10/07/2009 4:45PM

HandiGambling 154 (Oak Tree)


Today's HandiGambling 154 exercise is the seventh race from Oak Tree at Santa Anita, a 'n2x' optional claimer for three-year-olds and up going a flat mile on the turf.

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 Man to Man and #9 Sartorial.  There is a rider switch on #1 Pleasure to Ride to Alex Solis.  #7 Ridge Dance is listed as a first-time gelding.

I narrowed this race down to two main contenders, and will side with the longer-priced runner.

#1 Pleasure to Ride showed a strong turn of foot to win an entry-level optional claimer at this distance at Del Mar in his most recent appearance.  Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Pleasure to Ride had previously finished close to solid turf performers Massone and Gretsky, and newfound rating tactics seemed to cure him of his second-itis.  He was aided by a strong pace at Del Mar, but there should be solid fractions for him to rally into this afternoon, and it's not like he has to be well off the leaders.  He seems sharp, and has been given some time to recover from his most recent start.  With #2 Black Bear Island likely, and deservedly, taking all of the money, Pleasure to Ride should offer decent enough odds in the Win pool.

#2 Black Bear Island is certainly the horse to beat based on his company lines, and he was just nosed out by the good turf runner Take the Points in the Grade 1 Secretariat for his North American debut.  I think the turnback to a stiff mile will hit the Sadler's Wells colt right between the eyes, and he's the horse to watch when the field turns for home.  If he runs to his paper form, the Group 2 winner is likely headed to the winner's circle. 

As for the rest:

#3 Don Pedro Mendoza was sold by Coolmore for 65,000 guineas at the Tattersalls sale on October 29, 2007 after finishing fifth in an allowance race over polytrack.  Unfortunately, this will be his first start for his new connections, and you have to assume that he's been battling physical problems for the last two years.  He's a half-brother to Oaklawn Handicap (Grade 1) winner Atticus, and showed some speed in his native Ireland, but it's likely he'll need this run.

#5 Mr. Rod showed a lot of promise as a juvenile, but he was sidelined by a foot abscess and a leg chip after winning the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at this distance.  You can forgive his most recent start, a five-furlong turf sprint in his first race following the injury-induced layoff, and Mr. Rod seems like the most likely pacesetter in this spot.  The winner of that August 14 optional claimer, Dancing in Silks, returned to win a pair of statebred stakes races on synthetics including the California Cup Sprint with a 106 Beyer Speed Figure.  The third-finisher, A Lil Dumaani, came back to take a five-furlong turf sprint at this class level with a 93.  Bruno De Julio, the crack workout analyst for Today's Racing Digest (available at http://www.drf.com/data/handicapping/trdigest.html), reports that Mr. Rod is a "good workhorse that showed his turn of foot here and finished well" for the October 1 workout (Bruno caught Mr. Rod in a minute flat while the offical time of the drill is 59.60).  I'm expecting this colt to improve today.

#6 Great Siege didn't impress me when lugging in during his 'n1x' win at Hollywood, and has only raced twice since that November 9, 2008 event.  He returns off a short layoff for David Hofmans, seems at his best when pressing the pace, and may have to work too hard chasing Mr. Rod going into the first turn and down the backstretch.  Bruno notes that he is "carrying good size and weight.  Went OK and was not asked for best" for the October 1 workout clocked in 1:02 flat (official time 1:02.40).  Great Siege seems fond of this course, but the $300,000 yearling buy may be in a bit steep.

#7 Ridge Dance is listed as a first-time gelding for Neil Drysdale, and he was only beaten a length for all the marbles in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes.  That race was two years ago, however, and Ridge Dance hasn't raced since the Del Mar meet...of 2008.  Bruno mentions that Ridge Dance "worked in a threeset for Drysdale and was set as the pacemaker in front of Gotich Samurai and Artiste Royal, both very good horses.  Finished third best but was miscast" for the September 30 workout (clocked in 1:31 flat, official time 1:31.20).  The long layoff is a major concern.

#8 Tangled Tango seems to be rounding into his best form for John Sadler, and he'll make the third start of the form cycle with improving Beyers on display.  He ran some good races on turf at Del Mar last summer, and Rafael Bejarano may have him in a comfortable outside stalking spot for the backstretch run.  He's certainly not impossible, but he caught a tough group.

I'll play it this way:

$50 Win - Pleasure to Ride (1)
$25 Exacta Box - Pleasure to Ride - Black Bear Island (1,2)

Best of luck to all.


Be back next time with questions, comments, and more.

