12/01/2016 7:33PM

Two to consider in 2017

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There were exciting finishes to some major stakes races over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 
 
I'd like to profile a couple of horses that didn't end up in the winner's circle last week, but might be ones to follow in the near future. 
 
DIVINING ROD
Divining Rod was a very promising 3-year-old last spring for trainer Arnaud Delacour. He hit the board in his first eight starts and grabbed the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland before finishing a non-threatening third behind American Pharoah in the Preakness. 
 
Divining Rod was off his game when a dull fifth as the favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx. He was then sent to the farm for a little R & R, but what began as a couple of months on the sidelines turned into a 373-day layoff. Delacour had nursed Divining Rod through various physical problems when he was racing regularly. After the Smarty Jones, he displayed a good amount of patience as he helped Divining Rod back to 100% fitness. 
 
It appears that patience is paying off. 
 
Divining Rod returned to the races in early September and promptly went through his remaining two conditions in workmanlike fashion. He finally popped a "fast" race (98 Beyer) when second to a loose-on-the-lead Noble Bird in the Grade 3 Fayette Handicap at Keeneland on October 29. Delacour seems convinced that Divining Rod is more of a middle distance runner (8 to 8 1/2 furlongs) and he cut Divining Rod back to a flat mile in last week's Grade 1 Cigar at Aqueduct. 
 
Divining Rod was off a half-beat slow in the Cigar, but he was soon comfortable in a good pace-tracking position. He made a three-wide bid in tandem with eventual winner CONNECT on the far turn and battled hard with that horse all the way down to the wire. Divining Rod and Connect banged off each other several times in the stretch before Connect got his head down at the wire. Divining Rod galloped out past the winner after the fact and improved his Beyer Speed Figure to a career-best 105. 
 
Matt and I take a look back at the Cigar with our "Weekend Wrap" video.
 
 
While Connect might attempt to obtain a berth in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream, Delacour has different plans for Divining Rod. Possible future goals include the Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn on February 20, and/or the Godolphin Mile in Dubai in late March. The long-term spot for Divining Rod might be the Metropolitan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard. 
 
If dirt doesn't pan out, perhaps Divining Rod has a future on the green stuff. After all, his dam won three Grade 1 races on the sod and is a full sister to turf champion Kitten's Joy. 
 
***
 
On the left coast, OM continued his frustrating streak of near-misses when third as the favorite in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap. That's now four races in a row that Om has lost by a half-length or less. 
 
Om will always be immortalized as the horse that defeated American Pharoah when that future Hall of Famer made his career debut, but he's carved out a nice career for himself with three Grade 2 wins on turf and a graded stakes-placing on dirt. 
 
In the Seabiscuit, the expected hot pace failed to materialize when Tyler Baze took a hold of WHAT A VIEW out of the gate. That allowed Om to grab the lead and the rail. He took outside pressure early from both What a View and the previously undefeated HI HAPPY, put both of those foes away turning into the straight and dug in determinedly only to succumb to the late rallies from both RING WEEKEND and VYJACK. 
 
I thought it was a pretty gutsy effort. Matt disagreed. 
 
 
A one-dimensional speedball at middle distances earlier in his career, Om has gradually learned to rate for trainer Dan Hendricks. He might be at his best right now as a downhill turf specialist, but is certainly capable at 1 mile. 
 
***
 
...Dan - what is the rule in regards to debris, fallen horses, jocks injured on ground, etc?...
DavidM9999
 
As we saw in last week's case, it appears to be the stewards' discretion as to how to handle the whole disastrous affair. Matt Bernier and I had a long discussion about it on DRF Live immediately after the race. I thought the race should have been declared a no-contest and the purse money shouldn't have been paid out. Matt had a different take on the situation. 
 
***
 
I was disappointed to find out that EPICHARIS will sit out the remainder of the year in Japan. That means he skipped the first Kentucky Derby points race, and he also won't be in the starting gate for a year-end Grade 1 for 2-year-olds on dirt at one mile. One has to wonder if he's suffering from some physical problems, but the connections still have two shots at the Derby, if they are so inclined to chase that dream. First would be the second points race, the Hyacinth Stakes early next year, or the UAE Derby that Lani won earlier in 2016. 
 
***
 
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
 
Also, Matt Bernier and I will be on for free and fun handicapping analysis at 3pm ET on Saturday for DRF Live!. This week, we'll discuss Aqueduct, Del Mar, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, Golden Gate and more. You can find us at live.drf.com. 
 
