06/22/2011 4:27PM

Blind Luck, Weekend Thoughts and Beyers


From 2008 to 2010, the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park was all Zenyatta all the time. 

Employing her patented come-from-behind style, Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year, wowed her faithful followers with Vanity victory after Vanity victory after Vanity victory. 
In 2009, she conceded the Vanity runner-up, Briecat, 15 pounds and a healthy headstart.  Last year, she toted 129 for the second straight Vanity, giving second-finisher St Trinians nine pounds and whiplash when all was said and done. 

This season, Zenyatta is an expectant mother, romping in her paddock at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky. 

The 2011 Vanity did not suffer from her absence. 

Blind Luck, 3-year-old filly champion of 2010, does not manufacture the air of perfection that surrounded Zenyatta for most of her career, but one would be hard-pressed to find a more game and consistent filly.  Never off-the-board in 20 starts, with 11 wins against top-tier competition under her girth, Blind Luck has yet to duck a challenge.  She, like Zenyatta, prefers to race from the back of the field, swooping down in the final furlong to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The 2011 Vanity looked like a three-horse tussle among Blind Luck, St. Trinians, and multiple Grade 1 winner Switch.  Despite deliberate fractions that seemingly would favor pacesetters and closers (25.52, 50.24), Blind Luck came with her usual resolute rush to wear down a fatigued Switch in the final furlong.  St Trinians split horses late to finish fourth. 

The Beyer Speed Figure for the Vanity was a 96 and Blind Luck has yet to reach triple-digit Beyer status from five starts this season.  This may be somewhat of a concern to handicappers worried that she has yet to recapture her sophomore form (four 100+ Beyers from nine starts), but it's difficult for a race to grade out fast when the early fractions are moderate to slow. 

Although the filly and mare division is loaded with such top-notch runners as HAVRE DE GRACE and AWESOME MARIA, Blind Luck can never be counted out.  She's won races at distances ranging from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles on dirt, polytrack, Pro-Ride and Cushion Track.  She's won at Calder, Del Mar, Santa Anita, Hollywood, Oaklawn, Churchill Downs, Delaware and Saratoga.  She's a racehorse's racehorse. 

*Fans of 114-Beyer debut winner MACLEAN'S MUSIC will be delighted to know that the 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor is back in training at Churchill Downs "after a few weeks off from a minor setback," according to an e-mail from Lesley Howard of Stonestreet Farms.

*BE BULLISH, tied for the highest winning Beyer Speed Figure from the past week, was claimed out of his race by Repole Stable with George Weaver as the listed trainer. 

*Last week marked the return to sprint racing for SWAY AWAY and J P'S GUSTO, a pair of 3-year-olds that unsuccessfully tried their luck on the Triple Crown trail.  Turning back to seven furlongs following a twelfth-place finish in the Preakness, Sway Away rallied in the stretch to neck out DA RULER in an entry-level allowance over the Hollywood Park cushion track. 
J P's Gusto, eighth in the Arkansas Derby at nine furlongs, coasted home the easiest of winners in the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes around two turns at Charles Town.  The Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga looms as the next test for J P's Gusto. 

*STREET GAME, a New York-bred son of Street Cry, looked very good in taking the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes going one mile over yielding Belmont turf.  Now a perfect 3-3 with blinkers, Street Game was given the front and apprentice jockey Ryan Curatolo nursed him along beautifully.  Street Game was never threatened despite Curatolo losing his whip in midstretch.  The Virginia Derby may be next for this promising turf performer.

*AWESOME MARIA made it four graded wins in a row with a solid three-length triumph in the Odgen Phipps at Belmont.  Trained by Todd Pletcher, Awesome Maria is one of the stars in that loaded distaff division and she could be headed to the Grade 1 Ruffian at Saratoga.  Pletcher maintains that Awesome Maria will stick to nine-furlong racing, meaning a showdown with Havre de Grace (bound for the Delaware Handicap at 1 1/4 miles) may have to wait until the fall.

*While it's possible that, after 27 races, POOL PLAY finally found his niche on dirt, it's more likely that the handicap division is in greater disarray than we originally thought.  Pool Play, making his dirt debut in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, pulled off the 36-1 upset over a game Mission Impazible. 

