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
bullet.
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.

Belmont Stakes 2016 analysis

Here’s my capsule, horse-by-horse view of the Belmont Stakes:

1 GOVERNOR MALIBU in the money all 7 races lifetime, including wins in the Federico Tesio (a big win among minor tracks) and the Gander. 2nd in the Peter Pan last time out, in his first Graded race. Best speed figure at Belmont of this field with a 94 in the Peter Pan.  A quick 23.6 turn time from that race, and a slower speed figure at that from prior suggests he’s got more in the tank today. Might require a slow, dead pace to win. Track bias should help him out (see Destin)

2 DESTIN won the Tampa Bay Derby and SF Davis along with his maiden debut. 6th in the Run for All Those Roses. As with Governor Malibu, Track bias is favoring early/presser types in routes this meet: 37% have won of his type, and 17% from first 3 posts. Only horse to improve on 2nd call first race after a layoff. 3 works at Belmont since then, 2 very fast. Needs a slow/slowing pace to win.
CHERRY WINE is yet to prove successful at top company, tho he did finish 2nd in the Preakness, 3rd in the Blue Grass and 4th in the Rebel, so he does belong here. With his 100 in the Preakness, he’s likely recovered in full from his winter layoff. Hit gate as he left the track, a miscue which may have cost him the Preakness. Deep closer, great stretch kick is best of this field.
Needs moderate to slow fractions to win.
SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS won the Southwest stakes. 5th in the KY Derby. Full pace recovery, while posting scores in the 90s last 4 races since his 2 months off. Owns 1 prior shipping win and has waited since the KY Derby to stretch from 10 furlongs. Generally needs above average pace for a win.
STRADIVARI won maiden level in 2nd try, then a 62k allowance. Both were won by double digit lengths. 4th in the Preakness.  Very hard to rank him at all, as he is outclassed in all of the variables I use.
6 GETTYSBURG won his 3rd shot at maiden and hasn’t done much since. Todd Pletcher claimed him for this race. Only pure sprinter of the field, and a 2.2 second turn time gain between his last 2 races, leading field in those categories.

7 SEEKING THE SOUL broke maiden last out in his 3rd try. Only early closer of the field. Might bounce, as he increased speed figure by 9 points in both of his last 2 races.

8 FOREVER d’ORO also broke maiden in 3rd try. Has rather tight pattern of Brisnet figures, around 90 for all 3 lifetime races. Still, he seems outclassed here.
9 TROJAN NATION still technically a maiden, was 2nd in the Wood Memorial, 16th in the KY Derby. Only horse attempting to recover from a speed bounce.
10 LANI still a mystery horse tho he did post Brisnets in both of his North American races. 9th in the KY Derby, 5th in the Preakness. Best AWD numbers in the field (Tapit/Heavenly Romance, out of Sunday Silence). 3 Belmont works in prep, last one was very fast.
EXAGGERATOR, your Preakness winner as predicted here, is a classic deep closer, waiting for a pace collapse. Only horse here with small gain past his best at age 2. Winner also of the Santa Anita Derby,Delta Downs Jackpot and the Saratoga Special.  Fastest by pace of this field. Good reliable figure patterns.
BRODY’S CAUSE won the Breeders Futurity and the Blue Grass Stakes. 7th in the KY Derby.  Generally requires a fast pace. 3 shipping wins, and is also stretching out from his KY Derby effort.
CREATOR won the Arkansas Derby and then finished 13th in the KY Derby. Only thing I see in his favor is the fact that he put in 4 works, 1 at Belmont.
Suggested odds for selected horses:  Lani 29-1. Governor Malibu 5-1. Cherry Wine 22-1. Suddenbreakingnews 22-1. Exaggerator 3-1. Gettysburg 7-1. Destin 2-1.  Overlays: Destin, Gettysburg, Governor Malibu.

Top 4: Destin, Exaggerator, Gettysburg, Governor Malibu.

