11/07/2008 5:53PM

Saturday stakes, questions


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.

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. 


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.

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.


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:



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.

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.


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

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%.


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.


Have a great weekend!

Take care,


Annie More than 1 year ago
Steve T, Your ideas for solutions to some of the problems our industry is facing are, of course, very interesting. If I may, I would like to present a different perspective on one aspect, statebreds. As you know, I am from a very minor horseracing state, Minnesota. However, even though we are not one of the elite horseracing states, there is a segment of the population for which the statebreds are their bread and butter. And the horse industry provides jobs and contributes to the economy in many ways. Just because the owners and breeders here are not able to purchase the million dollar stallions and mares, does that mean they shouldn't be able to participate in the "Sport of Kings"? That would really be elitism, the very thing you are against. Our statebreds run against each other, they entertain us, and we can bet on them. The state bonus funds are necessary because they don't get to run for the big purses as at some tracks. And when you say there shouldn't be so many tracks, it's really starting to hit me where it hurts. Here in Minnesota, the only way we can have simulcasting is by having a set number of live racing days a year. We can't just be a simulcast outlet. And since our lawmakers do not think it would be good for us to be able to gamble on the internet, the only way we can legally bet on the horses is at the track. And about our live meet. I think it is like 53 days. In the summer, it's kind of like a fair atmosphere here on weekends. There are pony rides and petting zoos so people can bring along their kids. Maybe those kids will be horseplayers someday. Handicapping seminars are held to educate the casual fans and a good time is had by all. They don't even care that they are not watching the best horses in the world. But, they are watching them live and not on TV. They can see them up close in the paddock just like in all those "elite" states. And there's always simulcasting for the hardcore bettors. Anyway, Steve, you take away my track and Annie's not going to be able to bet on the horses and that would be a very bad thing. :( And with no New Mexico breds, there would never have been a Pepper's Pride. They can't all be Secretariats. Annie
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Dan, I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed and learned from TRIP HANDICAPPING. It was smart and professionally done, which should not have been surprising since you do most every thing well. I think it is a must for a horse player's handicapping library and for less than $39.96 (cost is $39.95) it is a steal. TRIP HANDICAPPING is a thorough, movie length explanation of trip handicapping, and a person will get something out of it, each time he/she views it. It is yet another tool in the arsenal a handicapper should have to have an edge when it comes to making handicapping decisions. Dan, I was thinking you look good on camera, and would make a good leading man for the movies. If not the movies, at a minimum you should star in a sitcom, along the lines of a Tony Danza or something. Anyway Dan, congratulations on a fine piece of work. Now I realize my first 'two thumbs up'- q_p, didn't work out too well. I was looking at my second attempt-'8 knuckles up'- mm_mm. In retrospect, it reminded me of sunbathers on the beach. So Dan, here's five toes up for TRIP HANDICAPING - @!!!! - Thanks,
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Zarpo, Thanks for posting the HG 109 race. Good luck this week. annie and SR vegas, I am glad PP won and I saw her race yesterday. At $2.80, I am thinking she has been a good bet against for several races now. annie, don't be too hard on Dan. I figure he has a right to some time away from the Formblog. Dan has a reoccurring nightmare, like in Fantasia, where he takes an ax to his two computers and they replicate every time he smashes one, while at the same time, they continue to spit out new posts. It is never ending and he can't stop them. Dan spends at least his first half hour in his therapy session talking to his shrink about the Formbloggers. God bless him.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Here are the current Grade 1 races with breakouts by surface, sex, distance, and state: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pIaalb5z28p-OAvUWMPRHaw
wearethesuckersatthetable More than 1 year ago
Can't we use a race that we can actually bet on? I refuse to support Churchill in any way. Calder, also. Hollywood, too.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Greg, all I am proposing is what they already do in other parts of the world. The public, in general, has been snookered for so long that they don't know what a cleanly run sport looks like. The only requirement is that jockeys ride with the correct ethic, and they know exactly what that is, it doesn't have to be explained to them. An honest ride, that's all. There is no reason whatsoever that jockeys, like people everywhere, shouldn't have their work come under review. Are you guys saying they are untouchable? I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. Standards and ethics. It's a simple canon. I don't see the problem. It works in greater Europe, and greater Asia.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Annie, The main reason I advocate abolishing statebred races is that they are a way to subsidize generally inferior horses. If I see that a race is a statebred, I will generally discount it. Why do we need to subsidize a system that produces (for the most part) second rate runners? I am okay with giving winning statebreds a spif IF they are running in open company. TBTA, This is one of my pet peeves - that fillies cannot effectively run with the boys. After 40 years of watching races, I think it is one of those myths that needs to be busted, this is 2008 not 1968. The goal of my suggestion was twofold - mainstream the fillies and reduce the number of Grade 1's. I may have been too severe in reducing the Grade 1's for 3 year olds, but which ones do you get rid of? Especially since they make it much easier to retire 3 year olds?
turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Steve T., Loved your rant, but after my first reading, the one major question I have is, Why do you feel that the fillies and colts have to race against one another to earn a Grade 1? I can understand the 2 year old races, but not the 3 year old. There is no lack of competition for the Oaks, Acorn, Mother Goose, Alabama, BC Distaff and therefore the Grade 1 would still be meaningful.(I know east coast bias, but it is all I'm familiar with. Someone else can argue for the west coast races. ) My gut instinct was to react against downgrading Ruffian's races, even though that reaction does not make sense from a logical standpoint. I'm sure others can discuss other aspects better than I, but I was most curious of the reasons behind your solutions for the graded races. Once I understand that, I can have a better opinion.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Oh, and about Pepper's Pride. She doesn't know that she is "inferior". People on here have said she's never gone out of state and run against everybody. Well I say, why should she? If you can make a million bucks staying right at home, why go elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with being the best New Mexico bred, in my opinion. Ok,ok, I'll go find something else to do. lol Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
Well, since I can't read any new blog comments, I might as well write one. I never can understand why people complain so much about small fields. Small fields are not necessarily a bad thing. Look at yesterday, Vikkilee paid $10.20 in a 5 horse field (the 6th horse was scratched). I'll take $10.20 any day. I guess that the reasoning is that in a large field you can get a better price on your horse. But, there is also less of a chance that your horse will win. And, in a smaller field, if you can identify a false favorite, you can still get a decent price on others in the race. Of course, I am somewhat predjudiced because I love multi-race bets and it's a lot easier to find singles in smaller fields. Since I don't bet thousands on a pick 6 like some do, I need several singles so that I can spread in the big field races (many times these are the awful races besides). I very rarely bet a horse to win in a 12 horse field. I find it too risky. If I play those races, I usually try a couple of exacta combos instead so the horse I like doesn't have to actually win in order for me to get paid. And in contests, like this survivor thing, you better believe I haven't been picking my horses out of 12 horse fields. Just my opinion. :) Annie