches will mean much except maybe a hotter pace and cleaner trips. post time is less then 2 hours from now.

At Gulfstream, The Mr. Prospector Handicap is less then 10 minutes away. The odds have swung significantly since the ML was set.

Time to watch what happens.

The Nominations are In: January 17, 2009

The Turk has his eye right now on two races today.

The first up will be at Gulfstream Park, Race 9, The Mr. Prospector Handicap G3, a six furlong blazer on the dirt for 4 YOs and up.

I think that Black Seventeen will win this race and I think the bettors will agree making any win and most exacta bets not that appealing to me. The interesting thing to me was the seven horse field does not have much seperating it and the final results could be different 20 times if they ran the race 20 times, but I still think Black Seventeen would win the majority of those 20. So the dilema is what to do? Watch the tote board and look for the best bang for your buck.

I like the last three races of How's Your Halo. He's not been a winner in his career, but he had great form into December.

Ikigai comes in with a 37% jock/trainer win rate and a 5f 107 Beyer.

Rollers requires you to through out his last effort and hang your hat on his Fall form and his 5f in :59 at GP last week.

I'm not inclined to take a gamble on Granizo and I would like to see Kelley's Landing win, but I'll keep my tissue box away and not get too weepy hoping.

Little Turk likes Black Seventeen and Mrs. Turk is likes How's Your Halo

The next race I'm looking at is at the Great Race Place, Santa Anita Race 7, The San Rafael, G3, 1 Mile on SA Pro Ride, (which isn't dirt but that doesn't mean the Turk is against it, just sayin') for 3 YOs.

Turk's swinging for the fence on this race. Square Eddie is the popular choice, and he has a G1 resume that is very solid. Now many people are happy winning 25 cents on a two dollar bet, Momma Turk God bless her would be more then happy to go ultra conservative and drop a show bet on him, but Turk is greedy.

I like Ryehill Dreamer. He's fresh, he finds the winners circle, he has a trainer and a jock who see something in him and I like the way he's worked. I'm hoping for good odds or the gamble isn't worth the ridicule if he falters.

Square Eddie should win this race, of this I'm sure. I've read articles this week prasing Brother Keith, but I don't see it yet. I do like the gaudy Frankel/Gomex combo winning percentage, but I see one race on Kentucky dirt. I do like the 6f in 1:12 and 2 extra lengths work at SA.

The Pamplemousse is very consistant and workmanlike. I think he'll be a top four horse often in his career, and I think he'll be in the mix here.

The Turk likes winners. Any athelete needs to be measured by sucess, not flash. Perhaps outclassed, Feisty Suances lives up to his name.

Mrs. Turk likes Fiddlers Afleet and The Little Turk is on Square Eddie's parade.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Go Between and Indyanne: You Will Not Be Forgotten

The Turk is above all else, a fan of the horses. Handicapping is nothing more then a crossword puzzle to me, a mental exercise. It's always been and it will always be for me the horses.

On January 1st, fellow Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance member Mary Forney (the current Director of Operations for the Thoroughbred Owners of California) sent out a picture of Indyanne in her barn which you can find at the wonderful Mary Forney blog ( Optimism was high that she could be saved, but unfortunately Indyanne was humanely put down today after her injuries were determined to be too severe to repair.

This beautiful 4 year old filly will not soon be forgotten. 2008 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes video shows her heart as well as her speed.

Indyanne Photo by Jim Lisa Photos

The double heartbreak today is the sad news of the passing of Go Between. The 6 year old Point Given son died after a morning workout from what is being descibed as a heart attack. The sadness of one of our athletes passing away is a cruel blow to a sport devoid of mature stars that have earned the adoration of the fan base. Go Between won the Pacific Classic in 2008.

In both cases, race fans like myself extend our sympathies to the owners, trainers and connections of these horses. They are flesh and blood, beloved by the people around them every day. They have souls, they love.

2008 Pacific Classic

Go Between photo: Benoit

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Handicapping Analysis for Raceday January 11, 2009

Santa Anita Race 8, The Santa Ysabel G3, 1 1/16 mile on fake dirt for 3 YO fillies.

Kids are great. The Little Turk is my constant companion. When he's not reading Geronimo Stilton books or playing games, he handicaps horses. His father, The Turk, spends an hour or so on the graded stakes races that I like to handicap and post blog entries about. The Little Turk likes to spend about 1 minute looking at the names, the biggest Beyer's, and then boom....The pick.

Little Turk nailed Century Park and a $51.40 win bet. The third Baffert horse in the race, and the only one the Big Turk didn't take too serious, I'm glad that Little Turk was there to help me pad the family Twin Spires account balance.

