Friday, June 15, 2018

Handicapper's Corner: Stephen Foster Handicap (G1)

Backyard Heaven vs the Rest in Stephen Foster Handicap

By: The Turk

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Welcome Friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog.  The Turk has taken a handicappers holiday for most of 2018 while he was finishing up a Master's Degree in Finance.  The course work has mostly been used to analyze my poor betting capital allocations, but I'm back, and happily this first blog post back is for The Thorofan and the Handicapper's Corner.  Good People, Good Organization and hopefully good returns on investment.

The Turk has been a horse racing fan since Seattle Slew's Triple Crown run of 1977 when I was eleven years old.  Like many boy's my age, Sports Illustrated and ABC's Wide World of Sports were my windows into the sporting world, and horse racing was still a high profile major sport.  It's been great to see the excitement Justify and American Pharoah have brought to the sport, a sport that desperately needs more good marketing.  Churchill Downs night time racing is something I enjoy very much and while I know this 51 year old isn't exactly a demographic priority, I appreciate Saturday night racing and wagering and wish there was more quality nights like this in the summer.

Let's get after this!
The weather on Friday and Saturday looks pretty dry, so let's assume a fast dry track.

Backyard Heaven, a lightly raced 4 YO Tizway colt, trained by Chad Brown, looked awfully impressive in dispatching Always Dreaming and a good field in the Grade 2 Alysheba here at CD on Kentucky Derby Day.  He's got excellent tactical speed and I'm singling him, keying all my thoughts on his continued brilliance.  You have to wonder what this win would mean and how Trainer Brown would point him afterwards, with the Breeders' Cup looming at Churchill Downs in five months.

He is facing a deep and talented field: Churchill local Honorable Duty breaks from the 1 gate and will need his early speed to gain position.  The 6 YO gelded son of Distorted Humor is 6 of 8 in the money at CD and 9 of 11 in the money over fast dirt.  Trainer Brendan Walsh and rider Lanerie are clipping along at a 30% win rate with 46 mounts this year.   Place in last years edition of this race.
Irish War Cry, 4 YO Curlin, comes in off a driving win in the Pimlico Special in the slop where he has a 421 Tomlinson. It was his first win six starts after his Wood Memorial.   I'm not sold.  

Pavel, the 4 YO enigmatic Creative Cause, campaigned by the Reddam Team of Doug O'Neill with Gutierrez up, is too talented to overlook.  A well beaten fourth in Dubai in March followed by a well beaten fourth in the Gold Cup G1 at Santa Anita three weeks ago, breaking at the top of the stretch under the pressure of fast fractions.  The distance and class cutback won't hurt but I need to see more consistency before considering him to win races. 

Looking at Lee, who's arguable best performance was a lagging Place to Always Dreaming in last year's Kentucky Derby, comes in off his first win, a 62K OC N2X class drop.  I grouped him with a couple of 8 YO geldings, Hawaakom and Matrooh.  They are both hard knocking veterans who can easily be in the money, especially Hawaakom with his very late speed. 

Pletcher's uncoupled Uncle Mojo and fan favorite Patch round out the field and I've tossed them both from contention at my own risk. 

So what to do with this?  As I said, I see Backyard Heaven as a heavy favorite and I'm singling him on all my tickets.

Exacta:  $2 Bet 6 OVER 1-3-5  for $6.   I'd expect the 1-3-5 will all be >6-1 and should easily return my opportunity cost.  
Trifecta:  $2 Bet  6 OVER 1-3-8-9 OVER 1-3-5-7-8-9 for $40.  Dropping the 7 altogether takes the bet to $32.

Good news:  The handicapping holiday refreshed both me and my love of the game.  The bad news:  I'm a bit rusty, so no betting the mortgage on my ramblings.

Good luck, Turk out!

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