Category Archives: Handicapping

Get In Line Early for the Corned Beef Sandwiches–OAKLAWN OPENS TOMORROW!!

It’s that time again, for weekend trips up to the Arkansas hill country for a dip in the Hot Springs bathhouses and afternoons at OAKLAWN PARK!

The traditional first Friday is Founders’ Day, and since the track is celebrating 105 years, the concessions will have prices from that past century: the famed corned beef sandwiches are only fifty cents and cokes are a dime!  And seriously, you get you money’s worth with the pile of beef they stack on the thick wheat bread slices.  I like mine with mustard, but a dab of mayo is fine, too.  Or even plain!   The lines for the sandwiches snake all around the grandstand, and the wait can be 30 minutes at least, but it is worth it for the great tips you get while chatting with the other players.  I hit a nice exacta the very first year I attended opening Friday after hearing about a John Servis colt making his debut that day.

The racing at Oaklawn is always competitive.  For the first card, all but one of the races is filled to 12 starters, and the one exception is the Dixieland Stakes with a solid field of 8 3yos.

I like Malibu Maverick and Dance Caller in the Dixieland.  

In the 1st race, I like Doctor EtbauerIndian Blossom in the 7th…and for the Elvis connection, Flaming Star in the 9th

Oaklawn promises to be a major stop on the Derby trail yet again.  With the proliferation of synthetic surfaces, many trainers are sending strings to Arkansas because of its traditional dirt surface, which the track management seems to keep in good condition.  Last year there were only 2-3 breakdowns for the entire 54 day meet.  Among those on the grounds is OLD FASHIONED, my top Derby pick.  He is probably going in the Southwest Stakes in Feb., but I am hoping he makes a start in the Rebel on March 14.  I plan on being there that day, for the next Infield Trip!

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Filed under Derby Prepes, Handicapping, Oaklawn Park

Elvis Presley Day Special PICKS

Happy Birthday, Elvis

Happy Birthday, Elvis

Tomorrow would have been Elvis Presley’s 74th birthday.  What does this have to do with thoroughbreds, you ask?  Not much, really, except that I wouldn’t have the financial resources to play my favorite game or attend my favorite races without him.  Plus, Elvis liked horses.

In honor of EAP’s birthday celebration (free cake & coffee if you’re in Memphis that day) here are the PICKS!!

There are 2 really great 3yo allowance races at Gulfstream tomorrow, featuring some promising maiden winners who could show up later on the Derby trail.

GULFSTREAM #6: $42,000 Allowance 3yos, 1 1/8 miles, dirt

PP:

1. FREE COUNTRY
2. BOUNISSIMO
3. SINCERO
4. ATOMIC RAIN
5. DA GULLAH
6. STATELY CHARACTER
7. PRESSURE POINT
8. STORMALORY

I like ATOMIC RAIN in this race.  His last out was a second to Old Fashioned in the Remsen, a big deal 2yo race in which Atomic Rain gave a good run in his 2nd place finish.  Next, I see STATELY CHARACTER finishing well, having won a minor stakes already in his career.  For the show spot, STORMALORY looks good to complete my ticket.  PRESSURE POINT will gain some experience in his 2nd start, as will FREE COUNTRY.  Either one will be in my EX/TRI boxes, too.  It is amazing to see Repent and Big Country listed as the sires of these colts, because it seems like just a year ago, I was handicapping *them* in these same Derby trail races!!  Gaahh I’m getting old!

 4|6|7/8/1

GULFSTREAM #8, $42,000 Allowance 1 1/8 miles, 3yos, dirt

1. IDOL MAKER
2. DANGER TO SOCIETY
3. D.C.’S LEGACY
4. AWESOME MITCH
5. AP CARDINAL
6. BRUCE N AUTUMN
7. THEREGOESJOJO
8. THEY’RE LATE
9. ABE IS HONEST

Another great group of sophomores!  IDOL MAKER and AP CARDINAL are tough to beat in here, coming into the race off good workouts and losing efforts against Old Fashioned.  IDOL MAKER was 4th in the Remsen, AP Cardinal was 4th to him in an allowance race.  AWESOME MITCH is also coming out of the Remsen, a dull 7th but he has been working well for this race.  BRUCE N AUTUMN is an interesting son of Lemon Drop Kid, in my picks, too.

