Friday, January 25, 2013

Holy Bull Stakes 2013

GULFSTREAM PARK - January 26, 2013
Race 10 - 5:05 PM
Holy Bull S. (Grade III)
Purse - $400,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles
Kentucky Derby Points:  Winner – 10 / Place – 4 / Show -  2 / Fourth - 1

1 – Shanghai Bobby
2 – Frac Daddy
3 – Clearly Now
4 – Bern Identity
5 – Sr. Quisqueyano
6 – Dewey Square
7 –Itsmyluckyday
8- Tulira Castle
9- Fredricksburg
10 – Joshua’s Compromise

As I contemplate the field of the Holy Bull Stakes I'm reminded of 2007 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Champion War Pass.

One obvious reason I’m thinking of War Pass is that he sired #8 Tulira Castle – however the stronger reason he influences my writing is due to the early success of #1 Shanghai Bobby.

Take a peek at War Pass running in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile in 2007 – Watch as he blazes the first quarter mile (in the mud) at 22 seconds….he “opens up” in the second turn leaving everyone else seven, eight, maybe nine lengths behind -- (the cameraman at times can't keep the remaining pack and War Pass in the same frame because he's so far ahead)….he absolutely FLEW in this race and he does all of this in the mud!

In his first five races he was undefeated (similar to Shanghai Bobby) – however War Pass hit a wall in the following spring – finished 7th in the Tampa Bay Derby and 2nd in the Wood Memorial….and he didn’t even run in the Kentucky Derby.

But when I saw War Pass as a two year old (especially this race) …. I really believed he was extraordinary and he would dominate the Triple Crown – (would have loved to see War Pass and Big Brown go at it, at least one time during their primes that season!)

#1 Shanghai Bobby  lines up in the Holy Bull as the undefeated Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Champion and the morning line 4/5 odds favorite.  There are many critics who believe that Shanghai Bobby won’t be able to handle the distance as the races continue to stretch him out – primarily because it’s not in his “breeding”.

As a racing enthusiast I say to hell with breeding – Shanghai Bobby appears to be a very special horse and I’m hopeful he continues his strong success….however we've seen so many brilliant two year olds turn into very average three year olds!

But beginning with the Holy Bull the road to the Triple Crown isn't going to be easy! He’s facing a very talented field this Saturday – in fact this may possibly be the best race we see until the first weekends of April.

***Incidentally Fusaichiswonderful has also won 5 races in 5 attempts and runs in the the Graded Filly Stakes two races before the Holy Bull in what is also a very competitive Forward Gal Stakes

#2 Frac Daddy lost only by a nose against Uncaptured in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club (and finishing ahead of #6 Dewey Square) – Frac Daddy only has three races (1 victory) on his resume – however he seems to be the kind of horse that could develop into a very good horse – very quickly! He’s coming off two months rest and he’s currently going of at 8/1 – He looks like a fighter to me….I don’t see him as any worse than 4th in the Holy Bull

#3 Clearly Now – won his first two races at 6 furlongs apiece, and followed those races with a 3rd place finish at 1 1/16th miles against average talent – I think he’ll be outclassed here.

#4 Bern Identity – is one of the many talented horses who has previously lost to Shanghai Bobby (Hopeful Stakes). Bern Identity has displayed a lot of talent so far – and outside of his maiden race he’s only lost to two of the best three year olds running (Shanghai Bobby and Goldenscents). It’s understandable that he’s the second favorite at 4/1 – if over the past 70 days of rest he’s trained well and blossomed, he could certainly become a Kentucky Derby favorite with a trip to the winner’s circle here.

#5  Sr. Quisqueyano – has Placed twice behind # 7 Itsmyluckyday in their two outings. Sr. Quisqueyano has solid experience, having already raced 7 times in his young career – and scoring three victories and four places. I really like his consistency, however I see him at best finishing 3rd in this one.

#6  Dewey Square has two victories out of three attempts, and he finished a solid third in the Kentucky Jockey Club. At 12-1 odds I think he’s a very dangerous horse – because two of his races have been at this distance. He doesn’t have a lot of experience – so a little more maturity could really benefit this horse…..I like his post position – he could surprise here – his sire is Bernardini.

#7 Itsmyluckyday – he’s going off at 6/1 and I wouldn’t be surprised if he became the second favorite in this race, primarily because of his name (it is a great name). However while he’s won 4 out of 8 attempts – he finished 6th in the Delta Jackpot well behind 2nd place finisher Bern Identity.  I love the name of this horse, but I believe he’ll be overbet come post time.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
worries that if he thinks he's
having a lucky day
his luck will change.
#8 Tulira Castle – son of War Pass and going off at 30/1 odds has two victories out of four attempts. He has never tackled this distance and unless his sire’s breeding kicks in this Saturday I don’t think he’ll contend for a victory.

#9 Fredricksburg – finished immediately behind Tulira Castle in their last outing.  He only has 1 victory in 5 attempts and I don’t think he should be sitting at 30-1 odds with Tulira Castle, but he is. I’ll be surprised if he finishes in the top 5 of this race.

