12/15/2011 5:38PM

'Comma Back On Top, Lots More

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COMMA TO THE TOP finished nineteenth and last in this year's Kentucky Derby, but he got back on the beam on December 11 at Hollywood Park.  Trained by Peter Miller, the 2009 CashCall Futurity (G1) winner was making his second start since undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a chip from his left front ankle.  Racing in a conditioned allowance race at seven furlongs over the cushion track, Comma to the Top duked it out with race favorite INDIAN FIREWATER before drawing clear despite drifting out during the stretch run.  He received a career-best Beyer of 101.

*It was also nice to see EL GATO MALO back in the winner's circle.  Winless since the 2009 Del Mar meet, the six-year-old gelding won an optional claimer going a mile on the grass at Hollywood on December 7.  Craig Dollase trains the multiple Grade 3 winner for West Point Thoroughbreds. 

*During last year's Gulfstream Park meet, racing analyst Jessica Pacheco would mention the trials of NINJA BLADE, a three-year-old half-brother to Grade 2 sprint winner My Jen.  Taking a look at Ninja Blade's form, you could certainly see why.  Ninja Blade ran second in his first five starts while chasing promising maiden winners DIALED IN (won Florida Derby), TRAVELIN MAN (won Swale Stakes), ARCH TRAVELER (stakes-winner at Belmont) and REDEEMED (won Discovery Handicap).  Last week, it was Ninja Blade's turn.  Making his second start since March, Ninja Blade graduated as the odds-on chalk in a maiden special weight over "good" going at Gulfstream.  He earned a career-best 91 Beyer for trainer Eddie Kenneally.

*Speaking of Dialed In, the Nick Zito-trained colt breezed three furlongs in 36.12 on Tuesday morning at Palm Meadows.  It was Dialed In's first published workout since undergoing surgery to remove a chip from his right knee.

*Also on the worktab was Todd Pletcher's AWESOME MARIA, unraced since winning the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont in June.  Awesome Maria is attempting a comeback after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to her left foreleg that required surgery. 

*Remember ENDORSEMENT?  The Distorted Humor colt won the Sunland Derby in 2010 before going on the shelf for a long, long time (he suffered a non-displaced lateral condylar fracture to his right front ankle that reportedly required surgery and stem-cell therapy).  Endorsement finally returned to the races at Gulfstream on December 10, finishing second as the 2-1 favorite.  This was Endorsement's first race for trainer Eoin Harty, who took over from the conditioning duties from Shannon Ritter.

*The venerable veteran STAR GUITAR keeps on rolling along.  A few weeks shy of his seventh birthday, the Louisiana-bred won his seventh straight race (all in stakes competition, has won nine of his last 10) when completing a three-peat in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds on December 10.  Star Guitar is trained by Al Stall Jr.

*Some of our posters were wondering what happened to MACLEAN'S MUSIC, the Distorted Humor colt that earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure in his career debut in at Santa Anita on March 11.  In an e-mail correspondance, a gracious source at Stonestreet Stable informed me that the three-year-old is "on his way to Santa Anita, still just battling little stuff here and there...nothing that would require any type of surgery..." Maclean's Music, the first starter out of Grade 2 sprint winner Forest Music, is trained by Steve Asmussen.

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Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (11/28/11 - 12/4/11):

1.  COMMA TO THE TOP - 101 - Alw 56000C - 7 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
2.  FRUMIOUS - 98 - Clm 40000(40-35) - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
2.  SOLAR CHARGE - 98 - Winter Dash Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Remington
4.  SIGNSEALNDELIVER - 96 - OC 35k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Hawthorne
5.  GOGGLES MCCOY - 95 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Golden Gate
5.  JOAN'S CHOICE - 95 - OC 50k/N2X -N - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
5.  RON THE GREEK - 95 - Queens County Stakes - 1 3/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
8.  HONEY CHILE - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
8.  SAM SPARKLE - 94 - Hunch Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
10. AMANECER DE ORO - 92 - Louisiana Champions Day Sprint - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
10. EL GATO MALO - 92 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - Hollywood
12. HOLLADAY ROAD - 91 - Alw 63512N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Hollywood
12. IT'S ME MOM - 91 - Alw 30000NC - 6 Furlongs - Tampa Bay
12. NINJA BLADE - 91 - Md Sp Wt 42k - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
12. SPEEDACIOUS - 91 - Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint - 6 FUrlongs - Fair Grounds
12. THE HUNK - 91 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
12. ZEB - 91 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Fair Grounds
18. CORNPIPER - 90 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
18. DAYLIGHT STORM - 90 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
18. POMEROYS PISTOL - 90 - SUgar Swirl Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
21. BRIECAT - 89 - Cool Air Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Hollywood
21. GAME BALL - 89 - Alw 10000s - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
21. GIBSON - 89 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Tampa Bay
21. SIXTYSIX MARGAUX - 89 - Alw 13000N1X - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Turf Paradise
21. TOP FEELING - 89 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 6 Furlongs (TUrf) - Hollywood
21. WINK AT THE GIRLS - 89 - OC 40k/C -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town

