2018 Travers Stakes (plus stakes undercard) analysis & selections

Travers Day is upon us, and with some cool ties to
the Breeders Cup Challenge Series. The Travers
itself, plus the Personal Ensign for the fillies, are 2
races that award automatic entries for winners of
those races. I suppose the others have to buy their
way in.
I have, as promised, the results of my handicapping
covering the Travers Stakes and the 4 stakes races
for its undercard (the Ballston Spa, which runs after,
is not included. Should that be considered the
‘post-card’ event?).
H ALLEN JERKENS STAKES: Grade 1, 7 furlongs,
3YOs, $500k purse.
Top 3 are 8-3-1: Firenze Fire, Engage, Promises
Fulfilled. Projected overlays: Seven Triumphs.
With the ML favored Firenze Fire ahead in my picks,
this is likely a race to pass up. I will say that Seven
Triumphs does warrant some attention. He switches
from Belmont after a 6 week layoff. He’s been 1st or
2nd first after layoff in 3rd lifetime situations. Won
a $100k optional claimer event on a sloppy
Churchill track late May, returning to his 2YO best
speeds. One of several with great worktabs: 4
works in all, all at Saratoga, 2 bullets. 2nd last time
out in the Grade 3 Dwyer. Closed on the leader by .5
lengths at 2nd call. I say to use him with my top 3.
Odds prediction: Firenze Fire is the lone mover.
Being an early main favorite, he should be taking a
ton of money. Wager at your peril.

PERSONAL ENSIGN STAKES: Grade 1, 9 furlongs,
3YO+ fillies, mares, $700k. Top 3: 6-3-4: Elate,
Fuhriously Kissed, Wow Cat. Overlays: Fuhriously
Kissed, and She Takes Heart.
Just a 6-horse field, and the front half taking most
of the money here. I will take the gamble on the 2
double-digit longshots. Fuhriously Kissed is the
one I see for a possible upset under the ML favored
Elate. 3 of 19 lifetime who hasn’t won since an
optional claimer race last summer at the Spa.
Generally mixed blessings since, with 3 3rd-place
finishes in stakes races. Despite his pace pattern
around 90, I like that he has a pattern at all, unlike
his peers here. Also he’s the lone late closer.
She Takes Heart set a huge lifetime best of 98,while
finishing 2nd in the Add Elegance, improving a ton
from the Princess Rooney late June. Despite the
bounce risk, I’ll play here. Also, do note the track
bias. Half of the 9-furlong races run on the Spa dirt
track have been won by sprinters. 18% of horses in
posts 1-3 at this distance have won.
Odds prediction: Only one trend here, and it seems
that Elate, morning-lane favorite, will actually take
less money. She is potentially bouncing back in
pace after 3 double digit scores, and is the lone
horse to excel at 2nd call vs leader last time out.
Pretty good race to wager.

BALLERINA STAKES: Grade 1, $500k purse, 7
furlongs, for fillies/mares 3YO+. Top 3 are 9-4-
5…Highway Star, Cairenn, Finley’sluckycharm.
Overlays: Highway Star, Cairenn, Union Strike.
Undoubtedly a very attractive race to wager.
Highway Star was 2nd in 4 of her last 5 races, and
last won in last year’s Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Stakes
with a 96. Finally surpassed this with a 100 last
time out in the Grade 3 Bed O’ Roses at Belmont,
June 8. That score matched her lifetime best. She
actually could have won that race had she not run
3-4 wide in pursuit of Lewis Bay. Best works of this
field: 4 in all, 3 at Saratoga, 1 with a bullet.
Cairenn, following trainer switch to Graham Motion
from 25% winner Mark Reid, has run her best
lifetime races…98 running 3rd in the Bed O’ Roses,
then a 93 in a 75k stakes race, then 97 in a 100k
stakes event early this month at the Spa. Last win
came on 4/2, vs 25k optional claimers. I am a fan
of the recent pace pattern.
Union Strike is just out of the barn of Alvin Ruis,
and into the company of Steve Asmussen, winning
at a 21% clip. Last win was in April of 2017, in the
Santa Paula at Santa Anita. Not much success in
Graded company since those races, save a 2nd
place finish in last year’s Eight Belles at Churchill.
She’s the lone late closer of the field.
Odds movement: Two of the prominently favored
horses should be taking more than usual:
Finley’sluckycharm, and Lewis Bay. Meanwhile, two
others might get ignored by the public: the
aforementioned Union Strike, and longest of
longshots in Tequilita. Tequilita has very steady
fast pace figures 4 races into her 4YO career, since
a 6 month layoff.

Update: Following this morning’s scratch of Highway Star, I’m going with Cairenn, Finley’sluckycharm, and Union Strike as my new top 3. Overlays are the same.

