Welcome to the TimeformUS Blog

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Hello and welcome to the TimeformUS blog!

The purpose of this blog is to explain features of TimeformUS Past Performances, a new horse racing product which is optimized for tablets and the web. Currently, you can purchase TimeformUS Past Performances at TimeformUS.com or in the the TVG Handicapping Store.

This blog is also a great place to ask questions and provide feedback about our new product. Use the links below to get started, and if you have questions, email us at  Support@TimeformUS.com

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More TimeformUS How-To Videos

How to use TimeformUS Past Performances
TimeformUS Help Legend (PDF)
The Preview Page
The Fast PPs
• Result Charts
• The Race Finder Tool

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How TimeformUS is Different
TimeformUS Speed Figures
TimeformUS Spotlight Speed Figures
TimeformUS Pace Projector
• TimeformUS Running Lines
TimeformUS Pace Figures
• TimeformUS Bias Indicators
Full Result Charts
Trainer Ratings
• Pedigree Ratings
• Race Ratings
Enhanced Foreign Running Lines
• Running Style and Early/Late Ratings

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How TimeformUS is Different

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TimeformUS
 is a new kind of horse racing Past Performances, optimized for tablets and PCs. At TimeformUS, we’re focused on helping you understand races faster. We’re perpetually refining the site and PPs: New features will be introduced regularly.  To start: here’s a top 10 list on how we’re making it easier to play the game; click the links next to each item for a deeper description or a video on how it works.

First thing’s first: if you’re looking for a PDF legend labeling all of our features, click here

1) How we make our Speed Figures
Our state-of-the-art, single-number measure of all-around performance.
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Learn More >>

2) Our Pace Projector
The breakthrough timesaver that tells you where they’re gonna be early in a race, and more.
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3) Race Ratings
The TimeformUS Race Ratings help you quickly understand the quality of any race.
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4) TimeformUS Pace Figures
Based on the fractional times run by each horse at each point of call in a race, TimeformUS Pace Figures give you a clear sense of the pace scenarios that a horse has faced in prior races.
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5) TimeformUS Color-Coded Bias Indicators
When we see a surface that favored frontrunners or closers in a horse’s previous race, we flag that running line with red or blue coloring.
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6) Timeform Foreign Running Lines for shippers
TimeformUS PPs offer unparalleled info on horses who previously ran overseas.
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7) TimeformUS Result Charts
One-click access from the 1-2-3 section of every running line,  TimeformUS Result Charts are color-coded  and fully customizable.
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8)  Simplified but smart TimeformUS Trainer Ratings
Our Trainer Ratings show you instantly how a trainer performs overall and in specific situations.
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9) TimeformUS Race Finder
Use our Race Finder to quickly and easily find the types of races you like to play.
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10) TimeformUS Pedigree Ratings based on today’s surface/distance
On a 100-point scale and based on the surface/distance of today’s race, factoring in the TimeformUS speed figures assigned to the horses in the family of today’s runner.
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Visit TimeformUS.com, or see below for even MORE ways in which TimeformUS is different:

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On The Contrary: Santa Anita’s Most Playable Longshots on Friday

DontLetTheGamePassYouByfortfus

>>Friday February 5th | Go To TFUS PPs for today’s races at Santa Anita

Note: The goal of “On The Contrary” is to point out several horses every day who may be overlooked in the wagering and who can possibly add value to trifectas and superfectas (in high holes and low) and to Pick 3s, Pick 4s, etc. We will not be making “selections” per se in “On the Contrary.” Rather, we’ll encourage readers to give extra consideration to certain horses who may seem a little overmatched at first glance–but who are in fact the type of horses we often build our bets around. >>See related interview on betting longshots.

 Race 3:

Mysterious Miracle:

5-1 on ML:

In the mornings, this filly has been acting as if she will not be a maiden for long. Decent dirt-sprint breeding for the long haul (93 rating), though not really win-early breeding, but her trainer can get a firster ready and her rider (in light) can ride.

Race 4:

Backintheacademy:

20-1 on ML:

Overmatched mare interests us strictly in terms of the outside chance that she can hug the rail around both turns, then ease out and get up for 4th at a massive price. She is too slow to hope for much more than that.

