01/25/2013 4:11PM

HandiGambling Gulfstream Turf


This week's HandiGambling exercise is the ninth race at Gulfstream, an entry-level allowance for older runners at 7 1/2 furlongs on 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.


As of this writing, the turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #5 CHOSEN HEIR and #9 SMALL TANK. 

The temporary rail will be set at 24 feet.

If you take the short comment from #3 RAPACIOUS' last race, you're missing the whole picture.  Making his first start in almost two months, Rapacious broke poorly from the far outside post and was taken to the back of the pack along the inside.  Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. had an opportunity to angle wide turning for home, but opted to keep Rapacious inside and the colt was blocked for the majority of the stretch run while switching leads several times.  When Rapacious finally found a seam in late stretch, he exploded between rivals, but it was too late and he missed by a head.  It was a difficult trip for a lightly-raced runner and he is expected to improve in his second start of the form cycle (trainer Rusty Arnold boasts a $2.33 ROI over the past five years on grass with horses going second off a 45+ day layoff). This distance may be a bit short for Rapacious and there isn't a ton of early pace to aid his late kick, but a repeat of his most recent race should make him awfully tough here.

#8 VAN CITRA has improved since being claimed by trainer Dubis Chaparro on August 23.  He set the pace in that Rapacious race at Gulfstream last month and held gamely until the final half-furlong.  He should appreciate turning back in distance and projects as a strong front-runner in a race lacking much early foot.  Note that Chaparro is only 1-50 over the past two years with turf performers, but Van Citra should be a nice price and could be aided by slow splits.

#10 LEMON VIEW drew a tough outside post, but the veteran has cracked the exacta in 11 of 23 starts and returns to grass following some bang-up performances over the Woodbine polytrack.  Trainer Katerina Vassilieva sent out three winners at last year's Gulfstream meeting (all ridden by Luis Contreras, two in turf sprints, all winners shipping from Woodbine) and Lemon View has run a few races close to today's Beyer par of 89.

Not only did #1 BIG BLUE SPIRIT defeat Rapacious in a maiden heat at Keeneland on October 12, but the promising runner-up of that race returned to graduate with a 78 Beyer at Churchill while the eleventh-finisher came back to take two in a row on dirt at Mountaineer Park.  Never off the board from six starts, Big Blue Spirit has the tactical speed to work out an excellent pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Jesus Castanon.  What is concerning is that he doesn't show a published workout in over a month and that trainer Darrin Miller is 1-32 over the past five years with last-out maiden winners.

It's a bit surprising that #6 IN THE BEAT has been kept at shorter distances as he is by a Kentucky Derby winner out of a mare by a Kentucky Derby winner.  Both of his route starts can be excused as he faced quality rivals like Discreet Dancer, Neck 'n Neck, El Padrino and Take Charge Indy in those efforts.  Although winless from two tries on turf, he faced a pair of good sprinters in Go Blue Or Go Home (3-5 lifetime) on November 8 at Churchill and Hold On Smokey (14-44 lifetime, has won four of last five starts) last time out at Tampa Bay Downs.  He can be forwardly placed under Alan Garcia and looms an interesting exotics prospect at good odds.

#2 GAELICO has burned money at 3-1 odds or less in his last two races when late to make his final lead change and he had a much-easier trip than Rapacious when finishing behind that rival on December 28.  His best attribute is his tactical speed as he can be up close to the expected moderate pace. 

#4 SHAKESPEARE'S BREW was considered a promising two-year-old in Canada, but minor injuries limited him to only one start as a juvenile and five races at three.  He finished behind Lemon View most recently at Woodbine, but has more upside than that foe and should appreciate getting back to the grass.  He boasts a trainer switch to Chad Brown and that should knock his odds down a point or two as the high-profile Brown barn usually gets a ton of attention at the windows.  Over the past five years, Brown is 4-6 with horses making their first start under his care on turf following 31-60 day layoffs.  Don't be surprised if this colt runs well.

