Breeders Cup 2016 Friday predictions

   November is a busy here, what with the Zone Master stats getting published (batting side available, pitching side later in the month), and the Enlightened Trails taking us to the big Breeders Cup events at Santa Anita this weekend.
As with prior years, I’ll have live $ to wager.  In this post, I’ll give you my top 3 plus overlays.
For Friday’s 4 races in the 2-day meet, I will be working and will not be wagering.  Saturday I’ll be home to wager and to help cover the event on social media.
I’ll post 4 or 5 of the races between now and Thursday.
Top 3 are Good Samaritan, and overlays Channel Maker and Wellabled.
 Good Samaritan is 2nd in the ML. Winner of his debut going 8.5 on Saratoga’s turf course, then again at a mile at Woodbine, in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes.  No rust for this horse, having won its debut and is coming out of a 7 week layoff. Best works of the field; 5 works, 4 at Saratoga, 2 bullets, a 3rd very fast.
 Channel Maker ran 3rd to Good Samaritan in the Summer, this after debuting 3rd at Woodbine in July, then won over a yielding WO turf course in August, in the restricted 150k Vanderbilt.  Was near the front in the Summer, but despite having a matching new top of 92, he had a bumpy start and that may have cost him a win.  If measured by his 2nd call stats, he’s the speed of the field.
 Wellabled I’ve touted before, and for good reason; owner of 350 points in my Enlightened Derby Trail for wins in the Arlington-Washington and Fitz Dixon Memorial. Was 2nd in the Skidmore at Saratoga and also won his maiden race, wiring that field and winning by 7. Alternating scores of 92 and 87 for lifetime speed numbers.  His lone 2nd place finish came on turf, the others were on Arlington Park’s all-weather surface.  I think the speed figure pattern will hold for this race.
One other horse with EDT points coming in: Favorable Outcome (3rd, Champagne, 50 points)
Top 3 are Accelerate, Dortmund, Tamarkuz. Overlays: Accelerate and Point Piper.
Accelerate broke maiden in 4th try, winning first route race by 8 lengths on 7/28.  Won a 100k stakes event at Delmar 8/26, then won the Los Alamitos Derby (Grade 2) last time out 9/24. Those 3 wins were at speed figures of 99, 97, 91.  Best workouts; 4 fast ones at SA, last one a bullet.
 Dortmund has had a light 4YO campaign; 2nd in the San Diego (Grade 2) at Del Mar; 3rd in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic there, 2nd in the Awesome Again (Grade 1) on 10/1 here.  Triple digit speed figures in last 5. 108 speed figure in the San Diego is his lifetime best, and he’s definitely the speed here. Only sprinter in the field. Switching back to Martin Garcia, who rode him in the Derby Trail series last year. Prior distance cutback win, plus a win here last fall. Deserving of the 6/5 ML grade.
Tamarkuz is a 6YO with a series of stakes race wins at Meydan in Dubai, then entered the last 2 runnings of the Kelso, Forego and Metropolitan. 4 wins in 8 at the distance. 105 rating last time in the Met Mile represents his lifetime best. 105 is also a forged/exploding pace top. He actually ran a bit wide in the Met Mile and might have won that race.
 Point Piper was rather busy in 2016, with his last win coming in August at my home track of Emerald Downs (EMD’s best race, the Longacres Mile).Best AWD numbers (Giant’s Causeway/Imagine, out of Sadler’s Wells). Another horse with forging/exploding pace numbers, his 103 surpasses last year’s best of 102. Improved 2nd call speed figure by 9 points first race following the Mile and an 8 week layoff.
 Top 3 in a value-packed race: Victory To Victory, Sweeping Paddy, Lull. Overlays: Victory To Victory, Sweeping Paddy, Madam Dancealot, La Force.
Victory To Victory 5th vs maidens in debut at Saratoga, then 2nd in a 74k allowance race at Woodbine, then won the Grade 1 Natalma, first time at route. Set 2nd straight new top with an 89, matched with prior 84. 35% wins for turf mile closers, and 14% for horses 4-7. Gained .75 length on leader between 1st and 2nd call last time out
3 works at Woodbine, 2 at CD. All 5 works very fast.
 Sweeping Paddy gets in with 2 scratches. Won 2nd maiden start, first time at route and turf, by 12 lengths. Followed up with 4th place finish in the Grade 3 Jessamin at Keeneland last month.  Best figures for distance and surface, a 97, scored in his maiden win. Could bounce back after bounce to 87 last time. Can be considered the speed of the field.
Lull won her maiden debut, then in a 100k stakes event lost rider and did not finish.  Afterward, she won the KD Juvenile Fillies, and placed 2nd in the Jessamin. Pair of 91s in those last 2 races, rating her as one of the speedsters.

