Saturday, February 18, 2012

Animal Kingdom Rolls Home

In his much anticipated return to racing the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, dispatched the other horses in a turf allowance race at Gulfstream Park.  On paper it seemed like it was his race to loose and the 3 year old champion did not disappoint.  After a slow break John Velazquez guided Animal Kingdom to the outside.  Midway down the backstretch Animal Kingdom moved up suddenly on the outside to be in contention.  Three wide on the far turn he held the momentum into the stretch and kicked away under a hand ride while easily holding off Monument Hill.  It always does the racing heart good to see this type of return from a champion!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Dangerous and Rewarding Time to Bet

Well, I'm back after my winter break from racing.  During the months of December and January I find myself in the swamps chasing waterfowl with my faithful lab.  Sure I logged into DRF to check the news, but didn't do much handicapping.  With duck season behind me I am back focused on racing.

Not only am I coming back from a winter break, so are a lot of horses and that makes this time of year a dangerous time to bet in my mind.  But, if you are successful at seeing upcoming talent or know which trainers are good this time of year it can be a very rewarding time as you can catch some horses at a good price.  As an example let's look back at the Donn Handicap.  Shackleford, Ruler on Ice and several other horses were making their first starts since last fall.  Flat Out had started on Jan 14, but left much to be desired with that start.  The big question here was who was going to take a step forward.  Certainly, by all accounts, including the clockers, Shackleford looked ready.  His tough, grind it out, front running style could hold here.  And what about Flat Out?  Was he going to show any step forward off  that disappointing first start in 2012?  With the season we saw in 2011, he was certainly capable.  And then there was Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice who drew a big question mark beside his name.  From there you had Hymn Book, Mission Impazible, Redeemed, Where's Sterling and Trickmeister all making their first starts in 2012 and all capable of winning should Shackleford or Flat Out not live up to the task - which we know they didn't.

Hymn Book was my 3rd choice behind Shackleford and Flat Out, with Ruler on Ice a close 4th due to the track rating.  The problem was the rest of the field was such a toss up that it was hard to find clarity in this race.  I find clarity much easier to come by in the mid to late summer races.  By then you get a good feel of form.  If a horse looks like he is going out of form then he probably is and if they look like they are coming into form (ie. Stay Thirsty last year at Saratoga last summer) then they should not be over looked.  This time of year is much different though, we have no recent form to compare, just a series of workouts and clocker comments (which should always be taken into consideration).  Though you can catch some good prices I usually choose to wait patiently for the late spring/summer races, while making notes and comments on horses in these early races that I can put to use later in the year.  However, if you have an eye for horses coming into form in these early in the year races then you stand to break the bank!