07/25/2011 7:18PM

The "They" Factor


The whispers were deafening.

Each year, at the historic Saratoga boutique meet, the "fastest 2-year-old in the world" makes his career debut. 

How do we know he's the next coming of Secretariat? 

Because "they" said so.

Saratoga is remarkable not only for its unique ambience and high-quality stakes offerings.  Many of tomorrow's stars launch themselves into the stratusphere from maiden special weight gatherings at the Spa. 

It doesn't matter if your late-night watering hole is Siro's, or The Wishing Well, or the Bennigans at the mall.  If you walk into any racing fan, you're more than likely to receive a tip. 

"They" like so-and-so.

Last Saturday, "they" loved How Do I Win, a Todd Pletcher-trained ridgling that had just worked from the gate in fifty-eight and change.  Supposedly, he was more advanced at this stage of his career than Overdriven, the Pletcher maiden that earned a 100 Beyer in his debut at Belmont and was the odds-on favorite for Monday's Grade 2 Sanford Stakes (he would win).  By Corinthian, How Do I Win opened up at 3-5 at settled in at 95 cents to the dollar at post time.  He chased a quick pacesetter, the $625,000 purchase Whinston, before giving way in upper stretch.  How do I Win finished third.  He received a 58 Beyer. 

This time, "they" were wrong.

I was one of the few that didn't believe in How Do I Win, but don't worry.  This isn't a tale of red-boarding.  I keyed Whinston on top of second-time starter Laurie's Rocket and debut runner Covert Ops.  Whinston held gamely after setting fast splits, but he got very tired in the final sixteenth and couldn't overcome Laurie's Rocket's late run. 

I was wrong, too.


Want to talk about fast babies?  How about SECRET CIRCLE, a fast son of Eddington that rolled to a 7 1/2-length win in his career debut over the Del Mar polytrack.  A $17,000 RNA as a yearling, Secret Circle sold for $165,000 earlier this season and was never headed in the 5 1/2-furlong dash.  Secret Circle is trained by Bob Baffert and is a son of Ragtime Hope, a versatile mare that won stakes at five furlongs on the dirt and 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

At Saratoga, Pletcher's Overdriven won the Sanford, as expected, but second-time starter R KING OF THE ROAD turned some heads with a 93-Beyer score in a six-furlong maiden special weight.  A homebred by Trippi, R King of the Road looks like a good sprinter in the making. 


The fillies stole the show once again!  IT'S TRICKY and PLUM PRETTY threw it down for the final 2 1/2 furlongs of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks.  Plum Pretty withstood It's Tricky's first thrust, but the Godolphin mare came at the Kentucky Oaks winner time and again.  It's Tricky finally wore down her extremely stubborn foe in the final yards.


Good for JACKSON BEND!  The diminutive colt, winless since 2009, shot through an opening on the rail to take a classy renewal of the James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga.  Jackson Bend received a whopping 108 Beyer Speed Figure, but he did receive a nice trip and is likely to face tougher next time out. I'm expecting his trainer, Nick Zito, to have an excellent Saratoga summer after struggling somewhat during the Belmont spring meeting.

Good for MATTO MONDO!  The oft-injured gelding was a multiple Group 1 winner in Chile before being imported to the United States in 2007.  After undergoing surgery to remove bone chips, Matto Mondo won the Grade 3 Thunder Road Handicap over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.  In his following start, he finished a close third as the betting favorite in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.  Away for almost two years due to a torn tendon, Matto Mondo returned earlier this year as a gelding.  Dropped into the claiming ranks for the first time, Matto Mondo won a $40,000 claimer last week at Del Mar. 


There may not be a more underrated horse in training than NOOSA BEACH.  The five-year-old gelding, based in the Pacific Northwest with trainer Doris Harwood, won his seventh straight race in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at Emerald Downs.  A winner in 10 of his last 11 starts (14-20 overall), Noosa Beach is expected to defend his title in the Longacres Mile. 


Pigeon-hole ACCLAMATION no more!  He's more than a long-distance turfer that needs Hollywood Park for his best.  Acclamation, aided by the late scratch of a quick mare, Celtic Princess, found himself on the lead of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes going nine furlongs over the Del Mar sod and scooted home ahead of some good ones.  Acclamation has now won three graded races in a row for trainer Donald Warren and must be considered one of the better turf runners in the country.


MAMBO MEISTER only beat three rivals as the odds-on favorite of the $55,000 Primal Stakes at Calder, but he beat them like they tried to steal his feed tub.  Mambo Meister received a 110 Beyer.  The Calder-loving veteran may be pointed to races like the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs.


Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (7/18 - 7/24):

1.  MAMBO MEISTER - 110 - Primal Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder
2.  JACKSON BEND - 108 - James Marvin Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Saratoga
3.  ACCLAMATION - 105 - Eddie Read Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Hollywood
4.  HOLLYWOOD HIT - 102 - Bold Venture Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
5.  MAGIC BROOMSTICK - 99 - Alw 77386NC - 1 Mile (Turf) - Woodbine
6.  SADDLERANCH - 98 - Alw 53000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Saratoga
6.  WINDWARD ISLANDS - 98 - Nijinsky Stakes (G2-C) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Woodbine
8.  FREE FIGHTER - 97 - Stars and Stripes Stakes - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
8.  GOOD GENERAL - 97 - OC c-25k/N2X - 1 Mile - Penn National
8.  IT'S TRICKY - 97 - Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Saratoga
8.  MARCH TWELTH - 97 - OC 20k/N2X - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Canterbury
8.  SECRET CIRCLE - 97 - Md Sp Wt 64k - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
13. ORIENTATIOUS - 95 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Del Mar
14. NOOSA BEACH - 93 - Mt. Rainier Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles - Emerald
14. NORVSKY - 93 - California Dreamin' Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
14. OVERDRIVEN - 93 - Sanford Stakes (G2) - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
14. R KING OF THE ROAD - 93 - Md Sp Wt 56k - 6 Furlongs - Saratoga
18. CLOUD MAN - 92 - OC 80k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Del Mar
18. JIMMY SIMMS - 92 - OC 50k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
18. MATTO MONDO (Chi) - 92 - Clm 40000(40-35) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
18. SPORTY - 92 - OC 50k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Ellis
18. STRIDING AHEAD - 92 - Alw 27300N1X - 1 Mile - Ellis
18. WILBY'S RAY - 92 - Clm 5000N2Y - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Louisiana
18. WORLDLY - 92 - Prairie Meadows Handicap - 1 1/4 Miles - Prairie Meadows
25. CAPT. BULLET BOB - 91 - OC 18k/N1X -N - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Arlington
25. CHOSEN EMPIRE - 91 - Clm 25000B - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Saratoga
25. MR. COMMONS - 91 - Oceanside Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Del Mar
25. SWEET REPENT - 91 - Nancys Glitter Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles - Calder

Mambo Meister's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Is there any chance you could ask the database boys to run a query on any SoCal runner with the "waiver claiming" tag - specifically the run under the "-W" and the run right after. I am seeing a ton of these coming through and there just might be something there.
Steve T.

Uncle Steve, I just got to your post.  I'll make the request to our IT guys and will let you know what I find out.


Dan or anyone,
What is the $1 Place Pick All bet in the first at Del Mar? I'm not familiar with the bet (although I expect it's perfectly simple, LOL).

I pulled this off the Del Mar website. Hope it helps !
"PLACE PICK ALL - You win a major payoff if you pick the winners or second-place finishers of the entire card (8, 9 or 10 races). If no ticket contains the winning combination for all races, the payoff will go to the ticket with the highest number of correct selections. Minimum bet is $1.00"
SR Vegas


"Like Zenyatta, she employs an exciting come-from-behind style that thrills her fans and gives her backers some anxious moments. Besides her obvious talent, Blind Luck's class and courage are what separates her from the rest. She, seemingly, refuses to yield when in a dogfight."
That pretty much says it all about Blind Luck, she most resembles the queen, you can almost see it when you watch her chase em down, she just never quits and no matter who she's up against I always get the feeling she can catch them and take them right down to the wire. They should consider her for the BC Classic against the boys, she has as good a chance as any and runs very well in Kentucky besides everywhere else she's been on her 18 month tour of the country. I would love to hear your thoughts on where she should be come breeders cup time. Also, fantastic handicapping the past few weeks. I think we are all looking forward to your selections for this weekend.
Best of luck to all - Ddub

Thanks for the kind words.  I have a great deal of confidence in Blind Luck.  The logical next spot for her would be a possible rematch with Havre de Grace in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga.  I think that she would give a good account of herself if she opted to face males in the Woodward.  It's a bit early to think about the Breeders' Cup, but the handicap division has been unstable all year.  If a filly is going to challenge the big boys, perhaps this is the year.


Congrats to Alfredo for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  The next race will be Wednesday's Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar.

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but 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. I'm 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.
Best of luck to all

Mambo Meister.PDF67.6 KB
HG244.pdf198.99 KB