09/13/2008 10:31AM

Weekend Stakes Opinions


Big Brown won't get any of my money today.  He's probably going to be up and close to the pace, but so will Kiss the Kid (all five wins accomplished when a length or closer to the early leader at the first call), Get Serious (gate-to-wire winner in his last two races), and Fagedaboutit Sal (pressed a half-mile in 45 flat two weeks ago over this turf course).  If he swats away all of those horses, he'll still have to fend off the closers.  I've never been a Shakis fan, but it looks like he's returning to form after successfully defending his Bernard Baruch title at the Spa.  He has an annoying habit of switching back to his wrong lead in the waning strides of his races, but should get a nice pace to attack here, and he'll be led to the post by Kiaran McLaughlin, a trainer that didn't do much wrong over the summer.  Proudinsky has a tendency to get overeager in the early part of his races, but he goes second off the layoff for the wily Bobby Frankel, and new rider Ramon Dominguez figures to allow the early leaders to run off and set a good pace.  That should benefit Proudinsky, a Grade 2 winner at this distance over yielding going.  He'll be running late.  Ballonenostrikes hasn't won since August 13, 2005, but he's often around the board, and could be a trifecta threat at huge odds.  Silver Tree is a pro's pro, and it wouldn't surprise me if he pulls this off for Bill Mott.  Kiss the Kid has good speed, but it may not be in the same league as Big Brown, and Fagedaboutit Sal is pretty quick from the gate as well.  Kiss the Kid has run some decent races, however, and will make the third start of the form cycle.
Selections:  Shakis, Proudinsky, Ballonenostrikes, Kiss the Kid

Noble Damsel:
Say You Will is a bit of a handful.  She often swishes her tail obstinately when put to pressure, and it's possible that sort of behavior has had a negative effect on her late kick in some of her previous races.  She seemed better in her last start at Churchill Downs, however, and was put in a tough situation once the gates opened.  She broke from the far outside post, was taken in hand to trail the field while down inside, and didn't have much pace to run at.  She ran on for fourth while saving ground throughout, and now reunites with John Velazquez, who was aboard for Say You Will's victory over this course two starts back.  She draws inside today, and may be closer to the pace.  We saw Vacare drop and pop at Del Mar following a couple of poor running lines, and Criminologist will hope today's class relief leads to similar results.  The gray mare looked good winning the Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct, but didn't have the punch in her next two starts against Grade 1 competition.  She's the horse to beat, but she probably won't offer a ton of value.  Sefroua is a granddaughter of Serena's Song, and she won her most recent start at this distance in France.  I'm not sure if she beat much, however, and she's reportedly a temperamental sort to boot.  Plus, she'll tackle older horses for the first time here.  I'll use her in the gimmicks.  Waquoit's Love switches to Garrett Gomez, but I've never been a fan of the big gray's stride.  She has ability though, and should offer some value.  Trouble Maker is a pretty good horse, and she's been in excellent form for Tom Albertrani.  Discount her at your own risk. 
Selections:  Say You Will, Criminologist, Sefroua, Waquoit's Love

Charitable Man was working up a storm for his career debut, and didn't disappoint once the gates opened.  He scooted to the front, and soon opened up an insurmountable advantage over his shell-shocked foes.  The son of Lemon Drop Kid may have to rate from his far outside post in the Futurity, but I think he has the potential to be a good one.  Gone Astray improved second-time out for Shug McGaughey with the addition of Lasix.  He showed a good deal of professionalism in the Travers Day baby race by rating and finishing nicely, and he earned a 90 Beyer as well.  He'll run hard late.  High Mesa went gate-to-wire at Delaware fo Larry Jones, much like uncoupled stablemate  Friesan Fire.  The former, a $7,000 yearling purchase, has good speed, and may set the pace from the rail while Friesan Fire is a $725,000 RNA by A.P. Indy.  Girolamo took all the money for his debut at Saratoga, but had to work mighty hard to win.  He's beautifully-bred, is the only runner in the field with a win at this distance, and has lots of upside. 
Selections:  Charitable Man, Gone Astray, High Mesa

