08/24/2009 3:53PM

A Jewel in the Rough


They can take down the "Diva in Training" sign from outside Careless Jewel's stall.  After her romp in the historic Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, she's a full-fledged star.  It seemed Murphy's Law was conspiring against the powder-gray filly from the moment she set hoof onto the Saratoga main track.  First, she dumped her rider, Robert Landry, to the dirt in a display of obstinacy.  Those other ladies would have to wait an additional minute or two until SHE was ready.  Once in the starting stalls, she threw a bit of a fit akin to if Mariah Carey has beefsteak tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes waiting in her dressing room before a show. 
Then, the all-important break.  The dirt oval at Saratoga seemed to favor horses racing off the inside, and jockeys had steered their mounts to the three or four paths throughout the day.  Landry, aboard the speedy Careless Jewel, seemed to be thinking the same thing.  He broke on top, but perhaps nervous of setting the pace on the deeper inside going, attempted to rate Careless Jewel off the lead, and the rail.  The strategy almost backfired as Careless Jewel had to check in behind horses going into the first turn.  Quickly gathering her composure, Careless Jewel did finally get off the inside, and tracked the overmatched pacesetter before disdainfully dispatching of that one entering the far turn.  Then, the other fillies seemed to be on another planet as all eyes were on Careless Jewel.  She drew away as much the best, and appears, Rachel or No Rachel, to have a bright future in this division.


Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:

*Philip H. Iselin (Mth):  CHIRAC (J. Cibelli/E. Trujillo) - 107
*Alabama (Sar):  CARELESS JEWEL (J. Carroll/R. Landry) - 106
*Troy (Sar):  AWAKINO CAT (L. Rice/A. Garcia) - 102
*Green Flash (Dmr):  CALIFORNIA FLAG (B. Koriner/J. Talamo) - 100
*Mile Hi (Yav):  HEADED FOR HOME (O. Saavedra/S. Duarte) - 100
*Sky Classic (WO):  MARCHFIELD (M. Casse/P. Husbands) - 100

*Remington Park Sprint Cup (RP):  GREELEY'S CONQUEST (G. Thomas/H. Theriot II) - 96
*Solomon Northrup (Sar):  PERFECT OFFICER (G. Weaver/R. Dominguez) - 96
*Canadian Derby (NP):  TOMMY DANZIGGER (R. Gilker/P. Alvarado) - 95
*Solana Beach (Dmr):  YOU LIFT ME UP (J. Hollendorfer/J. Rosario) - 93
*Eleven North (Mth):  WAY WITH WORDS (M. Eppler/E. Castro) - 92
*Charles Hesse III (Mth):  HERMOSILLO (S. DiMauro/P. Cotto Jr.) - 91
*Remington Park Filly and Mare Sprint (RP):  NADESHIKO (G. Foley/H. Theriot II) - 91
*Yaddo (Sar):  NEHANTIC KAT (B. Tagg/R. Maragh) - 91
*Leemat (PID):  WHISTLE PIG (A. Carter/D. Beckner) - 91
*Saratoga Special (Sar):  D'FUNNYBONE (R. Dutrow Jr./E. Prado) - 90
*Belle Geste (WO):  HELLO MAGGIE MAY (R. Attfield/C. Sutherland) - 90
*New Jersey Breeders (Mth):  LUCKY JAMES (E. Broome/P. Fragoso) - 90
*Lake Placid (Sar):  SHARED ACCOUNT (H. Motion/E. Prado) - 90

*From New York to Old York (Sar):  STARFISH BAY (T. Pletcher/E. Prado) - 89
*Sandy Blue (Dmr):  EXCESSIVE BLEND (C. Gaines/J. Talamo) - 88
*Frank Gall Memorial (CT):  RUSSELL ROAD (J. Casey/E. Camacho) - 88
*Adirondack (Sar):  WORSTCASESCENARIO (R. Violette Jr./A. Garcia) - 88
*Clever Trevor (RP):  GRAND SLAM ANDRE (S. Asmussen/C. Landeros) - 87
*Del Mar Oaks (Dmr):  INTERNALLYFLAWLESS (B. Baffert/G. Gomez) - 87
*New Castle (Del):  SECRETINTELLIGENCE (T. Ritchey/J. Caraballo) - 87
*Leon Reed Memorial (FL):  MR. WINDJAMMER (J. Buckley/G. Suarez) - 84
*Small Wonder (Del):  SOUTHERN TRUTH (J. Servis/D. Cohen) - 83
*Pearl Necklace (Lrl):  BLIND DATE (H. Smith/R. Homeister Jr.) - 81
*First Lady (Rui):  GOODBYE NORMA JEAN (H. Dominguez/R. Jaime) - 81
*Omnibus (Mth):  EXOTIC INDY (G. Forster/J. Bravo) - 80

