10/08/2011 11:14AM

Oak Tree Mile, First Lady Stakes, Hawthorne Gold Cup


Let's take a look at some of the major stakes races scheduled for this weekend:

Santa Anita - Race 9 - Oak Tree Mile:

I'm really looking forward to this race.  MR. COMMONS, third in the Santa Anita Derby and a contestant in the Preakness Stakes, has really found a home since being switched to the grass.  He took his turf debut in the restricted Oceanside Stakes on opening day at Del Mar and then ran a bang-up second in his first race against older horses, the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile.  He had missed a little time in between the Oceanside and Del Mar Mile with a bruised foot, but still earned a career-best speed figure and it looks like he's rounding into form as he makes his third start of the form cycle.  There is pace in heer for Mr. Commons to attack and he should give another good performance for trainer John Shirreffs.

Selections:  Mr. Commons, Crown of Thorns, Calimonco


First Lady - Race 7 - Keeneland:

THEYSKENS' THEORY will switch from turf to polytrack for the First Lady and is now under the tutelage of Shug McGaughey.  I'm not that concerned about the surface switch as we've seen good grass form successfully translate to synthetic surfaces and Theyskens' Theory ran a bang-up second in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont on September 17.  She was bumped early and seemed a bit eager heading into the first quarter-mile, but Garrett Gomez soon settled her down to track the slow pace while three wide and they surged to the front in upper stretch.  It's not like Theyskens' Theory was stopping - she ran her final three-eighths in 34.56 - but she couldn't contain the grey locomotive, Winter Memories, in the lane.  I like the slight cutback in distance and she'll get three pounds from her older rivals (she beat older horses in Europe two back).

Selections:  Theyskens' Theory, Daveron, Never Retreat


Hawthorne Gold Cup - Race 9 - Hawthorne:

My friend, PGM, isn't going to like it, but he's used to my fascination with GIANT OAK and I'm going to pick him one more time.  I thought I was slowly cured, having not picked Giant Oak in his last three races, but the pace of the Hawthorne Gold Cup looks pretty fast (Cherokee Lord, Rule) and he could get the setup he absolutely needs.  In his most recent race, the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga, Giant Oak was placed closer to the pace than usual and he was down on the inside (his trainer, Chris Block, maintains that Giant Oak does his best running from outside and from way back).  He still finished up evenly for fifth against some of the better handicap horses in training and will get a class drop in the Gold Cup.
He's not the most trustworthy runner in the world, obviously, but this looks like an opportunity for him to get back on the beam.

Selections:  Giant Oak, Rule, Where's Sterling


Here are quick and dirty selections for some of the other major stakes:

TCA:  Switch, Rapport, Holiday for Kitten
Jamaica:  Brilliant Speed, Western Aristocrat, Casino Host
Frizette:  My Miss Aurelia, Stopshoppingmaria, Holiday Soiree
Woodford:  Magoo, Great Attack, Varsity
Breeders' Futurity:  Take Charge Indy, Majestic City, Shared Property
Shadwell Turf Mile:  Zoffany, Gio Ponti, Sidney's Candy
Champagne:  Union Rags, Power World, Right to Vote
Ancient Title:  The Factor, Amazombie, Mensa Heat
Bourbon (Sunday):  Lucky Chappy, Here Comes Frazier, Monastic
Spinster (Sunday):  Stars to Shine, Tapitsfly, Pachattack


For a more in-depth look at these stakes races, check out the video previews that Mike Beer and I produced (click on the link below, head down to the second video player and click on the race name):


