Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pick Six Experiment--Pass on 1/16

Well, two runs through today's card yielded Pick Six plays that were at their cheapest $2400. That seemed stupid. Let's hold off for another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Pick Six Experiment

It's time for me to resuscitate this blog, and let's do it with a long-term project and question: is the Pick Six a real long-term way to make scores?

The Pick Six is a bet that I've always found fascinating, but impossible to play simply by the shear cost. I'm not a heavy bettor; on my best days, we're looking at a max $250-$300 bankroll. And while I'll take the token four-dollar-play-for-luckiest-day-of-my-life on a triple carryover, I really don't get involved in the Pick Six too often, simply because it'd take up too much of my bankroll. If you have $300 to bet on a day, why throw $200 of it at a bet that requires you to be right 6 times in a row?

That being said, I also question whether throwing $2000 or more at the Pick Six on a regular basis is a good idea. On some carryover days, you're basically hoping for a lone hit to make it a six- or seven-figure payout. Otherwise, even if you hit on a $2k play and it comes back at $20k, that sounds impressive, but it's really 9-1 for picking six winners in a row. That seems like pretty shitty odds to me.

So is this a good idea and an economical use of your betting capital if you have it? Or is it a better idea to play exactas/trifectas heavily or (as I kinda believe) play Pick Fours strongly? I'd like to find out.

So, for the next year or so, I'm going to be using this space as a spot to play virtual Pick Sixes and see where the bankroll goes. Let's bear in mind a couple of self-admitted weaknesses:

(1) I'm a good handicapper. I'm not a great handicapper. If it ends up being a tank job, you can argue the control factor was simply that I'm not too good at picking 6 winners in a row.

(2) I have a full-time job that requires a decent amount of time and attention. So while I'd like to spend hours and hours pouring over the Pick Six like Steve Crist...that's just not going to happen. Still, I'm going to make an honest effort out of this.

(3) I freely admit to being NY track-centric to the point of a fault, so there's little chance I'm going to delve into a Pick Six not carded on the NYRA circuit. (This may be a total wash-out if they stop racing soon...let's not discuss that just yet.) I may play an occasional card from another track, such as Breeders Cup or Derby day, but this is going to be a lot of Big A, Belmont, and 'Toga.

Anyway, what's the harm? Let's see where this takes us. Bets for Wednesday's Aqueduct card coming before noon tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Breeders Cup Preview: Dirt Mile

We now move on to the last of the Friday races, the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. Also a new addition for this year, it gives a spot to run for those that aren't swift enough to make the Sprint and aren't stout enough to make the Classic. A more cynical view is that it's for horses that aren't top-tier and need an excuse to run on Breeders Cup weekend. Whatever. It's an interesting field, so let's take a peek at it.

Conditions: 1 mile and 70 yards on the dirt, 3yos and up, $1 million purse. This race is supposed to be a flat mile, but Monmouth's track configuration makes that impossible given the location of the finish line, so they added 70 yards for this year. A more sensible approach would've been to move the finish line back 70 yards as well (something that Keeneland does), but nooooooo.

What works here: Previous success at a mile is probably key. A dirt mile race is a hybrid of a sprint and a route, and it usually takes a stout sprinter to win the race, rather than a turning back router.

What doesn't work here: My inclination is that cutting back in distance to severely will be fatal, as will having little or no success at 2 turns.

On to the analysis...

No thanks

9. Forefathers. This horse, through a goofy loophole, is cross-entered in both the Dirt Mile and Sprint. If you can't figure out where the hell you're going to run him on Breeders Cup weekend, you can't like his odds in either race.

8. Wanderin Boy. Cutting back from routes, routes and more routes, you have to think this is being treated by his trainer (also the trainer of Forefathers) as a silver place medal for the weekend. Problem is he's not that fast, and while he's 3-for-3 at a mile, those are starts from over a year ago. Not interested.

7. High Finance. His figures are brilliant, but they're all at 1-turn races, usually at 7 furlongs. The Cigar Mile, where they run only around 1-turn, is a more interesting spot for him. The other problem is that he seems to run well in easy spots and fizzle against top company, the Tom Fool excepted. Can't endorse.

