10/19/2009 6:19PM

Lots of stuff


Saw a very impressive debut winner at Keeneland over the weekend.  Connie and Michael, a daughter of Roman Ruler trained by Ken McPeek, was bet hard on the first flash of the tote, and took steady money the rest of the way.  The $80,000 purchase zipped to the front after breaking from the far outside in the bulky field of twelve, cleared over to the rail, and never gave her opponents a chance.  Left in her dust was a well-meant second-time starter named Star Recruit, a tough-trip third in her debut at Presque Isle Downs in her previous outing.  Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Connie and Michael turned it on during the stretch drive, winning by 7 3/4 lengths, and stopping the teletimer at 1:22.74 for the seven furlongs.  She earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.  Star Recruit finished second, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher.


Lost in the shuffle this weekend was an excellent performance by Capt Candyman Can. Came running wide and late against Fatal Bullet and looks sharp.  We all saw his run vs Quality Road at the Spa...always comes running no matter the pace.  Your thoughts on him as a serious Sprint contender?

Looks like a legitimate contender to me.  He ran well over the Keeneland polytrack in the Phoenix which gives handicappers some hope that he'll handle the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita, and he hasn't run a bad sprint race all year long.  The pace should be fast with Zensational and Fatal Bullet carving out the fractions, and Capt. Candyman Can's late-running style would be aided by the quick fractions up front.  His trainer, Ian Wilkes, has stated all along that the Phoenix was merely a prep run, and it looked like Capt. Candyman Can got enough out of the race to head to Santa Anita in peak form.


Dan, thanks for the pp's.  Maybe soundness was the wrong word.  With the success of horses like Bernardini, Curlin and Summer Bird do you think you end up with a faster/better horse if you wait until your horse is 3 to run?  Not talking soundness, just the quality of the horse you end up with.

It depends on the individual.  Some horses are bred to excel early.  They have precocious pedigrees, and mature earlier than their peers.  As they get older, the others catch up to them physically, and they get left behind.  Would these horses accomplish as much on the track if they didn't race at two?  Probably not.  I doubt they would be faster and/or better if they waited until they were three to run.
How would a ban on  juvenile racing affect the Triple Crown series?  It seems necessary for a Derby contender to have enough juvenile foundation if he/she is to successfully navigate the demanding 10 furlong distance on the first Saturday in May.  It could be argued that a juvenile campaign toughens up a prospective Derby candidate.


Is the rule of thumb on the Racing Post numbers to subtract twelve to fifteen points to make them comparable to the BSF's?  I realize there are a ton of more important factors, but still, it would help put them in a better context.

European handicappers would consider it sinful to compare Racing Post Ratings with Beyer Speed Figures.  The Beyers are time-based while the RPR's take into consideration multiple factors, time being only one of them. 
Some handicappers would subtract between 12 to 14 points from the Timeform Ratings that used to be published in the DRF, but the RPR's are different than the Timeforms so that number may be misleading.  I'm not sure if adding/subtracting from RPR's to a hypothetical Beyer is the way to go, but I do know some folks that subtract 10 points from the RPR's to find a comparison.


Does anyone know if his owner has any connection to American racing that may lead him to stand STS here?

It's very likely that Sea the Stars will stand stud at his birthplace, the Irish National Stud in Kildare.


I can't believe you stated the following:
"Even if Zenyatta runs her undefeated streak to fourteen with a victory over older males in the Breeders' Cup Classic, it is highly-questionable whether she could wrest year-end honors away from Rachel Alexandra."
My question to you is why?

The Horse of the Year should go to the runner that provided continued excellence at the highest levels throughout the whole racing season.  If we simply look at the body of work of both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, we are faced with this:

Rachel Alexandra - 5 Grade 1 Wins, 2 Grade 2 wins, 1 Listed Win (8 starts, 8 wins, Feb-Sept.)
Zenyatta (IF she wins the Classic) - 4 Grade 1 wins, 1 Grade 2 wins (5 starts, 5 wins, May-Nov))

Now, let's add in the historic value of Rachel Alexandra's campaign.  While Zenyatta remained in her comfort zone, Rachel Alexandra defeated males in the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown (the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years), won the Haskell against males and the Kentucky Oaks against fillies, and became the first three-year-old filly to win the historic Woodward Stakes against older males.  We haven't seen, or even conceived of, a campaign like this, and Rachel emerged unscathed every single time.  She's won over seven different tracks, over wet and dry, around one turn and two.

