01/21/2012 1:38PM

Weekend Stakes Opinions


Let's take a quick peek at some of the weekend's major stakes races:


Trainer Graham Motion has a powerful duo in the Team Valor-owned uncoupled entry of HOWE GREAT and LUCKY CHAPPY.  The former, a gate-to-wire winner of his grass and route debut here on December 15, is likely to be the bigger price, but looms a strong early factor in what may be a paceless event.  LUCKY CHAPPY, arguably the class of the race after finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, doesn't break very well from the gate and could be compromised by the lack of heat up front.  Also, he was scheduled to ship out to California after the Breeders' Cup, but came down with a high fever and had to miss that engagement. 
Instead, I'll take a chance with ITALO, the winner of the $100,000 Appleton Juvenile Turf in his route debut at Calder on November 12.  Most recently, Italo was seventh at 33-1 odds in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes, but I don't think he had a very good trip that day.  He was steadied a few strides out of the gate, raced far behind while last on the rail and finished evenly through some traffic.  He really didn't have much of a chance coming from last that afternoon, but could be ridden more aggressively leaving the gate today.  He does have a tendency to get a bit rank, but I feel that Italo's last race is better than it looks on paper and he may drift from his 4-1 morning line.  EMPIRE BUILDER had an easier trip when finishing ahead of Italo in the Dania Beach as he rode the pocket and had an opportunity to split rivals in upper stretch.  This will be his second start of the form cycle and improvement may be expected.  COZZETTI has yet to win on grass, but boasts a strong turf pedigree and has been well-regarded by the Dale Romans barn.  He should make his presence felt.



This looks like a wide-open betting affair with several evenly-matched 3-year-olds hoping to find their spot on the Derby trail.  Z DAGER made two moves in winning his maiden over this course and distance on December 15.  He was used early to press the pace along the inside before being shuffled back to the pocket entering the far turn.  When the rail opened up in the stretch, Z Dager re-rallied to post the 14-1 upset.  Trained by Steve Asmussen, Z Dager seems to be improving. This is a huge step up in class for Z Dager, who must prove that he is as equally adept over fast ground, but he has the tactical speed to sit just off the expected solid pace.  His coupled entrymate, the Todd Pletcher-trained DAN AND SHEILA, may hurt the price, but Z Dager figures to offer solid wagering value.  EXFACTOR has won his last three starts for trainer Bernie Flint, but stretches out beyond six furlongs for the first time in his career and his training was interrupted this week when he banged his hind leg.  The gray colt has some talent, but may be bet down from his 5-1 morning line and must answer the distance question.  SEVEN LIVELY SINS earned his sole career victory over polytrack at Keeneland, but he was a game second in the Grade 3 Iroquois contested around a one-turn mile at Churchill on October 30.  He was outsprinted in the Delta Jackpot, his two-turn debut, but passed some tired ones in the late stages to finish fourth on November 19.  Seven Lively Sins has some speed, but his pedigree is somewhat questionable at this distance.  CAPETOWN DEVIL has won all three starts, including a course and distance victory here on New Year's Eve.  He draws a tough outside post position along with the talented SHARED PROPERTY.  HERO OF ORDER looms a pace threat after a five-length maiden score at six furlongs.  MR. BOWLING finished behind Seven Lively Sins when the beaten favorite in the Iroquois and had to skip the Springboard Mile at Remington in December due to illness.  HAMMERS TERROR has done little wrong and can't be discounted for Michael Stidham and James Graham. 



The scratch of Eclipse champion AMAZOMBIE opens things up a bit in the Palos Verdes and I'll give M ONE RIFLE an opportunity to pick up his first graded win since the 2009 Malibu.  After finishing third in his first start following a layoff line in the Cal Cup Sprint, M One Rifle attempted to rally over a speed-favoring cushion track when third in the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes on November 26.  Trained by Bruce Headley, M One Rifle has some tactical speed and may sit in behind the leaders before the real racing begins.  FRUMIOUS won his last two starts for a tag in fast time and has a good amount of early speed.  He must avoid an early duel with EUROEARS, GALIENTOS and COURTSIDE.  Galientos should have sky-high confidence after winning his last two races, but this will be his toughest test to date.  Courtside looked good in the Cal Cup Sprint and has winning experience over sloppy going.  Euroears also runs well on wet going, but his form comes into question as he likely makes the final start of his career.