*GCFA Accredited Texas Bred (Gil):  UNCLE ROSE (D. Pish/T. Collier) - 79
*Eternal Search (WO):  DOUBLE MALT (M. Pierce/E. Da Silva) - 78
*First State Dash (Del):  GOLDEN GHOST (M. Gorham/J. Rose), TOBOGGAN SLIDE (D. O'Ryan/W. Llegas) - 78 (DEAD-HEAT)
*Biogio's Rose (Sar):  SAPPHIRE SKY (D. Donk/J. Velazquez) - 76
*Sonoma (NP):  LA ROCCA (T. Jordan/Q. Welch) - 74
*Agassiz (AsD):  BRINELLO (C. Anderson/M. Anderson) - 73
*MTA Stallion Auction Laddie (Cby):  LUMPSINMYOATMEAL (C. Rosin/D. Butler) - 73
*City Centre Bingo Sweepstakes (MD):  MR. EXCESSIVE (E. Seesequasis/N. Samaroo) - 71
*Tax Free Shopping Distaff (Del):  SARAH CATALDO (R. Small/B. Hernandez Jr.) - 70
*City of Edmonton Distaff (NP):  SUMMER SONG (A. May/M. Gutierrez) - 70

*Columbus Maturity Matron (Cls):  SENORITA CONCHITA (H. Riecken/L. Ranilla) - 69
*Columbus Breeders' Special (fillies) (Cls):  MS. BUMPER (L. Staroscik/L. Ranilla) - 66
*Osiris (AsD):  RUBY'S BIG BAND (C. Smith/M. Anderson) - 64
*Henry P. Mercer Memorial (CT):  CAPTAIN KIRKLAND (P. Simpson/A. Rios-Conde) - 62

*Jack Hardy (AsD):  MORSEL (C. Smith/L. Delorme) - 59
*Columbus Breeders' Special (colts) (Cls):  DON'T BLUFF (A. Musquiz/R. Luark) - 56
*MTA Stallion Auction Lassie (Cby):  LAUNCH LIGHT GIRL (K. Von Hemel/P. Compton) - 55
*Cree Way Gas (MD):  AVENGING KAT (J. Hunter/N. Samaroo) - 53
*Distaff (AsD):  THUNDER SKY (C. Maxwell/A. Cuthbertson) - 53
*Lakeland Heritage (AsD):  SHY OF FIFTY (G. Gervais/N. Samaroo) - 52
*Miss Ohio (Tdn):  OHIO STAR (W. Connelly/J. McKee) - 51

*Shortgrass Heritage (MD):  J C'S ACTION (R. Gardipy/S. Rodrigo) - 46

*Western Heritage (colts) (MD):  BESNARD (F. Zdunick/N. Stephenson) - 26

*Western Heritage (fillies) (MD):  MARGE'S ACTION (F. Zdunick/G. Gordon) - 9

Here are the lifetime past performances of the highest and lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:

Download ChiracMarge


Hi Dan,
Do you think they were trying to rate Tuscan Evening in the Mabee on Sunday?  Coming from the one hole, I thought they'd gun for the lead and try to wire the field.  Of course, the way Magical Fantasy bullied her way to the front, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference...
Also, would it be possible to get the PP for my all time favorite horse, ABERGWAUN LAD?  I can remember watching him still running strong at age 9.

