11/07/2008 4:53PM

Saturday stakes, questions

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one more thing: (to everybody) How much emphasis does the change to two turns, but not overall distance. affect your handicapping? Many of the horses in this race have not gone two turns. Am i putting too much emphasis on this point? This especially true with New York as most of the turf races are 1 to 1 1/4 turns at most.
tencentcielo

We'll see plenty of instances of one turn vs. two turn horses in New York.  At Belmont, route races are run around one turn (up to nine furlongs out of the chute).  At the Big A and Saratoga, route races are contested around two bends.  Sometimes, you'll see specialists jump off the page, but I don't necessarily upgrade a horse's chances because he/she is proven around turns.  I may downgrade a potential overlaid favorite if the horse has never been around two turns/one turn, but for the most part, I tend to overlook the angle. 

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Dan,
What's your thoughts on Old Fashioned? I know it's early and yet the same connections as Hard Spun and Eight Belles. He just romped by 15 and he's by Unbridled Song. This colt can run.
Tony

Here are his past performances so everyone can form an opinion:

Download old_fashioned.pdf

Old Fashioned cost $800,000 as a yearling, and is the second runner out of Grade 3 winner Collect Call (a $250,000 juvenile purchase that won the Santa Ysabel at 1 1/16 miles, and placed in three Grade 1 races including the Kentucky Oaks).  The second dam (by Alleged) is  a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Mitterand (dam of Grade 2 winner French Deputy).  The fourth dam (by Ambiorix) was a stakes-winner, and finished third in the 1962 Kentucky Oaks. 
Old Fashioned ran a game race in his career debut at Delaware.  He didn't break well, but soon settled into a nice stalking spot while in the clear.  He looked beaten in midstretch, but showed a good amount of courage in continuing his rally to get up in the final stride.  More eye-fetching was his gallop-out - he was several lengths clear of the runner-up after the race - and it looked like added distance wouldn't pose a problem.
It didn't.  In his first start against winners, he again overcame some adversity.  Old Fashioned broke a half-length slowly, then was steadied hard when attempting to rush up in between horses entering the clubhouse turn.  He showed good agility to get to the front and the rail, and had his opponents in a full-out drive a long way out.  While a bit late to change leads, he really poured it on his opponents once he did switch at the furlong marker, and was a runaway winner. 
It's a terrible cliche, but Old Fashioned could be any kind.  While I won't anoint him the 2009 Derby winner just yet, it's a good time to be an up-and-coming juvenile with Midshipman and Vineyard Haven's futures uncertain.  He's one to watch.

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Dan, how many people at the DRF get to vote for Eclipse Awards?
g or g

That's a good question.  I don't know the exact number, but I'm sure all of the handicappers, writers, columnists, and editors receive a vote.  For more on the Eclipse Awards, head on over to this website:

http://www.tra-online.com/eclipse.html

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Dan (and others, no doubt), you were right.  Donnaguska ran a clunker.  Either he had a freakishly large heart, a first race drug dosage, or stomped very poor competition.  Glad I didn't wager on him.  When he opened at even money, that scared me away.
Bryan

Unfortunately, Donnaguska was vanned off after the race.  Hopefully, she'll be okay.  The lesson learned here is that while a horse may have an exceptionally rough or interesting trip in a race,  it's still nice to get validation from the clock.  Donnaguska's amazing stretch run only earned her a 59 Beyer Speed Figure, far less than the allowance par at Hawthorne.  Thus, she was suspect when stepping up against tougher horses.  Taking 3-1 on her was a leap of faith. 
The same could be said of the quality three-year-old Pyro, who was anointed the Derby winner by some after some visually impressive performances earlier in the year in Louisiana.  While his late kick was breathtaking in those races, the final times and subsequent speed figures didn't back up what we observed.  The two (final time, trip) go hand in hand.  More often than not, a slow horse with a bad trip can't overcome faster animals.

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Dan,
Can you give me a percentage of those in the racing media whom are serious handicappers?
Hillbilly

I don't think it's an extremely high percentage.  Handicappers/analysts/columnists like Brad Free, Dave Litfin, Steven Crist, Andy Beyer, and others eat and sleep handicapping.  Other guys are experts in the ins and outs of the business, and their reporting is top-notch, but they aren't watching every replay or making their own pace figures.  Their job is not to handicap, but to report the news.  I don't have a number.  Perhaps 50%.

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Great job to all that smoked out the first-time turfer in the latest HandiGambling example.  Zarpo earned the biggest profit, and gets to pick next Wednesday's HandiGambling 109 race.

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Have a great weekend!

Take care,

Dan