05/09/2014 3:36PM

Potential Price Plays for Sunday


Let's take a look at some potential price plays for Sunday.

The feature race at Belmont on Mother's Day is the Grade 1 Man O'War at 11 furlongs on the inner turf, and there's a little bit of something for everyone. GRANDEUR (#1, 4-1 ML) returns from Europe for trainer Jeremy Noseda. The gray gelding was sidelined by a fever prior to the Hong Kong Cup on December 8, but has returned to win two of three over the All-Weather surface at Lingfield. He is very capable on turf as well, with a pair of Grade 2 wins in North America in 2012. He probably will lag behind in the early stages and hope to mow these down with one late run.

IMAGINING (#2, 5-1 ML) is the prototypical Shug McGaughey/Phipps Stable performer in that he's really improved with maturity, distance, and turf. Second behind Lochte in his most recent start at Gulfstream, he had a worse trip than that foe as Lochte rode the hedge throughout while Imagining took the overland route.

FRAC DADDY (#4, 15-1 ML) recently won the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes over the Keeneland polytrack with a career-best 103 Beyer. He is capable on turf, but could be just a bit more effective on synthetic. He may also prefer slightly shorter distances, but is razor-sharp for good connections and will offer enticing odds. 

AMIRA'S PRINCE (#5, 5-2 ML) looks like the horse to beat for Bill Mott and John Velazquez. A good second over soft ground at Fair Grounds most recently, Amira's Prince will have no problem with the additional distance and has the tactical speed to find a good spot in the early going.

REAL SOLUTION (#6, 3-1 ML) finished behind Amira's Prince at Fair Grounds, but perhaps he needed the race - his first since the Breeders' Cup Turf - and he may not have appreciated the wet turf course. Real Solution has some ability, but I wonder if he's slightly better at 9-10 furlongs than at 11-12 panels.

LUCAYAN (#7, 6-1 ML) was forced to race closer to the pace than usual in the San Luis Rey, a race dominated on the front end by Fire With Fire, and that may have sapped his stretch kick. Expect Jose Lezcano to take him off the pace this time around and Lucayan, when he's right, boasts a strong stretch punch.

All of those horses make sense, but I will take a swing with VERTIFORMER (#3, 8-1 ML), a 7-year-old relegated to only 15 lifetime starts due to various infirmities. He enjoyed a perfect trip when third at Sam Houston on January 25 but, considering it was his first start in over a year, Vertiformer ran quite well to only lose by three-quarters of a length. He returned two months later in the Pan American Stakes at 12 furlongs, and I don't think he got the best trip. Joe Bravo seemed intent on finding the pocket just in behind the pacesetter and couldn't quite make it. Vertiformer was shuffled back along the inside on the first and third turn, raced in and among rivals when attempting to split horses swinging for home, had to alter back to the rail in upper stretch, and still rallied well to drop a neck decision to Newsdad, a salty performer that had a clear run on the outside. This is an ambitious spot, but Vertiformer looms a good price off a troubled run, and he won over good-to-soft ground in France way back when.

As for the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes, anything but a win for PALACE MALICE (#3, 1-9 ML) would be a huge disappointment for his fans and connections.

It's good to see GRACE HALL (#5, 5-2 ML) back off such a long absence in the Grade 2 Ruffian, but I can't take a short price not knowing if she can still run at all. MY WANDY'S GIRL (#2, 7-2 ML) did a good amount of work in winning the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel (had to stay within range of the fleet La Verdad, and still ran her down despite giving five pounds), shows some bullet works leading up to the Ruffian, and stays a mile without much fuss. I'll take her over FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD (#6, 2-1 ML), who may work out a tracking trip while in the clear from the outside.

*The Vigil Stakes at Woodbine looks like one of the better betting races of the weekend. DELEGATION (#6, 5-2 ML) reportedly bled through Lasix when bombing as the 3-10 favorite in the Grade 3 Durham Cup on October 6. He is capable sprinting, but has been plying his trade at longer distances for the last year, and this spot might be a good steppingstone for future routes. He is the horse to beat, but a potential underlay off the layoff. 

I'll try to beat him with ULTIMATE DESTINY (#7, 10-1 ML), who found his killer instinct during a 2013 season that saw him rattle off a record of 8-5-2-0. Ultimate Destiny looked really good beating restricted company in the Sir Barton on December 4 as he had to alter course four wide turning for home before resolutely wearing down the pacesetters despite giving them nine pounds. He won his seasonal debut sprinting last year and should get enough pace to attack at seven furlongs.

