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.