Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Start of a Turf War Throwdown

Inspired by my love of Weird Al style parodies, Top 40 music, one hit-wonders and hip-hop, this post is a response to something this blog read the other day. It is sort of an attempt at something seen mainly in hip-hop. One of the mainstays of hip-hop is a "beef". This is when two rappers have a disagreement or problem with one another. The hallmark of "beefs" is battling via song. In the spirit of that, this parody is a response to "Havre De Grace" by Ed Derosa, as performed by the undefeated filly Awesome Feather. It maintains the same title as the real song, Jason Derulo's "It Girl".

For those unfamiliar with the song, here is the video (possible NSFW themes). Having the feel for the song in your head helps when reading the lyrics below:

I've been to Florida and Churchill Downs
No one can beat me
I'm training like a maniac, and now I'm back
I'm Awesome Feather
Tell them other girls, just stay in the barn
girl please....
Cause the only time you'll win is ...your dreams
Much more than an Eclipse award
That's what I mean to the sport.

I'm horse racing's it girl
You know I'm the truth girl
Lovin' me isn't a crime
You know I'm fit girl
This is it girl
I'm a gift at 1-5
I just gonna win every race
and be in the middle of the spotlight
I'm horse racing's It girl
I'll be the real big girl

Let me win it fast
Let me win it fast like...
oh oh oh oh (whistles first of "call to the post")
Let me win it fast
Let me win it fast like...
oh oh oh oh
Let me win it fast

I can't help but turn them heads, knockin' them dead.
Dropping like flies behind me
Even if you get too close not getting by
Hoping with the busboy
By some saving grace they put up your number
No chance!
They can try everything to beat me...they want
Like a race replay showing my runs
Every time I race
I'm a gonna win

I'm horse racing's It girl
You know I'm the truth girl
Lovin' me isn't a crime
You know I'm fit girl
This is it girl
I'm a gift at 1-5
I just gonna win every race
and be in the middle of the spotlight
I'm horse racing's It girl
I'll be the real big girl

Let me win it fast
Let me win it fast like...
oh oh oh oh
Let me win it fast
Let me win it fast like...
oh oh oh oh
Let me win it fast

No one can stop me from... winning, winning
all the, all the time, time
I just keep coming, coming
til I cross the line, line
I've got that something, something
You wanna bet this girl
I'm the real deal girl
An Adena Springs girl
Hey baby...
Don't you know I'm the It girl

I'm horse racing's It girl
You know I'm the truth girl
Lovin' me isn't a crime
You know I'm fit girl
This is it girl
I'm a gift at 1-5
I just gonna win every race
and be in the middle of the spotlight
I'm horse racing's It girl
I'll be the real big girl

Let me win it fast
Let me win it fast like...
oh oh oh oh
Let me win it fast
Let me win it fast like...
oh oh oh oh
Let me win it fast

Let me hear you cheer it like...
oh oh oh oh
Everybody at the track let me hear you cheer it like...
oh oh oh oh
I'm the It girl

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Hollywood Prevue to a Star?

The stakes action starts off this Thanksgiving weekend at the track of the lakes and flowers with the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue on Turkey Day. Going seven furlongs over the synthetic main track, this race is a prep for next month's Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity. This race in its past boasted winners such as Afternoon Deelites, Lion Heart and champion 2yo Declan's Moon, along with blog favorite Premier Pegasus. A possible star could break out with a strong performance. The field is a nice mix of stakes-tried horses and new shooters with buzz surrounding them. Let go over the field of eight, based on how they figure to run their respective races.

The probable front flight will consist of Sweet Swap, Hodge and So Brilliant (right). Sweet Swap dueled on the lead but faded late last time out in the Jack Goodman Stakes. The winner, Secret Circle, won the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint next out. This full brother of Sidney's Candy will look to clear off from the rail. Hodge broke his maiden last time in a gate-to-wire effort while under pressure the entire time. He comes back in only 19 days off that huge effort, but he does have a good work in the interim. So Brilliant dueled early and cleared off to win as a heavily bet favorite in his debut lat month at Santa Anita. He has had four strong works, though why he had one work at Hollywood, then shipped back to SA to work is a bit odd.

