05/04/2012 3:49PM

HandiGambling the Kentucky Derby!


This week's HandiGambling 280 exercise is Saturday's eleventh race at Churchill Downs, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles for 3-year-olds.



Note that Oaks/Derby Daily Double wagering will be allowed in the HG exercise.
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.

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.

Best of luck to all.


My record in the Kentucky Derby is dismal so my goal this year is to try and get alive into the race and load up in the Derby with several contenders.  That means Pick 4's and Pick 3's for me on Saturday.  For HandiGambling purposes, I'll play the Oaks/Derby Double. 

In yesterday's blog, I mentioned ON FIRE BABY as my Oaks preference, and I will key her in the bet.  Although her pedigree is a bit questionable for nine furlongs, she's run some impressive races and could work out a nice pace-tracking, ground-saving trip from her inside post position. 

As for the Derby, I'm planning on using five horses.  They are:

#1 DADDY LONG LEGS.  Although he drew a terrible post position and ran poorly in his only start on dirt, I'm hoping that the Daddy Long Legs that returns to Churchill Downs this year is a more mature version of the one we saw in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  The pace should be swift in the Derby and that could set things up for a one-run closer that will appreciate the distance.  While Daddy Long Legs raced close to the pace when winning the UAE Derby at 1 3/16 miles, the fractions were soft and he'll be near the back of the back in the early stages of the Derby.  I truly believe that he's a much-better horse than the Coolmore runner that finished fifth in last year's Derby, Master of Hounds.  Of course, it looks like this Derby is deeper than last year's edition.  If Daddy Long Legs was 10-1, I wouldn't touch him considering the major question surrounding surface.  He should be closer to 40-1, however, and will use him in the hope of an epic pace collapse.

#5 DULLAHAN has the same question to answer regarding dirt as both of his career victories came over the Keeneland polytrack.  He's another closer that should benefit from demanding fractions up front and his prior dirt races can be forgiven (two sprints probably didn't suit this half-brother to Derby winner Mine That Bird and he did pass some horses in the Juvenile).  He profited from the fast pace set by Hansen in the Blue Grass and should be running late in the Derby.  I'm concerned that he'll be bet into underlay status as there appears to be some steam on him, but he could offer decent value in the Double.

#6 BODEMEISTER is simply the fastest horse in the race.  He has three triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures and the rest of the 19-horse field has three triple-digit Beyers sprinkled among them.  His lack of experience coupled with a hot pace up front could work against Bodemeister, but he's one talented racehorse and I don't want him to knock me out of any multi-race wagers.  I'm looking for him to track TRINNIBERG, get first jump on the closers and be the one they have to run down in the stretch.

#11 ALPHA is a gritty little fellow and he ran a nice race despite some trouble in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.  He boasts improving Beyer Speed Figures and a running style that should appreciate some pace to attack.  I'm a bit concerned about his recent physical issues (infected left shin, grabbed quarter, cut right front ankle) that forced him to miss a workout after the Wood, but I do trust his excellent trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin.  Although Alpha's lone bad race to date came over this surface, it should be noted that he freaked out in the gate and then bled during the running of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  Hopefully, his gate woes are behind him.  He's a solid performer that should offer some value.

#15 GEMOLOGIST is undefeated, sports a versatile running style and is trained by Todd Pletcher so his merits are obvious on paper.  He also displayed courage in the Wood Memorial by turning back Alpha's midstretch bid.  I don't like the way he moves as he paddles badly with his left fore, but Gemologist has done nothing wrong in his short career and has run well over this surface in the past.  He should wind up stalking the leaders and the goal could be to follow BODEMEISTER and HANSEN when they bid for the lead.

For HG, I'll play:


Best of luck to all.


Here are some quick-and-dirty selections for Churchill and Hollywood.



More importantly, my 5-year-old niece, Olivia Katherine Duckworth, who correctly selected Mine That Bird a couple of years ago, is back with her annual Kentucky Derby prediction:


Best of luck to all.