6. Park Avenue Ball. Some folks like him because he's a Monmouth specialist. Whoopee. So's Cable Boy, and he'd finish 20 lengths behind the winner here.

Exotics Possibilities

5. Lewis Michael. This is his first true dirt start since running badly in last year's Sprint, as he's had nothing but Polytrack and turf since then. He's improved a bit in his 4-year old season, but there's nothing on paper that indicates that he's sitting on a nice race or has moved forward enough to challenge the big boys here. Coupled with the fact he's between a pair of speedballs, he may get trapped into running too fast too early here.

4. Gottcha Gold. Speed factor that could hold on for a price. Hey, he did beat Lawyer Ron in an eerily similar spot this summer, and followed that up with another front-running win. On the downside, I don't like that he's been on the shelf since, and his workout pattern makes me think he's really going to be winging it early, and backing up late.

3. Xchanger. Now here's someone that's made tremendous strides this season. Recall his Preakness debacle, where he set an insane pace with Flying First Class, and basically set the table for the real horses doing the running. He looked like a foolishly overmatched colt at that point, and his Haskell was no better. Since then, though, he's put together a pair of big efforts, including a sneaky-good 3rd to Diamond Stripes last out. I don't think that's enough to beat the main contenders here, but at 15-1 or so, he's a definite use in the exacta.

The X-Factor

2. Discreet Cat. I've watched a lot of horse racing and I have never, EVER, seen a horse as brilliant as this guy was in his first 4 North American starts. They were all things of beauty. Which is why his last effort was so disappointing, it's not that he lost, it's that he showed next to nothing off a layoff, a stark contrast to last year's comeback where he ran a 112 Beyer, er, Gowanus speed figure. His connections say he's working out great, but big deal, they always say that. He's the 2nd-most likely winner, and a total toss for me. Too bad.

The Pick

1. Corinthian. Here's a horse with the talent, style, and perfect opportunity to win this race. He's a Miler by nature, given his gorgeous Met Mile win back in the spring. I'm willing to toss his next race, where he stupidly chased a somewhat-quick pace in a route, and his last race was actually much better than it appears on paper; he made a nice middle move on the turn and just flattened out. It's exactly the kind of race you can build off of. To top it off, he's going to be an acceptable 4-1 or so on the board. Love him.


3rd--Lewis Michael
4th--Gottcha Gold

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breeders Cup Preview: Juvenile Turf

We're churning these babies out like there's no tomorrow, which is probably good, since we've got three races tomorrow. Up next is the much-maligned Juvenile Turf, which has been described by racing folks as stupid, irrelevant, premature and impossible to handicap. Personally, I think it's a fun race. I also don't think it's quite the clusterf*ck that everyone else does; there's a clear line between the haves and have-nots.

Conditions: 1 mile, turf, for 2 year olds (male and female), with a purse of $1 million. Oddly, this race caps out at a max of 12 entrants, which is a bit silly. Is it that hard to expand the gate by 2?

What works in this race: We're going off no history here, so let's apply logic and say good breeding, good training, and a good post draw. Wow, that's insightful Angelo.

What doesn't work in this race: If a horse wires the field here I'd be shocked. That's usually the case with older horses, and I can't see why it's going to be any different here with the youngsters, especially with a bunch stretching out for the first time.

On to the good, the bad and the fugly:

No Way in Hell

12. Preachin Man. Man, this is a great time to make your turf debut AND to stretch out from 6 to 8 furlongs, especially while being a speedball in all your earlier races. First early, last late.

11. Texas Fever. The only question here is why the hell Garrett Gomez is on this horse. Did he lose a hand of Seven Card Stud to Mike Stidham?

10. Nownownow. This guy's got a double-negative: my aforestated anti-Biancone play, on top of the fact I steadfastly refuse to endorse horses that have names mushed together into one word. The fact he stinks isn't hurting.

9. Your Round. This guy hasn't been close to a real contender in his previous races, the inside post isn't where you want to be, and his turf breeding is suspect. Outside of that, he's great.