#10 Joshua’s Compromise has a very impressive resume in that he has already raced 15 times in his very young career, which is nearly double the races of the next most experienced horse Itsmyluckyday. What isn’t too terribly impressive is that he only has 1 victory. Seems that his Ownership / Management is running this horse in everything – just hoping to rack up as much money as they can….and his earnings so far are about $115,000. It's frustrating to see this however  – as long as they aren’t hurting the horse….they are made to run….but I don’t think they’re going to win anything this Saturday.

I don’t like to play it safe and pick favorites – but this is just how I see it:

Closing Speed likes: 1,4,2

Now comes the betting side:

I did cash a winning ticket in the California Derby, however I’m still down about $6,

The problem with how I’m reading the Holy Bull is that I don’t see a “big” upset possibility here  - I think Frac Daddy, Shanghai Bobby and Bern Identity will take up at least two out of the top three spots. I think Dewey Square could squeeze into the top three – but I just don’t like the risk v. reward here.

So I’m going with a Pick 3 starting with Race 8 – the Filly Forward Gal Stakes.

Race 8 – 2,6
Race 9 – 1,2,3,7,10,12,13
Race 10 - 1

Pick = $14

Basically I’m taking two favorites in the Forward Gal Stakes a few long shots in Race 9, and finally Shanghai Bobby as the anchor to the Pick 3. Should be a great race day at Gulfstream this Saturday.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 California Derby

GOLDEN GATE - January 12, 2013
Race 4 - 2:18 PM
California Derby
Purse - $100,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles

1 – Will True Up
2 – Condiment
3 – Zeewat
4 – Wildcat Moon
5 – Tree of Life
6 – Butterfly Soul
7 –My Best Bet

When I began writing about Horse Racing I decided that I would likely begin each season with the California Derby (because Cali is my home) – and end my three year old write-ups with the West Virginia Derby….the state where I was born.

The California Derby doesn’t always attract the most talented horses – however there are two horses lining up at the starting gate this year that may deserve your attention – and they are the 6/5 morning line favorite #3  Zeewat and #5 Tree of Life.

#3 Zeewat – has been dominant with Russell Baze on board, having won three races (out of a career five). Two strikes against this horse is that he’ll carry the most weight (122) and this will be his first time stretching out to a mile and 1/16th. However Zeewat has the highest earnings of the field and unless he comes out flat….or another horse surprises – I think Zeewat finishes in the top three without any surprise -- and also his good luck guy Baze will be aboard.

#5 Tree of Life is second in earnings  and showed promise in his early career – having won his first two races (both at 6 furlongs), however he’s followed that with a 10th place finish and a 5th place finish in a mile and 1/16th and a mile. He returns to racing  after a 49 day rest ---- and he could be the kind of horse that returns from a rest and dominates the field….he could also finish 7th?!?!

I wouldn’t be surprised if Tree of Life slipped into being the third favorite – and #2 Condiment switches places with him.

#2 Condiment – has only one victory in six races – however he has three recent races at 1 mile and he finished second in two of them. He has the inside track on both Zeewat and Tree of Life and with a little luck his opponents could come out flat and he could pull off a minor upset. Problem is…..I write that and then immediately remember : 1 victory in 6 races…..he’s also lost to Zeewat twice.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
thinks that the author making a
"Condiment" play on words
is a new low...
Like a well relished frankfurter  -- #1 Will True Up will have Condiment covering his outside……

Will True Up may have the best sire in Lawyer Ron (a challenger to Barbaro almost 10 years ago), however despite his excellent breeding – Will True Up has only 1 win in 4 attempts, and the victory was at 6 furlongs. I think at the right odds you might throw down some cash in hopes that his father’s talent arrives this Saturday…..but I would need 10/1….or more, I just don’t see anything on paper that makes me a believer.

#4 Wildcat Moon – has two career victories in seven – and both of those victories were in his last two races. He’s carrying 116 lbs. and while his victories have only been in 6 furlong races – I like that he’s coming into the race off of two consecutive victories. At 8/1 he’s got me thinking.

#6 Butterfly Soul – with horses like Butterfly Soul and Tree of Life, I can’t tell if I’m looking at horses or sitting at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore….(oh wait they closed that store….bummer)…..anyway I think this horse’s name is real groovy and I really dig that she’s a filly – I also really like that she’s currently the longshot at 15-1 and carrying the least weight – 114.

She has two career victories (out of five attempts) and both victories came under a mile. However she’s run in solid stakes races and while her best recent finish was 2nd in a mile race – I like that her last three races were a mile or longer. At 15-1 she’s tempting.

And finally #7 My Best Bet who has won three races out of six….problem is he’s finished behind Zeewat and Condiment in two of those six races…..and you have to wonder what could help this horse’s luck. There’s a chance his outside post will help, and of course there’s a chance the other horses will misjudge the distance….but I think “my best bet” is not to put money on this horse winning this Saturday -- (which seeing how my confidence usually backfires...could make this horse your best bet...)

In closing Zeewat was absolutely stunning in the Gold Rush Stakes here at Golden Gates – he pulled away easily from the rest of the field and, without question, deserves to be the favorite.

