Friday, July 31, 2009

The Nomination Is In: July 31, 2009; The High Rock Spring Stakes at Saratoga

The Adam Coglianese photo is of Stormin Normandy, winner of the 2008 High Rock Spring Stakes at Saratoga.

Today's edition contains a couple of long time Turk favorites, Naughty New Yorker and Stud Muffin (Two names the Turk has tried to emulate to no avail.) While I think Naughty New Yorker is on the tail end of a 47 race career, Stud Muffin at 5 YO is still a threat and will figure in the tickets today.

SAR Race 7 Post Time 5:48 ET; The High Rock Spring Stakes $86,000; 1 1/8 miles on NYS Dirt raced by 3 YO and Up NYS breds.

I like Trainer Maker's Future Prospect. the 5 Yo gelded son of Freud is coming of back to back 100+ BSF races at BEL at 1 mile and 1 1/16. With Leparoux up today , he's 7 of his last 16 starts and 9 of 12 in the money on fast dirt.

I'm placing a claimer, South Fourth Street, in my top four. Winner of his last outing, an N2X on July 17th, I like the quick return to the track for him. He's six of his last 15 starts and has 6 wins in 19 starts on fast dirt. he seems to favor an off track, but I'm looking for a value horse to place in my top three and top four and Trainer Contessa clips along with wins 24% of the time after a claim.

Stud Muffin will be in the top four, maybe even the win spot. My placement is more of an acknowledgement from me I won't win this without some time of wheel, key or box.

Tommassi is coming off a place at 1 1/8 on dirt and is 6 of 23 on fast dirt. Tr. Bond/jock Maragh win at a 32% clip.

The rest of the field is legitimate and no real sure toss candidates in the bunch. I'll keep to just a few bets and we'll see what happens.

The Turk visited Saratoga on opening day. It was a real treat for me to meet some of my horse racing blogging heroes, real talented and pioneering horse racing blogger folks. While our sport may be in a decline, you could not tell from the crowd at the SPA. I shuffled down to the paddock before race three and got a good look at the horses I handicapped for Race 3, the James Marvin Stakes.

That's my chalk, Finallymadeit, who lead most of the race only to fade badly the last few hops. Congrats to Gold Trippi, who the Turk tossed of course. As there were two scratches, I declined to bet and just enjoyed.

Race 3 SAR July 29, 2009: The James Marvin Stakes: 7F on Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

Again I find myself scratching my head over Riley Tucker. It was an exciting race and it was nice to just enjoy it as a fan.

There is some great writing to be found at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance home page. Not only will you find Alliance Blogs, but a feed and a link selection to the best voices in horse racing all over the world.

Enjoy this weekend's races. Mine That Bird returns to action, along with Summer Bird and Rachel Alexandra. All good stuff. Turk out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Nomination Is In: July 29, 2009; The James Marvin $80,000; 7f on dirt on Opening Day at Saratoga

The image to the left is 102 years old, the Sartaoga Race Track. One of the enduring and endearing things to the Turk about horse racing is the tradition, the grandeur, and the pure pleasure of being at a place like Saratoga.

In 1986, this Turk found himself living about 5 blocks away from the racetrack on a street called Jumel Place. I had been indoctrinated into the sport of horse racing by people like my mother and father, and most importantly, my Aunt Rose. As I found myself living near the track, and working odd hours, I found myself venturing to the track regularly. At first it was just to be with my Skiddy-Kiddy, but then it took hold. The Sleeper Awakened. Like a drug in got inside me and its never let go. I love Saratoga Race Track for many reasons but none more importantly then the symbol of what horse racing was and what horse racing can be again. I digress.

The Turk looked at today's card and was drawn to the kind of horses and the the type of race he enjoys: 3 YO and up racing on dirt around one turn. Yeah! The icing on the top is some of the talent I get to see in this one.

July 29th, 2009 Race 3: The James Marvin Stakes $80,000; 7 furlongs on dirt for 3 YO and Up.

I went back and forth, albeit briefly, as to which horse to put on top. I like the current form of Riley Tucker and I love his string of 100+ BSF. i don't like the fact he doesn't seem to want to win as much as he likes finishing back. The 4 YO son of Harlan's Holiday and the Baffert Trainee is more then capable of winning, but capable and doing is the Grand Canyon of all sports.

