10/05/2011 2:48PM

HandiGambling 253 - Hawthorne Turf Sprint


Wednesday's HandiGambling 253 exercise is the ninth race at Hawthorne, a $50,000 optional claimer with multiple conditions for 3-year-olds and upward at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

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 turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #6 SPECTACULAR KID and #13 ST. JOE


#12 SPEIGHT THE HALO drew a tough outside post position, and isn't the most consistent runner in the world, but he'll make his first start for Kerry Zavash, a trainer that sent out Hawthorne off-the-claim winner Miss Doctor Ty on turf last fall.  Zavash's only turf performer over the past 30 days was Rainy Rain, who scored at 5 1/2 furlongs on September 23 at Arlington at 46-1 odds.  Over the past two years, Zavash is 2-6 (33%, $6.43 ROI) with runners going first off the claim.  Speight the Halo looked good beating $25,000 claimers at Indiana Downs four back and was in between horses during the first three furlongs of his most recent start.  He'll have his work cut out stepping up in class from this post, but is worth a price chance.

#8 LIVE FROM APPOLLO cracked the trifecta in his last six starts on turf.  The veteran is closing in on a half-million dollars in earnings and just beat the top choice in a $25,000 claimer at Arlington on September 18.  Trainer Ingrid Mason has sent out nothing but live horses at the meet thus far and Live From Appollo may work out another good tracking trip from the outside.  He did have to work pretty hard in his most recent race, however, and may be due for a regression wheeling back on 17 days after earning his best Beyer Speed Figure since 2009. 

#1 ROYAL EXPRESS, a stakes-winner on the dirt, may be forwardly-placed from the rail despite removing blinkers for barn that is 0 for the last 22 on grass.  Although he failed to hit the board in two previous tries on grass, he earned competitive numbers in those races while tackling stakes horses.  Royal Express only has one race since April and may have to work hard from the rail, but offers a bit of value dropping out of the stakes ranks.

#10 BIG LOOIE chased the impressive Shrewd Operator when finishing ahead of Royal Express in the White Oak Handicap over the Arlington polytrack on June 25.  He bombed very badly in his most recent start as the favorite, however, and has yet to prove himself on the turf.  A multiple stakes-winner on the main track, Big Looie has the back class and numbers to factor in the exotics at juicy odds, but that last race has me scratching my head.

#3 WEKIVA WACHEE rallied from off the pace to best Speight the Halo at Arlington on September 4 and may get enough pace to adequately setup his late kick this afternoon.  Third in the key-race Arlington Sprint Handicap three starts back, Wekiva Wachee is in excellent form.  The one-dimensional closer will need racing luck in this bulky field, but wouldn't be a surprise.

#9 FIRST TRUMPET earned a solid number beating entry-level allowance runners over the Arlington sod on September 22 and his trainer, Paraskevas Mitchell went 7-26 (27%, $2.79 ROI) over the past year at Hawthorne.  A versatile performer, First Trumpet has the tactical speed to work out a nice tracking trip from the outside. 

#7 HOODWINKED may find this distance a bit short.  The late-kicker's three lifetime wins came in routes and he'll need pace and race luck in his attempt to rally from the back of the pack.  He had some traffic trouble as the favorite last time out and goes out for top connections, but I think this Illinois-bred would appreciate slightly-longer races.

#11 ALL TANKED UP returned from a long layoff to finish a solid third, ahead of Speight the Halo, when entered for $40,000 at Arlington on September 4.  He has a history of moving forward in his second start back so All Tanked Up, a versatile performer, may improve here at a good price. 

#2 TELLME ALL ABOUTIT has won three straight and her potent early speed should come into play for a red-hot trainer-jockey combination.  None of the three horses to return from that September 10 heat came back to finish better than sixth, however, and Tell Me Aboutit, a three-year-old filly, must face battle-tested older males here.  She's sharp, but this looks to be a tough spot.

#4 HOLD THAT BROAD hasn't been out of the trifecta in his last six races, but he also hasn't run since April 2, and seems like a better performer on dirt.  He has yet to crack the superfecta in five previous races on turf.  Hold That Broad looms a pace factor, but the surface is a big question mark.

#5 YANKEE INJUNUITY, the winner of the Arlington Sprint in 2009, is only 1-14 since returning from a strained suspensory and that win came via perfect trip going two turns at Indiana Downs.  He'll go second off the layoff while turning back to a comfortable distance and he has winning experience over this course.  Still, he's going to have to work out a trip from off the pace.

I'll take a stab.

$50 Win-Place - Speight the Halo (#12)

Best of luck to all.