Can Untapable Be Upset in the Haskell?

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

On July 27th, Monmouth Park in New Jersey will play host to the $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational (gr. I), a traditional post-Triple Crown target for the best three-year-olds of the season. Recent starters in the Haskell have included Oxbow, Shackleford, Ruler On Ice, Lookin at Lucky, Super Saver, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird, Big Brown, Curlin—and those are just the starters that had previously won a Triple Crown race!

While this year’s running of the Haskell did not draw a winner of a Triple Crown race, it still promises to be among the most exciting renewals in recent memory. The reason is simple—this year’s Haskell has drawn Untapable.

To rehash her credentials is not really necessary, as she is surely one of the most well-known horses in training at this time. Even still, I should point out that she has won her last four starts (including the grade I Kentucky Oaks and the Mother Goose Stakes) by the combined margin of thirty-one lengths, while earning very strong Beyer speed figures that make her clearly the horse to beat in this race. She’s the 2-1 favorite on the morning line, but I expect her to go off at a considerably shorter price than that.

However, despite her obvious credentials, I believe she can be beaten on Sunday. In five of her seven starts in route races, she has tracked fractions of about :48 flat for a half-mile and 1:12 3/5 for six furlongs, and has won four of those races while placing a good third in the other. On the two occasions that she has encountered a fast pace—about :45 3/5 for a half-mile and 1:09 2/5 for six furlongs—she has been less impressive. Her first experience with such a fast pace came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last fall, in which she was losing ground on the leaders even before she got checked hard on the far turn and was eased. The other time she encountered a fast pace, she decisively defeated four rivals in the Mother Goose Stakes, but experienced a twelve-point plunge in her Beyer speed figure.

If the pace of the Haskell was expected to be slow, this would not be a concern. But unfortunately, the pace is expected to be fast—perhaps very fast.

A quick glance at the expected front-runners reveals names like Bayern, who romped to victory in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) last time out while posting fractions of :44.20 and 1:08.17; Social Inclusion, who chased Bayern’s quick pace in the Woody Stephens en route to third place, and who previously gave California Chrome a bit of a scare on the far turn of the Preakness Stakes; Wildcat Red, who recorded fractions of :45.91 and 1:10.38 while winning the 8.5-furlong Quality Road Stakes last time out; and Encryption, who set fractions of :47.79 and 1:12.03 on his way to a third-place finish in the Long Branch Stakes. Thus, if Untapable is to take up her usual stalking position a couple of lengths off the lead, she will have to run much faster than she is accustomed to, and that could have a major impact on her finishing kick.

So keeping this in mind—and considering the fact that Monmouth tends to play kindly toward speed—I have, to my own surprise, settled on Wildcat Red for the top spot. Of the speed horses, he is the most proven in route races, having won the Quality Road Stakes and the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at 8.5 furlongs, in addition to being beaten a neck in the Florida Derby (gr. I) at nine furlongs. With question marks surrounding the other primary speed horses (can Bayern win at this distance? Will Social Inclusion be able to relax in the presence of other front-runners?), I believe Wildcat Red is the most likely to hang around for the finish.

I will also give strong consideration to Bayern, who has drawn post two and could very well find himself racing on the lead and on the rail, a combination that can prove very beneficial at Monmouth. His trainer, Bob Baffert, has a spectacular record in the Haskell (having won the race in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2011, and 2012), and any time he sends a horse for this race, that horse must be taken seriously.

Other horses I will be looking at are Albano, impressive winner of the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) here at Monmouth last time out, and Just Call Kenny, who returned from a lengthy layoff to finish second by a half-length in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth last time out. Both colts possess good finishing kicks, and should be coming late if the pace is fast.

One colt I will most likely take a stand against is Medal Count. The majority of his success has come on turf and Polytrack, and while he did run well in the Belmont Stakes (finishing a close third in a strong renewal of the race), I think the twelve-furlong distance of the Belmont may have had more to do with his good showing than a preference for dirt. In addition, he got a wonderful trip in the Belmont—saving ground all the way around—and while it wouldn’t surprise me if he runs well on Sunday, my gut feeling is that his future is on turf and synthetic, and that he might not take to the Monmouth dirt as well.

So to recap, my selection on top is Wildcat Red, with utmost respect to Bayern. For the exotics, Untapable must be included, and I would also consider using Albano and Just Call Kenny in the lower slots of trifectas and superfectas. But all that said, from a sporting perspective, I have my fingers crossed that Untapable, Bayern, and Social Inclusion will hook up in a thrilling duel at the top of the stretch, setting up a finish that will be among the most memorable in the history of the race.

Who do you like in the Haskell?

97 Comments

Leave a Comment:

novembersky

Irish you well was not mentioned. What are your thoughts about this horse being a contendor?

26 Jul 2014 11:40 PM
JayJay

As posted in the previous blog, I picked WR with MC, Untapable and Irish You Well.  I'm thinking of using Social Inclusion instead of Untapable and might have separate tickets that way.  I just don't know whether Untapable is really that good and SI's Preakness run should be good enough to hit the board here.

Keelerman : You playing the late P4?  I'm set on Micromanage but plan on playing only two horses in the 2nd leg.  Any suggestions ?

26 Jul 2014 11:52 PM
Sam Santschi

Totally agree, Keelerman. She's a nice filly but not Rachel Alexandra. She's just not fast enough. I settled on WR too but maybe he's the wise guy?  Hope not. Very interesting race.

27 Jul 2014 1:09 AM
jockey2be

Who do I like in this race?

I LOVE Wildcat Red in this race!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

27 Jul 2014 1:52 AM
honor code

Love how this race is shaping up in WRs favor! LOVE IT!

27 Jul 2014 1:55 AM
English Pete

Untapable is 4/5 odds with UK bookies this morning. I think she's the most likely winner, but surely she's crying out to be opposed at those odds. Wildcat Red 10/1 and Bayern 4/1 will both do each way for me at a fifth the odds 1-2-3. I might also do two trifectas using Untapable in 2nd place splitting Wildcat Red and Bayern in first and third positions. Should be a fascinating race and I'll be staying up to watch the streaming of this one.

27 Jul 2014 7:20 AM
tuna

Didn't Medal Count get stopped in the Derby[dirt track] while looking to a factor until that point? Romans has always been high on this horse.

