Upset And Cheers In Horse Racing…

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AwesomeAgainStks13

It was an exciting weekend of horse racing filled with upset and cheers.  From Santa Anita to Belmont Park the thrill and excitement filled the air with surprises stretching from the West to the East Coast!

Fall has finally arrived, and we are only 32 days away from this year’s Breeder’s Cup races that will be held at Santa Anita Race Track.

The best is yet to come, as we start the count down!

Over the weekend, there were a few upsets, but the two that stood out in my book was the Beldame Invitational- G1 and the Jockey Gold Cup Invitational- G1.

(Upset):  A new queen was crowned in the 75th running of the Beldame Invitational – G1

Winner – Princess Sylmar

Princess Sylmar ran down one of the best older female horses around. Royal Delta stumbled out of the gate, but quickly gathered her composure.

3 year old filly Princess of Sylmar tracked Royal Delta as she targeted her around the stretch. As Tom Durkin said, “It took a champion to defeat a champion”:

Talented filly beating one of the best older female; Royal Delta:

Courtesy of: TubeYou by Partymanners2

(Upset):  95th running of the Jockey Gold Cup Invitational- G1

Winner: Ron the Greek

I’m still baffled by this race as I’m not sure what happened, but again we all know horse racing is full of surprises! — I’m sure I was not the only one scratching my head trying to figure out just what happened with this race. This was a solid field with the Kentucky Derby winner- Orb, Belmont Stakes winner- Palace Malice, Travers winner- Alpha, Whitney Invitational winner- Cross Traffic and Multi Graded stakes winner Flat Out.  My picks were the best of the best: Flat Out, Palace Malice and Cross Traffic. To understand what happened I have to break down how the race unfolded.

Cross Traffic was the expected speed in the race. Strangely, he walked out of the gate, running sluggishly and was unexpectedly dead last. Alpha ran straight to the front similar to his Travers race, and set the pace with Palace Malice right behind him. I was very surprised to see 6-year old Ron the Greek more forwardly placed than usual as Jose Lezcano sat him at the rail in third behind Alpha and Palace Malice. When he finally made his move, he quickly took off from the rail and pulled away from this all-star cast for a huge upset victory with odds of 21-1.  He skimmed the rail and cleared the field like a bullet train!

Unfortunately, the lost meant there was no 3-Peat for 7-year old Flat Out, trained by Bill Mott. He loves Belmont Park (also known as the Big Sandy), winning 5 out of 6 times at this track. Flat Out was seeking his third consecutive win for the $1million Jockey Gold Cup; a feat that only the mighty gelding Kelso accomplished back in 1962. What is even more impressive is Kelso has been the only horse to win this race 5 consecutive times (1960-1964). Since 1919, a total of 10 horses have won this 1 ¼ race ‘twice’.

Interesting addition:  Also trained by Bill Mott, Ron the Greek is Flat Out’s uncoupled stablemate. Bill Mott also won the Jockey Gold Cup Invitational back in 1995 with Cigar.

Bill Mott (Courtesy of Bloodhorse.com):

“You gotta love Ron. Everybody loves Ron the Greek! This is the Ron the Greek today,” Mott said. “This is the same type of race he ran in the Sunshine Millions, the same type of race he ran in California when he won the Santa Anita Handicap. Every once in a while, he’ll throw one of these. I can’t determine when, but he did it today.”

Watch Ron the Greek’s impressive win:

(Courtesy of: YouTube by Partymanners2)

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12=7+5…It Adds Up…

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With the Belmont Stakes now behind us, the dust has finally settled and we can now reflect on the final leg of the Triple Crown trail.  What a journey it has been for this year’s crop of talented 3-year olds!  On picking winners, we can either give ourselves a tap on the back for some great handicapping efforts, or knock ourselves across our heads for overlooking imperative information and picking incorrect winners.

