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Saturday Stakes Preview
Let's take a look at some of this afternoon's stakes action from around the country:
Native Diver (Hollywood - Race 7):
This very competitive event was expected to showcase the return of Lava Man, but with wet weather on the West Coast over the past few days, his trainer, Doug O'Neill has mentioned that the veteran gelding will likely fight another day.
With Tres Borrachos and Mast Track entered, I foresee a solid pace up front, and that could help horses like O'Neill's Square Eddie as well as my selection, Neko Bay.
Neko Bay got the best of Mast Track with a solid late run two starts back, notable because it was Neko Bay's first start in almost nine months. Heartened by the effort, Neko Bay's excellent trainer, John Shirreffs, decided to start Neko Bay in the Breeders' Cup Synthetic Mile at Oak Tree, and Neko Bay was forced out of his preferred running style by the lack of pace up front. Instead of racing midpack, he pressed early leader Midshipman from the get-go, and that just isn't Neko Bay's kind of race. Neko Bay should get more pace this time around so expect him to revert to his best style - closing - and that may spur the needed improvement it's going to take to win this.
Selection: Neko Bay
Queens County (Aqueduct - Race 8)
I don't like the two morning line favorites, Researcher and Storm Play. The former, the defending Queens County champion, earned a big figure two back in the slop at Charles Town when loose on the lead, and it's unlikely he'll shake clear in the early going today. Last time out, Researcher disappointed as the favorite in the Mountaineer Mile, and I didn't like how he finished up during the stretch drive of that race. Storm Play missed most of the year recovering from surgery, and he didn't do much in his first start off the bench at Belmont when favored against fellow layoff runner, Midshipman. Storm Play's trainer, Todd Pletcher, is on fire at the Big A, but he's going to ask Storm Play to run 1 3/16 miles in his second start of the year, and first start in almost three months. At 3-1 on the morning line, I have to let him beat me.
Rodman is taking a big step up in class and distance, but he destroyed entry-level allowance horses at a mile last time out, and the runner-up, Well Positioned, returned to score at that level with the fastest Beyer Speed Figure earned in North America last week. A grandson of A.P. Indy and Affirmed, I'm hoping Rodman will handle this extra distance, and he may be able to rate behind some other speeds.
Prairie Bayou (Turfway - Race 10):
I'm hoping that the horse for course, Timeless Fashion, can rate a little bit in this spot as there appears to be a good amount of speed drawn to his inside. A three-time winner over the Turfway polytrack, Timeless Fashion finished a close second in this race last year, and enters the 2009 Prairie Bayou following a game gate-to-wire victory on grass at Churchill Downs. While that race was only a four-horse affair, and Timeless Fashion was able to set slow splits, he was put to the test by the runner-up five and one-half furlongs from the wire, and refused to let that rival go by. Timeless Fashion rallied from slighly off the pace to win on grass at Mountaineer Park earlier this year, and may find a nice spot off likely leaders Omaggio, Trooper D., and Inca King.
Selection: Timeless Fashion
Louisiana Classic (Fair Grounds - Race 11):
Star Guitar will deservedly be odds-on in this race, and it's obviously his race to lose. Still, they have to run it on the track, and we've seen far stranger things happen. I'll take a long distance swing with Star Production, a horse that has been beaten five times in his career by Star Guitar, and doesn't look to be in very good form. I'll toss his last race at Delta Downs as it doesn't appear he likes that track at all (beaten 11 1/2 lengths, 28 1/4 lengths, and 11 3/4 lengths in three lifetime races there). The old Star Production would attempt to run his rivals off his feet early, but he's been rated in his last two starts (two back because of post, last time by his rider). His only chance to make an impact would be to go to the front, and I think he's faster than Takin' the Bullet, the other logical speed horse.
Selection: Star Production
Louisiana Sprint (Fair Grounds - Race 12):
Not sure what happened to Foreign Production (no relation to Run Production) last time out as the consistent colt didn't pick up his feet as the 2-1 favorite. Usually, I don't like to play horses off that kind of race, but most of the signs point to it as an anomaly. He's only been off the board twice in his career, and he earned a very competitive Beyer Speed Figure at Louisiana Downs two back. Perhaps he regressed last time out as it was his second start following a short layoff. Because of that recent poor showing, Foreign Production's odds may drift up in the wagering, and he's run several races on his past performance page that can win this.
Selection: Foreign Production
Rooting for Sourdough Sam in the Gold Rush at Golden Gate (Race 8)
Best of luck to all:
I found this bit of information on the Hong Kong races:
Congrats to FRANKIE M @ TOYOTA for finishing first in yesterday's HandiGambling. He gets to select this week's race.
Enjoy the racing.
