Latest Derby thoughts, 2000 Guineas picks.

Going without podcast the last few weeks, my focus sports-wise remains on the Kentucky Derby, taking place May 7, and the Oaks on May 6.   I did my standard series of variables to figure out which horses might measure up. I sourced the Brisnet past performances including the top 26 horses by points per the actual Trail.   In the previous post I did outline my top choices. With the announcement of a reduction in speed figure by Gun Runner (100, down from 104) I must evaluate him differently.
One main factor I look at is the horse’s last speed figure in comparison to track ‘par’. If the horse makes a big jump in speed figure and exceeds the track par, I consider that a big negative, biggest on my list, in fact.  Gun Runner’s score of 104 was a jump from his prior race of 97 in the Risen Star, enough of a jump to consider a bounce in the Derby. Plus it was a spike up and over the track par for the 10 furlong distance of 102.   With the reduction to 100, the progression is below the par, and represents a healthier new top.  I am now ranking Gun Runner as my #2 choice in the top 26, with Destin my top pick, Gun Runner 2nd, Mo Tom 3rd, Danzing Candy 4th, Mor Spirit 5th. These remain my top choices with a wet track as well.
Coming up this morning I have a look at 10 races for the monthly The Racing Biz contest, and a look at the 2000 Guineas at the sport’s birthplace of Newmarket UK. This is my first time handicapping this first jewel of the UK Triple Crown.

I have just 2 horses figured out in this race as any sort of contenders. Many are looking to the rail post horse, Air Force Blue, as the top choice, and for good reason. Winner of the Dewhurst Stakes on this track with a 118 Equibase score in October, this was down from a 122 in the Vincent O Brien National at the Curragh a month prior. Both races were 7 furlongs on turf. Pace numbers dwarf the rest of the field.   The only other horse I’ve considered seriously is First Selection.  In pace bounceback mode after placing 5th last October in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in France with a 104, then dropping to 70 in a listed stakes in Dubai in March.   The main reason for my liking him is how trainer Simon Crisford is responding with the changes.  Owns prior wins from class rise and stretchout in distance, has also won a race with similar gain in weight, and has a shipping win. Plus he switches back to Crowley, with him he won a handicap race here at Newmarket.    No other horses are serious contenders.

First Kentucky Derby 2016 analysis

Today I began examining the updated past performances via Brisnet to see how this year’s Derby might turn out with all potential eligible horses, 27 in all.    I did my usual array of variables instead of the handful I stuck to for the future wager pools.   I was rather surprised at the results.  Here are those that ranked at all, not considering jockeys/trainers or odds:
1st: Destin. Only horse to win first off layoff or otherwise first lifetime win in such scenario, he is waiting a full 8 weeks to stretch out (Tampa Bay Derby). Best turn time and turn time gain of the field of 27
2nd: Mo Tom shares the best Churchill speed figure of the field, a 94, achieved in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Only horse to be reclaimed by original trainer (Thomas Amoss, after victory in the Street Sense).
3rd: Danzing Candy has the best pace form, running a 101 best for 2YO year, spiking to 104 2 races and 8 weeks back in winning the San Felipe. One of a few horses with the ability to explode in pace and bounce back as well. Fastest pace numbers in field as measured by run style (last 3 2nd call numbers: 119, 107, 103). Lifetime pattern of numbers suggest his overall pace should have a nice uptick to 103.
4th: Mor Spirit ran 2nd in the KY Jockey Club and also gets the 94 speed figure for Churchill.
After this, there are 2 scenarios:
Should there be a wet track I put Exaggerator 5th. Best wet track run of the field, a 103 last out in the Santa Anita Derby. Fastest pace numbers overall.
On a standard dry track I’ll take Exaggerator out and use Oscar Nominated instead. This late entrant to the Derby has the best AWD numbers of the field (Kitten’s Joy/Devine Actress, by Theatrical).
After this I have 2 horses rather even with each other, both who’ve had to overcome challenging trips last out: Suddenbreakingnews (Ark Derby) and Tom’s Ready (Louisiana Derby)
Every few days I’ll examine the list and report on any repositioning.

