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Today's HandiGambling 110 exercise is the Late Daily Double at Churchill Downs. Late entrants can find the past performances in the previous blog. Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to play the bet.
The key to the sequence may be in the first leg. Do we believe the 90 Beyer Speed Figure earned by Duke of Pearl in his recent rout of extremely weak conditioned claimers? He certainly hadn't shown that sort of ability in the past. If we believe the number, and think that he can duplicate that race in this spot, he looms a strong contender. After watching the replay of that race, I'm still confused. All of the jockeys (except Calvin Bo-Rail aboard Duke of Pearl) acted as if the rail was made of kryptonite. They kept their mounts well off the inside while Borel scooted Duke of Pearl into contention on the backstretch. From the head-on replay, it looked as if Duke of Pearl was in a tiny bit of a tight spot entering the turn, but he soon drew away from his foes with ease. We can take heart that he stayed on his correct lead during the entire stretch run, and remained straight as a string in the lane. The obvious worry is that he didn't have a straw in his path while saving all the ground, and that scenario will probably not present itself again today as Duke of Pearl breaks from the far outside. Is it possible that the well-bred (half-brother to Grade 2 winner Vision and Verse), lightly-raced (only nine starts) gelding is a course and distance lover (both wins over this same one-turn mile at Churchill) that is finally figuring the game out? Borel apparently doesn't think so as he lands on Cultured today. How much weight should be put in jockey musical chairs? What to do? What a tough game! What a great game! I'm going to take a positive stance on Duke of Pearl. There seems to be enough speed drawn to his inside to set up Duke of Pearl's stalking style, and he may offer good value at 4-1 or so on the tote board. If he went off as the chalk, I wouldn't want him, but I don't want that 90 Beyer to burn me at a price. I'll use him as my prime play in this leg of the Daily Double.
Lord and T. is another well-bred (half to stakes-winner Over the Edge by top sire A.P. Indy) ex-claimer that has seemingly found himself in the last two races. Of course, both of those races were over Keeneland's polytrack surface, and Lord and T.'s dirt form is very ugly. Is he purely a synthetic horse or is he getting good?
Isabull's only victory came over Arlington's polytrack last year, but he's kept good company in 2008, placing in a pair of stakes races including the Grade 2 Rebel over Oaklawn's dirt course. Isabull will make the second start following a spring layoff this afternoon, and his stalking style should work well in this race. It's reassuring to see the recent pair of five-furlong workouts, and Isabull looks very logical.
I'm a bit more bearish on Hapitano's chances. This will be his seventh start in this condition, and he hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the finish line in any of those races. If he goes off anywhere near the 5-1 morning line, he may be an underlay.
This is a fascinating race, and I can't wait to see what happens. I'll play Duke of Pearl with the majority of my HandiGambling money, but will save with Lord and T. and Isabull.
Indygo Mountain looks like a strong play in the finale. A $600,000 yearling purchase by A.P. Indy out of stakes-winner Mountain Girl, Indygo Mountain ran in a live maiden heat over Keeneland's polytrack on October 15. Two horses returned from that race to win next-out (winner Kopitar won an entry-level allowance on turf at Churchill while the sixth-finisher came back to win his maiden at Fair Grounds), and I think the chartcaller missed a key component in Indygo Mountain's trip. According to the chart, Indygo Mountain raced "within striking distance three wide, lodged a mild bid to be second best." From watching both angles of the race replay, it's pretty clear that jockey E. T. Baird dropped his stick at the eighth pole, and was forced to hand-ride Indygo Mountain the rest of the way. Would he have won if Baird didn't fumble the ball? Probably not, but we'll never know. Indygo Mountain has to prove himself over dirt, but he looks solid here as the likely favorite.
Flying Warrior has a lovely pedigree as her dam was an excellent, excellent racehorse. He's run second in both starts over polytrack, and should be running strongly in the lane once again for the Mott barn.
Futuristic steps up from the maiden claiming ranks, but Michael Maker isn't winning 40% at the meet by putting his horses in the wrong spot. He has an outside chance from the outside post.
Sun Button finished just behind Futuristic in that maiden claimer, and will be a better price.
