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!

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