First thing's first, I'd like to welcome everyone to my blog. I look forward to posting a lot of horse racing and thoroughbred handicapping content that readers will find original, interesting, thought provoking, and hopefully very profitable.
With the start of Saratoga and Del Mar, it is an exciting time of year for all racing fans and bettors. However, my focus as a player and as a TimeformUS Analyst will sometimes go beyond just the high-profile racing at the game's best venues.
I'm excited to get this blog rolling. One of the beautiful things about horse racing is that there's always an interesting subject to tackle at the present... and very few sports have as rich a history if you'd rather post about the past.
And from a handicapping standpoint, there's always an angle or edge to be found somewhere. Now, onto the good stuff...
One of the many exciting things about opening day at Saratoga is the open Maiden Special Weight dash for two-year-old fillies. Last year, the race was over-subscribed and split into two divisions.
Todd Pletcher gets the best collection of young stock of any trainer in North America, and on opening day last year, he debuted two of his expensive acquisitions from the Fasig Tipton Florida Sale. In the first division, Race #3, the Pletcher-trained Kimono was sent off as the 8/5 favorite. Kimono drilled a furlong in a good 10.40 seconds, as you can see here. She could manage only a second-place finish, beaten less than a length for the win. In the second division, Race #5, Kauai Katie went off as the 9/5 favorite. She was much faster than Kimono at Palm Meadows, drilling her 1/8th in 10 seconds flat and producing the fastest time of any filly at that sale. Kauai Katie won her debut wire to wire by 12 lengths and has been a top class filly sprinter ever since.
This year, Pletcher has entered two of his expensive acquisitions from the OBS March sale for opening day. However, because the race didn't split into two divisions like last year, one of them will probably scratch.
Of his two entries, Our Amazing Rose is more in the mold of a Kauai Katie and looms a very likely winner, while Stopchargingmaria is more in the mold of a Kimono and can definitely be opposed. Our Amazing Rose wore blinkers at OBS March and went her 1/8th in 9.80 seconds, and then galloped out a quarter mile in 20.52 seconds, which was the fastest gallop-out of any horse in the entire sale. Watch >>
She's built like a tank and showed surprising raw speed for a filly of her size. With her stride length measuring over 25 feet, this filly's best game will probably wind up being seven furlongs or a one-turn mile.
After that workout at Ocala, she was purchased for $325,000, obviously a lot of money to pay for a filly by low-profile stallion Yes It's True out of an unraced Silver Deputy mare who hasn't produced any black type offspring yet. If Our Amazing Rose runs, we anticipate that she will win. If she scratches, look out for her next time.
As for Stopchargingmaria, she also wore blinkers and went her 1/8th in 10.20 seconds at OBS March. She galloped out her 1/4 in 21 3/5 -- hardly a dazzling time considering how insanely souped up that surface is. Watch >>
Stopchargingmaria was a $47,000 September yearling, and she sold for $220,000 after her workout, which means interest and demand were there for her even though her sales workout wasn't anything to get excited over. Obviously, when a filly is purchased for $47,000 and resold for $220,000 just six months later, one has to assume she has a graceful way of going. In addition, her dam, Exotic Bloom, was at her best racing around two-turns.
Finally, there is one other interesting debuter not belonging to the Pletcher Machine that should merit a little consideration.
J Quirk worked at the Keeneland April two-year-old sale. They had about a hundred two-year-olds work during the training preview of that sale. The first half (or set) works, followed by a track renovation break, and than the final half (or set) works.
In set number one, a single horse worked a sale-best furlong in 9.80 seconds. And seven other horses worked an 1/8th in 10 flat. In set number two, no one worked 9.80 or faster, and only three different horses worked an 1/8th in 10 flat.
J Quirk was one of the three horses who worked an 1/8th in 10 flat in set number two (presumably when the track surface was a little bit slower).
J Quirk displayed good raw speed in her drill, and she has a great pedigree. She's by Unbridled's Song out of a Storm Cat mare, who is a half sister to both Tiznow and Budroyale.
A regally bred filly like J Quirk is supposed to bring a fortune at auction if she looks good. Yet she sold for only $150,000 as a yearling. More alarmingly, after her zippy workout at Keeneland April, she never made it past $110,000 in the bidding and fell short of her reserve price. She is a classic example of a horse flunking the market test. There's something about her that has frightened potential buyers away. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Something like a breathing issue, other physical issue, or conformation issue. Still, J. Quirk has trained nicely, and so I'm willing to overlook trainer Gary Contessa's weak stats with debuters and include her underneath on my exotic wagers at her 10/1 morning line.