Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Eddie Reed at Del Mar

Del Mar

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

It took me less than 24 hours to be a liar in this blog.  I said I wasn't playing Del Mar this summer, I couldn't resist dipping my toe in the surf with the Grade 2 Eddie Reed, 9 panels over a route of grass.  While most eyes will be on The San Diego and the return to North American racing for Arrogate, this older turf event is more my speed.  I'm not sure how I'd play Arrogate today anyway: I typically always bet against horses on first effort back from Dubai but I don't think I'd do that here.  Regardless,  lets take a look at Race Four and focus on this task at hand.

Let's get it on!

Only two last race winners in the gate today:  Mr Roary won an OC62K wire to wire over firm turf at 1 1/4 miles and Ashleyluvssugar in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham.

In the 1 Mile American Stakes at Santa Anita, Kenjisstorm showed me nothing even with a great rail trip ride, while Hunt (Ire) was really rolling the last panel.  Can he run contrary to a 266 Tomlinson?

On paper, Ashleyluvssugar is the only legitimate graded stakes runner in this bunch.  With Steven up, this horse has shown the ability to rate and have a late turn of foot to finish off the competition.  I expect that today.

So who will Ashleyluvssugar be rallying against?  I've got a deep group of four with little differentiating them.

Mr Roray I considered tossing at first look but upon reflection this 2nd effort off 180 day layoff (which Trainer Papaprodromou is 0 of 4 at this past year) is a cut back of 1/8 mile and this very classy Scat Daddy 4 YO seems very undervalued.

Hunt (Ire) goes blinkers on this race.  As I previously said, I loved his closing speed against the pace in the American.  Is that who he is?  Zero of four at Del Mar and Zero of 2 at the distance.

Kenjisstorm gets Bejarano up today, and Jock/Trainer Baltas are 27% winners on 30 starts at DMR,
Makes class jump from N3X/Claimers.

Abbey Vale (Ire) is a first time claim run for Trainer Doug O'Neill,  O'Neill's barn wins 20% of these in 46 claims over past year.

In consideration for Show or 4th is Up With The Birds.

At first blush I'm thinking Trifecta based on Ashleyluvssugar singled and Exacta with Ashleyluvssugar in both spots.  

$2 Trifecta:  6 OVER 1-2-3-7 OVER 1-2-3-7=$24.  Sneaking the 5 horse into SHOW brings the bet to $32

$2 Exacta:  6-1-2-3-7 BOXED= $50  too much,  Reworking 6-1-2-3 BOXED=  $40.  Still too much.

$2 Exacta:  6 OVER 1-2-3=$6

$2 Trifecta:  6 OVER 1-2-3 OVER 1-2-3-7=$18

I'm still toying with it.  Have fun and bet responsibly.  Turk out!

The Turk at 600 Posts: 21 September 2008- Present; A Study in Persistence

Dear friends, family and readers, Welcome to the Turk and the Little Turk, where today I am celebrating the 600th blog posting, dating back to 21 September 2008.

It was a different time when this blog began.Twitter and Facebook were still just starting to take hold, and whole communities of bloggers banded together by subject material, and the one I gravitated to was horse racing.

I thought I could provide free, No BS Past Performance analysis and bet structures to my readers, as well as develop some horse racing fan friendships.  I've accomplished those relatively modest goals and my only regret is declining readership and a lack of feedback in the form of comments.  There are times when I feel like I'm talking in space, inside my helmet, with no one listening.  I made a decision to blog for myself, first and foremost, and if I can grow my incredibly rapid group of core readers, so be it.  There was a moment a few years ago when I thought about hanging it up. I kept asking myself if I still enjoyed reaching 100 people per post.  After time to think about it, the answer is always yes, The Turk will endure until I no longer have anything to offer.

I've included some images that appeared in this blog over the years.  I'm proud that this blog consistently produces top shelf handicapping and not too shabby bet construction.  I'm as dedicated and excited about the next 600 posts as I was the past 600.  I'll never compete with the bigger blogs, I'll never get thousands of views per post, advertisers will never be craving space on my margins, and I'm good with all that:  I'm a hack handicapper who doesn't bedazzle anyone with fancy terminology or systems and I'm content with this blog being what it is.   The Turk blog would never have happened if it wasn't for the internet kindness of Equispace blogger and now Buffalo News Turf Writer Gene Kershner.  Blame him!

                                                  A Little Turk Halloween circa 2007

Little Turk and I:  Arlington Millions Preview Day 2007

The Turk in the IRS Cashing Lane at the Spa 2006

                     What I thought would be the last Derby Winner and the Next Derby Winner: Mine that Bird and Eskendereya

The Turk's Office:  Street Sense, Curlin, Rachael, Ruffian, Mine That Bird, Rags to Riches

A cold Breeders' Cup Day at Churchill

Lost by a Nose to John Henry

Horse Racing Friend Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds-Rest in Peace

Three Generations of Turk at the Spa 2007

A Corbin Clan gathering at Arlington 

The Turk Clan 

On a cold and rainy Preakness Saturday 2013

Pioneerof the Nile winning the Santa Anita Derby 2009

Little Turk at Arlington Million 2016

A mature Grandma Turk and Sister Turk at Fort Erie

Thanks for reading.  Expect about the same.

Turk Out!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Diana Grade 1 at Saratoga

Lady Eli- Equisport Photos
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  I'd like to start by thanking The Thorofan and the Handicapper's Corner for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today about The Diana, a Grade 1 affair run over 1 1/8 miles of the Mellon turf course at Saratoga.

Keep your eye on the scratches, changes and track condition.  With a six horse field, one scratch would be one too many.  Weather doesn't seem to be an issue at the Spa until maybe Sunday.

At Saratoga, when analyzing your Past Performances, a T in a circle represents a race run on the Mellon or outer turf course.

A T in a square box represents an inner turf event.