#7 JAMIE'S BOY gets some class relief after chasing decent allowance types on dirt and will make the third start of the form cycle for an underrated trainer.  Still, his lone turf start wasn't very good and he isn't really bred for the surface.  He'll need to greatly improve in order to make his presence felt.

The goal is to key Rapacious, who figures to take money off that tough trip, over some longer-priced horses.  I realize that I could be burned by leaving lower-odds performers like Shakespeare's Brew and Gaelico off my tickets...

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:

$60 EXACTA:  Rapacious/Lemon View (3-10)
$30 EXACTA:  Rapacious/Van Citra (3-8)
$10 EXACTA:  Rapacious/Big Blue Spirit (3/1)

Best of luck to all.


The handicapping videos for this weekend's major stakes races should be up on the site late this afternoon. 

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


Best of luck to all of our FormBlog participants in this year's National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas!!!

Rosemary Blanton More than 1 year ago
Laura my signon is rosemary but I am MH01. Thanks for the congrats and I will leave the next race to Dan to choose. MH01
Jay Van Horn More than 1 year ago
Apologies..correction 2....Native Dancer not Diver...dunno why I typed that?
Jay Van Horn More than 1 year ago
Correction......72 combinations.....still alot
Jay Van Horn More than 1 year ago
Laura.....that was actually very informative...and I only fell asleep twice reading it. Everyone knows 98% of runners have the Mr. P, Bold Ruler and Northern Dancer bloodlines running thru their bodies. However, the devil's in the details. Conformation and rather or not the dam was pretty, is irrelevant and useless to Handicappers. A necessity when pitching a sale but not when it's the 3rd race at Saratoga...or the case in point, the Kentucky Derby. So here's a brief summary of how the mind of us handicappers work...... It all starts with what I call...The Sire Six....the entire history of modern day racehorses exist because of the Sire Six...here they are..1) MAN O' WAR 2) NATIVE DIVER 3) NASRULLAH 4) HAIL TO REASON 5) NORTHERN DANCER and 6) MR. PROSPECTOR When handicapping the derby, you follow the sire lineson each entrant until you hit one of these names. Each horse will go into a category depending on the end result. For example.... I'll Have Another (Mr. P -Hail To Reason)........there is a possible 144 different combinations for each horse. This is a very effective handicapping tool because the horse's who have Mr.P in the direct sire line, on the sire or dam's side, win at an INCREDIBLE 70%!!!. . Cold, hard statistical facts are what handicappers rely on to be successful. Not predictions based on irrelevant accuracies or inaccuracies depending on who you are...
Laura More than 1 year ago
...continued from previous post.... If you want to learn more about using pedigree for handicapping, check out Dan's book "Betting Maidens" and Lauren Stich's "Pedigree Handicapping" Also, I write pedigree profiles and articles on pedigree handicapping at the Pedigree Power blog at Horse Racing Nation, plus the Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds website and blog. ***************** Rosemary, Congrats on winning the Handigambling contest! Yay! Another blue Thong prevails! Now, how about a nice 3 YO mdn race with only 2 or 3 horses that have previously started....
Laura More than 1 year ago
Re: Northern Dancer, Bold Ruler & Mr. P in pedigrees. Considering that 98% of all US Thoroughbreds have the top three bloodlines in their pedigree, I'm mystified about all of the talk about the derby contenders tracing their bloodlines back to these sires. It seems every year there are one or two people who are determined that the next Kentucky Derby winner will carry the bloodlines of these stallions. Uh, well..yeah, chances are pretty good of that. As for the "damsire's dam" that Jay Van Horn mentioned, it is relevant for breeding, not handicapping. Pedigree can be read in two ways, breeding and handicapping. One takes a closer look at pedigrees for inbreeding, linebreeding and outcrosses in order to find not only the optimal bloodlines for the type of foal one wishes to achieve, but also conformation and temperament qualities that could result in the foal. Reading a pedigree for breeding and then trying to use that info for pedigree handicapping can confuse the horseplayer. Noting that there's a strain of "X" sire or dam 4 or 5 generations back doesn't do anything for the handicapper, since the closer generations are the most influential. I analyze the sire, damsire, sometimes