08/21/2008 4:18PM

Alabama, Genuine Risk, questions


...I have two questions, (1) you said you like the Pick 4 when there is a guaranteed pool, but is there any real value-added of a guaranteed pool if the track doesn't kick in any additional money?   I always thought a guaranteed pool was more of a marketing gimmick than anything else, i.e. a track may guarantee a $100K minimum pool but $120K is bet into it, so the track doesn't have to kick in a penny.  In such a case, is a guaranteed pool any better than a non-guaranteed pool?
Also (2) can you recap some of your recent "drop the old hammer" plays?  Not looking for amounts wagered or anything, just curious which horses you homed in on and whether the plays worked out or not. 
terry f

As for mostly playing Guaranteed Pick 4's, I find it's more psychological than practical.  I know there's going to be a big pool, and for some reason, I'm much more amped up to work on the sequence.  Plus, the Guaranted Pick 4's mostly are comprised of higher-quality stakes races, and I'm familiar with the horses.  As you guys know, ninety percent of my plays are in maiden, stakes, and high-level allowance races.  On a big day, I don't have to worry about "playing the claiming game."  Also, the marketing gimmick seems to work.  I think more money goes into "guaranteed pools" than the regular Pick 4.  A pool that usually would get 120K may get 200K, and the payoffs usually have exceeded the parlay.

We've all had circumstances where we absolutely love a horse, and can't wait to get to the track to play him.  After doing the work for a $50,000 maiden claimer at Saratoga on August 13, I loved Spina.  David Donk doesn't exactly have great numbers with first-time starters, but his runners had been live over the previous week, Spina's workouts jumped off the page, and the outside post position coupled with the low-profile breeding (by first-crop sire During) figured to deter bettors.   He was 8-1 on the morning line.  On my line, 9-2 was acceptable value.  He was 16-1 with two minutes to post.  This was a no-brainer.  I had to "drop the hammer."  No, not like Greg Valentine driving his elbow into Tito Santana's sternum.  No, not like Ivan Putski in his classic wars with Jesse "The Body Ventura."  I had to simply ignore the nagging feeling that the horse was "dead on the board," and that I had somehow missed something.  One of the worst mistakes a horseplayer can make is to be too afraid to play a longshot. 
I loaded up on Spina to Win, he won easily, and I felt like a genius.  Of course, there have been times when I've been wrong, have dropped a bundle, and am seen walking around the track muttering to myself like a Creedmore reject. 


Was there talk of a race together? Was it simply the case that Native Dancer was injured (last race 8/22) before an eventual meeting? If so, why didn't ND's connections take on Tom Fool earlier, like at the Saratoga meet?

Here's what Evan Shipman wrote in his "Review of 1953 Races" in the 1954 American Racing Manual:

"Occasionally in an early season race such as the Suburban Handicap, a venturesome three-year-old will engage his elders.  Such forays have been rarely successful, and caution suggests that late summer or early fall is the soonest that colts can afford to meet horses in the handicap division on anything like equal terms..."

"...Native Dancer, for his part, could hardly have been tempted by the Suburban, but the champion was scheduled to meet Tom Fool at weight-for-age in the mile Sysonby in late September.  His fall program also was to include the Pimlico Special and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  A bruised foot suffered during the running of the American Derby forced Native Dancer to pass up his opportunities to meet Tom Fool and other top older horses, the result being that the Sysonby and Pimlico Special were little more than gallops for Tom Fool..."

"...The trouble, when it came, was not unsoundness, but a stone bruise;  Native Dancer's underpinning had stood up wonderfully under the strain and stress of racing, and this mishap that was to deprive the public of the long-anticipated meeting with Greentree's Tom Fool was purely acccidental..."

One of the great disappointments of my father's life, besides my academic record, was that Tom Fool (his favorite horse) never faced off with Native Dancer.  This wasn't an example of cowardice, or an example of tracks writing races so that either ND or TF wouldn't face each either while increasing their stud value.  It merely was in the fates.  Native Dancer was injured, and the matchup never took place.


Also, could you post the PPs for some of the best female sprinters of our generation such as Safely Kept, Soviet Problem, Track Gal, Missy's Mirage, Meafara, Xtra Heat etc, and who do you think is the best of them all?

Here are the past performances you requested.  I'd like to hear who you think was best of these fillies and mares.

Download SprintGals.pdf


Hi Dan,
Enjoy the blog.  Wondering if you had any recollections of Black Ruby, the famed mule who just retired.  Does the DRF keep PPs on her?
Keep up the great work.

She might be the most famous mule racer of all time.  Here are her past performances as well as some DRF stories:

Download BlackRuby.pdf




Anyone know what the deal with Fabulous Strike is?  I don't see him on the disabled list, but it's been awhile since I got a work notice on him.

I'll have to add him to the Disabled List (pardon me for being so far behind).  He ripped off a piece of the frog on the bottom of his front left foot while training for the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga. 


can you tell me where to find the story that the mitch freidman horse pp's are posted  for. the question asking the pp's and the followup indicate a "backstory"



Look for Monmouth to create a big purse turf race for Big Brown with all the conditions to his liking for 9/13 or 9/20 . Track owes him one for saving their meet by running in the Haskell. otherwise this has been the worst meet I have seen in the past 20 years, almost un-bettable...

So it was written...so it has come to pass:



Could you give us Sarafan's PP's?  It's not often a retired racehorse gets to be a TV star. That is, if they ever show that episode on "The Cleaner".

Download Sarafan.pdf


Once again, I'm sorry for the sporadic postings.  Saratoga alone is usually difficult to get through, but I have some other projects in the fire as well.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the Travers Day stakes races as well as some other questions and comments.