As with any two turf course configuration, inner turf races have very tight corners and its different racing dynamics.  Take that into account when judging cross over horses from one track to the other.  You'll also note visually why you won't see many shorter sprints on this turf course, as it's hard to configure without placing the starting gate right on the 1st corner.

Are you a Saratoga watcher, a Del Mar watcher or both or some other combination over the summer meets?  I love Saratoga even if my ROI's are lower at Saratoga than most other courses.  I lived in Saratoga during the 1986 race season and I walked to the track from my house on Jumel Place.  I could have bought the little house for $70,000 from my landlord, and it recently sold for $450,000. My ROI off the racetrack in Saratoga isn't any better!

As far as Del Mar,  I was very turned off by the former artificial surface.  It played horribly and I have yet to really come back.  It's not an East Coast/West Coast thing with me, in fact, as an East Coast Handicapper I use to play Santa Anita, Del Mar and Hollywood exclusively.   For me, I'm going to focus on Arlington Turf and Saratoga Turf and Dirt Routes, that's my summer plan.

Today's Diana is a six horse field with the mighty Lady Eli leading the way.  At $2.4 MM lifetime earnings, she towers over the rest of the field with 11 starts and 11 times in the money.  She's not unbeatable, and she will be bet hard and heavy on opening weekend,  Let's see if we can make a case against her.

Lady Eli has finished in the Win or Place spot in every race in her 11 race career.  That's multiple Grade 1 competition.  When you watch her a beaten nose in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last year, how do you take anything away from her.

She followed that race up with a long break, a Place by a head in the Jenn Wiley  and then set a career high best Beyer of 104 in Gamely.  I think if this race is run 100 times she wins 90 of the 100 races.

Gamely Stakes Grade 1:  1 1/8 Mile Hillside start on Santa Anita Firm Turf

I look at the field and I wonder where pace pressure will come from.  I'm not sure it will and she may have the lead early and hold it.  I think that's the most likely scenario and from an overlay perspective, I'd have a hard time taking a position a against her, but the tote board will make that decision for me.  There are at least two legitimate candidates to beat her in this field.

Let's take a look at Antonoe and Dickerson:

Just a Game Stakes Grade 1:  1 Mile Firm Turf at Belmont

Great trip and ride by Castellano, taking the rail when the rail opened late.  This was not some paceless fake Grade 1.  Watch the stride, watch the power.  Impressive win for Antonoe.  Trainer Chad Brown has a very impressive stable this year, and with Antonoe and Ladi Eli, he has an embarrassment of riches.  I would expect Antonoe will take one run at Lady Eli but lets not expect that sort of gift trip every race.  You have to respect the speed she showed on that late run.  I'm really floored watching that.  

Dickerson is a flawed but very talented 5 YO Medaglia d'Oro mare.  5 wins in 7 career turf starts. Three straight wins this spring, all graded stakes over routes of grass.  Not a great trip in the Just A Game, sent outside late, willingly up for Show and one more hop away from Place.  If I get 9/2 or 5-1 I'll be happy.

Jenny Wiley Grade 1:  1 1/16 Miles on Firm Turf at Keeneland

Quidora (GB) has class, but her class won't win this.  She had a nice stalking trip in the Grade 2 New York but I didn't think she really got rolling until 1 3/16ths.

New York Stakes Grade 2: 1 1/4 Miles on Firm Turf at Belmont

She's cutting back 1/8 of a mile.  Watch her here over soft turf at 1 1/16 miles in a big field at Keeneland, the Grade 3 Valley View.

My Impression hasn't really made an impression on me, and I'm more impressed with her connections than anything she's done on the track.   Training nicely and coming in off an effort at PARX on July 4th,  winless in 4 starts in 2017 for Trainer McGaughey, with Ortiz up for owner Stuart Janney III.  The trainer/jockey were 21% together last SAR meet.  5 Wins in 13 turf starts. Unless things go really upside down its hard to imagine anything but a minor Exotic prize.

I've tossed 4 Year Old Harmonize.  You can't cover everyone, but Bill Mott is a hard one to just discount.  While today's field is small, this is a classy group, including this daughter of Scat Daddy.  It's hard to believe the Florida Derby and excellent sire Scat Daddy is gone, may he rest in peace.

Antonoe-NYRA Susie Raisher
So what do we do with this?  As I write this on Thursday night, I take stock of what I know:

The Turf should be firm.

The Course should be in good shape.

A six horse field with Harmonize and My Impression long shots and not very live.

I'd expect the tote board ranking will be Lady Eli, Antonoe, Dickerson, Quidora in that order.

I'm not sure where pace will come from.  This is a pretty similar group of running style horses.  Is it as simple as Lady Eli going gate to wire?  I think that's a strong possibility.  Who will take late run and who has best late turn of foot?  I like what I've seen in a limited body of work from Antonoe.  

I'm not sure what I'm going to bet yet, but whatever I do, I'm going to keep the risk/reward quotient realistic.

Have fun friends.  Do your own handicapping and bypass the tip sheets.

Turk Out!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Post Race Recap with Video and Charts: Delaware Park Pick 3 with Delaware Handicap

Songbird- Averie Levanti
Welcome Friends to the Post Race recap edition of The Turk and the Little Turk.

The Turk sat on the sidelines today in the Race 7-8-9 Pick 3 at Delaware Park I handicapped earlier in the day. Too many scratches and no real belief that anything other than chalk in at least two of the legs would win. What did I pass on?  The $2 Pick 3 paid $21.40.  The race track investor must be choosy and I wasn't thrilled with the fields or the quality running today.  There is nothing wrong with passing and The Turk has always rejected this idea of needing some action.  I know, boring old stodgy Turk, well I'd rather be old (bald) and stodgy with a positive ROI than a riverboat gambler.

