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Raging Bull (Fr): Photo by Benoit

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now in our 12th year of providing handicapping advice and betting strategy to an audience that never really asked for it.

Today's the big day, the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.  To this handicapper, older turf runners are my specialty and focus, so while the rest of the world is enthralled with three year old's breaking in a massive field over dirt at a distance only two have ever raced at, I'm the odd ball who just prefers the older horses.  I like the data, the performance history and pacing of turf racing.  I'm not anti three year old dirt runners, it's just not what I'm caught up in.  I handicapped quite a few races this spring but not one prep, so don't bother reading my advice on that race, there are plenty of bright minds you can tune into for all things Triple Crown.

Now I do have a gamblers pulse and there is something about a big field with wide open odds, so after i indulge my turf racing passion I share my thoughts about tote board handicapping as it relates to the Kentucky Derby.

Let's go!

Your find scratches/changes and track condition via this link to the Churchill Downs website.  The hour by hour weather forecast is looking pretty bleak, especially after 2 PM.  The Turf is Listed as Fast and the Dirt Firm right now but its such a wildcard I think we need to assume sloppy/sealed and Good.




A couple of key races to consider:

12 April 19 Kee Makers Mile G1 Good.

2019 Maker's 46 Mile - YouTube



23 March 2019 FG Muniz Memorial G2  Firm 1 1/8

BRICKS AND MORTAR (GIANT'S CAUSEWAY) - YouTube



Chad Brown has three runners here with Raging Bull, Ticonderoga and Bricks and Mortar.  I suspect Bricks and Mortar will be a post time chalk and I think he's got a legitimate shot at winning.His good early speed will be critical as he breaks from post 12 and his late turn of foot is very good.  9 of 9 lifetime in the money, 7 wins in 9 turf starts, 1 win in 3 starts at the distance.  Lots to like in the 5 YO son of son Giant's Causeway.  Three straight wins including Pegasus World Turf .

I have Qurbaan as my top overlay.  1 win in 10 turf starts, no wins at the distance, blinkers go on for Trainer McLaughlin who hits 17% of those.  good early speed good late speed, just needs focus and Mike Smith is up to help in that regard.

Raging Bull and Breaking the Rules are in my next tier.  Raging Bull (Fr) has 5 wins in 8 turf starts and came close in the Makers Mark Mile. Solid late speed and a good post draw.  Breaking the Rules is stepping up in class but carries 6 fewer pounds than most of contenders.  7 of 9 lifetime in the money with 4 wins.  Nice solid work for Trainer Shug McGaughey leading up to this.

Synchrony also goes with blinkers on for Trainer Stidham. Big late speed I'm not sure he'll get the pace scenario needed but can easily be going forward still at the end.  5 of 5 in the money at the distance and 12 of 13 in the money over grass.  Same sort of running style in the horse one gate over, Ticonderoga.  A TimeForm 126 late, a big step up in class.  We'll see if he has the targets and the room to unleash at the end.

I'm not sure what I'll be playing, but most likely some low risk $2 exacta  with 12 OVER 1-2-8-9-10 for $10 total.

Regarding the 12 Race, The G1 Kentucky Derby, I'm just tote board handicapping it.  Its a bit of a misnomer, I'm Tote Board-Bet Constructing.  It can get too hectic as the odds shift near post time so I like to have a spread sheet built that I can quickly make adjustments to leading up to bet placement time.  While I typically do all my work within TwinSpires TV, here you will find a link to Churchill Downs webpage live odds.  




I'm not going to get to in depth with the handicapping.  Using the past performances and the tote board I am identifying horses that I think will Win/Place or be tossed from that discussion.  As the rewards most likely will be high, covering a few more potential finishers looking to maximize values.  As you can see, the highest odds on the board right now are maximum security at 18% and the top 4 colts  have odds that total 66%.  If I was assembling bets right now i'd have:

$1 Bet Box 9 horses (5-6-7-8-10-13-16-17-20) for $81.  That's a bit too much so I'll whittle it down a bit before post time.
Have fun friends, Turk out!
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Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now in our eleventh year of blogging and celebrating 33 years of horse playing, if that's something to be celebrated (I know it is by my rabid audience of readers.)

I'd like to thank The Thorofan, and the Handicapper's Corner, for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you today on the Good Friday.

This is the sort of race I hear a lot of fellow horse players starting to call this year's edition of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, a bettors race.  There is no heavy favorite, there are multiple horses a handicapper can make a case for, and there is a growing feeling of a chaotic mutuel end result.  Perhaps that's the case here but that also assumes the big three don't factor in the top two if you are an exacta player.  At worst, the lowest of the favorite odds is finishing second and long odds win the race.  The big three by the morning line have winning odds that add up to 60.5% and if you put the top four Morning Line odds in you are at 77%.

While it's a subject for another day, you should be focused on who can win and how does the overall public view the odds of the horse you identified could win.  In doing this analysis you are creating a fair odds line for yourself.  You'll notice the odds on the Morning Line's don't add up to 100% and the reason for that is pesky little things like takeout (major) and a bunch of other small deducts from your betting dollar like rounding and breakage (minor).  Ignore that.  I'll actually take a minute to tell you that if you are gambling solely on morning line odds you should really consider reading a good book and learning to handicap yourself because most track odds makers tend to introduce biases into their work, and they have an obligation to tell you the most likely winning odds, not who is an overlay.

