12/22/2010 2:53PM

HandiGambling 215 (Louisiana-bred maidens)

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Today's HandiGambling 215 exercise is the eighth race from Fair Grounds, a statebred maiden special weight for juveniles at 1 mile and 40 yards.

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.

As of this writing, the track is FAST. 

Scratch #12 - The Tooth Man and #13 Pinecrest Pirate

A pretty competitive contest for our weekly HandiGambling exercise.  I think there are four main contenders in this race, but will go with #8 - SKYMAX as my top selection. 
A half-brother to stakes-winning sprinter Debris (103K in earnings), Skymax is by the juvenile sprint stakes-winner Lone Star Sky, who successfully stretched his speed to 1 1/16 miles in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs.  Although this female family is mostly geared to sprint racing and Skymax has yet to gain ground from the stretch call to the wire in any one of his five lifetime sprint races, I'm banking on jockey Kerwin Clark to send Skymax to the lead, slow down the pace, and have something left for the long stretch drive. 
Two starts back, Skymax raced three wide in the $100,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes and finished ahead of a pair of next-out winners.  Last time out, he lost all chance when being checked hard along the rail on the turn.  That maiden race, Skymax's first start of the current form cycle, was the faster division of statebred maiden specials at Fair Grounds on November 25 by 4/5's of a second. 

#3 - MIRACLE CREEK, like the top selection, has yet to gain late ground in his career, but he has valuable experience around two turns.  A beaten favorite last time out at Delta Downs, Miracle Creek raced with the grain of a closer-friendly main track that day, and still couldn't punch it in.  He has good tactical speed, however, and shouldn't be too far off the early leaders when the real racing begins.  This barn is 1-26 over the last few Fair Grounds meets, and the rider has never ridden here going into today, but Miracle Creek's last two races are fast enough to contend this afternoon.

#11 -  NO LIP looms the horse to beat as it looks like he was purchased privately since his most recent start.  He now moves into the high-percentage Tom Amoss barn following that runner-up effort against open maidens at Delta, and three of the five horses that have come back from that race returned to hit the board (including one in a restricted stake here on December 10).  It looks as if this horse has a good amount of upside.

#4 - ORDINARY TIME, a full sister to stakes-placed turf performer Riina (43K), finished behind Miracle Creek when even-money on December 1.  He hasn't done much wrong in his short career, switches to the hot-riding Rosie Napravnik, and has run numbers that are very competitive with these.  The only other time he raced against statebred maidens was his debut, and he finished a close second on grass that day.  He fits.

As for the others:

#1 - STORM OSIDY was bet down to favoritism when dropped into a statebred maiden claimer last time out, but faltered after attempting a wide, midrace move.  He goes two sprints to a route in the third start of the form cycle, and could be forwardly-placed from his inside draw under Miguel Mena.  He's another that has yet to gain ground from the stretch call to the wire.

#2 GUT CHECK, a half-brother to stakes-placed Sunup (152K), is out of a dam that was multiple stakes-placed.  He seems to be slowly improving with each and every race so it might be foolish to give up on this $80,000 juvenile purchase.  Perhaps stretching out around two turns will be just what the doctor ordered.  An interesting price runner.

#5 MATTGETSNORESPECT didn't have an easy trip when making his debut for Al Stall on December 3.  The barn shows confidence by hiking him out of the maiden claiming ranks, and the runner-up from the debut try came back to win by open lengths in a $15,000 maiden claimer with a 62 Beyer.  I'm expecting improvement. 

#6 MY DADDY HEIR is by a sire that is 1-25 (4%) with juvenile debut runners.  The dam was 3-31 for 47K in earnings.  It's never easy to make a successful debut going two turns, and My Daddy Heir doesn't show a published move in almost three weeks.

#7 SOUTH RIDGE raced evenly at long odds in his first start following an almost six month break and can certainly do better with that race under his girth.  He's another stretching out for the first time, and isn't the worst stab on the bottom of superfecta wagers.

#9 PATRYKUS, like South Ridge, stretches out in his second start of the form cycle.  He's been competing unsuccessfully in maiden claimers, however, and will step up in class under Shane Sellers.

#11 - DAKOTA COMET is by a sire that is 4-103 with juvenile debut runners.  The dam was winless from two starts, but has already foaled stakes-winning sprinter Midnight Judge (202K).  This one must avoid a wide trip from the far outside post at a difficult debut distance.

Here's how I'll play it (although I am worried about the additional distance):

$50 Win-Place:  #8 - Skymax

Best of luck to all.