01/26/2012 4:26PM

HandiGambling 268 (Santa Anita Maiden Claimers)


Thursday's HandiGambling 268 exercise is the sixth race at Santa Anita, a $50,000 maiden claimer at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds.

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 track is FAST.

#6 RON BURGANDY is ridden by Corey Nakatani and is 1 lb. overweight.


In multi-race wagers, I'll go three deep and pray.

#7 CHARLIE COMPANY improved with Lasix and the switch to Golden Gate's Tapeta surface, but he was well-bet for his career debut on dirt and a poor start may have led to his disappointing seventh-place finish.  He was a bit late to change leads in his most recent outing, a maiden special weight at Golden Gate on January 2, but that race has proven quite productive thus far (the favored winner returned to finish third in an entry-level optional claimer at Santa Anita with a 74 Beyer Speed Figure while the second- and fourth-place finishers came back to graduate next-out with 83 and 68 Beyers at Oaklawn and Golden Gate, respectively).  Charlie Company may have to rally from midpack here, but looks to have found a good spot for his return to Southern California.

#8 VISIBLE MARQ, trained by Bob Baffert, is a half-brother to stakes-placed router Masala (27-6-3-9, $258,098) out of stakes-placed router Countess Marq (12-3-4-0, $102,735).  A $5,000 yearling that was purchased for ten times that amount last June, Visible Marq should appreciate today's slightly longer distance.  He improved drastically when switched to dirt and dropped in for a tag, and may have raced against the grain of a speed-favoring track last time out.  He shows the typical Baffert quick workout leading up to this race and must be respected late.

#1 MIDNIGHT CON, claimed for $30,000 by Doug O'Neill out of last week's HandiGambling exercise (a $65,000 RNA as a March juvenile), will make his fourth start as a gelding.  He hung like a chandelier in his last two races and really didn't have an excuse on January 20 when relinquishing a late lead to 38-1 shot Skip Tony.  Perhaps O'Neill will have the remedy, but Midnight Con doesn't look like he wants to pass a parked car.  Perhaps a more aggressive ride from the rail will have him prominently-placed early.  I'll throw him in grudgingly as a 'B' or 'C' in my multiple-race wagers. 

As for the others,

#5 TUMMEL, a $47,000 RNA as a yearling that sold for $25,000 last year, goes out for the red-hot Art Sherman barn and may have been overmatched most recently against special weights (the winner of that December 10 affair, Out of Bounds, returned to win the Grade 3 Sham Stakes with a 99 Beyer Speed Figure).  In his prior outing, TUmmel rallied for second in his lone start to date on dirt.  He has solid speed figures, but I just don't like the way he's finished off his races thus far.  He is certainly capable of improvement and shouldn't be ignored.

#6 RON BURGUNDY has several angles in his corner.  A new gelding, he goes turf-to-dirt, route-to-sprint and drops in for a tag for the first time in his career.  A $62,000 yearling, Ron Burgundy, the first starter out of synthetic stakes-placed router Early Vintage, hasn't raced since August and could be outsprinted in the early going.

#2 CRUXUS raced evenly in his career debut at Hollywood on November 19.  He was a vet scratch on January 5 when reportedly sick and now returns as a first-time gelding for Vladimir Cerin.  Cruxus sold for both $5,000 as a weanling and as a yearling.  He is capable of improvement at good odds in a wide-open affair.

#9 CONGRATS SKI drops with speed and that is often a very potent angle in maiden races.  There isn't a ton of pace signed on in this maiden seller and Congrats Ski may attempt to take these gate-to-wire under the crafty Rafael Bejarano.  He is out of Grade 2 route winner Ms Brookski and faced a runaway winner in his most recent outing.  Congrats Ski fits very well at this level and should be prominent when the field swings into the stretch. 

#11 OUTPERFORM showed speed against California-bred maiden claimers in his career debut over cushion track, but dropped well behind in the opening stages of his most recent outing on dirt.  With an alert break, the Dan Hendricks-trained gelding could work out a nice outside stalking trip while clear of traffic.  The $17,000 yearling faces open foes for the first time in his career.

