09/29/2016 12:20PM

The real Pennsylvania Derby winner is...Arrogate?

*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. 
Resting comfortably in his stall, 2,703 miles west of Parx, was the horse that profited most from last Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby.
Bob Baffert didn't have to lead ARROGATE over to the paddock. He didn't have to put on the tack and he didn't have to sweat out a nine-furlong battle royal. Instead, he let Kentucky Derby winner NYQUIST and Preakness hero EXAGGERATOR do the talking for him. After Nyquist flattened out in the stretch to finish fifth and Exaggerator ran a non-threatening seventh, it's possible that Arrogate zoomed to the head of this year's 3-year-old class. 
Don't get me wrong. The lightly-raced Arrogate has done plenty of barking on the track. His Travers tour de force, a 13 1/2-length demolition of Exaggerator as well as the first-, second- and fourth-place Pennsylvania Derby finishers, was one of the best performances of the year. Arrogate received a 122 Beyer Speed Figure for the Mid-Summer Derby, the highest number awarded to a 3-year-old since Hall of Famer Holy Bull grabbed the Metropolitan Handicap in 1994 (also with a 122). 
Eclipse voters sometimes have difficult decisions to make regarding the year-end awards. How do they weigh talent versus accomplishment? Arrogate was an unraced maiden on April 16. The Travers was his first foray into graded stakes company. In comparison, Nyquist has two Grade 1 victories (including the division-defining Kentucky Derby) while Exaggerator has nabbed three Grade 1's (Santa Anita Derby, Preakness and Haskell). Is Arrogate worthy of being considered the leading light of the crop at this date off one Grade 1 appearance?
While Nyquist and Exaggerator are two very talented horses, they have let golden opportunities to secure the Eclipse slip through their hooves. Since his Derby win, Nyquist has dropped three straight races, including two to Exaggerator. Exaggerator has been beaten a combined 58 3/4 lengths in the Pennsylvania Derby, Travers and Pennsylvania Derby. It could be argued that both, barring a Breeders' Cup comeback, have run themselves out of contention for year-end honors. 
Getting back to Arrogate, the ball is now firmly in his court. Despite facing talented older horses in the upcoming Breeders' Cup Classic, he'll likely be one of the betting choices in that race. If he wins, he's undoubtedly the champ. A good, on-the-board effort might also be enough to snatch the crown away from Nyquist and Exaggerator.
As for the Pennsylvania Derby itself, Connect benefited from a ground-saving ride under Javier Castellano to deny a wide-rallying GUN RUNNER. While Gun Runner might be a tad more effective at slightly-shorter distances and has a habit of losing the big ones, he might have pulled this off if the trips were reversed.  He should continue to be followed, especially if trainer Steve Asmussen opts for a race like the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile instead of the much-tougher and longer Classic. 
Gun Runner might want eight furlongs or 1 1/16 miles, but Connect has true stamina. The winner of the Curlin Stakes, named after Connect's classy sire, in the first appearance around two turns and at nine furlongs, Connect then was no match for Arrogate when that one ran a hole in the wind in the Travers. Undaunted, trainer Chad Brown returned for the Pennsylvania Derby, a salty Grade 2 worth $1.25M.
Connect rated comfortably in the two path as Smarty Jones winner AWESOME SLEW outsprinted the fleet Baffert-trained CUPID to the early lead through an opening quarter of 23.01 seconds. Just outside of Connect raced Gun Runner and Florent Geroux while Nyquist tracked the leaders from a four-wide spot. The Derby winner loomed on the final turn as Cupid checked out, but Gun Runner was moving better while making headway on the far outside. Castellano scrubbed on Connect to stay within range and they burst through along the inside to contend for the lead. From there, it was a two-horse race with Connect, in receipt of three pounds from the runner-up, moving away from Gun Runner to post a half-length win in 1:50.20, a final time good enough for a 103 Beyer.
After the race, Brown mentioned races as the Breeders' Cup Classic, Cigar Mile, or Clark Handicap as possible short-term goals for Connect. He seems like a quality performer with further scope for improvement and should make a nice 4-year-old in 2017.
*Dan - the DRF lists average race par for MSW at BEL at 87 for grass and turf. Seems high to me. I know you are super  busy but if you catch your breath sometime in the near future can you explain the methodology behind the race par calculations?DavidM9999

The par represents the average Beyer Speed Figure over a certain time period for the relevant class level. They are updated regularly.

