03/10/2010 5:50PM

HG 176 (SA downhill)


Today's HandiGambling 176 exercise is the seventh race from Santa Anita, a $50,000 claiming race for older horses going 6 1/2 furlongs over the downhill turf course.

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, there are no program changes.

A tough, tough, tough race, and I'll merely take a stab for HandiGambling.

I got an opportunity to watch some of #3 GIGANTICUS' races from Europe and didn't think he was bad at all in the Buckingham Palace Handicap on June 19 and the Challenge Cup on September 26.  Both of those races were at Ascot so perhaps he's a horse for course, but I can make some excuses for his two nondescript runs in North America.
Off the layoff, he was thrown to the wolves in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap going long on Pro-Ride, and was no match for Dubai World Cup-bound Richard's Kid.  Then, wheeled back off only eight days rest, he was simply outrun when turned back two and one-half furlongs. 
It is very interesting that the seven-year-old gelding was claimed out of that race by Jack Carava, and Garrett Gomez now takes the call. 
Bruno De Julio, in his workout report from Today's Racing Digest (available on drf.com) noted that GIGANTICUS "traveled unhurried for duration of the drill and came home with some interest in 12 1/5" for the March 2 half-mile move. 
A seven-furlong specialist in Europe, Giganticus has now had a taste of the tricky downhill course and can improve a bit in the third start of the form cycle.  Hopefully, he'll get some speed to adequately setup his late kick at a nice price.

Thought that #8 LEEDSWAY handled the downhill wonderfully in his first try over the course on February 14.  He made an easy lead that day, however, and may have to sit with horses like #2 HEWITTS drawn to his inside.  This four-year-old will face older horses after beating peers-only company on Valentine's Day, but can't be counted out considering his sharp form.  Of the three horses to return from the last race, two placed for a $32,000 tag. 

Australian invader #6 HEY ELVIS was listed as a vet scratch on February 15, but the Mike Mitchell-trained import shows some interesting workouts leading up to his North American debut.  On February 22, his workout time matched Mitchell's Jehan, a runner that returned to win a 'n2x' race on Pro-Ride on February 28 with a 90 Beyer Speed Figure.  The March 1 workout matched that of Wicked Mischief, a Mitchell-trained runner that owns an 86 Beyer top. 
The official clocking for the March 1 workout was five furlongs in 1:01 4/5, but Bruno has him down for a "short drill with long gallop out for Mitchell.  Went in 24.4, 36.3 and 49.3.  Galloped out in 1:03." 
Hey Elvis was good enough to finish a nose shy of being a Group 2 winner Down Under and you really have to respect this barn.  According to Formulator Web, Mitchell is 4-11 (36%, $3.96 ROI) over the past five years with first-time imports.  All four of those winners were returning from layoffs between 154 and 296 days.

#7 NOBLETY beat Giganticus last time out and the five-year-old has really blossomed since coming under the tutelage of trainer Eric Kruljac.  Noblety has won three of four starts for Kruljac and has the look of a down-the-hill specialist. 
For the March 5 workout, Bruno noted that Noblety was "eased away from the half and was never asked at any point.  Finished up under a stranglehold to earn the designation of breezing."  Noblety seems in sharp form and his good tactical speed should work well for him once again.  Note that the runner-up of the February 15 race, Swift Winds, came back to finish third, with an 88 Beyer, in the Crystal Water Handicap on February 28.  This one belongs in multi-race wagers.

#5 PERFECT CASTING only ran twice in 2009 and was the beaten favorite behind #9 SHADOW OF ILLINOIS at Hollywood on November 13.  The drop in class should help this gelding but he seems like an in-and-outer that has been plagued by layoff lines.  He can contend on his best day. 

#1 ROB BOB AND DAVE was no match for Shadow of Illinois in his last two starts of 2009 and he also finished behind Noblety in his 2009 debut.  A lightly-raced six-year-old, Ron Bob and Dave switches to Rafael Bejarano and has enough speed to find a good tracking spot entering the turn. 
Bruno liked the February 25 workout as Ron Bob and Dave "went nice and even early from the gate and then exploded late and finished up strong."  This gelding has run well fresh in the past.

#2 HEWITTS earned stakes-placed status in 2008 with a close third-place finish in the Impressive Luck Handicap going down the hill, but he hasn't been very consistent.  After winning three of his first four career starts, Hewitts reportedly got sick and has only won one of his last 12 tries. 
He's capable of some improvement as he drops out of four stakes tries and Bruno liked his most recent workout.  On March 5, Hewitts "moved easily throughout while never being asked.  Finished up in hand under a strong hold in 24 1/5." 
Still, it will be interesting to see how he responds in his first start since June. 