When I looked at the selections before race 7, I fully expected Eighty Three would win as a heavy chalk, I thought Frostmourne or Master Plan would win Race 8 and Songbird would win in Race 9.    I saw no value and passed.

Race 7

Race 8

Race 9

I'm really baffled why supposed race fans bash horses.  Songbird just won her 13th race in 14 lifetime starts.  I'm happy for Mr. Rick Porter and the very proud organization, Fox Hill Farms.

I don't know where Songbird stacks up in the greatest Filly ever list and quite frankly, it doesn't matter.  She's not racing Zenyatta, Rachael Alexandra, Blind Luck, Royal Delta, Flower Bowl, Bayakoa, Ruffian or Our Mims, she's racing whoever shows up.  I'm happy for her connections today, and she exits ready to battle the naysayers another day.

The Porters: Rick and Betsy

Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: The Delaware Handicap and Race 7-9 Pick Three

Songbird at Santa Anita: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Welcome friends to The Turk and The Little Turk Blog, a handicapping and horse racing blog established in 2008 on the premise of offering no BS handicapping to people who never asked for it.  It's free and it stacks up well with anything you will pay for.

Mr Rick Porter and Fox Hill Farms are the type of horse campaigners this sport needs more of.  A true sportsman in every sense of the word, Mr, Porter has brought to this game some of The Turk's favorite runners over the past 10+ years:   Harve de Grace, Hard Spun, Eight Belles, Rockport Harbor, Old Fashioned, Kodiak Kowboy and now Songbird.

How many of you rank 2011's Delaware Handicap as one of the greatest races of this decade so far:

We wish Mr. Porter the best as his long battle with cancer continues.  How many losses of true horsemen can this sport survive?  That's what the Turk worries about, but that's a deeper question for bloggers more worthy than I.

Today's edition of the Delaware Handicap doesn't contain a Blind Luck or even a Life at Ten (The Life at Ten Breeders' Cup Distaff debacle to me is still one of the great horse racing black eyes of the past decade).

I'm going to think horizontally today with a Pick 3.  I can take the contrarian position that the enormous favorite Songbird will be beaten or I can single her and try and find value in the first two legs.

Let's get after it!

The Dirt and Turf are listed as GOOD and there are no scratches  as of this morning.  The weather doesn't look to be a problem so expect upgrading in the track as the day goes on.

Race 7 is a $50,000 Stakes Race, The Hockessin, a one turn 6 furlong affair for 3 YOs and Up on the dirt.  Eighty Three is 8 of 9 on fast dirt in the money and 8 of 9 in the money at this distance.  Last raced April 13, Trainer David Jocobsen is only 9% off the 61-180 day break.  Expect the 6 YO gelded son of Harlan's Holiday out of Life's a Dance to be chalk.  The two I have my eye on are Never Gone South and Debt Ceiling.

Never Gone South enters off a 6f driving win in late June and is 6 of 7 in the money on fast dirt while Trainer Cathal Lynch is 23% stakes winner over past year on 39 tries.  Debt Ceiling, a recent claim of Kieth Nations has been working really well over past month and makes 2017 debut here.  Nations is 18% with new claims, 12% off 180 Day layoff.  Expect good price. I'm not that high on some that will be high on tote board: Always Sunshine and Chief Lion.  You have to pick your poison sometimes.

In Race 8 we have the The Kent, a Grade 3 1 1/8 mile route over grass for 3 YOs.  Trainer Christophe Clement, a 19% Turf winner on 634 starts in past year, brings in Frostmourne, the Grade 2 Penn Mile winner last time out.  This colt is rapidly improving.

Master Plan is an $850,000 March 16 OBS purchase trained by Todd Pletcher.  Classy Twirling Candy from Sage Mist (Henry Hughes).  Winner of the Delaware Park $50K Stanton, his second race back after a well beaten Show to Thunder Snow in UAE Derby and a very well beaten hand ride in his first effort back, the G3 Peter Pan in May.  Will be bet heavily and he's really a coin toss which way he goes.

I like The Tortoise: Two bullets coming into the race and a 1 Mile Allowance win on from turf here at Delaware last time out.  Lunaire shouldn't be ignored but again, you can't cover everyone.  A Malibu Moon colt, conditioned by Trainer Thomas Albertrani with Mike Smith up.     Adonis Creed beaten by Master Plan in the Stanton is a Brilliant Speed colt.  Brilliant Speed died yesterday in a freak lightning strike at Three Chimneys Farm.  Rest in Peace Brilliant Speed!

In Race 9, the Delaware Handicap it's Songbird's to lose.  Trainer Kieth Nation's has Martini Glass training well and enters off a game Place in a 100K stakes. Weep No More goes with blinkers today for Trainer George Arnold.  Winless since a Grade 1 Ashland win in 2016 from last at the top of the stretch to first at the wire.  Field size is the same and the pace maybe the same.  Songbird is better than this.

So what to do? First of all, have fun and do your own handicapping.  When it comes to bet construction, you have several ways to approach this.

I think there are 5 contenders in Race 7, 4 Contenders in Race 8 and One Contender in Race 9.  Top to bottom in base handicap is how I count those out.

A $2 PICK THREE with 5 Horses OVER 4 Horses OVER Single would cost $40. That's not value and isn't a bet worth betting.

Two basic approaches, maybe three:

  1. Single Songbird and look for value in first two legs
  2. Look for Songbird upset, but if that happens you MUST win first two legs
  3. Keep bet cost <$20 bucks and enjoy the action.

For low cost betting on this three race sequence I've settled on  either a $16 bet that envisions Songbird's Defeat or an $18 that gives me three chances in the first two legs and Songbird singled.  

I'll be watching the toteboard and won't be that emotional about which 2 or 3 I cover in Race 7 and 8. I'll use my base handicap and the tote board to find value.   

