07/28/2016 12:04PM

D'Amato loaded on turf

*As many of you have noticed, the "BLOG" tab on the home page has been removed. You can find this blog every week (usually published on Wednesday and Thursday) at drf.com/blogs or by going to the "NEWS" tab and clicking on the "Blogs" link. 
Although TEPIN is the dominant ruling queen of the division, trainer Phil D'Amato is quietly mobilizing two speedy horses to possibly challenge the super mare in this fall's Breeders' Cup Mile. 
Irish-bred OBVIOUSLY, profiled in the June 22 edition of FormBlog (http://www.drf.com/blogs/obviously-aces-poker) after a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes (108 Beyer Speed Figure), brings plenty of early gas and a plethora of experience on the big stage. He's competed in 18 consecutive graded events with a record of eight wins, three seconds, two thirds and 13 triple-digit Beyers during that span. He's a one-way speed that is extremely dangerous when allowed to control the pace without too much pressure.
MIDNIGHT STORM, like his classy stable mate, enjoys hearing his feet rattle, but he's a bit more tactical than Obviously. In last year's Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar, Midnight Storm's final start as a 4-year-old, the son of Pioneerof the Nile allowed another horse to grab the early advantage only to successfully pass when the real racing began. Yes, he can rate when necessary. 
Midnight Storm had excuses for his first two starts of 2016. He caught a rare Southern California wet turf course in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 12 and didn't seem to care for it while the winner, What a View, is a quality miler when there's give in the ground. In the Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard, Midnight Storm was caught up in a wicked pace battle before paying the price in the stretch. 
Midnight Storm got back to his winning ways in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on June 4 when on the engine. Although he wasn't facing the toughest group by any stretch of the imagination, Midnight Storm ran fast, 110 Beyer fast. He was back to his best form. 
Although Midnight Storm grabbed the nine-furlong, Grade 2 Del Mar Derby as a three-year-old, the jury was still out as to whether he was at his best traveling at distances over 1 1/16 miles. He answered that question affirmatively in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes on July 17. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Midnight Storm took control early and faced only token pressure from BOLO. Bolo was off the bridle entering the final turn, but Midnight Storm kept on trucking. He came off the rail swinging into the straight and was extremely game in holding off the closers. 
D'Amato has stated that both of his star turf performers will race sparingly leading up to the Breeders' Cup with only one prep race for each. Whether they can be a match for Tepin is another story entirely, but both Midnight Storm and Obviously deserve serious consideration if they enter the Breeders' Cup in their current form.
*Can you please post Ruffian's complete past performance for my friendly dispute with a colleague of her vs Songbird. Thanks!
Appreciate your work
Thanks for the kind words. Ruffian's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
*Video stakes previews for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos
Mike Beer, Matt Bernier and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 4:00 ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com. This week, we'll cover Saratoga, Del Mar and more.
You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 7/13/16 - 7/19/16:
1. MIDNIGHT STORM - 103 - Eddie Read Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 17Jul16-9DMR
1. STICKSSTATELYDUDE - 103 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 Mile - 15Jul16-3BEL
3. CHASING ACES - 101 - Md Sp Wt 64k - 5 Furlongs - 17Jul16-8DMR
4. I'M A CHATTERBOX - 98 - Delaware Handicap (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 16Jul16-9DEL
4. KING KREESA - 98 - Forbidden Apple Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 16Jul16-8BEL
6. THE TRUTH OR ELSE - 97 - OC 80k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 14Jul16-8BEL
7. BROOKLYNSWAY - 96 - Mari Hulman George Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 16Jul16-6IND
7. CINDYS SECRET - 96 - OC 62k/C -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 16Jul16-3DMR
7. ENTRECHAT - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) -  17Jul16-5DMR 
