05/20/2015 4:02PM

Triple Crown winner gathering steam...in California!


The discussion regarding AMERICAN PHAROAH's Belmont Stakes chances is at a fever pitch, but there's already a Triple Crown winner making serious noise in Southern California. He's one to watch on turf for the remainder of the year.

BAL A BALI won 11 of 12 starts in Brazil in 2013 and 2014, including the 2014 Triple Crown. He was supposed to join trainer Dick Mandella's barn last summer for a possible bid at the Breeders' Cup Turf, but suffered a bout with laminitis after arriving in the United States for his quarantine period.

Bal a Bali was knocked out for the remainder of 2014, but returned with a vengeance, winning the Grade 3, $100,000 American Stakes in fine style at Santa Anita on May 9.

Ridden by Flavien Prat for his first start in almost 11 months, Bal a Bali tracked the pace set by WAR ACADEMY and WINNING PRIZE while in between rivals. The pace was slow for the mile distance (23.80, 48.08) and TALCO, ridden by Victor Espinoza, made a bold wide bid entering the final turn. The goal was not only to get the jump on favored Bal a Bali, but to lock him in traffic turning for home.

Prat found a hole on Bal a Bali, however, and the 5-year-old burst through to join Talco on the lead at the three-sixteenths marker. From there, Bal a Bali asserted his class. He won going away by a length and finished the distance in 1:35.69 after knocking out his last quarter in 23.44 seconds. Bal a Bali received a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

This was a powerful return to the races considering his severe illness and subsequent long layoff. Look for Bal a Bali next in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita on June 13. He has won races on turf at distances ranging from 5 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles. Mandella has plenty of options here.


It was great to meet up with Pat Gavin last week at Pimlico. He told me that he believed COMMISSIONER was going to be one of the top handicap horses in the country prior to the Donn Handicap. I've never been Commissioner's biggest fan, but the Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old colt made a believer out of me with a dominating performance in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special at 1 3/16 miles.

Breaking from the far outside post as the 13 to 10 favorite in the seven-horse Pimlico Special, Commissioner settled outside of ENCRYPTION as the longest shot on the board put down moderate fractions of 23.54 and 48.16. Javier Castellano moved Commissioner alongside Encryption on the backstretch and they took command on the final turn. Commissioner quickly put the race to bed in upper stretch. He scored by 2 1/2 lengths over the game PAGE MCKENNEY, ran the distance in 1:56.09 and earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

Castellano was very pleased with the performance. "He was very strong today," the rider told track publicity. "He minded so well. I was able to tuck in around the first turn and he was just galloping along. He can go 24 (seconds) and 48, that’s him. I didn’t ask him until we turned for home. The more distance the better for him."

Known best for his runner-up effort in last year's Belmont Stakes, Commissioner might be putting it all together. He is slated to compete next in the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban on July 4 at Belmont Park.


Here are the top WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/5 - 5/11:

1. A. P. INDIAN - 105 - Decathlon Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 9May15-11MTH
2. TWILIGHT ECLIPSE - 104 - Man O' War Stakes (G1) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 9May15-9BEL
3. BAL A BALI (BRZ) - 100 - American Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 9May15-8SA
3. KENTUCKIAN - 100 - Lazaro Barrera Stakes (G3) - 7 Furlongs - 10May15-7SA
3. STALLWALKIN' DUDE - 100 - Diablo Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 10May15-8BEL
6. FABULOUS KID - 99 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 11May15-7PRX
7. BATTI MAN (ARG) - 98 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles - 8May15-4SA
8. WEDDING TOAST - 97 - Ruffian Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile - 9May15-4BEL
9. ALL INCLUDED - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 10May15-7BEL
10. TREV - 95 - OC25k/SAL25k - 5 Furlongs - 6May15-1GP
11. CHERUBIM - 94 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 9May15-7SA
11. COUNTY LINEMAN - 94 - OC 80k/C -N - Abouut 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 10May15-3SA
11. KATIE'S EYES - 94 - Unbridled Sidney Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 9May15-5CD
11. MADEFROMLUCKY - 94 - Peter Pan Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 9May15-3BEL
11. MAIL - 94 - OC 40k/C - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 9May15-8PRX
11. MATTERHORN - 94 - Alw 73150N1X - 7 Furlongs - 6May15-7BEL
11. MY SWEET ADDICTION - 94 - Vanity Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 9May15-5SA
11. PASO DOBLE - 94 - New Providence Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - 10May15-8WO
11. ROOM FOR ME - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 8May15-4BEL
11. UPTOWN BOY - 94 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - 11May15-8PRX
21. DECISIVE EDGE - 93 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 8May15-7SA
21. DISCREET MARQ - 93 - Beaugay Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 9May15-7BEL
21. THANK YOU KISSES - 93 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 5May15-7IND
24. BREAKIN THE FEVER - 92 - Alw 17000N3L - 4 1/2 Furlongs - 11May15-8FL
24. ULTIMO TRAGO - 92 - Clm 50000 - 1 Mile (Turf) - 10May15-4CD

