09/09/2015 2:30PM

Ironicus preps for Breeders' Cup Mile


Wise Dan retired earlier in the week due to a torn tendon, but IRONICUS might be the one to slide into the two-time Horse of the Year's spot as the boss of the North American turf milers.

Trained by Shug McGaughey, Ironicus showed off an electric stretch kick when overwhelming six others in Monday's Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga. The final time of 1:38.54 established a new Mellon Turf Course record for 1 1/16 miles and Ironicus received a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

After breaking from the inside post as the even-money favorite in the Bernard Baruch, Ironicus settled into a ground-saving position at the rear of the field while Grade 1 Donn Handicap winner CONSTITUTION, making his turf debut, sped away to a lonely lead. Constitution threw down quick splits of 23.32, 46.36 and 1:09.44 while being chased by multiple Grade 2 winner VYJACK and multiple Grade 3 winner GRAND TITO.

On the backstretch, Ironicus and jockey Javier Castellano eased to the two-path while covered cup. The pair split horses on the far turn, altered course to the four-path swinging into the stretch and roared down the center of the track to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths over Grand Tito and ALL INCLUDED. Constitution faded to fifth. According to Trakus, Ironicus ran his final 2 1/2 furlongs in a sprightly 28.40 seconds.

A homebred owned by Stuart Janney, Ironicus was foaled in Kentucky on April 20, 2011. The gray colt is by champion sire Distorted Humor out of three-time stakes-placed dirt router Meghan's Joy (by A.P. Indy), and is a half-brother to Grade 3 dirt route winner Hunting, Grade 3 turf route winner Quiet Harbor, Grade 2 dirt route winner Norumbega and multiple stakes-winning turf router Seal Cove. This is the female family of Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes winner Sea Hero.

Like many McGaughey-trained runners, Ironicus has improved with maturity. Although he displayed talent from his first day on the track, his propensity for slow starts from the gate coupled with an early injury limited him to only one maiden win from his first five races at two and three.

This year, Ironicus has put it all together. He rallied from last to win an 'n1x' allowance at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream on January 31, ran a closing second in a key race 'n2x' over "soft" ground at Keeneland on April 15 and powered home to grab the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.

Ironicus missed a scheduled assignment in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont due to a cough. Instead, he returned in an 'n3x' optional claimer at Belmont on July 8. By far the class of that field, Ironicus won comfortably.

He made his first start of the Saratoga meet in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at a flat mile on August 15. Far behind moderate splits, Ironicus and Castellano were spun six wide turning into the stretch. The colt gave a determined late effort to miss by a scant neck. It could be argued that he was best considering he was up against the race flow and had to go so wide at a crucial juncture.

Although bred to appreciate longer distances, McGaughey has kept Ironicus at middle-distance races on turf. One must wonder if he is a "tweener" in regards to the Breeders' Cup. While the 12 furlongs of the Turf might be too far, the Mile could be too sharp for him. It's possible he's best at 1 1/16 miles, but considering his current form, top connections and the dearth of North American-based Grade 1-level competitors in the division, Ironicus should be considered a strong contender in the Breeders' Cup Mile.


Here are the WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 9/1/15 - 9/7/15 

1. LIAM'S MAP - 114 - Woodward Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 5Sep15-10SAR
2. STONETASTIC - 109 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 1Sep15-9PRX
3. CLEARLY NOW - 102 - OC 80k/C -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 3Sep15-8SAR
3. IRONICUS - 102 - Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 7Sep15-9SAR
3. MELMICH - 102 - Elgin Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - 2Sep15-3WO
6. PURE SENSATION - 101 - Turf Monster Handicap (G3) - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 7Sep15-9PRX
7. CAVORTING - 100 - Prioress Stakes (G2) - 6 Furlongs - 6Sep15-10SAR
7. UZZIEL - 100 - C.E.R.F Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 6Sep15-3DMR
9. GUNS OF STEEL - 99 - Alw 33040N1X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 2Sep15-5PEN
9. TOURIST - 99 - More Than Ready Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 5Sep15-9KD
9. UNFORGETTABLE U - 99 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 7Sep15-10DMR
12. ALERT BAY - 98 - Rolling Green Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 7Sep15-6GG
12. BIG MACHER - 98 - Pirate's Bounty Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 7Sep15-4DMR
14. OM - 97 - Del Mar Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 6Sep15-7DMR
15. ALFREDO ROMANA - 95 - OC 40k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 5Sep15-12SUF
16. CHAMPIONOFTHENILE - 94 - Md Sp Wt 73k - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 4Sep15-7SAR
16. FLORIDA WON - 94 - Presque Isle Downs Mile - 1 Mile (Tapeta) - 6Sep15-5PID
16. TEXAS RYANO - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 5Sep15-10DMR
16. WORLD APPROVAL - 94 - Saranac Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 5Sep15-8SAR
20. DUFF - 93 - Roanoke Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 5Sep15-8PRX
20. LIVING THE LIFE (IRE) - 93 - Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 7Sep15-5PID
20. NO SILENT - 93 - OC 62k/N2X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 3Sep15-7DMR
20. PETROCELLI - 93 - Clm 20000 - 7 Furlongs - 6Sep15-5SAR
20. RALIS - 93 - Hopeful Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 7Sep15-10SAR
20. STREAMSIDE - 93 - Alw 32934NC - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 7Sep15-3GG

