03/30/2016 2:53PM

From California to Dubai


Any fears concerning CALIFORNIA CHROME's Dubai World Cup chances were allayed after the first three-sixteenths of a mile as the dual American classic winner traveled smoothly under Victor Espinoza while widest on the track.

Some folks wondered if an outside post would contribute to the favorite's demise, but California Chrome's connections have long believed that their star prefers to race in the clear instead of inside horses, where he would face traffic and kick-back.

California Chrome took the long way around from stalking range as the versatile multiple Grade 1 winner MSHAWISH proved a surprise pacesetter for Frankie Dettori. Racing slightly off the rail, perhaps in an attempt to float his main competition wider, Mshawish dropped fractions of 25.39, 48.98 and 1:12.57. He was all done in the final furlong, however, and looked like a very tired horse in the stretch. Perhaps Mshawish is simply more effective at shorter distances.

With Mshawish racing off the rail, runner-up MUBTAAHIJ had a dream run from the pocket. He skimmed the paint turning for home, but couldn't match California Chrome's powerful strides. Although he didn't change leads yet again, Mubtaahij ran a nice race. "He’s back to his best," jockey Christophe Soumillon" proclaimed to Meydan's media department. "It was an excellent run. I had a nice position but California Chrome is just a superb horse.” Perhaps we'll see Mubtaahij back in the United States later this summer.

FROSTED (fifth) and KEEN ICE (eighth) were disappointments. The former was placed nicely by William Buick on the backstretch as they followed California Chrome, but came under a ride pretty early and just didn't pop. "He wasn’t as good today as he was last time and I’m not sure why," Buick said after the World Cup.

Keen Ice wore down American Pharoah in the Travers at this ten-furlong distance last summer, but hasn't shown the same punch in his subsequent outings. Equipped with blinkers following a poor prep run at Meydan, he was under the whip a long way out and never fired.

HOPPERTUNITY (third) always tries hard and really put his head down in the stretch after a wide trip. He often finds one or two better at the wire, but his connections must be proud of the way he performed.

The story was California Chrome, who drove to the front turning for home and extended his margin to 3 3/4 lengths at the wire despite his saddle slowly slipping toward his tail. He finished off the distance in track record time of 2:01.83. "I'm just trying to keep my balance and not move my body," Espinoza said concerning the equipment malfunction. "I wasn't that concerned about it."

Following California Chrome's runner-up effort in last year's Dubai World Cup, one pondered whether we'd ever see him at his best again. An injury curtailed a European campaign and he just couldn't get back to the races that season.

Patience has paid off for trainer Art Sherman and company, though, as California Chrome is undefeated from three starts this year and looks as well as ever.

Now the richest North American-based horse of all time, California Chrome has his sights on the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita with a stop at Del Mar for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic a more short-term goal. It's possible he'll face the super mare BEHOLDER in one, if not both of those races.


Hello Dan. Long time reader of your posts and I enjoy your work. Just wanted to throw out the fact that the winter racing in NY this year has been as pathetic as I ever seen. AS a born and raised New Yorker and a follower of racing since the 70's, I believe it is time for the NYRA to pull the plug on the Jan-March dates. I can't even watch these boring parades of 5 and 6 horse fields strung out over the track for mind boggling purses. What is your take on this matter?

I agree that the racing hasn't been very good this winter, and it hasn't been very good for the last few winters. Perhaps the answer would be to move to a three-day week with seven or eight races a day. You might get better-sized fields. Quality is always going to be an issue in New York because the top-shelf horses winter in Florida, Arkansas or Louisiana.

I've always wished for an Aqueduct/Laurel/Parx partnership where the three tracks would host a month of racing with the others going dark. Let's say Laurel ran in January and hosted NY-bred and Pennsylvania-bred races along with their regular condition book. Purses would be infused with cash from the NYRA and Parx slots. The horsemen in these states would always have somewhere to go and make money during the winter months, there would be good-sized fields for bettors, the breeding industry in each state wouldn't go dry due to inactivity (breeding awards would still be paid from the state-bred races) and the "dark" tracks could work on maintaining and upgrading their facilities while still conducting simulcasting.

