11/27/2013 2:55PM

Looking for Thoughts


I'm looking for a few opinions on the following horses.

I haven't made my absolute final decisions and I'm not sure if I completely trust many of these runners.  I'm really interested in your thoughts as I'm gravitating toward taking some stabs with them, hopefully at nice odds. 

*SATURDAY'S CHARM (Fall Highweight Handicap - Thursday - Aqueduct - 10-1 Morning Line):
This colt has underachieved, but he may be worth a stab.  His last couple of races have been against better horses (Clearly Now and Forty Tales are sharp 3-year-olds entered in the Cigar Mile while Immortal Eyes ran his eyeballs out in the slop in the DeFrancis Memorial) and he may get a little bit of pace to run at on Thursday. 
Looking at his competition, one wonders if some of the top contenders are off form.  STRAPPING GROOM tired badly behind Saturday's Charm in the Bold Ruler; SAGE VALLEY finished behind Saturday's Charm in the DeFrancis and may not be at his best if the track comes up wet; THE LUMBER GUY, this year, hasn't looked like the same horse that ran second in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Horses like CAIXA ELETRONICA and PALACE should be tough, but Saturday's Charm should be a more valuable price.

*CHOSEN MIRACLE (Vernon O. Underwood - Thursday - Betfair Hollywood - 5-1 ML):
I've never been a huge fan of this 5-year-old, but he ran an interesting race when third in the Grade 3 San Simeon going down the hill on April 20 (blocked and steadied inside the eighth pole, finished well when clear).  Since that race, he didn't do anything against the sharp Obviously at one mile (a distance that is too far for Chosen Miracle) and he bombed as the favorite going 5 furlongs on June 21 (it did seem that he was slightly bothered by a pacesetter that wanted to bear out into his path on the backstretch). 
I find it very interesting that Jerry Hollendorfer picked this spot out for Chosen Miracle's first start in five months.  Chosen Miracle has done most of his running on turf, but he has won on wet dirt and polytrack.  Perhaps he'll handle the cushion track at Betfair Hollywood Park. 
Also, several of his competitors have question marks attached to their names.  HANDSOME MIKE hasn't hit the board since April, albeit against mostly tougher horses; ROMAN THREAT is a brilliant, but fragile, horse that tired badly in both starts this year; MAJESTIC STRIDE ran well in the Breeders' Cup, but is still eligible for an 'n3x' race and figures to take too much money; COLOR OF COURAGE hasn't raced in over two years. 
Perhaps this is just a prep for something else, but Chosen Miracle may drift to a playable price from his morning line odds.

*FLASHY AMERICAN (Falls City Handicap - Thursday - Churchill - 3-1 ML):
Please note that FIFTYSHADESOFHAY is unlikely to race and Flashy American's odds figure to tumble as a result.  I think there are plenty of things to like about Flashy American.  She relishes nine furlongs, drops in class after chasing Beholder in a paceless Zenyatta Stakes, shows some very quick workouts, and may save valuable ground after breaking from the inside post position.  She also has won half of her starts at Churchill Downs and wouldn't mind a wet racetrack.  The price is what may keep me away.  Unless DON'T TELL SOPHIA (3-1 ML) takes money, Flashy American may simply be too short.  Perhaps an exacta with MY OPTION (8-1 ML) is in the cards?

*WILLET (Go For Wand - Friday - 10-1 ML):
This New York-bred was necked in this race last year after dominating seven others in the statebred Iroquois Stakes over a muddy track at Belmont.  In this year's Iroquois, Willet had the misfortune to face the undefeated Cluster of Stars, who scooted away over the speed-favoring track to win nicely.  Willet kept to her task to finish second by a big margin, however, and may be primed for another good effort against some weak competition.  There doesn't appear to be much speed in the Go For Wand and Willet could track FANTASY OF FLIGHT (winless in over a year) going into the turn.  CENTRING and STREET GIRL are nice horses, but I'm not sure I trust them at short-ish prices.