Overlay: An underestimated horse by the betting public.

Underlay: An overestimated horse by the betting public and what you get when you read and consume most horse racing fluff pieces.

I'm jumping ahead, but quite frankly this discussion to me is more interesting the the actual race and maybe helpful to my readers who are more casual and social bettors.  Look at my chart below.

Diamond King was a 20% ML winner and I have him at 18.19%.  That is first signal of open betting race, a ML and Fair Line odds of 4-1 or worse.

Look at Unbridled Jean:  6.25% ML, a 15-1 shot, yet the Turk Fair Line has him at 14.29% or 6-1.  Forget if I'm right or wrong, that is the Overlay you are looking for.  To get better as a handicapper you have to practice.  To get better as a bettor you have to trust your handicapping and act on when you identify an Overlay.  I can't tell you how many times I'd identify Overlays but lacked the courage to bet them or even put them in a chart like this because of fear of comments from other handicappers or on social media.  Think about it like this:  I gave Unbridled Jean odds to not finish first 85.71%.  When he doesn't win tomorrow was I dumb for betting him?  Another subject for another day but if you are betting a safe choice, with short odds in the Win Spot race after race, you need a new hobby. 

Underlays?  Again this race isn't great for the examples because of the relatively small bid-ask between the ML and the Fair Lines, but Discreet Lover, a horse and trainer I absolutely love as a fan, by my handicap is the biggest underlay, and with that pronouncement,"... let's announce to the winners circle....Discreet Lover."

Let this bald handicapping idiot savant shut up for a moment and lets get after the race!



My handicap and thinking are influenced by the fact I expect the track to still be wet at race time tomorrow.  I know most of the rains will be gone by post time but I think alot will fall and I have to consider what I think the track will be like based on what I know now so this rubbish insightful commentary can be published before lunch on Friday, 30 hours before the race.  You don't have that burden, so use the information you have effectively, such as track conditions and scratches and changes. 

I like Diamond King, son of Quality Road, buts he nothing more than light chalk. I could run down the whole field but I'm not sure of the value quite frankly.  in bullet points:


  • Diamond King: 4 YO with 5 wins in 11 career starts.  Low 400 Tomlinson. last race win as chalk. Servis and Castellano 0-4 over past year together.  Tepid.
  • Unbridled Jean:  7 YO loses class war but solid career with 25 of 29 races in the money.  6 of 7 in the money over wet dirt. good early speed, strong final kick, will need tactical speed breaking from 10 post. 
  • War Story:  Easy Choice, Safe bet. 16 of 32 in the money with $2.6 MM in earnings from a $5,000 stud fee. I think he gets bet hard and goes to gate 2-1 or 3-2. 2 wins in 3 wet races. 
  • Mongolian Groom: California Shipper.  Trainer Genbat no stakes wins in past year.  Slow Early, good late speed.  Breaking along rail. Eh. 
  • Rally Cry: Last win April 2017. Race best 417 Tomlinson but one Show wet start. Good overall speed early and slow.  Pletcher an amazing 33% winner off +180 day layoff as hasn't gone since Woodward.  Was my chalk, still could win, one of those horses that should be better than his record, 6 YO and 14 career starts.  

 I don't know what i'm going to do yet, but I'll take my top five and assemble win and exacta bets.  If forced to choose now I'm leaning towards something simple like this:

Unbridled Jean 10 Over  3-9-1-4 a $2 Exacta for $8.  Odds of winning low,  odds of paying well if it does win, high.  That's how the long game is played.  My real inclination is to walk away but you only need to win a few of these low risk $8 bets in a year to boost your overall ROI. 
Have fun with it friends!
Turk Out.
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Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk blog, in our 11th year of handicapping and bet construction here on the interwebs and in our 33rd year of being a degenerate horse player.

I had no particular rooting interest in yesterday's Sand Spring Stakes, the tenth race on the Gulfstream Park card on Florida Derby Day.  I picked a race to blog about with one one criteria other than my main criteria of being a turf race and that was field size, which the race had nine entered and eight went to post.

My early season, and to me I'm only in full blown handicapper mode between May-October, is just about getting my handicapping techniques engaged and working again after a handicappers holiday that I take every winter to refresh my mind and love of the game.  I've blogged three times in 2019 and given you three winners cold and some good exactas to boot.  Am I bragging?  Not at all, just pointing out that I honed in on the things that I do best, namely handicapping turf races, one mile and up, over firm turf primarily, and that I'm really confident in my abilities to size up the field (handicapping) and generate positive ROI consistently (bet construction).  It's not bragging, I'm actually humble, humbled by years of highs and lows.  Yesterday's exacta and trifecta win on the Sand Springs Stakes was because I ignored the mantra of Han Solo.  I noticed my second choice, Proctor's Ledge bet down to 1-1 odds, a mare with one win at the distance should not be bet down to 50-50 odds without at least challenging the possibility, which is what I did to my benefit.



Gulfstream Park March 30, 2019 Race 10 - YouTube



Handicap Pre Race




And my pre-race thinking was:

$2 Trifecta  with 9-5 OVER 9-5 OVER 6-8-4-2  is worth $16 while a lean mean $2 Tri with 9 OVER 5 OVER 6-8-4-2 is $8.

You'll notice I put Fire Key #2 over Vendita #1 in my bet construction, which was just an educated hunch. 

