09/25/2010 12:39PM

HandiGambling 203, Some weekend picks


Today's HandiGambling 203 exercise is the tenth race from Parx Racing, the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap for fillies and mares going five furlongs on the turf. 

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.

The turf course is FIRM.  Let's scratch #5 DUBAI MAJESTY.

#6 CANADIAN BALLET won last year's Turf Amazon and will turn back to her favorite distance (4-7 at five furlongs) after being involved in a cut-throat speed duel in the Lena Spencer Stakes at Saratoga on September 4.  In that race, contested at 5 1/2 furlongs over the Mellon Turf, Canadian Ballet was used hard from post position 11, and soon found herself battling with 17-1 shot Stormandaprayer through hot fractions of 21.20 and 43.95.  Canadian Ballet would finish almost three lengths in front of Stormandaprayer, but was understandably no match for the top finishers after that early battle.  She's the main speed today, should be prominent when they turn for home, and is a playable price in a short field. 

I'm a big fan of #2 WEST OCEAN, and I'm interested to see how she'll do today at Parx Racing.  The Elusive Quality filly has won three of her last four turf sprints for Todd Pletcher and is probably relieved that Dubai Majesty, the filly that outfinished her last out at Monmouth, scratched from the Turf Amazon.  West Ocean has a strong turn of foot, switches to John Velazquez, and should get a solid pace to track this afternoon.  In that Dubai Majesty race, West Ocean raced four wide every step of the way before forging to the front in upper stretch.  Perhaps she'll save more ground in here.  She's the horse to beat, but figures to be hammered at the windows.

#1 ROSE CATHERINE also goes out for Pletcher.  She beat Canadian Ballet in the Lena Spencer, but wound up in a picture-perfect garden spot tracking the early speed duel.  She angled three wide at the quarter-pole, inhaled the exhausted pacesetters, and went on to a professional score.  Note that the only runner to return from the Lena Spencer, Karakorum Elektra, came back to beat males in a 'n3x' optional claimer with a 91 Beyer.  She is also capable from on the pace so it will be interesting to see if Javier Castellano urges her from the gate in order to deny Canadian Ballet an easy early advantage.  It's possible she's simply a superior horse than Canadian Ballet, but I'd rather not play any runner at short odds following a perfect trip. 

#3 ASHTON GIRL has won two of her last three starts, but you or I could have taken her for $7,500 three back.  She handled entry-level allowance foes over this course and trip last time out.  Note that the second -, third-, and fifth-place finishers from that race returned to win with Beyers ranging from 74 to 83. 

#4 LADY RIZZI won a stakes race at Colonial Downs three back, but failed to take advantage of a good ground-saving trip when behind West Ocean at Monmouth, and then was no match for Rose Catherine at the Spa.  Expect Cornelio Velasquez to take her back and make one run in the hope that a quick pace would take the starch out of the front-runners.

I'll just take a stab in HandiGambling with $100 Win - Canadian Ballet (#6)

Best of luck to all.


Here are some quick-and-dirty selections for some of today's other stakes races:

