Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breeders' Cup Homework: Clockers Corner Digest

Handicapping involves taking multiple bits of information and then applying a final grade (or odds )to each horse.  Information should be treated on a weighted value scale;  For example Tomlinson Numbers may be insightful but as a factor its weight is not very much and shouldn't be one of the key factors used to predict the order of finish.

Clockers Reports on the other hand give me insight into the animals physical condition and how well the runner is training.  While the bias of the clockers comments are present and should be discounted, the work itself should be factored within your personal weighting system.  I tend to ignore the times a bit, just listening to hear that they are within the right band, but focus on the final 1/4, final 1/8, the gallop out, how the horse moved, who was working at the time, the time of the work in relation to the renovation break, etc. 

You can pay for some really good clocker reports but DRF always has Mike Welsch on the scene and its free.  Thanks to DRF. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Breeders' Cup Homework: The Classic

2008 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita minus the fake dirt

The Turk likes to start his homework with a video review of key races.  With today's release of Breeders' Cup PP's, its time to get down to work!

I'll be blunt;  I want to win a huge stack of money on Breeders' Cup weekend.  I think the field sizes and the lack of overwhelming class leaves the opportunity wide open. 

I like to start with the Classic and work backward.  Anyone who knows me knows I don't bother with two year olds.  I'm going to stick with what I know.  I may be an East Coast guy but I played Santa Anita heavy all year for a reason: I wanted to have a feel for the dirt here and I wanted to feel like a Great Race Place insider.  Check that box, I've played and played well the fast dirt and I'm feelin' it.  I've taken some time off the past weeks to recharge my batteries.  All in time now folks.

Let's get after it.

1 1/8 Mile Pennsylvania Derby Grade 2;  Dirt fast track;  Handsome Mike (86); Macho Macho, Golden Ticket

:49 1/5; 1:14; 1:38 4/5; 1:51 3/5

 1 1/4 Mile Travers Stakes Grade 1; Dirt fast track; Golden Ticket/Alpha (100) DH; Fast Falcon

:48; 1:12 3/5; 1:37 1/5; 2:02 3/5

1 1/4 Mile Jockey Gold Cup Grade 1;  Dirt good track; Flat Out (109); Stay Thirsty; Fort Larned

:47 1/5; 1:11 4/5; 1:36 2/5; 2:01 2/5

1 1/8 Mile Awesome Again Grade 1 @ SA; Dirt fast track;  Game on Dude (109); Nonios; Richard's Kid

:48; 1:11 4/5; 1:36 1/5; 1:48 4/5;

1 1/4 Mile Pacific Classic Grade 1; fake Del Mar dirt; Dullahan (110); Game on Dude; Richard's Kid

:46 4/5; 1:11; 1:35 1/5; 1:59 2/5

1 1/4 Mile Hawthorne Gold Cup Grade 2; Dirt fast track; Pool Play (101); Cease; Eldaafer

:49 2/5; 1:13 4/5; 1:40 1/5: 2:06 1/5

1 1/8 Mile Beldame Grade 1; Dirt good track; Royal Delta (106)

:46 3/5; 1:10; 1:35; 1:48 4/5

1 1/8 Mile Woodward Stakes Grade 1; Dirt fast track; To Honor and Serve (105); Mucho Macho Man

:47 2/5; 1:10 4/5; 1:35 3/5; 1:48 2/5

1 1/8 Mile Whitney Grade 1; Dirt fast track; Fort Larned (108); Ron the Greek; Flat Out

:46 4/5; 1:10 4/5; 1:34 4/5; 1:47 3/5

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Post Race Analysis Hoosier Park Late Pick 4

Neck 'n Neck:  Photo by Hearald Bulletin
The Turk spoke at length yesterday about choosing your betting targets carefully, and I must say I am quite pleased with my results from Hoosier Park's late Pick 4, which included the Indiana Oaks and the Indiana Derby.

My first piece of good advice was the consistency of the handicapping that was allowed by having a Pick 4 that consisted of all dirt races with all at two turns, and good weather.  In about 2 hours work (4 hours total when I add in the work pleasure of blogging) I was able to return over $1,100 by just applying my base handicaps over what is essentially lazy betting for me, simple boxes.  I made a key decision that made it possible, a decision I acknowledged pre race, the decision to single Grace Hall in the Indiana Oaks, and then fate helped as well (the scratch of Juanita gave me the cash to go as deep as Salty Strike in the Mari Hilman George).  Fate doesn't just go in the Turk's favor though, the neck that Fourty Nine Watts beat Shadowbdancing by in the Schaefer Mile cost me the Superfecta and an additional $4,200.  Spilled milk, never focus on the losses, there are no moral victories, only cash in or out of the wallet, and my wallet is phat right now.

