09/30/2008 7:06PM

HandiGambling 103 review; 104 Preview; some questions


...I looked at Commentator's pp's and they certainly are impressive, however I don't see an obvious indication that he can get the mile and a quarter of the B.C. Classic.  But what makes me idiotic is please could somebody tell me what those two numbers are that come after the odds and are separated by a hyphen? Pretty please?...

From the past performance tutorial on drf.com:

Speed Rating, Track Variant: 78-18. The first number is the speed rating, a comparison of this horse's time with the best time at the distance at that track in the last three years, which is represented by the par value of 100. For each 1/5th of second slower than the best time, one point is deducted. Hence, if the best time is 1:10 and the horse in question had run the race in 1:10 and 4/5ths, the speed rating would be 96. The second figure (18) is the track variant, which shows how many points below par the times for all races at the distance on the same surface were that day. The lower the track variant, the faster the track, or the better the overall quality of competition was for that day. Note: The track variant process is one of the most sophisticated, complicated elements of a past performance. But as a simple tool, it can help the user to analyze whether an incredibly fast final time or fraction is really as impressive as it seems.



...The 1986 Breeder's Cup Classic is also a reminder to us this year that there are more than 1 or 2 horses in this year's ProRide version.
Turkoman and Precisionist were very nice horses, but that is why they ran the race...

Another interesting tidbit about the 1986 BC Classic from Joe Hirsch's "1987 Racing in Review" column:

"The third Breeders' Cup Day also set championship seals for several other divisions but the 3-year-olds were missing from the scene and many of their owners regretted their absence.  There is no dedicated Breeders' Cup event for 3-year-olds, but in the past they have had a good deal to say about the outcome of the Breeders' Cup Classic, competing against their elders.  Gate Dancer, for example, was one of the three horses who so bitterly contested the finish of the first Classic at Hollywood Park in 1984 and a 3-year-old, Proud Truth, captured the second classic at Aqueduct in 1985."

"Ferdinand, the Kentucky Derby winner, was freshening for his 4-year-old season.  Snow Chief, the Preakness winner, chipped his right knee during the summer, underwent arthroscopic surgery, and was recuperating.  Danzig Connection, the Belmont winner, also chipped his right knee while finishing third in The Jockey Club Gold Cup and would soon be sold and retired.  Broad Brush, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness third who won the Ohio Derby and Pennsylvania Derby, concluded '86 with a victory in the Meadowlands Cup, two weeks prior to the Breeders' Cup.
The other leading 3-year-olds were also among the missing.  Ogygian, the brilliant colt who won the Dwyer and the Jerome Mile, was injured and recuperating; Wise Times, hero of the Haskell Invitational, the Travers and the Super Derby, was freshening after a moderate showing in The Jockey Club Gold Cup; Badger Land, runner-up in the Florida Derby and winner of the Flamingo, hadn't started since the Preakness; Rampage, the Arkansas Derby winner, was finished by midsummer, and Bachelor Beau, the Blue Grass winner, lost his form during the summer and was on holiday."

That Classic really would have been super if some of those horses weren't knocked out of action.  Hopefully, we won't have any late defections this year.


Does this seem like a good year to run Zenyatta in the Classic?  Is that possible?

Do they dare run Zenyatta vs. the boys?

I'm guessing that Zenyatta's connections are going to go the traditional route, and stick with the Ladies Classic.  If she goes there, she'll likely go off as a strong favorite to keep her unbeaten record intact.  The Classic is a much tougher race, obviously, and she'll have to deal with a big field of proven males.   I think Slew put it best when he wrote "In the Classic, she'd also be facing a FULL FIELD of runners, and that means traffic, in and amongst the boys (men)."
Given her running style, she'd have to weave her way through and/or around 13 other rivals in the Classic.  The Ladies' Classic may have less horseflesh to navigate around, will be a softer spot, and may throw up an easier all-around pace and trip scenario.


Steve T,
You are so right. Would be hard for anyone to argue that the two best horses in the world right now happen to be fillys. What a coincidence that both have names starting with Z.....Zarkava and Zenyatta. the real scary part for their competition is I don't feel anyone has witnessed their best!

