03/08/2013 4:26PM

HandiGambling Gulfstream Turf


The HandiGambling exercise for Friday, March 8 is the ninth race at Gulfstream Park, a $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles 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.


The temporary rail will be set at 24 feet.

This race is a real skullbuster.

Perhaps #3 SOLA GRATIA can't run anymore as she didn't pick up her feet in her first start in over eight months, but that race was on dirt and she may be a bit more effective on the grass.  The last time she dipped her hooves on the green was on March 29, 2012 and she overcame some adversity to defeated conditioned claimers over this course and trip.  That afternoon, she was looped and blindswitched by a horse making a premature wide move entering the final turn.  Sola Gratia stayed to her task, however, and eventually wore down the leaders in the final strides.  She takes a drop in class for her second race back and it's interesting to note that she won her maiden going dirt to turf in her second race following a layoff.  There doesn't appear to be much early speed in this race and Sola Gratia has enough positional zip to find a good spot under Joe Bravo.  It's difficult to trust most of the horses in this race, but I'll take a small stab with Sola Gratia.

#6 PROUDROAD TO GLORY was the beaten favorite in a similar spot fifteen days ago when she may have been compromised by a lack of pace to attack (the winner went gate-to-wire after setting moderate splits).  Claimed out of that race by David Vivian (4-21, 19%, $2.30 ROI over the past five years off the claim), Proudroad to Glory may face another difficult pace scenario in this spot.  Also, she hasn't reached the winner's circle since New Year's Eve 2011 and is on a ten-race losing streak.  She has the back numbers to compete, but I wonder if she'll get bet once again (5-1 or less in all starts save one since August 1, 2011), and I don't want to play any short prices here. 

#11 SPEEDY'S GAL received a beautiful trip when beating two next-out winners at Saratoga, but she failed to find that form in two subsequent starts (one over "good" going, the other off a two-plus month layoff).  She drew a tough post position for her first start of the year and trainer David Donk may be prepping her for the New York turf season later this spring (Donk has only run nine horses at Gulfstream over the past five years and is 1-25 over the past two seasons with horses returning from 61-180 day layoffs).  A repeat of that Saratoga race would put her in the mix here, however, and she figures to be a decent price under Joel Rosario.

#2 COUGAR AT HEART has back races that are certainly good enough to win and she takes a prodigious drop in class from an 'n2x' optional claimer at Tampa Bay on February 9 (four horses have returned from that race to crack the trifecta with 80+ Beyers).  The main issue with Cougar At Heart is that she hasn't won a race since September 5, 2011, but the class relief may solve that problem.  She ran well when wide off a glacial pace at Parx on September 16 and goes second off the layoff for a top, albeit struggling, trainer.  Cougar At Heart can certainly contend.

#9 SANSANNAH received a beautiful ride and trip when a half-length winner over similar at 7 1/2 furlongs on December 6.  She saved ground, eased out on the turn and prevailed despite being late to change leads and drifting out in the stretch.  She exits a race that was dominated by speed horses (the 1-2 finishers ran that way around the track) and she may have somewhat compromised by the way that race set up.  Sansannah was claimed from that start by Jose Garoffalo (2-39, 5%, $0.43 ROI over the past five years off the claim), a trainer that is 0-33 over the last year with turf starters.  I believe that Sansannah is better than her last running line and she was in decent form prior to that race.  She's not out of this at decent odds.

#1 ISLAND TIME has some angles in her favor as she drops in class for her second start following a five-month layoff.  She has good tactical speed, an excellent post position and figures to be in the thick of things when the field swings into the stretch.  The winner of the $91,000 Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth in 2010, Island Time also has the back class to factor.  She's very logical after chasing the solid Lemons to Lemonade (returned to finish third in a $25,000 starter allowance with a 78 Beyer), but she's going to get bet and I want a bigger price in a race like this.

#10 HERE'S D'BRIDE rallied stoutly for fourth behind the aforementioned Lemons to Lemonade (returned to beat Island Time for 40K) and Lexington Pearl (returned to win an optional claimer on dirt with a 78 Beyer before finishing second, ahead of the top pick, with an 89 Beyer on February 18).  She has a big stretch kick, but horses like this are usually at the mercy of race and pace luck, and the fractions may not be hot enough for her to truly appreciate.  Expect a good late rally, but she'll need pace help up front.