Doremifasollatido was no match for the very fast Mani  Bhavan in the Adirondack, but the New York-bred daughter of Bernstein tried gamely for second-money, and may work out an inside-out stalking trip under Eibar Coa.  She's the most experienced runner in the field, and gets a tepid nod in a competitive Matron.  Miss Ocean City is one of the few first-out winners by Mineshaft, and although she's bred on top for longer distances, she showed excellent speed to win early in the Spa meet for Nick Zito.  She faces some tougher runners here, however, and may have to rate just a tad.  Heavenly Vision goes out for the red-hot "Dan Who," and she ran a nice race to graduate first-out at Saratoga.  She wheels right back in three weeks, and may work out a wonderful stalking trip under Edgar Prado.  Persistently uncorked an eye-catching late rally to win her second start, but the final time came back slow.  Saintly Rose used different running styles to win each one of her two lifetime starts, and was game in overcoming pace pressure to take a 'n2L' allowance at Delaware last time.  The other runners all come off solid maiden scores.  Nice race.
Selections:  Doremifasollatido, Miss Ocean City, Heavenly Vision

Hard to look past Music Note at odds-on here.  She's the fastest horse on paper, and she ran well behind the very game Proud Spell in the Alabama.  It was nice to see Country Star run well last time out after flopping at short odds in the Ashland and Kentucky Oaks.  Perhaps she's finally over some of those nagging injuries that shelved her after her successful juvenile campaign.  Hamsa just missed at this distance last time out, but that was against 'n2x' optional claimers.  Awesome I Am stretches out, has run some decent races, and may show speed from the rail.  Mega's lone win came in a maiden claimer going seven panels.
Selection:  Music Note

Arlington-Washington Futurity:
This should be a good betting race with 14 babies looking to take that next step on the road to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  Terrain is 2-2 over dirt including a 90 Beyer score in the Mountaineer Juvenile.  He has tactical speed, should receive a nice pace setup, and is familiar with Polytrack as he's based at Keeneland for Al Stall.  Capt. Candyman Can pulled off a 19-1 debut shocker for Ian Wilkes at Saratoga, but he probably won't be anywhere near that price this afternoon, and it will be interesting to see if he can handle stretching out two and a half furlongs while switching surfaces.  A repeat of the dirt win makes him an obvious and logical threat.  Ready Racer has good speed, but may bre pressed by My Dominick James, and both are questionable at this distance.  Advice won his debut by eight over this course and distance for Todd Pletcher, and has the look of a promising sort. 
Selections:  Terrain, Capt. Candyman Can, Ready Racer, My Dominick James

Presque Isle Downs Masters:
I'm looking forward to making a solid win bet on Ride Em Cowgirl.  She was involved in a hot pace duel in the Nicoles Dream at Arlington, yet scooted away impressive en route to the score.  She's won four of her last five races, is a winner over the Tapeta surface, and should be promient when they turn for home.  Wild Gams missed a little time after her excellent runnerup effort in the First Flight Handicap at Belmont, but is a closing sprinter that should get a favorable pace scenario.  Not sure how much Dream Rush has left in the tank, but the multiple Grade 1 winner looms the speed of the speed.  Miss Macy Sue was the beaten favorite in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga, and the defending Masters champion shows a couple of bullet works in preparation for this year's renewal.  Dhanyata's last race, a loss over the Arlington turf against males, looks like a nice prep for her return to the scene of her runner-up effort in the Satin N Lace Stakes.
Selections:  Ride Em Cowgirl, Wild Gams, Dream Rush

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

Be back Monday evening with stakes Beyers as well as some responses to some of your comments and questions. 



Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
first of all, regarding Horse of the year-Here are the scenarios in my humble opinions: If Curlin and Big Brown both go in the Classic, winner is horse of the year. If only one of the two go in the classic and wins, that's the horse of the year. If neither go or something unexpected happens in the classic, and Zenyatta, Ginger Punch, Hysterical Ladey, Proud Spell, or Musical Note win the distaff-that's the horse of the year. As for "who's ducking who", in my mind it's simple-North America's biggest race open to all horses 3 and up is the BC Classic. The one who doesn't show up is the "ducker". Dan-disagree with you about criticizing Monmouth for writing a race for Big Brown. One of the most important (If not THE MOST IMPORTANT) functions of track management is to get people out to the track, and since the "Big Brown Invitational" did that, then it was a good idea in my opinion. (I very seldom criticize my fellow bloggers, but a lot of people, including myself from time to time, tend to forget that besides being a wonderful, sometimes exhilerating, sometimes heartbreaking, sport Horseracing is also a business, and many of the decisons made that we don't agree with are business decisions-not always wise business decisions, I'll admit, but business decisions) I'll give you an example-Mike Campbell really wants to win a race at Keeneland, and the plan was to take Erdiston there to try to win a race. When we talked yesterday, he'd realized that the intelligent thing to do was to try and win a NW2 and then a NW3 at Hawthorne and then, if we have to start him for a tag, do it at the Fairgrounds where they've announced a 30% purse increase on top of what were already generous purses.
Mathieu More than 1 year ago
A few thoughts... Zarkava is an amazon but has she repeatedly beat up on the boys as Ouija Board and Pride did a couple years back? Not yet so let's not christen her Ruffian quite yet. Although she does remind me of a recent SoCal favorite Megahertz in her wide last chance power drives. Maybe a click or three classier since Megahertz started as a claimer in Europe before landing with Frankel. A matchup that quickens the pulse is the mere thought of Zarkava facing Zenyatta if she takes the Arc. It won't happen as Zarkava would be coming over on three or four weeks rest, cutting back three furlongs, AND running on a foreign surface but if the plan is to retire her this year the connections may get itchy to conquer America and take Zenyatta on for world Filly honors. Not likely to occur but if it did materialize that would be hands down the most anticipated race of the weekend IMO. *** As for the Sunday Silence-Easy Goer Preakness I'm of the opinion the replay does not get much airtime in the Pat Day living room nowadays. Why a HoF jock would gun a dead closer who broke two lengths behind the field into a 45 flat half mile after the first quarter to hit the lead is something even Jaime Spencer would chuckle at. What happened to "Patient Pat"? I'm of the belief that EG was open lengths better than SS but Day rode his mount as if he received a Tour De France style time deduction if he had the lead for designated points in the race. What? Free crabcakes for the grandstand if he beats the Derby winner to 6F's and the wire? *** Pedrozaville is a five furlong bullring. Other jockeys have been known to win as many races for the meet as the namesake did in the first three days but it's not a frequent occurrence. *** Four months ago I posted my preference for Big Brown to skip the Travers and aim for the Arlington Million as in my mind beating an international field of older turfers would bolster the ole resume far more than adding a fourth or fifth dirt GR1 over the usual suspects. After watching him cruise this last weekend my belief was confirmed. He would've handled the Million crew and added a fine feather to his breeding hat. My previous post also included the argument that if he were to take BC Classic after that he would be the first horse to head off to his pleasure shack with classic GR1's on dirt, turf, and synthetic. Here's my question: Tinky, Would breeders value 6 dirt GR1's over a new age Triple Crown of dirt, turf, and synthetic? *** A final thought on Big Brown. His pattern of works going into the race would've moved me to throw him out even if he was a 25k maiden claimer at Fairplex. Remember, as a 2YO he was working 6F's in 1:13 and heading into the Derby he was regularly breezing 5F's in a minute flat. What if he wasn't fully cranked? Kent rode him with terrific confidence the length of the stretch while he was encroached upon from both sides. The ultimate objective was to get a good race into BB while not overextending him but coming off two questionable rides (to put it mildly) if Kent doesn't win the race Bird, McHale, and Parish may not be walking through that door but Edgar Prado may. For Kent to just knuckle BB through the stretch like he did indicated he had lots left. If the works leading up to the BC Classic are all clicked off near the vicinity of 12 flat per furlong and Kent puts him into the race early the result will be something we have yet to see. A large leap forward for Big Brown.
Leo More than 1 year ago