Race 5:

Avanti Bello:

5-1 on ML:

Pace Projector shows him with a clear early lead in a race favoring speed. This jump in class is a significant one, but he has never been sharper. Need all of ML for what is a tough assignment.

Race 6:

Mr. Cartagena:

5-1 on ML:

Looks well placed to suck along in second place early and hang around for the trifecta. Would not get much more ambitious than that. He got back in form last time and has previously shown that he can put decent efforts together.

Race 8:

Fort Cady:

20-1 on ML:

Continuing the pattern on a day when we’re liking mostly untalented horses and, accordingly, are looking more underneath than on top, we will give this gelding a chance to capitalize on the projected fast pace and make a late, unambitious run into the super at a gigantic price. Rider rides mainly longshots but is extremely strong and has managed to stay in our good graces (no small feat).

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Horses in Focus At Santa Anita on Friday February 5th

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Hand-selected by The TimeformUS team, Horses in Focus stand out on our feature sets, such as pace projector, TimeformUS speed figures, spotlight ratings, trainer ratings, pedigree ratings, etc. Expect to see TimeformUS Horses in Focus on this blog typically every Wednesday-Sunday. If Horses in Focus are available for tracks with a later post-time, they will be added to this post throughout the day.

SANTA ANITA 

Race 6:

Player’s Charm, the 7 horse:

Pace Projector shows him on a clear early lead in a race projected to favor speed.

Strong 96 speed figure last time.

The ML favorite will win if he runs his best but seems vulnerable on this surface at this distance.

7-2 on ML.
——————————————
Race 8:

Dive Down, the 6 horse:

Pace Projector shows him on the early lead.

Strong 100 speed figure last time.

Earned the 100 despite not receiving an easy trip.

6-1 on ML.

 

 

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Saturday Stakes Preview: In The Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita, She’s A Warrior intriguing candidate…to run second to Songbird

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>>Go to the PPs for The | Post Time 3:30 PST Saturday

The Grade 2, $300,000 Las Virgenes has a field of seven three-year-old fillies going a mile on the main track. The undefeated Hollendorfer filly Songbird, last seen putting an unholy beating on her BC Juvenile Filly opponents at Keeneland, is going to be an overwhelming favorite.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Songbird will have the early lead all to herself. Jade Princess is shown in second place early.

The fastest Late Pace rating in the field, an 88, belongs to Street Fancy.

Here is the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

She’s a Warrior (20-1):

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.28.46 PM

Nice, improving pattern of speed figures. Most recent race was not quite as nice as it looks. Received friendly trip and spent quite a bit of time on the lively rail. But draws well, has a pattern that suggests further improvement is in store in the near future, and will be a massive price.

Land Over Sea (8-1): Has run well against Songbird in the past (losing by 4.5 lengths more than qualifies), has the second fastest speed figures in the field, and is an obvious candidate to fill out the exacta.

Street Fancy (6-1): Rock-solid filly is in great hands, is doing everything right, and gets a superb route rider. Has the fastest Late Pace rating in the field and looks like the second best filly in the field.

Jade Princess (10-1): Brings pretty pattern of speed figures into this, though 19 points slower than the favorite. Was humbled in the extreme the last time she faced Songbird. Blatant exotics contender at relatively short price.

Decked Out (20-1): Enters off lifetime top speed figure of 95, her best since her debut back in May. Lone route attempt was disappointing but not dispositive. Not out of question, at giant price, for lower exotics.

Songbird (1-5):

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.25.15 PM

Sparkling filly is four for four lifetime. She has won those four races by a combined 22 lengths. She has won two sprints and two routes. She has won a route on this racetrack. She has won three Grade 1s. She won the BC Juvenile Fillies in hand. Her trainer is as smart and as careful as any trainer anywhere. Her rider is smart and cool and at his best in situations such as this one. She has a pattern of speed figures (104 111 113 116) that would not be out of place in a “What to Look for in a Young Horse” instructional video. Her trainer does not get a great rating off layoffs of this length, but if he is aiming at a strong effort off a layoff, he knows precisely how to get it. Personally, we pay little attention to what trainers say, but we make a slight exception with Hollendorfer because he weighs his words and has our respect in all areas, and he seems happy with the situation going into this race. Knocks on this splendidly talented filly going into this race? There are no guarantees off layoffs. There are bigger fish (indeed, sharks) to fry down the road. She has never won from off the pace. She has never faced a fast pace. The latter two knocks will likely prove null and void by the time they reach the first turn. Imagining this filly going down to defeat in this spot is not impossible, but it takes a lot more effort (much of it excessively creative) than we are inclined to produce.

