09/08/2010 2:56PM

HandiGambling 201 (Del Mar Futurity)

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Today's HandiGambling 201 exercise is the 63rd running of the Del Mar Futurity, a Grade 1 event for two-year-olds at seven furlongs over the Del Mar polytrack.

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 at 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.

#5 JUST IMAGINE will be ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes.  #9 COMMA AT THE TOP is three pounds overweight.

I have to admit that I don't have a very strong feel for the race and will use my top three selections in multi-race wagers.

#4 J P'S GUSTO has won three straight stakes races and went gate-to-wire over a polytrack that may have favored stalkers and late-runners on August 8 in the Best Pal.  While I didn't love the way he drifted out a bit in the stretch, he does have wonderful tactical speed and seems just as effective on the lead as he is from slightly off the pace.  P. Val should have him in the thick of things when the real running begins.

I really wanted to make a strong case for #7 WESTERN MOOD as he was compromised by the short field and moderate pace of the Best Pal.  That afternoon, Joel Rosario was forced to keep Western Mood, a half-brother to Grade 3 turf winner Fly by Phil from the family of Afternoon Deelites, closer to the early splits than usual and that may have sapped his stretch kick.  In the Del Mar Futurity, I believe that Rosario will take Western Mood back in the hope of making one good run.  Still, I hated the way he failed to change leads in the stretch of the Best Pal and I'm not sure he can catch J P's Gusto if he doesn't work out that little flaw. 

#6 MAJOR ART is the X-factor, a European invader adding Lasix for the first time.  He bombed as the favorite in a listed stakes race in France last time out, but the winner of that heat returned to run second in the Group 3 Prix La Rochette.  Major Art has yet to race on the main track (there are lots of grassy influences in his female family) and his lone career victory came when on the lead.  It is questionable whether he has the early speed of his American counterparts and may have to rally from off the pace in here. 

As for the others:

#1 JAYCITO, out of three-time stakes-placed router Night Edition, showed good speed in his career debut for Mike Mitchell before faltering in the final furlong.  He's stuck down on the inside and his rider, Martin Garcia, may have no choice but to gun for the front in the early going.  A prolonged pace battle would likely hurt his chances, however.

#2 RIVETING REASON blew a two-length lead with a furlong to race on August 14 and is still a maiden.  He finished ahead of a next-out winner (ninth-place finisher returned to graduate with a 69 Beyer Speed Figure), but is taking a big step up in class. 

#3 MCKENZIES WAY, an easy winner of a maiden race here on August 7, hasn't exactly been flattered by the other horses to come out of that heat (five horses returned from that race, but only one hit the board).  By the precocious Wildcat Heir, McKenzies Way worked a bullet for this, but may face more pace pressure this time.

#5 JUST IMAGINE has burned a ton of money in both lifetime starts and has yet to gain ground from the stretch call to the wire.  Still a maiden, Just Imagine has some tactical speed and may benefit from a fast pace up front.  He does have to do more if he's to pull off the upset.

#8 INDIAN WINTER is an interesting contender for Jerry Hollendorfer and Rafael Bejarano.  Bet down to even-money for his debut victory over Jaycito, Indian Winter professionally rallied past horses when it mattered in the stretch and could get a good pace setup today.  A half-brother to the fleet Grade 3 winner Sindy With an S, Indian Winter can't be counted out. 

#9 COMMA TO THE TOP won his maiden by almost nine lengths two starts back, but that was against $50,000 maiden claimers and he backed away tamely after pressing J P's Gusto in the early going of the Best Pal. 

#10 ROAD READY acted up before the start of his career debut, the $50,000 Lost in the Fog Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, but still had enough to get up in the final strides.  That was a legitimate heat with the runner-up returning to finish second in the Cavonnier Juvenile at Santa Rosa with a 62 Beyer while the fourth-finisher came back to run third to J P's Gusto in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship.  From the family of Wood Memorial winner Buddha, Road Ready goes out for a barn that does great work with young horses.

#11 GAHZNO BOB adds blinkers after pressing the pace over a closer-friendly course on July 31.  He has yet to crack the trifecta in his short career and looks in steep.

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling:

$50 Exacta:  J P's Gusto - Western Mood (4-7)
$50 Exacta:  J P's Gusto - Major Art (4-6)

Best of luck to all.

***

Here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's racing action:



Quality Road's lifetime past performances are attached to the bottom of this blog post.

Due to the FormBlog convention this weekend at Arlington Park, I'll be on the run and won't be able to update comments in a timely fashion.  Please bear with me.

 

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