Sunday, May 5, 2013
Newsletter #69 Sat. 5/4/13
CD R KY Derby
Normally I would be going through the pedigrees of all the entries but since I've already discussed them as the prep races came up I would just be repeating myself. Instead, I thought I would give my opinion about the Derby without actually handicapping but I will give my picks.
Over the past several weeks I have read dozens of articles by turf writers and hundreds of comments by readers. One of the silliest things I've read concerns the word "CAN'T". I can't believe how many people, who claim to know something about horse racing, make statements like this one CAN'T lose or that one CAN'T win, especially in a race like the Derby. I instantly disregard whatever that person has to say because they have, by their very statement, stamped themselves as either stupid or a fool, or both. Anyone who's been around racing for any length of time knows there are no absolutes in racing, period.
In this year's edition there seems to be no clear consensus as when a horse like Big Brown ran and this is as it should be. To use the word "CAN'T when referring to a possible winner or loser is to totally ignore the history of the Derby. So what makes the Derby so difficult?
It's pretty well established that favorites win about a third of all races run and about 85% of all races are won by one of the top four choices in a race. That leaves something like 15% of races being won by horses considered to have little chance. Also, the majority of these races have an average of only 7-8 entries and many with less than that.
In the last 43 yrs the Derby has been won by the favorite nine times! That's only a 20% rate which is well below the average. The big field of 20 horses is certainly one of the reasons why we see so many long shots win because with a big field racing luck plays a big part in the outcome. Another reason is because of the intangibles in racing.
Distance and the dynamics of a race surely enter the picture in a race like the Derby. None of these horses has ever run 1 1/4 miles and most probably never will again. Distance is one of the reasons we look at pedigrees so much because if a horse isn't bred to get the distance, or get it fast enough, it usually doesn't have much of a chance.
As far as the dynamics of a race, one must realize that races are like snowflakes, no two are the same but they are all snowflakes. So what makes up the dynamics of a race and what changes it?
What I call the dynamics of a race is how the horses interact with one another. Horses all have a comfort zone in which they do their best running whether it be on or off the pace. When closers are asked to go too fast early they are out of their zone and when front runners are restrained too much they may sulk or become rank. These things may happen because of the jockey's actions or because of other horses around them. Horses can and will intimidate each other and when this happens the dynamics of a race will change. For instance; horse "A" may intimidate horse "B" which in turn sets it up for horse "C" who ends up winning. This situation happens all the time and the addition or subtraction of another horse or more will change the outcome of a race even though most have raced against each other previously.
There are other intrinsic values that we can't put our finger on that change the dynamics. This is one of the reasons that many times races are run much slower than the abilities of the animals in the race would indicate. Many times we also see a horse win a race in a time we wouldn't think possible because it finds itself in a comfort zone it may never get in again.
I am not about to write a book here but I think you get what I'm driving at although you may disagree with me. This is just my opinion to which I am entitled because this is my newsletter. Ha! But in all seriousness, this is my opinion of some of the reasons why we, as handicappers, are unable to get beyond that 1/3 marker of picking winners and probably never will.
As to this Derby, the fact of there being 20 horses in it is enough to make us scratch our heads, add to that the fact there is no solid favorite, of course someone will end up as the chalk, and it makes for a very confusing and wide open affair. If I liked a horse in this race, for whatever reason, I would not be afraid to bet it because I think that almost any of them has a shot at winning.
There are many different directions we can go to try to turn up the winner but, as always, I will base my picks on the pedigrees. This is a tough way to go this year because most of these actually have classic type breeding and distance shouldn't be a problem. How the race unfolds and racing luck will more than likely determine the winner.
Despite there being an abundance of really nice pedigrees in this race there are a few that I like more than others. There are a couple, Normandy Invasion and Verrazano, who have pedigrees with RAN mares in the key slots in their pedigrees and I can't recall a horse with this type pedigree ever scoring at the Derby distance. Verrazano does have ND mares in the other key positions which may cancel out the effects of the RAN mares but that remains to be seen.
Oxbow is my first pedigree choice and in addition, he has a few other things going for him. He's never really run a bad race since stretching out to two turns. Up to his last race his speed figures improved from race to race despite having really bad luck with the draw. In 4 out of his last 5 races he's had the extreme outside post and in 3 of those races he was gunned to the first turn where he went very wide and continued his run to go up with the leaders. Having settled, he was then asked for another move, which in each case looked to be premature and he gained the lead between calls in the stretch but hung which I attribute to his early efforts. In his last, he broke slow and was taken back to dead last, didn't like the dirt in his face so Gary took him wide. He showed he was willing to come off the pace by making a long wide run and was only beaten a length for second.
Tho seldom mentioned as such, he is one of the speedier colts in here. He goes from the 2 hole in this and the other speed is way outside of him so with a good break he should have no problem getting nice position with a ground saving trip on the rail. There's even a chance he may grab the lead but after his last I would think Gary wants a stalking position and if not asked too soon his move to the top may be enough.
