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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roger Way, Rest in Peace

My good friend Roger Way passed away today from Cancer. He was a fighter till the end and I’ll do my best to tell people who never had the chance to know him what type of guy he was.

I spoke with Roger for the last time a couple of weeks ago and we had a great talk. I told him that he lived life on his own terms and helped a lot of people along the way and that I was very proud to call him my friend and partner as a Horseplayer Advocate. If you were ever in a fight for something important you always wanted Roger on your side. He wanted to preserve Horse Racing for future generations because he had loved the game as much as anyone I’ve ever met. He always believed that right would win out over wrong when it came to Horse Racing and because of him we had our first industry meeting at Santa Anita last year. We participated in several industry meetings after that. In just about every meeting he would get pissed off at someone and bang his fist on the table trying to get them to just understand common sense. I am laughing just thinking about some of those meetings. The main team consisted of me, Jeff Platt, and Barry Meadow along with Roger. Roger also played a big role in getting the 14% Players Pick 5 put in and what a success that has become. He was very proud of the bet because it proved our point over and over again. We would laugh when we talked about the bet and how the TOC thought it would be a loser. Wow did we laugh when on closing day at Hollywood Park the bet broke all records for exotics handle in the first race of the day at any U.S. Track.

I’ve known Roger for about three years and during that time I learned quite a bit about him and his passion for life and his passion for Horse Racing. Roger was the west coast H.A.N.A. Representative. Our first battle together was against synthetic surfaces and as we moved into 2011 we pivoted toward SB1072 and the takeout raise. During the first few months of 2011 I would wake up at about 3:00 am and try to find news that favored our position and move it to the various message boards. Roger would also be up early and we would usually have our first phone call around 6:30 am to discuss our strategy. There were days during that time when we spoke ten times a day and at the end of those long days we would laugh about what we were doing and who we were fighting against. Roger and I were constantly working the phones and emails to advance our position. We always ended the day with a phone call and usually one of us said that we knew something would develop tomorrow and we would be there to take on all comers once again

While he was sick he had lots of people calling him and supporting him along with neighbors and friends who were with him till the end. He was one of those guys that even when he was sick was worried about everyone else and didn’t want us to feel badly for him. Just to show you how unselfish he was, one day I got a call from a close friend of his who was handling his estate and the person tells me that Roger told him to make sure that he sent me $1000 to go to the track one day in his name and hoist a beer in his honor after he passed away. Can you imagine that? I intend to go one day in the near future along with a couple of his friends and hopefully one of the Tracks will name a race in his honor for the day. I know he’ll be there with us in spirit with a big smile on his face and a thumbs up.

One of Rogers good friends was Lester. They say that you learn about someones true character when they are under pressure, and boy did Lester come through with flying colors. He was by his side till the end and never let him down. He was close friends with Roger for several years and visited him just about every day.

I will never forget my friend Roger Way and may he rest in peace. I have a feeling that when we meet up again in the hereafter we’ll find another worthy cause to fight for as a team once again.


Andy Asaro

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: It is all about Hansen in the Holy Bull at GP?

Yesterday at Sam Houston, our top selection, Papaw Bodie won the John B Connolly at a nice $4.60 price.  I was a bit surprised he went off as the favorite, was thinking Proceed Bee would garner most of the attention.  No matter, as I was taught a long time ago, if you can double your money, the odds don’t matter. It’s all about the ROI.

So today we move back to Gulfstream to look at a race that gives us an early preview to some potential Derby contenders.  We will analyze the 25th running of the Holy Bull, Grade 3.  It’s for 3YO going one mile over the dirt for a purse of $400,000.  A field of six has entered so today there will be no dark horses, just the top three and a Bombs Away.  On paper it looks like Hansen will have his way, and should go off at miserly odds.  Is he invincible? No.  We have to remember lightly raced 3YO’s can have setbacks, they are immature and we need to look for upset factor.  So here we go …

Contenders:

#4 Hansen ML 6/5

Everyone knows I’m not a chalk player, but there are times when you have to admit one horse has the edge, and I hate to use the word “lock”.  Hansen is as close as I’ve seen in a while.  I like Michael Maker trained horses, this 3YO has won all three of his efforts and all wire to wire.  His Beyer’s dominate this small field, and if he wins today, it puts him near or at the top of the Derby Futures.   I can go on and on, but it’s there plain and simple.  Who can upset him, the next two possibly.

