11/27/2010 12:57PM

HandiGambling the Cigar Mile (212)

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Today's HandiGambling 212 exercise is the ninth race from Aqueduct, the Grade 1 Cigar Mile for three-year-olds and upward on the main track.

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 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.

The main track is FAST.

#2 SOARING EMPIRE is one pound overweight.
#5 JERSEY TOWN  is two pounds overweight.
#6 FRIEND OR FOE is one pound overweight.

This year's Cigar Mile is simply an excellent race.  Of the nine runners (eight betting interests), I gave six horses a reasonable chance of winning this thing.  It makes the HandiGambling sledding tough indeed.

#4 HAYNESFIELD may not be as good as he looked when going gate-to-wire over subsequent Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but I don't think he's as bad as he looked when finishing next to last at Churchill Downs, either.  In the Classic, he was bounced around from both sides coming out of the gate, was stuck in between and in behind horses for the first six furlongs, and just wasn't a happy camper before packing it in after a mile.  He was reportedly training very well going into the Classic, and I'll give him a break off the tough trip.  He's run well in one-turn routes in the past, and may find a nice spot parked off VINEYARD HAVEN down the backstretch.  Although his finest moment (Jockey Club Gold Cup) came when on the lead, I think he can sit just a bit.  I expect him to be prominent when they turn for home and he should get the jump on the closers.

#7 MUSKET MAN is also coming out of the Breeders' Cup Classic, and that 10-furlong distance may have been just a bit far for the courageous son of Yonaguska.  It's a shame that he only has one win this year (the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his seasonal debut) as he's run so well in bigger spots (lost by a nose in the Grade 1 Carter, second to Quality Road in the Grade 1 Met Mile, an extremely game third in the Grade 1 Whitney).  I don't think Musket Man ran poorly in the Classic.  It looked like he was in the thick of things after nine furlongs, but he simply didn't see out the trip.  The cutback in distance should hit Musket Man right between the eyes and the prospect of a hot pace should also work to his advantage.  I can't toss him from my multi-race wagers.

If you believe that betting horses coming out of the Breeders' Cup series is unappetizing due to the very good possibility of them being "over the top," look no further than #6 FRIEND OR FOE, a hulking New York-bred that beat a pair of next-out winners in the Empire Classic on October 23.  Four of the seven horses to return from the Empire Classic came back to hit the board and the last-place finisher, Stormy's Majesty, defeated open foes in the Grade 3 Discovery last weekend.  My main concern with Friend Or Foe is that he may have been helped by a speed-favoring track in the Empire Classic, and it's doubtful that he'll make the lead in here.  Still, he's lightly-raced with a world of upside.  It's very possible that we haven't seen his best yet.  I can't leave him off my Pick 4's.

#2 SOARING EMPIRE, like Friend Or Foe, is a three-year-old that skipped the Breeders' Cup.  By Empire Maker out of an A.P. Indy mare, you can forgive trainer Cam Gambolati for thinking he had a Kentucky Derby prospect earlier in the year.  Instead, it seems as if Soaring Empire is better suited as a closing sprinter or miler.  He's taking a big step up in class (the runner-up from the most recent race could only muster third in the Fall Highweight earlier this week), but I wouldn't be surprised if he comes with a solid late kick under Edgar Prado.

#3 BRIBON is hickory.  A seven-year-old making his 37th trip to the post, Bribon is very comfortable in one-turn miles.  He won the Met Mile and Westchester at this trip last year, and marked a strong return to form when winning the seven-furlong Bold Ruler at Belmont on October 30.  After shedding a frog from his left front foot, an injury that cost him ten days of training, Bribon's trainer, Todd Pletcher, decided to skip the Breeders' Cup and focus on the Bold Ruler and Cigar Mile.  He's halfway there.  We know Bribon will be charging late.  He's dangerous, as always.

1A. VINEYARD HAVEN won the Grade 1 Champagne at two over a one-turn mile, but he hasn't shown much verve in 2010.  Sure, he won his seasonal debut at Saratoga with a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, but he didn't beat a very strong field (three of the six rivals to exit that sloppy race hit the board, but none won their next start).  He ran okay in the Forego, but was simply cooked by a hot pace in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and I didn't like the way he drifted during the stretch drive.  I believe he has the most potent early speed of any of the Cigar entrants and he could conceivably lead the way down the backstretch.  Still, he hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire since last year's DeFrancis Memorial, and he should face early pressure.

#5 JERSEY TOWN ran the best race of his life when second in the Bold Ruler, but he was still outkicked by Bribon in the final furlong.  The consistent four-year-old has hit the board in his last seven starts, but will need race and pace luck coupled with another lifetime top to win this.

#8 HALF METAL JACKET, like Jersey Town, ran the best race of his career in the Bold Ruler, yet he could only muster third money.  Perhaps he can run better in his second start of the form cycle - and second start with trainer Rudy Rodriguez - but the former $20,000 claimer has the same running style as several of the top contenders, and may not be able to outfoot them all in the stretch.