COMMA TO THE TOP'S lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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Dan:
In the HG pps I am noticing most of the Santa Anita races (stakes, allowance, or claiming; wet or dry track) have no speed-track varient figures posted, as well as one Del Mar race. Why is this...is DRF experimenting with dropping this still useful item of statistical info?
Keith L

The speed rating/track variant is determined by the three-year best times for a certain track and distance.  In the case of Santa Anita, since the track recently reverted to a dirt surface, we don't have a three-year sample since the switchover.  The Del Mar race in question was at five furlongs and that is a relatively new distance on the main track there.  Thus, we don't have three-year best for that distance.

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Dan
another question if you please,what has happened to Bart Hone in arizona he used to be the winning trainer year in and out but now only enters a few races is he getting out of racing or is he running somewhere else?
thank you

Dan Illman
in the 2nd race at aqueduct on 12-3-11 #9 Bullet Baby has a small r next to his weight what does that stand for?
thanks MH01
MH01

After winning a career-best 116 races (from 523 starters) in 2010, Hone has posted a mark of 426-75-73-61 (17% winners, 49% ITM, $1.66 ROI) this season.  He is tied for sixth in wins at the current Turf Paradise meet and remains active.

The "r" next to the horse's weight stands for BAR SHOE.

***

Dan, I work at FedEx. A few years ago we used to do what we would call "horse charters" when we would fly horses like Thunder Gulch, Fusiachi Pegasus and Charismatic along with many others to Australia for breeding. My question is, are the horses they went over and sired considered United States bred or are they considered Australian bred?
Captain Bodgit

The progeny of those North American stallions are considered Australian bred as they are foaled in that country.

***

Hi Dan,
Could you please help finding out where Mastery go to stud and for what price? and maybe the pp of Afleet Again and Celtic New Year too? Thanks!
ccarson

I'll do some digging around concerning Mastery.  The past performances for Afleet Again and Celtic New Year are available at the bottom of this blog post. 

***

Dear Dan,
Discreet Dancer's maiden track-record-breaking win reminds me of Sister Moon, the Mosses' filly that set a track record at Del Mar breaking her maiden in the first race on 8/21. Was she one of the juveniles you were mentioning above who had a triple-digit Beyer in 2011? IF my memory serves me correctly, wasn't her Beyer a 102? She, of course, is the one NOT trained by Pletcher. Who are the others? Thanks for you time in answering!
saharagold

Sister Moon received a 92 Beyer for her career debut at Del Mar on August 21.  The four juveniles with Beyer Speed Figures of 100 or greater this year are:

Stopshoppingmaria (f) - 101
J C's Pride - 100 (deceased)
Overdriven - 100
Discreet Dancer - 100

***

Hi Dan,
I always love the PP's of the old favs that you provide and this brings me to a small favor.
With all the talk about Rapid Redux, and his 20 straight wins(at a low level), I have run across a most interesting horse.
His name was Charlie Boy and he made some 241 starts(200k+ in earnings) with a 58 - 45 - 35 record in the money. I believe he won 13 in one year.
A 1955 foal,(Man O' War 4 gens back on the F-side) he won stakes from age 4 to 8 and won at age 12. Charlie Boy was destroyed after an injury at 13, but was so beloved in New England that he was buried in the infield at old Narragansett Park. He was the only horse to be so honored and it is believed (by some) that his site was never moved.
241 for starts is asking a lot - BUT it would be greatly appreciated if Charlie Boy's PP's could be reproduced. Any and all other info would be of interest as well.
Thanks.
hialeah

Hialeah, I can get past performances for some of the champion horses from that era, but my generator doesn't go that far back for the rest. 

Here are some passages from Robert Temple's book The Pilgrims Would Be Shocked:  The History of Thoroughbred Racing in New England.

