Saturday, February 20, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day February 20, 2010; The Fountain of Youth and P3 Plus Risen Star and Southwest Stakes

That handsome gentleman to the left, Mr. Red Auerbach, I didn't personally know. What I do know is the look of satisfaction with his cigar and the quiet reflection that comes when smoking one either in solitude or in the company of good men. The Turk had a major win today at the Fountain of Youth and he celebrated with a Rockey Patel Vintage 1999 Churchill. A very good cigar indeed and a handicap and constructed bet I'm quite estatic about.

Readers of the Turk know that he doesn't gloat and holds dear a handicappers creed that reminds him to stay grounded because for every good handicap there are several bad ones.

Without gloating I can say that today's win was about building a good base handicap, taking a stand on a horse to hit the top four that the betting public hated, and taking the time to construct a matrix of superfecta bets instead of relying on expensive boxed bets or 10 cent versions that return only 10% of the joy a person could receive.

Let's go!

Gulfsteam Park Race 8 - Race 9- Race 10

Fair Grounds Race 10

Oaklawn Park Race 10

The Gulfstream Park Pick 3 was an All Stakes Pick Three that ended up being won by two chalks and a bettor's third choice. The payout was pretty pathetic and clearly not worth the risk, but it's always better to win then loose and I strung together a winning pick three.

As I said pre race, I decided to bet the individual races as exactas. The D'funnybone/A Little Warm combo got the day started off on the right foot.

My Race 9 gamble on Rahy's Attorney did not pay off and I was left empty handed on the exacta but was still alive in the Pick 3 with the win by Courageous Cat.

Race 10, the Fountain of Youth, is where I did my good work today. It starts for me with the base handicap, devoid of as much pre race hype as possible. It's not easy to avoid hype of these Derby Trail contenders. This is the time of the year where 20 or so horses are treated/viewed as the next big thing. Some of the horses that lost today are very good runners, and the trainers know that the Derby is won in May and not in February, but being flat is being flat, and after each one of these prep races some stars will rise and some stars will fall. Buddy Saint's star fell and Eskendereya and Jackson Bend's stars rose or stayed high.

The bet was a matrix variety. It's the sort of bet I can construct in the quiet of my den but I could never pull off at the track. I took a stong opinion on the race; I thought that Buddy's Saint and Jackson Bend would both be either 1st or 2nd, I thought Aikenite could be anywhere from 2nd to 4th, I then placed Pleasant Prince in the 3rd and 4th spots and I settled on Eskendereya in all four spots. If Buddy's Saint finishes in the top two I'm writing about a nice $100 dollar superfecta and instead I'm writing about a $1400 dollar winner because I looked at the PPs and took a contrarian view on Pleasant Prince; A Wesley Ward trainee who had a nice progression of Beyers's, especially a last race 1 1/8 Mile 88 BSF and then three straight 5 furlong works over a 14 day period culminating in a handride at 1:00 1/5 seconds. I liked Ward's 21% off 31 day layoffs and 31% dirt score. Curent form, current form, current form! Buddy's Saint hasn't raced since November and his work isn't that impressive. Hype? Maybe, I think he's a quality colt and we'll see what he does when he runs back.

I was too giddy to do anymore serious betting and I had a Risen Star handicap that was a complete disaster and a Southwest Stakes handicap that was pretty good with the exception of Dryfly who just didn't feeling like driving for home when he should have been driving for home. Falling star, check.

Thanks to Mr. Tony Bada Bing for pointing out to the Turk the image I had choosen was Mr. Red Auerbach, it didn't occur to this old Celtics fan so shame on me.

Good Stuff! Turk Out.

The Nomination Is In: February 20, 2010; Gulfstream Park Pick 3 with Fountain of Youth as well as Risen Star & Southwest Stakes

Spectacular, Spectacular.
Finally a weekend set of races to get excited about! With last Monday's cancellation of the Southwest Stakes card at Oaklawn Park and a reschedule for today we find ourselves with some very nice three year old action and the races I'm handicapping here contain 35 Triple Crown nominations. I'm skipping a race at Fair Grounds because of time constraints but some Turk favorites General Quarters, Friesan Fire and Giant Oak are going at it and Giant Oak will be taking the main track and scratching from the turf event.. Good Stuff, let's go!

