09/11/2013 3:03PM



Trainer Aidan O'Brien may have another top-class European with AUSTRALIA, a regally-bred juvenile by Galileo out of seven-time Grade/Group 1 winner Ouija Board. 

Australia made his debut in a seven-furlong maiden event at The Curragh on June 30 and completely missed the break.  Despite racing greenly throughout, Australia made up considerable ground only to drop a neck decision. 

Twenty days later, Australia won his maiden in a similar event.  While he didn't dazzle with his margin of victory (he only triumphed by 3/4 of a length over Carla Bianca, a filly that returned to finish fourth in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes), he seemed a bit more professional than in his debut. 

Last Saturday, Australia caught the eye with a dominating performance in the Group 3 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes going one mile at Leopardstown.  The 5-2 second choice in the four-horse field, Australia patiently tracked the two pacesetters into the straight.  Once asked just a bit by his rider, Joseph O'Brien, Australia exploded past the highly-regarded favorite, FREE EAGLE, to score by six lengths.  He received a 113 Racing Post Rating for the effort and is being quoted as low as 6-1 for next year's Epsom Derby. 

Although it's difficult to project future stardom from one romp in a four-horse field, the way he dispatched of Free Eagle, a 2-5 shot that had earned a 100 Racing Post Rating for a facile debut win on August 15, was startling. 

Ouija Board won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2004 and 2006 and finished second in that race behind Intercontinental in 2005.  She took both the English and Irish Oaks as a 3-year-old filly in 2004 and defeated males in both the Hong Kong Vase and Prince of Wales's Stakes.  Campaigned by trainer Ed Dunlop for Lord Derby, Ouija Board earned over six million dollars in her 22-start career. 

Her first three foals to race, all for Lord Derby, have failed to distinguish themselves thus far, earning 6 wins from 32 starts with only one listed stakes placing among them.  Australia, on the other hand, was purchased by the Coolmore operation for approximately $841,313 as a yearling. 

Although Australia won the Juvenile Turf Trial, don't expect to see him at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup.  O'Brien has indicated that he may race once more in Europe this season with his main goal the 2014 Epsom Derby.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (8/26/13 - 9/1/13):

1. ALPHA - 109 - Woodward Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
2. STAR HARBOUR - Clm c-(35-25) - 108 - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Saratoga
3. STRAPPING GROOM - 104 - Forego Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
4. BLIMEY - 102 - Clm 6250N2Y - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
5. HELISKIER - 101 - Minnesota Sprint Championship Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Canterbury
6. PARTYALLNIGHTLONG - 99 - OC 50k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
6. SUMMER HIT - 99 - Harry F. Brubaker Stakes - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Del Mar
8. SILVER MAX - 98 - Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
8. SWEET REASON - 98 - Spinaway Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
10. PLAINVIEW - 96 - OC25k/SAL25k - 1 Mile (Turf) - Saratoga
10. TALLAHATCHIE LUKE - 96 - OC 17k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Louisiana
10. WILLCOX INN - 96 - Washington Park Handicap (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) - Arlington
13. FIVE IRON - 95 - Saranac Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
13. GOODTIMEHADBYALL - 95 -  OC 40k/N3X -N  - 1 Mile - Parx
13. SAMITAR (GB) - 95 - Speed Boat Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
16. ABRAHAM - 94 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
16. TENANGO - 94 - Alw 82000N1X - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
18. ANGELICA ZAPATA - 93 - Wasted Tears Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
18. BERNIE THE MAESTRO - 93 - OC25k/SAL25k - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
18. FEARSOME - 93 - Alw 33250NC - 4 Furlongs - Timonium
18. GABRIEL CHARLES - 93 - Del Mar Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
18. MARACUYA - 93 - OC 35k/N3L -N - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
23. HOLY LUTE - 92- El Cajon Stakes - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Del Mar
23. SPRING TO THE SKY - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Saratoga
23. WINILISCIOUS - 92 - Alw 16000s - 1 Mile - Parx

*ALPHA's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*STAR HARBOUR was claimed for $35,000 by trainer Nicholas Esler from Bill Mott.

Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (9/2/13 - 9/8/13):

1. PANTS ON FIRE - 107 - Ack Ack Handicap (G3) - 1 Mile - Churchill
2. GANTRY - 105 - Temperence Hill Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Louisiana
3. DEPARTING - 104 - Super Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - Louisiana
4. STORMOFTHECENTURY - 102 - Turf Monster Handicap (G3) - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Parx
5. EDGE OF REALITY - 101 - Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Parx
6. TAZZ - 100 - OC 40k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Arlington
6. WHERE'S STERLING - 100 - Alw 29800C - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder
8. ALSVID - 99 - Premiere Cup Handicap - 6 Furlongs - Zia
9. CREW LEADER - 98 - Portland Mile Handicap - 1 Mile - Portland Meadows
10. HYPER - 97 - Bowling Green Handicap (G2) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
10. SILVERETTE - 97 - Turf Amazon Handicap - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Parx
12. NORMAN ASBJORNSON - 96 - Roanoke Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Parx
12. PRIVATE ZONE - 96 - Pirate's Bounty Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
12. SMOOTH BERT - 96 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Belmont
12. STRYKER PHD - 96 - Muckleshoot Tribal Classic Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Emerald
16. CRAZY ABOUT ME - 95 - OC 22k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
16. FERSMILEY - 95 - Banjo Picker Sprint Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Parx
16. MAJOR MARVEL - 95 - Unbridled Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Louisiana
19. HOGY - 94 - Presque Isle Mile Stakes - 1 Mile (Tapeta) - Presque Isle
19. MARKS MINE - 94 - Alw 40225NC - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Golden Gate
21. JOYOUS MUSIC - 93 - Alw 34300NC - 4 Furlongs - Timonium
21. KEYBOARD COURAGE - 93 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
21. NOTIMETOKILL - 93 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder
21. RAGING DAOUST - 93 - OC16k/SAL16k - 1 Mile - Belmont
21. SENOR ROJO - 93 - Speed to Spare Stakes - 1 3/8 Miles - Northlands

*PANTS ON FIRE's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


When you get the chance, you're definitely going to want to check out "RACEHORSE," the latest production from Jessica Pacheco, racing analyst at Arlington Park.

After yet another third place finish by Workin for Hops, Red Rabbit Racing stuggles with the decision: "To Drop, or Not To Drop"?


Episodes 1-7 can be found here:


Dan Illman
Can you explain the difference between a ‘beaten claimer’ and a ‘conditioned claimer’? The letter ‘b’ behind the claiming price is confusing. I've heard it means unrestricted wins for 3 year olds versus a restricted # of wins for 4 year olds? Turf Paradise, Arlington Park, & others run a lot of those type of races.

A "beaten" claimer (with a "B" at the end of the claiming price in past performance products) means that the race has a condition on older horses but no restrictions to three year olds. An example is Race 7 on the Monday card at Arlington ($16000 "B" claimer). It had two conditions:
1) Those three year olds and older that can be claimed for $16,000 and have never won three races. (in other words, an "N3L").
2) Those who are three year olds who can be claimed for $16,000. Notice that there's no "never won ___ races" language, the three year olds could have won 2 races or 3 races or 1000 races.
In the case of the Arlington race, everyone is four years old or older, so the race becomes your standard $16K N3L. This isn't always the case, however.
Hope that helps.


Thanks for your promotion of Canterbury Park this summer! As a Minnesota horse player I loved watching your videos as you handicapped the late pick 4 on Thursday nights. Thanks for the good times!
Quick question, our track played host to a pretty cool race this summer: The Shakopee Juv. Stakes; General Jack romped home and seemed destined for a start in the BC Juv Turf. He was scratched as the ML fave in the With Anticipation stakes at Sar. Any word on him? Is he hurt?
It was great to see a glimpse of glory at beautiful Canterbury this summer :)

Thanks for the kind words.  I haven't heard anything concerning General Jack since he scratched from the With Anticipation.  He hasn't worked since August 22.  The next logical spot in New York would be the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont on October 6.  If I learn anything definitive about his condition, I'll post to the blog.


