06/18/2009 4:58PM

HandiGambling 138

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Today's HandiGambling 138 exercise is the eighth race from Hollywood, a $12,500 claimer with a non-winners of two lifetime condition.

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.

Let's scratch #4 Mr. Inn Zone and #16 Elusive Chief

Wow!  Where to begin.  These races aren't really anyone's cup of tea, and I can't envision myself playing with anything other than HandiGambling dollars.  We have tackled a few of these races before as HandiGambling exercises, and have found that lightly-raced runners (i.e. not proven losers) seem to do well.  The main issue with this race is that there is a ton of speed, and many horses are returning off long layoffs.  That adds to the chaos factor.  Anyway, here goes.

I landed on three contenders, and must admit that I'm not confident in any of them.  I don't like to play last-out maiden graduates at short prices, but I'M BULLETPROOF (#13) is 12-1 on the morning line, and could be lukeworm on the board thanks to his long layoff.  In fact, he's only raced once since October of 2007.  He may have the right running style to fit this race as a midpack performer in a heat jammed with early speed.  He's five years old with only five lifetime starts so there have probably been significant physical problems, but he shows regularly-spaced works for a solid barn.  I'll take a shot.

ALL MONEY NO LOVE (#7) hasn't raced in over a year, and reportedly has been nursing a condylar fracture injury.  He ran some nice numbers in 2008, and is another that seems to appreciate a little pace in front of him.  The June 11 drill looks very good, and this horse wouldn't be a surprise if, and that's a big if, he runs back to his best off the long benching.  The 5-2 on the morning line isn't very attractive, but he doesn't need to be Exterminator to win this.

BASS RIVER (#2) hasn't raced since September, and he failed at 4-5 in a $4,000 claimer at Golden Gate that day.  It's interesting that he's back on the big circuit despite that loss and subsequent layoff, and he may show some fresh tactical speed from his inside post.  He won off even a longer layoff to take his maiden at Del Mar last year, and looks like an interesting longshot at 15-1 on the morning line.

As for the rest:

LORD IN COMMAND (#1) is once again stuck inside, and he didn't break very well from the rail in his first start of the meet.  He removes the blinkers, and did finish third in a similar event at Santa Anita two starts back.  He is capable of improvement in his second back.  Would you really be shocked if he won this at 20-1?

THUNDERFRMDOWNUNDR (#3) popped and stopped in a key starter allowance heat on April 18.  He looms the speed nearest the rail under the aggressive Martin Pedroza, but should feel some pressure.  A duel would probably work to his disadvantage.

TALE OF A ROCKSTAR (#4) did nothing at 84-1 last time out.  His only win came on dirt at Fairplex, and he hasn't finished in front of a horse since.

MAGNA CUM LAUDE (#6) has had plenty of chances to score at this level to no avail.  Now 1-21 lifetime, he has a hint of early speed, and should be prominent when the field turns for home.  Can we really trust him to hold everyone off this afternoon when he usually finds one or two better?  I can't although he's perfectly logical on form.

SMART OF WAR (#8) will get pace to attack, but he hasn't shown much of a stretch kick in his three previous starts against winners.  He's not a hopeless cause just yet, however, and does show a fast workout on June 10. 

DON'T FORGET MUQ (#9) halves in claiming price after winning his maiden at 22-1 on May 15.  The word on the street is this is a hulking gelding, and it's possible the the 5-year-old is finally growing into his massive body.  Those were some solid fractions he chased last time out, and he still passed a few late.  He's not the worst stab in the world.

SEVEN BELOW (#10) has lots of early speed, but his stamina is questionable, and he often drifts during the all-important stretch run.  The barn removes the blinkers, perhaps hoping this one will relax better, but he may get cooked in the pace scrum.

ENGINE SIXTY NINE (#11) was a strong pace factor in his last two races only to falter when the money was on the line.  His lone victory came in gate-to-wire fashion.  It's possible he's a need-the-lead type.  On paper, at least, that style just doesn't look appealing in this race.

STRENGTH (#14) worked a bullet on June 1, and hasn't shown a published drill in the interim.  He has tactical speed, and the outside post allows him to sit a good stalking trip without getting any cushion kicked in his face.  He hasn't won since March 24, 2007, and that race was at Bay Meadows.  Sure, he can win, but he isn't very trustworthy.

SENOR AFORTUNADO (#14) looms the horse to beat after just missing as the favorite at this level on May 31.  He is a late-kicker that will appreciate the expected quick pace, but he may be forced to lose ground on the turn due to his far outside post position.  A logical contender, but perhaps an underlaid one.

I can't make a very creative play here.

$15 Exacta Box - Bass River, All Money No Love, I'm Bulletproof (2,7,13) - $90
$10 Win - I'm Bulletproof (13) - $10

Good luck to all.

***

I am beginning to cotton to Straight Story in the big race, does anyone know how I can view her last race? Youbet doesn't have it, nor racereplays.com. It's a colonial downs race from May 25th.
slewofdamascus

Straight Story's last race was on May 25, but it was at Belmont Park.  The ninth race.  You should get that on youbet or racereplays.

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And, do you (or anyone else) have any idea who put up the bonus money if some horse did accomplish that feat?
Keith L
.

Jacobs Investments is the sponsor for the Grand Slam of Grass.  I'm assuming they're putting up the cash.

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I think that false favorites, whether lukewarm 3/1's or bridge jumping 1/9's, offer one of the best gambling opportunities in horse racing.
Steve T.

