Enlightened Derby Trail 2019-2020 first look

Having completed a move from WA to non-DAW TX, I’ve found the time to post and link the first draft of the next EDT season.
Here’s how the spreadsheet looks:
Retama Park and Sweetwater Downs are off; the rest remain on the calendar as compared to last year’s 2YO season. The 3YO season remains intact, laying in wait until the individual tracks make their announcements. I source these details from the Bloodhorse Stakes Calendar page.
Belmont Stakes was a huge success, as I picked the trifecta box of Sir Winston, Tacitus and Joevia.  Keeping finances at a minimum, I did not play any races this day, but it would have been a nice payout of $22.40 for the win, and $1244 for the trifecta.

As DAWs are not allowed in TX, I have virtually nowhere to wager online in the state. I’d have to visit Lone Star Park, I suppose.  Outside of that, there’s the DerbyWars website, which is more head-to-head, and does involve $ in tournaments.   Sure wish legislation in TX would change their minds.   One bill was introduced to get wagering going again:

There’s one website I miss that allowed people to compete for glory, giving out points for the best mutuel picks. It folded a few years ago. Anyone remember?

2019 Belmont Stakes analysis

I’ve been away from covering sports, as I’m focused on moving from WA to TX. The Lone Star State beckons with opportunity to grow in my day career. The side career with handicapping I fully intend to continue once I do have a firmer financial footing.
Meanwhile, the Belmont Stakes is this Saturday. Avoiding the stacked undercard, here’s my capsule thoughts on each horse.

JOEVIA
WInner of the Long Branch at Monmouth on a sloppy track. Prior to this, was 7th in the Wood Memorial. 2nd in the Private Terms and Jimmy Winkfield (99 BRIS for the latter). Lone sprinter of the field. From 49 route races at Belmont during the meet, 45% have been sprinters and from posts 1-7.
Predictions: 2nd
My odds: 7-2
EVERFAST
One win in 11 starts, his maiden debut last summer. Increased from 86 to 94 last time out, finishing 2nd in the Preakness. That 94 score matched his lifetime best.
Concerning the gain, he will likely take more $ than others.
Prediction: 8th.
MASTER FENCER
Finally figured something about him since his 7th place result in the Kentucky Derby. He managed a 95 Brisnet score. Julien Leparoux and Koichi Tsunoda haven’t yet appeared at Belmont yet.
Prediction: 10th and last.

TAX was 15th in the Kentucky Derby, bouncing from 3 triple figure scores to an 83. Prior shipping win, prior stretchout win, off since May 4.
Prediction: 6th
BOURBON WAR: 8th in the Preakness, bounced from 94 to 85. Only late closer in the field. Also, only horse here 2nd after layoff who increased at 1st or 2nd call.
Prediction: 5th
SPINOFF was in contention in each of 4 lifetime starts before a tough 18th place finish in the KY Derby. Similar to Tax, there’s reason for a bounce back, owing to prior shipping and stretchout wins, plus the one month layoff.
Prediction: 7th.
SIR WINSTON won his 2 lifetime races at Woodbine last fall at age 2. No success yet in his Graded efforts in 2019, tho his BRIS numbers have climbed for the most part. Peaked at 101 last time out, finishing 2nd in the Peter Pan here at Belmont. That race proved he had shaken off enough rust following a winter layoff. It also was a rather wide trip.
Odds:7-1. Overlay
Prediction: 2nd.
INTREPID HEART won his first 2 starts, then finished 3rd in the Peter Pan, with scores from 91 to 96 between all 3. Does not rank in any of my variables.
Prediction: 9th

WAR OF WILL, your Preakness winner, continues to have best AWD numbers of his fields (War Front/Visions Of Clarity, out of Sadler’s Wells). Unfortunately, he doesn’t rank anywhere else in my variables.
Odds: 29-1
Prediction: 4th