Saturday, August 31st, @the Spa, Race 3. MSW for 2yr. olds. I watched something I never witnessed before in any race. It was one monstrous peformance by a 1st time starter, named HONOR CODE. In a 7F race he wasn't even in the video until the stretch. He came from 23 Lengths back & won by 5 going away. Could you pleaZe give me the Beyer Fig. 123.2 in a Bucket of Slop. One second faster than the other 7F race later on.
Oh yeah....He's by A.P. Indy, by WHO ? Trained by Shug...ORB who ???? Bring on the Champagne{the Race} & the Derby too.......The only one that counts in Kentucky..
Curtis V Slewster......Double S Ranch......

HONOR CODE was the talk of the town after his impressive debut kick at seven furlongs on August 31.  Hopelessly outsprinted in the early portion of the race (he was 22 lengths behind after a half-mile), Honor Code advanced along the inside on the sealed, sloppy track and rocketed home to win by 4 1/2 lengths.  He received an 89 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort and, according to Formulator, ran his final three furlongs in 33.61 with a last eighth in 11.83. 

In the paddock prior to the race, he carried himself with total class and has a lovely pedigree to boot.  You mentioned A.P. Indy, but he's also a half-brother to Grade 2 turf winner Noble Tune and the third dam is the great Serena's Song. 

"He's a big, nice horse," trainer Shug McGaughey told NYRA Communications after the win. "He's had a reputation for a while. [Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] came over and worked him in the gate one day, and he worked real well. I knew he wouldn't be quick, but I knew he would finish. I didn't think he'd get back as far back as he did, and [Velazquez] didn't, either. He said, 'I'm just going to drop him in and school him, let him get the mud in his face.' And then he said when he reached back and hit him, he just took off with him. Even if he got beat, I'm glad he stayed [inside] just so the horse would learn."
"[The Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne on October 5 at Belmont Park] isn't out of the question. I'll talk to [the owners] and go from there. He can run three or four times [as a 2-year-old]."


Could you please post the pp's for Fastness. He used to be one my favorite runners, and I saw that he passed away recently.

His lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Hey Dan-we were talking about closers last night...and my wife brought a French horse that Biancone trained around 05 named Gorella...turfer that came so far out of it that you would have sworn St Peter was the assistant starter...Could you please post her past PPs?
Today I face the same dilemma all horseplayers face...in the 5th today (8/29) 1 1/16 on the turf MSW...the 7 horse Eu Te Pego gives it another try 0-7...(Leroidesanimeux-Chatham)...picks up James Graham who is a very fine turf rider...I've been chasing this horse since January and she keeps pulling bad trips...I do think she has a shot today...but mostly, I know if I jump off...she'll win...happened to me on Saturday in the stakes at GP...a horse that Dan (and I) liked earlier in the year Sir Quisqeyano was running...burned my $ too many times, so given the race set up, i figured he'd go the lead and get run down by the chalk Where's Sterling...so I put the chalk over the sir in a cold exacta bet..and of course, Sir Q wires em with the chalk running second...grrr...
So the question is...how long do you stay with a horse before you throw in the towel? *understanding that each race is a seperate event, and all that)
Good luck to all!

Gorella's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 

While it generally pays to be forgiving, especially with young horses, there are those that get on your last nerve.  For me, Sun King, Giant Oak, and Al Khali come to mind.  I would always come up with an excuse for those three and picked them more often than not.  More often than not, they would disappoint, but I couldn't shake the feeling that next time would finally be the time. 

For sanity's sake, if you believe that your "aggravation" horse is a chronic underachiver, don't play them unless they reach a specific odds limit.  Make sure you get paid handsomely if they finally do win one.  Let them beat you if they go off short.  In Eu Te Pego's case, she was 7-2 on the tote, made the lead in the stretch and faded to fourth.  She earned her usual mid-60 Beyer and will probably look competitive in a similar spot in the near future.  Make her earn your trust.


