09/26/2014 4:24PM

A few to consider


Let's take a look at a few horses to consider in the weekend's major stakes races.

Kelso Handicap - Belmont - Race 4:

ITSMYLUCKYDAY is the deserving heavy favorite as he drops in class and distance, but I didn't like the way he galloped out after the Woodward, and I wonder if those two tough races at the Spa took some of the starch out of him.

If he falters, then BRADESTER has a good chance. I spotlighted Bradester in a recent blog http://www.drf.com/blogs/catching-3 so I won't go too in-depth in this space, but he looked good winning the Ack Ack around a one-turn mile in his most recent start. He's now earned three consecutive triple-digit Beyers and only finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Itsmyluckyday at Monmouth. I believe he's trending upward and the chalk might be headed the other way. He has the tactical speed to stalk RIVER ROCKS early.

Beldame Stakes - Belmont - Race 5:

STOPCHARGINGMARIA took two prestigious races at Saratoga, but the most recent win was in slow time, and I just didn't like the way she finished it off. She'll be a short price against older horses in the Beldame, and could prove an underlay.

FIFTYSHADESOFHAY isn't a superstar, but she's a solid mare that enters the Beldame in good form. She was second-best to a really good filly, Close Hatches, over a wet track at Saratoga, and proved her worth around one turn at Belmont earlier in the year. There doesn't appear to be much speed in the Beldame, and Fiftyshadesofhay shouldn't be too far off BELLE GALLANTEY's early pace.

Jockey Club Gold Cup - Belmont - Race 10:

I think TONALIST was a short horse in the Jim Dandy, his first start since the grueling Belmont Stakes victory. Considering that he was probably using that race as purely a Travers prep, he ran quite well against WICKED STRONG.

Although beaten by V. E. DAY and Wicked Strong in the Midsummer Derby, Tonalist was very headstrong for the first two furlongs or so. He did a good amount of work pressing the speedy Bayern through solid fractions, and still fought hard in the stretch while Bayern backed up badly.

I'm hoping he'll relax better without blinkers in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and he'll have a couple of targets this time around in MORENO and BIG CAZANOVA.

Rodeo Drive Stakes - Santa Anita - Race 7:

The turf distaffers seem to beat each other, and I don't want anyone coming out of the Yellow Ribbon, a race that featured a bunched-up finish behind MISS SERENDIPITY.

Instead, I'll hope that Saturday is MOULIN DE MOUGIN's turn. She looked good winning her most recent start at Del Mar as she was shuffled back to last turning for home, and still got up after splitting rivals in the stretch. There should be a good amount of speed to adequately setup Moulin de Mougin's late flurry, and she figures a square price in an excellent betting race.

Pilgrim Stakes - Belmont - Race 9 - Sunday

STARTUP NATION is definitely the horse to beat in the Pilgrim as he showcased a powerful turn of foot in winning both starts for Chad Brown at Saratoga. He got some pace in front of him when taking his most recent effort, however, and could be overbet on Sunday.

IMPERIA is still a maiden, but the well-bred colt, a son of multiple Grade 1 winner Cocoa Beach, did some excellent things in his debut at the Spa. Although beaten by FACE THE MUSIC, that horse tripped the light fantastic on the front end through easy fractions of 23.86, 49.96 and 1:15.94. Meanwhile, Imperia was last on the inside until the far turn. At that juncture, he altered course to split rivals from the five path and came with a powerful late burst to fall a neck shy. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin adds Lasix for this start and Imperia has been promoted from Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stables to his Godolphin string.

For more in-depth analysis and selections, check out the video previews (15 in all) that Matt Bernier and I produced at the below link. All of the videos should be uploaded by Friday evening.


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

I'll be appearing on HRRN live from Belmont between 5:00-6:15 pm on Saturday afternoon. Tune in if you get a chance.

Who do you like this weekend? I want to know.


Congrats to MZ for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

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

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

Let's go with Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont as 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!