TACITUS ranks as the true speed of the field. Last 3 BRIS numbers: 96, 103, 95, a solid pattern. Never worse than 4 in all 5 starts. Also owns prior shipping and stretchout wins, and last raced a month ago. Best works of the field, 3 at Belmont, all fast, 1 a bullet.
Odds: 1-1
Prediction: Winner

Top 3: 10-1-7 Tacitus, Joevia, Sir Winston.
Overlays: Joevia, Sir Winston
ABC: 10/1,7/9

Tacitus and War of Will should be used as likely favorites over the likely overlays (whom I also would play straight wins on)

Preakness Stakes analysis, selections

 

1 WAR OF WILL
Odds: 44-1
Rank: 8th
Placed 8th in the KY Derby, finishing with another 94 score,
close to his career best. Best AWD numbers (War
Front/Visions Of Clarity, out of Sadler’s Wells). One of four
horses who will be taking less money than others, which
makes his chalk position somewhat weaker.

2 BOURBON WAR
Odds: 10-1
Rank: 4th
Last raced in the Florida Derby back on 3/30; stretches out
half a furlong. Never finding much success in stakes races.
Only horse in the field with success first off layoff or a
winning debut race. This late closer has the best tactical
speed of the field. He requires an average pace early that
slows down later. Adds blinkers for the first time. Will
likely be ignored in the wagering.

3 WARRIOR’S CHANGE is one of three I’m absolutely
throwing out. Winner of his 4th maiden race and a 75k
non-winners of two OC race last out. Last race, in fact, was
a huge 99. I like the big number tho also must respect the
bounce pattern.

4 IMPROBABLE
Odds: 44-1
Rank: 9th.
Got 4th place last time out in the KY Derby. Best BRIS
speed for the distance. Besides this, no real factor today.

5 OWENDALE
This horse I’m considering a throwout. Won the Grade 3
Lexington last time out with a big 99. Prior, he won the
Risen Star; prior to that, an 84 in the Grade 2 Risen Star on
2/16. Big bounce risk here which I fully anticipate.

6 MARKET KING
Odds: 14-1. Overlay.
Rank: 7th.
Cold rank with bettors, finishing way out in the Blue Grass
last time out, and 3rd in the Grade 2 Rebel before this, with
a new top of 88. He is the lone sprinter of the field.
Probably needs to run with a fast pace all throughout. 4
works in prep, all very fast.

7 ALWAYSMINING
Odds: 14-1
Rank: 5th
7 of 12 lifetime, including 6 straight, all in classy races at
Laurel. Definitely the speed of the field, with scores
ranging from 87 to 99 in those 6 wins. Last 3 races: 99, 99,
98. Gains 4 lbs to carry for Daniel Centeno. He had
broken maiden with the same adjustment last year.

8 SIGNALMAN
Odds: 2-1
Rank: 1st
The horse I project to win hasn’t run since being 3rd in the
Blue Grass on 4/6, with a strong 97 and a wide trip early. 4
works in prep, all very fast, with 1 bullet.

9 BODEXPRESS
Odds: 7-1 Overlay.
Rank: 3rd
He was placed 13th in the KY Derby, bouncing in pace to
83. Prior to this, he scored a small new top, running 2nd in
the Florida Derby. I’d play the bounceback angle on him.

10 EVERFAST
This is the 3rd of my throwouts, no surprise in that his
morning-line odds are 50-1. I actually cannot find any
angle he has advantages on.

11 LAUGHING FOX
Odds 14-1
Rank: 6th
Running only at Oaklawn Park since turning 3, he comes
out of a small new top of 96 in the OP Invitiational. Prior,
he scored a 90 in the Arkansas Derby. Slight bounce risk
here. Ricardo Santana Jr returns to ride after RA Vaqzuez’s
turn last time out. He will likely be ignored in the wagering.

12 ANOTHERTWISTAFATE
Odds: 4-1
Rank: 2nd
1st or 2nd in all of his races save his maiden debut. Last
race was a 2nd place finish, 97 BRIS, in the Grade 3
Lexington. He had some trouble early in the race; maybe he
could have won. Great pace pattern; last 3 races were 97
to 99.

