Thursday, November 24, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving and Welcome to The Turk and the Little Turk. I'd like to thank the good people at The Thorofan for allowing me to share the musings of an old school handicapper with you today. I've been blogging the Clark Handicap for many years and I'm reusing a post of mine from 5 years ago, 2011. I figure if the Zayatt's can reuse a runner from that day, Prayers for Relief, I could reuse this as well.
Before I go too far, I am thankful for the economic means that allows me to raise my family; I thank my employer. I thank my loving family. I cherish my friends, even though the introvert that I am doesn't make me a very social friend. I thank my pets. I of course, thank my God.
Baseball fans get all misty eyed talking about Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, and as a hockey fan, I was saddened to see our Buffalo Memorial Auditorium condemned and knocked down in the name of luxury suites and more concessions. There is something special about these old places; places you shared highs and lows with, maybe with your father, your friends, your girlfriend, now your wife, your children.
Fenway and Wrigley were built in 1911 and 1914 respectively. Churchill Downs has existed since 1875, with the iconic twin spires going up in 1895. The driving force behind the creation of the track was Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of the famous American explorer, General William Clark of the William and Clark expedition of 1804-1806, the first transcontinental expedition of the United States, and whose mother was from one of Kentucky's first and leading families, the Churchill's.
At the age of 29, Meriwether Clark saw the first edition of this race run. As in all things in life, you don't really own something unless you really own it, and his mother's two brothers left the land to others after their death and Meriwether found himself as nothing more than a race steward by 1897. Already hurt deeply by poor financial investments, and followed by the loss of the track, Meriwether committed suicide in 1899 at the age of 53 years old. One can't help but think he stands along the rail along with all the other horse players we've said goodbye to over the years, players like Shawn Murphy, Rose Rizzo and Tiznow Reynolds. Our dead horse players watch these equine heroes run over the same route of dirt in South of Louisville like they been doing for the past 141 years.
I love old racetracks. I stare out at the track and I see and hear the ghosts of races past thundering up the stretch. The Clark Handicap is a tradition of mine, a wonderful post Thanksgiving Day event that I look forward too, an echo of the season that has essentially concluded, a harbinger of the coming winter, and a hint of handicap division to come once the sun returns.
Let's get after this!
I'm leaning towards Noble Bird being my fairly tepid Chalk. 3 of 4 in the money at Churchill Downs, 3 wins in 6 starts at the distance, a trainer-jock combo clipping along at a 29% win rate at CD, this on the lead runner has my nod and we'll see if he can hold what should be his lead at the top of the stretch.
Here's Noble Bird winning the G2 Hagyand Fayette at KEE in late October setting a track record in the process.
I sure like Gun Runner an awful lot, just another great son of Candy Ride (Arg). He won the G3 Matt Wynn here in June, his first back off Show in the Kentucky Derby. I'm not a big fan of first race back off Breeders' Cup efforts but I like the horse alot, he likes this track and he's 9 of 9 in the money on fast dirt.
Hopportunity is no stranger to the race and he's coming in off an outclassed Breeders' Cup Classic. I think you have to respect Baffert bringing him here as well as his Jockey Club Gold Cup G1 win in early October. He'll be coming late, which the Belmont stretch played well to his strength, and he should have enough speed in front of him to make a late move.
Shaman Ghost, the Ontario bred 4 YO, has been on the shelf since winning at 9-1 in The Woodward G1. first start at CD, 4 wins in 8 starts on fast dirt, 1 win at the distance in 1 try, 6 wins in 12 lifetime starts.
Do I have last year's winner, Effinex, too low? he came off a stalking trip in last year's edition and if he's in that spot again this year of course he'll be dangerous. I'm covering him in multiple spots.
The last horse I'm going to consider is a bit of a wildcard, Roger Attfield's Are You Kidding Me. No wins in two dirt starts, winless in only attempt at CD, the modestly bred 6 YO has a combined 29 turf and fake dirt starts, mostly at Woodbine, and he is running very well but this seems like a very odd placing for him. I like him showing up in the ticket, as I suspect he will be on the lead and dropping like a stone near the wire. Here he is at Churchill Downs running a flat effort in the Stephen Foster Handicap.
So what to do with all this? First of all, I love the big field of handicap division warriors. This race would be an example of what I describe to people as to why I love horse racing. I love the stories, I love seeing a 44 start 6 YO still doing what he does. Everyone loves the triple crown races, but this level of Grade 1 action is what does it for me. I'm tossing at my own peril Breaking Lucky, Mr. Z, Prayers for Relief and Hawaakom. Murphy's Law: One of them will screw us up.
I'm really torn, and while a horse racing fan can be torn, a bettor cannot be. My base bet (below) isn't even worth me pricing out as I'm never going to make such an investment in a wide open race.
After mulling about a $69 bet $1 Super and a $50 bet $2 Exacta I settled on $1 Tri bet for $20 which I would be OK with taking to $2/$40. The bet forces me to single Noble Bird and put the rest of my survivor pool under him. Regardless of the horse I single, the bet construction will be what I settle on. What do I mean by that? I'm not sold on Noble Bird and I'm not sure if he's going to get smaller or bigger than 4-1, so if Gun Runner down to 8-1, perhaps I flip flop Noble Bird and Gun Runner.
Watch the tote and only invest what you are prepared to lose. My exotic hit rate on Tri's has been hovering around 25% but my IRR is positive, albeit slightly. That's over many years. I have had stretches where it is mind numbing horrible and also savant like fantastic. Welcome to horse racing!
To bet or not to bet? When you sit down with a card, certain races will pop out to you, after you have invested the time and effort to develop the craft, that are much easier marks than this race. As a horse player, why bet a hard race when you can take advantage of a no brainer race on the same card or a different track. Don't fall into the trap of betting every race but if you handicap, take the time to build out your bets, review what coulda shoulda woulda when its over, and be honest with yourself.
Have fun with this friends. Happy Turk(ey) Day. Turk(s) out!
Friday, November 11, 2016
My nickname, The Turk, was a common nickname given to the best handicapper in a military man's unit. Those nicknames stuck with the person, and I have read several obituaries over time of former "Turk's" who served our country proudly and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of the track the rest of their days. This has been a tumultuous week in our Country, and this Blog is not being political, just expressing the sincere hope that average American's can embrace the differences of opinion and come together to grow jobs and be respectful of the personal choices we all make.
Today's blog is written for The Thorofan's Handicapper's Corner. Today's target is a very nice 11 horse, 3 YO turf Grade 3, the Commonwealth Turf, at Churchill Downs. I avoid 3 YO Turf racing like the plague until late in the year as it allows some historical perspective to develop on the past performances. You typically get a funny mixture of direct to turf runners, modestly bred animals, triple crown trail rejects coming off the dirt, and future turf stars. Today is no different and the field is both challenging and lacks and heavy duty chalk which should make for an exciting race with money to be made.
Let's get after it!
Check the track conditions always when preparing your handicaps. You can find Churchill Down's conditions here. The weather does not appear to be an issue, with only a 10% chance of rain today and tomorrow. Expect the turf to be firm.
