11/12/2008 12:45PM

HandiGambling 109


Today's HandiGambling 109 exercise is the ninth race at Churchill Downs, an $80,000 optional claimer with 'n3x' allowance conditions to be contested around a one-turn mile.  I have to admit I'm not a big fan of horses like Sam P., Forty Grams, and Shone, but if these types of horses are going to win races, it will be in spots like this against middling up-and-comers, never-will-bes, and has-beens instead of stakes races in which they're overmatched. 
Sam P. will probably one day go to stud, and the fact that people will actually breed to him is one of the reasons why this game is suffering.  His "big" race was a third-place finish in a woefully slow Santa Anita Derby, and he hasn't really come close against stakes competition.  His last race at Monmouth wasn't very pretty either.  True, he probably didn't want any part of 12 furlongs, but he sat the garden spot behind an early duel (47 4/5 for the half is fast for the distance), and couldn't make up any ground.  He's now been away for almost two months, and is sure to be an underlay.  Pitch him and move on, right?

I love him...

...well as much as a horseplayer can love a runner like Sam P.

The alternatives just don't appeal to me.  Shone earned a 93 Beyer two back at Saratoga running seven furlongs in a tepid 1:25.10.  While the main track was slow that day, it must be noted that an off-the-turf maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies went in 1:23.57 earlier on the card.  I don't like Shone's race, and I didn't like his recent non-finish behind Sam P. at the Spa on August 29.  He draws inside, and that's a tough post coming out of the one-mile chute.   He is a Churchill Downs horse for course, but the plethora of recent layoffs has me looking elsewhere. 

Timbucto will certainly be aided by the late scratch of My Private Lake, and he looms the main speed under Rodney Prescott.  I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for his loss two back as he set the pace over an extremely closer-friendly Keeneland surface.  He didn't do much going six furlongs last time out, however, and has a tendency to be a little late with his final lead change.  He's an interesting pace and value play, but I don't see him holding on.

Let It Rock has gotten support on the blog as well as from Mike Beer on drf.com's "Race of the Day" feature (Mike had last week's winner and really does a number on Sam P. this week.  For those so inclined, you can watch the video by clicking on the link below)


Anyway, back to Let It Rock.  He's one of the few up-and-comers in the field, and he has more than a puncher's chance from the back of the pack.  He rarely runs a bad race, and should get enough pace to attack in the stretch.  He has the turf-to-dirt angle in his corner, and the number earned in the Prairie Meadows Derby is just as good as most of Sam P.'s Beyers.  He has a good chance.

Rhapsodybohemian was a late scratch.

Longley hasn't done much since being taken away from Graham Motion.  He's lost ground during the stretch run of his last three races, and while he faced better animals in his last couple of tries, his recent form is concerning. 

I gave a long look to Coach Ryan before eventually relegating him to "underneath" status.  He's really put it all together with the addition of blinkers, and the stretchout to this one-turn mile won't be a problem.  He loves it at Churchill Downs, and should be sitting a nice second-flight stalking trip under Miguel Mena (replacing Calvin Borel).  I didn't like that he may have been aided by the closer-favoring Presque Isle Downs surface when winning a 'n3L' allowance on September 7, and he was able to save every inch of ground that day.

Geste has some speed, and may attempt to keep Timbucto company on the front end.  He seems to be at his best when he's on or near the lead, but his numbers are light when compared to those of the top contenders.  If he presses Timbucto, he really helps out the stalkers and closers. 

One of those late ralliers is Itsallboutthechase, a three-time winner over the Churchill Downs main track.  He looks like an intriguing longshot in this race.  He's going second off the layoff, and is utilizing the same turf to dirt move that resulted in a one-turn mile allowance win at Churchill earlier in the year.  As a matter of fact, Itsallaboutthechase is 2-2 going turf to dirt in his career as he won his maiden at Churchill in 2005 off the surface switch.  He's a solid late threat.

Forty Grams makes the third start of the form cycle, and the stakes-winning son of Distorted Humor has run some decent numbers in the past.  He just doesn't seem very reliable, however.  He drifted out badly entering the stretch in the WinStar Derby last year, then didn't change leads in the 2007 Lexington.  He "raced erratically along the backstretch" in the Amsterdam, then failed to benefit from the strong closers bias at Keeneland last time out.  He's a bit like Sam P. in that he's an underachiever, but Sam P. simply runs faster races more consistently.  I do think he'll get a nice setup, and his best race puts him in the mix.

My Private Lake was a late scratch.

Sam P. is not much horse, but I think he beats these on his best day.  He's the most consistent runner from a Beyer perspective, and can work out a good trip from just off the speed.  I'm probably setting myself up for a disappointment, but here are my plays:

$20 Exacta - Sam P./Forty Grams (9-10)

$20 Exacta - Sam P./Coach Ryan (9-6)

$10 Exacta - Forty Grams/Sam P. (10-9)

$10 Exacta - Coach Ryan/Sam P. (6-9)

$10 Exacta - Sam P./Let It Rock (9-3)

$10 Exacta - Sam P./Itsallboutthechase (9-8)

$5 Exacta - Let It Rock/Sam P. (3-9)

$5 Exacta - Itsallboutthechase/Sam P. (8-9)

$5 Exacta - Sam P./Timbuctu (9-2)

$2 Exacta - Timbuctu/Sam P. (2-9)

$3 left over so put it to win on Sam P.

