04/04/2014 4:14PM

Fishing for Opinions


I'm looking for a few opinions on the following horses entered in graded stakes races on Saturday.

*Gazelle Stakes - #2 GOT LUCKY (3-1 ML)

SWEET REASON (8-5 ML), one of the top juvenile fillies of 2013, returned to the winner's circle in her seasonal debut last month. She received a paltry 58 Beyer for that race, but there was basically no way she could have gotten a fast final time after chasing glacial fractions of 24.52 and 51.01. I'd rate her more off her 2-year-old form than that race, but I do have concerns about her ability at this nine-furlong distance and there isn't a great deal of pace for her to attack. Perhaps she'll prove an underlay.
MY MISS SOPHIA (9-5 ML) looms the lone speed and should be tough to catch for Pletcher. This will be her first start around two turns, however, and her pedigree seems geared more to middle-distances than longer routes. I have a feeling she's the horse to beat.
Got Lucky, the "other" Pletcher, really interests me as she shouldn't have any problem with the distance. She's by A.P. Indy and was just beaten a neck despite trouble over this track and trip last year in the Grade 2 Demoiselle. You can draw a line through her last race as she had the misfortune to catch the freakishly-sharp Untapable in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes. Got Lucky may need pace help, but she should be grinding it out in the stretch.

*Fantasy Stakes - #6 PLEASE EXPLAIN (7-2 ML)

I'm not a big fan of the morning line favorite, STOPCHARGINGMARIA (2-1 ML). Although she won a pair of graded races in New York last year, one over Got Lucky, she just didn't knock my socks off. She may have been compromised by chasing a gate-to-wire winner over a speed-favoring track in her seasonal debut at Gulfstream, but didn't do much running and was never going to threaten the winner.
SUGAR SHOCK (7-2 ML) looks like the filly to beat as she was on her way to victory in the Honeybee Stakes on March 8 before shying out badly in midstretch. Channing Hill will likely put Sugar Shock on the lead and they'll have her to run down if they can.
EUPHROSYNE (5-1 ML) was put up in the Honeybee after being impeded by Sugar Shock, but I don't think she was going to get close if not for that incident. Perhaps she'll be placed more forwardly this time around.
If the pace is quicker, it could set up nicely for Please Explain, who saved all the ground at the rear of the field in the Honeybee and had to alter course a couple of times when Sugar Shock started weaving all over the track. Please Explain is trained by an exceptional horseman in Tom Proctor and will be running hard late.

The Wood Memorial (our HandiGambling race) and the Santa Anita Derby are the big races on tap for this weekend. I don't have many clever things to say about either race. SOCIAL INCLUSION (2-1 ML) is the horse to beat in the Wood, but I have a feeling he won't have an easy time of it breaking from the far outside post with other speeds gunning for his hide. He has a world of talent, and it wouldn't surprise me if he overcomes all of the adversity, but his price won't be appealing.
I picked SAMRAAT (7-2 ML), although I don't love his price potential. I do like that he has learned to rate and he wasn't all-out in the stretch when beating UNCLE SIGH (5-1 ML) and In Trouble in the Gotham. Maybe he'll get the right trip and pace scenario. NOBLE MOON (12-1 ML) is a nice horse that has been plagued by foot issues and will race with a bar shoe on. Maybe WICKED STRONG (15-1 ML) and HARPOON (8-1 ML) are the two closers you're supposed to make money with. It's a fun race, but not one that really fascinates me.

As for the Santa Anita Derby, CALIFORNIA CHROME (6-5 ML) was tremendous in the San Felipe and could be the main speed. He did go gate-to-wire over a speed-friendly track in a merry-go-round race last time, but he was so visually impressive that I can forgive him perhaps being aided by a bias and a candy scenario. I picked him to win, but can't bet him at a short price as he tries nine furlongs for the first time. Perhaps that's the one wall he won't smash through.

The legendary racing personality Harvey Pack's main rule of thumb is to "never bet a favorite doing something for the first time."  In Harvey's day, exotic bets were evil creatures that had no place in racing so I'll alter his saying to "never bet a favorite TO WIN doing something for the first time." Go ahead and use the most likely-winners in exotics.

I won't bet DIVERSY HARBOR (first-time nine furlongs, 9-5 ML) in the Providencia although I believe she's the most likely winner. I'll watch and hope she's as good as I think she is. Nor will I bet one red cent on TESTA ROSSI (first-time synthetic, 3-1 ML) at an underlaid price in the Grade 1 Ashland although I don't have any doubts that she's the best horse on her day and expect her to give another winning effort. 

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.


*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.




How can thoroughbreds such as Magoo, Happy Humor, Via Verde, Canjun Gent, Streakin' Mohican, Safe Trip, Loves Bonus, Nice Case, and Ribald all qualify to run in Quarter Horse Races?...
Sinatra Jeter

Those horses compete in 870-yard dashes for mixed breeds. You'll get both throughbreds and quarter horses in those events.


The weekend handicapping previews should be available in the video player on the homepage soon.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to DavidM9999 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 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct for this week's HandiGambling event.


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 "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card 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!




Best of luck to all.

