08/28/2013 3:20PM

Havana Smoked 'Em


Perhaps we received a glimpse into the future when HAVANA smoked a juvenile maiden special weight field at Saratoga on August 23. 

By first-crop sire Dunkirk, the runner-up in both the Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes in 2009, Havana sold for $50,000 as a yearling before being purchased for $575,000 at the Barretts March auction.  At that sale, Havana worked a furlong in a sparkling 9.3 seconds. 

Although Dunkirk appreciated a distance of ground, Havana's female family is full of sprint influences. As expected, Havana broke right to the front and took pressure from KENDALL'S BOY, a newcomer from the Tom Amoss barn.  Havana had to work, but he completed his 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.64, one-fifth of a second off the track record.

"I didn't want to abuse him down the lane, but I had to make sure to keep his mind on running," jockey John Velazquez told NYRA Communications following the victory. "I had to spank him and make him run away from that other horse, but he did it well. He definitely is a very good horse. We like him; I just didn't think that we were going to have to give him a hard race right off the bat."

"It didn't surprise us [Havana] broke alertly and showed speed," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "I was happy to see him put in the performance he did. He's trained well enough and he ran well enough today that something like the Champagne [Grade 1, October 5, Belmont Park] might make sense."

Kendall's Boy and third-place finisher CHOMSKY both took their shot at Havana and have lots of promise.  MISCHIEVIOUSLY, the fourth-place runner trained by Shug McGaughey, should be tighter for his second start.

*TAMAZULA, a juvenile filly by Two Step Salsa, improved her Beyer 39 points to win second-out over the Arlington polytrack.  A $25,000 yearling that resold for $60,000 in April, Tamazula earned a 91 Beyer for trainer Armando De la Cerda. Look for Tamazula next in the Arlington-Washington Futurity.

*He didn't win his return to the races at Saratoga on August 24, but BRADESTER looks like a 3-year-old to follow for trainer Eddie Kenneally.  A 93-Beyer winner around two turns at Gulfstream on New Year's Day, Bradester seemed to be on the Derby trail, but was soon sent to the farm for some rest and recuperation.  He returned in a seven-furlong, 'n2x' optional claimer against some salty older foes and finished a rallying second under Jose Lezcano. 

*He is a very talented horse, but it must be stated that VERRAZANO's Travers effort was one of the worst performances by a favorite in that historic race.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (8/19/13 - 8/25/13):

1. GAME ON DUDE - 113 - Pacific Classic (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Polytrack) - Del Mar
2. WILL TAKE CHARGE - 107 - Travers Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - Saratoga
3. ROYAL DELTA - 105 - Personal Ensign Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
4. CAPO BASTONE - 102 - King's Bishop Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
4. HAVANA - 102 - Md Sp Wt 80k - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Saratoga
6. DIMENSION (GB) - 100 - Play the King Stakes (G2-C) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Woodbine
6. FED BIZ - 100 - Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - Del Mar
6. SR. QUISQUEYANO - 100 - Eight Miles East Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Gulfstream
9. WILD DUDE - 99 - Md Sp Wt 76k - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
9. WINNING PRIZE (Arg) - 99 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
11. OBVIOUSLY (Ire) - 97 - Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
11. VITORIA OLIMPICA (Brz) - 97 - Alydar Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
13. IMAGINING - 96 - Idle Rich Stakes - 1 3/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
13. LAUGHING (Ire) - 96 - Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
13. PHIL DANCER - 96 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Parx
16. FAVORITE PATRIOT - 95 - Alw 31000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Timonium
17. DANCE TO BRISTOL - 94 - Ballerina Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
17. IFOUNDMY MOJO - 94 - OC12k/SAL7k - 6 Furlongs - Canterbury
17. PALACE - 94 - Chowder's First Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Saratoga
17. SAYAAD - 94 - Dance of Life Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Saratoga
17. SUMMER FRONT - 94 - Cliff Hanger Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Monmouth
17. TAMAZULA - 94 - Md Sp Wt 38k - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
23. WARBIRD - 93 - OC30k/SAL16k - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
24. DO I AMUSE YOU - 92 - OC 14k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
24. LUCK WITH A KISS - 92 - OC14k/SAL7k - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
24. MAGIC UNION - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Del Mar
24. SWEET ASSAY - 92 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Del Mar

*GAME ON DUDE's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Mr. Illman,
Any chance I could get PPs posted for two horses from the last decade?
Kathy Lynn
Kathy's N Angel
[Yes, something of a theme here, I know].
Robert O

You can find the lifetime past performances for those two horses at the bottom of this blog post.