Now who would have thought the results of the Belmont Stakes (1st- Palace Malice #12, 2nd- Oxbow #7, 3rd- Orb #5) could be compared to a Mathematical equation, but the number 12 is indeed the sum of 7+5. How simple does that sound? If picking a winner was that easy; we’d all be rolling to the bank!  I never really like numbers, in fact I hated Math in high school, but when I started to understand how the relationship of numbers within a horse race could actually help me with my handicapping, I actually appreciated all the numerical information I could I could get my hands on! I realized how important it was to keep things simple, and just understand each race and how the numbers within the race could help me to narrow-down my choices.  Nothing comes easy when you are trying to pick a winner and things can get even more complicated once different variables are added to the mix. Yes in horse racing anything can happen, but having the right information gives you a calculated edge on who to keep within a race, as well as who to toss-out. This may probably be the longest distance any of these 3-year olds will ever run. A grueling mile and a half, no wonder it’s known as “The Test of the Campion”.  Palace Malice who had set the second fastest initial quarter and half mile fractions in the Kentucky Derby’s history was by-far the best horse on Belmont Stakes day. He drew clear in the last quarter mile to win by three and a quarter lengths from Oxbow, with Orb in third. With such wide sweeping turns at Belmont Park, how difficult was this race to figure out?  Well, you could have eliminated half the field by understanding just how invaluable these factors were:

1.  Tomlinson Figures – The late Art Kaufman aka Lee Tomlinson developed the Tomlinson pedigree ratings as a handicapping tool. It became a part of the DRF in 2001, and can be easily found in your DRF forms. It’s located in the far top right of each horse’s career information box under WET, TURF, DISTANCE. It is a 3 digit rating purported to gauge a sire’s ability to pass turf, wet-track, sprinting, and staying ability to its offsprings. A look at the rating might give you a clue to which horse has the pedigree to get the distance

  • A DISTANCE rating range from 0-480 with a rating of 320 to be considered average. Each horse has a rating and is revised quarterly. Ratings are keyed to the distance of the specific race. The higher the rating the better chances a horse should run particularly well over that distance
  • For an off-track, a MUD rating of 320+ merits further consideration as a horse who could run particularly well over a wet track

Within the Belmont field the following horses had the highest Tomlinson Distance Rating:

**Midnight Taboo – 309

Palace Malice – 310

Overanalyze – 311

Incognito – 316

Oxbow – 330

2.  A favorable Dosage Index figure of 3.00 or less. The Dosage Index is a number that comes from the ratio of speed to stamina in a horse’s pedigree. The higher the number the more speed in the pedigree — while a lower number indicates that a horse should have more stamina. Anything above a number of 4.00 is supposed to indicate that a horse will have trouble at longer distances. It’s a useful tool to  quantify a horse’s ability, or inability, to negotiate the various distances at which horse races are run. It is calculated based on an analysis of the horse’s pedigree.

  • In the last 10 years horses that won the Belmont had a Dosage Index of 3.00 or less (In 2003, Empire Maker had a DI of 3.16)
  • In the last 25 years there have been three horses with Dosage Index above 4.00. Sarava in 2002, Commendable in 2000, and Touch of Gold in 1997
  • A Center of Distribution of .67 and higher. The CD value indicates the “Balancing Point” of the horse’s pedigree profile, with positive values toward speed. A CD of 0.0 means that he horse has an even number of speed points as he does stamina. A CD of  -0.5 means he has slightly more stamina points, and a CD of 1.5 for example, shows a large favor in the speed side of the profile.
  • In the last 10 years, there has been only one horse that had a CD lower than +0.67. Drosselmeyer in 2010 with a CD of +0.55

Again, only half the field in this year’s Belmont had a Dosage Index of 3.00 or lower, and a Center of Distribution close to +0.67 or higher:

*Unlimited Budget – DI 3.00/CD +0.92

Incognito – DI 3.00/CD +0.64

**Midnight Taboo – DI 3.00/ CD +0.75

Overanalyze – DI 3.00/CD +0.92

Oxbow – DI 2.50/CD +0.86

Palace Malice – DI 2.64/ CD +0.65

Golden Soul – DI 1.92/CD +0.61

Vyjack – DI180/CD.71

Giant Finish -DI159/CD.41

When combining all 3 figures for Tomlinson Ratings, Dosage Index and Center of Distribution there were only 2 horses that had very close numbers, and that would be Palace Malice and Oxbow. Orb’s Tomlinson Distance is 296, DI 3.21, and CD +0.86.

