02/10/2010 1:56PM

HG 172 (Gulfstream Starter Allowance)

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Today's HandiGambling 172 exercise is the eighth race from Gulfstream Park, a $40,000 starter allowance for older horses at 6 1/2 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.  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 track is fast.  Let's scratch Another Success (#1).

I don't feel very strongly about this race at all.  I've narrowed it down to three contenders that I would use in multi-race wagers. 

Dramatic Trip (#2)seems like an enigma.  What do we make of the recent 98 Beyer Speed Figure over course and distance?  If he runs back to that race, despite the presence of other speed horses to his outside, he should win another.  But was the drastic improvement due to racing on a sealed, sloppy track, or has Dramatic Trip simply improved since trainer David Fawkes removed blinkers three starts back (resulting in two wins on dirt and a close sixth on grass)?  He seems like the fastest leaving the gate, and should be a strong pace factor once again, but there are questions to consider on fast going.

Chief Bear (#6) looked so good winning a conditioned claimer around two turns at Woodbine on August 23 that I touted him to upset the Grade 3 Durham Cup at 16-1 in his subsequent start.  That race didn't turn out so well as he faded to last after chasing the pace.  The knock on Chief Bear is that his best running has come in polytrack routes, and this is a main track sprint (0-7 on dirt, 0-5 in sprints).  The pace scenario may work to this stalker/closer's favor, but let's note that trainer Barbara Pirie is 0 for her last 42 in sprint races.  Chief Bear is taking a drop in class out of a solid race (the runner-up from the January 8 race, Jet Set Vinny, returned to run second with a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure), and should be charging hard late. 

Red Elephant (#4) is a lightly-raced gelding with hope for upside potential, but he hasn't been out since July when he was under the whip a long way out as the beaten 9-10 favorite.  That race hasn't come back strong as of the four horses to race again, only one cracked the top three in their next outings (two horses did win their second starts following this race), and none reached an 80 Beyer in those races.  Red Elephant has the tactical speed to work out a nice trip just behind the leaders, but the layoff does concern (even with Kelly Breen showing a 3-11 record with similar layoff runners over the last two years)..

As for the others:

Grand Bailout (#3)steps up off a solid longshot win over $30,000 maiden claimers over course and distance.  Perhaps the addition of blinkers was all that was necessary to turn this horse around, or perhaps the switch to dirt did the trick.  Whatever it was, Grand Bailout earned a competitive Beyer Speed Figure, and may have enough tactical speed to stay close to the early leaders.  Of the four horses to exit that maiden claiming race on January 13, none have won, but two returned to hit the board (best Beyer 68).  I'd like to see him do it again before I'm completely convinced.

Greatbillsoffire (#5)went gate-to-wire around two turns in his final start of 2009, and may have been a bit short going a one-turn mile in his first start of the meet.  He showed an affinity for this surface last year, but his preferred running style is to be on or near the lead, and there may be simply too much pace for him to deal with if he goes that route this afternoon.  On a positive note, that was a pretty salty field Greatbillsoffire faced for $32,000 on January 20.  The winner, It's Never Too Late earned a 97 Beyer in defeating backclassers Rehoboth (580K in earnings), Cuba (747K in earnings, returned to finish second for $25,000), and Lord Snowdon (511K in earnings).

Sharpsburg Shuffle (#7) has good early speed, but has been away since May.  His only career win came in the slower division of $40,000 maiden claimers last April over Keeneland's polytrack, and only two of the seven horses to come out of that May 16 race at Arlington returned to hit the board next time.  He draws a comfortable outside post position, but a early pace battle would likely doom him to minor award status.  Note that Rusty Arnold has a sharp record of 8-34 over the last two years with horses returning from similar layoffs.

