02/20/2018 4:29PM

Risen Star and Southwest thoughts

Last week's Risen Star Stakes featured an exciting finish as Bravazo nipped Snapper Sinclair in the very last stride. Both horses ran just fine, but I'm interested in Noble Indy moving forward. 
The third-place finisher, trained by Todd Pletcher, was making only his third lifetime start in the Risen Star and he took a good amount of dirt while racing in behind horses for the majority of the way. Once clear toward the inside in midstretch, he finished evenly in a race that held together from a pace standpoint. 
By Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy out of a multiple stakes-winning sprinter, Noble Indy's pedigree is somewhat questionable for longer-distance races like the Kentucky Derby. As you see from his past performances below, he's taken a step forward on the Beyer scale in each and every start, and I do wonder if his kick would have been enhanced last week if he got into the clear a bit sooner. His tactical speed is a nice weapon that Pletcher figures to sharpen in the coming weeks. He's likely to race next in the Louisiana Derby.
It can be argued that both Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair (profiled in the January 19 edition of FormBlog - http://www.drf.com/blogs/versatile-colt-follow) were aided by the lack of early pace. It will be interesting to see how they fare going longer with a tougher scenario. I still feel the latter might be best suited to turf and middle-distances, but he certainly deserves another chance in a major prep. 
My Boy Jack didn't have a stone in his path when he rallied up the wood to grab Oaklawn's Southwest Stakes over a sealed, muddy strip. He saved way more ground than runner-up Combatant, and it's possible that if you reverse the trips, then Combatant ends up in the winner's circle. Sporting Chance wasn't embarrassed in his first start since Saratoga's Hopeful Stakes. He tracked the leader, was checked when one-paced in midstretch, then was able to re-rally for third money. It's likely he'll move foward next time out.
Mourinho, the Southwest's beaten favorite, isn't a Kentucky Derby horse, but you shouldn't write him off completely. He didn't have to care for that wet track and he was occupied early by a pace-presser before throwing in the towel turning into the stretch. He isn't as good as the 99 Beyer he earned when getting a soft trip in the Smarty Jones, but he's not as disappointing as he looked in this race. Once trainer Bob Baffert turns Mourinho back in distance, he can make bank in sprints and one-mile events. 
Nicole Russo and I discussed Bravazo and My Boy Jack's pedigree in this week's Breeding Report:
Here are some updates to our Horse to Watch list:

Kanthaka (3-year-old best around one turn) - worked 4 furlongs in 50.80 at Santa Anita. Gotham Stakes next.
Free Drop Billy (3-year-old ran well off bench in Holy Bull) - breezed 4 furlongs in 48.13 at Gulfstream. Fountain of Youth?
Pioneer Spirit (big fig winner over wet track) - breezed 4 furlongs in 50.66 at Belmont.
Edwards Going Left (progressive sprint prospect) - worked 4 furlongs in 48.20 at Santa Anita.
Analyze It (excellent 3-year-old turf runner) - breezed 4 furlongs in 51.00 at Palm Meadows.
Backyard Heaven (impressive maiden winner) - breezed 4 furlongs in 49.25 at Belmont.
Pavel (significant traffic trouble in San Pasqual) - went 4 furlongs in 49.40 at Santa Anita.
My Favorite Gift (upwardly-mobile turf filly) - breezed 3 furlongs in 36.60 at Gulfstream West.
My Miss Lilly (learning effort in first start vs. winners) - breezed 4 furlongs in 48.82 at Gulfstream.
It's the Journey ran third in last week's General George at Laurel. Racing over a wet track and through a blinding snowstorm, It's the Journey tracked a quick pace and ran well. He'll stay on the list for the time being with his upside coming in listed stakes races in the Mid-Atlantic region. 
It's that time of year again! We're getting ready for our annual Formbloggers Convention at Gulfstream Park. Laura has been a tremendous hostess every year and she's getting busy with the planning. We're looking at March 10-11 for our convention dates. For all of the details, you can contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com. 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 2/9/18 - 2/15/18:
1. Unique Bella - 109 - Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Feb18-4SA
2. World Approval - 103 - Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 10Feb18-11TAM
3. Heart to Heart - 102 - Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 10Feb18-9GP
4. Dona Bruja (ARG) - 101 - Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 10Feb18-9TAM
5. Conquest Windycity - 99 - OC 75k/C -N - 7 Furlongs - 9Feb18-3GP
5. Kanthaka - 99 - Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 10Feb18-6SA
5. Om - 99 - Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 10Feb18-5SA
8. Chief Cicatriz - 98 - Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap - 6 Furlongs - 10Feb18-7TUP
9. Lucullan - 97 - OC 50k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 11Feb18-10GP
10. Dalmore - 96 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 15Feb18-6SA
10. Elysea's World - 96 - Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 10Feb18-10GP
10. Ring Weekend - 96 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 11Feb18-11GP
13. Hedge Fund - 95 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 11Feb18-8GP
14. Harlan Punch - 94 - OC 100k/NC - 1 1/4 Miles - 15Feb18-7AQU
14. Operation Stevie - 94 - Alw 40000s - 6 Furlongs - 9Feb18-8OP
16. You're to Blame - 93 - OC 50k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 11Feb18-5GP
17. Compelled - 92 - Mardi Gras STakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 13Feb18-8FG
17. Conqueror - 92 - Alw 50000s - 7 Furlongs - 10Feb18-9SA 
17. Flameaway - 92 - Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Feb18-10TAM
17. Rapid Red - 92 - OC 40k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Feb18-8FG
17. Skylar's Scramjet - 92 - OC 80k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 10Feb18-4AQU
17. Westwood - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 15Feb18-5AQU
17. Wynn Time - 92 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - 10Feb18-5FG
24. A Red Tie Day - 91 - Clm c-32000 - 1 Mile (Turf) - 11Feb18-4SA
24. Sawyer's Hill - 91 - OC c-40k/N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 10Feb18-8SA
Here are Unique Bella's lifetime past performances:
A Red Tie Day was claimed for $32,000 by trainer David Jacobson from Richard Baltas.
Sawyer's Hill was claimed for $40,000 by trainer David Jacobson from Kristin Mulhall.
I'll be at Tampa Bay Downs this Saturday morning for a handicapping seminar. If you're in the area, come on down. I'd love to meet you.
Congrats to rkccasselberry on winning the most recent HandiGambling exercise.

Sharon's scoresheets are available at the bottom of this blog post.

This week's contest will be Saturday's eighth race at Aqueduct. 
Here are the rules:
HANDIGAMBLING version 2017:
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 2017
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!


Copy of HG 2.11.18 Sweet Life Stk.xls55 KB
HGSATAQU.pdf156.14 KB
HG 2.11.18 Sweet Life notes.doc.doc13.14 KB