7. MIDNIGHT MILEY - 96 - Ontario Matron Stakes (G3-C) - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 17Jul16-8WO 
7. WATCHYOUROWNBOBBER - 96 - Warrior Veterans Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 16Jul16-5IND
12. BODHISATTVA - 95 - Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 16Jul16-11DEL
12. LOVELY LOYREE - 95 - Indiana General Assembly Distaff Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 16Jul16-3IND
12. ROYAL SQUEEZE - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs - 16Jul16-1BEL
15. CHIEF OF STAFF - 94 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - 15Jul16-9DMR
15. CUPID - 94 - Indiana Derby (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 16Jul16-9IND
15. O B HARBOR - 94 - Mt. Rainier Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 17Jul16-8EMD
15. SHE'S NOT HERE - 94 - Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 16Jul16-9DMR
15. TOOWINDYTOHAULROX - 94 - Wickerr Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 16Jul16-5DMR
20. COCO MON - 93 - OC 80k/C - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - 15Jul16-2AP 
20. DEPARTING - 93 - Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 16Jul16-7IND 
22. MACH MY DAY - 92 - Alw 29500N1X - 6 Furlongs - 15Jul16-6PEN
22. MELALEUCA - 92 - Brandywine Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 19Jul16-8IND
22. MONSTER BEA - 92 - Oceanside Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 15Jul16-8DMR  
22. ROYAL SON - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 17Jul16-3WO 
The lifetime past performances for Midnight Storm and Sticksstatelydude are available at the bottom of the blog post. 
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 7/20/16 - 7/26/16:
1. CALIFORNIA CHROME - 111 - San Diego Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 23Jul16-9DMR
2. PUNTROOSKIE - 102 - Bold Venture Stakes (G3-C) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 23Jul16-8WO 
3. ENOLA GRAY - 101 - Fleet Treat Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 22Jul16-7DMR
3. HIT IT ONCE MORE - 101 - New York Derby - 1 1/16 Miles - 23Jul16-6FL 
3. SONGBIRD - 101 - Coaching Club American Oaks - 1 1/8 Miles - 24Jul16-10SAR
6. DACITA (CHI) - 100 - Diana Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 23Jul16-10SAR
7. LONG ON VALUE - 99 - Lucky Coin Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 25Jul16-8SAR
7. METABOSS - 99 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 23Jul16-5DMR
9. WATERSHED - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - 25Jul16-7SAR
10. ASCEND - 97 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 23Jul16-7SAR
10. UP WITH THE BIRDS - 97 - Nijinsky Stakes (G2-C) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 24Jul16-8WO 
12. FARHAAN - 96 - Clm 40000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 24Jul16-7SAR
13. ANIMAL APPEAL - 95 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 25Jul16-6SAR
13. HARD ACES - 95 - Cougar II Handicap (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles - 24Jul16-4DMR
13. WHY TWO - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Jul16-5DMR
13. ZINVOR - 95 - Clm c-(40-35) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 24Jul16-10DMR
17. PATRIOTS RULE - 94 - California Dreamin Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 24Jul16-8DMR
17. SENTIERO ITALIA - 94 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 22Jul16-4SAR
19. AVENGE - 93 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 24Jul16-2DMR
19. FORIN SEA - 93 - OC 20k/C -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 20Jul16-5ALB
19. PAPA PAPA PAPA - 93 - Md Sp Wt 63k - 6 Furlongs - 23Jul16-1DMR
22. ANCIENT SECRET - 92 - Lake George Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 22Jul16-9SAR
22. G. A. BETTING - 92 - Clm 50000(50-45) - 7 Furlongs - 23Jul16-6DMR
22. GOOD BYE GREG - 92 - OC 80k/C -N - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 22Jul16-3AP
22. PROCUREMENT - 92 - Clm 25000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 23Jul16-11SAR
California Chrome's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Zinvor was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Mark Glatt from Adam Kitchingman.
*Congrats to Mike O for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Let's go with Saturday's Jim Dandy Stakes from Saratoga for this week's exercise.
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
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. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"
As an example :
HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!


