TimeformUS Weekend Plays: The Amsterdam and the Bing Crosby

Sunday Update:

Sunday Saratoga, Race 10, 5:45 pm ET
The G2 Amsterdam, Three-Year-Olds, 6 Furlongs, Dirt

Betting Strategy:  Bet Salutos Amigos to win and key him in an exacta with Declan's Warrior, Forty Tales, and Mentor Cane

The old racing axiom "Pace makes the race" is evident when one studies the results of the Woody Stephens Stakes, which was won from 13 lengths off of the lead by Forty Tales. Meanwhile, Declan's Warrior rallied from deep in the pack to finish second and complete a $97 exacta payout.  

We would love to take a strong position against both Forty Tales and Declan's Warrior today in the six-and-one-half-furlong Amsterdam, as they are the 2/1 morning line favorite and the 5/2 second choice and will now get more credit from bettors than they deserve--due to their recent success.

However, the TimeformUS Pace Projector indicates that both Forty Tales and Declan's Moon will again benefit from a very fast pace in front of them, just not one to the extreme of last time. So instead of tossing these two favorites completely, we will reluctantly use them in exotics.

Asterdam Pace Projector

The exciting and intriguing Mentor Cane is our final exotic use. He was second in his debut, losing to a promising Bob Baffert colt named Flashback after setting an early pace that returned an unbelievably high pace figure. Interestingly, his normally patient and cautious trainer, John Shirreffs, decided to stretch Mentor Cane out in distance to a two-turn route next out. Mentor Cane absolutely ran off around the first turn, posting a 22 1/5 opening quarter mile while fighting his rider and running with his mouth open. He earned another blistering pace figure, but folded up sharply late to finish a distant third.

Mentor Cane was laid off for 189 days after that debacle, before returning in style with a sensationally easy maiden win that earned him a 108 speed figure. Shirreffs is again demonstrating uncharacteristic aggressiveness by stepping this horse up in class to Grade 2 Stakes company off of a maiden win just three weeks ago.

Salutos Amigos was most recently victimized by the gut-wrenching Woody Stephens pace and ran much better than he will get credit for, considering he was beaten only eight lengths despite being eased up at the 1/16th pole. He will benefit from the slight cutback in distance and is much closer in ability to the two favorites than the odds will suggest. Interestingly, Salutos Amigos ran a field-best 116 speed figure when he dusted subsequent stakes winner Zee Bros in his final sprint try in California. Simply put, we think he is flying under the radar and is the best betting option from a value standpoint.

Free TimeformUS PP's for the Amsterdam

Monmouth Park, Race 13, 6:18 pm ET
The G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 and 1/8 Miles, Dirt

Like so many editions of the Haskell, this one is fascinating because of its potential to give us answers to questions that were never answered satisfactorily during the Triple Crown chase. For example: Did Vyjack disappoint in the Derby and Belmont because he was compromised by biases and race shapes, or was he simply overmatched? Is Golden Soul the horse we saw in the Derby, or is he the horse his backers wish they had never seen in the Belmont? And best of all: What is one to make of Verrazano, who promised so much in the winter and spring, only to disappoint so many on the first Saturday in May?
We have no such questions about Oxbow. Oxbow is Oxbow, a horse who followed up on his Preakness upset by running a gallant race in the Belmont and now cuts back to nine furlongs after receiving a short rest every second of which he richly deserved.
According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Verrazano projects to get a clear early lead in this race. Moreover, the race is projected to be run in a manner that is conducive to the chances of frontrunners. For a horse sporting three speed figures of 114 (numbers his competition has not matched), that is a hearty combination. Combine this with Todd Pletcher's TimeformUS trainer ratings in the relevant categories and there is quite a bit to like here. Unfortunately, his likely odds are not quite so likeable, but Verrazano is our selection.

As far as exotic wagers are concerned, in addition to respecting the obvious, low-odds contenders, we give Vyjack a chance to get involved late and get into the trifecta at a price. 

Del Mar, Race 8, 8:42 pm ET
The G1 Bing Crosby, Three-and-Up, 6 Furlongs, Polytrack

The Bing Crosby has attracted a field of six accomplished horses who will be racing six furlongs over a Del Mar surface that has been strongly favoring early speed in sprints. Most riders--and the trainers who give them instructions--are usually aware of strong biases, of course. Indeed, sometimes they are too aware of them. For an example of this, and its counterbalancing effects, watch a replay of the 9th race run at Del Mar yesterday. In its mass charge out of the starting gate, it had the look of the World War 1 movie "Gallipoli." In any event, players are encouraged to monitor the Del Mar Polytrack today and see how it's playing.
The TimeformUS Pace Projector indicates that Coach Bob and the iron horse Comma to the Top will be competing for the early lead today. The feeling here is that Comma to the Top will put Coach Bob away later in the race. Then it becomes a question of whether he (with a possible assist from the racetrack) will have enough left to hold off the closers. Comma to the Top is as game an animal as we have seen in quite some time. He always fires his shot. He always runs solid speed figures (his last three are 113, 117, and 112). His trainer, Pete Miller, has been hot at Del Mar and is a noted speed trainer who rings up frontrunning victories at an impressive rate and is always alert to anything that affects the chances of frontrunners. As is so often the case, Comma to the Top is a strong contender today, and the toteboard will reflect that.
 At a bit of a price (5-1 on the morning line), Majestic City looks like a decent candidate to pull off an upset. He is fresh off a powerful speed figure of 118, earned at Hollywood Park, and has trained very well over today's surface. He will be making his third start off the layoff for top trainer Ron Ellis.

 Majestic City



Saturday Saratoga, Race 9, 5:12 pm ET
The G1 Diana, Fillies and Mares, Three-and-Up, 1 and 1/8 Miles, Turf

The Grade 1 Diana drew just six horses, three of which are trained by Chad Brown. This morning's scratch of Dayatthespa reduced the field to just five runners. Laughing (12/1 morning line) is going to be the longest shot on the board, but she earned a fantastic 110 speed figure in her four-year-old debut, while winning off a 245-day layoff. Today, she goes second off of the layoff for trainer Alan Goldberg, who has a very good trainer rating with second-off-the-layoff types.


More importantly, Laughing will benefit from the general lack of pace in this race. This is a lightly raced and cautiously handled five-year-old mare who may very well be much improved this season. Yes, Laughing lacks the class credentials of her rivals, but her last race makes her highly competitive and she has a big shot to step forward and pull off an upset in the Diana.

Free TimeformUS PP's for the Diana

Saturday Del Mar, Race 8, 8:42 pm ET 
The G2 San Diego Handicap, Three-and-Up, One and 1/16 Miles, Polytrack

Today marks Paynter's much-anticipated return to stakes competition following a serious illness and a recovery that was quite rousing enough in its earliest stages, became something of a different magnitude when he stepped into the starting gate for an allowance race in June, and became something different still when he promptly ran away from his competition so gracefully that it was as if he were seeking to mock the illnesses that had kept him away.

Paynter PPs

But they say that one is supposed to keep one's emotions out of one's handicapping. Let's see if we can pull that off.

Will Paynter win this race? He figures to have competition for the early lead from Batti Man and possibly Chief Havoc. That's a negative. Two of his opponents, Kettle Corn and Clubhouse Ride, have recently run speed figures that are fast enough to challenge Paynter if he is not at his absolute best today, and these two opponents also figure to benefit if a speed duel emerges. That's another negative. Chief Havoc has a trainer, Pete Miller, who has been winning nearly every race in sight at this meeting. That's another negative. Liaison, like Paynter, is trained by Bob Baffert, who wins graded stakes by the boatload. That's another negative.

So there are plenty of reasons to think that Paynter might find himself on the wrong end of an upset in this race. But one thing is for sure: If he continues to progress as he has been progressing, all of his competition is running for second place.

Free TimeformUS PP's for the San Diego H.

Saturday Saratoga, Race 5, 3:03 pm ET
The G1 Prioress, Fillies, Three-Years-Old, 6 Furlongs, Dirt

The Prioress Stakes is a rare opportunity for three-year-old-filly sprinters to compete in a Grade 1, and the only such opportunity at six furlongs.   A field of seven entered, including the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, So Many Ways.  She took the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga last summer as a two-year-old.

The expected heavy favorite is Kauai Katie from the barn of Todd Pletcher.  While her 103 is the top Spotlight Figure in the field, there is some cause for concern.   She has never won a race from farther back than second position early, and never from more than one-and-one-half lengths behind.  However, this is probably the quickest field early she has ever faced. The Pace Projector predicts her to be fourth early. Then there is the fact that she has never raced in a race with fractions considered fast (coded in red), while two of her wins were earned with the benefit of slow fractions (coded in blue).  Another cause for concern is her last three speed figures: 101, 101, and 103.  None comes close to her career best of 114, or even matches her 105 maiden score as a two-year-old.


