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Sunshine Millions Saturday
Let's take a look at some of today's major stakes races, including the bi-coastal Sunshine Millions showdown.
Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint (Gulfstream - Race 8 - Track FAST - Scratch #6 SWEETLABYE):
AMEN HALLELUJAH is the deserving favorite based on her excellent record in 2010. A multiple Grade 2 winner, including the Davona Dale over this surface, Amen Hallelujah was also second in the Grade 1 Acorn. Unfortunately, she hasn't raced since the Acorn, and has reportedly been out with a cannon bone injury. The injury-induced layoff, coupled with the depth in this field, may make Amen Hallelujah a vulnerable favorite.
Instead, I'll go with AEGEAN, a Wesley Ward-trained filly that defeated a pair of next-out winners when taking the Dream Supreme Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 6. One of those next-out winners, beaten favorite Nicole H., has gone on to take two stakes races at Aqueduct with 99 and 100 Beyer Speed Figures. Aegean goes turf-to-dirt following a disappointing effort at Tampa Bay Downs, but has good tactical speed, and should be in contention when the field swings into the stretch.
Selections: Aegean, Feel That Fire, Amen Hallelujah
Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf (Gulfstream - Race 9 - Turf Firm - Rail 72 Feet - Scratch #6 WILD MIA, #14 HONEYMOON GIRL, #15 JET BLUE GIRL):
Hate to chalk out, but I think that DYNASLEW is simply the best horse in the race. She faced much-tougher competition throughout the majority of 2010 (Proviso, Shared Account, etc.), and wasn't disgraced, winning a pair of graded stakes races in New York. In her most recent start, the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland, a race that went faster than the Grade 1 mile turf race for males on the same card, Dynaslew finished evenly while probably being a bit overmatched. She might work out a good stalking trip, and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf looks like a nice spot for her return.
Selections: Dynaslew, Trip for A.J., Scolara
Sunshine Millions Classic (Gulfstream - Race 10 - Track Fast - Scratch #10 HONOUR THE DEPUTY):
FIRST DUDE really deserves one, doesn't he? He's still eligible for a 'N2L' race somewhere, but he's butted heads with some of the biggest names on some of the biggest stages. He was third in the Blue Grass, second in the Preakness, third in the Belmont, third in the Haskell, third in the Travers, and second in the Pennsylvania Derby. A hulking son of Stephen Got Even, First Dude is one of the rare "speedy plodders." He likes to race on the lead, but lacks the explosiveness to create separation from himself and the closers at the most crucial point of the race, the final turn. Thus, he is often passed while under a full-out drive, only to come back with determination once that big motor finally gets revved. Perhaps he's growing into that massive body, and he should be on or near the lead today. Is he a great bet at a short price against several quality multiple winners? Probably not. But, I do think he finally gets it done.
Selections: First Dude, Duke of Mischief, Tackleberry
Sunshine Millions Sprint (Santa Anita - Race 5 - Track Condition and Changes N/A):
Alright, enough with the chalk for now. COST OF FREEDOM is obviously the horse to beat at odds-on. The rejuvenated sprinter has won his last three races, including a monstrous track record-breaking 115 Beyer in the five-furlong Miles Tyson Stakes at Hollywood last time out. He hasn't raced on dirt since 2006, but he's won on the surface and, with an alert break, will be skipping along at the front of the back down the backstretch. The question is whether he'll be pressured enough for the closers to have a chance in the stretch. I'll gamble that he'll face some heat from DANCE WITH GABLE and AMAZOMBIE. That may make Cost of Freedom vulnerable, and give SMART ENOUGH, the Miles Tyson runner-up, a chance at redemption.
Smart Enough, thrice-claimed throughout his career, has turned into a reliable graded sprinter on turf and synthetics. Now, he'll have to prove his mettle on dirt. It's a big question, to be sure, but he'll be a nice price, and may benefit from today's extra furlong.
Selections: Smart Enough, Cost of Freedom, Asperity
Sunshine Millions Distaff (Santa Anita - Race 7 - Track Condition and Changes N/A):
EVENING JEWEL had a wonderful season at three, but she seemed to lose some of her zest for racing during the latter part of 2010. Although third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on grass and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on dirt, she just didn't show the same punch that propelled her to four graded wins earlier in the year.
