Sunday, May 31, 2009

Full Blown Belmont Park Graded Stakes Fever

The Turk is starting to salivate. Starting Friday, Race Fans are blessed with no less then 8 graded stakes matches at Belmont Park to hunt for glory with.

Get your red flair pens ready. This is one of racing's great weekends. The Turk would have loved going to Belmont to be a part of this, but Mrs. Turk, Little Turk and I will be venturing to Chicago for the Arlington Millions in July and we hope to catch Mine That Bird in Saratoga later this summer. To all my fellow bloggers and the race fans who write to me, I hope you have a great time and decent weather.

On Friday June 5th

Brooklyn Stakes. (Grade 2)
$200,000; 3 Year Olds and Up
1 1/2 Miles

Hill Prince Stakes. (Grade 3)
$100,000; 3 Year Olds
1 Mile (Turf)

And Saturday June 6th

Belmont Stakes. (Grade 1)
$1,000,000; 3 Year Olds
1 1/2 Miles

Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes. (Grade 1)
$400,000; 3 Year Olds and Up
1 1/4 Miles (Turf)

Just a Game Stakes. Presented by Fly Emirates (Grade 1)
$400,000; 3 Year Olds and Up
1 Mile (Turf)

Acorn Stakes. (Grade 1)
$250,000; 3 Year Olds
1 Mile

Woody Stephens Stakes. (Grade 2)
$250,000; 3 Year Olds
7 Furlongs

True North Stakes. (Grade 2)
$250,000; 3 Year Olds and Up
6 Furlongs

The Japan Derby: Video Analysis of Logi Universe upset of heavily favored Unrivaled

2009 Japan Derby

TOKYO, May 31 (Reuters) - Logi Universe emerged on top in a family battle by stunning hot favourite Unrivaled to take victory in a wet Japan Derby on Sunday.
Logi Universe made amends after slumping to 14th behind winner Unrivaled at last month's Satsuki-sho in the first leg of the Japanese triple crown with a superb race in rain-swept Tokyo.

Unrivaled, like Logi Universe sired by former Derby and Satsuki-sho winner Neo Universe, never threatened and finished a distant 12th to the dismay of a crowd of 93,000.
Ridden by Norihiro Yokoyama, Logi Universe won the 2,400 metre race in two minutes 33.7 seconds, finishing four lengths clear of runner-up Reach the Crown.

Antonio Barows was third after a neck-and-neck fight for second behind Logi Universe.

"I still feel pretty numb," a mud-spattered Yokoyama told reporters after turning the tables on Unrivaled and top jockey Yasunari Iwata in the $3.5 million Derby.
"I thought after what happened in the Satsuki-sho I'd never be in this position. The conditions were bad but I was desperate to win."

It was Yokoyama's first Derby victory in 15 attempts.
"I just tried to keep the horse in a good rhythm and he dug deep to stay in front," said the 41-year-old. "It's a big win for me."

Iwata could barely conceal his shock at runaway favourite Unrivaled's flop.

"I thought we could still come out on top despite the difficult conditions," he said. "But no matter how I tried to push the horse it was hopeless today."

This article was taken from The Gaurdian UK(Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Miles Evans: To query or comment on this story email

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 30, 2009: The Nassau Grade II (Turf) at Woodbine

Race 8 WO: The Nassau Grade II: 1 1/16 miles on Turf for F&M 3 YO and Up.

Horse wagering and investing with Bernie Madoff are the two easiest ways in America to invest $16 dollars and strike a $12.10 return. Ok, Madoff is in jail, and the bet was at a Canadien track, but you get the idea. Handicapping can be like this, but again, it's just as important to look at the post race constructively if you wish to gain expierence and improve.

The Nassau at Woodbine pre race looked like a two horse race, Rutherienne and Callwood Dancer (IRE). The bettors saw it that way too. I saw it that was as well so I went for what I considered an easy, low risk exactor, which I hit. With that in my back pocket, I knew I could place a few exotics and make this race almost a push if I didn't win.

My base handicap had three of the top four finishers slotted exactly, and only Meadow Saffron stood between me and a triactor payout. Even if I would have increased my bets to $24 I would not have included Meadow Saffron, so again the bets you don't place can win you (save you) money.

