Friday, January 30, 2009

Holy Bull Stakes

A little over 3 months until Derby Day and its as good a time as any to start looking at the main 3 year 0ld races leading up to the first Saturday in May.

The Holy Bull Stakes (g. III) is being contested Saturday January 31st at Gulfstream Park at 1 1/8 miles after running last year at the unusual 1 3/16 distance. This race was won in 2006 by Barbaro on his way to capturing the Kentucky Derby and coincidentally his full brother Nicanor (Dynaformer/La Ville Rouge - Carson City) begins his career in the following race.

Leading Contenders

West Side Bernie (Bernstein/Time Honored - Gilded Time) enters off a 2nd place finish in the Boyd Gaming Delta Jackpot Stakes (g. III) following a 6th place finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (g. I), three lengths behind champion Midshipmen. Bernie is favored (3-1) despite starting in the 10 hole; posts 8 and above have not fared well in routes at Gulfstream this season. He has been working well for his return including a sharp 1:00 flat 5F bullet on the 18th.

Beethoven (Sky Mesa/Moonlight Sonata - Carson City) has two game victories in a row, the most recent coming in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes where he held off Friday's Hutcheson Stakes (g. II) winner Capt. Candyman Can by a half length.

Beethoven drew the far outside post and carries 122lbs which could hurt his chances, but the race's only 3-time winner should be in contention when they turn for home.

Danger to Society (Harlan's Holiday/Elrose - Deputy Minister) is a horse I really like in this race. He's 2-2 lifetime including an easy allowance victory over this track 23 days ago. His dam Elrose is a half sister to Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm, and he's already won at this 9F distance. He has good tactical speed, in a race devoid of any true front-runners, and is getting 8 lbs from the two horses above. I think Albarado may lead them around the track in this one, and you should see this colt's name popping up on folks' contender lists.

The Others
Rockland hails from the Michael Matz barn and comes in off of 2 straight wins, the most recent a turf route. Nicely bred son of Smarty Jones is half to Haskel runner-up Coal Play. Todd Pletcher is always tough in Derby prep stakes and sends out Idol Maker who was impressive in his debut at Belmont in October but faltered in deeper waters in the Remsen (g. II). Been working nicely and gets Velazquez, looms a threat. Bear's Rocket is a 2-time winner shipping in from Woodbine by Lion Heart out of a Deputy Minister dam, Saratoga Sinner recently broke his maiden at this track and distance, and Stately Character recorded his only victory in a minor stakes two back.
Live Longshot

El Crespo (A.P. Indy/Commodities - Private Account) is a son of A.P. Indy who may just be better suited for turf with 2 turf stakes winning siblings, but his sire is an outstanding producer of dirt routers, and he's yet to try the brown stuff. At 12-1 he may be a decent play to win at a price.

The Bet
I'll make my bets just like I would if I was at the track. I really like the 2 and will bet him to win at odds of 7-2 or better (ML 5-1). The gameness of Beethoven is enough to put him underneath and boxed with the 2. I'll mix the 5 in there underneath as well.

$10 win 2
$4 exacta box 2/11
$1 exacta box 2/5

$20 total

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Thanks for the intro Drew - a few less rainshowers and more turf races in the 2001 rendition of the NTRA tourney and you might have introduced me as the champion of that tourney (I came 16th, and the grass generated 80% of my points).

My focus this week is on a relatively innocuous turf race at SA, 1 1/8m allowance, where the full brother of Mizzen Mast makes his US debut. If he's anything like his brother - look out. His brother was a beaut - I saw him win by 9 at Longchamps in the Prix de Guiche in 2001, in what was perhaps the single most spectacular performance I've seen live (Sardula's Del Mar Debutante score is up there, as well as Sandpit's Hollywood Turf Cup triumph). Wishing "Lease of Life" the best in his US debut -
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Drew Clear Begins

Ok, so i'm gonna get started by giving a little overview about why I created this blog.

  1. Seems Fun.

  2. Everybody has opinions, here's mine.

  3. It'll help me stay in tune with horse racing, and give me an excuse to go to the races.

  4. It's a good place to display some of my racing photographs, and a good motivator to keep taking pictures.

  5. It'll be fun debating The E-Vat in a public forum

I don't intend to make picks every weekend or post all the time (at least not at first), but my goal is to cover big races, or big race weekends, and to try to track the 3yo Derby Trail and the Road to the Breeders Cup. While I don't contend to be a supreme handicapper, I have been looking at the form for over 20 years and have a decent idea about what I'm doing. I've had many an enjoyable day at the tracks around this country, and they've led to some great experiences. I absolutely love to handicap races, and I have become a student of pedigrees in the past few years -- an area that truly fascinates me.

I've been an owner of throughbreds in the past (I'm sure I'll post more on that in the future), and I am looking to get back in the game. I have a few friends that also race horses, and Eddy, aka "The E-Vat", is going to be a primary contributor to this site. He's a handicapping legend, having qualified for NTRA/DRF finals twice, and is a true lover of the game as well.

I also love photographing races and will try to share some of my original photos when the opportunity presents itself.

So that's basically the idea. Handicapping, racetrack experiences, thoughts on ownership and updates on horses owned, and photography.

Hopefully this blog is interesting, inciteful, and always enjoyable to read.

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