Gulfstream Park Races 8-10; Fair Grounds Race 10; Oaklawn Park Race 10
(spreadsheet attached)

The Fountain of Youth is a thin collection of horses, with the class being Jackson Bend and Buddy's Saint and this Turk is intrigued by the Pletcher trainee Eskendereya who is stepping up in class today. Radiohead (GB)has scratched from the Hutcheson.

Overall, I have no particular bet strategy yet. At Gulfstream Park I plan on betting the Pick Three with a reasonable 2 X 3 X 3 base bet for $18. I'll e looking at exacta's in the individual races. At Oaklawn and Fair Grounds I'm looking for exactas and 10 cent super's.

I'm late to the party today so instead of blathering, I'm going to check out and work out my bets. I'm watching HRTV and the conditions and weather at these tracks looks very good so don't worry about that. Enjoy and I'll be more verbal in the post race.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Map of the Universe

OK, not really, perhaps just a map of the universe for horseplayers like me who travel all the time and are always on the hunt to visit some new racetrack along the way. At a real honest to goodness blog as opposed to the tom foolery that goes on here at the Turk, our fellow Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance Member Cangamble has produced this wonderful map resource listing all racing locations (minus the California Fairs-sorry you hardcore fair types) and as well as embedded information such as track takeout and an address for the GPS. Really good stuff and I encourage you to bookmark this map either here or at the Cangamble site for future reference.

View Thoroughbred Racetracks in a larger map

My suggestion is to click "view in a larger map" hyperlink which will open up a seperate window and free you from the stodgy confines of Ye'Ol Turk.

So much good to be found on this internet thingy. I encourage all my readers who haven't yet found Cangamble to visit and return regularly. This is one blog that has their finger on the reasons for the long painful death of the horseplayer in North America. Start your day at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance homepage or Raceday360 for all the best in horseracing news.

Thanks Cangamble. Turk Out!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Wire Players Dirty Dozen Volume III; February 17, 2010

The latest Wireplayers Dirty Dozen of Kentucky Derby contenders is out. It's a curious time on the Derby trail as so many of the top contenders have yet to get their first or second races under their tack as we approach the 3/4 mark of February. If Trainers and Connections want three starts before the Derby, well do the math, they are going to be running back on maybe 3 weeks rest somewhere along the line. How things have changed!

The Turk likes to think of himself as fairly contrarian. Generally that means as long as he doesn't say too much, wears his glasses and carries a copy of Atlas Shrugged around folks will think he's smart. I'm fairly contrarian in regards to the best of the three year old crop but don't mistake that for smart, I'm just perplexed. I'm a numbers guy who is starved for numbers. I don't want to stare at the 1/4 mile times for the Grade I Hopeful anymore. I'm a trips fella, and I want to see a real trip, not Eightyfiveinafifty's Cheech and Chong idea of a trip.

Alrighty, enough blather. Some very fine folks contribute to this pool and I suggest you follow the hyperlinks to their blogs for cutting edge opinions. You're welcome to stay here while I gaze deeply at the track, with my copy of Pablo Neruda's 20 Love Poems and wonder if I'm brilliant or just some bald nut referring to himself in the third person!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Nomination Is In: February 15, 2010; The Southwest Grade III and Oaklawn Pick Four

Friends and readers, please let us remember our fallen stars and as I ponder the races today at Oaklawn Park I think about a Southwest Stakes winner, Lawyer Ron. A Woodward and Whitney Stakes winner, winner of the Rebel Stakes, Risen Star Stakes, The Southwest Stakes and the Arkansas Derby, he died tragically from colic less then a year ago. Rest in Peace Lawyer Ron.

