Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 3 Skip Away and Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park

I love the big weekends like the next horse racing fan, and as a fan, I'm excited to see Union Rags and El Padrino face each other, but ugh, a rather uninspiring field is mixed in with them, and the card in general doesn't do much for me, so as a bettor, I'll pass on Gulfstream Park.

The duality of bettor and fan can coexist, but you have to do your best to not think with your heart. As a fan, embrace the horses with all your passion. It never gets old for me seeing these equine three year olds progress throughout the spring on a march towards the Kentucky Derby. The reality is that most of the Triple Crown nominated horses will not be successful on the biggest stages. Some of them will end up like Uptowncharliebrown, competing in today's Skip Away, other's, like Z Camelot will have a future on the turf. Regardless if they complete in graded stakes or optional claimers as long as they are well cared for, I'm excited to see them run and I love following their careers. In fact, I find the older horses more interesting and my mind and heart is captured by the runners who weren't the best three year olds but went out to do great things later in life. That's a bit of blasphemy, but oh well, I'm a blogger, I'm allowed to not spout the company line.

As a gambler I have no such emotions. I am looking for races that I can decoded and in order to have a good betting race you need some parity. Parity is what makes picking winners harder and what creates betting situations that are worthy of a capital investment. It is capital investing after all, more risky than some internet IPO, but as has been proven over and over again by disciplined bettors, if you stay consistent and you ride the good times and the bad, and most importantly, you know what you are doing, the rewards can be reaped.

I wasn't expecting the Florida Derby to be a great betting race, and what really hardened my mind to not betting Gulfstream today was the lack of a better older horse turf race, as the Appleton isn't very compelling. I will be paying attention to the Gulfstream Park Oaks, as I like Hard Spun's daughter, Zo Impressive, who trounced In Lingerie last time out.

Perhaps the last few paragraphs sounded like whining, that was not my intention; as a bettor we have many choices every weekend, my only point is you can be a fan and watch and not bet the card. Bet where you think you have the best chance to win. Keep it real, look for winners at odds greater than 4-1 and swing for the fences at the $2 window. Keep your money for the Single Barrel Jack you'll consume later. I'll be drinking some later with the classy folks from the Turk fan club.

I like my trainers with thin barns but deep integrity. That gentleman above is a man's man, a hero. I think of him in the same thoughts as Johnathan Sheppard and Bill Mott, Michael Matz.

I did handicap the card and I'll share my jaded thoughts on two of the races.

The weather should not be an issue. As always, keep an eye on track conditions and scratches and changes.

Have fun with it. I'm still studying my options but I think Santa Anita may be my alternative today. Turk Out!

Happy Birthday Tim- You are very missed!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Nomination Is In: March 24, 2012: The Late Pick Three at Turfway Park on Spiral Day

Funny things happen when a prep race launches a Kentucky Derby Winner, all of the sudden you are the place to be. Like Mine That Bird putting the Sunland Derby on the map, so has Animal Kingdom placed the Spiral Stakes back on the map.

For those of you who get sucked into this Triple Crown Derby Trail madness, this is a mellow weekend, the calm before the Florida Derby storm next weekend.

The latest edition of the insightful Derby Dozen Poll came out last week and the focus has really narrowed to some of the seriously hyped superstars at the top, which at least, they have backed up the hype with solid performances. With today's Spiral Stakes and tomorrow's Sunland Derby, some minor players will have a chance to impress and give the handicappers on Derby morning something interesting to think about.

The Wireplayer Poll was all over Animal Kingdom last year, so pay close attention to them as well as the folks at The Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance and Turf: An International Gathering of Horse Racing Bloggers. For those of you new to this sport, I know the lingo and the past performances can seem a little daunting. Check out Hello Race Fans!, a wonderful site for the beginner and expert alike. When all else fails and you need some real iron pipe locks, check out my secret handicapping weapon.

Today's affair is on the fake dirt of Turfway Park. Weather isn't much of an issue with the fake stuff, but there are thunderstorms in the area, so pay attention to the weather, the scratches and the changes.

