Saturday, July 28, 2007

Today's Stakes Races

I was going to do a whole piece on how the "Win and You're In" concept is silly, but time is dictating that I do the picks and move along, so that's for later. The late Pick Four today is absolutely fantastic from a betting perspective, and is going to offer great value. Let's look at the big 4 races, assuming dirt is fast for the last 3 races:

Diana: How you play this race really comes down to what you do with My Typhoon, who's having a great year for Bill Mott (who's won this race the last two years with Sand Springs and Angara). Pat Biancone is sending out Countess Scala solely to soften her up, and it's not a terrible idea, as My Typhoon is a fairly committed front runner. It may not even matter anyway; while her local record is very good, she's still 1-for-7 at the distance, and may at heart be a miler (which is a tad puzzling, given she's a half to Galileo and Black Sam Bellamy, both of which were Grade 1 winners at 12 furlongs). So if she's weakened up, you have to like Makderah's chances, who's done absolutely nothing wrong in the States and showed a titanic closing kick in the New York Handicap at Belmont. (Only real negative is Alan Garcia, but we said the same thing about Fernando Jara last year.) Equally intriging is Danzon, who ran 3rd against the boys in her last, and who Biancone said didn't like the turf last time out. Have to think she's sitting on a big race here. This looks like a good spot to play against Pletcher, as Magnificent Song hasn't looked quite as good since winning the Garden City last year. Argentina will probably need a race, and Mauralakana isn't fast enough to win. If you're looking for a fun bomb at a price (12-1 or so), Meribel should be flying late, is 2-for-2 at Saratoga, has a great set of connections, and has run pretty well all year. Picks: (1) Makderah; (2) Danzon; (3) Meribel.

A.G. Vanderbilt: The easy way to play this race is to note that all but one horse is a front-runner, so they should cancel each other out and let Benny the Bull sweep by and take it with ease, much like a bunch of other races this week. Piece of cake, right? Um.....not so sure. Call me crazy, but I don't trust the speed figures in the last two races, especially when he received what the commenters call a "perfect trip", and when one's from Iowa. If anyone's going to close into the pace, it's most likely to be Diabolical, who will be able to sit a little and get first run on the leaders. I also like that he's clearly been pointing for this race for the last two months, albeit perhaps as a prep for the Grade 1 Forego. Ditto for Saint Anddan, who's improving nicely and may actually sit a good trip. Commentator has to be used in Pick-everythings defensively, as he's the fastest on his best day, and may just survive a pace duel as there's no High Finance to challenge him here. As this race's bomb du jour, Simon Pure may really appreciate the cutback in distance to six furlongs, and could be sitting on a nice effort. Picks: (1) Diabolical; (2) Saint Anddan; (3) Simon Pure.

Go For Wand: What do you do in a race where there's a horse who's clearly going to be the favorite but is wholly unappealing? (And not in a Circular Quay-in-the-VA Derby way where it's an obvious bet-against, I mean in the sense where you could see the horse win, but the entry is wholly uninteresting.) Play against it! And I'm looking, Ginger Punch, who's out of the old stalwart Nappelon (contemporary of luminaries Kashetreya and Trucking Baron), and has earned a pair of big numbers under suspicious circumstances; the former when having her own way in a 7 furlong sprint, the latter closing in a bizzarely run Ogden Phipps where the middle fractions made no sense. Can't use her. I can use Ermine, but she's hardly exciting as well, as her last at Churchill was pretty mediocre, making me wonder if she's a California success story. Most of the rest of the crowd will flock to Jerkens' Teammate, but I'm much more interested in the "other Jerkens" (tm Progressive Handicapping)---Miss Shop. She's had something of an odd New York campaign, with two lackidasical turf efforts followed by a quick wheelback in the Ogden Phipps where she showed nothing. Understandably: it was 7 days after her last race! Jerkens has freshened her up a little for this race, and she's got a tremendous number with her last Gulfstream race, under similar conditions. I like her to spring an upset here at 10-1 or so. For the 3rd slot, I'll give the nod to the bred-for-the-distance Soul Search, who may be able to close into a fairly honest pace. Picks: (1) Miss Shop; (2) Ermine; (3) Soul Search.