Finally things are less hectic at work. More time for mid week horse pleasures. The selection of Race 12 Fairgrounds- Louisiana Champions Day Sprint Stakes for HG164 is very interesting. In fact this race was originally scheduled for last Saturday and was washed away when the last four races had to be cancelled. If you still have Saturday's 'Form the PPs are there. Here's the ML from last week: Tortuga Straits 10 Hear No Angel 12 Foreign Production 4 Mr. Barracuda 12 Captain Buddy 10 Power Surge 6 Lee City Slew 20 Killing Me 20 Mr. Porter 8 Flashy Wise Cat 3 Silent Pipe 15 Chief Jay 8 Dan, you do have an impressive group of regular posters! People are certainly more civil than you see on other some other boards where rudeness, bickering and whining are much more common. Reading the blog is like sitting around a well informed group of friends talking horses and 'capping. What could be better? A huge longshot!
California Flag in the Hong Kong Sprint was up against it as i thought he might be.They sent a rabbit with him who was very quick and took enough out of him for the Hong Kong favorite to win.He was passed by three other horses in the last 25 yards for second, missing that by about a half a length. I think Koriner made a mistake by not bringing him over earlier. He had less than a week to get acclimated to the track. Had a work over the track on thursday which is a little too close to the race for me. And of course he was running the other way which might have added a little hesitency in his race at the beginning. You can watch the race at: attheraces.com It's free to sign up and you can watch replays of all the international races. blackstone, A play against angle are route horses coming back off a layoff in a sprint. Even better when they are the favorite. 90% of the time the trainer's are aiming down the road with the horse and the sprint is just to get some fitness into them.
Alan, OH NO, did Sam P break down? I wrote here on the blog about his original owner selling him with the stipulation that he never race again because of his infirmities. Then the new owners fought that in court and were allowed to race him. If something happened to him, it is utterly disgraceful. Knowingly racing a horse that is in obvious danger of breaking down is disgusting. Annie
Vicstu, See, Spartan Tom has the right idea. He is "eagerly anticipating" his new two year old. :) Annie
Jim Tully, That was great! Playing the horses can be very helpful sometimes, just when you need it. Annie
Kyri ..I didn't see the race, but thought the same when I read the Drf article....California Flag off the winner by 1 1/2 lenghts? ...couldn't have been that horrible of a race...and as you said, against this level of International competition...a job well done. Nice comment. SR Vegas
Mike A: Thanks for the nice words..it has been very nice so far (and so has the convo with Blackstone as well). Victsu: Maybe Square Eddie isn't that good?..he was my first throw out in the race. That is a horse who has to start all over again, I think a very poor training job so far on him..there was no reason for him to be in that race.
Outside speed at 7F reminds me of my greatest gambling moment. It was about 18 years ago when I had first started going to the races. I hit a large pothole in downtown Chicago in my small pickup truck and my truck had to be towed to a service station. The manager told me it was going to be about 400 bucks to fix my truck. The next morning I cleared my checking account of the $460 that was in it and took the bus to get my truck. When I got there I found out there was more damage than originally thought and the bill came to $570. It would be ready in a couple hours. Well, I thought, $460 is about as useful to me as $0--and there was OTB close by. I walked over and the next race going off was a 7F race at Gulfstream, 8 minutes to post. Having read somewhere that speed was good at 7F at Gulf and needing a nice payout, I boxed the 4 speed horses I could find, a 4-1, a 9-2, a 25-1 and a 35-1 for $1, a $12 bet. I think you know where I'm going. The two longshots ran one-two all the way around the track. I cashed for $510, walked out of there 15 minutes after I walked in and went to get my truck.
vicstu, It is great to hear from you and glad all is well! Dan, Can you please check on the status of Go Swiftly, who broke down while making a winning move in PEN3 Friday night? She was a filly I've been following for awhile on my Watch List. Go Swiftly was by Gone West out of Dance Swifty, the full sister to Dance Smartly and half sister to Smart Strike. blackstone, I've read the responses to your question and since I agree with most of the comments, I'll keep my response brief. I tend to use angles "blindly" only for longshots. Otherwise, I tend to blend angles with a mixture of trip and pedigree handicapping. Trainer/owner/jockey angles become even more important at smaller circuits and trainer angles are, as mentioned above, very important early in meetings. If I may offer one suggestion that has made me the most money horseplaying over the years, it is to "stay ahead of the curve". Don't be afraid to be wrong with early impressions of a handicapping angle. It is no Big Deal if you are found to be "dead wrong" (aka stupid!) The times you are right will more than make up for the times you are wrong. In many ways, investing in the stock market is the same as using handicapping angles. Also, never follow the crowd on an idea...in most cases, the money to be made (whether horseplaying or in the stock market) has already been made. Once again, the absence of a "central governing authority" (for example, electing Uncle Steve as Czar of US Racing) has embarrassed racing. Welcome to case of Sam P... Horrible...
An extremely informative blog; lots to ponder. An angle to be considered(carefully) is when a trainer has entered two horses in a race and one appears to be a serious contender, while the other appears to be filling the race. Often times, the longer-price horse surprises with the win. This does not work when the second horse has a specific purpose (rabbit) and does not work for all trainers, but it is an "angle" that is often rewarding. I am sure we have all seen entries where the obvious horse is scratched and the remaining horse ends up going off at odds greater than the morning line and winning. It is just another factor to be considered when handicapping. I am eagerly anticipating the long-awaited MKB draw on the 20th. Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah everyone.