Perhaps ALL DUE RESPECT can step up and take it to the favorite in this spot. A speed-crazy filly for the early part of her career, she showed a new dimension by rating off the pacesetter in her most recent start, a victory in an optional claimer over this surface. There's plenty of speed for her to stalk today, and she seems to be coming to hand nicely for the underrated Kathy Walsh.
Selections: All Due Respect, Briecat, Warren's Blossom
Quick and Dirty Picks:
Sunshine Millions Turf: Caracortado, Jeranimo, Soul Candy
John B. Connally: Stately Victor, Southern Anthem, Schramsberg
Manatee: Hyperlink, C C's Pal, Venado
You can also watch my video analysis of the major stakes races, along with drf.com Handicapper Mike Beer, at this link:
More importantly, who do you like this weekend? I want to know.
Best of luck,
Dan, Now that Zenyatta's first mate has been chosen, who would you choose to be the first mate for Goldikova (assuming she retires after winning her next Breeders' Cup Mile this fall)? I'm leaning towards a son of Danehill. Thanks! Uncle Steve, Excellent job!! You did forget to mention that Quinonez only wins on the downhill when I haven't picked him in a handicapping contest! BTW, what happened to one of my fav jocks from earlier this year, Johnny Gihua? I haven't seen his name on anything SoCal since HOL. I often mention the Rasmussen Factor ("RFer", Annie) in my handicapping. Lauren Stich gives yet another excellent explanation of the importance of superior female inbreeding in her article handicapping this weekend's Donn: http://www.gradeoneracing.com/stich.htm?read=99 BTW, check out who Lauren references in her article about Machen from Sunday: :-) http://www.gradeoneracing.com/stich.htm?read=98 Last night, I found an updated Reine List (?800+) courtesy of Ellen Parker's excellent website. This is the "Blue Hen" list I now use. The List now even includes Better Than Honour, the dam of Rags To Riches, Jazil, Casino Drive and Man Of Iron: http://www.reines-de-course.com/reine_list.htm Speaking of Better Than Honour, her now 4yo son by Giant's Causeway named Arco Felice just lost his 2nd start the past week, finishing 4th in the "Name a Race To Enhance Your Brand Maiden Stakes" (I couldn't make this up if I tried!) at 9f on the all weather track at Wolverhampton. He had finished last of 15 first out in a 9f turf maiden stakes at Sandown in September. Arco Felice is yet another example that horse breeding is an inexact science! Finally, there is a Kentucky Derby Fantasy Contest (a pick 10 Derby horse Fantasy League style contest) at gradeoneracing.com. Entries are due tonight: http://www.gradeoneracing.com/contest/kyfantasy.htm
Ziva and Onetrickpony Just wanted to give you some encouragement and wish OTP a speedy recovery. I had quadruple bypass surgery about 6 years ago and everything has been working great ever since. Dick W
SANTA ANITA JOCKEY ANALYSIS - PART 3 JIMENEZ, Alex (C) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 50% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 100% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Has shown up a couple of times, as far as I knew he was in the Midwestern circuit, not sure if he is just passing through or what. Regardless he is a very competent rider on dirt, don’t know about his turf ability. He could be an interesting add to the jockey farm. JOHN, Kerwin (C-) Dirt Sprints – 8% Win, 25% ITM (1-1-0) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 8% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Returned to Southern California last year and manages to bump along in the 4-8% range. Not exactly a turf monster, 0/5 so far this year, is 0/12 in dirt routes and generally wins 4-5 dirt sprints. Pretty much a low average journeyman trying to get mounts. Not horrible, but not great either. LINARES, Modesto (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 20% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 100% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Linares is another of the bench riders, he is primarily an exercise rider who will catch a dozen or so races every meet. He is competent in dirt sprints, gets an occasional dirt route, can’t remember the last time he rode on the turf. If he has a real horse in a dirt sprint, I would back him if the horse was superior. Let’s just say I have probably bet one of his mounts four times in the last decade… MALDONADO, Edwin (C) Dirt Sprints – 6% Win, 24% ITM (1-1-0) Dirt Routes – 7% Win, 39% ITM (1-0-0) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 33% Win, 33% ITM (1-0-0) An import from the Texas/Louisiana circuit, he first showed up at Hollywood in October of last year. A real hustler, he has 53 mounts so far this meet. He is pretty average across the board, but technically is very sound. I wouldn’t hesitate to bet him on a live mount. MARTIN, Gerardo (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) He is primarily a quarter horse rider over at Los Alamitos and makes a couple of trips over to SA a season. Is a decent QH jock, thoroughbreds? Not so much. MEDINA, Luis (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Medina has been around a couple of years now and has never moved off the bottom, clipping a half dozen winners a year in low level claiming races. Almost exclusively runs in dirt sprints with an occasional dirt route, 2-3 turf races and a whole lot of splinters from the bench. NAKATANI, Corey (B-) Dirt Sprints – 18% Win, 36% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 31% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 29% Win, 71% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 18% Win, 36% ITM (No Wins) Winless in dirt routes, but the leader in turf sprints – which is completely different from last meet, in fact every meet looks different... He has the talent, but rides his mounts in an “all or nothing” style which keeps his ITM figure lower than the top echelon. He really is a very good turf rider, and if you want aggressive, he’s your man. Has a reputation for being an extreme stronach, he has managed to burn a fair number of bridges with trainers. He is very streaky, he had no dirt sprint wins three weeks into the season but now has four. Jump him when he is hot. PEDROZA, Martin (B-) Dirt Sprints – 22% Win, 46% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 12% Win, 44% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 13% Win, 13% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 25% Win, 38% ITM (No Wins) The original blue collar rider, no flash, no glitz, just a hard riding journeyman who squeezes everything he can out of his mounts. He is a much better rider on dirt than synthetics, and has won the riding title at Pomona for a loooong time. Doesn’t normally have a lot of success on the lawn, but has already won a downhill and a couple of turf routes. He is coming back from a broken pelvis last year and is now hitting on all cylinders. He is an overachiever, which means you will rarely have reason to complain about his rides. PEREZ, Melvin (D-) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 10% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) A low level jockey who mainly rides in claiming level dirt sprints. He moved his tack from Monmouth at the beginning of this meet. Has no wins, a solitary ITM finish in a sprint and nothing else. Doesn’t make huge mistakes, but nothing brilliant either. I usually stay away from his mounts. PUGLISI, Ignacio (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 50% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Ahh, the Iggster, once upon a time he was a decent rider, had a very bad crash and has never been able to recapture those early days. He is still a competent rider and given a decent mount will do anything he can to bring it home – which many times is the problem, he is so busy trying to prove himself that he blows the ride. Is okay on turf, brings home an occasional moon shot, worth about 1-2 wins per meet. Mainly rides for David Hofman. I don’t avoid him like the plague, but I don’t go looking for him either. QUINONEZ, Alonso (B-) Dirt Sprints – 11% Win, 32% ITM (2-2-0) Dirt Routes – 17% Win, 33% ITM (0-4-0) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 20% ITM (No Wins) I have always liked this kid, and he continues to learn every meet. He will win his share of dirt sprints but has always been a better dirt route rider, and the stats say he is getting better. Turf, not so much, he is a running joke between me and Alan about when he will spring his annual downhill win at ridiculous odds. He is 0/8 on the hill and 0/10 in turf routes. He is an awesome play if you get him on a dark horse in a dirt route, and believe me he can hold his own against the big boys there. He hustles mounts and rides them like they are future stars, not much more you can ask for in a rider, as long as there is no green under the pony’s feet.
