03/31/2011 12:30PM

HandiGambling 227 (Gulfstream Turf)

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Today's HandiGambling 227 exercise is the fifth race at Gulfstream Park, a $50,000 starter allowance for three-year-old fillies at one mile on the 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 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 turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #9 NEAT LIGHTNING.

The portable rail is scheduled to be set at 24 feet.

This race starts a Bet-3 and a Pick 5, but I'm not sure if I'll be investing heavily, if at all, as I believe half of the field could win this opening leg.

Trainer Phil Gleaves is only 1 for his last 25 with stretchouts, but I'm going to give #2 MISS MAGGIE GIRL a chance as she goes two sprints to a route in the third start of the form cycle.  She is a half-sister to Show the Way J, a turf winner over 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream last year. 
Dismissed at 77-1 odds in her turf debut on March 3, Miss Maggie Girl finished ahead of a pair of next-out winners (Rosa Salvaje earned an 80 Beyer winning an entry-level allowance while Just Say Goodbye took a $50,000 claimer on dirt with a 73).  Also, the runner-up of that race, Snow Trial came back to finish third in the $100,000 OBS Championship at Ocala with a 76 Beyer. 
Miss Maggie Girl should show tactical speed as she lengthens in distance, and may work out a good ground-saving journey under Manny Cruz.  I wouldn't be surprised if she's fast enough to grab the lead, but it looks like she can rate a bit as well.

#5 SOVEREIGN CRISIS makes her first start against winners for the dangerous Chad Brown barn.  A $140,000 juvenile, she needed $35,000 maiden claiming company to graduate, but did so over this track and trip in her first start at three.  The third-finisher that day returned to score with a 58 Beyer, and Sovereign Crisis may finally be figuring this game out.  Expect her to be farther behind in the early portion of this race, but she can't be counted out.

#3 ZANIAH is one of only two multi-winners in this field.  She whipped $16,000 platers at Calder two back, but failed to parlay an easy lead and soft pace to victory last time out over this strip.  Zaniah finished ahead of two of the runners she'll face today, but may have to go drastically faster in the early stages as Gilded Charm, Miss Maggie Girl, Blue Angel Express, and Sovereign Crisis all have solid early, or positional, speed. 

The other two-time winner is #6 FLOATING ALONE, a stakes-placed performer on dirt that would likely benefit from quick early fractions.  Floating Alone finished behind Zaniah when compromised by the early pace on January 27, but she came right back to score for a $50,000 tag over Take Me to Zuber (second in the OBS Sprint at Ocala with a 55 Beyer next-out).  Floating Alone has been in racing in good form for Bob Hess Jr., shows a recent bullet workout, and should be running late.

As for the others:

#1 GILDED CHARM won her maiden in gate-to-wire fashion at Tampa Bay Downs last time out, but she rode an easy early pace (50 2/5, 1:16 1/5), and still almost got caught on the line.  Although three of the five horses to return from that race came back to crack the trifecta next-out, Gilded Charm may not have such an easy time of it on the lead in this tougher spot.

#8 SARAFINA is lightly-raced with a good amount of upside potential, and she didn't have the easiest trip in the world when seventh in her first start against winners (beaten only two lengths).  Her trainer, George Weaver, is extremely underrated with grass performers, and Sarafina could be the right longshot to benefit from quick fractions up front.  She's an upset possibility.

#7 SUCH A SWEET GIRL is a one-run closer that may finally get the right pace flow, but she'll need to work out a traffic-free trip from the back of the pack.  Her trainer is extremely overdue at this meet and Such a Sweet Girl has been nibbling at minor awards in her last few races.  She's very consistent, but have we already seen the best from this 12-time runner?

#4 BLUE ANGEL EXPRESS has been placed in some tough spots by her connections.  The gray filly ran third against males on October 24, finished sixth as a maiden in the $100,000 John Franks Juvenile Turf at Calder, and finished last after setting the pace in the Tropical Park Oaks on New Year's Day.  She looked okay winning her maiden two back at Calder although she was late to make her final lead switch.  She has a puncher's chance if able to rate in this weaker company.

This is a good, competitive race.

For HandiGambling, I'll play:

$50 Win-Place:  MISS MAGGIE GIRL (#2)

Best of luck to all.