Monday, July 27, 2009

Mi'yon Preview

There was a video introduction for this drink called the Millionaire that they're gonna hawk at the oval on Mi'yon Day. Drink a couple and you'll forget that fiduciarily speaking you're a little fucked compared to last year. I didn't write down the recipe, but I promise the Bird will post it by end of week or EOW to those still gainfully employed at one of those overly-anagramed cubicle farms. Anyway, I do have a list of Million Probables and it's mouthwatering. Here we go:

Arlington Million
Gio Ponti
Precious Passion
Just as Well
Gloria de Campeao
Mr. Sidney
Cima de Triumphe

Beverly D.
Mad About You
Roman Empress
Heart Shaped
Black Mamba
Pure Clan
Points of Grace
Ginger Brew
Treat Gently

Black Bear Island
Giant Oak
Oil Man
Battle of Hastings
Proceed Bee
Quite a Handful

Gaily Gaily Recap Recap

Athiest and Trojan War undid themselves early, very early. NY Wiseguy, aptly named, wisely let them burn up and was able to ride as if en route to grannys in a final furlong of 14 seconds. Not sure why Fort Apache couldn't get within 3 lengths.

In the second the Chicago Railbird delivered the exacta though in boxed format. Sweet Lemon Chello nearly had it, but Thatswhatshesaid was full of run and looks like a real game filly. Sweet Lemon will get lasix soon and if dropped in state-restircted will be tough to beat. Nice late run by Diego Sanchez who acts as his own agent, offering backstretch workers tacos as he trolls for mounts. He's quietly becoming a very good rider.

I might need to get bold here because the Chicago Railbird has now brought you a 12-1 winner in Twist. Mike Straight, unafraid or maybe without much choice wired this field of maidens. Home Fries grabbed third, maybe it'll take this Dynaformer prog more time to develop.

Exchanging Kisses got a nice trip under Quincy Hamilton and got the wire first for the Calabrese silks. Tight Grip was second and severely underbet for the talent here, but the post proved inauspicious as the punters figured. Free Fighter rings in more underperformance for Block in the past week. The turf listed as good may have played a role.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back from California

Had a nice week and a half away. Was bummed to see Giant Oak without much in the final furlong of the American Derby; my host was concerned about my commandeering of her internet to stream the race. She was worried I was somehow betting against her beautiful rent-controlled apartment I think.

Many of the trainers that started the meet hot have fizzled through the summer doldrums, there is no star trainer, no star jock. Speaking of star jock, be sure to read Claire Novack's piece on Rene Douglas on ESPN. Gives a good sense of the type of people he and his wife are. It just sucks we won't be able to see him race any more; so many quiet summer days in unassuming races you got to see a jock who rode brilliantly, made it look effortless and seemed to have no garish ego that needed assuaging.

The Million looks to be one of the best with Einstien and Gio Ponti ready to square off, not sure what Europeans will make the gate, but this looks to be a really exciting race. Speaking of Einstien, a master of all surfaces, the horseracing world is mired in the synthetics debate. Of course the debate is really about California and little attention is paid to the results in Canada, here and even Keeneland. There's a lot of whining and bullheadedness. Bejarano's jaw surgery, Jackson's refusal to race his champion in the BC, the Del Mar breakdowns and Curlin's loss to evil Europeans (though bred here) are the wedges.

It's too early to say if the synthetic surfaces are safer. The numbers have been ok at Arlington though with Douglas, AP suffered it's most catastrophic breakdown in its 82 year history, so it's difficult context to brag. The commissioner in Cal has admitted to maybe acting rashly in mandating synthetics in the state and many experts are not pleased with the numbers. If there's a breakdown in the BC, it may just be the death knell for the "plastics"

So I'm heading back to the pretty oval on Saturday and have some analysis. A lot of turf racing with the feature being the Gaily Gaily headlined by Communique whose looking to turn a skid around, going a mile and a half on the green stuff.

