Pegasus World Cup capsule look, selections

For this race, minted as the new richest race in the world, supplanting the Dubai World Cup, I am proud to offer thoughts on each horse.  I am ignoring the also-eligible horses for purposes of my handicapping and publishing this post.   I will edit this blog post should scratches or changes occur.

ARROGATE:  5 wins and a 3rd lifetime, begins his 4YO campaign as one of two who are sharing the biggest of limelights.  Forged lifetime best 124 Brisnet 2 races back, winning the Travers by 13 lengths. I do not see him under influence of that race.  Followed up with a 115 in the Breeders Cup Classic.  Owns 2 prior wins 1st race after layoff. No doubting his speed ability! Neither jockey Smith nor trainer Baffert have participated in the current meet. My odds: None. No chance.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF has a long 45 race history, with an 8-6-10 record. Ran at Dubai in 2015 and all of spring 2016. Since then, 5th in the Fayette at Keeneland, and 9th in the Clark at Churchill. Best track speed of this field, 104.  4 nice works at Gulfstream since the Clark, 3 of them very fast.  My odds: 18-1, much better than the ML odds of 50-1.  Overlay.

NEOLITHIC has a series of allowance races under his belt, and a 2nd place finish in the Discovery at Aqueduct in November. Forged new lifetime best, small new top of 102 last time out. Prior win stretching out in distance. Prior win gaining at least 4 lbs. Gets John R Velazquez back in the saddle. My odds: 18-1, not well enough to be an overlay.
NOBLE BIRD won last year’s Fayette and Pimlico Special.  Best track speed for 9 furlongs, 114 Brisnet. achieved in the Fayette. Bounced to 92 last time out in the Clark.  Only pure sprinter in the field.  My odds: 5-1, an overlay.
WAR STORY won last month’s Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct, with small new top of 105. In the very unlikely event of rain, this horse would have the best mud numbers.  No other real evidence he can win.   My odds: No chance.

WAR ENVOY also with small new top last out, a 91, in an optional claimer 11/26 at Del Mar. Only deep closer in the field. Should the pace collapse, his chance certainly improve. My odds: 18-1. Overlay.

SHAMAN GHOST won last year’s Woodward and Brooklyn, and 2015’s Queen Plate and Marine, both at Woodbine.
2 prior wins first after layoff. Forged lifetime best of 105 last out in the Clark,bumpy start and all.  My odds: 9-1. Overlay.

SEMPER FORTIS hasn’t done too well class-wise, tho did win last year’s Los Alamitos Derby (Grade 2). Recovered in pace in the Zia Park Derby 2 races back on November, 101 Brisnet, his lifetime best.   My odds: 7-1.  Overlay.

KEEN ICE: The 2015 Travers winner hasn’t won since then.  Still, he put up a small new top of 103 2 races back in the Breeders Cup Classic.  My odds: 18-1.

BREAKING LUCKY won the Seagram Cup at Woodbine last August. Best AWD numbers of the field (Lookin At Lucky/Shooting Party, by Sky Classic). Big spike to 109 last out, finishing 2nd in the Clark. Connections have not yet appeared in the meet, and he’s a big bounce risk. My odds: 18-1.  Avoid.

ERAGON has solidly raced at the top level in Argentina and makes his US debut.  One prior win following layoff. 2 shipping wins.  Gets 5 lb weight break for not receiving Lasix.  Waiting the longest of these to stretch out.  My odds: 18-1. Overlay.

CALIFORNIA CHROME makes his final start today.  Forged lifetime best 115 in last year’s Breeders Cup Classic, then bounced to 102 in the Winter Challenge last month. This early-presser runner has best tactical speed of the field. Last 3 2nd call numbers: 90, 122, 124. Best turn time and work tab of the field.   My odds: 4-1.

My top 3: Shaman Ghost, Noble Bird, California Chrome, Semper Fortis.

