Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day December 26, 2009: Race 7,8 and 9 of opening day at Santa Anita

What an opening day at Santa Anita. The legend, John Henry, was memorialized in a lasting manner and the Champion Mare, Zenyatta, was paraded and showered with the love and praise of her fans. It's hard not to believe another bronze statue won't one day adorn Santa Anita Park in the image of this soul stirring warrior and it is encouraging to see that the fans do connect deeply with the stars when given the opportunity to see them mature in their fourth and fifth years. A problem seems to be our stars reach their zenith and then they are gone, but problems are for another time and another blog: I'm focusing on the positives of 30,000 plus fans on opening day and the good that Zenyatta brought to the Southern California racing fans. OK, Let's go!

Race 7-9 Santa Anita Park

In the Sir Beaufort Stakes, I thought the chalk was heavy and deserved and The Usual Q.T. did not disappoint. My handicap was pretty solid and I had the top five accounted for with one exception, the failure of Pleasure to Ride to finish and the final 1/8 that Gallant Son put together.

In the La Brea Stakes, I didn't have much going for me. I said pre race that I had the three Irish Bred's finishing last and when I got done with the handicap I knew that didn't seem right. It wasn't. Starlarks (Ire) closed hard and the horse I thought would add value, Pinkarella, didn't. I didn't like my handicap so I did what I suggest pre race, I watched the tote, looked for value, and I settled on some win bets, one of which Evita Argentina, got me back to almost break even for the race. The tote board was offering lots of value with these big field, beatable chalk, stakes races and for the bettors second favorite choice, she paid well and it was a good defensive bet.

And in the final stakes race, The Malibu, The Turk made his bacon. I was indifferent to M One Rifle or Misremembered, as I thought either would win. Again, the important thing about a base handicap is slotting of the horses, not always the exact finish. Where I did really well is identifying that the payouts on the Superfecta had a chance to be really good and I worked six horses into the mix, including Papa Clem and Square Eddie, who I thought just had too much class to not be in the top six. I backed Supreme Summit much higher then the bettors did, as he was the 11th pick of the folks at the windows and I backed him top four. Those decisions led to a nice win, exacta and superfecta payout.

All in all, a good day for lots of reasons, the least of which were a few winning bets, but more importantly, the momentum of two Breeders' Cup events in Southern California has paid some dividends, at least I'd like to think so for racing sake.

Have fun. This may be it for 2009, I'll be singing happy birthday to our 2 YOs next week and we start another Triple Crown trail. Very Good Stuff indeed!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Nomination Is In: December 26, 2009; The Malibu Stakes Grade I; 7 Furlongs on Fake Dirt at Santa Anita

Friends, remember Ferdinand, the 1986 winner of The Malibu Stakes, today's featured race on opening day at Santa Anita Park. Mighty Ferdinand, 1986 Kentucky Derby Winner and 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, killed in a slaughterhouse in Japan in 2002. Pray that something so horrific never happens again. Again, the Turk is backing a Baffert horse today, Misremembered, looking to give the Hall of Fame trainer his first Malibu win. Let's Go!

Race 9 Santa Anita Park Post Time 7:00 PM ET: The Malibu Stakes Grade I; 7 Furlongs on Fake Dirt for 3 YOs.

Misremembered is breaking from the one spot and dropping back in distance for today's race. His running style should put him near or at the front by 4 furlongs but make no mistake, this is beatable chalk. Coming off a strong two starts on dirt and makes his first start at SA. 3 wins in 5 starts on poly. 4 wins in 8 tries in 2009. The son of Candy Ride (Arg) should be no worse then Show.

Smart Bid is bred by Mr. George Strawbridge Jr, a man all Buffalo Sabre fans are indebted to for his financial support when the franchise was teetering, and a true horseman in every way. Comes in off a sharp 7f SA win in October putting up a 96 BSF in a 100K stakes. 3 Wins in last 7 starts for the son of Smart Strike. Watching the tote and think about a win bet >6-1.

M One Rifle is 7 of 7 in the money on poly with 3 wins. M. Smith up today for Trainer Headley. Training very sharply including a :34 second 3F work this past week.

My B Group are all capable of Top four finishes and several would not be surprise winners and only their current form is in question. Supreme Summit may be a bit of a stretch but is capable of 100+ BSF on the fake stuff.

