|Tonalist: image by Travis Lindquist|
First of all, thank you to The Thorofan for allowing me to hack my way through the handicap of the richest race in North America, the Breeders' Cup Classic. I am clearly not worthy!
The Turk's been on a blogging holiday since mid summer. Sometimes I need a break from the game, and after a very emotional Triple Crown season, I needed some racing downtime. At the same time I took a handicapping break I worked more on completing my MBA. I've learned enough to know that handicapping and gambling on horse racing is a horrible investment, even for most of the best handicappers, so if you are reading this handicap and you lost more money than you should have this weekend, stop, this isn't a panacea for what ails you. Seek Help! That's The Ol' Turk's public message. I handicap because I enjoy the mental exercise and I've learned over the years I am good enough to stay near break even over the long run, punctuated by periods of incredible success and incredible failure.
Not much handicapping is really needed for a race like the Breeders' Cup Classic . We have a Triple Crown Winner, American Pharoah, six million dollar plus earners, and no real wildcards like a freaky good filly such as Beholder, a scratch. We have a classy 3 YO son of Galileo, Gleaneagles (Ire) who has never run in North American, never run on fast dirt and hasn't been past 1 mile. I call this noise, a distraction.
Let's stop rambling and get after this!
I'm not as hung up on American Pharoah's Travers Stakes loss as I am that he's had a grueling year and while class and skill could still carry him to a win, a 4-5 odds or worse, do I really want to back that as a gambler? If you want to be a fan, great, and we need more of them, but I'm a gambler, a race track investor, and I don't see much reason to risk capital on a bet like that. All that said, I still think he's due to regress and it creates a real opportunity to find some value. I like the work tab Baffert has put him through and I think he's still top 4.
Unfortunately for me, I've identified Tonalist as my chalk, and he'll most likely be bet down below 4-1. I've made some very good money on Christophe Clement's turf runners over the past several years and I love the ride he's had with the 4 YO son of Tapit.
Stepping back, I have a group of five horses that I think are are possible for Place or Show. I think Frosted, along with American Pharoah and Tonalist is the only other I may cover in the win spot. Expecting 10-1 or worse, the 3 YO son of Tapit, this maybe purely a value insertion and most likely I will flip flop Keen Ice and Frosted in my actual bets. I like Keen Ice better actually, with a good finish at the Haskell and the win at the Travers. I'd like to not see him drop to under 5-1.
Smooth Roller is my looney tunes idea. A very raw 4 YO gelded Hard Spun, he ran a beautiful Awesome Again in late September and I'm willing to entertain him pulling of Show or the exotic 4th spot.
Did I skip Honor Code? No, but I can't cover everyone. I've got him in the RED/TOSS group but again in full disclosure, if his odds lengthen past 7-1 I misght be inclined to cover him in Show and 4th.
Who will screw me up? Frosted and Effinex. I like Effinex an awful lot. His Suburban Handicap, beating Tonalist, was very very game. His Woodward and his Jockey Club Gold Cup were both regressions for the New York Bred 4 Yo son of Mineshaft. Back to Frosted, he hasn't won past 1 1/8 miles. I think I have him too high and I have to put some thought into my final bets.
So I don't this very often, in fact I've never done it in 8 years of blogging, but I've got an alternative universe handicap I might actually like better than the one I led with.
What's different and what's the same?
I brought Keen Ice up to a share of the Win Spot. I brought Effinex up to Place or Show, as well as Honor Code. I dropped Frosted and Smooth Roller outside of the Top 4 and I left American Pharoah right where I had him.
Whatever you do, have fun with it!