Derby/Oaks post-mortem, and first look at Preakness

The big takeaway from Derby weekend is that I continue to have great luck with either the Derby or Oaks. This year, my usual good luck with the race ran out, as Always Dreaming, a horse I really didn’t consider seriously, won the Run for All Those Roses. I did have that horse as a favorite over the race’s immediate overlays. Lookin At Lee, a horse I did like as one of 5 possibles in Future Wager Pool 1, did make for a nice exacta for a number of people, finishing 2nd.
I was saddened to see Thunder Snow have a horrible trip. I had hoped for a much better trip, a world-shocking trip. I had hoped for a number of horses to make good on their expectations. None panned out at all.
Always Dreaming probably couldn’t have been a bigger surprise. He ranked very low in my dosage profiles tho did have a respectable pace gain. There was a slight bounce risk too, but running to his speed suggested a much slower trip than figured. He did receive a good amount of changes from his connections…a prior shipping win, a similar gain in weight prior to a win, and one of the quicker turn times between his last 2 races. Nice workout profile too. I was scared away by his breaching of the CD track par, fully expecting a bounce from his number.

In the Oaks, I can say I scored my biggest financial win ever at a track. I wasn’t sure of the outcome until I saw Abel Tasman bounding home from last to first in a muddy stretch, and Daddy’s Lil Darling chasing her down. I was positively stunned, then shouted with glee, knowing I made my biggest score yet. It was a score I predicted back in February, an exacta where 3 horses were ranked 1st, 6th and 7th in Oaks points. With Unique Bella’s scratch, the exacta I did hit was $451.50. Add to that a $42.80 payoff for a straight win. This beats the $300 I won playing 2 longshots as exacta in a race at Dubai years ago.

This Future Wager continues to enthrall me. I wish it were around more often, and for other races.

The right horse certainly won the Derby, and I now look forward to how he may fare in the Preakness.

Upon learning of Royal Mo’s demise during a workout Sunday, I took a further look at the advance PPs for Saturday’s Preakness. Here is my current analysis:
1st: Lookin At Lee set a small new top with 97 BRIS in the KY Derby. Best pace pattern in the field
2nd: Cloud Computing in bounceback mode after dropping from 100 to 94 in the Wood Memorial. 94 the fastest of those last out with troubled trip.
3rd: Senior Investment gained well in turn time between last 2 races. Shipping win plus prior win with stretch in distance.
4th: Always Dreaming does have best pace for distance, and still in pace recovery mode, 4 races after layoff.
5th: Hence with recent gain from 86 to 103 and bounce to 80 suggests a bounceback. Pedigree may be best of the field (Street Boss/Floating Island, out of AP Indy)
Suggested odds for the moment: Always Dreaming 4-1
Cloud Computing, Lookin At Lee 6-1
Senior Investment 7-1
Conquest Mo Money, Multiplier 10-1
Classic Empire, Gunnevara, Term Of Art 23-1
Throwing out Lancaster Bomber.

2017 Kentucky Oaks analysis

Here’s my horse-for-horse analysis of the Run for All Those Lillies:

1 EVER SO CLEVER technically earned the most points of all horses on either of my Enlightened Trails, with 1050, thanks to her win in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn, and 3rd in the Golden Rod Stakes right here at Churchill.  Stock plummeted after finishing 5th with 2nd slowest lifetime score in the Martha Washington on 2/11. With the change to jockey Luis Contreras, plus lighter weight, she performed much better in her closing role.  Last-out turn time of 23.4 is best of this field, plus the fact she runs a tick slower in her BRIS speed figure, from 91 to 90.  One of 2 horses who recently posted a small new top in comparison to her 2YO campaign.

Required pace: somewhat slow to slower pace.
Projection: 8th.  The prominent factor is her paired-up speed figures of 91 and 90 plus the turn-time in the Fantasy (and gain on the leader in that race). This deep closer might (big might) be able to make her one big move assuming she gets her pace setup.
Odds: 29-1. Would need to be virtually forgotten by the public for me to wager on her…maybe 60-1 or worse.
2 LOCKDOWN got into my EDT picture and qualified with her 2nd place finish in the Gazelle Stakes. All 4 starts at Aqueduct. This sprinter has finished 1st or 2nd in each start. One of just 2 horses tested at today’s 9-furlong distance. Positive jockey switch to Jose L Ortiz, who rode her maiden-breaker on 12/17. Being the lone sprinter makes her a contender for me.  Further, there is a 6-race sample from the CD fall campaign at this distance, 3 of which were won by sprinters.  Only filly here to gain in 2nd call first race after layoff (94 in the Busanda, to a dazzling 119 in the Gazelle). 3 works since the Gazelle, all 3 very fast, 2 at CD. Eligible to bounce back in pace.
Pace: Somewhat faster all throughout.
Prediction: Winner. The track bias and lone run-style type, plus workout tab are all recent developments that suggest she is the ‘now’ horse.
Odds: 8-5.  Projected to be the lone overlay, as her ML odds are 20-1.
Would use in wins and exactas.

3 MOPOTISM scored too low for me in the EDT races, with a 4th place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks as her lone contribution.  Seems to be consistent with her speed figures, all in the 90s in her last 5 races, all racing in the top 4. and 4 of them being stakes/routes.  Best AWD numbers in the field (Uncle Mo/Peppy Rafaeala, out of Bernardini). Raced just once in the mud, but it was a winner, a 91 score v. maidens at the 54k level.
Pace: Sticks close to average pace throughout.

Prediction: 5th. I like her inherent variables, but there’s no real pattern in her pace that is outstanding. Not impressed with the inconsistent wins but I cannot rule out her finishing in the top 5 as she has done prevously.
Odds: 14-1.   She may well be the other overlay in the race, one I would use for wins/exactas. ML odds are 20-1.

