01/25/2011 2:37PM

A Zillion Thoughts (Part 2)


Let's get to Part 2 of our Q/A session, with some extra added features thrown into the mix.

Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (1/17-1/23):

1. Euroears - 107 - Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
2. Fort Hughes - 104 - Jimmy Winkfield Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Aqueduct (Inner Dirt)
3. Soldat - 102 - Alw 40500N1X - 1 1/8 Miles - Gulfstream Park
4. Marilyn's Guy - 101 - OC 50k/N2X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Aqueduct (Inner Dirt)
5. Caixa Eletronica - 100 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
5. Recapturetheglory - 100 - Louisiana Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles - Fair Grounds
7. Early Return - 99 - F. W. Gaudin Memorial - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
8. Bourbon Bay - 98 - San Marcos (G2) - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
9. Moryba (BRZ) - 97 - OC 100k/C-N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
9. Point Attended - 97 - Swift Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs - Turf Paradise
9. Remand - 97 - OC 35k/N1X-N - 1 Mile - Aqueduct (Inner Dirt)
9. Stradivinsky - 97 - Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Gulfstream
13. Calibrachoa - 96 - Toboggan Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - Aqueduct (Inner Dirt)
14. Gran Estreno (ARG) - 95 - Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Fair Grounds
14. Laysh Laysh Laysh - 95 - Native Dancer Stakes - 1 Mile - Laurel
16. Rapid Redux - 94 - Alw 28000N1X - 1 1/8 Miles - Charles Town
16. Streakin' Mohican - 94 - OC c-40k/N1X - 7 Furlongs - Santa Anita
16. Valid Stripes - 94 - Spirit of Texas Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Sam Houston
19. Absinthe Minded - 93 - OC 35k/N2X-N - 1 Mile - Oaklawn
19. Big Shot Syd - 93 - OC 62k/N2X-N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
19. Our Dark Knight - 93 - OC 80k/N3X-N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
22. Taptam - 92 - Star of Texas Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Sam Houston
23. Baltimore Bob - 91 - OC 80k/N3X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Gulfstream
23. It Tiz - 91 - Megahertz Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
23. No Peace At All - 91 - Clm 20000(20-15)N2L - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream

Euroears' past performances are available at the bottom of this blog posting.


Some Beyer questions.
Thas been some talk on the blog about the last highest Beyer winning at a rate of 29%. Is this true? If it is, or not, what is the per cent for turf? For synthetics? And, where would someone like me find this information without doing an exhaustive study?
1. How many races does it take to make a Beyer par? I'm guessing a 100, but I think 29-50 would be a good start if you threw out the two highest and the two lowest.
2. I noticed that this years Breeders' Cup, except for maybe the marathon, had Beyer pars. Were these track specific pars or an aggregate of all of the previous Breeders' Cup?
3. I noticed today there were only 2 Beyer Pars out of nine races at Santa Anita. One race which did not have a par was the 6th race, a 6-1/2 down the hill for Alw$40,000s. They run these all the time. How come no par?
4. It can't be the new dirt at SA because the 9th, a Clm 12500N2L had a par. Which brings me to; if SA is using their old dirt track records, why is there not a speed rating and track variant for the newly run races on dirt at SA? Isn't this a function, responsibility, of DRF?
5. How strict are the conditions to make a par? Is a $25,000 Cl N2l different than a $25,000 Cl N2l, 3 pounds allowed for claiming price $22,500 and 5 pounds for claiming price $20,000? I would be happy with for instance, one mile and 70 yards being lumped together with 1-1/16th miles and about 1-1/16th miles. One reason being is the starting gates are not always set at the same starting point, and with turf courses having temporary rails as far out as 94 feet plus, the horses are running further anyways which now makes a Beyer par even more subjective. Or is their a par for 36', 48', 94' ?
6. The Beyer explanation in the DRF does not look like it has been updated since 2004, and if the Beyers are "still one of the most powerful handicapping tools available" I think the pars would be useful. Every horse is given a BSF based on a raw speed figure and then SUBJECTIVELY given a variant to come up with a BSF. Don't get me wrong, I like the BSF, but if it takes too many races (100 to 1000) to come up with a par then I say lower the parameters. Besides, us horseplayers take "beaten 2 and 1/4 lengths" with a grain of salt because that is just a human doing a visual observation and the final come home times are derived from a SUBJECTIVE observation. All horse players are the equivalent of Harvard graduates. We can figure this out.
Ron Zuercher

I brought your questions to DRF Handicapper, and Beyer guru, Rich Wroble, and we came up with some answers. 