Laurel Park card, Gulfstream stakes picks for 1/28/17

Lots to get to in this post, with 9 races from Laurel, 6 stakes races from Gulfstream Park, including the $12 million Pegasus World Cup.  10 of the races are part of the monthly handicapping contest put on by The Racing Biz. I won one monthly contest, and am still aiming to duplicate the feat. The contest is essentially the best total payout according to mythical Win/Place $2 wagers, one horse per race, no cap on the winnings.  Contest races are Laurel Park 2-9 and Gulfstream’s WL McKnight and PWC.  For the sake of space and time, I’ll just post analysis of  my winners for each, top 3, and likely overlay horses.
All predictions subject to change in accordance to scratches and changes.

Laurel Park
Race 2:  Sound The Horns, Speightshill, Self Start (4-1-6)

Overlays: Self Start
Should be a chalk-chalk finish here. Sound The Horns scored 87 BRIS in debut here on 12/30, same distance of 6 furlongs. Best AWD, fastest for distance and track, and is the absolute speed despite being the lone deep closer.   Self Start I only like because of his strong work tab before his first start, including 2 bullet works here.
Race 3: Turbin, Whiskey Sour, Street Bullet (5-2-7), a race that should produce an upset over the lone ML favorite.
Overlays: JC’s Not Brown.
Turbin is fastest of those with some trouble in his last trip, 83 BRIS going a mile here 3 weeks ago. Being the lone early closer and in post 5, he fits perfectly with track bias: 33% of mile dirt races have been won by early closers, plus 15% have won from posts 4 through 7.   JC’s Not Brown races first under claim by Wayne Potts. Could bounce back in pace; bounced from 82 to 65 after drop in class and cutback in distance.  Only horse with any reasonable workout numbers.

Race 4: Cooking Up A Storm, then both halves of the Wayne Potts entry in It’s A Bang and My Charming Cycle, then Seve. (3-1a/1-6)  No overlays in this race. Decent value here overall, tho lone favorite should score.
Cooking Up A Storm scored 83 BRIS last time out, finishing 6th of 9 with a 7-wide trip around the last furlong. He did improve on the leader some at the 2nd call, and has a great work tab in prep for today.

Race 5: Honey Bun, Rosie McGuire, Important (8-3-5)
2 favorites around a longshot overlay of Rosie McGuire.. Since she’s the only real value, here’s my 2 cents: debuting 11/28 at Laurel, hardly making a dent against fellow maiden fillies in her debut.  Her 24.4 turn time from that debut is fastest of these. Trainer Mary Eppier has kept her from stretching out for 2 months, and gets her a 7 lb allowance.

Race 6: Midnight Skies, Star Touch, Trudys Lucky (5-7-2), as I totally go against the lone favorite. Star Touch is the lone overlays here and the big longshot per ML at 20-1.  Fastest speed for the distance at 66, 2 races back. Followed up with 56, 2nd consecutive race running 4-wide.  I expect her to run back to her lifetime best.

Race 7: Averils Dream, Paradise Bird, Mesmerize (5-4-2), with longshot over favorite and fellow longshot. Averils Dream is the lone overlay as well as top choice. Fastest consistent pace numbers of the field, she excels here also in turn time. Waiting the longest of these to strech out. Trainer Andrew Ali removes  blinkers for this race.

Race 8: I did not secure free past performances for this race. What I tend to do is get hold of the jockey/trainer stats per meet, and play along the lines of highest combined %, assuming at least a win for both parties during the meet.   Top 3 here are Jarvis Steel, Struth, and Service For Ten (6-7-5).

Race 9: I’m Mr. Blue, Beeks, Enough Is Enough (1-2-3), a weak lone-favorite, then longshot then mild value.  Overlays: Beeks, Hey Willie.
Beeks is a sprinter with the best tactical speed of the field. Last 3 1st call numbers: 92, 105, 104. 3 works since last race here at Laurel, 1 very fast.  Hey Willie just won 1st after layoff on 12/11. Comes out of sharp speed rating gain to 91. Best turn time of the field. Gets 7 lb weight allowance.  Only concern is a possible bounce.

