06/04/2014 3:02PM

Jack Milton - Ace in the Hole?


Close, but no cigar. That was the story of JACK MILTON's 2013 campaign for Todd Pletcher.

When he prevailed in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf during the Keeneland spring meeting, many folks believed that the War Front colt was sitting on a big year.

Then, it was one frustrating result after another. Close, but no cigar.

First, Jack Milton was beaten three-quarters of a length when third in the $400,000 Penn Mile.

Then, he was necked when third in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, a race in which he was shuffled entering the far turn and raced in traffic in upper stretch.

The following month, he finished third again, this time in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington.

On October 5, Jack Milton was beaten a length when, you guessed it, third in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap.

His only clunker following the Transylvania came in the Hollywood Derby, a race in which he failed to fire. That afternoon, Jack Milton finished sixth, beaten four lengths by Seek Again.

Since returning from a five-month layoff at Churchill Downs in May, Jack Milton has been a machine. Perhaps he's reached peak maturity. Perhaps he's finally found the killer instinct necessary to be a top graded stakes horse. Whatever it is, he's been very impressive in his two races this year.

Pletcher started Jack Milton back in an 'n2x' optional claimer at Churchill Downs on May 1, and Jack Milton stormed past Grade 3 winners Joe's Blazing Aaron (who returned to score with a 96 Beyer) and Cozzetti, stakes-winners Bim Bam, Depeche Chat and Strike Impact, and stakes-placed Stormy Going. It was a good confidence-builder for Jack Milton and he returned with a vengeance in last week's Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont.

The Poker featured millionaire ZA APPROVAL, a three-time Grade 3 winner that finished second to two-time Horse of the Year WISE DAN in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile. Other contenders included the speedy PEACE AND JUSTICE, stakes-winner BIG SCREEN and Grade 3-placed PLAINVIEW.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Jack Milton settled at the rear of the field while Peace and Justice ran off under Alex Solis. The fractions were quick for the mile distance as Peace and Justice rattled off splits of 22.57 and 45.45 while loose on the lead. Meanwhile, Castellano remained patient on Jack Milton. Then, on the final turn, Castellano angled Jack Milton off the rail and the duo surged to the front-runners with a four-wide sweep. Jack Milton took over the lead without a fight swinging for home and professionally sealed the deal, running his last quarter in 23.28 while completing the distance in 1:33.09. That final time was good enough for a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He knocked on the door several times in some nice races last year," Pletcher told NYRA Publicity following the Poker. "It's gratifying to see him win a big one. He certainly deserves it. I think he has improved as a 4-year-old, and he settled well today and gave a powerful kick. I think the mile distance suits him well, and we'll look at stepping him up a notch, maybe in a Grade 1 down the road."

Jack Milton sold for $100,000 as a yearling and was bought back for $190,000 the following March. He is a full brother to Peace Preserver, winner of the Grade 3 Noble Damsel Stakes at one mile on turf for Pletcher last summer.

The dam, Preserver (by Forty Niner), has also produced Grade 3-placed dirt router Stake, Grade 3-placed turf router My Rachel (also trained by Pletcher) and stakes-placed synthetic sprinter Dig Alittle Deeper.

Preserver is a full sister to Tourney, a filly that was multiple Grade 2-placed on dirt as a juvenile. A half-brother, stakes-winner Rail, won 15 times for earnings of over 255K.

With Jack Milton's Poker victory, Pletcher passed his mentor, D. Wayne Lukas atop the North American all-time earnings list.

Although Grade 1-placed at 10 furlongs, Jack Milton's kick might be best served at middle distances. With Wise Dan currently on the sidelines, the door is open for a good turf miler to gobble up some big pots. Perhaps the fellow to kick down that door is Jack Milton


I'll get to the Belmont in Friday's blog. As it stands right now, I'm using TONALIST and CALIFORNIA CHROME in multiple-race wagers and will play Tonalist to win at 8-1 or greater.

It will be very interesting to see how the race shakes out. California Chrome may wind up on the lead from his inside post and I expect GENERAL A ROD (who ran sneaky-well in both the Derby and Preakness) to be up close. SAMRAAT and Tonalist figure in the second flight.

At some point, I believe Tonalist will try California Chrome. We'll see if California Chrome treats him with total disdain, as he did Social Inclusion in the Preakness, or if the Clement colt can provide a stiffer challenge. If they knock each other out, or if only one survives that battle, it could set things up for RIDE ON CURLIN and the one-paced, long-winded COMMISSIONER.

