Weekend handicapping 6/29-6/31

Two-year-olds are back in focus at Churchill Downs on Saturday night, and on That Handicapping Show I selected Romans Avenue in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3). This Street Sense colt is one to watch this weekend and down the road. I loved how he moved in the debut victory regardless of the speed figure (it came back a little slow on Beyer and BRIS). He is listed at 5-1 on the morning line, and I think he's value at that price.

In the Dwyer Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park I am going with Zetterholm. He toyed with New York-bred company before running a solid 4th in the Preakness. He wasn't in the same zip code as the top three, but he won the secondary race within the race. I was curious where trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. would bring this Silver Train colt back, and it looks like he's found a good spot. I love the spacing with six weeks and five workouts (including two 6f moves) since his last.

Before he was ambitiously placed in the Belmont Stakes, I wrote that Unstoppable U was a horse to watch off of two better-than-they-look-on-paper wins to begin his career. He ran pretty well in the Belmont all things considered, and I was tempted to go with him in the Dwyer, but at 3-1 on the morning line, I am going to watch and see where he is from a developmental aspect.

Hansen returns this weekend in the Iowa Derby (G3). The Tapit colt is listed at 2-5 on the morning line in a very weak field of five. If I managed Hansen, this is exactly the kind of spot I'd be looking for the rest of the year (big purse vs. second-tier three-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles or less).

Alysheba Stakes winner Successful Dan is listed at 6-5 in the Cornhusker Handicap (G3), and he might get bet even lower. I think Successful Dan is one of the best older horses in the country and a major contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

At Hollywood Park, the Shoemaker Mile (G1) drew a nice field of eight. I am officially off of Mr. Commons, whom I loved in the Breeders' Cup Mile last year (at 19-1). This Artie Schiller colt keeps underperforming and losing close ones despite an overall good-looking record.

Who does everyone like this weekend?


Leave a Comment:

Mary Zinke

Dwyer: Zetterholm,5,6,4,1 w/the .10super I may box as to me these aren't as predictable as top 3yos.

New York Stakes: Hit It Rich: 2,1,6,3,4,5. Just felt like listing the whole field in order. lol, if they come in that way.

Triple Bend: 2,6/2,5,6,8/2,5,6,7,8,9/2,3,5,


Iowa Derby: 1,5,2

Firecracker: the class, Turallure, and then who else can stand the heat? Maybe long shot Mandurah.

Shoemaker Mile: Jeranimo

Need help w/Take Control's race BHP r. 8 6/30; it's part of a p3.I may play.Thanks.

29 Jun 2012 12:00 PM
Pete Denk


My friend in Vegas who plays California likes 5 Death Star in BHP8 on Saturday.

Looks like a very tough race for me. I am not a fan of the synth tracks...

Looks like tons of speed in there (1,4,7,10). Unless u single Baffert, I would look to cover a closer or two in multi-race bets.

29 Jun 2012 12:20 PM
Mary Zinke

Thanks, for the recommendation from your Vegas friend, Pete D. Not a fan exactly of syn. myself, but races on those surfaces are what's between the  good turf races at BHP and DM. Plus, it's a long time 'til SA's fall meet, and I have a few Cali favs that can handle dirt or syn. Besides, Acclamation may go for the PC again.  

29 Jun 2012 1:06 PM
Pete Denk

Azeri's 3yo filly by Ghostzapper, Wine Princess, gets back on dirt tonight at CD in Race 10.

29 Jun 2012 1:22 PM

Nice post, Pete! It looks like it's going to be a terrific weekend of racing. However, to me, the most interesting race of all may not be one of the graded stakes events, but the eighth at Hollywood Park on Saturday. That race will mark the return of Take Control, a five-year-old son of A.P. Indy out of Azeri. He has only raced once, breaking his maiden at Santa Anita on December 30th . . . 2009. Shin issues have kept him from the races ever since, but the Bob Baffert-trainee has been turning in steady workouts since April and should finally be ready to make the second start of his career.

On a side note, a couple of two-year-olds broke their maidens in impressive fashion yesterday, one at Belmont Park and one at Hollywood. At Belmont, the juvenile in question is Onetwentyeight, a son of Discreet Cat trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mike Repole. Ridden to victory by Javier Castellano, the colt showed excellent speed and won the 5-1/2 furlong maiden special weight by five lengths in gate-to-wire fashion.

At Hollywood, Bob Baffert unveiled a potential new star in Executiveprivilege, a daughter of First Samurai. Owned by the connections of Lookin at Lucky and Midnight Lute, the filly broke very slowly in a field of nine juveniles fillies going 5-1/2 furlongs, and it certainly would have been understandable had she failed to make up the ground. But in the homestretch, she pretty much inhaled the field, rallying under a hand ride to win by 4 1/2 lengths. She looks like a very nice filly indeed, and I think she'll be a stakes winner before too long.


29 Jun 2012 1:55 PM

Smiling Tiger vs. The Factor.  Throw is some other speedsters who enjoy Hollywood Park like Comma to the Top and you have the makings of a great sprint race.

