Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wire Players Dirty Dozen Poll Now Out and TBA Week Kicks Off

The sixth edition of the Wire Players Dirt-y Dozen Poll is now out. Almost everything and virtually nothing has been revealed by the prep races I've witnessed and handicapped this Kentucky Derby season, so hence I brought the lovely Detective Turk in to help me decipher the evidence and solve this deepening mystery. The top two remain the same from the fifth edition, and while neither raced, both had bloggers a flutter with their choices in where to run next, their last prep races before heading to Churchill Downs. Looking at Lucky, with a dirt win that answered the question of how he would take to the surface secured in The Rebel, heads to The Great Race Place for the Santa Anita Derby. Trainer Baffert clearly wants to win the Kentucky Derby and he clearly doesn't think running the Santa Anita Derby will hurt his chances. I won't question him, not my place, and perhaps it helps as bettors may be inclined to not make him such a heavy chalk on race day and instead back the last best dirt effort they see. That very well could be our #2 horse, Eskendereya who will take on a nice field of potential Derby contenders and at a minimum, a solid collection of the current 3 YO crop at the Wood Memorial. If Jackson Bend, Awesome Act or Schoolyard Dreams wildly impresses, as did I Want Revenge's stunning poor gate exit and rousing last year's win proves, the winner could be the morning line favorite in Kentucky over a synth prep horse, as was the case with Pioneerof the Nile last year as well.

Wire Players Dirty Dozen Volume VI

TBA Week kicks off now and its our way of highlighting what a resource we are to horse racing fans.

The Turk is a proud member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance, a growing collection of voices in the new media talking about horse racing from various angles. Our home web page contains an agregate of not only TBA blogs but blogs and newsfeeds from all over the horse racing world. We also have our TBA standings, a Past Performance engine and a Daily Race Form PP coupon. All good stuff!

We also have a link to our Twitter page. The TBA has over 1,350 followers and there have been over 7,000 tweets to date! If you are like me and need a race winner sooner then the 45 minutes it takes DRF to post a result, Twitter is great for instantaneous results.

We also have a link to our TBA Facebook Page. We have over 850 fans and it's a great place to meet the folks behind the blogs you read.

We also interact well with and provide articles and stories to thier website and we 've recently begun adding a handicap to the Thorofan website.

The TBA is a vibrant collection of individuals with individual ideas and interests related to all facets of horses and horse racing, not only in North America but all over the world. Please come and see what we have to offer.

The Turk is bemused by the collection of runners in the Dirty Dozen poll and will need to consult with Detective Turk to discuss the intimate details of the information. The next version of this poll is the key one with all the major preps completed. You have to wonder what we can expect this year: Perhaps the 12th Triple Crown winner is in this group, who knows.

Have fun, Turk Out!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Nomination Is In: March 28, 2010: Sunland Park Pick Three including the Grade III Sunland Park Derby

The Turk handicapped the Sunland Derby last year. The race had the same purse of $800,000, which was nice, but it lacked the graded stakes designation it now enjoys. Just compare last year's entrants (Yeah, overlook a certain gelding that the Turk had finishing just out of the money)to this year's, and wow, a bit of difference in star power! Today we have a ho-hum Pick Three centered around the Sunland Derby with two top shelf 3 YOs entered, Conveyance and Tempted to Tapit. Could this dust bowl e more of a road to Kentucky then the fake dirt of Keeneland or the Aqueduct? Time will be the judge of that, and regardless of my dislike of race casinos, they are the reality of the day.

Sunland Park Race 11-12-13: First Post 7:15 ET

Watch the track condition, weather and scratches from here!

The Turk is still forming a bet strategy so I'm just going to type and see what comes of it.

Race 11 is the Sunland Park Oaks. A field of six are entered, a fairly even bunch at that. Queen Greeley has two SUN wins and is 3 of 4 on dirt, 4 of 4 in the money and a last race best 86 BSF in a one mile ungraded stakes prep. Trainer Fincher wins 29% of his stakes races and 30% of his WON LAST STARTS. Combined with Jock Enriquez, up, they clip along at 33% at Sunland.

Baffert drops in Ellafitz for her first time on dirt. Comes in off a win at 1 1/16 on fake dirt at SA and the daughter of Tiznow has M. Garcia up, and the Baffert/Garcia combo with 90+ races wins 29% of the time together. Early speed.

