Friday, May 19, 2017

Preakness 2017

Preakness 2017

I've been away from blogging for a year because of health issues. It's certainly no fun getting old. I'm going to try to get back to it for awhile anyway.

I am not going to go through every horse's pedigree, just the ones I like best.

Always Dreaming has a classic pedigree that tells me he can handle any distance and his performance so far has been the best so I have to place him on top of these.

Conquest Mo Money is another with a pedigree that says he likes a distance of ground. He had won 3 in a row and got caught in a pace duel in his last two, especially his last, the Ark Derby where I think he was best. He set a pressured pace and shook off 2 horses before losing near the wire. My problem with him is his jockey. I think the guy is in over his head and I am surprised that they didn't try to get a top boy for this horse. They probably could have gotten Mike Smith. I did read that the trainer says they may not go for the lead this time which I think would be a smart move. From his post he can probably get position and sit second or third. No sense in trying to challenge Dreamer early.

I'm going to go out on a limb here with Classic Empire and basically throw him out. He may get a small piece but I think, because of his pedigree and the way he has run, that 9f is his limit. In his best race in the BC, even though he hung on to win, he was fast running out of gas and that was only at 8.5f. Tired in the Holy Bull and just about won the AK derby where he was off the pace and CMM had to battle 2 horses on the lead and was probably best in that one. I know he had a lot of trouble in KY but after a mile he started to lose ground on the leader even though he passed a few dead ones.

I think Gunnevera may rebound somewhat in this and may pick up a piece, especially with Money Mike up. Has a decent pedigree and I think we can throw out his last 2 and go back to his FOY race where he really put them away and I like his type of form cycle.

Going out on another limb with a real long shot, Term of Art. He may be a little slow coming to hand but it's very easy to glance at his record and toss him. In the San Felipe he had a bad start but still ran 3rd against Mastery who, after that race, everybody was saying that was the best race by a 3yr old all year and were jumping on him as the horse to beat in the derby. In the SA derby, which was a weird race that produced 2 good efforts by Irap and Battle of Midway, he was back in no-man's- land but even though very wide coming for home managed to pass 5 horses in deep stretch. Needs to be closer early and I think Ortiz will put him in the race. Has had 4 stiff works since last and gets blinkers. I'm giving him a money shot at probably 30/1.

1- #4 Always Dreaming  4/5...can't see them beating him.
2-  #10  Conquest Mo Money  15/1..can run off the pace or up front..if the jock doesn't screw up he should be right there..very game horse.
3-  #6  Gunnevera  15/1..needs a good trip
4-  #7  Term of Art  30/1..may still need more distance..
5-  #5  Classic Empire  3/1..may be a little closer but I think he's over rated.
Possibles..#9 Lookin At Lee, #1 Multiplier

Friday, May 6, 2016

KY Derby 2016

KY Derby  2015

I've been handicapping about 65 years and one of the first things I learned was never to bet against an unbeaten horse. Not that they don't lose eventually, but don't put up your money to find out if it is going to lose today.

Having said that, I am going to have to buck him in this race, not only because he will probably be the chalk but because his two best figures were in sprints and they were G2 rather than G1 races. Because of this I feel he may be vulnerable but he does have something else going for him in that he is quite versatile. He can run on or off the pace and is one of the few horses in here with good speed which should enable him to get a good position.

As you know, when it gets to the classic distances, I tend to depend more on pedigree than other factors. The problem with this race is that just about all of them have pedigrees that say they can get the Derby distance but we know that some won't, at least in this race. There are a few pedigrees I like better than the rest and they are Destin, who I like the most, Suddenbreaking news and Mo Tom but anyone of them are capable of getting the distance. In the past there were many believers in the dosage index which indicated that horses with a DI of over 4.00 had little chance of getting the classic distances and this was true except for a couple of cases. Nyquist has a DI of 7.00 and Outwork has a DI of 11.00 so that using the DI theory these two would be eliminated. However, my pedigree patterns say they may get the distance regardless of the DI. I do like Outwork's breeding a little better because he is an out crossed horse and when that kind is good they can be very good.