Papa Clem and Mythical Power both enter off long layoffs. Mythical Power has been training very sharply for Trainer Baffert. Square Eddie I still don't know what to do with.

These opening day Santa Anita stakes fields have been an oddity to handicap and expect good payouts based on the uncertainty in the morning lines and independent analysis. I'll work a similar strategy as I plan for The La Brea Stakes, with 5 boxed Supers and then some exactas and win bets.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: December 26, 2009: The La Brea Stakes Grade I; 7 Furlongs on Fake Dirt for 3 YO Fillies at Santa Anita

The 2008 winner of the Grade I La Brea, Indian Blessing, added a 5th win in this race for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert. Trainer Baffert has the Turk's chalk running here today, Gabby's Golden Gal on a fantastic day at the Great Race Place that will see mighty Zenyatta paraded for the last time before she's off to become a mother of future champions as well as what I'm sure is an emotional day for trainer McAnally as the statue of John Henry is unveiled. Great Stuff and the Turk wishes he was there.

Race 8 Santa Anita, post time 6:30 ET; The La Brea Stakes Grade I; 7 furlongs on fake dirt for 3 YO fillies.

Gabby's Golden Gal has been off since July 4th and that is always a red flag for me, but has been working sharply for Trainer Baffert and with Smith up for the breeder/owner and Bloodhorse Magazine featured Arnold Zetcher . After a forgettable 2 YO campaign, 3 wins in 6 starts as 3 YO, 3 for 3 in the money on Poly and a Grade I dirt winner as well as the 3 YO earnings leader. Beatable chalk in a fairly wide open race.

Evita Argentina was a better 2 YO then a 3 YO, or possibly I should say, an unimproved 3 YO from a being a good 2 YO. A win here might change that impression. The daughter of Candy Ride (Arg) is trained by Sadler and the Sadler/Rosario combo clicks away at 21% at SA,

I'm looking for some value with Pinkarella . Coming in off an impressive N1X win and a good show finish in a Grade III at SA last March. 2 wins in 4 starts on poly for the daughter of Malibu Moon. 2nd off >180 day layoff.

Kays and Jays is a Turk favorite, as Little Turk is Jae and Turk foundation wiemaraner is Kay. That said, this pick isn't about the name but a career best 105 BSF and a 99 BSF, both on dirt. 3 wins in 4 starts on synth/turf for the Macho uno daughter, trained by Mitchell with Bejarano up, a combo that is a race best SA best 25% win rate with over 100 races in 2009.

Amazed by Grace with Gomez up, is training very well and enters off a 75K stakes win and two sharp dirt starts. 1st poly try. Dani Reese won a six furlongs at SA last time out in an N1X in October and has been training well since. K. Desormeaux takes the mount from M. Smith. 3 wins in 4 starts in 2009.

So what are doing? Well the 1st race is going off as I type this so its early to make final decisions but after analyzing I think we will have a wide open affair and i think as many as five horses have a chance to win and I think 7 horses have a good shot at the top four. 10 cent supers are in fashion so I'll work a few boxed bets in, no more then $12 bucks or 5 different combos. I'll take 8 dollars and work a few straight exactas and perhaps even a few win bets depending on the tote. Toss everyone below C+, three Irish Breds. Gosh that doesn't right!

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Nomination Is In: December 26, 2009; The Sir Beaufort Stakes Grade III; 1 Mile on Turf at Santa Anita

Pictured left is Kip Deville, the 2006 winner of the Grade III Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita Park. We continue to pray that Kip survives a battle against failing health. This is opening day at Santa Anita, an exciting day with the unveiling of a John Henry statue and a parade by 2009 Horse of the Year Zenyatta. Good stuff!

Let's go!

Race 7 Santa Anita, post time 5:30 ET; The Sir Beaufort Stakes Grade III; 1 Mile on Turf for 3 YOs.

It's a rather unaccomplished group after The Usual Q.T. and Massone. The Usual Q.T. has a nice resume; 5 straight Wins, 5 straight improving Beyers, a last race best 100 BSF, 2 of 2 at SA, 6 of 6 in the money on Turf, 3 Turf Miles and 3 Wins, 9 of 10 lifetime in the money, a Grade I winner and the race career earnings leader. Not bad for a $12,500 Unusual Heat gelding! Will go off at less then even money so let's take a stand that he will win and then insert into the bet runners 2-4 in a mixture of straight picks and boxes, something I call a matrix, and see if we can't hit a superfecta.