Let's start with the base handicap and then develop some bet strategies off of that. My two readers can tell you that sometimes my base handicap is pretty straightforward and I can bet directly from it, or I'll deviate. With 11 horses, I have them in stratified layers of class and ability, and the bet construction has to take some educated risks and place a few high prices more forward or we might as well bet the tote board order. 33% of chalks win, a metric that has been very consistent for decades. With big fields, you can get carried away with covering multiple horses Win, Place Show and the bets can get very expensive. Avoid that trap and only bet what you are willing to lose. This is not batting average: Don't worry so much about picking winners that you are afraid to take a chance on putting a 15-1 in the Place Spot. Public handicapping like this was very hard for me for a long time because, lets face it, no one likes to look stupid. With that fear I found the handicaps I blogged lagged severely in ROI that the ones I didn't blog. It was a horrifying prospect. I had to get past the idea I was going to get a part of the prize, even a minor part, on every bet, and instead focus my handicap on identifying who should finish, and in what order, if the race was raced on paper, and the bet construction takes that base handicap and makes the best educated guesses possible to maximize the risk-reward relationship. I'm OK with winning 3 out of 10 if those three cover the seven losses and makes me 15% on my money. That is not always what unfolds but it's what I am always aiming for. Have something you aim for, your betting capital should be treated with deep respect.
Ok Turk, stop rambling and get on with it. Ok ok...
I have Canadian bred (A shout out to my neighbors to the North courtesy of the Hip) Sir Dudley Digges in my win spot, light-ish chalk I may add. 5 pf 6 in the money on turf, he should handle the firm turf OK and he should like the distance. He's with a serious group of connections, with The Ramsey's as owners, Trainer Michael Maker and J. Leparoux, up. He's got class, he's got experience, he's been training over Churchill turf since late September. I'm covering him in Win and Place on most of my tickets.
Tizarunner is a big stretch for me, both in the base handicap and the bet. The A--- means he's really a B, but I see a horse who last time out set a 90 Beyer over a firm 1 1/8 miles at KEE winning with a nice late turn of foot. 4 of 5 in the money, a high price at the March 2015 OBS sale of $325,000, classy Tizway son may just be a late bloomer. Trainer Casse is 17% winner over the turf and I think I'm going to like his price at >6-1 for the Place and Show spots.
Bondurant is a War Front making just his sixth start, all over grass. He's never gone past 1 mile and he's taking a big step up in conditions. I may have him too high and will cover Show/Exotic only.
One Mean Man carries the race high weight of 123 pounds and I may have this modestly bred Mizzen Mast son too low. He had an OK, somewhat slow summer over grass, with some success at Arlington and CD. Making Dirt/Turf swap, something Trainer Flint wins 12% of the time. 5 wins in 12 turf starts, 9 of 123 in the money over turf, no wins at the distance and 1 in in two CD starts. Win isn't unreasonable, Place and Show very possible.
Surgical Strike had moderate success this summer after coming off some nice Spring runs at Turfway and Arlington. Similar Beyer as many of the runners here, 80-84 with one 90+. Place/Show/Exotic possible.
Scholar Athlete is a son of a Turk favorite, Einstein (Brz). This video, the Arlington Million from 2009, has no relevance other than to watch Sir Dudley Digges sire, Gio Ponti sweep to victory over, among others, Einstein. Scholar Athlete is another Ontario bred, trained by Graham Motion who takes the blinkers off, an angle he's won 22% on 9 tries. This horse gives way late fairly regulatory. No better than Place or Exotic, but he has talent.
Finally from the group of horses that will make up my bet selection, Black Out (Fr). A third Casse entry. 4 wins in 9 turf starts and a field best 92 Beyer. Ran an exceptional N1X $77K ALW at Belmont over good turf at 1 mile in mid October, his second North America start. Something makes me wonder that I should have flip flopped Tizarunner and Black Out (Fr) as i get the feeling he's live and Casse is looking for an under the radar score. I'll be covering in Win down.
I tossed the 1,9,11 and 4 at my own peril.
So what do we have? We have a pretty level playing field without much separating these runners. Class is my tie breaker: Sir Dudley Digges, Bondurant, Tizarunner, and Scholar Athlete bring the class and I'll hang my hat on them.
a $1 Trifecta Bet costing $46 might look like this:
2-3 OVER 2-3-5-7-8-10 OVER 3-5-6-7-8-10
That may be too pricey and you may not like the risk-reward. I don't blame you and you can try something with a bit more risk but more reward.
A $2 Exacta for $36 may look like this:
2-10-3 OVER 2-10-3-8-7-5-6
and for $18
2-3-10 over 2-3-10-7-8
These are fun races to bet and I would expect the payouts will be handsome. Enjoy!
Saturday, September 17, 2016
This blog began when I was 42 years old. I was, and still do, travel extensively for work. I was sitting in the O'Hare Airport during a weather delay and I reached out for a fellow Western New Yorker and Blogger, Equispace who provided me advice and encouragement to start my own blog. I've been slogging along ever since, amassing 588 posts that my rapid audience of hard core gambling readers lap up.
I've enjoyed my time as a horse racing blogger. I've never really had an aspirations to grow the reader base, nor do I have the patience or the desire to do the things that would allow my blog to be more widely read. We are what we are here at the Turk and the Little Turk, and we hope to continue writing our old school handicaps and hack bet constructions for a long time to come.
If you've ever commented here, thank you very much. If you've ever liked a blog post of mine at Facebook or Twitter, muchas gracias. If you've taken the time to follow me or friend request me, I appreciate it very much. I thank the blogging groups I have been a part of, I thank the agregators that republish my blog, I no longer hold a grudge to the aggregators that sneered at my blog and said it wasn't good enough, and I thank The Thorofan and the Handicapper's Corner for giving my blog a wider voice.
I'd like to introduce all the new and innovative things I intend to bring to the blog but I'd be lying: I'm going to handicap based on the methods I've learned over the years, methods that are a derivative of my favorite handicapper/authors Tom Ainsile, Brad Free, and the Happy Handicapper, the late Mr. Robert J. Summers. I'm going to continue to be a fan first and a gambler second. I'm going to leave "important" blog subjects to better bloggers than I and I'm going to continue to offer my free advice which will be presented in a bragadoccio free manner.
Finally, I'd like to thank my wife, my son, my God and my boss (in that order!) Without any one of them the humble, arduous and incredibly rewarding life that I lead would not be possible
Thank you for reading and Happy 8th Birthday Turk and the Little Turk!
Friday, September 16, 2016
|Woodbine's Long Stretch on Turf|
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, a horse racing blog that has been providing handicapping advice since 2008.
Before I go to far, I'd like to stop and thank the fine people of The Thorofan and the The Thorofan Handicappers Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you about Saturday's Woodbine Mile.
As a horse racing fan first and foremost I get excited looking at the Past Performances of this quality. This is a race that always attracts top quality turf horses, ideally spaced 7 weeks before Breeders' Cup weekend. After spending some time with the numbers it was apparent to me that Tepin is the class of this race but...The "but" for me is Tepin may go to the post wildly overbet, her first race back after a trip to the UK, carrying the heaviest weight of the race, and by my count there are at least five horses that could come up and win at long and longer prices. This is a fan's race and a degenerate gamblers race all mixed together.
Let's take some time to look at the field in action. The first video isn't relevant for anything other than to familiarize yourself with the race over this immaculate turf course with its long stretch. Tower of Texas and Mr Owen were well back of the impressive Mondialiste.
Tower of Texas and Full Mast (the race chalk) fall to Dimension (GB) in July at WO at 1 mile.
A month later, and one panel less, Tower of Texas and Passion for Action chase the local claimer, Glenville Gardens. What a nice claim from Ottawa Senator's owner Melnyk by the Attard's.