the second damsire and the female family back to two generations. The majority of the time, anything that is a great-great ancestor won't matter too much because their genes are included in the future generations. Pedigree handicapping is a whole 'nother animal. It isn't rocket science or even as complex as reading a pedigree for breeding. Pedigree handicapping IS a formidable tool for determining precocity, surface and distance, especially when used with physical handicapping. One thing that is important that many handicappers and pedigree analysts tend to ignore is conformation/physical handicapping. It goes hand in hand with pedigree handicapping, especially looking at distance capabilities. If a horse is built like a sprinter/miler and the pedigree is borderline for 10F, chances are, that horse will run out of gas right around 1 1/8 miles. There are some horses that were formidable at 1 1/8 furlongs, but just couldn't handle that extra distance. Lawyer Ron is a prime example. He set track records at 1 1/8 miles, but was 0-4 at 1 1/4 miles. To create a pedigree profile, one should research the the sire, dam, siblings, damsire, second dam and dam's siblings. Here's the easy way to break it down: SIRE - Examine the achievements, and if possible, the conformation of the sire's offspring. Do the majority of the runners excel over one surface and don't lift a hoof on another? What about distance? Does the sire stamp his babies (meaning they look like him) or are the offspring all shapes and sizes, giving indication that they may favor their dams? SECOND SIRE - looking at the second sire can help in certain instances. For example Lemon Drop Kid raced on dirt. His babies love turf. Why? His sire is Kingmambo, one of the all time great turf sires. My friend and mentor Lauren Stitch coined the phrase "HT (Hidden turf). This also works well for mud and we're begning to see second generation polysires too. DAM - look at the dam's race-record for class, precocity, distance and surface. Does she own blacktype? Do any of her siblings? What about the second dam? What types of surfaces/distances did they prefer? Are most win-early types or were they career maidens until they hit the $3K level at Delta Downs? If the dam didn't race, take a closer look at her siblings and dam to answer the questions. SIBLINGS - a horse's siblings (half, 3/4 or whole) can also give an indication of class, precocity, distance and surface. One must take into account the sibling's sire in terms of these achievements. For instance, a half sibling by AP Indy won't be as precocious as the one by Tapit or Songandaprayer. The English Channel half sib will likely prefer turf to dirt, etc. DAMSIRE - similar to the research on the sire, one should examine the damsire's achievements, preferred distances and surfaces. It can be harder for the novice pedigree handicapper to determine the class, surface, distance capabilities of the progeny of the damsire's daughters. The records of his progeny can sometimes help in this regard, although many times, the damsire has stopped producing offspring or is deceased. SECOND DAMSIRE - I will often look at the second damsire's influence if a horse is borderline for distance or in determining a proclivity for a surface. If the sire or second sire has strong mud/turf attributes and the damsire doesn't, I look at the second damsire to see if they could impart these qualities. Same goes for distance. If you have a sire who offers classic attributes bred to a mare whose sire & damsire are sprinters, it's doubtful the foal will want any part of 10F. 1 1/6 miles, sure. Maybe even 1 1/8 miles if the conditions and class level are right. Laura
Rosemary Blanton More than 1 year ago
Dan Illman Ill let you pick the next HG race if you dont mind sir. MH01
Rosemary Blanton More than 1 year ago
Dick W and SRVegas thanks for the congrats much appreciated for sure.
Rosemary Blanton More than 1 year ago
annie thank you for the shoot-out on the hg and my handicapping we all get in the groove ocasionally just wish it was more often no! MH01
Jay Van Horn More than 1 year ago
Pedigree buffs: I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I find the Damsire's mother to be irrelevant in regards to pedigree analysis. In the case of Itsmyluckyday. His connection to Mr. P thru Doneraille Court's mother's father, is irrelevant. Now, the dams grandsire is quite important. Hence, his line from his father leads to Northern Dancer. His mother's sire line leads to Nasrullah. Technically, Itsmyluckyday has a connection to Mr. P, but the majority of his DNA comes from other avenues...........