11/26/2008 12:39PM

HandiGambling 111


Today's HandiGambling exercise is the sixth race at Churchill Downs, a maiden special weight for two-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.  Past performances for the race can be found in the previous blog entry.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on this race. 

Several of these babies are trying the turf for the first time in this contentious heat.  Rocamadour has an intriguing pedigree.  His sire, Black Mambo, was stakes-placed sprinting on dirt, but was certainly bred for grass being by top turf sire Kingmambo out of a half-sister to Weekend Surprise, the dam of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, etc.  Black Mambo cost $1.1M as a  yearling, and is a half-brother to Shuailaan, a stakes-winner in Europe.  While the dam was winless on grass, and Black Mambo has yet to sire a turf winner, it's interesting to note that he is a half-brother to a sod winner.  Rocamadour was saddled with the inside post in both of his one-turn races on the main track.  He ran evenly over polytrack before faltering badly on dirt at Churchill Downs.  I'll go with the theory that his turf race will be more like his synthetic try than his dirt debacle, and that he'll improve for a barn that does very well with first-time grass performers.  Rocamadour was a $20,000 yearling that sold up to $80,000 earlier this year. 

Coach Gravy comes from the Asmussen assembly line, and his polytrack race was noticeably better than his three starts on dirt.  The dam was a Group 3 winner on turf in her native Ireland, and she has foaled a couple of winners overseas.  There is also some class and distance influences in her female family as the second dam is a half-sister to Open Mind.  Coach Gravy draws a comfortable post near the inside, and should show solid early speed. 

God's Country is probably going to be dismissed at a huge price, but I'm not totally discounting his chances first-out.  His sire is a three-quarter brother to Surfside, and God's Country is from the female family of Irish St. Leger winner Ninisky.  His last workout looks slow, but it matches up on the worktab with stablemate Living, a three-year-old colt that won his debut going long on the grass at Mountaineer earlier in the year.  He's likely to be huge odds, and I'll throw him in with the above two in exotic wagers. 

Bruce N Autumn looms the horse to beat off his big number on dirt, and the half-sister to Black-Eyed Susan winner Chamrousse by Lemon Drop Kid should have no problem with the distance.  He gets a strong rider switch to Robby Albarado, but you probably won't get much value.  Remember that he was almost 50-1 in his career debut.  You'll be getting closer to 2-1 today as he tries two turns and a new surface. 

J T Rocker showed good speed in his debut before faltering late.  Considering he was making his first start going a mile, he had every reason to be a bit short.  He's from the female family of Sunshine Forever so there's enough grass in there for him to thrive on the surface switch.  I'm guessing Kent Desormeaux takes this Aldebaran colt off the pace this afternoon, and wouldn't be surprised by an improved showing. 

Big McCool is by turf star Giant's Causeway out of a three-quarter sister to Grade 3 turf winner Namaqualand.  He goes second off the layoff with a recent five-furlong breeze on display, and is another that could certainly improve for Dallas Stewart. 

I seriously considered El Crespo when the son of A.P. Indy made his debut on polytrack, but he never picked up his feet at 21-1.  He adds blinkers for his second start, and has a strong turf pedigree.  He's a half-brother to turf stakes-winners Rey de Cafe and Tricky Causeway, and his dam is a half-sister to the nice turf runner King Cugat.  He was also working very well prior to his debut.

This is a tough, tough race with several possibilities.  I'm going in without much confidence in these plays:

$40 Win Rocamadour (3)

$10 Exacta Box Coach Gravy, Rocamadour, God's Country (2,3,9)

Be back Friday with questions and weekend analysis:

Happy Thanksgiving!


