08/22/2008 9:18PM

HammerToes, Weekend Stakes thoughts

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I dropped the hammer on my toe today.  To me, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga was a prime betting opportunity.  While I have the greatest respect for Ginger Punch, she was going to take the lion's share of the wagering, and couldn't be played outside of multi-race bets.  I've always been an Unbridled Belle fan, but I wonder if she wants to do this anymore.  I couldn't get the image of her spooking and flipping in the paddock prior to the Delaware Handicap out of my mind.  At a short price, I couldn't play her.  But I could play Lemon Drop Mom, who courageously held on for second behind Hystericalady in the Delaware Handicap, and galloped out beautifully after that race.  I made her 6-1 on my personal line for the Personal Ensign, and was delighted when she went off at 10-1...delighted until they posted the photo.  Once again, two ladies showed us what our sport is all about at the Old Spa.  Lemon Drop Mom, on the rail, battled down the length of the stretch with the defending Distaff Champion, Ginger Punch.  When it mattered most, in the shadow of the wire, Ginger Punch got her nose down first...and I felt like she picked my pocket. 

Oh well.  Tomorrow's the centerpiece of the Saratoga meet...Travers Day!

Let's take a look at the races that comprise the $1 Million Guaranteed Pick 4:

Victory Ride:
Undefeated Indyanne will likely be the single on more than a handful of tickets, but while I eventually settled on her as my top choice, I'm not so sure she's the lock she appears on paper.  Yes, she was impressive at Calder, earning a 108 Beyer in the Grade 3 Azalea, but Indyanne has done a lot of traveling in a short amount of time.  She's based in Northern California, shipped to South Florida for the Azalea, flew back to Northern California, and now has crossed the country again for the Victory Ride.  Plus, she'll be facing some pretty quick and classy rivals at the Spa.  She's obviously the filly to beat, but you may want to hedge somewhat with Informed Decision, Sly Storm, and Porte Bonheur.  Informed Decision earned a triple-digit Beyer over the polytrack at Keeneland, but she may have been aided by a closer's bias that day, and must prove she is as fast over the dirt.  The expected fast pace should play into her stalking style.  Sly Storm is finally beginning to run to her pedigree.  A daughter of Storm Cat, she's won two straight against weaker competition, and has enough gas to press Indyanne and company early.  I think she has lots of upside potential.  Porte Bonheur is a late-runner with a puncher's chance.  It must be stated, however, that she enjoyed a perfect rail-skimming trip in her recent restricted stakes win at Saratoga.  Palanka City was the pacesetter in the Test, and may have to run-and-gun from the rail.  We'll be rooting for Team Zayat's entry of Throbbin' Heart and J Z Warrior.  The former was no match for Sly Storm at Monmouth while J Z Warrior pressed and faded in the Test.  Both have excellent early speed.
Selections:  Indyanne, Informed Decision, Sly Storm, Porte Bonheur

Bernard Baruch:
The Bernard Baruch is usually a competitive race, and this year's renewal is no exception.  I like Thorn Song, a Team Zayat runner that may have been taken out of his game by the front-running exploits of Inca King in the recent Fourstardave Handicap.  Thorn Song, as evidenced by his gate-to-wire score over Einstein two back at Churchill, is at his best when allowed to control the pace.  Breaking from post two, and facing a field without much early zip, Thorn Song may be allowed to dictate his own terms under Julien Leparoux.  While beaten in the Fourstardave, Thorn Song did show guts to turn back Distorted Reality's late charge for third in the stretch, and seems to be in good form.  Drum Major is an interesting handicapping dilemma.  He looked like he was finally reaching full maturity when third in last year's Baruch, but hasn't been seen since that start.  Trainer George Weaver is having a wonderful meet, and he is showing an immense amount of confidence in placing Drum Major here without a prep.  He draws inside, and can best utilize his tactical speed by working out a pace-tracking, ground-saving trip.  Will the real War Monger please stand up?  I'd prefer to see the one that wowed us in the Rutgers and Sunshine Millions Turf instead of the phony that stunk up the joint in the Kilroe, Makers Mark Mile, and Fourstardave.  On his best day, he can be a player, and it's possible that all he's been waiting for is a return to firm turf.  Operation Red Dawn is a live sleeper.  I loved how he exploded after he altered course late in the 'n3x' optional claiming win two back, and he wasn't disgraced when beaten less than five lengths by Kip Deville in the Poker, a race devoid of pace.  The plethora of layoff lines that dot Proudinsky's page are disconcering, and he can be his own worst enemy when rank at the start  Distorted Reality took the measure of Grand Couterier two back, and that one is now a two-time winner of the Sword Dancer.  Shakis has yet to return to the form that propelled him to the perfect trip win in last year's Baruch.
Selections:  Thorn Song, Drum Major, War Monger, Operation Red Dawn