#8 JALAL hasn't raced since March 7, 2012 and has the tendency to be overeager in the early portion of her races.  She was in good form prior to the layoff and trainer Scooter Dickey has decent numbers with long layoff runners (Flat Out won off a 603-day break, Kingship finished second in a turf sprint stakes race at Saratoga following 502 days off).  Still, Jalal may need a run and she also likes to rally from out of it.  I'll take a wait-and-see approach for the time being.

#7 EXCHANGE MISS is 0-15 on grass and has beaten a total of six horses home in her last six starts.  The gray mare has been over 100-1 odds in her last two races and needs a major step forward to upset the apple cart this afternoon.

#5 STARSHIP SHAWTY is another that may have been compromised by the slow pace in that February 8 event and may be rounding back into form for the third start of the racing cycle.  Like several of the other entrants, however, Starship Shawty prefers to make one run and would likely need a good amount of hitting up front to properly setup her kick. 

#12 SEAMLESS has some early speed and might get good position going into the first turn despite being hung in the outside starting stall.  She might the one to take out of that February 8 race as she broke poorly and rallied for third despite the presence of much pace.  An alert break and aggressive ride could put Seamless into the race earlier today and that could be a big advantage.  I've never been a huge fan of hers, but she's not out of the equation.

#4 PLAYING FOR FUN has some positional speed and it would nice if Emma-Jayne Wilson decides to put her on or near the lead.  Playing for Fun didn't have the easiest trip in that February 8 race and would likely benefit from an aggressive early placement.  Still, I have the feeling that she may be a tad better on synthetic. 

Here's how I'll HandiGamble a very tough heat:


Best of luck to all.


The handicapping videos that Mike Beer and I produced for the weekend's major stakes races should be up on these links.






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


You can follow me on Twitter at DRF_DanIllman.

