10/14/2010 11:46AM

HandiGambling 206 (Keeneland)

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Today's HandiGambling 206 exercise is the seventh race from Keeneland, a 'n2x' allowance for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the 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

Let's scratch #6 - AT THE FINISH

I think the key to this race is whether #7 HAPPY WEEK appreciates racing on polytrack.  Her dirt races are certainly fast enough, and she enters this heat following a workmanlike score at this distance at Saratoga.  Despite cracking the board in 75% of her races, it's safe to say that the $600,000 daughter of Distorted Humor out of a half-sister to A.P. Indy has been an underachieving disappointment.  She didn't do much running in both of her stakes outings to date and seems to lack a certain explosiveness.  Also, none of the six fillies that Happy Week vanquished on August 15 returned to win (1 second, 2 thirds, best next-out Beyer of 75).  She's not a horse that you can play with a great deal of confidence, but I think she's going to work out a good trip tracking a moderate pace, and she should be in the thick of things turning for home.
Who knows?  Maybe she'll prove to be a new, better horse on synthetics.

#2 THE UNDERLING will also make her synthetic debut this afternoon and, like Happy Week, won her most recent start at Saratoga.  With only five starts to her name, The Underling has a good amount of upside potential, but the plethora of layoff lines on her page is disconcerting to say the least.  Of the four horses to run back from that Saratoga race, only one hit the board (runner-up Babai Baby finished third at Monmouth with a 68 Beyer).  The Underling is also tactical and shows some quick workouts at Churchill Downs.  Again, the surface is the major question.

#9 JOCATA may be the price play for the Borel boys, Cecil and Calvin.  A reported vet scratch on May 27, Jocata came back to finish third behind a pair of next-out winners at Churchill Downs eight days later, and then was claimed for $75,000 out of a third-place finish on June 25 (a race in which she finished ahead of two next-out winners, including 87 Beyer Mahindar).  She won the only previous time she raced on polytrack.  The barn is 2-7 (29%, $2.00 ROI) over the past three years with newly-claimed runners and both of those winners returned from layoffs of at least 31 days.  Jocata has never finished off the board, removes blinkers for the first time, and shouldn't be counted out at a solid mutuel.

Nor should #10 BELL'S SHOES, who beat Jocata in that race at Churchill and then followed that performance up with a rallying third-place effort over the Arlington polytrack (of the five horses she faced that afternoon in Chicago, four returned to hit the board with a 75 Beyer top).  Stakes-placed around two turns, Bell's Shoes may need some pace help in order to successfully utilize her late kick.  Also, I felt that she raced on the best part of the track (outside) when wearing down Jocata at Churchill.

#8 TANTAMOUNT could be the speed of the race for Corey Lanerie.  The four-year-old filly won over course and distance during the Keeneland Spring meeting and has been freshened up following a couple of disappointing efforts.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" on the track's website, Tantamount "was traveling well at the wire," on October 10.  On September 26,  the report mentioned that she gave a "good even workout, continues to go well in the morning." Tantamount earned an 86 Beyer at Keeneland, but the polytrack that day seemed to favor front-runners, and Tantamount was on the pace throughout. 

#3 CAT ONTHE TOWN finished behind Tantamount on June 10, and has been rested by Bob Holthus.  Both of her wins have come around two turns and the late-runner could use some pace help up front. 

It's hard to toss anything that Al Stall Jr. puts on the track and #4 TOLL has some angles working in her favor.  She's a synthetic specialist, defeated three next-out winners in her most recent start at Arlington, and has won off the layoff in the past.  Toll should be rallying strongly in the lane. 

#1 CERVEZA faltered going long at Woodbine, but the daughter of Five Star Day was stretching her distance capabilities in that race, and she showed speed over a closer-friendly track.  Previously, she was a winner on dirt at Hawthorne and has successfully competed on polytrack in the past.  She may show some speed here, but will get a stern class test.

#5 USHUAIA won her career debut over synthetics at Woodbine last June, but she didn't do much running last time out at Hoosier Park.  The rider switch to Julien Leparoux is extremely interesting, but the filly shows a gap between her last two works, and must improve off her last race.

A good, fun race.  I'm taking more of a leap of faith with the morning line favorite than anything else.

$50 Exacta - Happy Week - The Underling (7-2)
$50 Exacta - Happy Week - Jocata (7-9)

Best of luck to all.