2015 Belmont Stakes, undercard stakes analysis

Today I look at 3 Belmont Stakes Day races, including the big one itself.  The question is not whether American Pharoah can win or not, but if any horse involved is a really serious contender, enough to be a surprise overlay.  Even if such a horse were to be picked 2nd behind AP, that will continue a trend I had overlooked in the prior TC races. Not this time! I’m prepared to seek out great value…and we’ll begin like this. Please know that this entry was written Wednesday, so do expect some changes.  Late breaking matters will always be announced via Twitter at @idealisticstats
One thing I’m seeing about the transition of my systems is not just the identification of contenders, but the further seeking out of overlays. I use my own odds system, based on points I assign leaders of certain variables. From there, I calculate percentage shares of the overall total. Then I translate that to what would be mathematical odds. When the odds at the track or the morning-line are better than my line, then I would stay away from those. I want the horses that the public don’t have much confidence in.
Using my old system alongside the new, I’m presenting  my consensus 3 choices in no particular for 3 of the big races at Beautiful Belmont:

Metropolitan Handicap is a mile on the dirt track for horses 3YO+.
KOBE’S BACK has placings in 2 straight Graded events since he was switched from John Sadler. Fastest turn time of the field, a 109 Brisnet on top of that for this deep closer in the Commonwealth in April at Keeneland. He is the true speed of the field as measured by pace,and he’s the lone closer of any type in this 10-horse field.  That 109 score is about the par Belmont score; I have to wonder whether he might bounce from that.
NOBLE MOON began the year with a competitive 2nd place in an optional-claiming event, this after a winter layoff. Worked out well since then, with 5 works at Belmont, 2 of them very fast, both at 5 furlongs. Moving from sprint to route, having a prior and a decent jockey in Jose Ortiz, there is chance for an upset.
BAY OF PLENTY has 4 wins, 2 2nds in 7 lifetime This is his 2nd Graded effort. Great average-winning-distance numbers(sire is Medaglia D’Oro, damsire AP Indy). Prior win from shedding a good deal of weight (114 lbs on Saturday), and is 3-for-3 at Big Sandy.  Most notably he showed a strong gain in turn-time last time out and still he lost a tiny bit in his speed rating. That has to be a good sign

Compared to morning-line, Noble Moon,Bay Of Plenty and Pants On Fire might not have the public’s confidence, as I think they are actually overlays.

Now to the Manhattan, a Grade 1 event for 4YO +.

GENERAL a ROD has a win straight from layoff, the Challenger at Tampa Bay back in March. Has prior win stretching out, as well as a prior shipping win. Todd Pletcher takes the blinkers off him for this race. Waiting the longest to stretch out; on the bench since April 18.

SLUMBER hasn’t won in over 18 months but has his share of podium finishes.Best AWD scores in the field (sire is the Irish horse Cacique; damsire Sound Asleep). Forged lifetime best 107 2 races back in a Grade 2 event.  I measure this closer as the true speed. Chad Brown adding blinkers. FINNEGANS WAKE has won 3 Graded events in his last 4 races. 6 placings in 9 races at least 10 furlongs,with a top 107 Brisnet. Measured by pace, his closing style may be the top threat to Slumber.   Victor Espinoza and Peter Miller have no record here at the meet just yet. Interesting up-down pattern of Brisnet numbers, and he’s on a nice uptick here.
These are my top picks. I see General a Rod and Slumber as the overlays here..
As for the bigBelmont Stakes, here’s how I see it horse-for-horse:
MUBTAAHIJ is less of a question mark, now with his American debut, largely forgettable, behind him. Top AWD numbers here (sire Dubawi, damsire Pennekamp). Champion runner in Dubai doesn’t register that much for me still,but I like that he skipped the Preakness and worked here at Belmont.  6 works in all, 4 very fast, 1 a bullet. Worth at least 7-2. Overlay.
TALE OF VERVE broke maiden with 95 Brisnet, then was a suprising distant 2nd in the Preakness, ,scoring a 92.  Possible bounce risk there as those are his 2 best scores. Not much interest, as Gary Stevens and Dallas Stewart haven’t been on this Belmont meet yet. 9-1  Overlay
MADEFROMLUCKY won the Peter Pan (Grade 1) here a month ago. As with Tale Of Verve,he enters with a strong lifetime number, and could also bounce from it (99).What I like is his turn time,which showed a strong improvement from his previous, and a time equal to 2 others on its own.  5-1. Overlay.
FRAMMENTO hasn’t won besides a maiden event last year.  Nick Zito has kept him in for about 4 weeks ago, and he actually is removing blinkers for this race. The amount of trainer changes is slightly greater in his favor. Outside chance at 9-1 but worth investing in.
The big fella, AMERICAN PHAROAH you just know will get bet way down. Leads in pace and speed figures. But he’s lacking in other areas despite all this. New jockey/trainer for the meet, decent works tho not at Belmont, and slow turn time. My heart (along with my old system) says yes,but my head cannot absolutely make this a lock-cinch.
The way I feel about AP is the way I feel about FROSTED. Similar circumstances, tho in a different direction. On the uptick in an up-down pace pattern. Nice turn-time improvement. He will be fastest among the early closers. Doesn’t rank well in numbers compared to others but form certainly is better.  Hard for me to leave him out but I must.
KEEN ICE also has had much trouble in Graded company. Doesn’t rank in numbers at all, and Desormeaux and Romans have no record here yet. Based on dosage profile, this horse actually matches best among those who won here last year. Still,a reach at best.
MATERIALITY is intriguing….follows a pace pattern whereas he’s likely to bounce up from a 91 6th place finish in the Run for the Roses.  Suffered the most trouble among those coming in with a slow start and wide turn. Interestingly his turn time improved last out while suffering a lower speed figure.

