04/21/2011 3:57PM

HandiGambling 230 (Appalachian Stakes)

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Today's HandiGambling 230 exercise is the eighth race at Keeneland, the 23rd running of the Grade 3 Appalachian for 3-year-old fillies at one mile 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.

As of this writing, the turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #3 DIVA ASH, #5 ARTISANAL, #9 MY PHI TEMPER, and #10 SMART STING.

There is a jockey change for #14 SANTINA DOND.  Make the rider Pablo Tolentino. 

The portable rail is scheduled to be out 15 feet.

Better late than never.  At least I beat post time.

I must admit that I wasn't blown away by #4 WINTER MEMORIES last year and I'm going to let her beat me on the win end off the layoff at a short price.  While she certainly showed some ability in her three starts as a juvenile filly, she seemed green, inexperienced and unfocused at times, often finishing on her wrong lead or being over-eager in the early stages of her races.  It's quite possible that the time off has allowed her to mature and she should get a solid pace to attack in this spot, but I'm not sure I'm ready to anoint her the next All Along just yet.  Ask me again at 4:54pm ET and I might tell you a different story.  She's "officially" my third choice in the race and I'll use her in multiples, but will try to beat her in a single-race wager.

In looking for a price, I landed on #11 PARTING WORDS, an Artie Schiller filly that was a visually-impressive entry-allowance winner at Gulfstream in her first start of the year on February 2.  Taken back to last off moderate splits, Parting Words rolled down the center of the course in the stretch, finishing her last half-mile in 46.74, to win going away.  To be honest, that wasn't a strong field of fillies she beat as only one of the seven vanquished rivals returned to crack the trifecta next-out.  In her most recent start, the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream, Parting Words clipped heels badly going into the first turn and never got involved thereafter.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 16, Parting Words gave a "good strong effort, out in 1:12."  I'm expecting an improved late run this afternoon from Parting Words as she switches to Julien Leparoux.

I have a great deal of respect for #6 NEW NORMAL, a sharp winner of the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes going a one-turn mile at Woodbine.  Not only did she beat subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine More Than Real that afternoon, but she did it in fast time (faster than Pluck and the boys in the Grade 3 Summer on the same card) after setting a contentious pace throughout.  New Normal may have to deal with another speed or two in here, but should be prominent when they swing into the stretch.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 14, New Normal "went very well, lightly ridden."  I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for her eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup as it was her first start around two turns and she couldn't get near the lead after breaking from post ten. 

#8 FAST TIP is a perfect 2-2 since moving to the shed row of trainer Bret Calhoun and she looms a pace factor stretching out in trip.  There are some distance concerns that she'll have to address, but she may have a bit of quality as she beat Snow Fall (next-out 91 graduate on dirt) on the green two starts back.  Perhaps this one is best used on the bottom of exotic wagers at long odds.

#7 HARLAN'S RUBY looked good winning the Valdale Stakes over the Turfway polytrack on February 26 despite racing 3-4 wide throughout and she ran into a very good filly in Summer Soiree when second-best in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks the following month.  She's capable on grass, winning her maiden over the turf at Saratoga, and trainer Ken McPeek has been on an absolute tear at this meet.  Harlan's Ruby has some tactical speed and could get the jump on the closers turning into the stretch. 

I tried to make a stronger case for #1 MY REDBYRD, who has won her last two starts on the lawn at Tampa Bay Downs and figures to save valuable ground going into the first turn under Garrett Gomez.  She made a four-wide bid to contention last time out, but had to work really hard in the stretch to fend off #13 BLUSHANDBASHFUL, and changed back to her wrong lead in the waning strides.  The $220,000 yearling is coming into her own, but many of today's rivals are tougher than the ones she faced at Tampa.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 15, My Redbyrd "went well, was not asked to run."

Blushandbashful might be the one I would take out of that March 26 race at Tampa Bay as she had some trouble during the running, galloped out nicely after the fact, and seems to have some upside potential.  She's a neck shy of being 3-3 in her career for underrated trainer Joan Scott.

#12 RUTHENIA is certainly bred for success and she didn't do anything wrong at two, winning both of her starts including the $80,000 Good Mood Stakes at Belmont on Halloween.  She has some ability, but must avoid a wide trip from an outside post and the layoff is a bit of a concern in this quality field.  There are a couple of gaps on her work tab to be mindful of, but Ruthenia may be one to watch down the road, if not today.

#2 DOS LUNAS sheds blinkers, but still may show her usual early speed stretching out 2 1/2 furlongs.  She made a run at New Normal in midstretch of the Natalma, but was turned away, and she finished behind Harlan's Ruby and Winter Memories in her next two races.  The "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 3 opined that Dos Lunas is "returning to form."  I expect her to be forwardly-placed, but there are some stamina issues to address.