#2 Consortium ML 3/1

His last effort was a strong one, giving way to the #6 Algorithims.  He is a sprinter going to a route and that is a nice angle.  McLaughlin has a strong record with horses like this and JohnnyV stays aboard.  Toss in first time lasix and you could this 3YO explode with a bit effort.  A lot variable with this one, but if the price holds I would play him as the classic, first time lasix and two sprints to route play.  No matter what he will be an interesting horse to watch going forward.

#6 Algorithms ML 5/2

He will be the second favorite and deserved.  Has won his two first starts and seeing him here is no surprise.  Speed figures show big improvement, workouts strong and beat two good horses in Consortium and Behemoth.  Have to respect any quality thoroughbred trained by Pletcher and this is no exception.  I do agree with the DRF, his price will be of no value against Hansen, so will go with the #2 if the price is square.

Bombs Away:

There are only three to choose from and I’m going with the #5  Fort Loudon ML 18/1.  I’m hanging my hat on the fact he has won four of eight as a 2YO.  He has shown a versatile racing style, has won some big money races over at Calder. He has also shown toughness by getting through some tough situations.  I’m going with experience and a big jockey change with Maragh with this one.  His speed numbers say no way, but again we are dealing with very young 3YO’s.

Selections:

4 – 2 – 6 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: Papaw Bodie likes the grass in Texas

There are a lot of big races today around the country, especially at Gulfstream, so I thought I would do something different and head over to Texas and look at the G3 John B Connally Turf Cup.  It’s a race for 4YO and upwards going a mile and eighth over the grass for a handsome purse of $200,000.  There is a field of seven entered and none I’ve seen before.  We have a wide variety of horses here and none have won big time races, so it’s really anybody race.  So here we go for Saturday’s Weekend Handicapping …
Contenders:

#2  Papaw Bodie ML 9/2

This lightly raced 5YO has won three in a row, the last being a turf race at Gulfstream going a mile and three-eighths.   He had a decent 4YO campaign and has won at the allowance and claiming level.  This will be Michael Makers second start with this horse and must see some talent here.  Good Beyer’s on the turf, does better when he rates toward the front and today gets Napravnik, who is a good jockey.  I like his chances with this group and should step up today.

#7  Ioya Bigtime ML 7/2

Another lightly raced 5YO who has been off since October after a strong effort in the G2 Fayette at Keeneland, finishing second.   His Beyer’s are competitive, though higher when on dirt, and is going with a new trainer today, Neil Pressin.  He is always on the board and see no different today, and there have been a smattering of key races for him.  He has won coming off a long layoff and gets Albarado too, so he should be fresh and ready to go. 

#6  Proceed Bee ML 2/1

This 6YO would be considered the class of the race having competed in some major races around the country, and on occasion finished well.  Good Beyer’s on turf and a forward running style that bodes well against this group.   He had a nice 4YO season and then as a 5YO was so-so, he definitely has the best speed figures for turf but not sure if he hasn’t already reached his ceiling.  Another issue I have is that Chris Emigh is back in the irons, and he hasn’t won with him in the past. I know many think I place too much emphasis on the jockey, but they are the ones driving, so for me it does matter.  I could be wrong here, but just don’t feel like it’s going to the Bee’s day.

Dark Horse/Bombs Away:

Due to the small field I see only one other interesting horse in this race and that is the #3  Dakota Gypsy ML 6/1.  This 6YO has spent most of his racing life on turf and various distances and has done well over his career.  Consistent speed numbers and has won at the allowance level.   Most will shy away because his two wins came over turf sprints, but he showed a nice second at this distance in a $100K Stakes race last September.   He hasn’t raced since October, but has won coming off the bench and should be in the hunt at the finish. He could be a surprise here.

