08/06/2011 10:28AM

HandiGambling The Whitney


Today's HandiGambling 245 exercise is the tenth race from Saratoga, the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at nine furlongs.
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 names of the horses.

Past performances are available at 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.


The main track is fast.

The Whitney is a fascinating race as just about all of the entrants have a proper chance to win. 

While this year's handicap division has been mostly mediocre, the one upside is that we get competitive races with full fields.  Perhaps the Whitney winner will grab the division by the throat as we slowly make our way to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

The Whitney is part of a big Pick 4 pot at Saratoga.  While it's tempting to hit the "ALL" button, it's simply too costly in a sequence with several other contentious races.  Thus, I'll take a stand with two 'A' runners while saving with one other. 



You all know I'm a sucker for stories of courage and class and #1 FLAT OUT has overcome so many physical obstacles en route to becoming today's morning line favorite.  He's battled bruised feet, quarter cracks and even a fractured shoulder during his nine-race career.  Finally, in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont, he put it all together, putting up a 113 Beyer Speed Figure in a visually-impressive performance.  Flat Out raced 3-4 wide throughout in the Suburban before blowing the doors off the competition in the stretch.  It's easy to knock the Suburban as the Beyer is so out of whack with Flat Out's other races that one must wonder if the performance was an anomaly.  Plus, Flat Out seemed to relish the one-turn layout of Belmont's main track and he'll have to go two turns at Saratoga.  Also, the Suburban wasn't a very strong race from a class perspective (although two of the also-rans returned to win).  Flat Out will need to bring his 'A' game once more against tougher competition.  I wonder if those question marks will leave bettors cold on Flat Out's win chances, perhaps inflating his price to playable odds.  He WAS good last time out. Really good.  There is pace to set up his late kick and he should save valuable ground going into the first turn.  I'm expecting him to charge hard in the stretch.  With a case like Flat Out, it's all about price.  If he goes off at 5-2, you probably should view him with a pessimistic eye.  If he is 4-1 or higher, you can gamble on his good last race. I'm hoping he goes off at 4-1 or higher. 

Like Flat Out, #5 TIZWAY has had terrible problems with his feet.  He boasts a record of 7-3-0-3 since trainer H. James Bond outfitted Tizway with glue-on shoes and Tizway put up a big figure in his most recent race, beating two next-out winners in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at one mile.  I am a bit skeptical of Tizway's 113 Beyer as he raced on the pace over a track that seemed to favor speed.  Also, Tizway might be more comfortable at slightly shorter distances than this nine furlongs.  On his best day, however, he puts up good figures and he was fourth in last year's Whitney before finishing third in the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont (while perhaps battling his feet).  Tizway should be up close to the pace and could get the jump on some of the main contenders.  In a division full of question marks, a handicapper has to gamble on some horses with obvious question marks.  Again, it all comes down to price.  If Tizway takes a ton of betting support, I will take a contrarian view.  If he doesn't take a good amount of money, I will take a contrarian view.  Again, I'm hoping he stays a reasonable price.



#2 FRIEND OR FOE, a hulking New York-bred, has never won around two turns, but the lightly-raced 4-year-old has put up three straight triple-digit Beyers and might be coming into his own for John Kimmel.  He overcame a five-month layoff to beat RAIL TRIP in a game performance in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont and is tactical enough to work out a good trip from his inside post. 


Draw a line through #3 MORNING LINE's most recent start.  The fifth-place finish in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth (against two next-out winners) was his first race since missing the Met Mile with a tender left front foot and looked like a prep for the Whitney.  Morning Line is wonderfully versatile.  He won the Pennsylvania Derby at this nine-furlong distance last year at three and turned back to take the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at seven furlongs earlier this season.  He should be forwardly-placed under John Velazquez and is yet another that can't be counted out on his best day.

I am the President of the "GIANT OAK" fan club, but even I am frustrated by his lack of consistency.  After he won the Donn Handicap earlier this year, I wanted to believe that Giant Oak had "grown up" and had left his quirky hanging tendencies behind him.  Since the Donn, Giant Oak has lost three times with Beyers all fewer than 100.  A confirmed late-runner, Giant Oak should get plenty of pace to run at, but he's just not dependable enough for me to use in the win slot.  A horse like Giant Oak needs all the breaks from a pace and trip standpoint.  He'll get pace help.  Will he get the trip?  And does he have the class to overcome even the slightest bit of trouble?  We'll find out later this afternoon.

