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Some Quick Breeders' Cup Thoughts
By Dan Illman
It's been a harrowing week for most of us in the New York area, but it appears that our site has finally recovered from the devastating power of Hurricane Sandy.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Our annual Breeders' Cup HandiGambling exercise will go on hiatus until next year. I will select a race for next week's contest in the next blog entry.
I realize that it's a bit late to talk about the Breeders' Cup as most of your decisions have already been made for the big two-day extravaganza, but I'll throw in some quick thoughts of my own if you don't mind.
As usual, these races are very contentious and I'll concentrate on getting alive in multiple-race wagers like Pick 3's, Pick 4's and the occasional Daily Double. After perusing my selections once more, I realize that I'll have to spread in several races.
My top-four selections in the paper edition are as follows:
Super Ninety Nine
With the defections of Beholder and Kauai Katie, the Juvenile Sprint looks like it's ripe for MERIT MAN's picking. Still, I'm hesitant to play short-priced horses in the 2-year-old races considering that most of the babies will run without Lasix for the first time. SOUTH FLOYD was no match for Merit Man in the recent Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita, but he was wheeling back on only two weeks rest following his maiden win at Fairplex. Perhaps he'll move forward under Ramon Dominguez and he should show good speed. SUPER NINETY NINE chased moderate fractions in his only start and will likely have to go faster in the early portion of the Juvenile Sprint. That doesn't mean he can't win as he certainly seems competitive with this group, but it may make his task a bit tougher
The Marathon is also a guessing game. Most of the American horses haven't dreamed about running 14 furlongs, let alone competed at the distance. ATIGUN seems like a one-paced type that should handle the trip. He was third in the Belmont and has faced tough competition. ELDAAFER looks to be rounding back into his best form at the right time while NOT ABROAD is a solid stayer. Although a Grade 1 winner, JAYCITO's career has been derailed by injuries and some disappointing efforts. Perhaps this is what he's been looking for all along.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
The Gold Cheongsam
I'm guessing there will be a European theme. Flotilla had traffic trouble in her most recent race in France and may appreciate a firm turf course. SKY LANTERN took a Group 1 in her most recent start, and looks the filly to beat, but it will be interesting to see if she truly wants a mile (her sire, Red Clubs, was a crack sprinter overseas). WATERWAY RUN, on the other hoof, should enjoy the distance as she's by Arch. She's won three of four and picks up the great Dettori. THE GOLD CHEONGSAM (also by Red Clubs) adds blinkers. She steps up in class and distance, but has run some decent races overseas for Jeremy Noseda.
Spring in the Air
Many folks are expecting a speed duel between BEHOLDER and KAUAI KATIE, but I think that Beholder is faster from the gate. Breaking from the inside post should make Garrett Gomez's decision rather easy. It's catch me if you can. Whether Beholder can stay this trip is very questionable, but she should be in front when the real running begins. Kauai Katie is certainly talented while EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE is definitely the horse to beat for Bob Baffert. A true early battle would really enhance the chances of SPRING IN THE AIR.
Filly and Mare Turf
RIDASIYNA and THE FUGUE are must-plays in multiple-race wagers as they loom the class of the field. NAHRAIN looked good winning the Flower Bowl and may be reaching her peak following a few subpar efforts to begin the year. She ran very well in defeat in this race last year when finding 11 furlongs a bit too much for her. UP may be a cut below these, but she did defeat Nahrain two back in Ireland.
I'm looking forward to this race more than any other. The very good defending champion, ROYAL DELTA, tackles a pair of undefeated champions in AWESOME FEATHER and MY MISS AURELIA. Toss in Grade 1 winners INCLUDE ME OUT, LOVE AND PRIDE and QUESTING along with the talented GRACE HALL and it's a Ladies' Classic of epic proportions. I'm leaning to Awesome Feather, who has been managed with care by Chad Brown. Awesome Feather has had a series of physical problems since being purchased for $2.3M following her 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies victory. She still has managed to keep her perfect record intact and is entering the Ladies' Classic following a facile win, with a big number, at Belmont. Questing is a worthy 3-year-old filly, but one wonders if she will duel with Love and Pride early. Royal Delta is strictly the one to beat and a horse that deserves "A" consideration in the multiples.
