06/13/2014 2:27PM

Decoding the Pegasus


When handicapping Sunday's Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes, the local prep for Monmouth's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, I found myself stuck.

Do I pick the devil I know or the devil I don't know?

I'm very familiar with #1 UNCLE SIGH and #4 RING WEEKEND. The former burst onto the scene with runner-up efforts behind fellow New York-bred Samraat in both the Grade 3 Withers and Grade 3 Gotham. Perhaps he was thrown to the wolves in Grade 1 events like the Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby, and he is getting the class and distance relief he needs in the Pegasus.

Still, I wonder if the road to the Derby took some of the starch out of Uncle Sigh. He's going to get bet in the Pegasus and his trainer, Gary Contessa, has stated that he doesn't want to be on the lead.

That seems a bit weird considering that Uncle Sigh could be the controlling speed from the rail. I'm not convinced that Uncle Sigh is as good rating as he is when he lays down the fractions. He can certainly win, but looms an underlay at his 2-1 morning line price.

Ring Weekend rode an easy lead over a gold rail when upsetting a weak field in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. He failed to change leads in the stretch and the race just didn't do it for me, 95 Beyer or no.

Since that start, he bombed at 3-10 in the Calder Derby (a strange placement considering he just won a "Derby Prep") and never threatened in the Preakness. We can excuse the Preakness since Ring Weekend was essentially overmatched, but his other races don't leap off the page. I just can't pull the trigger on him at 3-1.

I have no idea if #3 ENCRYPTION is any good as it's simply too early to tell. I do believe that we've seen the best races from Uncle Sigh and Ring Weekend, however, and Encryption is the colt with the most upside potential. He earned the field's best last Beyer Speed Figure when wiring maidens over this course 22 days ago and he didn't seem rusty despite an eight-month layoff.

That race was visually solid. Encryption took some mild pace pressure from All Included before putting that one to bed with with a third-quarter fraction of 23.42. Todd Pletcher's Bay of Biscay made a run at Encryption turning for home, but the Exchange Rate colt finished up well and was pulling away at the finish.

If Uncle Sigh is taken back from the gate, perhaps Encryption will end up in front. That's not a bad place to be at Monmouth, a course that has a reputation for being speed-friendly. If someone else, perhaps Ring Weekend, wants the front, I'm willing to gamble that Encryption can rate.

#6 ALBANO could toss a wrench into my plans He was training for the Peter Pan, but took ill before the scheduled meeting with Tonalist, and was re-routed here. Albano showed some promise at the Fair Grounds over the winter and is handled by the talented crew from the Larry Jones barn.

I believe Encryption offers some value as the fourth choice in the race and I'd take somewhere in the vicinty of 4-1 or 9-2 to win.

More importantly, who do you like this weekend? I want to know.


You can find the weekend stakes previews at the following page. The videos for Saturday's Obeah at Delaware, Sunday's Woodbine Oaks and Sunday's Pegasus Stakes should be up by early Friday evening.


There will also be a late Pick 4 Preview for Saturday's card at Santa Anita



*The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below:


























You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Carl C. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

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

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

Saturday's Vanity from Santa Anita will be this week's HandiGambling exercise


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

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 if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE 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 recognize you .

