Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Nassau on Turf at Woodbine

Clement: Photo by Nancy Rokos

Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk.  It's nice to break away from the Triple Crown trail to handicap races where my real passion is, turf running.  A route of turf over a beautiful course really stirs the Turk's horse racing imagination.  With all due respect to mega trainers like Pletcher, et al, I most admire  the turf training maestros like a Johnathan Sheppard, John Gosden or Christophe Clement, pictured left.  The term Conditioner seems to have been created for him.

Woodbine's turf course is one of my favorites in North America, just behind Arlington.  Woodbine is far ahead of Arlington in generating stakes races and purses.  While I'm playing Arlington today, for a beautiful early season Saturday, the card should be much better than it is.  How a Saturday card, in what is a short race season at Arlington, cannot contain a single stakes race or have a purse over $25,000, is very concerning to me about the future of that track.

Anyway, that's a subject for someone who knows what they are talking about, a serious journalist or blogger, and not this idiot handicapper.

Let's get it on!

Woodbine Race 8: The Nassau Grade 8, 1 Mile on Turf

Horse/PostTurk's Grade
WinStellar Path (Fr)/4A+
PlaceDeceptive Vision/9A
Also Ran'sWinning Rhythm/12B
Sky Treasure/7B-
Strut the Course/1C++
Skylander Girl/2C
Copper Kitten/8C
Silent Star/10C
Woodbine Race 8: Post Time 4:45 ETThe Nassau G2
1 Mile on TurfFor F&M, 3 YOs and Up

I'm focused on faster handicapping.  I'm developing a better technique for when I am at the track and making a spot play, looking at Past Performances for the first time seconds after one race ends and with only enough time to quickly review and get to the windows.  I've become to accustomed to sitting at the table in dead silence, with my charts and graphs, and taking tons of time to assemble complex exotic bets.  At the track, I toss all that in the garbage for a few spot plays here and there.

I'm typically not a fan of betting any race I haven't put alot of preparation into, but what the heck, I'm letting my hair down (metaphysically speaking that is!)

Stellar Path and Deceptive Vision were the top horses coming out of my cursory review.  Stellar Path is a versatile 4 YO, 10 of 14 in the money, 7 of 10 in the money at the distance, and coming in off a less than firm turf win.  Deceptive Vision comes in off a win at KEE on the dirt, a switch Pierce wins 50% of the time, albeit on 4 tries.  Husbands up.

A group of four horses made it into my exotic pool.  I say exotic loosely, as I'm looking at Exacta primarily, maybe Tri, maybe not. Resistivity, a Mark Casse trainee, has been training sharply and looks ready to step up in class.  Expect a great price.  Overheard, 10 of 11 in the money on turf and 3 of 3 at WO, has been training up since an early April fourth at KEE.  Winning Rhythm I think would like more distance, has only 1 win in 6 at this distance, none at WO, and is 0 of 3 in 2015.  Sid Attard first time with trainer stats 9% on 22 tries.  Sky Treasure I expect will be on ticket anywhere but first.  Casse's mare spent the Winter at SA.

Simple Exacta: $2 Bet  4, 9 OVER 4,9 3,7,11,12 for $20

Simple Triactor ($0.20 bet available) $2 Bet 4, 9 OVER 4,9,3,7,11,12 OVER 4,9,3,7,11,12 is $80.

I doubt I care that much so we will try to thin that down to something liker this:  $2 Bet 4,9 over 4,9 11,3,12 over 9,11,3,12,7 for $58.

Have fun friends!

Turk Out

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 3 Pimlico Special on Black Eyed Susan Day

Page McKenney in Purple with Silver Diamonds

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk on Black Eyed Susan Day. I'd like to thank the good people at The Thorofan for giving me the opportunity to handicap for you today's Pimlico Special, a Grade 3, 1 3/16 mile affair on the dirt for 3 Year Olds and Up.  To the left is Page McKenney, a local trained by Mary Eppler, a closer whose in the deep end of the pool class wise and will have to be at his very best to hit the ticket today.  We are gambling after all, so let's take a look at this field and see what we are working with.

Let's get it (our preak) on!  By the way, thanks to Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club, for use of the photo.

Horse/PostTurk's Grade
PlacePage McKenney/5B-
ExoticTop Billing/8B-
Also Ran'sCat Burglar/9B
Kid Cruz/6D
Pimlico Race 14: Post Time 6:21 ETPimlico Special G3
1 3/16 Miles on Dirt For 3 YOs and Up

It's hard not to like the Evil Empire's   Todd Pletcher's Commissioner.  His last four races back to the Belmont Stakes last year, he has sat right on the pace, within 2 lengths of the lead at first call, and you should expect that today.  Purely on class, the son of A.P. Indy seems to be the package, but don't get carried away by any hype.  He laid an egg in the Donn Handicap, was barely Show in an Optional Claimer one race and one month before that, and then he went unraced after the Belmont.  I think you'd be foolish to not cover him in the top spot, but let's hope that he cracks and one of the closers gets him, as there is money to be made in this race if that happens.

The closer bench got a bit shorter with the scratch of Tapiture, offset by the scratch of pace setter Albano. Still, closers like Page McKenney and Top Billing still provide a horse player some hope as both will go off >10-1 I reckon.