Dan, there was a old war horse that owned the downhill turf course back in the day at Santa Anita and raced under Bob Bafferth, I believe he was called Viva El Capitan...not sure if beyers were out back then but would love to see his pp's!

His lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Is there any way to find out what has become of the mare Donation? She is best known as the dam of Lawyer Ron. I am curious for purely personal reasons, she was one of my favorite horses I ever rubbed (when she was a fat 2yo). If possible, I'd like to visit her and feed her some licorice; but I have no idea who owns her anymore. Any info would be great.
Stable Girl

Donation was purchased by Stonestreet Farm in 2007 and foaled a Distorted Humor filly the next year.  That was her last foal. 

You can contact Stonestreet at the following e-mail address for more information on Donation:


There is a lovely photo of Donation on one of Barbara Livingston's blogs on our website:



Dan could you explain something to me, on the Tomlinson ratings sometimes there is an asterisk mark on the right side of the numbers. What does the asterisk mark mean? Sometimes when I handicap I look at the first time starter or starters Tomlinson or if weather is bad or horse that never ran on an off surface I like to look it as part of the puzzle. Sometimes there is an asterisk mark on the right side of distances. What does that mean too? Thanks!

Here's the explanation from our Tomlinson primer on the drf.com site:

"Runners whose sire and/or damsire have relatively small samples (fewer than 80 runners), are listed with an asterisk (*) following the rating. Experience has led me to believe that small samples must be looked upon with a cautious eye. In fact, I would be inclined to favor a a solid rating of, let's say, 380, over a rating of 400* which has an asterisk attached."

The entire primer can be found at the following link:



I was talking to my co-worker and she takes care of a old thoroughbred. 26 years old and going strong. He has Seattle Slew bloodlines and went by the name: International Slew. It looks like this horse stayed in the northeast and ran at Penn Nat and Laurel. If possible would you have any PP's for him?

International Slew's lifetime past performances are available at hte bottom of this blog post.


Dan - any chance you can publish lifetime PP's for Miss Dolan's Rose? I flipped on TVG last night and just happened to catch her winning a race at Mountaineer. Not a frequent winner, but a hard knocker, and I did have her at a decent price a couple of years ago at BEL. Thanks!
Bill Duncliffe

The pp's for Miss Dolan's Rose are available at the bottom of the blog post.


The weekend handicapping videos should be up on the homepage later this week.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Swede for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling contest.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Let's go with Saturday's Woodward at Saratoga for this week's race.


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.


I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/concerns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.COM and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!



Best of luck to all.

