12/18/2010 12:57PM

W. L. McKnight Handicap, CashCall Futurity

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One of the best betting races of the weekend may be the W. L. McKnight Handicap at Calder on Saturday. 

The 1 1/2-mile turf event features a full field of marathoners that have, for the most part, taken turns beating up on each other throughout the year.  Backclassers like Telling and Presious Passion figure to take their share of money, as will the talented, but fragile, Musketier.  I'm going to take a stab with a price horse in this race.

W. L. McKnight Handicap - Calder - Race 11 - Turf FIRM - Scratch #7 (Black Scorpion):

Free Fighter isn't the most consistent runner in the world, but he's good enough to win the McKnight on his very best day.  Trained by the underrated Chris Block, Free Fighter looked good when defeating Telling at this distance in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap back in May.  Since then, he's underperformed while giving the impression that he's a tough horse to ride.  Often, he'd make premature early moves that seemed to take the starch out of his stretch kick.  Last time out, he was in with a chance at Keeneland, but failed to punch it in during the final quarter-mile.  Because his last few races don't look so hot, he'll be a big price, but he's tactical enough to get the jump on the truly late-running types in this field.  I find it interesting that Block goes to jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. for this race.  Although the two haven't paired up in a long time, it's notable that the duo is 16-53 (30%, $3.75 ROI) over the past five years, according to Formulator statistics. 
Telling drops out of the Breeders' Cup Turf, but that race didn't look very strong on paper after the defection of morning line favorite Workforce, and Telling doesn't show a published move in almost three weeks.  If you take away Telling's two wins in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer over the Saratoga inner turf, you'd have to go all the way back to May 16, 2008 (his turf debut) to get his last victory. 
Presious Passion is a true fan favorite, and he'll be on the engine once again.  If the good Presious Passion shows up, the others could be running for second money only, but the good Presious Passion hasn't been seen on the racetrack since February.  He just hasn't looked the same since his poor showing as the favorite in the Dubai Sheema Classic. 
Horses like Memorial Maniac (dropping out of two Grade 1 races in Canada), Bold Hawk (third start following a long, injury-induced layoff), Rescue Squad (could be another late-developing Phipps homebred), and Simmard (back on firm going) also merit consideration.  Prince Will I Am may have the most upside of any, but could be up against it as a true one-run closer.
Selections:  Free Fighter, Bold Hawk, Simmard

I really wanted to bet Hillswick in the seventh race at Aqueduct this afternoon, but four horses have already scratched out, and Hillswick's price should be adversely affected.  I still prefer him to Black Pen, who may go off the favorite based on his triple-digit Beyer from two starts back.

The CashCall Futurity doesn't feature the stars of the juvenile division, but it looks like a good betting race.  Unfortunately, I don't have a strong opinion.  I'd use the following three horses in multi-race wagers.
Gourmet Dinner may have improved with the addition of blinkers in the Delta Jackpot, but he was probably aided by a quick pace up front in a field that featured several distance-challenged performers.  The switch to cushion track is a question mark, but Gourmet Dinner may get another nice setup, and he is proven at the distance.
I'm not sure that J P's Gusto can handle the distance as he looked pretty tired in the waning stages of the Norfolk, but I wouldn't be surprised if the connections try to rate him in the hope of saving his zip for late.  He gets one more chance to prove himself around two turns. 
Clubhouse Ride may be the surprise package.  Third in the Jackpot, he might appreciate switching back to synthetics.  It looks like the son of Candy Ride has put it together in his last couple of races. 

As for some of the other races this afternoon, here are quick and dirty picks:

Gravesend:  Driven by Success, Endless Circle, Ravalo
Prairie Bayou:  Stately Victor, Hurta, Dynamite Bob

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

Back with questions and comments early next week.

