09/01/2016 3:02PM

Some Travers Day reflections

*As many of you have noticed, the "BLOG" tab on the home page has been removed. You can find this blog every week (usually published on Wednesday and Thursday) at drf.com/blogs or by going to the "NEWS" tab and clicking on the "Blogs" link. 
Here are a few quick thoughts concerning last week's races:
*ARROGATE sure looked like the best 3-year-old in the country when destroying the competition in the Grade 1 Travers. He earned a 122 Beyer Speed Figure for his track record-setting performance, and that's the highest number given to a 3-year-old since Holy Bull won the Metropolitan Mile in 1994 (also with a 122). 
Sent immediately to the front under Mike Smith, Arrogate ran hard every step of the way, albeit on a speed-friendly track, en route to his sensational score. Up next is the Breeders' Cup Classic where he'll likely meet up with CALIFORNIA CHROME, FROSTED and other top older horses.
GUN RUNNER ran a solid third in the Travers after receiving a beautiful trip and ride under Florent Geroux. He probably doesn't want to go 10 furlongs, but looms an intriguing cut-back option against horses like NYQUIST and EXAGGERATOR in a race like the Pennsylvania Derby. 
*Ho hum, FLINTSHIRE won another Grade 1 when successfully defending his Sword Dancer title. He's undoubtedly the best turf horse in the country so it was odd to see trainer Chad Brown stack the deck even more by entering a rabbit. 
It's not like Flintshire is some paceless plodder. We saw him sit fairly close to the pace when winning the Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard. After some anxious, traffic-filled moments, Flintshire showed off his electifying stretch kick along the inside to win under only hands-and-heels urging. The race wasn't without some controversy, however. 
Follow the other two Brown-trained horses in the Sword Dancer. MONEY MULTIPLIER is racing in front of Flintshire along the inside as the field moved to the backstretch the final time. Instead of sitting behind the rabbit on the third turn, Irad Ortiz Jr. switched Money Multiplier into a pocket in and among horses. That allowed Flintshire to scoot up behind the rabbit.

While Flintshire saved ground, Money Multiplier, the eventual runner-up, had to go widest into the stretch. It's highly-unlikely that Money Multiplier beats Flintshire even if he stayed on the rail, but the stretch run might have been more interesting. Also, if you bet Money Multiplier, you have to feel like you lost your best chance when Irad made that decision. Perhaps the jock felt that the rabbit would stop, and Money Multiplier would be bottled up behind horses. Either way, it gave the conspiracy theorists some ammunition. 
Watch Aaron Gryder on INORDINATE, the rabbit that broke slowly and had to hustle up to set those swift fractions. Turning into the stretch, Aaron looks over his left shoulder, presumably for the favorite. He then takes Inordinate off the rail, allowing Flintshire to shoot on through. Collusion? Perhaps not, but the optics were really bad. 
Here's an excerpt from a DRF Live post from David Grening: 
"The stewards did not issue any fines or suspensions to any of the parties involved. Braulio Baeza Jr. the steward for NYRA, said he did receive several complaints from other trainers who watched the race. The stewards said they called Gryder, Castellano and Brown in separately for interviews Sunday morning. Both Gryder and Castellano told the stewards that Flintshire clipped heels with Inordinate at the top of the stretch, causing Gryder to look back and then get out of the way to avoid being clipped again. The stewards said that Brown told them it was not the plan to have Flintshire come through on the rail."
Bottom line is that Flintshire remains the horse to beat in the turf division. I'd love to see Tom Albertrani ship TWILIGHT ECLIPSE out to Southern California to get away from the big horse. He loves firm ground, appears to be back in form, and can beat those horses out there. 
*Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 4:00 ET on Saturday. You can find us at live.drf.com. This week, we'll cover Saratoga, Del Mar and Kentucky Downs.
*You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
*Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 8/24/16 - 8/30/16:
1. ARROGATE - 122 - Travers Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 27Aug16-11SAR
2. FLINTSHIRE (GB) - 112 - Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 27Aug16-10SAR
3. MASOCHISTIC - 110 - Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 27Aug16-3DMR
4. A.P. INDIAN - 107 - Forego Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 27Aug16-9SAR
5. BACCELO (BRZ) - 103 - Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 27Aug16-11MTH
5. DREFONG - 103 - King's Bishop Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 27Aug16-8SAR
7. CAVORTING - 102 - Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 27Aug16-6SAR
7. STRIKE CHARMER - 102 - Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 27Aug16-12SAR
9. HAVEYOUGONEAWAY - 99 - Ballerina Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 27Aug16-7SAR
9. KING KREESA - 99 - West Point Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Aug16-9SAR
11. MR MAYBE - 98 - John's Call Stakes - 1 5/8 Miles (Turf) - 24Aug16-9SAR
11. THREEFIVEINDIA - 98 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 27Aug16-3SAR
13. HIT IT ONCE MORE - 97 - Albany Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 26Aug16-5SAR
13. MIDNIGHT MILEY - 97 - Seaway Stakes (G3-C) - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 27Aug16-8WO 
15. A RED TIE DAY - 95 - OC 100k/N3X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 26Aug16-2DMR
15. HY RIVERSIDE - 95 - OC 62k/C -N - 1 Mile - 25Aug16-8GP 
15. SOI PHET - 95 - Harry F. Brubaker Stakes - 1 Mile - 24Aug16-5DMR
18. BIG ROCK - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 28Aug16-5SAR
18. FAIR POINT - 94 - Smart N Fancy Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 28Aug16-10SAR
18. PERFECT PIC - 94 - Md Sp Wt 60k - 6 Furlongs - 26Aug16-5DMR
18. ROCKFORD - 94 - Clm 40000 - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 25Aug16-5SAR
18. STRYKER PHD - 94 - Washington Cup Muckleshoot Tribal Classic - 1 1/16 Miles - 28Aug16-8EMD
18. YOURDREAMSORMINE - 93 - Groomstick Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 27Aug16-6GP 
24. ACCELERATE - 93 - Shared Belief Stakes - 1 Mile - 26Aug16-7DMR
24. ON LEAVE - 93 - Riskaverse Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 25Aug16-9SAR
ARROGATE's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
*Congrats to Ed Kay for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Ed selected the sixth race from Saratoga on Saturday.
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!


