03/30/2009 5:50PM

Weekend thoughts, etc.


We saw two very talented colts throw it down in the final two furlongs of the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.  Quality Road, the impressive winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, was making his two-turn debut, and got the jump on the widely-hyped Dunkirk entering the far turn.  John Velazquez, on Quality Road, seemed to have things well in hand as he peeked back for the competition midway on the bend.  Then, Dunkirk arrived on the scene with a three wide burst, and the gray actually put his head in front for an instant at the quarter pole.  Quality Road, undaunted, showed a great deal of determination to beat back his main rival in the final furlong, and has to be considered a major Kentucky Derby threat off his last two races. Dunkirk, battling the intensely speed-favoring nature of the Gulfstream Park main track as well as his inexperience, stayed on to his task in the stretch, and galloped out nicely after the fact.  Who do you take in a rematch?  It's a toss-up, but I wonder if we've seen Dunkirk's best just yet.  He may not start in the Derby because of the graded earnings rule, but he's the type to make lots of noise down the road...I thought the Swale disqualification was completely justified thanks to a very poor display of judgement by Eibar Coa on Big Drama.  Coa, who brilliantly found the lead when no other rider was interested in controlling the race, had a choice to make after Big Drama made light contact with This Ones for Phil in midstretch.  The two horses separated themselves from each other after this first, incidental, contact, and Coa should have switched his stick to his right hand to keep Big Drama, fresh off the layoff, from coming out again.  This Ones for Phil seemed to be hanging, and probably wasn't going to go by the game Big Drama in the final hundred yards.  But Coa kept urging Big Drama left-handed and a second, more serious, bump occurred nearing the finish line.  It's a shame that Big Drama had to be penalized as he showed a great deal of class in his return from various physical ailments...Not to nitpick, but Coa's ride on Street Talk'n Man in the finale at Gulfstream on Florida Derby day won't win him any fans either...As I'm going after jockeys, I think one could find fault in Frankie Dettori's "look at me" ride on heavily favored Desert Party in the UAE Derby.  He had every right to be confident as Desert Party had already taken the measure of pacesetter Regal Ransom in their previous meetings, but Dettori was riding the grinding Desert Party like he was Spectacular Bid.  By the time, he got to work on his mount, Regal Ransom was long gone.  I'm not saying Desert Party is the Derby winner, but he's better than what he showed on Saturday...Lost in the hype of the Dubai World Cup and Florida Derby were the weekend performances from a pair of undefeated fillies.  One Carolina, a four-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song, moved her record to a perfect 5-5 after winning the Grade 2 Rampart at Gulfstream on Sunday while Carlsbad, a three-year-old filly by the In Excess stallion Rocky Bar, also won her fifth straight without a defeat with a win in the Santa Paula.


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

*Swale (GP):  This Ones For Phil (R. Dutrow Jr./G. Gomez) - 108 (*Big Drama finished first with a 109 Beyer, but was disaqualified, and placed second)

*Rampart (GP):  One Caroline (G. Arnold II/E. Prado) - 104
*Santa Paula (SA):  Carlsbad (J. Mullins/T. Baze) - 103
*Florida Derby (GP):  Quality Road (J. Jerkens/J. Velazquez) - 103
*Appleton (GP):  Kiss the Kid (A. Tarrant/E. Trujillo) - 101
*Harrison E. Johnson Memorial (Lrl):  Bullsbay (H. Motion/J. Rose) - 100
*Carousel (OP):  Palanka City (T. Gestes/C. Emigh) - 100

*Sensational Star (SA):  Liberian Freighter (N. Drysdale/R. Bejarano) - 99
*Tokyo City Cup (SA):  Stream Cat (P. Biancone/J. Talamo) - 98
*San Miguel (SA):  Triumphant Flight (J. Kruljac/V. Espinoza) - 94
*Strate Sunshine (Haw):  Kathleens Reel (F. Kirby/I. Karlsson) - 91
*B-Connected (DeD):  True Course (S. Margolis/I. Diego) - 91
*Next Move (Aqu):  Weathered (K. Grusmark/M. Luzzi) - 90