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Ron Z, The string of numbers refer to the female part of the pedigree. Anti-dosage so to speak . The blue thongs probably would like this idea. Heres how I stumbled into it . Smarty said why don't they have a dosage system for mares and why is it always about tail-male and female and everthing else gets short shrift. I said the usual, because mares don't have enough offspring yadayada, because its to hard to figure out the middle,etc. Smarty's a novice but she's smart. She breaks codes and stuff like that in those kind of books for fun. So she started trying to figure out the middle. A light bulb turned on and I started going down a different path looking for a pattern in the middle. ( mikeA's uncle) I'll try to explain what I'm doing. It isn't perfectly genetically correct but it doesn't have to be in order for it to be a wagering device. Calvin & Laura are the REAL pedigree experts around here. I'm just a speculator that likes to explore for unknown or unused angles to bet and I like to look at and think about pedigrees sometimes. Thanks Leon Rassmussen. Anyway , mares belong to Families . Males do too, there family is their moms. The number strings only account for the Mares in the horses 1st five generations. Thus if I put percentages of blood with the the numbers (i do) it would not be genetically correct because I don't count males and don't go deeper than five gens. Female families have numbers with letters attached that represent branches like 1-x (calvin or laura can probably tell you which branch likes CD or this and that or which branch has produced the most derby winners ) I was not satisfied with the traditional way of looking at it because it gave me nothing to bet . I was left with a bunch of branches that produced a few winners here and there and no one branch seperated itself clearly from the rest by a big enough margin. What I do is eliminate the letter and only look at the number. When you do that a pattern smacks you in the face. Horses with 1's as there top percentage own the derby. Its 50-50 and they don't make up 50% of the runners. Oila! they're giving money away if your not greedy and don't try to seperate to much. (calvin and laura can probably tell you how many numbers there are ? 30 something i think ?) I thought it would be you or maybe pgm, chicago gerry or jeffrey that would ask WTF is he talking about ? LOL. Good or great horses have had other number tops (big brown, barbaro,winning colors ,ferdinand & the 2nd best horse to ever look through a bridle lol) but 1's seem to just keep coming in with the race of their lives sometimes, in the derby (super saver,war emblem,giacomo,real quiet, grindstone&cavonier,go for gin,sea hero,unbridled) there are great or near great ones too ( smarty jones, silver charm,sunday silence&easy goer, spend a buck, swale, genuine risk). Ok i'll try to stay with the point . A horses tail -female line would give it 5 presences of pick a number in the 1st 5 gens. Which is a head start to having that be the horses top number, but along the way some horses get a different number as a top because of the mares in the pedigree that nobody ever tries to figure out (the middle). So its something like giving them a different family . With all the mares counting equally in the formula.(which wouldn't be genetically correct) The 16 winners since '79 that had what I call 1 as there top had between 19% and 45% 1's in the first 31 mares. I've not went farther back than that because I care about whats happening in this age ,but I'm sure it would hold true if you went all the way back to early derbies that 1's would dominate overall.(someday I will) 5 in the 2000's , 6 in the 90's , 4 in the 80's. I wouldn't put a line through a 1 top that had 16% though. Blackstone's horse is 16-a tail female but has 29% 1's as his top 22% 16's , 19% 13's and 9.6 % 8's . I - 16 - 13 - 8 . look at what I said to blackstone and you'll see the ones that looked like that . several I poor mouthed my boy MO because he didn't have a drop of 1 which is not good for the derby . One winner since '79. On the other hand the next best thing to a 1 since '79 is a 4 (mo) or 23 top. Three wins apiece since '79. Less than10% Ok , Now I'm going to put up a list of memorable and well bet derby horses that weren't 1's so you can see where it all goes. Lookin at lucky - Dublin- Noble's promise and 12 others. (eskendyra to bad he didn't make it then super sav would have paid $40, ICE BOX was a 1 too, so was Sidney he had a tied 1,4 top) SS was i think 39% 1's . (i don't want to shuffle paper to find out for sure right now). Backtalk was a tied top 1 and dean's kitten as well . They were pretty much out on form but i put a couple bucks on them anyway just in case. On HG I put too much into Sidney trying to win the forms and that guy bet the free 100 g's on SS and messed up my HG saver. Here's some more in no particular order. freisian fire* ,hansel * ,point given *, chiefs crown *, lion heart, congaree, sweetnorthernsaint*, snow chief *, sinister minister, Indian charlie* ,musket man, harlan's