03/20/2009 3:10PM

Stakes opinions, questions, etc.


Let's take a look at some interesting stakes horses for the weekend:

Distaff Handicap (Aqueduct - Race 9 - Saturday)

A short, but sweet group of ladies are set to tackle the inner track on Saturday.  SECRET GYPSY looms he horse to beat, but she missed a start at the Fair Grounds last month due to a swollen pastern, faces some other speed in the form of MOONSHINE ALICE, and will likely be the betting favorite.  Instead, I'll take a shot with AWESOME ASHLEY, a mare that has run well over the course this meet, and would benefit from a hot pace up front.  If you look at the short comment for Awesome Ashley's last race ("stead 5/8, traffic 1/4p), you'd expect to see a mugging once you watched the replay.  Instead, I have down in my trip notes, "tracked pace on gold rail, waited bit on turn, eased out three wide, ridden out."  While Awesome Ashley did eat dirt, and had to wait, she didn't have the amount of trouble the comment implies.  She still looked good running away from her rivals without being urged with the whip, and should at least be a decent price in this tougher spot.
Selections:  Awesome Ashley, Secret Gypsy, Royale Michele

Pan American Stakes (Gulfstream - Race 10 - Saturday)

I'm going to try and beat the horses coming out of the grueling Mac Diarmida Stakes on February 21, a race where PRESIOUS PASSION showed a great deal of heart and desire by re-rallying to turn back QUASICOBRA in the stretch.  Presious Passion ran hard every step of those 11 furlongs, and may be a candidate to regress over turf that may be a bit softer than he prefers.  I couldn't make an excuse for Quasicobra, who looked a sure winner in upper stretch only to be turned away.  SPICE ROUTE looks solid, and he had a bit of trouble in the Mac Diarmida, but he probably gets bet.  Instead, I'll play nutty longshot NERGAL.  Here's hoping that French pedigree is geared to marathon distances, and he's the type that would appreciate a little give in the ground.  He should get pace to attack with Presious Passion, SOUTH HANDYMAN, and BUDDY'S HUMOR in the lineup, and he will be a square price.
Selections:  Nergal, Sligovitz, Presious Passion

San Luis Rey (Santa Anita - Race 7 - Saturday)

Tough, tough race with several intriguing contenders.  I'm a big fan of ARTISTE ROYAL, but everyone and their grandmother saw his brutal trip two weeks ago in the Eddie Read, and he's going to get bet as he stretches back out to a more comfortable distance.  Artiste Royal has quality, but little tactical speed, and is usually at the mercy of race and pace luck.  It's a coin flip as to whether he gets a good trip here.  On the other hoof, SPRING HOUSE couldn't have asked for a better journey in the San Luis Obispo.  He saved ground every step of the way, and found a beautiful seam in the two path in midstretch from between horses.  The racing gods can't guarantee me a similar trip here, and his price may be depressed with the 100 Beyer staring folks in the face.  YOU GOT ME ROCKING goes out for top connections, and has mucho early gas, but he just stole one against weaker, and gets a distance test.  I'll go with MEDICI CODE, a gelding that hasn't won since 2007, but was pinballed at the start of the San Luis Obsipo.  While Spring House received a clear run in the stretch, Medici Code was in traffic for most of the stretch run.  He can do better with a little more luck.
Selections:  Medici Code, You Got Me Rocking, Bonjour

Lane's End Stakes (Turfway - Race 10, Saturday)

I wonder how far WEST SIDE BERNIE really wants to go, but he was one of the only horses running at the end of the Holy Bull, and he lost significant ground when conceding position at the start, and racing five wide on the turn.  There probably isn't much price in playing him, but he looks like the best on paper.
Selections:  West Side Bernie, Parade Clown, Flying Private

Orchid Stakes (Gulfstream - Race 9, Sunday)

Love DRESS REHEARSAL to turn the tables on CRITICISM.  The last time the two met, Criticism controlled the pace through dawdling fractions while Dress Rehearsal raced in and among horses for 1 1/8 miles.  Once Dress Rehearsal got clear in the stretch, she did some running, but it was too late to overcome Criticism's tactical advantage.  Criticism faces more speed in this spot, and Dress Rehearsal should be a tough cookie once she gets rolling late.
Selections:  Dress Rehearsal, Criticism, Lamentation

More importantly, who do you fancy this weekend?  I'd like to know.