#3 TOWERING caught a promising field of maiden special weights in his career debut at Gulfstream (the runner-up returned to graduate for Todd Pletcher with an 84 Beyer) and now goes out for the high-percentage Mike Mitchell barn.  Don't be surprised if this one shows a bit more early speed this afternoon and it's always hard to simply dismiss a Mitchell-trained performer.

#4 CLOUD TOP finished evenly for third in his career debut at Hollywood and was flattered when three horses emerged from that race to graduate next-out (including Skip Tony, the longshot that outgamed Midnight Con last week).  He catches a tough group for this level, however.

#10 AWESOME MIKE, dismissed at 27-1 for his career debut against special weights, didn't have a very good trip.  He has worked quickly over this surface in the interim and has some pedigree appeal as his dam was a multiple stakes-winning sprinter.  Needless to say, he must improve off his debut.

Here's my HG play:

$50 WIN/PLACE - #7 Charlie Company

Best of luck to all.


Laura asked me to post some more information about our upcoming FormBlog convention at Gulfstream Park.  You can find out more at her website, www.ironmaidensthoroughbreds.com

The special Horseman rate is a 15% discount of the hotel's best selling rate at any giving time. Please know that their selling rates are dynamic and changes according to demand and hotel availability. Guests are able to make reservations on their own at any time by calling the Hampton Inn at (954) 874-1111 and requesting the Horseman rate. Reservations will be guaranteed based on availability only as they are not holding any rooms for the Formblog Convention.
 For online booking please visit www.hamptoninnaventura.com and enter this code 0560023856 under corporate account to get the discount.