4: PARADISE WOODS won the aforementioned Santa Anita Oaks with a strong 110, too strong compared to her 95 in her maiden win, and an 86 in her first start. All races at Santa Anita. What’s truly in her favor is that she has the fastest pace numbers of the field but is probably not the best true speed. Frankly I am expecting the worst and a bounce from that 110 number. Of course, she can win, and her being the ML favorite means she’ll likely go that way with the public. It means I’d have to include her with my overlays in exactas.
Qualified via EDT with her SA Oaks score.

Prediction: 13th.  Pace is there, but choosing to throw out because of the bounce risk, at my peril
Odds: 29-1.
Pace: Average to slightly slower.

5th: JORDAN’S HENRY was 3rd in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, but not enough points to be an EDT qualifier.  One of several to be waiting since April 1 to stretch out. Seems lacking in most variables. Set new lifetime best 2 races back in the Davona Dale, but that was over 60 days ago. Does have 4 races at CD with little success, plus a decent mud race in history but slow pattern and too slow for this field.
Pace: Average to slightly fast, based on her lone victory, vs maidens 3 races back.

Prediction: 9th.
6 VEXATIOUS also hasn’t won beyond maiden status, but has 3 3rd-place scores since, with runs in the mid to high 80s. Also lacked EDT points to qualify, despite 3rds in the Santa Anita Oaks and Fantasy Stakes.  Honest pace scores, albeit not the fastest. Set small new top at 3 in the FG Oaks with an 88, paired exactly last time out. She can reliably increase off that number with a run in the 90s.  Gained 1.2 seconds in turn time between her last 2 races, which suggests there’s some hidden speed waiting.
Pace: Based on one race, she needs a slow pace all throughout.
Prediction: 4th.
Odds: 29-1.  Probably won’t use in wagers, but I would not be surprised at her contending here.
7 FARRELL won 5 of 7 lifetime coming in, plus her last 4, and definitely an EDT qualifier. Probably the horse-for-course, with 2 wins and a 3rd in 4 lifetime at CD, with a 92 in the Golden Rod the best speed figure of those who have raced here.  2 races in the mud with scores in the 80s. Good pattern of figures around 90. Owns shipping wins, prior win from stretchout, and is waiting since 4/1.  2 good works at CD too.
Pace: Slightly fast early, slightly slow late.
Prediction: 11th. Tough to throw out though she’s received good handling from trainer Wayne Catalano plus seems to like running here. But there are faster horses.
8 SAILOR’S VALENTINE was an EDT qualifier, through her win in the Ashland Stakes and a big longshot at that.  6-2-2-0 lifetime. Lifetime best was her maiden debut at Keeneland in October, a 91. Came close with a 90 in November at CD and her 88 last out. Still, that number is way ahead of her 72, that score coming first after layoff and her turf debut. Seems among the slowest in pace and likely bounce candidate.
Pace: Slightly slow throughout.
Prediction: Last
9 WICKED LICK one of the notable snubs from the EDT, barely so, with her 2nd place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks. The others in her division had all won out.   No wins beyond her maiden, scored at CD last September. She’s run in an assortment of races since, coming close but not impressing many, even when she established 2 small new tops in her last 2 races, the FG Oaks and the Rachel Alexandra.  Upper 80s pace for this closer, somewhat slow for the field.
Pace: Needs a fast pace all throughout, figuring she’ll catch the leaders around the 2nd turn.
Prediction: 12th. I’m concerned about her slow pace, and dependency on others’ pace.
10 MISS SKY WARRIOR 5 of 6 wins lifetime, plus 5 straight. Easy qualifier in the EDT with her score in the Gazelle, with a fine 98 speed figure. This is ahead of her 90 while winning the Davona Dale in her 3YO debut. I am expecting her to bounce back to maybe about 90 here. Probably the best tactical speed of the field, so cannot truly throw her out. Last 3 2nd call numbers: 120, 99, 95.
Pace: Fast all throughout.
Prediction: 7th.  Middle of the pack among fellow fillies who do best in the backstretch. Lacks in supporting variables to suggest a 6th straight win.
Odds: 29-1.  Might have to use with overlays, as she’s granted 9/2 ML odds, second choice by track handicapper Mike Battaglia. The public will likely pounce on those odds.
11 TEQUILITA won 3 straight then was 2nd in the GP Oaks last time out. Lost out in tiebreak v. La Coronel and Wicked Lick to be an EDT qualifier, that one coming down to purse size.   Maiden win still her best look, a 92 at Keeneland. Not very impressed at her pace numbers. In her favor, her connections have her in a good spot, with prior stretchout wins and shipping wins, and also is waiting since 4/1 to stretchout.  3 works since the GP Oaks, 1 fast one at CD.
Pace: Sticks to an average pace at best…won’t be last or first amidst all the other early-presser types.
Prediction: 7th. The trainer moves and good work tab give me reason to rank her higher, but probably not enough for me  to wager on.
12 DADDYS LIL DARLING was an early EDT qualifier, with a 4th in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, 2nd in the Golden Rod (truly the best key race for this year’s EDT), and 2nd in the Ashland. Hasn’t won since the Pocahontas here in September. Best score at age 2 and ever since was an 89 in the BC race. Running in the 80s ever since with alternating 2nd/out of money finishes. No real opinion on her pace but somewhat slow overall.
Pace: This deep closer might be running differently in mud than on a fast track. She maintained her fastest pace in the mud, and was more like her plodder type in her other win.  I suggest she needs a slightly fast beginning, and slows to average toward the end.
Prediction: 10th   A question mark with pace, but some savvy ‘cappers may notice that muddy win in the Pocahontas.  As for me, I already have this filly in win and exactas in the Future Wager.
13 ABEL TASMAN qualified from the EDT  with her 2nd place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks.   Won the Starlet Stakes with small new top to finish her 2YO campaign, then gained nicely in her 2nd place finish in the Santa Ysabel, and posted a good middle figure of 97 in the SA Oaks. Truly among the faster horses, and has the fastest pace pattern in the field.  Along with this, she actually had some trouble last out, having to run wide much of the race and a slow start. That slow start can be somewhat forgiven as she is a deep closer.
Prior wins with stretchout, as well as shipper win.  Adds blinkers for this race.
Pace: Fast, slowing a bit later in the race to slightly faster than average, another who might need a pace meltdown.
Prediction: 2nd.
Odds: 4-1, fair odds comparing to ML of 5-1.  Probably not a price horse but truly could go either way. If she’s 8-1 or worse near post time, I’ll consider her an overlay.
14 SALTY 2 wins in 3 lifetime, all at GP, winning last out in the GP Oaks despite a lowering speed figure of 90. I rank her much more on recent developments. Waiting since 4/1 to stretch from 8.5 furlongs. One of two fillies to gain in turn time despite a lower speed figure, suggesting she’s got more speed saved for today. Great work tab: 3 at CD, all very fast. Qualified out of the EDT.
Pace: See Abel Tasman, basically the same requirements.
Prediction: 3rd.
Odds:  5-1, also fair odds, as her ML odds are 6-1. Same scenario, may or may not be an overlay but might also be too good to ignore by most people. Likely the wiseguy filly in this field.
15 (also-eligible) SUMMER LUCK broke maiden at CD last year, ran as good contender since then but no wins, all with races in the 80s.   Also has very good AWD numbers (Lookin At Lucky/Seasonal, out of Deputy Minister). 5th in the Ashland last time out, bounced to 82 from an 89 in the Davona Dale; I’d play the mild bounceback angle here should she get into the field. Good works in prep: 2 fast ones here at CD.  Not an EDT qualifier.
Pace: Based on one race, this closer needs a fast pace that slows to slightly fast.
Prediction: If she is in the field, I like her for 7th, knocking down all others I’ve mentioned below that ranking to one peg below.
Recap of contenders in order:
Lockdown, Abel Tasman, Salty, Vexatious, Mopotism.
Odds of horses I generally consider to have any chance:
Lockdown 8-5
Abel Tasman 4-1
Salty 5-1
Mopotism 14-1
Ever So Clever, Pacific Woods, Vexatious, Miss Sky Warrior: 29-1.
Future Wager impact:
$2 win bets on:
Farrell 10-1
Abel Tasman 23-1
Daddys Little Darling 28-1
$1 exactas:
Daddy’s Lil Darling/Abel Tasman
Field horses for this wager are: Paradise Woods, Ever So Clever, Salty, Vexatious, Sailor’s Valentine, Wicked Lick, Jordan’s Henny, and Summer Luck if she gets in
Back later with the big KY Derby selections and analysis.

