Kentucky Derby 2012 contender update, Fair Grounds 1/21 selections

New contenders:
ECABRONI 2-1-1-0 32k  (Castelloni-Pletcher)  Won a MSW at Gulfstream 1/14/12
Z ROCKSTAR 6-1-2-2 $46 (Quinonez-von Hemel) 2nd in allowance race at Oaklawn, 1/16/12
APPLAUDING races in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds on 1/21
CONGENIAL is in a MSW at Fair Grounds, same card.
CANIGOTOO entered in the Groovy Stakes at Sam Houston on 1/21.


Took a bit of a hit with my bankroll but not enough to keep me out of the game for this week.   Did get 2 exactas and scored a few show bets in the process. I’ll be on limited wagers but hopefully will break even and get back to $0.

Reminding you that I will be entering all 3 pools of the KY Derby Futures come February 10…wagering $2 to win on  3 horses. I’ll be selecting 3 horses that may close at 10-1 or worse.

 AFFORD:   3-1-0-2  28k  (Albarado/Geier)
AFRICANIST    5-1-2-1  52k  (Leparoux/Kenneally)
APPLAUDING   2-2-0-0  49k  (Sellers/Stall)
BRIDGEBURNER   5-2-1-0   81k (Stein-Howard)
CANIGOTOO     5-2-1-0 43k  (MC Berry-Calhoun)
CONGENIAL   3-0-0-3   13k  (Albarado/Stall)
CONSORTIUM     2-1-1-0  39k  (JR Velazquez/McLaughlin)
CONSULADO 2-1-1-0 42k (Flores-Puype)
DA VINCI   3-1-0-0   19k  (JR Velazquez/Pletcher)
DONE TALKING     5-2-0-2  80k  (Garcia/Smith)
EVER SO LUCKY    2-1-1-0  61k  (Leparoux/Sheppard)
FESTIVE SPIRIT   3-1-0-1 38k  (C.Velazquez/Pletcher)
HARD FACTS 2-1-0-0 17k  (Dunkelberger/Trombetta)
HOLDIN BULLETS    2-1-0-1  80k (Sanchez-Ward)
PAPA SID   2-1-0-1   22k   (Riggs-Hubley)
RACONTEUR 6-1-2-2  71k(C.Velasquez-Pletcher) 
RAVELO’S BOY   11-2-0-2  55k (Sanchez/Azpurua)
REVERON   5-3-1-1  104k   (Jara/Bezara)
ROCK HARDER     5-1-0-2  34k  (Mena/Howard)
ROUSING SERMON    6-2-2-2  274k (Talamo/Hollendorfer)
SILVER MENACE  3-2-0-0  35k  (Sanchez/Divito)
SPEIGHTSCITY     6-2-0-0  69k (Cohen-Contessa)
SUNS OUT GUNS OUT    3-0-0-1  5k  (Lopez-Romans)
VEXOR  6-2-1-0  135k    (Castellano-Kimmel)
Today my selections for 9 of the 13 races at Fair Grounds, 1/21,  with a lot of stakes action, and 2 Graded stakes to get explicit with.
Race 6 is the Silverbulletday Stakes. Within the field of 6 I’m keying 2 horses.
#2 Inny Minnie drops from a Graded stakes 2nd place finish. 11/19). Running in weaker company here and should threaten. The layoff of 2 months might help here.    #6 Summer Applause won her first race other than maiden last time out, an optional claimer for $50k…Might bounce back down in speed since she did forge a new lifetime best. Still she has the best distance run of the 6 here.  
For exacta I’d use these under favorites, along with these:
#1 Yvete Sangao is a morning-line longshot. She has the rail for this race, and has won her only other start from that position. Was 3rd in the race Inny Minnie ran at Delta Downs on 11/19.. She is the one dead closer in the field.  She paired up to 2 lifetime best speed figures in last 2 races, which is usually a negative sign for me.
#4 Believe You Can I’m uncertain of for value (4-1 at ML) but should also contend for 2nd here. She is top class of the field, winning the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes in October. Should there be a wet track (likely given the weather report) she has possible advantage there too…having the only win on an off track in the field. Further she sports the top jockey-trainer combo in the field (Napravnik-Jones) That combo, in fact are 1-for-2 in the last 60 days with a modest ROI return of +2.50. Possible repeat of form coming off a long layoff.