That is seven races since Callwood Dancer won last, and she ran a great final 1/16. I'm not that worried about her anymore.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Nomination Is In: May 30, 2009; The Nassau Grade II (Turf) at Woodbine

That fine looking mare to the left is the 2008 Canadian Turf Champ Callwood Dancer (IRE). The picture comes her Hall of Fame Trainer Roger Attfield's website.
That award was for 2008, and current form is always the driving force behind horse racing, not past success. Callwood Dancer (IRE) was eased out of her last start and really hasn't been that dominant over a six race span. That said, this is one classy lady who has lots of graded stakes experience, and she's home, but she faces a very stiff test from American invader Rutheriennne.

Woodbine Race 8 Post Time 4:24 ET: The Nassau Grade II; 1 1/16 miles on pure Ontario turf for F&M 3 YO and UP.

I'm going to approach this as a chalk lock and try to build a Triactor and Superfecta off that fact. I'm going to have Callwood Dancer and Rutherienne on every ticket, including an exactor and then just work my handicap. The payouts won't be huge if it goes the way I think it will, but I'm going exotic hunting anyway. I'll bet no more the 10-12 dollars and we'll see what happens.

The quality after the top two is pretty even at n3X/alw levels. Points of Grace seems to be getting some attention but I'm hedging Tell It as It Is abover her.

Not that it matters here, but Go Mine That Bird! Yes, the Turk adores the little gelding.

Turk out!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 25, 2009: The Met Mile

Race 10 BEL: The Met (Mile) Handicap Grade I; 1 Mile on NYS Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

Prerace I had a serious "I dunno" feeling. I did feel strongly about Bribon (FR) and Smooth Air. If not for 3/4 of a length and a gutty final few kicks by Driven by Success I'd be talking about the Superfecta that I nailed. I had Driven for Success finishing a bit further down and that's the difficulty with sprint races as you can throw a blanket sometimes around the middle of the pack and it's as much guess work as it is handicapping.

I thought Riley Tucker ran well as did Smooth Air. Look for both to improve next time out.

The Turk bet $12 bucks and made $16.60. Better then losing, but I better keep going to the day job.

Turk Out!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Nomination Is In: May 25, 2009: The Met Mile

I dunno. Not the most encouraging words you can hear from a bettor you hope has the Rosetta Stone of handicapping for the race you are about to pluck money down on. Today's Met Mile is one of those I dunno type of races for me. With a few notable dropouts, including Mr. Fantasy , it's a field with parity galore and some head scratchers.

When I have a I dunno feeling I try as a handicapper to realize that if I'm this confused, then many others will be too. It's a big field, odds will grow long on some starters and with that some hay can be made if you can construct a handicap that perhaps doesn't identify the exact order of finish, but just likely ranges of finish. Yes, I'm talking about a boxed out 10 cent super day for me.

Race 10 BEL: The Metropolitan Handicap Grade I; 1 Mile on NYS Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

With my handicap set, I'm thinking out a bet strategy. My first decision is for size of bet. With my I dunno feel for this race, I think I will limit myself to no more then three 10 cent boxed supers ($7.20) a three straight $1 Tri's ($3) and a $2 win bet on either Smooth Air or Bribon, whoever has better then 3.5-1 odds.

Limited exposure, but the thrill will be big to pull off a super with this field.

I'd be negligent if I didn't ask everyone to think about the reason for the holiday. As horsepeople, we can all imagine the terrible 1st World War. We can place ourselves in the boots of Major Belmont, weary from war and still based in Paris, having to make the hard decision that led to Man O' War being sold at auction. We can think about the sacrifice of so many Americans in the past 100 years abroad as we enjoy our pasttime that their sacrifice secured for us. Think about our uniformed dead and the loved ones they left behind. The Turk is a proud Gulf War vet and he wishes all of his vet extended family health and prayers as they remember the ones who didn't come home.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 24, 2009: The Connaught Cup Grade III on Turf at WO

The Turk looked at the Connaught Cup at Woodbine as a chance to win some rather easy money. Perhaps that sounds arrogant? It should. Horse betting, unless you just like to give your money away, is about winning more money. If you're not good at it, you should give it up. If you want to get better, then keep working at it. Study your missteps, learn when to not bet, learn when to hedge your bets or when to let it ride straight. You won't win every bet. You might not win every six bets, but unless you like chalk and high risk, low reward bets, when you do strike gold, you'll hit it good.

