Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile and Grade 1 Triple Bend at Hollywood Park

Who doesn't love a rematch? That's Smiling Tiger, with Rosario up, taking last year's Hollywood Park Triple Bend by 2 plus lengths over Camp Victory, these two, with The Factor tossed in, should make for a speedy seven panels in today's edition.

Is California racing in a bad state of affairs? It may not be at its peak of health, but cards like today's that include the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, with Little Mike, Mr. Commons, Jeranimo, and Turk favorite, Liberian Freighter, make me forget the troubles our sport faces, at least for one day.

The Turk's going to have to wax poetic in my second blog post of the day. I'll be returning for a Pick 3 of Iowa's Festival of Horse Racing, including the Grade 3 Cornhusker, Iowa Oaks and Derby. Favorites struggled last night at Prairie Meadows and we're coming for bear later. For now, Little Turk goes for soccer glory in the Fort Niagara Soccer Tournament and I'm off soon.

I've been really enjoying this meet at Hollywood. I think the fake stuff plays fair, and while I love the atmosphere of Del Mar, I hate that fake surface and will miss Inglewood in a few weeks.

Let's get after it!

I'll be building something out of this following these base handicaps.

More later, Turk out!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Post Race Analysis of the Mother Goose and Hollywood Oaks

Zo Impressive, the NY bred daughter of Hard Spun, nips Disposablepleasure at the wire of the Grade 1 Mother Goose. Prerace I settled on a bet strategy of putting Disposablepleasure on top of an exacta with Contested and Believe You Can in the Place Spot. I actually dropped Contested based her toteboard ranking but bet Disposablepleasure over Believe You Can and Zo Impressive for two $2 exacta tickets. I'm not a big fan of five horse races, but it was obvious there were four quality fillies in this race and the top two were not the ones I expected, but again, I am even now looking forward to The Alabama more than I was.

In hindsight the pace profile I expected from Contested and Believe You Can held up; :23/:46.47 / 1:11.28, it was the runners that cracked.

The Hollywood Oaks was another nip at the wire by Potesta over Eden's Moon.

This is the race I would normally have bet, but I just couldn't get my hands around the middle layer of horses: Via Villaggio, Starlight Magic and Eden's Moon, who I was less high on than the betting public that put her atop the tote board. My base handicap was good enough to string together a Superfecta, but I doubt I would have went six deep so this is a case of winning money by not losing money.

Willa B Awesome checked pretty hard in along the rail. I'll be happy to come back to her again. I wanted to see more from Killer Graces than we did. Eden's Moon bounced back nicely after the Kentucky Oaks flop and Potesta, in only her third start looks special.

2012 Mother Goose G1

2012 Hollywood Oaks G2

Have a good Sunday, Turk Out!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Nomination Is In: Graded Stakes Grab Bag: The Grade 1 Mother Goose & Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks plus Post Race Review Stephen Foster Pick 4

The sun is shining and summer is here. My mind drifts to my favorite place to be, Saratoga Race Track, with a season that's only 27 days away. The litany of races that I enjoy is legion, but the short list is The Kings Bishop, The Woodward, The Travers and The Alabama. That's the short list, I could babel on, but I've already made plans to be there on Alabama and Woodward Day which gives my work-weary mind something to look forward to. That beautiful gal pictured is the regal, Royal Delta, Alabama winner, Breeders' Cup Distaff Champion and last week's runaway Stephen Foster Handicap, errrrrr, Fleur De Lis winner. In a year that is devoid of older horse speed, Royal Delta suddenly seems like Game On Dude's biggest challenge in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Yeah, I'm getting ahead of myself, but I'm a blogger, I'm allowed to be irresponsible.

Today's pickings were a bit light. I'm going to focus on tomorrow's Woodbine Queens Plate Day but keep an eye on the fillies I hope to see the Alabama, and to do that, I'm handicapping The Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont and the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks.

I had an OK betting night last weekend on Stephen Foster Handicap Day at Churchill Downs. We'll take a peek back and at some of that action as well.

Let's get after this!

Kentucky Oaks 2012

Acorn Stakes 2012

Black Eyed Susan 2012

Have I mentioned how much I am looking forward to the Alabama?

Larry Jones is 25% off the layoff and Believe You Can is making her race leading 10th start and looks to add to her race leading career earnings of $1.06 MM. A Grade 1, 2 and 3 winner.

Contested cruised here at Belmont,essentially uncontested, in the Acorn. She's a major player, with wins at Santa Anita, Belmont and Churchill Downs. Her sixth start, she was the chalk in every one of her previous 5 trips to post. Baffert clipping along at 32%.

