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
David More than 1 year ago
David the Great another of many dropping down for this one and does cut back to a sprint where he has won at this distance and was claimed fo 50K. this one should be rolling late to get a part today messenger armani http://www.nnluxury.com/tag/men's-brown-leather-messenger-bag/
Greg Dumele More than 1 year ago
Hi Dan, I see Sarah Lynx hit the top Beyer last week....can you believe how the rail opened up for her? Pretty fortunate trip. Dan, I'm wondering if Presious Passion has been retired? Have not heard his name lately. Could you post his pp's? Have to say that his '09 Monmouth Stakes win has to be one of the most courageous efforts I've ever seen. Take care, Greg
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
kieth L , there you go. Add a qualifier go through a wormhole. Now yer multiversing !...ya,ya,ya space truckin' ya, ya, ya, space truckin'.... Ron Z & Mickey I realiZe now that I missed a great opportunity to say " If your methods are sound you must be getting LAZY... 'You Don't Want No Money You Don't Want No Bread' " VQ & Captain Steve , Maybe I'm a Leo but I.. I ain't a Ly-eye-in'... I do believe Mike did say he was casting about looking for biters ! LOL. He chummed the waters well and then he pulled out his Ol' Lucky Number 7 bait. A steady string of hook-ups for several days resulted. Mike is a better fisherman then he was letting on ! LOL. He didn't even have to troll. He dropped anchor right in the harbor and loaded the boat !! LOL. He said he wasn't expecting to hook a Brooklyn C Bass so we can only guess what he was fishing for ? A school of sharks ? An Ol' Grandpappy Blackseabass perhaps ? LOL. Redboard Occupiers Unite !! No matter what we get out of this ,I KNOW,,,I know we'll never forget.... Smoke on the water , Fire in the sky
Cliff77 More than 1 year ago
HG I like Not for Love horses in the slop. Also like how the #2 beat 13 to break his maiden (albeit against cheaper). The #7 looks like a honest horse who has rallied in the slop before. Claimed by a sharp outfit 2 back. $50 EBX 2,7
tencentcielo More than 1 year ago
UGH. Am I cheering for one more scratch at this point? YES! (I'll say why when I post the results.) HG sloppy! $100 exacta #3 Ultimo Principe / #2 War Colony Think UP clears the field and...just...keeps...going...with War Colony chasing him the whole way around.
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Wednesday notes.... Only 34 horses out today at Belmont because of the bad weather...... What are you going to do? Put a lot of the 13, 14, 15 , 16 numbers on your tickets..... Remember, they have a pick 6 carryover!!!!!! Play a couple of tickets....... Whackymacky Out!!!!
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Mickey..............ah, better than trying to get you on the phone....haha.......5 of 7....I thought there was a reason we were friends.......ah but the two days I won I killed ya.....haha. "C'.......... don't get your hackles up.......I'm race specific and I bet a certain way, because of that I don't have a ton of races to play......so my statement isn't so far fetched. Mickey plays almost strictly show......we spoke and he can't recollect losing more than 4 in a row. My point is that if I bet the way some do...any race, no rhyme or reason, if I was a PH and had to pick 9 a day I'd probably lose 30 in a row......I believe you lost sight of the fact that I don't do that. I've told many people when I don't like a race or it's out of my realm of "expertise" my opinion is no better than throwing darts. All I care about is winning......I never wish to be considered the "best all around" handicapper.......no money in it, unless you work for a daily. I'm sorry I keep harping on the stat stuff.......but I make my own, I trust no one but myself. It's hard picking price horses when you rely on stats....to me they tell you how many times it won't happen......I don't want to know "won't". I'm very laid back.......even if it seems I'm not. I like to handicap races.......everything in this world cost's you something.....I just don't care. If I have to get all worked up because of the "hidden" fees the track's or OTB charges I wouldn't bother. So instead of making 1000.00 I get 950.00.....I don't care, for me it doesn't fit into the grand scheme of things to care. Do you think after spending 949.00 of that money i say "I wish I had bet at the track"? I'd have 51 more dollars? Perhaps I should go to wall street and protest the exorbitant fees the track charges.......OTB needed 5% to operate, to make my betting life easier......Hey it beat the bookmakers..........and what of that 1000.00.....should have been 1230.00? So we should all bet for free....racetracks can operate for admission fees only......then it would 300.00 to get in...besides who goes to the track anymore? Pimlico must do that.....it's a rats nest...... So the bettor is getting screwed...we complain about the product but don't want to share in the responsibility.....for the quality of that product........when folks at the track talk numbers to me I tell them go after the credit card companies who charge more interest than Lefty lostritto.....I have a 15-1 shot to bet.....the horse will pay between 32-33.90.......I don't worry that he may have been 16-1.........Mike A
blackstone More than 1 year ago
To the Blog I I am am sorry sorry for for the the double double post post. Captcha Captcha problem problem.
