Monday, May 31, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 31, 2010: The Belmont Park Late Pick Three including The Met Mile

It was a great holiday weekend for the Turk, closed out by a workmanlike Pick Three win at Belmont. May has been a disappointing month for The Turk as the lack of a real Triple Crown contender always saps my faith. I handicapped, but my usually race-centric mind was distracted and unfocused. I had to follow my own advice which I dole out to other horseplayers: When you don't feel like handicapping, don't! I've had a relaxing month of analyzing race charts and watching race replays without the pressure of betting or blogging. This week, with the Belmont Stakes sizing up to be a snoozer, I broke out of my funk and handicapped like mad, playing Hollywood, Arlington, Woodbine and Belmont. I felt invigorated thinking about the second half of the racing season, with Belmont and Saratoga, the Monmouth Millions, Arlington and Del Mar all on my horizon. I'm going to forget this Triple Crown season and keep it positive. How about a Quality Road, Zenyatta, Rachael Alexandra Breeders' Cup Classic to make you feel giddy about the future. Let's thinker short term then: Who's going to The Haskell, who's going to the Alabama,Travers and Woodward, who's looking for an Arlington Millions win? All good stuff without the pain of a Triple Crown setback. Ok, let's go!

Belmont Park Race 9 - Race 10 - Race 11 (Race Charts Hyperlinked- Google Doc Inserted)

I kept my betting simple today: My goal was the Pick Three anchored around Quality Road being a single choice and I hoped for a price to take either the first or last leg and pump some value into the bet payout. It didn't really happen like that with the exception of Quality Road keeping his end of the bargain.

Before I placed my bets I realized that Strike it Rich had raced the day before at Monmouth so obviously was scratched here. It made my bet fairly straight forward; three choices in Race 9, one choice in Race 10 and four chances in Race 11. I plunked down a $4 Pick Three Bet for $48 dollars and thought I'd let it ride, no pressure, just fun.

In Race 9, prerace I thought Negligee was the best runner but included Check The Label in my Pick Three. The betting public saw this race about the same way I did and most of the money laid out was on one of these two fillies. Check The Label entered off a 92 BSF and a 1 Mile Turf win at KEE. No surprise in the win but a bit surprised that Crescenda came up for Place. Trainer McDonald was clipping along at 5% winners on turf and he had yet to win a race when teamed with E. Coa up. The lightly raced daughter of Bowman's Band has now won twice and placed twice in four starts and is 3 of 3 in the money on Turf. Not bad indeed.

Race 10 saw another dominant Quality Road victory and I stand behind my statement of believing that he is the best colt in training currently in the World. As I said prerace, if anyone would challenge it would be Musket Man, and he ran his typical solid race. Tizway was a bit of surprise to me but he shouldn't have been; Came in off an N3X 102 BSF win at 7 furlongs in which he ran a final 1/8 in :11.72 and has been training 5 furlongs in :59 3/5ths. Trainer Bond/R. Maragh win about 23% of the time and Bond's won last start is 29%. All good stuff but I valued Tizway further back. I backed Le Gran Cru to finish a bit higher. He ran a strong race and really pressed the pace but that wasn't the race I was hoping for from him. Fractions of :22 2/5, :45 and 1:08 2/5ths sizzled this group and the quality (no pun intended) Grade I talent of Quality Road and Musket Man rang the bell.

As for the Maiden Special Weight I had four choices out of 12 runners I handicapped (two scratched) and the shortest price on the board won, Lisa Jean.

The Pick Three returned $40.60 for $2 and my $4 variety netted $33.20. All in all a fulfilling weekend of handicapping and a nice Pick Three win without much risk.

The Turk has been traveling quite a bit and has had an opportunity to smoke cigars in many different cities lately. A friend of mine handed me a Drew Estate Java, a coffee infused stick, and wow was it good. I don't like flavored cigars but this was really good and it went well with my morning coffee as well.

Enjoy life, it's too short. Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: May 31, 2010; The Belmont Park Pick Three including the Met Mile

That fine looking horse in the Sarah K. Andrew photograph is Quality Road, the best Dirt horse training in the world right now. The Met Mile is one of those races that just screams "start of summer" and a nice collection of runners will make sure that Quality Road has to have an honest effort to win today. The Met Mile anchors a Pick Three that includes a tough MSW Turf affair and a 3 YO Filly Grade II on turf, The Sand Point, no walk in the park, but hey, that's why we do this. Visit Sarah's website, Rockers and Racehorses to witness an artist on top of her game and support and patronize her if you are so inclined. OK, let's get after it!