GameOnDude.pdf69.97 KB
Kathys.pdf67.53 KB
Viva El Capitan.pdf56.54 KB
InternationalSlew.pdf59.11 KB
MissDolan'sRose.pdf66.48 KB
Copy of Formblog Travers Saratoga 8-24-13.xls67.5 KB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ron Z, Thanks for your further response - I hope you don't find my interest too intrusive. I have been VERY interested in people, and in people's choices for ages. Over here we call it "being nosy". I would be no good in your Town with no taxi cabs. I virtually live in them here in London. It was funny a couple of weekends ago. I visited a friend who lives in one of those quaint old English country villages you may have read about in detective novels, or seen on the Cinema. Just ONE single taxi cab serves the whole village and because we booked it so often over the course of the weekend, the locals were left a little short on several occasions. They were not happy apparently, but at least our spending was good for the local economy. You do seem very strong minded in your attitude to professional sports. I also deplore lots of things about most modern sportsmen, including a particular problem in Britain where some foreign athletes and footballers will not compete here because of our comparatively punitive tax laws. They are earning thousands and thousands of pounds, but they want special treatment to avoid paying a fair share of tax. GREED. However, unlike yourself, I am afraid I am too reliant on watching my team sports. I would be lost without it. That St Leger horse, EXCESS KNOWLEDGE. Currently trading at 4/1, he is second favourite. I agree with you about the favourable influence of Monsun, and the trainer loves the race. EXCESS KNOWLEDGE has only one win from 5 starts, but it is widely accepted that he should have won a Group 3 race last time out where his jockey dropped a rein. However, being a contrary person I have taken the opposite view and have bet the winner of the race, CAP O RUSHES, to repeat on Saturday - 20/1 seemed too tempting. We will see. You mentioned French racing. Is this a new service you are getting? I wouldn't presume to tell you, not even advise you, but you may wish to consider a 'given' in assessing French racing. You may have seen my many references on here to Eurojogs, whereby most Euro races have a very slow early pace, and then a mass acceleration at the end. In France, those tactics are even more pronounced. Even their very best horses dawdle in the early stages of a race. Sorry for babbling on so long. Good luck yourself. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard No pulling your leg this time. TV has not been an option in our house for a few years now. Besides, I can get lost on YOUTUBE for hours listening to music, watching/listening to something educational or the art of cow tipping. Home before dark is also my preference as my night vision isn't as good as it once was. Like you, I imbibe occasionally and there are no taxi cabs here, only police cabs. If I go to a bar and say Secretariat was the best horse ever, I just get glassy eyed glances and then back to the glass, but if I go in a bar and say "Dale Earnhart Jr. sucks!" , I can start a brawl. I haven't watched professional sports since the majority of the athletes changed their mindset from "I owe the fans " to "The fans owe me". I will say that when I do catch a glimpse of the games, the athletes are stronger and surprisingly faster overall. The St. Leger Back when I was first introduced to racing at the New Mexico State Fair, the getaway race was always the Con Jackson Memorial at 1-13/16th of a mile, (on dirt though) close to the distance of the St Leger. If Excess Knowledge runs, what do you think of his chances? The sire, Monsun, seems to throw some distance runners and Excess Knowledge finished 2nd in a mile and a half G3 race in his last. I'm looking forward to the chance to be co-mingled with the French racing and see if there are any opportunities there. Best of luck this weekend Ron Zuercher
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Groupie Doll Count me among the doubters going in but not so much coming out. At 1-2 odds I boxed 4 horses for a buck without GD due to some hefty payouts then watched the race. What I saw was good effort by a champion running back at distance she is now 3 for 3 at. The early fractions were white hot at 21.87 and 44.10. I have GD coming home in around 30.30. For a brief second I wondered if the former claimer Purely Hot was going to finish off the upset but GD was simply too much to handle. Both exacta horses ran very nice races. Sometimes when races go this fast early the closers appear to be flying late. I did not get that visual but the stopwatch said track record so give the champion her due. The local horse took a ton of play and now is 7-6-1-0 at PID. Whoever did the ML for this race was a bit off. Sounds of the City at 6-1 versus a mare like Groupie Doll was a bad miss. SOC went off 35-1. Winning image was 4-1 ML but had