Finallymadeit is a 15-1 ML and yes I'm sticking him on top. First time trainer isn't something on keen on, and Trainer Ritvo only hits 9% of these, but I like the work and the class this horse has been keeping, as well as the drop in distance today. He could wire this one.

The Turk's more about the Super these days then anything else. 10 Cent Supers are in fashion here as well. Pyro, glorious Pyro, has the look of a rock star and now he sports the Royal Blue of Godolphin. It's his first race since the Breeder's Cup (cough) Dirt Mile. While he's training well, I'll drop him in the top four for sheer respect of his abilities and his class level compared to his fellow hoof beaters. I'm looking for Bold Start with R. Albarado up to come late and find a place on the ticket. For alternatives, Cassoulet or Lord Snowdon at long odds could hit the 4 spot.

It's a nice field of horses on opening day at the Spa.

One person who won't be there this year is my cousin, The Murph. I was in the Murph's wedding, as he is married to my beautiful and favorite cousin Marge, and it was my true pleasure to talk horses with that man every year at our family reunions. The Murph got sick in the middle of the meet last year and passed away before the Breeder's Cup. Life can be sudden, swift and merciless. It was a tragic loss and I honor him today with my appearance on opening day. Rest in Peace Murph.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Nomination Is In: July 25, 2009; The Wonder Where Stakes at WO; 1 1/4 Miles on Turf for 3 YO Fillies

With Chantal Sutherland Up, Northern Kraze (pictured left) won $17.20 in taking the final leg of the 2008 Canadian Triple Tiara Series, The Wonder Where Stakes.

Today's edition of the Wonder Where features Tasty Temptation and Miss Blakely, two strong runners from the Woodbine Oaks and the coming back after her effort in the Queen's Plate.

Race 8 WO post time 4:33 ET: The Wonder Where Stakes $250,000; 1 1/4 Miles on Turf for 3 YO fillies foaled in Canada.

The Woodbine track handicapper did a darn fine job in the Turk's mind of setting the morning line. With the only two 90+ BSF in the race, Tasty Temptation returns with Husbands up to take on the girls in a field without Milwaukee Appeal. At 5-2, the morning line cannot be read as a mandate, but I believe the bettors will push her down to even money, and there is lots to like and lots to take pause with as well. Blinkers are off today, the lifetime win rate is only 1 out of 9 starts and her lifetime earnings on turf are $400 bucks. That said, depending on where her head is and her current form, she has the talent to sit slightly off the pace and make a move semi late. The talent is there and let the bettors run her down, as that presents opportunities.

Miss Blakely is coming back after a layoff since the Woodbine Oaks in early June. Her three turf wins in five starts is 2 more then the rest of the field combined, and she's 4 of 5 starts in the money on grass. Three straight 80+ BSFs point to consistency for the daughter of Smart Strike, and the horse has been training well at Monmouth on the turf. More then enough talent to be in the top three.

Forest Uproar looks to be the early pace setter in the race. Her last effort was an equal 1 1/14 where she struck the lead a bit early and settled for second in an N1X in late June. The J/T combo clips away at a 25% win rate. Looks to me to be a feast (top 4) or famine (out of the money) choice and I'm thinking feast.

Rounding out my superfecta, I have two horses I'll consider more on as we approach post time. Dance for Us from the 9 spot and Retraceable both returning from the Bison City at WO in late June. Dance for Us, with Sutherland up won that race by another run here, I Want Revenge sibling Flashy Got Even. Flashy Got Even is still sporting a Maiden after 10 starts.

There seems to be a stratification layer between the horses which I tried to highlight in my grades. There are no 10 super's so pick your tickets wisely and god luck.

Turk Out!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Nomination Is In: July 22, 2009; The Oceanside Stakes $100,000 at Del Mar; 1 Mile on Turf

There is a cure for the summer time blues: Del Mar returns tomorrow followed by Saratoga a week from now. The Turk's been in a lull and choose to take a handicappers holiday, a fortnight of races that he never took the red flair pen to. I handicapped and blogged over 100 races since the new year began and it was time to shutdown for a brief respite. I'm told that too much of anything is a bad thing. I think I'd agree unless the anything included bourbon, cigars and possibly a few other vices that I find myself preoccupied with. I digress.

