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Tonight's HandiGambling 137 exercise is the eighth race from Belmont, an entry-level allowance race for three-year-olds and upward going seven furlongs on the Widener Turf Course.
Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan." Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified. In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Past performances are available on the previous blog entry.
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated.
As of noon, the turf is soft, and the rails are set at 18 feet. Let's scratch GREAT EMPEROR (#1A).
This looks like a fun little race, and I'm going to concentrate on two main contenders for my HandiGambling plays.
GOLDEN WEEKEND (#6) is a bit of an enigma. He's one of the few horses in this day and age to go off Lasix after a number of starts, and still be successful on the track. After going an underachieving 1-12 with Lasix, he's 1-2 with a second in his two starts without the anti-bleeding medication. Now, I know he beat much weaker opponents last time out, but he beat them like a drum, going right to the top, setting a solid pace, and drawing off in hand. He'll face stiffer competition here, and the step up in distance is a bit of a concern. Plus, both of his wins have come over Belmont Park's Inner Turf course, and he'll have to familiarize himself with the Widener in a hurry. Even with all of these questionable circumstances circling Golden Weekend like buzzards looking for the kill, I still respect his early speed, and think he'll control this race from the start. Trainer Carlos Martin's barn has been hitting on all cylinders at the meet, and Golden Weekend is a very dangerous pace presence.
Despite selling for over 26 times the stud fee of his sire, Repent, SYDNEY ROAD (#4) was dismissed at 29-1 odds for his career debut in the last race of the Gulfstream Park meet. He made the public pay with a thoroughly professional performance. Syndey Road pressed the pace throughout from the inside, and refused to be passed in the final quarter-mile. The 89 Beyer Speed Figure earned that day makes him an intriguing player. Although beaten in his first start against winners, he ran into a solid group that included Lime Rickey (Grade 3-placed on turf at Gulfstream), and Sette E Mezzo (allowance winner on Belmont Stakes Day). Sydney Road has been right up on the pace in both of his starts, and will probably have to sit as he turns back in distance with quality speed breaking to his outside. The lightly-raced colt has plenty of potential, and should give a good account of himself.
Although sporting a 6-1-2-1 record over Belmont turf in the past performances, MARQ OF LOVE (#1) is 2-0-1-1 over the Widener. He goes second of the layoff for solid connections, and would benefit greatly if the speeds have to go too fast in the early stages. He's been toiling in the claiming ranks, but seems to be coming up to this race the right way, and isn't the worst longshot in the world.
Talk about a horse for course! BIG JEROME (#2) is 3-3-0-0 over the Widener, and the turnback to seven furlongs should hit him right between the eyes. He has good tactical speed, and is capable of working out a solid trip from the second flight or so. He faced some decent allowance fields at Gulfstream, but the recent layoff lines are a cause for concern for me. He wouldn't be a surprise.
DR. SMARTY JACK (#3) won last time over this course, but that was a neck victory over maidens, and he'll face a tougher group in this spot. He's a nicely-bred colt with the potential for a strong future on grass, and his barn is first-rate. Still, I think he may be in a bit steep this afternoon.
RIGHT OF WAY (#5) has won two of his last three races including a course and trip score over starter allowance rivals in late April. The early fractions he faced last time were merely average, however, and he'll probably have to chase faster splits here. The 25-day gap between the last two works is a bit worrisome as well.
GALAN FETE (#7) is by a sire that is 28-273 (10%) with all first-turf performers, and the dam has already tossed Beau Fete, a Group 1-placed perfomer at seven furlongs on grass in South America. The dam is a half-sister to Freedom Cry, a multiple Group 2 winner on grass in Europe that placed in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Turf. It looks like Galan Fete has been working in company with Taum Sauk, a three-year-old trained by Dan Peitz that made his career debut on grass. That race didn't go very well (46 Beyer), but Taum Sauk returned to win his maiden on dirt. Galan Fete faced a crack sprinter last time out in Everyday Heroes, but others look more appealing in this spot.
STRIKE AGAIN (#8) faced a strong field of three-year-old allowance runners at Keeneland when a tiring fifth on April 5, but must tackle older today, and needs to prove that he can rate and finish. He's fast out of the gate, but I don't think he's Golden Weekend fast. You always have to respect these connections on the lawn, but make sure you get your value on this colt as he sprints for the first time.
TALKHOUSE (#9) sports a 2-1-0-0 record over the Widener, but hasn't factored against weaker runners in his four starts since winning his maiden, and was no match for Golden Weekend when chasing that one on April 29. He needs to improve by leaps and bounds to win this.