Here are the winners (and mutuel payoffs) of the Grade 1 races for older males at one mile or greater on dirt in 2011:

Donn Handicap:  GIANT OAK ($16.80)
Santa Anita Handicap:  GAME ON DUDE ($31.60)
Metropolitan Handicap:  TIZWAY ($8.20)
Stephen Foster Handicap:  Pool Play ($75.20)

Since taking the Donn at Gulfstream Park, Giant Oak finished third in the New Orleans Handicap behind Mission Impazible, fifth in the Alysheba behind FIRST DUDE, and fifth in the Foster. 

After upsetting the Big 'Cap, Game On Dude finished second behind DUKE OF MISCHIEF (fourth in the Foster) in the Charles Town Classic (ahead of Tizway) and third in the Lone Star Park Handicap behind journeyman AWESOME GEM (fourth in the Alysheba, sixth in the Charles Town Classic).

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a handicap horse!!!

*CANIGOTOO, a juvenile gelding trained by Bret Calhoun, won his career debut at Lone Star by 12 1/4 lengths with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.  The gray is a Texas-bred son of Menhal out of a half-sister to Florida Derby winner Captain Bodgit.

*PANTS ON FIRE looked good when taking the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth, but a late-season 3-year-old to watch may be RAISON D'ETAT.  A Juddmonte Farms homebred, Raison d'Etat is by A.P. Indy out of seven-time Grade 1 winner Sightseek.  Making his third lifetime start at Belmont on June 18, Raison d'Etat broke his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths for trainer Bill Mott and received a 95 Beyer. 

*ARUNA proved a popular winner in the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs.  As in the handicap division, the filly and mare turf runners have been beating each other all year long.  Perhaps Aruna is the one to move to the head of the class.


Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (6/13 - 6/19):

1.  BE BULLISH - 103 - OC c-75k/N3X - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
1.  KEVLAR KID - 103 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
1.  SWAY AWAY - 103 - Alw 52000N1X - 7 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
4.  STREET GAME - 101 - Hill Prince Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
5.  AWESOME MARIA - 100 - Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1) - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
5.  POOL PLAY - 100 - Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Churchill
5.  ROMAN TREASURE - 100 - Miss Royal Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
8.  GOLDDIGGER'S BOY - 99 - Docent Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Penn National
8.  IMMORTAL EYES - 99 - Charles Town Dash Handicap - 4 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
8.  TURALLURE - 99 - Opening Verse Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Churchill
11. BLUES STREET - 98 - OC 75k/N3X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
11. J P'S GUSTO - 98 - Red Legend Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Charles Town
13. POSEIDON'S WARRIOR - 97 - Alw 48000N2X - 6 Furlongs - Parx
14. BLIND LUCK - 96 - Vanity Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
14. CANIGOTOO - 96 - Md Sp Wt 23k - 5 Furlongs - Lone Star
14. RAHYSTRADA - 96 - Colonial Turf Cup - 1 3/16 Miles (Turf) - Colonial
14. WINK AT THE GIRLS - 96 - Wild and Wonderful Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Charlest Town
18. RAISON D'ETAT - 96 - Md Sp Wt 51k - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
18. TEMPTED TO TAPIT - 95 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Delaware
20. PANTS ON FIRE - 94 - Pegasus Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Monmouth
20. SMOKIN HERO - 94 - Noble Nashua Stakes - 1 Mile - Belmont
22. ARUNA - 93 - All Along Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Colonial
22. ISTHMUS - 93 - Alw 32000N1X - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Penn National
22. MALTESE DOG - 93 - Hcp ---s - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Arlington
25. CLOSE TO THE VEST - 92 - Clm 20000B - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
25. HEAD HEART HOOF - 92 - OC 25k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
25. LUCKY MR. K - 92 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood

The lifetime past performances for BE BULLISH, KEVLAR KID and SWAY AWAY are available at the bottom of this blog post.


For a video recap of some of the major stakes races from last weekend, please click on the following link:



What say you LSD ? Ginger or MaryAnn ?

I've always preferred the "girl next door" type.  Then again, I live next door to a strip club. 