Continuing with the handicapping theme, as Mike A pointed out, Toone talks about what to do if everything looks the same before hand. What to do suggestions for after the race if you lose, comes from Psychology of Winning (1991)after the race: "Regression means to go back. Not just over the selection and wagering decisions, but to do a thorough analysis and re-evaluation of every race lost. Learn what patterns were displayed by the actual winner that you missed....Know precisely what you could have changed in your procedural analysis that could.... have put you on the winner. If you find nothing, accept the loss and move on"  Winner vs. Reality Myths from Psychology of Winning Myth: There is such a thing as a Universal Class structure. Reality: Only in Heaven Myth: Claiming levels are the same at every track Reality: Only those with identical purse structures. Myth: The fastest horse always wins because it crosses the finish line first, speed, not pace is the answer. Reality: Yes, when you handicap from the results charts. No when you use the past performances. Myth: There is such a thing as a Universal Par Chart. Reality: Not even in heaven. Myth: Any method that does not incorporate par times cannot succeed. Reality: Horses run against each other not par times.
Jonah, I like Quinn too. I would say this though . His lack of regard for consistency may have been right for the 80's ,but as he is fond of saying handicapping is dynamic. I think you'll find that the tables have turned and that there is value in consistency once again. Glad to hear you made a comeback from getting skinned. What you said about people with programs is correct from what I understand. Some people don't like competing opinions. They are the only one in the world that knows anything. Its the same old story. If they never did it than its BS. If they never heard it than its not true. If you don't have connections on the backside than you can't win, blah,blah, blah. They can't explain anything, its just a SPECIAL FEEL they have, blah, blah,blah. The day someone with a good understanding of percentages & figures can't take their money in the long run is never. When their horse is up the track its always got an excuse or if it takes it a doZen races to pop after they made mention of it they told you it was going to pop 8 months ago .Were you not listening. LOL. They've got a book thicker than War & Peace filled with horses to watch. Is it any wonder that they eventually find a spot ?
SANTA ANITA JOCKEY ANALYSIS - PART 4 ROSARIO, Joel (A-) Dirt Sprints – 25% Win, 57% ITM (6-6-4) Dirt Routes – 24% Win, 56% ITM (5-1-1) Turf Sprints – 5% Win, 42% ITM (0-0-1) Turf Routes – 8% Win, 58% ITM (0-1-1) The numbers tell the story of up and coming Joel Rosario – he has become deadly in main track races and still has much to learn on the grass. I think he will gain ground in his turf races the rest of the way, but he is not an “A” rider on turf, but he is trying. His steady increase in his ITM finishes on turf says that he is making up ground. I was touting him in 2006/7/8 until just about everyone was sick of hearing me say it. There is an awful lot to like with this young rider, he always has his horse well positioned, rarely gets caught up in traffic and rides all the way through the line (are you listening Desormeaux?). He is aggressive without being over the top, follows instructions and can use any riding style to win. I don’t see how he can be anything but one of the best riders in the country in the next couple of years. SANDOVAL, Daniel (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Sandoval is primarily a quarter horse rider at Los Alamitos, and like Guce and Martin, he rides a dozen races a year at SA. He may have won at SA, but it has been a long while. I have no experience with turf on him, and generally avoid him. SANGUINETTI, Anne (C) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 100% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 100% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Was riding at Suffolk Downs and Presque Isle last year and came out west last fall. Although she doesn’t have any wins yet, she has managed to hit the board with 3 of her 4 mounts. Need some more experience with her, but I like what I see. Has only one downhill run in her turf resume. Maybe someone from her previous home circuit can enlighten on her turf prowess. SANTIAGO-REYES, Christian (C+) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 25% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 25% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) He is a tough one to rate, he is aggressive to a fault, has more reckless driving tickets than the law allows (which would explain the three months in the penalty box), and can ride turf fairly well for a young rider. He can have a horse horribly out of position or in the catbird seat, each race is a new adventure. He will boot home some $100 winners, and you can’t discount him on turf. If he can settle down a bit, he could be a very good rider. His brother Victor (Santiago) rides in NY. SCOTT, Joy (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 29% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) She rides most of the time at Los Al and makes two dozen