The 5 YO gelded son of Sea the Stars (Ire), Mutakayyef (GB), in the 1 5/16 LH Juddmonte G1.
Bill Mott's Full Mast in the 1 1/16 Lure Stakes at SAR. Trainer Mott is one of the best at picking his spots in the conditions book.
Passion for Action winning at 6f in the Grade 2 Highlander at WO in July.
So, I'll say it, Tepin is special. Seven straight wins, 13 of 15 in the money on turf with 10 wins, 7 of 7 in the money at the distance with 6 wins, 16 of 20 in the money lifetime. The race's lone mare has excellent connections, a top shelf Trainer in Mark Casse and one of the best turf pilots in the game in Leparoux, up. She's coming into this race after completing a tough journey to the UK.
Training at SAR for six weeks with two sizzling 5f bullets, is she ready to resume her dominance is the only question left.
My base handicap is just that, an all things equal, fair surface ranking of Class, current Condition, and ultimately the horse's range of finishes. The bet construction sometimes mirrors the Base Handicap but I do deviate when i'm looking for a price. In my last posting for the Handicapper's Corner I handicapped a similar situation with The Woodward at SAR. My alternative strategy of betting that Frosted would Place instead of Win netted well over $350 for me on a pretty cheap $2 Tri. I'd love Tepin to win as a horse racing fan, but I'm betting adult money and the adult thing to do is to take a stack of $20's and make the stack bigger and not smaller.
If I have more or less settled on a contrarian view that Tepin won't win, who will? As a handicapper I'm less concerned with who and more interested in establishing how many are possible. If I have the right number in the win spot I'll process it as a fan after I count the winnings and record the ROI.
Full Mast is interesting to me. Trainer Mott brought the 4 YO here in July where he put on a game effort. He brought him back which should suggest he liked his late turn of foot over the course. No wins in 3 attempts at the distance, 6 of 8 lifetime in the money, 5 of 7 in the money lifetime on turf, comes in with Rosario up again off a minor stake at SAR in the Lure Stakes (above). Will his late turn be enough to catch Tepin?
Mutakayyef (GB) is a solid stakes runner in the UK, not grade 1 but solid. 2 wins and a game Show in the Grade 1 Juddmonte International in mid August. I'm thinking he's in the money in this field unless he really didn't travel well.
Passion for Action is a local who has ran 9 times over the WO turf winning 3 and Placing 3. No wins at the distance but he was really flying at 6f in July here in the Grade 2 Highlander. This is 2nd off 45-180 layoff, a jump that Trainer DePaulo wins 18% of the time. Sure this is the deep end of the pool but that's why its called gambling.
Glenville Gardens is a really nice Woobine story after being claimed last September. six wins in last 9 starts and three straight including the Grade 2 Play King at 7f here at WO in late August.
Mr Owen and Arod (Ire) will go off at better odds than most of the others I mentioned. Mr. Owen ran here determinedly last year in the Woodbine Mile over yielding turf. I'm not sure this is his race at this time based on how he's running and how the pacing should unfold. Arod (Ire) goes on Lasix for the first time and the 5 year old has not had a very good 2016 at all, winless in four starts. His last start at 1 mile was a Show finish and a better effort.
At my own peril I'm tossing Roger Attfield's Tower of Texas. You can't cover everyone and I could have easily made the case for him over Glenville Gardens or Passion for Action. Tower of Texas is winless in 2016, only one win in 7 starts on turf and one win in 7 starts on WO turf. He's coming late so possibly include him Show spot.
What to do? I'm going to play with something like this:
5-2-6-4-3 OVER 8 OVER 5-2-6-4-3, a $2 bet for $40.
I don't know if this is my final incarnation of this bet but you get the idea of what I'm trying to do.
If you want safe go 8 OVER 5-2-6-4-1 for a $2 exact that costs $10. Maybe only include the >15-1 horses.
Whatever you do, have fun with it! Turk Out.
Friday, September 2, 2016
|Frosted winning The Whitney; Photo Adam Coglianese|
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk. Today I'm writing this blog entry on The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga for both my hard core readers and the Thorofan Handicapper's Corner.
Frosted! Did you see the Met Mile and The Whitney? I've never been that high on horses returning from Dubai, but wow did this horse blow up that stereotype of me.
He checks every box for me: 13 of 17 in the money lifetime, 9 of 13 in the money the last two years with 5 wins. 5 of 5 in the money with 3 wins at the distance. 12 of 16 with 6 wins on fast dirt. Trainer McLaughlin and Jockey Rosario are 45% winners at Saratoga. Class breeding and premier barn and connections.
I can try and be a wiseguy but that's not me. My handicapping, perhaps old school in this day of analytics, is based on class, pace, past performance and conditions. I'm not going to waste too much time making a case while Frosted will lose and instead focus on who I think will be able to hit the ticket. Bet construction will focus on some exactas with Frosted singled and then maybe one Trifecta with Frosted in place and my Win and Show horses boxed in both spots.
Let's get after this!
Who other than Frosted can win? I see two possible candidates in Bradester and Mubtaahij.
Bradester is the modestly bred, with a Classic's pedigree, six year old son of Lion Heart. 9 wins in 22 starts on fast dirt, 16 of 22 in the money on fast dirt, 18 of 24 in the money lifetime. 1 win in 3 starts at the distance and only one appearance at Saratoga, a Place in 2013. Three straight wins, including the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap and the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup over slop.
Trainer Kenneally keep Jock Bravo, up. Expect him to be on the lead all the way. My base handicap assumes Frosted catches him.
Mubtaahij (Ire) returned from Dubai and got one tuneup in the G2 Suburban.
Five straight published workouts at SAR since the Suburban, all at 4f, all about :49 even. Trainer McLaughlin enters him and hard to tell what the expectation is other than a tracking trip. I think he'll be close and could win if Frosted falters.
Shaman Ghost and Breaking Lucky are the others I'm considering for the Trifecta ticket and I'm tossing Samraat at my own peril from the top three. It's fairly rare for me to talk about two horses at a Saratoga race that previously competed at my home track of Fort Erie, but these two did in the 2015 Princess of Wales Stakes as both are Ontario bred.
Shaman Ghost ran a bullet :48 4/5ths, top of 61 horses on 28 August. He exited the Suburban too where he tracked wide most of the trip and fell off. He's on Lasix for the first time today, an angle Trainer Jerkens has done 23 times this year, winning a paltry 4%. Jerkens and Castellano are winless in six tries at SAR.
Breaking Lucky, the 4 YO son of Looking at Lucky (I feel old suddenly!) is slower than most here and in a speed battle I don't think he can win but i think he's game enough to be in the jet stream.
Game, yes. Tactical speed, a bit with a late 2f burst of :23 and 4/5ths. Still looked wonky to me near the finish in Grade 3 company.
I don't feel too much concern tossing Catholic Cowboy (love the name, Mrs. Turk would pick em'), Tapin Mojo or Tale of Verve. They will all be long prices which is a good thing/bad thing. I'm not interested in bet construction that hopes for an incredible fluky finish but someone is and they will have a good day at the track if it happens. My long term ROI is built on avoiding "scratch off ticket" styles of bets. Samraat at least belongs in the conversation of this race, especially off his spring Belmont campaign for Trainer Violette. You can cover alot of horses and overbet or you can make tough choices. I'm making a tough choice and tossing him at my own peril.