Copy of Formblog PA Derby 9-20-14.xls75.5 KB
HGJCGC.pdf205.63 KB
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
DavidM9999 Wise Dan in the Classic ? A most interesting thought. Check out these videos ( via America's Best racing) "Wise Dan the most interesting horse in the World ". I saw it in a NTRA release. Something fun. It is third in a series of eight 30 second clips. A parody of the 'Most Interesting Man in the World ' Dos equis commercials :) They can also be found on youtube. http://www.americasbestracing.net/en/the-latest/news-stories/2014/10/1/wise-dan-the-most-interesting-horse-in-the-world-no-3 SR Vegas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All in all, a very nice Saturday at Belmont. Race 2 – took Noble Cornerstone despite the short price – he looked considerably better in the paddock than anyone else; dancing and prancing almost from the moment he came in, foaming and drooling all over the place. Race 3 MSW – Thanks to MikeA for continuously beating the drum on the English Channels. Britannia's Moat was very much the EC - kind of small but well balanced and happy looking …. nearly took them all the way first out. R4 – Golden Ticket, whom I'd touted, had a good run in him, but was far back early and used it all up on the turn and in the upper stretch. R6 – saw one of my old pals from Aqueduct last winter, Green Gratto, being run in entirely the wrong spot. Looked healthy enough, but the trainer switch has gone from bad to worse. He ought to be rested to wait for the AQU inner track, and maybe they can get some inside draws. No one will ever make him famous, but he is a good trier and an honest sort who deserves better. But maybe he'll come around at a price again this winter, if things align. Tannery again never involved on firm turf, and it didn't look like it affected her mood whatsoever. She does have quite large feet …. making sense of the soft turf performances. Private Zone I'd looked at and wanted to take, but really wanted to see something physical, some pep in the step, and didn't see it until he was just about to load into the gate (he had to be held back from sprinting INTO the gate). No chance to dash back to the machine or window, no time, missed it. But, great fun to watch him and Dads Caps come flying by past the wire and gallop out. Nice to have seen Ribo Bobo, although he was outrun. Moreno – I have to disagree about a regression, at least non-figure wise. I think that considering the trip, he ran his pretty much normal race. Pushed hard from the far outside of the gate; rather suddenly yielded the lead to Big Cazanova; then inexplicably allowed to drift outward along the backstretch instead of holding the inside, and allowing WS & LR to get inside of him; cutting back in sharply into the turn; battling first w/ BC, then w/ LR; and finally tiring. Moreover, I'm now pretty convinced that TBTA was right, he is an 8.5 F horse. He can get 9 F on his gameness, but 10 F is more than he is good for, unless maybe he has the loosest of leads and completely dawdles. Here are his last 12 races: JCGC (10 F) – led briefly, stalked, dueled, passed btwn 3/16th & 1/8th poles Woodward (9 F) – led, pressured, dueled, finally gave way inside last 1/16th Whitney (9 F) – loose lead, began to tire a bit inside last 1/16th but had lead to spare Suburban (10 F) – drive to get lead, led, tired and passed last 1/8th Met Mile – never involved w/o blinkers Pimlico Sp. (9.5 F) – pace battle, weakened last 1/16th CT Classic (9 F) – pace battle, weakened last 1/4, came back mildly BCC – faltered around 3/8ths or 1/4 pole and folded PA Derby (9 F) – passed last 1/8th, came back Travers (10 F) – loose lead and went slow (48.4, 1:13.2, 1:37.2); passed entering stretch; came back, caught on wire Jim Dandy (9 F) – led w/o dispute but under pressure from PM (24, 47.2, 1:11, 1:34.4); began to tire near 1/8th pole and weakened last 1/16th while well clear of 4th Dwyer (9 F) – loose lead after brief early pressure; drew clear I saw him come into the paddock before they put his blinkers on, and he did have an odd, pretty wild look about him. Also a funny gait, although I didn't get a long enough view to pin down where it came from. On top of that, he needs to go to the front, but while fast, he is not as fast as say, Bayern. So, MikeA, perhaps you are right that he'd be better at one-turn, but where would that leave him? Likely to get caught in pace battles with those wanting to go very fast in 8 F races I'd think; and how there just aren't enough 9 F one-turn races for older horses. Al