Liked seeing Rail Trip run back in Cali on Thursday, however seems like the 7 year old has lost a step.  

29 Jun 2012 2:02 PM

Romans Avenue certainly looks like a good value play in the Bashford Manor, as does the horse drawn on his outside, Positvely.  However, the Downs after Dark crowd may bet Postively down a little due to Borel in the saddle. Although the DRF makes some note of Positively's pedigree, it does not mention that this colt is a half brother to sire Malibu Moon.  Also, drawing on the outside of the other main contenders and the Take Chare Indy connections only make Positively look better.

Other than Morgan's Guerrilla and Ustoppable U, it doesn't look like there is much speed in the Dwyer. Depending on how the track is playing, it may favor these two. Zetterholm does look like he could develop into a very nice horse and Teeth of the Dog merits respect.

In regards to the 8th at Hollywood, I don't think it is usually a good idea to play a horse in their first start after breaking their maiden unless you are darn sure they are something special. While Take Control has the pedigree to be something special, he had 2 surgeries during his layoff according to an April artile on this website.  Reportedly, he just got back to work in April and his worktab looks a little light to me. Death Star's maiden score was decent, but it was only a 5 horse field and his worktab is mediocre at best, although Shirreffs isn't one to really crank them up. I would consider the other Shah/Baffert entry in Patriot's Voyage, even though Bejarano is on TC and has been riding PV. I don't typically like 3 year old facing older, but I find Shaun Washington interesting trying synth for his first time. His worktab at Hol looks good and in his first 3 lifetime races, he faced Silver Max, who is the best 3 year old turf horse in the country.

Best of luck to all!

29 Jun 2012 2:24 PM

I, too, like Death Star over at BHP. As far as the Firecracker goes, Guy's Reward deserves a serious look, loves the course and won a stakes over the surface last out.

29 Jun 2012 3:47 PM

They might have not worked together and may have been in different sets, but the other Shirreffs in the race, Treasury Devil, outworked Death Star by 4/5ths on 6/25.

29 Jun 2012 4:20 PM

I can't leave Death Star completely out of consideration, but I would greatly appreciate it if someone would please tell me what I am missing here.  Thanks!

29 Jun 2012 4:30 PM
Mary Zinke

Shoemaker Mile: sticking w/Cali horses 5,7,8,1

Cornhusker: AG,SD,Shadowb 5,3,2

29 Jun 2012 4:41 PM
Pete Denk

Big Bux-

Yeah, a 44/44 H workout does not inspire confidence! LOL

But my experience clocking with Bruno De Jullio taught me that published workout info is extremely misleading. The timing is subjective. Inaccuracy is rampant. And you really have to see how the horse did it. Trainer methods and intent are a big part of the picture.

In the case of Death Star, that was his 4th or 5th work since the race, so I doubt they wanted much right before Saturday's start.

29 Jun 2012 7:05 PM
Mary Zinke

In the Triple Bend,3 and 7 move up w/8 scratched. and are we supposed to say why we picked these horses?

29 Jun 2012 7:30 PM


I am in agreement that published workouts are misleading. I think sometimes flashy works are just for show for the owners. Knowing the trainer their style is very important and sometimes Shirreffs can be a tough read. The 8th at Hollywood isn't the best n1x out there, so Death Star could very well win, but I just like to know people's angles in case there is something that I am missing. If the angle here is a decent maiden score with competitive speed figure and Smith/Shirreffs, then I understand, but that would not be enough for me to take a plunge on Death Star.  If there is something more that I am missing, I would like to know.

I can't speak for everybody, but in response to Mary Z., I always appreciate some reasonsing behind selections, as I feel more information or angles that are discussed can only improve handicapping skills.

By the way Mary Z., I like your style selecting the complete order of finish for some races :)

29 Jun 2012 9:18 PM
Pete Denk

The aforementioned Wine Princess delivered a gutty win in CD Race 10.

Unfortunately she was bet down to 4-5.

29 Jun 2012 11:22 PM

Pete (or anyone) : Any singles you recommend in either of the late P4s in Belmont and BHP ?  I singled Dynamic Diva in the first leg at BHP but would like to find a single in Belmont.  Any tips ?

Belmont $.50 Late P4 ($18.00)

6 / 11 / 10

1 / 3

5 / 2 / 1

1 / 2

BHP $.50  Late P4 ($18.00)


1 / 3 / 9 / 5

6 / 7 / 8

7 / 8 / 3

I'm wondering if Hansen should've gone to the Cornhusker against Successful Dan, it's 50K more and I think he can outrun SD and hold him off in the stretch.

Good luck to all who are playing today!

30 Jun 2012 12:41 PM
Pete Denk

Jay Jay-

At Belmont, I'd definitely use the 9 Beckham Bend in the last race.

Also, you are betting against Banimpire in the New York (G2). Calculated gamble against 1st NA start? Chad Brown excels in that scenario, and she has the Euro form to win this.

