12/30/2009 1:50PM

HG 166 (Aqu inner)


This week's HandiGambling 166 exercise is the seventh race from Aqueduct, a starter allowance for three-year-olds and upward at six furlongs on the inner track.

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.

This looks like an evenly-matched group and I came up with four main contenders that I'll use in multi-race wagers:

Half a Note (10) isn't the kind of horse I usually play.  He's riding an 18-race winning streak dating back to August 22, 2007 and has to be a source of frustration for high-percentage trainer Linda Rice.  In fact, Rice claimed the horse for $35,000 on the day of his last victory at Saratoga. 
Half a Note seems like the quintessential hanger.  He earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure over the inner to kick off his 2008 season, but looked like a winner in upper stretch only to settle for second money. 
Last time out, Half a Note's trouble line is overstated.  He saved ground in behind the leaders, eased out for room in upper stretch, and was simply outgamed for the place. 
I wonder if the blinkers Rice added to this horse on October 6, 2007 have really helped him at all.  Half a Note is 2-7 (29% wins) without blinkers, and 0-17 with them. 
Still, he does have some tactical speed in a basically paceless race, goes second off the layoff while retaining leading rider Ramon Dominguez, and his Beyer Speed Figures fit with this group.  Is he trustworty?  Certainly not, but if he finds some guts, he has enough ability to win this race. 

Frenchonionsoup (4) figures to take his share of the wagering based on the 90+ Beyers earned in his last two races, but it must be noted that he's changed hands since his last start, only shows a pair of half-mile breezes leading up to this race, and has never raced on the inner track. 
His new trainer, Scott Schwartz, shows excellent numbers (4-21, 19%, $4.81 ROI) over the past five years off the claim, and Frenchonionsoup's tactical speed along with a hustling gate rider in Chucky Lopez should have him forwardly-placed.  He looks very dangerous.

Cleric (3) earned a big number in his first start over the inner track on December 2, but that race really fell apart in the final furlong.  Cleric sat a good trip off a multi-horse duel down the backstretch and seemed to lose ground at the quarter pole.  If you bet him that afternoon, you certainly weren't comfortable with his chances of even hitting the board at that point, but after being a bit late to change leads, he picked up the crumbling pacesetters for second money.  Perhaps this lightly-raced gelding is improving, and perhaps he likes the inner.  He's worth inclusion.

R Little Nugget (7) has won his last three starts in New Jersey going gate-to-wire, and there doesn't appear to be a ton of speed to run with him here.  Factor in his consistency (6-9 lifetime) with his possible pace advantage and you're left with a horse that looks like a must-use in multi-race wagers like the Pick 4.

As for the others:

I wouldn't be surprised if Citifest (8) upsets the apple cart.  He finished third in the slop behind stakes-caliber sprinter Driven By Success two back, and may have regressed when three and one-half lengths behind Half a Note last time out.  He's been freshened for this race and owns two previous victories over the inner track.

Brecciate (6) seeks his third straight win and it looks like trainer Robert Ribaudo has found a clever spot for this New York-bred.  He took advantage of a quick pace going seven furlongs last time out, and it will interesting to see if his running style will be hampered by the expected slower early fractions here. 

King Bo Bo (1A) has hit the board in his last three races against weaker company and seems to be rounding into form for a hot trainer.  He has tactical speed and isn't out of the question for a minor award. 

Theartofcompromise (2) went through his statebred conditions last time out at a mile, and it's hard to knock a horse that's won three of his last four.  He's turning back in distance here while drawn to the rail, and it's questionable whether he has the sprint speed necessary to stay close to the pace.  He does own a win at seven furlongs, but sometimes six is a different ballgame.

Thought Coach Butts (9) rode a good rail last time out when ten lengths beind the winner and his Beyer numbers have declined since being claimed away from Bob Barbara.  He only shows two races this year and is 0-9 over the inner track.

Sonny's the One (1) steps up from $7,500 claiming competition seeking his third straight win, but his Beyers pale in comparison to those of the top contenders. 

Lincoln Road (5), an IEAH castoff, hasn't done much in two starts this year and faded badly last time out at Philadelphia Park. 

Four deep for me in the multirace wagers.  Here's theHG ticket:

$75 Win - Half a Note (10)
$10 Exacta - Frenchonionsoup - Half a Note (4-10)
$10 Exacta - Cleric - Half a Note (3-10)
$5 Exacta - R Little Nugget - Half a Note (7-10)

Best of luck to all.

Back next time with questions, comments, and pp requests.