Revolutionary is another with my favorite type of breeding. I think he may have a little more speed than given credit for and if Calvin can get him to mid pack and the rail he has a good shot of taking home all the marbles.
I love the pedigree of Lines of Battle and distance shouldn't be a question because he's won at a distance farther than any of these have ever run.He has enough speed to get position not too far back and also gets lasix for the first time. The knock I have against him is that O' Brien takes his horses off the plane and shoots them right into the race without a work over the track. He hasn't had any luck doing this but sooner or later one of them will make a good showing. His horses are just so good and he is such a good trainer that he can't be kept down forever.
Vyjack also has a super nice pedigree but his owner, who's been one very lucky guy, may have run out of luck with the draw of the 20 hole. Actually has a little speed and will have to use it to get into this but could get a minor piece. His breeding tells me he can get the distance but the far outside post turns me off.
It's my opinion that this race will be won by a horse that runs close to or on the pace. There's only been one quality speed horse that I can recall in the past several years and that was Bode last year. I don't think we will see any horse come out of the clouds to win this because there are too many speedier types that can get the distance and I also don't think they will all get burned out in a speed duel up front. Of all the speed horses I think Goldencents will be the horse to beat but I'm going for the whole ball of wax and demanding really good odds in this race.
3- Lines of Battle
This is not to say that Orb wasn't the best horse in the race and I'm glad to see his trainer and owners get a very deserving win.
What I do want to say is this Derby is a perfect example of what happens when horses are taken out of their comfort zone. When Palace Malice went gunning for the lead and then couldn't be slowed down it took all the speed horses off their game. Something like that insane pace totally changed the dynamics of the race. The only horses that stayed within their comfort zone were the closers. And, I was totally wrong about the speed business. Who would have thought Mike Smith would do what he did but maybe it wasn't his fault but the fault of putting blinkers on the horse for the first time. Who knows, maybe Pletcher wanted a rabbit but it sure wasn't fair to the owners of the horse.
Even Gary on Oxbow and JJ on Normandy Invasion made premature moves and flattened out. Don't let a crazy race like this one throw you off your handicapping game because if these horses, or most of them, meet each other again, like in the Preakness, there will probably be a totally different outcome.
As I've said, when horses are forced out of their comfort zone they seldom run a good race.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Newsletter #64 Sat. 3/30/13
GP R12 The FLA Derby G1
I have a feeling that some trainers are going to have regrets about the route they have taken to the Derby. We have a few in this race that are on an all or nothing course. There is only 5 weeks to the Derby and I suppose, rather than come back and run 2 races in five weeks, those that don't make it with this race will point to the Preakness.
Shanghai Bobby has only been beaten once but I don't see any of the horses he's beaten being in the Derby picture. His pedigree tells me he can't get the Derby distance anyway because I've yet to see a horse with those RAN mares in the key positions win a Derby. In addition, I don't like the 2 month lay off he's had. He is very fast but unless he is rated I don't think he will be up to this job.
Itsmyluckyday has a nice pedigree and has run 2 very fast races in a row. I like this guy but a problem I have with him is the time between races. I think he was in top form for his last two and these races were only 2 and 3 weeks apart and now he's off for 8 weeks. The question with him is the same as with Bobby, are they going to be in top form off these extended lay offs?
Orb has a nice out crossed pedigree, has shown he can handle a distance and is just coming into peak form. He's won his last 2 after getting lasix for the first time, has shown he can handle a slow or fast pace and has JR in the irons.
Indy's Illusion was beaten by Orb in his next to last and both he and Orb showed big improvement off that race. He also looks to be coming to hand and another improved race should put him right in the thick of things. He also has a pedigree that says he should have no trouble with distance.
Are You Kidding Me is well bred but as usual, the question is, will he like dirt? He didn't run badly in that Breeder's Fut. race and a few of those in that race came back to run good races on the dirt so I have to give this one a long chance in here.
3- Indy's Illusion
4- Shanghai Bobby
Long Shot- Are You Kidding Me
FG R9 LA Derby G2
This one looks to be a real head banger. One fact that stands out is that 5 of the last 6 winners of this race have come out of the Risen Star race including the last 3 since the distance was changed to 1 1/8. It's hard to go against that trend and Oxbow, who was beaten in the Risen Star, came back to lose by a neck in the Rebel. This past one was a funny kind of race that was won by a huge long shot. It looked like there was the early race, then a middle race and then the finish when the winner came from way out of it. It makes it kind of hard to judge which one out of that race figures to run good today.
There are also several in here that didn't come out of that race and one of them is Revolutionary who may be the favorite. He's trained by Pletcher and with the new point system he is being forced to do something he doesn't like to do and that is to run his good ones against each other. So far, with all those good 2 yr olds he has, only one of them has enough points so far to make the Derby. Maybe that one is just so good that Pletcher hasn't managed to screw him up.
Of the horses coming out of the Risen Star I find it tough to separate Code West and Palace Malice although any of them are possible winners in this.