Belmont Park Race 9 - 10 - 11 Pick Three. First Post 5:16 Eastern.

Track conditions do not appear to be a problem at all, with fast dirt and firm turf. Keep your eye out for scratches and changes and look at the weather just in case.

in the first leg, the Grade II Sand Point, Trainer Terranova places blinkers on Negligee and tries to crank her back into graded stakes condition. The filly is looking for her first turf win. The Trainer/Jock combo of Terranova and J. Velazquez clip along at 27% at Belmont and Terranova himself is at 35% at the track.

Strike it Rich is a Clement runner coming in off an N1X 1 mile firm turf affair at GP in late April. The 3 YO daughter of Unbridled's Song will go off at a good price and I like her chances. It is gambling after all.

Hit it Rich, with Kent Desormeaux up, looks at sod for the first time, something Trainer McGaughey gets 14% of the time but understands 100% of all things equine. A classy Smart Strike daughter for owner Stuart Janney III. A nice late turn of foot in past two efforts will translate well.

Check the Label, with 27% winner R. Dominguez up for the first time, is on a turf roll and is 5 of 7 in the money on turf and holds the race best BSF of 92 on grass.

It's a nice collection of runners and I'm hedging with all four of my top runners in the Pick Three and I'll be looking at the top five for Super and Tri bets.

In the Met Mile I only see Quality Road losing if he's rank or doesn't go in the gate, a problem that is hopefully behind him. That said, there are some very good horses in this race at one turn and I think the big guy is better at two turns, or at least dominant in the two turn races. He'll be carrying the race heavy 124 pounds as well and going off less then even money.

As a bit of a stretch, I like Le Gran Cru just outside of Quality Road. The 5 YO Dynaformer horse comes in off a Grade III win at 1 Mile at Belmont and has been training strong for Trainer A. Jerkens. A big price and I'm hoping he can hit the top four.

If I'm looking for upset winners, I'm looking at Musket Man who has six fast dirt wins and 9 of 9 in the money on fast dirt. A :58 4/5ths 5f work signals the Yonaguska son is ready to roll.

Tizway, Convocation and Warrior's Reward will make this an honest pace and win and Kensei and You and I Forever aren't slouches either. I'm surprised how many wish to challenge Quality Road, but if he falters, some nice prices will hit the board. I'm not sure what type of inner race exotic I'll play, maybe none here because I think the pace will crack some runners and a blanket will form after Quality Road. Ahh, it's gambling, perhaps a Super just for fun!

The last leg of of the Pick Three is a Maiden Special Weight 36K at 6 furlongs on turf for Fillies and Mares foaled in NYS. Ugh! I'm going to back four horses and not worry about this one too much: Rennina/2, Lisa Jean/3, Eager Leader/5 and Triple Latte/7 seem to me to be the class here and Moonwalk Beauty/9 and Hennessy Light/12 are probables I'm going to not cover and hopefully not regret.

Happy Memorial Day to my friends, family, readers and fellow veterans. Have fun, Turk Out!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Day May 22, 2010: The Pick Three at Arlington Park including the American Guineas & Arlington Classic

It does make me feel like summer when I start handicapping turf races from Arlington Park. I love the paddock and I love the way the turf plays, even if I'm not great playing it. As for the main track, eh, fake dirt doesn't thrill me and with Belmont and then Saratoga open at the same time, I'd rather play those dirt surfaces then the main track at Arlington, but I love the turf! This panoramic paddock picture is from Cindy Pierson and Terence Dulay.

As for the betting, I won the Pick Three on a $2 bet that cost $24 to construct and my second choice once all three races. I had some value built into my bet but the chalk or almost chalk won all three. As for my Superfectas, close but no cigar. Let's go!

Arlington Park Pick Three May 22, 2010: Race 8- Race 9- Race 10 (hyperlinked to race charts)

It was a tale of losing two superfectas by a head and a 1/2 length. Orchestrator nipping Chantilly Nayla cost me in the American Guineas. In the Arlington Classic, Mister Marti Gras 1/2 length finish over Our Champion cost me the superfecta there. I kept the bets reasonable and it was a bit of a wash today:

Life is Grand. Have Fun, Turk out!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Nomination Is In: May 22, 2010: The Arlington Park Pick Three including the American Guineas and Arlington Classic

The Turk loves the Arlington Turf Course. It doesn't mean he plays it well, but as a horse racing fan, I love the course and the track itself. I've had an affinity for Arlington since I was a young man in the US Navy. I was living close to Arlington in 1985 when a small fire turned into a big fire and devastated the place. Arlington wasn't on my radar of understanding at that point but since then it never left. I vacationed there last summer and enjoyed myself very much and I'll be in paddock smoking a cigar and picking ponies on Sunday June 13. With that said, it's time I jumped in and played some races. My handicap is based on a weather forecast that shows the rain stopping last night and the races staying on the grass. If Race 8 is off the turf, I'll drop the Pick Three and just bet Race 9 and 10. Let's get it on!