Maybe it was an oversight; however, you listed two winners from Saturday at Saratoga (Capo Bastone 102 and Dance to Bristol 94) that ran their 7 furlong races slower than the race 1 winner. Did you overlook Power World or were the other two 7 furlong winners receive a higher Beyer Fig even though they ran slower? Thanks for all of your work and good luck at the races!
S in Kentucky

POWER WORLD received a 91 Beyer.  It appears as if the variant was split after the first few dirt races at Saratoga that afternoon indicating that the track may have gotten deeper and more tiring as the day progressed. 


Could you possibly post a couple of lifetime PPs? One for a current favorite of mine, the game Major Marvel, and the other for Forego, with his stakes coming up this weekend.
Thanks very much,

The past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


The weekend handicapping videos should be up on the homepage later this week.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Pig Bodine for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling contest.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Let's go with Saturday's Franklin-Simpson Mile Stakes at Kentucky Downs for this week's race.


Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.

Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but 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. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/concerns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.COM and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!



Best of luck to all.

ALPHA.pdf63.6 KB
Fastness.pdf56.92 KB
Gorella.pdf63.37 KB
Forego.pdf74.07 KB
MajorMarvel.pdf72.79 KB
Copy of Formblog Woodward Saratoga 8-30-13.xls68 KB
HGKD.pdf170.4 KB
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Ray; I hope you aren’t referring to me as being “too serious about a topic that only a few give a rat’s behind about”. I am not “too serious” about this topic, but I am serious about helping others who wish to gain an important understanding of facts, rather than wallow in hogwash. Also, your comment regarding Sports wagering was telling to me in that it demonstrates the same mentality that many horseplayers have. Your example of a Sports Bettor wagering $110 to win $100 exemplifies this mentality…that is paying The Take (10%) up front. Most Sports Bettors do this, and most horseplayers don’t understand that they don’t. To my way of thinking, the Sports Bettor should wager his amount (whatever that may be), not include The Take “up front”, and live with his winnings understanding that his odds are really (and always) 9/10. If the Bettor loses, he lost his wager, but did not needlessly squander an additional 10% by paying The Take up front.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
dazed and confused; You wrote "Let's see if I get this right..... The 'take' is not important to the 'winning horse player.' ". No, you did not get that right. But I don't expect you to come around to my way of thinking, nor do I expect that you will understand what I have conveyed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Turnbackthealarm, I enjoyed your further posts on the question of lists. I love lists. They are totally pointless, but it can be fun going back through the record books to check the facts. No-one can ever be correct, but equally, no-one can be wrong. Any list you or I produce has exactly the same validity as anything a professional like Dan might come up with. DavidM9999 did make a useful point by choosing to restrict himself to American horses. That extra level of definition is so very important. For example, in pondering possible factors to be considered you mentioned "track record times". It should be no surprise that I would suggest that times would totally irrelevant for Euro horses. One final thing if I may. I can't have Urban Sea over Sea The Stars under any circumstances. Thanks for the link in your last post. I have an idea that Sea The Stars will be an outstanding sire. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
Folks, Let me chime in on this talk about track arbitage or takeout. First, it's not going to go away. Would anyone on this blog quit wagering because of an increase in takeout? Conversely, would you bet more if takeout were lowered? Fact is, takeout is a method of keeping expenses manageable for most racetracks. Slots and other gambling enter here too. Outside of very astute, record-keeping pros and regulars few racing fans care about takeout simply because they don't know (or care) how it affects their day at the track. When the odds line is quoted for sports wagers, the takeout is plainly spoken in the amount of a wager. You must bet a certain amount, say $110, to win $100. That's 10 percent takeout but it doesn't prevent wagers on baseball, basketball or football games. So let's not get too serious about a topic that only a few give a rat's behind about. OK? stuckinarizona
