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!