INCLUDE ME OUT will stretch out around two turns for the first time in the La Canada, but is certainly bred to appreciate this added distance.  Her sire won the Pimlico Special at 1 3/16 miles while the dam has already foaled Check the Label, the winner of the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes on grass at nine furlongs.  Include Me Out was the easiest of winners three back in an entry-level optional claimer over "good" going at six furlongs and was flattered when both the second- and third-place finishers returned to win with 85 Beyer Speed Figures (the third-finisher then scored again with a 94 Beyer).  An even fifth in the Grade 1 La Brea going seven furlongs last time out, Include Me Out may be set for a big move forward in her first start around two turns.  MAY DAY ROSE looms the controlling speed from the rail for Bob Baffert and is a multiple graded winner.  BIG TIZ should improve off her recent sprint, her first start following an injury-induced layoff, but is still eligible for an 'N2L' allowance.  CAPITAL PLAN and TIZ FLIRTATIOUS are both on winning streaks.  The former has yet to race on dirt, however, while Tiz Flirtatious will make her first route attempt here.  GREAT HOT finished ahead of the top selection in the La Brea.  She has a tendency to bleed through her Lasix at times, but is a logical threat on her best day.


Mike Beer and I have some "stakes handicapping preview" videos at the following link:



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

SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Annie I couldn't agree with you more about Breezing, Handily ...designations. As I see them all over the country. I hadn't read about Hansen's workout in detail. Thanks. Also , I love seeing a "breezing " work at Santa Anita , too. :) ...it's the " kinda osmosis" thing my RAH says I get after doing this repeatedly for weeks on end. I get ' it ' without having to study it, lol! :) I guess that is a good thing... Now if I could just apply 'it' to my handicapping and wagering strategies ...lol! Oh No!! Stephanoatsee ...he was my 'wise guy '.. 'under the radar' horse for the Ky Derby . ( with a futures wager at 150/1 ...darn, darn, darn !) Knm...so sorry to see your MKB boy off the trail. But we will follow him post surgery and look for him later this year ...Darn ! Back tomorrow with a couple days of MKB workouts.. Then a break, as Chalky & I & the RAH have fun with our NHC qualifiers Alan and Lil Chok, and their friends, family and our Formbloggers who come to town. See you all soon ! Wheeee !
C More than 1 year ago
Curt, Your thinly-veiled digs at me just confirms that you are another one who doesn't READ what is written. I said nothing about $68 horses or the HG race, which I never even look at in the first place. Get a grip.
Stella More than 1 year ago
Annie: If you have a second MKB draw may I PLEASE have a second choice? NOW: In an alternate universe I have had enough of John Sadler. I am taking Sweet Swap from him since it doesn't appear he has him on the Derby Trail and I am sending him to Bob Baffert. That or he better have a good excuse for not getting him ready.
bobc More than 1 year ago
Alan I'm not 100% sure on this, but I do believe they start the 1 1/16 mile races at Gulfstream at the same spot they begin 1 1/8 mile races. The finish line is set about a 1/16 mile short of the regular finish line. What I'm not sure about is the distance of the "New" finish line from the regular finish line. So if it is not 1/16 of a mile, the difference +/- would be added or subtracted from the 1 1/8 mile starting spot. They do not start on the turn as they do at Belmont; However as I'm sure you are aware, it is still a very short run up to the first turn. If you get one of those races in the contest give interior horses at big odds a second look. If the outside horses in fields of 9 or more are logical make sure they either have enough speed to clear the field or they are stone closers. If they don't fall into this category, they will most likely lose considerable ground around the first turn and will need to be "Much the Best" in order to win. Have a Fabulous time in Vegas!!!!
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
Annie and SR Vegas, Thanks for all your MKB work. I am really waiting for ALGORITHMS to get started. Laura, I really enjoy your posts. Apologies for a late response, but I was interested by the Union Rags / Nijinsky comments. If Union Rags were to prove half as good, the MKB trail would be sorted. C / Allen Poe, Your comments (and others) about betting outsiders intrigued me. In Europe, with so many more really tight handicaps, outsiders in the 10/1 to 25/1 range are more common. I only ever bet favourites in Group 1 races or in doubles and trebles, and so outsiders are the source of most of any profits I manage to make. Looking back at my betting book for the last 2 weeks I see that my winners include a 14/1, 16/1, 20/1, 11/1, 12/1, 11/1, 10/1 and yesterday a 22/1. Don't get me wrong, I spread my money far and wide, sometimes 3 or 4 horses per race, so you are bound to catch a few decent ones every so often. And just to offset the redboarding, I should add that in the same period I managed to bet 15 losers in a row. knm, Yes, I have always associated "nowt as queer as folk" with Yorkshire, but a friend suggests it is more general than that. Do you have historical links with Yorkshire? Lovely county and the beer is much cheaper than in London. blackseabass, Thanks for the thoughts about my brother. Unfortunately, he has long term mental health problems and so "recovery" is not on. We just try to keep it in check. Anyway, enough of the sympathy, when do we next start banging heads together again? Alan, Thanks for the comment and link. I fear I may have overstated my point. I am aware of the probable preference for the horse - I was merely speculating that Frankie Dettori can be very persuasive and the English 2000 Gns is the bigger prize. Wherever he goes, definitely one to watch. Red Duke is an interesting horse (I bet him a couple of times last year - often finds trouble in running), but I have to say that at this stage his Classic potential is not yet evident to me. He is 66/1 for the 2000 Gns and even bigger on the Betfair exchange. Best of luck with him. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
