05/19/2016 1:01PM

A peek at the Preakness

Let's take a horse-by-horse look at this year's Preakness Stakes.
After two impressive wins, Dale Romans lost time with Cherry Wine. He held him out of the Holy Bull, missed the Fountain of Youth with a temperature and subsequently failed to earn enough qualifying points two make the Derby field.
The late-running colt took advantage of a strong closing flow to finish third in the Blue Grass, has virtually no early speed and will probably be lagging far, far behind on the backstretch.
He has never taken a backward step on the Beyer Speed Figure scale and showed he handled wet going (a real possibility at Pimlico this year) with a sharp maiden win at Churchill Downs.
It appears he's rounding into form, but I think he's best played on the bottom of single-race exotics. 
Even if you're skeptical about the Uncle Mos going long (despite Nyquist's Kentucky Derby win, I still worry about their overall stamina), Uncle Lino has a ton of distance pedigree on the bottom of his family tree. The dam is a half-sister to Preakness winner Shackleford and is a full sibling to Alabama heroine Lady Joanne.
There are other horses with speed in this race, but Uncle Lino is the quality zip closest to the wood. Coming off a gate-to-wire score in the California Chrome Stakes three weeks ago, I think he'll make the pace under Fernando Perez.
He is an underrated, talented colt that can get a piece of this if allowed to set or press comfortable fractions.
Undefeated champion is the deserved "big dog" in the Preakness after his Derby score. He ran every hard every step of the way at Churchill, chasing fast fractions and staying on gamely to the end. He is way the horse to beat and certainly the most likely winner at a short price.
Expect Mario Gutierrez to break, get to the outside, and play off of horses like Uncle Lino and Abiding Star. Nyquist, like California Chrome and American Pharoah before him, is a Kentucky Derby winner with excellent tactical speed that can make his own trip. He should be right in the thick of things once again when the field turns for home.
The only concern, and it's slight, is that the hard race in the Derby took some starch out of him.
A must-use in any exotic wager. 
Versatile colt owns wins at six furlongs and 1 1/8 miles, the latter when aided by the stewards in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel.
He was flattered when Governor Malibu returned to run second last week in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont.
He likes to be forwardly-placed in his races, but it's unlikely he has the gas to outfoot Uncle Lino, Nyquist and Abiding Star early.
His Beyer Speed Figures pale in comparison to those of the truly top contenders.
Others entice more to win.
I picked him in the Derby and have no complaints with his performance. He was bottled up for just a hair while inside on the turn, but don't think it cost him the win.
It appears the once-versatile colt has been transformed into a one-run closer by trainer Keith Desormeaux. As is the case with such horses, he is always at the mercy of race and pace luck. He should get an honest pace to attack on Saturday and the prospect of a wet track enhances his chances.
He's simply a rock-solid horse that always fires his best shot. A logical contender.
6 - LANI
Didn't have the easiest trip in the Derby, but I don't think he was even getting a minor award with a clean run.
There is some talent and pedigree here, but he just doesn't have any early foot and there are horses in this race with similar running styles - Exaggerator comes to mind immediately - that have stronger immediate acceleration.
Grinder runs late, perhaps for a piece.
This is a really nice colt with excellent tactical speed, but he's had candy trips against suspect competition in his last two races. It's nice to see him enter this race after pairing up Beyer tops (often portends a forward move) and is certainly in the right hands with Bob Baffert steering the ship.
The reports are that he's working very well, but I think he's just a notch below the better 3-year-olds and he might want a slightly-shorter distance.
Questionable over a wet track, he's a horse that I can play in trifectas and supers.
Maiden removes blinkers for this and one wonders if that's a sign that the speedy maiden will be rated slightly off of the pace.
Thought he ran well in the Blue Grass after setting blistering fractions, but his best race to date, his golden rail-aided second in the Gotham, hasn't been flattered.
Suspect at the distance, but has the pedigree to appreciate a wet track.
Others seem more likely.
Enters the Preakness off five consecutive wins, two over wet tracks. He's the second-most prolific winner (5) in the field behind Nyquist and his recent Beyer Speed Figure (91 in the Parx Derby) is better than any number earned by Cherry Wine, Awesome Speed, Lani, Collected, Laoban and Fellowship.
He likes to hear his feet rattle and should be first or second when the field flashes past the stands the first time. Whether he can sustain that pace while being pressured by Uncle Lino and Nyquist is another story entirely.
Deserves a shot in the race, but don't think he'll last the distance.
Gritty colt lacked the points to get into the Derby so new trainer Mark Casse opted to prep him in the Pat Day Mile instead. Don't think a one-turn route is his game and the Pat Day winner freaked out as well.
Fellowship will make his usual run, but I wonder if he's exposed after 12 starts.
He'll need to improve to win this.