The Turk is enjoying a Padron Family Reserve from the confines of his office in snow covered Western new York. A new year's resolution of mine was to attend this year's Arkansas Derby, but with Rachel and Zenyatta racing a day before, I now wonder how I will gain access to the track for less then the insane prices I'm seeing tickets be offered for. If any of my readers have a suggestion, please let me know.

Today I'm thinking about a sensible Pick Four that centers around the Southwest. These bets can get expensive so never bet more then you are prepared to lose. As I tell my non horse racing fans, compared to the s**t that is offered as entertainment these days, I'm OK with moderately priced gambling activity as my main source of pleasure. We all make our own choices!

Let's get it on! As always, follow procedure: Weather, Scratches/Changes and Tote Board.

Oaklawn Park races 7-10 including the Southwest Grade III

In the featured Southwest I'm backing Conveyance. Trained by Hall of Fame b. Baffert with Go-Go Gomez up, comes to his first dirt race off Grade III San Rafael and the fake dirt. A key race, his second effort off 45-180 layoff for the son of Indian Charlie. I'm not a big fan of taking horses on a new surface and betting them on top but I'm taking a chance on current form and ability and I think he's catching some of the others at a good time in the season.

Dryfly comes in off a pedestrian yet driving win in the Smarty Jones. Borel is up on the gelding for trainer Whiting who has pedestrian trainer stats but a win over the surface and looks very good right now.

I have Pleasant Storm and Dublin rated about equal here but only because of the long layoff and trouble that Dublin has had since his Grade I Hopeful. A very key race for Dublin to show some improvement but a win isn't an overwhelming need. Pleasant Storm is training well and goes over Oaklawn surface for second time in a month.

There is a solid middle tier of runners with Mission Impazible, Cardiff Giant and Kitty's Turn that could all hit the final ticket. Pletcher's Mission Impazible is winless on dirt, beaten by a head at GP and returns with J. Velaquez up. Cardiff Giant is the field leader with 10 starts but his first on dirt for trainer Periban with Santiago Reyes up. I like this gelding but not to win here.

I'm looking at a 2 X 2 X 3 X 2 pick four for a reasonably priced ticket of $24. Some pretty tough races make up the pick four, with a nice field in a Maiden Special Weight in race 7 that contains four Triple Crown nominees. I have two in the race but I really Madrid, running for Tim Ice who could use some good karma and I may insert Madrid later which would increase my bet to $36. That may be outside what I'm willing to lose today so I reserve the right to single Race 10 with Hayn Dawg.

Race 8 is a 5.5 furlong OC40K/N2X that I liked four horses in and I'm excluded Praderoso and Hidden Bay at my peril and Race 10 is a Maiden 15K affair with a 12 horse field and three pretty solid runners with the previously mentioned Hayn Dawg, Kygar and Stormin J D.

OK friends, have fun and Turk Out!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day February 13, 2010: The Sam F. Davis Handicap Grade III at Tampa Bay Downs

It's only fitting that a blog I started to enjoy horse racing analysis with my son, the Little Turk, that he provides me the inspiration to string a good exacta together for a nice win in yesterday's Grade III Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. Little Turk turns 10 years old today and his handicapping skills continue to improve: With no concern for Beyers, T-Graphs, Raggies or Late Speed Rations he asked which horse had a legitimate shot at Place at a good price. He settled on Schoolyard Days. Good Stuff!

Race 10 Tampa Bay Downs: The Sam F. Davis Handicap; 1 1/16 miles miles on fast dirt for 3 YO's

The Turk clan had an engagement to attend yesterday so no time for intricate Pick Three betting, or more specifically, no time to blog about it, but The Turk was convinced that Rule was the real deal and that Uptowncharliebrown at 1 1/16 miles was not. I did exactly like I said I would do in my pre race analysis and strung two exacta's together, one with my base handicap and the other with The Little Turk's choice for place. It paid off a handsome $20.60.

The Derby trail is starting to take form. We'll be back tomorrow for a Pick Three at Oaklawn with the Southwest Stakes mixed in.

