Stephen Foster Handicap analysis

The Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs is a race for 3YO+, 9 furlongs, with a 500k purse, at the Grade 1 level.
My top 3 horses here are 6-2-9…Backyard Heaven, Patch and Pavel.
Overlays: Patch, Lookin At Lee.
Patch won his 2nd maiden race with a 101 score, was 2nd in the Louisiana Derby with a 98, then bounced in the KY Derby. He would finish 3rd in the Belmont, then 4th in the WV Derby, then won an allowance race last month debuting as a 4YO. He is the only early closer in this race.
Lookin At Lee comes out of a 62.5k optional claimer win here at CD, scoring a 98, a small new top that was just better than his runs in the Triple Crown races.Slight possibility of a bounce, as he paired his 98 with a 95 in the Oaklawn, ahead of an 88 in another allowance race. 4 works here at Churchill in prep.

I plan to use Lookin At Lee and Patch for wins, and use under Backyard Heaven for exactas. Lots of ways to score, as I’d likely use Pavel with some exactas here as well, assuming the ML odds.

2018 Belmont Day stakes races analysis

Lots to get to for this 10-stake Belmont Stakes Day…so, as scratches/changes get posted, I’ll update this post. Let’s get started! For brevity’s sake I’ll just post thoughts on my top valued choice, as well as mention overlays.

Race 2 is the Easy Goer, 8.5 furlongs, 150k purse for leading 3YOs. Top 3 are 5-8-4…..Prince Lucky, High North and Soutache. Overlays: Prince Lucky, Soutache. One of 2 races today where I expect any favorite to finish no better than 3rd, if at all. Prince Lucky won 3 of his first 4 races lifetime, then had some trouble in classier races. Last race was 5/19 in the Sir Barton at Pimlico, running 3rd with an 87, and a wide, shifting trip. It was an improvement on his prior race, 2 months following layoff, with a faster 2nd call time, and a slight gain on the leader. Hopefully something to build upon today.
UPDATE: Mask is now my 2nd choice here.

Race 3 is the Ogden Phipps, Grade 1 event worth 750k, fillies/mares 4YO+ going 8.5 furlongs. Top 3 are 5-1-2…American Gal, Unbridled Mo, and Ivy Bell. Overlays are Ivy Bell and Unchained Melody. Ivy Bell has been 1st or 2nd in 12 of 14 lifetime. Comes out of 2 stellar efforts since claim by Todd Pletcher, a 98 in the Humana Distaff, and a 100 in winning the Inside Information. One of several with recent new tops in pace. Only horse here who is improving after first run after layoff. Gained very well at 2nd call speed and slightly better vs leader.
UPDATE: Following changes, top 3 are now 1-4-2….Unbridled Mo, Pacific Wind and Ivy Bell.

Race 4 is the Acorn, for top 3YO fillies going 1 mile, 700k. Top 3 are the favored Monomoy Girl and Caledonia Road, then the overlay Starcloud.3-5-6. In a race that otherwise might be worth passing, Starcloud is the worst per odds of this 7 horse field. But I happen to like her. Winner of 4 of 5 lifetime, including the Game Face last out at Gulfstream, with a strong 96. Off for 7 weeks, she’s freshest among those stretching out. Switching jockeys back to regular rider Albin Jiminez.

Race 5 is the Brooklyn Invitational, for 4YOs +, going 12 furlongs in this Grade 2 event. Top 3 are 9-4-5….War Story, Take Your Guns, and Mills. Overlays are Mills and Giant Payday. My reason for liking the big longshot is his 3 local works, plus a strong 4 length gain on leaders in his last race, the Mr Sinatra on 3/31.

Race 6 is the Jaipur for 4YOs +, a 6 furlong turf race at Grade 2, worth 400k. I have confidence in just 2…Disco Partner and Pure Sensation, 5-2. Probably the weakest of today’s races, I like Pure Sensation for value. 17 of 26 races in the money, the 7 year old is 2 races removed from his lifetime best of 102, in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint. He’s the only horse who could bounce back in pace. Jockey switch back to Kendrick Carmouche, his regular rider.

