03/23/2017 5:18PM

Mor Spirit back in form


It's been a disappointing two weeks for Bob Baffert. 


MASTERY, arguably the best 3-year-old in the country, suffered a condylar fracture to his left front leg after an impressive victory in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 11. In mere seconds, Mastery went from Kentucky Derby favorite to helpless spectator. He underwent surgery and will miss the Triple Crown series.


AMERICAN ANTHEM, Baffert's Rebel Stakes entrant last Saturday at Oaklawn Park, lost a shoe, raced extremely wide throughout and retreated tamely to the back of the pack. He's not off the Derby trail just yet, but it was a frustrating performance for a lightly-raced colt with only a maiden win on his resume. 


It is still good to be Bob Baffert, however.

Not only does he have ARROGATE, the world's top-rated racehorse, primed and ready for Saturday's Dubai World Cup, but Baffert also conditions morning line favorite BRONZE AGE in Sunday's Sunland Derby and WEST COAST as one of the expected favorites in the upcoming Santa Anita Derby.


Baffert also has MOR SPIRIT, who appears to be reaching the vast potential he displayed earlier in this career.


Mor Spirit grabbed the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity over a distance-challenged TOEWS ON ICE as a 2-year-old, then won his sophomore debut in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He couldn't punch through as the favorite, though, in either the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, and some observers believed he seemed a bit lazy in portions of those races. Following a non-threatening tenth in the Kentucky Derby, Baffert pulled the plug. 


Mor Spirit went to the sidelines and wouldn't race again until the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on December 26. He ran pretty well for fourth that day considering the long layoff and some traffic issues, and then took a step forward when second to the hearty HOPPERTUNITY in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes, Mor Spirit's first start against older horses.


Baffert boasts gaudy statistics at Oaklawn, and it appeared that he found a wonderful spot for Mor Spirit in the $100,000 Essex Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the Rebel undercard. Sent away the 1 to 2 favorite in the seven-horse Essex, Mor Spirit was aggressively-handled by Mike Smith. He took pressure from both sides going into the clubhouse turn and ended up prompting pacesetter SHOTGUN KOWBOY through fractions of 23.48 and 46.63. Mor Spirit put Shotgun Kowboy away after 6 furlongs in 1:10.81, repelled challenges from MADEFROMLUCKY and DAZZLING GEM, and spurted clear late to prevail by 2 1/2 lengths over DOMAIN'S RAP. Mor Spirit completed the distance in 1:41.62 and was assigned a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure. 



Mor Spirit will now return to Southern California and it will be very interesting to see where Baffert runs him next. He looks like a really good middle-distance prospect. Perhaps races like the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont, or the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs would be within his grasp. He's relatively lightly-raced and one to follow.




...Dan can you post the PP’s for both Ramirez horses – Tough to the Bone and Willieverwin...



They're posted at the bottom of this blog post. 





On your new show last week, you picked Malagacy and stated you would need 5-1 to wager on him.  I know you make a value line as I do.

Barring scratches, are there any circumstances where you might change your mind and think you might have been too harsh on a horse?  For instance, after the wagering opens and proceeds.  

In the Form, Malagacy certainly looks like he has a chance but he does have questions.  Horses like that, I tend to make a note in the Form that if they are less than certain odds, to take a second look.  In Malagacy's case, I made him 6-1 on my value line and if he is 7/2 or less to maybe reconsider.

To me, he was "bet like a winner" from start to finish and then ran like it.




Unless there are scratches, I usually don't alter my value line. I had considered that Malagacy would take action based on the Pletcher/Castellano angle and that the public seems to have an affinity for undefeated horses. Even so, I couldn't take Malagacy to win at less than 5 to 1.

While I thought he would give a very good account of himself, there were too many questions concerning distance, a faster pace than he'd faced in his two Gulfstream races, and the hike in class. 