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Wednesday at the circus... Have said this before and will say it again.... Please wait on the HG plaays until the field has been officially announced!!! Race #8 HG Belmont Today Take out the following: #8 Running Tap #9 Awesome Arceno I think that we will have 14-16 do over's!!! Good Luck with the field of 7!!! VQ Just joking about getting into that contest with Mike A. He is all by himself on that island!!! I can go 0-7 today and be out by 4pm...... Good luck today!!! Whackymacky Out!!!!
Anderson More than 1 year ago
Dan Your story reminded me of an article I read years ago about a therapy group that replaced abusive behaviors with visits to the racetrack. The idea was that the expenditures of time and money involved in a day at the races could provide an appealing alternative activity. What would you consider fair odds to be on a Giant Oak wager? HG255 Two of these were on my Queen's Plate watch list so I'll play them in keeping with theme of never giving up. #6 Black N Beauty showed much promise as a two year old and then stopped that day at Gulfstream. Anything resembling that form of a year ago would be kind of UncleMoLike. Really wanted #4 Sensational Slam to be a plate horse. Pedigree said okay for turf and fine on a wet track but not so far. Good to see a few others leaning this way! For contest purposes needing #8 Running Tap to pick up the pieces. HG wager $100 tri 6/4/8
Mickey More than 1 year ago
To All: Haven't been on the blog much since being busy at home.....but have kept in touch with Blackstone, Jonah, Mike A, Van savant (to an extent), KYL Syndicate, Rob with private e-mails... Just went on now and after reading all the stuff on the blog....one thing comes to mind?..who really cares??????... 7 in a row...does it really matter if you believe or not? I have been to the track with Mike A 7 times now and have beaten him 5 out of 7.....does that make me a better handicapper then him?..nope...I feel I am pretty good (and I am sure some of you who that know me will attest to that)...but I am looking for certain type of plays...to make my living....I lay a lot of money to win a little.....I wish I could do it Mike's way...but can't get myself to try it...I give him a lot of credit to churn out the amount he makes via the exacta/win angle.... Mike dissects the form even better then me and finds something for his plays (horses that I usually won't use)..that works for him....and has done it while also POSTING most of his plays as well on here....kudos for that....I hit EVERY horse but one on Saturday and Sunday..(but only posted to the above people)...so I get zero credit from this board regarding that...but it was a super profitable weekend....and again who cares? My point is this.......there are A LOT of good handicappers on this blog....and I enjoy reading about their selections and WHY they like such and such a horse...to me THAT is the biggest part of enjoyment about this blog......reading those comments about big races from the major tracks and looking at view points from others....(I don't care why so and so likes the 5 claimer at Hawthrone..since I wouldn't bet it or watch it....)...why can't we keep it mostly to that? Jonah.....keep doing what you are doing......you'll make it.... Blackstone-- funny we had a lot of similar picks this weekend.....lol Mike A-..don't worry about the 7 in a row.....worry about 11/4 and 11/5..that is important.......and I might go with Rob on Friday if you want to meet me there..would love to go 6 for 8 over you...LOL Ron Z-....excellent point on the other post about...handicapping and being lazy...the observation of that is dead on.....if you are "skimming" through a race....then why bother playing it???