Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day December 26, 2010; The Santa Anita Pick Three and the Malibu Grade I

This Turk loves this time of the year; from Thanksgiving until New Years Day I just feel at peace with the world, in tune with my friends and family, and renewed to start the grind of another year. Life's grind does get me down, as this Turk works his arse off, and just before Christmas I invoked the time honored tradition of retail therapy and I bought myself a Mac Mini.

I liked the idea of a small computer attached to my audio-visual gear for a long time, a perfect place for streaming and storing. The lure of a full sized HDMI plug that would connect right into my TV was too much to pass up. With that, I took my HRTV Subscription and I had graduated from watching the races on my laptop to having it on the big screen with fantastic sound. I'm not a tech guy but I love when I add some modernity to my life and it just fits in with me and not the other way around.

This Turk could barely contain himself on Sunday when I settled in with the Santa Anita opening day Past Performances. I had the all Graded Stakes Pick Three targeted for handicapping, which I did, but I had two serious problems; the surfaces and the competition. The dirt track not only is brand new, but it was sealed and I had no idea what it would be like at show time. The turf Sir Beaufort I suspected would end up in the dirt, and then the real killer was my handicap, it was very very chalky. Sidney's Candy, Twirling Candy, Switch, was there really any doubt? Just a little, not much.

So what to do? Without much fanfare I dumped the Pick Three idea after seeing the scratches flow in and the turf races moved the main track. In response I spent my budgeted $24 on The Malibu Superfecta and I was locked in solid, dropping Noble's Promise to 5th and nailing the other four for a cool $445.70.

Santa Anita December 26, 2010; Race 6-7-8

The track was incredibly fast, and Trainer Baffert thought it was a full second fast. Regardless, Switch was very impressive and took Spectacular Bid's name down off the track record. Sidney's Candy continues to impress and is the perfect example of why you shouldn't just judge three year olds based solely on the Triple Crown races. Sidney's Candy also reminds us of why sound three year olds that get retired aren't getting a fair shake to become the best they can be.

I took my $24 and boxed my base handicap for the Malibu. I had Twirling Candy/Alcindor at the top and Alcindor had the lead at the 1/2 only to have to dig in and finish exotically. Noble's Promise, the bettors top choice, lacked a kick when a kick was required. Smiling Tiger continues to impress and Twirling Candy was very game. The sprinters are well represented heading into 2011.

The bet was only possible because of the handicap. I believe, and say here regularly, that if you do your homework and build your handicaps, you'll be prepared to be nimble when it's time to actually hand money over at the window. It takes discipline, but handicap the races in advance and not the 30 minutes in between races and you will add crispness to your betting and be a clear headed gambling fool like the hard core players that read the Turk.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Nomination Is In: December 26, 2010 Santa Anita Pick 3

Merry Christmas to my friends, family and readers of the Turk and the Little Turk.

To me, the day after Christmas and the opening of the Santa Anita winter meet always signals the start of the new season. I hope everyone had a relaxing few days. I've enjoyed a handicappers holiday, decompressing and getting ready to hit the ground running hard with Derby fever that will set in soon.

We've had an addition to the crack staff of handicappers at the Turk, so please, meet the newest Turk to the team, we'll call him HandHeld Turk. He's a derivative of a model developed by Mattel. I'm just now doing some research on Handheld Turk but I have found some interesting threads on the internet and I have anecdotally from my Aunt, whose father, a genuine old school horseplayer, swore by this machine. I'd like to think he's looking down from heaven and glad that its found its way into the Turk clan. When I get a bit more comfortable with inputting information into Handheld Turk I'll give him a forum for making his selections. Yes, Handheld Turk is greater than 21 years old and is eligible for the fringe benefits offered here at Turk Central, namely unlimited bourbon and cigars. OK, let's get after it!

Santa Anita Race 6-7-8 Pick Three; Post Time 5:30 ET

There's been much written about the switch back to dirt at Santa Anita. I had begun to accept that the fake stuff was here to stay and I'm still a bit shocked at how suddenly the surface was replaced, especially after two successful Breeders' Cup events. I reckon the lost days when it rained is what ultimately did it in, but the switch back to dirt was welcomed by me and it sure does make the winter meet seem relevant again as a place to prep for the Triple Crown races. Today though, we are faced with a new surface and days of bad weather that have taken a toll. It makes sense as a handicapper to watch the races, study the race charts, but limit the amount you are willing to invest with unknown and unpredictable variables at work.

I've built a Pick Three bet around two Grade I sprints and a Grade II turf route. I'm hopeful that the surface will be race worthy, but we'll see. There are some really nice horses lined up for Boxing Day racing and that is ultimately what I always care about the most.

I'll let the handicap speak for itself right now. I'm going with a chalky group of runners in the $24 variety of my prospective bets. I will watch for scratches and changes right up to post time of Race 6 and then roll the dice. I'll be watching the races on my new set-up: My Mac Mini is now connected to the TV via an HDMI cable and I'm streaming HRTV. I'm pretty excited that horse racing friends are coming over today and we'll be able to enjoy the races and good food, courtesy of Mrs. Turk, in comfort.

Enjoy friends, have fun, Turk out!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Nomination Is In: December 18, 2010; The WL McKnight Handicap

The Turk has enjoyed a handicappers holiday since shutting down is red gel pen after the Clark Handicap nearly a month ago. I think it's important to put the Daily Race Form Past Performances down several times a year and clear your mind, but just like the horses I handicap, if my break is too long I can get dull.

That said, this is a tough time of the year to open the conditions book and find a race that sparks my creative juice. The snow is falling rapidly here near Buffalo, and not being able to see the grass has me thinking longingly for those idyllic days watching the turk course at Arlington and Saratoga. With that, I have the 1 1/2 mile W.L. McKnight Handicap at Calder Race Course to get me thinking about those days that will come again. I thank the talented Sarah K. Andrew for the picture that provides a bit of holiday cheer. Remember, horse pictures make a great Christmas gift, and please go and look at what Sarah has to offer. Lets get after it!

The track condition was firm yesterday but the weather forecast may soften it up just slightly by post time. Typical of a 1 1/2 mile turf race, you find an odd assortment of horses in the field, from proven distance competitors to horses who haven't really fit in anywhere else and the connections are seeing if they like the extra real estate. It's a niche race and its usually run by niche horses. Even the best in the niche don't dominate, so look for value instead of chalk.