Race 7 is the Woody Stephens, for 3YOs going 7 furlongs and a 400k purse. Top 3 are 12-11-2…Strike Power, World Of Trouble, and overlay Pure Shot. Pure Shot I am playing strictly from a track bias point of view….in 16 races at this distance during the meet, 6 were won by pure sprinters, and 3 by posts 1-3. Adds blinkers for the first time. Also jockey switch back to Ricardo Santana Jr. The other overlay here is Beautiful Shot.

Race 8 is the Longines Just A Game…turf mile for fillies/mares 4YO+, Grade 1. Top 3 are Off Limits, Dream Dancing (overlay), and Proctor’s Ledge (3-2-5). Dream Dancing is the big longshot at 20-1 in this field of 8. She is one of 2 who have posted a recent small new top as her year’s best…96 and 4th last out in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill on Derby Day. It was a nice improvement after being off for 12 weeks, with an 11 point gain in speed figure by 2nd call, and 1.5 lengths on the leader.

Race 9 is the Met Mile, Grade 1 event for 3YO+. Top 3 are 10-4-9….Bee Jersey, McCraken and Warrior’s Club. This is the other race to eliminate favorites out of in the top 2. Bee Jersey began his career running at Dubai in 2016, then found much better success here in the US….103 lifetime best 2 races ago in an optional claimer 62k race, then a 106 while winning a Grade 3 event at Lone Star on 5/6. He’s the lone sprinter of the field. Also, 11 of 39 races run as dirt miles during the meet have been won by pure sprinters, and 7 from posts 8 and out. Warrior’s Club is the overlay in this race.

Race 10 is the $1 million Manhattan, Grade 1 event for top 4YOs+, going 10 furlongs on the inner turf. Another great handicapping race, with lots of contenders and ways oto score. Top 3 are longshot/overlay Fashion Business, Beach Patrol and Channel Maker (overlay too, along with One Go All Go and Hello Don Julio). 7-10-9. Fashion Business I like most based on her 40k optional claimer last out, a 92 run after an 8 month was a slight improvement at 2nd call plus a few lengths against the leader at that point, en route to winning that race.

Race 11 is the big Belmont Stakes itself, and the opportunity for Justify to be a truly immortal horse. I do like him outright, followed by Vino Rosso and Gronkowski. Overlays are those latter two plus Restoring Hope. Vino Rosso bounced from his Wood Memorial win to 9th in the KY Derby. One of several who should bounce back in pace. I like his pattern of recent speed figures: 91, 102, 91, 100. Triple digit run today? Despite the bounce, he did make some ground at 2nd call vs Justify. 1-8-6

2018 Preakness Stakes analysis/selections

Now for the boys’ turn, as I give you a capsule, horse-by-horse look at the Preakness.

QUIP won his maiden debut in September, then also in a 67k allowance race. Finished 7th in the Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade 2). Broke through in pace with a 98 following a 14-week layoff, debuting at 3 in the Tampa Bay Derby. Last out, was 2nd in the Arkansas Derby, scoring a 95. 4/14 is the longest wait for any of this 8-horse field to stretch further to 9.5 furlongs. 2 fast works at Keeneland in prep. Was 2nd at nearly each call in his last 2, both running at a snail’s pace.
Prediction: Winner.
Odds prediction: 8-5. Overlay.

LONE SAILOR came out of the Kentucky Derby with something of a setback from his lifetime best of 100 to 92. Given that his 100 score in the Lousiana Derby was 7 weeks ago, that still allows him time to run to that effort. He’s the lone closer of the field, too. He should require a fast pace early that slows down to average. Thomas Amoss, his trainer, did not make any notable adjustments for this horse in prep.
Prediction: 5th.
Odds prediction: 10-1. Overlay.

SPORTING CHANCE has shown a mixed bag of results in his 7 lifetime races. His 2 wins came early in his career: Maiden score at Saratoga with a strong 89, followed by a 98 in the Grade 1 Hopeful. Took in a lot of money since those races, and notably was DQ’d to 4th in the Blue Grass. Last outing was in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day, with a troubled trip and a drop to 79 while finishing 4th. I can never trust a horse labeled as a sprinter who doesn’t have some share of the lead at any point.
Prediction: 8th.