Whitney: We now come to the big race of the day, which, as Steve Crist accurately said, has 11 horses you can make a case for. (I presume he doesn't like Student Council.) If you thought the Vanderbilt had a ton of speed, that's a trifling compared to the scramble for the front we'll see from Wanderin Boy, Fairbanks, Flashy Bull (they probably have to send him from the inside) and possibly Papi Chullo as well. Of those, I could see Fairbanks pulling off a Roses in May in 2003 and surviving the battle, based on his breeding and past performances, but I don't like the winner to come from that group. Nor do I like Awesome Twist, who's shown absolutely no evidence that he'll like 9 furlongs. Lawyer Ron is theoretically intriguing, but the 11 post may require him being used too early as well, and if not, he's going to be outkicked by a bunch of others. I have bet Ass Hat precisely two times, and in both races, he flopped miserably and got hurt. For his sake, I will not use him here. Sun King is doomed to be the Don Mattingly of the class of 2005 and will not get a Grade 1 win. That leaves us with three ponies, of which I like Magna Graduate the most. Had he gotten up in the Stephen Foster, he's be the probable favorite here. Instead, thanks to a poor trip and a head bob, he's more likely to be sitting at 6-1 or so, and I think is Pletcher's best horse. Diamond Stripes is very intriguing with 5 nice starts under his belt and nowhere to go but up; my question with him is whether or not Notebook is the ideal sire for a Grade 1 9-furlong race. Lastly, Dry Martini has been consistent all year, but the real question is what caused that bump in speed figures in his last: Barclay Tagg or the Bute? I'm leaning towards the latter, and thinking a regression is in order. Still, he's tough to leave out of serial wagers. Picks: (1) Magna Graduate; (2) Diamond Stripes; (3) Fairbanks; (4) Dry Martini.

It's a fun card today (which is more than I can say about tomorrow), so play it well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 26's fun early Pick Three

Well, Wednesday's pick went tremendously well---Minister's Appeal scratched and negated the fact he was a great pick. Bah. Here's a few impressions after watching replays from Wednesday's card:

(1) Speed was getting killed all day today on the dirt track favoring closers. Or was it? In the 2nd race, potential star Sargent Seattle stalked the pace pretty well, and the horses that were 1-2 early finished 2-1. Closers took the next three dirt affairs, but the early fractions were all sub 22 2/5, at which point it's only natural for closers to horn in. It's worth keeping an eye on front-runners that did well today; namely, Garifine in the 8th and Brilliant Son in the 3rd.

(2) I Promise deserves her own paragraph with her fantastic effort in the Schuylerville, which was more impresive than Subtle Aly's tight photo win. After setting blistering fractions, she had every right to turn it in at the eighth pole, only to re-rally late in resiliant manner against the winner while in somewhat tight. Her cause was helped somewhat by According To Plan getting a hideous start and losing most chance she had to win, but nonetheless, the runner-up is the one to watch next out.

(3) Steve Crist was right, I was wrong. Borobudor did absolutely nothing in a meh-rific 4th place finish in the 5th race. Warn ran fine in victory, but watch out for Terror On Track in his next, who was closing stoutly on the rail and was stopped by a tiring horse lugging in.

(4) Lastly, Sargent Seattle throws his hat into the ring for flashiest 2yo to date, looking nothing shy of great in a lengthening victory. I'm not quite ready to draw the Discreet Cat comparisons, but he looks like a good one out of one of the "Big Five" freshman sires in Vindication. (The other 4 being Sky Mesa, Aldebaran, Mineshaft and Empire Maker.) Let's compare his time and Beyer versus Thursday's Sanford.

Speaking of Sky Mesa, let's look at tomorrow's Pick Three. We start by turning to the 2nd race on Thursday's card, a maiden race for 2yo fillies which strangely only draws a field of 7---you'd think more owners would be chomping at the bit to get their little fillies out at the Spa. The first-timers will have to be something special to overtake either of the duo of Cozy Mesa and Twisted Tale, each of which ran races that would be winners 85% of the time in their debuts. I'm generally of the opinion that a 2yo that's already run an impressive race once is an infinitely better bet than a first time starter, so I'll toss Pletcher's Alachua and go with the two with experience for Pick 3's here. If you're looking to spread or take a flyer in the trifectas, the Shugster sends out Forest Trail, who's a half to the improving Carriage Trail and whose dam is a multiple G3 winner, and may be precocious enough first time out (though that's rare for McGaughey), as she's by Forest Wildcat.

