11/18/2009 1:11PM

HG 160 (Aqueduct Turf Stakes)

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This week's HandiGambling 160 exercise is the eighth race at Aqueduct, the Flitalong Stakes for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles 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.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.  Past performances are available on the previous blog entry.

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 is listed as "Good."  Let's scratch #2 Whisked Away, #9 Unbridled Essence, #11 Sapphire Sky, #12 Kiddari, and #13 Magicalcarpetride

I'm going to focus on two main contenders for my multi-race wagers, and will play one of them in the HG contest. 

#8 - West Ocean has done little wrong in three sprint starts for Todd Pletcher, and looms the main speed in this relatively paceless race.  She wasn't visually impressive when winning her first-level allowance last time out at Belmont as she looked in deep water turning for home, but she gutted it out, and may have been a little short in her first start following a minor layoff.  Plus, it's never easy for a maiden graduate to immediately find success against winners yet West Ocean was able to pull off the win as the mild favorite. 
One must wonder if she'll get the distance as she tries two turns, and routing, for the first time.  A $400,000 yearling by Elusive Quality, a multiple Grade 3 winner on turf that successfully stretched his speed to 1 1/16 miles around one turn, West Ocean is the first runner out of Ocean Drive, a nine-time turf winner that earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure when winning the Grade 3 Noble Damsel at one mile.  Ocean Drive won three other Grade 3 events at 1 1/16 miles during her career, and is a half-sister to several blacktype horses including Futurity (G1) winner Traitor and multiple Grade 2 winner Sun King.  I'm willing to gamble that West Ocean has enough pedigree to stay this trip given the right pace scenario. 

#1 - Dynaslew exits a live race (third-finisher Maram tasted defeat for the first time in her career that afternoon, and returned to earn a 96 Beyer when a non-threatening sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf), and may be tighter in her second start back for Bill Mott.  She draws a good inside post position, and figures to save ground while not too far behind the leaders.  She has some gate problems on occasion, and doesn't show a published workout in the last 19 days, but Mott often doesn't work them that hard in the mornings, and I'm expecting a good performance from this daughter of multiple stakes-winning sprinter Slews Final Answer. 

As for the others,

#3 - Akilina has won three of her last four starts, and she looked good when winning a second-level optional claimer last time out in her first try at this distance.  The hard-hitting statebred stakes-winner wheels back in three weeks for turf guru Christophe Clement, and wouldn't be a surprise in the least. 

#4 - Bum Bum had her chances when third in an entry-level allowance event over yielding going at Keeneland, and is another that may do better in the second start following a short layoff.  A couple of horses returned to finish second following that Keeneland race, but the winner could do no better than sixth at 7-2 odds in a 'n2x' allowance.  Her European form seems spotty, and the late runner may need a bit more pace to adequately aid her kick.

#5 - My Golden Dream adds blinkers after an even performance over soft going in the statebred Ticonderoga at Belmont.  A versatile performer going out for high-percentage connections, My Golden Dream may show enough speed to press West Ocean going into the first turn.  She finished behind Akilina the last two times they've met, but has kept good company, and isn't the worst longshot stab in the world.

#6 - Shadow Lane goes third off the layoff, and it seems interesting that Jeremy Rose lands here instead of the Graham Motion runner, Bum Bum.  Shadow Lane was beaten by Giant Mover last time out at the Meadowlands in a race that produced nothing of note, may be compromised by the expected moderate/slow pace, and her speed figures pale in comparison to those of the top contenders.

#7 - Giant Mover won her maiden at Belmont for Jimmy Jerkens, and has run pretty well out of town in the interim since being switched to Kiaran McLaughlin.  She shouldn't be too far off the pace, but that last race at the Meadowlands looks weak from a speed and class perspective (four horses have returned from that race to run with none hitting the board, and the best next-out Beyer was a 73 at Laurel).

#10 - Denomination looks interesting for Clement and Ramon Dominguez.  A Group 3 winner in France, she was thrown right to the wolves in her North American debut when sixth in the Grade 1 Beverly D., and she had a difficult trip when finishing behind Dynaslew last time out.  She has ability, but the recent work tab is light, and she must deal with the far outside post and a short run into the first turn.  She can win, but punters must figure out what her true "value" is before taking a strong stand.

I'll use the #1 and #8 in multi-race wagers, and will play it like this for HG160:

$100 Win - West Ocean (#8)

Best of luck to all.

Will be back with questions and comments next time.

Take care,

Dan