So the question is which horse is worth taking a shot with against the likely odds-on favorite?  Only one other horse has recorded a triple-digit speed figure, and that is Ju Ju Eyeballs in her last race.  She appears to be improving rapidly for red-hot trainer Jason Servis since he claimed her for a mere 15k in December at Gulfstream. She has reeled off five wins in a row, all by open lengths, while steadily moving up the class ladder.  She wins on turf or dirt, and taking her off the pace has really helped make her a better runner. More importantly, she should get plenty of pace to run into in this spot and is a juicy 12-1 on the morning line.

Selections:  #3 Ju Ju Eyeballs   #7 Kauai Katie   #4 Lighthouse Bay

Friday Del Mar, Race 7, 10 pm ET
The G3 Cougar II Handicap, Three-and-Up, One and 1/2 Miles, Polytrack

This race brings together an interesting field to run at the infrequently run distance of 12 furlongs. It contains a nice mixture of sharp horses stepping up in class and horses dropping in class after suffering the misfortune of encountering Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).

Now let's pause for a second to discuss two distinctive features of TimeformUS:

Pace Projector: This is an exhaustively tested device that projects the position each horse will be in after the opening quarter-mile of sprint races and the opening half-mile of route races. This is a notoriously difficult task, to be sure, and for that reason, no claims of infallibility—or anything approaching it—will be coming from here. After all, the Pace Projector is at the mercy of rider strategy, trainer instructions, trouble at the start of races, and a number of other things that can make the best-laid plans come to nothing. However, after seeing the Pace Projector over a massive sample of races, we are very pleased with the results, and we hope you will be too.

Speed figures that are adjusted for pace: Every North American speed figure appearing in TimeformUS has been adjusted for the effect of the pace on the horse's final time. This, too, is a process commonly thought to be fraught with peril, and we have no disagreement with that view either. But we have come to prefer this approach over the alternative: namely, speed figures that are at the mercy of the effect of the pace on the horse's final time.

With that out of the way, let's get to a short discussion of the Cougar field:

The Pace Projector shows Blueskiesnrainbows with a big early lead. Unfortunately (since he will be a very big price), he has been a bit off form lately, and has reportedly been training poorly. We are reluctantly going to dismiss him.

Cougar II Pace Projector

The morning line favorite, at 5-2, is Kettle Corn, and he would be a deserving favorite off of his ultra-game second-place finish to Game on Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup, an effort that earned a terrific speed figure of 125, but he is considered likely to scratch out of this spot in favor of a race later this weekend.

That will probably leave Bob Baffert's Sky Kingdom as the favorite. Sky Kingdom owns a victory at this distance, and, leaving aside an abortive turf try, has seen his speed figures improve steadily over his last several races, culminating in the 118 he ran in the Hollywood Gold Cup after stalking the pace set by Game On Dude. A 118 is a very strong number in a race like this, and Sky Kingdom is a strong contender.

The horse who interests us at a bit of a price is Craig Dollase's Oilisblackgold, who also exits the Hollywood Gold Cup and is proven at this distance and on this surface. He is fresh off a speed figure of 115, and if he gets the expected ground-saving trip from his favorable post position, he could pull a mild upset (or at least get into the exacta). Free TimeformUS PP's for Cougar II



Leave a Comment:

Mary Zinke

Cougar II: Richard's Kid will still be running when others are dog-tired from the distance. He loves Del Mar, and would be no surprise if he wins, despite his rather horrible last many races. I think they've really been trying to get Blueskies to settle down and have something left at the end. Blinkers off, turf work a few works ago, could get an uncontested early lead, but 12 f is a huge test. As you all know, I'd like to see The Big Guy win. 11,7,3,4.

KY, the new one--running on the 28th?  Or do I have to start all over again? I know, old guy on 28th, but I mean the latest addition.

26 Jul 2013 5:49 PM

mary...horse #1 sunday....horse #2 at fair in 2 weeks.....look for same trainer..........

26 Jul 2013 7:09 PM

Cougar 11: Going to try a 1,4,6,10 exacta box and also a win on each one of these.

26 Jul 2013 8:19 PM

Cougar 11: Going to try a 1,4,6,10 exacta box and also a win on each one of these.

26 Jul 2013 8:19 PM
Mary Zinke

San Diego Handicap: Paynter, wire, Liaison, Kettle Corn, Clubhouse Ride.

27 Jul 2013 4:15 AM
Mary Zinke

Prioress: Katie, Wildcat Lily, So Many Ways, Irish Lute.

27 Jul 2013 5:22 AM
Pedigree Ann

It's Cougar II, not Cougar 11. Don't they inflict Roman numerals on kids these days? <grin> You need them to read film and book copyright dates up until the 1960s (I think), after all. MCMXXXIV anyone?

What really hacks me off is that TVG did all sorts of background on the horses running, but not a single mention or picture of the horse the race was named after - My Own True Love, His Felinity, The Great Chilean. The only thing I prefer about HGTV is that they DO mention these things and show footage when available.

Good analysis, Mary Z. As B-squared said in an interview, they stay or they don't and so many of today's horses don't have it in them to stay. Actually, though, some of them might stay who wouldn't be expected to, but we'll never know because they aren't tried much beyond 9f. Unless they are eligible to run in those series of starter allowances for low level claimers, of course.

27 Jul 2013 12:03 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Mary -

Brilliant work on the Friday feature.

27 Jul 2013 1:09 PM
Mary Zinke

Thought about the place horse, Sky Kingdom, but thought he might have just liked 12f, dirt. Discussed him elsewhere--can't just wind up picking the whole field, though. Thanks, Phil.

27 Jul 2013 1:56 PM
Mary Zinke

Pedigree Ann, I really wished Blueskies had hung on. He almost did, but I liked what I saw from him yesterday. I complimented The Bug Guy on the training. Blueskies had been the Dude's workmate, so to get him to settle down, as he had shown he could do in Santa Anita races earlier this year, was an accomplishment. You've heard of Ea?  He's rather a fan favorite. Runs in those long distance lower-level races, but I wonder if he might step up. He was a graded stakes horse several years ago. 9 years old now.

27 Jul 2013 2:04 PM
Mary Zinke

Prioress and San Diego top picks are super chalk, so here are two that shouldn't be the post time favorites:

Diana Stakes, Dream Peace, also like Samitar, but really nice though small field. None would be a huge surprise to win or place.

Jim Dandy, I'll take a shot with this order: Code West, Mylute, Palace Malice, Bashaar. If Vyjack is in this, then I'd use him to place or show, but I'll keep my win pick the same.

27 Jul 2013 2:16 PM

Diana Stakes: #4 Laughing,#3 Dayatthespa. Now with Dayatthespa scratched, will use the #4. W/P.

27 Jul 2013 3:05 PM

Anyone else think a contested pace in the Haskell will set it up for Micromanage.  

27 Jul 2013 6:44 PM
Mary Zinke

Nice $15+ winner, derbygal.

I'm hoping Verrazano doesn't even notice anyone else, Kevin.   But. I'll think about which will come in second.

27 Jul 2013 8:44 PM
Rusty Weisner

Here's the Haskell card (Haskell 13th of 14) for those who like multi-race wagers:

rolling 50-cent P3's all day

P4 R6-9

P5 R8-12

P4 R10-13

I see singles in R6 (Joyful Victory) and R11 (Glamour Puss).  Take Charge Indy is in the 9th; don't know yet whether to single or try to beat him with Hymn Book & Norman A.  

I like D'Wildcard & Timeless Indy in the 7th, Moonstake in the 8th.

I'm all ears for an interesting pick in any of races 6-14.

27 Jul 2013 9:20 PM
Rusty Weisner

After Palace Malice there go any lingering reservations about singling Oxbow today.

28 Jul 2013 8:24 AM
Rusty Weisner

I didn't play much when Curlin was running.  Did his style resemble Palace Malice's?  Palace Malice is my dream horse in terms of style.  He's quick out of the gate and all he has to do is latch onto the leader.

28 Jul 2013 8:45 AM
Rusty Weisner

Intermittent heavy t-storms at Monmouth today.

28 Jul 2013 8:50 AM

Thank You Mary.

Rusty, Like Oxbow, on a  dry fast track but if rains today like they are forcasting, not real sure about Oxbow.

28 Jul 2013 8:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

...but mixed with sun, so maybe just ordinary summer weather, hopefully.

28 Jul 2013 9:05 AM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Haskell

Upgrade - Oxbow

Downgrade - Verrazano

28 Jul 2013 9:12 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Concur on D'Wildcard - that was an Extreme Race for Speed on 6/28 at CD

28 Jul 2013 9:15 AM
Rusty Weisner

Long day ahead.

