Baffert on Indian Charlie: “A superstar from day one.”

Indian Charlie, who died at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky on Dec. 15, won the 1998 Santa Anita Derby then finished third as the favorite to Real Quiet in the Kentucky Derby. The 16-year-old horse sire four champions: Fleet Indian, 2006 Eclipse Award winning older female; Indian Blessing, 2007 Eclipse Award winnning juvenile filly; Indian Apple Is, 2010 Sovereign Award (Canadian) winning female sprinter; and Uncle Mo, 2010 Eclipse Award winning juvenile male. Video from

Results, Monday, Santa Anita, Race 2 — lost $750

Jockey Chantal Sutherland

In three of What a Rush’s first four races, he pushed the pace then faded away to finish no closer than four lengths from the winner. After a six-month layoff, trainer A.C. Avila dropped the 3-year-old gelding in class from maiden special weight to maiden $20,000.

By running against cheaper horses, What a Rush was able to sit closer to the lead, but he still lacked the toughness to gut out a close win. For example, What a Rush had a lead in deep stretch on Nov. 11, but faltered to finish third by a neck. When he came back on Dec 7, What a Rush was in second place a half length behind the leader in the stretch, but finished third again.

However, on Monday at Santa Anita, What a Rush put it all together. Instead of hustling to be on the pace, What a Rush broke midpack in the 10-horse field and was sitting in fourth as the runners entered the far turn. Jockey Chantal Sutherland had a ton of horse as she eased up the inside on the turn, cruising into third behind the leader #6 Street Titan and the second place horse #7 Siempre Mio.
But the stretch run had been where What a Rush had struggled in his career. In fact, in five of his most recent races, What a Rush ended up in a worse finishing position than before he entered the lane. What a Rush had competitive Beyer Speed Figures with the rest of Monday’s field and the 81 Beyer he ran on March 25 towered over any race run by the other horses. If What a Rush could roll another 81 Beyer, then he’d win by open lengths.
The main question, though — which was about to be answered as the field came off the turn — was had Avila and Sutherland taught What a Rush how to rate?  Would he pass horses in the stretch?
If not, then it was not sensible to run him at 6-1/2 furlongs. He belonged in shorter sprints. Well, in the end, it looked like What a Rush had learned a thing or two in his seven-race career. Entering the stretch, he was just two lengths back. But with Sutherland whipping and driving in midstretch, What a Rush blew by Street Titan at the sixteenth pole, then nailed Siempre Mio on the wire.
In my betting strategy, I downgraded What a Rush because I viewed him as an early-speed type, which I was trying to avoid because only 16 percent of horses on the lead have won at this class and distance. In a cruel twist, one of the animals that I decided to bet, Street Titan, had never gotten the lead in the 10 past performances showing in the form. Yet he and jockey Joe Talamo dashed to the front when the starting gate bell rang.
Street Titan went the first quarter in a quick 21.89 seconds and got to the half in 44.53. In deep stretch, Street Titan was cooked and faded to third. My other horse, #4 Zapeye, who was coming off a long layoff, never threatened and I was quickly down $750 in imaginary betting money.
To watch this race, go to
1 1 Warrens Two to One (CA) Maldonado-Alicea E Van Berg J 107.50 9
2 2 St. Valentino (CA) Delgadillo A Garcia O 39.00 4
3 3 Maybe Tuesday (CA) Flores E McCarthy S 22.10 5
4 4 Zapeye (KY) Bejarano R Eurton P 4.30 6
5 5 What a Rush (CA) Sutherland C Avila A 3.00 1
6 6 Street Titan (KY) Talamo J Mitchell M 2.00 3
7 7 Siempre Mio (CA) Quinonez A Wicker L 11.40 2
8 8 Three Time Dancer (CA) Castanon A Castaneda K 66.80 10
9 9 Directors Room (CA) Scott J Nettles K 60.90 8
10 10 Trando’s Tremor (CA) Pedroza M Pender M 3.30 7
Pgm Win Place Show
5 $8.00 $4.20 $3.00
7 $10.60 $6.20
6 $2.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $49.70 (5-7)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $920.70 (5-7-6-2)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $123.00 (5-7-6)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $14.20 (6-5)
Fractional Times
21.89, 44.53, 1:09.39, 1:15.89

Monday, Santa Anita, Race 2 — post time 12:32 pm PST


Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming, $20K, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo’s and up

Possible overlays                    Morning line
#3 Maybe Tuesday                         8/1
#4 Zapeye                                           4/1
#5 What a Rush                                 4/1
#6 Street Titan                                  5/2
#10 Trando’s Tremor                     3/1
I am hoping that first-time starter #3 Maybe Tuesday is cold on the board and his odds drift into the 10-to-1 to 20-to-1 range. Then I won’t have to deal with him. These cagey connections bet their live horses and this gelding is a contender if less than 10-to-1, although I probably won’t take him anyway.

I think a mid-70’s Beyer Speed Figure will be necessary to win this contentious race. Coming off of a nine-month layoff, #4 Zapeye is trying dirt for the first time after not threatening in his three turf routes. Being a 3-year-old who was a May foal, Zapeye is definitely eligible to improve and my layoff information shows that horses who look like Zapeye have been outstanding bets at 7-to-2 to 5-to-1, but they tail off a bit up to 10-to-1. It’s interesting to note that this gelding is named for handicapper and breeding consultant Larry Zap, whose Twitter account @LarryZapeye states that he is known “as the Eye for being able to measure quality in Thoroughbred racehorses.”

