04/06/2012 1:14PM

HandiGambling 277 (Keeneland Optional Claimer)


Friday's HandiGambling 277 exercise is the eighth race at Keeneland, an optional claimer for 4-year-olds and upward at about seven furlongs on the polytrack.


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 horse's name) for easier scoring.

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.

Best of luck to all.


As of this writing, there are no changes.

This is a fascinating race because many of these old war-horses have battled back from significant injuries. 

#9 SUCCESSFUL DAN may be the most talented horse in the race, but he hasn't started since being disqualified from first in the 2010 Clark Handicap (G1) at nine furlongs.  Now six, the gelding has only raced eight times in his career due to nagging suspensory issues (missed a year earlier in his career as well).  He is a perfect 3-3 over the Keeneland polytrack, however, and has run well fresh (won his maiden sprinting here in 2009).  Trainer Charles Lopresti has nursed Successful Dan through his problems, but one must wonder if this race is merely a prep for bigger and better (and at slightly longer distances) down the road.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 3, Successful Dan "was just galloping, looks good on the track." If he comes back the Successful Dan we all remember, he's going to be very tough to beat.  I can't let him beat me in multi-race wagers.

#2 CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN missed all of 2010 with a knee chip.  He won the Sir Shackleton Handicap to kick off his 2011 campaign, but returned lame following a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 4.  He's kept top company on dirt in his three subsequent races (Apriority, Force Freeze, Caleb's Posse, Calibrachoa, Emcee, etc.) and has the recency advantage over some of his top competition this afternoon.  He has yet to win on synthetic, but ran well to be second in the 2009 Phoenix over this polytrack and he excels at this seven-furlong distance.  He gets class relief and will make his third start of the form cycle today.  Capt. Candyman fits well here.  If he gets some pace to attack, he could prove very dangerous.

#7 GOLDEN YANK was originally going to be pointed to the 2011 Clark Handicap following a last-to-first win in the $100,000 Unbridled Stakes on turf at Louisiana Downs on September 10.  That plan didn't come to fruition, however, and he was sent to the sidelines.  He won sprinting in his career debut way back in 2007, but has mostly been a middle-distance performer for trainer Gary Thomas.  I wouldn't be surprised if he shows some more speed in this spot as he should be fresh off the bench, but will he be ready to go a demanding seven furlongs off only a single slow six-furlong work in the last 23 days?

#1 NICANOR, a full brother to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, hasn't raced since finishing fourth in the $60,000 Island Sun Stakes on grass at Belmont on May 12.  He can be a handful coming out of the gate and I'd like to see Rajiv Maragh put this guy on the front (all of his lifetime wins have come in wire-to-wire fashion).  There doesn't appear to be much speed in here and Nicanor may take them a long way for underrated connections.  Don't count him out.

When #4 STEVE'S DOUBLE was in form, he failed to parlay a perfect trip into victory in the Grade 3 Red Bank in 2009.  Now, he hasn't raced in over two years.  Who knows what we're going to get?  He won the Grade 3 Perrvyille over this course and trip, but that was almost five years ago.  I'm inclined to give him a race.

#8 A DIEHL made up late ground in his first start of the year and should improve switching back to synthetic.  He won here during the fall meeting for Rusty Arnold, but is a one-run closer at the mercy of race and pace luck.  If he gets hot fractions to attack, he could impact this at a price.  Whether he'll get enough pace is the major question.

#3 HOOFIT made his reputation by winning the Grade 3 Phoenix during the fall meeting.  We could probably forgive his three subsequent bombs as he didn't have a good trip in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and found two turns beyond his scope in both Florida races this year.  Turning back in distance and returning to synthetics should wake this gelding up a bit, but he's another that wants some pace up front.

#5 RESCUE SQUAD will make his first sprint appearance this afternoon as he's been plying his trade going long on turf and synthetic for Shug McGaughey.  A perfect 2-2 over this track, he could be using this as a prep for a longer race later in the meeting.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 4, Rescue Squad "finished well on his own." He figures to be lagging behind early in the hope of swooping down on the field late. 

#6 NOBLE'S PROMISE underwent ankle surgery after finishing seventh as the favorite in the Presque Isle Downs Mile on September 9.  He didn't do much running in the "FormBlog Convention" race at Gulfstream on March 11, but that was only his first race back and he didn't break well from the gate. According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for March 31, Noble's Promise was "was not asked for effort." He won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity over this course in 2009, but is a bit of an in-and-outer.

Tough, tough race.

1. Successful Dan
2. Capt. Candyman Can
3. Golden Yank

The HG Play:
$50 Exacta:  Successful Dan - Capt. Candyman Can (9-2)
$50 Exacta:  Successful Dan - Golden Yank (9-7)