zero chance of that happening. She was off at 10-1. Sometimes I wonder if tracks are hestitant to put out a realistic ML. Most savvy bettors knew you were looking at sub even money on the champ. The 1-2 was below even my estimation though. I would not touch it with free money but for those that thought GD was a cinchat fifty cents on a dollar for 74.88 seconds of work were satisfied. I hope we see Groupie Doll once more before the BC. Nicely done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ron Z, Ned Daly and DavidM9999 (and Curtis), Thanks for the responses. Playing hard on Saturdays and Sundays seem a theme. A thumbs up for also watching football, even your stuff. Bet the short prices this year, ALABAMA in the college game and the 49ers for the Superbowl. Also my massive support for knocking NASCAR or any form of car racing. How anyone can prefer to watch pieces of metal race round and round and round, rather than a beautiful animal stretching out on a pristine piece of green grass, I will never understand. Don't get me wrong, horse racing is a minority sport over here as well, but it is definitely holding its own at the moment. Its nice to think that we have some high profile racing still to come this year - Champions Day at Ascot, Arc weekend at Longchamp and then, hopefully, some quality Euro horses over at Santa Anita in the Breeders Cup. Talking profile, can I give a shout out for the St Leger to be run at Doncaster on Saturday. I always smile (in a friendly way) when I see discussion about Saratoga's great history, 150 years or not. The St Leger was first run in 1776, and in all the years since, covering however many domestic and international crises, not to mention 2 World Wars, I believe the race has been run EVERY YEAR bar one. It is now totally unfashionable with the modern breeding fraternity, on the apparent basis that if a 3 year old can race 14 furlongs, it must be as slow as old boots. Whatever, the race still produces great excitement. Give it a watch if you can. Please excuse me Ron but I am not sure if you were being factual, or simply pulling my leg. Home before dark??? No TV??? Are you taking a moral stand against the modern world? I did like your "aversion to gambling" phrase. However, given the huge number of losing bets I made last weekend, if you don't call it gambling, you would have to describe it as giving away my money to deserving charities - the British Bookies. Be lucky everyone. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Mike Savage More than 1 year ago
Dan, Thanks for your promotion of Canterbury Park this summer! As a Minnesota horse player I loved watching your videos as you handicapped the late pick 4 on Thursday nights. Thanks for the good times! Quick question, our track played host to a pretty cool race this summer: The Shakopee Juv. Stakes; General Jack romped home and seemed destined for a start in the BC Juv Turf. He was scratched as the ML fave in the With Anticipation stakes at Sar. Any word on him? Is he hurt? It was great to see a glimpse of glory at beautiful Canterbury this summer :) Mike
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard Racing is an eight to ten hour endeavor on Saturdays and Sundays. I too will get up early and peruse the Form and make my picks before "going to the track". (Sitting in front of my computer). And as I have this aversion to gambling, if I don't have my picks prepared beforehand, then I will just watch and take notes as my past history is not often dotted with horses I have picked on the fly. My notes are entered between races on Saturdays and Sundays so I still have my old man's life to live. I don't have a TV, so on the weekdays I have time to read Formblog and other news. I do miss As The World Turns though and Oprah. Going to the pub and talking racing in the states is laughable! The only "racing" is NASCAR. How do you do it? I love live music and I find it hard for me to leave the house to make it to the 4 pm live music we have here and get home by dark. Ned Daly's comment seems to have nailed it. Many of my friends and acquaintances have much more expensive hobbies than racing and spend as much or more time. Best Regards also Ron Zuercher
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Where in the world is SR Vegas ?? Annie, and Bernard Opening night at Sha Tin was incredible, with the pomp and celebrations, dragon dancers, and festivities at the race course and the crowds ! It had me and my husband, the infamous RAH, all in smiles. I just wanted to send a quick note to say Thank You ! to our over the pond friend Bernard for offering to carry our luggage :) BUT Your tip on Douglas Whyte did help me. On a beautiful, but muggy day, I had his number. I had his 4 races that came in the money ...I mean come into "place" money. Unfortunately, I did not wager such. It is a different betting (and mind) set here, than stateside. With a place wager going to horses who finish 1st-2nd- or 3rd. I did initially