You can check me out on Twitter at DRF_Dan Illman
 
***
 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 11/16/16 - 11/22/16:
 
1. MACAGONE - 103 - Artie Schiller Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 19Nov16-8AQU
2. SHARP AZTECA - 101 - City of Laurel Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 19Nov16-7LRL
3. IVAN FALLUNOVALOT - 99 - Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 19Nov16-9LRL
4. CASH CONTROL - 97 - Cardinal Handicap (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 19Nov16-10CD 
4. FIRE AWAY - 97 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 16Nov16-8AQU
6. PERFECTLY MAJESTIC - 96 - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 19Nov16-8DMR
7. SHANE'S GIRLFRIEND - 95 - Delta Princess Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - 19Nov16-6DED
8. EL AREEB - 94 - James F. Lewis III Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 19Nov16-4LRL
9. NAME CHANGER - 93 - Richard W. Small Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - 19Nov16-5LRL
9. RECOUNT - 93 - Bet On Sunshine Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 19Nov16-9CD 
9. SOLID WAGER - 93 - Cary Grant Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 20Nov16-8DMR
12. GANGSTER - 92 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 19Nov16-6DMR
12. GRANDIFLORA - 92 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 19Nov16-8LRL
12. JIMMY BOUNCER - 92 - OC 75k/N2X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 18Nov16-6DMR
15. DAZZLING GEM - 91 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 19Nov16-8CD 
15. FLASHY JEWEL - 91 - Clm c-25000 - 1 Mile - 19Nov16-2CD 
15. PRAETEREO - 91 - Clm 32000 - 1 Mile - 17Nov16-2AQU
15. RED DRAGON TATTOO - 91 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 22Nov16-8PRX
15. RIVER DATE - 91 - Clm c-14000N3L - 1 Mile - 18Nov16-1AQU
20. STAR STUDENT - 90 - Oakland Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 19Nov16-7GG 
20. WILDCAT WISH - 90 - Sam's Town Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 19Nov16-5DED
20. WILL DID IT - 90 - Alw 67000N1X - 6 Furlongs - 16Nov16-7AQU
23. BIG YUM - 89 - Alw 65763N1X - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 20Nov16-6WO 
23. GOLD FOR THE KING - 89 - Notebook Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 19Nov16-5AQU
23. HESINFRONT - 89 - Delta Mile Stakes - 1 Mile - 19Nov16-4DED
23. MOE CANDY - 89 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 20Nov16-6DMR
23. NEGRITO - 89 - OC 28k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 18Nov16-8LRL
23. OUR CARAVAN - 89 - Clm c-20000 - 1 Mile - 16Nov16-5AQU
 
Macagone's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
Flashy Jewel was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Eddie Kenneally from Chris Richard.
 
River Date was taken for $14,000 by trainer Antonio Arriaga from Rudy Rodriguez.
 
Our Caravan was claimed for $20,000 by trainer Robert Falcone Jr. from Linda Rice.
 
 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 11/23/16 - 11/29/16:
 
1. CONNECT - 106 - Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) - 1 Mile - 26Nov16-10AQU
1. RING WEEKEND - 106 - Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Nov16-8DMR
3. MIDNIGHT STORM - 105 - Native Diver Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 27Nov16-8DMR
4. GUN RUNNER - 104 - Clark Handicap (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - 25Nov16-11CD 
4. TEXAS RYANO - 104 - Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 25Nov16-6DMR
6. YOCKEY'S WARRIOR - 103 - Thanksgiving Handicap - 6 Furlongs - 24Nov16-9FG 
7. FINLEY'SLUCKYCHARM - 102 - Dream Supreme Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 25Nov16-8CD 
7. HEAVEN'S RUNWAY - 102 - Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 24Nov16-8AQU
9. ISABELLA SINGS - 101 - My Charmer Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Nov16-5GPW
9. RAINBOW HEIR - 101 - Gin Rummy Championship Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 26Nov16-3GPW
11. STACKED DECK - 100 - Kennedy Road Stakes (G2-C) - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 25Nov16-8WO 
11. TED W - 100 - OC 60k/C - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 27Nov16-6WO 
13. BIRD SONG - 99 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 24Nov16-9CD 
13. THATCHER STREET - 99 - River City Handicap (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 24Nov16-11CD 
15. LIFE IN SHAMBLES - 97 - OC 100k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 23Nov16-5AQU
16. LINDA - 96 - Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 25Nov16-10CD
16. LUBASH - 96 - Tropical Turf Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 26Nov16-7GPW
16. RICHARD'S BOY - 96 - OC 80k/C -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 26Nov16-4DMR
19. FAMILY TREE - 95 - Zia Park Oaks - 1 1/16 Miles - 23Nov16-10ZIA
19. ROCKPORT KAT - 95 - Zia Sprint Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 23Nov16-5ZIA
21. CATAPULT - 94 - Gio Ponti Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 24Nov16-3AQU
21. CLOWNEY - 94 - Alw 10000s - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 25Nov16-5PEN
21. FREITAG - 94 - Sir Barton Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 26Nov16-8WO 
21. LOKI'S VENGEANCE - 94 - New York Stallion Series Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 25Nov16-4AQU
25. NUOVO RECORD (JPN) - 93 - Red Carpet Handicap (G3) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 24Nov16-7DMR
25. VERVE'S TALE - 93 - Comely Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles - 26Nov16-3AQU
 
The lifetime past performances for Ring Weekend and Connect are available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
***
 
Congrats to Ed Kay for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
 
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
Ed selected Saturday's eleventh race at Gulfstream as this week's exercise. 
 
PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
 
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
 
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 SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
 
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR 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 identify who you are.
4. (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.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
 
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 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
 
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!
Harpo
 
A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS  IS  ALWAYS  APPRECIATED !
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.
 
ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A SATURDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL)
AttachmentSize
Macagone.pdf759.63 KB
CONNECT.pdf647.16 KB
Ring Weekend.pdf718.43 KB
Copy of HG 11 19 16 Delta Jackpot.xls54 KB
HGCCGP.pdf232.9 KB