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HandiGambling Fair Grounds (Off Turf)
By Dan Illman
This week's HandiGambling exercise is the ninth race at Fair Grounds, a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of two races at 1 1/16 miles. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS RACE IS OFF THE 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.
The main track is FAST.
Let's scratch #3 ANASHEED CLASS, #6 FATHER'S FUTURE, #7 REASON TO BE PROUD, #10 CHEYENNE PASS, #14 SOUTHERN LEGEND, #15 MARKET CHARGER.
#2 JEFF will be ridden by John Jacinto
SHERTZER, the lone "Main Track Only" entrant in the field, looks like the horse to beat, but I don't think he's any superstar and figures to go off at a very short price.
Instead, I'll take a chance with #4 DEW DROP KID, a gelding making his dirt debut for a trainer that is 3-13 (23%, $2.24 ROI) over the past five years with newly-acquired runners. Dew Drop Kid wasn't disgraced in his most recent start on polytrack, a $50,000 maiden claimer at Keeneland way back on April 27, 2011. He wouldn't have won that race with a perfect trip, but still was shuffled back along the rail on the turn before splitting horses. He shows a quick five-eighths work over the Fair Grounds dirt and should be running late under James Graham. Although the dam won on grass and most of her progeny seem to prefer that surface, she has foaled one main track winner and is a half-sister to Strike It Up, a multiple stakes-winner on dirt.
#16 SHERTZER made a premature wide move in his most recent start on dirt at Churchill Downs and understandably had nothing left when the real running began. The runner-up from that race returned to win an entry-level allowance on dirt at Fair Grounds with a career-best 82 Beyer. Shertzer should improve stretching back out in distance for his second start following a short layoff. Trainer Larry Jones excels in off-the-turf races (19-59, 32%, $2.35 ROI over the past five years) and he has gotten off to a quick start at the Fair Grounds meeting. Note that Shertzer didn't change leads during the stretch run of that last race at Churchill. A logical contender, but perhaps an underlaid one.
#11 KAYOU may show good early speed as he stretches out 3.5 furlongs for his second start since August. He finished evenly most recently at Delta Downs despite failing to switch leads late and may have needed the effort (the barn is 3-12, 25%, $4.18 ROI over the past five years with horses going second off the bench). Note that the last-place finisher from the November 10 heat returned to win a $20,000 claimer at Delta with a 67 Beyer.
We know that #8 ARTILLERY handles dirt and that's obviously a huge plus in a race like this. He rallied from way back to win his maiden at Churchill Downs on November 14, but I wonder if his lack of speed will work against him as he tackles tougher competition this afternoon. The fourth-place finisher from his maiden score came back to graduate with a 56 Beyer in a maiden special weight at Mountaineer. Interestingly enough, trainer Angel Montano is 4-16 (25%, $3.87 ROI) over the past five years in races that were switched off the turf. If the pace is quicker than expected, Artillery can fire his best shot.
#5 LEMONY hasn't won since departing the high-percentage Al Stall stables in 2011. He had a hint of trouble over muddy going back in September and wasn't disgraced on dirt to kick off his 2012 campaign. He handles the distance just fine and has a bit of tactical speed, but may be best played on the bottom of exotic wagers.
#1 SCRIVCO takes a big drop in class after chasing Master Wagon in an entry-level allowance on grass (that foe returned to win a statebred, 'n3L' allowance on dirt at Delta with a 61 Beyer). Still, aside from an even debut sprinting, Scrivco's dirt races haven't been pretty. The barn is 0-21 over the past five years in races that were switched from the turf.
Wonder if #2 JEFF will attempt to take the early lead of this two-turn heat. Jeff takes a big drop after failing to threaten in a pair of entry-level optional claimers at Prairie Meadows (the winner of his most recent start returned to finish third in an 'n2x' optional claimer at Hoosier with a 74 Beyer) and handles dirt routes just fine. The August layoff is a concern and he was jockey Inocencio Diego's second call (Diego hops to HELICOPTER ACE).