Before I give my picks here are some random thoughts of mine regarding performance:

There are what I call big wins put forth by horses that have run races in the highest company where they had the lead in the stretch and increased that lead. In this race there are Nyquist who had the lead in the stretch of the G1 Fla Derby and was increasing it at the end. Exaggerator did the same in the G1 SA Derby although on a sloppy track where the speed died. Brody's Cause did it in the G1 Bluegrass also.

And there are two who got big wins in G2 races and that was Gun Runner and Destin. Horses with big wins are always a threat to repeat and most of the time when I have bucked them I was beaten.

Another thought I have is that there are an awful lot of handicappers that don't really understand what happens in a horse race. For one thing, they don't realize that when horses tire they virtually slow to a walk. Regardless of the numbers, when you see a race where all, or almost all, the horses near the pace drop back and a bunch of closers come on to take the top positions, the pace was fast. A really fast pace can affect more horses than the leaders. It can often have an effect on horses running in the second flight if they are not too far back. What happens in a case like that is these other horses are taken out of their comfort zone by trying to stay within striking range of the leaders.

I believe this is what happened in a few of the preps like the AK Derby, the Wood and to some degree  the SA Derby. The Wood went extremely fast early and the colts in the second flight were not that far behind Outwork and Matt King Coal who were waging one of the best speed duels I've seen in some time. None of the horses in the second flight were making up any ground and were actually falling back which left Trojan Nation the last man standing, so to speak. Because he was the only one who had done no running at all early in the race he was able to go by all of them except Outwork. I thought this was a super good effort by Outwork in light of the early battle he had. There are those who feel it wasn't much of a race by Outwork because he had only beaten a maiden. But it makes no difference who ran second because it could have been any one of them if they hadn't chased that pace.

I won't go into all the details but I think virtually the same thing happened in the AK Derby with Cupid and Gettysburg cutting the pace and I think the first five under the wire were the same ones lagging behind early. Of course, Cupid and Gettysburg are not in this so we don't have to worry about them.

Probably the same situation in the SA Derby but to a lesser degree. In spite of the rapid pace set by Danzing Candy he did hang a little tough. Mor Spirit, who ran second, wasn't all that far off the early pace and was probably out of his comfort zone also since the pace was a couple seconds faster than he is able to handle. This is probably the most confusing derby I've seen in sixty years.

There are two questions that are really bugging me:

Can Nyquest and/or Outwork get the distance? Their pedigrees are suspect but their performances say they might.
The really big question is what is Smith going to do with Danzing Candy? He is probably going to the front and to do that he is really going to have to gun right out of that #20 hole. If he does, will he be able to take back some and set a moderate pace or will the horse just keep pulling? If a blazing pace is the answer it could set it up for the deep closers like some of the preps. I think everything depends on what this horse does with the lead. I want to make some kind of decision so I am going to assume Mike will get the pace slowed down some and I'll make my decision based on that and my pedigree horses.

1- #9 Destin  15/1...I love his breeding but the owner may have made the dumbest move in history not giving this colt another race because he believes in a bounce theory. I'm hoping that Pletcher's skill at bringing a horse out running off a lay off will save the day.

2- #15  Outwork  15/1 ...I think his Wood race was one of the best I've seen. I understand they have been working him behind horses to get him to rate a little.

3- #4  Mo Tom  20/ of the 3 pedigrees I like and is the Uncle Mo that's really bred for the classic distances  and if the race falls apart up front he could take it all with a good trip.

4- #2 Suddenbreakingnews  20/ other pedigree horse who has been getting some speed works and a shadow roll to try to get him into the race a little sooner.

A couple of others who have a shot at this...

#5 Gun Runner 10/1 and #17 Mor Spirit 12/1 have the running styles that could have them getting the jump on the closers and be close enough to the leaders to win this.

Big Long Shot- #20  Danzing Candy 20/1..this kind of speed is always dangerous.

Even though I am trying to beat him, Nyquist must be respected because he's done everything right so far. As a saver I'm betting Nyquist in an exacta box with those I have listed.
Good Luck

Saturday, April 16, 2016

ARK Derby 2016

ARK Derby  2016

Recently I had written that, during the course of my many years of handicapping, I had noticed that when horses that move up in class off of races where they had raced on or very near the pace, tended to come from off the pace. Most handicappers know that horses dropping in class from a race or races where they had lots of early speed were very dangerous no matter where they had finished in these races. This is because the pace is usually slower in the cheaper races. The reverse is true when moving up in class. It is for this reason I like horses that got closer to the pace when moved up, especially those coming off a maiden win.

