10/28/2009 3:27PM

HandiGambling 157 (Oak Tree)

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Today's HandiGambling 157 exercise is the seventh race at Oak Tree, a 'n1x' optional claimer for fillies and mares going one 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.

#7 Malibu Win is 1 lb. overweight. 

I don't have a strong opinion on this race, and fear that I won't be of much help.  Here goes nothing.

I landed on three contenders.

#3 Mohaka didn't have an easy trip on October 7 going nine furlongs on the Santa Anita lawn.  She was hung three wide every step of the way while chasing soft fractions, put away the two inside pace runners turning for home, and understandably tired in the lane.  She should appreciate turning back in class, and the removal of blinkers could help her relax a bit better in the early portion of the race.  She switches to Garrett Gomez, and may work out a nice stalking trip behind probable pacesetters Malibu Win and My Maloof Rocker

#6 Dextera successfully dropped into $50,000 claimers on October 2 over this course and distance with a victory over next-out winner Coatcheck Girl (took a $62,500 claimer as the even-money favorite on October 21 with an 85 Beyer).  She's in sharp form for Jim Cassidy, and should get enough pace to run at during the closing stages.  She does have to step up against older rivals, however.

#7 Malibu Win may be the fastest of the pace runners.  The lightly-raced filly only made her career debut during this summer's Del Mar meeting (she won that day over this distance at 33-1 odds), and she's shown good speed on her two starts against winners.  If apprentice rider Christian Santiago Reyes can get this filly to relax down the backstretch, she may have enough gas left in the tank to make some noise.

As for the others:

#1 Bombina is a European invader, and should be respected as such.  Trainer Kathy Walsh is a very underrated source of solid winners, and she has done extremely well with European imports over the last two years (two starters, two winners with an ROI over $11).  I don't think Bombina faced much overseas, however, and our friends at The Racing Post weren't very impressed with her last run.  Consider this comment:

"It would appear that Bombina needs everything to fall in her favour. She was travelling as well as the winner over 1f out but when Surprise Party edged right into her ground she was unable - or was perhaps reluctant - to commit again. The manner in which her head went back when she was placed under pressure was another negative."

Bruno De Julio, one of the leading clockers in the country, has been impressed by Bombina's recent workouts.  In his daily report for Today's Racing Digest, available on our home page, Bombina "went well here in 1:00 flat, looked good through the stretch, never was asked, and galloped out strong," for the October 17 workout, and "left the half for Walsh and came to the wire in 46.4.  Went to the mile pole in 59.2.  Looked good."

So, we have conflicting opinions on Bombina.  The winner of her last race returned to score again while the runner-up bombed and finished off-the-board in her subsequent start.  Let price be your guide.  She certainly can work out a trip from the rail under Victor Espinoza.

#2 My Maloof Rocker has five lifetime wins, and the rest of the field has seven combined.  She rode a soft pace in a gate-to-wire score last time out, but may have to deal with Malibu Win in the early portion of this race.  De Julio noted that she "went well early in 23.4.  Finished ok down the lane in 48.1.  Was ridden for the last part of the work."  She's in good form, and wouldn't be a surprise for hot barn.

#4 Andalacia scares me a bit in this competitive heat.  She was walked off the track at Del Mar, but returned to finish a rallying third going seven furlongs over the polytrack on September 30.  She can certainly improve in her second start back.  De Julio wrote that she "couldn't stand up on the DMR turf, but went OK here on the pro-ride and finished in 1:02 flat here after splits of 12.4, 37.3 and finished in 49.1 and 1:02 flat.  With Music Magic here."  Music Magic finished second in the Torrey Pines Stakes over the Del Mar polytrack on September 6 with an 82 Beyer.

#5 Fire n' Brimstone has been a bit of a tease.  She runs races fast enough to win this, but often settles for second or third.  Let's toss out the recent run on polytrack, and she only finished two behind Mohaka on September 5.  De Julio mentions the good workout on October 19.  "Worked well  and finished strongly late in 1:00.4 on our watch.  Finished final 1/4 in 24 flat."  A hot pace would help, but she may be best played on the bottom of exotic wagers.

It's a tough race, and one in which I don't have a clever opinion so I won't get cute.

$100 Win - Mohaka (#3)

Best of luck to all.