I was leaning pre-race to single Proctor's Ledge if the post time odds mirrored the morning line odds, 4-1.  When they didn't, without a shred of emotion went with my original thought and put Valedictorian on top for an easy $9.50 exacta on a $2 bet.

I plunked down $6 to win $23.90 Trifecta betting 5-9 OVER 6-8-4  

Smartest guy in the room?  Far from it.  Consistent handicapping and not over thinking the bet construction, relying on the work I've done and using the tote board eyes to make sure I don't overlook value.  

Have fun with it friends!  Turk Out.
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Gulfstream Park: Photo Mason Kelley
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, now in our 11th season of providing questionable handicapping and atrocious bet construction to people who never asked for it.  Actually, the handicapping and bet construction is not too shabby, and I focus on what I do well, and more importantly enjoy more, and that's older horses running over grass.  Everyone is about to be sucked into Kentucky Derby fever, and that's very cool, but 2 and 3 YO horses have never been my strong suit and I'll leave that sort of thing to people who are better at it and care more about it than I do.  At Gulfstream today, Florida Derby fever is kicking in with Race 14 going off at 6:36 ET, but for me, I'm "practicing" today on Race 10 about two hours earlier, Sand Springs $100K for Fillies and Mares 4 YO and Up, one mile with the temp rail set at zero (alternates 0 to 60 feet).

Why do I practice?  Why does anyone practice anything, to improve and get better at a skill, and my craft is handicapping and bet construction.  I've been handicapping for 33 years, which alone is hard to believe, but true.  I still learn and my skills need need sharpening.  I often will handicap a dozen races and build bets, and not bet them, just for a mental exercise, just for practice.  I think all of us have some mental exercise we perform to stay sharp.  I work very long hours and I travel a lot for my job.  An hour or so here and there handicapping is the perfect mind relaxer that makes me better at my job as well.

For a turf guy, you don't have a lot of great options early in the calendar year.  I should have played Santa Anita which has some graded stakes over grass today, or even Japan, but the handicapper in me likes predicable situations with few variables and quite frankly I don't want any part of the craziness at Santa Anita until that situation calms down some.  I very much hope it does, horse racing can't afford to lose Hollywood Park and Santa Anita in Southern California.

Lets get after this handicap!




The Track was listed as Good as of March 29, you'll find an update to track conditions as well as scratches and changes here.  The #3 filly, Mrs. Ramona G is unfortunately scratched.  The weather looks like it should be dry up to and after post time.


The race looks chalky to me.  Carrying the most weight at 124 pounds is Trainer Breen's Valedictorian.  Two straight strong GP performances, 7 of 10 in the money over GP grass, a class drop for the Mare  who has a big early Timeform and will look to wire the field.  She should break and be at the front with Too Charming and Andina Del Sur through 4f.

Proctor's Ledge intrigues me here.  A grade 1/2 contender, the Mare is making first 2019 start, a layoff of 61-180 days that Trainer Walsh wins 15% of the time in 60 tries over past year.  An excellent :46 3/5ths 4f work 2 weeks ago makes me think she's ready.  4 pounds less than Valedictorian, she should be just off the pace and we'll have to consider if the speed that is in front will crack.  I'd like it better if turf was a bit softer but I'm not discounting. 

Too Charming and Andina Del Sur are more or less similar horses, both going for Trainer Albertrani.  Both will come out fast.  Both lack high end speed that carries.  Both have excellent pilots.  both in the mix for Place-Show-4th.

Best of the rest is Quebec.  A morning line 3-1, with Ortiz Jr Up for Trainer Robert "Bobby" Dibona who is looking for first stakes win and has two Grade 3 wins over a long time training.  I don't see it but at 118 pounds the horse has run well, has 90+ Beyers  and decent early speed that carries late. 

I'm keeping the betting simple:

$2 Trifecta  with 9-5 OVER 9-5 OVER 6-8-4-2  is worth $16 while a lean mean $2 Tri with 9 OVER 5 OVER 6-8-4-2 is $8.
Have fun with it friends!  Turk Out!
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Hawksmoor (Ire)  Photo by SV Photography 
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk Blog, now in our 11th year of handicapping and bet  construction for people who never asked for it.  I'd like to thank the good people of The Thorofan and the Handicappers Corner for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today about the Grade 2 Hillsborough, a route of grass for four year old and up Fillies and Mares at Tampa Bay Downs.

It's important to bring consistency to your handicapping methods if you want to achieve consistent results.  I like to start any handicap by checking the weather and the expected track conditions prior to starting to analyze the field.  The weather has been wet and the races were off the track on Wednesday but things look dry since Thursday and you can check here for track conditions but I'm going to assume if its not firm its close to firm.

Lets get after the review of this field.



Sometimes its hard to find good video at Youtube for these sort of runners. That's not an offense to Grade 3 Filly and Mare runners, its just a reality that fewer and fewer of us care enough to record and post.  You can find very good video at a site like Twinspires and their Twinspires TV.  When video is lacking, and even when it's not, reviewing race charts to supplement the Past Performances is always a useful endevour. Speaking of endevours, the  Grade 3 Endevour at Tampa Bay Downs contested  at 1/16 of a mile less grass and "kinda firm" like I expect Saturday will be is a good place to start.  Exiting that race from 9 February are Hawksmoor who won by rating, a new trick for an old girl, Viva Vegas, Streetwithnoname, Get Explicit and Goodyearforroses (Ire), while the other key race to study is the Grade 3 Suwannee River from GP on 9 February as well in which my chalk Rymska (Fr) came up Place but short as the heavily bet favorite that day and Peach of a Gal over performed it's much bigger price to get up for Show.