We have had considerable discussion about Dicky D horses performance first with trainer. In today's HG exercise, I see that #8 Farleyshelonwheels is running for first after leaving Dutrow barn. Are there any stats for this condition?

Formulator has "1st after claimed from" stats, and horses making their first start after being claimed from Dutrow Jr. have won 17% (41-236) for a $1.57 ROI over the past five years.  Horses making their first start after being claimed BY Dutrow Jr. are 60-180 (33%, $2.29 ROI) over the same time period.


Dan, can you please tell me which Tracks have a One Turn mile. Thank you for your time in this matter.


The list stands as such, with thanks to C (for LRL/WO) and Greg (others):
--Arlington Park (poly only)
--Aqueduct (main/outer dirt track only)
--Belmont Park (dirt course and to an extent, Widener Turf.)
--Churchill Downs (dirt only)
--Colonial Downs (dirt only)
--Gulfstream Park (dirt only)
--Laurel Park (dirt only)
--Woodbine (turf only)


This drew my attention as well, because even though I have never heard of the trainer (Cathal Lynch) he/she was an 18% trainer in 2008. Also, the jockey was F Lynch - hmmm, is there a connection there? Details, details. lol

The jockey Fergal Lynch is the brother of trainer Cathal Lynch.


Causeways mentioned it, and so has Dan in the past, but what does it mean "to pull the Bill Daly"?

It's an old saying concerning jockey tactics.  A rider "on the Bill Daly" is going directly to the front out of the gate.


I would be very curious to know the Beyer that Dancing Rebecca received, but in any case, I think it was clear that Heart Ashley should have been expected by the readers of this blog to out-perform her number saturday.

Dancing Rebecca received a 77 Beyer on February 9, and worked five furlongs in 1:04.60 on March 13 at the Fair Grounds.


Could someone please explain the DRF notation "B" as in Clm4500(5-4.5)B.  In my 30 plus years of Form reading I rarely come across this.  I was told once it meant "beaten claimers" but aren't they all beaten claimers?  Thanks.
Ron Zuercher

A "beaten" claimer is a designation used when there are more than one conditions in a claiming event.  A typical beaten claimer will look something like this.  "For Four Year Olds and Upward Which Have Never Won Three Races OR Four Year Olds."  So, the race is a 'N3L' for older horses, and an open claiming event for four-year-old competitors.  A four-year-old can run in the race even if it's won ten times.


Dan (or anyone) the race reminded me of something which nowdays is probably even more important now that in the "olden days", and that is the purse values at a given track. I pointed out before that the winner had just run well in Pa. where the purses are a lot bigger than in troubled Maryland. Dan-is there any list of average purse values by track somewhere on the form (or anywhere else that anyone knows of)
Stephen L. Taylor

Check out this link:



Dan, if you ask Marcus Hersh about Nuclear Wayne, also please ask about Lyin Heart, another Asmussen runner on my RTTR watch list.  He ran at Oaklawn a few weeks ago but has been stabled at FairGrounds. I need to know!

Lyin' Heart will likely remain in sprint stakes races.  He worked the other day at Fair Grounds.  I'm not sure, but he may show up at Keeneland.  Haven't heard anything about Nuclear Wayne.  Asmussen is very high on him so he may be taking his time if there were any minor hiccups on the road.



Would like to congratulate Laura for her work for her detailed work at ironmaidensthoroughbreds.com, and would also like to thank everyone for their wonderful handicapping and commentary, as per usual, over the last week.

Will have to hold off on the past champion retrospective until next week.

Take it easy,