Watch the Black Eyed Susan (above)and tell me who was opening up in the last 1/16 after working so hard to get through traffic. That's right, the Gr/Ro. daughter of Giacamo, Disposable Pleasure. A nice play may be to put Disposable Pleasure, who'll go off >6-1, on top and key exacta with both Believe You Can and Contested. that's worth $4 bucks to me!

At Hollywood later tonight is an 8 horse Hollywood Oaks.

The Santa Anita Oaks 2012

Melair Stakes 2012

Hollywood Starlet 2011

If you have a pulse, you've enjoyed Willa B Awesome all spring. 5 of 7 in the money on fake dirt, a Grade 1 winner, a Grade 3 winner, the race career earnings leader and making her race leading 14th start. A zippy :59 flat 5f work this week. Lots to like but I'm going to back Potesta.

Trainer Mitchell's stats are eye-popping: 35% fake dirt, 32% off layoff, 28% won last start, 26% routes and 33% wins on 61 starts when he places Talamo up. 8 pound advantage over Willa B Awesome.

Killer Graces pulled a $28.40 shocker in the Hollywood Starlet in December but is winless in 2012. 5 of 5 in the money at HOL, 5 of 7 in the money on fake dirt, trainer Hollendorfer is 24% on the Turf/Fake Dirt Switch. Not sure if she can win, but she's got guts and will be in the mix.

Eden's Moon is a Grade 1 winner but comes in after flaming out badly in the Kentucky Oaks. Baffert has her sharp and she will be dangerous in this group. Winless on only one fake dirt start

Hollendorfer has Via Villagio as well, returning after a Beyer jump to win the Grade 2 Railbird at 7f on HOL fake dirt in mid May.

I think this is a nice betting race, just enough horses and just enough parity to keep the odds honest. I'll be constructing exotics based around my base handicap.

In last week's Pick 4 of the Stephen Foster Handicap Day, an excellent nigh time racing card at Churchill Downs, I had some good handicapping and some OK, not great, bet constructions. Highlights were getting Treasured Up into the Trifecta of the Grade 3 Regret. Positive ROI, more of a single than a home run.

Fleur De Lis 2012

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The All Graded Stakes Pick 4 on Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs

This Turk hasn't enjoyed a Triple Crown season as much as I enjoyed this years since Street Sense, Curlin and Rags to Riches thrilled me in 2007. I don't feel qualified to compare one crop of three year olds to another, but as a fan I'm more than qualified to talk about my relative excitement level, and amidst all the turmoil that still envelops horse racing, I'm ever the optimist that the bottom was reached and a brighter future is ahead.

One of the things I look forward to after the Triple Crown madness subsides is to see which runners, written off on the trail as not good enough, or worse, not even good enough to be on it, come into their own. My favorite horses are always the ones that run year after year until they retire, hopefully sound. I still await the next Lava Man, Einstein, Commentator, Brass Hat, Presious Passion to name a few. Race's like today's Fleur De Lis Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap is where those hard knockin' veteran horses strut their stuff, which makes today must see TV for me. Pictured above is Royal Delta, Alabama, Black Eyed Susan and Breeders' Cup Distaff champion. With those credentials, you had me neigh.

I love night racing on Saturday nights. I think it's a great way in the summer time to cater to the fans, not only at the track (because who wants to sit in 90 degree weather) but also the fans at home. I plan on being fully engaged with this card, and quite frankly, this is a Fathers Day gift, the time on a Saturday to watch these races, that I'm happy to accept.

While I may bet vertically within these races, horizontal was today's blog focus. I settled on the Pick 4, a bet that can be assembled within the confines of my personal bet limits, as opposed to the Pick 6, a speciality form of handicapping and betting that I don't have the skill with quite frankly. Know thy self: I'm less of a winner picker and more of a race talent evaluator. I excel at lumping the horses into groups, and those groups make up the potential winners, potential exotics and the toss outs. Know thy self: I'm more of a vertical bettor, I'm more skilled at it and my ROI is much higher with -ecta's than it is with P3/P4's. What makes us better as gamblers? Practice.

Let's get after it!

Churchill Downs Races 5-6-7-8: The All Graded Stakes Pick Four

In Race 5, The Matt Winn, Right to Vote is the most likely chalk on the tote board but I have Stealcase as mine: This Lawyer Ron (with saddness I think of the too few Lawyer Ron's)son lost by a neck to Belmont's Place horse, Paynter two back and comes in off a sharp CD 1 mile effort while driving. This is the race I'm not taking chaces with, overcovering slightly and I have Neck n' Neck and Macho Macho as well and we'll hope the longest odds take it.

