04/09/2011 11:26AM

Uncle Mo Headlines a Tremendous Weekend of Racing


There's a little something for everyone at this weekend's scrumptious racing buffet.

Racing fans looking to anoint the next superstar will be watching UNCLE MO with tremendous interest as he goes off the heavy, heavy favorite in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Triple Crown form students will study the results of the Wood, the Santa Anita Derby (now, unfortunately, without the two morning line favorites in PREMIER PEGASUS and JAYCITO) and, to a lesser extent, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

Like fillies?  I do.  How about the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland?  KATHMANBLU seeks her fourth straight victory against the well-regarded DANCINGINHERDREAMS and five other stakes-winners. 

One must always respect their elders and MISREMEMBERED may be the best handicapper in the division, as of this writing.  He'll ship to Oaklawn and will be backed with gusto by the Hot Springs faithful. 

Feel the need for speed?  The historic Grade 1 Carter Handicap features APRIORITY, he of the recent 113 Beyer Speed Figure, and MORNING LINE, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Fans of good turf horses needn't worry as CARACORTADO and JERANIMO will butt heads in the Arcadia at Santa Anita, a tasty appetizer before the Santa Anita Derby. 

For an in-depth video analysis of these races, please head to the link listed below (just click on the race name on the right hand side of the video player):



Let's dig into a few of these races.

Quick-and-Dirty Selections:


Ashland Stakes - Keeneland - Race 9:
I respect KATHMANBLU, but will not hesitate to try and beat her in the Grade 1 Ashland.  While she's performed well on dirt and grass in her career, she will run on synthetic for the first time this afternoon and that's a bit of an unknown.  Also, this will be her first race at nine furlongs and she, despite eight runs on her resume, seems a bit green at times.  Last time out, she was rank and hard to handle.  Three back, she changed to her wrong lead in late stretch.  In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Jessamine Stakes, she flipped leads back-and-forth in the stretch.  She's good, don't get me wrong, but I'll try to beat her at a short price.
The problem with the Ashland is that the horse I like, DANCINGINHERDREAMS, isn't going to offer a ton of value either.  After two visually-impressive races to kick off her career, including a six-furlong debut over this polytrack surface, Dancinginherdreams didn't move forward as expected at Gulfstream over the winter.  Perhaps one could make the argument that she was short of her best conditioning when upset in the Forward Gal, and she ran into, arguably, the top 3-year-old filly in the country, R Heat Lightning, when a wide second in the Davona Dale last time out.  I think she'll appreciate the slower pace of this two-turn route and she may really relish getting back to the polytrack.
WYOMIA is a perfect 2-2 on synthetic, and both of those wins came around two turns at Woodbine.  Her only bad races have come on turf, she has tactical speed, and she showed a good turn of foot to win the Suncoast last time out at Tampa Bay Downs. 


Wood Memorial - Aqueduct - Race 10:
UNCLE MO, the undefeated juvenile champion of 2010, looks unstoppable in the Wood Memorial.  We've learned, however, from Big Brown and countless others, that they have to run the race first.  We can handicap speed, pace, and class all we want, but who knows how Uncle Mo is feeling this morning?  Who knows how he'll break?  Who knows if he'll get into trouble?  Who knows if he's as effective at nine furlongs?  These are the great unknowns with Uncle Mo, but, again, we can't handicap most of those factors.  Going off the cold dope, he should put on a show this afternoon.  He's a very good horse, and perhaps we'll see him rate again with SON OF POSSE and DUCA possible pacesetters.
I can't get clever in the exotics, either.  TOBY'S CORNER and NORMAN ASBJORNSON, both exiting the Gotham, may be next-best behind the chalk. 


Arcadia Stakes - Santa Anita - Race 7:
Although LIBERIAN FREIGHTER appears to be the main speed, I don't think he's good enough to pull off a theft when facing the likes of CARACORTADO.  A rags-to-riches Cal-bred (he made his debut going four furlongs at Fairplex in a $40,000 maiden claimer) that made it all the way to the Preakness last year, he has really taken to the turf as a four-year-old.  His best grass race may have been his only defeat on the lawn, the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 5.  Despite a good break, he was taken back to the rear of the field, and was bottled up inside entering the far turn.  While the winner, the good turf runner Fluke, saved all the ground and got through on the fence, Caracortado has to angle out to split rivals.  He came with a good rally, but fell a head shy.  Switch his trip with Fluke's, and I believe Caracortado wins.  He might just be too good for these. 
JERANIMO is no slouch, either, but he couldn't finish with Caracortado last time out despite getting the jump on that one turning for home.  He flopped at 7-5 in the Sunshine Millions Turf when fourth behind Caracortado and showed up with front wraps last time out. 