Take care,


Shiznik More than 1 year ago
If you haven't already made up your mind on the Classic then you obviously don't know Dick! Yeah, well the Kid's dad has been a friend of mine for some time and his friends call him that. Anyway, I think it will be a real close race. I will even call the exacta ice cold...Dick heads Wrinkle...I mean Winkle.
joseph More than 1 year ago
I was at Gulfstream last Feb. and had the chance to see Presious Passion run in a G2 Marathon on the Firm Turf. PP and Finalymadeit opened up 15 lengths on the field going the 1st 8 mile in 1:36 and change. Turing for home, the lead started to shrink and I was ready to rip up my win ticket. The brave gelding dug in and battled back on the rail to win the race. Another race that gave me goosebumps was the United Nations @ Monmouth this year. He opened up 20 on the field rattling off fractions :45 / 1:09 / 1:34 and won easy @ 1 3/8. If you haven't had a chance to see the United Nation, check it out. I laid off him in the Arlington Million because of the soft turf and was pleased when his connections chose to bring him out to SA for some firm going. I'm hoping to get a better price on him come BC time (if he runs) because of all the classy euro invaders. If anything, you know you'll get your money worth watching him open up and praying he hangs on for the win.
Mike A More than 1 year ago
TonyKelso, I wasn't to concerned with the stretch out for Negligee, she seemed to run like a horse who would go on with it, at least for a 1 1/16m. Zilva ran the best race and bears watching, especially if they decide to run in the BC, which is a big if. Funny thing about G. (Rusty) Arnold, am I'm sure Dan would agree, he's one of the most underrated trainers out there. Back in the day he had a signiture style where he'd bring a horse back from a layoff at 7f and win. Not any other distance, just at 7f. Every year I could count on him to put at least 2 over that way, especially on the cut back from a distance. After I read your post and went back to look at the chart of the race you mentioned I saw that the horse that won was coming off a layoff since Gulfstream, like I said...signiture. Trainers like Rusty Arnold ARE MY BREAD AND BUTTER, they have the skill and horsemanship to consistently put horses over in certain situations, it's just going over their way of doing things that takes alot of work, but it can be very rewarding. Like I always say, there are stats within the stats if you look. Mike A
Ray GOrdon More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the props. This wasclassi price/pool exploitation, the public making one key mistake. The race proved my motto that "once they leave the gate, they're DICE." Net week's race is going to be fun. It's the finale at PENN NATIONAL on Wednesday, October 14, 2009, a $5,000.00 maiden-claiming event for three year-olds and upward. Welcome to MY world. MUAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!
Mike A More than 1 year ago
TonyKelso, Like the name. sometime when you've got time I tell you how I met your namesake when I was ten and he tried to bite my head off. Well, I was told he was just playing, but I lost a good baseball hat in the process, some hair too if I remember correctly. The thing about She Be Wild, and I know she ran a full second faster than the colts, is this, Who'd she beat. Now I happen to like Screen Legend as part of the exacta, and she ran third to her last out, but I believe Screen Legend is better meant for 2 turns and a faster track. AP was playing awfully slow that day. So anyway to get back, She Be Wild hasn't really beaten anyone of substance ever since she broke her maiden, no one and I mean no one has come back to do much of anything, even when dropped in class. Now I'm going to say somthing that will make some folks mad, but for me, and what I see, the competition at AP was a bit below par this year. OK, there I said it. I truly believe Negligee and Amen Hallelujah are better atheletes, and you know I think, in this race anyway, Screen Legend is better. Crazy? ah....maybe, but I understand your point, heck everyone is picking She Be Wild. Now I could be wrong, she may actually be a better horse around two turns, but my gut tells me no. I believe Beautician lays over this field, but there are many question marks for her. She goes against all my betting principles, never been the distance, never on the lint, new track, no works over the track, so I have nothing to go on but the impressions she gave me when I saw her run. Much as you do for She Be Wild. As it stands right now, I'm going to key Beautician 1-2 with the three I mentioned, Negligee, Amen Hallelujah and Screen Legend. However I'll take some lesser bets with Amen Hallelujah as the key in case Beautician runs like my ex's hairdresser. Thanks for your opinion, I like to hear what folks think. Good luck, if you win, when it comes to the AP horses, I'll listen more intently. Mike A
Annie More than 1 year ago
Katieattherail, Where are you, anyway? As tencentcielo described, Lovely Catherine decided to run her own little race. A mind of her own, I guess. :) Kind of like you and Cathy? Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, Well thank you, but now we'll have to miss you. Have fun on your trip and be sure to watch the replay of the Goodwood. CC is running, you know. He's been working great at SA, so we'll see. Yet again, another jockey. Sigh LOL, yes Sandee and I will try to get the boys to play nice while you're gone. Check in with us when you can. I, sadly, will spend the weekend not talking, whispering, laughing out loud, playing the horses or eating. Not really much left is there? :) I will just have to watch the races and start preparing for the BC. Won't be long now. Annie
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Mathieu, great story! That sounds familiar, about Alex. I was playing NoCal back then, exclusively, I can't remember if we got the SoCal races at that stage, probably. In any case, I apologize about my inference as to his abilities. Did he make the HOF? MikeA, I had a good visual impression of PTP's journey, also. Some great racing this weekend. Keenland has been a thorn in my side since they switched to synthetic, but I will try again this year, because some of the races are simply too attractive to pass up. I hope formbloggers can provide a good variety of picks during the meeting (I need all the help I can get) -smile Break a leg, everyone. Speaking of the good old days, btw, but I notice kids don't play outside like they did when I was growing up ('64). It's a ghost town out there, man. Go back 30 years in the same neighborhood and the sidewalks were bustling with children at play. In fact, the whole purpose, or reason for being, was to get outside and away from the restrictions of home ("chores"). We had pick-up football games after school and on the weekend during the season, full teams of relatively in-shape kids. I was the "freddie b" in my neighborhood. And living up to that standard, in every sport, consumed my thoughts. While I wonder what it might have been like to be exposed to the kind of technology that kids are today, I also wonder the cost of missing out on an "outdoor" life? Thoughts from the gooey center.....
Annie More than 1 year ago
I guess I don't feel too bad about having to stay home tomorrow. It's gonna SNOW. Yes, snow. With a high of 39 degrees. But, never fear, it's supposed to get back up to 60 by the end of next week. Good luck all with your bets this weekend. Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
Mike A, LOL, I never owned an 18 hour bra either, but I would imagine it would be best not to be too close when the 18 hours is up. You could get injured. :) Annie