Pennsylvania Derby:  A Little Warm, Morning Line, Exhi

Kent:  Grand Rapport, Workin for Hops, They Call Me Giant

Gallant Bloom:  My Jen, Rapport, Sara Louise

Super Derby:  Hurricane Ike, Golden Moka, Apart

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

Sedonia More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, YES! That is a filly I'm part owner of. I don't comment often on here, mainly when Betty is running, but things have been busy lately. Glad to see you have a much better memory then me. Just a question.. what is a PGH? Also, I want to publicly congratulate our trainer, Linda White, on her first career victory in the Anniron. It's been a long few months, and it's nice to see her get the monkey off of her back. There will be many more to come from her! Thanks, Sedonia
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Frivolous & Fluffy...so read at your own risk ...he-he-he Knm 'Valley Girl' loosely was termed as a stereotype of the teenage girls living in the San Fernando Valley (CA) ...Made famous by Frank Zappa, and daughter Moon Unit Zappa in the 1982 song "Valley Girl". Which totally spoofed on the "Val-speak" in which the terms 'gag me with a spoon', 'grody to the max ', 'oh Bitchin , fer sure-fer sure' are played up...also the tossing of the head shake, and shopping at The Galleria. (yes, I did live down the street from it at one time). Here's a quick youtube of the song...& yes, it is very dated! http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x33dhm_moon-unit-zappa-valley-girl_music and to really shudder, they had a contest back then, too .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHf089jl9H4 I knew girls like the stereotype...but I'm more proud that I grew up in The Valley during that time and I am pretty normal...still, I do slip into the lingo every so often ...and If I want, can do a mean "Valley Girl" imitation..Oh Gag ME!! LOL! Back later about the RAH.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Blackseabass ... re "Fish Stuff", not horseracing related. Just a movie review I came across lately....CATFISH. It sounds interesting enough about the new personal/ interface technology we all have access to. http://www.carycitizen.com/2010/09/28/film-review-catfish/ Viewer beware :)
dsully More than 1 year ago
HG Have to think that the main wil be off tomorrow which plays into the hand of off track specialist Sapphire Sky Hope there's enough speed to soften up Meese Rocks. Also like closing My Dinah on the shortening and the off track. Wager $50 Exacta box on 4-10
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Knm I'll slip in The RAH story..too. Bear with me, as this goes back a couple years. Starting with Alan and his first visit to NHC 2008 in Las Vegas....Uncle Steve was here to root him on & I was here, being the Den Mother. My husband did not attend those two days, telling me, "just have fun with your horse friends" Next I had a chance to meet Uncle Steve again at Santa Anita, a couple days before 2008 BC, and saw Zenyatta in the paddock. My husband once again had plans, and told me...'have fun with your horse friends' . At this point, after stealing some of the poly suface at Santa Anita, and watching a days worth of races & excellent instructions from Uncle Steve...I think he was thinking 'I really did not have a husband'.. So when NHC 2009 comes around, Alan has qualified for a second year (with Chalky in tow) Lil Chok also qualified..and with his son, plus BigEasyBigChok, Lauren Stitch, Uncle Steve, myself...my husband comes out to meet my 'degenerate horse player friends' LOL! We walk into the restaurant, and Uncle Steve immediately sees me, and walks to Dan and says...SO, You must be the Rent A Husband for the night, right? Since we know she isn't married? eh? Well, we all had a wonderful time, and my husband learned that I was not hanging out with any degenerates.. But from then on he has been fondly referred to as the Rent a Husband. aka RAH Note...For fun...later that year I did tell Uncle Steve that I was tired of the lease agreement on him, and payed for the platinum package option to keep him permanently, so as not to send him back to the work pool of Rent a Husbands...LOL! I'm not sure how many were introduced to him at The Formblog Convention as the RAH...or just as my husband. But he had a great time meeting everyone, especially the OTHER Dan, our Fearless Leader. :) BTW...we celebrate our 18th Anniversary next March...during NASCAR weekend here in LV :)
Mathieu More than 1 year ago
If anyone is looking for a little background as to whether Secretariat's Derby and Belmont times were aided by the track superintendent this will help: May 5th charts for Secretariat’s Derby http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=drf1970s;cc=drf1970s;rgn=full%20text;idno=drf1973050701;didno=drf1973050701;view=pdf;seq=11_1;node=drf1973050701%3A11.1 June 9th charts for Secretariat’s Belmont http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=drf1970s;cc=drf1970s;rgn=full%20text;idno=drf1973061101;didno=drf1973061101;view=pdf;seq=34_1;node=drf1973061101%3A34.1 Ah hell, let's make it a set. May 19th charts for Big Red’s Preakness http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=drf1970s;cc=drf1970s;rgn=full%20text;idno=drf1973052101;didno=drf1973052101;view=pdf;seq=42_1;node=drf1973052101%3A42.1 All you witnesses who believe it was, and is, the defining race of the breed should feel reassured with this info. Yes, as some have pointed out, there were EIGHT track records broken the previous month at Belmont but on June 9th the track wasn't particularly fast, unless you consider the 7th, for three year olds only, in 1:40 4/5, blazing. But then again it was won by 9 lengths by a gelding widely considered to also be among the top ten of the century, Forego. One other thing, S ran against a headwind the entire