I'm not sure I can write it any better than my good friend G-Rob. I suck at handicapping horses. And that pretty much puts me in the category as 95% of all handicappers out there.
Playing the ponies is hard. We're gambling on the whims of some big, dumb animals ridden by tiny men.
So what went wrong for me?More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Kentucky Derby
Frankly, I didn't spend a whole lot of time on this race. I didn't exactly make that clear in my post, although in ranking the factors that lead me to bet Momba, I put both a random text message from BG and the random selection of Lady Luck above my handicapping.
Monba finished last. Big Brown ran a remarkable race from the outside post.
I didn't bet this race. It didn't make much sense to because Big Brown was facing one of the weakest Triple Crown fields in history. Instead of handicapping it, I gave you all a hot tip on Casino Drive in the Peter Pan Stakes.
Big Brown dominated the Preakness as expected and Casino Drive won the Peter Pan Stakes earning me a couple hundred bucks.
G-Rob seems to delight in the fact that my horse didn't even get to run the race. He seems to suggest that being scratched demonstrates my inability as a handicapper. If anything, I look at this race and think what could have been. Big Brown died on the track (well, not Racing Belles-like dying). I didn't expect that. I did expect, however, that Big Brown would not win this race. Had Casino Drive not been scratched, I'm fairly certain he'd have won it.
Instead, Da'Tara won. A horse that didn't seem like it belonged. It was the longest shot in the field for a reason. In the end, he got to run clean without any real competition. That's probably just the kind of race he needed.
I didn't make any money on the Triple Crown this year. I don't think I won anything last year, but I can't remember. Two years ago, I hit on Jazil in the Belmont for about $1250. BG and I haven't yet hit a Pick 6, but we've come moderately close. I hit a Pick 4 this year for about $1800. I also had a couple of really successful days at Evangeline Downs mixed in with some average ones.
Picking the ponies isn't easy. But I'm certainly not done sticking my neck out with bold predictions. Perhaps I should add more disclaimers like, "Don't bet my picks," but that won't be much fun for you on those days I do hit!
Now I'm just crossing my fingers that Casino Drive is back on American soil for the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita in late October...<-- Hide More
This was the horse. The horse to beat the unbeatable Big Brown. The horse to make history by being the third straight horse from the same mare to win the Belmont Stakes. The horse to make me a little cash.
And now, he's scratched. A bad left hind hoof didn't heal fast enough. After this morning's workout, Casino Drive was clearly favoring that leg. Forcing him to run would have risked serious injury. It's the right and responsible decision. If it were Rick Dutrow, he'd probably pump the horse full of some kind of illegal pain killer just to get him on the track. Hell, it wouldn't shock me if Dutrow put a Jeff Gillooly-Tonya Harding style hit on Casino Drive.
So throw out all my bets (I'll get a refund on each of them). If you're betting this race, Big Brown is going to win it. He'll go off at somewhere around 1-9, if you're lucky. He may end up being Belmont's biggest favorite ever. He'll win this race handily. It's just not worth putting a win bet on anyone else.
If you do want to bet stupid and hope to hit the lottery, try Denis of Cork or Tale of Ekati. I just don't think Anak Nakal or Macho Again can do it. I'll probably try a few trifectas and superfectas. That's the only place to make any money today.
Ten horses are about to run a race unlike any race they've ever run and likely unlike any race they will ever run again. Horses simply do not race 1 1/2 miles on dirt. It's just that simple. No major race in the United States goes that distance unless it's on turf, and even that is rare. Up until now, these 3-year old horses have rarely had an oppurtunity to go more than 1 1/4 mile, and that was only in the Preakness which ran 1 3/16 mile.
And that is one of the major reasons why we haven't seen a Triple Crown horse since Affirmed 30 years ago. In those three decades, 11 different horses arrived at the Belmont Stakes with a chance to make history. And all 11 lost. In 1988, Real Quiet lost by just a nose. In 1999, Charismatic lead in the final furlong but broke his leg and finished third. From 2002-2004, we had War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones. All great horses, and none closed the deal.
