Friday, March 20, 2015

The Spiral




Maybe the best named stake on the trail. The Spiral is run over polytrack, so that means evil turf horses factor in, and those evil turf horse have this nagging penchant to perform very well in the Kentucky Derby. World Champ Animal Kingdom used the Spiral to get to the Derby. Paddy O'Prado also ran well in the Derby after a shark polytrack performance at Keeneland. The synthetic surface continues to outshine the other surfaces in safety. But nevermind all that. It's not dirt and this is AMERICA! (sigh.)

I'd rather watch a replay of people in a meeting about nametags at a popcorn factory than watch the Rebel again. That was a $750,000 race that no one really tried all that hard in. But let's put that in the rear view mirror. We have an interesting contest here at Turfway.

Not all contestants are TC nominated, but that's OK. I should start with the disclosure that I'm a huge Florent Geroux fan and that the bias has actually made me a ton of money. Yes, he's the one that won a Breeders Cup race aboard Work all Week over a heavily favored Baffert horse. Now that's cause for celebration. Florent gets on a hose from the Amoss barn that's moseying out of the Big Easy to dip the toe in with the big boys. Wireless Future won by much daylight over a suspect field that came off the turf. I like him in this. This son of Scat Daddy is not proven, hasn't run all that fast but I've still got my upset eyes trained on him.

Pletcher brings in Royal Son hoping for a repeat performance after the score in the Battaglia. He gets the rail and will be bet heavily. But it's Pletcher and as I learned next week, you can't discount him.

Metaboss comes in from California with a lot of hype. He draws wide, but that doesn't mean as much at 9 furlongs on the poly. He seems especially dangerous.

Finally Mott sneaks in Dubai Sky who will likely be a factor. Mott knows what he's doing, so you won't get a price but he's likely to sneak into the frame.

Fifty!
$3 Trifecta Wireless Future key over Meta Boss, Royal Son, Dubai Sky ($18)
$3 Trifecta Metaboss key over Wireless, Royal Son, Dubai Sky ($18)
$2 Trifecta Royal Son key over Meta, Wireless, Dubai Sky ($12)
$2 Trifecta Metaboss, Royal Son, Another Lemon Drop


Friday, March 13, 2015

Rebel: The Pharoah Returns


Not much of a betting race, but still a spectacle thanks to all the hype behind American Pharoah (sic). I've never seen this horse race or workout, so I have absolutely nothing to add. I do know that Baffert is probably the best judge of 3YO talent, and yes I say that begrudgingly. I like to trash Baffert, but he's really just delivering to his clients what they ask for. They want the Derby and they want speed. So he's been against banning things like steroids and lasix which make it harder for him to keep a horse on schedule for a specific race. See, there I go again. But he is an outstanding judge of talent, and if he says this horse is better than Dortmund, he's prolly right.

Now, let's spend that $50 and take the Pharoah as a free square. The Truth or Else woke up big time last race (lasix added) and made a huge move. A lot of riders were afraid to travel west of Mr. Z but Borel saw that as his opportunity. This horse has one long good run and he needs to be clear. We have a small field and it's likely he can work out a trip unless he just gets disheartened by the Pharoah's speed. Bold Conquest was ridden poorly last race and should improve. There's also the Pletcher horse MadefromLucky who's won at 9F at Gulfstream. I'll use him a little, but will try to make a little edge opposing him. Velazquez flies in for the ride, but this guy seems like a plodder to me, especially and 8.5F. I could be wrong. This will be his test.

$20 Tri
American Pharoah-Bold Conquest,The Truth or Else-Bold Conquest,The Truth or Else
 ($40)
$10 Tri
American Pharaoh-Madefromlucky-The Truth or Else

Monday, March 9, 2015



When you go chalky over chalky for an exacta you're not allowed to be angry about losing the bob. But I just lost another fucking head bob in the Gotham. It wasn't Junior's fault, still I hope he was forced to muck the stall that night, maybe it would improve his horse-sense. I kid, he's like my fave rider!!! c'mon!!!

The Tampa Bay Derby was on my phone desperately lashing onto the last piece of bandwidth available at the Lincoln Park Zoo where my young boys were running around and screaming primally near the lynxes who eyed my boys with intent. Other zoogoers took note. Meanwhile I was trying to watch a race but the satellites denied me and I had to catch the recap. I did see Carpe Diem making life hard on the gate crew.

The San Felipe exposed an excellent horse in Dortmund who won for fun never really digging in as he had in his last two. Wow! And that's the other Baffert horse. Again a bob made a big difference in the money I collected here, but luckily I did cash a $70 exacta and somehow got locked in at the zoo. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

It's Starting to Get Serious: San Felipe, Tampa Bay Derby and the Gotham



The Gotham takes the award for best name, but that's about all it gets this year besides a trio of Repole maiden winners. I thought the promise of casino-enhanced purses would up the quality at the frozen oval and that would be borne out in races like the Gotham. Well, not so much this year anyhow.

But no fear, the Tampa Bay Derby San Felipe are bursting with equine talent. Let's start with the Felipe.

I like Dortmund. He has his share of haters. Does it seem like tall horses are hated on more? Maybe not. I'm just thinking of Giant Oak and while Zenyatta had way more loves than haters, she also had more haters than most horses. Maybe you're supposed to subtract the difference or something. Not sure how that horse-hating algebra works. Whatever the case, Dortmund right now is a favorite for me. The way he dug in and won his last over Firing Line was very impressive. And according to Big Bob, who every now and then tells the truth, the light bulb has switched on for this scopy son of Big Brown.

