Trainer Larry Jones returns to Sartaoga with Havre de Grace, a four year old Saint Liam filly who lost by a neck to her rival Blind Luck in a thrilling Alabama in 2010.
Early in the Saratoga season there was talk of a Personal Ensign showdown between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. That didn't materialize and then the Personal Ensign didn't materialize after Hurricane Irene had other ideas for last Sunday's day at the track. Last Sunday's loss is our gain as we have three back to back Grade I races to thrill us on the last weekend of Saratoga racing.
When you live in a cold weather locale like The Turk does you savor the seasons, all four of them. Winter to me is Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita, Spring is Oaklawn and Kentucky Racing, Summer is Arlington and Saratoga, and then Fall is Woodbine, Belmont, and Breeders' Cup . That's how I view the year and it's bitter sweet for me to realize the summer has slipped by.
Friends and family of mine don't really get horse racing. Some of them try, some of them enjoy going to the track, but they aren't as fully wired in as I am. I write this blog to maintain a connection with my love of racing. No matter how much my job drains the energy from me, I have my family and I have this blog that has brought me many friends around the country who all share the same passions as the Turk clan.
I think I digressed: I'm a big fan of Larry Jones, the man. One of my first blog entries in 2008 was when he announced he was leaving the main stage of racing. I love having him back. I was reading some more talented bloggers recently and a point was made that Trainers need to feel a responsibility towards marketing the sport and that trainers need to be more visible and outspoken ambassadors of the sport. Men like Larry Jones are so charismatic, so genuine, you can't help but root for them in life and at the track. While I love the tradition of the sport, their is such a lack of effort to market the horsepeople that drive the sport.
The Turk has been very active in horse racing charities and he donates a portion of his winnings to rescues. I would never suggest that anyone part with their money, but please think about contributing to the runners who mostly weren't successful at the track and have many years of life ahead and so few people willing to care for them. Anything you can donate helps. There are so many wonderful people doing this thankless work, I hesitate to recommend any particular rescue because I'll miss someone just as deserving a shout out. The Turk will help put any casual fans in touch with the right people and all he asks is to think about these entertainers and their long term care is all of our concerns.
Let's get after it!
Race 8-9-10 Saratoga
Check the weather and scratches and changes. The Live Tote is absolutely critical; Forget the morning lines, build your own fair odds table (or letter grades) and then use the Tote Board to let the bettors tell you where they place a horse within the field. Know the odds and know what the risk/reward of your bet is.
I've built base handicaps for each race. My goal pre race is to "reorder" the horses into layers. Those layers are Win-Place-Show-Exotic and Tosses or Also Rans. I don't really try to identify the winner but instead identify who I think could win. Because it's a cop out to not pick a winner, I always do, but I'm far more interested in nailing the final order on an exotic ticket with a bit of boxing and matrix building.
I've put up some key video on each race. My analysis is there are some vulnerable chalk here. Seperate horse fan from bettor within your mind; Ask the Moon freaked the Ruffian Handicap, but do you love her at 2-1? Do you still love Havre de Grace at 8-5? I'm not answering those questions, I'm just suggesting that I will bet chalk when it makes sense as a bettor, but I won't bet chalk because I'm a fan. I'll save my bet and buy a picture for my wall. Chalk gets a bum rap too; In Layer handicapping, Chalks can't be ignored, but it helps if they finish lower than expected and you have them in the next layer below win. Good stuff friends!
2011 Ruffian Handicap
2011 Ogden Phipps Handicap
2011 Teddy Drone $103K
2011 James Marvin
2011 Whitney Invitational Handicap
2011 Birdstone Stakes
I'm going to let my base handicap speak for itself and i'll break down more of the thought process in the post race analysis. I was suppose to go today to the Woodward, a race I haven't missed in years. The Ol' Turk is tired, mentally and physically. The f**king hurricane caused me alot of work headaches and i'm just drained. I've got my eye on a PID road trip for their big races next weekend and then the Woodbine Mile is on my agenda later this month. We are all set in our plans for the Breeders' Cup too so I will just regroup and I'll be back at the Woodward next year.
Have Fun, Turk Out! Thank you Saratoga in the 25th year of my love affair with you.