Saturday, 13 June 2009

HANA Predictions 09-06-13

After I had to skip the last installment of HANA’s Pool Parties, I’m back for this one. There are a lot of nice things to say about Monmouth, but other bloggers have done so in abundance over the last couple of weeks. I'm pretty sure none of those glowing reviews was triggered by anything but honest opinion, nevertheless it does leave a sour taste to read a glowing review of a day at the track, then see a Monmouth ad an inch to the left. In light of recent discussion, I’m not sure if the few bucks the TBA makes by selling ad space are really worth the cost.

My favorite TBA ad, btw, seems to have disappeared recently: the one for Mark Ripple’s Ü (“Handicapping the Wall Street way”). I’m pretty sure the guy regrets that subtitle by now (I mean, the going broke part is easy, just not sure if begging for bailout money will work as well for horseplayers as it did for Goldman Sachs).

Back to the issue at hand: tomorrow’s Race 9 from Monmouth, the cleverly-named Monmouth Stakes, is a great choice. It’s 9 furlongs over the turf at Monmouth, which means you can almost completely discount starting positions 7 and higher. Moreover, there are a number of starters that seem to use this race as a mere stopover on the UN Hcap trail. Among those are #4, 5 and 7. I don’t think Fearless Eagle and Banrock (whose stakes wins have come exclusively in NY statebred turf races) will be a factor. Same goes for Richard’s Kid, who is obviously hoping for this race to be taken off-the-turf, but even then he would need the added assistance of several scratches. Which leaves the following:

#1 Proudinsky – pretty much every conceivable angle points to this horse, plus the race could set up nicely for him; he isn’t a world-beater, but here he looks in the right place at the right time

#4 Grand Couturier – I love the way this horse is campaigned, and it paid off last season with two G1 wins; trainer has given him a prep race the last two years though, and this almost certainly is one too; may be good enough to hit the board on class alone, but he most certainly will be an underlay

#5 Strike A Deal – bit of a sucker horse, plus he is one of several who seem to need a longer distance; nevertheless, shouldn’t be overlooked here

#6 Buddy’s Humor – would have to step up some from his Elkhorn performance, but has shown he can live with Presious Passion opening up (i.e. doesn’t absolutely need the lead); seems to be in the right spot

#7 Presious Passion – really like this horse, but I doubt his running-style is fitting here, especially from this post

A more detailed analysis can be found on the Monmouth Park blog.

With question marks surrounding most of the big names, this race should be Proudinsky’s for the taking. I see Buddy’s Humor’s as the only real threat.

Best Bets:
A bit risky to throw out what may be the two best horses in this field (#4 and 7), but all the more rewarding if it works. I’ll wait to see how my candidates look in the post parade before settling on a bet, but a Win bet on #1 Proudinsky and an Exacta with him on top and a combination of #5 and 6 looks most likely.

This will be the last installment of my HANA Predictions. Starting this segment, my goal wasn’t to show off my handicapping skills (I’m perfectly aware there are far better guys and gals out there), but to spread the word about HANA’s Pool Parties. I think they’ve reached everyone you can reach via the blogosphere by now. Also, not surprisingly, readership numbers for this feature have been extremely poor. If you’ve reached here: congrats! You’ve hit the board. If you haven’t, well, that’s my point.

Looked good at the top of the stretch with Proudinsky taking the lead and Buddy's Humor charging for second, but Proudinsky left too much energy when pulling to catch Presious Passion over the first five furlongs and faded a bit at the end. Clear-cut handicapping error on my side for underestimating this factor. Congratulations to Elvis Trujillo, whose ride on Presious Passion was one of the best jockey performances I've ever seen on a front-runner. After going clear in the early stages, Trujillo gave his horse a breezer through the final turn and conserved enough energy to come back in the stretch. Perfection!

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