I haven’t factored in my own KY contender APPLAUDING at all in the race. She is running like a champ for certain, never behind in the stretch in her 2 lifetime wins. Deservedly she is the clear ML fave. In this race I just don’t have much to go on to suggest further improvement. I take caution with horses who have won before on layoff making further attempts to repeat history. She does have much in her favor :Best speed figure at the track of these; best pace figure for her early-pressure style; best workout tab of these as well.    
If odds work out to betting someone to show, and the track is dry I will certainly wager Believe You Can there.  Applauding will certainly get a token show bet tho I don’t like to bridge-jump.   
Summing up: Win: Inny Minnie, Summer Applause.  Exacta: These two, plus Believe You Can, and Yvete Sangalo
Race 11 is the Grade 3 LeComte Stakes, 1-mile 70 yards for 3YOs.
This is a race where I like 5 horses for win and exacta…If the odds are low all around, I might forget the exacta and focus on win bets.
Both halves of the Gennadi Dorochenko entry are vialble: My choices are:
1: Adena’s Choice (alternating sprint and route races, no works,
1A Hero Of Order (returns off 2 sprint races, possible bounce down in speed but hedging against this, no works, forged lifetime top last out)
2B  Z Dager (best in field on off track, could bounce from high speed figure)
7 Alexander Thegreat (another who forged a new lifetime best last out, could bounce)
9 Chalybeate Springs (2nd off layoff, no works, broke maiden last out)
I have 4 further contenders whom I might bet for show depending on how the odds go: #3,4,8,11 (Ted’s Folly…lone dead closer in the field, Mr. Bowling, Hammers Terror, Shared Property)
As for race 8, the MSW with CONGENIAL as the 2nd choice in the morning-line, I don’t think much of him in this race.  Here are 2 horses I’m keying:
#4 Atlantic Titan: Could bounce from his increase in speed last race; jockey-trainer Mena-Flint are 2-for-2 in the money in the last 60 days, ROI of +9.60.  
#8 Empire Taker: Another bounce candidate, changing to a better jockey this time.
Also possible for win:
#5 Proper Empire: ML fave (yeesh).A good ‘explosive’ candidate, as he’s going slightly better than his lone 2YO effort at 3.
#7 Vperyod Springs: Sharp improvement in speed to lifetime best in last race, running wide then steadied and contended through finish. Turns back to a slighly lower distance and moves from turf to dirt here.  Good possibility for an explosive effort here. Can’t believe he’s 20-1 at ML.
Possible for exacta (2nd position behind my picks and any faves):
#1 Donoharm: Led for about half of a mile-70 yard race last time out, gave way in stretch. Same track, same distance…might be same result but a lot closer this time.

#10  Julius Caesar: Also repeats distance, 3rd life start…failed as favorite last time, running fairly wide. Made only slight improvement in late stage. Big question mark but giving benefit of doubt.

I just don’t think much for #6: Congenial pairs up with high speed figures last 2 races and is likely to bounce from those.  Wouldn’t surprise me if he finishes 3rd for 4th straight time.
Now for the selections (saddle #s):
race 3 win: 1/1A, 3,4,10
race 4 win: 1    exacta: 1,2
race 5 win: 7,9,10  exacta: 1,2,4,6,7,9,10
race 6: win: 2,6  exacta: 1,2,4,6 *see above
race 7 win: 1,4,5  exacta: 1,4,6,5
race 8: win: 4,5,7,8  exacta: 1,4,8,10 *see above
race 10: win: 8,10  exacta  2,3,8,11,13
race 11: win: 1/1A„2B, 7, 9  exacta: 1/1A,2B, 7,9,11   *see above
race 13: win: 6,8   exacta: 6