I mentioned the Beyer winning percentages in the previous blog.  One must remember to take into account the variables that Beyer discussed when analyzing turf or synthetic "last-race" winners.  Was the best last-race Beyer on this surface, or is a horse switching?  Is the race full of first-time starters with no prior numbers?  I'm sure we could do another study like the one Beyer commissioned years ago, but I doubt the results would be much different. 

1)  It depends on the frequency of the race and distance.  There could be 300 sprints for a certain condition, and those 300 could make up the par, and there could be five races at 1 3/4 miles on the turf that would "qualify" for a par.

2)  I'm not completely certain, but am pretty sure that the 2010 Breeders' Cup pars were an aggregate of prior Breeders' Cup races.  I'm sure someone will correct me if that is not correct.

3)  The condition of the race is unreliable for par purposes.  First, it is for 4-year-olds and upward, a condition run only in the winter months.  Second, the starter conditions were for horses "which have broken their maidens for $40,000 or less Or California Sired horses which have broken their maidens for $50,000 or less and which have never won two races."  There are so many different and rare conditions here that projecting a par is difficult.

4)  The DRF speed ratings and track variants are based on the 3-Year-Best Times for the track.  Since this is the first meet at Santa Anita since the return to dirt, and since we're not going to go back to pre-synthetic times for the 3-Year-Best, the speed rating and variant will remain null until after this meet ends and we get a better gauge of the surface.

5)  Pars are not subject to weight allowances or the placement of the turf rails.  As for lumping distances together, if there weren't enough races at a certain distance to make a par, it is conceivable that pars could be projected from races run at a similar distance. 

6)  The Beyer explanation may not have been updated, but the pars are continuously updated as more data is received.

Hope this helps.


*FG R8
did anyone notice the trainer of Pulpits Secret is listed as C.Borel. is this the jockey CBorel or not anyone know? good luck all

thanks for clarifying the age old debate of who wins the race the horse,trainer,or jockey. I accept your opinion as you are the expert but still wonder if you put a 9% jock on Zenyetta would you get the same results as a 25% one. just wondering. thanks again and look forward to mondays answers.

Cecil Borel and Calvin Borel are brothers. Pretty good combination when they are together on a horse, too.

You make an interesting point regarding Zenyatta.  Smith seemed to fit her like a glove, and you could argue that a mare with her late-running style needed a certain type of rider to properly time her move.  Of course, the other argument is that Zenyatta was so superior to her rivals that any jockey merely needed to point her in the right direction, and say "Go."  Remember that Smith wasn't the only jockey to pilot Zenyatta.  David Flores rode her in her first three races.


*Please deep 6 or 86 at your pleasure, and/or answer what you want:
Was wondering:
1. Regarding your Video Analysis, on average, how long does it take for you to prepare for one race from the very beginning (excepting interruptions), to being ready to go on video?
2. Is the camera a stationary one, or is there a person behind the camera?
3. You deliver in a rapid fire confident manner. Does this come of the top of your head? Are you winging it, or are you reading off a cue card or teleprompter?
4. Do you wear make-up on camera? Do you have anyone do your hair?
5. Are the videos filmed at the DRF Manhattan Offices?
6. Prior to going on camera, do you develop hand written notes on a yellow legal pad? If so, how extensive are those notes? Do you commit most things to memory, before you go on the air?
7. Do you ever call anyone about a race, or do you ever get a call to be alert about a certain runner from someone outside the DRF?
8. Could you go on camera cold, and handicap right off the Daily Racing Form or do you have to think about what you are going to present? Can you develop your presentation by looking only at the Daily Racing Form, or do you generally use other resources?? Just how much information percentage wise, comes from outside the pages of the Daily Racing Form? If so, what kind of information might you go after?
9. When you go on air with Mike Beers, and you both land on the same runner, do you agree ahead of time that one of you will a second choice?
10. Do you as an employee have free access to the Sheets, Thorograph, Work Out reports and if so, do you consult these resources on a regular basis? What other types of information do have access to, as an employee of the DRF?
11. Do you ever wish you could completely shut down the Formblog for a week? two weeks, four weeks, or six weeks? At times, do you ever feel you have a tiger by the tail, when it comes to the Formblog?
12. How does it make you feel when some of the Formbloggers are fighting with one another?
Do you ever feel like throwing in the towel when this happens?
13. Do you get most of the humor that comes up on the Formblog? Have you ever laughed out loud about some of the things you have read on the Formblog, or do you kind of take it all in stride?
14. Have you ever considered having someone handle the Formblog when you are sick or when you get swamped with work, such as Mike Beers or your wife?
In my opinion, you should take at least one full month break from the Formblog, plus 10 days quarterly during the year. Just don't do it during Derby week.
In my opinion, during the time the Formblog is down, one should be able to click on the Formblog like you normally would, but you would get a screensaver type image. Maybe a pastoral, mountain, or water fall scene. Something calming. When things get heated on the Formblog, you should just turn this feature on for a day or two, to let people know things are getting to heated as far a you are a concerned, and it would let them get in touch with their better side if they have one.
Thanks Dan.
*How long are they going to keep Edgar Prado out of the winners circle down there?
chicago gerry