I'm going to assemble a pick three out of my base handicap, using an assortment of horses coded Blue or Yellow. I'm planning on staying pretty close to what I have here in my base handicap:

As always, watch the tote board and strike a balance between the base handicap choices and value. An example of this can be found in the Spiral Stakes: Ill Conceived lost by a head to State of Play in the prep for the Spiral, the Battaglia Memorial. Shippers with plenty of hype like Heavy Breathing will garner lots of betting action and you'd be wise to place the Pletcher trained son of Giant's Causeway at the top of your base handicap, but are we here to win $2.10 or $10 bucks on a $2 win bet flyer? Straight on that friends!

Have fun with it, enjoy this weekend's racing. If you pay attention, this year's wiseguy favorite for the Kentucky Derby might be right in front of you.

Turk Out!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Post Race Analysis for Race Day March 3, 2012; The Late Pick Three at Santa Anita on Big Cap Day

While the Turk is a family man, he's not above celebrating wins in this humbling game. Big Cap Day at Santa Anita is one for the books for me, just about everything I bet turned out well, and the one I'm shaking my head at, The Super High Five, that elusive devil that I have chased and slayed before, I could have had, but the cost of admission wasn't something I felt confident to do.

No way around it, I've been cold since the Breeders' Cup, not that I've bet much anyways, I've also been distant from the game I love. Feeling ground down by my day job, I've had a real passion shortage and my mood has permeated my handicapping. The one thing I didn't do was try to buy my way out of my funk. I handicapped and handicapped, whole cards, mid week cards, just to shake out the cobwebs. I kept my betting consistent and I knew that the tide would turn. It's that sort of confidence that you have to have if you want to survive not only droughts but survive the good times too. My pre race analysis, just boxing my top six, would have returned nearly $11,000, but it wasn't to be, I only place those kind of bets when I feel 10 foot tall. I feel a bit taller again today.

Thanks to the Lovely Mrs. Turk for her patience with my horse racing mistress. As for the girl in the Panama Hat and the cigar, just a loyal reader.

Let's get after it!

Back in December and early January I made a serious commitment to playing Santa Anita regularly, and when not playing, reviewing the race charts. I have a pretty good feel for the track and how to evaluate the workout tabs over the track. I built base handicaps that I thought were a bit chalky but realistic. From those I tried to find value for the bets.

In Race 9 I saw little value; I liked Reneesgotzip more than Eden's Moon before the race but Eden's Moon clearly has more upside.

In Race 10 I liked Mr. Commons over Willyconker, but I had the bettor's fourth choice high and just as importantly, I had Massone, Megaheat and Make Music for Me as the bottom three and out of the way.

In race 11 I asked in my pre race blog, Why is Ron the Greek here? Trainer Mott doesn't ship for kicks, and he was saddling his first runner of the meet, so why? To win. He had a live horse and a $750K pot, not much else to consider really. This was really nice, competitive field. I was semi surprised how high Setsuko went on the tote board, but he is a California favorite. I had the top five in my top six, only missing on Ultimate Eagle who couldn't outrun his Tomlinson.

Why can't I do this for the Thorofan Handicappers Corner? I guess everyone needs their own personal SI Cover jinx.

Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: March 3, 2012; The All Grade One Late Pick Three at Santa Anita on Big Cap Day

Hello friends, I'm writing this from the wind tunnel known as Western New York today. I can't remember in my lifetime such a mild winter, punctuated my oddities like multiple wind storms and snow lightning. It's felt like spring since, well, fall ended, and I'm not complaining. I will start with saying a quiet prayer for the people in the mid west who are dealing with just hellish tornadoes, the aftermath is what is rolling through my area now. I know what 70 miles per hour feels like, I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to go to sleep and be awakened by nature's killer. Anyway, I know like many of you I turn towards the horses and the track as an escape from the ugliness and the pain of the outside world, but it's hard not to ignore such a tragedy tearing through horse country.

With the season turning towards spring very soon, horse racing season does pick up a notch for me. Older horses running at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter over dirt is my idea of ultimate racing. The Big Cap, The Santa Anita Handicap, is celebrating its 75th running. The race is a treasure of imagination to me: Seabiscuit winning in 1940, Shoemaker up on Round Table and Ack Ack, four straight legends with Affirmed in 79', Spectacular Bid in '80 and John Henry in '81 and '82 with more recent memories the back to back wins of Milwaukee Brew and Lava Man, as well as my favorite older horse Einstein in 2009.