There are always exceptions to the rule as in horses like Zenyatta who could win from off the pace regardless of company but this type horse is very rare. In this race Cupid is a prime example. He laid a little off the pace in his maiden races but when jumped into a graded race set a fast pace and pulled away at the end. Perhaps some of this was due to his being a May foal and just starting to mature and more of it may be that he is just plain classy. He has a nice pedigree and looks much the best in this field although there may be some question as to whether or not he can get the Derby distance and beyond.

Over half this field has classic type breeding and I kind of like Dazzling Gem's last where he moved to graded company and pressed the pace and hung in for third at today's distance although the time was on the slow side.

Whitmore looked to be a winner in his last two but just couldn't close the deal at the end. He did improve his speed in his last but Cupid proved to be too much for him. Is he a hanger?

Gray Sky has one of the better pedigrees in this but I have a question in my mind concerning the jocks. Geroux is one of the best but I'm a bit curious about his ride on this colt in the Rebel. Whitmore had passed him nearing the 3/4 mark and Gray Sky gave a burst and repassed Whitmore only to flatten out. Was this an over confident or misjudged ride on the part of Geroux? Why the jockey change to a lesser boy? I still have to consider this one because of his pedigree and the manner in which he ran last time and, his odds of course.

Gettysburg is nicely bred and has a couple of other things going for him, like Pletcher and JR, plus having had two races at today's distance. He does have enough speed to get position and maybe chase Cupid all the way.

I would love to see Suddenbreakingnews win this just because I like his pedigree so much. I don't care much for his form cycle because he looks to have regressed in his last although slop could help if speed doesn't hold up.

1- #10  Cupid
2- #11  Gray Sky...may be a sloppy track which would help..
3- #12 Gettysburg
4- #8  Whitmore
Long Shot  #7  Dazzling Gem


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Florida Derby 2016

Florida Derby

As far as I can determine, according to the hundreds of comments I've read, this boils down to a two horse race with a slight edge to Mohaymen. The question then presents itself, how to bet this race, if at all.

First of all, I like Mohaymen over Nyquist for several reasons. Even though Nyquist is very speedy, and in a match race the speed almost always wins, I don't think he will run away and hide. Being that this is Nyquist's first try  at 9f I believe he will try to conserve some energy so the fractions may not be that fast. If that is the case then Mohaymen may sit right behind him and be within striking distance. I think Mohaymen will collar Nyquist at the top of the stretch and Nyquist is then going to fade and that is where my betting strategy comes in. The difference I find between these two is that Nyquist has had two races over a mile and was losing ground at the end of each while Mohaymen has had three races over a mile and was going away at the end of them all.

This race somehow reminds me of Secretariat's Belmont with Sham. In that race, if you looked at the exacta payouts, you would find that by taking Sham out of the equation you could wheel Sec in the exactas and make money no matter who ran second as long as it wasn't Sham.

I am going to bet against Nyquist being first or second and try to dutch the race with Mohaymen on top of the exactas. I will adjust how many units on each ex to be sure to show a profit. I suppose there are other ways that could be tried in order to make a few bucks on this race but that is the way I'm going. I'm just betting that Nyquist doesn't get second.

Aside from the top two there is Fellowship who has run third to Mohaymen twice but even though trying to close he lost ground each time. If someone gets cooked on the pace he could pick up a piece.

Romans has an interesting horse in this race that has a pedigree that I really like very much. Takeittotheedge has only had one race, a sprint where he blew them away. He may be green and probably needs some racing but with his pedigree, anything is possible. I don't think any distance would hamper this guy. He showed a lot of speed in his only start and we don't know if he can be rated or not but his pedigree just seems to beg for distance. If he uses his speed he may be able to take some of the starch out of Nyquist. But, as in all races, it depends on how the race unfolds. What Romans intentions are with this horse only he knows. He's using a young local jock without stakes experience so is this a race just to see how the horse stacks up or is he actually looking for some points for the derby? Run second and your in the derby.

Majesto is nicely bred and has shown he can handle some distance but it took him five races to break his maiden although he did run third to Destin in his first race.

