06/07/2013 1:11PM

HandiGambling the Belmont

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The HandiGambling exercise for Saturday, May 8 is the eleventh race at Belmont, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/2 miles.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PREVIOUS BLOG POST.

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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."
 
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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.

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I don't have a very strong handle on this year's 3-year-old crop and don't have many powerful opinions for this year's Belmont.  For HandiGambling with funny money, I'll play three miles of special Daily Double action.

Friday's Brooklyn Handicap will be contested over an extremely wet track as there has been torrential rain in the New York area.  #5 PERCUSSION appreciates moisture in the track with two victories over "good" going including a game tally over FAST FALCON in the Albert the Great Stakes at Belmont on May 12.  Since being transferred to the Todd Pletcher barn, Percussion has won three of four with the only defeat coming against top handicap runners Game On Dude, Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. In the Albert the Great, Percussion used his good speed to dictate terms.  He was confronted by Fast Falcon turning for home and was actually passed by that rival in midstretch only to battle back grimly along the inside for the score.  Percussion is in excellent form, has the speed to take advantage of a moderate pace, and likes a good fight.  The main issue is the 12-furlong distance.  He's never raced longer than 1 1/8 miles, but there is some stamina in his female family as his dam is a half-sister to 12-furlong, Grade 3 winner Symphony Sid. 

I'm against horses like #1 BIRDRUN, who won this race a couple of years ago in gate-to-wire fashion, but seems off form and will once again wear two bar shoes.  #4 CALIDOSCOPIO won the Breeders' Cup Marathon last year, but he took advantage of a hot pace to win that event and has battled foot problems ever since.  I'm not sure if he'll get enough pace to adequately setup his late flurry.  I like #6 FAST FALCON, but he only has one win and refused to seal the deal against Percussion last time out.  Perhaps the additional distance is right up his alley. 

Percussion will get most of my weight in the double, but I'll also use QUICK CASABLANCA, a Chilean-bred making his second start off a long layoff for Christophe Clement.  He took a ton of money for his first North American outing despite being away from the races for over a year. and can move forward with that start under his belt.  A Group 1 winner at 10 1/2 furlongs on dirt in Argentina, Quick Casablanca also owns a Group 1 win on turf at this distance.  He's an unknown over wet going, but I think he's going to love stretching his legs another two furlongs.

Admittedly, #2 KEEP ME INFORMED is a reach but he loves wet going (never off the board from seven tries over wet) and exits a career-best effort on May 5.  He took advantage of a wicked pace that afternoon, however.  Despite being by Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, Keep Me Informed is also questionable at this distance.  Still, he'll be a big price and looks to be in improving form.

In the Belmont, I'm going to go back to #5 ORB.  If any runner deserves a mulligan, considering his prior consistency, it's the Derby winner.  Yes, he ran poorly in the Preakness but he was down inside for a good amount of the race and I don't think that was the best part of the track.  Orb should get some pace to attack and has the pedigree to last this 12-furlong trip.  He may not be as good as his Derby when he was aided by a quick pace and clean trip, but I don't think he's as bad as his Preakness.  His races prior to the Triple Crown this year were all good and he likes a wet track.

#7 OXBOW wouldn't be a surprise, but the Preakness winner may have to stalk and finish in the Belmont.  Note that all of his wins came in gate-to-wire fashion.  #2 FREEDOM CHILD looks like a strong new shooter and he romped over a wet Belmont track in the Peter Pan.  The darling of the clockers this week, he could be an overlay.  #9 REVOLUTIONARY is extremely talented and logical while GOLDEN SOUL may get the pace and track he appreciates. 

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:
$60 BROOKLYN/BELMONT DOUBLE:  Percussion/Orb (5/5)
$30 BROOKLYN/BELMONT DOUBLE:  Quick Casablanca/Orb (3/5)
$10 BROOKLYN/BELMONT DOUBLE:  Keep Me Informed/Orb (2/5)

Best of luck to all.

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The graded stakes video analyses should be up on the website by this evening.

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

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You can follow me on Twitter at DRF_DanIllman.