Steve T.'s race of the day: I am not too familiar with Fairplex so I treated Steve T’s race as if I was visiting a track I’ve never visited before for the first time. The race being a Cal St $32k MClmr for 3+ F&M with all eight runners having had at least one race looks like it is playable. I first approached this by trying to eliminate half of the runners. I noticed that Lil Graceful Lea and Dixie Dot Chance both last raced in the same race. I watched the replay and they didn’t reveal much. DDC did show some effort in the stretch, but with the shortened/tighter track, shouldn’t get involved in this one either. I eliminated both. Quiet Advice hasn’t raced since July 11th at Hol. She didn’t do much then and the trainer has no record, so I’ll take a chance on her not making this one her break out victory or even hit the board – eliminated. This is my Song also didn’t impress in her only race by getting off slow and following others with little display of any speed – eliminated. This left four horses: Friendly Mystery, Tizzalating, Hooked on Nine, and Tattler. Of these, Tattler has Pedroza on board and has added blinkers. Hooked on Nine showed some bursts of speed, but has been restrained. Tizzalating looks to be the pace setter and may control the race on the lead. Friendly Mystery has had some good recent works and last was over the track. I think Tattler and Tizzalating will be drawing most of the attention, but I like the early speed potential of Friendly Mystery and possibility that Hooked on Nine will be allowed to run without restraint. My play on this race would be Hooked on Nine to win with a Friendly Mystery and Hooked on Nine Exacta Box with a backup exacta of Tattler over HO9 & FM. Anyway, that’s how I would approach this race and since you’ve teased me again with another race challenge, it looks like it will cost me some money to follow up on it. Good luck to all.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Tinky I don't totally disagree with your point. I thought the link I posted about Big Browns Pedigree & Biomechanics gave a good point of reference. I won't bore everyone with my attempts to cut & post parts of the article. But the first paragraph caught my eye: "In the statistics-oriented world of Gary Knapp, Ph.D., Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown is an outlier, a horse so unusual when compared with his peers that he appears out of place." ...and I see that Boundry was in the money in GR I, II & III races, but not stellar. I'm not going to try to push this point, only to say, maybe "pathetic" pedigree...may have been presented with another adjective. My initial interpretation of "pathetic" is well, to be pitied. In 3 generations There is nothing to pity about having Danzig, Northern Dancer and Damascus as your grandad, & great Grandaddy on the sire side, or Nureyev, Northern Dancer, and Lear Fan as your grandad, & great Grandaddy on the dam side ...go back 4 or 5 generations and then you see Neartic, the great Nearco, Round Table and Princequillo. I don't want to hash words, but even the breeder said the dams were unraced, or unplaced in races, & he bought his first mare in foal. "Knapp's connection to Big Brown goes back to 1998, when he bought a 6-year-old Lear Fan mare named Miasma for $350,000 at Keeneland's November mixed sale. Miasma was carrying a Nureyev filly, now named Mien, that would foal Knapp's Derby winner seven years later." What I was trying to show after my posting the link was, many things happen when you don't expect them. Here's the link again, I really urge anyone not familiar, to read it. It is quite interesting: http://www.drf.com/news/article/94430.html Tinky, You, IMO have a VERY HIGH standard to how you approach and view Breeding. And you must have the qualifications to support this. I won't EVEN try to debate this, me being the neophite in all this. But truly would love to learn from what you know. I learn something every day from our generous posters here. By now, you must accept that this formsite is about sharing information, and a lively debate. Sometimes I think you are brilliant, and sometimes I think you are acting like a Tinky. Really, all this is said with the most respect. SR Vegas
Annie More than 1 year ago
PGM, I enjoyed the story of your day at the races with Midwest Ed! It sounds like you had a great time. Annie
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I think Tinky makes an excellent case for BB to run again next year, which is possible if the stud contract is bought out or something like that. I have to believe that the value of running this amazing animal outweighs his stud value in year 1. I don't see him losing at 4, although if he were to, I'm sure it would be spectacular. I think BB is clearly superior to Curlin on Turf (and that is a complete no-brainer, imo). He's probably superior on synthetic (which is why they won't run Curlin in the Classic). As for dirt, I'd like to see Curlin's next before expressing an opinion. As for horse of the year, I think it's BB's to lose. I don't think Curlin deserves it for simply coming back to race at 4 - as a reward. That just seems silly to me, let alone completely wrong. Crist's blog has at least 2 entries that support the idea that BB was life/death to hang on, and would have been beaten if the race went another 1/16th. Ad there are a few others who desperately want to lean that way. It's all good.
