02/11/2015 6:04PM

Still a Be-LEA-ver


Although second to the quick CONSTITUTION in last Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream, beaten favorite LEA ran another good one for trainer Bill Mott. Moving forward, he's the one I'll take out of the race.

Speed horses excelled at Gulfstream that afternoon and Constitution grabbed the early lead from his advantageous inside post position. His rider, Javier Castellano, did a fantastic job backing down the pace with fractions of 23.31, 47.29 and 1:11.18 for six furlongs.

Meanwhile, Lea tracked along the rail and in the two-path on the backstretch. He secured the pocket entering the final turn and had to wait just a bit before being eased off the inside turning for home. Lea had the length of the stretch to run down Constitution, but couldn't overcome that one's tactical advantage and fell three-quarters of a length shy.

“He ran well,” Mott told track publicity after the Donn. “We were inside and had to wait until the three sixteenths-pole to come out. If he could have taken a run at that horse a little sooner maybe that would have changed it.”

Lea’s rider, Joel Rosario, also felt that he was compromised at a crucial moment of the race. “I may have waited too long but he ran his race. He was really running at the end.”

Constitution completed the Donn's 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.51. He earned a 113 Beyer Speed Figure. Lea received a 112 and was 4 ¼ lengths clear of third-place finisher ELNAAWI.


Lea has blossomed since being transformed into a dirt campaigner. In 10 starts for previous trainer Al Stall Jr., Lea earned a Grade 3 victory in the Commonwealth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf and was Grade 2-placed twice behind champion Wise Dan.

Lea only started twice on dirt for Stall, however. He won an 'n3x' optional claimer in a sloppy, off-the-turf heat at Churchill Downs on June 1, 2013 and finished fourth in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes, also contested over sloppy going, at Saratoga on August 31 of that year.

Mott made it his mission to move Lea to the main track and the son of First Samurai responded with two brilliant wins last winter at Gulfstream. He knocked off the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes in his first start for the Hall of Fame conditioner before impressively taking the measure of the good Will Take Charge in track record time in the 2014 Donn.

Following that performance, there were great expectations for a big 5-year-old season, but Lea took ill and didn't make it back to the races for the remainder of 2014.

He returned in the 2015 edition of the Hal's Hope and was visually impressive. Lea was buried on the rail in a race without much pace. Shuffled back to last in upper stretch, Rosario angled Lea to the far outside, and he came with a determined run to overhaul the leaders.

Considering he only ran for about 1 1/2 furlongs in the Hal's Hope, his first start in 11 months and only his third race since the fall of 2013, one had every right to wonder if Lea would be cranked up tight for the Donn.  It’s scary to think he wasn’t at 110% fitness, although it’s likely that Mott had him really ready to roll.

While Constitution is being considered for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (Group 1) on March 28 at Meydan, Lea is very doubtful for that spot. More likely, Mott will search for graded stakes opportunities in America.

The question has never been about talent with Lea. It’s to do with soundness. If Mott can keep Lea healthy and happy, the Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider homebred could be in for a really nice season.


Here are the top WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 2/3/15 - 2/9/15:

1. CONSTITUTION - 113 - Donn Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 7Feb15-13GP
2. SALUTOS AMIGOS - 108 - Toboggan Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 7Feb15-3AQU
3. VALID - 107 - Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - 7Feb15-11GP
4. SHARED BELIEF - 106 - San Antonio Invitational Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 7Feb15-8S
5. IVAN FALLUNOVALOT - 105 - King Cotton Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 7Feb15-8OP
6. DORTMUND - 103 - Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - 7Feb15-5SA
7. FINNEGANS WAKE = 100 - San Marcos Stakes (G2) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - 7Feb15-7SA
7. HEITAI - 100 - Louisiana Bred Premier Night Sprint Stakes - 5 Furlongs - 7Feb15-2DED
9. MSHAWISH - 99 - Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 7Feb15-12GP
10. AMELIA'S WILD RIDE - 97 - Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 7Feb15-5GP
10. TELL TALE FRIEND - 97 - OC 100k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 8Feb15-7GP
12. FAR FROM OVER - 96 - Withers Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 7Feb15-8AQU
12. GOING TO MARKET - 96 - OC 25k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - 8Feb15-7LRL
14. RUSSELLIN - 95 - OC 35k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 7Feb15-5OP
14. WILDCAT LILY - 95 - OC35k/SAL25k - 6 Furlongs - 5Feb15-6GP
16. NIGHT PATROL - 94 - Clm c-10000 - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 7Feb15-9AQU
16. SHINING COPPER - 94 - OC 62k/N3X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 7Feb15-6FG
18. BIRDLOVER (GB) - 93 - Wishing Well Stakes - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 8Feb15-8SA
18. HILLBILLY ROYALTY - 93 - OC 62k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 6Feb15-8OP
20. DOGWOOD TRAIL - 92 - OC 75k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 8Feb15-11GP
20. GOOD CHEMISTRY - 92 - Clm 16000N1Y - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 8Feb15-6PRX
20. ONE KING'S MAN - 92 - Louisiana Bred Premier Night Championship Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 7Feb15-10DED
20. STANFORD - 92 - OC 75k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 8Feb15-4GP
24. DON DULCE - 91 - OC c-62k/N2X - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 8Feb15-3AQU
24. HE'S SO FINE - 91 - Clm 40000 - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 6Feb15-4AQU
24. LUCKY LOTTO - 91 - Clm c-12500 - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - 5Feb15-5AQU
24. SANDIVA - 91 - Suwannee River (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 7Feb15-10GP