I'm really going to go out on a limb in this race because I'm going to go strictly by pedigree.
Ground Transport has an unusual pedigree having an out cross with the dam sire line going all the way back to Eclipse. Sired by Big Brown, who is inbred to Northern Dancer, this might be a great cross. I may just be hoping against hope because a few years ago I had predicted, on some forum, that our next TC winner would be sired by Big Brown. The post position may really hurt here but he does seem to have a little speed and might work a trip. He's been throwing bullets in his last 3 works at this track and has won his last 2 here. He needs some luck from this post.
Revolutionary has a beautiful pedigree and would be my top choice except that both his wins were on the inner track at AQU, although he did have a very rough trip in his last and came from way out of it, which is hard to do at that track. Now I've gone against the trend with two horses.
Code West pressed the pace in the Risen Star, was passed in the stretch and came again at the end to edge Oxbow and Palace Malice, both of whom bid for the lead and couldn't sustain it. I'm up in the air with his pedigree because of a lot of mix in it but it could go either way.
Palace Malice, nicely bred as with most of Pletcher's horses, should improve off his last and is a definite threat to take it all. Even though Rosie is a good jock, I think Prado, who is riding better now than in the past few years, will help this one. Sitting on a big race with a good post and Prado up may be all he needs.
Departing is a real nice one but again, one with those RAN mares that may limit his distance ability. This is not the Derby distance so it wouldn't be a big surprise if he were to win this. He scratched out of the Risen Star because of a bad post and went down to TX and blew them away. Also, he runs well off the pace which is something those with his type pedigree don't usually do.
Long shot bombs are not unusual at this track so don't be afraid to dig a little deeper for the exotics. I'm going to try to upset the whole apple cart.
1- Ground Transport
3- Code West
4- Palace Malice
Long shots- Departing and Golden Soul
I got the first two under the wire in the FLA Derby and was impressed with Orb's race. It seemed to be a slow pace for that track which is usually speed favoring so I don't know if they did something with the track or the leaders were really going that slow. I thought the lay off would hurt Itsmyluckyday since his best races came with a lot less time between races. He'll have 5 weeks till the Derby so he may be sharper for that. I didn't think Bobby would run well and he's not Derby material anyway.
I took a shot in the LA Derby with a bomb who didn't run all that bad. He made a couple moves and I think the run to the first turn from that bad post took something out of him. He made a bid into the stretch and got up close but couldn't sustain his bid. Being that was only his 4th race, I think we will hear from him in the near future. Revolutionary lived up to his pedigree to run them down and showed he can run somewhere other than NY.
My two long shots ran well to get 3rd and 4th and Golden Soul was really long odds. There is a chance that one of these may try one of the last races before the Derby to try to get in.
I'm going to list my Derby horses now and the list is according to how I rate their pedigrees. Actually, as I've mentioned several times this year, there are an awful lot of horses with pedigrees that say they can get the 1 1/4 or more so I would think that any horse getting into the Derby is qualified to win it. I think your going to see some sharp well bred horses going off at 10/1 and longer. With this new point system I think most of the Derby field will have run sharp, in the money races this year.
My Derby Pedigrees
They are not listed in any particular order other than the ratings I gave to their pedigrees. I rated them like a report card.
Lines Of Battle- A+...he's in if he comes here
Oxbow- A+....needs to get in the money in AK Derby
Rydilluc- A+...been grassing...must win the Blue Grass if going to the Derby
Vyjack- A+....is in
Itsmyluckyday- A...should be in
Orb- A...the leader now
Uncaptured- A...needs to get in the money in Blue Grass to make it.
Flashback- B+...got to get in the money in SA Derby
Goldencents- B...needs good finish in SA Derby
Verrazano- B...Not sure but I think he's over rated
Hear The Ghost- B...hard to judge unusual pedigree
These are the horses that have the pedigrees I like best right now. There may be a few more show up by Derby time.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Newsletter #62 Sat. 3/16/13
OP R10 The Rebel G2
Looks like another nice full field with lots of horses in good form. I just hope it's a nice clean race with no trouble.
Oxbow is still my number one pedigree of the year but he gets another bad post. If it hadn't been for ; bad post positions, running hard and wide early and two misjudged premature moves he could have won his last four in a row. I had commented somewhere on line that I thought Lukas should get another jock to ride the Ox, somebody like Mike Smith and lo and behold, Mike gets the mount. If he can get good position just off the pace without getting used up early I think he will take this.
Super Ninety looks to be a real nice one and has a nice pedigree, not great, but good enough. I am always leery of horses that get away on the lead as he did last time, especially in the slop. He did beat Code West in his next to last and that one came back to run big in the Risen Star. I would like to dismiss Ninety Nine but there are too many ifs with him so must leave him in, especially the way Baffert wins at this track.
Delhomme is another I'd like to throw out but am too undecided about him. He is nicely bred, as with most of Pletcher's horses. but the question is, will he rate. He tried to take them all the way last time and tired and the two that beat him came back to run lousy races next time, although there were excuses made for both. I'm putting him in but he is very vulnerable.