Selections:

2 – 7 – 6 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Horseplayers takes center stage

Article by Claire Novak for ESPN:
http://espn.go.com/horse-racing/story/_/id/7502821/horseplayers-takes-center-stage

"All of us horse players are a little bit biased, but we don't feel we get attention we should, and we feel we're the lifeblood of the industry," she said. "I think that sometimes if the people who have won this competition were to be profiled, readers would have a completely different view of the modern horseplayer as opposed to the stereotypical degenerate." 

Good Luck to ALL,

-jp
.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Three New HANA Members Join Board, Willing to Work For Horseplayers

Over the past nine months the Horseplayers Association of North America has been searching for passionate horseplayers to join the Board of Directors.  Through member emailings, newsletters, social media, a nominating committee and our website, three candidates emerged with a racing background, who were willing to do the work that’s needed to help change our sport for the better. Please welcome Bob, Mike and Jerod aboard. And as always, if you'd like to work with us, we need you as State Reps or board members. Please email info@hanaweb.org if you'd like to help.

Bob Dwyer is a Chicago area resident, CPA and business management professional who has had a long and successful career managing manufacturing and distribution companies that were in the portfolios of private equity firms as CFO, COO and CEO. The same attributes of focus and discipline that he brings to organizations in his professional activities serve him well in his long time and passionate avocation of horse racing. Bob served as the HANA Illinois state representative for the last 18 months.

Mike Shutty is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of www.horseracingnation.com and www.derbywars.com and has been a raving fan of the Sport of Kings since Seattle Slew captured the Triple Crown in 1977. Mike is also the Co-founder and Managing Partner for TrendPointers, LLC, a firm focused on using Media Sentiment to predict key shifts in economic and market outcomes. He owned a successful direct marketing agency which he sold in 2007 and brings that experience to help advance the important initiatives of HANA.

Jerod Dinkin is a Director of Real Estate at a Fortune 500 retailer and has been a fan of thoroughbred horse racing since the age of eleven. A frequent contributor to Horseplayer Magazine, Jerod was also the 2006 Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year and a three time qualifier to both the National Handicapping Championship and the Horse Player World Series.

We thank Bob, Mike and Jerod for answering the call. If you'd like to chat with any or all of them, they can be reached by emailing their first name (except Mike, he's mshutty), followed by @hanaweb.org

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: A Sweet Chant for Ready Signal at Gulfstream today

The Lecomte turned out to be what the form should us it would be, wide open.  It was a tough race to handicap due to all the angles that each horse brought into the race.  Mr. Bowling, our second selection, probably exhibited the most.  Coming in off a layoff, key race factor, good trainer in Graded Stakes and a jockey switch.  If you added up all the angles for each horse, I have a feeling Mr. Bowling had the most.  He ran a good race and scored a nice payday for the effort.

Today we move back to Gulfstream for the 10th race.   The 19th running of the Sweetest Chant for 3YO fillies on the turf going a mile.  A purse of $100,000 is out there for the nine entrants.  This race is not as wide open as yesterday affair at the Fair Grounds; in fact, we have five returnees from the Ginger Brew we handicapped back on Christmas Eve. 

Contenders:

#1  Ready Signal ML 6/1

This was our Bombs Away selection in the Ginger Brew and finished second to Frolics Revenge.   She took the lead in that race after breaking from the 12 slot and almost hung on to win.  Today she is cutting back in distance, getting a favorable post position and I like that Amy Tarrant is bringing her back right away.   It looks like this filly is hitting her stride.

#9 Dayatthespa  ML 5/2

She is making her first start since November after a miserable effort in the Breeder’s Cup.  There is little doubt that she has speed to take this crowd, likes to get out front at this distance.  The only concern is the layoff, Chad Brown has a good record with layoff horses, but the #1 and #5 are in a nice groove.  If she’s ready then she could easily run away with it.

