04/30/2010 10:17AM

HG 183 (Kentucky Derby)


Saturday's HandiGambling 183 exercise is the eleventh race from Churchill Downs, the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles for three-year-olds. 

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.  Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.  One entry per person please.  I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.

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.

Here are the past performances:



I'm posting this Friday morning so don't have access to program changes.

I view this as a wide-open race and will try to take six longshots in multi-race wagers. 

Frankly, I don't know if AMERICAN LION (#7) is any good.  He has well-hyped as a juvenile, devolved into an underachieving mediocrity on synthetics earlier this year, and then leapt into the Derby picture thanks to an easy trip against a poor field in the Illinois Derby.  Like so many other synthetic-to-dirt performers in 2010, he moved way forward on the real stuff, and I'm willing to take a gamble at 30-1 or so that he can rate from off the pace.  If he was 6-1 or 8-1, I wouldn't be willing to take that risk, but American Lion is sharp, bred to go the distance, and bred to handle an off track. 

It's hard to view the filly, DEVIL MAY CARE (#11), as the next Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, or Goldikova based on the cold dope, but there's no denying that she's fast enough to win this Derby.  Her Bonnie Miss was faster than the Florida Derby run at the same distance on the same day and she raced that quickly despite looking as green as the Grinch in the stretch.  You always have to worry about a filly that's shown inexperience (fractious gate, weaves in stretch, races on wrong lead), but one gets the feeling that she does have some talent, and the blinkers may help her focus a little bit.  She may work out a good trip from off the pace and she already owns a win over a wet track.

LINE OF DAVID (#5), SUPER SAVER (#4), and NOBLE'S PROMISE (#3) haven't gotten much mainstream publicity over Derby week, but they all deserve to be included in the conversation. 

Line of David showed high speed in outsprinting Super Saver to the front in the Arkansas Derby and was dead-game in the stretch.  It wasn't his fault that Super Saver and DUBLIN (#17) seemed to hang when challenging him in the stretch.  The pace scenario may work against Line of David, and he's questionable on wet surfaces, but you're getting 30-1 on the morning line on a horse that hasn't been headed in his last three races and will go out for top connections (Bejarano/Sadler). 

Super Saver likes a wet track and has winning experience at Churchill Downs.  While his two prep races this year haven't really caught the eye, I wonder if he was fully charged for those starts.  In the Tampa Bay Derby, he was asked to go 1 1/16 miles off the layoff and he was only beaten a half-length.  In the Arkansas Derby, he was asked to rate for the first time and was only beaten a neck.  Expect Calvin to send and find a spot on the rail while close to the lead.  The pace scenario is worrisome, however.

Noble's Promise is bred to enjoy a wet track, but one has to be concerned about his ability at this distance, and he did have some physical problems (banged up, lung infection) after the Arkansas Derby.  He also had a very bad trip in the Arkansas Derby, breaking slowly, being pinched back soon after the break, and being checked while attempting to sneak up the rail on the far turn.  He's a gutsy little fellow.

ICE BOX (#2) may be one of the wiseguy picks as he's a strong closer in a race packed with speed.  The Pulpits seem to do well on wet tracks and Ice Box fits the profile of the typical late-developing Zito colt that is primed for the first Saturday in May.  I didn't like that he raced on his wrong lead in the stretch of the Florida Derby, but one gets the feeling he'll be running hard late off fast fractions.

As for the horses that I'll let beat me (in post position order):

LOOKIN AT LUCKY (#1) is the most accomplished horse in the race.  He's fast, courageous, has the right running style, is in the right hands, and is battle-tested.  I must admit that the inside post does bother me a little bit, especially after Lookin At Lucky was checked while down on the rail in the Santa Anita Derby.  Will there be lingering psychological effects for both horse and rider?  Possibly not, but you never know.  He seems to have strong wet-track breeding so I'm not that concerned about the possibility of off going. He's a horse that I can certainly root for and he can certainly win this race.

I don't know if STATELY VICTOR (#6) wants to run on dirt.  His wins have come on grass and on Polytrack, and his dam was a graded stakes winner on the lawn.  He's also somewhat questionable on a truly wet track.  He has the right running style and should see out the trip but I'd like him better if this race was on grass or synthetic.

