06/13/2012 4:23PM

A Wild Triple Crown Season


The Triple Crown series consists of 31.5 furlongs of grueling competition at three racetracks within a five-week time period. 

Is it any surprise that a horse hasn't swept the Big Three since Affirmed in 1978?

It's been a wild season thus far for the 3-year-old crop. 

From Dr. Kendall Hansen wanting to paint his juvenile champion's tail blue for the Blue Grass to Javier Castellano opting for the now-sidelined ALGORITHMS over UNION RAGS prior to the Fountain of Youth to HERO OF ORDER's 109-1 shocker in the Louisiana Derby to detention barns, nasal strip and shockwave therapy controversies to I'LL HAVE ANOTHER's unfortunate injury and retirement. 

Just about anything has happened.  And we still have six months to go!

I'll Have Another's racing career is over, but we still have Union Rags, BODEMEISTER, PAYNTER, HANSEN and several other late-blooming 3-year-olds to contest the division's richest prizes this summer. 

As for the Belmont Stakes itself, Union Rags deserved some racing luck after difficult circumstances may have compromised his finish in both the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.  Ridden patiently by his new rider, John Velazquez, Union Rags set up camp behind pacesetter Paynter.  As Paynter drifted off the inside in upper stretch, Union Rags shot through the opening and the Michael Matz-trained colt outfinished the lightly-raced Baffert runner in the final strides. 

"I waited for a hole to open up and I got lucky," said Velazquez after the Belmont.  "The horse did it all. At first, the hole was pretty tight, I engaged him to get into the hole – I didn’t know it was going to open up – I anticipated it was going to open up, and he took it. Once he did, he put in a good fight.”

Matz also sent out TEETH OF THE DOG to win the Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont undercard. 

As for PAYNTER, the colt ran his eyeballs out.  Hustled from the gate under Mike Smith, Paynter grabbed the lead going into the clubhouse turn.  Smith masterfully backed down the pace and Paynter put away challenges from both UNSTOPPABLE U and ATIGUN before having to deal with Union Rags. 

Smith was disappointed with himself following the race.  "He ran tremendous. I’m such a perfectionist. [Union Rags] just shouldn’t have gotten through on me. I’d like to see what the outcome would have been if he wouldn’t have."
Baffert, who has the Haskell circled on Bodemeister's calendar, mentioned the Travers as Paynter's next major goal. 

Think this is a tough game?  Bob Baffert, Ahmed Zayat and Mike Smith had the lead for at least 30 of the 31.5 furlongs during this year's Triple Crown.  They didn't win any of the races.

The main disappointment in the Belmont was beaten favorite DULLAHAN, who was under the whip early and never mounted a rally. 

"I don’t think he really liked the track today," remarked Dullahan's rider, Castellano. "He’s the type of horse who likes the turf or Polytrack more. The track was a little deep today and he kind of struggled a little bit."


While some may feel sorry for Baffert, he still has arguably the top handicap horse in the country, GAME ON DUDE, primed for the Hollywood Gold Cup.  The barn also got a winning boost when RICHARD'S KID, mired in Dubai since winning the Grade 1 Pacific Classic for the second straight year in 2010, returned to Southern California with a vengeance.  Richard's Kid exploded to win the 11-furlong Prove It Stakes over the Hollywood cushion track by 7 1/4 lengths in record time.  If he stays healthy, he could make his presence felt at Del Mar.


Lone speed is always dangerous and TAPITSFLY made her competition pay with a front-running gambit in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes over the Belmont turf.  Trained by Dale Romans, Tapitsfly skipped to the top under Ramon Dominguez and had plenty left when challenged by favored WINTER MEMORIES in the stretch.  The beaten chalk has a huge fan club due to her visually-impressive victories last year, but she still has problems with her lead changes and has yet to Beyer better than 95.  She's a very good horse, but not the next coming of Pegasus.

Romans has won five graded races since May 1 (three Grade 1's) with horses like SHACKLEFORD, LITTLE MIKE and SILVER MAX (who may be the top 3-year-old turf runner in the country pending his result in Wednesday's Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs).


