Weekend handicapping 7-20 to 7-23

We taped That Handicapping Show this morning, and I went with Finnegans Wake in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby (Race 9 at Colonial Downs, Saturday, 8:38 ET).

He is appealing beyond the "other Romans" angle (Dale Romans also trains favorite Silver Max, a winner of five in a row). Finnegans Wake is by Powerscourt, a multiple Group 1 winner going 1 1/4 miles. He has a good turn of foot and the patterns-of-motion of a stayer.

Finnegans Wake also has been improving. He followed up his wide fourth-pace finish behind Silver Max in the 1 /16-mile American Turf (G2) with a great looking win in a NW1 allowance going 1 1/8 miles. Finnegans Wake ran his final three furlongs in 34-flat that day.

His opposition includes stablemate Silver Max, a dominant winner of five in a row, and Summer Front, who is a perfect 4-for-4 on turf. Those are two very nice three-year-old turf colts, but Silver Max doesn't hold much backand this is his first try beyond 8.5 furlongs. Summer Front is by War Front, an exciting new sire who is consistently producing sprinters and milers. I am willing to take a gamble against them with Finnegans Wake (10-1 ML odds) at 1 1/4 miles.

Other races of interest this weekend include the Delaware Handicap (G2), where Royal Delta will face Awesome Maria in a battle to see who is the top older filly or mare in the country. I love Royal Delta but doubt she will go off at bettable odds. Regardless, this race is not to be missed (Delaware Race 10, 5:45 ET).

I am about to dig into the rest of the Saturday action. I'll leave this blog up all weekend for questions, picks etc...Good luck!


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The Virginia Derby looks like alot fun, racing at its best, can't wait to see what happens! I'll go with Summer Front, love the way he has been handled by Clement, and believe he thinks he can win this race, along with Finnegans Wake, who I believe will take advantage of the pace. The pace, probably to be set by Silver Max who I believe will be softened up by Optimizer setting this up for my two choices. Good luck to all, this should be a good one.

19 Jul 2012 6:14 PM
Pete Denk

Optimizer is an interesting horse. He ran well on turf in his first two career starts, including his only win.

Then, following a good third on Polytrack in the Breeders' Futurity, he ran on dirt 9 straight times!?

He's been beaten down pretty badly, and his development as a racehorse definitely has stalled. I expect the turf will wake him up and might get him going in the right direction again, but I want to see where he's at before I get on board.

19 Jul 2012 7:58 PM
Mary Zinke

R.I.P., Mr.Martin.

Marvin: Jackson Bend,Caixa,Crossbow

Schuylerville: Sweet Shirley Mae, So Many Ways, Can't Explain

CCAO: In Lingerie, Zo Impressive, Yara

Del Cap: Royal Delta

Awesome Maria, Pachattack

Read: Acclamation

Slim Shadey, Interaction

Now more risky. Virginia Derby: Lucky Chappy, Summer Front, Silver Max

19 Jul 2012 10:36 PM

Del Mar tomorrow :

1st :   1, 3, 5 trifecta box

6th :   1, 8, 3 trifecta box

My Saturday P4 plays - $40 investment, if I can get past the 1st leg, I think I have a good shot of a good payout.  The good thing is, if my singles lose the 1st leg, I don't have to go through the grueling 3 other legs lol.

Saratoga late .50 P4 : $10.00

08th :  2

09th :  1, 6

10th :  2, 6

11th :  6, 8, 11, 3,  12

Delaware Park late .50 P4 : $18.00

05th :  7, 2

06th :  7, 3, 5

07th :  8, 4

08th :  5, 7, 3

Colonial Downs late .50 P4 :   $12.00

08th :  2

09th :  2, 5, 8, 4

10th :  1, 3

11th :  4, 8, 7

Good luck to all playing this weekend!

20 Jul 2012 12:26 AM
Mary Zinke

Didn't you want to single Hey Soul Sister, JayJay?  I had her as a hunch pick two races ago, but I guess that's a very popular song with the way her odds dropped.

20 Jul 2012 1:24 AM

Acclamation in the Eddie Read.  Probably the best turf horse on this continent.  Have not seen a "late bloomer" like this since Lava Man with Acclamation taking just 2 of his first 17 races! It certainly is a racing feel good story.  

20 Jul 2012 2:15 AM

Mary : Yeah, I wanted to but I'm also trying to get a shot in there.  The last two legs I think are going to be heavy favorites.  Like your risky pick with chappy btw.  Good luck!