#5  Frolic’s Revenge ML 5/1

I ignored this filly in the Ginger Brew because she had no turf record, and she proved me wrong with a great effort to win it from Ready Signal.  The two issues I have today, is did that last effort  out take too much out of her and not happy to see Paco Lopez not riding.  Nothing wrong with Lezcano and I could be over analyzing it but coupled with never having won two in a row, not sure it’s her day. 

Dark Horse:     
                                                                                                                                                            
#2  Wholelottashakin ML 8/1

This is another filly out of the Ginger Brew who had some trouble getting pinched off at the start.  This is an instinct play, feeling the cut back in distance plays to her speed, Bush and Solis have to be respected and with the improving speed figures of this lightly raced filly, she should be in the hunt at the end. I see a lot of upside and Bush has a killer turf record.
  
Bombs Away:

#7  Slews Exchange ML 10/1

She won her last start here at GP in a sprint turf event, posting a respectable 74 Beyer.  Stretching out for the first time and bumping up in class could be a big wall.  What makes her dangerous though is that Plesa is a sharpshooter with these kind of horses, workouts have been good and he makes a big change here and gives JohnnyV the reins.  One last thing she has the ability to fight through difficult circumstances and that tells me she is a tough one.

Selections:

1 – 9 – 5   

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: A Terrors Hammer nails the Lecomte at FG today

Our streak was finally broken last Sunday when Private Jet won his first time start in the US.  The racing gods got even with me, on Saturday I extol the virtues of a first time European starter in Mutual Trust and then on Sunday ignore Private Jet.  The truth is I don’t know much about South African horses or tracks and his results didn’t look nearly as good at Mutual Trust.  A lesson learned? Or that’s horse racing.  Today we move over to the Fair Grounds and will look at the 68th running of the Lecomte (G3).  It’s the 11 race on the card, for 3YO going a mile and 70 over dirt.  There are 11 entered for the purse of $175,000 and it’s a strong field of lightly raced three year olds.  This is race is difficult because there are so many nice horses to choose from and many are real close in record and Beyer’s.  Bottom line the tote dictates the play.  So here we go …

Contenders:

#8  Hammers Terror ML 6/1

He has won two in a row and the last being here at FG at this distance.  Beyer’s are solid and consistent.  There are two other factors I like, one being some key races of past opponents and really strong workouts.  I have done well with Stidham in the past and respect him greatly.  He has also shown he can get to the front and dig in.  With a large field getting up to the front is critical.

#4  Mr. Bowling ML 8/1

This colt has been off since October after holding onto 3rd in a G3 at Churchill.  He is another horse that has shown consistent speed, likes to run near the front and also has key races from past competitors.  Larry Jones does well in Graded Stakes events and I like that he has Albarado on board. 

#5  Exfactor  ML 5/1

Here is the pure speed in the group with Beyer’s in the low 80’s.  He won the Surgar Bowl ($58K) here in December and can jump to the front and not look back.  Has three wins in a row coming into the race and has won a G3 event.  The only reason he is not on top is this is his first route.  I don’t see anything in his breeding or training that would prevent him to go this distance, but with his front end tendencies he could get burned up.  I would like to see one first but with that speed hard to ignore.  If the price is right would be real tempted.

Dark Horses:

Not trying to be funny but I could say honestly the rest of the field.  There is a case to be made for #2, #2b, #6, #1a, #10, #11.  Of all of them I would lean to the #11 Shared Property ML 4/1.  Toss out the last and you a real strong 2YO winning the Arlington Washington G3.  He likes go come off the back end and has shown can handle traffic and all.  Here is another if the price is right, would be hard to pass up.


Bomb’s Away:

#3  Ted’s Folly  ML 10/1

Hard to pass up on one with a winning streak of six!  Good consistent speed to run with this group, shown that he can route, and is stretching out a bit today.  The glaring concern is class and running style.  He likes to lay off and close, but this time he isn’t in Oklahoma.  He is interesting and could be real surprise; Medina stays with him which I find interesting.

