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
Sinatra More than 1 year ago
Annie My main point of posting a congratulation was "Yay," "Yea", and "Yeah." to Dick W. The rest was just puff, talking loud and saying nothing. I do believe that you deserve a year subscription to the DRF, not so much for the PP's but to have access to DRF+ to read the articles for free. No sarcasm intended about anyone else on the board. Turf Ruler
Biggar W More than 1 year ago
Reading the blog has become more exciting with the return of Mike A, DavidM9999, Benard and others. David's descriptions of past experiences and ideas often parallel my own, although I'm not nearly as adept at stating them. I call for a bit less self deprecation as no-one believes it and I suspect that includes you. Mike A, your entries get me to thinking about the many factors that I have ignored to my detriment. Benard. I enjoy your perspective on racing and life.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
David, Mongolian Saturday was actually 3w.. Ready For Rye wasn't glued to the paint, he was a path or so out. It's semantics...it depends on just how good ahorse is as opposed to the others......being 3w helped him to continue on.....he just held on. Had he been inside I doubt he hits the board. That race killed me...Steve and I bet MS ATB but I only had one exacta to Green Mask.....he came up a 1/2 short of second. I thought all things being equal GM would get the better trip, I was mistaken. I like horses that have tactical speed.....I'm not a fan of one paced closers especially if they are outside. Rafael Hernandez gave John Velasquez a rising lesson last week when he was on a horse coming out of the 11 Shake Down Baby. Velasquez was on the Pletcher favorite Castor he was in the 9 slot. Velasquez chose to get position midpack and one time it home, Hernandez kept SDB a bit wide but had a full head of steam by the 3/16ths. He came wide around the turn...boxing Castor in, Velasquez had to wait for him to get by then rouse castor....too late.....SDB was in front and under a full head of steam....Castor cut into the lead late but it was too late. Hernandez is a master out there....and your faith paid off at 15-1......The problem with late closers or jocks who wait till the straighten away is for every length back you have to run a fifth faster just to catch up.....on a course that has been less than firm a tough thing to do, unless that jock has you moving around the turn.....tactical speed and pounce I always like more....horses who can gain round around the turn...that's the ticket.....Mike A
Rodney . More than 1 year ago
Annie....thanks for the mention, I watched him live..a win is a win ! Bernard...welcome back , excellent posts too...you're on fire mate. Dick W...congrats on your HG win...nice one !
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Bernard, waiting on the later races so I have a moment......My records are not as extensive as you may think......most are observations made by watching many races than applying what I've found out about horses and courses according to those observations. What I have learned and why I always used to say " playing by known handicapping "truths" every race regardless of what reality is showing you will get you beat more often than not"....notice the quotation within the quotation......Truth only applies to what is happening in the here and now, not what happened last year or even last week. Courses do not always play the same....Gulfstream can be entirely different inside to out depending on the moisture content of the surface. I try to stay in the realm of when I have the best chance of winning at good odds...like Md claimers with lightly raced horses. In today's third I played a second out horse......in a md claimer ar 7.5f's.....Breeding was ok for turf, but that's according to me not mr. tomlinsen. The horse ran once and ran even, the thing I liked was he was 5w and still didn't loose ground around the turn, and then only a length or so down the lane. It was a 5f turf sprint. The temp rail was at 36ft...the course was an absolute bog...this horse had a license to back up around the turn being 5w and lose much more ground coming home but she didn't. The trainer is very good, he switched to his go to rider Edgar Zayas....the horse had 4 works coming back......at 25-1 against horses who have been maidens too long? You bet I bet her.....and she won. It's all about probability....people get too caught up in lengths behind without looking at how the horse actually ran...especially a first time starter who is generally clueless. If a horse breaks back 8 but maintains their position, not lose much ground around the turn that is a horse to watch......It's what horses are capable of given a certain situation.....anyway....Steve is the master at graphs and charts...once I see them I commit them to memory...and apply them when the situation calls for it.....no extensive records, just good old horse sense. Oh and I also enjoy the races it's not all about the money, but it is easier when you win. French courses are tighter (for the most part) than courses in England....horses who excel on those tighter courses usually run well out west...they are more used to the tight turns. Stv and I downloaded all the major course configurations in France and England to get a better Idea of how each was different and which horses coming over might have an advantage...Taken with horses who had drawn outside....it worked out well enough....English courses tend to have bigger sweeping turns, like the east coast tracks...especially Woodbine...English and Irish horses who are more used to that type of course tend to do better there than the tighter tracks out west. Of course this isn't a given.....both Found and Golden Horn had won at Longchamp....that came down to post and odds at 6-1 Found was the way to go......Mike A As
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rodney, Congratulations on BATTERY'S win today. Looks like he was fully charged. :) He only paid $3.00, but it was a "sure thing". :) The exacta would have been a good hunch bet: Battery/All Up in Lights. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, Oh no! I just read that your GIFT BOX will not run in the Risen Star because he missed a work. Of course, I couldn't read the rest of the article to find out why. :( Hope its not too much of a setback. You were right to be concerned that you had not seen his pretty gray face on the worktab since 1/20. Haven't heard anything on CHALKY'S Knights Key, but being taken off the Vegas future wagers is probably not a good sign. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good luck to RODNEY and his Battery today at GP!!!! Let's get another MKB winner. At 6-5, I think there is a good chance. :) As Dan prefers a Sat. race for the HG, I requested the John B. Campbell H. at Laurel Park on Sat. Eleven horses and supposed to be sunny. Good luck all!!! Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Turf Ruler, I must respectfully correct you. Others have shown their generosity to me in the past, including if memory serves me, Dick W. There are many very kind and generous people here on Formblog, and so many that share knowledge with us all. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Professor Molesap, Well see, that was so you would not be tempted to make a future wager on him. :) I doubt FLEXIBILITY will win the Derby. He may have just had a bad day, but he never could beat MOHAYMEN, so it's just as well. However, 14 Formbloggers and a few partners did make the list: MIKE O - Mohaymen 8-1 JIM LEHMAN - Nyquist 12-1 LEFTYGOLFER - Mor Spirit 15-1 ALAN - Airoforce 20-1 RON Z (AOS) - Exaggerator 20-1 KNM (AOS) - Greenpointcrusader 20-1 ALFREDO - Brody's Cause 30-1 SR VEGAS - Gift Box 30-1 TURF RULER - Shagaf 30-1 RANDO - Zulu 30-1 MICHEL DE BOTTON - Cocked and Loaded 50-1 DICK W - Gettysburg 50-1 WHACKYMACKY - Gun Runner 50-1 ANDERSON - Mo Tom 50-1 Annie