Race 11 Calder Race Course Post Time 4:45 ET: The W.L. McKnight Handicap Grade 2; 1 1/2 miles on Turf

The big names are out for this race: Telling, Presious Passion, Prince Will I Am, and Musketier all represent good win opportunity, but I'm looking at Rescue Squad at the right price. After I handicapped (and never before!) I checked the morning line and Rescue Squad is installed at 6-1. Hmmm. A nice last race go around against Grassy in a grade II for the 4 YO son of Dynaformer. The colt has never won at the distance, never raced at Calder, but is training well, had a nice 4f handride in :47 3/5 ths and I'm hoping to find him more like 8-1.

I can't remember the last time I didn't approach my bet strategy from a multi race perspective, but I am today, and I'm taking for me the unusual step of building my handicap and bet strategy at the same time. With that in mind I'm slotting Telling followed by Price Will I Am as Place and Show. Telling, the Little Turk's chalk, is a consistent 6 YO who has won at this distance twice, is 9 of 18 in the money on turf, and strings together good performances. Unfortunately for Telling, since getting freshened after a Grade I win in August he has not been nearly as dangerous. Words like No Kick and Lacked Response aren't great to see, but he's quality horse flesh and I think he'll be somewhere from Place to fourth.

Prince Will I Am is a baby at 3 YO in a niche that is usually filled by older horses. 3 of 3 in the money on turf, he comes in off a wild DQ in the Breeders' Cup Marathon and a win in the Grade I Jamaica.

Presious Passion is always dangerous if left on the lead to long, but I'm expecting he will be reeled back in today.

I'm leaning towards a Superfecta fun built around a matrix of my base handicap. I'll keep the risk low and remember this is more about engaging my brain than anything else.

I'll be back this weekend for some last minute gift ideas for the gentleman horseplayer in your lives. Turk Out!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Nomination is In: November 26, 2010; The Churchill Downs Late Pick Three including the 136th edition of the Clark Handicap

Poor Meriweather Lewis Clark. He did so much for our sport yet died by his own hand at age 53. I remember Mr. Clark every year as the race named in his honor shouts THANKSGIVING to me as much as turkey, stuffing, gravy. It's been a wet and cold few days at Churchill Downs, located on property donated and named for Meriweather's mothers family, the Churchill's, mother Abigail and his cousins John and Henry Churchill. The weather and the track conditions may dictate the outcome of the Late pick Three so you have to decide for yourself if the unknowns are worth dealing with. I'm going to keep my risk/reward threshold reasonable and take a swing for the fences. Let's get after it!

Churchill Downs Race 10-11-12 Late Pick Three first post 5:12 ET

Yesterday at the Downs the turf races moved to the slop. Check the scratches/changes, weather and track condition before doing much with these races. In Race 10 the obvious issue will be if it goes to the main track and who gets scratched. Film Charm will join the crowd if it goes to the main track and he should be a player. I like the James Tafel/Carl Nafgzer combo with Sweetest Song on turf or slop. The four year old gray has had very definable third race bumps in improvement in her cycle and today's the 3rd race in her current cycle. A win at the distance and a big Tomlinson Wet Track rating. Redreamit, with Gomez up for Trainer McPeek has an even bigger wet track Tomlinson and races for the second time after being freshened. I like the way Persuading is working for Trainer Romans, with a :46 and 2/5ths bullet in early November.

In the Clark Handicap, I'm backing Duke of Mischief tepidly. I really like his efforts at 1 1/8 miles early this year and I think he'll be flying at the end. My exacta combo is two horses I haven't backed often and I'm still not sure I didn't get enough sleep or coffee before typing this. Redding Colliery is six of six in the money in 2010 and has a >100 BSF in 5 of past six races. The 4YO may be making a statement for 2011 today. Completing a trifecta of horses I never though much of, Win Willy is a great slop track runner and has won four of last 11 and 8 of last 11 are in the money. Dubious Miss intrigues me and I had the six year old gelding on top on some of my tickets; A solid CD runner and winner, a solid wet track runner, I'm watching the tote board with this one.

It's a nice field with Regal Ransom and Redding Colliery proving some serious pace. Successful Dan is rolling of late with two straight >100 BSF wins by a combined 10 lengths. Giant Oak doesn't win much but isn't bashful about minor awards. Brass Hat is, well, Brass Hat. Not alot of handicapping required. This feels more like a goodbye dance than a legitimate shot, now go prove me wrong grey beard! Demarcation and Apart ran solid Ack Ack Handicaps and they could finish anywhere here.

Again, especially if the track is a mess, have fun but keep the risk reasonable.

My last week's Late Pick 4 at Aqueduct was so-so. I did hit pretty good with Spa City Fever but not enough to be competitive.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends. Turk Out!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Nomination Is In: November 20, 2010: The Aqueduct/NYRA Late Pick 4

That handsome son of Golden Missile is Golden Moka, a crazy 8 month layoff horse who never went past six furlongs before shocking the Canadian horse racing Triple Crown Series with a win at the Turk's home track, Fort Erie. Freshened after a dull effort in late September, and not my chalk here, but clearly capable and a great story for horse racing and his connections.

Golden Moka is carrying top weight will be taking on a nice field of speed in the featured race at Aqueduct and the top race in the Pick 4, the Grade III Discovery Handicap. Let's get after it!

Aqueduct Late Pick 4: Race 6 Post Time 2:48 ET

The weather should be fine but keep your eye on ths scratches/changes as there are alot of "also eligibles" in the two turf races. The dirt should be fast and the turf should be firm.

For my presumptive Pick Four I'll be singling Kid's Kate in the Foil. In the Discovery Handicap for a seven horse field I like the match ups quite a bit. I'm backing Shadwell Stables' Al Muhatsib but Teaks North and Dominant Jeannes will be forces to reckon with.

I'll do my job as a blogger a bit better tomorrow and actually say something about these runners in my post race analysis, and for now will have to let my chart speak for itself.

And finally an overdue review of my losing effort at Churchill Downs Last week. While The Turk picked three of four winners in the Pick Four, it was a dull and uninspired effort. Always be honest with yourself and take days off when you need to.

Stage Magic was 9 out of 9 with with and 6th of 9 with the bettors and he undid my handicap. Moving on. I know Sister Turk, Calvin was up at Churchill Downs.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Nomination Is In: The Churchill Downs Pick 4 including the Grade III Commonwealth Turf

This is the image I've had in my mind for one week now: Zenyatta, passing the crowd, already 15 lengths off the leaders. The next trip past the crowd was one of the most exhilarating stretch runs I've witnessed, maybe ever. It'll be some time until I get that mare out of my head. I had such a wonderful time at Churchill Downs I find myself handicapping the card today with some special motivation: A former USS Louisville shipmate of mine, Tom McFadden, and his family, will be in attendance today and I'm hoping they have a great time. Best of the Breed shipmate! Let's get after it.

