Saturday, February 27, 2010


Appropriately named Derby prep race this week. Giacomo got the show money in it a couple years back. None of the horses have gone the distance on Pro-Ride, none are stakes winners, many just graduated from maiden. The big barns like Baffert, Harty, Oneil, McPeek and Mandella send candidates, but all of them seem subpar or not primed. Kettle River, a Harty boy, shows a lot of promise but had a small setback in his training. It's a blemish, but no one comes in without one so I'm gonna use him in my exactas.

Bejarano who can't stop winning hops off Nextdoorneighbor for Setsuko, which doesn't flatter Next but I think this decision is probably based on the Mandella business that he wants to keep, Machowsky who trains wunderkind Caracortado, only has 13 horses in his stable so Bejarano prolly went with the money. I'm gonna play Next atop a lot of tickets because he seems to be moving upward not sputtering like many others in here. He should sit a clean trip and have gas in the last furlong.

And it'd be crazy not to look for some value in here, so I'll play Alfie's Best a little bit and keep Setsuko around to hedge. I'm gonna try to beat Baffert in this spot.

Fifty Bucks
$10 exacta Nextdoorneighbor, Setsuko/Kettle River ($20)
$5 exacta  Nextdoorneighbor, Alfie's Bet/The Program ($10)
$5 trifecta Nextdoorneighbor, Setsuko/Kettle River, Setsuko/Kettle River ($10)
$5 exacta Kettle River/Setsuko, Nextdoorneigbor ($10)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Star is Born -- Maybe Two

I had a hunch with Eskendereya -- yeah yeah, sure you did. I did. I just didn't play it as hard as I should have. I watched the first level allowance he cruised through and hit the exacta for ten bucks, which was pretty small after a gate scratch knocked out one of the big contenders. Still it was apparent then that he was the genuine article and assumed the lead because the cheap speed wasn't going fast enough. He pulled away and ran in what probably wasn't his preferred style -- if a horse can win not running in his preferred way, that's a horse to watch. So now Pletcher holds an ace. 2YO form is no longer very significant.

In the Southwest Conveyance impressed. Running down Dryfly who came out of the front end battle with the beginnings of a stress fracture. Kudos to the connections for the thorough scope that'll allow Dryfly to recoup without surgery. People may knock Conveyance because Dublin was moving quicker at the end, but having gutted out the duel with Dryfly proved a lot to me -- he'd had to deal with much softer fractions in California. And people are gonna get behind the revitalized Dublin who closed very well after some trouble in the early parts. So he's passed the two turn test, but for some reason I think he's gonna have a tough time getting a trouble-free trip. Maybe I'm being harsh since this was his first off the layoff and post-surgery, but I see a lot of Dunkirk in this one.

Finally the Risen Star was a pretty bad race. I wouldn't trust the form. Speed reigned and no one really took a big step forward. So Louisiana will have to sit in the shadows for now.

Meanwhile Tampa Bay had an interesting run from a lively chestnut from the Albertani barn. Odysseus emerged from a Wednesday conditioned allowance looking really sharp and explosive. I really loved watching this guy on the turn for home. The jock let him do what he knew he could do. It was very impressive.

Fifty Bucks:
So, I notched a $6 exacta in the Fountain of Youth which returned a little over a bill, but paid dearly for doubting Conveyance. Dryfly's injury and Dublin's rough trip didn't help, but really I had fifty bucks; no excuses. I'll give myself a break in the Big Easy. Speed held and maybe I should  have planned for that too, but, you know, whateva.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Risen Fountain of the Southwest

First off, hoping for the speedy recovery of Lyndie Wade who took a nasty spill turning for home atop the filly Millenium Park on Friday. He fractured some vertebrae in the crash which will sideline him for 4-6 weeks, and Millenium Park had to be put down. Wishing him the best.

