Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Breeders Cup Saturday Preview

Friday's Breeders Cup had some favorites (Secret Circle) and longshots (Perfect Shirl) win, some champions crowned (see My Miss Aurelia) and some more questions raised.  "Ladies Day" was solid but the big day is Saturday, and what a day it could be for the ladies!
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pacific Classic Preview

Yesterday I got back into handicapping by looking into the Travers Stakes, known as the "Mid-Summer Derby" as it generally features the top 3yos in the country.  Outside of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, the 2011 version was no exeecption.  My top choice Stay Thirsty never let go of the lead and won by a little over a length in a pedestrian 2:03.03.  He paid $6.80, just a tad under the 5/2 I was seeking, but I bet him anyway.

Today's feature race is the $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar in California.  This race isn't quite as balanced as the Travers was, but there are still a few intriguing angles and storylines.

The morning line favorite is the Craig Family homebred Twirling Candy by Pacific Classic winning sire Candy Ride (ARG).  Very popular at the betting window, Twirling Candy has been favored in each of his last four starts, winning two Grade IIs, but coming up short in the two Grade I races he's entered.  While extremely talented and classy, I just don't think he wants to go 10 furlongs as evidenced by his 0-2 record at the distance despite being favored in both contests.  Also he's been unable to beat millionaire Game On Dude, who starts just to his inside in the 9 hole.  

See the replay of the Hollywood Gold Cup below, a key race won by since retired First Dude, with Game On Dude a game 2nd followed closely by Twirling Candy in 3rd and Setsuko a few lengths back in 4th.

Game On Dude likes the lead and has run two monster races at the 10 furlong distance of today's race, winning the Santa Anita Handicap by a nose while narrowly losing the aforementioned Hollywood Gold Cup. Trainer Bob Baffert knows how to win the Pacific Classic having saddled the winner Richard's Kid the past two years. He may get some pace pressure from Woodbine shipper Don Cavallo and turf superstar Acclimation, but he's proven to be able to run on and is certainly a top contender.

Acclimation is a total wildcard in this race. He’s arguably the top rated turf router in the country having won his past 3 races on the lawn, from 9f to 12f, by a combined 13 ¾ lengths. Unfortunately he’s 0-6 on synthetic surfaces with his last race a 3rd in the Grade II Strub at Santa Anita in February of 2010 at 21-1. He’s clearly a much better horse now, and if he can handle the Del Mar Polytrack, I think he’s a top contender.

Other Contenders

Don Cavallo is a nice horse, but is a step below these in class. 6yo Tres Borrachos owns a win over this surface having captured the Grade II San Diego Handicap on July 30 in late running fashion. He actually ran in the 2009 running of the Pacific Classic finishing a tiring 11th after leading from the gate for 3/4 of a mile. He has trouble at the 1 ¼ distance with only a 2nd in 5 starts, and while I don’t think he can win, he may factor in the exotics if the front runners fade. The Richard Mandella trained Setsuko is an interesting horse. His only win was a Maiden Sp Wt over 2 ½ years ago, but he’s won $475k and narrowly lost to Game on Dude by a nose in the Big Cap this March. Dick doesn’t enter his horses in these races unless he feels he can win, and he has won 3 prior Pacific Classics so I’ll go off the assumption Setsuko is primed for a big one. Capable, but no way I’m picking a horse with only a maiden victory to win this race. Jeranimo is another turfer trying the switch to synthetic, but he has had some success on surface in the past having won the Grade II Strub last year, defeating Acclimation in the process. His late running style could prove important as most of the other contenders (Game on Dude, Twirling Candy, Acclimation) do their best running on or near the lead.

My pick is going to be the longshot Jeranimo because I believe the race sets up well for him, and I don’t have faith in Twirling Candy at short odds at the 1 ¼ distance. I think Game On Dude will be game as usual, and Setsuko or Tres Borrachos could factor in the exotics as well.

Bet #2 Jeranimo to win

Bet exacta 2, 9 over 2, 3, 6, 9
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Travers Preview

With all the excitement around my filly Blazing Reflection and her winning debut I haven't thought too much about handicapping, but with the Travers and Pacific Classic this weekend, what better time to get back in the game.  The Travers features the Preakness, Belmont and Haskell winners and could go along way in determining the 3yo champion this year.  Sunday's $1m Pacific Classic features the best of the west with Twirling Candy leading the entries.

