05/17/2013 2:38PM

HandiGambling the Preakness


The HandiGambling exercise for Saturday, May 18 is the twelfth race from Pimlico, the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at 1 3/16 miles for 3-year-olds.




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.


Let's take a look at the past performances for 1979 Preakness winner, and all time great, SPECTACULAR BID.  They're at the bottom of this blog post.


How to make money with ORB?  If you like him, it's not going to happen in the win pool as the Kentucky Derby winner is likely to fall in the 3-5 range at post time.  That's way too short for a very good colt that won the Derby with a clean trip over a wet track in a race dominated by closers.  I won't argue with anyone that plays against Orb in the win pools on Saturday, although all of his opponents have some sort of question mark hanging over their heads.  I believe that Orb is the best horse, however, and will key him in multi-race wagers like the guaranteed $1.5M Pick 4 on Saturday. 

For HandiGambling, I'll utilize the Pimlico Special/Preakness two-day Double that Penn National Rick mentioned as an acceptable wager. 

The Pimlico Special also looks very chalky, but perhaps combining the two races will provide a semi-acceptable payout.

In the Pimlico Special, LAST GUNFIGHTER (#7) simply looks like the best horse.   A lightly-raced 4-year-old, Last Gunfighter is perfect in five starts for trainer Chad Brown.  Most recently, he gave a breakout performance in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.  After being bounced around early, Last Gunfighter settled in the pocket before being checked along the rail turning for home.  He eased to the outside in upper stretch, angled back inside when the pacesetter began to wander and drew away late under merely a hand ride. He acts like he'll run all day and has enough tactical speed to stay within range of the pacesetter.  If he improves just a bit, he'll be extremely tough to beat.

While I am tempted to play my entire HandiGambling bundle on a Last Gunfighter - Orb double, I do realize that EIGHTTOFASTTOCATCH is the controlling speed in the Pimlico Special. He's a hard-hitting veteran that is capable of hanging up triple-digit Beyers, especially when loose on the lead.  I'm a bit worried about the distance as 9 1/2 furlongs may be pushing it, but if the rest of the field leaves Eighttofasttocatch to his own devices, he could certainly make them pay.

As for the Derby, it's Orb for me.  You can watch the full video analysis from Mike Beer and myself on the homepage immediately following today's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:


Best of luck to all.


The Saturday graded stakes video analyses that Mike Beer and I produced should be all up on the website by this evening.


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


You can follow me on Twitter at DRF_DanIllman.

