04/18/2014 4:14PM

Grounding the Hawk?

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MIDNIGHT HAWK is the fastest and classiest horse in Saturday's Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, and may have a strong pace advantage to boot.

Each of his last four Beyer Speed Figures is faster than ANY number his rivals have EVER earned. Not only is he the lone stakes-winner in the field, but he's a graded stakes winner with three other graded placings. He's assured a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby with 52 points (currently 14th on the list) and looks like the most naturally talented runner in the Illinois Derby.

He's also exactly the kind of odds-on favorite that I want to bet against.

Midnight Hawk is a brilliant colt, but one that might be stretched to the limit at the Illinois Derby's nine-furlong distance. In his most recent start, the Grade 3 Sunland Derby at 1 1/8 miles, Midnight Hawk cruised up alongside stablemate Chitu with five-sixteenths of a mile to race. He poked a head in front and appeared on his way to victory. Then, he just packed it in, and started going up and down after changing leads late. He lost almost two lengths to Chitu from the stretch call to the wire, finished his final three-eighths in 38.67 seconds, and ran his last furlong in 13.60 seconds.

Midnight Hawk was an exhausted bird.

If you're like me and think that the distance will help get Midnight Hawk beat on Saturday, you might want to key in on horses like DYNAMIC IMPACT and IRISH YOU WELL. The former will get a distance test at Hawthorne after racing twice in short-stretch mile events at Oaklawn to kick off his sophomore campaign. But, he's by two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow and was a game winner most recently over Knock Em Flat, a colt that returned to graduate with a 91 Beyer before finishing a close second as the favorite in the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes last week. Dynamic Impact should save valuable ground from the inside post and has the tactical speed to track Midnight Hawk.

Irish You Well is more of a stab as he's still a maiden. Although second behind CLASS LEADER in a maiden special on dirt at Fair Grounds two back, Irish You Well did plenty of racing. He was looped from the outside on the first turn and forced to track a loose pacesetter. He was the first to commit to go after that horse and finished well despite attempting to drift in slightly during the drive. Irish You Well shows a bullet workout over the Hawthorne surface and is a sleeper at 20-1 on the morning line.

Class Leader should see this trip out without much fuss as he's a son of Smart Strike out of a mare that won two graded races on turf at nine furlongs. He is slowly improving and looks like Midnight Hawk's main competition on paper despite still being a bit green.

Can Midnight Hawk win the Illinois Derby?  Of course he can for all the reasons listed above. But, there are distance questions that he'll have to address at 4-5 or shorter. Use him in the multiple race wagers, but try to beat him in the win pool. 

I'll attempt to do so with Dynamic Impact.

*This week's HandiGambling race will likely feature two scratches in Dynamic Impact and GLOBAL STRIKE as both seem headed to the Illinois Derby. I won't try and get too clever. Mr. Speaker and Divine Oath appear to be the best horses, but neither has ever raced over a synthetic surface and they won't offer enough value for me to get interested in the win pool. I'll use both of them in multiple race wagers and hope to move on. Divine Oath is slightly preferred. SOLITARY RANGER's early speed should be respected. Perhaps he's the right value play if you believe he can shake clear and relax on the backstretch.

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

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*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.

http://www.drf.com/blogs/cat-burglar-creeping-upward

http://www.drf.com/blogs/3-year-old-filly-sprinter-watch

http://www.drf.com/blogs/tale-two-wins

http://www.drf.com/blogs/beatable-favorites

http://www.drf.com/blogs/baker-cooks-calder

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-baby

http://www.drf.com/blogs/derby-prep-thoughts

http://www.drf.com/blogs/fishing-opinions

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-its-spring-again

http://www.drf.com/blogs/sprinter-rise

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You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

All of the weekend stakes videos should be available at the following link by the end of tomorrow.

http://www.drf.com/events/weekend-stakes-previews-picks-analysis-more

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Congrats to Jack_Straw21 for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

Let's go with Saturday's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland for this week's HandiGambling event.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.

SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

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. We are 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.

HANDIGAMBLING:

-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!

Harpo
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A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED !
 
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A FRIDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL).

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Copy of Formblog Blue Grass 4-12-14.xls72 KB
HGLEXINGTON.pdf166.61 KB