10/17/2011 2:50PM

Giant Oak, Hot Babies


The hall was packed with people from all over the country. 

They came from New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Lexington, Louisville and Indianapolis. 

One by one, they told their stories.

Now, it's my turn. 

Walking to the podium, I cleared my throat.  It was time to come clean.

"Hi, I'm Dan Illman and I'm an Oak-a-Holic.  A Giant Oak-a-Holic."

"Hi, Dan," the crowd responded cheerily.

A giant weight lifted from my chest.  For Giant Oak fans, denial really is a river in Egypt.  Admitting I had a problem was a huge first step. Knowing that I had friends and supporters that shared my plight, and were eager to help, made my burden easier.

"I don't know how it started," I began.  "I never used to like Giant Oak.  Heck, he's a one-run closer.  Everyone that knows me understands that I'm a speed guy.  I usually don't fall for these kind of horses."

Several kind folks nodded their heads in agreement.

"When he was three and on the Triple Crown trail, I scoffed at my friends and colleagues that told me he was a big-league horse.  Where was his excuse in the Louisiana Derby?  Slop?  I don't think so.  He couldn't win the Illinois Derby?  Forget him.  But, slowly, I became obsessed.  When he won the Arlington Classic on turf, I was impressed and I picked him in the American Derby.  He lost.  I should have learned.  And, I did learn.  I stayed away.  For a long time, I stayed away.  Then, then he won the Donn..."

"Blast the Donn!" boomed a loud, but friendly, voice from the peanut gallery.

"I know he had the perfect setup at Gulfstream," I continued.  "But, I wanted to believe that he had turned the corner with maturity.  I wanted to believe that he now had the understanding to finish his task.  So, I went back to him in the Mineshaft.  He didn't run bad.  He just didn't have the pace..."

"All addicts have excuses," the moderator interrupted.  "But, you're in a good place now."

I nodded soberly. 

"Again, I tried to stay away.  I thought I was cured.  But, I, I relapsed.  The Hawthorne Gold Cup..."

I walked back down the aisle, my footsteps echoing on the hardwood floor.  Looking at the sea of understanding faces emboldened my resolve.

I can't promise that I won't pick Giant Oak in the Breeders' Cup. 

I can only try my best and take it one day at a time.


Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (10/10/11 - 10/16/11):

1.  SARAH LYNX - 108 - Canadian International (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Woodbine
2.  TRUELEE SCRAPPIN - 105 - Alw 51960N1X - 7 1/2 Furlongs - Belmont
3.  POSEIDON'S WARRIOR - 101 - New Castle Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
4.  FRAZIL - 99 - Hcp 16000s - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
5.  TOGETHER (Ire) - 98 - Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
6.  I'M STEPPIN' IT UP - 97 - Chief Tamanaco Stakes - 1 Mile - Belmont
6.  MAD FLATTER - 97 - Spend a Buck Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder
6.  SECRET CIRCLE - 97 - Jack Goodman Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
9.  BOISTEROUS - 96 - Knickerbocker Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
9.  GALIENTOS - 96 - Alw 51590N2L - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Parx
9.  ZERO RATE POLICY - 96 - OC 65k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
12. COYOTE LEGEND - 95 - Alw 40000NC - 1 1/16 Miles - Remington
12. REDEEMED - 95 - Oklahoma Derby - 1 1/8 Miles - Remington
14. AFLEET LASS - 94 - Alw 20000s - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Calder
14. CALIFORNIA FLAG - 94 - Morvich Stakes (G3) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Santa Anita
14. DENOMINATION - 94 - Athenia Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
14. LOUVAKHOVA - 94 - Frances A. Genter Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Calder
14. MISS KELLER - 94 - E. P. Taylor Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Woodbine
14. NAGYS PIGGY BANK - 94 - Alw 37000N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - Hawthorne
14. OKIE RIDE - 94 - Alw 49000NC - 6 Furlongs - Remington
14. REGALLY READY - 94 - Nearctic Stakes (G1) - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Woodbine
14. ULTIMATE EAGLE - 94 - Oak Tree Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
14. WILLCOX INN - 94 - Hawthorne Derby (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Hawthorne
24. KIND REGARDS - 93 - Clm 14000(14-12) - 6 Furlongs - Hawthorne
25. ANTENNA - 92 - Clm 7500N4L - 6 Furlongs - Parx
25. APPLAUDING - 92 - Md Sp Wt 45k - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Keeneland
25. BLUEGRASS REWARD - 92 - Alw 48350N1X - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
25. CHEROKEE LORD - 92 - Remington Green Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Remington
25. FUTURE COVENANT - 92 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Santa Anita
25. POWER RULES - 92 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - Calder
25. RUSSELL ROAD - 92 - West Virginia Breeders' Classic - 1 1/8 Miles - Charles Town