Enlightened Trails update (4/10/17)

With the results of the penultimate Enlightened Trails races already in, there is still the two left at Oaklawn Park this weekend that will put the cap on the bottle.
I resolved both sets of divisions. Here’s the Oaks side first:
Minors: McKenzie Honey was already a winner. Tap It All, winner of the California Oaks, would normally be in, had there not been a Japanese entry. For the lone Japanese entry, I gave the spot to Reine Minoru, who won the top filly race there, the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas). Also won the Kokura Nisai at age 2, and placed in 3 other stakes races at 2. Now 7-3-2-1 lifetime.

Northeast: Miss Sky Warrior and Lockdown, 1-2 in Saturday’s Gazelle, are in the show, plus the Frizette winner, Yellow Agate (just 250 points).

Cali: Paradise Woods and Abel Tasman finished 1-2 in the Santa Anita Oaks. They are in my mythical Oaks, along with Del Mar Debutante winner Union Strike (just 250 points). Union Strike wins tiebreak over It Tiz Well, who was 3rd in the Santa Anita Oaks.

South: With one race to go, Farrell is in for her win in the Fair Grounds Oaks. To this I add the winner of the Florida Oaks, Fifty Five.Also, Salty, winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

Heartland: Purely A Dream, winner of the Bourbonette, and Sailor’s Valentine, winner of the Ashland, are in my Oaks race. I added Daddys Lil Darling, who finished 2nd in both races.

No real drama in this one, except that the Fantasy Stakes remains for those who can potentially knock off those in the South with points. Looking at the nominations, none of my 3 with top points are listed. Next on the list with some points is Vexatious, 250 points for her 3rd spot in the FG Oaks. If she won out, she’d be in my mythical Oaks. How then to resolve between my other 3?
The first tie-breaker is Graded rating. Farrell and Salty both won at Grade 2, ahead of Fifty Five’s Grade 3 win. After that, the next tie-breaker is purse. Farrell’s race was 400k, while Salty’s was 250k. The Fantasy is Grade 3 at 400k, so a new shooter with 0 points that wins out can get into my mythical Oaks. Obviously, any horse with points will have advantage.

Biggest snubs currently are the fillies with 500 points: Jenda’s Agenda, Ghalia, Tap It All, La Coronel, Wicked Lick, Tequilita, and Awesome Boss. I am thinking that the 2nd place finisher in the Fantasy Stakes might have to join this list. Between all these fillies, Lockdown has the tiebreak edge over Tequilita for qualifying.

Comparing to the actual Oaks trail, how are my Future Wager picks holding up?

Daddy’s Lil Darling: 28-1
Abel Tasman 23-1
Farrell 10-1.
These fillies are definitely in the show, currently ranked as 1st, 6th and 7th in actual Oaks points.