Firster Big Bad Blue looks interesting. He shared the worktab on several occasions with Ken McPeek's Free Country, a juvenile that won first-out at this meet with an 81 Beyer.
Baton Rouge was working very well prior to his career debut at Keeneland in April, but has yet to run to his morning trials. He has good speed, and may try to take these gate-to-wire.
Masrawy made a nice late flurry in his first start over dirt, but he seems to have trouble getting out of the gate, and draws the rail for the third straight time.
Here are my HandiGambling plays:
$60 DD - Duke of Pearl - Indygo Mountain (11-10)
$20 DD - Lord and T. - Indygo Mountain (6-10)
$20 DD - Isabull - Indygo Mountain (5-10)
This looks like a fun sequence. Good Luck!
Be back Friday with some questions, comments, and Saturday stakes selections.
Dan, I was wondering what ever happened to Smokey Stover? He had a bad race in the '07 Sprint b/c he hated the track and then I've never heard anything since. He was a gelding, so I figured he would stay on the scene for at least another year or two.
For anyone who likes a good horse story: Head over to Bloodhorse.com and read the Steve Haskin recollection of Canonero II's quest for the Triple Crown. After reading it, I went to Youtube and watched all three races. After reading the story, it makes this colt's achievements all the more amazing. Also, his front leg conformation was horrendous. It is one thing to hear a horse described as crooked,(most people who don't know horses probably wouldn't even notice a flaw....say like Storm Cat's knees....), and it's another thing to watch a grainy tape that is more 30 years old and be able to spot the crookedness. It's a miracle that horse could run on those legs. Anyway, as usual, Haskin writes a fabulous narrative and the tapes provide a great break from important things...like work! hahaha
Alan, Hey friend, VERY happy for you in what transpired regarding the NHC today! You have a year under your belt so, go out there and win the darn thing this year. There is just so much in the press about Curlin and owner Jess Jackson I just have to chime in. Jeremy Plonk, ESPN reporter for horse racing, Steve Byk, Host of At The Races and others are just beating up Jess Jackson, and a wonderfull horse in Curlin. Jess Jackson, first of all give the guy a break. He hasn't been involved in racing for that many years and, secondly he at least didn't put Curlin in a breeding shed after his BC win last year. And, yes I would be the first to admit that ownership questions probably was a concern there. Yes Jackson has made some hideous remarks lately, like allueding that Curlin ranks up there with any of the all time greats. I personally don't think Curlin ranks in the top 50 of all time greats. Probably pretty close though. IMO, Jackson just loves his horse, which he should but Jackson doesn't have a clue as to true greatness in the sport. Mr. Jackson see Spectacular Bid, Dr Fager, Alysheba, John Henry, Personal Ensign, etc. What I think many of the media elite are missing on and, maybe the general racing public is what Curlin accomplished as a three yr. old. That my friends definetly ranks in the top 50 of all time. Curlin didn't even race untill he was three. Helen Pitts deserves an award with how she handled the colt untill he won his mdn. Then he won the Rebel S., the Ark. Derby, ran a VERY good 3'rd in the Derby, won the Preakness, showed about as much class as one can show by barely losing to Rags To Riches in the Belmont. Then won the Jockey Gold Cup, and turned in probably his most impressive performance in the BC Classic at Monmounth. Then went to Dubai and won his prep in The Jaguar, then won the Dubai World Cup in record fashion. While Curlin might not rank in the top Fifty of all time greats, I for one think his first year of racing accomplishments ranks up there with anyone! While it is easy to say Curlin didn't beat anything this year, as I stated early last year and, set off an explosion on this blog, last years 3 yr old crop was one of the best in recent memory from top to bottom! Sorry about the rant, but I think it is ludicrous to chastise Jackson, as he doesn't know any better. Even worse those that want to beat up on Curlin is not much a fan of the sport, or don't know squat about horse racing.
sorry for double-posting, but Steve, you have to get to those at least once in your life. As I said earlier, I'd also urge anyone to check out Delaware-- you will not be disappointed. Churchill is another must-see... I haven't been there since the restoration (it was kind of a dump, honestly), but I'd like to go back to see it again. My must-see list includes Keeneland, Santa Anita (almost made it last year), Arlington, and Fairgrounds. Yeah, I know 3 of them are synth, but I still want to go.