ARROGATE.pdf707.38 KB
Copy of HG 8 27 16 TRAVERS.xls52.5 KB
HGSAROPC.pdf200.82 KB
Anonymous More than 1 year ago


I did not play that HG or even look at the PPs before, but your post made me curious to see (after the fact, of course) if there was anything at all about NONNA'S BOY that could predict a win. If I was playing that race, these are the factors I would have noted (in red) for possible inclusion in a wager:

First of all, it was Pletcher.

Even though JV had ridden him in three of his last six losses, he did not ride him in his last two, which were GR3 races, but was back on him now in a $62,500 claiming race, and we know JV is Todd's main rider.

This $62,500 claimer was his lowest level ever.

His highest Beyer was earned at this distance.

Then I would have looked closely at his last race:

Probably most importantly, the track was yielding that day, and was a very slow, tiring track. Judging by the times, he appeared to be slogging along at a much slower pace than he had run in the past on firm tracks. Probably had an excuse to tire and fade in that one.

It was a GR3.

And, something you rarely or never see, Todd had worked him 5F, THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE.

I'm writing this only to show some of the factors I look at when trying to handicap a race and also I have a lot of time on my hands this morning. :)

Anyway, for an HG, I would probably have included him in a superfecta box based on those factors.

As it turned out, things went perfectly for him in the race. The track was firm, he was able to run his usual faster fractions, AND no one got within a length of him. There you go. :)


DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


Could not agree more with all the points you made on SoCal racing. The massive changes weather brings the many locales is difficult to deal with.  When races come off the turf I just turn the page. Forget it. Some analysts say look to the MTO.  Maybe it is that easy but I question. I get mad because the work I did is completely gone. I then just close the book at that track. It rained at KY Downs the other day and quite severely. They did not cancel but instead ran on soggy ground. NY tracks would say it is OFF.They say that because they have a safety net in the main track to ensure their cash flow. I understand safety but if it was turf or nothing the races would go many times. FG and MTNR might as well pull up the courses. A bird flies over with a continence problem and no turf for 2 days. Two thumps up on the information flow in SoCal. For me personally I bet with more information there. It is not even close. It is on me to use it properly.


I wish I had your problem with the time zones. :-) Interesting point on how to view a 6 horse field. I am going to look at those closer.

On Nonna’s Boy I did not like him much. It was a Todd so that means we hardly should summarily dismiss but seemed a bit slower although he had a touch of back class. His prior drops into OC were okay. The race versus Full Mast and Almasty was unwinnable versus those. The last at MTH was on yielding with a 31 variance so I would lineout. Again an unwinnable spot vs. sharp Blacktype, warrior Kharafa, etc. I find these OC 62 races mindboggling. I generally look for a sharp old grizzled vet or a class dropper. I have posted here before I lose betting this race condition at a amazing high rate.

Another question for folks – How many of you take an Ipad or electronic device to the track?  At home I know every will pay or probable in exactas before I bet. At Hoosier Pak it is like betting in the Dark Ages. I have an iPhone but don’t take my iPad there for fear of theft. I don’t even like to leave a DRF sitting unless my friends are there also.

