06/04/2010 3:46PM

HandiGambling the Belmont


Saturday's HandiGambling 188 exercise is the eleventh race at Belmont, the 142nd running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles for three-year-olds. 

This race will be a multi-race HandiGambling so Daily Doubles, Pick 3's Pick 4's, etc. are allowed.

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.  Past performances are available on the following page:


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.

I'm posting this pre-changes.

Without the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners in the lineup, the race loses some of its luster, but it still appears to be a strong betting race with a deep and contentious field.

#11 FIRST DUDE is still eligible for  'N2L' allowance race, but he ran a corker when a longshot second in the Preakness.  He was hustled to the front from an outside post that afternoon, set legitimate fractions, and refused to crumble when Lookin At Lucky and company came to him in the stretch.  He finished an excellent second and one could make the argument that he wasn't 100% for the race (missed some time after the Blue Grass after popping a piece of gravel from a hoof). 
Ramon Dominguez will likely send First Dude to the front once again on Saturday afternoon and he'll have to in order to outhustle the quick #12 INTERACTIF.  If Dominguez can back down the pace, First Dude may have plenty left for the demanding final quarter-mile. 

The argument could be made that #5 FLY DOWN is the most explosive horse in the race and the Mineshaft colt has already beaten First Dude on two occasions.  Fly Down stubbed his toe a bit in the Louisiana Derby, but showed his affinity for this course when winning the local prep for the Belmont, the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes on May 8.  He made an eye-catching four wide bid on the far turn to gain command that day and widened his margin over #7 DROSSELMEYER despite changing back to his wrong lead in the final eighth of a mile.  He seems to be peaking at the right time for Nick Zito.

#8 GAME ON DUDE felt handsome in blinkers as he gained 30 Beyer points to thrash a very weak field in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby on May 8.  This will be the biggest test of the gelding's career, but he has wonderful tactical speed and may end up in the "Super Saver" spot tracking the early leaders.  Privately-purchased for $240,000 from his breeder prior to his debut, he was again privately puchased after the Florida Derby.  He didn't run well in the Derby Trial, but one has to wonder if he was feeling the after-effects of a lung infection that kept him out of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. 

#9 STATELY VICTOR may be better on polytrack and turf, but I don't think he ran terribly in the Kentucky Derby.  He took a couple of bumps in the opening furlong, got mud kicked in his face throughout while saving ground, split rivals entering the far turn, and finished evenly despite switching to his wrong lead late.  If there is a solid pace up front, Stately Victor may be one to capitalize at a big, big price.

#3 UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN was up against it in the Grade 2 Lexington over a very speed-favoring polytrack on April 17.  Taken to the back of the pack that day by Garrett Gomez, he attempted to rally against the grain of the bias, and never changed leads in the stretch.  He has shown flashes of true ability in his short career and has the build of a horse that could conceievably get this distance.

#6 ICE BOX is the deserving favorite based on his horror-trip second in the Kentucky Derby.  He's a one-run closer, however, and those type of horses are always at the mercy of race and pace luck.  Ice Box hasn't changed leads during the stretch run of his last two races, and one must wonder if he'll need that all-important energy boost at this demanding distance.  He's a solid, solid runner and the one to beat, but one that may be worth beating at a short price.

#10 STAY PUT enjoyed a good trip in winning a 'n2x' optional claimer at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day and his Beyers are a bit light when stacked up next to the top contenders.  He prefers to rally from well off the pace and will have to finish Ice Box, Stately Victor, and the other closers in order to win this.

#7 DROSSELMEYER is an interesting runner.  He was overhyped early in the three-year-old season, but continually underachieved at short odds.  He was looped when Fly Down took the overland route in the Dwyer as Drosselmeyer stayed in behind horses and gave away the momentum advantage.  Drosselmeyer has some tactical speed and is in the very capable hands of Billy Mott but I'm a bit concerned about the foot issues that have been discussed during this week.

#3 SPANGLED STAR was privately purchased following a maiden win at Laurel on January 2.  He was reportedly a vet scratch on April 9, and then finished third in the Grade 3 Withers due to a quick pace up front and a terrible trip suffered by D'Funnybone.  You will rarely get a big price on a runner that has Dutrow and Gomez in his corner, but Spangled Star must improve.

#4 MAKE MUSIC FOR ME ran better than most expected in the Derby, his first dirt start, but I'm not sure if this 12 furlong distance will be his cup of tea.  He's by the European sprinter Bernstein out of a Carson City mare and seemed tired in the final eighth of the Derby.  Perhaps he'll be a bit closer to the pace this time out and he did run some good races last year at two.

#12 INTERACTIF has good speed and it will be interesting to see if Javier Castellano takes the running to First Dude from the moment the gates spring open.  He owns a win on dirt, but I have a feeling he may be best on the turf course. 

