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HandiGambling (Downhill Turf)
By Dan Illman
This week's HandiGambling exercise is the second race at Santa Anita, an entry-level allowance for fillies and mares at About 6 1/2 Furlongs on turf.
PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PREVIOUS BLOG POST.
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.
IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE NEXT WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE SEND YOUR RACE SELECTION NO LATER THAN TUESDAY EVENING.
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 GIVE YOUR NAME OR BLOG MONIKER AT THE END OF THE HG PLAY AND/OR ANALYSIS.
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.
As of this writing, the turf course is listed as GOOD.
Let's scratch #10 TIZ THE TIDE and #14 CAMILLE C.
#1 MISS BECCA will be ridden by Edwin Maldonado.
There appears to be ample speed in this week's HandiGambling affair so I am hoping that #7 VINDICATED GHOST can rate just a little bit. A lightly-raced 5-year-old, Vindicated Ghost returned to Southern California with a flourish, taking a $40,000 starter allowance on December 13 at Betfair Hollywood Park. After being pressured by an 82-1 non-factor, Vindicated Ghost opened up on the field under a confident ride and it seems like she's figuring the game out. Trainer Dean Greenman, however, is 0-15 over the past five years with horses going second off a layoff of greater than 45 days (compared to 3-18 in first back from similar rest) and that makes one wonder about a possible regression. I believe this is jockey Orlando Mojica's first trip down the hill at Santa Anita so it will be interesting to see how he does on the tricky course. If I drew it up on the chalkboard, I'd have Vindicated Ghost tracking the #2, #4 and #6 from the outside and see if she can hold off the closers.
#2 POGONIP looked like a new horse when winning her turf debut over this course on October 21, but she hasn't started since and the competition from that sprint seems subpar. Of the 10 horses to return from that maiden special weight, only two hit the board next-out (one for a $20,000 maiden tag while the other raced at Golden Gate). Trainer Carla Gaines has a positive trainer stat to mention, though. Over the past five years with last-out maiden graduates on turf, Gaines is 10-28 (36%, $3.20 ROI). Pogonip has good speed and could be compromised if Vindicated Ghost and #6 EILEEN'S DREAM decide to run and gun.
Eileen's Dream has high early gas, but she hasn't started since winning her maiden over this course on October 26. Three of the seven horses from that race returned to hit the board next-out (including the runner-up, who came back to finish second with a 74 Beyer Speed Figure). A $500,000 juvenile, Eileen's Dream has been an underachiever thus far. She is dangerous if allowed to control things up front, but the presence of other speeds and pace-pressers may doom her to a minor award.
#11 INDECISE is a fascinating closer in a race loaded with speed. In her most recent start, a similar allowance event here on November 4, Indecise rallied strongly for third in her first start following an eight-month rest. Lightly-raced with some upside potential, she switches to Garrett Gomez and figures to be running hard in the stretch. If handicappers blindly bet Gomez going down the hill throughout his career, they would be rewarded to the tune of a $2.08 ROI (94-532, 17%).
The inside post can be problematic on this course, but the #1 MISS BECCA is a prolific winner (five lifetime victories) making her first start following the Peter Miller claim. She has excellent tactical speed and may find a good spot just off the expected hot pace. The second- and third-place finishers from her last start returned to run 1-2 for a $32,000 tag over the cushion track with 81 Beyers. Miller is only 3-24 (13%, $0.55 ROI) over the past five years with horses racing on turf off the claim, but Miss Becca looks like a solid contender here. Jockey Edwin Maldonado is only 2-63 (3%, $1.67 ROI) going down the hill.
#9 LEMON HERO is a very logical runner. A multi-winner with good back form (she was second to the classy Byrama in the $72,000 Manhattan Beach Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park in June), Lemon Hero finished ahead of two next-out winners (one of them returned to Beyer 92 on cushion track) in an entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds on November 4. She'll get the right setup here, but it's not like she has this tremendous edge over the field and her kick, while solid, hasn't been explosive. I won't be surprised if she wins, but I won't be shocked if she's overbet under the red-hot Rafael Bejarano (21% lifetime down the hill).
#13 DISTANT IMAGE handled Cal-breds at Betfair Hollywood nineteen days ago, gets the right race shape, and her Beyer figures are creeping the right way for trainer Ed Moger Jr. Still, she will take a decent class hike and has a tendency to find traffic trouble. Jockey Joe Talamo sports a positive ROI ($2.07, 16%) over this course.
Turnbacks often do well over the downhill and #5 BELLE DE LUNE cuts back after a pair of routes at Del Mar. Although her lone career victory came sprinting over the all-weather in France, trainer Tom Proctor is 4-19 (21%, $2.25 ROI) over the past five years with horses returning from 61-180 day layoffs while moving from routes to sprints (1-1 on turf). Belle de Lune should appreciate the good pace up front and may offer some value at 8-1 or more. It's interesting that top jockey Julien Leparoux is 0-17 lifetime over this course.
#4 SIBELLA adds to the pace party, but both of her wins came against Cal-breds and she lost ground from the stretch call to the wire in both starts against open company. If she tries to battle with horses like Eileen's Dream, Pogonip, and Vindicated Ghost, she could pay a steep price.
#3 ASSURE hasn't started since March, but she cuts back to the distance of her lone victory (over cushion track) and her two prior starts on turf were against very tough competition (Lady of Shamrock is now a multiple Grade 1 winner while Byrama is a multiple stakes-winner). Assure may be coming from the clouds at a juicy price, but the feeling is she may need a race. One of FormBlog's NHC stalwarts, Alan Levitt, likes to mention Alonso Quinonez's troubles over the downhill (he's currently 4-189, according to DRF stats, if you're keeping count).
