06/01/2016 5:04PM

California turf horses to watch

There were a couple of nice performances on turf at Santa Anita over the Memorial Day weekend.
*ILLUMINANT has always hinted at potential and she came through with a fast and professional victory in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. A 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road, Illuminant tracked pacesetter FANTICOLA through moderate fractions of 24.00, 48.04 and 1:12.31. Illuminant always seemed to be traveling better than Fanticola, took over the lead turning in the stretch and had more than enough to beat back favored WEKEELA. Illuminant received a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for her 1:48.34 final clocking.
"Fanticola was the only speed in the race so I knew I needed to be right there," winning jockey Flavien Part told track publicity. "My filly has speed too, so I knew it would be ok. The turf is a bit softer here and that’s maybe better for her, especially going a mile and an eighth. And here at Santa Anita I feel it’s better if you’re closer to the lead."
Illuminant has been rock-solid in all of her turf races, compiling a 8-4-2-1 record on the green. In the start prior to the Gamely, she shipped to Keeneland for a date with the monstrous Tepin in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes. Illuminant ran well for third after pressing a solid pace up front and that race gave trainer Michael McCarthy, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher, hope that a big win was right down the road. 
Illuminant boasts excellent tactical speed and can adapt to any pace situation. Nine furlongs seems like a very comfortable distance and she should be followed in middle-distance graded events in Southern California.
*SI SAGE has found his niche at 10 furlongs on the grass in Southern California. The 6-year-old, a former claimer in his native France, bounced to the front in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes, set legitimate fractions of 23.15, 47.02 and 1:11.23 under Mike Smith, and kept right on going in the stretch. He completed the distance in 1:59.48, a time good enough for a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. 
"He got carried out a little bit when we were crossing the dirt," Smith told track publicity after the race. "We went a bit quicker than I wanted to go but in doing so he was well within himself, was comfortable, very relaxed and sometimes you’ve just got to let a fast horse be fast.”
Si Sage ran well, but just couldn't get over the hump after arriving in North America during the summer of 2013. In his first 11 stateside appearances for now-retired trainer Darrell Vienna, Si Sage placed in two graded stakes races, but failed to find the winner's circle. 
On the recommendation of jockey Elvis Trujillo, Vienna added blinkers and Si Sage became a different animal. In his first race with the hood, Si Sage pulled a 42 to 1 shocker in the Grade 3 Last Tycoon Stakes at 10 furlongs at Santa Anita. The blinkers made Si Sage more aggressive, sharpened his speed and transformed him from a midpack runner into a horse that wanted to race closer to the pace. 
Unfortunately, Si Sage couldn't immediately build on that upset win as he was sidelined with a severe bout of colic that required hospitalization. Away from the races for over a year, Si Sage returned with an eighth-place finish in the Grade 3, one-mile Thunder Road Stakes and a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 American Stakes. He had excuses for both defeats. The Thunder Road was probably only a prep off the bench while the American was washed off the turf. The Whittingham, Si Sage's second start for trainer James Cassidy, marked Si Sage's third race of the current form cycle and a return to 1 1/4 miles (he is now 5-2-1-0 at 10 furlongs and 21-3-5-2 at all other trips). 
The turf course at Santa Anita has been speed-friendly of late, but Si Sage's good early gas should play nicely in similar longer-distance grass heats in Southern California over the summer. He's one to watch in the short term.
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/24/16 - 5/30/16:
1. SI SAGE (FR) - 102 - Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 29May16-8SA
2. ARE YOU KIDDING ME - 100 - Eclipse Stakes (G2-C) - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 28May16-8WO 
2. AVANTI BELLO - 100 - Tiznow Stakes - 1 Mile - 28May16-8SA 
2. ILLUMINANT - 100 - Gamely Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 30May16-8SA 
5. PAY ANY PRICE - 99 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 30May16-9GP 
6. AMBITIOUS BREW - 98 - Lennyfrommalibu Stakes - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 28May16-1SA
6. COMFORT - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 29May16-8BEL
6. CYRUS ALEXANDER - 98 - Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 30May16-9LS 
6. GIFT BOX - 98 - OC 80k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 26May16-8BEL
10. DREFONG - 97 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 30May16-3SA 
10. RICHIES SWEETHEART - 97 - Honor the Hero Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 30May16-7CBY
10. TAPITATION - 97 - Kingston Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 30May16-7BEL
13. CHUBLICIOUS - 96 - John J. Reilly Handicap - 6 Furlongs - 28May16-9MTH
14. LIVING THE LIFE (IRE) - 95 - All American Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Tapeta) - 30May16-6GG 
14. WEEKEND HIDEAWAY - 95 - Commentator Stakes - 1 Mile - 30May16-3BEL
16. ENOLA GRAY - 94 - Melair Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 28May16-4SA 
16. LONG HOT SUMMER - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 30May16-5SA 
18. BLUE DANCER - 93 - Journal Handicap - 6 Furlongs - 28May16-4NP 
18. EL DEAL - 93 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 28May16-5PRX 
18. GOOD BYE GREG - 93 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 30May16-8AP 
18. INDIAN GUIDE - 93 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 29May16-6GP 
18. ISABELLA SINGS - 93 - Miss Liberty Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 29May16-9MTH
18. LEXIE LOU - 93 - Nassau Stakes (G2-C) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 29May16-8WO 
18. STORM POWER - 93 - Ed Skinner Memorial Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 28May16-8PRM
18. TALE OF FANCY - 93 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 28May16-7BEL
*Si Sage's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
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 at 4pm ET on Saturday for coverage of Belmont, Santa Anita and more. Please join us at http://www.live.drf.com.
Congrats to Sinatra Jeter for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Let's go with Saturday's Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont for this week's exercise.
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!


