Indy 500 stats, prediction

Here are the stats that tell the story of recent drivers’ success and failure at Indy and this big race:
Helio Castroneves is the man, with 13 races, 3 wins, 13 top 10s. Ed Carpenter has 10- races without a win.  Juan Pablo Montoya, who races different series and whom I consider the leading driver worldwide, has 2 wins in just 3 tries.
Top 5 finishes reveal more of the consistent top drivers. Besides the aforementioned, see Tony Kanaan (6-14), Scott Dixon (6-13) and Marco Andretti (5-10).
Top 10s: Haven’t yet mentioned Will Power, who is 4-8 in top 10 placings.
Takuma Sato has no top 10s in 6 races.
Laps led: Ryan Hunter-Reay has just 82 laps led to equate his lone Indy win. Meanwhile, Marco Andretti has led 141 without one. Other 0fers: Ed Carpenter 69, Will Power 66.
Average start/position: Drivers with good positive gains here, minimum 3 races:  JPM 6.7, Simon Pagenaud 1.5, Charlie Kimball 7.4, Oriol Servia 3.7, RHR 2.8, Sato 1.6.
Running at finish: JPM perfect through 3, Pagenaud through 4. Helio is 14-15.
Lead lap finish: Pagenaud is 4-4. Helio 13-15.
My top 10:
1 RHR
2 Townsend Bell
3 Polesitter James Hinchcliffe
4 Servia
5 Pagenaud
6 Munoz
7 Helio
8 Kimball
9 JPM
10 Sato

Monaco GP, NASCAR Coca Cola 600 projections

That glorious Big Day of Racing is here. 3 states, 3 tracks, 3 iconic races.
At Monaco, this notoriously difficult track continues to reward the fastest. The essential thing is to lead at all. Nearly all active drivers, save Felipe Massa have won while leading any number of laps. Massa’s put up 23 laps in the lead without a win, tho he does have 5 top 5s in his 13 lifetime races here. Nico Rosberg has 3 wins in 10 races, for a nice winning percentage. Daniel Ricciardo got his first pole right here, and it’s quite the advantage for him.
In evaluating auto races, I put the most stock in drivers who improve on their positions the most per track. Just 4 drivers in today’s lineup have positive numbers:
Lewis Hamilton .8, 14-race veteran Fernando Alonso .9, Massa 1.2, and Valtteri Bottas .3.
Hamilton (3rd in the grid today), in fact, has finished each of his 9 races here. Nico Hulkeberg, 5th on the grid today, has missed one of 5.
Here’s my top 5 finishers:
Hamilton
Ricciardo
Vettel
Rosberg
Hulkenberg
The awesome 1.5 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts its longest race, the Coca Cola 600. Here are the particulars:
Jimmie Johnson is a 7-time winner, most among actives. He begins today in 7th. Kasey Kahne, 29th on grid, has 4 wins. Kevin Harvick, 8th, has 3 wins. Those with 2 include Matt Kenseth & Jamie McMurray. Most starts among those with no wins: Dale Earnhardt Jr, (25th), 32. followed by Ryan Newman (14th) with 30, and Greg Biffle (6th) with 26.
Top 5s: JJ again, with 13 in 29 races here. Kyle Busch is 10-24 and has yet to win here. Biffle and Dale Jr both have 6 top-5s without a win. Polesitter Martin Truex Jr is just 2 for 21. Among those with no top 5s: Regan Smith (31st), and Trevor Bayne (10th), Paul Menard (18th), Michael McDowell (32nd), Landon Cassill (33rd).
Top 10s: JJ is 17 for 29 here, Matt Kenseth 17-33. Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin start in the top 10 today and both also have strong records as top 10 finishers here.
McDowell and Cassill, plus Ricky Stenhouse Jr have never cracked this level.
Led laps: It took Casey Mears just 20 led laps to produce his lone win. These drivers have led the most without a win here: Kyle 907, Biffle 437, Dale Jr 360, Vickers 332, Newman 277, Hamlin 240.
Joey Logano on average always gets into the top 10. Here are drivers with great improvement on position at Charlotte, 3 race minimum: Loganso, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Regan Smith, Reed Sorensen, Michael Annett.
Running at finish: Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have 30+ races here and have failed to finish a race only once. Truex Jr has a perfect record in 21 races.
Lead lap finish: Denny Hamlin is 17 of 21 with no wins here yet, and Joey Logano is 11 of 14.
Here’s my top 10:
1 Logano
2 Truex Jr
3 Stenhouse Jr
4 Keselowski
5 Edwards
6 Hamlin
7 Harvick
8 Biffle
9 Kurt Busch
10 Jimmie Johnson