The Del Mar meet opens and the biggest purse of the day today belongs to The Oceanside Stakes, a $100,000 affair contested on turf by 3 YO's who have yet to win a stakes race worth more than $50,000.

It was hard to take a stand with this collection of runners. One upside is that the track handicapper's chalk is installed at 5-2 (Meteore)and that a few live and longs will leave the gate at >6-1. This won't be a walk in the park bet, but we are on the hunt to turn a little pot of money into a bigger pot of money and the uncertainty presents an opportunity for reward.

All that said and I'm going to look for Azul Leon to take the wire. The O'Neill trainee with G.Gomez up has been training really well and is on his second start off a long layoff, something O'Neill hits 20% of the time. It's also his first Turf, something O'Neill isn't so hot with, converting 12% of the time. I like his position, I like his first 4f speed to take him into a good position. If I'm going for win bets, I'll back him if he's greater then 6-1. I generally don't hunt for win bets and I'm better at slotting out the horses in packs and building exotic bets. I think Azul Leon has the potential to be in the top 4.

Meteore, trained by Dick Mandela, is coming off back to back wins on the Turf. The son of Pulpit has slow works and a BSF best 84. I don't really know what to do with him, but most likely I'm dropping him in a few tickets into 4th or also ran.

An intriguing horse is Afleet Eagle, a gelding trained by V. Cerin with T. Baze up. Two back to back 90 plus BSF and then steady and serious work and 4,5 and 6 furlongs raises my interest. if you want to shy away, Cerin's first turf stat is an ugly 5%.

Rendezvous fills out my initial four horse ticket. The Hollendorfer trainee has been training sharply since 14 June, including a sharp 6f work at Del Mar.

For all the Gary Stevens fans out there, Gary is saddling Lessons in Deceit. The horse has trained alone for weeks now and appears to have a closers style. I don't think much of the horse tomorrow, but I'm a fan of Gary and we wish him well.

For an 11 horse race, I spent significant time and didn't feel that compelled to back any of the field. I'm going to handicap Race 7 as well, an N1X at 1 mile on the fake dirt, and unless I wake up and take a stronger view on this field, I may have to follow my own bettors rules and pass. I'm going to sleep on if Backbackbackgone, the real speed in this race, can wire it at this distance.

Turk out!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rest in Peace Lawyer Ron

Terrible news came to the Turk clan while we still enjoy the high of a great day at Arlington Race Track. Lawyer Ron, Champion Older Male of 2007, passed away on July 10th at Stonewall Farm Stallions from complications following colic surgery.

The 6 YO saw the birth of his first foals earlier this year.

His Woodward and Whitney wins in 2007 were captivating and the talk of the meet.

Rest in Peace Lawyer Ron.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Arlington Millions Preview Day; July 11, 2009

The Turk clan has descended on Arlington race Track after shuffling off from Buffalo. It's a beautiful day here and the turf is listed as firm and the fake dirt is listed as, well, fake dirt.

12 races are ahead of us. The experience so far has been fantastic. I purchased a 7 seat reserved box for $70.00. General Admission was $6.00 for everyone over 17. The track is staffed and asking for help was simple. The online ticket buying and printing was fantastic, which compares well to some other tracks that are still stuck in pre internet days.

Well played so far Arlington, well played.

Turk Out!

Gone Fishin': Off to Arlington for Millions Preview Day

The Turk Clan is off today, flying from Buffalo to Chicago for the Arlington Millions Preview Day. Instead of blogging about the races, I'm going to actually just enjoy the races today as a fan, sans laptop. My post tonight will be about Arlington itself , from the online ticket purchasing and website usefulness to how the entire race day experience worked for me.

It's a great weekend for horse racing. Enjoy. Turk out!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day July 4, 2009: The Salvator Mile at Monmouth

There were a bountiful of good races yesterday, a little bit for everyone and suitable for any one's particular taste. There was also hotdogs, grilled vegetables, and assorted other distractions to limit my handicapping to just a few races. The race I keyed on with my time limitations was the Salvator Mile at Monmouth. I thought it was a race ripe for an exotic payout, and there is nothing more American then hitting the easy score when it presents itself. That good looking colt in the Vanessa Ng photo is the winner of the 2009 Salvator Mile, Coal Play.