FOREGO STAKES: Grade 1, $600k purse, 7 furlongs
for 3YO+. Top 3 here are 7-8-1: Warrior’s Club,
City of Light, and Limousine Liberal. Overlays:
Warrior’s Club. Last win was the Commonwealth,
Grade 3 event at Keeneland back in April. Finished
2nd in the Churchill Downs Stakes with a 99, 10th
in the Metropolitan with a 92, 3rd in the Kelly’s
Landing with a small new top of 101, and 2nd last
out in the AG Vanderbilt a month ago, with a 100. I
like the paired up high scores, even if it comes at a
bit of a bounce risk. Ran a bit wide in the
Vanderbilt, and might have ran a faster race off the
slightly fast pace. D Wayne Lukas has done well
with her since that effort; she’s a month away from
the track, longest layoff of those stretching out
Odds movement: I don’t like longshot No Dozing or
4th ML choice CZ Rocket, but both threaten to take
a lot more $ than normal, more so than in the other
races on this undercard. No Dozing exploded to a
104 last time out a month ago, and is quite the
bounce risk. CZ Rocket did likewise last time out
while winning the Kellys Lounge, but his
connections haven’t run at Saratoga this meet, and
also face a bounce. Tough call as she’s got the best
speed rating for the distance, a huge 108. As for
those who may take less money, Whitmore, who is
3rd ML choice, could be ignored. Good pedigree
compared to these (Pleasantly Perfect/Melody’s
Spirit, out of Scat Daddy) I’d still key Warrior’s Club
among the threatening chalk in another possible

SWORD DANCER STAKES: 12 furlongs on Saratoga’s
inner turf course. Grade 1, $1000k purse for 3YO+.
Top 2 here are easily the favored Sadler’s Joy
(lukewarm ML edge at 7-2) and Funtastic. I can’t
separate those behind them, mainly Spring Quality
and longshot Revved Up, who appears to be the
lone overlay here.
Revved Up could shake up this relatively chalky
field. He goes from Shug McGaughey’s barn to Jorge
Abreu’s (16 to 19%). Last won in November in an
80k optional claimer, with a year’s best 98. Mixed
blessings since: 3rd in the River City, 6th in the
Gulfstream Park Turf, 9th in the Muzin Memorial,
4th in a 100k OC race, and 2nd last out in the
Arlington Handicap. Owns at least one win first off
layoff. 5 works in prep…all at the Spa, tho none
very fast. This late closer did improve on the leader
last time out, and does need a fast pace late to set
up a win.
Odds movement: Lots of money flying about here..
Horses that I predict to be bet down: Funtastic, plus
longshots Glorious Empire and Highland Sky.
Glorious Empire is just off his lifetime of 98, paired
with a 93 prior to that, 2 straight wins. Highland
Sky has had very similar story, a new small top of
99, plus a similar run of 94 last out.
Horses getting ignored here include Hi Happy and
Bigger Picture, 2 good value horses. Hi Happy
could be the sleeper of the Travers undercard.
Started his 6YO career with a 3rd place in the GP
Turf, 1st race after switch from Felipe Souza to 17%
Todd Pletcher. Won the Pan American and Man
O’War with 101s. 3rd in the Manhattan with a 96,
then bounced to a 90 in the Bowling Green last
month here. I’m rooting for him to do a nice
bounceback. I also like his last 3 2nd call numbers
very much…111, 102, 95.
Bigger Picture is the lone early closer here. Also, he
ran a 97 in the Bowling Green last time out, and ran
it increasingly wide throughout the 11-furlong

TRAVERS: 10 furlongs of championship racing,
$1250k purse for leading 3YOs. Top 3 are Vino
Rosso, Wonder Gadot, and King Zachary. Overlays:
Vino Rosso, King Zachary, Mendelssohn. This is
the other major race today worth playing.
Vino Rosso, following his triumph in the Wood
Memorial with a 102, bounced to 91 in the KY
Derby, then up again to 105 in the Belmont, then
down again to 93 last time in the Jim Dandy just a
month ago. Uptick again? Sure, why not? I’ll figure
he’ll return right back to triple digits.
Wonder Gadot, carrying 121 to the boys’ 126, may
have the edge right there. She was 2nd in the
Fantasy Stakes with an 84, peaked to a 102 in the
KY Oaks, was 2nd in the Woodbine Oaks with a 91,
then won the Queen’s Plate with a 98, and also the
Prince of Wales with an 88. Also choosing the
bounceback angle here.
King Zachary was 6th in the Wood Memorial, then
won a 75k OC race, also won the Matt Winn at
Churchill with a lifetime best 99, then bounced
again to 93 while finishing 4th in the Indiana Derby.
Best AWD numbers of these (Curlin/On My Way,
out of Giant’s Causeway). Owns the best work tab
too: 4 works, 3 at the Spa, 2 very fast, 1 a bullet.
Mendelssohn won last year’s BC Juvenile Turf, then
the UAE Derby and Dubai World Cup. Finished last
in the KY Derby, and then 3rd in the Grade 3 Dwyer
in early July. Might bounce from that 90 effort last
time, tho he’s waited longest of those stretching
Odds: I see outright longshot Trigger Warning
taking more $. He’d put up a 99 and 96 as a new
pair of tops. He placed in the Indiana and Ohio
Derbies. Prior to that, he won the 100k Tom Ridge,
and a 28k allowance. I don’t like him but he’s
bound to get bet down by others. Meistermind will
get some attention, too. A lifetime router, it took
him 5 tries to break maiden. Then he paired up that
95 score with a 90 last time on a muddy Saratoga
track. I think he’s being set up for a bounce today.