Now to Gulfstream Park and all those stakes races:

Race 3 is the Hurricane Bertie Stakes, Grade 3, 100k for fillies/mares 4YO+.  Top 3: Curlin’s Approval, You Bought Her, and Improv. 1st and 3rd favorites over a longshot.  No overlays in this one. As for Improv’s chances, he has a prior win off layoff as well as after cutback in distance. Racing at 117 lbs, one of 3 horses who get the maximum weight break. Gained in turn time last out despite nearly matching his prior race’s speed figure.

Race 5 is the 400k Poseidon Handicap, 4YO+ going 9 furlongs. Top 3: Cherry Wine, Imperative, Mylute, going totally away from the weak favorite.  Overlays: Ranger In Paradise, Cherry Wine, Papa Zulu.  Value-packed race!
Cherry Wine last reached top 3 in last year’s Preakness, and 3rd in the Blue Grass prior to that.  Owns a few shipping victories, and also won an optional claimer here this time last year. Waiting the longest to stretch out (11/19) Gained a bit on the leader last time out.
Race 7 is the 125k, Ladies Turf Sprint Stakes for 4YO+. Top 3 also has nice value upfront: Pretty Perfection, Spectacular Me, and Nite Delite. No real favorite per the morning line.
Overlays: Pretty Perfection, Artesian.  Pretty Perfection has the best pace progress of these. 2 races back, she achieved a small new top of 94 in the Lightning City, 12/17 at Tampa Bay. Bounced to 86 while winning an optional claimer on 1/4 here. Cuts back from a series of routes, and gets maximum 6 lb weight break.
Race 9 is the GP Turf Sprint, also 125k, for 4YO+.  Top 3 Power Alert, Super Spender, Divine Warrior, more great value here. Overlay: Pay Any Price, Divine Warrior and Doctor J Dub.
Power Alert is fine as cheap winner, but I’m here to present value.  Super Spender recovered in pace 2 races back, peaking at 95, then matched with 90 since then. Only late closer in the race. Divine Warrior gained a bit on the leader last time out. Only early closer in the field. You know what I’m thinking: The lone pace shapes of their type in the race will make for a nice exciting finish after the others tire out.
Race 10: The La Prevoyante is for F&M, 200k, 12 long furlongs on the turf.  Top 3 are longshots: Try Your Luck, Stay The Night, Quiet Kitten.
Try Your Luck won last year’s Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes. 4 wins and 3 3rds in last 7 races. Plateau of speed figures in last 3: 94, 96, 94. Prior winner stretching out in distance, today tries after 8.5 furlongs.  Positive jockey switch back to Florent Geroux (DG Oaks winner at Kentucky Downs back in September)

Race 11 is the WL McKnight Handicap, Grade 3 event, 12 furlongs on the turf, for 4YO+. Top 3: Danish Dynaformer, Sadler’s Joy, Montclair. Good value overall beyond a weak favorite per morning line. Overlay: Generous Kitten, whom I like mainly for her strong turn time.

In the next post, I’ll give you a capsule look at the horses competing in the initial Pegasus World Cup.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager 2017 Pool 2 projected picks

A lot to get to in the next few days, what with the Pegasus World Cup, and the latest handicapping contest from The Racing Biz, which will involve the PWC, plus 9 other races at Gulfstream and Laurel Parks. But, this post focuses on Kentucky Derby Future Wager 2017, Pool 2. This on the heels of the Triple Crown nominations. Here are my findings:
Below I am listing the progeny of the 5 sires I have placed win bets on for this year’s Derby. The ‘in’ reference are horses I cited as key horses for making the sire wagers in the first places. “out” refers to those initial key horses that were not nominated.
BERNARDINI (13 horses, 14-1): Haul Anchor (in), Reedini, Shamsaan, Takaful (in), Texican, Third Day, Insurgent, Curate, Newman (in), Fuel The Bern, Outplay, Balandeen (in), Hemsworth (in). Out: Altito, Souper Catch. Hemsworth was 80-1 in Pool 1