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


Dan Illman – question – when using Formulator is it possible to print pp’s without the BSF. I may want to try a solo voyage. I think I am not speed figure dependent but why not try it for a while. By the way Mr. Baker came back at GP. Now two wins in row after the questionable “hang’ in deep stretch that would have taken down the GP Millions pool.

I tried to filter them out and couldn't do it. I'll try and ask around and find out if there's a possibility. If there is, I'll let you know.


Dan or anyone,
What happened to Albano? The last I heard he was preparing for the Peter Pan. What happened? Is he still with the Jones stable and where is he being pointed to?

ALBANO took ill earlier in the week and that was enough to take him out of consideration for the Peter Pan. It's too early to tell where he'll pop up next.

*The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below:



















You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

All of the weekend's graded stakes videos should be available at the following link by Friday afternoon.



Congrats to Ron Z. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

We'll go with Friday's eighth race at Prairie Meadows for this week's HandiGambling event.


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

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 if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE 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 recognize you .

- (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.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-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 "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Copy of Formblog Kentucky Derby 5-3-14.xls74 KB
HGPRM.pdf185.24 KB
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Ron Z; Great advice for the FNG (freakin' new guy). He owes you one... Later gator vs
pat gavin More than 1 year ago
Ron Z. Brilliant analysis of the 6th grade level work that Matt B. has produced thus far. It lacks passion, depth and is as boring as watching a 4 horse race at Calder, It doesn't move the needle in the least. Cashing in on limited fame seems to be the way of the world. In the 80's I saw Charlie Eckman(local Baltimore legend) work a promotion at Delaware Park(pre slot and close to going out of business). I asked Charlie how much they were paying him to entertain, draw prizes and host the 450 of us who were there? $150 bucks, $50 betting voucher and a steak dinner., He worked cheap. Report later on the day at Pimlico.
pat gavin More than 1 year ago
I am close to stating heresy.....it all depends on how the track plays today.... but I will lead off by saying that California Chrome got a horrid draw, too close to the dead rail with no speed inside of him. Speed outside of him MAY pin him on the rail. On today card I will beat my head against the wall and bet on a beauty contest winner who continues to disappoint. 1st race my horse Bakerah continues to look like Donna Douglas(in her prime as Ellie May) and runs like Kirk Douglas(in his present state). IF that horse wins it will make my weekend. I also like Looks Like Sis in the 3rd(heard a rumor). Another flyer Wolftrap in the 4th(The chart does not do justice to how bad his last trip was) two good works since. In the 7th Sharp Omar has a shot(crafty trainer)..
. Anderson More than 1 year ago
Hey Ho one thing we know, people at the Preakness really let themselves go. Baltimore Sun link: [http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/horse-racing/preakness/?track=bs-subnav-sports-hr]
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Anderson - I want no part of 3-5 on any horse including Secretariat. I do hope Chrome dips to 1-2. I know I cannot play Ria A at even 500-1 for many reasons mostly ownership and trainer connections. Ring Weekend at 10-1 has not impressed me at all. If Chrome is rusty on Saturday, I think the winner may come from the obvious list in order Social Inclusion, Ride on Curlin or the General. I would hope for 8-1 on Inclusion but that is likely a pipe dream. Price shoppers will try him since he has ran fast enough to compete with Chrome on his A day. I knew I saw a sweet animal at Ellis last summer in ROC. He drew off like a rocket ship but at Ellis he was running in the Soap Box Derby not the KY Derby. I do think he is legit if ridden professionally. Dynamic Impact was life/death versus Midnight Hawk who I don’t have high regards for at all at classic distances. I likely will pass on him as second choice. I want to hear from Mike A before deciding on the General after he ran like a buck private in the Derby. He knows him as well as Mike Maker. Any thoughts on what his chances are Mike? Avila/Berrios – I have played these guys once in the last year – 05-03-14. I don’t expect to play them ever again. There probably should be a minimum standard of competency with jockeys. RA Cowboy Jones was riding in his 70’s. Watching him ride at that advanced age at Fairmount & Ellis Park was about as painful as watching him play poker as a younger man at the local lodge. I agree with Vicstu that this kind of afternoon exhibition and then pop is standard operating procedure. One of my best angles actually. I assume 80% of the debuts are for show with the next start being for dough. There are obvious trainer exceptions. Moreno – Jacobson is moving up the Eric Guillot horses by