11/05/2008 12:16PM

HandiGambling 108

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Today's HandiGambling 108 exercise is the seventh race at Aqueduct, the Rare Blend Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf.  For past performances, please refer to yesterday's blog entry.  I'll remind late participants that you can wager $100 mythical dollars on this race. 
There's an important scratch as Tempest Storm (#4), the likely pacesetter, was withdrawn.  That leaves Polar Circle as the main speed, and the pace figures to be moderate at best.  My main issue with Polar Circle is that she was the main speed last time out, waltzed on an uncontested lead through a half-mile in a pokey 50 2/5, and still was run down in the lane.  It wasn't a promising effort, but she is making her third start of the form cycle, and should be prominent when they turn for home.   Despite the ugly loss last time, she's still a contender in this very difficult race. 
It's funny that when I handicapped this race for the first time, I identified it as a great multi-race spread event.  There are several win contenders, and they're pretty closely matched.  Along with Polar Circle, I'd use Sea Chanter, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Lady, and Remarkable Remy in my Pick 4's, Pick 3's, and Rolling Doubles. 
I'm completely flummoxed by the race from a HandiGambling standpoint.  Of the five contenders listed above, I really don't love one more than another.  I can't find a "key," and I hate betting caveman exotics.  What to do?
Blitzen Too, Remarkable Remy, and Senior Rita Lady all come out of the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont on October 13.  Blitzen Too seemed to be in a good stalking position while in the two path, but was forced to wait behind horses in upper stretch while the other two received clear sailing on the outside.  Blitzen Too did finish well when clear, but she did change leads several times in the stretch, and I'm not really a fan of horses that don't remain on their correct lead all the way through. 
Like Polar Circle, Senior Rita Lady will make her third start of the layoff with improving Beyer Speed Figures on display.  She has a pretty underrated break from the gate, and if Rajiv Maragh wants to stay close to the pace, he probably could.  Still, Senior Rita Lady's best races have come from out of it, and it wouldn't be a surprise if she has too much to do when they turn for home.  It's hard to lose ground on the tight turns of the Aqueduct turf course, and Senior Rita Lady's outside post won't do her any favors.  Plus, she has a bad habit of drifting when the money is on the line in the stretch.  She fits on figures and form, and should be a solid price, but as a key, I'm not so sure. 
The same goes for Remarkable Remy, the 10-1 upset winner of the Pebbles.  She lagged far behind the field, angled out turning for home and wore down the speeds.  It was a good effort, but she'll be a fraction of those odds in this race, faces an uncertain pace scenario, and may lose ground on both turns.  Can she win?  Certainly.  Do you put the house on her?  No.
Sea Chanter was primed to have a nice season after winning the Grade 3 Miesque at Hollywood for Todd Pletcher last year.  She was injured after that race, however, and just now seems to be rounding back to her best form.  She ran down the loose on the lead Polar Circle last time, but was all-out to do so, and that seemed like a rather taxing effort.  Whether she regresses off that race is the question, and I'm not sure I want to find out at short odds.  Another that could certainly win on her best day.
How to play it?  I'm going to play trifectas, and go for a grand slam (the baseball term, not the hideous NYRA bet).

$2 Trifecta -
Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Senior Rita Lady/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too (2,5,11/2,5,8,9,11/2,5,8,9,11) = $72

$1 Trifecta -
Polar Circle, Blitzen Too/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too/Remarkable Remy, Sea Chanter, Polar Circle, Blitzen Too, Senior Rita Too (8,9/2,5,8,9,11/2,5,8,9,11) = $24

$4 Win Senior Rita Lady (#11) = $4

This was a very, very tough race, and I have to admit I'm not that confident. 

Back tomorrow with some questions and comments.

Take care,

Dan