Valentino's Trick (#8) has good speed and may be the one most likely to hassle Dramatic Trip from the get-go.  He just missed in his last two races at Philadelphia Park after controlling the pace from the outset, and it will be interesting to see how  Edgar Prado attacks this race from the outside post.  Does he try to conserve a bit, or does he go after Dramatic Trip right away?  The winner of that November 24 race returned to run second in a similar $25,000 starter allowance at Philly with a career-high 77 Beyer, and Valentino's Trick's trainer, Terri Pompay, shows a flat-bet profit with similar layoff runners over the past four years.

Fun race, but one that I probably won't do too much with in "real life."

For HG purposes, I'll play it this way:

$50 Exacta - Dramatic Trip - Red Elephant (2-4)
$50 Exacta - Dramatic Trip - Chief Bear (2-6)

Best of luck to all

Mickey More than 1 year ago
Jim: Well I am out...figures another Mike Smith horse..when will I learn! P. Ensign: yes Vic Stauffer does love his voice..but you can't say he doesn't put "passion" into his calls regardless if there 20 claimers or million dollar races. Who else is out there? I heard many race callers throughout the country..and lets be honest some of them are just downright terrible. The Churchill guy (Mark Johnson?)...terrible....GG (sorry Blackstone)..I heard some of the races you told me to watch and that guy isn't too good either. So where do you go?
Annie More than 1 year ago
OK, the first DERBY WATCH TOP 20: TURNBACKTHEALARM'S Lookin At Lucky 4-1 MIKE A'S Buddy's Saint 6-1 BALTIMORE BRIAN'S Noble's Promise 10-1 SPARTAN TOM'S Super Saver 12-1 ENGLISH CHANNEL'S Tiz Chrome 12-1 Vale of York (Foreign) 12-1 BIGEASY BIGCHOK'S American Lion 15-1 CAPTAIN BODGIT'S Jackson Bend 15-1 DANNY B'S Conveyance 20-1 LONGWAYTOMAY'S Eskendereya 20-1 SKYDIMEAUNTIE'S Rule 20-1 CALIBOB'S Aikenite 25-1 A Little Warm (I think he's a sprinter) 30-1 AFI'S Concord Point 30-1 DAVE K'S Dublin 30-1 LAURA'S Drosselmeyer 40-1 EMILY'S Dryfly 40-1 RANDO'S Maximus Ruler 40-1 WHACKYMACKY'S Ron the Greek 40-1 KNM & ANNIE'S Uptowncharlybrown 40-1 (He's always last on the lists because his name starts with a U). :) There are three Honorable Mentions: ONETRICKPONY'S Afleet Express TENCENTCIELO'S Kettle River CASEYJEAUX'S Sidney's Candy So, there you have it. But, things can change from week to week as we well know. Annie
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Spot play... Aqueduct Race 2 $10 Pick 4 5 / 3,4 / 5,7 / 2,6,7 = $120 Race 2 #5 Dubai Indeed $150 Win / Place Good Luck Whackymacky Out!!!
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Afternoon all.. Derby Futures Opened on Twinspires.com Lookin At Lucky 10-1 Charley 30-1 Ron The Greek 62-1 (My Baby) Field 1/5 $6,347 wagered 12:40 est This is going to be fun!!!! Whackymacky Out!!!
Annie More than 1 year ago
Calvin, Well at least Daniel Centeno worked Charly after that race, and still chose to ride him. That's a positive. :) Annie
KYL Syndicate More than 1 year ago
KYL Syndicate "Wagers of the Weekend" Derby Future Wager Eskendereya --> Obviously wagering on futures can be miserable if the horse doesn't make it to the gate for the Derby as last year's selection of The Pamplemousse shown but its nice when you do hit one such as the late Barbaro. The thrill is all about identifying a horse when they run at 2 and seeing them progress in becoming the Kentucky Derby winner and Eskendereya is the selection. In rewatching the replays of his races, as a 2 year old, Eskendereya has very bad gate habits, always breaking a little awkwardly and taking a couple of steps to get into stride. Except for the Breeders Cup which can be excused for all the trouble he had and the synthetic surface, Eskendereya has a nice stalking style but more importantly when he changes lead, very nice strides. In his first start as a 3 year old, the gate habits seemed to be straightened out as he went to the lead, turn back challenges on the turn and galloped out strongly. I expect a continue progression and thankfully the wager is not taking place next week Fountain of Youth where a strong performance would knock down his odds. Of course, the question is what odds will you take on him. He is listed at 20-1 and will wager a 100 at that odds but actually hope he will be 30-1 or higher and then increase the win wager. At the same time, will monitor what the exacta will come back, because if Eskendereya over Lookin At Lucky, Buddy's Saint or the field pays twice as much as the win odds, then will wager exactas. Will hold off until Sunday to see what the early wagering is. Good luck
