Monmouth contest races analysis

Getting back into the swing of things as a new handicapping contest begins. Survival At The Shore is an elimination contest, based on 3 races per day at Monmouth. To survive, I have to pick a top-3 horse in one of the 3 races. I get 2 free ‘horseshoes’ in case I strike out.   Here’s my take on today’s contest races:
Monmouth 9th:  9-8-6 (My Uncle Sam, Social Network, Fake Dreams). My Uncle Sam in bounceback position after bouncing to 63 from 75 last time out, which was on turf in October. Won last June her on his only other turf to dirt surface switch. That same prior win also was off of a rise in class and slight cut back in distance.  Gained 4 lengths at 2nd call (8.5 furlongs) last time out. Provided fastest turn time of this field.

Monmouth 10th: 6-4-5 (Creaky Cricket, Here’s To Mike, Hot To Seek Her).  Creaky Cricket is the lone speed here in 12 horses; could win off layoff, considering he won his very first start.  Should bounce back after losing irons last time out early in his most recent effort.

Monmouth 11th (Majestic Light Stakes): 9-10-12 (Red Vine, Souper Lucky, Valid). Red Vine stands out here in a field of 5 that was 11 until a myriad of scratches came in.  Triple digit speed figures last 3 races, forging a 104 last time out, above the par speed here, so a possible bounce risk.   Only early closer of the field. Best works of the field, too; 4 in all, last 2 near-bullets. Only concerned that Joe Bravo has 1 win in 13 races so far.
Will post Emerald selections here later.

2015 Preakness Stakes analysis

In preparation for the Preakness, I’ve shrugged off the remnants of a handicapping system that has served me pretty decently the last several years. I built it after seeing Mine That Bird win the Derby, and mainly after reading Dave Litfin’s book on expert handicapping.  To it, I now add info from a book written in 1996 by James Quinn, “On Track/Off Track”.  The book contains a different order to the spectrum of variables I use. The biggest takeaway for me is the use of pace and turn time, and less so on post position and trips. I also am paying attention to par figures and how they relate.  I am finding many more things to look at in terms of pace in relation to class and form.   With that in mind, I have to devote another 10-15 minutes to the 20 minutes or so per race I devote to each race each day of handicapping.  These days, I examine 6 races a day at Emerald Downs, and am completing (and surviving!) the High Q Test, a quarter horse contest at Remington Park, site of my 2013 $1000 victory.   I’ve had precious little time this week to test drive the new system but I’m devoting part of Friday to immersing in it as I take in the Emerald experience.

As for the Preakness, I really should start with the Kentucky Derby.  It’s the first year in five that I failed to score in the Future Wager of either the Oaks or Derby. I’m kinda embarrassed about it as I put a ton of work in either race, and certainly a fair amount of money, to make this profit for the 5th straight year.    There is certainly reason to second-guess and third-guess my selections and thought process. But I was working against some extraordinary luck, seeing several of my future wager selections being removed from the Trail for either lack of points or injury. It’s a soul-crusher. But I persevere and count the days until November, maybe, to get into the game again.
And, tho I had considered playing the overlays under favorites, which is really a losing battle when you think of it (another tip by Quinn), I would have scored…yet it still would have been a loss overall compared to what I have spent.  Yes I did play the overlays to win, and that didn’t work out. I didn’t rank American Pharoah as he hadn’t run fully to his 2YO numbers yet.   Will the 9.75 furlong journey at Pimlico be a different story?  Let’s find out, as we go horse-for-horse:

AMERICAN PHAROAH comes in with the best speed ratings for the distance, thanks to his 100 speed rating in the run for all those roses.   Should we have an off track, he is a bigger factor, seeing that he has a 99 win in the Rebel. Winner of 5 of 6 lifetime, all wins at at the Graded level.  A small ROI angle to play here: Victor Espinoza and Bob Baffert have 7 races together in the last 60 days, with 5 wins, 6 in the money for a 2.26 return.  One of two winners at the Grade 1 level. Top speed figures in the field, also best of the Grade 1 winners. Continuing a pattern of high Brisnet numbers ranking from 99 to 103 and this has to be respected. Fastest 2nd-turn speed of the field. I have him in my top 3.  Odds: 3-1.

DORTMUND is 6 of 7 lifetime, a winner at each post, and is the other Grade 1 winner here. Forged a lifetime best 106 Brisnet in the Santa Anita Derby two races back.  Should bounce back in pace after posting 3 Brisnet figures over 100, dropping to 96 in the KY Derby.  Odds: 10-1.

