Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day September 26th, 2009: The Kentucky Classic Cup Grade II at Turfway Park

"...because the house always wins.

Play long enough, the house takes you.

Unless, when that perfect hand comes,
you bet big. Then you take the house."

Daniel Ocean, noted gambler.

The Turk doesn't gloat. The Turk is a horseplayer who knows better then to do anything except cash the tickets quietly and hope to cash another. No promises in this game. The Turk had several people today ask me why I picked the Kentucky Classic Cup to handicap and not some of the more high profile races at Laurel or Belmont. Easy question, because I thought I could win this one.

Turfway Park Race 13: The Kentucky Classic Cup Grade II; 1 1/8 miles on fake dirt for 3 YO and Up.

As I said pre-race, there was a stratification between the top 6 and the bottom 3. They could run this race 10 times and I don't think that bottom 3 changes order. It's that kind of conviction that sets up one of my favorite angles "The large field with one heavy chalk and some obvious dogs" angle. Doesn't exactly roll off the tounge but it describes it perfectly, even if it didn't work as I expected.

It was clear to me that the bettors would fawn over Hold Me Back and why not. As a bettor I use the heavy chalk to help me fill one spot in an exotic ticket even though I understand it will reduce the payout. I pointed out that Hold Me Back was a tepid chalk in my book so I boxed him in both the Tri and the Super's. My base handicap was pretty darn accurate with the big difference being the flip flop of Hold Me Back and essentially Furthest Land. The Turk slotted the 2nd place, 3rd place, 5th,
7th, 8th and 9th place finishers in exacting order. You can make some hay like that.

Quality, not quantity. Know when not to bet, and that is much more often then when you should bet. When you see something set up before your eyes, and you been doing it long enough to see the repetitive patterns, bet as big as your budget will allow and never a cent more. I was rewarded today.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: September 26, 2009; The Kentucky Cup Classic Grade II at Turfway Park and Remembering El Prado and Kona Gold

That fine looking colt is none other then the only winner of the Grade II Lane's End and Kentucky Cup Classic, Hard Spun. Why is it relevant? The Turk's pre race chalk in today's Kentucky Cup Classic is Hold Me Back, the 2009 winner of the Grade II Lane's End.

We could start with the weather in Florence, or the track condition, but don't bother, the polytrack fake stuff is always listed as fast. I do dig the Turfway Park website very much, and I love Kentucky horse racing no matter if their own elected representatives are unprepared to level the playing field and allow race casino's. I digress and I'll surrender this type of dialog to serious media types who don't refer to themselves in the third person.

Turfway Park Race 13, Post Time 6:21 ET; The Kentucky Cup Classic Grade II; 1 1/8 miles on neither turf nor dirt for 3 YOs and up.

It's an interesting field and as I built my handicap it occurred to me that their is a stratification of quality horses here and then some field fillers that should start running 2 seconds earlier. With 10 cent super's available, my goal shifted to building my handicap to identify the layer, slot the horses as best as possible to avoid too many boxed combinations, and then roll the dice. Let's get after it.

Hold Me Back, and the effort he is coming in off of on sloppy dirt at Saratoga cannot be ignored. A Grade II winner at Turfway Park as I previously mentioned, a nice 5f at BEL in 1:00 flat signals current form hasn't regressed. The 3 YO is 4 of 4 in the money on synthetic. Trainer Mott and Jock Leparoux hit at 24% for the year. An iron pipe lock? Nope, but a good 40% chance to win and he'll headline most of the exotic combo's I'll assemble.

After Hold Me Back, I love the parity of the next four runners and I only see subtle shading between them. Dubious Miss has C. Borel up, and that horse/jock combo has been unbeatable. Coming in off a solid 2nd in a Grade II at Arlington at 1 3/16, expect to see the 5 YO gelding come off the pace instead of a run from the far back. 3 Of 4 in the money on Synthetic and owner of the race's best lifetime BSF on synth at 105, should be in the top 4 (I'll say that at least 4 more times).

Sligovitz, a Woodbine invader for trainer Attfield, is 8 of 8 on synthetic tracks and 13 of 17 lifetime in the money. Why is this horse here? Because a smart horseman looking at the conditions book thought he could win. I expect a top four finish.

