11/03/2011 10:20AM

Breeders' Cup HandiGambling


As per tradition, this week's HandiGambling exercise is the Breeders' Cup Classic.


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 names of the horses.

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.


Let's scratch #1 PRAYER FOR RELIEF.


For me, HandiGambling in 2011 has been a wallet-shrinking exercise in futility. 

Whether it's losing a photo with a nice-priced horse, or picking the winner and failing to convert the exotic, or simply having a terrible opinion, the weekly HandiGambling column has proven quite embarrassing. 

I won't be surprised if the Breeders' Cup Classic creates more angst for my ulcers.

I will start off by saying that, as the favorite, UNCLE MO (#12) is a terrible gamble as he's only procured two prep runs since his long illness, is stretching out two furlongs from his Kelso score and is a major question mark at this 1 1/4-mile distance.

I also think he'll win.

I believe he's simply the best horse, a potential supernova surrounded by some very bright lights.

His roller-coaster career (maiden to champion in 2 1/2 months last year, Winter Book Derby favorite, long illness, huge Kelso Beyer) has been documented ad nauseum so I won't get into it here.  For the Classic, I think he'll pull a simple trip, tracking GAME ON DUDE from the outside before John Velazquez pushes the button on the far turn.  I expect Uncle Mo to be in front turning for home.  After that, it's a crap shoot.  I have no idea if he'll get the last 2 1/2 furlongs. 

If he does, the others are in big trouble.

Don't get me wrong, the Classic is full of quality.  Six weeks ago, I concocted an ultra-conservative plan for the end of TO HONOR AND SERVE's (#13) sophomore season.  Needless to say, the Breeders' Cup Classic wasn't on the agenda, but the improving son of Bernardini may be finding his stride for Bill Mott.  After missing the spring classics with a strained left front suspensory, To Honor and Serve was cooked on the pace upon his return in the Grade 2 Amsterdam going 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga.  Make no mistake, he's a router and he proved it in his last two races, quality scores at nine furlongs.  He has tactical speed and could find himself sitting in third or fourth while racing in the clear.  I'm expecting a very good performance from To Honor and Serve at a solid price.

FLAT OUT (#2) has no qualms about 10 furlongs.  As a matter of fact, the more ground the better for the Jockey Club Gold Cup hero, a blue-collar runner with obvious appeal.  A solid midpack runner, Flat Out could get a quick pace to attack.  He hasn't done his best running over the Churchill Downs surface in his career, but really blossomed after being sent to New York over the summer.  He was no match for HAVRE DE GRACE (#10) in the Woodward two back, but may be able to improve that placing at 1 1/4 miles.  Hickory and tougher than a two-dollar steak, Flat Out is the only Classic entrant with four straight triple-digit Beyers leading up to the race.

HAVRE DE GRACE proved that she could handle males just fine in the Woodward and she was simply dominant against members of her own sex in her final Breeders' Cup prep, the Grade 1 Beldame around a muddy one turn at Belmont.  She's 0-2 at ten furlongs, but lost those races by a neck and nose, respectively so don't be concerned about the distance.  Her greatest asset is her tactical speed as she can be placed anywhere her rider wants to be in the first three furlongs.  She's had a tremendous season and is certainly a major danger for Larry Jones.

STAY THIRSTY (#9) has lived in Uncle Mo's shadow his entire life, but he can say he has just as many graded stakes victories (three) as his more heralded stablemate.  He also has two wins beyond 1 1/16 miles (Uncle Mo has none) and seems to be moving the right way for Todd Pletcher.  Perhaps he's most comfortable at Saratoga, where he ran off his Jim Dandy and Travers double, but he wasn't disgraced over muddy going in his initial start against older runners in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  Like Flat Out, Stay Thirsty hasn't done great things at Churchill Downs in his career, but he's probably a much different horse than the one that was smoked in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby.

I'm a big fan of Game On Dude (#8), the gritty winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March and the Grade 1 Goodwood on October 1.  In between, the street-fighter took his act on the road, placing in the Grade 3 Charles Town Classic, Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap and Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup.  His only "bad" performance during the streak came over polytrack when fourth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.  Game On Dude is comfortable at this trip and he is a pugnacious son of Breeders' Cup Classic hero Awesome Again.  I'd like to see Chantal Sutherland put him on the front, but he'll have to fight off myriad challenges if he is to win this.