holiday *, serena's song *, unbridleds song *, peace rules, mecke, arazi *, private terms *, prarie bayou *, talkin' man, captain bodgit *,bellamy road *,pulpit, demone's begone *, skip away, mr. frisky * . a lot more. You get the point. those horses were favored or well bet and they were statistically up against it. Count those beaten favorites *. MO ? C'mon mo keep on winnin' . So even though it doesn't win everytime and you have to bet more than one horse to make sure you don't get ticked at yourself afterward you can wiggle into a profit that keeps coming on a regular basis. I still look at all the normal things cappers look at but for the one hole I 'll concentrate on the 1 tops. If that beats me so be it . It won't the next year. I hope that explanation was not to scattered . One other thing . You'd be surprised looking at some horses who's pedigrees don't look that similar when looking at names that have numerical patterns that look a lot alike.
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
HG 215 some thoughts early on this 2yr.old race #2 Gut Check is improving every race and trainer has good numbers sprint to route and J/T is clicking @ 19% robby will probably take this gelding to the front. #3 Miracle Creek l looks to be one of the favorites but seems to shorten up when it counts. only one work showing vulnerable favorite. #4 Ordinary Time has represented himself every time he has run and annie will have him in position to get the money strong favorite #9 Patrykus rough trip last still stayed in race and finished with interest. sellers got to know him and should be in the thick of it late. #10 No Lip is the one to beat imo.logical choice # 8 Skymax seems to improve second time back and clark gets back on will wait for the scratches but the one is in this analysis. good luck all mh1
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Annie Thanks again for what you are doing in this great idea of the MKB draw. It gives the die hard and the new guy or girl on the block a chance to follow a baby right up to the first Saturday in May. You get the biggest and best present under the tree this year!!!! My quess is that Annie is 1/9 in all winter book's as to who will have the most posting's on Dan's Board. LOL!!! On a serious note. At this time of year, it is important to try and give something back if you can. My sister-in law passed away over 16 months ago from non-smokers lung cancer. It just ate her up in 11 months and she left behind a husband and 2 wonderful boys. At age 46, she died too soon. If you can donate $25 or 30 minutes of your time that would be great. It can be to any cause that you beleive in. I know that she loved the Holiday Season and would decorate the house to the hills. I still have a picture of the family in my office and look at it every day and just cannot beleive it. I know that we all have somebody that we loved that has been taken from us way too soon. I hope that all of us and our families have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season. Thanks Dan for all that you do for us. Whackymacky Out!!
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
BSB, I'm tired, leave me alone......LOL...We had 2 teams in our league out of 8,000 teams, play in the final 2 State Chamionship games..The early game was the team from our own league who we beat earlier in the season & they won 55-14, for the Title....So, the local riff-raff had us at 18 Pt. fav's..they must have given our opponent a pep talk from Joe Namath.....because we played like the '69 Baltimore Colts vs. the New York Jets in the Super Bowl...that, or our heads were larger than say, your 450 lb. ONIONS.....LMAO...I was only a fan, not a player..........this time..Now, we know how Zenyatta feels, you know, the repeat..........& here's the kicker>>>>>>I had to travel to the game solo, because everybody else came down w/ a headache.......froze my gajoobies off..
Caseyjeaux More than 1 year ago
C, In the same vein as Smash, should I be concerned about Sensational Slam's lack of activity since 9/3; or do you think Pletcher is just resting him for the grueling spring? At this point, I would think that the earliest that I might see a start is late Feb or early Mar CJ
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Bsb, I doubt there would be a second career as a show horse for Zenyatta, but it's a nice thought. She would be magnificent in the show ring. My first free off the track thoroughbred was a gelding who ended up with a wonderful aptitude for three day eventing. It was apparent after a couple of months that he was too much horse for a young mother, so I sold him to a dedicated rider who had an Olympic caliber trainer. Special Attention (Believe It x Southern Special) ended up traveling all the way to Sydney for a run at Olympic gold and bowed a tendon in the warm ups! Although he was never able to perform at that level again, he had a long, proud useful 2nd career. BTW, the tequila story was hysterical. Again, I wish I had pictures. They would be Muy Malo! Kyri, Thanks for the heads up on Zen in the snow. Just beautiful. Annie, Great Haskin