Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Nomination Is In: The Dueling Grounds Derby $750K

     Welcome Friends to The Turk and Little Turk Blog, with a narrow focus on handicapping, primarily older turf runners, since 2008.  In those years we have written over 680 blog posts and given bet suggestions on almost all of them.  Our most recent handicap of the Pacific Classic gave a $2 Exacta Bet for $20 that returned $93.20.  Past results are not an  indication of future, but over a long period of time this blog has offered bet constructions and documented the success.  While its terribly difficult to eek out positive ROI race after race, I have proven that focusing on a small group of races and really analyzing in depth can allow me to make good race track investments. My objectives: Relaxation, small profits and sharing my insights with my small but passionate reader base. 

Kentucky Downs is one of my favorite tracks, and with the unsettled future of Arlington Race Track, is easily my favorite turf course in the United States.  Tomorrow marks the first of six days of live racing of this boutique meet and I hope to play at least one race every day.  Let's get after the Dueling Ground Derby $750K.  



Saratoga Derby  Invitational G1: 7 Aug 21; 1 3/16 Firm Turf:  Yes This Time, Palazzi, Cellist, De Jour




Dueling Grounds Derby 2018-  Posted just for reference.  10 Starters





This is a race of potential, as three year old turf horses are generally an evolution.  For that reason I typically avoid three year old turf races because of the uncertainty, but I say that and uncertainty, big fields and plenty of handle can produce the type of fun that makes me look forward to the Kentucky Downs boutique meet every year.  

The handicap above is what I call my Base Handicap.  You can see in the ML Column the Morning Line represented in decimal form.  26% above 100% is not a mistake, that is what drives the administrative costs associated with racing.  At some tracks this number has drifted above 130%.  This represents a real challenge for the horseplayer to overcome and another reason why betting tote board favorites is a bad idea.  

I actually don't have a lot of respect for the Morning Line.  I respect and know some of the people whose name is associated with these tracks for DRF, and they are just overworked.  They don't have the two hours per race I'll often dedicate to analysis.  That said, I like to show them just to get a feel for how Joe Public Bettor is going to start off looking at this race.  One that pops out to me is how undervalued Red Hornet is by the ML compared to my analysis.  The Fair Line takes the odds back to 100% and places win odds on the field.  My fair line will have many more 50-1, 2% or longer odds on the field than a morning line will because I don't have the 26% to deal with.  As you can see, I've assigned an 84% chance one of the top five horses in my base handicap will win the race.  While I don't typically place Win Bets, Modern Science (Ire) and Last Samurai have a 10% chance of winning, and with unpredictability in the trips these horses might face, would be worth a $2 win bet at odds provided the public doesn't over bet them.  This is a form of Tote Board Handicapping I encourage in these large fields without dominant top contenders, just pick some prices off the board that your Fair Odds Line tell you have value.  

What am I going to do with this?

My indecisive $1 Exacta is 3-5-8-9-12 OVER 3-4-5-8-9-11-12 for $30 could still produce a 20% return, the low end of my investment strategy threshold.  I need to be a bit more adventurous and not be so worried about losing and instead give myself an opportunity for a solid +50% ROI. 

With one removal the bet drops to $20.  I'm going to pull De Jour down.  Why the ML and Turk Line chalk?  He is starting in post 12 and his late speed hasn't been great.  I'm going to assume he gets gobbled up.  I like the value my $20 Bet represents even if its likely to lose.

I don't know what the track conditions will be like as it most likely will start raining as the day goes on.  I wouldn't change anything with my choice either way.  

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Nomination Is In: The Pacific Classic G1 at Del Mar

Express Train:  Photo by Benoit

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog, now in our 14 year of providing handicapping and analysis.  I'd like to thank the good people of The Thorofan for giving me an opportunity to handicap the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. 

On a personal level, Del Mar was the last track I visited before the pandemic.  I was there for the Pacific Classic in 2019.  My handicapping, and my love of horse racing, was hit hard last year by the pandemic and the impact it had on the schedule, the field sizes, and life in general.  Don't take my lack of blogging to mean I'm not interested in horse racing anymore, I just was struggling to write about races I wasn't that interested in.  I've rekindled my passion for racing this summer and I've been handicapping quite a bit as I start to prepare for my favorite meet, Kentucky Downs, and getting ready for Breeders' Cup.  I'm not sure if I'll ever get back to writing 50-75 blog posts per year, but no matter how many it is, without a love for racing there can't be any.  