1).  On average, I'll take about a half-hour to handicap a race before I'm prepared to go on camera.  Once the handicapping is done, we zip into the studio, and knock it out.  Each segment runs between five and ten minutes so we're at the mercy of the amount of races on the schedule as it pertains to total time. 

2)  The camera is stationary, but our amazing producer, Meg, does a great job setting things up and editing the final product. 

3)  We're not glitzy enough to own a teleprompter.  We're winging it off the top of our heads.

4)  I probably should wear make-up, but don't.  As anyone that watches the videos can tell, I do my own hair...poorly, I might add. 

5)  Yes, they are.  We have our own studio.  Not only do we film our drf.com videos there, but Mike Watchmaker does "Blinkers Off" for TVG in that space.

6)  All of my notes are on my Formulator past performances.  Since I recently handicapped the selected races, I have a good idea of what I want to convey.  If I forget something, I always have them on my pp's.  Most of my notes try to include bits of information that may not be readily available in the paper.  Maybe there's a pedigree nugget, or a hidden trip, or an injury that I can report that could be of some use to a viewer.

7)  Once in a blue moon, I'll call a trainer to see how a horse is doing, or where a runner has been if it's a layoff situation, etc.  Of course, we all get tips.  Last week, Brian Pochman, one of our "A Closer Look" writers, called to tout me on Euroears in the Palos Verdes.  He told me that he saw him work at Lone Star a few months ago, and that it was tremendous.  I didn't listen.

8)  I wouldn't do that.  My job as a public handicapper is not only to attempt to pick winners, but to share information that isn't available in the paper.  I handicap the race, watch video, do pedigree research, and whatever else it takes to impart data that the racing fans may not have available to them.  I don't know the percentage of outside information we give, but I would say that when we discuss trips, that's something that's enhancing what's printed in the pp's. 

9)  No.  If we both like a horse, we'll both select the same horse.  We try and cover as many of the horses in the race as possible, discussing the relative merits and faults of each runner.

10)  I don't have free access to the Sheets or many products for that matter.  I pay for my own replays via a Race Replay account (as well as have replay access through my ADW).  I pay for my own American Produce Records for pedigree information.  For freebies, I have all of the information in our DRF database at my disposal. 

11)  Not really.  Obviously, I get fatigued, but I really don't have any hobbies or outside interests. The FormBlog is my 24/7, 365-day a year hobby.

12)  I don't like it.  There's no reason for it, and I'm proud that it happens very, very infrequently.  We're all allowed a difference of opinion.  This is horseracing, after all.  We can and should contradict each other's opinions in order to gain as much knowledge as possible, but it shouldn't get personal.  As for throwing in the towel, let's just say that I have gotten really frustrated when things have gotten a bit hairy.

13)  I get the humor and appreciate it greatly.  For the most part, we're talking about investing our hard-earned money in a very serious manner.  The humor is wonderful for reducing stress.

14)  No.  It's not that I don't trust anyone to do it.  I just am very protective of it, and prefer to remain the sole "Sheriff."

Oh, Edgar Prado finally got off the duck at Gulfstream on Sunday afternoon.  He rode Schoolyard Cat to victory in a $35,000 maiden claimer, and is currently 1-36 at the meet.


All the talk about the Belmont brings to mind one of the most impressive training feats of all time.... the great Woody Stephens' five CONSECUTIVE Belmont wins. If you can, I'd really appreciate it if you could post the pp's of his five winners. Maybe they'll yield some clues as to what it takes to train and win one of our very toughest races.
sidney greensheet

Mr. Stephens owned the Belmont Stakes from 1982-1986.  The past performances of his winners are available at the bottom of this blog posting. 