Lines of Battle
I'll stick with the Europeans and hope that one of them will get me alive to the next leg. ARTIGIANO looks like a tough little fellow. He battled it out the whole way in the Royal Lodge only to be beaten a length by the good Steeler. Artigiano draws sweetly for Dettori and may work out a comfortable ground-saving, pace-tracking trip. Dundonnell looks like a quality colt that may handle firm ground. George Vancouver's lone win came on the all-weather and there is a good amount of dirt on the bottom half of his pedigree, but he has been consistent on grass overseas. I'm confounded by this race as I can make a case for most of the entrants.
Filly and Mare Sprint
Dust and Diamonds
Belle of the Hall
While I do recognize that GROUPIE DOLL is the most likely winner of the Filly and Mare Sprint, I will stick with Dust and Diamonds, who overwhelmed her competition (while getting weight at a shorter distance, I must confess) in the Gallant Bloom at Belmont. She'll have to do it at equal weights going seven furlongs, but a repeat of the Gallant Bloom would make her a strong contender. MUSICAL ROMANCE, the defending champ, can never be counted out while BELLE OF THE HALL and RUMOR are intriguing price plays for your exotics.
Good old JERSEY TOWN looks to be finally healthy for trainer Barclay Tagg. He enjoyed a good trip in the Kelso at Belmont, but had no trouble with SHACKLEFORD when the real racing began. Whether he can put two good ones in a row is a question, but perhaps his ouchy feet aren't bothering him right now. Shackleford is an iron horse that must be used. I wonder if EMCEE will be the main speed. Two turns could be an issue for him, but he has ability. DELEGATION got loose on the lead last time out and may not receive the same trip here.
Great Mills has been the source of much personal heartache. I needed him at 6-1 in the 2011 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland and he blew a clear late lead to drop a nose photo to Air Support. I needed him at 10-1 in this year's Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland and he blew a clear late lead to drop a nose photo to Perfect Officer. I've grown a bit tired of his act, but he did run well in his most recent start, the Woodford on October 6. He was involved in a heavy speed duel with a longshot and put that one away before succumbing to good-trip winner BRIDGETOWN late. STARSPANGLEDBANNER hasn't looked the same since returning from a failed stint at stud, but his back class and the addition of Lasix makes him interesting. CAMP VICTORY tangled with tough ones on the main track this year and is proven on grass. RENEESGOTZIP is very fast from the gate. NEXT QUESTION and BRIDGETOWN also can contend. In my heart, I'll root for CALIFORNIA FLAG, a warrior that loves the course.
SHANGHAI BOBBY isn't flashy, but he finds a way to get the job done in professional fashion. He gets a two-turn test in a tough Juvenile that features a pair of talented Baffert-trained runners (TITLE CONTENDER, POWER BROKER) that may have been aided by a speed-favoring Santa Anita strip on September 29. SPEAK LOGISTICS may have to rate, but has really improved since being allowed to stretch his legs around a route of ground.
St Nicholas Abbey
Point of Entry
POINT OF ENTRY leads the American charge and he won last time out despite not seeming to appreciate the wet course. DULLAHAN didn't like the off-going when disappointing in the Jamaica and it's very likely that polytrack is his game, but I was impressed with his Pacific Classic and think he'll give a good account on firm going. ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, the defending champion, ran into Frankel three back, may have found 10 furlongs a bit short in the Irish Champion on September 8 and didn't seem to like the ground on Arc afternoon. He likes firm turf and 12 furlongs and will get both on Saturday.
The Lumber Guy
I guess you can't love them all and I don't have a strong opinion in the Sprint. I'll hope to survive with my top four while realizing that all of them have holes. THE LUMBER GUY may bounce off his career-best performance following a layoff. TRINNIBERG could get cooked early. SMILING TIGER hasn't run a big race in a long time and JIMMY CREED could be a cut below. Jimmy Creed didn't have the easiest trip in his final prep, but may be outsprinted in the early portion of the race. For me, it's a toss-up.