27 Jul 2014 8:28 AM
-Keelerman

Novembersky;

I'm really fond of Irish You Well in general, but I'm worried that the Haskell isn't going to set up for him very well. In the Long Branch Stakes at 8.5 furlongs last time out, he tracked a moderate pace before taking command and just holding off a late run from Just Call Kenny, a stretch-out sprinter making his first start in six months. Now he will be attempting to run a sixteenth of a mile farther in a race that should have a much faster early pace, and that combination may not be to his liking.

On the other hand, he's run well in graded stakes company twice previously, including a good third in the Peter Pan behind Belmont Stakes 1-2 finishers Tonalist and Commissioner. Who knows? With the right trip, perhaps he can secure a spot in the trifecta!

27 Jul 2014 9:11 AM
-Keelerman

JayJay;

I won't be playing the late pick four, but if I were, I would give Pick of the Litter a close look in the second leg. In his last start, a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs, Pick of the Litter sat a few lengths off of a relatively fast pace, then -- while attempting to rally near the top of the stretch -- was jostled when in tight between Looking Cool and Sabercat, causing Pick of the Litter's jockey to lose his stirrups. As a result, the jockey was unable to ask Pick of the Litter for run during a critical portion of the race, and once he was back properly in the saddle, it was too late for Pick of the Litter to catch the runaway winner Carve. Even still, Pick of the Litter did run on well to finish second, despite the fact that the final quarter mile was timed in an exceptional :24.24 seconds!

If I were going to use only two horses in the Monmouth Cup, I'm not sure Pick of the Litter would be one of them. I would probably use Bradester or Valid instead. But Pick of the Litter is an appealing 15-1 on the morning line, so if you're looking for a longshot, perhaps he's the one. I hope that helps! :)

27 Jul 2014 9:42 AM
joepo

Good analysis. I also believe that WR will get the job done. Untapable is too good to finish worse than 2nd. I see Medal Count running late for 3rd. Speedy Bayern completes the SF. Good luck to all.

27 Jul 2014 9:47 AM
-Keelerman

Tuna;

You've got a good point -- Medal Count did run well in the Derby despite some traffic in the homestretch, and I really feel he might have finished third if not for that incident. On the other hand, the main track at Churchill Downs tends to play kindly toward turf/synthetic horses -- for example, Paddy O'Prado and Dullahan, who both ran third in the Kentucky Derby.

For me, seeing whether Medal Count handles the Monmouth dirt is going to be one of the highlights of the Haskell. Should he win the race, then the Travers Stakes becomes a logical target, and a sweep of the Haskell and Travers would put him in contention for honors as champion three-year-old colt at the end of the year. If he doesn't handle the dirt, then he will likely head to the Pacific Classic on the Polytrack at Del Mar, where he will take on Game On Dude and Shared Belief. What a race that would be!

27 Jul 2014 9:52 AM
-Keelerman

I'm amazed by how much support there has been for Wildcat Red! I thought I would be one of relatively few people to pick him on top, but it seems he has quite a following!

honor code;

In case you hadn't heard this yet, I thought I'd mention that Honor Code is back in training at Fair Hill in Maryland. If all goes well, he should be back to the races this fall!

27 Jul 2014 9:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

I wish I liked Medal Count more because on paper the setup looks perfect.  I can't like Albano off an easy lead in a 5-horse race, similar with Wildcat Red.  Encryption should prove a bother to them, too.  I don't know about a winner, but the horses I'll keep on any ticket are Untapable, Bayern and Medal Count.

27 Jul 2014 10:17 AM
Rusty Weisner

Micromanage is a scratch.  Was he cross-entered somewhere else?

That makes it easier for me to like Long River; I'll give him the edge over Easter Gift coming off a long layoff.  He's effectively been running in G1 company in his last three races.

27 Jul 2014 10:31 AM
Monarchos Matt

Keelerman,

Good luck today! I too am surprised that Wildcat Red is getting so much support. This is still a horse that has not yet won beyond 8.5f, and I am just suspicious of translating GP form to other tracks for speed horses, as Pedigree Ann noted on your other blog. However I do agree with you that of all the pace horses, he seems the most likely to hang around, and I certainly cannot knock his toughness and grit.

As a bit of an aside, I've been using Brisnet PPs more lately (I used to exclusively use DRF). I've become fond of their pace numbers and have had some success using them, especially to find late-running horses in races like this one where to pace is expected to be so fast between so many horses that appear to have distance limitations. Just Call Kenny is quite intriguing from this standpoint, as he shows the best late pace figure in the field coming off his last race at MTH. He's lightly raced but shows three straight Beyer improvements (back to DRF now), and the 97 he posted in his last is quite competitive with everyone besides Untapable in terms of recent efforts. He looks like a live bomber if you are playing the pace meltdown angle.

I don't know what to make of Bayern. I was hard against him in the Woody Stephens and he made me pay, at 9-1 odds no less…we'll probably never see that again regardless of how he runs today. I remind myself though, that the Belmont and Kentucky Derby were both stronger races than the Preakness, and Bayern really struggled with the step up in competition in that race. It was a dominant performance, but who did he really beat in the Woody Stephens? Social Inclusion is in a  complete free fall so I'm not sure that he counts. I'll take my chances with a horse like Medal Count, who has run well against better competition on dirt (as noted, his 8th in the Derby was MUCH better than it looked and he'll get a better pace setup with less traffic trouble here). If he falls short today then I can recede into the "he's a turf horse" camp but I'm not ready to do that yet.

27 Jul 2014 10:43 AM
Monarchos Matt

Rusty,

I agree about Medal Count…he'll have no excuses here, as he's likely to never see a better setup as long as he races. Outside post, race is loaded with speed, and it's not just that it's speed, it's that all of the speed horses have proven distance limitations beyond 8.5f. My only concern is that he might need just a bit more ground than this, but I'm using the super-hot pace angle to justify him getting up a bit sooner.

Those seem like the logical 3 horses to use in a multi-race sequence. Untapable is probably the most likely winner but takes such a big class leap against a far different pace scenario than she's ever seen. She fits the "must use but cannot single" type of description in my opinion. Bayern is the fastest in the race by far if he can carry his speed 9f. That's a big IF but probably not worth being burned on. Still, I'd be terrified to go into this race not live to Medal Count, especially if you get your single home!