I followed my basics, which to my five readers, I have articulated ad nausea over the years.  I focused yesterday on current form, current work, in the money records on the surface and the distance, and Hoosier Park work got a premium.  I successfully put Hurricane Ike high up my rankings while the bettors only had him 8th in the field based on his last good race, last year's solid work on this Indiana Derby day. I wasn't floored by Bob Baffert's deep stable that shipped here.  Good horses, but ask yourself why here?  They aren't prepping for Breeders' Cup work, he was trying to win something for demanding owners while he can in this season.  He's good at this, but none of his runners were locks, yet the name Baffert draws action.

About the only disappointment for me was all the scratches in the Indiana Oaks (4 horses); It really made the race not bettable, especially with one entry coupled. The second disappointment was the performance of Stealcase and Eastergift in the Indiana Derby.  I could have survived one of them failing and won the superfecta, but I couldn't overcome both have really poor efforts. 

Good stuff friends, it's racing like yesterday that really lowers my blood pressure and makes me remember why I love the game and this blog. 

Most of October's balance will be dedicated towards getting ready for my biggest betting weekend left in the calendar year, Breeders' Cup.  After going to the last two at Churchill Downs I've chosen to skip this years.  Why Turk?  Simple reason really, I can't  bet like I like to bet when I am at the event.  I get caught up in the social aspects of the races, I meet friends, I loiter.  At Turk Central I will melt down my ADW circuits with my complicated matrix superfecta bets and my goal is a $2,000 plus net earnings weekend minimum.  I never set expectations like that, it's a slippery slope, but I'm serious about these two days this year and I'm upping the pressure I put on myself to prepare.  Preparation is secondary to my profession, so I will fit it in and I have plenty of time. 

Have a good NFL betting day friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The Hoosier Park All Stakes Pick 4

Bourbon Courage: Lynn Roberts, Hodges Photography
In my last blog post, a post celebrating the fourth anniversary of "The Turk and The Little Turk" blog, I spoke of a lack of passion I've had this year.  The horses haven't been doing it for me as a fan, and while I'm a good gambler, I'm really a fan, and fans need passion and excitement to keep them engaged.  I'm not a fickle Turk though, this isn't about me shifting allegiances to tennis, WWF Wrestling, synchronized swimming or something eccentric, this is simply an admission that the current crop of handicap division horses makes me yawn more than scream, and the 3 year olds  have been an utter train wreck of injuries and heartbreak. Luckily there are some segments of racing that still get my heart beating, and as in life, its the ladies that hold my interest when all else fails.  I've really enjoyed the fillies and mares this year and sprint racing instead of what has been passing for quality classic distance racing. 

In year five of my blog I'm going to talk about more than just handicapping.  I'd love to tell you what subjects I plan to cover, but that's far more restrictive than I want to be.  I lead a fairly regimented and structured life, and with my blog I'm just going to let my (figurative) hair down and talk about ye' ol Turk and the world around me. 

We are in Breeders' Cup season now, with most of the heavy hitters either already running their final prep races or doing that in the next two race weekends.  The Santa Anita, Keeneland or Belmont tracks are where I am spending my time watching but when I looked for a handicapping opportunity this weekend, my eyes gravitated to Hoosier Park and the late pick 4.  I was turned off (as a bettor)my the field sizes in Santa Anita in the key races I cared about like the five horse Arroyo Seco Mile.  As a race fan I think its important to watch the 5 YO Japanese Trailblazer and the former Santa Anita Derby winner, Midnight Interlude

Big fields and nice pots of money for trainers to hunt for, isn't that what's its about?  It's a shame that racinos pull away product from the treasures of our race tradition, but those states get it and backward places like Illinois and California and New York don't. Anyway, I'm going to avoid religion and politics here at The Turk, but just about everything else goes. 

When I look for places to invest my racing capital I try to eliminate variables and tilt the odds a bit in my favor.  When I look at this sequence a few things popped: All dirt, all two turns, weather doesn't appear to be an issue

Race 9 is the Michael Schaefer Memorial Mile $100K, 2 turn 1 mile race.  By the way, Mr. Schaefer was a US Navy veteran likes yours truly and a war vet, just like yours truly.  Like is the case in big racino racing days, you get a pretty big differential in talent that competes, but you also learn the big name ship in horses don't always win, so don't feel like you have to play the chalk or nothing.  I think its a three horse race for win honors though.

