09/22/2016 1:30PM

Pennsylvania Derby thoughts

In the September 1, edition of FormBlog, I wrote that "GUN RUNNER ran a solid third in the Travers after receiving a beautiful trip and ride under Florent Geroux. He probably doesn't want to go 10 furlongs, but looms an intriguing cut-back option against horses like NYQUIST and EXAGGERATOR in a race like the Pennsylvania Derby." 
Three weeks later, I'm sticking to my guns. 
While I'm not sure I'll get the 6 to 1 morning line quote on Gun Runner (#7), odds of 9 to 2 or 5 to 1 seem fair on the best-last Beyer performer as he turns back to a comfortable distance. 
Gun Runner's best attribute is his tactical speed, and I can envision him sitting in the second or third flight behind AWESOME SLEW (1) (went gate-to-wire in the local prep over a speed-favoring track), CUPID (5) (went gate-to-wire in the West Virginia Derby while staying on the outside, the best part of the Mountaineer track), HIT IT ONCE MORE (12) and Nyquist (9) before gearing up under Florent Geroux on the final turn. 
Although beaten 15 lengths in the Mid-Summer Derby, nobody was beating Arrogate the way that horse ran off the screen. Gun Runner sat a beautiful spot tracking outside before Geroux angled to the pocket position entering the final turn. At that point, Arrogate spurted away and Gun Runner got tired during that demanding final furlong. I did like that Gun Runner was more fluid with his lead changes. He switched over turning into the stretch and stayed there all the way to the wire. Contrast that to many of his previous efforts where he would often hop back to his left lead late. Perhaps Gun Runner is becoming more professional as he matures. 
Nyquist must be respected as he's never lost on dry footing and was cooked up in prolonged pace disputes in both the soggy Preakness and sloppy Haskell. It's tough to get an attractive win price on the Kentucky Derby winner, but he looms a must-use in multiple-race exotics.

The last four victories for EXAGGERATOR (2) have come on wet tracks and he was beaten a combined 47 lengths in both the Travers and Belmont on dry footing. He's a very capable, if not completely trustworthy, entrant.