I really couldn't separate my top two picks. WISE DAN and EXCELEBRATION have both been very good this year. The former was really impressive at Keeneland last time out and that race just sticks out in my mind. MOONLIGHT CLOUD is a quality European import while OBVIOUSLY looms the main speed.
Mucho Macho Man
Game On Dude
Just fishing for a price with MUCHO MACHO MAN. In his last start, he was stuck on a dead rail for the first seven furlongs before being altered out in the stretch. Then, he was carried out a half-dozen paths by TO HONOR AND SERVE. He's a nice horse that may need a candy setup, but will be a really nice price. GAME ON DUDE's merits are obvious. NONIOS is a horse that I'll fool around with in multiple-race wagers while FLAT OUT would benefit from a big pace.
More importantly, who do you like for the Breeders' Cup races? I want to know.
Dan..... Nice handicapping. i am impressed!
To AlydarandEasy: 1/2,3,4/5,6,7/5,6,7,8,9,10 If that is your bet, then you should stay away completely from Superfectas and bone up on your handicapping. You obviously like the 1-2-3-4, yet only play the 2-3-4 in the second spot and opt for horses you don't even like to beat out your own handicapping? It makes no sense at all. I play heavily into superfecta pools and the absolute BEST BET there is, is when i find a 3 horse race (by my handicapping and I play 123 with 123 with 123 with ???. I hit some many of these that it is uncanny. Especially at Calder when they take a race off the turf and the turfer is overbet due to high Beyer Figs on a surface he isn't running on. There is no way you can convince me that you handicap one way and bet blindly and follishly. What you are suggesting is that you win by LUCK.
BC musings , in general. My beloved RAH saw how much fun I had, and how some of my circled picks panned out. So he says , " so you can make a small profit with virtual money , how do you think you would do if you started to bet the real stuff? " He is encouragng me to keep better records, a journal, and write it down and keep my ROI and pinpoint my strengths and weakness. ( ...and where have we heard that? right here on formblog ! ) Then go spend just a few $ at the local casino to ' get comfortable ' to making real $ bets. Positive enforcement , so to say. I'm mulling it over, and come next year may be doing 'mini dates' with the RAH to the sportsbook , so both of us can compare "'notes' Uncle Steve ...I may just get off those $2 WPS wagers :) SR Vegas
Colin Welcome to Formblog ! I'm glad you are no longer lurking, as all new thoughts, ideas and characters are welcome :) ..BTW, don't you want a MKB baby for the Holidays ? SR Vegas
AlydarandEasy, Many thanks for the thoughtful response to my Superfecta question. Every time I see one of these strategies I am reminded how dedicated some people are, and how lazy my betting is. Although I am not minded to change my ways, if I were, it could soon become an expensive business. Our Bookies don't take 10 cent bets, they only accept a $1 minimum on such bets. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
I suppose I should thank AlydarandEasy as well. While I've been lurking for over a year now, I've always been a bit intimidated to jump on in. The superfecta post was right up my alley though, so let's give this a shot. That said, an introduction in probably in order first. Unlike many of the folks here, I'm a new soul to racing, only finding the bug around three years ago. Somehow my friends knew me better than I did and dragged me to the track (Canterbury) for my birthday. As a data cruncher at heart, I got hooked fast. Prior to that, the most exposure I had to horses were the farms I drove by on my lunch breaks. Now I've been taking riding lessons and loving every minute of it. This is also the first year I've been able to post a consistent profit and I have the feeling that surrounding myself with skilled folks like yourselves might just rub off on me. Oh, and Bernard won't be the only Brit anymore. Born and raised in London, though I've haven't been back since my honeymoon nearly 10 years ago. Colin
AlydarandEasy, Thanks for a very lucid explanation of how to bet a superfecta. I'm not a speed person, and numbers are not my strong point. However, I think I can follow your reasoning and it makes great sense to me. I'm going to try it - on paper, anyway! knm