*A. P. INDIAN's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Here are the top WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/12 - 5/18:

1. AMERICAN PHAROAH - 102 - Preakness Stakes (G1) - 1 3/16 Miles - 16May15-13PIM
1. COMMISSIONER - 102 - Pimlico Special Stakes (G3) - 1 3/16 Miles - 15May15-14PIM
3. BEN'S CAT - 101 - Turf Sprint Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 15May15-9PIM
3. LA VERDAD - 101 - Vagrancy Handicap (G3) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 16May15-6BEL
3. WINNING CAUSE - 101 - Red Bank Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 16May15-10MTH
6. HOLY BOSS - 100 - Chick Lang Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 16May15-10PIM
7. FAME AND POWER - 99 - Sir Barton Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 16May15-7PIM
7. FLEET EAGLE - 99 - Governor's Handicap - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 17May15-9EMD
9. PRICELESSCOMMODITY - 97 - OC 35k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 17May15-3CBY
9. SANDBAR - 97 - Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 16May15-5PIM
11. ELMAZEED - 96 - Md Sp Wt 75k - 6 Furlongs - 16May15-7BEL
11. FANTASTIC STYLE - 96 - Angels Flight Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 16May15-2SA
11. IRONICUS - 96 - Dixie Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 16May15-12PIM
11. MATROOH - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 16May15-9BEL
15. THE BIG DELUXE - 95 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 15May15-3BEL
16. AGELESS - 94 - The Very One Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 16May15-11PIM
16. STOPCHARGINGMARIA - 94 - Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 15May15-10PIM
18. CITY'S FAST LANE - 93 - Alw 25000s - 6 Furlongs - 16May15-6PRX
18. DAN'S GOLD - 93 - Alw 8000s - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 17May15-6PRX
18. FOREST CHATTER - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 17May15-6SA
18. KEEN PAULINE - 93 - Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 15May15-11PIM
18. SYCAMORE LANE - 93 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 14May15-8BEL
18. WATSDACHANCES (IRE) - 93 - Gallorette Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 16May15-9PIM
24. CONSPIRACY - 92 - Clm c-40000 - 1 Mile - 14May15-6BEL
24. GAMBLER'S GHOST - 92 - Clm 50000 - 6 Furlongs - 15May15-2CD

*The lifetime past performances for AMERICAN PHAROAH and COMMISSIONER are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*CONSPIRACY was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Abigail Adsit from Robert Barbara.


What are the three highest Beyers every assigned to a turf race?
Steve T

Here's what this year's American Racing Manual tells us:

118 - DAYLAMI - Gulfstream - 11/6/1999
118 - FASTNESS - Del Mar - 8/4/1996
118 - SILVANO - Arlington - 8/18/2001


Fearless Leader Dan,
Below, I am listing some of the fractional times of horses in the Kentucky Derby according to the Formulator Chart.
My questions are, how are these times obtained?
Do all of the horses now have a chip or a device in their saddle to record these times or are they extrapolated somehow else?
Who paid for this?
How are all the devices kept in order so they are not mixed up prior to placing in the saddle?
One of the reasons I ask, is that both American Pharoah and Firing Line, ran two identical iternal fractions in a row. 24.25 from the quarter to the half and 23.87 from the half to the 3/4 pole. Pretty incredible!
Also, 8th race Belmont , Saturday. Global Positioning raced along the inside and finished 2nd, but about a quarter mile in, his Trakus number appeared to have fallen out as it quickly disappeared on screen, as if the horse had stopped, but yet the chart has fractional times for him...
Ron Z

Here's what I found out from the Formulator gurus on staff:

The formula for computing beaten lengths/time is: .17 x lengths behind.

