Friday, June 13, 2014
The Nomination Is In: The Stephen Foster Handicap Grade 1 at Churchill Downs
It doesn't get much more American than Stephen Foster: Born on July 4, 1826, the composer of such American music classics as Camptown Races, Oh Susana!, My Old Kentucky Home are still songs that generations of kids sang in music class and learned to play on instruments. Another great American institution, The Thorofan, invested in the growth of the American horse racing fan base, has again asked this bald idiot handicapper to opine on the races. It's not a Pink, Blue, or Yellow sheet but its probably just as accurate. Ignore as you will!
My success rate, measured as Return on Investment, is not very good with my Handicapper Corner's handicaps. It doesn't help that I'm typically making Superfecta and Super High Five bet recommendations, but still, the handicapping has been dull and not very good. In self analysis mode I think for some handicaps I was too conservative, afraid to look dumb. In others I was wildly aggressive, on the edge of reckless. I've learned that to be a successful bettor I need to approach my handicapping with consistency: I build my base handicap, regardless of value, and if I choose to take some risk on the bet structure for value at least I am doing it with eyes wide open.
The first thing I noticed when I reviewed the Past Performances is how many of the runners you could make a legitimate win bet on: Revolutionary, Moonshine Mullin, Will Take Charge, Departing, Golden Ticket and Prayer for Relief could all hit the wire first. With the way Long River, a 15-1 Morning Line sleeper, is training, that's seven of nine that could be in the winners circle.
The weather should be good. The track should be listed as Fast.
Let's get after this!
I have Departing in the top spot. It's the four year old geldings 2nd off a 180 day layoff, he's 3 of 5 at the distance, 1 of 1 at CD and 7 wins in 10 starts on fast dirt. Trainer Stall and Albarado, up, clip along at 31% win rate. He's been training very sharply at CD. I doubt I single him but I like his chances to provide value from my chalk spot. Look for him to come off the pace.
I have late running Revolutionary in the next group back; He came late for Show in last year's Kentucky Derby and he comes in off a Pimlico Special Grade 3 win.
Prayer for Relief has no top three finishes in three starts at CD. Another off the pace style runner, the 6 YO sizzled in morning work across this track a week ago. 4 wins in 13 starts at the distance, 6 wins in 20 starts over fast dirt, he ran terribly in 2013 Clarke Handicap here.
The Alysheba, Grade 2, run at CD in May was an interesting race.
Moonshine Mullin should provide much of today's pace. Will Take Charge will try and forget his non fire in the Alysheba. Stevens is up again for Trainer Lukas and most likely is the one to beat and the expected post time chalk. I'm a biog fan of Will Take Charge but I need to see him fire in his four year old season and I'll bet against the money on him.
Golden Ticket and Long River are collectively no wins in six starts at this distance. Long River has been working very sharply at Saratoga and ran very well on the inner dirt at Aqueduct this past winter.
So what to do with this? I think I'll take a position similar to my base handicap, with a horse like Departing on top and a series of Exacta Bets with value underneath like Golden Ticket and Long River. To be decisive I'll go with 6 OVER 3-7-8. Three $10 Bets may interest me.
Whatever you do, have some fun and develop your own handicap and bet responsively.