3.  In this final and most demanding leg of the Triple Crown Favorites Rarely Win. In fact, the last favorite to win the Belmont was in 2005 with Afleet Alex. Beware of the betting public, they can steer you in the wrong direction!

  • ***Understanding that most Belmont Stakes winners are Presser or Off the Pace types that sit 1-4 lengths off the lead in the early stages of the race
  • ***The only “deep” closer that managed to win in the last 13 years was Jazil and he sat about 8 lengths off the lead early on
  • ***Going back 10 years, there has been only 1 “wire-to-wire” type horse to win the Belmont. Da’Tara in 2008 at odds of 38/1

So it’s been proven once again that statistics, and numbers do matter when handicapping a race like the Belmont Stakes.  Being able to understand important factors within this race can help you choose the right contenders. There are also other factors to consider like the weather, but the use of the Tomlinson Figures will assist in helping you pick out the horses whose pedigree will favor a wet track. You can incorporate your other handicapping strategies along with these important factors to solidify your final picks.

Before we close the doors on this year’s journey for the Triple Crown, I must address the only three horses that ran in all three legs of the races – Oxbow, Orb and Will Take Charge. There were memorable moments of glory; as well as the sadness of defeat, but despite the various outcomes to all three races Orb, Oxbow and Will Take Charge deserve much respect for their commendable efforts.  Orb went off to win the Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track with the second fastest quarter and half-mile fractions set in Derby history. Two weeks later we patiently waited with anticipation for a Triple Crown candidate, but our hopes were shattered when out of nowhere Oxbow was guilty of stealing the 2nd jewel of the crown. He won going wire to wire, in what was the slowest fractions set in Preakness Stake’s history. Orb was sadly defeated, but managed to come in 3rd in both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont. Three weeks later, a fresh horse emerged as suicidal fractions were set in the Belmont Stakes. Palace Malice won by 3 1/4 lengths over Oxbow, with Orb beaten five lengths, Incognito six lengths and Revolutionary 6 1/2 lengths. What can I say about Will Take Charge?  He had a disastrous trip in the Kentucky Derby when he ran into tiring Verrazano, and he never really had a chance to regain momentum and managed to come in 8th out of 19 horses. Although it seems “bad derby luck” could have been his excuse in the Derby, Will Take Charge was never a major factor in the remaining legs of the Triple Crown.

So as the quest for the Triple Crown ends, a few of these talented three year olds will eventually find their places in racing history. Some will move on and become remarkable turf horses, others will become unbelievable sprinters and maybe one of these horses may even go off to win the Breeders Cup Classic. What the future holds for each of these amazing three year olds will be a new journey with unlimited possibilities. Soon a new Spring will arrive, and a new cast of super-stars will create new excitement and the quest for the Triple Crown will start all over again.

It takes a lot out of a horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown so it’s no big surprise that it’s been 35 years since our last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed nipped Alydar by a head to claim his stake in horse racing history.

The 2014 Belmont Stakes will be run on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

*Filly

**In the last 75 years, no horse who ran 3 races or less has won the Belmont Stakes

***Courtesy of Super Screener, Belmont Stakes

Yes! A filly in the Belmont…

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In the 145 year history of the Belmont Stakes 23 fillies have entered into the Belmont Stakes in hopes for victory, and to be draped with a blanket of white carnations. Only 3 fillies have accomplished this amazing feat and whose names have been written in the history books as simple amazing.  The very first Belmont Stakes in 1867 was won by a filly named Ruthless, in 1905 a filly named Tanya, and then 102 years later in 2007 Todd Pletcher’s captures the win aboard Rags to Riches.  Only 3 gutsy fillies have done it, and the question is: Will history be made in this year’s Belmont Stakes; with the first female jockey, and a filly named Unlimited Budget? 