Anyways, lets get after this!


   

There is quantity, but not real quality in this year's edition of the Pacific Classic.  Let's take a look at some recent Video just to get a feel for the runners.  My main goal of looking at video is to provide context to the past performance running lines.  I look for trips, I gage if rank, game, dueled, outbid, dug in.  Those are the buzzwords you'll see in the race charts and I like to confirm with my own eyes or identify possible bias in the analysis.  You have to remember how many races the "experts" have to review and write notes on, and professional handicappers and racing journalists, how many races they have write about, people get lazy, or better yet, sloppy.  If you are going to find overlays, and just as importantly, underlays, you have to look at the information, and video trip handicapping is the compendium to race charts.  Can we find value?



  The San Diego Handicap G2; 17 July 2021; 1 1/16 Miles Fast Dirt Del Mar
Key Prep: Exiting are Express Train (W), Royal Ship (S), Tripoli (P), Magic on Tap (5), Sherriff Brown (7) 


 


The Cougar II G3; 18 July 2021; 1 1/2 Miles Fast Dirt Del Mar
Exiting: Tizmagician (1), Cupid's Claws (2) 

 

  The Monmouth Cup G3; 17 July 2021; 1 1/8 miles Fast Dirt Monmouth
Exiting: Dr. Post (1)

 

The Santa Anita Handicap
G1; 6 March 2021; 1 1/4 Miles Fast Dirt Santa Anita
Contested: Express Train (2), Tizmagician (5), Independence Hall (4), 

 

The Gold Cup G1; 31 May 2021; 1 1/4 Miles Fast Dirt Santa Anita
Contesting: Express Train (3), Royal Ship (2 Hd)




I can't help but favor Express Train based on the San Diego Handicap.  The field was bunched and he just showed class when pressed by Royal Ship and Tripoli.  Trainer Shirreff's runner has trained well since then and appears to be in excellent form.  9 of 10 in the money on fast dirt, his last seven outings are all consistent G1/G2 efforts, and 4 of 4 in the money at Del Mar.  Solid.  

Royal Ship (BRZ) is a 5 YO Mandella trainee. No wins and only one try at the distance (The Hollywood Gold Cup) but he looked solid in that outing.  No wins in 2 tries at Del Mar.  Perfectly capable of winning. 

Tripoli  is only making 3rd dirt start after 11 turf races from the Kitten's Joy  4 YO.  He really went at Express Train in the San Diego Handicap but before that was a $60-70K ALW/OC contestant for 10 races or so.  Sadler is showing confidence, I'm not sure I should be based on race charts.  

Tizmagician is cutting back from Marathon distances.  Nice effort in the Cougar II but it's a different  tempo. Mandella/Pratt 28% winners on 29 tries at Del Mar and 36% Winners in rolling year in 90 starts.  11 of 16 in the money on fast dirt.

Dr. Post is a 4 YO Quality Road, and friends of the Turk know that Quality Road is one of my favorite horses of past 15 years.  I try to set that bias aside.  Dr. Post got a great trip in Monmouth Cup and he flashed serious speed.  Pletcher doesn't ship west without a strong belief.  First attempt at Classic Distance, First at Del Mar, if there is an upset candidate I like the speed he's going to have to target.   

Magic on Tap is slow, inconsistent.  Training very sharp at 5F, last win at 7F. If not for Baffert's name I'm not sure I give him much thought.  I  just don't see he deserves a look in my Exacta but he could be early speed. 

I'm tossing Independence Hall (ML 5-1) Cupid's Claw and Sheriff BrownIndependence Hall is just uneven.  Perhaps the Blinkers (29% On/23% First Time) may help.  Trainer McCarthy 16% on 61 starts 61-180 day layoff and J/T Combo looking for first win in 4 tries.  