RoMo More than 1 year ago
"Some" have commented that Z-Queen's competition does not compare to the runners faced by Personal Ensign .. I guess that could be true..? But also "most" of the better runners just didn't want to face the Big Lady Z.. What are your thoughts ..?
Johnny Z More than 1 year ago
Haven't checked in on Formblog in a while but, Uncle Steve I like your thoughts concerning the Classic. Zenyatta is the one to beat and most the likely winner. She is in her back yard and will get a pace that favors her running style. Just a no-brainer for me. While the Euro's dominated last year, that was a whole different ball game IMO. Lauren Stich and I both agreed well before the race that Raven's Pass was the winner. While this years Euro's merit respect and show back class it is a whole new ball game. Yes Rip ran close to Sea The Stars but, he still is a novice on Pro-Ride and is making a lengthy trip. Secondly I am not convinced that STS is one of the all time greats. Matter of fact if one year ago he was entered in the same race with Zarkava, my money would have been on Zarkava. Back to the Classic, I also like Einstein. To add too your thoughts he is running of a semi/layoff which in past scenario's he is 3/3. This guy just has so much class and always shows up, knowing that he likes the surface and the 10F is no problem is a must use. For all the rest, Richard's Kid will have no problem with the distance or surface, I question his class when it comes to winning this one. Twice Over, is in the best form of his life. A typical Euro second thought that sometimes makes the glamour Euro look bad, can't count this one out. Summer Bird is a complete toss for me and, had that mindset before he shipped to Cali. Mine That Bird is a real question for me. Looks good running in his works but, as some trainers that I respect have said works don't equall pm races. I feel MTB is a way better horse than the public and the everyday bettor. His deal will be getting the pace and the good trip with his style to have a chance, which that could happen. Girolamo is one I consider live in this race. Yes, he has many questions to answer but, he is without doubt the most improving horse at this time. Just think IF he takes a quantum leap forward and the rest stay equal or regress? Anyway, no real bets here just some early thoughts. Good to read everyone's thoughts and Dan as always, you are just the best!
PGM More than 1 year ago
KatieattherailatHawthorneonSaturday, Thanks for the offer to attend to Hawthorne. However, I'll turn down the offer due to the difficulties and length of the public transport trip.
tonykelso More than 1 year ago
I want to acknowledge that the Handigambling races have really improved my day-to-day betting. I'm starting to either "get out" or "make a little money" on races when my key horse doesn't win. For you pedigree buffs, HIGH CHAPARRAL, with his first Southern Hemisphere crop, has sired the winner of the Cox Plate at 1 1/4 miles (So You Think) and the Victoria Derby at 1 9/16 miles (Monaco Consul). This is really big news, because it looks like the longer they go they better the High Chaparrals like it. I still have a picture of High Chaparral in my office, so I am really glad he's starting to have an impact on the breed.
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
I've started "phase one" of my BC handicapping which is simply to decide which horses are contenders, and I've decided to post them to give everyone a good laugh. (Keep in mind I use Bris numbers quite a bit, except for the Euros where they aren't available)-So far I'm thru a couple of races on Saturday but I'll try to keep 'em spread out-they're in Alpha order and I only commented on those I feel may be useable MARATHON- CLOUDY’S KNIGHT-really running well since coming back to the races after a year off-is prime top among the North Americans FATHER TIME-won only poly start and may turn the tables on Mastery with the surface change MAN OF IRON-actually may be a poly horse and that last race makes him a contender although it was just an allowance MASTERY-will be overbet and if this were a grass race would be close to unbeatable, but only artificial start was just o.k. MUHANNAK-hadn’t been running well since winning this race last year but did show enough improvement last for connections to change their minds and enter this race-could pay big again and getting lasix and bute back will help a lot. NITE LIGHT- prime 2nd, guess there’s a chance he could steal this if allowed to set slow fractions but not playable on top at 4/1? JUVENILE FILLIE TURF- ELUSIVE QUALITY-mediocre north American debut still put her prime 2nd and has had time to acclimate to new surroundings HOUSE OF GRACE-is 2 for 2, worried about low brisnet rating IN THE SLIPS-has won 2 in a row and may be “figuring it out”. Hasn’t kept the same type of competition as other Europeans JUNIA TEPZIA-has won both races in Italy-Valor private purchase has a chance to be something special LILLY LANGTREE-gonna be double tough to beat here if she runs back to August 6th race- ROSE CATHERINE-really took to the grass sprinting and may be even better going 2 turns-might be the USA’s top hope here TAPITSFLY-these are tougher but her only grass race makes her a possibility here Back with more races later after you get done laughing at these contenders!
