10/26/2012 11:11AM

HandiGambling (Belmont Turf)


This week's HandiGambling exercise is the sixth race at Belmont, a $35,000 'n1x' optional claimer for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course.



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 DIRECTLY 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 turf course is currently listed as "FIRM."

The portable rail is out 27 feet.


The likely favorite, #8 ULTIMATE CLASS, is certainly the horse to beat for Steve Asmussen as she looms the main speed while in extremely sharp form.  She cantered on the lead in her first start following the claim and was flattered somewhat when the fourth-place finisher returned to win a $20,000 'beaten' claimer on grass with a career-best 78 Beyer Speed Figure.  Ultimate Class is a horse that I will certainly use in multi-race wagers, but it can't be denied that she enjoyed a candy trip last time out.  While a similar journey could be in the cards today, she'll have to stretch her speed out to nine furlongs and won't offer much value in single-race bets.

Thus, I'll try to beat her with #7 FALBALA, a Ghostzapper filly that hasn't raced on grass since the Gulfstream meeting.  In that start, she was visually impressive against weaker competition.  Ridden that afternoon by Juan Leyva, Falbala saved ground near the rear of the field.  She raced in behind horses on the far turn before clipping heels and checking hard at the quarter pole.  Despite the stumble, Falbala came with a very strong late to run to fly by the rest of the field.  While she only earned a 74 Beyer Speed Figure that day (Ultimate Class received an 86 for her most recent win), she looked strong and the fifth-place finisher returned to win three of her next four on grass at Calder.  Since that Gulfstream effort, trainer Joe Orseno has tried to get Falbala on turf, but all three of those races were washed off the green.  Falbala must prove that she can hang with these from a class perspective, but she should be a solid price while in sneaky-good form.

#11 HUNTER FORWARD draws into the race from the also eligible list and will take a huge drop in class from a $50,000, 'n2x' optional claimer on September 21.  Hunter Forward has some early speed and it's possible that she'll put some heat on Ultimate Class in the early portion of this heat.  She's run some competitive races in the past, goes second off the layoff and seems a very good fit at this level. 

#2 DANCE WITH GIO defeated First Acquital at Monmouth two back and that one returned to win a $22,000, 'n1x' optional claimer at the Meadowlands with a 72 Beyer.  In Dance With Gio's most recent outing, she finished third in the $100,000 Maryland Million Ladies Stakes.  That race was won in course record time by Pagan Priestess, a filly that returned to take a $7,500 starter allowance at Laurel with a 74 Beyer (note that the seventh-place finisher of the Maryland Million Ladies returned to win a $20,000, 'n2x' optional claimer at Laurel with a 78 Beyer).   Dance With Gio is in very good form, but this represents a bit of a class jump as she leaps from the restricted ranks

#10 TRAFFIC SISTER drops out of the $100,000 Waya Stakes at Saratoga, a tough spot for her first start in almost a year, but this is a filly that hasn't done any running in her last three races.  She draws a difficult post position this afternoon, but it's quite possible the class relief will make all the difference.  I can't argue with any handicapper that takes a positive view on Traffic Sister, but she hasn't shown much life in a long time.

#6 EZPZ LEMON SQUEEZE can probably be forgiven for her most recent defeat as that was her first start off a long layoff and she may not have been completely fit.  That was a solid field she faced as the runner-up came back to finish second in the $175,000 Ticonderoga Stakes against good New York-bred competition.  There are angles here, to be sure.  She goes second off the bench, removes blinkers and has faced some pretty good horses in her short career.  I believe there's some upside, but she is still eligible for a 'non-winners of two' somewhere.

#4 DONTTANGOWITHMANGO just missed two starts back in her turf debut.  In her most recent effort, the $101,000 Mrs Penny Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds, Donttangowithmango finished evenly on dirt.  It's probably safe to draw a line through that effort and focus on the Saratoga grass start.  Donttangowithmango doesn't seem to have much early speed, but the addition of Hunter Forward to this field could help move the pace along.  Expect a solid late run from this filly, but she'd have to drift off her 4-1 morning line odds for me to wager to her.

#5 TOWN FLIRT faced the stakes-quality Pianist in both of her starts at Saratoga and that filly would be barred from the wagering in this race.  Still, she didn't do much running in either one of those races and now must deal with a short layoff.  I've liked this one in the past, but she hasn't broken through.  Perhaps the drop in class will help, but I believe she'll have to move forward quite a bit.

#1 HERE'S D'BRIDE scored by a scant nose at Penn National on September 22 (the sixth-finisher came back to win a Penn-bred, $16,000 claimer at Parx with a 71 Beyer) and this represents a tougher spot.  She seems like a one-run closer that will be at the mercy of race and pace luck.

#9 ARSENAL shouldn't be ignored. I thought she had a nice in-out trip at Saratoga two starts back, but only finished a neck behind the very sharp Cosmic Energy (came back to win an entry-level allowance at Belmont with an 86 Beyer before finishing fourth in a division of the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland on October 19).  Arsenal's last race is an utter throw-out as she was eliminated at the start.  I like this filly's tactical speed and that race two back puts her in the mix.

My top three selections are:
1. Falbala
2. Ultimate Class
3. Hunter Forward

For HandiGambling, I'll play:

$50 WIN - Falbala (#7)
$25 EXACTA BOX - Falbala/Ultimate Class (7-8)

Best of luck to all.


The handicapping videos for this weekend's major stakes races should be up on the site late this afternoon.  Here's a very quick preview:

...ARENA ELVIRA and AFLEETING LADY look very interesting in the Turnback the Alarm, but ALL DUE RESPECT may attempt to grab the early advantage from the rail...BUFFUM is a bit injury-prone, but he's talented when he's right and he may finally live up to his potential in the Bold Ruler.  Caixa Eletronica can never be ignored...Looking for a longshot in the DeFrancis Dash?  Perhaps ACTION ANDY can make your exotics at big odds...TAKE CHARGE INDY returns from an injury-induced layoff in the Fayette at Keeneland, but SALTO seems on the improve for Todd Pletcher...One day, CUSTOMER BASE will get some pace to properly aid her late kick. Perhaps that will happen Saturday at Santa Anita although VIONNET could trip out nicely from the rail...

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