09/29/2016 11:20AM

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