want to wager a 'place' bet on all his mounts, then reconsidered and changed them to "win". Heck, it was only minor wagers... so go for the gusto! My results in races #1 thru 4 that we wagered, D. Whyte had a 3rd-2nd-2nd- 1st !!! and I ended up about even for the day with my lone win wager. We left after the 4th race to catch the trains/subway back into the city . I looked at the remaining results later tonight, and the rest of his mounts came in 6th or worse . I believe we left at the right time :) Happy Valley would have been a great destination , as it is walking distance from where we are staying. We will be leaving for Macau on Wednesday morning. Happy Valley has opening night that evening and runs just once a week.Oh well ... onward and upward. Annie .. I'll check in again when we can :). Continued success everyone , and a shout out to YFL for an outstanding run at PH !! Dan our Man , hope you are enjoying a well deserved rest ! SR Vegas
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Bernard Racing does consume a large chunk of one’s life. I spend about 3-4 hours with DRF and video replays each on Saturday and Sunday mostly out in the warm sun on the patio. Then as you say we have the races themselves. I try to sprinkle in some football between races in the fall. It is a labor of love. As Ned puts it racing beats owning a boat or playing golf (I have an ugly slice). Thru the week I try to tune out a bit except when Saratoga or Del Mar or running then there is little relief. Slewster Yes, another Slewster scores with Cleburne. Personally, I downgraded him a bit coming from an Ellis Park MSW turf race. I figured if trainer Romans had a high opinion of him he would have went to SAR for the $70,000 MSW purses instead of the paltry $30,000 in Kentucky. That can be tricky logic. The come home time was also pedestrian in the debut but that can often be a function of the slow pace setters not in Cleburne’s control. In the end I should have viewed the debut race to see how much horse he had. I don’t do chalk often but did horizontally in that race. Ride on Curlin was the most impressive two year I have seen at Ellis Park since Roll on Baby crushed in her debut there a few years ago. His Iroquois race was a bit curious while wide and near the 46.61 pace. His missed race and some time in prepping for this may have factored but we shall see down the road. He could be a one hit wonder also. It was good to Dale Romans win a few this weekend around the country. He had been down a bit in 2013 after a tremendous run. Presque Isle Masters This should be a fun race to watch. I want to see if Groupie Doll rebounds from her loss in the Gardenia. I played against her in that spot at her miniscule odds. That day she had some adversity but champions generally overcome trouble in what I considered a relatively easy grade 3 spot. I thought she flat hung that day but she may have needed to shake off the rust. I expect her to be near even money or below tonight. From the PP’s and races shown there is no graded stakes winners or placed horses in the field outside Judy the Beauty (another Ghostzapper bargain at $20,000). For me even money horses should not have any question marks. GD has one to answer. The allowance conditions and GD at 112 may need a re-thinking for future runnings. With this kind of purse and the race becoming a BC prep maybe assigned weights makes more sense. A decent turf mare I have been chasing recently, Sounds in the City, is entered with her at 6-1 ML. That is an atrocious ML price. I would need triple that to even play a single action win deuce in this spot. It would be nice to see GD return to her spectacular 2012 form giving us another star for BC weekend.
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Bernard, You did invoke my name, so here I am. You see research does pay off. I was caught off guard yesterday w/some unexpected guests. So, I didn't do my pedigree thing Slew. My bad Bernie. Let's take that Capper race @CD's, R7 w/CLEBURNE{2yr. old}. According to the DRF he was the highest yearling purchase at 310K. Why you might ask. Well, here's how I see it. Yes Sir, he's a Double Slewster. Sire side he's by CAPOTE. Dam side he's by TSUNAMI SLEW. No Indy there. They are both Son's of WHO ? Hint>> Think SS.... This was his 2nd race{1st time Dirt} after closing & winning his initial bow on Turf, closing from 9 lengths back in a one mile tilt. He paid to the tune of 34-1. Hello SLEWSTER..... Anybody who knows me must have been scratching their heads wondering how I didn't have him. I told you why earlier.......Hello SLEWSTER....... Goodbye Bernie....... Curtis V Slewster...........Double S Ranch........
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Bernard I don't know about the others, but no need to worry about me. It is just a hobby. Less expensive than owning a boat, I don't need to wear the silly clothes required of golfers, and it is considerably less dangerous than keeping a mistress.