DavidM99*Mike Beer 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. This week, we'll cover Santa Anita, Belmont and Churchill Downs.
*For free handicapping previews of some of this weekend's major races, please head over to the following site on Thursday and Friday afternoon.


*You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 9/21/16 - 9/27/16
1. CONNECT - 103 - Pennsylvania Derby (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 24Sep16-11PRX
2. ARE YOU KIDDING ME - 101 - Durham Cup (G3-C) - 1 1/8 Miles (Tapeta) - 24Sep16-3WO 
2. BLACKTYPE (FR) - 101 - Commonwealth Turf Cup (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 24Sep16-6LRL
2. MRS MCDOUGAL - 101 - Noble Damsel Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 24Sep16-8BEL
2. NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR - 101 - Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 24Sep16-9PRX
6. KHARAFA - 100 - Ashley T. Cole Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 24Sep16-4BEL
7. SONGBIRD - 99 - Cotillion Stakes (G1) - 1 1/16 Miles - 24Sep16-10PRX
7. TOUGH SUNDAY - 99 - OC 40k/N$Y -N - 6 Furlongs - 24Sep16-7LRC
9. FOURSTAR CROOK - 96 - John Hettinger Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 25Sep16-8BEL
9. TEXAS CHROME - 96 - Oklahoma Derby (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 25Sep16-11RP 
11. CADEYRN - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs - 24Sep16-5BEL
11. TAGHLEEB - 95 - Remington Green Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 25Sep16-5RP 
13. ICE CUTTER - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 25Sep16-7BEL
13. IMPERIAL HINT - 94 - Alw 88344N1X - 6 Furlongs - 24Sep16-4PRX
13. IVAN FALLUNOVALOT - 94 - Donald M. Vance Sprint Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 25Sep16-6RP 
16. EXPECTED RULER - 93 - Alw 43780N2X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 24Sep16-1CD 
16. GIN MAKES YA SIN - 93 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 24Sep16-6PRX
16. OAKTON - 93 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 23Sep16-8WO 
16. UNBRIDLED MO - 93 - Remington Park Oaks - 1 1/16 Miles - 25Sep16-10RP 
20. CHOCOPOLOGIE - 92 - Governor's Cup Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 25Sep16-9RP 
20. GRANNY'S KITTEN - 92 - Alphabet Soup Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 24Sep16-7PRX
20. QUICK AND SILVER - 92 - OC 62k/N$Y - 6 Furlongs - 24Sep16-9OTP
20. PINK LLOYD - 92 - Alw 88013N1X - 7 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 24Sep16-9WO 
20. SANDY'Z SLEW - 92 - OC 62k/N2X - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - 23Sep16-3BEL
20. THE IMPOSTER - 92 - Clm c-25000 - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - 24Sep16-9BEL
CONNECT's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
THE IMPOSTER was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Joe Sharp from Brad Cox.
*Congrats to Curt V. for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Let's go with Saturday's Chandelier Stakes 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!


CONNECT.pdf646.96 KB
Copy of HG 9 24 16 PA Derby.xls53 KB
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
I like your choice for HG. 
I'm on 'the road again' to CA, we have family that LOVE to celebrate Oktoberfest 
in true Bavarian style. They also live about a block from where the Long Beach marathon 
route is run this Sunday. Fun to watch and cheer on friends .  Prost !!

Hope everyone enjoys the long weekend, if you have Columbus Day off !

