02/04/2009 1:34PM

HandiGambling 119

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Today's HandiGambling 119 exercise is the fifth race from Santa Anita, a $10,000 claimer for older horses at six furlongs over the Pro-Ride racing surface.  Past performances are available from the previous blog entry.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."

First, let's scratch Kailee Rush (#1), and Greedy Way (#2). 

There are several contenders in this interesting race.  Flip the Penny (#7) looks tough based on his consistent record, and previous success over this racing strip.  Last time out, he raced in and among horses for the first three furlongs before splitting rivals at the head of the stretch.  Once this gray gelding makes the front, he's tough to deny (7-19 lifetime record), and he pulled away from a few of the same rivals he'll face this afternoon during the stretch drive of that January 10 heat.  There seems to be ample speed in the race to set up the stalking style that Flip the Penny likes to utilize, and he should be moving strongly on the turn.  He may not be worth a win wager at an expected short price, but my wagering strategy will be to key him on top of several other contenders in the hope of cashing a solid exacta.

Wineshine (#3) may be the horse to beat.  He defeated Flip the Penny at this level three starts back, then just missed for a slightly higher claiming level in his final start of 2008.  He didn't run very well over the dirt course at Turf Paradise last time out, but should appreciate getting back on the Pro-Ride, and is another that should appreciate the good pace up front.  He does have a tendency to pull hard in the early stages of his races, and may need to relax a bit better coming out of the gate here lest he end up to close to the hot fractions.

Seth the Candeyman (#6) sports the look of an intriguing longshot.  He was overmatched against statebred optional claimers last time out, but ran competitively against Wineshine two starts back, and fits much better at this level.  He'll receive blinkers once again, but has a tendency to be awkward with his lead changes, and may be part of a quicker-than-par pace.  Still, he's run some races good enough to grab a piece of this pie, and can't be counted out completely.

I tried hard to make a case for Sorcerers Spell (#8), but ultimately relegated him to the "underneath" role in my exotic wagers.  Last year, Sorcerers Spell was able to run Beyers in the mid-80's despite having trouble with his lead changes.  A late runner that will benefit from hot fractions up front, Sorcerers Spell has been freshened up for this race, and has won off the layoff in the past (11/25/07 - Hollywood - off a 10 month plus break).  New trainer Melody Conlon is 3-14 (21%, $2.06 ROI) off the claim over the past two years (according to Formulator statistics). 

Familiar Stranger (#9) has improved with the addition of blinkers, and could be the speed of the speed.  He earned a solid figure beating weaker $8,000 types two starts back, then set the pace over a closer-friendly Pro-Ride surface on New Year's Eve.  He's another that runs well following layoff lines, and the price should be right. 

I think Flip the Penny is a solid choice, but will attempt to enhance his value by keying him on top in the exactas.  Here are the plays:

$60 Exacta:  Flip the Penny - Wineshine (7-3)
$20 Exacta:  Flip the Penny - Seth the Candeyman (7-6)
$10 Exacta:  Flip the Penny - Sorcerers Spell (7-8)
$10 Exacta:  Flip the Penny - Familiar Stranger (7-9)

Best of luck to all.

Talk to you later.

Dan