It's a nutty idea, to be sure, as cooperation among racing jurisdictions is as likely as a blue sunrise, but it's a thought.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 3/22/16 - 3/28/16:

1. S'MAVERLOUS - 100 - New Orleans Handicap (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 26Mar16-7FG
1. TAKE THE STAND (ARG) - 100 - Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 26Mar16-8FG
3. ROSE BRIER - 95 - OC35k/SAL35k - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 24Mar16-3GP
4. RED DOCTOBER - 94 - Alw 8000s - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 26Mar16-5PRX
4. ROYAL ALBERT HALL (GB) - 94 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 5Mar16-5SA
4. THATCHER STREET - 94 - Alw 40000N3L - 1 Mile (Turf) - 23Mar16-8GP
7. MAJOR LEAGUE - 93 - OC 50k/N2L -N - 6 Furlongs - 25Mar16-8OP
8. SUCCESSFUL NATIVE - 92 - OC25k/SAL25k - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 27Mar16-9GP
9. GUN RUNNER - 91 - Louisiana Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 26Mar16-10FG
9. HURRY UP ALAN - 91 - Clm c-12500 - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 26Mar16-4AQU
9. TREASURY BILL - 91 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 24Mar16-3FG
9. W. B. SMUDGE - 91 - OC 62k/N2Y -N - 6 Furlongs - 24Mar16-8OP
13. LADY SABELIA - 90 - Primonetta Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 26Mar16-7LRL
13. MIZZ MONEY - 90 - New Orleans Ladies Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Mar16-6FG
15. BOLD FANTASY - 89 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 27Mar16-3GG
15. EASEMENT - 89 - Clm 16000N3L - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 23Mar16-3GP
15. TUTTIPAESI (IRE) - 89 - Santa Ana Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 26Mar16-5SA
18. BIG SQUEEZE - 88 - Md Sp Wt 75k - 1 Mile - 26Mar16-7OP
18. GYPSUM JOHNNY - 88 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 26Mar16-8AQU
18. KAFISTER - 88 - OC 75k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 25Mar16-2SA
18. LAND OVER SEA - 88 - Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 26Mar16-9FG
18. LET US BE GLAD - 88 - Alw 44640N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 26Mar16-4FG
18. ROCKET TIME - 88 - OC 62k/N2Y -N - 1 Mile - 26Mar16-8OP
24. DALMORE - 87 - Md Sp Wt 56k - 1 1/16 Miles - 25Mar16-4SA
24. FOUR LEFT FEET - 87 - Clm 12500 - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 26Mar16-3HAW
24. WILLING TO TRAVEL - 87 - Alw 28062N1X - 1 1/8 Miles (Tapeta) - 27Mar16-9GG
24. WOODMANS LUCK - 87 - Clm 50000(50-45)N2Y - 1 Mile - 24Mar16-6OP

*The lifetime past performances for S'MAVERLOUS and TAKE THE STAND are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*HURRY UP ALAN was claimed for $12,500 by trainer Jeremiah Englehart from Patrick Reynolds.


Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Matt Bernier, Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis for Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Turfway Park and more beginning at 3pm ET on live.drf.com.


Congrats to Ed Kay for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.

Let's go with Saturday's Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park as this week's exercise.


Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

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

HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:

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 SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING .

1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.

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

3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR 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 identify who you are.

4. (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.

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

6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.

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 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.

HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100

Thanks Dan!




S'MAVERLOUS.pdf758.55 KB
Copy of HG 3 26 16 LA Derby Fair Grounds.xls51.5 KB
HGSPIRAL.pdf198.93 KB
pat More than 1 year ago


I decided to give a look at the AQU card and give close scrutiny on your pick. I like it for different reasons......and in a complete opposite view how I hate another Hushion who should go off at 1-5. That filly is Adriesta...who is dropping from MSW to Mclaim....in the 1st race. With lots of firsters most anything can happen. But Adriesta is NOT a good play. Running with the bias and losing at 1-2 in MSW in her last race and now coming back after almost 2 months. Red Flags and almost too many variables. a good play against......no matter what happens...it sure appears that she should run better than most anything. But these spots are ripe for a firster.

