|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