Selections:
8 – 4 – 5


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: Little Nick and Great Attack fight it out at GP today

Yesterday in the Fort Lauderdale I had expected the crowd to wager Silver Medallion to a favorite.  Was I wrong as the herd went with Mutual Trust as I did.  I had the 4YO colt as the dark horse selection, and after some hard knocking down the stretch he prevailed and paid a nice $9.80 to win.  He did a great job against older horses and has to say “job well done.”   Today we will stay at Gulfstream and on turf for the Gulfstream Park Sprint for $60,000 for 4YO and upward going 5 panels.  A field of seven has joined the fray and it looks like on paper a two horse race.  So don’t blink this one will be over in a flash, so let’s take a look …

Contenders:

#1  Little Nick ML 5/2

He has back to back wins with strong Beyer’s (100 -90) over this distance and on the grass.  His record last year was real good winning three of seven and having only one bad race all season.   Quartarolo doesn’t have a huge barn but makes good with what he has, and Little Nick is one tough turf sprinter.  Will get to the front and never look back with Paco Lopez staying in the Irons.  This will be a duel with Great Attack, and really don’t see anyone catching them.  I’ll take recent winner, rail, Paco as the winning angle.

#6  Great Attack ML 2/1

This 5YO didn’t have the greatest 4YO season but was racing in some high class events. He showed himself well in the BC Turf Sprint after bobbling.   He has the speed and running style to go with Little Nick and you can’t ignore Wesley Ward especially in turf sprints and layoffs.  The #6 does have the class edge I think and it gets down to which one get’s the better price, that’s how close it really is.

#4  Madman Diaries  ML 4/1

The second horse Ward is fielding today and ran well against Little Nick back on December 21st at Tampa.  His Beyer’s are good but not quite up to the two front runners, but he is a lightly raced 4YO with only 9 trips to the gate.  Sanchez stays with Great Attack as expected, and Madman Diaries picks up an excellent jockey in Trujillo.  The Ward/Trujillo combination was deadly at Monmouth last season, so this switch while saying nothing, could be the push for the #4 to get better.

Dark Horse:

#3  Marquet Cat ML 8/1

I can’t look the other way on a tough knocking claimer.  His last outing a month ago won a $50,000 claimer right here over the GP turf.  He popped a nice 90 Beyer and has shown flashes of running faster, and Servis is a sneaky good trainer.  The 7yo is rising in class today and will have to run the wheels off to stay with the top two, but you have to respect him. 

Bombs Away:

#2 Wekiva Wachee ML 8/1

On paper he looks overmatched here, even with a nice effort against Little Nick and Madman Diaries back in December at Tampa.  Here is another 7YO grinder that shows those moments of speed and gets the job done.  This time the front end is a bit too fast and with his running style he will be in tough.  It’s one of those picks where you have to hope something goes wrong up front for him to clear the wreckage and win it.  Definitely believe he can grab a spot on the board. He gets Castanon again, the last time they worked together; they won a claiming event at Arlington.  You all know by now, I like jockey angles.

Selections:

1 – 6 – 4  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: Is GP Teaks North new best friend?

We got off to a great start last weekend, capped off by R Holiday Mood winning in a dead heat and paying $12.40.  I watched that race and she made a nice run down the rail, thought for sure she had it all to herself, but like many of my selections, they seem to get nailed at the wire.  No complaints with a DH win and a handsome payday.   Today we will stay at Gulfstream and look at the  Fort Lauderdale (G3) turf race going a mile and a sixteenth for 4YO and upward.  We have a big field, several with good G1 performances, a first time import and some dirt to turf plays.  What that all means another tough race, and a good winning price should be in the making.  So here goes …

Contenders:

#5  Mutual Trust ML 3/1

This was a hard selection to make, because I do like Teaks North a great deal.  However, I have to go with the angle of a good graded winner from GB going out the first time.  Granted all four wins in France were for a mile, but adding a bit more should not change anything.  You have Bill Mott training her and he has a respectable record with these kind of situations.  Add in Jose Lezcano who won 25% with Mott last year and you have a dangerous mix.  If we can get a square price this is the play.

