Saturday, February 9, 2013

Animal Kingdom Preps for Dubai!

Back again for another big day of racing at Gulfstream Park on Donn Handicap day.  The Donn has shaped up to be a very good race full of legitimate contenders.  I will give you my selections in the Donn later, but the race I want to talk about is the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Ok, I can hear you now,"Oh Jeez Chalk Eating Weasel! Why do you want to talk about this race with a paltry 6 horse field which will be dominated by Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry?" I get it but hear me out.

Yes, it is true that Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry are the ones everyone has talked about since this race was filled, for good reason as both of these are on their game and the proven class of this field.  The form and class are confirmed by the 8-5 and 9-5 morning lines on these two.  But I think there is a chance to beat these two and here's how.

Point of Entry has been a monster since he finished 4th in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park last February.  That race was 9 furlongs.  He won the his previous at GP, an Allowance for n1x.  That race was at 11 furlongs.  Every race after the February race was at a distance of 10 furlongs or more.  Point of Entry seems to be one of those that just needs to race over more ground.  Now I'm not saying that Point of Entry can't win this race, simply that it is not his best distance.  Do we really want to take a short price on this?

Well, what about Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom is a lightly raced but highly accomplished 5 year old.  The Kentucky Derby winner two years ago, but most think he does his best running on grass as confirmed by his brilliant, in defeat to Wise Dan, BC Turf mile effort last out.  Yet it is no secret that Animal Kingdom is going to Dubai for the big prize.  So, you have to ask yourself if he is going to be all out to $180,000 here when there is so much more to shoot for just ahead.  Maybe, maybe not.  The truth is that Animal Kingdom may not need to be fully cranked to win this race.  But I'm not interested in 6-5 to find out.

There are two others of particular interest to me here.  Todd Pletcher puts out Salto who will be ridden by Joe Bravo.  Look for Salto to try to wire this formidable opposition as he is the one who seems most likely to inherit the lead from a bunch that generally doesn't care to do much running early.  There is none better than Joe at rating a horse on the lead.  I swear he has a clock in his head. But Salto has never proven himself at this level.  A capable horse, but is he good enough?

There is one in here who has earned his salt lick as a G1 winner which is Unbridled Command.  Unbridled Command overcame a slow start and tight quarters to win the G1 Hollywood Derby last out.  Winner of 5 in a row, he also sports a G3 victory from Saratoga last Summer.  He is versatile with regard to running style, meaning he'll have the tactical speed to keep up with Salto.  And he has top turf jockey Javier Castellano on his back.  The 15-1 Morning line looks very tasty.  I don't think he'll be let go at that, but anything around 10-1 makes him a go.

GP Turf Hdcp

4. Unbridled Command
6. Animal Kingdom
2. Point of Entry

The races

Donn Hdcp

1. Bourbon Courage
2. Flat Out
7. Csaba

Suwannee River
4. Hard Not To Like
5. Channel Lady
8. Abaco

GP Sprint Championship

6. Bahamian Squall
2. Travelin Man
5. Fort Loudon

San Marcos @ Santa Anita

1. Interaction
11. Fun with Fire
13. Slim Shadey

Follow me @cobb42 on Twitter for comments during the racing day

Audentes Fortuna Juvat

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Holy Bull--oops I mean Hutcheson

Wow, has it really been a whole month since I last visited these pages.  Well with the advent of the real Gulfstream Park racing season and my recent attendance at the Breakfast at Gulfstream affairs on behalf of Thorofan that makes sense.

Speaking of Thorofan, had a wonderful time at...

Well, the above is where I left it when I had to go back to Breakfast at Gulfstream last week.  It is just as well as my sudden departure prevented me from making a fool of myself. 

Regarding the Holy Bull, I would've have written that I thought Shanghai Bobby was beatable in this race.  I was correct, because he was beaten, yet I was incorrect because it took a track record and a dead rail trip to do it.   I would have also steered you towards Frac Daddy who turned out to be a non-factor as he grabbed a quarter during the race and away from Itsmyluckyday who I mistakenly felt might bounce off his big effort in the GP Derby on New Year's Day.  Clearly, he did not bounce.  I went on last weekend to not cash a single ticket either day.  I am going to blame my new Samsung Tablet the buying of which I justified by saying how it would pay for itself in printer ink and paper.

This week I will not be attending Breakfast at Gulfstream because I have to address a group of Cub Scouts about the scientific method.  I will be using the Hutcheson Stakes as an analogy for the explaining the scientific method and corrupting young minds at the same time..Bwah ha ha ha!

Actually I will use the Super Bowl as my analogy.  Boys still care about the Super Bowl, don't they?

On to the Hutcheson!  The morning line favorite is Merit Man at 3-1. Clearly I have other ideas or I wouldn't be writing about the race.  The Spectacular Bid comes back as Merit Man's slowest effort both in terms of Beyer's Figures and Thoro-Graph figures.  Granted, the early fractions were torrid, but Merit Man crawled home barely holding off an average runner in City of Weston who had every opportunity to pass Merit Man down the stretch.

