08/04/2011 8:33PM

Ben's Cat and Cardashi Wage War


Every racing fan loves a good story and there were plenty of them at Penn National last Saturday night.  

BEN'S CAT wasn't supposed to make it to the races at all, let alone start as the highweight and betting choice in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap.  

After suffering a broken pelvis prior to his career debut, Ben's Cat's future as a racer was cloudy indeed.  Ben's Cat is all heart, however, and his connections are capable and patient.  Trained by King Leatherbury, Ben's Cat finally made his initial start in May of his 4-year-old season and promptly won his first eight races.  This year, he showed off a strong late kick to win the Turf Sprint Stakes at Pimlico before finishing a dirty head shy of the winner in the Parx Dash on June 18.  

With all of the "big-name" stables shipping to Penn National for the plethora of stakes races over the long weekend, it was easy for fans to forget old CARDASHI, the local hope trained by Timothy Kreiser.  The winner of the 2009 Governor's Cup, Cardashi tuned up for this year's running with a game, come-from-behind win in a $25,000 claimer at Penn National on July 11.  Cardashi was somewhat taken out of his element in that race after breaking poorly and his 4-6 record over the local sod pointed him out as a horse-for-course.  

In the paddock, both combatants seemed ready for battle.  Ben's Cat looked like a millon bucks in the parade ring while Cardashi seemed to enjoy dragging his poor hander in circles.  When the gates opened, Cardashi broke like a shot and was hustled to the front.  He dueled eventual third-finisher Car Thief into defeat while Ben's Cat raced in tight while in between rivals.  Heading into the final furlong, the local runner looked safe, but Ben's Cat dug into his well of class.  He extricated himself from in between rivals and charged at Cardashi.  The finish was close, but Ben's Cat got up to win by a neck, upping his record to 11 wins from 16 starts.  

Although it's still early, one must wonder if Ben's Cat can duplicate the feats of last year's Governor's Cup winner, Chamberlain Bridge.  That quick performer went on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs during the fall.  

Not only did I have the pleasure of seeing some exciting racing at Penn National last week, but I also got an opportunity to meet up with bloggers Curt V., Laura Lawduck, and Mike A.  Curt, Laura and Mike are extremely passionate about this game and it was really a pleasure to hang out with them for a spell.

*STAY THIRSTY earned a big number in winning the Jim Dandy, but he'll have to do it again before I jump on the bandwagon.  It just didn't seem like anyone else in the race did any running and I didn't like the way that Stay Thirsty hopped to his wrong lead in the final strides of the race.

*COIL and SHACKLEFORD put on a nice show in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth and look to be the two top 3-year-olds on the main track.  The former didn't break well, but settled nicely at the back of the pack before uncorking an eye-catching rally.  Shackleford looked Coil in the eye when that when came calling and really didn't blink in the stretch.  

*My apologies for not posting as often as Saratoga is my busiest time of the year and the "Spa Babies" column keeps me extremely busy.  I'll get to your questions. comments and pp requests as soon as I can.

*This week, the legendary Harvey Pack will host the Saturday Saratoga Pick 4 Segment with Mike Beer and myself.  Make sure to check it out.  It should be posted on Friday afternoon/evening.  Mike and I will also break down some of the weekend's biggest stakes races like the Test, Clement L. Hirsch, West Virginia Derby and the Whitney.

Speaking of the Whitney...

Congrats to Matt B. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  This week's race is the Whitney Handicap on Saturday at the Spa.  