What I like about Urbanity.... a stiff move into the pace....and then backs off late.....that is awesome and shows major ability. I like horses who quicken into the bias....and for a first timer....great indication that the buttons are there to be pushed. SHE AIN"T LOSING.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Finally, they put up the entries for the SA Derby. No surprises, the same 5 MKBs I mentioned earlier have entered the race:



RON Z (AOS)'S Exaggerator

SR VEGAS' Smokey Image


Good luck to all!!!!


The special HG format looks intriguing. It will be most interesting (at least to me) to see if the HG players that have horses in those races, pick their own horse. :)


I think there should be a clarification as to when this contest starts, as it usually is preceded by Dan's Wednesday post. As there was no Wednesday post, some players do not have PPs for all three races??

Also, you may have to think of a second tie-breaker in the event more than one player picks the winner of all three races. They would still be tied after that first tie-breaker.


Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Wood - (6) Matt King Cole 
Two nice works since last, trainer having an excellent meet.

Blue Grass - (14) My Man Sam
Has shown steady improvement, closed well in last.

Santa Anita - Mor Spirit
Steadied in last and still ran a credible race.  Baffert always dangerous.

Carl C.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago

How tough was that $110,000 Turf way Park Pick 4 last Saturday. The DRF had several handicappers pick each leg going three deep. As I recall none of them mentioned a single winner in any of their three selectionsin three of the legs. I think a few had one horse hit the board. I don’t think I have ever seen that.  Difficult being a public handicapper having to post all your picks in print. Certainly glad my picks were not public.  I wonder if big player Ken Ramsay hit that sequence.

I have preached we live in a trainer centric world these days. For example two horses go in race at 8 tomorrow at KEE. 

HORSE ONE – well-bred KY filly broke her maiden  in MSW first out running BSF 68 with oldschool speed/variant total of 97. 23% trainer and capable jockey on board. Getsin light at 118.

HORSE TWO – well-bred PA filly also broke her maiden in MSWfirst out running a BSF of 68. With old school speed/variant total of 99. 24%trainer and capable jockey on board carries 123.

One horse is 12-1 ML and the other is 4-1 ML. WHY the huge difference? Easy…the second one is trained by Todd Pletcher and the second one is trained by very capable but lesser known Delacour. Horse one is named Formby,horse two is Firsthand Report.  I swear if you took the trainer names off the program just showing the horses running lines half the races in America would have different favorites.

Big day at KEE on Friday for my old hometown Henderson, KY boys. My old grade school classmate John Hancock has a couple in the opener. John always races in these 4.5F races. His M.O.  is buy cheap, train hard, win early then sell quickly.That has worked a few times as bigger owners always think “their” guys can improve off John. Some have been right. Billy Stinson has Whatthecatdrugin in race two. Do not let this man’s current win percentage fool you. He is a good trainer with mostly low level stock. I consider him the second best trainer in Henderson (outside Jones). Stinson previously trained this horse when he was a very sharp ALW type. Now he has him back. Stinson and my crew took a tough beat Friday night at TP losing within the shadow off the wire. In race three a close friend has 50% along with Larry of debut colt named Chaplain Rick. The dam could run a bit who he also owned. Shewas getting real good real quick at OP as a 3 YO then had a condylar issue. Done racing in a nanosecond. She has dropped little to date including one out of Hard Spun. That one was mental so they dropped her into claiming quickly.  Read what you like into this ….I am not playing Rick tomorrow. Finally we have Lily in race seven. I will share her workout reports with the community assuming they are available.

Go Urbanity for the Professor! Awesome breakdown of the race with solid reasoning for a play. I will throw a few bucks on this one. Thanks to Curt V, KYL, Bernard, Jeanne and Sinatra.