Race 9 Mth: The Salvator Mile Grade III; 1 Mile on Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

In my pre-race handicap I identified a dividing line in talent that I thought separated the top four from the rest of the field. The line turned out to be a head, as Two Step Salsa's head beating Kiss the Kid, whose neck beat The Roundhouse, kept my simple but effective handicap viable.

Coal Play struck to the front by the first call point of the race and never surrendered the lead. Smooth Air, my expected winner, drifted very wide in the stretch but had enough left to finish strong.

I went with one bet: I boxed a $1 Superfecta Bet on my base handicap. I think my restraint was partially because of the limited time I had to think about betting. It's something I should do more often, place a decisive bet and move along. My $24 investment returned $227.90. To anyone who'll say all I did was box the top four of the tote board my answer is no: I handicapped the race. That's what I do. My analysis placed those four at the top of my handicap hours before the tote board placed them there. My quick math told me the superfecta was worth somewhere between 180 and 250 dollars. If that's chalk chasing, I'll do it everyday!

Have Fun. There are some good races today and I may try one on for size later. Turk Out!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Nomination Is In: July 4, 2009: The Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park

United Nations Day at Monmouth as our country celebrates Independence Day. The fine looking animal to the left in the Vanessa Ng photo is the 2008 winner of the Salvator Mile, Notional, with J. Bravo up.

I haven't handicapped Monmouth much since October 2007 and the Breeder's Cup. I was enjoying a phenomenal handicapping day when the emotional high came tumbling down with the breakdown and death of George Washington following the Breeder's Cup Classic. On as patriotic a day as we celebrate every year, I'd like to take just a moment and remember the horse named after the father of our country. It's important to me to remember that this game we play sometimes ends tragically and just as I honor the human dead, I hope all horseplayers retain enough compassion to remember our dead runners.

It's suppose to be a good weather day at Monmouth. For anyone concerned about track condition and current weather, you'll find the Monmouth Park website very useful.

Race 9 Mth Post Time 4:50 ET: The Salvator Mile GIII; 1 Mile on Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

I'm backing Smooth Air to win right now and if that changes as the day goes on I'll update. I don't generally like first time with a new trainer horses, something Trainer Brown has done 59 times and won 17% of. It's Smooth Air's first time at Mth as well. He is 9 of 10 in the money on fast dirt, 2 of 2 in the money at the distance and 13 of 15 lifetime starts in the money. The Grade II winner gave Bribon all he could handle at the Met Mile on Memorial Day. He may be the post time chalk, so if he doesn't look good in the paddock or post parade I may jump off of him quickly and look for win bets where there is more value.

Two Step Salsa, campaigning under the royal blue silks of Godolphin, is a Grade II winner and is making his 2nd North American start since wintering in Dubai and doing very well there to boot. G. "home is where the heart is" Gomez leaves his California home and is up today. Trainer of record bin Suroor has good stats on 2nd off 45-180, winning 37% of the time and 20% of Graded Stakes. 7 out of 11 of Two Step Salsa's lifetime starts are on turf or synth.

Solar Flare interests me greatly. His current form indicates he may be running as good as he was in June 2008 before he had a late season swoon. Trainer Jones has super stats so I won't run down the list, but 26% in 31-60 day layoffs and 33% Graded Stakes pop out. Solar Flare won at Monmouth in late May. Lots to like and will force me to either box my exotics or place him at the top on multiple tickets.

Trainer Zito and last year's winning jock Bravo are here with Coal Play, a head scratcher of a runner. 4 of 4 in the money at Monmouth, 2 of 3 at this distance and coming off a 105 BSF performance at BEL at this distance on June 10th. Coal Play gave Big Brown all he could handle in last year's Haskel. The son of Mineshaft could win, but is talented enough to be in the top four. Zito's WON LAST START stat is 33% on 100 races.

Happy 4th of July. The Turk will be celebrating with the Turk Clan on Poppa Turk's deck, a few short steps from the sat TV feed of the races. For the record, Mrs. Turk likes The Roundhouse here, a good win bet at 6-1 for the talented but erratic Pletcher trainee and Little Turk is backing Solar Flare.