Final Enlightened Trails results 2015-2016

In the 2015-6 ENLIGHTENED DERBY-OAKS TRAILS spreadsheet, within the division tab, all horses with the bold type are those who have won a spot in my mythical Derby and Oaks fields.  I’ve also highlighted them in the master chart page.
Creator won the final race of the trail with a strong late move, last to first, in the Arkansas Derby. Creator’s 1000 points puts him in the show.
Comparing the actual Derby point standings with mine, it’s obvious that I am in disagreement with about half of the field. That’s about what I was going for, to provide a contrarian argument in points and dollars with my system.

Enlightened Derby Trail update/Arkansas Derby analysis

With the announcement of the entries for the Arkansas Derby, the Trials are
all over but the shouting.   Within the South division, there are 3 horses
with 1000.  Of the 12, just one horse has any points at all, enough
Therefore, the outright winner of this race will be the 4th and final solid
entrant in the division and no existing conflicts between horses with points
from other divisions.
So the Trails are complete.  The spreadsheet is updated to reflect the 19
Yes there is the one final race in the actual Trail, but I’m confident that
the 19 already labeled are my official ones.
Nightly News: 500 points. Winner of the Turf Paradise Derby
Abiding Star: 500 points. Winner of the Private Terms.
Two Step Time: 500 points, 625 total. Winner of the Texas Heritage Stakes.
4th in the Spiral Stakes (Heartland).
Gunfire: 250 points. 2nd in the Turf Paradise Derby
Flash McCaul: 250 points. 2nd in the Private Terms.
Berniestrike 250 points: 2nd in the Texas Heritage Stakes.
Gunfire and Flash McCaul rank ahead of the 3 because they finished 2nd in
higher purses than Berniestrike did. All 3 ran at the same distance.  But I
have room for just one, and none of the 3 have points from any other
division. Not sure how to resolve this yet.
Outwork: 1000 points, 1500 total. Winner of the Wood Memorial; 2nd in the
Tampa Bay Derby.
Adventist: 500 points. 2nd in the Wood Memorial
Trojan Nation: 250 points. 3rd in the Wood Memorial.
Greenpoint Crusader: 250 points: Winner of the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, 1
mile, 500k purse.   He wins tiebreak over Ralis and Conquest Daddyo. Ralis
won the Grade 1 Hopeful (7 furlongs, 350k) at Saratoga, while Conquest
Daddyo won the Grade 2 Sumner (1 mile, 200k).
Brody’s Cause 1050 points.Winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, 3rd in the BC
Oscar Nominated 1000 points. Winner of the Spiral Stakes.
Azar 500 points.2nd in the Spiral Stakes.
My Man Sam 500 points. 2nd in the Blue Grass.
Frank Conversation, 1000 points. Winner of the El Camino Real
Exaggerator, 1000 points, 1275 overall. Winner of the Santa Anita Derby and
Delta Downs Jackpot; 4th in the BC Juvenile.
Tusk, 500 points. 2nd in the El Camino Real.
Mor Spirit, 500 points, 600 overall. 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby and the KY
Jockey Club.
SOUTH: Barring unusual circumstances, the Arkansas Derby winner will join
Destin: 1000 points.  Winner of the Tampa Bay Derby.
Gun Runner: 1000 points, 1025 points total. Winner of the Louisiana
Derby.4th in the KY Jockey Club.
Nyquist: 1000 points, 1500 points. Winner of the BC Juvenile, Del Mar
Futurity and Florida Derby.
I am in agreement with just 10 of the current top 20.
Here’s how I see the Arkansas Derby, a Grade 1 race for top 3YOs, running 9
furlongs at Oaklawn on Saturday.  A number of good horses here, some that
I’ve considered in Future Wagers, some with actual Derby points, each
needing to win out to make it to the big race. Here’s my top 3:
Gettysburg exited the Sunland Stakes last time with a 100 Brisnet score in a
wide trip, best for the 9 furlongs of this field. Owns the best overall pace
numbers, and is the lone early speed.
Creator, another I like in prior future wagers, took 6 tries to break
maiden, then finishes 3rd in the Rebel last time out. Best AWD numbers
(Tapit, Morena, by Privately Held,      One of two horses who has strong
pace form. Set small lifetime top of 93 2 races back here on 2/27, then a 95
in the Rebel.  3 works at Oaklawn, his lone 5 furlong work was fast.
American Pioneer graduated in his 2nd start, and 1 race off layoff, both
races here at OP and at routes. Only horse in the field to win while moving
up in class.
Suggested odds: Creator 4-1; Gettysburg 8-5; Cupid 14-1; Whitmore 9-1; Gray
Sky 9-1; American Pioneer 5-1.  Overlays: Creator, Gettysburg, Gray Sky.
Case against Cupid, lone favorite: is outranked by all horses in my
variables tho does have best track speed of the field. Playing for a sure
upset tho I can’t totally throw out Cupid in exactas.   Gettysburg and
Creator I am rooting with my heart for as they are 2 future wager straight
win selections.