Other questions: Will Bolo like dirt? Can Lord Nelson route? Is Prospect Park ready to step up? And then there's Ocho (3) who won a race that I really hate: The Delta Jackpot. The tight corners are good for short sprinters. He gets Smith in the irons but I wouldn't be surprised if this colt took a step backwards.

Fifty Bucks


San Felipe
$10 Exactas
Dortmund key over Ocho, Prospect Park, Bolo, Lord Nelson

$2 Trifecta ($6)
Ocho-Dortmund-PP,Bolo, Lord Nelson

$1 Trifecta
Prospect Park-Dortmund-Bolo, Lord Nelson, Ocho ($3)
Dortmund-Ocho-Bolo

Tampa Bay Derby
For whatever reason Stonestreet has decided to pit their two stars against each other in Tampa. I'm gonna use them in a pretty boring exacta. Divining Rod gets lasix and hopefully a lot of cash thrown at him. I will oppose him.

$25 Exacta Box
Ocean Knight-Carpe Diem

The Gotham
I think Classy Class may have suffered from bad posts. I like the upgrade in jock too. Let's pair him up for an exacta with El Kabeir

Exactas
$40 El Kabeir-Classy Class
$10 Classy Class-El Kabeir


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.

$50
$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.

$50
$5 Trifecta Upstart-Itsaknockout,Frosted-Itsaknockout, Frosted, Juan and Bina, Bluegrass Singer
($30)
$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


Southwest
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.   

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sam Davis

That Quirky Track

Odysseus

Is it the announcer's Porky Pig on amphetamine vocals, the general middle finger pointed at Gulfstream or is it that quirky track that I like about Tampa Bay Downs? All of the above?

There's a scene from the Coen Brothers movie Fargo where the detective interviews some young prostitutes about what a murder suspect (Steve Buschemi) looks like. They say He's, you know, kinda funny lookin. Yah, yah, kinda funny lookin' ya know. The detective redirects Well sure, but how so? You know just funny lookin'. Kinda funny lookin'.

And that is as far as I get when I try to find out what it is about Tampa Bay Downs that makes it "quirky". What type of horse has an advantage? Handicappers will tell you -- well a horse that's you know won there before. Yah, yah, one that likes it there. 

So, the horses that have proven to like it are Catalina Red and My Johnny Be Good. They'll make it onto my tickets, on the underside. I don't really trust either one all that much. Ocean's Knight from the McLaughlin barn brings in the hype with his geared down 4 length maiden victory on Aqueduct's inner. He draws very wide, but I think he'll play a role in this, though not sure I'm willing to accept too much at 5-2, but again, a 12 horse field. I won't be too clever. Ami's Flatter comes from the shrewd Josie Carroll's barn. I think the figure in the Mucho Macho Man is a little inflated, but this horse doesn't quit and with a nice ride should be in contention at the end. Royal Son right now is the horse whose ML I like a lot. He got a DQ win in last and before that took second to El Kabir one of the sharpest colts on the trail right now. Good luck everyone.

$50

$5 Exactas
Royal Son   OVER
Ocean's Knight, Ami's Flatter, Catalina Red
($15)
Ami's Flatter OVER
Oceans Knight, Royal Son, My Johnny Be Good
($15)
Ocean's Knight OVER
Ami's Flatter, Royal Son, Catlina Red, My Johnny Be Good
($20)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Holy Bull Recap: Upstart Runs a Nice One

It was the templated Gulfstream race. Horse with the first look at the turn takes the wire. Fractions weren't all that fast, so the race had very little dimension. Frosted had an inside post but the rail is not exactly where you want to be off a layoff. He never threatened and maybe the most worrisome part of his performance was the aversion to kickback. People who look at the figures will say he moved up, but the figure is bogus.

For Upstart it was a nice effort off the layoff and he got a very smart ride. If no one had challenged BlueGrass Singer he would have stolen the race off those soft figures.

$50
So my $50 got a fairly paltry return at $77, but at least I cashed right?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Fifty Dollar Trail Starts with The Holy Bull

The Holy Bull 

Holy Bull with Mike Smith

Last year trainer Kiaran McLaughlin shipped a hyped roan, son of Pioneerof the Nile, named Cairo Prince who took the wire and the focus of Louisville-oggling rosebirds. This year he brings a roan sired by Tapit named Frosted, who doesn't bring quite as much hype, but gets the rail and will have a lot of backing. Upstart is the other headliner. He's coming off a third in the BC Juvenile. Also, there's Bluegrass Singer who's hitting triple digit speed figures, has a recent race and is on his home oval.

Of course my hometown bias runs against the track bias with an outside post and is the high weight, but maybe it's Hawthorne's year. Work all Week, an aptly named Chicago-trained horse, won an Eclipse last week. I'm talking about Don the Bomb who was tested at Keeneland against nice horses and failed, and many thought he wouldn't be able to route after tiring badly in that Allowance race, but he handled two turns very well at Hawthorne and was pulling away on the nation's second longest stretch (HAW). But, he's faced only plodders; this is a huge class test. I will play him even with the high impost and outside post. He is cross-entered in the Hucheson so he may not make it to the gate. First Down and Frammento will also figure into my wagering. More minor roles,

The Holy Bull has 10 runners which is pretty good for a 3YO stake. This means I don't need to be so clever with the wagering and can tap that chalk more than I usually would.

$3Exactas
Bluegrass Singer   OVER
First Down, Frommento, Don the Bomb (SCRATCH), High Noon, Frosted
($12)

$4 Exacta 
Upstart-Frosted BOX
($8)

$5 Exactas
Bluegrass Singer-Frosted-Upstart BOX
($30)