8. Cannonball. Wesley Ward wasn't sure this horse was going to make it into the race with about 8 horses ahead of him in priority, so he ran him last Saturday in the King Cugat stakes, where he won a hard-fought victory. So he's wheelling him back 5 days later. While I think trainers do adopt a bit of a kid gloves approach on horses, this is ridiculous.

7. The Leopard. Huh? Yes, I'm tossing him altogether. The Pilgrim has become something of a negative key race, as every horse he beat in his last has come back to royally suck in their next start. To top that off, he's either going to get caught in a pace duel that he won't win, or worse, he'll get taken out of his game by rallying, something he's been reluctant to do. No thanks.

Exotic Ideas

6. Domestic Fund. From here on out, any of these horses could win, but I'm drawing lines where I think is appropriate. And I'm starting here. This horse hasn't done much wrong, and he's bred nicely. So why the downgrade to here? First, the 12 post is an absolute killer, as it robs him of any use of tactics to his advantage, especially since all indications are this horse likes to run closer to the pace than most. Second, I'm sure Dermot Weld is a prince of a guy, and I know he's a good trainer, but he's an absolute money bit on Breeders Cup day. With 11 starters, he's got 1 show finish, and that's with the immortal Brief Truce in the 1992 Mile. Can't see this guy being the guy to break the streak.

5. Gio Ponti. I thought I was going to like this guy more, but I can't place him ahead of the rest in this race. I'm also fairly dubious of his turf stakes victory---the pace was so eyepoppingly slow, it had to have inflated his speed figure to a level that's deceptive. When he's 9 lengths back tomorrow, how's that going to work?

4. Strike the Deal. This guy was my pick yesterday. Today, he's down to my triple fodder. What's the matter? I don't distrust the breeding (I think Van Nistelrooy is going to be a nifty little sire) or Noseda, who unlike Dermot Weld, has a Breeders Cup winner. No, I'm more skeptical of the stretch out factor, and that he'll be going from full sprint mode to 2 turns, which may not be his game just yet. It's more likely that he'll be hanging and fading late than striding to victory, methinks.


3. Prussian. See, this guy's a worthy favorite, but I'm somehow not totally sold on the hype. His maiden win was tremendous, but much like The Leopard's Pilgrim, it hasn't exactly produced a number of studs afterwards. And his Canadien score was pretty good, but I'm wary of the fact he beat Your Round by under 2 lengths, and I'm pretty sure that horse sucks, as evidence by his trouncing to Gio Ponti next out. You cannot tell me this guy's worth 2-1 odds. However, I can't tell you to throw him away either; if you're playing Pick-Whatevers, he has to be used defensively.

2. Cherokee Triangle. Quick, Sheets gurus---who's got the best turf numbers? No, it's not the Euros, it's not Prussian, and it sure as shit ain't The Leopard. It's this guy, who's put together a pair of big numbers in a row. I'm not a Sheets guy, so I don't know if that means he's going to bounce to the moon and he's a play-against. My hunch is the opposite--he's purely faster than most of the field, and is worth a win bet and a prominent place in all your exotics. Still, can't take him on top.

The Pick

1. Achill Island. Let's note his comment for his last race: "wide in 10th, progress in traffic 2f out, gamely". Let's interpret that: he had a shitty trip last out, and still managed to run a huge figure and finish a close second to a horse that'd be favored in this race (City Leader). He's impeccably bred, and he's from the O'Brien stable. If he's not the favorite, he should be. On paper, there isn't a flaw with this horse.


1st--Achill Island
2nd--Cherokee Triangle
3rd--Strike the Deal
4th--Gio Ponti

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Breeders Cup Preview: Filly and Mare Sprint

We now jump to one of the new-fangled races on Friday's card: the Filly & Mare Sprint. We've been saved the embarrassment of having the top contender La Traviata give this race the middle finger and embark on beating the boys, as the connections wisely decided that a horse who's never won a graded stakes might be a bit over her head in her 4th start to try the fastest males alive. Instead she comes here, where she'll take a ton of money, and be a great bet-against.

