08/26/2015 6:26PM

Don't miss this Flight


Although no match for the sensational BEHOLDER in last Saturday's Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, CATCH A FLIGHT's run of consistently excellent performances continued with his runner-up finish.

He should be followed as an "Under the Radar" horse this fall on the road to the Breeders' Cup.

Catch a Flight broke from post position seven in the ten-horse Pacific Classic and settled nicely passing the stands the first time under jockey Flavien Prat. The plan to follow Beholder and hope for the best was going swimmingly until the three-eighths pole when the mare shot to the front with a decisive three-wide sweep. The rest of the field was shell-shocked and Catch a Flight was shuffled back briefly while in between horses. Prat wheeled Catch a Flight four wide to split rivals turning for home and the plucky 5-year-old tried hard in the stretch to outfinish the rest of the field. Although he was never going to beat Beholder on this day, Catch a Flight received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure, his fifth triple-digit number in his last six races.

Bred by Estacion de Montas La Mission S. A. & Tupacireta S.R.L.A.G, Catch a Flight was foaled in Argentina on October 16, 2010. He is by European Horse of the Year Giant's Causeway, a three-time leading sire of over 155 stakes winners and eight champions.

Catch a Flight's dam, Callaia (by Lode) was third in the Group 2 General Luis Maria Campos Stakes at one mile on dirt in Argentina. Callaia has also foaled Brazilian stakes-placed turf sprinter Call the Marshall.

The dam is a half-sister to Brazilian multiple Group 2 turf route winner Calandrelle and Group 1-placed dirt router Calamintha.

Catch a Flight began his career in Brazil for trainer R. Morgado Neto. He won six of 10 starts on turf and dirt at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 3/16 miles, and placed in a Group 1 at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Sent to Richard Mandella, who already has had great success with such South American imports as Gentleman, Malek, Sandpit and Siphon, Catch a Flight provided jockey Gary Stevens with his 5,000th career victory in North America in the horse's second start of 2015.

As well as Catch a Flight has run this year, he's also had the misfortune to catch top horses at their peak. He popped a 105 Beyer when third in this year's Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap to the now-sidelined SHARED BELIEF and caught Beholder on the afternoon of her coming-out party against males.

In between the Big Cap and the Pacific Classic, Catch a Flight grabbed the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita over two next-out winners, the Grade 2 Californian Stakes against Grade 1 winner Moreno and subsequent Grade 1 winner HARD ACES, and the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap over razor-sharp APPEALING TALE and Grade 1 winners BAYERN, HOPPERTUNITY and SAHARA SKY.

His lone defeat during that span came in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. In that 10-furlong heat, Catch a Flight made a premature move into a hot pace and continued on willingly to be third.

Catch a Flight might not have the raw ability of a Beholder or an AMERICAN PHAROAH, but he's pretty good and I believe he's versatile. Don't be surprised if he shows up next in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on September 26. While he might not be a Breeders' Cup Classic type, he would fit very well in the Dirt Mile and Mandella might eventually cut him back in distance for that spot.


Here are the WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 8/18/15 - 8/24/15

1. BEHOLDER - 114 - Pacific Classic (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 22Aug15-9DMR
2. APPEALING TALE - 99 - Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 22Aug15-4DMR
2. AVANZARE - 99 - Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 23Aug15-8DMR
4. BIG JOHN B - 98 - Del Mar Handicap (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 22Aug15-8DMR
4. HOLY LUTE - 98 - Green Flash Handicap - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 19Aug15-7DMR
4. MONGOLIAN SATURDAY - 98 - OC 80k/C -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Aug15-7AP
4. REPORTING STAR - 98 - Play the King Stakes (G2-C) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 23Aug15-8WO
8. GOMBEY DANCER - 97 - OC 50k/N3X -N - 1 Mile - 22Aug15-9MTH
8. MIDDLEBURG - 97 - Cliff Hanger Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 23Aug15-11MTH
8. SHORE RUNNER - 97 - Troy Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 22Aug15-7SAR
8. SKELTON PASS - 97 - Md Sp Wt 70k - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 22Aug15-1DMR
12. BREAKIN THE FEVER - 96 - Ontario County Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 21Aug15-6FL
12. EMBELLISH THE LACE - 96 - Alabama Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 22Aug15-10SAR
14. MAGIC D'ORO - 95 - R. J. Speers Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 19Aug15-6ASD
14. S'MAVERLOUS - 95 - Clm 25000 - 6 Furlongs - 23Aug15-5SAR
14. TUCKERS POINT - 95 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 21Aug15-4LRL
14. TWENTYTWENTYVISION - 95 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 22Aug15-6DMR
18. CATCH MY DRIFT - 94 - Summer Colony Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 24Aug15-8SAR
18. FINEST CITY - 94 - Md Sp Wt 71k - 6 Furlongs - 23Aug15-7DMR
18. KAFISTER - 94 - Clm 32000(32-28) - 6 Furlongs - 22Aug15-11DMR
18. SCOTTY'S MODEL - 94 - Alw 81913N1X - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 22Aug15-9WO
18. STALLWALKIN' DUDE - 94 - Tale of the Cat Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 23Aug15-10SAR
23. PERFECT SET - 93 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - 22Aug15-5DMR
24. FINANCIAL MODELING - 92 - Alw 85000N1X - 1 1/8 Miles - 20Aug15-8SAR
24. K THIRTY EIGHT - 92 - Alw 93554N1X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 22Aug15-10DMR
24. SIR VRONSKI - 92 - Clm 20000(20-18) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 22Aug15-5GG
24. VALIANT CITY - 92 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) - 23Aug15-3AP