I think the connections were heartened by the fact that she sat just off Patricia's Gem in her prior start, and still was able to get the job done.  Drawing the inside gave them an option, and sitting the pocket behind the leader is a pretty good place to be on the turf.  She just didn't fire, and the way she backed up through the stretch makes me think that something went wrong with her during the race. 
Here's what I have on Abergwaun Lad:

Download AbergwaunLad


is it possible to generate "modern" pp's for phar lap in your software? do you know if the AC edition (from 1932) is in the collection?  when i see how chopped up some of the old pp's are (due i'm sure to software limitations) i'm so glad and proud to have my collection--even though it takes up 4 five drawer lateral files, and that's only collecting "big races" .
bob t

Since the "Champions" book has modern pp's for horses in the 1930's like Discovery and Equipoise, then I would assume that it's possible for the DRF IT guru's to come up with something for Phar Lap.  Unfortunately, my access to the database doesn't allow me to do the same.  The Keeneland library is a wonderful resource, and it wouldn't surprise me if they do have the 1932 Phar Lap DRF.  Here's some information about the library:



Dan, I'm on a Euro kick.  Will you please post the PP's for Zarkava, Dylan Thomas, Ouija Board, Hurricane Run, Dalakhani, Rock of Gibralter and Giant's Causeway?  Thanks
Captain Bodgit

Here's what I have for these European runners:

Download Euros


Dear Dan and fellow bloggers,
As I have been going over the pp's for tomorrow's races at Saratoga, a thought occurred to me that I would like some opinions on a topic near and dear to handicappers: Which is more important in evaluating 1st time starters, the sire's ability to produce 1st out winners ( a stat readily available) or a trainer's record with 1st time starter's(also readily available). While a sire's ability to produce 1st out winner's is an indication of potential precocity for his get, and must be taken into account when handicapping, I personally feel that the trainer stats are more  important.  It appears that many trainers do not rush their horses, regardless of the sires proclivity for producing 1st out winners and consequently are still in a "learning" mode rather being geared up for a winning race. I would appreciate all comments on this subject.

I would happen to agree with you that trainer statistics may be more important than sire information as it pertains to the chances of a "live" first-time starter.  How may Asmussen or Ward debut runners have limited pedigree appeal?  They still win with an amazing percentage.  That's why the old saying is "breed the best to the best, and HOPE for the best" instead of "breed the best to the best, and EXPECT the best."


Spartan Tom
Gio Ponti /Alan Shuback
I looked for it (I was going to copy & paste to the Formblog)
BUT, the article is for DRF Plus subscribers.
..anyone want to give it a try?
SR Vegas

Here is Shuback's thought-provoking piece concerning Gio Ponti in Europe:

