08/10/2009 2:15PM

Grade 1's galore!


Turning for home in Sunday's Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar, jockey Mike Smith was a day late, twenty cents to the dollar short, four wide, and four and one-half lengths off the leader.  It's an equation that usually leads to defeat.  He did have one thing going for him, however.  ZENYATTA.
The undefeated champion mare defies mere mathematics and scoffs at defeat.  It looked like the big train was going to be derailed by longshot ANABAA'S CREATION, the recipient of a beautiful ground-saving ride by Tyler Baze.  Then, the gears started to whirr, the locomotive began to gain steam, and Smith blew the whistle.  The rest was up to the big gal, and Zenyatta knows the drill.  For the twelfth straight time in her remarkable career, Zenyatta put her head down and got there first at the wire, albeit by a scant nose. 
Almost immediately after the "Official" sign was posted, racing fans began debating. 

"What a champion!"

"Has she lost a step?"

"She'd never take Rachel."

"Who'd she beat today?"

"That was awesome!"

It is only human nature for racing fans to look forward to glorious matchups, battles that define the sport between two top thoroughbreds.  Rachel-Zenyatta would get the Ali-Frazier hyphen.  It's that big a showdown. 
But the results and repercussions of such a war should be pondered another day, for it is also important to revel in the present, to appreciate the performance and effort of Zenyatta, the champion that never loses.

When two Birds and a hot chick win individual Triple Crown races, it's easy to forget about war horses that have torn up the track while flying under the radar. 
GIO PONTI is the best turf horse in North America.  With his popular win in Saturday's Arlington Million, the son of Tale of the Cat has now taken down four rich Grade 1 prizes in succession, three at different distances.  Give Gio Ponti a stiff mile at Santa Anita over firm going, and he'll get up in time.  Stretch him out to 11 furlongs over Belmont's Inner Turf, and he'll dominate despite racing wide every step.  Cut him back to ten panels over a wet Arlington turf course, and he'll battle every inch of the way.  He's a top horse.
FABULOUS STRIKE, like the Energizer bunny, keeps going and going and going.  Racing at the ripe age of six after suffering various injuries and ailments, the old speedball still is tough to deny.  Forced to track the very quick four-year-old GO GO SHOOT from the opening bell of Sunday's Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, Fabulous Strike found that whippersnapper a tough customer, but still came through to win by a hard-fought length.  A Breeders' Cup try may be asking a bit much for Fabulous Strike as he didn't seem to like Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface, but he's a handful when healthy, and the Vosburgh at Belmont looks like a nice goal for the Fall.
Seeing ZENSATIONAL sprint is the equivalent of watching a wild mustang as he streaks through the valley.  Brilliantly fast and sometimes unrateable, there's no doubt that the three-year-old is among the top sprinters in the country.  His go-go-go style is enthralling in the same way that Zenyatta's come-from-behind kick can be heartstopping.
BULLSBAY may have made the most eye-catching move of the weekend, spurting up the rail on the far turn of Saturday's Whitney Handicap.  The longshot continued his rally through the stretch to rip away fan favorite Commentator's bid for a third Whitney score. 

No story can be complete without singing the praises of Rachel Alexandra.  When FLASHING won the Grade 1 Test under Richard Migliore, we saw another example of Rachel's might.  Flashing was defeated 31 1/2 lengths by the Asmussen filly in the Mother Goose in her previous outing. 
TAKE THE POINTS won the Secretariat by a nose, but his measure was taken to the tune of 32 3/4 lengths by the super filly in the Preakness.
Let's not forget about GABBY'S GOLDEN GAL.  Beaten 29 1/4 lengths by Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks, Gabby's Golden Gal returned to take the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day.


Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:

*Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Sar):  FABULOUS STRIKE (T. Beattie/R. Dominguez) - 112
*Amsterdam (Sar):  QUALITY ROAD (T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) - 110
*Bing Crosby (Dmr):  ZENSATIONAL (B. Baffert/V. Espinoza) - 110

*Whitney (Sar):  BULLSBAY (H. Motion/J. Rose) - 107
*Arlington Million (AP):  GIO PONTI (C. Clement/R. Dominguez) - 106
*John Morrissey (Sar):  LAW ENFORCEMENT (M. Hennig/K. Desormeaux) - 102
*Luther Burbank Mile (SR):  WILD PROMISES (G. Gilchrist/D. Lopez) - 102
*Geyser Spring (Sar):  ELUSIVE HEAT (A. Penna Jr./R. Maragh) - 101