Wicked Style and Furthest Land are in this repetitive "I think a top four finish" mix. Wicked Style will be more favored by the bettors then me, and it's not that I'm down on the 4 YO son of Macho Uno I just believe handicappers should take a firm opinion even when explaining uncertainty. Lots to like including a :48 sec 4f work this week at KEE. 5 of 6 lifteime in the money on synthetic and 5 of 6 overall in the money in 2009. If his running style holds, he'll strike to just off the leaders early on and his fortunes will be decided by the trip of others as much as his abilities. R. Albarado is up for Trainer Arnold today. Expect a mid 90's BSF and bottom of the top 4 or 5th.

Furthest Land is coming off a long layoff and has Garret Gomez up (It sorta worked on in the Woodbine Mile last week). Trainer Maker has supertrainer stats: 28% routes, 31% synthetics, 27% 61-180 day layoffs, and an ugh with graded stakes at 5% in 19 tries. Big fish, small tanks? Not an insult at all, just an observation. Nice training pattern punctuated with :59 5f efforts

I'm still mulling where Timeless Fashion plays with my handicap today. 6 of 6 on synth, 6 of 6 at TP, a capable ungraded stakes runner who will provide much of the pace and you never know where a horse like this will land when the blanket drops across the wire. Distance could be the issue.

I'd be remiss in not remembering two more fallen stars, El Prado and Kona Gold.

El Prado(Ire) in a John Kaiser photo.

Kona Gold in a James Shambhu photo.

Rest in Peace and your humans will see you at the Rainbow Bridge.

I'd also be remiss in not reminding readers of The Turk that there is some fantastic writing taking place in a build up towards the Breeders' Cup. Members of the Thorougbred Bloggers Alliance have divvied up the various racing divisions to bring the readers individual analysis of each of the Breeders' Cup races. This is an exciting development for the Thorughbred Bloggers Allance, of which the Turk is a proud member of, so if you are passionate about horse racing, and I know you are because you're reading this, check out this link for the TBA Blogs at the NTRA website building towards the Breeders' Cup.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day September 20, 2009: The Woodbine Mile Grade I on Turf and Remembering Summer Squall

Horseshoes and Hand grenades. They aren't exactly the same when being tossed in your general direction.

The Turk built what he thought was a rock solid top 5 in this past weekend's Grade I Woodbine Mile, assembled 36 combinations of superfecta bet and while I came up close, it still left me a feeling of no joy. That's why we refer to the endeavour as gambling, and there is always something to be learned, win or lose.

Woodbine Race 10 9/20/2009: The Woodbine Mile Grade I; 1 Mile on Ontario Turf for 3 YOs and Up.

Pre Race I took a strong stand on a few horses that I liked but seriously missed their valuation on the tote board. I pegged Ferneley (Ire) for the Place spot and that's where he ran. I expected Sterwins to figure in the Exotic ticket and he didn't disappoint, and I figured Ventura to be a contender who ran hard at Gio Ponti earlier this year. What I didn't expect was the misfire of Bribon (Fr) and the poor finish of Rahy's Attorney. Jungle Wave hitting the Superfecta payout did me in and in the end, thirty six tickets got tossed in the proverbial trash can.

The deep closing speed of Ventura over this turf and her fine form coming off a very long layoff was impressive. Sterwins closed very hard as well and always seems to find the tickets.

The Turk would also like to remember Summer Squall, 1990 Preakness Stakes Winner and Sire of 1999 Kentucky Derby Winner Charismatic.

Summer Squall (foaled 1987 in Kentucky - September 22, 2009) was sired by Storm Bird. Summer Squall passed away of natural causes yesterday. Our condolences to his owners, connections and care givers.

Rest in Peace and your humans will meet you at the Rainbow Bridge.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Nomination Is In: September 20, 2009; The Woodbine Mile Grade I on Turf

When push comes to shove, the Turk loves the 1 Mile races, dirt and turf. The Woodbine Mile has been a favorite of mine for many years and today's edition contains a very impressive field of expected contenders and a few horses that could sneak onto the exotic tickets and surprise. No matter who wins, this should be a hotly contested race on fast turf and any post time chalk should be considered vulnerable. I would reckon that the payouts will be healthy because of the uncertainty. You'll find the early and late changes for today's Woodbine Card here. The hour-by-hour forecast is a click away but I don't think there is anything to worry about weather wise. Let's get it on!