*****
Returning a bit later with Indy 500 stats

Arlington Park stakes action analysis 5/28/16

Quick thoughts on today’s stakes races at Arlington Park, the Arlington Classic and the Arlington Matron:
My top in the Matron are Tiz Lately, Brooklynsway, and Flipcup
Tiz Lately, 14 of 24 in the money lifetime, goes sprint to route today. My main interest in the 5YO mare is her excellent turn time gain and increase while having a lower speed figure last time out. Yes, this can be meted out while adjusting in distance but this tactical runner is among the faster of her type. Seeking big upset here.

In the Classic, I like Surgical Strike, Uncle Jerry and Itsnotezbeinbreezy.
Surgical Strike, favored at 5-2 is an easy pick. 3rd in the American Turf at Churchill last out, also 3rd in the Spiral, winner of the Battaglia Memorial, he owns fastest speed figure for the distance, has positive pace form having a small new top of 93 last time out while running 6 wide. I like his recent pattern of figures alongsides.

Preakness Stakes analysis and selections

Here’s my capsule look on this year’s Preakness Stakes, horse-for-horse:
CHERRY WINE won maiden in 5th try, was 4th in the Rebel and 3rd last out in the Blue Grass. 2 works at Churchill since, 1 very fast. Gained in turn time despite small downturn in figures. Closer who needs moderate to slowing fractions. My odds: 6-1. Predicted finish: 4th.
UNCLE LINO 7-2-2-2 lifetime, 2nd in the Robert B Lewish, 4th in the San Felipe, 3rd in the SA Derby, winner last out of the California Chrome. Forged a strong new top of 109 last out, way ahead of prior best 97, so a bounce may be coming. Gained nicely in turn time compared to prior but very wary of that triple digit Brisnet number. Would require a slightly slow and slowing pace.
NYQUIST, KY Derby winner, undefeated in 8. Best speed for the distance, considering that Derby win, good for new top of 104. I sense a bounce here, as his prior win in the Florida Derby was 97, itself a bounce from 103 in the San Vicente. Another horse who exceeds track par for the distance, and one I must play against today. Sprinter who needs moderate to slow numbers.  My odds: 24-1.
AWESOME SPEED won the Mucho Macho Man and the James F Lewis, and was nosed out last time in the Federico Tesio. Moved from  87 to 97 Brisnet last out, might bounce. Best work tab here, with 3 works. He actually was awarded the Tesio win after being bumped  lightly by unofficial winner Governor Malibu. Maybe he could have ran faster. My odds: 6-1.  Needs moderate to slow fractions.  Overlay.  Should finish 5th.
EXAGGERATOR enters with triple digit Brisnet figures in last 5, with wins in the Saratoga Special, the Delta Downs Jackpot, and an exciting Santa Anita Derby. Closer who will rely on a pace collapse to win.  One of two horses who shares best mud speed figure of 103 (Delta Downs), with rain in the forecast. Measured as the absolute speed of the field, he’s the only early closer here. I love the consistency of his figures.  My odds: 2-1. This is your Preakness winner, which I’ll try to use over value.
LANI remains an enigma despite wins on two continents and a 9th in the Run for all those Roses. Looks outclassed compared to these.
COLLECTED 6-4-1-0 lifetime, with wins in the Lexington, the Sunland Festival of Racing and the Sham plus his maiden debut.  Despite this resume, he also appears outclassed. Doesn’t rank with this field in any variable. Requires fast fractions to have any chance.
LAOBAN still a maiden, 4th in the Blue Grass, 2nd in the Gotham, 3rd in the Sham, removing blinkers for the Preakness.  Best AWD numbers (Uncle Mo/Chattertown by Speightstown). Likely deserving of his 30-1 morning line odds. Predicting him to finish 6th.
ABIDING STAR won his last 4, including the Parx Derby and the Private Terms. This is the other horse with a 103 on a sloppy course. Bounced from that in the Parx Derby with a 93 on a good track yet produced another win. I am prefering the bounceback angle (and I often do). My odds are 6-1, suggesting a sneaky overlay. Predicted to be 2nd. Needs moderate to slow numbers here.
FELLOWSHIP 12-2-3-3 lifetime, hasn’t found winner’s circle since October. Best turn time since last race, 23.8 seconds. Slight possibility of bounce, as his last 3 races were in the 90s, ahead of an 89 before that.
STRADIVARI has a maiden win and a 62k allowance win, both by double-digit lengths. Forged big gains in pace in each, 101 last out, 92 prior .3 works since last, most recent was a bullet. Only horse to improve at 2nd call first race after layoff. I think he’s worth 4-1, better than morning line 8-1, and might be the most affordable of overlays here.
Prediction: 3rd.