Chantal Sutherland rode Zapeye in his first three races, but she moves to #5 What a Rush. Sired by Tribal Rule, What a Rush has plenty of early speed, which I believe is disadvantageous for this class at 6-1/2 furlongs. In fact, only 16 percent of these races are won by runners who get the lead at the quarter pole. However, by what I observed watching What a Rush’s last two tries, it appears that Sutherland and trainer A.C. Avila are working with the horse to throttle back his early energy. To me, this horse appears to fit better at 6 furlongs or shorter. However, What a Rush did run an 81 Beyer figure five races ago on March 25 and he’d be tough to catch if he ran like that on Monday.

Mike Mitchell trains #6 Street Titan. Need I say more?

Mitchell, who won with a gaudy 107 of 324 runners this year — or 33 percent, took over the training of Street Titan this Fall after Ian Wilkes and Roger Attfield made a combined 10 unsuccessful attempts with him to win higher class races in the Midwest and in Canada. The fact that Street Titan is making his 13th start doesn’t bother me at all. Sure, he’s failed 12 times, but all except one of these races were for maiden special weights and at least three of those races were on the grass. Mitchell started Street Titan twice in the last two months for higher-priced claiming tags and, after troubled trips in both starts, I upgraded the horse’s Beyer figures from 65 to 70 on Nov. 3 and 64 to 69 on Dec. 1. Street Titan needs to improve a length or two to win, but the Mitchell magic is due to kick in sooner rather than later.

Finally, #10 Trando’s Tremor began his career for Dan Hendricks on Sept. 2 when he was squeezed after the start at 5-1/2 furlongs to be 12 lengths behind, but then rallied well to miss by just 3-1/2 lengths. I upgraded the Beyer from 57 to 68 to account for what I estimated to be a 4-length loss. In that race, Michael Pender claimed Trando’s Tremor for $20K and then brought him back on Oct. 6 where the gelding pressed the pace from the 11 post at 6-1/2 furlongs to miss by just a half-length. In the 10 stall on Monday, Trando’s Tremor might suffer a wide trip.

My betting strategy: If the odds on #4 Zapeye fall between 7/2 and 5/1, then I will bet $500 to win on him and $250 to win on #6 Street Titan. If the odds on Zapeye, however, are 6/1 to 9/1 then I want just $100 to win on him and $700 to win on Street Titan. If Zapeye is less than 7/2, or 10/1 or more, I’ll bet nothing on him and $800 on Street Titan.

Countdown to opening day at Santa Anita

MK back with 6-1/2 & 7-furlong maiden races in 2012

On June 25, 2008 – in the spirit of the book “My $50,000 Year at the Races”  — I started off with an imaginary bankroll of $50,000 and attempted to bet my way to $100,000 by June 25, 2009. 

The night before the races, I wrote summaries of the merits of each prospective maiden contender then designed a betting plan for the day.  When the results were in, I posted them on the site with a recap of the money that I either won or lost. 

My results were as follows:

For the year, I won 42 of the 133 races that I wagered on,  or 31.5 percent. I bet $59,715 and collected $76,495 for a profit of $16,780. My average race bet was $448 and my average payoff on the races I won was $1,821. Over the 133 races, I made $1.28 for every $1 bet for an average yield of $126 for each race wagered on.

I didn’t reach my goal of matching Andy Beyer’s $50,000 year, but even billionaire Warren Buffett would be pleased with a 28 percent annual profit.  

Almost all horseplayers know Beyer. He popularized speed figures in several books he wrote while working as a Washington Post racing scribe. In 2007, I met Beyer at a seminar and asked him how much money he won over the course of his lifetime playing horses. He said that if he told me, I would never believe him. 

In 1978, Beyer published “My $50,000 Year at the Races” after experiencing, in 1977, a dizzying year that took him on the roller coaster ride of winning $10,000 one day, while being so frustrated on another day that he bashed a hole in the Gulfstream Park press box wall. 

When the ride stopped, Beyer had won $50,664 from a beginning bankroll of just $8,000.  

On this blog, it hasn’t been all wine and roses. I’ve had some successes, yes. But I’ve also experienced setbacks.

Toward the end of the first 12-months that I was blogging, which ended in June 2009, I began to recognize that I was falling behind with the information I keep in a database. Therefore, I wasn’t betting with as much confidence and my profits were disappearing. So, in the fall of 2009, I stopped the blog and did more research. A year later in 2010 at Del Mar, my attempt to make $10,000 during the meet by wagering $1,000 a day was cut short when my results clearly showed that many of the money-making trends that were so good to me from 2008-09, weren’t working anymore.

Although I haven’t put anything on the blog in a while, I worked hard to get my information up to date and did well betting the 2011 Hollywood Park fall meet.

So, now I am back with a new theme for Maiden King.

During 2012, I plan to play every 6-1/2 and 7-furlong maiden claiming race in Southern California. Also, I will bet every maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds at these same distances.

Why only 6-1/2 and 7-furlong races?

I tend to do well in these races because most horseplayers put a premium on early speed, which is valuable in shorter sprints, but not so much at 6-1/2 and 7 furlongs. It’s amazing how many times horses who ran strong races near the lead at 6 furlongs, get nailed when stretching out an extra half furlong. In these elongated sprints, you can have the lightly-raced early speed at a short price, and I’ll take the 4-to-1 shot who is shortening up after spending his life trying to win turf routes.

Starting on opening day at Santa Anita — which is annually Dec. 26 — I will stake myself a $100,000 imaginary bankroll with the goal of making a $50,000 profit by the end of the 2012 Hollywood Park fall meet. I estimate that I’ll bet about 100 or so races, which works out to about two a week. That will give me plenty of time to handicap, write and work my day job while keeping up on my records.

Of course, I think I will have an extremely successful year and I will almost certainly be writing about some of my bets with supreme confidence. But if you read about a race on this blog, please bet conservatively because this is horse racing and the only thing certain in this game is that there are no sure things.

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