05/15/2009 12:27PM

HandiGambling the Preakness

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Saturday's HandiGambling 133 exercise will be the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico. 

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.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. 

The same rules for the Kentucky Derby HandiGambling exercise will apply for the Preakness.  There is a $2 minimum Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Daily Double wager.  You can spend the $100 in any fashion.

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 process about wagering, it would be appreciated.

After what happened in Louisville two weeks ago, I have absolutely no idea how the Preakness will shake out.  Mine That Bird's shocking victory would shake the confidence of any handicapper that's every consulted a Daily Racing Form.  Thankfully, the Black-Eyed Susan/Derby double is part of the HandiGambling equation because I love a horse in the filly race on Friday.  Her name is...

PAYTON D'ORO (#2)

A daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, one of the better nine-furlong horses in recent memory, Payton d'Oro made her first four starts in sprint distances, and couldn't grab the brass ring.  She was stakes-placed in a little restricted race at Philadelphia Park, but that certainly didn't distinguish her from the pack as a filly with potential. Since Larry Jones stretched Payton d'Oro around two turns, however, the story has been a lot different.  Payton d'Oro won three in a row going a mile at Oaklawn Park, and never was shown the stick in any of those races.  Last time out, in the Instant Racing Stakes, she was bumped going into the first turn, and raced wide throughout before making a silky smooth move to the front on the final bend.  She won without any urging from her rider, and has the tactical speed to be on or near slow fractions in the Black-Eyed Susan. 
While both CASANOVA MOVE (#7) and DON'T FORGET GIL (#8) have run some solid races, and must be considered prime contenders, I'm not exactly frightened of them.  The former's lone win came in gate-to-wire fashion going six furlongs at Saratoga last year, and she hasn't shown much of a stretch punch in her recent races.  Don't Forget Gil is a bit of a rogue.  Make sure you check out her behavior in the paddock and post parade.  If she looks nervous, you may want to downgrade her chances slightly. 

In the Preakness, I whittled my play down to five main contenders, and I'm still not very confident. 

BIG DRAMA (#1) showed dogged determination when returning from an injury-induced layoff in the Swale, and has now finished first in his last six races.  I'm worried about the extra distance, but his good speed should have him in front heading into the clubhouse turn, and it's possible that the other jocks will attempt to float Rachel Alexandra (Big Drama's main pace rival) wide at that juncture.  I must admit that I'm concerned about the equipment change.  I guess trainer David Fawkes doesn't adhere to the adage that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  If Big Drama doesn't relax without his usual eyewear, Fawkes' decision to change gears before the biggest race of his life could be Buckner-esque. 
If the other riders decide to worry about Rachel and The Bird, Big Drama may make them pay on the front end.

The exploits of RACHEL ALEXANDRA (#13) have been well-documented on this blog.  She seems like a special filly, but is wheeling back on short rest against much-tougher competition, and will have to hustle hard from the gate to avoid being forced wide on the first turn.  I wouldn't be surprised in the least if she wins this race.  She is certainly capable of sitting just off the pace, and may inherit the front if Big Drama's pedigree gives out at the quarter-pole.  She must be used.

So, too, must MINE THAT BIRD (#2).  I'm not really a believer just yet, and do think that he was aided by the slick racing strip at Churchill on the first Saturday in May, but he absolutely dominated those horses.  There is a possibility of a Big Drama - Rachel Alexandra showdown on the backstretch, and the resulting quick fractions would certainly aid late-running Mine That Bird.  Is he the real deal?  I don't know.  Will I get burned by him again by not including him in my wagers?  Nope.

Jim Tully made some interesting points about TAKE THE POINTS (#11), and I agree that the gray colt may be worth inclusion in the exotics at a huge price.  I'm not convinced that he'll stay this trip, but he tried very hard out in Southern California, and may not have been at his best over the Pro-Ride racing surface at Santa Anita.  I liked his win at Gulfstream three back, and the addition of blinkers will have him into the bit (and the race) early.