The 3rd is the overnight Dancing Renee stakes at the quirky 6 1/2 furlong distance for NY-bred fillies. What could have possibly convinced the braintrust at NYRA that this was a necessary stakes race is beyond me, but here it is anyway. Gary Contessa's doing so well that you'd automatically upgrade Gold Like U first off a claim, but query whether the Dutrow-to-Contessa move is even a plus for a horse that's prime to regress off a good effort. Ignoring the hopeless entries by stalwarts Charlton Baker and Patrick Kelly, which makes this more Aqueduct style than Spa style, and the standouts are John Kimmel's Stolen Star, who's developed a hideous case of seconditis, and John Ward's Lovely Dream, a deserving favorite that's tough to get past. I'm amazed that John Ward, a trainer of top quality in my estimation, has had a mere thirty-three starters this year. That's astoundingly low. And this hoss is three of them, none of them out of the money efforts, and it almost looks like Ward's using this effort to prep her for something better down the road. Coupled with the fact that I still can't figure out how someone paid $220k for a New York bred filly, and I have to conclude that this is one pretty damn nice looking horse. Single her in the Pick 3, and if you want to spread, backup with Stolen Star.

Which brings us to the 4th race, a fun maiden turf route race for 3yo fillies. Any perfunctory analysis comes up with Stage Dream and Queens Full as the must-use horses, but they're not exactly laying over the field, so this is a good place to spread for a price. Star Dixie may very well be the favorite here, and she has to be included in the Pick 3's as a saver, but I'd much rather take a shot on either Elizaveta, who's coming in with a bullet workout for the always dangerous Jonathan Sheppard, and as a total bomb Silver Moonshine, who improved nicely with the addition of blinkers for the underrated George Weaver at Colonial last out and just may steal this one on the front end.

In an effort to maximize return when a pair of favorites are liked, I would try to press hard on getting the preferred horse in the 2nd race (to me, Cozy Mesa) along with Ward's charge, and go heavier on the spead in the last race. Here's a thought on maximizing Pick Three value via multiple wagers:

$1 Pick 3: 2,3 with 2,4 with 1,3,6,7,8 ($20)
$2 Pick 3: 2 with 2 with 1,3,6,7,8 ($10)
$2 Pick 3: 2 with 2,4 with 1,7 ($8)
$2 Pick 3: 2,3 with 2 with 1,7 ($8)

The strategy keeps you in if either of your "backups" hit in the first two races so you can at worst break even in the 4th, and allows you the possibility of catching a bomb at the end. The latter two bets are if you think that Mott & Clement own the race and you need more money on them to get the proper payoff. If you don't, then they're excludable, and I'd instead up the dollar amount on the middle wager singling in the 2nd & 3rd. Of course, you could also bet less money, which is never a bad idea.

And onwards to Saratoga we continue!

July 25, 2007 Saratoga Race of the Day

There's a bunch of races today that reek of blahness, and a bunch that are quite interesting. Falling squarely into the "interesting" category are the 2nd and 9th races, but since I'm well aware of my limitations when it comes to handicapping and analyzing 2yo races, I'll pass on those for now. Our newest member of the blogosphere, Sir Steven Crist, has already done a fine job with the 5th race, so while I disagree with his conclusions (I like Borobudur), I won't repeat his analysis. (BTW, congrats to Alan for the well-deserved shout-out on the DRF blog.) And while I like the 3rd race more than a little, especially since I think once again Deadly Dealer is a bet-against at a short price, I'm going to say let's look at today's 8th as the Race of the Day, since it comes square in the middle of the late Pick-everythings.