Race 10 Woodbine: Post Time 5:42 ET; The Woodbine Mile Grade I on Turf for 3 YO and Up

What a field. I love the parity in the middle of the pack and there are multiple horses here with excellent late speed.

Any handicap has to have a chalk, even if tepid, and mine is Bribon. I've been a fan of the 6 YO gelding for sometime and I've been very impressed with the way Trainer Ribaudo handles him and the way A. Garcia rides him. The Jock/Trainer have won 52% of the time together over the past year on 21 starts. His first start at WO, his 12th turf start and his second in a row since going back to the grass on a firm turf day at SAR in early August. Six 100+BSFs in last calendar year. Lots to like but I'd prefer a few more turf races under his girth.

I'm making a big leap with my choice for Place, but I like what I see with Fernely (Ire) and I'm rolling the dice looking for big value. Great late speed from the 5 YO who also starts at Woodbine for the first time. Coming off a Grade II win at Delmar at 1 Mile on the Turf and a 5 furlong bullet at a week ago. I think he'll find the firm turf very much to his liking. I'll have more tickets with him dropping a few spots down and I'm not thinking win right now, but just his presence in the ticket will raise the payouts nicely.

I really appreciate Rahy's Attorney and like Einstein, I always make sure I watch his efforts closely and savor them. So why hasn't the Turk got him higher? I may be wrong, but I would rather see sharper current form. A fantastic 4f in :46 and 3/5ths did not go unnoticed two weeks ago, but Trainer Black has been stretching him out from 1 3/8, 1 1/4, 1 1/8 and 1 1/16 since his last 1 mile effort so I'm hedging. 11 of 13in the money at WO and 11 of 15 in the money on Turf, last years Woodbine Mile champ hasn't matched that effort in terms of BSF since, which he achieved on yielding turf. Prove me wrong big guy!

The last two spots are a coin toss for me but I'm going with Sterwins for a few intangible reasons over Ventura, the lone lady in the event, who races for the first time since April. With WO leading jock Husbands up, Sterwins is 9 of 11 in the money the last two years and 6 of 7 in the money on Woodbine Turf. Ventura needs no recital of her accomplishments and Gomez is up as usual. Her last effort against the boys was a close Grade I loss to Gio Ponti , a lil 'ol horse who hasn't done much this year. Scary good and worth a $2 win bet for kicks.

There are several other runners that can really throw this one astray, and Grand Adventure is a real wild card.

I have no bet strategy yet. I'll be watching the tote board and comparing my base handicap to what value I should expect if sucessful. My conservative betting style may lean me towards a series of exata's if I see value in the second spot, but I will swing for a few tri's and super's as well. Little Turk is feelin' Field Commission as long and live.

Have fun, enjoy, Turk Out!

Happy 1st Anniversary Turk and Little Turk

It's a special day for the Big Turk and his sidekick handicapper and son, The Little Turk. 223 Posts, 6,255 visitors and 365 days have past since collectively we began to write in the third person about horses, handicapping and our hijinks's, be it the Big Turk's travels or cigar and bourbon preferences, or the Little Turk's savant like skill as a horseplayer that has earned him many a Lego Star Wars kit as reward.

The Turk isn't a journalist and I don't try to scoop news stories. The Turk is just a horseplayer who actually loves the horses, cheers for them no matter what and remembers them when they fallen. Along the way we've had some good handicaps and made some money, and a few duds here and there as well, but never have we gloated about the wins or hidden from the losses. It's a humbling game that we play, but if you play it consistently our past year proves you can scratch out a positive return on your money. One message we have always made is to bet responsibly and to learn when not to bet, something all the handicapping books I read graze over.

One statistic I didn't want to rattle off is the number of new horse racing friends and acquaintances I've made in the past year through this blog. I went to tracks for years and never talked to anyone but the nice ladies at the betting windows. It's fantastic to meet up with kindred spirits and talk shop. If this was a commercial, that would be the priceless moment.

