08/13/2011 10:27AM

HandiGambling the Beverly D.

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Today's HandiGambling 246 exercise is the ninth race from Arlington, the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 3/16 miles on the turf.

 
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 names of the horses.
 
Past performances are available at the previous blog post.
 
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.

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The turf course is listed as GOOD. 

The Beverly D. is usually a fun race filled with international flavor and this year's edition is no different.  The Beverly D. kicks off a 50-cent Pick 4 and is the second leg of the $1 Festival Pick 3 and I'll go three deep in those wagers with these top contenders.

BLOCK A:  "Multi-race plays"

#1 STACELITA has enjoyed a successful career in Europe, winning four Group 1 races between 10 and 12 furlongs in France.  She made her North American debut against males in the Grade 1 United Nations on July 2 and was certainly in the mix before fading to a close third in the late stages.  She adds Lasix and jockey Ramon Dominguez to her already strong arsenal and figures to save valuable ground from the inside post in her first start for high-percentage trainer Chad Brown.  Stacelita showed an inclination to track slow paces in several of her international tries and Dominguez may attempt to work out the old "pocket" trip.  Remember that she's back in with fillies and mares and her lifetime record against members of her own sex is 8-6-2-0. 

#6 RIVER JETEZ goes out for one of the top trainers in the world in Mike de Kock.  This outfit has sent some live horses to Arlington Park as Irridescence just missed by a head in this race in 2007 while Archipenko fell three-quarters shy in the 2008 Million. A confirmed world traveler, River Jetez is a Group 1 winner in South Africa, a Group 2 winner in Dubai and is Group 1-placed in Singapore.  River Jetez can perhaps be forgiven for her most recent defeat in England as The Racing Post reported that she was a late entrant to that race and "wasn't fully tuned up."  Although she's getting up in age, River Jetez has that race under her belt and adds Lasix for the first time here.  Her win in the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes against fillies and mares earlier this year in Dubai puts her in the equation.

I wonder if #8 PACHATTACK is slightly better on synthetic surfaces than she is on the grass, but there isn't a ton of speed in this race and Pachattack may attempt the gate-to-wire tactics she successfully employed in the Maple Leaf Stakes at Woodbine last year.  Pachattack was sixth in this race last year, but she completely missed the break so you can draw a line through that defeat.  Trained by Gerard Butler, Pachattack lacks the international credentials of Stacelita and River Jetez and she missed the local prep for the Beverly D. with a minor physical setback.  Still, she was in very good form prior to the layoff with a victory over two next-out winners in the Grade 2 Arlington Matron over polytrack and can offer some wagering value. 

BLOCK B:  "They can certainly win and I'm scared of them"

#7 CHEETAH, a lightly-raced 4-year-old filly, may have the most upside potential of any in this field.  A British import, Cheetah has won two of three starts in the United States and was probably compromised by a dawdling pace in her only stateside defeat, the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont.  Last time out, in the Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware, Cheetah got a solid pace to run at and she blew the doors off her competition late.  She's taking a big step up in class here and probably won't get the same fractions she received last time, but Cheetah has shown ability.  With a forward move, she could pull off a mild surprise. 

#3 FANTASIA won the local prep here on July 9 and she may have been hindered by a speed-favoring turf course when second in the Grade 2 Just a Game Stakes two starts back.  She's a pretty consistent mare, but steps up in class and may be at the mercy of race and pace luck as she attempts to uncork her rally from the back of the pack. 

#9 ECLAIR DE LUNE is the defending Beverly D. champion, but she hasn't shown much zest since winning this race last year.  In fact, she's failed to crack the trifecta in five subsequent outings.  Eclair de Lune parlayed a good pace-tracking trip into victory here last year, but she's been prone to slow starts in 2011.  Something just doesn't seem right with Eclair de Lune.  She's a contender on her best day, but will need to find that best form in order to defeat this tough cast.

#11 NEVER RETREAT has quietly enjoyed a successful campaign, taking three graded races for trainer Chris Block.  She looked good winning the Dance Smartly at Woodbine last time out around one turn, but she's never gone this far and is hung out in the wide post position.  She may have to be used early by Shaun Bridgmohan to obtain a good forward spot and that could hinder her late kick.  She's a perfectly solid mare coming off a career Beyer top, but will have to do it again before I believe that she's truly Grade 1 quality. 

#10 ROMIN ROBIN is in career form after pairing up Beyer tops in her last two races.  A former $30,000 claimer earlier in her career, Romin Robin didn't have the easiest of trips when second to Fantasia in the Modesty.  She is a local horse-for-course, but this will be her toughest task to date. 

#5 DUBAWI HEIGHTS is an intriguing entrant shipping in from Southern California.  A filly that has overcome colic, a knee chip, and tibia problems, Dubawi Heights became a Grade 1 winner in the Gamely at Hollywood Park on May 30.  She has good tactical speed and can be close to the expected moderate pace this afternoon.  The distance is a slight concern, but she beat a pair of next-out winners in the Gamely and is entering the Beverly D. on a four-race win streak.  I wouldn't be surprised if she's in charge of this thing turning for home and she looms a good upset chance.

BLOCK C:  "Longshots"

#4 UPPERLINE, like Pachattack, may be slightly better on synthetic than on grass, but she earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure earlier this year in taking the Bayou Handicap over Fair Grounds sod.  I'd like to see James Graham get aggressive with Upperline this afternoon as she does have enough speed to find herself on or near the lead.  A Grade 3 winner on polytrack, Upperline may be in a bit too steep here. 

#2 CHECK THE LABEL won four straight graded races last year including the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Park, but she hasn't seemed the same filly this year.  After just missing by a neck in her seasonal debut over polytrack, she disappointed greatly at 2-1 in the Grade 3 Mint Julep at Churchill Downs and threw a fit prior to the Penny Memorial at Parx on July 4.  Her Beyers pale in comparison to the top contenders and she'll have to really pick it up if she is to make a dent.

Here's how I'll play HG:

$50 Exacta:  Stacelita - River Jetez (1-6)
$50 Exacta:  Stacelita - Pachattack (1-8)

Best of luck to all.

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

Secretariat:  Treasure Beach, Banned, Ziyarid
Monmouth Oaks:  Miss Valentine, Strike the Moon, Savvy Supreme
Sword Dancer:  Grassy, Boisterous, Al Khali
Arlington Millon:  Zack Hall, Wigmore Hall, Cape Blanco
La Jolla - Midnight Interlude, Burns, Surrey Star
John C. Mabee - Celtic Princess, Medaglia d'Amour, Cozi Rosie

If you have a chance, check out the stakes preview videos that Mike Beer and I worked on earlier in the week:

http://www.drf.com/events/arlington-million-arlington-park

http://www.drf.com/events/del-mar-la-jolla-handicap

http://www.drf.com/news/monmouth-park-canadian-mistress-tries-extend-jones-family-monopoly-monmouth-oaks


The great Harvey Pack was back in our studio to discuss Saturday's late Pick 4 at Saratoga.  You can find that link here:

http://www.drf.com/events/saratoga-sword-dancer-handicap

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

Enjoy the weekend.