Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga

Squeeky likes Stephanie's Kitten and Kitten's Queen

Welcome Friends to the Turk and The Little Turk.  I'm usually not a big Saratoga player, I'm just not that good picking winners on the dirt track, but that doesn't stop me from trying.  I've had good luck and a respectable ROI on the turf course, especially when fast and firm, and hence today's handicap is a route across the grass, the Grade 1 Diana.

I have had good years at Saratoga.  I like dry weather years, and I've learned I  have to play it nearly every day to get the feel for the pace, closing positions and winning paths.  When I'm not prepared to fully engage at SAR I don't do as well.  It's not superstition or the racing Gods, it's about consistent handicapping and honest post race analysis of what you did right and wrong as a handicapper and a gambler.

On a turf course, I look for where the pace is going to come from and who has the best late turn of foot. I bet turf races consistently and that allows me to pick more winners than losers.  Picking the winner isn't always my end game as I'm an exotic player and who wins isn't always my primary concern.  I'm usually fixated on who's not going to be in the Top Four and how many horses I have to cover to get the top four right.  Anyways, this year is zooming by and I can't believe Saratoga is here, but it is, so let's get it on!

Horse/PostTurk's Grade
WinHard Not to Like/4A
ShowStephanie's Kitten/2B++
ExoticLady Lara (Ire)/7C+++
Also Ran'sMy Miss Sophia/6C++++++
Waltzing Matilda (Ire)/5C
Kitten's Queen/3C
Saratoga Race 10: Post Time 6:07 ETThe Diana G1
1 1/8 Miles on Mellon TurfFor F&M 3 YO and Up

A 19 race, $961,000 earning, 6 year old Mare from Kings Bishop Winner Hard Spun, Hard Not to Like has my eye.  From Clement's barn with Johnny V up, a winner in the Grade 1 Comely in May and well training since mid June.  I'd expect 5-6 to 1 at Post Time.  Lots to like and value.  11 of 16 in the money on Turf.  She'll be coming late off the hot pace from My Miss Sophia and Kitten's Queen.

Running hard and fast at the end with Hard Not to Like will be Tepin.  The 4 YO Bernstein, with Mark Casse training and turf specialist Leparoux, up, is four of six in the money on turf, 3 of 3 in 2015 and running exceptionally well when taking a break after a G1 win in early June.  Lots to like but will be heavily bet, I'd like in the Place spot or lower.  

Stephanie's Kitten, 6 YO now for Breeder/Owners Sarah and Ken Ramsey, will be coming off the pace, I'm just not expecting her to get to the win spot.  In the money in this race two years running, I'm expecting a third.  15 of 18 in the money on turf, 4 of 5 in the money at distance, 3 of 4 in the money at SAR, $2.7 MM in earnings in 21 career starts.  Yup!

Lady Lara (Ire) could steal this race  but I'm just not sure where the 4 YO's current form is.  I have her and My Miss Sophia, both Mott runners, downshifting and dropping in the last 1/16.  Yeah, I love My Miss Sophia, and she seems to be in wonderful  form right now, winning in a nicely placed 2X-N OC 62K in June, but she's lightly raced on grass and I want to see more first.  

I'm expecting Waltzing Matilda (Ire) and Kitten's Queen will provide pace, at least Kitten's Queen will.  Waltzing Matilda is a wild card to me, and off the pace late runner,  and the girl most likely to make me look silly.  

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Nomination Is In: The Queen's Plate at Woodbine

Danish Dynaformer:  Photo by Michael Burns
Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk, a horse racing blog written by a bald hack handicapper known as the Turk, with editorial comment and mostly sarcasm from my fifteen year old son, The Little Turk.  We'd like to thank The Thorofan for allowing us to provide our insights for their readers.

Queen's Plate Day.  The Canadian version of the Kentucky Derby is the lazy description usually assigned to this race.  This is a $1.0 MM restricted to Canada born runners, run on a fair running fake dirt surface, with a big field that on paper always appears slow and unaccomplished.  This is not the Kentucky Derby.  There are 20 wins total between the 14 entrants, a maiden, three without lasix, a filly, and a large shadow cast by the death in the Plate Trial of Danzig Moon, 5th in the Kentucky Derby, 6th in the Preakness, and a wonderful horse who was coming home before a fatal mid race breakdown.  So let's get this straight:  Don't be lazy, this is not the Canadian Kentucky Derby, its the oldest race in North America, since 1860, its quirky and uniquely Canadian.

