08/05/2009 3:22PM

HandiGambling 145


Today's HandiGambling 145 exercise is the eighth race at Del Mar, 57th Running of The Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on the polytrack racing surface.

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.

Let's scratch #4 - Mr. Big

Since I was going to send it in on Mr. Big, I had to drastically change my outlook on this race.  I focused on four main contenders:

#8 - Gangbuster beat three next-out winners when a facile winner of the Fort Harrod Stakes over Keeneland's polytrack surface, and he chased a loose-on-the-lead Rumor Has It when recently second in the Polar Expedition Stakes at Arlington on June 27.  Rumor Has It flattered the race by winning the Rossi Gold Stakes on turf over the weekend.  Gangbuster is a true stayer, and has had some time to acclimate to the Southern California surroundings.  I'm thinking a new face may spruce up this rather stale division of veterans out at Del Mar, and Gangbuster may fit the bill.

#9  - Unusual Suspect is one of Steve T.'s flying Unusual Heat's, and while he's a question mark at this distance, he looks like an intriguing longshot.  Versatile enough to win the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express going six furlongs on the grass, the Bay Meadows Derby at nine furlongs on the lawn, and the Silveyville Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Tapeta, Unusual Suspect was an even fourth behind Ball Four and Rail Trip to kick off his form cycle in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.  Last time out, he had to weave his way through traffic during the stretch run of the California Dreamin Handicap on grass.  Barry Abrams does well wheeling his runners back on short notice, and Unusual Suspect is usable in the exotics.

#6 - Church Service is one of the gatekeepers of the division.  He can be forgiven his poor performance in the San Juan Capistrano as he reportedly suffered from dehydration, and had to be walked off the course.  Last time out, in the Gallant Man Stakes at 13 furlongs, he ran on despite being a bit late to change leads.  He'll need some pace help, but is extremely consistent, and wouldn't be a surprise.

#10 - Sir Dave hasn't been out since late May, and trainer Jack Carava doesn't have very good stats with similar layoff types, but this gelding finished ahead of two next-out winners when second to the classy Spring House in the Golden Gate Field Turf.  A lightly-raced runner, it's possible we haven't seen his best just yet.  A lack of prior synthetic experience is somewhat concerning.

As for the others:

#1 - Ghetto just went gate-to-wire when in for a $50,000 tag at ten furlongs, and may be the main speed breaking from the rail.  He'll get tested for class here.

#2 - Zappa is the defending champion, but he's 1 for 11 since last year's Cougar II, and probably won't get the easy lead he parlaayed to victory in the 2008 running.

#3 - Big Booster bombed in the Hollywood Gold Cup against much better, but he's eight now, and needs lots of pace help up front.

#5 - Quarter Moon can press the fractions if Martin Garcia is aggressive coming out of the gate, but he was life and death at 22-1 to beat $40,000 optional claimers last time out.

#7 - Richard's Kid was probably placed in over his head in the Grade 1 Eddie Read for his first start with Baffert, and is capable of better in his second start of the form cycle.  I'm concerned that he may blow up my tickets with a good performance.

Here's how I'm going to donate my money:

$25 Win - Gangbuster (#8)
$3 Trifecta Box - Church Service, Gangbuster, Unusual Suspect, Sir Dave (#6, #8, #9, #10)

$3 for a large Diet Pepsi

Best of luck to all.


Back with questions and comments next time.