The race marks the, um, return for Incriminate, who won impressively first time out on Travers Day last year for Godolphin, and followed that up with a pair of uninspiring 4th place finishes in graded stakes. Freshened for Saratoga by resting for 10 months, he's back at the site of his best race, and he's coupled with the interesting Blue Sky God, who ran his last in Dubai. The jockeys are notable here, Luzzi is riding Blue Sky God, which strikes me as the oddest pairing we'll see on opening day, and Velazquez is on Incriminate, and not Garifine. I realize Pletcher's gotten the services of Gomez on Garifine, but you have to question the horse's ability when even Velazquez jumps off him to ride a steed that hasn't been out for 3/4 of a year and has never ridden before. I'll play against Pletcher partially on that theory, and partially because I'm always wary of big Beyers in maiden races earned by front-runners---often that doesn't reveal that the horse is a speed champ, it just means he got the race his own way, especially when there's no proof of any other races in that echelon.

Baby Rusch is an elder against 3yos here, but I feel like his best is going to be on an uncontested lead, which he won't get here. And while the horse may be quick, Joseph DeMola needs to start winning races before I'm going to bet someone like Jamaica Kev. Mr. Rowdy will take some action based on being a beaten favorite twice in a row, despite not showing much in his last two and getting the estimable Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons. Color me unimpressed.

So for a price play, why not Minister's Appeal, who's 15-1 on the morning line and has superb connections in Mott and Prado? His last two races are almost total toss-outs; his previous was on the turf, and he got a hideous start in his last race, both of which may have cost him any chance. This slightly goes against what I said earlier about betting a horse who's earned a huge Beyer front-running in a maiden race; however, the 81 he ran the race before that indicates to me that he may have just move forward in his last.

So the play for me is a strong wni bet on Minister's Appeal if he's double-digits (I think he will be), and using him in exactas both ways with the Godolphin entry, Irish Ace, who broke his maiden here, and Pauillac, who should be flying late. Hopefully the prices will be solid.

Enjoy opening day! It's possibly the best day at Saratoga each year, as it's ripe with the promise of great racing and a lucrative August. It isn't usually until the Alabama that we realize the latter isn't in the cards, once again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's Coming Up for Saratoga

Here's what you will NOT find on this blog about Saratoga:

(1) Tales of woe regarding bets gone wrong and times that so-and-so screwed you out of a twin trifecta because of a lightning storm that struck the canoe and set fire to the starter's knickers. Or some other tale of hyperbole and windbaggedness, a la Plagarizing Andy Beyer.

(2) Yet another tale about the beauty and history and charm of Saratoga. Here, I'll just say it now---Saratoga's pretty awesome to be at in August. Case closed. I refuse to turn into Steve Rushin.

(3) Tales of times in Saratoga with my buddies. It's boring enough when Bill Simmons does it, the last thing you need is stories of my friends, who are even less interesting than J-Bug.

(4) A recap of every race. Steve Crist does such a tremendous job in his Saratoga Journal that I'm not even going to fathom emulating or duplicating it.

(5) A look into the scenes and news surrounding the track. Again, Alan's so good at it, why duplicate something that's tough to build on?

(6) Discussing TVG. If you want to hear incessant negativity, there's about 5000 racing writers I can put you in touch with.

Okay, so is anything left? Yes! What I'd like to discuss about Saratoga here:

(1) Previews and analysis of the interesting races each day. These may be the stakes races, these may not be. For example, Wednesday's card has a fine stakes race, but the 3rd and 5th races are vastly more intriguing and will get a full treatment here.

(2) Recaps of important races. Again, this could be stakes racing, it could not be.

(3) Attempting to spot trends, myths, and angles, both from a handicapping and betting perspective.

(4) Identifying horses to watch in the future, then actually following up on what happens with them, both during Saratoga and afterwards. The great thing about the Spa is trying to see who becomes the next star; a particular weekend in 2003 yielded wins by Purge, Read the Footnotes, Roses in May and Clock Stopper before anyone had heard of them. There's something immensely entertaining and gratifying about seeing a future star breakout.

