12/29/2016 1:52PM

Neolithic one to follow

California Chrome delighted a big crowd at his home track of Los Alamitos in the Winter Challenge Stakes.

The race was nothing more than a paid public workout against overmatched horses and shouldn't be analyzed any deeper than that. The margin of victory (12 lengths) and Beyer Speed Figure (104) are both meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The point was to maintain fitness and California Chrome certainly looked in shape. 


Arrogate will start as the favorite against a smaller, but much tougher field in Sunday's Grade 2 San Pasqual at Santa Anita. If the Breeders' Cup Classic hero wins again, the rematch with California Chrome should occur in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on January 28. 
The Pegasus field is starting to take shape with runners like 2015 Travers winner Keen Ice, South American import Eragon, Shaman Ghost and longshot Semper Fortis committed to race.
If everything goes according to plan on Sunday, the Pegasus will look like a two-horse barn-burner, a fitting end to California Chrome's stellar career as he hopes to vanquish the horse that conquered him in the Classic.

Of the horses not named California Chrome and Arrogate being considered for the race, however, one horse looks very interesting from a long-term perspective. 

Neolithic, a $460,000 Keeneland yearling purchase by Harlan's Holiday out of the multiple stakes-winning turf router Swingit (by Victory Gallop), always hinted at ability for trainer Todd Pletcher. After winning second-time out as a 2-year-old, Neolithic went to the sidelines for almost eight months. He returned in a salty entry-level allowance and was his own worst enemy coming out of the gate, breaking a beat slow and then drifting out terribly at the back of the pack in the opening furlong. Neolithic gave up too much ground to win, but he came with a strong late run to finish second behind a then-promising favorite in Summer Revolution. 
That race confirmed that Neolithic didn't lack talent, but his inexperience was glaring, especially for a Pletcher-trained runner. Two disappointing efforts followed, including one trouble-filled race at Belmont. All of a sudden, it looked as if Neolithic wasn't going anywhere fast. 
Pletcher added blinkers for the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct last month and Neolithic looked like a completely different horse. He broke sharp, rated kindly just off the early leader and finished with a solid run to be second at big odds. He backed up that performance with a dominating effort in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on December 14. 
It wouldn't be a balanced analysis without discussing a more sober viewpoint. The Discovery featured slow fractions that led to a two-speed number. The allowance race at Gulfstream came against a field that was much weaker than the crew that California Chrome toyed with at Los Alamitos. Some handicappers might rightly point out that Neolithic hasn't proved anything against anybody. 
I'm going to take the positive approach that the blinkers coupled with more distance suits Neolithic and, as a lightly-raced 3-year-old, there is the possibliity for even better down the road. 
Beating California Chrome and Arrogate is highly unlikely, perhaps impossible, but if Neolithic does run in the Pegasus World Cup and comes out of the race relatively unscathed, I'd like to follow him down the road as he develops. 
*With Masochistic being declined an entry into Saturday's Midnight Lute Stakes, St. Joe Bay (profiled in the December 8 edition of FormBlog - http://www.drf.com/blogs/sharp-sprinter-consider) will receive a golden opportunity to become a graded stakes winner for trainer Peter Miller. If it's to happen for St. Joe Bay, a horse I've always considered talented, it's probably against this kind of field. 
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
Also, Mike Beer, Jonathon Kinchen and I will be on for free and fun handicapping analysis at 3pm ET on Saturday for DRF Live!. This week, we'll discuss Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and more. You can find us at live.drf.com.

Plus, there will be a special DRF Bets bonus offer only for DRF Live viewers. 

You can check me out on Twitter at DRF_Dan Illman
Best Practices is an IT terminology but I firmly believe it could be applied to horse racing as well - especially when it comes to wagering.
Everybody is welcome to shed light on light but I ask Dan Da Man specifically if he follow best practices - if any - when it comes to wagering and what are they?
These are more basic and general rules of thumb, but they work for me.

My whole wagering strategy is based on discipline. For win bets, it is imperative for me to focus solely on overlays and avoid anything else. I make a personal value line for each race and will only play horses to win that exceed those odds. If those horses do not make the grade, I'll consider improving their value by keying on top in single-race exotics like the Trifecta. If I think a horse should be 5 to 1 and he wins at 3 to 1, I won't consider it a missed opportunity. In my mind, that horse didn't offer enough value to warrant a win wager. 

