Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The Wilshire Handicap Grade 3 at Hollywood Park

Flames in 1949 were unable to destroy it, but sixty odd years later apathy and indifference places the future of Inglewood's Hollywood Race Track in jeopardy. With this in mind, The Turk fits in trips to Hollywood when his schedule allows, and tomorrow, it allows.

The Turk is off on business all week, but his nights in the hotel will be dominated by Kentucky Derby and Oaks handicapping maddness. With that marathon starring me in the face, a relaxing trip to the track, handicapping and enjoying impromtu conversations with fellow punters is just what the Doctor ordered.

This is hypocrite Turk talking now: I'm Ok with the fake stuff at Hollywood. There, I said it. It plays fair and I have had a very good ROI with the current surface here, essentially handicapping it like turf. As far as the turf course, it's always been one of my favorites, a top three turf course for me. My long trip from Buffalo to LAX gets me into Hollywood just in time for the gates going open tomorrow, and the focus of my pre handicapping is the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap, one mile on the turf, for Fillies and Mares. Let's get after it! An eight field horse going one mile on the turf course.
Nereid carries the heaviest weight at 121 while Imperialist Diva (Ire) carries only 112. the Turk's tepid chalk is Go For North, at 118: 3 wins in 7 starts at the distance, 6 of 7 in the money at the distance, 11 of 16 in the money on turf and 4 of 5 in the money at Hollywood, the 5 YO Mare daughter seldom runs a bad race; Trainer Avila is 29% winner on the 2nd off 180 day layoff but Espinoza (14% winner) and Avila (17% winner) are winless at Hollywood in six tries over past year and only 9% winners overall in 11 tries.

Nereid is the expected tote board chalk, as trainer Shirreffs, with Mike Smith up, clip along at 18% overall but only one win in 13 at HOL over past year. Cutting back one full panel, the 4 YO Rock Ten Hard girl can rate or set the pace and is a Grade 1 winner on Hollywood turf.

Quiet Oasis (Ire) is a Reddam Racing runner trained by Ben Cecil, who places Blanc up. Training sharply but only one win on turf and none at distance or at HOL. She may represent good value as a win bet and I may even cover her in the superfecta win spot.

Wild Mia cuts back in distance as well. Trainer Jerry Fanning winless on turf and graded stakes but this Wildcat Heir Mare represents a chance to get off the schenid. Up in Time (GB) and a Turk favorite, Briecat round out the serious contenders, making this a fairly even field and a fun race to both handicap and watch.

Starting Monday, we'll be all Derby and Oaks every single day here at the Turk. I'm going to enjoy a quite day at Hollywood tomorrow and get ready for the storm.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Nominations Are In: The Turk Grab Bag-The Jerome G2, The Lexington G3 and the Santa Barbara G2

Every sport offers choices, and horse racing is no exception. When I sit down on Thursday night each week to target my handicapping and betting targets for the weekend I look at my options and try to identify races and sequences of races I think I can beat. I know, not a hard concept, so obvious but important nonetheless: Why bet something you don't know jack about? Why bet something you don't do well with?

bail·i·wick (bl-wk)
1. A person's specific area of interest, skill, or authority.
2. The office or district of a bailiff.
[Middle English bailliwik : baillif, bailiff; see bailiff + wik, town (from Old English wc, from Latin vcus; see vicinity).]

My boss is fond of talking about what's in someone's bailiwick. My nephew's bailiwick is hockey, money and ho's. I digress, My horse racing bailiwick is a bit less, ummm, interesting. My criteria is generally:

1. Graded Stakes or High Level Allowance
2. No 2 Year Olds
3. Limited 3 Year Olds before May
4. Turf at > 1 Mile but less than 1 1/2 Miles
5. Santa Anita, Arlington, Woodbine, Churchill, Hollywood and Saratoga primarily
6. 4 Year Old and Up Dirt at >1 mile and less than 1 3/8s mile.
7. 3 or more of these races, strung together, preferably Pick 4, not P6.

When I can't find what I'm looking for, or when I just want to enjoy a few races at different tracks in the same day I'll grab bag it and today that's exactly what I'm doing. To folks who know me best, they know I'm a Superfecta player and a Pick 3/Pick Four guy, but that sort of action takes a bankroll of disposable income that you must absolutely be prepared to loose as well as the right sort of horses and field sizes. Yes, it's gambling, and gambling involves guessing correctly at a number of variables coming together to make a correct answer, but my thought is why not eliminate some of the variables by staying in your bailiwick. Nothing wrong with trying to expand your bailiwick, just understand you'll loose money doing that unless you can just be disciplined enough to handicap without betting. Thanks to Papa Turk and the US Navy, discipline isn't any issue for The Turk.