27 Jul 2014 10:49 AM
Coldfacts

Rusty Weisner,

You are a brave man to have confidence in a horse trained by Mr. McLaughlin. Long River has faded in his last two races. Admittedly they were G1s. However, the colt is grinder that has been petted and pampered by a trainer who seems incapable of improving the horses under his keep and care.

I do not believe the Monmouth Park strip suites Long River's running style. He has tactical speed but rarely quickens in the lane and that is unlikely to gain him a victory at that location. Good Luck!

27 Jul 2014 11:00 AM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

Micromanage hasn't been cross-entered anywhere else, but he is nominated to the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) next Saturday, so perhaps -- since Micromanage is owned by Mike Repole, who loves to run his horses at Saratoga -- Micromanage has been scratched to target the Whitney instead.

27 Jul 2014 11:20 AM
SoloSolo

Thanks, Keelerman, for update on Honor Code.  Any word on Top Billing?  And thanks for creating & maintaining such a lively, informative blog.

27 Jul 2014 11:24 AM
-Keelerman

Monarchos Matt;

I'm glad to hear you like the chances of Just Call Kenny as well! Really, the first half-mile of the Haskell is going to be thrilling to watch. Who will secure the early lead? How fast will the pace be? How close will Untapable be to the lead?

Good luck to you, too!

27 Jul 2014 11:27 AM
-Keelerman

SoloSolo;

Thanks for the kind words! As far as I know, Top Billing's recovery has gone exceptionally well, and he should be returning to training with Shug McGaughey in the near future.

27 Jul 2014 11:35 AM
-Keelerman

Nice job handicapping the Jim Dandy, Brontexx!

27 Jul 2014 11:46 AM
-Keelerman

Just in case anyone missed this, the Haskell Invitational will be broadcast on NBC from 5:00 to 6:00 PM EST. Be sure to tune in!

27 Jul 2014 11:48 AM
Brontexx

Keelerman what do you mean I made my picks by using the consensus on the blog and using my experienced decision making skills and my memory of the 3yos from the KD preps to make my paper bets.

Thats basically what I do by following different trainers look at their runners and cherry pick the ones I like,The trainers have to run all their horses but I dont have to bet on all of them.BTW I only play Pletcher at the Spa because of the urgency of the meet.Look at his record at Monmouth which resembles his Aqueduct and Belmont regular meets more closely.Dont forget Belmont runs a stakes intensive meet after Saratoga but its not the same you dont get as many full fields or trainers from other parts of the country running as many runners as they run at the Spa.

27 Jul 2014 12:17 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman what do you mean I made my picks by using the consensus on the blog and using my experienced decision making skills and my memory of the 3yos from the KD preps to make my paper bets.

Thats basically what I do by following different trainers look at their runners and cherry pick the ones I like,The trainers have to run all their horses but I dont have to bet on all of them.BTW I only play Pletcher at the Spa because of the urgency of the meet.Look at his record at Monmouth which resembles his Aqueduct and Belmont regular meets more closely.Dont forget Belmont runs a stakes intensive meet after Saratoga but its not the same you dont get as many full fields or trainers from other parts of the country running as many runners as they run at the Spa.

27 Jul 2014 12:21 PM
Brontexx

On the same note as NYRA meets I have seen Mclaughlin go ofer 15 at the Aqueduct winter meet that follows the Spa and Belmont fall meets.It was at least 15 maybe a few more dont need an exact number you get the idea.It is known on the backstretch that they bet on their runners.

27 Jul 2014 12:27 PM
Rammer

I'm sending it in on Untapable win & place, and I'm playing a $20 exacta Untapable over Wildcat Red!!! - RAMMER

27 Jul 2014 2:17 PM
-Keelerman

Good luck, Rammer!

27 Jul 2014 2:29 PM
honor code

Keelerman- thanks for the update!!!

27 Jul 2014 2:38 PM
-Keelerman

It sound like the top three finishers from the Jim Dandy will have a rematch in the Travers!

www.bloodhorse.com/.../tonalist-kid-cruz-exit-jim-dandy-well

27 Jul 2014 2:47 PM
Hail No

This race certainly has more substance than the Dandy. Acid test for the Filly, but the other male 3yos just seem better. A big advantage might have to go to Social Inclusion, with the change to Edgar, who can masterfully handle a horse like SI. Love the rugged Wildcat Red, and the Monmouth track should suit him well, but will he and Bayern have an extended duel? I think the morning line is off, Medal Count just might be favored, Encryption, the homeboy longshot. Good luck all, safe & sound..

27 Jul 2014 3:39 PM
jockey2be

Go Wildcat Red!Please win this,to prove you ARE a grade 1 colt.To prove you CAN go 9 furlongs.To prove you ARE one of Americas top 3 year olds.To prove what I've known all along!I will be screaming as you come down the stretch!GO RED GO!

27 Jul 2014 3:42 PM
El Kabong

As I mentioned on other article, I like Albano. This guy can rate, can run at this track and has the class to contend with this group. I also think that he is fully cranked. Not 100% sure this horse will get the 10F travers so this is big ticket. As I mentioned, disrespect L Jones and you miss out. Just started my pick 4 with Starstruck in 9th.

2 w 2378 w 134678 w 3. All in with teams Jones.

Will key 3 in super w 2679 w 2679  w 4568

Good luck everyone, especially LJ.

27 Jul 2014 4:11 PM
Brontexx

Antipathy has a shot to at least hit the board for Mclauglin in the next at the Spa.Long River failed thats ofer 12.Hes a G3 animal at best and his style I think would garner better results at the Spa.

27 Jul 2014 5:06 PM
Secreteriat

TRI 7 w 268 w268  268 7 with 268

27 Jul 2014 5:09 PM
-Keelerman

With twenty-seven minutes to post time for the Haskell Invitational, Untapable has opened as the even-money favorite, with Medal Count the surprising second choice at 4-1! Bayern and Just Call Kenny are both 7-1, while Wildcat Red is 8-1 and Social Inclusion 12-1. Albano? If you like his chances, he's 17-1!