DIAMOND KING has had a rather interesting 6 races under most folks’ radars…unless your radar was watching Laurel and Parx. Worst race of the bunch was the Kentucky Jockey Club, as he lost his rider. Of the races he’s finished, his worst was in his debut, finishing with an 87. Since the debacle at CD, he’s scored with 91, 93 and 95. Wins include the Heft and the Federico Tesio. Thing is, this is a big jump in class for him, and the speed figures aren’t quite up to par with those who ran in the Derby.
Prediction: 6th.

GOOD MAGIC I really liked in the Derby, running close to Justify all throughout. A fine career in 6 starts: 2nd in his maiden debut, 2nd in the Champagne, winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile (105 Brisnet, his best), 3rd in the Fountain Of Youth, wins the Blue Grass, and 2nd in the Run for all those Roses. Best pattern of speed figures of this field (last 3 numbers were 99, 98, 98). Only early closer in the field. Requires an average pace throughout to get his pace set up.
Prediction: 2nd. If rain, drop to 3rd.
Odds prediction: 9-2.

TENFOLD was a maiden debut winner with a 92 as he wired a field of 10 at 8.5 furlongs. Won an optional claimer race of 75k, same distance and track. 5th in the Arkansas Derby. Lifetime speed figures are 92, 93, 94. Best AWD numbers of the field…pedigree is Curlin/Temptress, out of Tapit. Had a stalking trip in the AR Derby, made a wide move at the turn as well. The 94 score was fastest of those with a troubled trip coming in.
Prediction: 4th.
Odds prediction: 7-1. Overlay.

JUSTIFY is still a justified freak to me. Or…is he truly one of the greats, the immortals? What else does he need to do to justify how excellent of a career he’s had, after all the naysaying and questioning? His 102 in the Derby suggests he will certainly get this distance easily enough. Also, with the slight promise of an off-track, that 104 from his 2nd lifetime race makes him a bigger threat. In fact, the 102 score is actually a bounce from his 114 in the Santa Anita Derby. No question he’s the true speed. Is it enough? It might be
Prediction: 3rd. If there’s rain, 2nd.
Odds prediction: About 5-1.

BRAVAZO has wins from his 2nd maiden race, then a 62k optional claimer, then the Grade 2 Risen Star (lifetime best 98 Brisnet). Bounced to a 76 in the Louisiana Derby, and then back to 96 while finishing 6th in the KY Derby. He’s subject to a bounce this time around.
Prediction: 7th.

Top 3 in summary: 1-5-7….. Quip, Good Magic, Justify. Overlays are Quip, Lone Sailor, Tenfold.

Even with 2 ML favorites in my top 3, it’s an even more inviting sort of race to wager in. I can see using 1, 6, and 2 for wins, and under 5 and 7 for exactas. Also exactas using 5-1 and 7-1.

In terms of odds movement, the only trend I’m seeing is the money that Tenfold will take. People may overlook his pedigree, his fast troubled trip plus his slight gain on the leaders last time out.


Idealistic Stats podcast 4/1/18

This podcast was recorded on 5/1/18. I introduce my Enlightened Trails series (my version of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Trails), plus a horse-by-horse analysis of the 2018 Derby and Oaks.

I have since made a few different decisions of some horses. Please check my blog posts for the very lastest.

This program is available at the Internet Archive

and primarily via

This program created and hosted by Dan Herman

Co-produced with the assistance of DJ Flowerdove
Twitter: @flowerdove2168

Enlightened Trails update (Oaklawn Park)

