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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Previewing the F&M Turf, Ladies Classic (With a New Toy)

I scored Sheets for the Breeders' Cup. And though it was specifically in response to me saying that the presence of European horses made many BC races a guess (I'm told that the Ragozin numbers for the European races are good, and it's the first direct figure comparison of our horses to theirs that I've ever seen), I'm gonna look at them for all the races (especially in cases when they reinforce my own opinion). Not that I'm thriving with my normal style these days anyway. I may not be familiar with the finer points. For example, while I might interpret the 5 by Havre De Grace after two 0's as a mere bounce from which she can and should completely recover, a couple of veteran Sheets guys I know say that it's more likely that she's done. However, I can surely look and determine which horses are simply faster than others (or better yet, which horses taking money are slower than others who are not).

So, with that partially in mind, let's start getting to the races that I like as betting contests (which presently excludes all the 2yo races, the Marathon [too long] and the Turf Sprint [too short]). In the F&M Turf, Nahrain (7-2) looks for her fifth career win in as many starts, and Frankie Dettori will ride (he's suspended starting on Saturday). I have to admit that this is in part a sentimental pick. Three-year old daughter of Selkirk got me out on my last bet on my recent visit to Longchamps on Arc day. Wasn't just that she won me money though, it was the way she did so that's won me over. Trapped down on the rail in the stretch, and foiled on several attempts to find running room, Nahrain showed ample persistence and determination when she finally burst through, surged to the lead, and somehow held off the older and more seasoned Announce (9-2) in her first ten furlong try (and first beyond a mile-70 yds). Still looks to me that the latter got the nod when I watch the race, but I guess it's those French camera angles. Announce actually earned a 4 on the Sheets, as opposed to the winner's 5 (lower numbers are better as you may know), with Nahrain saving ground throughout. But neither the Sheets nor the Beyers take heart into account, and Nahrain showed a lot of it, especially for such a young filly. Tries another furlong here, but don't see why it would be a big problem.

Darley homebred has improved every time, whether you look at Sheets or whatever it is those numbers are in the Form, and any further improvement would surely put her right there.

Announce is obviously tough too off that effort in the Prix de l'Opera, and has won from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half (and even a mile and 9/16). So she can definitely get the mile and 3/8 distance, and has what (I think) is a nice pattern of improvement on the Sheets. Been a fairly busy year with six starts since May, but I think she could move forward too, and can easily win this race. Will surely be saving in the exacta with her on top.

Stacelita seems clearly the best of the US runners, and has been installed as the solid 2-1 morning line favorite. Don't really have anything bad to say about her either. She was a close second herself in the Prix de l'Opera, last year, so surely matches up on class. Her US form for trainer Chad Brown is obviously quite good. As far as the Sheets go, I think she can run a 4 here, which would likely put her right there should the two European fillies not improve. The one maybe possible chink for this German-bred five-year old mare is the fact that she did weaken a bit in the final furlong on firm turf at this distance in the United Nations at Monmouth, her US debut. Maybe that's a stretch....but in any event, I'd try to beat her on price and limit her to defensive use should she be bet to her morning line, as I don't think she at all stands out as those odds would indicate.

Misty For Me (10-1) is a four-time Group 1 winner in the UK and France; including a six length win over Midday, who's 4-1 in the Turf. Bad post here, but surely wouldn't be a shocker; good value at those odds. Dubawi Heights (8-1) has progressed extremely well in her four-year old year as she's climbed the class ladder and stretched out in distance. Her Beyers have steadily improved, and she paired up career best 6's on the Sheets. I think that's good, right? Either of these could add some spice to triples.

In the Ladies Classic, Ultra Blend (8-1) fires every time; she is as consistent and game as they come. This mare has really embraced the game at age five, stepping up seamlessly from state-bred stakes to Grade 1 company in California. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's a bit of a leap of faith to think that the East Coast three-year olds are such a cut above this horse, as indicated by the morning line. She goes second off a brief layoff for trainer Art Sherman. He's campaigned Ultra Blend in two race sequences in this way throughout the year, and she's yet to lose in the second race in four such tries (though once by DQ). First race at Churchill, but she's run well on a multitude of different tracks and surfaces. Would seem a bargain to me at that price.

Turning to those three-year olds, Plum Pretty (2-1) comes off her freakout at Parx, when she got loose on the lead and drew off to a monster win, with a 108 Beyer and a 0 on the Sheets. A really smart guy I know says that he's noticed significant bounces off big tops at the Philly track (Havre de Grace in last year's Ladies Classic for one); and that Plum Pretty is therefore a probable bet-against as the favorite here. Not to mention the fact that, if the Moss Pace numbers are any indication, she figures to have her hands full early with Ask the Moon (6-1). Royal Delta (5-2) I think has regressed since her win in the Black Eyed Susan - third in the CCA Oaks; her win by default when the Alabama completely fell apart worse than the Perry campaign (and as the Cain campaign is poised to do); and her distant second in the Beldame. If you throw out the numbers from that Alabama in which she walked home in 26 seconds, as I did (I just don't think figures mean that much when a race falls apart like that), she's just slower. It's Tricky (5-1) ran a big number on the Sheets sucking along behind Plum Pretty in the Cotillion; but she's run that number before. So, though she's been beaten in her last two by each of three-year olds mentioned directly above (after beating both of them in the CCA Oaks), at this distance, and with some pace help up front, I think she could surprise at a decent price.


DiscreetPicks said...

