01/07/2009 3:55PM

HandiGambling 115


Today's HandiGambling 115 exercise is the sixth race at Santa Anita, a $40,000 claimer for older fillies and mares going down the hillside turf course.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager, and past performances are available over on the previous blog posting.  Plus, I've gotten approval from some of the bigwigs to provide DRF prizes to the poster with the highest return each week.  So, not only will the winning poster receive the opportunity to pick next week's HandiGambling race, but he/she will also receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan" (a $136.95 value).  I'll e-mail each week's winner with the details.  Anyway, on to this week's race!

First, let's scratch #4 Awesome Feat

As usual, our HandiGambling race looks difficult, and I would have to go three deep in my usual multi-race wagers.  #5 No Ka Oi won the Sadie Diamond Futurity at Hastings Park in 2005, and was claimed a whopping eight times last year.  Despite all that activity, she hasn't won since early May, but now switches to a more aggressive rider in Rafael Bejarano, and owns winning experience over this tricky turf course.  She also has one of those sneaky angles I like, the "reclaim."  Trainer Steve Knapp lost No Ka Oi for $32,000 in October for owner Michael J. Miller, but purchased her back for the same amount on December 12.  This time, Knapp is also listed as the owner.  Let's assume he thinks pretty highly of her ability. 

#9  Brendolyn looms the horse to beat based on her consistency, sharp current form, and previous winning experience over this course.  She's only raced once since August, however, and may not get a ton of pace to rally into.  I'm not sure I want to take too short a price on her nose, but she'll be tough if she fires her usual shot.

#6 Missoula was a vet scratch on December 12, but the New York-bred hit the board in 90% of her races in 2008, and was chasing quick fractions in her last two starts going down the hill.  Trainer Jack Carava hikes her up in claiming price despite the layoff, and jockey Martin Pedroza should have her close to the pace when the field swings onto the Pro-Ride patch. 

#1 The King's Lass goes third off the layoff after disappointing as the chalk behind some of these same horses on December 12.  She overcame the inside post going down the hill on March 22, but has a habit for settling for minor trophies.

#2 Jen's New Chapter owns a two-race win streak, but has never raced on grass, and hasn't seen action since December 6, 2007.  She certainly could need a race.

#3 Sweetsinginanita pressed slow fractions en route to her recent 8 1/2 furlong win at Hollywood, and may have to rally from farther back in this spot.  She's found the right class level, but I want to see her put two winning races back-to-back.

#7 Foxy Games may prove the main speed, but she's another mare with more runner-up finishes than victories, and wasn't able to parlay a 23 1/5 opening quarter and a two-length stretch lead to victory last time out.  If they leave her alone up front, she can make her presence felt, and the barn has sent out some live horses at this meet.

Hey, Steve T., how about a mare for Unusual Heat? #8 Dona Amelia finished third in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap in 2005, and was a Group 3 winner in her native Chile.  She was multiple stakes-placed last year, is a granddaughter of Gone West, and now halves in price to $40,000 for her first start of the year.  She hasn't won since May 4, 2007, and may want a bit more ground at this stage of her career.

#10 Pat the Cool Cat makes her first start with a claiming tag attached since her victorious career debut at Calder in 2006.  She's won three times over this downhill turf course, and may work out a nice pace-tracking trip while in the clear.  She wouldn't be a surprise, but has only run once since early February.

In multi-race wagers, I'd probably play equal parts of No Ka Oi, Missoula, and Brendolyn, but for the HandiGambling exercise, I'll go this route:

$10 WP -  No Ka Oi (#5)

$13 Exacta Box - No Ka Oi (#5), Missoula (#6), and Brendolyn (#9)

$2 for a hot dog.

I just don't love or prefer one over the others enough to find a strong key so I'll wimp out, play a box, and hope for the best.

Expecting you will all do much better.