While I'd love to make a hard-and-fast rule like "I will not bet any horse at less than 4 to 1," I do realize that every race presents a unique wagering opportunity. I try not to bind myself to "Always" and "Never" as it pertains to wagering/dutching/etc. other than the overlay mandate. 

Most of my betting comes in the form of multiple-race wagers. I stick to a pre-arranged budget and won't force the bet. For me, a wager like the Pick 5 (or Pick 6 or Pick 4) is more of an "Avoid 1" as in avoid a losing leg (I believe Steve Crist discusses this in Exotic Betting). Thus, I need coverage while weighing and pressing my strongest opinions. If I can't confidently eliminate horses, and the bet becomes too expensive, I have no problem bailing out. 
I'm a data nerd and like to keep detailed records of my wagering. I want to know how I fare in certain types of races and wagers. For example, in 2016, I did my best work in maiden special weights going long on the turf and stunk up the joint in overall turf sprints. I did well in certain multiple-race wagers and not so well in others. Record-keeping is also helpful in tracking the value line. Am I way off in my thinking? How many of my overlays won? How many were dead wrong?
Whether it's handicapping or gambling, I'm constantly trying to learn from my errors and refine my methods. I find that a good scoresheet helps me focus on what is and isn't working.
I think the best practice any handicapper/horseplayer should concentrate on is to focus more on the wagering aspect than the overall handicapping. Too often, I find myself slaving over a race looking for a "selection" when I should be thinking about how to make money on the race. 
Once again, Laura has been kind enough to plan our annual FormBlogger's convention! Here are the details. 
The 6th (or is it 7th) annual Formblogger’s Convention is slated for March 10 – 12 at Gulfstream Park.  
Special room rates at the Hampton Inn will be available & I offer shuttle service to/from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, which is roughly a 20 min. drive. Sometimes 15 min. if I run the red lights.  I haven’t lost anyone or had an accident…yet.
As usual, our generous benefactor Mike Nyman will comp us a private suite overlooking the track. As usual, there will be laughter, serious discussions, catching up with old friends, not so old friends, and newcomers.  
Bets will be made, won and lost. Indecision, high fives, tears,whining and red boarding may be a part of the process. As usual, the betting machine will malfunction at least once.
As usual, our Fearless Leader Dan Who will join us and quietly cash in on a huge bet. He will also receive risqué blue undergarments suitable for either male or female. 
As usual, a race will be named in our honor & we’ll visit the paddock before the race and have a photo taken in the winner’s circle afterward. 
If you’d like to be a part of the mayhem, please contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com 
Updates will be posted as the date draws near.
Annie and SR Vegas have compiled the 2017 MKB Draw Biography Document, which features the soon-to-be 3-year-olds that were included in the recent MKB draw. 
The document can be found at the bottom of this blog post. Enjoy!
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 12/21/16 - 12/27/16:
1. MIND YOUR BISCUITS - 109 - Malibu Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 26Dec16-8SA 
2. BETTYS BAMBINO - 103 - San Simeon Stakes (G3) - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 26Dec16-6SA 
3. CONQUEST ENFORCER - 99 - Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 26Dec16-9SA 
4. CONSTELLATION - 95 - La Brea Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 26Dec16-7SA 
5. BALLAGH ROCKS - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec16-9GP 
5. DANZATRICE - 93 - Tiffany Lass Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 26Dec16-5FG 
7. DELTA PRINCE - 91 - Md Sp Wt 36k - 1 Mile (Turf) - 26Dec16-8GP 
8. EDZACTLY - 90 - OC 25k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 22Dec16-4PEN
8. PROFESSOR BERNS - 90 - OC 40k/N1X - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec16-4SA 
10. SPECIAL OPS - 89 - Alw 40000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 22Dec16-8FG 
11. AFLEET WILLY - 88 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 24Dec16-6LRL