Annie More than 1 year ago
KNM, Oh boy, Charly is on the Derby Watch Top 20!! :) Annie
KYL Syndicate More than 1 year ago
KYL Syndicate "Wagers of the Weekend" Sunday Aqueduct Race 1: O'Kid --> Great race to start off the Valentine's Day card and without seeing the morning line odds, expect the Dutrow entry to be less than 2-1 but will bet against the entry. Dubinsky drew the rail and will obviously go out for the early lead but I expect he was entered to set it up for his mate Reptilian Smart. But as I don't think Reptilian Smart is the same horse who won six straight on the inner track last year, great opportunity to go against the favorite entry. There should be some pace up front and during the far turn, expect Dominguez to send his runner to make the lead but coming from behind to get up for the win is the selection O'Kid. O'Kid steps up off the claim winning last out against cheaper company but it was the style that he did it it, and with the expected pace battle, a repeat run will land a second straight win. Will wager to win and use Stungbythestorm underneath in exotics. Aqueduct Race 9: She's Prime --> Hard filly to figure out as she runs some races where you think she has turned the corners and then she comes back and finds trouble or completely flops in the race. As she has drawn the rail in this race, here's hoping Jara sends her out of the rail position as the race features only one other speed in Ampart Ridge, but having draw the rail, she can dictate things on the front end if Jara is aggressive. If he is, then She's Prime should be able to establish comfortable fractions and pull off the victory at odds likely to hover 8-1 or higher. Will wager to win and use 5,9 and 10 underneath in exotics. Good luck
Alan More than 1 year ago
TBTA, Gill had a private barn and would ship his horses to PEN on race-day...to a track that had no pre-race vet exams? I was fascinated by the "insider" info on the threads from trainers and vets. It was amazing how one PEN "insider" discussed a jockey boycott earlier that same day! BTW, I used to give intra-articular steroid infections to some of my geriatric patients with osteoarthritis of the knee...at the most 3-4 times a year. It helps, but the risk/benefit ratio worsens significantly the greater the injection frequency. And at least my patients could give informed consent! John N., Welcome back!! I think most of us have a similar "extended family relative"! Magna5 once again starts the 1st leg of the sequence tomorrow with a LRL race. Gutsy...but they may be right this time - at least it's sunny in the low-mid 30s today!
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Sam F Davis, First Annie I apologize, I like Schoolyard Dreams and Middle of The Nite. I will be especially interested in what MOTN does. He ran well against Eskendereya...wide throughout, in a race where he was actually favored until two minutes to post, for what I could see as no good reason. I do like Uptowncharleybrown, but something tells me this horse will be a force later in the year on the turf. I'm not seeing the first Saturday in May, but Annie Good luck anyway. LOL!! Things seem to be slowing, a few exciting early races, a few injuries, late starters, and now the lull before the March races, the races I put most emphasis on. I only need see one superior race, not a win, just a good one. I want to see what's in the tank. The trainer wants the horse ready for his best shot May 1st. I don't want a horse peaking in April....I want a solid race in March and a good race in April, if the trainer choses to run in April, as I don't care if the horse runs in April or not. I never take any horse on a race by race basis, I look to every race the horse runs as parts of the whole. I even look at horses early races and try to predict where they'll run and how far....sort of arm chair training. Fun to do, especially when it all comes together. Mike A