*Seagram Cup (WO):  PALLADIO (R. Attfield/R. Dos Ramos) - 99
*With Approval (WO):  STERWINS (M. Pierce/P. Husbands) - 99
*Clement L. Hirsch (Dmr):  ZENYATTA (J. Shirreffs/M. Smith) - 99
*De La Rose (Sar):  COCOA BEACH - CHI (S. bin Suroor/R. Dominguez) - 97
*Beverly D. (AP):  DYNAFORCE (W. Mott/K. Desormeaux) - 97
*Cougar II (Dmr):  UNUSUAL SUSPECT (B. Abrams/A. Quinonez) - 97
*Select (Mth):  PRINCE JOSHUA (B. Rose/P. Lopez) - 96
*Secretariat (AP):  TAKE THE POINTS (T. Pletcher/K. Desormeaux) - 96
*Honorable Miss (Sar):  GAME FACE (T. Pletcher/E. Prado) - 95
*My Frenchman (MTH):  ATTICUS KRISTY (M. Pino/J. Bravo) - 94
*Fleet Indian (Sar):  DANCE GAL DANCE (T. Ritvo/R. Maragh) - 94
*British Columbia Cup Stellar's Jay (Hst):  TOMMY DANZIGGER (R. Gilker/P. Alvarado) - 94
*Hatoof (AP):  ROMACACA (D. Miller/E. Baird) - 91
*John's Call (Sar):  SOLITAIRE (H. Bond/J. Leparoux) - 91
*Shepperton (WO):  DRUNKEN LOVE (N. McKnight/G. Olguin) - 90
*Sun Sprint Championship (NP):  INUIT FISHER (D. Saunders/Q. Welch) - 90
*John Hettinger (Sar):  MARAM (C. Brown/J. Lezcano) - 90
*Sorrento (Dmr):  MI SUENO (E. Guillot/M. Baze) - 90
*Robert G. Leavitt (CT):  RUSSELL ROAD (J. Casey/E. Camacho) - 90

*Finney (Sar):  AHVEE'S DESTINY (L. Rice/J. Velazquez) - 89
*Test (Sar):  FLASHING (S. bin Suroor/R. Migliore) - 89
*Duchess (WO):  CAREM CRESCENT (M. Pierce/E. Da Silva) - 87
*John Bullit (Cby):  TRYING BRIAN (M. Robertson/S. Stevens) - 87
*Tap the Admiral (Sar):  STRIKE AGAIN (W. Mott/J. Leparoux) - 86
*Forward Pass (AP):  CONCHACER (D. Bennett/J. Graham) - 85
*Redekop British Columbia Cup Classic (Hst):  KRAZY KOFFEE (C. Krasner/D. Wilson) - 85
*Best Pal (Dmr):  LOOKIN AT LUCKY (B. Baffert/G. Gomez) - 85
*Florida Stallion Dr. Fager (Crc):  JACKSON BEND (S. Gold/J. Sanchez) - 84
*Top Flight (AP):  SHE BE WILD (W. Catalano/J. Alvarado) - 84
*Genesee Valley Breeders' (FL):  DR. V'S MAGIC (D. Galluscio/J. Davila Jr.) - 83
*Chamisa (Alb):  PETITION THE LADY (T. Sedillo/K. Tohill) - 83
*British Columbia Cup Sprint (Hst):  WOOMBROOM EXPRESS (Q. McCabe/F. Fuentes) - 83
*Vandal (WO):  GHOST FLEET (S. Attard/T. Kabel) - 82
*Assiniboia Oaks (AsD):  MINDY QUEEN (J. Berndt/T. Riggs) - 82
*Fan's Cup (FE):  BREAK EVEN (R. Gilyana/M. McMullen) - 81

*Premio Esmerelda (EmD):  HOLLYWOOD HARBOR (C. Stenslie/J. Zunino) - 79
*British Columbia Cup Nursery (Hst):  HUITZILOPOCHTLI (J. Olmos/F. Perez) - 79
*Manitoba Derby (AsD):  SMUGGLER'S HOLD (T. Padilla/A. Morales) - 78
*British Colubmia Cup Dogwood (Hst):  TIERRA DEL FUEGO  (B. Heads/P. Alvarado) - 77
*Spectacular Bid (AP):  DIXIE BAND (W. Catalano/G. Gomez) - 76
*Brian Barenscheer Juvenile (Cby):  CEJKA (B. Porter/S. Stevens) - 75
*Westerner (NP):  I'M THE GUY (R. Kingston/R. Walcott) - 74
*Angie C. (EmD):  KNIGHT RAIDER (D. Harwood/R. Frazier) - 74
*British Columbia Cup Distaff (Hst):  AGAINST THE SKY (C. MacPherson/F. Fuentes) - 73
*First Episode (Suf):  SOUTHOFTHEBORDER (L. Lockhart/D. Amiss) - 73
*Cleveland Kindergarten (Tdn):  THATS A HECKOFACAT (W. Cowans/J. McKee) - 72
*Amadevil (Cls):  THE BATISTA BOMB (K. Martinez/A. Martinez) - 72
*Colleen (Mth):  HIDDEN EXPRESSION (T. Beattie/E. Castro) - 71
*Vivacious (RD):  UNBRIDLED FLIRTY (W. Martin/P. Tolentino) - 71