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Scarlett Letter Stables The headlines say Doug O’Neill is suspended. Well that bet was a very short priced proposition at Wynn’s. He wins races at moderate rates (not super feed trainer levels) even sometimes winning America’s most prestigious races. The problem with Mr. O is he is a serial offender – 18 priors and nine since January 2009. Now the Dougie defenders might say many of those were minor, bogus, or honest errors by unsupervised crew members. I don’t have the list but assume they are wide ranging. I do wonder if the man has been caught breaking rules that often how many times has he NOT been caught. Using math put forth by MADD in relation to drunk driving probably 80 times the 18 may reasonable. The suspension was perfectly timed starting two days AFTER the BC. Racing fans expected no less. I see O’Neill on a parallel course to Rick Dutrow. Now Dutrow was fined or suspended a remarkable 72 times before he took a 3,650 day vacation. I suspect O’Neill won’t get 54 ore violations before he is Dutrowed. Can tracks get innovative and say there is no negotiation. We have the evidence, we heard your counsel provide your side but here is your sentence period. Your suspension starts the minute your due process runs out not two days after the BC. Can TVG and the HRTV also consider barring multi-offenders from TV interviews. They snuggle up to these slimy guys. Isn’t it funny how slimy folks often give the greatest interviews. Charm apparently is part of the package. As a bettor I am willing to live without the O’Neill’s interviews. Maybe the race silks for the O’Neill barn should be a mandatory scarlet A. It’s time to make these guys outcasts in their own game. Classic What once was a shaping up as a spectacular Classic is now looking a bit more ordinary. We lost older monsters Dude, Will Take Charge, Macho really quick. We still have the Chromies, we have Shared Belief coming off the strange 9.1F prep race, whoever Baffert sends forth to stymie Jerry H, and probably a Coolmore turf horse choosing again to run in the wrong race on dirt. The way this thing looks now could Wise Dan call an audible trying the younger crew in the Classic. He certainly could add some drama. He would lose no luster if defeated trying the dirt again. Bernard I will post a few thoughts on the BC as the fields firm up a bit. If history is a predictor everyone could use a few automatic DAVIDM9999 toss outs. Last year I came strong with a turf miler called No Jet Lag. NJL certainly never reached cruising altitude at Santa Anita. I see you have a number of bombers. I would never talk anyone off 30-1 shots. I have made money on Majestic Harbor in 2014. I passed on him in the Awesome Again prep. The SA track is quick and distance was too short. Now maybe at the longer 10F AND if pace seems right. MH is out of the same dam as a filly my best friend owns. A ‘Majestic” win would mean some more nice appreciation. I have followed the older F&M turfers out in SoCal. The group is not up to normal par. I am dubious of west coast turf form even though they have the home court advantage on what may be astro-turf. Obviously is a monster when right but outside that not sure if anyone is a “top flight” G1 types. I would have to believe Europe has 10-15 better animals than what SoCal has to offer. The downhill 6.5F turf I probably lean to home court type horses due to course uniqueness. Has Havelock entered the stretch yet? Another DAVIDM9999 stellar bet last year.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Ray is right . The only solid thing in racing is the people . They're rock solid . The people are the baseline to build from . The people know stuff they don't even know they know :) And they don't know stuff they don't even know they don't know :) If you learn when they do or they don't know it's bound to help a little :) JJ
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
catching up ... I have had a blast reading through the recent posts. Some of this came up several years ago (when Alan and Steve T were researching the new track surfaces ) But it is very relevant today. I am sure it is informative for some of the new formbloggers. The differences between them (syn) , and the differences between 'dirt' at different tracks. All surfaces are not created equal :) Is that what the BSF are suppose to help even out ? hmmm? JJ mentioned in his Red herrings , wives tales & fables post " The Dogman " Van Savant got a chuckle from the name reference, so did I :) For those who are new here, or may not have heard the reference .. JJ is referring to Steven Crist. Who has adopted retired greyhounds after their racing careers. That is pretty cool. rvraynmary You posted in part " So follow the crowd or create your own herd” . I think we have. It's Dan Illman's Formblog ...and I like running with this herd :) Van Savant Good luck to the East Angels and your son tomorrow . My brother also played center when on his High School football team. TBTA - as pat gavin said "brilliant Post " ! pat gavin 'trainer body language I like that . I'll have to give it some thought and come back with something. Like who wears what on Big race days ? or who runs to the betting windows after being in the paddock ? stuff like that . DavidM9999 - another great read. I am so glad you have come back and added your point of view. Witty and informative. Bernard Downes you posted in part ....."told me that I have a damn cheek shamefacedly touting for picks. " Really ? I didn't see that way . When I get a feel for anything in the Breeders Cup I'll happily chime in. But beware ...The PGH angle has worked for me the last few years :) SR Vegas