Turk Out!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Graded Stakes Race Analysis From Belmont and Arlington Park

Ghost Hunter

Welcome friends to the Post handicap review of the Turk and the Little Turk.  The Turk gave out for the Arlington Handicap one name as live and long, none other than 12-1 Ghost Hunter and $2 win bettors were rewarded with $26.  The 7 YO Ghostzapper has run very well on the AP fake dirt and won last time out over Deleware Park grass.

I was surprised that Kasaqui tracked and fired too late.  I was not surprised that Oak Brook ran so well coming off the Black Tie Affair win.  A ridiculous 20-1 Morning line that carried over to the Tote Board.

I had very limited betting today.  I passed on the Suburban.  As you'll see, with a scratch the field dropped to five and I was pretty sure Shaman Ghost would win.  I wasn't/still isn't a Keen Ice backer, but he made one hard run and it was plenty today.

The Modesty and the Arlington Handicap was a mixed bag for me.  Just focused on the slotting, the color shows I had the horses slotted appropriately in order of finish.  I did pretty good on the Modesty with a Trifecta, Exacta and a $10 Win Bet on Dona Bruja (Arg).

In the Arlington Handicap as I said previously, I was eyeing Ghost Hunter as the long shot and had a $10 win bet on him.   I gave back about half those winnings on some poorly constructed cards centered on Kasaqui and Manitoulin.

Finally at Belmont, I was turned off by a six horse Suburban and really turned off when Sunny Ridge scratched and left five.

Hindsight 20-20 I made a major betting error.  If I would have simply boxed my trifecta selections from my base handicap, a $2 bet costing $12, would have returned $96.  I left money on the table, but I was just turned off.

Finally, a few races from Belmont Park to pay attention to.

Race 10: The Belmont Derby Invitational.  3 YO 1 1/4 Miles Grass.

Race 6  The Dywer, Grade 3.  1 Mile, Dirt  3YO's

Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: The Modesty and Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park

Kasaqui:  Four Footed Fotos
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

Today is my second favorite day of the year at arguably my favorite turf track in the United States, Arlington.  What used to be called Million Preview Day is now called Road to the Million, and my primary focus is on two 1 3/16 routes over grass.  By the way, Little Turk and I will be traveling to Arlington for the Million, our second straight year, and would love to meet any readers, you know yourselves, while we are there.

Race six is the Grade 3 Modesty, for Fillies and Mares, three and up while race 9 is the grade 3 Arlington Handicap.  Don't worry about the weather.

Let's get after it!

In the Modesty, Dona Bruja is a five year old Argentinian beast.  9 of 9 in the money over turf and a solid first start in the US in the G3 Mint Julep in early June.

Time and Motion is a Grade 1 winner as a three year old who hasn't quite found her groove as a four year old, with two starts and one Show finish.  Trainer James Toner started a freshening over Belmont turf for past six weeks. 8 of 12 in the money over turf, the Tapit daughter looks to get going in advance of Million day. Hard not to like the gutty and game Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup effort from last October.

Darling Duchess cuts back from 1 1/2 miles today where she won last time out in late May.  2 wins in six starts at this distance.  Speed is an issue.

Prado's Sweet Ride tracked along evenly in the AP Matt Spellman at 1 1/16 miles over yielding turf a month ago.  As the chalk he finished in Show.  The 5 YO goes for Trainer Chris Block, winless in past 12 stake races.

Storming Elle and One Liz round out my potential exotics.  I tossed La Piba and Bonita Cat.  

Darling Duchess will be on the lead and should bring the speed.  I would expect only Dona Bruja and Time and Motion to make serious late runs.  The bet can be as simple as 1 and 3 Over the 1 and 3 Over some combination of horses, or maybe even the 1 Over 3 Over Field.  I'll stew on it and you do too!

The Arlington Handicap is a very nice field of fairly even quality with a few class standouts.  I could go into a major rant about why Arlington can't have more racing days like this, with more fields like this, but I'll sound like a broken record.  Industry insider Ray Paulick has done a better job than I could possibly explaining the situation.

From a Paulick Report in May, "...The racing industry has been trying to get some type of legislative relief since 1991, when riverboat casinos were first approved. It's been stymied repeatedly, and the damage done to the breeding and racing industry is immense. Revenue to the tracks and purses for horse owners has cratered. Horsemen are getting out of the business or moving their stables and breeding stock to neighboring states, all of which offer more substantial purses. Illinois racing has become a shell of its former self.

Slots might have been the answer 10 or 20 years ago, when the competition came from 10 casinos scattered throughout Illinois, and several others were poised just across the Indiana state line adjacent to Chicago's South Side. One of those gambling parlors, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, is only 11 miles from Arlington Park in Chicago's northwest suburbs. Illinois casinos offer a full range of table games – blackjack, roulette, craps et al – to go with slot machines.
More recently, Illinois legislators moved to add electronic games to virtually every tavern and bar in the state. The 2009 law – approved by jailed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – took several years to clear legal hurdles, but it is now in full effect, with tens of thousands of devices at bars, truck stops and fraternal organizations.
Slot machines are no longer unique (May 29, 2017)."
There is still hope regarding bill SB7, but Illinois is such a messed up state, I'm not sure if I'm prepared to have any faith or hope that Arlington can be saved,  I love that track and its a horrible shame what has become of the Illinois racing scene. 
Anyway, Illinois racing is not dead yet, at least for another day.  Turk favorite, Kasaqui (Arg)  looks to be in fine form winning the Wise Dan G2 at CD on June 17.                        

He has a tendency to take Place (10 in 26 starts) but I'm really impressed by this 7 YO.  

Perhaps a contrarian view, I like Manitoulin here.  Comes in off career best 97 Beyer  in a 1 1/8 Turf carrying 122 (He'll be 10 pounds lighter than Kasaqui at 114 today).  Second time out as a gelding (poor fella).  