My suggested bets are along these lines:
$2 Exacta: 3 OVER 4-1-2 for $6
$2 Tri: 3 OVER 4 -9-1-2 OVER 4-9-1-2 for $24
And/Or (I think OR)
$2 Tri: 4-9-1 OVER 3-2-4-9-1 OVER 3-2-4-1 for $60
I like the Exacta and the Tri with Frosted on top, while the $60 lottery ticket offers the most reasonable pizzazz.
Whatever you do, keep your bets reasonable and enjoy the races.
Friday, August 19, 2016
|2009 Alabama Stakes Winner Careless Jewel; Photo Budmeister 26.2|
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, a horse racing blog that focuses primarily on handicapping. I'd like to start by thanking The Thorofan and their Handicapper's Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.
The Alabama Stakes is typically a highlight race for me at Saratoga. I've had conflicts with this weekend over the past few years and the last time I was able to be there for it, my son and his grandfather joined me in 2009 to see the absolutely gorgeous Careless Jewel win in a romp.
It looked like the sort of performance that could catapult the filly to super stardom, but it just wasn't to be and the second best filly of 2009 behind Rachel Alexandra was retired soon after.
Songbird, today's stupid-crazy heavy chalk favorite has skyrocketed to super heights already, winning nine straight and absolutely dominating all comers. Today's focus will be on figuring out if she can be beaten and by who, as well as just embracing the heavy chalk as a single and seeing who can bring value into the Place and Show spots on an exotic ticket.
|Three Turk Generations at the Spa: Travers Stakes Day 2007|
Horse racing remembers. A few years back I was deeply disturbed when many of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park meet's races were renamed by the Stronach Group. I still don't like it and one of the most appealing things about horse racing to me besides the horses themselves is the tradition. When I look at this picture of my father and son, together at the 2007 Travers Stakes, it means something to me, it's my roots, horse racing roots, the thing that ties one generation of fans to the next. Imagine the hacks at the NYRA one day just deciding to rename The Alabama Stakes. I get heart palps just thinking about that. I'm sorry, I digress, and I just want to end this thought with this: Horse Racing Remembers.
I've been babbling a bit too much already, lets get after this race with a bit of video handicapping and then a peek at the fractions these horses are capable of. Let's get after it!
24 July2016 CCA Oaks G1 SAR 1 1/8 Miles; Fast Dirt
16 July 2016 Indiana Oaks G2 IND; 1 1/16 Miles; Fast Dirt
20 May 2016 Black Eyed Susan G2; PIM; 1 1/8 Miles; Fast Dirt
9 April 2016 Ashland G1; KEE; 1 1/8 Miles; Fast Dirt
Just some simply dazzling performances highlight in these few videos. I could post all of Songbirds and what you see is complete consistency. The Weep No More back to front finish at KEE in the Ashland was one of the memorable races of 2016 already, but nothing really from her since.
The chart below shows a small sample size of races at 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 of a mile. Surprisingly Flora Dora ran a similar speed in an OC $62K at BEL in early Julyas compared to Songbird's Summer Oaks G2.
At 1 1/8 miles there was a shocking disparity between Songbird, with the next closest horse Flora Dora finishing 8 lengths behind based on 1/5 of a second per length. Songbird is often slowed in the final 1/16 and that skews the data as this girl has tactical speed and Hall of Fame Jock Mike Smith knows how to use it.
Songbird. I'm not sure I need to say much else. She won at SAR, she's 9-0 lifetime with $2.4 MM of earnings already, a 5 Time Grade 1 winner, a Breeders' Cup Champ, she's the complete package. If it means anything, she has the lowest Tomlinson Number at the distance with a 269. I expect her to soar.
Family Tree, with hot jock F. Geroux up for trainer Wayne Catalano, comes in off two impressive outings in the mid west, in the Iowa Oaks in June and the Indiana Oaks 2 weeks later in July. While the class in those races isn't terribly high, she was impressive.
Going for Broke is making a big jump in class for trainer Chad Brown who places Ortiz up. That combo has struck for 30% wins in 90 tries at SAR this meet.
Go Maggie Go is on a layoff since June 11, something trainer Romans only wins 9% of the time. A :58 4/5ths 5f bullet with 76 others in the workout tab on 12 August shows she's fit. Black Eyed Susan winner wasn't visually impressive and ran a better, but out of the money, Kentucky Oaks a few weeks earlier.
Flora Dora I think is too low in my base handicap. Blinkers On, this First Dude daughter has two very fast bullets at SAR this month in morning work, I'm expected a focused and possibly career best effort to get in the money. I'll be covering her from Place to 4th.
Weep No More had alot of speed to run at in KEE. She'll be running at alot of speed here too. I'm not expecting a repeat performance. No Place or Show finishes in her career yet. Feast or famine and she's in the deep water today.
I'm tossing Dark Nile at my own peril.
I'm leaning towards two very different bets:
Primary: Songbird singled with 5-3-4-7-2 covered from Place to 4th in some combination I haven't fully thought through yet. I don't think I'll cover that many horses in Place but a 6 OVER 5-3-4-7-2 OVER 5-3-4-7-2 $2 Trifecta will cost $40.
Secondary/Hedge Bet: Exactas with Songbird in Place and the 5-3-4-7 in WIN spot. $2 bet for $8.
I'd like to end this post by again saying that I think Arlington Race Track is a wonderfully run, fan friendly place that I highly recommend to my horse racing friends. They make it easy to buy tickets on their website and the track experience in the club seating is fantastic. I wish Illinois racing would get their act together and attract better talent with better purses, but you cannot beat Million Preview and Million Day at that track. NYRA could learn a few things about race track experience from the team at Arlington.
|2016 Arlington Millions|
Have fun with it friends. Turk Out!
Hale, Ron (2001). "William Cottrill Stakes?" About.com/Horse Racing. http://horseracing.about.com/library/blalabama.htm Retrieved 17 August 2016.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, I am the Big Turk and my son, The Korean, is the Little Turk. At 16 years old The Little Turk has been to plenty of Grade 1 races and hit plenty of cold exactas. The kid has the stuff. Me? I'm a internet hack handicapper, old school, with a style that is a derivative of the techniques taught by my favorite handicappers, men like Brad Free and Tom Ainsile, Steve Davidowitz and Alan Shuback. My blog, The Turk and the Little Turk, has been producing handicaps for people who never asked for them since 2008. No self promotion, no pink sheets, no subscriptions, no high brow prose, just plain talk, handicapping based on form factors I consider key drivers and bet construction that is often too conservative, yet has produced positive ROI over a long period of time.
Thanks to the good people at The Thorofan who allow me an opportunity to talk horses with you. I'm a bit of a loner. I like to go to the track, but when I go, I'm seldom working as a handicapper. When I go, I'm a fan, there for the horses, the people, the relaxed nature and the rhythm of race day. I do my best handicapping away from the track, in solitude, at my kitchen table, late in the evening. Meets like Saratoga appeal to the fan in me. I love Saratoga and it's really the track that became ground zero in my horse racing romance when I used to live on Jumel Place and walk to the track, summer of 1986. It's been 30 years since I was a resident of Saratoga, a young man with a Skiddy Kiddy girlfriend, a fast car, plenty of cash, a mean grove dancing at The Metro and time to kill. The city has a special place in my heart even if the track seems designed to stab me in the heart. You see, I'm not that good at Saratoga. My ROI at Saratoga is just so-so, negative over time. I love the track but for whatever reason I've never played it well. You've been warned!