Merirosvo (30-1): Recent maiden winner probably needs to improve by 20 points to threaten Songbird on the stretch-out while breaking from a bad post and being obliged to change her running style.

The Play:

We will concede this race to Songbird. Street Fancy and Land Over Sea look next best. But an exacta and trifecta we want to cover will have Songbird on top and She’s a Warrior underneath.

 

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Saturday Stakes Preview: In The Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, can Dressed in Hermes handle dirt (and Mor Spirit)?

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>>Go to the PPs for The Robert B Lewis| Post Time 2:00 PST Saturday

Back to the Derby Trail with the Grade 3, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis, which has been won by Ferdinand, Sham, I’ll Have Another, and Dortmund, just to name the first four that jumped out at us. We have seven three-year-olds going a mile and 1/16 on the main track. The early weather forecast shows sunshine. The field is led by Grade 1 winner Mor Spirit and the promising third-time starter I Will Score.

Looking at all the running styles and results from SA races this meet, at a mile and 1/16 in particular and route races in general, we’re seeing that staying in touch with the pace has definitely been the way to go.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, the early leader will be I Will Score, and he will be in the clear. He is followed by Laoban and Uncle Lino. Then there’s a gap back to Dressed in Hermes and Mor Spirit.

The fastest TimeformUS Late Pace rating in the field belongs to…well, we’re drawing the line at splitting these hairs. Call it a tie: with Laoban, Path of David, and Let’s Meet in Rio in a photo.

Here is the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

Let’s Meet in Rio (6-1): Baffert colt showed little in his first two starts, both accompanied by big trouble at the start. Then he jumped to a speed figure of 105 while breaking his maiden at Los Alamitos. Then he ran second in the Grade 3 Sham, a race that received the same Race Rating as the preliminary Race Rating for today’s race. His speed figure did regress by two points, but he spent considerable time running on a rail that we thought was dull. He draws well for this. However, Pace Projector shows him in last place at the opening half-mile. He will almost certainly need to go forward in order to win this race, and the racetrack may be against him.

I Will Score (5-2): Hollendorfer colt took money in his debut, at Los Alamitos in a short sprint over the summer, and beat a soft field with ease, earning a speed figure of 104. After four months on the sidelines, he returned in a bottom-level allowance sprint at Santa Anita, broke just a tad slowly, made the lead before the 1/4, and held together to win by a head. At the finish, there were four horses within half a length or so of each other (generally not a great sign), and he improved his speed figure to a 109. According to our Breeding Ratings, I Will Score has breeding that is slanted more towards sprints than routes. But Hollendorfer is very good (85 rating) first route. Pace Projector has I Will Score in the lead. How easy will this lead be? Much seems to depend on the other stretch-out sprinter, Uncle Lino, this one drawn on the outside. He’ll certainly use some of his speed from the gate. Will he then be able to sit and rate? If so, I Will Score could be in for a friendly trip. And finally, Hollendorfer has been having what for him is a lousy meet. (That is going to turn around at some point.)

Dressed in Hermes (6-1):

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 11.58.27 AM

He made his debut in a dirt sprint at Del Mar last summer. Then he raced on grass four times and became a Grade 3 winner. His last two grass figures, both earned as a two-year-old, were 108 and 111. The 111 stamps him as the fastest horse, to date, in this race. His victory in the Cecil B. DeMille was visually nice. He raced wide and then showed powerful acceleration when asked—the latter just what one wants to see in a grass horse. This is a very nice grass horse. But today’s race is on dirt, and his Breeding Ratings promote grass over dirt. So let’s take a close look at his lone dirt race: The clocker comments going into the race indicated that he needed a race. He went off at 10-1. He did not break well. He settled wide down the backstretch. Then he uncorked a powerful, very wide turn run. It was eye-catching. Then he hit a wall in the stretch (like a short horse?) and finished fourth beaten about six lengths. He earned a speed figure of 81. In his second start, he stretched out, switched to grass, and improved by three points. In other words, there was nothing at all wrong with his lone dirt try. On the other hand, the negative hand, there is a sort of Law of Nature working against the chances that a horse who shows promise on dirt, then labors and turns himself into a high-quality grass horse, will carry all of that improvement over on the switch back to dirt. In short, we see Dressed in Hermes as being likely to go backwards here, but it does not have to happen. There is at least some reason to think he can pair here. And he should be a nice price. This is an interesting—albeit highly speculative–horse.