jim lilley More than 1 year ago
Dan, You've probably done this a hundred times, but, maybe again.......if you have 10 minutes to handicap a race, any race, even a mid claimer, how would you begin and would you walk me through the steps at arriving at a win bet or an exotic bet. Also, thanks for accepting this request from a very conservative bettor. My budget allows for $10 wagers.
Kat More than 1 year ago
vicstu - I was impressed by how Einstein was able to win this race (and demonstrate his class), but I too was really impressed by Delightful Kiss. He ran huge and if Einstein hadn't already been there, he would have been a most deserving winner.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
katieattherail; You are correct, and I missed that one. Sorry, and thanks for catching it. Jeff Tatus; No, I declared myself as disqualified back on November 26th in my 9:07 post. I incorrectly calculated my total wagers, therefore, my plays are ineligible. Clearly (in my opinion), PauliWalnuts won this iteration. There were some great bets out there for this version, and I hope folks learned some things, and profited. As an aside, I am not the arbiter of this stuff, I simply calculate (actually, I miscalculate) the results to the best of my abilities when and if I have time. I enjoy the excersize so much that I am always interested to see who did what, and how. Others in the past have posted what they see, and then others have chimed in. The "proclamation" obviously comes from Dan.
vicstu More than 1 year ago
I think Julien Leparoux deserves alot of credit for the forwardly placed ride he gave Einstein in the Clark Handicap. He basically rode off of the outside shoulder of Commentator and made sure that one did not get loose on the lead; pressed the pace on the backstretch forcing Commentator to run the half mile in 48 and change, after a moderate quarter mile in 26 and change. Turning for home Julien asked Einstein for his run and that one looked Commentator in the eye and powered past him effortlessly to the wire. Congrats to Helen Pitts and Einstein for beating a legit grade 1 speed horse on dirt. And if you haven't watched the video of the race, watch longshot Delightful Kiss come flying home out of the clouds to fly past Commentator from the back of the pack. Man, is that horse flying or what? The final furlong was run by Einstein in 12 and change, but DK under Borel must have made up 6 lengths during that final furlong. Borel is absolutely dangerous on almost any graded stakes horse at Churchill Downs. He also rode a masterful race. Why? Because Commentator was the horse to beat, and DK was ridden well enough to beat Commentator. Borel obviously did not factor in Einstein tracking Commentator so closely and running so well on dirt in the stretch (and getting such a jump on him at the 1/8th pole). I remember when Tinky and I had a very interesting (to me) and multi-posted discussion on very good speed horses. He and I both agreed that Commentator was very good but did not have the heart or stamina when pressed and challenged. IMO this race just backs that up. Unlike his previous 2 route romps, Commentator was pressed in the backstretch, was not allowed an open lead on soft fractions, and was never further ahead than 1-1/2 lengths. IMO, its a blueprint on how to beat Commentator. Unfortunately, most jockeys when racing against Commentator are afraid if they press C on the lead, they may get into a speed duel. Or, the jocks are more worried about rationing out their horse's speed at a pedestrian pace than riding their mounts to actually win and beat Commentator. Because, to win against C, IMHO, you have to move your horse closer than usual to the lead, press C and boldly challenge the horse when it counts--looking him dead in the eye. The trick is not letting C get away and actually catching the horse to eyeball him. The easiest way to do so was to do as Julien did if you are on tactical speed, a strong finisher, or both. Once again, congrats to Helen Pitts and Leperoux, way to ride the race to win, instead of riding not to lose. A well though out, aggressive and focused strategy. Being a son of Spend a Buck, I do not know why Einstein surprised everyone with his forwardly placed dusting of Commentator on dirt. I love Commentator, and think he's fast and durable. But, I am still waiting for that one to dig in and really show his class when another horse presses him or looks him in the eye when it matters... BTW, I am interesting in seeing how Old Fashioned runs for Jones and Porter in the Remsen. He has won from off the pace and blew away the field on the front-end. So, the horse is versatile for a 2 year old.
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
I actually decided to pay my way into the "World's largest vegas qualifier" and they did a great job of everything from cheap and maiden claimers to graded stakes races. Gonna be a lot of fun. Quick Stakes Picks for the contest: In the Fairground 9th, Mambo in Seattle would be a standout but for contest purposes I'm gonna need at least 2/1, which I doubt I'll get. So I'll go with the better price between Stonehouse and Good and Lucky-both have shown they love fairgrounds Stonehouse just ran a 98 beyers at the distance at Hawthorne and has 3 wins and a second in 6 starts at the Fairgrounds, and Good and Lucky has been on artificial surface or turf lately, but has 3 wins in 4 starts at fairgrounds including a 106 Beyer. In the Generous at Hollywood Bittel Road another "standout" on paper who is probably not going to offer value but unless he's a huge overlay my pick is Battle of Hastings, a private purchase who won his last 2 in Europe. (And the Breeder's Cup tells me that top to bottom, European grass horses are superior to the local hopes) In the Hollywood Turf Express, again I'm looking across the pond to Majestic Diamond who just won at about 30/1 and has every right to improve off that race . I'm guessing that the allowance he just won was intended as a prep for this spot, and if that's the case, this horse could win for fun-not sure if we'll get 12/1 or not but Europeans on turf is usually the way to go lately. Hope everyone had a great T'Giving and let's get about 15 of us trips to Vegas today!
Jeff Tatus More than 1 year ago
HandiContest.... I thought "Pauli Walnuts" won this exercise. Where is VanSavant's proclamation, I can't find it anywhere in this thread? Can someone post it?
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
After a short turkey induced snooze I happened upon an idea. How about Nick Zito trying Commentator out on turf? He's probably going to get another easy dirt win with no speed trying him tomorrow (KD is NOT going to try and duel with him). And Zito will NOT bring him to the BC next year with the classic on synthetic, why not try him on turf with thoughts towards next years BC Mile? The point is that Commentator gets kicked around alot here on the boards and in the racing community in general. I've been one of the kickers, but it seems to me that a union has been made between him and Johnny V. They work very well together, and if there's no BC Classic in C's future (at least for next year) a successful campaign on turf might get the horse the respect he's starting to deserve. Do it like Curlin and see if it sticks. He can always go back to dirt if it doen't work out.It might even be better on his temperamental feet. So how about it pedigree gurus? Think this guy can handle the weeds successfully? I'm thinking he could be the next Tin Man.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
On behalf of the rest of the "lecherous old geezers" I think Dixieland Band should be the next Viagra spokeshorse... Cayman, Not a lot of turf in his background, but you never know. Here is an interesting trivia tidbit on his dam Outsource (1998) - she is one of the youngest dams to produce a Grade 1 winner, she was bred to Distorted Humor at age 2 and produced Commentator (2001).
Katieattherail More than 1 year ago
Happy Black Friday all! Van Savant, would you please rejigger the HG 111 results for me? If you check my posting with picks, you'll see above the $ 18.30 pay out Exacta box, I had a straight $ 10 Win and Place on Bruce. By my punching the old calculator, that adds a hefty $ 25 (Win) and $ 17 (Place) to my fictional earnings, for a whopping $60.30 total. Agreed? In reality, I do have a win ticket to cash, way to go Justin and Sohby! Question for ya'all tomorrow... Katieattherail
Jeff Tatus More than 1 year ago
Congrat's to Pauli Walnuts... great use of a C-note and I hope you bet it for real.