Friday, November 1, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Breeders' Cup Classic Grade 1

Welcome friends to The Thorofan Handicappers Corner and this handicap of the Breeder's Cup Classic presented by The Turk, with the aid of his trusted sidekick, The Little Turk. I'd like to start by thanking The Thorofan for the opportunity to share my thoughts with their readers, and I'd like to encourage horseplayers to consider joining the growing ranks of a premier fan based organization like The Thorofan.
Handicapping and Gambling are different sides of a coin to me.  I almost always start with a base handicap.  My base handicap is just a reordering of the horses within a range of expected finishes, what I layers.  I try not to get too emotional about the horses, but its hard as a fan and a handicapper.  That said, when I'm investing money, I try to leave emotions at the door and remain completely objective.  One way I do that is to not get caught up too much in the pre race hype that accompanies these major horse racing events.  I tend to avoid reading the slew of excellent turf writers who cover these events, especially the human interest pieces.  Perhaps that takes away some of the fan experience, but it also helps me eliminate outside biases.  My point is that my almost 30 years of handicapping has taught me that a consistent approach to handicapping is important to improving your ROI into the black. 
I think I digressed and I tend to do that!  I start with a base handicap and I develop an opinion as to how many legitimate horses are in a field and what the pace situation is expected to be.  With that thought I can layer speed, stalking and closers into what I believe is the right layer of finish.  I seldom enter a handicap with a particular choice on the betting menu already chosen, but for major racing events, I am held is sway by the Super High Five, that shining cup at top of the mountain that few sip from.  OK, dramatic yes, but as a handicapper and bettor, its my ultimate challenge, as elusive as a Pick 6, and a crazy adrenaline rush when you hit it, which I  have on several occasions.

If you are looking for a safe win bet, leave now, as this is not the blog for you.  That said, when I prepared my handicap I saw a layering that lends itself to The Super High Five, and that is a layering of the talent level of the horses within the field, which I think is pretty defined, especially with the scratch of Ron the Greek, an especially hard horse to layer.  You can keep up with any other scratches or changes here.

Let's stop chatting and get after this.

When you enter a handicap with a particular bet in mind, which again is not my typical approach, I take one of two tacts:  I see value and I have a wide open win spot OR I have an overwhelming favorite and I am going to back the favorite, either singling or having no more than two horses layered to win.  With Game on Dude here, I am taking the later approach, placing him as a single on my ticket, and moving on.  A couple of thoughts:  A boxed 7 horse $1 bet on the Super High Five would cost you $2,520, a six horse box is $720 and a 5 horse box is $120.  These are expensive bets.  They pay out in the thousands, and I've hit a few that have paid out $4,000 and I've come within a head bob of $75,000.  You can't cover everybody in an exotic bet.  You will have to make choices based on your read of the past performances, how the track is playing, and ultimately have some luck.  Game On Dude is 5 for 5 in 2013, 7 wins in 8 starts at Santa Anita, 8 of 11 in the money at the distance, 10 of 16 on fast dirt, training fast and Hall of Fame jock Mike Smith up for Baffert.  I'd place his odds of winning at 2 in 3 tries and that's good enough for me to make this single selection.  Would there be more value placing him Second and having an upset winner, perhaps Will Take Charge, nipping him at the wire: Absolutely and I encourage my readers to have the stomach to make those type of bold bets, as the payout will be phenomenal. 

Which leads me to my next digression: Make your own opinions.  I've been handicapping for many years, and blogging my handicaps for some time too, and I've never once said that I had an iron pipe lock of a handicap and that you would be foolish to ignore my opinions.  Wrong! I have stunk this Handicappers Corner up to high heaven over the years, but I've also had my share of success.  Just have fun and bet responsibly.  I think I digressed again.

I have a three horse layer for Place:  Will Take Charge is a horse I loved early on the Derby trail and was happy for Lukas at the Travers and the PA Derby that this horse he patiently conditioned had arrived.  Boon or Bust, I have him 2nd through 5th.  Mucho Macho Man I think is the best of this group: He's run awfully well at Santa Anita but there is absolutely nothing to make you think he wants 10 panels.  The only difference between my $96 and $84 dollar bet ideas is being a bit more behind Mucho Macho Man and only covering Place and Show.  Finally, the champ, Fort Larned, cannot just be casually ignored (like I did last year).  I'm not sure he's been challenged all year and I don't have any sort of feel for him.  I think he could finish anywhere from Place to 8th. 

My last layer is Palice Malice, Flat Out and Paynter.  Any of them are good enough to go Place-Show and you could make a strong case to flip flop Palice Malice and Mucho Macho Man and Paynter or Flat Out with Fort Larned.  Again, you have to make choices. 

Choices.  Such a dirty word sometimes.  Toss outs are a choice and historically someone from this group will gallantly charge into 4th or 5th place, 12 lengths behind the winner and screw up the bet.  I like Last Gunfighter quite a bit:  4 wins in six starts in 2013, 6 wins in 12 fast dirt moments, and nice connections with Trainer Chad Brown and Castellano up.  Moreno will have early speed.  I'm expecting a deep fade in the last 1/8 mile, and I need that fade to be at least to sixth place.  Declaration of War is clearly very classy but I'm not biting and I am completely discounting Planteur (Ire), always a kiss of death.

I know I have at least one or two more iterations of my bet structure to make before tomorrow.  Play with your own, watch today's dirt races and see where the winners at a 1/8 pole, at the 1/4.  I expect most of the winners on dirt at Santa Anita to be the early speed, with the wild card being an extra length of track to cover. 

Have fun friends, Turk out!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Nearctic Grade 1 at Woodbine

The Turk has had a very busy past month or so: work, school, family, everything was stacked against me handicapping the ponies, but alas I've handicapped the card at Woodbine today and later tonight I begin Breeders' Cup preparations.

I believe in balance in life.  When I'm rushed in life, I shed all the things that aren't critical to me, like handicapping and blogging.  If my mind isn't clear and free to focus purely on handicapping, then I just wait until it is.  That's a big difference from when I was younger and I would cut corners and handicap quickly through the card so I could get some action in.  I practice patience now and it works for me.

I'm going to leave my base handicap now to speak for itself.  I'll be back soon to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this blog and take a look at the Breeders' Cup Classic contenders.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Presque Isle Downs Mile

I'll be the first to say it, I hate the way Presque Isle Downs changed their big weekend around. In years past, this race came on Friday Night, with Saturday Night being the Masters. This year? They put this race up against the home opener of the Buffalo Bills,  Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. Really? Tomorrow's game goes up against the first Monday Night Football game of the year, Really? Is this about your simulcasting revenue or actual fans in the seats?

I question if racinos like PID really do care about horse racing fans. For the past few years I've talked up PID and I talked up the savvy of having their big weekend the first weekend after Saratoga closes. They lost all that good will with this years scheduling AND their pathetic website which doesn't feel at all like horse racing actually happens at this track or that Groupie Doll is coming.  Do they know who Groupie Doll is?  Do they care?  Rosie Napravnik is coming.  Do they know that Rosie is an exciting rider and fan favorite?  Do they care?  Is that crickets or the sound of old people pulling slot handles.

This race is WIDE OPEN.  Wide open, after I think Hogy. Wayne Catalano wins 22% off the turf to fake dirt switch and a Grade 3 winner on fake stuff in late May.  Expect to watch him press pace before winning by a few lengths.

Beneath Hogy there is real value to be found.  Name recognition will bring dollars to Gourmet Dinner, Photo Shoot and Ponzi Scheme but I'm leaning in a few different directions in a completely speculative manner.  I like the current form of Whatthecatdrugin; it's a minor step up in class for the 6 YO gelding with $252,000 in career earnings but likes the fake dirt and will go fast to the front and try to wire it.  I'm expecting in top four.

