04/24/2009 4:01PM

Weekend thoughts, Beat the chalk, etc.


Let's play "Beat The Chalk" for a few of this weekend's major stakes races:

Melair (Hollywood - Race 6):

Beatable favorite:  BELTENE
Possible upsetter:  CHALULA ONE

Beltene looks tough on paper.  All five of her career Beyer Speed Figures are better than the last race number earned by each of her rivals.  But Beltene looked absolutely terrible in her most recent start.  In that race, the Santa Paula on March 29, she didn't change leads during the stretch drive, and simply looked dull.  Beltene also is unproven beyond six furlongs, and must navigate two turns in the Melair.
Chalula One tries two turns for the first time, but I like her recent work pattern.  She shows a couple of long, stamina-building works followed by a three-furlong "blowout" three days before the race.  Chalula One looked good winning a sprint, makes the two sprints to a route move in the third start of the form cycle with improving Beyers on display, and should offer some value.

Miami Mile (Calder - Race 9)

Beatable Favorite:  MAMBO MEISTER
Possible upsetter:  VANQUISHER

Mambo Meister has earned two triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures from his last three races, but he missed some time after his last race due to some filling in a leg.  He's won off injuries in the past, and has a good deal of class, but this is a pretty solid group, and Mambo Meister will have to be at 100% fitness if he is to score. Vanquisher was stymied by slow fractions in his last two races, but the pace should be solid with Granizo, Scientist, and Baron Von Tap in the field.  He should also be able to save valuable ground after breaking from the inside post. 

Texas Mile (Lone Star - Race 10)

Beatable Favorite:  HALO NAJIB
Possible upsetter:  JONESBORO

With Smooth Air scratched due to a bout with colic, Halo Najib, a horse riding a ten-race losing streak, looms the probable favorite.  Add in that he's never won on dirt, and is still eligible for a 'n3L' condition, and you may do well to look elsewhere. 
Jonesboro suffered from tender feet after his seasonal debut at Oaklawn, but now makes his third start back, and was hounded every step of the way in the Oaklawn Handicap by the sharp It's a Bird.  Jonesboro should be a strong pace factor in this spot.


And as several have pointed out, it is the stalker contingent that will decide this race - if they move too soon, the closers will run them all down. If they move too late, Regal Ransom could just steal the whole thing. Is there a pace scenario that makes sense for the large stalker group? I am not sure there is - does anybody see a stalker type scenario?
Steve T

I think the horses with tactical speed will do just fine in the Derby.  If there is a hot pace, they can relax 5-7 lengths off the leaders while the closers have to worry about traffic and ground loss.  If the pace is moderate, they can be sitting chilly while three off the lead, and get the jump on the late kickers.  A horse like Friesan Fire, with his Funny Cide-like tactical speed, may work out a nice trip.  He can stalk the expected average fractions, make his move on the turn, and then hope he's the best.


Also, we don't have fractional times to know how fast Regal Ransom was running in his races @ Dubai. It didn't look like he was blazing out there from watching the races on tv. I would guestimate he was going about high 47's low 48 half's out there. Who's to say he even gets the lead, unless he's absolutely sent?

According to emiratesracing.com, here are Regal Ransom's splits for his three races in Dubai:

UAE DERBY:  24.64, 48.18, 1:13.06, 1:37.39, 1:50.00
UAE 2000:   24.97, 48.13, 1:12.33, 1:38.38
FORD FLEX:  24.78, 47.56, 1:11.62, 1:24.50


Thanks for the Derby Trivia.  If I'd had to guess I would have guessed that Canonero II would have been the cheapest auction buy.  Somehow $1,500 sticks in my head.  Could you check what he had sold for? Thanks
John V.

You're absolutely right.  Sorry about that.  Canonero II sold for only $1,200 at the 1968 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.  Dust Commander ($6,500), Venetian Way ($10,500), Bold Forbes ($15,200), and Silver Charm ($16,500) round out the top five "Ugly Ducklings."


Dan - could you please provide Personal Hope's past performances?

Here they are:

Download Personal Hope


Has a Ky Oaks winner ever came back and ran in either the Preakness or Belmont and if so how did she fair? I think if it where possible Rachel could pull it off!

Rags to Riches won both the Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes.
Silverbulletday won the Oaks in 1999, and finished seventh in the Belmont.


Who is being pointed towards the stakes undercard on Derby Day, specifically the turf races, such as the Woodford Reserve?

Here are some possibles for the Woodford Reserve:
Thorn Song
Cowboy Cal
Court Vision
Zambezi Sun

For the Humana Distaff:
Indian Blessing
Informed Decision
Secret Gypsy
Game Face

For the Churchill Downs Stakes:
Kodiak Kowboy
Fabulous Strike

For the Eight Belles Stakes:
Just Jenda


As a memory, one of my favorites is the 1997 Kentucky Derby. I can watch that race over and over and everytime I do, there is a moment in the race, I could swear Captain Bodgit is going to go right by Silver Charm. Of course, it never happens and that race is still one of my flagship examples when I want to show someone about the character, heart and class of a race horse.

Psst.  You guys didn't get this from me, but here are the pp's for the 1997 Derby (in order of finish).  Are there any similarities to this year's field that you can exploit in your handicapping?

Download 1997 Derby


Congrats to JP FL for finishing first in this week's HandiGambling contest.  Installment #131 will be the Kentucky Derby.  bobc and Alan came up with an idea for this contest:

Regarding HG 131
Any or all of the following is subject to Dan making any additions or deletions.
The Race of the week is the Kentucky Derby.
The total bankroll is $100.
The Addition: You can take any or all of that $100 if you so choose and make an Oaks/Derby Double.
If you make a double you must remember to deduct the amount of the double from your total $100 bankroll. You can use the rest to wager on the Derby much the same as we wager on any HG race.
If your wagers on the Oaks/Derby Double and your Kentucky Derby wagers exceed $100. you will be disqualified.
Additional Prize:  Alan has graciously offered to send the winner a copy of Dan's book.
All contestants are kindly asked to submit reasons for their selections. Remember this is the Kentucky Derby we should all have a strong opinion on the race. Let's share it with each other.
Make life easier for Cayman:
If we choose to wager on the Oaks/Derby Double on Friday and wait until Saturday to wager the rest of our bankroll, it would undoubtedly help Cayamn to determine the winner, if in making our Derby wagers we would include somewhere in our wager the fact that we did bet the Oaks/Derby Double. State the bet and the amount so that Cayman won't go crazy trying to piece together two bets made at different times.
This will also help to insure that you did not exceed the total wager limit of $100.


Back with more Monday.

Enjoy the weekend.