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!