10/15/2008 10:49AM

HandiGambling 106


Today's HandiGambling race is the finale at Oak Tree.  It's a $25,000 maiden claimer with a big field of 13 signed on (before scratches).  The past performances for this race were posted on yesterday's blog.  If you haven't made your play yet, remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race. 
Last week's HandiGambling race turned out awfully for me.  My handicapping was terrible, my gambling was worse, and I ended up with a donut for the day.  Since then, the past performances look like hieroglyphics. 
Slumps.  They don't make sense, and mathematically speaking, they shouldn't happen at all.  But they do, and who knows why?  Hopefully, today will be the breakout I've been waiting for.

I've always found that these sort of races (low-level maiden claimer) are full of horses just begging to be thrown out.  Full fields or not, several of these horses don't deserve a second glance.  J's Dirty Martini was beaten 26+ lengths at 45-1 odds in his debut at Fairplex, and now draws the rail. 
Flying Blue was beaten 20+ at 28-1.  Ata Benchmark has finished ahead of one horse in two starts, and has a problem coming out of the gate.  Lee's Top Ferrier doesn't have much pedigree, and seven furlongs is a difficult debut distance for any horse, let alone a Cal-bred with slow works at Fairplex. 

Conversely, you can never really throw these bombs all the way out of bets like the Trifecta and the Super High 5.  There are reasons that the top contenders are in for this low tag.  First and foremost, they don't have much ability, and second, they probably have their share of physical infirmities.  Still, they must be given consideration under the "Every Horse Has His/Her Day" rule. 

Angles are powerful in these kind of races.  Fortunate Victory has a big angle in his corner.  He's never been in for a claiming tag before, and the drop-off in competition from special weights to maiden claimers is huge.  Orientation Hall has never been in this cheaply.  Although he's failed for $40K and $32K, these are weaker horses.  Of course, Fortunate Victory hasn't raced since January, and Orientation Hall has burned a lot of money so they don't seem that dependable. 

The fact remains that no one is dependable in this race so I'll try and find the best horse, and hope he survives the inevitable stagger-fest to the wire. 

I think Midnight Corredor is the best horse.  Two starts back, for a $50,000 tag, he pressed the pace while down on the rail, and looked good for a half-mile.  Unfortunately for him, the last quarter-mile was rather ugly.  He failed to change leads, and galloped out poorly.  Still, there doesn't seem to be much speed in this race, and it's always a plus to have speed in lower-level races.  Midnight Corredor rallied for third as the beaten favorite in his lone start at this level, and the blinkers are once again added to his arsenal.  A lightly-raced gelding, it's possible he still has slight improvement in the tank.  Here's hoping Mike Smith is aggressive, and says "catch me if ya can" from the gate.

Unfortunately, Midnight Corredor won't offer much value on the win end so I'll have to find some horses to hook up with him 'underneath' in exotics.  Legend of My Own showed speed at Fairplex last time out, and Martin Pedroza is an aggressive rider.  That race was the slower division of $25,000 maiden claimers on September 20, however, and Legend of My Own failed to hold on at 2-5 odds.  His speed figures fit well with these, and he should also be close to the pace.  An on-the-board finish seems likely.  Orientation Hall failed to switch leads when he earned a 78 Beyer two back, but he was dueling over a closer-friendly Hollywood surface, and was only beaten three-parts of a length.  He's only raced once since that race in late May, though, and has burned a lot of money.  He's another that can be in the hunt when they swing into the stretch although his rider, Brice Blanc, is on a 1-38 cold streak, and Orientation Hall has been the beaten favorite in one-third of his starts.

Afleet Bud may be a sleeper.  He's going second off a long layoff for a very capable barn, shows an improved workout for this race, and has really picked up his game since being equipped with blinkers.  He'll be running late and can make the exotics at the very least.  Concinnity is another interesting price horse.  Marty Jones is having an excellent Oak Tree meeting, and Concinnity will make the third start of the form cycle with improving Beyers on display.  He's tactical enough to sit just off the pace. 

After 15 losses, it's hard to love Fortunate Victory, especially off the January layoff, but that drop is very powerful.  Still, someone has to be excluded, and it will be him that gets washed from my tickets. 

I'll key Midnight Corredor in the first two legs of the Exacta, and hope to catch something.

Here are my plays:

$40 Exacta - Midnight Corredor/Legend of My Own (11-9)

$20 Exacta - Midnight Corredor/Orientation Hall (11-10)

$10 Exacta - Midnight Corredor/Afleet Bud (11-5)

$10 Exacta - Midnight Corredor/Concinnity (11-8)

$10 Exacta - Legend of My Own/Midnight Corredor (9-11)

$10 Exacta - Orientation Hall/Midnight Corredor (10-11)

Hoping to just grind it out in a difficult race.

Good luck,