09/15/2010 12:33PM

HandiGambling 202 (Belmont Race 8)


Today's HandiGambling 202 exercise is the eighth race from Belmont Park, a $50,000 starter allowance for fillies and mares going six furlongs 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. 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.

It's a beautiful afternoon in New York.  The track is fast.  Let's scratch #5 SORORITY SISTER.
I didn't like the late Pick 4 sequence so the HandiGambling exercise will likely be my main action of the day. 

#2 STANFORD DOLLY goes out for the red-hot Bruce Levine and these connections have historically done well with horses shipping in from Southern California.  Although the beaten favorite at Saratoga in her NYRA debut, Stanford Dolly chased a gate-to-wire winner over a track that was favoring front-runners.  A hard-knocking mare that has cracked the trifecta in her last 11 races, Stanford Dolly has won twice at this distance over turf, has never been off the board in four dirt starts, and may work out a nice trip tracking the speedy #1 STAR ORCHID and #6 VAUGHNDIDIT entering the turn. 

Star Orchid, like Stanford Dolly, is entering this race following a Beyer top.  She'll go second off the layoff for high-percentage trainer Steve Asmussen, switches to Ramon Dominguez, and should be on or near the lead from her inside post.  The third-place finisher from the August 15 race at Monmouth, the stakes-placed Dakota Doll, returned to run third in a Jersey-bred, $17,500/'n2x' optional claimer at Monmouth with a 74 Beyer.  There is a possibility of an early pace battle with Vaughndidit, however, and Star Orchid doesn't show a published workout in the last 18 days.

#4 PLEASANT SISTER looks like an intriguing price possibility.  She'll step up confidently in class following an even try in a $16,000 starter at Saratoga, and will attempt to repeat the second-off-the-layoff angle that resulted in a win at Aqueduct on April 16.  Trainer Bob Barbara also has Vaughndidit in this race and that one's early speed may help set things up nicely for Pleasant Sister, a filly showing upward Beyer mobility in recent races. 

#3 CRAFTY GEM missed Saratoga and has only raced twice since March 10.  When she's on her game, she's pretty good as evidenced by her off-the-pace win going two-turns three starts back and her gate-to-wire win at seven furlongs last time out.  I'm not sure she's as quick as either Star Orchid or Vaughndidit, however, and may have to rate a bit in this spot.  Also, she's been a little better at longer distances in her career.  Note that the fourth-place finisher from the July 18 race returned to win for $10,000 at Saratoga with a 62 Beyer. 

#7 FIVEFIFTEEN will make her first start for new connections and the barn is 3-9 (33%, $9.03 ROI) over the past year with first-time claims.  She may get a nice pace to rally into this afternoon, but her fastest races have come around two turns at Finger Lakes.  The runner-up from the August 20 race returned to finish third with a 70 Beyer in a $10,000/'n1x' optional claimer at Finger Lakes, but was the only runner out of five to come out of the race to crack the trifecta.

#8 A SMART JUDGE is in good form and returns to the track and trip of her maiden win in June.  She blew a big late lead at Saratoga before being put up via disqualification, however, and the early fractions figure to be faster in this race.  The turnback to six furlongs coupled with an outside post position can help, but A Smart Judge needs slight improvement to upend these.

#9 CONGA BELLA won her maiden by almost nine lengths in March for Richard Dutrow Jr., was a reported vet scratch on May 7, and has lost her subsequent four races.  Last time out, she raced wide over a speed-favoring track, but faltered badly on the turn to finish over 20 lengths behind Stanford Dolly.  I wouldn't be surprised if the race flow is similar to the May 13 heat at Belmont, a race in which Conga Bella rallied to finish second by a nose, but she needs to turn things around from her last few races.

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling:
$50 Exacta - Stanford Dolly - Star Orchid (2-1)
$50 Exacta - Stanford Dolly - Pleasant Sister (2-4)

Best of luck to all.