Turk will be back later today with a Woodbine Mile handicap and hopefully some cashed tickets to celebrate the milestone.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day September 12, 2009: The Garden City Handicap Grade I on Turf at Belmont

There was a determined Turk at work today. My process for handicapping is long winded to begin with, and tiring, which often limits me to no more then three quality handicaps per day. I looked at the Belmont card on Wednesday night and took the advanced Past Performances with me on my business trip. I wanted to take a trip back to IRS ticket cashing window in a big way, a handicappers happy place.

The Turk has waxed poetic before about being a humble handicapper. You have to be as horses make fools out of good horseplayers daily. When you are a public handicapper, be it a big media type, or just a small lil' ol' blogger like the Turk, you are going to make handicaps that don't work. Just last week I had a horse dead last who finished first. What humbled me more was he attracted lots of action on the tote board and I just couldn't see it. Like a cornerback burned by a deep bomb to Terrell Owens, I let it go and went back on the field. Now I said, stay humble, but I said nothing about being confident and determined. I don't think you can be a good horse player if you pick scared. You might as well just either stick to show bets or bet the track handicappers selections verbatim.

In today's Garden City Handicap at Belmont I created a handicap based solely on the past performances. I was familiar with just a few of these horses and that helps me to focus on the information in the PPs only. My pre race chalk, Maram scratched early in the day. A reader and fine horseplayer tipped me off that it was being reported in the Form, which I would have gotten to. I get some head scratching for this part of my process when I explain it to people, but I almost never read about the races I am going to bet on before I handicap. I found that I was susceptible to pre race hype. I found myself shading my handicap towards things I read or heard and for me, that just wasn't working. There is a time and place for research, and because I bet mostly Graded Stakes and because I bet so few races per raceday, I do circle back to the media and blog stories, mostly to see if my handicap choices are completely contrary to opinion or right in line with what others think. I like Maram and she'll be back.

It's important to prepare a handicap that becomes a betting tool. When Maram scratched, I didn't panic. I built a bet strategy using the next horse down in my handicap, Miss World. I wasn't shaken when Gomez came off the mount either, I just dealt with it and decided to roll the dice.

I typically never exceed $20 dollars wagered in a race and I limit my losses in any given day to $40. I have rules and those are mine, and you should have yours. You can't spend your way out of a slump, at least it's never worked for Turk.

I took a stand with Miss World, Shared Account and Gozzip Girl. As I said pre race, if certain runners went to post at odds I considered very favorable I would bet Win and Exacta, not typical bets for me. I was rewarded with $231 in a Win and an Exacta Bet.

I swung for the fences though. I generally build my Superfectas in a matrix. I take all the horses that I think can finish in the top four and assign them values. I then eliminate all the combinations that are not likely or low value returns. The risk/reward factor is very important as betting the Tote Board favorites 1-2-3-4 just doesn't return enough for risk. I settled on nine straight Superfecta choices, a small percentage of the combinations my choices would have generated if using box bets. I was rewarded with $2,687 when I realized that I liked Keertana more then Katara and inserted her into a combination.

Race 8 BEL: The Garden City Handicap Grade I; 1 1/8 Miles on Soft Turf for 3YO Fillies.

It was workmanlike and a bit lucky, but luck has a place in a horseplayers arsenal.

Good Stuff, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: September 12, 2009; The Garden City Handicap Grade I on Turf at Belmont

The Turk just returned from a trip into the Northeast where it was windy, rainy and feeling very much like the Fall. My black eyed Susan's are fading and a few of my trees are shedding leaves. Being a Northern Soul, I embrace the four seasons and don't dread the coming snow but instead I am grateful for life, love and the Autumn Meet at Belmont.

Let's get to it!

The Main Track is a sloppy mess and the Turf Course is already listed as Soft with races 1,5,9, and 10 moved to the Main. You can look at the hour by hour forecast at Belmont, but the damage is done and I wouldn't expect track condition to improve much as the day goes on.