Kings Bishop:
J Be K certainly looms the horse to beat based on his last two triple-digit Beyer wins.  He's never lost a sprint race, and draws a comfortable outside post.  He should be breathing down the neck of the pacesetter(s) entering the turn.  Since he probably won't offer much value, I'll head to Desert Key, the impressive runner-up in the Amsterdam on July 28.  Desert Key put away the other speed after a wicked first quarter, opened up on the turn, and dug in gamely for the entire stretch run to only lose by a head.  He'll have to really motor from the rail, and a prolonged hounding from J Be K may be in the cards, but the lightly-raced son of E Dubai may be this good.  Kodiak Kowboy got the best of Desert Key in the Amsterdam, but he may be best between 6-6.5 furlongs, and I didn't like the way he was weaving throughout the stretch run of the Amsterdam.  He should sit a solid trip in the second flight, however, and he really likes this surface.  The Florida contingent of Golden Spikes, Gentleman James, and Lantana Mob, all show big numbers, but this is a tougher spot.
Selections:  Desert Key, Kodiak Kowboy, J Be K

Travers:
Alan told us about Mambo in Seattle, a long time ago, and his faith may be rewarded in the Midsummer Derby.  I really liked Mambo in Seattle's recent stakes win at the Spa.  He was wide for most of the way, then battled gamely while on the rail in the stretch.  The final time of that race compared favorably with the Jim Dandy run on the same day at the same distance, and Mambo in Seattle should get a solid pace to attack in the Travers.  He reminds many handicappers of Neil Howard's Grasshopper as a late-blooming three-year-old ready to peak at the right time.  Macho Again showed his big heart in the Jim Dandy when turning back Pyro's late challenge, and both have the right running styles for this race.  I'm not sure 10 furlongs is really Macho Again's game, though, and the enigmatic Pyro looked like he had the whole stretch to blow by Macho Again to no avail.  Harlem Rocker's only loss came over polytrack, and he returned to his winning way by beating much weaker in the Prince of Wales.  He gets the acid test here, but he is obviously talented.  Colonel John got tired in the Swaps, but that race was obviously a prep, and he was wide throughout.  He can certainly win this, but still must prove himself over dirt.  Da' Tara is not as good as his Belmont looks, but not as bad as his Jim Dandy either.  I don't think the in-the-middle version is good enough to win this considering he may have to fight off Tizbig, Tres Borrachos, and Cool Coal Man early.
Selection:  Mambo in Seattle

Quick and Dirty Picks for Sunday:

Pacific Classic:  Awesome Gem
Ballerina:  Jibboom

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I'd like to know.

***

Dan, do you have the Beyer speed figures for the stakes races run at Pinnacle RaceCourse this past weekend?
Moonbeam Handicap- Half A Glance
Michigan Breeder's Cup- All I Can Get

Half a Glance received a 77 while All I Can Get earned an 80.

***

Best of luck this weekend.