I used Daddy’s Lil Darling, Unique Bella and Abel Tasman in exactas to each other, and over/under the field. Since Unique Bella is out, it takes away some possibilities, but a Daddy’s/Abel exacta hit would be amazing, and rather realistic in scoring. Field horses from the future wager right now would be these: Sailors Valentine, Paradise Woods, Salty, Nomorerichblondes, Yorkiepoo Princess, Purely A Dream, Wicked Lick, Jordan’s Henny, Benner Island, Someday Soon, Vexatious, Tapped, Summer Luck, then all horses 10 points and under in the Oaks trail. Of those that are nominated in the Fantasy, these include Elate, Spooky Woods, Nonna Bella, Ever So Clever, Tapa Tapa Tapa, My Sweet Stella, Gris Gris, Torrent, and Princess Karen.
Now to the Derby side, where the divisions look this way:
Northeast: Irish War Cry, Wood Memorial winner, is in, with Practical Joke (Hopeful, Champagne), then Good Samaritan (Summer).
Cali: Gormley, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, is in, then Zakaroff (El Camino Real Derby), followed by Battle Of Midway (2nd in the SA Derby), and More Power To Him (2nd in the El Camino Real)
Heartland: Irap won the Blue Grass Stakes to win this division as well. Fast And Accurate is 2nd for his win in the Spiral. Then I have McCraken who won the KY Jockey Club, then Practical Joke for his 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass. Since I can’t have the same horse rep 2 divisions, I kept him in the Northeast, because to eliminate him from there would bring up a much worse horse than if I were to eliminate him from the Heartland.
Next in the Northeast pecking order would be Good Samaritan, at 250 points and a Grade 1 win. For the Heartland, the next horse would be Blueridge Traveler, 500 points, 2nd in the Spiral. I decided to go with the horse with more points.

South: With the AR Derby still left, here’s what I have: Tapwrit, Hence, Always Dreaming and Girvin, winners of the Tampa Bay Derby, Sunland Derby, Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby, all get in with equal 1000 point totals. Always Dreaming wins the tiebreak, if there were one, because his was a Grade 1 win. The AR Derby winner will be in a flat tie with Always Dreaming because of the same grade, purse and distance. Then it’s a matter of who has points after the big race and who to eliminate.

Minors: Reportedly, none of the Japan entrants for the Derby Trail will want to be part of the show. That’s rather sad, as they do have a good Trail set up there.It’s comparable to other countries, and especially to UAE, who have just the UAE Derby to represent. So I’d go back to having top 4 horses out of this division. The horses for me are Howdy Kingkowboy (Turf Paradise Derby winner), Taco (Texas Heritage Stakes), Twisted Tom (Private Terms Stakes), and O Dionysus (2nd in the Private Terms)

Snubs: Conquest Mo Money, Gunnevara, Patch, all in the highly competitive South division, all with 500.

Future Wager bets took a hit with Mo Town failing to score in the Wood Memorial. Here are the remaining bets still active:
Pool 1:
Wins on
McCraken 12-1
Lookin At Lee 37-1 (needs AR Derby points)
Classic Empire 6-1 (ditto)
Exactas of McCraken over/under field selections
Sire Future Wager:
Bernardini: Takaful nominated to AR Derby, has 2 points, so needs to win out.
Into Mischief, Practical Joke is in the show, a 24-1 opportunity.
Uncle Mo: Royal Mo 10 points, also nominiated, needs 1st or 2nd in the race)

Pool 2:
Win bet on Gunnevara, 24-1 play.
Exacta on McCraken and over/under field.

Pool 3:
Irish Way Cry at 7-1
Gormley at 18-1
Exactas between Classic Empire (32 points, needs a top 3 finish), and McCraken, and both over/under field.

Pool 4:
Wins on
Girvin 17-1
Thunder Snow 23-1
Exactas between Classic Empire/Thunder, plus these over/under field.

2017 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, Derby Pool 3 selections

The major Derby/Oaks preps this past weekend (apart from my usual focused races in the Enlightened Trails series) had a direct impact on the Future pools.   The Rachel Alexandra Stakes saw Farrell, one of the favorites, win out, while the Risen Star saw an upset easily defeat those with actual Derby points.    For this I had to adjust the current/recent pace scores in both pools, and apply accordingly.
For the Oaks Pool, it was clear that Farrell was to be given more credence.  No other categories had an impact.  Here were my top 5 in the Oaks projections: Abel Tasman, Daddys Lil Darling, Unique Belle, Champagne Room, Miss Sky Warrior. The latter filly proved to be too slow with the new pace benchmark. Farrell definitely belonged in the mix now, but where?
I reranked the horses by win possibility. Here are the 3 I placed win bets on:
Daddys Lil Darling: 28-1
Abel Tasman 23-1
Farrell: 10-1
Unique Bella still ranked 3rd but at even-money, too cheap for me.
I used my top 3 horses: Daddys Lil Darling, Unique Bella and Abel Tasman in exactas to each other, and over and under the field (9-1).
Cheapest exacta payout: Unique Bella/Field: $28.20 on $2
Biggest: Daddys Lil Darling/Abel Tasman: 1372 on $2
There was no immediate word on the Brisnet score for Risen Star upset winner Girvin.   Therefore I had to take an educated guess, and apply accordingly (factoring in most recent pace, 2nd most, 3rd most).   I decided that the race would not have as much of an impact as previously figured, and stuck to my pre-Pool guns.  Here are the win bets I did make:
Mo Town 27-1 (double dip, as I have him at 12-1 also)
Irish War Cry 7-1 (barely qualified via odds)
Gormley 18-1
My top 3 horses overall I used in exactas to each other and over/under field of 5-1: Classic Empire, Mo Town, McCraken.  Yes, this a repeat of the exactas from the first pool, but it looks like these deserve to be in the top 3.
Cheapest exacta: Field/McCraken, $67 payout on $2 wager
Biggest payout: Mo Town/Classic Empire: $687 for $2