#7  Teaks North ML 8/1

My heart says this is the one, I have always liked this gelding and if it wasn’t for the import angle he would be on top.  He has had great performances in the past winning at the G1 level; good Beyer’s on turf and has even beaten Stacelita.    I like his racing style of staying near the front and then taking command and one more thing he has won on the Gulfstream turf.  Here is the one thing about Teaks North he tends to be a horse for courses.  He was a killer at Monmouth does his past victory here spell another course for him to dominate?  I do like his chances and if betting at this price it would be my play.

#4  Yummy With Butter  ML 10/1

Here is another one of those horses for courses, having done well at Monmouth on the grass.  What I see in the #4 is a horse that had to strong G3 wins then went north and got himself on a yielding turf going maybe a bit too long.  Then after a brief layoff he does a dirt sprint and now we see the classic trainer play of bringing him back to a grass route.  Belsoeur has a respectable record in these situations and puts Paco Lopez back in the irons.  One thing I learned in watching Paco at Monmouth, he is one of the best at riding in the weeds.  If #4 is fit and ready, he could surprise.

Dark Horse:

#10  Silver Medallion  ML  4/1

He could end up being the favorite in this race.  It is hard to pass on a Pletcher trained G3 winner last out posting its best Beyer of96.  So what’s the issue?  I have a suspicion that he doesn’t hold his form all that long. His record while impressive seems to me to be roller coaster like and not sure if he can string another strong performance.  But due to his good record and recent race, have to consider him.  My thinking is the price will be too paltry.

Bombs Away:

#8  Flat Out ML 6/1

I don’t often go with a first time on turf entry, I always like to see one and his breeding for grass shows that he can make the switch.  But you can’t ignore this horse that has won five of fourteen, a G1 and G2 over longer distances and post multiple 100 Beyer’s. Dickey and Solis are a tough combination and if he gets forgotten in the wagering could be a huge surprise.  He is one of those plays you have to listen to your instincts.   It’ll be interesting to see how he fairs.

Selections:

5 – 7 – 4

Monday, January 9, 2012

Italian Racing "Effectively Bankrupt"

The Guardian Newspaper, January 8, 2012:

"The future of horse racing in Italy appears to hang in the balance as protesters are set to target the government in Rome this week in an attempt to secure increased funding for the sport.

"The betting model, through which money comes back to racing, is broken, and it is effectively bankrupt. As it stands, every race that is run is being run at a loss. Nobody in Italy has any money at the moment and the new minister has already made it clear that there will be nothing more for the sport."

For some background take a look at this from a July 9, 2008 article at ESPN.com:

"Caprilli Racecourse seems to offer the perfect escape for any American racing fan grown jaded or a bit beaten down by our game's current woes. It's a placid little seaside track in Livorno, Italy that may not offer the best racing but compensates for its shortcomings with its quaintness, its history (it's more than 100 years old) and its atmosphere. Last Thursday's crowd was on the small side, but there were hundreds of young people in attendance, who were, no doubt, attracted by the late post 8:50 p.m.), and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I was among them."

The problem is, too many Italian gamblers are choosing to bet on something other than horse racing. The takeout in Italy is exorbitant, as much as 40 percent on the trio, which is the Italian version of our trifecta. According to Barsotti, it wasn't always this way, but Italian racing regulators have decided to allow major increases in the takeout rate over the years.

