Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Turk's Derby Dozen Final Rankings, Prep Race Video Review and Post Draw

Stupid Blogger!
We've been watching these Three Year Old's here at Turk Central all winter and I think I have a feel for the best of the bunch.  So many good runners didn't make it this far and this group of 20 entrants seems a bit weak after the top 12. None of that really matters when the gate goes open, but this this idiot handicapping blogger will be on the hunt for the Super High Five as a bettor, and if I can win that, I'm always happy if a good story line wins the race.

I've got California Chrome on top of my list and I'm pretty darn sure he'll be post time chalk.  Most likely I'll single him and then build my exotic bets out from there.  
After the video I collected is the Post Positions and Morning Lines.  It looks like Vinceremos at 30-1 (10th on my list) represents a chance to sneak a bit of value into my bets.

I'll be reviewing workouts this week and start to form a handicap by tomorrow night.

Have fun with it friends.  Turk Out!

Santa Anita Derby

Arkansas Derby

Louisiana Derby

Florida Derby

Sunland Derby

Bluegrass Stakes

Wood Memorial

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Post Race Analysis for Race Day 12 April 2014: The Oaklawn Handicap and the Arkansas Derby

Danza; That Just Happened!  Photo courtesy of AP

As I said in my pre-race handicap, I saw little upside in betting either of these races, and based on my handicap I was correct.  I'd like to delude myself that post race analysis can always make sense of the chaos, but nothing in hindsight could have or would have had me handicap Danza higher than I had him, which I had him 8th and the bettor's had him 7th.

What do I think of the results of the Arkansas Derby?  I'm not sure what to make of it really.  The video is below, draw your own conclusions, they are just as good as this idiot internet handicapper's.

As for Will Take Charge? Bettor's top choice for good reason, but I really liked Revolutionary's late run as something to build on.

Sometimes there is no answer to the Chaos, but in this case, there were warning signs to avoid a bad bet, and at least in that case, the best bet I made last weekend was avoiding both of these races.

Turk Out!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Oaklawn Handicap and the Arkansas Derby

Will Take Charge (Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)
The Derby Trail! One of the most exciting and agonizing things I do as a handicapper is try to sort out young horses without much of a history. I found a secret years ago that if I ignore most of what is written about the runners and just focus on the fundamentals I see on video and past performances and just play em' as I see em'. Most of the time I think I'm seeing them with dirt covered goggles. Today's Oaklawn Handicap is where I traditionally find solace, with older horses, with more established records. I find sanity on the paper, sense of things, order in the universe. I said usually. The Oaklawn Handicap is a bit of a mystery to me, with a heavy stench of chalk and so-so betting prospects. Anyways, I won't get too far ahead of myself, I'll build the base handicap and see what my betting strategy will look like.

Let's get it on!

The weather looks like it will be dry.  You can find the scratches and changes here.

A seven horse field enters the gate in the Oaklawn Handicap. My first two passes tell me there is only one true toss out, the five year old gelded son of Political Force, Right to Vote.

Will Take Charge is very, very hard to ignore. 7 straight 100+ Beyers, a :35 and change 3F work bullet 4 days ago, 10 of 14 in the money on fast dirt, 4 of 4 in the money at the distance, 2 wins in 3 starts at OP. Saez, battery free, is Up for Trainer Lukas.

If Will Take Charge can be bettered, I'm backing Golden Lad. He's got a nice off the pace run style and has Gary Stevens up today, a very capable tactical pilot. The 4 YO Medaglia d' Oro son is undefeated in his 4th season, with a win at both Gulfstream and Oaklawn.

Revolutionary is Pletcher's main threat here but I see him taking a back seat in this one to Golden Lad. Comes in off a very flat Donn Handicap in February. Working regular if not that dynamically.  I like both Carve and Moreno to best the Louisiana Derby winner.

Carve is a very deep closer.  He'll be coming at the wire, not going, and that should put him in the top four.  Moreno is an interesting runner: First start at OP, no wins at distance, only 1 win in 10 fast dirt starts, 2 wins in 15 starts.  That said, he strung 4 straight 100+ Beyers together last season before going to the farm after a dud Breeders' Cup Classic.

Prayers For Relief, a recent transfer out of Asmussen's barn, is a hard knocking 6 YO who could hit the exotics and I'm leaning towards putting him outside the circle of trust today.

I'm not sure if I have a betting interest in this race;  I'll be watching the tote to see what the bettors think of Golden Lad, who I'd like at 6-1 or better.  I'm not sure this race is worth an exotic bet investment.