If hunting for value, if there is any here, Pyrite on my Mind presents possibilities. Blinkers on for the first time, this last two race Place runner appears to strike the lead and get distracted. Last race out she rallied in the final 16th showing guts. Trainer Cross wins 25% of Blinkers On, albeit with only 8 tries. Harissa also tries dirt for the first time and will attract betting dollars. I don't like her to win but that's why they run em'.

In the main event, the Sunland Park Derby, Conveyance is pointed here after a workmanlike win in the Oaklawn Park Grade III South West. I'm curious if these GSW dollars seemed like more of a sure bet then the Arkansas Derby but I try not to second guess HOF Trainers. Has been working sharply at SA at 6 and 7 furlongs and is 4-0, with three straight 90+ BSF.

Tempted to Tapit comes in off an impressive Maiden win at Aqueduct that was followed up with a second to Discreetly Mine in the Grade II Risen Star. I think he's a solid Grade III competitor but I have my doubts of him consistently beating the best in his age class as a 3 YO. Cohen up for Trainer Klesaris.

Nacho Friend comes in from Aqueduct where he faded in the Grade III Gotham. Worked at Sunland last week and is capable of a mid 90 BSF.

Storming Saint has a Sunland win to his credit through DQ. Would be a significant upset to see him win but I think he's the last of the field with a real shot, apologies to Classical Stew.

The Turk thinks he'll play some straight Super's for the Sunland Park Derby but the other races will only be part of a very cheap Pick 3.

Race 13 is a Maiden 24K for Fillies and Mares. Of the seven horse field, Disturbingly Hot, 4 YO daughter of Unbridled's Song will be a heavy chalk. Shannon Sue, trained by Mr. Chip Wolley for those cowboys at Double Eagle Ranch has a three time Place runner coming in off a career best, last race best 59 BSF.

The Turk will be checking back in later to review his close but no cigar Pick 4 at Fair Grounds yesterday.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Nomination Is In: March 27, 2010; Fair Grounds LA Derby Day Pick 3 and Pick 4

Today's edition of The Turk is our 300th posting. The Turk is a modest little venture, with a demographic of folks with questionable reading pleasures and low expectations. Together with Mrs. Turk and my sidekick, The Little Turk, we do this for the love of horse racing and the equine stars who never break our hearts in free agency or sexual assaults or gun using thuggery.

The Turk took a well earned handicappers holiday last weekend. It's important when you aren't feeling it to step back and not sign into your Youbet account. That's a lesson that only age and the maturity and wisdom of older and sage horseplayers has taught me.

I'm enjoying handicapping today with my online HRTV account streaming coverage of Dubai World Cup Day. A Turk's favorite, Good Ba Ba will be running soon and then early this afternoon will be the Grade I 10.0 MM World
and I'll be curious to see Gitano Hernando (GB) and this very even field. While World Cup Day for me as a fan is fun to watch, and I love the coverage and find it better then the Breeders' Cup, it's not something I'm willing to bet money on; New surface, a long ship in, left turns, eh. Stick with what you know when money is involved, but by all means, watch!

What I am thinking of betting today is the Fair Grounds ticket on Louisiana Derby Day. The weather should be great, the track should be fast, the turf should be firm, and a nice group of stakes races make up the Pick 3 and Pick 4 culminating in a Kentucky Derby prep. Watch the scratches, already since I put together my multi race bets a favorite in Race 7, Tensas Cat, bailed out. Let's get after it!

Fair Grounds Race 7-8-9-10

Race 7 is the Cresent City Derby for 3 YO LA breds. As mentioned previously, Tensas Cat, was scratched by Trainer Garber just a little bit ago. I'll be including the Asumussen runner Heavenville/4 and might be inclined to single him but I will include Redsugar/3 and Productive Energy/9.

Heavenville is switching from turf, something Asmussen wins 22% of the time and Bridgmohan is up, a combo that wins 24% of the time over a whopping 450 races in past year.

Race 8, The New Orleans Grade II, some of the Turk's favorite runners are entered, Giant Oak and General Quarters. While the horse fan in me has the luxury of having favorites, the horseplayer in me coldly stares at the hard copies of the past performances (..that the younger generation think I should stop printing and relying on- I'll be damned before I carry and iPad around the track)and sees Battle Plan gearing up to have a career that just hasn't happened to plan yet. The 5 YO son of horse racing royalty, son of Empire Maker and Flanders for a Dam, his fifth start in his fifth year for trainer Pletcher and Overbrook Farms. Castellano is up, a combo that clips away at 29% in 77 races the past year. 6% win rate in this meet from the 9th post at this distance.

