08/25/2016 12:58PM

Midnight Storm strong again

*As many of you have noticed, the "BLOG" tab on the home page has been removed. You can find this blog every week (usually published on Wednesday and Thursday) at drf.com/blogs or by going to the "NEWS" tab and clicking on the "Blogs" link. 
Trainer Phil D'Amato continued his strong run with Southern California turf routers as MIDNIGHT STORM (profiled in the July 28 edition of FormBlog - http://www.drf.com/blogs/damato-loaded-turf) captured the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile in gate-to-wire fashion last Sunday. 
The 3 to 10 favorite in a five-horse field, Midnight Storm basically won the race three strides out of the gate as Gary Stevens, aboard the swift OM, decided to concede the lead to the chalk. Rafael Bejarano took advantage, grabbed the lead and the rail, backed down the fractions to 22.82 and 46.66, and that was all she wrote. Om, making his first start since March 12, tried very hard after a pocket trip and was slowly inching into Midnight Storm's stretch lead, but Midnight Storm's tactical advantage was too great. He completed the distance in 1:33.92 and received a 106 Beyer Speed Figure. 
Midnight Storm will likely sit in mothballs until the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on November 5. Whether he got enough out of the Del Mar Mile, a fairly easy race from a pace standpoint before a pretty sizable layoff, is a question handicappers must answer when analyzing the Mile. It's also worth noting that D'Amato also has a Mile candidate in OBVIOUSLY, a veteran with a similar front-running style as Midnight Storm. If both make it to the Mile unscathed, would they cancel each other out on the lead?
Either way, Midnight Storm has had a strong season for D'Amato and looks like an interesting price horse for the Mile, especially if TEPIN and some strong European invaders take the bulk of the wagering. 
Also watch out for METABOSS, a D'Amato-trained 4-year-old that made an eye-catching late run to just miss a photo in last Saturday's Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap at 11 furlongs. A son of Street Boss, Metaboss won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby for trainer Jeff Bonde over Golden Gate's Tapeta surface last year, but went to the sidelines with an ankle chip and ended up on the bench for over a year. 
Metaboss began his comeback for Michael Dickinson in Maryland, but was the beaten favorite in three middle-distance races before being transferred to D'Amato. The colt rallied from last to win his return to Southern California, a one-mile optional claimer on July 23 before his big effort in the Del Mar Handicap.
Metaboss has always shown promise on turf and synthetic surfaces and appears to be coming into his own. Whether Metaboss is a true Breeders' Cup Turf candidate remains to be seen, but there are races for this talented horse. 
*It's wonderful to see the undefeated and immensely-talented LADY ELI back in the entries off such a long, injury-induced layoff, but she'll have to have them nailed on tight to defeat such salty fillies as MISS TEMPLE CITY and SENTIERO ITALIA in the Ballston Spa Stakes. Personally, I like the former, a filly that made her name by beating males in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile during the Keeneland spring meet. After a good run at Royal Ascot, Miss Temple City returned to the States with a bang-up effort in the Grade 1 Diana on July 23. She was rated hard in the early going, was forced to angle sharply to the rail in midstretch, and galloped out with gusto.
*...Mr. Dan - can you please post the pp's of Paynter...
They're available at the bottom of this blog post. 
*Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at a special start time of 2:00 ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com. This week, we'll cover the stakes races from Saratoga on Travers Saturday as well as the Iselin from Monmouth, the Seaway from Woodbine and the Pat O'Brien from Del Mar. 
*You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 8/17/16 - 8/23/16:
1. CALIFORNIA CHROME - 113 - Pacific Classic (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 20Aug16-9DMR
2. TOURIST - 107 - Fourstardave Handicap (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 20Aug16-9SAR
3. MIDNIGHT STORM - 106 - Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 21Aug16-4DMR
4. ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR - 102 - Del Mar Handicap (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 20Aug16-8DMR
4. DISCO PARTNER - 102 - Troy Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Aug16-5SAR
4. MESSI (GER) - 102 - Sky Classic Stakes (G2-C) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 21Aug16-7WO
7. CAN'THELPBELIEVING - 101 - Cliff Hanger Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 21Aug16-8MTH
8. TALE OF LIFE (JPN) - 100 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - 19Aug16-5SAR
9. GLENVILLE GARDENS - 98 - Play the King Stakes (G2-C) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Aug16-8WO 
9. MACAGONE - 98 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 22Aug16-7SAR
9. NAVY HYMN - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 21Aug16-8DMR
9. WELL MEASURED - 98 - OC 62k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 21Aug16-8DMR
13. TIME AND MOTION - 97 - Lake Placid Stakes (G2) - 21Aug16-8SAR
14. NIGHT OFFICER - 96 - OC 80k/C - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 18Aug16-8SAR
14. SOUPER KNIGHT - 96 - OC 40k/N1X - 7 Furlongs - 20Aug16-4DMR
16. COPINGAWAY - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 19Aug16-9SAR
16. FARHAAN - 95 - Wcl c-40000 - 1 Mile (Turf) - 19Aug16-4SAR
16. HOT CITY GIRL - 95 - Union Avenue Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 18Aug16-9SAR
16. PERFECTLY MAJESTIC - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 20Aug16-3DMR
16. SONGBIRD - 95 - Alabama Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 20Aug16-10SAR
21. DO NOT ENTER - 94 - Alw 29568N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 20Aug16-1AP 
21. JOHN JONES - 94 - Mister Diz Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - 20Aug16-10LRL
21. SPLASH RULES - 94 - OC 12k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 20Aug16-4GP 
21. WE BE STORMIN - 94 - Alw 22590C - 7 Furlongs - 19Aug16-5LAD
25. AIRE BUENO (CHI) - 93 - OC35k/SAL35k - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 19Aug16-9GP 
25. CORT - 93 - Alw 85000N1X - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 17Aug16-7SAR
25. HARMONIZE - 93 - Del Mar Oaks (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 20Aug16-6DMR
25. WEEKEND HIDEAWAY - 93 - Alw 85000NC - 6 Furlongs - 22Aug16-6SAR
California Chrome's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Farhaan was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Carlos Martin from Kiaran McLaughlin. 
*Congrats to Ron Z. for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
We'll try the Travers from Saratoga for this week's exercise. 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
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 2016
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!