Race 2 Claiming $25KNL3

The pace could melt in this race. The weathers been mild so maybe the track will be fast; these speedsters will need all the help they can get to hang on. NY Wiseguy gets the rail, which hasn't been a good spot for him. He'll be pressured by Athiest and Trojan War on the front and will likely fold. Fort Apache outclasses the field and comes from off the pace, not to mention runs for the Calhoun barn, which harvests good poly speedsters, though this guy seems to relish sloppy dirt. This son of Mineshaft did not sparkle on the poly in his debut, though he was thrown to the wolves at Keeneland. He seems to comply with his odds and looks to be a big favorite here. The clever bet might be Talon who was recently claimed by Ali Alnaz out of a Churchill race. I'm not a fan of the barn. Athiest is a horse I've followed for a little while. Maybe because the powerful name. This son of Devil His Due, which doesn't really seem to allow for Athiest. The Devil needs a God more than anyone else right, anyway. Athiest has disappointed often and could easily here; he needs the lead more than the others and his turn of foot is explosive but precarious. Trojan War is at the right level, they've peaked him into Allowance company and it's proven too much. He's on the Route-Sprint-Route trajectory and has Quincy Hamilton on his back, but he's prone to wilt when not on the lead too. Will the added pressure of Athiest also prove too much? Perhaps. Exacta bettors like myself could swim for value with either Talon or Bruce Carl who jumps class, thinking Athiest and Trojan will burn each other up, but even the value bin seems too expensive. For all that digression I've gone Chalky.

Fort Apache
Trojan War

Race 3 5F Baby Girls
Who knew Mike Dini bred. One of his mixes, a Lemon Drop Kid concoction named Sweet Lemon Chello, runs again without lasix. She stumbled out of the gate in last and still managed second. But she'll have to get away clean to beat ThatsWhatHeSaid who will be the prohib fave after nearly hitting triple digits in speed against open company. This one is state restricted so hard to make a case against her. I'd love to see Inscript calm down and grab a piece here. Her daddy, Kafwain, sired my favorite 3YO this year. Yes The Pamplemousse whose inefficient gait could have led to the injury or maybe it was the evil synthetic surface impregnating another steed with soft tissue damage. Anyway, if she's calm it might be worth it to put her in your giggles.

Sweet Lemon Chello

Race 4 Mdn 38k F+M
There's no clear advantage for any horse here. Lots of fancy breeding and surface and distance experiments. Chris Block saddles the sure-to-be fave Sensational Gold, who is not Seeking the Gold progeny. Sensational Gold did well at this distance on turf and poorly on this surface in a sprint. If that's enough for you to buy in at 5-2 then spend away. Lexi's Bay is still trying to find herself and I'm not willing to pay for the reveal just yet, though she is experienced and has beaten a few of these with the exception of the fake gold horse. A dark horse I'm gonna use is Twist. The connections aren't strong, but her lackluster performance in last may have resulted from the stumble at the gate (hardly a glowing review, but as you can see I'm scavenging the value bin). Works and breeding are good, gets the apprentice. There is a Dynaformer filly in here that used to be a 2nd tier Pletcher horse. Her name is Home Fries and she gets another outside post in this route, though not as far out as before. The post has kept her wide in her last contests and if Grahm can't tuck her in she could repeat that, but at 6-1 the price is fair. Many of these fillies don't have the distance so the race could be erratic. To round it out I'll use a Kirby horse. Also not a fan of the trainer's recent record, but the distance should work to her favor, her name is AJ's Love.

Home Fries
AJs Love

Race 5 1M Turf
Arlington is slow delivering turf conditions. I'm guessing yielding with the thunderstorms last night, but who knows what the Heights got. I'm assuming the turf will not be close to firm. This works against fave Free Fighter, so he prolly won't make my tickets. The condition may let the most precocious Tight Grip in. Louis Roussel invades from the east with this colt who used to be part of the very very powerful Frankel barn. Unlike most others in here, the mile is perfect for this guy, though he'd need to blaze out of the gate to pick up a good spot in the first turn. The return to the sod was welcome for Mr. Mischief in last who was run down by Southern Anthem but held on for place against a charging Tony Terrific who also gates for this one. Exchanging Kisses will be bet too hard for the class test, but has zip and the rail, not to mention Miller as a trainer. He'll be going for three in a row. Finally, I like Sonny Boy who finished only a length behind Fort Prado in the Black Tie Affair. He likes a yielding turf and has done very well since moving to the Becker barn.

Tight Grip
Mr. Mischief
Exchanging Kisses
Sonny Boy

Well, first post approaches and I have to get my ass into the shower. Good luck Communique. I'd love to see you back in the fold, here's a nice confidence builder for you.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Million Preview Day

Four stakes, three graded. Silver Foot, Giant Oak, Fort Prado, Cosmonaut, Pure Clan, Dynaformer. Big day of turf racing on Saturday. Arlington has long taken pride in its sod; the former caretaker has recently moved on to Dubai. His success here paved the way for the big desert bucks. The angle is international racing, and it's a smart one. I love gate-to-wire American racing, but I'm liking the influence of Euroturf; it's a lot safer. If we can meet somewhere in the middle, then racing casts itself well for a promising future. Now let's talk turf.