30 Jun 2012 2:18 PM

So I finally watched a replay of Death Star's maiden score and it was visually impressive. I wouldn't talk anyone out of betting him, but it is not an angle I like taking unless the rest of the field is completely overmatched.


I personally think Aruna is going to be the dominate turf mare in the US this year at races over 10f. However, there isn't much pace in the race so it might just come down to trip.

Good luck!

30 Jun 2012 2:19 PM

Just noticed that Dominguez took off in the Dwyer, obviously so he can get to Prairie in time to ride Hansen. However, note that he is staying to ride Aruna, so that shows you what Ramon thinks of her. You certainly can't leave her off your ticket, but maybe Hit It Rich gets an easy pace or the race turns into a euro sytle sprint and the classy invader wins it.

30 Jun 2012 2:25 PM
Pete Denk

Big Bux-

Yeah I thought Death Star showed good enough late energy in the maiden score that he is at least a threat. I doubt I'm playing the race though...

30 Jun 2012 2:28 PM
Matthew W

Race #10, Hollywood Park: #5 Strong Wind, 9-2 odds but I think he'll go off a bit lower--he's my best play on a so-so card, I back-wheeled him to the Shoe Mile, which means Mr Commons will win by five cuz that's what always seems to happen when I wheel! But Strong Wind, he's a live shooter today!

30 Jun 2012 5:25 PM

Way to go Take Control.  This guy was on my Derby list way back when and now that he's back I hope he sticks around.

30 Jun 2012 7:50 PM

The way that Gomez won on Jeranimo in the Shoemaker confirms my feelings that this guy can still win the big races, no problem.

30 Jun 2012 8:22 PM

Mary Z, nice win on Jeranimo.  What a rousing finish.  I think he was last at the top of the stretch but once Gomez got him going he was dynamite.  A win and you're in BC race too

30 Jun 2012 8:26 PM
Mary Zinke

Thanks, Laz. I arrived at the track too late and was saved from losing money on the New York Stakes.  I would not have picked the 4, so that was lucky to miss out. The 2 in the Dwyer ruined my trying to buy the super. I had Take Control, just 2 across, but Jeranimo, yeah, at 5 across. My first pick 3 ever was a loss though with Camp Victory winning over The Factor. Had the other two legs. I did have p,s on Camp Victory, just for a little faith. I have enough losing ticket mementos on sure winners, lol. Now hopefully my Prairie Meadows picks will work out. Hope you're cashing tickets, Laz.I guess broke even for me is better than broke.

30 Jun 2012 9:26 PM

Well, that was a tough tough day.  It was one of those days where I probably jinxed the winners by betting them lol.  Anything I bet today was either 2nd or 3rd or not hitting the board.  

I started really well at BHP, had the first 3 winners on my P5 bet...then it started going downhill when Maldonado killed me with.  I had the last leg nailed with Gomez and Bejarano.  P5 and P4 down the drain.  Late P4 wasn't even close lol.  Gomez was 7-2 morning line and went off at 8-1.  Laz was right, he was just idling and can still win.

I didn't see the Hansen race but just saw the results and Fort Larned beat SD.  I think Hansen could've taken the Cornhusker.  I'm gonna google it now to see how Hansen won.  He's one of my favorite horses just cause he is probably the best looking gray horse I've ever seen.  

01 Jul 2012 12:43 AM
Mary Zinke

You didn't see CC's races?

01 Jul 2012 2:10 AM
Rusty Weisner

Pete Denk,

I didn't single either of the horses I mentioned Thursday.  Singled the 1 in the last leg of the Pick 4 for lack of a more inspired choice, and he was hopelessly bottled up in the stretch.  Too bad, as I played the 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 in exotics, as well.

I didn't like the ride on Aruna, whom I ended up preferring to Banimpire, in a six-horse field, though I was happy to have Mystical Star on my ticket.

Back to the drawing board.

01 Jul 2012 10:29 AM
Rusty Weisner

Belmont Late Pick4 bet was:

R8 2,3,6,8,9,10

R9 1,4,6

R10 1,4,5,6

R11 1


01 Jul 2012 10:35 AM
Rusty Weisner

Speaking of rides, Napravnik beats Teeth of the Dog if she stays further outside of him.  It looked to me like she gave him a chance to fight back coming up alongside him like that.

01 Jul 2012 10:57 AM
Karen in Texas

JayJay---- Hansen looked good. The HRTV commentators called it a public workout; one even said, "a walk-over." I was pleased to see how relaxed he was in the post parade and his modest (for him) early fractions. What really struck me though, was that he appeared to have grown and put on some weight and muscle. Of course, there was the addition of a bright yellow bridle....whose idea could that have been??

01 Jul 2012 11:33 AM

KiT (hope you don't mind the abbrev. :) ) :  Yeah, he looked really good.  I think Dominguez was a little nervous at the top of the stretch until after he looked back and saw no one was even close and just sat there and played with his iPad until they hit the wire.