There's still lots of time for the odds to change, but at the present time, there's plenty of value to be found on Bayern, Albano, and Social Inclusion!

27 Jul 2014 5:20 PM
-Keelerman

Good luck with your trifectas, Secreteriat! And good luck to all!

27 Jul 2014 5:23 PM
Secreteriat

Correction,

TRI 7 W 269 W 269

269 W 7 W 269

Sorry

27 Jul 2014 5:23 PM
-Keelerman

It has been reported that UAE Derby winner Toast of New York will be heading to Del Mar for the Pacific Classic next month. What a race that is shaping up to be!

27 Jul 2014 5:24 PM
Secreteriat

$20 WPS Social Inclusion

27 Jul 2014 5:27 PM
Hail No

Congrats Team BAYERN, wow, a romp. 9-2 second choice, extremely generous! Congrats to all who liked him! WR showed a lot of heart!

27 Jul 2014 5:54 PM
Brontexx

Today Brown had no runners at Saratoga Pletcher has four runners 3 came in the money with 2 in 2nd and 1 in 3rd thats another day 50% 1st or 2nd that means exacta key possibilities.

Oh yeah Mclaughlins Antipathy broke thru thr ofer streak for him by winning another graded stake I told you all he had a good shot in my previous post here it is:Antipathy has a shot to at least hit the board for Mclauglin in the next at the Spa.Long River failed thats ofer 12.Hes a G3 animal at best and his style I think would garner better results at the Spa.

Bayerns speed held at Monmouth and Jones Albano laid back off the pace to get 2nd that exacta was very hitable and it paid about 50-1 the 2-3 that is, I dont think any of you hit it El Kabong swung for the fence maybe he covered with the 50-1 exacta or 48-1 to be MORE exact Ed Did you get the exacta?

27 Jul 2014 6:14 PM
El Kabong

Brontexx,

No such luck. Bayern was a handful. thought he would fade.

27 Jul 2014 6:40 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman you know you had the tri in a 60 dollar 1 dollar tri box if you decided to wager that much it paid 432

27 Jul 2014 9:04 PM
Rusty Weisner

Well, I had a very bad day. Then I had a very good day.

Long story short, after seeing a horrendous track bias I singled Bayern in a $90 50-cent p4 that paid $1300.

I lost a lot early, starting with race 5, then put $200 into three p4 tickets, one with Long River singled, one with Watadachances, one, the biggest with Bayern.

Like I said, incredible bias.  I don't think I saw one horse able to make a move on the turn into the stretch.  Seeing it early I put a couple horses, Valid and Bradester, on a ticket where I otherwise wouldn't have had them.  Not to mention Bayern.  So, after taxes, not a gargantuan day, but netted $600.

27 Jul 2014 9:19 PM
Rusty Weisner

The other horse I was very fortunate to get in the sequence was Starstruck, who I had because of the chart call; a winning move cut short by clipped heels and a stumble to the turf.  Then the Pletcher horse brought home from the UAE or Dubai faded badly, taking a lot of money with him.

27 Jul 2014 9:22 PM
Rusty Weisner

Worst bias I've ever seen.  R5 was memorable, and even the turf seemed bias, with the 10 who broke through the gate going on to win by several open lengths even after sub :23, :45.3 splits.

27 Jul 2014 9:23 PM
Rusty Weisner

Every race was 1-2, 1-2-2:  Valid/Bradester, Bayern/Wildcat Red.  Awful. Not complaining, though.

27 Jul 2014 9:27 PM
Secreteriat

Well Done Rusty!!!!

27 Jul 2014 9:34 PM
-Keelerman

Fantastic job, Rusty Weisner!! Congratulations!!

27 Jul 2014 9:40 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman If you would have spent as much attention to detail in your betting as in choosing a pace scenario deciding who would be able to run with the pace etc etc you could have won the tri and made sure Untapable didnt beat you in 1st or 2nd as long as your other numbers

came in the money because she wasnt worth betting to show with a $32 wager.Instead of including Untapable in 3rd in your four number tri box.To make money betting on horse races its more about betting and money management than say the writers at the DRF would admit,of course they sell PPs there.

27 Jul 2014 9:46 PM
Brontexx

Keelerman you thought Untapable was very beatable you just didnt want her beating you out of your exotics you play her in 1st and 2nd with your other numbers for a buck then you box the other four in a dollar tri box without the favorite so you know the payout will be good with the low priced favorite out of the tri.The cost 32 dollars for a buck winnings 432 or the saver bet with Untapable and your other three numbers in 1st and 2nd.This game can be won more easily by betting.

27 Jul 2014 9:52 PM
Rusty Weisner

Secreteriat,

Thanks.  Another thing -- it seemed every winner/leader on dirt gained ground on the field in the stretch, they just needed to set down on the turn and it was bye, bye.

27 Jul 2014 9:57 PM
Rusty Weisner

Social Inclusion was his usual self today.

27 Jul 2014 10:01 PM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

You were very right about Long River.  I was feeling leery of the horse after the early races but thought Napravnik might push him into early contention (she didn't, game over) and felt just plain superstitious about going back on a pick; I had talked myself into that horse, grasping at straws.  Luckily my ad-hoc handicapping turned out better in the end.  

27 Jul 2014 10:11 PM
JayJay

Keelerman : Nice pick with Valid and Bradester in the 2nd leg of the P4, hope you hit the exacta!  I didn't see it until now, but didnt' matter, it was a doozy day for me.  I would've had the tri and super if WR won.  I didn't think Bayern can go all the way but after seeing him all alone in the lead, he was going to be tough to beat.  I was really expecting SI or Albano to be up close with Bayern but neither was there when the gate opened.

You were also dead right about Baffert's horses, even with the bias (as Rusty mentioned), I'm surprised that Bayern still won that easy against this field.  I'm glad he won that easy as that bring Tonalist's odds down for the Travers.  Let's see who shows up in the Travers besides WS, Tonatlist, KC and Bayern.

As for SI, can you imagine the relief of the group that offered 8M for him ?  Although, with a different trainer, he might be a different horse.  He did stumble at the start and that probably cost him any chance at all in this race...will I give him a mulligan in the next race?  Probably...NOT.

Rusty : Nice P4 hit!

