05/14/2015 5:15PM

Let's talk Preakness


The Preakness features the top three finishers of the Kentucky Derby. They are all talented racehorses. For me, the question is whether AMERICAN PHAROAH (1) should be so much shorter in price than FIRING LINE (8) and DORTMUND (2). After all, American Pharoah was in an all-out drive for five-sixteenths of a mile in order to deny Firing Line, a runner that never switched leads during the stretch drive.

Is he that much better than those two that he should be odds-on while the others offer more-playable prices on the tote?

Perhaps American Pharoah is the freak he's advertised to be. At 4 to 5 on the morning line (I wouldn't be surprised if he's shorter at post time), he'll have to win the Preakness without me.

I'm backing Dortmund, a rock-solid performer that tasted defeat for the first time in the Derby. He's certainly fast enough to win this race as he owns four consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Dortmund is a robust colt, strong enough to withstand the rigors of returning on such short notice. He's capable of winning from on the lead or from just off the pace, and that versatility should serve him well on Saturday. He's also tough, displaying courage to run down both Firing Line and MR. Z (3) in the Los Alamitos Futurity, and by re-rallying along the inside to nab Firing Line in the Bob Lewis.

Dortmund didn't have an excuse in the Derby. He was beaten on the square by both American Pharoah and Firing Line. I wouldn't be surprised if Bob Baffert alters tactics on Saturday. I'm expecting Dortmund to rate, follow American Pharoah and hope that someone else does the dirty work in softening up the favorite.

Perhaps many will abandon ship after his lone defeat. He was 4 to 1 in the 18-horse Run for the Roses. He could be 7 to 2 or so in the 8-horse Preakness.

There are no true knocks on American Pharoah other than price. He has shown brilliance, push-button acceleration and, in the Derby, a strong will to win despite being hung wide throughout. Still, for that horse on that day in that race, American Pharoah had a good trip. He didn't have a stone in his path. Give the best horse a trouble-free trip and that horse will win most times. Let's see how he reacts to being down on the inside with a speed horse like Mr. Z expected to send outside of him.

Firing Line ran a corker in the Derby. He seemed to have Dortmund dead to rights entering the final turn and gave American Pharoah all he could handle when the real running began. I just don't like that he failed to flip leads in the stretch. It's something out of character and he'll now have to return on short rest.

DIVINING ROD (7) could be the spoiler. I thought he was terrific in winning the Lexington. He showed a new dimension, rating behing horses before being asked for run swinging into the stretch. Previously a front-runner, Divining Rod might end up tracking Firing Line from the second flight or so. He's beautifully-bred and the only "bad" race on paper, the Tampa Bay Derby, could be attributed to some foot issues that resulted in him racing in bar shoes. His feet have healed and he might be peaking at just the right time.


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Remember to check out DRF LIVE's handicapping coverage. Matt Bernier and I will be live from Pimlico on Friday at 3pm ET and we will begin at 10am on Saturday.


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

Let's go with Saturday's Preakness Stakes from Pimlico for this week's exercise.

Note that the Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness double is 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 "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!




VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Sir Bernardo; Those are great questions, actually. And not just for VQ... but our great friend Calvin, too. Or really anybody else. Can it be summed up as Classic races...yes? or run of the mill races... no? Fascinating, actually. I am not sure that I can answer that question, and I have thought about it much... Later gator vs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AK47, I used to have a pretty sharp mind (intelligence?), but these days, not so much. So please bear with me. I hear what you say about there being limitations on Calvin's Software (can it be summed up as Classic races yes? run of the mill races no?). But I don't know why. Are you suggesting that classic horses run to the characteristics of their pedigree more than lower level horses? And apologies, but I really don't understand your point about "Payment Discrepancies". Being able to assess a race down to a near precise order of finish seems to be a feat of a whole new level than anything to do with betting patterns. If you have the time, and the inclination, I would love to be able to understand the point you are making. I am not trying to be a total pain in the butt, but this is extraordinary stuff. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
Steve T, That 1957 Derby was a doozy. The most memorable thing to most of us was that The Shoe blew the race by misjudging the finish line. He had Gallant Man in hand leading the nine-horse field and was sure of winning. S--- happens. The winner by default was the 8-1 Iron Liege ridden by the inimitable Bill Hartack. Some historic names, some losers too in the field. Ray
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard Pretty sure that Calvin isn't talking about the *Every Day Run Of The Mill Races* More like the Derby and some others ( distance capabilities in classic races etc ) there are programs out there now that look for *Payout Discrepancies * in exotic wagering like Trifectas. Some combo's will be bet more than other's so they look for those combo's that they consider to be *Live* and that are being under bet. these of discrepancies can be found in any market Exotic Wagering is no different AK47
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ADWs, Final Odds Reminds me of that 60s song *My Baby Does The Hanky Panky* Of course as horse players we can change the lyrics to * My Adw Does The Hanky Panky* Kick Out The Jams
Harold Crenshaw More than 1 year ago
Is the sale of the breeding of AP a "tell"? Maybe so maybe no. I have no idea why Zayat would do it at this time...but totally get the farm's reasoning....publicity is a good thing....but talking about the END before the story is written, it just seems a little off....but it has been done before. However, couldn't the deal be a little sweeter if/when AP wins the Belmont? As Frankie Pantangeli said to Micheal Corleone "I don't have your head for Big Deals". Late wagering from Steve and Ron. My biggest complaint about the ADW world that we live in is one thing....the toteboard is not a tool any longer. JJ and I had disagreements about this in the past. I have done a snapshot research project where I watched the toteboard and the betting amounts in the 5,4,3,2,1, 0...pre-load, load, after the gates open and FINAL. I would always take the flashes given and NOTE the amounts. In a 40 race(live on track) I had the following conclusions......over 40%(every race) and as high as 68% of the money showed AFTER the LOAD had started. I had a high handle of WIN of 120,000 and a low of 35,000. I have a tough time figuring out what to do.....but to think that the tracks have any thing but their own self interest is pure folly. So if there is 100,000 total in the Win Pool at one minute to post....and 250,000 at the end....we are asking the tracks to "give up" about 30,000 in profit. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.....unless the whole schematic changes. I have a difficult time believing that the totals are so slow to come in. THAT is what is their best interest....and yet they don't do it. Curious.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Off the Table Mr. Zayat is taking some profit off the table. Good for him as he has not had the smoothest of journeys with his horses. Paulick lists the top 4 stallion syndications as Fu Peg- $55M; Big Brown - $50M; Point Given $50M; and Smarty Jones at $39M. See any patterns folks? Personally I hope AP goes to a farm where he does not have to shuttle. You're Fired This time it was not Donald Trump doing it but Indiana Downs who fired the lab doing its testing. Good for them. The lab was doing shoddy work. My friends here who play that track say they are struggling to card open races. Bad boy Tom Amoss is not back in the Hoosier state. Persona non grata as Moss/Amoss v. Indiana drags thru the courts. Over/under on a resolution is pegged at 2025. Taking the over. Going to War with AP Lightning rod owner Ron Paolucci says War Story is going into the Belmont Stakes. Why not? The 16th in the Derby should set him up perfectly for the 12F. The owner says he will press the pace along with AP who will be on it on near it. While early speed is solid in this race I must say good luck to Ron with that plan. Prayers to War Story. Two Views Be Bullish retired after 10 years and $1M earned the hard way. Mike Repole said “Bullish has put in his time. He is going out in the winner’s circle”. Trainer David Jacobson who lost him for $16k said “I don’t see it. I think it is foolish. He should not take the horse away from the public. …This is one less good horse I have to run against”. One comment exudes class, one comment does not. Wake Up Call? Some friends run Street Spin Miss (Hard Spun/ Street Cry mare) at DEL today. I know a couple here on the Blog were following her. I hope she shows some run but not much so far other than speed/fades. I played her in start two but a flat 4th. Workouts have improved plus Hard Spun’s can get better with maturity so there is some hope. DEL purses sure have decreased. It does not seem so long ago MSW went for $44k but $34K today. That kind of decrease hurts owners. On the bright side you don’t face large fields like at BEL so you may get more checks just a smaller ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calvin, Thanks, but the second part of the equation is equally important. Have you fully considered the implications of the claim. If you own a piece of Software that can more or less predict the order of finish, I don't see how all other handicapping tools are not made redundant. Additionally, doesn't your tool virtually guarantee an abnormal percentage of correct Win bets; plus a STAGGERING proportion of correct Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta bets? Or am I completely missing the point? Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
Steve T While checking out a first time Pioneer of the Nile on turf (Pioneer Justice, Indiana Grand, scratched late) I happened to catch a few earlier races. In the 3rd, the #4 was showing solid favoritism, especially the last 5 minutes and was bet down to 4/5. The winner, #2, was consistently 2nd in the wagering at 5/2. In the gate and ils sont partis! The odds don't change until after they run the first 3/8th. The final flash shows the #2, the winner, now at 7/5 and he is leading! The #4 , drifts up to 2-1. I figure it took about $3-$5 thousand to change those odds in the $41,863 win pool. The odds were just about halved in this case and in your example just a bit more. While it is going to take a lot of convincing for me that anything nefarious is going on, I do agree with you 100% that that practice must change. It really wouldn't be hard and I would think most horse players would welcome the change and only be shut out one time until they learn. This is what I'd do: 1. Wagering closes one minute BEFORE the horses start loading in the gate. Walkie Talkies, cell phones work great for communication and the stewards could call the gate crew and say "start loading". The gate crew could easily be wired into a countdown clock. 2. On the TV monitors on track, on TVG etc, on the toteboard et al, I would have a notice that says "Wagering closes at 1:03 pm and have a five minute countdown clock. Since there are inevitable delays , the shut off time is determined after the previous race is official. So yesterday, the same race might close at 1:01 pm and tomorrow it might close at 1:07. The stewards are the ones who shut down the wagering terminals, not the mutuels manager, the track president or the preferred bettor in the house. If this were to be implemented, the odd thing that I see may happen, is that the odds will still change like the above example, but one minute before they start loading into the gate. The reason for this is the ADWs. Some don't send any of their wagers until the last second and then it takes a few more seconds to get compiled. This too, could easily be remedied with the "Wagering ends at ....." and the horses are loaded after the last compilation. This won't end wild odds fluctuations, only the requirement that each wager is sent immediately to the final odds hub will do that. What it will do is end some patrons conception that wagers are being place after the gate opens. While it has happened rarely that the betting does not close before the race, I feel it is accidental and rare. But today, after running three furlongs of a six furlong race and seeing the leader's odds drop in half, that even puts a bit of doubt in this old, very experienced racetracker and there shouldn't be a bit of doubt. RonZ
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes, I'm serious. I've written about the software in my Derby and Preakness blogs and in wrap ups for both of those races, too.