11/21/2009 1:32AM

Saturday baby race, Advice, etc.


Any thoughts on Saturday's 6th race at Aqueduct (a baby race)?  Looks to me like a strong field of many well-meant firsters and a couple of second starters with a chance as well.  I'm trying to like the Hushion horse-#2, Sunrise Smarty because of the very strong connections and Hushion's white-hot streak.  But, the workouts are painfully slow, and I think the M/L of 8 to 1 is a dream.  Still, I'm very tempted.  Thank you in advance.

The sixth race at Aqueduct on Saturday looks like a fun race on paper.  It's a maiden special weight for juveniles, and there isn't a ton of form on display. 

I'm not going to go too deep as it looks like a crapshoot, and virtually anything can happen.  I am interested in a pair of runners that may offer some price potential. 

Beckon (#11) has a strong turf pedigree.  The dam was a winner on grass in England at one mile, and she has already thrown Summertime Legacy, a Group 3 winner on turf at two in France going eight furlongs.  Whether this son of Pulpit will flourish going 5 1/2 furlongs in his career debut on the main track is another story, and Kiaran McLaughlin's go-to rider, Alan Garcia, winds up on Rick Violette's runner (#6 - Forward Harch).  Still, I'm intrigued by Beckon's last two workouts.  On November 8, he went 3/100's slower than Quay Lime Guy, a McLaughlin-trained juvenile that graduated in his second lifetime start on November 14 with a 74 Beyer Speed Figure.  On November 17, Beckon went 1/100th faster than McLaughlin's three-year-old Redding Colliery, a colt that just won an entry-level allowance race with an 86 Beyer.  Beckon draws the far outside in this short sprint, but may be worth a small play at 4-1 odds or greater. 

Iguazu (#4) figures to be one of the longer shots in the field (15-1 ML).  Trainer Billy Turner is only 1 for his last 28 with debut runners, but he has a history of sending out longshot juvenile debut winners in November at Aqueduct.  On 11/5/06, Turner's firster Play It True blew up the toteboard at 55-1, and 364 days later, it was Ocean Goddess making a winning debut for the barn at 28-1.  Over the last five year's Turner's juvenile debut runners in maiden special weight sprints at Aqueduct at 2-5 (40%) with a $34.40 ROI.  Iguazu's gate workout on November 4 matches up with Wirebuster, a four-year-old stablemate that finished second in a $10,000 'n2L' claimer on November 14 with a 76 Beyer. 

Other firsters worth watching are Monsignor (#9), and Make History (#1).  Five Aces (#5) may be the one to watch out of those that have already raced.


To an aspiring journalist, and one who is particularly fond of horse racing and handicapping, what wisdom can you impart? I am somewhat of an exile among fellow writers on campus (in other words, I am one of only a handful of students who could tell you who Rachel Alexandra is) and I'm in need of some honest advice.  And as a self-proclaimed precocious handicapper, should I pursue handicapping further or am I in need of a lesson in humility?

When I first looked over your post, I flashed back to my days at Nova Southeastern University.  I was the Sports Editor for the Nova Knight, but was never very popular with the student-athletes. Instead of covering Lady Knights Volleyball, I wrote articles on the trials and travails of Holy Bull and Cigar.  When one has a readership in the double-digits, as I did, one could get away with that kind of stuff. 

After graduating, I was faced with a difficult decision.  Do I try to follow my passion and look for a job in the horse racing industry?  It seemed like a longshot.  The job market in racing was as thin in 1997 as it is today.  I had a firm offer for a very low-paying internship at Madison Square Garden (with the promise of advancement), as well as an interview for an entry-level position at Sports Eye, a harness racing publication on Long Island. 

On paper, it was a no-brainer.  Take the MSG job, and with some hard work, who knows?  Perhaps, I coulda been the voice of Knicks broadcasts. 

I couldn't do it. 

I loved horse racing too much.  I loved it ever since my father and great-uncle took me to Belmont when I was a four-year-old, and I loved it when I worked backbreaking hours on the backstretch at Yonkers Raceway when I was a teenager. 

If you have a passion, then you owe it to yourself to follow that passion even if it means running into a dead-end. 

I realize that I've been very fortunate.  It seems that each time a door closed, another one opened right up.  I understand that it's not like that for everyone.  
What the powers that be in this business fail to understand is that they need to encourage people to join the good fight.  Racing needs enthusiastic, energetic people with a passion for all aspects of the game.  People like you.

My advice to you is to check out this link on the Blood-Horse website:


It's a directory to just about every micro-field in the business.  If journalism or handicapping doesn't work out, what about horse appraisal?  Bloodstock agent?  How about working for one of the big sales companies?  Find one or 20 things that you're interested in, and start sending out those resumes. 