I like to use DRF PDF Race Charts.  For the older races, just select the track you want and manipulate the web address to get to the date you want.


Just change that date at the end to 20190209 and hit enter and away you go. 



TAM 9 February Race 10:  1 1/16 Firm Turf; G3 Endevour F and M 4 YO and Up



The interesting thing about this race is clearly at 6 YO and racing for the last time before breeding to Kitten's Joy, Hawksmoor rated and rallied off a fast pace of :23, 47 1/5, 1:11....

I like Viva Vegas exiting as well and late turns of foot by Goodyearfortheroses (Fr) and Streetwithnoname shouldn't be ignored. 

GP 9 February 2019 Race 6:  1 1/8 Firm Turf;  G3 Suwannee River F and M  4 YO and Up.



This is a second off a 45-180 day layoff for Rymska (Fr) who failed as the heavily bet favorite to win in first start since 2 December.   Trainer Chad Brown's stats are hard to put in perspective because they are so gaudy, but he's 26% winner off these layoffs, a 29% Turf winner, a 29% route winner and 23% Graded Stakes Winner.  No one else is close in this field with those figures.  4 YO Peach of a Gal set high career Beyer in that race which maybe signals a step forward but I need to see a bit more from the daughter of Curlin trained by Graham Motion.  

The pace scenario is a bit of a mystery to me.  The early speed is Hawksmoor, with a Timeform early 112 and no one else is greater than 80.  I'm guessing that the rating shown in the last race is abandoned and she is sent to the front.  The extra distance is not something she has done well with, a lifetime winless in 4 tries with 2 show finishes.  I think Conditioner Delacour sends her to the front and plays catch me if you can.  Perhaps that's suicide because there is alot of late speed here.  So maybe his instructions are to Bravo to rate and stay close Rymska (Fr), but is that a good plan either?

My handicap assumes the latter, that she reverts back to what she's done for 23 starts in which she has 10 Place and Show finishes to go with her 6 wins (1 win in last 7) and that is to go to the front and carry for as long as possible.   I think she does get caught and I can see any of the 7-3-8 catching her and even possibly 10-9. 

I'm building exactas without her in them and that's how I'm approaching, with something like this:

$2 Exacta:  7-3-8-10-9 box for $10.  I'm not sure I don't even go more narrow and bet $2 7 over 8-10 for $4 and call it a day.  I'll be watching the toteboard and the willpay and I will unemotionally bet this one for low risk, ok reward. 
Have fun with it friends, Turk Out!
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Vasilika- Photo: San Diego Union Tribune
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, now in our 11th season of providing horse talk and handicapping to people who never asked for it.  I'd like to thank the Thorofan for awaking me from my handicappers holiday and inviting me to write for their Handicapper's Corner

Life to me is always about striking a balance.  I try to strike a balance in my handicapping by taking a break from Breeders' Cup until right about now.  I know the powers that be want me to be excited about The Pegasus World Cup, blah blah blah, but I'm not, it's more important to me to put my red gel pen down and relax my brain. 

I'm not much of a Triple Crown handicapper either.  Over the last several years I've really honed in on what I do well.  I keep a database that goes back well over a decade and its always been clear to me my ROI is the best with 4 YO or Greater, Turf, Good or Firm.  That works for me because I love the older horses, the ones not valued yet in the breeding shed, and I love the data that comes through the Past Performances and Race Charts on these animals.  Today's Buena Vista Grade 3 is in the sweet spot.  That beast pictured above is my heavy chalk, Vasilika.  She is just the sort of Mare that makes me love this sport, a survivor, a competitor, a former claimer turned Grade 1 winner.  Great stuff. 

Let's get after it!  The weather looks to be dry today and tomorrow.  The turf is currently listed as good with rail at 20 feet but I'm sure its trending towards firm.

If the past is prologue, which the recent past usually is in horse racing, let's start with same distance, good turf, same track and review what we have here. 

21 January 2019  SA 1 Mile Turf/Good:  Grade 3 Megahertz

Megahertz Stakes (Grade III) - January 21, 2019 - YouTube







I don't think you need to overthink and the system archetype (if your into Peter Senge speak) is simple:  Take Vasilika as heavy chalk and build Place -Show Tri's and Exacta's with value underneath her -OR- put her in Place and Show and Find major value beating her.  I'm not completely sure what I'm doing yet, but those are my game plans when faced with this scenario and my results are typically very good with some massive takes when the heavy chalk stumbles and some good takes when so real value sneaks into Place and Show (or just exacta Place).   Get out of your head ye' beginners that every bet has to be the grand slam.  I often will take a race like this and put Vasilika on top and wheel through my 12-1 and greater Turk Fair Line runners on $2 exacta's.  You'll lose more than you win but the wins should be greater than the losses over time so long as your fair line odds setting is reasonably sound.  I wont waste much time talking about Vasilika, an absolute beast with great late turn of foot and no slouch early either.  50% winner over Turf.  8 wins in 9 SA turf starts.

