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I had the pleasure and honor to meet some posters today at Keeneland. Joey Adams is an excellent public handicapper, and he hosts his own radio program here in Kentucky. I've been privileged to appear on his show in the past, and it was great to meet him in person before the first race. He had several good opinions on the card, and gave me one of his standouts for later that day.
neverbend is a true racing fan. He is extremely passionate about the game, and is very, very knowledgeable. I had a great time talking with him about the Derby, and hearing his thoughts on this year's crop of three-year-olds.
It was marvelous to meet such gentlemen, and they give FormBloggers a great name.
Another overcast day here at Keeneland. Good news for my now-peeling sunburn, but these rickety old bones can't take the chill. Another hot cup of Java awaited me at the track before the first race, and I plopped down next to the lone replay machine to take some trip notes.
Today was "Keeneland Salutes the Military Day" at the old track, and the Army Band from Ft. Knox serenaded the racing fans with some patriotic favorites. Then, waves upon waves of soldiers marched in a mini-parade through the appreciative, applauding crowd. Over 1,000 troops traveled by bus to Keeneland, and Windstream Communications hosted a phone bank so the soldiers could call loved ones. The troops stayed to watch the races, a welcome respite from basic training to be sure.
For me, today's day of racing was the polar opposite of yesterday. On Saturday, my handicapping was good, and my betting was terrible. Today, my handicapping was terrible, and my betting wasn't bad (in that I didn't bet and lose much). Let's take a look at the card:
Race 1: A rather uninspiring $30,000 claimer with a field of only seven. I tried to make a case for She's No Bull as she dropped in for a tag for the first time, was adding Lasix, and looked like one of the speeds. She was 5-2, however, and I decided to pass. She went to the front, and was rated beautifully by Julien Leparoux, but couldn't hold off the late surge of Cactus Conie. The winner has now taken four of her last five for trainer Roger Anderson, and was claimed by Tom Amoss.
Race 2: The start of the Early Pick Four began with a $10,000 starter allowance, and Princess Composer, the winner of the recent Fairway Fun stakes at Turfway, looked tough despite having to turn back two and a half furlongs. I wanted to play the Pick Four, but the sequence looked tough with claimers (not my bag) in the third and fifth, and a very tough maiden special weight sandwiched in between. I have no problems going deep if there are one or two favorites that look very beatable, but Princess Composer looked tough, and I didn't love anybody in the other races. I passed. Princess Composer made a sharp, wide mid move on the turn, but couldn't get to gate-to-wire winner Game N Laughin'. The Fair Grounds invader was ridden by James Graham, and this guy doesn't get enough press. You can tell he's enjoying himself immensely out there, and he always seems to have a wide grin on his face. Graham would make a nice ambassador for the game if given the chance by the marketing gurus.
Race 3: A $16,000 claimer, and I was intrigued a bit by Moo Man, a gelding that had gone to post favored in his last six races. He hit the board in all of those starts, and was being dismissed at 10-1 in this spot. I played a small win bet on his nose, but he hopped in the air at the start, rushed into contention on the rail, and finished evenly for fourth while drifting out in the stretch. Favored Exhort halved in price for Oxbow Racing and trainer Stephanie Preston, and he went wire-to-window. He was also claimed by Christopher Bindner.
Race 4: This competitive maiden special weight had a little of everything. Crimson Hope was a $200,000 yearling purchase by Forestry. Lacy's Luck was a Touch Gold filly with good works. Casero attracted the services of Garrett Gomez. Chit Chat Cat was the buzz horse for Ken McPeek, and she took tons of early money. Winning Turn, a Tiznow filly for Eric Coatrieux, took steady cash throughout the betting, and Antepova was making her second start of the year for Pletchazquez.
I took a small flier on Crimson Hope at 10-1, and she raced evenly for fifth along the rail. Instead, it was Horticulture and Graham to pull off the 64-1 shocker.