Hi Dan,
Great job, as always, and congrats to Kenny Peck who picked Teaks North, what??? three days out!
Tabasco Cat won the Preakness and Belmont and yet was not named top 3yo for 1994 (Holy Bull was w/ 5 G-1's w/ 2 vs older=2much). Anyway, could we (please) see this D. Wayne Lukas trainee's PPs? Mucho appreciatona.

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


Hey Dan, I follow all your blogs and peformances of the week and such, i admire your knowledge and would like to learn from you and the other great trip handicappers. What do you suggest i do?
Mark Miller

Mark, thanks for the kind remarks.  If you're interested in trip handicapping, I'd advise you to pick one circuit, perhaps the track you play the most, and start watching races and making notes. 
After watching dozens of races, you'll begin to see things that you like and things that you didn't like so much.  Wow, that horse was really wide.  He didn't have a chance considering the slow pace and he still rallied a little bit.  Maybe I can use him next time out.  Or, that horse got loose on the lead.  He stole the race.  What if he gets pressured in his next start?  Take your time.  Watch each race carefully, make your notes and you'll soon feel like you "know" the horses in a given circuit.
Before Formulator, I would clip the charts out of the Form and paste them into marble notebooks for when I went to the track.  Now, I can just type the notes into my personalized past performances for reference whenever I need it. 


Have you heard anything about what is going on with Conveyance? He doesn't show any recent works and I didn't see him on your DL.

Could you post the lifetime PP's of CAMBIOCORSA, she was one screaming turf sprinter, and flat loved the hill - her brother CALIFORNIA FLAG was no slouch either
Steve T

Conveyance was shipped to Dubai trainer Satish Seemar after finishing fifteenth in last year's Kentucky Derby and is 0-2 in 2011 (second in the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal and eighth in the Godolphin Mile). The original plan was for him to return to North America following the Godolphin Mile, but I'll try to find out some more.

Cambiocorsa's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of the blog post.


could you tell me if Wesley, the big grey turf horse and Promise Me A Cat-filly will race this year?
thanks for all your work and insight

Unfortunately, Wesley was euthanized last fall due to "a serious colic and ruptured secum," according to an e-mail from trainer Mark Hennig. 

I'll try to find out more about Promise Me a Cat.


Congrats to Rick for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He chooses Friday's fifth race at Evangeline 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.

