Monthly Archives: March 2008

Fierce Wind Update

Finally a little tidbit on my pick for the Florida Derby, Fierce Wind. He did drop like a stone about half way through, I thought something must have been wrong beyond just not being able to keep pace.

Fierce Wind, who finished 10th in the 12-horse field, was found to have bled in the race, according to trainer Nick Zito. After the race, Fierce Wind was transferred by owner Halsey Minor to trainer Rick Violette Jr. Minor, who has the brilliant filly Dream Rush with Violette, purchased Fierce Wind privately before the Florida Derby.

Also, interesting note about the connections. I guess Nick Zito can’t train them all!

Georgie Boy Sidelined

Georgie Boy off the Derby Trail with pulled muscle (Charles Pravata)

Damn it… I really was looking forward to seeing his next prep! Although I think of the California horses El Gato Malo stands to benefit the most from a faster pace scenario a la Big Brown & War Pass (a.k.a the only 2 speed horses in the whole lot).

Sierra Sunset also would have looked more plausible under the fast fraction scenario but using that logic King’s Silver Son starts to look intriguing.

Not to worry, I’ll be updating my Derby Dating selections… one has to stay flexible if one wants to pick the most appropriate suitor(s) for the big dance!

Learning from the Past

My own, that is. I spent the day catching up on a lot of things I normally would do at the beginning of the year… setting up my filing system for this year, doing some general tidying of my work area, etc.

Part of this long neglected task was addressing the giant undealt with pile of past performances that had accumulated near my desk. My first thought was that there might be some value in keeping them around, but as looked through them my notes were not exactly full of the kind of insight that warrants keeping giant piles of paper in a Manhattan apartment.

It wasn’t a total wash, I confirmed what I had started to suspect yesterday afternoon… I really shouldn’t play the Dubai World Cup. I didn’t hit anything last year or this. I don’t pay too much attention to international racing and without the running lines and workouts I may as well just throw my money out the window (again).

I also didn’t do so hot on last year’s Florida Derby card either… but better than this year in that I cashed one ticket. I had the trifecta in the Skip Away (A.P Arrow, Rehoboth, Political Force).

A few other items of note… I happen to do well with claiming & allowance races at Belmont, I play a decent amount of trifectas and more often than not I have 2 of the horses with the 3rd coming in 4th. Also, I’m really not afraid to gamble!

On that note, one of the many phone conversations I had with Swifty yesterday went something like this:

me: “you can watch race replays on twinspires”

Swifty: “really? cool, let me call you back”

Swifty: “I’ve realized a fear today… twinspires is really easy to use. a little too easy”

me: “why do you think I’m down so &*^%-ing much already this year?”

The Law of Unintended Consequences

In the immortal words of the fictional Gordon Gekkco, “greed is good, greed is right and greed works“. Yes, but usually not for us, the horse players.

One can argue that greed is the predominant reason why our horses don’t race for very long. One can also argue that greed is a factor in why our horse don’t race very often. One can even go so far to as to say that greed plays a role in why our horses have become so unsound.

Enter the law of unintended consequences and we have greed to thank for Curlin, our horse of the year and now the world champion, running as a 4 year old.

To hear Jess Jackson tell it, you’d think the whole thing was a well thought out orchestrated move designed for the long term betterment of the sport. But with two of Curlin’s part owners being lawyers indicted for swindling the plaintiffs of a class action lawsuit against the makers of the the diet drug Fen-Phen, there is a bit of a monkey wrench thrown into the mix.

The three lawyers are also the target of a civil case brought by the plaintiffs, some of whom have asserted that Gallion and Cunningham used proceeds from the case to purchase Curlin, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes. The lawsuit, filed in 2004, is scheduled to go to trial in September.

At the time of the year when a champion 3 year old is making his final curtain call, the greed of two of Curlin’s owners disturbed the “natural order” and kept Curlin in limbo long enough to make it not only plausible, but attractive to keep him in training as a 4 year old.

Hooray for greed! Greed owes us big time… and it seems as though greed knows how to return a favor!

While we’re on this roll, let’s hope that greed comes through in the long run and proves that it can be just as profitable, if not more so, to run your fancy pants horses past 3… hell, they might even get a little better with age (and fetch you more money in the breeding shed)!

I’m guessing that if you were risk averse you might not be involved in horse racing at all, right?

Balance Restored

Well, so much for the dearth of speed horses, it seems as though Big Brown has restored some balance!

I found the hardest part about handicapping the Florida Derby was trying to figure out if Big Brown would set the pace and if so, provide exactly the kind of fractions we saw today, i.e., fast.

In my notes there were a couple of horses who would benefit from a fast pace: Smooth Air, Cool Gator, BB Frank, Majestic Warrior and Tale of the Cat. Of those, I definitely thought Smooth Air and Majestic Warrior stood the most chance to make some noise. Tomcito was a total pace unknown to me so I didn’t know what to make of him.

