The Nomination is In! The Donn Handicap
By: The Turk
Welcome friends to The Turk and The Little Turk, now in our 8th season of providing not much service to very few readers. I'd like to thank The Thorofan Handicapper's Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you today.
The Donn! The Grade 1 Older Horse Division race that for me is the kickoff to any new racing season. The Turk tries not to get too wrapped up in the Derby Trail as I like the older horses and they fit my handicapping style better. Why? Data. I look at the past performances of a race like The Donn and I see data, I see 10 plus races of history, stats, pace, information.
What did I see on the Past Performances for this race? Not much I liked, or better said, a very deep field that the degenerate gambler in me would normally pass on. You can find easy marks on any card at any field, so why bet a stacked field like this? Why does any track investor bet? For a return on investment. It comes down to do I like a horse or two at a price that the betting public laid off a bit? I don't need crazy long shots, that's for frat boys and movies, I need 4-6 to 1 odds and an exotic view on the race.
Do I have it here? I dunno. I'm doing this handicap and bet preparation on a Wednesday night before I know if there are scratches/changes or track conditions less that fast dirt. I intentionally handicap without the knowledge of morning lines because that's bias I don't need. Let me hit you with my thoughts and give you my opinion with the caveat that if I did bet this race it would be 10 mins to post after I watched the tote board a bit. Let's go!
These two videos give you a pretty good feel for Gulfstream Park combatants Madefromlucky (who skipped the Hal's Hope), Mshawish (who skipped Harlan's Holiday for the Cigar Mile) Valid, and Mexikoma (who skipped the Hal's Hope for the Sunshine Millions Classic).
I think money will flow to Keen Ice and why not? Well, Trainer Roman's is 6% off a 61-180 day break, with 93 chances, and the horse, for is $1.8 Million in earnings, has 2 wins in 13 starts, 1 win in 9 starts in 2015 and only 4 of 9 in the money. Lightning may drop on me from the heavens, but I put no stock in what a horse does at Saratoga so quite frankly I don't care that he won the Traver's. Bet him, go ahead, I may be wrong but I'm laying off the win for Keen Ice. I'm not even covering him in the money right now.
It's a great time to get on my soap box about making decisions. I don't know if I'm right about Keen Ice, but I have to make an informed decision otherwise when I make my bet selection up I'll cover everyone because I've tossed no one. Have some conviction, take a stand.
My tepid chalk is Valid. The 6 YO is 10 of 12 at GP, 4 of 4 in the money at the distance, 9 wins in 28 tries on fast dirt. The jock colony shunned him with Saez jumping off for Pletcher's Itsaknockout, Might be too much for him, he did get caught at 1 mile in the Hal's Hope, but he's game and he'll be driving, Win, Place or Show.
I feel pretty similar with Mshawish. I have no reason to not expect him to be driving at the end, but this is a new distance for the 1 time winner on dirt.
Thinking of the pace, I can see Mott's Closing Bell closing hard in the last 1/16th. The numbers say no, but he's been training well and my only concern is speed. Guess we will find out.
Madefromlucky/Financial Modeling and even Closing Bell I'm tossing a blanket over. I think all will be moving forward except Financial Modeling who may drop sooner but will turn some fast panels early.
Itsaknockout is more than capable. I most likely have underestimated him and he should most likely be in my Place or Show spot.
It's rare for me to truly toss anyone from the exotic ticket but this is a solid field and I have no strong feelings in any one way.
For the sake of the readers I'll make a theoretical bet based on this base handicap.
I'm going to place a $1 Trifecta which will cost $29 on:
4-3 OVER 4-3-5-7-2 OVER 4-5-7-2-8. I brought Itsaknockout up but left Keen Ice on the outside. I have two of my Also Ran's in my Bet Selection, Keen Ice and Mexikoma, just a reflection of how I'm feeling about the pace.
I think this is a dog with fleas so I'm leaving my remaining $71 dollars in my pocket which is sometimes a gambler's best bet.