Todd Pletcher has done a wonderful job with #6 MISSION IMPAZIBLE.  After finishing ninth in last year's Kentucky Derby, Mission Impazible underwent knee surgery and was out for the remainder of the season.  In 2011, Mission Impazible has come back dealing, winning the Grade 2 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds while just missing by less than a length in two other races.  I needed him in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap last time out, and he ran a good race, but was run down late by 36-1 Pool Play.  In the Foster, Mission Impazible finished ahead of four of today's opponents (and two next-out winners).  He has tactical speed, goes out for a red-hot barn, and shouldn't be ignored.

#7 RAIL TRIP, like Flat Out and Tizway, has had horrific issues with his feet throughout his career.  A classy Grade 1 winner over the synthetic surfaces in Southern California, Rail Trip has yet to win on dirt and has raced with aluminum pads in his last two races.  Last time out, in the Easy Goer, it seemed that trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. finally got Rail Trip right as he did all the running in his first start following an eight-month layoff.  He held gamely in the stretch when Friend Or Foe came calling, losing by a dirty head in quick time.  This is an obviously talented racehorse and he doesn't need the lead to win.  If he remains at his morning line odds of 12-1, he is most interesting.

#8 HEADACHE, claimed for $25,000 in 2009 by Michael Maker, may be the outsider of the group.  As an outsider, he doesn't look bad on paper, winning his last two races by a combined 10 lengths.  He took the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap last time out by rallying from well off the pace.  That field didn't look extremely strong, however, and Headache is going to have to get all the breaks against these tougher opponents.

#9 RODMAN showed the value of, well, value in his last two races.  He was second at 36-1 odds in the Met Mile in a good performance before being way overbet to even-money in the Suburban.  He didn't run poorly in the Suburban as he bobbled at the break before rushing up to set the pace, but was no match for Flat Out when the real running began.  Rodman is 2-2 at Saratoga and makes the important third start of the form cycle.  I won't argue with anyone that uses him for this go-around as he'll be closer to 36-1 than even-money.

#10 APART may not be his former stable mate, Blame, but he's put up three straight triple-digit Beyers for trainer Al Stall.  I must admit that I've never been a big fan of Apart, however.  He changed back to his wrong lead late against Mission Impazible in the New Orleans Handicap before winning a slow renewal of the Schaefer Memorial at Pimlico.  He ran well in the Foster, but couldn't get by Mission Impazible yet again.  I wouldn't touch Apart if he goes off at his morning line odds of 6-1, but feel that he'll drift.

#11 DUKE OF MISCHIEF is an in-and-outer that would move way up on a sloppy track (3-4 on the slop, 3-15 on fast).  He may have moved too early when fourth in the Foster and looked good going three turns in the Charles Town Classic two starts back.  He really hasn't run a bad race this year, but will have to work out a trip from a tough outside post position.

It's a wonderful race.  Is Flat Out better around one-turn?  Does Tizway want to go this far?  How are Rail Trip’s feet?  Those are only some of the questions surrounding this year's Whitney.  For HandiGambling, I'm keeping it simple.

$100 Win - Flat Out (1)

Best of luck to all:


Mike Beer and I were joined by Harvey Pack for the Saratoga Pick 4 preview.  Please take a look at that, and other videos, at the following links:




Enjoy a weekend of top racing!