Then, head on over to this link:


This will take you to the websites of the racetracks themselves.  Each one should have some employment opportunities.  My advice would be to look for internships at the major venues like Churchill Downs or their affiliates. 

I must stress that if you are to accept this undertaking, be prepared for a long haul.  It's very difficult to get one's foot in the door.  The horse racing industry is a tough nut to crack.  There aren't many opportunities for aspiring handicappers or writers.  Newspapers and magazines are quickly becoming obsolete as the internet age continues to progress.  On-track attendance is down.  Will there be a need for paddock analysts in the far future if no one is there to hear them?

If you really, really love the game, I'd urge you to block out the Reaper that has threatened to put the sickle to the sport for the last 35 years.   Give it a look.  It can't hurt. 

And if you ever need any more advice, your friends at FormBlog are here for you.


Dan:  I am giving a mini-seminar and basic handicapping lesson to a group on 12/5.  I was wondering if you could direct me to some audiovisual aids, handouts, or other helpful materials that will help make the class better.  -Steve-

For past performance hand-outs, you could try downloading and printing an old HandiGambling race from one of the prior blogs. 

Head on over to the following link for a detailed explanation on how to read the past performances:


To break down the basics of handicapping and wagering, try this link:


Hope this helps.


BTW, did Frankel have a protoge? I know Dutrow was closest to him these last couple of years...

Tony Dutrow and Chad Brown are among the Dutrow assistants that have found success since venturing out on their own.


Dan, any way we can get a "comments" section after drf.com articles?  It would be fun to see what people thought.
Captain Bodgit

The idea has been tossed around in recent meetings.  Perhaps it'll happen next year.


Do you know how I can get the replays from Woodbine?  I don't have a computer betting account, and for complicated reasons I am seldom at the Satellite during the races, so I can't get them in either of those two forums.  I do subscribe to racereplays.com, but for some reason(probably money) they don't carry Woodbine. I would like to play the track because of the large fields and purses, but I don't like to play anything unless I can see the replays. Thank you.

Try calracing.com. 
Race replays are available from Woodbine.  Type in the name of a runner, and the replay should pop right up.


 Not sure what kind of entries we'll get for next Wednesday. Do we want to move HG to Saturday for next week?

Congrats to Bear for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling contest.  Bear gets to select next week's HandiGambling race, but I'd like to suggest one of the graded stakes races for Saturday.  Laura will be holding a chat on her site, and we could discuss the race as one of the topics.  Anyway, good job to all that cashed, and it's up to Bear to select our next race.

Will be back on Tuesday for the weekend recap.