DROSSELMEYER (#3), the 2010 Belmont Stakes hero, has only scored once this season, but that win came at this distance and he's entering this race following the fastest performance of his career (104 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup).  He may be outsprinted in the early going, but a swift pace works to his advantage and he won his maiden here as a juvenile colt of 2009.  He seems to be moving the right way, but could be just a notch below the top, top challengers.

RATTLESNAKE BRIDGE (#7) has already taken his swings against some of the big guns.  He finished second to Uncle Mo in the one-turn Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream on March 12, ran a solid second behind Stay Thirsty in the Travers and may have been compromised by a speed-favoring track when third behind To Honor and Serve and RULER ON ICE (#4) in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby.  A lightly-raced 3-year-old with a world of upside, Rattlesnake Bridge is still learning the game.  I'm expecting his new rider, Calvin Borel, to take him back as they pass the stands for the first time in the hope of saving all the ground.  A fast pace certainly helps his chances, but he needs to improve off his 99 Beyer top (par for the Classic is 117).

I thought this year's Belmont winner, Ruler On Ice, ran quite well when a rallying second against the bias in the Pennsylvania Derby.  He may actually be a bit more effective at 12 furlongs, but he's coming up to the race the right way.  He has underrated gate speed, but Garrett Gomez may take him back in the hope of catching fast splits up front.  The gelded son of Roman Ruler isn't the worst exotics play in the world.

HEADACHE (#11) steps up in class after beating Where's Sterling, Cease, and Giant Oak in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup.  We know he likes this distance and the gray gelding is very comfortable at Churchill Downs, but he was no match for Flat Out when fifth in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga.  A nice Grade 2-type, Headache faces the tallest test of his 27-race career on Saturday.

ICE BOX (#6), the Kentucky Derby runner-up in 2010, hasn't been the same since that effort.  He returned from knee surgery to run third in an 'n3x' optional claimer at Saratoga, but was well-beaten in both the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup.  A one-run closer, Ice Box needs a suicidal pace in order to make an impact.

European entrant SO YOU THINK (#5) has cranked out over two million dollars in earnings this year, winning three Group 1 races on turf.  He gets Lasix and blinkers, but it's a complete unknown as to whether he'll appreciate dirt racing. 

Here's my HandiGambling play:

$40 Exacta: Uncle Mo - To Honor and Serve (12-13)
$40 Exacta: Uncle Mo - Flat Out (12-2)
$20 Ladies' Classic - BC Classic Daily Double:  Miss Match - Uncle Mo (1-12)

Best of luck to all.


Early tomorrow morning, Mike Beer and I will have our fingers crossed as my dilapidated jalopy attempts to navigate the 12-hour commute to Louisville. 

If I don't make it, here are my official Breeders' Cup selections (as seen in the Friday and Saturday versions of DRF):


JUVENILE SPRINT:  Shumoos, Secret Circle, Seeker, Sum of the Parts
(Secret Circle is the horse to beat, but a blazing pace may work in the favor of the European, a filly that won the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes over the all-weather two back)

JUVENILE FILLY TURF:  Somali Lemonade, Elusive Kate, Dear Lavinia, Stephanie's Kitten
(Have been impressed with Somali Lemonade through her first two starts.  She gets a terrible post and will need lots of things to go right for her, however)

FILLY AND MARE SPRINT:  Turbulent Descent, Tar Heel Mom, Pomeroys Pistol, Golden Memory
(The favorite has been pointed for this all year long.  She's not a slam dunk facing elders for the first time, but should get some pace to attack)

JUVENILE FILLY:  Putthebabiesdown, Weemissfrankie, My Miss Aurelia, Candrea
(Just taking a stab with a longshot that has never run on dirt.  I know that her connections were not pleased with her recent workout over the surface.  Weemissfrankie may benefit most from a hot pace up front)

FILLY AND MARE TURF:  Nahrain, Announce, Misty for Me, Stacelita
(Enamored with the Europeans as always)

LADIES CLASSIC:  Miss Match, Plum Pretty, It's Tricky, Royal Delta
(Miss Match has faced males in her last two and should be charging late against mostly younger rivals.  She may want more ground, but should offer a good price for a Grade 1 winner)



MARATHON:  Giant Oak, A. U. Miner, Cease, Birdrun
(It took me all of 28 days to fall off the wagon.  What can I say?  I'm an Oak-a-Holic)