The sentimental favorite is Shadow of Illinois, who will attempt to reach the winner's circle at the ripe old age of ten.  Shadow of Illinois received a great ride from Alex Solis en route to a perfect trip score at Hollywood three back, but his first two races this year were subpar.  He drops in class for his third start back and can work out a nice stalking trip from the outside post.
Bruno noted that he "just galloped for the most part on the grass" on March 3.  "Never asked for anything.  Looked comfortable on the local lawn and should improve with the drop in class."

#4 T. D. VANCE won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga in 2005 and he successfully returned from an almost two-year layoff to win both of his starts in 2009.  He didn't make up much ground last time out in his first try down the hill and still must prove that he likes this course. 

A race that I won't do much with in real life.  I'll take a shot with Giganticus.

$50 WP Giganticus (#3)

Best of luck to all.


Dan, I have a question for you oh holder of the keys to the maiden kingdom - how do you approach the "continuation school" maiden races? Take a look at the first race at Santa Anita yesterday (03-04-2010). First time 5 and 6 year old starters, a bunch of high dollar sales types, and some coming off multi-year layoffs. I guessed correctly with Beau Smoke, but felt it was nigh on impossible to work any exotic on that train wreck. It is a spot where I really scrutinize the works and the trainer stats. And how do you project second and third start progression possibilities for 5/6 year olds? Kind of the universal axiom is that 5 and 6 year olds are probably as good as they are going to get (even harder if you have a debut from two years ago when they were 3, and now they show back up at 5). Is there anything else you look for?
Steve T.

These kind of maiden races are very interesting.  Older first-time starters and horses returning from elongated layoffs are usually terrible plays as they have likely had physical issues that have kept them on the sidelines. 
Likewise, auction prices can't be trusted.  It doesn't matter whether a horse sold for $180,000 or $1.8M, his or her proper level, after being exposed several times, is the claiming price for which he or she is entered this afternoon.  We can't predict potential or improvement from auction prices in these scenarios. 
Also, it may be foolish to attempt to predict Beyer improvement from five or six-year-old maidens.  With younger horses, it isn't out of the realm of possibility to see them jump up five to ten points a race.  But older horses?  What more do they have to offer?  Usually, what you see is what you get with these campaigners. 
Funnily enough, these races are often formful.  It's often the case of "every horse has his day."  Beau Smoke finally found a field he could bully and ran to his recent numbers, numbers that gave him a big advantage over the rest of the field.
I like to look for in-form speed horses in these kind of races as most of the older maidens have either proved unwilling, or unable, to pass when the money is on the line.  The Moss Pace Figures for the race in question identified the three horses that battled for the early lead.  On form, Beau Smoke towered over the other two and he capitalized at a short price. 


I love Big Cap day, even if it isn't the best field ever.  Can you post PPs for some of my favorite Big Cap winners: Quicken Tree, Vigors, Affirmed & Best Pal?  Thanks Dan
Dan B.

Unfortunately, the system doesn't have Quicken Tree's past performances, but here are the others you requested:

Download Vigors

Download Affirmed

Download BestPal


Horatius had one of the most unique running styles ever - his head would go so low that his nose was literally inches off the ground as he ran. He was versatile running long on dirt and turf (finishing ahead of John Henry once)yet sired champion sprinter Safely Kept.  Dan if you could give us his lifetime PP's it would be greatly appreciated.

Here's what I have for Horatius:

Download Horatius


Hi Dan,
I have read that Japanese champion mare Vodka have been retired after suffered a nose bleed when she was unplaced in a prep race in Meydan before the World Cup where she was expected to take part. Could you please post her pps? thank your in advance!
Jose Iglesias Garcia

Vodka will now be bred to Sea the Stars.  Here are her past performances:

Download Vodka


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

Download 2010 Kentucky Derby Futures 0308


More next time.