MR. Z I gave up on for good.  One of several who should bounce back after a somewhat troubled trip in the Derby. He did get checked repeatedly but still managed a quick enough speed to stay relevant for at least half the race…and didn’t lose all that much energy for a pure sprinter. Best Dosage profile matching Pimlico winners.  Not much else to root for. Possible bounceback angle  in play here, taking the big downturn to 83 Brisnet from 92.  On the uptick of an up/down pattern, so there’s that.  Odds:   58-1 No chance.
DANZIG MOON won at the maiden level and was 2nd in the Blue Grass. That win in the Blue Grass represents completion of the recovery line in his pace figures. Since that race is just 6 weeks ago, he’s still under influence of that lifetime best he scored a 99. I consider him in top form pace-wise. Notice, too, he’s coming to the upside of an up-down pace pattern. One of two horses that also should benefit from the pace shape; there’s a ton of early and middle speed here, setting up nicely for the deep closers.  Odds: 7-2.
TALE OF VERVE is that other deep closer, just breaking maiden at the 58k level, at this exact distance, and takes the biggest of possible class jumps. Sentimentally I like him because his daddy is one of my favorite horses ever, Tale Of Ekati, who has a fine first- and second-year crop thus far. Trainer Dallas Stewart has done a lot..getting him 2 works at Churchill, one very fast. This is the big pace horse, should he get just the right trip; he just might do so. Might is a big word though, as the class move is too ambitious. Also might be headed for a bounce, considering his spike from 85 to lifetime best 95 in winning last out. Odds: 9-1, and probably will be worse than that.
BODHISATTVA mainly raced at the minor Laurel Park, and is your horse for course of sorts, winning the Federico Tesio last out in his lone Pimlico appearance.  Only jockey/trainer combo with any presence during the meet, in Trevor McCarthy and Jose Corrales (20% and 23% respectively for win %). Still under influence of his first 3YO score to push past his 2YO lifetime best, since bettered by one notch last time out.  Decent form, tho dwarfed by others.  He might bounce, considering the paired up high numbers in pace.  Prior win taking on much more weight.  Odds: 38-1.

DIVINING ROD has received a lot of positive direction from trainer Amnaud Delacour. Forged a lifetime best of 95 in his first 3YO race, and scored a 96 last time out in winning the Grade 3 Lexington.  Improved on both turn time fractions last time out. Waiting the longest to get back on the track  while stretching out, an angle I really like.  Also 3 works at Fair Grounds, 1 very fast.  I like him best among those who begin the morning-line odds at a price.  Odds: 3-1.

FIRING LINE may take a fair amount of money considering his finish in the Kentucky Derby, but  the only thing notable is that he continues a pattern of high Brisnet numbers, ranging from 97 to 101.  Not much other evidence supporting any success. I predict he will finish a disappointing last. Odds: none worth printing.
Top 3:
7 Divining Rod
1 American Pharoah
2 Dortmund

I’d be willing to play Divining Rod to win and over any favorites.  Danzig Moon and Divining Rod are both  worthy a win bet and overlay pick.

Pacquiao vs Mayweather stat and biorhythms analysis

Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather, WBC, WBO and WBA Super World welterweight titles at stake.
Pacquiao (12-17-78) is 57-5-2, 38 wins and 3 losses by knockout. Won by decision in 12 the last 3 races, that following 2 losses. Last knockout win was v. Miguel Cotto (12th round) in 2009. He faces his 3rd straight boxer who comes in undefeated.
Mayweather (2-24-1977) is undefeated in 47 with 26 by KO. Pac-Man has been in 64 fights, the most experience coming into the ring that Mayweather has to face.
Kenny Bayless will be the 3rd man in the ring for this one….he was also front and center for 8 fights involving  Pacquaio, 90 rounds in 8 fights, resulting in 5 wins, 2 by KO, 3 losses, 1 by KO. For Mayweather: 5 fights, 44 rounds, 5 wins, 1 by KO
Judge Bert Clements was present for 4 Mayweather fights, 3 decision wins, 1 TKO win, total aggregate score 439-412, 40 rounds
Pacquiao: vs JMM, 113-113, draw in 12 rounds.
Judge Dave Moretti:
Mayweather: 100 rounds in 9 fights, 9 wins, 1 by KO. Total score 968-908.
68 rounds in 6 fights, aggregate 622-592
5 wins, 2 by KOs
Judge Glenn Feldman was part of 1 fight of Mayweather’s, TKO win in 3rd of 10 rounds vs Miguel Melo.
Pacquaio: No history
ESPN has a superb article about the boxer’s common opponents:


The chart tells the story. All signs pointing down and not even bottoming out just yet. He doesn’t stand to last too long


Mayweather is at his peak physically, so his punching power is going to be rather strong, even if he’s going to miss to some degree. The passion is rising as well and that can only help.
Prediction: A rare late round KO by Mayweather for the titles.
Biorhythm charts by the folks at

2015 Kentucky Derby analysis, selections

I sincerely hope that my work in the Enlightened Derby Trail has produced just the right horses.