Alpha Bettor/Awesome Overture/ Occasional View and Super Chunky is a blanket finish on paper;      Alpha Bettor is a Grade 3 and Grade 2 winner in past three races.  A nice :47 1/5th 4F bullet at WO in early September.  A serious win challenger but I'm going to slot him 2-3 or 4.

Awesome Overture is a lightly raced 4 YO Awesome Again son.  Nice run in Grade 2 Seagram Cup at WO.  Class but results not there yet.  2-3-4-5 seems to be the slot.

Graham Motion/Augustin Stables Occasional View also steps up in class but has nice N3X with at PID on July 4.  2-3-4-5 seems reasonable and win wouldn't shock me with real value north of 10 to 1 possible.

Super Chunky upon further review is no better than 4th or 5th here and I'm going to drop him back and insert someone from the next group Hoofit, Gourmet Dinner or Ponzi Scheme.  Hoofit, with Edgar Prado up for Graham Motion, hasn't won in over 11 races but he's come close lately and if forced to pick, I'm taking him for the 3-4- and 5 spot.

10 cent Supers and 50 Cent Trifectas are on the menu and this is a race worth swinging for the fences at.

Have fun friends, even if PID could have made it funner.

Turk Out!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Washington Park Handicap Grade 3 at Arlington

Willcox Inn
Glutton for punishment, I love these fake dirt stakes races, as rare as they are at Arlington Park, a jewel of a race track stuck in a backward ass stake known as Illinois.  Love the state, hate the elected leaders, but this isn't a political blog so I'll get off of it.

I like this race, the Washington Park Handicap, Grade 3.  I'm going with a bet right along my base handicap, with Willcox Inn singled, and four others just below. 
10 Cent Supers are on the menu.

Gallant Eagle is a key here; 4 wins in 5 starts at AP.  I need him to rate and finish in Place for real value.  Mister Marti Gras is a veteran runner, soon to be a millionaire, and can finish anywhere on the board but I'm hoping from Place to Exotic.  Hattaash makes his 39th start in six years.  Hard knockin'.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: The Woodward Day Late Pick 3

Paynter last year (insert sad emoticon)
 Welcome friends the the Labor Day Weekend edition of The Turk and the Little Turk.  Traditionally I like to be at the Spa on Woodward Day but it just didn't work out this year.  My family and I did get to spend a very lovely and low key day at the track on Thursday where Little Turk took home the Turk Clan handicapping challenge, parlaying consistent win and show bets into positive ROI.  It makes this big, bald idiot handicapper proud to know I have raised the next generation of horse players, that I've done my part to keep horse racing alive and well. 

Little Turk is growing up in an era where racing is just out of sight of most kids who aren't growing up in a racing town or the bluegrass. 

When I was his age, pre internet, I looked forward to my Sports Illustrated Magazine subscription every week, and during the Triple Crown season and during the summer there was a horse racing article every week. 

Paynter Now!

The children of this generation are barely exposed to the beauty of the race track.  Race tracks to me are like safe harbors, calm water where you get out of the daily rat race, forget the cell phone, forget the worries, and just relax.  I've exposed Little Turk enough to the sport where he's developed a love for it, and while it rates below Soccer, Football and Hockey, at least its above bowling and curling in the landscape of entertainment options for him.

Ahh Paynter.  I worried so about this proud and beautiful Haskell winner, son of Awesome Again  with Tizamazing as a Dam, as he recovered from serious medical problems, and I watched in awe at how he decimated an Allowance Field at Hollywood Park early this year in his comeback.  I love stories like this and its what makes me stay a horseplayer, the horsefan in me.  Thanks by the way for Casey Phillips for the use of that lovely photo of Paynter.  The one of Paynter being cared for I believe was Justin Zayat, but whoever took it, thanks as well.

I am a horseplayer first and foremost when it comes to my money.  I have no problem whatsoever with how anybody bets, and we all know people who bet sentimental favorites.  The Turk doesn't pretend to be anything other than I handicapper who brings a consistent approach to his handicaps and bets, winning more than losing, but I am not the type of handicapper, the type I avoid and don't particularly enjoy spending time around, who believe they alone understand the Rosetta stone of racing. If you want to bet Paynter because you are inspired by him, go right ahead!  The horse racing fan is thrilled to see him at the Spa today, I give Baffert credit for shipping him here when there were races at Del Mar that he could have done well with too. He will draw betting action no doubt, which will leave me my Pick Three single, Successful Dan, at a better price.  horseplayer and horsefan can coexist-  I'm assembling a pretty low risk Pick 3 and if Paynter wins, I'll be happy too. 

Let's get after this!

I like the field in the Bernard Baruch quite a bit: Turallure, down lately, Tetradrachm, Za Approval and Silver Max are all fine quality, and So Long George, a shipper from Woodbine, must be respected too. 

I like those five in some combination for a Superfecta;  The base handicap has Silver Max on top and I like the :58 3/5ths bullet he dropped at SAR on the 18th of August and I think he'll be OK even if the turf isn't firm.

It's a good time to bring that up.  Track Conditions are hard to say for later.  Keep your eye on those and the scratches and changes.

Going in his second off a layoff is Tetradrachm, a horse quite frankly I had never heard of before (and i can't say that too often in the Stakes Races).  The 4 YO gelding won at 1 1/16 on firm SAR turf this meet and Bill Mott and Johnny V are clipping away at 27% together.

I'm a Clement fan and Za Approval is a classic late turn of foot turf runner.  6 wins in 12 turf tries, 9 of 12 in the money on turf, 2 wins in 3 starts at the distance and a SAR victory in his resume. 

Turallure has gone a VERY long time between wins but lost by a head over turf listed as good at SAR this meet and can't discount him for Show or Exotic.   I may have So Long George too low but I typically don't back Woodbine shippers into SAR to win so I won't cover in the P3 to my peril.  His Nijinsky Grade 2 win was really well done and can't be discounted from hitting the board as high as Place. 

The Grade 1 Forego at first blush seems a Zayat Stable slam dunk, and are they plotting a Forego-Woodward sweep?  D. Wayne Lukas revival continues to go well as Fast Bullet comes to his barn, along with all the promise that 4 wins in 5 starts brings for a lightly raced 5 YO.  His game for this 7 furlong affair seems pretty simple: go fast and hold on.  He's won on an off track and he may get loose on the lead and fly across sealed dirt.  Fast Bullet is Coupled with Justin Phillip, no slouch either and the winner of 4 starts on off tracks. 

I like either Lea or Sage Valley to throw the upset.  Lea is going on dirt for only the second time but does have a win on slop. Al Stall picks his marks well and B. Hernandez is up and the two win 26% of the time together. There is no Wise Dan in this race to thwart the 4 YO First Samuri runner.  Sage Valley has been training very well for Rudy Rodriguez and this winner of the James Marvin looks very capable.  I like this as a betting race very much and we'll be playing supers with the base handicap.  Is Jackson Bend really six?  I'm feeling old!  Not a bad $3,000 Hear No Evil son. 

In the main event the scratch of Fort Larned takes some of the sizzle out of the betting but we'll manage with what's left.   Put your hand up in the air if you've bet Flat Out away from BEL and got your teeth kicked in?  2 wins on off tracks and two sizzling works for Bill Mott's runner and recent Suburban G2 winner but zero of three wins at SAR.  Ron the Greek, another Mott I've consistently screwed up since the Lecompte (is Ron the Greek really six years old?  Now I do feel old!) doesn't seem to be at his best right now.  I'll most likely flip flop him and Paynter depending on the track conditions, as I know Ron the Greek doesn't mind slop but I don't know about mighty Paynter.

