02/18/2009 11:38AM

HandiGambling 121

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Today's HandiGambling 121 exercise is the seventh race from Gulfstream, a $40,000 starter allowance at a one-turn mile for three-year-olds that have never won two races. 

Past performances are available on the previous blog.  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 put jockey Jose Lezcano on I'mtrulyinthemood (#5).

I really like Storm  Slew (#1) in this spot.  He earned a very competitive 77 Beyer Speed Figure three starts back, and that number was validated when four horses came out of that race to prevail in their very next start.  The runner-up that day, Anythingyouwant, came back to win a $25,000 starter allowance at Gulfstream at 9-5 odds with an 82 Beyer.  Third-finisher Decaf Again returned to upset an open $50,000 claimer on the grass at Gulfstream.  Cinnamon Road, the beaten favorite and sixth-place finisher in that December 20 heat, came back to romp by 14 1/4 in an open $35,000 claimer at Gulfstream with a 95 Beyer.  Man of Faith finished last that day, but he rebounded to post a popular victory in a $16,000 starter allowance at Calder before running a close second on the grass at Gulfstream in a $25,000 starter.  Even the runners that didn't win their subsequent starts came back to perform well.  Fifth-finisher Il Divo was slammed by Cinnamon Road, but then was placed second in an open $16,000 claimer at Gulfstream on February 4.  Irish Sport, the gate-to-wire winner, returned to finish a well-beaten second behind Cinnamon Road. 
Storm Slew wasn't disgraced in that race.  He saved ground at the back of the pace, angled out in midstretch, and finished evenly while in between horses.  He tried turf in his next two races, and it's quite possible he's more comfortable on the main track.  The inside draw coming out of the mile chute isn't the ideal post, but he should get enough pace to setup his late kick with several stretchout sprinters attempting the route.  I don't think I'll get the 10-1 I see on the morning line, but he's an interesting horse to fool around with.

Morning line favorite Texas Hedge (#9) hasn't run a bad one on the main track, and showed his affinity for this surface with a big-fig maiden win here last month.  I thought the outside was the place to be on the main track that day, however, and Texas Hedge raced wide after breaking from post twelve.  He now has to try winners for the first time, and may face a much-stronger pace than the 24.11, 47.21 he stalked last time.  He can certainly get a piece with a similar trip, and I'll use him in some exotics, but don't completely trust him.

Chapel Run (#2) needed seven starts to break his maiden, but he did it with flair, running off by eight lengths in a $40,000 maiden claimer last month.  He looms a solid pace factor stretching out, but he hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in his three races at seven furlongs or longer, and I just don't like to play recent maiden graduates at low odds.  Another that could certainly win, but I'm not completely convinced

Gulf Cat (#7) may end up on the lead after setting or pressing the pace in his two previous races - both at shorter distances.  He's been away since mid-December, however, and doesn't show a published workout in the last 16 days.  He sure put a hurting on $40,000 maiden claimers at Calder last time, but this is a new distance and barn. 

Country Monarch (#3) has some angles in his favor as he goes turf-to-dirt while removing the shades, but I wasn't impressed with his win three back in the slop, and his two races against winners haven't been very inspiring.

He's Long Gone (#4) has the trainer angle in his corner as Michael Maker has been on fire at the meet.  This is another runner going turf-to-dirt, and he looms a reasonable threat from just off the pace. 

I'mtrulyinthemood (#5) makes the second start off the bench while returning to dirt.  He ran some solid figures last year at two, and is another sneaky longshot in a tough race.

Dealing Lucky (#6) was the beaten favorite going short at Tampa Bay Downs, and these may be a touch tougher.  His two prior route races were poor.

Hit a Homer (#8) earned a solid number over this track and trip when winning his maiden on January 23.  He chased a moderate pace that day, though, and the splits should be faster in this spot.

Here's how I'm going to play this. 

$25 WP - Storm Slew (#1)

$2 Triple Box - Storm Slew, Chapel Run, Gulf Cat, Texas Hedge (#1, #2, #7, #9)

$2 for a Diet Coke.

Best of luck to all.