Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekend Handicapping: Awesome Dreams and Prayers at the West Virginia Derby

Before I do my introductions, I would like to thank the Board of Director’s for giving me the opportunity to handicap races for the membership over the coming weekends.  It is a great honor.  To the folks that don’t know me, I go by the moniker, the-Clocker.  I reside in Chicago, have been around horseracing since a small boy and participate on the NHC tour.  I also blog at  you’re welcome to visit and share thoughts and ideas on handicapping.   I’m always open to new techniques/angles and anything to become better at the craft.

The race of the day for Saturday, August 6, 2011:  West Virginia Derby (G2), purse of $750,000 for 3YO’s going 1 1/8 mile over a dirt oval.  I know the first reaction is why not the Whitney? Or any other of the G1’s for Saturday?  What excited me about this race was the concept of having 10 top trainers/jockeys at a neutral track vying for a huge purse.  Just look at the line up and you will see what I mean.  It is also a group of unheralded 3YO colts, so it give us a chance to see some interesting horses in a wide open event and that means value.  Value = large mutual

What I will do is review 3 contenders; highlight some dark horses and then the “Bombs Away” choice.  So here we go!

1.      #8  Dreamy Kid (Drysdale/Talamo) ML 7-2:  He fits the conditions and class.  The only G2 winner, winning the Swaps (beating Coil at this distance) at Hollywood Park. This should give him the class edge. Has won 2 of 4 this season and the work out pattern suggest he is ready to go.  The only concern is form regression, which he has shown in the past, but he may have out grown that based on his last two outings.  Would be nice to get him at 7-2 but who are we kidding?  He will be beaten down to 3-2 at least.

2.      #1   Prayer for Relief (Baffert/Bejarano) ML 5-2:  Off to a great 3YO campaign going 2 for 2 and winning the Iowa Derby (G3).  What’s not to like?  Baffert is running hot right now, Bejarano wins 23% on Baffert mounts, and the colt has won two in a row and strong work patterns.  We could quibble about being a front runner over a 1 1/8th, can his form cycle sustain itself and how good was the Iowa Derby?  If I had to choose one concern it would be running style,  if he goes to the front does he have enough in the tank to hold the rest back? Could be the favorite based on the Baffert aura right now.

3.      #4 Awesome Bet (Asmussen/Alan Garcia) ML 6-1:  This was tough, there are three other horses I could argue fit here, and did look long and hard at Rush Now.  The keys for me is that he is coming off a good win in the Barbaro (100K @Del), beating Rush Now and Meistersinger (who won recently by 10 lengths in an allowance race against older horses). Strong speed numbers off of Equibase data, and Asmussen seems to sneak in and steal these types of races.  This will be my value play at 6-1 or higher.   

Dark Horses:  #5 Rush Now(Dutrow/C.Velasquez), #3 Little Drama (Fawkes/Carmouche) and #2 Infrattini (McGee/C.Borel) .  Each has a claim to win it, and would lean closer to Little Drama based on 2 fine showings in G2 races (Swale @GP 3rd) and (Hutcheson @GP 3rd).   After that good luck.  The more I looked the more it got muddy.

“Bombs Away” Play:  #10 Fred High (Tullock/Parker) ML 30-1 and it will go higher:  When you look at the PP’s, don’t shake your head.  This choice is pure gimmick.  Going to base it on the connections.  Tim is a WVA trainer, and has won 22 stakes races.  Deshawn Parker rides at Mountaineer and wins at a 24% clip, 53% ITM (side note he is one of the leading jockey’s in wins nationally).  If you look at the track layout, it’s not a perfect oval. That first turn is tighter than the other one, and going to figure Parker knows how to keep his colt out of trouble and might surprise them all.  One final note on this colt, 7 races and 6 ITM, he knows how to find the board.  In your exotics for sure.

Final Ratings:  #8 - #1 - #4 - #3    

Good luck and see you tomorrow!

Weekend Handicapping will be a weekly feature here at HANA Blog. If you'd like to contribute like John has please send us an email at

1 comment:

Theresia said...

I would be surprised if Prayer for Relief is not a strong favorite primarily because of the Baffert factor. This is a tougher race than the Iowa Derby and with more pace pressure going longer and it would appear he and Rush Now will be keeping each other honest. Consequently of the two favorites I prefer Dreamy Kid who should get a nice setup and how often do you see Neil Drysdale ship to West Virginia for a race? A dark horse who has a great shot to hit the board at a price is the other horse shipping in from Delaware Loranger Native for Stidham and James Graham makes the trip and those two are hitting at a 46% rate.