For example, ‘Mymommadontdance’ was 12.25 lengths behind at the finish of the race, which was timed in 1:16.73 (76.73 seconds).  12.25 x .17 = 2.08.  Add 2.08 seconds to the final time of the race (76.73 + 2.08 = 78.81 – or 1:18.81.)
Runups are not compensated for in the timing of a race.  The timer begins when the first horse breaks the beam, wherever it may be – anything that happens before that point is not reflected in the time of the race.

Hope that helps.


Just turned on the Preakness draw pre-show with Dan, Matt and Gabby. It was great, except - can't you guys afford more than on microphone? My favorite line was the and when Dan said, something to the effect of, well Matt tried, but I was great again - love the rapport. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Professor Molesap

Sorry for the technical problem. Our microphones were working perfectly up until two minutes to air time. They then went on the fritz and we had to go to Plan B.
Thanks for watching.


Can you post Madefromlucky's and Tonalists PPs? I want people to take a close look at them and tell me that tight/loose tracks don't matter. The two loosest tracks in the country are Belmont and Gulfstream. Now take a look at how these two run on those tracks versus tighter tracks - plus I want them to look at the internal positions of the horses as they are going around the turns.
Here is what Pletcher said about him:
"We felt like in his two races in Arkansas that he didn’t run the turns very well, kind of lost some key position, and then you look up the last sixteenth, he’s finishing up well again and galloping out well,” Pletcher said. “I cautioned Javier if he was moving well don’t take for granted that he’s going to run the turns as well as he’s going to run the straightaways. Actually, Javier said he ran the turn very well.”
P.S. - you want a horse for the Belmont? Take a look at Madefromlucky.

I wrote a post on the blog about stats and their use/misuse. As a follow on I wrote one on how people handicapped in the “old days”. Can you post the attached DRF PPs from the 1957 Kentucky Derby. Probably the greatest field in the history of horse racing in my mind.
Steve T

The lifetime past performances for both MADEFROMLUCKY and TONALIST are available at the bottom of this blog post. Also, Steve provided the past performances for the 1957 Kentucky Derby. They are available at the bottom of the blog post.


Dan, can you post Curlin's PPs? Have not seen them in ages.

You can find them at the bottom of the blog post.


Dan Illman – if you are not overwhelmed with requests next week would you consider posting the running history of Personality Girl to round out our recent insightful discussion of Susie’s Cowgirl. Thanks in advance and thanks for everything you do so well at DRF.

You know where to find them.


You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Remember to check out DRF LIVE's handicapping coverage. Matt Bernier and I will be handicapping Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 12:30 ET. We'll be on Saturday at 2pm. You can catch it at live.drf.com.


Congrats to Curtis V. Slewster for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling tournament.

Rick M's official scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Let's go with Saturday's finale from Santa Anita for this week's exercise.


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!