Successful Dan does seem to be in good form but he'd be going on the off track for the first time in his career.  Paynter would be for the second time since the slop of the Derby Trials at CD last year.

I've only got one betting option right now, an $18 dollar 3 by 3 by 1, with my single being Sucessful Dan.  I doubt this wins quite frankly and sometimes the process of typing out my handicap sways me.  I'm more likely to single Silver Max, go three deep with the coupled entry in the Forego, and maybe 4 deep in the Woodward, pushing the bet out to $24. 

I'll be watching the weather and track conditions before I have to make my P3 bet at around 4:30 ET.  have fun with it friends, we shift towards Belmont and Santa Anita next as we start to gear up for my favorite betting weekend of the year, Breeders' Cup. 

Turk Out!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The All Graded Stakes Pick 4 at Saratoga on Travers Day

Hard Spun, 2007 winner of the King's Bishop, and the first Grade 1 race attended by The Little Turk and a day filled with memories like the Kentucky Derby Winner, Street Sense, having to have his best race ever to hold off a game long shot, Grasshopper.  The Spa is a great place on just about anyday, but when 40,000 people are screaming as the field turns for home, it's electric.  Today, with great weather and big fields, the racing should be truly memorable.  Little Turk and I couldn't make it to the Spa today as we had commitments back home, but we'll be enjoying a few days at the track this coming week and we'll have to enjoy today's racing vicariously through our friends in attendance.

50 Cent Pick Fours are on the menu.  I plan on playing the Pick 4 horizontally and then each individual race vertically.  I'm going to let the Base Handicap speak for itself right now as I have more work to do to prepare for the bet itself. 

Let's get after it! 

The King's Bishop is pack with quantity with a few quality runners mixed in.  The Travers has quality and quantity. 

Whichever way you go with your betting, have fun.

More importantly, I've never asked the readers of The Turk for anything, and I'm not asking anyone to do something now, but if you could consider the fundraising request below I would deeply and humbly appreciate it. The people involved with this young colt, Timothy James, are all very good and decent folks who need help paying for emergency colic surgery.  Animal people understand this. Timothy is back home but the vet bills are seriously big. Please help if you can.

"....Timothy James (the colt) had to have emergency colic surgery last night & needs financial support along with the many prayers. He is named after our Son who sadly died 9/26/2011. His owner, Maria Borell & Timmy are now "family" to us & we want to help ease their great financial burden. Our Facebook Friends/Family all know what this special colt means to the Reynolds' Family. What an amazing memorial tribute this would be to our Tim "Tiznow"! Thank you in advance, from the bottom of our hearts, for any support you that you are able to send!!"

Thank you from the Turk in advance

Turk Out!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Sky Classic Grade 2 at Woodbine

Sky Classic was the 2 YO Horse of the Year in Canada and later in his career he won an Eclipse Award in the United States as the Best Turf Male.  Today's race is a worthy contest in his name, as the top five in my base handicap are all of exceptional class and quality. 

The race is in about an hour, so I won't prattle too much about layers, and base handicaps and blah , blah blah, lets just get after it!

Perfect Timber will need to run the race of his four year old life today, but the son of Perfect Soul (Ire), owned by the exceptional smart Charles Fipke has been training sharply since a career best in Place to Forte Dei Marmi (GB) in a 12 panel G3 at WO on yielding turf in early July. Forte Dei Marmi (GB) has also been training exceptionally well, and both are trained by Roger Attfield.  He's got Da Silva up here so the shrewd Attfield must feel strongly that the results will be the same, but we'll see. 

Hampstead Heath and Grand Arch are both trained by Brian Lynch.  Grand Arch will most likely strike the front and i predict the 4 YO gelding will be going backwards at the end. 

Irish Mission is the one that can rain on the parade;  Mark Frostad's filly from Giant Causeway must prove she can step up in class as well as beat the boys.  A minor prize seems possible. 

Hotep is a shadow of himself at but still could surprise. 

20 cent Triactors  and 20 cent Superfectas are on the menu.  I'm leaning towards a 5 horse box Super and a 4 Horse Box Tri. 

Have fun Friends,  Turk Out!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Race 8-9-10 Pick 3 at Saratoga including the Alabama and Sword Dancer

Royal Delta-Alabama Stakes Winner
I've thrown the white towel in this year.  I'm not handicapping the Arlington Millions Day card.  I play Arlington quite a bit, and I do very well both on the turf and the fake dirt, but I have had some of my most horrid, absolute abysmal handicaps over the past few years on Millions Day.  I've embarrassed the Turk brand, and worse, I soiled The Thorofan Handicapper's Corner, with wretched handicapping.  I am taking a break from that sort of emotional baggage this year as I think it clouds my ability to handicap dispassionately.  That said, I choose Saratoga, a track I don't play especially well, and I was a bit underwhelmed and disappointed to find a a six horse Alabama Stakes, made worse by the early scratch already of Tell a Great Story

I'm mostly a race fan today, as the cards I've spent time studying don't thrill the degenerate gambler side of me, but for a bit of thrill the Pick 3 seems like a low risk way to feel a bit of engagement with today's races.  I handicapped the Sword Dancer for the nice folks at the Thorofan Handicapper's Corner, and I'm going to bookend that race with an Optional Claimer and the Alabama.  I think I'll single Princess of Sylmar unless Fiftyshadesofhay is something much better than the 2-1 morning line dropped on her. 

Anyways, let's get after this!

As a betting race, the 8th is a neat race; big field, nice quality, and a dividing line between the talent and the filler.  Royal Blessing and Master Wesley seem like the best of the bunch, 4 YO's, good barns, and they still have a career ahead of them if they step forward.  I'm five deep on my Pick 3 for this race but just lazy.  Ampersand and Kathy's Kitchen I'd put above Lead Singer but Lead Singer represents some value if Trainer John Kimmel and Maragh, up, can build on the 3 YO's last race and bullet work. 

In the Sword Dancer, which I blogged in depth just yesterday, I think I only look to Big Blue Kitten and Boisterous

Have fun race fans on a full day of top flight racing action. 

More importantly, I've never asked the readers of The Turk for anything, and I'm not asking anyone to do something now, but if you could consider the fundraising request below I would deeply and humbly appreciate it. The people involved with this young colt, Timothy James, are all very good and decent folks who need help paying for emergency colic surgery.  Animal people understand this. From Facebook today

"....Timothy James (the colt) had to have emergency colic surgery last night & needs financial support along with the many prayers. He is named after our Son who sadly died 9/26/2011. His owner, Maria Borell & Timmy are now "family" to us & we want to help ease their great financial burden. Our Facebook Friends/Family all know what this special colt means to the Reynolds' Family. What an amazing memorial tribute this would be to our Tim "Tiznow"! Thank you in advance, from the bottom of our hearts, for any support you that you are able to send!!"

Thank you from the Turk in advance

Turk Out!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Sword Dancer Grade 1 at Saratoga

The Sword Dancer Grade 1: A Handicap by The Turk and the Little Turk.

Friends, thank you for reading and welcome to this handicap written for the Thorofan Handicapping CornerThe Thorofan is an organization of racing fans who cater to the racing fans.  It's run by some great folks and is spreading every year.  If you are like me and crave a bit of horse talk on a regular basis, then you will find all the social interaction you need here. 