13 WIN WIN WIN is also considered a toss. 10th last time
out in the KY Derby. Just doesn’t rank with these horses on
any of my variables.

Top 3: 8-12-9. Signalman, Anothertwistafate, Bodexpress.
Overlays: Market King, Signalman, Bodexpress.
Taking less money than others: War Of Will, Bourbon Of
War, Laughing Fox.
ABC chart: 8/12,9,2/1,4,6,7,11

Preakness Day stakes undercard analysis/picks 5/18/19

GALORETT STAKES

Top 3: 7-2-6 In The Lee, Inflexibility, Hogans Holiday
Overlay: In The Lee, Hogan’s Holiday
Odds: In The Lee 7-5; Inflexibility 4-1; Hogan’s Holiday 7-1; I’m So Fancy/Viva Vegas 10-1; Mitchell Road 14-1
Money movers: Horses taking more $: I’m So Fancy, Mitchell Road
Horses taking less: Hogans Holiday, In The Lee, Viva Vegas, Barkaa
ABC chart: 7,2/6/1,8,4

In The Lee has 4 wins in 10 races lifetime. Gained from 77 BRIS to 88 last time out in an 87k allowance at Keeneland. One prior win was from a 5 lb. gain in weight carried. It was 1st off layoff, with a gain at 2nd call and some improvement on the leader at that point. Takes on 4 lbs more today. Waiting 5 weeks to stretch out in distance.

Hogan’s Holiday has 5 wins in 15. Won a 75k ungraded stakes event last November, and had better success vs optional claimers. Fully recovered in pace by early March, following a 7 week layoff. She reached his peak with a 96 in the Grade 3 Honey Fox. That race was a small new top that she’s still under influence of.

CHICK LANG STAKES:

Top 3: 8-3-7 Preamble, Malpais, Pyron
Overlay: Lexitonian
Odds: Preamble 2-1; Malpais 4-1; Gladiator King/Pyron 5-1; Lexitonian 9-1
Horses taking less $:Lexitonian, Gladiator King
ABC chart: 8/3,7/6,1

No real value in this race, as I do predict a chalk finish. The one I like here for value is Lexitonian. Winner of his maiden debut with an 81, he dropped to 70, finishing 6th in the Sanford. With 7 weeks off he finished 5th and 78 BRIS in a 75k optional claimer. Following trainer change from Todd Pletcher to Jack Sisterson, plus 6 months off, Lexitonian raced at Churchill on Derby Day, same class as previous race. He did finish 5th but scored an impressive 91. He had to run wide in that race, so it’s possible he could have ran faster.
You have to credit him for his performance first after layoff.

DIXIE STAKES
Top 3: 4-10-7 Paret, O Dionysus, Real Story
Overlays:These three, plus Just Howard
Odds: Just Howard 5-2; Paret 3-1; O Dionysus 7-2; Real Story 9-2; Catholic Boy 19-1
Horses taking more $: Just Howard, Real Story, O Dionysus, Inspector Lynley
Horses taking less $: Catholic Boy.
ABC chart: 2,7,10,4/12
Catholic Boy appears to be a false favorite in a race with a number of directions for value.
Paret has exclusively raced in Australia, in top handicap event. He gets Lasix for the first time, and takes a positive drop in weight carried. He had previously won with this variable in place. He’s also waiting since March to stretch out.

O Dionysus had won 2 events last year at Del Mar and an optional claimer here at Pimlico prior. Last time out in the 100k Henry Clark, he ran a small new top of 94, albeit wide throughout. Running first after layoff, he surpassed his prior 2nd call scores, plus gained a bit on the leader.
Real Story was 2nd last time out in the Henry Clark, first time vs 3YOs. Prior to this, 2nd again in an 75k OC race. 9th prior to this in the Secretariat. Won a Grade 3 race at Arlington on 7/7. Last 3 races, the BRIS scores were 93 through 96. Only horse with exploding/forging pace in the field. I rate this sprinter as the true speed. His own effort last time out in the Henry Clark was also a bit compromised, as he had to survive bumping at the start.