SUMMER REVOLUTION (3) is being asked to do a great deal as he stretches out for the first time in his fourth start, but one gets the feeling that the natural ability is there for him to be a quality stakes performer. Some might view this as a case of too-much too-soon, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez is showing strong confidence as he bypasses the Gallant Bob, a graded stake for 3-year-olds, earlier on the Parx card. Summer Revolution might have been favored in the Gallant Bob, by the way. I don't mind taking lightly-raced horses at this time of year as they tackle 3-year-olds that have been through the grind, and am expecting Summer Revolution to give a good account.
SUNNY RIDGE (10) might be the surprise package for trainer Jason Servis. He got the right pace scenario when third in the Haskell over a wet track he likes, but that race was off a long layoff and he has licence to move forward with that effort under his belt as he switches to Joe Bravo. 
I'll play Gun Runner to Win at 9 to 2 odds or greater and will use Gun Runner, Summer Revolution and Nyquist in multiple-race wagers. 
*The sensational SONGBIRD (5) has done nothing wrong throughout her brilliant career, but I believe she'll have to be at her best in the Grade 1 Cotillion on the Pennsylvania Derby undercard. Not only does she battle CARINA MIA (1), the filly that tested Songbird in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on July 24, but she also must deny Kentucky Oaks heroine CATHRYN SOPHIA (2). 
Wisely freshened after a disappointing performance behind CARINA MIA in the Grade 1 Acorn, Cathryn Sophia returned with a vengeance at Parx on September 3. Facing five completely overmatched horses, Cathryn Sophia merely breezed around the track en route to an open-lengths victory with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. 
Cathryn Sophia can step and this is her home course. Perhaps she's worth a small play against the undefeated champion. 
*Matt Bernier, Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 3:00 ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com. This week, we'll cover Parx, Laurel, Belmont, Los Alamitos and more.
*Please take a look at our FREE handicapping videos for most of this weekend's major races. They should be available beginning late Thursday at http://video.drf.com/
*You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 9/14/16 - 9/20/16
1. TEPIN - 106 - Woodbine Mile (G1-C) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 17Sep16-12WO 
2. RAINHA DA BATERIA - 101 - Canadian Stakes (G2-C) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 17Sep16-8WO 
2. THE PIZZA MAN - 101 - Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1-C) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 17Sep16-10WO 
4. DIXIE RUNNER - 98 - Alw 52000N2L - 7 Furlongs - 18Sep16-5PRX
4. JOHN JONES - 98 - OC 32k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 16Sep16-7LRL
4. RISE UP - 98 - Wild and Wonderful Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 17Sep16-9CT 
4. WILBO - 98 - OC 100k/C -N - 5 Furlongs - 18Sep16-1CD 
8. AMIS GIZMO - 97 - Ontario Derby (G3-C) - 1 1/8 Miles (Tapeta) - 17Sep16-4WO 
9. JUSTALITTLESMOKE - 96 - Scarlet and Gray Handicap - 6 Furlongs - 17Sep16-7TDN
10. DELTA BLUESMAN - 95 - Hall of Fame Stakes - 5 Furlongs - 17Sep16-8PRX
11. GOOD SAMARITAN - 94 - Summer Stakes (G2-C) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 18Sep16-6WO 
11. GREEN MASK - 94 - OC 80k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 16Sep16-8BEL
11. LUBASH - 94 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 17Sep16-4BEL
11. ON LEAVE - 94 - Sands Point Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 17Sep16-9BEL
15. AL'S GAL - 93 - Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon - 1 5/16 Miles (Turf) - 15Sep16-9KD 
15. BUCCHERO - 93 - Brickyard Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 14Sep16-8IND
15. DONE DEAL - 93 - Alw 45586N1X - 6 Furlongs - 17Sep16-7CD 
15. VULCAN'S FORGE - 93 - Alw 75460N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 16Sep16-3BEL
19. ANYTHINGSCOOKIN - 92 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 18Sep16-7GG 
19. CEE 'N O - 92 - OC18k/SAL8k - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 15Sep16-1AP 
19. GO BRO - 92 - OC 62k/C -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 18Sep16-3WO 
19. QUIDURA (GB) - 92 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 18Sep16-8BEL
19. ROCA ROJO (IRE) - 92 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 15Sep16-3BEL
24. RIVERS RUN DEEP - 91 - OC 100k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - 18Sep16-9CD 
25. BILLY THE BULL - 90 - Alw 10000s - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 17Sep16-6PRX
25. TOASTING MASTER - 90 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - 16Sep16-8CD 
25. WE'RE ALL SET - 90 - OC 62k/C - 7 Furlongs - 15Sep16-6GP 
TEPIN's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
*Congrats to Mooch for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Mooch selected Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby from Parx 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!


TEPIN.pdf839.58 KB
Copy of HG 9 17 16 Woodbine Mile.xls53 KB
HGPADRBY.pdf192.27 KB
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


I like the math!


Thanks for the directions to the HK Club and BRIS. I have an Xpressbet account so maybe going there first is best. Also your thoughts on suspended trainers was a good read.   I think it is good to see Governor Malibu drop into state breds. He sure ran a couple of really good ones but I never cashed with some questionable piloting late in the stretch assisting. He may be a horse that can find trouble when none exists as Pat G. mentioned. I expect jocks to know that possibility exists from the pp’s steering well clear of anything including the rail, other horses and low flying geese. Beating up on NY breds then comeback as a stronger 4 YO makes sense. 

I Love Lucy was a classic comedy.Horse racing can often be a comedy in its own way. NY denied Preciado/Bradley’s Lucy N Ethel entry into this week’s Gallant Bloom Stakes. This seems logical as Chloe Bradley is training this horse as much as DAVIDM9999 is.  Maybe Ricky Ricardo and Fred Mertz should be listed as the owners of record also. Old NY Met's manager Bobby Valentine was once tossed from a MLB game. He put on a fake mustache and disguise coming back to the dugout to continue managing the Mets. Tip to Community – Once Preciado is formally suspended look for him on a backside near you in a Bobby Valentine disguise.

Interesting lineup of ML’s and contender list for the BC in the DRF tomorrow. Chrome is 2-1 with Arrogate 7-2.Frosted 6-1 then it falls off the cliff. It seems CC s/b  1-1, Arrogate 2-1 and the rest 50-1 at this point a month out. If CC loses Saturday then I was hacked and the NOTDAVIDM9999 typed this. 

Flintshire is 2-1 favorite for BC. I have to believe something of quality and form from Europe arrives to give him a stiff run. If he crushes the BC Turf then he should be in the discussion for AMERICAN HOY with Chrome and Songbird (assuming she wins out; no certainty).

