06/22/2016 7:00PM

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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I am afraid that my laptop has developed a few problems today and I have not been able to fully access the Racing Post website,  Accordingly, I can only offer you some abbreviated thoughts on those 2 Belmont turf faces, the Belmont Derby and the Oaks.

Aidan O'Brien's two in the Derby are good solid horses.  DEAUVILLE has a best Racing Post Rating of 114, with 2 wins and 2 seconds from 6 races.  Ran a very promising 2nd in one of the best trials for the Epsom Derby, but on the big day itself, he could only manage a never threatening 11th of 16.  Currently the 9/4 favourite over here for the Belmont race.  As I said, a good horse, but definitely NOT a 9/4 chance.  LONG ISLAND SOUND is more difficult to categorize.  3 wins from 4 races and a Racing Post Rating of 104, but those wins were in modest races.  In his last race, upped in quality to a Royal Ascot Group 3, he finished 3rd of 9, beaten a total of 4 lengths.  The winner is very progressive.  Currently a 5/1 chance - again I would want better odds.

What about AIROFORCE's chances?

In the Oaks, O'Brien has BALLYDOYLE and COOLMORE.  In my opinion the former has a real chance; the latter very little.

BALLYDOYLE made a slow start to her career, but is now 3 wins from 8 races, with a best Racing Post Rating of 115, and is a top class filly.  She ran 2nd to her stablemate MINDING in the 1000 Gns, and may have finished much closer with a clearer passage during the race.  Therefore, her last race in the French version of the 1000 Gns was a major disappointment, finishing a well beaten 6th, with no obvious excuses.  Its just possible the ground was too soft for her that day, but in any case, I am always prepared to forgive any horse one bad run.  A worthy challenger to CATCH A GLIMPSE in my opinion.

COOLMORE with just 1 win from 7 races, actually finished just in front of BALLDOYLE in that French race, but I would VERY surprised if she were to repeat that performance at Belmont.  A 20/1 chance over here, seems about right to me.

Best Regards - Bernard Downes

DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago

Movie production that would interest adults my age has beenin a slump this year. I saw Cloverfield Lane earlier but it was a dead end. I saw Money recently but it was totally counterfeit. I attended Central Intelligence over the weekend since three days of rain hampered my outdoor plans. I don’t want to give away much so let’s say it is classified but it was a fun couple hours relative to other options. I have lowered my bar generally on movie expectations. Godzilla & Tarzan versus Captain America and Batman sounds like a tag team WWA wrestling match not a movie script but folks love that stuff. Apparently I spent too much time as a kid reading the racing form and not enough with Marvel comic books.

Songbird is migrating east! I like that idea since she missed Louisville in May. What I do not like is racing venues inflating established purses to lure stars. The purse is going up $200,000 to make sure Rick Porter brings her to NY. I suspect Porter was coming this way anyway. The Delaware Handicap ploy was a bluff in my mind so the NYRA should not blink. The purse is healthy as is at $300k. The prestige of Saratoga and a graded stakes is substantial plus the trip over the Saratoga surface will prep her well for TheAlabama. Does Porter really want to take on older this early even with an apparent filly of immense talent? Likely not so I would just call the bluff then live with any chance of a negative reaction. Porter generally errs on the side of caution after death of Eight Belles.


What are your opinions on the European entrants that are in the two big turf races at Belmont this weekend. I have not seen the pp’s recently on these animals as they won’t be available on my plan until 6 pm tonight.Apparently I have underrated Catch a Glimpse. She just wins.  I tried to beat her a few times but finally backed off in the Penn Mile. I have a head of titanium so likely will try to beat her again if she is low  odds. I have been impressed with Time and Motion but need to do some work on the race. 


I have bet Green Mask on/off. When I do he loses. When I don’t he wins.  I think he is a good race horse but is now 0-9 last two years in a variety of races and distances from 5F to 8F and listed stakes to grade ones. As you know I went three deep in that Highlander and he was not one of them at 4-1. I used 1-2-3 thinking Shipman might be tad vulnerable. No particular reason other than I like the locals at WO on these days and was fortunate with Passion for Action. An interesting side note on Green Mask. He missed by 3/4L in our BC Turf Sprint then ships to Sha Tin. They dismiss him at 98-1. Grass sprinters at Sha Tin are very very good did I say VERY but 98-1? He ran 8th. In/out calls on Green Mask for me will be decided by who he lines up against relative to price. He likely wins a race this year at a number.I likely won’t have it.  I hope you continue your excellent handicapping and figure out when the time is right.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Another great post.  You have a real way with words.  Keep them coming.