Just Howard has had rather mixed blessings in his career. Last won vs 25k optional claimers last August with a dazzling 100, best of the distance of today’s field. Prior to that he had won the 2017 Commonwealth Derby and the Find, both at Laurel. Best AWD numbers here (English Channel/Aruban Sandwich, out of Alphabet Soup). He also had a quality run in the Henry Clark, and had to be steadied late in the race. He ran with improved numbers first after layoff, and gained 1 length on leader by the 2nd call.

Preakness thoughts in the next post!

Pimlico stakes selections 5/17/19

Typing this, 11 days after the debacle that was the result of this year’s Kentucky Derby, I feel a bit shell-shocked. How does this happen, at this time, this DQ, and the fallout of drama after? How must this incident continue to be so controversial? People fear the breaking of tradition, as though something were truly lost. The loss, in this case, is that this American spectacle was tarnished because of a DQ, and that it happened to the very marginal favorite, in a race with so many suitors, in adverse weather. And, the eventual winner was 65-1. Not exactly a storybook ending like Mine That Bird.
Or, is it? Maybe it is a script. Maybe the favorite had to win, yet again, and still the trailing horse takes down the money and causes uproar in Vegas.
I am hurt by all this drama. I’m also hurt because I lost all that money I wagered that day and the future wager pools. The only way I would have won is if Improbable would have nosed out Tacitus. Field selections from the future wagers are treated as coupled entries for sake of the race. Maximum Security was one of my exacta plays from the Pool 3 field, before and after certain horses. Country House was as well. But Tacitus was already a player with his own odds, and that 3rd place positioning cost me that exacta.
I also lost out in the KY Oaks. In fact, Serengeti Empress, the winner, was not in my final 14 horse selection. She had to have enough points from her division. She did have some points for winning the Rachel Alexandra. By virtue of nothing more than an increase in purse, I rank the Fair Grounds Oaks the one points race for that track. She did not score in that race. From her lack of points, she should not have been in the actual Oaks.
This breach of my system is the reason I have the system in place. I deal with one representative race per track (Breeders Cup the lone exception). The sport can’t be top-heavy with multiple races at one track, let alone one geographic region, to tip the scaling of points for the real Trail.

With all that typed, the drama does find its way to Baltimore and to Pimlico, which may or may not be . the future site of the Preakness Stakes beyond 2020. In this blog I’m covering 4 of the races for the Friday card, and 4 more for Saturday.

ADENA SPRINGS MISS PREAKNESS
Top 3: 7-4-11: Miss Imperial, Please Flatter Me, Fighting Mad
Overlays: Miss Imperial, Please Flatter Me, Best Kept Secret (also-eligible)
Odds: Miss Imperial 5-2; Please Flatter Me 9-2; Fighting Mad 5-1; Midnight Fantasy 9-1; Bye Bye J/Best Kept Secret 11-1; Covfefe 14-1.
$ movers: Taking less usual: Congrats Gal, Miss Imperial, Tomlin, Fighting Mad. No horses will be taking more than normal in the wagering.
ABC chart: 7/4,10,11,12,13/3,5,8,9

Miss Imperial finished 5th in her debut, then after a 3 month layoff won her next maiden start, and an optional-claimer race following claim by Jason Servis. Sticking with Manuel Franco and racing sprints at Aqueduct, she finished 2nd in the Ruthless and Cicada Stakes. Peaked last time out with a 93 score, a small new top beyond her 2YO best. She appears to have the best tactical speed of the field (last 3 2nd call numbesrs were triple-digits). Last 3 Brisnet numbers overall: 90, 88, 93. Ran typically wide race in her last 4, so there’s every reason she can improve from her last effort.

Please Flatter Me won her first 3 races, including the Blue Mountain Juvenile and the Gin Talking, then was 4th last out in the Busher, her route debut. 5 works at Pimlico, 1 very fast.