I'm not that familiar with the Prairie Meadows track but it looks like a pretty big track - I thought it was going to be a bullring type of track but they have a nice long stretch there.  I don't even know where it is lol.

Mary Zinkie : Were you asking me about CC's race ?  Also, who is CC ?  I was thinking Creative Cause but not sure if he ran yesterday, if he did, then yes, I did miss it lol.   Ignore this babble if the post wasn't for me.

01 Jul 2012 3:50 PM
Point Given

Nice to see Take Control back.Now go win some grade 1 stakes.

01 Jul 2012 4:48 PM
Mary Zinke

I meant CC (Creative Cause) is a handsome gray.

01 Jul 2012 8:11 PM

Jeranimo is a personal fave of mine.  I have consistently chased him, with the occassional reward(Oak Tree Mile. Citation).  He always fires, he just doesn't always fire his absolute best nor does he always win.  But the Shoemaker was won of his "A" days, and he finally got a grade 1 to go along with 4 grade 2s(also won the 10' Strub and 10' San Gabriel) and became a millionaire in the process.

Following the American Cap', a friend and I had started to refer to Mr. Commons as "Mr. Very Common"(as in Mr. Very Ordinary).  No surprise on my end that he went to 1 for 7 against unrestricted company and 0 for 5 in grade 1s.  Mike Smith certainly did him no favors running up behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch, but while it may have cost Mr. Commons 3rd and possibly 2nd, he wasn't beating Jeranimo.  The Shoemaker only confirmed my opinion that on their best days, Jeranimo is more explosive and thus better than Mr. Commons.  And since Mr. Commons doesn't seem to have an elite turn of foot, maybe it's time to position him a little closer to the pace and try to grind out some victories?

The Triple Bend supported my theory that if The Factor is forced to run on the inside of a fast and contested pace, he'll fade.  As eveidence are the Ancient Title, Breeder's Cup Dirt Mile, and now the Triple Bend.

Some may look at the half mile fraction of 44 and 4 and think The Factor got away with some relatively soft fractions.  However, the Hollywood Cushion Track has played slow all meet and on Friday night and Saturday it was arguably as dead as it's been. 44 and 4 yesterday was like going 43 and 2 at Santa Anita, and that's a tough task for even The Factor especially when pressed first by Italian Rules and then by 3-time grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger.  

Because The Factor doesn't do well when looked in the eye and forced to run sub-44 first halves, I don't consider him a true superstar and give him little chance in the BC Sprint.  However, he's still a quality colt who on his best day and under favorable pace scenarios can win big races.  He was 5 lengths clear of the rest of the field in the Triple Bend.

But the Triple Bend belonged to Camp Victory and Mike Mitchell.  If you haven't heard, Mitchell is in the hospital recovering from brain surgery(they removed a tumor) and awaiting results as to whether the tumor is benign.  Undoubtedly, the Triple Bend must have elevated spirits.

As for Camp Victory, he's become a solid sprinter on the SoCal circuit and has proven capable on all 3 surfaces(synth, turf, dirt).  And he was owed a big race to himself.  In a 4 race span last year he crossed the wired second to Rgeally Ready on turf, Amazombie, Smiling Tiger, and The Factor.  This year, he's run 3rd behind Amazombie and Roman Threat and then Roman Threat again.  He is probably not an internationally elite sprinter, and he will likely point to the BC Turf Sprint rather than the Sprint.  But make no mistake, Camp Victory ran huge yesterday as much the best, and deserves that grade 1 next to his name.

Hansen looked good in the Iowa Derby, but he wasn't beating much.  But that's the way he needs to be ridden in every race.  He's an agressive horse and needs an agressive ride.  His presence in the Haskell could really be a thorn in Bode's side.

Certainly didn't see in Successful Dan the superstar that others have proclaimed him to be.  What I really don't understand is what a horse with his tactical speed was doing back in 4th off such a slow pace.  Another head-scratcher from Julien.  Needless to say, I will need to see more from rider and horse if he's to be at the top of my Classic rankings.

The Dwyer again validated the Preakness form with Teeth of the Dog winning a 2nd stakes following his 5th in the 2nd jewel.  Zetterholm, 4th in the Preakness, ran ok to be a close 4th again in the Dwyer.  On the other side of the coin, the Dwyer did little to dispute my belief that the Belmont was the weakest of the 3 Triple Crown races.

Congrats Mary on Jeranimo and Matthew on Strong Wind(won by 6).

01 Jul 2012 10:20 PM
Mary Zinke

Thanks, Gunbow. What is the link to your blog?

01 Jul 2012 11:25 PM

Oh ok, yeah he's a nice looking gray as well.  And congrats indeed on Jeranimo, nice price on him.  I'll start paying more attention to your picks.

Bad weekend of plays for me, hopefully I'll recover next weekend.  If not, I'll have to sell my Zenyatta $19 win ticket when she won her 19th race.  I'll put it up on eBay with a starting bid of $19,000.  I'll throw in a $20 win ticket from her next race as a bonus (can't Blame me for giving it away).