I picked him in the paper (not because he was my original MKB :)), but concede that he's in very, very steep.
Dominated two fields once stretched out around two turns, but they're still doing DNA tests to see if the vanquished from those races are truly of the thoroughbred breed. This is a major class test and he'll probably face a stronger pace than he's ever seen. That means he won't end up in the catbird trip that he received in his two blow-out wins.
After watching his races, however, you feel that there is great talent here and, with only three lifetime starts to his name, has potential for further improvement.
It's a tall ask to be sure, but I'm very curious as to whether he's Bernardini or Social Inclusion. I won't pay to find out at anything less than 12 to 1 on the tote.
My paper picks are Stradivari, Nyquist, Exaggerator and Uncle Lino. In Pick 4's, I use Nyquist and Exaggerator as A's and Stradivari as a 'B,' but I won't have too much money in against Nyquist. 
Best of luck!
I'm swamped this week as we prepare for our two-day DRF Live coverage. Top 25 Beyers will return next week and we'll catch up then. 
Hi Dan,
In the weekend Kentucky Derby wrap video.  Matt mentioned that Mike summarized after Nyquist's Kentucky Derby win that he is more accomplished than American Pharoah at this stage in the game.  Although Nyquist was a deserving winner of the Derby and 8 for 8;  American Pharoah did have a foot injury that prevented him from racing in the BC Juv.  Also, AP got 101 Beyer speed figures as a 2 YO  in the Del Mar Futurity and Frontrunner, while Nyquist Beyers for those same races were in the 80's. Nyquist Beyer in Florida D-94. AP in Arkansas D 105. AP had tougher competition in KD with Firing Line and Dortmond.  AP raced six times and Nyquist eight times.  And so AP lost his first race after disliking the blinker hood and being rattled with the noise in the paddock.  Blinkers off and cotton in ears-win streak. 
Thanks for watching the videos and many thanks for the note. I won't argue with Mike's claim that Nyquist is more accomplished at this point of his 3-year-old season than American Pharoah was heading into last year's Preakness. If you merely look at the record, you get this:
8 starts, 8 wins 
2-year-old champion
Kentucky Derby winner
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner
5-time Grade 1 winner
American Pharoah:
6 starts, 5 wins
2-year-old champion
Kentucky Derby winner
4-time Grade 1 winner
I'd agree that Nyquist has accomplished slightly more than American Pharoah. That doesn't mean that Nyquist is a better horse and I don't know anyone that is saying that's the case. Far from it. You mentioned the various issues that American Pharoah had during his 2-year-old campaign and his gaudy Beyer Speed Figures. Nyquist, even with all of his impressive feats, still has a ways to go before being compared with American Pharoah. 
I have really enjoyed the DRF Live presentation. You, Mike Beer and Formblogging alum Matt Bernier have thrown out you sort of useful nuggets since the show's inception. 
You are welcome to use this as a question during your Preakness telecast....
This year's Derby finish was very unusual. The first four betting choices finished exactly in the order the public had predicted according to the odds. That might have happened before but not to my knowledge.
Anybody know with certainty if this has happened before in the long history of the Kentucky Derby?
~ Alfredo
I had to go back to Count Fleet's Kentucky Derby in 1943 to even find a field in which the top three betting choices ran 1-2-3. That year, Count Fleet was 2 to 5, runner-up Blue Swords was 9 to 1 and third-finisher Slide Rule was 10 to 1. Ten were entered.
I thought I recognized Anchor Down as a horse I should remember....well, indeed, he was the horse who beat Myositis Dan at the 2014 Formblog convention.  Did you remember?
I do remember because I bet Myositis Dan. Anchor Down was super-impressive that day (I believe Pletcher also had next-out Arkansas Derby winner Danza in that Gulfstream allowance race), but he came down with a serious injury that knocked him out of action for a long time. It was good to see him back in his best form, although one must wonder if he moved way up over the wet track. 
Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos
You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
Matt Bernier, Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 2:30pm ET on Friday and 12:30pm ET on Saturday for Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness coverage. Please join us at live.drf.com.
Congrats to Gerry V for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
The Preakness from Pimlico for this week's exercise. 
Please note that we will accept BLACK-EYED SUSAN/PREAKNESS DOUBLE WAGERS
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!
He had clear running room the entire one-quarter mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training.   
Copy of HG 5 14 16 Man Of War.xls53.5 KB
Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
Preakness Day Inside Turf Runners
Here is a list of horses that spent a significant amount of time on or near the rail while running on the turf on Preakness Saturday. This was not the place to be that day, so take a closer look at these when they run back. I watched each turf race a couple of times noting if they spent a considerable amount of time on the rail during their event. The "worst of it" designation indicates the horse from each race that spent the most time on the rail.