27 Jul 2014 11:54 PM
JayJay

Keelerman : Any idea who's going to ride WTC in the Whitney since Stevens is out with an injury ?  I'm guessing Saez and Lukas don't get along so I can't see him getting the mount back but I'm hoping.  If not, I hope Jose Lezcano gets the mount.  This is going to be one hell of a race.  Very excited to see Palace Malice and WTC in the same race.

Can you imagine a Classic with WTC, PM, CC, Shared Belief, Bayern, Game On Dude, Tonalist, Fed Biz hopefully Danza, Commissioner, Goldencents, Zivo, Majestic Harbor ?!? I know, I"m getting ahead of myself but it's possible.

28 Jul 2014 12:20 AM
Sam Santschi

Nice job Rusty Weisner. When Bayern's opening odds were a juicy 8 or 9-1. I started re-thinking my strategy but then said, maybe this bias really isn't a bias. Surely, it won't continue...No one on twitter is talking about it...but then thoughts of, how often does an on paper pace meltdown fail to happen?  My confusion or more accurately my indecision caused me to scale back my bets so the result was a mixture of irritation and "how boring" for me.

28 Jul 2014 7:45 AM
Rusty Weisner

JayJay, everyone else:

Thanks.  Let me acknowledge what lousy betting it was and huge luck in getting all non-favorites in the sequence (fourth favorite, fourth favorite, second favorite, second favorite).  I could have made more money (when figuring taxes) by just betting $200 on Bayern.  

But you have to be a pro to play that way.  The siren lure of the pick 4 is that it lets you play all the races.  

Still, not bad handicapping when it counted!

Did anyone else play this card (I played ten races, 3-12)?  Surprised not to see acknowledgment of the surface, other than by Steve Asmussen, after Untapable got hung wide.  I was tickled to see Untapable lose the photo for fourth, picturing the agony of most bettors and the ecstasy of the few as they waited for the result...by the way, $3500 for that super seems surprisingly low for me.

28 Jul 2014 8:59 AM
Rusty Weisner

JayJay,

I don't expect Bayern at the Travers.  Someone else can better explain the business, but Baffert is the only one who really zones in on the Haskell, which is treated as the stepchild of the 3-yo races, it seems to me (I felt strongly about Bayern because his late-developing campaign resembled Paynter's; he had that interruption that kept him out of the TC series, so the Haskell seemed the goal).  Maybe someone can chase down the numbers, but does Baffert send that many to Saratoga, and when's he won the Travers lately?

Baffert said he had been aiming Bayern at the King's Bishop but is now more confident about him routing.  I would deprecate his chances on another surface next time out, though.

28 Jul 2014 9:05 AM
Rusty Weisner

Anyone see R6 (turf)?  That was a weirdly memorable one for me.  Dangerous Lad was made the late favorite, broke through the gate, then freaked out on the lead and still won.  

28 Jul 2014 9:08 AM
Coldfacts

Social Inclusion:  A colt with a lot of ability but unfortunately he is in the wrong hands. When the terms and conditions of his sale were made public I immediately realized that the owners were a bunch of jokers.

The clown show continues. Sad!

28 Jul 2014 9:17 AM
Rusty Weisner

The 2-post was a big plus in favor of Bayern, too.

28 Jul 2014 9:25 AM
Rusty Weisner

Sam Santschi,

Thanks.  I like this comment:  "how often does an on paper pace meltdown fail to happen?"  

28 Jul 2014 9:31 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

I hope you made some money on Valid/Bradester.  That's Valid's home track, you should have touted that pick a little more strongly.

28 Jul 2014 9:34 AM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

Unfortunately, I missed all of the undercard races at Monmouth yesterday, so I didn't pick up on the track bias until after the races were over. As it turned out, I didn't bet a cent yesterday, although seeing the results of the Monmouth Cup, perhaps I should have! :)

On a slightly different note, the preliminary Beyer speed figure for Bayern came back as a 109, eleven points higher than the 98 earned by Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy. Yet despite this drastic difference in numbers, I still believe that the Travers winner will come out of the Jim Dandy. In the Haskell, Bayern was able to capitalize on setting a moderate pace over a speed-favoring track, and anything less than a romp after that would have been a disappointment. If he does indeed head for the Travers, he will be stretching out another furlong in distance over a (presumably) fairer racetrack, and I think that Tonalist and/or Wicked Strong have the goods to beat him under those circumstances.

JayJay;

You'll be happy to know that Lukas has given the mount on Will Take Charge back to Luis Saez for the Whitney!

28 Jul 2014 10:47 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

You are right about the pace.  I'd forgotten that -- my heart was all aflutter with optimism after I saw the second fraction.  I really hope Bayern goes to the Travers because I will see an opportunity in betting against him:  Baffert had clearly believed he had distance limitations and I hope he becomes overly optimistic after this pace and bias-aided performance with that big fat Beyer number.

28 Jul 2014 11:23 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

It was a good weekend.  I was happy to be spectator to Wicked Strong's victory, which was a consolation to me after the Belmont:  right horse, wrong race.  In the Travers I am going to give serious thought to Kid Cruz, though. That race has its upsets and Linda Rice has had some good seasons at Saratoga.

28 Jul 2014 11:34 AM
Rusty Weisner

Here's a funny little note from the chart, by the way:  "WICKED STRONG was washy as usual during the warmup...."

28 Jul 2014 11:44 AM
Ranagulzion

Keelerman:

Here are my post Haskel thoughts: Leading up to the Kentucky Derby, Bayern and Social Inclsion were the late developing "wonder colts" that everyone wanted to see qualify for the 3YO Blue Ribband event even though they were kind of behind the eighth ball. Now Bayern has come to hand, and in his two last outings appears arguably to be the best 3YO in America right now. That was a pretty sensational performance in the Haskel following upon his authoritative Woody Stephens victory. Baffert with Bayern should fear absolutely no one going forward.

Now unto Social Inclusion. This colt deserves a mulligan for his next outing and one more chance to turn things around because:

1) He might have needed the race going into the Haskel

2) Taking him off lasix put him at a disadvantage against the competition in the Haskel (mistake by the connections)

3) He acted up in the starting gate and stumbled at the start before rushing up to join the leaders which spelled further doom for his chances

4) He always appeared to be a more imposing and talented colt than Bayern but may hav needed a bit more time being a May foal, therefore he can freak-perform at anytime now

If the connections decide to remove the blinkers, stick with Edgar Prado and he works well for his next start I'll stay in his fan club, hoping the he points for either the Travers or Woodward (where he'd have a nice weight allowance).

