08/07/2013 12:30PM

Cross Traffic Lookin' Good

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At 5:37 pm on Saturday afternoon, 10 minutes before post time for the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, I received a text from DRF Handicapper Mike Beer.

"Cross Traffic is the best looking horse I've ever seen."

Cross Traffic ran to his looks in the Whitney and finally achieved a well-deserved graded victory.  In his two prior races, the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont on April 27 and the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 27, Cross Traffic ran his eyeballs out only to be denied in the shadow of the wire.  This time, in his first start around two turns, Cross Traffic would not be outfinished.  As usual, the son of Unbridled's Song showed good early pace and he scooted around a Saratoga main track that favored speed.  After a first quarter in 23.11, Cross Traffic ran his interior fractions in 23.11 and 22.96.  Despite drifting out a bit in the stretch, Cross Traffic had enough to fend off a game SUCCESSFUL DAN.
 
"This was a real quality-filled race," Pletcher explained to NYRA Communications after the Whitney. "To beat the Breeders' Cup winner and runner-up from last year and some really good horses speaks volumes about his quality. It was great to see him [win]. He certainly deserved a Grade 1 after the Met Mile. I know we've had a couple of tough beats over the years but that one kind of stands out as one of the toughest."

A tilt in the $750,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes on August 31 seems likely for the 4-year-old colt gray, a lightly-raced performer with only five starts on his record. 

*He didn't beat much of a field, but DEPARTING overcame a very wide trip to take the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby.  It was Departing's first start since a disappointing effort behind Oxbow in the Preakness and he looks like the kind of late-developing 3-year-old that can factor in some of the more prestigious races in the late summer and fall.

*Speaking of 3-year-olds, MAJESTIC HUSSAR gave an eye-catching performance in an 'n3L' optional claiming race on Sunday at Saratoga.  Making his first start since finishing fourth behind Orb in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, Majestic Hussar was involved in a quick pace duel with the older CONSORTIUM through fractions of 22.44 and 44.78.  Majestic Hussar put Consortium to bed turning for home and kept to his business in the stretch.  He stepped six furlongs in 1:09.41 and received a 98 Beyer.  Consortium faltered to last.  It looks as if trainer Eddie Kenneally may have a strong hand with his 3-year-olds the remainder of the year.  Majestic Hussar is a strong sprint prospect while BRADESTER, unraced since an entry-level optional claiming win at Gulfstream on New Year's Day, is nearing his return to the races.

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Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (7/29/13 - 8/4/13):

1. JUSTIN PHILLIP - 109 - Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
2. CROSS TRAFFIC - 108 - Whitney Invitational Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
3. SAGINAW - 103 - John Morrissey Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Saratoga
4. DEPARTING - 102 - West Virginia Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - Mountaineer
5. ANCIL - 101 - Hcp 36500 - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Ellis
5. TAPTOWNE - 101 - West Virginia Governor's Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Mountaineer
7. BLACK DIAMOND CAT - 100 - Housebuster Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Gulfstream
8. MAJESTIC HUSSAR - 98 - OC 35k/N3L -N - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
8. YOU KNOW I KNOW - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Del Mar
10. COMMANDER - 97 - Fred Jones Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles - Northlands
10. LOUISIANA GLORY - 97 - OC 17k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Louisiana
12. GOODTIMEHADBYALL - 96 - OC 35k/N2X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Delaware
12. TETRADRACHM - 96 - OC 100k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
12. UNCAPTURED - 96 - Prince Of Wales Stakes - 1 3/16 Miles - Fort Erie
15. DANCE TO BRISTOL - 95 - Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
15. GRANDE SHORES - 95 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Calder
15. PURE TACTICS - 95 - Barksdale Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Louisiana
18. AMAZING HEARTED - 94 - Clm 50000(50-45) - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
18. BALINO - 94 - Naked Greed Stakes - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Calder
18. CONSOLIDATOR JOE - 94 - Alw 75794NC - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
18. WINE POLICE - 94 - OC 62k/C -N - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
22. BROOKLYN COWBOY - 93 - West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup - 4 1/2 Furlongs - Mountaineer
22. DON DULCE - 93 - OC 100k/C - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
22. EL COMMODORE - 93 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
22. HOLIDAY MISCHIEF - 93 - Prelude Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Louisiana
22. MAJOR MARVEL - 93 - OC20k/SAL20k - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
22. MOSHAAGIB - 93 - Md Sp Wt 38k - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Arlington
22. SILVERETTE - 93 - Caress Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Saratoga
22. STORMOFTHECENTURY - 93 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Parx