Den's Legacy has been very steady and is usually a little short with his closing bids. This race has enough speed in it to cook some of them so he has a chance at a minor prize.
Treasury Bill also has a nice pedigree and with his stable mate full of speed and maybe acting as a rabbit, he will probably try to lay back and come at the end. Don't know if he's good enough but Talamo makes the trip to ride so they must feel pretty good about his chances.
Carve is one that Asmussen claimed out of a winning race and came right back to win his next. Has a nice pedigree and looks like he wants more distance. This might be the claim of the year if he keeps getting better.
I suppose the key to this race is what happens with all that speed on the outside. Delhomme, with his good speed and nice post should be where he wants to be and may have a little advantage . I think Title Contender will be gunning early along with Ninety Nine and Ox so there's a chance that the rest may be kind of squeezed going into the first turn. I really think the most important factor will be, what kind of spot Smith can work out with Ox.
3- Super Ninety Nine
4- Treasury Bill
Long Shots- Carve and Den's Legacy
It was a very strange day at OP. There were 6 sprint races which are one turn races and 5 routes around two turns. In all the sprints the winner was either on the lead or close to the pace. In all the 2 turn races the winner came from the back of the pack. So what was going on around that first turn? Were they running through sand dunes or what?
Once again, Oxbow moved too soon and couldn't hold on at the end. Mike Smith said he didn't want to move that early but was forced to. Why, I don't know, because he had good position laying fourth or fifth but moved before the 1/4 pole. I am going to look at this race as an oddity in the future. I think Oxbow ran what could have been a winning race once again and I also think he is actually getting better with each race and will still be a major factor going forward.
All the front runners in the Rebel and all the other routes on the card ran into a brick wall so I think there was something strange going on. I wouldn't discount some of these speed horses in future races.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Newsletter #61 Sat. 3/9/13
I have been pedigree handicapping for a lot of years and although it's not a precise method of handicapping, I rely on pedigrees to tell me which horses should be able to get the distance of the TC races. In most years, when handicapping one of the prep races, there were only a couple of horses in each race that seemed to have a pedigree with the potential to get the longer distances. This year however, I have never seen so many horses with really good pedigrees.
Even if all the horses on the TC trail had exactly the same pedigrees, some would be better than others, they can't all be equal. A lot depends on the ability of the trainer and other factors that may decide which ones run their best on any particular day. So naturally, I will be wrong a lot more than I'm right, as it is with all handicapping. I just try to be right enough times on some horses that may be over looked or be able to eliminate some short odds horses that can't get the distance.
TAM R10 The Tampa Bay Derby G2
This is a race where I can't really eliminate any one of them at this distance but will try to stay with those I think can get the Derby distance which is tough because they all have such nice breeding.
Verrazano will no doubt be the favorite because he seems to be freakishly fast. Many times a horse will blow them away on the front end and record a very high speed figure but I've never been able to understand how this happens because many times they are never able to do it again unless they happen to get a set of circumstances exactly the same. His pedigree, because of the placement of some particular mares, could go either way. He may have distance limitations or may not but at this distance he should have no problems if he's the real deal. Hard to go against him at this time.
Falling Sky has a super nice inbred pedigree and I don't think this distance is a factor but the post position is. I have the feeling this horse will rate off the pace a little and if he can get decent position he has a good chance. Although it looks like he was getting tired at the end of his last, Dynamic Sky never did get past him, not even on the gallop out. If he tries for the lead and is forced wide on the turn he could be in trouble.
Dynamic Sky has some nice races and with Joel in the saddle should move up. Joel has been riding all over the country and does great wherever he rides and is on a roll. If someone takes the starch out of the top 2 he stands a good chance. Also looks to be sitting on ready.
Park City is another Pletcher well bred colt who is 2 for 2 and could make some noise in here. Prado looks like he's getting back to his form of yesteryear and could bring this one from out of the clouds.
I like the pedigree of Purple Egg and his unbeaten record is nothing to sneeze at. The reason I don't have him contending is that he's had some kind of ailment and scratched out of a couple races. He also hasn't worked in a couple of weeks but who knows, he may be ready.
Java's War has shown some good signs on the turf and the poly but his one race on dirt wasn't so hot although he had a bad start in that race. That KJC race was on the slow side but I recall another horse that came out of that race who also had trouble trying to close on that slow pace and came back with a good race.
If the chalk doesn't win this we could see some nice numbers light up the tote. There are others in here that deserve mention, in fact, I don't think winning this is beyond the scope of any of them. Just have to make a stand somewhere.
2- Falling Sky
3- Dynamic Sky
4- Park City
Long Shot- Java's War
SA R7 The San Felipe G2
The west coast gang doesn't look as strong this year as in prior years. As usual, Baffert has a few that look good but are as yet unproven against stakes company. On paper this looks to be a 2 horse race but one never knows with these youngsters. Only 8 entered so this doesn't look to be a defining race but we will be on the lookout for a better field in the SA Derby.