INTO MISCHIEF (16, 24-1): Sheer Mayhem, Practical Joke (in), Into Belief, Pure Heart, One Liner, Excitations, Oxford Lane, Menace The Dennis, Westmont (in), Into Kings, Twisted Road, Spicoli, Marco Mischief, Cool Arrow (in), Troublewithatee, Dangerfield (in). Out: Bold Prophet, Calculated Risker, Candy Snatcher, Conquest Prankster, Cooked Are Good, Dab, Huevos Rancheros, KY Colonel, South Sea, The All Buttonm, Theoryintopractice.
Practical Joke is in KDFW Pool 2, and was 26-1 in Pool 1

KITTEN’S JOY: (4, 47-1) Gorgeous Kitten, Mistake Present, King Caymus, Kitten’s Royal. Out: Oscar Performance, Kitten’s Cat, Miracle Mountain, Unspoiled Moments, Kayla’s Kitten.

SCAT DADDY (6, 42-1): Wazzup Chuck, Daddy’s Placer (in), Papa Jazz, Conquest Farenheit (in), Conquest Bandit (in), Soglio. Out: Caravaggio, Nerinx, Scatoga, Ventry Bay, Wild Scat Blue.

UNCLE MO (15, 9-1) : Basha, Sakab, Monaco, Uncle Billy, Uncle Mojo, Mo Town, The Hardest Way, Letsgoidaho, Shareholder Value, Mo’s Mojo, Adorned, I Can Do Anything, Royal Mo, Absolutely Stylish, One Mo Chance
Mo Town is in KDWF Pool 2, and was 12-1 in Pool 1

The sires I selected have 54 nominations, the same total  I  garnered in 2016!
As for the future wager itself, I am taking the same approach as with Pool 1: Win bets on my top 5 horses, and exactas between top 3 regardless of odds, plus the field between each.
Should any of my top 5 horse be any worse odds than I may have selected in the first pool, with a higher payout of at least $10, I will put an extra win bet on that horse. For example, a horse who is 10-1 from Pool 1 has become 16-1in Pool 2 I would pay extra for, but not if he’s 14-1 or anything better than that.
The categories: Dosage, AWD, top class defeated, longest distance win, pace progress at age 2, Churchill Downs best BRIS speed figure, best general pace numbers based on BRIS numbers.
I kept the top 7 scores in each category for all 23 horses, including ties. The most placings in the top 7 would earn that horse a win bet from me, keeping the top 5. I ultimately found 6 horses, and it came down to logistics.
The #6 horse, and first out is very likely to become my #5: SONIC MULE joins initially at 50-1. Winner of his maiden start at Monmouth and 4th in the Saratoga Special, he’d finish 3r din the Sapling in his route debut, 2nd in the Armed Forces (turf debut), then won his last 3….a 75k allowance race, the Buffalo Man with a sharp 103 score, and the Mucho Macho Man. Appears to have the best pedigree overall. He is a son of Distorted Humor, who percentage-wise, has the best black-type score for all sires in North America. Dam side is Globe Trot, out of the great AP Indy. Combined AWD is 7.1 on the sire side, 8.2 for dam-sire, best combo here. His recent score prove him to be fast enough among the 23 (94 in the Mucho Macho Man, 88 in the OC race). On the downside, he hasn’t defeated Graded company yet, has not yet run at Churchill, and has not even been entered in a distance beyond a mile.
#5 and last in, is CLASSIC EMPIRE. I already have odds of 6-1 on him. If he were to be worse than 11-1, I’d play another win wager on him. By most accounts, he’s the big favorite for the Run for the Roses, having the most Derby Trail points. Chances are very good I will skip betting win on him and proceed to Sonic Mule. Besides, I will not bet win on any horse better than 6-1.
Winner of 4 of 5 lifetime, including his maiden start, then the Bashford Manor, the Breeders Futurity and the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Failed to finish in the Hopeful. His BC Juvenile score was an amazing 108. One of 4 horses to win at the Grade 1 level. His Bashford Manor score took place at Churchill, with a 94 rating. Factoring in his non-finish, I am slightly hesitating on giving more confidence to him. With his BC Juvenile score, he proved positive pace progress. One of 6 horses to win at 8.5 furlongs. Pedigree does not rank at all with this group.