- (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.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-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 "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Copy of Formblog Belmont Stakes 6-7-14.xls73 KB
HGVANITY.pdf184.66 KB
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Pat - that's pretty good for an old guy . I'd probably drop dead after two or three runs up and down the court at this point . On Thanksgiving my nephew who is a high school player was shooting around with my little brother rebounding and sending it back to him . I went outside to smoke walked over and said , let me get a pop . My nephew passed me the ball and I fired up a 25 footer . Draino !! I looked at my nephew smiled and said , " the great ones never lose it " :) You're right about the puzzle Pat. I think most of us diehards were originally attracted by the puzzle . I think what is keeping the handle up are the Quants. They use computers to do something like I used to try and tell people around here I did by hand on a smaller scale. With their rebates they are literally arbitraging the races for a few pct. a day. Eventually they will drain the pools. There won't be enough traditional handicappers money in the game at that point and they'll move on . The bubble will burst . The tracks are short sighted and greedy for their handle . I'll leave it at that because its complicated and most people around here think I'm full of it when it comes to current breaks , multi-verses and schools of sharks, tuna & wahoo :) JJ
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
I love Keeneland! It is beautiful, it's right in the middle of horse farm country and the gift shop is fabulous. :) But, I don't think it is going to be a wonderful choice for the live BC attendees based on what I've seen. Parking is somewhat limited and much of it is in open fields. If it rains, it's going to be a quagmire. Seating is limited and there is no way that they can have general admission. So, that means VERY EXPENSIVE seating. Tents and villas are going to be far away from the horses, so for many people, a brief flash of horses racing by will be their view. Personally, I would hate that. Lodging is also going to be difficult. I have read a couple of social media posts, and there are hotels already sold out. I can't imagine what people who have horses entered are going to do if they make last minute decisions to attend. When my mom and I went to Lonestar, another small venue, for the BC, we found out that our seats did not have access to the paddock, so, after paying $250 for each seat, we stood in the paddock all day long. Yep, we were on TV a bunch of times, but my mom who was almost 80, stood all day rather than miss seeing the horses. Security didn't catch us until right before the Classic. It was a bummer missing Ghostzapper up close, but we did pretty well overall, just tired feet and sunburned noses. I think Keeneland is a beautiful showcase for our sport, but for live attendance, it's going to be very difficult to provide a quality experience. Hopefully they have been planning long before this event was awarded.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Oh well it looks like The Fugue & Magician were not exactly the Euro 2nd & 3rd stringers like was being said around here last November.
pat gavin More than 1 year ago
JJ I still play hoops(twice a week) at age 53, our group has been playing together for almost 20 years. . In our games regular baskets count 1 and those behind the 3 point arc count 2. I am lousy at math but even I know that jacking up 3's is the only shot I should be taking. Recently, after a series of well played, error free games I stated "man, we are getting better, I still feel as fast as I did 15 years ago". My buddy said "Hold on...we are all slowing down at basically the same rate, so there is your answer" Perception is reality......often. In horse racing...the powers that be don't understand some basics. The handle is up in raw numbers, but attendance and interest is WAY down. Might be a by product of what JJ says. I was told years ago that 30-40% of any tracks handle is from the owners/trainers/jock agents. Since "they" have gotten raises(purses) they are probably betting more. And of course the elephant in the room is the Casino Money......which can disappear faster than my basketball buddy Kevin who NEVER came back to our twice a week basketball games after tearing his achilles tendon. He is fine but his wife will never allow him to play again. We have already seen this and it will happen again as the POLS decide that enriching some at the expense of the "children"(a dumb argument) continues to erode the game. But this discussion has little to do with us, we are committed and love the game. The best puzzle game ever invented. The exercise for the horse racing industry??? To get people interested in ENJOYING the puzzle......even if it is a daunting task.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Van Savant - You nailed it :) My baseball mates would come to games and when I touched the ball even in the backcourt they'd chant ... Shoot it.. shoot it.. shoot it :) I passed but only if there wasn't a tiny crack for me to shoot it ..shoot it ..shoot it :) I was a lousy tennis player . Girls could beat me in that game :) I can relate to noisy knees. Mine don't crunch but when I stand up from crouching or kneeling they pop like snapping a stick. Come to think of it my bird legs kind of look like sticks :) Congrats on your fine finish in the cook-off . JJ
