04/28/2011 12:00PM

HG 231 (Keeneland Maiden Turf)

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Today's HandiGambling 231 exercise is the third race at Keeneland, a maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies at 1 3/16 miles on the turf.

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.  Past performances are available at the previous blog post.  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.

As of this writing, the turf course is listed as YIELDING.

Let's scratch #3 NINE TO FIVE LADY, #13, BRANDYWINE VIEW and #14 HIGH ON KITTEN.

#9 INCENTIVE runs with adjunct medication.

I won't try and get past the morning line favorite, #11 WARM HUGS, a Bill Mott-trained filly that didn't get close to the rail in her career debut at Gulfstream on March 20.  Racing at least three paths off the fence throughout, Warm Hugs was bumped entering the far turn before uncorking a four-wide bid to the lead turning for home.  She tried in the stretch, but was run down by a rail-skimming winner.  The third-finisher that day returned to run second in a maiden special weight over the Keeneland polytrack with a 78 Beyer Speed Figure. 
There doesn't seem to be a ton of speed in this race and Kent Desormeaux may find a forward position going into the first turn.  I expect Warm Hugs to be prominent when they swing into the stretch. 
As for pedigree, she is out of a full sister to Silent Sighs, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on dirt (unraced on grass) and Proposed, a Grade 2 winner on the main track.   The "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 19 remarked that Warm Hugs "finished well under control."  On April 11, she "finished with good energy, better than Shanfield."  Shanfield is an unraced 3-year-old filly by Shaniko.

An interesting exotics possibility may be #8 MOON, a first-time starter going out for Philip Oliver.  Although the sire, Pleasant Tap, doesn't have great first-out statistics (6% with overall debut runners, 5% with first-time turf performers), there is a good amount of stamina in this family.  The dam is a half-sister to Queen's Gray Bee, a multiple stakes-winner that took 11 routes on the main track.  Shahik, another of the dam's half-siblings, was Group 1-placed on turf in Ireland while another half-brother, Dysham, won the Junior Champion Stakes on grass at Monmouth Park.  Finally, another of the dam's half-brothers, Melrose Avenue, was a Group 3 winner on grass in England. 
It's never easy to win first-out at a route, let alone at 1 3/16 miles, but I'll use this one underneath at what should be a big price.

#5 BIZZY CAROLINE looks logical after finishing a rallying third behind next-out winner Artisanal at Gulfstream on March 19.  She ran her final quarter-mile in 22.07 that afternoon, according to Formulator Web, and Artisanal came right back to win an entry-level allowance as the favorite on polytrack with a 74 Beyer. 
The dam is a half-sister to Grade 2 sprint winner Changing Ways, and Grade 3 winners Jacodra and Jacodra's Devil.
Bizzy Caroline goes second off the bench for high-percentage connections and wouldn't be a surprise in the slightest.  Note that she was outworked by Salty Strike, according to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 15.  Salty Strike is a 3-year-old filly trained by Ken McPeek that finished sixth at even-money in a 'n2L' allowance on polytrack on April 21.  Seven days earlier, Bizzy Caroline reportedly got the better of Lady Aspen in a morning trial.  Lady Aspen, a 3-year-old filly, won her maiden for McPeek on Polytrack on April 16 with a 64 Beyer. 

#6 ABACO is out of Cat Cay, a Grade 2 winner on the main track.  By the turf-loving Giant's Causeway, Abaco adds blinkers and Garrett Gomez for Shug McGaughey after finishing off the board in two starts at Gulfstream Park.  The top three finishers of that March 27 race at Gulfstream all returned to hit the board next-out. 
It's probably too early to give up on Abaco, and she may show more interest in the blinkers.  Note that the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 16 remarked that she "easily pulled away from Evasion (48/2), out in 1:00."  Evasion is an unraced 3-year-old filly by Empire Maker out of Inside Information.

#9 INCENTIVE is a half-sister to Winchester, a multiple Grade 1 winner on grass.  Incentive faltered after midmoving in her career debut on Tampa Bay Downs, but has been working steadily over the deep Payson Park surface in preparation for this run.  The winner of that Tampa race returned to score in a $30,000 starter handicap on turf with a 78 Beyer before finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Appalachian here on April 21 (77 Beyer). 

As for the others:

#10 STRIKING WONDER is out of Wonder Again, a multiple Grade 1 winner on the grass.  Bet to favoritism for her career debut at Gulfstream, she finished ahead of Abaco in the aforementioned solid maiden on March 27.  She doesn't show a published workout in the last 15 days, but must be respected off pedigree, connections, and the decent debut effort.

#12 ZENZERO is bred both sides for grass as she's a daughter of Theatrical and the second dam is Group 3 winner State Crystal.  Although Zenzero has yet to gain ground from the stretch call to the wire in her short career, she showed vast improvement in her most recent start, a runner-up effort at Fair Grounds.  The "Keeneland Clocker Report" for April 19 noted that Zenzero gave a "good even effort, lightly ridden."  On April 11, she "finished with good energy, out in 59/3."

#2 CONESTRELLAS and #1 AUDTON both finished behind Zenzero in New Orleans.  The former has strong turf breeding and has some upside potential while Audton's dam was a multiple Grade 3 winner on the grass.  Audton, however, could be compromised by the perceived lack of pace up front.  Note that Conestrellas went "well within herself," according to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" on April 21.   

#7 CASS' LADY has experience over wet turf and she ran into a sharp runaway debuter named Anandi in her most recent outing.  She can do better, but found herself in a salty maiden special weight this afternoon.

#4 AKRIS QUEEN is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Indescribable out of multiple stakes-winner Catnip.  By the long-winded stallion Arch, Akris Queen attracts John Velazquez, but the workouts fail to excite.

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling.

$30 Exacta:  Warm Hugs - Bizzy Caroline (11-5)
$30 Exacta:  Warm Hugs - Abaco (11-6)
$30 Exacta:  Warm Hugs - Incentive (11-9)
$10 Exacta:  Warm Hugs - Moon (11-8)

Best of luck to all.

***

After filming our weekend video previews, Mike Beer and I will head out to Delaware Park to prepare for Saturday morning's track seminar.  If any FormBloggers are in the area, we'd love to say hello.  I'm sure it will be a interesting event.
I'll be back on the blog early next week so check out our videos on the homepage for some weekend stakes opinions.