A.P. INDIAN.pdf652.29 KB
TONALIST.pdf652.45 KB
1957 Kentucky Derby PPs.pdf3.95 MB
CURLIN.pdf722 KB
Personality Girl.pdf683.85 KB
Copy of Formblog Preakness 5-16-15.xls75.5 KB
HGSA.pdf165.5 KB
Harold Crenshaw More than 1 year ago
DavidM9999 I was there the day that Xixixi was claimed.....and WAS SHOCKED that anyone would take that obvious dump job by Rudy Rod......he looked like a sour, smelly and unhappy horse. Interesting that the owner changed trainers even before the horses next race. That trainer(Demario) popped a $130 horse to ruin anyone's chances of taking down the Rainbow bet on Monday. I wouldn't know him if I fell over him. The horse is lousy looking, thin,but is fast early......next up Timonium and their famous 4 furlong dashes. I was looking for the MET MILE on its usual day and then remembered about it being put on the Belmont Card.....as with most things by people in racing...they have a HUGE stand alone race.....and put it on....so that it has less meaning. Astounding. And they moan and complain about getting more folks in the building......but only the amount that they feel like waiting on...BELMONT is so huge.....and I was there for Charasmatic and War Emblem attempts....it was an amazing place and I was marveling at its enormity....it must be awfully spooky on a random Wednesday,
tbtapgh More than 1 year ago
Sorry to read of the loss of one of my favorite Arlington Park stalwarts. http://www.nytbreeders.org/news/2015/05/27/young-sire-willcox-inn-euthanized-after-paddock-accident/
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
All in the Family There have been many famous brothers over the course of history. Orville and Wilbur Wright had a famous flight together. John and Bobby Kennedy and the George and Jeb Bush were political dynamos. You had Frank and Jesse James who could handle a six shooter. So you get the point, talent can run in a family. Monday I was watching TVG when they mentioned a horse named Xixixi was running in the 4th at Pimlico. He was in an Alw $7,500s but had been previously claimed from Rudy Rod two back at bottom levels. His record was 15-2-3-1 for $82,000 with a BSF top of 73. I don’t think “X” knew it but he is part of a famous brother team. His brother is the $20M American Pharaoh who is running straight towards history. It is not uncommon in horse racing for a superstar to have a non-superstar sibling. But you do wonder how one animal can move so effortlessly that it inspired awe yesterday morning but his four year old brother does not. Instead he opened up 7L in his prior start but then steadily fades to last by 30L marking the second straight race he beat no one. I would like to know for the first half mile did he at least feel like his famous younger brother. Generally horses want to give 100%. Some are precluded from their best by injury but others are simply limited in ability. While I am not a horse I know the affliction. I don’t know Xixixi’s story but I am sure he has one. You won’t see that one on the NBC television coverage next Saturday. This Oak Feels like a Crab Apple The American Oaks is coming up. I saw the entries and sure you have Chad, you have another Chad and even a third Chad, (is Katherine Harris calling them to the post?) Todd is sending one but overall that thing seems light. I remember when shippers would come from Japan and England. It was a race really worth watching. Now it just seems like another grade one with a grade 2 or grade 3 field. On the other hand I can’t wait for the Met Mile. I love mile races on grass or dirt. Speed can hold but closers come like runaway freight trains too. This race is chock full of famous winners Native Dancer, Kelso, Buckpasser, Forego, Fappiano, and Ghostzapper just to name some of the A listers. Seeing a 1:33 or 1:34 go up on the tote board is exciting. This race always feels like a legit G1. I think the 2015 field will be rock solid with the stretch drive fighter Private Zone, the rebounding speedy enigma Bayern, long striding Tonalist, steady Wicked Strong, and the once was $8M horse. I am looking forward to this one as much as the Belmont Stakes. Rewind The more I re-watch the Gamely the more I am amazed. How in the world did Hard Not to Like win? How did I lose that bet? In fairness I suppose HNL being the best in the race helped but I see handfuls of horses each weekend lose with decision making like Espinoza used. So Victor took the inside “hero run” and was a hero… this time. I still prefer an outside run on grass when you have the best animal. Call me crazy… it is a snug fit. I hope Victor does not make that run in the Belmont. If he does and is stopped he will be vilified forever. More likely he goes to the lead on the best horse. That seems like a sound strategy that won’t be questioned in a future 30/30 ESPN special airing in 2035. Steve – I don’t know how many times I have seen Lubash and Kharafa race each other but it is a lot. It would be fun to know the lifetime record of those two head to head.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mike A- I agree. on Moulin de Mougin....I guess I was just surprised that Mike S, who tends to switch out for the stretch stayed inside. I am concerned the MM might not be the same horse after falling down but.I was pleased w/ her run and will be watching (and perhaps wagering) next out. I've watched the race several times. The difference between 1st and 6th wasn't all that much. Danza Cavallo OTOH just never looked comfortable. the ship? Wanted a soft course? dan (brutus)
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