Churchill Downs Pick 4 Race 7-8-9-10 First Post 3:36 ET

The Pick 4 sequence is a bit tricky so you'll have to decide what the risk/reward is for you. The first race, a five furlong turf sprint has a handful of horses that should be strong, so I'm going to cover four here and take chances later. Delano, a Mott/Leparoux joint, looks strong in this 2nd off a long layoff. Galientos will attract betting action: A More Than Ready trained by Steve Asmussen with Bridgmohan up, slick on slop, trying turf for the first time. Don't ignore another More Than Ready, Ready to Strike.

Not any easier, Race 8 is a $52,000 N2X on Dirt. I like both the coupled entries, Gold Collection and Film Charm, trained by Bill Mott. I plan on singling with these two and rolling the dice. If you wish to risk a bit more betting capital you have at least three good options with Zermatt, Absinthe Minded, and a minor bid by Tizahit. Zermatt, a son of Tiznow has Desormeaux up for Trainer Pletcher.

Race 9 is the featured Grade III Commonwealth Turf. Trainer McLaughlin has Yankee Fourtune who will attract much attention following his sizzling Hawthorne Derby win in early October that came after a 7+ furlong romp at Saratoga in September. for value, I like Dark Cove quite a bit:back to back 89 BSF on firm turf, Theriot is up for McPeek today and the son of Medaglia d'Oro out of Crystal Cove by Kris S. is intriguing. It should be a pretty darn good race.

Race 10 is a 15K claimer that I'll cover three in and if I'm still alive I'll be pleasantly surprised.

It looks like rain is coming to Louisville, but maybe too late to make much of a difference to the surfaces. Pay attention to scratches and changes and most of all, have fun.

Turk out!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day November 6, 2010: The Breeders' Cup Juvenile as well as final Breeders' Cup Thoughts

The Turk needed a 600 mile ride and a full day and a half to reflect on the events I witnessed at the Breeders' Cup. I offer my unvarnished opinion on Life at Ten and Workforce after I work through my post race analysis of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile which I handicapped for the Thorofan Handicapper's Corner. For those who pay attention to that stuff, my superfecta bet would have netted $535.20 and grossed $857.20 if bet exactly the way I laid out on my Thursday posting. As my regular readers know, I don't advocate ever betting anyone blind; Handicapping is the fun, don't deny yourself that opportunity.

Anyway, it was an impressive showing for Uncle Mo. I had Uncle Mo and Boys of Tosconova rated even going into the race but it was pretty clear at this point in their careers Uncle Mo is superior. With power and professional fractions, Uncle Mo struck the lead and gave the most empathic statement of the weekend.

The most disappointing run of the race for me was Jaycito, who I thought was the best of the synthetic runners transitioning to dirt. I also had J.P's Gusto and J.B.'s Thunder reversed in terms of who would do better on the dirt. What I did well was identify that the chalk was the real deal and I didn't oversell Biondetti, Rouge Romance or Jaycito, which seemed to be fashionable contrarian views. Take the time to watch Jaycito: Clearly not liking dirt in his face, Mike Smith took him way wide and at the top of the stretch brought him back to the rail and he was stretching out nice at the end. He's got a lot to prove on dirt but watch him when he returns to the fake stuff.

Handicapping for exotics is all about "slotting" where the horses will end up within the field. In this race it was identifying that there was a talent gap between 1/2 and the rest of the field and that talent gap was on display. You can still make money betting chalk, as my handicap and bet results prove, but it's a dangerous game friends and you really should walk before you run.

Did you watch how powerful Uncle Mo looked as he pulled away in the final 1/16 of a mile. Power. Speed. I wish we'd get a good ol' fashioned 3 YO campaign where he'd race in January, February, March, the Wood Memorial/Arkansas Derby/Santa Anita Derby (suddenly relevant to dirt again) and then the Kentucky Derby. The idea he will only race twice before the Derby is maddening to me but I'm not a "super trainer".

Speaking of the "Super Trainer", I think its a horrible offense played on the bettors to put Life at Ten in the gate only to watch her cantor about with no real attempt to engage the field. I give credit to Workforce's connection's, especially Michael Stoute, for making what was surely the poor financial but right horse advocate position, to not race in the Breeders'Cup Turf. He protected his horse and he protected the $2 punter and for this he was attacked by the establishment as not being "sporting".

I was also happy that Mine That Bird was retired. I might be 110% wrong but I think Trainer Lukas did a horrible job with this horse and the established voices in horse racing are loathe to criticize him.

My Rodney Dangerfield Eclipse award goes to Fly Down: he hangs around and makes you respect him to hit the ticket. Could be a fun four year old. I'm quite frankly tired of this year's 3 YO's. Looking at Lucky may be the best of the bunch but he's flawed too and may be good but doesn't appear to be great. What was Paddy o' Prado doing in the Classic?

Getting back to the Super Trainer, Quality Road had no business in the Classic. Are you telling me he isn't better than Big Drama who won the $2.0 MM Sprint? Anyone remember the Amsterdam? How about the sporting thing to do and take on Goldikova like Gio Ponti did? I love Quality Road and he's been mismanaged for two years in my moronic and humble opinion. The horse won because he was talented and won in spite of his connections. I love Freddie Head and his lifes arc that lead him to this moment with Goldikova. She is so powerful.

The Turk loves Dakota Phone. I saw him for the first time in a sizzling Place to Rail Trip in the Santana Mile on Santa Anita Derby Day 2009. He makes you forget and then, bam! Same goes for Shared Account, who the Little Turk loves and was rewarded for at 46-1. Here Comes Ben disappointed in front of the home crowd. Did you see the betting action on Sidney's Candy? The bettors third choice, a head scratcher to me, again good, not great. Blame was professional and workmanlike. No reason to say goodbye, I wish he ran next year. I was more impressed by Zenyatta's final 1/2 mile than anything else I saw all weekend. She was wonderful and she has my vote for Horse of the Year although no one cares what I vote.

And in the "this never gets old" category, I bring to you Adolph's reaction following Zenyatta's defeat.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Nomination Is In: The Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs

The Turk took on an assignment at the Thorofan Handicapper's Corner to handicap a winner in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. For better writing and some pretty nifty handicapping, take a swing by the Handicapper's Corner as well as the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance home page for some of the most insightful takes in racing.