I love handicapping. I'm not much of a bettor but I love to handicap. As I like to ramble on about, I'm cool with betting no more then $10 bucks or so on just a few races a week, and if I do well, I come out ahead. Am I retiring on that? Nope, but I'm also not laying out a big bank roll either, which Mrs. Turk would have a kitten over.

Which brings me back to the Connaught Cup. I would have liked at least two more starters to fatten the odds a bit, but I believed strongly after handicapping this race that Society's Chairman, Rahy's Attorney and Sterwins would be the top three. It wasn't rocket science, the bettors thought the same thing, voting the three into the top three spots on the tote board. I did hedge myself, a boxed $2 trifector bet that cost $12 dollars, as well as two straight Tri bets that hedged in two different third place finishers.

The payoff on a $2 Tri bet was $89.70. If I was more of a bettor I would have slammed down a $10 spot, but then that box costs $120, and while no matter how much money I bet I believe I will win, I'm just not into that kind of exposure week to week. I'll keep my day job and cash cigar, bourbon and past performance money.

Oh, and before I get nasty comments, I'm not an arrogant person, I'm an arrogant and introverted (non boasting, non animated, non vocally annoying) handicapper. It's part of my process; I have to believe that every bet I'm going to place has a likely chance of winning. I know the reality very well, which keeps me grounded and not destitute, but a little swagger to the game keeps me sharp.

Congratulations to Sterwins and his connections for setting a new course record of 1:38.99. The fractions were blazing and Rahy's Attorney wilted at the end.

Race 7 WO: The Connaught Cup Grade III; 1 1/16 mile on Ontario Turf for 4 YOs and Up.

I added video to the previous post on my post race analysis of The Arlington Classic.

Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: May 24, 2009; The Connaught Cup Grade III on Turf at Woodbine

Woodbine is the Turk's go to place in a jiffy for graded stakes action. Family obligations this holiday weekend prevent me from taking a trip north today, but that won't stop me from looking at this turf course race that features a Turk favorite, Rahy's Attorney, making his return to racing for the first time since last November.

Race 7 (post time 4:02 ET) WO: The Connaught Cup Grade III; 1 1/16 miles on Ontario Turf for 4 YOs and Up.

An interesting field to gage current form with. We have three horses coming off of >180 Day layoffs and three horses on a second trip after a layoff. What I think is the wild card is that some of the long layoff horses are top shelf thoroughbreds and should be good enough and experienced enough to go out and be workman like.

My early bet strategy will be several straight Triactor bets and I'll use my top 5 to build those tickets. I think the top of the finished order will be pretty chalky, so I'll limit myself to 10 bucks, no win or exactors, and we'll hope for a bit of chalk filled in with logical tote board party crashers. I'm giving the top slot to Society's Chairman but Rahy's Attorney is the best horse in this race and could/should win. The Tri tickets will be built around these two.

The latest THOROFAN newsletter is out. Consider joining this group who are providing a voice to the average horse fan.

Have fun. Turk Out!

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 23, 2009: The Arlington Classic $150K Turf

Race 11 AP: The Arlington Classic; 1 1/16 on Firm Turf for 3 YOs

A quick look at the Tote Board Ranking shows I built my handicap around the bettors fourth choice, a sweet spot in terms of value. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and the turf remained firm and the horse did not cooperate, as Orthodox stumbled from the gate, got a bit rank, and was done.

Overall, not a bad handicap, as I predicted the chalk Golden Mexico (IRE) would not win and I had 4 of the top 5 horses which is usually enough for me to matrix bet and win, but No Inflation got in my way.

I was Superfecta hunting and had 4 boxed 10 cent Super's for $2.40 each. I knew with this field it would be a tough bet, but that's what makes it fun when you do win.