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.
Best of luck to all

HGWhitney.pdf179.87 KB
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
HG correction Tencent, I made a typo .. $10 TRI Box 6-8-9 = $60 $10 EX Box 6-8-9 = $30 ...should be $5 EX Box 6-8-9 = $30. $10 Win #8 total = $100 Dan Dollars 'inamura xcepia'
Shea H More than 1 year ago
HG@the Spa. $10 Tri 4/1,6/1,6,8,9.11 $20 EX 4/6 I too have been dissapointed with Giant Oak's consistency. But with the speed in today's race gonna give him another shot. I like Mission Impazible's current form, he loves the distance and I expect him to be the survivor of the speed. Any closer could get up to get a piece but I like Headache or Rodman to be the ones, good spa form and really healthy prices. Duke like, Giant Oak is baffling and is the wild card.
Alan More than 1 year ago
While on the phone with Uncle Steve tonight, he comments on how Joe Talamo has become the "Calvin Borel of Delmar". At the same time, I'm watching DMR6 on my laptop...and decide to put my Delmar Dime-a-Day wager for tonight on Talamo's horse in the 5f turf sprint with less than 5 minutes to post. Lo-and-behold, Talamo rides the rail to victory, pays $66 for my $10 DAD wager and ties me for the DMR Dime-A-Day win tonight. To Uncle Steve: Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Your SoCal horseplaying brilliance is truly amazing!! HG WHITNEY I'm looking forward to a huge effort from #7 Rail Trip tomorrow. The BEL prep in early June was perfect, just perfect... WIN #4 Giant Oak will be closing fast, but won't be able to catch the winner. UNDER Although #10 Apart has not progressed to be the 4yo star I expected, he's still in the mix here. UNDER #3 Morning Line, #5 Tizway and #6 Mission Impazible should pick up a check tomorrow. UNDER WAGER: $14WP #7 = $28 $30EX #7/4 = $30 $10TRI #7/4/10 = $10 $5TRI #7/4/3,5,6 = $15 $5TRI #7/10/4 = $5 $1SUPER #7/4,10/4,10/3,5,6 = $6 $1SUPER #7/4,10/3,5,6/4,10 = $6 $100 TOTAL Good luck tomorrow!!
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
HG245@the Spa, After belaboring thru the per/usual red-boarding & the plethora of picks, I've decided to hone in on Morning Line. I will never expect to get 10-1 as this horse almost invariably shows up in the big races. I would like to put the whole shebang across the board, however I don't think it'll fly here. Too too many Slewsters to have private party. I'd also like to spread it out>>BUTTS: Let's go with>#3 Morning Line & #6 Mission Impazible{who I think can close in here after Morning Line gets the 1st jump for home..} $100 Exacta>#3 over/#6=$100... Did I say I had the Race 7 exacta at the Spa yesterday for the $125.50 ? Go ask the broom sweeper on 42nd Street & Market Streets.....Deep maroon special..... Dan Illman Great to meet up w/you on Friday & Saturday last week @Penn National...Like I told you then..the DRF needs a new photographer..You're much younger looking in person..Quite dapper..Maybe they're using stale film...It's all in the genes baby....It was special meeting you & also nice that you came right over after I flagged you down..No condescension from you buddy...You made me feel right at home, and for that you need to be thanked...others sure should take a cue from you.... Thanx a lot........Curt V.
jim tully More than 1 year ago
HG Whitney Flat out has to bounce, right? Where that 113 Beyer came from is a mystery. Still, he is working well figures to get a ground saving trip in a race where most of the horse like to be near the front at a mile and an eight so I'll use him underneath. I think the race sets up for Apart, like his post outside to take back and avoid the scrum for the lead without any dirt in his face. $50 ex Apart/Flat Out,Friend or Foe
mickey More than 1 year ago
HG Event: Hello from Ohio (at least until Monday).... I originally told blackstone I liked Tizway..but after looking at the pp's...decided that #4 Giant Oak looks like he has a great chance today....4 solid works with 2 over the track...should get a lively pace...and also be a price. #3 Morning Line is usually always around... so I will use a $100 exacta 4-3 good luck to all Mike call me Tuesday
peterjborrelli More than 1 year ago
HGWhitney We know Al Stall can get a runner ready for this race, and now that Leparoux had a chance to find out what's under the hood, I think he'll get Apart rolling in time to grind out this win from off of what appears it will be a contentious pace. Apart's style seems perfectly suited to what's been winning races at the Spa so far this summer, and I'm going to wheel him over the field in the exacta: $10 Exacta wheel 10/All = $100
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Van Savant Any race is a quandary, depends on how you look at it. The Whitney is a very contentious race, while we never should lose sight of how the race will be run, I believe what anyone picks will come down to what horse an individual thinks ran the best last race and against whom. Or in my case the last few races. The way I approach a race like this is by looking at how a trainer gets there. It rarely happens when a horse gets in because the trainer decided at the last minute. They are pointed to specific races, the Whitney is no different. So for you my good friend I'm going to go over a few points on each horse........sort of what I look for. Aren't you lucky!! LOL!!!! Pour yourself a nice Pinot.......and read on. ( this isn't a bourbon kind of chat, it must be sipped and savored)....... 