Friday, August 19, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Pacific Classic Stakes (G1)

Surfing into the 2016 Pacific Classic Stakes (G1)

By: John Caro, S. FL ThoroFan  Member

Del Mar - Pacific Classic Stakes Grade I – 1 & ¼ Miles $1M

Weather will be ideal for the 26th running of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar with sunny skies, 78° and winds about 10mph down the stretch run. What a test of Champions is in store for the crowd at this prestigious event. With eight guys and a lady out for a frolicking date it should be exciting.

#1 - California Chrome – Who doesn’t like a great champion who has taken his talents around the globe? And what can I add to the past performances statements he’s made? Nothing. His four race win streak speaks volume about his ability. His come home race against Dortmund was visually impressive by every viewer’s standard. The battle down the stretch was incredible. His ability to generate middle and closing speed with his determination in the lane makes him the great champion he is. His works since his last and the bullet on the 14th indicate he’s ready and Art Sherman’s numbers for graded stakes wins at 41% validates Chrome is ready. Enough said. He is the Champ and my top pick. Hopefully there will be value in his price with the other two champions finishing with him.

#7 - Beholder – Has there been a lady with this much winning talent since the Queen of Racing stepped down from her throne? No. Out of the money only twice in 23 races with 17 wins and 4 seconds. One came last out at a shorter distance breaking an 8 race win streak. I like everything I’ve seen. She was last year’s winner in this race with a 112 Bris speed, highest in the field, and she will likely wait in the first half mile as she did last year and rally to the lane with Chrome and her other date, Dortmund, trailing. She is my second pick and may be able to do it twice in a row. May be more value.

#8 - Dortmund – Stalwart winner with 8 victories in 11 races. Not afraid of a lane battle, keeps great company and enjoys his work. And had a great comeback race against Chrome last out after an 8 month break. Although I think he is a great winner I suspect this is not his ideal distance as he has only been in the money once in two tries at the distance according to Bris. He Herculean effort last out from a layoff concerns me as well. The jockey change is interesting and Buffett likes winning. Maybe a different tactic for this race???  Although he’s a great contender I will look at others for more value to add to the two above.

For me there are others for this event that provide betting value and have shown promise of being near the winners above. Based on their performances, connections, and rest cycle, I placed them in order of preference.  

#6 – Imperative well rested and works show he’s ready for a big one.  

#9 – Dalmore is rested and the connections are looking to make history. 

#2 – Hoppertunity is the closer with great connections and has faced the likes of the best here and overseas. 

And finally, #4 – Hard Aces showed his ability in the Cougar and can’t be overlooked. For me the others are a toss in the betting plan.

I don’t see a win bet worth playing for this race but if that is your frame of mind, or the only way you bet then a Dutch bet on three contenders may be the way to go. I will play a Trifecta and Superfecta as shown below. 

The betting money for today is $100.80.
$3 Trifecta: 1,7 with 1,6,7,9 with 1,2,4,6,7,9   Total:  $72

And good luck to the Lady…
$0.80 Superfecta: 7 w 1,6,7,9 w 1,2,4,6,7,9 w 1,2,4,6,7,9.  Total: $28.80

Handicapper"s Corner: Alabama Stakes (G1)

Songbird Ready to Fly In the2016 Alabama Stakes (G1)

by: The Turk

2009 Alabama Stakes Winner Careless Jewel; Photo Budmeister 26.2
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, a horse racing blog that focuses primarily on handicapping.  I'd like to start by thanking The Thorofan and their Handicapper's Corner for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

The Alabama Stakes is typically a highlight race for me at Saratoga.  I've had conflicts with this weekend over the past few years and the last time I was able to be there for it, my son and his grandfather joined me in 2009 to see the absolutely gorgeous Careless Jewel win in a romp. It looked like the sort of performance that could catapult the filly to super stardom, but it just wasn't to be and the second best filly of 2009 behind Rachel Alexandra was retired soon after.  

Songbird, today's stupid-crazy heavy chalk favorite has skyrocketed to super heights already, winning nine straight and absolutely dominating all comers. Today's focus will be on figuring out if she can be beaten and by who, as well as just embracing the heavy chalk as a single and seeing who can bring value into the Place and Show spots on an exotic ticket.

Three Turk Generations at the Spa: Travers Stakes Day 2007
Today's race is not named after a person or a famous horse, but instead for the home state of William Cottrill, a former Confederate officer.   The race track was trying to remember the efforts of Mr. Cottrill who is credited with helping to revive horse racing in the North following the American Civil War.  Mr. Cottrill owned a farm near Lexington, Kentucky and bred a Kentucky Derby winner, 1884's Buchanan (Hale 2001). Horse racing remembers.