p ensign More than 1 year ago
Mike very sorry if my post hit close to home, very happy you have a friend going back to my life now all the best pe
Winston Choo More than 1 year ago
Hoping David Milch and Michael Mann can do a 'treatment' of the Mike A/Formblog saga and bring it to a screen near you. Should be a sure-fire smash hit. I mean it'll have everything.....Pathos/Bathos, Comedy/Tragedy, Love/Hate, Superiority/Inferiority Complexes, Penis Envy, Longshot Envy, and of course, egos the size of the Solar System.
Laura More than 1 year ago
Michael, Alan & Lenny, Congrats on the outstanding handicapping from all of you. Just getting to the NHC is a real accomplishment, and Michael's thrilling win was (in my best female Trevor Denman voice) Uhnbeelievveabull! Congrats to Bernard's (and the IMT Syndicate) for Algorithms outstanding win in the Holy Bull. Curious about his pedigree profile? (Algorithms, not Bernards!) It's at Horse Racing Nation.com and the main IMT website: http://www.ironmaidensthoroughbreds.com/ Laura PS - Those headed to Gulfstream for the Donn Handicap on Feb. 11, please let me know. I'll be there with the ThoroFan Group and ya'll are welcome to join us. We'll have a few guest speakers from the racing industry and other perks.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Hey BLACK CAVIAR wins again !!! 17 for 17 ...Good on you, mate! I see she ran on Jan 27th.... Sorry I missed that one, here's the chart. http://www.racingpost.com/horses/result_home.sd?race_id=547405&r_date=2012-01-27&popup=yes#results_top_tabs=re_&results_bottom_tabs=ANALYSIS
Mike D More than 1 year ago
Michael, Alan and Lenny - let me be the latest in a long line of Formbloggers to congratulate you. Alan, I saw a post from SR Vegas indicating that you have already qualified for 2013. I know that the previous-year's champion is an automatic qualifier. Did they extend that to something like the top 10 this year? Or did you qualify for 2013 on Sunday at TI? I was SO close to qualifying three different times last year. I sure hope to get back to Vegas myself in 2013. There's nothing like it.
Steve T More than 1 year ago
David M, The context of the chat was whether the BC horses were "over the top" when they came back to race in November/December/January and whether you look at them with a jaundiced eye when they show up. We were pretty much in agreement that they were not a good bet - which is usually what sends me off to see whether we all just agreed to bull stronach... The other problem is that the BC's for the last five years end up rattling around your head as well and the next thing you know you have a real nice subdivision of castles in Skyland. I know that many times the Euros that show up for the BC are over the top, not surprising when the Arc is run in early October. What I found interesting in looking at the post BC records was the fact that the milers (on both surfaces) seem to just keep motoring along without any problems, and it seems like that was true for previous years as well. I do exempt To Honor and Serve and any others who had a long break and came back to the races in late summer. The other obvious question is how long is the period where you need to watch their post BC performance. I used 90 days, which seemed reasonable as anything over that and they are on a true layoff. I do agree that the close they are to the BC the more dangerous a bet they are - not only from a performance perspective but also low odds associated with the halo effect of the BC. So what did I learn from this little exercise? I would say that turf horses recover more quickly than dirt horses and that milers seem to avoid the November Swoon that affect sprinters and routers. I think also that any hard raced two year old is a bet against if they show back up before February. Funny about Hansen, in the chat we were all pretty much in agreement that although he has some serious gate speed, he was a bet against. He looked to be vulnerable to the late starting freshmen and his odds would suck swamp water.
Bear More than 1 year ago
As many of you have read, my wife and I were in Las Vegas this past NHC weekend and we had a GREAT time. We arrived on Thursday and later met SR Vegas and her husband Dan and their friend John, Lauren Stich, Alan, and Lenny for conversation, drinks and dinner. On Friday we stopped by the TI to check on how Alan, Lenny, and Michael were doing and were very happy to find out that Alan was in second place. SR Vegas was, of course, there and Turnbackthealarm and her husband Jeff were also there. After seeing an afternoon show on Saturday, we again stopped by the TI to check on the final results and got there in time to meet Michael and his wife before the official announcement was made. How exciting for everyone there. Sunday morning we met SR Vegas, Alan, Lauren, Turnbackthealarm and Jeff for breakfast and much conversation. Alan--thanks again for breakfast. To: Michael (Lil Chok) Beychok - all I can say is WOW!!! Alan - 7th Place is Outstanding. Lenny - Excellent NHC showing. SR Vegas - Thank you so much for everything you did to make this a very enjoyable experience for us. We know it takes alot of time to plan and make the reservations for all the get togethers so again we say thank you. You made us feel very welcome. Everyone - There are many, many fun things to do in Las Vegas so if you have never been there, we would recommend it. And, if you have been to Las Vegas before and did not make the short trip to see Hoover Dam, this is another recommendation. PS--We got back to Omaha about midnight on Sunday and I was going to write this note on Monday but, the forecast was for a high of about 65 degrees so I decided to play golf instead. Needless to say, it is very unusual to be playing golf in Nebraska in January.
David M More than 1 year ago
