06/17/2011 4:07PM

HandiGambling 238 (Churchill maidens)

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Tonight's HandiGambling 238 exercise is the eleventh race at Churchill Downs, a maiden special weight scheduled for nine furlongs on the grass.
 
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.

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As of this posting (4pm), the turf is firm, but there are thunderstorms in the area and the MAIN TRACK ONLY horse has yet to scratch.

Right now, let's scratch #10 BET THE BANK, #12 BLOWBACK, and #13 DYNAMIC KNIGHT.

The portable rail is out in Lane 3 (about 22 feet out from the hedge).

#2 TAPATIVITY, a $235,000 RNA as a weanling, must be a frustrating horse to own and train.  The gray son of Tapit is a half-brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Champali and multiple stakes-winner Drexel Monorail.  He has some ability, but refuses to leave the gate in a timely manner, leaving him with too much to do when the real running begins.  Plus, he burns a ton of money (beaten favorite three times) and that could make him a bit of a sucker horse. 
Still, I feel that nine furlongs is what he's looking for, his last race wasn't bad, and he could get some pace to attack.  Last month, he was stuck near the back of the pack before rallying mildly through some minor traffic in the stretch. 
He is very tough to depend on, however, and is almost impossible to single in multi-race wagers.  In HandiGambling, however, I'll key him on top of exactas and hope he breaks somewhat smoothly.

#9 LOOKIN AT TIGER attempted to steal his most recent start on the front end, quickening through moderate fractions to open up a good lead entering the far turn.  He faltered in the stretch, but still finished ahead of the top selection. 
Expect Lookin At Tiger to revert to stalking tactics this evening and he may get first jump on stretchout sprinter #6 ORDAINED going into the final turn.  He should be prominent when they turn for home and can't be ignored. 

#6 ORDAINED cost $250,000 as a yearling and his dam was a Grade 3 winner going long on the main track (she was 0-1 on turf).  A half-brother to Grade 2 sprint winner Carolyn's Cat, Ordained must stretch out a half-mile in this spot.  While he is fast enough to make the early lead, he hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in his last three races, all at shorter distances.  I can see him making the front, but he may fall prey to the closers in the final two furlongs. 

#8 SMOKIN STAR raced evenly in his turf debut when finishing a length behind Lookin At Tiger.  He switches to Julien Leparoux and that usually attracts a good amount of attention at Churchill Downs.  Smokin Star shows a quick half-mile breeze in the mud in preparation for this start and may work out a good trip stalking the early leaders while racing in the clear. 

As for the others:

#1 PHOSPHOR cost $300 as a juvenile and was beaten double-digits in both main track starts.  His sire was a swift miler on the grass, winning a pair of Grade 3 races on the lawn. 
Forgiving handicappers will note that he tried to close over a sloppy, speed-favoring track in his debut before facing a promising sophomore named Le Mans on May 21.  He'll have to improve with the surface switch.

#3 CRYPTO PETE's sire won on grass and he is a half-brother to stakes-winner Load a Chronic (44-7-8-9 on grass).  The lightly-raced five-year-old hasn't finished in front of a horse since his career debut last July, however, and seems overmatched in this maiden special weight.

#4 MOON tackled stakes-bound Bizzy Caroline in his career debut and then encountered some trouble in his most recent outing.  He doesn't have much speed and may have to outfinish Tapativity from well off the pace.

#5 FLEXIPLUS, a half-brother to stakes-winning turfer Joharmony, is out of multiple Group 3-placed grass performer Dynamia.  The $22,000 yearling RNA made his career debut on dirt against eventual Preakness winner Shackleford, and then was not disgraced in two starts on turf.  He faced a promising performer, Check Your Soul, at Keeneland two back before missing by less than a length at Indiana Downs (the runner-up from that race returned to graduate at Arlington Park with a 76 Beyer and had previously run second in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby on dirt).
Flexiplus is a logical contender in this spot, but I'll try to beat him at low odds as he attempts nine furlongs for the first time.

#7 RIVENDELL, a $50,000 RNA as a weanling and a $42,000 RNA as a short yearling, is a first-time starter by Aragorn (5-46, 11% with FTS; 3-36, 8% with first-time turfers).  The dam only started twice, but she won her career debut on grass at one mile.  He's a half to two turf winners and the dam is a half-sister to Weekend Surprise, the dam of A.P. Indy.  There's certainly pedigree, but it's tough to successfully debut at nine furlongs and the workouts fail to entice.

My HandiGambling plays are as follows:

$50 Exacta:  Tapativity - Lookin At Tiger (2-9)
$30 Exacta:  Tapativity - Ordained (2-6)
$20 Exacta:  Tapativity - Smokin Star (2-8)

Best of luck to all.

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For in-depth previews of some of the weekend's top stakes races, please click on the below link and scroll down:

http://www.drf.com/news/weekend-stakes-preview-videos

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