Turk Out!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chicago Area Racing: Barn to Wire DOT com

For those out there looking for good Chicago area race track information, racing articles, and links including blogs, check out Chicago Barn to Wire. I'm not sure how long it's been around, but this Turk's been seeing Internet traffic coming in through there and after poking around, I liked it quite a bit.

It's a simple and easy to navigate site which works for me very well. And speaking of newly renovated and easy to navigate sites, check out the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance homepage.

That fantastic picture of the Chicago skyline is by Phil Velasquez copyright Chicago Tribune.

Turk out!

The Nomination Is In: May 23, 2009; The Arlington Classic (Turf) $150,000

The Turk loves Turf races at Arlington Park. To me it feels like summer. This year I vowed to spend more time paying attention to the turf course leading up the the premier event at Arlington, The Arlington Millions. As many of you, that fine looking colt above, Spirit One, shocked me senseless last year. I plan on looking closely each week at Arlington and we'll see if we can't get better picking these turf races. For my first handicap of 2009 at Arlington I chose The Arlington Classic $150,000 stakes today.

Race 11 (6:59 ET Post) Arlington Park; The Arlington Classic; 1 1/16 miles on Turf for 3 YOs.

The track handicapper installed Giant Oak and Golden Mexico (IRE) as the ML favorites. I don't think he did a bad job, but we aren't looking for safe chalk are we? I'm going to go straight Tri and 10 cent superfecta hunting today. It will be challenging because I think the overall field is very good and I had no throwouts. I'm looking at Orthodox and Southern Anthem as two horses that could upset the apple cart. El Crespo may be back on the surface he really enjoys. The forcast is calling for sporatic rain and there will be several other turf races before this, so course condition may play a factor.

Build your handicap, set a betting limit, and go hunt for value. Good stuff indeed.

The Turk is looking at Hollywood Park later today as well, the Grade II Milady Handicap featuring a titanic battle of Zenyatta and Life is Sweet. The money these two draw will be heavy and some good horse in that field will go off at 15-1. That should make any handicapper drool.

Have fun, Turk out!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Races of Interest

If you're like me, these Triple Crown races get me wound up as the end all/be all and sometimes I go into a lull between them. Chicken Soup for this horseplayers soul is a nice selection of Memorial Day weekend races. While I'm a horse fan first, I'm also a handicapper. Holiday weekends when the casual race fan who won Show bet money on Rachel Alexandra the weekend before gets brave and starts plunking down real cash on beatable chalk creates a great betting situation. Cherry pick from this list, enjoy the racing, but go after a score as well.

The neat picture above can be purchased from and was originally published in Life Magazine, 1958.

Turk Out!

May 23

  • Arlington Park: American 1000 Guineas, $200,000, 3yo f, 8f T
  • Arlington Park: Arlington Classic, $150,000, 3yo, 8.5f T
  • Arlington Park: Arlington Matron S. (G3), $150,000, 3&up f&m, 9f
  • Arlington Park: Hanshin Cup S. (G3), $100,000, 3&up, 8f
  • Belmont Park: Sheepshead Bay H. (G2), $150,000, 3&up f&m,, 11f T
  • Churchill Downs: Louisville H. (G3), $100,000, 3&up, 12f T
  • Hollywood Park: Milady H. (G2), $150,000, 3&up f&m, 8.5f
  • Philadelphia Park: My Juliet S., $250,000, 3&up f&m, 6f
  • Woodbine: Lady Angela S., $125,000, 3yo f, 7f


May 24

  • Belmont Park: Vagrancy H. (G2), $150,000, 3&up f&m, 6.5f
  • Hollywood Park: Lazaro S. Barrera Memorial S. (G3), $100,000, 3yo, 7f
  • Woodbine: Connaught Cup S. (G3), $150,000, 4&up, 8.5f T