The ones that reached my mythical Derby that did not make the actual field: Conquest Typhoon, Metaboss, Ami’s Flatter, Bridget’s Big Luvy, Why Two, A Day In Paradise, One Lucky Dane, Bodhisattva. So that means I agree on 12 of the 20 horses. I can live with that.
Here’s the 9 horses that were in the opposite position, those that are in the show but not for me: Ocho Ocho Ocho, Mubtaahij, Itsaknockout, Keen Ice, Mr. Z, Far Right, Frammento, War Story, Bolo

Here’s my analysis of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, horse-for-horse:

OCHO OCHO OCHO won the Delta Downs Jackpot, and won his first 2 races at Santa Anita from an inner post. In fact it’s his 5 race of 6 with an inner post. Gained in Brisnet from 83 to 96 last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes, so a possible bounce risk here.   Not in my top 10.

CARPE DIEM won the Blue Grass, Tampa Bay Derby and Breeders Futurity. Only horse in the field to make a small improvement over his 2YO numbers that still can impact today. He scored 100 in the Breeders Futurity, and then a 102 last time out in the Blue Grass. It was also ahead of his 96 score  in the Tampa Bay Derby…one of three horses to show great pace progress, tho also might show a slight downturn as well.  Projected odds: 15-1.
MATERIALITY is undefeated in 3 at age 3, all at Gulfstream Park, winning the Florida Derby last out with a 105 Brisnet, plus a 100 in the Islamorada.  One of several with outstanding wor tabs…3 works, each very fast, one at Churchill.  Proven to handle extra weight, as he won with 122 in the Florida Derby, gain of 5 from previous. Good current numbers, but is outclassed in this field.  Not in my top 10.
TENCENDUR placed in 3 Graded events to get here. All 5 lifetime races at Aqueduct. Exploded to a 105 Brisnet running 2nd in the Wood Memorial last time out, ahead of a 90 Brisnet in the Gotham. Switches back to Manuel Franco. Certainly a bounce risk here. Not in my top 10.
DANZIG MOON placed in 2 Graded events. Owns a basic recovery angle here. After a pair of 92s (sandwiched by a 14-week layoff), he bounced to 81 in the Tampa Bay Derby then pushed forward to a 99 in the Blue Grass. Bounce risk but minimized by his good pace progress. Projected odds: 15-1. Overlay.
MUBTAAHIJ is the big wildcard, as I have no pace numbers to reference. I have seen him win twice with a middle post, and put up final times that would probably be worth 80 to 90 Brisnet.  Won the UAE Derby to qualify.  Top average winning distance numbers of the field (sire Dubawi, damsire Pennekamp, both of who were multiple stakes winners across Europe). Comes out of a good trip. Projected odds: 42-1.
EL KABEIR switches back to Calvin Borel for this race. Placed in all but 1 race of his 9 lifetime. Won the Kentucky Jockey Club here in the autumn. Several wins from a middle post. Gained in Brisnet from a 95 to  101 in the Wood Memorial last time out, matching his lifetime best. Not in my top 10, tho I’d have ranked him higher if there were an off track situation. He won the Gotham under such conditions.
DORTMUND is undefeated in 6,winning the Santa Anita Derby last time out with a dazzling 106 and totally on the front end. A great effort for this sprinter, tho I take him down a notch for some trouble at the start of that race. 2 wins from a middle post.Best Churchill performance of the field,a 98 winner in an optional-claimer race on 11/29. Inherent numbers in spades. Steady increase in high Brisnet numbers. Projected odds: 10-1. Rank: 6th.
BOLO placed in two Graded events to get here. Only reason to give attention to him is the fact he’s posted a triple of good Brisnet numbers ahead of previous, 98, 100, 102. He could go either way with this. Not enough supporting evidence for a further increase, therefore not in my top 10.  Finished better on turf and seems quicker against Graded rivals on dirt but I doubt this trend will translate in this unique event.
FIRING LINE briefly was my top choice and remains an elite. 1st or 2nd in all 5 races, including a win in the Sunland Derby.  Forged 4 consecutive lifetime bests, up to a 101 last out. Has the most positive trainer changes (Simon Callaghan) of the field. Stretching out from 9 furlongs and hasn’t run since 3/22. Took on 4 extra pounds, 122 in all to win the Sunland, which was also his lone shipper win. One of a few entering this big race with a good, generally trouble-free trip.  Projected odds: 10-1. Rank: 4th. Will include in wagers.