 A few years back I was deeply disturbed when many of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park meet's races were renamed by the Stronach Group.  I still don't like it and one of the most appealing things about horse racing to me besides the horses themselves is the tradition.  When I look at this picture of my father and son, together at the 2007 Travers Stakes, it means something to me, it's my roots, horse racing roots, the thing that ties one generation of fans to the next.  Imagine the hacks at the NYRA one day just deciding to rename The Alabama Stakes. I get heart palps just thinking about that.  I'm sorry, I digress, and I just want to end this thought with this: Horse Racing Remembers.

 I've been babbling a bit too much already, lets get after this race with a bit of video handicapping and then a peek at the fractions these horses are capable of. Let's get after it! 24 July2016 CCA Oaks G1 SAR  1 1/8 Miles; Fast Dirt

16 July 2016 Indiana Oaks G2 IND; 1 1/16 Miles; Fast Dirt

20 May 2016 Black Eyed Susan G2; PIM; 1 1/8 Miles; Fast Dirt

9 April 2016 Ashland G1; KEE; 1 1/8 Miles; Fast Dirt

Just some simply dazzling performances highlight in these few videos.  I could post all of Songbirds and what you see is complete consistency.  The Weep No More back to front finish at KEE in the Ashland was one of the memorable races of 2016 already, but nothing really from her since.

The chart below shows a small sample size of races at 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 of a mile.  Surprisingly Flora Dora ran a similar speed in an OC $62K at BEL in early Julyas compared to Songbird's Summer Oaks G2. At 1 1/8 miles there was a shocking disparity between Songbird, with the next closest horse Flora Dora finishing 8 lengths behind based on 1/5 of a second per length. Songbird is often slowed in the final 1/16 and that skews the data as this girl has tactical speed and Hall of Fame Jock Mike Smith knows how to use it.

  Songbird.  I'm not sure I need to say much else.  She won at SAR, she's 9-0 lifetime with $2.4 MM of earnings already, a 5 Time Grade 1 winner, a Breeders' Cup Champ, she's the complete package.  If it means anything, she has the lowest Tomlinson Number at the distance with a 269.  I expect her to soar.  

Family Tree, with hot jock F. Geroux up for trainer Wayne Catalano, comes in off two impressive outings in the mid west, in the Iowa Oaks in June and the Indiana Oaks 2 weeks later in July.   While the class in those races isn't terribly high, she was impressive.  

Going for Broke is making a big jump in class for trainer Chad Brown who places Ortiz up.  That combo has struck for 30% wins in 90 tries at SAR this meet.  

Go Maggie Go is on a layoff since June 11, something trainer Romans only wins 9% of the time.   A :58 4/5ths 5f bullet with 76 others in the workout tab on 12 August shows she's fit.  Black Eyed Susan winner wasn't visually impressive and ran a better, but out of the money, Kentucky Oaks a few weeks earlier.

 Flora Dora I think is too low in my base handicap.  Blinkers On, this First Dude daughter has two very fast bullets at SAR this month in morning work, I'm expected a focused and possibly career best effort to get in the money.  I'll be covering her from Place to 4th.  

Weep No More had alot of speed to run at in KEE.  She'll be running at alot of speed here too.  I'm not expecting a repeat performance.  No Place or Show finishes in her career yet.  Feast or famine and she's in the deep water today.

 I'm tossing Dark Nile at my own peril.

I'm leaning towards two very different bets:

Songbird singled with 5-3-4-7-2 covered from Place to 4th in some combination I haven't fully thought through yet.  I don't think I'll cover that many horses in Place but a 6 OVER 5-3-4-7-2 OVER 5-3-4-7-2 $2 Trifecta will cost $40.

Secondary/Hedge Bet:
Exactas with Songbird in Place and the 5-3-4-7 in WIN spot.  $2 bet for $8.

 I'd like to end this post by again saying that I think Arlington Race Track is a wonderfully run, fan friendly place that I highly recommend to my horse racing friends.  They make it easy to buy tickets on their website and the track experience in the club seating is fantastic. I wish Illinois racing would get their act together and attract better talent with better purses, but you cannot beat Million Preview and Million Day at that track.  NYRA could learn a few things about race track experience from the team at Arlington.
2016 Arlington Millions
Have fun with it friends.  Turk Out! Works Cited Hale, Ron (2001). "William Cottrill Stakes?" Racing. Retrieved 17 August 2016.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Arlington Million (G1)

A Dozen Others Seek to keep THE PIZZA MAN From a Slice of History

The climax of the Illinois racing season comes on Saturday August 13 with the thirty-fourth renewal of the Arlington Million.  Like other races of name and fame, it needs only word or two to describe it: the Million.

