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!

The Nomination Is In: The 139th Kentucky Derby Grade 1 Super High Five

Well, everybody who has ever taken a tough test knows you reach a point and you have to put your pencil down and stop.  I think we are just about at that point with one of the hardest handicapping challenges of the year, the Kentucky Derby.  I'd like to start off by thanking the good folks at The Thorofan for allowing me the opportunity to provide my handicapping analysis and selections for such a prestigious race; I'm humbled and appreciative.

"Keep shakin' the Magic 8 Ball and it might say Black Onyx"
We have been following this collection of runners since late last summer and now we are down to the final twenty.

I like to start every handicap by identifying what conditions the race track is going to be in.  Before race time you will want to check the track surface.  This sort of information is easily found at the track websites, usually listed in the racing or horseman's section, and typically under track maintenance or track conditions.

Next, I like to check the weather.  It's important to know if it will be raining the day before or the day of, and for how long before the post time.   Any time you can limit the number of variables in handicapping you can improve your ability to pick winners, and quite frankly mud and slop is a variable that can't be ignored. It appears that weather will not be ignored this weekend, with 80% chance of rain Saturday, and 60% from 1 PM on.  I'm going to assume the track is sealed and I'll factor my thinking about the mud into my analysis. 

This year, horses had to earn their way into the starting gate by earning points in races designated by Churchill Downs.  I think the system was successful in its first incarnation:  It gave fan's races every week of special significance, it downplayed graded stakes earnings in sprint and turf races, and it forced trainers to get their charges some action, especially the winners of the big stakes races from late last year. I took a look back today to look at which races seemed key and which races were non factors.  I thought I'd be able to better glean what horses faced the most competition.  I've crossed out the horses who aren't running in the Kentucky Derby.  The races in red have no Derby starters as the point earners.  The horses in blue are running. 

I'm not sure what the take away from that exercise was; if forced to articulate I'd say it shows that most of these horses avoid each other and the notion that each prep race is some WWF steel cage match isn't the case.  I personally ignore everything before the Futurity at Hollywood in mid December.  I look for guts and willingness to win primarily.

So what are we going to do with this? Typically I start with my base handicap and from that my choice of wager is settled on. With major races, I like to bet the Super High Five.  It's a tough bet, it can get expensive, and the odds aren't that good.   Boxing 5 horses costs $240 but you might as well give your money away, you aren't likely picking 5 out of 20 like that.  Boxing 6 horses costs $1,440 for a $2 bet.  Get the idea?  Crazy bet. We'll get to that. 

I like to wager the Super High Five and get style points too: as low an investment as possible and still have a reasonable chance of winning.  In order to do that you have to build a matrix:  perhaps a single winner, a few horses for place and show and a bunch of choices for fourth and fifth.  I've hit it a few times so I know I can, but again, it's not for the faint of heart and when you bet you must be prepared to lose.  I think I'll build the base handicap and then develop some betting options to choose from. 

My base handicap is nothing more than a reording of the field into probable order of finish.  It's my morning line without assigning odds.  I'm a layer handicapper: I assign horses within layers and I typically don't get too emotional if a horse wins or not as long as I had him in the right layer of Win-Place-Show-Exotic and Toss.  That's the trick I'm trying to employ here, slotting the horses within the matrix and seeing if the stars align. 

With 20 horses you have to make tough choices.  I tossed Mine the Bird.  It was the sensible thing to do, but there were some very good, very shrewd, and better handicappers than I, that didn't. This group of toss horses is where misery will be born for me.  One of them won't get the memo and will stumble in under a blanket finish for 5th and I'll die in that instance. If I'm going to toss them in the discard pile I'm going to look at them a bit closer first.

Black Onyx/1: first dirt will be the Derby.  Work was just OK.  Won grade 3 Spiral Stakes.  Beat NX1 winner and Derby entrant Giant Finish by 2 1/2 lengths.  Also Eligible Fear the Kitten was Also Ran here.

Golden Soul/4: Maiden Winner, one win in five starts, no dirt, non-descript work.  Watch end of Louisiana Derby if you need something to hang your hat on.

Mylute/6: I said we have to make hard choices.  The combination of Napravnik and Trainer Amoss win at 33% clip together.  Place in the Louisiana Derby. N1X winner.

Giant Finish/7: Winner of only NY State Restricted races, and performed badly in the mud in one of them. 

