Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks


The Turk hasn't blogged much over the past two months but has handicapped an awful lot of Saratoga and Del Mar races this summer.  I've been torn about how to devote my time, handicapping or blogging.  After an intensive handicapping/gambling period that began with a very lucrative Triple Crown season,  I feel like I'm ready to take a breather and just enjoy the last few weeks of the summer racing season until I start my Breeders' Cup preparations in mid September.

Alabama Weekend always holds special significance to me, as I've attended many an Alabama and attended with my father and son just a few years ago in a memorable three generation Turk boys day at the races. I am, and have been, an enormous fan and handicapping devotee of Arlington Millions day, but I've not handicapped Arlington much this year and I made the decision that those races are just too difficult for me to jump into cold.  What is in my wheelhouse right now is Saratoga and Del Mar, two tracks I've struggled at traditionally but where I'm doing well in these respective meets.

Anyway, I'm done with serious horseplaying until Breeders' Cup weekend, which means I'll be blogging more often to keep my mind fresh.  Let's get after it!

Let's start with The Alabama, Grade 1 at Saratoga.

Hard not to like Stopchargingmaria; 7 of 9 lifetime with 5 wins, one Grade 1 win, two Grade 2's, 3 of 3 in the money at SAR including the impressive CCA Oaks.  A candidate to single in my exotics.

Catch My Drift and Size both make SAR debuts today;  Catch My Drift, trained by Chad Brown, is a 2 for 2 Pioneerof the Nile daughter with Joe Bravo up.  Brown/Bravo combine for 39% wins on 23 starts.

 Size, trained by Bill Mott, rallied to win the Iowa Oaks in late June and she's been training sharply at SAR for a few weeks now.

Unbridled Forever gave Stopchargingmaria chase in CCA Oaks, and was second best of the bunch, but I'm not expecting much better today.  Miss Besilu posts bullets regularly but is winless since a February Optional Claimer.

Got Lucky and Fortune Pearl would not be enormous surprises to hit the exotic tickets.  I'm tossing Flay's America and Joint Return at my own peril.

The track should be fast and the weather good.

At Del Mar, we get the Grade 1 1 1/8 turf Del Mar Oaks.  Cutting back is Sea Queen for Christophe Clement with Bejarano up.  5 of 6 in the money on Turf with 3 wins, 2 of 2 at this distance, and trying Del Mar for the first time.  How she'll handle the firmness is my only question.  I'm got Sea Queen on equal footing with Tepin and Istanford. Tepin is winless on Turf, winless at the distance, winless at Del Mar but was a willing Place in the 1 mile San Clement Handicap in mid July here, won by Istanford.  Istanford has 5 wins in 8 turf starts but none at the distance and may start to fade after a mile.

Casse's other runner after Tepin is My Conquestadory; A talented 2 YO, I think this girl could be ready to step forward.

Tom Proctor's Famous Alice is coming back after freshening since late June.  His other runner Diversity Harbor is fresh, just not that interesting.  A couple of first North American/first time Lasix runners enter the gate with D'Amato's Odisseia (Ire) and Maibaby (Ire).  Eh, I'm skeptical of both.

What I do with these races I'm still not sure;  I think I'll stick close to these base handicaps and develop some Tri's or Super's and see if a bet is worth making based on tote board values.

I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts today, which is how I always feel after coming back after a break.
Have fun friends, Turk Out!