So what are we doing today? The Jim Dandy is a 3 YO handicap prep for The Travers Stakes. A six horse Grade 2, with five of six entrants being Triple Crown nominated, a Grade 1 winner in Creator, two Grade 2 winners with Mohaymen and Destin and a fairly even group of runners. My first reaction is that as a betting opportunity I'm not sure what we have here: four of the six runners will have short prices and the other two might be a bit long, and I don't see upset possibilities with the bigger prices, but possibly Place or Show. Let's not jump ahead yet to the bet construction, lets just break this down first into a base handicap.
Let's start with Mohaymen's Fountain of Youth at GP.
Shutdown after an exotic finish in the Kentucky Derby, Trainer McLaughlin is 22% off the 60-180 day break. Five Wins in six Fast Dirt starts and five wins in seven career starts. Smoked by Nyquist in the Florida Derby on an off track and the Kentucky Derby.
I'm not going to give Mohaymen too much of a pass for the trip: at the top of the stretch he had no response even though he went wide most of the way. He was just beaten and Nyquist's acceleration was phenomenal. It would have been great to have Nyquist here but I always respect Haskell runners.
I thought Mohaymen looked pretty game at the top of the stretch where again he was wide most of the race. Exaggerator just blew past him as he chased down Nyquist. I'm thinking in this company, Grade 2 company, he looks good. He's my chalk.
I typically toss Belmont performance. Sometimes I'm right to do that, sometimes I'm wrong. I think Destin deserves consideration as a high class runner. Watch this gutty fight in the last 1/16th to win the Tampa Bay Derby.
This might be blasphemy, but the Belmont Stakes is typically a yawn for me. I loved Rags to Riches, and of course American Pharoah's, but this year's edition was pretty, pretty good.
Owner of the top Beyer on fast dirt, Destin is five of seven in the money lifetime and Trainer Pletcher has maybe the best pilot in the race, Castellano, up. Tactical speed may win this race.
I've been a big Arkansas Derby race respect giver and Creator gets that praise this year.
Does wow cover it? Last at first call, a dazzling move through traffic by previous pilot Santana (Ortiz up today as he was on Belmont win) and a driving win. He's not going to be within three at the top of the stretch unless the pace really plods, which I'm not expecting, and I'm not sure I like his running style here. Steve Asmussen knows a thing or two about horse racing, and he likes him here so maybe i'm right, maybe I'm wrong, but handicapping is about being decisive and I have him shaded down a bit.
I may have Governor Malibu too high in my base handicap, and in my bet construction I may flip flop him with Creator on some tickets and Race Me Home on others. This New York bred may not win the Class competition but I'm a big fan of Clement's barn and I like the tactical speed here too. Five of six in the money on fast dirt and seven of eight lifetime in the money. I like tough, game, speedy Malibu Moon's.
I liked this effort in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at BEL in May. Game, smart, gutty in final 1/16th.
Race Me Home (Ire) represents a horse that will run at a good price and may spice up some pretty blah tickets if he can sneak into the top three or two. He'll be coming off the pace, like Creator. They should have plenty of speed to set their sights on. This Easy Goer Stakes , an ungraded 1 1/16 race at BEL had some pretty good horses in it and Race Me Home doesn't embarrass himself with this effort.
I'm tossing Laoban, owner of a :46 2/5ths bullet (1/86) this week at my own peril. He's been slow in races and I'd like to see a bit more before I sign up for that. This Uncle Mo is a maiden still, seven races into his career, not sure he was worth the $260,000 fee yet.
I don't know what I'll do with this yet. I'm thinking my base handicap will look similar to the tote board with maybe the exception of Creator being too low and Race Me Home and Governor Malibu being too high. I'm most likely going to single Mohaymen and then build a matrix of possibilities for Place and Show. I'm not planning on spending too much as the risk-reward for my bet construction methods, is seldom there in a six horse, top heavy card. I'll tweet out my bet from my handle @turkandlilturk after checking the tote board, the scratches and changes and the track condition.
Have fun with it friends, Turk Out!
Thursday, July 7, 2016
|Fit to Fight, 1984 and last NY Handicap Triple Champ|
That handsome fella is Fit to Fight, the fourth and last winner of the New York Handicap Triple, a three race sequence that included the Metropolitan Handicap, the Brooklyn Handicap and the Suburban Handicap. Obviously it would be hard to win now that the super geniuses moved the Met Mile onto the same card as the Brooklyn Handicap.
Would it be so hard to create a NY Series with a race on Wood Memorial Day, the Suburban and then the Woodward? Racing in my opinion does little to excite the fans. I've had a hard time watching some of the major televised events over past six months because every telecast eventually leads to an American Pharoah exposition. Even a Triple Crown was squandered by the people that market this sport. This isn't the type of blog that gets into these sort of issues, but it doesn't mean The Turk isn't wildly frustrated by the lack of progress in making this sport less of a cultural backwater.
Let's get it on!
The weather might be wet. Make sure you keep your eye on the Scratches/Changes and Track Condition. I'm Ok saying I think my handicap is good regardless if the dirt is fast or wet, but my bet construction may change a bit.
I always like to get a visual look at the track and the runners recent efforts. Here we have Shaman Ghost looking very strong at 1 1/2 miles over Turco Bravo and Samraat (yawn).
Stephen Foster with Eagle just missing for Place and Effinex in a forgettable trip.
Noble Bird in the Met Mile. I'm posting just to drool over Frosted again.
Sometimes the video/visual handicapping helps, other times it just provides a fun distraction from the task at hand: handicapping a classic distance handicap. I'm going with Eagle as a very tepid chalk. I could make a case for Shaman Ghost or Effinex but I'm going with Eagle on a driving finish from more than three lengths off the lead. Negatives: First BEL start, no starts at the distance. Positives include 13 of 15 in the money on fast dirt, a smokin' 436 Tomlin on off tracks and some consistent game efforts of late. I fully expect him to be in the money but his drive could come up short.
Throw out the Effinex effort at the Stephen Foster. Defending champion here, has tussled and won against some true Grade 1 horses, with 2 wins in 8 starts at BEL, 5 of 6 in the money at the distance, capable in the slop. Trainer Jenkens, uncoupled with his Shaman Ghost entry, has Mike Smith up here. Will he go on the lead or try to give him one big run is a wildcard for me.
Shaman Ghost ran a hell of a Brooklyn. Cutting back a full 1/4 mile, this Ontario bred represents a good price and a chance to make a nice win bet return. 5 of 6 in the money on fast dirt, a big wet track Tomlinson, 2 of 2 in the money at the distance, 2 of 2 in the money at BEL, 7 of 10 in the money lifetime and a :59 3/5ths bullet 6 days ago. Light the fuse!
Noble Bird I don't think is a win candidate. Very inconsistent, with alternating good and bad efforts. His putrid Met Mile came off a career best 110 Beyer Pimlico Special.
I'm not that high on Mubtaahij: He made $2.0 MM in earnings for finishing well back of California Chrome in Dubai World Cup.
First time lasix, a 20% win angle for Trainer McLaughlin. I'm not a big fan of the the first effort off the heavy travel to Dubai.
Seven year old Turco Bravo (Chi) is the wily old veteran of the group. 51 career starts, 4 straight 90+ Beyers, 7 of 8 in the money at the distance but slow. Possible he hits the exotics.
I'm tossing Samraat just because you can't cover everyone (unless you're a hack). Slow and his career Beyer was two years ago as Place to Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial. I'm not sure he's run a good race since early 2014. I'm tossing Tapin Mojo who enters off a $12,500 claimer. A sign o' the times.
