08/27/2010 11:41AM

HandiGambling 200 (The Travers)


This week's HandiGambling 200 exercise is Saturday's Travers Stakes from Saratoga, a Grade 1 for three-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on dirt. 


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.  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.

I'm doing this early so we don't have any scratches or changes to report.

Earlier in the week, Kiaran McLaughlin debated whether he'd run #2 TRAPPE SHOT in the King's Bishop at seven furlongs or the Travers at the demanding classic distance of 1 1/4 miles.  I'm hoping he made the right decision by entering him in the Midsummer Derby. 
Trappe Shot has always been handled conservatively by McLaughlin, and why not?  An $850,000 juvenile purchase, and half-brother to Grade 1 Personal Ensign (10 furlongs at Saratoga) winner Miss Shop, Trappe Shot always had the potential to be a top horse. 
After blowing away Florida-breds in a pair of sprint races earlier this year, Trappe Shot was being pointed to the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct on April 24, but ankle issues kept Trappe Shot from competing in that one-turn mile.  Instead, McLaughlin took it easy, smoothly moving Trappe Shot from an entry-level allowance at seven furlongs (105 Beyer over the talented Tahitian Warrior) to listed stakes race at 1 1/16 miles (105 Beyer in two-turn debut in the Long Branch Stakes) to Grade 1 race at 1 1/8 miles (second behind division leader Lookin At Lucky in the Haskell Invitational).  Now, the natural progression continues to the Travers and 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga. 
Trappe Shot looked good winning the Long Branch.  Sure, it was only a four-horse field, but the Pulpit colt bobbled at the start before prompting several pacesetters from the inside.  He professionally scooted through along the rail after 5 1/2 furlongs and rambled home as best. 
In the Haskell, he again didn't break especially well and ended up tracking the pace while inside of the winner.  He was looped by Lookin At Lucky going into the turn, but to be honest, he wasn't going to win with a picture-perfect trip.  Lookin At Lucky was that good that afternoon.  Still, Trappe Shot angled three wide at the quarter-pole and kept to his business to finish second, outhustling Travers entrants First Dude, Ice Box, Afleet Again, and Super Saver to the wire. 
Assuming the field stays intact, Trappe Shot should work out a good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip behind horses like Miner's Reserve, First Dude, A Little Warm, and Super Saver. 
A lightly-raced colt, it's possible that Trappe Shot has a bit of upside.  If he improves off the Haskell, he's a dangerous Travers contender.

#1 MINER'S RESERVE couldn't fend off A Little Warm in his last two starts, but was very game in holding the place at 15-1 in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, the local prep for the Travers at 1 1/8 miles.  He'll break from the inside post position and one has to assume that David Cohen will send him to the front.  The problem is that he should face some pressure and he has yet to win around two turns.  He's an underrated horse in good form, but the pace scenario may not play to his favor.

#3 ADMIRAL ALEX was an impressive debut winner going nine furlongs on August 31.  The fifth-place finisher of that heat, Jadal, returned to place in a maiden special weight on the turf with an 80 Beyer Speed Figure.  There's been a good amount of buzz on Admiral Alex, but he's going to have to be the real deal in order to win the Travers in only his second lifetime start.  I have no doubt that he's talented, but this is a tough spot.

#4 FIRST DUDE may be the best 'N2L' runner in the country.  Since winning his maiden going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park on January 30, First Dude was beaten a head by Fly Down in an entry-level allowance on February 21, finished third in the Blue Grass, second in the Preakness, third in the Belmont, and third in the Haskell.  Trainer Dale Romans will add blinkers to the gargantuan First Dude and perhaps that will help him keep a straighter course in the stretch.  First Dude is a talented colt, but if Miner's Reserve runs, he figures to be part of a pressured pace. 

#5 A LITTLE WARM has been in the exacta in his last seven races and put up some big numbers in beating Miner's Reserve in his last two races.  At the start of this year, it was questionable whether A Little Warm would be as effective going long as he was sprinting, but the Stormin Fever colt has answered all of his critics by successfully stretching his speed to nine furlongs.  He may work out a good trip in the Travers, stalking Miner's Reserve and First Dude from the outside before pouncing on the final turn.  Ten furlongs is always an issue, but A Little Warm seems to be good enough form to handle the extra eighth of a mile.