01 Jul 2012 11:48 PM
Mary Zinke

Okay, you "start" paying more attention(not offended, lol) and hopefully I'll figure out how to make more profit from my winning picks. Helps offset the losing ones. And you might as well make some $$ off of those Z tickets, JayJay. I know you have photos of them, so you will still have the mementos :)

02 Jul 2012 12:11 AM

Mary Zinke:

I don't have a personal blog.  Just respond for fun.

02 Jul 2012 1:47 AM

Great weekend for Azeri.

She has a winner at Churchill then Take Control wins the 8th at Hollywood on Saturday.

I was at Hollywood for the June 30th program, and I can honestly say I didn't touch Take Control with a ten foot pole.  I wanted nothing to do with him off a 2 and a half year layoff.

But I have to admit, I was impressed.  He didn't face any world beaters, but the runner-up ran very well, and yet Take Cotnrol went by him rather easily.  What I really like is that once he changed leads, Take Control was really extending that final sixteenth.  That's a big deal because some horses coming off injuries, like I Want Revenge, just never want to really extend themselves again.  I'm excited for Take Control's future, but of course I wonder what could have been; if he could do that off a 2.5 year layoff, what could he have done had he been able to progress naturally?

Where is Coldfacts?  That's now 3 quality runners to race for Azeri.  Maybe she is the exception, like Personal Ensign.  But isn't Azeri in Japan now?:(

02 Jul 2012 1:56 AM

Mary Zinke : LOL, as soon as I posted that I realized I did a "foot in the mouth" thingamajig.  I apologize, no offense meant.  There's a lot of folks that posts their picks and I can't follow all of them unless they're on a hot streak.  Okay, I'll stop now before I say anything else to make it worse lol.

I don't have photos of the tickets but I'll do that, going to frame the big program and the regular program with the 2 tickets and put it up.  I can't sell it, my dad will yell at me from his grave if I did that.

02 Jul 2012 3:26 AM
Mary Zinke

Gunbow, I know. lol.

02 Jul 2012 6:44 AM
Karen in Texas

Yes, Azeri is in Japan now.

02 Jul 2012 10:16 AM
Age of Reason

Gun Bow and all,

I have had one of my "sneaking suspicions" for months now that Shirreffs should try stretching Mr.Commons out to 9-10 furlongs at least once; I can not define exactly why, but I can't shake the feeling that a mile is just too short for him (the fact that he's never won a stakes without 6f in 1:10 flat or faster could seem to indicate that). I know these things probably get said about every stretch runner who comes up short, but in Mr. Commons' case do you think it's accurate? As far as Shirreffs and Smith go... I think Zenyatta forever ruined Mike Smith's ability to ride closers. Now, it's like he just thinks if he sets a horse down for the drive in any part of the course, they can get there without any tactical maneuvering or clever race-riding necessary. As for Shirreffs, there are two broad types of "great" racehorses: those who just need to be handled with patience and their talent allowed to develop on their own, and those who have "issues" and need a good bit of human intervention to get them straightened out. All of Shirreffs' good horses (Zenyatta, Giacomo and Tiago, Nereid, Morning Line, etc.) seem to fit in the former category, but I think sometimes he doesn't know what to do with the latter. This perception could be based on his handling of Mr. Commons himself, in which he pretty much sends the horse out every time to try the same old thing--without notable results, as of late. Do y'all think my pereptions are accurate?

02 Jul 2012 10:38 AM

If there was a futures-bet on the BCC this year I wouldn’t be afraid to throw $50 or $100 on Take Control.  There is something about this horse that exudes class.  As GunBow stated, he didn’t beat world beaters, (an optional claimer winner and maiden winners trying first level allowance), but they were fairly good quality allowance types at least.  The way he relaxed and allowed Rafael to rate him then accelerated when it came time to make his closing move was impressive.  He has a nice long stride.

The time of his race was possibly average at best until we look at the individual fractions and the over-all speed of the track.

The first two quarters were both sub 24 seconds and then the actual race time slowed considerably giving us a final 5/16ths in a slow 33.22 seconds, which given the track condition is probably expected in this class race.  However, early on Take Control relaxed and ran unhurried well off the pace, ala Zenyatta style; was 12 lengths behind after a quarter and only improved to 10 ¾ lengths behind at the ¾’s.  From there his final 5/16ths was run in 31.07 seconds.  His final 13/16ths (1/4 pole on) was a handy 79 seconds flat compared to the actual race time of 81.40 seconds.

Some will look at the very slow 4th quarter of 26.40 seconds, not impressive for sure, especially since the previous quarter was 24.58.  However, Take Control actually ran this quarter in 24.50 seconds (an improvement over the previous quarter) with a closing 16th of 6.57 seconds.  IMO this was an impressive victory for a horse that hasn’t raced since he was two and wasn’t trying to destroy his field, just win his race impressively.  The thing to remember also is that the track wasn’t all that fast either as proven by Camp Victory’s 112 Beyer (very high for synthetics) for a 7F race which was still 2 1/5 seconds off the track record.