Laoban (12-1): Went backwards two points in his fine performance in the Sham. However, he was annoyed, more or less continuously, during the very first part of the race. And he lost considerable ground racing wide. In spirit, he did not go backwards in the Sham, though he did keep off the dull rail. Will need further improvement today, and our gut does not think that Eric Guillot will get it. But heartfelt credit to him if he does.

Mor Spirit (8-5): Ran a 109 finishing second in a Grade 2 in the Kentucky slop in November. Baffert then sent him to Los Alamitos, where he won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity with a 107. That race received a Race Rating of 105, four points lower than the early rating for today’s race. The second-place finisher returned to run poorly, but that doesn’t move us in a significant or even a mild way. A horse lower down the chart returned to improve, another almost paired, another ran poorly.  It’s all inside the margin of error for the time being. Mor Spirit is the most accomplished horse in the field. He is proven around two turns and in strong company. He is the deserving favorite. We don’t like his odds.

Path of David (8-1): Similar in significant ways to Dressed in Hermes, but we prefer the latter because we do not find Path of David’s old dirt races to be as pleasing as Dressed in Hermes’ lone dirt race.

Uncle Lino (5-1): Nice pattern of speed figures: 89 102 105. Breeding for route debut is fine. Trainer Gary Sherlock, perfectly competent though he is, gets a 0 rating, on a small sample, going sprint to route, and a 47 rating going third off the layoff. This colt showed a versatile style in his sprints. The presence of the speedy I Will Score is probably causing his connections to fret a bit. Nice horse. Promising horse. Will need some things to fall into place but cannot be ruled out.

The Play:

We can’t resist taking a highly speculative shot that Dressed in Hermes will handle the dirt. Win bet on Dressed in Hermes. Will also use under the two ML favorites in exotics.

 

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Saturday Stakes Preview: It’s high time for Shining Copper to be taken seriously in the G1 Gulfstream Park Handicap

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>>Go to the PPs for Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap | 5:23 EST Post Time Saturday

The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap is the first Grade 1 race of the calendar year by approximately 30 minutes, just preceding the Donn Handicap. While the bulk of this field is composed of also-rans from the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes, this group does include at least one proven Grade 1 performer, The Pizza Man.

The popular 2015 Arlington Million winner launches his seven-year-old campaign in this spot and would go over the $2 million mark in career earnings with a win. While he has been successful going this short in the past, he’s undoubtedly a bit better going longer than this nine-furlong distance.

The Pace Projector is not predicting a pace that is fast or slow, but it does clearly illustrate that there’s only one confirmed frontunner in this race, the speedy Shining Copper.

Let’s go through the field:

#1, Lukes Alley (8/1): This six year-old Ontario-bred made just his second trip out of Canada for last month’s Fort Lauderdale Stakes and the results were quite encouraging. Dismissed at 8/1 despite having compiled a strong resume racing over synthetic surfaces, Lukes Alley proved that he’s just as good on turf as he is over Woodbine’s Polytrack. That said, Lukes Alley did receive an absolutely perfect trip in the Fort Lauderdale, riding the rail the entire way before tipping out just one path in the stretch to get within a half-length of wire-to-wire winner Heart to Heart. He drew well towards the rail once again, and his tactical speed should serve him well in a field lacking speed and tracking types. He’s in the mix, but he needs to show up with another top performance.

#2, Legendary (10/1): While never quite a Grade 1 performer, Legendary has carved out a niche for himself in Grade 2 and Grade 3 company over the past two seasons. He appeared to be tailing off towards the middle of 2015, but he rebounded with solid performances in the Commonwealth Cup and Knickerbocker in the fall. At his best, he can achieve speed figures in the low 120s, but we still believe he’s biting off a bit more than he can chew at this level.