SiSage.pdf840.84 KB
HG 5 28 16 Matron Stakes.xls54.5 KB
SR Vegas 11 months ago
I forgot to add
Woodbines first  'Euro Turf'  race is tomorrow, 6/10/11 race #1  5F Starter allow 3 yo +

SR Vegas
SR Vegas 11 months ago
..The British are coming , The British are coming  !! "  

Well..., at least   'Euro Turf style'  racing is coming to Woodbine .
Up to 40 races are slated to be contested clockwise over the world-famous E.P. Taylor Turf Course throughout the 2016 season.   By running races clockwise, more of the turf course will be utilized, allowing for more turf races at Woodbine.
How cool is that !  KNM and NAR , I hope you get a chance to enjoy a day of  that.  Ned Daly , perhaps it may be on the Queens Plate card the day you attend ?



SR Vegas
ed 11 months ago
Check out the Astoria, Belmont 7th race, 4:14 pm today if you can. 9 horses going 5 1/2 f. 8 winners and 1 losing by a neck in their only race. Fun race. edb
pat 11 months ago

Curious race at Pimlico...in the 1st ...amateur female riders. This was the race that used to be on Black Eye Susan Day....and a race with controversy in that the certain winner 2 years ago stood up at the 1/16th pole costing my old drinking buddy a win. Big Pools then...today not as big.

Here is few to thing about

1st.#3 The trainer pops when you least expect it. WPS and doubles to all in the 2nd.

2nd #3 at a huge price , perfect prep in last for the stretch and a very clever trainer who will be BIG one day.

4th I have not been impressed with the Motion MD string(again) I like the #2 and the #8 and will figure a way to play them both.

5th #11 at a price these connections can be dangerous. And to "steal" from PRO MO...I've been told that one path off the rail on Preakness Day on the turf was worse than the rail.

7th I like the #1 who might be favored

pat gavin

Mac930My 11 months ago
Belmont 6-9-16

Pick 5. 50 cent ticket =54 x10 = $540

45/135/35/1210/245.  2x3x2x3x3. = $54

Win // Place. $300 / $600

R1. #4
R2. #5
R3. #5
R4. #1
R5. #4

Good Luck

Whackymacky Out!!!!
God Bless Longshots 11 months ago
Belmont Today Race 8 Intercontinental Stakes

#10 RUMBLE DOLL (20/1)

I've simply failed to understand why is this mare 20/1 ML? Perfect candidate to upset or at the least a must in the exotics. Beats me!


Anonymous 11 months ago

I want to give acknowledgement to JOE NEVILLS, DRF sales editor, for his very clever Belmont Stakes Haiku!!!! A must read! And, thankfully, DRF made it free on the sidebar. :)

I especially loved the SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS haiku:

"Rider change on top

Newfound equipment below

Prospects are middling"

I cracked up. In case you hadn't heard they discovered that SBN was not a gelding, but was actually a ridgeling, hence the "newfound equipment below". Classic.


SR Vegas 11 months ago
...came across this last night over at the Paulick Report. An interesting take on breeding and Triple Crown Races and  why there are so few winners.