I do like your theory about taking a second look at horses that are taking lots of money. I can be a bit stubborn about my value line and perhaps I do need to be a bit more flexible.





Can you show the PP's for Emotional Drive, Grand Tito, & Natchez?

Thank you,



They're at the usual place near the bottom of the blog.




For those of you with an MKB runner, the updated biography book is at the bottom of this blog post. It was compiled courtesy of SR Vegas. 




For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/


Also, DRF TV is proud to announce the debut of "Out of the Gate," a handicapping program that will preview the weekend's best races. "Out of the Gate" will be uploaded to video.drf.com and Daily Racing Form's Facebook and YouTube pages on Friday afternoon at 3pm ET. An audio podcast version will also be available on iTunes and Soundcloud. I'll be on with Mike Beer and Matt Bernier and will be joined by DRF's Nicole Russo, Michael Hogan and Jonathon Kinchen as we give our thoughts and opinions on some of the weekend's best races. Please tune in!


You can check me out on Twitter @DRF_Dan Illman.


For up-to-date video releases from DRF, follow DRFTV on Twitter @DRFvideo.




Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 3/15/17 - 3/21/17:


1. MOR SPIRIT - 105 - Essex Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles - 18Mar17-8OP 

2. BLUEGRASS SINGER - 102 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 Mile - 15Mar17-10GP 

3. SHAFT OF LIGHT - 101 - OC 75k/C - 7 Furlongs - 16Mar17-10GP 

4. VALE DORI (ARG) - 100 - Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 18Mar17-9SA

5. LORD SIMBA - 97 - Md Sp Wt 55k - 6 Furlongs - 19Mar17-5SA 

5. SYNCHRONY - 97 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 20Mar17-9FG 

7. MATT KING COAL - 96 - Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 18Mar17-11LRL

8. DO SHARE - 95 - Alw 67000N1X - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 18Mar17-5AQU

8. EIGHTY THREE - 95 - OC 100k/C -N - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 18Mar17-3AQU

8. ENOLA GRAY - 95 - Irish O'Brien Stakes - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 18Mar17-7SA 

8. PEE WEE REESE - 95 - OC 40k/N1X -N - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 17Mar17-1SA 

12. DISTINTA - 94 - Inside Information Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 18Mar17-11GP 

13. STORMIN MONARCHO - 93 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 Mile - 18Mar17-7AQU

13. VALIANT CITY - 93 - OC c-40k/N2X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 17Mar17-8FG 

15. CLOTHES FALL OFF - 92 - Correction Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 18Mar17-8AQU

15. CONQUEST FARENHEIT - 92 - Pasadena Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 19Mar17-8SA 

15. LAKI - 92 - Not For Love Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 18Mar17-8LRL

15. LOS BORRACHOS - 92 - Clm 32000 - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 19Mar17-6AQU

15. PRIME ATTRACTION - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 18Mar17-4SA

20. ABBAA - 91 - OC 45k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 18Mar17-4OP 

20. IKE WALKER - 91 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 17Mar17-6SA 

20. KRISTI'S COPILOT - 91 - Alw 56000N1X - 1 Mile - 16Mar17-1SA 

20. MALAGACY - 91 - Rebel Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 18Mar17-10OP 

20. QUICK AND SILVER - 91 - Alw 32340NC - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 17Mar17-4GG 

20. TOM'S D'ETAT - 91 - OC 17k/N1X -N - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 20Mar17-8FG 


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


*Valiant City was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Joshua Sepulveda from Scott Becker.




Congrats to Edb for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.


Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 


Let's go with Saturday's Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park as 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!








willieverwin.pdf756.71 KB
emotionaltitonatches.pdf734.03 KB
MOR SPIRIT.pdf648.07 KB
Copy of HG 3 18 17 Rebel.xls50.5 KB
HG 3 18 17 Rebel notes.doc32.5 KB
HGSPIRAL.pdf209.13 KB
THE 2017 MKB BOOK of BIOS 3 22 17.doc64.41 KB