01/20/2011 3:34PM

HandiGambling 219 (GP Turf)

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Today's HandiGambling 219 exercise is the eighth race at Gulfstream Park, an $80,000 optional claimer with a 'n3x' condition at one mile on the turf for older horses. 

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 #10 HEADACHE 

The Temporary Rail on the turf course will be out at 72 feet.

The turf is FIRM.

Lindsay picked a very tough race for today's HandiGambling assignment.  Of the nine horses in the field, I think that seven can win.  There doesn't seem to be much pace at all in this heat so it could turn into a tactical jockey's race with a short run into the first turn, and the rail out at 72 feet.

I'm going to take a chance with longshot OIL MAN (#2), who has not visited the winner's circle since taking the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2009.  Two starts back, in his first race since being transferred to trainer Gary Contessa, Oil Man's finish was compromised somewhat when he was brushed and steadied in late stretch. 
His most recent start, a last-place finish in the Three Coins Up Stakes at Aqueduct on November 26, is hard to stomach, however.  He never fired that afternoon.  Perhaps he didn't like the "good" going at the Big A, but it was a disconcerting performance from a horse that isn't exactly a win machine to begin with. 
Oil Man's inside post may work in his favor, and I would love to see Rajiv Maragh close to the expected tepid fractions while saving valuable ground.  He'll really need to improve in order to win this, but he does have some back class, and the price will be right.

BALTIMORE BOB (#4) won this condition over this turf course on January 8, 2009, and was a multiple stakes-winner last year.  A one-mile specialist (5-7 at this distance), Baltimore Bob was nosed by odds-on Ben's Cat in the Find Handicap at Laurel on October 30.  Ben's Cat returned to win an optional claimer on dirt at Laurel with an 85 Beyer in his very next outing.  I didn't like that Baltimore Bob was lugging in during the stretch run of that race, however, and he only shows the one start since mid-July.  Still, he fits very well under Julien Leparoux.

BANGLADORE GOLD (#9), like many European imports, has trouble leaving the starting stalls.  He was off poorly in both starts since being switched to the Christophe Clement barn, and you could argue that it cost him on both occasions.  He still finished ahead of Oil Man in both of those races.  Bangladore Gold has a strong kick, but there may be some things working against him this afternoon.  First, the pace figures to be slow, and it could hinder late-runners.  Second, Bangladore Gold may need to rally wide with the rail all the way out.  Perhaps, he's simply better than these horses so I can't toss him off my multi-race tickets.

BLACK SCORPION (#1) gave a career-best performance when hammering a pair of next-out winners in a 'n2x' optional claimer at this distance over the Calder turf course.  The sixth-place finisher returned to win a $16,000 claimer on grass with a 78 Beyer while the eighth-runner, Peace At Dawn, came back to win two in a row on dirt ('n2x' and 'n3x' optionals with 98 and 99 Beyers, respectively).  Although 0-5 over the Gulfstream course, he draws a nice inside post position, and was stakes-placed over course and distance here last year against statebreds. 

ROGUE VICTORY (#5) won at this level over yielding ground at Saratoga three starts back, and was a hard-charging second from far, far back in a similar spot here 12 days ago.  He won his maiden way back in 2008 off only a 14-day break, and trainer George Weaver is 6-30 (20%, $2.32 ROI) over the past year with horses running back on two weeks rest or less.  He doesn't have to be so far off the pace, and is a solid campaigner.  He wouldn't be a surprise in the least as he is 3-6 at Gulfstream and 2-17 everywhere else.

REB (#3) drops out of the Grade 1 Secretariat, a key race won by the good turf runner Take the Points, but that race was over 17 months ago.  The son of Stormy Atlantic seems to be working well for his return, and he did reel off three wins in a row last year, but that layoff could be a major red flag.  Rusty Arnold is 0-5 over the past five years with horses returning from a layoff of at least a year, and Reb could be at the mercy of race and pace luck. 

SR. HENRY (#6) was the pacesetter four starts back, and he might take these on a merry chase if John Velazquez gets aggressive coming out of the stalls.  He didn't have a good trip two starts back at this level at Belmont, and was making up late ground against slightly weaker company here five days ago.  His trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr. is 5-13 (31%, $1.65 ROI) over the past year with horses returning on five days or less.  Sr. Henry looks to be rounding back into form.

LUCAS BRADY (#7) is a bit of a throwback as he races without Lasix.  A stakes-winning sprinter on the main track, he has yet to win on grass, has yet to prevail around two turns, and has yet to beat older horses.  He hit the board in his last two turf appearances and the winner of the December 22 heat, Marquet Cat, is a nine-time winner that returned to score in a $40,000 claimer on dirt with a 90 Beyer. 

CALIMONCO (#8), a full brother to Life Is Sweet, rallied from off-the-pace to defeat a pair of next-out winners in a one-turn turf sprint at Woodbine on July 18.  He ran his last eighth in 11.95 so he has some kick, but his form has been plagued by layoff lines since that winning effort. 

Tough, tough, tough.

I'll play it like this for HandiGambling:

$50 - Win/Place - Oil Man (#2)

Best of luck to all.