Wonder Gadot naturally deserves attention for being
the filly, but it won’t translate into $. The savvy
horseplayers will definitely give her a favorable look
but most will sense she’s got too much to

Update: Following the scratch of Meistermind, my top 3 are basically the same, with a new order of Vino Rosso, King Zachary, Wonder Gadot. Overlays remain the same.

Analyzing the Travers Day card…

Lots to get to with Travers Day in focus. I’ll list my top 3 for each race on the card, along with overlays.  I will update this post upon scratches and changes, which should be around 7am. Overlays stated below were decided based on original morning line.  Revised overlays will be tracked and communicated on Twitter at @idealisticstats
Race 1 is for 2YO maidens at the 93k level, going 6 furlongs. Top 3 are Reckling, Factor of War, and Your Secret’s Safe.
Reckling was 2nd in her debut here vs 83k maidens, with best distance and track speed figure of this field, an 83. I like how she gained some on the leader between the first 2 call points.
Race 2 is for 93k maidens also (3YO+), 9 furlongs on the turf, 93k purse also. Top 3 are the favored Sport, then Nseventeen, then Brianbakescookies.  Sport as a deep closer hasn’t yet reached top 3 at most call points in 4 races. All have been turf routes. Best distance speed rating with a 67, in his proper debut. Followed up with scores of 84 to 90 since, a strong pattern. Improved slightly at 2nd call last time out, first race following a 7 week layoff. Also gained 1.5 lengths on leader at 2nd call.
Race 3 is an optional claiming event, 62.5k, non winners of 3, 6.5 furlongs. Top 3: Jimbo Fallon, Tiz Shea D, and Cerro (no longer coupled entry).
 Race 4: Back to the turf, 8.5 furlongs for fillies/mares 3YO+, nonwinners of 2, 95k.   Top 3 are Mighty Souper, Wedding Dress and Stella Rose.
Mighty Souper’s 93 speed rating 3 races ago is best for track and distance. Best pace numbers of the field in general, and a pattern of low 90’s scores. Improved on leader last time out by 4.5 lengths, and gained 19 points between last 2 races.
Race 5: is an optional claimer for 3YO+, 11 furlongs on the inner turf, 25k, non winners of 2. Top 3 are the favored Revved Up, then Havana Moon, then Bingo Kitten.
Revved Up broke maiden status last time, following an 8 week layoff. 7 weeks later and 4 great local works, here he is again, ready to score.
Race 6 is the Grade 1, 750k Personal Ensign, 9 furlong race for fillies/mares 3YO +.  Top 3 in this field of 5 are Forever Unbridled, I’m A Chatterbox, and Cavorting.  Likely to be the chalkiest of races today.  Forever Unbridled won the Apple Blossom, the Houston Ladies Classic and the Comely as far as Graded races go. Daughter of Unbridled and Lemons Forever, herself sired by Lemon Drop Kid. 103 score is best for distance of these (last year’s Comely). Good pattern of speed figures around 100.  Best workouts of the field here too.
Race 7 is the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes for fillies/mares 3YO+, 500k purse, 7 furlongs.  Top 3: Birdatthewire, Spelling Again, and By The Moon. Top 2 are also my two overlays.
A competitive record but no wins since the La Brea last December, Birdatthewire comes out of a sloppy route in the Molly Pitcher. Generally running in the 90s, strong pattern compared to others. Dale Romans has her for 4th race since reclaim, and removes blinkers.
Race 8 is the King’s Bishop Stakes, Grade 1, 500k  for top 3YOs, at 7 furlongs. Top 3: Tom’s Ready, Fish Trappe Road, and Mind Your Biscuits.   Value galore in this one.
Tom’s Ready very competitive in his career, comes out a win in the Woody Stephens, plus an 11 week layoff. Track bias is being kind to early-pressers (39% winners) and outside posts.   Turn time of 22.6 between last 2 races, a 1.6 gain.
Race 9 is the Grade 1 Forego Stakes, for 3YO+, going 7 furlongs, 700k purse.   Top 3 are The Truth Or Else, Ready for Rye, and AP Indian.
 The Truth Or Else might be 30-1 but I like him. One of 2 horses to have recent small top over last year’s best. 2 races back he scored a 102 at 6 muddy furlongs at Belmont. Only deep closer in the field. Turn time of 21.8 plus downturn in speed figure last out in the Tale of The Cat Stakes reveals he’s got more in the tank today.
Race 10 is the Sword Dancer Stakes for 3YO+, 12 furlongs on the inner turf, for $1 million.  Top 3 are Twilight Eclipse, Inordinate and the heavily favored Flintshire.
Twilight Eclipse as a 7YO has 8 lifetime wins, most recently a 90k allowance race at Belmont on 7/8.  Best current pace numbers of the field, with pace pattern around 100.  Made contact with the gate last time out in the Bowling Green on 7/30, yet still posted a sharp 101 score for 11 furlongs.   Only early closer in the field.
Next is the marquee race, the Travers Stakes, for top 3YO going 10 furlongs, and for a 1.25 million purse.  Top 3 horses are My Man Sam, Governor Malibu and Destin.
My Man Sam won his 2nd maiden race (first at route), then 2nd in an 80k optional claimer, 2nd in the Blue Grass, 11th in the KY Derby, and 2nd in an 85k allowance here on 7/23.  Gained 1 length on leader by 2nd call last time, and increased speed figure by 3 points, his first race since the Run for The Roses.
12th Race is the Ballston Spa, Grade 2, 8.5 furlongs on the turf for fillies/mares 3YO+, 400k purse. Top 3 are Strike Charmer, Excilly, and Sentiero Italia. Top 2 are overlays.
Strike Charmer is a 6YO with 5 wins in 20. Last win was the Beaugay at Belmont on 5/14.  That race produced a 100 Brisnet, best for the distance of this field. Seems to have the best pace numbers, running with a pattern in the high 90s. Last time out here in the Diana, she posted a 99 while running 3 wide late.
Finally the 13th race, an 85k allowance for 3YO+, statebred nonwinners of 2, 8.5 furlongs on the inner turf.   Top 3 are Kerjillion, Lucky Town and Space Oddity.
Kerjillion is strongly favored. 4 for 4 in the money, racing vs statebred only. 87 speed figure in 2014 is still best for track, distance and surface. 80 last time out 3 weeks ago. had some traffic trouble tho still finished 3rd. Slight gain in speed figure last time out plus 2 length gain on winner by 2nd call.
An exciting day of racing for sure, with the King’s Bishop and the Travers promising to deliver the most value.  The all-Graded Pick 4, with a guaranteed $1 million payout, yours at .50 per combo, looks most inviting.