JUVENILE TURF:  Caspar Netscher, Farraaj, Wrote, Majestic City
(Caspar Netscher was flying at the end of the six-furlong Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on October 8.  He must avoid a poor start against quicker Americans and he is untested at this distance, but his connections have been pointing for the race since mid-August.  First-crop sire was a sprinter, but there is some stamina in the female family)

SPRINT:  Jackson Bend, Giant Ryan, Hamazing Destiny, Big Drama
(Jackson Bend is 6-7 in sprint races throughout his career.  The diminutive colt has a ton of heart and should be charging hard in the lane)

TURF SPRINT:  Regally Ready, Caracortado, California Flag, Broken Dreams
(Regally Ready got back to his best form in winning the Nearctic at Woodbine.  He earned a 105 Beyer here during the spring)

DIRT MILE:  The Factor, Wilburn, Irrefutable, Tapizar
(The Factor may be able to control these on the front end as he stretches out from six furlongs)

TURF:  Sea Moon, Await the Dawn, St Nicholas Abbey, Midday
(A crapshoot among the quality European runners)

JUVENILE:  Union Rags, Creative Cause, Hansen, Dullahan
(Union Rags overcame some trouble in the Champagne to make it three straight)

MILE:  Mr. Commons, Strong Suit, Goldikova, Gio Ponti
(Mr. Commons, a bomber trained by John Shirreffs, makes his third start since returning from a bruised foot.  A talented colt, he'll have to run the race of his life against some of the best milers in the world)

More importantly, who do you like this Breeders' Cup weekend?  I want to know.


Would you please post the Breeders Cup runners (Friday and Saturday) that are supplemented and the supplemental fee paid (or %) for each one? I would sure appreciate it.

Here's what I found.  I'm not sure if I'm missing anyone.

Juvenile Sprint:  TRINNIBERG ($100,000)
Sprint:  GIANT RYAN ($100,000)
Juvenile Fillies Turf:  DAYATTHESPA ($100,000), PURE GOSSIP ($100,000)
Filly and Mare Sprint:  MUSICAL ROMANCE ($100,000)
Turf Sprint:  HOOFIT ($100,000)
Juvenile Turf:  LUCKY CHAPPY ($100,000), SHKSPEARE SHALIYAH ($100,000)


Could you locate the PP's for a champion Canadian mare from the early 70's named Momigi.(Japanese for Maple Leaf).
I would really appreciate it.

What I have for Momigi is available at the bottom of the blog post.


Dan, can you post the PPs for every Breeders' Cup Classic winner? Would be a really fun read.
Pat Starr

The past Breeders' Cup Classic winners are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Question here about the coverage of Friday's Breeder's Cup card...Will coverage be available online, or on ESPN2 only. I watch live racing on an ADW site that I have, and they do carry Churchill Downs, but I somehow get the feeling that they will black this out on Friday (and I suppose, Saturday).
Any answers or thoughts are most appreciated.
Van Savant

Check out the link below:



Hello Dan, I can't make much sense out of the Euro horses in the pp's, I just don't understand how to compare them to horses that run in the USA. Could you offer any basic tips/advice on how to better get a handle on the Euro horses pp's, and a few that you like the most? I enjoy your blog, and looking forward to see your BC picks.
Thanks, Johnny G.

Some handicappers like to try and "convert" Racing Post Ratings into Beyer Speed Figures by subtracting 10 or 12 or 14 points, but that is a dicey idea at best as Racing Post Ratings are certainly not speed figures. You can compare European imports with each other by utilizing the Racing Post Ratings.  As for handicapping the Europeans, we must admit that the racing over there, on the whole, is a great deal tougher (on turf) at the very top level.  Horses competitive in Group 1 or Group 2 races in France, England and Ireland should always be respected when they ship to these shores.  I would attempt to find out as much information as possible about each individual European horse from the source (European racing papers, etc) by googling or heading to sites like...




You could always head to youtube.com and do a search for the prep races.

To learn more about foreign racing, check out Alan Shuback's "Global Racing" as well as Shuback's work in books like the "Bet With The Best" series.

As for my European preferences, I like Caspar Netscher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.


Will be back Monday for the post-mortem.

Enjoy the Breeders' Cup!

HGBC.pdf189.42 KB
Momigi.pdf40.09 KB
Past Classic winners.pdf205.13 KB