Race 5: Joey told me that Iosilver was a standout in the fifth, and I hope it was his money that knocked the gray gelding down to 2-1 in the last couple of minutes. The winner of the Schaefer Mile at Hoosier in 2005, Iosilver seemed like the lone speed, and I put a couple of bucks on him to win, and keyed him on top of trifectas. Iosilver went right to the top as expected under Robby Albarado, and really wasn't threatened. Middleweight finished well for second, but alas, I didn't have Sir Rabbit to round out the trifecta. Basically broke even here.
Race 6: Nice to see Giant Chieftan in the paddock. He cost $950,000 as a yearling, and looked like a sure winner in his career debut at Saratoga only to duck out to meet the fans in midstretch. He was so nutty that trainer Stanley Hough had to geld him, and that can't be easy when you're dealing with a $950,000 horse, and a potential stallion prospect. I didn't like the coupled entry of Past the Point, and Teide so I took a small stab in the Pick Four with the returning Sam P. Joey had cautioned me that this Pletchazquez was a sucker horse, and he couldn't have been more right. Sam P. ran terribly. At least the entry didn't beat me. It was Dubious Miss (strange name for a gelding), a lightly-raced runner making his second start with Lasix.
Race 7: Storming Off looked like he was going to be very tough on paper, but he offered no win value at 3-2. I did key him in some late Pick Three's, and wasn't pleased when John Velazquez kept him several paths off the rail throughout. Despite the ground loss, Storming Off made the lead in upper stretch only to succumb to a ground-saving Go-Go and Prime Realestate.
Race 8: I took a shot against the favorites as Sir Whimsey was coming off a win in a terrible renewal of the Gulfstream Park Handicap, and Go Between annoys me with his tendency to change back to his wrong lead in midstretch. Right idea, wrong execution. I went with Mayan King, and he bombed at 13-1. The other 13-1 shot in the race, Sterwins, circled the field on the turn, and outfinished Go Between in the lane. Fair Grounds shippers were more than holding their own on this card.
Race 9: Was really hoping to see Turf War, a registered white thoroughbred, but she scratched early. Happy Point looked tough on paper, but was unbettable at even Steven so I was relegated to spectator status. Lucky for me as the well-bred firster, Tale of the West, ran off the screen for Pletcher and Velazquez.
All in all, it was a losing day, but not a bloodbath.
I couldn't have had a better time over the last few days, and I want to thank all of the FormBloggers for coming out and saying hello.
Morning flight leaves at 6am so it's time for an early night.
Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend as much as I did.
I have a comment about Randy Moss's comments about his pace numbers. First of all let me say if you players out there really believe this change of surface was for the benefit of horses,i don't think so. I WILL TELL YOU WHY I DISAGREE IF you look at all the changes in running styles of most horses you will see as Randy has that you are not at the mercy of owners and trainers who tell jockeys how they want that horse to run today, Changing his normal style at your expense and putting you in the guessing game.Any horse that goes to the front in so.ca will likely lose the race,just look at all the pp's and you will see very few make it wire to wire any more.Good luck trying to guess what your pick will do today.I know i try to guess what running style my horse will use today.This is not real horse racing anymore except for big races with big purses. Sal modesto ca
Johnney Z, I was able to get a note out to Stich. Thanks for pointing out that she was leaving. I hope DRF gave her a Rolex. Dan would probably something whether or not the DRF does that sort of thing. It is evident from your latest posts on this thread, and from the last thread, that you (like several others here, and for which I appreciate), have put a lot of time, thought, and effort in reaching some conclusions about the Derby. You and others have shared what you think, which to those of us who aren't able to do so, in the depth that you get into it, are the primary beneficiaries. From what I have read, as researched as they are, your views are as good as others and better than many. My advice to you, is this. Once you make up your mind, don't let anyone (with the exception of me, perhaps) change your convictions. There is always going to be some doubt out there about something, and a person can't cover all contingencies, unless he has unlimited resources. I am not assuming you don't have those resources. Fellow handicappers at times, have the tendency to throw in something that will make you doubt convictions you hold and that's OK. But hang on to what you believe based on the effort you've have made, in reaching your conclusions. I will reach my conclusions based on what I have read here, what research I have done, such as it is, and how I see the race. A bad feeling, from my experience at the race track, is to have lost, because I changed my position at the last minute, based on the doubt created by the opinion of someone else.