The Modesty GII

Why do they have to outfit Pure Clan in a white hood? Can't blame the filly for her fraught sobriquet and headwear. I don't think anyone will stand in her way in the final furlong where she will be rocketing home under the frenchman. She made a huge move in her last race only to be outnodded by ultra classy Acoma. I've liked this dangerous filly for a while. She's adept if some rain falls, as it may on Friday. The frenchman had some traffic issues in the American Oak last week, and that's the only danger, but this is a small field and has some good speed in it.

In the battle for second there's the obvious Dynaforce, who could need a race to round back into form. The Mott mare gets Albarado in the irons after a disappointing 5th at Pimlico on Preakness day. I think she's gonna put that behind her, but won't be able to hold off Pure Clan. In a less obvious vye for bridesmaid I like the Brazilian wonder Colina Verde. She likes 4th place, but so much has not gone her way since shipping here. She's in third from layoff and gets a nice weight of 115 to tote, 7 under top pick. She could surprise here, she may like AP's course.

Tizqueena will set the pace, and Stidham has ascended nicely at AP. I think he's asking this daughter of Tiznow for too much at this distance, but it's clear this horse is a fighter who seems to get over every bit of trouble in her path. It's a tough race to choose, but I think the final furlong she may grdugingly yield.

Pure Clan
Colina Verde

American Derby
Giant Oak. He needs to pull off the Arlington triple to make ducking the triple crown worth it. With Pioneerof the Nile's recent career-ending injury, it seems the Oak is one of the only left standing. He ran well in last and now faces Oil Man and Reb. Both are big threats and Proceed Bee could make a run, although inconsistent, this colt has shown some turn of foot on the sod.

Giant Oak
Oil Man

Chamberlain Bridge has long been Calhoun's other turf sprinter. With Mr. Nightlinger at Calder in the Summit of Speed, Chamberlain is left in the midwest to sweep the heartland chips off the table. I don't see anything getting in the way. St. Joe has been running well, winning last two at Churchill under the frenchman. Leparoux rides again and could threaten top choice, but likely will have one cross before him. Yankee Iniquity would need a nice rail trip and trouble for the others to sack this field.

Chamberlain Bridge
St. Joe
Yankee Iniquity

Arlington Handicap -- The Lovable Geezers
Emigh cut a nice move to the inside on Silverfoot to hit the wire. He had a nice pace to work, which won't be around this time. The owner one-upped Emigh's move by donating the entire purse Silverfoot brought home to the Rene Douglas relief fund. While my heart remains in this roan's corner, my handicappin mind casts a light elsewhere. I like the yougin in the field. Thambazini draws far outside but should be able to dictate the pace. You should demand a price though with the big field and draw. Cosmonaut always does well at Arlington and I expect another big effort from him. Finally look for Silverfoot to hit the board, and saves his best effort for the Million.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekend Recap -- The Future belongs to Crowds

On the national circuit two horses emerged over the weekend at Hollywood Park: Gozzip Girl took the American Oaks drawing off strongly under Sleepy Desormeaux and Zensational zipped through 7 furlongs to capture the Triple Ben. At Arlington the fireworks extravaganza held small fields and huge crowds. And just think it wasn't long ago I was at Hawthorne where the horses almost outnumber the cars in the parking lot.

I was hoping the pools would be skewed toward sucker horses, but the faves won more than lost and there was only one longshot -- from a Maiden claiming race. Maybe Don DeLillo was on to something when starting his excellent novel Mao II with the line: The future belongs to crowds.

So I had two winners, three if you count Southern Anthem. If only I had 10k hanging around. I would have claimed Go Bucky Go who notched his fourth in a row, just toying with this weak 10k field. I would have had to win the shake against Scott Mullins who got to ride Bucky home.

A lot of great races on the docket next weekend. I'll be in California vacationing, but will give the lowdown on Thursday of horses to look out for.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Heading to the oval for the fireworks tomorrow. Hopefully it brings out the nice suburban families and they swell the pools, which funds my fourth brisket. And if not, I'll be in the parking lot with a siphon in mouth trying to score some gas to get back home.