INDYMINE (#10) turns back in distance, but he won his maiden going seven furlongs on dirt at Tampa Bay Downs in 2007. His last win came in the mud for a $15,000 tag, and he still has to prove to me that he classes up with this field. He may be a bit better on the main track.
Here's how I'm going to attack the race.
$50 Win - Golden Weekend (#6)
$25 Exacta Box - Sydney Road (#4), Golden Weekend (#6)
Best of luck to all.
Back tomorrow with weekend stakes opinions, questions, and comments.
I know I have blogged about my backstretch tour before the Breeder's Cup at Monmouth. Well, look what I found over on the Bloodhorse. A lovely article about a nice woman who donated that tour in return for a donation to ReRun. Enjoy the article. It is so nice to read something positive about our favorite sport. http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/51174/inside-track-turning-things-around
TBTA, Icy Atlantic, if I recall correctly, won the '07 G3 Red Bank at MTH. Great story about the '98 Breeders Cup! Readers, Accelerated Post Times (or "Hurry Up Cards") are nothing new. Hawthorne does them at times in the winter as well as other northern tracks (Aqueduct, Philly,....) when weather is inclement. In fact, I actually expect this to happen if there is heavy rain, wind, or snow on a race day. Keith L., Baltimore Brian, I also didn't do a Free Daily Race/Handicapping School race last night as the show I attended ran later than expected. I should be back to give out more losers later.
Congratulations to Zan the Man and also to Wackymacky for your nice exacta scores. And once again, thank you cayman01 for your tireless work tallying the winners and keeping the spreadsheet current. I at least managed to break a long string of zeros in the HG contest with a $50 wp on the winner, which I believe put me a distant 3rd this week. Of course, I had no real $ on the race. I enjoy the contest and the blog immensely. Good luck to all this weekend.
Vicstu, To me, Alan Garcia's decision was simply: 1) Ask the horse for early run to clear Dunkirk and commit suicide with a high likelihood of the horse having a very bad experience and finishing last... or, 2) Realize that their ideal plan to go to the lead and control the pace had been foiled by Johnny V. and Dunkirk to their inside and thus try to rate and hope for the best... In this scenario, while they didn't win, they did finish 4th... I commend Alan Garcia! There is no way that Kiaran would have wanted him to hustle in front of Dunkirk under the circumstances... Vicstu, you and I have a profound difference of opinion on the impact of pace (and stress pressure) to final time. And the thing is, I think you are locked into this view because when horses do what you think they should on the front end and then falter badly, you don't consider that it was a bad idea, rather you chalk it up to the horse proving that it wasn't good enough... You said: "What I meant to say was "when factored together and totaled" those fractions added up to the 2nd slowest Belmont... I realize BSFs factor final time only. However, Bris pace figs have the Belmont pace being about avg. and not "strong" or "fast", when properly measured against how fast the track was playing." Seriously, outside of the Lord God Almighty, who can speak with confidence on the specific relative speed of the entire Belmont Park oval when this year's Belmont Stakes was run, particularly relative to historical runnings... It is also noteworthy that there were no other races run (on the day) over the first 1/2 mile of the race where we focused on the early pace. Further, it often occurs, especially on the large ovals (Aqueduct main dirt, Gulfstream, etc.) that the relative times (especially pace) between one-turn races and two-turn races look quite different... It's logical to think that the track was fast but how exactly fast, who really knows for sure???