I keyed almost all of my bets with Fierce Wind so it didn’t work out to well for me from a betting perspective, but I thought it was a thrilling yet quizzical race. In addition to being flabbergasted by Big Brown’s jaw dropping performance, I was equally flummoxed by Fierce Wind & Elysium Field’s no shows.

I was pleased with Smooth Air and thought as they came around the final turn he actually had a shot to catch Big Brown (which was extra exciting as I had a little win bet on him). Además, yo estaba muy satisfecho con el rendimiento de Tomcito (gracias Google Translate!).

I’m looking forward to watching the replay and reading all the speculation and hype that’s no doubt being produced right this very moment.

No Doubt About It

Curlin & Robby Albarado winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Charles Pravata)

Curlin is one hell of an impressive horse, or as Swifty just put it on the phone, “Curlin’s got skillz”.

It was easy to dismiss how effortlessly he won his last race, but not here. He ran at least 3 wide the entire race and on command produced another gear to motor past the field and win by 3-4 7 3/4 lengths… effortlessly.

I’m happy to report that Curlin is doing a stellar job of fulfilling my hopes and dreams of making an air tight case for talented horses racing beyond 3. I don’t even care if Jess Jackson is lying through his teeth about doing for it good of the sport… letting him get credit for it is a small price to pay if our stars can stick around longer because of it. But we all know where the real credit goes… thank you Fen-Phen!!

Off to a Great Start

Go Diamond Stripes, what a nice performance! I liked him to win here but didn’t put any money on him at his price. I also only lightly handicapped the card so I won’t be doing too much (serious) wagering this morning. I did throw a couple of bucks on Don Renato, but to win not to show.

Regardless of how much I play along from home, I haven’t been this excited for Saturday morning TV since Looney Tunes & Super Host (for those who lived within broadcast distance of WUAB in Cleveland in the early 70’s).

Next up, I think I’ll make a little play on My Indy using the same logic that can be found over at casa de Superfecta.

Procrastination Sidebar

Hats off to Paul Pompa Jr on his excellent horse naming sensibility (presuming he named them). He owns the following runners on tomorrow’s Gulfstream card: Classy Concern, Backseat Rhythm, Yes Master and Big Brown.

Perhaps it’s time I stop putting off reading this? Ok, back to handicapping…

A Triumphant Return?

While looking over the Gulfstream card for tomorrow, a few things jump out (besides how interesting the Florida Derby is going to be!).

While we’re all caught up in the current derby hype of Big Brown, Tomcito and the like I’d like to take you for a little trip in the (not so) way back machine… note last year’s Florida Derby:

Michael Matz trainee Chelokee was very much in vogue in the hype machine and his maneuver to get around some horses and close strongly in the Florida Derby only added fuel to the fire. Was he the next Barbaro? Would he run in the Derby? There ended up being no Triple Crown action for the talented colt but he did go on to win the Barbaro Stakes (nee Sir Barton – change it back!) on Preakness day and the Northern Dancer before sustaining an ankle injury.

Fast forward to tomorrow, site of the 2008 Florida Derby, where Chelokee will be making his 4 year old debut as the 7-5 favorite in race 6, a 75K allowance optional claimer (where no one is in for a tag). Drums of Thunder, also on the Derby Trail last year, is also in the race. I’m wondering Chelokee will pull a Circular Quay and have a triumphant return?

Other 2007 Derby Trail horses on tomorrow’s Gulfstream card include Izzie’s Halo in the 8th and Imawildandcrazyguy in the 12th, who also ran in last year’s Florida Derby.

Best of luck to all them!

Running Style Imbalance

Yours truly is back from impersonating a business traveler (and not such a hot impersonation at that). I had a couple of posts I wanted to do but was either too tired or lacking free wireless. I have to get crackin’ on my handicapping for tomorrow, but you know I like to procrastinate!

I’ve been noticing a lot discussion about this year’s crop of 3yos lack of consistent 100+ Beyers, not only here but around ye olde blogosphere as well. I haven’t had a chance to investigate all the points everyone is making too closely (consider my first paragraph the excuse) so pardon me if someone else made this point already… I think this is really a function of the imbalance of running styles (as first noted here in the second to the last paragraph).

Are there any other confirmed speed horses besides War Pass? I don’t think there are (please let me know if I’m forgetting anyone). For example, if you look at Pyro’s Beyers in his two races with War Pass, they both broke 100. He had a 100 in the Champagne and 105 in the BC Juvie. And I’m not just talking about Pyro here… I believe all of the other contenders this year, aside from War Pass are either closers or stalkers, so how can you knock them for slower Beyers if they don’t have a speed horse to chase?