01/12/2017 3:45PM

Game Gormley back on track

Last Saturday's Grade 3 Sham Stakes offered $60,000 and 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. 
If also gave GORMLEY a chance to redeem himself after a disappointing performance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. 
After emerging victorious following a stirring stretch-long duel with the promising AMERICAN ANTHEM, Gormley has once again stamped himself as one of the leading lights of the 3-year-old division. 
Facing a sloppy track for the first time in his career, Gormley broke nicely under (who else?) Victor Espinoza and settled right off American Anthem's flank through splits of 22.54 and 45.46. Entering the final turn, Espinoza asked his mount for a little run and they collared American Anthem after six furlongs in 1:10.13. Gormley stuck a head in front turning into the lane, but American Anthem was very game down on the rail. The two slugged it out down the stretch with Gormley always moving slightly better. Gormley prevailed by a short head in 1:35.89 for the mile and received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. He spotted five pounds to the runner-up. 
Espinoza was obviously pleased with the result. "I expected him to run the way he ran today," said California Chrome's regular pilot. "I know he’s still improving but I think he only gets better and better. When he’s feeling good, he breaks quickly and already running. In the Breeders’ Cup he broke slow but today he came into the race in really good shape and got into it right away.”
Gormley's connections know a thing or two about winning big races. The owner-trainer combination of Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss and John Shirreffs campaigned the great Zenyatta and won the Kentucky Derby with the plucky Giacomo. Espinoza has won the Derby three times, once with a nice little horse named American Pharoah, who swept through the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic in 2015. 
A $150,000 RNA as a Keeneland September yearling, Gormley is by Malibu Moon (sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb) out of the stakes-winning turf performer Race to Urga (by Bernstein). There are some stong class, turf and distance names in the female family, including that of his fourth dam, Estrapade, voted champion grass mare of 1986. 
Shirreffs isn't exactly known for having his 2-year-olds cranked up and ready to show strong speed, so one had to sit up and take notice when Gormley battled on the lead in his Del Mar debut on September 4. He ran 30 to 1 longshot Dr. Troutman into the ground before striding away to win by 4 1/4 lengths. 
The normally-conservative trainer showed a great amount of confidence in Gormley when trying the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes around two turns at Santa Anita for the colt's second lifetime start. Dismissed at 10 to 1, Gormley was hustled to the front under Espinoza and got clear when the expected pacesetter, Straight Fire, was impeded by a loose horse. Without that one to push the pace, Gormley relaxed kindly and always had enough left to beat back the challenge of odds-on favorite Klimt. 
Gormley looked strong in the FrontRunner, but how good was that race really? The main track at Santa Anita was kind to speed that day and Gormley got away easy when the other speed was hampered. It was easy to be somewhat skeptical.
Gormley was sent off third-choice as California's best hope in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but was compromised by a wide trip. True, he didn't offer a strong run, but he couldn't be faulted too much after racing four and five paths off the rail on the backstretch. It was easy to be somewhat skeptical of this poor performance. 
Thus, it was imperative for Gormley to answer some questions in the Sham. He did so in resounding style, albeit over a less-experienced rival over a wet track. It appears he'll target the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on February 7 for his next appearance. Another forward move makes him a top Kentucky Derby contender, if he's not there already. 
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
Also, Mike Beer, Matt Bernier and I will be on for free and fun handicapping analysis at 3pm ET on Saturday for DRF Live!. This week, we'll discuss Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Laurel, Oaklawn and Santa Anita.. You can find us at live.drf.com.
You can check me out on Twitter at DRF_Dan Illman