Conditions: $1 million purse, 6 furlongs on the dirt, for female horses 3 years of age and up. Stupidly, they designed this race to be at 7 furlongs every year, which makes no sense to begin with. Why go for a weird distance? To top it off, they can't run 7 furlongs at Monmouth anyway, so we're at the distance it should be. Maybe they'll fix this in the offseason.

What works in this race: Damned if we know, they've never run this race before. I dunno, being fast and good at 6 furlongs? That seems like a sound strategy.

What doesn't work in this race: Outside posts and lack of any early foot are deadly at Monmouth Park in general, so let's apply that to this as well. And let's make sure you're a specialist at the distance, as we'll discuss in the Real Sprint, it's rather key. And without further ado, let's break this down in reverse order, once again.

Thanks, but No Thanks

10. Shaggy Mane. She's a speedball that's never won a stakes race open to horses not bred in very hot places (Florida & California). On top of that, she's got the outside post and has to clear the field early to make any sort of headway. Unless there's a persistent track bias that's insanely speed-favoring, she'll finish closer to last than first.

9. Miraculous Miss. Has repeatedly been trounced by other members of this field. See, this is the other problem with this race: there are so few filly sprints out there, that the same group of horses are competing against each other all the time. I'm all for rivalry building, but it's impossible to do that when the horses are boring.

Worth Trying to Beat

8. La Traviata. Ever the contrarian, I'm putting the second-choice in the race as an also-ran. And with good reason. This is her fourth (4th!) start ever, and if we learned nothing from my handicapping of the Derby, I'll be damned before I take a horse that's proven absolutely nothing against real horses. To make matters worse, her trainer, who's already been barred from two continents, just got a 1-year suspension for having cobra venom in his barn. I'm betting against all his horses this weekend. So while we're at it...

7. Baroness Thatcher. Much better. Outside shot to run 3rd, but forget about anything else.

6. Wild Gams. She's getting some interest from the racing world because she ran a nice 2nd last out and may sit comfortably off a scorching pace. Here's the thing--while she had a nice 3yo season, her two "dirt" starts this year were utterly blah, and she moved up significantly on synthetic track. Seems to me like she's become something of a polytrack specialist. Seems to me like she's a waste of money.

5. Dream Rush. Remember how Better Talk Now was dismissed rather quickly here because he hadn't run since July? She's not quite as bad, as it's only 11 weeks since her last race. However, she's had a panoply of annoying odd injuries to the point where you have wto wonder about her fitness, though she's sporting a series of nice workouts. Still, I can't help but feel that she's still a bad favorite, as she's never competed against elders, and has had somewhat elevated figures from pedestrian opening quarters in he last couple of races. Also worth trying to beat.

Exotic Fodder

4. Miss Macy Sue. Tricky horse to figure out, because she's having a great year, but only ran fast in her last race...which was a polytrack effort. Hmmph. We're also not seeing a win at anything higher than a Grade 3, and while I mock the quality of these horses left and right, at some level, you have to beat the best of the bunch. She hasn't done so, outside of the last race, and I don't like Wild Game either. Away with ye.

3. Maryfield. This gal looks tremendous until you realize that she's not really a 6-furlong specialist, she's a seven furlong horse who runs passably well at 6 panels. That makes her useful for exactas and triples, but a terrible win bet. Poor Doug O'Neill, he has to wish this was actually at 7 furlongs this year.

2. Jazzy. Now here's a fun sleeper. After 9 turf starts, they swapped the South American queen onto the dirt, and she took the Gallant Bloom with some resiliancy in her last start. She's working out smartly, and not only has an underrated trainer in her corner (Mark Hennig, who's long overdue to win a BC race), but also gets the highly underrated David Flores in the irons. Yes, I realize she's got some of the negatives that the other horses above do (lack of a 6f win, one dirt start in her career), but she's going to be 20-1, and has a lot in her corner. Her price versus her chances clearly indicate she's a play.

The Pick

1. Oprah Winney. The fact that a New York bred is the selection in this race in and of itself makes me question its necessity. At any rate, throwing her last start out (which was a pure prep for this, something Rick Dutrow's pretty good at, a la Silver Train in 2005), she's coming off some verrrry nice efforts, and will flash enough speed to sit off the pacemakers, who as indicated, should burn each other out by the far turn. Her turn of foot and closing speed are good, and she's burning up the track in the morning. The thought is Garrett Gomez pounces on the turn and holds off the closers, and we've got our first Breeders Cup winner of '07.