The handsome man and equine is none other than J. Elliot Burch and the 1959 Horse of the Year, Sword Dancer.  Burch, a Hall of Fame Trainer, just recently died in 2011 but he belongs a part of every Saratoga summer, as his charges won many a race just off of Union Avenue. Burch is a four time winner of the Travers Stakes, a feat alone that reserves reverent remembrance.  I personally remember Sword Dancer as a two time Woodward Stakes winner, a Travers winner, a Belmont winner, and Sire of Damascus, winner of so many races except the Kentucky Derby, conditioned by yet another Hall of Fame trainer, Frank Whitely Jr. 

The Turk likes turf racing.  The pace scenario is typically understandable on the races between 1 3/16 and 1 1/2 miles: stay close, keep a clear lane, run like hell at the end.  You'll get your occasional maverick who wants to charge out to a 20 length lead and wire the field, but most of these races run the same way.  My keys have always been to identify class, late turn of foot and who's done it before. 

Races as investments are risk/reward: You put your investment capital on the line and you expect a return. I'll save diatribes about take out for others as I accept take out as a market condition that I just have to factor in.  One thing I like about Turf Races of this kind usually is the field size, as anytime you lump 10-14 horses together there will be prices to be found, even on the cream of the crop. 

I think there is a clear dividing line with this field of 13, as my initial count has five possible victors and I expanded my exotic pool to eight.  I like to start by watching some video of the last race or two from some of the key contenders. 

6 July 2013; Monmouth:  1 3/8 Miles Firm Turf;  Grade 1 United NationsBig Blue Kitten, Teaks North

13 July Belmont Park;  1 3/8 Miles Turf Good- Grade 1 Man O' War; Twilight Eclipse, Al Khali, Optimizer, Exclusive Strike, Boisterous

I like Boisterous and Big Blue Kitten at the top of the chart and if forced to single I'd take Boisterous but that's pretty light chalk.

Boisterous is 15 of 21 in the money on Turf and 9 of his last 11 in the money.  No wins in only one try at this distance and one win on Saratoga grass.  This 6 YO Distorted Humor son, Trained by McGaughey and ridden by John Velazquez rattled off :46 2/5ths  on the grass here on August 5th.  Maybe likes softer grass and is carrying 123 pounds, so thoughts to consider. 

Big Blue Kitten is coupled with the veteran gelding Stormy Lord.  Winner of last two firm turf runs, the Grade 1 United Nations and a $100,000 OC at Churchill Downs two days before the Kentucky Derby.  The 5 YO is 15 of 16 lifetime in the money, 13 of 14 in the money on turf, a winner at Saratoga, but new to this distance. Trainer Chad Brown is winning 29% of turf starts and 31% of routes and he's 33% off the break. 

Optimizer, owned by Calumet Farms and trained by Wayne Lukas is a 4 YO English Channel son with 27 career starts already, 15 on turf, and 10 of 15 in the money with 5 wins over grass. He doesn't win much but he'll be competitive.  I'll be looking at him for Place and Show in the Trifecta. 

Twilight Eclipse still has something to prove.  While I can't embed because Gulfstream aren't as blogger friendly as they could be, check out the Pan American   at 1 1/2 miles from earlier this year.  I'm not sure he beat much except maybe Newsdad and Teaks North, but he looked good doing it with a perfect rail trip. Castellano, the pilot that day, is up again.  Seems to be improving for Tom Albertrani. 

Teaks North is a hard knocking horse I've always appreciated.  If I'm trying to keep the investment lower though I drop him out of the Trifecta, but I do it at my own peril.  Capable of Show or Last. 

Exclusive Strike is a 6 YO Smart Strike gelding, perhaps singularly the turf horse I've lost the most betting his offspring but I don't hold it against him!  It's class warfare with him, great in OC 16K affairs, not so much in this company. 

Nutello:  Your guess is as good as mine.  A Kentucky born Lemon Drop Kid son from Nutcase returns from France without much success in graded stakes action but 5 wins in 13 starts.  No idea.

Al Khali, London Lane (Colonial Turf Cup 2013 Winner) and Tannery (Ire) are mild threats for Show and little separates them from Teaks North, Exclusive Strike or Nutello. 

Judging from my numerous betting options I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'm writing this on Friday and I have time to check the Turf Conditions and Scratches and Changes.  The last part of my decision making process is always an honesty moment with myself:  Do I want to bet this?  I'm a horse tracker investor, so I'm not opposed to it, but what is my likely chance of success?  My ROI on American 12 panel racing is not very good and in fact a money loser over the past four seasons, albeit with only a sample size of about 25 races.  Ultimately it will come down to the tote board and if Boisterous and Big Blue Kitten can stay closer to 3 or 4 to one each.  I will keep working my options until I get my two dollar investment between 30-50 dollars. 

Good stuff friends, as always, have fun and don't bet what you need to live.  If you have a problem, get some help, there is plenty out there.

More importantly, I've never asked the readers of The Turk for anything, and I'm not asking anyone to do something now, but if you could consider the fundraising request below I would deeply and humbly appreciate it. The people involved with this young colt, Timothy James, are all very good and decent folks who need help paying for emergency colic surgery.  Animal people understand this. From Facebook today

"....Timothy James (the colt) had to have emergency colic surgery last night & needs financial support along with the many prayers. He is named after our Son who sadly died 9/26/2011. His owner, Maria Borell & Timmy are now "family" to us & we want to help ease their great financial burden. Our Facebook Friends/Family all know what this special colt means to the Reynolds' Family. What an amazing memorial tribute this would be to our Tim "Tiznow"! Thank you in advance, from the bottom of our hearts, for any support you that you are able to send!!"

Thank you from the Turk in advance

Turk Out!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The John C. Mabee Grade 2 at Del Mar and a Special Request for helping colt Timothy James

The Turk, fresh off a handicapper's holiday, just can't get into the 2 YO's that much, and the youngsters are the focus of the weekend at most tracks today.  When I looked at the stakes schedule I was drawn quickly to this race, but after looking at the PP's, I'm not so sure.  Today's John C. Mabee could be a wonderful race with two of the best distaff turf runners in the game today, Tiz Flirtatious and Lady of Shamrock, but it needs at least three more post positions filled out to be a fun betting race. 

A five horse Graded Stake.  In my mind that should make the race lose graded stakes status for this year as well as next.  If the tracks can't fill the races, they shouldn't get the stakes.  Yeah I know, the Turk is most likely smokin' something, but as a race ran, a 5 horse turf race just isn't that enjoyable and there should be a penalty for not filling the gates, like, I don't know, eliminating the stupid races mid week, reducing the race calendar, but what do I know. 

I'm not sure I'll invest in this one or not;  I do think Lady of Shamrock will turn the tables on Tiz Flirtatious, but that's not exactly going to make a stack of bills appear. Trifecta is on the menu if you feel so inclined. 

More importantly, I've never asked the readers of The Turk for anything, and I'm not asking anyone to do something now, but if you could consider the fundraising request below I would deeply and humbly appreciate it. The people involved with this young colt, Timothy James, are all very good and decent folks who need help paying for emergency colic surgery.  Animal people understand this. From Facebook today

"....Timothy James (the colt) had to have emergency colic surgery last night & needs financial support along with the many prayers. He is named after our Son who sadly died 9/26/2011. His owner, Maria Borell & Timmy are now "family" to us & we want to help ease their great financial burden. Our Facebook Friends/Family all know what this special colt means to the Reynolds' Family. What an amazing memorial tribute this would be to our Tim "Tiznow"! Thank you in advance, from the bottom of our hearts, for any support you that you are able to send!!"

