Friday, December 26, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita

Shared Belief  (photo by Shigeki Kikkawa)

Boxing Day racing at Santa Anita is a wonderful, lazy day of horse gambling for the Turk from the snowy East Coast. Today is no exception, as I recharge the batteries over the last two weeks of 2014 and get ready to welcome in 2015 and the treadmill of daily living.  An all graded stakes Pick 3 with races 6-7-8 is featured today, with The Malibu the headliner and race 8, the Grade 1 La Brea and the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile rounding it out.

Today also marks the return of Shared Belief who's been on the shelf since the Breeders' Cup Classic and a race that was over almost as soon as it began for son of Candy Ride.  

Let's get after it!

Bob Baffert sends four horses into the starting gate and the race breaks down fairly simply into if you think Baffert can wear down Shared Belief,or interfere with traffic, and allow a stalker or an off the pace runner to cleanup the mess.  Shared Belief needs no introduction, 7 of 8 lifetime, with 5 of 7 wins on fake dirt, but this colt doesn't mind the dirt at all.  

Chitu, a Henry Hughes son, runs back off a 31-60 day layoff, something Baffert hits 24% of the time.  His last time back was off of a break from a lackluster finish in the Kentucky Derby when he was close to California Chrome at the top of the stretch before fading.  3 of 3 in the Money at Santa Anita.  He should be the pacesetter and has a chance to play "catch me if you can."

Indianapolis and Midnight Hawk will bring speed and tenacity to the race.  Pimpernel will be stalking somewhere just behind these two.

In the non Baffert camp,. Tamarando will be waiting to make one run at the top of the stretch but I see him running out of room and finishing anywhere from 5th to Show. Tamarando has 4 wins, all on fake dirt and is winless in 3 starts on Santa Anita dirt.

In a fairly pedestrian Allowance Level group of also ran's, I liked Diamond Bachelor the best but that is saying very little.

I'll be playing winners only for the Pick 3, singling Shared Belief and looking for some value in the first two races.  If forced to assemble an exotic here I could go one of two routes:  Single Shared Belief OR look to see him beat with some value in the bet.  As the latter is more fun we'll assemble a monopoly money bet of the following:

$0.10 Bet:  2-3-6 OVER 2-3-6-8 OVER 2-3-6-8 OVER 3-5-6-7-10 for $6.20

That's sufficiently interesting enough for me to enjoy and have a punchers chance.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Bayakoa at Los A

Bayakoa/5 against Go For Wand/2; 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff
I could write a blog post about what Bayakoa meant to me, and I have  (like this from 2009).  Instead of the Turk rambling I  like this blog post by Sam Ludo to summarize the amazing career of one of the greatest fillies ever,  a mare whose name belongs in the same breath as Zenyatta, Ruffian, and Rachael Alexandra.

For anyone who can stand it, this is Bayakoa in her glory, dueling Go for Wand.  With the heart of a lion these two engaged each other and it was many years before I could ever think to watch this video as I became an emotional wreck just thinking about the pride and passion that fills such animals to race to the very edge of death when challenged.

We use the word great too often in our society to identify champions.  Not all champions are great.  Great should be reserved, along with a few other adjectives, for the absolute best of the best.

Bayakoa was great. It's one of the sadder parts of the demise of horse racing in our culture, that her name isn't known more widely, acclaimed by openly, adored for forever.

As a race fan and a lover of animals, I never want to see a horse get hurt like this.  These animals were bred to race, they love to race.  As long as they are cared for after the track, Grade 1 winners or claimers, I can live with the inevitable deaths that will occur.  This one is haunting to anyone who loved Bayakoa and Go for Wand.

I am still mourning in a different way Hollywood Race Park.  I'm not that familiar with the big oval at Los A yet.  I'm learning to play it the old fashioned, by reading race charts and building my opinion of how to play its big stretch.

Anyway, this edition of the Bayakoa (thanks for leaving name alone!) is a six horse affair and a bit of a snooze fest at that.  Let's see what we can make of it.

I'm backing Yahilwa to win.  In last two races as come from more than 2 off the lead to win as well as wired a win, both at 1 mile.  Came up back of Tiz Midnight and Beholder three races back in the G1 Zenyatta.  One win at the distance in an N1X in April 2014.  Getting faster as the year goes, Trainer Cassidy is 25% won last start on 40 tries and Mike Smith/Cassidy win at 23% on 52 tries.

Hard to say what Tiz Midnight will bring.  I typically don't like the first race back off a Breeders' Cup race which is exactly what Baffert's 4 YO is doing.  Class alone, she;s top of the class.  She'll race as always within two of the lead all the way around.  Easily wins, but for value would like to see Place.

Legacy seems like the best of the rest.  Sadler's horse has run well on this track.  Sadler 18% on turf/dirt switch after a trouncing in the G2 Goldikova at SA in early November.  (I guess I could have added Goldikova and Lady's Secret to my list of greats. I know I'm forgetting others as well!)

I'm leaning towards a very simple bet construction:  A $2 Tri with 1-3 OVER 1-3 OVER 2-5-4-6 is a $16 bet and a $2 Tri with 1 OVER 3 OVER 2-5-4-6 is an $8 bet.

Have fun with it yourself if you are so inclined!

Turk Out.