Perhaps a stretch, I'm looking at Stonehouse, son of Chester House, to continue his fine FG running. 14 of 21 in the money on dirt and 5 wins in last 12 starts for Trainer Broussard.

This is a deep field and Awesome Gem from a good post and a FG star, Star Guitar will be in the mix. General Quarters is 8 OF 11 in the money on dirt and could easily tip the applecart over in this handicap. Good stuff this race is!

Race 9 is a another deep race, an approximate 1 1/8 turf affair, the Grade II Muniz Jr Handicap. The top four is an impressive and even grouping of Jet Propulsion, El Caballo, Baletti and Blues Street. I have Blues Street on top but Jet Propulsion, former claimer, looks very strong.

And in the top event, the Louisiana Derby, a thirteen horse field looks to punch their tickets to Kentucky.

Drosselmeyer breaks from post 13. No horse has tried or won from this post at this distance in this meet. While I think the Mott trainee is a good 3 YO who will be competitive this season, I don't think the son of Distorted Humor is that special. Prove me wrong big guy, Desormeaux up.

A Little Warm has just a little respect. I stubbornly add him to my Derby favorites lists as I think he's a solid, competitive runner for Owner Evans and Trainer A. Duttrow. Cohen up, a combo that wins 34% on 128 races.

Discreetly Mine will most likely be the post time favorite, and deservingly so. 4 of 5 in the money on dirt, a FG win, trainer Pletcher points him here after a G2 Risen Star win.

Fly Down has Trainer Zito poised to break some hearts. Training fast, a win at this distance, a nice post draw, I'll be accounting for him.

It's a nice good of runners in these races on what looks like a beautiful day in New Orleans. Have fun, Turk Out!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anatomy of a Bet: Oaklawn Park Pick 4, March 13, 2010

There are two distinct and independant parts to the process the Turk employs before placing a bet at either a Window or at YouBet: The Handicap and then the Bet Construction. The Turk is a practical man, borderline boring except for his affinity for cigars and bourbon, two very hip things discussed in paddocks all over the country. I advocate a year or so of handicapping without betting to the bored business travelers I prattle on with over a drink and stale pretzels on the airplanes I ride weekly. Why? Because money is pressure. Losing money is pressure. Why place pressure on yourself when you aren't ready? Take a year I tell people. Handicap a few races a week, just like a crossword puzzle or Suduko, and gain your skills. I doubt anyone listens but that's my advice.

The Turk is comfortable as a handicapper. There was a time when he did whole cards five days a week and it was during that time I worked out the fundamentals of what is important to me. My handicaping isn't sexy. I block and tackle and take the numbers on the paper and try to bring order from chaos. I prefer to handicap without the morning lines and I follow a simple rule: I never read about the race i'm going to handicap before I complete my base handicap. Why? It's not information, it's personal bias reported dutifully. It screws me up to read Trainer X tell me that his horse is ready or the opposite,tell me he's not ready but really mean he is ready and will kick everyone's ass. The time for me to read is after my work is done.

The Turk is a OK gambler and bet constructor. My edict is low risk, medium reward, and readers of the Turk see pre-race analysis from me and a steady supply of post race success. I say I'm OK because my fatal flaw is not the handicap but deciding when and where to put a little bit more skin in the game in order to hit the big payoff.

This past weekend I was penny wise, dollar foolish as I left a $304 Pick Four on the table. Why did I do this? Did I get the handicap wrong? Nope, I was trying to save $18 dollars. Make this a two dollar bet, costing me $108 and you have a $600 winner.

The Anatomy of the Bet: Race 8- Race 9 - Race 10- Race 11 OP March 13, 2010

The Honeybee kicked off the beginning of the Pick 4. Right off the bat I seized on a few horses that seemed better then the rest: No Such Word was in off a win, breaking 1:00 in 5f work and had an OP win. Negatives included a win on Slop, a distance increase and a class increase. Decelerator who I named my chalk, was on nice two race progression and was breezing well. Negatives were losing half a length on the last call of the previous race and rather slow fractions to boot. Beautician seemed the most accomplished but was off a long layoff and a horrible effort the last time out. A three horse boxed exacta cost me $24 but I won a handsome $103 for my troubles. The Pick four was dead though after one race and why? Because I was trying to not over select horses for the races and I deleted the wrong runner. It happens and we'll get back to that!

