Risen Star/Fountain Of Youth stakes analysis

Two stakes races along the Kentucky Derby trail are in my sights this weekend. I won’t be wagering $ on either but you’ll still benefit from my handicapping knowledge in this post.  Changing my styles in handicapping yet again, being more selective with variables and selections within races, I am likely to include low-valued horses, keeping a watchful eye on any that seem underpriced.

On Saturday, it’s the Risen Star (Grade 2) at Fair Grounds. 11 horses, 4 coupled in entries.  
6 of the horses merited some chance in winning this race from what I see:
#3 AFFORD has the dosage profile of these considering ideal horses that win on this track. In fact, he nosed out a victory in a $50k optional-claimer last time out here.   Alternating show-win placings in all 4 lifetime starts.   Could play if there are some scratches.
#4 OPTIMIZER is one of 2 horses to have won as long as 8.5 furlongs (maiden win, first start, last year’s Saratoga meet). Appears to lack credentials for an outright win.
#7 EL PADRINO can’t be ignored. Similar to AFFORD, all starts in the money, comes out of a $75k optional-claim win. He is the other horse who has won 8.5 furlongs. Fastest horse to his suited pace style in the field.
#1 MR. BOWLING (part of entry with #9 MARK VALESKI) is out of 2 G3 races…a 3rd in the Iriquois and a win in the Lecomte. The win in the Lecomte which you can see at     gives him the best winning track speed of this field along with Z DAGER. 
#8 SHARED PROPERTY is comfortable with Graded events….Beyond his maiden win in his first start, he won a G3 at Arlington Park, then took 6th in G1 Breeders Cup Futurity, then 3rd in the Lecomte.  He’s got the best pace/speed form of the field: Despite the BC loss first time at 8.5 furlongs, he just pushed past his 2YO-best Brisnet speed figure..enough to cause a bounce, but not by much.
#5 Z DAGER ran 2nd in the Lecomte and shares the 95 Brisnet # at Fair Grounds. 

My picks fall alongside what the morning-line suggests: EL PADRINO and the MR.BOWLING/MARK VALESTRI entry are strong contenders…but I like SHARED PROPERTY to win this race. He might even get some value for an outright win bet. I’d use these 3 betting interests in exactas.   Z DAGER should be 3rd or 4th. http://sz0134.wc.mail.comcast.net/zimbra/mail?app=mail#3

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Then on 2/26 is the Foiuntain Of Youth at Gulfstream. 8 horses doign battle, including top Derby prep horeses UNION RAGS and ALGORITHMS. The former ranked #2 for me in pool #1 of this year’s Future Wager, tho I passed at his 7-1 odds. The latter was not seriously considered in the pool for me.
As for the FOY…4 of the 8 horses seem to have some positive angles:
ALGORITHMS is the horse for course: last 2 races were wins at GP (including the  G3 Holy Bull), and is undefeated in 3 starts. Best track pace of this field. Probably will be bet down to either favorite or 2nd-favorite. With a pair of triple-digit Brisnet #s, he could bounce downward.
CASUAL TRICK owns, by a slight margin, the best race-pace per speed type of this field. Seems to be a real fighter, dealing with traffic early and during races. Should improve and bounce back from his 75 Brisnet speed number.
UNION RAGS already has won the G1 Champagne last year, and is therefore top class of this field.  Just missed winning the BC Juvenile. First start of ‘12 will define whether he continues on the Derby trail.
I don’t have a solid pick re form: Nobody looks convincing enough to play along these lines, but one horse seemed close.   NEWS PENDING ran 5 maiden races before winning, then finished 2nd in a 75k optional claimer race while forging a new top, and a paired top at that.  Both those races were with jockey Maragh.  Switches to Desormeaux for this race.  The big deal is that he is turning back from 9 furlongs to 8.5 and also from turf to dirt.  Yet he’s upgrading in class for this one.  Too much baggage for me to commit to.

My order of finish:  CASUAL TRICK, ALGORITHMS,  UNION RAGS. It might be worth playing these in exactsas. I suspect CASUAL TRICK is the one with the most value who can win and to play for win outright. 

San Vicente Stakes analysis

On Twitter I revealed the win selections I made from KY Derby Pool One: Sabercat (34-1), Hansen (, amazingly, doubled in value at 26-1 despite my ranking it tops of this year’s crop) and Creative Cause (17-1). The latter horse is entered in today’s Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita.    
Creative Cause took some late action in the pool betting and was about 5th choice when it closed.  

While I further redo my handicapping style I am off of wagering until March.   Here’s my take on the featured race at Santa Anita:
2 of the 6 horses entered share a common angle: all three have reached a lifetime and 3YO best speed rating, slightly better than their best from 2011. Also, 2 of these could bounce downward from those numbers.    