I think having the inside slot and adding more distance will help Condiment….but unless the time off and training have seriously improved his closing abilities – I think a second place finish is (once again) very likely – however I think Wildcat Moon will steal the 2nd place from him and Condiment will finish third.

Closing Speed likes: 3,4,2

Now comes the betting side:

Since I didn’t cash a winning ticket from my last blog – I’ll slow down the betting this week and only put $10 on the table.

$1 Exacta 3,4 with 2,3,4,6 ($6)
$4 Butterfly Soul to Win

Friday, January 4, 2013

Jerome Stakes 2013

AQUEDUCT - January 05, 2013
Jerome S.   (Grade II)
Race 8 - 3:48 PM
Purse - $200,000
Distance - One Mile And Seventy Yards

Siete De Oros
Long River
Amerigo Vespucci
Vegas No Show
James Jingle

Hey there race fans – well it’s that time of year again when Closing Speed begins to take a look at Triple Crown contenders.

Three horses you’ll be hearing a lot about are Shanghai Bobby – who enters 2013 as the undefeated, Breeders Cup Juvenile Champion – who not only is undefeated – he’s beaten the best of the rest, including Goldencents who runs this weekend in the Santa Anita Sham Stakes.

While Shanghai Bobby has done nothing but Win (and Win in big races) – many believe his breeding will leave him wanting as the distances become longer in three year stakes races. However he’s going to stay on my radar until I see that he can no longer compete --- because right now he's the best there is!

Another horse I’m keeping an eye on is Whiskey Romeo – he stumbled horribly in his last race and still managed to win convincingly – he may not be Championship Caliber, but those who have read my blog in the past know that I love a horse with heart!

Before we delve into the Jerome Stakes – I would have written about the Sham Stakes in Santa Anita, but I don’t believe it’s going to be as competitive or as difficult to handicap as the Jerome Stakes are.

I see Goldenscents winning with conviction this Saturday.

We start with Siete De Oros --- which for those who don’t know means Seven of Pentacles in Spanish – which is in reference to the Seven of Pentacles Tarot Card – here is a description of the card:

The Seven of Pentacles shows that you have a strong desire to invest in those things that will provide long-term benefit. You understand the value of putting in time and energy now for longer-term rewards, and you are not necessarily looking for ‘quick wins’ as such

Well luckily the owners aren't looking for quick wins – #1 Siete De Oros is going off at 20/1 and while he’s won two out of four races – I think he’ll struggle to compete here.

In contrast, Vyjack #2  has won his first two races and enters the Jerome Stakes as the favorite at 2/1 – I sense the locals know what they’re talking about – but with only two races under his bridle and stretching out another furlong and 70 yards….I’m not convinced Vyjack should be at 2-1.

#3 Long River enters the race as the second favorite (5/2) and it wouldn't surprise me if he becomes the favorite when the gates open. He’s fresh off of a win at this distance and he seems to be building a little momentum – tough not to like a young horse on the upswing.

Incidentally the next horse was named after an explorer who had someone pay him to explore Brazil – making him a kind of a personal hero of mine!

#4 Amerigo Vespucci – finished 2nd in his last race behind Whiskey Romeo.  He has won two out four career races and I believe he’s a horse that will compete in a number of races moving forward – but I don’t believe he’ll end up exploring the winner’s circle that much.

#5 Notacatbutallama intrigues me….not because I can’t imagine being confused about a Llama looking like a cat – but because he’s currently going off at 12/1 and I think he offers a few variables that could give him a shot at a profitable upset! Notacatbutallama will be running in his eighth race this Saturday which (by today’s standards) is certainly quite a resume for a three year old racing in January – granted most of these races have been on the Turf, and he’s only recently switched to dirt.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah has nothing
against Llama's, but he doesn't want
to be confused as being one.
His past four races all a mile or more have been a Place, Win, Win and a Place – the favorites are all fairly inexperienced (which isn't unusual at this age)….as this will be their 3rd or 4th race --- and I believe with his solid post and his experience Notacatbutallama is certainly worth a visit to the bettors booth.

#6 Mudflats – is going off at 3/1 – and while his last race was a victory in a 7 furlong race here at Aqueduct, I don’t like that he doesn't have any experience in a mile or beyond – and I see him more at about 6/1 than his current odds. Again the locals may know something here.

#7 Vegas No Show finished a dismal 9th in his last outing the Remsen Stakes – however he’s raced against the best young horses in the country so far (including Shanghai Bobby, Violence, Overanalyze, and Normandy Invasion) – this could be a situation where he’s more competitive against a less talented field.

And finally #8 James Jingle, who has a very jolly name but he has the lowest winning percentage (17%) of the field having won 1 race out of 6….and I think he’ll struggle to crack the top three in this race.

Closing Speed likes Long River, Notacatbutallama, and Vyjack

If I'm betting on this race I like

$1 Trifecta (Box) 2,3,5 = $6
$2 Exacta - 5 with 2,3,4 = $6
$1 Exacta - 2,3 with 4,5 = $4

I think I'll start my year off slowly with a $16 bet and let's see where the season takes us.