Stakes selections at Pimlico 5/20/16

It really didn’t matter to me that I hit the winner of the Kentucky Derby way back at its peak in November. The big favorite won, and so did the 2nd and 3rd favorites, in order. Pure, utter, chalk, the bane of value handicappers. Frankly, the 2nd favorite and 2nd finisher Exaggerator was also in my top 5 of horses to play straight win bets on then.  I could have played exactas to all 5 of them and hope to score the exacta, worth nearly $200 for a $2 wager.  I had never seriously considered exactas that early on.  Maybe come November, it will be time to do so.

Moving on: I am now an employee at Emerald Downs, the status of which renders me ineligible to be in the 123 Racing contest there.   I still am eligible to be part of The Racing Biz’s 2 day contest, 5 stakes races both Saturday and Sunday at Pimlico.   Here I present info on the Friday races.

PIMLICO SPECIAL: 1-3/16 miles, Grade 3, 300k, 3YO+
My top 3 are Savoy Stomp, Page McKenney, Golden Glint
Savoy Stomp has the best Average Winning Distance numbers from pedigree (Megdalia d’Oro, Crystal Current by AP Indy). One of two horses in optimal pace form. Small new top of 95 achieved in March, and only horse in field to win 1st off layoff.  Best works: 4 since the Skip Away on 4/2 at Gulfstream, 1 very fast. Switching back to maiden-breaking win by John Velazquez. Somewhat wide bid for much of the Skip Away. This closer just didn’t have what it took to win then. But the fast 89 Brisnet suggests there is more in the tank.
Potential overlays: Savoy Stomp, Heisinfront

JIM MCKAY TURF SPRINT: 5 furlongs, turf, 100k, 3YO+.
My top 3 are Big Guy Ian, Ben’s Cat, Jack’s In The Deck.
Big Guy Ian is in bounceback pace position after lifetime best triple digit speed figures, then bounce to 75 last out in the Elusive Quality. One of three horses to improve on first call 1st after layoff. Best turn time and gain of the field.
Potential overlays: Big Guy Ian, Jack’s In The Deck.

Allaire Dupont DISTAFF Stakes, 9 furlongs, Grade 3, 150k, fillies/mares 3YO+.
My top 3 are Camille Claudel, Engaginglee, Savings Account.  Camille Claudel may be the longshot here, but I like her as the big winner. One of two horses to win straight off layoff. Best works, 5 in all, 4 of which are very fast. Switches back to regular rider Forest Boyce, who piloted two of the mare’s 3 lifetime wins.  Also appears to be the lone overlay.

