04/11/2014 4:05PM

Beatable Favorites?


The Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby headline this weekend's graded stakes action. 

BAYERN (Arkansas Derby) and BOBBY'S KITTEN (Blue Grass) could very well be the horses to beat.

I wouldn't bet a dime to win on either of them at short prices.

Bayern is a Bob Baffert-trained horse running at Oaklawn, and that angle alone is extremely powerful. But the undefeated Bayern recently missed some time with a foot issue, has never raced past a mile, and will get the toughest class test of his young career.

Can he win?  Sure.  But he's a big gamble at low odds.

As is Bobby's Kitten.  I believe that Bobby's Kitten is the best 3-year-old turf horse in the country. Unfortunately, the Blue Grass is on synthetic, not turf, and Bobby's Kitten is another horse that must prove himself at the demanding nine-furlong distance. He's the 3-1 morning line favorite and I'd simply try to beat him at that price or lower as he attempts to overcome distance and surface questions.

How to attack these races?

The Arkansas Derby is the third leg of a 50-cent Pick 4. The second leg, the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, features a potential single in last year's 3-year-old champion WILL TAKE CHARGE. By singling Will Take Charge, I can spread a little bit in the Arkansas Derby.

I'd use Bayern defensively in the multiple bets (but never to win) because I respect his potential, but I'll concentrate my play around TAPITURE and RIDE ON CURLIN. The latter may not want to go this far (although he's by Curlin, the bottom half of the family is comprised of sprinters), but the connections are intent on taking him off the pace this time around. Perhaps that will help him see out this journey at excellent odds.

I may regret doing so, but I'll probably take a stand against STRONG MANDATE. While he's definitely bred to go this far, I'm not sure he really wants nine furlongs. If I do play this race to win, it would merely be a small stab with Ride On Curlin at 10-1 odds or greater.

The Blue Grass is the third leg of the late 50-cent Pick 4 at Keeneland. The sequence kicks off with the Grade 1 Madison, and I'm comfortable pressing favored JUDY THE BEAUTY in order to spread in the later races. If I had to defensively use another runner in the Madison, it would be BETTER LUCKY turning back and switching from turf, but the vast majority of my Pick 4 play will be on Judy the Beauty.

I'm a little bit of a GALA AWARD fan, but he's mired in the far outside post position in the 14-horse Blue Grass. He's 5-1 on the morning line and that's just too short for me to get very interested. If he somehow drifts to 8-1, I'd throw a few dollars his way. But, to be completely honest, I'm going to use many different horses in the Blue Grass and pray.  I'll have Gala Award, MEDAL COUNT, DANCE WITH FATE, PABLO DEL MONTE, VINCEREMOS, and EXTRASEXYHIPPZSTER on my Pick 4 tickets and am willing to rip them all up if Bobby's Kitten, arguably the best horse, proves me wrong.

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.


Could you show PP's of Megan's Interco & Ojai, Thanks Dan!

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


What is going to be Saturday's Race of the Day?

It's the Arkansas Derby.


*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.








You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

All of the weekend graded stakes preview videos should be up at the following link by the end of today:



Congrats to Biggar W for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

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

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

Biggar W selected Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland for this week's HandiGambling event.


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

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 if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE 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 recognize you .

- (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.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-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 "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Best of luck to all.