Everything is a handicapping angle. While the Turf being soft is a hard challenge, we will stick to trying to identify a base handicap of current form, class, pace and distance and jockey/trainer success in the race specific situation. With an off turf situation, Turk's looking for late finishing speed to be what rules this race.

Race 8 at BEL; Post Time 4:43 ET (but watch for the card to be compressed because of weather); The Garden City Handicap Grade I; 1 1/8 Miles on inner Turf for Fillies 3 YO.

Trainer Chad Brown, living the dream with a 21% win rate, brings Breeders Cup Champ Maram back for her second race off a very long layoff. Maram has been training very sharply at Saratoga and banged out a bullet 5f in :59 and 2/5ths on the 7th. After her long layoff she won at One Mile on the Turf at Sartoga with a lifetime best 90 BSF. Only her 5th race, shes undefeated and has a yielding turf Grade III win at Belmont under her girth strap already. I like her post and her tactical speed. I like Chad Brown and he's starting to develop supertrainer stats and I hope that is a compliment: 24% on Turf, 22% Graded Stakes, 26% 31-60 day layoffs.

The Clement trainee Miss World is coming off a win on turf listed as good in a N1X at SAR in mid August. This is a big jump in class for the daughter of Bernstein, but it's called gambling for a reason. We like to think of it as educated gambles, and we like the late speed and the guts. A jock change to "no place like his California home" G. Gomez signals intentions. Most likely will go to post >6-1, there is value in her if she finds the top three and that's how I'm approaching it.

There is SO much to like about Gozzip Girl; A Grade III, II and I winner, 5 of 6 on the Turf, a race best 97 BSF lifetime, Desormeaux up, a yielding turf win,and great Jock/Trainer specific stats; 445 win rate together at BEL, 25% wins in Graded Stakes, 25% wins off last start win, 21% on a 61-180 day layoff. And that's my slight rub, freshened since 5 July, breaking from post 1, she's got plenty to win this race but I'm leaning towards a slight fallback to her battle ready competitors. More then good enough to be in top four.

My B Group are a nice collection of runners who will factor in the ticket most likely in the 3 and 4 spot. I'll work some of them in accordingly.

So what's it all mean? I'll be watching the tote and the scratches and the weather leading up to post time. I'll have a superfecta and trifecta strategy based on my base handicap and I'll generate 5-6 variations on that. I'm also leaning towards shifting to some value exactas or even win bets if I get the right price on a few runners here.

Be flexible, but be prepared.

Have fun, Turk Out!

MARAM has indeed scratched.

Gomez is off of Miss World as well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day August 6th, 2009: The Vice Regent at WO and the Pacific Classic GI at Del Mar

Race 9 Del Mar Post Time 8:10 ET: The Pacific Classic Grade I; 1 1/4 Miles on Fake Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

Live and Long, Richard's Kid is a prime study in educated longshot selections. Two bullets pre race and three solid works since his last race, trained by a high level trainer (Hall of Fame Bob Baffert)and a great jock with Mike Smith up. Just based on the Past Performances, you never pick this horse. It's an angle you have to look for, and even then, its no sure thing, but it happens and it's blindingly obvious in hindsight.

Einstein and Rail Trip ran solid races and seemed to be caught off guard by the strong stretch run of Richard's Kid. Colonel John had a bad trip and had to check up a few times heading into the last 1/4 mile and never got rolling. Informed, my chalk, laid back and never really fired.

It was an odd pace with speed in front and the speed throttled back. That's why they run em'.

Race 8 WO: The Vice Regent; 1 Mile on Ontario Turf for 3 YOs sired by Ontario Stallion

In my pre race analysis I had Guipago with <10% chance of winning. In reviewing the PP I see nothing that would make me think this horse was primed to win this race.

That said, I was very surprised to see this horse rise up the tote board ranking as post time approached. I placed just a few Trifecta bets based on my base handicap with a few variation on the Show horse, all bust of course.

Sometimes, a handicapper has to move on. The races were a mixed bag for me, but a handicapper learns from the wins and the losses.

Turk Out!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Nomination Is In: September 6, 2009; The Pacific Classic Grade I; 1 1/4 Miles on Fake Dirt at Del Mar

Oh, mighty Go Between, son of Point Given, winner of the 2008 Pacific Classic and felled sadly by a heart that seemed infallible. Your spirit and memory will hang heavy over the race that defined you.