May 25

  • Belmont Park: Shadwell Metropolitan H. (G1), $600,000, 3&up, 8f
  • Calder Race Course: Memorial Day H. (G3), $100,000, 3&up, 8.5f
  • Churchill Downs: Winning Colors S. (G3), $100,000, 3&up f&m, 6f
  • Golden Gate Fields: Berkeley H. (G3), $150,000, 4&up, 8.5f
  • Hollywood Park: Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile S. (G1), $250,000, 3&up, 8f T
  • Lone Star Park: Lone Star Park H. (G3), $400,000, 3&up, 8.5f
  • Lone Star Park: Dallas Turf Cup H. (G3), $200,000, 3&up, 9f T
  • Lone Star Park: Ouija Board Distaff H. (G3), $200,000, 3&up f&m, 8f T
  • Lone Star Park: Cinemine S., $100,000, 3yo f, 7f
  • Lone Star Park: USA Stakes, $100,000, 3yo, 8.5f T
  • Lone Star Park: Valid Expectations S., $100,000, 3&up f&m, 6f



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lost in the....Vodka

Lost in the largeness of the Preakness luster was the stunning victory by the filly Vodka in Tokyo. Vodka romped to a seven length victory in The Victoria Mile Grade I. The defending Japanese Horse of the Year won with Yutaka Take up amongst a field of 18. Vodka powered her way to the mile win 1:32.40.

Like many others, I bet and lost twice with Vodka at Nad Al Sheba, but I'm going to have to give her a mulligan for her efforts in the desert. Her next trip is the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen Mile against colts in Tokyo on June 7.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Raceday May 16, 2009: The Preakness Stakes Grade I at Pimlico

Race 12 Pimlico: The Preakness Stakes Grade I; 1 3/16 Miles on MD Dirt for 3 YOs.

As the horses were loading into the gate, the SAT TV signal at Papa Turk's house disappeared. The 1930's descended upon us. Luckily, an upsurge in horse racing popularity put the race back on the local AM sports radio station for the first time in years, and I had the radio on and the station tuned in just as the gate broke open. Any disappointment I had quickly went away, as listening to the race call on the feed from the Horse Racing Radio Network was very exciting. Not once until the final furlong was the name Mine That Bird spoken on the radio waves, and Musket Man breaking free and chasing was something that was easy to visualize. I enjoyed listening to the Preakness on the radio very much and it created quite a memorable moment for all the Turk clan gathered together. It was a moment right out of Transistor Times as our friend at Equispace would say.

I think I had a pretty good handicap. I was disappointed to see Friesen Fire not show up again, but I was not surprised by the belly flop of Pioneerof the Nile. I thought Calvin Borel did the only thing he could with Rachel Alexandra, which was take her fast out the gate and try to be near the rail and near the front by the first turn. It was an athletic but tiring move and two more hops to the wire and I think Mine That Bird is shocking the race world again. Mike Smith had to do it the hard way, and that little gelding proved beyond any doubt that he has speed and guts. I'm already getting excited about The Travers, we could see a real showdown of horses coming off the mend and horses from this Triple Crown run.

I worked my handicap. It was a methodical bet I built off of what I laid out as the likely order of finish. I hedged Friesen Fire dropping and that paid off. I placed a premium on current form, and that allowed me to not seriously consider Big Drama. The Belmont is three weeks away and that is already setting up to be an exciting showdown. You have to wonder how many will enter, as 1 1/2 miles is a taxing race and any horseman takes pause about the toll his horse will pay just for competing in that race. For more up to the minute analysis and discussion of the Belmont Stakes, read the excellent blogs at the official website as well as take a look at the revamped and very professional looking Throughbred Bloggers Alliance homepage. Don't forget to take advantage of the TBA coupon for cheap PPs at the Daily Race Form. You'll find the coupon code at our home page in the banner on the left.

And while I'm providing you the video of the race, I must thank the Horse Racing Radio Network carried locally on WGR-550 AM Buffalo for saving my sanity yesterday by not denying me real time access to the event.

The Nomination Is In: The Preakness Stakes Grade I at Pimlico Racetrack

The Turk enjoys his work. For two weeks now I've been studying the past performances and video on today's contenders. It's a ritual I perform on almost all graded stakes races. The Turk likes to get a bit preachy about consistancy as a handicapper and I'm not wavering from that position. I saw lots of pictures after the Derby of people with the eight horse on win tickets. Great, enjoy your money, I wish I had one, but I didn't. Over the long haul, handicapping horses based on what the past performances reveal, what the morning work reveals, and what your eyes tell you when looking at past trips will bring you results. You have to have thick skin as a handicapper who publishes his picks as you don't get the luxury of recanting after the last hoof crosses the line. These Triple Crown races are hard races to predict, as the quality of the horses is top shelf and for the most part only intangibles seperate the best from the rest. If they weren't so darn complelling I'd only watch, but I'm OK with screwing up the winning results for days like today!

