Thursday, February 13, 2014

Working From Home

It’s a stormy, snowy day here on the east coast. A great day to “work from home” and that means there’s plenty of time to take a look at the weekend turf racing at Gulfstream Park.

Thank you to the Handicapping Corner at Thoro-Fan for the forum to express my handicapping opinions!

The co-feature on Saturday at Gulfstream Park is the Grade III The Very One. It is the 29th rendition of the race named after a very accomplished mare from the 70’s. The Very One won major stakes from coast to coast  from 2-6 and on occasion beat  the boys , (The Dixie Handicap at Pimlico setting a new track record) She  amassed a bankroll of over a million dollars, with 22 wins, 12 seconds and 8 thirds.
Even in defeat, The Very One finished second to the  legendary John Henry in the Hialeah Turf Cup and second to Bowl Game in the Washington DC International. Those exactas would have been right up my handicapping alley.

The Very One is carded as the 8th race (4:03pm) at a 1 & 3/8ths miles on turf, and while there is a small chance of wet weather for Saturday, it  hopefully will not be enough to impact the course.

More than half of the compact field of mares is coming off a freshening. But with trainers like Clement, Mott, and Motion, fitness to go the distance shouldn’t be an issue.

Let’s take a look from the rail out.

Aigue Marine – Lightly raced, Clement runner by Galileo out of a stakes winning Silver Hawk mare .Has a win over the Gulfstream turf course at the distance and has some back class. She is serious contender for her first Graded Stakes win.

Left A Message – One of 2 Proctor charges in here, this one with a troubled prep at Tampa 3 weeks ago. Did she get enough out of that trip? She has been beaten by a few of these before.

Seanchai – The other Proctor mare ran in this race last year. Has some speed to gallop along on the front end, but does not seem to have enough finishing kick.

Dame Marie – Kenneally trained, never been this far but good work pattern on the Palm Meadows turf course coming in.

Preferential – She came around at the end of last year with trainer Bill Mott. Some speedy works over the main track, she likes to be up close to the lead.

Inimitable Romanee – Graham Motion NYbred mare and the only Graded Stakes winner in the race with her gate to wire win in last year’s Lamplighter. Not really sure how good she is.

Anjaz – Well bred mare for Albertrani, has been off for 6 months. According to press release, nothing major for the layoff, foot bruise and races rained off, but with this trainer – could need one.

Viva Rafaella – Pletcher trainee, Oaks winner in Brazil beating 15. Not really convinced she fits here, but she has the right connections, so second guessing them may be a mistake.

The Pick: I like Aigue Marine here for the win. She has continued to train forwardly since her last race in November. She owns some back class, is well bred with strong connections and versatile enough to run regardless of turf condition. She has won on the course, at the distance and has won both on the front end and in a stalking position. And I really don’t think we have seen the best of her.

Preferential needs a look too. She has trained very well, with quick works on the main track. She needs to step it up, but is in capable hands to do so.

It’s hard to fault the NYBred Inimitable Romanee. She is as consistent as they come and just might continue her upward progression from last season that produced her stakes win in wide open company. I see her getting a piece.

Good luck in all your wagers!    

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Looking For Daylight" in the Breeders Cup Turf

It’s here! Breeders Cup 2013 and two days of championship racing has arrived. This year the races are once again at Santa Anita, and winners in each division will have a huge effect on year end awards.

Thank you to the Handicapping Corner at ThoroFan for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the 30th renewal of the BC Turf.

Nineteen of the 29 runnings of the Breeder’s Cup Turf have been won by horses from Europe. That’s a huge statistic that’s impossible to ignore. They simply breed more distance turf horses, and many times, though not always, even their second stringers can compete with our top horses. But make no mistake, this is a salty bunch

Two fillies have been successful in this race, Pebbles (Aqueduct 1985) and Miss Alleged (Churchill, 1991) but that was before the female division had their own race. I had the pleasure of seeing them both .Though the Breeders Cup was held for the first time in 1984, it wasn’t until 1999 that the fillies and mares had their own championship race.

There is one filly in this race whose connections chose this race over the Filly & Mare Turf. And that is The Fugue, my pick to win.

So why would someone enter a filly in against colts when they could run against their own kind?