Take care,


SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
C Re: Raquel Welch..."Jugs" Isn't that from the Movie in the 1970's era.. "Mother, Jugs and Speed" It was her nickname, right? I remember it was hysterical !! SR Vegas
bobc More than 1 year ago
TurfRuler: With my eyesight the way it is right now, I'm not sure I could even see the horse, let alone look it in the mouth. Big slew smile. I thank you for your advice. P.S. I did notice how you were all over the winner in HG 145. Sr Vegas Your kind words made me BLUSH. Not an easy thing to do to an antique like myself. Annie I know you and others have encountered a few bumps along the way on this blog. But I firmly believe that although the boundaries of civility may have at rare times been tested they have never been broken. You certainly showed great aplomb, grace and intelligence in dealing with your bumps. Van Savant Thanks for the advice and kudos on your recent handicapping. Nice thought about giving the prize away but if I'm declared the winner, I will keep the prize and enjoy using the Formulator PP. I may not be the brightest bulb on the block but my mind is not totally gone, although more and more frequently I wonder where I left it. Big Smile. P.S. I whole heartedly agree with you about Ray Flack being a class act. And YESSSSS this is a GREAT place. bobc
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Slew, Never worry what someone else thinks of your picks. Except for this blog I never tell anyone who I like. I neither influence or detract from someone elses selections. I may listen to what folks have to say, but as I said I have my criteria. The only person I looked to for advice was my uncle. He had a proven track record, his critique was welcomed. Do you think because you've never written a book that you aren't as learned about the horses as someone who has? I respect folks who write, it's something I'd love to do, but I take everything from where it comes. I told my uncle once, after he chastised me for reading a handicapping book, that he should write one. He looked at me winked and said " KId, I ain't that smart". Mike A
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
C... Yes I did bet my girl in the other races and lost, and lost big!!! Hit a nice 2/9 Double at Saratoga that paid big that helped the cause. The 9 almost jumped the fence with 100 yards to go and then bolted for some fried dough. Who do you like today? You got your double carryover at Saratoga. Back to the form. LOL to all today. AP,Spa. Bing Crosby running 6??? Sad. OUT
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Slew, Everyone learns different lessons at the track, but one thing my uncle alwyas impressed upon me is while the horses do the winning and losing, we are more adept at beating ourselves. We hedge, we over emphasize minute points, we bet scared. Which is why he couldn't tell me enough to keep it simple. He also realized that you have to build confidence in your ability, but in doing so could fall into the trap of being arrogant. So to keep me grounded he told me to make rules, criteria I had to have in place to consider a given horse in any race. He made me see where my strengths were and worked on honing those skills. The hardest part is confidence in your selections and understanding that you will lose, but by following your criteria your losses will be minimisized. My uncle had nerves of steel, after a particularly hard loss, a 30-1 shot that lost by a nose, he looked over his glasses, the form nestled neatly in his lap at the stretch run. The horse he bet was closing furiously, he followed it's progress only to see him lose by a nose. He looked back at the form and said, without ever looking at me, " that was a pretty horse race". I've learned to accept wins and losses the same way. You lose with dignity, you win the same way. He knew he was good and his next winner could only be a race away. My uncle had many friends at the track, but few of them were in the grandstand, the place he preferred to be. The only folks who said hello to my uncle as we walked around were the pinkertons and the tellers and that was a testament in itself. I didn't read the book of which you speak. I'm glad there's one out there though. I could spend a year teaching someone all the nunaces of the sport, but without knowing a persons makeup, it's no more than learning your lessons in high school. My uncle didn't just teach me about horses, he also taught me "horse sense". Finding out who you were as a person had as much to do with winning as what the horses were doing. When I was 17 he let me go to the track with him, the big time, but I wasn't allowed to bet, not old enough he said. He let me "play" handicap, lots of "fun". After a few races and watching 2 horses I like win, I asked him why he just couldn't make the bets for me. He looked at me and said; "I could, but your not ready" then pointing to my head he said " You haven't learned to beat this yet". He was right of course, but I learned. Mike A
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
bobc; Clearly you are a class-act, but keep the PP's for goodness-sakes...if not, then ship them to the other resident-class-act..Ray Flack. He has been my idol going back to his days when he was covering Centennial Race Track in the Denver area (1970's). What a place this is, no? I'll be out-of-pocket beginning tomorrow with a fantastic brew of family activities. I'll miss everything on Saturday, but will hopefully manage to handicap the Saratoga Card for Sunday. I have a few spot plays, especially the 7th race. I'll try to post them. Annie; That whole Raquel Welch thing has kind of sent me into a crazy-spin... Damn girl...why-ya-haf-ta-go-n-do-dat-to-me??? Yeesh! Alan; Remember one thing...you are the man...keep doing what you do best... Good luck to everyone this weekend, have fun, and please be safe out there!!!
p ensign More than 1 year ago
"Carryover for today is $42,548. Who do you like today?" I like a double carryover for tomorrow....
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Slew, As you say discipline is a learnable trait. When applied to racing it takes time to see what works and where the realities are. I believe Horse racing is one of the few things in life that no one fact is ever total truth. As I've said before, nothings 100% certain, even in a walkover a horse could stumble and throw the jock. It's never happened to my knowledge, but the reality that it could is still there. So discipline in handicapping comes down to a few essentials. First and formost, as evidenced by the results of the Cougar II, when a trainer has a pattern, a pattern that he's showed adeptness at it's been my experience that it means more than the horses themselves. It will transcend the hores, their breeding, their class, etc. It's very important to learn the trainers way of preparing his horses. It's there if you look and write down what you observe. Second, I know in this age of computers, TVG, simulcasting it's different then when I grew up, but I still never place a serious wager on a horse unless I'm at the track. That may come more from learning on the backstretch and knowing what to look for in a horses appearence and way of moving. We're talking about discipline though and that's part of it. If your good at betting without doing it, by all means continue. Thirdly, ego...doesn't belong, being confident is one thing, thinking your God's gift to handicapping is another. No matter how good you may be, the reality of losing streaks hits us all, better to be humble than arrogant. Fourth, and this was one my uncle couldn't tell me enough, keep it simple. My way of keeping it simple was to only play NYRA tracks, the trainers I patterned, the horses I knew, the tracks themselves. Except for Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct were 40 minute rides from my house, I'd get there early to watch workouts, what the track super was doing to the track with all observations written in a little book. Like anything in life the more you put in the more you extract. So for me discipline just comes down to what you wish to put in, how committed you are and what realities you wish to see and admit to. Because as we all know reality is in the eye of the beholder. I will always admit a mistake, but we also must realize what is a mistake today, is truth tomorrow. Learn what works for you, listen to advice, but how it pertains to you. What anyone suggests is good to listen too, but you have to apply it to your way of thinking. When I got older and my uncle was almost at the end of his life, we went to the track one last time. It was at the Meadowlands. Seattle Slew was running. I of course liked Slew, but he didn't. I tried to talk him off betting against him. He just looked at me and said " Kid, what you eat don't make me fat, ain't you learned nothin"? Slew lost, my uncles horse won and he didn't say another word. Discipline.....I hope I've learned it myself. Mike A
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
All... Yesterday at Arlington Park!!!!!!! Race 1 = Winner $4.00 Race 2 = Winner $10.40 Race 3 = Winner $4.40 Race 4 = Winner $4.40 Race 5 = Winner $5.40 Race 6 = Winner $7.60 Race 7 = Winner $7.40 Race 8 = Winner $7.20 =$50.80 / 8 Races = Average win ticket of $6.35!!!! You boys out at Arlington Park better shake thing's up. I am still coughing from all of this chalk!!!!! Change it up. Thank You
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
All... Some early action at the Spa. Race #1 #6 Mindbender $200 WP $10 Pick 3 5,6,10 / 5 / 2,7,8 = $90 Race #4 #2 Loxy Lady $200 WP LOL today to all.