Pim 2
Cherub (worst of it)
Private Client
Lady Arielle’s Key

Pim 4
Vicky Ticky Tavie (worst of it)
Rachel Wall

Pim 6
Copingaway (worst of it)
He’ll Pay

Pim 8
Hope Cross (worst of it)
Seeking Paradise
Everything Lovely
My Celeste

Pim 10
Monster Sleeping (worst of it)
Ol’ Fashion Girl
Tiger Ride

Pim 12
Captain Dixie (worst of it)
Conquest Typhoon
Za Approval
Rodney . More than 1 year ago
Ron z,
       I think GBL was meaning that was no champion performance.
American Pharoah won like a champ in the slop last year, there's the difference.
            We'll never know, but I personally thought the mile and a half at Belmont would have found him struggling also...
                                 Let me put it this way, between AP & Nyquist, I'll let you have first choice, then tell you if I want to bet against you or not....
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
NancyB, wow. wow. wow. Thanks for the link. I was ready to see Beholder against the boys last year, and she doesn't look like she has lost anything, which is remarkable in itself given the bar she set already. I hope she stays happy and healthy. 
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
So after watching the D-Q race again, I still feel it's a terrible decision - the rider of the rail horse (#2) tried squeezing into an area along the rail where he had NO BUSINESS trying to squeeze into, especially with FTS 2yos! The #3 was already coming over. It's true that the #4 (winner) brushed the #3, but that was incidental, the whole problem with the #2 occurred because the #3 after getting slightly brushed comes over a slight amount - again nothing big - but enough to close the tight window that the #2 was ill-advisedly trying to squeeze into. What happened to the #2 was the #2's fault. It's outrageous that the winner has to pay the price for a really poor decision by the #2. #2's rider was Eddie castro, no less. It's incredible. He should definitely know better. The winner did not deserve to come down here because of his incompetence. 