An intriguing puzzle , complicated for me by the three horses that most intrigued me being prepped at private training centers. If any of you Floridians can provide info on the particulars of these off-track sites (surface, configuration, # of horses training there, etc) I'd be grateful.

I'm assuming you mean the tracks at Palm Beach Downs (PBD), Palm Meadows (PMM),and Payson Park (PAY)?  Check out the websites listed below:



Payson Park is located in Indiantown, Fla., about 90 miles north of Gulfstream Park.  They have a one-mile dirt track known for being very deep and safe as well as a turf course.


Do you know if Waiting for Sonny is owned by George and Lori Hall? They are relatively new owners and have linked up for some success with Kelly Breen. Atomic Rain (sold to Dubai and never heard from again) was one of the prettiest horses I 've ever seen in the paddock at Monmouth.

Wild About Sonny is owned by the Halls.  They purchased her for $55,000 out of the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale. 
Atomic Rain returned to North America for two races over the summer.  He finished second in a 'n3x' optional claimer at Monmouth on July 11, and then finished third in the same condition at Saratoga on August 11. 


I see COIL has yet to uncoil out of hibernation yet. Hopefully, we'll hear something soon. Good luck

Coil had surgery to remove a chip from a knee.  Bob Baffert hopes that he'll return to training next month.


Sheriff Dan I.,
I had a little converstaion w/my Dad the other day..He said Tosmah was the greatest filly of all time..We both whole heartedly agree hands down on the Slewster Himself..So w/o further ado, could you kindly go into your annals of racing & find me the past performances of that hard knocking girl, Tosmah {born 1961}, the daughter of the great Tim Tam, please.. A few words of encouragement, or enlightenment would help too........I want to be a little nostalgic w/him....
Thanx in advance.........Who better to ask than you ? Right ?
Curt V.

Tosmah's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog posting.


What was the BSF for Always a Princess? Cannot believe she was under 90.
Jim C.

Always a Princess received an 89 Beyer Speed Figure for her win in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes on January 16.


High Dan, could you please post the pps for a horse called Southern Bostonian.

The past performances are available at the bottom of this blog posting.


Could you post the pp's of a horse named Stonewood, he raced at saratoga a few years ago.

Stonewood's past performances are available at the bottom of this blog posting.


Relative to your comments on horse-rider-trainer impact percentages, take a look at the ride that Gomez gave to Wilkinson in the Lecomte.
I was just about to tear up my win and exacta tickets when "Gogo" went to work with the left handed whip and transformed a "nice 2nd" to a win. I would think that this is a decent 3-year-old, but not a candidate for the triple crown races. His win on Saturday was, strictly, the product of a superior athletic performance by the rider.

Isn't it possible that Wilkinson is simply a better horse than Pants On Fire, especially at the Lecomte distance?  I would think that if Bravo rode Wilkinson and Gomez rode Pants On Fire that the result would have been the same.


When I look at the stallions leaderboard on DRF.com what does the acronym "PERFS" stand for?

That would stand for "Performers," the total number of starts that a stallion's progeny have made for the year.


Dan- I see decorated court is entered in the 9th at the big A today. Last saturday she was a vet scratch before the race started. Why isn't the public informed the reason for the scratch when the horse is entered back so quickly?
gordon p

The fact that the horse is listed as a vet scratch means, for the most part, that it was either injured or sick.  As for a specific reason, that would be up to a state racing and wagering board to post.  Some of them have vet lists that document problems.  I agree with you that we should be made more aware of the extent of an injury.


saw a horse entered recently named truthbetold - I believe there was a horse of the same name on the ny circuit, but perhaps with spaces between the words, who ran about 20 years ago - would love to see his pps if you can locate!!
p ensign

I hope I have the right one for you.  Check below to find out.


