I renewed my domain name yesterday, so I guess Galloping Hat Rack is going to be around another year. Yay?!
Weekend races were predictably meh, as January prep races for the Derby and such are kind of not important. Really. For the race of the week, the Jerome (II) at Aqueduct, I took a chance and decided to give another one to Notacatbutallama (a ridiculously 10-1 morning line bet down to 9-2), who is either off his form or is just a turf horse at heart as he hung in the stretch again after making a mild move on the turn. Speed played a part, as longshot Siete de Oros (41-1) nearly pulled off the upset on my second choice Vyjack (1-1), who sat right behind him the whole time and just barely bobbed him out for the win. Not too far behind but well out of his element was third pick Long River (5-2) in fourth with third place going to another longshot in Amerigo Vespucci (39-1). Overall I’m not impressed with the Sham Stakes (III) either, and still think Den’s Legacy is an interesting kind of horse, who managed to run second. Goldencents was terrible value winning, and I can’t wait to go against him later on when the races start getting too long for him.
I have to admit something though— when I found out the two races’ favorites were both by freshman sire Into Mischief, I remembered last year’s Sham winner Out of Bounds being by Discreet Cat, who at the time was also a freshman sire. Discreet Cat experienced 2 graded winners the same day as last year’s Sham with Out of Bounds and I believe a filly on the east coast. The whole thing felt terribly ironic but I stubbornly stuck to my guns! AND EVEN MORE IRONIC, DISCREET CAT WAS A JEROME WINNER! Worth mentioning: Out of Bounds is back in training in Dubai!
If I had to pick one of the two as posed by horseracingchick, I’d take Vyjack. He was going two turns for the first time, was game in a good finish time, and all while being less experienced. I think he could probably be the better horse. Not by much though. Here’s the Jerome replay if you missed it… I will talk about the speed bias and turf-to-dirt excuses for Notacatbutallama below.
It’s kind of tough to determine what horses will transfer their form from one surface onto another well enough to compete. After two unexcusable misses on dirt both fast and sloppy, it’s evident that Notacatbutallama likely won’t be going to the Downs in May despite dirt pedigree. From this experience, I guess we can draw a few notes for the future about transferring good form from surface to surface:
- Works don’t matter as much - Recalling earlier efforts to handicap say, the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, a lot of turf horses were running on the dirt with good works on the surface. How much did this mean in the real race? Not much. Maybe it had to do with the dirt getting kicked up in their faces, or maybe they just didn’t like it much. Perhaps I can make an exception at times when they seem valid, however, such as Animal Kingdom’s impressive work on dirt in the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby (his first start on dirt).
- Speed succeeds - Or at least I think it does. A turf horse that likes to be closer to the front on the grass possibly has more ability to do so on dirt, giving them a better chance at success. A turf closing type has to dig in hard at the end, and on dirt this is even harder to do for obvious reasons. Of course, this ultimately depends on how fast the track is playing that day.
Again, this is more me trying to think of an explanation that might not have a real explanation. The track was not in Notacatbutallama’s favor for several reasons: 1) He’s probably not a dirt horse, 2) He’s a mid-pack closer, a “grinder” who could not compete with the speed bias at Aqueduct. The inner track, despite some hearsay, appears to still favor speed players… I’m sure everyone remembers how Calibrachoa somehow beat Caleb’s Posse’s closing rush last year (Calibra sat just off two dueling frontrunners then assumed the lead and held it)! Recalling all these I feel kind of dumb for not going with the speedier horse.
With a nice carryover Rainbow Pick Six for Wednesday, I hope to share picks for that day’s Gulfstream Park card, which has been full of nice value plays and is one of my preferred tracks. Perhaps I will even wager something.