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

Backstretch

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  15/1...works 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,
Backstretch


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

Backstretch




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..
Backstretch

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Gotham 2016

Gotham Stakes - 2016

This is not a bad field but I don't think the derby winner is in here. They all have decent pedigrees but there are some out there on the trail that are much better.

Shagaf is the favorite and is nicely bred and has won both his starts for Chad Brown who is getting some very nice ones in recent years. Shagaf hasn't met any graded horses yet but is highly regarded.

Sunny Ridge doesn't have the type of breeding that jumps out at you and it's a little hard to decipher but that hasn't stopped him from being right there when asked. He's only been worse than second once and that was in a sprint last year. He's had 6 starts and someone missed the boat when he was entered in a claimer in his first start. Don't let that fool you because there have been some great ones that came out of claimers. I remember the great filly Silver Spoon way back in 1958. She was entered in a claimer in her first start and ended up running fifth in the Ky Derby and is in the HOF.

Conquest Big E, a son of Tapit, is a nice mix of Bold Ruler and Mr P and went for some big bucks at the sale. The thing I have against him is that trainer Casse, through a couple of loaded clients, gets some really nice ones but they never seem to live up to their potential. They seldom show up when it looks like they should. This one has been up against some tough ones but has yet to score in a graded race.

Adventist had some problems in the Withers against Sunny Ridge and has some room to improve off that.

Rally Cry is one of two that Pletcher has in here. Both are nicely bred but he has Mo Power entered tomorrow so I don't know if that one will be scratched or not. I had mentioned elsewhere that Pletcher is taking a different route to the derby this year so we don't know if it will work out or not. Usually by this time his horses are dominating the prep races but not this year, so far anyway. Rally Cry ran into trouble last time against Shag but could be a lot closer today.

1- #7  Sunny Ridge..I'll stick with him here because he always shows up for the dance.
2- #2  Shagaf..may be best but I want to see it before jumping all over him.
3-  #6  Conquest Big E..just because of the company he's been keeping
4-  #3  Adventist...could be dangerous with a good trip
Long Shots - Rally Cry and Mo Power...neither of these look to be a Zulu but there is no Mohaymen in here either..Pletcher usually brings them out running.

Backstretch


Friday, February 26, 2016

Fountain of Youth

Five years ago I posted a blog about out crossing where I said I hoped there would be more of it done after what we saw with Animal Kingdom. In the ensuing years I have noticed more and more out crossed horses on the TC trail. Out crossed horses are designated on Chef-de-Race.com  as NP/P or P/NP where the P stands for Phalaris and NP as Non Phalaris. This is designated through the sire and damsire lines by those who do this work. However, I take a slightly different tack being that I go back farther and I also look for the cross to be in specific spots in the pedigree.

In addition, I look for another step in the process which involves bringing the out cross back into the original INBRED line. Personally, I don't believe a cross works unless it is used with very inbred lines.

So, to get to the race at hand; The favorite, Mohaymen, is sired by Tapit and has the cross of In Reality, which is the old Man O' War line, brought in as the maternal G. dam sire line. He also has another pattern of Northern Dancer/Turn To which is a good sign.

Awesome Speed and Awesome Banner also have the same cross of In Reality which is also the maternal G. dam sire line. Probably a toss up with these two but I lean a little to Awesome Speed.

Zulu is another in here that has an out cross by way of the maternal G dam but this line is the old Hyperion line. This is a great long distance line and I think Vaguely Noble won the "Arc". He also has another pattern of Nearctic/Nasrullah which is very good. This is a superbly bred colt. It looks as though Pletcher is taking a different route to the derby this year and it's probably better than his prior method. Problem is, it's asking a lot for this colt to be taking on experienced horses like Mohaymen off two sprints. I have an idea this one will rate and may give the favorite fits.

I can't see any value in this race but it should be fun to watch.

1- #6  Mohaymen  6/5
2-  #2  Zulu  3/1
3-  #4  Awesome Speed  4/1
4-  #5  Awesome Banner  7/2

Backstretch