"...The only track struggling was Narragansett, which despite diminishing crowds and handles and an ongoing battle over racing dates, managed to stay afloat.  'Gansett gained a footnote in racing history when it buried Charlie Boy, the most popular horse since Brass Monkey, in its infield.  Charlie Boy was the "People's Horse" of the 1960's.  During his 11 years of racing (1957-1967) Charlie Boy won 58 of 241 starts, including 13 in 1959.  He won at least three races every year he ran.  His biggest score was in the John Alden Handicap at Suffolk Downs..." 

The jockey for many of Charley Boy's big victories was the late Armando Martinez.  Here's a short article on Martinez from drf.com...

http://www.drf.com/news/armando-martinez-jockey-dead

Here are some newspaper clippings on Charley Boy's exploits:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2512&dat=19660426&id=kvhHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AAANAAAAIBAJ&pg=1299,7216754

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&dat=19670504&id=QVo0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=OOsFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5947,859660

http://www.newspaperarchive.com/SiteMap/FreePdfPreview.aspx?img=100904611

In a listing of horses with at least 40 wins in North America or Canada who raced in 1950 or later, Charlie Boy's 58 victories puts him in a tie for ninth.

Charlie Boy was by Graphic out of Pair Play, by Blue Pair.  At five, he won the Pelleteri Handicap at Fair Grounds (six furlongs in 1:11 3/5, gave eight pounds to runner-up Pundit), finished second in the Abraham Lincoln Stakes at Bowie and finished third in the Burch Memorial, also at Bowie.  The following year, the same season in which he won the Alden, Charlie Boy finished third in the Capitol Handicap.

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Dan,
Any chance you can track down a possibly difficult set of past performances for me? My old horse to watch AMERICAN DANCE, the half to Saint Liam, suddenly showed up on TVG over the weekend winning a stakes race in Trinidad. They said he had gone something like eight for eight since being exported to the Caribbean and was based on St. Kitts. I'd love to see more detail on what he's been doing but don't know where to find these...
Kyri

Here is some information I found about American Dance. We don't have updated past performances from Trinidad in our drf system, but he is undefeated (eight-for-eight) since being exported. 

http://www.sis.tv/sites/default/files/race9-1.pdf

http://www.beaumontpark.kn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=183:recap-oct-2010&catid=51

http://www.miyvue.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=743:american-dance-bad-action-mambo-beauty-repeat-wins-at-beaumont-park&catid=38:sports&Itemid=53

http://www.beaumontpark.kn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=201:jan16-recap&catid=54

http://www.beaumontpark.kn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=204:jan-30th-2011&catid=54

http://www.zizonline.com/news/?2AE6FBDA-2219-22DB-ABB534BD691F1070

http://www.labourspokesman.com/newsitem.asp?more=sports&NewsID=2904

http://www.beaumontpark.kn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=208:rc-june-5th-2011&catid=51

http://www.guardian.co.tt/sport/2011/12/04/american-dance-st-kitt-s

http://www.guardian.co.tt/sport/2011/12/05/american-dance-compete-tt-gold-cup

Hope this helps.

***

Dan,
Love your work, and was wondering if you saw gulfstream race 5 on 12/8/11. What's your thoughts on the winner one sock down? What's the pedigree say about distance? Thanks!
Chris

One Sock Down earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure for his debut win at Gulfstream on December 8.  He tracked the pace of Ecabroni, a Todd Pletcher-trained firster that was bet down to 11-10 odds, collared that one in upper stretch and drew off nicely to win by 3 1/4 lengths.  He didn't make his final lead change until just outside the eighth pole so he still has some things to learn.  Trained by Edward Coletti Sr., One Sock Down is by Dehere and sold for $85,000 as a yearling.  Earlier this year, he again went through the auction ring, bringing $97,000 in May after working a quarter-mile in 22 seconds flat.  One Sock Down is out of the Nushka, a Cherokee Run mare that went unplaced from two starts.  Nushka is a half-sister to millionaire Ginger Gold, the winner of the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes at one mile on turf.  Nushka is also a half-sister to stakes-placed A Touch of Glory (second in the Ontario Damsel Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf) and juvenile stakes-winner Kesagami (won the Coronation Futurity at nine furlongs on polytrack).  The second dam won 14 route races. 

It's far too early to tell how he'll pan out, but his pedigree indicates that he may be best at distances up to 1 1/16 miles.

***

Congrats to Gracie for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  Let's go with for the ninth race at Gulfstream for this week's event.

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.

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Comma to the Top.pdf63.19 KB
AfleetCeltic.pdf74.29 KB
HG262.pdf179.91 KB