#3, Triple Threat (10/1): He was impressive in his stateside debut in the Monmouth Stakes last June, but he has yet to get back to the winner’s circle while on a steady diet of Grade 1 stakes since then. He was soundly defeated by today’s rivals The Pizza Man and Shining Copper in the Arlington Million, and we believe that he may be slightly overmatched at this level.

#4, All Included (12/1): This Todd Pletcher-trainee has been steadily improving over the past year. His breakout performance came in last season’s Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga when finishing third to the immensely talented Ironicus. He did ride a gold rail that day before angling out in the stretch, but it was nevertheless a strong performance. Since then, he’s been unlucky on a few occasions. He was compromised by a three to four-wide trip in the Knickerbocker, and then he did not care for a rain-softened turf course in the Tropical Park Turf Handicap. He was a little wide once again last time in the Fort Lauderdale, but we do feel that he’s starting to run out of excuses. We know he has ability at this point, but we would still require a price of around 12/1 or higher to strongly support him in exactas and trifectas.

#5, Eh Cumpari (20/1): This horse has not taken a step forward since winning the Palm Beach here as a three-year-old. He’s in over his head.

#6, The Pizza Man (4/5): Here is the star attraction in this year’s Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. The Pizza Man proved his class and versatility through the latter portion of 2015, beating U.S. Turf Champion Big Blue Kitten in the Arlington Million before finishing a close second in the too-short Shadwell Turf Mile. Once again, he’s racing over a distance that is probably a furlong short of his best, but his superior ability nonetheless makes him a major threat to take down this initial Grade 1 of the season. However, The Pizza Man is listed at 4/5 on the morning line, and, while that seems short, he is indeed likely to go off as a very strong favorite. Given the likely price, we should point out that he was the beneficiary of a fast pace when he was successful in that Shadwell Turf Mile, and beyond that, he received fast paces in a number of races in a number of starts last season. The Pizza Man once had tactical speed, but he’s turned into a deep closer in recent months. That’s somewhat of a concern in today’s race given the overall lack of frontrunners, aside from the speedy Shining Copper. He is the most likely winner, but we wouldn’t want to take too short of a price on a horse that undoubtedly has bigger fish to fry down the line.

#7, Takeover Target (10/1): This newly turned four-year-old is the one we really want out of the Fort Lauderdale. Not only was he compromised as a closer racing behind a slow pace (color-coded in blue), but he was following All Included for much of the running and was prevented from making a move when caught in traffic at a critical point approaching the top of the stretch. He showed that he has the ability to sit closer to the pace when necessary, in races such as the Hill Prince and Hall of Fame last year. The 123 speed figure that he registered last time is a great starting point, and he must be considered a major threat here given the likelihood of his working out a better trip while possibly taking a step forward second time back from the layoff.

#8, Shining Copper (6/1): 

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.17.49 AM

This is by far the most intriguing runner in this race. Since being claimed by the Ramseys in late May of last year, he has been used as a “rabbit” in four consecutive starts, primarily for the purpose of benefitting Big Blue Kitten. Most rabbits set out to influence a race for the first three-quarters of a mile or so and then yield to their more highly regarded stablemates. But Shining Copper has not been your typical rabbit. He set fast paces in both the United Nations and Arlington Million, and still led those fields into the final eighth of a mile before succumbing to top turf runners like Big Blue Kitten, The Pizza Man, and Slumber. He couldn’t quite repeat those feats when stretched out to a more demanding mile-and-a-half in his next two starts, but he did earn the distinction of registering the highest-ever TimeformUS Pace Figure in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (>>see related piece). Now, for the first time, Shining Copper is on a solo mission. Is it possible that this horse could have won races like the United Nations and Arlington Million if he, rather than his stablemate, had been the focus? We’ll never know, but there’s no doubt that he has improved immeasurably under the care of Mike Maker and Chad Brown. Today he attracts the services of Joel Rosario, widely regarded to be an excellent front-running jockey, and we would imagine that Chad Brown has worked with him to tame that natural early speed in advance of this 2016 campaign. If they use his speed wisely and he brings a top effort, we don’t see any reason why he couldn’t take down The Pizza Man—and the price is going to be generous.