Happy Valentines Day friends and readers, Turk(s) Out!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Nomination Is In: February 13, 2010; The Sam F. Davis Handicap; 1 1/16 miles on Dirt at Tampa Bay Downs for 3 YOs

While not a track I find myself playing often, the Turk turns his early eye on Tampa Bay Downs for today's Sam F. Davis Handicap. Five of the 366 early Triple Crown Nominees are in action including a few who have been making the Wire Players Dirty Dozen pool of Kentucky Derby Contenders. Good Stuff, let's get after it!

Remember to always make your checks: Scratches and Track Condition, Weather and Tote Board. The track website isn't updated at this moment, but I'm going to assume for now we end up with Fast Dirt and make some considerations for an offtrack as I go.

Race 10 Tampa Bay Downs: The Sam F. Davis Grade III; 1 1/16 Miles on Dirt for 3 YO's

I like the son of Roman Ruler by Fusaichi Pegasus, Rule in this race. Trained by T. Pletcher with J. Velazquez up. First race off long layoff, his last two races were top shelf 1 mile affairs, one on fast dirt and another in the slop and handled both well. Capable of early tactical :22 and change speed and his last race showed a competitive edge with a 1/4 mile duel for the Grade III win.

I'm going to back Middle of the Nite for Place but on a few tickets I'm going to take a chance with Little Turk's chalk, Schoolyard Dreams. Middle of the Nite comes in for a 2nd race off >45 day layoff, something Trainer Albertrani hits 26% of the time. I like Albertrani's Graded Stakes 28% stat as well. Schoolyard Dreams is a bullet working fiend with a nice non bullet work from the gate as well recently. Blinkers On today for Trainer D. Ryan and carrying 6 pounds less then Rule and 2 less then Uptowncharliebrown.

Haven't mentioned Uptowncharliebrown yet have I? Two races under his belt at 6.5 and 7f with Trainer Seewald who stretches out runners from sprint to routes for wins 7% of the time and is only a 9% route race winner. A morning line 2-1, he'll attract money, and maybe rightly so, but I'm going to take a stand against him and see what we can do. This is gambling afterall.

The rest of the field seemed pretty blah to me, with Silver Craft the best of the bunch.

Turk will be back later with some stakes racing and pick three's from Santa Anita. I'm off to see Little Turk do his thing at a karate tournament.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day February 6, 2010; The Late Pick Three at Gulfstream Park

Some days as a handicapper you are out seeking to strike the gold. Other times, well, you just get tin. A pick three win is a pick three win, and I never turn them away, but today's affair at Gulfstream Park was a walk through the land of obvious. That said, there is still money to be made stringing chalks together into sensible bets and I found a way to double my investment, so let's stop rambling and get after it!

Gulfstream Park: Race 9 - Race 10 - Race 11

I picked the three race series at Gulfstream Park along with a three race series at Santa Anita on Thursday and started noodling on it during coffee breaks Friday afternoon. Looking at it with morning lines and scratches, it seemed to be a challenging collection of races with some nice horses competing in three graded stakes races, one of which being one of the early season highlights for me, The Donn Handicap. Once I started to handicap the races in earnest a completely different picture emerged.

In race 9 a smallish field of six at first glance with one runner, Adiago (GB) there only to provide a rabbit. I thought pre-race that this was a two horse race with Court Vision my expected winner and I thought Take the Points would run very strongly. While on paper Never on Sunday appears to be an imposing force, he was a mess in the paddock and needs a bit more time to adjust. This just wasn't a betting opportunity and I'm glad I didn't throw money at the trifecta and superfecta as I had planned too, as the risk/reward just wasn't there. I don't really have an opinion on the take down of Take the Points. A straight exacta win wouldn't have been possible without the DQ. I was alive in the Pick 3 and I moved on to Race 10 in which I had a single runner.