Arlington Park Pick Three Race 8 - Race 9 - Race 10 (Google Doc Spreadsheet inserted)

Race 8, a $35,000 claimer isn't that compelling but it does seem clear that four of the horses are superior on paper, and I'm backing Maneke, with 8 turf wins, 2 at Arlington, to win the race, and if he falters Live from Appollo, Trying Brian and Hapman should be there.

Race 9 and 10 I'm going to play per my base handicaps unless there are major defections or the races come off turf. I'll be looking at 10 cent Supers with six horse combinations and keeping the best below $24. Keep your eye on Track Conditions and Scratches.

Have fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Nomination Is In: May 15, 2010; The Grade II Dixie and Grade I Preakness Stakes; Race 11/12 Daily Double

I love to remember Champions in their radiant glory and none to me are more glorious then Barbaro walking into Pimlico a day before his tragic final race. I try not to think about the big fella and what could have been but I found myself today with that horrible feeling from 2006 when I handicapped the Grade II Dixie as part of the Daily Double with The Preakness Stakes and came to the running lines for Nicanor, Barbaro's full brother. I've not handicapped any of Barbaro's brothers yet and I had to stop after reading his PP and just reflect back on how great the son of Dynaformer was. Let's not forget any of our runners, be it Barbaro or the cheapest claimer, and if you find The Turk enjoyable to read, please donate to a horse charity, one like Remember Me Rescue, with their easy to use widget on the right side of my blog. Thanks to Terence Dulay for the use of mighty Barbaro's picture. Let's get after it!

Pimlico Race 11 and Race 12: The Grade II Dixie and the Grade I Preakness Stakes

The Grade II Dixie goes to post at 5:12 Eastern, a full hour before the Preakness, so get your bets in.

The weather appears to be fine, the turf appears firm and there was only one scratch at the time of this writing, but get your information ready before finalizing your handicap.

Trainer Sheppard brings Just As Well in for his second off a long layoff, something the trainer does well with just 11% of the time. The 7YO does a Turf from Synthetic switch which Sheppard wins 22% of the time with. The trainer's graded stakes win rate of 27% and his 24% win rate with Leparoux, coupled with the Just As Well's 10 of 16 in the money on turf and 13 of 22 lifetime in the money makes him formidable. Don't like as a win bet with a suspected low price but will be part of my superfecta and trifectas.

5 YO gelding Picou comes in off the race of his career, a 103 BSF win at 1 1/8 on firm turf in early April. Trainer Brown puts E. Trujillo up, and the two combine for 44% wins on 16 starts and Brown clips away at 21% on turf and 33% in graded stakes. Expect a late turn of foot.

Rahystarda has been on my radar since beating Turk favorite Rahy's Attorney in the Grade III River City Handicap last year. 9 wins on 21 turf starts and 2 wins at the distance.

The group of Nicanor, Wesley and Grassy will round out my Show and 4th spots on the exotics.

In the main event, I like the middle of the starting gate to all show for themselves well. I'm tepidly backing Jackson Bend for his guts, Looking at Lucky for his pure natural potential and Super Saver for the respect the Derby winner deserves.

The second tier to me includes Dublin, Paddy O' Prado and Caracortado.

I like Jackson Bend on fast dirt where he is a perfect 9 for 9 in the money. A 4 furlong :46 3/5ths bullet earlier this week is a big fat wow. Hall of Fame Jock Mike Smith gets the mount for the second time.

2 YO champ Looking at Lucky has had some bad trips and gets Martin Garcia up today for Trainer Baffert. His best race of the year was on fast dirt and if Garcia can wait on him a bit he should be right there.

Super Saver ran an impressive 98 BSF and lost by a neck in Arkansas Derby. Nothing to dislike about the Kentucky Derby winner except the price. He'll be apart of all tickets.

I like the hard knockin' Dublin to find the exotic ticket. Making his 5th start of 2010 and his 8th dirt start.

Have fun with these. The Turk is about to get his "preak on" with a Camacho Room 101, his current stick of choice.