Idealistic Stats podcast, 6/4/15

Idealistic Stats is an extension of my sports/stats/analysis blog at http://www.idealisticstats.wordpress.com
On this podcast, usually delivered early Thursday mornings, I focus on major sports events for the week, and air some appropriate music from top indie and emerging recording artists.

To hear this podcast, go to one of these websites:
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Topics on this program covered:
PGA’s US Open at Chambers Bay
Boxing: Miguel Cotto vs Daniel Geale
Belmont Park major stakes races for Saturday

Music heard on this edition:
Opening: Annie Wenz “Play Ball” – Ride The Sky CD http://www.anniewenz.com
David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket “Change Reaction” – Essential Songs Of Philadelphia: Sessions CD http://www.songsinthepocket.org
Revel 9 “San Jose” – The Razorblade Diaries EP http://www.revel9.com

All content is free to share through Creative Commons License version
4.0. More information at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thanks for listening!

Dan Herman
idealisticstats.wordpress.com
dan@radiocrystalblue.net

2014 Belmont Stakes prediction

In my heart of hearts, I do want to see a Triple Crown superhorse It will be something somehat beneficial for the sport, tho horse racing can really improve when the calendar of races outside the Derby Trail and the Breeders Cup gani larger importance.
Let’s go horse by horse for the Belmont:

MEDAL COUNT: Winner of the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland. Ran 3 consecutive lifetime tops in the Fountain Of Youth, Transylvania and Blue Grass Stakes, then a near pair-up in the Kentucky Derby. Actually it’s a triple up…running 94 to 97 the last 3 races, above an 89 in the Fountain Of Youth. This horse is outclassed outside of pace progression. My odds: worse than 14-1. No shot.

 
CALIFORNIA CHROME shares rank of best class.No surprise, winnning the Santa Anita Derby and 2/3 of the Triple Crown. He has 2 wins from an inside post…same trips as he had in the KY Derby and Belmont. I can’t factor him as an absolute lock because there are other horses that fit into better categories but he obviously must be factored. 7-1. Value pick.
 
MATTERHORN won a 75k maiden race in first start, was 4th in the Peter Pan with a new lifetime best far beyond his lone 2YO start. This is one horse whom I ranked as having strong pedigree that matches the chef-de-race idea for winners at Belmont. Sire is Tapit, who had won the Laurel Futurity and the Wood Memorial in 2003. Dam is multiple stakes winner Winter Garden. ROI angle: Joe Bravo has paired up in 42 races with Todd Pletcher in last 60 days, with 42% wins, 63% in the money, for return of + 4.14. 13-1. Dark horse.
 
COMMANDING CURVE hasn’t won anything outside of his maiden win in his 4th lifetime start. Forged lifetime best of 98 in the Lousiana Derby, and 101 in the Kentucky Derby in last two race. Could represent a bounce today. Odds: Worse than 14-1. No shot.

RIDE ON CURLIN lacks class of field…winning simply a 50k allowance in 3YO debut, but has contended in 4 Graded races since. This is the one horse in the field who is only now progressing past his 2YO best. His first race, back in July of 2013, was a 30k maiden win, with a dazzling 102 Brisnet. Only in the Preakness did he do any better, a 103. This indicates he can do even better today. Last 4 races have ranged from 96 to 103. Sure, he’s a closer but he’ll truly find his stride today. 4-1. Contender.

 
MATUSZAK also has just won his first race at the maiden level and managed to compete in some minor stakes events at mid-major tracks. He is also a deep closer, dependent on one big run and I feel he will get that run. Should he get the right trip, his stretch kick will dominate this field. Best work tab of the field too: 5 works at Belmont, 2 of those with a bullet. 3-1. Contender.