Onto the trail. We're all over the map this weekend. It's enough to scatter a humble man's brains. Dublin is the biggest winner from the Southwest's redraw. I've gone back and forth around this horse, whether or not I can see him as a new horse after the surgery or a return to the old Dublin that won. The propitious redraw was enough to swing the pendulum in his favor. The more I hear about Dryfly, the more I like. And I've thought less of the closing horses because, if they couldn't close in the Smarty Jones when the last furlong was a crawl why should they able to close now? For the Foutain of Youth I really like Jackson Bend. He's been working great and should be able to get a better trip. I feel less certain about Buddy's Saint because of the layoff and Eskedreya looked great in that first level allowance, but there's still too much we don't know about these guys. And then there's the anti-chalk pics of Aikenite, Pulsion and Prince Will I Am. I'll use them in my exotics. And now the Big Easy. I really like Drosselmeyer in this spot. I also like the big time closers Ron the Greek and Stay Put. Amoss always has a nice string at Arlington and I've cashed many a ticket with him -- of course that's a claiming circuit and Amoss is in loftier territory here. Stay Put may be overlooked even though he has two wins over the track and closed very nicely in last off some dull fractions. He's probably my value pick of all three stakes this weekend. Good luck everyone!

Fifty Bucks
Foutain of Youth
$1 trifecta 5,2 with 5,2,8 with 2,3,1,6,8
$6 exacta box 5/2/8

Risen Star
$10 exacta Drosselmeyer over Stay Put/Ron the Greek/Discretely Mine
$5 exacta box Stay Put/Ron the Greek
$5 exacta Stay Put, Drosselmeyer
$5 exacta Ron the Greek, Drosselmeyer

$10 exacta Dryfly over Dublin/Conveyance
$5 exacta Dublin over Dryfly/Conveyance
$5 WPS Dryfly
$3 trifecta Conveyance, Dryfly, Dublin
$2 trifecta Conveyance, Dublin, Dryfly

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Weekend Recap

Yet another cancellation. The clods in Arkansas were shattering goggles. D Wayne was the only one looking at the silver lining, noting his regally bred Dublin could draw a better post now. And the post will be important if you want your horse to settle under what could be a boiling pace. But we'll worry about that in a later post.

Scarface, or Caracortada, whose namesake is pictured a couple posts earlier swept up the shotgun couple of American Lion and Tiz Chrome. Those Tiz colts simply couldn't reach the finish line. I was hoping the Lion might save my exacta, but the spoiler horse Dave in Dixie denied that. So I was shamefully blanked after pointing to Scarface as a viable longshot -- my cappin and wagerin didn't correspond, and that's something I need to be more vigilant about. No excuse for not cashing. It appears Tiz Chrome is a sprinter. I think people may have been overly excited by his dirt form -- a Baffert horse with dirt form! But the route form was never established and still isn't. A point of intrique for this race was Caracortado's gallop out. He hung his head awful low. He's gonna need to get another furlong, so that's cause for worry, but minor worry right now as he blew by the top pair with utter professionalism.

Rule dispatched the Davis field and looked great doing so. He was on the front and had the big target on his back, but he repelled all bids. Uptowncharley once again showed a lack of focus at the top of the stretch. He may get blinks next out, but this is an intriquing horse. They'll tighten the screws another turn and keep him in Tampa, even though that closing kick seems to scream Fair Grounds.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Robert Lew Part II, Sam D and the Onus of the Target

Last week jockey Richard Migliore, the Mig, gave a clinic at the Whirlaway Stakes on the mental precariousness of the three year old thoroughbred  in February. He watched eightyfiveinafifty's races and gate works, and he saw a pattern. An angle. Eightfive always broke flat-footed.

The Mig knew that eightyfive had posted the highest speed figure of any 3YO, but he also knew eightfiveinafifty didn't have to work through any tough spot that might in some way interfere with that explosive turn of foot. The Mig knew he broke flat so he saw his opportunity. He would guide his mount in front of eightyfive and steal the rail, making jockey Chavez commit early to a position. Chavez responded by asking the eightyfive for run, which may have been like dropping a pail of cold water on someone that was sleeping. Eightfive got the rail, but did so akwardly. There was worry about how he'd handle two turns, but he was already out after one. The Mig's tactic rattled the colt and Chavez made the wrong move, though neither are to blame for what would happen next. Eightyfive would crash through the temporary rail then hop another. He was found by a security guard on the backstretch with torn reins and a bit that some say was broke others say wasn't.