1st--Oprah Winney
4th--Miss Macy Sue

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Breeders Cup Preview: Turf

We're going to take a look at all 11 races here before they go to post on Friday and Saturday, though I can't say we're guaranteeing a real in-depth look on Friday races, mostly because I can't really compel myself to give a crap about Maryfield. Let's start with one of the least interesting races on Saturday's card, the Turf.

Conditions: This is 1 1/2 miles on the turf, which at Monmouth is 3 laps. It's a long enough race that post position shouldn't matter a lick. Race is open to 3 year olds and up, and it's got a nice hefty purse of $3 million.

What works: A key to this race is having success in a Grade 1 stakes during the year and having success at 1 1/2 miles during the year. It seems pretty stupid to say this, but you'd be amazed as to how many times you get hosses at short prices here that don't fit those descriptions. If you're taking a horse that doesn't hit those two bars, demand a good price.

What doesn't work: Long layoffs used to be a hex, but Better Talk Now and Red Rocks dispelled that the last 3 years (and coincidentally, they're both here). Front runners are epic disasters here, with only Bucks Boy and Great Communicator (at a gazillion to one) being the only "wire" horses that have won. And American 3yos are sucky bets as well. Fortunately we don't have any of those this year. Lastly, horses that have won the Prix d'le Arc de Triomphe, the premier grass race in France, are 0-for-4 in this race. That's more relevant, if a small sample size.

Given that background info, let's take these horses in reverse order of usefulness. For this and other races, we'll be distinguishing between horses that have a shot to win and those that have a shot to hit the board, for the benefit of horizontal and vertical bettors.

Absolute Shockers

8. Transduction Gold. Owner/trainer John Glenney's got his first Breeders Cup starter here off his upset win in the Sycamore, which marks this horse's first graded stakes victory. He's made progress this year, but that progress would make him a longshot in a conventional Grade 1 race, let alone one against the Arc winner.

7. Fri Guy. This front-runner alternates useful efforts with crapfests. He's due for a crapfest. Even if he isn't, his useful efforts aren't any good either.

Bad Ideas

6. Shamdinan. This second-tier Euro won the Grade 1 Secretariat in August, a race that shouldn't be a Grade 1, over a bunch of American stiffs. He backed this up by failing to do anything against elders in the Man O'War, and then flopped miserably in the Jamaica against 2nd-tier 3yos. The fluke is the Secretariat, not the last two. Bet against.

5. Better Talk Now. Last year's runner up and 2004's winner (at 27-1) actually started off the year well, and clearly likes the distance. The problem is this 8-year old eunuch hasn't run since Independence Day weekend, due to a myriad of injuries. Trainer Graham Motion tried to get him into the Sword Dancer, Arlington Million, Man O'War, Turf Classic and about 43 other turf races, but he wasn't healthy. Why on earth should we think he'll be healthy here?

4. English Channel. I remain thoroughly unimpressed by this horse, which is probably good, because he's going to be 5-2 in this race. The competition this year is better than last year, he's a step or two slower...and we're to expect he'll improve off a 3rd place finish last year? Please. This is Pletcher hype gone awry. This colt has one thing going for him: he likes Monmouth. Beyond that, he's no faster than the others in the field, he'll probably be just off the lead too early, and 12 furlongs isn't his ideal distance. Play against him.

Price Plays

3. Red Rocks. The defending champ's a price play? Well, when you've done absolutely nothing right the entire year, that will ensure at least 6-1. Hell, I think he'll be the 4th choice actually. He's coming into this race in remarkably similar form to last year, and his trainer has been pointing for this race all year. The big difference is that he isn't facing a bunch of over-the-hillers and Twinkies, there's a legitimate giant in the field. And a nice American sleeper...

