08/05/2010 12:48PM

HandiGambling The Latham


Today's HandiGambling 197 exercise is the ninth race from Saratoga, the $70,000 Latham Stakes for three-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the 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 to the blog. Past performances are available on the previous blog post. 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 FIRM.

Let's scratch #10 THAT'STHEQUESTION.

I'm going to go three deep in my multi-race wagers while trying to defeat the morning line favorites.

#1 DAZZLED SAINT certainly deserves a chance at the big time after going gate-to-wire in three fast sprints over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs. The sire, Saint Afleet, was a Grade 2 sprint winner on the main track, but was 0-2 on grass. He is 0-3 with first-turf runners. The dam won 11 times in her career, but she was 0-2 on the turf. This is her first foal to try the sod. I have to admit that I'm concerned about the lack of turf pedigree as well as the other early speeds in the race and one has to wonder what exactly he's been beating up on in Pennsylvania (the third-finisher last time returned to finish second in the Ontario County Stakes at Finger Lakes with a 92 Beyer).
While there are some negatives, you can't deny that the horse is in sharp form and should offer a good price. Garrett Gomez likely will send and hope for the best. I'll hope for the best as well.

#2 NEVER CONTENT pulled off a 20-1 shocker in his turf debut at Belmont on May 10, but he looked good that day, going right to the front and blitzing the field in 1:07 4/5 for six furlongs. He had some trouble last time out at Monmouth Park, shows a 58 bullet work over the turf in preparation for this, and may attempt to work out a pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Javier Castellano.

#6 DON'T SAY NO could possibly be the "speed of the speed." He'll be tested for class shipping up from Calder for Steven Dimauro (high-percentage in turf sprints), but the third-place finisher of the last race returned to win on grass with an 84 Beyer in an entry-level optional claimer. Don't Say No should be prominent early. With only three races on his form, it's possible that we've yet to see his best.

As for the others.

#3 WESTOVER WILDCAT is a stakes-winner on dirt, but hasn't raced since January due to a reported injury to his right front foot. Perhaps the grass will be easier on his hooves and he has some turf bloodlines. The sire, unraced on grass, is 37-316 (12%) with first-turf runners. Both sire and dam were unraced on grass, but both possess class. Westover Wildcat has been working swiftly for this and his good tactical speed should serve him well in this spot. I'm just not sure he's a great bet coming off an injury-induced layoff while trying something for the first time.

#4 RED RALLY makes the third start of the form cycle after popping and stopping on dirt at Indiana Downs. He's won on grass in the past and may revert to the stalking style that's worked well for him in his career. He's run some fast races on dirt, but needs to improve on his 2010 form to run these down.

#5 BRIDGETOWN, a Grade 3 winner going a one-turn mile on turf at Woodbine last year, almost stole the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in 2009 before failing as the beaten favorite in the Grade 3 Generous at Hollywood Park. He was a course and distance winner of his maiden in 2009 and shows very fast workouts for his 2010 debut, but this is a long, long layoff he'll have to deal with.

#7 ESCROW KID was disqualified from first in the Anderson Fowler Stakes for three-year-olds two starts back and then had a tough trip against good older runners in the Grade 3 Jaipur last time out. He's an interesting runner that should be moving well at the end of the race. Beyer fans will note that he hasn't run a "fast" race yet, but the race dynamics work to his favor.

#8 FLAMIN' HOT should be heard from in the Latham. He is a perfect 4-4 on the grass and may have found six furlongs a bit too far when run down in the waning strides of the Tom Ridge Stakes over Tapeta two starts back. Like Escrow Kid, he should get a good pace to attack, but Im' not too keen on the 25-day gap between the last two published workouts.

#9 ENUMERATE may have found his niche as a turf sprinter as he ran down 'n2x' optional claimers in his grass debut at Monmouth on July 4. He'll likely have to run faster here, but you're going to get a good price on an in-form runner with excellent connections.

I'll play it this way for HG.

$100 Win - Dazzling Saint (1)

Best of luck to all.