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

AlydarandEasy More than 1 year ago
C Every superfecta race I handicap goes on a summary sheet. This contains the following: ---race conditions ---number of horses ---odds ---all of the payouts ---handicapping factors and notes ---selections ranked from 1-N ---selections rated (key and contenders only) and probably the most important feature ---shorthand notation for describing what came in At the end of the year, I do a count of all the races that I handicapped for that particular year. It looks something like this: Qual. Non-Qual. 7 llll llll llll llll ll 8 llll llll llll lllll llll llll llll llll llll llll 9 llll llll llll llll llll llll lllll llll llll 10 and so on for each of the field sizes. 11 12 13 14 Of course, each of the four lines would have a digagonal through it to indicate a count of five. The count is important because the cost of the superfecta varies according to field size. I simply multiply the bet for that particular size field by the number of races in that field. I then total the amounts from all of the different field sizes to get a grand total. You then total up the amount of money won from the superfectas and subtract it from the the amount wagered, to determine how much you should have won or lost. This amount will be similiar to my actual results, but will always be slightly different because the above assumes "perfect play", while in real life you are always going to have some errors, such as: betting the wrong horses, getting shut out on some or all of your wagers, late scratches, that you were unable to cancel and replace, etc. This is only calculated for qualified races---the non-qualified races are only used for my "weird" formulas, such as single transposes, double-transposes, and the like. I have been working on my general theory of superfectas. From it, I'm trying to answer the following questions: What comes in with your key horse when it finishes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th? What is the frequency? Which groups, sub-groups, and sub-sub-groups are profitable? By how much are they profitable? These are the four groups I have been studying, and the aprroximate frequencies: Group One---key horse with no contenders---1/16 Group Two---key horse with one contender---5/16 Group Three---key horse with two contenders---1/2 Group Four---key horse with three contenders---1/8 Group four is the group that is analagous to a 4-horse box, and the subject of my previous post. Here's how I obtained these frequencies. I used a similiar chart to the one above, with some minor differences (qualified races only): I II III IV 0 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 I recorded which group each race fell under. Group 0 is for when my key horse didn't finish in the top four. I have been making these charts since 2002, and have simply kept a running tally through the years. The overall frequencies are listed above. The group four frequencies were broken down by field size, and used in my previous post. I fully realize that the numbers are goung to change somewhat in the coming years---particularly the 7-horse field ones. New York has only allowed superfectas in 7-horse fields since 2009, and since N.Y.R.A. and Finger Lakes are two of the tracks that I regularly play, I expect that the changes may be significant by the end of this year or next.
hunter4fun More than 1 year ago
HG $100 to win #7
Yogi More than 1 year ago
MSD, That's what we were saying. Why rush her back. Let her rest and come back for what could be a monstrous 4YO season. I guess that's why we don't own race horses.
David M More than 1 year ago
To PGM: Going to KEE this weekend. I see Divito has two in there Friday. The first is in a $7,500 claimer at ML of 5-2. She looks like a factor versus this bunch off two good efforts for $10,000 at AP. Divito is now 15 for 30 with first timers and ROI of $4.93. He has a 2 year old filly in a MSW at 12-1. She is bred for speed Indian Charlie out of Smoke Glacken mare. Works are not speedy but I think that may be his style. This one has 4 gate works, not sure if he is problematic leaving there but sometimes you have to take it on faith. I have good luck with Indian Charlie's in sprints and with the trainer stats it is my kind of play. There will be some quality runners in this field although most are debuting. Summer Tremor is out of the good Heat Lightning mare, Catalano has one making start two after an unclean debut, and I suspect Spring Street will take action with his pedigree. Interested to see what Dan reports in his Babies for October 14. If you get a chance to review your thoughts or anyone's else would be appreciated.