Spectacular Bid.pdf67.29 KB
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
Bernard, It's not really the person, but, more the words that struck a nerve with me!!! I'm not looking to get into it with anyone, especially someone who's answered my silly questions in great detail, as CVS has!! Jeanne
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Ron Z Good comments as always. 2 of your comments got my attention. First of all I did not know that DRF Bets charged a $2 fee for inactivity. I am surprised that I have not been hit with that charge as my account has not been very active. Perhaps I have been tossing out a small wager just often enough to avoid that charge. However, if they do hit me with such a charge, they will also lose me as a customer. Although a few folks from the blog have suggested that I consider opening an account with Twin Spires, I have not done so as I have been with DRF Bets for awhile and have had only a few bad experiences with them. This brings me to your other comment that resonated with me. You are definitely correct regarding the insanity of being required to transfer your account to xpressbet in order to bet on the Derby. I don't know enough about this situation to assign blame. Is it Chuchill Downs or is it DRF or is it both ? But referring to it as insanity is no stretch. Here I was the morning of the derby ready, willing and eager to give my money to someone (Churchill Downs ?), and they made it very inconvenient for me to do so including a call to DRF customer service. They couldn't figure out a way to make it transparent to the customer ? Unbelievable ! Oh, and by the way, none of my bets were winning ones :-) Dick W
Rodney More than 1 year ago
Bernard...I am also familiar with the style of racing we watch daily.........its not a timed heat, its the tactics in the race........ We take no notice of time in Europe...its who wins the race. Thats why I find someone like Curtis very narrow minded and perhaps blinkered. He's never experiencenced anything but US racing and Seattle Slew, whom he may have watched and read about as a young boy....I don't think he's too old Bernard....as he wouldn't spout such nonsense on a regular basis. If the global racing world revolves around Seattle Slew , then Coolmore and Juddmonte are in for a hard time.... Sad that he is so self focused and narrow minded Bernard, but the big money guys are not centered on the US Triple Crown...it is merely a sideshow in global racing.....there is only ONE Derby, where it all began. Ask Coolmore people the ONE race they want to win...its 3000 miles from Kentucky.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Bernard; “Just think how much of your lives you could reclaim by not worrying about likely pace scenarios”? Really? While your comment/question did made me laugh, I suppose I should take it seriously and answer for myself. Understand this, Bernard…it is highly doubtful that anyone here (or elsewhere) actually “worries” about likely pace scenarios. And if they actually do “worry” about them, as you put it, then I might actually find myself in agreement with you. As for factoring pace into one’s handicapping arsenal, then yes, I would say many (myself included) use pace as an integral part of solving the handicapping puzzle… but mostly as it concerns races contested on dirt. Find a copy of Modern Pace Handicapping, by Tom Brohamer. Read it. It will clear a lot up for you. Many of us here have much to worry about, but likely pace scenarios are likely low down on the list. Certainly below worrying about you. We love you here, and you are an English Treasure to us here on FormBlog. But that’s the only reason we would worry about you.☺ late vs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoa! I'm sure that I had read, "DON'T choke on your meds." Not "Choke on your meds." After Curtis had gone on again about the greatness of Seattle Slew, I took it as he was implying that Bernard must be on something if he doesn't recognize Slew's greatness and was making a flippant comment. I did look back so I could read it again, and apparently the post had been removed. I am quite sure that if I had read something as mean as "Choke on your meds", I would have responded immediately telling him to darn well cut it out. Curtis may have a different style of communicating, but I don't believe he is mean. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rick, Saw your question to Dan about "too much hype on the pace of the race". I wonder if I can add a secondary question, possibly controversial, but genuine. Do you / Dan / anyone else ever wonder whether US handicappers waste too much of their lives thinking about the pace in the race? As long as you correctly identify the horse that is going to run fastest between the Start and the Finish (ignoring all points in between), the time of the run (and the early, mid race or late fractions) are completely irrelevant. The only essential is to be in front at the Winning Post. There is no extra prize money (or betting rewards) for leading all the way. Nor for coming from off the pace. One purse, one starting price. Just think how much of your lives you could reclaim by not worrying about the likely pace scenario? Best Regards - Bernard Downes
PennNatRick More than 1 year ago
Dan, As we all know your article for the blog for this week will be about Oxbow. Good to see Gary Stevens get a TC race win from coming off retirement. However, I have a few questions that hopefully you can answer or offer some insight on your thoughts. 1) On Paper Orb was the horse to beat. Do you feel that Social Media played a huge role painting Orb as a cinch for this race basically leaving us to just pick the horses behind Orb?? 2) Do you think there was too much hype on the pace of this race? Seemed like everyone was screaming that TT5, Goldencents, LuckyDay, Gov. Charlie would dictate that pace, but it was only Oxbow. 3) Follow up to Question 2: Do you think the inexperience with some of the jocks may have compromised the performances of their mounts? Thanks Dan! Rick
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Investigative Reporting- Lack of I am running a bit behind reading the Blog this week but I want to agree with TBTA’s idea of the unmet appetite for some hard hitting journalism from the DRF. I get that the DRF is a racing publication primarily geared to gambling on the races. That should be the primary focus. However, when the situation calls for it I think the DRF, as the country’s #1 publication for this sport, should lead not follow. Instead of having three writers give us vaue or wise picks for upcoming races in print each weekend why not tackle a politically delicate but important industry issue. I get the strong sense that the DRF does not want to create controversy or look under the hood. I don’t know if it is a bit of cronyism or upper management feels an apparently functioning industry means prosperity for the DRF. I apologize if that is a mischaracterization. Other sites have surpassed the DRF unfortunately in this area during recent years. Why not some investigative articles on the issues of the day, designer drugs, trainer positives, tracks unwillingness to address trainer issues (Tampa), progress or lack of progress is protecting the public from post-race start wagering, soundness of horses, synthetics, slaughter, review of NYRA and operations. The list is endless so I will end but you can fill in the blanks. I do love the DRF. I have been reading it for almost 40 years now. I think there are areas where some behind the scenes journalism would be fascinating and beneficial. Annie: I am a bit of racing traditionalist in this area so the dog and pony shows are turn offs to me. Several tracks make these promotions work in terms of increasing the crowd. Not sure if it does anything for handle but beer and hot dog sales skyrocket in western Kentucky for sure. For me personally when Ellis Park (Ron Geary) puts these things on I would just stay home. My daily handleof several thousand dollars is lost to them. The crowd at Ellis Park on these days is annoying and a burden for me as a player (drunks, long lines, slow betting , etc). The tracks are desperate so I can understand the motivation. They can bring out a 1,000 extra people while hoping a few bet the daily double and possibly come back in the future. Not being a kill joy but not my thing although I know folks (some lifelong bettors) that love to see the camels, ostriches, and dachshunds run. I do like scholarship give aways for the younger folks or an occassional concert (post race and only if it does not upset the horses or track conditions).
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
To Okiesharp: You are correct. There were horses finishing in the money from Aqu on Preakness weekend. They had a cumulative record of 10- 3-2-1. The three winners paid $2.60, $5.40, $6.60 A 6/5 fav finished 2nd A 2.4 to 1 finished 2nd A 2-1 fav finished 3rd If you go back and look at the charts again, you will notice that the horses in the money were only racing against horses from Pim, CT, Ind, Lrl, PRX and the losers were racing against Kee, OP, CD. The horses were well placed by the trainers and overbet by the public. Though this blog entry neither proves nor disproves nor really even mentions Beyers, my experience says quite a few false favorites from Aqu can be found in upcoming races because of their inflated Beyers earned against lesser stock. When I find some, I will try to let you know in advance and test my theory. RonZ
Penguin ymous More than 1 year ago
NEW BUSINESS To Alan: My memory tells me Pimlico is one of your home tracks, but whatever gave you the idea to do your little study? Van Savant: After watching Stevens and Lukas take two in a row at longshot prices, your paraphrased comment of "well, that's horse racing" just might be the answer. Maybe racing should be played more by the seat of the pants instead of following the navigation charts. Thanks for the link to Fastcompany. Looks like some interesting articles. Concerning DRF selling editorial content, I suppose it is inevitable. However, DRF BEts lost me as a customer when they charged my account $2 for inactivity. The two other ADW sites I have don't do that. Kind of like charging you admission to a garage sale. Twinspires has free past performances if you make a bet on the track that you download the pp. Though I prefer DRF pp's and Formulator, these other racing sites are not sitting still either and will do their best to take business from DRF. DRF Bets does not have a way to keep a history of your bets and therefore to dissect your history and find your strengths and weaknesses while others do have that invaluable service. To DRF: You have some improving to do or you might shoot yourself in both feet. Come on!! DRF Bets accounts have to be transferred to Xpressbet to bet on the Kentucky Derby!!!! You can make a one day deal but you can't make a season long deal? Insanity. Ron Zuercher