Goldencents has a pedigree that could carry him a long way this year. His only defeat was a second against the top 2 year old of last year, Shanghai Bobby. He has a lot of speed but also showed he could rate a little in his last when he tracked a speed ball and took over to draw away. He could take the lead if he gets it easy enough or he might track Flashback. Either way, he doesn't figure to be very far off the pace.
Flashback is one of Bafferts better bred 3 yr olds this year and has had no trouble in his only two races. He led all the way in his last to win by a big margin but he also set a pretty soft pace so we will find out today how he stands up under pressure which he's sure to get from Goldencents.
Hollendorfer has another decent one this year in Hear the Ghost but his contenders are usually just a cut below the best. This one has kind of an unusual pedigree with 2 mares being of the old Man O' War line and I almost never see something like that. His pedigree tells me he should be able to run all day so we will see what the stretch out does to help him.
Kochees is another with nice papers and tried chasing the highly regarded Super Ninety Nine in his last. He could show some improvement here and get a piece of the action.
Omega Star is a nicely bred CA horse and will get a big test today. I don't think he can handle the likes of the top two but may hang in for a minor award.
3- Hear the Ghost
Long Shot- Omega Star
Verrazano looked good winning this but on the other hand it seemed to me to be a pretty slow pace. In addition, aside from Falling Sky, it looked to be a pretty weak field. Verrazano is a very nice colt but I still think his pedigree could go either way as far as distance is concerned. It takes a different kind of horse to get the Derby distance.
This race was also a little more proof that the KJC race was very odd with that slow time recorded. Java's War is another horse that came out of that race and ran big so I'm wondering how good Uncaptured will do in his next couple of races. I do think that this was a weak field and want to see what Verrazano does against some of the better colts.
Out in CA the San Felipe turned into a speed duel and I kind of think this was due to the long lay off by Goldencents who was just too fresh. I saw a lot of talk about how the jocks screwed up on Flashback and Goldencents but it looked to me like they couldn't hold those two horses back. They set a pretty wicked pace and set it up for a closer but the pedigree of Hear the Ghost, the winner, told me he should run all day and I think he is one of those types that will relish the 1 1/4 of the Derby.
It will probably be the last races of the preps, when the leading contenders finally tangle, before we really get an idea of who can do what. I think the Rebel next week will have a more evenly matched group and something good will show up there.
PS- Anyone interested in subscribing to my newsletter and getting in on some of these winners before the races are run can send me an e mail for details.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Newsletter #60 Sat. 3/2/13
AQU R10 The Gotham G3
Wow, another full field. If nothing else, the new point system has brought us some full fields of competitive horses. There are some in here that are bred for the classics and a few that I'm undecided about.
We've got four that are coming out of the Withers that was won by Revolutionary, who I like because of his pedigree, but I don't think there was much in there for him to beat. Some of them had been beaten by Vyjack who looks like a main contender in this.
I'm sure Overanalyze will be the favorite off his last with that big Beyer number. I am suspicious of that figure because on the same day, Uncaptured who beat him in the Iroquois, came back to win in a very slow race at CD. I just don't see this horse running as fast as the figure says he did in his last. Also, he nosed out Normandy Invasion who was no ball of fire as the chalk in the Risen Star. I'm undecided about his pedigree because it's not the kind that I favor. He's been on the shelf for three months or more and may be a little short because his normal schedule is to race once a month.
Vyjack has some really nice breeding and hasn't taken a bad step yet in racking up 3 in a row. Doesn't it seem strange for the jock that has steered him to all his victories to be taken off? The owner thinks that Rosario will handle the horse better than Velasquez. The owner of Vyjack is a guy who hit a P6 for 3 mil and decided to get himself a good horse. He paid 100 Gs for him at the sale because he liked his pedigree and his workout. He says the reason for the change in jocks is that Vyjack is an aggressive horse who they decided to geld because of his head strong tendencies. He feels that the horse was fighting Velasquez and that Joel would be a better fit.
Mc Laughlin has 3 in this and 2 of them are owned by Darley. I think one of them will be scratched, probably Now and Then. He and the other half of the entry, Transparent have very nice pedigrees and have been racing without lasix. Darley may have been one of the owners that decided to do without lasix and I also think they may have their eye on the UAE Derby. One must always give serious consideration to horses from this stable and a very live jock.
Mc Laughlin also has Elnaawi who is coming off a nice maiden win and gets lasix for the first time. I'm not too fond of his bloodlines but this isn't the derby. Horses who have won over the track have a little edge and usually run well.
Sky Captain scratched out of the Fountain of Youth last week because of a bad post and probably to dodge Violence. He was beaten last time by Cerro who didn't fare too well in the FOY but his chances were killed in that one when he tried to chase that fast pace which isn't his style. Casse has a few nice ones in Uncaptured, Northern Lion and Dynamic Sky in addition to this one. Sky Captain has a very nice pedigree and looks to be sitting on a big race but the question is, how will he take to this track?
