03/04/2009 2:32PM

HandiGambling 123


Today's HandiGambling exercise is the sixth race from Santa Anita, a $62,500 claimer for four-year-olds going six and a half furlongs at Santa Anita.  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."  Past performances are available from yesterday's blog entry.

First, let's start off with some business.  The race has been taken OFF the turf, and will be contested over the Pro-Ride surface.  Doneitagain (#10) was a vet scratch on February 8.

There seems to be a decent amount of speed with Kbello (#5), Recoil (#7), Noblety (#8), and Topper Shopper (#9) all having shown good gate zip in the past.  The pace should be solid, and I'm hoping that Garrett Gomez will have Storm Brave (#2) in a good tracking position going into the turn.  Storm Brave finished fourth in his first start of the year on February 8, and he raced in between horses for most of the way under low-profile rider Pedro Arambula.  Although he lacked a strong finishing kick, Storm Brave has won in his second start off the bench in the past (maiden on 10/8/07), and can improve off the comebacker.  The rider switch speaks for itself, and Storm Brave has proven himself on the main track in the past. 

Doneitagain's physical condition has to come into question as he's been away since June, and shows a 22-day gap between his last two works (with the aforementioned vet scratch smack dab in the middle).  When healthy, he's shown some ability.  I really liked his career debut at Calder, and he hasn't run a bad one in his career (tough trip second out, first or second in each subsequent start).  He can stalk the pace under Tyler Baze, and should be a solid price.

Topper Shopper is a stakes-winner on both dirt (Fairplex) and synthetic (Del Mar), and he should be a forward factor from the opening bell.  He got away with easy fractions when wiring $50,000 claimers to close out his 2008 campaign, however, and I didn't like how he was drifting out in deep stretch.  He shows five straight five-furlong workouts for this, and trainer Bill Spawr has been sending out plenty of live horses at this meet.

Nene (#6) has a closing kick that seems tailor-made for this surface, and is another that can improve in the second start of the form cycle.  This one doesn't have much early speed, but he does have a hint of back class (won the Barretts Juvenile in 2007), and seems to be rounding into his best form.  He should come running late.

Tommys Luck (#4) steps up off the Ruben Cardenas claim, and the connections made a similar move with Frankelstein (21-1 odds) on February 21.  Tommys Luck has burned his share of money in his career, but is fairly honest, and his usual race puts him in the hunt. 

This looks like a good, competitive race for our HandiGambling exercise.  I like Storm Brave to win at 2-1 or better, and will play him in exotics with some other, higher-priced contenders.

$50 Win - Storm Brave (#2)
$8 Exacta Box - Storm Brave, Topper Shopper, Doneitagain (#2, #9, #10)

$2 for a soda pop.

Best of luck to all.