5|1|4/6

Tomorrow’s races will do a lot to confirm the quality of the Remsen.  If none of the horses coming out of that race run like I think they will, then Old Fashioned may have to drop in my Derby list.  But we’ll see.

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

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Filed under Derby Prepes, Gulfstream Park, Handicapping, Kentucky Derby

Infield Favorite Wins!

MY LITTLE CONNOR just won moments ago at Hawthorne.  He set the pace and held off a tough challenger in the 1 1/4 mile starter handicap.  My Little Connor is a longtime favorite of mine, having first jumped into my picks in January 2007.  The son of Petionville went off at 6-1 and paid $10.20. 

Now if Mr. Franks and Mo Terms can win soon…

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Filed under Handicapping, results

Saturday Breeders’ Cup Selections

I haven’t had a selections post since SAUHBR ended.  It sucks sometimes to have a normal job and not be a professional handicapper 24/7.  Totally missed Ladies’ Day picks, but I think my only exacta picks would have been Stardom Bound and Zenyatta.  But I’ll discuss the racing action further in another post.  This one’s for the BC Boys Races!

BC MARATHON:

1)MUHANNAK (IRE)
2)Sixties Icon (GB)
3)Big Booster

BC DIRT MILE

1)WELL ARMED
2)Mast Track
3)Two Step Salsa

BC SPRINT

1)STREET BOSS
2)Cost of Freedom
3)Midnight Lute

BC TURF SPRINT

1)DIABOLICAL
2)Only Answer
3)Mr. Nightlinger

BC MILE

1)GOLDIKOVA
2)Kip Deville
3)Thorn Song

BC JUVY TURF

1)BITTEL ROAD
2)City Style
3)Vaquero

BC JUVENILE

1)STREET HERO
2)Terrain
3)Midshipman

BC TURF

1)SOLDIER OF FORTUNE
2)Winchester
3)Eagle Mountain

BC CLASSIC

1)CURLIN
2)Go Between
3)Duke of Marmalade

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Filed under Breeders' Cup, Handicapping

11 Grade 1 Races This Weekend…Only ONE on ESPN

Last week, at the NTRA’s marketing summit, a lot of talk centered on how to attract and keep the next generation of fans.  The first part would be having horses stay around long enough for us to enjoy them.  The second part would be broadcasting the races where these stars are competing!!!

This weekend are the PLAYOFFS of Breeders’ Cup!  *11 GRADE ONE RACES* on both coasts, on all surfaces will feature many championship hopefuls.  Most of them will be on TVG-the Belmont ones.  HRTV takes up the Santa Anita races.  Most people do not have TVG or HRTV (*I* don’t even have HRTV…sigh).  Our fearless leaders in racing have quickly thrown together some TV time for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on ESPN because Curlin is entered.  The brief pre-race coverage will be completely irrelevant.  There are few serious handicappers on ESPN (at least few who are allowed to be serious on the air.  Mayne always appeared to know his stuff but his irreverence got in the way; Moss is solid but has to dumb it down too much).  There will probably be no post parade, no discussion of the other horses in the field (“they’re all running for second”) or interviews with connections not named Asumussen or Jackson. 

Most people I know only know about the race as a singular event – the preps for the Derby go unnoticed, the idea of peaking or rounding into form or the fact that there is even any tactical theory involved in a race is news to the casual observer.  We have to promote the “thinking” side of the game more.  It’s not just a mad dash to the wire (not talking Quarters here).  Get people interested in Beyer numbers or ThoroGraph sheets; pit the 2 sides against each other.  The trip handicappers against the pedigree people.   SPotlight and involve this specialized side of the sport on national TV, and there will be more people interested in the game as a Game.  Not everyone loves horses like I do, but when I talk about the splits and figs and stuff, people (guys) take more interest. 

