Sunday, January 10, 2016

Post Race Analysis: Hal's Hope and San Pasqual

Mshawish by a neck over Valid: Photo Leslie Martin/GS Park

There wasn't much money to be made, but good handicapping is good handicapping, and I'm always trying to hone the craft.

A long time ago I made the decision that if I was going to take on the opportunity costs of a race I should also make the effort to review not only my handicapping post race, but also my bet strategy to see if what I did made sense, and more importantly, made a return on my investment.

Hal's Hope G3 Gulfstream Park Race 7: 9 January 2016

The key to my Hal's Hope strategy was plugging Grande Shores into Show.  I expected a different pace scenario and expected him to be moving forward and not backwards at the line, but regardless, he was 5th on the tote board and I had him third.  With Valid/Mshawish covered for Win and Place, and Grande Shores/Matrooh covered for Show a $2 Bet costs $8 and it offered a $33.40 return.   $8 for $33.40 is a good ROI for a 5 horse field.  The Superfecta wasn't worth the bet and seldom is in small fields, returning only $6.34 for $1 buck.    It's so easy and tempting to rip up the tickets and walk away when your bets don't work, but take the time now and then to think about the results and what you could have done differently and you'll improve.

San Pasqual G2 Santa Anita Race 8:  9 January 2016

Picking California Chrome isn't that hard, and the top four on the tote board finished in the top four here which doesn't bode well for wagers unless you single or use a matrix.  The matrix I assembled but didn't bet for The San Pasqual was  5/4 OVER 5/4/6/2/8 Over 4/6/2/8 OVER 6/2/8.  A $1 bet would have cost $30 and returned $57.20.  While still a positive ROI, you'll leave money on the table when you are being discerning.  I was more into the return of Chrome as a fan than a bettor and no regrets to pass on this wager.

Anyway's, it's a good start for the Turk and his red gel pen in 2016.  Happy Handicapping to Everyone.

Turk Out!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Nomination Is In: The G3 Hal's Hope and the Grade 2 San Pasqual

California Chrome: Photo AP
Hello Friends to the 8th year of The Turk and the Little Turk: Horses, Handicapping and Hijinks.

Must See TV.  Any race with California Chrome, a Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Santa Anita Derby winner, a champion, not gelded, who is still racing at age 5, is cause for celebration in my book.

There are plenty of folks on the other side of the fence that hold a grudge against the horse because his connections are a bit o' jackass but I never hate the horse for something the humans do, and God knows, human's do plenty of stupid things in this sport.

The Handicap Division is what the Turk is all about.  I love the older horses, the journeymen who toil away for their owners, more valuable racing that making more horses, or gelded and doing all they can do.  I dig the older horses.  I know most race fans are paying attention to the Sham or some other 3 YO race today, but I couldn't care less yet about the babies.  They will have their time.  I'll catch Derby fever soon enough but the hype machine is something I like to ignore as a handicapper and I'd prefer to see a bit of ink on the PPs before I place investment capital on the line.

Anyway, I'm looking today at Gulfstream and the Hal's Hope and at Santa Anita's San Pasqual.  I've been on handicappers holiday since The Clark Handicap the day after Thanksgiving so I may be rusty, but hey, the red gel pen has muscle memory. Let's get after it!

Valid: Equi-Photo/Taylor Ejdys
Mshawish, a 6 time Turf winner, tried to win his first on fast dirt.  He's a classy horse with very solid connections, yet the Turk is shading towards Valid, winner of 33% of his races on fast dirt, 4 of 11 starts at the distance and 6 wins in 11 starts at GP.  I like the gelded 6 YO's work tab and I think it's his to lose.

I'm taking Grande Shores over a better horse, Matrooh for Show. The 8 YO son of Black Mambo, Grande Shores likes to close on the pack and I'd hedging that he hangs around long enough to come a running for third.  This is the veteran's 22nd start at GP, 16 of 21 in the money, 29 of 38 in the money on fast dirt and 36 of 50 lifetime in the money.

At Santa Anita, the contrarian in me is looking for Hoppertunity to upset California Chrome for the win spot.  Chrome had 2 starts in 2015 and I don't care how good he was, I don't know how good he'll be until I see him.  His work looks good and I'd love to see him freak, so I'll cover the win spot, but the degenerate gambler in me would prefer place.

I like Hard Aces, a six year old Hard Spun, to hit the ticket.  He likes to come late, so I'm going with a similar pace idea as in the Hal's Hope and I'm looking for him to pull onto the ticket in the last 1/16.  Blingo, The Moss's 7 YO gelded Artie Schiller, faded in this race last year and hasn't won since last February.  I think he's right there above the trailers.  Imperative has no wins in 9 starts at Santa Anita, no wins in 3 tries at the distance  and 1 win in 14 tries on fast dirt and he was winless in six starts in 2015.  3 wins in 27 career starts but $1.7 million in winnings, starting to look like a lot of luck when he beat Game on Dude in the Charles Town Classic.

Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy yourself.  Forget the sheets of any color and instead read the works of guys like Brad Free and Tom Ainsilie and work on your 'capping without the pressure of gambling.  Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.

Turk Out!