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
Lenny More than 1 year ago
The Haskell.........I think the pressure on Shackleford, will come from Coil...Which Baffert said correctly..("This is a class test).. """ He really liked his last work""" I feel Shackleford is a quitter, and if i am right this sets the race up for the Lunatic.. Ruler on Ice who is just learning what he is all about....
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Well, a nice hit on Raise a Decision...tasty payoff indeed for the Win/Place wager, and the quinella returned just shy of $40 for $2. Makes me feel better after pulloing a "zero" out of the HG Wednesday. By the way, 10c......looking back I see you thought my corrected wager was over budget. I was actually $15 underbudge with that origional $5 Quinella 3 horse boxe quinella, and the correct $10 Quinella wager shold have cost me just $30.....so with the $18 tri and the $12 super box that would have been $60 to go with my $40 bucks in straight wagers. Have I got that right. I do see that Sadler has another recent acquisition to his barn with excellent July works entered in the Couger II today at Delmar, a similar look that his Calimanco, winner of the HG small stakes event. Could the man strike twice?
swede More than 1 year ago
HG244: Would like to play a $4.00 super key key #4 over #1 #3 #5 #9=$96.00. Also a $4.00 EX #4/#9=$4.00 TOTAL $100.00. Thank you and good luck to all. SWEDE
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
HG 244: 10c alert...........corrected wager! I may be out of practice, but I didn't really botch my wager that badly. Origionally planning on a boxed exacta, I remembered Del Mar has a Quinella, and changed the bet, but forgot to adjust my wager amount. Corrected: $25 Win: #2 $ 5 W/P/S: #9.............................straight wagers total is $40 $10 Quinella Box: #2,#4,#9 $ 3 Tri Key #2,#9/#4/#1.#2,#6,#9 $10c Super Box: #1,#2,#4,#6,#9......exotic wagers total is $60 Analysis remains the same. Keith L.
vicstu More than 1 year ago
One more thing: Jackson Bend came pretty close to breaking a track record a the Spa that has stood since 1978. And, despite being in 4th place and pretty close up on the rail by the second call despite a torrid pace, JB still ran the final furlong in 12 2/5 seconds. The track record at Saratoga is held by Darby Creek Road, who ran seven furlongs in 1:20.40 on Aug. 8 1978 while carrying 113 pounds. Jackson Bend toted 121 pounds on Friday. Give JB 113 at his size and you may have been looking at the new track record for 7f. They are pointing towards the BC Dirt Mile and may prep at the Forego. Both distances suit this horse just fine. Oh, and by the way, Zito said he has a lot of heart and guts and is classy. Zito was just amazed (isn't he always?) Gotta love Nick Zito. The horse, jock and trainer all deserved the win. And the 108 BSF.
vicstu More than 1 year ago
I have been taking time off after the T/C like many of the horses. Except my time has been filled with Bar Preps (law)... A special thanks to Calvin and TBTA for keeping in touch via email and keeping me up to date on racing as well as some nice Hard Spun progeny. If Uncle Mo and The Factor meet in the Kings Bishop, and both are firing, that will be one hell of a race. Rumor has it that Flashpoint may show up as well. He is one heck of a sprinter. This could be a great Kings Bishop. Those are three very classy and extremely fast horses. The 7f is ideal for FP and both Mo and TF will be best at this distance coming off a layoff. That is always a tough grade 1. The Haskell could be interesting, and Shack and POF are clearly at their ideal distance in this race...although Ruler on Ice could benefit if some more speed shows up. We shall see. Glad to see Jackson Bend is back on the winning track. Is there any doubt his was a miler and his best distances lie between 7 and 9 furlongs? That makes his Preakness finish that much more impressive to me. I will slowly ramp my way back up to posting more, but I do have the actual Bar coming up in October, so it will be touch and go. Missed everyone and I do love this game. Dan, you still run the best Blog around for discussions...I am a middle aged dude and I want to get this law thing right as I do not know how many times I can afford to put my life on hold, pay the fees, and take the exams (so...I am trying to get it right the first time). Does anyone know for sure when Artest ( a nice 2 yo) and Big Drama are running again? Rumor gas it BD is pointing to the BC Sprint again, but c'mom...he needs a prep even though he has shown he can dominate after a layoff.
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
vicsu welcome back you were missed and good luck on the exams Ill be calling on your services maybe mh01
Lenny More than 1 year ago
Haskell,....... I think Coil will push Shackleford early and once a quitter always a quitter, (like Baffert said "this is Coils class test") If I am correct, this sets it up for Ruler On Ice,......... A mean contankerous animal thats just learning what he is all about.. the 1/8 mile race should be just enough distance for him...