The same goes for Michael Maker's other entrant, DEAN'S KITTEN (#8).  He should run all day being by stamina influence Kitten's Joy, but his lone race on dirt resulted in a 33 3/4 length drubbing.  Like his stablemate, he's sharp and has the right running style.

MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (#9) and PADDY O'PRADO (#10) were both maidens until winning stakes races going long on the turf on March 6.  The former may not have the pedigree to handle this demanding distance.  Paddy O'Prado, on the other hand, may have moved a bit too soon when second to Stately Victor in the Blue Grass, and has some wet-track pedigree.  Still, one has to wonder if he's better suited to turf and synthetic racing.

CONVEYANCE (#12) is a quality speedball, but may be at his best in races up to 1 1/16 miles.  He won the Southwest in gate-to-wire fashion over a speed-favoring track and it looks like there are other pace factors for him to deal with on Saturday.  He has solid wet-track breeding, but the combination of pace scenario and miler's pedigree makes me look elsewhere. 

I won't say anything bad about JACKSON BEND (#13), a courageous little colt that doesn't understand the meaning of "quit."  He was no match for Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial, but there's no shame in that considering the Pletcher colt's overall quality.  Jackson Bend may not want to go this far, and I'm not sure he'll relish a wet track, but I do know he'll give it 110%.

MISSION IMPAZIBLE (#14) and DISCREETLY MINE (#15) both took the Louisiana Derby route for Team Pletcher.  Mission Impazible worked out a nice trip in winning that prep race and looks comfortable from off the pace.  He also has some upside potential and Beyer Speed Figures that are trending upward.  He's not out of this. 
Discreetly Mine should relish a wet track.  His dam ran off with the Alabama at 10 furlongs over a very wet track and Discreetly Mine won his maiden at the Spa over good going by 6 1/2 lengths.  I do wonder if Discreetly Mine is better when he controls the pace.  That scenario may not play out here. 

AWESOME ACT (#16) has a tendency to pull hard coming out of the gate and it will be up to Julien Leparoux to get him in behind horses to relax Awesome Act in the opening three furlongs.  He has a strong wet track pedigree as well as a powerful turn of foot.  I'm willing to think that he was a short horse in the Wood Memorial as he missed some time due to a reported infected pastern as well as poor weather.  He's dangerous.

Dublin hasn't won this year, but he's had three preps and should be legged up for the Derby.  He raced against the grain of a speed-favoring track in the Southwest and made a premature wide move in the Rebel.  I was expecting better in the Arkansas Derby but he seemed to hang when the money was on the line.  I'm not sure if he'll be at his best at this distance, but he has an acceptable running style and should handle wet going.

BACKTALK (#18) likes Churchill Downs, likes it wet, and should benefit from a good pace up front.  Other than that, he's hard to recommend.  He's yet to crack 90 on the Beyer scale and was beaten 14 lengths by American Lion in the Illinois Derby while not looking comfortable in the stretch.

HOMEBOYKRIS (#19), like Backtalk, has not run a 90 Beyer.  He also hasn't raced since February 27, has never won around two turns, isn't really bred for off going, and is suspect at the distance.  If he beats me, he beats me.

SIDNEY'S CANDY (#20) is one of my favorite horses of the crop.  He has speed, class, and professionalism.  The pace scenario is a worry.  If he runs and guns, does he get caught up in a speed duel?  If he rates, do we know he can rate successfully while probably losing ground?  Again, these are questions I'd attempt to answer in the affirmative at 30-1.  Sidney's Candy won't be those odds.  I think he'll absolutely love a wet track and can certainly take this race home with him.

I'll keep HG simple and focus on multi-race wagers in "real-life."

$50 WP American Lion (#7)

Best of luck to all:

Here are some quick and dirty selections for Saturday at Churchill:

Eight Belles:  Buckleupbuttercup, Visavis, Hot Dixie Chick
Humana Distaff:  Informed Decision, Warbling, Dr. Zic
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic:  Court Vision, General Quarters, Blues Street

More importantly, who do you fancy this weekend?  I need to know.


As promised here are the top 25 Winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's racing action:

Here are the lifetime Beyer Speed Figures for last week's highest Beyer earner:

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