The question now is has he gotten over his shin problems?   His work tab says he has as he has worked every week in distances from 4F to 6F for the past 12 weeks.  What type of runner will he be?  Well he did break his maiden at first asking in a mile race (not a sprint) suggesting that he will be a true router (something N/A needs in the breeding shed).  And with Bob Baffert as his trainer we all know that he will be pointed in the direction that best suits him, and if he is BCC worthy and remains healthy it is not out of the realm of possibility that he will point to that race with four months to build up to it.  The reality is, time is running out for an expensive well-bred yearling and he has to build his resume to maximize his enormous stud potential.

02 Jul 2012 4:41 PM

Age of Reason:

Stretching Mr. Commons out to 9 furlongs is something my fellow racegoers and I out here in California have repeatedly discussed.  

Sherriffs thought enough of Mr. Commons to try him in the 9 furlong Santa Anita Derby and then in the 9.5 furlong Preakness.  And those races were on dirt.

But after Mr. Commons won the Oceanside at a mile, it's been nothing but mile races.  He even skipped running against his age group in the Del Mar Derby at 9 furlongs to run in the Del Mar Mile against the older Caracortado.  And then instead of going the Oak Tree Derby(9 furlongs)-Hollywood Derby(10 furlongs) route against his age group, Sherriffs ran him in the Oak Tree Mile against Jeranimo(Jeranimo won with a 108 Beyer) and then the BC Mile.

Clearly Sherriffs believes Mr. Commons is best at a mile.  But maybe he is just a little off in this assessment?  

Personally, I think Mr. Commons is more of a grinder.  As you mentioned, in the instances when he won coming from far back he was given strong paces to run into.  And he didn't face a Jeranimo or Caracortado in those races. At the very least, I think he needs to be closer to the pace.  And siince longer races have slower paces, such a change in tactics would seem to take even less out of him at distances over a mile.

The big problem in terms of stretching Mr. Commons out is the lack of middle distance turf races on the schedule in SoCal.  The Eddie Read, a grade 1 at 9 furlongs, would seem a great spot but it's in 3 weeks, and I don't see Sherriffs wheeling him back in such a short time.  Additionally, the champion Acclamation and the quality Slim Shadey are pointing for that race.

After the Eddie Read, the stakes races are either at a mile or 10-11 furlongs.  And with the Breeder's Cup Mile being run over a surface Mr. Commons has scored 2 graded wins, I see him staying at a mile.  And we already know Sherriffs isn't big on shipping, so that's not really an option.

02 Jul 2012 7:23 PM


You are most correct that we can't hold Take Control's 145 and change time against him.  

I mentioned it earlier and you pointed to Camp Victory's 112 Beyer for a 122 and 3 time at 7 furlongs as evidence to how slow the track was playing.  Off hand, I can't remember a couple of days out here the last 3 years as slow as Hollywood was Friday and Saturday.  6 furlongs in 113, 7 furlongs in 127.

02 Jul 2012 7:26 PM
Age of Reason

Lazmannick and Gun Bow,

Very fascinating comments on Take Control...I thought he'd been retired until I caught a thread about his comeback on HRN. Any idea what his Beyer was, or if I can find a link to the race video?

02 Jul 2012 8:27 PM
Mary Zinke

AoR, Right here at Bloodhorse


or calracing replays for Take Control's win, race 8 at Betfair Hollywood Park on 6/30

02 Jul 2012 10:46 PM

Age of Reason

I’m trying to find a link for you to Take Control’s race.  The one thing about him being five and with only two races under his belt to this point is that at least we will get to see him as a five year old, this an age when we don’t get to see many of our stars anymore, and also an age when some horses really develop like Tizway did in his 5 and 6 year-old years (earlier in his career for whatever reason, he did not show his true potential).  If Take Control progresses like I hope he will, we might yet see a serious race horse which will add much needed depth to the handicap division.  As for his Beyer, we can probably get a lead on it later in the week.


It amazes me too how sometimes a track can be listed as fast and yet isn’t fast at all.  I know there are many reason for this, of course, especially for various synthetic tracks.  A good example of fast not necessarily being fast is in comparing the 2008 BC at S/A, and the 2009 BC also at S/A.  The Breeders Cup races on both cards were run on average approximately 1.75 seconds faster in 2008 compared to the same races in 2009, and both days the track was listed as fast.  This showed up in the Beyers also.  Raven’s Pas ran the BCC in 1.59.27 and received a 110 Beyer and Zenyatta ran the same race in 2.00.62 and received a 112 Beyer for a race approximately 1.35 seconds slower.

In the Triple Ben I would think that Camp Victory, with a normal fast track, not necessarily a lightning fast track, might have run the race at least about 1.5 seconds faster.  If this assessment would be accurate it would probably mean that Take Control would have run his race in the 1.43 and low change range, which would seem much more realistic for a horse of his stature.  In fact, Unstopper Topper, finishing 9th in this race actually won his last race, an 8.5F race on the Hollywood cushion track in 1.43 3/5.