THE PLAY

WIN:  #8

EXACTA:  #8 with 4,6,7

 

 

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Saturday Stakes Preview: In the G1 Donn at Gulfstream, Keen Ice is the horse to beat, but not the horse to bet

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>>Go to the PPs for The Donn| Post Time 5:53 EST Saturday

Traditionally the first major Grade 1 race on the calendar for older dirt horses, quite often in recent years the Donn Handicap has served as an unofficial prep for U.S.-based runners looking to make the trip overseas for the Dubai World Cup. This year, 2015 Travers winner Keen Ice is looking to use this race as a springboard to glory on World Cup night in late March.

As the only Grade 1 winner on dirt in the race, Keen Ice is unmistakably the star attraction in this renewal of the Donn. The race also features the top two finishers out of each of the local preps, the Harlan’s Holiday and Hal’s Hope. Gulfstream Park’s leading trainer, Todd Pletcher, is represented by no fewer than three runners.

The Pace Projector is predicting a situation that benefits horses racing on or near the lead, which may work in favor of the two likely pacesetters, Valid and Financial Modeling.

Let’s go through the field:

#1, Madefromlucky (5/1): This guy really started to come into his own during the latter half of 2015, winning the Peter Pan and West Virginia Derby in the aftermath of the Triple Crown trail. After a disappointing effort in the Pennsylvania Derby, he rebounded nicely in his final pair of starts last year, twice exceeding 120 on the speed figure scale with his runner-up finishes in the Discovery and Harlan’s Holiday. He’s naturally a closer, but he has shown the ability to stay within striking distance of the pace, as he did in the slop two back. We’re not sure that he’s a legitimate Grade 1 performer just yet, but, on the other hand, this isn’t the strongest Grade 1 event.

#2, Closing Bell (15/1): Here’s an intriguing entrant. After hinting at good things in his debut, Closing Bell stepped forwardly nicely in his second start when switched to dirt, overcoming a wide trip to register a determined neck victory against what, at the time, felt like a strong field. However, following that race his connections sent him immediately back to turf and that’s where he spent the rest of his 2015 campaign. He made use of his ample stamina to excel at distances of a mile and a quarter and farther, earning a Grade 1-placing in the 10-furlong Secretariat. Now they’re taking another shot on dirt in a very ambitious spot to kick off his four-year-old season. We actually do see some indicators supporting the notion that this runner may indeed be better suited to dirt. Obviously the 103 speed figure he earned in that maiden win can’t get the job done here, but he’s clearly improved since then. The pace may work against his plodding running style, but we wouldn’t completely count this horse out at a big price.

#3, Mshawish (7/2): The other Grade 1 winner in the field earned his win at racing’s highest level on turf in last year’s Gulfstream Park Handicap. This year, he’s testing his mettle on dirt after solid showings in both the Cigar Mile and Hal’s Hope. He’s certainly a contender in this spot, but we do have some reservations. He’s never gone two turns on the main track and has never had to deal with a significant amount of kickback in his dirt races. His natural speed should place him relatively close to the early pace, but he’s going to have to improve slightly on his recent speed figures to take down the top prize.

#4, Valid (6/1): This horse is in a great position to use his tactical speed as a weapon in this race. Financial Modeling was ridden aggressively last time to take advantage of an apparent rail bias, but Valid is the only natural speedy type in this race. He has shown the ability to run hard for the entire duration of his races, no matter the distance. Nine furlongs proved to be no issue last summer when he powered away from a decent field in the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth. He’s coming into this race in excellent form, having earned speed figures of 123 and 125 while trading decisions with Todd Pletcher-trained runners in the Harlan’s Holiday and Hal’s Hope. Valid has always thrived on racing and has done some of his best work at Gulfstream Park. This is a great opportunity for him to finally earn a Grade 1 victory.

#5, Mexikoma (8/1): While he was visually impressive in the Sunshine Millions Classic, registering a 125 speed figure for his length and a half score over Mr. Jordan, this is a much tougher spot. (Note the race rating of 117 for that race compared to the preliminary rating of 127 for today’s event.) Mr. Jordan doesn’t really want to go nine furlongs, and no one else so much as lifted a hoof that day as the runner-up finished 12 lengths clear of the also-rans. Mexikoma has shown improved tactical speed in recent starts, which should help him here, but we get the feeling that he’s going to be overbet off his last effort.