Two year old horses are difficult to handicap using my traditional methodology. The reason is that their past performances are fairly scant, with this field of ten averaging 3.2 starts in their careers so far. Instead of worrying about what we don't have, let's take stock in what we do have and figure out how to use it best: We have past performances with 16 Graded Stakes starts combined to glean from, we have basic pedigree information, we have trainer/jockey statistics, quite a bit of video on nearly every entrant, and most of all, we have our experience and feel to guide us. What we don't want is our heads filled with the hype laden articles that are floating around proclaiming the next Arazi or Secretariat; Remember, when looking at the winners of this race you won't find unforgettable careers, mostly mixed racing success and a few very good stallions. Let's get after it!

Post 1 Biondetti: The son of Bernardini was born in Kentucky runs in Godolphin silks for conditioner Mahmood Al Zarooni. 3 for 3 lifetime record with a win at 1 mile on Turf in Italy on a straight away, at 7 furlongs on fake dirt at Kempton and a 7 furlong straight away fake dirt run. He represents Bernadini's first Grade I winner. He's on Lasix for the first time with A. Ajtebi up, the pilot of last year's winner, Vale of York. Let's give Godolphin credit for going on the dirt, something they don't do easily or willingly.

Grade I Gran Criterium San Siro Italy

Take what you can from this turf race. Biondetti surges to the lead under a vigorous ride but never fully extends and the Place horse stops his drive just as he pulls alongside to pass. I have him somewhere around :11 2/5ths for the final 1/8 mile (very unofficial). With this being his first dirt action, I don't see enough to sway me yet but make no mistake, he's a classy horse bred for two turns and dirt shouldnt be a problem.

Post 2: Boys of Tosconova: Dick Dutrow trained, this son of Officer out of Little Bonnet maybe lacking in a Class match-up, but a win at Saratoga in the Grade I Hopeful, a win at Belmont, and a Place in the Grade II Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs makes him one of the major contenders. Watch Boys of Tosconova, with R. Dominguez up, taunt them as he cruises by.

I really like the sharp and regular work that the horse has gotten at 5 and 6 furlongs since early September. Dutrow's stats are impressive anyway, but 25% of his 2 YO's win, 31% of his 60-180 day layoffs win, 30% of his last winners win. Officer was "distance challenged" but Little Bonnet felt comfortable staying and the results are intriguing.

Post 3: J.B.'s Thunder: A son of mighty Thunder Gulch out of Rebridled Dreams, conditioned by Albert M. Stall Jr. for Columbine Stable. Two starts, two wins, including the Grade I Dixiana Breeders' Futurity on fake dirt and a turf win at Saratoga. It's his first dirt effort, but he's got the pedigree for that.

He strikes the lead and he doesn't give it up in either of these races. On Breeders' Cup Friday, few closers got very close to the horse at the front by the 1/8 pole. A nice 4 furlong :47 bullet shows he will strike the lead but will he keep it is the question.

Post 4: J.P.'s Gusto: A son Successful Appeal out of Call Her Magic, trained by David Hofmans for Gem Stable. Six starts already with four Wins and one Place with a Place in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Hollywood, a Win at the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, as well as Grade II and III win. Not shabby but Jaycito seemed better in the last two races and that's what I take away from this. First time dirt as well, he too likes the front.

Post 5: Riveting Reason: Watch the two previous videos of the Norfolk and Del Mar Futurity and you'll find this Maiden. Blinkers on today for Korean Conditioner Cho Myung Kwon, this son of Fusaichi Pegasus will be up against it.

Post 6: Stay Thirsty: Another Bernardini son along as is Biondetti, has one win in three starts and was out finished at 7f by Boys of Tosconova in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga. Trainer Pletcher has worked Stay Thirsty six times since mid September at Belmont with the most impressive at 5f in 1:00 and 1/5th. Pletcher's stats are impressive: 25% winners on over 60 day layoffs, 25% 2YO, 23% sprint to route, 24% two sprints/route, 26% dirt, 22% routes. The horse is uncoupled from stable mate Uncle Mo with Castellano up, no slouch at 20% himself.

Here's the Hopeful again.

Post 7: Uncle Mo: Hard to ignore the hype here. Son of Indian Charlie, from Playa Maya (Arch) ran an incredible Grade I Champagne as the heavy chalk in early October and appears cocked and loaded for a big effort here.

Breaking his maiden by nearly 15 lengths at Saratoga on August 28

Post 8: Murjan: Another son of Officer, out of Miss Jean Cat, this Kentucky born Peruvian runner is also an impressive 3 for 3 winning by a combined 27 3/4 lengths in the process. A surprising amount of video is available, and anyone who follows racing and is on Facebook or blogs knows the passion our South American horse racing friends have! He gets 262 race winner R. Bejarano up and lasix for the first time.

Post 9: Rouge Romance: This son of Smarty Jones trained by Kenny McPeak has three starts, winning two including the Grade III Bourbon at Keeneland. A very sharp 5f bullet in :58 2/5ths over the fake stuff on October 23rd shows very tight form. McPeek wins 21% of his Turf/Dirt switches but is only an 8% (with 92 tries) in Graded Stakes.

Post 10: Jaycito: < This new star from Zayat Stables, trained by Mike Mitchell, is sired by Victory Gallop out of Night Edition .A Place in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity and a Win in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Oaktree at Hollywood. Again, I think he shows the best when compared with other synthetic runners horses.

So what do we make of all this? It's hard to ignore the strong dirt form of Uncle Mo and Boys of Tosconova with the tier just below them being Jaycito and Stay Thirsty. I'm going to look to cover at least three of these horses in a multi race Pick 3 and I'll build what I think is the possible Superfecta outcome for this race. As much as I'd like to show you a long price winning, I just don't see it.

The Turk is taking a handicappers holiday at the Breeders' Cup so I'm sorry if I have disappointed any of my hard core degenerate fans. I'm having too much fun seeing so many of my favorite horses and Little Turk and I are handicapping pretty good winners and straight exactas between races to keep us warm! I am really geeked up to see Gio Ponti, Goldikova, Here Comes Ben, Quality Road, Blame, Haynesfield, and Zenyatta. It's going to be a good day! That's Little Turk above with his 46-1 ticket for Shared Account. He took a position and never wavered. Money Baby

Have fun, Turk out!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Homework Session Part 4

The Turk has a big assignment this week and one that he's woefully prepared to handle: Handicapping the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Readers of The Turk know that I'm not a big fan of the Del Mar, Keeneland or Saratoga baby watch and that two year olds just aren't my bag. That said it's a challenge that I look forward to and its not that I can't or haven't handicapped two year olds, I just don't generally care to.

