06/22/2011 3:27PM

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