Take care,

Dan

BombsAwayBob Grant More than 1 year ago
The Worst Beat in the History of Dime Supers.(so far) I got DQ'd on a TRAINER'S OBJECTION in the 5th@Evangeline Wednesday night! The Bet I made was a cheap one, 5th@EVG: LMSP (all)(1,2,4)(3)(1,2,4)=$5.40.. They crossed the wire 11~2~3~4. The #11 is 33/1...the #2 is 9/1...the #3 is 18/1...& the #4,a paultry 6/1... the #4 & #9 made contact, no doubt, but the contact was minimal. The tote board glowed my magic numbers for a good 90 seconds..then the dreaded announcement; "Hold All Tickets...We have a claim of foul...by the TRAINER of fifth place finisher,#9" How often have you seen a trainers claim of foul result in a DQ? (and For 4th & 5th Place Yet???) ME Either! Well, after 5 minutes, I saw one I didn't want to! ONE WINNING DIME TICKET! Here's my TVG Wager History of the bet below: 8/27/08-9:07 PM- EC264825 Evangeline Downs-5-$0.10 SU1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12/1,2,4/3/1,2,4 -ONLINE-$5.40 ------Results, after DQ: 1st~ 11-Lil Initiative------ $69.80--$35.20--$17.00 2nd~ 2-Bitsy's Parade Day---------$10.00--$7.20 3rd~ 3-Kipper Zak--------------------------$11.40 4th~ 9-Adorable Prospect ---$1.00 EXACTA 11-2 $366.40 $2.00 QUINELLA 2-11 $248.00 $1.00 TRIFECTA 11-2-3 $6269.40 $1.00 SUPERFECTA 11-2-3-9 $206,774.20 ~~~~~My Question to you, Dan: Where was that winning Dime Super Ticket sold? The trainer claimed foul for $600, as that's the purse difference between 4th & 5th. He's get 10% of that, or $60. Trainers/Owners can't bet their horse to run 4th,can they?
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
SCIENTISTS HAVE DISCOVERED A NEW SOLAR SYSTEM: Scientists have recently discovered a new solar system in our galaxy. This new solar system is in close proximity to Earth’s, and may have much in common with ours. According to scientists involved in this discovery, the third planet from this recently-discovered system has been named Planet Illman. Apparently this planet is populated by many people, all of whom appear to be highly intelligent, but rather risky, and testy at times. They seem to exhibit extreme territorial tendencies, and debate subjects ranging from “Beyer Speed Figures” to “real dirt”, to synthetic surfaces”, and “turf”. From what scientists have gleaned thus far, it appears that the inhabitants of this planet (named for their “creator”) have a genuine collective-affinity for one another, but tend to become irritable when their “creator” is absent for extended periods of time. Their names are both common, and clever. “Alan” for example, is seemingly plain and simple, but it is really the identity of a caring, clever, and successful man. “Steve T” is bright, sharing, caring, testy, funny, and hardworking, but at times is distracted by events outside of Planet Illman. “Calvin Carter” is entertaining, articulate, and no nonsense, although he seems obsessed with Steve T’s work on a “flux capacitor”. Vicstu is passionate, hard working, well-read, experienced, and verbose. Svhill is vicstu, but a tad less emotional and a tad less verbose (vicstu-light). Gunbow is a recent discovery, and he comes replete with numbers and a historical perspective to be admired. Chicago Gerry and Al Hattab are men of chance. They come prepared for anything, and usually leave with something. Scianc22 is a breath of fresh air. Larryk is caring, thoughtful, insightful, and daring. “Mathieu”, “Kenny Mac,” “cayman01” “Ray Manley”, “Buffalo Joe” “Leo” “Johnnyz” “Tony Kelso”, “Mike S” “Steven Taylor”, “Blue Horseshoe”, “chase”, “Dale”, “Lawduck07” “aparagon4u”, “Ivan”, “RobertSD” and “Midwest Ed” are bold and adventuresome prognosticators. They have other opinions as well. James Mc. Is insightful, wise, and no-nonsense. “C” is…well…C. “PGM” is an insightful, thoughtful, and intelligent prognosticator. “Ray Manley” is one-of-a-kind, and has a keen eye. “tinky” is, well…let’s just say that “tinky” tends to go “tinky” on us here, and then all-bets-are-off. “slewofdamascus is a comet orbiting this system. He appears from time to time (but not often enough), and when he does, he can be seen for months on-end. And then he disappears. There also appears to be many females on this planet, and they all seem to be greater-than-or-equal to the men. “Laura” “Katieattherail”, “Amanda”, “SR Vegas”, and “Annie” seems to be the most vocal. They are all highly intelligent, well-read, thoughtful, and significant contributors to this planet. From what the researchers have provided, it appears that planet Illman is a fine place. Much can be learned from the inhabitants there. Researchers’ hope that they all manage to embrace their differences, and continue to learn from each other, so that the planet can not only survive, but flourish. In time, it is hoped that Earth can use this as a model.☺
Annie More than 1 year ago
Van Savant, That was really clever! Steve T and Turn Back The Alarm, Good reminders of our desire to keep this blog civil. Annie
Walt More than 1 year ago
Replying to the article Greg previously noted at: http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/58375 It should first be noted that article was originally posted in March, however, a lot of it is very accurate. What was failed to be mentioned in that article is while yes, ESPN's ratings are down in many sports from where they were at NBC, CBS, FOX, etc., it needs to be remembered that with many more options for TV along with the internet, TV ratings as a whole are WAY down from where they were just in 2004. We have shows during the regular TV season in the top 20 with ratings in the 7s, which would have been unheard of even in the 2004-'05 TV season, when the current downfall in TV ratings that have been between 30-60% in many cases began. What many also fail to realize is if the Breeders' Cup had remained on NBC, the ratings would likely have continued to plunge there as well simply because of this. The many platforms ESPN has likely makes the lower ratings there much more desirable than what would have been if the Breeders' Cup had remained on NBC (and of course, this year, ABC is televising two and a half hours of the Saturday portion of the BC, hopefully, that will do well enough that for the 2009 BC, the Saturday portion of the BC telecast can run from 2:30-6:00 PM ET on ESPN and 6:00-9:00 PM ET on ABC (with ABC's normal 3:30 PM ET college football games starting one hour earlier at 2:30 ET or 90 minutes earlier at 2:00 ET if ABC stations need a half-hour for local news that in that scenario could air at 5:30 ET) and ABC's Saturday Night Football game starting one hour later than usual at 9:00 PM ET).