I'll try the early P4 at Mth R2-5:

3,6/1,2,5/3/1,2,3,4,5,8 = $18

P4 R6-9:

6/3,7/1,4,6,8,9,11/2,4,5 = $18

P4 R10-13:

3,4,5,7,8,10/1/1,5,8/5 = $9

Those tickets are cheap.  Could go wider where I'm already wide.

I might play the P5 but unsure whether to single TCI in R9 (which would make a $63 ticket) or to try to beat him (which would multiply that).  I will probably single him and Glamour Puss in R11 and try to beat him in the R6-9 P4 that overlaps with the P5.

Good luck to all.

28 Jul 2013 9:59 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

re: D'Wildcard. Thanks.  Excellent.  I'm all in on that one, then.  Gives me a cheap P4 so I can go a little wider in the other races.

I'd be interested in your opinion of TCI.  He had no chance setting the pace against Fort Larned (115 Beyer) so by itself I don't hold the race against him (I upgrade him), but do you think the 109 took something out of him?  I don't have any informed opinion of form cycles.  This is the race I don't have settled yet.

re: Oxbow.  Amen.  The pace in the Belmont really was that fast.

28 Jul 2013 10:05 AM
Rusty Weisner


Wet, dry:  Oxbow ran a monster race in the Derby.

28 Jul 2013 10:07 AM
Rusty Weisner


re: Micromanage.

Sure, but I'm not trying that angle.  I think he's just too far behind (that last race was strange, don't know if he was trying to avoid clipping heels).  My other consideration is that it seems people are always making some newcomer in the Haskell an underlay, when the race generally comes up chalky:  the only non-TCI horses to win the Haskell in the past 12 years have been Coil and Roman Ruler, and Coil just had to reel in the sprinter Shackleford, while if I'm not mistaken Roman Ruler ran in a very weak field.  So for me, I'll buckle down and ignore the hope that Micromanage "picks up the pieces"; seems too pat to me, and it didn't work for me yesterday when I put Mylute under PM.  But I've been wrong before.

I'd like your opinion on the Monmouth Cup if you will grace me with it.

28 Jul 2013 10:16 AM
Rusty Weisner

To heck with it.  I think I'm going to hit "ALL" in the TCI race on my P4.  There are some speedy horses I was discounting but maybe one gets lucky.  I can afford to not try to get cute.  I can single him in a P3 or the P5.  

28 Jul 2013 10:25 AM
Rusty Weisner


Micromanage got 91 and 92 last two times; he won the weaker race.

I think Oxbow capable of a 110 at this distance.  I may eat my words but it's just money (my late P4 is cheap anyway).

28 Jul 2013 10:28 AM
Plod Boy Phil

re: TCI

'Just a horse' today.

He is a horse that we had very high hopes for as a two year old following his better than looks efforts in the Arlington and Brdrs Futurity in 2011.  While he was slow in producing the goods,  he's since become one of the more productive horses of that crop.

All I'll say regarding his chances today is that this is a very soft G2 event, especially from an early pace perspective.

28 Jul 2013 10:30 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Thanks.  I would have thought there's some pace here with Big Sur and Pants on Fire, as well as Ponzi Scheme; but I often get bit trying to predict pace.  Napravnik if off TCI, replaced by Stevens and on this one, by the way.  Anyone have an opinion on that?

I'll probably play it the way I said, single TCI in P5 and greedily grasp for money trying to beat him with anything in the P4.

28 Jul 2013 10:51 AM
Rusty Weisner

First post in an hour at Monmouth.  They certainly take their sweet time posting the scratches and changes.

28 Jul 2013 10:52 AM
Rusty Weisner

I was looking at equibase -- monmouthpark.com has them up.

28 Jul 2013 10:53 AM

Rusty - Hoping to have the Haskell preview up soon. If you're interested, we just added a preview for the Amsterdam. It's up at the top of this post.

Chris @ Timeformus

28 Jul 2013 10:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

I actually got two grandstand mezzanine tickets to the Haskell but couldn't make it this weekend.  I'll be in a simo joint all day.

28 Jul 2013 11:02 AM

Rusty Weisner;

Before Take Charge Indy was confirmed as a starter for the Monmouth Cup, Rosie Napravnik had committed to ride Mark Valeski, who ended up not being entered. That's why Gary Stevens got the mount.

28 Jul 2013 12:07 PM

Rusty, I think its Take Charge Indy in a romp in the Monmouth Cup.  

That being said, my only bet today is Saratoga Race 8) Colorme Kitten the #3.  All I didn't "lose" yesterday spread WPS on that one.  10-1 morning line.  Just hoping it doesn't come off the turf.

28 Jul 2013 12:43 PM
Plod Boy Phil


I'll be looking to blow up the board in the 8th with Rosie My Way (20-1) who exits an upgraded chasing effort behind the w-w winner of an Extreme Race for Speed last out and closed along with the impressive 'vs Plod Winner' Run Dubb Dubb on May 30.

28 Jul 2013 12:59 PM
Monarchos Matt

Re: Oxbow- I wouldn't be worried at all about Oxbow on a wet track Derbygal. If my memory serves me correctly he had the highest Wet Track Tomlinson Fig in the entire field heading into the Derby, and he ran one of the very best races of all that day, right on the scalding pace and still 6th at the wire.

Rusty, the thing about Palace Malice that most reminds me of Curlin is his form cycle. Both were late foals who had not even come close to peaking on Derby Day, and then continued to get better through the summer and into the fall. I suppose that remains to be seen with Palace Malice, but if yesterday's performance was any indication of his trajectory than he is going to be very tough going forward to say the least. His 1:47.3 was the second fastest in the 50 runnings of the Jim Dandy...has anyone seen a premilinary Beyer for that?

I ended up staying away from the Diana after Dayatthespa scratched, but was right to pick lone speed, just didn't have the same faith in Laughing that I had in Dayatthespa. Perplexing flop from Centre Court, she was too close to the pace I suppose.

I'm expecting another big one from Oxbow today. It will be interesting to see how much of a fight Verrazano puts up. One thing is for sure, he won't have any excuses today.

28 Jul 2013 1:28 PM

I'm surprised more people aren't mentioning Power Broker in the Haskell. Given that Bob Baffert has won the race three years in a row, I would have thought Baffert's quest for a fourth consecutive victory would draw a lot of attention.

I believe that Power Broker is capable of pulling off an upset this afternoon. His victory in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont was accomplished by maintaining a strong pace from start to finish. He ran his first half-mile in :46.71, his next half-mile in :48.71, and his final sixteenth in :06.13, en route to a final time of 1:41.55. And let's not forget that the runner-up was Micromanage.

Another reason to like Power Broker is that he has shown he can rate just off the lead, which he did with great success in last year's FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I). Should Oxbow and Verrazano get involved in a speed duel, I envision Power Broker settling just behind them and running by them both in the stretch.

Now, as fond as I am of Oxbow, I fear he may find himself in a very tricky pace situation today. I am fairly confident that if Oxbow and Verrazano wind up in a duel for the lead, Oxbow will be the last one standing -- but it may leave him vulnerable to stalkers and closers like Power Broker or Micromanage. On the other hand, if Oxbow and Verrazano both settle down nicely and romp through an easy opening half-mile, I'm not sure that Oxbow has the acceleration to stay with Verrazano in the final three furlongs. Remember, Verrazano ran the final five-sixteenths of the Pegasus Stakes in :29.05, a fraction almost unheard of on dirt.

So I believe that, in order to win the Haskell, Oxbow is going to have to find a very fine line between running too fast and running too slow -- fast enough to sap Verrazano's finishing kick, but slow enough to have something left for the stretch run -- or else hope that both Power Broker and Verrazano join him for a sub-:46 opening half mile, which would probably subdue them both and leave Oxbow alone to fend off Micromanage, Golden Soul, etc. in the final furlong.


28 Jul 2013 2:04 PM

Monarchos Matt;

The preliminary Beyer speed figure for Palace Malice is a 107.

28 Jul 2013 2:17 PM
Little Bill

The Oceanport is an interesting field. I like Hobbs. His numbers don't add up but the pace might go his way. Silver Max might get covered up today. Should be interesting to see how he handles it.

28 Jul 2013 3:49 PM

Close finish in the 8th at Saratoga.  Colorme Kitten ran the race I expected but couldn't seem to stay on stride down the stretch, kept going side to side running into other horses.  But I'll take 3d.  

28 Jul 2013 4:50 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Your horse ran well - good play.

28 Jul 2013 5:30 PM
Little Bill


28 Jul 2013 5:40 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Fugue -

Live by the sword,  live by the sword.  Nice 9f dirt work at Prairie Meadows for max.

