First look at the 2017-2018 Enlightened Derby Trail

The countdown begins again, 11 months and many races
before we get to the Run for the Roses and Lillies.
With this, I unveil the very first draft of the 2017-18
Enlightened Trails.
The Trails determine the best possible Derby/Oaks fields
based on the best race a track can offer that naturally
fits into the actual Trails. Where I differ from the real
thing is the introduction of minor tracks. I call them
such because of how their best races measure up. My
focus for ranking are by age, purse, class, and distance.
This is how I break ties as well. All horses are
divided into 4 geographic divisions involving the
‘majors’, and a separate category for the smaller
representatives, which I call ‘minors. The minors, such
as my home track of Emerald Downs, do not have a Graded
race that is their best representative race for the Trail
for 2YOs from July to December, or 3YOs through the
weekend of the Arkansas Derby. One race per track, with
the kind exception of whoever hosts the Breeders Cup
(you’re welcome, Del Mar). 4 horses from each get into
the Derby. 3 from each major division plus 2 from the
minors are in the Oaks.
The big idea is to have a number of geographic and
socioeconomic areas have a chance to be in the field of
20, and get away from the top-heavy focus of races in
Cali, NY, Florida and so forth.

The spreadsheet is filled with info based on’s Stakes Calendar, listing the best
available races by track and age.
Horses earn points for their finish based on this scheme:
2Yos, ungraded: 100-50-25-10
2YOs, Graded: 250-100-50-25
3YOs, ungraded: 500-250-125-50
3YOs, Graded: 100-500-250-125

Ties are broken first using the higher class of race, then the purse amount, then the distance.
When one horses qualifies in more than 1 division, I keep it in the division that has less potential qualifiers in it. This is due to the fact that some divisions have more races than others.
I’ve yet to construct the divisions, but this will get fleshed out in due time, as will the 3YO version of the Trails. For now, this is what I have. Enjoy!

Oaks Trail will be published in the next few days.

Royal Ascot 3-race analysis 6/21/17

Taking time to look at Royal Ascot for this morning, I have just enough time to tell you about 3 of the 6 races for day 4 of the current 5-day meeting, starting with Race 2.
That 2nd race is the King Edward Stakes, 12 furlongs on Ascot’s turf course for 3YO colts/geldings. It’s a Group 3 event for 277000. My top 3 are Best Of Days, favored Crystal Oceans, and Permian. Overlays per morning-line: Permian and Frankuus.
Best Of Days has 2 wins and a 3rd lifetime, including a win in his debut, so being first after layoff should not produce rust. Using the TS racings by the Racing Post, he seems to be bouncing back in pace. I like that he’s waiting longest to stretch out, 9 months in all.
Permian 9 of 11 in money lifetime, comes out of a disappointing 10th in the Investec Derby at Epsom. Best turf speed of the field, also in pace recovery mode, 6 races since layoff, high pace, and subsequent downturn.
Frankuus has a checkered career total but I like that he’s got 2 runs at Ascot and a slow but steady pattern of pace scores, unlike his competition here.

Next is the featured Commenwealth Cup, a Group 1 event for open 3YOs, going 6 furlongs on turf. My top 3 here are longshot/overlays Intelligence Cross and Victory Angel, followed by the favored Harry Angel. Also consider Mr Scarlet as an overlay too.

Intelligence Cross 6 of 9 in the money, adds blinkers for this race. Also switches positively to jockey Heffernan.

Victory Angel 3 of 5 lifetime, fastest horse of those coming in with a somewhat troubled trip.

Mr Scarlet had recently produced a forward pace in his last 2 races. Despite the bounce risk, I am expecting him to at least come close to his prior numbers.


Race 4 is the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, for top rank 3YO fillies, going 1 mile on Ascot’s turf course. Top 3 here are Dabyah, the highly favored Winter, and longshot/overlay La Coronel.
La Coronel I mainly like because she has a win following a cutback in distance. 4 wins in 8, and must be considered.

Without run styles or Brisnet pace numbers to go on, this is the best I can offer.


