07/22/2009 1:52PM

HandiGambling 134

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Today's HandiGambling 143 exercise is the eighth race at Del Mar, the 63rd running of the Oceanside Stakes at one mile on the turf for three-year-olds.

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."   Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.  Past performances are available on 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 processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Let's scratch Gretsky (#7), Position A (#11), Nashoba Express (#12), Dream Now (#13), and Rainbow Goose (#14).

I like Azul Leon (#4), a colt that knocked heads with the better West Coast juveniles in 2008 on synthetic surfaces.  He finished an even fifth in the CashCall Futurity, a race that produced three next-out winners as well as the talented I Want Revenge, and he should benefit from his comeback race, a curious spot to be sure in a two-turn sprint at Charles Town.  There are no I Want Revenges or Big Dramas in this field, and Azul Leon may work out a trip tracking a solid pace under Garrett Gomez.  His dam was a winner on grass, and I'm hopeful that Azul Leon will take to the green.

Afleet Eagle (#8) is a lightly-raced gelding with some upside potential.  Like Azul Leon, he has never raced on grass, but has shown good speed on synthetic surfaces, and shouldn't be too far off the pace when the field hits the final bend.  The grass is a question mark, but if he can transfer his good synthetic form to turf (and we've seen that happen plenty of times in the past), he may offer some value.

Rendezvous (#3) returns home after poor showings on the East Coast, but he's tactical enough to work out a trip, and shows some quick workouts at Hollywood Park.  Let's throw out his last race in the slop, but he earned a good number two back (albeit with a golden trip), and can contend with his 'A' race.

Herr Mozart (#1) was Victor Espinoza's second call behind the now-scratched Position A, but he should save valuable ground going into the first turn, and he can improve turning back in distance for the second start of the form cycle.

Lesson in Deceit (#2) is Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens' first runner as a trainer.  A late-running sort, Lesson in Deceit needs pace and race luck.

Flashmans Papers (#5) faltered in the Cinema last time out, but nine furlongs may be a bit beyond his scope.  He'll be close to the pace, and I like the rider switch to Talamo.  He won the Eddie Logan at this distance last year, but the pacesetter bolted over the hedge that day.  I'm not sure he's this good.

I've always liked Mark S the Cooler (#6), but his last two races concern me.  Two back, he was all-out to win at 9-10 odds after a good ground-saving trip.  On June 20, he never factored in the Colonial Turf Cup.  The drop in class and trip should work to his advantage, and he has a strong kick.  He gives me mixed feelings.

Mr. Mandella has always been high on Meteore (#9), and the late-blooming colt has figured the game out in his last few races.  He wouldn't be a surprise considering his good recent form.

Backbackbackgone (#10) may be the main speed in this race, but he failed to stay a mile last time out, and has always projected as more of a sprinter.

Here's how I'll play it:

$34 Win:  Azul Leon (#4)
$11 Exacta Box:  Rendezvous (#3), Azul Leon (#4), Afleet Eagle (#8)

Best of luck to all.

Back next time with questions and comments.

Take care,

Dan