My analysis of the Honeybee scrawled into the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

In race 9 I narrowed down the list to Sea Gaze/2, Grensham/5 and Follow the Leader/7. Follow the Leader, the heavy chalk won easily. I had three selections in the Pick 4 and perhaps that was overkill.

My Analysis of Race 9, a OC/40K scrawled onto the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

In Race 10, The Rebel, I made no individual race bets as Dublin and Lookin at Lucky were just too poorly placed on the tote board and the bettor's didn't bite at all on this 7 horse field that had three good horses, one OK horse, one so so horse and two that are still running. Lookin at Lucky made me take notice as I don't pay much attention to 2 YOs and he hadn't raced in a long time and never on dirt. Dublin is quickly becoming a journeyman, a Grade I winner early as a 2 YO and mostly likely capable of Grade II and III wins as a 3 YO. I had two Pick Four selections here and was fine.

My Analysis of Race 10, The Rebel, scrawled onto the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

I spent some time on the large field that greeted me in Race 11. Being a confident handicapper (not arrogant, humble but confident) I never expect to be out of the Pick 4 by this point so i take the handicap to the extreme limit. I settled on three runners that I liked so much i boxed them as a trifecta too: Regions Reward/3, Logic/9 and Corralito's Way/10. I had this end of the Pick Four covered as well. The trifecta cost $12 dollars and returned $38 for my troubles.

My Analysis of Race 11, a MDC 15.5K scrawled onto the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

So where did it fall apart? Race 8. I went with two instead of three selections. I budgeted a $50 dollar-ish Pick Four but I got a bit foolish and thought better of myself. It happens, but if it happens to often, you leave, yes, money on the table!

Study your winning bets and the losers equally. While its always easier to savor the thrill of newfound money in your pocket, the key to getting more is understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are and improving.

Have fun, Turk out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Wire Players Dirty Dozen Volume V; March 16, 2010

Who will win the Derby? Who knows, but this sure is fun. Steve from has again released this below, the fifth version of the Top 12 poll.

Readers of The Turk know that he doesn't pay much attention to the 2 YOs. Sure I read about them a bit, but I don't bet them and I don't study them. In some ways that helps my handicapping and in other ways it hurts me: I don't get too wrapped up with the hype of great 2 YOs that don't always translate well into 3 YOs, yet I sometimes miss the excitement of great 2YOs that don't run until mid March and when they do, Wow!

There are only three more editions of this poll before the first Saturday in May. It's 55 degrees in Buffalo today. The sun is shining. Yeah, I'm excited.

The Wire Players Dirty Dozen Poll Volume V

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Nomination Is In: March 13, 2010: The Honeybee, The Rebel and the Oaklawn Park Pick 4

The weeks are ticking by as Winter has but 14 days left before Spring arrives. The Arkansas Derby is five weeks from today and The Rebel being run today at Oaklawn Park should go a long way towards identifying the potential to reach top condition for the Kentucky Derby. Speaking of the Kentucky Derby, that dapper gentleman to left should need no introduction, relevant again after a few lean years, the winner of the Kentucky Derby four times, 13 Triple Crown race victories overall and 18 Breeders' Cup races, Mr. D. Wayne Lukas who saddles Dublin and Decelerator today, the Turk's Chalk in The Rebel and The Honeybee. Let's get after it!

Oaklawn Park Race 8-9-10-11 Pick Four Including the Grade III Honeybee and the Grade II Rebel.

As always check the weather and the scratches and changes before finalizing your bets. Know the track condition and the potential track condition at the time the races go to the gate.

The Pick Four begins with Race 8, The Honeybee, that goes to Post at 5:42 Eastern Time. The field of nine contains some real quality centered around my choice of chalk, Decelerator. Winner of her last race and the loser by a nose before that, two solid back to back OP efforts with near equal 82 BSF. Nice work since the last outing a month ago and a new rider, Nakatani up. Decelerator is carrying 122 pounds, the heaviest of the combatants.

Making her first race in 2010, Beautician returns after an abysmal effort at Hollywood park in late December. Blinkers off today for trainer McPeek and he gives the mount to R. Albarado who has a win and a 2nd in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. A great 2 YO campaign, she shares a sire with Decelerator, Dehere.

