02/03/2016 5:21PM

General a Rod back in form?


GENERAL A ROD, second in the 2014 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby that spring, ran off and hid from an okay group of optional claiming types last week at Gulfstream Park.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, General a Rod settled into a tracking position under John Velazquez as stakes-winner FLASHY JEWEL shook loose through ambitious fractions of 23.20, 45.59 and 1:09.77. General a Rod was always moving comfortably and he blasted past the pacesetter midway on the far turn. Velazquez kept General a Rod, the 11 to 10 favorite in the five-horse field, to his task in the stretch and the pair splashed away to score by 7 1/2 lengths over Grade 3 winner MIDNIGHT CELLO. General a Rod stopped the clock in 1:41.23, a final time good enough for a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure. HESINFRONT and Grade 2 winner NORUMBEGA couldn't make a dent. Flashy Jewel faded to last.

“I just wanted to make sure he was in a nice place going into the first turn and he took it, and it was pretty easy after that,” Velazquez told track publicity after the race. “It seems like he’s getting back to his form and he showed up really good today.”

Bred by Hare Forest Farm, General a Rod was foaled in Kentucky on February 26, 2011. His sire, Roman Ruler, grabbed the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at nine furlongs in 2005. Among Roman Ruler's top progeny are Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, millionaire Rule and Grade 1 winners Artemis Agrotera and Homeboykris.

General a Rod's dam, synthetic sprint winner Dynamite Eyes (by Dynaformer), is a half-sister to Grade 3 stakes-placed dirt router Angel On Watch.

General a Rod sold twice as a yearling in 2012. He went for $100,000 in July before being hammered down to $72,000 in October. 

Originally trained by Michael Maker, General a Rod won first out at two sprinting over the Beard Course at Keeneland. In his 3-year-old debut, the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day, General a Rod prompted the pace over a speed-friendly surface to post a head victory over Wildcat Red. Their mini-rivalry continued in the Fountain of Youth. This time, it was Wildcat Red to notch the photo by a head.

General a Rod ran well to be third in the Florida Derby behind Constitution and Wildcat Red and then was purchased by Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing. General a Rod competed in all three Triple Crown events with his best finish a fourth-place try in the Preakness behind California Chrome. He was given plenty of time after the Belmont, came home fourth in his 4-year-old debut and was then transferred to Pletcher's shed row.

He popped a giant number in his debut for Pletcher, dominating the $60,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs with a 104 Beyer. General a Rod then ran fifth in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic before a disappointing effort in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at 10 furlongs on the turf.

General a Rod was reportedly body sore following that race and didn't start again for six and one-half months. He didn't do much running in his reappearance behind stablemate Itsaknockout on New Year's Eve, but Pletcher added blinkers once again for his big win last week.

Perhaps it was merely a mirage inspired by a wet racetrack and the fact that seemingly ALL of the barn's runners overperform at Gulfstream, If you believe that the multiple stakes-winner is simply back to his best, however, then you might want to throw General a Rod onto your watch list for future blacktype engagements at middle distances on dirt.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 1/26/16 - 2/1/16:

1. GENERAL A ROD - 105 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 28Jan16-4GP
2. CANDIP - 103 - OC 100k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 27Jan16-4GP
2. DA BIG HOSS - 103 - John B. Connally Stakes (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 30Jan16-8HOU
4. WHAT A VIEW - 101 - California Cup Turf Classic - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 30Jan16-9SA
5. IVAN FALLUNOVALOT - 99 - King Cotton Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 30Jan16-8OP
6. SASSICAIA - 98 - Toboggan Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 30Jan16-9AQU
7. FORTUITOUS PATH - 97 - Alw 67000N1X - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 30Jan16-3AQU
8. SUNDAY RULES - 96 - California Cup Sprint - 6 Furlongs - 30Jan16-6SA
9. AFRICAN FIGHTER - 95 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 31Jan16-8LRL
9. DEFER HEAVEN - 95 - OC10k/SAL10k - 7 Furlongs -31Jan16-3GP
9. DONTBETWITHBRUNO - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 30Jan16-8AQU
9. INDYCOTT - 95 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 29Jan16-3AQU
9. MOHAYMEN - 95 - Holy Bull Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 30Jan16-11GP
14. AWESOME BANNER - 94 - Swale Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 30Jan16-4GP
14. NOTACATBUTALLAMA - 94 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 30Jan16-8GP
14. OUTLASH - 94 - Alw 38000N1X - 1 Mile - 31Jan16-9GP
17. FOREVER UNBRIDLED - 93 - Houston Ladies Classic (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 30Jan16-9HOU
17. YOCKEY'S WARRIOR - 93 - 6 Furlongs - 30Jan16-9OP
19. MALIBU SUNSET - 92 - Md Sp Wt 40k - 6 Furlongs - 31Jan16-5FG
19. VELVET MESQUITE - 92 - Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 30Jan16-7SA
21. CATHRYN SOPHIA - 91 - Forward Gal Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 30Jan16-3GP
21. DRAXHALL WOODS - 91 - Clm c-32000 - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 31Jan16-7AQU
21. GENEROUS KITTEN - 91 - OC 35k/N1X -N - 1 7/16 Miles (Turf) - 31Jan16-10GP
21. STORM COMIN THRU - 91 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - 31Jan16-8SA
21. TESTOSTERSTONE - 91 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - 31Jan16-8AQU
21. TIGER BLOOD - 91 - Md Sp Wt 22k - 6 Furlongs - 30Jan16-8TAM

*GENERAL A ROD's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*DRAXHALL WOODS was claimed for $32,000 by trainer Jeremiah Englehart from Michael Pino.


May I please have the PP's of these Oscar Barrera success stories?

Chiming Jet
Teriyaki Stake
Shifty Sheik


Their lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

I'll be on with Matt Bernier and Mike Beer for free informative and fun live handicapping analysis for Gulfstream and Santa Anita beginning at 3pm ET on live.drf.com.


Here's a message from Laura regarding our 2016 FormBlog Convention at Gulfstream Park:

Last Chance for Hotel Reservations!! 
The Formblog/ThoroFan Convention is on February 19 - 21, less than a month away!  If you want to attend, please contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com

As usual, our generous benefactor Mike Nyman is giving us a suite complete with temperamental betting machine.  There will be a race named for our group with photo ops in the paddock and winners circle.  Laura will pick up/drop off at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport if you don't want to rent a car.  So far, nobody has been killed or injured during the drive.  Can't decide if you want to attend?  Ask other formbloggers what a great time they had! Most are coming back for more!


Congrats to Professor Molesap for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.

We'll go with Saturday's Donn Handicap for this week's exercise.


Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

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.

**  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!




GENERAL A ROD.pdf721.68 KB
OSCAR.pdf621.45 KB
Copy of HG 1 30 16 John B Connelly Sam Houston.xls16.27 KB
HGDONN.pdf168.36 KB