05/30/2011 8:50AM

HandiGambling 235 (Metropolitan Handicap)


Today's HandiGambling 235 exercise is the tenth race at Belmont, the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at one mile 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.

Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers instead of the names of the horses.  

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.


I'm posting this pre-scratches and changes.

In the multi-race wagers, I will go four deep with heavy emphasis on my top selection.

As for HandiGambling the Met Mile:

#8 HAYNESFIELD is 5-7 at Belmont and his recent fourth-place finish in the local Met Mile prep, the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes on April 30, can be blamed on a tough trip. 
Haynesfield broke well and sought his usual spot on or near the front end in the Westchester, but was stymied from the outside by a hustling Christmas for Liam. 
Haynesfield's rider, Ramon Dominguez, attempted to rate his mount off the blossoming speed duel in order to maneuver to the outside, but he was locked on the rail by Christmas for Liam's stablemate, #5 CAIXA ELETRONICA.  Haynesfield has never been as effective when in behind horses and he just didn't seem very interested after being pocketed on the turn. 
He draws outside here for his second start of the year and should be close to the pace while racing in the clear.  Haynesfield ran well two back in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile (prompted solid fractions while inside, stayed game along the rail in the stretch, galloped out nicely) and should be prominent when the field swings into the stretch.

#10 TACKLEBERRY adds Lasix after a fourth-place finish going three turns, in the slop, under the lights at Charles Town.  A reliable competitor, Tackleberry has won eight of thirteen lifetime starts, at distances ranging from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. 
He, like Haynesfield, likes to race freely, and he could be prompting the top selection from the outside under Javier Santiago. 
Tackleberry has speed and natural ability, but perhaps his greatest attribute is his heart.  As he showed in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap two starts back, he doesn't like to let horses pass him when the money is on the line. 

Please keep an eye on #1 SOARING EMPIRE in the paddock, post parade and warmups as the 4-year-old has a history of acting up, especially behind the starting gate.  Soaring Empire looked good when beating the likes of eventual Grade 1 Carter Handicap winner Morning Line in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream, but that race is sandwiched between a sixth in the Cigar Mile (reluctant to load into the gate) and second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship at 4-5 odds (reared up gate, unseating rider). 
It will be interesting to see if the inside post has an adverse effect on Soaring Empire's already fragile psyche and he did miss the Westchester due to a foot problem.  On his best day, however, he's a pretty good miler and can contend here at a bit of a price.

#11 TIZWAY finally seems over the lingering foot issues that have plagued his career.  Making the third start of the form cycle this afternoon, Tizway returns to the scene of his Grade 2 Kelso win during the fall meeting.  Third in last year's Met Mile, Tizway draws outside and can stalk the early leaders from just off the pace.  He figures to gear up on the far turn and has run races fast enough to win this year's renewal.  He wouldn't be a surprise. 

As for the others:

#5 CAIXA ELETRONICA may have been aided by Haynesfield's misfortune in the Westchester, but he ran a corker that afternoon nonetheless.  After rushing up to lock Haynesfield in his inside box, he simply went about his business, passing his exhausted stablemate and going on to win by a solid three lengths.  Once claimed for $16,000 two years ago, Caixa Eletronica was taken by none other than Todd Pletcher for $62,500 two starts back. 
He's a hard-hitter with good tactical speed and may be ignored in the wagering once again. 

#9 KENSEI hasn't won since the 2009 Jim Dandy at Saratoga, a race from which he emerged with superficial cuts on his left hind hock.  Kensei had tough trips three and four back, but had his chances in both the Santana Mile at Santa Anita and the Carter, and couldn't punch it in either time. 

#6 YAWANNA TWIST ran a close fourth in last year's Preakness, a race that may have stretched his stamina to the limit.  He took a long time off after that race and may finally be reaching his peak with three starts under his girth this year.  I thought he ran pretty hard from start to finish in the Carter and he did better than his running line indicates.  Still, he has yet to earn a triple-digit Beyer in his career and will face some salty foes later this afternoon. 

#4 AIKENITE is coming into his own for Team Pletcher, but he may have been aided by a closer-friendly track when winning the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby afternoon. 
There is certainly the potential for a quick and contentious pace in today's Met Mile, however, and that could play right into Aikenite's hooves. 
Although he won his entry-level allowance condition over this track and trip, I'm not totally convinced he's a true miler.  It's possible the son of Yes It's True is a six- and seven-furlong horse at heart.

#3 RODMAN is a nice story as he returned from colic that sidelined him for over a year to post a stakes victory in his second start back.  He walked the dog on the lead that day, however, and figures to face more pace heat up front in this much-tougher spot.

Pletcher's third entrant, #7 IBBOYEE, was the New York-bred champion juvenile of 2009 and has held his own against open company the past two seasons.  He made up a good deal of late ground in his last two races and should benefit from a hot pace today.  Still, one wonders if his most recent effort was helped by the closer-friendly nature of that Churchill Downs main track.  Expect a good late run from an underrated performer.

#2 STORMY'S MAJESTY, has won two of his last three races, but I felt he raced with the grain of speed-favoring surfaces in both of those victories.  While capable from off the pace and perfect at this distance, he may be farther behind than usual down the backstretch and will need a speed figure boost to take these down.

Here's how I'll play it.

$100 Win - Haynesfield - #8

Best of luck to all.