I find it hard to say anything bad about Uncle Mo, but i think he's a terrible bet in the Classic. Sure he won around two turns (impressively) at Churchill as a 2yo, and he appears to be back in top form, but there's a huge difference between a romping one-turn win over a sloppy track and winning at 1 1/4 miles in the BC Classic. It wasn't that long ago he was still in the barn recovering from an illness, and the only time he attempted two turns this year, he flopped badly in the Wood Memorial. No doubt there was something wrong with him back then, but conditions aren't ideal this time either, as he's been rushed into the 1 1/4-mile Classic afer returning from the layoff in a 7 furlong sprint @ Saratoga. We all knew he was very tough sprinting when healthy, so as well as he's run since coming back (and he has been very impressive), he really hasn't proven anything new.

He'll be attempting to win his first two-turn race as a 3yo (and only his second ever) in the Breeders Cup Classic of all places, at a distance far beyond anything he's ever tried before, against the toughest field he's ever faced. And for that, he's being listed @ 5/2?

Alan Mann said...

I think Uncle Mo will be second or third choice by post time. Nobody likes him.

Figless said...

Dont forget the Ladies Classic - Classic DD!

steve in nc said...

Alan, I am psyched that you're using Sheets!

I'm printing mine out as I type, so I haven't handicapped at all yet, but I did peek at Havre's Sheet and I agree more with your originally stated view.

I think she runs better than that 5. Not necessarily another 0" although that wouldn't shock me. She won't be enough of a price to key, and I haven't looked at the rest of the field, but I can't imagine leaving her out.

Looking at the Sheets bulletin board, I am not the only one who would argue with the view that she's done.

The Classic is one of the few races where I play an historical pattern - the strong chalk underneath. So I'll be looking for price horses worth using on top of Havre (I don't believe Uncle Mo will be the favorite, although I hope he is).

steve in nc said...

OK, I've now looked at the Distaff, I mean Ladies Classic,and I like your take on It's Tricky, although I do have some doubts.

The bounce is less likely second time a horse hits that top, but it was a lot better than her second best #. It could be a number she'll react to every time she hits it.

I've also seen too many Parx #s fail to hold up when horses run elsewhere. Special Philly hay and oats? If It's Tricky hadn't also run the # at Belmont, I'd toss her.

We'll see. But It's Tricky is lightly raced, has hit her big # twice, and to me, is still the likeliest winner. I expect Plum Pretty to bounce at least a little. I want to see her bounce plumb out of the top four after a pace duel with Ask the Moon.

How about Medaglia D'Amour as a price play to move up on dirt and hit the exotics? We know what her sire could do on dirt, and her dam's only win in three tries was a dirt route. MD'A's half sibs were generally better on dirt than turf, including one by Theatrical that did all its winning on dirt.

Anonymous said...

Hey steve, I was somewhat intrigued by Medaglia D'Amour as well. She would be a totally speculative play, as her #s have never been good enough to win this race, but maybe they try a new tactic with her, coming from well off the pace and she ends up liking the surface. She definitely has some upside and will be a massive price. Still you have to wonder why they never really tried her on the dirt before this. There has to be some reason. Either way, at 40-1, I'm willing to give her a look. The Ladies Classic is a very difficult race, in my opinion, so I'll look for a price. -jp

steve in nc said...

Hey JP. I have no clue as to Cecil's thinking. It's just a shot to take at a price in a shaky race. I really do think It's Tricky stands out, but maybe she reacts to the last race. No one else looks great.

Alan, the 1 point difference between Nahrain and Announce wasn't from the trip (I don't think they take ground loss and wind into account on the Euro #s - they should have hired you as an observer). Nahrain carried 5 pounds less and 5 pounds = 1 point on the Sheets. Hearing that Nahrain saved ground all the way leads me to like Announce a trifle more. But this is a tough race. I'm inclined to box the 3 Euros in just a token play.

Figless said...

Mike Welsch-

"Royal Delta: She turned in two similarly spectacular works within a one-week span, the second of which may have been the best move turned in by any Breeders’ Cup participant, a super easy half-mile during which she completed her final quarter in 22.63 with the rider sitting as still as a statue throughout. Her gallop out was even more impressive, if that’s possible. Nobody is doing any better coming into this year’s Cup."

Figless said...

FM Turf:

Stacelita will be very tough, she is legit.

Taking Nahrain over Announce simply because she gets Lasix.
Misty will be on my ticket also for the same reason.

One never knows which of the Euros needs the Lasix more, one may move foward a length, another legit bleeder may move forward 5 lengths, need to protect with all 1L's.

Tri box with Stacey, Nahrain, Misty.


Love Royal Delta. By all accounts training very well. Most forget she had foot problems in the CCA Oaks and therefore a legit excuse. Trainer told everyone she was over that before the Alabama and she romped. Two legit excuses in last, wet track and HDG.

Will also protect with the stranger Ultra Blend, doubt she will be anywhere near 8-1 however, the West Coast money will all be on her while the East Coast money will be split among their various reps in this race.

Totally against Plum Pretty, ignoring the Philly race.

Ask the Moon will severely compromise her chances and will be my choice of the speeds to be hanging aroun at the finish to pick up a check at a price. Always willing to throw out one race especially when it involves East to West.

Its Tricky may be tailing off.

Royal Delta, Ultra Blend over Ask the Moon and Its Tricky in the TRI's. Not getting rich here.

Juvenile Filly Turf:

Pletcher seems confident Stopshoppingmaria will love the switch to turf,boxing her with Up and Stephanies Kitten who Johnny V choses over Todd's Maria.

Figless said...

Moral victory, decent handicapping bad betting. Caught the Juv Filly Turf Ex which helped a bit but sitll managed to lose money pending the outcome of my Royal Delta - Flat Out Classic DD.