PAYNTER.pdf606.77 KB
Copy of HG 8 20 16 4StarDave.xls56 KB
HGTRAVERS.pdf205.81 KB
Okiesharp More than 1 year ago

Acceleration on the turn

It’s been mentioned in the past that horses that can accelerate on the turn may have an advantage. This makes me wonder how big a role does the jockey play in this scenario.  Is it the horse’s natural ability or do the jockeys get the horses to change to their right lead just before entering the turn?   Some horses just maintain their position on the turn and then accelerate on the strait away.  Changing leads has been covered on the blog before but I still can’t recognize it.  I don’t know what the jockey does to signal the horse to change leads?  Anyone got any insight on this as I’ve been unable to contact Mr. Ed?


Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Back at the Spa today. Early Pick 5.
50 cent play x 10 tickets.
1,2,3,4 // 2,3 // 3,4,5 // 3,5,6 // 5,7,8.
W/P $300/$600
R2. #1
R3. #3
R4. #5
R5. #3
R6. #8
Good Luck!
Whackymacky Out!!!
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago

A Blog friend sent me a link to an article on Strike Charmer at Twin Spires. Some quotes by trainer Mark Hennig and the jockey. Jock Alvarado told Hennig this in regards to the prior buried trip  If I get her outside, she really wants to punch.’ He said she was making up ground last time and she really wasn't even fully extending herself. He felt like having learned something from riding her once, it would be wise to just kind of sit.”  Hennig said “We talked in the paddock after watching the Flintshire race and I told him, ‘Don't get stuck behind that rabbit because everybody's going to be lined up at the quarter pole thinking they're coming off the rail.’

