|Bourbon Courage: Lynn Roberts, Hodges Photography|
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!