HILLTOP Stakes: 8.5 furlongs, turf, for 3YO fillies, 100k. Top 3 depends on entries. If one of the horses scratches, the also-eligible Lookout Sister is my top pick, with Thundering Sky 2nd and Look Who’s Talking 3rd.  If no scratches, the latter two are my chosen top 2, with Cowgirl Tough  rounding out my trifecta.   Lookout Sister won both lifetime races at Del Mar, including the Small Wonder in September. Having won her maiden debut, do not expect her to experience rust today. 4 works since last, most recent one a bullet. Switches back to original jockey Trevor McCarthy. Waiting since April 2nd to stretch.  Thundering Sky’s lone start at the distance on April produced best figure of the field, a 91. Measured as having best figures overall.
Overlays: Melody Croon, Thundering Sky, Look Who’s Talking. Lookout Sister (if in the race), Cowgirl Tough (if Lookout Sister not in)

Finally the BLACK EYED SUSAN, race for leading 3YOs going 9 furlongs, Grade 2 event, 250k.
My top 3 are Dothraki Queen, Ma Can Do It and Midnight On Oconee.
Dothraki Queen is the classic ‘now’ horse.Winner of her maiden debut and the subsequent Pocahontas, with diminishing returns since.  4 works, 3 at Churchill, last 2 very fast, one a bullet. 1 shipping win. Only time she switched from turf to dirt, she won. She does likewise today, shipping from the Keeneland turf and an 8th place finish in the Appalachian, 4/14.
Overlays are each of my top 3 here.

Back in a bit with the Preakness capsule focus.

All-stakes Pick 4 picks for Belmont 5/14/16

Here’s my take on the all-stakes Pick 4 races at Belmont Park.    I’ll give you a capsule form of races 4-9 of the Emerald Downs races later on.

RUFFIAN Stakes is a Grade 2 event for top fillies, going 1 mile on the muddy main track.
Top 3 are Welcome Aboard, Cavorting, Carrumba.
In using the big longshot of the 6 of this field, I am hoping that Welcome Aboard will represent good positive hidden pace form with an improved turn time as of late. Only early closer of the field. Light weight of the field too, carrying 115. Competitive works and similar move vs leader at 2nd call, so can’t throw out.

