• Uncle Mo, the Travers and Hoosier Hooey

    POSTED Aug 25, 2011
    This week’s column is kind of a potpourri of racing stuff. In between making a video for Emma Stone — it seems to be the thing to do these days — I also analyzed some video from Hoosier Park, handicapped the Travers Stakes (in a non-violent way, I assure you) and weighed in on yet another “miracle” associated with Lake Placid.

    Hoosier Hooey?

    On Tuesday, my buddy Scott Dick penned a great column for Horse Racing Nation entitled “Hoosier Park: Juvenile Excitement!” In it, he highlighted a couple of Indiana-based two-year-olds that impressed him (luckily, he has not recorded a creepy YouTube video on the subject… yet).

    The debut performance of one of the horses (Alumni) stood out to me… but not for the reasons one might think.

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    To say that Alumni’s lifetime bow was impressive is like saying the Kardashian-Humphries wedding drew an inordinate amount of media attention — it’s a gross understatement. After all, the son of First Samurai (I’m talking about Alumni, not Kardashian or Humphries) not only won by six resounding lengths — while racing wide, mind you — he also tied a Hoosier Park track record by blitzing five furlongs in 56-4/5 seconds.

    Yet it is that fantastic time that gives me pause.

    Look at the past performances above. Note that the half (four furlongs) was recorded in :46-2/5. This means that Alumni traversed the final eighth of a mile in just a shade over ten seconds. That’s not just fast, that’s Frankel fast — and, remember, Frankel is powered by a “magnum gun,” according to Alan Fraser of the Daily Mail.

    Now, I am presently awaiting a response from Hoosier Park officials regarding the accuracy of the electronic timer that day, but, in the meantime, I broke down the video replay and found that the reported half-mile split appears to be about a second too slow, which I’ve documented below:

    Clearly, Alumni’s performance was impressive… just not as impressive as it looks on paper.

    5th Hoosier Park (08/04/11)


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    School’s Out

    To provide some balance to all the gum clobbering about how Jose Lezcano (rider of Winter Memories) was “schooled” in the Lake Placid, which was run Aug. 21 at Saratoga, I present the following:
    A) The pace of the Lake Placid, as expected, was horrendously slow — a +6 early speed ration (ESR) for early leader Bellamy Star. As a result, the field was a lot more compact than usual. Winter Memories broke from post-position five, meaning her tactical options were limited: She could either race closer to the pace in traffic or drop to the back of the field and be in the clear.

    Now what do you think folks would have said had Lezcano chosen the latter option? If you answered “complained vociferously that he kept Winter Memories too far off a tepid pace,” you are undoubtedly correct.

    B) Hungry Island had the best overall late speed rations (LSRs) coming into the Lake Placid and, in fact, she repeated her most recent figure (+6) in last Sunday’s feature. Meanwhile, Winter Memories recorded a +3 LSR in the Lake Placid, which was an improvement over her previous number (a +1 in the Lake George).
    The bottom line was/is: Bettors that took 2-5 on a horse that hadn’t proven she was fastest in the first place were incredibly foolish and the unreasonable odds should not be held against Lezcano; contrary to what the tote and some over-enthusiastic turf writers said, he was not riding Secretariat.

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    Weekend Wagers

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    COMMENTS: Do my eyes deceive me or has juvenile champion and onetime Kentucky Derby favorite UNCLE MO had four straight five-furlong workouts? Give trainer Todd Pletcher — or whoever is impersonating him at Saratoga this year — credit. It looks like the son of Indian Charlie will be fit and ready for the Grade I King’s Bishop — and a fit and ready Mo could leave the crowd crying “Uncle.”

    Clearly, FLASHPOINT is the one to beat, but I suspect he’ll get overbet. If I’m wrong, he’s certainly a worthy alternative to the morning line favorite.

    RUNFLATOUT has been working up a storm, figures to be a square price and has a trainer (John Sadler) who is very adept with horses switching surfaces and dropping in distance.

    BET(S): WIN on 7 at odds of 2-1 or greater. SHOW on 3 (hoping for an inordinate amount of show money on Uncle Mo).

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    COMMENTS: I have been incredibly impressed with the fighting spirit that SHACKLEFORD has shown this year, which was on full display in the Haskell on July 31, when the son of Forestry gamely resisted Coil in the stretch before succumbing late. He has the best overall ESRs in Saturday’s field and became my top win contender when, after the post position draw, his trainer Dale Romans said, “I don't think there's anybody quick enough to get in front of him, if we want the lead. From the 10-hole we might try to go and try to open up a couple and see what happens.”

    The aforementioned COIL is the horse I could see pressing “Shack” early, as he had shown a fair amount of early zip before his come-from-behind score in the Haskell. If the Bob Baffert trainee is fully recovered from a reputed eye injury — Baffert insists he is — the consistent Coil could be a major player on Saturday.

    STAY THIRSTY is in good form — maybe too good. Is the dreaded “Pletcher Plunge” looming (witness Hilda’s Passion in the Bed o’ Roses)?

    If you’re seeking an intriguing longshot, look no further that RAISON D’ETAT, a rapidly improving Bill Mott charge. The only problem is Mott is woeful with horses showing ascending Beyer speed figures in graded stakes.

    BET(S): WIN on 10 at odds of 4-1 or greater.

    Derek Simon’s Free Selection Statistics

    Races (Selections): 46 (49)
    Wins: 18
    Rate: 39.1%
    Return: $139.90
    ROI: +42.76%

    (This year's published selections through 08/26/11.)

    Note: Play is restricted to any horse(s) that meet my fair odds requirements (when listed). Multiple qualifying contenders will be bet separately, however, multiple bets will be adjusted to equal a single wager and the payoffs averaged. For example a winning WIN/PLACE wager paying $6.20 on top and $4.30 underneath would count as a single bet paying $5.25 (the average of $6.20 and $4.30).
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