I do like my work. I can't tell you right now where the 3 YO Class of 2009 ranks compared to previous years. If I had to say now, I'd say mediocre. It's not a critism of the horses, more a reaction to so many good horses who fell off the Derby trail and the parity that was left behind. But then again, Mine That Bird pumped real interest into the proceedings and Rachel Alexandra has a chance today to blow the roof off of public interest. These are good things for horse racing, and horse racing can use some new fans.

Race 12 Pimlico: The Preakness Stakes Grade I; 1 3/16 miles on Maryland dirt for 3 YOs.

I'm working up my bet strategy right now, but I have a pool of horses, 8 out of the 13 starters, that I think could be in the top four. I'll narrow it down a bit and then start to fashion some logical exacta and trifecta bets. I like Musket Man and placed him in my top spot, but the reality is I might have put four different horses in the Win spot over the past two days. I'm going to listen to the handicapping rules I've learned the old fashioned way and work my handicap.

The Little Turk is feelin' General Quarters and Mrs. Turk digs Rachel Alexandra. This handicapper doesn't mind spending long hours only to lose to people who pick a number or name, I'm just glad to get to spend time around the animals I love.

Turk out!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Raceday May 9, 2009: The Peter Pan Stakes and Mervyn Leroy Handicap

Race 9 BEL: The Peter Pan Stakes Grade II; 1 1/16 miles on NYS Dirt for 3 YOs

I did some quick math before the race and didn't think the exatca bet was worth chasing, so no money was wagered. One of the things I do well as a horseplayer is knowing when a bet just isn't worth wagering. The result of this race were pretty much what the betting public thought it would be; The chalk took Win money and the second most wagered horse Placed. The exacta paid $17.00, but I would have spent at least $10 to work in some longer odd combinations, so my non-bet was a good bet.

Charitable Man ran a very professional race as the video shows. Of all the starters, Charitable Man showed the most promise for a start in the Belmont Stakes.

Race 8 HOL: The Mervyn Leroy Handicap Grade II; 1 1/16 miles on fake dirt for 3 YO and up.

You can be right and wrong in the same handicap. I felt strongly that Rail Trip would fall short. I did not like the way he faded in the Santana Mile and I was expecting a similar trip. It happened. I expected Dakota Phone to stay near Rail Trip but not have the gumption to pass him. It happened. I expected Aggie Engineer and Ball Four to set a blistering pace and then Ball Four showing age to drop to the back and Aggie Engineer to hold off any challengers. It happened, sorta.

I was curious what Trainer Biancone was thinking with Ball Four. Regardless of what you think of his past transgressions, the man prepared Ball Four well and nailed a nice Grade II win in the process. Aggie Engineer? He's only four, he'll have time to try again.

I placed $4 only in bets, following my handicap exactly. I had a 6-4-1 Tri and a 6-4 Exacta. They were low priced, reasoned and wrong. Handicapping can be like that.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Nomination is In: May 9, 2009; The Mervyn Leroy Handicap Grade II at Hollywood Park

I'm not a big fan of six horse fields. The problem is sometimes horses that I really like race in small fields. Now I could just watch and not bet. That was my preconception before getting out the PPs for this race. I suspected that Dakota Phone would give Rail Trip another hard run and could win, especially with the extra distance and the 4 YOs propensity to close hard, but I thought Rail Trip, the heavy duty chalk, would win. Zzzzzzzzzz. Then I got interested. Aggie Engineer, a horse off my radar, a 4 YO with six career starts, no graded stakes, and the owner of a 6f bullet on May 1st and a 100 BSF at 1 Mile in early April caught my eye. To the sharp eyed or those with a magnifying lens, those two horses dueling at the wire are Rail Trip and a nose back Dakota Phone.

