06/02/2011 4:37PM

Baffert's 3-year-old Army, top Beyers, HG pp's

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*Bob Baffert went back to the drawing board with MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE, THE FACTOR and JAYCITO, but he unveiled several promising sophomores over the past few weeks. 

SMASH, a highly-touted juvenile that went on the shelf following an impressive debut last summer at Hollywood Park, paired up triple-digit Beyers this season with a nose victory over Baffert-trained HOORAYFORHOLLYWOOD.  Smash is a $400,000 juvenile purchase by Smart Strike while Hoorayforhollywood is by Storm Cat out of multiple Grade 1 winner Hollywood Story. 

At Churchill Downs, Baffert's three-year-old C J RUSSELL made it a perfect two for two in an entry-level optional claimer.  C J Russell is by El Corredor out of eight-time stakes-winner Miss Gibson Country and has yet to be headed in his short career.

COIL, a Point Given colt out of a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Possibly Perfect, earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure in his seasonal debut on May 6 while PRAYER FOR RELIEF, second to COMMA TO THE TOP in last year's Real Quiet Stakes, made a successful return to the races in an entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on May 29.  AWESOME PATRIOT, the gate-to-wire winner of the Alydar Stakes at nine furlongs on May 8 joins Kentucky Oaks winner PLUM PRETTY on the deep Baffert roster.

*It was a huge weekend for trainer Julio Canani.  RYEHILL DREAMER parlayed a wonderful stalking trip into a thrilling nose victory over an ultra-game SIDNEY'S CANDY in Saturday's Grade 2 American Handicap at Hollywood.  The following afternoon, Canani's GIVINE showed marked improvement in her second stateside appearance, the Great Lady M Stakes at six furlongs on the grass. 

Sidney's Candy did all the running in the American, facing pace pressure throughout from LIBERIAN FREIGHTER.  After putting that one away on the far turn, Sidney's Candy ran hard all the way to the wire only to be outfinished in the final jump by Ryehill Dreamer.  While Sidney's Candy continues to be rock-solid in these middle-distance turf affairs, the win was somewhat of a breakthrough for Ryehill Dreamer, an in-form runner that had previously done his best when dictating terms up front.  In the American, Ryehill Dreamer proved just as effective from off-the-pace.

*HIBAAYEB enjoyed a picture-perfect pocket trip in winning the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont, but I'm not totally sold as to her quality.  She won the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon last year, but that field didn't look the strongest on paper and Hibaayeb may be a notch below the best in the division. 

KEERTANA continued her good year with a victory over males in the Grade 3 Louisville, but is another that may be up against it when the Euros show up later in the season.  

*TIZWAY'S 113 Beyer effort in the Met Mile was an excellent performance and it will be interesting to see how he pans out in a wide-open handicap division.  It's possible he's at his best in one-turn miles, but will likely get an opportunity to stretch out at Saratoga in races like the Whitney.

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Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (5/23/11 - 5/29/11, Memorial Day Monday excluded):

1.  GIVINE (Fr) - 105 - Great Lady M Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Hollywood
1.  RYEHILL DREAMER (Ire) - 105 - American Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Hollywood
3.  QUANTUM MISS - 104 - Wonders Delight Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Penn National 
4.  PACHATTACK - 103 - Arlington Matron (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) - Arlington
4.  SMASH - 103 -  OC 80k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
6.  EDDIE'S BAND - 102 - Md Sp Wt 21k - 7 Furlongs - Louisiana Downs
7.  POINT OF REFERENCE - 101 - OC 50k/N2X - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Golden Gate
8.  CHOSEN MIRACLE - 98 - Alw 30500N1X - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
9.  FIFTY PROOF - 96 - Eclipse Stakes (G3-C) - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Woodbine
9.  HAVE YOU EVER - 96 - Hcp 25000s - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
9.  INDIAN LEGEND - 96 - My Juliet Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Parx
9.  KEERTANA - 96 - Louisville Handicap (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Churchill
9.  MAJESTIC AFLEET - 96 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Golden Gate
14. COURTSIDE - 95 - Clm 32000(32-28) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
15. PARTYNIGHTLONG - 94 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
15. POCKET COWBOYS - 94 - Kingston Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
15. RUMOR - 94 - OC 80k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
18. C J RUSSELL - 93 - OC 75k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
18. EL CHURRUCA - 93 - Alw 77400N$Y - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Parx
18. HIBAAYEB (GB) - 93 - Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
18. JACK LONDON - 93 - Md Sp Wt 51k - 1 Mile - Belmont
18. JEALOUS GIRL - 93 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
18. LAMA CHANT - 93 - Alw 36378N2X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Golden Gate
18. OUR YEAR - 93 - OC 45k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
18. RICORIATOA - 93 - Clm 25000 - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
18. STACHYS - 93 - Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Prairie Meadows
18. TAP SOFTLY - 93 - Clm c-(25-22.5) - 6 Furlongs - Penn National

The past performances for GIVINE and RYEHILL DREAMER are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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Who did you think earned the "Performance of the Week" award?  Check out the video replays of many of the week's graded races at the below link:

http://www.drf.com/events/stakes-horse-races-video-replays

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Speaking of horses past, and as a follow up to your recent video suggestions, are there races you can think of that every handicapper should see? Not necessarily the greatest races, but ones which illustrate something about how to watch a race? I know you mention them every day, and they are all perfectly good examples. I just wonder if there are a couple "classics," in your head, at least.
As long as I'm making requests--and what's worse this one won't be the first time someone's asked, or the thirtieth--what are the few greatest thoroughbred races that every fan should see? I would only be too happy to read Formblog readers' shortlists, too.
Sincerely,
Jonah Hershowitz

Jonah, as always, thank you for the kind words.  I have no idea why this race came into my head (perhaps it's because Animal Kingdom is in the news), but the 2005 Breeders' Cup Mile is a good example of trip handicapping.  Who do you feel was the best?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-486QHf0fA

I would say that Leroidesanimaux was best.  He ran hard every step of the way while deep on the course while Artie Schiller, the winner, saved every inch of ground.  I can't begin to tell you how many times the old harness racing "pocket trip" wins races on the grass.  It really is the perfect journey for a turf horse, saving ground while directly in behind the leader.  Often, when the recipient of said excellent trip returns to the races, they are overbet and unable to duplicate a winning effort with a more strenuous excursion.  If Leroidesanimaux and Artie Schiller squared off again, I would give the former a slight edge. 

As for the greatest races of all time, I would guess Secretariat's Belmont win would give everyone chills.  The 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic was a pretty darn good one and the 1994 Travers was one of my favorites.  How about Easy Goer vs. Sunday Silence in the Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic?  Affirmed and Alydar battling neck and neck down the stretch of the 1978 Belmont, with all the marbles on the line, is a thriller.  I'm sure are bloggers will have many more memorable moments to share.

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Dan, can I get pp's for lady joan,go to the window
& snow chief? Thanks!
Marc

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

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Congrats to tencentcielo for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  This week's race will be the fifth race at Woodbine on Saturday. 

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.

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.

Best of luck to all.

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Givine.pdf737.66 KB
Ryehill Dreamer.pdf778.26 KB
GoLadyChief.pdf81.98 KB
HG236.pdf154.46 KB