*CONSTITUTION's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*NIGHT PATROL was claimed for $10,000 by trainer David Jacobson from Gary Gullo.

*LUCKY LOTTO was claimed for $12,500 by trainer Edward Barker from John Toscano Jr.

*DON DULCE was claimed for $62,500 by trainer Abigail Adsit from Michael Wilson.


Dan – Could you post the lifetime PPs for Buckpasser? Thanks!

Buckpasser was 2-year-old champion of 1965 and Horse of the Year in 1966. His lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.



Maybe Dan can give another update for Game On Dude's PP's?

The talented Game on Dude's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Dan – has there ever been a HOY not favored in their first start the next year?

Prior to last Saturday, you'd have to go all the way back to 1984. Reigning Horse of the Year All Along made her return to the races in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Belmont on September 22. She was sent off at 9 to 5, the second choice in the wagering behind eventual Horse of the Year John Henry (even-money).


Two questions for you (kibitzers are welcome-like I have to even mention that here.)
How many lengths did Firing Line surrender with his slow break?
In the 3rd race at Santa Anita on Saturday what do you make of Bejarano's ride on Secreto Primero? If you didn't play Santa Anita that day keep in mind SP was stretching back out from a sprint where he was leading the entire way only to be nosed out AND at Del Mar he front ran a mile and was only passed by Texas Red. He was a single of mine on multiple tickets but my post race objective take disregards that angle.

Did FIRING LINE break all that poorly, or did Dortmund just beat the gate?  I didn't think Firing Line's start was terrible. Ideally, Gary Stevens probably wanted to sit where Dortmund ended up, but they had the favorite dead-to-rights at the furlong marker and couldn't seal the deal. I'm guessing the better horse won.

As for the Bejarano ride, it appeared that he wanted no part of the lead despite breaking on top. As a bettor, I wouldn't have been happy with the decision, although the horse didn't seem to do any running when Bejarano finally did ask for run in the stretch.


For those of you beginning to come down with a dose of Kentucky Derby fever, I've posted the lifetime past performances of the last 22 winners. Let me know if you find any interesting patterns.


Annie and SR Vegas have compiled an UPDATED version of "The 2015 MKB Book of Kentucky Derby Prospects." I have attached it to the bottom of this blog post. Enjoy!


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Remember to tune in to DRF LIVE's streaming handicapping coverage of Saturday's racing action with me and Matt Bernier. We'll kick things off at 12:30 ET.

The video previews for the weekend graded stakes races will be available later in the week at the following link:



Congrats to Rick for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling tournament.

Rick M.'s official scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

Let's go with Saturday's El Camino Real Derby from Golden Gate for this week's HandiGambling event.


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

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 if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE 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 recognize you .

