Saturday, September 17, 2016

Happy 8th Birthday Turk and the Little Turk Blog!

I'm throwing my own birthday party, but I don't care.  Happy 8th Birthday to my blog, The Turk and the Little Turk.

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

The Nomination Is In: The Woodbine Mile Grade 1

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

The Nomination Is In: The Woodward Stakes Grade 1 at Saratoga

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.

Turk Out!