Thank you from the Turk in advance

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The P3 at Saratoga featuring The Fourstardave

My handicapper's holiday is over. I wasn't off blogging fashion and I didn't stop handicapping, but I needed a break. Every summer I usually take some time off, typically in July, to clear my mind and to recharge my batteries for the second half of the racing season. I went about 2 weeks longer than usual this year, as first my day job had me doing some difficult travel, screwing up my Friday night handicapping sessions, and also I took a summer course working on my MBA and a 4 CR course in eight weeks can suck the life out of you. I think it's important to put the red pen down every now and then and just watch the races without any betting action. It helps me to hit the reset button and take a fresher eye to what I'm doing.

From a handicapping ROI perspective, I don't fare well at Del Mar or Saratoga. That's not opinion, purely fact from the statistics that I keep to help me understand my racetrack investments. I tend to fare better on turf than the dirt at SAR, and I just flatly refuse to play the horrible fake dirt surface at Del Mar. For my first blogging assignment back I'm looking at the Pick 3 that features the Fourstardave.  Fourstardave, the Sultan of Saratoga.  My first summer at the Spa, when I came as a 19 year old, was 1986.  A year later the Sultan arrived and began his 7 year run of excellence.  Rest in Peace.  The Fourstardave is the logical place for me to start my Pick Three preparations, and the challenge will be finding value in the Pick 3 if Wise Dan wins the race at 3-5 or less. Thanks to Alysse Jacobs for the use of her picture. 

Wise Dan is the first older horse since Zenyatta to go on such a streak of dominance.  He enters today's racing with 8 wins in 9 turf starts, winning on a yielding surface at 128 pounds in the Firecracker at CD.  He'll be wearing 129 pounds today over a track that most likely isn't firm.  To lose would create a whole heck of alot of Pick 3 value.  It seems a worthy endeavor.  Let's get after this!

You guessed it: This P# isn't worth playing for me unless I can have a bit of fun and swing at the fences. The only glimmer of a chance on paper is the 129 pounds Wise Dan carries, 11 pounds more than Za Approval and 12 more than King Kressa. I typically don't get a hoot about weight differences but the spread is pretty big and Wise Dan will cross over less than firm conditions and most likely have to chase King Kressa into the final 1/16. I'm hanging my hat on that battle, with Za Approval, the Clement trained, Lezcano ridden turf winner of 6 races. I'll cover King Kressa and Za Approval and most likely not cover Wise Dan as we are taking a feast or famine approach.

Race 8, an N1X $87,000 allowance race, is seemingly wide open, but on closer examination a few her bubble to the top.  Michael Maker's Leadem in Ken, with Castellano up, makes his third start, winning a 1 Mile on CD turf last time out.  Maker's a 24% turf winner with 503 starts and wins 30% of his Won Last Start races on 272 tries. 

Abraham, who made mild buzz on the Triple Crown trail, is a Pletcher/Velazquez entrant who hasn't won since February and makes first turf try.  Nice :47 2/5th turf work on August 5th.  Classy son of Distorted Humor for Winstar, Pletcher wins 16% of first turf situations.

Bill Mott's got a first time with trainer (24%) (1st turf 10%) runner with Ghost Hunter.  Darley Stables injects lasik into Valid for the first time in Valid, bred by the late Edward P. Evans.  McLaughlin is also a 10% winner with first turf.

Race 9, the Auntie Mame, is a stakes race for 3 YO fillies who have never blah blah blah.  A Bona Venture runner, Summer of Fun, has personal appeal for this Western New Yorker. 5 of 5 in the money on turf, I like this gal's chances.

Silsita is a heavy hitter who flamed out in the Kentucky Oaks against some really talented runners.  This seems like a very good spot for the winner of the My Princess Jess three weeks ago.

Bella Castani, in Lael Stables silks, trained by Clement, is a daughter of Big Brown and 3 of 4 in the money over turf. 

I like both Effie Ticket and Praia to both make good late turns of foot. 

So what do we have for the pick three?

I plan on enjoying the Wise Dan run regardless if he wins or loses, but I think I'm positioned well if he was to be upset. As a gambler, that's a situation I look for every week.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Colonial Turf Cup Pick 3 (Race 6-7-8)

Edward P. Evans loved his horses.  Rich beyond the comprehension of most horse players, Edward P. Evans was an everyman around his horses, enthusiastic and deeply involved.  His Quality Road was my last thoroughbred obsession, and with his death on New Years Eve 2010, there is a void left in the owner/breeder/sportsman ranks that has yet to be filled.  Barbara Livingston assembled a photo essay as a memorial to the late Mr. Evans for the Daily Race Form that is worth taking a look at on this special day in Virginia horse racing, a state that honored Mr. Evans 9 times as Breeder of the Year.

As a horse fan and a horse gambler, I was pretty disappointed today.  I planned to play Belmont's late Pick 4 but I was very turned off by a 5 horse Mother Goose Stakes.  I flipped over to Hollywood only to find a 5 horse Hollywood Oaks and a bunch of 2 YO races.  I don't want to sound like a crabby ol' Turk but I can't do anything much with a 5 horse field, it doesn't play to my strengths and it isn't even that compelling.  Colonial Downs wasn't my last choice, it was my first choice for turf today, but only seven horses in the Grade 3 All Around and 8 horses in the Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup still bugs me, but its adequate enough to handicap and assemble some small bets.

I'm still in a bit of shock over last week's Stephen Foster Handicap;  I didn't see the break out/return to form of Breeders' Cup Classic Champ Fort Larned.  Shame on me, but I don't think I would have predicted those results ever.  As handicappers we have to have short memories and put the missteps aside: The horses don't read my blog, they don't get the memo, get over it Ye' Ole crabby Turk.

Let's get after this!

The two key races of this Pick 3, the graded stakes, have smallish fields for turf races, but a core of quality horses in each.  Race 6 at 7:10 Eastern Time is the Edward P. Evans All Along.  The turf should be firm come race time.  Channel Lady, a 4 YO English Channel daughter trained by Pletcher with Castellano up, should be a money magnet and will go off at even or less than even odds.  6 of 8 in the money on turf, 6 of 9 lifetime in the money with 4 wins, loser at 1 mile on good turf last time out.  On paper she has the class and the connections.  Fairly dull morning work.  I can't help but tip my hat to her as the best horse in the field but I'm going to bet against her. 

So who then? Appealing Cat, an Augustin Stable runner for Trainer Motion, with Prado up, is the sort of sucker horse I've lost plenty of races with.  The 4 YO Successful Appeal runner bred by Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame member George Strawbridge seems to be going well right now with an N3X win and a warm up effort Grade 3 at Pimlico last month on Preakness Day.  I also like Adjacent, a 7 YO Boundary Mare for trainer McGaughey and Lezcano up.  Cutting back in distance off her last effort at Belmont, 8 of 10 in the money lifetime. 

Embarr and Welcome Dance round out my possibles.  Welcome Dance is intriguing: Sharp work in prep of first race since October She may push the pace.  My thought is that Channel Lady and Adjacent will chase the pace and Appealing Cat will fire late off of that pace.  Do they read the blog?

The Colonial Turf Cup field is also well balanced, with only Roadhog and London Lane being tossed.  I like Atigun to win.  The 4 YO Istan runner,  cutting back in distance, is 4 of 5 in the money in 2013 with a clunker in Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and decent efforts all round. 

Air Support will get alot of play but only one win in last nine starts, but a few big efforts to Place, including last year's edition of this race, losing to Turbo Compressor by 1 1/4 lengths.

Hyper is interesting;  Trainer Chad Brown is winning 29% of turf races, 21% of Graded Stakes and 33% off this sort of layoff.  4 of 4 in the money in 2013, the 6 YO Victory Gallup runner for the Ramsey's may still have a new level to achieve in his career and today could do that.

General Logan should come late off the pace.  Swift Warrior has a good chance to upset the applecart too.  That's as deep as I'm going.