Of the 4 colts coming out of the Withers any one of them could get a piece of this race but I happen to really like the pedigree of the maiden, Champion Boy. I don't think it's ever a good thing to throw maidens in the deep end of the pool by jumping them up against graded winners but he wasn't badly beaten and looks like he will improve off his last so I'll give him a shot.
I've got to leave somebody out but it looks like anything is possible in this race. Overanalyze has a class edge because of his running good in graded races but I think he will be odds on and I'm going to try to beat him.
1- Sky Captain
Long Shot- Champion Boy
This was a rough run race. At the start the second place finisher, West Hills Giant, came over and crowded the whole field and especially Elnaawi who had a terrible trip and I think he would have been an easy second with a clean trip.
Another with a bad trip was Champion Boy, the maiden. He was shut off at the top of the stretch when he looked to be making a move, got going again and was blocked again and couldn't regain his momentum. He has a pedigree with a lot of potential and I think he will be heard from down the road somewhere. I also think he's been badly handled.
If you recall, I had mentioned, in another post, that many speed horses develop a terrific closing kick when reserved off the pace and allowed to retain all that energy they had been using early. Vyjack is a perfect example of that. Normally up on the pace he was allowed to laze near the back and came on like a train in the stretch. There are a few others on the trail that might do the same if they take to being rated.
I had also said that I thought the Derby would be won by one of the out crossed horses on the Derby trail. Vyjack is a very nice example of an out crossed horse, with the Princequillo/Double Jay lines introduced through the maternal G Dam and then brought back into the Nearco line to produce what I like to call Hybrid Vigor. There are a few of these types of pedigrees out there like, Demonic, Flashback, Oxbow, Revolutionary and Vyjack. These are all at the top of my Derby list, and unless I've missed one somewhere, one of these will win the big show in my opinion.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Newsletter #59 Sat. 2/23/13
Starting this week things should get really wild. I say this because, unlike the past several years, we have so many contenders that want to run up front. The list is pretty long with horses like Falling Sky, Flashback, Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday, Shanghai Bobby, Uncaptured, Verrazano, Super Ninety Nine, and some others that have plenty of speed and like to set the pace with a couple of them being able to also sit just off the pace. There are more coming along that haven't been in one of the preps that also want to run up front.
At the moment, we have no idea what's going to happen when they begin to meet one another. I would suspect that those that have shown an ability to rate would have an advantage but there may be one of them with enough speed to run them all off their feet as Big Brown did. It will be very interesting to see what kind of strategy will be employed by the trainers and jocks.
We have a few good ones that like to run well off the pace like Normandy Invasion and Revolutionary who may benefit from some fast paced races so any thing may happen and there are surely some surprises in store.
I will still rely on their pedigrees to steer me to some winners but they will need to show some ability because we are having some mighty big Beyers being run this early and likely to see even better as we get, what looks like, some very fast paced races.
Before I get into these races I want to offer you a handicapping tip. There have been several races where there was a horse that got out front and ran away with the race. In many cases the horse is so dominate that he totally wipes out any horse that tries to challenge him. Remember this, and this is a reason one should never use a speed rating for a horse that had speed and tired and then dropped out of the race, when a horse gets really tired they stop to a walk. An exhausted horse may be passed by the worst plug in the race. In these instances, do not deceive youself into thinking that one of the late runners was actually closing.
For instance, in the Southwest Stakes last week, Super Ninety Nine totally destroyed that field. He went out on the lead and 2 horses, Big Lute and Always in a Tiz, both made a run at him. He put them away and they were so wiped out that they just dropped completely out of the race. A couple of longshots ended up in the money, not because they were closing, but the dead horses came back to them. So don't be fooled by what looks like a good closing effort when the horse passes dead ones.
Here's a web site where you can watch the re-runs of the prep races and see for yourself what happens in those situations. http://www.kentuckyderby.com/contenders/preps/schedule
GP R11 The Fountain of Youth
This is the first 50 point race in the Derby series and, as I had thought, we have a nice field of colts. There are a couple of graded winners in here but it's still a little early for the top contenders to be meeting each other.
Violence is at, or near the top of every body's list as he might very well deserve to be. He has a very nice out crossed pedigree and it's my feeling that a horse with this type pedigree will nail down the Derby. He is 3 for 3 including a G2 and a G1 win. I feel sure he will be odds on in this race and it will be a hard decision to go against him. The only knock I have against him is that in his last, the Cash Call out west, was that there were 4 horses vying for the lead in a fast paced race and they came home a little slow. He had a perfect trip sitting just behind the leaders and over took the tiring front runner Kapcori who actually held on pretty good. Oxbow, as I predicted, came back in his next to blow them away. Off that beating Violence gave Ox one would think it makes it makes Violence look that much better but on the other hand, Ox had a very tough trip in that race and could be just that good.
