12/27/2011 2:27PM

The Factor, Mr. Commons, Xtra Heat


When THE FACTOR wakes up on the right side of the stall, he is one of the top three sprinters in the country.  On opening day at Santa Anita, The Factor came to play.  Breaking from the far outside post in the field of 10, The Factor zipped to the front and prompted a moderate initial quarter of 22.61 while racing three wide under Martin Garcia.  The Factor threw a second two furlongs of 22.00 flat at his rivals and he had them at his mercy.  The Bob Baffert-trainee wasn't done yet, finishing his last eighth in 11.97 for a final seven-furlong clocking of 1:19.89.  The Factor earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure and delighted the crowd of 44,579, the biggest opening day turnout since 1994. 

*Mike Smith is sometimes criticized for taking his mounts wide.  In the Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita on opening day, Smith gave MR. COMMONS a Hall of Fame-caliber ride, weaving his way around and through opponents to win the grassy Grade 2 test by a facile 4 3/4 lengths (100 Beyer).  Of course, it helps if you're driving a Lamborghini.  Mr. Commons looked that good in disposing of his opponents and John Shirreffs has a very promising 4-year-old on his hands. 

*Cal-bred juvenile filly ISMENE made it a perfect three-for-three after dusting off her overmatched opponents in the $100,000 California Breeders' Championship.  Ismene received an 85 Beyer for trainer Bill Spawr and may be set to tackle open stakes foes in the future. 

*ROYAL CURRIER loves the main track at Parx.  The winner of the $250,000 Gallant Bob Stakes in the fall with a 109 Beyer Speed Figure, Royal Currier rebounded from a pair of runner-up performances at Laurel and Penn National, respectively, to take the $75,000 Valley Forge Stakes on December 20 at Parx with a 104 Beyer.  Royal Currier pressed the pace while four wide, bounded to the front readily on the turn and was too much for the solid sprinters J J'S LUCKY TRAIN and POSEIDONS WARRIOR.  Royal Currier may be headed to New York for some stakes opportunities over the Inner Track. 

*Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's baby brother, LENTENOR, returned from a two-month layoff to register an 89-Beyer score in a grassy optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Leigh Delacour.  Fourth in the 2010 Florida Derby on dirt, Lentenor seems to have found his niche on grass.  He finished 1 1/2-lengths clear of Beckham Bend in the 1 1/16-mile test.  Beckham Bend, trained by James Chapman, was making his first start since April after requiring surgery to repair a condylar fracture to his left hind leg. 

*LITTLE MIKE, a three-time Grade 3 winner on turf at Gulfstream earlier in the year, made his return to the races a winning one in an optional claimer over the Hallandale, Fla. turf course.  Away since April due to a cracked shin, Little Mike took up his customary spot on the front, blew the doors off his opponents with a third-quarter clocking of 22.86 and had just enough to last by a nose over YANKEE FOURTUNE.  Little Mike finished his mile in 1:34.67 for trainer Dale Romans and received a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

*Another week, another promising juvenile debut winner from the Todd Pletcher barn.  THUNDER MOCCASIN, a bay son of A. P. Warrior that sold for $35,000 as a weanling and for $95,000 as a yearling, bounced right to the front under Johnny Velazquez in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream on December 24.  Thunder Moccasin reeled off fractions of 22.50, 45.60 and 1:09.70 before completing the journey in 1:15.81, a time good enough for a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.  Thunder Moccasin is out of One Stormy Mama, a route-winning Storm Cat mare that is a half-sister to Grade 3-placed polytrack router Saada (25-5-3-2, $167,587).  Another of the dam's half-siblings, Wicked Diva, won the $70,000 Saratoga Dew Stakes going nine furlongs at Saratoga.  The second dam (by Devil's Bag) was a stakes-winning miler on turf and the fourth dam, a multiple stakes-winner by Forli, is a half-sister to top sire Caerleon. There are some big names way back in this pedigree so Thunder Moccasin bears watching as he turns three next week.

*GROUPIE DOLL, the winner of the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park over the summer, was way the horse to beat in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on December 22.  Scratches left the race without any pace, however, and that may have caused some concern for her many backers.  They needn't have worried as Calvin Borel took Groupie Doll, usually a stalker or closer, directly to the front en route to a gate-to-wire score and a career-best 100 Beyer. 


Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (12/12/18 - 12/20/11):