For the "who has she beaten" crowd, look at the subsequent Grade 1 winners that Rachel vanquished in 2009. 
*Gabby's Golden Gal was beaten 29 lengths in the Kentucky Oaks, and she returned to win the Grade 1 Acorn. 
*Take the Points, the last-place finisher of the Preakness, turned into a major winner on the grass, taking Grade 1 races like the Secretariat at Arlington Park, and Jamaica at Belmont. 
*Flashing was beaten by 31 1/2 lengths in the Mother Goose, and came right back to win the Test at Saratoga.
*Summer Bird finished six behind Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell, and came back to win the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Not to mention various other Graded winners and Graded-placed performers that were left in the wake of her brilliance.

If Zenyatta wins the Classic, it would be a wonderful feat, and I would be the happiest Zenyatta fan out there, but I don't think it would be enough to Eclipse Rachel's accomplishments throughout the entire year.


Isn't there a national coalition of horseplayers in this country?
Mike A

Try this website:



What do you think the odds would be for Rachel Alexandra if she were running in the Breeder's Cup Classic?  Do you think she would have been the favorite?

I'm pretty sure she'd be the favorite, and might be less than 5-2.


Dan,  Loved your description of the great Zenyatta, and I agree she will not overtake Rachel for HoY.  With the Secretariat film coming, I wanted to see more from his stablemate Riva Ridge, who I hear will be ignored in the movie.  Can you download his PPs, thanks Dan.

Here are Riva Ridge's lifetime past performances:

Download Riva Ridge


Can you please research the last time a 3 year old filly beat older Grade 1 males at a route on dirt to properly put in perspective what Rachel accomplished in the Woodward. Thanks. 
jim tully

It's a bit of a slippery slope because of the relative recent "Grading" of races, but I went back over all of the three-year-old filly champions since 1939:

1943:  Stefanita - won Test, Alabama, Ladies (vs. older fillies), New England Oaks, and Lady Baltimore Handicap (older fillies) before defeating the previous year's Preakness winner, Alsab, in the Bryan & O'Hara Handicap over 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico.

1944:  Twilight Tear - won Rennert Handicap (vs. 3yo males), Pimlico Oaks, Acorn, CCA Oaks, Princess Doreen Stakes, Skokie Handicap (vs. 3yo males), Classic Stakes (vs. 3yo males), Queen Isabella Handicap (against older mares) before winning the Pimlico Special over that year's Whitney and Met Mile winner Devil Diver.

1945:  Busher - Won Santa Susanna, San Vicente (vs. 3yo males), Santa Margarita (vs. older fillies), Cleopatra, Match Race (vs. Durazna), Hollywood Derby (3yo males), and Vanity Handicap (older fillies).  Against older males, she won the Arlington Handicap in July, and the Washington Park Handicap (over Pimlico Special winner Armed) in September.

1955:  Misty Morn - Won Providence (vs. 3yo males), Molly Pitcher (older fillies), Monmouth Oaks, Diana, before winning the Gallant Fox Handicap over older males in November.

I may be wrong, but it seems that the last 3yo filly champ to even try older males in a "Grade 1" was Christmas Past in 1982 (finished third behind Lemhi Gold and Silver Supreme in the Jockey Club Gold Cup), but it must be noted that Surfside won the 2000 Clark Handicap (Grade 2) against older males.  Several of these champions prior to 1982 did attempt to beat older males, but came up a bit short.