Lines of Battle/11: I respect War Front and I respect first time Lasix, but hard decisions are hard decisions.

Falling Sky/13: Dropped like a stone in Arkansas Derby.  Nice bullet work :59 3/5ths at 5f on April 7 and 26th, no fluke.  Grade 3 Sam F. Davis winner. He's a gutty horse who will be part of pace but I am going to bet he drops out of top five by finish line.

Frac Daddy/18: Maiden winner, never fired in Florida Derby, came up, albeit slow, for Place in Arkansas Derby.  Third race after an early season injury reboot, I suspect he will run solidly, but hopefully 6th. 

Vyjack/20: Third in Grade 1 Wood, exited with an infection.  Works have been slow. Grade 3 Gotham Winner. Grade 2 Jerome winner.  He could get into Top 5 but again, broken record, tough choices must be made.

So, We have tossed 8 of 20 horses: 1,4,6,7,11,13,18 and 20

So what do we have left?

Oxbow/2: Gary Stevens up for Trainer Lukas.  It gives me the chills to see a Calumet Farms runner but its not the same without devil's red and blue silks.  Gutsy runner with a tough trip in Arkansas Derby.

Revolutionary/3: Calvin up on a closer, how unique.  Hard close at Louisiana Derby and Grade3 Withers.  Castellano picks Normandy Invasion mount.

Normandy Invasion/5: Fox Hill Farms, with so many good fillies, brings in Tapit's son, trained by Chad Brown. A closer, just not sure if he's a winner, seems to like to rush to the front.  Should be OK in slop.  Distance should be OK despite Tomlinson of 228.  Let's look at close in Grade 2 Remsen and his loss to Overanalyze. Very game!

Goldencents/8: 3 wins in 5 dirt starts.  Distance a real issue.  I think very highly of Kevin Krigger and his swagger and Doug O'Neill and his swagger, team swagger. A rare three digit Beyer for this slow group in Santa Anita Derby.  Don't buy into the trash talking that he didn't beat anyone.  He's run far past his class.

Overanalyze/9: 4 wins on dirt, 99 Beyer in Remsen. Weak Gotham effort before winning Arkansas Derby. Sharp :47 flat 4f bullet 4/27. 

Palace Malice/10: On a short list of horses that could rip my heart out;  Nice close on stalk trip in Blue Grass Stakes.  Sharp form but didn't have enough in the tank three weeks ago, gets blinkers on for this.

Itsmyluckyday/12: Outfinished in Florida Derby on a very sensible pace. Son of Lawyer Ron will always be asked distance questions.

Beat Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull.

Verrazano/14: Winner of Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial;  Undefeated, didn't race as a 2 YO but ran on January 1st so lets not get all crazy about that. Like the post especially if sloppy.

Charming Kitten/15: Only considering for 4th and 5th spots, and even then, only a minor look.  A turf horse that should get a good trip for final big run at end. 

Orb/16: Rosario up for Trainer McGaughey, 4 wins in a row including Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth Stakes beating the impressive Violence who ran wicked fast fractions. Top 3.

Will Take Charge/17: Trainer Lukas shut him down and he's been training well since winning the Grade 2 Rebel.

Java's War/19: Winner of Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes. Closes hard, expect him to take run into Super High Five from the outside.

So what do we have?

I like Overanalyze to win, with Normandy Invasion perhaps too high but in Place, and the two money horses on the board, Orb and Verrazano Show and Exotic. I've created two Super High Five $1 Bets that will cost you anywhere from $88 to $154 dollars. I don't like The $88 bet very much and I think I'll play with it a bit, perhaps singling Overanalyze and picking up another horse or two for fourth and fifth. You get the idea from the spreadsheet below.  The safe thing, perhaps the smart thing, would be to flip flop Orb/Verrazano and Overalyze/Normandy Invasion. I may on one or two tickets, or I may not.  All of us have to detirmine our own levels of recklessness. 

I hope whatever you do you have fun and enjoy the Derby. To my  friends new to horse racing, I always suggest just having fun with exacta combinations using the tote board odds: take the horse with the 2nd and 3rd highest tote board action and combine them with some of the horses in spots 6-10.

Don't forget the Oaks-Derby Double bet, perhaps my favorite and the subject of tomorrow's Turk posting.

Thank you friends, and Thank you Thorofan. Turk Out!