08/31/2011 7:52PM

On the Comeback Trail


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.


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.


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

Transylvania (G3) - AIR SUPPORT
Virginia Derby (G2) - AIR SUPPORT
Peter Pan (G2) - ALTERNATION
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
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
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
West Virginia Derby (G2) - PRAYER FOR RELIEF
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
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



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. 

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

Caleb's Posse.pdf79.79 KB
El Cajon.pdf168.43 KB
Bob D More than 1 year ago
Dan, In reviewing your list of three old stakes I don't find Toby's Conrner in the Wood. By the way, any update on the status of his return?
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
Alex, Finale got a 77 Beyer Figure.. FYI: For any Stakes races, you go to the heading Results/Stakes replays, & look up any date..
Alex More than 1 year ago
I was just wondering if I could find out the Beyer Speed Figure Finale got in his romp in the Continental Mile at Monmouth on 8/20/11.
thomas hadley More than 1 year ago
hey bob how much did you pay the track man at santa anita to roll that poly track so tight that it wouldnt drain and ended up going back to the sand pit? where you and julio cannini in on it together?
Lizarraga A. More than 1 year ago
HG $50 Win 3 $10 EX 3/5,6,7,8,9
Anderson More than 1 year ago
Glad DRF is showing races from Great Britain today and tomorrow. HG 249 El Cajon S. Selections: 6- Shrug 5- Uncle Sam 9- Pride of Silver 8- Macho Dorado 3- Sahara Sky Taking Shrug over Uncle Sam and Pride of Silver because of the 6-1 odds even though I won't be surprised if there is no number 6 in the top 3. Blinkers on gets to the rail and just holds on? HG wager: $30 tri 6 with 5 with 9,8,3 $5 tri 8 with 3 with 4,9 Best of Luck to all.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Here are my initial thoughts for tonight's Pick 5 at Del Mar. I am awaiting the thoughts of the other handicapping portion of my syndicate. I'll try and post our ticket late this afternoon. Good luck to everyone today... Del Mar – 9/2/11 1st Race – VISIGODO closed nicely in his debut and should appreciate two turns and the turf for Trainer Mullins. IRISH ART deserves another chance after closing nicely in his last…and the work tab looks strong, too. 2nd Race – DERRICK DO should be gunning hard from the one-hole under Jockey Rosario. Trainer Cerin’s percentages are too strong to ignore here, and there does appear to be a bit of class relief this time. COST OF FREEDOM is a tough call here, because you would think that the $32k level is way too low, but maybe he’s not right and they are looking to unload him. He does appear to be working okay sine his last… 3rd Race – MONEY LOVER is in for a tag and has won at this level twice at Del Mar. She is also working well. DIAMOND JOURNEY has also won twice at this level and one of those was at Del Mar under Trainer Sadler. TENACIOUS TINA should appreciate the switch from the turf and gets a much needed rider change. SHEZABIGBROAD goes at this level again and shows a solid work in preparation for this. 4th Race – PETAK MOUNTAIN is working well, drops a bit in class and should improve in his 2nd start. MUCHOS BESOS has nice Trainer percentages behind him and is working smartly. MAY WEATHER ran well at 52/1 last time out, and may improve enough to get this done under Agapito. SABE also worked nicely last week in preparation for his 2nd start under Jockey Bejarano. 5th Race – VOTE OF APPROVAL has run some decent turf races and might just find this bunch soft enough. HUGHESY is a money-burner but does own a turf win and goes 2nd time Blinkers On for PVal. IGNITED won easily last time out and may take a liking to the grass.
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
$o return for me yesterday with three races wagered. Not to good for the bankroll, so hope for better today., The With Anticipation showed me two who might be headed to the BC Juvinile Turf, both Stay for Play and Optimizer ran very well indeed. I think Optimizer ran the better race, had the disadvantageous outside draw in the inner track, and yet while caught wide on the first turn, and stayed wide througout, almost overcame that to run down the strong front runner in the stretch. I'm thinking highly of that English Channel son! Sometinmes one can take satisfaction on having called a no-go on the heavy favs in a race, and the two Pletcher entries in the Generous Portions and the With Anticipation are nice horses, but I just can't go with a rail post draw for a 2 yo (or a maiden), unless they are demonstrably the best gate speed and an on the pace runner, and neither of those were! When will the betting public come to realize that? You see it all the time...pocket trips are great stuff for experienced horses, but not for still inexperienced 2 yos folks! Keith L.
blackstone More than 1 year ago
HG $50 Exacta box-#4-#6 (Celestic Night to Shrug) Just a Trainer play-1st off claim by Mitchell on Celestic Night (we've all seen him do this a gazillion times)-shows great confidence by putting him in a stake immediately. I'll be confident with him. Shrug could be the lone speed with the scratch of Aint No Other-Carla Gaines knows a little about training too. Not sure about the odds as I think the M/L is off going into the race ((Pride Of Silver at 5-2?), so we'll see. Finally, even if Nijinsky's Song blasts out of the gate and takes the lead, both Celestial and Shrug can win from off the pace. Good luck to all.
JIMPEREGOY More than 1 year ago
HG El Cajon I will take a flyer on 6-Shrug. The rider change from Blanc to Gomez for this sharp trainer, Carla Gaines tells me that this horse can rate. He did pass 1 horse at 6F last year. This year he was a 1 dimension front runner. Look for Gomez to take him off of a sharp early pace, pounce on the leaders turning for home and get the money. His 94 Beyer at 1-1/16 Miles lays over this field. HG Wager: $100 to win #6
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Here is a humorous quote from Todd Pletcher on Sidney's Candy in the Forego: “Obviously this is a different race, he’s going to have to be ridden differently to suit the style of the race,” Pletcher said. “From a post position standpoint, I would have preferred to be outside, where we wouldn’t have to commit quite as much, but he’ll have to come out running and see how he handles it.” How he will handle it.... hmmmm, well seeing that Candy Rides win 7F races (on any surface) at about an 80% rate (Capt. Candyman Can, Evita Argentina, Evita's Sister, Twirling Candy, Sidney's Candy, Sugarinthemorning, Misremembered, El Brujo). You can do anything you like but these nutty speedsters are going to crush you like a cheap beer can at 7/8 - like they are going to slow down at 7F. A simple strategy, gate opens, show time.
Alan More than 1 year ago
HG EL COJONES....I MEAN EL CAJON #7 Nijinsky's Song is taking a big step up in class off his maiden win (was his 2ndTS, after a year layoff!) He's got a nice pedigree, with his dam being HS to Ruiano. Harrington not pointing him toward this, but P Val will keep him interested! WIN Throw out #10 Great Warrior's last as his saddle slipped. Look for a closing kick. #3 Sahara Sky should appreciate the stretchout in distance. Was he really in a $30k maiden claimer last November? WAGER: Exacta of my top pick over the other two. $50EX #7/3,10 Good luck today!!