Take care,


caseyjeaux More than 1 year ago
Laura, What do you think? Relative bargains Smart Strike (43 GS, 18 G1) has sired the best dirt male (Curlin) and best turf male (English Channel) of the past five years. He also has sired a top sprinter (Fabulous Strike) and juve¬nile (Lookin At Lucky) and 15 other individual graded winners. The 18 Grade I's during 2005-09 are the most for any stallion during this period. (2010 fee: $75,000) Awesome Again (35 GS, 14 G1) has never been popular at the sales, but it's hard to argue with his on-track stats - especially when com¬pared to some of the other stallions in his price range and higher (see below). Graded winners since 2005 include Ghostzapper, Ginger Punch, Round Pond, Spun Sugar and Daaher. (2010 fee: $50,000) Tiznow (31 GS, 9 G1) appears to be on an upward curve after a relatively slow start in 2005-06. His best runners are capable of covering a distance of ground, and he has had major winners on all surfaces. Tiznow already has a reputation as a big-race sire: over the past two years, his sons have won the Travers, Whitney, Belmont, Santa Anita Derby and Dubai World Cup. (2010 fee: 75,000) Lemon Drop Kid (19 GS, 5 G1) is another stallion on the improve, with all but two of his 19 graded wins coming over the past three years. Most of his best runners appreciate longer distances, and many have had success at four and beyond. His five individual Grade I winners include Richard's Kid and Santa Teresita this year. (2010 fee: $35,000) Not so much Mr. Greeley (14 GS, 0 G1) has a 2010 fee that is down from the $125,000 (!) he stood for in 2008, but he is still overpriced. The salient fact remains that he has not had a Grade I winner in this country since 2002. Mr. Greeley has gotten a lot of mileage - as far as his popularity at the sales is concerned - out of European Group I winners Saoirse Abu and Finsceal Beo. His graded winners have been mostly sprinter/miler types. (2010 fee: $50,000) Elusive Quality (13 GS -3 G1) has only 13 graded wins over the last five years, not many for a stallion that has stood for as much as $100,000. Sure, there's Raven's Pass, Quality Road and Maryfield, but beyond them Elusive Quality has had virtually no impact at the graded level. The 16-year-old stallion is still benefiting from Smarty Jones' Triple Crown bid in 2004. (2010 fee: $75,000) Indian Charlie (21 GS, 7 G1) seems a tad overpriced for a stallion with just seven individual graded winners in five years. Two of them were worthy champions Fleet Indian and Indian Blessing, who between them accounted for 14 of Indian Charlie's 21 graded wins and all seven of his Grade I's. Beyond those two, however, his stats since 2005 don't amount to much: five Grade III wins and a pair of Grade II's. (2010 fee: $70,000) (Copied from Jeff Scott in the Saratogian) Caseyjeaux
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Tinky OMG...HA! I loved your short comment. You have a dry wit I do appreciate! Nice to hear from you... SR Vegas
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Now everyone's got me thinking about the mating habits of horses. Does anyone think horses see "pretty", or "handsome"? I'm thinking maybe size matters. I'm on slippery ground here, as I deserve to be. Sorry.
John C. More than 1 year ago
Mike A., I'm listening to your points and I agree completely that it would take a lot more sprinting against larger fields (as in the BC Sprint) for Zensational to enter the "great" realm. We'll never get to see that, which does indeed add weight to your argument. I just thought that Zen seemed very fast (I see in his PPs that he regularly went 6F in 8 and change) and had such an easy gate even in his blazing workouts. By the way, I was rooting bigtime for Cost of Freedom to beat them all with his gimpy gate even though I had Zen on top in half of my tix. I am particularly fond of sprinters - I go to the track whenever Fab Strike makes the trip from PA to NY. I wish that War Pass was allowed to stick to 7F or shorter. I loved Smokey Stover, Lost In The Fog, Midnight Lute, Benny, Henny Hughes, and, back when, Housebuster and good old Dr. Patches. I never saw Dr. Fager run but what horse on Earth could touch him (except Damascus seemed to have his number). I have this recent notion that the forlorn True Quality, in the right hands, will dust all competition (or at least trade wins with Fab Strike). I cannot wait to go to the Met Mile next week to see the likes of some top sprinters a la Kodiak, Vineyard, Quality Road (yes, he can go longer too), etc. Blackstone, My wrath couldn't scare a kitten (smile a la Slew) and I'm always open to hearing people's evidence-based opinions. You are one of the good ones so I'm happy to hear your comments. Annie, If Zensational is as fast in the shed as he was on the track, Indian Blessing is going to be disappointed (though not sorely, haha) even if she thinks that Zen is cute. :)
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Ron Zuercher ...I Love that you brought up Peppers Pride.. Too bad she lost her foal to Tiznow, so sad. But she was 19 for 19 starts & wins, against her own New Mexico bred Fillys & Mares. A record to be PROUD OF!! ---------------------------- Mike A... Ok..All is forgiven, But remember... Blue Box Mom's and Den Mothers are out here to keep you boys in line. Besides we were here first...he-he-he! SR Vegas PS: on the road tomorrow for a "double dose" of Thanksgivings' Holiday...may you all enjoy your friends & Family! ...and Tencentcielo...Merry "Early" Christmas! LOL!
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Tinky LOL-that was very quick, just like the horse. S R Vegas My ex-friend says he lost the book in Las Vegas-does your copy have a smudge on page 148?
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Blackstone: Thanks for the correction on Sprightstown....on Lost in the Fog, I seem to remember a horse or two coming along with this one listed as sire. Did he never make the breeding shed? Laura: can you help us out with Lost in the Fog?
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
tinky; Great to see you posting again. I don't suppose that you have any "Stimulus Specials" for Wednesday at Churchill, or Friday at either Churchill or Arlington? A guy can only wish (snort)! Hope all is well, and thanks again for that original "Stimulus pick". vs
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
My guess on Indian Blessing is that being as fast as she was, she won't wait for Zensational to be brought up, but simply settle for Charlie the Teaser!
John C. More than 1 year ago
Blackstone, I haven't yet seen the movie "Lost in the Fog" but, over the holidays, I plan on doing so. I heard that it's a great flick and I wish that I had seen it when it was playing at indie movie houses. Mike A., Do I think that Twin Sparks could have beaten the BC Sprint field? Yes, a "qualified" yes! I still subscribe to the traditional handicapping view that "class" is less important in a sprint. So, on a given day that a speedy horse runs his lungs out like never before for an insanely fast six furlongs (not on the SA downhill turf, mind you), he probably was invincible on that day. I'd say that Twin Sparks could beat that BC Sprint field on maybe 5 out of 10 given Saturdays, given his record effort. I even think that this year's BC Sprint would have a different order of finish EVERY time, if it were run a hundred times- it was so crazy close. I'm also assuming that TS would relish the Pro-Ride as much as he did the dirt in Arizona.