Last week trainer Ron Pellegrini and jockey Jozbin Santana teemed up for a shocker in the 9th race at GP with longshot winner Offlee Wild.  The race was all the more notable as a mandatory race for the NTRA NHC 13 taking place in Las Vegas in which eventual winner Jim Benes had made the lucky selection.  Actually, Offlee Wild made a lot of sense on the Thoro-Graph Sheets and I flogged myself afterward for having ignored him.

I will not make that mistake again.  Pellegrini and Santana reunite in the Hutcheson with another runner which could be a contender here.  Not as solid on the sheets as Offlee Wild.  We will need to see some progress here for this one to be a winner; however the stars may be aligned for this one. 

The number 6-Singanothersong started his career with a pair of 6 and 3/4 on the TG sheets winning on his 2nd attempt.  After that they tried stretching him out in the Seacliff stakes at CRC and his performance declined noticeably. After another try at stakes level competition, Singanothersong was placed back in his normal Allowance conditions where he managed to throw in 2 places and a show before finally breaking through last time out in an OC75kN1X.  In the process, Singanothersong returned to the 6 3/4 he ran early in his 2 year old debuts.  This last race suggest he is now ready to make a quantum leap forward.  It could be this race, maybe the next.  At 8-1 in the morning line and with connections that tend to be ignored among flashier names, I think we will get a square price for a live contender.

Another horse with a big shot in here, and certainly one to use with Singanothersong is the 1 Forty Tales. You get Todd and Johnny V and probably a short price, but this one has been too good to ignore in his two outings.  Both of his races have given back figures which could be good enough to win here.  The only question you will have to ask is how short of a price are you willing to withstand.  I will use him in the exotics with the 6 Singanothersong and 8 Honorable Dillon, another who looks to be sitting on a big effort. 

Bottom line.  I will take a shot at high priced glory with Singanothersong in the win pool and fool around with him, Forty Tales, Honorable Dillon, and maybe Merit Man in the exotics.

The Hutcheson is one of the contest races this week.  My other selections for the contest are:

Sam F. Davis:  Falling Sky, My Name Is Michael, Northern Lion
Strub: Stephanoatsee, Tritap, Guilt Trip
Arcadia: Willy Conker, Silentio, Suggestive Boy

Good luck and remember..

Audentes Fortuna Juvat!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Ain't The Heat, It's the Humidity

It looks to be a warm and muggy winter day here in South Florida today.  There is a small chance of showers, but it looks as though the turf races will be run so far today.

Last week was definitely a big swing and miss.  Not only did Nikki's Sandcastle win from the 14 post, actually 13 due to a scratch, but none of my contenders did any running to even give me a thrill for my money.  In fact the entire weekend seemed to go that way for me.  Today's another day so let's dive in and see what we can find to get some of those hard earned dollars back.

The Mr. Prospector is today's 5th race.  I suspect the race was moved up to 5 so as not to pollute the Pick 5 and Pick 4 with a 6 horse field which would, no doubt, depress the handles in those fields.  I have no unique insights into this race.  Four of the six entrants in this race like to go to the lead early, so I suspect the race will set up for a stalker/closer type.  This scenario puts me square on the #6 horse Indiano (8/5), who I expect will turn the tables on Action Andy (6/5).  The value in the race may be the #5 Partyallnightlong (12/1) who should also benefit from hot early fractions.  I suspect Action Andy may be due for an off race after three to efforts in a row and look for #1 Bull Dozer (6/1) to round out the trifecta.

The race I want to talk about is the 9th race at GP, a first level Allowance race for fillies and mares 3 and up.  The race is 9 furlongs which is important because the field gets some extra distance before hitting the first turn.  This should benefit the #11 filly, morning line favorite, Riolama (5/2).  Of course, if I thought Riolama were a sure thing here, I wouldn't be writing about this race.

Riolama has every right to win this race.  She is a lightly raced 3 year old coming off a new top last out with every right to improve with 3 months rest. 

Another contender is #2 High On Kitten (6/1).  This filly must be a bit of a disappointment to Ken and Sarah Ramsey with only 2 wins in 20 outings.  Still, she appears to be a good fit here with figure wise and Wesley Ward and Julio Garcia have been clicking together for a gaudy 28% win rate when teaming up.  She has got to figure on your tickets.

I also like the #9 Marlin Mission (4/1) running for Dale Romans.  She is another lightly raced 3 year old with competitive figures who is likely to improve and it could be today.

Finally, I arrive at the key horse for today's race #1 Sex Appeal (12/1).  Sex Appeal has little more experience than some others in here as a 4 year old filly.  She runs between 6 and 8 Thoro-Graph numbers which places her right in the thick of it if she runs her best.  By comparison, the best race for the morning line favorite Riolama is a 8 (lower numbers are better).  Granted Riolama has a greater right to improve, but with only 13 career races, it is possible Sex Appeal has not yet fired her best shot.  In addition, she draws the more favorable inside post and figures to save some ground relative to here outside competitors.  Today could be the day she breaks out that life time best and I am willing to take the chance at 12/1 or somewhere in that neighborhood.