In keeping with the 'Z' theme, look out for Zacinto, a two-year-old colt by Dansili trained by Sir Michael Stoute for Juddmonte Farms.  He won his debut by eight lengths at Sandown on the Fourth of July, then finished second in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes on September 13.  He is reportedly being pointed for the Racing Post Trophy on October 25, and if he runs well there, he'll likely be considered one of the winter favorites for the English 2,000 Guineas.


Does anyone know if there is an aerial view of the track as it now exists?...
With the Breeder's Cup only a month away, I think Tyler Baze makes a stupid decision here, not a forward-looking decision, but a spontaneous decision (based on some high level of testosterone, no doubt) to let the reigns free as Cost Of Freedom explodes into the clubhouse turn, well AFTER the race. Stupid ....T!
Call me a stickler, but I want a horse safely wrapped up after a winning effort unless there is some reason not to (and there can be), because I've seen plenty of horses done in by careless gallop-outs by their next - lower odds - effort.


You may want to try Google Earth for aerial views of the track.  I believe that's one of the tools Randy Moss used in calculating run-up times for his pace figures.
I disagree about the gallop out as Cost of Freedom seemed to do it on his own, and he really looked good heading into the clubhouse turn.  With gallop outs, I think it's necessary for a horse to cool down properly after a taxing race, and Cost of Freedom didn't show a lot of fatigue for a horse that had just run a career-best effort.    I'd have been more concerned if Street Boss blew right by him in the half a furlong after the race, but Cost of Freedom just galloped away from Street Boss, and looked fresh as a daisy.  Anyway, trip handicapping is beautiful because it's so subjective.  We saw the same thing, and analyzed it in completely different ways.  Who's right?  Perhaps we'll find out in the BC.  Thanks for sharing some interesting thoughts!


hey bloggers. just wanted to see if anyone else was wondering, yet again, about the ride on In Summation sat. in the Ancient Title? i feel like every time he races, he is always pinned down on the inside, with nowhere to go, and he looks like a bet-back every time, but never delivers. I think i am done with him.

I don't think you can ever count In Summation out over a synthetic surface.  His career has been resurrected by the artificial stuff, and he always seems to give an honest effort.  In the Ancient Title, he was bottled up behind horses at the top of the stretch, and had to squeeze his way in between opponents soon after.  It looked like he was coming with a good run, but it seemed that he hopped onto his wrong lead and hit the wall at the eighth pole.  When he switched back to his right lead, he started running again.  I'm not going to play him if he runs in the Breeders' Cup.


Dan, what do you think of the race Fatal Bullet ran at Turfway on Saturday and also Bear Now, do either have a chance at the Breeders?  i thought they looked great-----Joe

Fatal Bullet is pretty quick, isn't he.  He set the track record at Turfway in gate-to-wire fashion after hopping at the start, and losing about a half-length right off the bat.  He was a bit late to change leads in the stretch, but turned the race into a procession.  The Breeders' Cup is going to be a tougher challenge, though, and I'll probably look for someone else in that spot.

Bear Now did everything right for the first six furlongs of her race, but I didn't like the way she came home.  She didn't change to her right lead until the eighth pole, seemed to drift out in the stretch, and I didn't like the way she galloped out after the race.  I think the Breeders' Cup will be a tall order if the big guns show up.


Does anyone know the story with Magnificence?  I saw that she finished third in a race over the weekend.  I thought she was just stellar last year and into the spring.  What do people think of her now?

I believe that the multiple injuries she's sustained throughout her career have taken their toll on the once-promising Magnificience.  It's a shame because her first few races were visually impressive, and hinted at great ability.

Back with HandiGambling 104 analysis and some more thoughts tomorrow.

