04/20/2012 12:40PM

HandiGambling 279, I Doubledogdare Ya!

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Friday's HandiGambling 279 exercise is the ninth race at Keeneland, the Grade 3 Hillard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the polytrack racing surface.

REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
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 GIVE YOUR NAME OR BLOG MONIKER AT THE END OF THE HG PLAY AND/OR ANALYSIS.
 
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.

***

Let's scratch #4 - PRINCIPAL ROLE

I usually take a skeptical view of solid dirt horses trying synthetic for the first time, but I'll attempt to make an exception to that "rule" with #8 JOYFUL VICTORY, a gray daughter of Tapit that was the beaten favorite in last year's Kentucky Oaks.  Trained by Larry Jones, Joyful Victory underwent knee surgery following a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and may just be rounding back into her best form.  She's made three starts this year and paired up Beyer tops in her last two races on dirt.  Sometimes, turf form successfully translates to polytrack, but it's hard to determine if Joyful Victory is a good grass horse based on her lone turf start.  That afternoon at Fair Grounds, Joyful Victory made her first start following the injury-induced layoff and was compromised by a very slow pace up front.  She still rallied to be second, however, and she has made a good impression in her recent morning trials on polytrack.  For the April 8 workout, the "Keeneland Clocker Report" on www.keeneland.com noted that she "went nicely on her own."  Furthermore, Joyful Victory may be forwardly-placed in a race lacking much in the way of early speed.  She should be prominent when the real racing begins.

While there is uncertainty about Joyful Victory's ability to handle the surface, there are no such worries with the classy #5 PACHATTACK, third behind Royal Delta and It's Tricky when last seen in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.  She set a track record at Woodbine in 2010 with a gate-to-wire tally in the $186,000 Maple Leaf Stakes and she blew away her foes in last year's Grade 3 Arlington Matron at Arlington.  Since the Breeders' Cup, Pachattack sold for $1,200,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November auction and this will be her first start for trainer Graham Motion.  Like Joyful Victory, Pachattack can be forwardly-placed, but the layoff is a slight concern and she'll be a short price.

#7 SEA LEVEL DRIVE looks like an intriguing longshot for Rusty Arnold.  The Malibu Moon filly has won three of four races on synthetic and will return to her favorite surface following a career-best Beyer effort behind the classy Zagora in the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes on grass at Tampa Bay.  This will be Sea Level Drive's third start of the form cycle and she won an entry-level optional claimer by 12 3/4 lengths at Arlington last year when going third off the bench.  She seems to be going the right way and may sit in a stalking spot for the backstretch run.

#2 KATHMANBLU hasn't been to the winner's circle since conluding a three-race win streak in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds on February 19, 2011.  She wasn't disgraced in her lone polytrack effort and her good turf form indicates that she may handle this surface just fine.  Her last two races weren't promising, but she went to the sidelines in October with liver inflammation.  According to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 14, she was slightly outworked by Bizzy Caroline, a Grade 3 turf winner.  If the good Kathmanblu shows up, she can factor, but I'm taking a wait-and-see approach off the bench.

#1 EL GRAN BAILADORA adores synthetic surface, but the one-run closer may not get enough pace to adequately setup her late flurry.  Beaten last time out at odds-on in the $50,000 Likely Exchange Stakes at Turfway, she'll face tougher opposition this time around.  Mike Maker is having an excellent year, but La Gran Bailadora's numbers are going the wrong way and the pace scenario may not work to her advantage.

#3 LUNAR MIST probably was in need of her recent race, the $50,000 Wishing Well Stakes going six furlongs at Turfway as it was her first start since the summer.  A two-time sprint winner over the Arlington polytrack, Lunar Mist is eligible to show speed as she stretches out 2 1/2 furlongs.  A stakes-winner on turf at Mountaineer, she finds a tough spot for her graded stakes debut.

#6 MY PAL CHRISY was listed as a vet scratch on February 25 and then never made an impression when chasing the top-class Awesome Maria in the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream on Florida Derby afternoon.  She is completely unproven on synthetics and prefers to utilize a late-running style, one that may not be flattered by today's pace. 

Selections:
1.  JOYFUL VICTORY
2.  PACHATTACK
3.  SEA LEVEL DRIVE

Here's my HandiGambling play:

$50 Exacta - Joyful Victory/Pachattack (8-5)
$50 Exacta - Joyful Victory/Sea Level Drive (8-7)

Best of luck to all.