Again, more in Friday's blog and on the DRF videos posted later this week.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/26/14 - 6/1/14:

1. DAWLY - 105 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
2. CLUBHOUSE RIDE - 104 - Californian Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - Santa Anita
2. JACK MILTON - 104 - Poker Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
4. EXCAPER - 101 - Connaught Cup (G2-C) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Woodbine
4. R FREE ROLL - 101 - U Can Do It Handicap - 6 Furlongs - Calder
6. FRAC DADDY - 100 - Eclipse Stakes (G2-C) - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Woodbine
6. LAST GUNFIGHTER - 100 - Mountainview Handicap - 1 1/8 Miles - Penn National
8. AMERICAN PRIDE - 99 - Md Sp Wt 56k - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
8. DELAUNAY - 99 - Aristides Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
8. KHARAFA - 99 - Kingston Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
8. GOOD LORD - 99 - OC 62k/N2X - 7 Furlongs - Churchill
8. SOUTHERN HONEY - 99 - Winning Colors Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
13. BET SEATTLE - 98 - OC 80k/N3X - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
13. CYCLOMETER - 98 - Los Angeles Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
13. NAJRAN BREEZE - 98 - Clm 20000N3L - 6 Furlongs - Canterbury
16. CAPTAIN SERIOUS - 97 - Mike Lee Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
16. GRAND CONTENDER - 97 - Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Lone Star
16. I'M STOKED - 97 - George W. Barker Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Finger Lakes
16. MISS SERENDIPITY (ARG) - 97 - Gamely Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Santa Anita
16. TIGHTEND TOUCHDOWN - 97 - Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Penn National
21. JOES BLAZING AARON - 96 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
21. SHARED BELIEF - 96 - Alw 37310NC - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Golden Gate
23. BOBBY'S KITTEN - 95 - Penn Mile Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Penn National
23. CREDIT REPORT - 95 - OC 30k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Prairie Meadows
23. MR. BAKER - 95 - Ponche Handicap - 6 Furlongs - Calder
23. PIRATE'S TROVE - 95 - Md Sp Wt 36k - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
23. ZIVO - 95 - Commentator Handicap - 1 Mile - Belmont

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


If you would be so kind, please post lifetime past performances for Waquoit and Medalgia D'Oro.
Dom DiNatale

They're available at the bottom of this blog post.


Dan, think it may be informative if you could post the pp's of old Kentucky hardboot Woody Stephens' five consecutive Belmont Stakes winners. Wonder if they have more in common than 4 of the 5 having names that begin with a 'C'
elwood bluze

The past performances for Woody's five consecutive Belmont winners are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below:























You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to JackStraw21 for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

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

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

The Belmont Stakes will be this week's HandiGambling exercise


The Belmont Gold Cup/Belmont Stakes Daily Double wager will also be allowed.

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 "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card 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!