I don't usually get caught up in touting 2yos who win at 4 and 1/2 furlongs, because the distance is just too short to make any real determinations about what happens when they are asked to go 5 1/2-6Fs against other 2yo winners. The dynamics of a stakes race at 5 and 1/2 F are wholly different from a MSW at 4 and 1/2. I prefer to wiat for the 5 and 1/2 and longer races before making any pre-determinations, but THAT SAID, the D-Q'd winner, Amapola, a 2yo filly, really caught the eye in this race, the way she finished was dazzling. The trainer is Antonio Sano. 
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Just an outrageous d-q from GP, today. It was the 3rd race, i think, but for 2yos MSW, the winner (#4) won by about 9 lengths, set a NTR (for 4 and 1/2), and gets D-Q'd on an absolute garbage decision. Watch the race for yourselves, check the head-on, if available, and I'd love to hear opinions on this, including those in-support of the stewards decision. Maybe I'm wrong. But I am still in total disbelief. The winner was 8-1. He got placed 4th or 5th. The horse interfered with was the #2. I feel so bad for the connects. I could see fining the jockey later if that's how you want to go, but you don't take down a 9 length record-setting winner for incidental contact down the backstretch.
Nancy Beningo More than 1 year ago
     I know we're supposed to be all about the 3 year old boys this time of the year, but I just have to call your attention to the most spectacular equine athlete on the planet right now -- behold her
Note the rider's feet on the dashboard to start, and the final time. And the super-rare B designation.
    In regards to other current threads-
     David multi-9s yes to an organized boycott if it could be aimed at the jurisdictions that continue to enable the blatant cheaters --we patrons(horseplayers) are being ripped off by these guys and not just the more ethical or timid trainers they race against for purse money.
    I concur with Cathy's view of Mario letting Nyquist run on his own courage for the closing yards of the Preakness. Nyquist simply was out of gas and since he had never needed to be whipped to give his best effort before, it was unlikely to be effective now. Tha't's the definition of a genuine racehorse. There are good racehorses who are perfectly willing to run along and wait for cues from their rider, but Nyquist is not such a horse. And  whipping and driving did run the risk of duplicating the unfortunate spectacle of Rachel Alexandra being gutted -- it still makes me cringe that she was treated that way after being so generous running on her own. I do think that Nyquist might have been mentally disrupted by not being able to dominate Uncle Lino -- and so not willing to relax through the second half mile, which would have saved him a little energy for the stretch. I don't think he ever gave up and it appears Mario was getting all the run he could. It didn't look like he steered him to an outer path as much as he let Nyquist try to find more secure footing on his own.
     TurfRuler -- thank you for explaining your contest play. Here is how I understand what you said -- 1. Your picks are your final choices between your 'handicapping system' and  occasionally other factors or intuitions.
2. Your comments are the results of your 'system, so that is why they don't always include your picks.
3. I think that I am probably more interested in the intangibles or random factors that go into making a horse a pick for the contest and I would like to see those reasons in the comments.
 Generally I am making my PH picks to be the horse I would play if I were betting so I often let intuitive factors play a part as well as perceptions about jockeys, trainers and even some owners.
  I will have to go back to read  Whacky's original question...
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Some down time before the Belmont Stakes, here are a few I saw entered this week :

Belmont race #8   80K  AOC  1  1/16M
GIFT BOX  - SR Vegas  ML 7-5

So glad to see my Gift Box..he has had plenty of workouts in place for his return to the races. I've been waiting his whole MKB career to see him run :)

Arlington  race #7  100K  Arlington Classic   1 1/16M turf
COCKED AND LOADED - Michel De Botton

Santa Anita race #5 200K Snow Chief  1 1/8M turf
RALIS - Jay VanHorn 

Good luck everyone !
SR vegas
Dick Wright More than 1 year ago
Dick W's History of Handicapping / Wagering

Whacky and all

Age: I am afraid I will skew the age pool toward the Ancient end of the scale :-)

Years handicapping / wagering:  4 1/2 decades

Sex: I can't remember the last time :-)

Gender: Blue Boxer

Frequency of visits to blog: Probably 2 or 3 times a day.  I try to read every post by every poster. The exception would be if I am out of town or in the wilderness (which I have mentioned is where I prefer to be).

Frequency of posting to blog:  Well these days it is about 3 times per week. Once for the Form Blog PH Contest Recap, once for my HG wager and once or twice to congratulate those who have done well in either the contests or with real wagers.

First time attending live racing: 6 years old - Golden Gate Park.  A family outing while visiting relatives in San Francisco on vacation.  My family was NOT into horse racing, although my mother had some interest. It was many years until my second visit which was with my mother at the Oregon State Fair.  I began attending on a semi regular basis around 1970 when I moved to Seattle.

Tracks visited: Longacres (the wonderful old Seattle Track), Emerald Downs, Portland Meadows, Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Los Alamitos, Golden Gate, and of course my favorite,  Keeneland, which is the last track I have been to.  That was in 2013 and 2014.  Longacres and Emerald Downs are the only tracks I attended on a regular basis during the 30 years I lived in the Seattle area.

Method of wagering: I make all of my wagers online thru DRF Bets

Amount wagered per year: I am a very small time bettor.   I have pretty much come full circle in that regard as I started small and gradually increased my wagers from $2 and $5 to $10 and $20 to $50 and $100. I also went thru a period when I made a lot of $200 show bets.  Now I am making mostly $1 and $2 bets - win/place, exacta and trifectas.  Most of my bets mirror my PH and HG picks.  Although against my better judgement, I will post my exact amounts wagered (and lost) each year from 2011.  I am a terrible record keeper and have NO records from previous years.  I only have these because DRF Bets keeps track for me.

