Saturday, April 11, 2015

Arkansas Derby

It seems to be a forgone conclusion that with American Pharoah in this race that everyone else is running for second money. This may well be true but I don't feel as though it will have much effect on the Derby itself.

As most handicappers know, the best bet in racing is if the horse is the lone speed or is the speed of the speed and can get an easy lead without ever being pressed. In the case of American Pharoah this has been the case in his last three races. No one really knows what will happen if he's challenged for the lead as he was in his first race and ended up packing it in. However it turns out, I, for one, do not think he can get the derby distance anyway. His pedigree doesn't indicate to me an ability to get a mile and a quarter and maybe not 1 1/8 unless loose on another easy lead. So with some speed being in this I will try to beat him even if Baffert does seem to own these races.

What makes this race a little interesting is the presence of Mr. Z. He has run some really good races up on the pace against some pretty nice colts like Dortmund and Carpe Diem. If he brings one of his better races to the game we may see an upset in the making. Bridget's Big Luvy also has some speed and may help to contribute to a faster pace.

As many of you know, I have a set of pedigree patterns that I use to judge a horse's ability to get the derby distance and beyond. In most years only a small percentage of derby nominees have one of my patterns and over half of the last 25 derby winners have had one of my patterns. I don't know what's happened but this year there are an awful lot of them, in fact, most of those that already in have a pattern I like. Of course, there are some patterns that I prefer over others but any one of them is good enough to win. There are only two colts in this race that have pedigrees I don't care for as to distance ability and they are American Pharoah and Win the Space. All the others are bred well enough to get the 1 1/4.

1- #7  Far Right  9/2..has a great a true grit colt and seems to run best when fresh.

2- #5  Bold Conquest  20/1...just seems to be coming up to this race ready for a big effort.

3-  #4  Madefromlucky  6/1...Pletcher horses always seem to fire in preps.

4-  #1  The Truth Or Else  15/1...has a very nice out crossed pedigree..I've liked him all year but I think the trainer has his form cycle backwards..he does have a super work since his last...should handle any distance if they get him right.

Long Shot  #2  Mr.Z...could put the pressure on and make it a 2 horse race with Pharoah.

I am going on the premise that Mr. Z will try to hook American Pharoah. Z gets a jock who is on fire right now at this track and knows what to do. I may be way off base and Pharoah will run away and hide again but if one thinks that's what will happen then it's useless to even bet the race.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

LA and FL Derbys

La Derby:

Let me first say; just because I don't care for a pedigree this doesn't mean the horse can't win. All it means is that I just don't know which horses in the pedigree are going to have the most influence on that particular foals ability. Sometimes a horse with kind of a mixed up pedigree turns out to be really good but more often than not they are not good at the classic distances.

Most of the colts in this race have classic type breeding but not all will live up to their pedigrees. There are some that will turn out to be really nice horses but just not at the very best level.

International Star is very nicely bred with a perfect alignment of the Halo mares in his pedigree. In addition, having a sire line of Raise A Native combined with a dam sire line of Northern Dancer is a big plus. The Ramseys have been looking for a derby winner for a long time and, I'm not saying this horse is the derby winner, but I think this is the best shot that they have had.

Mr. Z is a nice out cross with Ribot and the Bold Ruler lines. I'm not a speed figure guy so I'm more concerned with the breeding and who has been meeting who. Mr. Z has given a good account of himself against the likes of Dortmund, Carpe Diem, Far Right, etc. He has been right up on the pace in most of his races but hasn't been able to hang in for the win. They are taking the blinkers off and he has a new jock in Kent D. who usually likes to come off the pace in hopes of conserving some energy. He has a very good foundation and I look for him to be very tough in this.

Keen Ice has a nice pedigree and showed in the Remsen that he can handle this distance and it wasn't a bad race against Leave The Light On who may have been one of the leading contenders if not hurt. He seems to be coming up to this race in good order and may be flying at the end.

War Story has the breeding for this but may handicap himself with the bad starts he's prone to. Was all out in last and may be tailing off a little.

