09/14/2011 1:57PM

HandiGambling 250: Belmont Turf Sprint


Today's HandiGambling 250 exercise is the eighth race from Belmont, a $20,000 'N2L' claimer for fillies and mares at six furlongs over the inner turf course.

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.




The corrected weight for #11 SOTIQUE is 121 LBS.

The turf condition is FIRM.

The portable rail on the inner course is out 27 FEET.


I weeded out five main contenders in this race, but really don't have a strong opinion on any particular horse.

#6 QUEENS OR BETTER has improved dramatically since being equipped with blinkers and she recently put the boots to a statebred maiden special weight group at Saratoga. She showed good tactical speed in that spot by tracking the pace on the outside before being fanned four wide turning for home.  The outcome was never in doubt during the stretch run and her last two Beyers point her out on the figs.  There is always a question, however, about maiden graduates when they face winners for the first time as the pace scenario is usually faster against the tougher competition.  Plus, if Queens Or Better is moving forward so much, why are her connections willing to lose her for $20,000 when they still have rich statebred conditions left?  She isn't an appealing play at short odds, but I coudn't find anyone else to topple her.  If she runs back to her last race, she can beat these.

#13 MS DILLER draws in from the also eligible list and she ran a solid second at this level over the course and distance three back (finishing ahead of next-out 70 Beyer winner Amirahy).  She has early speed, but is stuck in a wide spot and may be on the chase instead of in front heading into the turn.  A lightly-raced filly, Ms Diller was jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.'s first call (over Sotique) and seems well-spotted in this event. It's nice to see her wheel back in 10 days. 

#9 VALUABLE LADY rushed up form the outside, put away another pace challenger and gamely held third behind the aforementioned Amirahy in her most recent outing.  She has high early speed, but is on a 16-race losing streak and hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in any of her races since breaking her maiden.  She also doesn't show a published workout in 26 days as she makes her first start for trainer Gary Sciacca.  You'll know her early, and that makes her dangerous, but she must show greater stretch stamina.

#1 SIMSATIONAL showed a new dimension when winning her maiden over "good" turf at the Spa.  Generally a one-way speedball, Simsational sat off the early leader before taking charge for good turning for home.  Perhaps the lightly-raced 3-year-old filly has finally figured the game out and she should be prominent when the field swings into the stretch. 

I liked #12 RAKEHELLISH's race two back going short off the layoff at Saratoga.  She raced in and among horses on the turn, angled wide at the quarter pole and rallied well to defeat four of these rivals.  She wasn't any good last time, but was rank going two turns.  She's probably better sprinting and should get some pace to attack in the late going.  I wouldn't sell her short at good odds. 

As for the rest:

#3 UNTAMED GLORY has never sprinted in her career, but it may be the best thing for her as she tires badly in those route races.  While she's quick from the gate, she may not be sprint-quick and could benefit from being taken off the pace to make one late bid.  Trainer Lisa Lewis is one of the most underrated trainers in the business.

#10 I'M A PERSONAL JET finished a shocking second at this level over the Widener course at 41-1 on June 25, but hasn't come close to duplicating that effort in subsequent starts.  Her lone career victory came in gate-to-wire fashion over sloppy going at Finger Lakes and she may need slightly weaker competition before she finds the winner's circle again.

#7 AUSABLE CHASM may be a sneaky longshot.  This will be her second start following the layoff and she raced very wide in her turf debut at the Spa on August 19.  Shee won her second lifetime start and improved her Beyer 36 points the last time she raced second off the bench so this seems to be a pattern that works well for her.  The pace may be faster in here than it was last time, however, and Ausable Chasm may be outsprinted in the early going.

#5 MY MAN NELL earned a 70 Beyer three starts back in a route, but she worked out a very good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip that afternoon.  Since then, she finished behind a couple of these on Saratoga sod and threw her rider when trying the main track.  This barn must always be respected, but the Team Valor castoff My Man Nell may be a bit better in longer-distance events.

#11 SOTIQUE has never been this cheap and that's reason enough to give her a big chance in this spot.  Add in the fact that she's turning back to a better distance in her second start of the form cycle and she looks like a very intriguing runner.  I must admit that I've never been a big fan of Sotique, though, She can certainly win and may get a fluid pace setup, but her odds may be a bit shorter than I would prefer to take. 

#8 PERSKY'S HEART pulled off a 27-1 upset in her most recent start over this course and distance, but she raced on her left lead for most of the stretch run that day and hasn't done much in two subsequent starts against New York-breds.  She should appreciate dropping into this conditioned claimer, but likes to race close to the pace.  There may simply be too much other speed for her to overcome.

I'm not thrilled about the race, but here goes nothing:

$50 Exacta:  Queens Or Better - Ms. Diller (6-13)
$50 Exacta:  Queens Or Better - Valuable Lady (6-9)

Best of luck to all.