HOLY MKB’s BATMAN !  As you noted …there is a slew ‘ of MKB horses on the Belmont Park undercard Saturday. What a nice day of races.  In addition to the MKB’s you noted for The Belmont Stakes, here are more from the current or previous years. 

MKB 2016

-Race# 1  $150K Easy Goer Stakes  1 1/16M

CUPID - Laura

ECONOMIC MODEL - Rkccasselberry


-Race #7  $500K WoodyStephens  7F

I WILL SCORE  -AlydarandEasy 


TALE of S’AVALL – Peter


2015 MKB season:

-Race # 9   $1.25 Million  Metropolitan Hdcp  1M



EL KABEIR – Yuwipi


CALCULATOR – Pat gavin


previous MKB  years:

-Race # 4  $400K Brooklyn Invitational   1  1/2M

ELNAAWI - Hairy  (2013)

SAMRAAT  - Rando6 (2014)


-Race #6  $300K  Jaipur Intl 6F

MOSLER – Laura (2014)

GREEN MASK – Brutus (2014)


-Race # 13   $62K AOC   7F

SIR BOND – Brutus  (2012)


-Race # 10  $1 Million Manhattan Stakes  1  1/4M turf

DIVISIDERO-  Ok not a MKB , but one of my favorites I’ve been following :)


These MKB’s just keep giving and giving. Good luck to all on Saturday. Come home safe.


SR Vegas


ed 11 months ago
I love the new word of the day. SLOG. Rolls off the tongue. I guess I slog through the supermarket. I start off with the best of intentions and still take the long way around. I hate when my horses slog. I do see four sloggers at 30-1 and they would be my bottom super. I think Trojan Nation has the most potential, but no rain means no gain. I'm leaning toward Seeking the Soul will be the last one seeking the wire. I just wish safe trips for all the sloggers.
I'm still trying to figure out who can beat Ex... I don't think Cherry Wine can pass a pooped Ex... Strad and SBN are the only two who can upset for me. Will Strad tuck behind Gettysburg and be the first to pounce? What will SBN's excuse in this race? Lani is getting better. Talk about a tough education. He does slog early so far. Was 10 back in the KD, 5 back in the Preakness and now what? If you like SBN, what about Destin? Not the most inviting 6-1 I have ever seen. Brody's Cause. Two bad races and one win so far this year. I hope this horse gets back on the rails. I was spoiled by Nyquist. A win machine with a big heart. Ex. has won 5 of 11. It would not shock me to see him lose. This is definitely a great super race. Lots of pieces that just don't fit. I lost money with 4 winning tickets in KD and almost lost money in the Preakness with winning tickets. Thank you Cherry Wine. My wife is still going with CW for WPS. He will be in the mix. Time to make some money on this one.
David no.9, no.9, no.9, no.9,
You are always in fine form. Thanks for sharing.
Let's all have a great Belmont day.   edb
Anonymous 11 months ago

Ron, Dan, Rick, Alfredo, Joe and Dick,

Remember when your boys were little two-year-olds back in December? And you didn't know if they could possibly develop into any kind of racehorse? Now here they are, big boys ready to run in the prestigious Belmont Stakes. Of course, RON'S Exaggerator had already won two graded stakes and ALFREDO'S Brody's Cause had won a Gr1 stakes, but JOE L'S Creator and DICK W'S Gettysburg were still maidens, and RICK'S Destin and DAN'S Stradivari had only a maiden win to their credit. Stradivari took so long to come back to the races this year that he was considered MIA and Dan picked up another horse, SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS, in the March draw. And here he is too. Makes up for all the years Dan's horses didn't amount to much. : )

As for PAT, he got another chance, getting his CHERRY WINE in the March draw. Now they will all face each other at a mile and a half. Good luck to all of you!!!


In the Belmont, we have an interesting owner/breeding interest situation. In case you didn't read about it, WinStar owns CREATOR and GETTYSBURG, and has a breeding interest in EXAGGERATOR. When WinStar saw the lack of pace in this Belmont, the decided to enter Gettysburg. One problem, Gettysburg was trained by Todd Pletcher, who also has DESTIN and STRADIVARI in the race, either one of which could go off and set a slow space which could hinder WinStar's interests. So, what did they do? They took Gettysburg from Todd and put him with Steve Asmussen, who trains Creator for them. I believe the intent was to make sure there was no conflict of interest as to how Gettysburg should be used in the race, even if it compromises Todd's two horses. Of course, this could all backfire, and work out better for Stradivari/Destin to have a target instead of setting the pace. We shall see.