11/16/2012 2:36PM

HandiGambling (Churchill Turf)


This week's HandiGambling exercise is the ninth race at Churchill Downs, a $100,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds and upward at one mile 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 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."


I'll take a tepid stab with #6 DIMENSION, a 4-year-old making his second start in the United States.  An underachiever in Britain for trainer James Fanshawe, Dimension showed slight improvement after being gelded prior to his seasonal debut in May. In his final start overseas, Dimension set a new course record for seven furlongs at York.  While that race hasn't produced strong form, Dimension proved that he is effective on firmer going and he may move forward with the addition of Lasix this afternoon.  In his first race for trainer Conor Murphy, Dimension broke slowly and was sent up uncovered to track moderate fractions.  He tired a bit in the stretch when finishing behind stakes-winner Seal Cove and it's quite possible that nine furlongs isn't his best game. Cutting back in distance should be what the doctor ordered and there is plenty of pace for him to attack late.  He must improve off that recent run at Keeneland, but offers value at double-digit odds. 

As an aside, Murphy's story is a fascinating one.  In England, he worked for one of the country's top steeplechase trainers, Nicky Henderson.  A few months before the prestigious Cheltenham meeting, Murphy placed a 50-pound future wager on a five-horse accumulator.  Murphy bagged over a million pounds with his winning score and has now ventured out on his own here in the United States.  Check out the link below for the full story:


If Dimension bombs in this spot, you may want to wait until he runs on a synthetic surface.  Some of his better races overseas came over the all-weather.

#10 BERGERAC makes his third start of the form cycle for a new barn and returns to grass following several efforts on polytrack. An inconsistent sort that hasn't won a race in over a year, Bergerac is capable of solid performances (thought he ran pretty well in the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes and Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes over polytrack) as well as some stinkers.  He drew a tough outside post position and could be forced wide into the first turn, but he has some back races that suggest he can be competitive with these at good odds.  I'm expecting jockey Malcolm Franklin to track the speed directly to his inside and perhaps he can save just a bit of ground on the clubhouse bend.

#1 KEEP UP is a beautifully-bred, lightly-raced 5-year-old that appears to be coming into his own for trainer Alex Clarkson.  He draws an excellent inside post position this afternoon and may work out a pocket journey behind the speed.  Keep Up won the faster division of 'N2X' allowance heats at Keeneland on October 26 when defeating multiple Grade 3-placed Trend, but he seemed a bit green in the stretch, flipping leads a couple of times when in front.  Keep Up may have the most scope for improvement and shouldn't be discounted.

#3 STRIKE IMPACT is a salty veteran with 17 victories on his record and he absolutely adores the Churchill Downs turf course.  His last race, an eighth-place performance at Mountaineer Park, can be forgiven as he was wide in the early part.  He hasn't started in over three months, however, and his best performances have come when he's on or near the lead.  There is plenty of other speed in this spot and Strike Impact may have to work hard if he is to assume his usual place near the front. 

#7 SAN ANTONE makes the third start of the form cycle for a solid barn and he improved when returned to polytrack at Keeneland on October 6.  Although no match for graded winners Middie and Smart Bid, San Antone wasn't disgraced and looks to be rounding back into form.  San Antone's best races have come on synthetic, however, and he may be slightly better on that surface.  Plus, he has some speed and could be compromised if the pace is hot.  I think Corey Lanerie is going to take him back and make one run from midpack.  I'd like him more if this race was on polytrack.

#2 NOBLE'S PROMISE is winding down a good career and the Grade 1 winner has performed in some of the world's most prestigious races (Kentucky Derby at Churchill, St. James's Palace Stakes at Ascot, "Dan Illman Formbloggers" convention race at Gulfstream).  He got back on the beam in his most recent start at Keeneland and has prior winning experience over turf.  He draws a comfortable inside post and should work out a nice trip behind the pacesetters.  He certainly can win this, but he may get bet based more on his reputation than what he's done lately.  A strong contender, but I wonder if he will be an underlay.

#5 NIGHT PARTY had everything his own way on the lead in his most recent start on turf and still failed to complete the exacta.  This time, he will likely face stronger pace competition and he's lost ground from the stretch call to the wire in his last six races. He has an annoying tendency to switch back to his left lead at crucial times during the late stretch and I'm not sure he really wants to rate and finish.

#4 GRAND BERRY looms the x-factor for trainer Bill Mott.  A Group 1 winner on dirt in Argentina, Grand Berry found success at the Group 2 level on turf.  His lone start in this country can easily be dismissed as he raced on the main track against a razor-sharp Neck 'n Neck.  Mott wheels him back on two weeks rest and Grand Berry should be sharper for this assignment.  He's worth a look at 15-1 on the morning line.

Although there is a good amount of speed in this race, #8 STORMY GOING might be the absolute fastest from the starting stalls.  He should be fresh off a June layoff, stretches out off three sprints and chased some quick fractions in shorter races earlier in the year.  Like San Antone, he may be better on a synthetic surface and a hot pace could doom him to a minor award at best.