*Portland Meadows Mile (PM):  Crafty Power (J. Hollendorfer/J. Crispin) - 89
*Sunland Park Oaks (Sun):  Gabby's Golden Gal (B. Baffert/V. Espinoza) - 88
*Bonnie Miss (GP):  Justwhistledixie (K. McLaughlin/J. Leparoux) - 87
*Sunland Derby (Sun):  Kelly Leak (M. Machowsky/M. Smith) - 87
*Harry W. Henson (Sun):  Prairie Charm (G. Cross/K. Tohill) - 86
*Red Camelia (FG):  Tensas Yucatan (M. Nicks/H. Theriot II) - 86
*Lookout (DeD):  Ruling Class (T. Romero/K. Leblanc) - 85
*Missy's Mirage (Aqu):  By the Light (R. Dutrow Jr./R. Migliore) - 84
*John E. Jackson Jr. Memorial (FG):  Mr. Porter (T. Amoss/J. Graham) - 84
*Happy Ticket (FG):  Alphadoodle (F. Leggio/R. Albarado) - 82
*Rainbow Miss (OP):  Affirmed Truth (T. Ice/J. Court) - 80

*Nodouble Breeders' (OP):  Ain't He a Pistol (W. Howard/P. Compton) - 79
*New Mexico Breeders' Derby (Sun):  Runnin Red (J. Marr/J. Velazquez) - 79
*New York Stallion Times Square (Aqu):  Uncle T Seven (J. Morrison/R. Dominguez) - 79
*Crescent City Derby (FG):  Milwaukee Miracle (B. Young/G. Saez) - 74
*Invitational (PM):  Salt Water (S. Fisher/J. Matias) - 74
*Crescent City Oaks (FG):  Seven Seventythree (S. Asmussen/R. Albarado) - 74
*Baxter (Fon):  Reach One More (D. Anderson/M. Ziegler) - 72
*New York Stallion Park Avenue (Aqu):  Mother Russia (L. Rice/R. Dominguez) - 70

*Rainbow (OP):  Texas Birdstone (S. Asmussen/L. Quinonez) - 69
*New Mexico Breeders' Oaks (Sun):  Oh My Ghost (R. Cappellucci/C. Lambert) - 67

*Donna Jensen (PM):  Jimbos Fire Ant (B. Root/D. Hoonan-Trujillo) - 66
*Royal North (Beu):  Slides Choice (T. Hamm/C. Camaque) - 66

Here are the lifetime past performances highest and lowest Beyer Stakes winners for the week:

Download PhilFire


Joe finished first in last week's HandiGambling exercise, and he chose the sixth race at Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday for HandiGambling 127.  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 127


So Maylan should have a 5 pound bug.  But she is being classified as a journeyman (woman). 
Ray Manley

She goes from being a seven-pound bug to an apprentice in one shot because it took her longer than one full year to earn her 40th lifetime victory.


Dan (and others), why was Big Brown rated so high by so many, including alot of speed/figure handicappers, when his Beyers were not particularly strong from a historical standpoint? Was it just because the others in Big Brown's crop were so slow that his 106-109 figs stood well above any horse he could face in the Belmont? This might explain why so many thought his Belmont win was a forgone conclusion, but it doesnt explain why they would anoint him an all-time great.

It was a combination of hype, the fact that he won from seemingly "impossible" post positions in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby (an overrated situation, in my opinion), his breathtaking win in the Preakness, and his undefeated record going into the Belmont.  Racing fans live in the "now," and we're desperate for a superhorse.  Looking back, we may realize that Big Brown wasn't as fast as some of the other Derby winners, but the numbers are only a part of it.  He displayed such brilliance that you can't help but wonder "what if" his preparations for the Belmont went smoothly.  I'm not sure anyone really mentioned him in the same breath as Secretariat when he was reeling off the Derby and Preakness, but it may have seemed that way from all of the hype and media attention.
The discrepancy between the sheets and the Beyers concerning Big Brown is because of the ground loss Big Brown suffered from in his high-profile races.  The sheets will give extra credit to horses that go the long way around while the Beyers merely measure final time against the variant.


