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