Shadowbdancing is 4 of 5 in the money in 2012, 4 of 7 in the money in 2011, 26 of 32 in the money on dirt and 4 of 5 in the money at the distance and the races lone millionaire. The 7 YO is consistent but never a lock. Ultra competitive, expect an in the money finish.

I'm looking for value and Hurrican Ike represents that; tacked up today by new trainer Michael Stidham, he hasn't run as well as he has since this race a year ago. First time on dirt since a hideous Texas Mile effort in April. 3 of 3 in the money at HOO with 2 wins, winless in 2012.

Good Lord switches turf to dirt, and returns to a surface where he freaked out two back to back triple digits Beyers and sprint distance.

Baffert must be respected, clicking off wins at a 31% clip right now, and he brings Bejarano in to ride Hoorayforhollywood; Most likely the big chalk, its prudent to cover in P4 but I'll take a stand a bit in the superfecta shading him down and not singling.  The 4 YO Storm Cat has the look of the real deal but was a bust in the Grade 1  Malibu and seems to be stuck in an Optional Claimer class. 

Race 10 is the Mari Hulman George $100K. Classy of the DRF to spell Ms. George's name wrong in the Past Performances, a truly special woman and friend to all animals. 

Baffert's Ellafitz will command mondo respect and cash but I'm looking for value and Michael Maker's Juanita, if she goes here (entered KEE R8 7 Oct 12) will be my dark bay or brown hope.  1 win in 1 try at HOO, 4 of 6 in the money at the distance and 10 of 12 in the money on dirt, with 5 wins. 

Absinthe Minded goes for D. Wayne Lukas who I've been a bit critical of, and I should shut the F**K up about him, as he is a legend and he's doing what he loves and I should just view him as I would any 9% trainer and not expect him to be at the top anymore.  I am happy for him to see him get of the mat with his graded stakes win percentage.  This 5 YO ran 5f in 1:00 4/5ths recently and when she's on, she's on, like her Grade 1 Apple Blossom Place to Plum Pretty earlier this year.

I'll take my chances against Salty Strike and Brushed by a Star is capable.

In the Indiana Oaks the lovely Grace Hall goes for Tony Dutrow with Ramon Dominguez up. A dud in the Alabama as a well beaten chalk to Questing et al, a pretty consistent runner, 8 of 9 in the money lifetime and the race's lone millionaire by a bunch.  May single, but we'll cross that bridge later.

Amie's Dini has been training well and will be a big price if you like that sort of stuff, well like just about every player,  Seems to be getting better.  Hmmm.

The coupled Uptown Bernie and Wine Princess will be competitive but I like Bridgemohan's mount Wine Princess a bit more.  Both need to show more speed if they have it. 

I've been an Eden Moon fan all year, you have to go back to 3 March at SA to find a good effort on dirt, and the ship for the Kentucky Oaks wasn't worth the travel expense.

When I rattle on about what I don't like about racing, its the lack of fields and field strength.  I don't care if this field for the Indiana Derby is world class, but its full and vibrant and there is enough class to make this fun.  I was so enamored as I write this I really don't know who I'm backing.  I'll start with Bourbon Courage, the Grade 2 Super Derby winner last time out, with that on the heels of the place finish in the Grade 2  West Virgina Derby. Conventional wisdom is the horse will step back at some point, but we save conventional wisdom for the bullshit pile here at The Turk. I have him on top but I'm not sure if he has the class of others here. 

Easter Gift, a Hard Spun son, has been training well at the Saratoga training track since early August and in the middle of that, a nice win in the slop in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones for trainer Zito.

Fed Biz is a lightly raced Baffert that ran well on dirt at SA and won a stakes at Del Mar over that crappy fake dirt track that I try to ignore. Hard to judge really what he has here. 

I like Stealcase and Neck 'n Neck quite a bit; Stealcase's sire, Lawyer Ron, rest in peace, was a favored colt of mine and his loss still makes me a bit emotional, resonating like the deaths of Tuscan Evening and Lost in the Fog and George Washington still do with me.  Don't tell me you're a race fan if you can't tell me who your heart hangs heaviest for.  Alydar and Ferdinand gotta mean something to you too!

I think I digressed.  Stealcase is a good, not great horse, honest, with a trainer in Mark Casse who is comfortable taking shots.  I like that! The Haskell effort was solid, not embarrassed in the Travers, this isn't out of the question.  Neck 'n Neck  is a Flower Alley, cut from similar cloth. Training well, the Grade 3 winner came just short in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and also wasn't embarrassed in the Travers.

I'll be going vertical and horizontal and we'll see what kind of fun we can make today into.  I hope whatever track you play find races where you can tilt some of the variables your way.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!