SR Vegas
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Thanks again, but I need to clarify. I don't play HG the way many or most do. I never shoot to win the PPs. I would not know what to do with them. What I am trying to do is use HG to improve how I handicap and especially how I wager with my own money. This means I am very unlikely to shoot for the moon and hit big. That's just not how I wager. I think my biggest improvement this year is in wagering strategy rather than pure handicapping. I am seeing that there is money to be made in all the pools, and seeing the value of some very crude Dutching. The limitations of this approach are readily apparent when one considers the negative ROI. Good luck this week and all weeks.
Okiesharp More than 1 year ago

Congratulations on your recent HG win.  It ain't easy to do that!

David of 9's

'Common Sense', you've got to be joking!  Few have it, most do not.
As the politicians say: most Americans are in la la land.  95 % of them
are followers and can't think for themselves.  If we say it's so and put 
it on TV, they'll believe it.  For the powers that be, their system is working 
great.  For the rest of us not so much.......   As long as we continue to 
accept the status quo, nothing will change and probably go downhill 
from there!

People can do a lot of things to me......but lying ain't one of them!

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I would like to pick the Shadwell Turf Mile at KEE for this week's HG. Eleven entries, and TEPIN'S not running, so it should be a really competitive race with plenty of combinations for the Formbloggers to choose. KEE's weather also looks safer for Sat. than at Belmont Park.

This way we'll get a good look at the American possibilities for the BC Mile.

God Bless Longshots More than 1 year ago
First off, accept my apologies for misreading your earlier post.

I agree 100% with your thoughts. It's a well thought out and as usual well articulated.

I, for one, have stopped playing horizontals several months back at NYRA for mostly the reasons you've stated and I feel much better not to waste any time. As was the case last Saturday, I remember in the winter at Aqueduct when the first post was at 12:30 PM, NYRA used to post the changes approximately an hour before the first race. Hardly an inspiration for any horizontal player to get the information so late and see half the field scratched (many times even when the course is fast/firm).  Icing on the cake is now their M/L maker whose line is so out of whack that it simply can't be trusted or relied upon. 

Since they are so much into "Super" Saturdays, it sure is expected that all races would remain on turf unless the track is unsafe.  After all, the only meaningful day in horse racing, now, is Saturday. Go ahead and cancel Sunday turf races but let the horses run on the turf on Saturday.

We can only hope the changes could be posted as early as 9:30-10:00 am. That would definitely save horse players a lot of time and anxiety.

ed More than 1 year ago
I again tip my hat to your 2 year old prowess. You  are in the know and now rolling with the free pps. Some times the right thing happens in this crazy world. I am looking forward to my new MKB horse. We now have a month to go to BC. Time for our big hitters to swing for the fence and connect with some big winners. I am expecting Dylbert to catch fire. GBL to not take any prisoners. Rodney to ring some bells. We have so many good handicappers and we are going into primetime. I will need Bernard's help with the Euros. I am looking forward to a spirited conversation about all the BC races. Thanks to all for contributing.
I have two constants this year in HG. Me being off the board and you cashing. Just the facts. Great job on your weekly wagers.
A moment of respect to Arnold Palmer. I remember when he carried the PGA on his back. What a wonderful sportsman and such a classy guy. He was the Secretariat of golfers. One of the greatest ever. Thanks for letting me into your army. edb
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


Last weekend I also knew rain was in the forecast. I was following the Elmont, NY forecast as early as Thursday.  But as a horseplayer I see this. 6 out of the 11 races were turf. Questions included:

How much rain was coming? Would Belmont stay on or off? Would some be on and some off?  Who would be in the off the grass races or not?

So I proceeded like all were on. As a horizontal player you have to do it that way. I could have assumed the MSW and claimers would be off but then you cannot handicap them because you don’t know who is in or out. More than half the fields scratch in OFF the Turf races.Plus just a few key scratches and things change. I put in hours handicapping well before Saturday knowing I was going to bet rather large at the OTB. Most of us here are not speed handicappers or whimsical type players. As it passed 10:40 am EST with a post of 12:30 EST and no news I said screw the NYRA. I just stayed home betting nickels and dimes. 2 hours is not enough time to recalibrate once they decided it was off.