Enlightened Oaks Trails final results

At last the results of the Enlightened Oaks Trail can be revealed.
Here’s the spreadsheet that spells it all out.

Here are the rules for how the mythical field gets determined:
Top 2 horses from the Minor divisions by points from races within that division only. Top 3 for the other divisions.
When there are ties within the division, I separate horses primarily by Graded stakes event (1 best, 3 lowest). If there is a tie, I next factor in the distance of the race, then overall purse.
The trail results are quite cut-and-dried, real simple to figure out.  Here is that field:
from the minors:

PROTECTIVE SHIELD: 500 points; Arizona Oaks winner
SOPHIA’S SONG: 500 points; Caesar’s Wish winner
East Coast:
LEWIS BAY: 1000 points. Gazelle winner
ROYAL OBSESSION: 500. 2nd in the Gazelle
NICKNAME: 250, total 275. Frizette winner, also 2nd in the BC Juvenile Fillies. Won tiebreak over Mo d’Amour, Catch A Glimpse, and Rachel’s Valenina (qualified elsewhere) racing at Grade 1 and 8 furlongs.
WONDERMENT: Bourbonette Oaks winner, 1000 points.
WEEP NO MORE: Ashland winner, 1000 points.
RACHEL’S VALENTINA: 600 points, 850 total. 2nd in the Ashland, 2nd in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, also winner of the Spinaway

SONGBIRD: 1250 points: Won the BC Juvenile Fillies, Del Mar Debutante and Santa Anita Oaks.
MOKAT: 500 points. 2nd in the Santa Anita Oaks.
SHE’S A WARRIOR: 250 points. 3rd in the Santa Anita Oaks


LAND OVER SEA 1000 points, 1050 total. Won the Fair Grounds Oaks, was 3rd in the Del Mar Debutante.
GO MAGGIE GO, 1000 points. Won the Gulfstream Oaks.
TERRA PROMESSA, 1000 points. Won the Fantasy Stakes.
Losing out in the tiebreak at 1000 points is Baciami Piccola, who won the Florida Oaks. This race ranked 4th and last between the 4 races that took place in the 3YO portion of the divisional races. The race was Grade 3, 200k.  Fair Grounds Oaks was Grade 2 (first tiebreaker) as was the Gulfstream Oaks.  Fantasy Stakes at Grade 3 ranked higher than the Florida Oaks in the 3rd tiebreak, purse 400k to the FL Oaks 200k.

As of this moment, my 14 horses match just 8 of the top 14 in actual Oaks points.  Looking forward to seeing who gets nominated and entered in the Beaumont.

Next post will summarize my Future Wager selections and hopefully something to look forward to in the Arkansas Derby

Grand National 2016 selections

Briefly here are my top 4:

First Lieutenant, 11YO from Ireland has a 25-length furlong win, a win at Aintree 3 years ago, has a good jockey/trainer win % combo in Cooper and Morris. Owns prior wins with similar weight drop and increase in distance, and switches back to Cooper, who has a win with this horse.
I equally like Shutthefrontdoor, 9YO from Ireland, owns a 29 furlong win, also competitive jockey/trainer combo in Geraghty and O’Neill. Won here at Aintree as well, plus has prior wins with similar weight/distance move.
A notch below I like 2 others:
Boston Bob also has won at Aintree and makes a positive jockey switch to Townend>
And I can’t throw out the defending champ Many Clouds, who will try to pull a consecutive win in this, the sport’s most historic race.


Stakes action/Enlightened Trails update for today.