#4: MO TOWN. I have him at 12-1. He is 20-1 morning-line. Indeed, if he’s worse than 17-1, I will play a win bet on him. 2nd in his first maiden race, winner in his 2nd as he ran his first route race, then won the Remsen Stakes with a 101 Brisnet while extending to 9 furlongs. Good AWD numbers here (Uncle Mo/Grazie Mille, by Bernardini). The Remsen Stakes win proved his pace progress at 2. Longest distance win of this group at 9 furlongs. Meanwhile he has not run at CD yet, and his current pace of speed figures is just a shade lower than the best.

#3 EL AHEED: 50-1 at ML. 4th in his maiden debut, then 2nd while dropping to 40k maidens, then broke through in 3rd start. Followed this with a win in the JF Lewis III 100k race at Laurel on 11/19, with a 102 BRIS score. Then posted a 100, winning the Grade 3 Jerome at Aqueduct, 1/2/17. AWD numbers are very good (Exchange Rate/Feathered Diamond, out of AP Indy). Currently among the fastest pace horses of the 23. Jerome Stakes was 1 mile-70 yards, shorter than the benchmark 8.5 furlongs for the 23. No runs at Churchill yet. Will most likely involve him in exactas.

#2 GUEST SUITE: Opens at 50-1 also. 3rd in his maiden debut, winner of his 2nd maiden score at 60k, in his route debut. 3rd in the Street Sense, winner of a 75k optional claimer (these 2 races at CD), then winner of the Grade 3 LeComte last week at 8.5 furlongs. 4 straight small new tops in pace, ranging from 85 to 93. 2 races at CD make him legit. Pedigree is weak compared to others. Despite being consistent in pace, his numbers are rather slow. Definite for win/exactas.

#1 pick is another repeat in MCCRAKEN. All races at CD..all wins. 43k maiden debut, then the Street Sense at a mile, then the KY Jockey Club at 8.5 furlongs, with a 93 Brisnet, pairing up with a 94 prior. Dosage figures are among the better ones here. He did not run prior to Labor Day, so I’m unsure if he’s progressing well. Also with a 94 at best, his pace numbers need to improve. He was 12-1 win bet that also got used in exactas. I will use him only if he is worse than 17-1. Somehow I don’t see that happening. If that’s the case, I’ll leave him for exactas, but I’d have to go to my 7th ranked horse. That horse would be MASTERY. Also undefeated in 3 races…52k maiden, G3 Bob Hope, G1 Los Alamitos Futurity. Pace scores range from 93 to 99, so the class and pace numbers are there, as well as the requisite distance. Meanwhile, he’s lacking in pedigree and has yet to run at CD.

Mastery is opening at 6-1. Should he better than 6-1, I’ll drop down to the 8th ranked horse, GUNNEVARA. 2nd in his maiden debut last June, 4th in the Birdonre, winner of his 2nd maiden event, winner of the Saratoga Special, 5th in the Breeders Futurity, winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot with lifetime best 96. The class is certainly there as well as the distance and pace progress. On the downside, the pedigree doesn’t measure up, and neither does his current pace overall, and he has no CD appearances.