length of the backstretch. How stiff it was remains a question mark but that may account for the generally slower times for that day. Which makes 2:24 even more staggering. Jim Tully- I included the Preakness charts for you. When you originally posted your belief that that effort was more impressive than his ensuing one I thought you might have an outside the box point. But considering that move was made after a high 24 or 25 flat first quarter and the half in the high 48's it was a heads up move by Turcotte to grab control of the race when no other jock was suspecting it without expending too much early juice. In fact, I'd even place it behind his Derby. But one thing for sure, without that move Turcotte would not have had the balls to open up a 22 3/5 2nd quarter three weeks later. It signified, incredibly, even further improvement from a horse that had just blown up a track record two weeks earlier in our most famous race. * Trivia time. Who can tell me why Seattle Slew's two races vs Affirmed did not prove his superiority over his fellow Triple Crown winner? And... What other factor superceded the safety pin and led to Spectacular Bid's loss in the Belmont? *
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Mike A; Thank you very much for your thoughts in today’s 10:29 post. I always appreciate what you have to say, and this more so than usual. In Saturday’s 8th at Belmont, what I saw in Dark Cove (to go with what you wrote) was a young (3 y/o) colt that had really taken a big step in his maiden win (on turf). I am like Dan here in that I usually don’t like a colt trying Allowance conditions for the first time, but I didn’t really like this field to begin with. I saw Mickey’s post on Pretty Boy Freud, but I just couldn’t buy into it. He did actually run a winning race though, but was just nailed at the wire. But back to Dark Cove for a second. He showed a nice running line from his maiden win, and he demonstrated a gameness all the way through the stretch. That caught my eye. So did his final time on a neutral-to-somewhat-fast track. He was working smartly coming into this race, and Trainer McPeek’s percentages for this type of race were much stronger than his odds indicated. The fact that Borel was changed out as the Jockey helped his price as well ($33.60). This was a classic overlay.
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Blackseabass I'm certain bluegrass meant he was doing us a favor by posting, but we did not repond in kind. So he's gone, I gather. Great stories on the scores-whatever happened to you and the Dolly? Did she become a friend for life? I'm sure your foreman didn't follow her down that path. I have a good story too, involving my daughter and her friends in college. Can't remember the name of the horse, though-I'll ask her first to see if she does.
blackstone More than 1 year ago
HG 204 Might be a double-post as I was kicked out of the web site when trying to post my comments. The Bet: $100 Exacta #10-#9 (Sapphire Sky to Meese Rocks) Congrats Molesap on winning again-you and gerry must be neck and neck. Much speed in this race, so going for a closer. Sapphire is 3-5 and 6-9 at the distance and off going. Meese Rocks loves to win and seems to be peaking. Any one of the four or five quality speed horses could win this, but I hope not. Loved handicapping this one. Posting early as I will be packed at work for a few days. Good luck everyone!
Mike A More than 1 year ago
I'm a fairly confident handicapper, turf or dirt......though I do better on the turf, it suits me better. It just seems to fit the things I emphasize in my handicapping more. I've never laid out the whole thought process.......I've spoken many times about come home times, but of course there are other factors. You see the thing about turf racing, the thing I like the best is, most horses will run as fast as they can, given the opportunity, that's to say having a good trip etc., no matter where they run. Of course I'm going on the presumption that they are ready to run as well as they can. That's another story/angle. Horses, that's to say Thoroughbreds find turf, grass, a natural surface to run on. They're raised in pastures and run in fields of the stuff from the time they can stand. They're "comfortable" with the surface. They will extend themselves on it, if they have the conformation to run on it. Most horses do, it's in the genes. That comfort translates to them running as fast as they can physically. You'll rarely see a horse who can run a 1:42 for a 1 1/16th lose in a 1:44 against better on a similar surface, firm, gd, whatever. One Axiom you read and hear from "professional" handicappers is "the hardest race for a horse to win is the first race against winners" True enough on dirt, but on the turf you'll miss many a long shot thinking this way. It's an angle I use over and over with alot of success. A few off the top of my head are La Clouche and one that ran Saturday Dark Cove. Both came off maiden wins to score first time against winners, La Clouche at 6-1 and Dark Cove at 15-1. Of course you have to see if the field they are running against has "chinks" in their armor. In the race with Dark Cove, the best horse in the race, as I saw it was Pretty Boy Freud, But that horse is a one paced closer as evidenced by his many in the money finishes, but fewer wins. The horse has heart, runs as well as he can, but timing is everything. Speed wise Dark Cove stacked up well in this field, on dirt the horse would be at the mercy of pace, track, etc. But on the turf, being firm he figured to get the trip. Of course you always have to wonder if they will get through the traffic, but I've found more often than not, no matter how big the field is, as long as your not buried on the rail, you've got a good shot and Dark Cove had an outside post. Pretty Boy Freud ran as well as always, this time the jock moving