Oaks Future Wager, Pool 3 Derby Wager analysis

In profiling the sole Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool, I repeat the same variables as I used in last year’s version: dosage (lowest differential in chef-de-race numbers between 2016 Churchill Downs winners and these 23 contenders), combined AWD numbers, longest distance won, overall pace, fastest CD speed figure, positive 2YO progress, and best class won. I took the top 7 in each category and kept all ties.  Ultimately 2 horses proved to be much the best, and I had to split a 3 way tie for the 3rd position.
The benchmarks created by the 23 horses were these:
Top 7 in dosage; combined AWD of at least 14.7, at least one Grade 2 victory, any races at CD, any 2YO progress, 8.5 furlong win, overall pace with projected 91 speed rating or better.
I’ll start with the horses in the tiebreak and who I rank, worst to best:
5th overall is MISS SKY WARRIOR. 4th in her maiden debut at Belmont  in September with 88 Brisnet. Won last 3 races, including maiden win at Parx with 91, then the Grade 3 Tempted and the Grade 2 Demoiselle, both at Aqueduct and with similar scores. Dosage is in the top 7 (First Samurai/Sky Minister, out of Conquistador Cielo). Only filly here with a 9-furlong win.
4th is CHAMPAGNE ROOM. 2nd in maiden debut, winner of the Grade 1 Sorrento, 3rd in the Del Mar Debutante, 4th in the Chandelier, winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, and 3rd last out in the Las Virgiennes. Last 2 races presented a forged new pair of lifetime bests of 94, the latter race coming out of a 3 month layoff and debut at 3. The BC win gives her strong creedence. Positive 2YO pace, improving on her pre Labor-Day best with 94, plus the distance of 8.5 furlongs make her a strong candidate.
3rd is the highly regarded UNIQUE BELLA. 2nd in maiden debut, winner at 2nd try with 99 BRIS. Winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Las Virgiennes, both at Santa Anita. Good AWD numbers (Tapit/Unrivaled Belle, out of Unbridled’s Song). Thanks to the 106 score last out, she’s got the best overall pace of the field. Positive 2YO pace progress between her maiden races.   Not my top pick despite her success and odds-on favorite status.
In my top 2:
DADDYS LIL DARLING won maiden race in 2nd try at Ellis Park last July. Won the Grade 2 Pocahontas at CD (exceeded past pre-Labor Day score of 81 with 84), then 2nd in the Alcibiad, 4th in the BC Juvenile Fillies, 2nd in the Golden Rod back at CD. All 4 races at the 8.5 furlong distance. Dosage is in top 7 (Scat Daddy/Miss Hot Salsa, out of Houston).
Top pick in the Future Wager pick is ABEL TASMAN. 5th in maiden debut, won 2nd effort, then won a 59k allowance race, and the Grade 1 Starlet in December (8.5 furlongs). Last 2 races over 90 Brisnet. Top 7 AWD numbers (Quality Road/Vargas Girl by Deputy Minister). Top 7 in overall pace. Positive 2YO pace progress (moved from 70 to 79)
The plan for wagering:
Win bets on my top 3 here if the odds are worse than 5-1. 4th and 5th horses get priority if a horse is at 5-1 or better.
Exacta bets between my top 3, plus over and under the ‘field’ selection.
Two races this weekend undoubtedly will change how the odds will appear for Sunday. That would be the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Aqu Stakes on 2/25.  If need be, I’ll provide an update.  I am working on 2/26, so my wager might take place early Sunday.   The one issue I do not know is whether the Future is simply open throughout the weekend or if it closes daily on each day.


 As with Pool 2 on the Derby, I use the same categories to determine who is best in each. I kept the top 7, breaking ties as seen fit.
My scheme for wagering will be this:
Win bets on my top 3 horses, excluding those that I’ve been on in prior pools. If I have a prior bet on them that is possibly paying out $10 more than in a prior pool, then I can make a 2nd wager. Otherwise, I go down the line to others.
I will use exactas between my top 3, plus above/below field selection.  If in the event I repeat an exacta from a prior pool, the payout must be higher than in prior; if lower, I will ignore.

Here are the benchmarks created by my top 23:
Dosage: Top 7

AWD: Combined 14.6
Class: At least a Grade 2 victory
CD: Any CD runs
Pace: 96 or better in the last 3 races.
2YO pace progress
Longest distance. 8.5 furlongs is ideal.
Now for the top 6:

Ranked 6th is GORMLEY. Won his maiden debut at 60k level at Del Mar in September.  Won the Grade 1 Front Runner at Santa Anita after that (route debut, 8.5 furlongs) with a strong 97. 7th in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Won the Grade 3 Sham with new small top of 102, starting his 3YO campaign.   Top 7 Dosage profile (Malibu Moon/Race To Urga, out of Bernstein.  Top 7 in pace. 15-1 ML.  His next race is the San Felipe on 3/11.