12. EMINENT FORCE - 87 - OC25k/SAL16k - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 21Dec16-10GP 
12. HE'S GOT TALENT - 87 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 7 Furlongs - 23Dec16-8GP 
14. HIP HOP N JAZZ - 86 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec16-6FG 
14. LAKI - 86 - Md 25000(25-20) - 6 Furlongs - 24Dec16-4LRL
16. AVENTADOR (FR) - 85 - OC 32k/N2Y -N - 1 Mile - 21Dec16-3TUP 
16. GRACIOUS PLENTY - 85 - Clm c-16000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec16-2GP 
16. MITOS Y LEYENDAS - 85 - OC10k/SAL8k - 6 Furlongs - 26Dec16-4GP 
16. WAGING WAR - 85 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 26Dec16-8FG  
20. HE'S A PEPPER - 84 - Alw 34605N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 26Dec16-7GG 
20. WHAT POWER - 84 - Alw 50000s - 1 Mile (Turf) - 22Dec16-9GP 
20. WHERE'S WOODY - 84 - Clm c-8000 - 6 Furlongs - 26Dec16-2MVR
23. BLU MOON ACE - 83 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 26Dec16-8LRL
23. ITSNOTEZBEINBREEZY - 83 - Alw 20250N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 23Dec16-8TAM
23. TURNCOAT - 83 - 1 Mile (Turf) - Clm 25000(25-20)B - 23Dec16-4FG 
The lifetime past performances for Mind Your Biscuits are available at the bottom of this blog post.
Gracious Plenty was claimed for $16,000 by trainer Angel Medina from Todd Pletcher.
Where's Woody was claimed for $8,000 by trainer Glenn Kopp from Jeffrey Radosevich.
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 12/14/16 - 12/20/16:
1. CALIFORNIA CHROME - 104 - Winter Challenge Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 17Dec16-9LRC
1. NEOLITHIC - 104 - Alw 37000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles - 14Dec16-9GP 
3. STANFORD - 103 - Harlan's Holiday Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 17Dec16-7GP 
4. DIVERSIFY - 100 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 14Dec16-4AQU
4. GREEN MASK - 100 - Bonapaw Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 17Dec16-3FG 
4. STALLWALKIN' DUDE - 100 - Gravesend Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 18Dec16-8AQU
4. STORY TO TELL - 100 - Alw 25000s - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 16Dec16-7AQU
8. WAR STORY - 99 - Queens County Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 17Dec16-8AQU
9. BAVARO - 98 - New York Stallion Series Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 17Dec16-3AQU
10. CASH CONTROL - 97 - Blushing K D Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 17Dec16-5FG 
10. HONORABLE DUTY - 97 - Tenacious Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 17Dec16-8FG 
10. ZULU - 97 - Tamarac Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 18Dec16-3GP 
13. HEART TO HEART - 96 - El Prado Stakes - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 17Dec16-8GP 
13. WAIT YOUR TURN - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 16Dec16-8AQU
15. CHIEF LION - 95 - OC 100k/C -N - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 16Dec16-3AQU
15. DEAREST - 95 - Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 17Dec16-4GP 
17. BIG LOUIE D - 94 - Alw 51500N1X - 6 Furlongs - 17Dec16-5PRX
18. WESTERN RESERVE - 93 - Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 17Dec16-7FG 
19. AMERICANIZE - 92 - Md Sp Wt 46k - 6 Furlongs - 17Dec16-7LRC
19. BOND VIGILANTE - 92 - Clm c-32000 - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 14Dec16-2AQU
19. DAC - 92 - Prairie Bayou Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - 17Dec16-6TP 
19. ESKENFORMONEY - 92 - Rampart Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - 17Dec16-5GP 
19. ILIAD - 92 - Md Sp Wt 47k - 6 Furlongs - 18Dec16-9LRC
19. PATTON PROUD - 92 - Wcl 14000N3L - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 14Dec16-5AQU
19. SPLASHTASTIC - 92 - Alw 67000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 18Dec16-5AQU
19. TASHREEH - 92 - Alw 50000s - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 17Dec16-7AQU
The lifetime past performances for California Chrome and Neolithic are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Bond Vigilante was claimed for $32,000 by trainer Chris Englehart from David Jacobson. 
Congrats to Pig Bodine 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 the Grade 1 American Oaks from Santa Anita 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!



mindyourbiscuits.pdf716.78 KB
californiachrome.pdf800.8 KB
NEOLITHIC.pdf647.18 KB