28 Jul 2013 6:04 PM
Monarchos Matt

Verrazano= Whoa

28 Jul 2013 6:25 PM

I tip my hat to those who loved Verrazano today. WOW that was a Tour de Force......is there room on the wagon........lol

28 Jul 2013 6:25 PM

Verrazano!!! money for jam in the Haskel!!!  Now bring on Orb and Palace Malice for the Travers.

Wins in the Travers, Woodward and Breeder's Cup could challenge the mighty Wise Dan for HOTY.

Go Verrazano, Go Johnny V & Todd P.

28 Jul 2013 6:29 PM

Very impressive for Verrazano.  

Sets up for an exciting 2d half of year with the 3 year olds.    

28 Jul 2013 6:46 PM
Little Bill

Phil, true and,true. Zano ran as expected, and some, impressive.

Travers- Not only will his price put me off of him for the win, I think there are better 1 1/4 prospects.

28 Jul 2013 6:47 PM


Please come out of hiding my friend. In touting Power Broker to defeat Verrazano in the Haskel, in the previous blog you said "Pulpit against More Than Ready is not a fair fight".  I decided to withold my answer until after the Haskel in order to score by knockout (now that both you and Pulpit have taken the count to ten the fight is over). Not only did Verrazano trample Power broker and company in a romp, as I predicted, once again the stallion More Than Ready has outdone A P Indy's prolific son Pulpit (Please don't forget that Verrazano's less distinguished older half sibling is Pulpit's son El Padrino). More Than Ready is an underrated sire in the USA. I hope that Vrrazano helps to rectify that situation because he not only throws speed horses but has produced good middle distance runners in Australia.

28 Jul 2013 8:54 PM
Mary Zinke

Verrazano !

Why was he a downgrade, Phil? I was afraid to ask before the race. I thought the answer might make me sad.

Better luck next time, XX.  Way fast opening fractions again; hard track?

28 Jul 2013 10:07 PM
Mary Zinke

Verrazano !

Why was he a downgrade, Phil? I was afraid to ask before the race. I thought the answer might make me sad.

Better luck next time, XX.  Way fast opening fractions again; hard track?

28 Jul 2013 10:07 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Hip hip hooray for the $4.20 winner of the Haskell.  

28 Jul 2013 10:26 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Mary -

His win in the Pegasus was as easy as it gets in terms of early pace to final time. I'm neither surprised nor spellbound by the win.  You know I play this game at least four days a week, 52 weeks a year, so the race held little meaning to me.  Happy you won.

28 Jul 2013 10:34 PM
Plod Boy Phil

The last race winner at Del Mar, Horizontalyspeakin ($15.00), was posted here when scratched on July 12th.

Another of my recent scratched posts (there's been just two in the last five weeks) ran back today at GP.  She finished 3rd at 6-1, but will retain bold status for obvious reasons.  Site visitors can read about her tomorrow.

28 Jul 2013 10:41 PM
Mary Zinke

I'm so spellbound that I'm thinking of a ski resort and making fork marks in a white linen tablecloth.  

29 Jul 2013 1:42 AM


"Please come out of hiding my friend"

My learned colleague the Haskell was contested on Sunday. I just read your post. There is no need for me to hide.

Congratulations are in order for Verrazano and his supporters. PB was very disappointing. I was of the opinion he was a better colt. If he got so badly beaten in 1:50.68, he is just about G2 standard at best.

In evaluating Verrazano’s performance one must again question your assertion that he is the best colt in the US. The 2013 renewal of the Haskell represented the 46th time the race had been contested at 9F. The 1:50.68 recorded by Verrazano represents the 2nd slowest renewal for the distance. Only Delta Flag’s 1:53.20 is worst.

You will no doubt allude to his easy victory as the reason and infer that he was under very little urging but that is not what I saw. He has not broken 1:50 in two attempts at the distance. Was the track slow? Probably but not that slow that a wonder horse  considered the best of his peers couldn’t breaks 1:50.

I am familiar with term ‘Love is blind’ and your eyes seem to be covered with love for this colt. One can be in love but not blinded by a refusal to see.

“More Than Ready is an underrated”

Underrated on dirt but highly regarded on turf.  Pulpit’s son Ice Box was an unfortunate looser of the Derby. When was the last time a MTR horse hit the board in the Derby? His wonder colt Verrazano stoped in the Derby like he was hit by a Sniper. Verrazano defeat of PB is not a reflection that MTR is a better stallion than the recently departed Pulpit.

29 Jul 2013 8:55 AM
Rusty Weisner

Had an ignominious day and lost $300.  Nothing worse than losing early in a P4 sequence and piling good money after bad.  I'm done for the summer except maybe a single bet on the Travers.

Verazzano beat an injured Oxbow (Gary Stevens a jinx yesterday) and an otherwise weak field.  It was one of the slowest runnings ever (maybe the oppressive weather made the track heavy or something and I'll wait for better analysis, but still).  I will eat crow for any of my other picks, but not this one.

Plod Boy Phil:  Come on, I served it up to you on a silver platter with that question to you about Take Charge Indy.  I had a funny feeling about that horse.

29 Jul 2013 9:25 AM
Rusty Weisner

Verrazano to the Travers.  Excellent.

Verrazano beat a lame competitor and a weak field.  I'll be against him.  And the other thing:  the question mark of pedigree still hangs unresolved over Verrazano, where it doesn’t over Palace Malice, and they’ll be running 10f.  I can envision them dueling down the stretch with Verrazano yielding late and other(s) (maybe Orb?) picking up second and even third money.  I'll be willing to bet Palace Malice yet again as long as he's splitting the money with someone.

29 Jul 2013 9:39 AM
Plod Boy Phil


Your instincts were right on TCI.  He did look a bit anxious in the parade, which is not his MO.

Oxbow was not lame, just a tired horse. I'm expecting very little from Orb when he returns.

29 Jul 2013 9:55 AM
Rusty Weisner

Looking at the Molly Pitcher and the Monmouth Cup the times looked pretty slow generally, so Verrazano's Beyer should be good.  

29 Jul 2013 9:57 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Actually, the DRF coverage today says Oxbow had a bad ankle and that the ambulance was called.

In my question I had your prediction about Itsmyluckyday fresh in mind in looking at TCI yesterday.  So you helped me avoid sinking money into a supposed sure thing.

29 Jul 2013 10:05 AM
Plod Boy Phil

I stand corrected on Oxbow.  Perhaps a result of the wear and tear of a ridiculously heavy campaign this spring.

The fact that TCI was a 4yo had me less convinced of the impact the big fig would have on him.  That said,  handicappers may be best served to allow a personal fair odds line dictate their stance on any horse they have doubts about. If the odds are short, take a negative stance.  If the odds are high, take a shot. That said,  it's easier to pass questionable events for those involved on a regular basis than it is for the once a weekend player.

29 Jul 2013 10:25 AM
Monarchos Matt

Preliminary Beyers:

Verrazano 116

Palace Malice 107

Obviously both very impressive. I agree with many here that Verrazano remains suspect at 10f and continues to feast on fields that are weaker than advertised...but it would be hard to deny that he is an improving colt. The same can be said about PM. Should be a great Travers, although it looks like my boy Oxbow might not be coming for that now.

Sorry to hear that your day didn't go so well Rusty. I'm still in watch and learn mode with my two big summer betting weekends (Arlington Million card, Travers Day) still ahead of me... I wouldn't have cashed a single ticket this weekend either. It was a frustrating combination of seemingly beatable chalk winners and upsets that I didn't see coming.

29 Jul 2013 10:26 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I'll buy that Beyer for Verrazano.  It's how the race "looked", and the very, very slow times generally can be explained, I'd guess, by that oppressively humid weather.

All the same, if you want to take a stab against him in the Travers, it makes it all the better.  And remember Dreaming of Julia's 114? Or Quality Road's 112 or something?

Does Nick Zito have any candidates for the Travers this year?

29 Jul 2013 10:47 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Saratoga Race 3

6 Mahna (9/2) - finished impressively behind the up-close winner of a Speed favoring Flow in her last.

29 Jul 2013 10:48 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Thanks for elaborating on that point, i.e., distinction between 3yo and 4yo.  I will file that away.  Here's why he was suspect: he had a prior history of injury (2012 Derby).

29 Jul 2013 10:49 AM
Rusty Weisner


I admire your monomaniacal self-assurance.  Being monomaniacally self-assured myself, I admire that quality in others.  It's essential to playing this game.

29 Jul 2013 10:51 AM
Rusty Weisner

Quality Road is really the one I'll keep in mind going into the Travers.  I'll cross my fingers and hope it's not his distance.

29 Jul 2013 10:55 AM
Rusty Weisner

Any horses with "Bird" in their name running in the Travers?

