06/04/2010 3:46PM

HandiGambling the Belmont

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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:

http://www.drf.com/tc/belmont/2010/142.html

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.

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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.

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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 

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

Cheers,

Dan