Ned Daly,

Re your post about that Suffolk Downs Hurdle race, did you single me out because of my familiarity with Jumps racing, or have you seen a secret picture of me revealing a personal weight well in excess of 154 lbs?

I was amused by the idea of the local jockey colony watching jealously as their well fed Jumps colleagues went about their business.

I did a quick check in the Racing Post's results archive and found that in the 4 championship races at the Cheltenham Jumps Festival in March, the horses carried 164 lbs (Mares 7 lbs less).  It may sound horrendous (and I believe it may have been 168 lbs not so many years ago), but don't forget that most Jumps horses are bigger and stronger than their flat counterparts.

As for those 3 meals a day, I also checked on Champion Jockey Richard Johnson's riding weight.  According to the Racing Post his lowest riding weight in the last 12 months was 140 lbs, so he needs to carry a good few lead weights in those championship races.

That is it for now.  I am off a full English fried breakfast - lots of lovely calories.

Best Regards - Bernard Downes

P.S.   Having extolled the virtues of the recent Royal Ascot meeting, can I do the same for the 3 day Newmarket July festival which starts tomorrow (around 2.00 pm London time).  Generally speaking not quite the same quality, but good competitive racing nevertheless.  And wonder of wonders, it may have finally stopped raining in North West Europe, so good ground for the horses.  

SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Ned Daly 

158 lbs ?  ..I could be one of those  jockeys ...lol  !
I'll definitely be watching that race on Saturday. Thanks for the heads up.  I do enjoy the UK style races that we have here. I also remember your comments and highlights from last year regarding the 'jumps' races.. Cherry-ho !

I'm also looking forward to your Queens Plate recap... B+ and all the details  :)

SR Vegas
VanSavant More than 1 year ago

That is either a really talented horse, or a chubby jockey...lol...

Perhaps the rider has been treating himself to dinner at Chez Van Bastado's... lol...

Later gator
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Professor Molesap
LOL! That's a good one...I hadn't thought of it that way. I am leaning towards The Dwyer , with (19) nominations will hope for a large field. Besides, who wouldn't want to root on their current MKB?

After your post, I looked, potentially  (2) Uncle Mo's (2) Trappe Shots, add in a Curlin, Twirling Candy, Birdstone, Unbridled's Song, Flatter, Tiznow, Tale of Ekati  to name a few.  We shall see....and with any luck my MKB GIFT BOX will be part of the entries  :)

SR Vegas
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Well, the entries are out for this weekend's fixtures at Suffolk Downs. Race 2 on Saturday is a handicap. The high weight will carry........

Wait for it...........

158 lbs.

No typo. A 2 1/16 mile hurdle race. When they ran the jumps here last year the entire local jockey colony came out to line the rail. Were they looking for riding tips, or jealous of jocks who could

eat three meals a day?

Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas
Am I reading to much into your "Mo" pick by thinking it has to be a 3YO race because someone sired by Uncle Mo is running? Plus, I hate suspense - tell us too. :)

Sorry about the P6. Rainbows are cool, but do I look too hardened when I say a 1/3 share of $35K or so is just a tad cooler. Great story though.

Dan (brutus)
I thought the same thing about Green Mask, but made sure to play it to place and show as well (and to be honest, that was one of the HIGHLIGHTS of my weekend). Hard knocking horse, could maybe stand a little class relief, but those turf sprinters all seem to show up in the same races. 

Great job on the contest front this weekend - keep it going!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago

You said it....Green Mask rarely throws a clunker....but he just doesn't win. GM's BC race was a perfect example.  He almost gets there, but just misses.  He would be a great horse to own, because he is always around the $

 I don't make many p/s bets as more of win/ex multi race player...so unless the odds are long,...I wouldn't have caught him p/show...I just wonder if there reaches a point where you say..."this horse is great...he just doesn't win?"  I hope it doesn't seem that I am knocking the horse.  

Dan (brutus)
. Anderson More than 1 year ago
Dan (brutus)
Green Mask paid $4.80 and $7.70 to place and show when Lady Shipman threw in the towel.
GM did get third in the October BC Turf Sprint on soft ground and is about 75% in the money even with only a few wins.