Annie, The chat room will of course be available for the MKB drawing! Just let me know what time. I think the traditional time was 5:00 PM on a Sunday? Dick W, I echo the thanks for keeping score for the PH contest. Half of the time I forget to play and I must confess I rarely handicap for more than a few seconds. I look for live longshots. At least I got out of the embarrassing hole and showed a little profit. Calvin, Thanks for keeping track of the points for the Derby horses. I'm glad someone was able to figure out the system! Laura
Bernard Downes I actually wrote extensively about superfectas before last years Breeders' Cup, but here is a condensed version. When I first started formulating my superfecta strategies back in '02, I quickly came to the realization that most people were playing them incorrectly. That is, they would box their top choices together, or play something like 1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3,4/1,2,3,4,5. They made these bets because this is how they were taught to play them by "experts", and this is how they played bets such as exactas and trifectas. And it worked for those types of bets, particularly exactas. Two-horse boxes work great in exactas, because you can pound them, but you CANNOT pound superfectas; if you try, you will be the one who is pounded. The problem with playing your top choices together is not that you won't hit superfectas, but that you will hit them, albeit for a lower payout. Most people associate success at the track with cashing tickets. They feel that if they hit the bet, then they played it correctly. They just got unlucky that it paid so little. Since few people keep accurate records of their bets, they don't know otherwise. In this age of ten-cent superfectas, the problem has become significantly worse, because the bets cost so little. Take a six-horse superfecta box, for example. It costs $36.00, and has the following problems: 1) Its expensive---translated to one dollar equivalents, its = to $360.00 which is way too much to pay for a superfecta bet. It would have to pay $720.00 just to break even. 2) There's no differentiation between your top choice(s) and the lower ones. 3) there's a good chance that the favorites will come in together. 4) you're only going six-deep. I've found that the most profitable superfecta bets are the ones where just one of your three contenders come in. So in playing my formulas, I would "sacrifice' superfectas where two or three contenders came in together. For a twelve-horse field, I would have the following: one key three contenders three savers three non-contenders (also known as G.F.N.'s--good for nothings) They would be combined into the three following formulas: 1/2,3,4/5,6,7/5,6,7,8,9,10 = $4.50 (for ten cents) 2,3,4/1/5,6,7/5,6,7,8,9,10 = $4.50 1/5,6,7/2,3,4/5,6,7,8,9,10 = $4.50 The total cost is just $13.50. This is an extremely powerful bet, because it eliminates the lower paying combinations, and by going ten-deep, gives you good coverage for the higher paying ones. The actual formulas I used for the Breeder's Cup Sprint were as follows: 7/11,13,9/8,4,10/8,4,10,2,6,12 11,13,9/7/8,4,10/8,4,10,2,6,12 7/8,4,10/11,13,9/8,4,10,2,6,12 I also played the first two formulas an additional time for a total cost of $13.50 + $9.00 =$22.50. So I would have had the superfecta for twenty cents, if I had hit it. My mistake was since the Sprint was a 14-horse field, I really should have gone 11-deep instead of just 10-deep. It would have cost an extra ninety cents per formula, or $.4.50 for a grand total of $27.00. As for your question regarding win bets, there is no real comparison. That is because I'm primarily a speed handicapper. One of the limitations of speed handicapping is that speed figures are not good predictors or deterniners, they are merely indicators. Because of this, the horse is just as likely to finish second as to finish first. That is one of the reasons I play superfectas, and I use my key horse in both the first and second positions. In the actual race, my key horse (the one that I "really fancied" LOL), finished second, so I would have lost the win bet. I hope this answers your questions.
Annie; About six or seven years ago, I thought we might be "blessed" with another little one. Of course I was panicked, but when I really thought about it, I conceded that I was up to the challenge. But it was a false alarm, and much to the joy of my lovely wife and kids (and me), we are who we are...but I could have done just one more...of course I say that too about another glass of wine from time to time...and you know where that can get you! Oh wait...you are talking about a MBK...(snort!). Let me think for a day or two. This is a big decision....
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