dazed and confused More than 1 year ago
Let's see if I get this right..... The 'take' is not important to the 'winning horse player.' Doesn't matter if it's 30%, 20%, 14%, whatever. You bet 100 dollars and the track pays back $70, $80, or $86 in the above example. Doesn't matter?......Maybe on Mars. Hope all you winners ain't playin with real $$$$$
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Curt V. I will give you credit for raising your hand and joining in the discussion, but your argument has a flaw. I consider it a fatal flaw. You said "That 4-1 should be say 5-1." Should? That puts you in the realm of fantasy and not reality. You wish the odds were higher? Why not wish them to be 20:1? Why not simplify things and just wish you picked the winner. Well of course you can't do these things, and neither can I. I will, in the spirit of Formblog friendliness, allow you to spend your imaginary surplus profits, but you have to spend them on imaginary goods, like say, computers that talk and cars that drive themselves.
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
I guess you can tell I am waiting for a repair man.... Bernard, Look what I found for you, a list of the named two year olds by Sea The Stars. Without knowing much about overseas racing, a couple of mares caught my attention right off the bat, Zarkava and Vodka. Another commenter noted that Wonder Struck is the half to George Washington. http://cs.bloodhorse.com/blogs/maidenwatch/pages/sea-the-stars.aspx?rnd=635151111980730000&CommentPosted=true#commentMessage
Okiesharp More than 1 year ago
Handicapping Library I'm re-reading James Quinn's book "The Handicapper's Condition Book". I believe it is one of the best in my personal library. Mark Cramer's book "Thoroughbred Cycles" is also very good. Now, if I could just remember why I'm re-reading them........:-) Oh yeah, it's because I forget stuff once in a while....like the basics. Okiesharp
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Missed two comments: Turfruler, One of the benefits of becoming a senior citizen is that sometimes you forget previous arguments and so they are no longer a thorn in your side. :) On a silly note, a high school girlfriend and I had a falling out over my college roommate stealing her boyfriend. She felt I was disloyal to her and our longstanding friendship for double dating with the new couple. Fastforward 25 years, and she was the gal who fixed me up on a blind date with the man who is now my husband. So, there you go....a bad memory or at least the ability to let go of them, is sometimes a very good thing. :) Bernard, I also missed your request to replace Sea the Stars on the first list over Spectacular Bid. I guess that would depend on three factors; longetivity vs. multi career, track record times and surfaces, with a little "who'd they beat" thrown in for good measure. To show another female some love, I would be amenable to adding Urban Sea over Sea The Stars as SHE won the Arc and a whole host of other Group races and then went on to produce Sea the Stars, Black Sam Bellamy, Last Typhoon and Galileo (Sire of Frankel). :)
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
YFL, Who is the filly? Did you mean from my list? Ruffian and Rachel were both fillies when they stopped racing, but Zenyatta was a mare. I think making lists is so hard. To try and make one, I went to my "coffee table/library horse collection" and consulted books with the following topics or titles: 100 greatest thoroughbreds of all time, breeder's cup, jockey club greats, Old Friends (1st editions and signed!), art of Anthony Alonzo, art of Richard Stone Reeves, Degas at the races.........and a few more. It interests me to see people's comments on what makes a thoroughbred great. Is it one glorious season? weight? surface? multi year career? it's competition? fan base and charisma? contribution to the breed after racing? Beyer speed figures? a rivalry? All valid and all interesting to me. I hope others enjoyed thinking about it. I know I loved the hour I spent flipping through the pages of my books that are spread on three different tables around my house. But I was unable to settle on my final criteria, so no list. But I will say that I agree that the horses that everyone mentioned, are great. I am still mad about Favorite Trick winning horse of the year.....so I am glad no one picked him, That dis of Skip Away still bugs me. But who would have thought it would be TAKE OUT that would bring Mike A back to us?? Welcome back Mike. I started watching my back episodes of Pursuit of the Cup on HrtV, in your honor to try and sniff out some turf horses that will perform well come Breeder's Cup day. Arlington, Bernard and DavidM999 are giving me a new appreciation for the "lawn". Dick W, you are not boring! Add me to the senior citizens list because I just got a discount on an ice cream cone yesterday for being "of a certain age".