Madam Dancealot makes her US debut after 6 competitive GB races, including 3 Graded ones.  She won 2 of those Graded races. Trainer Richard Ballas has done well in preparing her; owner of a stretchout and shipping win, a prior win with similar 4 lb drop in weight, first time Lasix, and waiting since 9/1 to stretchout.

La Force makes 2nd US start since her initial 3 races in Italy. Debut was here at SA, 3rd in the Surfer Girl stakes with an 82 Brisnet, her first route race at that. 82 is best of those on this track of the field. She got off to a slow start and ran wide on the lane, so a win definitely escaped her.

UPDATE: With late scratches announced, my new top 3 are Sweeping Paddy, Lull and Madam Dancealot. Not in position to fully recalculate stats but this is what I’m going with.

Top 3: Beholder, Stellar Wind, Land Over Sea. Overlay: Land Over Sea.
One of those races that looks like chalk will prevail.   Beholder was on a nice winning streak, and has since finished 2nd in her last 3.  On her home track, where she’s gone 15-13-2-0, she’s already got best distance and track speed figures of the field. Being specific, her best here in both categories was a 112 in last year’s Pacific Classic.  2nd in this year’s Zenyatta here, she’s on a nice pattern of close triple digit scores.  Turn time leads the field as well.

Stellar Wind has a great history, with 11-7-2-1, and 5-4-1-0 at SA. In fact, she’s edged out Beholder in their last 2 meetings. Neatly forged two new small tops (best, 107) in those races.  Usually runs one race, then gets layoff. The pattern continues and she has a few wins with that scenario in place.  Improved off of layoff at 2nd quarter, and made up some ground on Beholder in the Zenyatta last time out.
Land Over Sea won this year’s Fair Grounds Oaks, and that’s just 1 of 2 lifetime wins in 12 races. Ran 4th in the Cotillion at Parx last time out, small gain to 85 speed. She had a lot of trouble in that race, and I can certainly toss out the number. Only late closer in the field. Improved 1st after layoff in the Cotillion.
Coming up, my take on the first 5 out of the 9 Breeders Cup races for Saturday.

Kentucky Derby 2014 future wager Pool #1 analysis/selections

It’s my favorite wager in horse handicapping. The future wager! I don’t play the exotics,save the occasional exacta. I’m tempted to spread a superfecta at times but that’s so much $ going out, and I do know the payoff is really nice when you can hit. I do know a system that can work, from the folks at But this post is about the wager I’ve done the best with and it’s enabled me to build upon my reputation as a visionary with handicapping.

The future wager, at is being contested for the first time during the 2YO campaign of KY Derby contenders. This extra pool runs before the 3 pools that have been in place for years, along with the singular KY Oaks pool. The concept is simple, to wager a win or exacta bet on a horse well before the big race, most of the time at much higher odds than the horse will actually run at post time, if that horse manages to make it through a bunch of prep races and actually start the race. It’s been challenging to pick one out of the first pool in February in prior years, but I’ve done well in the 2nd (which is now the 3rd), taking place in March.

The approach for me is this: I’ll pick 5 horses to win, among the 23 entered in the pool. I might play the exacta using the field to win, and my 5 horses underneath. is offering an elite rewards point prize for those who pick the KY Derby winner out of this one pool, otherwise those who pick horse with the most Derby points on the trail gets the share of a million-point prize. 1000 points is equal to $1, and for wagering via Twinspires, you get 4 points for every dollar wagered at Churchill Downs.

Given my current financial status I’m NOT wagering this pool, but I’ll present picks in the manner in which I WOULD wager. The further approach for the later pools are these:
If one of the 5 horses I select gets into the 2nd pool and the odds are higher (worse) than his final Pool 1 result, I will double-down and wager on that horse again, if that horse is still a contender. Otherwise I’ll leave that horse be. Same with Pools 3 compared to 2 and 4 to 3.