Well there are several reasons. The BC Turf is a mile and a half- the F&M Turf is a mile and a ¼. The purse is larger as well. They run for 3 Million. But the biggest reason that The Fugue is competing here according to her connections is redemption. That and the fact that the added distance will work to her benefit and give her a little more ground should she ensue traffic troubles. Like last year in the Filly & Mare Turf. Listen here, in a Blood Horse video, to trainer John Gosden talk about his filly and how she will “be lookingfor daylight” 

The Fugue is an aptly named 4 year old filly by Dansili out of stakes winner Twyla Tharp by Sadler’s Wells. With the influence of Sadler’s Wells on the dam’s side, one would think The Fugue would like wet ground. But in fact, she did not run in the Arc this year because of the ground conditions. Make no mistake, the Breeder’s Cup Turf has been on her dance card for a while and it is said, she much prefers running over the top of the ground. Her last two group one wins-one against the boys-were stellar. Draw a line through the Coral Eclipse Stakes as she was not 100%.

According to her Twitter account – yes she has one- she has shipped well and had some light exercise and a trip to the paddock on Tuesday. Social media pictures and video show a bright, healthy, alert filly, a year older a year stronger and ready to run a big one.

A prime effort is expected.

Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the field, from the rail out.

  1. Vagabond Shoes – A Gr.2 winner that has never been the distance. Three tries on the course has produced one second place finish.
  2. Teaks North – Millionaire 6 year old has a prep on the course and is working well, but appears in deep.
  3. Twilight Eclipse – Another Gr.2 winner but with 2 wins at the distance. Longshot possibility to get a share.
  4. Little Mike – Defending champ and looking like he’s returning to form, with a game win in the Turf Classic. He’s been there and done that and lookout if he gets loose on the lead.
  5. Skyring - While his daddy English Channel was successful in this race, this colt has a long way to go and will be every bit of his 30-1 line.     
  6. Tale of a Champion – Ran in the BC Turf Sprint last year and does have a win over the course. Don’t see him making any impact here.
  8. Point of Entry – Multiple Gr. 1 winning son of Dynaformer  loves this distance. A top class horse, he suffered a condylar fracture in his right hind leg in June Expert old school connections, he is coming into this off a layoff, with no prep and has to ship. Undoubtedly capable for the top prize but lots to overcome.
  9. Indy Point – Multiple stakes winner in Argentina, with a win over the course in his last- a Gr 2. Connections know how to win a Breeders Cup.
  10. Big Blue Kitten – One of two Kittens Joys’ / King Ramsey horses. Multiple Grade 1 winner of 10 races, he is as consistent as they come.
  11. Magician – Euro son of Galileo with First Time Lasix. He has some class, but this is his biggest test yet.
  12. Real Solution – The other “kitten” he has loads of talent and some upside potential.

My play for the win is The Fugue. My superfecta box is The Fugue/Point of Entry/Little Mike / Big Blue Kitten.

Good Luck and enjoy Breeders Cup ’13. And to our equine friends “Be Fast, and be Safe”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Taking a Look at The QE 2

The 30th renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup goes as the 9th race on Saturday. It is a nine furlong turf event on the Haggin Course, for 3 year old fillies

It is an important event in its own right, with a purse of $400,000 but it is perfect timing for a last prep for the Breeder’s Cup F&M turf and an opportunity for points.

Stakes races at Keeneland never come up easy and this is no exception. This is a good group, and every one of them is in good form, and more than half the field is coming off a win. But though several of these gals have come close there is only one Grade 1 winner in the race- and a nose and a neck prevented her from winning 2 more.

The class of the field and the one to beat is the French filly, Alterite. She is the leading money winner in the race, and is coming off a nice win in her first start in this country in the Gr1 Garden City. She was First-Time-Lasix and drew off nicely with just a vigorous hand ride. She is owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown and together that duo has campaigned the last two F&M Breeder’s Cup Turf winners – Zagora in 2012 and Stacilita in 2011.  Both of those fillies were also rewarded with Eclipse awards in their respective years.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez stays aboard the filly, and her running style should bode well for her. According to her trainer, the filly was a bit high strung when arriving stateside, but hopefully that is behind her. Her form shows an affinity for turf that’s less than firm, but I think her class will prevail. Her 6th place finish in the French Oaks to the Arc runaway winner TREVE, jumps off the page to me. Yes, she got beat 11 lengths, but she still beat half the field and the race was 1/ 5/16ths perhaps not an ideal distance for her.

