10/28/2009 4:27PM

HandiGambling 157 (Oak Tree)

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Today's HandiGambling 157 exercise is the seventh race at Oak Tree, a 'n1x' optional claimer for fillies and mares going one mile on the turf. 

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.

#7 Malibu Win is 1 lb. overweight. 

I don't have a strong opinion on this race, and fear that I won't be of much help.  Here goes nothing.

I landed on three contenders.

#3 Mohaka didn't have an easy trip on October 7 going nine furlongs on the Santa Anita lawn.  She was hung three wide every step of the way while chasing soft fractions, put away the two inside pace runners turning for home, and understandably tired in the lane.  She should appreciate turning back in class, and the removal of blinkers could help her relax a bit better in the early portion of the race.  She switches to Garrett Gomez, and may work out a nice stalking trip behind probable pacesetters Malibu Win and My Maloof Rocker

#6 Dextera successfully dropped into $50,000 claimers on October 2 over this course and distance with a victory over next-out winner Coatcheck Girl (took a $62,500 claimer as the even-money favorite on October 21 with an 85 Beyer).  She's in sharp form for Jim Cassidy, and should get enough pace to run at during the closing stages.  She does have to step up against older rivals, however.

#7 Malibu Win may be the fastest of the pace runners.  The lightly-raced filly only made her career debut during this summer's Del Mar meeting (she won that day over this distance at 33-1 odds), and she's shown good speed on her two starts against winners.  If apprentice rider Christian Santiago Reyes can get this filly to relax down the backstretch, she may have enough gas left in the tank to make some noise.

As for the others:

#1 Bombina is a European invader, and should be respected as such.  Trainer Kathy Walsh is a very underrated source of solid winners, and she has done extremely well with European imports over the last two years (two starters, two winners with an ROI over $11).  I don't think Bombina faced much overseas, however, and our friends at The Racing Post weren't very impressed with her last run.  Consider this comment:

"It would appear that Bombina needs everything to fall in her favour. She was travelling as well as the winner over 1f out but when Surprise Party edged right into her ground she was unable - or was perhaps reluctant - to commit again. The manner in which her head went back when she was placed under pressure was another negative."

Bruno De Julio, one of the leading clockers in the country, has been impressed by Bombina's recent workouts.  In his daily report for Today's Racing Digest, available on our home page, Bombina "went well here in 1:00 flat, looked good through the stretch, never was asked, and galloped out strong," for the October 17 workout, and "left the half for Walsh and came to the wire in 46.4.  Went to the mile pole in 59.2.  Looked good."

So, we have conflicting opinions on Bombina.  The winner of her last race returned to score again while the runner-up bombed and finished off-the-board in her subsequent start.  Let price be your guide.  She certainly can work out a trip from the rail under Victor Espinoza.

#2 My Maloof Rocker has five lifetime wins, and the rest of the field has seven combined.  She rode a soft pace in a gate-to-wire score last time out, but may have to deal with Malibu Win in the early portion of this race.  De Julio noted that she "went well early in 23.4.  Finished ok down the lane in 48.1.  Was ridden for the last part of the work."  She's in good form, and wouldn't be a surprise for hot barn.

#4 Andalacia scares me a bit in this competitive heat.  She was walked off the track at Del Mar, but returned to finish a rallying third going seven furlongs over the polytrack on September 30.  She can certainly improve in her second start back.  De Julio wrote that she "couldn't stand up on the DMR turf, but went OK here on the pro-ride and finished in 1:02 flat here after splits of 12.4, 37.3 and finished in 49.1 and 1:02 flat.  With Music Magic here."  Music Magic finished second in the Torrey Pines Stakes over the Del Mar polytrack on September 6 with an 82 Beyer.

#5 Fire n' Brimstone has been a bit of a tease.  She runs races fast enough to win this, but often settles for second or third.  Let's toss out the recent run on polytrack, and she only finished two behind Mohaka on September 5.  De Julio mentions the good workout on October 19.  "Worked well  and finished strongly late in 1:00.4 on our watch.  Finished final 1/4 in 24 flat."  A hot pace would help, but she may be best played on the bottom of exotic wagers.

It's a tough race, and one in which I don't have a clever opinion so I won't get cute.

$100 Win - Mohaka (#3)

Best of luck to all.