#14 SANTINA DOND, a perfect 2-2 as a juvenile filly in Poland, won her stateside debut on dirt at Mountaineer, but is facing a tough group from a very difficult outside post.

Here's how I'll play HG:

$100 Win - Parting Words - #11

Best of luck to all.

DailyDub More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, Great info about leading at the eighth-pole, and kudos to Ian Tapp for the research. Van Savant, I have HW on my mind today too, big gold rush day today, looking forward to seeing the rest of your card. Will post my selections for the entire HW card shortly, we'll see how they stack up with each other.
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
C, & just to add to the confusion........Supposed I said to you, I'm looking hard at Toby's Corner ? Is that justification for me liking Uncle Mo more ?
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
C, For the most part I refer you to Vicstu's comment, about leading 80% of the time at the 1/8 pole in the Derby..& unlike you & the cacophonous story telling unfounded rumors, I believe only the horse was sick & somewhat "Short">only 1 1/2 lengths....under that premise he gets the PASS. & nobody else in the field is a stand out. & that means nobody else..& that includes the Beyer figs.. I know what he did, & don't know what anybody else MIGHT do or will do. So, he's been there & done that.. If the horse was sick & short????? Then it's a long way back to 2nd place.......I may even use your pick if you choose one, & play him for 2nd........LOL...I'm gambling Pletcher & Repole know what they're doing, & if it's okay w/them, it's okay w/me.....notwithstanding, all the experts on this blog..........
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Hi Everyone I'm still 'On the Road Again' ...he-he-he ..I hope no one is missing the MKB workouts, because I have days to catch up on. The Formblog posts I've had a chance to read or scan over are, as always, great! Good luck MKB owners this weekend (GO CAL NATION !!) and Happy Easter to all who celebrate :)
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Van Savant, I can't say I love anything at holly today . I will bet some money on All Saint in the 4th (he's as close as I got to love) . Carrie rose in the 6th. Liberal arts in the fifth W/ Master Chef (in your honor) & Sierra Spirit in exs. If the price gets out of whack I might put some on Lady Railrider in the 2nd. I'm looking at Full effect ,red tesla &single jewel in the 3rd. Believe it or not I really do give All Saint a legit shot to score at a price. Of course I did get a chuckle out of the response,but you knew that already . You've got the knack. Good luck today all. Catch you later.
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Calvin..............In my previous post In said Soldat ran the fastest 1 1/8th in the slop......that isn't correct, I meant the fastest considering the speed of the track as Gulf was running slow that day.....Mike A
Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Another stab at PH The Jerome Stakes A- Astrology - Tested at distance - speed - won a G3 - 2nd last out - presser B- Justin Phillip - Jockey and Trainer - classy - won at this distance - route and graded experience C - dios Charley - Class jump but won going away last out. The Giants Causeway Stakes A - Stormy Publisher - Won last four, all stakes - wired last two B - Wild About Marie - Suited to race - won 3 of 4 last like this C - Chantilly Nayla - Classy - Just lost last two to Wild About Marie The BThoughtful A - Ultra Blend - Won this in Dec - Won 3 of 4 similar - Game B - Lady Railrider - Cut back - won last two - Early speed - presser C - Warrens Jitterbug - Closer - Lost last two to foes here The Tiznow A - Amazombie - Speed - won a G2 and a 200K - Game - distance question B - Scofield Barracks - Early speed - won last has distance C - Quick Enough - Very classy - Speed - Turfer? - results on turf in stakes - wired field two back Also congratulations to Wilson and the others on HG this week. I did not play, but looked back later. The #2 had run in some pretty tough company and there was no reason to ignore. Good luck to all this week.
Mike A More than 1 year ago
BSB No.....Brilliant Speed isn't in my top three right now, could change should the track come up "off"........You can never say who I really like for the money till the day of the race....ask Mickey. Calvin, et al........ Reality...........there's a difference between predicting how you believe reality will play out and what actually happens. We can only predict anything by what has come before. It's like the "truth".....it's in the eyes of the beholder. Though as we all know there is only one real truth in life......from the day we're born until we're called "home" we are dying. I want to address the Turf/Syn horses for a moment. Calvin......you mentioned Brilliant Speed's come home times......you know first of all I picked Brilliant Speed and Twinspired after the Hallendale to be horses with big futures, albeit on the turf course. You also know I've liked Animal Kingdom from the get go. So if anyone could come up with a reason to play those two it would be me.......and as of this writing I have to say I can't....not on a fast track. Now as to BS's come homes.....I've mentioned this many times while talking about turf races.......come homes are important, but when more than a few are doing the same thing