02/25/2009 2:33PM

HandiGambling 122

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Sorry I haven't been able to post over the last few days.  They've been running me ragged with promotions from DRF and NYCOTB. 

Today's HandiGambling exercise is the eighth race from Santa Anita, a $25,000 maiden claimer for older fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs over the Pro-Ride surface.  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."  Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling 122

Let's scratch the also-eligible, Thinking of You (#14).  A rider switch will be announced later for Ms Paint It Black (#13), and it should also be noted that Ms Paint It Black was a vet scratch on January 24. 

The favorite, River Spey (#3) should be tough to beat.  She gave a professional account of herself in her career debut on January 30, as she raced in behind the leaders into the straight, split horses in the lane, and galloped out nicely.  She seems tactical enough to sit in behind the expected early speeds in Black Point (#2), Makor's Girl (#5), and Silent Smoke (#8).  The price won't be appetizing at all so how do we attack the race.  All to win on River Spey in the hope of grinding out a profit?  Key River Spey on top of trifectas, and Super High 5 wagers?  It's not an easy choice to make. 

Since I like a pair of higher-priced horses directly underneath River Spey, I'm going to key the favorite on top of them in exactas in the desire to turn a potential 3-2 shot into something more substantial.  First Contact (#7) fascinates me.  She set the pace over a closer-friendly surface on February 4, and this low-profile barn is showing some intent by removing the blinkers.  According to Formulator trainer stats, Lewis Cenicola is 3-7 (44%, $5.63 ROI) over the last five years when removing blinkers.  That's not a bad number for a guy that went 1-47 in all of 2008.  Here's hoping the removal of the "Rogue's Badge" allows this filly to relax and finish. 

Love Song Mellody (#9) is kinda hard to love at first glance as she's already had ten tries, and didn't do much in her most recent start.  But she's shown some life in her previous races, and her stalking/closing style should work to her advantage despite shortening up to 5 1/2 furlongs. 

I'll take $50 Exactas with River Spey over First Contact, and River Spey over Love Song Mellody (3/7,9)

Back next time with lots of thoughts, responses to your questions and comments, and the overdue Beyer report from last week's stakes action.

Best of luck,

Dan