Santa Anita Derby - Santa Anita - Race 10:
It's a crying shame that both PREMIER PEGASUS and JAYCITO are out due to injury.  You have to feel for the horses, their connections, and the handicappers that wanted to bet against them at short prices. 
The Santa Anita Derby is still a contentious race, however, and I'll go with ANTHONY'S CROSS, who showed a lot of grit and determination in winning the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis at this nine-furlong distance on February 12.  That was his first race in blinkers, and he had to do some dirty work chasing the runaway speed of Tapizar for the first six furlongs.  After putting Tapizar away turning for home, Anthony's Cross then was passed by Riveting Reason, but he came back gamely along the inside the grab the decision.  We shall see if Eoin Harty's unorthodox decision to bypass the San Felipe in favor of waiting almost two months for the Santa Anita Derby will pay off, but Anthony's Cross has good tactical speed, and should find a good stalking spot while outside of rivals. 
INDIAN WINTER and BENCH POINTS are intriguing price possibilities, but both will need to improve drastically.  The former had to word hard to win the San Pedro in his first start of the year at 6 1/2 furlongs before faltering as the favorite when attempting two turns for the first time in the Turf Paradise Derby.  Take note, however, that Indian Winter was the only part of the pace to be remotely close at the finish, however, and the Turf Paradise Derby line looks a little better.  He may work out a good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip switching to Pat Valenzuela. 
Bench Points returned from knee surgery to win a four-horse optional claimer after a good trip.  He picked up some of the pieces of that hot pace in the San Felipe, not a bad performance for a lightly-raced gelding making his first start around two turns. 
SILVER MEDALLION is very logical following his victories in the Eddie Logan and El Camino Real Derby.  We know he likes the distance, but this will be his first start on dirt.  Like the top pick, he hasn't raced since February 12.


La Puente Stakes - Santa Anita (Sunday) - Race 8:
MAJOR ART, Group 2-placed on grass in Europe, was placed in a tough spot for his North American debut on September 8 when his connections opted to try him on the main track in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity against the likes of J P's Gusto and Jaycito.  After a tenth-place finish, the colt rebounded with a good fourth behind Silver Medallion in the Eddie Logan on grass, and he got back on the beam with a visually-impressive entry-level allowance score last time out.  He broke well on March 11, but was rated to midpack while saving ground.  He was in behind horses in upper stretch and had to alter course to the three path, but came with a furious rally to get up by a head.  I think he's good enough to handle the step up in class and trip.
JAKESAM has big early speed and could be dangerous if allowed to make the front.  I'm not sure if he can last nine furlongs, however, and he could face pressure from THE FLYING WHIZZER. 
INSCRUTABLE, a listed stakes winner at 10 furlongs over fibresand in France, looms the X-factor for new trainer Jenine Sahadi.  Note that he was 20-1 in that Prix Policeman.


More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.

Have a wonderful weekend.

chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Dan, Not sure if the following will end up in the dust pan of Formblog posts, but it may help some one out there. One man's suggestion for improving ones handicapping: What I am going to suggest will not help some, may help others, and will definitely help some persons improve their handicapping. One of the ironies is, those who would benefit most will be the type of individual who will dismiss this suggestion out of hand. There may be some facts here that are untrue. These facts are not deliberately presented that manner, but because I have not yet done enough research. I have done some experimenting. In the end, the recommendation is a good one, and I am confident it will help some in their handicapping. R. Tagore (sp), writes about logic and a knife, "A mind all logic, is like a knife all blade, it makes the hand bleed that uses it. " So too, IMO, when it comes to how most of us go about approaching the act and art of handicapping. I have blown hot and cold on the subject, but I have come the the conclusion that the better handicappers are those who use and are able to manipulate a fair amount of numbers and stats; to a point. As far as I can determine, many successful handicappers are fairly good at numbers and stats, and even may use numbers in their line of work. I watched with interest how IBM's Watson, destroyed its competitors on Jeopardy only to be defeated by a human being at one point. The main approach use by most handicappers is by necessity, to think logically, sequentially, looks for parts, rationally and analytically. In the main, we live in that kind of world, else we would be relegated to the funny farm. And it is great that some of the handicapping facilitators like the DRF, have taken some of the drudgery out of getting and applying that which we need to handicap a race or race card. A scene from Rainman: [after Ray spills a box of toothpicks on the floor] Raymond: 82, 82, 82. Charlie: 82 what? Raymond: Toothpicks. Charlie: There's a lot more than 82 toothpicks, Ray. Raymond: 246 total. Charlie: How many? Sally Dibbs: 250. Charlie: Pretty close. Sally Dibbs: There's four left in the box. A partial aptitude shown above by Raymond would help handicappers with the kind of focus needed to analyze a race or race card. It would really come in handy, IMO. I think the better handicappers have some of this innate ability when sitting down to analyze a race. When a handicapper says, "I have no clue" or, "I am not seeing anything," IMO he/she is not seeing patterns or is seeing too many patterns in reaching good conclusions about a race. The handicapper needs at least some of the focus demonstrated by Raymond. What causes handicappers to lose focus, IMO, is handicapping to many races or a given period of time and using a knife which is all blade. Losing focus ultimately leads to poor selections. IMO, the Public Selectors are a great risk in this regard. Of course what I am talking about is using mostly one part of the brain, the analytical side, for the task of handicapping at the expense of other parts and in this example the creative part of the brain that gets into randomness, synthesising, subjectives, and intuitiveness. It is my belief based on research, actively strengthening the creative side of the brain will make some persons a better handicapper. I beleive this because I think when one does this, the analytical side of ones thinking is slowed down enough to bring one to a better focus so to speak. It sounds counter intuitive I know. Also, I believe it brings to bear some aspects of the unconscious mind. To those that think they don't need to use all of their thinking ability, please note your brain emits enough wattage to power a refrigerator light. You are special, but you are no Watson. You can look up for yourself activities to strengthen your creative side. My recommendation is to do only what you will enjoy doing and don't do these exercises under stress. You are better off not doing any of them under these circumstances. First handicap your card, do your exercise for one hour, and return and go over your card again. Was thinking about at the music enjoyed by the Formbloggers. I am not sure if listening to music is a creative thing. I suppose if it lead to some day dreaming. Certainly REM sleep gets you out of analytical thinking mode. I my own experience, having having handicapped a card the night before, after dreaming, returned to the handicapping and then see things, relationships, etc, that I did not notice. It seems to me that some of the examples of strengthening creative thinking, include things where one is more of a participant rather than an observer. Maybe not. Maybe just watching a movie is a good exercise.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
chicago gerry; Great post today (as usual). I never quite was able to put into words what you just did. Whether or not what you wrote is true, I don't know, but I have always believed quite a bit of it. Maybe that's why I love cooking, but abhore baking. When I cook, I approach it as art, and I take license to do what I want to do within the confines of my ingredients. Baking not so much. That to me is painting by numbers. So I have always used cooking as an outlet for my creativity. Bourbon too, I suppose. It let's me be creative (or at least let's me believe that I am creative (snort!). Handicapping and then wagering is certainly a craft unto it's own I suppose. The first part is pattern recognition and numbers analysis and so forth. But the note taking, the replay watching, other research, and finally the construction of a wager requires the creativity. Unless, that is, you don't get fancy and you stick with a formula and always proceed accordingly. That's all for now.
robertSD More than 1 year ago