No Such Word breaks from gate for Trainer Cindy Jones, looking for her first Graded Stakes win, but she sure knows how to find the winners circle and deserves to share some of the credit with her husband Larry for the successful trainer stats he put together over time. Comes in off an N1X win in the slop at OP on Valentines Day and is on the rise but has quite a class jump to hurtle.

For the Pick Four I'm leaning towards only my two two but may stretch to all three with my last toss Tiz Miz Sue.

For the Rebel, as I said I like Dublin to win in this race and I think he needs to win with a bit of conviction as well. About the only thing not to like from the Southwest Stakes was the slow final 1/4 mile and we will see what the extra 1/16 does for him. Two nice bullets since then, the fastest work of 149 other runners on those days combined. Nakatani is up here as well.

The fashionable Kentucky Derby pick for many weeks finally makes his 2010 debut, Looking at Lucky. First time on dirt for the Baffert runner, but the Hall of Fame Trainer does win 25% of his dirt races. Blinkers on today. His work pattern from SA does not show an improving progression but a minor factor for the Smart Strike son is capable of 1 1/16 mile wins, as he has two of the only three in the race. If he were to win, a big arrow will go up on his stock but the reality is he needs to have a solid race, be in the top three and set himself up for his last prep before the Kentucky Derby as his $1.2 MM in earnings will go a long way to securing his inclusion.

An interesting group that I'm torn on sits just below these two horses: Cardiff Giant appears to be no better then a Grade III contender and is winless on dirt but did have a good effort in the Southwest. Noble's Promise makes his first start on dirt and Uh Oh Bango owns the lifetime best BSF of the field lifetime and at this distance. I'm only including my top two in the Pick Four.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day March 6, 2010; Aqueduct Toboggan and Gotham and Anatomy of a Bet: Santa Anita Handicap

The Turk uses a curious photo to kick off his Post Race Analysis today: Pictured to the left is a shot I took of Rail Trip nipping Dakota Phone at the wire in last year's Santana Mile at Santa Anita. Dakota Phone is a curious horse: 11 Place or Shows in 23 starts with 4 wins. On that particular day at the Santana Mile he closed furiously in the stretch and almost upset the unbeaten Rail Trip. He hasn't won in his last 10 starts but he's always around the action, finishing only a head behind the underrated Richard's Kid not even a month ago. He doesn't get much respect at the betting window, but I'm not the betting window. I know Dakota Phone likes to be near the action and this was a key in a very lucrative day for the Turk yesterday. Let's get after it!

The action began at Aqueduct with Races 4 - 5 - 6 and then 10 as well as Santa Anita Race 10

The day started off well in Race 4 at Aqueduct, a five horse edition of the Toboggan. My pre race analysis was pretty much dead on although I anticipated Custom for Carlos would be the bettors favorite choice but the savvy group that plays Aqueduct rarely miss a beat and rightly put Wall Street Wonder on the top of the tote board. An easy Tri and Exacta win came out of this race and I was alive in the Pick Three.

Did I say I was alive in the Pick Three? It didn't last long. Race 5 had my last toss out Goldsville winning and when I went back to the PP's I realized I dropped him for being a synthetic horse even though he had some dirt wins. No matter, I was dead and would have been deader in Race 6 as my first toss Spa City Baby won as a big longshot.

My Gotham handicap was pretty much junk too. I liked Wow Wow Wow but I knew breaking from the far outside meant expending alot of energy early. He did, took the lead and then got dropped like a stone. I always was surprised by Awesome Act being so highly regarded by the bettor's as about the only thing I liked was Leparoux up. As a handicapper, I study the carnage and then let it go.

After eating dinner I turned my attention to the race I was thinking about all day, the 14 horse Santa Anita Handicap with no clear favorite. To me that means big payouts. I've put together below the anatomy of how the winning bet was constructed. Betting is always a secondary thing for me. I build a base handicap which I list Pre Race and I assign arbitrary grades to each horse. I toss a certain portion of each field (In Red) and I try to build stratification layers of quality within the field. Generally the horses could care less and one RED Horse will inevitably break through and screw up the handicap, but if you are consistent and apply the principals week after week as your handicapping improves so will your bet construction. The two are symbiotic.

