Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

28 August 2011

End of the season shuffle

Another grade one race for three year old colts and yet another winner to join the crowded club for 2011. With the Travers having the distinction of being the last grade one on the books exclusively for the sophomore class and no one creating some distance from the competition, it will be a mad scramble to the end of the year to decide the championships. In this case chaos is good. Uncle Mo did not win the King’s Bishop and if anything may be back for a shot at redemption at four years old, seeing how his three-year-old season has turned into a wash. Shackleford was less than a length away from clinching the division title back on July 31st and now is back in a tie with the rest of the division. Stay Thristy is the resurgent force of the division with two recent wins and was a close second in the Belmont. With the magic number set at two grade one wins, the whole lot is stuck at one.

The parity trend is not isolated to the three-year-old males, the filly counterparts went from a division that was It’s Tricky’s to capture back into a group that any able bodied filly can win if they get on a hot streak. Turbulent Descent probably benefits the most from last week’s upheaval, as she is a multiple graded stakes winner this year. She may only need the rest of the division to trade off victories or loses to the older fillies in the fall stakes races and a Breeders’ Cup win in order to clinch. It’s Tricky remains closer to the honors than the rest of the fillies and a win against older fillies would likely grab the title.

Tizway is the default leader of the older males with wins in the Met Mile and Whitney, one more grade one and he gets the trophy with little resistance. The rest of the elder colts and geldings in that group are a jumbled mess and wins by a combination of any of them probably won’t do much to uproot the current leader.

The horse of the year championship is a four-way race at this point. Cape Blanco has two major victories stateside and a third one could get him the nod. Tizway will probably need one or two more major victories. Then there is the predicament of Havre De Grace and Blind Luck.

These two fillies have faced off against each other throughout various points in the past two years and have traded decisions with a narrow margin of victory almost every time. Havre De Grace is on target for the Woodward this upcoming Saturday at Saratoga and Havre De Grace has two races left on the schedule for the remainder of the season. If Havre De Grace wins against the males and it is a taxing effort like the one Rachel Alexandra put forth in her conquest of this race the important question is do you put her away for the year or squeeze one more race out of her for the year? Blink Luck could run the table and easily take the Horse of the Year honors away for Havre De Grace.

It is unprecedented that a filly or mare has won the Horse of the Year honors for three straight seasons and it may happen this year with the way the division races have shaped up. While horses trading decisions for the past eight months is not the most thrilling of things to follow throughout the year, it does provide for an interesting finish to a season filled with parity.

27 August 2011

A photo finish is worth three words

18 August 2011

Where’s the media circus?

It’s Tricky is in a position to sweep a prestigious series of three races that has been a staple of North American racing for the past 54 years, the Triple Tiara. A horse has not swept the three race series since its “classic” configuration back in 1993 when Sky Beauty won the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks. The list of fillies that have done this feat reads as a veritable all-star team of hall of fame inductees Dark Mirage, Shuvee, Chris Evert, Ruffian, Dovona Dale, Mom’s Command, Open Mind, and Sky Beauty. The question worth asking is why isn’t It’s Tricky getting more mainstream coverage? Any time a male counterpart captures the Derby and Preakness, there is a media circus surrounding the final leg of the Triple Crown.

The short answer to the question above is it’s tricky. The long answer is that in the past eight years they have had three different configurations to the series. 2002 played out the string of 45 years of consistent scheduling for the classic series. In 2003 the Alabama was placed in the set displacing the Acorn and a bonus of two million dollars was put in place for anyone who won all three races, that bonus lasted until 2005 with no one grabbing the brass ring. From 2007 to 2009, the series returned to its original alignment. The most recent incarnation of the series started last year with two out of three of the races being held at Saratoga the Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama.

The changes made to the series combined with the lack of incentives to run the table has hurt the series. The Triple Tiara starts on the Belmont Stakes day or after it depending on the version you are looking at, not exactly a way that the casual betting public will latch on to the event. On Wikipedia in the Triple Tiara article there is mention of a national racing series for three years old fillies:
“In recent years, many owners and trainers of fillies have submitted proposals to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to change the three races that compose the Triple Tiara. Although a great deal of prestige is attached to winning one or more of the current Triple Tiara races, all three are held at the same track at Belmont Park in the New York City area, because of this, the series is skewed to fillies that race in the northeast. Some from outside the area even modify the name of the series by calling it the "New York Triple Tiara."

Several options of races have been suggested to compose the "National Triple Tiara." The most popular proposal of races to compose a "Triple Tiara" series are The Kentucky Oaks, run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland; and The Acorn Stakes, run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. A second proposal has been to use the Kentucky Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and the Mother Goose Stakes. This version would allow more time for fillies to recuperate between races. Using the Mother Goose would also allow the NYRA to keep its three races in place as its own series without interfering with the three National races.