Stakes analysis, picks (Arlington Park, Albuquerque, Saratoga)

Today I cover 7 races for you, 5 consecutive at Arlington Park, 1 at Arapahoe Park, and 1 at Albuquerque for the Enlightened Trails.   Not much time before they race at AP, so I’ll post just my top 3 and detailed analysis of my top pick only, and any possible overlays based on morning-line.
At AP first, race 5 is the BRUCE D MEMORIAL, 75k for 3YOs going 1 mile on the all-weather track.  Top 3 are Yo Carm, Runningfromthefeds, and Michael J.   No favorites in the top 3 so I’d key it for playing against favorites.
Yo Carm is 9-2-2-0 lifetime, returning to his home track yet has never run on the AW track here. Winner of an optional claimer in January, he’s failed to place in Graded events. Best mile speed figure for the field, achieved in that OC race. Only horse to win fresh off layoff. Slight bounce risk as he gained 9 points in last race on 6/18. Best workouts of the field, with 5 at AP, 2 very fast.
Overlays: Yo Carm.

Next at AP is the 1-11/16 mile American St. Leger, which I supposed is patterned distance-wise against its comparable race in the UK. Indeed there’s quite the European presence here. This is run on the turf course, a G3 event for 300k, 3YO+. Top 3 are Da Big Hoss, Montclaire and Tobias.
Da Big Hoss is actually the big favorite here with no real competition. 10 wins in 19 lifetime including the KY Turf Cup, the JB Conley, the Elkhorn and the Belmont Gold Cup at the Graded level. Last time out he scored a mighty 106 in the latter race, best turf speed of the field. Unquestionably he is the speed horse. I also like his works, 7 in all, with 2 bullets. Only horse with prior win while moving up in class in the field.
Overlays: My 2nd choice, Montclair is best of the rest for value. After racing at the top level in France, he’s raced rather competitively in the US, with an optional claimer win at Gulfstream, and a 2nd place finish in an ungraded stakes event last summer at Delaware. He and Da Big Hoss have best turn times of the field, and I like his progression against the leader last time out, prior to reclaim.

The SECRETARIAT STAKES is a Grade 1 event for 3YOs going 10 furlongs on the AP turf course, for 400k.   Top 3 are longshot Cordon, Surgical Strike and Beach Patrol.
Cordon with a win and 2nd lifetime in 2 starts, winning at the 32k maiden level here at 9 furlongs on turf. He won that race after 4 months away, and improved by 10 points at the 2nd call, 9 overall. 2 works since here, 1 a bullet.   He is the lone overlay of the field, in a race where I can remove the favorites out of the top 2.

The BEVERLY D Stakes is for fillies and mares 3YO+ going 1-3/16 miles on the turf. This is a 700k race at the Grade 1 level. Top 3 are Al’s Gal, Fauflier and Coolmore.  Another race with no favorites, and absolutely ripe for value.
Al’s Gal is 23-6-7-3 lifetime, winning the Keertana at Churchill 2 races back in late May. Prior to that she scored matching triple-figure Brisnet speed figures, running 2nd in the Bewitch at Keeneland. This mare does her fastest running on the backstretch and seems to have the best speed figures if measured that way.  Bumped against the eventual winner last time out in the Modesty here in July while still running a 92 score.

Overlays: Al’s Gold plus these:
Lots o’Lex has 5 wins in 14 lifetime tho no stakes wins yet. She hasn’t raced since October at Hawthorne, and is stretching out from 8.5 furlongs. Best works of the field, with 3 bullets in the 10 month layoff.

