06/17/2015 3:36PM

Flying under the radar


NOBLE BIRD, profiled in the May 6 edition of FormBlog (http://www.drf.com/blogs/4-year-olds-follow), continued his ascent in the older male division with a sharp victory over the salty LEA in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap last Saturday evening at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Mark Casse, Noble Bird was prominent throughout over the speed-friendly surface. The 4-year-old son of Birdstone was very eager leaving the gate, and he pulled jockey Shaun Bridgmohan hard going into the first turn. Once on the backstretch, Noble Bird settled down to track longshot pacesetter PAGANOL through legitimate fractions of 23.39 and 46.81.

Racing in the three path, Noble Bird attacked Paganol after six furlongs were completed in 1:10.93 and soon dispatched of that rival. Noble Bird coasted into the stretch, but had to dig deep to fend off Lea's final charge. Noble Bird crossed the wire a half-length better than Lea, finished the nine-furlongs in 1:47.94, and received a career-best 107 Beyer Speed Figure.

Assistant trainer Norman Casse, Mark Casse's son, was expecting a good effort from Noble Bird. "I’ve been around a lot of good horses and he’s been working about as good as I have seen a horse train – just week after week," Norman Casse told Churchill Downs publicity after the Stephen Foster. "Last summer we had him here before we went out to Del Mar and I told Dad back then that I thought that he was a very talented dirt horse. Things just didn’t happen that way and then he went to Oaklawn and he had to run on the dirt obviously. I just think that’s a testament to how gutsy this horse is. He’s trained extremely well and he wanted to win just as bad as we did. We’d probably have to look at the older horse races at Saratoga. I think he deserves to be in that discussion."

Lea was hardly disgraced in his first start since a third-place effort in the Dubai World Cup on March 28. He might have been compromised just a bit by the speed-favoring track, but tired hard as always. He's always a legitimate threat in these major races.

HOPPERTUNITY, winner of the Grade 1 Clark Handicap under the Twin Spires last fall, lacked a strong closing punch, but can be given another chance. It was his first race since early February and the speeds weren't coming back to him.

Noble Bird seems headed for a rematch with Lea in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. His good tactical speed makes him a player in that spot, and he could offer a hint of value with some major household names expected for the race.


Here are the WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 6/9/15 - 6/15/15:

1. NOBLE BIRD - 107 - Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 13Jun15-8CD
2. CHECKUPFROMZNECKUP - 103 - OC 30k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 12Jun15-3MTH
3. KNUCKLE CURVE - 102 - Md Sp Wt 73k - 6 Furlongs - 13Jun15-7BEL
3. TALCO (FR) - 102 - Shoemaker Mile (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 13Jun15-5SA
5. HOLLYWOOD ANGEL - 100 - Alw 46500N3L - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 13Jun15-8PRX
6. KING KREESA - 99 - Poker Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 13Jun15-5BEL
6. TOUCHOFSTARQUALITY - 99 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - 13Jun15-3BEL
8. BEHOLDER - 98 - Adoration Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 13Jun15-8SA
9. HOGY - 97 - OC 62k/C - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 12Jun15-4AP
9. STRYKER PHD - 97 - Budweiser Handicap - 1 Mile - 14Jun15-8EMD
11. POOL WINNER - 96 - OC 22k/N1X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 13Jun15-11MTH
11. SHORE RUNNER - 96 - OC c-62k/N2X - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - 10Jun15-5BEL
13. DEKALB COUNTY - 95 - Alw 50000s - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 11Jun15-7BEL
13. FREESTYLER - 95 - OC 50k/N3X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 13Jun15-3MTH
13. FRIVOLOUS - 95 - Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 13Jun15-7CD
13. NATIVE AMERICAN - 95 - Alw 40000NC - 6 Furlongs - 13Jun15-4CBY
17. CEMENT CLEMENT - 94 - Alw 12500s - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 13Jun15-7DEL
17. CLASS PRESIDENT - 94 - Alw 15000s - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 12Jun15-6LS
19. A M MILKY WAY - 93 - Alw 40000NC - 6 Furlongs - 13Jun15-8CBY
19. FASNACLOICH - 93 - Justakiss Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 10Jun15-5DEL
19. FORIN SEA - 93 - Alw 29200NC - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 14Jun15-8ALB
19. HEAD SOUTH - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 14Jun15-7SA
19. SYNCHRONOUS - 93 - Alw 29500C - 5 Furlongs - 13Jun15-5PEN
24. DIDN'T TAKE IT - 92 - Clm 20000 - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 15Jun15-4PRX
24. KILLIN ME SMALLS - 92 - Spangled Jimmy Handicap - 1 Mile - 13Jun15-7NP
24. VIGOROUS TITAN - 92 - Clm c-40000 - 6 Furlongs - 13Jun15-10CD
24. WATCH ME GO - 92 - OC 15k/C -N - 7 Furlongs - 11Jun15-8ALB