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Tencent , I forgot about fires . No fires around Hollypark . Except if there is a riot. Come to think of it Hollypark survived both riots unscathed. Hollypark is fireproof !!!! LOL. TBTA, If they're measuring in least rainy months does that mean it rains a lot there ? What, does it only rain 1/2 the days that time of year ? LOL. When was the last time HG had a turf race in NY at anytime of year that didn't get rained off ? Can I get a Big Amen from the congregation on that ?
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Knm , nothing happened at Woodbine. I confused myself . I got 95 & 96 mixed up in my memory bank. In '95 at, correction( BELMONT ) ,The turf mile went in 143 4/5th and the turf in 242 1/5th .Thats more than 100 lengths slower than Hawkster. Thats not a race its a sleigh ride. Every horse in the world is a contender when you go that slow. Races run through a marsh are not my idea of championship races. The Clydesdales that pull the starting gate around at SA can go once around faster than that pulling the gate over a firm SA course. I did complement Canada for the quality of its grass though ! LOL. C, yes Hysterical Lady vs. Ginger Punch was an exciting finish ,buttZ... I would have rather seen them go on a fast track. Same with Personal Ensign /Winning Colors /Goodbye Halo . Over a fast track would the outcome have been altered ? I say maybe. The Yanks haven't been in an AlCS or World series when it didn't rain or threaten rain in a coons age. Not just the Yanks but anybody ! Baseball isn't meant to be played in the rain. Football fine ,baseball no. Baseball is dependent on accurate throws. When the shortstop throws one in the dugout its more than an incomplete pass. Its the ballgame. Its stupid to have a championship hinge on fly-shit luck. Do you like watching Mission Approved run around the track going 118 on the front end ? Do you like seeing C.S. Silk wire a grade I mile going 140 & change ? Thats like watching Bill Lambier or Kurt Rambus play basketball ! LOL. If I want to see horses jog in a swamp I can watch any replay of The Arc de Triomphe. LOL. The Arc is like watching Butter Bean & George Forman fight .The first one to move a muscle wins ! LOL. I don't like it when an entire seasons work is boiled down to one run over an off track . Here is why its flukey. Its flukey because its well known that some horses hate off tracks buttZ... lots of BC horses have never sniffed an off track so you're guessing if they love it or hate it . Some horses don't even like to get their feet wet. I've seen some that put their hoof down like a kid dipping a toe in a cold swimming pool. Topping that off ,some horsres run like a son of a gun in mud ,buttZ... not if its actually raining. Truth be told ,most horses don't like to run in actual rain. They're smarter than that. Do you like to run in the rain ? Making a case for fast track synthetic results being flukey while discounting the effect of off tracks on race outcomes seems a little incongruous. Regarding fairness. CD has had 7 BCs soon to be 8. SA has had 5 soon to be 6. Belmont 4 . Hol & GS 3 each. Mth,LS,Arl, WO,Aqu each 1. Seems like if anyone is getting boned its Hollypark ,Woodbine or Arlington that have the bigger gripes. It looks like it should be the track of the Lakes & Flowers turn. 75 degrees and partly sunny 350 days a year. 10 - 20 degrees cooler with 1 tenth the smog as SA on the same day. Better track than SA except the Downhill part . World Class Poker room or even Asian Games for mindless plungers. Better food than SA. International airport 5 minutes away. Marina Del Rey/ Santa Monica or the South Bay 15 minutes away. Disneyland or The Sunset Strip 30 minutes away. Hotels up the yang. For Blue Boxers on the loose the "Wild Goose" is a mere 15 minutes away. LOL. No umbrella required.
dylbert More than 1 year ago
First post using tablet computer! Got super deal on HP TouchPad. Challenge ahead is getting right set of apps to go totally paperless. This should be fun adventure!
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Alfredo Thank you for posting the Poly Track ratings for Del Mar. That is so sweet of you. ...are you an Uncle Steve clone? Uncle Steve Enjoy your road trip! 'turout mankyu'
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas: Look's like no immediate takers on the early Horse of the Year discussion. I'm in agreement with you on Blind Lucks chances, but she will have to beat the males again soon. My top pick possibilities are last from the Triple Crown runners, Stay Thirsty and Shackleford, but they will have to do well in the Travers, Jocket Gold Cup, and/or Classic to get there. I give the nod to Stay Thirsty, who came alive nicely in the Jim Dandy, and loves NY tracks. Thanks for your shout out on Sean Avery in the Vanderbilt. I see you are picking some nice Longshots too! Keith L.
Steve T More than 1 year ago