10 Cent supers are in fashion here. I'll be exotic hunting.

Rest in Peace Gorgeous George Washington.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day July 1, 2009; The Dominion Day Handicap G III at WO

The one that got away!

When you take a strong stand on one horse and you key your handicap with that horse finishing in a particular spot, its inevitable that the horse will occasionally let you down. Sometimes its a bad trip. Sometimes he just didn't feel like running. I'm trying to follow my own advice and let it go. It's not easy when you pick horse 2, 3 and 4 in exact order and your Win horse falters to fifth. Spilled milk, boo-hoo. The Turk will have none of that. That fine looking horse in the Cindy Pierson Dulay photo is Marchfield, the winner of The Dominion Day Handicap as he crosses the line winning the Autumn GII at WO last year.

Race 8 WO: The Dominion Day Handicap Grade III; 1 1/4 miles on fake dirt for 3 YO and up.

A couple of things I take from this: I was correct in taking a strong stand against Vacation. I'm not sure why the track handicapper set his Morning Line so high and I'm not sure why the bettors picked him over the fine local talent. His post time odds were ridiculous and made no sense.

Ice Bear was poised and in a good spot to fire to the front but just didn't go for Ms. Sutherland.

Sometimes you can have a pretty good handicap and still walk away empty handed. In order to have cashed a Super I would have had to included Cool Gator in my box. That wasn't going to happen. I should have and could have hit the Trifecta, but that would have required a four horse box and those are the kind of pricy bets I try to avoid, especially when the four I would have boxed were so well representing the top of the tote board. Let it go.

The Appleton Turk, bless her heart, has been infected with the horse betting bug. She took a strong stand with Michael's Bad Boy. She lost sure, but the horse was the bettor's 4th choice and her $10 win bet would have returned $70. She's given up lottery tickets in search of horse racing glory. For those about to rock, we salute you!

The Turk is already at work on two races at Monmouth for the 4th of July. I'm leaning towards Smooth Air in the Salvator Mile and I have no stong opinion yet, but Bancock at attractive odds might be my choice for the United Nations on the turf to win.

There is some great horse talk to be found at the the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance home page. Check out Rob at Amateur Capper and Geno at Equispace and you'll find two heavy hitters in the horse blogging world.

Turk Out!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dominion Day Handicap Changes and Important News for all Bourbon Lovers

The Turk is still looking at the Dominion Day Handicap as a place to make money mid work week.

Woodbine's website lists the following changes for today's race 8 POST TIME is 4:29 ET.

These changes added at 7/1/2009 11:44:44 AM Eastern Time




Tiger Bud being scratched doesn't change the handicap one iota. It does make the field a bit smaller, but we'll live. Ice Bear is still my chalk but watch the tote and work your handicap appropriately.

The Appleton Turk is feelin' Michael's Bad Boy. He was a ML 8-1 and I don't think it's a bad $2 win bet.

The following press release came to me from my friends at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

For Immediate Release – July 1, 2009


FRANKFORT, Ky. – Several of Kentucky’s signature bourbon distilleries will be open on Saturday, July 4th so you can celebrate the birth of our nation with America’s official native spirit.

“The rich tradition of Kentucky bourbon is intertwined with our nation’s storied past,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “It’s fueled the economy of Kentucky and played a vital role in the culture, heritage and history of America.”

In fact, George Washington had the largest whiskey distillery in the 18th century, Gregory said.

Visitors can learn more about Kentucky bourbon along the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail®. Several of the Trail’s eight legendary distilleries are open during this holiday weekend. All hours are Eastern Standard Time:

Buffalo Trace, Frankfort – open Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Sunday.

Four Roses, Lawrenceburg – open Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., last tour at 3:00 p.m., closed Sunday.

Heaven Hill, Bardstown – open Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.

Jim Beam, Clermont – open Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Maker’s Mark, Loretto – open Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday tours 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Tom Moore, Bardstown – Closed for tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg – Tours Friday at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Gift shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Woodford Reserve, Versailles – Tours Friday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Closed Saturday. Tours on Sunday at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Visit for more information on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Good stuff. Turk Out.