1) Flat Out.......Ran a hole in the wind last out, beat Hymn Book and Rodman.......OK, everyone knows Mickey, I and Blackstone loved Rodman back in the day and he's better after surgery was performed to correct a problem, but Rodman isn't a legit Grade 1 horse and either is HYMN BOOK.....better turf horse I think, so how good was that race? Belmont's track was fast all early summer, so the time is suspect, good but suspect. I hate when a trainer says " he's over his physical problems and this is the real horse". He jumped up and ran the race of his life at Belmont, trainer says he's training better now, but at Monmouth......this isn't Monmouth, it isn't even Belmont. I won't take 4-1 on a horse who jumps up and wins anything. 2) Friend Or Foe...........Kimmel loves his chances, I love Kimmel. ( no really, not that way) Likes the track, pace scenario suits, training well, but he's never beaten legit graded horses, except for Rail Trip, who I believe was using the Easy Goer as a prep for this.......Kimmel says he wouldn't trade places with anyone, if I were the owners I would hope not. I just don't see it, not in the win slot. 3)Morning Line......My early pick and may stay that way, I'm not finished looking. Training well, Always gives a good account of himself, regardless of the pace scenario........Likes the track and the distance....10-1 for this horse is a gift. His competition is the Salvator Mile was, in my opinion better than most of the other entrants......regarless of his 8 length win at Monmouth, it's a track he doesn't love....being brought into this race with a similar pattern to his Maiden breaker, JR back up......His time in the Salvator was slow when compared to others, but Monmouth was slow that day, heck it's been slow many days...Soaring Empire came back to win, Pace scenario doesn't favor him...or at least that's what most will think, but if this horse gets the rail and the lead he'll be very tough to beat. 4)Giant Oak......If his workouts are any indication he likes Saratoga......likes the trip, will have the pace to close into, loves the brief freshening......I liked this horse at 3.....said he'd be a good one at 4.......he wasn't bad but seems to be better at 5. He's the best horse folks love to hate. I'll watch the board and how the tracks playing early to decide on him, but seems a logical horse for the board. 5) Tizway......think when he's right he's one of the best milers around, James Bond thinks he'll win......He's never been very good at the distance losing to lesser lights, but supposedly he's 100% physically for the first time and one can point to his Met win, but again...Belmont was favoring his style and the track was super slick....he beat Rodman and Caixa Electronica......good but not great horses........I'm leaning elsewhere. 6) Mission Impazible............Liked him as a 3 year old, had him in the LA Derby.....can't fault him, he's 2-3 at the distance and at 6-1 looks mighty enticing. Ran the Foster from the outside, I didn't think he had a prayer yet just missed. But if they don't lay back enough he'll be toast in the lane, he hasn't shown the ability to run fast early and finish like Morning Line has....I don't see slow fractions early here. Exacta horse..... 7) Rail Trip......Will the real rail Trip please stand up. I like this horse...as a horse, but being beaten over a track favoring speed, by a horse who has never won a graded stake doesn't thrill me.....he'll be outside of Morning Line who I believe is made of sterner stuff.......tough race for him. 8 Headache........VQ picks this one and she's due.......I love horses like this, pace scenario suits, has shown he can run fast when he has to. his last two were breakout performances and he beat Awesome Gem who was odds on in that race. Likes the track and the distance.......longshot potential for sure. 9) Rodman........ Best shape of his life.....that said he won't beat these at 1 1/8th....... 10) Apart.....Late Bloomer.....ran an excellent race in the Foster when bottled up late....but still didn't get there......I know Flat Out came back off the Foster and ran a eye popping 113 Beyer, but has never been in front of Mission Impazible in their three meetings...or Giant Oak for that matter. Stall thiks the freshening will change that...perhaps, he is getting good late in his career like Blame.......The Foster was a strange race.....wasn't fast, it was run like the Derby.....come from the cloud horses made their runs, but only kept pace in the stretch.......I'm still not sold on the Foster being a superior race. 11 Duke Of Mischief....... His run has to be timed to perfection, Bravo made a mistake in the Foster, I doubt it will happen again, but Saratoga isn't CD's........he waits too long and he'll get fourth......From the outside I'm not seeing it. So by that quick analysis it would seem I like Morning Line, Giant Oak, Mission Impazible and Headache........with Apart in there somewhere. See was that so hard?? I think I'll key Morning Line.....1-2. But it's SEVE in the second race that I'll bet with confidence...........Mike A
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Uncle Mike; Thanks as always for your thoughts. I didn't see them until this morning, so it's coffee and not Pinot. Oh well. I too like Morning line, but I think 10/1 is delusional. He'll go postward at around 4/1 I fear. I'm going to play/watch this in real time today, so it all may be a gametime decision. Back later.
Annie More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, Nice to be back. Thank you! Did you have a nice trip to California? Annie
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
Annie finally get to bet on my MKB colt. Buffum is running on 8-7-11 at saratoga in the sixth race #3 mh01
PGM More than 1 year ago
HG, Whitney H. $100 exacta, 8 over 3 Full explanation to follow.
CANNIBAL More than 1 year ago
Handigambling: $40 exacta box 7&8. $10 tri 3,7 with 3,7 with 8