Steve T, That's a cool question on the best full siblings... Tough to argue with your pair... Another great pair would certainly be Devil's Bag and Saint Ballado, including both racing performance and stallion performance...
Here's an interesting story about Edgar Prado's decision to ride Adriano. http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=682954&category=SPORTS&newsdate=4/23/2008
Alan, Your data will show that the Polytrack @ Santa Anita in 2008 was quite a mystery (since there wasn't any!) ... wait you already changed it to cushion :) ------------------- I'll say your Beyer Par Levels for the SA cushion track will greatly resemble the SA dirt levels at the bottom rung(s) of the scale ... at the maiden ranks, the lower claiming ranks, and the lower allowance levels. At the higher levels, the G1, G2, G3, other stakes, and at the higher claiming/allowances levels, the Cushion Pars will be lower than the Dirt Pars. -------------------- This is do to the 'top down' approach of assigning the beyers. There is a much narrower margin in final times on a cushion track as compared to a dirt track. If they gave the top horse on a cushion sprint a 110, and then 'top downed' off of that with the 2.5 Beyer points lost for a length (approx), all the other horses end up with ridiculous Beyers when compared to their other starts. In order to adjust this, the Beyer folks have been 'chopping off the head of the winner' ... i.e. lowering the top score to make the others fall in line. Since the times are more bunched together on cushion, perhaps the more prudent method of 'adjustment' is to leave the winner alone, and to change the formula to something like 1 length behind the winner = minus 4 Beyer points (instead of 2.5). -------------------- Unrelated to this, but I just wanted to chime in that I agree with Blue Horseshoe 100% about the illegal drugs. I'm not sure who made this rule, but society almost teaches us that being a nark or a whistelblower is bad. Heck, just look at those two names of those... they sound bad!! It's almost as if being one of those is worse than being the criminal. Unbelievable. Some assemblance of rules should be established in any field (horse racing or anything), and if people violate those rules, they shouldn't be allowed to play. Yes, we'd have quite a few 'empty ballfields' so to speak, but we really need to punish the rule breakers harder and applaud those attemtping to keep a level playing field. Afi
C, You just distilled a key analytic regarding Big Brown, clearly he has no chance...LOL... I won't be betting on BB, but for a myriad of other reasons...
Dan, Colonel John has two full siblings, Mr. Hot Stuff (2006) and Kayce Ace (2007). Who in your estimation were the best two full siblings of all time? Intercontinental and Banks Hill?
Steve T., Can't let a fellow Blue Blogger down in a time of need. If you need 3rd Hdcp. scenario, here goes. I just got home from a 13 hr. day. Have put no thought into this, is all of the top of my head. But really other than major stakes or a big P/6 carry is how I make a bet. #1, Look at the conditions, distance, surface, 1x, Msw, Stakes, etc. #2, I want to see how many E, EP, P, S horses are running. I have made alot of money just with this step in finding a 10 horse race with 4 E-types and one good closer, or vice-versa. #3, I look at the win/loss record of each horse for the distance, the surface, not just the type of surface but, also the particular track. ie some horses love Churchill, some despise it. #4. Trainer stats, this one is huge IMO. Good trainers get the job done. Anywhere from proper works, to entering them where they have a chance to win. Also for the novice, they need to understand that good winning trainers get the best animals. #5 Current Form, along with trip comments. Is this there 3'rd in a form cycle, 2nd of a layoff, had a 5 wide trip in the last, bumped both sides at the start, etc. At this point, which in a 9/10 horse field should have spent about 10 minutes. I normally will have narrowed the field down to 2/3 winners and, maybe 4 that can hit the board. After that it depends on the race. Maybe workout times come into play, (I don't pay much if any attention to workout times with older horses). Watch Videos of previous races. I will add these thoughts, while not a spd. figure guy, I do look for consecutive imrpoving or declining figs. Also pay attention to late call spd. figs. in turf races and, any race that is 9F or greater. Also I am very aware of a drop in class, or back class. I have found many winners going back past the horses last 2/3 races. Also I am always on the lookout for a drop from maiden special weight to maiden claimer. That IMO is a big drop that is ignored by the general betting