Year  Wagered Winnings Profit/(Loss)
-----   ---------     --------       --------------
2011   4,200     3,400    (800)
2012   3,800     3,400    (400)
2013      500        325    ( 175)
2014      850        630    (220)
2015      260        235    (25)
2016      280        320    40

I am sure that I have lost much more than these amounts in some of those earlier years, particularly in the 70s and 80s when I was also consuming vast quantities of alcohol and other recreational drugs.  When i got sober in 1990 nearly all aspects of my life changed in a positive way, including my wagering bottom line. The truth is I don't have a clue how much I have lost over the 4 1/2 decades I have been doing this.  I do know with certainty that I have NEVER won $$$ over a long period of time.  I consider a long period of time to be around a year.  I have had many good days, weeks and months, but rarely (if ever) have had a good year. I hope to expand on this in a future post, but the bottom line for me is that I have NEVER been willing to spend the time and energy that is required to win $$$ on a regular basis.  I have always been involved in other activities such as racing sail boats and climbing mountains that required most of my time and energy and took up most of my weekends. I don't doubt the folks who claim to make $$$, but I think most of us are not in the category.  It is a VERY tough game !

Contests:  I will just add that I LOVE playing the contests.  I only participate in the PH and the HG.  They cost me NOTHING but still give me the opportunity to attempt to solve the puzzle.  And that is the main attraction for me.  And I really enjoy seeing other people's picks and there reasoning for those picks.

Dick W

slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
SRVegas, the pleasure was all mine - you are a wonderul ambassador and Lauren Stich's reputation as a pedigree expert does not do justice to her all-around knowledge of the game. I couldn't have had a nicer time, thanks again. 
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
"everybody has varied opinions or excuses"
Please allow me to give mine.  
You also said that at no time did Nyquist look like a winner.  I think he looked like a winner at the end of the turn and even when Exaggerator first put a head in front, Nyquist responded for a few strides and then came up empty.

"Nonetheless, champions are supposed to show the heart of a champion under challenging and  unfavorable circumstances and prove their mettle.  Nyquist simply failed."

That is a pretty damning statement of Nyquist.  Nyquist proved his heart every step of the way and even more so the last eighth.  He neither quit nor stopped.  He hooked an improving speed horse (Uncle Lino) who loves the slop after being told to go for the lead.  He did get tired.  He may have been getting sick before the race.  Nyquist only failed in winning the race, not in proving his mettle or his heart. 

I would ask you to watch the stretch run a few more times and notice the different styles of the jockeys for the situation of their horse at the time.

Mario KNEW he didn't have horse, so there was no reason to be all over him.   Nyquist was giving what he had.  No amount of whipping would have changed that.  It might have made the horse quit as it would become a distraction.

Kent KNEW he had lots of horse and with the excitement of winning and having horse, he might have overworked Exaggerator a bit.  Exaggerator, by the way can run over any kind of surface.  Probably turf too.

Yutaka Take, Lani's jockey, KNEW his horse was giving him everything he had and just hit him only three times past the three sixteenth pole  and had the fastest finish of all. 

JR Velasquez on Stradivari, unfortunately, had to use this race as partly a training race and did so wisely.  He urged the horse from the gate, was promptly bumped, urged again, ducked in, straightened and was overeager until settling on the first turn.  From there, he took some slop, rated nicely, then ran four wide on a very deep tiring track, while running on gamely to the end, not appearing to tire much and definitely no quit.  JR kept his mind on business to the end.

To Slew
I believe you said Stradivari was flipping leads down the backstretch.  Lots of horses do that, especially young horses.  Jockeys many times give the horse their head for choice of lead until they run on the turns.  They do run on their left lead on the turns.

At this time, I would also like to address a Matt Bernier statement he made on DRF Live after the Preakness, something to the effect of "Anyone saying the wet track beat Nyquist is in denial." while in the next breath, he said "the wet track moved up Cherry Wine" (which I agree with).  
I guess I am in denial with the overall gist.   I think track condition had 60-70% effect on the outcome of the race and 30-40% the pace, both helping to move Cherry Wine up and both to contribute to Nyquist's defeat.

As youse guys at DRF like to say, the horses I am taking forward from this race (in order) will be Stradivari, Lani, Exaggerator and Nyquist.
To those who say this is a weak crop of three year olds, as is said every year until time proves them wrong, I say a pretty good year as they are game, competitive and sound. 
Best to all