Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leftovers: A Slice of Cold Turk-ey

The business end of the Turkey, where all my best handicaps come from.

The Turk has a real problem: I love the Derby Trail, but I really hate betting these prep races because I'm just not that good at it. Instead of losing hard fought positive ROI on these equine rookies I'm going to blog-recap the best of the previous weekends races and let my trip handicapping eye influence my opinion for awhile.

Speaking of cramping my style, I've been so fixated on my actual gambling I forget to blog much in January. I just can't help myself, no matter how disciplined I think I am on occasion I flip the script on life and let it all go. I was a machine the last two weekends on the 4 YOs and Up and Turf races, and was quite content to ignore the youngsters. The calendar is about to change to February and the first 2012 Wire Players Derby Dozen Poll is about to be released so I better get my act in gear.

If you like great insight and snarky comments, check out the Derby Dozen folks every few weeks from now until the First Saturday in May.

I don't give much of a hoot about 2 YO racing, so the Holy Bull, The Count Fleet and the Sham were my first impressions so far.

Holy Bull

The Count Fleet

The Sham Stakes

I liked what I saw from all three winners but the trail's just starting...

Turk Out!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Nomination Is In: January 21, 2012; The Grade 3 LeCompte at Fair Grounds

Insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein.

Here we go again, another year, another Derby trail. I have this wonderful comfort zone, my happy place, where my ROI is pretty phat and I feel like I actually know what I'm doing, but I just can't leave well enough alone. With the annual return of the Wire Players Derby Dozen Poll it's time I figure out these three year olds. We had a rollicking' good time last year and I hope you enjoy our Top 12 polls and the free spirited fun that goes into them. Joe Hirsch would not be amused. What Dear Ol' Mr. Hirsch would respect is the Derby Dozen folks were pretty high on Animal Kingdom last year, well most of them except this idiot bald fella who loved Archarcharch. Pictured above is Mighty Hard Spun, the 2007 winner of the LeComte. Picture by Jane and we thank her for our use.

It's most likely a wet day in the Big Easy tomorrow so keep your eyes on the changing track conditions and the tote board of course. As this is a CDI track, you'll just have to deal with the very lame track website.

Before I go to far I will admit the Turk has been in a real horse racing funk since the Breeders' Cup, which quite honestly, was not the most exciting two days of racing I've been to. Quite possibly the annual lamest excuse of an awards show was conducted last week, the Eclipse Awards, and I'm just appalled at the quality and depth of what is considered worthy champions. I really believe that a horse should have to achieve some sort of "super majority" of votes to win an award, and I don't think there is anything wrong with not having an annual winner if there isn't a deserving nominee, it shouldn't be the lesser of three evils. I was happy for winner Claire Novak, the enterprising young turf writer who is such a champion of good within our sport. Claire won for her journalism chops, her merits, not because of anything else, and Little Turk and I congratulate her. Long story short, I'm starting to feel it again. You can't fake it, and us humans, well were human, good weeks and bad. I thank my friend Steve at Wire Players who unwittingly rekindled my fire by getting the band back together again.

Let's get it on!

Thomas Amoss is a Fair Grounds Hall of Fame member and he has some pretty impressive horse in the outside spot, Shared Property, a gelded son of Scat Daddy. He's got the biggest Tomlinson for the distance (396) and is a Grade 3 winner over the fake stuff already. Amoss wins 33% of the time, in 396 starts, over dirt.

Larry Jones, the Turk's personal favorite dirt horse trainer, brings in Mr. Bowling, a modestly bred son of Istan for breeder/owner Brereton C. Jones, the former Governor of Kentucky and a righteous man who thought it was a good idea to post these in schools. 2 wins on fast dirt, a win at the distance and some very impressive work over the FG track, including a fine :58 and 4/5ths on the 9th of January and a 1:00 and 2/5ths at 5 furlongs and 1:12 4/5ths at 6 furlongs, all in past month. Robbie Albarado up.

You have to respect 22% FG winner Rosie Napravnik when teamed with 29% FG winner Al Stall Jr. The combo works at a 36% win clip at FG on 25 tries. They together bring in Stormy Atlantic's son, Seven Lively Sins. Stall wins off the 61-180 day layoff 38% of the time. Not sure if he's a finisher and looking the other way right now.