To me the interesting runners are:

Fahan Mura, with conditioner V. Cerin, is 7 of 7 in the money with 6 wins at SA and 12 of 15 in the money at the distance.   I toss the Pegasus World Cup Turf outing if I'm optimistic.  Cerin's Stakes win percentage of 6% makes me keep things real here, but huge Timeform early speed fig of 125, how she carries will determine if she hangs on for Place-Fourth. 

Mike Smith, atop a Blame filly (oh the irony dear Z) Ms Bad Behavior has seen the best of Vasilika.  I tend to not think more opportunities will change outcomes.  This filly has 4 straight Place finishes, something that I also think is a red flag for winning chances.  12 of 14 lifetime in the money, 9 of 10 lifetime turf in the money and 5 of 5 distance in the money says she'll be heard.  Worst case scenario is a 9-2 exacta. 

Amandine at ML 8-1 and Zaffinah at ML 12-1 interest me.  Conditioner Mullins (23% stakes) turns Amandine (GB) back after weakening in the Megahertz.  The 4 YO has an underlying class and sometimes that jump from 3 to 4 unlocks stars from pretenders.  Zaffinah (Ire) is in same situation.  Trainer Carava is 25% 2nd off 45-180 but zero stakes wins in last rolling year. 

Elysea's World (Ire), ML Place at 4-1, is first time out for Trainer Baltas after leaving Chad Brown's barn.  The 6 YO has never won at the distance, racing at 1 mile only once, and has never won at SA, with a Place effort in December 2017.  I love the late turn of foot.   Easily could upset the apple cart Place to Exotic but I have a hard time picturing her catching the speed in front of her, which there will be many targets. 

Streak of Luck/10 is a pretty flat runner.  A nice bullet work of 5F at :59 3/5ths off a 1 Mile Turf win at SA in late January, albeit at a pedestrian Beyer of 82, signals good form. 

I'm not sure which way I'm going but a couple of ideas:

9 OVER 4-2-6-3 $2 Exacta for $8 OR 4-2-6-3-8 over 9 a $2 Exacta for $10. 
Have fun with it friends!
Turk out.
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Breeders' Cup Turf; Photo Harry How/Getty Images

Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog.

The purpose of this post is to provide the last two and sometimes three races of each entrant in the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf. 

The goal one week out is just to get a feel for the runners and link the past performances to the visual handicapping.  I'll come back tomorrow and start adding my notes and observations for each race.  It's alot of effort that I'll only invest into 3, perhaps 4 races over the coming Breeders' Cup weekend.  Any other betting I do will be done using a tote board handicapping method, strictly taking some low risk/medium reward cracks at positive ROI.

The following are covered here:


  • Arlow 4 YO colt.  Sycamore, Kentucky Turf Cup. 
  • Channel Maker 4 YO gelding.  Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Sword Dancer, Bowling Green, Manhattan.
  • Crystal Ocean (GB) 4 YO colt.  Championship Stakes and September Stakes.
  • Enable (GB) 4 YO Mare.  Prix Arc de Triomphe and September Stakes.
  • Glorious Empire (Ire) 7 YO gelding.   Sword Dancer and Bowling Green.
  • Hi Happy (Arg) 6 YO Horse.  Knickerbocker, Sword Dancer, Bowling Green and Manhattan
  • Hunting Horn (Ire) 3 YO Colt.  Arc de Triomphe and Secretariat Stakes
  • Liam the Charmer 5 YO gelding.  John Henry Turf Championship
  • Magical (Ire) 3 YO Filly.  British Championship Stakes and Arc de Triomphe
  • Quarteto de Cordas (Brz) 4 YO colt. Mathias Machline.  
  • Roaring Lion 3 YO colt.  QE2 Stakes and Irish Championship Stakes
  • Robert Bruce (Chi) 4 YO Colt.  Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Arlington Million
  • Sadler's Joy 5 YO horse.  Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Sword Dancer, Bowling Green, Manhattan.
  • Talismanic (GB) 5 YO Horse (2017 BC Turf Winner).  Arc de Triomphe and Prix Foy
  • Waldgeist (GB) 4 YO Colt.  Arc de Triomphe, Prix Foy, Prix Saint Cloud

Return back to my blog, The Turk and the Little Turk,  all week leading up to the Breeders' Cup for more content.



The Sycamore G3:  Kee.  Good Turf. 1 1/2 Miles.  18 October 2018

2018 Sycamore (G3) - YouTube



The Kentucky Turf Cup G3;  Kentucky Downs. Good Turf.  1 1/2 Miles.  8 Sept 2018

Race 10: Arklow (Florent Geroux) Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (Gr. III) - YouTube



Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational G1. Belmont.  Soft Turf.  1 1/2 Miles.  29 September 2018

Channel Maker - 2018 - The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic - YouTube



Sword Dancer G1: Saratoga.  Firm Turf. 1 1/2 Miles.  25 August 2018

Glorious Empire - 2018 - The Sword Dancer Stakes - YouTube



September Stakes G3: Kempton (UK).  Firm Turf. 1 1/2 Miles RH.  8 September 2018

Enable Juddmonte Farms September Stakes G3‬ ‪ Kempton - YouTube


Knickerbocker G2;  Belmont. Good Turf.  1 1/8 Miles.  8 October 2018

Blacktype - 2018 - The Knickerbocker Stakes - YouTube



The Bowling Green G2;  Saratoga.  Soft Turf. 1 3/8 Miles.   28 July 2018

Channel Maker & Glorious Empire - DEAD HEAT - 2018 - The Bowling Green Stakes - YouTube


