First look: Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park Oaks

Some initial insights re the Florida Derby here, one of 4 Enlightened Trails races for Saturday. Using the Equibase past performances involving all nominated colts, here’s what I’m seeing:
Mohaymen’s got the easy numbers. 105, then 106 then 115 in his last 3. The 115 from the Fountain of Youth is best at GP in this field. His 105 in the  Remsen is best for the distance.  Should there be an off track, consider JR’s Holiday, with 3 wins in 4 races under such conditions.
Takeittotheedge won his maiden debut here on 3/5 with a 1.23.58 time for 7 furlongs, an amazing 108 Equibase score, and easily the best pace number coming in.
Top trainers are Jeffrey Radosevich for Weavers Ice Cold, and Christophe Clement for Governor Malibu.  Governor Malibu has a shipping win plus prior win while increasing in class.  Weavers Ice Cold doesn’t have the shipping win but he’s waited longest to stretch out, since October 10.
As for the Gulfstream Park Oaks there are 17 fillies nominated.  Rachel’s Valentina has the best Equibase score here for the 8.5 furlong distance, a 103, scored in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies. Cathryn Sophia owns a 104 at Gulfstream, best of this field on this track; she earned that score in the Forward Gal on 1/30
Carina Mia’s 101 last out in the Golden Rod is best of this field on a sloppy track. I’ve measured her 3 last races as fastest of this field. Further, she’s got the best work tab going.
Missalaney’s current pace form suggests strong races to come. 3rd race after layoff she closely surpassed her score from the first race after.
It will be another busy week: 4 ET races on Saturday, plus the final Future Wager of the season. Podcast and blog update coming Friday.

Enlightened Trails point standings through 3/27/16

I suppose it was just one of those Saturdays. Nothing much at all broke right in terms of my handicapping.  I finished near last in the monthly The Racing Biz contest, as one horse managed a win/place finish across 10 races total between Laurel and Gulfstream.  My picks in The Enlightened Trails races were no real surprise. Gun Runner of course is the one I continue to champion, as I have since November. You won’t see him run until May.
I have whined publicly before about the lack of proper information with the companies providing past performances.  Between DRF, Equibase and Brisnet, there is no one reliable service that gives speed ratings and run-types for horses for international racing. I strongly suggest that there should be such standards, one for each continent outside the US.   Otherwise it becomes a guessing game, especially if one can’t access trips of those foreign races.    What I did to remedy this matter was rather painstaking: calculate the overall furlong speed of the horse of the available races in PPs.  I subtracted 1 second for every length behind the winner.
This way I was able to figure out relative pace and determine who had their best runs and who was in or out of form.    It took hours of time to construct this for 2 races, the Sheema Classic and the World Cup, 30 seconds for each race in each line for each horse.   The $ I wagered on was wasted, as I had gone completely against California Chrome. I did guess correct on Japan’s Duramente in the Dubai Sheema Classic but Postponed wasn’t on my shortlist. My other picks finished in the latter half of the field.   In the World Cup, my stats proved somewhat right,as all 4 of my horses finished at least in the upper half of the field..I had figured 4 horses total including overlays. But Chrome was nowhere in my research.  I truly hope there will be proper standards that will save time and make for better handicapping among US handicappers like myself that have to adjust for unknown variables.
I tire of the win/place format in handicapping contests. I enjoyed the Multicapper experience in which you had to get your contenders in the top 3 and preferably in order.   Still, I would truly want to see other wagers like the common exacta find its way into a contest.   Or how about the Omni? Pick 2 horses to finish in 2 of the top 3 spots in any order. It’s available at certain international spots. I swung and missed with it at Dubai, but I like the novelty of it, so long as the payoff is worth the play. I wouldn’t want to take chalk or even simple minor value (basically, anything better than 6-1) with 2 horses in this wager.
I’ve adjusted the Enlightened Trails spreadsheet to reflect the latest point standings.
Here is that spreadsheet. 
The horses listed in italics would be in the Derby and Oaks fields if the race were to run today. The big impact comes from the South divisions, as the top 2 from both the Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby would be in my mythical fields. As it turns out to be, just 6 of my top horses are in the top 20 of the actual Derby Trail! I welcome the difference to highlight how special my Trails series is. Those 6 horses are Gun Runner, Tom’s Ready, Destin, Nyquist, Sunny Ridge and  Outwork.  Frank Conversation has 1000 points for me and yet is 32nd in the actual Trail, 10 points out.
Derby points are currently estimated to be worth about $15k per.
Next up will be a first look at horses in the Enlightened Trails races for this Saturday, 2 races each at Gulfstream and Turfway Park.