knm More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes, My brother lives in York, and my sister-in-law is a Yorkshire lass. When we visited them in the eighties, we met her parents, and almost needed an interpreter to understand them. But once you caught on to the rhythm of the words, it was OK. (It took me weeks of watching 'The Last of the Summer Wine' to figure out what was going on!)
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downs I may be showing my ignorance here but what does 2000 Gns translate to dollars? MH01
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
BSB, No need for me to look it up, as I follow you around like a lost puppy.......LoL.....I remember the Win Willy bet @Oaklawn, butts:not the others. The only +$100 Win horse I hit was $132.00 while on vacation in Vegas in 2000. & No..I didn't handicap it other than he was my favorite #2, & a 1st time Slewster{no program, I knew the Slewster name} w/a Bullet. Won by 15 & counting...& Yes..I was screaming my head off......Why ? Because in 2000, unlike today, I was Holding.......Heehee..... Your older Sister Smarty & she knew you since you were born ? Don't you think you might want to explain your humor ? Geez.... Rofl.........Some may not get it......
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Bernard , I'm sorry to hear that. I'd rather have little jousts than headbangs with you Sir. Are guineas made of gold ? Do english bloodstock sales still demand payment in guineas ? __________________________________________________________________________________ Meathead , my crime was considered white collar. I would never strong arm anyone or steal from an individual. My victoms were corporations & the Federal Reserve and of C-horse I wouldn't even consider doing something like that as an adult. I like to watch that bald guy Zimmerman that will eat anything sometimes. I watch both Fox & CNN for entertainment purposes only, buttZ... for straight news I prefer C-SPAN which I've watched a lot of since its inception. I understand why most people consider a government hearing or the House & Senate in action boring, buttZ... I'd rather hear something actually coming from someones mouth as opposed to watching someones lips move and having O'reilly tell me what they said. Since I watch the real thing I know when Fox & CNN are lying about what was said, which is 95% of the time. I've been reading two sometimes three newspapers a day since I was 12. Not counting the form. I even watch the Brittish government in action Bernard. Last Sunday nights PMs questions was a Barn Burner !! Lots of booing & cat calling from the MPs. Cameron was taking it up the yang over his involvement with the Murdoch phone hacking incident. I've enjoyed watching Rupert & his son try to lie in the hearings over there as well Bernard . Neither of them are good liars ,buttZ ... they'll buy their way out. I wonder how many righties would love fox so much if they knew it was owned & controlled by Non-citiZens including Saudi Princes ? LOL. ___________________________________________________________________________________ KNM , sorry about Stephanoatsee . I do think he had a shot. __________________________________________________________________________________ CurtV , Thats right it was $68, buttZ... I was close on some of the other things. Heck I can't keep track of all your bombers. :-) The $38 was a couple days later right ? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- P. Ensign LOL. I noticed you weren't playing this shorty . I don't play for the priZe . I do it because Smarty likes to and I like to play along with her. She kicks my butt in scrabble (she'll kick anybody elses butt around here too) so I like to play her at something where I have a better chance LOL. Don't get to confident with that 0 0 0 .I ain't gonna let that hold up !! LOL. __________________________________________________________________________________ Okiesharp , I only caught cold. Just one short bite from a fish not big enough to eat a bait that big. Funny story about the dynamiter !! LOL.
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Chiming in on the News source debate! Using the same handicapper's skills to discern the possibilities and probabilities out of PPs when reading or viewing the News (or as VQ swears by, listening to old time talk radio), helps get by the ideological slant. I used to watch C-Span for important committee hearings, and floor debates, but learned that the relentless desire of our public legislators to play to the cameras was resulting in less news, and more kabuki theatre than I needed. Also, my cable service dropped all but the House coverage, which is pretty much useless. Fox and MSNBC are miles apart, and if you get your "news" (and not their commentary) from both, you can discern some elements of necessary knowledge from their efforts to inform (and persuade). I actually get most of my news from CNBC nowadays, as keeping an eye on volatile markets is a necessity for me. They do a pretty good job of it, especially the Morning Squak Show, 6 AM to 9 AM, albeit it come with a healthy dose of MNSBC originators which the conservative business filters have to purify. And for the News as entertainment, The Daily Show gets my attention. Nothing informs as well as satire. Keith L.