Fillies to place in Belmont Stakes
Year, Filly, Finish
1867, Ruthless, 1st
1868, Fanny Ludluw, 3rd
1869, Invercauld, 3rd
1870, Midday, 3rd
1905, Tanya, 1st
1913, Flying Fairy, 3rd
1927, Flambino, 3rd
1980, Genuine Risk, 2nd
1996, My Flag, 3rd
2007, Rags to Riches, 1st

*Courtesy of Bloodhorse.com, Article: Unlimited Budget will get her shot at history

The news was confirmed yesterday that Unlimited Budget will indeed be running with the boys! This awesome addition always adds excitement to see a filly in the race. Now add the top female jockey, Rosie Napravnik we just “Kicked It Up a Notch”! Check out my article called, “100 Oak Points”, which shares my thoughts on the new Derby Points System and explains about the eligibility to run in the Kentucky Derby.  Fillies that were graded stakes winner like Unlimited Budget; were unable to partake in this year’s running of the Kentucky Derby with this very specialized point system. There are fans for the new system, as well as others that are not too thrilled. The opportunities just were not there to see the true potential of some amazing fillies in this year’s three year old crop. Shut out, before shipping out! Like anything in life, I hate to say it; at times the measurement of a female’s ability is  how good she stands against her male counterpart. A horse can be a considered a super filly, but can she shine amongst a group of top 3-year old colts? A filly can be great, but once proven…She goes into that “unbelievable” category.

In an article on Bloodhorse’s website , Owner Mike Repole said, “Unlimited Budget’s physical size and her mental maturity gave him the confidence that the Street Sense filly would fare well against the males.  She’ll be one of the larger horses in the race.”  The first time he set eyes on her, he thought she was a colt. “She is as big and tall, if not bigger, than many of these colts”.

She has the running style that will fare well in this race as she will be stalking the pace from mid-range and her speed scores are very comparable to her male counterparts. Out of a lifetime of 5 races, she was 3rd in her last race the G-I Kentucky Oaks and won her 4 previous races which consist of two G-2 races, and a G-3 race.  Add to her resume, triple digit Brisnet speed scores on her last two races  She had a sharp 4f bullet work: 47.2 – 1/46 on June the 2nd, and had a couple of other good works at Belmont.

Can this female duo outsmart, outlast and outrun the boys?  We’ll find the answer in the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Good luck to Rosie Napravnik and Graded Stakes winner, Unlimited Budget = GIRL POWER!

Unlimited Riches; Will A Filly Run In The Belmont Stakes?

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Lets all go back 6 years, to 2007 when a filly named Rags to Riches dominated the boys in the final quest to the last jewel of the Triple Crown.  It was a monstrous feat to outlast the almighty Curlin but Rags to Riches prevailed, and become the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont Stakes.

I can faintly hear the echoes of Tom Durkins’ thrilling race-call as the horses are running toward the top of the stretch, “A filly is in the front of the Belmont, but Curlin is right there with her.  These two in the “Battle of the Sexes” in the Belmont Stakes. It is Curlin on the inside, and Rags to Riches on the outside in a desperate finish. Rags to Riches and Curlin they’re coming down to the wire. It’s going to be close… and it’s going to be a filly in the Belmont! Rags to Riches has beaten Curlin and a 100 years of Belmont history. The first filly to win it in a century!”

What an exciting feat for Todd Pletcher’s first “Classic”,  win with a filly in the Belmont!

June 8th will be the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, and with no Triple Crown on the line there is still much suspense brewing in the air with Todd Pletcher’s filly possibly running in the most challenging leg of the Triple Crown.  Decision to run her is still not 100%, but after turning in a sharp half-mile in:  47 2/5 this morning and galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 in company with Capo Bastone, Todd Pletcher estimates her chances of running in the Belmont as 80-90%. In a recent article from Bloodhorse website, Pletcher was very happy with how she worked as she seemed enthusiastic, and did not have to be asked or encouraged at any point. He plans to confirm with Owner Mike Repole at the end of the day whether the filly will run in the race.  Her connections have been debating on whether to run her in the Belmont Stakes against the boys, or go against top filly Dreaming of Julia in the Grade I- Mother Goose on June 22nd.

Now if she does run in the Belmont, will she be able to emulate Todd Pletcher’s “only” Belmont win with Rags to Riches?  Inquiring minds want to know:  Can the only filly in the race beat a tough field of male contenders? Does she have the tenacity that Rags to Riches had? Does she have the pedigree to go a mile and a half? Will this finally be the year that Todd Pletcher adds another Belmont win to his resume? Who is this filly, and what do we need to know about her?

