Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park

Mr. Speaker
I'm not sure about you friends, but to The Turk, the chase for the Triple Crown starts for me after the Holy Bull, today's handicap. I am so "dumb" right now on the 3 year olds, after paying absolutely no attention to the 2 YO fall racing, that I actually feel pretty good. I got too caught up in Uncle Mo, Union Rags, Shanghai Bobby hype over the past few years and it threw me off.

 The fan in me loves the idea of a monster arriving on the scene as a 2 YO and dominating his way to a Triple Crown, but c'mon, in this day and age, is that really possible? As the bar goes lower on American racing, yes there may be the next Count Fleet, but will there be the next Secretariat, and if there were, would the connections campaign him aggressively? I leave those deep thoughts to bloggers deeper than I.  

 As a simple internet handicapping hack (with a solidly black ROI but why quibble?) I'll stick to throwing darts at these baby racers and learn a bit about them, not for what I'll earn on races like this, but for me its all about the Super High Five on Kentucky Derby and Preakness Day. The Super High Five, my Holy Grail, I've won with low four figure results, but I want the big payout one day and that comes from knowing the runners inside and out and a bit of luck. 

Let's get after it!

I don't have much differentiation between the layers of quality I see in this race;  My top layer all seem capable of winning this race and at a minimum striking Top 4.  Mr. Speaker tries dirt for the first time, something McGaughey wins 14% of the time.  Nice efforts on turf.  Dam as had only 3 dirt route starters, 1 win and an 85 Beyer.

Coup de Grace (God I miss Havre de Grace by I digress) is a Fox Hill Farms product.  Going for 2 turns for the first time, a winner at 1 mile here at GP.  Brown/Johnny V getting together for first time here.  Brown is 32% off the layoff and 29% dirt winner, as well as a 17% Graded Stakes winner.  Dam had 5 dirt route winners and averaged an 86 Beyer, which this runner has already achieved.

Cairo Prince:  His sire, Pioneerof the Nile I watched win the Santa Anita Derby in one of the biggest disappointment racing trips I ever had- the Saturday morning scratch of The Pamplemousse, a speedy but fragile beast, which killed what looked like a major showdown just before the Kentucky Derby that year.  I digress again.  Cairo Prince, a grade 2 winner already and Place in the Nashua by a nose to Honor Code, looks to be a good runner for Trainer Kiran McLaughlin, a Turk favorite.  Training very well, McLaughlin is 27% off a break and $272,000 of earnings here already.  siblings have one 2 of 9 dirt routes for $65K and a 85 Beyer, so he's already above the cut for Dam Holy Bubbette.  Lots to like.

My next group seem capable of winning as well but I'm knocking them back just a little bit, rationally or not.  Intense Holiday, the obligatory Pletcher entry, goes from post 11.  Flat in the Remsen although last 1/16th was in :11 and change.  Dam produced no winners.

Wicked Strong also ran a quick last 1/16 in the Remsen for Show money. Dam produced no dirt route winners.  Honest horse who seems like it can rate already, at good price not an unreasonable win bet flyer.

Financial Mogul's dam Trav n' Kris has dropped some accomplished runners over dirt with a sibling best 106 Beyer and a 95 best Dirt Route. Nice rally at 13.7 to 1 for Place in the G2 Nashua.  Violette no wins in 7 stakes races past year and only 7% off a break that goes back to 3 November.  I'm thinking toss.

Almost Famous and Conquest Titan will be the two that screw me up;  Byrne/Borel race Almost Famous off a 75K OC at Churchill where he dominated after hopping out of gate.  No wins off layoff 61-180 days and no Won Last Starts.  At better than 8-1, real value in Exotic mix I reckon.  Conquest Titan goes for Trainer Mark Casse who I respect quite a bit. Dam Miner's Secret has no raced offspring. Son of Birdstone.  Working nice and comes in off 30 November $75K OC at CD at 8 panels.

I tossed three at my own peril.

I'll be honest, I don't like to bet on such lightly raced horses as I'm an information handicapper and there just isn't much here.  If forced to wager I'll go with something along these lines:

$1 Super:  1-6-7 OVER 1-6-7 OVER 1,4,6,7,8,11 OVER 1,4,8, 11 for $60  I stay true to base handicap for win/place, mix in Almost Famous, Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong into Show and Exotic and shade down Coup de Grace across all four spots and assume Mr. Speaker and Cairo Prince are top three.  10 cent version is $6 and you'll make Ok money if it wins.