Ed Kay More than 1 year ago


Special HG Contest for Weekending April 9th:


Wood Memorial. The easy race of the three, since it features the predestined KD winner Shagaf. He’ll not only dominate this year’s 3 year olds at 10 furlongs, he’ll beat this bunch at today’s shorter distance.


Blue Grass Stakes. Ironic that when this race was seemingly universally disparaged for the track being synthetic, this race produced more in-the-money KD finishers than any other prep. Since then, none of those trainers who gush about how wonderful Keeneland was to restore dirt, send their best anymore. True again this year. So just have to go with the best trainer and the best jockey – legitimate favorite, Zulu.


Santa Anita Derby. Winner of his last three since his debut defeat, the class of this field looks like Danzing Candy. Foundation may be light, but talent isn’t. He probably doesn’t need any more Derby points, but connections may be all out to win to gain more foundation. I hope so.


HG selections:


Wood Memorial:       #1Shagaf

Blue Grass Stakes:  #4Zulu

Santa Anita Derby:  #3 Danzing Candy


Thanks,  Ed Kay

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Please excuse my cynicism, but while the ESPN.Leicester City story is interesting, it is in truth a total distortion.

So a Leicester City win will cost the poor Bookies $14,000,000?  I make that a grand total of just $2800 bet on them at 5000/1!!!  What about the mega millions they will save when the pre-season favourites Chelsea, Man City or Man United fail to win?  The British Bookies are always quick to complain when they have a losing day / week /  year, but  in reality, when massive outsiders win, Bookies make overall profits, not losses.

This point is reinforced by the second part of my response and is much more significant.

Yes, some smaller internet Bookies reneged on bets made at the recent Cheltenham jumps festival.  It is a highly competitive betting market and some Bookies offered spectacular bonuses to NEW customers (such as offering to pay double or triple the normal odds on particular horses).  And when some big hitting bettors opened new accounts and the Cheltenham races produced a stack of unfavourable results (i.e. unfavourable to the Bookies), those Bookies got their fingers burnt - badly burnt.

Thankfully for the reputation of the industry as a whole, most of the errant Bookies have changed their minds and have now paid up, but some haven't, claiming that some of the "NEW customers" aren't new at all, but are simply using new internet addresses.  Nasty business.  

That is why I stick to the bigger, more established companies (I have 10 separate betting accounts).  It is hard enough for me to pick a winner, so I want to guarantee I will get paid when I do so.

Best Regards - Bernard Downes.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I am sure we are nice and square, but just to clarify, my post should have included some of those "LOLS".

You wondered how they found stones that weighed exactly 14 pounds.  Wikipedia says the ancient Romans "crafted" them.  I presume that means they broke / chipped them as required.   

Whatever, although I am a traditionalist in racing, I have no great preference between stones and pounds (weight) - my arithmetic can just about cope.  Just leave those blasted kilograms out of discussions - the rest of Europe can keep them.

Best Regards - Bernard Downes 

Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
Thursday Special URBANITY – Thursday April 7 in Aqu 9

There have been 35 races at AQU so far this meet – 19 of them have been won by someone with the last name of Ortiz. The late P4 looks VERY chalky, so not sure what I am going to do – likely just play Urbanity ATB with a win kicker and some in race exotics.