*GOLDEN TICKET (Clark Handicap - Friday - 9-2 ML):
This may simply be too tough a spot for Golden Ticket as he has to down both the brilliant GAME ON DUDE and the tenacious WILL TAKE CHARGE.  Golden Ticket has run some fast races, though, and if you believe that the favorites will regress after taxing efforts in the Breeders' Cup Classic, then perhaps Golden Ticket can pull off the upset. 
He was outsprinted through fast splits in the Breeders' Cup Mile, but was one of the few horses to actually make a run in that race, finishing gamely along the inside behind the sharp Goldencents.  I think he can get nine furlongs (he has two wins at 1 1/4 miles) and, for a brief instant, it looked like he was going to make a big run in the Awesome Again before flattening out behind Mucho Macho Man.  I need him to drift up off the morning line if I'm going to try him.

*BIG BANE THEORY (Citation Handicap - Friday - 8-1 ML):
This guy has a pretty big kick.  The question is whether he's good enough as he's flopped in three prior outings against stakes horses.  I wonder if post-injury BRIGHT THOUGHT is the same horse he was before the long layoff and it's possible that SILENTIO, the horse to beat, may regress off a big try against Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile.  BRIGHT THOUGHT, MY BEST BROTHER and the talented WINNING PRIZE figure to ensure a good pace and Big Bane Theory could be the one to take advantage.  According to Formulator, he blasted home his final three-eighths in 35.59 in his recent 'n2x' win (final eighth in 11.34) and it's possible we have yet to see the best from this lightly-raced 4-year-old. And, while I usually don't discuss jockeys that often, I do believe that Joe Talamo is the most underrated rider in the country.

And I still haven't really looked at the big NYRA races on Saturday (although leaning to GROUPIE DOLL in the Cigar)! 

Have a healthy, happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (11/18/13 - 11/24/13):

1. VALID - 107 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Gulfstream
2. MOMENTS NOTIZ - 103 - OC12k/SAL12k - 6 Furlongs - Aqueduct
3. GRAND CONTENDER - 102 - Delta Mile - 1 Mile - Delta
4. LUCKYSDREAM - 98 - OC 25k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Parx
5. APRIORITY - 97 - OC 62k/N$Y -N - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
5. MAJESTIC EXPRESS - 97 - OC20k/SAL16k - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder
7. GREAT ATTACK - 96 - OC c-62k/N2X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Churchill
8. BAKKEN - 96 - Alw 72000N1X - 6 Furlongs - Aqueduct
9. HIP FOR SIXTYNINE - 95 - Sam's Town Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Delta
9. SAM SPARKLE - 95 - Clm 35000(35-25)B - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Aqueduct
11. COMANDANTE - 94 - New York Stallion Series Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Aqueduct
11. ROUSING SERMON - 94 - On Trust Handicap - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
11. STRING KING - 94 - Mr. Sulu Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Fair Grounds
14. POTOMAC RIVER - 93 - River City Handicap (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Churchill
15. MYSTICAL TERP - 92 - Clm 16000N1Y - 6 Furlongs - Parx
16. BULL DOZER - 92 - OC 80k/N3X - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
16. JACK'S THE WON - 92 - OC c-25k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - Penn National
16. TRAIL BLAZE - 92 - Md Sp Wt 70k - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Aqueduct
19. LEXINGTON PEARL - 91 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
19. MASTER CHEF - 91 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
21. DANGER BAY - 90 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Woodbine
21. KEY VISTA - 90 - Alw 48000N1X - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
21. NO APOLOGIZES - 90 - OC 35k/N$Y -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Hawthorne
24. BECKY LOU - 89 - Alw 56000C - 1 Mile (Turf) - Betfair Hollywood
24. BOSS BARNEY'S BABE - 89 - Orleans Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Delta
24. JAKE MO - 89 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
24. JOYCE'S REBEL - 89 - OC 40k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
24. MR. ONLINE - 89 - OC 32k/N3X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Laurel

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

*GREAT ATTACK was claimed for $62,500 by trainer James Bredin from Wesley Ward.

*JACK'S THE WON was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Tim Ritchey from Timothy Kreiser.

*EXPECTING CASH (3rd in the Great Attack race, 90 Beyer) was claimed for $62,500 by trainer Jonas Gibson from Ricky Short.