Secretariat Stakes G1; Arlington Park.  Good Turf.  1 1/4 Miles.  11 August 2018

Secretariat Stakes FULL race and Winners Circle interview - YouTube



Prix de l' Arc de Triomphe G1.  Longchamp (Fr).  Firm Turf. 1 1/2 Miles RH.  7 October 2018

2018 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - Enable - YouTube


Champions Stakes G1. Ascot (GB).  Soft Turf.  1 1/4 Miles RH. 20 October 2018

QIPCO CHAMPION STAKES 2018 Cracksman - YouTube



John Henry Turf Championship G2.  Santa Anita.  Firm. 1 1/4 Miles.  30 September 2018

John Henry Turf Championship (Grade II) September 30, 2018 - YouTube



British Championship Stakes G1 (F).  Ascot (GB). Soft Turf. 1 1/2 Miles RH. 20 Oct 2018

Magical (IRE)

2018 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes G1 - Magical (變魔術) - R.Moore - YouTube



Mathias Machline (G1).  Gavea (Brz). Heavy Turf. 1 1/4 Miles LH.  4 August 2018

Copa ABCPCC Clássica - Matias Machline (G1) 2018 - Arrocha - YouTube


The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes G1.  Ascot (GB).  Soft Turf. 1 Mile.  20 Oct 2018

2018 - Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - Roaring Lion - YouTube


Irish Championship Stakes G1.  Leopardstown (Ire).  Good.  1 1/4 Miles  LH.  15 September 2018

Roaring Lion - QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (2018) - YouTube


Arlington Million G1.  Arlington Park.  Firm.  1 1/4 Miles.  11 August 2018

2018 Arlington Million - YouTube


Manhattan Stakes G1.  Belmont.  Firm Turf. 1 1/4 Miles. 9 June 2018

Spring Quality - 2018 - The Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes - YouTube



Prix Foy G2. Longchamp (Fr). Firm. 1 1/2 Miles RH. 16 September 2018

2018 Qatar Prix Foy - Waldgeist - YouTube



Prix de Saint Cloud G1.  Saint Cloud (Fr).  Good/Soft.  1 1/2 Miles LH. 1 July 2018

2018 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud - Waldgeist - YouTube

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Photo by: Keeneland
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk blog.

I've wanted to play Keeneland for the past few weeks but work was busy, I was traveling quite a bit, and I just ran out of time.  With few graded stakes left in the meet, I think Sunday's Dowager is my last opportunity for 2018.

I don't play Keeneland very much.  Like, Del Mar, I gave up on the track during the fake dirt years.  The 19.5% takeout on Exactas (NYRA currently 18.5%, Arlington on Million Day 20.5%) is high but that's not a cross I carry around like many social media whales, my investing volumes are too low to get hung up on that.  I think I just have other options usually and it's not a track that I'm quick to play.  That said, I love the grounds, the tradition and the turf course especially.

I'm taking a bit of a handicapper's holiday over past few weeks as I gear up for Breeders' Cup Weekend.  I did however blog, and win, The Laurel Park Maryland Million Classic Exacta, providing a $1 dollar bet for $24 that returned $82.10.  Low risk, good reward.

Anyway, lets get after this 1 1/2 mile Turf affair at Keeneland.  Expect cold but dry conditions.  The turf was yielding today but you can find the latest here, part of Keeneland's player friendly website.  Laurel Park: You need to step up your web services!




I like the betting potential of this race that is lacking serious chalk.  I identified Daring Duchess and Savannah Belle as my top two. 

Daring Duchess is 6 of 9 in the money at this distance and 13 of 26 in the money over grass.  The 6 YO mare from Arch is winless in 5 KEE starts with only 1 Place to show for those trips.  Added 6 pounds from last time out.  A flat runner, I'll expect her on or near the pace the whole way.  If the turf is Yielding or Soft I'll like her less although she had a nice outing over good turf at this distance two races back.

4 YO Savannah Belle is trained by Brian Lynch, a 22% stakes winner but also only 1 win in 7 starts at KEE over past rolling year.  295 Tomlinson at the distance with an asterisk for sample size, she does have a Place at this distance, making her the only other to hit the board at this distance besides Daring Duchess.  Late runner. 

Vexatious was winless in six starts as a 3 YO last year and has only 2  wins in 12 starts lifetime.  1  win in 4 turf starts and last time out her running line was "...passed tiring foes" as she finished 6 1/4 lengths back at today's distance. A winner at 1 3/8 miles at Del Mar in August in a minor stake.  7 dirt starts.  Classy and ready for a breakout possibly.  Late runner.

Amboseli hasn't done much lately.  The 6 YO has only 3 Show finishes to show for her last 10 starts over past two seasons.  13 of 22 in the money lifetime with 8 Shows in 22 starts.  Late runner.

Res Ipsa is a 5 YO English Channel with a great closing turn of foot.  Winless in 6 starts in 2018, 12 of 21 lifetime in the money over grass.  First time at the distance but ran well at Kentucky Downs at 1 5/16 miles.  Last win past 1 mile?  October 2017 at KEE in a $70K Alw at 1 1/16.

