04/01/2009 10:57AM

HandiGambling 127

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Today's HandiGambling 127 exercise is the sixth race from Tampa Bay Downs, an $8,000 maiden claimer for older runners at 6 1/2 furlongs.  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 the previous blog entry.

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated.

There's a rider change on #5 Double Duke.  Make the jockey David Amiss.

I like CATTLEMAN (#9).  Three starts back, he was bumped at the start and was forced to rally over a speed-favoring track.  The favored winner went gate-to-wire that day en route to a 12-length romp, but Cattleman passed some tired horses for the place, and finished ahead of three next-out winners in the process.  In his most recent start, Cattleman was absolutely sandwiched coming out of the gate, raced far back for most of the running, and split horses on the far turn to get up for third.  The winner of that heat, Gilded Key, came back to beat winners nine days later.
There are some obvious negatives.  Cattleman is a six-year-old gelding with only five lifetime starts so he's probably had his share of physical problems along the way.  Plus, his lack of early speed often puts him behind the eight-ball heading into the turn.  There does look to be a decent amount of speed to setup his late run in here, and he gets my win money at 5-2 odds or greater. 

Any of FOREST CRUISER's (#3) last two Beyer Speed Figures are better than the last race number of all of his opponents, and that will likely make him the favorite in this spot.  He looks like the main speed nearest the rail, but has already had his share of chances (12 lifetime starts), failed as the 1-2 favorite at this level last time out, and has never gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in any of his dirt races.  He is the horse to beat, but offers no value, and is absolutely not a cinch. 

Perhaps FLAMING ARROWS (#10) is the horse to make the exotics.  A Louisiana-bred based in Indiana, Flaming Arrows ran a competitive Beyer last October at Hoosier Park despite racing wide for most of the way, and steadying behind horses at the quarter pole.  He hasn't run back to that figure in his four subsequent starts, but did make a midrace move going long on February 26, and could be slowly rounding back into form.  This barn is clicking at 2% for the year, but it's worth noting that they show a flat-bet profit in route/sprint races as well as 31-60 day layoff runners (since January 1, 2008).

INDIGENOUS RULER (#1) raced wide from the far outside post last time, but completed the exacta when breaking from the rail at this level two starts back.  He's been much improved in his last two starts, and isn't out of this.

NEW YORK BOB (#2) is hard to like based on his last-place effort at 41-1 in his career debut, but he is dropping from $25,000 to $8,000, and dropdowns are usually big wake-up candidates in these low-level maiden claimers.

SALTY (#4) has a hint of early speed, and makes the third start of the form cycle, but I didn't like the way he was bearing out in his most recent appearance.

DOUBLE DUKE (#5) has had his share of chances, and is coming off a 0 Beyer.

ST. PATRICK'S JET (#6) completed the exacta at this level two back, then was overmatched against $12.5K maidens last time out.  His numbers are going the right way, and he doesn't look like the worst longshot in the world.

REASONABLE GUY (#7) can be expected to push the pace, but has faltered badly in all three starts.

BROTHER LAWRENCE (#8) has yet to crack the trifecta in 11 starts.

SAN BERNANDO (#11) is another with speed, and he has never been this cheap.  This barn has sent out some live horses at Tampa Bay Downs, and San Bernando is usable off his last race.

STRAIGHT SWEEP (#12) is another that goes third off the layoff, and his two races at this meet have been okay.  He's stuck way outside, but can pick up a piece with a late surge.


I'll play half of my bankroll to win on Cattleman, and will play an exacta box with my other two top contenders with the remainder.

$50 Win - Cattleman (#9)
$8 Exacta Box - Forest Cruiser, Cattleman, Flaming Arrows

$2 for a Pretzel

Best of luck to all.

Back next time with questions and comments.