"A note of caution is in order before there is any more hyperbole concerning the recent achievements of Gio Ponti. That he is the best turf horse in America there can be no doubt, but if he is just 1 1/4 lengths in front of Britain's three-time Group 3 winner Stotsfold, he is not yet in the same league as Europe's best turf performers.
In winning his fourth straight Grade 1 turf race in the Arlington Million on Saturday, Gio Ponti revealed a versatility rarely seen in America. A winner at the highest level at a mile, 1 1/4 miles, and 1 3/8 miles, the Tale of the Cat 4-year-old has won on firm, good, and yielding, and in the East, the West, and the Midwest. What more can one ask of a horse?
Quite a bit these days. There is that place across the ocean called Europe where a large majority of the world's best turf runners are trained. Having beaten all of the best American grass horses, what is there to be gained by Gio Ponti spending the rest of the summer and early autumn at home?
His trainer, Christophe Clement, has all but nixed the idea of sending him to Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. That is wise thinking, especially as Gio Ponti has never tried 1 1/2 miles. But the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 5 is at Gio Ponti's favorite distance of 1 1/4 miles. It also comes four weeks after the Million and would get him back to America two months before the Breeders' Cup, perhaps even in time for the Turf Classic on Oct. 3.
It is long past time for good American horses to try Europeans on their own terms. Wesley Ward proved that relatively untried 2-year-olds could could beat their European peers at Royal Ascot. If Gio Ponti really wants to establish his worth, the Irish Champion is the way to go. Otherwise he runs the risk, as do all horses that never leave their home countries, of being nothing more than a provincial champion. Gio Ponti deserves to take his chance at Leopardstown, where his true value could be determined against Europe's best.
The latest Racing Post Ratings on turf leave Gio Ponti out of the top 10, further evidence that he still has something to prove. He received an RPR of 122 for his Arlington Million victory, leaving him 11 pounds behind 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and Eclipse Stakes winner Sea the Stars, 5 pounds adrift of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Breeders' Cup Turf winner Conduit, and 4 pounds behind Irish Derby winner Fame and Glory.
It should be noted that the RPR top 10 omits all French horses. This is an inherent weakness with British rating systems, be it the Racing Post, Timeform, or the British dominated World Thoroughbred Rankings, all of which have a built-in bias against the French. That Goldikova's RPR of 124 is 2 pounds below England's best miler Paco Boy is incomprehensible. Further illustrating the bias, the Eric Libaud-trained Vision d'Etat won the Prince of Wales's Stakes by a half-length, but at 124 his RPR is a pound lower than Tartan Bearer, the British-trained runner-up in that race.
Paco Boy will avoid Goldikova for the rest of the year, skipping Sunday's Prix Jacques le Marois in favor of a freshening for a defense of his seven-furlong Prix de la Foret title on Oct. 3. This is unusual in Europe, where almost every Group 1 race features at least two or three of the very highest rated horses in their respective divisions. For example, Sea the Stars has already met and beaten Rip Van Winkle three times this season and Fame and Glory once. He also ran against older horses in the Eclipse Stakes on July 4 when he beat Conduit.
The European racing schedule reflects the mindset of most European horsemen in that it virtually requires good 3-year-olds to challenge older horses from early July onward. With a plethora of valuable races for 3-year-olds in this country, most American horses are encouraged to avoid their elders until October. The most glaring example of this mis-scheduling occurred in New York a few years ago when the Travers was put back a week and the Woodward put forward a week. Instead of three or four weeks separating the two races, there was suddenly only a single week between them, making it all but impossible for the best 3-year-olds to face their elders in the Woodward, a race that hasn't been won by a 3-year-old since Holy Bull in 1994. Sadly, only one 3-year-old has even run in the Woodward since 1999, and that was the Aidan O'Brien-trained Hold That Tiger, the runner-up to Mineshaft in 2003.
The game of dodgems in America has taken on epidemic proportions this year with Rachel Alexandra (RPR 127) and Zenyatta (RPR 124) avoiding each other like the plague. A country as big as America is always going to have some problems persuading East to meet West, but we exacerbated them with the introduction of synthetic surfaces at so many important tracks. The connections of dirt-loving Rachel Alexandra are to be congratulated for running her against 3-year-old males, but neither they nor her counterparts in the synthetic-partial Zenyatta camp are doing racing any favors by avoiding the one meeting the world most desires.


Bayakoa..could you post her PPs plz. any1 think RA could match her speed or could Zen run her down.  She was very fast. Dont think she ever beat the boys tho.

Here's what I have on Bayakoa:

Download Bayakoa


It could have been 7 races, and it could have been Joe Crispin if he was an apprentice.  I would guess as the time period being in the
'93 to '94 period, and I was team leader of a crew doing inventory in Portland's Fred Meyer stores. Got to the track late, and after watching this guy I knew nothing about win a couple, asked another railbird who he was, and was told he had won every race that day so far. I'd guess I saw his last five races, and had bet him in the last three, including the "late double". I remember him bringing home some chalk, but some were odds horses too.
He won every race on the card that I was there for.
Keith L

Joe Crispin won seven races on a card twice at Portland Meadows.  He first did it in 1998, and again in 2006.  Here's the story:



Dan, sorry to ask this since you are very busy and have been getting a ton of requests lately, but can you put up the PP's for Left Bank?

Here's what I have for Left Bank:

Download LeftBank


Whats the status of Clearly Foxxy? Mark Casse had her last year. Also did Harlem Rocker retire and what happened to Tomcito?

Clearly Foxy injured a hind ankle last year, but was scheduled to return to the races in 2009. 
I'm not positive if she's been retired. Harlem Rocker is still on our Disabled List.  He was originally scheduled to return to the races this summer, but has yet to register a published workout. 
Tomcito returned from various ailments to finish off-the-board in the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream, but hasn't worked since June.

Due to the Saratoga crunch, I haven't been able to update the Disabled List on the right hand side of the blog.  I'm looking at getting that done by the end of September.