INTERNATIONAL STAR won his last 3, all Graded events (Louisiana Derby, Risen Star, LeComte) all at Fair Grounds, plus the Grey Stakes in Woodbine.  Forged small lifetime bests in his last 4 and each of his 3YO starts, peaking at 99 last time out with a good trip in the Louisiana Derby. His last 3 scores, all in the 90s, are just ahead  of his prior races. I have him ranked evenly with Firing Line, but rank him lower because he has less changes entering.   Projected odds: 10-1. Overlay. Rank: 5th.
ITSAKNOCKOUT placed in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. Won 3 of 4 lifetime, all at Gulfstream.  Great work tab here, with 3 works, 2 fast ones, one at Churchill, one a bullet work. 2 wins from a middle post.  Seems ready to win today.  Projected odds: 8-1. Overlay. Rank: 3rd. Will include in wagers.
KEEN ICE scored in 3 Graded events to earn his ticket. All 3 works at Churchill, 2 of them very fast. No real evidence to support a win here.  Not in my top 10.
FROSTED won the Wood Memorial and placed in 3 other Graded events before that. Good recovery angle in play. Following layoff and matching his lifetime best of 98 in the Holy Bull, he bounced to an 89 in the Fountain of Youth, then exploded to 107 last time out.  Another who could go either way with pace.  Both lifetime wins from a middle post.Projected odds: 11-1. Possible overlay.
WAR STORY placed in all 5 lifetime races. Only horse with a blinker change reported (blinkers off for the first time). Despite the small gains in Brisnet scores and placings in Graded events at Fair Grounds, no other evidence to support a win.  Not in my top 10.
MR. Z has run in Graded company for a number of races, and has burned a lot of money in the process.  Needed his 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby to belong.  I was an early believer in him and I’m glad he’s in.  Top dosage profile befitting a winner at Churchill in this field (Malibu Moon/Stormy Bear by Storm Cat). One stat pops out to me: 5 races in the last 60 days for both Ramon Vazquez and  D Wayne Lukas, earning 2 wins and 4 placings, for a 6.04 ROI.  Sharp gain in Brisnet last time out, 76 to 92.  Projected odds: 5-1. Big overlay.  Rank: 2nd.
AMERICAN PHAROAH is the projected favorite, having 4 wins in 5 races including the Arkansas Derby, the Rebel, the Front Runner and the Del Mar Futurity.  Thing is, he’s yet to do any better than his 103 in the Del Mar just after Labor Day. Adds 4 lbs from his prior race; he won the Front Runner adding 6, so carrying 126 shouldn’t be an issue. I did like his trip in the Arkansas Derby but I just can’t find a place for him in the top 10.
UPSTART won the Fountain Of Youth, Holy Bull, and ungraded Funny Cide.  This stalker has the top pace numbers in the field. Last 3 2nd-call numbers are 114, 106, 98. 2 wins from an outer post. Gained in pace from a 95 to a 103 last time out, plus showed a good trip in the Florida Derby last time out. Adds 4 lbs here; added 6 in winning the FOY also.    This is my pick to win the Run for the Roses.  Projected odds: 4-1. Big overlay.
FAR RIGHT won the Southwest, adding 5 lbs for that race, and adds 4 more here. Also won the ungraded Smarty Jones. No evidence to support a win here today.  Out of the top 10.
FRAMMENTO gets in with the defection of Stanford (whom I did like a lot early on). Placed in the Blue Grass and FOY. Also has no evidence to support a win. Out of the Top 10.
My top 4 that I will use in wins and exactas to each other, with a few exceptions:
1 Upstart
2 Mr. Z
3 Firing Line

4 Itsaknockout

Future wager impact:

To win:
Mr. Z 44-1
Dortmund 10-1
Upstart 18-1
I have exactas between Upstart over and under field from Pool 4: Tencendur, Danzig Moon, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Frammento.
Should any of my horses from here do worse in odds on Saturday, I’ll put up an extra win bet.  I will not wager extra if the odds are better.  As you know, I can afford to just keep things simple: $2 win bets, and $1 exactas.
In essence I have 9 horses to root for, 5 of them specifically in the win position.
Overlays based on most recent live odds (at the time of International Star’s scratch, Saturday morning): Mr. Z, Upstart, Itsaknockout, Firing Line. Yes, that’s 3 of my top 4.

I might place the top 2 post-time favorites over my top 4 as well.
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