Friday, February 27, 2015

To the Swale

I think the Swale is going to get more and more popular as a way to open the 3YO season. It's very Pletcherian. Go light and short on the horse until just before showtime. Then again maybe it won't catch on, Pletcher doesn't really have good numbers for the Derby.

Daredevil returns to racing in this year's Swale and he doesn't scare everyone off. Ready for Rye, Super Colossal and XY Jet will also gate up in this 7 furlong dash. Rain is expected, which seems to help the devil but also Ready for Rye. There's a lot of speed in this and a good amount of class and high breeding.

Daredevil isn't a lock and I never like to see a rail draw after a freshening, but I think he's just a lot faster than the rest of these. Ready for Rye and Super Colossal should round it out.

$25 Ex Daredevil-Ready for Rye
$25 Ex Daredevil-Super Colossal

Friday, February 20, 2015

Risen Star, Fountain of Youth and the Southwest (Redux)

Lots of racing this weekend as the polar vortex tightens its grip on us middle westerners and easterners (whom am I forgetting?). The skin on my shins is as dry as a Cheerios box. But this! This is as deep as the abyss gets! St. Paddys day is less than a month away. So hang in there railbirds. And remember to keep those tongues off the rail.

Fountain of Youth
The Holy Bull was a boring race, and that's why I've been endlessly analyzing it. It's too boring, there has to be some kernel of knowledge lurking in it. So far this is what we know. Bluegrass Singer had some sort of shoe problem. Frosted doesn't like kickback. Upstart was flawless. Form cycles reveal little beyond the idea that everyone should improve off last effort. Pletcher brings in a sharp winner who might dazzle, but given Upstart's natural talent and experience, he'll need the shape of the race to play a big role -- but it could. Another X-factor is Javier Castellano jumps off Bluegrass Singer and onto the rail horse Juan and Bina. They're next to each other in the gate. Juan and Bina didnt want to rate last out and I think his tactics will change especially with the rail, and I expect him to move forward. He and Bluegrass Singer could slug it out and push those fractions harder, which could make it harder on Upstart.

$5 Trifecta Upstart-Itsaknockout,Frosted-Itsaknockout, Frosted, Juan and Bina, Bluegrass Singer
$10 Ex Itsaknockout-Upstart
$10 Ex Frosted-Upstart

The Risen Star
This looks like an exciting race. Lots of shape to it. You have some speedballs on the rail and some late acceleration sprinkled throughout the wider posts. This is the race where Pyro was full of fire, and I think we're going to see another closer rise to the occasion. Even with the possible scratch of Bach. Imperia will take a lot of money and it makes sense. This Darley horse has run over turf for most of his career and has done well over dirt. International Star is a NY bred owned by rhe Ramseys and trained by Maker. Also started as a turfer, but after winning the LeComte this son of Fusiachi has signaled he wants more. Finally there's War Story who ran a nice drill at Oaklawn last week. KD picks up the mount. I see these three battling at the wire.

$25 Exacta Imperia-War Story
$10 Trifecta Impaeria-International,War-International, War
$5 Exacta Imperia-War Story

Usually Baffert sends a speedball to Arkansas but not this year. Anerican Pharoh is likely to deign the oval with his presence in the Rebel, but today we have a slugfest with the aptly named Hillbilly Royalty and maybe Far Right is somehow semantically connected, but maybe that's a reach.

I'd love to see a surprise horse emerge. Maybe Bold Conquest, The Truth or Else or Kantune. But the three big players are the Hillbilly who's undefeated from the barn that brought us fan-favorite Caleb's Posse. I'd love for then to have another. The Truth or Else gets lasix and hasn't come within single digits in high class races. Bold Conquest is the other Asmussen horse who makes his 3YO debut and never really threatened in the Futurity at Keeneland. Kantune recently broke his maiden over this dirt defeating none other than Mr. Tickle.

And now for the big heavily-betted horses: Mr Z is a headcase, Far Right needs room for his late kick, Hillbilly Royalty will have to step up his game a little. Bayerd might like it if some rain hits the track.

$28 Exacta Far Right-Mr. Z
$10 Exacta Mr. Z-Far Right
$3 Tri  Far Right-Mr. Z-Hillbilly Royalty, Bayerd ($6)
$2 Tri Mr. Z-Far Right-Bayerd, Hillbilly Royalty ($4)
$2 Exacta Far Right-Bold Conquest

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Robbie Lewis and My $50 Bindle

Big Day at Santa Anita

I'll Have Another (RL Winner)

Maybe you read Haskin's article about the San Antonio this weekend. The opportunity we get for a nice rivalry of "male horses". Because apparently female rivalries really don't matter as much and can't capture mainstream attention. Slight cringe, but yes, Shared Belief and California Chrome make the Antonio an exciting race even if mainstream outlets will likely be indifferent to it.  

Of course, Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra were racing's last tap into mainstream media. They had groupies. They had Oprah. They had Vogue. A 60 Minutes piece! Haskin! WTF are you talking about?

Still, this is a race that fans are eager for, and I shouldn't blame Haskin for making every effort to hype it. The rivalry isn't there (they've only met once and neither made the exacta) and it isn't likely to be there given Chrome's plans to race in Dubai where 4-year-olds can win $10M instead of the $500k this weekend. Purse structures in the States don't promote a rivalry that might go on past the age of 3. We were lucky to have Zenyatta and are still lucky to have Wise Dan. Horses whose owners don't /didn't really give a shit about the incentives racing created for them, at least not as much as they do about their horses.  

Bodemeister and I'll Have Another (pictured above) flirted with a rivalry but both were injured before the last jewel of the Triple Crown had been set. And this is my segue into the 3YO race on the card this Saturday. The Robbie Lewis. This isn't much of a wagering affair, but the show must go on. Dortmund tries to stay undefeated and Firing Line looks for revenge after losing a bob to the former. 

$10 Trifecta
Dortmund-Firing Line-Rock Shandy
Dortmund-Firing Line-Tizcano

$30 Exacta
Firing Line-Dortmund

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sam Davis Recap

Just like the caller, I got the wrong horse. Well, not really. I sheepishly grabbed the chalk but had no eye for Divining Rod. Must be oil under that quirky track because the rod was tumesced and ready to steal the race. He was only a few steps away from getting it done. Ocean Knight was running wide to stay clear of the scrum and that nearly cost him the race to the longshot who grabbed the front and never let go. Stonestreet is happy to parade their smart Curlin boy. This was a workmanlike win, but he seemed pretty mature for a colt in his second race. It'll be fun to see what this 3YO an unfurl. He doesn't have the mighty shoulders of his dad, but certain drugs that help that are no longer legal. 

In other trail news, the Pharaoh has returned and the Calculator is off. Texas Red lost by a hair turning back to a one-turn race. Next week I'll head to California for the Robbie Lewis. I think Dortmund will be the star attraction. They make good beer in that town, but do good horses take its name? We shall see.