DAWLY.pdf728.47 KB
Medaglia de Waquoit.pdf688.24 KB
CaveatCremeDC.pdf615.14 KB
Conquistador Cielo.pdf60.1 KB
Swale.pdf60.03 KB
Copy of Formblog Penn Nat Pick 4 5-31-14.xls72.5 KB
HGBELMONT.pdf193.16 KB
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
HG375 @BiG Sandy/the Belmont...... My 85 yr. old father, the Wise Old Al, called me to say don't bet the Belmont, Curt. I politely asked why. He said that horse who is the favorite is gonna win going away. I again asked him how come. He emphatically said, "I've been watching horses a long time Son, & can't you see the way that horse runs...He runs so easy. He was playing w/them in the Derby & the Preakness. He'll win by open lengths. Don't waste your money Son, watch the race.".................That is the truth. Okay Dad..Then I told him, I still have to go collect my Derby winnings...He again said, go get the money & come home..Okay Dad.... The HG Bet.....But, I will hedge a little w/Dan's money........ $1 Trifecta.............................................7-9/7-9/all...............................=$18 $1 Trifecta.............................................7-9/all/7-9...............................=$18 $9 Trifecta.............................................2-9/2-9/7-8.............................=$36 $18 Trifecta.............................................2/9/1......................................=$18 $4 Trifecta.............................................9/2/1......................................=$4 .50c Supers............................................2-9/2-9/1-7-8..........................=$6 TotaliZZZation........................$100.00.................I think........... Personally, I agree w/Dad. Cali Slew destroys this field. The two best horses should be there 1-2. That's Chrome & if he gets an ideal trip, maybe Wicked makes his move. & Cali Slew will have to have a BiG Hiccup. Afterall, it is the Belmont. This race is more influenced by the mistakes of the jockey. If Victor has the horse clear turning for home, it's like I've been saying a long time ago about Cali Chrome... You got a BiG problem trying to catch the backside of a Slewster on a mission. I know there are 6 other Slewsters here. U got to know Ur Slewsters. When U got Slewster, U got horse.. Curtis V Slewster...................
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the day late and a dollar short dept..I kept trying to figure out why Linda Rice kept scratching Marriedtothemusic out of races to place him in the True North today at Bel...I was a fan of the horse who has been pretty solid agst NYBs...did she think he might be able to blast out of the gate and wire em?....nope...he was in as Bugs Bunny to set a blistering pace for stablemate Palace,,,,I totally missed that angle and have the losing ticket to show for it. %$@# Dan (brutus)
Ed Kay More than 1 year ago
HG Belmont Too emotionally vested in this race to bet real money against CC. But HG gives a chance for a win-win. Watch CC sweep the crown, or win the HG. Now if only I had a clue who might beat CC, I could execute this plan. Well, not quite clueless (I hope). I agree with Jeff Siegel, “No horse that already has faced (and been beaten by) CALIFORNIA CHROME is cause for concern. Tonalist…” Mike Beer likes Tonalist, but says his speed figures are not nearly good enough to win the Belmont. Neither were Drosselmeyer’s. HG Wager: $100 win 11 Thanks, Ed Kay
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HG $100 ex 2/5 CC: what more can be said. just look at all the *Over Kill* on the home page of DRF ROC: best of the rest IMO GL thx Dan/Pnr Hot 'N' Nasty
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
cayman01; Nice! Stick around, friend. vs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cayman!!! Good to see you posting! Come around more often would you. Annie
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Caught an interesting comment from Victor Espinoza on War Emblem vs. California Chrome. He said that War Emblem was absolutely crazy and like a "steel pole''. He would just gather up the reins and grab mane because the horse would just take off and was uncontrollable. From personal experience at the Haskell, I used to be able to get into the backstretch and meet quite a few horsey celebs, but the year WE was stabled at MP, I was not allowed near the horse. Not because a Saudi prince owned him, but because the help said the horse was absolutely vicious and could not be trusted. Perhaps it was a good thing for the breed that he refused to "perform" his second job? nancyb, I agree with you about the yearlings being allowed to just hang out in the fields with their buddies. It makes them tough. An astute observer can also tell who is the alpha and who won't let anyone pass them while they play. For the folks that work on the farm, it is a great handicapping angle. It is my understanding that both Zenyatta and Rachel's first foals were alphas who just expected to be special. I can't wait to see them. Regarding Handigambling: There are some really funny comments about your bets and the horses. Thanks for giving me a laugh. JJ, I really wish you didn't turn me on to Belmont gate shenanigans. It worries me. Last night I was watching some video of CC in the gate. Appartently he doesn't get edgy until the horse on his right gets loaded. The head of the Belmont gate crew said his best guy "was going to be on CC". I hope that is true.
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Regarding the Andy Beyer article. Never ever have I felt the urge to call a respected writer or a man whose idea revolutionized an industry a "moron", but I almost wrote it as a comment at the bottom of his article. First, in a prior article, he called Lucky Pulpit, well bred. But he refers to CC as ill-bred. huh? Maybe he's a half-bred? :) Second, he didn't use one single thing he actually "saw" at the track in the last few races of each horse as a basis in his article or even use video of current actual workous, but then, Third, he completely disregarded HIS OWN NUMERICAL SYSTEM when choosing his picks. Either he is embarrassed and unwilling to accept his past picks lost the Derby and Preakness, stupid, senile or a very well paid, widely disseminated pot stirrer. Take your pick.................