Because eightfive was such a "sure thing", Aqueduct moved the Whirlaway to be the third race on the card so as not to dillute the pick 6 with a free square. This was supposed to be prefunctory for eightyfive, sent off at 3-5 or so in a field of 6.

So how do we apply this knowledge to the Robert Lewis and Sam Davis? Tiz Chrome also looks precocious and also hasnt gone two turns. He'll likely be the prohib fave. And what about Rule in the Davis? Pletcher had talked about wanting to rate this colt, but with the rail won't his hand be forced? Well, I wish I knew how best to stray from the chalky option. The theme I've held this week is no forgiveness for last out. Sometimes you need to let a horse build off last, in the case of the Davis, Middle of the Nite would have to improve dramatically both the way he starts and finishes to match rule or even uptowncharleybrown. I'm going to oppose that. The only interesting plays I have are the horses getting the class test: Coracortado, uptowncharley and Schoolyard Dreams.  I can't ignore American Lion as much as I'm tempted to, this cat can bite. I think his problems may stem from getting lazy on the lead in the stretch, which you can't do in California. But that shouldn't be a huge threat as he's not facing a tough closer. You could play the pace meltdown with Dave in Dixie, but I think Tiz Chrome will not falter and American Lion, unlike Middle of the Nite, has not thrown in the towel when he sees he can't win.

Fifty Bucks
Robert Lewis
$25 exacta Tiz Chrome-American Lion
$10 exacta American Lion-Tiz Chrome
$10 exacta Tiz Chrome-Coracortado
$2 exacta box Coracortado/American Lion
$1 exacta Dave in Dixie-Tiz Chrome

Sam Davis
$35 Exacta Rule-Uptowncharleybrown
$15 exacta uptowncharleybrown-Rule

$1 trifecta Conveyance,Dryfly/Conveyance,Dryfly,Dublin/ Dublin, Kitty's Turn,Mission Impazible,Pleasant Storm ($14)
$5 exacta box Dublin-Dryfly ($10)
$3 exacta key Conveyance-Mission Impazible, Kitty's Turn ($6)
$5 W Conveyance, Dryfly ($10)
$5 exacta Conveyance-Dublin
$5 exacta Dryfly-Conveyance

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Robert Lewis

It's a rule of handicapping that when picking an exacta you don't simply take the top two horses. The reasoning is simple, a lot of horses lose heart when they get passed and throw in the towel. I've come back to this logic after watching a few races at Gulfstream this week. The same logic can be put forth in not choosing a horse that comes in second a lot as the most logical to win next out -- one of those about-to-breakthroughs are probably better classified as hangers. How do these ideas guide me through the Robert Lewis? Well, obliquely I guess. The best two horses in this race are American Lion and Tiz Chrome, and I'll play that exacta, but I may play another just as hard.

There's some scuttle that Tiz Chrome may not be as precocious as the hype suggests. That maybe people are overvaluing his maiden strike at Churchill. There's talk of his inability this past week to pass a stablemate in a workout. But I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt, a Tiznow colt will likely be able to stretch out and I think there could be some serious talent brewing here.

For my second pick I'm going with Coracortado. This guy starts at Fairplex in a claimer going four furlongs and four wins later is in the Robert Lewis. In all of his wins the second place horse has also come back to win, so it's hard to debate quality even though the connections aren't the usual suspects. I'm not sure if he's a Derby horse, but he looks awful good in this spot.

American Lion has the great fortune to have the frenchman on his back. His skills have made his last two wins possible. I didn't like the very last win all that much and am debating if the slight regression is something he can build off of or a crack in the veneer. I'm gonna use him to fill out an exacta and maybe put some coin for him on top, but I'm not as confident in him as many others are.

Fifty Bucks
It's only February so spikes in thoroughbred growth are expected. We may not see it coming; therefore my exotic dancing will be relegated to the exacta -- which is about as exotic as a wet t-shirt contest.

I've strayed from the topic.

I'm going to use the three mentioned above. I've heard Coracortada translates to Scarface. So, say hello to my little friend.

$4 exacta box Coracortada/Tiz Chrome/American Lion ($24)
$16 exacta Tiz Chrome-American Lion
$5 exacta American Lion-Tiz Chrome