HG excersise; No need to go over the field. We all have eyes. Martys Time; Lightly raced, every 2 to 3 weeks, Decent trainer, change to good jock in Clifton, blinkers on and hasn't been beaten badly. Not a proven loser. As far as second, well you could come up with an angle for the 1,5,8,11,and 12, just toss a coin, but I won't do that, I'm going for a longshot here, which is kind of an oxymoron. #6 High Favor; Lightly raced also with just 6 outs. Last time in this condition @ Penn he ran a craditable 5th, closing 7 3/4 from the half and was bet, compared to his other outs and his comebacker in 7500 clm. Coming back in 17 days after a 2 1/8m workout over the hurdles, lots of "speed" in here and gets Diaz, should work a trip. so my bet is 100.00 exacta 3-6.....Mike A

HG 156:
We will go down the hill at SA with the fifth race on Wed.
A lot of folks have trouble with this course, so I think it would be a good race to choose. Good practice, and those of us that do well on this course can shed a little light on those that do not.

Congrats to Mike A. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He asked cayman01 to select this week's race.  Here are the past performances:

Download HG156:

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.  Past performances are available on the previous blog entry.

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.


Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races (scroll over for more information):

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

Download ResearchTop


Back with more questions and comments next time.

Take care,


mark More than 1 year ago
You criticize Zenyatta's light schedule, but what did it result in? 2 Breeders Cup Wins! That was masterful training, Rachael was burned out by September! You claim Rachael ran in better races against better horses. Really? The Preakness, Travers are age-restricted races, only 3 year olds can run in them. But Ok, Rachael beat Mine That Bird and Summer Bird, Zenyatta Beat Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. Against older males, Rachael beat "Macho Again". Zenyatta beat Gio Ponti, Twice Over, Rip Van Winlke and Einstein. I ask again, who beat better horses? Zenyatta retires with a record of 14 wins, 0 losses, including wins in the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic and the Breeders Cup Classic. Name one horse in history that claim that?
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
HG 156: One thing I look for in these downhill sprints is a horse that can get a clear lead. I especially like it when the rail is set out ( and in this case it's 30'). Under these circumstances closers are at a big disadvantage and early speed has a greater chance to wire the field. Also, horses that struggle at the mile or greater distance do very well going down the hill. Why? I have no idea, but they do. That being said let's move on to the contestants......... 1: MARY THE PRINCESS, has shown some early pace on dirt, but not on synthetic. Leads me to believe she won't much care for turf. Inexperienced jock could turn this into a fiasco. Pass. 2:CORNISH ROSE, one that could benefit from the turnback in distances. Hasn't really found her niche yet. Switch to Smith is a big upgrade, but 30' rail will compromise her chances. Under. 3:OCEAN STYLE, another come from behinder who will be up against it. Doesn't look fast enough for this group, and her downhill form is a cut below her route form. Dream trip could get her a slice, but I'm not counting on it. 4:SALTY SARAH, won't get the lead here and that's the problem. Has shown a great reluctance since her maiden win to pass horses. That won't get it done here. Would be better on main turf course routing as early speed.Contender for underneath spots. 5: TERRIFY, lightly raced horse looks to be the speed of the speed here and that should really help her with the rails all the way out. Stubbornly stays on when headed, she's a gamer and that counts a lot against the rather light hearted fellow racers she lines up against here. 6:MADELINE RUBY, WYSIWYG, she's a consistent mid to upper 70's turf horse. Might have trouble working out a trip with all the other closers in here. 7: SKIM MILK, best racing has been on the turf, but her numbers are woefully short of what she'll need to do to win here. if she happens to be the closer that gets the cleanest trip she'll light up the tote for 3rd or 4th. 8: DASH DOT DASH gets a ton of class relief here, and that should be appreciated by both the horse and backers.She should be taking dead aim at Terrify when they hit the lane. Her stalking style is a BIG plus in my book. 9:COATCHECK GIRL has blossomed since moving to the weeds. Will be further back in this tilt. Hopefully not too far. Gives a solid effort every time out and should be in the mix in the end. 10: YODELADY O, could be rounding back into form if the last two are any indication. Should like turf just fine, the question will be if she can work out the trip. Bejarano should see to that. Another to like at long odds. Will take a look at the tote board before making final choices, but for now I'll take a $50 WP on the 5 TERRIFY. I think she gets a clear lead here and it's just a question of whether she can hold off the stalkers in the lane. I may change to exactas as we get closer to post. It depends on the will pays.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
