12/31/2011 1:46PM

New Year's Eve Spot Plays

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Let's take a look at some Saturday spot plays:

Aqueduct - Race 6 - Restrainor Stakes:

Ah, the perils of handicapping 48 hours out.  In the drf.com video, I mentioned that I was "dating" my top selection, COALITION, and was going to dump him if he disappointed me one more time.  Instead, a late equipment change to "blinkers on" for LIVE FOR TODAY has me wavering in my devotion to Coalition.  So, Coalition, you're out. 

I'm a cad.  Sue me.

The scratch of the expected speed, FREUDIAN THERAPIST, may leave DISCO ON and Live for Today contesting moderate fractions.  Of the two, I prefer the latter, a New York-bred in name only (by Mineshaft out of a Danzig mare).  The $22,000 yearling buyback raced four wide behind a tepid pace when an even fourth behind Swag Daddy and Disco On in the Damon Runyon Stakes on December 4.  He draws a better post position this time around and switches riders to some guy named Dominguez. 

Now, watch Coalition beat me at a big price.

Selections:  LIVE FOR TODAY, COALITION, SWAG DADDY

***

Aqueduct - Race 8 - Alex M. Robb Stakes

I'll stick with my original opinion in the Robb.  Defending champion ICABAD CRANE makes the third start of the form cycle for Graham Motion and he received a tour of the racetrack in his most recent effort, the Adirondack Holme Stakes at one mile over a speed-favoring main track.  In the Adironack Holme, Icabad Crane raced four wide for the first quarter-mile before being angled to the inside late on the backstretch.  He split rivals on the turn, and altered course to the rail in midstretch only to angle back out three wide in the final eighth of a mile.  He was only beaten a length by GROOMEDFORVICTORY that day and the extra sixteenth of a mile presented to Icabad Crane today may work in his favor. 

The Robb has some other solid contenders.  STORMY'S MAJESTY, the winner of the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap in 2010, hasn't raced since being run down by Icabad Crane in the Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga.  He's had some foot issues, but trainer Dominic Gallusico has good numbers with similar layoff runners and Stormy's Majesty may shake loose early from the rail.  INHERIT THE GOLD reeled off five in a row during late 2010/early 2011 including the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes on April 2.  He missed the summer months with an ankle chip, but could be rounding back into his best form.  Groomedforvictory, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., is razor sharp and can certainly win again.  SPA CITY FEVER should be a big price, but he occasionally runs well enough to crack the exotics and could be more forwardly-placed.  What a fun race!

Selections:  Icabad Crane, Stormy's Majesty, Spa City Fever

***

Gulfstream - Race 11 - Mr. Prospector Stakes

There are some question marks regarding the fitness of two of the main players so I'll search for a price runner in the Mr. Prospector.  APRIORITY, second in the Grade 1 Carter on April 9, exits the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but he reportedly came out of that race with a grabbed quarter and it took him about a month to get back on the work tab.  Apriority should appreciate today's class relief, but he draws a tricky inside post and it's possible he was simply going off form in the fall after a long, hard campaign. CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN, promoted to first in the Grade 1 King's Bishop in 2009, has raced sparingly over the past two seasons.  After finishing third in the Grade 3 Aristides on June 4, Capt. Candyman returned lame and it was feared that he fractured a shoulder.  Thankfully, that doesn't appear to have been the case.  Capt. Candyman Can has run well off long, injury-induced layoffs in the past, but isn't a great gamble at short-ish odds. 

Instead, I'll take NATHAN'S H Q, shipping down from Aqueduct for trainer Clyde Martin.  Nathan's H Q was taken off the pace and four wide over a speed-favoring surface in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on November 24 and then had to swerve outward when another rival broke down.  To his credit, Nathan's H Q rallied under 131 lbs. to finish second by only a half-length.  He goes third off the layoff, draws a comfortable outside post position and has sneaky early speed.  He may park himself just off IMMORTAL EYES and THE HUNK on the backstretch, ready to pounce on the turn. 