It was clear to me from earlier races the mare liked an outside runs. It took the jock one ride in the Diana to figure it out. I wish he had figured that out in the Diana when she was 32-1 and I was all over her.

The above quote gives me the chills. Don’t most turf horses prefer an outside stretch run. If you are not sure as a rider, assume this is the case. For every one inside maven like Seek Again there are 10 who like it outside. Job 1 with a closer is know how quick your horse can run the last 5/16th.Job 2 stay within that range. Job 3 move to outside for unimpeded run so your horse can produce that best burst of 5/16th run.  If you have ample horsepower and follow these rules then job 4 is smile for the winner’s picture.

Putting out public picks are tough. Especially for a full card. I got a complimentary Bob Baedeker tip sheet yesterday at Del Mar. We know Bob from TVG. He is best known as the only man on planet Earth to consume more chalk than Mike Battaglia and live to tell. There were 8 races scheduled at Del Mar. Bob selected 5 betting favorites with two top pick horses scratching in other races who would have been hammered. So 5 favorites out of 6 races. He managed one winner on the card. The one winner was in the feature at $3.00 and a $7.40 ex pick. I suppose the folks that pay for tip sheets are not hard core bettors  like us in this community. So picking favorites for the newbies makes sense from that know your customer view. The funny thing about tip sheets sellers is this – I walk by their stands the next day and they all say I had 5 top winners, 4 exactas, 3 trifectas and a pick 5. I once called out a guy in front of the Saratoga gates who was saying that. I showed him his own yesterday’s picks. He said “please move on sir, just trying to make a livin’”.I told him I fully understand trying to make a livin’. I do not understand lying. The only tipsheet I have seen that comes with prices that actually run well is the ECHR by Rob Hennie.It is consistently solid plus the commentary is good. I give him extra points since he shares my disdain for the“superfeeds.”

Sonny & GBL

Thanks for the suggestion. I lost my father at 51 to a sudden heart attack.I do watch that. I will check out those recipes!

Thanks for the endure/caloric link. Wow, that sure had some calculations in it. I want to monitor this weight thing. It likely is no silver bullet but something I think that cannot hurt.


Seems we agree on form transfer on different surface. I was trying to get to whether you or the community give any credence to young animals form that run a few times on dirt when they move to grass. For example, If I saw a Birdstone run decent /good figures on dirt but appear on turf it is an auto bet against opportunity for me if he is being backed. I assume regression will occur. There are other non-turf sires for me that trainers still try on grass. Most of the betting opportunities occur the other direction when lower profile turf sires move to turf after poor dirt starts.

Ed Kay More than 1 year ago

Little Deb,


Thanks for your congrats. But I feel for you.


Contrary to the old ABC sports commercial, the agony of defeat is not completely blowing up. Rather it’s when a well thought out subtle thrust just misses. Keep that up and you will eventually leave us all choking on your dust.


Regards,   Ed Kay

Debra Russell More than 1 year ago


..... If I might interject concerning your Beyer inquiries, here's my take: 

In school for example, every Grade/Form gives out "A's, B's, C's", etc. However, a fifth Grade "A" is not the same as a six Grade "A", nor a seventh Grade "A".  Sometimes, a fifth Grader's "A" might be so good, that he would readily fit in if moved up to the sixth Grade during the school year.  Similarly, a horse winning by 5+ lengths or showing the highest Beyer of 5+ points may run just as well when moved up in class. 

... In using the Beyers then,  I find it necessary to handicap the race first, to see where each horse fits, and then I use the Beyers.  Like some of the posters have said, Beyers  can be used as a quick gauge of the horse's form, if you are in a hurry, or as mentioned earlier, as a means of separation, at the end of your handicapping.  It should not be used by itself, since it does not tell you the class of the horse, anymore than an "A" or a "B" by itself, tells you the Grade/Form of a child.  Happy handicapping to you Sir.

.............Thanks for reading.

...................................................Little Deb

Dick Wright More than 1 year ago
Spartan Tom and Little Deb

Thanks for the mention !