For Place I like Massone. I'll shade him up to win on a few tickets, but for the most part I like him right here. No races at this distance. 5 straight races with 90+ BSF including an even 100 BSF at LaD in the Super Derby, a no match Show finish. Gomez up for Trainer McAnally, who by the way, does not have super trainer stats. A late goer, with less distance will have to go sooner but has the skill too.

The crap shoot begins for the Show Spot and 4th. It's not a bad thing as some longer odds here could increase the payout to make these bets worth it from risk/reward perspective. A group of horses of similar quality make up the pool I'm backing. Pleasure Ride, son of Candy Ride (Arg), is 9 of 14 in the money in 2009, 7 of 7 in the money on Turf and 4 of 4 in the money at distrance, as well as 2 of 2 in the money at SA. The Hollendorfer/Solis combination has been competitive and the horse has run off 7 straight game efforts. Watch the tote, worth at least one $2 buck win bet if >8-1 and a few tickets will slip him into Place. Little separates Pleasure Ride from Riviera Cocktail and Tamborim. That leaves me Gallant Son, Mr. Rod, Quoted and Brenthurst as the only horses right now I'm not accounting for with Quoted and Brenthurst my only confirmed tosses.

Don't make these decisions too soon. Watch the tote, the weather, the turf condition, and the changes and adjust your base handicap and bet strategy accordingly. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency. I hope Santa left this for you in your stocking because its the best tool for long term success.

Merry Christmas, Have Fun and Turk Out!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day December 12, 2009; The Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct and the Native Diver at Hollywood

I had to see it to remember, and perhaps Mast Track needed to see it too. The Hollywood Gold Cup Winner broke his long winless streak yesterday to take the Grade III Native Diver Handicap for new owner , Stronach Stables, and gives trainer Ascanio another win as he emerges from the shadow of lost but not forgotten legend, Bobby Frankel. I'd love to have shown a picture of Rodman winning the Grade III Queens County Handicap from Aqueduct yesterday but I reckon no one could get a good angle from the OTB parlor.

Race 8 Aqueduct: The Queens County Handicap Grade III; 1 3/16 miles on the inner dirt for 3 YO and Up and Race 7 at Hollywood Park: The Native Diver Grade III; 1 1/8 miles on poly for 3 YOs and Up.

At Aqueduct, my base handicap had the top two flip flopped but I felt strongly enough to box the exacta and I was rewarded with a decent payout. I didn't see More Then a Reason being competitive and my lone toss taking Show would have really messed me up if I had pressed my betting, which I didn't. As I said pre race, bet responsibly, and to me that isn't a public service warning telling fellow horse players not to bet but instead The Turk's way of saying don't throw good money at bad fields or bad handicaps. I did expect Honour Devil to look better then he did and he looked unimpressive. Rodman struck the front very early, leading by 2 1/2 lengths at the top of the stretch and won by 5 3/4 lengths in convincing fashion. I read there is talk of a start at the Donn. We'll see.

At Hollywood, a similar race unfolded with Mast Track loose on the lead and unthreatened throughout. Neko Bay made a late run but maybe too late and High Court Drama, my one toss, screwed up any chance I had of cashing a ticket on this race BUT gave us a horse to watch in his next start. Thanks to Steve from and Rob from Amateurcapper for chiming in with good points. Also, check out Kate's Keiblog for some fantastic thoughts and pictures of the world of horse racing in Japan.

Turk Out!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Nomination Is In: December 12, 2009; The Native Diver Grade III at Hollywood on Poly

My Turk heart is torn between seeing mighty
Lava Man run again or stay retired. The decision was made for me today with his scratch out of the Grade III Native Diver at Hollywood, most likely because of the horrible weather in California. Lava Man was the morning line 2nd favorite and I pray his stem cell treated ankles are up to the stresses, but he has been training very sharp and fast with a 6f 1:12 1/5th two weeks ago. The picture was taken by Matt Brockmeyer and captures the intensity the gelding always had on the track. Anyhow, we have a 5 horse field and we'll see if there is anything we can do with it. Let's Go!