Too many gamblers are going broke, which has created smaller betting pools. With smaller betting pools, it's hard to make a large bet. Anyone wanting to make a big wager on a horse will drive the horse's price down to unacceptable levels. That has caused big bettors to flee the game, which makes the pools smaller yet. It's an unending cycle."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: Holiday Mood for the Ocala today at GP

Captivating Lass started the weekend off on a good note.  She had an excellent race and Luzzi rode her perfectly taking the win and paying a nice $5.80 on a $2 ticket.  Today we head down to Gulfstream and take a look at a minor stakes race for state bred fillies and mares, 4YO.  It’ll be the 10th race on the card, the 6th running of the Ocala for a purse of $60,000.  Seven girls have entered for this one mile dirt affair, and there is plenty of speed in this one and that always make it difficult.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them go wire to wire today.  So let’s see if we can score a double this weekend.

Contenders:

#2  R Holiday Mood  ML 6/1

This lightly raced 4YO has won three of six, and has shown versatility by winning routes and sprints.  She has been off for awhile after a dismal race in the Jostle at Parx.  She has shown she can win coming off a layoff and hard to go against Pletcher and JohnnyV.  There are others in this race with stronger Beyer’s but going with her ability to improve.  She is one of them that can go to the front and never look back.

#7  Sweet Repent  ML 3/1

It’s hard to ignore this 6YO.  She has posted some monster Beyer’s in her day, has won over ten races and one here at GP.  Distance is no issue and came off the bench in November to finish second in a $150,000 handicap over at Calder.  Braddy is an excellent trainer and she has won twice coming off a layoff.  If she is ready, she will come off the pace and nail them. 

#4  All Due Respect ML 2/1

She will be the favorite in this race and it is deserved.  Dutrow brings her back to Gulfstream where she won the Ocala ($60K) back in March.  He had taken the 5YO over from Kathy Walsh and won at first try.  After that she got moved around and still placed well in two G2 events.  Has the speed to blow this field away and Castellano is back in the irons.   She has won coming off layoffs and has had two bullet works at GP.  Only reason I have her in the show spot is price.

Dark Horse:

#3  Delightful Mary   ML 4/1

Here is another lightly raced 4YO who shows promise but still is inconsistent.   She has won four of seven lifetime and hit the board in six.  She shows flashes of speed to be competitive with these girls and did well in the 2010 BC Juvenile, finishing 3rd.   She doesn’t have a lot of experience on dirt; most of her success has been on synthetic.  She is one of those dangerous ones.
  
Bombs Away:

#6  Tourmaline  ML 12/1

Had a nice 3YO campaign winning four of ten, and seems to do well where ever she races.  Her speed has been improving and winning at this distance will be no problem.  The big issue is class.  All of her wins have come at minor or second level tracks and has taken down some big purses.  Rhone is a sneaky trainer, has excellent stats and does well with surface switches.  He keeps Butler on board which tells me something.  If you are lukewarm on this field, then this is the play.

Selections:

2 – 7 – 4 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: It will be a Captivating Lass today at Aqueduct

Last weekend we didn’t fare too badly.  We had our soft “Bombs Away”,  Apriority win and pay a nice $7.20 and then on Sunday the 1st, CC’s Pal scored as we figured and paid $4.80.  The nice result was in the Mr. Prospector with Zero Rate Policy finishing second.  He had that race won but gave way at the last moment to Apriority.  So today we stay at Aqueduct and will play a stakes race for 3YO fillies.  It’s the 39th running of the Busanda for a purse of $100,000.  This race is over the inner track going a mile and 70 yards on dirt.  There are seven girls entered and all lightly raced, which makes it a wide open affair. So let’s take a look …

Contenders:

# 5 Captivating Lass ML 2/1

I’ll admit this is a gimmick pick to a degree.  She won her first out going this distance at Parx handily.  She came back in a G2 and had a wonky day.  Now today McLaughlin pulls all the goodies out and uses Lasix for the first time, blinkers on and puts his hotshot rider (Luzzi) on board.  This has all the makings of a big bounce back effort.  Her last two workouts were solidand McLaughlin is having a nice season.

#1  Sweet Valentine ML 8/5

She has improved nicely in each of her three races (45-66-71) and ran tough in her first big stakes race.  Motion puts on Dominguez which is good.  So why do I have her second?  Just a hunch truthfully,  I’m not convinced of the distance.  Breeding says no problem and Motion has good sprint to route success but just not feeling it with her today.

