02/05/2010 4:54PM

HG 171A (Donn Handicap)


This Saturday's special HandiGambling 171A exercise is the tenth race from Gulfstream Park, the Grade 1 Donn Handicap for older horses at 1 1/8 miles.

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. 

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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.

Obviously, Quality Road (#4) is the horse to best.  The 2009 Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby winner recovered sufficiently from the emotional scars of battle received from an unsuccessful entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic starting gate to take the Grade 3 Hal's Hope earlier in the meeting.  In the Hal's Hope, Quality Road faced a solid challenge from his inside by You and I Forever (#2) before drawing off to win as much the best.  It will be interesting to see if Johnny Velazquez decides to send Quality Road directly to the front, as in the Hal's Hope, or if he'll track Past the Point (#6) from the two path.  Either way, Quality Road should be very, very tough at a short price.

If the favorite falters, however, Past the Point may be the one to pull the upset.  The runner-up to Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2008 Woodward at Saratoga, Past the Point's subsequent dirt races, with the exception of a drubbing at the hooves of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in that year's Woodward, have been consistent, if not excellent.  He was cooked in a speed duel when a tiring fifth as the favorite in the 2008 Meadowlands Cup, was a popular winner of a seven-furlong 'n3x' allowance at Saratoga in 2009, finished an even second in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Aqueduct on Halloween, and was a solid second in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector earlier in the Gulfstream meet. 
In the Mr. Prospector, at a distance shorter than his best, Past the Point was hounded on the lead by eventual winner Custom for Carlos, and dug in gamely along the inside all the way to the wire.  He'll go second off the layoff in the Donn, and has enough speed to grab the lead from Quality Road if that's the direction his connections wish to take.  If not, he has done well from off the pace. 

Kiss the Kid (#1) may be the key to this race. Earlier in his career, the son of Lemon Drop Kid could assert himself on the front end.  At this point of his life, however, Kiss the Kid may be happy to track the early leaders while in a good stalking position.  He draws a solid inside post position, and should save valuable ground behind Past the Point and Quality Road if his rider, Eddie Castro, decides not to send for the lead.  The multiple Grade 3 winner (on turf) isn't out of this from an exotic standpoint.

You and I Forever makes the important third start of the form cycle with improving Beyers on display for high-percentage trainer Marty Wolfson.  He made a good run at Quality Road in the Hal's Hope before dropping away in the final quarter mile.  His best races have come on wet going so upgrade his chances if the track comes up sloppy.  On fast going, he may be in a bit tough.

Duke of Mischief (#3) was the beaten favorite in the Oklahoma Derby in October, but he reportedly emerged from that race with an entrapped epiglottis, and was wisely laid up by trainer David Fawkes.  Duke of Mischief rode an outside bias to victory in the off-the-turf Ft. Lauderdale in his return but, like with You and I Forever, both of his big races have come on wet courses. 

Dry Martini (#5)got a nice prep in the Ft. Lauderdale when a rallying fourth over a one-turn mile and can certainly do better in his second start of the form cycle for Barclay Tagg.  If the pace is hot, this multiple Grade 2 winner can pick up some pieces.

Helsinki (#7)finished third in the 2007 Travers, but has only won one race since, and he didn't do much when fifth in the Hal's Hope.  He'll go third off the bench for Richard Dutrow Jr., but seems up against it from a class standpoint.

Mambo Meister (#8) ran well when third in the Ft. Lauderdale, and can do better with that race under his girth.  He's run well the last three times he's raced on dirt, but nine furlongs may be pushing it just a bit as he's more of a miler or eight and one-half furlong performer. 

Dubai Gold (#9) has won three of his last four races, but he was offered for a tag in each of those starts.  He has some tactical speed, but is stepping way up in class, and his Beyer Speed Figures pale in comparison to those of the top contenders. 

Delightful Kiss (#10) missed most of 2009 with an ankle injury, but he gave a good account of himself when third in a seven-furlong prep 15 days ago.  He ran a huge race to win the 2009 Hal's Hope over this surface, and only needs some pace help up front to get a slice of this at good odds.

Quality Road looks like the horse to beat, but I'll take a shot with Past the Point:

$50 WP - Past the Point (#6)

Best of luck to all.

For what they're worth, here are some selections for Saturday's stakes races:

Strub:  Misremembered
Gulfstream Park Turf:  Court Vision
Suwannee River:  Lady Shakespeare
Las Virgenes:  Evening Jewel
Robert B. Lewis:  Dave in Dixie


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


Here are the latest Kentucky Derby Future odds from Lucky's Las Vegas:

Download Kentucky Derby Updated 0202

Back Monday with the weekend recap, Beyers, questions, and comments.

Enjoy the weekend.