we need to down play that a bit. BS won by a lip, over Twinspired who had a head on King Congie.......reality tells me if I love BS and consider him a "killer" I would also have to assume the other two are also.......seems a stretch to me. Whenever I watch a race I have to be realistic about it's outcome. When you have a calvary charge to the wire in a turf race, even in a swift time it's unrealistic to think "wow.....there's 4 or 5 monster's in here", especially on the turf course. Michael Dickenson developed Synthetic's with the horses soft tissue in mind after all. Synthetics play like turf for a reason. I mentioned a few days ago this Derby was a good betting race and all the angles ever dreamed off will come out of mothballs for this one. It's why I suggested folks should temper their enthusiasm and look at the race in reality. Neither Brilliant Speed or Animal Kingdom have been over the CD main track, although AK will work on it today. BS has run on dirt, albeit at 2 and in sprints, but never showed a lick of run either. Is it realistic to expect those two to transform their turf/syn performances to the main track against horses that have run on it and performed well at times? The only way to establish that is to downplay every dirt horse to the realm of "donkey". I always say, "picking long-shots has as much to do with the ability of said horse as it does with the inability of all others in the race". So my question is " Is AK and BS that much better than the rest that they can jump up and win on a surface they've either never run on or run poorly on before"? As to the breeding question I'd have to give the nod to BS...after all I was all over Barbaro in 06, but he showed a affinity to the dirt prior, his siblings Nicanor and Lentenor? haven't. My experience, history (if you wish to call it that) and past "reality" tell me it isn't a stretch for a good dirt horse to transfer that form to turf aka Dr. Fager and Secretariat, but it's a different story the other way around.....unless the race came up muddy, good or sloppy. Which is one reason why I wait till race day to decide what I will do. I keep notes....I observe....the eye's don't lie, but our brains will. I mentioned two years ago when I first started posting that anyone's picks and how they approached the races had as much to do with their individual personality as their handicapping. So Calvin in a way I know you're like me in the sense that right now you're "talking out loud"......so to speak.......expressing your thoughts while you finalize and observe. It took many years and a few losers to give me the discipline to admit what reality was trying to tell me. Again we must realize that "reality" is in the eyes of the beholder by what a race tells you.....it's why I win more often after watching races and observing the horses that I do going strictly off the form. It's also why I can bet a horse blindly next out on occasion.....because my evaluation of the race and competition tells me a horse can move up and win, so I'm not as concerned with who he's running against next time. That would be heresy to a guy like "C", but I've done it enough on this blog that I know he'll give me that one. Turf horses as a general rule are bred to go further than their dirt counterparts. Though no one has ever entered a Belmont stakes with a turf horse because of it. I've noticed (and Calvin correct me if I'm wrong) but I'm seeing more and more turf influence in our breeding patterns than ever before. Horses with Tomlinsen's of 300+ aren't a rarity anymore. If you look at the early entries for the Derby many of the "picks" have 300 + ratings. Some have never run on turf.....some have. If anyone tells us "turf" breeding can transfer to the main track it's Soldat who is off then charts with a 400+. Though reality tells us that they went with the dirt "experiment" early in the year, not Derby day. Soldat won of on an off track in the fastest time any three yr. old ran at 1 1/8th this year. Then on a fast track, again this time experimenting with getting dirt kicked in his face he did little running. Soldat's "turf" breeding has more to do with his family tree than Dad or mom's dad, Danzig and Coronado's Quest respectively, since they excelled on dirt and never ran on the turf, that's reality and should always come into play when we need decide if a "turf" horse can run on dirt with the same affinity. In other words it was a reasonable deduction that he would transfer that form to dirt. Can we say the same for BS and AK? That is the 64,000.00 question. I always have rules for handicapping big fields......most times they work, sometimes they don't, as evidenced by the HG this week, I tossed the returnees and the two horses who showed little against lesser.......the result? WM's beat the throwout by a 1/2. It happens, but 80 %+ it won't. I'd do they same again tomorrow......albeit with different horses, I may be stubborn at times, but I'm not stupid either. I'm already looking at a few.....my main concern right now, as should everyones at one time or another, is the extra 1/8th of a mile. I believe (and again correct me if I'm wrong) you're looking at AK and BS because of it. BS showed the "lick and the breeding" and AK didn't really start to accelerate till midway down the stretch at 1 1/8th.....visually impressive even if the times weren't spectacular. I noticed too.....but again not on the dirt......where it's a different story. Will they transfer that form? Both could run their hearts out and only end up "spinning their wheels" as it were. How will they react when asked to run and they're "sliding" more on the different footing? If this were any other race and I wished to make money I'd probably pass it, but it is the Derby and it could rain. In that scenario both horses have shown me enough ability that I would include them in the exacta.......but depending on PP draw may have Soldat on top......see my point? On a fast track I'd have to pass......as of this writing. I'll concentrate on horses with proven dirt form for now.......lets see what mother nature and the PP draw tells me......down the road. Mike A
