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!