The Internet is a godsend for this infoporn: I can get boatloads of info for free or really, really cheap.  Discussion forums are everywhere.  And the race replays are online, too!  It is a perfect sport for the snack culture-the entire thing is only 2 minutes.  And if you know enough, make smart bets and play responsibly, you will win a lot more often than simply dropping a coin into a slot machine.

 The only show that does everything I have mentioned above is At The Races with Steve Byk on Sirius.  The man is a godsend – smart commentary, great guests who Byk is not afraid to question, a lot of good history buffs and pedigree experts, interviews with a wide range of handicappers, jockeys, trainers, even VETS!  Live calls of feature races that he, his guests and average-Joe call-ins handicap.  It is the Racing Equivalent of Sportscenter.  I only wish more people could listen to it.

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Filed under Breeders' Cup, Handicapping, rants

BIG BROWN vs OLDER HORSES & and OFF TRACK

Big Brown is such a star that Monmouth Park has carded a race just for him, the Monmouth Stakes at 11/8 miles on turf.  I suppose the idea was to get an easy prep in for the BCClassic, but this has turned out to be anything but for the presumptive 3yo champ.  The half-million dollar purse has attracted a full field of Graded stakes winners, older turf specialists itching for the chance to take down the Derby winner. 

SHakis, trained by Keiran Mclaughlin for Darley, just won the Baruch at Saratoga.  11/8 miles is his bitch. 

Proudinsky was 6th by only 2lengths in a blanket finish to Shakis in the Baruch, and Frankel has him tuned up for a victory this time.  He may get it, too, because along with the older horses and the grass, Big Brown may also have to overcome turf less-than-firm.  Weather predictions are calling for rain saturday, which could even pull the race off the grass and onto the main track. 

Silver Tree has a win over the Monmouth turf course already, and was game in his last narrow win in the Oceanport. 

How sweet would the stretch call be if Fugeddaboudit Sal won? 

Despite his record thus far, Big Brown does not have me wholly convinced of his greatness.  He has been beating a questionable crop all year.  His peers, whom he so thoroughly wolloped, have been barely beating each other (sloowly) .  What will happen when he gets in with the senior class? 

I like Proudinsky and Silver Tree, or Shakis on top if the course is dry.  Drum Major may be a dangerous upset play, after a year layoff and a 7th place finish in the Baruch.  Get Serious, BAllonenostrikes and Kiss the Kid are local Monmouth horses looking for some big-time cred.

If Brown can pull off a win here, it will go a loooong way in convincing me — like Curlin last year.  I was not on the Golden Warrior’s bandwagon until he beat my buddy LAwyer Ron in the JCGC. 

At least Brown is attracting positive attention to the sport.  Memphis is the dead zone of racing coverage, and even people here are talking about him.  They may even flip over from the Southern Heritage CLassic to catch the race on TVG (3:30pm Central).  Who am I kidding?  Memphians skipping a football game?  LOL…

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Filed under Graded Stakes, Handicapping, Monmouth Park, Turf racing

SAUHBR FINAL RESULTS: THE FILLY TRIUMPHS!!

In a thrilling stretch drive, The Infield defeats Borderland Totalisator in SAUHBR Round 1!

In a thrilling stretch drive, The Infield defeats Borderland Totalisator in SAUHBR Round 1!

The weekend marked Curlin’s victorious return to dirt in the Woodward, a shocking upset by Anak Nakal in the Pennsylvania Derby, and the contentious finale of the 1st Semi-Annual Handicapping Battle Royale (see, I *do* remember what SAUHBR stands for!!)

It was a good race, but in the end, the best seats were in The Infield!  I scored points in 4 races, hitting the big win with Curlin at Saratoga, and 2nds with Fareena, Gio Ponti and Silver Expression.  I also had some show points with Lickety Lemon (best name of the weekend), and Letthemusicbegin. 

WEEKEND TOTAL: 12

FINAL SCORE: 138!!

BT, it’s been a fun 6 weeks of ‘cappin’ the ponies and engaging in Dutrow-lite smack talk.  And now, you have one thing in common with Curlin: you got beat by a girl.

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Filed under Brag sheet, Handicapping, results, SAUHBR