A Day in Paradise has a really nice pedigree with a nice out cross. He's been quite steady being in the money in 4 of 5 races but has yet to meet any graded horses.

1-#9  International Star  3/1...on a roll and has guts

2-#2  Mr. Z  4/1........very little separating him from the top choice

3-#7  Keen Ice  5/1...should get a piece at the wire

4-#6  War Story  4/1...I don't see too much more being squeezed out of him.

Long Shot  #5  A Day in Paradise..went head to head with War Story and hung in.

Lots of speed in this so there should be a lively pace. We may see some really dumb moves by the jocks so hold on to your hat.
I threw out the #1 which might be a mistake but I had several reasons to do so and I'll just have to eat it if he wins.

FL Derby:

There are only 5 of these that have my type pedigree so I won't go too far afield looking for the winner. I would really like to beat the chalk but it looks to be a tall order.

Upstart is bred nicely and has won his last two impressively even though he was DQd in his last. Looks to be a tough colt and the only question I have is how slow his last race was. Maybe he is regressing a little.

Itsaknockout is another of Pletcher's beauties and had a rough time of it in his last against Upstart. He's only had 3 races so has plenty of room to improve.

Pletcher again with Materiality. This year may be the best crop I've ever seen having all these superbly bred youngsters and Pletcher and Baffert have most of them as usual. Materiality has only had 2 races which were total blowouts. He got a really high speed figure which is impressive being that it was only his second start and it was at 9f. but I think the competition was suspect.

Ami's Flatter is by the same sire as the favorite but I am inclined to think he has a little more potential in his pedigree. His last race was the first with lasix and he showed a big improvement. Also, he ran second to Carpe Diem who I think is probably better than any of these. Another little item is the jock. I don't know the real reason for JJ taking this mount when he probably could have had Pletcher's horse Stanford in the La Derby and Stanford ran second to Materiality.

Quimet has, in my opinion, the best pedigree of the bunch. He broke his maiden in a claimer and somebody may have missed the boat on that. Zito hasn't had a real good one in a long time but if this guy wakes up it would be a different story. We know anything is possible in horse racing so if this colt would somehow come alive here I would consider him having a shot to win the big one just off his breeding.

1- #1 Ami's Flatter  8/1...going out on a limb here..even if he qualifies for the derby, unless he runs really big he's headed back to Canada.

2- #4  Itsaknockout  2/1...has enough room to improve to take this.

3- #9  Upstart  8/5...may very well win but I'm trying to beat him.

4- #7  Materiality  7/2..I just don't know if he's for real or not.

Long Shot  #5  Quimet  20/1..just off his pedigree.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spiral Stakes

These prep races have been terrible in my opinion and we are looking at more of the same in the rest of them. There have been nothing but short fields with short priced favorites and maybe, just maybe, another possible winner.

Compared to the top contenders on the derby trail this group looks to be a little on the slow side. Most of these have been running on the weeds and it's hard to say who will make a big improvement when finally getting a chance on dirt. At this time I'm really more concerned with their breeding and how they might handle the classic distances than I am with how fast they might be.

There are only a few of this bunch that have the type of pedigree that I look for. One of the nice pedigrees is owned by Royal Son who, with his good Beyer in his last, will more than likely be the chalk. He only has had one bad race which is hard to explain because it was against a field made up of a lot of maiden winners but I'll just write that off as one of those races that can't be explained.

I liked the race that Metaboss ran when winning the El Comino. He was really motoring at the end of that one and it was at the same 9f as this so we know he can get the distance. In addition, he also has one of the better pedigrees in this race.

Conquest Typhoon was beaten by Metaboss but he set and pressed the pace in that one and had some of the starch taken out of him. I don't think Smith will put him on the pace in this because there is some speed here and it would be smart to try to let the other speed wear down the favorite. He also has a decent pedigree so I don't think distance will be the deciding factor for him.

The pedigree I like best of these belongs to Dubai Sky. He's won 3 in a row on the grass so the question is, how will he take to the synthetic? He has shown he is versatile by winning on and off the pace. I would have liked to see him have a prep for this but he has been training well so it is what it is. He also gets lasix for the first time and I guess that could also help.