Personal Diary has had mixed blessings in her runs. She ran very close to the lead last time out in the Ellis Park Turf on July 9 with a slight gain on leader midway through the race. I’m banking on the idea that she can improve further.

Zipessa, my 2nd choice overall has 4 wins in 7, including the Grade 3 Dr James Penny Memorial at Parx last time out.  That race was actually a downtick in her speed figure to 89. Best turn time gain of the field.

The Arlington Million is the featured event, 1 million dollars at stake for 3YO+, a 10 furlong distance on the AP turf course.  Top 3 are Dubai Sky, Pumpkin Rumble and The Pizza Man, last year’s winner of this event.
This race is another where there will likely be no real value in the top 3 and is one to shell out more dollars.
Dubai Sky is 6-4-1-1, with wins in the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream last year and also the Spiral Stakes (Grade 3). The big difference for me is turn time, where he’s the only horse to gain out of the field and also doing so while lowering his speed figure (down from 103 to 93). William Mott is 10-3-1-2 for the meet and has done a good job with this horse. Gaining 4 lbs for this race, a move which gave Dubai Sky the Spiral win, plus a switch back to his jockey for that win, Jose Lezcano. Not to mention, but I will mention, his works are best of the field, with 5 at Churchill in prep, last 2 were breezing and very fast for 4 furlongs.
I also like these as overlays: Pumpkin Rumble is 19-4-3-4, whose last stakes win came last summer at Canterbury. Only horse in the field with improving pace form: Small new top to 96 running 3rd in the Stars and Stripes here on 7/9. He made a late wide move to stay in the money in that race, and I really think he fired too late. He’s also the only horse racing under reclaim (4th race under Gary Scherer).

As for The Pizza Man, since last year’s Million, this 16-time winner was 5th in the Breeders Cup Turf, won a Grade 2 event at Del Mar, then 5th in the Gulfstream Park Turf, 4th in the Wise Dan, then 4th in the Stars and Stripes. Best lifetime turf score of 111, plus best track speed of 103. He’s 10 of 14 at AP.
Shifting gears a bit as we go to Albuquerque Downs for the next race in my Enlightened Derby Trail series. The big race is the 50k Manzano for leading 2YOs, going 6 furlongs . Top 3 are General Council, Ranger Rod and Stem The Tide, removing the favorites from the top 2 here.
General Council won here at this distance last month against 15k maidens, taking the lead at the top of the stretch.  His 61 figure is best for the distance of the field, and is the only horse who does his best running on the backstretch. Turn time of 22.4 also leads here. He is the lone overlay of the field.
Last up for today is the Fourstardave Handicap, a Grade 1 event at Saratoga, 1 mile on the inner turf course, for 500k.  Top 3 are Tourist, Grand Arch and Blacktype.
Tourist is 15-4-3-3, with his last wins coming in the More Than Ready at Kentucky Downs last year, and the Sir Cat on this track. Best overall pace of the field, running with a high 90s pattern. 3-wide trip last time out running 2nd in the Shoemaker Mile, at Santa Anita in June.
Overlays: King Kreesa won the Forbidden Apple at Belmont last time with big gain in speed figure to 100. Owns the best figures for distance and the Spa along with turf. Could bounce from the 100 number. I project him to be fastest along the backstretch where he does his best running.

A fine day of wagering should be had at Arlington, especially with the Beverly D and the Million.

Later today I’ll give my thoughts on the Longacres Mile at Emerald.

Stakes selections 7/30 ( Arapahoe, Saratoga, Del Mar)

4 races to look at today across several tracks:

The Enlightened Oaks Trail continues today with the Arapahoe Debutante Stakes for 2YO fillies, 5.5 furlongs, 55k purse.  My top 3 are favored Galactic Princess, Emma’s Dilemma, and McKenzie’s Honey.  Logical top 3, really.
Galactic Princess won her maiden debut here 7/4 with a 78 Brisnet, much the best pace figure for track distance and lifetime compared to today’s field. I also like she’s one of 2 horses who improved on the pace leader by the 2nd call last time out.
Emma’s Dilemma 1st or 2nd in 3 lifetime..2nd last time in the CTBA Lassie here on 7/9, forged new lifetime best of 68 in her maiden win prior to that. Only other filly with comparable pace numbers, noting this sprinters 95 Brisnet at first call, and is the lone sprinter. Also had a 3 wide trip last time out.

