03/30/2016 1:53PM

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