Saturday, September 16, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1)

Value Plays in the Northern Dancer Stakes

By: Robert Marks, They're in the Gate (and on Twitter @theyreinthegate)

The Northern Dancer Turf Stakes is a Saturday 9/16/17 held at Woodbine racetrack in TorontoOntario in mid-September. A Grade I event with a current purse of C$300,000, it is run at a distance of 1 12 miles on Woodbine's E. P. Taylor turf course. We have a small field of horses with one big favorite.

Here are the participants listed by Post Positions, Horse, Jockey and odds:
1. English Illusion, Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 20-1
2. Camp Creek, Manuel Hernandez, 20-1
3. Noble Thought, Patrick Husbands, 5-1
4. Messi, Jose Ortiz, 4-1
5. Pumpkin Rumble, Jesse Campbell 12-1
6. Seeking Albert, David Moran 15-1
7 Johnny Bear, Luis Contreras 15-1
8 Hawkbill Colm O’Donoghue 3-5

Here is who we like
Hawkbill- The clear class of the field here-this horse sired by Kitten’s Joy, he comes across the big pond looking pretty impressive with a lot of black type races and wins in his ledger. He likes to run in the front and I don’t see anyone catching him. Our rule is not too bet a short odds horse in a short field so we will try to hit the trifecta looking for 2 horses with value.

Johnny Bear- -This horse has won here at same distance on August 30th in the Halton Stakes for Canadian Breds. We always like a horse and jockey that know the turf course and the distance. If anyone can pass the favorite late, it’s a horse and jock that have been there before. Never count out a horse’s memory.  

Camp Creek-This light raced 4-year-old did run this same race last year, finishing 6th. Has only 1 win in 8 starts, but that one win did come at Woodbine in last year’s Breeders Stakes. He hasn’t raced since May, that being at 1 ¼ miles at Belmont Park. But he has looked good at workouts and could clunk up to grab a piece of the exotics.

Wagering/Betting Handigambling Bankroll: Here is our $100 worth of betting for the race

Exacta Box: $20 Exacta Box ($20)
Trifecta ($10 Box for $60 Total)

As always, watch the Board and if at the track watch how the horses look in the Paddock and adjust your bets accordingly. Good Luck!  a 

Handicapper's Corner: Woodbine Mile (G1)

Backwheel Tower of Texas in Woodbine Mile

By: Reinier Macatangay, Thoughts on Racing, Life and More

Picking the loser might not make sense to a lot of gamblers. But hear this logic out. In the $800,000 Woodbine Mile (GI) on Saturday at Woodbine Racecourse, none of the top contenders are standouts. With that in mind, certain horses (usually deep closers) are capable of rallying late to make noise, but not win. So, a backwheel is the play. 

But if a horse can get in the mix late, then why can’t he win?

At the end of the day, the right horse should win. Contenders such as World Approval, Deauville, Mondialiste and Lancaster Bomber are all meant to compete in the best races. One of them will find a way to get the job done. Unfortunately, those four horses offer some doubts too, making it difficult to consider any of them a standout.


World Approval looked great winning the Fourstardave H. (GI) at Saratoga. However, running on wet turf is his specialty, and no rain is currently forecast for the weekend. Disregarding the surface condition, this 5-year-old gelding from the Mark Casse barn does seem to excel in 1 to 1 1/8th-mile races. The one-mile distance will help. 

As for Aidan O’Brien’s Deauville, he seems highly regarded and built a fanbase over the past year. He never runs particularly fast though, at least not in North America. His last three BRIS Speed Ratings over here are 95, 94 and 92. Furthermore, he blew a good trip in the Arlington Million (GI) to lose as the favorite. Can he be trusted alone?


Mondialiste, despite his status as 2015 champion, enters this year’s edition at 8-1 on the morning line. He comes off a sixth-place finish in the Strensall S. (GIII) at York, but supporters can forgive the effort after watching the replay. Most of the horses loped along on a moderate to slow pace, leaving Mondialiste too much work to do. 

O’Brien’s second runner Lancaster Bomber looks like another logical choice. In Europe, he competed against the likes of Churchill, Thunder Snow and more. But he also proved himself on this continent, finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) to Oscar Performance. The fact he only owns one win is a bit concerning.


With so many question marks, it can get confusing on which top horse to choose. Mondialiste might get the edge from a value standpoint because the money will go towards Deauville and Lancaster Bomber.

If playing the race vertically though, then perhaps the value is found underneath in Tower of Texas.

