01/07/2011 3:54PM

HandiGambling 217 (Gulfstream)

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Today's HandiGambling 217 exercise is the eighth race at Gulfstream Park, an entry-level allowance for three-year-olds at one mile.

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.

Let's scratch #3 WILDCAT FORMATION.

The main track is listed as FAST.

A wide-open allowance race goes as today's feature at Gulfstream.  I had trouble separating four strong contenders in this race.  As such, the only "cash" I'll invest will be on the HandiGambling side of things.

#1 BLACK N BEAUTY, a $2,500 yearling, is out of a half-sister to Grade 3 turf winner Dynamite Lass (winner of The Very One Handicap at 1 7/16 miles).  He is bred to handle extra distance and may work out a good pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Kent Desormeaux.  Two starts back, Black N Beauty finished a half-length behind Brethren, who returned to defeat #10 EL GRAYLING in an entry-level allowance race at Churchill Downs on November 27.  In his most recent appearance, Black N Beauty defeated maidens at Churchill, and was flattered when the third-place finisher came back to graduate at Turfway Park with an 81 Beyer Speed Figure.  It's nice to see a pair of recent five-furlong workouts leading up to this race.

#10 EL GRAYLING won his maiden at this distance over grass, and finished ahead of next-out winner Justin Phillip (76 Beyer in optional claimer at Fair Grounds) in his dirt debut last time out.  In that race, El Grayling was four wide most of the way, but I didn't like that he flipped back to his wrong lead in midstretch.  He draws a good attack post position, and should be close to the early leaders while racing in the clear.  The $140,000 yearling is out of stakes-placed turf rouer Smokey Diplomacy.

After winning his debut at 5 1/2 furlongs at Monmouth, #4 PRINTING PRESS has failed to gain ground from the stretch call to the wire in three races against winners.  Freshened since finishing third in the $70,000 Seton Hall University Stakes at Monmouth in October, Printing Press may appreciate cutting back to a one-turn mile.  He has worked swiftly over this surface in recent weeks, and the barn has excellent numbers with runners returning from a 61-180 day layoff (5-14, 36%, $2.92 ROI over the past year).  I did think that Printing Press raced on the better part (outside) of the Monmouth surface on October 23.  A $17,000 yearling that went for $80,000 at two, Printing Press is out of a half-sister to Peter Pan winner Jamies First Punch. 

#9 SHADOW WARRIOR has a beautiful pedigree as a son of A.P. Indy out of Test winner Victory Ride, and he's a half-brother to Grade 2-placed sprinter Magical Ride.  A $290,000 buyback as a yearling, Shadow Warrior graduated at this distance last time out at Churchill Downs.  Of the four horses to return from that race, three of them cracked the trifecta next-out.  Shadow Warrior, like El Grayling, has good tactical speed, and a nice attack post.  He wouldn't be a surprise in the slightest.

As for the rest:

#2 MADNESS N' MAYHEM is the only two-time winner in the field as he took a conditioned claiming race last time out around two turns at Calder.  A homebred out of a half to Grade 2 winner Supah Blitz, Madness n' Mayhem gets the acid test stepping up in class.  Of the five horses to return from that $32,000 'n2L' claimer at Calder on November 20, only one cracked the trifecta next-out.

#5 FIGHTINGFORFREEDOM moved forward with the addition of blinkers last time out, and could be a forward factor in his first start against winners.  It's nice to see him back on fairly short notice, but the $17,000 juvenile ($3,700 RNA as yearling) takes a pretty hefty class hike.  The fourth-place finisher on December 22 returned to run third in a $32,000 maiden claimer on New Year's Eve.

#6 VODE DEL LEONE did little wrong in two starts at two in the Mid-Atlantic region.  A homebred out of multiple stakes-winner Hear Us Roar (Maryland Million Lassie, Selima Stakes), Voce Del Leone steps up off a maiden score at Delaware on November 6.  The only horse to race back from that event, fifth-finisher Ruby Road, ran third in a maiden claimer at Tampa Bay on December 22. 

#7 DR. TOM G ran into a good two-year-old in To Honor and Serve in his first two starts of 2010 before being switched to the turf course for his maiden-breaker at Belmont on October 24.  A colt with tactical speed, Dr. Tom G has worked swiftly at Gulfstream for the hot Zito barn and the distance won't be a problem.  The question this $130,000 juvenile (up from $30,000 yearling) must answer is if he is as good on dirt as he appears to be on the grass.  The dam is a half-sister to American Cash, a stakes-winning dirt router in Western Canada.  Of the four horses to run back from Dr. Tom G's maiden score, one returned to crack the trifecta next-out.

#8 HAMMOCK BEACH was purchased privately and sent to Pletcher after a runaway debut win at Canterbury Park, but he was dismissed at long odds in his first start against winners at Churchill, and only finished an even sixth.  The last-place finisher of that race, Winchell, returned to win at Churchill witha an 80 Beyer, and is entered in Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream.  A $10,000 yearling ($17,000 RNA as a short yearling, $35,000 RNA at two), Hammock Beach is out of Grade 2-placed sprinter Miss Maggie. 

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling:

$40 Exacta:  Black N Beauty - El Grayling (1-10)
$40 Exacta:  Black N Beauty - Printing Pres (1-4)
$20 Excata:  Black N Beauty - Shadow Warrior (1-9)

Best of luck to all.