FYI - there is a new apprentice in SoCal: "Former trainer Dean Greenman has become a jockey agent and taken the book of newcomer Carlos Diaz, a seven-pound apprentice rider who is listed to make his Oak Tree debut on Il Foro for trainer Oscar Garcia in Wednesday’s fourth race. “He came from the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School in Panama,” said Greenman, son of the late trainer Walter Greenman. “Carlos won six races in Panama. I was having dinner with Laffit and a guy called him and told him a bug boy wanted to come here. Laffit turned to me and said, ‘If you want to become an agent, you’ve got him,’ and I took him.” Diaz is 25 and tacks 105 pounds. “He’ll have his bug until almost Del Mar,” Greenman said. “He just got here two days ago, and he’ll be going to school three days a week to learn English.”
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, "Of course, I always believed the female was the smarter sex anyhow, as they did not need to start wars and beat each other senseless to solve disputes!" LOL, who do you think was usually at the center of two guys on the "beat each other senseless" circuit? It drives me crazy that in the quest for equality the holy grail is to have women and men think and behave the same. Women have historically been a counterbalance to our nonsense, and almost always take a practical, pragmatic view of things. Call me heterosexual, but I like the fact that we are different. Well except for the North, South, East, West directional thing, or the desire to talk about "feelings".
Craig More than 1 year ago
Why should RA be penalized for not facing Careless Jewel or Icon Project ( Stardom Bound and JustWhistle Dixie are awol ). When RA won the Preakness she cemented her place on top in her division ( frankly, the Oaks probably did that ). Therefore, any other three year old filly whose connections thought she could be beat should have scheduled against her. The impetus was clearly on the other fillies to challenge RA. She had moved on to colts. Every race RA entered Icon Project and Careless Jewel could have followed. The better question to me is why didn't they? Clearly, if there was any ducking going on it was by the other fillies ducking RA and the competition she was facing. To think of penalizing RA because she didn't face a couple of fillies that wanted no part of her just doesn't jive.
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Whackymacky, Thanks for the advice and I will, no one wants to disappoint at Christmas time, Hanukkah, Quanza ( I know I spelled that wrong, sorry I was raised Catholic )or whatever people celebrate that time of year. I'm hoping the bounce back in your writing means that things by you are ok and life's back in perspective. When it comes to the race of life you and Steve T are neck and neck coming for home on my racetrack. In the male division that is. As far as picks? I'll post what I like from time to time, I'll keep the betting private, except for the people I deal with on a normal basis and a few of the posters on here. It isn't worth the agg. Though I see their point, it was silly of me in the first place. Should have known better. Be careful there with Chantel, she's cooled a bit as of late. Good luck to you in all your endeavors, and again I wish you and yours then best. Mike A
Annie More than 1 year ago
Hi, Slew! Chicago Gerry, LOL! People just can't help picking on us blondes. :) Annie
C More than 1 year ago
Mike, "AS far as history goes RA has one knock for me... who did she beat." You answered your own question. She beat Belmont/Travers/JCGC winner Summer Bird and Derby winner Mine That Bird, as well as the best older dirt males around. Years from now, nobody is going to remember (or care) how Monmouth played on Haskell Day 2009. We don't seem to bring up such trivia for other past greats.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Huh? Blackstone is right. The DRF entries show a reversal of Bejarano & Rosario on Sadler's two horses. I checked the Oak Tree site, and they also have it that way now, although Jeff Siegel's comment is Rosario on Coatcheck Girl. What does this mean?? I like both jockeys, but it does make me a little nervous since I'm not using one of the horses and relying heavily on the other in my HG wagers. They don't make it easy, do they? LOL While I was on Oak Tree's site, I found that Jeff Siegel has a list of his preliminary "Top 8" in each of the BC Divisions. Kind of interesting and gives an idea of who is likely to run in each race. Of course, nothing certain yet, but a start. Annie
Frankie M @ Toyota in Texas More than 1 year ago
HG 156@ SA-#4 salty Sarah -$100 win. Gomez Gomez Gomez nuff said.