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Friday, May 14, 2010

Super Enough

Sorry for the sparse posting this week, but I'm just not too hepped up over this Preakness. The Derby was lackluster to begin with, and its running left us with one underwhelming winner and a whole bunch of excuses, whether trip or track condition-related. The runner-up, who many feel was the best horse in the race (others might point to the favorable pace scenario which helped set up his late run), is waiting for the Belmont (and man, will he ever be overbet there). And the newcomers just do not impress. Caracortado, arguably the classiest of the group as the only graded stakes winner, has only raced once on dirt, and that in a 40K maiden claimer in his debut at Fairplex last year.

I devoted some energy here to disparaging the Derby winner's effort, noting his trouble-free trip and the very slow final half of the race. Pace fig impresario Randy Moss noted in his blog last week that Super Saver is tied with Alysheba for 5th for what he calls the "slowest stretch run" going back 24 Derbys to 1987. (Of course, Alysheba clipped heels and almost went down at the top of the stretch.)

And Andy Beyer cites Super Saver's perfect trip in once again leaving him out of his top three selections.

I feel obligated to take a position against him, and plenty of serious handicappers will surely think the same way, for it almost always is a good strategy to play against a favorite who benefited from a perfect trip in his previous start. [DRF]
Perhaps because I don't qualify as a "serious handicapper," I'm going to think a different way in this case. While I generally agree with the principle that Beyer states, I think this is a case where one can turn that logic completely around. For a colt who clearly seems to be on an upswing, the Derby was a relatively easy race which should leave him fresh, fit, and ready to continue to progress to another career best race despite the short two week turnaround. You don't need Trakus in this case to know that he took the shortest route of any of the 20 horse field, and experienced no traffic nor trauma that could effect him physically or mentally here. Whatsmore, you gotta love the versatility and tractability he showed with the way that he, and jockey Borel, have changed tactics over their last two races; from speedball, to stalker, to a horse who comfortably took back several lengths off the hot pace.

While the connections of some of these may be concerned about a slow pace, Pletcher's colt seems adaptable to any scenario, and it wouldn't be surprising in this case to see him closely pressing whoever default to the front. As far as his slow come-home time at Churchill, one could at least partially chalk that up to the conditions. Seems that some are assuming that the sloppy conditions helped his cause, but a look at his past performances reveals no particular preference either way. And while the mile and a quarter distance may very well have been the real culprit, remember that he won't quite have to run that far this time. I expect that he'll be in front turning for home, and who in this group is going to catch him?

Well, a lot of people apparently think that Lookin At Lucky will, which could make the Derby winner a decent value wager in the win pool. He still brings the most accomplished resume, and he certainly had valid excuses for his sixth place finish at Louisville. I agree that one can make a very strong case for him here with the assumption that things are due to fall his way with a better post and a smaller field. But personally, I'm just not feeling it. Call it a gut feeling or whatever, I just don't like him here. For a horse who was so accomplished as a juvenile, bottom line is that he just has not stepped up with the kind of improvement one would like to see at three. His one win came in a Rebel from which little good has emerged; none of the runners have seen the winner's circle since. And while one can attribute his two subsequent defeats to bad luck, another way of looking at it is that he just has not progressed to the point where he has the ability, agility or mental toughness to overcome his troubles. Maybe that's a stretch, but as undervalued as I think he will be, seems an easy and logical stance to take.

Looking at some of the others:

Aikenite and Pleasant Prince rallied from far back for the second and third spots in the Derby Trial, but what does that one turn mile race have to do with this? Besides, if you think the Derby fell apart, take a look at the splits for that race: first have in 45 1/5, second in 50 4/5. Pleasant Prince might take some money off that nose loss to Ice Box in the Florida Derby in his pp's, but, as I implied above, I think that colt's Derby is being overrated; and the Gulfstream race is another from which little good has emerged.

Schoolyard Dreams is a little interesting if you take the trainer's word that he was adversely effected by a virus in the Wood. (Why then did he run if he was ill in the first place?) He'd shown some decent improvement and beat Super Saver at Tampa. But as I've mentioned in the past, can't too excited considering he got beat in the Wood by Awesome Act, the latest in my own personal series of desultory Derby wagers. So I'm gonna pass on him. Jackson Bend and Dublin can both be excused for their Derbies (in fact, the sloppy track is a universal excuse); but tough to get excited over this duo given their combined 0-for-8 records at three, not to mention the poor post draw for the latter.

Paddy O'Prado was kind of a "good thing" horse in the Derby, bet down under his 20-1 morning line as he was, and backing it up with his third place finish. He may have relished the mud though given the excellent work he posted the week before. He stayed out of enough trouble to rally for third as the race fell least that's the way I look at it. As third choice in the morning line, little value to be had for a horse who has still never raced on a fast dirt surface.