Take care,


Mathieu More than 1 year ago
Although I think he’s constantly negligent in surrendering position near the front when it’s available to him I have to admit Leparoux can wind up and finish with the best of them. Maybe that’s his problem. His confidence becomes arrogance as he feels every horse he rides is Gorella in a NW2. * Has the SA speed turf bias been reversed as the rails were up 15 feet or more nearly every card since opening day and the rarely used inside is now the deep part of the course? * How about a Zenyatta Big Cap-Gold Cup-P Classic 2009 campaign? I’ve been calling for her to take on the boys since the Apple Blossom and now there are no more excuses. No warm up again for big Z today. Another amazing aspect of her story. * Becrux- GR 1 winner dropping into a NW3 spot at 14-1 without a price tag? 1st time Sadler “magic” to boot. The two favorites had never even taken a overnight stake. * Ventura ran a 21 4/5 quarter after a half mile. Through the turn no less. * Midnight Lute- Baffert’s asst. said he’s so big he nearly presses against the V of the front of the gate while the back gate contacts his rear. It makes sense that after he’s loaded he would naturally rock back and forth to keep his snout off the front. No wonder he’s had issues at the break in seven of his nine sprints. If he had an outside post, a sharp race in the last 4-8 weeks, a win in the last year, didn’t have lingering foot issues or the aforementioned gate problems, and the race was at 7Fs, Midnight Lute would be a deserving favorite in the Sprint as he is the most talented horse in the race. Also, his win last year was flattered by the race shape and a savvy decision by Gomez to grab hold and settle instead of making a rush to get closer after getting soundly bumped at the start. Idiot Proof and Talent Search went all out for a half mile while getting pushed by Commentator leaving very little for the stretch run, as evidenced by their final quarters in 26.10 and 26.40. The other three contenders, Benny the Bull, Greg’s Gold, and Smokey Stover, either had severe gate trouble or flat out didn’t fire. So while his 23.40 final quarter was visually impressive it came in what turned out to be highly agreeable conditions against a decimated field. Here is the chart of the race: http://www.drf.com/bc/2007/charts/07bc_sprint.pdf He truly is a rare talent. I just believe he has to overcome too much to run his race and even that may come up short considering the distance. * The sprint from Ascot (?) that TVG screened showing a pack of horses on both sides of the course was a kick. It didn’t even look like a horserace. And the width of the course could’ve been twice as wide or more than Santa Anita’s. * The temperature in Arcadia reached 92 degrees but ESPN used a laser thermometer on the Pro-Ride and it came in at 145. Bejarano wasn't kidding on day two when he said he had never been so hot in his life. * A Hank Goldberg thought bubble while stationed at the same desk as Jessica Pacheco-“It’s been a long time since I’ve sat next to a girl this good looking that I didn’t have to inflate."
glenn More than 1 year ago
We are blessed in 2008 with the 2 best female horses of our time, maybe of all time. They are the double z's -- zenyatta and zarkava. Zarkava has had her mettle tested against the very best, winning the arc with the greatest of ease against the best (older male) grass horses in training. Some say she ran the last 1/8th in ten seconds flat which does not seem possible. If you watch the video realize that it is soldier of fortune she is blowing by as if he were a 5k claimer. zenyatta has not yet been tested, would have been fun to see her run against Curlin -- god did she win easily today against a thoroughly overmatched field in the fillys and mares bc classic. Now the real question, if they had a match race would not be who would win but WHO WOULD HAVE THE LEAD TURNING FOR HOME!!!
Kyri More than 1 year ago
Calvin, Keep Thinking has raced -- he ran a nice second at Belmont the other day after being hard to load. Both colts you mention are on my watch list.
Laura More than 1 year ago
In the Miss Grillo, one of my picks (Laragh) was scratched, so here is the change for IM selections: WHO DO I LIKE? With a 70% chance of rain in the forecast, the turf will be at best, good and at worst, a bog. I suspect a longshot could win this race, so I’ll overlook the probably favorite, MEGACHURCH. CONSEQUENCE is one of the best bred fillies in this race and her conservative trainer, Shug McGaughey, must think she is something special by sending her to a graded stakes race in her second start. She won her only start over good ground. FREEDOM RINGS had excuses in her first start on turf and could be overlooked. COUNTESS SEAGRAPE is a live longshot. She’s bred to be a turf router, but has been running on the dirt. With Bittel Road out of the Pilgrim, I edited the IM to reflect the change as well as selections which now read: WHO DO I LIKE? With Bittel Road out of the race, the likely favorite could be the mystery horse, DUKE OF HOMBERG, who has won over soft turf. He gets first time Lasix and Edgar Prado. RELATIVELY READY has experience over good going and HERR MOZART showed his class by loosing to Bittel Road while giving that one experience. ELUSIVE BLUFF is very fast and could be a dangerous contender. PYNAFORMER could be a live longshot.