In order to prepare, I have to do my homework. It's important you understand the players and without alot of information to go by on the PP's, all you really have is your eye, the pedigree, and a leap of faith.

In this fourth and final homework session for this race I present to you Riveting Reason, Rogue Romance, Stay Thirsty and the presumed morning line favorite, Uncle Mo. Let's get after it friends!

Riveting Reason: Trainer/Owner Cho Myung Kwon campaigns this son of Fusaichi Pegasus. The Foolish Pleasure is asking the question on many people's minds now, who is Cho Myung Kwon? With Little Turk hailing from Pusan, South Korea, we are partial to this runner as well.

Riveting Reason was in a good stalking position but never seemed to accelerate here in the Norfolk at the Oak Tree at Hollywood. He was striding nicely, just slow behind Jaycito and J.P's Gusto.

And another uninspiring effort by Riveting Reason in the Del Mar Futurity. Watch it again for Jaycito's strong finish and J.P. Gusto's front running.

Rogue Romance: This son of Smarty Jones trained by Kenny McPeak has three starts, winning two including the Grade III Bourbon at Keeneland. A very sharp 5f bullet in :58 2/5ths over the fake stuff on October 23rd shows very tight form.

Stay Thirsty: Another Bernardini son along with Biondetti has one win in three starts and was out finished at 7f by Boys of Tosconova in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga. Trainer Pletcher has worked Stay Thirsty six times since mid September at Belmont with the most impressive at 5f in 1:00 and 1/5th. Pletcher's stats are hard to gage: 25% winners on over 60 day layoffs, 25% 2YO, 23% sprint to route, 24% two sprints/route, 26% dirt, 22% routes.

And finally, Uncle Mo. A son of Indian Charlie, from Playa Maya (Arch). Pletcher's other Repole Stable runner won in convincing style in the Grade I Champagne.

Breaking his maiden by nearly 15 lengths at Saratoga on August 28

In Zen terms, we should approach this with a beginners mind. Not beginers in the sense of a neopyte handicapper but as one without a hype filled, preconcieved winner already residing within or Turk craniums.

Who's gonna win? Who knows. Uncle Mo will be a safe pick and Boys of Tosconova and Jaycito will be more stylish because of better prices, but I'm not convinced yet. I'll be back tomorrow with an initial base handicap.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Homework Session Part 3

We are back at it tonight as the field of possible contenders has been unveiled. The goal here is to get a cursory knowledge of these two years, watch them in video to see how they handle turns, the gallop out, the final 1/8 miles, and any number of other things. We'll work on the handicapping soon enough, lets get familiar with the players and not let a talking head tell us who the next Azeri is.

Biondetti: The son of Bernardini was born in Kentucky runs in Godolphin silks for conditioner Mahmood Al Zarooni. A 3 for 3 lifetime record with a win at 1 mile on Turf in Italy on a straight away, at 7 furlongs on fake dirt at Kempton and a 7 furlong straight away fake dirt run. Not sure what to make of him but let's not ignore anyone. He is the first Grade I winner from Bernardini.

Grade I Gran Criterium San Siro Italy

Murjan: Another son of Officer, out of Miss Jean Cat (Tabassco Cat), this Kentucky born Peruvian runner is also an impressive 3 for 3 winning by a combined 27 3/4 lengths in the process. A surprising amount of video is available, and anyone who follows racing and is on facebook or blogs knows the passion our South American horse racing friends have!

Madman Diaries: A Bring the Heat son from Breeder/Trainer and part owner Wesley Ward. The lone gelding of the pre entrants. 5 career starts, never out of the money but only one dirt effort, a win in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth, working very well and Ward wins 25% of >60 day layoffs.

Grade III Sapling Stakes won at six furlongs by Madman Diaries.

We'll be back this weekend to feature the remaining members of the expected field including Riveting Reason, Rogue Romance, Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo.

Have fun, Turk out!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Homework Session Part 2

The Turk gets back after his homework assignment, getting ready to handicap the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for the Thorofan Handicappers Corner.

While I'm still doing my homework, I have started to think about my criteria for inclusion into the base handicap top four: Shown an ability to handle two turns, has the pedigree to handle two turns, a race career that shows improvement and not regression, training well with bullets or near bullets, final quarter mile times that make my Turk socks shake, willingness to fight in the stretch for position, dirt or dirt sire ability, doesn't necessarily have to have won final outing. That's my short list, and I've got lots of time to think about handicapping, my issue right now is I just don't know enough about the runners, hence this exercise. Let's get back after it!

Jaycito: This new star from Zayat Stables, Trained by Mike Mitchell, is sired by Victory Gallop out of Night Edition.A Place in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity and a Win in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Oaktree at Hollywood. J.P.'s Gusto , a runner we will soon look at, and Jaycito swapped Win and Place spots in these two big races, so pay close attention.

J.P.'s Gusto: A son of Successful Appeal out of Call Her Magic, trained by David Hofmans for Gem Stable. Six starts already with four Wins and one Place with a Place in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Hollywood, a Win at the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, as well as Grade II and III win. Not shabby.

J.B.'s Thunder: A son of mighty Thunder Gulch out of Rebridled Dreams, conditioned by Albert M. Stall Jr. for Columbine Stable. Two starts, two wins, including the Grade I Dixiana Breeders' Futurity on fake dirt and a turf win at Saratoga. look for other possible starters Maybesomaybenot and Major Gain.

Factum: This son of Storm Cat, out of Starry Dreamer is trained by Aidan O'Brien. There is scant video to be found of him but there are articles o'plenty.

More soon, have fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Homework Session Part 1

The Turk will be handicapping the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for the Thorofan Handicappers Corner on Breeders's Cup Saturday and starting today I'm going to review the contenders, try to sort out the pretenders, and make some sense out of what will surely be a heavily hyped race for several horses, namely Uncle Mo, Boys of Tosconova and Jaycinto.

While we have to wait a spell still to see the final entries, the Turk is going to use available resources here on the internet-thingy to develop a cursory knowledge of the potential field. I'm not sure about you, but anytime a horse starts to become preordained as the heavy chalk I start thinking contrarian: I'm thinking about good prices and value, and if forced to embrace chalk, who will fill out an exotic ticket with the favored equine. Let's get after it!

Another Silver Oak: Three Starts with one win and one show for the son of Bluegrass Cat out of Off the Richter and trained by Todd Pletcher for Owner Repole Stable. His last start was last of eight in the Grade III Sapling Stakes at Monmouth with the video and details here.