The horses sitting in the second flight, about 2-4 lengths back, figure to be Sheer Talent and Mucho Besos. Sheer Talent looks to bounce back after a subpar effort up at Golden Gate. His trainer Dan Hendricks brings him back off on short rest for the race and looks to be the one to "inherit" the lead if/when the speed backs up. Mucho Besos will try to jump off from an maiden claiming win to a graded stakes win. This looks like it might be too much of a step up, though he could get a slice if he gets the trip and one of the closers doesn't fire.

Galex, Empire Way and Brother Francis  are the last three in the field. Galex ran 2nd in the Jack Goodman Stakes (beating Sweet Swap in the process) by laying back and making one run. While he did pass the other 4 horses in the field, he lost ground on the winner in the last 8th. He did win his debut gate-to-wire, but he figures to sit off the pace in here. He does have several good stamina building works here. Empire Way won his maiden stylishly 11 days ago rolling by the field from the back. This full brother to multiple grade 1 winner Royal Delta appears to be in this race as more of a building block for the Hollywood Futurity according to his trainer's comments. His trainer also has a less-than-stellar record coming back on short rest (less than 14 days) with a two year old. Brother Francis started slow in his debut but closed quickly to just miss behind Hodge. He should improve with the extra distance, and does have two good works since, but he has never been over a synthetic surface either. He could show more positional speed with a clean break. "Brother" does have history working against him, as in the last twenty years no horse has broken his maiden in this race.

This is a tough race because I can see any number of these winning, but the tepid pick is Sheer Talent to pull an upset. It looks like there is enough speed for the front-runners to be softened up and allow him to "inherit" the lead in the stretch and hold off the closers.

Good luck and happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Post-BC Thoughts

Not many post-BC Thoughts for this blog, especially with a ton of disinterest in discussing year-end awards until at the earliest the first of the December. This blog did go 22-9-3-2 over the two days at Churchill Downs. (Taking early bird sign-ups for a possible BC 2012 syndicate now in the comments section!) But the lack of starting funds prevented a better outcome when it came to the wagering. So instead of some long diatribe about the weekend, this blog offers a picture of rainbow that appeared after a shower hit Santa Anita on Friday around first post.

This blog will take some time off until the Hollywood Turf Festival over the Thanksgiving Day weekend (unless something major comes up that this blog begs to require comment)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

BC Saturday Selections (Undercard Included)

Breeders' Cup Saturday comes bringing high intrigue, high drama and a high bar to top Friday's wild outcomes. After a solid 4-for-10 yesterday, can this blog keep it up? Let's get right into the action with the first race on the card.

The first race is a entry-level allowance race for females going a one-turn mile. Two horses catch the eye here. Jump Up will be the probable favorite based off a fast maiden win in her debut at Keeneland. She has worked well here at Churchill and her pedigree states that dirt will not be a problem. The other one that catches the eye is Dreamingly. While she has never been on dirt, it doesn't look like it will be a problem. These two look like they will appreciate the one-turn and will be on or near the lead.
Pick: #8 Jump Up - Others to consider: #5 Dreamingly
Confidence Rating: 8.5; 9 that one of two will win

The second is the $65k Dream Supreme Stakes. There is a very vulnerable morning line Dancinginherdreams. She has not shown much improvement from her two year old form (which included a win here) and looks to be beatable. Grandacious has a chance to gate to wire, but can pass if needed; Salty Strike is 3-for-4 over the Churchill Downs track; Splendor Town has shown occasionally ability that could win this at a big number.
Pick:  #8 Salty Strike - Others to consider: #1 Grandacious, #9 Splendor Town
Confidence Rating: 8.5; 9.6 that one of the three will win, 10 that Dancinginherdreams will not win.