I'm not thrilled at the betting prospects on this race as much as I am looking forward to seeing who steps up from this group.  There are too few stars currently and a Pacific Classic win will make many of these horses a millionaire, which this race has none of.  

I'm going to assemble an Exacta long on risk and big on reward.  I'm going to put Tripoli/Dr. Post above Express Train, Royal Ship, Tizmagician and Magic on Top:  1-3 OVER 5-4-2-6 (1-3), a $2 bet for $16 or a $20 bet if I box 1-3.  

The reality is Express Train should roll, Royal Ship should roll, but that's handicapping.  In bet construction you have to say what if, you have to be willing to see the possibilities, and above all else, don't try to be too safe.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!  


Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita

Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk blog, now in our fourteenth year of writing handicaps. The Turk would like to thank the good people at The Thorfan for the opportunity to bring my thoughts to you. The Turk took a break from racing when the pandemic came, and I'm only coming out of it now to focus on the sumnmer and fall turf racing circuit. When something doesn't make you happy anymore, you need to let it go. I'm not sure that the races make me happy anymore. I love the horses, I love the sport, the humans and the business of horse racing I have a deep dislike of. The situation surrounding Arlington Race Track, my favorite North American turf venue, and the pathetic state of Illinois racing, put me in a very sour mood. If there is a future for me to stay in this sport, I have to get past the heartbreak that the demolition of Hollywood Park, and potentially Arlington, would bring to me. I'm trying.
The Santa Anita Turf Chute is at least one new innovative idea that I can get behind in racing. The Chute gives a beautiful sweeping downhill 6 1/2 furlongs before crossing the dirt and opening up to longer distances. Today's handicap, the marathon 1 3/4 mile Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano gives us the full downhill and the full turf oval. The only downside to me is field size, with only six scheduled to go in Saturday's 11th and final race of the day, a 9:29 ET start. No amount of innovation can cover up the smaller field sizes that takes away upside in turf race investing. Anyways, I've attached a link to an article that lays out how the betting has gone on the chute through asmall sampole size. Lets get after this! Generally I'd post recent race video of the horses competing against each other at relevant distances. This is such an odd ball, and the longer chute is so new, I'm not going to bother. My handicap also didn't identify overlays as compared to the track handicapper or what I suspect the public and the tote board will assign as fair odds. So, what to do with this? Quite frankly, I'd pass on betting this race. I don't believe in action betting which is the equivelant of playing squares on the Big Game or Bingo. If I absolutly wanted to play it, and the purpose of this blog is to play the ponies, then I would clearly define my bet limit and I'd look at some interesting angle. That's the downside of the small field: Where would an interesting angle come from? Acclimate is 35.7% win odds Ward n' Jerry and Red King 28.6% each: 92.9% of the morning line odds of 129% (takeout/breakage/yada yada) 72% of the win potential is in these three. In my fair odds, it's 70 of 100%. The reality is some combination of these three in a boxed exacta is the most likely winning ticket, but a $2 dollar, 3 horse exacta box is $12, and the take would harly justify the risk. I'm instead going to put 3 over Acclimate, a $2 dollar Bet for $6 investment: Astronaut, Pilar Mountain (Ire) or Lure Him In over Acclimate. I'd rather lose $6 in this case than be conservative and have a poor risk-reward proposition. Have fun with it friends! Turk Out

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Post Race Results for Fourstardave and the 52 Bets in 52 Weeks challenge resumes

 

It's the age old saying, is it better to be lucky or skilled?  In my experience at the track, skill gets you break even and luck brings you an ROI with boasting about.

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog.  We started 2020 with the intention of blogging every week and having a 52 Bets in 52 Weeks series of posts.  We made it to the end of February before, in this order, my father in law died, the quarantine started and life came to halt, and my father died.  When horse racing did return, and when I came out of the fog I was in personally, the world was seen differently by me.  

The lack of fans at the track doesn't bother me, but the rhythm of the racing season is ajar.  Coupled with a sense of my own mortality, I wasn't sure if this blog, started in a different time and different place, September 2008, was worth continuing.  