20 Jul 2012 4:03 AM

Pete, there is a very good reason for Optimizers terrible schedule and the way he was handled. D W L. Dont get me started....


VA DERBY: Summer Front

DEL CAP: Tiz MiZ Sue

CCAO: Funny Proposition

Willard Straight: Great Mills

Sanford: Onetwentyeight/Handsome Jack

Eddie Read: Casino Host

lets get some prices home. I cant wait for saratoga today. Remember, Who's Your Daddy??

20 Jul 2012 8:47 AM

Friday I'm doing a "show" parlay at Saratoga.  Starting with $10 on race 1.  Rolling it all over, starting with a new $10 on the next race if I lose.

1) 4

2) 3

3) 5

4) 5

5) 5

6) 4

7) 10

skipping race 8

9) 5

10) 5

As you can see, 5 seems to be my number today.  

20 Jul 2012 9:42 AM
Pete Denk

Kev, I got another 5 for you.

I like #5 Jitney in Race 2 at Saratoga today. Rosario had a lot of horse in the stretch and was weaving through a 22-2 final quarter. Should stretch out.

20 Jul 2012 12:12 PM

Wow; after 3 races can't even get a horse to show.

20 Jul 2012 2:32 PM

Pete, Jitney beat the horse I liked, Jitney was 7th, I think Quien es mi papa was 8th... Turrible.  Nice show money on the clemente horse in r 2 though. Had Lignite in r3, did not bet the 4th

20 Jul 2012 2:57 PM
Pete Denk

Yeah Jitney did not fire. He stumbled slightly at the start, got good position, then faded in traffic. Horse he beat last time finished second.

That was an impressive run frmo Pletcher firster Kauai Katie in Race 5. Left a trail of smoke behind her.

20 Jul 2012 3:22 PM

yeah, she was impressive. was she on lasix?

20 Jul 2012 4:21 PM

If Jackson Bend loses this 8th race, I'm gonna quit playing today lol.

Late P3, playing $2 with single in the first 2 legs and throwing bombs on the last leg for a $14 bet :




20 Jul 2012 4:55 PM

Man, that's a FAST horse, that 5.    I'm done with Saratoga lol.  

Taking a break until Del Mar.

20 Jul 2012 5:00 PM
Mary Zinke

Kevin, did you go ahead and bet the 5 in Saratoga's 8th?  That ended what was supposed to be my beautiful p3. Started of w/the exacta in the 7th.

20 Jul 2012 5:28 PM

HOly cow, my handicapping was AWFUL today.  I got 1 show horse out of 9 races (I didn't bet the 8th).  

20 Jul 2012 7:59 PM
Mary Zinke

Del Mar race 8: 1

I might take a chance w/Two Months Rent in the Virginia Derby. Is Summer Front officially out of that race?

20 Jul 2012 9:15 PM

O.K. here we go again!

I'm sick of this and I don't understand why trainers don't just fess up and state the real reason they pull their horses from the Va Derby with the excuse of the weather. I first saw this happen a few years ago when Nick Zito blamed the Virginia summer heat as a reason to divert his entry to Saratoga. Sick of it!  Why don't they man up and just say that they want the horse at the "spa" early?!

Quit blaming the VA weather in the summer.  It's ALWAYS hot and humid at the time of the VA Derby in July,...Duh!  I am fast losing respect for trainers who use the weather excuse. Just speak the truth and leave the weather factor out of it. It's happened again this year with the "chance of showers" threat on derby day.

Summer Front is headed to Saratoga

to get there and acclamate early....plain and simple.

Do the trainers think the VA Derby loyalists like myself are stupid??!!!   And by the way,...horse can run in the rain....it's called a "sloppy track."  Since the weather in July at Colonial Downs is predictable...can the trainers school themselves on consistent summer weather patterns and STOP entering the horses only to withdraw them in favor of  summer's last hurrah at the "spa??"

20 Jul 2012 9:30 PM

Aleine : Is it possible that there's nothing to fess up and the trainer truly believes it's the best for the horse ?  From what you just posted, sounds like this is only the 2nd time it has happened.   If the trainer doesn't like Summer Front's chances in that weather, I actually appreciate him taking him out as I probably would've played him and lose lol.

Had to bail out early, it wasn't a good day to start with at Del Mar, saving my funds for tomorrow's big races.