Race 7 Hollywood Park Post Time 6:35 ET; The Native Diver Handicap Grade III; 1 1/8 Miles onfake dirt for 3 YO and Up.

Neko Bay is a Moss owned, Shirreffs trained, Smith ridden 6 YO son of Giant's Causeway. 9 of 11 lifetime in the money with no wins at Hollywood, none at this distance, only 1 on poly and just 1 win in last 6 starts. This is what passes for morning line favorites this time of year in a graded stakes. Semi Game at The Breeders' Cup "Dirt" Mile, and a very consistant run of upper 90/100 even BSF's going back 1 year. Only third start in 2009. Beatable chalk?

The lone three year old is one time Kentucky Derby hopeful, Square Eddie. Training very fast at HOL with a 4f :47 2/5ths and a 6f 1:11 3/5ths over past two weeks. A lack luster turf effort at Breeders' Cup with Dettori up. Gomez up for trainer O'Neill. I like the ML 6-1 odds and if there is any hope of value in this 5 horse field he just may be it.

Mast Track gets a slight edge from me over Tres Borrachos but not by much. 0 for 6 in 2009 and hasn't won since June 2008 and no wins at this distance. This 5 YO Frankel bred Stronach Stables runner use to be the perfect foil to Well Armed and Go Between and needs a good effort today to stay in the conversation as competitive. Don't count him out and is capable of running as fast as anyone here.

Tres Borrachos is only 3 of 21 lifetime, 2 of past 17, but 5 of 7 In the Money at Hollywood. 4 YO Gelding ran a strong Place to Rail Trip in Hollywood Gold Cup beating Life is Sweet. Which horse shows up today? At 4-1 to start, look to see if he slips.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Th Nomination Is In: December 12, 2009; The Queens County Handicap Grade III on the Inner Dirt at Aqueduct

Two horses running in today's 104th running of the Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct, Naughty New Yorker and Stud Muffin, are horses with names after my own heart. Unfortunately neither of these hard knocker's are The Turk's chalk and that distinction belongs to Researcher, the defending champion. The weather in Ozone Park is chilly but dry. As always, understand the weather, the scratches, and the intricacies of a particular track before building your handicap. Let's Go!

Race 8 Aqueduct Post Time 3:44 ET; The Queens County Handicap Grade III; 1 3/16 miles on the Inner Dirt Course for 3 YO and Up.

Researcher is the defending champion, the morning line favorite, and a previous winner on the inner track, a tight cornered affair that not all horses do well with. Comes in training sharply and off a Place at one mile and a big 108 BSF on the slop in October. Winner of 7 of the last 16 entered. J. Velazquez is up for Trainer Runco who wins 25% of his routes but doesn't get many entered in stakes.

Rodman is another inner track winner and comes in off a 102 BSF at 1 Mile at the Big A in early November. Distance will be the issue for the 4 YO who has mostly stuck to 6, 7 and 8 furlong affairs.

Honour Devil (Arg) is a nifty Argentinian with A. Garcia up today. Enters 4th race since coming from Mike de Klock's barn in late September and is looking for a break out win in the States. Comes in off an OC 100K win where he was loose on the lead. 4 Wins in last 9 starts, none at distance or at Aqueduct, but at least all on Fast Dirt.

Naughty New Yorker is making his 53 start here at the end of his 7th year. 9 of 11 in the money on the inner track but only 1 win in last 12 starts and only 3 of last 12 in the money. The son of Quiet American may be near the end.

So what do we do with this? I must say, I'm not wildly impressed with the field, but beggars can't be choosers this time of year when it comes to graded stakes.

10 Cent Supers are in fashion. I'm going to watch the tote closely and try to find value on my base handicap. That may mean a few boxed Supers and then a few exactas with value, such as Honour Devil on top and a few others in the Place spot. Again, I'm not sure where the bettors will go with this and where the tote board goes will determine how deeply I play. Bet responsibly.