#6 ICE BOX would benefit from a hot and contentious pace.  The winner of the Florida Derby, and runner-up despite trouble in the Kentucky Derby, Ice Box reportedly displaced his palate during his poor showing as the betting favorite in the Belmont Stakes on June 5.  He never got involved in the Haskell, but is capable of improving in his second start of the form cycle.  Still, as a one-run closer, he needs pace and race luck.

#7 AFLEET EXPRESS, the winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus going 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth, certainly wasn't disgraced when third in the Jim Dandy.  This son of Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex seems to have some upside and his good tactical speed should work to his advantage in the Travers.  He has an upset chance for Jimmy Jerkens.

#8 FLY DOWN won the Grade 2 Dwyer around one turn on May 8 despite flipping back to his wrong lead in the final furlong.  He was motoring at the end of the Belmont to finish second, but just didn't seem to get on track in the Jim Dandy.  Like stablemate Ice Box, Fly Down goes second off the layoff, would appreciate some pace to run at, and is expected to improve here.

#9 FRIEND OR FOE, is a huge New York-bred, standing about 17 hands tall.  After winning his first three starts, he was thrown to A Little Warm in the Jim Dandy, and wasn't beaten badly, losing by only three lengths in his first start around two turns.  He's still learning with only four starts on his record, but has upside.

#10 AFLEET AGAIN won the Withers when the pace completely fell apart, but has come up short in his three subsequent starts.  After midmoving in the Haskell, he backed up to finish fifth.  I'm expecting Cornelio Velasquez to take Afleet Again back to make one run in the Travers, but he must prove that he's good enough.

We know that #11 SUPER SAVER handles ten furlongs under ideal circumstances (mud, perfect trip), but he breaks from a tough outside post position and could be wide when the field passes the stands for the first time.  Super Saver tried to run with Lookin At Lucky on the final turn of the Haskell, but was rebuffed in short order by the Baffert runner.  It wouldn't be surprising if Super Saver runs better in his second start since the Preakness, and you have to upgrade him if the track is wet.

Here's how I'm playing HandiGambling 200.

$100 Win - Trappe Shot (#2)

Best of luck to all.


Some other quick and dirty selections for this weekend:

Personal Ensign:  Rachel Alexandra, Life At Ten, Miss Singhsix
Victory Ride:  Beyondallboundarys, Katy Now, Rapport
Ballerina:  Informed Decision, Qualia, Rightly So
Pat O'Brien:  Tropic Storm, Smiling Tiger, Crown of Thorns
Pacific Classic:  Richard's Kid, The Usual Q. T., Awesome Gem

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.

Back next week with two weeks worth of Beyers, as well as your questions, comments, and pp requests.

Enjoy a great weekend of racing!