1.  ROYAL CURRIER - 104 - Valley Forge Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Parx
2.  GROUPIE DOLL - 100 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
3.  BOYS AT TOSCONOVA - 98 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
4.  THUNDER MOCCASIN - 97 - Md Sp Wt 40k - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Gulfstream
5.  LITTLE MIKE - 95 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - Gulfstream
6.  FRONTIER WARRIOR - 93 - OC 32k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Penn National
6.  RED LEAD - 93 - OC 25k/C -N - 1 Mile - Sunland
8.  FORDANGSHORE - 91 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Parx
8.  WASH PARK - 91 - Clm 30000(30-25)N3L - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
8.  WILD HOPE - 91 - OC 80k/C - 6 Furlongs - Hawthorne
11. AFLEET LASS - 90 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
11. LITTLE NICK - 90 - Alw 24500NC - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Tampa Bay
11. TYPHOON CHARLIE - 90 - Md Sp Wt 38k - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
14. LENTENOR - 89 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Tampa Bay
14. PAYTON'S VICTORY - 89 - Alw 33280N1X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Penn National
16. FIT AND AWESOME - 88 - Clm 25000(25-20) - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
17. CALL - 86 - OC 20k/N2X -N - 5 Furlongs - Delta
17. GAELIC STORM - 86 - Clm 32000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
17. TRUE BREW - 86 - OC 15k/ - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
20. BALLESTERO - 85 - Clm 3000 - 1 Mile - Turf Paradise
20. BRANDONS BEACH - 85 - Clm 7500N2Y - 6 Furlongs - Parx
20. JACK ON THE ROCKS - 85 - OC 32k/N2X - 4 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
20. MAGICAL FEELING - 85 - Hcp 16000s - 6 Furlongs - Parx
24. ACE AND JIM - 84 - Clm c-(10-8) - 5 Furlongs - Delta
24. BARRACUDA BAY - 84 - OC 15k/  - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Fair Grounds
24. BELOVEDA - 84 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Fair Grounds
24. FEAR THE HEAT - 84 - Alw 40000s - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
24. HOBBITONTHEROCKS - 84 - Clm c-5000 - 6 Furlongs - Parx
24. RARE SUNSET - 84 - Alw 22200NC - 1 Mile (Turf) - Turf Paradise
24. SHRADED EDGE - 84 - Clm 25000(25-20) - 1 1/16 Miles - Fair Grounds

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

*ACE AND JIM was claimed for $10,000 by trainer Ronald Matthieu from Karl Broberg.

*HOBBITONTHEROCKS was claimed for $5,000 by trainer Ronald Taylor from Mario Serey Jr.


Just read your report on stakes horses returning from injury, an being a fellow Oak-a-holic I
had to ask if you have heard anything on Giant Oak since his injury during training in November. I
believe his trainer Chris Block had said they might take him to Lexington, Ky. to get him looked
at, but have heard absolutely nothing since.
Can you help? Thanks.
Nick Choporis

The initial reports were that GIANT OAK had suffered some bone bruising.  Trainer Block noted that the horse will miss time and that they are weighing options on whether to return him for a 6-year-old campaign or to retire him to stud.  Click on the below link for a Giant Oak report by Marcus Hersh:



There is this one horse i like from back in the day...Al The Fighter. This horse would just come flying from the back of the pack and made the races always interesting. Do you have PP's for him? Also, any word on how Xtra Heat is doing?? I think she is a broodmare...any word on her "kids"??
Thanks Dan
Happy Holidays!!

AL THE FIGHTER's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 

XTRA HEAT's produce record is as follows:

2004:  SOUTHWESTERN HEAT (colt, by Gone West):  STAKES-WINNER (17-4-2-7, $155,340), Stands stud in 2012 at A&A Ranch in New Mexico for $2,500


2005:  X RATED CAT (colt, by Storm Cat):  STAKES-PLACED (9-3-2-2, $103,510), Stood stud in Texas.

2006:  ELUSIVE HEAT (filly, by Elusive Quality):  STAKES-WINNER (4-3-1-0, $117,170), Broodmare, Deceased 2011
       Elusive Heat's produce record:

       2011:  Unnamed (filly, by Medaglia d'Oro)
2007:  DON'T U BABY ME (filly, by Unbridled's Song):  PLACED (2-0-1-0, $9,750)

2008:  SONGAVAZZO (colt, by Songandaprayer):  WINNER IN JAPAN (4-2-2-0, $27,719)

2009:  HEAT EXPOSURE (filly, by Street Cry):  UNPLACED (1-0-0-0, $0)

2010:  HOT WEST (colt, by Elusive Quality):

2011:  Unnamed (colt, by Elusive Quality):

2012:  In foal to Quality Road


Is Castellano now riding first call for Pletcher or is Pletcher just using the hot hand? I noticed Castellano is pretty much riding everything for Pletcher although I did see Johnny V just sprinkled in for a couple mounts last week though.

John Velazquez took a couple of weeks off at the beginning of December.  During that time, Javier Castellano rode first call for Todd Pletcher.  Velazquez is back in the saddle and has returned to his familiar spot as the Pletcher barn's go-to rider.


Dan - in your comments on Nicky's Boy you twice mentioned racing "against the boys". I know its more a Euro thing, but surely we should be able to agree that a good filly (not Nicky's Boy) in receipt of the weight allowance can be competitive over any distance. Up the fillies.
Bernard Downes

Certainly, a quality filly can compete successfully against males and I wouldn't advise handicappers to dismiss a good mare simply because they are racing "against the boys."  It happens on an international basis all the time and we've seen recent examples of good female performers beating males in North America (Havre de Grace and Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward, Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic).  Unfortunately, there are so many opportunities to amass blacktype and big purse money in races restricted to fillies and mares in the United States that trainers fail to see the need to challenge their quality mares more often. It's a shame.


Congrats to Uncle Steve T. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  Let's go with for Thursday's fifth at Gulfstream for this week's event.

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 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.

Best of luck to all.

Royal Currier.pdf62.48 KB
Al the Fighter.pdf56.28 KB
HG264.pdf204.53 KB