My three wildcards are:

 English Affair who is coupled to Trainer Arnold and Pilot B. Hernandez, a combo that wins 23% of the time at KEE. Winless in 4 starts in 2018 and first time at this distance.  First KEE start.  6 of 9 in the money over grass lifetime.  Bullet work, 1st of 54 at 4f at CD over dirt this month. 

Viva Vegas also makes first start at distance.  The 4 YO The Factor daughter as you would expect has a 315 Tomlinson with an asterisk.  Placed in G3 Violet at Monmouth. Early speed.

Shezaprado is slow out of gate but has 111 Timeform US Pace fig late.  226 Tomlinson at the distance which the 4 YO Filly has tried once.  5 wins in 17 turf starts.  Last win two races back on 6 Sept at Kentucky Downs at 1 5/16.  She ran back 7 days later and made a mild bid and then followed that up with a work at KEE earlier this month.

I'm tossing 3 YO Rahway and  main track specialist Beach Flower from my exactas, maybe foolishly at least with Rahway.  Sired by Eskendereya, has a KEE win aand a bullet work over turf earlier this month.  I'm a bit intrigued at what should be a big price. 

What to do with all this?  I'll be assembling an exacta but I want to see the toteboard odds before I lock in. a $1  5-3 OVER 10-6-8-1-2-4-9 for $16 is my initial thought.
Have fun friends!
Turk Out.
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Jim McKay.  Photo: Blood Horse
Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk, a horse racing analysis blog serving a rabid audience since 2008.  I'd like to thank The Thorofan for allowing me the opportunity to talk to their members and readers of The Handicappers Corner as well.


Jim McKay, a 40+ year legendary broadcaster of sports loved horse racing and he loved his home state of Maryland. You could say Jim was inspired to create the Maryland Million Day after attending the 1984 Breeders' Cup, the first one, at Hollywood Park (Ehalt, 2016).    He envisioned a spectacular day of championship racing, and one that highlighted Maryland Breds and Maryland Sires.  It is Maryland Racing's day.  His vision has never been more apparent to me after looking at the Past Performances for The Maryland Million Classic, the feature race, with the best three horses Also Eligible, including last years winner, Bonus Points.  It's doubtful that 9-5 ML Hammerin Aamer, 5-2 Belfour and 7-5 Bonus Points  reach the gate because they "...are Maryland-bred but not Maryland-sired and, thus, not likely to draw in.  Maryland Million races are limited to Maryland-sired horses as long as six or more face the starter. With 10 Maryland-sired runners entered in the Classic, it’s exceedingly unlikely that any of the also-eligible runners will end up in the race" (Vespe, 2018)."  

So what do we have on our hands?  A wide open, very interesting betting race.  Let's Get after it!




I think there is a a slight chance Crouchelli scratches as the 3 YO is entered in the 10th as well.  At the time of writing this I can't determine that yet.  If any of the top three are entered it completely changes my thinking and I'm singling that horse to win and playing some longer prices below below for the exacta.  If two of those three horses make the starting field, I most likely pass on the betting opportunity.

Let's assume none of them are in the gate for our purposes.

I have a group of three I'm looking at to win, with Admiral Blue, Flash McCaul and Saratoga Bob all about the same to me.  Of them:


  • 1 win at the distance, Admiral Blue, who is 3 of 8 in the money at the distance.  
  • No last time winners.  Only Admiral Blue hit the board, a Show finish in a $50K Claimer
  • Admiral Blue is winless in 15 fast dirt tries. 
  • Admiral Blue drops 6 pounds from last time out
I think I just made my tepid case for Admiral Blue as my chalk for the race.  From the 9 spot he'll need his early tactical speed to position himself.  I'm torn on where he's breaking from and trip and pace will be key if he is going to break his fast dirt goose egg.

I think Flash McCaul will enter the gate as the bettors favorite.  8 of 17 in the money at Laurel Park with 3 wins, but none at the distance.  The five year old breaks for 25% winner at Laurel Park, conditioner Michael Trombetta.  His post draw is good and its conceivable he will be well positioned to let out his late speed.  

Saratoga Bob is 6 of 7 in the money at Laurel Park and on fast dirt, but the distance is new.  Prado up for Trainer Voss.  His race 2 back, a 6F $38.5K Alw, he came back from a bad start, was five wide, and had a great closing kick.  His last race out he was bumped at start, 5 wide and faded.  

As I'm looking at this field, I like Clubman, Pal Cal, Dothatdance and Crouchelli as possible place finishers.  

Clubman trains well with two sharp bullet works on his past performance line and he has improving Beyers.  Hideous performance in the afternoons though as he's winless in 4 starts in 2018 and winless at the distance.  5 wins in 16 starts in 2017.  Of the group of non potential winners I've listed he's the one that could throw that apple cart over.  I need to see what the bettors think of him just before post time but I'm expecting they will like him as possibly 2nd best of the field.

I'm not sure what I'm doing with all of this yet, but exacta and 10 cent Super is most likely what I'll construct.  An idea of a 10 Cent Super is:

3-4-7-9 OVER 3-4-6-7-9 OVER 1-2-3-4-6-7-9 OVER 1-2-3-6-7-9 for $28.40.  I typed it, I read it, and I mostly hate it.  I'll sharpen my pencil and hone in on something more like:

3-4-9 OVER 3-4-7-9 OVER 3-4-7-9 OVER 1-2-5-7-8-10 for $9.60.  

