09/22/2011 12:35PM

HandiGambling 251: New York Breds at Belmont

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Thursday's HandiGambling 251 exercise is the eighth race from Belmont, a $25,000/N2X optional claimer for New York-breds at six furlongs on the dirt. 

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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Let's scratch #5 A SMART JUDGE and #7 MISSISSIPPI TOO.

SIMON HUSBANDS rides #6 TURNED TO GOLD.

#1 LADY VI is one pound overweight.

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I must admit that I'm not going to get too clever in this race.  I like the three morning line favorites and will use them in multi-wagers while sprinkling in a mild upsetter.

I usually dislike one-run closers because they are always at the mercy of race and pace luck, but #11 LADY ON THE RUN seems like she's in excellent form for trainer John Morrison.  A perfect 2-2 at Belmont, Lady On the Run will attempt the same turf-to-dirt move that resulted in her 'n1x' allowance victory here on June 23.  That afternoon, she was bumped a bit at the start and was completely outsprinted in the early going.  She made a strong advance on the far turn, split rivals in upper stretch, eased out and won with a minimum of fuss over #10 SHE'S GOT RULES. 
In her most recent outing, Morrison placed Lady On the Run against males and the filly wasn't disgraced when passing tired horses to finish fourth.  With a quicker pace in that spot, she may have done better. 
Lady On the Run needs early to adequately setup her late kick, but her last few dirt races have been rock-solid and she should be charging hard in the lane.

#4 PAGE BY PAGE, a lightly-raced daughter of Read the Footnotes, has turned the corner since returning from a short layoff on July 7.  She's won two of her last three races including a good 'n1x' win at Saratoga on August 26.  I don't think she beat the best field in the world that afternoon, but she fits on Beyers, has good tactical speed and the recent bullet workout allays fears of a bounce performance.

#9 MYRTLE'S GRAY is in sharp form.  The gray filly has won her last two races, but one of those victories came on turf and the other occurred over a muddy surface.  Like Page by Page, she has good tactical speed and shouldn't be too far off the lead when the real running begins.  I was disappointed that she failed to change leads last time, however.  Note that the seventh-place finisher from that race returned to win on grass at Saratoga with a 77 Beyer Speed Figure.  Again, as with Page by Page, she shows fast recent workouts.

#2 ENNISKILLEN, like the top selection, is a late-running sort that needs some pace help, but she seems like an intriguing price play.  She never could make a dent at Saratoga, but now returns to her favorite surface (2-3 at Belmont, 1-15 elsewhere) and switches to the red-hot Javier Castellano.  Enniskillen earned a competitive Beyer two starts back.  While not the most consistent sort in the world, she merits 'C' consideration on my Pick 4 tickets and can be used on the bottom of exotic wagers. 

As for the others:

#1 LADY VI was no match for runaway winner Risky Rachel in her first start following a short layoff at Saratoga and is certainly capable of moving forward with that race under her belt.  The only horse to return from that Risky Rachel race thus far was sixth-place finisher Freud's Notebook, a next-out 77 Beyer winner in a $10,000 beaten event at Belmont on September 15.  Lady Vi, a juvenile stakes-winner, must break from an intimidating inside post position.  Note that the last time she drew the rail sprinting at Belmont, she broke very badly.

#3 BAILZEE was no match for Lovely Lil in her last two races, but that New York-bred is jumping up into graded competition in this weekend's Gallant Bloom.  Two back, Bailzee may have been up against the grain of a speed-favoring track and she was wide in her most recent appearance.  She hasn't won since March 7, 2010, but is eligible to be a bit closer to the pace under her new rider, the hustling C C Lopez. 

#6 TURNED TO GOLD is the most prolific winner of the group as she's reeled off five straight victories at Finger Lakes.  Trained by the high-percentage horseman, Charlton Baker, Turned to Gold is a versatile sort that seems equally comfortable on or off the pace.  The par for this level is 80 and Turned to Gold has only cracked 70 once in her life.  This race provides a good class test for Turned to Gold.

I'm guessing that #8 SALTAMONTES is the controlling speed, but she hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire since her stakes win at Belmont on September 23, 2010 and she has a bad habit of drifting throughout her races.  While it's quite possible that Saltamontes was a precocious juvenile that has not improved off her fine 2-year-old form, forgiving handicappers may give her excuses for all of her races this year (off layoff in Park Avenue Stakes on May 8, 2011; may not have liked turf on June 5; caught sloppy going on July 7; chased Lovely Lil over speed-favoring track on July 27; no match for razor-sharp Risky Rachel last time).  Expect Saltamontes to be on the engine for high-percentage barn, but she has to improve off her recent races.

#10 SHE'S GOT RULES took down 'n1x' allowance competition at Belmont on July 17, but she missed the Saratoga meet and there are a few gaps in her work tab.  None of the five horses to return from that July 17 race were able to crack the trifecta next-out and She's Got Rules must improve on her 68 Beyer top to upset these.

For HandiGambling, I'll play it like this:

$40 Exacta:  Lady On the Run - Page by Page (11-4)
$40 Exacta:  Lady On the Run - Myrtle's Gray (11-9)
$20 Exacta:  Lady On the Run - Enniskillen (11-2)

Best of luck to all.