Anatomy of a Bet: Santa Anita Handicap

That is the type of bet construction I can only do in the peace and quiet of my own home or office and could never do at a track. I need solitude, I need my PP's and my google docs, and I need my handicapper's notes to remind me that I like Dakota Phone, that Neko Bay is never respected, that betting for the first filly in 73 years isn't a great bet and that I should build a handicap that could survive watching my first and third choices finish out of the money.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Nomination Is In: March 6, 2010: The Santa Anita Handicap Grade I

That fine looking 5 YO Mare to the left is St. Trinians (GB),a fitting Turk chalk in a large but flawed field contesting today's Big'Cap. A win by St. Trinians would be the first ever by a filly or mare in the Santa Anita Handicap's 73 year history, a lofty goal for a gal winning N2X's in December. Keep your eye on the weather and the track conditions as it was raining at the time of this writing. The Turk, like many other handicappers and horse racing fans, has been wildly frustrated by spending hours handicapping Santa Anita Saturday Stakes cards only to find out the surface didn't drain and the races cancelled. I was equally dismayed to read the comments of the bankrupt track owner that he's in no hurry to end this disastrous experiment and return to the surface embraced by America, dirt. I love the Great Race Place but it kills me to handicap races and then hope the rain doesn't fall. It's too late, let's go!

Santa Anita Race 10 Post Time 7:38 ET: The Santa Anita Handicap Grade I; 1 1/4 Miles on melting fibers and gunk that doesn't drain water well, for 4 YOs and Up.

St. Trinians (GB) is 9 of 10 in the money on poly tracks, 3 of 3 at Santa Anita and has 4 wins in last four starts. The 5 YO mare is trained by M. Mitchell with Rosario Up, a combination that hits 31% of the time. Trainer Mitchell also wins 30% of his Won Last Start starters but only 9% of Graded Stakes. A sharp two time 1 1/16 winner whose style is that of mid pack closer. It's never a good handicapping angle to pick a horse to do something that no one else has ever done so bet at your own peril. Me personally, I'm planning to bet to wheel several exotics and I just need the mare to finish Top Four.

Neko Bay is a classy Giant's Causeway son who has 5 Santa Anita wins but most on the old dirt surface. A nice Grade II win in early January and sharp training efforts make him a top four finisher for the combo of Trainer Shirreffs and M. Smith, up. Shirreffs Grade Stakes win rate is 40% and he's 29% in Routes and 39% in Won Last Starts. Good Stuff!

Speaking of not betting horses to do things they haven't done yet, Loup Breton (Ire) is an immensely talented turf runner trying synthetic for the first time. Comes in off of three nice efforts, two wins and a loss by a neck, has Gomez up for the Canali trainee. Canali's Turf/Synth hit rate is 32% and he wins 41%of the time he teams up with Go-Go.

I'm slipping Dakota Phone into the mix. Always overlooked and always capable of place or show, 15 of 23 in the money for the 5 Yo gelding.

With a big field I have Misremembered, Mast Track, Marsh Side and Jeranimo in the contender pile for one of the top four spots. About the only thing I haven't thought through is how deep and how expensive I want my exotics to cost me. Having 8 of the 14 runners here in the mix is overkill and too expensive a bet. I'll build what I call a matrix and I'll slot the horses out pretty close to my base handicap, with the horses in yellow good for Show and 4th mostly.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: March 6, 2010; Aqueduct Pick Three w/ The Toboggan as well as The Gotham

The early part of today has the Turk's mind thinking about Aqueduct. Past winters I have played the track regularly but for whatever reason this year I haven't been as compelled by the runners there. That's starting to change as I'm thinking of altering my New Year's Resolution to go to the Arkansas Derby and instead travel down to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial. As much as I looked forward to Oaklawn, the idea of going there during what most likely will be a weekend of high scalper tickets and Rachel/Zenyatta madness makes the idea less appealing. Today's foray into Aqueduct starts with an early Pick Three that's kicked off by the Grade III Toboggan and then The Grade III Gotham later in the afternoon. Let's get it on!

Aqueduct Race 4-5-6-10

A smallish field of five contests today's Grade III Toboggan. I'm generally a quality over quantity fella, and I like the quality very much but would have preferred a bit more quantity. Handicapper's have a choice to just not bet, but I'm game for the Pick Three.

