05/30/2012 3:47PM

A Fantastic Met Mile, Triple Crown Winner PP's and More


On paper, Monday's Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park had all the makings of an exciting showdown. 

On the track, the participants didn't disappoint.

At the end of the historic one-turn mile, Preakness winner SHACKLEFORD outdueled Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile hero CALEB'S POSSE in a gut-wrenching stretch drive.  Shackleford was given a wonderful ride by John Velazquez, subbing for an injured Jesus Castanon.  Without much early speed in the Met Mile, Velazquez nursed Shackleford through an easy opening quarter in 22.77 while pinning 2011 Cigar Mile winner TO HONOR AND SERVE on the rail.  After a half in 44.73, Shackleford set sail for home.  He put pace-presser JACKSON BEND to bed at the quarter-pole, turned back a mild challenge from To Honor and Serve in upper stretch and grimly beat back the late-running Caleb's Posse inside the sixteenth pole.  The winning margin was a nose.  It was the third consecutive tough beat for Caleb's Posse this year after a neck loss in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap and a nose defeat (behind Jackson Bend) in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap. 

As for Shackleford, he dances every dance and he dances most of them with gusto.  He's won at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 3/16 miles and his good tactical speed allows him the opportunity to get the jump on closers like Caleb's Posse. 

To Honor and Serve may not have appreciated racing down inside, but I didn't like that he failed to switch leads during the stretch drive.  It will be interesting to see where he goes next.

Jackson Bend, surprisingly cold on the toteboard from the opening flash, acted up in the starting gate and may have been taken out of his element when sent up to press Shackleford early.  Still, he had no response when the real racing began and didn't look comfortable when weaving during the stretch drive.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (5/21/12 - 5/27/12):

1.  GOLDEN FRONTIER - 107 - Alw 54316N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Churchill
2.  HUNTERS BAY - 102 - Eclipse Stakes (G3-C) - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Woodbine
2.  SPUD SPIVENS - 102 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
4.  ITALIAN RULES - 101 - OC 100k/N3X - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
5.  SOMETHING EXTRA - 100 - Connaught Cup Stakes (G2-C) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Woodbine
6.  SHADOWBDANCING - 99 - Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Prairie Meadows
6.  STERLING MADAME - 99 - Wild Rose Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Prairie Meadows
8.  CLOSE TO THE EDGE - 98 - Clm c-(40-35) - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
8.  PANTS ON FIRE - 98 - Skip Away Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Monmouth
8.  WILKINSON - 98 - American Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Hollywood
11. ARUNA - 97 - Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
12. COMPLIANCE OFFICER - 96 - Kingston Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
12. ISN'T HE PERFECT - 96 - OC 50k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
12. JAMAICAN SMOKE - 96 - Alw 52790N1X - 7 Furlongs - Churchill
12. MISSISSIPPI MAN - 96 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 5 Furlongs - Monmouth
12. SAINT LEON - 96 - OC 80k/N3X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Arlington
12. SIMMARD - 96 - Louisville Handicap (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Churchill
18. BOUQUET BOOTH - 95 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
18. LADY OF GREATNESS - 95 - OC 65k/C - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
18. MAUDE S - 95 - OC 100k/N3X - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
21. DEWEY'S SPECIAL - 94 - Clm 32000(32-28) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Hollywood
21. MAJOR MARVEL - 94 - Alw 10000s - 1 Mile (Turf) - Churchill
21. PROFESSOR FATE - 94 - OC 75k/N1X - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
21. RIVER BEAR - 94 - Prairie Express Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Prairie Meadows
21. SILVER MAX - 94 - Arlington Classic Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
21. WINNING IMAGE - 94 - My Juliet Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Parx

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

*CLOSE TO THE EDGE was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Kristin Mulhall from Doug O'Neill.

*Here's the link to the latest "Performance of the Week" article (through Sunday evening):



NOTABLES ON THE WORKTAB (5/21/12 - 5/27/12):

*ACCLAMATION (Bruised right front foot + Signs of unsoundness in ankle) - 1M - 1:38.40H - Betfair Hollywood (turf, dogs) - May 25
*ALL STAR HEART (Splint right front leg) - 7F - 1:29.60H - Betfair Hollywood (turf, dogs) - May 27
*BANNER BILL (sick, spent two weeks in clinic) - 4F - 49.60B - Crupi's New Castle Farm - May 26
*BEAR IT'S TIME (undisclosed) - 3F - 39.40B - Woodbine (training) - May 24
*CELTIC PRINCESS (Temperature + Splint bone foreleg - surgery) - 5F - 1:00.00H - - Santa Anita - May 26
*FREEDOMS TRAVELLER (hairline fracture left front ankle) - 5F - 1:05.80H - Northlands - May 26
*EXCAPER (EPM) - 5F - 59.40H - Woodbine (turf training, dogs) - May 25
*FIELD COMMISSION (bone bruises) - 4F - 51.10B - Solera Farm - May 22
*MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE (shockwave therapy, vet's list) - 7F - 1:24.40H - Santa Anita - May 27
*MY MISS AURELIA (Sore shin) - 3F - 37.80B - Vinery Stable - May 26
*OPEN WATER (bone crack shin) - 5F - 1:01.40H - Santa Anita - May 26
*RULE (bruised left hind foot) - 4F -52.09B - Belmont (training) - May 27
*STARS TO SHINE (condylar fracture) - 5F - 59.60B - Woodbine (training track) - May 25
*SURREY STAR (heat in suspensory ligaments right front leg) - 5F - 1:02.40H - Santa Anita - May 25


Please check out the latest video production from Jessica Pacheco, Racing Analyst at Arlington Park.  It's the "Behind the Silks" video series following jockey Tim Thornton through his ups and downs at this year's Arlington meet.



Hi, Dan
I was told to ask you about this: I can't prove it, but I think that Whirlaway is the only TC winner who had not raced over the Belmont track prior to his Belmont win. Conversely, the colts who went into the Belmont with a shot at the TC from SoCal (six of them) never had a race over the track. Is there any chance you could provide us with some PP's or charts that might help me prove that the biggest obstacle in IHA's way is the size of the track, it's long, long turns and the team's relative unfamiliarity with it?
Thanks a lot. Mike

I've listed the lifetime past performances of the 11 Triple Crown winners at the bottom of this blog post.  All of them had at least two prior races at Belmont before "The Test of the Champion."

Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, War Admiral, Citation and Secretariat raced twice over the track before the Belmont Stakes.

Omaha, Whirlaway and Seattle Slew had three prior runs at Belmont.

Assault had four prior races at Belmont.

Count Fleet and Affirmed had five previous trips at Belmont.

Thus, I'LL HAVE ANOTHER has some history to overcome in his quest to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.


Can you post Lava Man's PP's by chance? I've been seeing so much of him lately eating lots of food and generally looking satisfied.

Lava Man's past performances are available at the bottom of the blog post.


Bombs away in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  There were no winners.

Penn National Rick, our diligent scorekeeper, selected Friday's eighth at Arlington 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.

golden frontier.pdf614.48 KB
Affirmed.pdf68.8 KB
Assault.pdf69.87 KB
Citation.pdf69.97 KB
Count Fleet.pdf65.52 KB
Gallant Fox.pdf65.04 KB
Omaha.pdf65.87 KB
Seattle Slew.pdf66.94 KB
Secretariat.pdf67.5 KB
Sir Barton.pdf69.31 KB
War Admiral.pdf66.44 KB
Whirlaway.pdf114.53 KB
LavaMan.pdf73.95 KB
HG284.pdf174.73 KB