The $1,000,000 Arlington Million became an instant classic when John Henry bested The Bart by an inch in the first running in 1981 before a packed grandstand and eventual statue above the Arlington paddock.  The Million's ten furlong turf trip makes it a convergent race for the mile category and the longer distance-inclined turf races.  In fact, the winner of this race gets a trip to the Breeders' Cup Turf at twelve furlongs.  Little Mike (2012) turned the double of winning the Breeders' Cup Turf after winning the Arlington Million.  Steinlen (1989) did a similar double - Mile and instead of Turf in the fall.

Comcast Sports Network (CSN) Chicago will televise the Arlington Million live as part of a one-hour live telecast airing from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm CT.  Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will be broadcasting live from Arlington on Million Day from 4:00pm-6:00pm CT.  This broadcast will include coverage of the Beverly D (GI), and the Arlington Million (GI) from Arlington, as well as the Fourstardave (GI) from Saratoga.  Coverage can be heard on Sirius 93, as well as streaming on the HRRN website.

All races are scheduled for Saturday August 13. Selections are "turf only". At publish time the rail will be set to sixty-two feet from zero.

Arlington International -- Race 9 -- G1 Arlington Million -- One and one-quarter miles on turf -- post time 5:09 pm CT

Don’t think the 8/1 morning line will hold but at two points down our top choice is still worth it.  The York Stakes over in Britain has been fodder for the Million in the past – think Afsare in the 2012 renewal when second to Little Mike -- and therefore MONDIALISTE takes a somewhat familiar path to get to the Million.  He’s shown he can ship into Woodbine and did so last year to take their G1-CDN Woodbine Mile, and that helps given Woodbine form and Arlington form have reciprocity.  Second to Tepin in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile shows class as well.  It’s worth noting that while he was in tougher spots against world class turfers (Tepin, Maurice, Time Test...) – this is a much easier spot.  The folks in the UK books think he’s as good as TRYSTER based on antepost punting, and if he’s a point or two above TRYSTER we’ll bite.  Daniel Tudhope rides for conditioner David O’Meara.  

TRYSTER makes sense, but MONDIALISTE’s proven past shipping are the trump cards.  TRYSTER is one to adjust your handicapping (advance weather calls for a 50% chance of thunderstorms on Friday), and he showed he won’t handle a course wetter than firm as well when fifth in the G1-UK Prince of Wales’s Stakes on soft going during Royal Ascot.  His better form is on all weather and good or good-to-form courses like he what he saw during the Dubai Carnival.  Should the course be good or firm TRYSTER will be a deserving favorite and logical choice.  Yet this is Chicagoland in the summertime and a pop-up thunderstorm that turns a firm course into something less firm than good is never to be ruled out.   

Three-year-olds have normally bypassed the Arlington Million in recent years as they have their own race to shoot for with Grade One status on the same day – the Secretariat two races beforehand.  It’s a surprise then that DEAUVILLE sees the starter.  DEAUVILLE won the G1 Belmont Derby against three-year-olds last time and now moves forward to elders.  He’ll be second off the ship, which can be a fruitful angle and he’s not going the twelve furlongs he went two back.  Three back he was on the podium going a mile and five-sixteenths.  He worked out an outside trip last time, and that will be asked of him once again.

A word on THE PIZZA MAN:  Don’t hate the player, hate the game.  You can forgive him for needing one off the winter vacation in the G2 Wise Dan, but while Kasaqui won the G3 Arlington Handicap last time – he turned his only out-of-the trifecta performance against elders on the Arlington greenery in the G3 Stars and Stripes last out.  Worse, the G2 Wise Dan has seen its players get beaten on the listed stakes mile category turf tour in Indiana and West Virginia.  One could say Albarado didn’t time the rally right, but if The Pizza Man were the same – he likely wins the Stars and Stripes in spite of that.  Too many people will be too willing to give him excuses given its his home course, yet he’s seven and if anyone else were in his boat, you’d say he lost a step too.  His following, his puns, and the third-off-the shelf angle ensure won’t be 10-1 as his line suggests (and he was 10/1 on the morning line last year before winning the 2015 Million at 6/1)  – think 6/1 or 7/1 at off time for the Illinois-bred defending champion and we’d rather have others at that price.


#12 TRYSTER (7/2)
#13 DEAUVILLE (6/1)

Longshot:  Not often you can get a double digit morning line quote on something with Jose Valdivia – the Arlington circuit’s leading rider - in the irons, but here you do.  DECORATED KNIGHT (10/1) has never been out of the superfecta lifetime, he’s shown he doesn’t need to rally from the parking lot based on his European form, and typically winning a G3 over across the pond makes you a G1 player in the states.  The “B” European angle works here, and given the “A” Euros are MONDIALISTE and TRYSTER – this one could be ignored in the wagering.  The Roger Charlton trainee won at ten furlongs three back and might be the right horse at the right time.  

$70 to win, $30 to place on #9 MONDIALISTE