This track has a pretty good run to the first turn at this distance so I don't think the post positions will make that much difference. I'm thinking that Royal Son will leave again along with a couple others but he should put them away before too long. They might take something out of him but he should hang tough so I think someone will have to be not too far back and get the jump on the rest of the field to beat him.

1- #12 Dubai Sky 8/1

2- #1  Royal Son 7/2

3-  #11 Metaboss 4/1

4-  #9  Conquest Typhoon 5/1

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gotham/ Tampa Bay Derby/ San Felipe

The Gotham

At this point in time I don't think any of these look like derby material. There are a couple that have pedigree patterns which have been known to win the big one but they will need to improve a whole bunch.

1- #8  Tencendur...was beaten by the favorite in last..was sitting in a stalking position and made a bid but was kind of erratic in the stretch..was racing in short spurts but was coming good at the very end...may improve enough to beat these at decent odds.

2- #4  El good at this distance but I don't think he can get the classic distances..he should be tough in this.

3-  #1  Don'tbetwithbruno...has a decent pedigree..this is a step up so will have to race more to his potential.

4-  #3  Classy Class..another that can handle just over a mile, as most can, but isn't bred for the longer distances of the classics.

Tampa Bay Derby

This race is a real brain teaser for me. I don't suppose it looks that tough to those that play strictly by performance and speed figures. The thing that I find most difficult is that in most of these prep races there are horses with great looking pedigrees that haven't exactly shown their best stuff yet. Then there are others that have run really good races but their breeding doesn't say they can get the classic distances.

Since this is all about winning the derby I am inclined to go with the better breeding and hope I am on one of those that all of a sudden show their mettle. And bag a big long shot to boot.

The two choices in this are Carpe Diem and Ocean Knight and I have questions about both. I just feel like the BC race was a fluke where the race totally fell apart on the front end. I think Texas Red made a long run from way back and they just kept coming back to him and I feel that Carpe Diem got basically the same kind of trip. I can't disregard Carpe because he does have a nice pedigree, very nice works and Pletcher knows how to crank them up.

I am up in the air with Ocean Knight's breeding. It's not the type pedigree I like but it is also one of those that are very good once in awhile. I thought the Sam Davis was a pretty weak field and this one was banged down to chalk off of one race, a maiden win in a sprint.

1- #3  Carpe Diem...has a nice pedigree, good works and a nice win in the Brdrs Fut where he ran down Mr Z who is a tough customer.

2-  #7  Great Stuff...very nice pedigree, still a maiden but has great potential...has been running wide and needs a better trip.

3-  #2  Ocean Knight...looks good but I feel he is vulnerable.

4-  #1  Divining Rod...decent breeding...with Super Colossal out he may be the one to catch.

Long shot-  #4  Ami's Flatter..well bred..first lasix...could improve enough for a part.

The San Felipe

The derby winner may very well be in this race. Two of my top 6 pedigrees are in this race and I'm looking for one of them to win. It was about 3-4 years ago that I posted on a forum that I thought the next Triple Crown winner would be sired by Big Brown, that is, if we ever get another. The reason I made that prediction was because of the type of pedigree Big Brown has. I feel that he would be a match for many, many mares so would have a chance to sire a great one.

Dortmund, being a son of Big Brown, looks to have a good shot at the derby and maybe the TC. He has a super pedigree and is sure living up to it. He is 4 for 4 and has shown a lot of true grit. His last was hard fought to the wire and was his first off a layoff so I hope he doesn't get a little bouncy.

Bolo is another of my top pedigrees of the year but has running on the lawn. I am anxious to see how he performs on dirt. He doesn't have to win, just make a good showing. If he doesn't do well I guess we can cross him off as he will probably stick to the weeds.

1-  #3  Dortmund...may get tested in this..

2-  #7  Bolo...big question is, how he will handle dirt..pedigree and works say it shouldn't be a problem..could take the top spot.

3-  #2  Ocho Ocho Ocho...hard to read pedigree but so far has done no wrong.