#1 DAVE IN DIXIE seems overmatched.  His only win came going short at Del Mar last year and he didn't run very well in the paceless Illinois Derby last time out. 

I'm not getting very clever in HandiGambling, even with this week's multi-race options.

$100 Win - First Dude (11)

Best of luck to all.


Here are a couple of quick and dirty selections for this weekend's stakes races:

Just a Game:  Phola

True North:  Snapshot

Acorn:  Buckleupbuttercup

Manhattan:  Pinckney Hill

Hollywood Oaks (Sunday):  Vision in Gold

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.


Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's racing action (through Sunday):

Here are the lifetime past performances for last week's high Beyer performer:

Download Riley Tucker 


I know I've fallen far behind on questions, etc. but will get to them early next week.



meathead01 More than 1 year ago
how do I get on dans blog?
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Stella Thanks for the note regarding the ACORN. Martin (pronounced Marteen') Garcia did a great job for his "FIRST" time on the Belmont track. In a Grade I no less, with the overlooked Champagne D'Oro. A WIN! KA-CHING! I remember him saying in the post race interview while still on horseback, being really happy with his filly and his total experiance being at Belmont Park. A VERY Happy Camper :) Good for him. At least he did have a 'bit' of experiance on the track for his Game on Dude. You won't win them all..But I say, nice job Marteen! All in a days work, eh? SR Vegas
Annie More than 1 year ago
Keith L, Of course you could do a Steve T trifecta in that 4th race: Steve T, also known as TOUGH COOKIE T comes across as a MACHO JOE, but he really has a CANDY HEART. How's that for a nice paying trifecta. :) Annie
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Steve T Nice call on Switch. I didn't play the race but played your pick Temple City in the 7th. Looked like he might have needed the race. Maybe next time. Your 2nd choice Riviera Cocktail ran them all down with your 3rd choice getting 2nd at a good price. Nice job. Dick W
wilson More than 1 year ago
C, Yeah the Preakness pick 4 should have paid a lot better. I guess Lookin' At Lucky was so obvious that it turned into a pick 3 for everyone. But the Dubai World Cup pick 4 paid monstrously, the Derby pick 4 and the Belmont pick 4 both paid very well. Even if you played wide on Preakness day surely 1700 dollars back would be at minimum a mild profit and not a loss. I'm not saying press ALL in every race. You can always supplement a wide ticket with a narrower chalkier ticket or two in case the chalk scares you too much. I think some races are inherent crapshoots, like the Dirt Mile, the BC Sprint, almost any major turf stakes race in America... I'm not advocating that people give up handicapping and press ALL all the time. Maybe I'm just giving myself advice because I sometimes tend to pick the wrong 13-1 shot and these races only happen a few times each year. I'm not patient enough to wait until I can pick out a series of consecutive longshots on my own on one of these races days. I've had too many horses run like Crown of Thorns in last year's BC Sprint to try and pick out the right longshots in every race. Now I have to wait til November to try and crush one of these at Breeders' Cup. My pick four combined investment won't cost me thousands, but it may cost hundreds and the upside is clearly there.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas I only talk to myself after making bonehead wagers. So the answer to your question is yes, I talk to myself often :) Dick W
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Mike Romeo Congrats on your HG win. Nice job of handicapping / wagering ! John N Great line - "Charly finally got the lead out" ! SR Vegas At least you had Drossy in your exacta box. Dick W Quit beating yourself up over missing the tri and exacta with real $$$. At least you appear to be the only one to hit the HG tri even if it was only for $1. Dick W
Annie More than 1 year ago
Keith L, Re: BP Race 4: I agree that Macho Joe is a likely winner, along with Montana Knight. However, I'm not that excited about the Candy Ride, Candy Heart, that you mentioned. All the Candy Ride's aren't good, you know - STEVE T, don't you say a word. They only paid 12K for this one, half the sire's stud fee, which never looks good. Trainer doesn't look that great, and Coa is only riding 10 or 12% this year. He used to be better than that, wasn't he? Ms. Linda Rice is putting a filly in here against the colts and it's a turf sprint. Miss Hanky Panky looks very interesting to me. Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
JOHN N! Stop that! :) Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
Wilson, You had to bring up the 2008 Secretariat didn't you? That was the first time WINCHESTER screwed up my multi-race wager. And that was a Pick 6. :( He did it again on Sat., although it really didn't matter because I didn't have Champagne d'Oro anyway. But still. The horse has it in for me. Honestly, when I was making out my Pick 4 tickets, I actually had the thought, "What if Winchester does it again". Nah, he's going to scratch anyway if it doesn't rain. LOL See, DICK W, you're not the only one who talks to himself. :) Annie