29 Jul 2013 11:09 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Do you honestly believe that on his best day QR was incapable of winning at 10f ?  Watch one of his best races and tell me he comes to a screeching halt if having to run another 12 seconds.

Same can be said of Verrazano or any other that has impressed at 9f.  Form cycle is the driving factor,  not the extra panel.

29 Jul 2013 11:18 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

I missed your post regarding QRs big pre-Travers effort.  That gives me reason to believe you 'get it' regarding the impact of form cycle over imaginary distance limitations.

29 Jul 2013 11:42 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Either way, it's grounds for me to take a stand against V.  So much the better if V is coming off an enormous Beyer, right?

My only memory of Quality Road is that Travers, so that's coloring my conclusions.  Bring him up will probably renew arguments among people here.

That said, my answer is yes:  there's a big difference between 9f and 10f, particularly for 3yos.  That's the way I'm going to play it.  That Birdstone beat Smarty Jones at 12f was to me obviously a question of pedigree (you'll probably say it was pace).  At the shorter 10f it's perhaps less apparent that Summer Bird beat Quality Road becuase of pedigree, but, like I say, that's the way I plan to play it.  Another recent Travers comes to mind:  Nick Zito entered three in the 2011 running:  I think all three were pure closers with distance pedigrees.  He just missed with Fly Down but it was my impression from that days races that the track was biased for speed.  Anyway, Zito seems to feel he can steal these races with this type when he thinks other 3yos are maybe pushing the distance envelope.  I will look for someone's pedigreed dark horse to steal it from others pressing the distance envelope (I don't think PM is pushing that envelope).

So, while I always appreciate your expertise (no sarcasm) I've never seen you make comments about pedigree and I don't think it's a factor you weigh much from what I see.  I will be waiting for comments on that factor from others.

I don't like Orb, either, by the way.  He had no excuse in the Belmont.  Since I always seem to play Palace Malice/Orb I may find room for him underneath, but I'm really looking for someone else in the exacta, and someone else to maybe take the whole prize from PM, who I don't expect to play worse than second.  I'll be curious what you have to say about his form cycle, though I think the apparent leap from a 98 Beyer to a 107 is deceptive, given the freakish pace of the Belmont.

29 Jul 2013 11:55 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

The form cycle and questions of pedigree are not mutually exclusive, right?  

Optimally, if I want to bet against a horse like Quality Road or Verrazano, I want both factors to go against the horse.

29 Jul 2013 12:01 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Every year pedigree pundits use Derby also-rans to support their theory, yet few, if any, are anywhere near contention at the 1/8 pole on Derby Day. This year has a long list:  PM, NI, Oxbow, Verrazano, Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday.  All the failures were blamed on pedigree,  when the reality is that form cycles had most of these off their best. Runners such as NI, PM, and Oxbow had pace excuses,  with two of them returning to run big races at 9.5f and 12f.  

True there are sprinters that have distance limits,  but to think that horses dominant at 9f can't get 10f at their best is outside the bounds of common sense.

29 Jul 2013 12:08 PM
Plod Boy Phil

The best race Smarty Jones ever ran was the Belmont - I had little respect for the horse until then.  Running 12f while disposing of one challenger after the next before finally succumbing in the final stages is far different than the notion of an imaginary wall at the 1/8 pole in the Derby.

If someone is willing to provide me a list of 10 runners in the last 10 years that won a 9f prep then was 3rd or better at the 1/8 pole of the Derby before finishing worst than 3rd,  I'll consider changing my tune.

29 Jul 2013 12:14 PM
Rusty Weisner

Mary Zinke,

I'll congratulate you on Verrazano, though I'm cranky about Oxbow being sidelined, but I'll congratulate you more on that pick of Richard's Kid up above.

29 Jul 2013 12:22 PM
Plod Boy Phil

I realized the criteria I set forth is unfair.  So I offer this to anyone who desires to do the study:

Provide a list of 3yos that either won or finished 2nd in a 9f prep, then was 3rd or better at the 1/8th pole before finishing worse than 3rd,  and/or a list of those runners that won an 8.5f prep by two or more lengths then was 3rd or better at the 1/8 pole of the Derby before finishing worse than 3rd.  From those lists,  how many were 'pedigree challenged'?

Since Brisnet has free charts through 1991 and there's a while between now and next years' Derby,  this should be a manageable task.

That's all for me on the topic.

I need to get in a swim and some sun before the Saratoga Monday card gets rolling.

29 Jul 2013 12:31 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

re: pedigree excuses:

"This year has a long list:  PM, NI, Oxbow, Verrazano, Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday."

This list is just flat wrong.  The consensus before the Derby was that Palace Malice and Oxbow both had excellent pedigrees for the Derby.  Revolutionary and Golden Sould were also considered to have very good pedigrees.  That's not my opinion.  That's the consensus I gleaned from many pundits (including some here) about these horses' pedigrees.  For example, Monarchos Matt pointed to Oxbow's Tomlinson figures as the highest for the race and he bore that out.  

The ones who were, by consensus, suspect:  Goldencents, Vyjack, Itsmyluckday.  Normandy Invasion and Verrazano were somewhat suspect, too.  

Mylute was the only one with a suspect pedigree who showed.

I'm not saying that pedigree was a bigger factor than pace in the Derby (in fact I think the opposite is true).  I'm just saying that the pedigree predictions weren't wrong about anything this year and even predicted performances correctly to some degree (for example, Oxbow and PM bested all the ones with suspect pedigrees who were near them on the pace).

We're not going to agree.  I will heavily weigh opinions on pedigree in the Derby next year again.  Hopefully my gamble on pace won't be wrong again.

29 Jul 2013 12:36 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

All right.  I will do my homework assignment.

Good luck today.

29 Jul 2013 12:38 PM
Rusty Weisner

The criteria are a little arbitrary.  

How about 8f winners who lost the lead after the 1/8 pole in the Derby?

Lion Heart and Hard Spun, right off the top off my head.  Lion Heart was "suspect", but I frankly don't know what the pedigree consensus was on Hard Spun.

Or how about 8f winners or 2nds who lost more than 40 lengths after the 1/2 pole?  Several horses fit that description this year.  Or even just 10 or 15 lengths.

I mean, we could devise different criteria.

29 Jul 2013 1:01 PM
Rusty Weisner

Others with suspect pedigrees:  Falling Sky, Frac Daddy.  Questionable: Overanalyze, who made up no ground despite being well off the pace.

29 Jul 2013 1:04 PM

Rusty Weisner,

Quality Road could have won at either 10F or 12F if he were in the hands of a great trainer. There are some trainers who know how to prepare horses with stamina limitation pedigrees to carry their speed over extended distances. Sadly Mr. Pletcher is not one those trainers.

As for Verrazano, I have never been impressed with him the way others have been. Horses that hide from top class competition and the defeat suspect fields are 'Hide & Lick' exponents. He avoided Orb in the FL Derby for the easier Wood Memorial. When the two met, Orb won and he was off the board. He avoided that Preakness and Belmont and won the Haskell by a wide margin and is now being hailed as the top 3YO. Crap!

Orb like Verrazano carried a 4 race win streak into the Derby. Verrazano flopped and Orb won. No of the other colts/geldings in the top ranks have won 5 consecutive races of which 3 were graded. Orb has defeated better horses than both Place Malice and Verrazano. He appear to have tailed off after the Derby.

He uses a lot of energy to run as he is not the most fluent of movers. You will note he takes a lot of riding. With his galloping style he needs more than 14 days after a 10F race. The timing of the Preakness was not in his favor and this knocked him out for the Belmont.  He has been freshened by the better of the two trainers and will be the Orb of old in the Travers.

29 Jul 2013 1:08 PM
Rusty Weisner

Duh.  Normandy Invasion.

29 Jul 2013 1:49 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Do as you please.  My point is two fold:

1) There is no solid evidence supporting the notion of horses that win at 9f being somehow incapable of 10f on their best day.  Stopping dramatically in the Derby from a non-competitive spot can just as easily be attributed to jocks not persevering.

2) Don't believe things just because the information has been handed down from generation to generation.  Many are unsupported by empirical data,  yet live on as truth.  We have a list of such items that have turned to dust upon sound statistical study.


29 Jul 2013 2:00 PM
Rusty Weisner

Duh.  Shackleford.

29 Jul 2013 2:15 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

I'm not trying to get you to change your mind, much less change your (winning) ways.

Just thinking out loud, making a case for a factor I will weight heavily on occasion, and bringing up the subject for others.

I'll still wait for your take on form of the contenders for the Travers when the time approaches.

29 Jul 2013 2:25 PM
Plod Boy Phil

No problem Rusty.