Southern Anthem is prolly the most exciting horse on the card, losing to local hero Giant Oak last out. He'll try 8 and a half furlongs in weak allowance company and will pray for some speed to close into. There are some interesting claiming races from a handicappin perspective, especially in race four -- the fourth. Hmmm. Here we go.

Race 3 18k Claiming F/M, 6f Main
This is one of those Groundhog Day claiming rematches. I swear they collude and send up a new winnner from the same field every time. Just can't figure the rotation.

It's silly to look too hard at breeding at this level, but Sky Mesa has a daughter in the frey, SkyNMighty who clipped home nicely last out giving trainer Hugh Robertson the 1-2 exacta with Sassy Shore Breeze on her heels. This race shortens up a half furlong but more speed is in play with Oil Money's Dream entered. Gentle Lana closed well last out with Razo hugging the rail. I can't imagine a better trip for her with less ground to cover, but she could improve; she has before. I'll be watching the tote closely to see what kind of value I can get with those horses, but with all things equal I see the following finish. Note: Watch SkyNMighty in the paddock -- this fiery filly has a tendency to act up.

(focuses her energy)
Sassy Shore Breeze
Gentle Lana

Race 4 10k Claiming 6f Main

Here we have a handicappin quandry. Go Bucky Go looking to make it 4 in a row drops from a 25k in which he romped, to this modest level. Dale Bennet claimed him for 14k then moved him up to 25k and now down to 10k -- with about a month between his last 3 races. So what happened here? Works are sterling. Either Go Bucky has gone south or they're going for the high churn. BRIS actually has a stat for "Alarming Class Drop" and Bennet has done it 4 times this year, winning half. So this seems a plausible explanation. Sometimes you see a trainer pick up a 10k horse then drop to the nickels to pick up a low-hung purse and some claim money -- Catalano and Reavis do this well. Could be the case here, but still a headscratcher. We'll see what the tote's verdict is.

Though the versatile son of Elusive Quality drops alarmingly, this is one of the toughest 10ks I've ever seen with more than half the field hitting above 90 in their last out. Erdiston from Calabrese/Canani (related to Julio???) will joust on the tote with Bucky. Jaygar Dancer could merit some looks and Maddys Bobcat and Red River Aggie are all in good form, and the front end will be pounding with Pickinupbits and Rocket Rodd set to square off.

I'm looking for a dogfight between Erdiston and Go Bucky. Jockeys Emigh vs. Baird. Baird rode with "ice in his veins" according to John Dooley last out, waiting for a slice of daylight along the rail. Emigh got Bucky bucking early in the 5 and a half furlong sprint in last. My guess is that Bucky will assert his class and Jaygar Dancer closes out the frame.

Go Bucky Go
Jaygar Dancer

Race 5 FM S Alw31500n1x

Here's a nice soft allowance for the ladies. I've cultivated a tepid love affair with Heart Thief -- yeah, I'm one of those you see with the tissues on Maury Povich who people now conclude get what they deserve for fear of seeming an enabler. But, as I said, tepid; this filly could use some gate training, off slowly in all her races I think the jocks are told to go easy on her in the backstretch then let her roll. Hopefully that's what she does, but pay attention to what speed has been doing in the previous races.

There's a coupled entry in here that should be called Value Thief: City Royale and Wildwood Meadow from the Becker barn. No price to be had with this field, so you'll just have to pick the winner and reward yourself with the notion that you're a smart feller or lass. Holly at Law should complete the frame as she usually does.

Heart Thief
Wildwood Meadow
Holly At Law

Race 6 Maiden Claiming 30k 6.5f Main
Another auspicious claiming race oozing with class. Trainer Wayne Catalano squares off against a Calabrese/Miller horse. Calabrese took his horses from Catalano over the winter and now splits them between trainers Canani and Miller, but Catalano still posts a win record north of 30%. Who knows what inner squabbles precipitated this, but Calabrese lacked class in his dismissal. So I'm looking for the Catman to beat up on him. West Web, a former Barclay Tagg charge fills that role for the Catman and Palace Tenor for Calabrese. West Web has been on the bench for over a year, and Palace Tenor has had some trip trouble. But they may be vying for the coins at the bottom of this purse thanks to Lumen, sent to the gate by Hector Magana who got this horse from the powerful Mott barn and tries the polyexperiment.

West Web
Palace Tenor