08/31/2011 7:52PM

On the Comeback Trail

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Last week's racing action featured several 3-year-olds on the comeback trail and the big names ran very well. 

*THE FACTOR, out since displacing his palate and fracturing his left hind ankle, blitzed older rivals in the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Pat O'Brien Stakes over the Del Mar polytrack.  The Factor took the race right to three-time Grade 1 winner SMILING TIGER, put that one away through a swift second quarter of 21.85 and was never in jeopardy in the stretch.  The talented, but fragile, CROWN OF THORNS finished up well for third in his first race since suffering his latest malady, a foot abscess.  Smiling Tiger may need a break.  The O'Brien was his seventh race on the season and he has been in steady training since last August.

*UNCLE MO, away since grabbing a quarter and suffering an internal illness, was extremely game in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga.  After rating off a sizzling pace, Uncle Mo made a wide bid, took the lead in the stretch and just dropped a heart-wrenching photo to the in-form CALEB'S POSSE.  Let's take nothing away from the winner, who successfully prepped for the King's Bishop with a similar in-out, come-from-behind win in the Amsterdam Stakes earlier in the meet.   Caleb's Posse has found his niche as a late-running sprinter.  Capable at distances up to 1 1/16 miles, Caleb's Posse may be pointed for either the Breeders' Cup Sprint or the Dirt Mile around one turn at Churchill Downs. 

*Don't forget last year's Remsen winner, TO HONOR AND SERVE, who mopped the floor with older horses in his second start back since injuring a left front suspensory.  Trained by Bill Mott, the long-winded To Honor and Serve still has a chance to make an impact on this year's 3-year-old picture. 

*ACCLAMATION is one of the most improved horses in training and he continued his excellent run by taking some good older runners on a merry chase in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.  Proven going long on the turf, Acclamation still needed to show he could handle the main track, especially the polytrack footing at Del Mar.  Comfortable on the front end under Pat Valenzuela, Acclamation rattled off "24s" all the way around the track, holding off TWIRLING CANDY in the lane in track record time.  Although beaten a scant head, Twirling Candy may be a bit better at shorter distances.  GAME ON DUDE faltered in the stretch after chasing Acclamation early.  The Baffert-trained 4-year-old may be better on dirt. 

*STAY THIRSTY is making a case for leading 3-year-old male honors after taking the historic Travers Stakes at 1 1/4 miles.  It's hard to believe he's emerged from stablemate Uncle Mo's shadow to take the Gotham, Jim Dandy and Travers, but here he is, winning The Midsummer Derby nicely despite once again switching back to his left lead in deep stretch.  COIL's Travers was simply a disaster while SHACKLEFORD may be feeling the effects of an arduous campaign.  The improving RATTLESNAKE BRIDGE may be one to watch as he continues to mature.

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Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (8/22 - 8/28):

1.  CALEB'S POSSE - 106 - King's Bishop Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
2.  ACCLAMATION - 105 - Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Polytrack) - Del Mar
3.  THE FACTOR - 104 - Pat O'Brien Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
4.  TURALLURE - 103 - Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
5.  TO HONOR AND SERVE - 102 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
6.  STAY THIRSTY - 101 - Travers Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - Saratoga
7.  DAVERON (Ger) - 100 - Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
7.  HILDA'S PASSION - 100 - Ballerina Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
9.  BULL DOZER - 99 - Alw 16000s - 6 Furlongs - Calder
10. CARACORTADO - 98 - Del Mar Mile Handicap - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
10. DO IT ALL - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Del Mar
10. DRIVEN BY SUCCESS - 98 - Easy N Dirty Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
13. CAIXA ELETRONICA - 96 - Hcp 16000s - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
13. CELTIC NEW YEAR - 96 - Del Mar Handicap (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
13. JOHN JOHNY JAK - 96 - Harry F. Brubaker Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
16. WAR ELEMENT - 94 - Md Sp Wt 63k - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Del Mar
17. HAVELOCK - 93 - Play the King Stakes (G2-C) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Woodbine
18. ATTICUS JACK - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
18. DETAILS R SKETCHY - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
18. IT'S NEVER TO LATE - 92 - Clm 50000(50-45) - 5 Furlongs - Delaware
18. MOONLIT MALIBU - 92 - Alw 35000NC - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
18. WILKINSON - 92 - OC 75k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
22. PERCUSIONIST (Arg) - 91 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
22. PRIVATE AFFAIR (Per) - 91 - CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
24. AL INSTANTE (Chi) - 90 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Del Mar
24. BIGGER IS BETTOR - 90 - Albany Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
24. DESPITE THE ODDS - 90 - OC 75k/N3X -N - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
24. DON'TTALKTOME - 90 - Connie Ann Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Calder
24. JUBILAEM - 90 - Alw 6250s - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Albuquerque
24. PRETTY BOY FREUD - 90 - Alw 67000N1X - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
24. SPECTACULAR KID - 90 - OC 80k/N3X - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
 