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Is Daniel Vergara related to Octavio ? Blackstone , I believe I remember P.Ensign saying some time ago that he looks for and bets lone speed. Listening to The Dogman & Watchmaker talk about recency it struck me that they don't really get it. They mentioned 21 days and said you'd be hard pressed to find a horse that ran within 21 days. So ? Then look for horses that started within 30 days. Someday maybe being recent will be 180 days ? If so the guy that ran 179 days ago will have an advantage on the guy that hasn't raced for 374 days. Horses that have raced more recently in comparison to the opposition still have a big advantage over the others.Same as they always did. Recency measured in days may not be the same as 60 years ago, but it still matters. The cheaper the horses the more it matters. They didn't offer any numbers to buttress their point. I haven't ran a study on it lately,but I would be surprised if 20% of all races are won by horses that have not started in 30 days. It would also be surprising if most of the successes were not in Stakes or $ allowances.
Virgin Queen More than 1 year ago
" sorry for the beat, Annie. tough having the 20-1 shot beat you to the wire on that p5...only way to hit those is to hit the ALL button, and that can be excessive." " hey, what the heck, tonight's as good as any to join the Redboarding Club." Oh No, Say It Ain't So Joe VQ
Annie More than 1 year ago
Virgin Queen, Just to be clear. P Ensign was referring to himself doing the Redboarding, not me. I posted my ticket for all to see. :) Annie
Steve T More than 1 year ago
I have updated the Pick-5 workbook with all of the pays and averages from Santa Anita, Fairplex, Del Mar and Hollywood. The average pay so far at Santa Anita is $7,295.88. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Al3a-2Lsqg-udHJ1V25BSGR5bWlvZEhtNms5WkVGVGc&hl=en_US#gid=4
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Annie I too am sorry for the beat in the final leg yesterday. You invested a lot ( to me, at least), and deserved better than a bagel. I've watched the replay a couple of times: it seems pretty clear that the 4 horse (Dave's Revenge) lost a length or so on the turn for home, and that was enough to seal the deal. A tough one to get over for sure. p ensign Terrific handicapping and an even better write up. After the takeout, a zero sum game, right? Someone loses, in this case Annie, but someone else wins. I'm glad it was a FormBlogger, in this case, you. At GGF, as I'm certain you know, the odds swing wildly once the gates open. Here, though, it is all the simulcast money being posted-it dwarfs the on track handle. And I certainly agree about the jockeys and the major role they play-they are always a central part of why I select a particular horse. One question for you, though, if you care to share. You picked five races at four different tracks. What criteria did you use to select those particular races? Did you look at all the PP's for every race at all four tracks, and then settle on those races? No biggie, but just curious.
Annie More than 1 year ago
P Ensign, So you have to make me revisit this, huh? No, THREE FOR MARINO was a D horse, just like MISS ADDY KISS and INDIARA, two horses I did have on my ticket. I had two ways to play the ticket. Three for Marino was on one of them and she was not on the other. I chose the wrong way to go. My mistake. But, it was not because I wasn't aware that the race was lacking in speed and that she could be the one that would go. If I hadn't been such a chicken, I would have singled SECRET CIRCLE and that ticket did include Miss Marino. As I said, I was worried about SWEET SWAP and didn't like that SC had almost a month between works from Aug. 28th to Sept. 20th. It looked to me like SS might be a bit fitter. Since I decided to go with the 2nd ticket, I had to eliminate a few horses to keep the cost somewhat reasonable. In that last race, both As and all three Bs looked capable of winning. I didn't like the two Cs at all. The three D horses I was looking at, MISS ADDY KISS, INDIARA and THREE FOR MARINO. One of them had to go. Indiara had just been claimed for 16K by Jeff Bonde (33% first off claim), was running in this 12.5K, working dynamite since the claim including a last work of 35.2 which often signals, "I'm going for the lead." Has the rail and a 7 lb. weight break. Had been competitive at 20K in recent past. Miss Addy Kiss had shown some speed in the past and jockey, Bisono, had won twice on her and he rides better for that trainer than he does overall. Also had been competitive in the past with LUTESS, one of the B horses that I liked in the race. In her last race, she beat a horse (Warrens Swampfox) that Three for Marino could not beat in her last race. Three for Marino had speed, but looked like a horse that definitely has physical problems. Off for 22 months between June, 2009 and April, 2011. Pulled up and vanned off in a race in Aug. Could only run 3rd against 8K claimers at Fairplex in last race, earning a 58 Beyer. How much can you trust a horse like that? They can go bad at any time. In the past, M Garcia may have seemed liked a major upgrade, but his 8% he's riding now does not impress me. And, of course, there were even better riders in the race. I chose to drop Miss Marino. I was wrong. So sue me. :) Annie I chose to drop Miss Marino. I was wrong. So, sue me. :)