Kentucky Derby 2012 contender update

3 new contenders bring my list to 40.  The Kentucky Derby nominations will
change this list to a degree. 
None of the horses listed have entries in race immediately.
Listed are horse name, starts-win-place-show, lifetime earnings, jockey-trainer based on last start.
New to the list:
CONSULADO 2-1-1-0 42k (Flores-Puype) won a MSW race at Santa Anita 1/7/12
HARD FACTS 2-1-0-0 17k  (Dunkelberger/Trombetta)
won a MSW race at Charles Town 1/7/12
RACONTEUR 6-1-2-2  71k(C.Velasquez-Pletcher)  won a MSW race at Aqueduct

Half of my contenders seem active…here they are:

AFFORD:   3-1-0-2  28k  (Albarado/Geier)
AFRICANIST    5-1-2-1  52k  (Leparoux/Kenneally)
(2nd in allow op claim 1/8)
APPLAUDING   2-2-0-0  49k  (Sellers/Stall)
BRIDGEBURNER   5-2-1-0   81k (Stein-Howard)
CANIGOTOO     5-2-1-0 43k  (MC Berry-Calhoun)
CONGENIAL   3-0-0-3   13k  (Albarado/Stall)
CONSORTIUM     2-1-1-0  39k  (JR Velazquez/McLaughlin)
DA VINCI   3-1-0-0   19k  (JR Velazquez/Pletcher)
(6th in an allow op claim race 1/7)
DONE TALKING     5-2-0-2  80k  (Garcia/Smith)
EVER SO LUCKY    2-1-1-0  61k  (Leparoux/Sheppard)
FESTIVE SPIRIT   3-1-0-1 38k  (C.Velazquez/Pletcher)
HOLDIN BULLETS    2-1-0-1  80k (Sanchez-Ward)
PAPA SID   2-1-0-1   22k   (Riggs-Hubley)

RAVELO’S BOY   11-2-0-2  55k (Sanchez/Azpurua)
5th in Gulfstream Park Derby 1/1/12
REVERON   5-3-1-1  104k   (Jara/Bezara)
Reveron won an exciting Gulfstream Park Derby 1/1/12. Watch it here:

ROCK HARDER     5-1-0-2  34k  (Mena/Howard)
ROUSING SERMON    6-2-2-2  274k (Talamo/Hollendorfer)
SILVER MENACE  3-2-0-0  35k  (Sanchez/Divito)
(6th in Gulfstream Park Derby 1/1/12)
SPEIGHTSCITY     6-2-0-0  69k (Cohen-Contessa)
(5th in Count Fleet Stakes 1/7/12)
SUNS OUT GUNS OUT    3-0-0-1  5k  (Lopez-Romans)
VEXOR  6-2-1-0  135k    (Castellano-Kimmel)

 It’s been 2 months plus since any activity has been reported for the
following (works, races, and the like)

BIG BLUE NATION    2-1-0-1 60k (R.Dominquez-Pletcher)
BLACK RHINO   4-1-1-1  63k   (J.Sanchez-Ward) CURRENCY SWAP   2-2-0-0  180k
(Maragh-MASTER CIP 0-0-0-0  0k
MR. STYLE   2-0-2-0  20k  (JR Velazquez-Pletcher) NILE RUNNER    2-1-0-0 30k
POWER WORLD   5-1-2-0  93k (Prado-Howard)
RAINBOW’S BEST     3-1-0-0  38k (Campbell-Armata)
RESTITUTION    2-0-0-0  3k (Dominguez-Pletcher)
RIGHTFULLY SO  1-0-0-0 1k (C. Velasquez-Jerkens)
SARATOGA SNACKS   2-1-1-0  32k  (R.Dominguez-Sciacca)
SPRING TO THE SKY  2-1-0-0  32k (Castellano-Brown)
WHERE’S JOHNSON   4-1-2-0  99k  (Clark-Biamonte)
YON   2-1-1-0  37k  (Spieth-Helmbrecht)
 ZOW   3-2-0-0  81k (Trujillo-Pletcher)