Let's get after it!

Horse/PostTurk's Grade
WInShaman Ghost/1A
PlaceDanish Dynaformer/7A
ShowAmi's Flatter/14A-
Also Ran'sConquest Boogaloo/8B
Billy's Star/5B--
Breaking Lucky/9C++
Milwaukee Mist/12C+
Sweet Grass Creek/6C
Easy Indygo/10D
Bear at Last/13D
Woodbine Race 11: Post Time 5:38 ETThe Queen's Plate
1 1/4 Miles on Fake DirtFor 3 YOs

I'll start by saying that this is a terribly difficult race to handicap, even when a big favorite is running. There isn't a prep season like we have for the Triple Crown season, and these horses have spent their winter and springs running all around, so its hard to gage them against each other.  Races like the Marine Grade 3 and the Plate Trial, both at WO, are where I typically like to start my handicapping.  I'm not putting up the Plate Trial video because of the Danzig Moon breakdown that I can live without seeing again, but four of these runners went in the Marine, won by Shaman Ghost, and five went in the Plate Trial, won by Danish Dynaformer

I have a group of three as possible  in the Win spot: Shaman Ghost/1, Danish Dynaformer/7 and Ami's Flatter/14.  I think all three will be bet heavily so none of these represent a great price.  Shaman Ghost is a nice off the pace runner with decent Beyer's.  (Remember to adjust your thinking, a mid to upper 80's Beyer and a 2:03:45 is most likely what wins this race.)  I like him coming off the pace here and I like horses that have some rally in them.  Very light chalk.

Danish Dynaformer I reckon will be the post time favorite.  A Roger Attfield, Charles Fipke and Patrick Husbands collaboration (Mount Rushmore-like names in Canadian racing), this horse won the Plate Trial by also coming off the pace and he had a nice rally and ate up alot of ground late in a Show finish in the Marine.  A win on yielding turf at KEE shows class.  Lots to like!

Ami's Flatter, a horse the Turk Clan bets on name alone, as our since deceased cat Ami demanded as much.  Breaking from the far outside post, the 14 spot (this race does allow up to 17), the son of Flatter had a great spring on the Triple Crown trail with a 4th in the SF Davis at TAM, a Place in the Tampa Derby, a Show in the Florida Derby, but very flat and dull in his return to WO in the Marine. Trainer Josie Carroll has Contreras up, who left his mount on Danish Dynaformer for this.   Loyalty or belief in the horse?  I guess we'll find out. 

That's three horses, all of which should be chasing and rallying off the pace.  Where will that pace come from?

Academic, the lone filly and Woodbine Oaks winner, will be on or very close to the lead.  I think she hangs on for a minor prize, that's all I'm prepared to pick.  Fillies racing boys get bet hard by punters, don't be surprised by her price at post time.  

Rounding out my exotic pool is a grouping of four:  Conquest Boogaloo, Billy's Star, Breaking Lucky and Portree, with Milwaukee Mist just outside looking in but could have been included here.  
Honestly, I could ramble about these runners but when you look at the PPs they all have warts.  Conquest Boogaloo raced to Show in the Plate Trial but was well up the track in the Marine. Trained by Mark Casse with Alan Garcia up.  

So, what to do with this Turk?

The betting menu has 20 cent Trifectas/Triactors and 20 cent Supers available.   I think I'll do something like:

$1 Tri:  1-7-14 OVER 1-4-5-7-8-14 OVER 1-4-5-7-8-14 =$73 or $14.60 in the 20 cent variety.

A bit pricey.  Perhaps I look at a simple box:

$1 Tri Box:  1-4-7-8-14=$60

I think I'll be waiting as long as possible to see where the value is and I'll single someone and build a Tri something like this:

$2 Tri:  1 OVER 4-7-8-14 OVER 4-5-7-8-9-11-14 $50.  I like this combo the best.  In this I have Shaman Ghost on top.  

Almost any handicapping book will tell you bet consistently with your betting capital and try to block out having a good or bad feeling about a race influence you.  Build the best handicap you can and bet it.  I ignore this advice sometimes and if I'm not feelin' it, I don't bet.  What makes me feel better about a race?  Data.  I like more data on the PP's to guide me.  I like video and data, and that is just something I lack here.

Have fun with it yourself and keep it real.  If you have a betting problem, seek help.  If you have a handicapping problem, seek a better handicapper than this bald hack.  My regular readers should give you an indication of the hard core nature of this blog.  

Turk Out!