The reality is that almost no one reads it anymore.  My traffic was never great, and it's abysmal now.  When people did read blogs, mine wasn't good enough, or my writing not crisp enough to garner regular readers. I soldiered on because I never started this blog for any reason other than to share my insights into the game of handicapping and betting with anyone interested.  While the world is different, and my priorities for that matter also, I still like the challenge of betting the ponies and I continue to be good at it.  I may not have much charisma as a turf writer, but I have always done a good job picking winners, be it superfectas in the old days, but over the last few years, the exacta near exclusively.

I handicapped the Fourstardave and was struck by how good the field was.  For the first time in a very long time I almost didn't toss any runners, and only after some hand wringing did I toss the Show horse, Casa Creed, a Mott horse who at 4 YO I thought was too slow to be with this group.  I didn't particularly love recent form, although training nicely at SAR, but last year over this course he put up a 1.33.72 in the Hall of Fame G2.  This one was won in 1:33.32.  I just thought there was too much in front of him, but I did notice he was 5th on the tote board, just a bit better than the returning last year winner, Got Stormy.  

Anyways, in the blog post I was clear that I wasn't interested in betting short paying favorites and I said I'd be inclined to $2 Bet Halladay and Got Stormy OVER Raging Bull, Without Parole and Uni for $12.  

My ultimate bet was Halladay/Got Stormy OVER Halladay, Got Stormy, Raging BullWithout Parole and Uni, a $2 Bet for $16.  You hope for the best, luck helps, and on this day that $16 became $125.  You'll find the race chart from DRF here. 

The lovely Dita (pictured above) honored me with a cigar for my effort.  


The 52 in 52 is up to Race 6. I'm just going to keep this spreadsheet rolling forward until the sample size is over 100.  


Have fun with it friends,  Turk Out!

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Fourstardave Handicap Grade 1 at Saratoga

 

Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, sharing handicapping and bet construction advice since 2008.  

I moved to Saratoga, Jumel Place, in April of 1986 and lived there until late November.  I did all the requisite things that a Navy Petty Officer should do,  including dating a Skiddy Kiddy, hanging out at The Metro and becoming a fixture at the race track.  What I did not get the pleasure of doing was see Fourstardave (pictured above with photo credit: Adam Coglianese) run in person, as he burst onto the scene a year later in 1987.  The Sultan of Saratoga is gone but not forgotten, but it's horses like this that catch the eyes and hearts of race fans that are needed if this sport is ever going to grow again.  I'm not talking about handle, which is nice and needed, I'm talking about culturally relevancy.

I grew up when sports like Boxing and Horse Racing were still relevant.  The generation that fought World War 2 was approaching retirement, enjoying the sports that they and their fathers grew up with, but funny things happen along the cultural road.  Gambling on Football now dwarfs everything.  Twitter and Social Media platforms offer quick takes which has replaced reading and deeper analysis.  I'm not trying to be the old guy shouting from the window for a return to the past, but sometimes the old ways are best. 

 If you are reading this blog for the first time, try reading a book like Dick Mitchell's Common Sense Betting or Brad Free's Handicapping 101: A Horse Racing Primer. Join The Thorofan and find community.   Immersing yourself in something that takes time and effort can be a rewarding experience.  If anyone reading this ever wants help learning how to handicap, place a bet, or just feel comfortable at a race track, contact me.  I'll do my best to help you and I promise I'm not a creeper! 

It's such a lost year on many levels. I was so engaged at the beginning of the year with handicapping and this blog but the quarantine and life in general just took its toll.  My only real objective now is to stay fresh, watch September and early October racing carefully, and prepare for Breeders' Cup Weekend.  I'm all about turf racing and I prefer the cagey 5-7 year old's the best, and while I prefer a bit more of a route of grass, the inner turf, 1 mile, Grade 1 Fourstardave gives me the opportunity at a nine horse field and a lot of natural class.  Lets get after this.  




