10/13/2016 12:15PM

Anchor Down the road in Kelso

During the 2014 FormBlog Convention at Gulfstream Park, Anchor Down made a strong impression with his 94-Beyer victory over a solid bunch.
Here's what I wrote about the gray son of Tapit in the March 5, 2014 edition of the blog:
"Don't think he's the Derby winner, but Todd Pletcher's ANCHOR DOWN was a good-looking winner at Gulfstream during the FormBlog Convention. One of my opinions for the weekend was that MYOSITIS DAN was primed for a good effort at 13-1 odds in an entry-level optional claimer. Myositis Dan made a bold move to split horses and take the lead on the turn, but Anchor Down "hulked up," re-rallied, and shrugged him off after a couple of strides. Myositis Dan tried all the way to the wire, but wasn't beating Anchor Down, a $250,000 half-brother to Grade 1 winner Sweet Lulu by Tapit."
A week later, I was either still swooning over Anchor Down's win, or agonizing about Myositis Dan's defeat, because I profiled Anchor Down (along with future Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Bobby's Kitten) as a "horse to watch."
The opinion among the bloggers assembled at Gulfstream that weekend was that Anchor Down was a well-bred and talented late-developer. We figured he was a stakes horse in the making.
We didn't expect it to take this long.
Unfortunately for Anchor Down fans, he went right to the sidelines after his Gulfstream start and missed over a year with injury. He was okay in the first few races of his comeback including a 101-Beyer victory at 1 1/16 miles on July 12, 2015, but seemed to lack the explosiveness displayed as a 3-year-old. That win preceded seven consecutive losses. 
While close in some good races earlier this year (placed fourth in both the Gulfstream Park Handicap and Carter Handicap), it appeared that Anchor Down had settled in as a high-level optional claimer or middling Grade 3-type, an example of a "what might have been" horse denied his destiny due to injury.
Then, on May 7 at Belmont, Anchor Down caught a series of beneficial circumstances that propelled him to the first graded victory of his career, the Westchester Stakes. The Westchester was contested over a sealed, muddy track and featured a short field devoid of speed. That allowed Anchor Down to grab the bull by the horns early and he never looked back. 
It was easy to be skeptical of the 105 Beyer earned in the Westchester as Anchor Down overcame no adversity. Subsequent defeats in Grade 1 races were difficult to analyze. Anchor Down was second in the Metropolitan Handicap, but wasn't within shouting range of Frosted at the wire. Considering the way Frosted ran that day, it was hard to imagine many horses in the country stepping with him, let alone Anchor Down. Did he overachieve in running second in the prestigious Met, or was it a case where someone had to run second, and it just happened to be Anchor Down? In the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes, Anchor Down broke slowly from the rail, rushed up into the pocket and might have found the 6-furlong distance a bit too sharp. 
Last Saturday, Anchor Down stretched back out to a mile in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap and found a similar situation as the Westchester. The Kelso only featured five horses and none of them were blazers from the gate. The key to the race was whether OCEAN KNIGHT, previously a pacesetting runner-up to Jockey Club Gold Cup entrant PROTONICO would grab the lead from the inside and force Anchor Down to take up a chasing role.
As you saw in the video, Joel Rosario wasn't aggressive on Ocean Knight out of the gate. That gave Anchor Down the lead and a fairly-easy opening quarter of 23.30 down the straightaway. TAMARKUZ slowly put on some pressure through the second quarter, but the damage was done. Anchor Down faced Tamarkuz's challenge in the stretch and flicked him away under a hand ride. He stopped the clock in 1:32.90, a timing good enough for a 108 Beyer. 
"We'll wait and see how he comes out of it," Pletcher answered track publicity when asked about Anchor Down's next engagement. "I would probably think a one-turn mile is a little more to his liking [than the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita going two turns]. We'll enjoy this one for the moment, but if I were guessing right now I'd probably lean toward the Cigar Mile."
Off the cold dope, Anchor Down is going to look pretty good in the Cigar at what could be decent odds. He's won two graded stakes around a one-turn mile this year with big numbers and appears to be coming into the race in career form after looking strong in the stretch of the Kelso. 
Peeling back the onion a bit, however, handicappers must ask themselves if Anchor Down is as good as he appears on paper. Both of his wins came with gorgeous pace and trip scenarios. Yes, he appears to be a killer when left to his own devices on the lead, but can he beat better horses with a more strenuous setup?
Personally, I think his representative races are the Gulfstream Park Handicap (100 Beyer) and Met Mile (98 Beyer). In the Cigar, I will upgrade him if it appears he can control the pace as he did on Saturday, of it the price is too juicy to avoid.
What do you think?
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 10/5/16 - 10/11/16
1. PHOTO CALL - 109 - First Lady Stakes (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 8Oct16-7KEE
2. ANCHOR DOWN - 108 - Kelso Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile - 8Oct16-5BEL
3. VYJACK - 107 - City of Hope Mile (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 8Oct16-8SA 
4. MISS TEMPLE CITY - 106 - Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 8Oct16-9KEE
5. HEART TO HEART - 105 - Knickerbocker Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 10Oct16-9BEL
6. A. P. INDIAN - 104 - Phoenix Stakes (G2) - 6 Furlongs - 7Oct16-8KEE
6. HOPPERTUNITY - 104 - Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 8Oct16-10BEL
6. PURE SENSATION - 104 - Belmont Turf Sprint Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - 8Oct16-7BEL
9. JAMYSON 'N GINGER - 103 - Md Sp Wt 75k - 1 Mile - 9Oct16-7BEL
10. WAKE UP IN MALIBU - 102 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - OC 62k/N2X -N
10. LADY ELI - 102 - Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 8Oct16-6BEL
12. BLUE TONE - 101 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - 7Oct16-7SA 
13. EYE LUV LULU - 100 - OC c-40k/N2X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 9Oct16-5BEL
13. I'M A CHATTERBOX - 100 - Spinster Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles  - 9Oct16-9KEE
15. LORD NELSON - 99 - Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) - 6 Furlongs - 8Oct16-4SA 
16. MONGOLIAN SATURDAY - 98 - Woodford Stakes (G3) - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 8Oct16-5KEE
17. CAMELOT KITTEN - 96 - Hill Prince Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 8Oct16-9BEL
17. JOHN JONES - 96 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 1 Mile - 8Oct16-9LRL
19. RAPSCALLION - 95 - Clm 40000 - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 7Oct16-7BEL
20. CURLIN'S FOX - 93 - Swingtime Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 8Oct16-5SA 
20. HOT SEAT - 93 - Alw 79640N2L - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 11Oct16-7PRX
20. RED RAZZO - 93 - Alw 66800N2R - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 9Oct16-9PRX
20. SLIP THE CABLE - 93 - West Virginia Breeders' Classic - 1 1/8 Miles - 8Oct16-8CT 
24. COMMUTE - 92 - OC 80k/C - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 8Oct16-3WO 
24. ROMAN APPROVAL - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 6Oct16-8BEL
PHOTO CALL's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
EYE LUV LULU was claimed for $40,000 by trainer John Toscano Jr. from Jason Servis.
*You can access free video analysis of some of the weekend's top races beginning Thursday late afternoon at http://video.drf.com/
Mike Beer, Matt Bernier and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 3pm ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com. This week, we'll cover Belmont, Keeneland and Santa Anita
You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Congrats to Samuel Proud for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Samuel Proud selected Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup from Keeneland as this week's exercise. 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.
The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"
As an example :
HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!


PHOTO CALL.pdf800.25 KB
Copy of HG 10 8 16 Shadwell Turf.xls52.5 KB
HGQEII.pdf230.04 KB