BC Marathon is the first big race of the day. This blog is just taking a stab in this race, as it has no real opinion. Birdrun looks like he might be able to go gate-to-wire here in this 14 furlong race.
Pick: #1 Birdrun
Confidence Rating: 1, as the scale does not go any lower.

Next up is the Juvenile Turf. Another tough race where contention runs deep. The very tepid selection is Wrote. This son of multiple BC Turf winner High Chapparal has won two of four, with the two wins coming on courses with turns (albeit right-handed). The others this blog would use in multi-race exotics are the undefeated on turf Finale, Bourbon runner-up Coalport and another Euro in Caspar Netscher.
Pick: #5 Wrote - Others to consider: #13 Finale, #6 Coalport, #7 Caspar Netscher.
Confidence Rating: 3.3

The Sprint is another tough race, though this blog is going to take a stand. The pick is Force Freeze. He blew away the competition in first start in the U.S back in July. He valiantly tried to get to fellow runner Giant Ryan  last time out when he just could not get there while running against a speed-favoring track at Belmont. He has two nice works and looks to have first jump on the closers.
Pick: #6 Force Freeze
Confidence Rating: 6.7

The Turf Sprint starts the $3m Ultra Pick 6 with a well-matched full field of 14. The pick is Regally Ready, as he has experience over the course, a solid post, can be on the lead but does not need it. If one wants to look past him, it becomes a wide open affair with many, many options.
Pick: #8 Regally Ready
Confidence Rating: 5.5 (Turf sprints at Churchill Downs is not one of my strengths)

The BC Dirt Mile is a race that has a short history but all of its winners have one thing in common: They all ran their last race at nine furlong. The only member of the field to do that was Tres Borrachos. But his form is very suspect and he will be used only because of the above angle. The pick is Irrefutable. Coming off a good second in the Ancient Title, the "other Baffert" looks to finally get his chance at this extended sprint. With a win over the track earlier in the year, he looks primed for a big effort. The other horse being used is Trappe Shot. The whole year this son of Tapit has been running at six furlongs, and each time this blog played against him. Now he finally stretches out to a distance that allows him to use his track-and-attack skills to better use, he can get the jump on likely favorite Caleb's Posse.
Pick: #6 Irrefutable - Others to consider: #9 Trappe Shot, #4 Tres Borrachos
Confidence Rating: 6.9; 9 that one of these three is the winner.

This blog's thoughts on the Breeders' Cup Turf can summed up with one sentence: "Any European-based horse that gets beat by an American based horse isn't allowed back on the plane to Europe."
Pick: #1 St. Nicholas Abbey (because he is the 1st Euro they will load into the gate) - Others to consider: The other four Euros: #2 Sarafina, #6 Await The Dawn, #7 Sea Moon, #9 Midday
Confidence Rating: 4; 10 that a Euro will win.

The Juvenile is another Classic East-West match-up as Champagne winner Union Rags faces off vs. Norfolk winner Creative Cause. This blog is going to go out on a limb and not pick either or those or Norfolk runner-up and Del Mar Futurity winner Drill. Instead the pick is Champagne runner-up Alpha. Making his first start around two turns is a big key for a horse his trainer said is still learning the game. Along with Dullahan, this is another spread race.
Pick: #9 Alpha - Others to consider: #7 Creative Cause, #2 Dullahan, #4 Drill, #10 Union Rags
Confidence rating: 4, 9.5 that the winner is one of those five listed.

The race that the world cannot wait to see is the Mile, as Goldikova looks to win an unprecedented 4th straight Breeders' Cup Mile. Some say she has lost a step, some doubt whether she can win this, but to play against her is a dangerous proposition. However, this blog will have a different horse as its top pick while using the mare in everything. If she has traffic troubles and just can't find her way to the winner circles, Jeranimo could be the one to take advantage. He ran a monster race in the Oak Tree Mile and is coming blazing. He will be sitting just off of Sidney's Candy, and when that one loses the lead in the stretch, he will have first jump on the come-from-behind horses. At a big price, he is worth a flyer.
Pick: #7 Jeranimo - Others to consider: #1 Goldikova
Confidence rating: 4; 9 that if he doesn't pull the upset, she completes the 4-peat.