I need some serious help making sense of the Sword Dancer. On my first pass through the PPs, I thought Telling had a huge chance. He had some good efforts at the distance, figured to get a good trip, and had run close enough to 2:30 at the distance to contend with many of the horses in the race. On further review, I backed off of him a little bit because I thought some of the Euros had the potential to post better times. Instead of making some type of win/insurance bet on him (my first thought), or even an exacta wheel keying him in both spots (likely would have been too expensive for my bankroll), I boxed him in an exacta with three other horses (all of whom turned in poor efforts). It was great to see him turn in such a huge effort (at least I had that right), but I am left questioning several things. Was his win a fluke? With a final time of 2:25, my guess is it was a legitimate race. Was it a suspect field? None of the other logical contenders seemed to turn in good efforts. I am interested in what others think, especially because the race had such an impressive final time.
Midwest Ed

While the final time was very respectable, I do wonder if that had more to do than the ridiculous pace set by several overeager frontrunners.  The leaders/stalkers were left gasping at the quarter-pole, and Telling righly picked up the pieces (as did 10-year-old Better Talk Now).  The question that must be addressed is whether Telling can run a similar race in a more conventional turf race (slow early fractions, sprint home late)?  I do admit that he has really come into his own in recent starts, but I just don't see him on the level of a Gio Ponti.  "Fluke" may be a bit harsh, but he still has some things to prove to me next time out.


Where do you get the sire and dam stats you use in your "Spa Babies" column?  Is it something a person can subscribe to?

The overall pedigree stats (lifetime) come from the vast DRF database, but yearly statistics (sire, broodmare, trainer) are available on the DRF Plus portion of our website.  They were added 18 months ago after I was sick and tired of compiling my own personal pedigree and trainer spreadsheets, and just wanted everyone to have access to these statistics. 
Trainer statistics can be manipulated by using Formulator Web past performances. 


Havent heard anything about Dunkirk .Is he planning on running anymore this year ?

Likely out for the year, and the original plan is to have him back to the races in 2010.


Dan-Could you possibly get me the beyer for Beware the Tiger (5th at Arlington on Thursday-why can't I have a part of that horse!)
Stephen Taylor

Beware the Tiger earned a 75 Beyer Speed Figure for the 7 3/4 length romp in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Arlington.


Any thoughts on class versus talent?

It would be nice to have both, but that's rare.  Rachel has both.  That's one of the reasons she is so special.  I think Commentator is a good example of a horse with a tremendous amount of natural ability, but when the going got tough, he would find one better.  That's not a knock on Commentator, a brilliantly-fast and likeable horse.  But, the Commentator that got an easy lead was a bit different than the one stuck in a dogfight. 
To a lesser degree, a horse like Visit or Solar Flare is a horse with natural ability, but no class (by class, I not only mean the "Eye of the Tiger," but simple professionalism).  Visit almost always fails to change leads, and her mechanics are just completely off.  She's a horse that will one day win a graded race in Southern California, but she is a terrible bet because of her inconsistency.  Solar Flare can put up big numbers when the situation and/or trip are right, but will invariably disappoint if he faces adversity.
The classy ones are the ones that get their noses down in front, the ones that overcome injuries, poor trips, and undesirable pace scenarios to win...the Tiznows if you will (although he had a good amount of ability as well).  Perhaps no greater show of class was when Personal Ensign won the Breeders' Cup over Winning Colors.  She won that race due to her indomitable will to win...it helped to have the ability there as well.


Hi Dan,
One question, where do you put your bucks if Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Quality Road, Mine that Bird and European boys Sea The Stars and Mastercraftmann take part on it? Santa Anita Pro-ride surface was good for European last year, and do you can post pps for Japanese champs Special Week, Zenno Rob Roy and Tap Dance City, thanks a lot!
Jose Iglesias Garcia

I can't pick a winner in a real race let alone a mythical one so I'll defer to the community.  Here's what I have for the Japanese runners:

Download Japanese


Drum roll please.... I guess I will stick with the 2YO theme, but this time on the "left  coast". Drum roll please.... MY RACE PICK FOR THE "HANDIGAMBLING #148" CONTEST IS.......RACE #6 FROM DEL MAR ON AUG. 26 2009. A 6F sprint, with a gate full of young ladies! There ya have it folks, good luck and good handicapping!

Congrats to "JoltinJoel" for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  Here are the past performances for Wednesday'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.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. 

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.

Talk to you soon,