06/04/2014 3:02PM

Jack Milton - Ace in the Hole?

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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.

***

DAn,
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:

http://www.drf.com/blogs/stormin-track-record

http://www.drf.com/blogs/kalifornia-ko

http://www.drf.com/blogs/lying-wait

http://www.drf.com/blogs/potential-price-plays-sunday

http://www.drf.com/blogs/unstoppable-untapable

http://www.drf.com/blogs/kentucky-derby-non-opinions

http://www.drf.com/blogs/davona-dale

http://www.drf.com/blogs/can-hudson-landing-still-go

http://www.drf.com/blogs/tricky-elkhorn

http://www.drf.com/blogs/hail-mary-claim

http://www.drf.com/blogs/grounding-hawk

http://www.drf.com/blogs/cat-burglar-creeping-upward

http://www.drf.com/blogs/3-year-old-filly-sprinter-watch

http://www.drf.com/blogs/tale-two-wins

http://www.drf.com/blogs/beatable-favorites

http://www.drf.com/blogs/baker-cooks-calder

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-baby

http://www.drf.com/blogs/derby-prep-thoughts

http://www.drf.com/blogs/fishing-opinions

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-its-spring-again

http://www.drf.com/blogs/sprinter-rise

***

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

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.

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.

HANDIGAMBLING:

-  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!

Harpo
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A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED !
 
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A FRIDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL).

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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