The lifetime past performances for SARAH LYNX are available at the bottom of this blog posting:


*There were a couple of big performances from juveniles last week.  SECRET CIRCLE (Eddington - Ragtime Hope, by Dixieland Band), a $17,000 yearling buyback that sold for $165,000 in March, made it a perfect two-for-two with a stalking win in the Jack Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita on October 10.  The winner of his debut over the Del Mar polytrack in July, also with a 97 Beyer, Secret Circle is a colt of the multiple stakes-winner Ragtime Hope, a versatile mare that won stakes at five furlongs on the dirt and 1 1/16 miles on turf.  Ragtime Hope is a half-sister to Really Polish, the winner of the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.  Secret Circle is trained by Bob Baffert.

APPLAUDING (Congrats - Andria's Forest, by Forestry), a $50,000 yearling that resold for $370,000 in March, broke the six-furlong track record at Keeneland in her career debut on October 14.  Trained by Al Stall Jr., Applauding pressed the pace before drawing off to win by nine lengths in 1:07 3/5.  The dam is an unraced half-sister to Carmen's Baby, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles.  Another of the dam's half-siblings, Crafty C. T., won the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes at a mile and also finished third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

*There weren't many North American-based runners that competed in the three Grade 1 races at Woodbine on Sunday, but REGALLY READY, trained in the United States by Steve Asmussen and MISS KELLER, campaigned in Canada by Roger Attfield, took down two of the big events.  Considering the spanking that the Europeans put on our turf horses on a regular basis, the results were surprisingly satisfying for fans of North American-trained turf horses (yes, I know that Miss Keller is an import, but she's been here for a bit and we'll take all we can get at this juncture). In the E. P. Taylor, I thought the runner-up, I'M A DREAMER, moved way too soon.  She gamely fought all the way to the wire to hold second over favored Dream Peace.

*POSEIDON'S WARRIOR may not be there just yet, but he is an extremely promising sprinter on the verge of graded races next year as a four-year-old.


Dan or anyone,
I can't seem to download any pp's. Last night I could get to the download page, but now I can't even access that. Anyone else have a problem?

I haven't had any problems.  Hopefully, it's been resolved.


Calvin Carter, Dan, et al
Kee race 9, 10-15, #2, the filly Together
I certainly understand Group 1,2,3 etc. but
is there a web site that explains the Class 1,2,3?
4-18-11 Newmarket an Alw for $418,800 Class 2.
Where do I sign up?
Ron Zuercher

The following link may be helpful:



Can you post the Beyer Speed figure for Tizalwaysomething from the 3rd race
at Santa Anita on 10-13-11? It would be interesting to see if the horse improved
at the 'projected' 1 & 1/2 speed points per month since her last race. I doubt that
she did but I still would have expected her to run back to her previous Beyer.

The filly earned a 66 Beyer for her turf race on October 13.


Hi Dan,
A friend of mine cares for and rides a 16 year old unraced son of Valid Appeal. If possilbe would you please provide Valid Appeal's PPs. Thanks for all your work and Keenland insight!
Bill M

My past performance generator only goes back so far.  I have some of Valid Appeal's races, but not all of them.  Lifetime, he boasted a record of 36-8-7-3 with earnings of $201,734.  He won the Grade 2 Dwyer, finished second in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Jerome Handicap and ran third in the Grade 1 Futurity and Saranac.  What I have for him is posted on the bottom of this blog post.


Congrats to Yogi for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  This week's race is Wednesday's eighth race at Belmont

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but 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. I'm 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.

Best of luck to all.

SarahLynx.pdf696.36 KB
partialValidAppeal.pdf36.21 KB
HG255.pdf165.02 KB