Steve, I'd enlist just for the track variety-- have they loosened up their rules against being colorblind? I was going to go to Capannelle when I was in Italy, but never made it. There's one glaring omission on your resume-- in all your travels, you never went to Saratoga? Woodbine is another very interesting place.
Sorry, hit the wrong button! This ADW situation is really irritating a number of people it looks like, but as I said in a previous post, all 3 entities should split the take out equally, PERIOD. The ADWs (Twin Spires comes to mind) who say they need to be able to "guarantee that they're profitable"-I'll go with you on that providing your tracks will guarantee me as an owner that I'll make a profit! (Somehow I don't think they'll go for that!) But if any of you ADW execs ever read blogs like this, I'm going to give you an opportunity to become a VERY RICH COMPANY! Go to horsemen's groups and offer them 1/3 of whatever is the takeout on there tracks. In return, you want the following: One year of exclusivity for their track, along with a guarantee that they won't allow any other competing ADW to carry their signal for less than the 1/3 that you're paying. Make it a long term contract with a 30 day window for other companies to "come on board" at the 1/3 price each year-if they don't come aboard, you'd keep your exclusivity for another year. Or horsemen could turn it around and say that we're going to negotiate for 30 days-those who agree to the 1/3 get the signal for a year, those who don't wait a year to be considered for the signal in that state. What's going to happen is that some companies won't agree, and the couple that do are going to more than make up for the added percentage that they pay horsemen in added revenue generated by the "demise" of the ADW's who don't want to pay horsemen their fair share! (I'm predicting that TVG wanting to pay us less because of the cost of their TV production is going to pretty much put them out of business before too long.-They need to understand that advertising needs to pay for their TV production costs-not horsemen, the majority of whom aren't making a profit anyway. If you can't afford 2 hosts, or 3 or 4 people selecting losing pick 4 and pick 6 tickets then so be it.) Tracks have tv production costs as well, and here at Arlington we have some outstanding handicappers employed by the track. (And Jessica is easy on the eyes as well as actually very knowledgeable about horseracing)
Way to go, Alan! JohnnyZ, It's totally impossible to compare a modern horse like Curlin (2000s) to one from a previous era. Curlin didn't race nearly as long as John Henry, and if he did, perhaps he wouldn't have been as good for that long. We have to take his career for what it is/was. I think Curlin's career matches up with any similar span of John Henry's career. Alysheba too. We don't see any "iron horse" campaigns these days, so it's a little unfair to compare # of G1s, for example. It is what it is. I have no problem saying Curlin is/was as good as John Henry or Alysheba talent-wise, knowing that the comparison itself is apples-to-oranges.
Alan, Great news! I have a feeling this could be your year. We'll all be rooting for you.
I hate to say it but I think Steve T is right on about the chances of the impending demise of our sport. Hey folks, the general public at large really doesn't care about horseracing as a form of gambling or entertainment. I trek down to my local Indian gaming location (Seminole Hard Rock Casino) and the place is electric. Hordes of young people are hooked on poker. Not to mention the popularity of blackjack and other table games. This is in stark contrast to my feeling like being in a cave when attending my local track on a Saturday afternoon. I don't need to rehash all that's written on this blog regarding the tons of problems facing this game. My general concern is if you're not attracting new players to the game who's going to be playing it in thirty years?
Good morning, all.... Alan, how great is this news about you heading to LV in January! Looks like the Blue Thong Pep Squad will have to start rehearsing its act... We don't want to scare the horses so much as rattle the other contestants! The big question is....does Chalky make the trip too? You might just stake her to some nickel slots instead... I'm so pleased for you, and I will do my darndest this weekend with the TwinSpires online Saturday contest to join you there. Annie, Woodbine, which I went to in October most recently, is a nice track, and as a Northern girl, you'd like the balmy arctic breezes that caress your frozen face! OK, back to handicapping for this qualifier... Katieattherail