Selections for Fair Grounds races 1/21/17

Fair Grounds in LA has the best racecard today, outpointing the Sunshine Millions races at Gulfstream Park with one more stakes race, and a Graded one at that.   I have access to 11 of 12 possible past performances for today’s card, tho a lot depends on the weather and track conditions. Yesterday’s (1/20) races were run in the ambiguous “good” condition. Today may be challenging as there are thunderstorms and strong winds in the forecast for the afternoon.  A number of horses are also-eligible and main-track-only types, plus some races have provisions for switching to dirt if the turf course is not up to par.
With that I have my take on the 11 races, factoring in the off-track condition.  For overlays, please follow me on Twitter at @idealisticstats
Race 2: 3-7-5
Princess Erindelle as the late closer owns the best tactical speed of the field, plus a nice pattern of speed figures from mid 80’s to 90. Also owns best turn time.

Race 3: 1A-1-8
I like the Alvin Sider training entry to win out here. Private Prayer marginally the better over Motormech. Private Prayer has best AWD numbers (Lemon Drop Kid/Blueyed Lass, out of Sky Charm); gained big at first call in last race after 5 months off, also gained on leader by a length at 2nd call.

Race 4: 11-3-4  Doc Kane is an MTO horse. 4th in his debut at Ellis Park on July 10, 70 Brisnet speed for 5 furlongs. Waiting the longest of this field to stretch out, he’s made the most of his time away, with a number of fast works at FG.
Race 5 (75k Kenner Stakes): 6-3-4
Chief Istan owns a  stakes win at the level, 10/1/16 at Laurel, sloppy track. 2 wins 1st off layoff. Primed to bounce back in pace: bounced from 99 to 66 in the Zia Sprint last out, with a 6-wide trip. Best turn-time and work tab of the field.

Race 6: 7-6-5   Fault with a sharp 85 Brisnet in her debut on New Year’s Eve here, certainly best FG peformance of the field. Ran wide on the turn and was unsteady in the stretch. Hoping she’ll run better this time.

Race 7: 75k Louisiana Stakes:   6-1-3. Hawaakom won last year’s WV Governor’s Stakes (200k), and good placings since then in Graded company. Best AWD numbers (Jazil/Nafisah, out of Lahib). Best off-track numbers, 100 on a wet-fast track 3 races back in October, 2nd in the Lukas Classic at Churchill. Lone late closer in the race. 4 good works at FG since last.

Race 8: Grade 3 Colonel ER Bradley Handicap, 125k.
9-2-4: Granny’s Kitten has the best pace opportunity. Forged lifetime best mark of 94 3 races back in October, plus owns a nice pace pattern that may see her exceed 90 again. Had a rather wide trip through her last race, so I hope she’s corrected herself this time.

Race 9: 150k Silverbulletday Stakes: 5-2-7: Big favorite Untapped 2 of 3 lifetime, each with 85 Brisnet. Best AWD numbers (Tapit/Fun House, by Prized); won her only start at FG, improving on 2nd call since 2 month layoff and assumed lead at that point as well.

Race 10: Marie G Krantz Memorial Stakes, 75k purse: 8-7-9: Kitten’s Roar has the inherent numbers in spades… Best AWD numbers (Kitten’s Joy/Bambolina, out of War Chant); best speed for distance, surface and track, a 95, achieved last out on 12/17. Wide on the turns in that race. Another I like due to the recent trouble trip.
Race 11 is the feature, the Grade 3 LeComte Stakes, 200k purse for open 3YO company.  9-8-7. Running Mate for the upset. Won first 2, then was 2nd in the Sugar Bowl here a month ago, running wide in the latter stages. Best track speed of the field, 97, from his 2nd start. Best overall speed, with lifetime figures 97, 97, 90.
Lone sprinter of the field.
Race 12 nightcap: 7-1-8. Hold Me Black bounced from 82 figure to 77 last time out. Best pace pattern…lifetime numbers are 74, 83, 74, 82, 77. Rather wide trip last time..might be due to his first race with an outside post.  Improved a bit on leader in last race at 2nd call.