McKenzie Honey ships from Turf Paradise, winner of two there, then laid off since May. Best AWD numbers of the field (Parading/So Beautiful, by Arch). Adds Bute for this race following layoff. Only filly with prior win that follows a class and distance increase.
My odds: McKenzie Honey 29-1; Galactic Princess 7-1, Emma’s Dilemma 3-1, Ms Wild Rush 9-1, Lite Em Up Linda 7-1, Miss Pretzel and Lucky Dolly are 4-1 (both are overlays).  Miss Pretzel also showed gain on leader by 2nd call last out  Lucky Dolly has best work tab of these.
Not a good betting race here tho the overlays should be used for win and under faves. McKenzie Honey as 2nd morning line pick should take on less money. More $ likely will go on Lucky Dolly and might not be an overlay by post time.
To Saratoga we go and the Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap,  a 6 furlong race at the Grade 1 level for top 3YO+.  My top 3 are Holy Boss,
Holy Boss had a nice win streak going this time last year, and then had finishes between 3rd and 4th since. Won last year’s Amsterdam Stakes here, was 3rd in the King’s Bishop with a 102, which is best pace for this track of the field. Last time out in the True North, he was half a step slow out of the gate, but still managed a 100. Adds blinkers for this race. Nice works coming in too.
Anchor Down also ships from Belmont, following the Met Mile. Playing bounceback angle, 2 races from achieving lifetime best numbers (108) and bouncing from there. Pace patterns suggest a return to triple digits. Track bias is kind to sprinters (44% winners at the distance) and post (19% wins from rail).  Best turn time of the field.
Chubilicious comes out of her win in the Mr Prospector at Monmouth, 6/26, with a 108 score.  Best pace numbers measured by run style. Only true closer in the field.
My odds: Holy Boss 2-1; Delta Bluesman 12-1, Catalina Red 12-1, Anchor Down 7-2, AP Indian and All Star Red 29-1, Requite 22-1.  No overlays here.
Can’t really go against the chalk here, tho the chances are good Anchor Down and Holy Boss will take less money than others.
Next is the Clement L Hirsch at Del Mar, a Grade 1 race for fillies/mares going 8.5 furlongs for a 300k purse.  My top 3 are Stellar Wind, Beholder and Divina Comedia.
Stellar Wind 2nd choice by morning line. 5 wins in 9 lifetime including the G1 Santa Anita Oaks. In fact she’s constantly been in Graded company ever trainer switch to John Sadler.  She is the absolute speed of the small field. After bouncing from triple digits to 93 in the Vanity at Santa Anita, I expect a return to faster pace here. Good competitive turn time too. Waiting since June to stretch out, has multiple shipping wins following layoffs. Best works of these too.
Beholder has a dazzing 27-17-3-0 record. Winner of 8 straight going back to 6/7/14. Best speed figures for distance and track (112, Pacific Classic, 8/22/15). Only other horse with great turn time, also stretching out with the 7 week layoff.
Divina Comedia is the only value and overlay hope.  Top AWD numbers via European stock, this 5YO mare increased speed figure from 86 to 95, a small new top at that. I like that she closed onto leader by 2nd call in most recent race, her win in the Southern Truckin at Santa Anita 7/3/16
My odds: Beholder 5-2, Stellar Wind 2-1, Divina Comedia 8-1 and an overlay.
Back at Saratoga again for the Jim Dandy Stakes, 9 furlongs for top 3YOs, 600k purse in this Grade 2 event. Top 3: Destin, Laoban, Governor Malibu

Destin won the SF Davis and Tampa Bay Derbies earlier this year.  Easily the speed of the field, he forged small new top last out in the Belmont with 103.  Good consistent pace numbers too.

Laoban still a maiden but maybe not for much longer. Poor record in 7 races, but I like that he’s the lone sprinter and was impressive in turn time gain between the last 2 races.
Governor Malibu won the Federico Tesio and the Gander. Best track speed here with an 84 (2nd in his maiden debut vs 73k maidens). Prior winner first off layoff,
My odds: Mohaymen 2-1, Governor Malibu 29-1, Destin 2-1, Laoban 2-1.

Saratoga stakes analysis 7/25/15

2 big stakes races for the first Saturday of the Spa meet:

The Grade 3 Sanford Stakes is for top 2YOs going 6 furlongs.
Top choice:  Cocked & Loaded is the morning-line favorite.Winner of the 250k Tremont at Belmont last out,undefeated in 2, layoff before Tremont and today. Gained sharply from 81 to 89, so mind the bounce possibility.  Won while stretching from 4.5 to 5.5 furlongs. 4 works at AP since the Tremont, last 2 virtual bullets. Shipper win last time as well. Waiting since June to stretch, so he should be raring to go.
I also like Uncle Vinny and Percolator here to fill out the top 3, upon the scratch of my original 2nd choice.
Suggested odds:  Awesome Slew 14-1. Magna Light 7-1 and the lone overlay thus far. How so? He has best pace numbers of the field (103 at first call in his maiden debut) and must be considered should there be off track conditions.   He’s Comin In Hot: 7-1. Cocked And Loaded 2-1.We turn then to the TVG Diana Stakes, Grade 1 race on turf for fillies/mares going 9 furlongs on the turf.

Top 3:
Kitten’s Queen is one of 2 that I like as an overlay. Winner of the Jersey Lilly at Sam Houston in February, she’s been in the money for her last 10 races, and is 20-5-3-7 lifetime. Prior win from cutback in distance, she is the only prior winner from last year’s Spa meet of the field, and owns several shipping victories. Very good worktab compared to the others.
Stephane’s Kitten, like Kitten’s Queen, is out of dam Kitten’s Joy.  Best turf speed and shares in top distance speed of the field.  Also shares in fastest turn time at :23 in last race while running lower speed figure.