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, As far as the dollar and what's going on in Washington, I feel if you're any kind of American and believe in our constitution, you shouldn't be bewildered, you should be outraged. Thanks for the chime in on what Mike Welsh and what I believe clockers say in general. I've been talking of it recently, but perhaps coming from you it will lend some creadence to what I said. I don't really know Bruno De Julio well, but that's my fault, I read what other folks say, but I have enough confidence that if I see a race as playable no ones opinion will sway me. I believe we all need to reach that point where we are confident in our abilities, While I listen to what folks say about a track I know nothing about, I will eventually find out for myself, it just is a comfort thing. Plus I never want to fall into the trap of blaming others for lack of effort on my part. The clockers provide a valuble service to some, I've learned to believe my own eyes, rather than to depend on anothers, especially when that person may just not like the horse in question. We would all like to be totally objective, but as humans experience tells me that is close to impossible. It is why I follow and look for a trainers "hook", the more proficient a trainer is the better the "hook", the better you will do. Finally I would hate to think of all the times I cashed a bet and a clocker or anyone else said my horse had no chance. It taught me to sink or swim on my own, it forces you to do your due diligence, it makes you a better handicapper, it puts you in your comfort zone. Mike A
vicstu More than 1 year ago
C, I saw this article in a British online newpaper and immediatly thought of you, because it echoes what you have said many times: "Breeder's Cup Classic Hype an insult to all racing fans" The author makes a case why all the hype from the claptrap does not make next Saturday's classic one of the greatest horse races ever, despite the massive PR machine: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/racing/article6895180.ece
vicstu More than 1 year ago
Steve T wrote: "Shiznik, I got the same disease - I like the horse and think he is ready to run, but I have to say I am in agreement with those that say that Borel may be the wrong jock on this track. After reading Calvin's comments, my first reaction was that it wasn't the horse that had a problem with the surface, it was the jockey." Bingo. Exactly what I was thinking. I was aware of Calvin's statements as well, and was going to post my own thoughts when Steve T pretty much summed them up above. BTW, Talamo seems to think MTB is getting over the track pretty easily. So, it's tit for tat. I do agree it's an adjustment and the horse has to run better than last out to factor in the Classic. I also agree with Steve T that Calvin is likely to give MTB his usual CD late run, and it will be too much to do at the end...that is if Borel refuses to adjust his ride to how the track is playing. Although it has played differently in the past few meets, OSA stake races are often decided by who gets first jump amongst the closers at the top of the stretch. Unless Zenyatta is in the race (LOL). Still, I cannot leave MTB off of exotics. I think the horse has the style to factor at this distance, especially given his works and his final furlong time in his last race (and his gallop out). Speaking of hardheaded Borel and how he will lope behind on MTB, don't some of you think that even an old dog like Borel may want to change his trick in the Classic if Zenyatta runs? Z wants to bring up the rear, she does it every race. Will their be an "out of the clouds" duel between Z and MTB? Who can fall furthest out of touch with the field (the opposite of a speed duel). To me it makes no sense to try and battle Z for last place early on. Borel needs to just lope back and stay in touch with the field. And get the jump on Z. But will Borel factor any of this into his ride? Now you know why I like the horse but struggle with where to put him and with his jockey outside of CD. Also, one more thing: Welsh's comments on workouts, etc. Sometimes he is dead on, but he is often wrong as well (looking for something the horse is not being asked to show). An example would be Musket Man, Mine that Bird and Papa Clem, the 3rd place (2nd without the bump from POTN), winner and 4th place finisher in the K Derby. Welsh particularly was down on Musket Man and Papa Clem before the Derby (said both were struggling over the Churchill surface and did not look comfortable). He also gave MTB no chance in the Derby (who did?) So, I would take anyone's opinion on how comfortable a horse is getting over the surface with cautious curiousity...
vicstu More than 1 year ago
C, You said let's put a lid on the economics and political talk...that this is not the place; But, you and I both know that the ONLY reasons that the BC was set for Cal and SA for 2 years were economical and political ones... The reason that all the tracks in California are synthetics is a political one, and I constantly read comments about that political decision at this blog (and, for the record, as has been pointed out by others, on the other blog they love to piss and moan about synthetics like it is the apocalypse of this game or something). I think your issue isn't with politcal issues or economics being discussed here, because you have expressed your views on these issues more than once or twice. Rather, I think it's the context they are being used in, and the chance that the discussion will eventually wander far from the reservation. That's fair enough. I do agree the discussions on the value of the dollar, economics and the political traitors in D.C. should be few and far between. But since many Euros will be running and affecting the betting pools worldwide in this year's BC, the discussion on where the dollar stands globally is hardly a