Race 8 HOL: The Mervyn Leroy Handicap Grade II; 1 1/16 mile on fake dirt for 3 YO and Up.

I'm still not sold on the merits of betting this race. I'll be watching the tote closely and the key for me will be the odds that Aggie Engineer attracts and how much money chases Ball Four and Dakota Phone as well. Ball Four laid a clunker in early January and has been freshened since then. The 8 YO has the experience to come off the bench and be sharp, but I question his legs. I am curious what Trainer Biancone might coax from this proud animal, I hope its all good. The fine looking Jockey/Horse combo is A. Solis up on 2008 Mervyn Leroy Handicap winner Surf Cat.Oh yeah, A. Solis is up on Aggie Engineer.

The Nomination Is In: May 9, 2009: The Peter Pan Grade II at Belmont

The fine looking colt to the left is none other than the enigma of 2008, the Big Brown killer lying in wait at Belmont, 2008 Peter Pan Champion Casino Drive. As reported first at fellow Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance site Striding Thoroughbreds in Japan, Casino Drive recently suffered a severe bowed tendon. We wish Casino Drive a speedy recovery. Photo copyrighted to Vanessa Ng. For more insightful news, commentary and photography from the Japanese racing scene visit Striding Thoroughbreds or Keiba Kate's Racing in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Race 9 BEL: The Peter Pan Grade II; 1 1/8 on NYS Dirt for 3 YOs.

This is an interesting race, and one as a bettor I would walk away from. It's a seven horse field and if it gets any smaller I will surely look somewhere else in NY to give my money, like Albany State Government. I see very little difference in quality from top to bottom, and the morning lines reflect that with the lowest horse, Stately Character at 15-1 (Note: I don't like to look at Morning Lines before I handicap, but I was curious after I handicapped what others thought of this field).

I like Imperial Council to be in the Top Three. Charitable Man and Hello Broadway could turn this into a snoozer and the three likely suspects could fill out the ticket. That's not going to pay much so I'm looking contrarian and I'm going to fashion some tickets with Charitable Man or Hello Broadway faltering and then inserting one of the longer odd horses into the three spot. I like Scorewithcater especially if >8-1.

The Turk will be back later this afternoon to look at the Mervin Leroy at Hollywood which goes off at 7:30 ET. Rail Trip goes for his 6th straight win.

The Preakness is one week away. As a horse fan, these weeks around the Triple Crown are the most exciting of the year. As a handicapper, I'm a bit daunted by the task of 'capping the field that is shaping up for next week, especially with Borel and the Filly just sending everyone into a tizzy.

And the Belmont Stakes , the test of Champions, isn't that far off as well. I suggest anyone trying to keep up with news and opinions on the race read the blogs at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance as well as the blogs at the Belmont Stakes website. Teresa Genaro, Lisa Grimm, Andy Serling and Jenny Kellner lend their intelligence, knowledge and experiences with the Belmont to get this Turk excited about going already.

Turk out!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 2, 2009: The 135th Kentucky Derby Grade I

The ol' Turk is a horse fan first and a bettor second. The bettor in me is disappointed because of the work I put into preparing for this race, months and months of work, and I could stare at the PPs for the next 10 years and I'd never figure Mine That Bird for anything other then middle to back of the pack. I have handicapped Mine That Bird twice before yesterday: The Breeder's Cup Juvenile and the Sunland Derby, where I wanted to see Kelly Leak run. I was intrigued at the Breeder's Cup only because the horse spent so much time at Woodbine, the nearest major track to the Turk, and that Dick Mandella was his trainer, albeit for a cup of coffee. I still don't see it, but that's why they run on dirt and not paper.

Mine That Bird won by 6 3/4 lengths, a greater margin of victory then mighty Barbaro. For more then 2 furlongs out Mine That Bird drove to the finish. He didn't win in a DQ, he didn't win by a nose, he won in decimating fashion. Was there a rail bias? Sure, but so what. Did pace make the race? Who cares, Mine That Bird made the race.

