This picture sums up my 2010-2011 Breeders' Cup experience at Churchill Downs over the past two years; it blew by. It really is hard for me to believe that two of these events have come and gone and I'm loathe to compare the two years because that's not really fair with the solar eclipse of a mare, Zenyatta, creating such a huge buzz in the grandstands last year. On Friday the Turk Clan parked in the prepaid lot right next to Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the owners of Barbaro. I asked Mrs. Jackson if it was difficult for her to come back to Churchill Downs and she answered my awkward question kindly and said it was a place of great memories for her. Thank you Mrs. Jackson for being so forthright with me.
I had a decent two days of gambling, more or less break even. My biggest thrill was Amazombie winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint and my lowest low was being "that guy" loudly telling everyone that Court Vision should have been retired only to watch him win the Mile. I had my money on Turallure and I have a real soft spot for the Woodbine Mile and I should have bet the Woodbine Mile Exacta as that paid a sick about of mooola. Long Live Goldikova, she was a real special treat, and her connections were very sporting with the way she was campaigned, a real lesson to some of our American runners.
I swung for the fences with the Super Hi Five on the Breeders' Cup Classic. If I had won, you'd know about it by now. I had tossed Ruler on Ice but I had the other four. We'll revisit that bet more times in my life. I had Game On Dude to win and really thought I had a sleeper after I jumped off Flat Out. I don't know if there was any more Chantal could have milked out of him, but the way Drosselmeyer flew up the outside, I just don't think she saw him or there was no response. Either way, I enjoyed myself and i enjoyed the weekend for what it was: Multiple Grade 1 winning horses with long odds on very good animals in every race.
The Turk is never going to be confused as being gregarious in my social life. I fake it well in the business world but I'm a pretty reserved fella. I loved walking through the paddock, seeing the excitement, feeling the vibe of people digging horse racing (and vodka). I woke up early on Saturday morning and channeled some positive energy, driving to Mt. Washington before winding my way back to Churchill Downs to watch the horses from the fence line on Longfield Avenue graze and be happy.
The glamour of racing cards with multiple graded stakes one after another is just about over the calendar year. I like to handicap in November and December to sharpen up and look for 3 year olds who were lost in the shuffle and will be staying in training for 2012. I just don't give a hoot about 2 year olds and I never will- I'll get excited about them when the long Derby Trail begins again. I'll be handicapping Churchill until after the Clark and then I'll bounce over to Hollywood park, where I have had some really big December's in the past few years.
I've got a Pick Three at Churchill Downs that I've been noodling over which includes the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere. Let's get after it!
I really like Hungry Island's 2011 body of work but the Garden City, while looking like an off the board effort deserves a look;
She came out of traffic in a perfect striking position but it was Winter Memories day. I liked the rally. That said, I'm backing Marketing Mix to win.
Marketing Mix is a Medaglia d'Oro filly out of Instant Thought (Kris S.) The Ontario bred will have grass master Leparoux up for trainer Tom Proctor, who's a 20% turf winner. A solid 2011 Woodbine campaign, a win in an always competitive Wonder Where, a nice Pucker Up G3 at Arlington and a Place to Together in the QE2 Cup G1 at Keeneland. Training sharply and running well, a deadly combination.
Bizzy Caroline breaks from the two post for trainer McPeek with M. Cruz up. A dreadful Del Mar Oaks G1 was followed up by a Place in the G3 Valley View at Keeneland. A bullet on the poly track there last week. 5 of 8 in the money lifetime over turf, 2 wins in 2 starts on CD turf, the Afleet Alex daughter looks like a handful.
Smart Sting is a Smart Strike/Perfect Sting joint, trained by Roger Attfield. I was ecstatic to see Mr. Attfield win his first Breeders' Cup race (could that possibly be i thought, but yes it was) with Perfect Shirl in the Filly and Mare Turf. Wow! Johnny V is up. 5 of 6 in the money in 2011 with 2 turf wins, but winless at the distance and winless in one effort at Churchill. Comes off a 8.5 furlong fake dirt G3 win and a decent Virginia Oaks G3 effort two back.
Sea Level Drive is easy to overlook but I'm intrigued. An N1X winner on poly at Arlington, she ends up in Leigh Bently's barn, runs a well beaten Place to Marketing Mix in the Pucker Up G3 at 25.5-1 odds and follow that up as the 1.3-1 chalk in an N2X win at 8.5 furlongs on the fake stuff at KEE. This Malibu Moon should like the turf here and Trainer Arnold has her back but there is some baggage there: Arnold is a 3% winner on Fake Dirt to Turf crossovers and a 7% stakes race winner.
Hungry Island, Louakhova and New Normal round out my exotic covers. Louakhova has never finished off the board in 7 starts and won in her North American debut at 1 mile on yielding turf in October. I may be foolish not covering her in the P3 but you can't cover everyone friends!
The New Normal has been training well at Woodbine for Trainer Frostad. Friends, if you aren't paying attention to the good horsemanship north of the American border, pay more attention, especially to Woodbine. The Canadians love bringing good horses south in the Winter. A G3 winner as a two year old, she's been training well but this is first race off a long layoff, a break Frostad wins 15% of the time off of.
I'm going to assemble a Superfecta for the Mrs. Revere and I will most likely follow my alternative bet selection for the P3, perhaps stretching out to one more horse in the Mrs. Revere, Louakhova and downplaying Smart Sting. Hmmmmm. Things to think about minutes before the gate throws open. By doing your handicapping well in advance, I can focus on bet construction, allowing the tote board to help me make some value judgements.
Have fun friends, Turk Out!