The Grade 3 Regret has some really nice young gal's going at it. Michael Matz has Colonial Flag, with Leparoux up, looking for third straight Turf win. She has a very wicked late turn of foot and look for her to stalk.

Coup, an Augustin Stable runner, owned by Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame member, Mr. George Strawbridge, comes off an impressive win in The Hilltop on Preakness Day. Very curious how she responds today.

Centre Court and Treasured Up represent value here.

In the Fleur De Lis, I would be inclined to single Royal Delta, and I trust that Mott would not have entered her her if she wasn't sharp, but I hate the UAE bounce, I've been burned many times, and I'd just rather be safe. Afleeting Lady is my choice to pull the upset: a sharp :47 1/5th 4f work this week and enters off n3X effort. 5 of 6 in the Money at CD. I reckon if i wanted to really be safe I'd put St. John's River in, but you can't cover everyone.

And finally, the handicap division, and Wise Dan, a monster late in the season with a freakish Clark run and a huge Ben Ali Beyer last out. Only one win on Dirt, but it is here at CD. Fort Larned is my choice to pull the upset and add value. The four year old lost by a head to Successful Dan last time out, a horse that is expected to be scratched here.

I'd be remiss to not wish a Happy Father's Day to my Father, big Turk.

Big Turk has a big heart, even if it has a mechanical ticker keeping time now. He has always been my moral compass, enforced by hands bigger than boxing mitts. Happy Father's Day Pops.

I'd also like to wish my Father in Law a Happy Father's Day. He's a Saint for many reasons.

The greatest blessing in the world (in my humble opinion) is to be a parent. The Little Turk is a wonderful young man and makes me very proud to be his father.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The 144th Belmont Stakes Superfecta

I scrapped the blog entry that I wrote, just hit the delete button, right after the news that I'll Have Another was scratched. I considered not blogging or betting at all. Just numb. If you're reading a horse racing blog, I'm betting you know exactly what I mean.

Secretariat doesn't belong to me. In 1973 I was seven, and while my parents saw Secretariat race, those feelings aren't first person to me. Affirmed, different story. While hard for young people now to believe, horse racing was on television, was covered in Sports Illustrated, was in the daily newspapers. I remember like yesterday sitting at a family first communion party for my little cousin watching Affirmed win the Kentucky Derby. I remember vividly coming home from school to check the mail for my SI magazine. I experienced that Triple Crown as a horse racing fan, not a bettor, and the thrill of it is still deep set within me. I was convinced Big Brown was going to win. Take Desormeaux off and I would have declared it a lock. I liked I'll Have Another coming out of Santa Anita Derby, but I wasn't sold until the Preakness stretch run. My deleted blog entry singled I'll Have Another in the Superfecta, I thought he would win the Triple Crown. I had his summer mapped out in my mind. I saw him winning the Goodwood G1 before winning The Breeders' Cup Classic. Hope dashed, yet hope still springs eternal. Another Triple Crown season will come next year and another chance to fall wildly in love with a horse, a jockey and even a trainer and connections that while flawed, are really just a mirror of society in general.

I think this is a decent betting race still and I've built a 10 Cent and $1 Dollar Superfecta that has some value. Let's get after it!

A Baffert/Lucas Exacta- Is this 1999 or 2012? I like Paynter on top, but more gut feel than anything. Less polished that Dullahan or Union Rags, he's sharp and rested. Quite a class jump, but 4 of the last 5 Belmont Winners were starting their first Triple Crown race. Not singled, but solid value and a legit shot.

Optimizer is me being a bit, optimistic. Trainer Lucas finally broke his year long Graded Stakes slump. This English Channel son should still be running with a 1/4 mile to go. What a story this would make: Lukas, freshly stitched up, in a late career swoon. Storybook.

Dullahan has winner's credentials and I mean him no disrespect, I'm just thinking a bit different today. Roman's training regime, especially the the 4f :45 4/5ths run blow and the 1 mile work is mastercraftsman like. Winless in four tries on dirt.

Union Rags is a nice horse but not a great horse yet. I think he could be a very good handicap division horse and if he comes out of today healthy he still has a late summer and fall to make some noise with. I can't see a win, but just too good to ignore. I like the jock switch as Leparoux didn't seem to get the best of him this year.

Street Life goes for Chad Brown and has lots of talent. Five Sixteen is a gelded son of Invasor. Gut call.

After such a let down, today will just be about what could have been and a bit of fun with who's still left.

Have fun friends, Turk out!