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
TBTA - My original post didn't say a word about sire lines . VS brought up sire lines . My post was about switching surfaces . But of course I never fell for the ol' turf horses like synthetic trick :) That's just another urban legend . Okay I'm going to bite TBTA :) Keep in mind I've never looked at The Polytrack sire list and it wasn't on my mind . What makes an A polytrack sire an A or F an F ? Are there any 20% polysires ? What is the poly par for say the top 100 stallions in the world ? I'm not going to find Fs or Ds because I'm not going to look for them :) You can show them to me if you want to. Do BSB 1s know they're 1s ? :) I'd say there's a better chance of that than them knowing if it's 90 % or 89% sand :) Slewsters ? I don't know about Slewsters . JJ
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
I was homing in on track switching more than sire lines but name a bunch of horses in training that have more than one ancestor that ran on any form of synthetic track ? Horses are not bred to be synthetic runners .They're bred to be runners . One time I had a $25 2nd timer at DMR and somebody said he had a polytrack sire :) Really ? That's nice , but it ain't why the horse won . He would have won half the time against any comparable field of maidens on any main track on earth . Regardless of who his daddy was. Do you have any stats for Rocky Bar VS ? I know he's got at least 1 winner at DMR :) Rocky who JJ ? Rocky Bar VS :) Is he a Quarter horse ? Kinda sounds like it :) Dullahan hmmmm :) Dulla ran 3rd in the Derby on Louisville sand :) Hmmmmm Louisville sand must mimic every different kind of synthetic sand they got :) Pro-ride - Made from pulverized asphalt & Peacock feathers reclaimed from a section of Baldwin Ave . Turfway - Made from equal parts gypsum & nuclear waste from Paducah ?? :) Whatever ... it makes a haboob 30 ft. wide, 20 ft. tall and 100 ft. long for the closers to run through :) Woodbine - Nice and soft and comfy :) Made from cute little baby seal fur fibers :) Holly cushion - Echo del viejo mano segundo patio furniture cushions ??? DMR poly - made from shredded decaying kelp & seagull sheet ? Smells like it too:) GG tapeta - recycled water bottles & Silicon Valley sand. Kee poly ? - Crushed pearls & platinum coated diamond sand I think ? Made from old jewelry donated by the masters of the sport . ( Tax write off right DavidM ? :) Seriously , I read my post and I could've worded the end a bit differently. Anybody that likes that trick in their bag should keep it. JJ
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
The Great and Powerful Ray… Let’s see… you wrote “the unsophisticated crowds still select favorites to win around one-third of all races. Why is this? It's called wisdom of the crowd and trumps other myths, lies and systems of handicapping based on limited data. So follow the crowd or create your own herd” I hope you are not thinking that “the wisdom of the crowd” is a pathway to success at the track, because it is not. If this trumps what you call myths, lies and systems of handicapping based on limited data, then that is fine, but it does not lead to success. You make it sound as if it is “either/or”, and it is not. I have handicapped with you, and I remember with good clarity that you didn’t handicap or play races with this type of thinking. Or maybe that 2nd glass of Cabernet I had that day murked my clarity… BTW…The East Angel’s Football team is 4-1 with a game tomorrow night against Boulder… see…you still have that Angel connection… are you coming out this way anytime soon? Later gator vs
pat gavin More than 1 year ago
TBTA Brilliant Post! Injuries on the track are another part of the puzzle that is way under rated. We don't know lots of what goes on with these horses and trainers LIE....even to their owners. One of the reasons that I try to look at intent of the human connections in the paddock as well. Here in MD some guys give away clues, a laid back Kieron Magee usually means "not today", but a keyed up, nervous Magee means "we are going to run well" . Good thing I asked lots of questions to my father....a member of the "Spooks" who were a big part of the Cold War. Body language of horses is important. Body language of the humans is as well.
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
I just thought of another factor in all this chatter about track surfaces. Most humans, outside a few who believe in exhausting research, don't know the differences in all the polys.They also think all dirt is created equal and endowed with certain qualities. They know when it is dry or wet. The tote board says sloppy, good or muddy. Through all this, the unsophisticated crowds still select favorites to win around one-third of all races. Why is this? It's called wisdom of the crowd and trumps other myths, lies and systems of handicapping based on limited data. So follow the crowd or create your own herd. Ray