Hi Dan,
I really enjoy the blog. I was wondering if you could please post the past performances for a classy mare, Splendid Sunrise. She ran 66 times, won nine races and was one of my favorite horses.
John McConnell

SPLENDID SUNRISE's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


LSD: Nice call on Risque Reality in yesterdays Raceof the Day. $60 winners are always nice.
With the post Breeders cup letdown and no Spa or Keeneland babies to report on , you must be bored to tears.Stars of Tomorrow II at Churchill at the end of the month( all two year olds). Perhaps you could list a few horses you like (in the races other than the two stakes ) when you post next Wednesday? Looking forward to the convention.
Dennis of Moline

As of right now, the past performances for the Stars of Tomorrow II card are not available.  If I see something I like, I'll post a comment to the blog over the next few days.  Looking forward, as always, to seeing you and Rose at the Convention.


...I'm really surprised that the final Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park is non-point earner. Was it so last year as well? I do remember that the Illinois Derby wasn't worth any Derby qualifying points last year...
Alfred Rodriguez

VIOLENCE earned 10 points for winning the Cash Call Futurity in 2012.  I'm also surprised that the race doesn't offer qualifying points this year.


A blogger recently wrote:
"the stud fee printed in the PP’s changes as the stud fee changes, so a horse that originally had a stud fee of $30K like Medaglia d’Oro can become $100K in two years"
Is that really true? If true, why? If true, that seems like changing the claiming price of a $50,000 race to $10,000 after the horses have come back and not raced well at $25,000.

The stud fee does change in the past performances from year-to-year when warranted.  I'm not sure if I'm understanding correctly, but I think you're wondering why we don't keep the stud fee for the year the horse was bred.  Let's say a 5-year-old is by a stallion that stood for $75,000 the year that particular horse was bred.  If that stallion didn't perform up to snuff, it's possible that he's now a $30,000 stud and any 2-year-olds (and the 5-year-old in question) would now show a $30,000 stallion fee in the past performances where once they showed $75,000. 

I think it's a good idea to keep the stud fee for the year in question instead of changing it across the board each year, but I'm afraid it may confuse some folks if they see a 4-year-old Bernardini with a $125,000 stud fee and a 5-year-old Bernardini with a $100,000 stud fee in the same race.


Dan or anyone who follows the Cali circuit-
I was sorry to see Doug O'Neill let Et Tu Walker go for $62.5. Son of Shakespeare-Inspired Hope (Pleasant Colony) I thought Walker was developing into a pretty fine turfer. I know it is hard to guess trainer/owner intentions...but any scuttlebutt on why they let this horse go?...
Good luck to all!

This is just a theory, but I believe it was a calculated risk on O'Neill's part. ET TU WALKER's best races have come sprinting on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park.  With that track on the verge of closing, he loses his favorite turf course.  Scanning over Et Tu Walker's lines, he doesn't seem to perform as well going down the hill at Santa Anita and that's where most of his races will likely be over the next few months.  I couldn't train a dog to bark, but I would like to see him get a shot over a more conventional turf course out of town.


green mask is racing this saturday in california in a 2 yr old stakes race at hollywood
Todd Saunders

He didn't run very well.  GREEN MASK finished a flat fourth in the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes over the cushion track at 6-5 odds.  He received a 78 Beyer.  I wonder if he's simply better on polytrack and turf.

A 2-year-old that I forgot to mention last week, CHAS'S LEGACY, could be one to follow down at Gulfstream this winter for trainer Pat Byrne.  A $250,000 weanling that resold for $130,000 as a yearling, Chas's Legacy is by Bernardini out of a half-sister to the long-winded multiple Grade 2 winner Guided Tour.  He won his maiden third time out of the box on November 7 at Churchill Downs (82 Beyer at 1 1/16 miles). 


Please download Steve T.'s in-depth analysis on physical handicapping.  It is a fantastic read on a topic that has confounded handicappers for a very long time.  I've learned a great deal simply by reading his work and thank him greatly for sharing with the community.  I've attached his paper as a PDF at the bottom of this blog post. 



It looks as if we'll have our annual FormBlog Convention at Gulfstream Park early next year.  For more details, head on over to Laura's excellent website


It's always a blast so come on out if you can.


The weekend handicapping previews should be available on the site soon.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to Frank Manuel for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling contest.

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

Let's go with Saturday's Cigar Mile for this week's exercise.


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.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.

Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
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.

Best of luck to all.


I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/concerns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.COM and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!




VALID.pdf654.85 KB
Physical Handicapping 120811.pdf157.12 KB
Copy of Formblog Aqueduct 11-22-13.xls67.5 KB
HGCIGAR.pdf195.87 KB