06/22/2016 6:00PM

Obviously aces Poker

*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. 
*It was nice to see OBVIOUSLY return to the winner's circle with a gate-to-wire effort in last Saturday's Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont. A stalwart turf miler in Southern California from 2012 to 2014 - he grabbed seven graded races during that time period including back-to-back editions of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile - Obviously had mostly suffered from inactivity following his fifth-place effort in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita. Prior to the Poker, he had only raced four times since that speedy Breeders' Cup try behind Karakontie and, while he ran well in most of those starts (his record in those races is 4-0-2-1), he seemed to lack the same combination of speed and stamina that served him well in his salad days. 
Some handicappers wondered if Father Time had caught up with the 8-year-old gelding, but Obviously put those critics in their place with his 107-Beyer victory. The win gives trainer Phil D'Amato a potent one-two combination in the division as D'Amato's MIDNIGHT STORM grabbed the Shoemaker Mile on June 4. 
While Obviously appears back on his best game, it must be mentioned that he achieved a rather easy lead in the Poker. There wasn't a ton of speed on paper to keep him busy, but you'll notice in the video below how KING KREESA, FORCE THE PASS and GRAND ARCH are reluctant to challenge Obviously in the opening furlong. That, essentially, handed the race to Obviously on a silver platter. Give a good horse like Obviously an inch and he'll take a mile, in this case in 1:31.65. 
I want Force the Pass moving forward. Although he wasn't making up an inch of ground on Obviously in the stretch, he seemed to be pace-compromised and was one of the only horses making any kind of a bid from the back of the pack. 
Force the Pass showed off his ability as a 3-year-old last year as he completed the Penn Mile (8 furlongs) - Belmont Derby (10 furlongs) double over the spring and summer. He seemed to go off form later in the year and his trainer, Alan Goldberg, gave him plenty of time to prepare for a 2016 campaign. 
Force the Pass made his seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes and he ran very well in his first start against older horses and initial try over "off" turf. He was eager in the early stages of the Appleton and ran hard every step of the way only to finish a half-length behind REPORTING STAR and DIVISIDERO. It was a promising try for the first race back and Goldberg had several dates penciled in for May and June. Unfortunately, the best laid plans didn't come to fruition as a scheduled run in the Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont on May 7 was scrapped due to weather concerns. Then, Goldberg was forced to miss the Dixie at Pimlico and the Red Bank at Monmouth due to illness. 
Becasue of those setbacks, Force the Pass was making his first start in 77 days while conceding 8 pounds and an easy lead to Obviously, He ran really well in the Poker. Given Force the Pass' versatility, Goldberg has plenty of options regarding his colt's next appearance. He should be followed for the remainder of the summer. 
*I'll be back in two weeks with the next blog as I have other duties to attend to at DRF next week. 
*Video stakes previews for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos
*Lonnie Goldfeder and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 4:00 ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com.
*You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 6/14/16 - 6/21/16
1. OBVIOUSLY (IRE) - 107 - Poker Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 18Jun16-4BEL
2. BRADESTER - 101 - Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 18Jun16-8CD 
2. MYLUTE - 101 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 17Jun16-8BEL
2. PLEUVEN (FR) - 101 - Wise Dan Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 18Jun16-7CD 
5. CHIEF LION - 100 - OC 80k/C -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 15Jun16-8BEL
6. A. P. INDIAN - 99 - Donald LeVine Memorial Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 18Jun16-6PRX
6. GUN RUNNER - 99 - Matt Winn Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 18Jun16-5CD 
8. SONGBIRD - 97 - Summertime Oaks (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 18Jun16-8SA
9. CELEBRATED TALENT - 96 - Clm c-50000 - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 19Jun16-3BEL 
9. FLASHLIGHT (IRE) - 96 - Clm c-50000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Clm c-50000
9. HEIR OF STORM - 96 - Clm 50000(50-45) - 7 Furlongs - 18Jun16-4SA 
12. CALGARY CAT - 95 - Achievement Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 18Jun16-8WO 
12. O B HARBOR - 95 - Budweiser Stakes - 1 Mile - 19Jun16-8EMD
14. BODHISATTVA - 94 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 19Jun16-7PIM
15. AZTEC BRAVE (FR) - 93 - Mystic Lake Mike Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 19Jun16-8CBY
15. DONEGAL MOON - 93 - Pegasus Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 19Jun16-10MTH
15. FINNEGANS WAKE - 93 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 16Jun16-2SA 
18. FREITAG - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 19Jun16-7WO 
18. PAID UP SUBSCRIBER - 92 - Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 18Jun16-6CD 
20. CHEEKABOO - 91 - Honeymoon Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 19Jun16-8SA 
20. TED W - 91 - Clm 30000(32-30) - 7 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 19Jun16-1WO
22. BRIAR'S GOLD - 90 - Alw 33000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 19Jun16-2AP 
22. DISCO BARBIE - 90 - Satin N Lace Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 19Jun16-7PID 
22. FOURSTAR CROOK - 90 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 15Jun16-6BEL
22. MAJESTIC HEAT - 90 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 17Jun16-3SA 
22. UNBRIDLED CRITIC - 90 - Clm 5000B - 4 1/2 Furlongs - 20Jun16-4SRP
22. WINTER GAMES - 90 - Clm c-32000 - 1 1/16 Miles - 19Jun16-1BEL
*Obviously's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
*Flashlight was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Tim Glyshaw from Michael Maker.
*Celebrated Talent was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Gary Contessa from Linda Rice.
*Winter Games was claimed for $32,000 by trainer David Jacobson from John Toscano Jr.
*Congrats to Alan for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Let's go with The Gold Cup from Santa Anita 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!


OBVIOUSLY.pdf840.97 KB
Copy of HG 6 18 16 CD MSW.xls55 KB
HGGOLDCUP.pdf182.52 KB