05/13/2011 2:25PM

HandiGambling 233 (Arlington Maidens)


Today's HandiGambling 233 exercise is the ninth race at Arlington Park, a statebred maiden special weight for three-year-olds and upward at six 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.

The first few weeks at Arlington are usually very interesting as we find out if the horses that ran well on dirt at Hawthorne can successfully transfer that form to the all-weather. 

Let's scratch #13 BOXEO and #14 TOP NOTCH BUDDY.

#10 COUGAR'S SHADOW ran faster than par for this class level (par is 68) when an even third at Hawthorne last month and tuned up for this with a bullet five furlongs over the polytrack eight days ago. 
He was bet hard in his career debut back in March, but didn't run very well against a solid field (the second- and third-place finishers both came back to win). 
Last time, he prompted a quick pace and dug in gamely for third money. 
He draws a good attack post position outside of the other speeds and should be prominent when the field swings into the stretch. 
If you believe in "synthetic" breeding, a half-sister, One Perfect Day, won over the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs while another half-sister, Princess Ally Rose, won twice over the Arlington polytrack last season. 
Over the past five years, trainer Christine Janks is 3-7 (42%, $4.00 ROI) at Arlington with older statebred maiden sprinters going dirt to synthetic following a 31-60 day layoff. 
Another sign of intent may be the rider switch to Junior Alvarado.  Over the past two years, the Janks-Alvarado trainer-jockey combination is 4-8 (50%) with an $8.52 ROI.

#4 OFFICER NINO is a half-brother to Jaguar City, the winner of the Isaac Murphy Handicap going six furlongs over the old dirt course at Arlington back in 2005. 
The Officer homebred showed good speed when bet down to 5-1 for his career debut and could be the main pacesetter in his first start on synthetics. 

#2 PANAMA HAT has yet to hit the board from seven lifetime starts, but he put up consistent figures at Hawthorne over the winter and may improve with the switch to polytrack.  He came with a late run for fourth when finishing only a half-length behind Officer Nino on April 27 and could get some pace to attack here. 

#6 GRUDGE MATCH has some pedigree appeal as a half-brother to Striking Hight, a stakes-placed turf performer that won sprinting over the Arlington polytrack in 2009.  His dam, Highfalutin, was multiple Grade 3-placed going long, but did win three sprint races. 
The gelding was bet to favoritism in his career debut and showed good speed before faltering to second in the stretch at Hawthorne.  He wouldn't be a surprise from close to the pace for high-profile connections.

#1 ANY GIVEN TIME was virtually ignored at the windows for his career debut and didn't do much running over the sloppy track.  He'll have to really hustle breaking from the inside post.

#8 WILD COMMAND didn't fare very well over sloppy going in his debut after breaking poorly from the inside post.  It's probably too early to give up on him completely, but he's hard to confidently endorse.

#11 IN ALL DIRECTIONS has not finished ahead of another runner since February 27, 2010, and has simply been dull since returning from a long, long layoff.

#3 SUNSHINE EXPRESS is by Explicit, a Grade 2-winning sprinter that is 13-100 (13%) with debut runners.  The dam went 8-35 for $115,175 in earnings (2-7 in sprints) and has foaled a winner from three prior starters.  Trainer James DeVito is 7-15 (47%, $6.01 ROI) over the past year with debut runners and is 13-39 (33%, $6.12 ROI) over the past five years with debut runners at Arlington. 
He doesn't have to be the next Secretariat to win this so check the tote for early action to see if he's live.

#12 NAGYS PIGGY BANK is a son of Cherokee Rap, a stakes-placed earner of $186,240 that is 0-11 with debut runners.  The dam was multiple stakes-placed (4-19, $133,286, 3-14 in sprints) and has foaled three winners from three previous runners.  Trainer Scott Becker is 0-15 over the past five years with debut runners at Arlington.

#5 HEY NEIGHBOR has some bloodlines as his sire was a multiple Grade 2 sprint winner that is 23-344 (7%) with debut runners.  The dam was a multiple stakes-winning sprinter (11-41, $373,667, 11-40 in sprints) and has foaled three winners from three starters including stakes-winner Home's The Best (9-31, $392,265, 1-2 in sprints).  Trainer Brian Williamson is 1-55 (2%, $0.32 ROI) over the past five years with debut runners at Arlington.

#7 C. C. BANJO is by Bowman's Band, a Grade 2 route winner that is 12-100 (12%) with debut runners.  This is the first starter from the sprint-winning dam (26-5-2-6, $82,280, 5-21 in sprints).  Trainer Percy Scherbenske is 3-17 (18%, $2.31 ROI) over the past five years with debut runners at Arlington. 

#9 LAKE POSSE, a $20,000 yearling buy, is by Grade 2 sprint winner Posse (23-252, 9% with debut runners).  This is the first starter from a route-winning mare (2-16, $50,591, 0-5 in sprints).  The trainer is 1-20 (5%, $3.22 ROI) over the past five years with debut runners at Arlington, scoring with 31-1 firster Adam N Tony last year. 

I'll hope that Cougar's Shadow can retain his form on synthetic. 

$100 Win - Cougar's Shadow (#10)

Best of luck to all.

Back next week as we gear up for the Preakness.