Regarding the filly Untappable, she ran below par and I can't say that it is because the colts are better or the racetrack didn't suit her. It is true that her competition in the filly division has been comparitively weak but she should've finished closer in my view.

Anyway some mouthwatering aces are ahead in the 3YO ranks with Shared Belief hovering, Honor Code back in training and California Chrome being freshened up.

Also among the older horses, can Will Take Charge maintain his superiority over a marauding 4YO campaigner in Palace Malice?

28 Jul 2014 1:46 PM
Carlos in Cali

Ranagulzion,

Face it, Social Inclusion is not the horse you thought he was.

28 Jul 2014 2:54 PM
Rusty Weisner

Ranagulzion,

The problem with SI is that he always acts up in the starting gate, every single time.  It's no longer an excuse but a symptom of something else.  Beats me what.

Don't make the same mistake with Bayern that you made last year with Verrazano.  I think he's a terrible bet in the Travers, at least if that 109 holds up and draws the money you'd expect.  I commented on that more above.  Last year's Haskell was on a very slow dull track with a slow time that nevertheless got a 116.  This year's track was the opposite, so much so that going from the Haskell to the Travers would be more like a step from 8f to 10f for Bayern.

28 Jul 2014 3:17 PM
Brontexx

Blog characters and writers that assume other identities today was the best in the money finishes for Pletcher,Brown and Mclauglin who might have broke out of the slump.

Pletcher 2 starters 2 1sts Brown 1 starter 1 1st and Mclaughlin 1 starter 1 2nd. The total 4 starters 100% 1st 2nd.

Good luck to all.

28 Jul 2014 4:24 PM
-Keelerman

Is anyone in the mood to watch some of the best racing in England? If so, you'll be happy to know that the "Glorious Goodwood" meet begins on Wednesday!

Here's the link to my latest blog post, analyzing the group I Sussex Stakes on opening day: cs.bloodhorse.com/.../kingman-vs-toronado-at-glorious-goodwood.aspx

28 Jul 2014 6:47 PM
-Keelerman

Ranagulzion;

Terrific thoughts! I still believe that Social Inclusion will win a major stakes race someday, but I also believe that he will need the right circumstances in order to do so. In my opinion, he isn't as effective tracking the pace as he is setting or pressing it, and if this is the case, then his trip in the Haskell really wasn't ideal. Someday, I think he will find a graded stakes race in which he can easily establish command while setting moderate fractions, and from there, I believe the Social Inclusion of Gulfstream Park will return. Perhaps the Donn Handicap next February would be a good long-term target!

As for the Whitney, I believe that Palace Malice is ready for revenge against Will Take Charge, and that he will crush the Whitney field in a manner that will establish him as the clear-cut favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Actually, I believe he is on the verge of a summer/fall campaign that will propel him into the ranks of the all-time greats... although with that said, I have grown fonder and fonder of Game On Dude with every passing season, and I've got my fingers crossed that the fourth time will be the charm for him in the Breeders' Cup Classic!

28 Jul 2014 7:10 PM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

That is a funny comment from the result chart! I hadn't noticed it before!

The chart caller at the NYRA is truly amazing. The detail that he packs into the footnotes is fantastic! A tidbit like that can be very useful if one wasn't aware that Wicked Strong is typically washy during the warm-up.

28 Jul 2014 7:19 PM
-Keelerman

JayJay;

It's never too early to start projecting who might run in the Breeders' Cup Classic, if not simply because it's fun! I would love to see Lea, Imperative, Alpha, and Moonshine Mullin in the Classic as well, although that would put us past the fourteen-horse limit for the race... :)

28 Jul 2014 7:42 PM
Coldfacts

"Now Bayern has come to hand, and in his two last outings appears arguably to be the best 3YO in America right now.”

My knowledgeable fellow contributor you are certainly true to form. You have a tendency to rush to judgments after certain performances.

On the May 17th Bayern finished 9th in the Preakness against some top 3YOs. Three weeks later he romped in the Woody Stephens.  A further 7 weeks later he romps in the Haskell and based on those two performances he has elevated himself to the level of best 3YO in the country.

The Belmont was contested on the same day as the Woody Stephens. Bayern bypassed the marathon for the easier 7F, G2 contest. Wow! I wonder how he would have fared.

Any Given Saturday destroyed Derby runner-up Hard Spun and Preakness winner & Belmont runner-up Curlin in the Haskell. His 5L Victory must have indicated he was the top 3YO in the country. History indicates he was the #5 ranked colt at best despite his smashing victory in the Haskell.

My learned contributor I caution you to be more measured in your assessment of Bayern as he is a nice colt but certainly not the top 3YO in the country. He has not defeated any of the top 3YOs in the country and when he had the opportunity he was a no show.

Social Inclusion:

“1) He might have needed the race going into the Haskell”

Are you remotely aware that both Bayern and SI were on the same two race schedule ahead of the Haskell i.e., Preakness and Woody Stephens. Bayern didn’t appear to need the race. That excuse will not fly.

"4) He always appeared to be a more imposing and talented colt than Bayern but may have needed a bit more time being a May foal, therefore he can freak-perform at any time now."

Are you remotely aware that Lookin At Lucky, Hard Spun and Palace Malice are May foals. None of the aforementioned three recorded a track record in their 2nd start.

Social Inclusion problems do not rest with his foaling month. He is surrounded by clowns and they have transformed him into one. He is certainly attired like one on race days. I would suggest that you leave that colt alone until he is placed in the hands of a competent conditioner.

28 Jul 2014 8:38 PM
JayJay

Keelerman : Oh yeah, forgot about Lea.  I'm actually excited about Moonshine Mullin as well, I think he's a legit top horse...not so much about Alpha and Imperative.  

I'm happy to hear that Luis got the mount back.  I don't normally predict winners but I'm predicting now, today, that WTC wins the Whitney easily.  I'll say a widening 3 lengths, galloping home in 1:47 and change ! hehe

Coldfacts : About the only thing we agree on is how Ranagulzion gets all googlyeyed with horses who wins by many lengths without taking anything into account.

