The fine looking 5 YO gelding in the picture is Chamberlain Bridge, the Turk's chalk in today's Nearctic at Woodbine. It's feeling a bit Near-Arctic here in Western New York, 80 miles south of Woodbine, and the weather at the track shouldn't be much warmer but the turf will be firm and fast.
Race 8 WO post time 4:23 ET; The Nearctic Grade II; 6f on Turf for 3 YO and Up.
10 Cent Supers are not in fashion for this race. I lead with that as it does shape my bet strategy as I review my base handicap.
While a Grade II event, the field isn't one to remember. There is a parity among the middle of the pack, and in my handicapping opinion a few that are better and a few that perhaps should never leave the shed row. The beauty of the races is that they aren't a mathematical proposition or a Sudoku puzzle as I'll often describe them to bewildered folks sitting next to me on airplanes. The Turk is still shaking his head at Gitano Hernando (GB), surprise winner of the Goodwood last weekend. I can accept that he won. I can accept I didn't pick him. I can accept that I didn't even consider him. I grudgingly accept that foreign invaders with unremarkable Past Performances need to be accounted for. That was understood on Turf for many years, but now the turf to poly angle is a factor as is the overseas or different poly to race day poly angles must be analyzed. All good stuff.
As a handicapper, after I have reviewed what is on the paper, I must sit back and ponder the intangibles. Why is this horse racing at this track on this day? It's a fundamental question that must be asked, especially of shippers. Why did the connections ship this horse here, why did they train like they did, and what is the end game? You must ask yourself that question again in the post race analysis, what any serious handicapper must do to learn from his effort fully, and often the hindsight you gain will lead you clearly to the answer.
I digress. What I enjoy most about handicapping are the surprises. The Turk often talks of staying humble. Horses will keep you humble, but if you are consistent, if you learn from your handicaps that worked and the ones that don't, ticket cashing will follow. I'm not sure how this economy of words blogger started this discussion, perhaps The Glenlivet is still in my system fro last night. Let's get it on!
Chamberlain Bridge is a 5-5.5 furlong runner stretching up to 6f today. Gomez is up today for Trainer Calhoun's runner. Trainer Calhoun has sparkling stats this year, 23% winners, 177 wins, 25% turf sprints, 24% won last start, 21% turf, 26% sprints, 24% graded stakes and 25 graded stakes wins. Chamberlain Bridge is 16 of 17 lifetime in the money on Turf and comes in off a 102 BSF effort in early September and 3 straight mid 90 BSF's before that. Work is dull and slow.
Trainer Sid Attard's Jungle Wave is coming in with perhaps even better current form; 4 straight upper 90 low 100 BSF's including a Grade II WO 7F turf race on yielding grass and the mid race lead at the Woodbine Mile. 9 of 12 lifetime in the money and 5 of 6 in the money in 2009, a nice :47 3/5ths effort at 4f this past week.
Field Commission is a solid local runner who always seems to be in contention in minor stakes at WO, 14 of 17 lifetime in the money. Seems to like slightly softer turf, something I don't think we'll see today. Hedging down a bit with this B pack that I have, but I like him and he gets many intangible points.
My "live and long" choice is Grand Adventure. Dropping back slightly in distance, this lightly raced 3 YO comes in off a Woodbine Mile where he pressed the pace well to the 6f point with :46 at 4f and 1:09.08 at 6f. Not earth shattering, but with Husbands up and 3 of 5 lifeime on WO turf, I'm watching the tote and placing some sort of wager on him. Does he belong this high in my base handicap? Maybe not but if I'm going to consider him live and long I need to consider him for hitting at least 4th or that would be sandbagging.
Little Nick and Heros Reward deserve some action on the ticket, I'm just not sure how much i can afford them. My general betting rules would obligate me to offer no wager on a base handicap that shaped up as this one did for me. That said, I'm oing to keep it simple, small, and we'll see what happens. I'm off to walk the Turk's foundation weimaraner, Kay, and when i return we'll get after the Canadian International, Grade I on turf at WO. Today is The Turk's 17th wedding aniversary. Mrs. Turk wasn't sure if she could find time to handicap today, but she took several seconds and announced she liked Field Commission and Little Nick. Little Turk, our resident handicapping savant, likes Chamberlain Bridge too.
Have fun, tell your family and friends you love them, Turk out!