Best Kept Secret enters if there are scratches. Big forward gain in pace to 89, winning a 30k allowance race at Evangeline Downs last month. She had switched from route to sprint for that race. She is a bounce risk but she had won with a cutback in distance, so 1 less furlong may help her chances that much more.

HILLTOP STAKES:
Top 3: 4-5-9 Cover Photo, Dogtag, Introduced
Overlays: Cover Photo, Souper Escape
Odds: Cover Photo 3-1; Dogtag 9-2; Introduced 7-1; Makeme Dream/Souper Escape 8-1; Nova Sol, Fashion Faux Pas, Be Nimble 14-1.
$ movers: Taking on more: Introduced. Taking less $: Fashion Faux Pas, Cover Photo, Souper Escape.
ABC: 4/5,9,6,14,2,13/3

Cover Photo might be the big longshot here but I like her most. Dreadful first maiden race, then 2 months later finishes a respectable 5th with a 70 BRIS. Following trainer change to Trombetta, finally breaks maiden in 3rd lifetime race on a muddy Laurel track. Breaks out to an 82 last time out vs 25k optional claimers, on a ‘good’ track. One of two fillies here to have a recent new top. Only late closer in the field; she needs a strong fast pace ahead to win out.
Introduced already will get some favorable looks because of the tactical speed. Lifetime 1st call numbers: 90, 105, 98, 105. Owns the fastest turf speed of the field, a 93, set 2 races back, nosed out for the win in the Stewart Manor. After 4 month layoff, bounced from that 93 to an 83 in a 50k optional claimer. This filly has the best speed pattern of the field as well.
Souper Escape won her 2nd lifetime race and first route, with an 84. Debut on turf and vs 75k optional claimers, she finished 5th yet improved to an 87. Cutting back to a sprint for the Gasparlla at Tampa Bay, she posted a 76. Last time out, 3 months away, back on turf and a route, she nosed out a win with an 82 vs 50k optional claimers. The 1st and 2nd call numbers were a huge improvement.

PIMLICO SPECIAL
Top 3: 4-12-9 Carlino, Wait For It, Unbridled Juan
Overlays: 4,12, 9
Odds: Carlino 2-1; Wait For It 3-1; Unbridled Juan/War Story 7-1; Flameaway 9-1; Just Whistle 29-1
$ movers: Taking on more $:War Story, Carlino. Taking on less $: Just Whistle, Bobby G, Wait For It.
ABC: 1,4,12,9/ 11/3,6,7,10,13,14

Carlino should be an interesting choice for value, perhaps the wiseguy horse in a race that promises a lot of value. He’s been away since September, finishing 4th in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. This deep closer has the best tactical speed of the field. Last 3 late pace numbers: 111, 94, 80. A ton of works at GP during the layoff, and most very fast. Concerned about the possible bounce and rust factor.
Wait For It not a very obvious choice. 6 wins out of 15 in his career. Peaked last time out with a 102 in a 50k allowance race. Prior to this was a 98, finishing 3rd at same class on a muddy Parx track. Only horse in the field with both exploding and forging pace. He’s the true speed of the field. Last 3 BRIS numbers: 102, 98, 94. He’s waited longest of those stretching out to the classic 10-furlong distance.
Unbridled Juan has a strong lifetime record of 30-7-9-9. Last year, this 7YO won ungraded stakes at Laurel and Del Mar. Mixed blessings this year, running routes vs fellow older horses, scoring a 101 3 races back. The difference here is that he gets back regular rider Alex Cintron.

MISS PREAKNESS:
Top 3: 3-6-4 Ulele, Always Shopping, Cookie Dough.
Overlays: Ulele
Odds: Ulele 7-5; Brill 4-1; Always Shopping 9-2; Point Of Honor 10-1; Cookie Dough 14-1; Our Super Freak 44-1
$ movers: Taking on more $: Point Of Honor. Taking less $: Ulele.
ABC: 3/6/4,7,1
Ulele is the lone filly here with exploding and forging pace: Her 87 last time out vs 75k optional claimer fillies was 87, just beyond her 2YO best of 85. Already a winner stretching out in distance, plus getting a shipping win, she is definitely a good one to land.