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

*SHORE RUNNER was claimed for $62,500 by trainer Joe Sharp from John Terranova II.

*VIGOROUS TITAN was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Bernard Flint from Chris Hartman.


In looking at Dan's beyer reports I didn't see
Lady Eli listed...does anyone know what she
got in her 5/31 race at Belmont?
Joe L.

LADY ELI received an 85 Beyer Speed Figure for her victory in the Wonder Again Stakes.


Steve T. sent in a FAQ on Trakus. It's posted at the bottom of this blog post.


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Remember to check out DRF LIVE's VIDEO handicapping coverage at live.drf.com. Matt Bernier and I will be on at 12:30 ET on Thursday and Friday for some weekend stakes previews. The action begins at 2pm ET. Please tune in if you get the chance.


Congrats to Professor Molesap  for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling tournament.

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

Let's go with Saturday's Grade 3 Obeah Stakes from Delaware for 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!




NOBLE BIRD.pdf652.47 KB
Trakus FAQ.pdf326.3 KB
Copy of HG Poker Stakes 6-13-15.xls207.74 KB
HGOBEAH.pdf196.09 KB
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Late Pick 4. Belmont 3,6 // 1,2,8 // 5,6,7,12 // 3,5 2 x 3 x 4 x 2 = $48 '/, 2 = $24 x 10 = $240 Good Luck WM Out !!!
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Uncle Steve 2 yos .. Now that is a post I can get my head around . Thank you . I still go to your 'maiden progression' article for a refresher. Now that I am playing with formulator (Thank you Dan Illman for HG) I can look into the sibling records to supplement my information. GP Race# 6 "and two In Summation babies, the 7 and the 10. " hmmm ? your initial thoughts gave us the #7 Rosebuds Tiger as a winner 13.60 :) Hope you had him in some way. SR Vegas
Harold Crenshaw More than 1 year ago
To give an example of the guy who I mentioned yesterday who claims to hit for huge profits. Through the first 4 races their have been a total of 27 horses that have run and he has on his selection sheet 17 of them.....and has had one on top(it paid 2.80) no horizontal has paid more than $20....and it sure would cost lots more than $20 to get to where his picks take you....remarkable.
Steven Thygersen More than 1 year ago
There was an interesting Race 1 at Belmont a couple of minutes ago that illustrates what we look for when we are fishing for longshots. It was a 5F race for two year olds, which are always an adventure and one of the places you can generally throw out the chalk, in this case the 9 a Bustin Stones at 2/1. Since it was a sprint we look for sprinter pedigrees from precocious sires. There were two that fit the bill - the 8 Crowd Control, a Zayat firster by Posse out of a D'Wildcat mare, and the 2 Young Anna Lee, another Posse out of a Flatter mare. Crowd Control went off at 17/1 and Young Anna Lee went off at 5/1. There was another compelling piece of evidence and that was the only sib of Crowd Control, a POTN named Tax Package, won his debut as a two year old at Saratoga at 5.5f on dirt. So there were three horses from sprint sires (one Bustin Stones, two Posses) and one came from a family that won first off at two. They came in 1-2-3, Crowd Control was first and paid $37, Young Anna Lee was second and Sea Pebble was third. The exacta paid $270 and the tri paid $825. You really have to look at the families of these first time two year olds, they will tend to follow the same pattern - those that win early tend to follow that pattern. It is not unusual to see 5 or 6 sibs that all won in their first or second race - and if you see one coming to the races for the first time and they are long odds? It is worth pulling the trigger. The one caveat is you don't want a first time starter on the rail, it always tends to be problematic. I prefer those on the outside, yes they will sometimes break out but they have a clearer path and in a 5f race that is a big plus. There is a 5f turf race at Gulf this afternoon (race 6) that i just glanced over but there are three in that race from win early sprint pedigrees and an 8/5 Wes Ward Kitten's Joy (who can win at 5F but they prefer longer) - they are the 1, a Put it Back out of a Concorde's Tune mare, and two In Summation babies, the 7 and the 10. I have not looked up any of the families but it is the kind of race worth a little research. The one I would take at first glance is the 10 Determined to Win (15/1). If you bet the race, run the traps and don't take my first glance as some kind of lock.