I'm going to build some reasonable Trifectas and Superfectas for both Race 6 and 7;  Both bets for both races will be the same with the superfecta 3 over 5 over 5 over 4 for a $6 dollar ten cent bet and the Trifectas  3 over 5 over 5 for an $18 50 cent bet. 

The Pick 3 I'm toying with either 3 horses over 3 horses over 3 horses for a $27 dollar 1 buck bet OR a 2 horse over 2 horse over 7 horse $14 dollar 50 cent bet. 

The Turk's Rolex fund is growing with my winnings but today seems like a pretty chalky affair so I'm more interested in having fun than losing big.  Always bet responsibly and get help if you need it.

Turk Out!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs

Thank you to the Thorofan for allowing me the ooportunity to handicap for my fellow race fans. 

The Stephen Foster Handicap is the traditional kickoff to the second half of the horse racing season.  From this day a week after the Belmont, especially in the handicap division, all eyes are pointing forward to the Breeders' Cup Classic and races like this are great springboards for that.  What's not traditional is that it's under the lights, and while it is not traditional, very cool and I'm excited to have prime time racing to watch tomorrow night.  My only disappointment is with the field size of six.  While you could make a strong case for five of the six horses to win, at the end of the day it's a six horse field and I'm an exotic handicapper.  So what to do?

Well, the field size doesn't  preclude exotic options, but you have to be smart.  The Turk has been playing horses for a long time and the mistakes stick in my brain as much as the successes.  I hate to admit this, but many an exotic bet over the years I've won only to lose money.  Sad but true.  You can't over cover, and you can't invest more than you think the bet will pay.  If the bettor's top three choices come in 1-2-3, don't expect more than a two digit Tri and Super payout. 

But I'm ahead of myself:  The handicap always comes first.  I'd like to report to you that I see a horse in this field that will go to the gate greater than 8-1 and win but I'm not sure that I do.

Successful Dan comes in off a fake dirt win at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Ben Ali in April.

Successful Dan went :50 flat in the half, about :49 1/5 through the mile and rolled home for the last 1/8 of a mile at :11 2/5ths.  A criminal pace.  I don't think he'll be allowed to loop along like that today on dirt.  That said, you don't win 8 of 12 on a fluke pace or go 11 of 12 in the money by luck.  A very serious 3 wins in 4 starts at CF, with the one blemish the infamous DQ in the 2010 Grade 1 Clark Handicap

Ron the Greek, the now 6 YO Bill Mott trainee comes in off a game Show effort against Game on Dude in Charlestown Classic Grade 2.

Ron the Greek will be coming off the pace, most likely from several lengths back. 

Take Charge Indy, the 4 year old A.P. Indy colt comes in off a romping draw off win in the Alysheba Grade 2.

10 of 12 in the money, Take Charge Indy has won only once since the Florida Derby early in his 3 YO campaign. 

Golden Ticket is an up and down kinda runner.  J. Rosario is up for Trainer McPeek. Rosario is a 35% winner at CD with 14 wins in 40 starts.  4 works at Churchill since winning at 1 mile on May 2. 

Fort Larned, a 5 YO El Dubai son, had two miserable starts in 2013 tossing B. Hernandez off at GP in March and not firing in the Oaklawn Handicap Grade 2.  6 works at CD since the last effort, he'll either totally surprise me or he'll be out of the money, feast or famine.

Pool Play, the one horse I don't feel can win; You have to go back to the Hawthorne Gold Cup in October for his last win and comes in off two dull efforts.  The 8 YO Silver Deputy horse should be the longest odds on the board. 

I'll be honest:  I'm not sure if I like my bets or not.  I like my handicap.  I like Take Charge Indy on top and I think Fort Larned has a chance to not fire again, continuing the trend.  I plan on an Exacta as well as with Take Charge Indy over Ron the Greek and Successful Dan for $4 and I'll most likely play the Super only. 

Determine your own level of risk/reward and try not to emulate the Turk who has at times learned to take big piles of money and "win" smaller piles of money by overplaying horses in my exotics.

Have fun friends, Thank you Thorofan, Turk Out!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks

"Hair of the Dog Handicapping"

The Turk should be talking about his $10,300 superfecta win today, but alas, I'm not.  If you look closely at my bet composition for the Belmont Superfecta, the win bet is in there, but I didn't bet the race aggressively enough. 

You live and sometimes learn as a gambler.  My philosophy has always been to be conservative, which means that I have very close to really big scores in the past, but I've also missed out on huge losses. 

We all have to have our own level of risk and reward.   I loved my handicap, regardless of the bet.  My tosses were spot on and I strongly identified Incognito as a key horse in the superfecta.  That's why you have to analyze your bets after the fact, to understand if you know what the hell you are doing or not.  I'm a better handicapper than a bettor,and there is always something to be learned.

Today's Woodbine Oaks, run over a very fair playing fake dirt track is a good bounce back for me, just to get the bad taste of yesterday's bitter loss behind me. 

Let's get it on.

I'll let my base handicap and bet speak for itself right now;  I don't see alot of value in this bet and I expect the top of tote board to hit the top spots, but let's take a shot and see how it goes. My key gal is Spring in the Air, good enough for Trainer Casse to lure Rosario to be up. 

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The 145th Belmont Stakes Grade 1

The Belmont: A Cecil B. Demile production
Who is going to win the Belmont Turk?  I don't know!  I handicap.  Handicapping is controlling variables and assigning percentages to the horses  and hoping they run on the track as they appear on paper.  Throw all that crap out the window today:  a very wet racetrack, a big field, and a crazy distance where the pace through the first mile or so very well will decide who will be in contention in the last 1/8 of a mile. 

It is unfortunate that the weather has been so bad, as the race on paper, the analysis of the past performances, is compelling stuff.  The rain should be gone, but the damage is done with the track listed as muddy currently. The track drains well and they will work it quite a bit, so I'm not going to worry too much about it and just build the bets the way I see them.

Which leads me to my next problem:  The way I see it is murky.  A gentleman I work with will often refer to overstaffed efforts as a "Cecil B. Demile" production, think a cast of thousands, epic in scope.  14 tired horses at 10 panels can often make for shear madness at 12 panels. 

I started my handicapping today with trying to identify some toss horses.  My preconceived Superfecta bet strategy is to single a winner and have a cast of thousands beneath, but I'd like to toss at least four out of the boat. 

Frac Daddy/1: Low Wet Track Tominson and never won past 1 1/16 miles.  have to go back to November 2012 for last win.

Giant Finish/4:  Low on the Class Scale, slow on the Beyer Scale, two wins in NYS restricted races.

Midnight Taboo/8: Lightly raced Repole/Pletcher combination, seems to be vanity entry.

Vyjack/11:  I like this horse, but this is gambling not Facebook Horse "Like" personality contests.  Very poor Kentucky Derby effort off a pretty good Wood Memorial.  Tough call, but I need to make some tough calls. 

Let's get it on!

My view of the field is that Orb is the best horse in the gate.  You have never, ever, read the Turk whining after a race about the trip, I don't indulge in such loser talk, but Orb didn't have a great ground saving run, or better put, ground saving but slowed.

I'm going to build some sensible sized Superfecta and Exacta bets around Orb singled on top and use the Cecil B. Demile cast of thousands wheeled underneath him in the Superfecta.  In the Exacta I'm only interested in value so my $14 bet may be adjust slightly depending on tote board odds at 6:40 ET. 

Have fun friends.  The Turk isn't that into the Belmont quite frankly, I'm not sure why, but I won't fake horse fan excitement.  The turf races are what I really enjoy on Belmont day but I'll pass because of the conditions.  Hollywood Park has a few nice turf races today and hopefully I have profits waiting out West. 