In plain English.  1. Sex Appeal to win and key with 11 Riolama, 2 High On Kitten, and 9 Marlin Mission in the exotic pools.

Late P4 at GP (Races 7-10): 7,8,9,6/7,6,3,1/1,11,2,9/5,8,2

Late P4 at Tampa (Races 7-10): 4,8,7,1/8,9,7,2/5,7,3/7,5,6,1

Audentes Fortuna Juvat!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

El Prado Stakes? Get Serious!

Today I'll take a peak at the El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park.  The race drew a full field of 14 plus an Also Entered and promises to be a fun betting affair.

First for the infamous DRF Best bet the experts at the Form settled on 5. Salto (5-1) trained by Todd and ridden by J.J.  I understand their enthusiasm to some degree.  First, it is Pletcher at GP which has been money in the bank in recent years. Second, Castellano may be the best jock going on turf right now.  Third, Salto's last two races at Keeneland certainly put him in the thick of things here.

But, you knew there would be a "but" coming now didn't you, both those races at Keeneland were run on the poly track. Whenever Salto has run on turf his numbers become a little more pedestrian.  Unless, this 4 nearly 5 year old, has made some quantum leap in ability, unlikely at this point in his career in my opinion, expect him to run back to his previous pedestrian turf figures.  Good news for us is that it is Pletcher at GP in a Saturday stakes race, so expect Salto to take more money than he should from the betting lemmings, er I mean public.

Another horse sure to draw some attention will be the 14 Nikki's Sandcastle (7/2).  NS was the winner of the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes last out on opening day of the GP meet.  He is a member of a small, elite group of horses who are not owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey able to win a race that day. 

On Dec. 1, NS broke from PP1. Today he will break from the unfortunate post 14.  I don't have the exact numbers handy, but, trust me, post 14 at a mile on the turf course will be a tall order to fill. 

So, after eliminating the DRF Best Bet and ML favorite, we are left with a wide open race to ponder.

In this race I narrowed my focus to 4 main contenders.  The 10 Beaux Choix (6/1) is a capable turfer with figures making him a definite contender in this race.  I think the 10 post is still a little difficult, if not as bad as the 14, so I have discounted his chances somewhat although he will be a factor on my Pick 4 tickets.

The second worthy of consideration is the 3 Get Serious (10/1).  I have to admit that Get Serious is a personal favorite of mine so I may have a bit of bias with this one.
Here is a picture of my wife visiting with Get Serious and trainer John Forbes at his stall at Monmouth the day before the Haskell Stakes this year.
The 8 year old gelding has some plusses and minuses going for him in this race.  On the plus side, he likes to run on firm turf, which he should get, he likes to run on the lead, which he should get, and I think jockey Elvis Trujillo may be a particularly good fit for Get Serious based on his ability to get horses wire to wire on the turf.
On the minus side, Get Serious has not been training seriously since leaving New Jersey with last Thursday's allowance sprint serving as a public workout.  Also on the minus side is that the turf course has, thus far, not been particular kind to need to lead types like Get Serious.
I will be pleasantly surprised if he wins and will have him on my tickets, but I will go elsewhere for the key horse today.
Number 2 Teaks North (15/1) brings a ton of back class into this race.  On the plus side, if he runs back to his 4 year old figures he will have a very good chance to win here.  On the negative side he has been side lined for nearly 11 months.  However, I am not a believer that these long layoffs are necessarily as bad as the old timers think they are.  I think medications, therapies, and training techniques are much more advanced than they were even 10 years ago, and we all know about Richard Dutrow and medications, eh?
But finally, I need a horse to use as a key and the winner is, drum roll please, #6 Tune Me In (10/1).  Tune Me In rounded into form in the G3 Cliff Hanger Stakes at Monmouth Park on September 1 beating both Salto and Get Serious and hasn't missed a beat since.  I look for Tune Me In to continue his good form under new trainer Jane Cibelli.  Cibelli wins at an 18% clip when running a horse for the first time and if we get 10/1 this will be a bargain.  Look for Tune Me In to stalk Get Serious again and try to take over when the horse hit the stretch.
Final analysis, Tune Me In to win and keyed in the exotics with Teaks North, Get Serious, and Beaux Choix.
Pick 4 selections races 7-10 GP:  6,9,5,7/5,2, 4, 3(?)/6,2,3,10,14/1,4,8,6,9,11
Pick 4 selections races 2-5 at Fair Grounds: 11,4,2,1a/1,3/8,1,5/4,6,7
Unfortunately Fair Grounds polluted the late P4 with a race for 2 year old all of which with the exception of one have never raced before.  Sheesh?
Audentes Fortuna Juvat