Let's do our best to look at current form:

10 July 2020: Keeneland. 1 Mile, Firm Turf. Maker's Mark Mile G1 Raging Bull (Fr), Emmaus (Ire) and Without Parole (GB)



 4 July 2020: Belmont. 1 Mile Firm Turf. Poker Grade 3.  Got Stormy, Valid Point



27 June 2020: Belmont. 1 Mile Firm Turf.  Just a Game Grade 1.  Uni (GB)



20 June 2020: Churchill Downs. 1 1/16 Miles Firm Turf. Wise Dan Grade 2. Casa Creed, Emmaus (Ire)



26 July 2020: Saratoga. 1 1/16 Miles Firm Inner Turf.  The Bernard Baruch Grade 2. Halladay



8 August 2020: Saratoga. 5 1/2 F Firm Turf.  Troy Grade 3. Chewing Gum



 

 That is the latest on every horse in the field.  What to make of it or just noise?  We don't have a single last race winner entering the gate.  That is highly unusual, but the ebb and flow of the race season is so out of whack right now it's understandable. So takeaways:
  •  Raging Bull (Fr) was out kicked in a late bid.  Capable of a 1:32 Mile.
  • Casa Creed ran a 1:33.72 in Hall of Fame G2 on this course as a three year old last year.  Onbly 2 starts since for Mott's runner. Mostly slow efforts.
  • Emmaus (Ire) trainer Murphy 0-10 Graded Stakes past calendar year.  Never fast but seems in decline.
  • Of the two Mares, Got Stormy's form has been off in 2020.  Won this last year at 5-1. 
  • Halladay is a beautiful Grey/Roan who didn't have another gear when challenged last out. Hard to believe Pletcher Graded Stakes 9% in 187 attempts over past year.  
  • One of four (three too many) Chad Brown's, Uni (GB) is classy and the best horse in this field as a Mare. Brown is 29% off 31-60 day layoffs and a staggering 25% Graded Stake Winner in 271 attempts. 
  • Valid Point is a Scat Daddy Grade 1 winner in 6th start.  Has had bad trips.  Arlington's turf is not apples and apples with Saratoga, but 1:35.5 as 3 YO in Grade 1 Secretariat
  • Without Parole (GB) is still winless in North America under Brown and winless since Ascot in 2018.  Classy.  Need more. 
  • Chewing Gum is Mott's second in the gate, off a quick turnaround 2 weeks ago, stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs.  Crap Shoot.  
When a field is like this, evolving current form, overall good quality, I tend to trust my base handicap and let the tote board give me insight into the opportunity cost of the bet.  I'm not sure I see value in betting this race until I see where the tote board ranks Raging Bull (Fr) the morning line favorite, how Without Parole and Uni (GB) match up on tote, and where a dark horse may emerge on a value line, such as Hallady or Got Stormy OVER Uni (GB), Without Parole (GB) and Raging Bull (Fr).  That would be the sort of $2 Exacta ($12 total) that I could get behind.  

Whatever you do, make your betting capital count and have fun with it!

Turk Out. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Manhattan G1 at Belmont

Instilled Regard wins the 2020 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park
Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, a horse race handicapping blog that has been handicapping online since 2008.  

A big thank you to The Thorofan and the Handicappers Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you today.

So much has happened in 2020 on a global stage.  I handicapped six races in January/February 2020, as I like to watch the turf racing in the early season in Florida and California as it helps me prepare for when the big races come and I'm looking for value.  While the world, and then the United States, went into a free fall beginning in March, my world went upside down with the death of both my Father in Law on March 12 and my own Father on April 8.  I had no interest in horse racing, I was forced to continue working alone in an office all by myself, and the best therapy for me was my work.  Day in and day out, 12-14 hour days.  My work got me through my grief.  It's time for horse racing to bring me back the feelings of pleasure.  Let's get after this!





My initial reaction was just how even a race this was, even with an albeit small field.  It's a four horse race by my fair line odds, with my top 4 consuming 80% of the win percentage while the Morning Line uses five runners on a corrected basis (the percentages divided by 100% + Takeout) to get to 80%.  I don't think weather will be an issue and expect firm turf.

Let's start with looking at some video.