Great idea. To add to that, I would also like to discuss what to then do with such a race. That is where I falter.
jim tully

Absolutely.  The first thing I do when handicapping a given race is to find the likely favorite, and see if it's vulnerable.  Take today's HandiGambling.  The morning line favorite, All Money No Love, hasn't raced in a year due to injury.  Red flag.  Three-quarters of the time, I see something I don't like, and proceed as if the race is a tremendous betting opportunity.  What do I dislike about the favorite?  Could be many different angles.  I'll watch replays, and I may not like a horse's action.  It may not change leads.  The horse may have received a perfect trip in the most recent start that makes the bare form look better than it really is.  Perhaps the horse will be compromised by today's pace or a different distance or surface.  I hate to play big-figure maiden graduates when they face winners for the first time at short prices because the pace of the race will likely be quicker (i.e. more early pressure and stress) this time around.  Maybe there will be a gap in the work tab, or a questionable class drop, or a poor trainer stat.  Maybe the horse is a chronic underachiever (the Pick Sixes of the world).  Maybe the horse is returning off a long layoff, and the trainer intent isn't there, or the horse was perhaps injured. 
There are so many ways to knock a favorite, and they only win 33% of the time anyway. Now, once we knock the chalk, the hard work begins.  Who can beat him?  Sometimes, as in today's HandiGambling race, you'll find holes in all of the top contenders, and simply throw your hands up in the air.  Many times, I find myself overly critical of the top contenders.  If I can't find someone to beat the favorite, I pass the race more often than not. 
We work hard in our handicapping, and deserve to be rewarded.  Sometimes a favorite is unbeatable on the form, and we have to go with it from a multi-race standpoint.  Most of the time, it pays to try and beat the chalk. Of course, that's easier said than done.  How do we get the maximum bang for the buck when we find a vulnerable favorite?  That's up to the individual horseplayer to decide.  What's your comfort zone?  Do you drop the hammer with a win bet on an overlaid contender?  Do you play exotics looking for the big score?  I don't think there's one "right" way to capitalize, and I'm not a proponent of a hard-and-fast "system" for playing the races.  I think it's more a feel for the race. Do you believe the favorite will run out?  Then, by all means, go for the gusto with exotics.  If you think the chalk will be there, but is more likely an underneath horse than a winner, perhaps you may want to play another to win.  More conservative players may play the "natural" saver of a Win and Place bet.  It's truly a fascinating and puzzling game.

***

Do you remember from last year if, on Colonial Downs' major race days (like this Sat) their Pick 4 pools received significant play ($100 k or greater) or stayed small?  The 50 cent P4 for the stakes races could prove interesting if the pools are large enough.
Cycleguy

The Pick 4 pool for last year's Colonial Turf Cup card was $17,616 although, for some reason, the big race itself wasn't part of the sequence.  The same weird scenario happened on Virginia Derby day.  The race wasn't part of the Pick 4, and the pool for the wager was $17,864.  This year...same deal.  They have an All-Stakes Pick 3, but the Pick 4 is earlier on the card.  Last year's Pick 3, culminating with the Virginia Derby, had a $77,286 pool.


***

Got a question:
Saturday, Brother Keith is running at Belmont in the 6th, a N2L allowance at 6 1/2.
He's a gelding.
Has he always run as a gelding, or is this a first-time thing? 
Kyri

Brother Keith was listed as a gelding in the past performances for his most recent start at Churchill Downs.  I don't know when he was gelded.

***

4.  Dan:  May I suggest some changes to DRF PP's?  Why can't we get horse to gelding changes?  The programs have them or they are announced on race days.
How about Supplemental nominations?  
Ron Zuercher

I would love to have first-time gelding changes listed in the past performances, but spotty and late reporting of these changes (whether it be from the trainer, the racing office, the Jockey Club, or Equibase) makes it impossible to get an all-encompassing record that gives us 100% confidence in the reporting.  There are some jurisdictions that list first-time geldings in the program (Southern California, for instance), but trainers there have even come under fire for not reporting the gelding in a timely and proper fashion.
As for supplemental nominations, that would likely be an Equibase issue as they send us the data.


***

Dan - I show you some respect and then you state "like Scott Stevens going after some hapless New York Ranger."
I hope you are not one of the 37 NJ Devil fans out there because, on behalf of the millions of Ranger fans, we are very disappointed.
CM

Not really a big hockey guy, but even Ranger fans would have to admit that Stevens was one of the all-time biggest hitters the sport has ever seen.

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My DVR stopped right after Jealous Again romped. Very exciting and I congratulate W.W.--great work on the other side of the pond but I had made some mythical selections (no TVG account at this point) and I never got the 2nd or 3rd place finishers as well as the exacta/trifecta payoffs. I'm sure it has been posted somewhere but I'm not finding it. Could someone post them please?
meadowlake59

Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)

1.  Jealous Again (6/1 odds)
2.  Misheer (9/1)
3.  Ceedwell (12/1)

These are the $1 payouts listed on the TVG site.

Exacta:  $70.50
Trifecta:  $407.60

***

Looking through Alydar's PP's I saw Believe It caught 2nd in his maiden breaker with Sauce Boat third. Did Believe It ever take a GR 1? How about Sauce Boat?
Mathieu

Believe It won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at three.  Sauce Boat's Grade 1 win came in the Arlington-Washington Futurity at two.


***

I can't argue with those who say Yeats may have lost a step (is he a stallion, so we could look forward to his foals?)
Kyri

The amazing Yeats is intact.  Imagine what the response would be if he stood in the states.  Crickets.  A shame.

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Hi Dan,
Could you post the lifetime pps of one sometimes forgotten champion under the shadow of a Monster, I mean the great SHAM!!
Thank you so much!
Jose Iglesias Garcia

Unfortunately, the database from which I grab past performances doens't go back that far.  I'll be doing a past champions retrospective on Secretariat in the near future so keep an eye out for that.  Sham will certainly be referenced many, many times.

***

Back later with some weekend stakes opinions.

Dan