INDIANO failed to change leads when beaten by Parx-loving ROYAL CURRIER in track record time in the $250,000 Gallant Bob Stakes on September 24, but he ran well over this surface when Grade 2-placed here in April.

Selections:  NATHAN'S H Q, INDIANO, CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN

***

Santa Anita - Race 8 - La Brea Stakes

TURBULENT DESCENT is a wonderful filly and is obviously the horse to beat in the Grade 1 La Brea.  A three-time Grade 1 winner, she had trouble when the beaten favorite in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on November 4.  While she should prove especially tough to down, I am concerned that she's only raced twice since June and will face some sharp runners in the La Brea. 

I'll take a shot with HOME SWEET ASPEN, a speedball drawn down on the rail.  An impressive gate-to-wire winner of the Louis R. Rowan Stakes over this surface on October 9, Home Sweet Aspen's recent form is dirtied up by a poor try against elders on grass at Hollywood.  That race was only a prep and she's better on the main track.  I'm hoping she can outfoot some quick ones to the front and still have enough left to hold off Turbulent Descent.  It's a tall order on paper so make sure the price is right. 

MAY DAY ROSE found a mile a furlong too far when an exhausted second in the Grade 2 Chilukki on Breeders' Cup Classic afternoon.  She opened up a clear lead in the stretch that day, but hopped back to her wrong lead and was overtaken late.  This turnback in distance should hit her right between the eyes for Bob Baffert.

Selections:  HOME SWEET ASPEN, MAY DAY ROSE, TURBULENT DESCENT

More importantly, who do you like today?  I want to know.

Have a safe New Year's Eve.

