01/07/2009 3:55PM

HandiGambling 115


Today's HandiGambling 115 exercise is the sixth race at Santa Anita, a $40,000 claimer for older fillies and mares going down the hillside turf course.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager, and past performances are available over on the previous blog posting.  Plus, I've gotten approval from some of the bigwigs to provide DRF prizes to the poster with the highest return each week.  So, not only will the winning poster receive the opportunity to pick next week's HandiGambling race, but he/she will also receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan" (a $136.95 value).  I'll e-mail each week's winner with the details.  Anyway, on to this week's race!

First, let's scratch #4 Awesome Feat

As usual, our HandiGambling race looks difficult, and I would have to go three deep in my usual multi-race wagers.  #5 No Ka Oi won the Sadie Diamond Futurity at Hastings Park in 2005, and was claimed a whopping eight times last year.  Despite all that activity, she hasn't won since early May, but now switches to a more aggressive rider in Rafael Bejarano, and owns winning experience over this tricky turf course.  She also has one of those sneaky angles I like, the "reclaim."  Trainer Steve Knapp lost No Ka Oi for $32,000 in October for owner Michael J. Miller, but purchased her back for the same amount on December 12.  This time, Knapp is also listed as the owner.  Let's assume he thinks pretty highly of her ability. 

#9  Brendolyn looms the horse to beat based on her consistency, sharp current form, and previous winning experience over this course.  She's only raced once since August, however, and may not get a ton of pace to rally into.  I'm not sure I want to take too short a price on her nose, but she'll be tough if she fires her usual shot.

#6 Missoula was a vet scratch on December 12, but the New York-bred hit the board in 90% of her races in 2008, and was chasing quick fractions in her last two starts going down the hill.  Trainer Jack Carava hikes her up in claiming price despite the layoff, and jockey Martin Pedroza should have her close to the pace when the field swings onto the Pro-Ride patch. 

#1 The King's Lass goes third off the layoff after disappointing as the chalk behind some of these same horses on December 12.  She overcame the inside post going down the hill on March 22, but has a habit for settling for minor trophies.

#2 Jen's New Chapter owns a two-race win streak, but has never raced on grass, and hasn't seen action since December 6, 2007.  She certainly could need a race.

#3 Sweetsinginanita pressed slow fractions en route to her recent 8 1/2 furlong win at Hollywood, and may have to rally from farther back in this spot.  She's found the right class level, but I want to see her put two winning races back-to-back.

#7 Foxy Games may prove the main speed, but she's another mare with more runner-up finishes than victories, and wasn't able to parlay a 23 1/5 opening quarter and a two-length stretch lead to victory last time out.  If they leave her alone up front, she can make her presence felt, and the barn has sent out some live horses at this meet.

Hey, Steve T., how about a mare for Unusual Heat? #8 Dona Amelia finished third in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap in 2005, and was a Group 3 winner in her native Chile.  She was multiple stakes-placed last year, is a granddaughter of Gone West, and now halves in price to $40,000 for her first start of the year.  She hasn't won since May 4, 2007, and may want a bit more ground at this stage of her career.

#10 Pat the Cool Cat makes her first start with a claiming tag attached since her victorious career debut at Calder in 2006.  She's won three times over this downhill turf course, and may work out a nice pace-tracking trip while in the clear.  She wouldn't be a surprise, but has only run once since early February.

In multi-race wagers, I'd probably play equal parts of No Ka Oi, Missoula, and Brendolyn, but for the HandiGambling exercise, I'll go this route:

$10 WP -  No Ka Oi (#5)

$13 Exacta Box - No Ka Oi (#5), Missoula (#6), and Brendolyn (#9)

$2 for a hot dog.

I just don't love or prefer one over the others enough to find a strong key so I'll wimp out, play a box, and hope for the best.

Expecting you will all do much better.

Best of luck,