Yes, Tower of Texas finished fourth in the Play the King (GII) against weaker horses. He also became blocked at critical points in the race. Once the 6-year-old gelding found an open lane late, he began to make a decent move. Furthermore, as a closer he will not be compromised trying to handle early heat from the higher-class runners.

The connections like going with the same routine. Tower of Texas finished second in this race last year to a future Hall of Fame star in Tepin. The effort came after finishing runner-up in the 2016 Play the King. In 2015, he also ran second in the Play the King, before a disappointing seventh-place finish in Mondialiste’s Woodbine Mile.

His 2016 run shows he can compete at the highest level, and no Tepins exist in this Woodbine Mile. But Tower of Texas is simply not trustworthy to place on top. After all this time, it should seem clear where his class stands.

He can pick off enough horses to make the vertical wagers interesting. 

Handigambling ($100) 
$3 Trifectas – 1,6,8,10 / 1,6,7,8,10,11,12 / 2
($72 in all)

$7 Exactas – 1,6,8,10 / 2
($28 in all)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3)

Hunting for Value in Ladies Turf

By: Michael Mills, ThoroFan Member

The older girls traveling one mile on the funky turf course for Grade 3 honors.  Miss Temple City looks like she should walk over this field, well, the 2016 version of the Miss, that is. A two-time G1 winner, the Miss hasn't shown up yet in 2017, however a better performance out of her Saturday is expected.  

That being said, the Miss will be very short on the tote, too short for one who may have lost a step.  So, I'm looked elsewhere and came up with #4 Zipessa on the cutback.  She brings a little bit of speed with her on the cutback to the mile and has been keeping very good company and Jersey Joe knows her.

The play
$40 win and place #4
$5 Ex Box on the three with the most graded stake runs 2-4-5
$110 investment

Have a Day!

Handicapper's Corner: Kentucky Turf Cup (G3)

Maker Seeks Three-Peat in Kentucky Turf Cup

By: Nick Costa, Trackside With Trackman

Our stop this week brings us to the rural southern Kentucky town of Franklin, and a visit to Kentucky Downs, for the 1 1/2-mile G3 Kentucky Turf Cup. Perhaps the most unique racetrack in the United States, Kentucky Downs offers a truly short, but special meet featuring turf racing exclusively for just five days in early September on a course inspired by the reniform European tracks.

This unique surface with its rolling grass course, and slight elevation changes as horses run for the finish line, measures a mile and five sixteenths in length making it one of the longest courses in North America.

As the most prestigious and richest race on this track’s calendar, the $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup is also a tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The meet is a strong one, and features many top jockeys and trainers. Trainer Mike Maker, who saddled eight winners at the Kentucky Downs meet in 2015 and 2016, including winning the Kentucky Turf Cup both years, seeks his third straight training title and win in this event. Maker, who sends out a quartet of horses for this year's edition, three of which are graded stakes winners, can join Jonathan Sheppard as the only trainers to win the Kentucky Turf Cup three times.

The Kentucky Turf Cup is the final race on the Kentucky Downs 10 race card, with post time slated for 6:42pm E.S.T.  Let's take a glimpse at the field from the rail out.

PP - Horse – ML -  Jockey/Trainer - ML

1 - Postulation – 9-2 - Jose Vargas/Edward Graham--Cuts back in distance here from his American St Leger win while trying to make it three-in-a-row.

2 - Lucky Ramsey – 30-1 - Channing Hill/Randy Morse--Never threatened when well beaten against a weaker group last race.

3 - Muqtaser – 6-1 - Joe Bravo/Kiaran McLaughlin—Combining European/U.S. races, this one has captured 4 of 10 turf starts, including his last two at Saratoga.

4 - Oscar Nominated – 7-2 - Julien Leparoux/Mike Maker--Competed in G1 races his last three starts and wasn't beaten that far at the finish in any of them. Will appreciate the class drop.

5 - Crescent Drive – 20-1 - Miguel Mena/Tom Amoss--Been away from the races for three months. Has never raced this far or against this level of opposition.

6 - Zulu Alpha – 30-1 - Robbie Albarado/Jose Fernandez--Calumet Farm bred runner received his racing education in Ireland before returning home where's he's now won 2 straight.

7 - Enterprising – 3-1 - Corey Lanerie/Mike Maker--Multiple graded stakes winner was less than a length away from taking the Arlington Million. Extra ground here should be beneficial.