I do have to wonder about your comment on Bayern and I will quote you :

"  He has not defeated any of the top 3YOs in the country and when he had the opportunity he was a no show.  "

That is basically what I said about Kid Cruz but that wasn't acceptable to you.  Yet you say the same thing about Bayern, your friend said "arguably", he didn't say he IS the top 3YO.

28 Jul 2014 9:54 PM
Coldfacts

-Keelerman

Palace Malice:

"He will crush the Whitney field in a manner that will establish him as the clear-cut favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic”

Palace Malice has won 4 races against 4YOs that are not considered to be top class. Goldencents is probably the best he has faced and he has seems to settle for second every time he faces the starter.

On the basis of the competition he has faced, how can you objectively forecast he will crush the 2014 Whitney field?

How good is lea? He has only made two starts for new trainer Bill Mott and the last was a smashing track record over WTC who defeated PM the last two times they met.

Romansh has made two starts at Saratoga and has performed very well in both denoting he likes the surface. He was a late developing 3YO who could have a break out performance at the Spa. The 2013 Travers was his 5th start and he finished a creditable 5th. PM finished 4th with far more foundation. He will be cutting back from 10F to 9F where he should be more competitive.

WTC was defeated by a NTR and a NSR in two his five 2014 starts. He will enter the Whitney off a well deserved 7 weeks respite. His racing career was revived at the Spa subsequent to a rest and the removal of the blinkers. He has made 3 starts at the Spa and has run well on each occasion. He likes the surface and the distance is favorable for him.

Itmyluckyday has not lost since his 2014 debut where he finished 4th to Palace Malice. The Preakness runner-up has had time to mend and base on his 3YO form heading into the TC he is quite capable of springing an upset.

Zivo has won his last 6 starts with his latest victory coming in the Suburban over 10F.  How good is this 5YO? No one knows! He was produced from a Quiet American mare. Why is that significant? Try Bernardini and Saint Liam. He will be cutting back from 10F as well.

Moreno has ability but I inconsistent. He finished last in the Met Mile only to rebounce with a fighting 2nd in the Suburban. He should find 9F more favorable. He ran two great races at the Spa in 2013 and this colt could go all the way this time around.

Palace Malice was unplaced in the Derby and won a slowly run Belmont. He was unplaced in the BCC and now he has been transformed into a world beater with potential to be one of the all-time greats.

I cannot recall any Pletcher trained horse that is considered an all-time great.

28 Jul 2014 10:02 PM
-Keelerman

JayJay;

I agree that Alpha is really kind of a stretch for the Breeders' Cup Classic, but I've become a fan of his yearly epic runs at Saratoga and would love to see him participate in a fourth consecutive Breeders' Cup. As for Imperative, I want him in the Classic so that 'Dude can avenge his defeat in the Charles Town Classic. :)

Coldfacts;

Thanks for your thoughts! Those are valid points, but I have the feeling that Palace Malice is going to be even better this summer than he was earlier in the spring, and that we have not yet seen his very best. Three of his four starts this year have come at one mile, a distance that I believe is at least a furlong short of his best, and I'm confident he will relish the extended distances that he will find during the rest of his campaign.

Palace Malice strikes me as a tough-as-nails competitor that thrives on racing, and barring injury, it wouldn't surprise me to see him complete a sweep of the Whitney, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, which would give him seven consecutive victories for the year, including four of the most historic grade I races on the east coast. If he does achieve this feat, I believe that his accomplishments this year -- coupled with his Belmont Stakes victory from last year -- would be sufficient to earn him a spot among the greats of the sport. A victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (a much stiffer challenge, no doubt) could propel him into the stratosphere of superstars.

Granted, this is assuming a lot (actually, more than a lot!), but I really believe that Palace Malice has the potential to be a great horse, and I'm hopeful that he will take another major step toward achieving that status in the Whitney.

28 Jul 2014 10:43 PM
-Keelerman

Major news to report this morning: Social Inclusion has been transferred to the barn of Chad Brown.

29 Jul 2014 9:00 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman, Coldfacts --

That is heartening news about Social Inclusion.  I'm curious what signs of an expected turnaround you will look for.  

29 Jul 2014 9:24 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman,

I feel the same way about Palace Malice, and it's not just sentiment.  His BC showing came after a long, long campaign, and he was still a 3yo, while some people might forget he was still much second-best in the JCGC when Ron the Greek freaked.  You'll remember I was wary of him running a mile, and that's a hurdle he cleared impressively.  The slow Belmont was proof of his superiority at classic distances of course, because the half was one of the fastest ever, something Coldfacts will never acknowledge.  All that said, though I don't think he's a bad bet as the favorite in the Whitney (I don't see any specific vulnerability) I think I'll just be a rooting spectator to the race.  He had bad racing luck at Saratoga in the Travers last year and it can always happen again, or someone can step up.  

29 Jul 2014 9:33 AM
Coldfacts

-Keelerman

I appreciate your more measured comments. Let's compare Palace Malice to another talented horse conditioned by Mr. Pletcher

Quality Road started his 2010 campaign with three consecutive victories with one being a NTR in the Donn Handicap. Although he won one less race than PM before the Whitney, the Donn Handicap being a G1 carries more prestige than G3 Westchester & G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

After Quality's 3 victories he was viewed as the top dog in the 4YO and older horses category. He was the buzz horse who was expected to clean up all the top handicap races en route to the BCC.

The NY based QR was the ML favorite ahead of the Whitney. He was mowed down by the fast closing  Blame close home and was never the same horse thereafter. Not only was he beaten but it appeared his will was broken.

With Mr. Pletcher's horses one can never tell when their performances will suddenly go in the opposite direction. If history repeats itself as it normally does with his horses, Palace Malice will not be one of the top contenders for the BCC.

Palace Malice will not win the Whitney on the front end. He will obviously close off the pace. In his four victories he caught stamina challenged Goldencents, Declan Warrior and a not very  sound Normandy Invasion.

In those races he was the only horse that closed effectively to catch the leaders. In the Whitney he will possibly be tracking Lea, Merano, Romanch and Goldencents who are capable of carrying their speed for 9F on the speed favoring surface at the Spa.