*Justin Phillip's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post

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TBTA – to my knowledge Beyer ratings have nothing to do with age. Maybe Dan can post these Beyer’s next week. Googleado was a runoff early 21/43. Looked like a high 80 to low 90 BSF to me with 4 horses running within two lengths of winner. Good to see Dale Romans getting a winner. To the naked eye Dunkin Bend was visually impressive. Dumb question but what other kind of eye is there (fully clothed)? He ran splits of 21.68, 23.32; 12.40 and 12.98. Not sure what was behind Dunkin Bend though. This one did not feel like a “loaded” a baby race to me.

New Geldings
On Wednesday at Del Mar a couple of long shots were first geldings won. Naturally this is not noted in the DRF but is trackside. Does anyone know what the strike rate is on first time geldings? Maybe Dan can graciously assist if the community does not have the statistic available.
DavidM9999

GOOGLEADO received an 85 Beyer for the 3rd-place finish in an 'n2L' allowance at Saratoga on August 3.  The winner, SLAN ABHAILE, earned a 90.  DUNKIN BEND got a 78 Beyer for his 2-year-old maiden special weight win second-out the same afternoon.

The problem with compiling statistics for first-time geldings is that the reporting is often spotty.  In California, they have the first-time geldings noted in the program and that is extremely helpful.  Elsewhere, it can be a real issue trying to pin down exactly when the horse was gelded.  It's an issue that we're working hard with The Jockey Club to rectify, but it's probably going to take time before we work out the kinks.  In this day and age, that information should be readily available and the responsibility is on the trainer and racing office to report the change when it occurs.

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The 1 1/16 mile turf races for two year olds will never get high beyers but often times produce just as good of horses as the dirt sprints.
Dan, any good 2yo turf routers we should be aware of?
Brandon Layer

Although beaten by SEA QUEEN in a maiden special weight turf route on July 22, KITTEN KABOODLE looked very good rallying from off the pace and should really benefit with that race under her girth.  Trained by Wayne Catalano for the Ramseys, Kitten Kaboodle is by turf champion Kitten's Joy out of a half-sister to stakes-winning sprinter Came to Pass. 

STROLL TO VICTORY may not be a star, but he did some good things in his debut on July 27.  He was sitting a nice pace-tracking, ground-saving trip in the early stages, but didn't seem comfortable attempting to shoot up the hedge in midstretch.  He lost some momentum by altering course to the outside in the final furlong, but came with a solid late kick.  There's a maiden race for him.

DANCING HOUSE won her debut on dirt with a moderate 58 Beyer, but she was very professional racing in behind horses for most of the backstretch.  Six furlongs is probably too short for this daughter of Tout Charmant and she could be a sneaky play when stretched out on grass.

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

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

***

Congrats to stuckinarizona for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.

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

stuckinarizona selects Friday's Alada Stakes at Saratoga 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 GIVE YOUR NAME OR BLOG MONIKER AT THE END OF THE HG PLAY AND/OR ANALYSIS.
 
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.

***FROM SCOREKEEPER PENN NATIONAL RICK***

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!
Rick

REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATE THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A FRIDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL).

Best of luck to all.