These races in the most popular proposal are near equal distance to their Triple Crown counterparts except for the Acorn, which is at a distance of one mile as opposed to the Belmont's mile-and-a-half distance. This series is thought to be a better choice for the Triple Tiara series, seeing that the three races are considered the most popular races for fillies. Each race receives considerable national network coverage, as it is run within 24 hours of the marquee event at each track.”
The idea I have for changing the series would fall under the same type of guise with the Kentucky Oaks leading off and the Mother Goose in the mix. Where I vary is including the Coaching Club American Oaks in the series. Having the Black Eyed Susan would be too close to the Oaks and if the Oaks winner does not win the race in Pimlico, they will likely skip the Acorn or Belmont in preparation for the Saratoga meet. The same could be said for the winner of the Black Eyed Susan going forward. My version of the Series would be the Kentucky Oaks, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks with some monetary bonus to any filly that can sweep the series. A bonus to a points leader if at the end of the three races like they used to have with the Chrysler Triple Crown Bonus would be awarded as well. The races would be roughly a month apart and would have a race on Derby weekend and one at Saratoga, plenty of spacing between starts and top notch venues throughout the series; the best of both worlds.

The colts and geldings have the traditional three races in five weeks that captures the attention of the racing and sports public, the fillies should have something like this to showcase the best of their generation. Changing the Triple Crown would be near sacrilege at this point and the money in breeding and seven figure purses are more than enticing to the connections of the three years old colts and geldings participating. The good thing about starting up a three year old filly series now is a clean slate on which you can create a set of races that will have large competitive fields with no excuse outside of injury for all capable fillies to run in.

11 August 2011

No surprise here

Santa Anita is getting the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, Mike Repole and Steven Crist are upset about this. As Crist points out, this will be the third time in five years that southern California track has hosted the event. What he failed to pointed out is the ten year gap that Santa Anita did not host the event from 1993 to 2003 and in a ten year span from 1995 to 2005 Belmont Park played host three times. What comes around goes around.

It seems as though Breeders’ Cup officials have been leery of having the two-day race card at an East Coast racetrack since the weekend deluge that befell Monmouth Park in 2007 and the tragic breakdown of George Washington that occurred in the Classic. Weather on the Atlantic side of the country in the fall has been hit or miss at it’s best, it is chilly and dry or chilly and raining. The West Coast is attractive to the owners because of the warm weather and lack of rain in the area during that time of the year. It is the same reason that owners will probably continue to choose sending horse down to Gulfstream over Aqueduct even after the purses are increased with the slot machines opening soon. Kentucky is the other default choice because the breeders can show off their breeding stock around the same time there is an auction at Keeneland.

The New York Racing Association released its fall and winter stakes schedule on Wednesday. The most noticeable of the changes to the schedule is the Nashua and Tempted stakes being moved to Belmont in early October. The pair of juvenile stakes races are now at the sprint distance of six furlongs so it can be used as prep races for the newly created Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Once again NYRA has to bend its schedule to the will of the Breeders’ Cup, last year the Kelso Stakes was moved to the dirt at the mile distance as a prep race for the Dirt Mile. This took away from the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which Tizway competed in the year before and probably would have entered in again along with Regal Ransom and Mythical Power. Instead of a six horse Jockey Club Gold Cup, it would have been a nine-horse field at the minimum.

The New York Racing Association used to have one of, if not the best stakes schedule out of all the North American racetrack circuits. The Breeders’ Cup has taken away from NYRA and other racetracks in the name of the prep for the big payday. Not only that, but they also have specialized every division by bumping the event to two days and 15 races, when it used to be seven races in one day. The Breeders’ Cup has become an unwieldy beast that feasts off of other racetracks for their product.

05 August 2011

Grade 1 double dip

The Test and Whitney Stakes are the featured attractions as races nine and ten on the Saturday card. Both have a solid group of runners entered to run and very little in the way of toss out runners. In other words, these are two really good betting races.

Test Stakes

The early pace of the Prioress Stakes back on July 4th was white hot and set up for the likes of Pomeroys Pistol and Her Smile to finish 1-2. Without the likes of Alienation and Quantum Miss entered in here, it could give Roman Treasure the chance to get away to a comfortable early lead.

It goes without saying that the Acorn has developed into a key race, the winner went on to capture the Coaching Club American Oaks and Her Smile won the Prioress off of this race. California invader Turbulent Descent was a sixty five cents on the dollar favorite in this race and will undoubtedly take a lot of money here too. Leaving her out of the various multiple race wagers would be a mistake.

Wagering Strategy:
Win, Place 3
Exacta Box 3/6-7-8
Daily Double (linking races 9 and 10) 3-6/3-4-6-10-11

Whitney Invitational Handicap

The older male division reflects the three year old division, that is to say it is a wide open mess with everyone staking a claim that their steed is the best of the generation. That is why there are 11 runners assembled for the 84th running of this prestigious race won by greats such as Alydar, Personal Ensign, and Easy Goer.

The Stephen Foster already produced one winner in a graded stakes race in NY when Flat Out decimated a field of six in the Suburban. Giant Oak, Mission Impazible, Apart, and Duke of Mischief all exit this race. Mission Impazible was hung wide out of post 11 and up on the early pace throughout only lose by a neck to a longshot. Mission Impazible's best races are the 9 furlong distance, his recent works look good, the connections are hot, and he has tactical speed to sit off the early pace to make a run.

Wagering Strategy:
Win, Place 6
Exacta Box 6/3-4-10-11