So how does this help you bet the Belmont?More in this Poker Blog! -->
It doesn't really. It would be nice to say, "Well, no one wins the Triple Crown so Big Brown won't win." It's not that easy. As I've already said, this race is different. No horse can truly be prepared for what they'll be facing. So who is most prepared?
1 Big Brown: Enough has been written about just how good he is. Undefeated in 4 starts with the closest win being 4 3/4 lenghts in the Derby. One of only two horses in the field to post a triple digit Beyer speed figure. Seemingly had no trouble with the Preakness distance.
Morning Line: 2-5
Predicted Finish: 2nd
2 Gudalcanal: A surprise last-minute entry, this horse is the only in the field to have run in a 1 1/2 mile race. Last time out, Guadalcanal finished 2nd by a nose over the turf at Churchill Downs. But how much does experience really count here? Not nearly enough.
Morning Line: 50-1
Predicted Finish: 8th
3 Macho Again: In a weak Preakness field, this horse placed, 5 1/4 lengths behind Big Brown. Unfortunately for his owner, I believe that's the high-water mark for his career. This field is better.
Morning Line: 20-1
Predicted Finish: 5th
4 Denis of Cork: Halfway through the Kentuck Derby, this horse sat in 13th place. When the race ended, Denis of Cork was in third. It was an impressive stretch run although it doesn't necessarily suggest he is in any position to out-duel Big Brown. He will, however, be a popular choice for trifectas.
Morning Line: 12-1
Predicted Finish: 3rd
5 Casino Drive: I've written about this horse before. My Hot Belmont Tip from May 10th told you that this would be the horse to watch. Despite being lightly raced (just two career starts), Casino Drive is my pick. When horses lack real experience at a certain distance, it pays to look at breeding. Casino Drive's is impeccable. A sore left hoof is concerning (there is a slight chance he won't be able to run), but I'm confident he'll be on the track when tomorrow comes and he's far and away your best chance at getting a good price on a winner.
Morning Line: 7-2
Predicted Finish: 1st
6 Da' Tara: Sorry, just not a contender. At all. This horse has been completely overmatched by this level of talent every time out. Da' Tara would need a perfect run and a lot of luck to even factor in the superfecta.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 10th
7 Tale of Ekati: Coming off a nice win in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, this horse seem primed to contend in the Derby. A fourth place finish may sound good, but Tale of Ekati was 11 lengths back of Big Brown. I don't see him fighting for a win tomorrow, but he could be in the mix from show on down.
Morning Line: 20-1
Predicted Finish: 4th
8 Anak Nakal: I'm not sure why, but this horse seems to be getting a lot of buzz going into this race. Seventh in the Derby and 5th in the Wood Memorial don't exactly suggest Anak Nakal is ready to win the Belmont. I'd be surprised if he made a strong push.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 7th
9 Ready's Echo: Like Da' Tara, this horse is completely outclassed in this field. Last time out, he finished 6 1/2 lengths behind Casino Drive in the Peter Pan Stakes. It would take quite a step up to contend this time out.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 9th
10 Icabad Crane: There's a little to like about this horse. His Beyer speed figures have climbed each of the last two races including a strong third place in the Preakness. I suppose with another step forward, Icabad Crane could be in the mix, but I just don't see it happening.
Morning Line: 20-1
Predicted Finish 6th
Big Brown is a great, great horse. As much as I detest trainer Rick Dutrow, it can't overshadow the talent Big Brown brings to the track.
