Thursday, November 3, 2011
The Nomination Is In: The Breeders' Cup Classic Grade 1
"Go Big or Go Home" It's a fairly macho statement, spoken by Type A personalities just to let you know their outlook on life. The Turk's feeling macho: Let's swing for the fences with a statement bet, the kind of bet you hit and you brag about for life. Anything that carries lifetime bragging rights should be sufficiently difficult and I present to you the challenge before us, the Super Hi Five: The top five finishers selected in order.
I tried to find the etymology of this statement, go big or go home, and Google keeps pointing me to a petite female named Eliza. Go figure, but I digress and for now imagine a bald, handsome, cigar smoking handicapper, nattily dressed with a Korean kid in tow standing at the betting window smiling at the the glazed over teller and leading with "Go Big Or Go Home", which to him she replies "read the sign: track, race, and bet". Respect.
It doesn't get much bigger than the Breeders' Cup Classic or the Super Hi Five Bet. Before I go to far I'd like to thank the Thorofan for inviting me to handicap such a prestigious race for the Handicappers Corner. I'm honored to not only be associated with a group like The Thorofan as a guest handicapper, but I put my money where my endorsements are and I'm also a dues paying member.
The Super Hi Five, Go Big or Go Home. Is it harder than a Pick Six? That's relative but I'm going to say yes. It's so random who trots home in fourth and fifth, Win Place Show for that matter, that all you can do is the layer the horses into the slots you expect them to finish within and place the bet. Boxing the top seven horses on the tote board would cost you $2,520. That's pretty pricey. I assembled a chart of the last eleven Breeders' Cup Classic races and it would strongly suggest you are wasting your money using the tote board as a gage: The chalk finished in the top five 8 of the 11 years, the bettor's second choice only 4 times. Ugh, you get the idea.
I'll go off on a tangent one more time and suggest that this sort of gamble is extremely high risk, but the payoff reward can be significant. Don't bet the milk money or the mortgage money and stop reading now if you aren't interested in such an unlikely proposition (The Turk isn't that macho really. I won't tell on you if you place show bets, honest, I'd still love to hang with you in the paddock). From my base handicap you can easily assemble Win-Place-Show- Trifectas and what seems like a conservative bet after talking about the Super Hi Five, the Superfecta. Whatever you do, do your own handicapping, only bet what you are comfortable losing and study after the race what you got right and what you got wrong, its the best way to get better at this.
If you've never been to the Breeders' Cup I hope you can find the opportunity in the future to attend. It's two days of total immersion within our sport. Everywhere you look is regal purple and splendor.
Let's get after this before I get all misty eyed.
The Breeders' Cup Classic; 1 1/4 Miles on Dirt
Over the last week I've assembled quite a bit of readily available video on the Classic runners. Video is an important tool to the Turk. I have no special insights into the way the animal physically appears and you won't find me rambling here about switching leads, no for me the video is strictly about the trip. When I look at the past performance I get a pretty good idea of what happened but its like a black and white TV for anyone old enough to remember how lame that was, but taking the PP's and watching the video is like unlocking the HDTV settings on your phat plasma; you get a real indication of the "extenuating circumstances" as I like to call them.
Another notion you must learn to control if you are going to be a good bettor is the concept of "feeling good about the bet". You may be confident in your abilities, and by all means you should be if you are even trying this, but you never really know how things are going to turn out. When I analyzed my own betting years ago I often found myself getting very conservative on the exotics, clinging to the tote board ranking like a life preserver. When you handicap publicly like I do, its easy to be embarrassed. The average punter who loses at the windows doesn't write 10,000 words about who is going to win only to see that horse come in last, but that happens at the Turk and the Little Turk from time to time and it will happen again. The point is you have to assemble your handicap and place your bet, and you must learn to not negotiate with yourself, against yourself. Resist the urge to add 10 of the horses to the mix. You can't cover everybody and no handicapper or bettor is always right. I urge you friends to be a brave pari mutuel commando.