The Derby is simply one race during a year in which I will review PPs for more than 12,000 races. Our Derby history is not great,  but our Preakness and Belmont record is excellent.  The bottom line is a winner is a winner is a winner and a $4.20 horse is just a $4.20 horse.

29 Jul 2013 2:29 PM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Saratoga R3

Another example of how overcoming the randomness of chaos in a single event is far more difficult that overcoming it in the long run.

29 Jul 2013 2:34 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

I appreciate that.  The Derby and Breeder's Cups are now my white whales and half my yearly gambling budget go towards them, and I'm  tilting towards more towards the Derby because 3-yo races are my strength...

...which leaves me with a lot of time and thread to kill, huh?

29 Jul 2013 2:43 PM
Plod Boy Phil

and lots of time to do relevant research...

29 Jul 2013 2:48 PM
Pedigree Ann

Phil -

It may not make sense to you, but I have been watching this sport better than 40 years with pedigrees in mind and I can tell you that the gulf between milers and stayers in this country on dirt is between 9f and 10f; in Europe on turf, it is between 10f and 12f. It takes a super-miler, ,like Dr. Fager or Precisionist, to carry his/her form to 10f over horses of similar merit.

Now if the horse has a class edge over the field, or backs up the pace to a trot, sure the good miler can win at 10f - miler Olden Times (won 9f San Anonio S) won the San Juan Capistrano (*14f) because The Shoe put the other jocks to sleep!

Oh, and whoever mentioned it? Pulpit is a miler sire, not a staying sire. Ice Box's dam was turf marathoner, 10-12f SW. The sire is not always the dominant element in a mating. Like with Pulpit's dam, a sprinter/miler.

29 Jul 2013 3:10 PM


I read your post 29 Jul 2013 1:08 PM addressed to Rusty, again touting Orb as the best 3YO colt. I wouldn't argue with you about Orb's record so far because he's obviously a very good colt.  However you continue to knock the super talented Verrazano based upon his poor performance in the Derby while excusing Orb's dull performances in the Preakness and Belmont.

Verrazano did not race as a 2YO and was attempting to beat the dreaded "Apollo curse" on only his 5th start in the Derby.  He ran into a sloppy tack and crazy fractions and came out of that race bruised up but has bounced back tremendously with the freshening that his astute trainer administered yet you can't appreciate his obvious class?  Give credit where it is due my friend. This son of More Than Ready is going to light up the remainder of the racing season.

Apart from Orb, a line has to be drawn through the performances of all the other top contestants in the Derby due to the slop and set-up of the race for out and out closers. Orb has a lot to prove in the Travers. Don't forget that his Florida Derby performance was "right sized" (so as not to say dwarfed) by Dreamin of Julia's performance on the same day at Gulfstream Park. I'm simply saying that he's never convincingly been the top 3YO of this crop, so tread carefully even with the cold facts ...and take some Beyer figures into your calculations. You compare race times without considering the track conditions but the Beyer Speed figures for Verrazano will tell a different story.

Please note that I touted Verrazano as the best 3YO colt in America BEFORE the running of the Haskel ...go back and read my posts on the previous blog. While I have a healthy respect for Orb and Palace Malice, Verrazano has the aura of a true crackerjack colt. You seem to think that Power Broker ran disappointingly but you're mistaken. That son of Pulpit ran his eyeballs out, running into the buzzsaw that is Verrazano. Do you think that Bob Baffert was down about PB's performance ...his post race comments certainly did not reflect that ...he shipped to Monmouth park confident of copping yet another Haskel victory and his charge ran very well to be a clear second.  

I'm really looking forward to the Travers this year ...a win there will set Verrazano up for a HOTY bid against the all conquering Wise Dan ...none of the other 3YOs seem capable, from a talent point of view, of scaling such dizzy heights this year IMO. Peace.  

29 Jul 2013 3:28 PM

On the wrong end of another DQ; this time at Saratoga ruining my Pick 4 (wouldn't have paid much).  

Just once I want a DQ to work in my favor.  

29 Jul 2013 8:23 PM
Plod Boy Phil


It was the right decision.  W/out the foul, you're second best anyway.  

The chaos factor is always lurking,  but will inevitably level itself out in the long run.

29 Jul 2013 10:19 PM

Pedigree Ann,

Pulpit won the Bluegrass contested at 9F and was 4th in the Kentucky Derby. If he was capable of winning at 9F, why have you concluded that he is a miler sire?

He sired Tapit who won the Wood and was one of the fancied colts to win the Derby.

He sired Purge who won both the Jim Dandy and Peter Pan contested at 9Fs.

He sired Stroll who won several races at 9F.

Mr. Prospector did not win beyond 7F and he sired a winner of each leg of the TC. He was sired by a stallion that never won beyond 5.5F.

Malibu Moon the sire of the 2013 KD winner never won beyond 5F.

Was Mr. P a miler sire? Is Malibu Moon a mile sire?

30 Jul 2013 1:17 AM


You missed some pertinent points in my post.

Verrazano not only performed poorly in the KD, he did not report for either the 2nd or 3rd leg of the TC.

He opted for the Tampa Bay Derby instead of the FOY; the Wood instead of the FL Derby. Both the FOY and FL Derby were more competitive races than the two races selected for him.

A super talented colt is not expected to hide from tough competition by picking softer spots.

I gave my opinion on the reason for Orb's sub-par performances in the Preakness and Belmont. At least he reported and took up the ultimate challenge for 3YOs.

During this time your wonder horse was still trying to figure out what hit him in the Derby.

"Verrazano has the aura of a true crackerjack colt"

The colt has not broken 1:50 for 9F and he is a crackerjack colt. Are you on crack?

Is he the next Holy Bull? The Bull flopped in the Derby and passed on the Preakness & Belmont and was still voted champion 3YO & HOY.

The Bull won the Haskell in a time of 1:48.20. Verrazano's time of 1:50.68 does not put him in the same ball park.

He has to show a lot more to deserve the accolades you have bestowed.

30 Jul 2013 1:40 AM
Mary Zinke

^ Does Joyful Victory always run 8.5 f in 1:46+?

And btw, 1:50.87(Florida Derby)isn't breaking 1:50 either.

Not to be rude, but what are these points exactly? If you're saying too early to name a champion 3 yo male, fine. Otherwise, if I can see through the trying to compare two different tracks, with different degrees of "fast", then a toaster oven could, because I don't even get into all of that analysis. But I know the comparisons are not valid the way they are presented.

30 Jul 2013 3:08 AM
Rusty Weisner

Mary Zinke,

You are right.  Coldfacts is selectively quoting times to the point of misrepresenting the record.  In this case Verrazano's Beyer gives you a better picture of the race than the time.  I'm convinced a stifling, humid, pre-thunderstorm state makes a track very slow, though I didn't really sense a bias from playing (and losing) all day.

30 Jul 2013 8:58 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

No bias at Mth on the main Saturday.  The Haskell came back perfectly fair for all.

Those that had the good fortune of cashing Laughing in the Diana did so with the benefit of an Extreme Race for Speed.  The lone Racing Flow upgrade going into the race, Dream Peace, ran HUGE and gets promoted to 'bold' status. Give credit to all others as well as each was a length or more behind the w-w winner at the first call.

30 Jul 2013 9:12 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Winning Cause's return to the turf in the Sunday opener at Saratoga impressed as he ran through a modestly speed favoring Flow to win despite his early position as a deep closer.  A repeat in a graded stakes seems well within reach.

30 Jul 2013 9:22 AM


There is clear evidence that the distance at which a horse excels depends to some extent on the temperament of the horse and the manner in which the horse is trained. Yet there is this tendency to place horses into categories based on their pedigree.

Here are two examples.

Lawyer Ron.

He was a headstrong horse whose early performances were compromised by the fact that he would not settle. He was sent to Todd Pletcher,  who trained him to settle and not run off. He finished second in the 10-furlong JC Gold Cup to Curlin, beaten a neck.


He was amenable to rating. He finished third in the Travers. He was best at shorter distances.

In England the horse is said to have been ridden to get the trip. The horse is covered up so it can make one big run when given daylight. Some of these horses are sired by stayers. Some settle. Some do not. Two examples are Frankel and Dawn Approach, both of whom were sired by stayers.

As an aside. Can a 3yo that excelled at a mile or 9 furlongs be successfully switched in a month to a 12-furlong race? Yes. See Rags to Riches and Sea the Stars. It depends on the training and temperament of the horse.

I say judge them by their performance. Do not judge them by their origins.

30 Jul 2013 9:31 AM

Rusty Weisner,

"Coldfacts is selectively quoting times to the point of misrepresenting the record”

That’s a very harsh claim you have endorsed. Misrepresent means to give false or misleading accounts. Verrazano has contested two G1 races over 9F at two different tracks and has not broken 1:50. There is no misrepresentation regarding the aforementioned time. In the 46 runnings of the Haskell at 9F, his time was the second slowest. Is he so unfortunate that he is one of the two winners that caught a slow/deep track?