I just gave you two Supers and I can't say I like either very much, but they are plausible.  I prefer Exactas and I'll be playing some version of combination in my base Handicap with possible winners 9-4-7-3 and Possible Place 6-2-1.  If I just bundle that together:

$1 exacta 3-4-7-9 OVER 3-4-7-9-6-2-1  $24.  I think I'm close to what my bet will look like now and I'll forget those Supers.

Have fun friends.

Turk Out!














References Cited

Ehalt, Bob.  2016, October 10.  Legacy of Jim McKay: Beloved Racing Voice and Visionaire.  Web.  America's Best Racing.  Retrieved from:  https://www.americasbestracing.net/the-sport/2016-legacy-jim-mckay-beloved-racing-voice-and-visionaire

Vespe, Frank.  2018 Oct 17.  Md. Million Classic: Trainers Voss and Maldonado approaching from Different Directions.  Web.  The Racing Biz.  Retrieved from: https://www.theracingbiz.com/2018/10/17/md-million-classic-trainers-voss-maldonado-approaching-from-different-directions/
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Joe Hirsch-Photo by Blood Horse

Welcome friends to the Turk and the Little Turk Blog.   Joe Hirsch, known as the Dean of American Turf Racing has been gone over over 9 years now, but with a Grade One race, The Turf Classic, names after him, he's far from forgotten.

Such a different era on so many different levels.  the County was different, horse racing was prominent, journalists were respected, integrity and ethics were everything.  It's amazing to me how as a society we have devolved the institutions of news reporting, in my humble opinion set in motion by a perfect storm of deregulation, the treating of news media as entertainment, the collapse of print and the rise of the internet, where any half-ass blogger or tweeter can say anything in a few pithy sentences and have it read more often, by more people, than any long form writer could hope for.

The American's of Joe Hirsch's heyday had to get the paper and read the words written about the greats of turf.  For me, it was waiting for Sports Illustrated and the writing of another great voice, Bill Nack, or listening to Jim McKay on ABC Sports on the weekend.  The Turk is none of those men.  I am neither a trained journalist or a professional writer.  What I do have in common with them is ethics and integrity.  I try to express my views and opinions on the sport of horse racing, and handicapping in particular, with honesty.  There is enough of fake news in our world, I try not to add to that blight. I'm not a tout, as four a four-letter word as there are to me.  I'm also neither part of the online horse racing intelligentsia that chimes in from some moral high ground tweeting disdain for anyone deemed not worthy.  If you are reading the Turk, and I know who you are,  all I can offer is my love of the horses above all else, my thirty years of reading past performances and analyzing the repeating patterns of them and my bet construction thoughts.  Know this:  I'm not trying to get rich betting the races.  I'm game is purely to carve out positive ROI over a long period of time and this platform of mine, now in it's tenth year, most likely isn't going to change much.  If that's cool with you, thanks and let's get after this race!


The weather is dry but the tracks are soaked.  This one however is on the turf which I'm handicapping as Soft/Yielding.  By the way, I've already handicapped The Vosburg, which is on the dirt, currently listed as Good but I have hopes it will be Fast later today.

Five of the eight entries here last raced in the 1 1/2 Mile Sword Dancer on Travers Day (missing: Robert Bruce, Carrick and Teodoro)


Sword Dancer G1:  1 1/2 Miles Firm Turf SAR

Glorious Empire - 2018 - The Sword Dancer Stakes - YouTube


Four the entrants went in The Bowling Green on soft surface.

Bowling Green G2: 1 3/8 Miles Soft Turf SAR

Channel Maker & Glorious Empire - DEAD HEAT - 2018 - The Bowling Green Stakes - YouTube


Robert Bruce (Chi) looking pretty strong swinging wide and closing at the Arlington Million.  Below you'll see him run a subtle 6th place finish but close to the winner in a blanket at The Manhattan. 

Arlington Million G1 : 1 1/4 Mile Firm Turf AP

2018 Arlington Million - YouTube




6 lengths back at the 1/8 pole.  Very strong showing indeed.












Here we have Carrick, a lightly raced 3 YO coming in from good turf at 1 1/4 Miles.  2 of 2 at Belmont, 4 of 4 in the money over turf.


The Secretariat G1:  1 1/4 Miles on Good Turf AP

Secretariat Stakes G1 AP 11 Aug 2018 - YouTube



The Manhattan G1:  1 1/4 Miles on Firm Turf BEL

Spring Quality - 2018 - The Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes - YouTube


I watched a bunch of video as well this morning on Twinspires TV of Teodoro (Ire).  Lasix for first time, drops 5 pounds, cuts back in distance.  Very inconsistent.  Isn't chalk overseas. I'm passing for now.


What do we do with this information?  I can't say I have a very strong opinion as The Turk fair line illustrates.




I'm thinking low risk exacta where I'm purely hunting for value.  I may just put Channel Maker on top with four or five of the field below him.  Something like 8 OVER 3-6-1-2-7 for $5.  Perhaps that's a bet that you hit only 20% of the time, maybe less, but the reward is worth the capital risk, and you must face it, capital risk is part of any game where you hand 20+% back to the house before you even start. 
Have fun with this friends, Turk Out!
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