PAPA CLEM (#7) may be better on fast dirt than the slop, and it didn't help that he faced freakish performances from Friesan Fire (Louisiana Derby), and Mine That Bird (Kentucky Derby) in those wet-track races.  I like his tactical speed, and his Arkansas Derby was certainly solid.  He'll be a good price so I'll toss him into the mix.

As for the rest:

MUSKET MAN (#3) is a courageous little fellow, and he tried his heart out in the Kentucky Derby.  He hasn't won a bad one, and should work out a good stalking trip, but I have a nagging suspicion that nine furlongs is his limit.  I won't be surprised if he wins, but I'll try to beat him.

LUV GOV (#4), named after disgraced politician Elliot Spitzer, is certainly bred to get the distance, but he's hard to like stepping up off a maiden win in the slop. 

FRIESAN FIRE (#5), the beaten favorite in the Derby, had an excuse when he grabbed a quarter, but I hate playing horses in these big races off of even minor injuries or ailments.  Things usually have to fall just right healthwise for these horses, and I wonder if Friesan Fire is still feeling any residual effects from the Derby debacle. 


TERRAIN (#6) has a puncher's chance is the track is fast, but he failed to pass a tiring Papa Clem when given every opportunity to do so in the Louisiana Derby.  I'm not sure the distance suits him either, and he'll need to improve in order to win this race. 

GENERAL QUARTERS (#8), like Musket Man, is a courageous sort, and his good-bad pattern is pointing to an improved performance on Saturday.  I've never been a huge fan of this gray colt, however, and he'll have to move forward just a little bit to get the big piece of the pie.  Still, nothing would surprise me after what we saw in the Derby.

Certainly, a victory by PIONEEROF THE NILE (#9) wouldn't be a surprise.  The consistent colt looked like a winner on the far turn of the Derby, but ran out of steam when The Bird blew on by.  A very consistent son of Empire Maker, Pioneerof the Nile is another that could work out a nice trip from the second flight, but I'm not sure he's a great play as the second choice.

FLYING PRIVATE (#10) didn't pick up his feet in the Derby.  The obvious excuse would be the mud, but Flying Private's only lifetime win came at six furlongs last year at Saratoga.  He looks to be in too steep.

TONE IT DOWN (#12) is the local hope, and his connections insist that he'll be taken off the pace after faltering in the Tesio.  If he wins, it would be Mine That Bird-like in the shock appeal.

Here are my plays:

$10 Oaks-Derby Doubles - Payton D'Oro with Big Drama, Mine That Bird, Papa Clem, Take the Points, and Rachel Alexandra (1 with 1,2,7,11,13) = $50

$25 Win/Place - Big Drama (1) = $50

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Some other quick and dirty selections for the stakes races at Pimlico:

MISS PREAKNESS - Heart Ashley

ALLAIRE DUPONT DISTAFF - Skylighter

WILLIAM DONALD SCHAEFER - EA

GALLORETTE - Social Queen

MARYLAND SPRINT - Torpedo Run

DIXIE - Parading


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Reflecting on a past Preakness winner, can you post PP's for Aloma's Ruler? Believe he ran for maiden claimer at the Meadowlands and later went on to get his glory down at Pimlico..
dk

Aloma's Ruler never raced for a tag, but he won the  Withers a week before the Preakness.  Here are his past performances:

Download Aloma's Ruler

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Dan,
Read that Julian Leparoux won his 1,000 race.  Could you please post the info on his first winner?  Wasn't it at Saratoga?  In fact, thought he won on a horse by the name of Ball Four.  That one just one a Grade 2 stakes race at HOL last weekend.
Thanks.

Leparoux's first win did come at Saratoga.  Here's the chart:

Download Leparoux#1

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I just watched the documentary on Lost in the Fog.  It was a great film and really displayed the heart and class of the champion Lost in the Fog.  Anyway you could post his PPs for us?
Travers

Here they are:

Download Lost in the Fog

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Best of luck this weekend to all.