07/01/2009 12:48PM

HandiGambling 140


Tonight's HandiGambling 140 exercise is the fourth race from Penn National, a $5,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

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 processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

GRESHIE BAY (#3) looks like the horse to beat based on her speed figures, but we have to keep in mind that those numbers were earned on turf and polytrack at Woodbine, and this will be her first start on dirt.  Also, I'm a bit dubious how the Woodbine Beyers will translate to Penn National as it's been my experience that Woodbine shippers generally under-perform at lower class levels at tracks like Finger Lakes. 
Still, her last race looked okay.  It was a key event that produced next-out winners from the third- and sixth-place finishers, and Greshie Bay was in-and-among horses while four wide down the backstretch.  Her new trainer, Layne Giliforte, is 8-33 over the past year at Penn National (according to Formulator Web statistics), and jockey William Otero predictably chose Greshie Bay over ELFIES DREAM (#11, the other horse Otero was named to ride on the overnight sheet). 

MINE (#9) has had 11 chances to break her maiden to no avail, and has been the beaten favorite in an amazing 10 of those starts.  She could be the main speed for the high-percentage Stephanie Beattie barn, but doesn't seem very trustworthy on the win end of things. 

TEST NOTES (#5) doesn't look very good on paper (heck, most of these don't look very good no paper), but she's only raced once at this $5,000 maiden claiming level, and may not have cared for the "good" racing conditions.  She finished second for $7,500 earlier this year, and may clunk along for a piece of the pie at a solid price. 

The plunge from maiden special weights to maiden claimers is arguably the most powerful class drop in the game, and PREACHER (#4) held her own against better in West Virginia as a juvenile filly.  She doesn't have much early speed, but should relish the class relief, and only needs to improve her 2-year-old figures a little bit to reach par (37) for this level.  The layoff is a bit of a concern, however.

KATIE'S COURT (#11) has never been this cheap in her career, and it's quite possible that she simply can't hang with 10K, or even 7.5K maiden claimers at this stage in her career.  As a filly trying the low level for the first time, she isn't the worst longshot to hang your hat on if you want to try and beat the chalks.

RUNNING HOME (#6) also will drop to this 5K group for the first time, but her recent form isn't as good as that of Katie's Court.  She has earned single-digit Beyers in three of her last four races at odds ranging from 18-1 to 101-1, and must improve.

CICADA SUNRISE (#12) adds Lasix for the first time, and that's another powerful angle in maiden races.  Jockey Vladimir Diaz had his choice of Cicada Sunrise and PEACEFUL PLEASURE (#2), and he bolted to the inside runner. 

ICALL SOFIA MYJULE (#7) may not have liked the sloppy conditions at Penn National on May 28, and has a hint of early speed.  She may try to press Mine in the early portion of the race, but her stamina is suspect.

Peaceful Pleasure (#2) attracted Diaz off Cicada Sunrise, and halves in price for her second start of the meet.  She wouldn't be a surprise in this weak field.

SPANISH BREEZE (#8) tired badly going two turns in her first start in almost six months, and should be tighter for this assignment.  She's a six-year-old maiden, though, and those types aren't usually appealing plays.

Elfies Dream (#10) lost Otero to Greshie Bay, and has yet to make an impact in six starts.

LADY BY FAR (#1) is 0-20, and she earned a -0 Beyer in her first start with blinkers.

This isn't much of a race, but I'll play it like this:

$50 Exacta:  Greshie Bay - Mine (3-9)
$50 Exacta:  Greshie Bay - Test Notes (3-5)

Good luck to all:


When is a filly not a filly?  When it's a male pseudohermaphrodite, that's when.  Check out Mr. Bergstein's article on the pacing "filly" Martha Maxine:



RE; Euro 1 mile times . Do they also use runups to begin timing or is it timed out of the gate ?

That's another good point about the slower times of European turf races.  I don't believe they use run-up times.  Couple that with the often-wet condition of the green, undulating courses, and the European style of concentrating on a strong finish after a slow early pace, and you have slower times.  Shuback's new book is a must-read.  Part travelogue, part history lesson, and part handicapping primer, it really gives the reader a sharp look at foreign racing.


What about Ghanaati. . . ???

Ghanaati, a three-year-old filly homebred from Shadwell Stables, has now won three in a row across the pond including the 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes, both at one mile.  Her next assignment could come against older mares in the Group 1 Abu Dhabi Falmouth Stakes at one mile at Newmarket.  A trip to the Breeders' Cup is questionable as she may be best suited in the mile turf race against males.


Talk to you soon,