Alan More than 1 year ago
HandiGambling104 Aussie shipper #8 Prince Rexy was impressive 1st-out but although wide had a pretty easy trip (unlike the runnerup in that race.) The quality of the competition steps up today and at a short price (I assume he will be even less than his 3/1 ML), I'll play against him on top. #1 Nownownow and #2 Moral Compass are the two logical other win candidates. IMO Nownownow was going best at the end of the DMRDby and now gets 6lbs - I'm hoping Leparoux will work a better trip this time out. Moral Compass gets Gomez and 8f again and may have been best two back in the Oceanside. #4 Joe Bravo is a wild card - I have no idea if he's any good but he wasn't exactly dominating the competition in Brazil. #5 Bad Boy is intriguing - the gelding returns to turf and at times has been competitive against decent horses. If #7 T'aint War Sir is OK (big if - he was vanned off 2 starts ago), he is a live longshot - check out the downhill win here last year. I'm anticipating #3 Bright Prediction, #6 Global Heat, #10 Gabriel's Hill and #12 Kris Silver will be part of the pace scenario but not be around for the winning SUPER. Pending scratches, I'll key #1 and #2 (prefer #1 Nownownow) and include #5,7 and 8 to varying degrees on my tickets (add #4 to the SUPERs.) For my $100 contest wager: $10 WP #1 = $20 $6 EXBX #1,2 = $12 $4 EX #1,2/5,7,8 = $24 $1 EX #5,7/#1,2,5,7,8 = $8 $0.50 SUPER #1,2/1,2,5,7,8/1,2,5,7,8/1,2,4,5,7,8 = $36 Good luck to all HandiGamblers!!!
Kyri More than 1 year ago
For Handigambling 104, I'll take a chance on Joe Bravo as my top pick. At the moment he's 8-1. So: $20 to win on Joe $12 exacta box, Joe over Moral Compass (should improve) and Prince Rexy: $24 $2 trifecta box, adding also-eligible speedball Kris Silver to the mix:$48 Total: $92 $8 on beer I didn't make much note in my handicapping notebook of why exactly I like Joe Bravo. I assign a score to each horse but don't always save my work. It's partly a Frankel thing, partly that I thought he could improve, partly that I think Nownownow and Prince Rexy will both be overbet in a field where I can make a case for almost any horse.
nancyb More than 1 year ago
Since I posted to the last thread, just wanted to re-post the link to pix of Zenyatta. She's really something. http://web.mac.com/nbeningo/iWeb/zenyatta/Photos%201.html
Sobhy Sonbol More than 1 year ago
We have Herr Mozart in the Pilgrim G3 tomorrow. This is a very nice colt. His first race in the With Anticipation S. was very encouraging considering how green he was trying to come through at the hedge. I am not really sure how he will handle a soft turf course. If he takes to it I expect him to put in a good performance. Bittle Road will be running in Keeneland so that is one less we have to beat. We also have a firster entered in Keeneland opening day. His name is Sir Ben, He is a Fu Peg out of Sharp Minister. He is a quality colt but will need more ground and I will say he will need this race before he goes out to show what he is made of.
Calvin Carter More than 1 year ago
Uncle Steve, Am I surprised that Red Giant set a world record in the Clement Hirsch? Not really when you consider that Red Giant is a descendent of the great Northern Dancer. The Northern Dancer line of thoroughbreds is one of the most brilliant to ever race in the history of thoroughbred horse racing. Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and finished 3rd in the Belmont. In the Kentucky Derby, Northern Dancer set a new track record of 2:00. And many of Northern Dancer’s descendents have been record setters. Nijinsky was the 1970 English Triple Crown winner; Dance Smartly was the 1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner; Atticus set a world record of 1:31 4/5 in the Arcadia Handicap, just to name a few accomplishments of Northern Dancer descendents. So does that mean that Red Giant ranks among the all-time greats of thoroughbred racing? No. It just means that he is descendent of the great Northern Dancer.
Stephanie More than 1 year ago
A few whatever happened to... Maimonities-I know I misspelled Powerhouse Broken Vow I have more but cant remember now-will bring them up later Thanks to any who can help Stephanie