Travers.pdf259.67 KB
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Uncle Steve; I finally made my way through all of the posts, and then I see yours. So sorry. Tough game, no? I had a brutal weekend as well (really, just Saturday, and only wagered/lost $17), and my contest plays were simply bad. Go figure. I dunno. But I do know that Wednesday's cards loom, and I have you, Mike A, Alan, whacky, Tejano, Mickey, seabass, and everyone else to to help. Not that we have been burning it up or anything lately... Sheesh. And then I come home tonight and see that Rachel lost. I am a Zenyatta fan first and foremost, but I don't like seeing this filly lose. It's a very tough game. Late VS
robertSD More than 1 year ago
I love Del Mar. I just can't win for my life this year. I wonder if it really is the racing surface -- at least this year -- as at least I had some winning days in the past. Today was all about seconds -- so when you are mainly playing DDs & Pick-3s -- that means you win NOTHING for the close calls. I also made one of my larger WPS bets on Steve T (and mines) on Wallstreeter at a fat 14-1. Too bad we get squat for the jockey surviving a heart stopping fall on the backstretch. In other news I finally joined the world of smart phone owners (yes there is a tie-in to horse racing) and was using the TwinSpires mobile video feature to watch Saturday's ninth and tenth races at Del Mar -- one in the car (kids don't do as I do) and one as I waited for dinner -- at least I caught the two smallish dead heat exactas for all my troubles. Finally, I am quickly running out of wagering cash (those seconds are so cruel) so I best win soon ... or the last days of Del Mar will run without me -- well unless anyone wants to share. - robertSD
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
Yes, Vicstu, there really is a Blue Thong calendar. Email me at cmmemmot4@aol.com for your free copy.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Wilson I also have The Pamplemousse on my HW ( I was real high on him before) He's had a steady diet of 3-4F works. The Pamplemousse 08/29/2010 DMR 4F :49.00 All Weather Track Fast H 08/22/2010 DMR 4F :49.00 All Weather Track Fast H 08/15/2010 DMR 4F :48.60 All Weather Track Fast H 08/08/2010 DMR 3F :36.00 All Weather Track Fast H 08/01/2010 DMR 3F :36.80 All Weather Track Fast H Hope he continues to work & stretch out. I would love to see him back this fall.
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Virgin Queen Thanks for responding. May the cards be with you.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
It was a great weekend of football tournaments and serious quality time with my wonderful children, fabulous wife and her kind and generous parents. Great stuff. I am THE luckyist bum-on-earth-I-tell-ya... And in between, I managed to play a few races at Del Mar (lost them all), handicap all of the Saratoga card for contests (did poorly), and had a $5 Win ticket on Fly Down to-boot!. I am still smarting from this, and still can't believe that he didn't get up in time (eventhough I have the photo finish enlarged as my current screen saver). My son watched the replay with me (he didn't know the result). He still swears that I was robbed (eventhough I wasn't). After the race, I turned to him and said "tough game, huh?". He sighed, and said "man, and I thought football was tough". I'm still laughing (sort of). Ouch. Late VS
Dick W More than 1 year ago
deadboard alert: Although I managed a small profit over the weekend due to hitting the Travers exacta both in the HG and with real money, Sunday was a typical example of what I too often do to myself. In the feature at Del Mar I liked 3 horses that were all 8 to 1 on the ML - Buenos Dias, Dynamic Range and Worth Repeating. I placed my bet early, a $1 ex box with those 3. I left out the favorite, Champ Pegasus, who I also liked. I was surprised to see the final odds on Buenos Dias (18 to 1) and Worth Repeating (15 to 1). So I put another $2 on W R to win. I did not try to hit the tri. Anyway, you know the results. Champ Pegasus passes the 2 long shots who finish 2nd and 3rd for a nice $41 ex and 298 tri for $1. As Blackstone, Van Savant, Steve T and many others have already stated, "It's a tough game !!!". Dick W
Alan More than 1 year ago
Uncle Steve and RobertSD, In honor of your recent successes at there, if I somehow won HandiGambling Saturday I'm picking a DMR race this week!! :-) Uncle Steve, Drumroll please..... 1. The Pacific Classic Winning Beyer was a. 110 b. 105 c. 100 d. 95 2. The Pacific Classic Beyer Saturday was ________ versus the Personal Ensign Beyer Sunday. a. Much greater (~10 points) b. Somewhat greater (~5 points) c. The same (To cheat, check 'Stakes Results' section)
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Steve T Talk about insight-wow. I'm talking about the BSF for Richard's Kid-I did cheat and looked, and I'm guessing by now you have too. I've assumed from the beginning that the low number's were a result of some combination of the BSF crowd not understanding what they were seeing, and therefore not being able to calculate correctly, and the East Coast Bias. I'm thinking now that maybe it's far more simple: maybe the guy/gal doing it out here is just stupid. Really-we all know that brainpower is not distributed equally amongst all beings. Maybe the West Coast is considered Siberia to the Beyer people so they assign the worst and dumbest, while the best and brightest stay at home. I don't know. It defies logical description. I know it creates betting opportunities-but it is still irritating. For the record, what I'm typing is coming out in red. I don't know what that means or why it is happening (I'm doing nothing differently than what I've done a thousand times). Maybe the West Coast Beyer person is behind this too.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
TBTA I love, I love , I love my calendar Girl ...he-he-he . I agree with Annie, any residuals? Ms January