The penultimate week for my Enlightened Trails has come upon us. This week, 3 of 4 divisions on the Oaks and Derby portions will be resolved, with just the Arkansas Derby left to contend with on 4/16.  It’s the biggest day for the Trails, which will largely set up my mythical Derby and Oaks fields.  With little time to get this post in, I’m just posting the top 3 selections, and analysis of my chosen pick, and any overlays based on morning-line.
Points are 1000-500-250-125 for each race.  More about these Trails in a separate page on my website, which includes the updated spreadsheet.
This post will be edited upon scratches/changes.
ASHLAND STAKES: Weep No More, Banree, Carina Mia, as I attempt to get 2 longshots ahead of the highly favored in this 5-horse field.  Weep No More is the one filly with improving pace form coming in….68 in her debut in November, then 77 spike in January, then 89 last out in the Suncoast at Tampa Bay in February.  Only late closer in the field. Lots of speed in this field, a situation which can help her chances. Possible bounce in this race, tho also owns a shipping win. Best turn time of the field.
Overlays: Weep No More (my odds 1-1), and Banree (8-1).  The rest: Rachel’s Valentina 14-1; Carina Mia 3-1.
BLUE GRASS STAKES: Zapperini, Cherry Wine, Crescent Drive, another race I see longshots succeeding.
Zapperini with speed ratings in the 80s, is waiting the longest to stretch out. 5th in the Risen Star at 8.5 furlongs on 2/20. Gained slightly on leader from the back in that race, and ran one second faster in turn time, best of today’s field.
Overlays: Zapperini (8-5), Crescent Drive (5-1)
The rest: Brody’s Cause 9-1, Zulu 29-1, Donegal Moon 7-1, Cherry Wine and Laoban 14-1,
GAZELLE STAKES:  Behrnik’s Bank, Lewis Bay, Clair de Lune
Behrnik’s Bank has the bounceback angle going….running an 88 last time in the NY Stallions Stakes, prior was a 103 in the Blue Mountain Juvenile, which was a spike up. I’ve ranked this sprinter as having the best speed of the field. Good series of Aqueduct works, 2 of them were bullets. Edwin Gonzalez, with whom she’s got both lifetime wins with, returns to ride here.  Waiting since 12/20 to stretch from a sprint.
Overlays: Behrnik’s Bank 3-1.
The rest: Lewis Bay 4-1, Dreams To Reality 14-1, Royal Obsession 14-1, Mo d’Amour 3-1.
WOOD MEMORIAL: Flexibility, Matt King Coal, Trojan Nation, Adventist.
Flexibility won the Grade 3 Jerome, and was 2nd in the Remsen and Nashua to Mohaymen. 4th last time out in the Withers.  Best speed rating for Aqueduct and the 9 furlong distance (100 in the Remsen). Laid off since 1/30, but no rust here;  has worked out frequently at Belmont with fast fractions.  Won his debut with Manuel Franco, who returns to ride him here.  Best turn time gain of the field last time out.
Overlays:  Flexibility (1-1), Trojan Nation 9-1.  The rest: Matt King Coal 4-1, Shagaf and Tale of S’Avail 14-1, Adventist 29-1.

SA OAKS: Forever Darling, Mokat, Songbird, as I pull for the upset
Forever Darling with 2 lifetime wins coming off layoff, including the Santa Ynez 2 races back. Bounced from 92 to 67 last out, running 9th in the Rachel Alexandra. Horses with her early/pressing style are winning 8.5  furlong races at a 37% clip, with posts 4-7 taking 19%. 1st-time blinkers. Only horse with shipping win.  Approaching uptick, with her upside in the mid90s.

Overlays: Jade Princess 6-1, Forever Darling 5-2, Mokat 3-1. The rest: Songbird 7-2, Bellamentary 11-1.
SA DERBY: Exaggerator, Diplodocus, Rare Candy, 3rd choice in morning line over the 2 longshots. I liked Exaggerator in the Future Wager. Dominant speed of the field, this early-presser has triple digit Brisnets in last 3…3rd in the San Felipe, 2nd in the San Vincente, winner of the Delta Jackpot.  Best AWD numbers coming in (sired by Curlin; damsire Vindication).
Overlays: Diplodocus (3-1), Danzing Candy 14-1, Rare Candy 8-1, Uncle Lino 3-1).
FANTASY STAKES: Ready To Confess, Florida Bird, Terra Promessa, choose big value over favorites.
Ready To Confess is the only filly to win first after layoff. Bounced from 94 to 82 in a 100k race on 2/6. Waiting since then to stretch out from a mile. She ran wide for much of that race, and it’s a race I can toss.  Only early speed in the race. 4 local works, 2 early ones very fast.
No Clammrs today, given the large workload.  I will give you thoughts on the Aintree Grand National in the next post.