I'd like to thank Equispace for joining me this morning at the 1st Annual Symposium on Horse Racing and Cigar Smoking.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Post Race Analysis for Race Day December 5, 2009: The Bayakoa Handicap Grade II; 1 1/16 Miles on Fake Dirt at Hollywood Park

When writing my pre race analysis for The Bayakoa, I got to thinking about a horse forever linked with Bayakoa and the 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff, Go for Wand. She now rests in peace at Saratoga, forever in the mind of horse racing fans the best 3 YO filly in America in the late fall of 1990, and the image of her laying down after crossing the finish line, eyes open, proud but afraid, is as haunting as any I've ever seen at the track. Rest in Peace Go For Wand, you have never been forgotten.

I couldn't bear to watch the replay on this one yesterday. I know it's important to study your failures and your successes, but that doesn't mean I was excited about picking apart a handicap that went as they can sometimes on poly tracks: Undistinguished turf horse with no wins on poly and rather ho hum past performances comes out of nowhere to win. Doesn't mean you have to like it, but it happens. Zardana (Brz) was given a great trip by Mike Smith, sitting in the pocket third for almost the whole race while moderate fractions clicked off until the top of the stretch and the mare went outside, ran a pedestrian final sixteenth in :06 2/5ths and cruised to the wire, game over. The next five hit the line close to each other, with none of these ladies seemingly interested in offending each other. Let's take nothing away from the winner, but in my final analysis, this was a race you just move on from without many lessons to be learned. Trainer Shirreffs has won this race a record five times now. Perhaps that was the lesson. Zardana (Brz) had a career best 99 BSF.

Hollywood Park Race 8; The Bayakoa Handicap Grade II; 1 1/16 Miles on Fake Dirt for F&M 3 YO and Up.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Nomination Is In: December 5, 2009; The Bayakoa Handicap Grade II; 1 1/16 Miles on Poly at Hollywood Park

Mighty Bayakoa, two time Breeders' Cup Distaff winner. Remembered fondly in California and deserving of praise similar to what we give Ruffian, Personal Ensign, and Zenyatta. I do not bring these revered names up to start the pointless Rachel/Zenyatta debate but to remember a wonderful horse who captured my attention so many years ago.

Race 8 Hollywood Park Post Time 7:05 Eastern: The Bayakoa Handicap Grade II; 1 1/16 miles on poly for F&M 3 YO and Up.

As always, check for changes and watch the tote closely before finalizing your bets.

Fittingly, the Turk is backing an Argentinian horse as his chalk in today's running of The Bayakoa. Teamgeist (Arg) is a 6 YO Mare trained by McPeek with Solis up. Training very fast at SA with a 5f :58 4/5ths and a 4f :47 4/5ths her last two times on the track. Winless since coming to the States, 13 of 17 lifetime in the money and a nice Show in the Grade I Spinster at KEE. Looking for a breakout run today. Far from heavy chalk, some proven fillies will challenge her.

Briecat enters with blinkers on today, and owns the races best lifetime BSF of 100 that she earned at HOL this past June at 1 1/8. Since that effort she had a miserable Grade I turf outing, a mile win and a failed 1 1/16 Grade I where she was in front at the top of the stretch. 6 wins in last 17 starts but only 2 of 7 in the money in 2009. Winner of this race a year ago, I wish her well.

Lucky Copy has the last race best BSF of 94, a dominating ALW level win by 8 1/2 lengths at 1 1/16 at KEE. 4 wins in last 10 starts for Trainer Pletcher.

The next tier down includes Silver Swallow and Cat by the Tale. Silver Swallow, with Smith Up, is 7 of 7 at HOL in the money and 11 of 15 on Poly. The 5 YO Alphabet Soup Mare is 4 of 6 in the money at the distance and should be accounted for on a Super ticket as easily achieving Show or 4th.

Cat of the Tale is 0 of 0 at HOL, 0 of 3 on Synthetics and 0 of 0 at Distance since coming to the States earlier in 2009. Two wins, an N2x and N3X and a nice Show in a Grade II that could have easily been Place last time out. A wildcard and you should account for her.

Floating Heart, a Tabor owned Giant Causeway 3 Yo is placed here by Trainer Pletcher and maybe ready to break out. 4 of 4 in the money in 2009 and 1 poly win. A stayer dropping back, not sure what to expect.

So what do we do? 10 cent Supers are in fashion so I will create several of those tickets in the boxed variety and then work some exacta bets based on my base handicap and moving horses up and down the base handicap dependent on post time odds. Low risk, medium reward betting for me here.

Have Fun, Turk Out!