So here we are at the main event, the Classic. This blog makes no apologies for being a huge fan of Flat Out. Since the beginning, way back before this blog was even a possibility, way back in late 2008, Flat Out caught the attention of this writer. He was at one point the choice for the Derby. Thought to be another casualty of the Derby trail after he was hurt, he made his comeback off a 20 month layoff with a win in December. After a false start over the winter, he returned with a 2nd, then a flop in the Stephen Foster while stuck on a dying rail. Bouncing back with good performance after good performance, he won his last start to give his trainer the long sought after first Grade 1 win. Now it is his time to reward his connections with a win in the biggest race of the year. The only horses that can stand in the way of this goal is the globe-trotting So You Think and the stubborn front-runner Game On Dude. No one else scares this blog. Not Uncle Mo (too far, poor preparation), not Havre De Grace (too far), not To Honor and Serve (cannot pass, will not get the lead).
Pick: #2 Flat Out
Confidence Rating: 7.8 (So You Think wins if he takes to dirt.)

There you go, all...Wait, there's another race after the Classic? Why? "Traffic Considerations"? Alright. (looks over the PPs, cracks a big smile)

May Day Rose caps off a possible huge day for Bob Baffert by going gate-to-wire in what race caller and the current voice of the Breeders' Cup Trevor Denman " a stylish performance".
Pick: #9 May Day Rose
Confidence rating: 9.6

Good luck folks. Go Flat Out!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

BC Friday Selections (Undercard Included)

The biggest two days of the year is finally here, and there is some excellent racing and wagering opportunities. The card covers four allowance races as an extended warm-up to the six Breeders' Cup races. This blog thoroughly enjoys the undercard races on big days like this, especially this weekend in particular. Several poor BC's (from a wagering standpoint) were saved by nice cashes in the races that surrounded the main event. This blog will offer some thoughts on each race on the card. Some races will have more commentary than others, and each top pick will get a "Confidence Rating" for each race. (1-10; 1: "Had to pick someone.", 5: "Kinda like it.", 10: "Go to the window."

The first race is a second level allowance race, with the additional option of running for a claiming price of $62,500. The morning line favorite and the pick is Grand Traverse. This gutty 8yo gelding just shows up every single time. He figures to benefit from the expected hot pace and will be unaffected by the off track. Several of his foes are coming off a layoff, with some off several months. While he is the favorite, he figures to be no lower than 2-1. He is a great way to start your wagering weekend with a nice cash.
Pick: #5 Grand Traverse
Confidence Rating: 10 (Best Bet all weekend)

The second race for horses who not won a race other than maiden, claiming or starter allowances in their careers. Last year's Kentucky Jockey Club winner Santiva returns to the races after finishing well back in the Belmont Stakes in June. He was installed as the morning line favorite, but he looks highly vulnerable due to his lack of recency and the the fact that this is a one-turn mile, where he has been more effective at two turns. This blog like Katz My Song to go gate-to-wire. The lack of other true speed figures to let this Pletcher trainee to establish earlier position and keep going all the way to the wire. Relinquere interests some due to fact that he ran alright in his first race in over a year last out and should improve second time out in a return to dirt.
Pick: #9 Katz My Song - Others who can contend: #8 Relinquere
Confidence Rating: 8.2; 9.4 that one of the two will win)

The third is the only graded stakes on the undercard, the G3 Ack Ack Handicap. This is a competitve, evenly matched field. There are some true need the lead types in here, which should induce a solid pace. The choices are Mister Mardi Gras and Glenwood Canyon. These two are solid horses coming off good efforts. MMG cuts back from a fast-closing 4th in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. The winner of that race is headed to the Classic, while two others will head to the Marathon.  He cuts back in distance to 8.5 furlongs, which should help his late kick. Glenwood Canyon comes of a game effort getting up n the final strides.
Co-Picks: #4 Mister Mardi Gras, #5 Glenwood Canyon
Confidence rating: 7.4 that one of these two is the winner

