12/04/2009 3:24PM

HandiGambling 162 (Delta Jackpot)

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This week's HandiGambling 162 exercise is the ninth race from Delta Downs, the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles 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.

I don't have a strong opinion on this race as most of the juveniles have yet to distinguish themselves from the pack.  I landed on four main contenders.

#3 - Rule looks obvious after breaking the Delta track record in his first start around two turns, but I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that he's a legitimate stakes horse.  He wasn't very impressive in his first few races in New York, and figures to face some more pace pressure in this spot. 
On the positive side, you have Pletcher and Velazquez in this corner, and it's possible that he just wants to go long (his dam is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide).  He'll be forwardly-placed, and probably doesn't have to be the next Derby winner to take this big pot down.

#8 - Oak Motte finished nine lengths behind Rule in the Jean Lafitte Futurity, but he didn't break especially well that evening, and the addition of blinkers may help him focus better on the task at hand.  Trainer Tom Amoss excels when giving a runner blinkers for the first time (15-52, 29% over the last three years). 
By speed influence Valid Expectations, one has to wonder if Oak Motte is more of a closing sprinter than a route horse, but a fast pace would likely enhance his chances.

#7 - My Time to Star may be the X-factor as the undefeated colt stretches out after winning the Sun Power Stakes for Illinois-breds at six furlongs.  He enjoyed a pretty good trip at Hawthorne last time as he never strayed off the rail, and it will be interesting to see how far this son of the quick Cape Canaveral wants to go (the dam, by longwinded Northern Spur, did win twice at nine furlongs). 

I'm not sure if I'm willing to believe #2 - Uh Oh Bango's triple-digit Beyer at Prairie Meadows as it's out of whack with his other three races.  This will be his first start around two turns, and the horse that beat him in the Iroquois, Thiskyhasnolimit, came back to bomb in the Kentucky Jockey Club.  He may work out a nice trip while saving ground, and wouldn't be a total shock for high-percentatge Southwest connections.

As for the rest:

# 1 - Gallant Gent was only beaten 2 1/4 lengths by top 2-year-old Lookin At Lucky in the Grade 1 Norfolk over Pro-Ride, and he showed his affinity for a tight dirt track by winning the Afflebaugh at Fairplex in September.  He goes turf to dirt after chasing tepid fractions in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, and may get the proper pace setup while saving valuable ground.  The only negative may be the price.  He's listed at 2-1 on the morning line, and may not be worth those odds.  At a longer price, he looks more playable. 

# 2 - Grand Slam Andre was no match for Rule when just heading Oak Motte in the Jean Lafitte, and his best game may be sprinting at this point in his career.  He hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the finish in his three races contested past six furlongs.

# 5 - Litigation Risk looked good winning his maiden at Belmont, and has the speed to be forwardly-placed under Javier Castellano.  Two of the three horses that returned from the October 25 race graduated, but the combination of first-time winners and first-time two turns may prove too much of a daunting task. 

# 6 - Bench the Judge has to turn the tables on the three rivals that finished in front of him in the Jean Lafitte.

I don't like the race nor Rule's price, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he can win another.  I'll play it this way:

$40 Exacta:  Rule - Oak Motte (3-8)
$40 Exacta:  Rule - My Time to Star (3-7)
$20 Exacta:  Rule - Uh Oh Bango (3-2)

Best of luck to all:

Back tomorrow with some weekend stakes thoughts and other questions.

Take care,

Dan