With so much going on in so many of our lives (both good and definitely not so good) it's terribly unfortunate that Dan's amazing thoroughbred racing blog (known as FormBlog to many of us) has degenerated into such childishness. It used to be such a great place to talk racing ... now not so much. That coupled with DRF ruining a much better blog format pre site redesign and the continued decline of racing in my home state (California) might just have driven me away for good. - robertSD
Tina More than 1 year ago
Dan- I'm working on a little project I have going re: KD contenders. I need to validate some of my theories and was wondering if you could please post the PP's of the winners of the KD from 1995-2008. (If you could post the PP's of the entire fields for 2000-2008, that would be even better!). I can't find this info any where online - so I really appreciate it! I promise to share my insights re: this field according to my theories for those who might be interested! :-) Thanks so much! Tina
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Monday's ROTD - 9th from Mountaineer 1- Kayle Princess - Early/wired a 23k here in Oct. Last 2 were weak. Might be a prospect later in the year. 4- Snowscape - Class/Fig/Place and show in OC40s/looks like a presser - hers to lose 5- Sleek Runner - won a 5/12 furlong at 15k 2 back, 3rd at this level last. Look for her early 6- Courante - Has run with better/won at 23k in September/last 3 were weak 7 - She Has Heart - Won here last out at 15k going away. I see the 1 and 5 with early speed and the 4 and 7 closing. In my A/B/C classification i get to A- Snowscape B- She Has Heart C- Sleek Runner Good luck to all.
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Steve T., If it is OK with Big Head, I mean Big Red , I would also like to wish you well in your new role. You and I have shared more than a few laughs over raising boys.....but the biggest challenge I have ever had was the two foster teenage girls I had for a bit over 2 years. One thing I can say is that your humor and wisdom will get you through as well as your intimate knowlege of teenage boys. I look forward to the next chapters and essays in Thoroughbred Ink. Many times I have read your horseracing information and spreadsheets to help me with the statistical side of handicapping, but just as often when I was in a bad mood, I pulled up your essays on teenage boys blowing up stuff, your "Target" meeting with a stripper and how you married your wonderful wife, and within five minutes, my dark mood was lifted. I'm not sure you have lost a step at 56, in fact, you certainly seem even craftier.....and we know crafty wins everytime. All my best and prayers for you and your family. Cathy
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, Perhaps in preparation for a run in the Preakness Stakes, it looks like Cal Nation and Dominus are possible entrants for the Jerome Stakes (G2). Dominus is also possible for The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial (G3). http://www.kentuckyderby.com/sites/kentuckyderby.com/files/u64720/20110410%20Kentucky%20Derby%20Graded%20Stakes%20Earnings%20List.pdf
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
C, Call me ignorant or call me a loon..That's OK..I know it's not personal..& I can understand why you feel that way..Somebody got to you once or twice.. That tout guy at the track ? I didn't know you knew Augie, too......heeheehee.... I've been around just a tad bit longer than Mike A. & Steve T. & you know what ? I've seen it all. I've been an owner of race horses & my uncle still is a trainer. I don't believe him either.. I'll tell you how crazy I am ? Until the horse answers my questions, in ANY one {1} of at least three {3} different languages, I don't/won't believe the horse either.... BTW: Van Savant>>>You're a life saver......
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
VQ, Funny...Talking about that dud, Leroy Jolley..Another one of his all-time boners...After the Slewster was rejetced by the summer sales @Keeneland, Slew was brought back for a separate sale, & Leroid said upon inspection..."Phew..Oh my...just put him back....."...he was gangly & had a protruded front foot, translation:::Slew was ugly as yearling.......butts: turned into the Blackest of Princes.....BIG mistake.......from Baby Huey into Mighty Mouse........
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
MikeA , sure I am . Being over Zealous is part of my inner nature I guess. My best friend for 40 years has the nickname "Psycho" so you can imagine him and I have gotten into it a few times. LOL. He's still my best friend though . I'm really not as mean and nasty as I sometimes seem and I'm sure you aren't either. You're right about when picking horses feels like work. I take breaks periodically to do "real work" or go fishing. Its very difficult to play horses 150 or more days a year without getting worn down and or irratible. Like Chitown Gerry said, we can begin to miss the patterns when it feels like work.
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
Blackstone, Where you been ? Hanging out under the GG Bridge...LOL..Are you sure you got TejanoRun's joke ? You were right the 1st time..He said a "WHINE" cellar, not Wine{you said wine}...& I added Dungeness crabs..for your dungeon..Me thinkem' you didn't get it..butts:Like Uncle Mo, you get a pass..heeheehee>afterall w/this re-loading it could have been a typo... BSB, We think alike..That's scary aint it ? That's the guy I was alluding to in my prior post..I said it was like his 1000th time..Reminds of a "Repeater Reporter".......Like clockwork, ad nauZeum.....he's as Zerious as a heart attack..Like we all don't have the problem..."Bigggg Girls don't cry, my oh my........Myah girl, she don't cryyyyy...I wonder why..." I'll nominate you, since Blackstone never said he had dibbs on issuing the invitations..albeit, he probably wants it..& of cHorse, you can return the favor......LMAO>.....you bring the Zoloft, I'll bring the Zannies...... Mike A. Nothing like a small chicken cutlet, smothered w/ ton of Broccoili Rabe, or some say, Rapini....... At good..."Thell 'ya whatam gonna did...." That Louisiana chef guy on TV...........