Dick W More than 1 year ago
Dale Although I don't know you well, I want you to know that my thoughts are with you and your family as you confront your health issues. I believe that one's attitude is of primary importance in recovery and you obviously have a great attitude. Best of luck to you. Dick W
Laura More than 1 year ago
Keith L, Regarding horses that stay at Aqueduct for the winter - besides the schedule interruption, horses that ship from cooler weather into warm weather typically don't do that well, especially those who've grown out their coats. Usually, the horses are given a winter cut - along their backs and sides to facilitate bathing and cooling out. horses shipping from warmer to cooler weather do just fine, since horses prefer colder weather. One example is horses shipping into Calder for the Summit of Speed in July. Many think the northern horses don't perform well because of the deeper track surface, when they really can't handle the extreme heat and humidity. Also, last year, Stay Thirsty shipped in for the FL Derby after winning the Gotham, instead of staying in NY for the Wood (talk about classic mismanagement for both Mo and Thirsty!). Thirsty finished up the track. Sure, there are probably a 100 excuses why he didn't do so well, but one of those factors could be the difference in temps in NY and FL at the end of March. I'm always wary of betting horses who head to FL after racing at Aqueduct for part of the winter. In the summer, it's a rare horse that can ship in and win at Calder. SR Vegas, I think there have been an abnormally high number of breakdowns at GP this year. Besides the 4 mentioned, I know of an additional 4 or 5 that have either broken down or had issues after working at the track. Is it the track or the horses? Could be a combo of both. Horses either at the end of a long campaign can become injured, as well as those starting back after a month or two of being on the farm. Unlike California, Florida has a nasty habit of sweeping things under the rug, so unless someone is actually monitoring and reporting on the injuries, nobody at the track will speak up, unless the horsemen get upset. Same goes for the drug violations. Very rarely reported even though they occur. Annie, If your horse sells for a million, you have to share with the syndicate!! Here's another book - Steve T. graciously sent me a copy a couple of years ago: Bruno On Workouts - Exposing The Mystery By Bruno De Julio Paperback 219 pages ISBN-10: 0615129595 ISBN-13: 978-0615129594 Available at Bruno's website for $35.90. Amazon is offering a used copy for $69! Evidently, DRF no longer carries the book, which is a shame. Here's Bruno's website: http://www.brunoonworkouts.com/ Laura
Tinky More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas – "Can one reasonable assume that the track surface had nothing to do with these horses results? What are the odds, four breakdowns during or after completing workouts that day?" No, one can't. In fact, the last two breakdowns took place on the same part of the track. Astronomical. I've never seen anything like it, though to be fair, it was three breakdowns (still quite rare) and a heart attack.
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Keith L, I forgot about Taulbot, but that is one of the best. Haven't looked at it since probably the early 80's, but it is a definite include if you can find it (I found it, used the thing is $100!!). He was one of the godfathers of pace handicapping, and even though the book was written in the early 60's, it is still relevant.
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
Dale, I was hesitant{from before} to bring this up about myself, because I didn't want to make any comparisons w/ your malady. But, just to give you some much needed support, I am a two time Cancer survivor. I'll be 58 in two days. Once at 38 & once at 43 for the same C{my C}..I had a Stage 2 & then a Stage 3+..Caught it just as it went into the muscle wall the 2nd time around. Talking about a wake-up call ? Made some much needed life changes, & haven't had a recurrence since.. I can/do commiserate........ So, "Knock on Wood...">Eddie Floyd, circa 1967.......& enjoy life... Good luck my man......Sincerely, Curt
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
Steve T. - your google doc is now in "my favorites" and you're right as rain; the short prices do jump right off your spreadsheet. I am somehow linked to you in some way and wrote this post right after you announced your score and your comments about GoGo being on fire. I hit one the other day (the 29th) for $20.00 that only paid $322.00 (3,4,6,7,8 w/6 w2,4 w/2 w/1,8,9,10). I am honored to share the same "electronic space" with someone who can nail Pick 5's and Pick 6's; especially at Santa Anita (my favorite track now that dirt is back). We went after the Pick 6 on the 29th and only got 6 conso.'s. Gomez beat us on the #5 in the feature. I wish I'd paid attention to your comment about him being hotter than a firecracker. We almost got our money back on the consolations... but it still hurt. I will never leave Gomez out of a Pick 6 again; especially from the 3 or 5 hole on the 6.5F down hill Turf course. He got me once before from the 3 hole at 6.5F on the down hill. I definitely got sucked into Martin Jones #7 horse because I have been making money from the Jones family during the Christmas holidays for years at Santa Anita. An old mentor of mine put me on the Jones Family (Father Gary/Grampa Farrell) Christmas season special many years ago and I must say that this is the first year I have been disappointed. Dale... I will pray for you and your recovery. A friend of mine underwent chemo and tried the floatation tank for recovery. She swears (and her doctor of all people) that her recovery and future health will revolve around salt water/magnesium floatation therapy.
C More than 1 year ago
IMO, American Turf Monthly isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Their articles are old news (although the online version might be more up-to-date), the "angles" are terribly outdated and, in some cases, totally absurd to begin with, and the magazine, in general, has a nasty habit of carefully cherry-picking isolated examples of successful touts. Just my opinion... I wouldn't waste the money on a subscription.
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