fish out of water when you consider the foregoing... I guess you could count me in with Slew, Chicago Gerry and others who are passionate about the future of our dollar and this country...great comments, you guys. Its nice to know others feel as strongly. And clearly, the value of the dollar and unaccountable politicians should concern everyone at this Blog, since horseracing is what is known as a "closely regulated industry". These industries, more than any others, are profoundly affected by the actions of politicians and the economy. However, those general issues are overarching at best. With the BC looming, the more we can discuss on those races the better. And is it just me, or is Steve T really providing some helpful comments on the surface, the runners and other relevant matters? Also, I forget who posted the Borel on synthetics record (I believe from Keeneland), but good job! Eye opening stuff.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
BREEDERS’ CUP – MARATHON BLACK ASTOR – another of my Black Minnaloushes (Black Mamba, Dancing in Silks, Stream Cat, Joker’s Wild, She’s Cheeky), and yes he did steal one from the front (out by 10 lengths), but another two furlongs? Great works, 1:11/3 last out. I can’t see it, unless he hitches a ride at the top of the stretch. Much as I want to, the answer is no. CLOUDY’S KNIGHT – party time at the old folks home! Comes back at 9 and promptly wins both races, both graded stakes at 12F. He did win his last on the 22nd, so you are looking at a 15 day turn. He has run that kind of turn before with no effect. Has never run 14F, but he is still going forward at 12 so I don’t think it is and issue. Historically he runs best on the third off of the layoff, and this will be the third off of the layoff. Has won at the Grade 1 level in turf marathons. He is probably not a huge threat to win, but he sure could hit the board. ELDAAFER – has a couple of PolyTrack races, without success, he did win the Brooklyn Handicap back in June but was trounced by Awesome Gem in the Hawthorne Gold Cup on the 3rd. A weak entrant in a weak field, minor award at best. FATHER TIME – of course the 3 year old is named Father Time… has had his fair share of troubles with bad breaks, bumps, drifts (both right and left). Last was at 1 13/16 (got to love the Brits and their distances) that was won by fellow entrant Mastery. Not spectacular, but he has raced in 4 Group stakes, winning the King Edward VII at 12F by four lengths. Won his only race on synthetics in his debut. He is going in the right direction, has the class and has run the distance, maybe. GANGBUSTER – seems to be a synthetic marathon specialist, winning at 1 5/8 at Keeneland (by 10 lengths) and finishing a distant 2nd at 1 ¾ at Arlington. Came west and finished 2 back in the Cougar II. No runs on ProRide although Langfuhr has gotten some good ProRider runners. Was crushed in all three graded stakes tries. Just not enough class here, and has not won since the Keeneland race. Pass MAN OF IRON – no matter where in the world these Better Than Honour’s are, they seem to be pulled back to the U.S.. Man of Iron is the 4th of the Better Than Honours to race at a high level – previous versions include Jazil, Rags to Riches, and Casino Drive. He certainly seems to prefer PolyTrack over grass, and is 2 for 3 on the synthetic track at Dundalk. His loss on Poly was to Mastercraftsman, he finished 4th about 7 lengths back. Just hit his first triple digit RPR in his last. Is definitely on the improve, but still a cut below. He could get hit the bottom of the board. MASTERY – is the prohibitive favorite in this race, and with a win in his last at 1 13/16 with an RPR of 119, deserves it. Don’t really know how he will take to the surface, not many Sulamani foals go West. His one trip on Poly at Kempton was a nice 9F race where he finished a closing 4th less than ½ from the front. They are going to be hard pressed to beat him at this distance. Yes. MUHANNAK – won the inaugural running of this race last year. That’s the good news. The bad news is everything he has done since… He has run seven times since the BC and his best finish was 5th. There is nothing to say he is anything but off form. No. NITE LIGHT – comes into this race off of a win in the G-3 TP Fall Championship and a second in the G-2 Hawthorne Gold Cup behind Awesome Gem. Has won at 1 5/8 (by 10 lengths), was 2nd at 2 miles, so distance is probably not an issue here. He is doing it from the front too, not an easy thing to do at those kind of distances. Thunder Gulch runners have a pretty good track record on ProRide, and the Poly win was one of her best, so surface issues will probably be minimal. Very likable alternative to Mastery. He really strikes me as hard to beat on synthetics. Contendor. ON FIRE – he just ran the other day (21st) and was up the track in an OC-80 12F race. So you turn him quickly to run in the Breeders’ Cup at 14 furlongs?? Has never run in a graded stakes, his career Beyer is 91 (in January). He is 5-0-2-2 on synthetics. Very consistent runner, in 15 races her BSF has been between 80 and 88. That isn’t even enough to get you in trouble here. Pass. SIR DAVE – has been all over the board, running 7th in the 12F Cougar II, and then missing by a nose in the 13F G-2 Del Mar Handicap. In his last he didn’t run a step against Presious Passion. He does have that on-off cycle thing going and this would be his on cycle. Only run on synthetic was at Del Mar and he was up the track. Marginal at best speed wise, inconsistent, and a poor run on synthetics means that any bet is accompanied by a mental health professional.