11/05/2008 1:16PM

HandiGambling 108


Today's HandiGambling 108 exercise is the seventh race at Aqueduct, the Rare Blend Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf.  For past performances, please refer to yesterday's blog entry.  I'll remind late participants that you can wager $100 mythical dollars on this race. 
There's an important scratch as Tempest Storm (#4), the likely pacesetter, was withdrawn.  That leaves Polar Circle as the main speed, and the pace figures to be moderate at best.  My main issue with Polar Circle is that she was the main speed last time out, waltzed on an uncontested lead through a half-mile in a pokey 50 2/5, and still was run down in the lane.  It wasn't a promising effort, but she is making her third start of the form cycle, and should be prominent when they turn for home.   Despite the ugly loss last time, she's still a contender in this very difficult race. 
It's funny that when I handicapped this race for the first time, I identified it as a great multi-race spread event.  There are several win contenders, and they're pretty closely matched.  Along with Polar Circle, I'd use Sea Chanter, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Lady, and Remarkable Remy in my Pick 4's, Pick 3's, and Rolling Doubles. 
I'm completely flummoxed by the race from a HandiGambling standpoint.  Of the five contenders listed above, I really don't love one more than another.  I can't find a "key," and I hate betting caveman exotics.  What to do?
Blitzen Too, Remarkable Remy, and Senior Rita Lady all come out of the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont on October 13.  Blitzen Too seemed to be in a good stalking position while in the two path, but was forced to wait behind horses in upper stretch while the other two received clear sailing on the outside.  Blitzen Too did finish well when clear, but she did change leads several times in the stretch, and I'm not really a fan of horses that don't remain on their correct lead all the way through. 
Like Polar Circle, Senior Rita Lady will make her third start of the layoff with improving Beyer Speed Figures on display.  She has a pretty underrated break from the gate, and if Rajiv Maragh wants to stay close to the pace, he probably could.  Still, Senior Rita Lady's best races have come from out of it, and it wouldn't be a surprise if she has too much to do when they turn for home.  It's hard to lose ground on the tight turns of the Aqueduct turf course, and Senior Rita Lady's outside post won't do her any favors.  Plus, she has a bad habit of drifting when the money is on the line in the stretch.  She fits on figures and form, and should be a solid price, but as a key, I'm not so sure. 
The same goes for Remarkable Remy, the 10-1 upset winner of the Pebbles.  She lagged far behind the field, angled out turning for home and wore down the speeds.  It was a good effort, but she'll be a fraction of those odds in this race, faces an uncertain pace scenario, and may lose ground on both turns.  Can she win?  Certainly.  Do you put the house on her?  No.
Sea Chanter was primed to have a nice season after winning the Grade 3 Miesque at Hollywood for Todd Pletcher last year.  She was injured after that race, however, and just now seems to be rounding back to her best form.  She ran down the loose on the lead Polar Circle last time, but was all-out to do so, and that seemed like a rather taxing effort.  Whether she regresses off that race is the question, and I'm not sure I want to find out at short odds.  Another that could certainly win on her best day.
How to play it?  I'm going to play trifectas, and go for a grand slam (the baseball term, not the hideous NYRA bet).

$2 Trifecta -
Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Senior Rita Lady/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too (2,5,11/2,5,8,9,11/2,5,8,9,11) = $72

$1 Trifecta -
Polar Circle, Blitzen Too/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too (8,9/2,5,8,9,11/2,5,8,9,11) = $24

$4 Win Senior Rita Lady (#11) = $4

This was a very, very tough race, and I have to admit I'm not that confident. 

Back tomorrow with some questions and comments.

