03/06/2010 12:50PM

HG 175 (Gotham)

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Today's HandiGambling 175 exercise is the tenth race from Aqueduct, the Grade 3 Gotham for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles 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.

As of this writing, the track is fast, and there are no scratches. (#7) SHRIMP DANCER will be ridden by Gabriel Saez.

An extremely interesting Gotham and I'll have to go four deep in the $250,000 Guaranteed Late Pick Four.

(#5) I'VE GOT THE FEVER has been in with some tough customers throughout his short career.  In his debut, he faced Aikenite, subsequently Grade 1-placed on dirt and polytrack.  After being privately-purchased by IEAH Stables, he tackled Super Saver in the slop at Belmont (Super Saver won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club for Todd Pletcher in his juvenile finale).  For I've Got the Fever's last start at two, he had the misfortune to draw Rule (has now won his last four starts including a pair of graded stakes).  For his three-year-old debut, I've Got the Fever took on Brake Lights, who won by 9 1/2 lengths and looked like a nice prospect before being forced off the Derby trail with a chip in his left front ankle. 
Finally, in his fifth lifetime start, I've Got the Fever got a break in competition.  Adding blinkers for the first time, he went right to the front, rode a golden rail, and scooted home to win with a 90 Beyer Speed Figure.  He wheels back on two weeks rest and shouldn't be too far off the expected pacesetter (#10) WOW WOW WOW.

(#2) YAWANNA TWIST is a perfect 2-2 for Dutrow.  Both races were fast and both were visually impressive, but he'll have to go two turns for the first time in his initial start out of the statebred ranks.  Still, this doesn't look like the toughest field in the world, and Yawanna Twist may work out a good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Edgar Prado.  I don't know if he beat anybody in that entry-level allowance race for New York-breds on February 7, however, and stalkers and closers, like Yawanna Twist, seemed to do best on the inner track that afternoon.  He's an intriguing prospect this afternoon but price should ultimately be your final guide.

Wow Wow Wow drew a tough outside post position and one gets the feeling that Corey Nakatani will be on a dead-send leaving the stalls.  The Whitney homebred has the speed to clear this field going into the first turn but may have to expend a good amount of energy in doing so.  The Lukas barn has had a good start to the year at Oaklawn Park and Wow Wow Wow can contend if he runs back to his most recent Beyer Speed Figure.  If the others leave him alone up front, he's capable of an upset.  Note that he did shake loose against a suspect group at Oaklawn last time out, so the waters get deeper today.

(#6) PEPPI KNOWS reportedly grabbed a quarter in his left hind foot while winning the Whirlaway, a race that was drastically altered when heavily-favored Eightyfiveinafifty bolted going into the first turn.  Fortunately for Peppi Knows, he didn't miss much time from the injury, and we know he handles this track and distance just fine.  He has a good stalking gear, is remarkably consistent, and is usually ignored at the betting windows.  Although a three-time stakes winner, he may be an overlay one more time.

As for the others:

(#1) THREE DAY RUSH was carried out by Eightyfiveinafifty in the opening quarter-mile of the Whirlaway and that may have somewhat compromised his stretch kick.  He draws a good inside post position and jockey Fernando Jara is expected to put him into the race very early.  Although bred for some success going long, Three Day Rush has acted like a sprinter thus far, and must escape that stigma this afternoon.

(#3) NACHO FRIEND won off by six in his career debut over Monmouth slop, then didn't have an easy trip when beaten only a length by Backtalk in the Grade 2 Sanford on opening week at the Spa.  He hasn't been out since that race due to an ankle injury and one has to wonder if placing this colt in a two-turn Derby prep off the long layoff is a bit of "too much, too soon."  Nacho Friend has some ability and his trainer, Kelly Breen, wins with a high-percentage of his starters.

(#4) AWESOME ACT's lone career victory came in a seven-furlong turf race at Goodwood last year but he was one of the few runners closing at the end of the slow-paced Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.  That start indicates he has some ability and he has some American blood mingled with European class in his pedigree.  His sire, Awesome Again, won the Breeders' Cup Classic while the dam earned a 96 Beyer winning on dirt after beginning her career in Europe.  The dam is also a full sister to the classy European performer Machiavellian.  It's quite possible this horse has the ability to overcome some difficult obstacles (shipping from Europe, first-time on dirt), but I'm not sure I'm willing to take a short price to find out. 

Shrimp Dancer makes the third start of the form cycle after falling short as the betting favorite in a pair of statebred allowance races.  He's stakes-placed on both dirt and turf but will be taking a big step up in class here.

(#8) TURF MELODY attracts Ramon Dominguez but the Remington Park stakes-winner didn't do much after being rank in the early stages of the Grade 3 LeComte last time out at the Fair Grounds.  Turf Melody has been shopping for a spot since that race but finds a deep and contentious group waiting for him here.  Nothing seems impossible for Dominguez, however, so he could be a sleeper at a price.

(#9) AFLEET AGAIN rallied mildly for second in the Whirlaway.  He seems like a grinding type that will need some pace to properly setup his kick.  His last race was a Beyer top but he'll probably need to up that number even more if he is to succeed here.

Very conservative HG wager:

$50 WP - I've Got the Fever (#5)

Best of luck to all:

***

Some quick and dirty selections for selected stakes races:

Toboggan:  Elusive Warning
Herecomesthebride:  Upperline
Palm Beach:  Dean's Kitten
Kilroe:  Acclamation
Big 'Cap:  Jeranimo
Santa Anita Oaks:  Zilva

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

Enjoy a big day of racing,

Dan