Let the Turk be clear: Bayakoa is one of my all time favorites and I still get goosebumps thinking of her.
I've been gone since the Breeders' Cup, a self imposed vacation. I think it's important as a handicapper to push away every now and then, especially when you self analyze your post race results and see the pattern of "trying to hard." For me, trying to hard often means trying to hard to be a wise guy, trying to hard to stretch for value when the obvious answer is starring me in the face.
I like the vacations, its almost like hitting the reset button. I've paid no attention to the racing since Breeders' Cup Saturday, have no idea which 2 YOs are in the Futures Pool, quite frankly don't care. I'm an older horse fella, even though I'll get sucked into Triple Crown madness like every year. Getting back into the swing of things is always harder than I think it should be: I've handicapped thousands of races but for some reason when I return I feel like I just got handed the red gel pen for the first time. I ease back in, I pick winners, stay away from the exotics for awhile and try to get my groove on.
I like to eliminate variables in my handicapping, but between now and March I find that one of the biggest challenges is trying to understand the Trainers intentions. It's not always to win the particular race he has entered, perhaps its to sharpen for two races down the road or its just to get a few more starts before the owner pulls the plug on the season or career of his runner.
The vacation is over though; one thing that is always true is I enjoy the time away but I enjoy the racing more when I return and I feel renewed. Let's get after this!
Again, it's sometimes hard to know what a Trainer's goals are. Most likely those goals aren't about winning in December when the racing world isn't paying that much attention. The race's sole million dollar winner, Inglorious, trained by Josie Carroll, with Mike Smith up, has been shutdown since July and seems to be just at the beginning of a path that is expected to lead the Mare to bigger things in 2013.
I like sharper animals this time of year and I'm backing Lady of Fifty this time out: 5 of 6 in the money on the fake stuff, 8 of 10 lifetime in the money and the Aftermarket filly trained by Hollendorfer, with M. Garcia up, has been training sharply at Hollywood since a 1 mile win 5 weeks ago.
Changethechannel is a3 YO English Channel girl who comes in off a sharp same distance win at Hollywood 3 weeks ago. Game and fast, I like the sharp last out effort and we'll see what happens.
I have a deep collection of Exotic Players (purple), most likely a bit of indecision after my layoff, but this is a pretty evenly matched collection on paper.
Bayakoa's Trainer, Ron McAnally, brings in his homebred daughter of Empire Maker, Charm the Maker, into the fray. Only two wins, both with today's pilot Gomez up, some really uninspiring Turf work, and no real reasons to hang my fedora on. I like the class to prevail.
Class Included and Inglorious will be breaking from the outside together; Class Included comes out of the Breeders' Cup Distaff and I don't like the way the bounce usually goes on that angle. 16 of 17 in the money lifetime but no fake dirt and no distance wins. Inglorious I expect will run well but how well, hmm. I'm shading down, just on the edges of Show and Exotic.
I like Willa B Awesome on the fake stuff. I may make a game time decision after watching the post parade and shade her up.
There it is, my first effort back off a 31-60 day layoff.
Have fun, Turk Out!