08/12/2009 12:29PM

HandiGambling 146


Today's HandiGambling 146 exercise is the ninth race at Saratoga, the 7th running of the New York Stallion Cab Calloway Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for three-year-olds..

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.

So far, we're fast and firm at the Spa, but we all know that can change in the blink of an eye.  Hopefully, there will be no changes.

I like #6 MINNIE PUNT.  A former $35,000 maiden claimer, Minnie Punt pulled off a 28-1 shocker in a New York Stallion event going seven furlongs over the Belmont sod, but he looked pretty good that day, getting bumped around in between horses turning for home, and still charging through with gusto.  He finished ahead of UNCLE T SEVEN that day, and was flattered when the fourth- and sixth-place finishers both returned to win.  Last time out, he may have been a bit too close to the pace when trying older horses over yielding ground.  With THE PLOT THICKENS and PUREGOODNISS expected to dictate the pace, Minnie Punt and jockey John Velazquez might work out a good stalk-and-pounce trip while racing in the clear.  He shows a pair of quick workouts since her last start.

#1 SCIENTIST also projects for a decent trip.  He goes second off the layoff, and should track the pace while saving valuable ground throughout.  A lightly-raced colt, Scientist is coming into this race off back-to-back career-best Beyers, and may have another forward move in the tank.  He won his maiden over this course last year.

#2 The Plot Thickens has good early speed, but the stamina has been lacking in his last few starts.  He cruised on an uncontested lead last time out at Belmont, but was still run down in the shadow of the wire.  Puregoodniss also has speed, and that may work against The Plot Thickens when it's time to hunker down, and hold off the closers.

#3 Puregoodniss has yet to win on grass, but may be a bit quicker out of the gate than The Plot Thickens, and could get brave if that one lets him alone on the front end.  By sprint sire Good and Tough, he must prove that he can last this route distance.

#4 STORM HOPE steps up off a maiden score for the red-hot Barclay Tagg, but he was 3-5 that day stalking a moderate pace.  These are tougher, and he may have to come from a few more lengths back here.

#5 UNCLE T SEVEN is a legitimate threat as he's kept good New York-bred company throughout the year.  He's never won on grass, but has acquitted himself quite nicely on the surface, and would appreciate a hectic duel on the front end.  Expect Julien Leparoux to have this one rolling in the lane.

#7 KATSKILL BAY may be a bit more effective on the main track, and he didn't do much in his most recent start against statebred foes at Belmont.

#8 LIVIN LARGE steps up off a maiden win for a crafty trainer, and I like that he's wheeling back on short notice.  He's really come to hand since being switched to the turf, and isn't the worst longshot in the world.

Here's how I'll play the race:

$50 Exacta:  Minnie Punt - Scientist (6-1)
$50 Exacta:  Minnie Punt - The Plot Thickens (6-2)

Best of luck to all.


Swamped with Saratoga stuff so will get to comments, questions, and more next time.

Take care,