But it IS Keeneland, It Is Turf and it’s the Ramsey’s world and we are all just living in it.
You have to take a look at the two fillies by Kitten’s Joy in here. Both will run in the red and white Ramsey silks but with two different trainers.

Emotional Kitten is trained by Wesley Ward (33% for the meet) and will be ridden by Channing Hill and is the only one in the field to have a win over the track. She always tries and her numbers continue to improve. She has held her own when competing in 2 GR 1’s on the West coast and has been freshened. She has a big closing kick and would need to work out a trip.

Kitten’s Dumplings is trained by Maker and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Also very consistent, she is a multiple graded stakes winner.  A winner of 5, including the Lake George and the Regret, she has also been freshened.

There’s a good chance a “kitten” will be in the mix.

 It is interesting that there are 2 fillies in here whose moms have won this race.  Say out of (Riskaverse) and Caroline Thomas (Bit Of Whimsy) But as nice as that would be, no daughters of previous winners have been able to do it.

Speaking of the filly, Say, the royally bred miss by Galileo is  adding blinkers and running back on seven days rest after  making a middle move and then ”faltering” on a very  boggy turf course in the First Lady last Saturday. Maybe she disliked the course and the jock just wrapped up on her? I don’t think an exceptional international trainer like Aiden Obrien would wheel her back so quickly, unless he had a good reason. She is the big question mark in here and could be worth the gamble.

Let’s talk about Concise. She finished up well in the Garden City behind Alterite, only getting beat a length and a half. That, after saving ground all the way. She looks to have improved with blinkers, too. If Edgar can find a way to leave the pocket a little sooner she could get all the money.

Caroline Thomas with Rosie aboard could be effective if there is a fast pace. Then, her closing kick could be more effective.

And there does seem to be a good amount of speed in this race.

There is speed on the inside with the California shipper Sarach. And both Leigh Court and I’m Already Sexy like to be up on the front end. too. No doubt, coming from the outside posts, they will want to get their positions early. And if you are a believer in speed figs, I’m Already Sexy is the only filly in the race that has a triple digit.

My top pick in the QE2 is the class filly, Alterite. I would give Concise, Say, and Emotional Kitten a look to complete the exotics.

Hopefully you have gotten some insight for the runners in the QE2. My thanks to ThoroFan and the Handicapping Corner and good luck if you are wagering!  

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's All Dan in The 'Dave

Reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, will try for a repeat win in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap on Saturday and a win will keep his 7 race streak alive, a streak that began at Saratoga last year.

The 29 th running of the ‘Dave will be contested at a mile on the inner turf course.

Wise Dan, the gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry, will break from the one hole and will have to tote 129 lbs on what will most certainly be a good-to-soft course.

He is giving an enormous amount of weight to the rest of the field; however, he appears to be thriving in the Spa environment. He is 3/5 on the morning line.

His 5 furlong turf breeze on July 27 at the Oklahoma turf track was sublime.
Watch it here.

And it should be noted (thanks to The Saratoga Special for this bit of info) that Wise Dan's regular exercise rider, who is aboard for this work, packs 152 with tack.

Don’t waste your time trying to beat the champ. Maybe take a look at Mr. Commons/Lea/Za Approval to fill out your exotics.

Friday, June 7, 2013

How Many Ways Can You Say " This horse CAN'T LOSE?"

He’s a lead pipe cinch
He’s an international cinch
He’ll run off the screen
He’ll run off the charts
He’ll air
He’ll romp
He’ll win with his ears pricked
He’ll win by daylight
He’ll be long gone
He’s a single
He's "live"
He can win tied to the gate

It’s like money in the bank
E-Z money

It’s off the charts
It’s a gimme
It’s a cakewalk
It’s a piece of cake
It’s a walk in the park
It’s a free square
It’s no contest
It’s a sure thing
It’s a good thing
It’s a lock
It’s a mortal lock
It’s a slam dunk
It’s a shoe-in
It’s a foregone conclusion
Not a straw in his path
From footfall to that’s all
From Flagpole to finish
By a pole
Katy, bar the door.

Of course I’m talking about Point of Entry in the 141st edition of the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan, this Saturday, Belmont Day, going a mile and a quarter on the Widener Turf Course.
According to his trainer, Shug Mc Gaughey, he is training better than ever and “is about as good as a horse can get” (Notice his back-to-back bullets on turf)
The Phipps homebred, by Dynaformer, out of Matlatcha Pass, by Seeking the Gold has had a freshening since his Feb win in a Grade 1 at Gulfstream over World Cup/Derby winner Animal Kingdom. There’s not another horse in this race that has won even one Grade 1!
This, horse racing fans, is a huge “class-edge.”