Keith More than 1 year ago
Whacky...I was out eating all you can beef and also cheeze and onion enchiladas! Oh, well! Glad you enjoyed your fare from Spain as much as I did mine from Mexico! LOL! Keith L.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
FomBlog Haiku (pt. 2) Elba is no locus For man or horse nor Seabass Ransom him for now vs
Dick W More than 1 year ago
I submit that DavidM9999 is the person who has discovered the most accurate track stretch distances :-) Dick W
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
So, here we are on Wednesday: GP Race #5 Spot play: #5 Prince of Spain 4C Giant's Causeway - Spain by Thunder Gulch Off over a year, picks up Prado M/L 12-1 Keith L where r u?? Take a shot $300 Win / Place Good Luck!!! Whackymacky Out!!!!
Penguinymous More than 1 year ago
About 20 years ago, I knew the local track publicist, MarkO, at my home track. He's a good handicapper and he thought he noticed some kind of discrepancy in the timing of the splits, probably because the timing poles weren't the right distance apart. So, we took my 100 foot tape measure and started measuring between the poles. I don't remember how the story ends, but when I thought of that incident today, the thought struck me that I can measure the distance from last turn to finish on my computer screen. Many racetracks follow a color scheme for saddlecloths. #1 is red, #2 is white, #3 is blue and so on. Most racetracks also follow a color scheme for the 1/4 poles, that being red and white horizontal stripes. My early racetrack education took place at one mile ovals with 990' from last turn to finish. Sun, SFE, TuP and SA. If we can agree Santa Anita and Golden Gate are one mile ovals with 990' from end of last turn to finish line, then we can measure other racetracks stretch distance. Watch replays at calracing.com Watch a replay from SA and GG, preferably a 6F race, and you will see a red and white horizontal striped pole just after the start. That is the 3/4 pole, meaning the horses are 3/4 of a mile from the finish line. The next red pole you see is the half mile pole and the next red pole is the 1/4 pole, meaning you are 1/4 of a mile from the finish. You will see the 1/4 split times come up just after passing each 1/4 pole at one mile and 6F distances. At these one mile tracks, the 1/4 pole is just a bit past halfway on the turn. If you watch carefully, you will see three other smaller black and green poles between 1/4 poles. These are all 1/16th of a mile apart. Planted right at the end of the curve of the turn is another pole, the 3/16th pole. From there, there is the 1/8th pole, the 1/16th pole and the finish line. A sixteenth of a mile is 110 yards, times three feet in a yard equals 330 feet, times 3 poles equals 990 feet. Voiala! Length of last turn to finish. Now watch a race from Hollywood park, a 1-1/8th mile circumference track and you will notice the 1/4 pole just about the same position on the turn. Planted right at the end of the turn is the 3/16th pole, with three more poles to go. The 1/8th pole, the 1/16th pole and the finish. 990 feet left to run to the finish line. Now watch a race from the Fairgrounds. Try DRF, under Video,under Stakes Replays, Saturday March 9, the 6F DF Kenner. We probably all agree this track has the longest stretch run at 1346'. When you see the last red 1/4 pole, it is not on the turn but now 20 to 30 feet past the end of the turn. So, 1/4 mile (1320') plus 20-30' equals 1340'-1350'. How do I know the 1/4 pole is 20-30' from the end of the turn? Count the posts under the safety rail. They are 10' apart. How do I know this? I spent my entire adult life working with these kind of things. Or, stop the video at about 1:21-1:23 and notice that the horse (generally accepted to be about 10ft long) fits between a couple of posts. Now watch a race from Gulfstream Park. Try DRF under Video, under Stakes Replays, the Gulfstream park handicap on March 9. At about 1:30, the track announcer, Larry Colmus says "as they come to the 1/8th pole" and just about then the 1/8th pole appears. So, where is the 1/4 pole? It is the red pole, two poles previous, just like SA and Hol, about the middle of the turn. Where is the 3/16th pole? Planted right at the end of the turn, just like SA and Hol. How far is 3/16th of a mile? 990 feet, if I am not mistaken. However, there is a slight problem here. After the eighth pole, their should only be two more poles, the sixteenth pole and the finish line. But there are three poles!!!! WTF! Did I make a mistake? No, thank the gods of horse racing, the extra pole is the alternate finish line. Phew!!! How do I know it is the alternate finish line? I pay attention to GP. Or just count the number of strides the rail horse takes between poles from the 3/16th home and he takes about half the number to the alternate finish. (So they can run 1-1/16th mile races and make them more fair to all the post positions) Is track configuration that important? Yes and no and probably not. I am only guessing, but if you did studies on frontrunners, pace pressers and come from behinders at FPX, a 5/8 mile track, SA at one mile and Hol at 1-1/8th mile, the per centages are probably within a couple of per cent. Not enough to blindly bet on a style. But it certainly does effect an individual race. Where is Uncle Steve when you need him? I am sticking with my contention that GP and Hol have 898feet and 990 feet stretch runs from last turn to finish and that the DRF stats, which I have never seen, are wrong. Ron Zuercher
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
David M, LOL! That sounds about right. Annie
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Stretch Length Interesting discussion on length of stretches at various tracks. One thing I have deduced over my many years at the track is this: When having a bet on a front runner all the home stretches are about 1/2 length too long. When having a bet on a stretch runner all the home stretches are about 1/2 L too short.
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
Ron Zuercher, Laura may also be able to contribute to this discussion as she has done a lot of research into female family numbers. Bruce Lowe was the original creator or family numbers 1-50. Over time, some of the families became so large that they were subdivided to keep track of the different branches and they were given an alphabetical designation which was used in conjunction with the numerical family number originally created by Bruce Lowe. So, for instance, when you see the family number 1-x that refers to the female family that descends from La Troienne. I’m not exactly sure who created the subdivisions but I believe that was originally done by Captain Kaziemierz Bobinski and Lt. Colonel Stefan Count Zamoyski who collaborated to produce "Family Tables of Racehorses." Since then, other family subdivisions have been added to the female families. In 2000, family 1-x (La Troienne) was created by Janeen Oliver. Here’s a listing of the different families: http://www.bloodlines.net/TB/Families/TaprootsEnglish.htm Here’s a link to a very good website about family numbers: http://www.bloodlines.net/TB/Families/FamilyNumbers.htm
Keith More than 1 year ago
Some Centers of Distribution/Dosage Index stats on recent newcomers to prominance on the Derby Trail Trail contenders.liastings. Rydilluc, by Medalglia d'Oro out of a Clever Trick mare, Palm Beach 9f Turf winner on 3/3; CD of 2.27, DI of 0.61 Hear the Ghost, by Ghostzapper out of a Coronado's Quest mare, San Fillipe winner 3/9; CD of 3.00, DI of 0.90. Verrazano, by More Than Ready out of a Giant's Causeway mare, Tam Bay Derby 3/9; CD 2.06. DI of 0.69 Mr. Palmer, by Pulpit out of a Unbridled's Song mare, Private Terms at 9f winner, 3/9; CD 3.62, DI of 0.83. Keith L.
Gerty Golittle More than 1 year ago
Annie, Re your Spring wardrobe. I think you're OK! This morning as I opened the back door (to let the dog out) a chipmunk popped up between the patio stones. I've never seen one this early in the year before - so perhaps it's a good omen! knm