I say this on big days if your card them then run them on the grass. In the rare case if it’s an absolute bog make you call by 9 am. Respect the players enough to allow 3-4 hours to assess fields and re-handicap the whole card with what is left. If the NYRA has a philosophy of course preservation then just say it. Do not card 55% of the races on grass. Card the 2 stakes only and go all dirt. Gamblers do not want to do the work then get this kind of treatment. I have heard it is a safety issue not so much course preservation. Well if that is the case then all the turf should have been cancelled not just the 4 minor grass races. Race tracks have the “build it and they will come” mindset. They think we just will throw our cash thru the windows even not knowing who is in or out of a race and what they are even running on. I wish they would fire all the Wharton/Kellogg MBA’s running these places and hire a few common sense seasoned horseplayers. Maybe it is time for each major track to have a position called VP - Horseplayer Advocacy. This turf issue is not hard to solve. My suggestions off the cuff are:

Have a firm cutoff time for posting ON/OFF.

At time of entry make the trainer say if his horse is scratch or go in an off the turf scenario.

Post the ground measurements on the web site. Have a standard of what is a go or not. Players should know it.

Do not card 6 out of 11 races on grass on big days in spring or fall. It does rain.

State your goal – course preservation or horse safety or whatever

Put money into fixing the drainage systems. KEE has a great one. NYRA sucks.

Must have minimum of 3 MTO’s or the grass race is a not a fill.

Remember Players Lives Matter.

Last week before the Beholder/Stellar Wind showdown TVG had a live interview in the paddock with HOF trainer Richard Mandella. He is generally well liked and universally respected. Brittany Eurton of TVG asked a few of the normal questions a reporter may ask. Definitely nothing heavy or offensive. What followed was uncomfortable for me as a viewer. Mandella was curt, dismissive and generally came off as a smart A. I have seen him do this more and more recently. 

I understand tensions rise with championships being on the line. Plus Beholder is special to him. However,on the other hand if you cannot be professional to a young developing reporter then politely DECLINE the interview off camera. If you accept the interview you have the responsibility to answer fair questions in a professional manner. I have seen several other HOF types act like this. Spurs Coach Poppovich is the worst (he is forced by the league to participate though), NE coach Bill Bellichick, and Duke coach K. Is it me or do all the folks with the GENIUS label think they get a pass on manners. Sure the timing of interviews in general can be tweaked. I do not especially like or need an interview running off the field or even immediately after a race. Emotions are high.  In fact I have disdain for most any interview of this type. None of this was in play pre-race with Mandella. If I was running TVG I would go to Mandella’s barn personally telling him man to man "good luck Dick but you won’t be on TVG’s air in the future". You back up your staff.


Mr. Non-Genius


Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Biggar W,

Thanks! I'm used to trying to assess the potential of 2-year-old colts. Fillies, not so much. For the HG, I just tried to apply the same criteria that I use for the colts, and fortunately it worked out in this case. :)

A lot of bettors shy away from 2-year-olds, but they just might be the most honest horses out there. They want to run, and they will run fast if they can. So, some of the usual handicapping tools are even more important, especially workouts. Many of them "run to their works" as they say. Good trainers and jockeys are very important too. Good training and good handling helps them to develop what talent they have. It doesn't hurt to see that someone risked large amounts of money on a young horse's potential. At least you know that they must look the part. Of course, high sales prices don't always work out. Often they are based mostly on pedigree, especially for yearlings, and pedigree alone is no guarantee.

It's fun though, at least for me, to see each new crop, knowing that some of them will become the horses we will be talking about and betting in the future.

God Bless Longshots More than 1 year ago
David @ NYRA Turf
If it could make the point across, last year it rained a little during the last weekend of Aqueduct meet. NYRA, as usual, called off the turf on last day of the meet.

Have you any idea what they were trying to save the turf for? I sure don't!

God Bless Longshots More than 1 year ago
As NYRA pretty much the only major track I could bet (what a joke to even call it a major track besides Saratoga), I've got to keep track on NY weather. 

The weather channel predicted 80% chance of rain for Friday so, it wasn't out of chance.