But this is horseracing and anything can happen.

The forecast is calling for rain and the turf course could be less than firm. While it is not his favorite footing, Point of Entry has won on yielding turf, AT BELMONT, in the Turf Classic, last year going a mile and a half.

And even IF some horse jumps up and runs the race of his life, it is my opinion that this race still belongs to Point of Entry. Even WITH the little, rumored “foot issue” he has in one hind foot. Seriously, he only needs 3 good feet to beat this bunch.
He’s the key horse in any exotics. If you are looking for something long to fool around with, I would take a little look at the now gelded, Bombaguia, with a ML of 15-1. Since “the biggest equipment change of all”, his numbers have been good and improving in his both starts this year. With a troubled trip in his last, he still ran a huge race. The distance will suit and he gets in light, getting 9 lbs from the favorite.

Many Thanks to ThoroFan and the Handicapping Corner for giving me the opportunity to analyze a few big turf races every year. I especially had fun writing this post, and would love to hear from the fans with any additions to this list.

Good luck to Point of Entry.  I am a huge fan and I hope the Racing Gods are with me on this one.   

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quick Cappin' the Black-Eyed Susan and The Hilltop

Preakness weekend is upon us, and today the fillies are on center stage. First run at Pimlico in 1919 and called the Pimlico Oaks, it has long been known as the second jewel of the filly Triple Crown.
It is a Grade 2 event, (since 1976), run at the distance of 1&1/8 with a purse of $500,000.

Walkingwithapurpose, is reportedly walking with a stone bruise, and was an early scratch. Manuka Honey is also a scratch.

The Black-Eyed Susan

The morning line favorite and deservedly so, is Emollient, the Mott–trained Empire Maker filly. Put a line through the very poor effort in the Gulfstream Oaks, this filly rebounded nicely in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on the poly. She has proven she can run on any surface, and has overcome troubled trips. She gets Mike Smith as her pilot, once again, and she has been working sharply since her last effort.
She looks very tough in here.

Maracuya, though less seasoned, looks like an up and comer. She is just 2 for 2 and is stepping up to a Graded Stakes. Her breeding suggests that the distance should suit her, and she is working the right way heading into this. If she has the quality that it appears that she might have, there is no better rider than John Velazquez, to make all the right moves with her, and give her a chance to beat the favorite.

The Hilltop

The last race of the day, the get-out race, is the Hilltop on the turf for 3 year old fillies.

Kitten’s Point is a nice filly who has a Grade 3 win under her belt. Her Ashland on the poly was a good effort despite getting beat 10 lengths. Love it that Edgar Prado is aboard, he knows the Maryland tracks better than most.

Summer of Fun could be ready for a big effort. Her 2 year old season was a good one, with a close 3rd in the BCJuviTurf. She has been freshened since March, with only 1 work showing. A little cause for concern…But if all is well, she would be tough.

Emotional Kitten is versatile, with a good late kick and has Rosario to maneuver her thru the field.

Le Fascinator won from the 10 hole in Tampa. She has the services of Johnny V

Drawn widest of all, is Miss Lucky Sevens with Rosie. She is sharp now and going back to perhaps her preferred surface.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kentucky Oaks Quick Pick 6

Here’s my initial look at the Pick 6 for Oaks Day. I don’t generally play the bet, but if I did, I would try to settle on several singles, to keep it affordable ( Tokyo Time / Noble Tune  / Close Hatches)

Race 6
#2 Authenticity ~ Verrazano’s workmate
#4 Believe You Can ~ Won the Oaks here last year

Race 7
#6 Private Ensign ~ May take to lawn
#9 Tokyo Time ~ Better with blinks

Race 8
#3 Blueyesintherain ~ Undefeated
#11 Dancinginthecircle ~ Loves the distance

Race 9
#2 Laugh Track ~ scratched for this, bullet on dirt
#9 Cyber Secret ~ very good now

Race 10
#4 Noble Tune ~ Class of field
#5 War Dancer ~ Improving numbers

Race 11
#4 Unlimited Budget ~ Undefeated and improving
#11 Close Hatches ~ Same as above

*All subject to change, if track condition changes.