On the HBO series Luck: I generally avoid sport genre movies like the plague. If they are sport centric (lots of game action) I find it cheesey and unwatchable. If it is character driven or outside the lines often those have more interest to me. When it comes to horse racing movies I tend to think they are generally sub-standard but I suppose they have marginal appeal to the masses. I watched Secretariat with my family and they loved it. Me not so much. As for Luck, episode 1 was not exactly riveting TV but I suppose they wanted to introduce the characters. The horse breakdown scene was heart wrenching (thanks for the heads up Annie). I just fast forwarded. Why must we have this scene in almost every racing movie or show? Breakdowns happen but non-fans must think this happens every race. The tote board scene was annoying. "$2.687M to be paid out today". Maybe it was the last day of meet and they meant minimum otherwise that seemed off. The agent character was annoying but hopefully I can warm to him. I did love the trainer telling the jockey to go outside only to see the jockey end up inside and begging for some room. That plays out many times every day. Jockeys hear but rarely listen. I never complain about outside trips but I digress. I will give this one time to develop. Much like a raw 2 year old colt maybe it will blossom. The fact the series connections have a racing background gives me some hope plus the actors are quality. Hopefully the script matches the acting talent. Seeing Santa Anita is so grand. I have only been once and it was in the off season. A guard volunteered to take me on a tour sharing his and the track's history. What a nice gentelmen. I took a mountain of photos only to have my camera stolen at the airport. Oh well, at least I still have the memories.
David M More than 1 year ago
On Steve T.’s post concerning BC starters next races. Thanks for sharing the chart. These kinds of summaries give clarity and your work on this site is much appreciated. By my count (be careful CPA’s are the last folks who should tally anything) I have it cumulatively 51-13-12-3. I don't know the context of the chat unfortunately but had some thoughts based on the charts and th BC in general. One question - I wonder what kind of ROI these types have based on 60? In my mind I think the ROI would increase with time off but I am often very surprised. I am on record as saying I tend to avoid BC contestants first back. Saying that, the element of time makes a difference to me. First back in 3 weeks in the Clark couple with low odds (no way) but first back two months later in Malibu is a whole new ball game to me. My approach gathered from limited experience with high end trainers is they basically go all in at the BC. The horse is pointed and asked for their “beyond” maximum effort due to purse size, possible Eclipse honors, and high entry fees. I have seen owners and trainers not get the desired result during the BC and wheel back in the Clark, Pocahontas, Cigar, or Jockey Club to name a few. Coming back in 3 weeks as a knee jerk ego reaction to a loss for me is a play against. I don’t keep records just know whether I have money in my wallet or horse betting account. If I do, I assume that something somewhere is working. Returning BC horses to me can be over the top not always To Honor and Serve. Outliers exist and THS was on improve throughout latter part of year not the inverse. Trainers may or may not know it, may know and be in denial. Discipline is tough to find in these cases. Owners are just as bad. The kicker is value. I just don’t see many BC horses offering value in quick wheel back situations. The parking attendant can spot a drop from Grade 1 to the Valedictory or Jockey Club. I just use those situations to play against getting double value on a lower profile horse that may have been pointed to this event. Playing this angle you will take some bruises. Playing against 4-5 shots or lower means you wad up tickets while a lot of fans sitting next to you are ecstatic and doing cart wheels. I played against Hansen this weekend but it had little to do with the BC but everything to do with odds I thought would be in the 1-2 range. Was wrong there as he actually was 4-5. Now we are almost 90 days removed the BC for me it is a whole new season, trainers have whole new game plans, horses have recovered. So the play against BC angle goes back in moth balls until late November 2012. I must admit 13-51 or 25% was higher than I had anticipated. Thanks Steve T.
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
"January 28, 2012 09:42 PM Posted by Mike A Michael........... Lil Chok...... Great Job son......just great, Heart felt congrats from Laura and I......Nothing much impresses me anymore....but son.....I'm impressed, way to ride em to the finish. Mike A" XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX It seems some of the posters on here love to quote out of context{you know, forget to complete the entire quote}. So, I hope you'all don't mind if I do the same......see above quote....... So what if Mikey talks in the 1st person...That's nothing new..So, what's the big deal ? I personally think some are misconstruing his comment. He said nothing impresses him much, but if you add his next sentence, he goes on immediately to say>>"I'm impressed...." So why was this left out of his quote ? This is what people do..This is quoting "Out-of-Context 101".......Therefore, this whole discussion is a way to insult people by distorting the facts. I've been accused of not reading. That is malarkey. I can read..I also am very good at "reading" between the lines. Mikey blogs that he is impressed, & somehow it's turned into he's NOT impressed..You got me swinging on that one.... My conclusion is Mike said he was impressed by Little Chok & now we use Mike as the initiator of bad vibes, when in fact it was the insult to Mike & the "I" references that began this nonsense in the 1st place.. Go ahead, fire away..........I think I got this thing figured out pretty good..You couldn't leave well enough alone, right ? You had to start ? I had my run in's w/Mikey..Butts: I call a spade a spade on this one.......Somethings should have left alone. Now, I'm compelled to dime in too..It should have been different: BUTTS: ???
Jerry More than 1 year ago
Curt V well said
Annie More than 1 year ago
Curt V, I have to agree with you. My take from his original post was exactly the same as yours. We all know that nothing much impresses Mike anymore, but he most assuredly said that he was impressed with Mike Beychok's awesome performance. I do not think his comment deserved the aftermath at all, and was sorry to see it. I am always saddened and confused as to why periodically there has to be snarling at each other like a pack of wild dogs. Sigh! Annie
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
Curt V.: No quoting Mike A. out of context for me...I responded with a funny based on his Jan 30th, 2:13PM posting which was classic Mike at his best, belittling the Tournament, citing his and his Uncle's superiority, and explaining his attraction to the "believers" as being that he can handicap and wager successfully just as well as he say's he can. I know the context in which Mike posts...it's contained in that first sentence of the last para on Jan 30th with two "I s" and four "me s", an amazing display of hubris! That, sir, is the "context" that the discerning read him in. Keith L.