10/01/2014 4:24PM

On to the Breeders' Cup


Thanks to everyone that entered the FormBlog Breeders' Cup Fantasy Handicapping League.

We have 484 contestants. KYL syndicate is in the lead with 1619 fantasy earnings.

I am currently in 39th place and have some work to do.

If you haven't joined yet, there's still time to do so.

Head on over to https://www.fantasycapping.com/illman

The league password in DRF123.

You can find league rules here:


This week's fantasy races are Saturday's Breeders' Futurity from Keeneland and Sunday's Spinster Stakes from Keeneland.


TONALIST was a smashing winner of the historic Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on a Super-duper Saturday at the old track on Long Island.

We knew that Tonalist would relax without blinkers, but chalk-bettors must have felt anxious as Tonalist broke a half-beat slow and was far back along the inside.

When WICKED STRONG lost his rider, Rajiv Maragh, entering the far turn, Tonalist had to check a couple of times from between horses. He soon regained his momentum under Joel Rosario, however, and advanced sweetly along the rail.

Rosario was the picture of confidence in the stirrups, and he failed to panic when Tonalist found a hint of traffic trouble in upper stretch. He simply waited a few strides, altered course to the three-path, split rivals, and kept Tonalist to a strong hand ride to win going away. The Belmont Stakes winner galloped out well in front of his opponents.

There was a ton of drama surrounding the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Millionaire PRAYER FOR RELIEF got loose in the paddock, flipped twice, and was scratched after suffering some lacerations to his chest. He should be fine.

Thankfully, Wicked Strong was also uninjured. The Wood Memorial and Jim Dandy winner seemed to be moving well in between horses when Junior Alvarado, aboard MORENO, most carelessly moved into Wicked Strong’s path. Maragh ended up with a broken arm and Alvarado ended up with a deserved 15-day suspension.

Some handicappers will argue that Tonalist is a Belmont horse-for-course, a 3-year-old that won’t transfer his good New York form to another surface. As for me, I couldn’t have been more impressed with his Jockey Club Gold Cup and he is at the forefront of contenders for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic going 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 9/23/14 - 9/30/14

1. PRIVATE ZONE - 106 - Vosburgh Invitational (G1) - 6 Furlongs - 27Sep14-8BEL
1. TONALIST - 106 - Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 27Sep14-10BEL
3. MAIN SEQUENCE - 104 - Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 27Sep14-9BEL
4. BELLE GALLANTEY - 103 - Beldame Invitational (G1) -  1 1/8 Miles - 27Sep14-5BEL
4. VYJACK - 103 - Kelso Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile - 27Sep14-4BEL
6. MICO MARGARITA - 102 - Remington Park Sprint Cup - 6 Furlongs - 28Sep14-10RP
7. AMERICAN PHAROAH - 101 - Frontrunner Stakes (G1) - 1 1/16 Miles - 27Sep14-6SA
7. BIO PRO - 101 - OC 80k/C -N - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 24Sep14-7BEL
7. CIGAR STREET - 101 - Homecoming Classic Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 27Sep14-9CD
7. SHARED BELIEF - 101 - Awesome Again Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 27Sep14-8SA
11. BEHOLDER - 99 - Zenyatta Stakes (G1) - 1 1/16 Miles - 27Sep14-5SA
11. SIOUX - 99 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 28Sep14-8BEL
13. LIAM'S MAP - 98 - Md Sp Wt 75k - 1 Mile - 26Sep14-7BEL
13. STEPHANIE'S KITTEN - 98 - Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 27Sep14-7BEL
15. DREAMSGONEWILD - 96 - Laurel Dash Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Turf) -  27Sep14-11LRL
15. FAST N FINE LOOKIN - 96 - Flashy Lady Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 28Sep14-6RP
15. MISS MISCHIEF - 96 - H B P A Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Tapeta) - 25Sep14-5PID
15. TONITO M. - 96 - Oklahoma Derby (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 28Sep14-8RP
19. INDIANAPOLIS - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 26Sep14-8SA
19. MANCHURIAN HIGH - 95 - Laurel Turf Cup - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 27Sep14-10LRL
19. NOBLE CORNERSTONE - 95 - Alw 92000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 27Sep14-2BEL
22. BRIGHT THOUGHT - 94 - John Henry Turf Championship (G2) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 28Sep14-7SA
22. EMOLLIENT - 94 - Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 27Sep14-7SA
22. EXPECT ROYALTY - 94 - OC 25k/N2Y -N - 1 Mile - 26Sep14-8RET
22. HEART TO HEART - 94 - Jefferson Cup (G3) - 1 Mile - 27Sep14-10CD

*The lifetime past performances for PRIVATE ZONE and TONALIST are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Dan and Bloggers,
With the short Keeneland meet coming up this weekend this will be the first time they will be running on a special dirt surface. How do you adjust your handicapping for the surface switch? Do you not play Friday and just watch the races and then dive in on Saturday? What is your angle for trying to play this?

I'm very interested in seeing how the new surface plays. Many of us remember the speed-favoring highway that the Keeneland dirt resembled prior to the polytrack era. It was in stark contrast to the synthetic track that sometimes seemed to gobble up speed horses, no matter how strong their pace advantage.

I would scale back my play a little bit for the early races on Friday, but would not fail to bet a strong opinion due to fear of a possible bias. Let's wait, see, and hope that the track plays fair.


*The links to the five most recent blogs (and blog comments) are listed below:







You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

The video previews for most of this weekend's graded stakes action will be available later in the week at the following link:



Congrats to Pat Gavin 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.

