10/09/2013 2:09PM

Champagne Dreamers


One of the more intriguing races run last weekend was the historic Champagne at Belmont. 

It featured two horses with drastically different running styles.  HONOR CODE, so impressive when rallying from another time zone to win his maiden over wet going at Saratoga, faced off with the speedy HAVANA, a gate-to-wire graduate for Todd Pletcher.

HAVANA gutted out the win after dispatching 19-1 longshot DEBT CEILING (eased) on the turn, but I wasn't enamored with the way he finished off the Champagne.  He was on his right lead very early and looked like he was on fumes in the final sixteenth of a mile.  He'd have to stretch out around two turns for the first time in the Breeders' Cup and it's possible he's more of a sprinter/miler. 

HONOR CODE, as he did at Saratoga, lagged far behind before coming with a wide late bid to just miss.  According to Formulator, Honor Code finished his final quarter in 24.51 (as compared to Havana's 25.69 split) and acts like a colt that will appreciate more distance.  I must admit, though, that I've never been a fan of horses with virtually no early speed as they're always at the mercy of race and pace luck.  Both of these babies will grab headlines leading up to the Breeders' Cup (Honor Code may wait for the Remsen going nine furlongs at Aqueduct), but it wouldn't surprise me if someone jumps up and bites them both.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (9/30/13 - 10/6/13)

1. POINTS OFFTHEBENCH - 110 - Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
2. SILVER MAX - 108 - Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Keeneland
3. NO JET LAG - 105 - City of Hope Mile (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
4. KID DREAMS - 103 - Hawthorne Derby (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Hawthorne
5. EMOLLIENT - 100 - Spinster Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) - Keeneland
5. JUDY THE BEAUTY - 100 - Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Keeneland
5. SUM OF THE PARTS - 100 - Phoenix Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Keeneland
8. CAIXA ELETRONICA - 99 - Duck Dance Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
8. POWER BROKER - 99 - Indiana Derby (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - Indiana
10. BETTER LUCKY - 98 - First Lady Stakes (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Keeneland
10. ULTIMATE SHOPPER - 98 - Maiden Special Weight - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
12. HAVELOCK - 97 - Woodford Stakes (G3) - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Keeneland
12. SR. QUISQUEYANO - 97 - Quality Road Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Gulfstream
14. BULL DOZER - 96 -  OC 80k/N3X  - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Keeneland
15. BERNIE THE MAESTRO - 95 - Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Indiana
15. JAMES STREET - 95 - Durham Cup (G3-C) - 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) - Woodbine
15. ROUSING SERMON - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
15. TEDDY'S PROMISE - 95 - L. A. Woman Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Santa Anita
19. PURE FUN - 94 - Indiana Oaks (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - Indiana
19. SAFE RANGE - 94 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - Retama
19. SERVICE CHOICE - 94 - Alw 66972N1X - 6 Furlongs - Parx
19. WARREN'S KNOCKOUT - 94 - OC 40k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - Zia
23. HAVANA - 93 - Champagne Stakes (G1) - 1 Mile - Belmont
23. HEART STEALER - 93 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Gulfstream
23. UP WITH THE BIRDS - 93 - Jamaica Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Belmont

*The lifetime past performances for POINTS OFFTHEBENCH are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Dan Illman
Dan, I'm looking at the DRF 3 year best time chart and I don't
see and entry for Presque Isle Downs. Am I looking at the
chart wrong?