MeganOjai.pdf692.05 KB
Copy of Formblog Wood Memorial 4-5-14.xls71.5 KB
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Annie..... Lets look at Danza one moment.....He has several months off and comes back in a 7f race. Many figured he was a sprinter so it made sense. The thing is horses who win 5.5f races in 1:04:2 at Saratoga aren't sprinters most times...what they are is just better than who they beat. I always watch the baby races on dirt at Belmont and Saratoga....mostly for down the road or for turf in the future. I saw his maiden race as I have many....His late run(after the half) was nice, but the overall time was slow. His next race however showed real ability.....6.5f's in 1:15:2 ( he ran a shade higher) track favors speed that day and he closes down 5.5 to miss by a 1/2...he runs his final 1/16th in 5:3.....He's immediately put away and doesn't come back till March at Gulf. The reason I paid attention that day was because being trained by Pletcher and running such a nice race at 2 you would have expected to "hear" about him...but this was one horse Pletcher didn't tout and that made me pay attention. With all the wonder flops he's had I figured he was being a bit gun shy. 7f's and he ran close up early and faded......I remember thinking this is no sprinter, at least not close early. In his first start the jock had to keep after him......he was close up and won, but the fractions were slow early and better late....23:3.46:3...then an 11:3 to get a 58:1 and a finish time of 1:04:2 where he came home in 6 flat. In his comebacker he was 1 1/2 off of a 22:3, then dropped back 3 when they ran a 45:2 half.....which is about all he's got.....he drops back fifth, then loses more ground around the turn, but actually gains some of it back down the lane......He gets beat 7.5.....This horse obviously doesn't have his dad's speed.....that early fraction killed him, but for a comebacker and the fact that he didn't stop running it was an ok race. Could you take him serious stretching out to 1 1/8th off of that race? That would have shown extreme faith....but he did have potential. So he runs out after showing speed at 7f's.....then off of that prep (and his previous works) and his works coming in he beats some nice colts going away and almost as fast as Will take Charge did.....The question is "Did he Peak"......Well I can ask you a question...Did Afleet Alex peak after going to his knees and getting up to win by almost 5 in the Preakness? Some said the race was so over the top he wouldn't win the Belmont....he'd peaked and would bounce etc......I said anyone who bets against this horse is crazy, most weren't. Now that may be Apples and Oranges because Afleet Alex had a bit more bottom to him than Danza does. If I see any problem with Danza it's his bottom.......and the fact that he may just might love Oaklawn...... Now a horse Peaking? I've always understood that to mean he's ready to run his best a race too soon.......Do I believe it? Well since I always say most folks lose because they all handicap the same believing every theory out there for the last 50 years.....so no...I don't believe in peaking.....every horse has a bottom.....he wins or loses on his own merit and by how good the competition is. Horses who run against other horses of equal or lesser ability will always run as well as the circumstances dictate....post, surface, fractions and of course the ride he gets by what the jock believes those circumstances dictate. Superior horses perform time and again...like Goldikova, Zenytta and Wise Dan....did they ever peak?? if they did it lasted for years. So If Danza runs lousy in the Derby it's the circumstances not because he ran great in the Arkansas Derby and has nothing left......If he ran on his "belly" in the Ark I'd say maybe, but this is this horses second start of the year and the way he accelerated after the 1/16th I feel he can go on with it. When war Emblem won the Derby I bet him....after watching his Ark Derby I felt no one would catch him......When Sunny's Halo won I had him too...both won in Arkansas impressively and while that race isn't considered a "big" Prep it has been that way when a horse runs fast there. War Emblem ran a 1:49:4 to win by 6....Sunny's Halo ran a 1:49:2 to win by 4...Even Elocutionist who ran the stakes record 1:49:1 came back to win the Preakness after running 3rd in the Derby. A horse may "freak" from time to time.....for a horse to win a 1/18th in that time after a 7f prep tells me this horse has talent...what he doesn't have is bottom.....I'd watch how he works the next couple of times.....that will go along way to telling you if he left it on the track in Arkansas........Mike A
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Annie - That horse doesn't care about dirt :) he's a 1 . In fact he probably likes CD dirt as much or better than he likes any other kind. He's only raced on dirt twice . ONE of them is a straight line throw out because it's Sans Lasix . The other is a baby Gr.I 2nd . He's won or placed over several different tracks and he benefits from whatever duels develop because he's not afraid to pass a horse. Win or lose Eurton should run him. I don't recall Eurton ever having a better horse ?
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Vicstu - Wicked Strong has a better number than Hard Spun did .
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Vicstu - Yes I did like Comma -- still do :) I've won & lost quite a few times on him :) You are correct about the others as well . In a contest we are forced to make (A) selection but in real life there is no rule against playing multiple horses. In a twenty horse race I look at it as more than one race. I generally play more than one winner. Bach ,,bach ,,bach ... I'm a chicken that way :) I'm a capital preservationist at heart . Like RonZ and MikeA only more so maybe even . I don't have the stones to make a big one way exacta . I always have to have it a little on the Chinese side as well . I never bet big bombers sans place . Like MikeA has said many many times ... who wants to be wrong by an inch on a $ 30 placer and get nothing for it ? Hard Spun was a real runner . He ran very well in the TC races . Better than most 16s do . That is a testament to his personal fierceness . As a racer and potential sire I really liked him . I just said what I said as a way to get your attention and make a point at the same time. Excellent form gets trumped in the derby for whatever reason quite often. Some people including myself think it has something to do with the way they are bred . Getting those people to agree to exactly what makes the good breeding will probably never happen :) Like say AZW doesn't think POTNs are likely to get 10f . He may well be right . He's being proactive and he's been following them as a group . Because he is a TT 1, 21 I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that until he gets chances. It took a 23 to beat him in the derby . Steve doesn't care about 1zs & 2zs ... he's pretty effective doing things the normal way. The funny thing is when he and MikeA listed several stallions to watch ... most of them were 1s with 3s behind it . 1s mean class & 3s mean grass . I can say with quite a bit of confidence that they weren't counting 1zs & 3zs to make that list :) They did get there though . The blog was loaded with Vicstuvian posters back then ;) It was great . JJ
Stuart Hill More than 1 year ago
"Part of the reason I rated Ride on Curlin higher was from actually watching him run, he has that one paced grind em down style, and I expected him to move forward in the Arkansas and he did." That makes sense to me Steve...I was just trying to understand HOW you came up with the grade. If you are going to throw form into the mix, after the Ark Derby performance, you would have to think he can go 9 and possibly 10 panels with the right trip.-vicstu
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
vicstu, The pedigrees with sprint on one side and distance on the other are the toughest to make an analysis on, and Ride On Curlin and Danza fit the bill for those kinds. Part of the reason I rated Ride on Curlin higher was from actually watching him run, he has that one paced grind em down style, and I expected him to move forward in the Arkansas and he did. There is a lot of sprint on the underside of that pedigree so I have no problem with some rating him lower than an A.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ron, A tutu and a tiara? LOL! Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dan, I've seen that DANZA earned a 102 Beyer in the Arkansas Derby. Could you tell us the Beyer for RIDE ON CURLIN and TAPITURE in that race? Also for MEDAL COUNT in the Blue Grass. Thank you in advance. Annie
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Dick W Thank you! SR Vegas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael, My comment on DANZA was only in the context of my research on horses going up so many Beyer points in their race prior to the Derby, only. It may not have anything to do with "bouncing", but rather that race was the very best that he can do, and he is not likely to do it again, at least not in the very next race. I'm still thinking my research was showing that it was a matter of "peaking" one race too soon. What are your feelings about "peaking"? Annie Annie