starts at the thoroughbred tracks. She is competent but uninspiring, gets some really raggedy horses to ride and has some turf experience. One of the better fill-in riders, but maybe 1 out of 20 mounts can actually run. SHINTON, Nicole* (D) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Nicole is a 22 year old apprentice from Southern California who has been exercising horses for the last year. She made her debut in October at Hollywood. She is 40-0-5-3 to date and has looked good at times and lost at times. This is a tough circuit for apprentices and more than a little chauvinist. Need more experience with her, but she is enthusiastic, and she has a much nicer butt than GoGo… SMITH, Mike (B) Dirt Sprints – 16% Win, 31% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 14% Win, 29% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 10% Win, 30% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 20% ITM (No Wins) The Hall of Famer is not what he once was; he has never been the same since a harrowing accident in 1998 that broke two vertebrae. Now much more cautious, he has cut his book down and rides a lot of upper division horses. He is still a very good rider, but without the tactical options of others (i.e., he won’t go low). An outstanding turf rider, he won the Irish 2000 Guineas aboard Fourstars Allstar and two BC wins with Lure. He does seem to do well with young fillies and skittish colts. He is slowly on his way down but still has the capability to stick it with a quality horse. SUTHERLAND, Chantal (C) Dirt Sprints – 0% Win, 29% ITM (No Wins) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) She is back for her winter meet at Santa Anita. Just when you think she is going to jump into the upper echelons of racing, she goes into a slump. I think she is a go to jockey for young horses and rides well across all surfaces and distances, but she just can’t seem to quite get the brass ring. I think she is the only woman to ever win a downhill race (could be wrong), and she will get down there and mix it up with the boys on the rail. Has brought in some serious bombers in her time in SoCal. Hard to figure out where she will succeed, but she does know what she is doing. TALAMO, Joe (B) Dirt Sprints – 11% Win, 49% ITM (3-1-2) Dirt Routes – 10% Win, 34% ITM (1-1-1) Turf Sprints – 24% Win, 43% ITM (1-2-2) Turf Routes – 20% Win, 50% ITM (3-0-1) The one thing you have to remember with young Mr. Talamo is that he turned 21 two weeks ago, and is still the youngest rider in SoCal (Nicole Shinton is about 6 months older). He can be breathtakingly brilliant one race and dumber than a door knob the next. Which is really okay when you are 21. He is fearless, enthusiastic, sometimes reckless, has great rapport with his mounts and is always happy. I think this is the year he breaks out. Think him breaking his wrist was actually a good thing for him – now he has to build up his book again and hustle. Astonishingly he rides any style, and uses whatever styloe will give him an advantage. He leads the downhill gang with 5 wins and 9 ITM finishes, a true feat for the youngest rider here. He is no slouch in turf routes and remember he was the rider on Nashoba’s Key at 18. I think if he continues to keep his attitude positive and continues to learn, he will be a top jock for a while to come. A ton of upside. VALENZUELA, Patrick (B+) Dirt Sprints – 16% Win, 35% ITM (7-2-0) Dirt Routes – 19% Win, 58% ITM (5-0-0) Turf Sprints – 16% Win, 47% ITM (1-1-1) Turf Routes – 10% Win, 30% ITM (2-0-0) Right next to the youngest is 49 year old PVal, and what a long strange trip it’s been. I remember him breaking in way back when and he was the most talented, cocky young rider you have ever seen. He also won the Santa Anita Derby at 17… Incredibly talented, a superb strategist, and the ability to ride anything, anywhere made him a super nova in the riding world. He has won more different divisions in the Breeders Cup than anyone else including the Classic, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Mile, Turf, Distaff and Sprint. Then came the drugs, and he managed to shave about six years off of his otherwise stellar career. He is not Mr. Warm and Fuzzy, he will drive you into the rail for sport, but he will get his horse to the wire first. If you don’t think he is one of the best in strategy and tactics, I invite you to watch a video of the 1989 Preakness where he trapped Easy Goer on the rail and made Pat Day look like an apprentice. I talked to him in his 20’s and he was a brash, hyper kid who bought into the fame and glory thing. Today he is really pretty sedate and comes across more like Yoda than Han Solo. How many jockeys that are about to turn 50 do you fear? He is right behind Lafit Pincay in his ability to steal one from the front. VERENZUELA, Jose (C-) Dirt Sprints – 8% Win, 31% ITM (0-1-0) Dirt Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Sprints – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Turf Routes – 0% Win, 0% ITM (No Wins) Another middle of the road rider who has limited success in dirt sprints and dirt routes, has ridden turf without a lot of success. Mainly rides low level claimers for low percentage barns. I would not be scared off of a bet because he is the rider.