4-  #6  Prospect Park...doesn't have a classic pedigree but this isn't the derby either.

Long Shot  #9  Sir Samson...has a nice pedigree..needs to conserve some energy...blinkers off may help

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Derby Contender Update

Updated Derby Contenders

Tier 1- These are the pedigrees I like the best, in alphabetical Order.

Bolo...still waiting to see if he tries dirt.

Dortmund...always gets the job done but some stiff competition awaits him.

Far Right...but for some bad luck he might have had a string of 3...tough guy.

International Star..totally fearless..reminds me of another little guy, Carry Back.

Khozan...stretched to a mile in 2nd start against nothing to speak of..showed he could take dirt, rate and move between horses..probably Pletcher's best of the 34 he has nominated.

The Truth or Else...been on my radar for some time but have been waiting for him to wake up...finally came alive in the Southwest...super duper pedigree. Will Borel win another one?

At the moment I feel that one of these top six has the best chance to win the Derby.

Tier 2- Very good, just a notch below the best.

Bold Conquest..deserves a chance again..looked a little short in last.

Carpe Diem...waiting for next start

Competitive Edge...waiting for him also.

Itsaknockout...showed he has the talent in only his 3rd start..needs a bit more oomph.

Upstart...don't know how he got left out...had to edit him in

War Story..trying to live up to his breeding...good try against Far Right.

Tier 3- Pedigrees are good enough if an exceptional talent.

Frosted..doesn't look like he is going to outrun his pedigree..may be a cut below

J S Bach...scratched because of fever..had impressive race..wait and see.

Tencendur...this type pedigree has been known to win the big one..

Out Crossed Pedigrees.

Mr Z has already show he is talented and game. Out crossed horses are usually very durable so he should be a factor in all his races.

Hillbilly Royalty's Southwest race wasn't bad considering he hooked up early with Mr Z, took back and tried to come again at the end..give another try.

There are some others with nice pedigrees that I'm watching but they have to get a move on to make the derby.

Go back and read my post, "Is Breeding a Crapshoot".

Now the horses that my pedigree says won't win the derby;

American Pharoah
Danzig Moon
El Kabeir
Firing Line
Lord Nelson
Ocean Knight
Ocho Ocho Ocho
Prospect Park
The Great War
Texas Red

There may be some others that may have a better shot or be eliminated but I don't see any that I have eliminated already winning the big one.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 Derby Pedigrees

These are my early Derby contenders rated by pedigree. Some of these may not perform up to their potential until they reach the longer distances because their pedigrees suggest that they should excel at the longer distances of the Triple Crown races. A lot of horses can get as much as 9f  but it takes special horses to go beyond that. Actually, just about any horse can go 1 1/2 miles, but how fast? What I'm talking about are horses that can go the longer distances at a high rate of speed.

I kind of grade my pedigrees and use a couple of categories to show that, even though they all have classic pedigrees, some are better than others in my opinion. With over 400 horses nominated to the Derby I have only rated the ones that have shown some talent but I'm sure there may be others that will show up.

Tier 1 has the pedigrees I like best for the classic distances. In alphabetical order;

Bolo...will probably stick to turf races.
Far Right
International Star

Tier 2;
Carpe Diem
Competitive Edge
War Story

Tier 3;
J S Bach

I also look for out crossed horses that can turn out to be really good if the cross takes. A good example was Animal Kingdom who I liked in the Derby and turned into a world class horse.
A couple of interesting crosses this year are Mr Z and Tiznow R J and I am watching them closely.
I will update the list as the season progresses.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Is Breeding a Crapshoot?

Breeding a champion has always been considered a combination of planning and good luck. The planning is comprised of doing what is considered the logical process of mating the best to the best which is what, those in a position to do so, try to do. The luck is determined by which animals in the pedigree exert the most influence on the final result.

Since most pedigrees, especially those produced by the leading breeders, contain many champions in the ancestry, how may one determine which ones will have the most say as to what kind of offspring is produced?