about a pole in NYC. Saludo Amigos is looking like this year’s version of Strapping Groom. If Jacobson had Moreno I suspect we would be looking at a Beyer superstar….. for a while anyway. Okie – AP Elvis ran into a buzz saw in Ben’s Cat last out. AP never lifted his feet so I wonder if it was the competition, surface or maybe a heavy dose of Ace. After viewing that last race it would be hard for me to take anything less than 20-1 and even at that number I still want a double shot of Jack or Jim in my hand when the gates open. I have been clawed trying beat this Cat a few too many times in the past. In MD he is so tough. Clock – when Eddie’s First established a downhill course new track record at SA I listed an exhaustive list of possible reasons that would be given to discount the effort. I was sure I had it covered. Nope, famous meteorologist Brad Free says it was the temperature. Apparently running on hot grass makes horses run faster. Now in hindisght it all makes perfect sense. You make me run 100 yards over hot coals and I would run a personal best for sure. Beyer - not a personal high water mark but solid work Andy with 205 comments on his “Myth” article. The over 150 is getting boring. I want to consult to John Avello first but thinking 175 makes sense.
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
MATT BERNIER'S NEW BLOG ON DRF First, welcome to the DRF community and good luck, you will probably need at least a little good luck. Second, the comments on Matt's blog are disabled, so I couldn't comment there even if I wanted, which I don't. Probably a good idea, disabling the comments for now, we wouldn't want to make the new kid cry, would we? If I remember correctly, someone mentioned that Matt used to post on this blog. If so, I hope he at least still reads this blog as my personal feeling is that there are numerous bloggers here that would be more than qualified to have their own DRF blog and many would probably do it for no remuneration. To Matt, make the most of this opportunity and I hope you will be able to attract some of the younger crowd. The following is my opinion and the way I see it, so please don't be offended, but for me, you need to step it up. Tell me something I don't know. When I had the good fortune to be a turf writer, I was told to write to an eighth grade level. Needless to say, that didn't happen. My intent was to send some readers to the dictionary every day and to give them some of what I considered some insight and information that they didn't have. I am hoping you might do the same by using your youthfulness and a fresh way of looking at the races and the racing game and engaging in some intelligent dialogue rather than telling readers "I don't like your attitude". Don't "dumb us down" , we are not. When I say you should tell me something I don't know, maybe you could teach some of us old timers that use Formulator how to delve into the Formulator trainer statistics, like how does so and so trainer do with fillies on the dirt the first Saturday of the month against horses that have only won once, not twice in this non winners other than, today. Here is an example of what I mean when I say you need to step it up. In your first blog you said "Formulator Fact: Over the past two years Nevin is hitting at a dazzling 86 percent (6 for 7, $5.17 ROI) " While I don't doubt that stat, it really is useless without qualifiers. That "dazzling" $5.17 ROI could have been obtained by having five even money winners and one 30-1 winner or six of the seven could have been 5-1 winners. A bit more dazzling than the first example. Now, to step it up even more, the next day's column after the Nevin horse loses at 5.70-1 (the right odds), you might try to delve into that stat and see where it went wrong. Maybe she always hired a leading journeyman rider for those previous six wins instead of the apprentice Mejias who rode the loser making her now 6 of 8. Maybe the distance, maybe the owners, maybe, maybe... What I am saying here is, don't give me pablum. I have had enough pablum. If you want or only know how to give pablum, then I suggest you suggest this to your superiors at DRF. Start a series for beginning horseplayers. Give them the basics. The "this is the third start off of the layoff which has proven to be a positive ROI angle" Or is it? Let these beginners pass a test. A test as simple as proving that they have read your articles and then giving them two free forms a weekend for a month while they go to the intermediate level. Pass the intermediate test and get limited free forms for a month and then another level or two. Giving out free forms to people that I will have a chance to take away their betting allowance would not piss me off at all, unlike DRF Bets that always touts "SIGN UP TODAY AND GET $150 FREE" What about me, who has been a member since almost day one and all DRF BETS has done for me is charge me $2.00 for being inactive for one month? I am no marketing expert, but that is no way to market. I started racing before you were born. A starter and intermediate classes and even advanced handicapping classes WITH REAL SUBSTANCE! could be a way to entice younger plungers. Everyone could use a benevolent Uncle or Grandpa as a mentor. When I started there were no instructions with the Form. I just started reading Jon White, Mike Marten, Leon Rasmussen and began to pick up bits and pieces. You have quite an opportunity in front of you which you may not even realize for a while. Though you don't fit the description of an uncle or grandpa yet, you could still develop a following. My advice is to be open for discussion. You will actually pick up a pointer or two from the blog community. Don't just write to write something. Have a purpose, especially if you were hired on the handicapping side. Anyhow, I really do wish you the best. Ron Zuercher