Last week, one win and no exacta hits did not a winning week make.
This week I focus on Gulfstream Park and a couple of stakes races: The Hal’s Hope and The Fort Lauderdale. If I lose this week I’ll wait for February. If I win, we press on for next week.
In The Hal’s Hope Stakes (Grade 3) I am keying 2 horses: #2: Sky Venture is one of the longshots.  A good jump in speed figure between the last 2 races (3rd at this track and  last time out) and a few notches below lifetime best 4 races back (at the race’s mile distance at that) He’s an early-pressing type who hasn’t shown stamina to win enough longer races. Cutting back to the familiar one-mile distance should help.. #3 7YO Sangaree is a mid-priced horse, comes out of a Grade 1 race dated 11/26, finishing 6th.  Similar run style in the past two, running wide but tired out tired last out instead of holding on.
I also like these in the 2nd exacta position under these and favorites:
#1 Jackson Bend is the ML favorite. Last run in the BC Sprint, running 3rd, and before that a lifetime best speed figure in the Kelso, finishing 2nd. 4th straight Graded race. Has won before off layoff, and also was reclaimed by trainer Nick Zito along with that layoff.
#9 another longshot, Will’s Wildcat last raced in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, and is another horse who contended early but faded at the stretch. I’m looking for a bounce back considering layoff and lowering in distance.
Turning to race 9 and the Ft. Lauderdale….here’s the case of liking just 1 horse to win, and the majority of horses in this 14 horse field underneath, tho using favorites on top with some.
The key horse for me is #4, eight-year-old Yummy With Butter.  Moved up in speed figure between last 2 races…a 7th place finish in a Grade 3 race, then a layoff, then 4th in an allowance race.  His trainer, Yvon Belsouer has a 2011 record of 2 wins in 4 graded stakes, with an ROI of 4.50. Seeing that the 6f allowance race was a decent prep for this event, along with the improvement in speed figure, this one could surprise. I do mean ‘surprise’ as he is 10-1 at ML. 
Here’s all the others that I believe can finish 2nd.
#2 Santiva dueled well in an allowance race after a long layoff from the Triple Crown races. The improvement in speed figure is a good telling indicator.
#5 Mutual Trust makes his US debut after 5 races in France…had won his first 4 races, then finished 10th in  a top-graded event last time.
#7 Teaks North was 8th in the BC Turf, and is off a 2 month layoff. He has won before off layoff (last year’s Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap) Trainer Justin Sallusto with 2 interesting angles here….is 5-for-11 in-the-money in races where his horses were 46-90 days off the track (2.78 ROI). Also, 3-for-13 winning graded stakes, 5 times in-the-money in the these, (4.17 ROI)
#8  Flat Out was 3rd in the Clark Handicap last time, and is racing on a near 2-month layoff since.
#11 Hoofit last raced in the BC Turf Sprint, and has won off layoff in the past. Jockey-trainer connection Prado-Motion have won 2 races, and are 3 times in money together in last 60 days, with 2.72 ROI.
#13 If the track is on the main track instead (most likely it won’t given the weather), Cool Blue Red Hot also has a chance here. Also runs on a layoff (3 months). Jockey-trainer combo Cruz-Penna Jr. were in the money in 2 races together in the last 60 days, for an ROI of 5.10.

I didn’t forget the rest of the card..will have info on this tomorrow.

my mythical baseball hall of fame ballot

Time to look at this year’s HOF ballot to see if I can pick a few winners.  Most experts expect one, and only one, name to pass muster and join Ron Santo. Santo was not in my consideration for the Golden Era; Kaat and Tiant were much more HOF-worthy than Santo, but it’s still a good story.
What I did was take cues from and list the top 10 of players on the ballot in the 4 categories: black ink (leading league); gray ink (top 10 in a stat), HOF Monitor and HOF Standards (these are Bill James’s creations). I also checked out how many seasons each player were credited as having a HOF career in comparison (more number of years with top match as an HOF player, the better). Then I looked at the players whose lifetime stats matched more comparable HOF players than others.   Top 10 were included in the 6 categories, including ties.    The 10 players with the most appearances in the top 10 withn these 6 categories (6 out of 6 a perfect score) would be part of my mythical HOF vote.