We're looking at correcting the issue for the online list.  As for now, here are the best times:

4 1/2 Furlongs - 50.22
5 Furlongs - 56.04
5 1/2 Furlongs - 1:02.54
6 Furlongs - 1:08.42
6 1/2 Furlongs - 1:15.20
1 Mile - 1:34.90
1 Mile 70 Yards - 1:40.48
1 1/16 Miles - 1:43.95
1 1/8 Miles - 1:50.55
1 1/4 Miles - 2:06.78
1 1/2 Miles - 2:35.49
1 5/8 Miles - 2:47.01
1 3/4 Miles - 2:59.27
2 Miles - 3:32.12
2 1/8 Miles - 3:47.52
2 1/4 Miles - 3:56.04


Dale Romans over the last month has been a "Giant Slayer". Silver Max holds off Wise Dan, impressive! Little Mike comes off the pace to win Turf Classic, impressive! Over the course of the summer most have thought these 2 were near the end of their careers, but clearly its the rise of the phoenix. Any thoughts on these 2 and how you would view them if they do go to the BC?
Also, How as a handicapper do you view a Wise Dan or Groupie Doll view/rate them going to the BC off a loss? I'm using these 2 as an example because they are highly regarded.

I think we should also add ROYAL DELTA to the conversation as well.  In the case of WISE DAN and Royal Delta, I don't think we should jump off their bandwagon.  The polytrack that Wise Dan raced over was soaked with rain and it's possible he didn't care for that.  Also, it wouldn't surprise me if both Charles LoPresti and Bill Mott backed off a bit on the training leading up to the final prep run.  The goal is the Breeders' Cup and it's more important for the big names to be wound up 110% for their respective races at Santa Anita. 

I'd be much more concerned if the big name horses ran bad races. Neither of the two aforementioned performers ran poorly, just not to their usual stellar level. Wise Dan coasted up wide and tried to reel in an uncontested leader to no avail.  Royal Delta faced the best 3-year-old filly in the country in a race that may have been PRINCESS OF SYLMAR's "Breeders' Cup" (she's currently on the fence for the Distaff). They're both going to be very tough in the Breeders' Cup.

I'm not so sure about GROUPIE DOLL.  Although she broke the track record at Presque Isle Downs two back, she had to work hard to run down a reformed $4,000 claimer in the stretch.  While she hasn't run badly, she just doesn't look like the filly that was so dominant in 2012.  She was urged along from the get-go at Keeneland and didn't show that fire when the real racing began. 

SILVER MAX is, doubtlessly, a talented horse and he ran a corker last weekend at Keeneland.  The Breeders' Cup, however, could be another story.  At Keeneland, he was able to cruise on the lead, a style that's worked wonders for him throughout his career.  In the Mile, it's likely he'll face pressure from the speedy OBVIOUSLY.  A protracted duel could sap his stretch stamina.  If he decides to rate, his effectiveness comes into question. 

I've learned never to count out LITTLE MIKE.  Just when you're ready to write him off, the gusty horse will jump up and run another huge race.  I'm assuming that at least one of the Europeans can run a little bit and POINT OF ENTRY is reportedly pointing for the race despite missing the summer with injury.  I'm mostly on the fence with Little Mike.


Dear Dan,
I've been an occasional HG player, and I enjoy your blog. I currently have 8 thoroughbreds racing...unfortunately I've only made your weekly top 25 once. Since you seem to be the most responsive of the DRF principals....I have a question. Myself along with hundreds of others have spent thousands of dollars buying PPs, etc through the website. But my question is this....does the business understand how many customers will be lost with the push for everything to be "DRF+"? I understand the business is looking to make more money...but this is the wrong way to go about it IMHO.
A concerned customer - Jason Ryan

"Dan, who do we complain to at DRF regarding the filling the home page with DRF+ material only? What a turn off. I know all entities need to make money, but this is just such a blatant money grab."
Let me be quite clear and prolific on this.

I'm not involved in the decision-making process regarding pricing so the best course of action could be to send an email to cservice2@drf.com.


Hi Dan,
Would it be possible to get lifetime PPSfor Black Caviar?
Thank you!!
Dom DiNatale

BLACK CAVIAR's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


The weekend handicapping videos should be up on the homepage later this week.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Anderson for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling contest.

Rick M's HandiGambling scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Anderson selects Friday's 4th race at Santa Anita for this week's event.


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.


I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/concerns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.COM and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!



Best of luck to all.