Sir Dudley Digges is a very classy Ramsey owned Gio Ponti Ontario bred trained by Michael Maker with Leparoux up.  These two combine for 23% wins in past year on 196 mounts.  Winner in N3x $80K OC last time out and will be closer to the pace than Kasaqui at the top of the stretch.  

In the one spot is Taghleeb, another Maker conditioned horse, a 6 YO Hard Spun bred by Shadwell. 

Oak Brook is an up down 5 YO gelded Giant's causeway son that has been claimed repeatedly and is currently in Brian Williamson's barn (8% graded stakes, 10% turf wins, 10% routes). 9 Win-Place results in 19 lifetime races.  Took the Black Tie Affair at Arlington at 16-1 last month on yielding turf. Will be on the pace.  

Ghost Hunter is live and long.  6 Win-Place finishes in 9 turf starts.  Trainer Jamie Ness stepping up big time in Class and Competition.  Has had sucess over the fake dirt, winning G3 Hashin a 1 Mile here at AP in May.  Won last start, 1 1/8 over firm turf at Delaware Park in mid June.  

Applicator I have rated lower than I expect he will be on the tote board at post time.  I look at running lines:  Weakened Late a 1 1/4 in G1 Manhattan, No Factor, No Factor, tired, Walked Off, Weakened, faltered.  I may be too harsh here.  Watch the Manhattan video.  I don't see the horse that earned those running lines.  

Applicator did not belong in the class for breeder/trainer Mikhail Yanakov but really ran well until being eased at 1/16 pole.  Class drop, distance drop.  I'll be watching him on the tote board.  

I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing in the Arlington Handicap.  Whatever you do, do your own handicapping and bet responsibly.  

Turk out!

Paulick, Ray.  May 29, 2017.  "View from the 1/8th pole:  Time is Running Out on Illinois Racing." Retrieved from

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The G2 Suburban at Belmont

Follow Me Crev: Santa Anita 

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

If you told me Follow Me Crev, the five year old son of Quality Road, was racing in a six horse field, I would say of course, it's the state of racing at Santa Anita.

What's really disappointing is that this isn't Santa Anita, it's Belmont, and he goes against Shaman Ghost and maybe two more legitimate threats in the Grade 2 Suburban.

Today was a messy day at Belmont weather wise.  The track is listed as Fast at the end of day Friday.  Pay attention to the Scratches and Changes and Track Condition Page, as you always should, prior to betting.  The weather is supposed to be dry out after the rains end around midnight on Friday.

Let's get after it!

Let's take a closer look at some of these runners:

Pimlico Special G3  1 3/16 Miles Fast Dirt.  Watershed and Shaman Ghost

 Charlestown Classic G2 1 1/8 Sloppy Dirt.  Matt King Coal and Sunny Ridge.

Santa Anita Handicap G1  1 1/4 Miles Fast Dirt.  Shaman Ghost and Follow Me Crev. 

Santa Anita Gold Cup G1  1 1/4 Miles on Fast Dirt.  Follow Me Crev (watch last 1/8 mile)

I'm really not sure what I want to do with this race.  I don't think it's a stretch to say Shaman Ghost is the best of the bunch.  10 of 12 in the money on fast dirt.  A field top Beyer of 112.  Consistent, solid efforts, typically comes late, with a physical charge in final 16th.  Game.  Driving. Flat Out.

Shaman Ghost will be heavily bet.  My only interest in this race is to either beat him or single him on top of exacta with value below. Value is relative for most of these runners, so unless I make the case for Sunny Ridge or Watershed in Place, what am I doing?

Can Follow Me Crev, Keen Ice or Matt King Coal win?  Of course they can.

Keen Ice is first back after trip to Dubai.  It's an angle I don't love.  Training sharply for six weeks now for Trainer Pletcher.  Winless in last 10 races, 2 wins in 21 starts, 1 win in seven starts at classic distance.  Ugh.  I'm not a fan of this horse at all.

Matt King Coal comes in off win and career high 102 Beyer on a fast Penn National dirt route in early June.  4 of 4 in the money in 2017 for the 4 year old son of Cool Coal Man, a Florida Bred trained by Linda Rice with Ortiz, up. Lone Speed and a front running style.  He could steal the race.

Follow Me Crev leaves California for the first time for Trainer Vlad Cerin.  He'll be coming very late with Shaman Ghost.  Loses the class battle to Shaman Ghost but with right trip its possible.

I'm thinking Shaman Ghost late but I'm going to try Matt King Coal and/or Follow Me Crev over Shaman Ghost in an exacta.  That sounds conservative and blah.

I may  box Matt King Coal, Follow Me Krev, Sunny Ridge and Keen Ice in an exacta and freeze out Shaman Ghost for a high reward/low risk betting possibility.

If I play it, and that's still a big if, it will be purely hunting for value, which means Shaman Ghost having an off day.  Sounds like a bad bet.

Turk out!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Post Race Results: The Dr. James Penny G3 at Parx

Dr. Penny G3 at PARX

Boom goes the dynamite. The Turk doesn't brag, there is no bravado in my tweets or posts. The Turk doesn't profit in anyway from the blog. I do this because I'm a long time handicapper who works a high pressure job and this is my golf, my Suduko, my Farmville, my "...whatever get's you through the night."

I had no expectations for today's race. I handicapped it, I bet it and wow: Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta. Check Check Check. I almost didn't bet it with two scratches, but I was all dressed up and ready to go and I did it.

The Turk is off for a well earned cigar.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Dr. James Penny Memorial G3 at PARX

Fourstar Crook: NYRA Twitter Photo

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog. Happy 4th of July to my American readers.

The Turk is a proud American veteran, the son and grandson of soldiers, and my message today to all my fellow Americans is to remember that we live in the greatest County the World has ever known, the most generous Nation the World has ever known, and the most loyal Nation our allies have ever known.