(Digression. Why do I hate Rick Dutrow? It's not just that he's a loudmouth blowhard. It's that he's a cheater. From ESPN.com:
And he's been fined or suspended at least once every year since 2000 for doping issues. In 2000, a barn search in New York produced "an injectible vitamin which is forbidden." In '01, a horse had excessive Lasix -- an anti-bleeding medication -- in its system. In '02, Dutrow "failed to follow Lasix procedures." In '03, a horse tested positive for Mepivacaine. From '04 through an '08 fine in Florida, there were citations regarding Lasix, Clenbuterol, Phenylbutazone and Oxyphenbutazone. He served a 60-day suspension in 2005 after two of his horses tested positive for banned substances and for a claiming violation. Then, in 2007, he served an additional 14-day suspension and was fined $25,000 for violating conditions of his suspension by having contact with his stable.
He puts his horses in danger by doing anything to win. Big Brown has been pumped with a steroid every month. It's a steroid that is currently banned in 10 states, but not in the states where Triple Crown races are held. But I digress...)
Big Brown will likely win the Triple Crown. I think that's fair to say. He'll go off at less than even money (I'm guessing no better than 1-5). But I'm not betting him. Big Brown was as close to a sure thing in the Preakness a few weeks back as you could possibly be. He raced against a weak field that was unprepared to challenge him. That's not the case this time around. Plus, as ESPN.com points out, there may be a real effort by other jockeys and/or trainers to prevent a Triple Crown winner.
In other words, put your money on Casino Drive.
Here's what I'm betting:
$20 Win: 5 Casino Drive
$10 Exacta Box: 5 Casino Drive/1 Big Brown
$2 Exacta: 5 Casino Drive with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork and 7 Tale of Ekati
$1 Trifecta: 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork and 7 Tale of Ekati
$1 Superfecta: 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork and 7 Tale of Ekati with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork, 7 Tale of Ekati and 10 Icabad Crane
That's a total of $70. I'll let you know how I make out!<-- Hide More
I'll keep this short for those of you who don't care about horse racing (and therefore, don't care about making awesome amounts of money based on my handicapping insights!).
I'm eyeing a horse you probably haven't heard of. And his name is poker-blogger worthy, Casino Drive.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Back in 2006, I luckboxed my way into a pretty big pay day in the Belmont. I keyed in on Jazil and managed to hit the win, the exacta, the trifecta and the superfecta for a $1250 payout. I haven't yet been able to repeat that success.
Jazil is the reason I like Casino Drive. You see, they're half-brothers. Better Than Honor is the dam ("mom") of Jazil and Casino Drive, as well as Rags to Riches, the filly who shocked the Belmont field in 2007. If you're keeping track, that's the 2006 Belmont and the 2007 Belmont.
Better Than Honor was sired by Deputy Minister (her "dad") who has sired 80 different graded stakes winners. Deputy Minister is also the damsire ("granddad") of Bob and John and Curlin... perhaps you remember them.
Casino Drive was sired by Mineshaft, the 2003 U.S. Horse of the year. Mineshaft's blood line runs back through his sire A.P. Indy and his grandsire Seattle Slew.
Long story short (too late), Casino Drive has the blood line. He's very lightly raced, however, winning his only start in February at the Kyoto in Japan. He won by 11 1/2 lengths.
Casino Drive will make his American debut tomorrow at Belmont in the Peter Pan Stakes. He drew the rail (not my favorite, but not terrible) in the 9 horse field and will be ridden by legendary jockey Kent Desormeaux (who, you may remember, just won the Kentucky Derby aboard Big Brown). Casino Drive is the current morning line favorite at 2/1 (coupled with his stablemate), so it's not like he's some well-kept secret.
Regardless of how he does tomorrow (not all horses do well the first race after being shipped), Casino Drive will run in the Belmont Stakes in a month. And if Big Brown has already wrapped up the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Casino Drive could get a great price and be just the kind of horse to pull an upset.
Update: Casino Drive won the Peter Pan Stakes by 5 3/4 lengths, and that was despite getting out of the gate slowly. He went off at 6/5 stakes, so my $20 win bet only paid me $45. But, I also wheeled him on top of a $5 exacta with the rest of the field and an 18/1 longshot placed. That bet paid $166.25. Not a bad day at the virtual track.<-- Hide More