A real good tool during weeks like this is the Clocker Reports. You can pay money and get some really kick ass opinions and insights or you can be like me and watch the free ones at Daily Racing Form. They are pretty hype free. Also this week, I grabbed a web address from a PR guy at Churchill Downs for the official work tab. Just play with the date in the address bar. I like the work tabs quite a bit just to get a feel for how the runners are moving leading into the weekend. Remember, its not what a horse did in May or June, it's about what they have been doing since late August and September. I love to see on the Past Performances race efforts in Grade 1 company, on dirt, at or near the distance, punctuated by solid work at 4 and 4 furlongs. That floats my boat.
It's really a flip of the coin for me but I like Harve de Grace and Flat Out to be very competitive here. I'll cover both through positions 1-3 on my versions of my bet. I guess I should say because this is going up on the Thorofan Handicappers Corner by Thursday or Friday morning, I'll be tweaking my final bet a bit right up until Saturday. If your interested, you can find it at my blog my final matrix.
Flat Out lost in the Woodward to Harve de Grace. one of the real shames of the Fall was the track conditions and the field sizes on Super Saturday at Belmont, but that wasn't Flat Out's fault and he took care of business in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Training sharply, I dislike the 0 for 2 goose egg at Churchill Downs.
Harve de Grace also followed up the Woodward with a romp on Super Saturday in the slop. She's been training over the poly but her past performances are just epic and I'm really curious what she still has in the tank at this point in the season and the distance is a question as well and she has a small Tomlinson for the distance (mild indicator) and she has a goose egg in two grade 1 tries (The Alabama and Delaware Handicap) although she was a narrowly beaten Place in both. i think its feast or famine: She either really runs well or she drops out of the top five. That's my gut and I may revisit my bet and cover her positions 1-5 or be brave and cover her 2-5.
So You Think (NZ) is a monster on paper with one glaring issue: first dirt. This is the 5 YOs sixth straight Grade 1 effort, where he is 17 of 19 lifetime in the money on turf and a staggering $7,587 million in career earnings on 12 wins. She's picking up the post race feed bill. Aidan O'Brien places the horse on lasix for the first time and adds blinkers. He has gone left handed before, something you should always note. Came up flat in the Arc de Triomphe. I'm thinking I have him too high, he's just got alot to overcome. It's the Animal Kingdom spectre that looms in the back of mine and others heads that I just don't dismiss him outright. I'll say this: Who knows how he responds to dirt in his face, especially if he rates in a stalk and faces real traffic. I don't think he can win so I doubt I cover the top spot with him. Very curious to see how he works Thursday over the surface.
My next group for betting purposes are who I see finishing anywhere from Show to Fifth: Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty, Drosslemeyer and Game on Dude. Game on Dude is 6 of 7 in the money in 2011, has won 5 of last 13 starts for Trainer Baffert, is 7 of 9 in the money over fast dirt and has put up big speed figs at the distance. It can't be discounted and his Goodwood effort was very solid. He's my wiseguy winner, especially where I expect to find him on the toateboard.
If I'm sneaking horses up as I'm slipping down So You Think it's Uncle Mo and Game on Dude. I have Headache and To Honor and Serve on the fringes of the exotic ticket. Somebody has to be tossed or we'll be spending a fortune and Ruler on Ice, Ice Box and Rattlesnake Bridge are on my list, but any of them can finish fifth or better and fudge up the works. This is gambling after all.
I'll be in Churchill Downs with my family as well as friends. I'm going to Go Big and Most Likely Go Home as well but it's been a good year at the windows for me and I've made some pretty nice stacks of green, it's time to swing away.
My last shout out to The Thorofan is thanking them again for what they have done to help The Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds family. Tim was an incredible race fan who passed away at way too young an age, leaving behind a wife and young daughter, as well as a grieving family and friends all over the country. If you can, please read the information about Tim at the Thorofan and your donations there, with a PayPal option, are going towards the education of his young daughter.