I have no idea what I'm doing from a bet perspective yet but all things equal my bet will match my handicap.
Have fun with it friends, Turk Out!
Friday, July 1, 2016
|Rachel's Valentina: photo credit NYRA/Susie Raisher|
I'm not a fan of the short blast; I like to ramble, I like to share race videos, race charts and past performances with my readers in an attempt to talk about handicapping in a Tom Ainsile/Brad Free style that my methods are based on.
I've studied analytics and algorithms but at the end of the day, class, conditions and pace usually dominates my selections. My readers don't read The Turk for the human angle, fascinating stories or interviews, or the latest racing news. I cater to a degenerate crowd that would prefer I just posted by winner in the first sentence so they could read it and move on to the next blogger in an attempt to ignore the handicapping and jump right to the bet selection. What you do with this blog is your business, I do this for the love of racing and the puzzle solving euphoria that comes from assembling winning tickets.
The Turk has really focused his handicapping this year on 4 year old's running routes on dirt. It's my sweet spot, and quite frankly, those horses are my favorites. I love the older horses, not yet wanted in the breeding shed, gelded, with lots of past performance to guide me and a sporting quality I really am pulled towards. I completely ignored the Triple Crown folly this year, and only now in July do I even want to start looking at 3 YOs as I prep for Breeders' Cup weekend, my highlight weekend of racing every year. Today's Mother Goose will give me a good feel for the serious Eastern US filly group. My quick review of the past performances is wow: A Curlin, two Bernadini's, one by Rachel Alexandra running in Stonestreet Stables silks, and just a pretty classy high end group. The race fan in me is excited by a Rachel's Valentina, above. I still get goosbumps thinking about Rachel when she ran by me at the 1/16th pole on the way to winning the Woodward.
One of my things is I don't really read racing news stories, especially puffy piece stuff about the horse, the connections, etc. I don't like the bias of these articles seeping into my process. I'm OK if I sound weird, to me these horses are fresh runners, I've never read about them, never watched them run, never bet on them. As bizarre as it reads, my best ROI is on these sort of races.
The weather should be beautiful at post time and I would expect the dirt to be fast. As always, make sure you check the scratches and changes before plopping your money down at the windows. Let's get it on!
Let's get a feel for who are the players here.
The Acorn Stakes at BEL at 1 Mile. Off the Tracks a game place after a tough inside trip.
The Kentucky Oaks 1 1/8 Miles at CD. Rachel's Valentina gets smoked in the stretch by Lewis Bay as well as the winner of this and the Acorn, Cathryn Sophia
Such good racing, explosive stretch drives. My initial thoughts are:
I'm leaning towards Off the Tracks as my tepid chalk. A game place in the Acorn after a lousy trip. Jockey Johnny V jumps off of her and J. Ortiz is up for Trainer Pletcher. 4 of 4 in the money on fast dirt with a career high 96 Beyer, no wins at the distance or BEL. 3 weeks after Acorn she's back, I'm guessing Pletcher knows what he's doing. We'll find out.
Lewis Bay is back since last running on Kentucky Oaks day and Trainer Brown is 28% off the layoff. 4 of 4 in the money on fast dirt with a 91 career high Beyer, cutting back a 1/16th off last few races, and 2 of 2 in the money at BEL.
Rachel's Valentina wins the sexy award but sexy doesn't win races. I'm having a hard time getting the image of her fading badly down the stretch of the Oaks out of my mind. If you want to see a bit more competitive fire, look at her effort in the Ashland, a bizarre finish as well.
The quality is a bit sketchy after these three. Lightstream is on the outside for Trainer Brian Lynch, 2 of 2 on fast dirt with a race best Career best 103 Beyer and 3 of 3 lifetime. She's stretching out from a 7F comfort zone and is a G3 winner. She's in the deeper end of the pool today.
I'm not sure what I'm doing from a bet construction perspective. If I bet, and I'm not sure right now, I'll guard against over covering and I'll follow my base handicap fairly closely. I'm thinking 2-5 OVER 2-5-6-7-3 OVER 5-6-7-3. Something along those lines but even that feels a bit too safe. I'll think about it after looking at tote board and scratches and make a decision then.
Have fun with the racing and the handicapping.
My last note: There is a wonderful effort underway to bring help to 43 horses found to have been abandoned by their owner in Kentucky. Just an amazing effort and if you are interested in helping, please follow this link
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Dear friends, thank you for reading The Turk and the Little Turk.
The Ogden Phipps. It's not an easy family for most of us to relate to. Old money, power, privilege. Pull back the curtain and you'll find arts patronage, philanthropy and horses, some wonderful, incredible horses. Personal Ensign. Buckpasser. Easy Goer.
We may not be able to relate to the incredible wealth, but the family ties, the love of horse racing, if you are reading this you can relate to those qualities.
Today brings an end to silly season, the Triple Crown race. I sat out this year and don't feel worse for it. My personal rant is the Belmont should be reduced by at least a quarter of a mile when a Triple Crown is not on the line. There is no reason to make these horses run that distance. I know, Turk, what about Marathons? It's a stupid distance and I'm not going to change my mind about that. Anyway, no one listens to The Turk, or fans for that matter. I applaud the work of The Thorofan and other fan first organizations, but this sport is seemingly unable to get out of their own way. I digress again.
I have focused this season on my first love, older horses being campaigned on dirt. I find the stories and the past performances of a five or six year old so much more interesting than a three year old colt who with a little bit of success, will disappear to the breeding shed. Anyhow, let's get after this 1 and 1/16 mile race on dirt for fillies and mares, 4 years old and up, the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps.
Let's take a look at Curalina/5 and Sheer Drama/7
The Grade 1 La Troien at CD on fast dirt at 1 1/16 miles.
The 1 mile Ruffian at BEL with Carrumba/1 and Cavorting/4
The G1 Madison at 7F at Kee with Stopchargingmaria/2 and Sheer Drama/7
1 1/16 mile Apple Blossom G1 at OP with Forever Unbridled/6
I'm thinking about singling Curalina who I think stands out even in a field of 7 with 5 horses you could make a legitimate win argument for. A driving win on Kentucky Oaks day, 5 wins in 8 starts on fast dirt and 8 of 8 in the money on fast dirt, and 9 of 9 lifetime in the money from the 4 YO daughter of Curlin. Johnny V up after jumping off of Forever Unbridled for this. Pletcher is 30% in 2nd races off a long layoff.
Stopchargingmaria and Cavorting are a blanket finish in my rankings.
Stopchargingmaria has been on the shelf since early April, and Pletcher is 22% off a >60 day break. Very consistent. No wins at the distance, no wins at BEL, 12 of 15 in the money lifetime.
Cavorting ran a spectacular 1 mile Ruffian here in May. 75% win rate at BEL, 60% winner on fast dirt, 8 of 11 lifetime in the money. The 4 YO Bernadini has been improving on the stretch out but this is first attempt at the distance and is a 1/16 longer than previous efforts.
Forever Unbridled is also off a break since mid April, and Trainer Stewart is 14% off a 30-60 day break. Training sharply and seems to still be improving. Would be a huge statement but I'm more intrigued by Place than Win for this 4 YO Unbridled Song operating in diamond miner, Charles Fipke's, silks.