It's trendy to say "...I wish we were more like [fill in the blank but mostly I hear from fan boys of our Northern Neighbors]"  but the Turk ain't buying any of that and I strongly urge all the America haters to keep on hating but at least remember that being allowed to hate is  a freedom you enjoy only because it was protected by the blood of patriots.  Instead of hating, why don't you consider returning to the middle, where compromise and fairness resides.

I must admit, I almost never play PARX.  I was interested more as a horse fan as the New York bred Fourstar Crook (above) leaves the Empire State for the first time and tries to keep a seven race win streak alive.

It appears right now that it could rain in the hours before and during the race.  Keep your eyes on the Scratches and Changes and Track Condition as it gets closer to post.  I don't anticipate changing my thinking much either way.

Let's get after it!

Trainer Chad Brown (23% Turf, 24% Routes, 20% Graded Stakes, 26% Won Last Start) has Joe Bravo up on Fourstar Crook.  The 5 YO Mare will be heavily bet but I like the chalk.  Steady speed improvement over past yeara and she's stretching out another 1/16 today to a distance she has 4 wins in 5 starts at.

Thinking contrarian, I like Light Up Our World (Ire) to have odds somewhere between 5-1 and 8-1 at Post Time.  Trainer Arnuad Delacour is a 40% winner with first time Lasix, 24% Turf, 26% Routes and 23% Graded Stakes.  Flying under the radar?

Cambodia is a 5 YO War Front mare who comes in off G3 Galorett win on Preakness Day.

She had a great trip and I don't think she'll have such an easy early go in this race.  More impressive was the bad trip and late turn of foot by Elysea's World (Ire).  7 of 10 in the money over turf, the race's biggest Tomlinson on grass (443) and the highest Beyer (99).  Brown's got three in this race.

In the Eatontown Park G3 on June 3, Light in Paris (Ire) had a good trip, made a nice late move, but eased up and was taken very late. Tin Type Gal wasn't much of a factor and is tossed here today.

My Impression is an interesting 4 YO, trained by McGaughey (19% Turf, 20% Routes, 13% Graded Stakes but 26% off a 2nd off 45-180 day break).  Sharp work over Belmont grass at 4f on 26 June.  Cutting back in distance.  4 Wins in 7 starts at the distance.  Lots to like at what should be a good price.

I've tossed four, with Gone Away the only one I think of note.  Trainer Michael Matz (5% graded stakes, 14% turf and routes) had the 4 year old run :36 2/5ths at 3f on 1 July and she is in off a win  at Laurel where she powered away in a N2X 25K OC.  Stepping up.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.  I'm thinking I'll hunt for exacta with a few combinations and try to eek a few bucks out of it.  I may single 10 OVER 6-1-2-3-8-9, a $2 bet for $12 and then play around with 8-6 OVER 8-6-10-2-3, a $2 Bet for $20.

Whatever you do, handicap your own race and bet responsibly.

Happy 4th of July!

Turk Out!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Post Race Results: The United Nations at Monmouth

The Turk don't brag or self promote.  I've been handicapping for well over 25 years and I can pick winners. The first step before you even try to assemble the exotic bets that I do is learn to place horses in expected ranges of finish.  In a nine horse field, can you get the horses into a Top, Middle and Bottom three to start?  Can you identify solid singles?

The Turk looked at post time 10/1 Bigger Picture (4-1 ML) and saw real value.  Joe Bravo up, big plus.  Trainer Maker 20% on 887 turf races, big plus.  Solid training and a cut back in distance.  A value pick, and contrarian to post time 7/5 Beach Patrol who I like, but hey, this isn't Curlin or even the Lemon Drop Kid. 

Value pick.  No pink sheets.  No fees.  Handicapping and Bet analysis for people who never asked for it!

The Turk cashed tickets on the exacta and trifecta.  Good way to start the second half of the race season.

Turk Out!

The Nomination Is In: The United Nations at Monmouth

Beach Patrol: Photo Lane's End
Welcome friends to The Turk and The Little Turk blog.

The Turk loves a good head scratcher.  That's what today' United Nations over the grass is to me:  A quality nine horse field, with the turf listed as firm but heavy rains predicted over the next several hours.  The field is still intact but keep your eyes on the track conditions and scratches and changes.

I picked Beach Patrol for my highlighted equine today, but I'm betting against him.  His last win was a gutty effort six races back at Arlington and he's the only Grade 1 winner here, but I'm expecting he'll be heavily bet so I'm thinking contrarian and will fit him into Place and Show.

I'll save my crazy, rapid readers a rambling diatribe and just get after it.

Chad Brown's barn is 23% over the turf, 24% routes and 20% graded stakes, all race highs.  Beach Patrol is 10 of 13 in the money over turf.  I'm shading out of the Win Spot to my own peril.

I'm considering any of three for Win.  Bigger Picture, trained by Michael Maker, with Bravo Up, has two wins at the distance.  The gelded six year old should be in the top 5.

Messi (Ger) has been training sharply for Graham Motion and the seven year old will have a nice price.  Better suited in Show-Exotic spot.

Can'thebelieving (Ire) it's Motion's other entry.  The six year old gelding put a good effort up over Monmouth turf in June and is also training sharp.  Better suited in Place-Exotic.

Itsinthepost (Fr) is 4 of 5 in the money in 2017 and he should put up a solid effort regardless of turf condition.  I like him to Win through Exotic, top 4.

Oscar Nominated is a four year old Kitten's Joy colt running for Michael Maker.  He's a bit slower than the rest of the field but is my only remaining candidate for the top 4.

That's six horses being considered for top four slots.  I'm not going to overthink this one too much.

Beach Patrol should set the pace.  I'm looking for Itsinthepost to rally for the Win as most likely scenario.  My base handicap is a rare deviation for me and I didn't base handicap and instead built a possible exotic bet structure.  I may keep it simple and put 3-5-7 OVER 2-1, a $2 bet for $12.