I’ve just become aware of the entries in the Fantasy Stakes and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. These races conclude the 2017-2018 Enlightened Trails series.
We’ll start with the Friday race, the $400k Fantasy Stakes, an 8.5 furlong race. Top 3 choices here are Wonder Gadot, Sassy Sienna and longshot overlay Tahoe Dream.
Sassy Sienna, for the real Trail, she does need the points. In the EOT, she has 0 points. Aside from her maiden debut, she won an optional claiming race of 62.5k on 1/15 to start her 3YO campaign, posting 85 Brisnet. Then a small new top of 88, nearly wiring the Martha Washington field here on 2/10, sloppy track and all. It’s the best off-track performance of today’s field. There are thunderstorms forecast for Friday. 3rd in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at today’s distance last time out. 3 works here, each very fast.
Tahoe Dream also needs points. Won her 4th maiden races vs fillies, then won a 75k claimer here on 3/29, 84 Brisnet, just shy of her lifetime best. Mid 80s scores in last 3 races, all at OP. Only filly stretching out in distance here, as the others have already run 8.5 furlongs.
EOT impact: This race concludes the Trails proper. For the Heartland division, I can concluded that the 2nd place finisher of this race would lose the tiebreaker vs Eskimo Kisses. That theory does hold water. So, only the winner of the Fantasy Stakes gets into my mythical Oaks. Monomoy Girl and Eskimo Kisses are now in, and Patrona Margarita is out.
Odds impact: No change from the ML rankings. If anything, Wonder Gadot is projected to take a ton of money. Princess Warrior will actually take less money than expected. I don’t like her enough to be a contender, but I have to respect the fact that she’s the lone deep closer of the field.

I decided to cover the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes also, which impacts the real Trail, but not mine. This race is for 3YOs, $200k purse, 8.5 furlongs. Top 3 here are overlay Greyvitos, then favored My Boy Jack, then longshot overlay Arched Feather.
Greyvitos broke maiden by winning his 3rd start, which happened to be the Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del Mar, scoring a huge 98 Brisnet score. Then won the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on 12/17 with a 93. No racing since then, but he’s worked consistently in California. Was 2nd of 39 in such a work on 4/7 at Santa Anita, 1:00:1 from the gate. Only horse here who has won stretching out in distance while currently doing so. I think he could be the favorite; 6-1 is high.
Arched Feather won his 3rd maiden race running a lifetime best 79 Brisnet. Duplicated that speed running 5th in the Smarty Jones. Dropped to 71 last time out in the Battaglia Memorial, first time on the all-weather surface. Best AWD numbers (Arch/Featherbed, out of Smart Strike). 74 speed here at Keeneland is best of this field.
Odds impact: Watch for Pony Up to get bet down from 6/1 to possibly 2nd favorite. Coming out of a 2nd place finish in the JR Steaks and a 99 Brisnet score, plus fully circling back to his best work since last fall’s layoff, he must be considered. Two others that should take more $, tho not enough for an overlay are Battle at Sea and Honor Up. Battle at Sea achieved new tops last 2 races in his maiden winner and the Central City Derby, both at Fair Grounds and his debut route races. Outside of his maiden debut, this Louisiana-bred has run mainly vs statebred horses. Honor Up ships in from the NY tracks. He has only run vs statebred maidens, winning in his most recent race with an 87. Peak was 89, acheived the race before. Lowest speed figure was his debut, an 81. Off since early December, he’s worked frequently, with a bullet on 3/27.

Finally we reach the Arkansas Derby, the final race of the Enlightened Derby Trail. 2 horses already have points in the division: Dream Baby Dream with 500, and Combatant with 100. Quip is in this race too, with 1000 from the South division. I don’t allow horses to represent 2 divisions at once. If he wins, I will likely let him represent from the Heartland, and bring in the first-out horse, Flameaway. Flameaway lost for the last spot in the South to Hofburg because Hofburg was in a Grade 1 race. Flameaway has only gotten to Grade 2. The other scenario would be to let Quip represent the South, and have the 2nd place finisher be in the EDT as well. Flameaway will not represent the Heartland with just 500 points. The big issue is the class. This race is Grade 1, $1 million. Winner gets into the EDT. My top 4 would all have 1000 points. Dream Baby Dream would be out if he finishes 2nd. I’d rather see the winner of a lower class race advance rather than a 2nd place horse.
For my Future Wager bets, I am rooting for Solomini as I have him at 19-1 and 25-1
With that typed, here’s how I see this race: Top 3 are Solomini, Quip and Dream Baby Dream. No overlays in this race.
Dream Baby Dream is dangerous as a longshot. Never mind that he has 3 3rd place finishes here with scores in the 80s. He did acheive a small new top last out, finishing 2nd to Runaway Ghost in the 9 furlong Sunland Derby. That score is best of this field. I very much like his recent form via pace.
Odds movers: Dream Baby Dream and Magnum Moon to take more $ than usual. Tenfold and Combatant, in the middle rank of the morning line, are going to take less $.