Mrs. Turk is betting Golden Soul and Little Turk thinks a "Filly in the Belmont" is worth taking. 

Turk Out!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Post Race Analysis of the Stakes Race Grab Bag: The Hendrie at Woodbine and The Californian at Hollywood

Layer Handicapping: WTF Turk?
I'm a layer handicapper;  I don't generally care which horse finishes first, second or last as long as I can predict which part of the field the horse will be in.  I break them into A, B, C and D, with A and B horses part of the Exotic ticket and C and below Toss Outs.  I provide shading sometimes with +/- but most of the time, I don't really care. 

Yesterday was a perfect example of layer handicapping, for on a day when both of my chalks finished dead last I still cashed 3 of 4 bets, winning two superfectas, one trifecta, and losing the fourth bet, a trifecta, when I refused to cover Clubhouse Ride in the top spot.  The bet would have been a net negative cash winner so I'm glad for that stroke of handicapper luck. 

All in all, a nice $75 net day for 1 hour of handicapping which could have been nicer but the overbet horses found a win to win both races, a bit of handicapper non luck; every action has an equal and opposite reaction I reckon!

At Woodbine, Delightful Mary off the very long layoff was the best by far.  Sid Attard with Heavenly Pride, also off a very long layoff, was second best.  Never be afraid of long layoffs when sharp trainers have been working them consistently for six weeks or more;  these sharp eyed men study the conditions book and find good spots to get the horse back in the gate. Little River, as in her last race, couldn't handle the distance and Trainer Cox must reconsider two turns.

At Hollywood, Clubhouse Ride did what I bet against, winning after 5 straight Place finishes.  I knew Liaison would be bet very heavy, so with those two 1-2 there was NO value at all in this race.  My chalk, Blueskiesandrainbows couldn't sustain the speed and with his loss, the value of the bet evaporated.  I lost $7 bucks on the Super and I could have won the Trifecta but not made any additional money  as I said prerace I would exclude Clubhouse Ride from the Trifecta top spot, the only change from my Superfecta base handicap.  The Tri won $55.70, the bet would have cost $56, so there you have it. 

This was less a demonstration in top skill as instead an example of solid handicapping, decent betting, and positive ROI, albeit a modest payout.  I am on the march to bang out positive ROI week in and out at The Turk, so I'll take the money and run.

Enjoy your Sunday Friends;  I can't say I'm giddy about the Belmont; I'm not sure what I'll handicap next week, and while I will wager something on the Belmont, I know there is better value out there amongst the graded stakes and I just have to find it.

Turk Out!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 3 Hendrie at Woodbine and Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood Park

The Turk was looking for interesting races that he could bet and win today. It seems like an obvious statement, but many horse players want to play a specific track regardless of the ticket or the conditions before them. I say, tilt the field in a way that works for you.

I am avoiding the New York State bred card at Belmont like the plague because the racing to me just isn't that compelling, and while as a fan I'm interested in a couple of the races at Penn, it's a track I seldom handicap and I don't plan to start, so I'll pass. I settled on two polytracks, but two tracks I have a good record of handicapping well. I guess the point I am trying to make is to look for betting opportunities where the odds are a bit tilted in your favor; just because you are at the track doesn't mean you have to bet those races. I am good with turf races between 8 and 10 furlongs but I know I'm not very good with 12 furlong races, so I skip those. I skip muddy and sloppy tracks when possible, I skip races moved off turf, I skip 2 YO races and seldom do I handicap 3 YO filly races. Know thy self and know which situations produce your worst results and avoid those.

Let's get it on!

The Hendrie at Woodbine is a very interesting race as most of the field have run quite a bit over that track and most have had success. Any of four gals has a chance to win and my tepid chalk is Little River, with Da Silva up. The four year old Exchange Rate daughter raced well at KEE and then came home to go win at WO in early May. Trainer Cox and Da Silva win 40% of the time together in 15 tries. 4 fake dirt tries have all ended in the money.

Acting Naughty from post 1 won the Grade 3 Whimsical in late April at WO by a head over Starship Universe and Katie Get Excited. 6 wins in 13 fake dirt tries and 13 of 16 in the money on WO fake dirt.

Trainer Sid Attard brings Heavenly Pride here off a layoff since September. The 5 YO Sky Mesa Mare has been training steady since April and should offer a nice price.

Trainer Mark Casse goes one step further, bringing Delightful Mary in off a layoff since March 2012. The 5 YO Florida bred is training very sharply and has three wins in 4 starts at WO.

Starship Universe and Katie Get Excited are in the mix for the exotics while I tossed Man Stuff and Actionontwo from any prizes. 20 cent Superfecta and 20 cent Triactors are on the menu and I'll place one of each.

At Hollywood, the Grade 2 Californian at 1 1/8 miles over fake dirt is a pretty competitive as well. I'm also present a tepid chalk here as well, Blueskiesandrainbows, pictured above. Hollendorfer and Bejarano are 31% together in 48 tries at HP and 32% together over running year in 123 tries. That's money. Weakened at 1 1/16 last time out.

Liaison, 6th in the Kentucky Derby and this year's Santa Mile winnerwon the Grade 3 Leyroy that Blueskiesandrainbows faded in. Kettle Corn was there too. Hmmm......

Liaison will be bet hard: 6 of 6 in the money on fake dirt, 5 of 5 in the money Hollywood, but no wins in 3 starts at the distance.

Kettle Corn is impressive as well: 12 of 13 in the money on fake dirt and 7 of 7 in the money at Hollywood Park. 7 wins in 21 starts lifetime for the 6 YO Candy Ride (Arg) trained by Sadler with Espinoza up.

The betting here for me is against Clubhouse Ride.  5 straight Place finishes and only 3 wins in 27 tries.  I respect the 5 YO, but not enough to back the win in the Trifecta, only in the Super. 

Oilisblackgold, Holladay Road and Batti Man (Arg) are too sharp to not consider for a minor place on the ticket, so no tosses in this one. 10 Cent Super and $1 Trifecta options are available and I'm going to try one of each.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Post Race Analysis for Race Day 25 May 2013 at Arlington Park

."...left Money on the Table"

Without high expectations, I approached my handicapping of Arlington yesterday.  I was encouraged by what I thought were very poor morning lines that could be exploited.  I ended the day up $105.29 with an ROI of 133% but with regrets of leaving money on the table.

As I said pre race, I handicapped the Pick 5 but I passed on betting.  That's good because I missed badly on the $7,500 claimer as well as the Hanshin Cup.  I did however bet the Pick 4 and flamed out.

I constructed 3 superfecta bets for the 3 stake races.  While I won one of those superfectas, I did not place the matching bet I typically make, a boxed 4 horse trifecta off my base handicap.  By failing to follow my general betting habits I left $185 for the Arlington Matron Trifecta on the table for the $48 bet.  I make mistakes like everyone and this was a mistake.

I did some good handicapping yesterday:  In the Matron, I had the 5th and 7th betting favorites in my top 3.  In the Hanshin Cup I didn't bite on the heavy betting favorites, backing a better price that was wasn't as good as the better price that actually won.  I had a pretty good read on the Classic with the exception of my chalk, Yorkshire Icon (GB) that never fired from the 8th spot on the tote board.

Have fun friends this Memorial Day Weekend.  I would like to remember my fellow veterans and our friends who didn't make it.