My trifecta may be 2 OVER 1-3-5-7 OVER 1-3-5-7-8, a $2 bet for $32.   Whatever I do today, I'm not over covering and I'm prepared to lose for a reasonable chance at least double the return if I win.

What ever you do, handicap yourself and bet responsibly.

Turk Out!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Arlington Park Black Tie Affair Handicap Day Late Pick 3

The Pizza Man: Photo by Benoit
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  I've reached the point in the racing season where I want to handicap the older horses, mostly over turf or routes over dirt.  I like the older horses, and the information that flows from their past performances.

Today I'm focusing on Arlington Park, a backwater in horse racing because of Local/State politics and the inability to field quality races with meaningful purses. It's a beautiful track, and the lush blue-green grass is everything that's right with the game.  Even it's fake dirt plays very fair.

The rhythm of Arlington isn't complicated.  You can work backwards from The Arlington Million in mid August, to Arlington Million Preview Day in Mid July and finally to Saturdays like this in June.  I like to handicap these $50,000 minor stakes in June because it gives me a feel for the horses that will round out those fields of Euro invaders and top turf horses that will ship in for the big days.  I'm not saying you need to play these days to have good handicapping days when Grade 1 racing returns but I'm saying it helps me get a feel for the track and the locals.

I'm only a bit interested in these races. I'd like to see the fields a bit bigger and the class a bit more even.  My goal is again to get a feel for the local trainers, these local horses, and to make some intelligent handicap/bet combos.  I'm a good Pick 3 handicapper, but I tend to cover too many horses in the bet selection, taking value away.  I typically only play Pick 3's if I feel like I can find value with 2 legs of the race boasting my chalk that are 3rd or lower on the tote board.  I sense this series will be chalky but let's get after it anyways!

The first two races are over turf at 1 1/16 miles.  Today the Turf was upgraded to good.  With more rain in the forecast, it's hard to say right now what the track condition will be at post time.

The Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap is for F&M, 3 YO and Up.  I have three horses that I think can take the wire:  Lovely Loyree/5, last year's winner Stormin Elle/4 and Prado's Sweet Ride/2. The class of the race without a doubt is Lovely Loyree: 10 of 10 at the distance in the money and 14 of 14 in the money over turf, as well as 5 of 5 in the money at AP.  Trainer Michele Boyce is 16% with horses off a 180+ day break and that's what she's facing here.  I question if the goal is to win this race or have a good workout.  I'd feel comfortable backing any of the three but when forced to choose I may just take the 4-2 into the Pick 3.

In race 8, the Black Tie Affair Handicap, we have the season debut of handicap division star The Pizza Man/3.  I'm going to assume he p;icks up where he left off, a mid to upper 90+ Beyer and the soft grass won't bother him at all.  Trainer Chris Block's Cammack/1 will be a strong competitor as well coming late.  3 straight wins and low 90+ Beyers.  Super Soldier/2 comes in off a OC 35K win at 1 Mile at AP on a troubled trip where he closed rapidly in last 1/16.

In race 9, an OC 50K/N2X, I'm high on Cash Bonus/7 and Western Elegance/6. Both are steady performers.

I don't plan on overthinking this too much.  I'll be watching the tote and the weather conditions as well as scratches and changes from the Arlington Park website.  I'll be assembling a Pick 3 bet that I suspect will be a bit chalky.  I intend to cover 2-4 OVER 1-2 OVER 7-6-1-3.  A $2 bet would cost $32.  Going to 2-4 OVER 1-2 OVER 7-6 on a $2 bet would cost $16.  That's the sort of risk/reward bet that offers value.  Covering Lovely Loyree and Pizza Man may feel good as a race fan, but I suspect they will be heavily bet and I'm suspicious of the trainer expectations tomorrow.

Have fun with it.  Turk Out!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 2 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs

Defending Champ Pleuven: Photo by Wendy Wooley/Equisport Photos
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog and this week's challenge, The Wise Dan, a Grade 2 affair over a route of grass at Churchill Downs.

Churchill Downs racing under the lights, especially when I can watch live, is something I find very enjoyable as a fan.  It's late enough where the sun is setting, I can unwind with an adult beverage, perhaps a cigar, and bet the ponies without giving up a beautiful afternoon day.  When you live in the Northern snow belt, each weekend when the temperature is above 70 degrees is treated like a perishable commodity and I don't have too many I can just give away to this sport, with its small fields, high takeout and lack of star talent.  I'm a fan but this sport doesn't make it easy at all.

This race, at 1 1/16 miles on Stephen Foster Handicap day, has eight horses in it, average age 5.6 years old, with the top money earning, Blofeld, going over grass for the first time in his 5 years.  We do have last year's edition Champion, Pleuven (FR) as well as Place and the Show horse from last year, Thatcher Street and Kasaqui (Arg), yes Kasaqui that gave the great Mondaliste everything he could handle in the Arlington Million.

Let's get after this!

I could make this blog post really short and just say the same finish from the 2016 edition but I don't think I'd be that wrong either.

Pleuven (Fr) is a six year old gelding, trained by Phillip Sims with Lanerie up.  4 of 4 in the money over CD turf, 5 of 6 in the money at the distance and 14 of 18 lifetime in the money over grass.  He'll run just off the pace most likely and close late.

Thatcher Street is another local who will go late with one run.  The six year old gelded son of Kentucky Derby Winner Street Sense, has Leparoux up for Trainer Ian Wilkes.  7 of 8 in the money at the distance, 15 of 18 lifetime in the money over grass and 8 of 8 lifetime in the money over CD grass.

Kasaqui (Arg) also has a late turn of foot.  The 7 YO comes in off a nice effort in the Turf Classic with a very nice late move that fell short.  He's a threat to win the race and at 6-1 or better he offers great value.