Real analysis coming tomorrow. Promise.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Racing Recap, or Why My Picks Stunk

Let's take a peek at the picks for this weekend's primary stakes races:

CCA Oaks: (1) Octave, (2) Humble Janet, (3) Wow Me Free
VA Derby: (1) Blazing Dynamo, (2) Summer Doldrums, (3) Duveen, (4) Strike a Deal

Let's now compare with the actual results:

CCA Oaks: (1) Octave, (2) Lear Princess, (3) Folk, (4) Humble Janet, (5) Wow Me Free
VA Derby: (1) Red Giant, (2) Strike a Deal, (3) Soldier's Dancer, (4) Summer Doldrums, (5) Blazing Dynamo

So what happened? Well, picking Octave right wasn't exactly an accomplishment, she was 1-2 and won with little difficulty. The problem in both races was imagining a pace scenario that didn't happen; namely, that certain horses would ensure a prompt pace in both races and enable closers to do their thing. That didn't happen at all, making Red Giant's task easier and taking a horse like Humble Janet out of the equation. Note to self for next go-around: try not to infer that there's a pace meltdown out of nowhere.

Lastly, as a note regarding the tenor and substance (such that there is any) of the blog, my writing style and analysis assumes that you know something about racing, but isn't written for someone who's a total savant in racing. Instead, I'm writing for someone of the knowledge level of my buddy Teddy from the Gowanus Rotisserie Baseball Gazette: familiar enough with the basics of racing to get it, but not quite nuanced in the details. And I'm hear to educate and discuss those very details. If desired, I'll go more basic need be, but I feel like that's just not necessary at this point.

Saratoga's card for Wednesday has been released! To say the least, the Spa will dominate posts here for the next 6 weeks. Can't wait. Coming up soon: thoughts on Saratoga prior to the meet, some things to watch, and of course, the Wednesday card in glorious detail.

Stakes Analysis: Virginia Derby

With all due respect to Belmont and Del Mar, the real fun race for the weekend is the 10th running of the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. Colonial is an interesting course for the States--it's all turf! Located in Middle of Nowhere, Virginia, it was designed in the 90's to emulate European racing, where the dirt is the anomaly. The inside fence is moved in and out of the course of the days and meet to make "new" courses each time, and to avoid too much wear and tear on the grass. And the centerpiece of the meet is the Virginia Derby, a Grade 2 on the grass at a mile and a quarter for a cool million dollars.

Much like the race analyzed yesterday, the CCA Oaks, this race is part of a greater series
of races. Unlike the faux Triple Tiara, this one has a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: sweeping the Colonial Turf Cup (run last month), the Va Derby, the Secretariat (next month at Arlington Park) and the BC Turf results in a $5 million bonus. That'll keep your attention if you're an owner.

So let's start with the horse that's eligible for the bonus: Rick Violette's Summer Doldrums. A son of Street Cry (same sire as Street Sense), he's taken well to the turf since a poor showing in the Wood Memorial, with a nose loss in his turf debut, followed by winning the CTC by a head in his last. His breeding is strong for the turf and the distance, and he's got good tactical speed to sit off front runners Inca King and Red Giant and get first run on the closers. Making his case even a little bit better is the fact he didn't have the best trip in the CTC by going 6 wide on the far turn, and was still able to turn the tables on Strike a Deal, who beat him in his turf debut. He's a tough customer that's going to be heard from, even if he does have the utterly uninspiring Jose Lezcano in the irons.

Despite all this, he's not the morning line favorite and probably won't be the post-time favorite. Those honors will fall to Circular Quay, a veteran of the Triple Crown who was last seen running an uninspired 5th in the Preakness, following his uninspired 6th in the Derby. Super trainer Todd Pletcher now switches him to the turf for the first time, and goes back to 10 furlongs for the million dollar purse here. Is this a good idea? Well, chasing a good purse isn't a bad idea, and he's got the fastest Beyer Speed, Gowanus Speed the race, albeit all on dirt. How's he going to translate to turf? Lauren Stich posits that Thunder Gulch is a "hidden turf sire", which he is to some extent, though he's clearly preferable on dirt. Circle of Life, Circular Quay's dam, never tried the turf, but with her background, it's not unfathomable that she'd be okay with running on the grass.