8 - Bullards Alley – 12- 1 - Marcelino Pedroza/Tim Glyshaw--This visit marks his seventh different track in as many starts, with his best effort two back at Woodbine.

9 - One Go All Go – 20-1 - Declan Cannon/Pavel Matejka--Was a G2 winner two years ago, but since then he's only managed an allowance optional win, but it came right here on this course one year ago. 

10 - St. Louie – 30-1 - Tyler Gaffalione/Mike Maker--He’ll be comfortable with the distance, but the class level will be a difficult hurdle as his third-place effort in a restricted stakes at Saratoga last out was the highest level at which he's competed at in two dozen starts.

11 - Taghleeb – 5-1 - Jose Ortiz/Mike Make--Was 2nd in the American St Leger last out and was also runner-up in G1 Man O’War in May. Third-place finisher from that latter event recently won the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga. Suits the class and distance.

12 - Nessy – 20-1 - Brian Hernandez/Ian Wilkes--Earned a career high speed figure last race, and also owns a win at this distance, but both came against inferior opposition.

Also Eligible
13 - Motivational – 30-1 - Joe Rocco/Jack Fisher--His 10 in-the-money finishes from 19 starts have been exclusively from competing in lesser company.

14 - Tobias -30-1 - James Graham/Rafael Fernandez--One win from 33 lifetime starts doesn’t inspire me to look any further into this one’s record.


The outcome of turf races are ultimately decided by two factors that dominate on the grass: Late speed and Class.

Last out in the Arlington Million where he suffered a narrow loss, Enterprising was pinned in tight down on the rail, but still managed to close the fastest against the Grade 1 competition, and with a bit more real estate, the outcome could have different.  The six-year old warrior also sports a win Grade 2 company.

His stablemate, Taghleeb, is another veteran of the turf wars and has thrived running these marathon grass events following his claim by Maker last summer. He too has registered some fast late-pace numbers, both at this level and higher.

In my opinion, one of these two horses should get the job done, and I’ll go with the one that has the highest odds come post time.

For tri’s and supers, toss in Postulation, Oscar Nominated and Zulu Alpha, the young runner from Calumet Farm (race sponsor) who is rapidly on the improve and could be any kind.

Good luck, and as always, enjoy the race!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Spinaway Stakes (G1)

Pure Silver Headlines Spinaway Stakes

By: Michael Amo, ThoroFan Chairman

The Spinaway Stakes (GI) is the next step for 2-year-old fillies on their quest for 3-year-old stardom. It follows the prestigious Adirondack Stakes (GII) held earlier in the Saratoga meet which was won by the morning line favorite, Pure Silver (1-1). She is likely to repeat, given her running style and the recent speed-favoring track bias over the Saratoga oval. But nothing is for sure in horse racing, especially at the “Graveyard of Champions.”

The small field of five should produce a trouble-free race where the ability of each horse is the major factor in the outcome. Having said that lets look at the field.

    1.   Separationofpowers (Candy Ride (ARG) steps up from a maiden race with a top speed figure. The J. Ortiz and Brown combination needs to be respected as both are fighting for their respective track titles.

    2.   Obvious Two (Take Charge Indy) ships in from Timonium Downs for what looks like a piece of the purse, but not the top piece.

   3.   Lady Ivanka (Tiz Wonderful) is stepping up in company but with a great bullet workout. With the right running style and experience over the Saratoga surface she will be competitive. Her trainer’s success with second time Lasix use must be respected.

    4.   Pure Silver (Mission Impazible) is fast with a 3-3 win record in 2017. She will join the trio of front-running fillies. Her last win at 6 ½ furlongs is closest to today distance of 7 furlongs.

    5.   Maya Malibu (Malibu Moon) is the one likely to benefit from the earlier fast pace scenario—if it falls apart –a factor that will only be known as the race proceeds.

The pace will be hot with three contending for the lead – Separationofpowers (1), Lady Ivanka (3) and Pure Silver (3). 

Value play goes to Lady Ivanka at 9-2 morning line odds. Another determining factor is the use of Lasix. Trainer Rodriguez boasts a 33% win rate when the drug is used the second time. 

Here is how they should finish:

     1.   Lady Ivanka (# 3)
     2.   Pure Silver (#4
     3.   Malibu Moon (#5)
     4.   Separationofpowers (#1)

Handigamble play will be:
$60 to win on # 3, Lady Ivanka
$20 Exacta, Partial wheel –Lady Ivanka (3#) over Pure Silver (#4) and Malibu Moon (#5)

Handicapper's Corner: Woodward Stakes (G1)

Gunning for Victory in the Woodward Stakes

By: The Turk

Rally Cry (far left in Pompa White Silks)- Photo Erica Miller
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, now approaching our ninth year of providing handicapping and analysis to people who never asked for it!  Today's blog post is written for The Thorofan's Handicapper's Corner.