Nice to see that the NHC champ quit his day job to make 8% . A guy that tells the truth is refreshing to hear. 8%. He visualiZes. Something I preached to my players .Seeing yourself knocking in the game winner or making a diving stop. Jim Thorpe was big on visualiZing. It keeps you calm and focused when the pressure is on. It makes it so you want the ball at winning time. Not hoping it gets hit to somebody else. Formulas are only good if you understand numbers and can do the MATH. If numbers befuddle you then you need to do it a different way. I'm sure there are other ways. I would never say that there are not. It makes me smile when someone thinks their way is the only way.
Call the search parties back to the barn, TBTA is in Chicagoland. PGM is absolutely correct, I have been preparing for our "epic" promised snowstorm. I was on one of the last flights in to O'Hare last night. The roads were already miserable, covered with snow with ice underneath. We saw several spin outs and bad accidents in our twenty minute drive home. One of my little doggies only weighs a couple of lbs and between the wind and the snow, I have to make sure he can make it safely outdoors for "business". A trip to the grocery store was in order too. Do guys ever cook when they are home alone? SR VEGAS tried to get me to stay and join the "more experienced" burlesque troupe at the Lawrence Welk resort, but duties in the heartland called. I really didn't disappear for the whole trip Annie. I was the transcriber of the "Chalky Chronicles". She is one fun weasel......I hope Alan put her in first class where she deserves to ride rather than in a cramped zip lock bag in his carryon. For anyone who has ever dreamed of going to the NHC, it is a blast. Next year they are expanding to 500 players.....sounds to me like even more opportunities to qualify. There was talk of making the pot $2 million too! Red Rocks Casino has a very large sports book and was pretty comfortable. It definitely caters to a local crowd, so lucky for us, we didn't have to deal with a drunk Snooki and any of her other buddies from the Jersey Shore. :) Along the same vein, SR and I ran into Hammered, I mean Hammerin' Hank as we were leaving the casino after the NHC banquet. The make up for tv helps..... a lot. Sunday morning was icing on the cake, breakfast with Lauren Stich, Alan and SR Vegas. Calvin and Laura would have been in heaven. The food was wonderful, but the company was even better. Next stop, the Wynn Sports Book. I was so busy thinking about Maachen, Alan's new crush, that I am embarrassed to report that I forgot to bet Dialed In in the Holy Bull. Bummer. I probably would have jinxed him anyway. As I typed this, Chicago just closed the airport with more than 1,000 flights cancelled.....It's heading your way east coasters, sorry. I have read a couple of Zito's comments on Dialed IN. Although I agree he can be somewhat hyperbolic, one thing I heard that really caught my attention was his desire to get a few races under DI's belt and that graded earnings were no longer a concern. I would not be surprised to see the horse show up in a properly written allowance race or an overnight stakes. I really agree with that tactic. Why gut the horse in the preps that others MUST use to get earnings? The horse has broken poorly or sluggishly in both his races and managed to win. Seeing that running line for Zenyatta makes no difference, we all know that was her style. With this young horse, it is hard to tell if he is like her naturally or if his break is a product of inexperience. I would want more than the FL Derby to find that out before the first Saturday in May. With the traffic issues and crowds, I would really want to know how he reacts by seeing him race more often. Why not make it a paid workout, if possible? Ron Z, I hope it was you who wanted to know if a horse feels different on dirt than turf. In my experience, yes! However, rarely, in fact, only once did I ride my horse on a racetrack that was about a 5/8th's mile unrestricted gallop. My horse reacted to it exactly how he did whenever we were on "show" footing. He was kind of lazy and heavy in my hands. I had to ask Payton to keep going. But, wow was he different on grass. We used to take our horses over to a park that had at least 10 soccer fields (off season, so no little darling would step in poop.). Then we would mark off an area that approximated the size of a dressage arena and work our horses. They were so bouncy and excited. I don't know if it was the open air or that the ground had a little roll to it, rather than being groomed flat, but Payton felt so much freer and forward in his movement. Then, to make life a little more varied for our horses, we used to take them out on cross country hacks. At one park, the trails had tan bark trails and dirt trails. Again, the horses liked the variety, but were not especially excited. But, when we took them to a several thousand acre grassy park, they were so excited. They galloped with energy and really didn't want to slow down. They liked the beach too, but the sand made them tire quickly. I've always thought the European training facilities and some of the US trainers like Michael Dickenson and others who use Fair Hill MD were on to something when it came to horse happiness. As for bobbles, at 40 mph, it stinks whether it is on turf or dirt. It is a recipe for an injury to either horse or rider, if they are unprepared, unfit or fatigued. Vicstu, I would be remiss if I didn't welcome you back!!! So good to hear from you. Hard Spun is at stud, a little bird told me that Musket Man retired and with Presious Passion on his way out, it looks like Big Drama and Runflatout are going to have to be your crush horses. :) "Lingerie sermon"- this captcha is kind of creepy.