*Florida Stallion Desert Vixen (Crc):  SWEETLALABYE (E. Tortora/M. Cruz) - 68
*Spicy (ArP):  VANNACIDE (K. Gleason/A. Ramos) - 68
*Moonbeam (Pnl):  YAWM ESTOORA (R. Inman/A. Stanley) - 68
*Mike Anderson Memorial Cup (FE):  FRIVOLETTE (J. Smith/R. Pimentel) - 64 (*Starfromafar finished first with 70 Beyer, but was disqualified and placed seventh*)

*British Columbia Cup Debutante (Hst):  VYING TY GRR (B. Heads/R. Hamel) - 55
*Doris Grundy Memorial (Yav):  FANTABULOUS M Q (J. Zimmerman/C. Williams) - 54 (*Arizona's Golden finished first with 56 Beyer, but was disqualified and placed second*)
*Gold Strike Mile (AsD):  PERCOLATION (C. Torevell/R. Singh) - 50

*Iowa Stallion Futurity (PrM):  MAMOOSE (B. White/T. Thompson) - 49
*Gold Rush Futurity (ArP):  MADDOX WHO (R. Osborn/D. Frazier) - 46

*Graduation (AsD):  HONORABLE LADY (C. Gray/A. Cuthbertson) - 38

*Gold Strike Mile (AsD):  BIXETTE (G. Kling/A. Cuthbertson) - 25

Here are the lifetime past performances for the highest and lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:

Download FabulousBix


Hello all,
Love reading about your picks.  Still I can't let go of Claiming Crown day at Canterbury and noticed one of the great claimers popped up in my stable mail today.  Sugar Booger!  Dan, could you post his lifetime PP's.  He really has been a great runner for some time now
Mike Savage

Here they are:

Download Sugar Booger


Question: How do you make it so on the formulator a list of the last 100 races don't show for the horses? I find it obnoxious at this point to list efforts beyond 2008, if that. Wasted space.

Click "Modify Filters", then on the "Time Frame" pull-down bar, go to "Past Year," and click "OK."


Dan, do u know why the simulcast weekly has eliminated the handicappers diary?   It was a very good feature

The track handicappers are doing their "diaries" with daily posts on "The Inside Post" blog on drf.com.


On a side note where has Shaun Bridgmohan been, and why is he just now showing up at the Spa?

From David Grening's column posted on drf.com on July 28:

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan on Monday morning got on horses for the first time since he was injured in a spill during training hours at Churchill Downs on July 7. Bridgmohan worked the 3-year-old Sunday Sunrise for trainer Steve Asmussen. Sunday Sunrise is being pointed to Saturday's West Virginia Derby where he'll face Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
Bridgmohan suffered a compressed vertebra and a concussion when he was thrown from a horse he was working for Asmussen that broke down at Churchill Downs on July 7.
Bridgmohan, 30, said "everything seems fine" and he could be riding as early as this weekend, which would be slightly ahead of schedule.
"I thought I'd come back in the middle of the meet," he said.
Bridgmohan won 41 races at the Churchill meet, good for fifth place in the standings. Last summer, he won 13 races at Saratoga.


Hey Dan, I was wondering if you could put the lifetime PP's of one of the horse's I loved in the 90's. Her name was Tricky Princess and she raced everywhere, from Saratoga to Santa Anita and had a great rivalry with Ask Anita the dam of Stakes Winner Milwakee Brew.
Michael Dee

Here they are:

Download Tricky Princess



Michael Baze is a first cousin of Tyler Baze, and a second cousin of Russell Baze. 


Would you kindly put up  the PPs for Zenyatta. I have this incredible urge to see twelve "1" all down the page.
Thank you
SR Vegas

Here they are:

Download Zenyatta


Any information that you have on Ritual (Pulpit-Furlough by Easy Goer) is appreciated. Who is the owner and trainer? When he make his debut? etc. Thanks
Calvin L. Carter

Ritual is a Phipps Stable homebred trained by Shug McGaughey.  He worked a half-mile in 50.03 on Monday morning over the Oklahoma Training Track, and may make his debut at Saratoga.