Thorofan is an organization that I'm happy to be a member of as they represent the fans, a group as ignored as another group, the bettors.  The Turk is trying to stay positive in this era of negativity and I will end this thought by thanking the Thorofan for allowing me this opportunity to share my thoughts as well as celebrate and thank everyone involved with putting on the Saratoga meet.  We enjoyed mostly good, dry weather, stars, and big attendance and handle.    With the Woodward today, Saratoga approaches the end of the season and the horse racing calendar looks forward to one or two more big weekends prior to Breeders' Cup.
         The Turk really enjoys fall racing as the past performances are mostly filled now with a 2017 record of performance expectations.  As an "information" handicapper primarily, any time I have my current information, the better my handicapping is.  With these high level stakes races the handicapper has a real advantage as you can almost always find video of the most recent efforts to combine with the past performances.  Perhaps that good or maybe its not:  Favorites are winning in 2017 at a 38% clip, returning around $4.90, so when everyone has better information, you have to work harder to find the overlays. It's hard to find them in Grade 1 racing, especially five horse fields like we have today (Milkowski).
Let's get after it!

The weather seems like it will be dry.  Keep an eye as always on scratches, changes and track conditions. I wouldn't call this a great betting race as a gambler but I do think it offers quite a bit of interest as a fan.  Gun Runner is 4 of 4 in the money in 2017 with 3 wins and a place in the Dubai World Cup. The four year old Candy Ride (Arg) from Quiet Giant  has $5.2 MM in earnings, 5 of 6 in the money at the distance and set a career high Beyer over this Saratoga surface last time out.  He'll be going to the gate 1-2 or 3-5 and not much reason to doubt him.

1 1/8 Mile Whitney G1-Fast Dirt.  Gun Runner by 5+ lengths.

If you are looking for value, and I'm not sure how much value they represent, look at Rally Cry, Neolithic or War Story.

Alydar 98K 6 Aug 2017:  Rally Cry by 8+ lengths  

Rally Cry with J. Velazquez up here for Pletcher instead of stable mate Neolithic, comes in off a sizzling effort in the Alydar.  The Uncle Mo 4 YO bounced back nicely after being dusted in the Grade 1 Met Mile.  He should go to gate between 5-2 and 7-2.  

Neolithic amazingly has $2.1 MM in earnings on 8 of 10 in the money lifetime and some big dollar Show finishes.  Last win at 2 turns?  An N1X $37,000 at Gulfstream in December 2016.  Somewhere between 6-1 and 8-1 offers some value.  

War Story has one win in seven starts at this distance and 3 wins in 18 fast dirt starts.  8-1 or 10-1 into the gate seems reasonable.  

Discreet Lover is winless in seven starts at this distance.  30-1 lottery ticket.

I'm not sure what I do with this.  I'll be looking at Race 9-10-11 Pick Three and seeing if I can find any value in singling Gun Runner and finding overlays in the first two stake races.  The Race 9 Saranac G3 has a 9 horse field and the 7f sprint Spinaway G1 is also a 5 horse affair.

If you like long shots, consider a $2 box exacta with 4-3-1 for $12 or Gun Runner over War Story and Discreet Lover 2 OVER 1-5 for $4.

Have fun friends,

Turk Out!

References Milkowski, Craig @timeformusfigs  (2017, 31 August) "Favorites are winning...."[Tweet] retrieved from

Friday, August 25, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Travers Stakes (G1)

2017 Travers Stakes Selections

It’s been 35 years since all three separate winners of the Triple Crown stakes converged on the Travers Stakes. So, which one will prevail, or will there be an upset bomb?  A dozen three year old colts and geldings will contest the 1 1/4 mile “Midsummer Derby.”  

The collective minds of the ThoroFan Handicappers come together once again to offer our choices for first through third place and our best long shot bombs.
Good Luck to everyone!

Michael Amo
Lookin at Lee
Cloud Computing
John Caro
Cloud Computing
Good Samaritan
West Coast
Good Samaritan
Lookin at Lee
Always Dreaming
Cloud Computing
Lookin at Lee
Michael Mills
Good Samaritan
Good Samaritan