my TVG Super 8 picks and analysis

This week’s TVG Super 8 contest (5+ wins out of 8, and you cash) covers various races at Santa Anita and Gulfstream. Here’s how I see them:
Santa Anita race 2: 3YO maidens at the 54k level, 7 furlongs, dirt. Top 3 are all faves: Once On Whiskey, Paddock Pick and Facts Matter. Totally a passable race. No overlays to be found. Odds movement is proportional to the morning-line.

Santa Anita race 3: Optional-claim race 40k, non-winners of 2, fillies/mares 4YO+ running 6 furlongs on dirt. Top 3: Powder, Bad Ju Ju, Time For Ebby. No overlays here either. Odds, however suggest that Powder will be largely ignored and fall into overlay status. I think she’s an easy favorite, so I’d play her at 5-1 or worse. Stretch out to 6 furlongs is no problem here. She’s also been on layoff for about a month, and she’s won previously on layoff. Track bias is kind to pure sprinters, at a 43% over 80 races during the meet. Posts 4-7 are winning 16% too. Last out run was a small improvement at 1st call, seizing the lead for a while at 2nd call.

Gulfstream Park race 9 is a 5 furlong turf race for 4YOs+, optional claimers at 25k, non-winners of 2. Top 3 are Imprimis, Lost for Words and Our Independence. Overlays are Lost for Words and One Lucky Step. No real impact will be felt by any changes in odds.
Lost for Words is the only horse in the field with a recent small new top, even if he is a slight bounce risk. Was 86 speed last out vs 16k maidens here and at this level of claim, nearly wiring the field. Has blazing speed down the backstretch. 7-2-1-1 at GP lifetime. Gets 5-lb jockey allowance.
One Lucky Step also a bounce risk, moving from 75 to year’s best of 83. Very nice run last time out…3rd consecutive run directly off layoff, increasing at 2nd call point, and one place and 1 length on leader at that point.

Gulfstream Park race 10: Maiden race, 3YOs, 6 furlongs, 55k. Top 3 are Gran Togoshi, Elusive Hero, Breaking The Rules. Gran Togoshi the live overlay here. Stretches .5 furlong from his debut, a 71 last month here at similar class, tho a bit of a tough trip. He did improve a bit in pace and order by the 2nd call there. Breaking the Rules as a first time starter l like for the good pedigree (War Front/Protesting out of AP Indy). Very good work tab in prep…most works at GP, and a few bullets.

Gulfstream Park race 11: 8.5 furlongs on the turf course, for 4YOs+, 62.5k optional claimers. Top 3 are overlay Bronson, then favorites Conquest Sandman and Deeply Undervalued.
Bronson has superbly consistent numbers, running 84 to 88 in 8 straight. Blinkers off for this race, first time in 7 races. Prior shipping wins and similar cutback win early in career. 6 works here in prep, 4 of them rather fast.
Odds prediction: Look for Conquest Sandman to take favorite status here. Rocketry should drop from public favorite here. JR’s Holiday should take more $, considering he’s 2 removed from his lifetime best, and has a great work tab himself. The horse that will be largely ignored is Keep Quiet. I don’t believe he will drop far enough to be an overlay. I like the breeding (Elusive City/Luminosity, out of Sillery). Also he’s been off since November and is 2 races removed from a Grade 3 win.

Santa Anita race 6: 30k maiden fillies event, 3YOs, 21k purse, 6 furlongs. Top 3 here are favored Tengs Rhythm and Lucky Lula, then Stylist. Overlay is Quizlet.
Stylist impresses for me as a first time starter…a bunch of runs here, the majority of them were competitively fast.
Odds change: Little to no impact on the morning-line. I’d use Stylist with favorites here.