Dan; what does "Buy Back" refer to at auction? Also do the jockeys get paid anything to work a horse in the morning? 
Thanks, Jack

At thoroughbred auctions, sellers will set a reserve or minimum price.  If the horse doesn't fetch that price, the horse has failed to meet his reserve, and is returned to the seller.  It's called a "buyback" because ownership of the horse did not change hands.  The seller doesn't have to pay the final bid price (i.e., they aren't actually spending money to buy back their original property).
Jockeys aren't paid much, if at all, to work horses in the morning.  Exercise riders are employed by trainers to work the majority of the horses in the barn.


I'm just curious for clarifications sake, but, does the track record count for Big Drama or does it go to This Ones for Phil?  I assume Big Drama loses the record (like the race) which was 2/5ths better than the previous record ( which I am guessing still puts Phil ahead of previous record as well ).  I have never seen a track record come down so I am curious if I am right and now TOFP gets the track record?  Thanks for answering in advance

Big Drama will be credited with the track record even though he was disqualified from the top placing.


Was that world cup field that bad? Or was well armed that good? Time of 2.01 was not very fast. that last race he lost to Magnum threw we off I went with a horse for course My Indy. Taht finish was as close to a lottery as you could get in the exotics.

Probably a combination of both although my hunch is the former.  This wasn't one of the strongest World Cup fields in history, and the inside, speed-favoring nature of the track certainly helped Well Armed's prospects.  That being said, he won by a million lengths and looked good doing it.  I'd love to see him come to New York to run on dirt in races like the Whitney and Woodward as I feel he's more comfortable on the real stuff than on synthetics, but wouldn't hesitate to bet against him as he's been exposed as a notch below top-class.


DAN- could you do me a favor again this year and send the charts from last year's Oaks and Derby days? (I've already "got the fever"-wish the plane was leaving tomorrow)
Stephen Taylor

Here they are:

Download OaksDay2008

Download DerbyDay2008


Could you please look at a replay of the 3/27  7th race at Mountaineer.  I bet Sky Sister the first time starter that finished 2nd.  On the replay (especially the headon) I thought she broke slow, lost her path and pulled herself up into the 6 or 7 path, at least 4 wide for the turn and was only beaten by a horse who sat a good trip behind the dueling  group.  The chart comments didn't look nearly as bad as this.  I haven't been able to rewatch the replay.

She ran a nice race although, as with many inexperienced horses, she was green.  She broke poorly, rushed up to press the pace four wide, changed to her right lead on the turn, then changed back to her wrong lead and raced on it until late stretch before switching back again late.  She earned a 69 Beyer Speed Figure.