HGWOOD.pdf168.54 KB
Copy of Formblog LA Derby 3-29-14.xls71.5 KB
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Van Savant & Bernard - The only thing I know about soccer is I don't like it :) Bernard you got 20-1 on Secret Circle in a two horse race :) Extremely good fortune indeed ! Okiesharp - Saturday 2nd Aq. DickW - I'm in the bottom 5% physically for my age bracket . RonZ - my new dream is to make the US Olympic curling team . It turns out I like curling... it beats hell out of soccer . Unathletic as I've always been I have always had a natural talent for throwing rocks :) I'm thinking of hiring KNM as my personal trainer to get me ready for the trials . JJ
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Vicstu - 1:48 for 9f ... sorry for the confusion . Of course any 10000 claimer can go 48 for a half on any track. Brad Free :) hehehe . Brad Free wouldn't know the difference between a 1 and a 101 . If Chrome goes off 1-20 he'll be on him :) Really I don't usually pick on the drf handicappers(they have a hard job) but Free has been working my neck of the woods for 3 decades . He started at the Greensheet / Daily News just like Privman . They're both well dressed bums . If they start talking horse racing I'd cover my ears if I was you :) Free said the track was fast ? What a revelation ! Is that DRF Plus information ? :) The track is always fast & the turf is always firm. About 20% of SA derbies go less than 1:48 . Most of the horses that have done it are HOFers or otherwise household names. Most of them have performed well on the TC trail . That's just plain raw facts.... no speculation about imaginary fast or slow tracks .( repeating for maximum effect ... The Track Is Always Fast !! ) Do yourself a favor and go back to the Game on Dude thread . Take a look at the list of SA Derby horses . You'll get the idea that those horses made the track fast not the other way around. I'm not pushing an opinion . I'm not touting Chrome . I'm just laying down some raw facts . Facts that you won't read from the experts at DRF Plus because they are busy inventing imaginary biases and concrete super highways to explain away exceptional performances as something other than just that. Big Brown was a 5. Fives are 2 for 36 in the Derby since '80 . Pleasant Colony was a 5 . You could do worse than a 5 in the Derby . You could be on a 13 . Like Verrazano :) I didn't know people were questioning Big Brown's distance capabilities ? The way I remember it he already won at 9f on turf & dirt . Henny Hughes (Beholder) was an acknowledgment of what you were saying . Gulch was 1 for 14 or something like that beyond 8f . I could have said Gulch . Pat Gavin - I have no doubt they do better than NYRA . Like I said , the last time I checked NYRA was more than double every other venue except KY . They were still far worse than KY . That kind of number can fluctuate quite a bit ,but I've never checked it when NY wasn't leading the pack ... The little man was telling me what I was seeing was not normal and he was right :) I saw Ben's race the same way you did ,but it's not unusual for several people to see the same thing differently. Sir Bernard - The 2nd . I'm glad those blokes gave you the dough back . I wasn't sure how that would work for you. Hang in there . Things will work out . Best Regards JJ
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Bernard; I understand. I wondered if my story would confound you given that you are dealing with other more important issues. But I suppose that it was really for JJ, as he enjoys these types of thought experiments. Plus, I could just see him chuckling as he pondered the dilemma that Fulbert had created for his blokes... You sir, are a good sport, and a good soul. Later gator vs
Okiesharp More than 1 year ago
JJ Were you referring to the 2nd race at AQ on the 4th that you explained to Hot 'N' Nasty??? Okiesharp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Van Savant, I regret to say that the nuances of your "soccer" story escape me. Blame it on my tired brain. I am sure it will come to me later. However, your final paragraph is much clearer. You are much too kind. Thank you. I am not sure if I have said it before, we can't choose our families. You are absolutely correct, it is luck of the draw. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
pat gavin More than 1 year ago
Thinking about dipping my toe into the pay tournament frenzy for a seat into the NHC. I have won a few free handicapping tournaments that cost ZERO to get in, but this would be a first for me. Pimlico has an interesting two day affair in late April. The first day a live bankroll of 200(in addition to the 200 fee) is parlayed into one of 16 spots for the Sunday final. First day races are full cards from GP, Tampa, Woodbine, Aqueduct, Pimlico and 1st five from Santa Anita. If you finish in top sixteen you move on to Sunday in a bracket format (1 vs 16) On PIMLICO ONLY on Sunday. 4 rounds to determine a winner (races 1 and 2 are the first rounds). No Multi-Race other than the Double. I might have to open up my wallet and go for it. I think that I would do well on the second day....... not so confident about Day 1. We will check it out and seek advice from some of the bums( I mean fine upstanding cultured individuals) who populate the hallowed halls of Pimlico's slanted grandstand. Other news from MD.... the trainer of Broad Brush and Concern died this past weekend. Dickie Small was a HUGE dude and a Green Beret. Back when I was a young guy it always puzzled by his extensive use of female jockeys. Durkin's call of Concern's run in the BC Classic was one of the best and gave me a NICE winner. Small trained like Shug as his horses rarely had speed. He did it the right way.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
CMathieu66 Just curious. What exactly is the criteria for being in the top 5% physically in your age bracket ? And is your bracket all 52 year olds, 50 to 55, 50 to 60 or what ? Dick W
sillysusan sillysusan More than 1 year ago
Pat Gavin, I agree that Social Inclusion looked washy and uncomfortable on track. I toyed with the idea of betting him under, but managed to restrain myself. knm
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Partner/Ron Z You don't realize how young 65 is ! :-) CMathieu66 You left out the most important one... 'This is not my beautiful wife !' :-) Jeanne Well it's the Cats vs the Dogs (Huskies) tonight. I guess we know who Keith is rooting for. I'm kind of pulling for the Cats but for Keith's sake I would not be disappointed if the Dogs take it. Dick W
Sonny Crockett More than 1 year ago
Pat Gavin "Later in the card Motion had two that took tons of dough, had the look of losers and ran like it. I am not overplaying this, his MD based(Fair Hill in the winter)string have not looked good" FWIW--I agree with you on the Motion horses off layoffs in the Dahlia--less than impressive pre-race in the PIM paddock.. sonny