Gulfstream Park race 13: 7.5 furlongs on turf for maiden 3YOs, 20k level. Top 3 are all overlays: Particularly, Calypso Deep and Time For War.
Odds should not move much at all compared to morning-line.
Particularly 2 races back improved on his 1st race following layoff, suggesting he’s back in form now. Peaked at 74 first after claim at 5 furlongs, dropping to 66 last time tho increased in lengths vs leader by 2nd call for the first time. On a good uptick in pace. Adds blinkers for the first time.
Calypso Deep is waiting about a month to stretch from 6 furlongs. Gained 2 lengths on leader at 2nd call last time out.
Time For War is a first time starter with a few good fast works to prepare.

Santa Anita race 8 is for 3YO maiden fillies, running 6 furlongs, 30k claiming level. Top 3 are longshot overlay Calimonco Action, Ride Lady Ride and Dee Way To Go. Heather’s Wish also an overlay here.
Calimonco Action I suppose is quite the risk at 30-1. I happen to like the fact that she carries 5 lbs at 117, and she’s waited a month to stretch out half a furlong. Gained a length on leader last time out also. Ride Lady Ride set new top of 70 last time out vs 54k maiden fillies in debut on turf. Adds blinkers here and is up for a tag for the first time. Heather’s Wish as a first time starter has a number of fast local works.
I would not expect the odds to change all that much compared to morning-line.

Saturday prep race analysis

Lot of races to get to in the next 24 hours, including one today north of the border in Northlands Park, and the rest happening tomorrow on Saturday 9/2 at other tracks. This weekend is considered the first major one to determine which horses will be best considered for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks races. My Trail spreadsheets are updated with the sum total of prep races thus far.

I won out in the DRF $3k credit builder earlier in August. The next tourney in sequence is on 9/16.  Here was the tweet I did the day of the tourney..


Onto the preps!


First on the list is the lone race for today, the Bird Of Pay Stakes at Northland. 6.5 furlongs, 2YO fillies, 50k purse. Top 3 here in this field of 6 are no surprise: Suzette (ML favorite), Dazzling Chic, and Red Bomber.
No real value in this race, as the 1st,3rd and 4th selections per morning line are who I have. No overlays to be found either.

Next is the Evangeline Downs Prince Stakes, for 2YOs going 6 furlongs, 50k purse. top 3 here are Cajun Creed, I Want A Picture (both 5-1) and favored Hardworkcleanlivin. No overlays. Not much value here either. Cajun Creed is a 6-1 choice though and I can take the favorite out of the top 2 positions. Cajun Creed won his debut, then increased slightly in BRIS speed last time out, under wet fast conditions gaining nicely by the 2nd call. 2 works since, 1 a bullet.

Next is the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes, for 2YOs going 7 furlongs, 200k purse. Top 3 depends on the AE horses that are 13-16, and the possibility of rain that may take out some horses. Top 3 will come later on but I do see two horses that stand out at this time:
Sky Promise (8-1) took 4 tries to break maiden, the latter 2 on turf. Gained 8.5 lengths on leader between first 2 calls in last race. Best turn time of the field. He may become the lone deep closer based on scratches.
Pont Du Gard (10-1) won his maiden debut, 1 mile on the Arlington Park turf with 72 BRIS. 6 works in prep, 2 very fast, 1 bullet.
I will update choices tonight.

Next at Monmouth is the Sapling, 1 mile for 2YOs, 75k. Top 3 here are Admiral Jimmy, Coltandmississippi, and favored Kowboy Karma. None of these are of any great value between them. No overlays in this one.

Finally, the Spinaway at Saratoga, a Grade 1 race for leading 2YO fillies, going 7 furlongs. I have confidence in the 2 favorites, Pure Silver and Separationofpowers. No one else is definite for 3rd in this small field. The one overlay might be Obvious Two. 3 tries to break maiden and succeeding, sparking up to a 75, going 6 furlongs first time. Stretches out to 7 here and has a new barn.

Tonight I’ll update with 4 more Saturday races.