My grab bag today hits closing weekend at Santa Anita, where I have had a meet to remember, Keeneland and Aqueduct, two tracks I have lightly bet over the last few months. I'm going to handicap all three races and if I feel like I can find value, I'll build bets, and if I can't, I won't.

No matter what your approach to the races is, have fun and stay within your entertainment budget. If you think you have a gambling problem, stop. If you need help, seek help. Turk readers are a disciplined bunch, I'd recommend you push away from the past performances and try something less destructive, like crossword puzzles.

Let's get after it!

While I'm grabbagging, that's no excuse to cut corners and not pay attention to the details. The weather in New York , Arcadia appear to be dry and clear while it will rain in Lexington early and may be dry by later in the day.

Scratches and changes, as well as track condition should be more apparent in the next few hours; The plastic stuff at Keeneland should not be an issue, Aqueduct will be fast and Santa Anita should be firm turf with a 24 foot rail.

The Lumber Guy gets back into the Aqueduct swing on a two week turn around, shuffling back one panel for a one turn mile. This is a race I'll really need the tote board to help me make my value betting decision on.

The Lumber Guy may end up being overbet or fall to a value spot
>3-1, and I just can't tell. Baffert has two very nice horses in the gate, a Flatter son, Brigand, with Nakatani up and Stirred Up with Garcia up. Both have something to prove, but it seems that Stirred Up will still be extending at the wire while Brigand may be tiring. Worth looking at is Term Loan: Class would tell you maybe not, and I don't think Win is a possibility, but a juicy Superfecta is often fed by strong value in the Place hole.

A phat field in the Lexington will most likely provide nice value. I'm leaning towards a Clement runner, Summer Front, who will most likely be third or fourth on the tote, to make a name for himself. 3-3, Clement goes off a layoff he's 19% with, and a turf/synth switch that he's at 20% with. Dominguez and Clement win 31% of the time together, quality meets quality.

Another guy with some value to him is Holidays Promise; Pletcher's Harlan's Holiday runner is training sharply over the KEE fake stuff and made a nice late run in the Grade 3 Spiral. News Pending and Baffert's Castaway are both looking to rebound after failing to step up.

A seven girl, international affair, nightcaps my handicapping day in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara. I've had a really good Santa Anita meet on dirt, but they've been monkeying with the sand/dirt mix for safety reasons, which is fine, but not something I wish to wade into on the last weekend of the season. After reviewing the field, I doubt I'll bet and this will be a purely handicapping/horse homework exercise. Camelia Rose (FR) makes her third start, most likely third time as chalk, and is still looking for first win. Trainer Callaghan and Rosario combined for 35% wins on 17 tries this meet. Cambina(Ire) is the veteran runner in this group. Vamo a Galupiar with Mike Smith up has a powerful closing run style as does, but maybe with less upper end potential, Bauble Queen.

Have fun with it. Turk Out!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wireplayers Derby Dozen Kentucky Derby Poll Volume 4

We are four Saturdays from the Kentucky Derby and the latest edition of the Wire Players Derby Dozen Poll has been released and we have a new comer to the top spot this week, Gemologist, a son of the handsome Tiznow pictured to the left.

Gemologist comes in off a strong, gritty performance in the Wood Memorial, just edging Alpha, our sixth highest ranked colt. Five for five, he was piloted on a perfect trip by Castellano and dug in up the stretch when Alpha extended. He's everything we've come to expect from the progeny of Tiznow and he is a key part of a deep group of three year olds that makes this year's Derby season really exciting.


Greatness requires competition,and Tiznow raised himself to greatness by defeating Giant's Causeway in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2000. Giant's Causeway's son, Creative Cause is our second choice this week, dropping down one spot after getting nipped by a nose by I'll Have Another. It's been 23 years since the Santa Anita Derby sent a champion on to win the roses. That winner, Sunday Silence. (We'll call this the six degrees of separation Derby contenders, as a certain Tiznow lived on a street called Sunday Silence, but I digress)

That very handsome son of Distorted Humor is the winner of the 2005 Travers Stakes, Flower Alley, who was followed in 2006 by Alpha's sire, Bernadini. Flower Alley's boy was as gutty and gritty as Gemologist, digging in against two hard charging colts to take the Arcadian prize.

I watch horse races over and over again and shake my head sometimes at the Beyer figures that are given out. I agree with Jeff Frank of the Miami Herald, this horse is a beast.

Graded stakes earnings will play a part in dictating a very deep field of quality thoroughbreds that enter the starting gate in Kentucky. The Turk will be ramping himself up this month in an attempt to decode the riddle and pummel the tote board.

Have fun friends. Turk Out!

I'd be remiss in not mentioning the sire of the Turk, Papa Turk, seen here with The Turk and Little Turk on Travers Stakes Day 2007. Bloodlines mean something.