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Cornwall Boy More than 1 year ago
You Feel Lucky; ..... Do re-read my earlier post. It clearly states that I feel it okay to "handicap and bet" against each other. It would be quite impossible for us to do so, if I were against racing them against each other. Secondly, you mention W. Shoemaker, where as I made no such distinction. Look at Forego's P.P.'s and note the different Jockeys used on him. Also, check the records and you will find that W. Shoemaker made public admissions of substance reliance; something I omitted because I was not referring to him. Your third point, shared by a few others, objected to my impression of Eight Belles in that Derby. Whatever "enhancement" help Big Brown had been given up till then was what we used to handicap his races. To that point he was a MONSTER, and the Florida Derby showed it. Eight Belles had won several races in a row but against her own kind. I stated that, had she not been so brilliant, she would not have persisted in vain. If you ever did any athletics in school, you would know what it feels like when your P.E. teacher made you run two laps, when you could hardly run one. When Rachel Alexander won the Kentucky Oaks, the time and lengths established eye-popping records. Yet, when she ran against the non-descript, "never-to-win-again" Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, she could only win by half a length. Twenty lengths over girls translated to half a length against the boys. Zenyetta beat many Grade One winners in the Breeder's Cup, but no stand-out males; at that point. When stand-out Ruffian was put against stand-out Foolish Pleasure, the result was disastrous; I was there. Mr. Bernard Downes alluded to this mixed racing in Europe which is the norm. The big difference is that these fillies are moved up gradually and often raced as such, according to their abilities, as shown. There are not a lot of filly-mare races over there unlike in the U.S. As when we used distinct steps in the U.S. once, European tracks are still using steps. Therefore, when a filly would win an ALW NW1X in the U.S. and moved up to NW2X, then NW3X, then NW4X, etc.; today, most U.S. racetracks have such complicated races that even Steven Crist has had , on occasion, to write to the racing secretary to seek clarification; ask him. Mr. Ilman had a recent such request; ask him too. ..... These inconsistencies, You Feel Lucky, are what cause so many breakdowns, not that much the surfaces. Many betters jump all over Todd Pletcher because of the breakdowns in so many of his young horses. I have never posted such a one, but believe that they happen for the same reasons mentioned above. Secretariat moved up step by step. By the time of the Derby he had proven, on the track, what his talent was. I did not at all suggest that these beautiful athletes should be merely "parade horses", quite the contrary. I just think that they should be more properly and carefully separated. ..... And finally, thanks to all who responded kindly and politely. I have grown accustomed to expecting this of the ladies, so I appreciate it quite a lot when given by my fellow gents. My undying appreciation to ladies like Annie, SR Vegas, TBTAlarm, Laura, et al. They contribute class to this site which would be so different without them. For all the men on board; Thank You! To clarify in finality, my earlier post was not to offend, but to impart an opinion. If that one or this does such, do forgive me. To David M9999 ..... By your post, to me you are still a young man. Keep writing your informative pieces. I, like many, do enjoy reading them. They are never frivolous and is indicative of your maturity. Thanks again for your kind acknowledgement. To Annie ..... Thanks so very much for wishing me well. This never comes as a surprise from you. I hope you always do well in your betting. Just isolate your plays and wait for the right ones. You could make it a fruitful hobby, if it is a controlled hobby. Good Luck to you, my dear lady. ..... And to all I hope you all do well on this Arlington Million. It seems quite challenging and intriguing; a good choice from our last HG winner. Hope my post was not a distraction. Cornwallboy
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Annie "sometimes those name bets work out." LOL! Check your email :) SR Vegas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another MKB stakes winner today at Saratoga. BARBARA P'S Balance the Books won the Stroll Stakes. Congratulations, Barbara! Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh boy, there's an Annie horse in the 2nd race at DMR on Saturday. MY AUNT ANNIE. A little 2-year-old filly. Garcia for Machowsky. Guess I'd better take a look. :) There's also one for DENNIS OF MOLINE in the 9th. MY LUCKY ROSE. You never know, sometimes those name bets work out. Annie