#12 GITTEL cuts back in trip after chasing the razor-sharp Luscious Lonna (now has won three in a row with Beyers ranging from 79-84) over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate. Both of Gittel's lifetime wins have come going long on dirt, however.
#8 LATIN LASHES' career has been plagued by layoff lines. Her lone victory came going five furlongs over the all-weather at Kempton and she hasn't raced since April. Now with Julio Canani, Latin Lashes may revert to rating tactics following a pacesetting try at Woodbine. In her lone stateside turf start, Latin Lashes faced much-tougher company (Cambina, Quiet Oasis, etc.). This seems like a fine spot from a class perspective, but the layoff is worrisome.
Here's how I'll HandiGamble:
$50 WIN/PLACE - VINDICATED GHOST (#7)
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:
...Two hard-hitting sprinters square off in the Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream on Saturday. ACTION ANDY is on quite a roll, but INDIANO may be tighter for his second start off the bench. The latter got a good prep when behind Action Andy at Gulfstream and draws a comfortable outside post here...TIZ FLIRTATIOUS needs a little pace to properly wind up her kick, but she looked good when second in the Matriarch after being late to get off the inside. She should give another nice account of herself in Sunday's Robert J. Frankel at Santa Anita on Sunday. MORE CHOCOLATE should offer a little value.
More importantly, who do you like this weekend? I want to know.
Enjoy the weekend!
Curt V from the BSB #'s view.. IT'SYOURLUCKYDAY is mostly 23's and 3's in the female tail, Pulls in some 1's with Sophisticated Girl, and 13's with My Charmer (Seattle Slews Dam) Your MKB DEWEY SQUARE is mostly 3's, 4's with some 13's, and your Slew is found in both these as 'great grand pa. DP = 2-8-10-0-0 (20) ..as Ron Z mentioned stamina points, I also equate that to getting longer distances. (though I am NO pedigree expect either ). Flip a coin !! ...both look like nice babies though no stamina points. Use this as any other bit of information, as Ky Derby history has the last 30 years about even... 18 out of 30 winners have had stamina (or in a few, professional) points. SR Vegas
Penquin, Get your head out from under your wing. It's MY belated birthday you're thinking about. Curtis's hasn't even come around yet. My birthday is easy to remember. Who doesn't remember New Year's Eve, the last day of the year, the fact that you made it through another year? :) Annie
mackey way to go in the HG and glad you had the exacta. MH01
Anderson Congrats on finishing the year as the top HG performer ! If that were not enough, the fact that you are also at the top of the form blog PH contest Leaderboard confirms that the HG results were no fluke. Keep up the good work in 2013. Dick W
Ron Z., It was actually 3/5 of a second off the track record. It was still 1/5 of a second better than GrandPappy Slew himself, in his only 1 mile race. Had he ran the race 1 day earlier, it would have been the fastest 1 mile race for a a 2yr. old.. Having the Slewster on the Dam side is a highly dangerous proposition. His outstanding record of 8/4-1-1 & 3 wins on Dirt is just as admirable. I pay no attention to the dosage profile. The only dosage I pay attention to is the Slewster dosage. Butts: I do have one question for you, if you don't mind Sir.........How did you know about my Birthday ? Or, better yet, how in the heck did you remember it ? It's January 6th. & Thank you....... CVS
Keith and Curtis, Yes, ITSMYLUCKYDAY looked good yesterday. He'll probably be the flavor of the week. Sure he looked good; there were no MKBs in the race. :) Keith, in answer to your question as to why he's not an MKB, well, the thing is, he hadn't beaten anything of note. He still hasn't. He keeps beating the same group: Sir Quosimoto, or whatever his name is, and several others. The one time he raced against the likes of MKBs, BERN IDENTITY, GOLDENCENTS and MYLUTE, he bombed. Of course, he may be improving, but it remains to be seen what he will do when he meets up with the MKB boys again. :) Curtis, you can have him if you want, but he's not an MKB, so you have to follow him yourself. It might have been that yesterday was just his lucky day. :) Annie
SR Vegas and Dick W, Thank you for the belated Birthday wishes! I did have a good time. :) Whacky, Congratulations on winning the HG! Right at the last minute, too. WTG! Anderson, Congrats to you, too, for being top scorer for that whole HG season! DRF Techs, I trust you are back at work solving the 400006 error problem. Just in case, I am going completely out before my next post. :) Annie
To Curtis V. Slewster Late bday wishes to you also. I noticed you forgot to mention that Itsmyluckyday also has Danzig, Lord Avie and Crafty Prospector as great grandfathers also, which gives off influences of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector. Two other influential sires of classy bloodlines. Itsmyluckyday's performance was impressive, only running about 4/5 off the track record for a one turn mile. However, GP Sunday was playing especially strong to horses lapped on the leader or doing the running themselves. His dosage of 4-3-7-0-0, with no points on the stamina side, suggests to me he may not be able to get the classic distances. Personally, I see a lot of grass influence in his pedigree though by NO means am I a student of pedigree. While having Slewster may be the engine, you can't go anywhere without the gas. Respectfully, your fellow horseplayer RonZ
WhackyMacky Congratulations on the HG win. Happy 2013 everyone. Let's go take all the money.
Whacky Congrats on your HG win ! Annie Happy belated birthday ! CJ Watch your back...or maybe your front :-) Dick W