10/29/2008 10:32AM

HandiGambling 107


Today's HandiGambling 107 exercise is the seventh race from Churchill Downs, a maiden special weight for juvenile fillies.  Let's start with the firsters. 
Bandora may attract some attention based on her pedigree, connections, and workouts.  Ronny Werner does well with debutr unners, Bandora sold for $150,000 in May after working a furlong in 10.60, and there's a bullet drill at Keeneland on October 17.  Peel away some of those layers, though, and it doesn't look all rosy.  First of all, Werner is only 3-37 with debut runners this year, a far cry from his usual high-percentage with first-time starters.  Second, Bandora originally was a $240,000 RNA as a yearling.  It kinda feels like the original connections "settled" for $150,000 eight months later.  Third, Werner also worked a juvenile filly named Yonakee the bullet five furlongs in 59 on October 17.  Yonakee made her debut eight days later, and finished tenth with a 35 Beyer.  I'm not sure I want to take a short-ish price on Bandora here. 
Both Kiss Mine and Terrell Cheney are by the long-winded Mineshaft (3-48 with juvenile debut runners, 2-44 with all debut runners in 2008) out of stamina-based dams.  Kiss Mine, a $105,000 yearling RNA, is the first runner from Kiss the Devil, who won the Grade 3 Mint Julep on grass at 1 1/16 miles.  Terrell Cheney's dam, Lady Melesi, was a multiple stakes-winning router by Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair.  She's foaled a pair of blacktype earners (Doc Cheney, Grade 2-placed router, juvenile debut winner + Roman Emperor, stakes-winning router).  Of the two, I prefer Terrell Cheney, but I'm banking that both will improve with more experience and distance. 
I will be using the other debut runner in my play.  Heart Ashley was purchased for $320,000 last year by Team Zayat, and the pedigree looks precocious enough.  First-crop sire Lion Heart is 8-55 (17%, $2.73 ROI) with his first-out runners, and the sprint-winning dam was third in the Grade 2 Railbird Stakes at this seven furlong distance.  Heart Ashley is a three-quarter sister to Railbird winner Ashley's Kitty (Grade 3 when she won it), and goes out for Steve Asmussen, a trainer that already boasts a whopping 49 debut winners in 2008 (19%, $1.70 ROI).  The workouts look solid as well.
Of the horses that have already raced, morning line favorite Tsunami Bertie, looks pretty good.  She bobbled a bit at the start of her recent run at Turfway, then dueled for the lead for most of the way before faltering late.  The time of that race (1:10.46) was not only faster than the other division of juvenile filly maiden special weights at Turfway that day, but it was also quicker than a pair of MSW's for the boys.  Plus, the winner of that race returned to finish second in an allowance race on turf at Keeneland. 
The questions surrounding Tsunami Bertie are her stamina and her attitude.  She has lost ground in the late stages of both career starts, and will have to stretch her speed to seven furlongs today.  Also, she was lathered up on both sides of her neck during her last run, and it will be interesting to see if she washes out in the paddock prior to today's race.  If she does, I may downgrade her chances.  As a half-sister to stakes-winning miler Ballad of Bertie out of Arlington-Washington Lassie (Grade 3, one-turn mile at two), I'll be willing to give her shot at this distance as the probable main speed.
It looks like Passion Du Coeur will break into the race from the also-eligible list, and I'd give her a good shot to run these down late.  A $300,000 yearling out of stakes-winning sprinter Arianna's Passion, she'll go out for Ken McPeek, a trainer that excels with second-time juvenile runners (25-96, 26%, $2.20 ROI over the past five years).  Passion Du Coeur draws wide, but should steer clear of trouble while racing off the expected solid pace.  That race was the slower division of maiden special weights at Keeneland on October 10, however.
Smoking Kitty comes out of the quicker division on October 10, and he passed tired horses after lagging behind the field.  She draws a tough inside post, but the pace scenario should be kind, and she can pick up some of these late.
Angles such as equipment/medication changes are potent angles in maiden races (remember that big bomb in a prior HandiGambling exercise in Southern California?).  Wayne Lukas adds Lasix to This Cat Can Dance, and the daughter of Grade 2 sprint winner Katz Me If You Can may provide company to Tsunami Bertie early. 
I'm going to key Tsunami Bertie in this race, but can't play her to win due to the expected short price.  Here are my plays:

($30 Exacta)  Tsunami Bertie - Heart Ashley (10-11)
($30 Exacta)  Tsunami Bertie - Passion Du Coeur (10-14)
($20 Exacta)  Tsunami Bertie - Smoking Kitty (10-1)
($10 Exacta)  Heart Ashley - Tsunami Bertie (11-10)
($10 Exacta)  Passion Du Coeur - Tsunami Bertie (14-10)

Of course, we all know that it will now come in Smoking Kitty - Tsunami Bertie or some combination of Heart Ashley and Passion Du Coeur.  I won't play the former since Smoking Kitty seems more like an "underneath" horse, and I won't mind if the latter comes in since my key is Tsunami Bertie. If she doesn't finish at least second, I don't deserve to win.

Late arrivals can find the past performances in the previous blog entry.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 bankroll with which to play this race.  Good Luck!

We'll do the post-mortem tomorrow as well as talk about the goals of HandiGambling and the flying finish of a filly named Donnaguska.

Take care,