Yawanna Twist is a horse who I think could spice up the exotics. He's making just his fifth career start.....which actually might be a good thing as, unlike many of the others, he has yet to fully establish mediocrity. He stepped up seamlessly from NY-breds to graded stakes company with pretty solid efforts in the Gotham and Illinois Derby, and has tactical speed and a good post from which to establish a favorable position. Not flashy pedigree wise as a son of Yonaguska, a sire whose progeny win at an average distance of 6 1/4 furlongs, out of a mare by Oliver's Twist, an obscure son of Horatius who stands in Colorado. He does have Dutrow in his corner though; and if that trainer has been quiet lately, it's because he reportedly donated his ego to be used as a giant containment dome in the latest effort to contain the oil spilling into the gulf. (I told you I'm not that serious.)

Picks: Super Saver, Yawanna Twist, Dublin


Figless Anon said...

LAL,SS,Dublin, do not waste your time looking for a long shot to spice up the exotics from the new comers, they are not worthy.

Focus on Dublin and maybe Jackson Bend to provide some value, they at least qualified for the Derby, have top connections and had excuses.

Think Gomez is motivated this week? I do.

onecalicocat said...

Anyone have anything good to say about First Dude?
His trainer seems to think he has great potential and is about to demonstrate it.

In a race like this, a longshot isn't a bad idea but Lucky deserves a good trip for once.

Anonymous said...

Lucky is a fucking pussy. Isn't it obvious by now? The horse is damaged goods. I hope they pound the crap out of him at the windows. Derby winner with 2,3,5,9 in every which way. -jp

Anonymous said...

Now that the Cup finals are in sight, any comments?

steve in nc said...

Ah, it's the kind of Preakness that's already leading some to think about hockey.

Great rundown, Alan, and as an overly serious recreational player, I agree with your takes on SS and Lucky, and I'm not hot on Caracortado either.

I'd skip the race entirely except for the look of Aikenite on Sheets. His race before the BC last year got a really big # (he was 5 wide), and he had at least minor excuses in the 3 races that followed (not that the excuses mean much to me - his failure to come back to that good race for so long raises serious questions).

But he did finally top that number and go slightly past in his Derby Trial. In fact, it has the best Sheet # of any of the field's last race. Pace players will discount it but I won't because he closed off a very moderate pace earning his best 2YO #. I'm more worried about a bounce, given his reaction to the 2YO top.

But if he can even pair the #, he's got a big shot, and in a race like this, I'd rather take a small flyer keying a 20-1 shot than be "serious" about any of the low price horses. I'll leave that to a "serious" pundit like Beyer who is seriously in the red with his published picks in big races.

Aikenite has a switch to a more aggressive rider and gets the rail. I think he lays midpack off a moderate pace and will be in decent closing position going into the turn.

Picks: Aikenite, Super Saver and ??

Figless Anon - you're right that the newcomers haven't showed as much. But assuming you'll always get repeats of the past guarantees only low prices. Correctly predicting change is where the money lies.

Gomez wasn't motivated by the Derby? He's a good rider who gets great horses. But he's got an overraced closer from post 12 on a track with tight turns. Given the attention to his rides on Lucky, he will have extra motivation to stay wide and out of trouble, and I think he'll lose enough ground to matter even if Dublin has one more decent effort left in him this spring.

onecalico - maybe Romans is right, but all trainers are hot on their horses in the Crown races.

steve in nc said...

Just looked back at Beyer's column and it scares me - he picked Aikenite second as a plausible longshot. But he does have Lucky on top and Dublin third. I'm hoping he touts boxing the exacta and trifecdta so he doesn't jinx my ticket.

Anonymous said...

Dutrow quiet? He's what, sixth in national earnings, which ain't too shabby when your most accomplished horses at this point in May are a pair of three year-old sprinters.

Anonymous said...

--Dutrow quiet?

I think Alan was talking about his big fucking mouth.

Unknown said...

Alan - I think you're underestimating Jackson Bend here. Let's use the old cross-out method. Last out on slop. 20 horse cluster f#%#. Cross out. Previous two, second place finisher to pre-race Derby favorite. Fountain of Youth came back strong. Track at Aqueduct was, I am convinced, not fast day of Wood. Not off, but not fast either.

1st start this year ran a credible 2nd to a good field in a one turn mile from the 9 hole at Gulfstream.

He's going to be 20-1, I think. And may get a chance to control the pace w/a good break.

El Angelo said...