Ranked 5th is EL AREEB. Winner of last 4 including the Jerome, the Withers and the JF Lewis. Top AWD numbers (Exchange Rate/Feathered Diamond, out of AP Indy). High ranking pace numbers; last 3: 99, 102, 100. Positive pace progression. The Withers win was at 8.5 furlongs.  20-1 at ML. I already have him in exactas with Guest Strike, McCraken and the Pool 2 field, plus win at 32-1. Probably no win bet here if his odds remain at 20-1.  Not sure when he races next.
Ranked 4th is IRISH WAR CRY. Undefeated in 3, with pace scores of 99, 100, 102, plus wins in the Marylander and the Grade 2 Holy Bull at 8.5 furlongs. Top 7 in AWD (Curlin/Irish Sovereign, out of Polish Numbers).   ML is 12/1, hopefully around this number to use as a win, maybe even in exactas. He will be in the Fountain Of Youth, 3/4.
Ranked 3rd is MCCRAKEN. Undefeated in 4, with wins in the Street Sense, the KY Jockey Club (Grade 2), and the Sam F Davis (Grade 3), the latter 2 at 8.5 furlongs. 3 races at Churchill, best run was 94.  Top 7 in dosage (Ghostzapper/Ivory Empress, out of Seeking The Gold). I have him as 12-1 from Pool 1, and exactas with Hemsworth and Mo Town, Guest Suite and El Areeb, and under/over field selections in the prior pools.  It will be interesting to see how he fares in exacta pools.  I do not expect to wager win bets on him here considering the 12-1 standard.  Next for him is the Tampa Bay Derby on 3/11.
Ranked 2nd is MO TOWN: Winner of the 9 furlong, Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, this after his 2nd maiden race. Top 7 AWD numbers (Uncle Mo/Grazile Mille, out of Bernardini). Remsen score was 101, an improvement over his 89 debut.  Only other horse to win at 9 furlongs.  15/1 at ML. I have him at 12-1. Might be wagering win on him…definite for exactas.  Next race is coming up Saturday in the Risen Star. A lot will hinge on that race.

Top rank is CLASSIC EMPIRE. Winner of the Bashford Manor, the Breeders Futurity and the BC Juvenile. Unfinished in the Hopeful, 3rd in the Holy Bull, bouncing from 108 to 92.  Debuted his career with 2 races at CD, 94 his best effort. Positive pace progress. Last 2 wins came at 8.5 furlongs.  ML odds are 8-1. I have him at 6-1 from Pool 1. If he somehow takes less money, maybe 12-1 or worse, I will place another win bet. Definite for exactas.  Either races in the San Felipe or Tampa Bay Derby.

2015 Kentucky Oaks analysis, selections, wagering

And here we are with Derby and Oaks week upon us, the first week of another Churchill Downs meet, where the track bias is still up for grabs, the crowds are insanely large and overseen by an organization that is largely criticized these days over matters of takeout % and other financial matters.  It recalls a passage in Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent And Depraved”: ’Pink faces with stylish Southern sag, old Ivy styles, seersucker coats and buttondown collars. “Mayblossom Senility” … burnt out early or maybe just not much to burn in the first place…’
Maybe I’ll head to Louisville once just to say I’ve been to the grand old track, and for either the Oaks or Derby. Certainly those races are a pretty big deal, the representation of the best that thoroughbred racing has to offer, even if the format is skewed toward one coast or the other, and few tracks at that that have the impact on the field.    I know for certain that I do want to cover big races in person, and that may well be in the near future as I continue to roll out the next Derby/Oaks Trail campaign.
Putting aside the Derby for this post in favor of the Oaks, I wanted to see if the Oaks Trail matched up with mine.  The horses that I included in my Trail that didn’t make this year’s field were Don’t Leave Me, Maybellene, Sharla Rae, Luminence, and By The Moon.  So with 9 of 14 horses that I approve of, I say the actual Trail seems to be OK.  What about the horses that got in that I didn’t rank high enough? Those fillies are Eskenformoney, Forever Unbridled, Peace and War (also-eligible), Oceanwave, and Sarah Sis.

As for handicapping this week, I had done an experiment, by which I considered being in a $10 satellite to a Saturday contest, en route to a seat in Vegas for a major handicapping contest there.  I tried my own hand at 8 contest races used last week (measured by mythical $2 win/place bets) and measured the average results. Seems that, to advance to the Saturday final, for Wednesday contests I would need to generate $45.   I scored about $26 on my own.   It was enough for me to put off doing that contest.  Maybe I’ll consider it in June.
I do have these contests I play in:  Emerald Downs (Friday through Sunday, last 6 races each), Remington Park (3 races, quarter horses, Thursday through Sunday, elimination event).  Soon I’ll also take part in Meadowlands and the annual Survival At The Shore at Monmouth (3 races a day, I think 3 days a week, elimination event)

So let’s go horse-by-horse for the Kentucky Oaks!

FOREVER UNBRIDLED: 3rd in 2 Grade 3 events. Did not qualify for the Enlightened Oaks Trail. Placed in all 5 lifetime events, 4 at Fair Grounds, 1 at Churchill as maiden debut. 3 works since the Fair Grounds Oaks, 2 local, 1 fast. Holds an 87 Brisnet in the Silverbulletday, then up to lifetime best 93 in the Rachel Alexandra, down again to an 88 last time. Definitely a bounceback candidate. Once a winner while stretching out and as a shipper, and is one of 4 horses waiting since late March while stretching in distance from 8.5 furlongs.   Not in my top 10. Projected odds: 42-1 or worse.