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
KYL A few days ago you brought up the Rainbow 6 being paid out on May 24th. The following is all done from recollection as the blog hasn't allowed me to sign on for a few days and I didn't feel like looking up your post, so my apologies if some of my memory is wrong and please correct me, but there were a few things mentioned that caught my attention. First, the pool may be 7 million and there may be 1000 winners. That makes the winners getting $7,000 not $15,000. Second, if you take 5 runners in every race, the cost is $3,125 not $625. It would be $625 if you had one single. To wager $3,125 to get back $7,000 in a multi pick bet seems like it might be better to bet $3125 on a 7/5 shot and let it go at that. I'll probably throw a few bucks at the wager my self. But an example to show how difficult it is to hit a winning ticket: Let's say you took lessons from the Breeders Cup Pick 6 Gang and you already had the first three winners singled. If there were 10 horses in each of the last three races and you could only afford to take only five horses in each one of those races ($25 investment), if you were drawing numbers from a hat, you would still only have a 12.5% chance of winning. or 7-1. One might say that some one is winning. Superior handicapping and a larger wallet helps, but take last Sunday. One could also twist around the saying there is safety in numbers. There were a total of 2,149,185 tickets. I don't know the exact rules of the Rainbow 6 but let's say 75% of the pool is paid out on a non single ticket day. There was $322,271 to be paid out at $1166 a ticket, which made for 276 winning tickets. Even just extrapolating one day of 276 winning tickets to 7 million pool, that is still only a $25,362 payout for a $3,125 investment. Good luck to all who venture. RonZ
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Getting things straight - I'm not saying it's been happening in California forever. I'm saying it's been happening at every racetrack on the planet since the first time Lord Derby & Queen Anne had a match race :) Here's how that story goes.... Queen Anne planned to have her horse pulled and make a killing so she could buy some more crown jewels at Tiffany's :) She had her secret undercover wagering agent Sir Bernard Downes the 1st hammer Lord Derby's horse with every bookie in London :) Unbeknownst to the Queen, Lord Derby was hatching a similar plan and he had engaged Sir Bernard's younger evil twin Churchill Downes to get as many guineas as he could down on The Queen's horse at any price :) The match was set for a 12:00 noon post time over a straight mile at Ascot . This is a description of the race day scene taken from the diary of Sir Bernard Downes the 2nd. The internationally renowned 18th century sportsman and gambling man Admiral "Diamond" Bernard Downes II put it this way.... ... Both horses were away cleanly and settled into a slow meandering walk from inner to outer rail grazing along the way. It became apparent early on that neither jockey wanted to engage in an energy sapping eurojog :) They reached the 3/4 pole on even terms at 2:47 pm . Just noses apart the tremendous throng of inebriated racegoers urged the jockeys and horses for more !!!... The battle remained joined until 5:37 when at about the midpoint ... The Queens jockey Rongway Corrigan began to circle back toward the starting post !! Lord Derby's jockey William Holdinback did the same and soon they were in a curious, butt epic , tail & tail battle going the wrong way very slowly while stopping to graze along the way :) At dark with riders, horses and especially punters physically exhausted and still 7/8ths from home the placing judges could no longer separate them and the match was declared a deadheat :) The pubs loudly rang with debate this night over who will win the rematch :) All debate ended amicably and we drank & sang Royal Navy songs deep into the night .... Rumors circulated . The Sherriff of Nottingham & The Shieks 43rd wife were assigned to investigate the matter . The investigation revealed no wrong doing and here we are 304 years later :) JJ
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Annie, Mike Beer is indeed with TimeFormUS as mentioned below. If you care to go to nyra.com you'll see his daily picks featured along with those of Jason Blewitt, and a quite thorough analysis of the day's NYRA card under the TimeForm banner. You might also like to check out the weekly half hour video under "The National Racing Report", it's hosted by Blewitt (who hosts the daily NYRA recap show), Andy Serling (the resident house handicapper), and Richie Migliore (whose insights alone I find it worth watching the show for.) Dan, If the above is not kosher to go through feel free to zap it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I am very pleased that the Preakness will be the Race of the Day for Saturday, they could go ahead and put the PPs up. They ARE available already, why not give them to us now, since they are going to give them to us? Why make us wait? Annie