Here's how my HandiGambling tickets shape up:



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:

...WILLY BEAMIN looks like the horse to beat in the Discovery, but CALLED TO SERVE was in very tight for the first five furlongs of his most recent start at Belmont and could improve with a cleaner run.  He has a tendency to hang, however...MADAME CACTUS looked good winning her prep at Delta Downs and looms a strong contender in the Delta Princess.  ROSE TO GOLD looked good on dirt at Calder to start her career, but ran poorly on synthetic last time out.  Draw a line through that Keeneland race.  SALAMERA may have some distance issues...I don't have a strong opinion in the Delta Jackpot and won't play the race, but I'm rooting for Lukas and HIGHTAIL...

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

CMathieu66 More than 1 year ago
Whoops Dan, I meant to post to the more recent thread.
CMathieu66 More than 1 year ago
Did P Ensign go off his vegetarian feed while I was away? Or was that jab about bird preparation a nod to it? I'd hate to be the Lone Ranger of egg-free quiche eating here. A robust, Chuck Norris crunching, egg-free quiche eater though who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. Or maybe I’m just Tonto. * By the way PE, Louisiana jails are similar in neglect to other states I’ve had occasion to stay at. I wasn’t permitted to go officially online while there but Bubba was kind enough to let me post to Formblog with his iPad. Don’t ask what I had to do use it. * Annie- I’d be happy to give back to Leparoux what he’s given me over the years, which would amount to a turd for every crappy ride he produced when I backed him. That kind of volume would have to be crate and barreled to the reception but the cost of hiring three guys to roll it there precludes it. Or he could pick it on the backstretch at his convenience. That way, like a tax free bond, it would grow as he continually settles for fifth with dedicated frontrunners off 49 flat halves on speed favoring circuits that he refuses to adjust to. Tout suite, Julien! * Nice upcoming weekend of racing. In the “Who’sCharlieWhittinghamI’mBobBaffertPrevueStakes”, I like the Baffert with a kick over the Baffert BC scratch with the Baffert who was in tight on the rail for 3/8ths in his debut but won anyway for third.
Keith More than 1 year ago
Jeanne: No currency exchanged; lets just say that for acting as Danika's agent here I am in a Pro bono" capacity, at least I hope I am in the future. Whackey: Did you ever think of just boiling the bird? Seems unappetizing, but that was the original method of preparation for the first Thanksgiving feast?
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
To all, Happy Thanksgiving!! Enjoy your family time and good food!! NO drinking and driving!! Keith L, How much are you getting paid for that advertisement, Mr. S???????? LOL Jeanne
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Whacky; You can always do Turkey Galantine. It's basically de-boning the bird, stuffing it and rolling it back into place. If you can do a chicken, then you can do a turkey. I have included a link to Pepin's method for chicken. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAekQ5fzfGM It is intimidating, but certainly doable if you know your way around a bird, and if you are good with a good knife. My only real suggestion is to use kevlar gloves with food prep gloves over them, so that you don't hurt yourself. If you pull this off, my good man, your guests will forever talk about this. Happy Bird-day to you and yours!
Meathead More than 1 year ago
Hope all of you have a great thanksgiving tomorrow and continued good luck with your picks what a great country we live in as we must give thanks for our freedom. MH01
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Back to the DRF today...got my butt kicked yesterday...thought that I would get a few winner's to start the week...well, the yard is clean and the food shopping is done,,,hey, P. Ensign, any special way to cook a Turkey this year?? I have tried many ways, looking for that new angle.... thanks.. Whackymacky Out!!!!
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Two400, I guess I'll bite here. #1}The Race of the Day is on the DRF Homepage. #2} After clicking on the Race of the Day, below the video is the little square "Free PP's"..click it.--I am assuming your Adobe Reader is up to date & you are logged in to the DRF........ #3} Wait for Formulator to load.....About 10 seconds........ That's it. If it doesn't work, you need a lot of help......... Curtis V Slewster..........
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Two400, On the home page, scroll about halfway down to the Video section. At the very top of the Video Prevue, it says "get free pps, etc." Click on that, scroll down on that page and it will show in blue "free PPs" for the race of the day. Annie
PennNatRick More than 1 year ago
Penn Nat All-Stakes Pick 4. If you watch Illman/Beer's video on this pick 4 they spend more than half of the video talking about Race 1. This is a tough 2yo race. As for the pick 4... Race 1: #4 Kelwynn looks good on paper after scoring at parx. #9 Humble Street could steal this race if unchallenged and worthy at 12-1 perhaps didn't like the parx/pid tracks, but boast high speed fig in md. breaker. #2 Nathan's Becky's mom can also advance off the Parx score. I may go all-burger in the lid-opener. Race 2. #7 Isn't He Perfect... toby's corner was much the best and took control in the Mountainview. Came along late, but no match. Pace set up should be better. #2 San Pablo is the Class in this field and should be in the mix and not off tix. Include the #4 Rule as well. #6 Small Town Talk is a sleeper play. #5 Win Willy racing with better, but can get in the mix with right trip. Race 3: #7 Nicole H is the single here, much the best and if fractions are live she should go. Many are cross-entered here. Official scratch report for Penn Nat. should be around 5-5:30 when John Bogar announces changes. Race 4: #8 Poseidon's Warrior is the class here and should make amends Irad comes to town. #7 Il Villano is another one who will relish this distance. #6 Immortal Eyes stumbled at start and made noise for Damon Dilodovico and 10-1 is a must play. Using these 3. .50 Pick 4: ALL with 7-2-4-6-5 with 7 with 8-7-6. If all are in then it costs $82.50 for the ticket. Hoping for a score in the first leg. PNR