Belmont Park; 6 June 2020; 1 1/8 Miles Inner Turf (Square around T for newbies on PP)  The Fort Marcy G2




Belmont Park; 4 June 2020; 1 3/8 Firm Turf (Circle around T for Main Turf);  The Tiller Stakes $80K



Fairgrounds; 21 March 2020; 1 1/8 Miles on Turf; The Muniz Memorial Classic G2



I feel a bit rusty.  I have been handicapping for, hard to believe, 35 years this year, so rusty is relative, but I'm torn on my position on this race.  That's not a bad thing.  When you watch racing long enough you start to spot patterns, archetypes, a recurring pattern.  This movie seems very familiar.  I'm also not the type of race fan or handicapper that bemoans the quality of the field; handicap what you are given to work with and if you don't like the action, walk away.  It's that sentiment that allows me still have a roof over my head and a twenty eight year year marriage. 

What to make of all this?  Instilled Regard is going to get bet hard.  Winning the Fort Marcy over this route of grass for Trainer Chad Brown who has Ortiz Jr up, does not hurt.  Brown sends three into a gate of eight, it almost doesn't seem fair or equitable.  I like Brown, I've been a fan of his for a very long time, but someone has to challenge is growing dominance on turf just to keep the dynamics of racing fair: 25% Graded Stakes winner in 241 starts, 27% Route Winner in 789 Starts, 26% Turf Winner in 666 Starts, 30% Won Last Start in 240 opportunities and 28% with the 2nd off a >45 day layoff.  Shocking numbers, and he dominates the top of the board here also saddling Rockemperor (Ire) and Devamani (Fr).  

Archetypes. Favorites for decades hovered as 30% winners from the gate.  That number is going up.  Does Instilled Regard come out of the gate, rate slightly off the flank and to the outside of  early speed Cross Over before handily passing and finishing by a length or two in front of a charging Rockemperor or Sadler's Joy? Admit it, you've seen this movie too.  Let's not be too jaded though.  Let's assume all Brown runners are allowed to compete fairly against each other, and we have no reason to believe he's dishonest (i discount his fine last year for back OT- the laws are slanted to protect workers, not employers, rightfully so, even if Brown was following standard practice on the backstretch), then is there value to be found in this race?  That's the only question a gambler has.  Yes, horse racing fans have other interests and concerns, but a gambler, the lifeblood of this sport, should have a narrow focus: Is there money to be made? Possibly, but not betting Brown horses Win Place Show.  

My base handicap is in the chart.  It confuses some, but just because I handicap a winner doesn't mean I'll bet the handicap, its not sound gambling practice.  I'm leaning, tote board dependent, towards Devamani (Fr) on top, my tepid chalk.  While coming up short against Instilled Regard at 1 1/8 miles in June's Fort Marcy G2, Instilled Regard has a pretty low Tomlinson (309) for the extra furlong and has only one try at it in 17 lifetime starts.  Devamani has a field best 385 Tomlinson and his Class is off the charts, bred by Aga Khan Studs and selling for $322,000 (against only $294,000 career earnings).  The gelding may be a late bloomer, although conditioned by turf genius, Christophe Clement and Rob Atras, he is very sharp now in Brown's barn.  I'm hoping for 3-1 or better.

If you can't tell, I'm not estatic about this race from a gambling perspective.  Too much Brown, too much good Brown.  It's not top say crazy things don't happen, it's just not this gambler's business plan to hope for crazy.  I don't think it's crazy to think Sadler's Joy is starting to fade.  1 win in last 12:  Last 12 back to June 2018:  1 Win, 2 Place, 6 Show, 3 6th place finishes.  No longer a Grade 1 horse (except in fields like this), perhaps i'm wrong, and I have been before on older Champions, but I don't like the pace of this field for him.  He will get bet though, that's good.  So will Instilled Regard and Rockemperor.  That's good.  I'm going to keep my betting conservative and put Devamani on top with Dot Matrix and Cross Border to Show, a $2 bet for $4.  Plausible, not crazy, is the business plan.

It feels good to be back.  Thank you Thorofan.  

Turk Out!


Three Generations of Turk at the Spa.  This was Street Sense's Travers Day







Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Nomination Is In: The Buena Vista G2 at Santa Anita


Carressa- Benoit Photo
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, established in 2008 to share horse racing handicapping and bet construction primarily.  Other blogs do a much better job of talking about the industry, the people, the events, I keep my view narrow and I hope my rabid fan base enjoys that.