Ruffian.pdf63.37 KB
Sticksstatelydude.pdf686.68 KB
Midnight Storm.pdf757.64 KB
California Chrome.pdf799.88 KB
Copy of HG 7 16 16 Yellow Ribbon.xls55 KB
JIM DANDY.pdf170.92 KB
Rodney . More than 1 year ago
David M & Professor Molesap, Quite rightly this has become a discussion of being ripped off by location. When I mentioned $50 beer at Yankee Stadium...that is approx 4 beers...not I think imperial pints, that are served in England. These look much smaller, a pint is a pint... Of course, once a few is consumed, they may start looking smaller. After the 7th inning stretch...they no longer serve alcoholic beverages, so you have to get a few "pints" in advance of Kate Smith singing God Bless America. My wife is a big Yankee fan, last few games, you need that 6th inning stretch to watch the debacle unfolding.... No alcohol is served in England at games as it tends to get a bit "partisan"...and football crowds are often segregated.. They all just get tanked up before the game....and discuss the match afterwards in the pub...
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago

Who you Got?

Recently a MSW was run that had the following workout comments for three contenders:

Horse one – “broke in good order in 23.1 early was set down and asked some late responding strongly in 46.1, 58.1 and out well in 1:12.1.Clearly has dose of speed and leveled out well late too.” Other works were 58.40, 47.40, 48.60 and 34.0. Grade on last work above - B+

Horse Two – “has improved since arriving at Del Mar, looking to have solid late kick while drawing away from barn mate Fortunate Queen,23.2,47.3, 1:00.3, 1:13.2 and out in 1:27.3. Should be running on.” Other works were 35.3; 1:01.40; 1:01.60; 48.60. Last work above - Grade B

Horse Three –“ran in fog but worked from gate clearly looking best over 2 YO mate Sergio going by stands in 24, 36.1 waiting all the way with Smith up. Big filly has some run”. Other works were 1:00.4, 1:02, 1:01and 48.20. Grade on work above was B.

So you have 3 first time starters all with some pedigree and connections. Who you got without knowing trainers or blood line?

Okie – you nailed my approach to a T. I had 96 hours of surf and turf so I maxxed the experience. I was playing every single race on the card. Certainly some were heavier than others but I was there to gamble not walk the facilities waiting for one crush race over four cards. Yep, several close calls for stacks make or break a trip. I could have used that extra gas you mention a couple of times. LOL!

Ed – thanks for comments. AK worked yesterday in 48.20. That was quick relative other workers at DEL for the 4F distance. Only two (both Jones’s) broke 50 seconds. I was told there is not much in the condition book at Delaware for MDN $20K. We will see where she goes. MTH would play to her style of gas but Larry is likely not keen to ship out of town for a horse of that quality.

Answer to Who you Got.

#1– Jeweled – Bob Baffert. 4/5. Ran 4th beaten about 6L after a slow break. $190,000 yearling buy.

#2 – American Cleopatra. Bob Baffert. 7.30-1 odds. Broke fast and won impressively. Full sis to AP. Priceless, homebred.

#3 – Union Strike. Trained by Shelby Ruis. 7/2 odds.  Broke slow but ran on well for second out of Union Rags. $375,000 at Ocala this spring.

Exacta paid $61.

I suspect all Jeweled wins soon but is over bet again. Union Strike showed promise for newby Ruis.  She will surface in stakes shortly at Del Mar or SA and could appreciate the extra ground. American Cleopatra becomes the rage running in 2 YO stakes at Del Mar.If she runs back to this race she should be in line for major races in the fall. Generally I try to beat blue bred families (Zenyatta/Rachel baby types)if they are hammered at the windows in races. However Cleopatra was not bet hard due to Baffert's public comments being interpreted that she may want longer. I did not have access to the work report pre-race due to a snafu but I though the comments on Cleo were positive enough coupled with breeding and odds for inclusion. Rear view mirror handicapping is sure easy.

Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
Sorry you missed American Cleopatra. I know it looked like she was dead on the board, but one thing that I considered was that Baffert had the even money favorite as well - how many times have we seen Baffert have two entries in a race and the longer price win? If she was his only entrant, I would have taken more stock in her lack of action. Much like you though, it was just sticking my finger in the leak, but still got washed away with poor handicapping. I hit the P4 multiple times at Del when your horse ran, plus a ton of other things, but that nice profit evaporated quickly. I have done OK at Dmr so far with limited action (by OK, I mean I still have the shovel out the dig the grave, but it is very shallow at this point). I literally have not picked a winner in their handicapping contest - what are they on day 14 or something? At Sar, I have not picked very many winners at all with much more play. The kicker has been that I have had opinions, which can be costly when they are wrong.

On a lighter note, given your weekend, at least you did not get charged extra for the plastic in your tacos. Generally those things are not much to worry about and like time, it will eventually pass. I had some fantastic tacos in Las Vegas (Tacos el Gordo - they literally have their own shuttle bus). The down side is that we waited about 45 minutes in line in 105 degree heat - they were great tacos, but NO taco is worth that much time in line, especially when there is a taqueria about 50 yards away across the parking lot. My brother-in-law was with me and he really wanted them and we did not anticipate the wait. Plus they have a strange system where you wait in a separate line for type of meat. I was in the carne asada line. I do not know how many people were in front of me, but here are the three orders that I heard directly before my turn:

"Ahhh, let's see, how about 30 carne asada tacos"
"I need 24 tacos"
"Give me say 36....no 42 carne asada tacos"

I do not care how fast they are, the three orders in front of me wanted nearly 100 tacos between them and that is going to take some time. The funniest thing about the whole ordeal was that we decided not to go to In and Out because they are notoriously slow (and there is one right by my college where I teach). So I often whiff on those 50/50 decisions as well.

Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Attention Saratoga fans
7 p.m. Friday night. Ballston Spa High School. Ballston Spa International Film Festival. All the cool kids will be there. Stick around for the after party.
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Spa. Late Pick 4.

6,7,8, // 3 // 5,10,11 // 2,4,7,11

50 cents. × 10

Good Luck

Whackymacky Out!!!
ed More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed your Del Mar observations. $13 beers? I would need to hit a few exactas just to toast to my luck. Sometimes they slip me a European form at the track. It's all Greek to me. Handicapping excellence can be so fleeting. Or you can make the right call and your jockey can just have a bad day. Your example of Gov. Malibu is spot on. You can't take it personal and it is on to the next race. I guess that is why it is a hobby and not a life style for me. I still just enjoy hanging with my friends when I am taking a bath. At least I'm not gouged for parking or admission where I go. I always look at the bright side. I think A K will win next time out. Good luck. edb
Okiesharp More than 1 year ago
David of 9's

I've said it before & I'll say it again.......it's the 'ole traveling curse!

So you drive an hour and a half to get to the track and the guru's 
expect you to only bet one or two races.......who the heck are they
kidding?  Nobody in their right mind does that and if they say they
do........they're lying!

You spent hours pouring over the form and you see a slew of different
angles in every race (most of the angles you see are after the race is run -:)....
Here's the deal....your horse runs a mile or so and is beaten by a nose, 
head, neck or even a length or two.  Immediately you start to question your 
ability as a handicapper, when the fact is; you were beaten an inch or so
for the win.  Heck they ran a mile or more & you were only beaten by an inch or
so!  Hell, a good fart from your charge may have propelled you to the win!
We all beat ourselves up over losing and we should quit doing that.  This
is a tough game to play and as you said "only a very few are winners".

Redboard Alert - Have you noticed that Whacky is the only one who consistently 
puts his picks out there for everyone to see - before the race is run?

I'll admit, I don't get out much.........but $ 13 for a beer, you must have been 

DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


I agree with Ed’s assessment. Most players interchange“speed” and “early speed”. I never say late speed I say close or finishing kick but that is just me. 

I began touting Uncle Mo about a week after the first one ran as a two year and won at KEE.They enter, they win. He is a sensational sire regardless of the naysayers who criticize because MO’s have not won at 12F. Can you bet a sire only and make that work? Only if you board the train early. The train is filling and now his offspring are bet a bit more. This one fell thru the cracks a bit but that was due partially to the quality of his connections. I still really like Mo’s at 9F and down and LOVE them on grass. They have tactical speed and quality.