Caleb's Posse's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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*Here are the 3yo male graded winners in 2011:

Jerome (G2) - ADIOS CHARLIE
Transylvania (G3) - AIR SUPPORT
Virginia Derby (G2) - AIR SUPPORT
Peter Pan (G2) - ALTERNATION
Spiral (G3) - ANIMAL KINGDOM
Kentucky Derby (G1) - ANIMAL KINGDOM
Robert B. Lewis (G2) - ANTHONY'S CROSS
Southwest (G3) - ARCHARCHARCH
Arkansas Derby (G1) - ARCHARCHARCH
American Turf (G2) - BANNED
Jefferson Cup (G3) - BANNED
Lazaro Barrera (G3) - BENCH POINTS
Hall of Fame (G2) - BIG BLUE KITTEN
Sam F. Davis (G3) - BRETHREN
Blue Grass (G1) - BRILLIANT SPEED
La Jolla (G2) - BURNS
Ohio Derby (G3) - CALEB'S POSSE
Amsterdam (G2) - CALEB'S POSSE
King's Bishop (G1) - CALEB'S POSSE
Affirmed (G3) - COIL
Haskell (G1) - COIL
Lexington (G3) - DERBY KITTEN
Holy Bull (G3) - DIALED IN
Florida Derby (G1) - DIALED IN
Dwyer (G2) - DOMINUS
Swaps (G2) - DREAMY KID
Hutcheson (G2) - FLASHPOINT
Jersey Shore (G3) - FLASHPOINT
Canadian Derby (G3-C) - FREEDOMS TRAVELLER
Carry Back (G2) - INDIANO
Bay Shore (G3) - J J'S LUCKY TRAIN
Palm Beach (G3) - JOES BLAZING AARON
Illinois Derby (G3) - JOE VANN
Woody Stephens (G2) - JUSTIN PHILLIP
Derby Trial (G3) - MACHEN
Santa Anita Derby (G1) - MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE
Risen Star (G2) - MUCHO MACHO MAN
Louisiana Derby (G2) - PANTS ON FIRE
Pegasus (G3) - PANTS ON FIRE
Iowa Derby (G3) - PRAYER FOR RELIEF
West Virginia Derby (G2) - PRAYER FOR RELIEF
San Felipe (G2) - PREMIER PEGASUS
Belmont (G1) - RULER ON ICE
Matt Winn (G3) - SCOTUS
Preakness (G1) - SHACKLEFORD
El Camino Real Derby (G3) - SILVER MEDALLION
Fountain of Youth (G2) - SOLDAT
Gotham (G3) - STAY THIRSTY
Jim Dandy (G2) - STAY THIRSTY
Travers (G1) - STAY THIRSTY
Hill Prince (G3) - STREET GAME
Sham (G3) - TAPIZAR
San Vicente (G2) - THE FACTOR
Rebel (G2) - THE FACTOR
Pat O'Brien (G1) - THE FACTOR*
Wood Memorial (G1) - TOBY'S CORNER
Swale (G2) - TRAVELIN MAN
Secretariat (G1) - TREASURE BEACH
Sunland Derby (G3) - TWICE THE APPEAL
Tampa Bay Derby (G2) - WATCH ME GO
LeComte (G3) - WILKINSON
American Derby (G2) - WILLCOX INN

*AGAINST OLDER HORSES

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Congrats to Anderson for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He chose Friday's El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar for this week's exercise. 

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
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.
 
Best of luck to all

AttachmentSize
Caleb's Posse.pdf79.79 KB
El Cajon.pdf168.43 KB