article......he is such a magnificent writer and for him to turn his column over to a blog responder was a first, at least to me. Abigail's assertion that horse racing is ultimately driven by the fans and that the "old boys" are not realizing that seems valid. Off topic: I caught Brett Fahre's press conference after the game and I have to say that I think it is disgraceful that a man with his stature in the game was put through that experience. It was obvious that the combination of a head injury and pain killers made him somewhat vacant, slow thinking and oddly expressionless. Does anyone have any sense of humanity or decency, or have we as a society descended to the point that all we crave is the next "reality" moment? Did no one have the sense to gently extricate him from that situation and to tell the press that he would speak with them in a day or so? Even my husband who hates the Packers ( or any former Packer) with a vengeance felt sorry for the guy...........and that says a lot. I think captcha is like the 8-ball............."Defense fealme"
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
James Mc, This is this Big East..It aint no one & done..If we don't get you 1/22, we can always get you 2/21.. Jimmy Boheim-er needs some suits from Jay Wright{Mr. Esquire of 2K suit fame}...LOL..& then the season begins in March..I think you meant Gary {U.S. Bonds} McLain......as there was a D. McClain..& the story you presented was true{the C. stuff}..& the Big East fights between 'Nova & Georgetown began in earnest a few years earlier{circa, J. Pinone era}. Being 2 Catholic U's, & Ewing was turned down initially by 'Nova, because on his entrance test, he spelled the word "Can't with Kan't"..., & during a game at the Palestra{U of Penn. home}, there was at least 2,000 banners professing, "Ewing Kan't spell". They stopped the game{I was there, live}'Nova by 30.., for at least 1 hour & fights were everywhere......'Nova fans 'til this day will never let Georgetown forget the hypocrisy of what College is all about........if you aren't College material, one is not getting in 'Nova.......they remind them of that every time they play..........Let the wars begin.........
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Blackstone , I don't even try . I like smoking . I did give up my chaw a dozen years back and I never dip copenhagen anymore either. I like your horse too. He might end up a Lava Man dirt/turf/synth . I wouldn't have traded him either. TBTA, I'm glad you found the story amusing. I was a bit of a wild horse in my youth. Now I'm just an old milk wagon horse. LOL. Z looked like she could jump that fence if she got the notion to, maybe they should add a 5th rail. Curt V , I'm sorry to hear that . At least your boys made it to the final . They'll never forget the moment. Its good to be supremely confident but over confidence can lead to complacency. The other guys don't get to the final on Fly@#$# luck usually, so its best to take them seriously. The big onions story was not to indicate that I'm a Bad @$$ . I'm not . Just not afraid of a challenge. My very last at bat at age 44 came in an Alumni game with the bases loaded & 2 outs in the 11th inning. The kid on the hill was blowing 90 mph gas that I could barely see and had a nasty slider.I knew I couldn't hit what I couldn't see. I got on top of the plate and he tried to brush me back. That was a mistake. The kid knew of me, but he didn't really know me. I leaned in and took a dose in the ribs to force in the game winner. Thats the way I am. The alumni dugout, full of my old guys from the onion patch, that were men in their 30's went nuts doing the Hi- C (for cobra) bash, but they weren't surprised. I drank free shirley's to the wee hours that night. LOL.
brutus More than 1 year ago
Annie, Thanks for my horse Cool Blue Red Hot...I just saw his name over the weekend when handicapping AQ...a horse who was running had defeated him but CBRH was a next out winner. His sire Harlan's Holiday also sired Denis of Corke, Into Mischief and one of my arch enemies Riley Tucker, who cost a me a p4 at CD by winning the one time I didn't use him. I appreciate the work you do for this fun exercise...It has been a help for me by providing some guidance of who is on the Derby Trail...as well as some nice reminders about breeding. Let the games begin! Captcha-Fortione Vagnadatta....never touch the stuff, I'm more of a Brunello/Barollo drinker
brutus More than 1 year ago
Annie, Thanks for my horse Cool Blue Red Hot...I just saw his name over the weekend when handicapping AQ...a horse who was running had defeated him but CBRH was a next out winner. His sire Harlan's Holiday also sired Denis of Corke, Into Mischief and one of my arch enemies Riley Tucker, who cost a me a p4 at CD by winning the one time I didn't use him. I appreciate the work you do for this fun exercise...It has been a help for me by providing some guidance of who is on the Derby Trail...as well as some nice reminders about breeding. Let the games begin! Captcha-Fortione Vagnadatta....never touch the stuff, I'm more of a Brunello/Barollo drinker