California has a huge take out? Not surprisingly, the facts don't support that. California is one of the lowest in the country for WPS (only Florida at 15% is lower) and for Trifecta, Superfecta only Kentucky is lower. Here are the take out rates for the biggest horse racing states: California Win, Place, Show: 15.43% 2 Horse Exotics: 22.68%* 3 or More Exotics: 23.68% Pick 5: 14.00% On August 2nd, the Southern California tracks petitioned the CHRB to LOWER the Exacta/Quinella take out rate to 21.68% and the Daily Double to 15.43% (DRF article "California tracks look to reduce takeout on doubles, exactas" By Steve Andersen Pennsylvania Win, Place, Show: 17.00% 2 Horse Exotics: 20.00% Pick 3: 26% Trifecta, Superfecta: 30.00% New York Win, Place, Show: 16.00% 2 Horse Exotics: 18.50% 3 or More Horse Exotics: 26.00% Kentucky Win, Place, Show: 16.00% All Others: 19.00% Florida Win, Place and Show: 15.00% DD, Exacta, Pick 3, Pick 4: 20.00% Trifecta, Superfecta: 26.00% Illinois Win, Place, Show: 17.00% 2 Horse Exotics: 20.5% Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick 3, Pick 4: 25.00% Louisiana Win, Place, Show: 17.00% 2 Horse Exotics: 20.5% Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick 3, Pick 4: 25.00% Maryland Win, Place, Show: 18.00% 2 Horse Exotics: 21.00% Trifecta, Superfecta: 25.75% I guess the place to bet is Pennsylvania with the country's highest take out at 30% for Trifectas and Superfectas... I guess the calculators there just don't work so good - because mine says that 23.68% beats 30.00% and that 15.43% is better than 17%. So in two out of three cases California is lower, and they are working on reducing the two horse exotic take out. But then again why let the facts get in the way of a good rant... But keep throwing stuff against the wall and sooner or later something will stick.
p ensign More than 1 year ago
heads up for NHC members - one day contest for seat at big show here: http://games.ntra.com/home/index/view/MTY=/1
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, I was thinking the same thing when reading about the sales coverage. But you skipped the details of the funniest part of the night. Changing out of grubby clothes and into our "fancy" duds in the middle of the backstretch soccer field that doubles as a parking lot on race days. I still laugh picturing us holding up towels for each other and fixing hair and makeup in the rear view mirror. AND WE LOOKED JUST FINE!!!!
Turnbackthealarm More than 1 year ago
C, I'm with you on the NYC metro weather during the fall.....mostly comfy temps, cool nights, low humidity and sunny days. According to weather.com, the least rainy months. Monmouth was an unfortunate week. The same weather pattern that caused the massive snow dumps of the last couple of winters happened during BC week. An offshore low sat spinning and pumping ocean moisture onto the shore. I don't know what the statistical probablity of that happening again is, but it's probably low. As I have probably said a million times in the last few years, I think Monmouth is without a doubt the very best track to watch live horseracing (not including the quality of horses)if you like to get as close to the animals as possible. The horses are walked in right in front of the grandstand, walk through a large tunnel where you can stand and see them just a couple of feet away. Then the paddock is wide with lots of viewing spaces and the saddling area is a couple of arms lengths from where you can stand. Then the horses parade around the ring, exit through the same tunnel and come out on the track. You can literally feel the fire of the great ones, they are so close. I have not been at any other track that affords the general admission customer or one who likes to walk more than sit in a box, a greater opportunity to get up close and personal with the majesty of the racehorses. The Friday before the Haskell, Rachel Alexandra was schooling in the paddock with $5000 claimers. I could have touched her she was so close. There were about 100 of us gathered around, compared to the thousands that were there two days later. That is typical of the experience I had when seeing Curlin, Hard Spun, Big Brown, Alysheba, Hansel, Holy Bull, Skip Away, Point Given, English Channel, Gilded Time, Serena's Song, etc, etc, etc..........When SR Vegas and I went to the Haskell with the gang last year, she couldn't believe how close we were to Super Saver, First Dude, Lookin at Lucky and Ice Box. So, I would definitely take a chance on Monmouth hosting again. But like I admitted, I am incredibly biased.
Patrick S More than 1 year ago
Saratoga P-6 Carryover R5: 7,2,4 *not much pace here, Tarrip could steal from the front end. Snow Top Mountain has finished 2nd both times on the strip in overnight stakes, maybe 3rd time's the charm. Emerald Beech coming in on a two race winning streak. R6: 2,3,4 *Carmella Cee is fast, has an inside post, coming in on a 2-race streak. Need An Angel fastest closer. Seeing Clearly been facing better, should be decent odds. R7: 5,9 *Cosmic King 3rd start off layoff, finished 3rd while going 5-wide against better last out. Storm Galileo another 3rd off layoff, blinkers back on, pedigree play. R8: 3 *Dawly was claimed for lower last out (winner), comes back in for $25K more, so I don't see an issue for the lower claiming price against others. Rodriguez 39% 1st after claim, keeps Dominguez, best last race Beyer, hope this single comes through. R9: 3,1A,5,11 *contentious race, could see any of these winning, but concentrating on my top 4 after handicapping R10: 1,3,4,6,7 *if still alive, want to be alive to the most logical contenders (although the duo 1st time starters by Domino concerns me). Let's try to bring it down for $720!!!