Overlay: Welcome Aboard
Speed requirements: Cavorting, early presser, needs a pace that slows down between calls.
Include Betty, deep closer, needs slower fractions between also. Spelling Again, early presser, needs slow and slowing fractions. Calamity Kane, sprinter, needs slow pace in general.
BEAUGAY STAKES is for top older fillies, 4YO+, going 8.5 furlongs on firm turf.
Top 3 will use of the favorites: Ball Dancing, Ticking Kate, My Miss Sophia.
g a deserving favorite, winner of the Jenny Wiley last year and the Sands Point in 2014, plus several races in France. Enters with best AWD numbers (Exchange Rate/Ball Gown by Silver Hawk)Prior wins first off layoff. Best work tab of the field.
This is a race I’d totally key the longshot Ticking Kate against the faves, who is my overlay as well. The case for Ticking Kate: multiple stakes winner in England, 5th race in the States, goes back to Belmont and back to a route as well. I’m aiming for her to run back to her 94 in the Canadian at Woodbine 2 races back. Prior win off layoff, fastest turn time of the field at 23.8.
Speed requirements: Recepta, closer, needs a fast pace at the beginning that slows down later.  Tapitry, early presser, needs pace that slows down somewhat.
Sistas Stroll, closer, like Recepta, needs a fast pace that slows down.
Strike Charmer, closer, needs a fast pace.
Next is the Grade 2 PETER PAN, 9 furlongs on the ‘good’ Belmont dirt.
Top 3 are Singleton, Governor Malibu and Adventist. Totally using longshot and mild value, avoiding all chalk.
Singleton still a maiden after 4 races, showed promise 2 races back with a 98 score at Gulfstream at this distance. He is attempting to run back to that number after bounce last time. Track bias for distance and post is currently favoring posts 1-3.  Turn time gain, plus his bounced figure of 81 shows he’s got much more in the tank.
Singleton and Governor Malibu, plus Wild About Deb are my 3 overlays here. Governor Malibu owns best Belmont speed of these with 91. Dropping 6 lbs to carry here, won with a 4 lbs drop earlier in career. Positive jockey switch to Joel Rosario at 22% and prior win with him, 2 shipping wins also.
Wild About Deb broke maiden in 2nd effort with a 99 last month at Santa Anita on a sloppy track.  That score is best for the distance of this field.  Also best AWD numbers (Eskenderaya/Smarty Deb, out of Smart Strike). Only early closer in the race. Improved on 2nd call last time out 1st after layoff. 24 second turn time leads this field.
Speed requirements: Governor Malibu needs a very slow pace. Unified needs a moderate pace that slows up.
Finally the MAN O’WAR Stakes, 4YOs+ going 11 furlongs on the inner turf. Top 3: Go Around, Closing Bell, Biz The Nurse.
Go Around: Won the Turf Classic at Tampa Bay last time out. Only horse in good pace form: Set new small top last time with a 99 figure, a few points ahead of his 95 in the Saranac at Saratoga.  Fastest horse as measured by run style. Only early/presser type in the field, suggesting his tactical speed may be advantageous. All 4 of his wins are shipping wins, and he did win here a year ago today.
Overlays: Each horse in my top 3, basically. Closing Bell won a 300k stakes event at Kentucky Downs last year. Good work tab in comparison to these with 2 bullets. 2 shipping wins. Adds blinkers, Waiting 7 weeks to stretch out 2 more furlongs.  Biz The Nurse is the big longshot. Racing vs top horses in Italy, she did win her US debut 14 months ago, with no real success since.  Took a wide trip in the stretch last time, caused a DQ, still posted a 3rd straight 97 figure. I feel he can do better. This deep closer seems to have the fastest pace numbers of the field, and has consistent figures at that.
Speed requirements: Go Around, early presser, needs a pace that improves as the race goes on.

Emerald Downs picks 5/13/16

This week I accepted a position at Emerald Downs, working as a mutuel clerk for the major days of the meet.  The position renders me ineligible to continue in the 123racing contest, but I will continue to do my picks strictly on this blog.  As schedule permits,  I will post selections the night before a race
Race 2: Dudley Studley, Outdidya, Justa Gusta.  Key variables for Dudley Studley: Best AWD numbers in the field, best track performance of the field, improved at 1st call 1st race after layoff.
Race 3: Trick Silver, Abeja (TRIP PLAY), Cozzabi.
Trick Silver enters with good workouts and tight pattern of speed figures. Abeja was rather wide in his 3rd try at maiden last time, should have won. Competitive pace numbers for this field especially for Emerald.
Race 4: Command Authority, Arms War, Cascade Cat:
Command Authority deserving favorite with consistent speed figures, best works.
Race 5: Fine Red Wine, Sanibel Harbor, Tiki Torch
Another favorite here, Fine Red Wine best pace numbers measured by run style, good works, good turn time gain between last 2 races. Track speed is best of this field
Race 6: Ready Set  Jet (BEST), Mike Man’s Gold, Betsy’s Gold
The lone longshot play and an easy one, Ready Set Jet best pace numbers per run style, jockey switch a positive one, back to Camacho-Flores. Shipping win in his past too. Best workouts coming in, and strong turn time showing.
Race 7: In Private, Portray Yr Vision, Hugs & Kisses
In Private the price play, in bounceback pace position, should benefit from track bias with the rail position.

Tomorrow early, I’ll post early thoughts on Emerald Saturday, 4 stakes to cover at Belmont Park, and a post mortem on the Kentucky Derby.