#1 Let’s Get Crackin’ peaked in an allowance race in August, bottomed out 2 races later, and then resurged with a new lifetime best last time out in the San Pedro at Santa Anita, finishing 3rd.  Blinkers off for this race. Makes his 2nd start wtih new trainer Craig Dollase. Has gone through a number of trainers in his brief career.  Only pure early speed in the field.
#4 Smoking G exploded with his win at Santa Anita on 1/28, 3rd shot at a maiden race.  Ran a bullet work since the race.
No outright eliminators in the field, which is both good news and bad. My Derby pick, Creative Cause, ran close to his lifetime best, which was his maiden effort.  ML fave and likely to be the post-time fave.
Drill also is expected to take a lot of money and probably could bounce from his 5th place effort in the San Pedro.    American Act also could bounce, but, like Drill, has nothing purely negative to make this possibility stronger.  Captain Obvious is making his 2nd start in the US, and I don’t trust such a horse who is in that position.
I imagine that Let’s Get Crackin’ and Smoking G will be the 2 horses 1-2 in either order and would play them in exacta, both ways, along with a straight win bet on either if the odds are 6-1 or worse.   Also might use Creative Cause over these 2 in exacta if the odds turn out the way it looks.  @radiocblue on Twitter is where I will post the mythical wager.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1 musing

In an attempt to outthink myself, having selected last year’s Derby winner right out of Pool 3 to the tune of 30-1 (race day was 21-1), I decided to get into the game early and wager a bit in all three pools.  I’ll dissect the chances of some of the horses and lead to my own choices.  The actual bet I met will depend on how the odds go.
I’ll reveal the actual wager on Twitter at @radiocblue once Sunday afternoon arrives, in the waning hours of the pool. You’ll read my analysis and decide for yourself how it goes.

As much as I like exactas, I’ve no temptation to play them in the future wager. It’s $2 win only for me. I will wager a total of $18 across the three pools, selecting three horses for win in each pool.    The horses I select must be running with odds of 9-1 or worse.   That way, a minimum 6-1 winner will barely break even against the 9 losing/non-entered horses.

The first pool opens up at noon on Friday.  I’ll be watching the first hour keenly to see how the odds change.  Any favorites that drop in price might be overlays and likely not worthy to bet.  Of course these are knee-jerk reactions and not indicative of race-day odds movements, but worth looking all the same. 

If you’ve followed my posts re contenders for this year’s big race, I’m hereby tearing up this list and focusing on the pool entrants as official contenders.

The categories I focused on to determine pool picks are these:
CLASS: What level of competition has the horse defeated others in?
CHURCHILL DOWNS PACE: Any races/wins at CD? What speed? (I am using Brisnet figures for this)
OVERALL PACE: How quick is the horse’s pace based on his running style? I use a simple sabermetric formula to determine this)
DISTANCE: What was the longest distance the horse won at?

DOSAGE: I compare the horse’s chef-de-race numbers to see if it matches closely with a typical CD winner from 2011 per info at www.chef-de-race.com  
I also add in a combo of variables beyond this to measure short-/long-term trends from the past that can impact the horse’s running. This whole section is a category in itself.
I qualified horses by measuring the upper third in each category, counting ties.
No one horse went 6-for-6 of the 39 in the pool, but one did get 5 of 6:
HANSEN  3 wins and a 2nd lifetime.  Winner at 8.5 furlongs and the BC Juvenile at CD. Great current pace of 102, good pedigree. Hasn’t improved on the Juvenile pace yet so maybe the Holy Bull was the bounce race for him.  WIll run in the Fountain of Youth on 2/26

Here are those who scored 4-of-6:
Speaking of UNION RAGS..he won the G1 Champagne, and was 2nd to HANSEN in the BC Juvenile. Strong current pace of 100. Has not won past 1 mile. He will tangle with HANSEN in the Fountain Of Youth

 
CREATIVE CAUSE won the G1 Norfolk at 8.5 furlongs. .  3rd in the key BC Juvenile race at CD. Current pace is at 9 Runs next in the San Vicente  on 2/19
 
SABERCAT won the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3). Ran first 2 lifetime races, both maidens, at CD, at rather slow pace. Fairly slow for this field. Won at 8.5 furlongs, good dosage.  Next race should be the San Felipe on 3/10
Looking into the field, one contender emerged: MOTOR CITY: Won the G3 Iriquois at CD, decent pace. Overall pace is 89, fairly slow compared to others in the pool.  Has not won past 1 mile. Good dosage numbers. Slight possibility he can bounce from this win.  Next race for him is unclear at this moment.