I give First Dude a huge chance to hit the board at a price. I like LAL to win, and disagree on Caracortado. His maiden win was long enough ago that it's irrelevant and he may move forward going back to dirt. At 12-1 he's kind of interesting.

I blogged this elsewhere but the Preakness is not the place to look for an upset on top. Underneath, that's a other story.

Anonymous said...

Geez, talk about a big mouth, maybe yours needs some soap!

Anonymous said...

Haha, winners have the right to a big mouth in this or any game, douchebag.

Anonymous said...

Skip Away dead :(

-Bank Check

Anonymous said...

Don't be surprised if Lookin at Lucky is maybe a slight, slight favorite tomorrow. LAL and SS are both 9-5 in early wagering and LAL is favored in the Black Eyed Susan/preakness double will pays. To me at least, if I had to throw out one of the two I would throw out LAL. Not much early speed in this race and SS figures to sit a great trip and get first run on a slightly speed favoring track in general. Maybe after tomorrow people will realize that Garrett Gomez wasn't the problem, the horse itself (LAL) is the problem ! Super Savor in an exacta key box with Schoolyard Dreams, caracortado and Dublin !


Anonymous said...

West Coast Exacta.


(and for the record I think Gomez is the best big race jock.)

Figless Anon said...

Steve, better a short price than a long face, the old axiom, rings true here.

The change here is that LAL finally gets lucky, and possibly Dublin gets second over the Derby winner. Keying LAL over those two, not spreading, should provide some value and I will play enough to make the wager worthwhile.

I generally try to beat chalk, but I am very confident these are the three best horses so it is play big or pass.

I believe Aikenite will be last early and pass a few tired ones simply because so many of these imposters will not get the distance. If I was expanding to superfectas I would include in the 4th slot with Jackson Bend. But he really did no running in the Trial and I can not take him seriously as a win or place factor.

Dutrow won the BES today which gives me reason for pause but I just do not see his NY Bred getting the distance.

Happy everyone returned safe from the scary spill today, my key horse went down but thems the breaks, at least they all live to fight another day.

Figless Anon said...

Regarding immediately preceding comment, I hereby plead guilty of CWI, Commenting While Intoxicated.

Came home last night with a few drinks in me and worse without past performances in front of me and therefore mixed up my Derby Trial contestants.

All of my above commentary regarding Aikenite should instead refer to Pleasant Prince.

As for Aikenite, I understand your case for him Steve, but I believe he has distance limitations like most of the others in here so he will not be on my ticket.

He has failed to gain ground in the stretch in 3 of his 4 races over one mile, and his sire was a pure sprinter.

I also suspect he might be better on AWT despite his failing in the Blue Grass.

I believe that he will rate but will not be as far back as PP who will be last, he will likely be mimicking LAL's strategy but will flatted out when the serious running begins.

The fact that in eight races he has been beaten by at least five of his competitors and has only beaten one, Pleasant Prince, indicates he simply does not class up at this level.

All that written, I understand you are not exactly screaming from the hilltops " I love this horse".

You are simply trying to uncover the one long shot that might be sitting on a move forward and create some value, a puzzle half of the handicapping world is wrestling with this morning.

Appreciate you sharing your "sheets" analysis to the race but I just feel that after 8 starts he is what he is, a decent horse that might be a tad distance challenged based on his sire, who even if he does have a move forward in him might still hit the wall in the stretch.

Good luck and thanks for the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Dirty, do you always just blindly pick the west coast horses? Cause that's all I ever see from you. That and a lot of profanity. Your bud, jp

steve in nc said...

Hey Figless. You're pretty cogent while intoxicated even if you mixed up the horses! Just don't "CIW" from your blackberry while you're driving.

I agree with you about Pleasant Prince - an outside contender to clunk up. I'm using underneath in tris & SF.

FWIW, the lead guy at the sheets likes LaL and Dub a lot better than I do (and that may be worth plenty - he gave out the Black Eyed Susan winner on his website yesterday). But we agree that Jackson Bend is one of the first (only?) tossouts in the race.

Yes, Aikenite is a question mark at this distance but he sure improved once put around 2 turns and has Saint Ballado on the bottom. SS didn't look like he could close before the Derby either.

As for the dirt/poly issue, his sheet top came last race in mud, and the last GP race got a pretty solid figure. On 20-1 shots, usually I have to eat my tickets as well as my words. But I'm singling him in P4 to try for the big one. And in P3, I'll also use SS, Schoolyard, and Yawanna. Since we'll be playing against each other in the Preakness, I'll wish you luck in the prior races.

ballyfager said...

Well, they're pretty evenly matched. Not very good, but evenly matched. If Yawanna Twist even finishes on the board, that would be a tipoff as to just how bad this crop is.