*BEHOLDER's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


If I remember name right, can you post the past performances of Ace and Bowers-- I remember him as a kid as a perennial maiden and money burner for the win, but often brought home a check for his owner. Thanks, Rick

His past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Dan in your experience evaluating 2 year olds I am curious if you are all in on Exaggerator. I think his move was impressive, however, I question the hoopla. Thank you again for sharing your perspective and knowledge

Dan, thanks for posting Let's Go Blue's PPs. One question why is it that the stakes names and running lines are generic or in the case of running lines not included? The Bid's however are full and he predated Blue. Not a complaint just a question.


I respect the professionalism he's shown in his last two wins, but he beat absolutely nothing of consequence in the Saratoga Special. We'll learn more next time against better horses. I'm not all-in just yet, but he's fairly promising and has the pedigree to stretch out successfully down the road.

For champions like Spectacular Bid, we have full past performances despite the age of the horse. For most horses pre-1990 or so, however, our system only shows the abbreviated past performances


The Pizza Man has been amazing. Can we see the lifetime past performance of recent retirees. Materiality, and Carpe Diem.

You can find the past performances for the two Todd Pletcher-trained Grade 1 winners at the bottom of this post.


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Remember to check out DRF LIVE's VIDEO handicapping coverage at live.drf.com. Lonnie Goldfeder co-hosts with me on Thursday and Friday at 4pm ET and I'll be joined by Marcus Hersh via Skype on Travers Saturday at 3pm ET.


Congrats to Annie for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling tournament.

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

Let's go with Saturday's Travers at Saratoga for this week's 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 "60-Card Quarterly Formulator 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!