Final (?) 2018-2019 Enlightened Derby Trail results (5/3/19)

Scratches to Haikal and Omaha Beach have changed my outlook on the ideal Derby field. Here’s what changes took place:
Minors: Anothertwistafate was taken off the Trail. Into my mythical field goes Six Shooter.
Heartland: Omaha Beach scratched. He gathered all his points in the Heartland division. Improbable already qualified with enough points out of the Cali division, so I went down to the horse with the next amount of points in the Heartland, Country House.
Haikal’s scratch does not impact the Northeast division at all.
Comparing my current top 20 to the 19 that are starting, I match 11 of them.

Spreadsheet looks like this:

2019 Kentucky Oaks undercard picks

As promised, here’s my take on the Oaks Day undercard:

Race 1: 8-3-9: Luck Of The Draw, Off Sixes, Coworker.

Off Sixes first of the value horses to be considered. Showed exploding/forging pace in last race with an 85 BRIS score, 2nd time beyond 1 mile. In fact, last 3 races have best pattern of these horses, all runs in the 80s. Ran 3 wide in last start yet finished 2nd. Prior win while cutting back in distance, only horse here to do so.

Race 2: 2-1-7 Awestruck, Annathela, Sultry.
Sultry recovering in pace following an 11-month layoff. Lone late closer of this field. Posted an 84 last time out, with a slow start, in a race she might have otherwise won.
Race 3: 3-1-4: Lady Kate, Shacklette, Mo Gayle.
Shacklette owns the best work tab of the field; 2 races here at CD, both very fast.

Race 4: 15-9-3. A race with many AE and MTO horses, so this is very difficult to get correct until changes are solid. Valdolobo has raced exclusively in top company in GB. Makes his US debut as well as receiving Lasix for the first time. Waiting since last October to stretch from a sprint race. A good deal of works as well in prep.

Race 5: 2-4-9 Proud Emma, Break Even, Mother Mother.
Proud Emma owns best AWD numbers of these: Include/Debutante Dreamer, out of Proud Citizen. Full pace recovery since 2 month layoff. Small new top of 90 last time out, 4th in the 9 furlong Gazelle at Aqueduct. She ran a bit wide in the turns, so there’s some possibility she could have finished better. Mike Smith returns to ride her, pilot of 2 of her 3 lifetime wins.

Race 6: 5-6-7 Concrete Rose, New Roo, Destiny Over Fate
Concrete Rose has 3 wins in 4, racing in the 80s range in BRIS speed. Winner of the Jessamin and Florida Oaks, 8th in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. I like the close pace pattern of her races. Also, she’s the lone early closer, requiring a fast early place that slows somewhat.

Race 7: 10-4-8 Silver Dust, Casino Star, Seeking The Soul.
Silver Dust enters with 4 works at CD, each very fast, one a bullet.

Race 8: 2-7-3 Blue Prize, Teresa Z, Divine Miss Grey

Teresa Z had won the Monmouth Oaks in 2017, and the Obeah and 2 other stakes events in 2018. In fact, 2 races back, she posted a strong 104. Best AWD numbers here (Smart Strike/With Flying Colors, out of AP Indy). Only early closer in the field; she needs a fast pace early that collapses to an average pace late. 5 works since last, 3 very fast, 1 a bullet.

Race 9: 3-11-15 Cummings, Tiz Mischief, Soul Streit.
Cummings 1st off layoff goes up in class vs optional claimers. Forged new lifetime best 2 races back with an 89. Best workouts of the field…5 in all, 2 at CD, 3 straight bullets.
Watch for revisions of these picks by Friday. I will cover races 1 through 9 plus the KY Oaks via twitter at @idealisticstats.