The turf pickings were slim today. Yes, I am primarily a 4 Year old and Up Turf Handicapper.  It's the sort of racing I like, I'm good at it, and I love the amount of data I can find on these animals more than anything else.  I like data.  My past performance of choice is typically DRF Formulators but I have used Timeform US, including using them independently and simultaneously on races.  I'm not endorsed and I pay for my own products, and I just find the Formulator a comfortable fit.  I will shift to Timeform for certain meets and certain races, but I'm a mechanic at heart, I use the right tool for the right job.



While the pickings were slim, I like the makeup of this race, The Buena Vista G2 at Santa Anita, 1 Mile over firm turf.  By the way you'll find a link to track conditions and scratches and changes here.  I've seen mixed thoughts on the weather but I wouldn't expect soaking showers.

Let's get after it!




What's the first thing you'll notice?  I've spotted in my humble opinion a large underlay in the form of Jolie Olyimpica (Brz).  Hopefully the betting public takes the horse to 8-5 like the track handicapper did because a real opportunity presents itself there.  Let's take a look at some relevant video first.


The Megahertz G3:  1 Mile; Santa Anita; Firm Turf F and M 4/Up; 20 Jan 2020




Las Cienegas Stakes G3; 5 1/2 F Santa Anita; Firm Turf  4 YO and Up F and M; 11 Jan 2020





I love exciting new runners, but that's the fan in me.  The gambler in me doesn't understand how a filly making her second start in the US, coming off a small field 5 1/2 furlong race, gets installed as an 8-5 favorite.  Maybe she goes out and wins with daylight between her and rivals but I want to see results before I go fanboy.  Jolie Olimpica (Brz) should be a fun story this year, but today, I want her to stumble a bit.

I like Carressa to win.  2nd off break for Trainer Shirreffs and a last out winner in the above Megahertz at this distance and conditions.  Tactical speed, must maintain press with the leaders because there is much more late speed than she can handle.  Second turf start after switching surfaces.  Light chalk for me.

Brill on paper wins the class battle.  The $1 million dollar Medaglia d' Oro daughter is regal but so far the results are not there.  In the Megahertz she was in a great spot in the lane and had no response.

If you go two races back to the $82,000 Lady of Shamrock, 1 Mile over Good Turf at Santa Anita you see a more engaged Brill.




Boom or Bust.  Left Hollendorfer barn last summer after a not so good Black Eyed Susan on Preakness Day.  Trainer Chatlos is winless in 6 stakes over last calendar year and Smith jumped mounts to Jolie Olimpica.  Boom or Bust. 

Lady Prancealot (Ire) is a safe option at a good price possibly. Big Late speed.  4 of 6 in the money at distance, 10 of 15 in the money over grass, 6 of 7 in the money at Santa Anita.  Winner in December of 3 YO Grade 1 American Oaks at classic distance over grass.  Trainer Ballas wins 22% of time off of a break this size. 

Mulchy (GB) is interesting to me.  1st time lasix, 1st time North America, 1st time with Trainer Callaghan after leaving John Godsen's barn. Hot jock Rispoli is up, a 22% winner in 94 starts this meet.  I can't imagine a spot in exotic but very interesting to pay attention to. 

Mucho Unusal and Super Patriot round out my exacta possibles.  Mucho Unusal has good tactical speed and some sucess at the distance and over grass.  Place finish in the American Oaks I referenced earlier.   Trainer Yakeen and Rosario, up, have won 63% of 8 starts at Santa Anita.  In the money 8 of 11 lifetime. Super Patriot is Trainer Baltas other runner here, with Rosario hopping off for Mucho Unusual and Fuentes now up.  Late speed  but maybe a bit slow for this group.  7 straight in the money finishes.  Love the claimers aiming high. 

What to make of it?  I'll be paying attention to the will pays from the probables on Twinspires to assemble exactas.  I like:

$1 Bet  2-7-8-4-9 OVER 2-1-7-8-3-4-9 for $30.    I may eliminate some combinations but you get the idea.

Have fun friends!

Turk Out