Here are the variables I’m working with this year and their explanation:

DOSAGE: Which horses has the best chef-de-race/dosage profile befitting a horse that typically wins at Churchill? To accomplish this, I access two sources of data: lists the average chef-de-race score for each major race track in the prior year. Chef-de-race, expressed in 5 numbers measures the strength and focus of a horse’s particular run style, whether as a pure sprinter, a deep closer, or somewhere in the middle. There are 2 extra scores included that make a single number to translate the 5 numbers of this expression, plus an extra number that determines the balance of the 5 numbers. What I will do is check out and look up the numbers of all 23 horses, then rank each horse by the 3 sets of numbers, compare them to the average set by Churchill. Lower differential makes the difference.

AWD: Average winning distance measures just that from the horse’s sire and dam.
CLASS: Who has won at the highest level? Horses are ranked based on the level of race won. Graded stakes (specifically G1 races) get the top rank, down to ungraded stakes, and all other races following that, down to the maiden level at the bottom.

PACE: Borrowing the main component of sabermetrician Bill James’ “Favorite Toy” method, and looking at run style, I determine who has the fastest pace numbers for the moment. For sprinters I use the 1st call of the last 3 races, 2nd call for early-stalkers, overall pace for closers, and stretch call for late runners. I use the Brisnet numbers, as I trust this info much more than I do for Daily Racing Form’s Beyers.

2YO PROGRESSION: This approach comes from Dave Litfin’s book “Expert Handicapping”. h I look for horses who have run at least one before Labor Day weekend at age 2. Then, I look to see if that horse has had an overall pace figure which improved at some point than his best effort before Labor Day. Between those horses, I rank who has won and then by the winning pace number.

DISTANCE: Which horses have won at the longest distance?

For all categories, the top 7 each get a checkmark. The most checkmarks for a horse brands him or her as a horse I’d select.

So, here are the results! I did identify my top 5, presented, Letterman-style:
#5: NEW YEAR’S DAY: Winner of the BC Juvenile with a 92 Brisnet. This race is key as he outpaced Havana and Strong Mandate, 2 of my other 4 contenders. That number was his best effort, following 2 maiden races running in the 80s. Has a contending AWD score (Street Cry-Justwhistledixie, out of Dixie Union). The 8.5 furlong win makes him a contender overall. Pace numbers for this early stalker are somewhat low compared to others, and dosage is not quite a match. Also has not run at CD. 14-1 are his odds at the close of Thursday’s wagering.
#4: BOBBY’S KITTEN: Winner of the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. 3rd in the BC Juvenile Turf. One of the leading dosage scores here. (Kitten’s Joy-Celestial Woods, out of Forestry). The Pilgrim at 8.5 furlongs was won with a 97, one of the top contending post Labor Day wins in the field. 2nd call numbers in last 3 races ranged from 75 to 109. No races at Churchill yet, and AWD numbers a bit lower than the other contenders. Also, no KY Derby Trail points 21-1
#3: STRONG MANDATE: Winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, 3rd in the BC Juvenile. Contender in AWD (Tiznow-Clear Mandate by Deputy Minister). Here’s the Hopeful win: Winning at Grade 1 also ups his chances. Pace average is very high, with 2nd call numbers of last 3 ranging from 98 to 112. Progression number is contending, with the 97 Brisnet score in the Hopeful.. Hasn’t won beyond that 7-furlong distance tho, dosage profile doesn’t quite fit, and has not yet run at Churchill. 27-1

#2: RISE UP: Winner of 4 of 6 lifetime, including the Delta Downs Jackpot, a Grade 3 event. 6th in the Iroquois at CD, winner of both a 100k and 200k ungraded stakes event. Here’s the Jackpot race: The 78 score in the Iriquois doesn’t impress but at least he has the race on that track. One of the faster pace numbers (last 3 2nd call numbers are from 102 to 106). The 98 scores at Delta Downs was tied with a horse outside my top 5, and my #1 contender for best performance post-Labor Day. It helps that the Jackpot was run at 8.5 furlongs. Pedigree doesn’t quite match up to the others, and has not faced Grade 1 company yet. 68-1
#1 HAVANA: Leads this field in KY Derby points. Winner of the Grade 1 Champagne 2nd in the BC Juvenile. Top dosage score from me in the field (Dunkirk-Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man). 3rd best pace numbers of the field (2nd call numbers run from 103 to 109). The 98 scored in the Champagne is among the most impressive of these colts post-Labor Day. That win came at a mile, with the BC race at 8.5. 20-1
At Thursday’s end of wager, with a mid-Saturday deadline, the ‘all others” are the huge favorite at even- money. with New Year’s Day and Honor Code the next most-favored by the public I don’t care for Honor Code at this moment, as he hasn’t defeated Graded company yet, and, despite his pair of 98 runs in two lifetime races, has not yet run past those numbers. Also, his one win was at the maiden level, for 7 furlongs.
I’ll keep you updated on my selections as we get to Pool #2 in February.