2017 Coventry Stakes analysis

A handful of hours before the running of the Coventry Stakes at Ascot, I cannot help but recall the movie My Fair Lady, and “Ascot Gavotte”, an ensemble chorus singing a tune about the opening of the classic UK meet. The meet itself does begin on the day of the solstice, 6/20. This race would be the ideal representative on my Enlightened Oaks Trail (more on this in a post coming soon).
With a glaring lack of pace details and such coming from the Brisnet past performances and Equibase details, I turned to The Racing Post to fill in pace numbers and went from there.
In this 18-horse field, I narrowed it down to 3 horses, and 4 overlays.
Aqabah is who I like most here. Winner of an allowance on this track last month, and 4th last out in a 2YO stakes race while stretching out, he does add blinkers, and has the fastest pace numbers (measured by pure mph) of those who had a trouble trip last time.
Murillo also looks interesting here. Cut to 5 furlongs last time, he won a maiden race at Tiperary as well as it being a shipping win. Waiting since 5/25 to stretch out again.
Rajasinghe won an allowance race in his lone start, on the all-weather at Newcastle. That race gave him the highest Racing Post total of anyone coming in.
Haddaf may be one to use here. 3 races in, all at 5 furlongs, he is still a maiden, but he did manage a strong pace number, and may be a bounce risk following a 3rd place finish in a stakes effort at Sandown Park. His times at 5 furlongs thus far: 1:00.4, losing by a neck; 1:00.2 (ditto), and 59.4 (1.25 lengths behind).

2017 Manhattan Stakes, Met Mile analysis

Looking at TVG’s generous wagering opportunity for Belmont on Friday and Saturday, I’m choosing two more races on that card to play from. The offer is this: Wager up to $10 to win on any race on Friday and Saturday at Belmont. Only the first such wager counts. If your horse runs 2nd or 3rd, you get your money back.

Here’s how I see the Met Mile, a Grade 1 event for 3YO+.
Top 3 are weak favorite Sharp Azteca, likely wiseguy horse Tommy Macho, and Tom’s Ready. Projected overlays: Virtual Machine (worst at 30-1), and Tom’s Ready.
Tommy Macho won several races first off layoff. Best turn time of the field, and this despite a slight downtick in speed figure (104 to 98, in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct, 4/8).
Tom’s Ready proves to be the live overlay here. Only deep closer of the field, won last year here in the Woody Stephens, and has a few shipping wins.
Virtual Machine I have as 9-1 in my betting line, better than than morning-line of 30-1. Comes out of a 99 BRIS in the Westchester here a month ago, running 2nd all the way. That score is the 2nd of 2 consecutive small new tops.

Next is the Manhattan Stakes, 10 furlongs on Belmont’s turf, at the Grade 1 level, for 4YOs+. Top 3: big longshot Applicator, decently-favored World Approval and Sadler’s Joy. Applicator is the one overlay here. No, he hasn’t won in a year, but here’s why I like him now: best turn time gain (plus lowered speed figure) of the field. Also he’s the lone sprinter of the field. He gained in 2nd call speed between those two races. I have to think he’s built up some stamina for this one.
Sadler’s Joy has all 4 of his wins come in his last 6, including the PanAmerican at Gulfstream on 4/1 (no fooling). Bounced from 103 to 95 last time out in the Man O’ War. Owns the best turf score of the field, a 109, in a Grade 3 event at GP on 1/28. He’s essentially the pure speed of the field and set to bounce back.

2017 Belmont Stakes analysis

Here’s my horse-by-horse analysis for Saturday’s Belmont
Stakes. I’ll be at Emerald Downs that day, with DJ
Flowerdove, enjoying the 8-race card, plus day 2 of the
Indian Relays.