Alan; My friend…it appears that the Evil-Operators have not only raised the prices on their product, but they have transmogrified our Leader without informing us! He may need our help, so let’s all look for clues…shhhh….!!!! Money is one thing, but changing our Planet is serious business! I will remain loyal and have even conceded to paying the 25% increase, but I shall always maintain my stance that I am a FormBlogger. That is an immutable truth. The Evil-Operators can call our world whatever they wish… I am sure that the rest of us are cut from the same cloth. Harrumph!!! I “heart” FormBlog ♥☺
RE: Triple Crown BSF assignments I posted this on Crist's blog based upon some of his observations of comparable Triple Crown races and the BSF assignments over time. I'm guessing that most of you read Crist's blog but I figured that there is better interactive discussion on this blog and to me, this is an interesting topic of discussion and debate. First of all, what does the BSF assignment in the Belmont Stakes mean, really??? If this year’s version was won in a final time of 2:29, what would the figure have been? I’d suggest that it would have been similar to the one assigned… Second, in an era of technological developments in sports medicine and performance enhancing drugs (both legal and illegal), are horses really running slower these days versus prior years?? If we are using Beyer Speed Figures assignments as the basis of the argument then I would suggest a couple of considerations: 1) Has the process of developing and assigning BSFs been consistent over this historical period or has it evolved to less of a final time basis to more of a subjective interpretation of what a horse is capable of doing in the future (leaning heavily on prior figures that were similarly subjectively obtained) versus what it actually did, from a time standpoint, in the race in question. 2) How can there possibly be any confidence in comparing BSFs over different years? Isn’t it the reality that BSFs don’t so much capture final time as they attempt to capture relative time differences (based upon historical norms) between the various classes of horses? What I’m suggesting with this is that, if due to improved technology and medications, that lesser horses are running faster than they have historically (or at least compressing the time performance difference between them and better horses) then wouldn’t we expect to see a reduction of the figures earned on the upper end of the scale, assuming that the upper end just isn’t capable (a time performance ceiling) of improving at the same level of the lesser horses beneath them? While the jury is out on the quality of this year’s Triple Crown group, I’m inclined to think that a compression in time performance (lesser horses running faster, not merely a synthetic phenomenon although exaggerated on some synthetic surfaces) is a factor in the lower BSF assignments that we are seeing at the high end. It just doesn’t make sense to me that in this day and age of technology advancements, that horses are getting slower…
Another round of the AP contest tomorrow, lots of short fields early so my guess is that it won't take a big number to hit it (unless someone hits the super in one of the last 2 races or possibly the late pick four) There's 21K carryover at AP for the p6 so if no one hits it today I'm going to try my own $48 minnow, but not in the contest! (Arlington actually allows a dollar p6) 6th-1-Drinks to Go-I think the one turn mile is just what the bartender ordered to get him into the winner's circle. 7-Too Many Sins-really likes AP poly and no reason he won't win right back 7th-7-Cinnamon Kisses-not sure why the program comments said barn didn't do well off layoffs-they're a solid 18% and even more impressive, 27% grass first off layoff of 180 days or more-10/1 Price Shot. 8-Single Solution-missed by a head in only turf start at Gulfstream. 10-Bill's Presence-had race won 2 back but got offended by the whip. (I don't blame him, he was 4 or 5 lengths ahead and wasn't gonna be caught-Geroux kept beating him and the horse got irritated and went thru the inside rail!) Last race he ran a solid 2nd. Would have kind of liked to seen a jock change here but oh well. 8th-Erdiston-he won for us last year for 50K and now he's, according to my sources, doing very well. Wins this for fun. 9th-3-You Go West Girl-is prime top and was running very well in New York 6-Communique-this is when she got good last year-loves this track and comes off graded stakes 2nd at Keeneland. 10th-3-Socal Charmer-ships back from Keeneland-got caught last at 7f so shortening up is the key. 5-Hug It Out-2 for 2 at Arlington and a 2nd against allowance horses at Keeneland on Poly. 11th-1-Lead On-inside and towards the front has been the place to be on the AP grass and doesn't actually have to have the lead to win. 9-Approvedbythemint-2nd last and according to form notes didn't get the best of trips (Geroux again) Again may have used on top if there was a jock change. I'm actually tossing some ML favorites here-Opportune Moment-5/2 in the 6th-I think needs 2 turns. In the 9th Paisano Creek is going to be overbet (Cat and Calabrese apart just don't have the same type of horses as they did together) and not only off that last race but off the works after his win for the Cat just seems to be regressing some.
All: Here is some good and thought provoking news from Churchill Downs. First, their track report today is for Main Track Good and Turf is Good. Looks Good for tomorrow's Reunion Day? Secondly, Wooley makes news with Mine That Bird's announced schedule. They are looking at the West Virginia Derby for him as his "prep" to the Travers. Wow! Is there some kind of bonus for Kentucky-West Virginia Derby winners here? Or, are they ducking someone by going the lesser stakes route (I mean, there is the more prestigious Haskel and Jim Dandy, afterall)! My guess, they don't want to meet Kelly Leak, who's connections have reported that arguably the best 3 yo male in the country will be prepping in the Afirmed Stakes for his run at the $1 mil Haskel purse. Or, are they thinking Rachel Alexandra is going to the Jersey shore too?
Shucks, Arthur: you're a minute late and a dollar short here! LOL!
"Pick a race next week from Woodbine so that I can bet on my girlfriend Chantel! I want her to ride Mine that Bird!!!! Borel needs to go back to Rachel. Posted by: Whackymacky on June 12, 2009 at 07:34 AM" Most girlfriends I've had have appreciated (or insisted) that I know how to spell their name correctly....