08/20/2009 11:30AM

HandiGambling 147


Today's HandiGambling 147 exercise is the ninth race from Saratoga, the 104th running of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special for 2-year-olds going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

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.

We're fast and firm at the racing paradise called Saratoga, and today's Special is a competitive event featuring several well-matched babies.  Let's scratch #2 CHINA.

It's an eight horse field.  I think seven can win.  That's why when someone asked me the other day how I'd rate myself as a handicapper, I replied, "I'm a heckuva nice guy."

The Saratoga Special is essentially a non-winners of two race with the exception of #9 FEARLESS COWBOY, who has won twice over the polytrack surface at Woodbine. I've been impressed with the tenacity Fearless Cowboy has displayed in his Canadian races, and he was purchased privately after an ultra-game score in the Colin Stakes on July 18.  That afternoon, he pressed the pace, made the front, and doggedly fought off a stretch-long rally from the favored runnerup.  Even during the gallop-out, Fearless Cowboy refused to be passed.  There looks to be a good pace in here, and Fearless Cowboy may work out a good stalking journey while racing in the clear.  The $150,000 question is whether he will appreciate the dirt.  If he was a short-priced unknown, he would be virtually unbettable, but if he is dismissed at close to this 8-1 morning line odds, he's worth a gamble.

#6 D' FUNNYBONE was also privately purchased after his most recent start, a runner-up effort in a stakes race at Calder.  He's now with Richard Dutrow Jr., and looks to have more early zip than Fearless Cowboy.  The problem is whether he'll be able to relax in the opening stages with #7 ACTIVITY REPORT and #8 TINY WOODS likely to be forwardly placed as well.  He's hard to toss off two good performances in South Florida.

#3 ZIP QUIK adds Lasix for the first time, and has the stalking ability that may prove beneficial in this heat.  A New York-bred based in Southern California for Pat Biancone, Zip Quik, like Fearless Cowboy, must prove that he can run on dirt, but shouldn't be ignored as the race may set up for him.

#4 FLATTER THAN ME seemed like a tired runner at the end of the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs as he was run over by the undefeated Backtalk in the final strides.  The additional distance is a bit of a question mark, and Flatter Than Me missed some time earlier in the month with an illness.  He blitzed five furlongs in 58 and change the other morning, but make sure you demand a price on this one.  His only win came in gate-to-wire fashion over "good" going, and he may not make the front here.

#5 INSIGHTFUL is taking a big step up in class following an upset maiden score, but he's the only horse in the field with a seven furlong race on paper so today's distance shouldn't be a question mark.  He chased some legitimate fractions last time out so might be able to handle stalking quick splits here.

#1 THISKYHASNOLIMIT was reported to be a runner from the moment he started serious training with Steve Asmussen, and he had the misfortune to run into Backtalk in his well-backed career debut.  He ran well in that race, came back to drill maidens by seven, and may try to grab a forward position from a difficult inside post.  This horse wouldn't be a surprise at all.

Tiny Woods showed good early speed going gate-to-wire over Del Mar's polytrack, and Mr. Baffert is showing a lot of faith in sending this inexperienced baby all the way across the country for this race.  He seemed to be weakening in the final furlong of his debut, and will have to stretch his speed another furlong.
Activity Report got cooked in the Sanford, and needs a great deal of improvement to upset these. 

I'm not going to get too creative.

$50 Win-Place #9 Fearless Cowboy

Best of luck to all.

I'm swamped with Spa Babies reports so will get to your questions, comments, and requests in the next few days.

Enjoy the racing.