BEHOLDER.pdf682.42 KB
ACE AND BOWER.pdf561.38 KB
CARPE DIEM.pdf632.54 KB
Copy of Formblog Pacific Classic 8-15-15.xls208.34 KB
HGTRAVERS.pdf192.54 KB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well well, there's my "quintessential sucker" MKB, WICKED STRONG, in Post 1 for the Woodward on Saturday. :) I have to say he looks like he has a real chance in this race. He's gotten away from the likes of Tonalist and Honor Code, and there is plenty of speed in the race to set it up for him. Hmmmmmmmmmm Annie
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Bernard, Any excitement for Gleneagles to come over to the US for the BC Classic? I was looking through his pedigree and noted his dam is a full sister to Giant's Causeway, who was 2nd in the 2000 BC Classic . Further exploration revealed that Galileo, his sire, finished sixth in the 2001 edition of the BC Classic when Tiznow-Sakhee went 1-2. For the most part, the Galileo's who have performed in the US have not fared well on dirt, but do perform nicely on turf. Do you think his dam will have enough influence to make him successful on dirt? Do you think he should be in the BC Turf instead of the Classic? The horse certainly couldn't be any more well bred from a pedigree standpoint and I am a huge fan of Urban Sea and her brood. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TBTA, I, too, have made a nice profit on the Annie horses. Although, I must admit that I don't jump on the ones that come out at 20-1. :) I agree that Whip thing is not helpful at all for the sport. When I heard that Victor was going to be on DWTS, my first thought was where will they find a partner for him that is short enough. Those dance pros are all really tall and dance in heels besides. I'll probably watch just to see how they deal with that. :) Annie
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Stupid annoyance of the morning! I'm not proud of this, but this morning I watched the announcement of the DWTS contestants on Good Morning America. Apparently there is a dance move called "The Whip" which several contestants and pros have demonstrated both on network promotional commercials and the show this morning. So, take a wild guess of what Victor is shown doing in the commercial. Yup, if you guessed slashing the air with a whip, you'd be correct. What a moron. That is not the kind of PR racing needs in commercials that reach millions, reminders to the casual fan and the non-fan general public that animals can be flogged while performing. It certainly wasn't cute or funny and if he thinks it was, he is dumber than I thought. Yep, feeling a little witchy this morning............ Annie, I have certainly been profitable on my Annie horse bets! The David and Jeff bets, not so much. Punctual Jeff has been a serious money burner. King David just showed a recent workout, so he might be back to burning my money too. Both names are very precise in their description of my loved ones, so the bad handicapping has to be forgiven. :)
Biggar W More than 1 year ago
I disagree that any of AP's connections should be called idiots by anyone. There is no shame in the performance that he provided. If he should be retired because of the loss I would consider that a poor decision, but I do understand that horse racing is a business.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amidst all the anguish expressed on here and elsewhere, allow me a trans-Atlantic view. Surely Harold Crenshaw got it exactly right. We cant have it both ways, we want to see our Champions on the racetrack, not in their stables. AMERICAN PHAROAH didn't finish distressed, trailing the field, he got beat in the last 50 yards. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Stuart Hill More than 1 year ago
CM Vongole, You wrote: "Upstart is just finished. He hangs like a chandelier every time. He is the quintessential sucker horse (much like Wicked Strong and Normandy Invasion in the older division). Everyone wants to bet him at longer and longer odds hoping today will be the day... but that day isn't coming until he finds softer competition. The Penn Derby may be a more logical spot for him, but he's simply just not good enough to hang with the better 3yos." First off, let me agree that it is not wise to bet money on Upstart to win to way they are running him. I agree with you there... But actually, Upstart's problem, IMO, is they are not utilizing his best weapon properly. This is a horse that has a very high cruising speed. As a 2 year old he was more of a stalker that would sit off the pace, especially in sprints, but at Gulfstream Park Violette had no choice but to allow the jockey to let Upstart to be forwardly placed because the track was very deep and tiring this year and like a merry go round. Well, since they moved from GP they have tried to get Upstart to go back to his 2 year old form and he is having none of it. Surely you saw him fighting for his head in the Kentucky Derby in 10th position after trying to follow AP to the front, and taking kickback and running all along the backstretch with his head cocked sideways and finally refusing to run after 1 mile? The big mystery was the horse resented being taken back and taking dirt down his lungs. The truth is that as a 3 year old Upstart showed a great deal of speed, especially during workouts. Several of his bullets or near bullets came without his exercise rider lifting a finger on his back. His last race (Haskell) was his first race back after a long layoff, and he was expected to be short and was 3rd...and his finished a close 4th in the Travers, running the final 2 furlongs as fast as anyone not named Keen Ice (check your chart). In fact, I believe he was 3 lengths behind Frosted and AP at a mile and a little more than 2 at the wire. Regardless, they are not allowing the horse to have his head and get into any sort of a stride. When he does catch up to the leaders on the backstretch, like at the 2nd call, the back him off again...and the shot of the horse on the network coverage coming out of the first turn showed a very agitated Upstart fighting for his head and pulling his head up like he wanted to be up closer to the leaders. This wastes a good deal of energy and makes no sense race after race. After all, Jerry Bailey said Upstart was the only horse that had anywhere close the cruising speed to press AP around the track, not Frosted. Jose simply had the guts to do it because they refuse to do it on Upstart. And anything that happened in the FOY or the FL Derby is a complete throwout because that track was just awful (even though he received very high Beyers for the FL Derby). It was like running in quicksand. The only time he ran when the track played fair was the Holy Bull. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't bet a dime on Upstart. But not for the reasons you are saying. He is "hanging" because he is not a stalker or a closer at 9 and 10 furlongs. He is a horse with tactical speed that should be up near or on the lead (depending on the speed in the race). Like he was in his 3 races in Florida. That is where he wants to be...and when a horse breezes bullets and works as fast as effortlessly as he does, that tells you what his weapon is...and it is not running down grade 1 racehorses in the stretch and making up 2 or 3 lengths on the backstretch before doing that. I just think trying the same thing over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity and yet its the same thing with this horse from the Derby on: Break, wrangle him back...he fights for his head...his natural speed allows him to catch the leaders; the hold is taken again, he drops back...and then by the second turn they are having to ask the horse to run because he is pissed off and then in the stretch they are having to switch the whip back and forth. Its very predictable...I feel very sorry for the horse. Whether you are correct and he needs a drop in class, or I am correct and he needs his head to compete, he needs relief. Let the damn horse run! Put Jose Lezcano on Upstart! -vicstu
gerald vinci More than 1 year ago
Penguinymous The study is from "Bet With the Best 2 Longshots"DRF Press 2008 p.p.235-241.I've seen enough favorites lose Gr.1 races to convince me that nothing is so uncertain as the sure thing.It's my own personal opinion that there are no bad horses in a Gr.1 race, therefore on any given day..... I doubt that betting all of the horses that aren't among the first four favorites will show a profit.For me it is futile to try to locate the longshot winner.I leave that to Dan and Matt.I rarely bet Gr.1 races ,but when I do I'm inclined to be looking for a price horse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Penguin, "Do horses with the name Annie show a flat bet profit?" Now there's a statistic I'd like to know. :) Annie
Horse More than 1 year ago
Victor Espinoza 15 mins of famr, why not capitalize it? Dancing with the stars ; go have some fun and then kicked off after a week or two.. But one thing I objected to....not the publicity stunt with his silks....but As the field was loading into the gate for the Travers ; Victor gave a high five or some fist bump to one of the out riders while approaching the gate. A big grin as well. May not mean much but when time for competition, prefer someone focused and not thinking it was a foregone conclusion