Lady Lara  forged a lifetime best speed figure this year and gained sharply in speed last out in the Just A Game Stakes at Belmont on 6/6. Waiting the longest of these to stretch out.  I’m willing to forgive her wide trip in that race, as she did make up for lost time in closing. Has a good close pattern of Brisnet scores, and also :23 turn time from last race.

Suggested odds:
Stephanie’s Kitten: 3-1.  Kitten’s Queen: 2-1 My Miss Sophia 7-1.  Lady Lara: 3-1.

Idealistic Stats podcast 7/23/15

8th edition of the Idealistic Stats podcast is now available.
Also accessible permanently at the Internet Archive:
In this edition:
Recap of prior week’s coverage and selections
Analysis of the 7/25 fight for the light-heavyweight title in 3 organizations, Kovalev/Mohammedi
Analysis of this week’s RBC Canadian Open on the PGA Tour
Selections for stakes races at Saratoga Race Track, 7/25
Main website: idealisticstats.wordpress.com
Music used in this program:
Annie Wenz “Play Ball” – Ride The Sky http://www.anniewenz.com
Revel 9 “San Jose” – The Razorblade Diaries EP  http://www.revel9.com
Matt Ellis “On The Horizon”- The Greatest Escape CD http://www.mattellis.com
DJ Flowerdove “Distant Project Gate (Remix)”
Thanks for listening!
Dan Herman
Twitter: @idealisticstats

Saratoga stakes analysis for 8/30/14

This post was edited Saturday morning after initial scratches were reported.
In this post I’ll go through the 3 major stakes races taking place at Saratoga on the final Saturday of the meet. These races are part of The Racing Biz’s  monthly handicapping challenge, which I’ve several entries in, including a 2nd place finish early on, giving me an extra entry.   www.theracingbiz.com
8 stalking-type horses battle in the 6-furlong Grade 2 Prioress Stakes, race 8.
2 STONETASTIC won a 20k optional claimer last time out. Never out of top 4 in 6 lifetime. Top jockey/trainer combo in ithe field, Paco Lopez with 15% wins, and Kelly Breen 2-for-6. Matched lifetime best Brisnet of 91 in the Grade 2 Goldenrod at Churchill last fall, then surpassed last time out with a 95, just her 2nd start at age 4. Only horse with serious pace progression in the field. Won that previous race, her first start in a sprint since her maiden debut, and she won both races rather easily, nearly wiring the field, in fact.  Morning line 6-1.  My odds: 2-1. Contender, a favorite, and certainly an overlay.

3 SOUTHERN HONEY had  won 3 straight including the Winning Colors at Churchill 2 races back. That race was a 101 Brisnet score, lifetime best, and also best of today’s field for the distance  Last time out was a poor 9th in The Test here at the Spa. Bounce back? Not sure.  Morning line: 10-1. My odds: Beyond 20-1. Dark horse, best to avoid.

4 WHO’S IN TOWN always in top 4 in 8 lifetime including a first in the Grade 2 Adirondack here last year. I type ‘first’ because she actually was replaced to 4 due to disqualification. Last time out was a slight downturn from 94 to 88 in an ungraded stakes effort. Not sure she’ll bounce up from this. M/L: 20/1. I agree with these odds, and is likely worse.

5 SWEET WHISKEY was in top 4 for first 7 races, then a close 5th in The Test earlier in the month. Still managed a 95 Brisnet, part of a 5 race run with similar numbers. Also won the Old Hat (Grade 3) at Gulfstream. Won her maiden debut at the Spa with a a dazzling 91 over 5.5 furlongs, best performance on track of this field. I do want to like this field for her consistency, but doesn’t measure up to the others.
ML: 2/1. My odds: Worse than 20-1. Stay away.

6 MISS BEHAVIOUR won the Matron at Belmont last year, plus the Miss Preakness in May. 8 of 9 in top 4 lifetime. Was 2nd in the Victory Ride (G3) with an 89 Brisnet, then 2nd in The Test with a 96. Could bounce from this effort. 2 wins from a middle post. Also lacks evidence to win today compared to rest. ML: 5/2. My odds: Beyond 20-1. Avoid.

7 TEA TIME Won 3 ungraded stakes efforts in 9 lifetime, 4 wins and 1 3rd overall. Pedigree is impressive (Pulpit/Asian Empress, by Empire Maker). 2 wins in 3 races at the distance, with top score of 101 2 races back in the Beautiful Day. Was 7th in the Test, dropping to 86. Gambling on a bounceback here.  ML: 12/1. My odds: 14-1.Outsider

8 PRINCESS VIOLET was 1st or 2nd in 4 lifetime, including 2nd in the Mother Goose, dropping in Brisnet from 99 to 90, 9 lengths behind winner. It was her first route race. Among the 8 stalker-types in the field, she has the fastest speed. 4 works since the Mother Goose, 3 at the Spa. Both wins came from an outside post. ML: 5/1. My odds: Better than 1/1. Favorite, contender, possible overlay.
My top 4:
1 8 Princess Violet
2 2 Stonetastic
3 7 Tea Time
4 6 Miss Behaviour.