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Calvin, Unfortunately it looked like Red Duke lost a better placing by being bottled up in traffic. Did you catch Frankel a couple of races later? OMG, he ran away from Canford Cliffs like he was a cheap claimer. Frankel was breathtaking. I had goosebumps from that stretch run. Keith L, It is great to have you back!
Stafford More than 1 year ago
Dan: Love the blog and the forum here at HG. Super-stoked that DMR is the race this week, and a good one at that. Not sure that 2 for 5 makes BChagall a 'horse for course' here, and he just wins too inconsistently for me. The Mullins horse looks scary, as does Calimonco for the Sadler barn. Who works in 1:11 at DMR? I've settled on ALion since I've always thought he had great class, and suspect that the mile on turf is going to really suit him. The 7F prep on synth was perfect, and Harty seems to have him cranked up for this. Plus, we'll get some value. HG 244: $50 Win #9 $50 Place #9
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Del Mar – 7/27/11 This is a pretty good card today, and I’ll try my hand at a few rolling Doubles and Pick 3’s. No Pick 6 for me, but if it carries into Thursday… Race #4 – ATTAR OF ROSE (#7) has the necessary closing style for this race and Jockey Gomez is riding smartly on the turf of late. SAMBA SCHOOL (#3) is capable of producing a stalking/pressing trip and may actually get first run on the leaders through the final turn. Race #5 – TE RAPA (#8) is back to his proper class level and should improve in his second start off the layoff. COAL REGION KID (#7) has the tactical speed and class to contend with these. VOLACIOUS (#4) has the necessary two-turn experience and may improve in this race. Race #6 – PEDALTOTHEMETAL (#2) owns a win over this strip, is working well, and should find the conditions more to her liking. RUMOR (#6) is a solid contender in here for strong connections, is working well and coming off of a very nice win last time out. Race#7 – This is a really good race and there are many contenders, I believe. The key is figuring out which contender is going to run the race in about 1:34 1/5. BLUE CHAGALL (#1) has the necessary closing kick, connections and class to get it done here. GALLANT SON (#4) is another that can hit this time and has the class as well. VICTORY PETE (#5) is working nicely and has the ability as does QUINDICI MAN (#10)…even off the layoff. Good luck to those playing today. It should be interesting at the very least.
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
Del Mar Track 7-27-11 that has a ring to it no R1 #5 Wise Guise the speed #4 Grumpy Small Mouth I have caught these quite often the one to beat #2 Inquisitive Son will be closing late R2 #1 Sing Sing Cindrela didnt care for the slop in last was reluctant to run may run for mitchell he has a knack been working out here since 6-18 so should be aclimated to the weather she is way below her obvious class here #4 Berry Valid another shipper that didnt fair well first start here although ambitiously placed now back to reality ran for cheap at FGs do like her record of hitting the board dallas gets 39% second off so must use her today Stra at a price? #5 Shawklit Sundae forcefull pedroza takes the reins on this speed freak runner and the added weight in last took its toll on her today sheds those speed stopper lbs and should get big lead early on is 12 for 21 at this distance catch her if you can R3 #3 Toree Italiana gets needed grade drop today #6 Sweet Pleasure FTS trainer gets 25% with these #8 Judys My Angel speed type gets speed jockey in flores R4 #5 Gumption back to grass where she won with bejarano three down and he stays today for the ride he fits this one well and sheds 4 lbs today I like her chances here #1 El Nadia (NZ) any one of last three will be competitive with these today all her exacta finishes have been on turf and rosario knows her well this mare is the one to beat here #7 Attar of Rose lightly raced six year old has a win over this surface back last year and was coming late last one is a late running closer and thats what has been winning at dmr quininez off and gomez up is definately going to be tough in this race a win and place play here R5 #7 Coal Region Kid gomez off couldnt get this one to win in three starts today is his best chance to graduate with this group being the weakest he has faced #9 Shift Four out on a limb with this one but hear me out the change in jockey from stra to maldonato who gets them to run early is huge angle and his first race was pretty good and today stretches out for peter has a big chance today #8 Te Rapa here is the speed along with the shipper took the 30000 platers to the wire and tired late so think talamo will try the same aproach today R6 #3 Tales in Excess back to the future with this filly has ben working ok for return and has a win over track a big plus must consider a win candidate based off record trainer wins one out of five coming back so tred lightly here #6 Rumor a filly that likes to run no dought had a freshener and is working hard for comebacker bejarano will have this one in contention from the bell a more than likely exacta use today #2 Pedaltothemedal two tough races last today comes back to a race where she is competitive will pressure rumor from start to finish this race being speed laden so five fillys going for the front with this one saving some finish for the stretch a win candidate with these speed types for sure R8 #12 Be Driven #1 Mona Storm #3 Bonita Montana good luck all mh01