Copy of Formblog Phoenix 10-5-13.xls68 KB
HGSA.pdf167.67 KB
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Tony Ryan; Welcome to FormBlog. You will, in time, find this to be the kindest, most informative and friendly place on the world wide web. Yes, at times things can become contentious, and even obnoxious, and you will wonder why so many of the fine folks here are behaving as if they hate each other, but when that happens (and it does), just think about your family and the corresponding extended family, and you will begin to understand (although you will still find that inexcusable at times). I find this place to be so real that I just brush it all off as the unfortunate consequence of having such a fine, unique and supremely eclectic gathering of racing enthusiasts, handicappers, and others-that-don’t-fit-into-that-box-types, that you will ever come across. Blame that on Sheriff Illman, as he is known around these parts. As to your question about turf racing, there really isn’t much more that I will add to what Dan and DavidM9999 posted, other than reinforcing what my main points-of-focus for turf racing are for races conducted over here; 1. Pace – This is a critical component in my turf handicapping, but only because if I don’t see an overwhelming advantage for a particular entrant, then I will usually pass the race. 2. Class – Entrants that have exhibited superior ability in races where the competition is less-than-or-equal to those whom he/she will face, should always be the focus; and 3. Price – This is concomitant to that of the class of the entrant, and whether or not the pace advantage that I seek exists. These points-of-focus are for me, integral to my success at turf handicapping. I, therefore, have good news and I have bad news for these aforementioned points-of-focus;. 1. The bad news is that many, many races will not meet this criteria, resulting in the passing of many races; however, 2. The good news is that over time, there are hundreds… and I do mean hundreds of really good races, that will fit-this-bill. Learn your strengths by practicing. Practice by handicapping, and then watching these races. Read the charts. Learn your weaknesses by practicing. Then, Really learn your weaknesses by handicapping, wagering, and then watching these races. Nothing teaches you better than the lessons of the wallet. Understand, over time, what your weaknesses are, and understand what your strengths are. Avoid races that fall into your weakness category. Exploit races where you have an edge. As my Caddie, Baggs, says to me before I play a 5-iron left-to-right, cut into a right-to-left wind over water from 175 yards…”know thyself”. Good to have you here at FormBlog, my Irish-friend. vs
Tony Ryan More than 1 year ago
DavidM9999 thank you for the pointers they are much appreciated!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dick W, HA HA, but how do I know I would get my money's worth. :) Have fun!!! Annie
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Turf Handicapping – DAVIDM9999 Top Ten for Tony Ryan 1. Turf racing is unique. Consider turf form only. Dirt is dirt, synthetic is synthetic and grass is grass. Say this daily like your Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s each night. Probably a good idea to line out all dirt races with Sharpie so you cannot even read the line. 2. Read race conditions closely especially with experienced horses. Determine if horse is up/down/ or level in class. Refer to race charts for field composition to confirm field strength. 3. If playing America (not applicable in Europe). Caluclate ½ mile speed and last point of call closing times. This gives you early pace and late pace projections. Most turf races in America are becoming 3F sprint home after leisurely 5F gallops. Not always though with sprints obviously having different dynamic. 4. Develop list of sires that move on grass. Again turf sires can be unique. Many produce horses that are not competitive on dirt. Use Tomlinson’s with caution if at all (I avoid). You may have to as you learn which sires are capable of producing horses that move on grass. 5. Impute STRONG grass improvement from grass sires and grass connections when horses debut on grass. Expect some debacles but the ones that win pay enough to offset misses. 6. Forget odds board. Many grass horses will pay LARGE as most bettors are considering dirt form when handicapping grass. Reread step 1. 7. Save yourself an ulcer by avoiding inside horses. American jockeys have the propensity to hug the rail getting checked when the real running starts. A lot of jockeys think they are Jerry Bailey but are cloer to Barnum and Bailey. All ties go to the middle and outside posts. 8. Expect people to think your methods are crazy. Establish a comfy base camp at Mount Delusional. You cannot follow the herd like the horses. 9. Consider grass conditions when handicapping. You must forgive some poor efforts over non-firm ground. Some horses prefer give other don’t. Basically pray for firm ground – it simplies. 10. Reread rule 1 but please never forget the prayer component. Gamblers need a higher power’s help several times on each race card. Good luck Tony.