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Let's try this again, as I see the DRF has been in a Re-vamp mode all day long. Originally from 6am this morning...... TBTA, That was a neat article you posted about Harry Rice III, & his job as a "Val-ett"{sic}. Learned 2 things. Never knew there was such a job. & Now I know why he loves his job. He had a GREAT beginning. I just knew it was a must for me to open it up. "His first valet job was for Jean Cruguet, the voluble Frenchman who guided Seattle Slew through the 1977 Triple Crown.">>>The Slewster is everywhere. Curtis V Slewster,,,,,,,,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
David M, I also was watching Fiftyshadesofgold closely. Did you notice she was paddling with her right front? I had never really noticed that kind of thing until it was pointed out about other horses here on Formblog. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ron Z-thanks for your very perceptive comments regarding the 8th at the Spa last sat and Dangerous Lad...I nevet gave much thought the owner hadn't bailed on him...I will admot to thinking "if George Weaver can't get this guy to win on the turf, can Brown do it?" But as you point out, it may have very well been the bad trips that were the difference between defeat and victory. The good turf works, (20/20 hindsight for me) shoul have been more of a reason to include him As I look back, I think because I was predisposed toward several other, especially the Mott runner...I looked for the reasons not to use the 10. Rivendell-another one I gave a look to a look to...and have tabbed for next out. Brutus
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Turnbackthealarm The track did seem to quicken at SAR. I never saw the breakdown in the Adirondack either instead focusing on the trip of the favorite and the filly I had on top hoping she could hang on. Fiftyshades was strikingly larger than several fillies in the race. Bret Calhoun said she exited the race with some issues but he was hopeful they were not much. You are so right about Unbridled Song’s. They are swift on the track but often their careers can end just a swiftly. My friend’s filly Totally Tucker (Elusive Quality) is a half to Danza who ran a closing third in the SAR Special. It would be nice to see him stretch out and move forward. That never hurts the residual value on her. Today at SAR Today has some nice races. The turf stakes, the Stroll, includes talented line up. I am not quite sure which way I go but I did like the late run by Balance the Books in the Solar Splendor. He was well off a tepid 49 second half then moved strongly. I have him finishing in sub 29 seconds getting third behind two quality turf animals. I don’t like the one hole on a favorite so I will have to check the tote closely. SAR Workouts Horses getting B+’s were few in number today but here they are: Cynical Storm, Mallory Street, Strong Impact and Hogy Street. One horse that is favored on the ML got a negative workout comment and grade – Race 2 - Ainteasybeinggreen. He was beaten 2L by Indygo Kitten who ran 8th in her debut. There is not much in the race so he could run slow and possibly win by default but I will play against win early connections here. AZ Wildcat I see our old friend likes Dullahan in the Pacific Classic. He was right when Dullahan crushed in this race at a good price before. Just saying….. Cornwall Boy I love your passion. It sounds like we are near the same age but you have me slightly on years of purchasing the DRF. I agree with most of your post. One difference of opinion respectfully is Eight Belles. I had the privilege to know Larry Jones over the years. He provides his stock with the highest degree of care while running a hay/oats/water type barn. Eight Belles was very live in the Derby. She had dispatched her opposition at OP all spring including a grade one winner in Pure Clan. Jones also had Proud Spell in his barn that won the Oaks the same year. It made sense to try Eight Belles in the Derby since he was confident Proud Spell would get the job done the day before. Eight Belles was sound going in but just took a bad step at the end of a grueling 10f furlongs. I agree she chased a colt that was talented and fast in Big Brown. Eight Belles ran without steroids in the Derby. Big Brown had been using steroids as acknowledged by ex-trainer Rick Dutrow. I don’t know if that accounts for five lengths but I have my opinion. I am admittedly biased so I will leave it at that. It was a tragedy we lost Eight Belles that day. But if a filly ever has a right to try the Derby she was on the short list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Turnbackthealarm and stuckinarizona, I am SURE I have said this before (if not here then elsewhere), but it strikes me that this freedom you so rightly cherish, this dislike of government from Washington, is a double edged sword. When politicians your place and mine are passing laws affecting our liberties, there is a lot to be said for it being a large number of national politicians, rather than a handful of local politicians. Not only is there safety (FROM CRANK IDEAS) in numbers, but there is surely less likelihood of corruption. I hope sense prevails in time. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
A pleasant puff piece on a colorful character from Saratoga courtesy of the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/14/sports/a-helping-hand-into-the-saddle.html?hpw