08/20/2010 2:29PM

HandiGambling 199 (Jockey Challenge), Top Beyers

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Today's HandiGambling 199 exercise is the fifth race from Arlington, a $5,000 starter allowance at About 1 Mile on the turf.  This is the Jockey Challenge event at Arlington featuring riders from the past and present.

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. Please post your plays and analysis to the blog. Past performances are available on the previous blog post. In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please. I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries

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.

As of this writing, the turf is FIRM with the rail out at About 6 feet in Lane 2.

Let's scratch #5 LACER. 

For #7 SNAPPHOK, make the rider Otto Thorwarth. 

For #1A HEZA HARLEY MAN, make the rider Zoe Cadman.

I think that #4 SAINT LEON can take the field gate-to-wire under jockey Inez Karlsson.  A winner of five of his last six races (the lone defeat on turf), Saint Leon is stretching out following four sprint races and has enough early lick to establish himself on the front end. 

Can he get the distance? 

I believe he can as he won a $5,000 'N2L' claimer last year at 1 Mile and 70 Yards at Mountaineer. 

Can he turf? 

That's the rub.  There isn't a ton of grass on the bottom  half of this pedigree.  Still, the perceived pace advantage coupled with his current sharp form makes Saint Leon a dangerous contender in this spot. 

Like Saint Leon, #10 BOBBY SANDS is winless on grass.  He was just beaten a neck over this course and distance two starts back, however, and has enough tactical speed to be in close attendance to Saint Leon going into the first turn.  His hustling jockey, the aggressive Earlie Fires, figures to give Bobby Sands first crack at Saint Leon going into the final turn and Bobby Sands is fast enough to win this on his best day.

#8 MINING FOR SILVER, has won four times on grass, but the last time he prevailed in a turf race was on January 15, 2008 at Tampa Bay Downs.  He made up some ground last time out for high-percentage trainer Larry Rivelli and wheels back on short notice.  Mining for Silver has earned over a quarter of a million dollars in his career and the gray gelding has enough tactical speed to work out a midpack trip under James Graham.

#9 MOMENTARILY's best races have come on dirt and he will likely go off a big price here after a 33 3/4-length drubbing in a one-turn mile over polytrack.  He ran an even race two back over the synthetic surface and wasn't disgraced three back on good turf.  He's an interesting exotics play at a big price. 

#2 GIANT SHIFT seems to be in excellent form and wouldn't be a surprise at all for Jesus Castanon and Frank Kirby.  He just missed in his last two races on grass and will make the third start of the form cycle while drawing a ground-saving post position.  He seems like a one-run closer, however, and will need some pace and race luck in order to win this.  Still, he seems very logical.

#7 SNAPPHOK won the Chester House Stakes on turf at Arlington last year over soft going and may have been a sharp $5,000 claim on June 3 for trainer Janice Ely.  Snapphok ran well despite no pace help in his last two races.  With faster fractions up front, the Illinois-bred has a puncher's chance.

#3 SERENGETI TOUR has a tendency to be overeager in the early portion of his races and we can throw out the most recent performance over polytrack.  He just missed two back, finishing ahead of Giant Shift in the process.  His trainer, Doug Matthews, is having a wonderful year, but Serengeti Tour may need a Beyer boost to upend these. 

I'm not picking him, but I'm certainly rooting for FormBlogger Steve Taylor's #6 THAT I AM.  A solid winner going six furlongs over the polytrack last time out, That I Am is a multiple winner at route distances.  He may sit closer to the pace than usual on the stretchout in distance, but still must prove himself on the lawn (5-0-0-2 in turf races). 

#1 WAYOFF finished second in the Springfield Stakes going a one-turn mile over polytrack back in 2007 and he'll go out for the always-dangerous tandem of owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Nick Canani.  Wayoff makes the second start following the claim and has cracked the superfecta in his last six starts.  He is 0-12 on turf, however, and seems better suited to the main track.

#1A HEZA HARLEY MAN was a reported vet scratch on July 29.  He'll make his first start following the Calabrese claim, but has been beaten a combined 16 lengths in both career turf races.

I'll play it this way:

$50 Exacta - Saint Leon - Bobby Sands (4-10)
$50 Exacta - Saint Leon - Mining for Silver (4-8)

Best of luck to all.

***

Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (August 9 - August 15) :



Here are the lifetime past performances for the week's highest Beyer earner:

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