Here’s how they rank, from best to worst
No doubters (6 out of 6):
Larry Walker
Mark McGwire

Juan Gonzalez
You’d be foolish to leave these out (5 out of 6):
Jeff Bagwell
Jack Morris
Rafael Palmeiro
Tim Raines
Edgar Martinez
In but not by much (4 out of 6)
Dale Murphy
Lee Smith

Out but on the doorstep: (3 out of 6)
Barry Larkin
Fred McGriff
Don Mattingly

Out, way out (2 out of 6)
Bernie Williams
Javy Lopez
Alan Trammell

The other 11 don’t even register a shot.

For a few years I’ve consider Donnie Baseball to be the HOF bellwether. Any player with comparable ranks in the 6 categories better than he should be in. Murphy ranks better than Mattingly for certain, but Larkin is about equivalent, while the Crime Dog has a slight edge over both.
Here are ghe cutoff numbers used in each category, for those keeping score at home. Any player reaching this threshold or better gets some HOF consideration, based on the strength of the class:
Black Ink: 12 
Grey Ink: 105
HOF Monitor: 120 
HOF Standards: 40 
Most comparable # of players of lifetime stats in HOF: 2
Most comparable # of seasons with HOF as top match per age: 2

Santa Anita selections 1/7/12

Still no new contenders to add to last week’s revised 37 in all. 
ROCK HARDER finished 3rd at Fair Grounds to Capetown Devil and Gowhereyougaze. The race was anything but a solid betting selection. I had 5 in the win column but none hit. Capetown Devil was my pick for show should the odds point in the proper direction. It didn’t, so no mythical wager there.

SUNS OUT GUNS OUT would finish 3rd as well, to Big Screen, and Battle Hardened in a chalky payout.  In the previous post, I did figure Big Screen and Suns for show.   At least I can spot the contenders!

I am doing my first bit of weekly wagering on 1/7, Santa Anita. 2 stakes races as part of the festivities,
Also will give you bonus thoughts re SPEIGHTSCITY , who races in the Count Fleet at Aqueduct.

Here are the selections I’ve planned for each race at Santa Anita  Win selections are for horse who are going off at 6-1 or worse at post time. Exacta selections are for those I believe will finish 2nd…ones to play under my win selection or logical favorites:

race 1:  win: Cal Bayers  exacta: Cal Bayers, Four Forty Second 
race 2: win, exacta: Tiz Liberty, Sir Bell, Michael the Man
race 3: win, exacta: Handsome Mike
race 4: win, exacta: Chocolate Caliente
race 5:win/exacta: Not to Notty, Mizzen Donald, Magical Eclipse.  Also for exacta: Brown Is Beige
not wagering race 6
race 7: win/exacta: Freewayracer, Raven Wild, Maggie McGowan
race 8:  exacta: Tres Borrachos

race 9: win/exacta: Outperform, Three Vases
In the Count Fleet:
win/exacta: Stephanoatsee, Speightscity

One of the middle-priced horses at morning-line, #4, Stephanoatsee is a strong contender for me. Comes out of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes into this ungraded race.   #6 Speightscity already on my radar.  He’s also come out of the Remsen, then won with a sharper speed figure in an optional claimer since. Being that he’s a front running type, there’s some possibility he’ll run a lower figure. I will often bet against that happening if there’s no other evidence to suggest a downturn.  No other horses warrant my wagering, but if the odds point toward value, here’s who may gather show wagering: Il Vilano (drew good inside post), Alpha (best works, superb jockey-trainer combo of Dominguez-Pletcher), and Shkspeare Shaliyah (a Grade 3 winner, fastest horse to his speed type, great outside post history)