07/06/2012 1:17PM

HandiGambling 288 (Leematt Stakes)


This week's HandiGambling 288 exercise is Friday's sixth race at Presque Isle Downs, the $75,000 Leematt Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-olds and upward.



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.


The approximate post time for this races is 7:30 ET. 

As of this writing, let's scratch #3 ROADHOG and #4 CATALACTIC.


#6 MOTION TO APPEAL makes the second start following a layoff in the Leematt.  A three-time route winner, Motion to Appeal was only beaten a length in his return, a race that featured a merry-go-round pace (the 1-2-3-4 runners at the pace call ran that way at the finish).  Motion to Appeal tried to get involved with a three-wide bid on the final turn and tried all the way to the wire, eventually losing by only a length.  He earned a career-best Beyer in that heat and can improve with the effort under his belt (note that he won second off the layoff at Presque Isle Downs on June 30, 2011).  Motion to Appeal has good stalking ability and can sit just off the expected solid pace.

#1 GONDWANAN has won four of his last five races for high-percentage trainer Tony Dutrow and may work out a good ground-saving, pace-tracking trip under Mario Pino.  Despite a layoff of almost eight months, Gondwanan showed courage by outgaming next-out 83-Beyer winner Lubango in an 'n2x' optional claimer at Parx on May 5.  Gondwanan has only finished off the board once in his career - his debut in 2010 - but this will be his first start on a synthetic track and it will be interesting to see if he can transfer his good dirt form to the Tapeta.  Note that Dutrow won the 2008 Lil E. Tee Stakes at Presque Isle with first-time synthetic runner Double Down Vinman.

#12 RYAN'S GIFT won the 2010 Lil E. Tee Stakes going two turns at Presque Isle and he finished just ahead of Motion to Appeal in that June 14 allowance race.  Like his uncoupled stablemate, Motion to Appeal, Ryan's Gift was making his first start of the year in that event and he pressed the eventual winner all the way around the track before dropping a close decision. Ryan's Gift drew a tough post position on the far outside, however, and may be used leaving the gate in order to avoid a very wide trip.  Ryan's Gift just missed in this race last year as the even-money favorite and looms a threatening presence once again.

#2 JETHRO JR. has good early speed, but has yet to race on synthetic and has been away from the races since September 24.  Let's forgive the 23 1/4-length defeat that day at Parx as he chased a pace-pressing winner over a speed-favoring muddy track.  Two back, Jethro Jr. earned a competitive number on dirt and his solid turf race from last year gives some hope that he'll run well on this Tapeta track.  Jethro Jr.  has obstacles to overcome, but should be forwardly-placed when the real running begins. 

As I mentioned in the DRF Race of the Day Video, I've never been a big fan of #5 CAT PARK, but he does go out for the always-dangerous team of Midwest Thoroughbreds and Jamie Ness.  Cat Park won his maiden over this course and trip way back in 2009 but, while graded-placed on grass in his career, hasn't showed a true killer instinct.  He lost his last three races at 5-2 odds or less for Ness and he blew a clear late lead three back at Tampa Bay Downs after drifting out considerably and hopping back to his left lead nearing the wire.  His connections merit respect, but I have a feeling that Cat Park will be bet down from his morning line of 5 to 1 and could be a slight underlay.

#9 SHELLBACK beat two next-out winners over this course and distance on June 6 and is in excellent form for the underrated Gerald Bennett.  He will be taking a step up in class in this spot, however (the two next-out winners scored at River Downs and Thistledown, respectively, before coming back to lose at Presque Isle). Shellback is certainly capable of putting back-to-back wins together and he figures to get a proper pace setup in the Leematt.  He's an interesting contender and should be a solid price.

#10 STORMY SPIRIT absolutely walked the dog on a moderate pace in his most recent start and I'll view his 76 Beyer Speed Figure with some skepticism considering the easy trip he received.  This time around, he projects to face some pressure in the early portion of the race.  Perhaps Dale Beckner will opt to sit off Jethro Jr. in the hope of inheriting the lead turning for home, but I just don't like to take horses coming off candy trips when they face tougher.

#11 POLLARD'S BOY is talented, but the sophomore gelding stretches out a quarter-mile in his first start against older runners while trying a new surface.  He looked green winning the Pennsylvania Nursery on December 11, but gave a good account of himself in the slop off a six-month freshening at Penn National most recently.  He graduated at this distance in a solid maiden heat last year and has the back races to contend, but he does have lots of questions to answer.

#7 LAST EMPIRE has been on the board in his last dozen starts and he wheels back in two weeks following an entry-level allowance victory over this course and distance.  Trained by Dale Capuano, Last Empire is a hard-hitter that arguably, finds Tapeta to be his preferred surface.  Still, his usual race (Beyers in the mid-70's) may not be enough to get it done tonight.

#8 SILVER DIB was no match for Last Empire at long odds in his first start against winners and needs to step up considerably in order to upset this contentious group.

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:

$50 Exacta:  Motion to Appeal - Gondwanan (6-1)
$50 Exacta:  Motion to Appeal - Ryan's Gift (6-12)

Best of luck to all.


Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's graded races will be up on the site later today/early tomorrow.

I'll be taking vacation next week so I'll see you in a bit.

Have a great weekend. 


Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish Handigambling was the Marvin this week on opening day at Saratoga. $100 exacta Jackson Bend over Golddigger's Boy
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
BSB Go Yankees!!!!! Jeanne, a Yankees fan since the 70's!!!! Lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DavidM9999, Some time ago you asked for my assessment of Miss Cato and Nayarra. I did submit a response, but it either failed the moderator test, or simply disappeared. I am re-submitting a slightly shorter version, not for vanity, but because your post raises an interesting handicapping point. Miss Cato started her career in the very lowest category of racing. She won and in recent months she has improved considerably. Even so, her 4 victories don't include a Stakes race, although 2nd place in a listed fillies race was a very good effort against a VERY progressive horse. Nayarra is a more complex assessment. Only one win in 14 starts, but it was a Group 1, albeit in an odd race in Italy. Despite her race record, she was sufficiently well regarded to be entered in the 2 fillies Classics, but she continued to disappoint, running 9th of 17 in the 1000 Gns and then stone last in the Epsom Oaks. Without trying to be overly influenced by this weekend's race, neither horse is close to my Top 25. As for a Top 50, only if Miss Cato continues her upward progress; or if Nayarra ever finds the form to prove that her Italian win wasn't a fluke. On my more general handicapping point, I wonder if US racing fans (sorry, I meant North American racing fans) are a little hard on your grass horses. I would be very intrerested to know what the Euro success rate actually is. I agree that most Euro horses would beat most North American horses on grass, but is that superiority sometimes over-stated? Certainly if a Euro horse travels at or near their best level of form, they must be considered potential winners. But where a horse travels when currently below their best form, I believe you have to be more questioning. Clearly the prize money is a major attraction, but perhaps another factor is that the horse can longer cut it in Europe. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jimi, did Eddie Haskell smirk ? If you think he did its worth at least $2 . :-) The EH smirk is almost as reliable as if I say , I'll eat my hat if that horse wins ! Sombrero con arroZ y frijoles again !! yuck! Comitas muy malo. My hat bill gets expensive sometimes. Van Savant, is there any way to prepare a hat to make it more palatable ?? Speaking of hats ... I better take a look at the form for the DMR opener. BSB
Keith More than 1 year ago
Get one of those old style top hats made of BEAVER FUR? LOL! Keith L.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My drinking story. About 30 years ago my best friend was a heavy beer drinker, functioning alcoholic with a weak stomach. One night he pulls into his garage and aspirates. One minute he is healthy as a horse and the next few minutes dead as a doornail. His best drinking buddy died about 15 years ago from cirrhosis of the liver. Please, no condolences. That was thirty years ago. I have new best friends and I wake up grateful every day that I have one more day. My admiration truly does go out to all of you that have quit the aqua vitae poison. Penguinymous
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
+1 VQ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To Ned Daly and BSB From Barry Meadows *Money Secrets at the Racetrack* in his chapter on Exactas and Quinellas: *Psychological horrors. Foremost of these is seeing your 15-1 key horse cruise home by four without the correct place horse. Or perhaps you invest $90 in the exacta and get back only $27, which gives you the thrill of both winning and losing in a single transaction* From BSB's statement of favorites winning to placing to showing ratio of 3-2-1. If my memory serves, some studies show 33% win, 55% place and 65% show, for the favorite in the money. Which is 33 times out of 100 the favorite wins, another 22 times places and another ten times shows. Hence, 3-2-1. How to use this in your handicapping? The favorite is always the key to a race. Certainly a place to start thinking about the race. Could this be where the false favorites should enter your thought process? If the favorite is only going to run in the money 65% of the time, then 35% of the time they aren't and they could be considered a false favorite. If the favorite is vulnerable, then look around. If you can't beat the favorite: DON'T! RonZ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CurtV , I doubt its a record ,buttZ... the Phils do seem to own the Dodgers this millenium. I'm not a fan of the Dodgers so its no skin off my left onion. :-) The Dodgers are from Brooklyn ! I've always liked * Los Angeles * They're the real home team. The Dodgers fill their seats with interloping foreigners from NY :-) They are so thick around here you can't turn around without bumping into one ! :-) Damn Yankees ! We have a serious one-way immigration policy in California ;-) We need to put a fence around NY !! While were on the subject of baseball . I've always thought it should be the Pittsburgh Phil's and the Philadelphia Cheese Steaks :-) My favorite team names are the Flippin Birds & the Shamokan Dopes :-) Have you ever been to a Dopes game Slewster ? Or is Shamokan to long a drive ? A friend of mine used to coach in Napa Valley. His team was called The Crushers ( grape crushers:-) Its the only high school team in the country called The Crushers. My brother -in -law used to play fastpitch softball for a team sponsored by Pick Your Part that was called The Dismantlers. That was a cool name. That was Frankie's real name .... Dry and no rain !! AmaZing ! hehehehe :-) Yep, dry & no rain for Del Mar this meet either . LOL. Dry and no rain at the fair meets . Dry and no rain at Oak Tree either. LOL. Dry and no rain at Holly. (maybe a day or two near the end) LOL. Nice talkin' to ya Goatman. Catch some winners at the Spa. BSB
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Dick W., No empathy from me my man..& no commiserations either.....stomach pills ? Indeed.. CVS............
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
BSB, C'mon now..The 4 Seasons was too easy. I just love these guys who change their names. That's why I posted his real name. & BTW: I just saw this stat that the Phillies have won their last 7 games @Dodger Stadium. Is that some kinda record for a non-divisional team ? @Dodger Blue mind you ? You know that I know you are ripe full of Stats....... Curtis V. Slewster,,,,,,,,,Dry & no rain for the SPA on Friday...........
jimi More than 1 year ago
Dan You and Mike (¿did I see him smirk) dismissed the Italian raced Facoltoso pretty quickly from the Race of the Day, but he is well bred and gets Lasix and Gomez for Callaghan Simon. I know you know (You Know I Know is a scratch) that it's Gomez' 2nd call (and you don't give much *weight* to the jockey when handicapping) but the Oceanside always splits. My question is what did Mr Winner pay for him? Or does one just have to *know*. How about it 10cent? ;)