12/17/2008 2:23PM

HandiGambling 114

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Today's HandiGambling exercise comes from Tampa Bay Downs.  Last week's king, Buffalo Joe, selected the sixth race, an optional claimer on the grass for fillies and mares, and it is a toughie.  Past performances are available in the previous blog entry.  Remember that you have a hundred mythical dollars with which to wager on the race. 
When I first started handicapping, a long time ago, I found that I did best when hammering a horse to Win, or playing Exacta and Trifectas in single race situations like this.  Over the last couple of years, however, my records indicate that my best plays have come in multi-race wagers.  That's one of the reasons why I started HandiGambling.  Not only is it a fun exercise for all, but it gives me an opportunity to find out what's gone wrong from a single race play standpoint.  My results haven't been very good, to say the least, but I think I'm learning with every exercise.  At least I hope I am. 

Today's race is a wide open optional claimer with several conditions.  It is open to 'n2x' and 'n3L' allowance types, but horses that have already surpassed those conditions are eligible with the $32,000 price tag attached. 

The late scratches of Knockinelder, and also-eligibles Hurricane Annie and Frozen Prospect drastically alter the complexion of this race.  Knockinelder loomed the main speed stretching out off fast-paced sprint races while the other two had some early zip as well.  With them out of the way, the fractions should be much more moderate, and finding the horse that will set the pace could be the key to cashing tickets. 

If I had to guess, I'd venture that C B T Snakeye will go for the lead.  All six of her lifetime wins came when on the front, and she owns valuable winning experience over the Tampa spinach (N2L winner in gate-to-wire fashion on April 3, 2007).  We can throw out her most recent flop in the Churchill slop, and she's been consistently facing tougher competition on the grass. 

The Lady Waffles may be the horse to beat.  She earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure last time out over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs, and has been given plenty of time to recuperate from that performances.  She's run well over this surface in the past (N1X winner on February 21, 2007, and five on-the-board finishes here last season), and has enough tactical speed to sit just off the pace.  An 11-time winner, she fits very well in this condition. 

Harmony Found isn't the kind of horse I like to play, but she is fast enough to contend on her best day.  She is extremely stubborn, however, as evidenced by her penchant for flashing her tail when under pressure.  She also seems to have trouble switching leads.  Harmony Found has been freshened since mid-October, and the last time she shipped from Calder to Tampa following a layoff, she won ($50K n2L claimer on December 28, 2007). 

Frontier Franny ships in from Remington Park, but is another with winning experience at Tampa Bay (n2x optional claimer on February 18, 2006).  She may need a bit of pace to run at, though, and the late scratches could adversely affect her chances.  Still, this barn has sent out some live horses at the young meet, and Frontier Franny may offer a bit of value.

Starlite Dove and Hurricane Nikki figure to take money.  The former raced in the name of her breeder, Moises Yanez, for her first 16 starts, then was sent to trainer Rodolfo Aguilar for Dragonfly Stable for her last seven races.  Now, she's back with Yanez as trainer and owner, and Starlight Dove hasn't been involved in any auctions.  It's interesting to note that one of the dead-heat winners of Starlight Dove's October 23 race at Hawthorne was trained by Moises Yanez.  Starlite Dove's best races have come for the Yanez barn, and she wouldn't be a surprise.
Hurricane Nikki makes the third start of the form cycle with improving Beyer Speed Figures on display, and is another with a local win. 

If I was playing multi-race wagers, I'd key in on The Lady Waffles, C B T Snakeye, Harmony Found, and Frontier Franny with a bit more weight to The Lady Waffles.  Mostly, I'd be praying to get alive to the next part of the sequence. 

In this single-race exercise, I'll go for the long bomb with these plays:

$4 Trifecta Box - Frontier Franny, Harmony Found, The Lady Waffles, C B T Snakeye (2,3,4,9)
$4 Win - The Lady Waffles (4)

Good luck to all!