Enlightened Trails update (selections for Fair Grounds Oaks, LA Derby)

The Enlightened Trails return after a sudden one-week hiatus, and appear in Lousiana for the Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby. Both races take place in the South divisions where several more races take place before my mythical Derby and Oaks fields take final shape.
We’ll look at the Fair Grounds Oaks first, a Grade 2 event for top 3YO fillies, going 8.5 furlongs.  Top 3:
Northwest Tale has 3 races here, 1 win and 1 3rd. Won a 50k optional claimer last out with a sharp 93 Brisnet, way ahead of her prior efforts.  That 93 score is best FG performance of the field. Horses on the rail at the distance have won 24% of the time; twinned with 29% wins by early/pressers, makes her the top benefactor of track bias.  4 works since her last race, last 2 very fast.
Street Fancy won the Starlet Stakes 2 races back, was 3rd in the Desi Arnaz prior to that. Won the Starlet first off layoff. Took a big step back in the Las Virgiennes last time out, bouncing to 60 from lifetime best 94. I’m willing to play the bounceback, as she’s waiting longest to stretch out. Prior stretchout and shipping win as well.
Adore won a 62k optional claimer last time, prior to that her maiden-breaker at the 68k level, both were routes.  Top AWD numbers of the field (Big Brown/Cozhesaidso, out of Empire Maker). Small new top in pace form last time out with an 88. Lone early closer of the field.
Suggested odds: Adore 6-1; Dream Dance 44-1; Street Fancy 7-2; Land Over Sea 10-1; Northwest Tale 2-1; Stageplay 10-1; Midnight Of Oconee and Venus Valentine 22-1.   Overlay: Street Fancy,  Northwest Tale.
EOT points in this field: Land Over Sea 50 (Cali); Midnight On Oconee 10 (minor); Venus Valentine 10 (minor); Stageplay 100 (Heartland); Dream Dance 50 (Heartland);
The Louisiana Derby is for top 3YOs, 9 furlongs in length, Grade 2 event, $1 million at stake.
Mo Tom is the worthy favorite here. Winner of the LeComte and the Street Sense, 3rd in the Risen Star and the KY Jockey Club. Alternating wins and 3rd through 6 lifetime races.  Small new top set with 95 Brisnet last out toughing out some trouble late in the Risen Star, ahead of a pair of 94s.  Easily the true speed of the field tho will certainly require a solid early pace and subsequent collapse of same. 4th race since reclaim by Thomas Amoss.  Progressive growth in pace from first race to present.
Gun Runner likewise a logical 2nd favorite. 3 wins of 4, including the Risen Star last time out.   That race, a 97 Brisnet score for him, is best performance here of this field, along with proof positive of pace form.  Also progressive pace in each of his races. 4 works here, 2 fast ones, one a bullet.  Increased 2nd call speed in the Risen Star first after layoff.
Battery is my price play. 4th in his maiden debut, winning next at the 50k level, 2nd in a 75k optional claimer, winner of similar level after with strong 95 Brisnet at 9 furlongs. 95 is best for the distance of the field.
Suggested odds: Mo Tom 1-1, Conquest Windycity 29-1, Battery 22-1, Gun Runner 3-1, Greenpointcrusader 6-1.   Overlays: None.  Predicting a chalk finish.
EDT points extant in this field: Gun Runner 25, Mo Tom 50, Greenpointcrusader 250
Next post will reveal my picks for The Racing Biz’s monthly handicapping contest.

Analysis/selections for Dubai World Cup, Sheema Classic

Going sans podcast this week as the work with handicapping a track I check out once a year has proven most time-worthy. That track is Meydan, in Dubai.  Only the most lucrative series of races in the world outside the US.  I have had to do various calculations of pace and pace form to get a window into how runners in 2 races might fare.  Brisnet provides a glaring lack of consistency in pace details; Equibase does as good a job as any but it’s still a challenge to put it all together.
With that I’ll give you picks for the big Dubai World Cup and its immediate prior race, the Dubai Sheema Classic.   We’ll start with the Classic, a 12 furlong race on the Meydan turf for 4YOs+, all parts of the world represented in this $6 million race.
My top 3 are these:
Duramente, 2nd in the morning-line, lifetime 7-5-2-0,  Japan born bred and raised, with 3 Graded wins, all turf routes in his home country.  Best speed (and overall ) for the 12 furlongs of this field, judging from his 1.75 length win in a G1 race 2 races and 10 months back.  Prior win while stretching out in distance, also a shipping win.
Gailo Chop my price play here.  Winner in Europe and Australia, this French-trained horse has growing pace form. Best effort of late was a 4-length win in the La Coupe de Maisons Laffitte (G3) last September in France, improving with a small new top in pace last out in the Longines Mackinnon Stakes 3/3/16.  Only other horse with a stretch-out and shipping win.
The Blue Eye, racing in Qatar, from GB, has 8 wins in 14 races. Best turf and off-track speed of the field; best effort is a 2nd place finish in the Thoroughbred Guineas in November.
Suggested odds: Duramente 1-1; Gailo Chop 7-2; Dariyan 15-1; The Blue Eye 9-1.  Overlay: Gailo Chop