Laura More than 1 year ago
I combed through the BC races looking at the prep races, winning running style, role of favorites, how the Euros do, etc. The BC day 1 races are posted. Day 2 will be available tomorrow. I hope everyone finds it useful. http://www.horseracingnation.com/blogs/pedigree_power/2013_Breeders_Cup_Winning_Ways_123 Tony Ryan, Welcome to the Formblog! If everyone would like to have a Breeders' Cup Chat, I still need someone to volunteer as a moderator. It's an easy job, just post the races and discuss them. Let me know what time you'd like to start the chat and I'll advertise it. I'll post the transcript the following day. Please email me at lross@ironmaidensthoroughbreds.com for more info. I'm all excited about attending my first ever BC. Chalky is driving me nuts about taking her shopping in Beverly Hills. She's already packed her finest bling and is pestering me about getting her new outfits to wear. Laura Laura
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
CMathieu66, I saw A.L. was entered Thursday.....about what I expected a conditioned allowance, NW1x or not 2 lifetime. That I consider a cautious entry.....he's listed at 10-1.....the poly doesn't bother me, except for the fact that conditions wise he would have had to run against tougher more than likely and Motion didn't want to go there. That isn't a plus considering his run at Gulf against War Dancer....he's treating AL with kid gloves. That could be due to his injury and he's taking it slow knowing AL's potential, having next year to look forward too.....The problem is you have to pay to find out. I have a break in the action here so I will look at the rest of the field, some I'm familiar with, some not so much.....I'll write back when I'm done. As far as them gelding him? Must have been a quick snip because he was a colt a month ago....could be a typo....I'll check. Mike A
Dick W More than 1 year ago
STUCKINARIZONA You have been added. Welcome aboard the PH train ! Annie and SR Thanks for the well wishes. I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience ! I am not certain how often I will be able to post, but will try to post any horse related stuff. Annie Although she is technically a mare, she is a filly at heart :-) and if who desire more info, you will be required to subscribe to Dick W Plus :-) Dick W
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
Dick W, I would like to meet you, too. I don't have any business at the sale I haven't decided, yet, if I'm going. If I go, it would most likely be on Tuesday. If you like, you can send me your contact information through my website and I'll call you. http://classicchampionthoroughbreds.com/contact.php If we can't get together for this trip, we'll get together the next time you visit Kentucky.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
JIm Miller With Hawthorne starting up I noticed JIm Miller back on the TVG track updates. I thought he left for a position with Midwest Thoroughbreds back in 2012. He is solid so I am glad to see he is back but what is the story? PGM do you know?
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Tampa – Reputational Repair I have given Tampa Bay Downs a lot of grief over the past few years on this site. Why? I thought some shenanigans were occurring. I do like their turf races. I typically bet some these in pick 3 and 4’s. That means a steady diet of super trainers like Ms. Jane Cibelli, Jamie Ness, and Jorge Navarro. A while back I played a $20 TBD Pick 3 this way NESS, NESS, NESS just for fun. (I think I hit 2-3 by the way, figures right?) I suspect the betting machines at Tampa may not have the horse numbers but the trainers listed instead. Reacting to widespread public pressure Tampa is barring Cibelli and Navarro for 2013-14. That seems like a good start. A better move would have been a lifetime ban but organization and tracks often make incremental adjustments avoiding more effective quantum leaps that they view as too painful. It will take a while for Tampa to regain its reputation from the horse players around this great land. For me watching spokesman Margot Flynn give the 2013-14 paddock reports will be a sad reminder of the mistakes the track has made. BP replaced Tony Hayward trying to repair it mortally tarnished reputation. TBD may consider doing likewise but most likely all the dominos have already fallen. Here is quote I like about reputation – “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was”.