Dick W
Anonymous More than 1 year ago


I see you have a couple of questions for me. Question 1: Well, first of all, I would need a bit more info on the second time starters. Like were they well bet off good works. And did they break slowly and never really get their wheels under them, and worked well since. That kind of thing.

However, I am attracted to well-bred firsters with good works and good trainers. A trainer named Bob would be even better, but a Todd or a Chad could be dangerous too. :) Without extenuating circumstances, I would probably opt for one of the firsters, as some second time starters even regress in their second start, and unless they showed something to indicate that they would run better it would be difficult to predict their progression off only one race. I don't believe there is any set number you can assume they will improve by, as some of them don't.

Question 2: I really just meant that you can't assume that the horse will equal his best Beyers when switching surfaces. Very few horses run equally well on turf and dirt. There have been a few, but they were just superior horses overall. I guess that agrees with your assessment of the situation. And then we get a horse like BELVOIR BAY. :)

Bottom line is, there is no magic formula or set of numbers that assures the winner of a race. All we can do is take the info we have, roll it around in our head and hope we have the right answer. :)


Debra Russell More than 1 year ago

Ed Kay

... Congratulations on your choice last week.  Hope the prize comes in handy, and the win is the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. 

... Dick W. & Dylbert

   Congratulations also to you both, for what I gather, are feats of excellence in your recent handicapping.  Lots of luck to you both. 

... SR Vegas

   Without wearing out plaudits, if that's possible; "you're the best".  When reading your response to the D'Q winner's friend last week, I thought to myself, "God this lady is good". 

    You do so much for this blog, with your skills.  Maybe you should try your hand at a job with the UN.  Solomon could have learned from you.  This blog owes so much to women like you and Annie.

     Back to us normal people though, RE .. your "honorable mention", thanks soooo much!! 

 I try not to swear, as much as possible, but this is true---When I sat down to type my bets last week, I had the #14 in the third spot, but could only manage two $0.30 Supers with the #10 & #2 in front, and, one $0.20 Super with the #1 in front.  Thinking that those amounts would not offer too great a chance of winning, I moved a few horses from the third spot to fourth, believing that the #s 8,9 & 10 would keep the #14 from getting to the rail too easily.  Dan(Brutus) said it right about the race.  If Connect(#10) had not banged so hard into Gift Box(#9) which banged into Destin(#8) & Exaggerator(#7), then the results would have been a little different.  At the least, three of those horses, shooting for the front, would have kept Gun Runner(#14) at bay somewhat longer, resulting in a different first-four at the quarter pole, including Gift Box(#9). 

    Bob Baffert also took the blinkers off of American Freedom(#2), preventing any speed duel between his two charges.  The race was over with Connect's brutal attack. 

    Gov. Malibu's gaining to fifth, just shows that he was the best of the Jim Dandy bunch, but still not as good as the unimpeded Haskel bunch;  or even the Curlin Stake bunch, for that matter.  Forever d'Oro was a ready toss, with his fifteen point Beyer jump.

     My final point, and as mentioned before, is that few races are run without incidents or errors.  As such, we have to insert that into our handicapping, and hope for a little luck, which is part of every winning or losing wager.  WOW, I could have won with that $0.20 Super!!!!

Continued Good Luck to everyone, and kind regards.

...................................................................Little Deb

Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Late Pick 4. Spa Wednesday.
10,11 // 3,4,6,7 // 2,3,7 // 1,4,7,13
50 cent play x 10
$300 Win // $600 Place
R7. #11
R8. #4
R9. #2
R10. #7
Good Luck!
Whackymacky Out!!!
Sonny Crockett More than 1 year ago
You might appreciate dietary suggestions in "End of Heart Disease" (J.Fuhrman, MD). Lots of analytical details to mull during exercise (who's on the other end of the walkie-talkie?:) Recipes not bad either. Was in the same boat and quickly dropped 8-10 lbs. Gotta find that "Miami Vice" physique!

Sonny C