Whatever you do, bet responsibly and make your own decisions. Don't let hype or some hack internet idiot who talks in the 3rd person influence your investment decisions.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Nomination Is In: A Kentucy Derby Prep Race, The Sham, Grade 3 at Santa Anita

This isn't a blog posting today about a horse race as much as it is about a slumbering, hibernating handicapper coming out of his hole.  As I move closer to 50 years old, a handicapper for the past 30 years, I've taken some breaks from the game in the past.  Sometimes it was because I was 'capped out, too many cards in too many weeks.  This is different: I was bored with the game.  I was frustrated with the closing of Hollywood, the blandness of the handicap division, the Breeders' Cup recurring Santa Anita dates, my local track, Fort Erie, getting screwed by politicians and hacks, deaths of some of my favorite runners, you name it. 

What's changed?  Absolutely nothing, except the great rejuvenating power of a long break, as this is my first handicap since Breeders' Cup weekend.  I love the game, I love the horses, and I enjoy deeply the connections I've made through horse racing that make any dissatisfaction I have with the sport go away.  The thrill of chasing Super High Fives on the biggest days in our sport's calendar is the only drug I indulge in.

Dissatisfaction?  A Kentucky Derby prep race with a six horse field.  Until the sport gets healthier, if it gets healthier, I guess that will have to be sometime the horse fan in me will have to live with.  The gambler in me will remain jaded, not betting for action play, and I'm not sure the value of betting The Sham is, but we'll get to that.  Anyhow, this isn't a blog about much of anything other than the Turk sharing his thoughts on various races and expressing his opinion and prospective as a modern day horse player, armed with great electronics and an old school red pen.  To my readers and friends who I've been writing at since 2008, hello.  To anyone new, I'm the Turk and my boy is the Little Turk.  I'm an Internet handicapping hack who offers bravado free opinions to use or ignore as you will.

Let's get after it.

One thing that is a constant with The Turk is his disdain of 2 YO racing.  I don't care about it and seldom watch it.  The other thing you need to know about The Turk is my disdain for hype.  As much as I enjoy the writing of some very fine turf writers, I do my darnest to not get sucked into who the "next great horse" is stuff.  I'm a paper past performance handicapper whose thesis is everything you need to win at this race is printed on the paper (especially the DRF Formulator's which I'm not paid to pitch).  You'll also notice an absence of advertising in my blog.  I've been offered all sorts of things in the past, from banner ads to live links that lead to products, and while I don't begrudge anyone making money for their efforts, The Turk doesn't blog for any reason other than a release for my thoughts. 

Midnight Hawk, the latest Baffert/Midnight Lute collaboration, looks like the cut and dry chalk for this affair with bullets galore over the surface and a commanding maiden win at Hollywood last month. Blinkers off today. 

If I were to bet this race, which again I'm not sure I will, I have two approaches in mind:  Single Midnight Hawk and bet a value player under him -OR- bet against him, taking him right out of the exacta.  At 8-5 he'll draw serious money to him, so how do you want to play it?  Your call readers. 

The Turk starts with a Base Handicap;  The Base Handicap assigns a letter grade to each entrant and slots the horses into an expected order of finish.  The Turk is an exotic player primarily, so I focus on who is tossed and how many horses I need to consider that can finish in the top four.  The Base Handicap isn't necessarily my betting strategy.  Two different sides of a coin, handicapping and betting.  While Midnight Hawk seems like a legitimate monster to me in this spot as a handicapper, the better in me wants to knock him off.  Have an opinion, an original opinion, and stick to it. 

I can't say I'm thrilled with any other runner but Kristo interests me, maybe not a 2-1.  Sadler's Distorted Humor colt has been off since Halloween.  Work is solid at SA but not eye popping, just steady. Sadler is only 8% off this break. 

I'll Wrap It Up and Ontology, both colts from Tapit, seem very similar;  no dirt wins between either, upper 70's best Beyer, last race wins on fake dirt and turf respectively.  I'm edging Ontology higher as I type and should flip flop them in the chart, but they are both B- so I guess its obvious. 

Top Fortitude is the type of horse I get wrong annually so lets see if I'm consistent. Life is a Joy will need to show me something to get more than a mention.

Have fun friends, I enjoyed my first handicap back.

Turk Out!