05/04/2017 4:38PM

Some Oaks and Derby thoughts

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I heard there are a couple of big races at Churchill Downs this weekend.
 
Let's take a look.
 
Everyone likes to talk about the "Curse of Apollo" when discussing the Kentucky Derby, but the "Curse of White Star Line" never seems to come up when handicappers bandy about their opinions of the Kentucky Oaks.
 
While it doesn't receive the same "wow" response as "no 3-year-old since 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without at least one start as a 2-year-old," it is worth noting that no 3-year-old filly since Woody Stephens' White Star Line in 1978 has won the Oaks without at least one race as a juvenile.
 
Perhaps that's the one chink in the armor of PARADISE WOODS, who figures to go off a strong Oaks favorite after blitzing the Santa Anita Oaks by 11 3/4 lengths to the tune of a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. 
 
Paradise Woods, while obviously talented, didn't make her career debut until January 26. She must also ship across the country for the first time while making her initial appearance at nine furlongs. She is obviously the horse to beat and a virtual must-use in multiple-race exotics, but White Star Line's ghost hovers over her head.
 
So too with SALTY, a filly that is a neck away from being undefeated from three lifetime starts. She didn't debut until February 4, is another stretching out to nine furlongs for the first time and is mired in the far outside post position.
 
If you want a battle-tested filly that is experienced at this distance, look no further than MISS SKY WARRIOR, who is riding a five-race win streak into the Kentucky Oaks. Two of those wins, the Grade 2 Demoiselle and Grade 2 Gazelle, both came at 1 1/8 miles. While Miss Sky Warrior raced with the grain of a speed-friendly surface at Aqueduct last time out, she simply dominated that field. She has the tactical speed to work out a close-to-the-pace trip under Paco Lopez and our clockers on the scene at Churchill Downs note that she's made a nice impression galloping over the Churchill Downs dirt. 
 
For me, it's Miss Sky Warrior, Paradise Woods and ABEL TASMAN. The latter filly chased Paradise Woods in vain at Santa Anita, but I believe this late-kicker will appreciate getting away from those hard, fast tracks in Southern California. Plus, she'll get a good amount of pace to attack here.
 
*All of these Kentucky Derby contenders have some sort of flaw that handicappers must accept before going to the windows. 
 
Will the headstong CLASSIC EMPIRE behave himself in the circus that is the paddock and post parade? Does he have enough foundation after missing time earlier this spring?
 
Was MCCRAKEN simply using the Blue Grass as a prep run, or has he not completely recovered from the minor issue that knocked him out of the Tampa Bay Derby?
 
How much stock do you put into the fact that ALWAYS DREAMING's trainer is 1 for 51 in 10-furlong races at Churchill Downs? Will Always Dreaming be as effective outside of Florida?
 
Will the late-running GUNNEVERA be at the mercy of pace and race luck as he was in the Florida Derby last time out. Does he have the agility and ability to weave his way through, or circle around, this bulky field?
 
The list goes on and on...
 
I generally don't invest too much into the Derby, but my yearly stab this first Saturday in May goes to IRISH WAR CRY, a son of Curlin that has only run one bad race. He rebounded from his Fountain of Youth debacle to win the Wood Memorial in comfortable fashion, and I think his tactical speed (the ability to win from on the lead, or from off the pace) could take him far on Saturday. 
 
I'd use Irish War Cry with THUNDER SNOW (I've been squawking about EPICHARIS for six months so I have to use the horse that beat him in the UAE Derby), ALWAYS DREAMING (could have a nice early pace target in longshot FAST AND ACCURATE) and HENCE, who won a surprisingly-live edition of the Sunland Derby.
 
There is a very good chance for a wet track at Churchill Downs on Saturday:

Courtesy of Formulator, here are the off-track win percentages for the Kentucky Derby sires:

 
Ghostzapper (McCraken) - 20%
Smart Strike (Battle of Midway) - 19%
Curlin (Irish War Cry) - 19%
Tapit (Tapwrit) - 18%
Into Mischief (Practical Joke) - 18%
Malibu Moon (Gormley) - 17%
Tiznow (Irap) - 17%
Lookin At Lucky (Lookin At Lee) - 17%
Pioneerof the Nile (Classic Empire) - 16%
Mineshaft (J Boys Echo) - 15%
Midnight Lute (Sonneteer) - 15%
Street Boss (Hence) - 14%
Tale of Ekati (Girvin) - 14%
Trappe Shot (Untrapped) - 12%
Hansen (Fast and Accurate) - 11%
Bodemeister (Always Dreaming) - 10%
To Honor and Serve (State of Honor) - 9%
Union Rags (Patch) - 9%
Dialed In (Gunnevera) - 4%
Helmet (Thunder Snow) - no data
 
Best of luck this weekend!
 