Her name is Unlimited Budget.  She is a stunning 3 -year old filly, out of the 2010 Kentucky Derby and Preakness 2nd place winner, Street Sense- Unlimited Appeal, by Valid Appeal. She was bred in Florida, out of Ocala Stud. Her name refers to what Owner, Mike Repole regretfully told his wife about her spending limit for their new home after selling his company Glaceau, maker of Vitaminwater and Smart water, to Coca-Cola for $4.1. “You’ve got an unlimited budget with this house.” What a perfect name!

She’s a big Street Sense filly, and although there is some concern from her female family, which is more predominately speed-oriented, her sire’s line is bred for stamina.

In another article in Blood Horse website, when comparing Unlimited Budget to his 2007 Belmont Stakes winner, Rags to Riches this is what Todd Pletcher had to say, “The bottom side of her pedigree isn’t as deep in stamina as Rags to Riches. The biggest thing about Rags to Riches pedigree is that she is so stoutly bred. She was sired out of a Belmont winner , A.P. Indy and being a half sister to a Belmont winner, Jazil”.   So there is little concern, but on the positive side Unlimited Budget has already won at a mile and a sixteenth twice this year, and has also won going at a mile and an eighth as a 2-year old so going longer in distance, should not be a major problem.  Her speed figures also match up to the colts she would be going up against; so she seems to fit into the mix.

Add the top female jockey to the equation, and you could possibly have a winning combination. Rosie Napravnik is likely to ride Unlimited Budget, and will attempt to become the only female rider to win the Belmont since Julie Krone in 1993, aboard Colonial Affair.  Having a female duo in a male dominated race is always exciting, as it gets the female bettors more involved in the sports betting.

Lets hope Unlimited Budget runs with the boys, and shows the sport what she is all about.  In Mike Repole’s words, “She’s not only Unlimited Budget; I think she has unlimited potential too”.

My Favorite Belmont Moments…

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In a matter of 5 short weeks, the top 3 year olds in the country take part in the covenant Triple Crown Trail in hopes of stealing the jewels and capturing the long awaited Triple Crown by victoriously winning all three races.

Starting on the “first Saturday in May”, the adventure a waits in Louisville with the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Two weeks later, the horses head to Pimlico Race Track in Maryland for the Preakness Stakes where they compete in the shortest distance of the three races. Another three weeks later, they finally meet once again in Elmont, NY for the Belmont Stakes. The longest distance of the three races; there is a reason they call this race the, Test of Champions”. The sweeping turns at Belmont will challenge both the jockey and the horse, and anything can happen when a 3 year old goes a mile and a half for the first time.

Sounds easy?  Think again… It’s been 35 years since we’ve crowned a Triple Crown winner. Affirmed in 1978 sealed the deal as he triumphed over his nemesis, Alydar.

Although this year, we have no Triple Crown winner on the line the excitement still continues to brew for the Belmont Stakes on June 8th. A large field is anticipated with the possibility of a filly in the race! New surprises continually add sheer thrill to the sport of Thoroughbred Horse Racing .

As I re-watch old races on YouTube, I’m so amazed on how I am able to go back in time as if I am experiencing the moment all over again. I’ve revisited a few of my favorite Belmont races that I’d like to share with you that still triggers the same emotions each time I watch the videos:

1978 Belmont Stakes, Affirmed edges Alydar by a neck in a stirring stretched duel! I’m at the edge of my seat each time I watch this race. I could not even fathom how it must have felt to be there in person.

 

1998  Belmont Stakes, Victory Gallop guilty of a crime as he steals the Race from Real Quiet. I am not exaggerating when I say, every single time I watch this race my exact thoughts are, “Did that seriously just happened?”

 

And one of my all time favorite race calls from Tom Durkin, the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Rags To Riches. The infamous race-call of, “The Battle of the Sexes”, with the gutsy filly winning the race. I consider this race-call, “priceless”.

 

Thanks to modern technology, and YouTube we are able to go back in time and experience great races in history.

What are some of your favorite Belmont moments?

**All Videos courtesy of YouTube