If he is capable of getting on terms, he will have to contend with fellow closers WTC, Rivo and Itsmyluckyday. Palace Malice has never won a race where there are genuine 9F leaders and closers.

Good luck with your expectation. He may require a performance similar to that of Lawyer Ron to win.

29 Jul 2014 9:52 AM
Coldfacts

Rusty Weisner,

"His BC showing came after a long, long campaign, and he was still a 3yo"

Place Malice contested 9 races before his BCC effort. WTC likewise contested 9 races before his BCC effort. He finished  a close 2nd with his long campaign and PM finished down the track.

Clearly the long campaign is not the reason for his under performance. Check the history of his trainer in the re and it might provide an indicator.

WTC finished ahead of PM in the Derby. Palace Malice turned the tables in the Belmont. It should be noted that WTC contested the Preakness whereas Palace Malice bypassed it.

The rubber match came in the Jim Dandy where PM got home by a diminishing length. WTC turn the tables in the Travers and continued his obvious superiority in the BCC.

Despite these cold facts PM is one forecast to be the dominant 4YO. What am I missing?

"He had bad racing luck at Saratoga in the Travers last year"

He barely won the Jim Deny from a fast closing WTC. I guess his luck was good in that race. Exceptional horses make their own luck and if that isn't possible they find ways to win despite adversities.

29 Jul 2014 10:13 AM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

LOL.  Uh, aren't you kind of forgetting what WTC and PM have done as four-year olds?  Get up to speed on that.

29 Jul 2014 11:08 AM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

I'm hoping to see some longer, somewhat slower workouts from Social Inclusion, including a few from the starting gate. A drop in class would also be a positive sign, although from what I've read, it sounds like Social Inclusion will still be targeting some of the biggest races in the country. A run in the Travers wouldn't surprise me, although another approach (if they want to give him a confidence-booster) would be to run him in an allowance race at Saratoga around the same time as the Travers, then point to the Pennsylvania Derby one month later as a prep for the Breeders' Cup.

In any case, it's going to be fascinating to see how this unfolds!

29 Jul 2014 11:11 AM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

Just so this argument doesn't go on pointlessly, let me apologize in advance: of course WTC was the better horse last year. I was just referring to last year because I think everything PM did predicted the kind of year he is having and should continue to have this year, particularly a strength at the classic distances, as evidenced by the Belmont and JCGC, if not the BCC. WTC has had problems, beaten in a slow Stephen Foster and a weak G2.

29 Jul 2014 11:15 AM
Rusty Weisner

I was getting ahead of myself hoping Bayern would run in the Travers.  It's either that or the Pennsylvania Derby, according to reports today.  I have a hard time believing he'll be in the Travers.

29 Jul 2014 12:14 PM
Coldfacts

This is my final submission on PM/WTC

WTC started his 4YO campaign in the G1 Donn, whereas PM started his in the G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. WTC then shipped across the country to contest the G1 SA Handicap. PM’s next start was in the G2 New Orleans Handicap.  

The G1 Donn was won in a NTR and the Big Cap in a NSR. Do you realize how hard WCT had to run to get to the leaders in his first two starts of the year? Palace Malice had two relatively easy races. WTC has contested three G1 races in his 5 starts whereas PM has contested one in his four.

The fact that WTC regressed after his first two starts is understandable. The winner of the Donn has not been seen since and the winner of the Big Cap was beaten in his two subsequent starts.

To compare  the 2014 records of the two 4YOs on the basis of victories and defeats without considering the mitigating circumstances would give rise to the conclusion that PM is the better 4YO.

Social Inclusion:

I would have preferred either Mr Mott or Mr Jones as the new conditioner. Their records of turning around talented horse, supersedes that of Mr Brown. Irrespective, the colt has been given a new lease on life with the change.

29 Jul 2014 12:34 PM
Brontexx

Brown is too far behind Pletcher I would think to catch up at Saratoga in wins, but Bloodhorse has reported that a phone call has gained him the talents of SI for his barn.

BTW Bayern won the Haskell setting the pace from the inside that the others that were capable didnt really challenge.Baffert has won this race 7 times and although I dont remember who the others were I would venture to guess they were mostly early presser types.

I still believe that SI is a better 9 furlong and up horse than Bayern.Verazano anexed the same race and he is now considered a miler after all the trial and error of his human connections.

29 Jul 2014 1:27 PM
Brontexx

I dont think the trial and error of the trainers isnt influenced by a very strong emotion that all humans experience in some degree including racehorse owners and trainers.

So while Verrazano might have shown his distance limitations in the mornings the greed clouded the decision making process as well as optimisim.

If you think that the trainers know how to train every animal that they get then the PPs have confused you to the point you abstract what is actually happening and think of everything happening on a PIECE OF PAPER IN YOUR HANDICAPPING WORLD.

29 Jul 2014 2:10 PM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

You're right.  I was completely forgetting the way WTC started the year.  

29 Jul 2014 2:13 PM
SoloSolo

Loved the comments about Palace Malice, and agree completely.  There is a news story about Cot Campbell that just came out and I posted this comment:  "If you are reading this, Mr. Campbell, thank you for mapping out such a classic, and classy, schedule for PM.  Racing at Saratoga, in the JCGC, Met Mile and the Breeder's Cup are races that define a champion.  This reminds me of Curlin's campaign in 2007-2008.   A huge Curlin fan,  I eagerly follow his progeny and loved the back story about Palace Rumor, PM's dam.  Good luck with this fine colt--I'll be rooting (and betting) for him."  And I'm pleased that SI has gone to Chad Brown.

29 Jul 2014 4:29 PM
Brontexx

SoloBolo Good luck at the track sir or shud I say on your keyboard at one of your ADW accounts.

29 Jul 2014 4:58 PM
Ranagulzion

Carlos in Cali:

Trust me friend, I know a good horse when I see one and Social Inclusion is a very good horse. I'm sure that many considered Bayern a bust and overrated after the Preakness (I did) but the Trainer found a way to bring him to show his true mettle. With the welcome change in trainer FOR SI I'll stick by my estimation of his talent.

29 Jul 2014 6:39 PM

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