Once again, Laura has been kind enough to plan our annual FormBlogger's convention! Here are the details. 
The 6th (or is it 7th) annual Formblogger’s Convention is slated for March 10 – 12 at Gulfstream Park.  
Special room rates at the Hampton Inn will be available & I offer shuttle service to/from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, which is roughly a 20 min. drive. Sometimes 15 min. if I run the red lights.  I haven’t lost anyone or had an accident…yet.
As usual, our generous benefactor Mike Nyman will comp us a private suite overlooking the track. As usual, there will be laughter, serious discussions, catching up with old friends, not so old friends, and newcomers.  
Bets will be made, won and lost. Indecision, high fives, tears,whining and red boarding may be a part of the process. As usual, the betting machine will malfunction at least once.
As usual, our Fearless Leader Dan Who will join us and quietly cash in on a huge bet. He will also receive risqué blue undergarments suitable for either male or female. 
As usual, a race will be named in our honor & we’ll visit the paddock before the race and have a photo taken in the winner’s circle afterward. 
If you’d like to be a part of the mayhem, please contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com 
Updates will be posted as the date draws near.
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 1/4/17 to 1/10/17:
1. SILENT BIRD - 97 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 Mile - 6Jan17-7SA 
2. EIRIGH - 96 - OC 100k/NC -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 6Jan17-2TAM
3. MOE CANDY - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 8Jan17-7SA 
4. GORMLEY - 94 - Sham Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - 7Jan17-7SA 
4. OCEAN KNIGHT - 94 - OC 100k/N3X -N - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - 5Jan17-7AQU
6. PLATINUM PRINCE - 93 - OC 62k/C -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 5Jan17-9GP 
7. LIGHT IN PARIS (IRE) - 92 - OC 100k/NC -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 8Jan17-8TAM
7. TALE OF S'AVALL - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs - 7Jan17-7GP 9. HECKUVASHOT - 91 - Alw 40000N1X - 1 Mile - 8Jan17-9GP
9. QUICK AND SILVER - 91 - Alw 34413NC - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 8Jan17-7GG 
11. SPORTSCASTER - 90 - Clm 16000 - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 8Jan17-7GP 
12. BLUE TONE - 89 - San Gabriel Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 7Jan17-9SA 
12. BRONZE STAR - 89 - Alw 35574NC - 1 Mile (Tapeta) - 6Jan17-2GG 
12. GREAT MINDS - 89 - OC 40k/N2Y -N - 7 1/2 Furlongs - 7Jan17-8DED
12. MALAGACY - 89 - Md Sp Wt 38k - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 4Jan17-7GP 
12. TEXAS TWO STEP - 89 - Clm 32000(32-28) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 7Jan17-6SA 17. FIRESPIKE - 88 - Clm c-(17.5-15) - 1 1/16 Miles - Clm c-(17.5-15)
17. TIZ SARDONIC JOE - 88 - Alw 5000s - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 4Jan17-5TP 
17. UNIQUE BELLA - 88 - Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 8Jan17-8SA 
17. VILMA - 88 - Md 30000 - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - 6Jan17-1AQU
21. BRANDOTHEBARTENDER - 87 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 8Jan17-5SA 
21. MON MOUSSE - 87 - Clm 20000(20-18)N2X - 1 Mile (Tapeta) - 8Jan17-1GG
21. WATCH THIS CAT - 87 - Las Cienegas Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 7Jan17-3SA 
24. MONEY FLOWS - 86 - OC 80k/N3X - 1 Mile - 6Jan17-4FG 
24. PRETTY PERFECTION - 86 - OC 62k/C -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 4Jan17-6GP 
24. ROLIN WITH OLIN - 86 - Clm 20000 - 5 Furlongs - 7Jan17-5TAM
Silent Bird's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
Firespike was claimed for $17,500 by trainer Eduardo Rodriguez from Michael Maker.
Congrats to Dennis of Moline for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Let's go with Saturday's Fort Lauderdale Stakes from Gulfstream as this week's exercise.
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
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 SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR 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 identify who you are.
4. (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.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
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 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!


Copy of HG 1 7 17 Mucho Macho Man.xls48 KB
SILENT BIRD.pdf686.42 KB