11/12/2010 3:04PM

HandiGambling 210

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Today's HandiGambling 210 exercise is the eighth race from Aqueduct, a $75,000, 'n3x' optional claimer for fillies and mares at one mile on 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. Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.  Past performances are available two 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.

The Aqueduct turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #2 BECKY'S EXCHANGE.

There is a rider switch for #8 P J'S LIL TONI to Janice Blake-Baeza.

I like #8 QUEBRADA SHINER, a closing sprinter that will try to navigate a two-turn mile this afternoon for trainer Bobby Barbara and jockey Jose Lezcano.  Last time out, Quebrada Shiner was mired in post 11, was forced four wide throughout, and just missed to sharp foreign invader Stormy Publisher.  Quebrada Shiner finished a tired fifth in her only route effort to date, but that race was on dirt, and she is certainly a better mare on the grass.  She should get a solid pace to attack in the stretch and I'd love to get 7-2 odds or better on her (6-1 on the morning line).  The sire, a son of stamina influence A.P. Indy, was a Grade 3 winner at nine furlongs on grass. 

#4 DENOMINATION looms the favorite as the Group 3 winner has faced tougher in the majority of her North American races.  Last time out, she went very fast during the middle portion of the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico and opened up a clear lead on the final turn.  She understandably weakened in the last two furlongs, but that was a strong race that produced three next-out winners, and Denomination can certainly do better with a more patient ride.
Still, her trainer, Christophe Clement, admitted that Denomination came out of the Gallorette "sore," and she hasn't raced since mid-May.  Plus, she hasn't won a race of any kind since April 26, 2009 in France. 
She certainly figures on class and speed, and I'll use her in multi-race wagers, but will side against her on the win end of things.

#2 FOREST TRAIL looms an intriguing longshot for Shug McGaughey.  She'll add blinkers after a dull effort in the Addison Mallory Stakes at Saratoga, and has done well with blinkers in the past (3-1-1-0 with blinks).  She only finished a head behind Denomination four back at Keeneland, a race in which Forest Trail had to wait for room turning for home before easing out in midstretch.  Hopefully, the blinkers won't get her blood boiling, and she'll be able to relax coming out of the gate.  If she does relax, she may work out a great ground-saving, pace-tracking trip under Rajiv Maragh.

#1 ACADEMICIENNE makes the third start of the form cycle after trailing throughout going a one-turn seven furlongs at Woodbine on October 2.  It looks like this Royal Academy filly is slowly coming back to herself after missing over a year of racing following last June's Woodbine Oaks.  She picks up hot-riding David Cohen, and may benefit from an advantageous inside post, but must improve in order to upset these.

#5 PJS LIL TONI had $20,000 claimers at her mercy three back at Saratoga after opening up a clear lead turning for home, but she drifted out badly during the stretch drive, and was nailed in the final sixteenth.  She's face much-tougher opposition this afternoon at the Big A, doesn't show a published move in the last 23 days, and could find other speeds to hound her in the early going.

#6 GRANTED TIGER finished behind Quebrada Shiner on October 7, and then finished an even fourth in a $50,000 optional claimer on October 24.  There are some angles here as she'll go two sprints to a route in the third start of the form cycle, and she's done well at this distance in the past.  Her most recent win came when loose on the lead, however, and she may be just a notch below the top ones.

#7 EXCLUSIVE SCHEME has had a nice campaign in 2010 for Billy Badgett Jr., and she has won over this surface in the past.  The New York-bred has good positional speed, and shouldn't be too far off the leaders when the field careens into the final turn.  She wouldn't be a surprise under John Velazquez (1-1 aboard this filly).

#9 DARJEELING may not have appreciated "soft" ground at Belmont last time out, and she also may not have liked a the rating hold applied by Cornelio Velasquez that afternoon.  She'll be reunited with Alan Garcia (4-2-2-0 on grass aboard Darjeeling) here and should be prominent from the opening bell.  She may be the "speed of the speed," but early pressure may doom her to a minor award.

I'll play my top three selections in multi-race wagers.  For HandiGambling, I'll go this way:

$100 Win - Quebrada Shiner (#8)

Best of luck to all:

This weekend, I like WHERE'S THE REMOTE in the Hollywood Turf Cup and FLY BY PHIL in the Carl Rose Classic at Calder.

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Have a great weekend.

Dan