But even more of an issue than his questionable ability on turf is the fact he may not be a horse for a mile and a quarter. Circular Quay has failed to finish within 6 lengths of the winner in a Grade 1 route race, and his only success at a route race was in the Louisiana Derby, where he beat absolutely nobody. And while Thunder Gulch should sire a distance horse, his mum, Circle of Life, was a sprinter at heart when she ran. (Granted, she retired a tad prematurely with an injury in the Test, but she was still best at shorter distances.) So what we've got here may not be a router, but really a miler at heart. This is the type of favorite you're suppose to play against, and I think he's a good bet-against.

So who are our other options? Inca King and Red Giant look like they're speed factors only. Soldier's Dancer isn't fast enough. Neither is Love Dubai, though he closed stoutly in his last, and could catch a piece at an okay price. Top Cross has the Pletcher factor working for him, but seems to be a cut below. Let's look at the remaining three horses in turn:

Strike a Deal has yet to finish out of the exacta in a turf race, and is out of Smart Strike, the same sire as English Channel, the 2005 winner. He's exchanged tight finishes with Summer Doldrums in his past two, so if you like Summer Doldrums (as I do), you really can't put Strike a Deal too far out of the picture either. The only real "issue" I can find with him is that I don't love Alan Goldberg as a trainer, but I'm nitpicking.

Duveen may be the forgotten horse on the tote board, as he won the Crown Royal American Turf on Kentucky Oaks day, then fell asleep behind Inca King in his last. He's bred superbly to hit 10 furlongs on the turf, and should get excellent tracking position just off the leaders and near Summer Doldrums. And his trainer won this race 3 years ago with Kitten's Joy. Have to include him in everything.

Most intriguing of them all is Blazing Dynamo, who appears to have finally woken up and is living up to his excellent breeding. He's a dead closer who will be absolutely flying late and will relish the extra distance here. Given the fact that there may be a stiff pace here that may even involve Summer Doldrums and Strike a Deal, he's a closer to watch and see if he improves. Let's take a stab with him at 20-1 or so.

So after all that analysis, the picks are:

(1) Blazing Dynamo
(2) Summer Doldrums
(3) Duveen
(4) Strike a Deal

For those betting the race, I would focus on Blazing Dynamo and Duveen, but would back up those bets with Summer Doldrums and Strike a Deal on top of exactas and trifectas as well. Getting Circular Quay out of the money will add so much value to the exotics that they'll be worth it.

Enjoy the race!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stakes Analysis: Coaching Club American Oaks

Apologies for the paucity of commentary and posts this week, but it's been a doozy at work, what with the torrential downpours that we had on Wednesday, the blast of the steam pipe on the East Side (a block from our NYC office), and the vagaries of just work in general. Regardless, let's get to one of our tasks at hand here: analyzing a New York stakes race. I'd look at the entire card for Saturday, a/k/a, Ladies' Day at Belmont, but with the exception of Shug McGaughey running Parading in the 3rd race, it's a pretty uninteresting card. (Can't we do something to minimize the number of New York-bred races on a Saturday, for crying out loud?) So let's go to the big one, the Coaching Club American Oaks.

Run at a mile and a quarter, the "classic" distance that's also the same length as the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup Classic (along with many other races of note), the CCA Oaks was once the 3rd part of the Triple Tiara, the NY version of the Triple Crown for 3-year old fillies, coupled with the Acorn and Mother Goose, both races run earlier in the meet. The Triple Tiara was changed a few years back to instead consist of the Mother Goose, CCA Oaks, and the Alabama, which is run on the 4th Saturday of the Saratoga meet. There was some chatter about this new series of races when Spoken Fur won the first two legs in 2003, but she flopped miserably in the Alabama to Island Fashion. Smuggler also won the first two legs in 2005, but was injured and retired soonafter, and I'd be lying to you if I said there was an iota of hoopla over the fact she won the first two legs. Which is something of a shame, because the old Triple Tiara was won by some great fillies, including Sky Beauty, Open Mind, Davona Dale, Mom's Command and the incomparable Ruffian (left).

