06/19/2013 1:31PM

Farewell Animal Kingdom


ANIMAL KINGDOM declared war on Royal Ascot, but he beat a hasty retreat in Tuesday's Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes.

To be honest, Animal Kingdom gave a dismal performance in England.  Studdish in the paddock and rank when unable to find cover in the early stages, Animal Kingdom never threatened and faded to eleventh in the field of thirteen. 

While a disappointing effort, the race shouldn't take too much shine off an excellent career.  A nine-furlong winner on polytrack at two, Animal Kingdom qualified for the Derby with a victory in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes, also on Polytrack.  He rallied stoutly to win the Derby in his first start on dirt and only fell a half-length shy in the Preakness.  A disastrous start to the Belmont Stakes cost him any chance in the "Test of the Champion" and he soon went to the sidelines with a slab fracture to his left hind hock. 

Animal Kingdom's connections wouldn't have been faulted if the son of Leroidesanimaux was retired than and there.  So many of our top thoroughbreds and classic winners are sent to lucrative careers at stud following injuries. Beacuse of this disturbing trend, many racing fans don't expect extensive careers from our star horses.

The Team Valor people were intent on returning to the track, however, and Animal Kingdom resumed training with an eye on the 2012 Dubai World Cup.  A popped splint delayed matters, but Animal Kingdom finally received his successful prep in an 'n3x' optional claimer on grass at Gulfstream.

Unfortunately, the World Cup had to wait as Animal Kingdom suffered a stress fracture to his pelvis.  Again, a retirement announcement wouldn't have been shocking, but Team Valor eschewed an easy comeback spot and decided to poke a bear for his return from the subsequent ten-month layoff.  Animal Kingdom picked a fight with Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile and finished a rallying second despite facing traffic issues. 

After finishing second to Point of Entry following a premature mid-race move in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, Team Valor took on the world with stops in Dubai and England. 

Animal Kingdom now goes to stud in Australia and will return to Kentucky for the Northern Hemisphere breeding season.  He'll be remembered as a throwback, a versatile horse that won on dirt, synthetic and turf and didn't duck a challenge when healthy. 

This year's Queen Anne didn't look like a stellar edition and it went to DECLARATION OF WAR, a Group 3 winner on the all-weather at Dundalk last season. Declaration of War entered the Queen Anne following a disappointing fifth-place finish behind the now-sidelined Farhh. Perhaps Declaration of War and Farhh will rematch in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.  He took down a big scalp, but I want to see it again from Declaration of War before I proclaim him the real deal.

*SOLE POWER is a tough bugger and he nipped the very talented South African SHEA SHEA in the King's Stand Stakes.  Sole Power pulled off a 100-1 upset in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York way back in 2010 and has been a solid group performer ever since. The European sprinters have a habit of beating each other for these big prizes, however, so it may be prudent to look elsewhere, however.

*DAWN APPROACH put his disastrous Epsom Derby performance in the rear view mirror by turning back in distance for the Group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes.  Once again, Dawn Approach pulled hard coming out of the gate but his class allowed him to hold TORONADO and MARS at bay. Both of those horses found trouble during the running and should be followed.  MAGICIAN, who suffered some bruising earlier in the week, was the major flop, finishing last of nine. There's no doubt that Dawn Approach is talented, but he may need to relax better if he is to handle tougher competition as the year progresses.

*Many folks jumped off the FORT LARNED bandwagon after the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic hero failed to win his two starts this season.  Of course, he had an excuse when dumping his rider coming out of the gate at Gulfstream, but it was hard to forgive his mediocre effort at Oaklawn.  Well, Fort Larned was given his head coming out of the gate of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and those front-running tactics propelled him to a giant score.  Fort Larned is capable of rating just off the leaders, but he is at his best when he controls the tempo.  He's right back in the mix of top handicap horses.

*PAYNTER's story is miraculous and he returned from near death to post a 114 Beyer Speed Figure, a career best, last Friday at Betfair Hollywood Park.  The cushion track was kind to speed that day and Paynter went gate-to-wire, but he overcame the layoff, pace pressure, and an unfamiliar surface at a distance short of his best.  Sometimes, fairy tales do come true in horse racing.



June 19:
BOOK REVIEW (illness) - Santa Anita - 5F - 1:00.00h
JUNEBUGRED - (injured) - Churchill - 5F - 1:00.60b

June 18:
GAME ON DUDE (temperature) - Santa Anita - 6F - 1:13.40h
TAPICAT (illness) - Saratoga (training) - 3F - 39.58b

June 17:
BALANCE THE BOOKS - Saratoga (training) - 4F - 49.44b
EBLOUISSANTE (foot abscess, fever) - Belmont - 5F - 1:01.44b
EMOLLIENT ("burned the front of her ankles," W. Mott) - Belmont - 4F - 50.73b
VALID (infected quarter right front foot) - Greentree - 4F - 47.60b