At the Grade II Sanford Stakes at Saratoga on July 25th he ran a close third to Maybesomaybenot.

Astrology: Trainer Steve Asmussen conditions this horse for Stonestreet Stables, a son of A.P. Indy out of Quiet Eclipse. Taking a Show and a Win in non graded stakes action in Saratoga, his last effort was a Show from the chalk spot in Garden State Stakes, beaten by Sweet Ducky and Curinello, two others we'll keep our Turkish eyes on.

The Boys of Tosconova: Dick Dutrow trained, this son of Officer out of Little Bonnet maybe lacking in a Class match-up, but a win at Saratoga in the Grade I Hopeful, a win at Belmont, and a Place in the Grade II Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs makes him one of the major contenders. Stay Thirsty and Wine Police have appeared on some lists as expected runners and you'll watch Boys of Tosconova with R. Dominguez taunt them as he cruises by.

That last race, his Maiden smashing race at Belmont, was ultra dominant, but I had to ask myself, who is Officer? A bit about the sire here.

Caleb's Posse: Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel campaigns the son of Posse out of Abbey's Miss. let's just start out with, who is Posse? NY State fans should know. Next up, who is Donnie Von Hemel? We have a Show finish in the Grade III Arlington Park Washington Futurity to look at him in and he raced at Keeneland on October 8th as well.

OK, pencils down for now. Next Up: Factum, Jaycinto, J.B.'s Thunder and JP's Gusto.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day October 16, 2010: The Woodbine Late Pick Four Canadian International Day

The Turk and his sidekick, The Little Turk, have almost 15,000 reasons to smile after today's Late Pick 4 at Woodbine today. I'll be celebrating with a carmel colored cashmere top coat from Jos. A Bank and the Little Turk gets a new Itunes gift card. Mama Turk, well she gets anything she wants.

The Turk preaches modesty, as this game humbles even the best of handicappers regularly, and there is a big difference between celebrating and bragging. I hope this blog entry, while gleaming of celebration, is not interpreted as bragging. So much went right, so much else could have happened, and the results are truly a reflection of an approach I've been developing for nearly twenty years of handicapping. Let's get after it friends!

It's amazing how slowly I complete a post race analysis when I lose compared to when I win, but the one thing I always do is break down my betting effort, good, bad, and often ugly. As I was just saying two weeks ago after another good effort, I prepare my DRF Formulator PP's devoid of morning lines and I eschew pre race hype. Why? It influences me, and with races that are heavy with European runners, that sort of influence really throws me off. After I handicapped I went back and looked at the Morning Lines just to see how we lined up and I wasn't surprised I had a bit of a contrarian view overall. When you handicap and make your picks public, even with a very lightly read blog like this one, you never really want to be embarrassed. The temptation is to follow conventional wisdom and fall in line with what the talking heads are predicting. You've got to learn to not worry about what others think and you have to do your own thinking. No shortcuts.

Woodbine Race 8-9-10-11 Pick Four

The post race analysis told me I was really dialed in today, so much so I think I left behind an equal amount of money that I won still on the table. I try to avoid that type of thinking, that concept of what I woulda-shoulda-coulda did.

In Race 8, The Nearctic, I backed tepidly Amico Fritz (Ger) to win. He had a hard time crossing the Maginot Line in this one, but I had Grand Adventure and Fatal Bullet straight in the Place and Show spots and I had Field Commission and Serious Attitude(Ire) in the Triactor box to take $3,366.10 on a $48 box. A great way to start the day. As I said pre race as well, I was taking four horses in the Pick 4 no matter what and I needed my fourth.

In Race 9, The E.P. Taylor, I pretty much had the top six exact in what was a pretty straight forward affair. I correctly downgraded a horse I am partial too, Mekong Melody (Ire) and placed Miss Keller (Ire) properly above Shalanaya (Ire) and Contredanse(Ire), and had Reggane (GB) fourth while the betting public tabbed him for 6th. The same $48 dollar boxed Triactor this time grossed $526.50 for me. Still alive in the Pick 4 after two.

Race 10, The Canadian International, I had a darn fine handicap with the exception of Mores Wells (GB) flying into the blanket finish. That's racing, and I was correct in downgrading Marsh Side, Simmard, and Fifty Proof, all fine horses, from the top 4. Alive after three after including the Joshua Tree (Ire), the bettors third choice.

Race 11 was a $12,500 maiden claimer that made my head hurt handicapping, but no sense in spending $144 dollars on a Pick 4 bet just to screw up the maiden claimer. I identified three horses, with Disclosure winning as the bettor's second choice.

As I've been trying to illustrate pre race, there are many different ways to approach these multi race bets, with my method being to identify a bet risk I'm willing to take and cut it off there. My Facebook friends know I've been noddling on these races since Thursday morning and I had a $300 budget for the weekend. I built a 4 X 4 X 3 X 3 selection for the Pick Four and could have used almost my entire budget on a $2 bet but I instead placed it for $1. At $144 I was quite pleased to pocket $11,099.55 and I'm doing my best to avoid thinking about what I had planned to be a $2 bet. By staying at $144 I had enough room to place boxed Triactor Bets on the three main races, nearly placing Super bets that would have paid a bundle, but if I'm anything friends, I'm a very disciplined bettor.

Handicapping is an odd mixture of math, pattern prediction, art and feel. I reject the notion that the results are best predicted by computers analyzing pace and heavily modified speed figures. A red gel pen, DRF Past Performances with workouts embedded, fractional times, jockey and trainer stats, and some limited analysis is all I really need, no pre race hype and most definitely no morning lines, track handicappers, celebrity handicappers, bloggers, anyone. I love to read all of that, but after I've committed. A new tool I'm really utilizing is a Ipad App from Equibase that allows me to quickly get information and view video of specific races. Just incredible what information we have available to us now, it's important to keep it all in perspective that in these horse events, the same things happen over and over and over again.

Have fun, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: October 16, 2010; The Woodbine Late Pick Four on Canadian International Day

In horse racing we remember tradition. While we may have inserted corporate names in front of our famous race names, we have, for the most part, resisted forgetting the past. E.P. Taylor is a man who should never be forgotten, and his influence in North American racing is almost impossible to underestimate. His stallion, Northern Dancer, has left a legacy of influence not only in North America but also Europe, as the Sire of Great Sires and we remember him constantly at this blog through our respect for Storm Cat, Deputy Minister, El Prado, and Danehill.

The four race series I've selected today are not for the faint of heart but that's why we call this gambling. Let's get after it!