Turk Out!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Post Race Analysis for Race Days April 30 and May 1: The Kentucky Oaks - Turf Classic- Kentucky Derby Pick Three

Readers of the Turk have heard me prattle on before about base handicaps and bet constructions, and it's weekends like this one that continuously reaffirm to me the basic principles of handicapping are alive and well and relatively unchanged since I first read Tom Ainslie during one long trip at sea in the mid 1980's. Any multibet race starts with the first leg: Nothing is more of a downer then losing the opening race of the centerpiece of a many hour handicap, so with that in mind, I thank that lovely lady Blind Luck , pictured, for rescuing my winning Kentucky Oaks - Turf Classic - Kentucky Derby Pick Three bet from ruination. Thanks as well to The Saturday Post, also a member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance, for the best picture I found of this special filly. Let's get after it!

CD Race 11 April 30, 2010: The Kentucky Oaks Grade I- CD Race 10 1 May, 2010: The Turf Classic Grade I - CD Race 11 1 May 2010: The Kentucky Derby Grade I.

As far as the Pick Three Bet construction, I saw The Kentucky Oaks as a two horse race and my first gamble of the weekend was slicing my options down to just Blind Luck and Amen Hallelujah. That worked out but my inner race Superfecta bet fell apart. I had Evening Jewel and Tidal Pool pegged into the Show and 4th spot but completely missed on Beautician and that was all she wrote, but, I was alive. Looking back in the PP's, I still don't see Beautician finishing here, but Amen Hallelujah dropped like a stone the last few hops and opened the door. Another principal of my handicapping is avoiding pre race hype and after I built my bet and I started to do some reading I was surprised by how hyped Crisp and It's Tea Time were. I didn't see it and I discounted them.

The biggest wild card in this Pick Three for me was the Turf Classic. The weather forecasts on Friday were all over the board from Biblical to just bad. My pre race analysis took into account two different scenarios: On turf and taking off turf. I thought the bigger wildcard would be the scratches that came from that. For building a Pick Three win selection I took both my scenario handicaps and I realized I only had one horse in my top five on both turf and dirt, Court Vision. The rest of my possibles were a hybrid of both base handicaps with a premium on horses I thought would run regardless of the surface and also who may provide some big prices on what otherwise would be a chalky pick three. I inserted Court Vision and Battle of Hastings from my on turf scenario and General Quarters, Wise River and Al Khali from my off turf scenario. We are gambling right? We take chances right? We also get VERY LUCKY sometimes. I did not like General Quarters in this spot on the turf and was only in my Pick Three because of his dirt abilities, and even then, he was lousy on the slop in the Kentucky Derby last year. I love General Quarters but I don't bet my favorites, I try to bet who I think is going to actually win. I am enjoying being wrong this morning and still being right. We'll take it and I was still alive. And now the big event!

I didn't have any deep belief on which runner would win this race after Sidney's Candy drew 20 and Looking at Lucky drew 1. I don't think either colt is "special" enough to overcome bad draws, heavy traffic and lots of thrown mud after being conditioned to not have that with the fake dirt. I tossed the filly Devil May Care as well as nothing more then an owner wanting something that the horse couldn't do. I liked my base handicap quite a bit in terms of layers of horses as tosses, possible exotics and probable winners. The slop added a wild card and after spending a few days watching morning work (it seemed to be in favor to bash morning works this week as not important-I disagree). I backed gingerly Conveyance to win. I'm convinced he's a top flight sprinter and from post 12 I knew he would take the lead, but I was hopeful M. Garcia would rate him and put up mildly slow fractions and give him the speed at the top of the stretch. It was my thought but :22 3/5ths and :46 cooked both him and Sidney's Candy.

The Turk Clan was over the house and the place was buzzing by 5:45. With one last look at the tote board I took my base handicap top five and boxed them for the trifecta. I also threw $10 down on Conveyance, Nobles Promise and Stately Victor to win, all big prices with a chance. My base handicap was pretty darn good and I took down $2,237 with the long prices of Paddy O'Prado and Ice Box bumping up the score. I almost bet the superfecta which returned a whopping $202,569 but I would have never hit it with Make Music for Me unless I bet a ton, not my bag baby!

Congratulations to Todd Pletcher and Calvin Borel. I saw some great cell phone pictures on Facebook yesterday (thanks to Paula W) of Todd watching the race in a small office sitting in a dingy green office chair with his expensive suit and the boots that belied the fact that at his heart, he's a horseman who suffered for years the ridicule of people who said he couldn't win the big one. Pretty ludicrous considering how few actually make it every year. Here's hoping for a Triple Crown.