#1 GIROLAMO had to work very hard to defeat the uninspiring Riley Tucker in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at six furlongs and he didn't run a step in the Breeders' Cup Sprint behind Big Drama.  He'll have to overcome a tricky inside post position this afternoon, but is capable of working out a good inside-outside stalking trip under Alan Garcia.

A fantastic race.  I'll play HandiGambling this way:

$100 Win - Haynesfield (#4)

Best of luck to all.

***

Here are some quick and dirty selections for some of the other quality stakes races to be contested over the weekend:

Japan Cup:  Pelusa, Nakayama Festa, Victoire Pisa
Citation:  Colgan's Chip, Court Vision, Victor's Cry
Remsen:  Mucho Macho Man, To Honor and Serve, Buffum
Kingarvie:  Pender Harbour, Invitation, Altius

Have a great day.

Raymond More than 1 year ago
BACK TO CIGAR MILE. MUSKET MAN HAD NO "WORK OUT" BEFORE THE RACE -A THROW OUT ! ABOUT JERSEY TOWN- HE RAN WELL AGAINST BRIBON- HE IS A 4 YEAR OLD , IMPROVEMENT LIKELY , 7 YEAR OLD BRIBON WAS "PATCHED" WHEN HE BEAT HIM Raymond
Annie More than 1 year ago
Ron Zuercher, I haven't gotten a response from you yet. FLY DOWN did pretty good for you this year. What, did you have to work too hard? I told you that you didn't have to muck out the stall. They have people to do that. :) Annie
Taz More than 1 year ago
I'm new this yr - but the MKB sounds interesting and fun. Please include me on the list. Let me know if I need to do something beyond this post. thx
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Baltimore Brian Congrats on getting ready for the big event. What a huge deal. I have no advice at all (that was another thing that my wife did all the planning on-in any event it was 43 years ago so I wouldn't remember a thing either way). I would have advised you to pick the right lady-or she you-but it sounds like both of you have already done that. A giant smile for both of you. Spartan Tom Nope-they're not on it anymore. But it is still a fantastic evening, or afternoon. As to agreeing with her plans? Really-it's a matter of "Yes Mam, General Mam". Truly though, I always enjoy everything we do, of whatever nature it is. Last "off topic"note-some years back we were planning on retiring in Tahoe-as you know one of the world's greatest areas. We changed our minds after going through a couple of winters there.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Baltimore Brian ...if you and your lovely fiancee ever get to Las Vegas...there is a Pamplemousse restaurant here, too. It is lovely and VERY romantic :) ..I am truly blessed, STILL no captchas !
SpartanTom More than 1 year ago
Blackstone, Do they still have the "oldies" band on the Tahoe Queen. Having been to Tahoe several times, it is a favorite memory of mine. I am sure your wife is pleased that you have agreed to her plans for a cruise. Enjoy!! ST
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Blackstone "Cruise?' ...you say ??? I'll agree that your lovely wife is in the right direction. The bigger is better, as you have way more options to do EVERYTHING or do NOTHING....It is all still GOOD! The RAH and I have been past frequent cruise travelers with many destinations. If you want to do The Tahoe Queen...that's best for weddings and family weekend excursions :) If you want more...please send me a note, you have my email..I'd be glad to share our experiances with the cruise lines. BTW...Will Peppi be joinig you? I'm sure he needs a vacation, too. Well, maybe he can be the horse you ride on the sunny, wind swept beaches of a yet to be determined destination ... he-he-he AHA! STILL no captcha!
tmonty More than 1 year ago
Annie, I'm new to the blog and that MKB sounds like fun! Please put me down for a horse. Thank you, tmonty
blackstone More than 1 year ago
Baltimore Brian While I might prefer the Tahoe Queen, we have indeed been on a number of cruises. The big one was three years ago-celebrating our 40th with our life-long best friends, who were also celebrating their 40th(the husband is the "Black" in blackstone). Three weeks in Europe-you're right, of course, I'll never forget it. On that cruise, one of the things I did was spend some time on the Internet-yep-DRF and a couple of other sites (including work). $800 in internet charges later I had a somewhat unhappy wife. She paid for a 100% of that trip, other than the internet charges. Annie-from my last post you know she's mostly taking me. That's ok-I deserve it.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Annie in the Snow in MN... "There was only one open complaint, so I guess we should let the people decide if it is too much or not. Agree?" I agree. I also agree that the person who voiced their opinion has a valid point. ( Besides, has a cute smile and is really nice! ) Daily workouts, posted regularly with 70+ horses working on different days & different tracks, can seem like a bit much , when put in context here on the formblog. But, I will also note that we have (to coin a phrase) vicstuvian sized posts, that are much longer than some of the workouts notes that have been posted in the past, eh? LOL! So, as we all have the option to read, or pass on any post...I will leave it up to our fellow Formbloggers. Helping identify the MKB horses that are building up to glory...in the th the lesser races is fun. Workouts..I'll leave it up to the majority :) Hey , still no captcha!