- (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.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-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 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Buckpasser.pdf67.17 KB
GAME ON DUDE.pdf765.51 KB
2015 MKB Bio Document 2 10 15.pdf394.86 KB
Copy of Formblog Donn Handicap.xls71 KB
Marvin Keene More than 1 year ago
One thing I noted from your posting of the lifetime past performances of Derby winners for the last twenty years is how rare it is for a Derby winner to subsequently win a non-age restricted Grade 1. In your list, only Real Quiet, Silver Charm and Animal Kingdom have done so. In the case of the latter two, they one only one such race, the Dubai World Cup. Real Quiet is the only multiple unrestricted grade 1 winner in the bunch.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
In the last ten years there have been more "synthetic" superfecta horses in the Derby than GP preppers . If you've been lining out synthetic preppers you haven't been hitting many Derby verticals . Steve T's polysire list is completely irrelevant in regard to what I posted . Do the polysires NOT sire horses that win on turf & dirt ??? "it will not produce the 2015 Derby winner ..." That's a very courageous stand to take . You can apply that same statement to almost all the preps and have a good chance of being correct :) JJ JJ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I had a breeding mare (I don't), and the pedigree was a reasonable match, I would strongly consider mating her to the new stallion this year Noble Mission. His first runners won't hit the track until 2018, but will bear watching. The horse won at the highest level, at 10 & 10.5 F, beat some real runners doing it, and had speed, winning all his big races last year on the front end. He has a well-balanced and athletic but compact (not overly long bodied or long-legged or tall) build that should translate itself well to passing on to offspring and matching with variously built mares. It would be difficult to find a sire line more likely to produce a sire of sires, or consistent crops of good racing offspring than Noble Mission's. And, at $25K, I could take 12 mares and have 12 shots with him (or English Channel) for the price of only 1 shot with Tapit! One day, $25K may sound like a bargain. Not one but two tough breaks in that sprint for Willie B Mine on Saturday. Steadied sharply leaving the backstretch and then blocked in the upper stretch. Too much to overcome. But even with that he didn't disgrace himself by any means, and I would think they'll give him at least another shot at that level. The odds will probably be there again. It was pretty cool to hear on Friday evening ….. I turned the TV on to "The Edge" on HRTV, and as they were doing the late P4 at Laurel, who should be called out as a long-shot possibility in the 6th by Gary Mandella but Willie B Mine. Such comments as "don't let the percentages fool you, this is a good trainer and jockey combination", "he definitely has speed", "if you look past the mud race and the try on turf, he's consistently run well", "definitely one I'll be using on my ticket". Dan – Since JJ asked for the lifetime PPs for Swaps, do you think that you could also post those for his great rival, Nashua? Thanks! Gold Shield broke his maiden smartly and confirmed the impressions he gave last fall of being a potential stayer. He plainly liked two turns better than one, appeared to have added muscle to his frame and filled out a bit. He lacks speed, is a galloper, and gave every impression here of being capable of staying on past the 9F; the time was not slowish. He was well spotted, and got a masterful ride by Johnny V, who knew exactly what he had and rode him exactly the way he should have, letting him go early, gallop around the outside of the field on the turn and just keep on galloping. I don't know what the immediate plan is, but I have to figure with Shug that he won't be rushed unduly. Will bear watching as a potential Belmont Stakes runner (maybe a "new shooter") more so than a Derby horse. Pat – I think it was called the Annual Basketball Handbook, something like that. Yes, hilarious stuff, carried on through the 80s. "Michael Cage ….. body by Fisher, brain by Fisher Price" was one I remember. "Greg Kite's game resembles a lobster, clawing, grabbing and holding." I agree about Pat Riley likely being the start of the overcoaching, micromanaging that is so prevalent today. The ironic thing is that he was hired as a pliable figure when the Lakers canned Paul Westhead. Then, his reputation seemed to grow by the year despite the fact that the Lakers offense was basically run the fast break whenever possible, and when in the halfcourt, throw it in to Kareem on the block. Al
Rodney More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas... Now its official...congratulations on your HG win ! Nice pick...well done. David M, 100 % right about the El Camino... If the Derby winner comes from that field, I'd eat a Tapeta sandwich as a bet.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Hell Freezes Over TVG and HRTV join forces. I like this since I cannot get HRTV on Direct TV. Used to have to watch GP, LRL and CD on Ipad and TVG on big screen. I wonder who survives staff wise at respective companies. Mergers usually mean more profits but people lose jobs. Hopefully this moves TV viewing forward. Having to pay for two dishes or multi-media tools to watch racing stunk. Now if I could just still buy a hard copy DRF in the Indianapolis suburbs my life would be complete.