02 Jul 2012 11:31 PM


I missed a closing paragraph in my last post and that is that this is one area when I believe that Beyers are extremely useful and that is in determining just how fast is a track when it is listed as fast.  I guess we can use the term dead track and I think that this terminology should be captured somewhere in each individual race’s analogy.

02 Jul 2012 11:39 PM

I will take a stab that Take Control's Beyer is somewhere in the low to mid 90s.

The key is that the 3rd place runner was beaten over 6 lengths, or 10 Beyer points.  If we assume the rest of the horses in this field ran in the low to mid 80s, then that puts Take Control in the 90-96 range.

03 Jul 2012 12:35 AM
Rusty Weisner


"Fast" is just the standard terminology and refers to weather conditions, not how "fast" the track is.  There's no "deep and tiring", for example, but there are "wet-fast", "sloppy", "muddy".

03 Jul 2012 12:25 PM


I get what you say about wet-fast and all that and that fast is a standard terminology for a fast track.  What I mean is that when you look at a form and see where two horses of equal class and ability are running against each other and one horse ran it’s last race at 6F in 1.11.4 and the other ran its last race at 6F in 1.13, and both tracks are labeled fast, it’s natural to assume (and many people do) that the horse with the 1.11.4 time actually ran a better race than the horse that ran 1.13.  The question really should be, did he?  On both days the track was listed as fast, but it’s possible that on one day the fast track really was fast (1.11.4) and the other day the fast track was dead (1.13).

I agree there are many factors that might contribute to how a track plays like weather, humidity, wind velocity, the harrowing of the track so that the dirt might be at a different depth, and the amount of moisture actually contained in it, etc., but the fact is that on certain days a track really is dead fast.  There is no notation of this in the PP’s and the only way to determine whether it is playing fast or slow is pay attention to the Beyer (abnormally high or low for a fast or slow race) or go back and review other races on the particular day a horse ran and see if its time was an anomaly or if the track was playing fast or slow that day.  

03 Jul 2012 1:49 PM
Age of Reason

Thanks for the link, Mary Z! As I was watching Take Control's race I also remembered to watch the 4th at Hollywood from 23 June (you can find it from the same page), in which Stanwyck--an Empire Maker 1/2 to Giacomo and Tiago--finished second at 6.5f. She ran with the same typical style of her two older brothers, coming from 16 lengths back at the second call to finish a good second (the announcer noted she "ran on nicely") for second, beaten 4 lenths while galloping out with the winner and well clear of the rest. It would be great to her and Eblouissante become major forces as they develop!

03 Jul 2012 1:52 PM

Laz :  I've seen those types of notations in Australia racing where the track's condition is listed in the program.  I'm not sure if it's the same thing but they use terms such as dead, slow etc.  Their programs shows each horses record in each type of the track.

03 Jul 2012 2:54 PM


I've seen that too for Australian racing but I've never seen it in a DRF PP.  I have seen it occaisionally on a race chart explanation and that's about it.  

03 Jul 2012 3:26 PM
Rusty Weisner


...Hence the invention of Beyer figures, which propose to account for all that.  I think everyone here knows they're not a substitute for handicapping, and are often misleading or wrong, but the concept of the "Beyer figure" is a pretty durable one, and some contributors here even devise their own.

03 Jul 2012 3:45 PM


Actually what I am saying about the differences in track surfaces even though they are labeled the same is probably the basic principle in Beyer’s speed par logic.  Trying to equalize all races so that they are run under the exact same conditions.

03 Jul 2012 3:55 PM

Hay Rusty  I guess I just agreed with you.

03 Jul 2012 4:08 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'm going to take a stab at the Belmont Pick4 tomorrow.  Anyone else?

03 Jul 2012 5:22 PM

Age of Reason

Take Control received a 99 Beyer for his race on Saturday.

03 Jul 2012 5:33 PM
Age of Reason

Thanks for the info, Laz! Not a bad number given the aforementioned dead track, plus the 2 1/2 year layoff, etc. Very little will surprise me from this horse throughout the rest of the year!

03 Jul 2012 6:19 PM

Rusty : I'm playing a lot of different track's P4 lol.  Took a quick look at Belmont and BHP, will probably play this.  Wrote it down already so I don't forget lol.  Used equibase for the lineup, looks to be the right program numbers.  Who do you like ?

Belmont Late .50 P4 ($9.00) :

I'm playing David Cohen on the 1st and 2nd leg, then closing my eyes and praying I get it right the last 2 legs.

7th : 5

8th : 1, 4, 8

9th : 3,11

10th : 6,11,12

BHP Late .50 P4 ($16.00) :

Liking Baffert's 2nd horse here at 5-1 to beat the heavy favorite.  I'll most likely have a separate ticket on Baffert's other horse.  Race 7 is very intriguing to me, lots of potential upsetter here.  I'm specially intrigued by All Squared Away (of course, 2nd longest shot in the field hehe).  I'll probably play a P4 singling Bejarano in the 1st leg and this horse in the 3rd leg and have 3 or 4 in the other two legs.