Kentucky Oaks 2013 analysis and prediction

Here’s my analysis of this year’s Run for the Lilies, the Kentucky Oaks.
Leading up to this race, I had already wagered in the single future wager pool, putting win bets on Pure Fun, Fiftyshadesofhay, and Unlimited Budget, and ‘field’, with exacta bets using each possible combo between them. The ‘field’ comprises all horses that were not one of the 23 standard wagers. From a chat with I’m told that the horses who are in today’s Oaks that were not part of the future wager are also, for purposes of the race, part of the ‘all others’. With the wager, I’m locked into these odds: Pure Fun 10-1. Unlimited Budget: 9-1. Field: 7-1. Fiftyshadesofhay did not make it into this field. There are two horses who were not part of the pool originally and are now field selections; these are Seaneen Girl and Silsita.

I began with preparing about 20 variables and measured the results over the first 4 days on the Churchill Downs meet to see which ones were more live than the others. Thus far, the form-based stats have something of an edge. Specifically, horses recovering in pace after a strong showing from a race off layoff, horses who are possibly bouncing from a strong pace gain or loss in last race, along with those of an ‘exploding’ form (3YO best number slightly surpasses 2YO best), are the top variables, all with at least a 30% hit rate. Out of a sample of 33 races, I can live with this. The worst variables were the purely analytical stats (average winning distance of sire/dam-sire, ROI angles, best winning track speed, switch to route from sprint). Again, just 33 races to measure, so there’s much room for error. I’ll only make this adjustment for the Oaks, and not for the other races on today’s card. I will be wagering on all today’s and tomorrow’s stakes races.

Horse-for-horse here’s what I see:

SILSITA has no redeeming quality with pace-based info in this field. Once we get to form there is some value here. She comes off lifetime best Brisnet score of 98 in the Bourbonette Oaks on March 23rd. Surpassing her previous race’s number of 83 in an optional-claimer on February 2nd, I’d expect her to bounce downward from the 98. She has one of the two best workout regimens of this field, with 4 works since the race on 3/23, the last 3 right at Churchill, each very fast compared to her peers.

MIDNIGHT LUCKY is the other horse with great works. Since her 2nd lifetime effort winning a stakes race at Sunland on 3/24, she has 4 works as well, with the last 2 being quite fast at Churchill. Otherwise her history is too short to predict anything will come of her efforts today.

BEHOLDER is one of three horses who defeated Grade 1 company in the field, winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile, the Las Virgiennes and the Santa Anita Oaks in 3 of the last 4 races. Her 110 score at age 2 is the best 2YO effort of the field. This came in a 50k allowance race at Santa Anita. Draws from post 3, and has done well with an inside post before, winning the BC Juvenille Fillies and the aforementioned allowance race from an inward position.

UNLIMITED BUDGET already part of my wagers, and I could double up on her if the odds are any worse than 9-1. As 7-2 morning-line favorite, that doesn’t seem likely. Undefeated in 4 starts. Won her debut on an off-track with a 92. One of three horses who won at the prescribed 9 furlong distance. Forged lifetime best of 102 in the Fair Grounds Oaks last time. She is the one horse who can benefit from the historical track bias, borrowing from the 2012 stats. With a 6 race sample, horses with an early-pressing style have won 3 of the 6 races on this track at 9 furlongs, including 17% win rate for those in positions 4 through 7. Possible bounce down from the 102 number. Has already won all 3 races from a middle post.