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Non-Derby Preps - Part Two JJ: “The El Camino Derby has a pretty good history of producing serious race horses.” DAVIDM9999 – “The ECD is not a serious prep. It is for B players, grass horses and not real KY Derby horses”. I probably should have said it is not NOW a serious prep or over the last 15 years it is not…but I stand by the original writing. JJ went back into the last century to make his point. I was alive back then and fortunately or unfortunately remember most or all of the past winners. I do think every race has a few good ones even the Sunland Derby but objectively on balance this race has not been stellar for decades. It will not produce the 2015 KY Derby winner or likely even not a KY Derby superfecta horse. It may produce a Derby starter but that is iffy. After you review the list of past winners a pattern is apparent to my 20/40 eyes. The race may have been relevant in the 90’s and 80’s but is going the wrong way. Synthetic surface is not helping. It is attracting turf horses and those who excel on syn. I won't argue percentages of sand versus wax but will offer Steve T's poly spreadsheets as State's Exhibit One that some sires are dropping horses pre-disposed to extreme improvement on poly (generally at box car prices). I think the surface the race is run on does influence the entrants the race attracts. Most trainers prefer to run “A” contenders over dirt in the preps. Not all but the VAST majority. Occasionally a trainer or more likely meddling owners may allow the purse v. competition proposition to sway them into the once syn Blue Grass or Spiral. I am no Derby expert like some who spend a life’s work studying it. Here is a listing of the last ECD Past Winners: 2015 – Metaboss 2014 – Tammarando 2013 – Dice Flavor 2012 – Daddy Nose Best 2011 – Silver Medallion 2010 – Connemara 2009 - Chocolate Candy 2008 – Autism Awareness 2007 – Bwana Bull 2006 Cause to Belive 2005 – Uncle Denny 2004 – Kilgowan 2003 – Ocean Terrace 2002 – Yougottawanna 2001 – Hoovergetthekeys 2000 – Remember Sheikh 1999 – Cliquot 1998 – Event of the Year 1997 – Pacificbounty 1996 – Cavonnier 1995 – Jumron 1994 – Tabasco Cat 1993 – El Atroz 1992 – Casula Lies 1991 – Sea Cadet 1990 – Silver Ending 1989 – Double Quick 1988- Ruhlman 1987 – Masterful Advcate 1986 – Snow Chief 1985 – Tank’s Prospect 1984 – French Legionaire 1983 – Knightly Rapport 1982 - Cassaleria
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Ray, Sorry...meant to say Betting everyone but the favorite was the way to go in a short field......three ways to win and only 4 horses to bet. It was worth taking the chance......Mike A
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Pat, Big day at the races or not...that's no reason to enter that horse in that race, there is always another. As far as the race itself it was an impressive one for Metaboss. A tick off the track record and a swift close. Tapeta of all the synthetic surfaces is about as close to dirt as you'll get.....Metaboss's only sib, Tejedor races in Puerto Rico, has won 7 times. His record is 18-7-6-3 most at a distance. So far 1 1/8th is as far as he's gone and has won multiple times at the distance. Their mom being a Free House Mare has distance pedigree, so that isn't a shocker. His sire is Any Given Saturday. He did place in a graded Stake but for the most part runs in claimers, in short fields and his times are slow.....but he does win and he does run well so I'll take it as a plus overall. So Metaboss's only sib while breaking his maiden in a claimer at 6.5f's is for the most part a stayer.....all races on dirt. Metaboss's only dirt race was an off the turfer sprint. Looking at his races overall I'd say he's a different horse when running more than a mile. My major problem with any horse coming from CA is competition.....I have to take every race at face value.....When Metaboss ran second at 1 1/16th to Bolo, his race before his md breaker at 1 1/8th he ran ok. Bolo seems like a nice horse, but I have to reserve judgment on him overall....he hasn't wowed me yet, even if he has some others. Finishing a well beaten second that day was nice, but considering who was behind him not any great shakes. Competition is what kept me from playing Metaboss at 6-1 in the ECR. When you also consider the horse who ran second the day Metaboss broke his Md, Rockin Robin, did so at 23-1 and subsequently ran 8th his next time out being beaten by an 11-1 shot and 6 others on turf. So even though I was impressed with Metaboss's race on the ECR I temper that enthusiasm with a "wait and see" attitude. I don't have to bet them while they slug it out......but I watch with the eye on the prize in May.....Metaboss still has to reproduce that effort Saturday on dirt....even if many indicators say he should I still want to see it......he'll be bet regardless and I'd want at least 10-1 depending on who he runs against in his final prep....10-1 seems a stretch though. Ray, That was a good piece of paying attention.......Miss Pink Diva had something like 132,000 of the total 136,000 show poll bet on her ....and the funny part was 100,000 of it was bet in one flash of the tote.......In a 5 horse field betting everyone but the winner to show was a great play......MPD looked good on paper, but not that good......when she dumped Hernandez second jump it must have been sweet for yourself and others.....Situations and percentage plays......it pays to pay attention.....Mike A
Rick Marciniak More than 1 year ago
HG Results--Unofficial Congrats to SR Vegas!! She had won $115 by using a $10 WP on the 3. Great Job to fend off the rest. ED Kay had $2 winner as well. That was it! No exotics! Nada. Back to the drawing board. Sharon gets to pick the weekend race. Could it be the Risen Star?? Southwest?? Will be her choice --PNR
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
Dan (brutus) I watched Nashoba Gold with sharp eyes because I had bet her in nearly all her previous races.I thought she had one more good effort in her tank. She has lost that deadly stalk and closing she once had. I could see it plain as day. I would not bet her again. Ray