Turk Out!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Arlington Park Classic Day Pick 5/Pick 4 and Superfecta Options

Turk Clan at the Races

Being at the track has different meanings to me.  There are times when I go alone, business like, with the intention of cashing tickets.  Sometimes I go alone just to relax, as the track is one place where I don't pay attention to my wrist watch or my work email.  Occasionally I like to go with other men and indulge in a cigar, a drink and work race sequences together.  Then there is just family time at the track, like last week at Pimlico.  I made a commitment to myself to try and transfer my love of the track and the riddle that is handicapping to the Little Turk, now 13.  Little Turk has been to more Grade 1 races at this point in his life than most of the adults dressed in their hipster clothes that flock to the track on only the busiest days of the year.  He's got a sharp eye and a mind for the pace.  I thank Mrs. Turk for indulging in this behavior as well, pictured here for the first time as she is typically camera shy.

Arlington has a special place in my heart.  I was there many many years ago when the old grandstand and stables burned to the ground.  I was in the US Navy, stationed 20 miles or so away.  The new place is a wonderful track, modern and in good condition compared to many of the older tracks in the United States, and as we know, people aren't lining up to build new tracks these days.  My family have taken vacations to Arlington and we are always treated extremely well.  From the prettiest bugler in the nation, to every steward and attendant, we enjoy the place completely.

I don't have high expectations for my handicapping today.  I've built some bets that appear to have some real value to them and I'm going to keep my investment within reason and see how it goes.  I handicapped the Pick 5 but I don't think I'm willing to make the investment that I think is required ($108) to hit it.  I'll watch that one but I don't plan to play it.

I handicapped The late pick 4 as well. Claiming races mixed in, one on turf, makes the sequence a real challenge but I think its worth the $36 dollar investment.  I'm leaning towards placing that bet, but if I don't I'll say so afterwards Win or Lose.

I think the  Arlington Classic is an interesting race, with some real tepid betting favorites near the top, but I like Yorkshire Icon (GB) to bring some value to the bet.  General Election even looks just as tempting as does Admiral Kitten and Procurement.  If I was thinking chalky, I like Procurement cutting back in distance slightly for Trainer Proctor.  Will Go-Go be up, I'm not sure after his fall.

I expect the turf to be Yielding.  It was yesterday and some rains are in the forecast today.

I'm also hunting real value in the Hanshin Cup with PatrioticandProud.  I think Trainer Mark Casse has a strong horse on his hands, 8 of 9 in the money on fake stuff, and he'll be overlooked with Nate's Mineshaft, Seruni and Mr. Marti Gras in the gate.

Have fun with it fans, I plan on keeping it reasonable as I value hunt.

Turk Out!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Preakness Super High Five

"My Trip to Old Hilltop was A-OK"

The Turk Clan, and friends, had a good Black Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico.  Sister Turk got up close and personal in the Infield with a boy named Goo, while we kicked back at the 1/16 pole in the first row of the grandstand.

The day got off to a bit of rocky start, as downtown traffic got snarled up due to the President visiting (his handicapping must be done already).  We were able to finally trek the 7 miles to Pimlico and we found Lot 2, Haywood, only to find a LOT FULL sign.  No matter, a nice older fella, a Navy Vet, pulled the sign back and we settled into our seats.

My experience included a "Black Eyed Susan", a hideous concoction of Vodka and some other bitter tasting stuff and I was left with a mild buzz and a Preakness glass, the real prize.

I didn't do much handicapping for Friday's card, I wanted to just relax and make some small tote board value bets.  I will say that at least twice in the grandstand I almost saw violence erupt as the teller lines were moving at a snails pace and punters were starting to get really agitated with each other.  The whole feel of the racetrack and the staff was very old school, not particularly fan friendly, and in no way very inviting to new fans.  That said, the Nathan Hot Dog fellas were top shelf.

I'm alive in the Pimlico Special/Preakness Double.  Even that was an adventure, as the teller couldn't have been less interested in that bet and had to run it through twice because he wasn't listening very well to me.  I was happy to finally see Richard's Kid again in person, but really, why is the poor fella still running? He's not a claimer, 45 starts, 11 wins, and two plus million in earnings, enough already.

Do you really think I have any plans of trying to get a Super High Five Bet right with that crew?  I'll be placing that on my portable device and not sweating it.  I think we're looking at a several thousand dollar Super High Five (not 10's or 100's of thousands) and I've created a $168 bet that has a better chance than the PowerBall (which I have a $10 spot on with co-workers).  I think I'm going to just enjoy my day at the track and hope my one big bet hits.

Have Fun Friends, Turk Out!

Little Turk and I, Grandstand, Pimlico 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Wire Players "Dirty" Derby Dozen and betting the Derby "Tiznow" Style

The Staff at Turk Central working on Oaks Handicap
Some of the brightest minds in horse racing come together every year to handicap the possible winners of the Kentucky Derby.   The Wire Players Derby Dozen might not be that collection of intellects because they let yours truly actually have a say.  They may revoke my privileges next year as my top pick is Overanalyze and he is somewhere outside of the esteemed group's top 12. No matter, I'll never be accused of esteem, or intelligence!

Do I love Overanalyze?  Not at all, but I'm also not sold on any of the horses that will go off at less than 6-1.  So what's a horse player to do?  Have fun.  Keep your bets within reason.  Take chances.  Raise your hand if you had the 38-1 Oaks winner?  I know people who did, and those folks are shrewd value bettors.  Me, not so much.  I don't pay attention to the morning line, but I do look at the tote board and that filly just didn't seem to have any support and I didn't see anything on paper that made me think Princess of Sylmar had anything:  lost ground in Gazelle but did get Place, workouts at Churchill so-so, 4 wins in 6 starts, 5 of 6 in the money.  A sleeper I would not have anticipated.  Know thyself.  Which leads us back to Overanalyze, but more importantly, forget what the talking heads and "experts" are telling you:  There are 10 horses that could win this race and the other 9 shouldn't but could.

I suggest a betting method authored by "Tiznow" Tim Reynolds.

If you need a good way to spend your winnings, please consider a donation to the Tim Reynolds Memorial Fund. Tim was the Horse Racing Fan of the Year and passed away at way too young an age.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby Double

Close Hatches Winning the G2 Gazelle 4/6/13
I don't know what it is about the Oaks-Derby double that I enjoy so much? I think its the feeling of being alive after day one and having that little extra to look forward to the next day.

I love the fillies, but I pay no attention to Juvenile fillies and almost no attention to the 3 YOs until the Kentucky Oaks every year. It adds excitement for me to see for the first time these wonderful race horses, like a big wrapped box on Christmas morning. The fillies, quite frankly,  have been more engaging to me over the past several years than the colts, and today is the first time I've really spent anytime looking at the past performances of Dreaming of Julia or Unlimited Budget, Midnight Lucky, Beholder or my pick, Closing Hatches, and I like what I see.

I bored my readers (blowhard bald guy pontificating again) about my layer handicapper method in my extensive Kentucky Derby blog post yesterday. I won't bore you again. I have three horses that I think can win and I won't get hung up on who actually wins, but clearly I'd prefer the longer odds on the board which should be Mott's Gazelle Winner, Closing Hatches.

Let's get after it!

The track is currently listed as FAST. I think we'll get lucky and it will stay fast before the rains come. That's what I'm handicapping.

I like the progressive improvement of Close Hatches and the work she's done over the Churchill surface, and Rosario is smoking hot right now, 48% winner at CD and 25% winner overall.  Wow!

I'm going to Play 11-4-8 with a bunch of horses from the Derby, and hopefully Close Hatches brings value on the front end of the bet, or someone like Overanalyze or Revolutionary brings value on the backend.

Either way, fun times, good stuff.  The Turk is headed to the Black Eyed Susan and the Preakness in two weeks and he is VERY excited.

Turk Out!