Florida bred 6 YO Mare Sheer Drama has 7 wins in 22 career starts and is 15 of 18 in the money on fast dirt, 5 of 6 in the money at the distance and winless at BEL. Was really coming late in Breeders' Cup Distaff and upset StopchargingMaria at 9-1 at 7F in April, followed up by a flat La Troien as the chalk in May. Which runner will show up for Trainer Fawkes.
I think this is a fantastic field and a challenging bet construction. I may single Curalina and look to build some exactas and Tri's covering down to Sheer Drama and leaving Carumba and Desert Valley on the outside looking in.
Take a moment to remember Mr Ogden Phipps, whose son, Dinny, passed away just recently as well. The end of a horse racing era.
April 23, 2002
Ogden Phipps, Racer of Horses, Dies at 93
By JOSEPH DURSO
Ogden Phipps, the financier and sportsman who became the pillar of horse racing in New York in the middle years of the 20th century, died yesterday at a hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 93.
Mr. Phipps was the central figure in a family dynasty built on steel, investment banking and the breeding and racing of horses. He was the grandson of Henry Phipps, the partner of the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie; the son of Henry Carnegie Phipps and Gladys Livingston Mills Phipps (his mother owned the Wheatley Stable); and the father of Ogden Mills Phipps, known as Dinny, who succeeded him as chairman of the Jockey Club and master of the Phipps racing stable.
In the investment banking business, he rose to become a partner in Smith Barney, and from 1958 to 1978 he was chairman of the Bessemer Trust Company, the private bank that held the family fortune.
In the horse racing business, he became pre-eminent as the owner of numerous national champions, including Buckpasser, Personal Ensign, Easy Goer and Bold Ruler, the sire of Secretariat. As chairman of the Jockey Club for 10 years, he was the chief guardian of America's racing rules and bloodlines.
He was raised into a family of wealth and into the elegant life that ruled society early in the century. His grandfather used to lease an entire railway train to carry members of the family, their servants and pets to Palm Beach for the winter and back to Long Island in the spring. The family once owned 28 miles of Florida coastline between Miami and Palm Beach, as well as large tracts along Biscayne Boulevard and much of the city of Palm Beach itself. And several times the Phipps family was reported to have made large loans to the City of Miami during the Depression.
Yet on the toss of a coin, the family once lost the chance to become the owner of the greatest racehorse of his time. It was a sporting toss: Helen Tweedy was the owner of the mare Somethingroyal; Mrs. Phipps and her son, Ogden, owned the stallion Bold Ruler. They flipped a coin to see who would get the first foal of the mating. The first foal, who went to the Phippses, was a forgettable filly. The second, who went to Mrs. Tweedy, was a colt: Secretariat.
But the Phipps family was rarely short of horses that could run and win, nor of trainers who would make certain that they did, from Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons to Bill Winfrey to Shug McGaughey. And they reached peaks of performance, as they did in 1988, when they had 35 winners from 87 starts and earned $5.8 million in purses.
When the Eclipse Awards were voted that year, five of racing's highest honors went to members of the Phipps entourage: Easy Goer was named the nation's best 2-year-old colt; Personal Ensign, who finished her career undefeated, the outstanding filly or mare; McGaughey the top trainer; and Mr. Phipps both the outstanding owner and the outstanding breeder.
Most of the family's racing operations were directed from Barn 20 at Belmont Park, where the famous Phipps colors flew high: black with a cherry-red cap. But the family had been a powerful element in racing in North America and Europe for many years.
The family fortune resulted from the boyhood friendship in what is now Pittsburgh between Andrew Carnegie, the son of a Scottish immigrant weaver, and Henry Phipps, the son of a Scottish immigrant cobbler.
When the boys were in their 20's, Carnegie bought a piece of the Kloman steel forge and gave Henry Phipps half-interest for $800 and bookkeeping work. In time, the company became Carnegie Steel and then United States Steel, and when they sold the company to J. P. Morgan in 1901, Henry Phipps left with $50 million.
Henry Phipps devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy and managing the family fortune. According to his grandson, Ogden Mills Phipps, Henry Phipps created the first low-income public housing in New York City. The nonprofit Phipps Houses still owns and manages apartments in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, the grandson said.
The Bessemer Trust Company was founded in 1907 with the proceeds of the sale of United States Steel. For its first 68 years, Bessemer handled only the accounts of the descendants of Henry Phipps. In a 1995 study of Bessemer, The American Banker said that by 1975 the Phipps family assets in the company were worth $1 billion.
Ogden Phipps was born in New York on Nov. 26, 1908. He graduated from St. Paul's in New Hampshire and then Harvard in 1931. During World War II, he was a Navy officer, rising to the rank of commander.
He was raised in a sporting atmosphere half a century before off-track betting in New York transformed the nature of racing. His mother and father founded the Wheatley Stable and stud. His mother owned Bold Ruler, the stallion who became the dominant sire in the world for lines of racehorses distinguished for their speed.
Mr. Phipps excelled at golfing, boating and tennis and won the United States tennis championship seven times in the 1930's and 1940's and the British amateur title in 1949. He was inducted into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001.
His first stakes victory as an owner came in 1936 when his homebred White Cockade won the Withers. The best thoroughbred he ever raced was probably Buckpasser, who won 25 of 31 starts and finished out of the money only once. In recent years, Mr. Phipps spent his winters living off Palm Beach on his yacht named Buckpasser.
In 1937 he married Lillian Bostwick, an equestrienne who also drove trotting horses. Her brother, Pete Bostwick, was an outstanding steeplechase jockey and polo player. Another brother, Dunbar, was her partner in owning trotters, and together they raced the legendary Noble Hanover.
Lillian Phipps died in 1987. Mr. Phipps is survived by two sons, Robert L. Phipps, of Ridgeland, S.C., and Ogden Mills Phipps, of Palm Beach; a daughter, Cynthia Phipps, of New York; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a sister, Sonia Seherr-Thoss of Litchfield, Conn. Cynthia Phipps owns Saarland, a strong contender for the Kentucky Derby a week from Saturday.
Mr. Phipps's sentimental favorite was Personal Ensign, who won all 13 of her races. In 1988, after a seven-month layoff, she won five Grade I stakes in a row and outran the sprint champion Gulch in the Whitney. She defeated Winning Colors, the filly who had won the Kentucky Derby, in the Maskette Stakes at Belmont Park and again in an electrifying duel in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs to complete her career with a perfect record.
Personal Ensign, apparently beaten in the homestretch by Winning Colors, suddenly spurted back into contention and won the duel by a short nose. It was, Mr. Phipps said later, ''a terrifying experience.''
In recounting Mr. Phipps's last years, Ogden Mills Phipps told The Associated Press yesterday: ''He loved the breeding side, the foals and the mares. He went every 10 days this winter to see his new crop of 2-year-olds. He got more excited by the breeding side the older he was.''
Friday, May 13, 2016
My first race track romance was with Ruffian. As a young boy, like many boys my age in an era before instant information, we waited every week for our copies of Sports Illustrated to arrive by mail. I never saw Ruffian run, but I read about her, was captivated by her, and ultimately horrified at her sudden and gruesome death. I'm still not, some 40 years later, able to think about Ruffian without getting emotional. Her death, like the death of George Washington and Tuscan Evening, resonated with me at a very deep level, the level in my soul that makes me a fan and lover of these animals and not someone who can purely think of them as a post position and a price. It's a beautiful and cruel sport all wrapped into one.