Is there a similar potential for greatness this year? Well, originally this was the spot for Super Girl Rags to Riches to make her next start after her historic Belmont, with the possibility of another run against the males in the Travers being in the offing. Sadly, though, she was declared from the race with a fever, and will instead be pointed for the Alabama. Result? Todd Pletcher goes to his #2 filly, Octave...who won the Mother Goose and is thus the lone girl eligible to win the new Triple Tiara. And she's a pretty bonafide favorite; she's run a pair of very nice races in a row in finishing 2nd in the Kentucky Oaks to Rags to Riches before taking the Mother Goose over 3 other fillies. Prior to those two efforts, her other 7 races all resulted in her finishing first or second, and if she had a pair of head bobs come out differently, she'd have 3 Grade 1 wins under her belt. Much as I like to beat favorites, this isn't the spot to try.

So there's no money made in the race? Hardly! This is where the beauty of exotic betting comes into play, because the second choice in the morning line, Lear Princess, is extremely vulnerable. She's 3-for-3, with all wins coming over either the grass or Polytrack (a synthetic clay-esque surface whose analog is closer to grass than dirt often), and is by Lear Fan, who's a great turf sire, but NOT a dirt sire. To top it off, the horse is owned by West Point, a syndicate who's often known for spotting their horses a tad overambitiously, often to say they've competed in Grade 1 stakes races for the sake of their clientele and/or to recruit new clients. At 3-1, she's worth passing on in search of a better price.

Much tougher to analyze is Folk, the third choice on the morning line, who comes off a horrendous run in the UAE Derby, where she took on males and got thumped to the tune of 25 lengths. She bred ok for the distance, but appears to be a need-the-lead type who may get hooked up with Coy Coyote (longshot on the rail) from the outset, softening her up for the end. It wouldn't surprise me to see her run well, but I'll try something else. Instead, let's take a stab with longshots Humble Janet, who's got amazingly obscure breeding but comes off a big effort in her last; and Wow Me Free, who has interesting breeding for the distance but obscure connections. Both should be at least 20-1 and could close into a fairly brisk pace and catch money.

So the call for the Belmont's final Grade 1 until September:

(1) Octave
(2) Humble Janet
(3) Wow Me Free

Enjoy the race! Time permitting, I'll be back tomorrow to take a look at the weekend's most interesting race, the Virginia Derby.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mission Statement

Hello! If you've found this blog, then welcome! Perhaps you've gotten here through our sister site, the Gowanus Rotisserie Baseball Gazette, or perhaps you just love racing, much like me. No matter. This is going to be an occasional blog, with updates hopefully a few times a week, with the variables being work, life, and whether or not they're racing at Aqueduct. (Hint: if they are, it'll be less often.)

So who am I? I'm a New Yorker with a big interest in thoroughbred racing from all angles. But I'm not going to be thorough and comprehensive about the news that's going on in racing; Alan does such a tremendous job of that, it'd be stupid to replicate his work. Instead, I'm looking to focus on a few areas of racing, such as....
  • Stakes racing in general, with a huge emphasis on the New York circuit. I love all types of races, but I'm by far the best at analyzing and deciphering better horses, so we'll get into a lot of that here.
  • New York racing as it pertains to the racetrack, and less so to the business/financial aspects.
  • Discussion of betting methods for players out there that want to hit the track with more than $20 but less than $200, and aren't interested in the Dave Litfin approach of saving it up for one leg.
  • Full discussion and analysis of big days at the track and the Saratoga meet specifically. There's nothing better than Saratoga.
  • Snark, criticism, observations and thoughts regarding the oddities and silly people in racing and moronic observations you see made on a daily basis, be it from a trainer or the Daily Racing Form. If you haven't seen our GRBG work, that's roughly what we're looking at here.
  • Updates and looks at all the divisions in racing, with thoughts on where we're headed in the Breeders Cup.
  • And last, some research projects from time to time into various ideas and debunking (or proving) myths.
So buckle up and let's have some fun. Comments and thoughts are welcome, as is criticism--I'm not an expert by any stretch, just a guy who loves racing and has opinions that are as baseless as the next guy. (Well, okay, hopefully a little more soundly based.) Coming up soon: thoughts on Saratoga before the meet starts.