10/21/2009 4:31PM

HandiGambling 156 (Down the Hill)

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Today's HandiGambling 156 exercise is the fifth race from Oak Tree at Santa Anita, a $62,500 claimer for three-year-old fillies at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the grass. 

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.

There are no changes as of this writing. 

I found this race very challenging, and don't have a ton of confidence in my handicapping.  I narrowed the race down to three strong contenders.

#4 - Salty Sarah is one of only two runners with previous experience over this tricky hillside course, and that could prove key.  She projects for a good trip tracking probable pacesetters #1 - Mary the Princess and #5 - Terrify, and may get first jump on the deep closers turning for home.  The negatives are that she's on an eight-race losing streak, and couldn't do better than third last time out despite a pretty good trip.  Still, when in doubt, trust Go-Go, and Salty Sarah has been facing older runners lately.

#9 - Coatcheck Girl has blown clear leads in her last two races, and looked like a pretty tired filly during the final stages of that mile turf race 19 days ago.  She sat in the garden spot down the backstretch that afternoon, made a three wide burst to the lead turning for home, and looked like she was on her way to a popular victory before being run down late.  She has very competitive Beyer Speed Figures, may apperciate turning back in distance, and will make her first start for John Sadler, a trainer that excels off the claim.

#8 - Dash Dot Dash looks like she's up for sale as it isn't too often that a multiple stakes-winner is placed in a claiming race.  She's only run once since early July, and her lead changes didn't look very smooth during that fifth-place finish in the Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar.  She fits from a speed figure and class perspective, but the drop is a bit puzzling.

As for the rest:

#1 - Mary the Princess is taking a huge step up in class after faltering on the dirt at Fresno last time out.  She has a good amount of early speed, but figures to take pressure, and may find these foes a bit too tough.  Her only lifetime wins came in a $8,000 maiden claimer at Golden Gate, and a $4,000 'n2L' at Pleasanton.

#2 - Cornish Rose won her maiden sprinting at Chester, and pulled off a 20-1 upset over Salty Sarah when last in for a tag at Del Mar.  She should get a solid pace to attack this afternoon, and isn't the worst upset stab in the world switching to Mike Smith.

#3 - Ocean Style disappionted as the favorite behind Cornish Rose and Salty Sarah at Del Mar, and hasn't shown much pop in her two subsequent starts over synthetics.  She has the right running style for this race, and is the other runner with previous experience over the course.

#5 - Terrify tired in her first start against winners, and it will be interesting to see how she classes up with these.  Her only win came at 4 furlongs on dirt at Fairplex, and she may be involved in an early battle with Mary the Princess.

#6 - Madeline Ruby drops out of a pair of allowance races going longer, and the sprint-bred filly may appreciate turning back 2 1/2 furlongs this afternoon.  She wheels back on relatively short notice, and should be charging in the stretch.

#7 - Skim Milk needed 12 tries to win her maiden, and did so going 5 1/2 furlongs in a $25,000 maiden claimer.  She ran last in her first start against winners, and failed to crack the trifecta in her three previous starts on grass.

#9 - Yodelady O tries turf for the first time after finishing a rallying third in her first start of the form cycle.  She can improve in her second start back, and will be the better price of the two Sadler runners.

Here's how I'll play it:

$100 Win - Salty Sarah (#4)

Best of luck to all.