Earlier this week I said Grand Tito would loaf around BEL in 53 seconds then get engulfed by Flintshire in a matter of strides. Tito is now out so a massive field of 4 will go. TMZ reported celebrity Betty White at age 94 has selflessly volunteered to set the early pace in here using a walker. My pace estimate is now revised to 55 seconds for a half. Pacer Wiggle Jiggle It will go several seconds faster to his half mile in a harness stakes Saturday night. Who you got the pacer, another thoroughbred or Betty?

Friday in race 7 at SA is a MSW for2 YO’s.  When is the last time you saw a Bob Baffert firster run a 38 BSF. 1989? The filly Czarina is 3-1 ML tomorrow in start two. The filly that beat her has BSF’s of 40/44/55 and is 7-2 ML. Race par is 74. Typically you would think this is a race to bet to take advantage of the questionable ML two favorites and bettors addiction to anything a certain white haired trainer enters. I will watch some replays plus see what the clockers' say on a few newbies. Some of the longer prices seem to have license to move up plus have pedigrees too.We all know BSF's can skyrocket in start two. I expect the Baffert $1.5M filly to move up some at underlaid odds but I cannot recall a slower run for a Baffert blue blood that was bet to 2-1 in the debut.

The second division of the Eddie D is interesting. Normally when I would see a horse like Ohio in this spot I would just close the Form and call the race official. Is it that easy?

Dick Wright More than 1 year ago
Van Savant

Congratulations on 23 years !!!  That is a terrific red board :-)
I think I also have about 23 years.  Hold on, let me do the math...
6 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 22 ...
No, I am mistaken, I only have 22.  And of course I am no longer adding to that accumulation, so there is no possibility of me ever catching you.  
May you have at least 23 more !!!

Dick W
Sinatra More than 1 year ago
Curt V

Congratulation on getting hot and winning the HG again.  Your selection and analysis looked so easy after I read your post.  And then playing Connect to win without regard to other players attempt to win the HG.

Turf Ruler
Nancy Beningo More than 1 year ago
Curtis W. Slewster - hats off, succinct and successful!

For all who are contemplating Santa Anita, please take into account that it has been (seasonably) hot with temps well into the 100’s in the San Gabriel Valley (oh if only it was as idyllic as C had painted it!) and so both the dirt and turf have been baking. Also some Santa Ana winds(off the desert, so super dry) have been blowing but the forecast is for a little cooler weather on tap along with some moisture. Accordingly, workout times at Santa Anita itself should be pretty swift.

David Many9’s:
The Hong Kong Jockey club website offers more info than you’d probably want to know for each race

   For infö  more along the lines of DRF-style pps,  BRIS has  pp's for Hong Kong - check for either Happy Valley or Sha Tin. TwinSpires and Xpressbet both offer free Int’l pp’s as I believe does TVG.

     I  completely agree about cutting off the wriggle room for suspended trainers deputizing their assistants -- in Preciado’s case the ruled-off trainer is happily ensconced at a training center, training the horses, shipping them in to the track for the obligatory timed works under the aegis of an assistant and just generally carrying on as if nothing has changed, because nothing has.The only way for these suspensions to have any teeth is to spread the pain around. It's time to extend the penalty to the owners for being complicit in schemes that keep the shady guys in shady business.
     I'm aware that there are a number of 'violations' that are somewhat controversial and involve otherwise seemingly above-board trainers. (consider someone like Kellyn Gorder, who had a bad test within months of training in his own name and of whom a whos-who of KY hard boots sprang to defend) There are overages of permitted meds, or traces of meds persisting longer than expected  and yes maybe even the occasional vendetta orchestrated by an unhappy employee, but once judgement is rendered, I believe the consequences need to be unavoidable and unpleasant enough to actually deter repeats.
     If your trainer can convince you it is an innocent mistake, well then, endure the consequences. And if you're not convinced of their innocence then move your horses to a better barn.

    I have pondered a lot over Dan Brutus’s question about when and if to pull the plug on ‘Watchlist’ type horses. In retrospect, for me, as long as I originally put the horse on the list for showing some exceptional ability or character, they generally deserve to stay on the list. It still remains to identify whether or not they fit in a specific situation, and It helps to identify a horse that has reached a plateau and is no longer an automatic play, but generally they pay off for me. The exception would be horses that I put on the list because of significant trouble and uniquely difficult trips — I feel they deserve one or two chances  to deliver a better performance and if not I feel it makes sense to drop ‘em. (like Governor Malibu, who I will give One More Chance with a new pilot!)