As I said earlier today, All, or nothing, will be revealed today in the 3 YO fillies division. I'm leaning towards nothing.

The Nomination is in: January 11, 2009

The Santa Ysabel G3 at Santa Anita Race 8: 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita fake dirt for 3 YO fillies.

The Turk is looking at this coming out party for 3 YO fillies at Santa Anita. After spending some time studying the PP, I found myself making arguments for horses based on mostly work in the morning. It's the time of the year where we gage current form with horses who took the holidays off. I like to treat works as part of the puzzle, but for many of these horses, it's the biggest piece on the table.

One of the first things that grabs my attention is the three Baffert trainees in this race. Jemmealey, owned by Zayat Stables, has a big price tag on his head and the expectations must be proportional. Previously a Mott trainee , I like this horse's work very much. I'm expecting long odds and I'll be watching that tote closely leading up to post. Yeah, I'm a bit excited at the prospects, but it is premature, a bit like the Punch Rare Corojo I've been carrying in my pocket humidor around for days waiting to smoke. Hmmmm....I digress.

Lady Lumberjack is a part hunch. This 3 YO Forestry daughter (Big Green Monkey fan here!) has been working well in the morning and lost by a head as the chalk in her last go out. She's still a maiden and she'll have Bejarano up again for the third time out.

Toro Bonito is a horse I have bet and lost on more then once, a bit rare for a light bettor like me to say about a freshly minted 3 YO. I really liked her chances in the Sharp Cat and she lost by 1 length to Pamona Ball. She ran against some good ones in the G1 Starlet in December and she has worked well since then. Winning just once in six starts, you'd like to see more will to win.

I like this grade and class of horse at this time of the year because you just don't know what you have. All, or nothing, could be revealed today as far as 3 YO Fillies go in California. You gotta watch, even if the handicap is so-so.

Mrs. Turk likes Lady Lumberjack and Little Turk is in for Century Park.

Post Race Analysis: Race Day January 10, 2009

Race 9 at Fair Grounds, The LeComte Stakes, G3, at 1 Mile on Dirt for 3YOs.

The bettors sent Friesan Fire off as the favorite and were not disappointed. I was surprised slightly as Indygo Mountain has garnered a lot of hype in the past few weeks. Indygo Mountain faired worse then I expected after leaving the gate poorly and never mounting any drive. I was surprised as well by the strong runs of Au Moon and especially Patena. It was a nice $40.20 exacta, the type of ticket the Turk likes to cash, but it wasn't to be. I'll have to change my stance somewhat next week. The Turk has been handicapping without morning lines, but I don't want to handicap scratched horses either, so I may take a quick peek just for those.

And at the Great Race Place, Santa Anita, Race 8, The San Pasqual Handicap G2, 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita's version of dirt that sometimes people praise and sometimes people scorn (D. Wayne felt the need to trash it this week)for 4 Yos.

About the only thing the Turk did get say right was that Cowboy Cal was mostly likely in better current form then Well Armed. What I liked most was the fight that Cowboy Cal brought to this one, refusing to surrender the lead. I didn't see Informed or Magnum being considerations, and both had strong races with so so trips. I gambled on Mostacolli Mort, who went off as the fourth pick of the bettors at 6.30. He saved ground, came out of the stretch, but had no where to go. The $1 exacta paid $90.90.

And near and dear to the Turk's heart, Turk went off as the overwhelming bettors choice in the 3rd race at Santa Anita yesterday, still looking to break his maiden. The Baffert owned and trained colt had the win but couldn't finish, taking place money for the second race in a row.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Nominations Are In: January 10, 2009

The Turk is looking at two races today.

Fair Grounds: The Lecomte G3, 1 Mile on dirt for 3 YOs.

The Turk has taken a fancy to handicapping these races with just a basic PP and without the morning lines in front of him. There are some fine online handicapper's out there who will take these exercises from cradle to grave for you, handicapping the race and then providing a betting strategy. In last week's declaration that I consider the betting strategy portion the sexy piece, and the fact that I'm not that interested in being too sexy, I'm just going to focus in 2009 on analyzing the field and taking the process right up to the point when you go to the window and lay down the cash. I digress.

I don't see a differentiation between the top five horses in this race. Professor Z owns the races highest lifetime Beyer. Indygo Mountain has a lot of class, has a load of promise, but almost nothing but a 1 mile dirt run at CD that he won his last time out. Friesan Fire has G2 and G3 experience but no results. He ran well his last work and the distance won't faze him. if I'm looking for value, I'm looking for him. Uno Mas and Big Push could factor in.