2. Grand Couturier. This horse has shades of Better Talk Now Version 2004 written all over him--upset in the Sword Dancer at a price, then an nice if underrated effort in the Man O'War, and some rest. Now comes the big dance, and he's probably going to be last early, but flying late. He's already shown he's okay with American courses and tighter turns than he was used to in Europe, and the distance is NOT a problem. And he'll be at least 10-1, and possibly closer to 20-1. What's not to like, outside of the fact he's facing...

The Pick

1. Dylan Thomas. There's time to go against chalk, and this isn't it. Here's how this horse can lose: (a) He gets injured; (b) he gets a bad ride; (c) he doesn't like the softer turf after rain pelts Monmouth all week. You can't predict the first 2, and the last one may not matter. He's simply one of the better turf horses to come stateside the last few years, and he should win going away here. I am not trying to beat this favorite.


1st--Dylan Thomas
2nd--Grand Couturier
3rd--Red Rocks
4th--Better Talk Now

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Quandry of Additional Breeders Cup Races

There's been a mounting of criticism of the new Breeders Cup races for them cheapening the Breeders Cup brand, and a thoughtful retort by Steve Crist in the Racing Form, noting that if the new races were simply called anything but the Breeders Cup XX, they'd be welcomed by the general public. Maybe. Here's my biggest complaint about the new races: they're taking away from the already existing Breeders Cup events by siphoning off good an interesting horses into second-tier events.

(Unlike Crist and most people, I have zero problem with the Juvenile Turf; I think it's fun, interesting, and will pro-actively lead to an expansion of the 2yo turf racing schedule, not to mention bringing more Euros over for October, as I noted here.)

As it currently stands, the Sprint this year is a wholly uninteresting affair, with a couple of flashes and oddities taking on Midnight Lute, a horse that doesn't love 6 furlongs. True, some of this is because of the unfortunate injuries to Fabulous Strike and Mach Ride, but the race kinda stinks. Let's, by contrast, take a look at the potential field if there were no F&M Sprint or Dirt Mile with morning line odds (which I had way too much fun making):

1. Kelly's Landing........12-1
2. High Finance...........15-1
3. La Traviata................8-1
4. Benny the Bull.........20-1
5. Midnight Lute............3-1
6. Attilla's Storm..........15-1
7. Bordonaro.................30-1
8. Dream Rush..............8-1
9. Greg's Gold.................10-1
10. Park Avenue Ball.......20-1
11. Discreet Cat................7-2
12. Commentator............20-1
13. Smokey Stover...........5-1
14. Idiot Proof.................8-1

The horses in blue are the ones that aren't being pointed for the Sprint. Eliminate those other races, and suddenly, we're rid of a pair of uninteresting races, and have gained a pair of fun fillies, the most interesting horse to run on BC Day (Discreet Cat), and a pair of curious longshots in High Finance and Park Avenue Ball. It sure beats the hell out of seeing Talent Search run 9th.

Sadly, the cat appears to be out of the bag with additional races, and it's only going to expand on Friday's card. How do we keep the primary Saturday races from being watered down? Easy--make them worth a helluva lot more money than the Friday races. You could jack all the Saturday races up by a million dollars, but that seems excessive. Instead, knock all the Friday races down to the $500k level, and give the owners a real question to ask. Do you want to run for $500k in the Dirt Mile/Filly Sprint, or 4 times as much money in the real deal? I'd also try to keep all the Friday races a Grade II events (I can see the argument for the F&M Sprint because they get an Eclipse Award, but that's it). It's important that Saturday's card resembles top-shelf racing, and not just a few great horses. The yearly calendar is watered down enough with stakes races and fields that don't match the best against the best, we don't need to make it worse.