Best of racing luck all
Curt Vassallo More than 1 year ago

  As usual for U too.  Hilarious...

I suspect it was the larrrrrrrrge infusion from off tracks.

And ThanX. 

Curt V.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago



Psst…shhh…hey…come here…shhh… listen… I know it’s been awhile, but…shhh, hey… Friday, at Santa Anita… IT’S DOWNHILL TURF MADNESS!!!! ARRRRGGGGHHHH…!!!


That’s right, three, count ‘em, three races down thedip.  Races #1, #6, and #9.  Can’t wait. I’ll try and get some thoughts posted. Not sure if I am really going to spend money to see how the new course plays, but it still promises to be interesting.


Later gator


DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


Nicely done.  I think you have pp’s prepaid thru 2020. I have this congrats message typed and saved so I just copy/paste now as this is a regular occurrence. I wonder how much cash it took to drop Connect odd’s that much. It was a big day but I am sure most cash was off track so there was a bit of lag in the tote.Still a drop of that magnitude is significant.


I agree second pays good. American breeders do not seem all that interested in pure turf runners. Personally I would not mind owning a turf horse at all. They stay sounder and offer longevity if durable. Downsides for us is Larry Jones does not seem to excel with those types (10% v. 25/30% dirt) and you have to beat more horses as turf races overflow. Still I enjoy turf much more. Watching a $25k claimer on dirt at DEL is like watching paint dry to me. Divine Dawn goes on the grass at DEL today. She is mostly a need the lead kind but a sprinter is signed on for this 7.5F test. Looks like a sit trip but she has not passed many or any horses in her life.Not gambling...

The Meadowlands all turf meet starts today. I glanced and did not see much I could play. Same for tomorrow.Hopefully they card a few I can make sense of soon.

Lady Shipman goes down the hill 6.5F at SA and off the rail draw. This should be interesting. Best horse, bad post,unique trip, and low odds.  Not my kind of equation but like I said any horse shipping in to SoCal for the turf east of Highway 5 is very live.

Clemson opened -3.5 vs. Louisville. Now it is LOU -2. I have not seen that kind of swing recently. Generally the opening Vegas lines are solid. They know where to put it to get an even money flow then live on the %. I don’t think Vegas intentionally wanted a disproportionate amount of LOU money by putting out a risky line. Vegas was not built on absorbing risk.Gamblers takes that on. LOU looks awesome early with a QB of uncanny ability. Clemson is a tough place to play though with its own NFL quality QB. It should be fun.

NFL ratings continue to slide this year although I watch it for 9 hours on Sunday. Many theories out there about this including a topic I talked about a few weeks back. The Saints/Falcons games was the lowest rated of all time thanks to another matchup. Even without the stiff competition I doubt fans were really interested in watching the Aint’s.  Personally I have had my fill of Drew Brees throwing 5 yard passes for the entire game. I have seen 50,000 of them already. Would someone at NFL HQ throw Monday night football a bone….soon.

Cathy More than 1 year ago
Van Savant,

Happy Anniversary!  I think Mrs. VS is a very lucky lady to be so loved by a guy like you.


I was interested in your Kirk/Ralph comments because I knew for sure one of them was crooked, just couldn't remember which one.  Age has a way of doing that.  Now I know, both of them are.  These "miracle guys" and the fact that nothing ever gets done to them has been getting me down lately.

Regarding Flintshire:  I know he is a wonderful horse, but i am looking ahead to the Breeder's Cup rather than the races right in front of us.  It will be interesting to see which Euros line  up in November to see how nice he really is.  in the meantime, with the amount of money available, if I had a front running horse with decent cruising speed, I would enter him this weekend and pray he holds on for second.  Especially if I thought I had a potential stallion prospect, a second in a graded race is never a bad thing.  Most people won't remember that only four horses were in the race.  That sounds kind of cynical, but I don't mean it that way.  I prefer to think of it as "thinking strategically for the long term."

Since I have a big wedding to attend this weekend, I am trying hard not to know what I am going to miss.  :(

SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Curt V

' penguini '  omg, I saw it in entries and thought to myself.."What a great silly name bet " 
Penguin ymous? Maybe you saw it too?

SR Vegas

ed More than 1 year ago
Van Savant,
Congrats on 23 years of happiness. You are lucky in love and blessed in life. It does not get better than that. Very nice redboard. Happy anniversary. edb