Dan, I remember watching on satellite the old NYRA racing show featuring a "young" Harvey Pack, and a young writer Steve Crist. On one show Harvey talked  about a filly out west who ran a "hole in the wind" beating Snow Chief among others in a stakes race from Hollywood; the filly was Melair and I know they now have a stakes named after her, but I do not remember seeing any of her offspring race. Is she still alive? Any information and her lifetime pp's would be appreciated.

I went back to the 1987 American Racing Manual to find the chart for the Grade 2 Silver Screen Handicap on July 5, 1986.  Melair went off the 19-10 second choice behind 3-5 favorite Snow Chief.  Melair broke from the far outside in the twelve-horse field, cleared to the front through fractions of 22 1/5, 44 3/5, 1:08, 1:19 4/5, and 1:32 4/5, winning "ridden out" by 6 1/2 lengths under Patrick Valenzuela.  That seven-furlong time is sizzling. 
Melair was weighted at 123 lbs. on the 1986 Daily Racing Form Free Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, one pound less than Tiffany Lass.

Here are her past performances:

Download Melair

Here is her produce record:

1988:  Mr. Melair (colt, by Mr. Prospector) - 41-4-5-6, $51,486
1989:  Barren
1990:  Airlaunch (gelding, by Relaunch) - 47-6-7-10, $70,593
1991:  Not bred
1992:  Airmel (filly, by Mark Chip) - 3-0-0-0, $300
1993:  Not bred
1994:  Tizair (colt, by Cee's Tizzy) - Unraced
1995:  No report
1996:  Air'nsea (colt, by Seattle Bound) - 45-7-6-5, $88,603
1997:  No report
1998:  Barren (bred to Mangaki)
1999:  Our Cache (filly, by Mangaki) - 1-0-0-0, $860

Melair passed away after a bout with colic in 1999.

From ctba.com:

Champion Melair, who was undefeated in a brief five-race career that included a record-breaking victory over Snow Chief and other colts in the 1986 Silver Screen Handicap at Hollywood Park, was humanely destroyed at Here Tis Ranch near Hemet in late May after suffering complications from a bout with colic.
Bred and owned by Marianne Millard and Bea Rous, Melair was a 1983 filly by Debonair Roger out of the outstanding broodmare Melrose Nugget. Although her racing career spanned less than three months and came during a single meeting, she provided the sport with one of its most vivid highlights of 1986.
She led throughout the one-mile Silver Screen, winning by 6 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:32 4/5. Preakness winner Snow Chief finished third, 11 lengths further back. It was the fastest mile ever recorded by a member of her sex and was equaled only one other time by Eclipse and Breeders’ Cup champion Bayakoa (Arg) in the 1989 Hawthorne Handicap at the Inglewood track.
“I don’t like the word ‘freak,’ because it makes it sound inappropriate, but she was that kind of horse,” said trainer John Sadler in a Daily Racing Form interview. “She was the kind of horse destined not to run a long time. She was just beyond the normal range of horses. She could do everything so easily.”
Unfortunately, Melair’s victory in the Silent Screen turned out to be her last race. A bout with colic forced her to the sidelines when she was preparing for an appearance in the Test Stakes at Saratoga. Yet, her brief campaign created such a lasting impression that she was among the three finalists for the Eclipse Award for outstanding three-year-old filly of 1986, a title that went to another undefeated filly, Tiffany Lass, who counted the Kentucky Oaks and Fantasy Stakes among her six wins that year. Melair also captured the grade III Railbird and Princess Stakes for earnings of $336,500, and she was voted California’s champion three-year-old filly and outstanding sprinter.
Melair suffered a second and more serious colic attack in January of 1987. This time, veterinarians had to go in and remove part of her large intestine. She almost died as a result, and the condition affected her capacity to carry and bear foals. She produced two winning offspring—Mr. Melair, by Mr. Prospector, and Airlaunch, by Relaunch, who was stakes-placed at Turf Paradise. In her later years, Melair was bred only to stallions residing in California.
“We only bred her every other year,” Millard told Daily Racing Form. “We didn’t want to put too much pressure on her. We couldn’t send her any place to be bred. I’m not saying they’re not good ranches, but she had a special diet and needed special attention.”


Based on the requests to select a race at Saratoga.
I am going to select the 9th Race on Wednesday at Saratoga (the Cab Calloway Stakes) as the race for Handicapping 146.

Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling146

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.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.

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.

Good luck!


Best to all,