smarty jones More than 1 year ago
hg 179 eighth race $100 to win on Pic O Dream. Like the barn/trainer.Shortening distance could help.
Curt A Vassallo More than 1 year ago
Steve T & James Mc, That's a nice play on words, U 2 guys put together. However, Mr. Jackson has found a way to win three {3} straight HOY awards. The best Moss could do, is a couple of minor awards. All the while, his big Amazon, plastic specialist, has been hiding out in the great state of Rubber Ball racing. It seems to me, he's doing it right, while UR guy is doing it wrong. Witness, 2009 HOY, Rachel Alexandra. Even w/o UR precious partaking. Now, if anybody needs to be scared, it's the Breeders Cup Classic Plastic winner. If I'm not mistaken, all the '09 BC winning horses R a combined ZERO 4 whatever. But, traveling from Hollywood Park to SA, now that is traveling. I suspect Mike Smith wear his binoculars, instead of goggles..because he'll need them, to get a good look, at what U have so dearly connoted as an "Ass End." "UR not in Kansas{I mean Ca.}, anymore, Dorothy......{I mean Moss}...
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Keith, Berrio at 111? He didn't need that foot anyway. Chantal is naturally 105 so unless she hit the all you can eat buffet for the last week, I think she is safe. How about the young apprentice - Tyler Kaplan (who won his very first race ever) who is at 108 with Powerofvoodoo. All of this because they don't want to weigh Zenyatta with 130 (which she rightfully deserves) - a classic case of why raise the bridge when you can lower the river... If Z was mine (now that is a better dream than the naked young blonde nurses - that has to prove that I am a totally deranged horse player), I would say give her 130, give her 140, I don't care. This is the race mare of forever, and an extra 10 lbs. is not going to slow her down. Funny, when you are in the midst of history, everything is suspect. I remember one of my friends Dad proclaimed after the Belmont that it was an inside job, Belmont agreed to pack the track. Excuse me? I guess as a whole we are a pretty jaded lot. Keith - I know you really like Sindney's Candy, hard not to off his last, BUT I have yet to see any Candy Ride be that consistent. The problem is they are kind of an all or nothing proposition. If he fires I don't see anyone catching him, but I am looking hard at the race trying to calculate my bets to catch big if a longshot comes in or break even if SC wins.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Remember the dream I had about Super Saver winning the Tampa Bay Derby and an orange pill was 2nd? And I surmised that the orange pill was dreamcode for Charly, the chestnut horse? Well, apparently the oddsmaker had the same dream. I see he put SS as the 2-1 Fav. and Charly as 5-2 second favorite. :) Annie
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Good Morning All... Played a couple of small Pick 6 tickets yestereday at SA. Head was still pounding from this cold that I have. Played a $12 dollar ticket as follows: 4 / 2 / 6 / 1 / 2,4,5 / 5,10 = $12 Played 10 tickets like this on the day. Put $120 dollars into the pool. After the 5th race, I realized that I had 3 in and a solid pick coming in the 4th leg. Nothing crazing was coming in, but after the #1 scored in Leg 4, I was 3 / 2 to hit the thing. I thought that I might be able to catch $12-15K if I can run the table. I sat up in bed and watched the 7th as #4 Lions Story needed another inch to catch #7 Quiet Invader. Both went off at 5-1. We all know what was going to happen in the 8th as #10 rolled past the crazy speed to score at 10-1 and pay $23.80. Pick 6 comes back and pays $27,305.40 5/6 pays $370.20 I have 3 tickets with 5/6. Just a nose in the 7th cost me that Pick 6!!!! I would have stayed in bed all day today!!! Best to all today... Whackymacky Out!!!
brutus4633 More than 1 year ago
Annie, Thanks for the congrats on my MKB Quick Invader taking the 7th Thursday at SA going 6 1/2 He pressed the 6 who was a long shot got passed and had to hang on to win. Fractions-21.89...44:24...1:08:61...and 1:15:09... Pretty quick race. I don't think we can get the Derby Distance(even if QI gets in, the Derby looks like it could be front-loaded with burners) but a nice 6.5 to maybe a mile, I'll give him another shot!
CM More than 1 year ago
Alan: Thanks for your response. I'll have to keep an eye on that. What's your opinion of Bejarano on the downhill? I like him on the turf (nowadays I like him on anything) because he finishes so well. Curt Vasallo: You are probably right, but IMO if SA gave Zenyatta 130 lbs and Shirrefs/Moss voiced their displeasure with the weight assignment a track like Oaklawn, Tampa or even Gulfstream would have jumped at the chance to write a race for her, especially since she intends to travel this year.
CHAAZZ More than 1 year ago
ROTD 9th from Fairgrounds If this stays on the grass,(doubtful), PEARL OF VALOR Connections don't put them where they don't belong. CHAAZZ
Annie More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, Thanks for catching that Sunday race! MOLESAP will get to see his horse run this weekend too! Also, did you notice GRAY is running in the last race at GP on Sunday? I'm sure you will be all over him. :) Annie
James More than 1 year ago
Dan, Alke green won the first at gulfstream last sunday and paid $329. I recall emperor ruckus winning at churchill in the 90s and paying $288, also mynameischase won at arlington and paid over $250 would it possible to get the pps?