Falling Sky has one of the most inbred pedigrees you will ever see and is bred for the classic distances. He won the Sam Davis gate to wire and made the lead pretty easy without being urged. He looked to be getting tired at the end with Dynamic Sky closing in fast but never did get by, even on the gallop out. Off his next to last race one would have to think this is not a need to lead horse and will probably rate a little off the pace. I have observed over the years that when a front running horse learns to rate off the pace they usually have a tremendous finishing kick.
I think to win this one from his post he will need to get some position just off the pace because I think gunning for the lead may do him in.
There are a few others in this with nice breeding and one that I like is Cerro. He looks like he can run all day and this may even be a tad short for him. He wired them last time at 1 1/8 but should be closing in this. Motion isn't that keen on running him here but there aren't that many races for points so he feels it's best to take a shot now and still have time for another longer race later.
I'm a little up in the air with the pedigree of Orb so won't make a decision on him yet. He's won 2 in a row but hasn't met anything really good yet.
He's Had Enough ran that one good one in the BC and couldn't stay close against Flashback in his last. I just don't think this guy can get a distance because of those Mr P mares in his pedigree although he should be able to handle this.
I think Speak Logistics will see some action on the board because of his trip in his last. The hole did close up on him but I didn't see that much run when he did get clear. His breeding is the kind that can be good but there are a lot with his kind of pedigree so I will wait to see which way he is going to go.
I kind of like the papers of Sky Captain and he looks to me to be sitting on a big race. Oxley has been spending a ton of money trying to get a good Derby horse and he has a few good ones this year. Sky Captain was given a long break after his romp at CD in July and seems to be one that likes to be raced into top condition. Has had 2 tighteners and I think he will come out running for this one.
1- Falling Sky.....scratched
3- Sky Captain....scratched
FG R10 The Risen Star
There are a couple in here with pedigrees that make me think it's a toss up as to whether or not they can get the Derby distance. Departing and Normandy Invasion have sire lines that say they can do it but they also have mares in the key spots that say they can't. Of course, that only applies to the Derby, because one doesn't need too much in the way of classic breeding to get this distance. I will have to wait and see which part of their pedigrees dominate.
Oxbow has my favorite pedigree of the year and is a beautiful out cross with that old Man O' War line introduced to very inbred Nearco lines. There doesn't seem to be all that much speed in here except maybe Palace Malice. It might hurt Oxbow if he's forced to gun to the lead from that outide post as it did in the Cashcall but that race had a lot of speed in it and was very fast paced. He did give a sign in that race that he might be able to be rated and that would be a good thing because he has enough speed to be placed pretty much any where Court wants him. I don't know if he has bottomed out yet but if he hasn't he could wire them.
Normandy Invasion will probably be the chalk because of a big Beyer figure in his last. I have my doubts about that big number in that race because on that same day Uncaptured won the KJC in what was very slow time. Overanlyized was well beaten by Uncaptured in his previous race and came back to run a big Beyer in the Remsen. I don't think Overanalyized is all that good and Normandy Invasion made a long run and had the lead but flattened out and couldn't hold. I have my doubts about NI but Chad usually has them ready and I could be wrong in my assessment.
Baffert and Pletcher both have horses in this and they always command respect. I know Pletcher was very high on Palace Malice and he was away for quite some time. His first off the layoff found him a little short against a pretty fast one. He's been working in company with Violence and has some very nice works leading up to this with his last a bullet at 5f.
Departing was the choice of Hernandez over Golden Soul and Proud Strike but he's been scratched so I guess it was a bit of bad luck with the post that was drawn.
Mylute ran a nice race against Goldencents, who is one of the top Derby contenders, in the Delta Jackpot. He came back to win big in a tune-up but I haven't yet made up my mind on his pedigree.
Golden Soul got a lot of action in his last against Oxbow but couldn't handle that one. He did beat Fear The Kitten who came back with another good race so he might contend late in this one. He is nicely bred and should have no problems with distance.
I could go on and on with this race as it is a very tough one to figure. I suppose I am going to be guessing as to who I think will finish behind the Ox, if he wins.
2- Palace Malice
3- Normandy Invasion
Longshots- Golden Soul, I've Struck a Nerve
Impatient ride on Violence cost the race. Other than that , nothing special.
In the Risen Star however, the best horse didn't win. Oxbow was caught flat footed at the start, gunned for the turn, caught out in right field all the way around the turn but got position. Was sitting pretty til jock made premature move to get the lead with more than a 1/4 to go and beaten by a length.
Doesn't anyone realize what it costs a horse to get used like that in the first 1/4? Why do you think trainers scratch because of post position? This race was a carbon copy of his race in the Cash Call when the same thing happened. I think the ride cost Ox more than 5 lengths at the finish. He was best by far!
I still think this is the best horse on the trail but I wish Lukas would get a patient rider on him. He will have another chance and I hope he gets an inside post or a better ride.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Newsletter #55 Sat. 2/2/13
We have the G2 Robert B Lewis with 4 horses entered. Is this a joke, or what? I have been in favor of the new derby point system but something like this gives me second thoughts.