Overlays: 8, 2
Decent value here, maybe even sneaky value with overlays on top.
Race 10 is the 7 furlong Forego Stakes, Grade 1.
1 CAPO BASTONE won the Grade 1 King’s Bishop last year at the Spa. Since that race he’s largely been a disappointment with only 1 race in the money. Went from 89 to 95 to 88 in speed last 3 races, so I’m thinking there’s a possible bounceback.  ML: 15-1. My odds: 20-1. Dark horse.
2 BIG BUSINESS is fairly consistent with 22 of 28 lifetime in the money, and 10 wins, last 5 finishing 1st or 2nd. Has not won any stakes races in at least 2 years. 2 of his last 3 wins have come from an inside post. ML: 15-1. My odds: 20-1. Dark horse.
4 ZEE BROS ran several races in UAE before returning here earlier this month with a good optional claimer as prep.  My best guess is that he did run competitively in his last race on the Meydan poly despite being 6th, that race the Grade 1 Golden Shaheen. Moved to an 89 Brisnet last time out. Maybe a bounceback but not sure. He is the lone speed tho.  ML: 20-1. My odds agree with this.
6 PALACE won the AG Vanderbilt (Grade 1) here last month and is a multiple Graded winner. 104 Brisnet in the Vanderbilt is best of the track of this field. Inherent quality to win is quite evident.  Even tho he’s making closest approach to lifetime best 109 from last fall, I’m not sure he’ll sustain today. ML: 3-1. My odds: 10-1. Outsider.

8 CLEARLY NOW won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler and Belmont Sprint on that track, the latter being his most recent race in a huge 109 score. The 109 is among those for the distance. I like the pedigree here: Horse Greeley/Bend, by Arch.  Consistently in Graded company. Trainer Brian Lynch reclaimed over a year ago and the prices are likely to be rather short for the ML favorite at 7/5. One of 2 horses with positive pace progression here. The 109 score was just past his effort in the Bold Ruler, a 106. He’s truly the speed of the field and should close well. 5 works since last race, 4 of those 5 very fast, 1 a bullet. My odds put him at even-money. Favorite, contender.
9 WEEKEND HIDEAWAY has several ungraded stakes wins. In the money for last 5 races. Trainer Philip Serge has 2 wins, 3 in money in 9 Graded stakes this year, for a 5.38 ROI. Had the best trip coming into this race, nearly wiring the field earlier this month here in an ungraded stakes race. ML: 10-1. My odds: 8-1.
10 CONFRONTATION in the money all 7 lifetime races, makes his stakes debut here. 3 wins in 3 races at Saratoga. He’s the other horse with strong pace progression. Surpassed lifetime best with a 100 last time out, better than his 98 in 2nd lifetime race. 2 wins from an outside post.  ML: 10-1. My odds: 6-1. Contender and overlay.
My top 4:
1 8 Clearly Now
2 10 Confrontation
3 9 Weekend Hideaway.
Overlays: 10

Chalk should reign ahead of value, decent for exactas.
Race 11 is the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes, at 9 furlongs.
1 LONG RIVER won several ungraded stakes, has had poor luck in Graded tho.  Irad Ortiz Jr has worked with Kieran McLaughin 19 races in last 60 days, earning 8 wins, 12 in the money, for ROI of 3.42. ML: 8/1. My odds: 20-1. Dark horse.

4 MORENO Won the Grade 1 Whitney earlier in the month, and the Grade 2 Dwyer last year. Easily the class of the field, 3 for 3 in the money at the Spa, with a best effort of 109 in last year’s Travers. The Alvarado/Guilliot connection have 1 win and 4 placings in the last 60 days for a serviceable 2.40 ROI. Was a 107 Brisnet in the Whitney, up from 100 in the Suburban. Very good trip coming in, as the sprinter wired the field for 9 furlongs. Also is the lone speed here. ML 2/1. My odds: 6-1. Contender.
6 ZIVO won the Suburban last time with new top of 104. On the bench since that race, and has won before from layoff. 6 works since then, 4 here. Never out of the money in 15 lifetime, and winner of last 6 races. ML: 5/1. My odds: 15-1. Dark horse.
7 NORUMBEGA won the Brooklyn Handicap in June with lifetime best 112, bounced to a 95 in the Suburban. Top jockey/trainer combo here: Javier Castellano with 25% wins, and Shug McGaughey with 21%. Also can win off layoff. This deep closer I’ve rated fastest of the field. 5 works to prep for today, 3 very fast, 2 bullet works.  Makes his best runs from an outside post. Predicting a bounceback here. ML: 10/1. My odds: Better than even-money. Favorite, contender, overlay.
9 STEPHANOATSEE hasn’t won in over 2 years. Great pedigree here (AP Indy/Oatsee, by Unbridled). 3 works at Saratoga, generally very fast, last one a bullet.  ML: 30-1. My odds are similar. Stay away.

My top 4:

1 7 Norumbega
2 4 Moreno
3 6 Zivo
4 9 Stephanoatsee
This is the one stakes race where I predict an upset.
This afternoon, coverage of the Enlightened Derby and Oaks Trails, with races at Evangeline Downs and Del Mar involved.