Before we go to far let's look at the track record setting 1979 Affirmed in 1:58.6. How soon till that falls? I don't think today but the way the Arcadian speedway is playing, its only a matter of time.

I'd also be remiss in not mentioning, ah what the hell, showing 2001 Tiznow by special request.

I'm not sure yet how I'm going to play the races, horizontally or vertically, but I've built my base handicaps and they are a bit chalky in the first two legs.

Santa Anita Races 9-10-11

There's no chance of rain and the track should be fast. In Race 9, The Las Virgenes, I sure like Reneeesgotzip; training very sharply and enters fro Trainer Miller (18% last start winners) off a crushing win in Santa Ynez Grade 2. The only thing I don't like is Trainer Miller's Soul patch (just kidding!)

Eden's Moon comes in for Trainer Baffert looking very impressive. Training very sharply with :46 1/5th at 4 furlongs and 1:12 2/5ths at 5 furlongs, as well as an 11 length win in a MSW 56K in January. Stepping up, maybe ready to step out. I'll most likely sit on the sidelines on this race but I will look for value with Willa B Awesome who I'll want >6-1.

The Frank Kilroe Mile is Race 10 and it's hard not to like heavy chalk Mr. Commons, the 4 year old son of Artie Shiller who seems to have come into his own after returning to California following last year's Preakness. Two straight 1 Mile turf wins in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes and The Arcadia. Trainer Shirreffs and Mike Smith winning 24%of races together at SA.

Jeranimo and Willyconker (Ire) will be close: Willyconker (Ire) came late in the Arcadia and should still be value as a 40K claimer in a Grade 1. I'm thinking top four for Trainer Doug O'Neill.

Jeranimo is 8 of 11 in the money over turf and 5 of 6 in the money over Santa Anita turf and at 6 YO, is the race's career earner at $840,000.

Jeranimo got the better of Mr. Commons in the Oak Tree Mile.

I'm curious about how Jimmy Simms runs and Compari will be in the mix. Jimmy Simms is firing bullets of 1:10 4/5ths and 1:11 3/5ths at 6 furlongs, good stuff, and Asmussen and Nakatani are clipping away at 23% together at SA. Compari dropped back in class and string two wins together, beating Willyconker in an 80K OC in January and is a Grade 2 winner.

In the Big Cap a field of 13 compete and there is an awful lot of quality in this race.

Trainer Mott ships into Santa Anita with Ron the Greek. Why is he here? To win obviously, or Mott would not have picked the spot. he's got the only classic distance win of this group and has gone a mile and a quaretr twice while the rest of the field combined has tried 5 times. I'm looking for value and I think he represents that at >6-1.

As a horse racing fan, I love Ultimate Eagle; Let's watch him crush the Strub field in early February.

Strub G2 1 1/8 Dirt SA

That was his first dirt win and he really throttled Jaycito and Prayers for Relief.

Setsuko and Norvsky have my attention; Dick Mandella in a bit of symmetry trains the gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect. He prepped in an N1X in February and then fired off a 1:12 even at 6 furlongs and a smokin' 1:23 4/5ths at 7 furlongs. He lost by a nose to Game On Dude in the fastest edition of the race last year in 15 years. Norvsky is looking for his first dirt win as a 6 YO, but he is full of class on turf and 13 of 15 in the money over grass. Trainer Warren wins 55% of his Graded Stakes on 11 tries and 20% of his Turf/Dirt Switches, although he's a 25 winner on Dirt and 6% at SA overall.

Uh Oh Bango will draw some attention. Here he is in the San Antonio

The San Antonio G2 1 1/8 Dirt SA

I'm more apt to try Holladay Road or Gladding; Holladay Road is a Cal State bred for Trainer Canani with Bejarano up. A nice 1:11 4/5ths 6f signals good form and Canani is 33% off the 31-60 day layoff. Sadler's Gladding has been freshened since the Ack Ack in November and while training well, Sadler is just 13% off 61-180 day break.

Have fun with this friends, Turk Out!