Because I don't see much between these freshly minted 3 YO's, I'm leaning towards an exatca that includes Friesan Fire with one of my A's or B's. Being conservative sometimes means not losing as much.

The Little Turk and Mrs. Turk are both jinxing me and taking a 2 dollar flyer on Friesen Fire.

The second race of today is Race 8 at Santa Anita, The San Pasqual Handicap G2, 1 1/16 miles for 4 YOs on Santa Anita's version of faux dirt.

This is a race to appreciate just as a horse fan. I think most money will favor Cowboy Cal and Well Armed . Of the two, I think Cowboy Cal has the best current form. Basing picks on works can be tricky, but I like the works of Mostacolli Mort. If I am going to be agressive, it will be on this horse for anything >4-1.

Ball Four, Slew's Tizzy and Past the Point all are capable of being in the money. I think it drops off after those five, but Noble Court has a chance to unseat someone and maybe sneak into the exotic plays.

Mrs Turk likes Past the Point and The Little Turk is favoring Slew's Tizzy.

And finally, the Turk's favorite horse,Turk, runs today at Santa Anita in Race 3. The Baffert trainee came flying late to just miss breaking his maiden. The entire Turk Clan obviously will be favoring this 3 YO.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rest in Peace- You Are Not Forgotten


Joe Hirsch

I think internet blogging of the sport of horse racing has been discussed quite a bit lately, with Teresa at Brooklyn Backstrech writing quite constructivly on the subject on January 5th and then today.

The horse racing world lost a legend of the game today with the passing of writer Joe Hirsch. While this is only my opinion, any professional writer who cares passionately about the subject would also respect the work of non-paid writers who with equal passion, write about the same things. That's the Turk's way of saying that in this era where our sport's media coverage is endangered, Joe would have respected the writing of the high quality blogs, and appreciated in general all the bloggers because after all, we are his readers.

For those of you who don't know about Joe, I reference Wiki for a short version of his life.

Joe Hirsch (born 1929) is an American horse racing columnist and the founding president of the National Turf Writers Association. He earned a degree in journalism from New York University then served with the United States Army for four years. He joined the staff of the New York Times but remained only a short time before going to work at The Morning Telegraph, then the companion paper of the Daily Racing Form with which he became associated in 1954 and retired from as its executive columnist in 2003.

Often referred to as the "dean" of Thoroughbred racing writers, Hirsch is the only American writer to win both the Eclipse Award for outstanding writing and the Lord Derby Award in London from the Horserace Writers and Reporters Association of Great Britain. Hirsch also received the Eclipse Award of Merit (1992), the Big Sport of Turfdom Award (1983), The Jockey Club Medal (1989), and was designated as the honored guest at the 1994 Thoroughbred Club of America's Testimonial Dinner. The annual Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park was named in his honor as are the press boxes at the Saratoga Race Course and Churchill Downs racecourses. The Breeders' Cup Ltd. presents the Joe Hirsch Award to a member of the media for their coverage of the Breeders' Cup.

In 2005, the University of Kentucky and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced the creation of the Joe Hirsch Scholarship to assist a worthy student interested in pursuing a career in Thoroughbred racing journalism. The first recipient of the scholarship was Ms Amanda Duckworth.

Hirsch is also known for being the roommate to Jets rookie Quarterback Joe Namath upon his arrival in New York City.

Joe Hirsch serves as a member of the selection committee for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He is the author or co-author of five books:

First Century : Daily Racing Form chronicles 100 years of Thoroughbred Racing (1996)
The Grand senor : The Fabulous Career of Horatio Luro (1989)
Kentucky Derby : The Chance of a Lifetime (1988) co-authored with Jim Bolus.
In The Winner's Circle: The Jones Boys of Calumet Farm (1974) co-authored with Gene Plowden
A Treasury of Questions and Answers from the Morning Telegraph and Daily Racing Form - Illustrations by Peb (1969)

Rest in Peace Joe

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Raceday January 3, 2009

The Turk has a few axioms he lives by as a handicappper. Most of these handicapping rules I stole from other people, men like Brad Free and Andrew Beyer, but that's neither here nor there and luckily personal integrity isn't mandatory to bet the ponies.

The most important thing we do when picking horse races is identifying what horses have a chance to win and which ones don't. I love to state the obvious. Picking potential winners out of a field of twenty or less is where it all begins. The sexy handicapping thing is to talk about exotic plays with matrix charts and wheels. I'll save sexy for other people and I'll stick with simply trying to identify who I think will win, who I think has a chance to win, and who doesn't have a chance in a one horse match race.