Best of luck,


J.D. More than 1 year ago
Annie, As I have previously stated, my 40 yrs of "almost" daily handicapping has enabled me to handicap decently but bet, well, whatever is the opposite of brilliant. My friends have made fortunes by betting the flip side of my coin. This has a pretty good story in the end. I had decided to bet live(via computer) $10 exactas from the #9 and #10 to the #8. This was with 20 minutes to post. I started thinking of my mistakes and, I promise, thought of the blog. I thought "what are people going to say if I don't box and the 8 wins." The horse had so many seconds, but I kept thinking about the blog. With one minute to post, I couldn't believe the odds they were letting Dona go off at so I put in a $5 exacta 8 to the 9,10. Needless to say, I wish I did well in the exercise, but not too bad of consolation. I do appreciate the help and even old dogs(I guess mid 40's is old!)can learn to change bad habits. I'll remember your great advice next week, I promise. Congrats to Blackstone for picking a great race(and for hitting it nice too!) Congrats to Dylbert and the winner Peter V. for awesome perfomances. Great hit by many people and I saw many just barely miss out on huge scores. This is just going to get bigger and better every week. Thanks again, Dan and the DRF.
C More than 1 year ago
"If they're good enough to run second, they're good enough to run first." Annie, Not to be one of THOSE guys, uh, wait, I AM one of THOSE guys, but I don't really buy that. Jacques Who might be the most infamous example of a habitual hanger. More recently, Atoned was the same way for most of last year... good enough to be 2nd or 3rd, without ever showing the heart to put anyone away when it mattered. By extension, if they run 5th, they can run 4th, or 3rd, etc... OK, enough with being THAT guy. Man, I hate THAT guy. Slew, Here I go on the football again (sorry Dan, everyone), but quickly, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a Baltimore/SanDiego championship game. Oh, and OVER in the Cards/Panthers game, and possibly closer than most expect. OK, done... I swear that football guy is even worse than the nitpicker!
johnnyz More than 1 year ago
Scian22, Really good to see you posting and, nice hit today. Hope all is well at home and you stick around for the Derby preps. Going to be a fun spring! Congrats to Peter Vescovo, Dylbert, Blackstone and all the other big winners today in HG 115! Shame on me, as I posted after the last HG exercise that I thought the box bet, while something I don't like has a place in these ultra competitive races we have been wagering in the HG contest. While what I thought was the top four horses finished in the top four, guess who didn't do a super box? What is even sicker is in a live bet, I did box the 8,10,2,9 in a tri box. Don't ask me why I didn't do a super box, as I can't answer that to myself. Van Savant, while I didn't consider Dona Amelia an "A" pick, I really thought she was more than a B pick. Dropping into such a low level, her 2nd back was a very good performance on the downhill, and her back class had to be considered in a 40k claimer. Also, while I pay little attention to work outs for horses past the age of four, when I see the last four from a 7 yr old that stand out, I pay attention. Calvin, glad to see you mention St. Simon. That sire is a study in itself if not a whole book. I realize that Stockwell is notable as a sire line but, I just haven't put much in on his place in sire history. BTW, have many new thoughts regarding 3 yr. olds, will send you an email toward the end of next week.
Calvin Carter More than 1 year ago
Annie, At Kentuckyderby.com you can get the Brisnet past performances for 50 of the leading Kentucky Derby contenders. Here's the link: http://www.kentuckyderby.com/2009/racing-information/contender-pps
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
David W, Yep, Scott's Spirit ran in the 7th. I updated the spreadsheet. Unfortunately my methodology to look for entries is to eyeball the entries and my list (less than technologically advanced...). Keep looking and let me know when I miss one. Thanks.
jim tully More than 1 year ago
Like Annie, I too thought the #8 had been in over her head for far too long. I essentially handicapped this race in about two minutes using the process of elimination which left me with the 1, 8, 9 and 10. The 10 was off the layoff and had the the far outside (or is that considered inside at 6 1/2 SA turf course?). She was an easy throwout for me despite her record. The 1 looked capable but didn't seem to be putting up the same numbers since her layoff. Basically, I took the 8 over the 9 because of the drop and everyone else seemed to be using the 9 and so I figured the 8 would go off at much higher price and I was right. I will probably never win HG since I don't play supers and tri's but I am proud that I have cashed about half the times I've submitted an entry in HG. Since I am taking a well needed break from real wagering until the Fountain of Youth, I thought I would share a horse I had on my watch list that is running Sat at SA in a MC 25k named Incandenzca. Made a sweeping wide move at Hollywood in his debut only to flatten out. That move didn't work at Hol but it might at SA and he draws a better inside post on Sat. Probably will get better than the 5-1 he was in the debut because of the results on paper.
Danny B. More than 1 year ago