SAMRAAT after winning first 5 lifetime was second in the Wood Memorial, 5th in the KY Derby. I don’t see a single variable that mentions him at all. Worse than 14-1. No shot.

COMMISSIONER won just twice but nothing of any class. 2nd in the Peter Pan on this track. Best jockey/trainer win % combo of the field (Castellano, 22%; Pletcher, 27%). Ilke that he spiked to a 102 Brisnet in the Peter Pan, tho he can bounce from that. Also, both of his wins are from a middle post, right where he is now. 6-1. Value horse.

 
WICKED STRONG won the Wood Memorial, 4th in the KY Derby. This is the other horse who has won at Grade 1. ROI angle: James Jerkens has saddled 27% winners out of 44 races, 55% in the money, for return of +2.12. Odds: 11-1. Dark horse.

GENERAL A ROD won the Gulfstream Park Derby, ungraded back on New Year’s Day, no wins since, tho had competed well at the Florida tracks. None of my variables rank him with any edge here today. Worse than 14-1. No shot.

TONALIST may be seen as the big threat to Chrome’s Triple Crown shot. 4th in his maiden debut with an 85, then maiden breaker of 93, 2nd in an optional claimer at 75k, also with a 93, then a big win in the Peter Pan with a 107 score. Best average winning distance from pedigree (Tapit out of Pulpit, and Settling Mist out of Derby/Preakness winner Pleasant Colony). The 107 is the best Belmont performance of the field. Having forged that lifetime best, he can bounce but cannot be ruled out. Also shows the best trip among this field coming in. Odds: 6-1. Contender.

So, with some controversy, here’s my top 5:
6 Matuszak
5 Ride On Curlin
11 Tonalist
8 Commissioner
2 California Chrome.

Busy day for me today….handicapping the races at Pimlico and major races at Belmont today for www.theracingbiz.com 4th leg of a contest series. I’ve already received 2 entries to a grand prize drawing where the top 2 winners receive prizes tied into Maryland Millions Day in October. Also, I’m still in the Survival At The Shore contest at Monmouth Park, plus the meet-long contest at Emerald Downs.  

Belmont Stakes 2012 analysis

A Belmont without I’ll Have Another? I suppose I’ll deal with it. And deal we shall as I go through this year’s big race:

STREET LIFE: He will get help from the track bias. Route races on dirt at Belmont are skewed toward pure sprinters and all horses on the rail. He is on the rail tho a dead closer. He’s also the fastest horse in the field, with quick moves in the stretch each time out. Possibility of bouncing in speed from his 3rd place Peter Pan Stakes finish, going from 94 to 100.

UNSTOPPABLE U is one of the sprinters that will benefit from the track bias. He will set the early pace. He did win his last race, 2nd lifetime, a mile on 4/27 winning by 6 lengths. 2-for-2 lifetime. It’s just a matter of stretching out 4 more furlongs.
UNION RAGS comes out of a 7th place finish in the KY Derby. Winner of last year’s G1 Champagne Stakes, he has the fastest Brisnet win on the track, a 98 from that race.
ATIGUN is the one horse exploding into form. In his last race, a 100k optional claimer he scored a 96, just past his 3YO best of 95.
DULLAHAN has a win at 9 furlongs, the G1 Blue Grass Stakes. Forged lifetime best 105 last time out in the KY Derby.
RAVELO’S BOY is an absolute throwout.
FIVE SIXTEEN broke his maiden 2 races back in a 9 furlong 65k race at Aqueduct, 3/14. This might be the horse best in form. He forged a lifetime best of 92 in his last race, a 67k allowance on 4/18. Jockey Anna Napravnik and trainer Dominick Schettino have combined to run 6 races in the last 60 days, winning 1, in the money in 2, for an ROI of +3.33.
GUYANA STAR DWEEJ has the best dosage profile of the field (Eddington/Special Feeling, by Pine Bluff).
PAYNTER forged lifetime best of 107 in a 50k allowance race at Pimlico, 5/19.
OPTIMIZER has this ROI angle: Jockey Nakatani and trainer Lukas have combined for 7 races in the last 60 days, winning 2 races, for ROI of +3.86.
MY ADONIS has the best jockey/trainer combo in the field with RA Dominguez winning at 27% for the meet, and Kelly Brown winning at 40% (2-for-5). He comes out of the ungraded Canonero II 50k Stakes, losing a speed duel in the stretch.
Selections:
1-7-3 Street Life, Five Sixteen, Union Rags.

Second guess: Unstoppable U deserves another look among the rest of the longshots.