Dubai World Cup carries a $10 million purse for horses 4YOs +, 10 furlongs.  My top 3:
Hoppertunity has wins in the San Pasquale and the San Antonio, 16 of 18 lifetime in the money. Matched lifetime best Equibase score of 114 in the San Antonio last time out, nosing out Imperative, on 2/6/16.  The Bob Baffert trainee has best speed figures for the distance (114, Gold Cup at Santa Anita). 4 published works, 3 of them very fast.  Prior stretch out and shipping wins, also won with prior similar gain in weight (San Pasqual win was a gain of 5 lbs; adds 7 lbs here)
Mshawish enters with wins in the Donn Handicap, the Hal Hope, the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, The Fort Lauderdale, and the El Prado.  Fastest Meydan speed figure of the field, scoring a 3rd in last year’s DP World Dubai Turf. Prior wins off layoff. Measured as having fastest pace of the field (last 3 Equibase scores 120, 119, 100)
Keen Ice won last year’s Travers Stakes, only 3rd win in 15 starts.  Exploded and forged pace form from his 6th place finish in February’s Donn Handicap, bouncing back a bit in the Al Maktoum Challenge here on 3/5.  I’m expecting a bounce back here.
Suggested odds: Hoppertunity 3-1; Mshawish 4-1; Special Fighter 9-1; Keen Ice 9-1. All 4 I register as overlays.

Enlightened Derby/Oaks Trails update; first look at Fair Grounds Oaks

The fun part of the Enlightened Trails is just about here. 7 races remain in either Trail, with the highest number of points being awarded for the top 4, and the very best tracks and their most important races on the real Trail.  This week the South division in both Trails is in focus.
Here are the horses who have scored thus far within, EDT points first:
Exaggerator 250 (275 total)
Sunny Ridge 100 (300 total)
Harlan Punch 50
Found Money 25
Destin 1000
Outwork 500
Star Hill 250
Rafting 125 (225 total)
And the EOT horses:
Jet Black Magic 250
La Apassionatta 100
Above Fashion 50
Learning Curve 25
Baciami Piccola 1000
Enjoy Yourself 500
Family Meeting 250
Princess Princess 125
There are still 2 more races in their respective divisions, the Gulfstream Park Oaks and Fantasy Stakes for the fillies, and the Florida Derby and the Arkansas Derby for the colts.

The announcement of the Fair Grounds Oaks field, next up for my EOT, came on Sunday.  Just 8 got through the process, 4 of whom have prior points: Midnight On Oconee with 10 points, 4th in the Trapeze; Venus Valentine, 10 points, 4th in the Arlington Washington Lassie; Stageplay, 100 points, 2nd in the Golden Rod; Dream Dance, 50 points, 3rd in the latter race.

Looking at the Equibase past performances I can draw a few conclusions.
Northwest Tale & Stageplay have each posted 94 Bris speed figures here at Fair Grounds, best of the field of 8.
Carina Mia’s 101 last out in the Golden Rod is the best off-track speed of the field
Northwest Tale’s 94 is a small new top compared to his 2015 best of 89. Land Over Sea peaked last time out in the San Ysabel with a 99, ahead of a 95 in the Chandler last September.
All but 2 horses coming in have a prior win off layoff or otherwise won their maiden debut: Dream Dance and Land Over Sea.
Speaking of Land Over Sea, he’s had Brisnet runs in the 90s for his last 4 races, peaking last time out at 99 in the San Ysabel.
As for Dubai, the final fields have been released. No past performances just yet.  I still feel a bit vague and insecure about wagering $ here despite prior success and hardly any variables to work on.  But I will perservere and I will certainly wager on the World Cup and maybe one other race.    Having picked up some extra handicapping skills between’s last year’s race and this, I hope to score a repeat victory.

Podcast coming Friday with my take on the Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby, and 2 of the Dubai races, plus a recap of my NCAA success in picking winners.

Analysis of stakes action at Oaklawn Park 3/19/16

3 great races at Oaklawn today, none of which impact my Enlightened Trails but 1 at least, the Rebel, does prove significant toward the real Derby trail. The Razorback, on paper, seems to be the most exciting of the three. Here’s how I see them:

We’ll start with the Azeri, which is for fillies/mares 4YO+. This Grade 2 event is worth $350k and is 8.5 furlongs.   Here’s my top 3, publishing before odds have been announced:
Theogony had mainly raced in Canada and now races in both the Heartland and Southern tracks.  Won a 100k stakes race last summer, largely disappointing since then.  Owns prior win first off layoff. 4 works at OP, all 4 very fast, best works of this field. I am impressed by her turn time of 23.8, best of these.
Call Pat won the Bayakoa (G3) here last out a month ago. Has consistently placed in most races over the last year, last several also Graded.   Adjusted for run style, this deep closer may well prove to be the hidden speed of the field.  Nice pattern of Brisnet speed figures in the 90s for the last 3 races.
High Dollar Woman won the Indiana Oaks last summer (G2). diminishing  returns in last 2. Lone pure speed of the field.  Goes back from sprint to route. Suggested odds:  Call Pat 4-1; Sarah Sis 6-1; Streamline 5-2; Theogony 2-1; Meshell 24-1  Overlays: Theogony

Next is the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap for 4YOs +, Grade 3 event, 8.5 furlongs.