In the races I handicapped yesterday, I identified three of the top four horses in each race. Of course I'd prefer four for four, and I strive for that type of perfection, but it is what it is. What we do with the information of who may win is where sexy comes into play. Turk won't be bringing sexy back anytime soon.

In Race 4 at GP, The Spectacular Bid, a 6f shindig on dirt for 3 YOs.

Notonthesamepage had been beaten soundly by some of the best 2 YO's in fall racing, taking on Vineyard Haven, Cribnote, Munnings, Square Eddie and Pioneer of the Nile. He drilled 4f and 5f works since early December and the reduction in distance powered him to an impressive win by 8 1/4 lengths. I missed with Jazzandthemagician, and I never saw Bee Cee Cee, nor did the bettors.

In Race 8 at Aqueduct, The Count Fleet, 1 mile and 70 Yards on NYS dirt, the result was not surprising to anyone. Haynesfield winning by 3 1/2 lengths over a slim 5 horse field propels himself squarely onto my Derby watch. I was disappointed with Pitched Perfectly and Aswaaq, and hopefully they will be on a track again within 4-5 weeks.

And at Santa Anita Park, The Great Race Place, Race 8, The Monrovia Handicap G3, About 6 1/2f on the downhill Turf Course, for Fillies and Mares 4 YO and up.

Jibboom was my only A plus horse, my chalk, going into the race. I liked his works of 4f and 5f going into the race. I was happy with the odds up on the board and cashed $5.40 on the win. I liked Society Hostess, but she never really fired. I never saw Christina's Heat and I had her lumped in as a B minus, top 8 horse. Good for her. Looking at her in hindsight, she's a steady girl, and she gave her usual steady effort yesterday. I'm going to watch her and see where she's entered next.

It was a fun first weekend of the new year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Nominations Are In: January 3, 2009: GP and SA

I'm looking to Gulfsteam today for a a three year old race, The Spectacular Bid, and to Santa Anita for a four year old Filly and Mare Turf race, The Monrovia Handicap, G3.

I think the two morning line favorites, You Luckie Mann and Silent Valor will attract money in equal gobs and that should create a betting opportunity that this prudent bettor will look to capitalize on. As always, bet late and watch the money flow.

The Turk didn't look at the morning lines before handicapping this one. I think my top four make the most sense and I am leaning towards Society Hostess but will keep my options open near post time. My chart lists Society Hostess as the reigning champ. She won in 2007 and was second in 2008.

On an unrelated note, the Turk started to populate his Equibase Virtual Stable with his three year old Derby contenders. In case you are not familiar with Virtual Stable, it is a free tool that you can sign up for through Equibase. Once you enter the horses you want into a personalized stable, you can set yourself to receive workout information and race notifications. I find it useful to keep up on the multiple horses I'm tracking this early in the Derby trail.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Nomination is in: January 3, 2009: The Count Fleet at AQU

The Nomination is in. The first handicapped race of the year is The Count Fleet, 1 mile and 70 Yards in the dirt of AQU for 3 YOs.

This is a tricky race to predict. Haynesfield has won at this distance and his top two Beyers are very solid in comparison to the others. He takes on two classy horses in Pitched Perfectly and Aswaaq, classy but needing to show something.

I think it's a coin toss, but The Turk likes the chalk Haynesfield. I'm going to watch the board right up to post and make a game time betting decision. If I do bet I'll look to place Haynesfield in an exacta with either the 1 or 2 horse, and it will be odds driven as I see little seperating these two horses right now.

For the record, Little Turk likes the 3 horse, Jess Not Jesse and Mrs. Turk likes Pitched Perfectly.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Past 10 Kentucky Derby Winners: When Did They Start Their 3YO Campaigns?

I was curious as to when the past ten Kentucky Derby winners started their 3 YO racing campaigns.

Interestingly enough, 70% of the past ten winners did race in January. What didn't surprise me is that over the past five years, only two eventual winners ran in January; Barbaro who raced on New Year's Day and Smarty Jones who raced at Aqueduct in the Count Fleet. The last two winners did not start working until March.

Like most things in sports, copycat approaches are common. This Turk hopes to see a reversal that would afford the racing world an opportunity to see the three year old contenders race in four preps before the Kentucky Derby.

Happy New Year's to everyone. My horse related New Year Resolutions are (in no particular order):

1. Attend the Santa Anita Derby
2. Attend the Arlington Mile
3. Turn two people into legitimate horse racing fans
4. Improve the quality of my blog
5. Pay much more attention to the Euros
6. Another great Travers trip with the Turk Clan.

Again, Happy New Year.