VQ, Oh yeah, Four Lokos was an epidemic here and is now banned in NY. I'm proud to say I've never had one (I hate energy drinks), but everyone I live with swore by the stuff. Can't say I agree with the ban though, it's the people who abuse it that are the real culprits. The females you ask? No improvement to report. And I'm not just talking about physically, either. The girls here have a real knack for being offensive to all senses. However, I did meet my wonderful girlfriend here so it's not all gloom and doom. Idk about the insulated underwear, I just pile on the blankets at night and pray for the best.
Ron, My letter grades for the riders were all subjective based on my experience with them. Once you get to the C’s and D’s it becomes a little more problematic – you have to give them credit for some excellent rides while balancing that with the crummy horses they ride and their lack of experience on different surfaces and distances. In the case of Eulices Gomez, I put him in the “C” category because he doesn’t get a lot of good mounts, but makes the most of them when he does; I have no real history on Gomez in turf races, which is one of the reasons I left him as a “C”. Hard to raise him up to a B, but there are times he really is. Alex Gonzalez has shown glimmers of ability but still has a ways to go, and has very little turf history. In 2007 I put out my ratings and had Rosario as a C but noted that he would rule SoCal one day soon (he couldn’t ride turf to save his life. Now of course Rosario is an A, well except for the downhill… Neither Gonzalez or Gomez are the rider that Bejarano is, and if they switched mounts I think Bejarano would overachieve and they would not be up to his riding standards. Here’s kind of how I thought about this – let’s take Bejarano, I think he is one of the very best on any surface and at any distance; would I swap him out with Quinonez on any turf race? Absolutely not. Would I swap them out in a dirt route? I would feel more comfortable with Bejarano, but it wouldn’t push me away from the horse. Very tough to call those on their way up or down. I agree that Flores does better on turf… sometimes. I have a hard time rating him because he has burned me so many times. Kerwin John, like most of the low average jocks rides the front well, but he just doesn’t do anything for me one way or another. Alonso Quinonez… Yep, he can do some stuff that will make you throw things, but he is definitely on the improve and warrants serious consideration on dirt routes. I avoid him on turf. Pretty typical young rider, a lot like Talamo, who has ridden brilliantly and ridden like a total hambone. As a general note, I think the rider is more on the order of 35% of the equation, but that is my personal opinion. Consider the downhill – I would take a horse that Bejarano is riding over just about anything that Rosario is riding; I keep my bets on the hill to Bejarano, Talamo, Nakatani, Espinoza, and sometimes Gomez and Smith. Rosario is 1/19 this meet on the hill, and his last 4 meets have been close to that. He is riding it better, but he is not a plus in the saddle, especially when you figure his low odds. Gomez has gone low percentage on the hill for a while, but is always capable (he is trying to make a liar out of me this year). Again, like Rosario, the odds make it an easier call. I do these jockey analyses every year, mainly to acquaint people outside the circuit with the SoCal riders. They are my opinions, and that doesn’t make it right, it is simply my perception of their rides. Mike A, I think you are probably right, but I would really not like to see another attempt at a turf route from PP – the horse deserves better. It is probably time for him to get a gold watch and a trip to Old Friends, but if they are going to run him, the downhill is about the only place he can excel.