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Dirt Sprint Fractions – Santa Anita Fall 2011 First Quarter 5.5F (21.76 Avg) – 21.45, 21.62, 21.83, 21.91, 22.00 6.0F (21.74 Avg) – 21.27, 21.31, 21.50, 21.59, 21.61, 21.70, 21.72, 21.78, 21.80, 21.83, 21.84, 21.97, 22.00, 22.53 6.5F (21.94 Avg) – 21.52, 21.64, 21.67, 21.70, 21.83, 21.92, 21.94, 21.95, 22.36, 22.42, 22.44 7.0F (22.74 Avg) – 22.47, 23.00 Second Quarter 5.5F (45.16 Avg) – 44.38, 44.48, 44.78, 45.89, 46.25 6.0F (44.88 Avg) – 43.80, 44.20, 44.56, 44.72, 44.75, 44.80, 44.80, 44.81, 44.88, 44.95, 45.03, 45.03, 45.20, 45.56, 46.06 6.5F (44.82 Avg) – 44.27, 44.28, 44.41, 44.47, 44.69, 44.69, 44.89, 44.91, 45.12, 45.45, 45.81 7.0F (45.37 Avg) – 45.25, 45.48 Finish 5.5F (1:03.96 Avg) – 1:03.12, 1:03.39, 1:04.09, 1:04.41, 1:04.81 6.0F (1:09.76 Avg) – 1:08.24, 1:08.27, 1:08.59, 1:08.95, 1:09.77, 1:09.77, 1:09.78, 1:09.84, 1:09.88, 1:10.11, 1:10.22, 1:10.28, 1:10.38, 1:11.12, 1:11.17 6.5F (1:15.91 Avg) – 1:15.00, 1:15.19, 1:15.30, 1:15.66, 1:15.76, 1:15.81, 1:15.88, 1:16.02, 1:16.41, 1:16.91, 1:17.00 7.0F (1:22.78 Avg) – 1:21.36, 1:24.20
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Here are some notes on jockeys and horses coming off the first week at Santa Anita: Mike Smith is off double secret probation, finally figuring out how to ride again. I hope he is planning on a nice Christmas present for John Shirreffs... Joe Talamo goes on double secret probation after starting 0/27 in dirt sprints and 0/6 in dirt routes. He is 1/4 on the hill and 1/17 in turf routes. I have no idea what is going on here. I anoint him as the second coming and he disappears... figures. Hector Berrios is doing his best to pop a huge one - yesterday in the 1st he did everything but get off and push to get Great Rising Star up at 12/1 but could not catch Tiz Gianni. In the 5th he got 19/1 Nothing to Fear up for 3rd, and then in the 9th got 46/1 Jack O Lyn to actually run and lost by a skinny nose to the even money favorite in the last. If you are looking for a bomber in your verticals, use him - nothing like a 46/1 shot to put some pink in your cheeks. Daniel Vergara had another winner; in the 2nd he booted home 7/1 Sixtysix Margaux to a nice closing win, keying a $12K super. No signs that he is moving his tack back to Turf Paradise; I guess when you have five winners in your first week... I really like this guy, he hustles his ass off (like Berrios). It is nice to throw in with a rider that would send his mother to North Korea to get a win. Joel Rosario is having the start of the meet issues with getting to the wire first in dirt sprints (2/26), same thing happened at Del Mar, but he does have 13 ITM finishes. He is absolutely off the charts in turf routes with 11 starts, 6 wins and ten ITM finishes (91%!!!!!). Not to mention hitting dirt routes at 40% with a 60% ITM. Alonso Quinonez is riding better; the guy is on a slow, steady progression, but he is still winless on turf (0/3 on the hill and 0/10 in turf routes). I will use him now in turf races but he still has some work to do on the timing of his runs on the lawn. Eswan Flores, the apprentice is 0/25 so far and although the kid gives it his all, just doesn't have the talent to ride this circuit long term. He still is carrying a 7 lbs bug after 165 races. Think he needs to go north to Golden Gate or out to Turf Paradise. Kayla Stra is becoming the Queen of $100 Payers - including El Adelantado ($118) this week, and Woodman's Lass ($111) the last week at Del Mar. The girl can ride turf, she always has and the quality of her mounts is starting to creep up from the dregs. She has 1300 starts in the U.S. and won over a million is purses in 2010. She also has over 500 wins in Australia. If the horse can run and she is aboard, worth a long look. Take a long look at these Flashy Bull two year olds - they aren't worth spit on synthetics, but boy can they run on dirt. Three winners in the first week - Enuff Bull, Blacky the Bull and Big Hand Al. Look for one that did nothing at Del Mar and is entered at Santa Anita. Two year old Secret Circle won yesterday in 1:08.27, which considering that Amazombie won the Grade 1 Ancient Title in 1:08.24, ain't too bad.