Friday, May 26, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Santa Anita Gold Cup (G1)

Digging for Gold at Santa Anita

By: The Turk

Midnight Storm: Photo by Benoit
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog. I'd like to thank The Thorofan and the Handicappers Corner for allowing me an opportunity to share my thoughts with you.  To those of you unaware, Thorofan is a national organization created specifically to serve the horse racing fan.  If you are looking for other like minded racing fans, look no further than The Thorofan.

The Turk cashed zippo tickets on the past two Triple Crown races.  I could tell you how close I was to winning and winning big, but that's loser talk.  My handicapping of some of the longer shots was a bit off but my bet construction was dead on.  I built bets with favorites and long shots interspersed in the Superfecta.  You won't hit all your bets, but that doesn't mean your process was wrong.  Have a plan and follow a plan.  Consistency in betting is the key to breaking even and scratching out positive ROI.  Everything is against you as a horseplayer:  Be honest with yourself, study your ROI, understand the impact of takeout, and treat your betting capital like the precious commodity it is. 

The Turk likes the handicap division* because he loves to see the large amount of data in the Past Performances.  The asterisk is that the handicap division is a watered down shell of what it was a decade ago.  The best are off to the breeder's shed and there are just fewer horses overall.  The purpose of this blog isn't to give cutting edge commentary on the state of the sport, its to handicap and build bets on who is racing, so while I may miss the days of past, it doesn't change what I do overall.

Let's get after this!


The Turk has been a big Santa Anita player, especially since the return to dirt, but even I have been a bit soured by field sizes and consistency over this Winters Meet.  I was happy to see the news that Mr. Stronach was sending his fixer, Tim Ritvo to Santa Anita to fix this horse racing gem. 

Today's race, the Santa Anita Gold Cup, is a Grade 1 with 9 runners over the dirt at the classic distance of 1 1/4 Miles.  There are 12 starts in this field at that distance and one win.   Let's take a look at a few of the competitors. 

The Californian Grade 2 (April 22) ;  A five horse field at  1 1/8 Miles  

The Tokyo City Grade 3 (2 April);  a six horse field at 1 1/2 Miles  

Not a prep but San Pasquale Grade 2 at 1 1/16 (January 1 2017)  

Santa Anita Handicap G1 (March 11) 1 1/4 Miles  

 Alysheba Stakes Grade 2 at CD 5 May 2017  at 1 1/16 Miles  

Oaklawn Handicap Grade 2 at Oaklawn (15 April 2017)  

Not a prep but Cupid's last good start West Virginia Derby Grade 2 (August 6, 2016)


Takeaways:  Small fields and a lot of off tracks this Winter!  The only horse making a start off a win is Hard Aces, who won the marathon distance Tokyo City over Big John B by a neck.  Hard Aces and Big John B collectively have 82 starts.  Journeymen, not stars, fill the cards in the handicap division. I digress. 

By all measures, Midnight Storm at six years old is the class of the group. He'll be on the lead with Cupid and perhaps American Freedom.  I think those two will both crack and fade.  It may set up one of the many one run horses who will be coming hard at the pace. 

Accelerate has been training well at Santa Anita although he doesn't win much lately.   No wins in 3 2017 starts, no wins in six starts at Santa Anita.  I like him in the top three, perhaps Place. 

A Quality Road 5 year old, Follow Me Crev, is in the same group as Accelerate.  He'll make one run and it just depends on early pace and if Midnight Storm can finish or not. He's also training well at Santa Anita but his barn hasn't won a graded stakes in sometime.  Place or Show. 

Cupid is the class of the race, a $900,000  2014 Keeneland purchase, who had a nice run in 2016 with minor Derby's before cracking in the PA Derby in September, and he's been on the shelf since.  A bit slow but he has won at Santa Anita and his trainer Baffert placed him here, with a track record over the past year of 28% winners on 180+ layoffs.  I'm not sold on the Top Four for without more work to show me.  Cover/not Cover: It's the biggest decision you will make at the windows. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet.  If forced for early thoughts I'll single Midnight Storm and have a group of horses including Follow Me Crev, Accelerate and Cupid in Place and Show with American Freedom and Big John B in the Exotic spot.  I'm not sure about the value of the bet until I see the tote board and ultimately may just pass on betting depending on scratches. 

Have fun with it friends, Turk Out!  

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