#9 SOUL SACRIFICE also takes a class drop. If he runs back to his turf races, he should be very tough in this spot, but he's never raced on dirt and may take a good amount of money. The trainer is 15-77 (19%, $2.04 ROI) over the past five years in races washed off the turf and the dam is a half-sister to several very good dirt runners. This horse wouldn't be a surprise in the least, but I have a feeling he'll be an underlay.
#13 HELICOPTER ACE, Diego's first call, needed 11 starts to break his maiden. He rallied to win on grass in his most recent effort and may be a bit more comfortable on that surface. Either way, he'll need a Beyer boost in order to take these down.
Here's how I'll HandiGamble:
$80 WIN - DEW DROP KID (4)
$10 EXACTA BOX - DEW DROP KID - SHERTZER (4-16)
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:
...The Hollywood Starlet looks like EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE's for the taking, but I'm interested to see how PURE FUN performs. Pure Fun was very visually impressive in an allowance race on dirt at Churchill Downs and should offer a hint of value...The three big names in the Bayakoa have questions to answer. CLASS INCLUDED tries a synthetic surface for the first time, WILLA B AWESOME must reverse declining form and INGLORIOUS returns off an injury-induced layoff. Perhaps the sharp LADY OF FIFTY can take them down at good odds for Jerry Hollendorfer...
More importantly, who do you like this weekend? I want to know.
Apologies to Dan and any others I might have offended. When I automatically updated to Firefox 17.0.1, I too, even though a Mac devotee, had no comments box and no ability to go beyond the most recent ten posts. I can now do both using Safari, but would still like DRF to function like all the other websites I visit.
Careful, Keith, they could put them back. :) Annie
Well, well! DRF IT department finally got their collective thumbs out of their most southern aperatures and improved the blog! Hear, hear! Keith L.
While I found it quite easy to ignore the thumbs, I am nevertheless pleased to see they have been removed. Dck W
Bernard, Glad you liked the poem! Susceptible to a bribe? That's like asking the auctioneer at the yearling sale to signal you to bid when the future Derby winner comes on the block. The bribe wouldn't necessarily do any good. :) But, of course, the Genie cannot be bribed. Annie
Calvin Carter, Oh, that is wonderful! Good luck!!! Annie
Annie Well, let's just copy and paste it all together here. Hopefully the one's who still can not see more than 10 comments will see it all. MKB DREAMS Chestnut, brown, black or bay Or maybe even a lovely gray. Will he be a future star Whose name is known near and far. Will he start out very fast And still have stamina to last. Or will he run slow and steady And pick up speed when he is ready. They will count the races won. Have enough, he could be the one. Will he make the Derby gate Or find his best a bit too late. Meet your horse and have some fun. Cheer him on and watch him run. Good luck to all, the road is rough. Maybe your horse will have enough. Annie MKB Owner ...and with anticipation running over me in Laura's chat room I will see who the Magic Genie will pull out A stong steed who will make me shout! Chestnut , Bay, brown or gray A MKB owner yell of Hooray! and then the count down will begin to see if my MKB Baby will win One prep, two prep, three prep, more? Who knows what the future will store Down this Derby Road so winding Hope he stays healthy, strong and fighting . So on the day the fourth of May Will I be there, I hope and pray To be the owner with smiles and poses With my MKB Baby adorned with Roses. SR Vegas ...Now, if we can get our Katieattherail out to post her Seasonal end of year Formblog Poem ...Katie ? hmmmm?
Calvin Carter OMG! What great news ! Good luck to both you and Kerry :) SR Vegas
Annie and SR Vegas, Nice MKB poetry. I am looking forward to the draw. I am hoping for a tough horse, likely to be fit and ready at race time, rather than a flashy first time out 3 year old winner, who blows out after their first run. Hope you can help. Are you susceptible to bribery? Best Regards - Bernard Downes
A big thank you to publisher Trafalgar Square Books nomination of "Horse Profiling: The Secret to Motivating Equine Athletes" for the Tony Ryan book award.