Woodbine Mile – this race has been good to me over the years. Annie says it looks like Tepin and Mutakayyef. That means 3/5 or 2/1. I have not gotten my pp’s yet but I hope there are other options. I suppose ice cold one way that might pay $9 assuming it even runs that way. Does a big race like this seem that automatic? Usually the Staples Easy Button does not work regularly in stakes races.That is not my kind of play. Now if Mutakayyef (say that 4 times in a row fast) takes it maybe on giving ground going and Tepin goes third possibly you have something that buys a few Del Mar beers. (you can see I am still bitter on the $13 rate) I see my old nemesis Jamie Spencer is riding. Every time I see him in America I think DQ. Ugly memories for my bankroll. WO is an awesome turf course. The race won’t be OFF even if the turf course is soggy


The MTH meet at the Meadowlands is cutting takeouts in what a track exec called an “experiment”. Aren’t we passed the “experiment” phase? Shoppers usually respond to sales. Gamblers too. Couple that with all turf races and large fields so I will be in for that meet. I find this meet easier than SAR or KEE. Let's hope the weather holds.


Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
I also reflected on my post and came up with the realization that voodoo is legit, you just have to believe hard enough. Lest anyone think my rant meant that I thought the whole thing is bunk, or wired for a few insiders, I did take my hard-earned to Suffolk Downs the very next day. Came back with more than I left with too. Still negative ROI for the year, but looking forward to more HG and the Breeder's Cup. Often by this time of year I am tapped out and demoralized.
Ned Daly
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
Ned wrote after the blog's last HG (this thread, pp's available end of Dan's article) in which Nonna's Boy won wire to wire: 
"HG analysis
Horse lost last six
Horse has much lower Beyers than many foes
Horse sprints to the front and fades last six
Same Trainer/jock combo in 3 of last six losses
Horse will only return about 5/1
Who would risk hard earned money there? 
Is there such a thing as handicapping?
Is it voodoo?"

Ned, I've been in a word drought lately, but it rained 8/10ths of an inch today, so here goes.
My answers are:  There is such a thing as handicapping.  It is a very personalized process and even though success is measured in wins and losses and profits and losses, I don't see it as being that there is always a right answer or a right wager.  Of course, if you win, you can say that was the right wager or the right handicapping pick.

You are not far off in asking, "Is it voodoo?"  
In this case, I think you are pretty right on.
It takes a great leap of faith to think that voodoo works.  For Nonna's Boy to go wire to wire also takes a great leap of faith, in my opinion.  

The Beyer par for the race was a 96.  Nonna's Boy had a life best Beyer of 89 and my feeling of the horse is that he is an 86-88 Beyer type of horse.  Beyer gave him a 94 for the HG race, a five point rise from his life best and about a 7 point rise from what he really is.  Now, that 94 makes the majority of the rest of the horses in the race, run to their average Beyers.  A fault in the Beyer numbers?  

How many times have we heard, "lone speed"?
Lone speed, pops and stops so often, that I prefer to let them beat me when they can.  
Nonna's Boy had been running against better horses, but class relief is not always the answer to when a horse will keep on running.

So, to those who wagered on him this time, you were the better handicapper in this race.  After his last race, he would now warrant a closer look, depending on where he is spotted, of course, but I would still not be surprised to see him quit or be overtaken in the stretch.

One handicapper's value is another handicapper's sewer.  Value is where you find it and is probably a more personal concept than handicapping the winner. 

Okiesharp More than 1 year ago

Morning Line Worksheet

As you all know, the 30 minutes between races seems to fly by and leaves
you little time for lolly gaggin’ around.  When I use my M/L sheet I always
fill out all the info I can before I get to the track.  There’s no real rocket
science involved to use the worksheet.  I try to plug the actual odds into
it somewhere around 10 minutes to post. This usually gives me enough time
to modify my selections (if needed) and still get to the window in time to make
a wager. As I write this, I’m thinking a person doesn’t really need a worksheet
to follow this mindset. You could just write the tote board odds that are showing

meaningful differences on your PP’s next to the M/L odds.  To high light these
differences you could circle them in red & put an asterisk beside them. None of
this is cast in concrete.  There are too many nuisances to go anal on this type of mindset/worksheet.  It’s just an idea that you may be able to use or improve


Anonymous More than 1 year ago

The Woodbine Mile sure looks like TEPIN and the foreign horse with the unspellable, unpronounceable name. POSTPONED and HIGHLAND REEL, the ones he ran third to are pretty darn good turf horses.

Maybe BERNARD can give us some insight on the foreign horses.


Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Hi C,

Cathy is right, I absolutely agree with you! I love So Cal racing for all the reasons you outlined in your post. Can hardly wait for SA to start. I used to love Hollywood Park, as well. I actually had most of my biggest successes there. Speed was king. 

Yes, Gibson Carruthers, Matt's father, was well known in these parts. Matt started out here, as well.