June 16:
AVIE'S SENSE (injured) - Woodbine - 5F - 59.60b
BLACK HORNET - Woodbine - 4F - 48.00b
FRUMIOUS (injured) - Pleasanton - 3F - 36.60h
FURY KAPCORI (knee surgery) - Golden Gate - 5F - 1:01.20h
GABRIEL CHARLES (fractured pelvis) - Betfair Hollywood - 6F - 1:13.20h (turf, dogs)

June 14:
TRAVESURA (pelvis) - Betfair Hollywood - 6F - 1:15.20h (turf, dogs)


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (6/10/13 - 6/16/13):

1. FORT LARNED - 115 - Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Churchill
2. PAYNTER - 114 - Alw 63866C - 7 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
3. GOOD MORNING DIVA - 101 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Churchill
3. SAN PABLO - 101 - Criminal Type Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
5. COALPORT - 98 - Black Tie Affair Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
5. JAGUAR PAW - 98 - Three Coins Up Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - Belmont
5. PALMY BAY - 98 - OC 25k/N2Y -N - 6 Furlongs - Louisiana
8. GO BLUE OR GO HOME - 97 - Karl Boyes Memorial Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Presque Isle
8. LONGHUNTER (GB) - 97 - OC25k/SAL25k - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Belmont
8. RANULF - 97 - Md Sp Wt 54k - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
11. CREDIT REPORT - 96 - OC 35k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - Prairie Meadows
11. RIBO BOBO - 96 - Alw 6250s - 6 Furlongs - Penn National
11. VERRAZANO - 96 - Pegasus Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Monmouth
14. DANCE TO BRISTOL - 95 - Bed O'Roses Handicap (G3) - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
14. GOLDEN ITIZ - 95 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/8 Miles (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
14. IN THE FAIRWAY - 95 - Alw 27200N3X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
14. WELL KEPT - 95 - OC 35k/N3L -N - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
18. HAMMERS TERROR - 94 - Brooks Fields Stakes - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Canterbury
18. REGAL REVENGE - 94 - OC c-12k/N1X - 4 1/2 Furlongs - Charles Town
18. STORMOFTHECENTURY - 94 - Alw 38000N1X - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Presque Isle
18. VISIONARY RULER - 94 - Clm 50000 - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
22. LOUIE THE LIP - 93 - Clm 12500(12.5-10)N3L - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Prairie Meadows
22. MICO MARAGARITA - 93 - Alw 51249N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Churchill
22. UNFETTERED - 93 - Norgor Thoroughbred Derby - 6 Furlongs - Ruidoso
25. CAVALERO - 92 - Clm c-(30-25) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
25. CODE WEST - 92 - Matt Winn Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Churchill
25. FREE WORLD - 92 - Centaur Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Indiana
25. INCLUDE ME OUT - 92 - Desert Stormer Handicap - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
25. NAJRAN BREEZE - 92 - Western Canada Handicap - 6 Furlongs - Northlands
25. NEVADA KID - 92 - OC30k/SAL25k - 1 Mile - Belmont

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

*REGAL REVENGE was claimed for $12,500 by trainer Douglas Adams from Hugh McMahon.

*CAVALERO was claimed for $30,000 by trainer Kerry Zavash from Wayne Catalano.


*Dan and anyone else
A few days a go I was watching the Belmont races and Andy Serling, the racetrack commentator, said something like: "He can win, but he won his last race and I don't like betting last out winners."
That got me to thinking about statistics. I have in my racing library many books on racing and many of the old books cite statistics that are never credited and state the study is based on 10,000 to upwards of 40,000 races. Back in the old days, to go through 40,000 races or even find 40,000 races that apply to the statistic you are looking for, i.e., the percent of horses winning the next race after their last race win, is absolutely mind boggling to do this with pen and paper.
My question is where could I find handicapping statistics such as this and know that it is credible?

Derick Giwner has a harness racing blog on DRF whcih I read occasionally whenever I see him talking about value. Since I am interested in the concept of value, I looked for the results from Mohawk raceway to see how his value handicapping was going and couldn't find hide nor hair of any results or pp's.
Any insight? And where might I find some statistics on harness racing such as the per cent of winning favorites and the average payoff and what is the average size of their fields?
Ron Zuercher

One way to find statistics like "next-out winners" is to search Formulator's trainer feature.  For example, if you filter Kiaran McLaughlin's statistics to "Past Five Years - Winner Last Out," you'll see that he is 117-465 (25% winners) for a $1.85 ROI.  You can also click on the horse's name on the left side of the screen to view their lifetime past performances. 

You can find tons of information about harness racing on the United States Trotting Association link at www.ustrotting.com

The Meadowlands also has some excellent handicapping tools at www.thebigm.com


I'll be on the road later this week for a handicapping seminar with Mike Beer at Colonial Downs on Friday afternoon.  If you're in the area, come on down. We'd love to discuss the races with you. 

The weekend handicapping videos should be up on the homepage on Thursday and Friday afternoon. 


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Misterbaseball for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.

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

Let's go with the Friday's seventh race at Belmont 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.


I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/concerns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.COM and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!



Best of luck to all.


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