TWISTED TOM: Winner of 4 of 6 lifetime, including
Laurel’s top 3YOs races in the Federico Tesio and Private
Terms. Won an OC statebred 75k race and the Private Terms
first off layoff. One of several horses who is under
influence of a small new top, 93, set in the Tesio. He
does carry a slight bounce risk, as his last 3 races are
sharply ahead of the one before it. Besides that, he did
well in the Tesio, gaining the lead by the 2nd call in
that 9 furlong affair. Most impressive of all, he has 5
works, 2 at Belmont, 3 of the works very fast, one a
Projection: Winner.
Suggested odds: 2-1. Big time overlay.
Pace: Very fast all throughout.
TAPWRIT won the Tampa Bay Derby, and finished somewhat
competitively in the Blue Grass Stakes and KY Derby
afterward. Gained a lot against the leader last time out.
No evidence to suggest he’ll be competitive today.
Projection: Outside the top 7
Suggested odds: 30-1 or worse.
Pace: This early closer needs a slow pace throughout.
GORMLEY haS 4 wins in 7, including the Sham, the Front
Runner and the Santa Anita Derby. Based on his last 3 2nd
call numbers, this backstretch horse might have the best
tactical speed of the field. Was somewhat competitive
last out in the KY Derby.
Projection: 6th.
Suggested odds: 29-1.
Pace: Fast throughout.
J BOYS ECHO won the Gotham, finished a respectable 4th in
the Blue Grass, was never a factor in the KY Derby
despite 2nd call gain. No chance here today.
Projection: Worse than 7th
Suggested odds: Worse than 29-1
Pace: Fast, then slowing to average for this closer.
HOLLYWOOD HANDSOME comes out of an allowance win at CD,
only other win besides his maiden win in January. Best
races lifetime were 94 in the Illinois Derby, and 96 in
the LA Derby, then a small bounce to 89 last out. I feel
he can bounce back from this. Best turn time (1 second)
of the field, plus is only horse with such gain despite
lower speed figure. He must have more in the tank.
Projection: 2nd.
Suggested odds: 4-1. Overlay.
Pace: Average all throughout.
LOOKIN AT LEE wasn’t really fooling the bettors tho he
hasn’t been a throwout in most of his races. Only horse
with the ‘exploding’ pace factor, a small gain to set his
first 3YO best effort. Pair of 97s last out to further
his cause. Also gained 1 second in turn time last out,
along with a small 2nd-call gain.
Projection: 5th.
Suggested odds: 29-1.
Pace: Average throughout for this deep closer.
IRISH WAR CRY is a weak 7-2 choice by the morning-line.
4 of 6 wins lifetime including the Holy Bull and Wood
Memorial. Great pattern of alternating triple and
double-digit BRIS scores, and he’s on the uptick.
Prediction: 3rd
Suggested odds: 9-1
Pace: Average throughout.
SENIOR INVESTMENT is 9-3-0-2 lifetime, with 4 1sts coming in his last 6, losing one to DQ. Stock is rather low despite recent success, including his 3rd in the Preakness with new top of 98. Might bounce from that number.
Prediction: Outside the top 7
Odds: worse than 29-1
Pace: Average throughout.
MEANTIME is arguably the wise-guy horse. 4-1-2-1 lifetime, 2nd in the Peter Pan with a strong 105, best Belmont speed of the field. Should we have an off-track, that number becomes an even bigger threat. Seems ripe for a bounce, advancing from 92 while winning his maiden race. Only pure sprinter of the field, suggesting he’s a pure pacesetter for this 12-furlong affair.
Prediction: Worse than 7th.
Odds: 7-1. Overlay.
Pace: Fast to very fast throughout.
MULTIPLIER won the Illinois Derby with a 104 BRIS, then bounced to a 97, finishing 6th in the KY Derby. Could bounce back from that number.
Prediction: 7th
Odds: 29-1
Pace: Average throughout.
EPICHARIS is the mystery horse from Japan, who finished a strong 2nd to Thunder Snow in the UAE Derby in Meydan.
Early on, I figured this horse to win…now I figure he’ll hang in there for 4th. Best AWD numbers of the field (Gold Allure/Stapes Mitsuko, out of Carnegie). 2 of his 4 wins have come straight off layoff. Waiting since the UAE Derby to stretch out, nearly 3 months.
Projection: 4th
Odds: 14-1
Pace: Unknown.
PATCH was 2nd in the LA Derby, but not much of a factor in the KY Derby. Does not rank in any of my variables to be a contender.
Prediction: Outside the top 7
Odds: Worse than 29-1
Pace: Fast throughout.

My top contenders:
Twisted Tom, Hollywood Handsome, Irish War Cry, Epicharis, Lookin At Lee, Multiplier.
Overlays: Twisted Tom, Hollywood Handsome, Meantime.