When a really promising youngster appears there will be a lot of writers delving into the breeding of the horse and try to assert the prime reasons why this horse is so good. They will generally give the accomplishments of the sire, dam, dam sire and various other horses in the pedigree and state that the horse can go the distance or have a lot of speed, etc. because of the influence of particular lines or ancestors.

There are some, like myself, who try to predict beforehand, which horses have the most potential to be really good. They will normally refer to the very good ones in the pedigree and say that because of these horses this or that particular foal should be really good. The problem with that is that a case can be made for an awful lot of horses that are bred every year but damned few live up to their pedigree.

For instance, there are over four hundred foals nominated to the KY Derby this year but only twenty will make it to the gate and there will only be one winner. If one looks at the pedigrees of the 400+ that are nominated, champions will be found all through these pedigrees. It would seem to be logical to assume that all those horses can't have an equal influence on the product of the mating in question. A lot of pedigree talk has been generated by the fact of the Raise A Native sire line being very successful producing Ky Derby winners. This factor should be tempered by the fact that roughly 50% of the nominees are of that line which would mean one only has about two hundred horses to choose from. Only about 25% have one of my patterns and less than that sport my two dominate Derby patterns.

I have devoted myself to the study of pedigrees for over 50 years and found a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, why is it that so many highly regarded stallions fail to produce champions like themselves? How is it that unraced mares or those that have failed to distinguish themselves on the race track are able to foal champions? If the sire is so important, as most would have you believe, why is it that in the past 75 years there have been only 4 sires that have produced more than one Ky Derby winner? And of these 4 there were two, Sir Gallahad and Bull Lea, who did it when there were less than seven thousand foals born in the year. Sixty years ago the breeding industry was dominated by the few farms that had really good horses to breed from and the owners of the top stallions were very particular as to the mares that could be serviced. The last stallion to sire two Derby winners was Maria's Mon in 2001 and 1010 and that was after a gap of 22 years following Bold Bidder who did it in 1974 and 1979.

I decided many years ago that breeding the best to the best may have been a good starting point in the beginning but when as many as 35,000 horses have been bred in a single year, although the numbers are down to about 20,000 this year, probably because of economic considerations, trying to decide what horses are going to have the most influence in a pedigree would be a monumental task considering that there are 62 horses in a 5 generation pedigree.

When I first started to study pedigrees it came to me that the study of pedigrees, as far as I could determine, wasn't researched the way most science is. I couldn't figure out how one could point to certain horses in a pedigree and say, that because of this or that particular horse, the foal should or shouldn't have any particular abilities.

It is my belief that the mares are the conduit by which the abilities of the sires are passed on to the succeeding generations. However, with so many mares being in a pedigree, how would one begin to tell which ones would pass on who's genes. As to the dams of derby winners and a lot of other great horses, there are many, many mares that were unraced or lightly raced and had done very little on the track but were able to produce great horses.

After years of study I began to notice patterns emerging from the chaos. The way the females in a pedigree are aligned with one another seems to have a huge influence on the talent of the offspring. I believe that when the mares are in proper alignment they create a free flowing conduit of the genes of the good sires in the ancestry.

I finally settled on four basic patterns that looked to produce an awful lot of very good horses. Of these four patterns there were two that were dominate and were more noticeable in Derby winners. In the last 26 years, since 1988, 14 derby winners have had one of my 2 patterns. This cuts the odds of being on the right horse considerably. And, we must also realize that, even if every horse had exactly the same pedigree, some would be better than others.

There are also the horses with no discernible patterns to consider. These are horses with a lot of random ancestors and we can find a whole bunch of these so there are bound to be some that turn out to be good. But, I find that horses with a Heinz "57" pedigree that are really good are a very small percentage of the total bred.

I also don't find it odd that of the nominees trained by Baffert and Pletcher there are an abnormal number that have pedigrees containing my two best patterns. Perhaps this is the result of very good planning on the part of those who have bred these horses

I will soon be blogging the horses that I think have the best chance to get the Derby distance and longer. I plan to resume my newsletter where I will give my pedigree picks every week for the races leading up to the Triple Crown. If interested in subscribing to the newsletter send me an e mail.