Take care,


TONY GIORDANO More than 1 year ago
Hello Dan I bought your book a couple of years ago and now I purchased your trip handicapping video they are both helpfull .great job
mike mcgavis More than 1 year ago
y is it that horseplayers will change their mind at the last minu8te?? last sat i waited all day long to bet wishful tomcat hoping to get 5-2 and when he went off at 6-1 i bailed-y cant we just do what we intend?
John C. More than 1 year ago
Travers, I can't believe what I'm reading! You are TIRED of people complaining about horses being retired too early??? You obviously haven't lived through or appreciated the glory days of this sport when there were great horses who were permitted to race, display their class and greatness, and then mature into even greater champions on the track instead of the vacant breeding shed (no crowds gather round to cheer on a stud, as funny as that would be). Perhaps Vineyard Haven should be retired. No need to win the Derby or try for the Crown; into the shed with him to produce another good 2YO as we create another legend about how good VH could have been. It's NOT unfair to criticize the "new money" owners and breeders. They are out of control and need a healthy dose of criticism and a reminder of what made this once great sport what it was. As far as Zenyatta retiring after winning HOTY, my point wss that depriving racing fans of witnessing her doing what she does best would just be another sad consequence of an unjustly hyped frenzy to vote for her instead of Curlin. Tully, No doubt my argument was one of the worst that YOU have read. It's difficult to be appreciated by one who does not value logic and context. I DID clearly say that Curlin won almost every time. Winning EVERY race is in no way, shape, or form the prerequisite for HOTY honors or did you not know that? Did Curlin beat nobodies or did he make those horses LOOK like nobodies (hmmm the way that Zenyatta makes Ginger Punch look like a cheap claimer). Weren't Asiatic Boy and Jalil supposed to be big threats against Curlin? Wasn't Divine Park supposed to be the next great lightly raced 4YO? I witnessed the number one horse in the world and maybe you'll see something similar if you review each of Curlin's races but you seem blinded by the filly so perhaps you are incapable of persuasion. Wow, Zenyatta beat multiple grade I winners. Yes, grade I winners against other FILLIES who couldn't (I claim) beat most of the horses that Curlin swept by. Will you please use a little thing called "context" when you judge horses and not some puerile formula of counting simple win percentage?
Annie More than 1 year ago
Mike S, Did you see that Tiznow's stud fee will jump from $30,000 to $75,000 for 2009? Annie
Hillbilly More than 1 year ago
Dan, Can you give me a percentage of those in the racing media whom are serious handicappers? I know some are not what I'd call serious handicappers, an example would be Steve Haskins at The Bloodhorse. I'm talking about guys who play the races at least 3 or 4 days a week. My reasoning is I'd tend to value their opinion more than others.
Travers More than 1 year ago
John C., You wrote, "It's NOT unfair to criticize the "new money" owners and breeders. They are out of control and need a healthy dose of criticism and a reminder of what made this once great sport what it was." Ok, first let me say that this sport IS great. Many other formbloggers may agree with me when I say that it is, in fact, the greatest sport in the world. Second, it IS unfair to criticize these people for making no-brainer decisions. With the exception of some, many of the horse owners with a ton of money had to work for it. They also had to make smart business decisions to get to where they are today. Turning down millions of dollars to continue to run a horse that could potentially break down in its next race and be put down is not smart. Everyone has a price. Sorry buddy, but that is the way it is. Also, a lot of that money that a owner gets for selling a top horse will be put back into the game. Maybe he will decide to spend a few more bucks at the next sale he attends, or maybe he will go privately purchase a nice broodmare. All owners want to get a nice horse and have dreams of winning big races. But sometimes a decision is obvious and people do not deserve to be criticized for making obvious decisions. Tell you what John, go out to Keeneland today and buy yourself a weanling and raise it and have it win some big races. Then you get a phone call that someone is offering you $15 million for the horse. Do you take it? I sure as hell hope so! The fact that you don't have as much money as these owners we are discussing is totally irrelevant. You would be making the smart decision for yourself and your family.
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Dan, Your movie TRIP HANDICAPPING came in on Wednesday. I plan to look at TRIP HANDICAPPING this weekend and I'll let you know what I think. I was thinking the advance 'two thumbs up', sign (q_p) I posted awhile back, means something else in computer land. I think it is a symbol of Mickey Mouse. I could be wrong about that. No offense was intended. How about this. Here's eight knuckles up in advance-"mm_mm". Zarpo, congratulations in winning Hg 108 and nicely done. What did you like about Never Retreat? Zarpo is a great handle by the way. Buffalo Joe, you are probably gone, but great job there also. I am saving the the top two winning strategies from each of the Hg's exercises. It is kind of interesting what different individuals do in regard to their wagering, and how they win over others. Even though others have cashed a ticket in the exersize, they maximize their wagers by being more precise and by using savers which allow them to win on more than one ticket. Law-duck, I think it was you who brought up the specter of Curlin being injured and the insurance thing. If my memory serves me correctly, the Canadian HOY, Izvestia, broke his leg in a race which had been agreed upon before hand, would be his last ever. I think it was at Woodbine, but may have been at Arlington Park. BlueHorseshoe, Thanks for your comments the other day, I agree with you, about refraining from certain topics. I am proud to read the things you post, and I have learned from you. In regards to Tinky, I was actually agreeing with him in part of what he was saying. I have a lot of confidence that Tinky accepts and acknowledges that people are going to have ideological differences. He is passionate about debating certain ideas. Also, I did not demean him, like I was demeaned by Mike S. Besides that, Tinky likes me and I am going to give him a big ol' Chicago bear hug if I ever see him. And you know what Blue, my granddaughter says she wants to sit next to me every time we go out to a restaurant. That is at least one measure of how I stack my values against anyone elses; not by the hysterical comments of a person, who can't stand that I might think different than him. Mike S. knows more than I do in some areas regarding horse racing, and I learn from his posts like everyone elses's here, but I don't care what he thinks about my ideology. I know he thinks differently than I do, but I don't hold that against him. I have seen guys throw up for good reason. Guys like Mike S have been around in every generation. I learned a long time ago not to expect much from persons like him. I never worry about another guy's ideology. I don't try to change it, and I don't cry about it. Thanks, Thanks,
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
ATTENTION ALL HORSEMEN: Before you consider retiring/selling any horse in your barn, please check with John C. first. He will let you know how to proceed with your property.
Eric_T_MA More than 1 year ago
Steve T- Im from MA and i can tell you without a doubt that people around here tossed dog racing like they toss the weekly trash. Almost everyone i know voted to end greyhound racing and the few who voted against the ban did so only because they didnt want 1200 people to lose their jobs. And many i know echoed the same sentiment about horse racing as the comments you saw in the globe. This is a state where the moonbats reign supreme and i have no doubt that horse racing is next here. I have a feeling that in other states where dog racing is more serious, such as fl, that a ban may be a ways off but it's still scary. They've got the dominos lined up and their knocking down the first few. At least the decriminalization of marijuana passed here. Starting sometime in late dec/early jan i'll be able to carry up to an ounce of pot with my only concern a 100 civil ticket. no arrest/no crim record. From one hobby to another. good weekend all/ -eric
Annie More than 1 year ago
Wow, I should have become a weather person instead of a horseplayer. It's the only profession where you can be consistently wrong and still get paid. Weatherman said "only flakes here". And, of course, it's a winter wonderland out there. Cayman and Molesap, Thanks so much for the additional PP's! Gives more to look at for today, however nothing really looks fantastic, does it? Ginobili stands out on name recognition. Wish I had PP's for that race. And he is supported by both Steve T and Ivan. Steve T, How could you miss signing up? It's So. Calif!!! BTW, what time does it get dark there? They have night racing on Fri. and I prefer that my horses run in the light. Good luck all in the Survivor!! Annie