HG 115 Review One of these weeks, I’m just going to bet my key horse to place across every type of bet. I can’t lose. I think that’s the fourth race I’ve lost now by a nose, neck, or head. As they say, at least she gave me a thrill to the wire. Again, I could have probably made more money if I’d constructed my wagers a little more diversely and creatively. What I’m seeing here is there is a distinct difference in the way some of us play this exercise. Some of us attempt to hit the proverbial home run each week spending a majority of our play in the trifecta and superfecta payoff. Others, including myself, prefer to focus more on the win and place pools along with an exacta. It’s more conservative approach, but still returns money. I guess it all depends on what you are comfortable playing. I play the trifecta at my home track, but that’s usually because there are quite a few races where there is a favorite that just can’t be beat and I’m looking for some value underneath. Like Johnny Z., I wrote that Jen’s New Chapter had a chance to run well yesterday. Bill Spawr was 2 for 6 so far brining horses back off the long layoff. I also thought the horse had a chance to show something on the grass based off the Tomlinson figures. I know some scoff (C nods in approval) at their validity (Alan, I’m shocked, shocked to read that you don’t believe in the numbers), but they do seem to point out horses from time to time that have a chance to outrun their odds. If you also look back, Jen’s New Chapter had also run against some pretty good horses throughout her career and been competitive. Finally, go back and look at Steve T’s spreadsheet. The two-post has been extremely successful in hitting the board. If I’m not mistaken, the two-post shows the best percentages of any post except 11 and 12 which weren’t in play yesterday. I should have played her more strongly then just throwing her in an exacta box. My $5 exacta box, after the scratch of the 4, contained them all. I was leery of using the winner originally because the drop was so large. Going from 80K Optional to 40-35 is a rather huge drop down the ladder. I sometimes shy away from horses dropping that far because I am afraid something is wrong and the horse is priced to move for a reason. Plus, Valdivia hadn’t exactly been lighting up the downhill turf. Mix it all together and I was leery before the changes were announced. But when the 4 scratched, you had to at least consider her. In hindsight, I should have put together a couple of trifecta bets keying the 10 in the top and second spot and the 2 in the second and third spots. The total cost of doing it that way would have been $12. I could have also thought about a couple of super bets too using that same methodology. I’ll add it to my notes and see if I can’t improve the wagering structure next week. Congratulations to Peter and Dylbert and everyone who showed a profit this week. And thanks to Dan for providing a prize for the contest. It continues to be a lot of fun and a great learning exercise.
C More than 1 year ago
Annie, Yes, you're right about the distinction between the habitual hangers and hard-luck types who run like they mean it. I didn't really look at yesterday's PPs. I was speaking in general terms because it's a phrase I've heard before at the track. Anyhow, as for the contests, it's usually a mid-week time thing. I'm in it once in a while. PS: Sorry, Atoned. I know I'm pretty hard on you. When talking about heart-lite types, I'll try to focus on Artie Schiller in the future... he did burn me in the Breeders Cup though and ended up being somewhat decent. But before that, he was the great folder.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Calvin, That Kentucky Derby PP link is great for all of us! Thanks! Most of the players will get a chance to see their horse's complete PP's. And then they can print them and hang them on their refrigerator or frame them and hang them in their home or office. Lol Thanks also for the very interesting pedigree article. It is a complicated and fascinating study for sure. And, then of course, there is the "breed the best to the best and hope for the best". Who said that anyway? Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
Sarah's horse, Mr. Rod, was unfortunately injured and sent to the sidelines for the whole duration of the game, and she has requested Checklist as a substitute horse. So, Sarah: Your horse is CHECKLIST. He is a bay colt by Gone West (a son of Mr. Prospector) out of Yearly Report by General Meeting (a son of Seattle Slew). He was born on 3/10. Your trainer is Todd Pletcher (how many does he have anyway). Checklist broke his Md in his first start on 1/3 at GP at 6F. Here is what Steve Haskin said about him: "It's early in the year, but we've already seen a potential star in the making in a 6F Md race at GP on Sat. The winner, Checklist, looks like he could be something special after easily defeating the highly touted More Than Willing. Despite pressing fractions of :21-4/5 and :44-4/5, Checklist was never asked to run, with Velazquez just hand-riding him the entire length of the stretch. Checklist's dam, Yearly Report, is inbred to Seattle Slew through General Meeting and Slew O'Gold, 2 GR1 winners at 1-1/4 miles. With names like Nijinsky, Riverman, Northern Dancer and Foolish Pleasure in his female family, distance should not be an issue. His only drawback is getting a late start due to bucked shins, so, with only a 6F Md race under him, and no starts as a 2-yr old, he does have catching up to do." Good luck with your horse! Annie