04/06/2009 2:02PM

Weekend thoughts, Beyers, questions

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There were so many great races and pieces of news this weekend that my head was spinning with all the action.  Yet the question that stood out in my mind most of all was:

What in the world was Jose Valdivia Jr. doing on Rail Trip in the Santana Mile?

The undefeated hype horse of the handicap division was three in front and in cruise control at the quarter-pole of Saturday's Santana Mile at Santa Anita.  Valdivia, still as a statue, remained motionless on the 1-5 favorite as Rafael Bejarano, riding second choice Dakota Phone, kept on riding...and Dakota Phone kept on gaining.  Valdivia remained in a slumber as Dakota Phone got to Rail Trip's hip.  Chalky the Weasel started to faint as Dakota Phone edged to Rail Trip's neck.  It was at this point that Valdivia began to push with 20 yards to go.  Rail Trip won...by a scant nose...and it's hard to imagine what the lightly-raced horse got out of the race.

Sorry to contribute to the "over the top" hype concerning I Want Revenge's Wood Memorial win, but it was a remarkable performance.  He's four slow coming out of the gate, in and among horses throughout, bumped in midstretch, and still comes through to win fairly handily.  It was a special race marred by the incident where Jeff Mullins was caught administering a substance to I Want Revenge's stablemate, Gato Go Win, in the race-day detention barn.

http://www.drf.com/news/article/102770.html

Once again, without a zero-tolerance policy on any sort of indiscretions, our beloved sport will continue to be perceived negatively by the majority of the public.  The health of the racehorses has to come first and foremost.  If a trainer needs to administer a substance in the detention barn (i.e. break the rules) to get a horse race-ready, then he or she is endangering the animal, the jockey that rides the horse, and the public that is betting on the races.  We've mentioned on FormBlog the need for zero tolerance.  If a trainer is caught cheating, there must be a substantial fine and penalty.  Two strikes, and you're out for good.  Until we get a national zero-tolerance policy, the cheaters will find loopholes until the cows come home.

Imperial Council showed that he hasn't learned much since his debut last summer at Saratoga.  That day, he threw himself in the paddock.  He wasn't any better in the Wood. 

Kodiak Kowboy won the Carter, but Fabulous Strike showed why he's such a crowd favorite.  The brilliant, but brittle Fabulous Strike was hounded every step of the way, yet was still in front inside the sixteenth pole.  He found that final furlong a bit too much, however, and yieled to Kodiak Kowboy in the shadow of the wire.  If Fabulous Strike stays healthy, he's the sprinter to beat this year...until the Breeders' Cup.  Fabulous Strike didn't seem to handle that Pro-Ride surface in 2008.

The gap between Rachel Alexandra and Stardom Bound continues to widen in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Oaks...Or does it?  Rachel Alexandra won the Fantasy without any sort of urging, but got an easy lead up front.  You have to think that someone will run with her in the Oaks, right?  At least Calvin Borel didn't do the hula dance as Rachel Alexandra cruised under the wire.  Stardom Bound didn't do much in the Ashland, but she'll be second choice in the Oaks, and maybe she'll like the dirt.  I'm beginning to look for Oaks longshots myself.

Musket Man continues to be professional and productive.  He lacks the wow factor, but he gets it done, and deserves a berth in the Kentucky Derby after his solid showing in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Park.

Pioneerofthe Nile was washed out and overeager in the Santa Anita Derby, but he also keeps getting it done.  Most handicappers are bearish as to his chances on dirt, but what if he likes it?  The Derby comes down to your perception of value.  If a California synthetic horse is being ignored, he may be worth a play.  Remember I Want Revenge?
Conversely, if they're overbet, you may not want any part of them. 

Sad to see The Pamplemousse out with an injury, and now Quality Road is showing some signs of wear and tear with a quarter crack.  Dunkirk and Friesan Fire keep looking better and better.

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Congrats to Randy for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He has selected race nine from Oaklawn for this Wednesday's test.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling 128

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Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figure from last week's stakes races:

*Oaklawn (OP):  It's a Bird (M. Wolfson/J. Leparoux) - 107

*Carter (Aqu):  Kodiak Kowboy (J. Jones/J. Velazquez) - 104
*Wood Memorial (Aqu):  I Want Revenge (J. Mullins/J. Talamo) - 103
*Potrero Grande (SA):  Soul City Slew (J. Carava/M. Baze) - 102
*Skip Away (GP):  Finallymadeit (J. Negrete/E. Nunez) - 101
*Fantasy (OP):  Rachel Alexandra (H. Wiggins/C. Borel) - 101
*Apple Blossom (OP):  Seventh Street (K. McLaughlin/R. Maragh) - 100

*Princess of Palms (TuP):  Shesa Private I (B. Hone/J. Barton) - 99
*Bay Shore (Aqu):  Capt. Candyman Can (I. Wilkes/J. Castellano) - 98
*Kinsman Turf Classic (Tam):  Fearless Eagle (E. Plesa Jr./E. Trujillo) - 98
*Illinois Derby (Haw):  Musket Man (D. Ryan/E. Coa) - 98
*Santana Mile (SA):  Rail Trip (R. Ellis/J. Valdivia Jr.) - 98
*Primonetta (Lrl):  Access Fee (L. Murray/L. Garcia), Cammy's Choice (E. Lehman/J. Pimental) - 96 (*dead-heat)
*Arcadia (SA):  Dixie Chatter (R. Mandella/T. Baze) - 96
*Santa Anita Derby (SA):  Pioneerof the Nile (B. Baffert/G. Gomez) - 96
*Providencia (SA):  Acting Lady (D. O'Neill/V. Espinoza) - 95
*Excelsior (Aqu):  Giant Moon (R. Schosberg/E. Prado) - 95
*Las Flores (SA):  Sweet August Moon (B. Koriner/A. Gryder) - 94
*Hilton Garden Inn Sprint (Tam):  On the Vineyard (L. Scace/W. Martinez) - 92
*Wildcat (TuP):  Allegre (M. Chambers/J. Barton) - 91
*L and D Farm Turf Distaff (Tam):  Quiet Meadow (C. Brown/E. Trujillo) - 91
*Ashland (Kee):  Hooh Why (D. Dupuy/C. Lanerie) - 90