Having thought it over I have come to the conclusion that a point system has its merits but I don't think the method on which the points are based now is the correct solution. Rather than having each race give a predetermined amount of points, I think the points should be decided after the fact. What I mean by that is that the points should be awarded according to how many and what kind of horses happened to be in any particular race.
Imagine this, and it is or may happen: Race "A" is a graded race with 6 entries, none of whom has ever won a graded race vs race "B", which is also a graded race, with 12 entries and over half have won a graded race, and yet, both are worth the same number of points. Wouldn't seem fair, would it?
The horse of the year or the Experimental Handicap voting is done after the races are run, not before. I believe a point system could be worked out that would award points to a race based on the quality of the horses in it. Like how many graded horses in it and what grades they have beaten. I'm sure a formula could be worked out so as to award so many points for each graded win, what the grade was, added money races, etc. The point value of the race could be determined once the entries are in but before the race is run. If the point value of races is just going to be the result of an arbitrary pre-determination than they may as well stick with the former earnings method. That's just one man's opinion.
This week we have the RB Lewis with 4 horses entered and none have won a graded race and the favorite is coming off a maiden win. We have the same situation, except for the number of entries, in the Withers at AQU. with the favorite in that coming off a maiden win.
Last week we had the Holy Bull which had 10 entries, 2 of them being graded winners and one of them had won 2 G1 races. I know those wins were as a 2 yr old, so what. Should a race with that kind of competition only be worth 10 points, the same as these poor races this week? This is just some food for thought.
I'll not even bother with the RB Lewis because I don't know how it is worth betting.
AQU R9 The Withers
Revolutionary has the pedigree I like best in here and he will more than likely be the chalk. He had been knocking at the door and broke through with a big win in a maiden event last time out. He has enough speed to stay close up and will probably handle these.
Mc Laughlin has 2 in here that are nicely bred with Long River having more experience than his stablemate, Valid. Long River is getting lasix for the first time and this trainer is 50% when doing this. He was beat by a couple others in here in the Jerome but I think he will show enough improvement to reverse that. I really like the pedigree of Valid and he wouldn't surprise me by taking this although I think he needs another race or two.
Amerigo Vespucci has some very nice breeding and has been very steady. Seems to always come ready to run and should make his presence felt.
Another with a great pedigree is Champion Boy but it's tough to get there on breeding alone. This is the trainer that was tossed out of PRX where he was winning everything in sight. He usually has his horses well spotted but this seems a little extreme running a maiden in here but one never knows. I have seen a couple maidens take down a stakes recently. His figure is low and he just doesn't seem ready for the big time yet.
2- Long River
4- Amerigo Vespucci
Long Shot- Champion Boy
TAM R11 The Sam Davis
This is another race without a graded winner in it. I know graded winners are scarce because there haven't been many run as yet but at least it has 10 entries.
Northern Lion has one of the better pedigrees in this one and is coming off a big maiden win. Casse seems to be loaded for bear this year and he's very good at having them ready to run. This one shows a pattern of improvement and looks like he should move forward off his last.
Falling Sky is really inbred to the Nearco line and shouldn't have a problem with the distance. He wasn't far behind the undefeated Purple Egg in his second race and came back to win his next. The two he beat in his last both won their next race so maybe his last was one of those key races.
I'm not revved up with Dynamic Sky's pedigree but he won the Pasco over the track and he ran a good one at the distance at KEE in addition to being not far behind Shanghai Bobby in the BC race. He may be hard to beat in here.
Speak Logistics also ran a decent one in the BC and is nicely bred. He's had a nice series of evenly spaced works so should come out running.
Divine Ambition got caught in a battle up front in the Pasco and tired but his breeding says he may handle a distance if rated.
1- Northern Lion
2- Falling Sky
3- Dynamic Sky
4- Speak Logistics
Long Shot- Divine Ambition
As expected, the RB Lewis and the Withers were both taken by the very short priced favorites. Flashback had things all his own way in the RBL and although looking impressive I will wait until he meets some decent runners before I make any decision as to how good he really is.
In NY, Revolutionary had to overcome a ton of trouble to win that one. He looks to be a slow starter out of the gate but I didn't think he would be that far back early. I have to question the ride he got and think that the jock did a terrible job on one hand and on the other he did a super job guiding him to the win. It seemed to me that JJ could have looped the field with no trouble and he would have won easily instead of having to thread the needle by keeping him in traffic the way he did. I think Revolutionary has a bright future in getting the classic distances because, aside from showing a lot of talent, he has a super pedigree.
In the Sam Davis I had picked Northern Lion on top but since he was scratched, that moved my other picks up a notch. I was a little surprised that Falling Sky went right out for the lead after stumbling at the start because it looked to me, from his previous races, that he would take kindly to be rated just off the pace but the jock said he made the lead on his own without being pushed. I think this one can handle more distance if not used early and has the speed to find a stalking position in future races.
Dynamic Sky was a little late switching leads but was coming strongly when he did to get up for second. Had the exacta cold and if Speak Logistics hadn't had to check when looking for room on the rail in the stretch, I might have had them 1-2-3 in order.