This strategy of keying one horse in the first and second spot hasn't worked out well for me in the last couple of HandiGambling races as my second and third picks have completed the exacta while my "key" was up the track.  I'm not sure if the strategy is as flawed as the handicapping.  I believe if I can't get my key at least into the second spot that I don't deserve to win.

In this race, as you can see, I'm not really going for a score as I'm just not that confident.  The above play is more of a grinding style of attack.

Want to get these losing plays out to you quickly so will save the Past Champions Retrospective for tomorrow. 

Take care, and Julien, you owe me 10%.


Primo More than 1 year ago
Thanks Mr Illman on the Alw race info. Should be helpful. The Handigambling exercise was perfect primer for your help. If I could only get away from inate thoughts about horses from past wagering losses and not let it compromise the race at hand. Forty Grams looked like a MONSTER coming down the lane yesterday. When I capped the races, it came down to FG or Geste, went to the listed workouts and settled on Geste, even though FG had a good drill at CD. Didnt think Forty was that kind of horse.
p ensign More than 1 year ago
great score, Chicago Jerry, nice little fix there undoing the saver tri... i want to propose an honorable mention to Lane for the 295 different combinations in that scheme (sorry, didn't check to see if any scratches reduced the number) - definitely gets my vote for the "most work for a $56.10 loss in parimutuel thoroughbred wagering for the month" award! i reckon we would have heard about it by now, but was anyone here one of the two winners at HP of the $73k+ hi-5 carryover today???? that was a nice score, and I will continue to preach that it is the best bet available if you aren't a whale who tosses $1k-$5k at pick-6 c/o's.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Cayman, Yes, I am totally out! The picks had to be in before the 1st race at HP, no matter what race your horse was in. I knew that, I'm just an idiot that's all. Good job on Handigambling 109! Say, did you say I get to be on TV? LOL Annie
buffalo joe More than 1 year ago
Congrats to Chicago Gerry, and all who smoked out Asmussen winner, I think 2nd place finisher was much more difficult horses to come up with and you guys were rewarded nicely for coming up with him, great going. As for my pick itsallboutthechase I will put him on my watch list and give him another chance, he may not be up to the ones he ran with today, but I thought he had a bad trip and was never comfortable in the race. Katie, as far as soaking up the rays, 85 and humid is a little much for me. I'm worn out from the drive, as my wife refuses to to drive on the highway. I drove the whole 1300 + miles in 2 1/2 days and a little over 22 hrs behind the wheel. The only really bad part was when I pulled out of Daytona after 2nd night stay at The Ramada on the main drag. By the light of day I realized I was about two furlongs from the Daytona Dog Track and didn't known the had a track there, I could have spent the evening, after dinner playing simulcast from Mountianer if they were open. I was going to stay the night in the Jacksonville area as I knew they had OTB outlets there, but as I am not an early riser I did not want to fight with the Monday morning traffic in that area. I'm still a little beat and will lay low for the rest of the week, may go to Pompano Sat night to play Penn & Mountianer, I really like playing the cheaper tracks.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Laura, I'm so glad to hear that you are still in the survivor contest! You are going to have to carry the banner of the Formblog all by yourself unless Katie or Stephen Taylor are still in. GOOD LUCK!!!! Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
You all know the bad news: I didn't get my survivor pick in on time. Well, the good news is that none of my supers in Handigambling 109 came in. I had handicapped for a good track, and if any of them would have come in, they would have paid plenty. That would have been the frosting on the cake, if I would have been correct on the exercise without a penny on it. lol p ensign, I have never played the high 5, but I think I will give it a try on Sat. I have plenty of time to look at Sat.'s races since I don't have to pick a horse for today and tomorrow for Survivor. Say, the Survivor TV show is on tonight. That should help me forget about my debacle. lol Well, anyway, I didn't get thrown out, I threw myself out. I'll just have to try to make some money on Sat. Best way to forget a bad mistake is to make some money. Annie
Laura More than 1 year ago
Awwww, Annnie, I'm really sorry you didn't get your pick in Showviver submitted in time! The rules are too strict - everyone should have at least until five minutes before the start of a race to make their picks, that way you could have made another selection! I have to decide between Mr. Chairman, Streetscape and Unworldly Heat. I'm leaning towards Unworldly Heat 'cause it's over 80 today and I might have to turn on the a/c.
PGM More than 1 year ago
Cayman, These are good or great ideas. I like your half-hour program on Versus. I do think expanding the TV coverage would be good. But I would also have an option where the program can not only be seen on TV but can be seen in webcasts and thru iTunes (or similar). But I too want to play around on Cayman's Show with Uncle Steve, C, Slew, Annie, and Gerry with N2Xs. =)
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
Reinier, It started drizzling late yesterday afternoon in Louisville. We had a pretty good rain last evening. It is overcast and drizzling this morning. If they sealed the track last night it should be fast this afternoon (Thursday). Snow is in the forecast for Churchill this weekend. I made my picks for Handi 109 based on the forecast for rain. Oh well. But thanks to the on going ADW dispute I didn't bet any real cash.
Kyri More than 1 year ago
Well, Handigambling sucked for me -- was the track sloppy? I think that's the lesson I learned: If the track conditions are likely to be a major factor, bet late. I knew Forty Grams loved the slop, but thought his better races were last year and at Lone Star. Wrong about that one. And didn't bet Big Surf, who paid $20 to win, because I hate messing around with different online accounts. Feh. But I hit both of the exacta boxes I played at HP yesterday :) Nice to log on to my TVG account and go WHOA, where'd all that money come from!