SEANEEN GIRL draws into the field, and is one of the retroactive ‘field’ horses in relation to the future wager. Scored a 92 Brisnet win on this track 2 races ago in November. ROI angle: With Rosie Napravnik as jockey and Bernard Flint training, this combo has worked one race together prior in the last 60 days, winning that race, scoring a return of +11.60. (I know, I know, 1 race, but still…).Forget lifetime best of 98 in her last race, the Fair Grounds Oaks, might bounce down from that number (prior race a 92).

PRINCESS OF SYLMAR has the ‘exploding’ form type. 2YO best was a 92, breaking maiden in 2nd lifetime race, matching that in the next race. Surpassed this number last time out with a 95 in the Gazelle at Aqueduct 3 weeks ago. Won 3 races from a middle post. Using comparative chef-de-race numbers to the typical Churchill Downs winner from 2012, she has the lowest differential of the field, and therefore based on her pedigree, has the best dosage profile to win on this track (sire: Majestic Warrior, dam Storm Dixie).

PURE FUN already one of my future wager selections. Won a Grade 1 event at Hollywood Park in December. Best winning Brisnet number at Churchill, a 97 scored in the race prior to that in a filly optional claimer. One of 2 horses who is primed for a bounce-back, having run against the boys last time out in the Lexington Stakes, and scoring just an 80. Prior to it, she had reached a plateau with scores of 95, 96, 97.

DREAMING OF JULIA a very worthy public favorite here. Winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile and the Frizette at Grade 1; best off-track number of the field (a 97 score, winning in the mud at Belmont in 2nd lifetime race); fastest pace numbers of these fillies (2nd call numbers in last three races run from 95 to 107). Winner at 9 furlongs (Gulfstream Park Oaks). Best average winning distance from pedigree (sire AP Indy, dam-sire Wild Rush). Forged lifetime best of 107 in the GP Oaks, tho may bounce down, as her prior effort to it was a 97 score in the Davona Dale.

ROSE TO GOLD won in the slop in her maiden race, a 75k stakes effort at Calder last August, with a 95 score. ROI angle: Jockey Calvin Borel and trainer Sal Santoro have aligned for 3 races in the last 60 days, winning 2 of them, for return of +3.33. Also has exploding form, surpassing that 2YO best number of 95 with a 99 two races back in the Honeybee at Oaklawn Park. Threw in a 92 winning the Fantasy Stakes on that track 3 weeks ago, and could bounce back surpassing the 92 score today.

FLASHY GRAY won at Churchill in 2nd lifetime race with a score of 96. Only horse in field with a recovery-type form. Starting her 3YO campaign she ran 98 just after layoff, then down to the 96 score in the Honeybee, then 100 last time out in the Fair Grounds Oaks. This suggests a gain in today’s race.

CLOSE HATCHES is a winner at 9 furlongs, winning the Gazelle last time out, forging new lifetime best of 99. Might bounce from that number as she paired up this effort with a 96, both well above her debut effort of 86.

Hours before post time here’s how I see the top 3:
8-9-7. Dreaming Of Julia, Rose To Gold, Pure Fun.
Any horses I choose of these three worse than 5-1 will earn win bets from me, and I’ll likely use exactas between the three as well, possibly another favorite (anyone under 4-1) over the value horses. 


Please note that I’m making these decisions before today’s scratches/changes and factoring in an off-track, as rain is surely in the forecast. Without factoring in rain, Dreaming Of Julia still ranks the best. 

TwinSpires horseracing March freeroll; Do I bite?

Just announced by TwinSpires, this enticing freeroll opportunity:

$50 wagered in February, including that Kentucky Derby wager I told you about prior, gets me an entry into the March freeroll. I haven’t really paid attention to horse racing since Breeders Cup Weekend, but if I just wager the major stakes races and use $20 for the future wager, that will get me in. $10 a race. I think I can afford this.   Then again, I DO have bills that must get paid. I’ll have to weigh this idea overnight. If (big IF) I do decide on wagering tomorrow’s big Kentucky Derby preps, then I will give you analysis right here.  I’m a bit rusty but I’ll do my best. Like I have a choice.  Ideally I’d want to study the last several racecards to see what trends are extant.


UPDATE: I am NOT biting. Turns out that, to qualify for the freeroll, one has to wager $50 a day, for at least 10 days, in February. Too rich for my blood 😦

Meanwhile I will be saving my gold for the Derby Future Wager, which commences Friday.