The three horses that won each leg of the TC never broke1:50 heading into these races. Palace Malice has subsequently recorded 1:47 plus for the distance. That however was a one turn 9F.

I have repeatedly highlighted Verrazano’s times for this distance is largely due to the fact that he has not been running faster than the top five colts. No one is classifying Orb, Oxbow & Palace Malice as crackerjack colts and forecasting them as potential HOY types.

Can Verrazano on the evidence of his times sit with a fit and ready Fort Larned? You decide! His supporters do not appreciate these revalations as they do not fit with their super horse theory so I am accused of tailoring facts to suit my case.

Let me be clear, I was not the one classifying as colt who was in hiding when the last two legs of the TC was being decided as a champion 3YO and HOY candidate. Verrazano BOW falls way behind that of Orb and I am not forecasting Orb as a potential HOY candidate at this point.

30 Jul 2013 10:26 AM
Rusty Weisner


Okay, my apologies for overstating it.  But you get my point:  the time is deceptive -- worthless, in fact -- because the track was really, really slow.

Interested if you have an opinion on Moreno and am suprised you didn't like him.  His owner or trainer decided to send him to the Travers when they were originally thinking WV Derby, if I'm not mistaken.

30 Jul 2013 11:01 AM
Pedigree Ann

"Palace Malice has subsequently recorded 1:47 plus for the distance. That however was a one turn 9F. "-

Wrong in fact. The Jim Dandy is run at Saratoga, which is a 9f oval, not at Belmont.

The third race at Monmouth on Sunday was a sprint stakes, won by the 8yo Immortal Eyes; his fractions were 21.86, 44.92, 57.41, and 1:10.82. On a normal track one would expect a horse who shades 22 seconds for the first quarter will pay for it late, but IE held on. I've been 'capping Mth daily for the Survival @the Shore contest and this was a about par for the course.

Then around the fifth race, light rain started. It didn't rain hard, or steadily, or for very long. Track still rated fast.

THe only sprint race after the rain was the 11th for 3yo fillies, and again the early fractions were fast - 21.81 and 44.54. But this time, the front-runners paid for their exuberance; the winner came from 6th and the 3rd had been 10 lengths adrift of the close field early.

Even after the rain, the track was not slow. Oxbow and Verrazano went in 23.90 and 48.22 because their jockeys chose to do so, not because the track held them back.

30 Jul 2013 11:08 AM

Rusty Weisner,

Below a post made on 07/21/2013 under Blog titled 'Belmont The 145th Belmont Stakes'.

The Jim Dandy is shaping up to be a very competitive race. Can any of the late bloomers upstage the established contenders?

A gelding by the name Moreno appears to have turned the page since leaving California. His 1st nine starts were made between BHP, DMR and SA and all resulted in losses. Since his arrival in NY he is unbeaten in two starts. What a difference a coast makes!

Can a gelding that took 10 starts to break his maiden have any realistic chance against some of the top 3YO?  One of his 2 victories in NY was the Dwyer. He was visually impressive in his gate to wire effort. Is that enough to make him a contender?

Moreno is an extremely well bred horse. His sire Ghostzapper and dam sire A P Indy need no introduction. It appears he inherited the tactical speed of his sire and appears to have the stamina to carry same over long distances from his dam sire.

Moreno’s dam Danceinthesunlight is an unraced daughter of Dancethruthedawn a champion 3YO in Canada and HOF inductee. Her dam was Dance Smartly a Canadian HOY, Champion 3YO Filly in US & Canada and HOF inductee. Moreno 2nd and 3rd dams earned a combined $5M.

This gelding’s pedigree suggests he has the capacity to develop into a top class horse. He appears to have found favor in NY and being by an unraced mare, his best is yet to come.

30 Jul 2013 11:42 AM
Pedigree Ann

The miler range on dirt is 7f-9f. Pulpit has sired numerous runners who have excelled between these limits - Corinthian, Purge, Sky Mesa, Tapit, Pyro, Mi Sueno, El Padrino, Oratory, Essence of Dubai, etc. His only offspring of this quality who performed well at 10f dirt was Ice Box, out of a staying (10f-12f) turf mare. In statistical talk, Ice Box is an outlier. The preponderance of evidence is that Pulpit's own influence is miler.

Raise a Native is a difference case because he was injured at 2 before races were offered at more than 5.5f. His own distance proclivities were unknown due to his curtailed career. But at stud, he became a quite versatile sire, who sired stayers as well as brilliant milers. His stayers included Majestic Prince (Kentucky Derby), Laomedonte (Gran Premio di Milano), Where You Lead (Musidora S, 2nd THE Oaks), Clear Choice (Swaps S at 10f), and Gallina (Ribblesdale S at 12f).

Mr. Prospector is yet another case of untested. On a board I frequent is an old New York racertracker from far back and he loves to tell stories about  Mr. Prospector. About how he threw away races by trying to bite chunks out of opposing horses and jockeys. Mr. P was another of unknown distance proclivities because he was only campaigned at sprint distances - his sole race at 8f was a one-turn mile at CD, where he ran second in the Derby Trial. Maybe his attention span was too short for him to race for very long before his stallion instincts took over. Like Raise a Native's stock, his offspring ranged from 5f sprinters to stayers.

Once upon a time, brilliance at short distances did not necessarily imply lack of stamina and it was proven again and again. Horses like Bold Ruler, Round Table, Affirmed, Buckpasser, Secretariat, Alydar, etc. were racing as 2yos in July or earlier, winning sprints. (Round Table won a stakes at Keeneland in April, his third lifetime start.) All proved to be stayers at 3 and older and sought-after stallions. Hail to Reason, who raced only at 2 because of a freak injury, became a major source of stamina as a stallion.

Nowadays, the market wants fast early horses; if they can stay later fine, but they can still become sought-after stallions even if they fail that test - milers like Uncle Mo, Hansen, and Pulpit, sprinters like Speightstown and Henny Hughes. After a few generations of this, one gets to a Vyjack, whose antecedents for three generations are, with only one exception, milers or sprinters, and who can't compete at classic distances.

30 Jul 2013 1:14 PM

Rusty good call on Palace Malice. My Moreno ran a good race but just got wore down by a better horse. I used Verrazano but was stuck on Vyjack coming in the money. Oh well I lose many more days than I win anyways. I am a lucky gambler so I don't mind losing. Mary you were so right that Verrazano was going to win this one. He sure looked like a monster on this day. I will bet against him in the Travers and wont even include him in the triple if he is a big favorite.

I will look for value along with Rusty's Palace Malice in the Travers. That's how I found Golden Soul in the Derby for my tri. I also use pedigree for 10f races even though I admit that it plays a smaller role than it used to 25 years ago. Not many 3 year old horses are able to run fast 10f races anymore. So a really good 9f horse can get the job done. Orb after the rest will get in the superfecta so now I only have to find my two value horses to go with Orb and Palace Malice. Oh if only this game was so easy we would all have written a book by now. Good luck to those true handicappers and to those that are just lucky like me.

30 Jul 2013 1:28 PM

Vyjack has rather large head for a race horse.

30 Jul 2013 2:37 PM
Rusty Weisner

Pedigree Ann,

Look at the final times for the last two 6f races that Immortal Eyes won, both minor stakes at Monmouth. Sunday's was 1:10:82 and his previous try was 1:09:42 (and before that he won a 6f Alw at Mth in 1:09:74).  That's a significan't difference.  Compare any final time of any race Sunday and it was slower than an analogous one.  

30 Jul 2013 2:50 PM
Rusty Weisner


His owner seem to have a big head, too.

30 Jul 2013 2:50 PM
Rusty Weisner


I didn't make a dime off Palace Malice, missing P3's and trifectas, unimaginatively (and wrongly) picking Mylute underneath.  I thought PM still had "value", even at 7/5, because I thought he deserved to be 3/5.  Now, with Verrazano in the Travers, he'll have some "value" one last time going against a favorite coming off a 116 Beyer at a distance maybe not optimal.  I would give chance to a pure closer of the right type to beat both him and Verrazano.  But I still prefer PM to V: I think a lot of people are going to see his 107 as an obvious peak and bet him to fall off.  To me he just "paired figures" -- his effort in the Belmont, which was so fast early, was on a par with the Jim Dandy, despite the deceptive 98.  Anyway, I guess it amounts to the same thing, as you're not supposed to bet a horse off top paired efforts.  But I don't know if I believe that in his case.  Maybe he'll run a 112 or something while Verrazano regresses ten points.  Then again, Curlin lost the Haskell in between his TC and fall campaigns.  I'm curious what others think.

