05/20/2015 3:02PM

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