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Test of not much. The Belmont Stakes no longer serves a useful purpose . There isn't one dirt open Gr. I stakes at 12 f in this country. The Belmont is an anachronism IMO . I say that not because I want to see another TC winner . I say it because it's true . JJ
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
C The Belmont is indeed the Test of Champions. A trainer is responsible for the horses’s condition although not completely – see previous threads about Zayat’s responsibility to his stock. However, it seems to a naïve eye that owners are calling shots much more than in the past. For example, you think Todd Pletcher wanted We Miss Artie in the Derby. He had been beaten 28L in three dirt starts. Each of his three dirt starts got successively worse. He ran simply because of the owner’s ego. Now Artie survived the experience. I could give many examples even going into the Belmont. No one that wants a TC tweak argues the TC should not be difficult. The TC in England and Canada have more spacing but remain exceedingly difficult. Talking ANY change in horse racing (Lasix, wagering cutoffs/coordination of posts, testing) is a complete dead end. The TC is of little interest to me. I generally won’t bet the series with any vigor. I simply do not like the aftermath on the three year runners after the TC’s “so much so soon approach”. You and the community can have the last word. BC for KEE This track generally gets it to me. Low rakes, big fields, and well maintained facility. This seems like a nice reward for a track that respects the sport unlike CDI. I have been to KEE hundreds of times. It gets overflow crowds on Saturdays in October. I wonder how they will handle the increased BC crowd size. I am not a fan of tents or temporary seating. The villas sound interesting but I don’t plan on spending thousands for seating – preferring to lose it the old fashioned way …. betting on much too difficult races. Americans Dancing in the Streets America is full of itself fresh off a soccer win over Ghana and we cannow add a sprint win at Royal Ascot. I watched a replay of the Queen Anne this morning. Apparently Aidan O’Brien did not get my fanciful “Petal to the Metal” memo. Verrazano rated kindly then finished but classy Toronado finshed better. I am disappointed that V is not going to the lead strongly with his Red/White/Blue speed but apparently the renowned O’Brien yard figures this is the best tactic. So far so good under O’Brien – two solid runs with more to come. He was not expected to beat Toronado anyway. Tax Reform I signed the DRF petition. John Avello at Wynn’s has this posted at 50-1 against the reform passing. CDI Finds the Solution Per the Paulick Report Australian drug lord Tony Mokbel was caught betting large sums from his max security prison cell. I have not been in a cell lately but my idea of a maximum security cell is not a computer, TVG and cell phone. This is still unsubstantiated but I have it on good authority that Churchill Downs is investigating prison betting opportunities worldwide to offset steep declines in its handle. Apparently focus group studies have found that prisoners are undeterred by exorbitantly high takeouts.
Biggar W More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Jackson Jackson, Annie & TBTA for the efforts to teach me what "cast in the stall" means. My note-book went south on me for as couple of days, so couldn't respond sooner. Good luck and a quick recovery for Geronomo with the new knee. Several of my friends have done the deed and all are happy that they did.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Jackson Kreskin; When you played, I seem to recall that your moniker was “I shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later-Sea-Kreskin”. Of that I have little doubt. I was a top-notch tennis player until I retired at the age of 24. My right knee couldn’t take it anymore. I still feel it. Especially after this weekend (36 out of 40 hours standing, walking, and dealing with hard asphalt). Oh, that asphalt. Nothing like a six hour a day pounding on the hard courts. Knee replacement surgery? I probably should. The sound that both knees make when I walk up and down stairs would make you cringe. Yes, you can hear it. Sounds like I am stepping on bags of potato chips. But to vicstu’s point about going full-force, anyone remember Roscoe Tanner? He was 6’6”, and he pounded hard serves and followed them into net. That’s how I played, although I was a bit less stout… more svelt. 6’2”, and 180 lbs., but quick. I usually won the point on the serve, or put away the return as I was already at net. If not, it was because I was passed down the line. I beat most. If I lost, it was because I wasn’t on. Pedal to the metal. That’s how it was back in the day. Kind of like horse racing and even basketball. Speedy recovery, vicstu. Later gators vs
C More than 1 year ago
"Wheeling back in two weeks is fine(and actually a huge advantage) for almost ALL of these good runners. If they fire in the Derby than they usually fire stronger in the Preakness......but the rub is the 3rd leg." Exactly. That certainly seems to be the case... and that is why the Belmont is the test of the champion and why triple crowns are so extremely difficult to win, as they should be. Good luck with your recovery, vicstu.