ACCLAMATION was one of the top horses in 2011, winning five graded races in a row from May to October over both grass and polytrack at distances ranging from 9-12 furlongs.  Forced to miss the Breeders' Cup with a bruised foot, Acclamation's seasonal debut was delayed after trainer Donald Warren wasn't pleased with the way his Cal-bred was training.  Warren finally unwrapped Acclamation last Saturday and the six-year-old wired the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Memorial (his third straight win in the race).  The Pacific Classic could be his main summer goal.


Top-notch training job by Curtis Garrison with FIELD COMMISSION.  Away from the races since November 2010, the seven-year-old son of Service Stripe made his initial start on dirt a winning one.  He upset the $68,000 Ponche Handicap going six furlongs at Calder on June 9 and put up a 105 Beyer to boot.  Field Commission won the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes sprinting on the grass in 2009.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (6/4/12 - 6/10/12):

1.  TRINNIBERG - 106 - Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
2.  FIELD COMMISSION - 105 - Ponche Handicap - 6 Furlongs - Calder
2.  REDEEMED - 105 - Brooklyn Handicap (G2) - 1 1/2 Miles - Belmont
4.  CAIXA ELETRONICA - 103 - True North Handicap (G2) - 6 Furlongs - Belmont
4.  DIVINE MUSIC - 103 - OC 50k/N3L - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Belmont
4.  RICHARD'S KID - 103 - Prove It Stakes - 1 3/8 Miles (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
7.  GUAM TYPHOON - 102 - OC 65k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - Delaware
8.  TAPITSFLY - 100 - Just a Game Stakes (G1) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
9.  COMMA TO THE TOP - 99 - Alw 43409NC - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Golden Gate
10. ACCLAMATION - 98 - Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Betfair Hollywood
10. DESERT BLANC (GB) - 98 - Manhattan Handicap (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
12. ANGELICA ZAPATA - 97 - Emergency Nurse Stakes - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Calder
12. SLOANE RANGER - 97 - OC 75k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - Monmouth
12. UPGRADE - 97 - Jaipur Stakes (G3) - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - Belmont
15. DATA LINK - 96 - Monmouth Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Monmouth
15. UNION RAGS - 96 - Belmont Stakes (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles - Belmont
17. FORT LOUDON - 94 - Unbridled Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Calder
17. HELISKIER - 94 - Alw 21379N3X - 6 Furlongs - Canterbury
19. GOLDEN GALAXY - 93 - Clm 12500N2L - 6 Furlongs - Finger Lakes
19. GUYS REWARD - 93 - Opening Verse Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Churchill
19. KOAST - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Turf) - Betfair Hollywood
19. TEETH OF THE DOG - 93 - Easy Goer Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
23. JAZZY IDEA - 93 - Crank It Up Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Monmouth
23. MAVERICKING - 93 - Alw 52080N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Arlingon
23. MILE HIGH MAGIC - 92 - Alw 54350N1X - 6 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Betfair Hollywood
23. NIKKI'S SANDCASTLE - 92 - Sea O Erin Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Arlington
23. POLISH DOLLAR - 92 - Clm 10000(10-8) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Emerald
23. SUMMER HIT - 92 - Silky Sullivan Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Golden Gate

TRINNIBERG'S lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


NOTABLES ON THE WORKTAB (6/4/12 - 6/10/12):