Race 10 was a thing of beauty for Quality Road. When he reached the top of the stretch, in that short 23 second ish burst to the wire a year's worth of frustrations and unfulfilled promise faded away. This is a horse of the highest caliber and the Older Horse and Horse of the Year campaign has gotten off to a very fast start. Can either Rachael Alexandra or Zenyatta beat Quality Road right now (or at the Breeders' Cup Classic) is the question that is now more interesting to me. A Track record for the beast from Virginia. There was a bunch of very like-abled horses behind Quality Road and I took a stab at a five horse Superfecta that didn't work out but I was alive after the second leg of the Pick Three.

And then in Race 11, the Grade III Suwannee River Handicap my strongest opinion was on Tottie (GB) whom I dropped a rare win bet on early today when I thought he'd be like 8-1 only to find him the bettor's top choice. His win secured my Pick Three which paid a paltry $15. I seemed to have liked Cable more then the bettor's did and wrapping him into an exacta with Tottie proved to be lucrative.

Take The Points and somebody other then Tottie would have made the payout a bit more palatable but it is what it is.

I'm glad to hear that Eightyfiveinafifty was not hurt too badly in the bizarre incident at today's Whirlaway Stakes at the Big A.

Enjoy! Turk Out.

The Nominations Are In: February 6, 2010; Gulfstream Park Races 9-11 Pick Three

"Hey good looking, what cha' got cooking."

The handsome four year old son of Elusive Quality to the left is the Turk's heavy chalk in today's Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, Quality Road. Our gate loading bashful superhero is the headliner in a late pick three that includes the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the Grade III Suwannee River. Good Stuff!

We thank Sarah K. Andrew for the wonderful photo of Quality Road chillin' at Saratoga, please visit Sarah's website when you get a chance, you won't regret it! Let's get it on.

Gulfstream Park Race 9 - Race 10 -Race 11: Race 9 post time 5:18 ET (spreadsheet attached).

Keep checking the scratches, as there have already been four scratches from Race 11 and just as I'm writing this, You and I Forever just scratched from the Donn. The weather has been dry but that can change and you can find the hour by hour at the hyperlink. The track is currently listed as fast and the turf as good.

I smoked a Gurkha Dragon Fury as I handicapped. It was heavy and meaty, and it was a bit too lumbering for me. My mood was already a bit sour with Santa Anita closing again with the heavy rains and an all weather track that doesn't drain.

In Race 9, a smallish field of six horses go to the gate. I've been a big Court Vision fan, Mr. R. Duttrow not withstanding, and I like him in this spot. Trainer Duttrow has just gaudy stats, but the 32% on wins off a 60 day layoff and 25% of routes are pretty hard to ignore. R. Albarado is up. I'm taking a low risk approach today and I'm only looking at a second choice, Take The Points for the pick three selection. If I bet the race and I'm looking for possible value, Yate's Black Cat most likely will be the 4th or 5th bettor's favorite and has a legitimate shot coming off a nice GP 1 1/8 turf win January 22.

In Race 10, The Donn Handicap, I'm singling Quality Road. That said, I like the exotic opportunities here although 10 Cent Supers aren't in fashion, I'll be looking at my base handicap and the tote board to find some value exactas. I'm a fan of Delightful Kiss and I'm happy to see him go to the starting gate today. Duke of Mischief and Kiss the Kid cannot be ignored.

And finally Race 11, because I'm at 2 X 1 so far, I'm going to add five choices to this race and we'll see if we are still alive if we can't find a way to not screw this up! I don't really like any of these runners that much but the top four in my base handicap I think are all capable and I like Long Approach and Cable the best.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Wire Players Dirty Dozen Kentucky Derby Contenders Volume II

Steve at has issued his second list of Derby Contenders as the Trail starts to warm up in earnest soon. It's early, but it's never too early to start talking.

Steve has assembled an eclectic group of voices to chime in every two weeks on the Derby contenders and The Turk is happy to provide my humble insights to the list. Click on the links in the chart to go to the various voters blogs, all of them are highly recommended.

Have Fun, Turk Out!