SHOOK UP Alternating 2nd place finishes, lone win at maiden level. Was a replacement qualifier in the EOT for her 2nd place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks last out. No rain in the forecast for Friday, otherwise she’d rank a bit better for her good off-track performances as maiden.  Prior win gaining in distance, as shipper and also has waited since late March to stretch out. 3 works, 1 bullet at Churchill. Not in my top 10.  Projected odds: 42-1 or worse.
INCLUDE BETTY won the Fantasy Stakes (Grade 3) last time, along with the Suncoast at Tampa Bay. Qualified in the EOT as replacement candidate. ROI angle: Rosemary Homeister Jr and Thomas Proctor have combined for 6 races, winning 1, for 4.60 return. Small new top in pace achieved at 3 with an 83 to break maiden, later succeeded by an 86 in the Florida Oaks and a 91 in the Fantasy. I’ve ranked this closer as fastest of the field, should she get the proper trip, like she did in the Fantasy.  Owns a win as a shipper.  I rank her 3rd in the field of 14 and the best of the few overlays in the field. Projected odds: 6-1.
ESKENFORMONEY 2nd in the Gulfstream Park Oaks last out, 3rd in the Davona Dale before that with lifetime best 104 Brisnet. 2 works, 1 fast one at Churchill, one bullet. One shipping win. Also stretching from 8.5 furlongs since 3/28. Not in my top 10.  Projected odds: 42-1.
CONDO COMMANDO: Winner of 5 of 6 including the Gazelle, the Busher, the Demoiselle, and the Grade 1 Spinaway. Highest score in the EOT overall. Fastest for the 9-furlong distance with wins at 97 and 102 Brisnet. 2 of his 5 wins are from a similar middle post. She’s also the lone pure speed in the race (last 3 first-call numbers range from 92 to 110). Last 3 races have seen a triple-up in pace, 97 to 102, strongly above her previous.  Has the best trip coming in of any horse in the field.  This sprinter won gate-to-wire in the Gazelle last time out over 9 furlongs at Aqueduct.. One of 4 horses to run 9 furlongs lifetime but the only horse to win.  I rank her as my favorite    Projected odds: 7-5.
ANGELA RENEE Winner of the Grade 1 Chandelier, lifetime 8-2-2-2, running mainly in Graded events.  Qualified for the EOT. Top average-winning-distance numbers of the field (sire Bernardini and damsire Deputy Minister). Prior win stretching out. 2 works, 2 fast, 1 at Churchill.  Definitely has the inherent factors but little other evidence for winning.  Projected odds 40-1.
LOVELY MARIA: Winner of the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes. Qualified for the EOT. First or 2nd in all but 1 of 7 lifetime. Last 3 races racing over 89 Brisnet, new lifetime best beyond her 2YO best of 89.  1 fast work at Churchill. One win while stretching out.  Outside contender. Projected odds: 25-1.
I’M A CHATTERBOX Winner of 4 of 6 including the Silverbulletday, the Rachel Alexandra and the Fair Grounds Oaks, all since layoff and claim by Ken McPeek. Those 3 races represented new lifetime best scores, all close together in the 90s.  Owns a stretchout win (maiden), and 2 shipping wins.  EOT qualifier. Also waiting since 3/28 for this one. While waiting, posted 2 fast works, one at Churchill.  Not ranked in my top 10, as her numbers are dwarfed by others. Projected odds: 40-1. I do think she’s a huge underlay.
MONEY’S ON CHARLOTTE won an ungraded stakes event at Gulfstream Park West last autumn. Not an EOT qualifier. Has a strong recovery pace angle: Since that stakes win she was on layoff until January, scoring an 87 in the Silverbulletday, bouncing to a 58 in the Davona Dale, then matched her 2YO best score of 91 last out in the Gazelle. Might bounce here but I’m doubtful. Both lifetime wins come from a middle post. Projected odds 12-1 and likely overlay.
OCEANWAVE has placed in all 5 lifetime events, including 2nd in the Fantasy and Honeybee Stakes. Not an EOT qualifier, only because Shook Up scored in a higher Graded race. Forged new lifetime tops of 84, 85, 90 last 3 races. Both lifetime wins from a middle post position. Slight possibility of a bounce from these numbers. Projected odds: 12-1, and another overlay.
SARAH SIS won the Grade 3 Honeybee. Not an EOT qualifier. First or 2nd in all but 1 of 7 races. Did not rank in any one category of my variables. Does own one prior shipper and stretchout win. Not in my top 10.   Projected odds: 42-1 or worse.
STELLAR WIND Winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, both after layoff and reclaim by trainer John Sadler. Jockey Victor Espinoza has run with Sadler 15 times in the last 60 days, earning 6 wins, 9 total placings, for an ROI of 2.31. EOT qualifier. Set short new lifetime bests of 95 and 98 last 2 races, tho the 95 in the Santa Ysabel was more than 8 weeks ago. 2 of his 3 lifetime wins come from an outside post. Paired up Brisnet scores just ahead of her prior best of 90 suggests a possible bounce in some cases but actually may be an asset here. Prior win stretching out and as shipper. I’ve ranked her virtually tied with Include Betty, but I broke the tie giving Stellar Wind the advantage (narrowly so) for having the Grade 1 victory.  Ranked 3rd on my list.  Projected odds: 6-1.
BIRDATTHEWIRE won the Gulfstream Park Oaks and the Forward Gal, and was 2nd in the Davona Dale, all Grade 2 races.  EOT qualifier. Best Churchill Downs showing of this field, breaking maiden here with a 93 score in November. Last 3 races represented new lifetime tops of 94, 104, and 97, all ahead of her 2YO best of 93.  Definite bounceback in pace here. Best works of the field: 3 works at Churchill, 2 very fast. One of four horses who last rode on 3/28 and is stretching out. Prior wins stretching out and as shipper too.  No question she has more numbers that point to her winning now, but is outranked among better. Projected odds: 25-1.
PUCA shares some of the best pedigree of the field (Big Brown-Boat’s Ghost, out of supersire Silver Ghost). Top pedigree measured by differential among those who win at Churchill, using 2014 numbers.  Only win came at maiden. 2nd in the Gazelle last time out. Only horse in field to switch back to jockey she won prior with, that jock being Junior Alvarado. Here’s how she broke her maiden:
No other evidence to support her winning on Friday.  Projected odds: 40-1.
PEACE AND WAR is the lone also-eligible filly with 3 races in England before winning the Grade 1 Alcibiad right off the boat at 23-1, then a 7th in the Grade 1 Ashland. Despite her shipping win, and 2 quick works at Keeneland, she doesn’t rank at all with this top quality field.  Projected odds: 40-1.
Here’s my top 3:
1st: Condo Commando
2nd: Stellar Wind
3rd: Include Betty
I you know me, you know I don’t do anything more risky than simple $2 win bets and $1 exactas. I will typically wager win bets on horses in my top 3 that are worse than 5-1 in the wagering. I include my top 3 in exactas to each other tho I will not play favorite with favorite (essentially, any horse at 7-2 or better).
Future wager has to be factored in here as well.  In that lone pool, I played win bets on Birdatthewire (12-1), Take Charge Brandi (7-1) and Cristina’s Journey (80-1) and also exactas to each other plus exactas over and under the field horses.    SInce then, we’ve seen that Birdatthewire is the lone horse to make the show and is 6-1 at the morning-line. Should she fall to worse than 12-1 in the wagering I will place another win bet on her and exactas using whoever is the public favorites over her. If her odds are still strong I’ll leave her be.
The field selections I already have at 7-2.  As mentioned, I have them hooked up in exactas with Birdatthewire.   The fillies represented as the field choices are Include Betty, Money’soncharlotte, Stellar Wind. Interesting that my top 3 are 2 of the field wagers.   If any of these 3 should be worse than 7-2 in wagering by the public, I might use them in wins and exactas over and under public faves. I’m strongly believe Stellar Wind will be the exception to include here, as the other two have much worse morning-line odds.
As mentioned the most likely overlays are Include Betty, Money’soncharlotte and Oceanwave.  It may be a case of using overlays to win and under my top 3 in exactas (total of 8 exactas I think).  This is all subject to change.
Honestly I’m torn between using my top 3 and the public top choices when it comes to playing exacta values. I’ll keep ruminating on this.
So that’s how I’m planning to wager. Best of luck!