To conclude; None of these look to be on a par with Mohaymen, at least not yet. Nyquist also looks to be much better than the rest of the field but I just feel he's not going to come to this race with his A game and will be beat. I don't feel as if he has beaten anything really good despite winning the BC where he topped a horse he had already defeated 3 times in a row. In my opinion he is overrated and his pedigree isn't screaming distance.

1- #9  Mohaymen  1/1...the one to beat.

2- #7  Takeittotheedge  20/1...going out on a limb but I just love this guy's pedigree..I question his recent works since his last but it is what it is.

3- #4  Nyquist  6/5...he may win but I doubt it..

4- #2  Fellowship  15/ very fast but trainer says his speed can't be used or he will quit..

Long Shot  #3 Majesto...could fill out the super..

Saturday, March 26, 2016

La Derby 2016

La Derby

I will probably regret this but I am disregarding Greenpointcrusader in this race. He did win a G1 as a 2 yr old and his claim to fame this year is that he ran second to Mohaymen but someone had to run second and that was a poor field even though it was the fastest prep so far. I attribute that to Mohaymen. The reason I'm tossing him is that, #1, I don't care much for his pedigree but I may be way off base with that. Reason #2 is his being away for almost 2 months and it's not easy to keep a horse on edge for that long. He's been working steady but nothing really sharp. I think the reasoning is that they want a  fresh horse going into the derby but he has to get the points first and I just think the strategy will backfire on them.

The horse with one of the pedigrees I like best is Mo Tom. Not only is he well bred but he's been bringing his A game to all of his starts. The only knock against him is that he runs from well off the pace and is subject to finding trouble getting a clear shot. They would probably do well to keep him on the outside despite the fact that he would lose ground on the turns. His pedigree also says he should like the added distance.

Another pedigree I really like is Conquest Windycity. His sire is the only horse to win the BB Classic twice and Tiznow is actually an outcross to the Northern Dancer/Bold Ruler lines. He may be a horse that's a little slow to develop but they gave him 4 months off to let him mature a little. His pedigree sure says he should handle any distance. He hasn't run very fast yet but he's only had one start as a 3 yr old. With all the nice horses he gets it's about time for Casse to step up to the plate.

I'm a little undecided where to place Gun Runner. He has a decent pedigree and comes in here with some good connections. He's never ran a bad race but I don't know if he really wants more distance. A couple more jumps and he would have been third rather than first in his last. He should be around at the finish but may fall a little short.

There are a couple that have very nice pedigrees but haven't run in any graded races yet. Battery is one of Pletcher's well bred colts and is making his first start against graded company but his horses have a habit of always being in the thick of things in these situations. He has already won at the distance in his last and may be very tough in here.

Dazzling Gem is the other one I like. He is also nicely bred and has won both his starts. He is in very capable hands and should be up for a big effort. I have a feeling he has enough speed to track the leader and if he has any kick he could be well positioned to take this.

1- #6  Mo Tom  5/2
2-  #4  Conquest Windycity  15/1
3-  #1  Gun Runner  3/1
4-  #9  Dazzling Gem  12/1
Long Shots  #3 Battery  10/1 and #8  Uncle Walter  20/1..don't know what happened to Walter in his last but I'm throwing that race out and using him in some exotics.

Good Luck,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rebel Stakes 2016

Rebel Stakes 2016

This race, though not having any really high profile runners, looks to be a nice betting opportunity.A full field of 14 and at this point in time, no really outstanding runner although there's lots of potential floating around.

One must start somewhere so I am eliminating almost half the field on pedigree alone. This is not to say one of those I eliminate can't win because this is only 8 1/2f and it doesn't take a lot of pedigree to get this distance.

The colts who Have the pedigrees I prefer are, in no particular order; Cupid, Siding Spring, Madtap, Z Royal, Gray Sky, Whitmore and Suddebreakingnews. The good news about this is the possibility of catching a long shot or a big exotic.