One of Zayat's coupled entries is Z Dager, coming in off a sloppy effort at FG at this distance, taking the wire at 14.7 to 1. Assmussen trains the son of Mizzen Mast. The other half of the couple is Dan and Sheila, trained by Pletcher with Johnny V up. Second effort in career, breaking maiden in December at 1 mile at Gulfstream.

Exfactor, an Exchange Rate colt (very handsome by the way), has been very consistent in 4 starts, winning three over the dirt with a a Place in his MSW first try. Won at 6f at FG last time out by a nose and a Grade 3 winner.

An Artie Shiller son, Hammers Terror, looks pretty solid working up at FG for this effort. Trainer Stidham clips along at 25% wins over dirt but only 3% winner in this angle, the 2nd effort off a 45-180 day layoff. That's gotta just be a quirk in the stats? Hard to say, but the numbers are the numbers. :59 3/5ths at 5f and :48 flat at 4f, both at FG, as well as one win at this distance on fast dirt at FG. Tomlinson on wet dirt lowest in the field.

Capetown Devil, a 3 YO gelded son of Cape Town, is also a winner at this distance over this fast dirt at FG on 30 December. 3 for 3 lifetime. Trainer David Carol 0% winner, 4 starts in graded stakes.

So what am I thinking?

I'll string some superfectas and trifectas off of my base handicap; If it gets as sloppy as it appears it may, I'll expect some scratches and we'll just slide the coupled entry of Dan and Sheila and Z Dager up as needed into the top four.

I had a good time tonight handicapping this FG card and blogging about this race. Race 9, The Louisiana Handicap is really my sweet spot, handicap division over a route of dirt, and Mr. Jim Tafel has Fast Alex cranked up already and Pletcher has Alma d' Oro. This will be a fun race, goes to post at 3:55 CT, 4:55 ET.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 San Pasqual at Santa Anita

The Turk and the Little Turk are back in 2012 and we are proud to lead off the Handicappers Corner this year for the good people of The Thorofan.

The Turk loves the handicap division. It's pretty simple really too, I love numbers. I see elegance and beauty when I study a Past Performance. To people who know me the best, and who allow me to bore them the most, they know that I went years working a night shift where I handicapped whole cards, never once watching the physical race, just working the red gel pen only to repeat the process night in and out. It was my crossword puzzle, my Sudoku. It was the Internet that brought me back to racing after a lull in my interest, the Internet and horse racing on satellite television. This time of year, the older horses are either on the farm or they are just coming back to training and quality of the fields can be a bit so-so. This Grade 2 San Pasqual might not pass for an OC $40K N1X at another time in the year, but here we have it. I led off by saying I loved the handicap division because I like to deal with long racing histories and lots of running lines, but this group caught my eye in a bad way: 135 career starts, 4 fast dirt wins. Can you say ugh!

I do love Past Performances but I also love Race Charts. I have all eight days races in the current meet at Santa Anita printed and I'm starting my review of them this weekend. I'll break down the winning post positions, the basic race forms and pacing, and how the tote board rankings compared to the final outcome. I'm not so much interested in races like the San Pasqual as I am about gleaning knowledge about how the races might unfold in February and March and April, and I keep my own statistic. I prefer to gather my own stats because when you just look at the numbers you can sometimes miss the economy of word descriptions of how the race unfolded and the "story behind the story". It's too early to really hang too much on what I'm seeing but chalks are winning 38% of the time in my early review of the first six days of racing. I'm not interested in chalk today, let's see if we can beat em'.

Race 8 SA: The Grade 2 San Pasqual; 1 1/16 miles on Dirt

I'll assemble a reasonably priced $1 Superfecta built around my base handicap. I'll pay attention to the tote board as well as the scratches/changes and I'll either slip back to a Trifecta or pass altogether if there is a key (non-Toss Out) scratch.

I look forward to another great year meeting like minded horse racing fans. The Thorofan's Handicappers Corner has assembled a deep and eclectic collection of writers and handicappers, the best of the best in the blogosphere, providing keen analysis and insight from now until Breeders' Cup. Don't be bashful if you are new to the game, there isn't a blogger or writer who doesn't love to meet his readers, and you are in the right place, The Thorofan is all about the racing fan community.

Have fun, Turk Out!