C: There is the American Turf Monthly Magazine by subscription for either on line or home delivery. It includes info on overseas turf racing, US turf racing, flats, and quite a lot of angles, betting strategies, reports on events in the racing world, special coverage on particular regions, and/or venues, etc. The current edition, for example, has a wonderful article by Lauren Stitch on "Betting Freshman Stallions", for just one teaser. The website does offer a free Newsletter that is sent by e-mail, and I find it usefull. For example, I first read there about the change in minimum wagers for the exotics at Oaklawn for the meet beginning mid-January. $50c Pick 3s at that venue now, besides the other changes. Supposely old Ray Taulbot articles that are reprinted are supposed to have been ediited and updated, but I find it necessary to change some of the factors on my own initiation, especially for inclusion or exclusion of "rules". BSB and Van Savant: I never bought the concept of the Tulbot's slide rule. How the heck could it diferentiate for surface conditions, track-venue variations, etc. was the question I always had...for example a shipper out of Phily to Aueduct, then back to Philly, then later into Belmont? Pace makes the race, but there is sure a lot of variations that go into "computing" such. Art form, not science! Let's leave the slide rules to the engineers! Keith L.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Keith L; Regarding Taulbot’s Pace Calculator (the slide rule), it has been an awful long time, but I believe that one simply used the DRF Speed Rating and the Track Variant to help derive the “Pace Number”, and then used either “their” conversion mechanism (or your own) to come up with your final figure based on the track. At the time when I used it, I knew what to add or deduct for each track because things seemed to be way more static. I dunno. And you are right, of course, that it was more art than science, but again, my recollection of the device was that its’ predictive powers were okay. I did not use it for off tracks, though. Understand that I used it way back in the day when I was a devoted disciple of Dr. Sartin’s Pace Methodology (The Methodology). But I used it defensively, only really relying on the “numbers” to keep me from trying to beat a virtually unbeatable low priced favorite, or trying to confirm my belief that a supposed no-hoper actually had a very good chance of hitting the board. As the years passed, I was/am able to do all of the “math” in my head as I handicap a race, but I still make notations in the margins of my racing papers. Tom Brohammer’s book “Modern Pace Handicapping” completely revamped my thinking on pace back in the mid-90’s, but as California racing moved away from dirt towards synthetic surfaces a few years ago, the truths/lessons contained within this book, and the practice of Pace Handicapping as he taught it have become much less relevant (or profitable) to me. Because of the success I enjoyed in the early days of synthetic racing (thanks in large part to the work of Alan and Uncle Steve), I have gravitated away from the practices and beliefs that I held many, many years ago. But that’s natural, I suppose, because the game is constantly changing anyway, in some form or another. It’s interesting to even be thinking of this stuff now, because I would never consider going back in time and handicapping or wagering races like I used to. But that’s because for many years, I couldn’t work out an annual profit from the races like I have for the last seven years. But I am a sap; I am still intrigued and interested in the old processes, I suppose.
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
The guy that killed that Baby Black Sea Bass should have his boat & truck sieZed and do some time in the slammer. That fish could have lived another 100 years and helped bring them back from the decimation caused by Scuba Divers. They are the most delicious of all fish ,buttZ... if you want to kill one go to Baja Califonia Sur where their numbers are still sustainable and don't kill the little ones. The guy was lucky it wasn't me ,Psycho, and the White Sea Bass King that saw him. I probably would have let the WSB King kung fu him around the parking lot a little before calling the cops.
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Wednesday notes... We, Rapid Redux did it again!!! 22 straight wins!!! Looked like they had his number today, but he won by 1 1/2 lengths. Pools: Win = $20,951.00 Place = $8,957.00 Show = $92,375 Good for him and his connections. Steve T WTG on the pick 5 scores. I think that is the best play in the game today. You have done a great job at the start of the SA meet. Keep it going!!! Whackymacky Out!!!
Blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Ray Taulbot, is that the one with the little fraction slide rule goodie ? If I find it in my attic I'll sell it for $50. I may have lost it as a loan out ,buttZ... I'll get out a step ladder and look around . The Science of Winning is one that might turn on a few light bulbs for more advanced players. I recently found an oldie (late 40s) in a used book shop called Payday at the Races. Mostly junk IMO,buttz... it has a nugget or two as most of them do. Books are good things even if they just remind you of what you already know.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
blackseakreskin; I still have my slide rule. It's a Ray Taulbot Pace Calculator. Both of the clear plastic slidy-things are broken, but I taped them up with Scotch Magic tape a long time ago (of course, you already knew this, but I wanted the group to know). I hope you find it (of course you will..you already know where it is...). I have many, many Taulbot articles archived on my computer. I copied them years ago and pasted them into Word. I haven't looked at them in a long time, but there is some good stuff in there. And especially his writing. His style was very formal and direct. Professorial, to a degree. I always wondered about the Pace Calculator software that used to be advertised (or still is?) in the back of ATM. My recollection of the slide rule gadget was that yes, it did have some predictive power when used in concert with other relevant information...kind of like Beyer Speed Figures can... I forget what it cost at the time. Funny stuff.