Go Between's loss and the absence of an injured Well Armed leaves this edition of the Pacific Classic missing two superstars. While we miss their presence, we handicap the race, hope that all starters finish sound, and plan out a handicap that we can use to cash some tickets. I guess that's what its all about.

Race 9 Del Mar Post Time 8:10 ET: The Pacific Classic Grade I; 1 1/4 Miles on Fake Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

A stratification layer of quality levels exists with six of the starters capable of crossing the line first and then a six horse group that contains some Grade II and III runners but more then likely not capable of dictating the outcome in this race.

Of the top layer of horses, the Turk likes Informed for real value and Rail Trip for an almost assured top 3 position.

There is lots to like with Informed. He is coming off an early August Grade II win at Del Mar at 1 1/16 and two races back he beat Rail Trip in a Grade II at Hollywood. A five year old with 6 career wins in 22 starts, there is a parallel that can be drawn with our fallen champion, Go Between. If this horse goes off at his ML 10-1 I will place a small win bet on him. I'm expecting a top four finish.

Rail Trip is a four year old gelding who started his career winning five straight before steeping sideways and then taking a huge leap forward with the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup win. He's rested since that mid July effort and has been working an interesting program for Trainer Ellis at Del Mar since early August. I don't think you can expect him to be as sharp as he was, but he could surprise me and if he does I will have to reevaluate my view on his long term class. I don't see anyway he doesn't finish in the top 4 and I expect a top 2 finish. 8 of 8 lifetime in the money. Making his first start at Del Mar. Trainer Ellis does have a 25% win rate in 108 tries on 31-60 day layoffs.

The Turk is an unabashed Einstein fan. I'd love to place him in the win spot here, but I must also admit I'm not thrilled with the way his connections have thrown him all around the conditions book. Coming off his second dismal Arlington Millions and returning to fake dirt for the first time since his Grade I win at Santa Anita and a 103 BSF, his only effort on the fake stuff, so this will be his first time on the Del Mar version of fake dirt. You don't need to know much more, this horse is capable of winning on any surface and under just about any pace scenario. He was purchased by Stronach Stables and at 7 YO you have to wonder how many more races he will be allowed to wow us in. Clearly he's capable of winning today and he'll be in my top 4 and most likely top 3.

For the forth spot on my base superfecta ticket I am torn between Mast Track, Col. John and Misremembered. Mast Track has faltered lately but is still dangerous, Col. John is coming off a turf win and hasn't gone longer then 7f since the Breeders Cup Classic, and that leaves Misremembered, freshened since a mid July Grade II win at HOL.

A series of bets based on my base handicap will be made, not quite a box but not quite a wheel either. I'm hunting for a Tri and Superfecta and we'll see what we can do.

Have fun, Happy Labor Day, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: September 6, 2009: The Vice Regent $125,000; 1 Mile on Turf for 3 YOs at Woodbine

With a bit of remorse, the meet at Saratoga and Delmar are all but over. As the days grow shorter, the temperature dips lower, and the horse racing world marches towards the Breeders Cup, the Turk turns his eye northward where some great racing takes place, Woodbine.

The Woodbine Mile, one of the highlights of the race season for me every year, is two weeks from today. The racing is top notch at this venue and I encourage readers of the Turk to pay attention to these Canadian runners or risk missing out on some high quality shippers into our American tracks.

Race 8 WO: The Vice Regent; 1 Mile on Ontario Turf for 3 YOs sired by Ontario Stallion

An interesting collection of runners enter this race, 11 horses in all. Most had some early success on poly track, some competed in the some very high level racing only to slip back and find themselves trying the turf for the first or second time. There is 17 turf starts in this group and 5 turf wins. So what does it all mean?

Costalivin, 10 of 12 lifetime in the money, tries the turf for the first time today, normally a big red flag, but gets my tentative chalk designation. Coming off a poly win at 7f, there is lots to like; Trainer Ross is clicking away at 29% win rate at WO this meet, his Turf win rate is 25%, poly to turf cross over is 29% and the combo of Jock Mcaleney and Trainer Ross hits at 67% clip this meet and 55% over past year. On the ugly side is Trainer Ross's zero 1st Turf wins. Last raced on 15 July, has been training well on Turf and looks to have been prepped for this race with a longer term goal in mind.