Carve won here last year in the 100k 5th Season, with mixed blessings in 6 races since.  Top AWD numbers in the field (First Samurai/Apt, by AP Indy); 103 Brisnet achieved in the 5th Season is best for distance and track of this field.   Moved up from 85 to 92 last out after layoff and claim. 4 works in prep, 3 very fast, 1 bullet.  1.6 second gain in turn time from last race, leads this field.
Incremental is best of the three-horse Umarov entry here. Last won in a claiming race at Prairie Meadows, decent placings at Churchill and OP since then.  Recovered in pace with 91 Brisnet, surpassing 90 on 1/16 first after layoff. 91 is small new top since 90 in November.
Smack Smack won the Zia Championship and the Veterans in November at Zia Park, plus the Governor’s Cup at Remington. 8 wins, 15 placings in 20 starts. 4 works at OP, all 4 very fast at 4f-5f.  Ran a bit wide through much of his last effort in a 75k optional claimer tho posted a nice 96 running 2nd best.
Suggested odds: Carve 9-2; Smack Smack 8-1; Upstart 14-1; Incremental 9-1; Domain’s Rap 9-1; Shotgun Kowboy 7-1; Far Right 7-1; Idolo Porteno 11-1; Looks To Spare 11-1.
Overlay: Idolo Porteno. Makes his US debut after 10 races in Argentina, winner of several Grade 1 events, adds Lasix again and takes a significant weight drop.

Now to the Grade 1 Rebel Stakes for top 3YOs, going 8.5 furlongs, for a 900k purse and some actual Derby points.   Top 3 are these:
Cherry Wine had graduated from maiden 2 races in November, then duplicated her strong win with another in a 75k optional claimer on 1/9 in Gulfstream. Posted lifetime best of 85, 89, 90 last 3.  Excellent turn time of 23.4, .8 seconds gain from last race.

Gray Sky is 7-1-2-2 lifetime, 5th in the Smarty Jones, then 2nd in a 70k allowance race last time out. 4 works since last race, 2 very fast, 1 a bullet.
I like Creator, narrowly over Cupid, for 3rd.  Maiden win last out came in her 6th attempt, and after 4 2nds and 1 5th.  Deep closer whose stretch kick makes him fastest of this field. Set small new top of 93 last time out itself a sharp increase from prior race of 78.
Suggested odds: Creator 6-1; Suddenbreakingnews 8-1; Cherry Wine 5-2; Gray Sky 5-1.  Overlays: Cherry Wine, Gray Sky.
I’ve not been successful with handicapping steeplechase races, but I’m willing to take a swing at the big race on Friday, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There just aren’t enough stats I can wrap my brain around.  So I keep things simple and focus on similar stats that have worked for me with thoroughbreds.
Using info from which stays on top of betting lines and racecards, my top 3 are these:
Don Cossack is a narrow and deserving favorite; likes good/soft going, has prior shipping win and also win from gaining in class. The Cooper/Elliott combo has a good competitive % of wins. You can’t argue with a 26-15-4-2 record!
Smad Place has a 25 furlong win, one of 4 horses here to do so. Switches back to Hutchinson, with whom he’s won prior. Slight gain in weight, a move which he’s won with before.  King and Hutchinson also have competitive numbers together.

Essentially I’m leaning on jockey/trainer combos above most other stats, and for that I also like Djakadam, the early 2nd choice in the morning-line.  This horse stretches out a bit, and has a prior win doing so, also has a 25-furlong win.  Best jockey/trainer win combo in Walsh and Mullins.


Idealistic Stats podcast #34

34th edition of the weekly Idealistic Stats podcast is now available.
Download/stream/share at the Internet Archive:
Main website:
Listen to exclusive soundbites of my analysis at Clammr:
No Clammrs exist yet for this show, tho I will be creating them late Thursday.
This week’s podcast includes the following:
NCAA bracket selections
Analysis & picks for the Azeri & Rebel Stakes, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Music used in this program:
Annie Wenz “Play Ball” – Ride The Sky CD
DJ Flowerdove “Shimmer”
Thanks for listening!
Dan Herman
twitter: @idealisticstats