Yesterday, I placed Calvin Borel's picture on my blog. I choose Calvin because his ride on Street Sense was one of the most exciting trips I have ever seen. How he not only duplicated, but in many ways exceeded that effort, is amazing to me. It was hard not to love the emotion that spilled out of King Carl and Calvin two years ago, but again, a cowboy trainer, a jock who seemingly wasn't getting premier mounts, and owners that are everyday folks ruled the day.

The final two furlongs ran off at :25.17 and the final 3 furlongs clipped away at :40.57. The pace at the front once Join the Dance burned out tightened, as I think the big riders had sized up the competition and were prepared for a last few hops to the wire duel, which it was for Place. Mine That Bird had other ideas and thrilled the racing world in the process.

Race 11 CD: The Kentucky Derby Grade I: 1 1/4 miles of sloppy Ky dirt for 3 YOs.

In color I tried to show that my handicap had three zones; green, yellow and red. Mine That Bird blew up every ticket that I had fashioned, which will bring my inflated ROI back down to reality, which I knew had to happen eventually. All in all, my handicap wasn't bad, but this isn't horseshoes, it's horse racing. No crying over the PP. As I told someone today, I'd rather lose a bet and be thrilled by a horse that people can be excited by.

It's hard to believe the Preakness is 13 days away. The madness that must be descending on Team Mine That Bird must be overwhelming. Who goes from here, who joins this group, what type of betting situation sets up around a horse that before yesterday had a hard time getting a 80 BSF is what makes this game exciting. The race world gets a WHOLE lot more buzz by Mine That Bird winning then just about any other horse except General Quarters winning yesterday. Good Stuff. I am very happy for Trainer Woolley. He's obviously a proud man who does things his way. The Turk has an affinity for trainers like him, a man who channels Frank Whitely Jr. without even trying. I'm very happy as well for the owners who had a May foal and had so much early sucess with him as a two year old, and didn't quit on the horse. I'm unhappy that we don't have a national works clocking standard and horses like Mine That Bird are allowed to sit in NM, most likely working much faster then the midling numbers on the PP show. The team knew what they had. I thought the Peppers Pride story was isolated, but New Mexico has arrived.

The Little Turk made his first communion yesterday. He stuck with Musket Man all day long as was rewarded with a $12 Show bet.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Nomination Is In: May 2, 2009: The 135th Kentucky Derby Grade I

There comes a time when you are in school that you just can't study anymore for a big test. I use to be impressed by the kids who didn't cram the night before; they worked hard all semester, knew the information, and got a good night of relaxing sleep.

After handicapping every major prep race on these 3 YOs since last October, I'm at a point where I'm past the need to study and I just have to finish the test, and a tough test it is. If this was the Backwater Derby, as a handicapper, I'd walk away. You have a 20 horse field running a distance not a single one of them has ever tried to run. It's the Kentucky Derby though, the biggest stage of the year for the sport I love, and while my bettors mind is telling me to walk away, hey it's the Derby. Let's have some fun, pick some horses, and see how we do. To fans of passion and good guys finishing first, that horse and jock pictured of course is the winner of the 133rd Kentucky Derby, Street Sense, with Mr. Calvin Bo-Rail up.

Race 11 Churchill Downs: The Kentucky Derby Grade I: 1 1/4 miles on dirt for 3 YOs.

This one is a race you must watch the weather and the tote board on. There are only two wet dirt winners in this race, Friesen Fire and Desert Party. I'm giving the edge to the LA Derby winner, Friesen Fire. As much as I like Friesen Fire, the betting angle has to be about fashioning tickets out of your handicap and hoping for the best. I Want Revenge and Pioneerof The Nile will get some tickets with me on top, and then I have a 4 horse group (15, 12,7 and 19) that I will use to make up exactas and even a few stright Trifectas, and 10 cent Supers. I'm going keep doing the same things that have made me sucessful over the past few months; Work my handicap, establish my bet limit before I bet, fashion my tickets sans emotion, and pray.

Speaking of praying, Little Turk makes his First Communion today. The Turk is sacrificing his Derby Day rituals for the love of my favorite little handicapper. Little Turk likes two horses, I Want Revenge and Musket Man. . Mrs. Turk took longer then her usual 20 seconds to pick a horse, and she has chosen Hold Me Back.