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
Mike A. calls me & says, "Did you have Classical Fashion in R1 @Aqueduct yesterday.....?" & I said, " No & why should I.......? & Who is Classical Fashion anyway...?"......He said, " You don't remember ?"..............> "No, remind me...." "Well, he paid $19.60 to win.........& you picked him @18-1 to wire the field in an HG race a litttle while back.........& he ran dead last.........& this was his 1st race back......" It seems I was a dollar short & an hour late......Goes to show you why Mike A. is the King of Turf..he devours this kind of info & I sat in amazement............seems somebody saw my post.. Now, next time, please call me ahead of time, so I can also collect........lmao..........
nick More than 1 year ago
Dan A shout out to you and Mike, the best duo in handicapping. You guys are entetaining and usually are close but you never kidded Mike about Bet On Victor , that one was a head scratcher and a immediate toss out in my mind. Are there any stats on your picks versus mikes picks I like answering people when they ask how I came up with that one, its those guys on the internet i told you about, anything on the pk 6 from gulfstream
Molesap More than 1 year ago
I have lots to do Saturday and if I can play, will likely just play a $7.20 ticket on my top choices if I can get it in, but for some reason does not seem to be a high priority for me. But here are my thoughts if anyone cares. Rainbow Pick 6 Race 7 – 5 / 8,13,10 Game On looks like a potential single, but hard to trust after failing at odds on three times in a row. Like the connections and 7 furlongs seems to be within his realm. Alice’s Alex has had trouble in his first two starts, but new trainer has decent ROI after the claim, so perhaps we’ll see improvement. Indian Fog will be a pace factor if he draws in, but has not been that trustworthy. Marias Pass has weakened in every start so far, but this the weakest bunch she has ever faced. Race 8 – 2,4 / 9,13 Reign of Kings will be on the turf for the first time, but has looked good on the dirt track and will likely be able to transfer his form. Lands good post here as well. Guessing Ness can turn this former stakes winner Notonthesamepage around. Much the best if he fires. Wild Storm Cat is bred perfectly for this race and returns after a layoff. He may be good enough if he has matured. Mustang Island will be tough if he draws in despite the poor post. Race 9 – 10 / 7 / 6,4 Zero Rate Policy is another potential single based off his debut effort. Seems head and shoulders above the field. However, returnee Christiesborntorun ran big in his debut at MTH last year. Not sure if he can improve off the layoff, but could be tough as well. Vimana set the pace in his debut in a 50K maiden claiming race and could improve off that effort. No Paparazzi has been transferred to Ness and obviously something happened in his last race. Liked his second race and may be good enough here with the Ness magic. Race 10 – 11,6,9 / 2 Ithinkihadthatone ran fairly well despite some trouble in his first start in almost a year. Will likely improve off of that effort. Silver Rock has obviously has her share of problems after winning her debut as she has only raced three times in two years. However, those in of those races was in a G2 and the other was against the boys. Performing is coming off of a nice win and has been in the exacta 4 of 5 times this year. Sovereign Crisis is 2 for 2 this year and draws a good post for this. Race 11 – 3,12 / 10,8 Hariolus was flying late last time and should be a threat in the stretch again. However, there is not much speed to set up the closers. Gathering Cloud has decent speed and should get first run, but has shown to be a bit heartless, finishing in the place spot 6 of 9 times. However, maybe the win last time is the beginning of a new habit. Pacmanstephen should be out winging them on the lead and without much pace pressure, may get brave. Houngun goes for Linda Rice the first time and was not disgraced in three MTH turf stakes last summer. Race 12 – 10,12,6, / 9,1 Persistence returns for Bond off a pair of subpar straight maiden races at BEL. Perhaps the payoff and change of scenery will wake her up as she may be able to take these coast to coast. Sassidy takes a drop in class after lacking room last time out. Seems to have improving numbers and the drop in class may help. Shahadaroba is the most reliable speed and may have it her own way on the front end. Diaper Dandy makes her third start and has some room for improvement. Has decent enough form and would hate to miss the last leg on the fave. Misia Luisa draws the cozy rail slot and had a bit of trouble last time.