*ATLANTIC HURRICANE (poor blood tests) - 4F - 48.80H - Woodbine - June 6
*BEAR IT'S TIME (undisclosed) - 4F - 49.00B - Woodbine (training) - June 8
*CELTIC PRINCESS (splint bone foreleg, surgery) - 7F - 1:28.20H - June 9
*FREEDOMS TRAVELLER (hairline fracture left front ankle) - 5F - 1:04.60H - Northlands - June 9
*EXCAPER (EPM) - 5F - 1:00.60B - Woodbine - June 10
*FORMAGGIO (cut right hind heel) - 5F - 1:05.00B - Churchill - June 10
*HANSEN (low blood count) - 5F - 1:02.80B - Churchill Training - June 9
*HOME SWEET ASPEN (displaced palate) - 3F - 37.00H - Betfair Hollywood - June 8
*JOHN JOHNY JAK (colic surgery) - 6F - 1:13.40H - Betfair Hollywood - June 10
*MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE (shockwave therapy, vet's list) - 4F - 49.20H - Santa Anita - June 8
*POOL PLAY (torn tendon) - 5F - 1:00.60B - Woodbine - June 8
*RULE (bruised left hind foot) - 4F - 48.03B - Belmont - June 10
*STARS TO SHINE (condylar fracture) - 6F - 1:12.40B - Woodbine (training) - June 10
*STEPHANOATSEE (chipped pastern right foreleg, surgery) - 3F - 38.20 - Fair Hill (all weather training) - June 6
*STRAIT OF DOVER (poor blood work) - 6F - 1:12.20H - Woodbine - June 10
*SURREY STAR (heat in suspensory ligaments right front leg) - 5F - 59.80H - Santa Anita - June 8


Please check out the latest video production from Jessica Pacheco, Racing Analyst at Arlington Park.  It's Part 3 of the "Behind the Silks" video series following jockey Tim Thornton through his ups and downs at this year's Arlington meet.

"Prairie State Festival"
In the third episode of "Behind the Silks" Tim and his agent must face a tough decision with two horses entering the same race. Tim talks about his horses for the upcoming Prairie State Festival at Arlington Park, including his favorite mare Peyote Patty, and takes his new Equisight helmet camera to chief state steward Eddie Arroyo for permission to start wearing it during live races.




Dan, a request, please...
three horses this weekend did some very interesting things,either for themselves, their ­owners/connect­ions, or for bettors, would love to have lifetime pps if possible for:
Better Make Money - won the finale at AP yesterday at 42-1, triggering a massive carryover payout in a strange hi-5 wager. he had hit the board in more than half of 40 races at that distance. (If that was you, bigchok, will you buy him and retire him?)
Castle Pines - won the 6th at ED yesterday, winning for the 20th time. Looks like about 5 more wins will bring the bank account of this honest racehorse to $100k.
Comma to the Top - finally got the trip he has been searching for, 5f on turf. And he didn't go off the ­favorite??!!#&­#36;%@#%

The past performances you requested are available the bottom of this blog post.

A friend of mine is writing a book about the horse business, and she owned a horse about 20 years ago or so. Could you please post the pp's on this horse for me? It would be a great help, and you might even get a ­"Thanks&q­uot; in the book :)
Aragon x Faking It -- Colorado King

Payasito's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.


I get mail.

Hi Dan,
Would you please post the lifetime past performances of a horse named Collegian who was a sprinter who ran at Rockingham Park, Suffolk Downs, and Aqueduct in the 1989-1992 period? I was at fan of his and used to love to watch him run. Hopefully he is still alive but is no longer an active stud. He was standing at South Forty Farm in Oklahoma but I think they went out of business as I can't find contact info for them. Any idea what happened to him?
Steve Hewlett

Collegian's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.  He did retire to Oklahoma following his racing career.  Among his best progeny are COLLEGE DEAN (79-13-13-9, $274,936, five-time stakes-placed), BONTON WONTON (9-2-1-1, $28,278, stakes-placed on turf) and TAMARA'S BABE (53-13-10-9, $145,103, twice stakes-placed).  He has 51 foals with 33 starters and 18 winners.  Collegian has not had a foal since the 2008 crop year. 


Congrats to Curtis V. Slewster for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise. 

Penn National Rick's results spreadsheet is attached below.

Let's go with Friday's fourth race at Penn National for this week's event. 


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."
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog. 

Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.

In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
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 processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Best of luck to all.

HGLYPHARD.pdf182.17 KB
PAYASITO.pdf41.01 KB
Trinniberg.pdf636.65 KB
Formblog Contest Belmont.xls35 KB