I can't say I'm excited about betting the Arkansas Derby either.  I hate to do it, but Bayern seems to be the best, although I hate rewarding a lightly race colt with chalk.  I love the consistent work since the foot bruise.
Tapiture and Strong Mandate will both attract lots of betting cash. Tapiture looks very strong , and he won the Southwest and dueled gamely to Hoppertunity to Place in the Rebel.  I've liked Conquest Titan, Mark Casse's Birdstone runner all winter, but he needs to put up today or shutdown and head to the Belmont.

I think I'm a horse racing fan for these races and not a race track investment specialist.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Post Race Analysis for Raceday 5 April 2014: The Wood Memorial, Carter Handicap and Santa Anita Derby

Hold all Tickets
We've all been at the track and torn up our tickets in disgust after our bets went awry. It's such a visceral thing to dispose of the physical evidence of our missteps. Speaking for myself only, I have race track superstitions and I don't like the losing tickets to be in my pockets or even at my feet as they personify failure. That said, there is always something to be learned from your bets as well as the handicaps. Today I'm just focused on how well my base handicap was.

I had a strong Wood Memorial handicap with the exception of Wicked Strong. Yes, that's loser talk, but the fact is I had four of top five and I had Harpoon and Wicked Strong flip flopped. I expected Harpoon to fire and he never did and I'm not sure I would have ever put Wicked Strong in the win spot based on his Past Performances. I should possibly have respected Jerkens more, knowing he would not have put the horse in that spot without a reason. It's a gray area for me, more guessing than handicapping, but I lost and I'll add to my files and look for the pattern to repeat in the future as these trainer tendencies also repeat. I will say I am very excited anytime a Hard Spun does well, and check out the stride over the last 1/16 of a mile. His father was one tough SOB, we'll see what he's made of. Social Inclusion? good horse, but great, I don't think so. I am impressed by Samraat: gutty and tough, perhaps not a classic distance guy but he will win races. Pretty cool to have a few good 3 YO New York Breds right now.

My Carter Handicap was eh: I would not have picked Dads Cap. I was high on Sahara Sky, not all all interested in the chalk, Clearly Now. I loved Sahara Sky's chase but he needed another panel and there were only 7. I expected lots more from Central Banker too. This info gets filed away for next time out thoughts.

The Santa Anita Derby was California Chrome's shining moment. I liked Hoppertunity, still do, and I'm not sure what to make of Candy Boy yet. The rest of the field was pitiful and the bettors knew it.

Wood Memorial G1

Carter Handicap G1

Santa Anita Derby G1

and while not blogged, the Princess returned....

Cat Clay

Anyways, have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Carter Handicap Grade 1 Spectacular

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, I am the Turk and today I offer up a trifecta of Grade One races for you: The Wood Memorial, The Carter Handicap and the Santa Anita Derby. I've been to past editions of these races and I'm here to testify there is nothing more exciting to this horse fan than being at the track for a Grade One showdown. We have showdown galore here with the Three Year old races while the Carter features mostly new entrants into the handicap division squaring off against grey beards like 7 year old Strapping Groom and 6 year old Sahara Sky. I'm a little delayed translating my handicapping thoughts into a blog post as the Little Turk, a second degree black belt, was demonstrating his kick ass form today:  Let's see what sort of form my red pen is in.  Let's get it on!

Where do we start: The tape is always a good idea to get a feel for the size of the animal, how game he was and to help fill in the story you translate from race charts and past performances.

The Gotham G3: Harpoon, Samraat and Uncle Sigh 

GP Alw $61,000 12 March 2014: Social Inclusion and the respected by lightly raced Honor Code.

The Jerome Grade 2: Noble Moon

The San Felipe G2: California Chrome and Schoolofhardrocks

The Rebel G2: Hoppertunity going tough in Arkansas.

RB Lewis Grade 2: Candy Boy

Malibu G1: Central Banker

King's Bishop Grade 1: Central Banker

Gulfstream Park Handicap Grade 2: Golden Ticket

Tom Fool Handicap Grade 3: Strapping Groom, Saturday's Charm and Dads Cap

San Carlos Grade 2: Sahara Sky

That was exhausting, but needed! I  try to do my homework on these stakes runners, and while I fancy myself a good handicapper, you always have to work at the craft.  Lazy handicapping is bad handicapping, and I work to hard earning money to foolishly invest in poor work.

I'm building medium priced superfectas for all three.  I think all three are a bit chalky so as I sit here a few hours before race time, I think I'll let my base handicaps speak for themselves and I'll mull over my bet matrices right up until post parade.  Make sure you pay attention to the track conditions and scratches and changes.  NYRA's website is very good for easy access to info, Santa Anita's website is OK, they make you hunt a bit more for the info.

Follow me on Twitter at @turkandlilturk

Turk Out!