No price for Free Beer? I don't see a claiming price for the runner "Free Beer" in either the entries or results chart for Santa Anita race 5 on Saturday January 22nd. Funny though, Boston Baked Bean cost $12,500!
Rob Anderson

Rob Anderson, here's your answer from the CHRB Rulebook:
1634. Claiming Option Entry.
(a) At the time of entry into a claiming race, the owner may opt to declare a horse ineligible to be
claimed provided:
(1) The horse has been laid off and has not started for a minimum of 180 days since its last race, and
(2) The horse is entered for a claiming price equal to or greater than the price at which it last started.
(b) Failure to declare the horse ineligible at the time of entry may not be remedied.
(c) Ineligibility shall apply only to the first start following each such layoff. 
p ensign


I have been following Patrick Valenzuela's return to Santa Anita with interest. He obviously has a ton of talent but is he being regularly monitored for drug abuse?
Gerry from Miami

Here's a press release from the California Horse Racing Board regarding Valenzuela's return to the state as well as a link to a Steve Andersen article published on drf.com on August 5:




Hi Dan,
Thanks for all your work with the blog. I am looking for info on a few topics if you have time. First what can you tell us about the Derby potential of Casper's Touch and the quality of Zaidan who he finished third to in England? Next is there a way to tell the importance of front wraps by the way that they look [i.e. the height or material used]? So I can tell if they are there for just mild support or if the horse has leg problems. Also in a trainers turf to dirt win percentage does it include a race that was scheduled for the turf but run on dirt or is it just the trainer angle on surface switch ? Last but not least, would you please recommend a couple of books that you may have found helpful in "How to Bet" as my handicapping is good but I realize that I have things to learn in how and when to bet.
Thanks for any help you can give me.

First off, it's very, very difficult to assess a young runner's Derby potential in January.  Still, it's fun to look at an up-and-comer. 
Casper's Touch, a $50,000 yearling purchase, made his career debut in a maiden special weight going 4 1/2 furlongs over the Keeneland polytrack on April 22.  He raced three wide over a speed-favoring track and finished fourth behind runaway winner Metropolitan Man.  The second- and third-finishers returned to graduate next-out. 
Trainer Ken McPeek shipped Casper's Touch to England for the Royal Ascot meeting in June, and he was entered in the Listed Chesham Stakes going seven furlongs on turf on June 19.  He was fractious in the gate, broke poorly, and drifted badly in the stretch.  It is either to his credit, or to the moderate quality of his competition, that he was able to finish third.  The winner of that race, Zaidan, returned to run last of four in a listed race at Newbury before finishing eighth in the Racing Post Trophy.  The runner-up, Sonning Rose, came back to run last of seven in a Group 3 at Goodwood.  Fourth-finisher King Torus did return to win a pair of Group 2 races, however, and the sixth-runner, Slim Shadey, won an allowance race in his next start. 
After a freshening, Casper's Touch returned to win the quicker of two maiden special weights at one mile on the dirt at Churchill Downs on November 19.  Although the race was fast, only one of the five horses to return from that race were able to crack the exacta next-out.  Casper's Touch looked good in his maiden win.  He was a bit eager for the first quarter-mile, tugging Julien Leparoux into a nice stalking spot along the inside.  He professionally took dirt in his face, angled three wide turning for home, and wore down the pacesetter in the stretch.
Casper's Touch's pedigree is geared stamina over speed.  His sire, Touch Gold, won the Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles while the dam, Lizzy Cool, won the six-furlong Ruthless Stakes over the Aqueduct inner track (Lizzy Cool never attempted a race over a route of ground).  Lizzy Cool has already foaled Cool Bullet, a three-time stakes-winner at six furlongs that is 0-2 in distances at one mile or over.  The speed in the female family may make it difficult for Casper's Touch to navigate classic distances, but it's too early to know that definitively.  I'd say that McPeek has Casper's Touch penciled in as his strong second-string sophomore behind Rogue Romance on his depth chart. 
I'm not a fan of horses running in front wraps, but I'm not sure if we can tell if they are there for support or to cover a potential problem.  Perhaps one of our visual experts on the blog can help you out with that question. 
Turf-to-dirt statistics are just that.  If a horse ran in an off-the-turf race, and is returning on dirt, it is not considered a turf-to-dirt move for our trainer numbers. 
For wagering books, I would recommend "Exotic Betting" by Steven Crist, and "Money Secrets at the Racetrack," by Barry Meadow.
Hope this helps.


Congrats to sidney greensheet for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He selects the seventh race from Aqueduct on Friday, January 28.


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. 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

Euroears.pdf62.67 KB
Three Belmont winners.pdf61.41 KB
Conquistador Cielo.pdf62.01 KB
Swale.pdf61.98 KB
Tosmah.pdf70.5 KB
Southern Bostonion.pdf63.41 KB
Stonewood.pdf69.44 KB
Truth Be Told.pdf50.13 KB
HG220.pdf182.02 KB