Woodbine Race 8-11

When you handicap turf racing at the highest level in North America, you have more homework to do than usual. You will be faced with horses who have never raced in North America, placed on drugs that help with bleeding but also give a good boost to performance, with past performances that deny you the type of information you are use to having, and then the people factors: Why did the connections send this horse? What are they thinking? Is he better than it shows on paper? Did he race better left handed or right handed? Was there a significant performance difference over different turf conditions? You really need to watch the big Grade I races and get a feel for how these races are contested. The Turk loves dirt and embraces it as the surface of American horse racing tradition. That said, I love the grass and the challenge of handicapping these races, with big fields, lumbering fractional times and smoking hot final 1/8 miles.

As always, start your homework with track conditions and scratches/changes. With turf, it's often the weather over the past several days you have to consider, so hunt for the best information you can find.

Race 8 is the Nearctic, 6 furlongs on the turf and returns last year winner, Field Commission. Winless in six starts in 2010 and he adds blinkers today. The Turk's very tepid chalk is Amico Fritz (Ger). With Mike Smith, up, the Grade II winner to me represents good value and a legitimate shot. Serious Attitude is a 4 YO filly with Gomez up and taking lasix for the first time should be even longer and a little less live, but still intriguing. Fatal Bullet and Grand Adventure will give honest efforts and Bridgetown will attract bettors interests but I'm looking elsewhere.

This is a pretty solid field of runners and I will back four in this race and hope to be alive coming out of this first race when I'm done. Dubious, but that's the plan!

Race 9 is the E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4 mile turf affair with 10 starters that also returns last year's winner at 44-1, Lahaleeb (Ire). Two stronger home track runners are here from the Roger Attfield stable, Mekong Melody (Ire) and Miss Keller (Ire). They are faced with a very strong contingent of European runners led by Shalanya (Ire), Reggane (GB) and Contredanse (Ire) . I'm backing Miss Keller, the winner of the Grade II Canadian at 1 1/8 miles over a good Woodbine turf track one month ago. Attfield is clipping along at 29% winners of Won Last Start runners and he has Castellano up. Arkarlina (Fr) is a Grade III winner who may be peaking.

In the big event, the Grade I Canadian International, I'm expecting the bettors chalk, Redwood (GB) will continue to impress. Winner of the Grade I Northern Dancer on firm turf at 1 1/2 miles here one month earlier, if he keeps his form he'll need it as he's facing a more impressive group here. He'll be pressed by Grade I winning Chinchon (Ire), who shocked me with his very impressive turn of foot over firm Monmouth turf in the Grade I United Nations. A very impressive "Zenyatta like" swing wide to the outside from dead last at the top of the stretch and just bury everyone. He's bouncing back off a dull race in France on soft going in September. Al Khali and Marsh Side are both honest horses who will run solid but I expect them to be near the bottom or off any tickets. Joshua Tree (Ire) is slightly intriguing and you have to wonder why he's here and what he's capable of and the Attfield runner, Simmard is running his second off a longer than 180 day layoff and looked sharp coming back against Al Khali and Winchester at 1 3/8 on firm Belmont turf.

The Pick Four ends for me with a $12,500 Maiden Claimer. The 13 and 14 horses, Hazards of Love and Disclosure with Da Silva and Husbands up, offer a chance to take chalk and keep the Pick Four bet size a bit smaller, and the 9, Danish Spirit, represents some good value.

Tough races for sure. Build your own handicaps, read drivel like this only after you make your own tickets up, and above all else, have fun handiguessing the best sport on earth. Turk out!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day October 2, 2010; The Belmont Park All Grade I Pick Four

A picture from the wonderful Sarah K. Andrew of Haynesfield, winner of the 2010 Jockey Club Gold Cup and the key horse that powered a Turk 1-800-Hammer Iron Cold Lock $2,595 Pick 4 win.

The Turk spent about 2 hours handicapping these four races and then another 90 minutes posting my blog entry. That's the sort of effort I can't put in while I'm sitting in the stands at the track but today, in my home study, I felt it and I played it.

As I say all the time friends The Turk never, never, ever brags. This game is humbling. I consider myself a good handicapper but what does that really mean? At the end of the day, nothing because nobody is right all the time. I hear often that the races are run on dirt (or grass) and not on the paper past performances. While true, the beauty of the Daily Race Form Past Performance (Yes I'm an unpaid and unsolicited spokesperson and my preference is Deluxe Formulators with full trainer stats, split times and works mixed in with race results, and I like the handicapper notes but not the morning lines) is that all the information is there to make informed decisions and good handicaps.

The Turk admits to his closet friends that I don't think you even need to watch the races to handicap well. I went years before Youtube/HRTV/TVG etc where I almost never saw video of the races I handicap and bet. The information is there on paper. Flukes happen all the time, but over the long haul, the best horses at the right point in their form cycle and entered in the right place in the conditions book win.

One piece of information I completely ignore and I encourage my readers to completely ignore is morning lines. Don't let the Turk, morning lines, anyone, tell you who is going to win before you come up with your own base case model. Sometimes I'll look after I bet, sometimes I'll look after I take my handicap final, but it will influence you and influence is the enemy. You're smart friends, you don't need bias. I also skip the hype filled articles chock full with BS quotes from trainers and connections about why their horse will win. The articles are a bias of the writer and they will screw you up. Enjoy the articles after you commit to a handicap, as the writing of turf journalists is very high quality and reflects well on the spirit of Mr. Joe Hirsch on the day we remember him.

What was the key today for The Turk? Losing my last two weeks Pick Fours bets most assuredly: Woodbine Mile day two weeks ago and Gallant Bloom day at Belmont last weekend. I'm competitive and I hold this blog and my handicapping to a high standard. My post race analysis is really a post bet analysis and what my post race analysis has been telling me is that I've been nailing winners but not covering enough. I've been on a heavy "less is more" kick and perhaps I took it too far. I had a $200 budget today and I covered who I thought I needed to and spent $144 dollars and then I placed a $20 bet on one horse to win, the horse I suggested was the horse to beat Blame, Haynesfield. Do I think he's better than Blame, no, but the NY bred loves NY dirt as much as Blame loves Churchill Downs. So that was my secret, I was pissed I lost the past two weekends and resolved to not lose again. If Blame wins, if Paddy O' Prado wins, if Unrivaled Belle wins, I'm talking about a Pick Four win that doesn't justify the betting risk. It takes luck too and luck isn't anywhere to be found on a past performance.

