01/27/2010 2:37PM

HandiGambling 170 (GP Turf Sprint)

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This week's HandiGambling 170 exercise is the eighth race from Gulfstream Park, a $62,500 optional claimer with 'n2x' conditions at five furlongs on the turf for older fillies and mares.

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.

As of this writing, the Gulfstream turf course is listed as "Firm."

Let's scratch Yogi'ssplashofgold (#11).

There is a rider switch on Raisinaboveonly (#6)to Carlos Camilo.

This was a pretty tough contest and I must admit I don't have a very strong opinion.  Here are my top contenders:

Streamin Heat (#9)seems in career form for trainer Larry Rivelli and she just beat a few of today's rivals two weeks ago over course and distance.  She didn't break very well that afternoon, but showed enough speed to soon find herself on the lead.  She put away a pace challenger on the turn and had enough left to fend off Summer Flight (#8) in deep stretch.  One has to wonder if the newly-turned four-year-old will regress off that taxing effort, but she should be prominent in the early stages once again, and her recent form cannot be denied.  She rates a tepid choice.

Summer Flight (#8) was hammered to even-money on January 13 for the high-percentage Catalano barn and was shuffled back slightly while saving ground on the far turn.  She was late to switch leads in the stretch, but came with a strong run once she did.  It looked like Summer Flight galloped out nicely and she may work out a good stalking spot behind likely pacesetters Streamin Heat and Charlie Papa (#2).  She improved her Beyer by 14 points in a winning effort the last time she raced second off the layoff and may be ready for her best this afternoon. 

Holiday Girl (#1)will make her turf debut for trainer Steve Klesaris, but the barn's numbers are not very good with first-time turf horses.  Klesaris is 0-22 over the last year with first-time grass horses (1-44 over the past two years, 2-64 past three years, 3-78 past four years, 4-97 past five years), but Holiday Girl's best race came over a synthetic surface at Woodbine, and we've seen horses successfully translate their synthetic form to turf and vice versa.  By Harlan's Holiday (15% first-turf) out of a dam that won four times on turf (stakes-placed on dirt and turf), Holiday Girl has enough pedigree to handle the surface switch.

Ixtabentun (#4) wasn't disgraced when third in a turf sprint at Calder on December 27, but this looks like a pretty decent class hike (of the five horses that returned from that heat, only one hit the board, and that was in a $15,000 claimer on dirt).  This filly has decent tactical speed, is lightly-raced, and may be rounding to her best form.  She's a longshot with a chance, but doesn't show any published workouts over the last month.

Xpectation (#7) looked good after pressing deliberate fractions going a mile at Arlington in September, and then got caught up in a speed duel over "good" going at Hawthorne last time out.  She raced on her left lead the entire stretch run on November 6 and is unproven at this five-furlong distance.  She'll probably be outrun going into the turn, but may come with a good stretch kick for an underrated barn.  

As for the others.

I'll be rooting for the stakes-winning nine-year-old Charlie Papa (#2), but it doesn't look like she's the same mare that reeled off seven in a row between October 21, 2004 and May 13, 2007.  She drops out of a pair of stakes races and will be on a dead-send from the gate.  If no one goes with her, she can be dangerous, but Streamin Heat projects right on top of her entering the turn.

Candy Cane (#3) goes out for the dangerous tandem of Michael Maker and Julien Leparoux, but I wasn't impressed with her nose defeat at Churchill three starts back (Libor Lady, the winning favorite that day, was dueled into defeat by Charlie Papa on 4/1/09).  A stakes-winner on dirt at Great Lakes Downs, Candy Cane has 10 lifetime runner-up performances on her page, and may be best utilized on the bottom of exotic wagers.

Browning (#5)hasn't won since November 8, 2008 at the Meadowlands and she didn't look smooth with her lead changes that evening.  Her last race was an improvement, but it remains to be seen whether she can make up 2 1/2 lengths on both of the two morning line favorites. 

Raisinaboveonly (#6) is only 1-22 lifetime and that win came around two turns at Delaware in a $32,000 maiden claimer.  She looks in over her head.

Believeinthemoment (#10)is eligible for a 'n2L' race and her only win came over "good" going.  This looks like a tough spot for her.

I won't get too clever.

$100 Win - Streamin Heat (#9)

Best of luck to all.

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Back with more next time.