AQU 9. 1/5/4-2-6
#1 Urbanity (3/1). I know she is listed at only 3/1, but I really like Urbanity for a couple of reasons as I liked her debut where she was fanned wide and ran a decent third on the inner for Hushion. The raw time was slow. His debuters win occasionally, but he is much better second time out as he runs at a very high percentage (8/16 most recently). They often improve tremendously between the first and second starts so it is best with his second time starters to ignore their debut number (61 Beyer – second highest in the field) as it will likely be higher here – maybe significantly. Love the jockey switch to JL Ortiz as well. Her debut was March 13 and she came back to work a nice 4f at the end of March in 48.2 B (6/65). Finally, she catches a field that looks relatively weak. The main knock is that she is not really bred to sprint in my opinion as her dam, Satin Smooth was sired by Giant’s Causeway and her sire, Bernadini seems to be a better mid distance influence. But they win often enough while sprinting to not worry so much that. However, that extra half furlong today likely helps. The other potential worry is that she is a 3YO in a 3YO and up MSW, but there are 11 horses entered and 10 are 3YO, so there is only a single 4YO, #4 Dream On (12/1), who has not run since 2014. She really looks solid to me. Of the other contenders, I think there are three horses to be concerned with here. The first is Dream On as the only 4YO in the field. She is a big question mark and it would not surprise me if she was the second best horse or worst horse in the field. I do not think that the weight allowance at this time of year is generally enough to make up for the maturity difference between 3YO’s and older horses, so she has that advantage. Dream On had two starts as a 2YO where she showed decent early speed, but faded to lose by double digits both times with neither Beyer even hitting the 50 mark (but those are 2YO Beyers). She is half to crack sprinter Agave Kiss who was 10-6-1-1 for almost $400K winning her first six career starts. Her sire is Cosmonaut, not Lion Heart as it was for Agave Kiss, so she has a more distance orientated pedigree than her half-sister. While it is tough to bring a horse into the race after a 516 day layoff as there were obvious physical issues in the interim, at 12/1 she might be an interesting exotic partner and even a saver if she comes back right. That is a huge IF, but she worries me a bit. The best horse on paper in this race is #5 Riot Worthy (7/2) who has been close in the same class a couple of times. Her raw times at 6f on the inner are both over one second faster than Urbanity and her last two Beyers are 61 and 68 so she has the highest Beyer in the field and is also tied for the second highest Beyer as well. In addition, her Beyer numbers seem to be progressing. She has never finished more than 5 lengths behind the winner in any race. She gets blinkers for this and switches jockeys to Arroyo. However, she is 8-0-5-1, so she has had plenty of chances and is the most likely horse to run second here based on her past performances and record. Finally, I am a bit interested in #2 Judy’s Fudge (12/1) for exotic purposes. This first timer from the Asmussen comes from a family of runners. Dam has had 13 runners make it to the track and 12 have won. Ten of those runners have multiple wins and there are two stakes winners as well. Sire Sidney’s Candy has been OK with debuters at 10% while Asmussen sits around 18%. Works are OK as well. Nothing to get overly excited about, but certainly seems to have the potential to sneak into the exotic mix at a bit of a price. #6 Hot Cajun Spice (15/1) ran OK in debut for Charlton Baker, especially if you consider the troubled start where she lost four lengths. The others have little interest for me except for Eighth Commandment who is half to Sing Dixie Sing (14-6-2-3 for $237K), but Donk is weak with debuting horses (1/43) and nothing else of note.

Rick Marciniak More than 1 year ago
Special HG Contest for Weekending April 9th:

- Start your post with HG , GIVE A REASON for your selections, and SIGN YOUR NAME OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST .

- (3) Specially Designated Races for the week : Wood Memorial - Santa Anita Derby - Bluegrass Stakes. No Exotics. No Pick 3's. 
- Choose one horse per race. Please use Number and Name. Don't mess this up. 
- Points awarded to top four  finishers:  1st=100, 2nd =40, 3rd =20,  4th =10
-Points can be accumulated and the contestant with the highest point total will be declared the winner.
-Any ties will be decided by the track payout amount ( or accumulated) for horses finishing 1st-2nd-3rd in each race.
-Dan Illman will have final approve the results and winner. 

Choose Wisely!!

Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
The solution for the formatting issue of words running together when pasting from a Word document to the blog is to right click in the text box and hit "paste as plain text" instead of paste (or use "Ctrl+Shift+V" for the same result). It got me the first time I posted with the new format, but since I have been doing that, I have had no issues.

I posted last week regarding a second timer starter named Urbanity from the Hushion barn that I REALLY liked, but they cancelled Aqu that day. He goes Thursday in Aqu 9 against the exact same horses save for one that scratched out. I still REALLY like him.