I'm not embarrassed to say I'm not really a very good blogger. The Turk is celebrating his 8th year of hack handicapping and poorly written sentences, and my traffic in 8 years is about the traffic the good blogs get over a Breeders' Cup weekend. No matter, I love talking about the horses and my ROI speaks for me when I can't string the words together properly. I wish I had the time, and talent to write like this piece I found about Ruffian. This blog entry at The Vault: Horse Racing Past and Present is real writer's articulate retrospective on one of the finest race horses ever. As promised, I'm getting emotional talking about Ruffian, and I'll shut up now and get back to the business at hand! Rest in Peace Ruffian and Trainer Frank Whiteley Jr.
I wish there was more business to be at hand. Today we have a 6 horse field and you could make a legitimate case for 5 horses to win this race. While it's a wonderful field, I just wish it was more than six horses. As a race track investor, the reward must be worth the risk, and I can find much easier marks on any card on any day of the week than this race. That said, I like to handicap and assemble bets, and while I may not ultimately play it, I follow the same consistent steps for every two part handicap/bet construction and I have found that it is that consistent approach to interpreting the past performances and the race charts that brings me success.
Let's get after it!
Right off the bat, keep your eyes on the weather. It's going to pour on Friday and maybe it will dry out by Saturday for a very fast track. If it goes sloppy, our field has 7 total wet starts, with 2 wins both by Carrumba, so that may change thinking slightly at post time. Our field has a top Beyer of 100 by Cavorting with a variance of (16) Beyer points down to our toss horse, Welcome Aboard. The Beyer didn't toss the 6 year old, her wretched 5 year old campaign did.
I think Carrumba is the logical choice: 3 wins in last four starts, in the money in all 7 lifetime starts, 2 wins at the distance, 2 wins in 2 tries on off track, 2 wins in 3 starts at BEL, a Grade 3 winner, the Phipps Stable (Barbara Phipps-Janney, owner of Ruffian) runner looks the part of pure class.
I like Spelling Again as a contrarian choice; owned by Buffalo Sabres Hockey Hall of Fame member and one of the true gentleman of our era. She'll be near the front and looking to fire off of speed. I'm not sure the pace scenario will set up for her, but I like this mare quite a bit.
Cavorting makes another excellent argument for the Win. Her last four starts she's been stretching out at the 7 furlong wire, and the 1 panel extra distance may just be what she wants. She runs against Grade 1 caliber horses consistently and she has a Grade 1 win. No wins yet at the distance for the 4 YO, 2 wins at BEL, and she had much success at Saratoga last year, something I generally dismiss. 5 wins in 10 starts.
Include Betty is also a graded stakes regular and Grade 2 winner. Trainer Proctor is 19% off a 61-180 day layoff, I think she needs another start after this.
There is nothing to dislike about Calamity Kate, you just can't cover them all and the Yes It's True 4 YO with Johnny V up fell off my list a bit. She seems to still not be able to rate very well and with a cut back in distance I think the thought is to steal the race from the front and hold on. I'm not sure, its very possible.
As you can see, this is a jam packed quality field. Be careful in a race like this over covering and over investing. Calamity Kate, Spelling Again and Welcome Aboard will have big prices come post time. If you need action, play Calamity Kate and Spelling Again to Win or Place, or toss them into an exacta box on top of Cavorting and Carrumba.
Friday, April 15, 2016
|Blofeld: NYRA Photo|
That good looking four year old is Blofeld, the son of my favorite thoroughbred of the past ten years, Quality Road. Why was Quality Road my favorite? Who can say why, he just was! I don't think he's the best horse in the race, but this gambler is looking for value and I like his chances at 4-1 or so.
The Turk comes out of his horse racing slumber each year around this time. The handicap division races leading up to this point were a mixed bag of ho hum and exciting. The Kentucky Derby prep races don't do much for me. I'll get hot and heavy into the racing cards after this weekend's Oaklawn Handicap, as well as the Arkansas Derby, my favorite and one of the most indicative Derby prep races.
My first impression at looking at the Oaklawn Handicap card was eh. It takes something special to get my horse racing fan's blood flowing, and it takes something subtle to get my horse racing handicappers mind intrigued. I'm not sure I see either in this collection of runners, perhaps a lack of real stars outside of California Chrome in the handicap division. When you think of possible stars, Effinex is a minor star by now, I think Blofeld could freak out some fast 1 mile races, but Upstart is very intriguing, with a nice start in 2016 with a win in the Razorback G3 here in mid March. "Absolutely smoked" in the Kentucky Derby is on many a resume of great and exciting Handicap Division stars. Here's hoping we find some stars.
Let's get after it!
I'll be honest, I think I'm a pretty good handicapper but I don't have much of an opinion on this race after studying the card. I don't pay much attention to Morning Line odds but I'm guessing my handicap follows the ML's pretty closely. Effinex would be considered chalk, but not indelible ink. If he goes into the gate at 2-1 or closer to even money would it surprise anyone? As a handicapper if you feel strongly about the chalk then don't let that scare you off, just single him in the win spot and look for value in Place and Show. Alternatively, cover him in a small group in Win and Place and cast a slightly wider net hoping that the longer tote board odds can come up and take it at the line.
My top four could have a blanket over them, maybe a 1.5-2.5 panel blanket, but they are very close. I am tepidly picking Blofeld to win his first race at the distance: Trainer Pletcher brings him in on a 31-60 day layoff, something Pletcher wins 24% of the time and off a win, something Pletcher wins 28% of the time. I think he'll stalk what should be plenty of front end speed and fire off of that.
The most likely winner is Effienx, rebounding after a fast start/slow finish in Santa Anita Handicap.
2 wins at the distance, 33% win rate on fast dirt after 18 starts, 33% win rate lifetime after 21 starts, the 5 YO will carry the heaviest weight at 121 pounds but don't get too emotional about that. Trainer Jerkens had him running two fast works at BEL leading up to this. He's the best in this field, more than capable. I'm covering W-P-and maybe S.
Upstart comes in off a win in the Razorback. 36% win rate on fast dirt on 11 tries, no wins at the distance. The Razorback was a really nice win and he may press into the top two on the toteboard by post time. In my handicap he's slowing as the closers are passing. Place or Show seems very reasonable.
I like Financial Modeling. I'll really like him in G3 and G2 races. He's had some time to rest and train off the Donn. He'll be pressing the pace and I think he'll be fading at the end. 2 of 4 at the distance, 3 wins in 7 fast dirt starts and 5 of 6 in the money in 2015. $220,000 of winnings in 9 starts gives you the feeling he's in the deep end of the pool here. Trainer Cox takes him into his barn from Trainer Brown and Cox is a 20% winner on 101 starts first time out. Cox is a real rising star with a dazzling 27% win rate in Graded Stakes and 30% of routes.
I like Oaklawn journeyman, the 8 YO Domain's Rap, to possibly bring value to a winning ticket. I think he's got a shot at Show or 4th. You know he'll run a low to mid 90's Beyer and he'll run the whole race. You never know when horses start to get eased who will slip in. I don't think much of Carve until he shows some better form. His name and his rep will be bet harder than it should be which should ease the tote board a bit.
If I was playing the race it would most likely just be a simple 10 cent trifecta: 1-8-6 OVER 1-8-6-4 OVER 1-6-4-7 OVER 6-4-7-2-5 for $7.70. I don't really like those bets from a value perspective so If forced to be aggressive I'd go: 8 OVER 1-6-4-7 OVER 1-6-4-7 a $1 bet for $12.
Have fun friends, Turk Out!