05/23/2014 5:53PM

Kalifornia KO

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Forget the Ali Shuffle and the Rope-A-Dope. California Chrome pulled off his best Mike Tyson (in his prime) impersonation in pummeling his nine rivals in last Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

If you didn't believe that the Kentucky Derby hero was a legitimate heavyweight prior to the Preakness, his knockout of top contender Social Inclusion should convince you otherwise.

The Preakness pace was a bit puzzling as outsider Pablo Del Monte and overmatched filly Ria Antonia, a surprising front-runner, sparred through solid fractions of :23.56 and :46.85 In the meantime, California Chrome was utilizing one of his two greatest assets - his tactical speed. Victor Espinoza had the deserving odds-on favorite tracking the two longshots from the outside as General A Rod attempted to save ground and Social Inclusion followed the chalk.

Entering the turn, Social Inclusion threw a haymaker and backed California Chrome into the ropes in the form of a three-wide sweep while directly outside of the Art Sherman-trained warrior. This forced Espinoza's hand and California Chrome was asked to go all-in with three-eighths of a mile remaining.

This was California Chrome's cue to break out his second powerful weapon - his turn burst. Social Inclusion gave it his best shot, but with a one-two combo reminiscent of Ingemar Johannson's vaunted "toonder and lightning," California Chrome put Social Inclusion on dream street in short order.

As Social Inclusion staggered back to his stool, "no mas" on his lips, California Chrome continued to answer the bell. In the stretch, he peppered stiff jabs at Ride On Curlin, a midpack runner that received a stress-free trip from off the hot pace. Ride On Curlin was a battler in the final eighth, but he wasn't hurting California Chrome. The winner completed the 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.84, a final time good enough to be awarded a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

"I had to because the outside horse, he was pushing me," Espinoza responded when queried by track publicity if he set sail for home earlier than he wanted.  "He made me move at the half mile post.  I really don't want to.  I want to wait as soon as possible.  I thought I was in a perfect position, and I just wanted to wait as long as I can. But when the outside horse attacked me, and I had to just let it go, slowly.  I don't want to make a strong move at that point.  But turning for home, he really got after me, and I had to just open it up at that point.

Now, it's time for California Chrome to start working on the heavy bag. The Derby and Preakness are 12-round bouts compared to the daunting 15-period, 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion." Just imagine if Social Inclusion tried California Chrome entering the final bend of the Belmont. He would still have a half-mile to outpoint Ride On Curlin as well as the others that would be lying in patient wait for the final stretch surge. How many times have we seen jockeys of would-be "spoilers" ride the Triple Crown aspirant as much as their own horse?  The Smarty Jones Belmont immediately comes to mind.

The early list of Belmont entrants is chock-full of horses that California Chrome has already toppled. Expected along with Social Inclusion and Ride On Curlin are 3-year-olds that California Chrome handled in the Kentucky Derby. Commanding Curve, Intense Holiday, Samraat and Wicked Strong will all hope that skipping the Preakness will have them fresh for the rematch. The long-winded Commissioner and the very talented Tonalist will provide fresh competition.

California Chrome doesn't need a knockout in the Belmont. He just has to go the distance.

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Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/12/14 - 5/18/19:

1. OBVIOUSLY (IRE) - 107 - American Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
2. REVOLUTIONARY - 106 - Pimlico Special (G3) - 1 3/16 Miles - Pimlico
3. CALIFORNIA CHROME - 105 - Preakness Stakes (G1) - 1 3/16 Miles - Pimlico
4. HAPPY MY WAY - 104 - Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Pimlico
5. SEEKING THE SHERIF - 102 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
6. LITTLE MIKE - 99 - Flying Pidgeon Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
6. UTLEY - 99 - Dixie Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Pimlico
8. DRAMA COACH - 98 - Wcl 25000C - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
9. HONDURAN - 97 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
9. LET FAITH ARISE - 97 - Adoration Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
9. SHAMROCK RULER - 97 - Clm 25000(25-22.5)N3L - 6 Furlongs - Penn National
12. DAKOTA MAC - 96 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Canterbury
12. DISCO BARBIE - 96 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Presque Isle
12. HARD ENOUGH - 96 - Red Bank Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Monmouth
12. SOMALI LEMONADE - 96 - Gallorette Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Pimlico
12. WHY NOT BE PERFECT - 96 - Governor's Handicap - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Emerald
17. BEN'S CAT - 95 - Turf Sprint Stakes - 5 Furlongs - Pimlico
17. FREE WORLD - 95 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Arlington
17. LION D N A - 95 - Skipat Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Pimlico
17. RUN TO THE BANK - 95 - OC 80k/C -N - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
21. PUSHINGONASTRING - 94 - Alw 27070NC - 6 Furlongs - Louisiana
21. SENSATIONAL SLAM - 94 - Diablo Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
21. STRONG IMPACT - 94 - OC c-80k/N3X - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Belmont
24. BRAVODINO - 93 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
24. CARD - 93 - OC 10k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Fairmount
24. GREEN MASK - 93 - Paradise Creek Stakes - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Belmont

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

*STRONG IMPACT was claimed for $80,000 by trainer David Jacobson from Bruce Brown.

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Dan, I remember hearing something last year about Belmont runners having a distinct advantage if they have had a previous race over the track as two year olds. What % of winners have had such a race? Any stats or opinions on this?
Your Prodigal Son,
Jim Tully

Of the last 25 Belmont winners, here are the ones that raced on "Big Sandy" at two:

Da' Tara (2nd, maiden special weight)
Jazil (6th, maiden special weight)
Afleet Alex (2nd, Champagne)
Birdstone (1st, Champagne)
Empire Maker (1st, maiden special weight)
Point Given (2nd, Champagne)
Lemon Drop Kid (2nd, maiden special weight; 1st, Futurity; 2nd, Champagne)
Editor's Note (1st, allowance; 3rd, Breeders' Cup Juvenile)
Thunder Gulch (3rd, maiden special weight; 1st, maiden special weight)
Tabasco Cat (7th, maiden special weight; 1st, allowance)
Colonial Affair (3rd, maiden special weight)
Union Rags (1st, Champagne)
Palace Malice (2nd, maiden special weight)
Hansel (1st, Tremont)
Easy Goer (2nd, maiden special weight; 1st, allowance; 1st, Cowdin; 1st, Champagne)

Fifteen of the last 25 winners had juvenile experience on dirt at Belmont.

Nine of the last 25 winners had at least one dirt race as 2-year-olds at Saratoga while eight Belmont winners raced at two at Churchill Downs.

Horses with 2-year-old races on dirt at Delaware and Aqueduct accounted for four winners in the last 25 years.

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

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 Alfredo 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.

Due to the technical issues that have plagued the site for the last several days, we'll postpone the next HandiGambling exercise to next week.

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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