Nice picks and analysis from our posters.  We had Magical Fantasies, Wassermans, Grand Couteriers, and plenty of other excellent winners.  Congrats, and hope everyone scored out.

BillG More than 1 year ago
Alan, Here are Saturday's contest picks: Arlington: FORT PRADO Del Mar: TRANSDUCTION GOLD Thanks. In the Travers I like Mambo,Colonel J, Tres Borrachos, and Macho Again.
BillG More than 1 year ago
Alan, Here are Sunday's contest picks. What a card at Del Mar tomorrow. My brain is fried. BALLERINA: JIBBOOM RANCHO B.: DEAREST TRICKSI PAT OBRIEN: REBELLION DMR MILE: WHATSTHESCRIPT PACIFIC CL.: MAST TRACK Thanks and good night to all.
Kenny Mac More than 1 year ago
The Travers is a wide open race. You could make a strong case for just about anybody in here and I wouldn't disagree. I'll try to make a case for Court Vision. He sorely needed the Blinkers after the Wood and got bounced about in the Derby. Off the layoff he made a late rally on the soft turf and next out got the distance and now goes turf to dirt third off the layoff at a square price. The Ieah gang could be smiling in the end.
crazy rob More than 1 year ago
James Mc, 2:02.49 is my pick for the Travers.
larryk More than 1 year ago
DMR Frid Thoughts: 1-like 3 and 5 at a price 2-3,2 4-9,5,11 7-10 8-11,8,9
GunBow More than 1 year ago
Steve T, I like your terminology for slow bettors as "phone book bettors". Sometimes it does seem as if people are going through the entire phone book at the window and thowing every number in their bet. My friends and I coined them novelists, because it seemed like they were taking enough time to write a book at the window.
GunBow More than 1 year ago
Dan, another excellent post. Thanks for addressing the reason why there was never a Native Dancer-Tom Fool meeting. Interesting to know your Dad's favorite horse was Tom Fool. Frankly, not having seen Tom Fool's races and only his pps, I feel he is a tad overrated and can't believe he's ranked ahead of Affirmed (11th and 12th respectively) in the Bloodhorse Top 100. What made Tom Fool THAT great in the eyes of your father and so many others? Dan, thanks also for the past perfromances of Sarafan, Black Ruby, and the great female sprinters of the 90s. Sarafan was a personal favorite and I saw him in person win the 02' Eddie Read, run 2nd in both the 02' Kilroe Mile and Arlington Million (beaten by a head and neck), and run a close 4th in the 04' Kilroe. Black Ruby was an amazing mule and was quite the sensation in California in the early years of this decade. Looking at her pps, I noticed she had winning streaks of 16, 12 and 10, and after one of her losses to Taz reeled off 26 of 27 and 31 of 33. I think her September 8th, 2002 match race against longtime rival Taz came in the morning at Del Mar. From what I remember, Del Mar officials were dubious about the interest in a mule race so they scheduled it in the morning. These officials were shocked, to say the least, when thousands got there early to see Black Ruby beat Taz. Correct me if my memory is off. Those are 5 super sprinting fillies and mares Dan featured. I was a big fan of Soviet Problem. She was so big, smooth and elegant and accomplished a feat that should be rarer and rarer- winning 2 match races. She defeated the male, Lazor, on dirt in NoCal, and then beat the excellent female, Mamselle Bebette, on the turf. However, if I were to rank the 5, I would put Xtra Heat ahead of her and Safely Kept first. Xtra Heat won 26 of her 35 career races, and was in the money 33 times, with one of those two non-placings occurring in her only route race. Safely Kept won at an even higher rate, going 24 for 31 while NEVER finishing worse than 4th. Ironically, she won the Breeder's Cup Sprint when she was 2nd best(Dayjur jumping shadows) and ran 2nd when I feel she ran best(putting away the insanely fast Olympic Prospect only to be nailed at the wire by Dancing Spree).
johnnyz More than 1 year ago
Buffalo Joe, Glad you enjoyed the Ivarone interview. I'll tell you, I am really glad I listened to it. As you well know Byk was not easy on him. You can't help coming away from that without somewhat of a positive perspective in regard to Ivarone's and IEAH's view, and business like decisions made so far. I really like Big Brown the horse. After hearing what I feel were very candid, and honest answers from the "horses" mouth---it will now be much easier for me to root for BB! BTW, that little play on words with Bolts pedigree is a Formblog classic, how clever. And Tinky, by all means don't take that as a bash towards you. While I don't always agree with your thoughts, theorys, etc. I do enjoy your post. Have a question for you Tinky. While several great races this weekend, the one I am really want to see is the Victory Ride S. at the Spa. Indyanne is right up there with Zenyatta with the WOW factor. I find it amazing that Gilchrist keeps coming up with these speed balls. How the heck does he do that, IYO?
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
Alan, I don't think Uncle steve owns Lethal heat ....yet. Negotiations are ongoing...
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Justin..Zayat connections I hope Haramati came out of his race ok, I saw the spill he almost took when Copper Forest veered 2-3 paths out from the rail in the stretch. (Arlington #5 8/21) and veered into him, The jockey of Haramati was lucky to stay on over his neck... I hope he comes out of the race ok, and I thought this was a just penalty (CF DQ) ..................... Stephen Taylor I'll look for Cooler on the Lake for his next start...Grayston looked real strong on the lead & finished well in Arlington # 4. Best of luck next out... & Katieattherail..ahhh "Grayston" is a PGH. SR Vegas