Belmont Park Late Pick Four Races 7-8-9-10

So what really was powering my results: I included Ave (bettor's sixth highest choice) in my bet even though I soured on her after the Beverly D. I mentioned pre-race my respect for Attfield/Castellano and I was rewarded. I got the obvious 8th Race right by covering Life at Ten (bettor's second choice) even though I was concerned the speed duel with Rachel Alexandra may have set her back. I rated Winchester high (second bettor's choice) even though I never expected the bettor's to rate him so high, but again the key was I refused to accept the fact that Blame was unbeatable, I refused to consider Rail Trip, and I believed in Haynesfield and I said so.

$2,680 gross earnings on a bet of $164 dollars. Good Stuff indeed.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: Belmont Park October 2, 2010; The All Grade I Pick 4

It's hard to put into words what Joe Hirsch represents to me. You meet so few people in life that you can say that their integrity is without question. You meet so few people in life that did things their way and in the process defined themselves through an unyielding pursuit of perfection within their careers. The greatest tribute to any person is to remember them after they pass away. Elites in society since the dawning of the Enlightened Age built monuments to their greatness while on Earth and their names adorned these physical objects long after their bones turned to dust. Mr. Joe Hirsch isn't remembered because he built a bridge or a building, but because he was revered, honored by the sport that he served. When you wonder what happened to the greatness of horse racing, ask yourself where the dignity and culture of horse racing went to. Ask yourself if dignity can be found at an off track betting parlor. Ask yourself where are the ambassadors to the sport and where its cultural relevance is. Joe's voice has been replaced by legion. The new media has expanded to fill the void left by fading newspaper and magazine coverage. Joe's legacy in print carried on, Joe's legacy of grace, integrity, class and style needs to find its Renaissance. The greatest sport on earth cannot be diminished by the failings of it's human leaders and lets hope that someone will one day have the chance to the next Joe Hirsch instead of toil in virtual anonymity. Let's get it on!

Belmont Park Race 7-10 Late Pick Four

It's wonderful to find weekend after weekend relevant racing at Belmont in the fall and today's edition of Jockey Club Gold Cup Day is no exception. Today is the last prep for many of these horses whose next stop is The Breeders' Cup in early November. The Turk spent most of the week in the greater NY area, and while he would have liked to have stayed for the event in person, he's going to enjoy it plenty with Little Turk from the comfortable surroundings of home, but we are getting pretty excited about our road trip to Louisville for the Breeders' Cup, now just a few short weeks away.

We have an interesting and challenging pick Four in front of us, made more challenging by the incredibly wet weather to hit Elmont in the past few days. Without a very warm sun, the idea that the track or turf will improve to fast or firm seems unrealistic. Make sure your first stop is to See the track conditions, the current weather, and the scratches and changes, as factors beyond the past performances may seriously alter the landscape. I based my handicap on yielding turf and a sloppy main good main track.

In Race 7 we have the Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational . Making arguably the most anticipated arrival from Japan since Casino Drive is Red Desire, grand daughter of Sunday Silence. This 4 YO has beaten and been beaten by some of the best Grade I international talent out there. Getting Lasix for the first time, I'm downgrading just slightly because of the track conditions she'll face, even with wily K. Desormeaux up (not my pick at Belmont all things being even). I'm backing for her first win in 5 starts in 2010 Forever Together. A disappointing last race in Saratoga for Sheppard's runner, I like her on the softer turf and I think Sheppard is a master at preparing for a season's big moment, and the next six week is the season for this Champion. Gomez up. The race features plenty of questionable current form and I like Shared Account, training well since the Diana to be fresh. Trainer Motion is clipping along at 24% off 61-180 day layoffs. I backed Ave (GB) in the Beverly D. and was shocked that she was the post time chalk and she didn't handle the race that well. Has shown an ability to come back strongly in first race back off layoff and has handled soft turf very well in the past. Attfield and Castellano combine for 44% winners on 9 starts. I'd be shocked if Kertanna came up for better than Show. I'm thinking superfecta this race as well and will back three most likely for the P4.

Race 8 is the Grade I Beldame. A six horse field is packed with quality and a bunch of horses who are glad to stop being measured against Rachel Alexandra. Desormeaux, up on Unrivaled Belle, gets my nod here. Trainer Mott at 20% winners on 61-180 day layoffs and the girl has been resting since two Grade I's where she ran a flat effort from the Place spot and couldn't advance and refused to retreat. Came on most people's radar with her stunning defeat of Rachel Alexandra at Churchill Downs, the race where you had to start to worry if the defending Horse of the Year would ever regain her 2009 form. Persistently, the latest Rachel Alexandra slayer, seems to be in a good spot in her form cycle and I like the Phipps Stable runner to give a strong effort today. Life At Ten has four wins in five starts and gave an incredible effort in a bizarre speed duel with the previously oft mentioned Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign. I have no reason to believe that effort took a toll on the 5 YO Malibu Moon mare but that's what I'm saying. Bonnie Blue Flag snuck in under the radar ever so slightly in the Grade I Test and has been training awfully well for Baffert who puts Gomez up. Depending on the price at post time, I may W-P-S this 3 YO Mineshaft daughter.

In Race 9, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic I'm leaning towards Never on Sunday (Fr), another in a long line of Biancone strong turf runners. An eleven horse field, the turf will weigh in on the outcome and as usual, a strong late kick from a pack of horses 1/8 out will be the margin of victory. Paddy O' Prado will get lots of play, rightly so, but facing older horses is never easy and it's the longest race he's run, something is 274 Tomlinson Rating discounts. Those ratings are a minor tool so don't get too hung up on that, I just like others here, like Winchester, trained by turf master craftsman Clement. Should be one hell of a race!

And in the main event, Race 10's Jockey Club Gold Cup, I'm inclined to single Blame but I'm going to take the extra expense and slip in a value horse, which to me Haynesfield is. one win on sloppy dirt and a 460 Tomlinson rating for the 4 YO Speightstown son, toss the Whitney and focus on the Suburban and his 4 wins at Big Sandy, with R. Dominguez up, and a trainer/jock combo clipping away at 32% at BEL. In a real contrarian view, I'm discounting Rail Trip who will have real mud tossed in his 5 Yo face for the first time and instead backing Darley runner Tranquil Manner to bring a good price onto the ticket. I never know what to do with Fly Down.

Last week's post race analysis is up below after the Turk couldn't get to it in a busy week. I had a nice Superfecta win in the first race and ended up slightly ahead on a day when I got little right. Always be honest with yourself about the good work and your bad.

Post Race Analysis of the Late Pick 4 at Belmont September 25, 2010.