Race 4 is the Jimmy V Stakes, and while there are some interesting longshots worthy of maybe a flyer, the lack of even a so-so opinion makes this a race where the voucher will stay in the pocket.
Picks: None
Confidence Rating: N/A

Race 5 is the 1st Breeders' Cup race of the day, the Juvenile Sprint. The newest race on the program figures to have the shortest favorite in Secret Circle. He looks unbeatable at very low odds and is the most likely winner among the 15 BC races. Maybe Blacky The Bull to spice up the exacta?
Pick:  #6 Secret Circle
Confidence Rating: 9.8

The Juvenile Fillies Turf begins the races for the females that will make up the rest of the card. A full field of 14 fillies will run. Elusive Kate figures to be the favorite based of her record in Europe. Two domestic horses worth a shot at long odds are front-runner Sweet Cat and deep closer Stephanie's Kitten. This is a very tough race to narrow down.
Pick: #5 Stephanie's Kitten - Others to use: #6 Sweet Cat, #10 Elusive Kate
Confidence Rating: 3; 5 that one of three will win

Next up is the Filly & Mare Sprint. The first and second choices on the morning line reside here in Southern California in Turbulent Descent and Switch. Along with Tanda, Irish Gypsy and Great Hot, this race looks like it could be dominated by the West Coast.
Pick: Tanda (Blog favorite, this pick definitely has some sentiment attached to it.)
Confidence Rating: 4; 9 that one of those five will win.

A classic east-wet showdown in the Juvenile Fillies with the winners of the Frizette (My Miss Auerlia) and Oak Leaf (Weemissfrankie). This blog thinks that M.M.A. is very vulnerable as the favorite and will not be on any of the tickets. Weemissfrankie will come from the back of the pack with her run. Grace Hall has a ton of buzz around her off her last win. The Euro invader Questing has a very dirt friendly pedigree. (Hard Spun out of a Seeking the Gold mare) Also pulling for Putthebabiesdown, as she is a daughter of Closing Argument.
Pick: #11 Weemissfrankie - Others to use: #5 Grace Hall, #1 Questing, #7 Putthebabiesdown
Confidence Rating:  6; 7.6 that one of those four will win

The Filly and Mare Turf is 11 furlongs due to the configuration of the Churchill Downs turf course. That additional furlong for this blog cuts down the possible winners to just four horses. Nahrain and Announce come off a ding-dong battle in the Prix de l'Opera, with Nahrain prevailing. That was a grueling effort for her coming in just her fourth start. This blog thinks that Announce can turn the tables on her and win today. The only two with a puncher's chance at victory are Stacelita and Dubawi Heights. The "home" team's beast chances ran 1-2 in the Beverly D. earlier in the year and come off wins in the respective Grade 1 preps.
Pick: #6 Announce - Others to use: #5 Nahrain, #2 Stacelita, #1 Dubawi Heights
Confidence Rating: 6.1; 8 that one of these four will win

The last race on the first day of the Breeders' Cup is the Ladies' Classic. The best dirt female is headed to the Classic, so this race is ripe for the taking. The original plan was the swing for the fences with Medaglia D'Amour, but with her becoming ill and being scratched, it is back to drawing board. The horse who was the biggest threat to her was Royal Delta. This Empire Maker filly came into her own as the season progressed, including winning the Alabama. She figures to get a good tracking trip off of Plum Pretty, then burst to the lead. Her last race (The Beldame) has been a prime prep for winning this race when it is held at Churchill.
Pick:  #6 Royal Delta
Conifdence Rating: 7.9

Here are a couple of stabs at the P5 and late P4, both .50 base:
Pick 5: 5 / 8,9 / 4,5 / ALL / 6 = $22
Pick 4: 1,2,3,6,8 / 1,5,7,11 / 1,2,5,6 / 6 = $40
So there are some picks for Friday. Coming up soon will be the thoughts on Saturday, including the Classic. Good luck folks.