#7  Terralba ML 10/1

She is the most experienced of the lot and looked destined to be a career maiden.  This is another hunch selection based on her effort over the inner track early in December.  It was a sloppy day and her performance was horrible but she showed a strong effort over the dirt at Laurel right before the Aqueduct race.  She posted a 70 off of a bobbled start.  Shuman is a crafty trainer and does well in these situations.   Alvarado is off to a good season and might make the difference with her.

Dark Horse:

#2  Winged Venus ML 12/1

This is one of those horses that might be still finding her upside.  She won a maiden claiming second out going a mile.  This is a big rise in class, but she might surprise us all.  With lightly raced 3YO they are still learning the craft and finding themselves, Badgett keeps Montalvo in the irons and she has shown consistent speed.  Not a dangerous entry but an interesting one.

Bombs Away:

#6  Almost a Valentine ML 20/1

I expect her odds to go stratospheric by post time.  Shipping in from Charlestown where she won her second outing by 6 ½.  Her speed fig’s don’t hold up against this crew of fillies but they did improve greatly.  So you just don’t know.  This is more of a breeding angle.  Her sire was a G3 winning router and the dam has produced three dirt route winners, one of them being a G1 winner, Rigoletta.

Selections:

5 - 1 - 7

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: One Last Dance in the Ladies at Aqueduct

Before we look at today’s race, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  We finished the year with our soft “Bombs Away” Apriority winning the Mr. Prospector and paid $7.20.  I’m also pleased how well Zero Rate Policy ran, almost held on to win it.  We will start the New Year off by heading up to Aqueduct and look at one of the oldest handicap races around.  It’s the 141st running of the Ladies Handicap for 3YO fillies and mares going a mile and an eighth over the always tough inner track for a purse of $75,000.  We have only six entered so I will review the contenders and the one Bombs Away.  

Contenders:

#3  One Last Dance ML 6/1

There is no doubt the #1 CC’s Pal should be in this spot, but with a morning line of 8/5 and knowing she will played heavily, I had to go to the upset factor.   This lightly raced 4YO looks poised to break out and show us how good she really can be.  She won her last over the inner track in a route going away, her Beyer’s are progressing and I believe Dale Romans has found the perfect spot for her today.  She is coming right back off that win, and that spells fit and ready.

#1  CC’s Pal ML 8/5

She is tough to go against, Dutrow trained and on a nice streak since he took over.  She also won her last outing on the inner track, albeit a sprint, but there is no denying her speed and how she likes to stay to the front.  Her Beyer’s of 91-85-91 make her extremely tough for this group to overhaul, she has the speed to go wire to wire.  Dutrow had a great 2011 season, especially in the stakes area, brings Alvarado right back on her (where they have been winning 45% together).   I can’t argue against her, just don’t like the value.

#5  Katy Now ML 7/5

This race is almost looking totally chalk, I have to admit these three really stick out on the form.   This is a tough 5YO with the Pletcher/Dominquez connection.  Won at Belmont two back in the Dispute and made a decent showing in the G2 Go For Wand here at Aqueduct in November.  In that raced she got bumped at the start and came out wide and showed her toughness, by staying close and didn’t pack it in.  Her Beyer’s are right there to win this race and have to call her the dangerous one, but the price value isn’t going to be there.

Bombs Away:

#2  Karmageddon ML 10/1

She looks to be a totally a horse for courses play at Monmouth. I’m going to hang my hat on her last win, which was a route in a $60,000 handicap (it was against state breds) and she popped a 81 Beyer.  Then she ran in a $100K at Suffolk and finished a strong 3rd after a slow start, posting an improving Beyer of 85.  The winner of that race has come back to win again, so using the key race angle here.  She has been off since October and has had decent workouts over the inner track.  She could be finding herself at 5 and ready for a big race. 

Selections:

3 – 1 – 5