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
tbtapgh, Praying for your mom and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DavidM9999, You mentioned ACAPULCO as a possible for the Nunthorpe Stakes. It is a Group 1 sprint run over 5 furlongs at York in August. The race is open to 2 year olds and older. 2 year olds will carry 8 stone and 1 lb. 3 year olds will carry 9 stone and 9 lbs. 4 year olds and older will carry 9 stone and 11 lbs. 2 year olds rarely win the race (not too many try), but the weight differences are obviously enticing and ACAPULCO was particularly impressive at Royal Ascot. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Paul G More than 1 year ago
Fellow HG'ers, I think I may have won the HG Obeah...but.... I have not heard anything. What's up?? --Paul G
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Racing lost a big racing fan in Dick Van Patten. Seemed like TVG would have him on once a year. There is a large pot at BEL on tap for Pick 6 players. With the bad weather in NY last night I expect a ton of scratches. I cannot play due to conflicts but here are some comments from notable or non-notable workers to “round” out you handicapping if you look at such things as works. Good luck to everyone! Not a ton of noteworthy reports today. Race 5 – My Sweet Girl – B; B; B. Better than Rock Eagle in last 3 and Unbelievable Dream Path – B+; B. Good energy on gallop out, worked with talented La Madrina. Held own. Touch the Moon – B, worked with Rock Fall. Picked up late but within 1/2L at end of good one. Race 8 – La Madrina - B+, B+. Excellent work horse, good energy with Path. Horses with below average works on today’s card: Key to Bridge; Lady Bling; Downgoesfrazier, Autumn Squall and Ballerina’s Image. Another good Scat Daddy on grass is Acapulco. She is considering running versus older in Nunthorpe. Ward said the grass made all the difference with her. Not surprising. Ward quoted the weight allowance at 25 pounds for a 2 YO going versus older. That would be interesting for sure. Undrafted thinking about a go in Sprint Cup at Haydock in September. It was so nice to see the horse get up to full flight unimpeded and have enough ground to get there. Always seemed to need about another 1/32th in America at least when I bet him.
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
TBTA Thoughts are with you in regards to your Mother..... Whackymacky.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mike A-thanks for the response...perhaps "unconventional" was a poor choice of words. But the implication of your previous statement is that rather than use the tired theories that the rest of the handicapping world applies...you are doing something different...and while I don't expect you to reveal your secrets...I'm unclear as to what factors outside things like breeding/pace/works ( you know the rest...) you are applying. for example...obviously bettors dismissed Snake Oil Charlie Sat at Bel. (congrats on your score!) I didn't play the race and know nothing of the particulars, but when I saw the result...I looked in the DRF and certainly saw some turf breeding...Finlandia was a very fine horse on grass in the early part of this decade...so what thing outside handicapping's tired theories led you to make your choice? while the price was would be much too low for you, I did catch a winner in the 2nd race at MTM on Sat....Prague....small field...horse drew the rail in a race in which he would be the lone speed...he went off the 5th of 7 choices in the field...and won at almost 6-1...( a price I realize that is far below your threshold...but the issue for this discussion isn't price) what led me to make that wager? the horse looked like the only pace in the race...obviously those same factors were staring the other bettors in the face-so why wasn't that horse hammered down to 4-5? Who knows...but that tired theory helped me cash a ticket... I think the point that I'm making is that none of us (allow me to speak for the rest of the FB) is wagering by some set of hard and fast rules that we apply across the board every time...If Prague was the lone speed but other factors pointed me elsewhere...I wouldn't say to myself..."Dan-You have to bet the lone speed....no more debate." Race by race, case by case... thanks for sharing your insights! Dan (brutus)