The 3yo division can be described both as "modest" and highly competitive.  Last month's Haskell Invitational was a key race with the top 3 finishers coming back to run again in the Travers Stakes.  Video replay below.

Bob Baffert trained Coil ran a big one passing an extremely game Shackleford to win by a neck.  I love Shackleford who won the Preakness at 1 3/16 miles but couldn't quite get extra distance of the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont.  Today's Travers is at the Derby distance of 10 furlongs so the logic would be that he'll take the lead early, but fade late.  I always felt the Saratoga race track favored front runners, and there really isn't another runner with the early pace of Shackleford, so I think its definitely possible he could hold off the stretch runners. Though it won't be my top selection, I will have him in my exactas.

While Coil was able to win the Gr. 1 Haskell, he has run 3 straight 96 Beyers which doesn't exactly set him apart in this field, even from the longshots.  He's really done nothing wrong and is certainly capable, but I'm leaning against him.

Belmont winner Ruler On Ice is the 3rd and final Grade I winner in this field that also competed in the Haskell finishing 3rd, 2 1/2 lengths behind Coil.  His Belmont score was clearly benefitted by a sloppy racetrack, and unless a preview of Hurricane Irene comes prior to post time, I don't see him finishing first or second.

Belmont runner-up Stay Thirsty is a horse I like alot in this race.  He's coming out of an impressive 4 length score in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes, is 2-2 on the Saratoga main track, and is conditioned by leading trainer Todd Pletcher.  He has been installed as the morning line favorite at 5/2, but I could see him starting closer to 3-1 or more as this field is extremely tightly matched.  His sire Bernardini was a Travers winner and I think he does the same.

Of the remaining entries, #5 Malibu Glow is intriguing coming off a win at the Spa, and #6 Raison d'Etat, a Juddmonte homebred by AP Indy out of millionaire multi-G1 winner Sightseek has the pedigree to win this, but will be a longshot.  If the pace implodes #8 J W Blue will be coming late.

#9 Stay Thirsty to win (5/2 or better)
Exacta box #9 with #10 Shackleford
Longshot win bet on #5 Malibu Glow
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Saturday, August 13, 2011


"Blazing Reflection broke with the leaders and stalked the pace from the outside, moved up three wide into the stretch to gain command past the furlong pole and drew clear driving." 

This is the comment from the official Equibase chart of Blazing Reflection's debut race.  What a great day out at Santa Rosa Race Track for the Sonoma County fair on Friday.  My horse ran her first race, and she performed beautifully.  She broke well, attended the pace and grabbed the lead as she hit the stretch.  She "drew clear" at the 1/16th pole and won comfortably by 3 1/2 lengths.  Her final time of 1:13 2/5 wasn't bad for her first race and I expect her to move forward big time after that run.  Incredibly, she paid $43.00 for a $2 win bet, despite the field being modest at best.  Normally I don't bet on horses I own, but in this case I couldn't pass up this underlay of a lifetime. 

Its been several years since I've felt the rush of victory and got my picture taken in the winner's circle.  Even though the purse was modest, the feeling of watching her gain the lead and get the win was awesome.  The next race will be much more difficult to win, but I can't wait for it.  Hopefully she'll come out of this race well and be ready for the next one.  She had only 1 workout at 5 furlongs, so this 6 furlong race will do wonders for her stamina.  She also ran a bit greenly in the stretch, the jockey David Lopez had to straighten her path a few times, but she clearly likes to run as she showed good speed from the gate, and pulled away at the end even after the jockey ceased urging her.  Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, August 11, 2011

First Race

Tomorrow at 3:45pm my 2yo filly Blazing Reflection debuts in a $12,500 Maiden Claimer at Santa Rosa in a 6 furlong race.  Below is the entries from the Daily Racing Form.

She's been training pretty well, but first races are always difficult.  How will she run?  Will she be "green"?  What kind of break will she get?  Will she get tired?  I have all these questions which will be answered tomorrow hopefully (I've had a horse scratch at the gate so you never know).  I am hoping she shows some speed, runs well and doesn't get injured.  If she wins that'll just be a nice bonus.

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