Pat Gavin selected Friday's Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland for this week's exercise.


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 "60-Card Quarterly Formulator 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!




TONALIST.pdf654.27 KB
Copy of Formblog Jockey Gold Cup 9-27-14.xls76 KB
Brian Nolan More than 1 year ago
Why did they cancel "The Marathon? Were there 13 or 14 races last year?- Thanks for any information. Brian
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Bernard - Toast is a contender . His last one was pretty good . He can cope with an American pace . He probably won't be 16-1 on race day having just finished 2nd to the favorite . He didn't look like a winner IMO but being fouled by the winner certainly didn't help him any . I'm looking at an Arcangues like payer :) I can't tell you his name yet Bernardo . I don't want him to drop to less than $100 :) hehehe . You can probably get 300-1 on him with the craZy bookies that gave you 20-1 on Secret Circle :) He's no nearlock but if he hits he's gonna PAY BIG Bernardo . I'm thinking of dutching him with Chrome if Chrome gets disrespect on the board . Ron Z - He got the weirdest comment from the chart caller ( the one you like) that I've ever seen . The chart caller basically accused the rider of failure to persevere using unusual language . I'm putting a line through that race . YEEHHAA !!!! LET'S GAMBLE !!!
Irish More than 1 year ago
Hello all, First time poster, long time lurker......I have a question as it relates to turf races that has been sparked by recent discussion. One of the hardest things for me to decipher in handicapping turf races is judging just how good come home times are. It is pretty obvious to me that if you are racing any distance of ground, that the slower the 6f initial fraction, the quicker the potential for a come home time is. I am not picking on you in particular Mike Turfmonstr, but simply using your recent example. In the Fourstardave, Seek Again ran the first 6f in 1:09.2, then came home in :23.2 and set a track record at Saratoga's inner course for a mile. There have been a lot of mile races run on the Inner track over the years, so this race passes the sniff test, no matter the firmness of the course. Winter Memories finished up the Garden City in :34.1, but did so after going 6f in 1:16.3. Wouldn't one expect to see such a come home from Winter Memories after going so slow early? Also, I realize that your point was the turn of foot in the last 1/8 mile of that race. But, how does one say that such a turn of foot isn't possible for Seek Again if he went that slow early? Let's say, hypothetically, that Seek Again and Winter Memories were going to square off in a race subsequent to their performances in the Fourstardave and the 2011 Garden City, respectively. How do you judge those two performances against each other? BTW - I am not knocking Winter Memories...I loved to watch that filly run. Irish Eyes
Rodney More than 1 year ago
Jackson Jackson, Yes, Mike and Jay may have been shaking their heads, reading your opinion of Treve too ! Our own Dan, once wrote a glowing article about her for Formblog not too long ago...which also can be found in the archives..a good read for anyone interested.
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
If anyone from Formblog is also on Formblog on Facebook and wants to see photos I took of Cigar when SR Vegas and I visited the Lexington area exactly two years ago, you have to scroll down to 2012, but since there are not many posts, it doesn't take long. There is a good head shot, eye shot and one of Cigar not loving the cold water bath he was receiving prior to being part of the parade of champions. Like a good champion, he was still all class, all the time and it didn't matter that he was 22 years old.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Annie - he sounds like one with a shot . They don't all win but lately it seems like that :) Eventually it will even out a little but I'll keep pushing the button like I always do. Good luck JJ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard, For the Turf, they have TELESCOPE as top horse, saying he has been pointed to this since August. Also, MAGICIAN, FLINTSHIRE, and only possibly, TAGHROODA. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard, Here are a few more Euros being mentioned over here for the BC Mile besides Toronado and Trade Storm. Nothing for sure, just speculation. Anodin (5th Prix de la Foret) Karakontie (10th Prix de la Foret, won French 2000 Guineas) Veda (2nd Prix Daniel Wildenstein, 2nd French 1000 Guineas) Darwin (13th Prix de la Foret, 3rd Sussex) Custom Cut (1st Joel Stakes, working on 5 race winning streak) Mustajeeb (2nd Boomerang Mile, beaten 7 lengths by Kingman in Irish 2000 Guineas) I, too, was sorry to hear of CIGAR'S passing. I'm sure he will be missed at the Kentucky Horse Park. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael (and also Brutus and Yuwipi), Thank you for your comments on SEEK AGAIN. I like BC superfectas, so I am always looking for horses that might be included along with WISE DAN and some Euros. I was intrigued by him because I had never before seen so clearly what a horse looks like when he surges forward with shoulder muscles all bulging and looking like he's going to take off like a rocket. :) I would never second-guess a jockey having to decide if there will be anywhere to go by the time he gets there or if he would just crash into another horse. I swear, I don't know how they do it. All those legs flying, and horses packed together and everybody just speeding along. It would scare me to death. :) Annie
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
More Breeders Cup news / chat, possibly of the "so what" variety. Is TOAST OF NEW YORK a serious contender for the BC Classic (I probably mean the Place and Show spots, but who knows?). The horse definitely has an engine (his Meydan form was outstanding) and it seems that trainer Jamie Osborne is preparing thoroughly. He took the horse to Southwell race track, which has our nearest equivalent to US dirt, to give it experience of "a bit of kickback" and the horse did "a nice piece of work". I like attention to detail. TOAST OF NEW YORK is 16/1 for the Classic. SHARED BELIEF is 7/4. Best Regards - Bernard Downes P.S. Sorry to hear about CIGAR. A great race horse.