For what it's worth (zippo), here's one man's proposal for a great two-day card with full and exciting fields that keeps Saturday as the epicenter of the weekend:


BC Juvenile Sprint; 2yo, 6 furlongs, $250k
BC Marathon; 3yo+, 14 furlongs, $250k
BC Turf Sprint; 3yo+ 6 furlongs (turf), $500k
BC Filly Mile; 3yo+ f&m, 1 mile (turf), $500k
BC Juvenile Turf; 2yo, 1 1/16 miles (turf), $500k
BC F&M Sprint, 3yo+ f&M, 6 furlongs, $500k
BC Decathalon, 1 1/4 miles (turf), $500k
BC Dirt Mile, 3yo+, 1 mile, $500k


BC Juvenile Filles; $2 million
BC Juvenile; $2 million
BC F&M Turf; $2 million
BC Sprint; $2 million
BC Mile; $3 million
BC Distaff; $3 million
BC Turf; $4 million
BC Classic; $6 million

This would not only make for a fun Friday, but it'd also give horses that don't quite have a spot now in pretty much all divisions a place to run for less money, while keeping the integrity of Saturday's card. And that's what matters most.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Morning Line/Value Odds

As most handicappers know, to compute a morning line, a fair way is to approximate how many times you think each horse would win a race if they ran it 115-120 times (you go over 100 to account for the takeout. People like Senor Watchmaker do this all the time. So why not give it a shot here? These are a few morning lines that I'd set up based on what I think a horse's chances are in the big races. Please note these are not remotely what I think their betting odds would be, or what a real morning line should look like. Instead, view this as a "value" line---if a horse's odds are higher than I've posted them, I think they're a bargain.


Street Sense: 2-1
Curlin: 3-1
Any Given Saturday: 4-1
George Washington: 12-1
Hard Spun: 12-1
Lawyer Ron: 18-1
Tiago: 20-1
Awesome Gem: 50-1
Diamond Stripes: 50-1


Dylan Thomas: 3-5
Champs Elysees: 8-1
Grand Couturier: 10-1
Red Rocks: 10-1
Sunriver: 12-1
Better Talk Now: 18-1
English Channel: 18-1
Honey Ryder: 30-1
Shamdinan: 30-1
Fri Guy: 100-1
Transduction Gold: 500-1
Icy Atlantic: 1000-1

Pre-Entries are Out!

11 races, 141 horses, a Derby winner, an Arc winner, and a horse named after a Pearl Jam song. Man, you have to love when they announce the Breeders Cup pre-entries. Here are ten quick thoughts after perusing them rather swiftly:

(1) There are 23 horses pre-entered in the Juvenile Turf, of which just over half will start. This race is going to be an even bigger bear than we initially thought.

(2) Barclay Tagg smartened up and entered Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Mile, presumably partially because of the withdrawal of Shakespeare. I can't say he's going to be my pick---he's going to be a really short price versus his odds, a la Peace Rules in 2003 and Artie Schiller in 2004---but he makes a rather blah affair a lot more interesting.

(3) Dylan Thomas is coming for the Turf, great, blah blah blah. Much more interesting is the presence of Champs Elysees, who's a full to Dansili (sire of last year's Arc winner Rail Link, and loser of the 2000 Mile by two noses) and out of the same dam that's produced BC F&M Turf winners Intercontinental and Banks Hill. I'm not convinced that 1 1/2 miles is his best distance (witness the lackluster performance of his brother Cacique last year), but he'll be a veeeery intriguing alternative to Dylan Thomas at a square price.

(4) Speaking of Euros, not a bad group this year. I can't say I'm overwhelmed, but better than early reports were indicating.

(5) There are NINE horses entered in the Breeders Cup Classic. Nine. That's it. Of which two of them (George Washington and Diamond Stripes) are cross-entered in other races. My guess is the former stays and the latter goes for the Dirt Mile, making this field hideously small, if contentious.

(6) No Darjina, but a pair of interesting fillies in the Mile in My Typhoon and Precious Kitty. With the successes of Six Perfections and Gorella in recent years, they have to be taken seriously.

(7) Where the hell is Shakis? Bah.

(8) The trickiest betting proposition of the day will probably be how heavily to use Midnight Lute in the Sprint. He may not be a true 6-furlong horse, but that enormous Gowanus Speed Figure in his last looms large.

(9) If Oprah Winney wins the F&M Sprint, I officially disavow that as a legitimate Breeders Cup race.

(10) Last but not least, the Dirt Mile features two of the most fascinating talents in racing in Discreet Cat and Corinthian. On talent alone they should run 1-2, but nobody would be surprised if they ran up the track either. That's gonna be fun.

Previews and more thoughts to come....