Ned Daly More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes, Thank you for your continued attempts to raise the bar on Formblog. Clarity and directness will save us all a lot of headaches. This form of communication is notorious for problems. As we say here "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brian, My reply to your reply appears to have disappeared, so I would like to repeat the general point. I said thank you for the clarification you provided, and I expressed the hope that my original post had not been taken as an attack. I suggested that posts on here reflect the many different ways we have of expressing ourselves and that I didn't think that Keith's words were meant to be hurtful. I hope this clarifies the situation from my point of view. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Brian More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes, Thanks for the reply. When the word is written, it can be difficult to decipher one's true intention. baltimore_brian
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calvin, You asked about the Derrinstown Derby Trial being run on 13 May at Leopardstown. There are 14 entries, 7 from Aidan O'Brien. Whilst he loves to have multiple runners, 7 is too many for anyone, so I expect the final field will be much less than 14. There is no betting as yet, but based on the Epsom Derby futures odds, the leading contenders are, Akeed Mofeed - Best Price 14/1 for Epsom Light Heavy - 25/1 Ernest Hemingway - 25/1 Wrote - 33/1 Athens - 40/1 Akeed Mofeed is said to be a real prospect, but seems to have some fitness issues. We will see. If I see any actual betting in advance of the race, I will try to post it. Best Regards - Bernard Downes
Gerty Golittle More than 1 year ago
Brian, I, too, am glad you're back. And that you're still married, lol! BTW, in regard to my reply to Bernard, I am KNM alias Gerty Golittle, not Gerry. I don't always remember to add my old moniker.
Brian More than 1 year ago
KNM, Sorry for misreading your handle. This format is new to me.
Meathead More than 1 year ago
I have decided that from now on I will watch how the winner returns from the backside after his win.I dont always do this but TBTA blogged in february here after the RBLewis win by Ill Have Another the following not word for word cant cut and paste(curt V) : Take a look at IHA coming back from the backside after the RBLewis. When he first picked up his trot after turning around, the horse absolutely FLOATED. His extension was beautiful and effortless. You dont get that kind of front end elevation without a bit of power from behind. He just trotted effortlessly, then picked up the cantor as smoth as silk. (Im sure there were some dressage riders drooling......I was. That horse barely took a brealth and looked fresh as a daisy after the race. My opinion: A step up in distance will not bother this horse as long as he is trained properly and stays healthy. TBTA I went back and looked at her remarks because I somewhat recalled them after I picked IHA to win the RBLewis on this blog and in the PH contest I really enjoyed her analysis of IHA after the race. Now I am going to take a long look at the return of the horse after the finish and with any luck I will see what TBTA is looking for I dont know horses like that for sure I am learning a lot from this blog thanks TBTA and others here that know what to look for. I have always turned the page after the race is over BUT NO MORE. MH01
Yogi Doggy More than 1 year ago
That's our eagle eyed body language specialist.
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Meathead01{yeah 01, the 1 & only}, C'mon my man..Just think, I could learn you{that's the way I say it} how to copy & paste faster than it took you to copy all that stuff longhand......& here's the best..once you learn to Copy & Paste, it's w/you forever & you learn it ONE time. You may just have to copy longhand for as long as your'e on this planet..Lmao... Curt V.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Can someone please explain this 'logic' to me. "Bode's effort was like few others in Derby history..." (Andy Beyer). "the time (2:01:83) translated into a beyer speed figure (for IHA) of 101! The second worst in the last 20 years. If IHA can't do any better than this on a day when everything was in his favor (like starting from post 19 Andy ???) It sorely would be rash to speculate that he might be able to sweep the triple crown series" (Andy Beyer)." Now we all know who Andy picked to win the Derby. So he's still trying to justify his pick ! We also know his second pick finished up the track. We also know that he assigned IHA a 94 beyer for his 1:47 and change 1 1/8 in the SA derby, while Gemologist got a 98 for his 1:50 in the Wood. I am looking for another big effort from IHA in the Preakness. Obviously he won't be anywhere near 15 to 1, but I hope all the negative talk continues and maybe his price won't be too bad. He may not win but I will be very surprised if he is not in the tri. He will be my pick for the win. Dick W
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
Kentucky Derby 138 Wrap Up: http://bit.ly/JnukNM
Dick W More than 1 year ago
As usual, very nice work on the Derby Calvin. While I had the top 2 and did just fine, I did overlook both Dullahan and Went the Day Well. I should have paid more attention to your analysis :) Dick W
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
Thanks Dick W!
Alan Levitt More than 1 year ago
Lost in the Derby news this week was the performance of Emcee, a "Formblog Watch Horse", in an allowance win at Belmont on Saturday.  He won the 7f race by 4.5L with a 107 Beyer.  Next stop....?True North? I'm finally going to the Preakness this year.  I was invited (not really true...I asked to be invited through a friend) as a guest of a Maryland racing affiliated corpioration.  Hopefully I'll do a better job handicapping the Preakness card than I did this past Saturday!  I can't do much worse!  I'm sure I'll be asked my opinion on races throughout the day...never fun, as many of you know.  Now I gotta figure out what I'm gonna wear! And Roman Tango is pregnant!  She was "served", as they say, by Etched two weeks ago and the ultrasound is positive....for a future Derby winner!
Meathead More than 1 year ago
alan Im sure you will pick a lot of good horses at pimlico have fun and will be looking for you on the tube for sure. MH01
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Alan Congrats on Roman Tango ...next year you will be a proud 'dad' again. Good luck with the breeding ! SR Vegas
Keith More than 1 year ago
Hey Alan: Not letting you get off to Pimlico without first providing a little trash talking for your Street Life, running in the Peter Pan. The Lumber Guy wants you to let your horse know that SL ain't getting within 10 lengths of him when the wire comes up. But as I'm an equal opportunity offender, I'll be dishing out a little to SR Vegas as she has the Larry Jones stalker Mark Valesky in the race too; I do think its possible that your horse may catch that guy, but that beeing the case, its going to be a NY Bred exacta..just that my GUY will be laying down the wood sooooooo far out in front in the stretch run that all the other horses will just be getting a whiff of burned sawdust to know he was in the vanguard! Keith L.
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes, I have not looked at the entire card of the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial but Ernest Hemingway has a very good pedigree and his maiden debut win by 10 lengths was very impressive. Do you have the odds for this card? Is Wrote the favorite?
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Looks like Alex and Alan both had Derby Day's similar to mine. Parimutuelly speaking I was atrocious (one Pick 3 $288 hit, thanks Little Mike!). Ex Giant football coach Bill Parcells says you are what your record says you are. Well it is certanily ugly so far in 2012. Other news: Several of my close friends live in Henderson and regularly play/race at Ellis Park. They report the place badly needs some TLC. Grass not mowed yet even though the doors opened in early April for simulcasting. Other areas of disrepair were noted. Hopefully owner Ron Geary can find a dime or two to at least keep the place looking presentable. I suppose all the money is going into Instant Racing machines.Talk about going "all in". I certainly hope this concept brings in fans but have doubts with a full river boat five miles away. If I was was a slot player (I am not) I cannot imagine Instant Racing doing much for me. Kentucky Downs reports good action on them but again they don't have a full riverboat upstream. Other gamblers tell me at least they recently brought in some replacement betting machines (previously used but better than the old ones). All second hand comments so please weigh in if this is off the mark. I basically have gave up on the place a couple years back after seeing the current operation. Sad to see the track you spent so many days at struggle but times are tough across the thoroughbred world.