02/09/2017 1:07PM

On to Dubai!

ST. JOE BAY, profiled in the December 8 edition of FormBlog (http://www.drf.com/blogs/sharp-sprinter-consider), could be on his way to Dubai after notching his second consecutive graded stakes win in last Saturday's Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita. 
Make no mistake about it, St. Joe Bay didn't have it easy in either the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes (6 1/2 Furlongs, sealed sloppy track, December 31) or the Palos Verdes. On both occasions, he was hounded from the get-go through testing fractions. Both times, he put away his main pace rivals only to be confronted by strong closers. The wire came just in time in the Midnight Lute as he dead-heated with stable mate Solid Wager. In the Palos Verdes, he was just too good as the 7 to 10 favorite. 
The Palos Verdes scratched down to a field of four, and St. Joe Bay had to deal with the swift OCHO OCHO OCHO through fractions of 21.48 and 44.40. Meanwhile, second-choice MOE CANDY tracked the duel in the catbird's seat. Ocho Ocho Ocho called it quits turning into the stretch, but St. Joe Bay had no time to breathe. Moe Candy was suddenly upon him, but that foe had difficulty changing leads, and he began to hang inside the eighth pole. St. Joe Bay seemingly likes a fight and he kept right on going to prevail by a widening 2 1/4 lengths after six furlongs in 1:08.75. He received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. 
"There was a lot more pressure (on him) than I thought,” trainer Peter Miller told track publicity following the race. "When I saw that four-horse (Ocho Ocho Ocho) hounding me in 21 and two, I was like geeez. But this horse is just so good right now he’s got gears. When that gray horse (Moe Candy) came to him, I got a little concerned, but he had another gear.”
The waters will definitely get deeper in Dubai as Drefong, the champion sprinter of 2016 and the winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, will likely make his 4-year-old debut in that race. While St. Joe Bay has looked very good in his last three starts in Southern California, he also probably benefited from short fields mostly devoid of quality competition. Drefong and company will provide the sternest test of St. Joe Bay's career. 
It's hard to knock a sharp horse, however, especially one with St. Joe Bay's grit and determination. His usual race in Dubai sets his connections up for a nice payday, win or lose. 
*Keep an eye on both DICKINSON and ALMANAAR in the Suwannee River and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, respectively, on Saturday. Both are sharp horses in good form for good connections with some upside potential. Both should offer square prices on the tote.
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
Also, Mike Beer, Matt Bernier and I will be on for FREE and fun handicapping analysis at 3pm ET on Saturday for DRF Live!. This week, we'll discuss Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Oaklawn Tampa Bay. You can find us at live.drf.com.
You can check me out on Twitter @DRF_Dan Illman.
For up-to-date video release notifications from DRF, follow DRFTV @DRFvideo.
Once again, Laura has been kind enough to plan our annual FormBlogger's convention! Here are the details. 
The 6th (or is it 7th) annual Formblogger’s Convention is slated for March 10 – 12 at Gulfstream Park.  
Special room rates at the Hampton Inn will be available & I offer shuttle service to/from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, which is roughly a 20 min. drive. Sometimes 15 min. if I run the red lights.  I haven’t lost anyone or had an accident…yet.
As usual, our generous benefactor Mike Nyman will comp us a private suite overlooking the track. As usual, there will be laughter, serious discussions, catching up with old friends, not so old friends, and newcomers.  
Bets will be made, won and lost. Indecision, high fives, tears,whining and red boarding may be a part of the process. As usual, the betting machine will malfunction at least once.
As usual, our Fearless Leader Dan Who will join us and quietly cash in on a huge bet. He will also receive risqué blue undergarments suitable for either male or female. 
As usual, a race will be named in our honor & we’ll visit the paddock before the race and have a photo taken in the winner’s circle afterward. 
If you’d like to be a part of the mayhem, please contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com 
Updates will be posted as the date draws near.
...A few columns ago, you wrote about your wagering style, and I thank you for the insight.
Now, I would like to ask a question kind of like asking the King if he wears boxers or briefs or nothing at all.
On average, how many races do you handicap per day and of those races, how many do you wager?  (I would count a pick four wager as one wager and not how many combos)...
This time of year, most of my play is concentrated in New York, Florida and Southern California so I'll handicap those cards daily looking for favorable betting opportunities. 
Generally, I'm a multiple-race player and I'll try to hone in on Pick 4's and Pick 5's. If there is a horse in the sequence that I believe will offer overlaid odds, I will dabble in the win pool. I'd say I look at 9-15 races, but am only averaging four plays on a given day. That number fluctuates depending on my confidence level. 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 2/1/17 to 2/7/17:
1. STORM ADVISORY - 103 - King Cotton Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 4Feb17-8OP 
2. ST. JOE BAY - 102 - Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) - 6 Furlongs - 4Feb17-3SA 
3. HOPPERTUNITY - 101 - San Antonio Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 4Feb17-8SA 
4. BASS RIVER ROAD - 98 - Alw 12500s - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 2Feb17-7AQU
4. ISOTHERM - 98 - San Marcos Stakes (G2) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 4Feb17-9SA 
4. NOT MY NOTE - 98 - Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap - 4 1/2 Furlongs - 4Feb17-9SUN
4. RYE - 98 - Super Bowl Starter Handicap - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 5Feb17-4SA 
4. UNIQUE BELLA - 98 - Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile - 5Feb17-6SA 
9. IRISH WAR CRY - 97 - Holy Bull Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 4Feb17-12GP 
9. SUPER SURPRISE - 97 - Biogio's Rose Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 5Feb17-8AQU
11. DOMAIN'S RAP - 95 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 Mile - 4Feb17-5OP
12. CHIP LEADER - 94 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 4Feb17-9FG 
12. FABOZZI - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 4Feb17-6SA 
12. FAVORABLE OUTCOME - 94 - Swale Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 4Feb17-5GP 
15. GOODYEARFORROSES (IRE) - 93 - Astra II Stakes - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 2Feb17-8SA 
15. ROYAL MO - 93 - Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 4Feb17-2SA 
17. CARDS OF STONE - 92 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 3Feb17-8AQU
17. EL AREEB - 92 - Withers Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 4Feb17-8AQU
17. PAPACOOLPAPACOOL - 92 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 5Feb17-7SA 
17. TESTOSTERSTONE - 92 - Alw 67000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 4Feb17-4AQU
21. BATTALION RUNNER - 91 - OC 75k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 3Feb17-8GP 
21. SUMMERSAULT - 91 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 4Feb17-10GP 
21. TASUNKE WITCO - 91 - Clm 25000N3L - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 2Feb17-4AQU
24. COWBOY CULTURE - 90 - Keith Gee Memorial Overnight Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 4Feb17-5FG 
25. FRAMMENTO - 89 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 5Feb17-10GP 
25. TASHREEH - 89 - Alw 67000N1X - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 4Feb17-7AQU
*STORM ADVISORY's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
Congrats to Suheil for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Suheil selected Saturday's Gulfstream Park Handicap as 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!


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