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Jimi , it was sometime in the last 6/8 months I guess. One time it was for Jonah when I posted a few with explanation of how to do it . Another time it was at the request of ?? . The 2nd time I was enjoying myself giving track & race numbers but making riddles to indicate the horse instead of the name. References to stable names ,jocks etc. . I did it that way for a few reasons . First of all, it isn't my job to hand out winners to people that read this blog. Second, because regulars here often make fun of me for speaking in code.;-) Third because it was fun and harder to think up the clues than it was for me to pick the horses. ;-) fourth because I knew most bloggers & lurkers ( not given a name) wouldn't try to figure out the clues, therefore the prices would remain in the range that they should. At some of the tracks a few hundred would have beat down the price significantly. I've said before you're not going to get many coin flips at more than $20 and the avg. is about $7. I never said that coin flips were going to be bombs like Cornholio insinuated I did and they weren't after the fact. They're COIN FLIPS, they don't need to be bombs. If you're looking for them you'll find them everyday. When I posted a few weeks ago *coin flip in SA race whatever number it was* Ron Z went to the race and picked the horse right out. It probably took him 1 minute. He didn't need me to say the name because he pays attention. He's smart enough to know that 5/2 on a coin flip is a gift. That one paid I think 5.60 and won off by a bunch. 5.60 was still a gift. I don't need to post a bunch of selections everyday to feel big. My confidence level is much higher than that. I don't claim to be LSBSB. I have a few niches and I exploit them. Thats what winners do. BTW you have it right. Derby futures are for suckers. How would you like to have a couple hundred on AP Indy ,Eskyrendera, I Want Revenge etc.etc. Its not like Derby day odds are depressed when you actually have an entrant to bet in the gate. _________________________________________________________________________________ C , I've had about 30 of those in my life. Including a $108 placer once. I'd hazard a guess thats more than most around here. 8 in one year !!! Not me . Granted I was an everyday player for a long time and still play a lot. I have had $115 & $147 horses on the same day ! I've never met or heard of anybody else doing that.( just my lucky day ? ?) I've asked the bloggers here to chime in if they have ever done that and nobody piped up. The $115 was Win Willy at Oaklawn and I had him from figuring him the Old Fashioned way (no pun intended if anybody remembers the race lol) The other one was at SA about an hour earlier and I don't remember his/her name. I did bet 3 horses WP in that race though and the form didn't mean anything to me although it was a 2nd timer I believe. Kayla Stra up ??? Maybe LSD can confirm that happened just like I say it did so I don't have to hear anybody say BS ??? I think it was the SA 3rd race buttZ... that might not be right. It was the same day though. Pioneer of the Nile won the next race after that I believe. Smarty was with me that day and she knows I'm not bull sheet. She's known me since the day I was born. I do yell at the horses and the yo-yos under the TVs were saying I was bull sheet after I walked away one second after Poltergiest went under the wire. I know that because Smarty & my buddy stayed to watch the replay and they told me those people were saying, that "Homeless Bum" didn't have those. ( that was a PGH trifecta SR-- WW - Old F - Poltergiest & Poltergiest was also more than 50-1) Needless to say I was having a day that day (for a homeless bum lol) I guess it probably did seem unbelievable that a homeless bum in "threadbare cords and a neon windbreaker" was yelling for two $100 horses to go home in the span of 1 hour. LOL. BTW , there isn't tons of $30 -$40 horses. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Now that I've answered you C, while getting in how great I am:), will you answer me ? Was my laymans explanation of the frequentist interpretation that I gave VQ right ?? Or was it pure bull sheet coming from a guy that can barely do basic math ? :-) I can take the truth.
jimi More than 1 year ago
BSB The 2nd go around sounds challenging without the entries in hand but I'll give 'em both a go. Overlays on even money chances? High % fun and long run gain. Win/Win
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
The man with a little wealth is always trying to convince others how rich he isZ.
Alan More than 1 year ago
Dan, Where do they start 8.5f dirt races at GP? Do they start them in the 8f starting gate and just finish them at the new 2nd finish line or do they start them on the turn a la Belmont? Thanks as always! Also Dan, Can you please suggest to the DRF big-wigs that along with or instead of providing free Racing Forms to NHC contestants, they might want to in the future provide free Formulator PPs for the contest racetracks? Thanks and I'll try to bring honor to Formblog in Vegas this year!