Good luck at SA. We even get the Breeder's Cup. How lucky are we? :)


Cathy More than 1 year ago
Correction:  I messed up on the color of the War Front colt, he is a bay.  I couldn't figure out who two bays could get a gray, but I am not a genetics expert.  The gray whose picture accompanied the Mandy Pope story was the Tapit-Wooh Why colt who sold for $1.2M  

Wooh Why will always have a special spot on my heart as both SR Vegas and I both bet her, along with the Beychok boys at the NHC and she came in at huge odds.
Cathy More than 1 year ago

We agree lots more than you think.  Since I am not a huge football fan and watch primarily because my husband LOVES it, just like he watches horse racing with me because I LOVE it, the social commentary doesn't bother me because I did't tune in to be entertained, I tuned in out of love for my husband. So, for me, the commentary makes the game more interesting and the players more human.  On the other hand, don't get me started on how much I hate political commentary at music concerts.  That's where I go to escape.
So, there you go, we really are on the same page.  :)


Awesome post and I bet Annie is savoring it.

Regarding the Keeneland Sales!  Now that is a sporting event that warms my heart.  I had the pleasure of attending the Keeneland November sale a long long time ago after one of the Breeder's Cups at Churchill.  Issam Fares dispersed his stock there and I saw Lady's Secret go through the ring.  SR Vegas and I saw a select sale at Fasig Tipton in Saratoga.  I don't think we saw any stars sold, but the atmosphere was heady.

Having said that, I am trying to follow the story about the botched sale of Mandy Pope's gem, a War Front colt out of HOY Havre de Grace.  Apparently the RESERVE was improperly communicated to the auctioneer and the colt walked out RNA'd at $1.9M.  Someone connected to the company has admitted fault, but the details are murky.  I am curious if she will owe the commission.  She is upset that her reputation has been injured.  I am wondering where I could get $1.9M to buy this very attractive PGH.  GoFundMe, perhaps?

DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


I tried to tippy toe the proverbial sideline with my comment on NFL and the recent player actions. I should have avoided that comment entirely out of respect for the rules of the Blog but I stepped out of bounds.

You and I tend to agree on most things. In fact over the years it has amazed me how often we generally are in agreement on the important things. This one we see it a bit differently but that is okay.I will keep this more about football out of respect for FB rules. I cannot argue with much you say. So many truths are in your words. However, in short I view football and sports in general as an escape from world occurrences but certainly acknowledge injustice and justice for that matter occur every second somewhere .I suppose I am an odd combination of sports purist and Neanderthal. I like the “game”on the field to be about the game. That is why I do not do pre-games or post-games. I have written here before when athletes or coaches speak I am long tuned out.  I selfishly watch sports solely for the action and the sport not social enlightenment. I do choose that kind of enlightenment from other sources.  

I gave up the Olympics for good back in the 1980’s when things turned overly political. Now I was naïve as they have been political as far back as time infinitum. As a 12 year old I was just too young in 1968 at Mexico City to understand it. Obviously as an American I support the constitution. The right to protest peacefully or speak passionately whenever exists even at football games. For me and me alone I just want football to be football. Personally I prefer the protests or social statements  occur the other 21 hours off the field of play. I suspect the country is divided 50.0001% to 49.9999% on this one as well. It will be interesting to watch how an athlete driven movement grows or not over the coming months and years.

One of my favorite races of the year is this Sunday at Woodbine. I love mile races on the grass as speed can hold and the closers also bring eye catching late runs at 8F. The grass queenTepin goes but will face several Euro shippers. I hope Bernard or others can check in with some thoughts on the Europeans. Not sure I want to bet Americans or locals to knock off HOF type Tepin but would consider quality Euro’s certainly at the right overlaid odds. I always wanted to see Hard Spun try the grass and this race in particular but Turfway Park called instead. Ugghhh…

The Keeneland sales have started.Big name sires Tapit, War Front, Medaglia d’Oro lead the way. No surprise. The Uncle Mo’s in the first two sessions have not broken the bank. The strangest price I saw in day one was a Bodemeister filly out of modest black type mare go for $9,000 ($106,000 earner). Usually book one/session one won’t see horses go this cheap.Randy Bradshaw picked her up. Kitten's Joy has experienced an odd run too. So far 13 entered the ring. 6 RNA’s all under $200,000 and 4 outs. The three that sold went for $80k, $130k, and $160k. One of his outs was the G1 mare Balance who has had 4 foals (3 to race) with only one winner.

Good idea Okie.  I hope to try that grid a bit. I wish I had a better memory. Didn't we have a poster (was it Blackstone) right about Yellow Agate? My DRF does not show scratches but wasn't this one scratched the first go around when the original post was here on FB.  Then re-surfaces this weekend at box cars. My memory is Teflon. I hope research scientists are working around the clock. Old age ain't going to be pretty.