*Smart Coupons (Aqu):  See More Spirit (J. Hertler/S. Morales) - 89
*Central Bank Transylvania (Kee):  Stormalory (W. Mott/J. Leparoux) - 89
*Yerba Buena (GG):  Restless Soul - GB (B. Cecil/C. Schvaneveldt) - 88
*OBS Sophomore (Tam):  Bee Cee Cee (E. Plesa Jr./D. Centeno) - 87
*Dowd Mile (Fon):  The Nutz (S. Hall/D. Leeds) - 86
*Dayton Andrews Dodge Sophomore Turf (Tam):  Tamborim (W. Mott/D. Centeno) - 83

*La Voyageuse (WO):  Mullins Beach (M. Pierce/P. Husbands) - 79
*Capt. Billy Boogie (TuP):   One Call (K. Person/M. Hernandez) - 79
*Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies (Tam):  Snow Lass (L. Scace/R. Homeister Jr.) - 79
*Arizona Stallion (TuP):  Frisky Ricky (W. Whitehouse/A. Kato) - 71
*Manor Downs Distance Cup (Man):  Burbon Road (J. Torrez/L. Taylor) - 70

*Treasure Town (TuP):  Palace Mistress (D. Sowers/S. Martinez) - 67

Here are the lifetime past performances of the highest and lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:

Download It'sPalace

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Dan,
Could you please tell me why Andy Beyer adjusted his Fl Derby Figs from 103 to 111 for QR and 100 to 108 for Dunkirk Respectively? I mean ive seen them adjust a point or 2 but 8 points! Holy Cow!
JZ

Here is what Beyer said in the DRF:

"The figure for the Florida Derby looked low," Andrew Beyer said, "and on the previous day, the Bonnie Miss Stakes also [at 1 1/8 miles] came up about 10 points slower than we would have expected. As we reviewed other races, we concluded there had been a change in the historic relationship between times at 1 1/8 miles and other distances at Gulfstream. We don't know why, but we did know that many of the 1 1/8-mile figures had to be increased."

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Dan - what is up with the older male divisions? I know it has been overstated with the horses going to the breeders earlier- but these races are so weak.
MTC

You're right.  The Dubai World Cup result told us that the division is weak.  Einstein is a very likeable horse, but it's hard to envision him as the best handicap horse in the country.  Commentator hasn't run this year, and he has to be considered top ten.  Albertus Maximus is out of action.  Georgie Boy is more a sprinter or miler.  It's a Bird, on occasion, runs a big race, but has also been rather exposed in major races.  Maybe Rail Trip is the real deal.  It's obviously a bit too early to speculate, but don't you think Zenyatta is licking her chops at the prospect of facing these males?
Unless the bottom falls out of the breeding industry, we're going to continue seeing weak handicap divisions.  Owners of quality horses can't pass up the allure of the big money of the breeding shed.

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The Pamplemousse is out. Anyone know what happened?
Jeff

Unfortunately, he's going to miss a substantial amount of time:'

http://www.drf.com/drfNewsArticle.do?NID=102759&subs=0&arc=1

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That's how I ended up hanging with Harry Aleo, what a character!
BTW, does anyone remember the name of the nice, big black horse he had after Lost in the Fog. He ran at the Monmouth BC and laid an egg?
turnbackthealarm

turnbackthealarm:
Are you thinking of Smokey Stover? That horse was an excellent sprinter, winning over half his starts, including the Sunshine Millions Sprint w/ a big Beyer.
GunBow

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Dan, I noticed that Elusive Heat is on your diabled list. What happened? I know she was scheduled to run at the Big A a few weeks ago, but was pulled. Any word on how long she's out? Any chance of still making the Ky. Oaks? Not that her pedigree was condusive to the distance though. I am a huge fan of Xtra Heat and Elusive Heat seems to be her most talented offspring yet. Is she in foal or expecting this year? If so, who was she bread to? Any chance of listing Xtra Heat's offspring and their PP's?
Michael Mc

From Mike Farrell's article in the 3/13 DRF:

"McLaughlin looks poised to nab another victory Saturday with Dream Play in the Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Dream Play is the one to catch from the rail in the six-furlong race, which attracted six runners.
McLaughlin appeared to have a stranglehold on the race with both Dream Play and Elusive Heat, a 13 1/4-length allowance winner last time out at Gulfstream Park, on target for the Cicada.
Elusive Heat was notably absent, however, when the entries were drawn Wednesday.
"We had some issues and we had to take her out of the race," McLaughlin said. "We've got to get her sound and figure her out.""

She hasn't worked since late February, and it looks doubtful that she'll make the Oaks. 

Xtra Heat is currently in foal to Street Cry.  She has a yearling colt by Songandaprayer, and an unraced juvenile filly by Unbridled's Song named Don't U Baby Me. 
Here are the past performances for her other foals:

Download Xtra Heat foals

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Dan,
Would you be so kind as to give me CC's Beyer in the SA Derby? Make it good. :)
Annie

Chocolate Candy received a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the Santa Anita Derby.

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Great opinions from our posters, as usual, this past weekend.

Talk to you soon.

Dan