a bit sooner than usual, he looked home free, but was caught in the final jump by Dark Cove. The whole key is recognizing how good the maiden win was and how good the competition is first race back. That takes some time to be good at, but it does help to realize how fast a horse ran in relation to the speed of the track. I bet against alot of Monmouth Shippers both at Belmont and Saratoga, no matter how fast they ran, especially if they were on the inside part of the track and showed speed. Monmouth's course favored all horses in those positions. Two Notch Road was a easy toss for me in any race he ran outside of Monmouth. But closers on the outside who were compromised by that course got a second look. Sometimes a horse will be in more than a few maiden races, run well but not win until their 5th or 6th try, but once they do you really need to look hard and long at them. As was the case in the first race yesterday at Belmont. Frivolous Buck had run very well at Belmont, actually had run well in all of her races. Horses who had beaten her in her maiden races went on to run very well against winners. She had the times to be very competitive. She finally broke her maiden last out, they entered he in an overnight. Of course the public, along with every handicapper tossed her. Mickey will tell you there was a horse in that race that I've made a decent amount of money with, her name is Exclusive Scheme. She likes Belmont's inner turf course, has speed and figured to either have the early lead or be right there. Frivolous Buck also likes Belmont. You Go West Girl figured to be the favorite, but she has trouble negotiating the tighter turns on the Inner course. I also thought Great Gracie Dane and Akilina would get alot of play. I've used You Go West girls in exactas the last two times she ran. Now I've never been a fan of hers, she just doesn't negotiate turns well, it usually costs her in the lane. You have to use her though, at least in that field. Akilina is also a must use. I didn't like Great Gracie Dane, but for any fans out there, she'll win first crack on Aqueduct's turf course. Exclusive Scheme gets the top spot......But at 13-1 I have to use Frivolous Buck, her consistency and prior races puts her there, as long as you get past "first against winners" Remember even though her priors were against maidens, they were good horses as evidenced by what some of them did when they raced back, and the field had "Chinks". Exclusive Scheme tracked then early leader, took command at the far turn and under good handling cruised home, Frivolous Buck tracked the winner, moved in behind and got second. Akilina ran her usual good race, but not good enough and You Go West Girl? wide around the turn as I figured she'd be and couldn't catch up. The exacta came back 133.60, which I thought was a bit cheap, but I'm not complaining. There's money in turf races ( other than California) because most folks handicap them like they are dirt races when they are not.....not even close. They use the same principles/angles as they do on the main track, when those principles/angles do not work more often than they do. Here are some things to remember when betting the turf courses at Belmont. 1) Never automatically toss a horse because it's running first back against winners. 2) Know how a horse runs and the dynamic of the race before you back a speed horse that's coming out of the 9-12 hole at 1 1/16th, especially on the Inner course. 3) Horses run to their ability on the turf courses, if confronted with a horse or horses who like to run 2nd and 3rd, even in good company, look for a new comer. those others are showing you what they already have, they're money burners. 4) If a horse runs an exceptional race first crack and is entered right back in a stake, never ever toss them. Can anyone say Miss World, Maram and Silver Reunion? 5) Layoffs aren't as much of a bad sign as they may be on the main track. The trainer tells the tale here more than the horse. 6) always look at all of a horses races, you need to tell if the horse has the ability to perform as you wish, then if all your ducks are in a row, go for it. 7) The biggest aspect of turf racing is to learn how good/bad a particular race was, AS COMPARED TO THE OTHER HORSES IN THE RACE. I loved La Clouche in her maiden win, gave her out as a best bet first race back, but after that race which she won, I realized it wasn't all that. She was entered in a stake after that and I bet against, she ran third. Don't fall in Love with a horse you pick, no matter how much money you made. A huge mistake alot of folks make on this blog when it comes to me is, if a horse I like wins, or even if I just pick them, is that it means I think the horse is somehow special. They are, they all are, UNTIL THE NEXT RACE. Get it? good. The bottom line is for years that's the only way I bet big. Looking for maiden come backers at a price. It only gave me 20 or so plays a year, sometimes less, but my win average was way better than most and when you consider the that most of those exactas pay anywhere from 150.00 to 350.00 you really needn't win them all. It takes what most folks do not have......Discipline. Whether it's ego or that need to gamble doesn't matter. I'm better than most on the turf courses at Belmont, but even I will admit trying to crank out money horses time and again is an exercise in futility. I didn't bet Dark Cove.......I took the day off, told Mickey I was burnt....needed a recharge. Of course my ego got the better of me when Exclusive Scheme ran......but she's a sure thing to me, especially on the Inner turf course, but that's all I bet. Didn't even look at another race. I won't either, well maybe the HG, that is until Saturday.........It's raining here in the Little Apple (Long Island) and I have the day off, well except for looking at blueprints.......wonder what's on TV. Mike A