***
 
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
 
Please watch two special expanded editions of "Out of the Gate," a handicapping program that previews the weekend's best races. This week, we extensively cover the Oaks and Derby cards.  
 
The Kentucky Oaks edition of "Out of the Gate" has already been uploaded to video.drf.com and Daily Racing Form's Facebook and YouTube pages. An audio podcast version is also available on iTunes and SoundCloud. The Kentucky Derby edition will be available Friday morning on those channels. I'll be on with Mike Beer and Matt Bernier and will be joined by DRF's Nicole Russo, noted tournament player Jonathon Kinchen and Timeform US handicapper Craig Milkowski.
 
You can check me out on Twitter @DRF_Dan Illman.
 
For up-to-date video releases from DRF, follow DRFTV on Twitter @DRFvideo.
 
***
 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 4/26/17 - 5/2/17:
 
1. RALLY CRY - 106 - Alw 78400N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - 30Apr17-1BEL
2. ALERT BAY - 101 - San Franciso Mile (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 29Apr17-7GG 
2. DISCO PARTNER - 101 - Elusive Quality Stakes - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 29Apr17-8BEL
4. WAR CORRESPONDENT - 100 - Miami Mile (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 29Apr17-5GP 
5. FARHAAN - 99 - Thunder Road Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 29Apr17-7SA 
6. RANSOM THE MOON - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 30Apr17-8SA 
7. HARD STUDY - 97 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles - 29Apr17-5BEL
8. ARE YOU KIDDING ME - 95 - Alw 79119NC - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 29Apr17-3WO 
8. FINLEY'SLUCKYCHARM - 95 - Roxelana Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 29Apr17-4CD 
10. BIG HANDSOME - 94 - Alw 88200NC - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - 30Apr17-3BEL
10. CALI THIRTY SEVEN - 94 - Powder Break Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 29Apr17-10GP 
10. VERTICAL OAK - 94 - Goldfinch Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 29Apr17-8PRM
13. CELTIC CHAOS - 93 - Affirmed Success Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 28Apr17-8BEL
13. ROYAL SQUEEZE - 93 - Jeblar Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 30Apr17-9GP 
13. TAKE THESE CHAINS - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 28Apr17-7BEL
13. WILDWOOD DEJAVU - 93 - Clm 15000N2L - 6 Furlongs - 29Apr17-2HAW
17. CONQUEST SANDMAN - 92 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 29Apr17-6BEL
17. DR. DORR - 92 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 28Apr17-8SA 
17. EVO CAMPO (IRE) - 92 - Santa Barbara Stakes (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) -30Apr17-6SA 
17. MANHATTAN MISCHIEF - 92 - Alw 10000s - 7 Furlongs - 27Apr17-7KEE
17. RIKER - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 29Apr17-8WO 
22. ABSOLUTELY STYLISH - 91 - Md Sp Wt 55k - 1 Mile - 29Apr17-8SA 
22. ARMY MULE - 91 - Md Sp Wt 75k - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 30Apr17-5BEL
22. DISCREET LOVER - 91 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 29Apr17-6PRX
22. HUNTER O'RILEY - 91 - Alw 73145N2X - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 27Apr17-2KEE
22. LUVINMEISEASY - 91 - OC 40k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 29Apr17-4HAW
22. MUTAZEN - 91 - Alw 72000N1X - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 27Apr17-8KEE
22. SPECIAL JO - 91 - Clm c-10000 - 6 Furlongs - 28Apr17-3KEE
 
*Rally Cry's lifetime past performances available at the bottom of this blog post.
 
*Special Jo was claimed for $10,000 by trainer Brett Santangelo from Chris Hartman.
 
***
 
Congrats to Felton Suthon for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
 
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
The Kentucky Derby is this week's HandiGambling exercise. 
 
PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
PLEASE NOTE THE KENTUCKY OAKS/KENTUCKY DERBY DAILY DOUBLE IS AN AVAILABLE WAGER FOR THIS WEEK'S CONTEST. KENTUCKY OAKS FORMULATOR PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT http://www.drf.com/race-of-the-day
 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
 
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
 
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 2016
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!
Harpo
 
A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS  IS  ALWAYS  APPRECIATED !
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.
 
ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A SATURDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL)
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RALLY CRY.pdf687.18 KB
Copy of HG 4 29 17 Powder Break.xls51.5 KB
HG 4 29 17 Powder Break notes 1.doc39.5 KB
HGKENTUCKYDERBY.pdf257.37 KB