Best of luck to all

Top Beyer earners.pdf105.35 KB
Tabasco Cat.pdf55.53 KB
Cambiocorsa.pdf56.6 KB
HG239.pdf167.02 KB
lenny D More than 1 year ago
HG AHH!...Evangeline home of the biggest Super payouts Let's go with the old even number super 2,4,6,8,10,12,14 Box..$84 $16 on the 5 to win
thecerfer More than 1 year ago
HG239 $100 Win #7 Drops- Tough Post last start
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Handigambling Finally a race that devotees of Suffolk Downs can relate to. Only with Dan's money. I see nothing that could get me to invest the hard-earned. I threw out all but Say it Twice - Best last Beyer and best lifetime Beyer. Second last out. Jenine's Pic - Fits the group nd ran competitively to place last time. Sauce Cat - Looks to finish well every time. Dirty T - Ran competitive efforts both times. Dan's money is going with the best speed and the best closer. WAGER $50 Exacta box 2/6 equals $100 Good luck to all on this and this weekend.
e_s More than 1 year ago
HG239: This is a sorry bunch. I'll take a horse with few starts, who showed a brief flash of determination before tiring in last start, and who has BSFs that are in range $100 win = 12
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
HG239 maidens are not my cup of tea but with Dans money (thanks dan) I will do my best to get my three across first #2 Say It Twice last one more like it did get distanced but against a world beater for sure showed early run for a while but shows a loss of interest late in the stretch so will play on that and use her for the place or show hole #4 Valid Pearl another that has shown early speed and late fade her only board finish she held the place against better than these I look for carmouche to try the front once again and could get a part on the lower spots #6 Sauce Cat dropped to this level and took the place from off the pace and with two signed up with speed ,Moniques Princess and Valid Pearl I think she will get a fast pace to close into has hit the board 50% of her races so think today may be her day to get all the money #8 Kaleidoscope Ides can make a case for this filly has hit the board in three of last 6 races against mostly better than these look for villafan to make one run at them today didnt like the off track last one #11 Queen of Class has one of the highest beyers signed up for this the other being Say it Twice and that was summer of 10 second time blinks but missed break in last race and also did not like the off going smith should get this filly out quicker today and will play a part of the finish trainer is 17% for 2011 #12 Dirty third time is the charm they say has improved in each race being unruly in last gets weight off for apprentice being 17% with trainer if mcmahon gets this filly out early will be one to beat for sure 50% ITM a must use the bet #6 over 2 11 12 trifecta key =$96.00 exacta cold 6-11=$4.00 good luck all mh01
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
very profitable day at the track thursday caught 5 exactas ,two DDs and several winners did not bet any p3s or p4s though annie I hope you did well in your wagering as well I see a carryover in the P6 at hollywood for tonight but unless it looks hitable I will keep my $$$$$ in my pocket but good luck all who choose to play it. mh01 ps the article on Pitsburg Phil was very interesting and informative he died of consumption that seemed to get a lot of those in the 1800s ie Doc Holiday good luck all mh01
baltimore_brian More than 1 year ago
HG 239 I finally catch a week where I can play the HG, and I get this bunch. Being the winner of this race is sort of like being the valedictorian of summer school.... It looks to me like #2 SAY IT TWICE is the only horse in the field that was once well meant. Her debut was in open MSW company, and then was put on the shelf for 2 years. She faced a runaway winner last out, but was competitive until that final furlong. She cuts back today. #7 HOTTIE'S DEELITE didn't show much in her debut race, but she did pass a few coming home. Perhaps she realizes what she's out there to do. It won't take much more than that. #6 SAUCE CAT looks like a money burner, but he's always been in open company, and just missed two back at this level. This race is a total crapshoot, so I'll play this one like a riverboat gambler. Bet: $5 Exacta box 2,6,7 = $30 $1 Exacta 7/ALL = $13 $1 Exacta ALL/7 = $13 $0.60 Superfecta 2,6,7/2,6,7/2,6,7/ALL = $39.60 That's a total of $95.60. I'll drop the remaining $4.40 into a slot machine where I might have a better chance of cashing.
Joe Doherty More than 1 year ago
HG Long time reader, 1st time poster Yikes, tough one. Let's try those that may show improvement $25.00 exacta box 7,12 $25.00 Tri box 7 with 12/11
leo More than 1 year ago
HG I like three animals in this race but they are all closers. they all have Beyers to be competitive in this race. they are Queen of Class, Sauce Cat and Kaleidoscope. At the track i would box them but in this competition i will key on Queen of Class. I remember way back when, at Green Mountain you had these types of animals all the time, and u had to catch them on their up cycle(usually show a fairly good race, then race well and them you leave them alone for awhile. They were fun races to take a stab at and if you "guessed" right you usually got a decent payoff. HG 50 ex 11/ 6,8
zeppie More than 1 year ago
HG Like the 12 in this spot Keep it simple $50 WP on the 12
Patrick S More than 1 year ago
HG Tire-fire. Can't wait to watch these run, wow :) Will take a stab with Say It Twice, who is the logical favorite. At least she's shown something in her previous efforts, unlike half the field in here. For some upside, I'll look at Kaleidoscope Ides. Throw out the last (doesn't seem to like the slop), and his previous efforts look decent against these. Don't bother watching Prairie Meadows/Churchill/Hollywood tonight, all the action is at Evangeline!!! cough, choke $50 EXB (2,8) GL All!!
Laura More than 1 year ago
Here's one more June 24 Belmont R4 WELL KEPT (Henny Hughes – Alinechka, by Danzig) has a win-early speed over stamina pedigree. Her second crop sire Henny Hughes, is batting 10% lifetime two year old winners. She’s the first foal out of the unraced mare Alinechka, who is a full sister to the allowance winner Safely’s Mark (by Danzig) and a ¾ sister to stakes winner Peace Chant (by War Chant). Well Kept’s second dam is the 1989 Champion Sprinter, Safely Kept. Laura