As to Laoban specifically I would not touch him regardless of the MO factor because his trainer Eric Guillot. He is on my “NO FLY” list. The man had at one time $3-4M worth of stock in his small barn and was striking at less than double digits. He wins at low rates relative to the sales price of his stock. Maybe he is a wonderful trainer but terrible picker of flesh at KEE. Or it could be he is a below par trainer and great picker of yearlings at KEE. Bottom line for me is he underperforms. However this MO got the dough. Great selection and price. Well done Ned!!

I thought Governor Malibu got another questionable ride from Rosario. In, out, the horse did not get a furlong of straight run as a closer. If you ride a closer job one is to get the horse in the clear at head of the lane then let him do his thing. Job one never happened. That makes two in a row for Rosario and the Gov. The Governor may give Rosario a pardon but Clemente and Jump Sucker Stable likely will not. I make it 1-5 he never rides him again. No sour grapes on missing the win with the Governor. Just my opinion he got much less than a stellar ride and the last 1.5F of the Belmont  Stakes was a nightmare too. When you bet closers you know you are at the mercy of rider judgement and some luck. The Governor had little of either.


I love your positive attitude. I suspect you will turn it around quickly in PH. You are simply too solid not too. Picking stakes races is not my cup of tea. I like to avoid them so that is why I avoid PH. We have some talented folks who beat those stakes races. Very impressive.

I had a ton of confidence a decade ago now not so much. I too love winning. For me I would say I don’t like losing more than hate losing. I do hate getting buried though. The reason I put it that way is I am a totally honest realist.   I know where I stand now relative to the game I am competing in. A guy asked me at Del Mar Sunday how it was going. I said "I was buried today and now it was just a matter of how deep the grave was going to be". Taking a beat down after 3 hours of pre-work is tough to wash down with even with $13 beers. Horse racing is very difficult as we all well know. A meaningful winning day for the mere mortals among us is to be treasured in the environment we are trying to beat including high rakes,high fixed costs of materials, super trainers, and stewards utter incompetence.  Did I miss any other excuse for my weak handicapping? But really those listed are real. Only the best of the best really beats the game. Not talking making $50 or $500 here and there. Talking really make some consistent cash after you carve out expenses including the price of your time. The past weekend I felt like I was handicapping the racing form thru the bottom of a Coke bottle. Races just were not in focus.  I saw a ton of races that were difficult. When you are in a funk self-doubt creeps in. Even a walkover can make you hesitate. You may even pass 7-1 on a full sister to AP. On the other hand when you are warm you pick up a form finding a few that give you goose bumps. We know that feeling and it is good... real good. We know they will win it is just a matter of how you want to play it.  I cannot wait for that next goose bump.

Rodney, Dick, SR Vegas, 

Thanks for the comments on Del Mar. Thanks again Rodney I had missed your earlier post travelling.

Okiesharp More than 1 year ago
Dick W

Thank You for the PH player update.

ed More than 1 year ago
Ned Daly,
Great job cashing last week. Everybody has a different definition of speed and where it is important. There is early speed and come home speed. Perhaps early speed is a better way of saying speed in Laoban's  case. There was no doubt he would go out early and get the lead. I thought he would take them to about the mile marker and then he would be swallowed up by the late "speed". Boy I was wrong. I had him fading to next to last and off the board. A maiden wins the Jim Dandy. Knock me over with a feather. It reminds me of Oxbow stealing the Preakness. Maybe the TC horses needed the race? No speed bias because there was no speed. Great win by all that had him. And, of course, I missed Exaggerator paying $7 to win on a muddy track. Talk about a gift horse at a gift price.
Dick W,
Always a pleasure. All you needed was a nudge. You are back on track. SR Vegas, it is your turn now. GBL, you too.
Keep cool all. edb