30 Jul 2013 3:30 PM


Verrazano's season is looking "Holy Bullesque" to me. His Beyer Speed figure certainly suggests that in short order he'll be very competitive with the likes of Fort Larned. Did you see Power Broker's trainer Bob Baffert's post Haskel comments? He thinks Verrazano is a freak.

You keep harping on the comparitive running times of different years and track conditions ...obviously you dont regard Beyer Speed figures which take into account track variants.  You're entitled to your view but please don't think that I'm on crack when the colt's Beyer figures have begun to soar towards the stratosphere. Stay with your BOW analysis and I'll watch the quality of Verrazano's performances.  Hopefully after the Travers you have an epiphany.

30 Jul 2013 4:02 PM
Rusty Weisner


My real sense is the PM moves forward off his "paired" efforts, that he runs 110 or better.

30 Jul 2013 4:07 PM
Rusty Weisner


Bob Baffert thought Flashback was a "freak".  He also thought Power Broker could win G1 races.  What these guys say doesn't always matter.  Also, it's not necessarily good to be a "freak": Dreaming of Julia.

30 Jul 2013 4:11 PM
Rusty Weisner


Don't wish Fort Larned on Verrazano just yet.  He'll end up like Take Charge Indy.

30 Jul 2013 4:35 PM

"He thinks Verrazano is a freak"

After Verrazano's victory in the TB Derby the trainer of the runner up Mr. McPeek labeled him a freak.

The freak went to the Wood  and scramble home and blew up in the Derby.

Did the trainers of Curlin and Hard Spun label Any Given Saturday a 'Freak' when he destroyed both colts in the 2007 Haskell?

Were Uncle Mo  & Union Rags freaks?

"obviously you don't regard Beyer Speed figures."

Correct! A horse is as good as it last race. I prefer to closely examine the physical appearance of horses prior to the start of races. The information garnered from same reveals far more than Beyers.

"You keep harping on the comparative running times of different years and track conditions"

In 44 out of 46 years the Haskell has been run in less than 1:50. The fact that the super talented Verrazano did not break 1:50 is insignificant and can be explained by a host of variables.

"Stay with your BOW analysis and I'll watch the quality of Verrazano's performances"

If 1:50.68 is a quality performance then my passion in in the wrong place.

If there was a voted right now for champion 3YO male, who do you think would get the award?

A colt whose Beyer figures have begun to soar towards the stratosphere or the colt with the best BOW?

30 Jul 2013 5:33 PM

Here are the top figures for the top four 3yo colts for races run on a dry dirt track at a mile or longer this year.

I add the DRF Speed Figs to the Track Variant.

Orb (weight 116lbs)--------104  

Verrazano (twice 120,118)--111

Palace Malice (123) -------109

Oxbow (116)----------------107

How good is Verrazano?

I stick with my statement made on these blogs on March 13:

“He looks like a bigger and more relaxed version of Seattle Slew. The question now is whether he will be effective at 12 furlongs.”  

I now add that if they tried him on firm grass, with his electric turn of foot, he would be unbeatable up to 10 furlongs.

30 Jul 2013 6:06 PM


Don't you write off Dreaming of Julia just yet ...hopefully she can return in time for the Breeder's Cup to redeem herself. I still belueve that she's the best 3YO filly of this crop.

By the way, I fancy Successful Dan to humble Fort Larned in the Whitney with Mucho Macho man as his main danger ...it should be a very good race.  

30 Jul 2013 6:19 PM

Jersey Boy,

We seldom agree but I share your estimation of Verrazano. I'd go further and say that on grass he'd look a lot like the great Frankel at this same stage of the latter's career ...now do we part company on this point? (LOL)

30 Jul 2013 6:24 PM
Rusty Weisner


Not writing her off, just pointing out her performance at Gulfstream put her out.

30 Jul 2013 9:42 PM
Sam Santschi

All this hype for a horse who beat second stringers in Tampa, Vyjack twice and an injured IMLD and sore Oxbow...Astonishing.  Of course we'll see what happens on the track.

30 Jul 2013 11:09 PM
Mary Zinke

Del Mar, r6, Thursday, 8/1, #2 Fury.

But, then, likely to get bet down.

31 Jul 2013 12:33 AM

I give it 50/50 chance for Verazano

to run in the Traver, and no chance

to seehim in the Breeders'cup classic, It too tough for him.

As the matter of fact I will predict that he will retire to Coolmore in October to follow

the same path of Uncle Mo and hope to fine few dummies to pay 35,000

to send their mare to them.

31 Jul 2013 12:36 AM

"with his electric turn of foot, he would be unbeatable up to 10 furlongs."

Bold prediction indeed!  Asumming he takes to the turf, this surface is dominated by Wise Dan up to probably 9F. There after it is Point Of Entry territory. This is assuming he returns from injury.

Rydulluc is a talented colt with  lots of pace who can develop into a serious turf horse at the top level. Likewise Noble Tune.

To suggest that Verrazano can just switch surface and blow these two colts away is a stretch.

Nobles Tune turn of foot is far more electric than that of Verrazano. Rydilluc has tactical speed that he maintains effectively for 9F. There is no doubt that he will be effective at 10F when gets stronger.

Here we  go again with another horse that is being assessed through the lens of emotions.

31 Jul 2013 8:19 AM

Interesting post regarding categories.

Lawyer Ron was used as an example of a colt that suffered a narrow loss at 10F after being trained to settle.

Lawyer Ron's 1st attempt at 10F under Mr. Pletched was in the 2006 Breeder Cup Classic where he finished 9th. He contested two other 10F races under Mr. Pletcher finishing 2nd in the 2007 JCGC and 7th in the 2007 BCC.

He contested three 10F races and finished second in one and off the board in the others. It is clear this colt was not effective at 10F despite being trained to settle.

Lawyer Ron won three 9F races. Two with Mr. Pletcher and one with his original trainer Mr. Holthus. He attempted one 10F race under Mr. Holthus care and finished 12th in the Derby won by Barbaro.

Interestingly, the colt that finished last in that Derby was the very fast Keyed Entry who was no doubt trained to settle by Mr. Pletcher.

31 Jul 2013 8:53 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Sam -

He did pay $4.20, so tip your cap to all those that liked him....

31 Jul 2013 9:54 AM
Pedigree Ann

Rusty -

I did point out that he ran BEFORE the rain? And that the rain somewhat changed the track?

31 Jul 2013 11:23 AM

"Asumming he takes to the turf"

First learn to spell, then focus on your unemotional assessment of Footbridge.

31 Jul 2013 1:07 PM

"First learn to spell"

The child amongst us has awaken. Welcome back my learned contributor. I truly missed your hate.

With the exclusion of your  referenced quote, my post contained five paragraphs. Was assuming the only word misspelt?

My learned colleague spelling is not the issue its editing.

As usual I can look forwards to you keeping me honest.

Since you mentioned Footbridge, do you have any information about the well bred colt? Since his last place finish in the Bluegrass he  not been seen.

31 Jul 2013 3:07 PM

For updates on horses in training, see URL below.


31 Jul 2013 3:33 PM

sar race 6 longshot of the day #10 harrods bay!!!!!300w200p

31 Jul 2013 3:40 PM

del race 6 200wp #2 solo rock

31 Jul 2013 3:49 PM

yea yea....longshot got 4th.....solo rock wins.......+100

31 Jul 2013 4:10 PM
Sam Santschi

Phil, not sour grapes on my part. Congrats to those who had him.  I took at stab on micromanage and his third made the loss more palatable.  V's a  good horse but comparing him to Frankel or Holy Bull? Thought that was over the top a bit.

31 Jul 2013 8:27 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Sam -

I agree.  No matter what the race,  $4.20 is $4.20.  

31 Jul 2013 8:45 PM
Mary Zinke

So this blog is under handicapping instead of blogs. Okay, see you for the weekend stakes.

01 Aug 2013 12:56 AM

Delmar: Race #6 going to try 3,4,5,6 exacta box.

01 Aug 2013 6:50 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'll try the WV Derby for $20 ro $30.  

I like a Betweenhereandcool and Departing exacta, and each on top over the other in exacta-ish keyed-trifectas with Overanalyze, Say Ow and Ruler of Love for the other spot underneath.

02 Aug 2013 2:26 PM
Forbidden Apple

Saratoga August 3:

Race 9 #5 Baffle Me is a gate to wire threat if she can hold off Laugh Out Loud late. Daily Double with the monster Fort Larned.

Race 10 #3 Fort Larned will stalk Cross Traffic and pull away at the top of the stretch. Cross Traffic could hold on for second, but I have Ron the Greek and Alpha closing late. Straight exactas over Ron the Greek and Alpha.

03 Aug 2013 1:43 PM

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