I thought from the start that Lookin At Lucky would be favored. He's got the best overall record. Super Saver's record away from CD is unremarkable

If it weren't a Triple Crown race I would just turn the page. But it is, so I won't.

There's no reason to think that Caracortado can't run on dirt since he's already won on it. He's got an excellent recent 7f work. His pp's look competitve with this bunch. I'll take a shot with him.
Caracortado,Lookin At Lucky, Pleasant Prince, Dublin.

P.S. I'm picking these horses in spite of Dirty Shirt, not because of him. He's not a handicapper, he's a rooter who should stick to football or something other than racing.

Jim O said...

Alan said:

Call it a gut feeling or whatever, I just don't like him here. For a horse who was so accomplished as a juvenile, bottom line is that he just has not stepped up with the kind of improvement one would like to see at three.

My one word reply: Birdsone.

Figless Anon said...

Steve, interesting he likes Dublin a little (not that I lend any credence to it of course :o) ), watched his Derby again and he certainly had his share of trouble, was right there turning for home.

However, I feel obligated to point out that the same fault for which I criticize Aikenite is also trait of his, not passing anyone in the stretch of any of his races greater than one mile, and the outside post keeps him out of the win slot on my ticket.

In attempt to be open minded I gave a long second look at Caracotado for all the reasons Bally mentions but his pedigree does not exactly scream out distance, pass, let him beat me.

Time to shake off this hangover and head out for the action, good luck everyone, especially chalk eating weasels like myself(at least today)!

ballyfager said...

Well, I said this morning if Yawanna Twist finished on the board it would be a tacit indictment of the whole crop. He did.

He's lightly raced as are many of them. So maybe he's better than I thought. But until this group shows more than they have so far, I'll give all of them the fisheye.

Figless Anon said...

Really looking forward the the Belmont!!!!!!!!....undercard.

Ice Box will be 3-5.

Looks like Lucky is best of a bad crop, perfect trip, workmanlike, perhaps he wins the Derby if it doesnt rain and he draws a better post, but no way was he winning the Triple Crown. No turn of foot, just a nice horse, nothing special.

Horrible ride by Borel not that I think it mattered.

Anonymous said...

Interesting observation by S Crist;

*Jackson Bend gave his all to be third, beaten less than two lengths. Given his pair of nine-length defeats to Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth and Wood, I can't help thinking that if Eskendraya had stayed sound, we might well be looking at a runaway Derby-Preakness winner going for a Crown this year.

Anonymous said...

I just want to congratulate and thank Tom Durkin for another great race call in today's Preakness. Accurate, concise, just the right feel for the dramatic, he is one of thisw sport's genuine treasures.
Mike D.

Anonymous said...

Great article by Jay Cronley of talking about how Donna Brothers (reporter on horseback) just happened to mention AS the horses were loading into the gate for the race that "Super Saver looks like he is noticeably lighter since his last race 2 weeks ago."

2 hours of useless television coverage leading up to the race asking Baffert in 12 diff ways why he replaced gomez and then as they are loading up.... by the way Super Saver looks terrible ... Got to love it !!!!

I totally missed First Dude but he looks like he has a nice future... Big horse with a lot of speed who can carry that speed for a long long way...


Alan Mann said...

>>2 hours of useless television coverage leading up to the race asking Baffert in 12 diff ways why he replaced gomez and then as they are loading up.... by the way Super Saver looks terrible ... Got to love it !!!!

Well put, GW! I had to laugh when I heard that...though only because I didn't bet the race too seriously.

Figless Anon said...

Brothers also mentioned that Dublin has a habit of "breaking right" and "getting out", which could be a major problem since there was no room to the right of PP12 except the outer rail. Of course he did and almost ran over the outrider (umm, perhaps they dont want him to stand there next year if there is a full field, btw).

More information from her in the thirty seconds alotted than from the rest of the broadcast, albeit too late for anyone to do anything with said info.

Anonymous said...

And btw, all the oh so valuable workout reports indicated SS was doing well and bounced out of the Derby fine, not a single one mentioned lost weight.

Alan Mann said...

Of course, that was just one person's observation, and as much as I do respect her opinion (she's clearly the best on TV in that role), I'd like to see someone in the press put the question to Pletcher.

Anonymous said...

JP, our resident clown, strikes again with his expert advice. He's become the best fade out there.

Ballyfag, if you can locate one post where you've given a winner this year i'll gladly take a month off.


Anonymous said...

Dirty, your comments are becoming increasingly embarrassing -- for yourself. Warm regards, jp

PS: Tell me who do you like in the Belmont? Wait, let me guess...the west coast horses. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Eskendereya would have crushed every horse in this race, and every horse in training now, including Zenyatta.