Enlightened Derby/Oaks Trail season wrapup

The work of the Enlightened Derby and Oaks Trails for the Derby prep season is just about over, all except for the shouting and publishing.   Here’s the final list
I don’t care how accurate I am with the actual Derby or Oaks Trails. I care that the proper horses are in the big show.  My Trails were borne from the idea of being inclusive, giving the ‘minor’ and smaller tracks more representation, and ending the top-heavy conditions that exists on both US coasts.  Also, as much as I want to give the Dubai races credence, I wanted the best of those racing here in North America. It will prove to be successful when we see less races on the actual Trail from Cali and NY, and more races in the Heartland itself, and more of the smaller tracks directly impacting the show. I want another All-American story like Mine That Bird to happen It’s good for the sport. Did you see “50 To 1” on the big screen?

Is there another Mine That Bird story here? Maybe so. Here’s my general takeaway:
It’s no huge surprise that the major races at the end have most of the horses that do make my list.  19 of the 38 races on my Derby Trail have at least one in my mythical field. A nice mix too: All 5 Cali and South races make that list each, and 3 from the others each also.  Top prep race had to be the Wood Memorial, with the top 4 all in my mythical field of 20.
Conquest Typhoon it seems won’t be in the show despite my own inclusion. All he did was win at Woodbine and place at Turfway Park and Golden Gate. Metaboss won’t be there either. His score was at Golden Gate. Nor will Ami’s Flatter who placed in Tampa Bay and at Gulfstream.  Yet they are in my 20.
The actual Derby field includes one horse that scored points from off the continent. It’s fine but I’m keeping my field American until it’s time for such a change.
The biggest snub for me, the best horse from my field that won’t make my mythical field but will make the actual Derby is Upstart. 3rd in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, 2nd in the Champagne, 2nd in the Florida Derby.  Someone has to be first out.  Far Right is not far behind, finishing 2nd in the Arkansas Derby, 3rd in the Delta Downs Jackpot. But he will be in Louisville.

Due to Dubai Sky prematurely leaving the Trail, and Carpe Diem’s edge in 2 divisions, I had to bring in 2 horses with best points overall not in the show.  Those 2 are Firing Line (won the Sunland Park Derby) and Ami’s Flatter. Both horses did very well in the Southern division and get the nod from me.
Bodhisattva, with just 250 points, has the fewest of anyone getting into my field. He finished 2nd in the Private Terms at Laurel.
Finishing up with the actual Derby Trail comparisons: Itsaknockout,Bolo, Ocho and War Story didn’t score enough to warrant a spot, and Mr. Z again failed to win a competitive race despite placing again.

Fun fact: 1 Derby point was equal to $8233 in non-restricted stakes earnings. Make of that what you will. Stanford earned less than half that rate to make the actual field. The Truth Or Else earned double the rate and likely is not getting in. Nor will Metaboss despite his win in the El Camino Real at Golden Gate.

Fun fact 2: Mr Z makes the actual Derby field. This means I have 1 more active chance to score and profit on the race itself.  The horses I have win wagers on are these, among those with enough points: El Kabeir, Mr. Z, Dortmund, International Star, Upstart.  Bold Conquest might back in if there are further defections but there are 3 ahead of him right now.   With that in place, I only have active exacta possibilities using International Star over and under the field from Pool 3, and the same with Upstart from Pool 4.   Tell you what, if Bold Conquest makes the show and somehow scores for me…

My plan is to make further wagers on those 5 in the Derby if I can get worse odds that what I used in the pools. This wager will be separate from how I actually analyze the Derby and whom I target as contenders for the day of.
The field horses from Pool 3 I imagine are these: Frosted, Mubtaahij, Tencendur, One Lucky Dane, Stanford. If we include the top 24,we can add Madefromlucky, Frammento and Bold Conquest.
Field horses in Pool 4 appear to be these: Danzig Moon, Tencendur, One Lucky Dane, Stanford, Ocho Ocho Ocho. If we go to the top 24, we can just add Frammento.
Next Saturday I return with another contest opportunity from The Racing Biz.Maybe I can make it two months in a row?