5th : 2,5

6th : 2,5

7th : 1,5

8th : 8,2,1,7

03 Jul 2012 7:04 PM

Age of Reason

My pleasure.  A pretty good number for a horse that is essentially a frist time starter.

03 Jul 2012 10:52 PM

Pete : any thoughts on the big day of racing tomorrow ?

04 Jul 2012 2:59 AM
Mary Zinke

I'd like the Hollendorfer colts to run 1-2, so here's my completely biased Swaps picks: 1,6,5,7.

If the Poker remains on turf and it's yielding: 1,9,4,8.

04 Jul 2012 3:22 AM

Take Control's  99 Beyer validated what I saw.

Take Control's race and the Triple Bend are cases in which Beyer speed figures are very useful.  

A cursory analysis of both races, using final time as the key variable, would suggest neither Take Control nor Camp Victory ran that well.  1:22 and 3 for Camp Victory does not appear to be elite, and Take Control's 145 and change is about 2 seconds slower than Potesta ran last weekend and a second slower than what John Scott(97 Beyer) ran 2 days before.

But what those final times don't tell you is that the surface changed noticeably from Thursday afternoon to Friday night; for whatever reason, the Cushion Track started producing extremely slow times Firday night, and this continued on into Saturday afternoon.

By taking into account the track variant(or basically the variance in the speed/deadness of the track), Beyer speed figures in these cases are illuminating.  Contrary to the final times, the Beyers indicate that Camp Victory ran one of the fastest synth sprint races ever and that Take Control has the ability to jump right into grade 3 level stakes.

04 Jul 2012 5:42 AM
Rusty Weisner


I'm going to single Right One in the 9th, based on class, what he showed last year at G1, and the fact that it's second back.  He and Leparoux should have a better chance in this 10-horse field than last out in a short field, and the 5 and the 8 will hopefully heat up the pace.  The 1 will get first jump, but it's been running against that same bunch of NY horses over and over again and I'm going to cross my fingers that the 9 catches him and the others.  The others I wouldn't throw out if I weren't singling are 3, 10, and (long odds) 2.

I have a suspicion they'll take the last race off the turf if there's a downpour during the day.  

Anyway, in the 7th I don't like the 5; I don't generally like horses to repeat at this weak level -- except the 6, which really dominated last out.  The 4, 6, 8 are my picks, with 4 (jockey, stretchout, slight class drop, lightly raced) at attractive odds.  I don't consider 1, 7, 9 throwouts but don't think I can afford to take them.

In the 8th will take 1 (whichever one), 2,5 (longshot off what I'll take a "workout" turf route), 7.  Don't like the 4 here (will not repeat what he did last time) or 8 (seems to prefer turf to dirt).  Like 2 best off turf-dirt switch, claim by new trainer.

In 10th I was tempted to single 6, but too iffy off layoff.  I think the 11 is beatable, while I don't like 12 because of the post.  I like 5 as a longshot; showed something last time out of 10 post.  Same for 9.  

Probable picks:

R7: 4,6,8

R8: 1,2,5,7

R9: 9

R10: 5,6,9,10,11

I don't bet multiple tracks anymore.  The adrenaline is not worth the money.  I used to play Saratoga and Monmouth all summer.  I did really well at the former, but poorly at the latter.  And vice-versa.  

Good luck!

04 Jul 2012 8:42 AM
Mary Zinke

Poker, after scratches: 1,9,7,2 If it goes off turf, forget it, but I might be stuck w/these.

04 Jul 2012 12:43 PM

.50 Cent Pick $ at Belmont:

7th – 1,2,4

8th – 1,8,10

9th – 1,4,7,9

10th- 1,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12

Total $162.  If some one wanted to book this they would get a guaranteed $162.

Good Luck All!!

04 Jul 2012 12:57 PM
Rusty Weisner

I don't like the 9 as much in the Poker after those scratches.  I still won't bet the 5, the lone speed now, but I think the 1's chances are better now.

04 Jul 2012 1:08 PM
Mary Zinke

Congratulations to anyone who had the speed as their win pick in the Swaps. I added him in the my p3, but very disappointed that my duo was not getting a dead-heat photo made. I wound up not playing Belmont.

04 Jul 2012 10:09 PM

I hit the late .50 P4 at BHP and won a whopping $53!!!!  Now I can get a full tank of gas :(

I swear, I think someone at Belmont monitors the bets I make and makes sure it doesn't win.  Belmont's P4 is hardest one for me to hit to the point where it's really getting frustrating...  I'm gonna boycott it tomorrow and try again on Friday lol.

05 Jul 2012 12:26 AM
Rusty Weisner


You handicapped the 8th race well.  I got schooled on that, relearning a lesson I had learned, and forgot, years ago: don't take three year olds in this type of claiming race.

They should call this blog "Unlocking my bank account".

05 Jul 2012 11:21 AM

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