Trainer Terranova brings Wall Street Wonder into the race coming off a gaudy 109 BSF on the inner course in late January. 2 for 2 at the Big A, 2 of 3 on Fast Dirt and 8 of 12 lifetime in the money for the 4 YO son of City Place. Trainer Terranova and Jock Hill combine for 40% winners and Terranova is 24% off 31-60 Day layoffs. I like the inner course record and my only concern is how he came out of last race, but I'll roll the dice.

Turk favorite Custom for Carlos, winner of the Grade III Mr. Prospector at GP ships in for Trainer Kenneally for his first Aqueduct start. 5 of 5 in the money at the distance 6 of 6 in the money lifetime on fast dirt. Lifetime best BSF for the race and 10 straight 90+ BSF's. The son of More then Ready is more then capable of winning and has J. Leparoux up.

Another 2 for 2 winner at Aqueduct is Elusive Warning running for Trainer Mclaughlin with the Mig up. Only 9th start for the 6 YO son of Elusive Quality with a stint overseas for the Darley owned horse.

Driven by Success starts for new trainer, T. Pletcher today, something Pletcher wins 12% of the time. 2 wins in last 11 for the 5 YO gelding. Capable of big efforts.

For the Pick Three I'm leaning towards a 3 X 3 X 2 for an $18 dollar bet. In Race 5, a 1 Mile 70 yard OC 50K/N2X affair, I like Sawtooth Mountain, blinkers on for trainer DeRosa. 16th career start for the 4 YO son of Johannesburg who has 2 wins at Aqueduct under his girth.My only other non tosses are The Roundhouse and Half Metal Jacket.

In Race 6, a Maiden Special Weight 49K for F&M 3 YO and up foaled in NYS, if I'm still alive and I don't have a good feeling about that, I'll be looking for either Lindsay's Point or All Sew Smooth.

The Turk will say again, it's tempting to add just one more horse but don't do it! These Pick Three's that I've been winning regularly aren't great payouts when likely horses win so unless you are wildly contrarian in two legs of the Pick Three, don't waste your money. I like them for fun but keep it real and never bet more then you are prepared to lose.

Later in the day, the Grade III Gotham goes off with Wood Memorial hopefuls and seven Triple Crown nominees. The Turk is leaning towards Wow Wow Wow, the Lukas trainee son of Broken Vow from breeder Marylou Whitney Stables. Coming off a win at 1 1/16 at Oaklawn Park and with OP jockey ship in Nakatani up, and Lukas/Nakatani chemistry is rising with a 31% win rate.

After staring at the PP's for a bit of time, I'm going out there with a Stephen Got Even son, I've Got The Fever on my board to place. Comes in off a nice effort in late February at 1 mile at Aqueduct. He ran a sharp final quarter his last time out and Trainer Terranova places Hill up for his third mount in a row on this IEAH runner.

Yawanna Twist is an R. Duttrow trainee stepping up several furlongs in distance but is 2 for 2 at Aqueduct and looks to keep record perfect. It's asking alot so I'll be hedging down more then hedging up.

Peppi Knows is a winner at the Big A at 1 1/16 miles but hasn't got much respect off a pretty slow Whirlaway win. Three Day Rush is a Pletcher trainee that has to show something today after a poor effort in that same Whirlaway.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Wire Players Dirty Dozen Volume IV; March 4, 2010

The latest edition of the WirePlayers Dirty Dozen Poll has been released. I'm actually enjoying the clouded and confusing Derby picture for a simple reason; the Turk likes drama and this collection of runners are drama. As one of the pollsters I've been applying my own personal bias to the poll each week and for the first time below the official Wire Players Poll I have included The Turk's own Top 12. I reward horses that run and prep, and I reward horses that win or place, that run fast 1/4 miles and that are starting to prep out to 1 1/8 miles and I do have a negative bias against horses prepping on poly with no dirt experience. Right, wrong, indifferent, I dunno. If Mine That Bird teaches us anything it's that the horses don't read the bloggers, don't care what is said on At The Races, and don't pay much attention to the "experts", they just run, and the horse who has the best current form on that day and who has the best trip, and handles the paddock craziness with aplomb is in a great spot to win.

The Official Wire Players Derby Dozen Volume IV

And finally, the Turk would be remiss without taking a minute to remember the great Flanders, 1994 Breeders' Cup Champion who passed away this week after a paddock accident. Rest in Peace and you will be remembered.