So far belmont hasn't put on the meet I anticipated......It started slow...picked up a bit, but the last week for the most part saw smaller than usual fields again with only a few viable Long prices.....but thinking back on it...last year while field size was larger Steve and I only made 7 bets from opening day till around the 2nd or third week of June so I reckon it isn't too much different price wise. 7 Bets, 7 seconds...that was one for the books....... You wish to promote the sport....at least that's what I hear from the people who run the show......government officials included but you will limit the crowd size Belmont day....with a horse shooting for the Triple Crown..hmmm....Now that's promoting the sport, I guess they figure out of a possible crowd of 120,000 only 90,000 are "fans"....so let the other 30,000 stay home and watch on TV.....something about crowd control I hear.....So the track that was built to handle that big a crowd won't. When you've grown up in NY and see the relationship between government and the track you realize promoting the sport is the last thing they do, regardless of what they say........there is just too much bureaucratic bs and now that the boys in Albany have had their hand in it I don't see it getting better....... Coming off such a good meet like Gulfstream you'd think they would have done all they could to put on a good show......but I've always felt the people in Albany while loving their "cut" from horse racing always viewed horseplayers as just degenerate gamblers and looked down their noses at the owners of racehorses....to me it certainly shows in the big picture......Considering what happened to the NYC OTB it's obvious it's just about skimming all they can from the pot...I mean how does a "bookie" operation go bust? especially one that charges a "fee" for winning.......Belmont was always "my" track......then Saratoga.....until Steve and I started playing together I rarely bet elsewhere.....now I find myself looking forward to Gulfstream more and more......People can say whatever they want about Frank Stronach, but a few more like him would go a long way to fixing racing's ills.... one thing about him that you can't say about the powers that be in Albany..he loves racing and he's one of it's biggest fans........The folks in Albany could care less whether the race or not.....actions speak louder than words and their words don't match the product.....simple enough.....Mike A
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calvin, Re those Derby entrant videos, sorry for my original incomplete answer. I meant that there is not a dedicated Derby site. I was aware of the At The Races videos (and I should have mentioned them). The problem is At The Races only broadcast the Irish races, plus the mainly second division British tracks. Virtually EVERY major British track is broadcast by Racing UK, a completely different company. For example, Racing UK have the rights for Newmarket, Ascot, York, Haydock, Sandown, Goodwood and many others. I believe Racing UK charge 25 pence per race to watch their videos. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Steven Thygersen More than 1 year ago
Bernard, The pedigree on Jack Hobbs is the perfect pedigree for a race horse, he has two crosses of Native Dancer on the top and nothing but old school stamina on the bottom. It is this type of cross that gave us multiple great race horses. He has Key to the Mint that I mentioned but also large heart stamina sires Princequillo, Graustark, Mill Reef, Bull Lea, lots of Nearco, He should have both speed and stamina, but his pedigree says he may be a little late to the party as far as maturity. Expect him to be much better at 4 than 3 but he will still be running at the end of the Derby, and there will probably be a bunch that aren't. He is the kind of horse that needs to get into an easy rhythm and he will still have punch left at the end - again if he is fit. Where does he finish? If I was going to guess - 3rd. I would watch for hm in the late summer races and for sure next year. Hope that helps.
Steven Thygersen More than 1 year ago
Bernard, I looked pretty deeply into Golden Horn's pedigree and I see no reason he will not be able to get the distance. Only one sib, a filly Eastern Belle who won at 10.5f against lesser, but the genes are there. Jack Hobbs? That sucker can run all week, very stout pedigree with multiple large heart relatives led by Key to the Mint. If Jack Hobbs was fit I would give him a go.
Steven Thygersen More than 1 year ago
Yesterday I got to watch 8 year old Lubash do it to it one more time. If anyone saw him on the track yesterday there is no way he looks 8, he looks 4. He just looked like a million bucks, but every one of Clement's horses look like that, Chad Brown too. When their horses step onto the track they always look fit, happy and ready to roll (and they usually do). People will say that a horse race is not a beauty contest but my experience is that if the outside looks that good you can figure the inside does too. The last time the old boy missed the board? You would have to go back to August 2013 when he finished 4th.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Dan B Mike Smith did the right thing saving ground on Moulin De Mougin.....1 1/8th is her distance, but if you look at who she'd beaten in the past and the times over much faster courses you could conclude that against better she'd need a bit of help and coming off the layoff after an injury they gave her what they felt was the best scenario......she didn't run badly and at 8-1 you may get better odds next time......watch how she progresses from here....Mike A