Talk to you soon,


alanh More than 1 year ago
I was reading on brisnet about Take the Points working out on Saturday, and the writer mentioned that his workmate was "Schramsberg, an unraced three-year-old son of Storm Cat", whose dam is Serena's Song. I have nothing at all against Storm Cat -- although I was floored when a bloodstock expert told me that a great number of his progeny are born with very narrow breathing passages and never become good racers. But why can't Bev Lewis get creative, look at Serena's Song's entire pedigree, and go for a true monster by breeding her to DYNAFORMER?!? Serena's Song is one of my three or four favorite racehorses of all time; I know her foals bring in the bucks at auction, but I'd sure like to see her become the dam of a multiple-Grade One-winning multimillionaire, and I just don't think it's gonna happen with Storm Cat. That said, I'll still be pulling hard for Schramsberg. Nice to know he's in good hands in Pletcher's barn.
Laura More than 1 year ago
Katie? You have your running shoes on? Sat. at Woodbine - Race 6 La Voyageuse Stakes|5F | Purse: $100,000 Pretty Katherine, ML Odds of 9-5
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Question. Has anyone thought who might be the "Go For Gin" in this crowd should the track come up some degree of soupy? I wonder if Laura has thought of the "off track" breeding angle? Someday I will tell my go for gin story, why that race represents an important chapter in my life. One of my favorite plays of all time, without a doubt. The price was ridiculous, but it goes to show just how much weight the public places on the last race. This horse was 3 for 4 in the mud or some such thing. Total mud standout.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Question. For the given Graded horses, is it easier to "get" a mile and a quarter on the grass, as opposed to dirt? The reason I'm asking is that I'm trying to weigh sire data related to the offspring's ability to successfully negotiate a mile and a quarter, and where the data is light on dirt, I'm wondering if I can substitute the grass findings. Ahem.
CM More than 1 year ago
Tinky: I know it is difficult to compare the races, but my point was, at the time, the public thought those horses, and the two from Saturday, were unlikely winners. Arcangues was 99-1 for a reason, Giacomo 50-1 for a reason, and so on. After the fact it is generally easier to find reasons that a particular horse won a particular race. Maybe it is suspicious activity, but maybe it is that the horse was trained by Fabre, or plodded by bad horses. In the case of Eastern Anthem, the argument is that he liked the track, had a good record at the distance coming in to the race, and many of the so called better horses in the field (including the 2nd place finisher, who I had) were coming off long layoffs. Sounds logical to me. I'm interested in your thoughts about Win Willy.
tinky More than 1 year ago
C – " On a visual basis, I know that could be very, very deceiving, as most of those horses were simultaneously decelerating." Correct. Being hard-ridden for a long period is not the issue; making an exceptionally long, sustained run is.
C More than 1 year ago
OK, it's not unprecendented. Here's part of the DRF article: "Although winning a grueling 1 1/4-mile race like the Kentucky Derby off a seven-week layoff will not be easy, it is not unprecedented. In 1915, Regret, one of only three fillies ever to win the Derby, made her 3-year-old debut in the race. Exterminator in 1918 and Triple Crown winner Sir Barton in 1919 also made their first 3-year-old starts in the Derby." What irks me (actually, drives me up the wall and back down again) is the previous paragragh: "In 2006, Barbaro became the first horse in 50 years to win the Kentucky Derby off a layoff of five weeks or more following his win in the Florida Derby. And last year, Big Brown won the Derby off a layoff of five weeks, after also winning the Florida Derby." Again, why is there NO mention about the fact that the Florida Derby, which Barbaro and Big Brown won, was recently MOVED to be 5 weeks before the Derby?!? By comparison, Thunder Gulch and Monarchos won the Florida Derby on March 11 and 10, respectively. Thunder Gulch then went to the Blue Grass, Monarchos to the Wood. I'm sorry, but the DRF writers do more to hype up total NONSENSE than any other source. No wonder so many handicappers buy into these ridiculous conclusions. Another good example is the 12-post at GP thing... I read so many articles that week about how no horse had ever done it, yet none of them mentioned that it was only 0-11 at the time, 1 sample shy of even having the fair-share of starters. Dan, I know you're not in charge of this department, but you guys seriously NEED to hire a qualified statistician to review these articles before they get printed. Anyone who follows racing closely and has a background in data collection has to roll their eyes when they read/hear stuff like this. There is no context whatsoever. It's propaganda.
Shemp More than 1 year ago
HK127 $3 EX Box 1-9-12 $1 TRI part wheel 1/9,12/ALL $1 TRI part wheel 1/ALL/9,12 $22 Win #1 $20 Place #1 The #1 Indigenous Ruler shows a nice inside move two back. I like horses with heart that make moves within the race. The same can be said for the #9 and #12. The #12 can run back to last year's decent $12.5K attempt at Calder.
primo More than 1 year ago
HG 127 Lots to like for the #3, but the price. Big let down last race, makes me want to pass this one. Some very cheap speed here. #3 gets to the rail followed by the #4 and #7. Goes like that up the backstretch with 4 furlongs in 47. #11 moves up on the turn, #7 backs up. At the top of the stretch it's the #3 by 2 lenghts, next comes #4 by a neck on #11, followed by the #1 and #9. Six furlongs in 1:12 4/5. Final 1/16th and the field are closing in, cavalry charge to the wire.......Ladies and gentleman, that will be a photograph. My bet $100 TRI 11/1/9
C More than 1 year ago
Terry, Your tri costs $56, not $42. BigEasy, The big deal over Barbaro entering off a 5-week rest was the how the preps are arranged, not because "history" was somehow against him. The trend-seekers will conclude, probably with little or no vital context, that 7 weeks is impossible because it hasn't been done, and will point to Needles in 1956 as the last horse to win off 6 weeks. However, how many of those horses had 200-pound Larry Jones riding them in the mornings? The LaDerby forces a 4-week/3-week (or 3/4) or 5-week/2-week (or 2/5) spacing. The only other option is to work up to the Derby. I'm sure he'll get enough work, but I'm not overly crazy about betting him for other reasons.