01/26/2018 3:56PM

Looking for value at Sam Houston

All eyes will rightly be on Saturday's Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, but there are a couple of interesting graded stakes races the following afternoon at Sam Houston.  
I'm searching for some alternatives to the favorite, Bigger Picture, in the Grade 3 John B. Connally Stakes. Bigger Picture, profiled in the November 17, 2016 edition of FormBlog (http://www.drf.com/blogs/another-michael-maker-success-story), won this race last year en route to a very productive season (Grade 1 winner, over $514K in 2017 earnings). He's only started once since Saratoga, however, and will face a tougher group than the one he beat here in 2017.
Many handicappers looking to deny the chalk will focus on Chicago Style, a lightly-raced 5-year-old coming off a solid performance in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup. Chicago Style was compromised by a lack of pace in that race, was forced very wide turning into the stretch and was charging hard late. I might be nitpicking, but I think that Chicago Style wins the race if not for very briefly swapping leads back and forth in the stretch. You be the judge:
Even with that little mechanical issue, Chicago Style looks like an improving sort that loves the distance. Of the two favorites, I prefer him over Bigger Picture. 
Still, two runners that fascinate me the most might offer more value. 
Some in Tieme exploded to win the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 20, and he really looked good in that spot. He was buried at the back of the pack, ended up in traffic in the upper stretch and flew home once getting outside clearance. 
Some in Tieme was then pointed for the Belmont Gold Cup at two miles, but he must have gotten banged up because he disappeared for the summer. He didn't run well in his return, the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland, but I won't hold a bad race at a demanding distance off a long layoff against him. Last time out, he finished evenly in the Grade 3 River City Handicap. That nine-furlong distance is too short for Some in Tieme, and I'm not sure he cared for the significant give in that turf course. 
Trainer Ken McPeek has gotten six uninterrupted workouts into Some in Tieme leading into the Connally. I have a feeling that he'll be at a peak fitness level for this race. He's 8 to 1 on the morning line.
Multiple graded stakes winner Camelot Kitten makes his first start for Michael Maker in the Connally. Maker is a master at stretching horses out in distance on turf and Camelot Kitten enters this 12-furlong heat following an even finish over a flat mile at Gulfstream Park. 
Let's look at the TimeformUS chart for that race. Note the color-coding of the fractional times. The blue indicates a very slow pace. 
Camelot Kitten tried to rally into those glacial fractions with a four-wide brush from the back of the pack. That trip is not a recipe for success. The two horses that were aided by the pace, frontrunners Shakhimat and Western Reserve, came back to underperform. The former finished a flat fifth in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes while Western Reserve was beaten at 9 to 10 in an optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs. 
Conversely, closers that were up against the race flow have done better. Tower of Texas and Galton, the third- and second-place finishers, respectively, returned to run one-two in the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds. All Included turned the tables on Shakhimat when running third in the Ft. Lauderdale. 
Camelot Kitten has to prove he can step at 12 furlongs, but I'll use him and Some in Tieme to upend the two favorites. 
Best of luck this week!
It's that time of year again! We're getting ready for our annual Formbloggers Convention at Gulfstream Park. Laura has been a tremendous hostess every year and she's getting busy with the planning. We're looking at March 10-11 for our convention dates. For all of the details, you can contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com. 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 1/19/18 - 1/25/18:
1. Wellabled - 107 - Forego Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 19Jan18-5TP
2. Westwood - 104 - Alw 67000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 20Jan18-8AQU
3. Forge - 103 - Alw 50000s - 6 Furlongs - 20Jan18-6AQU
4. Conquest Tsunami - 99 - OC 62k/N2X - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Jan18-9SA
4. X Y Jet - 99 - Sunshine Millions Sprint - 6 Furlongs - 20Jan18-11GP
6. Control Group - 98 - Alex M. Robb Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 21Jan18-3AQU
7. Bee Jersey - 97 - Alw 76000N1X - 1 Mile - 20Jan18-5OP
7. Carlino - 97 - Alw 45400N1X - 1 1/16 Miles - 21Jan18-5GP
7. World of Trouble - 97 - Pasco Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 20Jan18-8TAM
10. Coniah - 96 - Grade 3 Las Cienegas Stakes - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Jan18-7SA
10. Galleon Mast - 96 - Sunshine Millions Turf - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 20Jan18-7GP
12. Awesome Banner - 95 - Fire Plug Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 20Jan18-7LRL
13. Backsideofthemoon - 94 - Jazil Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 20Jan18-3AQU
13. Chief Cicatriz - 94 - Hank Mills Sr. Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 20Jan18-6TUP
13. Jay's Way - 94 - Sunshine Millions Classic - 1 1/8 Miles - 20Jan18-4GP
13. Spieth - 94 - Alw 67000N1X - 1 Mile - 20Jan18-7AQU
17. Preservationist - 93 - Md Sp Wt 60k - 6 Furlongs - 20Jan18-2AQU
17. Well Humored - 93 - Wayward Lass Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 20Jan18-10TAM
19. Arch Daddy - 92 - OC 35k/C -N - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 24Jan18-9GP
19. Starship Jubilee - 92 - Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 20Jan18-10GP
21. Lazzam (GB) - 91 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 21Jan18-1SA
21. Operation Stevie - 91 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 21Jan18-8OP
21. P C Cowboy - 91 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 21Jan18-8OP
24. Clever Royal - 90 - Clm 32000N1Y - 1 Mile (Turf) - 25Jan18-3SA
24. Daddy D T - 90 - Clm c-40000 - 1 Mile - 25Jan18-7AQU
24. Devine Dental - 90 - Clm 50000N3L - 1 Mile - 20Jan18-4AQU
24. Wynn Time - 90 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 20Jan18-7FG
Daddy D T was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Raymond Handal from Rudy Rodriguez. 
Here are Wellabled's lifetime past performances:
Matt Bernier and I discussed Westwood and World of Trouble in this week's "Horse Watch" segment on Out of the Gate. 
Congrats to Rick for winning the most recent HandiGambling exercise. 
The weekly scoreboards are available for download at bottom of this blog post:
This week's race is Sunday's 12th from Gulfstream. 
Free Past Performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
Here are the rules:
HANDIGAMBLING version 2017:
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 SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR 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 identify who you are.
4. (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.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
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 2017
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!


Copy of HG 1 21 18 SA 9 Claiming.xls48 KB
HG 1 21 18 SA9 Claiming notes.doc16.79 KB
HGGP12.pdf208.21 KB