09/29/2010 12:51PM

HandiGambling 204 (Anniron)

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Today's HandiGambling 204 exercise is the eighth race from Belmont Park, The Anniron Stakes for fillies and mares at seven 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." Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified. Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.  Past performances are available at the previous blog post.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please. I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.

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.

Heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday have left the main track MUDDY and SEALED.

Let's scratch #2 WICKED DIVA and #3 FREUD'S NOTEBOOK.

I will go three deep in the Pick 4 this afternoon. 

#9 MEESE ROCKS is a head away from riding a three-race winning streak into the Anniron and has done good work on wet tracks (2 for 3) in the past.  She earned a big number in the Saratoga slop last time out and the recent bullet workout at Aqueduct (5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5) allays fears of a regression.  She draws a good attack post position on the outside, and may end up tracking LA CONCERTO, the likely pacesetter, going into the turn.  Meese Rocks may get first crack on that one and figures to be prominent when they swing into the stretch.  Seven furlongs may be pushing her distance capabilities, but I'm hoping the wet track carries her to the wire.  Not only did Meese Rocks finish ahead of La Concerto last time, but two of the other also-rans from that August 23 race returned to win (83 Beyer on turf, 71 Beyer at Finger Lakes, respectively)

#10 SAPPHIRE SKY has won her last two races over wet going and is 6 for 9 overall on non-firm ground.  Compare that with her 0-8 record on all other surfaces and we have ourselves a mud-lark.  Away since the Belmont sprint meet, Sapphire Sky shows several quick workouts in preparation for her return, and could end up in a great stalking position while in the clear.  She adores seven furlongs, but I thought she may have raced on the best part of the track when winning an open optional claimer here on May 12.  Of the five horses to return from the last race, only one came back to crack the trifecta (four ran in stakes events). 

#1 R BETTY GRAYBULL looms an intriguing longshot chance.  Two starts back, she raced five wide every step of the way in an open 'n3x' optional claimer, and still was only beaten a length.  Last time out, she didn't do much running, but was in against the sharp Love That Dance in the $100,000 Trenton Stakes.  Love That Dance came back to win a statebred stakes race at Monmouth with a 98 Beyer while the Trenton's seventh-place finisher, D'wild Ride, returned to win an allowance at Parx Racing with an 87.  Critics will note that the Trenton was 2/5ths slower than an entry-level allowance for fillies and mares that afternoon at Monmouth, but R Betty Graybull should appreciate today's class relief (back against statebreds), is capable over wet going (2 for 6), and figures to get a good pace to rally into during the stretch run.

As for the others:

#4 MY DINAH won the Fleet Indian Stakes at Saratoga three back at this distance and forgiving handicappers will draw a line through her most recent races (turf two back, wide going two turns last time).  Expect jockey Jose Espinoza to take her back in the hope of making one strong late run.  My Dinah is a salty veteran - she's earned over 400K - and shouldn't be discounted from exotics consideration. 

#5 LA CONCERTO may be the main speed for trainer Steve Asmussen.  She won a statebred stakes race at Finger Lakes two back with a 90 Beyer, but she only beat three rivals that afternoon, and was all out to get by Gold for the Queen (that one came back to be defeated by over six lengths by Meese Rocks at Saratoga).  Last time out, La Concerto bombed as the favorite, and it's hard to get excited about a short- to mid-priced contender off such a poor running line.  I'm guessing she'll be in front early, and she likes a wet track (3 for 5), but extended pace pressure at this distance may doom her to a minor placing.

#6 ROGUE'S JEWEl is a three-year-old tackling elders after winning the New York Oaks around two turns at Finger Lakes on August 28.  While sharp and a filly that should get the proper race flow, she has been handled by a pair of these older rivals in the past, and needs a strong Beyer boost to upset these.

#7 CODY SAMORA is the wild card.  We'll find out how good the undefeated daughter of Mayakovsky is thias afternoon after winning all three of her lifetime starts over wet going.  Note that she was on the lead through moderate fractions in all of her races, and she may have to rate with La Concerto breaking to her inside.  Cody Samora is still a bit green, understandable given her lack of experience, and she'll have to be on her best behavior to handle this class hike.

#8 MONEY'S SWEET won her maiden three back against statebreds, but was the beaten favorite in both starts at Saratoga, and was claimed for only $10,000 by Greg DiPrima out of the September 3 race.  Her numbers pale in comparison to those of the top contenders.

Again, I'm going three deep in the multi-race bets, but for HandiGambling, I'll play it this way:

$50 Exacta:  Meese Rocks - Sapphire Sky (9-10)
$50 Exacta:  Meese Rocks - R Betty Graybull (9-1)

Best of luck