04/24/2014 5:04PM

A "Tricky" Elkhorn


The Grade 3 Elkhorn Stakes on closing afternoon at Keeneland is a fantastic betting affair. It's a full field of well-matched horses and that's just about everything a horseplayer can ask for in a race.

There doesn't appear to be a ton of pace in this 12-furlong turf heat and the lack of speed could hinder the true late-running types. TATTENHAM (#8, 12-1 ML) may end up the main speed under Joel Rosario. He beat a decent sort in Draw Two (4th in 2013 Virginia Derby, returned to win an 'n2x' at Keeneland with a 93 Beyer on 4/17) last time when on the pace, and it's possible that trainer Bill Mott has figured out his colt's preferred running style. Still, I'm not sure if he's good enough to take these down.

AMEN KITTEN (#11, 8-1 ML) is a vastly-improved 4-year-old for trainer Wesley Ward. Third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in his 2013 finale, Amen Kitten rallied decently to finish second to the good 11-12 furlong horse Twilight Eclipse in the Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream on February 15. He made a 3-4 wide bid on the final turn and, overall, it was a solid performance. He is a one-run closer, however. If there is no pace for him to attack, he is really at the mercy of racing luck.

Old SUNTRACER (#6, 12-1 ML) hasn't won a race since 2012 and I was very disappointed in his non-effort in the Grade 2 Pan American on March 29. It's possible this 30-start veteran doesn't have much juice left in the tank, but he likes this turf course and has the back class to contend.

I landed on TRICKY HAT (#10, 8-1 ML), a consistent gelding that hasn't been off the board in his last six races. Tricky Hat, like many Shug McGaughey-trained horses, has improved with maturity, turf, and extra distance. In his most recent start, a salty allowance on April 5, Tricky Hat ended up on the lead by default, and I'm not sure that's his preferred style. He made the slow pace up front and battled hard all the way to the wire, only to fall short to millionaire Boisterous. It was a good try for his first start since mid-October and he could chase a target in Tattenham this time around.

I'd love to get 8-1 on Tricky Hat, but that might be a pipedream. I would grudgingly accept 5-1 odds and play him to win. In exotics, I'd box him with Amen Kitten and Suntracer, and pray. I will probably not play multiple-race wagers through the Elkhorn as I truly believe they all can win, and I'm not a fan of the ALL button.

More importantly, who do you like in Friday's Elkhorn?  I want to know.


Let's take a look at some interesting Formulator Facts for Keeneland's Friday card:

Race 1:

#6 BANKSY (7-2 ML), #8 LAMONTAGNE (3-1 ML)
Trainer:  Wesley Ward
Past 5 Years, Synthetic Sprint, 2yo FTS, Maiden Special Weight, Keeneland:  9-19 (47%, $3.11 ROI, ROI doesn't count $8.60 winner from two starters on Thursday)

Race 2:

Trainer:  Kenneth McPeek
Past 5 Years, Synthetic Routes, 3yo and up, Maiden Claiming, Keeneland:  10-31 (32%$, $2.55 ROI)

Race 3:

Trainer:  Chad Brown
Past 2 Years, Turf-Synthetic sprints:  4-6 (67%, $5.23 ROI)

Race 4:

Trainer:  Mark Casse
Past 1 Year, Synthetic, Route-Sprint, Claiming:   6-13 (62%, $2.91 ROI)

Trainer:  Wesley Ward
Past 5 Years, Turf-Synthetic Sprints, Claiming:   14-38 (37%, $2.81 ROI)

Race 5:

Exits key race (5th-, 8th-finishers returned to win optional-claiming turf sprints with 91 Beyers)

Race 6:

Trainer:  Tevis McCauley
Past 5 Years, Turf-Synthetic Sprints:   4-17 (24%, $4.51 ROI)

Trainer:  Wesley Ward
Past 3 Years, 3yo, Synthetic Sprint, Keeneland, 2nd After Layoff:   3-11 (27%, $2.65 ROI)

Race 7:

#1 MIZ LEE (7-2 ML)
Exits key race (4th-, 8th-finishers returned to win MSW's with 70, 72 Beyers)

#12 TAYLOR LANE (6-1 ML)
Exits key race (6th-, 8th-finishers returned to win MSW and MCL with 77 and 66 Beyers)

Race 9:

#10 TRICKY HAT (8-1 ML)
Trainer:  Claude McGaughey III
Past 2 Years, Turf Route, 2nd After Layoff, Graded Stakes:  6-19 (32%, $2.69 ROI)

Race 10:

Trainer;  Michael Tomlinson
Past 5 Years, Synthetic Routes, Maiden Claiming:   4-12 (33%, $3.78 ROI)


Just read the above column "Hail Mary Claim".
I have been around SoCal racing since the 70's. There is no way that the track record at Del Mar is 1:11.06 for 6 furlongs, dirt nor poly. That might be the slowest any winner has run 6 furlongs! A bit fast for 6-1/2 too, even in So Cal.
Euro Ears has the track record for 6F at 1:08.17
In Summation was one fast racehorse as you say.

If you recall, the six-furlong times for the initial polytrack meeting in 2007 were extremely slow. In Summation broke the track record with his 1:11.06 clocking, lowering Barbecue Eddie's 1:11.56 mark set eight days prior. That number lasted all throughout the 2007 meeting and was broken on Opening Day 2008 by Unusual Heather (1:10.37).