20 Jul 2012 11:35 PM

My late Pick 4 for saratoga:  

8) 7, 11, 13

9) 2, 7

10) 4, 6

11) 3, 6, 11, 12

Can't be as bad as yesterday....right?  

21 Jul 2012 9:48 AM
Pete Denk

The Summer Front connections are dodging, plain and simple.

21 Jul 2012 10:15 AM

Played two other Pick 3s at Saratoga:

Race 1) 4, 5/3, 6, 9/1, 5, 6

Race 4) 2, 8, 11/2, 11, 13/4, 5, 11

Also have WPS on the 2 in the 5th.

21 Jul 2012 10:36 AM
Pete Denk

A horse that I am interested in playing, but did not include in my Saturday Smart Plays analysis, is #11 Colonel Bill in Race 8 at Saratoga. NY bettors might let this Midwest Thoroughbreds/Brad Cox claim go off at a decent price. 5-1 on the morning line works for me.

21 Jul 2012 11:08 AM


Are you kidding about Summer Front's connection dodging? He's the best 3YO colt on turf and would be in receipt of 4lbs from Silver Max. In his absence I'll go for Lucky Chappy.

Royal Delta will be tough to beat at 10 Furlongs but Awesome Maria can be quite awesome on her best day and I'm giving her the edge here ...a good race in the offing.

21 Jul 2012 1:59 PM
Pete Denk


If Summer Front is the best American 3yo colt on turf, and would be getting 4 pounds, why is he skipping the $600,000 race in favor of the $100,000 race?

Obviously the connections didn't like their chances.

21 Jul 2012 3:15 PM
Pete Denk

3 Sir Sydney looks like value in Saratoga Race 6. 15 mtp and he's 10-1. Showed some talent two back in debut. Freshened for this.

21 Jul 2012 3:22 PM
Pete Denk

11 Colonel Bill walked out of gate in Saratoga R8. Closed for 2nd, might have been the best. At least got place money...$7.20

21 Jul 2012 4:50 PM

No ...this isn't the first time a great horse for the turf surface has been "diverted" to Saratoga.

Happens every summer and I just don't get it.  O.K. Saratoga is a great track...but hey I like to see a great race at my local track too. Maybe a trainer or two will take note that fans are watching them.  I remember the chat around the track that day when the most recent horse in my memory was diverted to Saratoga. It took the wind out of the sails of many race fans that day at Colonial. I just want the trainers to be truthful and STOP blaming the weather. Geez! Should we run the VA Derby on April Fool's Day rather than the heat of a Virginia summer? I remember when Pat Day rode Senor Swinger at Colonial.  I was stunned that Saratoga didn't have a siren call for that Ky Derby run horse that year.  Downhill ever since,...... keeping an eye on those dodgey trainers.  Apparently late July is cause for trainers to be clueless about mid-Atlantic weather. It's about 80 degrees today on Derby day.

21 Jul 2012 4:51 PM

Hit the Pick 3 starting in Race 4 ($183).  Had the 8 who had the lead until the last jump at 7-1 odds in the 4th; wonder how much it would have paid then.

21 Jul 2012 5:12 PM

And have the first 2 legs down in the late Pick 4.  Alive to the 4,6 and 3, 6, 11, 12.  

Obviously the 1 and 5 scare me the most in the 10th race.  

21 Jul 2012 5:24 PM
Pete Denk

Late double at Saratoga bailed me out big time. Questing with 3,4. The 4,Cozy App, dropping out of NY-bred MSW into open MCL gets up at 13-1 in the nightcap.

21 Jul 2012 7:32 PM
Pete Denk

Locksmith Smart Plays Analysis also rallying late, with our Las Vegas based handicapper James Zygmunt nailing $20 winner Shadow Runner in Race 5.

That's the third "fresh" horse (out-of-state runner) that won first-time for a SoCal trainer in the last two days at Del Mar, all at prices. (O'Neill, Sadler, Machowsky)

21 Jul 2012 7:35 PM
Pete Denk

Finnegan's Wake, bet down to 7/2, made a big run at his stablemate Silver Max but couldn't get by. Finnegan finished 3rd, passed by runner-up Lucky Chappy late. The top three ran creditably.

Oddsboard was screwy with all sorts of horses taking money. Silver Max was 7-5 for much of the wagering. He went off at 4-5. Probably fair odds!

Optimizer was bet to 4-1, and finished 4th.

J. Pimentel on Two Months Rent made a ???? 'memorable' mid-race move at Silver Max. Ha.

I hope to close out the pick 4 along these lines: 1,3,5,7 -with- 2,3,5,7,8.