Page McKenney is my top upset pick.  Remember, most longer odds finish in Place, not Win, but let's suspend analytics for a moment and get caught up in how cool it would be for a local to win here.  The sport always needs a feel good story and the horse lover in my is a sucker for that stuff.  The cold horse player in me still likes what I see: deep closes in last three races, 23 of 34 in the money lifetime, 12 of 15 life time in the money on fast dirt and the local edge.

Returning to probabilities, Transparent and Cat Burglar loom as threats from a 4-1 to 6-1 range of value.   The Florida bred Transparent is a big fat tease in my book.  4 of 16 wins to starts, 4 of 13 wins to starts on fast dirt, some hideous Grade 1 starts, but some pretty sharp current form for McLaughlin's Godolphin 5 YO Bernadini son.  If he's not on the pace, he's most likely not winning, unless this dog learns new tricks late in his career.

Top Billing, son of Curlin, has an unaccomplished 6 race career so far.  His last race was a deep close and he trained sharply at 4f in :48 flat last time out over BEL.  Don't ignore.

Cat Burglar is criminally low in my handicap but you have to take positions and live with it.  Baffert is shipping in the 5 YO Unbridled son with 9 career starts, 8 of 9 in the money, 8 of 9 in the money on fast dirt, and a lack luster first effort of 2015, although Baffert is 24% on 29 tries in the 2nd effort off a long layoff.  He's put some nice bullets up lately, the most impressive :47 2/5ths in 4F at CD.

Vyjack is an on the pace runner who has cracked more than he's gamely rallied.  He won the G1 Kelso last year in September and not much since.  Handicapping is about current form, pace, class and little else and I don't see it here.

So what to make of this?

I could go easy and play some exacta's:  a 2-5-8-9-10 $2 Box is $40 bucks.  Great if someone other than Commissioner wins, not so great otherwise.

I may play a few Tri's:  Something like this: 5-10 OVER 2-5-8-9-10 OVER 2-5-8-9-10 a $2 bet for $48 or 5-8-10 OVER 2-5-8-9-10 OVER 2-5-8-9-10 a $2 bet for $72.

Have some fun with it friends, I think that this race, as long as it stays at 8 horses, should provide some value.

Turk Out!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Kentucky Derby

Reed Palmer/CD
The Turk is not dead, nor did he give up on the horses.  The Turk is working long hours and going to school at the same time, so while handicapping continues, blogging time is at a premium.  Alas, as the semester comes to a close, and The Turk inches 4 credit hours closer to a Masters Level Education, I return to blogging with today's Kentucky Derby and my annual quest at the holy grail of my betting universe, the Super High Five.  The only horse I really developed an emotional attachment to over the Winter was El Kabeir.  I can't explain it, who can explain their race track romances, but the grey/roan Florida bred son of Scat Daddy, just did it for the inner fan in me.  The inner handicapper, the cold, investment banker side of me is not at all saddened that I won't have the burden of emotional attachment clouding my handicapping.   With three scratches already, El Kabeir, International Star and Stanford, Frammento joins the field at very long odds and most likely the first toss of my handicap.   
Enough rambling, let's get it on! 

Race 11 Churchill Downs

Horse/PostTurk's Grade
PlaceCarpe Diem/2A+
ShowAmerican Pharoh/18A+
Also Ran'sMubtaahij (Ire)/6B+
Firing Line/10B
Far Right/20B-
Danzig Moon/5B--
Keen Ice/14C+
Mr Z/17C+
War Story/16C-
Ocho Ocho Ocho/1C-
Churchill Downs Race 11: Post Time 6:34 ETThe Kentucky Derby G1
1 1/4 Miles on DirtFor 3 YOs and Up

The Super Hi-5 can be a very expensive bet.  A $1 seven horse box would cost $2,520.  I would call it a lottery ticket more than anything.  I've won the Super Hi-5 three times in 20 years, but all with singled huge favorites on top and the 10 cent variety of bet that allowed the investment to be much smaller.  I'm at a point in my handicapping life where I get incredible satisfaction for my handicaps and bets that minimize covers. It that vein of thought I propose the following off of my base handicap:

WinPlaceShowExotic 1Exotic 2
2Carpe DiemCarpe DiemCarpe DiemCarpe DiemCarpe Diem
18Am. PharohAm. PharohAm. PharohAm. PharohAm. Pharoh
10Firing LineFiring LineFiring LineFiring LineFiring Line
20Far RightFar RightFar RightFar RightFar Right
A one dollar bet on this base bet would cost $768.  That's not happening!  I'll play with it but I'll most likely go with something like this:

WinPlaceShowExotic 1Exotic 2
2Carpe DiemCarpe DiemCarpe DiemCarpe DiemCarpe Diem
18Am. PharohAm. PharohAm. PharohAm. PharohAm. Pharoh
10Firing LineFiring LineFiring LineFiring LineFiring Line
20Far RightFar RightFar RightFar RightFar Right
This one dollar bet is a more reasonable $205.  

This bet is NOT for everyone.  It's something I do knowing that the odds of hitting are very low. That's not my business model friends, but it's the Derby and I like the challenge.

For fun, I'll play some of my favorites with long shots in an exacta.

Enjoy the day, thanks for reading.

Turk Out!