#6, Keen Ice (5/2): His connections have made it clear that a win is not necessary for them to advance on to the Dubai World Cup next month. Keen Ice merely needs to put in his typical strong finish. That said, he remains the horse to beat in here. Whereas many of the others are making rare forays into Grade 1 company, Keen Ice has seen nothing but Grade 1 foes since last spring. During that time, he won the Travers with a field-high 130 speed figure, becoming the only horse to finish ahead of Horse of the Year American Pharoah during that one’s historic campaign. Neither the Breeders’ Cup Classic nor the Clark Handicap set up all that well for him, as both featured moderate paces. We do feel that he perhaps could have won the Clark had his new partner, Corey Lanerie, kept him a bit closer to the pace. That’s why we love this rider switch back to Javier Castellano, who is the one that orchestrated that upset in the Travers. He did so by getting Keen Ice into the race earlier so that he could use his stamina to wear down his rivals. We imagine he’ll try to pull off a similar feat as Keen Ice enters this race off a series of strong drills. All indications are that this horse is sitting on a big four-year-old season, but, knowing that there are more important targets down the road, we wouldn’t want to take too short of a price on him here.

#7, Itsaknockout (4/1): A disappointment on the Derby Trail last year, he returned with a strong effort on New Year’s Eve, easily besting a field of allowance runners over a mile while earning a competitive speed figure of 123. As was the case with Mexikoma, this is by far the toughest spot he’s ever tried, and we wonder if he’s going to attract more support than he really deserves, especially considering who trains him. There’s also the question of two turns, since he appeared to be tiring towards the end of his efforts at route distances last year.

#8, Financial Modeling (10/1): The December 19 card at Aqueduct featured a strong inside speed bias, and Financial Modeling was ridden to take advantage of it. His prior dirt efforts are not nearly good enough to compete with today’s foes. We respect Chad Brown, but it seems as if this one is biting off more than he can chew.

THE PLAY 

Keen Ice (#6) and Valid (#4) appear to be the two most likely winners, with the latter likely to offer better value of the two. Of the Pletcher trio, we slightly favor Madefromlucky (#1), who figures to go off at the best price, but we aren’t exactly enamored of any of them. We also cannot count out long shot Closing Bell (#2), who could sneak into the exacta at a big price. We’re going to go a little wider than we usually would on our exacta play, as we believe Closing Bell and Valid’s prices could merit this type of play.

WIN: #4 VALID at 5/1 or higher

WIN: #2 CLOSING BELL at 12/1 or higher

EXACTA: 2,4,6 with 1,2,4,6

 

 

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On The Contrary: Santa Anita’s Most Playable Longshots on Thursday

DontLetTheGamePassYouByfortfus

>>Thursday February 4th | Go To TFUS PPs for today’s races at Santa Anita

Note: The goal of “On The Contrary” is to point out several horses every day who may be overlooked in the wagering and who can possibly add value to trifectas and superfectas (in high holes and low) and to Pick 3s, Pick 4s, etc. We will not be making “selections” per se in “On the Contrary.” Rather, we’ll encourage readers to give extra consideration to certain horses who may seem a little overmatched at first glance–but who are in fact the type of horses we often build our bets around. >>See related interview on betting longshots.

 Race 3:

Village Kitten:

6-1 on ML:

The downside is clear: He ran poorly off a long layoff last year, and he has not been impressive in preparation for this race. The upside is that he should be a price, and he has the talent to run with these. Would demand all of the ML and then some.

Popsracer:

12-1 on ML:

Worth an exotics look going first turf off the claim and first grass while losing blinkers. Needs huge jump to contend, but seems reasonably likely to show some improvement today and maybe hit exotics at serious price.

Race 4:

Chromium:

12-1 on ML:

Received preposterous trip last time. Lacks talent, but we think he has more to show than he has shown so far. Would not exclude from exotics.

Race 5:

Rob’s Pal:

4-1 on ML:

Solid gelding looks like must-use in trifecta and a win would not surprise. Solid figures. Draws well. Pleasing style.

Sunbeamsfromheaven:

15-1 on ML:

Highly speculative gelding has talent that he has not displayed recently. Training well. Threat here if those grass jumps last year reflected ability rather than surface preference.

Race 7:

Street Vision:

6-1 on ML:

Improving colt would not need to improve all that much further to take this. Draws well. Training well. Will need to handle two turns.

Race 8:

Attack:

8-1 on ML:

See him as must-use underneath. Hard to see him winning.

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