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
RE: Andy Serling I have to say that I think Andy Serling has been doing an terrific job with Siro's and NYRA! It seems that he's softened up around the edges and now comes across like a personable, likeable, and knowledgeable teacher versus a smarmy know-it-all (not that I minded the smarmy know-it-all, but I like this version better)... He's had a tough meet picking winner's but I think his analysis and opinion delivery has been exceptional!
laura More than 1 year ago
Today's Iron Maidens analysis is available at http://www.thoroughbredink.com I have the 2nd and 4th races posted and the third and third and 7th races will be posted shortly.
billg More than 1 year ago
Annie, thanks for looking out for my score. I need any $2.40 I can get from where I'm standing right now. Alan, Please enter my score for Trnsduction Gold in the contest. A few thoughts from the weekend: Tale of Ekati should try the Jerome and then on to the BC Dirt Mile. Had a distance challenged pedigree to begin with. Ditto for Pyro. Maybe he should try mile turf races as well. Very impressed with Well Armed in the PC. Showed an ability to rate and finish at a classic distance. Maybe tougher on the Santa anita synthetic track. Intangaroo? Why did I not bet him yesterday? He made me a mint Derby Day! Global Hunter, what an exacta it would have been. Him and Whatthescript are serious players. Still a nice weekend of horseracing for Labor Day on the horizon!
johnnyz More than 1 year ago
Tinky, I am not going to get in the middle of this pissing contest with you, Laura, and Calvin. As I told you the other night I enjoy your post, but don't always agree with your thoughts. For example I think Big Brown has an excellant pedigree to get 10F. Again, I feel first of all the damsire is just as important as the sire concerning ability to get a distance. Secondly, stamina IMO can come from a combination of pedigree factors, such as BB's 3rd dam is Rough Shod, dam of Moccasin. He is also 3x5 to Nearco. AS I have stated many times in the past; stamina can come from any generation. Prime example: Cot Campbell, still looks for Nasrullah, and Princequillo or a combination of those two when buying yearlings, and 2 yr olds. Don't think you will find those two very close-up in any yearlings? Enough on my thoughts, your thoughts are almost always centered aroung a horse either being a miler, or a sire being a sire of srinter's or miler's!!! Well what I would like to know is a few who you think is, or will be good classic distance sires? BTW, don't include Ap Indy, while being a neophyte in bloodline study, I as most know any of his should stretch out. Also, what is your thought on Duke of Marmalade from a pedigree aspect? It is apparent he is a supreme talent on the track, winning his 5th Grp-1 Sat. I find his bloodline, with all the in-breeding a unique study. My opinion is will be a no-doubt Super Sire.
Mike S More than 1 year ago
Eoin Harty says that he might bring COLONEL JOHN up to the Breeders Cup Classic on works. Isn't the Breeders Cup Classic 9 weeks away? What happened to the original plan of sending him to the Super Derby first? COLONEL JOHN certainly didn't fire his best shot in the Swaps Stakes, after a 2 month layoff, so maybe he needs a race between now and the Classic? If they were my horses I would put WELL ARMED in the Goodwood, and COLONEL JOHN would go in the Super Derby, Meadowlands Cup or the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I don't think I would put WELL ARMED and COLONEL JOHN in the same race until the Classic. But the Super Derby seemed like a good plan, and it still seems like a good plan.
buffalo joe More than 1 year ago
Friends- Color me sad, at 3:52pm 2 minutes before the 7the at Fort Erie, which I was watching and twinspires.com, a violent thunder storm knocked my DSL out and I have no dial up back. After studing the contest races for 2 hrs, I thought I wait til FE was finished to catch up on the blog and put my plays in. But sad went to sick while watching on TVG when one of my favorite trainers on the Chicago circut was interviewed by Christina O. before the race. I had picked Rebellion along with Dearest Tricksi,Whatsthescript &WellArmed. I certianly would have canceled Rebellion if I had time after hearing Catalano almost coming out and saying Michael Lewis would not lose today, while explaining he got just what he wanted out of the turf prep. Missing out on not getting contest plays cost me nothing, but Damn TVG for not allowing Twinspires customer among others to bet on Del Mar the exacta came back a generous $100 even. Hope some of you guys watching were able to capitalize on the Catalano interview. Now it will take me a couple of hrs to catch up on both blogs. BTW I'd like to choke the Time Warner telephone tech that could not give me any help at all. In Florida I use Comcast, and their techs walk you though almost any problem. Usually during these storms Direct TV goes out not the cable. Bottom line just another sad horse racing story