The one whose breeding I really like is Suddenbreakingnews. He looks to be a tough customer who, but for a nose and a neck, would be undefeated. Although he looks like a stone closer at first glance, he did wire them in his maiden win at a mile and was only a couple lengths off a 44 half in a sprint. I don't know how many thousands and thousands of races I've handicapped in all my years but one thing I noticed a long time ago has to do with running style and class. For instance, it seems to me that a lot of these horses are able to lead or sit right on the pace in their maiden races but as they try to move up in class they start to come from farther and farther off the pace unless they are truly class horses themselves. There are rare closing horses that can come from way out of it and be very consistent, as in Zenyatta and some other greats over the years. Then there are some that can't win unless conditions and race shape favor their style. So, this race to me, is going to put Sudden to the test. If he can unleash another run as he did last time and get there or very close from this outside post I think we will have a serious derby contender.

Cupid is well bred but light on experience but it's hard to ignore any Baffert colt on this track. They have been high on this one but he is also a May foal and may have some catching up to do.

I have a hard time figuring out Casse because he gets some really nice horses but they always seem to disappoint. Siding Spring has a very nice pedigree and has shown some signs but has yet to live up to his breeding. I don't think he wanted the lead in the Southwest but was forced to leave in a hurry from the outside. He seemed to be a little rank to me and was pulling Rocco along. He was stalked by American Dubai and both stayed on quite well after what looked to be a fast pace. I think he may run big with a stalking position.

Whitmore does have some speed but ran into trouble in his last and then made a big move only to be caught at the end by Sudden. Ortiz is in to ride and with Whitmore coming up to his 3rd race for Moquett, who is a very live trainer here, this one is dangerous.

There are 2 entries in the race and I'm going for it with the horse killer Lukas's pair. I really like the pedigree of Z Royal and I don't know how much his early trouble in his last cost him. I feel like his blinkers off is going to help rate a little. I'm curious about the jock switch because Geroux has won with this one but rides the other half of the entrie and he is an excellent jock. The other half is Gray Sky who has already beaten Madtap who came out of that race and ran big for Asmussen.

This is a wide open race with a lot of possibilities so I'm trying to sneak a long one in.

1- #12  Suddenbreakingnews...really hoping he's the real deal and runs like Ribot who he's inbred to.

2- #4  Cupid..for 2 reasons..his pedigree and Baffert

3- #6  Siding Spring...just think he's better than he looks on paper

4-  #10  Whitmore...good form and live connections

Long Shot  #2 entry...bred too nice to ignore at big odds


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tampa Bay Derby 2016

Tampa Bay Derby

As far as pedigrees, this group doesn't impress me very much. I don't get a good read on most of this field but there are always a few that fool me and run better than I thought they would. For sure, I'm looking down the road at the derby distance and beyond so that doesn't preclude any of these getting the shorter distances with no problem.

I do like the pedigree of Destin because I've seen a lot of this type become very tough at any distance. The two probable choices in here are both sired by Giant's Causeway who is the inbred type who matches up with a lot of mares. I like Destin over Brody's Cause because of the tail side with his dam being Dream Of Summer who was pretty good herself and brings the In Reality line into the inbred lines of the sire.

In Brody's Cause I like the inbreeding to all 3 of Nearco's greatest sons. I would have thought this one would have had more speed but he looks like he wants to lay back. He sure looks like he wants more distance. Also, he's been off since last Oct. so he may need this race. He probably only needs to run third to have enough points to make the derby and he would be pretty fresh for that so I'm thinking he won't be cranked up too tight for this but I do like the bullet he worked a month ago.

I'm not in love with Rafting's pedigree but it is nice enough to do the job. I do like, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the fact of a lot of good horses turning up lately with some close breeding to Royal Charger through his son Turn To and this guy's female side is full of Turn To.

Morning Fire is nicely bred but has been doing a lot of sprinting. He's already started 9 times and only his last has been over a mile but he's never been off the board. I am just wondering if he can or will be rated a little. There looks to be a lot of speed in here and trying to steal this seems to be wishful thinking.

This race looks like it's setting up to favor someone coming from off the pace but sometimes the jocks fool us and themselves when nobody wants to go to the front. They get so afraid of getting caught in a speed duel that everybody hangs back and, without really intending to, someone finds themselves on the lead and nobody chasing. Jock strategy can fool us a lot and make for upsets.

1- #7  Destin  9/2..only question I have is, did JR pick Outwork over this one?
2- #2  Rafting  6/1
3- #8  Brody's Cause  5/2
4- #1  Morning Fire  15/1
Long Shot  #9  Tale of S'avall  #9  12/1..simply because of his breeding..