I prefer the 3 Old Troubador here in race 10. He is a second-time starter who took up, made two bursts in the debut. 3-1

21 Jul 2012 8:58 PM
Mary Zinke

The saddle slipped on Two Months Rent, so that explains my $2 loss. My two big favorites won, so I'm very happy about Royal Delta and Acclamation.  Who's playing the Del Mar p 6 tomorrow?  Or Saratoga?

21 Jul 2012 10:40 PM

I'm playing the P6 tomorrow - i managed to salvage some of my loses in the late P4 at Cal Expo.  Taking it back to see if I can hit the P6.

Mary / Pete : Any singles in the P6 you can share ?

21 Jul 2012 11:14 PM

I"ve never played a pick 6; except for the GP Rainbow (.10 minimum).  But may give it a go tomorrow.

21 Jul 2012 11:34 PM
Mary Zinke

I'll have to have three singles, JayJay.  I try to only spend $16, lol. They'll be up later.

22 Jul 2012 12:49 AM
By a long nose

Pete I hope you have a day job because handicapping doesnt seem to be your thing.

22 Jul 2012 1:13 AM
By a long nose

About the only thing your unlocking is your atm card...

22 Jul 2012 1:17 AM

Mary : Hehe, I'll take 3 singles.  You almost had the VA Derby,chappy was a tad late.   I welcome your suggestion.

By a long nose : Are you KY Vet ?  Sounds like it, he likes to "educate" bloggers but can't post their pick because they have no idea what they're doing.  Let's see you post some winners.

22 Jul 2012 1:54 AM
Mary Zinke

Del Mar $16 p6 ticket:


22 Jul 2012 4:50 AM
Pete Denk

Long Nose-

I was having a fairly rough day yesterday before I hit the late double at Saratoga pretty well. It paid $186 for $2.

Cozy App, the 13-1 winner of the last, was dropping from statebred MSW into maiden claimers. Her form fit the profile I wrote about last week in my column about finding value in maiden claiming races by de-emphasizing finishing position and final time speed figures in favor of well-meant class drops.

I also piggy-backed on my friend and Las Vegas handicapper James Zygmunt's selection of Shadow Runner in Del Mar 5. Shadow Runner  paid $20 to win, and was one of the selections on our weekly Saturday Locksmith Analysis. That comes out on Fridays.

It's not so easy picking winners 24 hours in advance, but James and I have been doing a pretty good job of finding value. (Note that the daily free locksmith analysis is provided by BRIS. James and I do not contribute to the daily free picks)

If you continue to take shots without any substance to your criticism, I will delete your comments.

I encourage you to contribute your handicapping theories and selections.

22 Jul 2012 12:32 PM

Pete, ignore him. I enjoy your insight.  What do you like at Saratoga today?  Haven't decided on my bets yet but like the following horses

1) 5

2) 6

3) 5

4) 6, 8

5) 5, 11

6) 3

7) 7

8) 6

9) 3, 5

10) 9

22 Jul 2012 12:45 PM
Pete Denk

Summer Front just won rather impressively going a mile on turf in the listed stake at Saratoga.

As previously mentioned, he scratched out of the Va Derby.

22 Jul 2012 1:37 PM

I had 6/1/4,7/3, 4, 7 in the Super.  Almost.  

22 Jul 2012 1:40 PM
Pete Denk


In Saratoga 8 I see u r going with Ladywell Court. I liked her maiden win too. She can win, but I'd be a little concerned with the 7-week gap between the win and the next work. And this is a good field.

My pick is 2 Strike Accord, who has taken a nice step forward on the turf at age 3. Her last race was her first vs. winners and was a very nice effort. Fast final time and 23-flat final quarter. I think she has enough early speed to take advantage of the inside post, and her late speed is very steady. Good horse.

The other one i like is 5 Reach for a Peach, who should improve second off the layoff for Chad Brown. She got an unenthusiastic ride from AE Smith last time and gets Ramon D today. My only concern with her is that it can be difficult to close from way back on this course. But this is a filly to watch in the NY-bred ranks. She has a very nice distance profile and good herd dynamic.

22 Jul 2012 2:01 PM

No closers today at Saratoga on the main track.  

22 Jul 2012 2:42 PM
Pete Denk

In the Sanford, I think the Calder shipper Brave Dave warrants a look at a price. Was looking at the fractions on the card, and he was very fast to the 4f mark (45-1) and had a good final time.