mpm101 More than 1 year ago
mho1 Appreciate seeing your choices today and note that we agree on a few. However am stumped on your picks for the 8th race. What day are they racing these horses,lol. mpm101
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
mpm101 thanks for checking out my picks I guess I had a senior moment in the posting of the 8th race I posted the 8th of the day before I did print a retraction to that effect after I realized the error mh01
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
in my last post I gave out the 8th race for the 24th card disregard that race here is the 8th race for todays card 7-27-11 R8 #2 Jessakar takes biggest drop in racing today #5 Lady Aragorn Walch is 32% with FTSs #10 Bold Remark with bejarano up and the drop in class this one will be contender today good luck all mh01
Anderson More than 1 year ago
HG 244 #1 Blue Chagall (FR) - took a few of these down last year at 11-1 odds brings better form and is M/L fave. #2 Ace of Aces (IRE) has speed on the inside and ran very well off a similar layoff. #3 John Johny Jak goes 1stW/ for Ms Mulhall which is a good stat. #4 Gallant Son (last years race favorite) shows late run and has been sprinting mainly. #5 Victory Pete can apply pace pressure. #6 Calimonco is hard to gauge but 6-1 seems an underlay. #7 Unbridled's Heart can improve and get a placing. #8 Buenos Dias (IRE) is prepping for some other race? #9 American Lion may surprise and sports a 402 Tomlinson rating (dstT). #10 Quindici Man has plenty of ability but not at this trip. HG wager: $9 ex 2 with 1,4,5 $3 tri box 1,2,4,5
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
HG 244 #1 Blue Chagall(FR) this one changes jockeys like I change underwear back to gomez today for canani who has rode him to a gr.2 placing looks to be a contender at a mile gomez will keep him close to the pace for best run #2 Ace of Aces (IRE) likes it out front and should get the lead here today looks to be short after layoff has won off layoff before so condition is a question here will give his best on the lead #4 Gallent Son if mikey is up for this one he will win for fun last out was awesome after a 90 day rest came back running and gets the nod at the wire was third last year in this race against Blue Chagall so think the last race was a tuneup for this today a must use #5 Victory Pete cutting back to mile after two runs longer with gr. horses and back to grass today should have this one ready for best effort this year can you say bejarano anyone? #10 Quindici Man 60% in the money is enough to include this one in your ticket today been off since april after a tough campaign against gr. horses should like the softer race today hasnt won since october so think a lower placing for him today is in the equation the bet $2 tri key #4 with 1,2,5,10= $96 $4 exacta 5-2=$4 total $100 of dans hard earned money good luck all mh01
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
HG 244 Wickerr Stakes Take the rail horse and look for the closers to pick up the pieces. $50 ex #1 // #3,#5 = $100 Good Luck!!! Whackymacky Out!!!
Tom P. More than 1 year ago
I told myself that I would try to be more realistic with my bets. More along the lines of what I'd actually reach into my wallet and wager (if I could spare $100). Last week, I collected 19 to 20 on the favorite in real life and missed the easy Trifecta in HG. There's something to this competition that is productive (in making you look deeper into each reach for something you may have missed by just trying to pick a winner). However, there's something a little counterproductive in maybe altering your bet just that little bit to make it worth more if it hits. Alas! You have to overcome that if you're going to get any better as a handicapper, and that's why this HG idea is very, very cool. -- This race, however, is a bit of a stumper. They are just so.. competitive. I'll reach into the bag of exotics and try to work something out. I'll play: HG 244: $25 Trifecta 1/4-6/4-6-10 -- Good luck, all! -Tom P.
Mr. Chubby More than 1 year ago
HG 244 $40 ex 4/ 1 $30 ex 4/ 3,6 This race figures to have a lively pace up front, even if Monterey Jazz fails to draw in. So I'll dismiss the confirmed front runners. In the end I settled on #4 Gallant Son who figures to get a nice trip from 5-6 lengths off of it. Underneath I'll use: the #1 clear class #3 Calder shippers can be sneaky coming to So Cal, and this one gets Rosario #6 Gotta love that last race Beyer of 4 ... or maybe the way he's trained since that last disaster Good luck all!!!