public, not always but, most of the time. That is all of my stupidity that I will make public. You have my email, if you would like further input let me know. BTW, I am impressed with what you have done so far! Also, still think you should try and market it in some form or manner. One other Hdcp thought, I am always prowling for an alw. race, that a horse finished 3rd. or 4th in his last behind one or two that won there next out. Laura, thanks for the compliment. Just wish you would post more often. Always enjoy your thought and, knowdledge. Still think you should be writing for DFR. Maybe after Lauren is gone they will realize they need another good female writer and hire you! Calvin, you along with several others that post have very good memory's. Yes Personal Ensign was and, is a favortive of mine. The last post I made about PE was several months ago. Gayego is one of those that may have inherited stamina from his sires side, more so than the dam's side. And know I still haven't found the Roman's article on that subject. I will in time! Gayego while running a very good race in the Ark Derby, had a slow come home time. To some that means nothing, to some, it means everthing. What I got from the OP race is he handled the syn. to dirt, ran very good times on a slow OP surface. Showed some heart and, guts in the stretch as Z Fortune pushed him. I have posted many times in the past that early speed is more prevalant in close generations, and feel stamina can come from 5/6 back. Is this the norm? NO! There is no perfect model in bloodlines. If there were every mare breed to a stud with a 6 figure stud fee would automatically produce a TC winner. While it is a far stretch, Gayego could have inherited good stamina genes. His sire, Gilded Time, a record setting 2 yr old sprinter's 2nd dam is Liquillo, out of Princequillo, who happened to be the damsire of Smomething Royal, who was the dam of Secretariat. Gilded Time's dam sire What a Pleasure is out of Bold Ruler out of Nasrullah! For those of you that don't know Bold Ruler is the SIRE of Secretariat the grand sire of Ruffian, and great grand sire of Seattle Slew. So if the sires side can influence stamina this one stands as good of a chance as it gets. On Gayego's dam side stamina is not very prevalant. His dams (Devils Lake) great grand sire was Arts And Letters, who won the 1969 Belmont. Also has ACK ACK, 1971 horse of the year 3 back, but he was primarily a sprinter. Strongest stamina on Gayego's dam's side is 4x4 to Ribot, which is not all that bad. While minor has to be mentioned. Gayego's 2nd dam Diamonds'n Dust's great grand sire is Bold Ruler. I am not trying to proclaim Gayego the winner of the 134th Derby. With the inconsistencies within the preps this year I am just trying to not leave any stone unturned. The stone that I have no idea how to turn is Pyro! I have tried to approach this TC with a not pay attention the the surface. His effort in the Bluegrass, along with CCMan, and Big Truck is a puzzler for me. Would really love to see some of your thoughts on this subject!
Kenney, Interesting work concerning turn times. One item you may want to factor in is Oaklawn's stretch is downhill.
RE: Pyro working at Keeneland. I think you guys are making a big deal out of nothing. The interviewer asked this very question and Asmussen simply said he wanted to arrange the trip to Churchill on his walk day to keep his schedule as uniform as possible. Also, as Asmussen pointed out, there's a difference between training and racing over the surface. I'd guess the amount of kickback is the main reason why some might work well in the morning, but don't run well in the afternoon there. I'm not sure what this says about me, but I would've answered some of those questions exactly as Asmussen did. Some of those questions were just downright silly, IMO. I'm paraphrasing here, but: Q: Is the Blue Grass a toss-out? A: Only if he runs well. There are a lot of factors in racing, and if there was a pre-determined outcome, they wouldn't let you bet on it. It just depends on whether he's feeling good that day. Q: Does your previous experience here help this time? A: Well, I know where the paddock and track are. I don't get lost. Q: Will your previous Derby experience make a difference in the outcome of this race? A: Who you're running is all that matters. Asmussen didn't hint at any physical problem. He called it like it is. Races don't come down to only 1 factor, and if Pyro feels good that day, he should run well. Why is that answer alarming? What's the big mystery here? ------------------------------ Actually, Big Brown's come-home time was 12.987728, making his turn time 0.00353227% outside the range of typical Derby winners. My head is going to explode!