01/19/2017 1:26PM

Two more to follow

Here are a couple of runners worth storing on the old DRF Horse Watch list.
If you watched Whitmore's Kentucky Derby prep races last year, you'd be hard-pressed to imagine him excelling as a tactical up-close sprinter. A one-run rallying type that emerged from the clouds to finish second in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, second in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, Whitmore, by Breeders' Cup Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect, seemed destined as a solid candidate for the older handicap division. 
Whitmore earned his way into the Derby with his Oaklawn exploits, but he finished nineteenth after acting up a bit in the Churchill Downs paddock and post parade. Trainer Ron Moquett indicated that he would point for races like the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard and the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, shorter-distance races interestingly enough, before turning Whitmore out at the end of May. 
Whitmore returned to the races with a vengeance last month at Aqueduct, grabbing an 'n2x' optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure in his first start against older horses. He returned to Oaklawn last Sunday in another optional claiming race, and he drubbed a good field as the odds-on favorite. 
Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Whitmore tracked the leaders while three wide, took over the lead at the quarter pole and kept to his task, finishing his final eighth in a hair under 12 seconds. Whitmore completed the six panels in 1:08.81, received a career-best 102 Beyer, and appears bound for stakes engagements. Perhaps most noteworthy in his two starts this form cycle is that he has retained his potent stretch kick while staying closer to the early pace. 
Whether Whitmore, now undefeated from four sprint starts, will remain around one turn is the question. Races like the King Cotton Stakes (six furlongs, February 20) and the Hot Springs Stakes (six furlongs, March 11) make up the road to the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 15. Whitmore would seemingly fit like a glove in all of those races. There is, of course, the temptation to stretch the 4-year-old out for a spot like the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth the same afternoon as the King Cotton. 
A lightly-raced gelding, Whitmore still has scope for improvement. He's one to keep an eye on. for sure.
Last Saturday's Ft. Lauderdale Stakes provided a thrilling finish. Handicappers analyzing the race would naturally wish to follow beaten favorite DIVISIDERO, who finished a late-kicking third in his first start following a long layoff. Others to consider next time out are also-rans LUKES ALLEY (layoff, traffic) and JAY GATSBY (wide trip). 
Mike Beer and I discussed the race at length in our "Weekend Wrap" feature found here:
While Almanaar received a nice trip and ride to finish second, I think his race showed that he continues to thrive and improve for trainer Chad Brown, and that the best might be yet to come, perhaps in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 11. 
Almanaar was very sharp during the spring of 2015 in France. He reeled off three consecutive wins, including two Group 3 scores before laying an egg as the even-money favorite in the Group 3 Prix Quincey Barriere. That race was contested over soft ground and it preceded a year-plus layoff. The assumption is that he didn't handle the footing and was injured during the race. 
It's been a natural progression in his three North American starts for Brown. First, off the lenghty layoff, he was headstrong and rank when fourth to the hard-hitting Lubash at Belmont. Then, he ran an okay third to stablemate Night Prowler in another optional claiming heat. Last week, he settled a little better early and it led to a stronger late kick. 
I think Almanaar is cycling to a big race. He is a quirky runner in that he pulls hard early and looks like the type that needs some pace in order for his rally to be most effective. Still, he's in the right hands and should offer a good price if he does run in the Grade 1 next month. 
For free video analysis of some of the weekend's major stakes races, take a look at http://video.drf.com/
Also, Mike Beer, 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, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, Laurel, Santa Anita and Tampa Bay Downs. You can find us at live.drf.com.
You can check me out on Twitter @DRF_Dan Illman.
For up-to-date video releases from DRF, follow DRFTV @DRFvideo.
Once again, Laura has been kind enough to plan our annual FormBlogger's convention! Here are the details. 
The 6th (or is it 7th) annual Formblogger’s Convention is slated for March 10 – 12 at Gulfstream Park.  
Special room rates at the Hampton Inn will be available & I offer shuttle service to/from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, which is roughly a 20 min. drive. Sometimes 15 min. if I run the red lights.  I haven’t lost anyone or had an accident…yet.
As usual, our generous benefactor Mike Nyman will comp us a private suite overlooking the track. As usual, there will be laughter, serious discussions, catching up with old friends, not so old friends, and newcomers.  
Bets will be made, won and lost. Indecision, high fives, tears,whining and red boarding may be a part of the process. As usual, the betting machine will malfunction at least once.
As usual, our Fearless Leader Dan Who will join us and quietly cash in on a huge bet. He will also receive risqué blue undergarments suitable for either male or female. 
As usual, a race will be named in our honor & we’ll visit the paddock before the race and have a photo taken in the winner’s circle afterward. 
If you’d like to be a part of the mayhem, please contact Laura at lross@imtbreds.com 
Updates will be posted as the date draws near.
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 1/11/17 to 1/17/17:
1. TOMMY MACHO - 107 - Hal's Hope Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - 14Jan17-11GP 
2. FLATLINED - 102 - Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 14Jan17-10GP 
2. WHITMORE - 102 - OC 62k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 15Jan17-8OP 
4. GREEN GRATTO - 100 - Toboggan Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 16Jan17-5AQU
4. SANDIVA (IRE) - 100 - Marshua's River Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 14Jan17-6GP
6. IMPERIAL HINT - 99 - Fire Plug Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 14Jan17-8LRL
6. VALIANT MINISTER - 99 - Md Sp Wt 54k - 6 Furlongs - 14Jan17-7SA
8. DIVERSIFY - 97 - Alw 67000N1X - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 14Jan17-6AQU
9. DOMAIN'S RAP - 96 - Fifth Season Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 13Jan17-8OP 
9. SUNNY RIDGE - 96 - Jazil Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 14Jan17-5AQU
9. UNCONTESTED - 96 - Smarty Jones Stakes - 1 Mile - 16Jan17-8OP 
9. WONDER GAL - 96 - Ladies Handicap - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - 13Jan17-3AQU
13. JOHNNY BEAR - 95 - OC 32k/N2X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 13Jan17-7TAM
13. MR PALMER - 95 - Clm 25000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 12Jan17-7AQU
13. PAY ANY PRICE - 95 - OC16k/SAL12k - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 11Jan17-2GP 
13. SURF N SKI - 95 - Clm 20000 - 6 Furlongs - 14Jan17-8SUN
13. TEN CARAT ROCK - 95 - Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap - 1 Mile (Turf) - 14Jan17-7TUP
13. TERRA PROMESSA - 95 - Pippin Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - 14Jan17-8OP 
13. VALE DORI (ARG) - 95 - La Canada Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 14Jan17-5SA 
20. CANDID DESIRE - 94 - Alw 67000N1X - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 14Jan17-8AQU
21. AFLEET WILLY - 93 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 7 Furlongs -16Jan17-8LRL
22. CANADIAN FLYER - 92 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 12Jan17-9GP 
22. CONQUEST PANTHERA - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 15Jan17-9GP 
24. REPENT TWICE - 91 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - 13Jan17-8AQU
25. TOP BRASS - 90 - Alw 56330N1X - 6 Furlongs - 14Jan17-8PRX
25. WESTBROOK - 90 - Clm 50000(50-40) - 6 Furlongs - 15Jan17-9SA 
25. ZENNOR - 90 - OC 35k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 14Jan17-8GP 
*Tommy Macho's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
Congrats to G. Ginat for winning the most recent HandiGambling challenge.
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
Let's go with Saturday's Lecomte Stakes from Fair Grounds as this week's exercise.
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!
Copy of HG 1 14 17 Ft Lauderdale.xls48 KB
HGLECOMTE.pdf159.56 KB