*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.







You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

All of the weekend stakes videos should be available at the following link by Friday afternoon.



Congrats to Joe L for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

Rick M's 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.

Joe L. picked Saturday's first race at Churchill Downs 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 "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card 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!





Copy of Formblog Lexington 4-19-14.xls72 KB
HGCD1.pdf155.64 KB
drserv More than 1 year ago
HG drserv Maybe Lily doesn't have too much to recommend, but Corie Lanerie does ride CD better than anyone at the moment, so I'll use him with the three logical horses all of whom have some holes in their form. I'll also use him for less money with the less than logical ones. $2 Tri Box 2-3-6-7 $1 Super Box 2-3-6-7 $.30 Super Box 3-1-5-2 $.30 Super Box 3-1-5-6 $.50 Super Box 3-1-5-7 $1 Tri 3-2-7 drserv
Ed Kay More than 1 year ago
HG CD race #1 After scratches, race is even less interesting than it was before. But here's a revised potshot. HG wager: $50 exacta 1 with 2/6 Thanks, Ed Kay
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes - First off , I'm not the kind of person that would mock God . Secondarily, I wasn't mocking the horse . He was a good horse . Wikipedia doesn't tell the tale . They go from -- he was a crummy grass sprinter -- to-- after passing from trainer to trainer-- to -- 5 or 6 years later he won the Grand National . That horse spent part of his life * from trainer to trainer * pulling carts . I think you missed the main point which was that horses are not bred to be synthetic horses. Breeders don't breed horses with synthetic in mind and anybody that says they do is nuts . The horses we play can be traced back 20-25 generations . Any individual would be lucky to have more than one or two ancestors that ever set foot on synthetic. Next thing I'll be hearing is NYPD horses are bred for concrete :) JJ
MIKE MOBLEY More than 1 year ago
HG (2) class of field -beyers @dist,(3) drops in class,(6)class drop-cut back dist,(7) on the gun-can last for a part $16 tri key 2/367 ($96) $1 sf 2/3/67/67 ($2) $1 sf 2/6/37/37 ($2)
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Good bye to KEE poly. Once hair is pulled or falls out from prolonged synthetic betting syndrome (PSBS) does it re grow once a dirt track is installed? If not, anybody have Cy Sperling's phone number?
Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
VS Whether intentional or not, I think you just mocked soccer, er...I mean football, by calling it soccer.
nancyb More than 1 year ago
re Elkhorn: I like Old Time Hockey who seems to really thrive at distances and Forte de Marmi who is a little eccentric at age 8, but who has won at the distance and teams with Graham who occasionally gives 'em the slip on the front end.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Mocking gods? Egads. Let's put a stop to this toot-sweet lest it spread. Next thing you know, people will be mocking soccer... vs
Jim More than 1 year ago
HGCD1: Tough heat to dope out. Eliminations from top spot include: 1-Indygo Star from low percentage connections with slow works. Trainer 0-21 with firsters. 2-Steel Cut drops from MSW, but has a trainer who is 3 wins from 52 starts. Could surprise. 3-Maybe Lily is maybe too slow to win this and trainer is 2 for 25. None of the others are likely for Breeders Cup races, but all have a shot to win I’ll take a flyer on 6-Little Gidding for good connections. She has yet to run on dirt, drops from Md Sp Wt and is well bred. Looking for a “stalk and pounce” type trip to win this. HGCD1 Wager: $25 Exactas: 6 over 4 and 5 $50 Exacta: 6 over 7 JIMPEREGOY
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
HG CD 1st on 4-26 Ripping a clip from Steve T, aka Az Wildcat, this is a simple race. The key is the condition, which says 3 years old and up. There are two 4-year-old fillies here. Both should easily win a strength and fitness contests over these juveniles. But the race may not go according to this well-intended data simply because one has a Beyer of 25 and the other 18. Now, say they improve in that department and run somewhere in the 40s or 50s, a vast improvement indeed. But enough to actually win? Perhaps the other six fillies, like human teens, will not show proper respect for their elders and try to go out and outrun them. Indygo Star could have the rest of this field singing Blues as a real longshot winner, making her debut on the rail in what could pass as a good pace. I hesitate to use the word "fast" in regard to any of these.Somehow, the jockey-trainer amassed an ROI of box-car proportions ($27.30). The star has been working steadily, if not impressively, for months. Her grandparents, AP Indy and Unbridled's Song could influence her. Steel Cut may feel his oats and romp by many lengths, if one can believe the huge discrepancy in Beyer figures that she commands. Nuff said. Maybe Lily apparently her purpose onceher debut was run and she finished a promising second. Since, she has not finished within a furlong of the winners. Hopeless case. Little Gidding has finished a total of 20 lengths in arrears in her two trys in MSW races but running with higher class animals does not instantly elevate her in that respect. She has a gaudy 50 BSF in her debut, albeit a finish 12 lengths off the winner. Nspeightof vickie has a solid workout on this track on 4-19. She may be ready to set a good pace but likely will tire from the effort. Her breeding screams good but can she keep up the family tradition? She has a 2nd and 3rd finish with BSF of identical 43. Is this her limit? Distinct Diva Two less than interesting spins in MSW company. See above for why this doesn't make her an instant winner. Tough to figure a bet. Here goes: $16 Tri box 2-4-5 for $96. $4 for W on 1 STUCKINARIZONA