*LIAM'S MAP's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

I'll be at Woodbine on Saturday for a handicapping seminar. We'll discuss Sunday's graded stakes and the Saturday card. If you happen to be at the track, please come by. I'd love to chat with any FormBloggers.

You can find more information at the link below:


I owe you an answer regarding our CHALKY. Now that you know what a PGH is :)
CHALKY is our infamous Formblog mascot who really does exist. She is a small furry weasel stuffed animal, gifted to ALAN several years ago. Alan was always kidded about his penchant for betting the 'chalk', so he named her Chalky and deemed her a Blue Thong.
Chalky has had many photo opportunities at several tracks around the country. She has been to Formblog conventions at Arlington Park and Gulfstream Park- along with informal get togethers at Arlington Park, Del Mar, Saratoga, Monmouth Park, Churchill Downs and road trips in Kentucky. She was part of the 2009 Blue Thong Calendar :) She has made several appearances (and friends) at the NHC in Las Vegas and even managed to squeak some air time on set with Dan Illman and Matt Bernier last January. ( okay, one had to look really quick for that one !)
When she is not being a travel diva and decked out in her bling', she lives with her Aunt SR Vegas here in town.
Chalky is also a proud member of Formblog. Her favorite wager is a 'show' bet on the favorite and is a happy MKB owner. OM being her latest pick from Annie and the Magic Genie.
Raise your hand if you have met Chalky! Perhaps, if I can get a picture of her to Dan he'll share it on his thread ?
SR Vegas

SR Vegas has kindly sent in a picture of our mascot. You can find it at the bottom of this blog post.


Great piece on the Travers - thanks. I have just watched the race 3 times straight off, and it gets better each time. One for the memory archives. Can I ask, and please excuse my effrontery, but I wonder in what sense do you put the victory down to KEEN ICE's "superior stamina"?
Best Regards - Bernard Downes

KEEN ICE's greatest asset is his stamina. He'll always be running at the end of his races, no matter the distance. Whether he is a winner of not is ultimately determined by the race shape. If there's pace and hitting up front, Keen Ice will benefit. If there isn't, and he is forced to run against the flow, he could be in big trouble.

In the Belmont and Haskell, AMERICAN PHAROAH set legitmate fractions, but wasn't pushed to the extent that FROSTED hounded him in the Travers. Keen Ice ran at the end of both races, but couldn't overcome the pace dynamics.

The Travers featured a more contested pace and the race turned into a two-furlong stretch battle royale. Of the three major contenders at that juncture of the race, Keen Ice, considering his pedigree and the stamina he has shown in his races, was less likely to feel the effects of the demanding distance, especially since he wasn't part of the pace scrum.

As I mentioned in the piece, Keen Ice ran a corker. He was able to stay within range despite the pace quickening drastically the middle part. Turning into the stretch, both Frosted and American Pharoah were on fumes. Keen Ice's stamina allowed him to stay on in the latter stages. He certainly wants 10 furlongs more than Frosted. American Pharoah obviously has stamina, but he was pushed too hard the middle part.


Hard to believe the time differential in Kings Bishop vs Forego produced the Beyer disparity among the winners. Private Zone is a warrior - would love to see his pp's.

PRIVATE ZONE's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Congrats to Rkcassellberry for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling tournament.

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

Let's go with Saturday's Kentucky Turf Cup from Kentucky Downs for this week's exercise. 


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

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. We are 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.


Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




LIAM'S MAP.pdf651.74 KB
Chalky.JPG40.79 KB
HGKYTURF.pdf196.27 KB
Stephen MacDonald More than 1 year ago
Wednesday Spot plays.... Belmont Race 7 #7 Even Bette $300 // $600 Breeding, Price, long Layoff????, Gets Castellano!! Race #8 #10 Upstate Bird $300 // $600 Gets in light, price, Lezcano pops one.... Race #9 #9 Lotza Heat $300 // $600 Price, Figures good, Arroyo wins nightcap... $10 Pick 3 5,7 // 4,6,10 // 6,7,9,12,13. 2 x 3 x 5 = $30 x 10 tickets = $300 good luck all Whackymacky out!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Curt V, Thanks for the Keeneland info. Yes, if you could only see my face. You would see a MASSIVE smile. How could it be otherwise when we have here the Blog's oldest running gag? Rodney sets out the true position succinctly. Equally importantly, as an intelligent observer of the game, and as much as it may hurt you to admit it, you know you have never seen a better horse on grass than FRANKEL. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Rodney . More than 1 year ago
Franker....a horse I've never heard of... Frankel. 14 races ....won every one of them, some so easy it was ridiculous at the highest level. 10 Group 1's in Europe is ducking nobody. Seattle Slew....is he even the greatest dirt horse? Secretariat fans certainly don't think so.....
Curt Vassallo More than 1 year ago
Bernard & for Cathy{TBTA}, Here's the link for the track configuration @Keeneland. Do note they 2 finish lines. All but the 1 1/16 dirt races use the further finish line. I have the stretch @1236 feet for the longer finish line. Don't be talking about dialects. The English use the most impossible one on the planet. Sort of like having the greatest this & that from week to week. U know Ur greatest horse of all time, this week. I sure hope U saw the link to the Franker. They needed to mention the real greatest, SEATTLE SLEW in order to give it some reality. Heck, the Frankler ducked everybody. Cheers. If I only could see Ur face right now..heehee.. https://www.keeneland.com/racing/track-configuration Curt V.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Annie and SR Vegas, My last word on the not too important subject of DRF Live..... No disrespect was intended to New Yorkers. SR Vegas is correct, we have our own problems with regional dialects in the UK. I think I am right in saying that at least one British comedy show had to have sub titles added before it was exported overseas. And to be absolutely fair, the two guys gave out at least 2 rock solid confident winners during the short time I watched. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Bernard ..."I take it they were 2 New Yorkers speaking. Do folks on the West Coast and in the Mid West have any difficult understanding? "... Though I did not hear the audio/ video you listened to over the weekend... In General ....YES ! being from the west coast , and when traveling thru the states, I may have to focus and listen to what someone says . No matter where I visit. There is a regional difference to hear and understand. BTW, I've also been told that I have an accent and I am hard to understand, being from the West coast . HA! I guess it could be as varied as the regions in the UK :) Cheers! SR Vegas
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
LADY ELI FANS She is headed to the farm for the fall, after a successful treatment and recuperation from laminitis in her two front feet. (after stepping on a nail after her win in the Belmont Oaks) and if all goes well, we shall see her for a return as a 4 yo. On a sad note, earlier this month one of her treating podiatrists Robert Ange was killed in a vehicular accident in Vermont. RIP . The article link : http://www.drf.com/news/lady-eli-making-progress-heads-farm SR Vegas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard, I hear there is a new course being considered: North American as a second language. :) Annie
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
I think New England vs Green Bay for Super Bowl 50!! I will post it and leave it at that...:) Ok, look for a horse named Juba running at Belmont this week or next. You will get 4-1 on this speed ball...will go wire to wire....training great and breathing fire.... My champ Honor Code is running on the first Saturday in October. Best horse in training at the moment. By far.... Stay tuned for more updates...I hear Lucas has heart issues. Amazing that he is 80.... I do question some. Of his decision's on running these horse's so much!!! Tell me WHY??? Look at Mr Z's running lines!!! Really? My God! Travel? Spacing? Doesn't want to miss a race? I am all about the horse first!!!! What if that horse breaks down and dies!!!! Lucas will be crucified!!!!! Just my thoughts....please add in to this troubling discussion my friend's. I hope that I am not the only one that see's this...a bad deal for all involved!!! Whackymacky Out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Annie, Thank you for the clarification of your "middle name today". Most useful for future occasions. But when I mentioned that DRF Live broadcast my tongue was only partly in my cheek. I genuinely found it VERY difficult to understand what they were saying. Is it simply an England / US problem? I take it they were 2 New Yorkers speaking. Do folks on the West Coast and in the Mid West have any difficult understanding? I know some have complained on here about the lack of volume, but this was a lack of clarity, not volume. I agree with you about the rapid approach of the Breeders Cup. I am looking at every current Stakes winner over here as a possible BC entry, but I have yet to see a standout candidate. That said, I am sure Europe will find some to give you a run for your money. By the way, can you (or anyone) tell me about the configuration of the Keeneland racetrack. What is the length of the finishing straight for example? Best Regards - Bernard Downes