There were a pair of 2yo stakes later on the card, and they hit the 4f mark in 46-1 and 46-2. Hmmmm....

22 Jul 2012 3:09 PM

Not betting Saratoga Pick 6 but it would be

1, 11


2, 6, 8

2, 5, 6

3, 5


22 Jul 2012 3:12 PM
Pete Denk

Will play the Saratoga Late Pick 4 as follows:






Plus I'll bet Brave Dave to finish 1st or 2nd in the Sanford.

22 Jul 2012 3:25 PM

Saratoga Late P4 :





Delmar P6 :







The first 2 legs are a freakin' nightmare to me.  I wanted to get the 10 in the first leg as well but it's getting too expensive.  Race 8 is not easy either, I want to put the 1 horse in my ticket as well.  Oh well, you can't bet them all.

Good luck to everyone playing today!

22 Jul 2012 3:49 PM

Pete : I think your Sanford picks in the P4 is the superfecta play - box the 4 horses for .50 cent ($12.00 investment).  The only horse I can see ruining it is the 1 horse, I never ignore Ward's 2 YOs.

22 Jul 2012 3:52 PM

Matt on TVG is on fire at Saratoga.  He picked the 8 in the 8th.  I"ve been ignoring him most of the day, lets see if this comes back to bite me (AGAIN).  

22 Jul 2012 4:53 PM

Pete, thanks for the hint on the #5 in the 8th.  I put him in my Pick 4 and am still alive.  My 6 ran well too though.  

22 Jul 2012 5:00 PM
Pete Denk

Great ride by Dominguez to get Reach for a Peach going in the clear in Saratoga 8.

I like this filly a lot. Will look to bet her back on next step up the class ladder.

22 Jul 2012 5:00 PM

Alive to the 14 in the Saratogo Pick 4.

22 Jul 2012 5:34 PM
Pete Denk

Good luck Kev.

Brave Dave looked dangerous for a while but kinda blew the turn.

22 Jul 2012 5:38 PM

I hate that.  Looked strong at the top of the stretch and flattened out after going 8 wide.  Got my heart beating though.  

22 Jul 2012 6:08 PM
Pete Denk

Was a good run Kev. The powerful combo of Rudy Rodriguez off the claim and Ramon Dominguez beat u.

22 Jul 2012 6:23 PM

So far, I'm 3 out of 4 on my P6 ticket.  My picks did NOT hit the board on 3 out of the first 4 legs.  I'd be 4 for 4 if Peacenik had only faded.  I'd be really pissed if my picks don't hit the board on the last 2 legs and Peacenik ruins my perfect ticket.

22 Jul 2012 8:33 PM
Mary Zinke

In that p6, winners in race 5 and 8, favs. My other sure things didn't work out(didn't hit the board), except for Norvsky, more chalk, in the California Dreamin'. Just wait 'til the next carryover though. LOL

22 Jul 2012 9:45 PM

Wow -- I guess those two crosses of Roberto and three of Princequillo contributed some trickle-down stamina to Silver Max.

Write out 100 times: speed and lack of stamina are not the same thing.

22 Jul 2012 10:11 PM


VA DERBY: Summer Front (re-route, won)

DEL CAP: Tiz MiZ Sue (2nd by Nose)

CCAO: Funny Proposition (5th?)

Willard Straight: Great Mills (scratch)

Sanford: Onetwentyeight/Handsome Jack (2nd and third, Fav won)

Eddie Read: Casino Host (3rd)

not too bad, I cashed in almost all of the races with WPS show bets of 20 across.... the chalk won all of the races except questing...

23 Jul 2012 10:03 AM

O.K.,...Summer Front won at Saratoga this weekend, I saw the race. Remember the reason "given" for the switch to Saratoga:Rain predicted at Colonial. (whining)

The rain held off and it was just under 80 degrees that evening at Colonial.  So...great watching Silver Max win but hey fans were deprived of watching Silver Max and Summer Front in the same race, same surface by switching tracks. And the purse was bigger at Colonial. So much for the trainer's wisdom. Let's do a match race.

23 Jul 2012 11:19 AM
Pete Denk


Hopefully we can see Silver Max vs Summer Front in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park on August 18.

23 Jul 2012 12:02 PM
Mary Zinke

Hey, wait, B.E., what happened to Royal Delta's neck win? lol.

23 Jul 2012 1:35 PM

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