From the 10 gate breaks Parabola, 4 of 11 lifetime in the money and tied for the race high best turf BSF at 82. Freshened up after an early August race at 1 1/2 miles on Turf (which several of these runners ran in), he had a nice effort at 1 1/16 on Turf in early July, his last win. Trainer Minshall and Jock Sutherland hit 38% of the time this meet. Looking for a finish in top 4.

Mr. Foricos Two U has stumbled a bit since a place finish at the Queens Plate in June. The gelding with Jock Husbands up is a very high quality animal who maybe needed a break after a few grueling efforts, but instead turned in flat and fading efforts. The most likely post time chalk, I'll be looking for his quality to carry him into the ticket but a reversal of current form will be needed for a win.

A trio of horses fill out the next tier that will compete for a spot on the Super tickets I'm filling out. I think the best of the bunch for this race is Jet Set Exec. A turf winner, Trainer Black hits 28% of his turf races and does well switching between sprints and routes. Coming off a 6 1/2 furlong win on the Turf at Woodbine.

Me the Sea and G T and Paso Doble will be competitive as well.

I'm leaning towards a matrix of bet combinations, essentially a box bet, but I'll eliminate many of the possibilities and slim down the cost of bet significantly. As always, build a base handicap well before the post parade, watch the horses if possible, look at the tote board odds 5-7 minutes before post and make adjustments as necessary. Weigh the risk versus reward in your mind before placing any bet.

On an unrelated note, the Turk witnessed greatness yesterday with Rachel Alexandra winning the Woodward in champions fashion. Macho Again came hard at the filly and as they approached the wire it appeared that Rachel Alexandra began accelerating again. An incredible roar came out of the Saratoga crowd which reminded me that horse racing isn't dead yet.

Have fun. Turk Out!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rest in Peace Milo

Ismael "Milo" Valenzuela (born December 25, 1934 in McNary, Texas; died on September 2, 2009 in Arcadia, California, was a Thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey. He was one of 22 children born to parents who had immigrated to the United states. Shortly after Ismael Valenzuela's birth, the family returned to their native Mexico. At age 14, Milo Valenzuela came back to the United States where he began working with quarter horses then launched his career as a jockey at a racetrack in Tucson, Arizona. He eventually began riding in California and would come to national prominence as a jockey competing for the American Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.

Leading up to the 1958 Kentucky Derby, the California horse Silky Sullivan received much publicity for his habit of coming from very far behind to win races. It was the first time television played a major role in the publicizing of a racehorse and after Valenzuela won the Derby on board Tim Tam, the next day he was flown to New York City to make a guest appearance on CBS Television's Ed Sullivan Show. Two weeks later, Valenzuela and Tim Tam won the Preakness Stakes but in the final leg of the Triple Crown they finished second at the Belmont Stakes after the horse fractured a sesamoid bone near the end of the race.

For over three years in the early 1960s Valenzuela was the regular rider of superhorse Kelso. On Kelso, Valenzuela won twenty-two important graded stakes races, passed Round Table to become the No. 1 money winner in thoroughbred racing history, and earned the most prestigious Horse of the Year award every year. In 1963, Milo Valenzuela was the recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award given to a top thoroughbred jockey in North America who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct, on and off the racetrack. In 1966 Valenzuela won the Canadian International Stakes and in 1968 history repeated itself when he again won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with Forward Pass but fell short of winning the Triple Crown when they finished second in the Belmont Stakes.

In 2008, Valenzuela was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Because he was unable to travel to the annual induction ceremony on August 4th at Saratoga Springs, New York, he was inducted in a special ceremony at Santa Anita Racetrack on June 22, 2008.

Just before dying he said, "I came from behind enough times, this time I am going to lose."

Milo Valenzuela has three brothers who also became jockeys as did his nephew, Pat Valenzuela.

We thank Wikipedia for the entry and hope the basic facts of the man are correct.

Rest in Peace Milo