Annie More than 1 year ago
ktalbany, Welcome to Formblog!! That was a funny story. I guess it would make quite a difference. Sorry you lost money though. I think we've all experienced some goofy loss somewhere along the line. Like betting the post number instead of the horse's number. I think you'll like it here. We do have some fun as well as learn a tremendous amount about horseracing. A lot of great handicapper's on here and very nice people. Enjoy! Annie
tony kelso More than 1 year ago
Hi KTALBANY welcome to Formblog! I like Steve Crist's posts a lot, but in in general when I read that 'other' blog it seems like there is less enjoyment of the racing/betting experience. Sorry about your turf bet at Calder. I know for sure you aren't the first one who bet the wrong race, or handicapped a race incorrectly because you were not correct on the race conditions. I have done it before. POWER RACES Lately I am trying to focus on these types of races to avoid confusion, preserve my bankroll, and play to my strengths (in order of preference, dirt or synthetics are OK, I prefer dirt): 2yo maiden races. Turf sprints. 1 turn NW1ot and NW2ot dirt races. Turf routes on VERY FIRM ground (Think Hollywood summer, Del Mar or Oak Tree) where I KNOW the condition of the turf course and how it can effect the competition, and there is little change in the amount of water in the course from day to day, race to race. 3 and Up MSW around 1 turn. OPEN claimers $5,000 to $50,000 around 1 turn. Any other type of race I have learned, especially after a lot of play this summer, is less of a high percentage play and much more of a gamble for me. What I am doing now is looking at my main tracks (Remington, Belmont, some Turfway, Keeneland and Oak Tree) for pick 3's that contain at least 2 (and hopefully 3) races of my "strong suits" and then play $18 to $48 combinations in "caveman" pick 3 plays, depending on my handicapping of the races. In general I won't put in a play for more than $36 unless I see a huge opportunity with an unraced maiden that I would expect to win at 8/1 or greater. I also rarely single races, as most singles are obvious to the crowd and depress payouts. By definition, I am looking for races where the favorites figure to be 7/2 or 4/1. Races where the crowd thinks the race is very wide open, but I can get it down to at most 3 horses, ideally 2, because they are my POWER RACES. The logic here is I will be more able to play races that I am comfortable with and be better equipped to identify good favorites from bad, and longshots that have a chance versus longshots that should be avoided. As far as method, I have had my best pick 3 results this summer, by far, and I am hopeful this will work through the Breeder's Cup at Santa Anita. If I don't hit some "signers" this fall I am going to be disappointed. :-)
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
RE: Stallion Stud Fee Opinions I think that this discussion of Big Brown's future stud fee and then likihood of stallion success is very interesting. I'm pretty much in complete agreement with Tinky. My best guess as to where the commercial breeding market might take a shot with BB is somewhere around the $30K level. For the record, I wouldn't pay this (in additional to all of the points that Tinky has raised, I'll add that I discount the racing performance of horses trained by prodigious cheaters like Dutrow). Given that Three Chimney grossly overpaid for their stallion interest ($10 million for 20%??), they might list a stud fee much higher but the reality would be that they will be cutting serious deals in a desperate attempt to get BB some decent mares. Frankly, I wouldn't pay $20K... As far as The Green Monkey, this is an absolute joke! I can't see anyone actually paying $5K, in fact I wouldn't breed to him for free due to the carrying costs of the mare and then potentially adversely affecting her produce record. Opportunity cost with a poor stallion selection can be significant. For $5K, you can get much better pedigree with stakes winning accomplishments (i.e. Roaring Fever in NY, and you can actually get him for less than $5K right now)...
Tinky More than 1 year ago
johnnyz – I've addressed a couple of your issues in my response to vicstu. As to these: "What if Michael Hernon of Gainesway had your mindset? Look Tinky exceptional horses just like exceptional people tend to accomplish extraordinary feats." There are plenty of people involved with stud farms who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with Big Brown. Michael may well be one of those, given that he works for Gainesway. Big Brown is an exceptional horse, but given the data produced by hundreds of years of breeding, he is unlikely to reproduce his success at stud. In other words, he is very likely to underperform at stud. "Lets at least let the the guy hump one before we bury him as a chump sire." First of all, Robert Clay would prefer that you use the expression "make love". Secondly, I'm simply talking about odds. It is possible that he will defy the odds at stud. I just think that it would be foolish to bet on it.