10/19/2009 5:19PM

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,