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Thoughts on the Weekend Stakes Results

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Race

Grade

Track

Winner

Beyer

Louisiana Derby

II

Fair Grounds

Mission Impazible

94

Lane's End

II

Turfway

Dean's Kitten

93

Mervyn Muniz Jr.

II

Fair Grounds

Blues Street

tbd

New Orleans Hcp.

II

Fair Grounds

Battle Plan

103

Fair Grounds Oaks

II

Fair Grounds

Quiet Temper

91

Sunland Derby

III

Sunland

Endorsement

10 1

Orchid

III

Gulfstream

Speak Easy Gal

91

Santa Paula

III

Santa Anita

Tanda

tbd

Tokyo City Cup

III

Santa Anita

Tap It Light

95

Bourbonette

III

Turfway

Orchestrator

81

Pan American

III

Gulfstream

Bearpath

95

Duncan F. Kenner

Listed

Fair Grounds

Cash Refund

102

Al Quoz Sprint

Listed

Meydan

Joy and Fun (NZ)

n/a

Goldolphin Mile

II

Meydan

Calming Influence

n/a

UAE Derby

II

Meydan

Musir

n/a

Dubai Golden Shaheen

I

Meydan

Kinsale King

n/a

Dubai Duty Free

I

Meydan

Al Shemali (GB)

n/a

Dubai Sheema Classic

I

Meydan

Dar Re Mi (GB)

n/a

Dubai World Cup

I

Meydan

Gloria de Cameao (BRZ)

n/a

Beyer figures for all graded and ungraded stakes races can be found at the Daily Racing Form.

Thoughts on this weeekend's action below the jump...

 

  • At first glance of the timer and the finish of the race, it looked like Endorsement had run very big and the Beyer figure, 101, seems to confirm that..  Eskendereya's Fountain of Youth (103) is the only larger Derby prep figure.

    On the other side of the Derby prep ledger we have the Lane's End and the Louisiana Derby, both of which came up with a low/mid 90s figures, which pretty much means they fit in with a lot of the preps we've seen this spring.  
  • The connections say they are headed to Louisville, but it's tough to give Lane's End winner Dean's Kitten any sort of chance to win on the first Saturday in May.  Prior to his win at Turfway, Dean's Kitten had run eight of his last nine races on the turf where he achieved so-so success.  His only non-turf race in that sequence was the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont, a one mile race that was taken off the turf and run over a Belmont main track listed as "GOOD".  Dean's Kitten finished fifth of five horses that day, losing by 33 1/2 lengths.  That represents Dean's Kitten's sole effort over a dirt surface.  That's not the type of performance that makes you want to run to the windows to bet this horse in the Derby.  
  • You couldn't help but be impressed by Battle Plan's victory in the New Orleans Handicap after he grabbed the lead upon entering the backstretch, took the field through splits of 47.11 and 1:11.73, and still had enough left in the tank to hold off General Quarters through the stretch.  Battle Plan ran the final 1/8th of a mile in 12.82, nothing scorching but a decent split after setting an honest pace.  

    General Quarters has now finished second four straight times, and he's earned a speed figure of 101 in each of the last three races.  He's consistent and he's pretty good, but he doesn't win.  Right now, General Quarters is a money burner.
  • It doesn't have any impact on the Derby scene but the performance of Triple Crown nominee Cool Bullet in the six furlong Hansel Stakes at Turfway was very impressive.  Cool Bullet tried the Southwest Stakes and the LeComte earlier this spring but didn't measure up in terms of quality with the rest of the contenders.  Off of those sub par route efforts his connections switched him back to a sprint distance and it made all the difference in the world for this colt.  Breaking well under rider Calvin Borel, Cool Bullet clicked off fractions of 21.63, 44.45, and 1:08.97 on his way to an easy four and a half length victory.  The first two splits aren't anything special when you compare them to the other sprint races on the card - they are fast but not incredibly fast.  Where Cool Bullet separated himself from the rest is the 1:08+ final clocking; no other horse on the card that put up similar early splits was able to stop the timer anywhere near that number.  The Beyer figure for his performance came up as 99.

    The Hansel was run over Turfway's Polytrack surface, which is certainly something we have to note in the back of our minds, but I don't think that was the primary reason why this horse ran such a big race.  Prior to his starts in the Southwest and the LeComte, Cool Bullet ran well in a couple of dirt sprint events at the Fair Grounds, so he has previous dirt form.  I think the biggest reason for this colt waking up in the Hansel was the cut back in distance and not the surface.  And while he wasn't facing a bunch of world-beaters in this field you can't deny that he simply ran fast.

    If and when this colt turns up in a stakes event at a track other than Turfway (possibly back down at the Fair Grounds) he may be worth some value as many bettors will see the big performance on Polytrack and look the other way.  
  • I'm constantly amazed at how poorly North American bettors handicap international turf races and my amazement reached new heights while watching Saturday's Dubai Carnival of Racing.  

    God bless Presious Passion, he's a gutsy horse that tries hard every time, but sending him off at odds of around 5/2 in the Sheema Classic was beyond absurd.  He had maybe a 5% chance to win that race...10% if you want to be really generous (and I wouldn't be), yet the North American betting public believed that he had a 29% chance to win that race. That is the text book definition of an underlay, a huge underlay.

    Opposite Presious Passion was the mare Dar Re Mi that was practically ignored by the North American players at 14/1 on the board, meaning the betting public gave her about a 6.5% chance to win.  Dar Re Mi had finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Presious Passion in the Breeders' Cup Turf after finishing fifth by 3 1/4 lengths to Sea The Stars in the Arc last October.  Those two performances alone should have indicated that this mare can run with the best of them.  Prior to that she won three straight Group 1 races in England, France, and Ireland.  

    Winning Group 1 races in those Europe is tougher than winning most Grade 1 turf events in North America, that's just the way it is in the world of turf racing.  Our turf horses, on average, are not as good at the Euros, and our races are certainly not as contentious.  I'm not saying it was easy to come up with Dar Re Mi as the winner; this was a very deep field of horses and any number of them could have won.  But at the same time, Dar Re Mi was a much more likely winner than Presious Passion just based on the general quality of competition that each horse faces on a yearly basis.

    I have always believed that the reason American players over bet horses like Presious Passion when they take on international competition is because of the differences in the information presented in the past performances.  When we look at the record of European runners in the Daily Racing Form it can be hard to discern their true talent level.  There are no speed figures, no incremental splits, no running lines, we don't know much about most of the tracks we see listed...it's very difficult to easily pick out the pace, the stalkers, and the closers, much less separate the contenders from the pretenders.  And I think that confusion (along with an unfamiliarity of the quality of European runners) leads many American bettors to dismiss all but the "big name" European horses.  That doesn't mean that American horses can't beat their European brethren - they can and they do.  But when handicapping a race like the Sheema Classic or the Dubai Duty Free, American horses have to be viewed as unlikely winners, even if they are very strong in American turf races.