12 other horses managed positive indication in 3 of the 6 categories. Of these 12, 4 stood out most. The first two are highest in the pecking order:

DULLAHAN won the BC Futurity (G1) and ran 4th in the BC Juvenile at CD. Good pace score of 92, won at 8.5 furlongs. Doesn’t have the dosage numbers. Off the trail since 11/5/11; curious to see how he will do 3/11 for the Palm Beach.
TAKE CHARGE INDY has only won a maiden race at 6 furlongs. . Ran 4th in the speedy BC Juvenile. Very strong overall pace with his early/pressing style of 109, best in the pool. This AP Indy colt has great pedigree. Amazed that he’s 30-1. Next race should be the 3/10 Tampa Bay Derby.

A notch below these:
I”LL HAVE ANOTHER: Pleasantly surprised in the Robert B Lewis. Could bounce off the high speed and bounce back later. No runs at CD. Decent overall pace of 90. Won at 8.5 furlongs.  Pointed to the Santa Anita Derby in April.

ROUSING SERMON: Last finished 4th, placed 3rd in the Robert B Lewis on 2/4.  Won his maiden race and a 100k stakes race, and that’s it. No races at CD yet. Current pace is an impressive 102. Won that 100k stakes at 8.5 furlongs. Good dosage numbers. Needs to improve to high 90’s in overall Brisnet figure next race and possibly increase in distance to be a strong contender.  No indication where he will run next.

Before the pool opens up, I’d like to think HANSEN and UNION RAGS will be 1 and 2 in the odds totals. I’d certainly take a chance with any other horse listed here so long as the odds are worse than 8-1 by Sunday afternoon.
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I’ve been in a crisis re my wagering strategy, having 3 losing weeks in 2012 so far.    I devised a different strategy, being more selective of races, and using a point system with few variables re horses to wager win and exacta.  I feel it will work.  The litmus test comes this Saturday with a few Graded stakes races set.   I’ll be around Saturday morning to give you the 411. 

Santa Anita race selections 2/4/12

Three stakes races highlight today’s Santa Anita card, featuring Kentucky Derby hopefuls in each.

I am planning to wager on 7 of the 10 races on today’s card.  Here’s the key horse selections for each race I have in mind:

race 2: win: 3,4,6,8,12  exacta: 3,6,8,10,12,13 

show: 2,10
Key horses:
#3 Seek The Light with speed increase in last race
#6 Me Salty: no works; best jockey/trainer combo in the field, best horse out of a middle post,
#8: Jeffrey’s Groove: Inside duel in last race; fastest pace horse in this race
#12: Depth: Strong speed increase in last race;

race 5: win: 3,7,9,10 exacta: 2,3,4,7,9,10,13  show: 1,12 
key horses:
#3 Joy’s Jaguar increase in speed last race, forging new lifetime best
#7 Mirror Ball raced 2nd in a GB maiden stakes race in debut
#9 Candy And Thunder strong speed increase in last race; no works.
#10  Miss Communication also with speed increase, forging new top in 2nd life start; fastest at the 6-1/2 distance & at track

 
race 6: Robert B. Lewis Stakes (Grade 2)
win: 1   exacta: 1,2,4  show: 2
key horse:
#1: Isn’t He Clever speed increase last race, forged new top
 
race 7: win: 2,6,11,1  exacta: 2,6,11,1,14,10 
show: 11
key horses:
#2  Depreciable speed increase last race, improved over 3YO best and forged new life top;
#6 Joy Boy: speed increase last race, forged new life top; no works; best at middle post
#11 Twin Six: speed increase in last race; 2 interesting ROI notes here also…. Jockey Joel Rosario and Carla Gaines combined on 3 wins in 7 races in last 60 days, 5 times in the money for +3.10 return. Gaines in 12 races with a horse coming off a maiden win has won 5, in the money 7 times, for an ROI of +2.88. Best works in the field and best from an outside post.
#1 Truism, from GB makes his US debut, coming off a 6th place finish in a Class 3 race, steadily in top class races in GB over a year.
 
race 8: Strub Stakes (Grade 2)
win: 2,5,8  exacta: 1,2,4,5  show:  4
key horses:
#2 and #5 Prayer for Relief, and Clubhouse Ride have strong increased speed from last race.  Prayer for Relief has some advantages here….fastest at the 9 furlong distance, best from an inside post, and best jockey/trainer combo.
 
race 9:
win: 12,7,1  exacta: 12,1  show: 8 
key horses:
#12 Wild Revenge  strong increase in speed last race;
#1 Howmuchisit: no works; forged life top in 2nd to last start; fastest horse of his pace style in the race
 
race 10:
win: 1, 6, 7, 10 
exacta: 1, 4, 10 
show: 4
key horses:
#1 Setsuko downgrades from a poor effort in a Grade 1
#10 American Blend increased sharply in speed last race, forged new top; same ROI stats as Twin Six in race 7; best workout tab.
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Outside of today’s card, I’m looking forward to next Saturday’s racing where I will wager a full racing card pending my bankroll size, and will also drop a few dollars in the first KY Derby futures pool of the year.  I’ll wager $2 on 3 different horses to win for that pool.