Gary Gibbs More than 1 year ago
HG Belmont Well, since Slew has made an appearance I might as well! Looking at the Belmont I see very little that can beat Chrome. Let's go through them one by one. 1) MEDAL COUNT: I still see this horse as an synthetic specialist. He might be able to run for awhile but his form on dirt is completely lacking. Could clunk up underneath if everybody else falls apart which is quite possible. Soundly beaten in every dirt try but Ellis Park. 2) CALIFORNIA CHROME, Hard to see him losing unless something completely unforeseen happens. Espinoza falls off, equipment failure, goes to his knees at the break. He was geared down at the end in both the Preakness and Derby to leave some gas in the tank. Rain could make it interesting, but on a dry track he will be tough to beat. As for those who doubt his pedigree, you may have a point, but he had no trouble besting everybody in the first two legs. 3) MATTERHORN, the first of the Tapits in here. He loses ground in the stretch at a mile and an eighth. He's NOT a frontrunner. What makes the connections think he needs a mile and a half? Tapit's are good up to a mile and a sixteenth and maybe an eighth if the conditions are just right. Not happening......... 4) COMMANDING CURVE, definitely a pretender here. I had him in the Derby in the 3rd and 4th spots of my Supers and he surprised me by finishing second. Ran great and cost me a boatload.However, CD is the ONLY place he has run well. It is why I used him. A horse for the course as it were. I don't see him doing the same thing at BEL. He could surprise me again but so be it. 5) RIDE ON CURLIN, needs to be closer to the pace if he is going to have a chance at winning and that might take enough out of him to flatten him out in the lane. Still he should be passing horses late and figures to hit the board underneath somewhere. 6) MATUSZAK, I am guessing the owners think they have a SARAVA on their hands. Got spanked by KID CRUZ THREE times, and we found out what kind of pretender he was. If it pours down rain and the race completely falls apart he has a shot. If it is dry and the race falls apart he could blow up the Super finishing 4th. No real chance here. 7) SAMRAAT, a Noble Causeway bred to an Indian Charlie mare screams miler to me and that is exactly what he does best. Next year's Met Mile winner right here. He will scratch and claw for a mile and an eighth and then begrudgingly start going backwards. He gives 100% but he just isn't going to get the distance. 8) COMMISIONER, he might be able to run all day, but he has yet to beat anybody of any significance. He has a maiden and allowance wins by a combined half length. Id this this year's DROSSELMEYER ? I don't think so, but he could be around for a piece in the end. 9) WICKED STRONG, certainly has a chance vs. these. Had a lousy trip in the Derby but finished fourth. Made up little ground in the stretch of the Derby which is cause for concern. If he gets the perfect trip and something happens with Chrome's trip he could beat him. I do not see that happening. Chrome has enough tactical speed to get great position early. CC has slow breakers all around him. WS faces a tough task. 10) GENERAL A ROD, arguably has had the two worst trips in the TC races so far. EVERYTHING that could go wrong seems to have gone wrong for this horse in the first two legs. He needs to break well here. If he does he should give CC the best battle of any of these in here. Not a fan of Napravnik riding but it is what it is. Would have loved to have seen Bravo on him. He needs to get a clean break and some smooth sailing. If he does he is a threat. He will fight to the end. I can see him and CC separating themselves from the rest in the stretch if he gets a good trip. 11) TONALIST, I will be honest here. I don't see what all the fuss is about this horse. He won the Peter Pan on a sloppy sealed track. There is no chance of rain tomorrow. He hasn't beaten anybody near the top calibre horses in here. He is a Tapit which means he isn't making the distance. He got beat by Harpoon for gosh sakes. No way he has a chance in here, but please jump on the bandwagon so I can get better odds on my horses. Having said all that, I will stick with Chrome. I think it is conceivable that he and A Rod run 1,2 all the way around the track. Samraat and Tonalist will keep close for a mile and an eight but then fade and a couple of the closers should pick up the pieces for third and fourth. $10 TRI 2/10/ALL $90 $10 EX 10/2 cayman01
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the filly #7 Auld Alliance in the Gold Cup later today. She’s got class and stamina in her immediate pedigree. She won her maiden at 12F, she was beaten 2L at 14F as the highweight (133 lbs) giving 5 & 10 lbs in a Handicap vs. 2 geldings (challenged 2F out, evenly late) in her last in England, and so should get the 16F. She tuned up by winning at 10F at Belmont in May, and I thought looked good doing it, having to work her way off the inside in the stretch and kicking on well off a very slow pace on firm turf. Carries only 112 here, and gets Castellano. I’m doubtful she’ll stay at 12-1, but I’d take even 8-1 to play ATB and exactas to all top & bottom, with probably an extra EB with Twilight Eclipse. The exacta ought to pay well with the odds spread out widely behind TE, and if he finishes outside the top 2 it should pay very well. Most of these have gotten 12F pretty well at least once, but the extra 4F will be too much for someone. The 10 YO jumps horse is a curiosity, but he hasn’t done well in his last few flat races. Al