Chocolate Ride is a 7 Yo gelded son of the great sire Candy Ride (Arg). 4 wins in 7 starts at the distance and 9 wins in 18 starts over grass.  Trainer Brad Cox wins 31% of the time on Won Last Start and he's 33% over Turf.  He should be the pace with Security Risk.

Security Risk,  a 5 YO War Front, trained by Shug McGaughey and with John Velazquez up, is a steady, front of the pack style horse.  He will have a lot of closers after him and Chocolate Ride as they try to steal the race from the front.  It happens, but i'm thinking not this race.

I'm tossing Bondurant, Conquest Panthera and Blofeld at my own peril.  Bondurant isn't a bad play, but he's winless in 2017, winless at the distance, and I'm not sure how sharp he is.  Blofeld tries dirt for the first time.  Trainer George Arnold is 7% on First Time Turf.  I love a Quality Road son but I'm passing.  Conquest Panthera should be better than the 5 YO gelding is.  Trained by Mark Casse for The Ramsey's.

I'm not going to overthink this too much.  I'll be playing a card with 7-3 OVER 7-3-4-5-1 OVER 7-3-4-5-1.  A $2 Tri would cost $48.    A variation would be 7 OVER 3-4-5-1 OVER 3-4-5-, a $24 investment.

Whatever you do, bet responsibly and have fun.  Turk Out!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The All Grade 1 Pick 3 (race 9-10-11) at Belmont Park

Spectacular, Spectacular!  Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now in our 9th year.  We specialize in old school handicapping based on a derivative of the style Tom Ainsile, Brad Free and Steve Davidowitz.  Old School: Class, Pace, Conditions, Tactical Speed.

I love the big days.  I get excited at seeing the best in the sport race on the same day, and in our declining sport, these days are fewer and fewer and less and less spectacular.  This isn't the blog that analyzes ways to improve the sport.  If you unfortunately wandered into this blog all you can expect is no BS, no bravado, free opinions that will reward you  the opportunity to turn big piles of cash into slightly smaller piles of cash more often then not.  That's the game, its stacked mostly against players.  Be diligent, be smart, bet and handicap with consistency and with time, skill and luck, you'll scratch out a break even or positive ROI, return on investment.  It's very cool if you just like to drop a few bets every year with friends.  In that case, ignore me, and my picks are in the chart below.  If you're a horse player more than a few times a year, work at your craft, study the losses as much as you study the wins, bet responsibly and have fun.

The Belmont isn't a race I particularly like to handicap, with it's extra quarter mile and long straight, it's been a bit of a graveyard for me.  When I stepped back after handicapping, I thought I'd share my all Grade 1 Pick 3 (Race 9-10-11) with you instead of trying to read the tea leaves on a race 11 exotic.

Multi Race betting is a great way to think about the card horizontally , with less of a focus on single race vertical slotting.  As an exotic player, I can typically roll through a card pretty quickly if I'm just identifying exacta possibilities, and that's how I approach multi race horizontal bets, just as a series of exacta's.  How many you cover, taking a strong view and singling,  and how much value you can find, is always the key.

Let's get after this!

Race 9-10-11;  First Post 4:41 ET

In Race 9 we have the Grade 1 Met Mile.  I'm still not sure I'm happy the race moved from Memorial Day, but again, this isn't the sort of blog that has much credibility with such topics, you can find all sorts of haughty, elitist opinions if you try harder.

I have 5 horses in my Exacta possibles, with two covers for the Pick 3.  I don't think I'm really offering value as I suspect both Sharp Azteca and Mor Spirit will both be bet hard.  Rally Cry, a Pletcher/Velazquez Up  combo, is 3 of 3 in the money at the distance and BEL and the 4 YO Uncle Mo colt will be 3rd or 4th on the Tote Board.  Economic Model/7 goes Blinkers off, something Trainer Chad Brown has mixed sucess with at 17%, but its his second effort off a long layoff and Brown is 28% on that angle and he's a hot 30% on dirt.  Mark Casse's Awesome Slew will also be 4-6 on the tote board and has a fantastic late burst, on display in his last two races at 7f.

In Race 10, we have one of the premier turf races of the year, The G1 Manhattan. I also am covering horses here that should be bet heavily.  Beach Patrol, winner of G1 Secretariat on Arlington Million Day 2016, is a front runner less of a late turn of footer and I typically prefer the latter to the former over a route of grass.  Time Test (GB) has monster numbers and Chad Brown's Juddmonte invader may be setting up for a big summer.  This may be the race he steps forward and joins his barn's plans.  Leparoux's choice of mounts, World Approval, a beauty of a 5 YO Northern Afleet, must be respected.  Three horses I think represent opportunity and value: Potemkin (Ger), on Lasix for first time, and Divisidero, both have great late moves.  I'm not covering and may regret it, Sadler's Joy from the 9 spot.

In Race 11, The G1 Belmont Stakes, The Turk looks at Tapwrit and can't help but think, why not? He came late in the Kentucky Derby, Late in the Blue Grass, Late in Tampa Bay Derby and SF Davis.  He'll have a long straight and targets to aim for.  Pletcher's Graded Stakes over past year down to 17%.  Looking at Lee and Irish War Cry are obvious choices but not very wiseguy of me.  Solid is still solid, don't buy into that feeling you have have to be wiseguy-ish.  This is the sort of race where there are a lot of similar runners so don't be shocked by the winner, no matter what the price.

So what to do?  Have fun with it.  Find some value on the toteboard with what I suggested here or with your own handicapping.  I'm not sure what I'll do:  I may try to single one of these races  and cover a few more Belmont Stakes runners.  I'll pay a few exactas working off my base handicap and the toteboard, not getting sentimental about the names or the human connections but thinking of value propositions only.  I'd rather gamble $20 with a 10% chance of winning >$100 then gamble $36 with a 45% chance of winning $50.  The numbers may be skewed but you get the idea.

Turk out!