04/08/2011 1:56PM

HandiGambling 228 (Gulfstream Turf)


Today's HandiGambling 228 exercise is the ninth race at Gulfstream Park, a $35,000 maiden claimer for three-year-olds and upward at one mile on the grass.

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.


The portable rail is scheduled to be set at 48 feet.

For multi-race purposes, I'm going to use three contenders without a ton of confidence.

#6 ALISAL, the morning line favorite at 5-2, drops out of the maiden special weight ranks for trainer Angel Penna Jr.  He'll make his third start of the form cycle this afternoon, and I think he moved prematurely in his most recent start.  That day, he advanced while four wide on the backstretch before backing up in the stretch.  While he has lost ground from the stretch call to the wire in his last three races, the class relief should serve this son of stakes-winner Jeunesse Doree (14-4-3-3, $147,903 on grass) well (note that he was beaten a mere head in his only previous start for a tag).  He's also a half to stakes-winner Quelle Beaute (15-4-1-2, $208,588 on grass) although he has yet to run to his pedigree.  Note that the last race hasn't produced much (none of the five horses to run back were able to crack the trifecta next-out), including short-priced dropdown Key to the Empire (finished eighth on 2/27, ran eighth at 3-1 for this tag on March 20).  He's a tepid choice.

#4 OH OH BAMA may have the most upside of any in the field.  The 4-year-old adds blinkers after racing wide in his career debut.  It's never easy for firsters to succeed around two turns so I'm expecting Oh Oh Bama to move forward from the effort, and trainer Kelly Breen shows good numbers with second-time starters.  A half-brother to multiple Grade 3 sprint winner Ravalo (0-4 on grass), Oh Oh Bama could show improved speed and shows a recent bullet work (perhaps aided by the new eyewear).  The third-place finisher from his debut returned to graduate on dirt at Tampa Bay for $25,000 with a 70 Beyer. 

#5 SCAPPARE is a half-brother to long-winded hurdler Haddix out of stakes-winning turfer Dysham (9-1-3-2, $77,660, 1-5 on grass).  He showed improved speed in his most recent start, but ended up in a good pocket trip, and failed to capitalize (I didn't like the fact that he was late to make his final lead change).  Still, that race produced three next-out winners as well as Extended Family, the next-out runner-up in the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes on the Safetrack surface at Ocala.  There doesn't seem to be a ton of speed in this race so Scappare could be forwardly-placed when they swing into the stretch. 

As for the others:

#1 FELA KUTI makes his first start out of the special weight ranks, and that is often a powerful angle in maiden races.  He also draws an advantageous inside post position, and may work out a great ground-saving, pace-tracking trip under E. T. Baird.  This one didn't run well over the main track in his last two starts, but his turf form last year at Ellis Park wasn't bad at all (beaten a half-length by El Grayling on September 5; that one will run in the Illinois Derby on Saturday).  He's certainly not out of this by a longshot.

#2 PRETEND AND EXTEND is out of Conectis, a stakes-winner on turf, and he had the misfortune to tackle eventual Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf champion Pluck in his only other start on grass.  He's been away four months, but has never been this cheap, and the barn has been going great guns at the meet.  I wouldn't argue with anyone that tried to make a score with this one.

#3 DEPUTY DUKE adds Lasix after four poor efforts.  He was beaten 38 lengths in his only other race on grass, and is tough to recommend.

#7 ROARS MORE is by Roar of the Tiger, who is 17-145 (12%) with firsters and 5-60 (8%) with first-time turf runners.  The unraced dam has already produced stakes-placed Screen to Screen (32-3-7-7, $287,582, 0-1 on turf) and stakes-placed turf performer Dreamed to Dream (11-3-1-1, $103,163, 3-10 on turf, first-turf winner).  There is some pedigree appeal here, but he'll have to negotiate a mile with a spotty work tab on display.

#8 JETTIES BEACH was claimed from his debut run on March 4, but he dropped back badly that day after having some early trouble.  He should benefit from the race, but may be best utilized on the bottom half of exotic wagers.

#9 TOP SURPRIZE has been ignored at the windows for both lifetime starts, but the Bill Mott-trained half-brother to multiple stakes-placed Cosmic Queen (0-2 on turf) has never been this cheap.  He also hasn't shown much early speed, and could be at the mercy of race and pace luck. 

#10 HUGO LIGHT may be the pacesetter by default.  He showed the way early in his turf debut on March 4 before tiring at 89-1.  With 11 starts already under his girth, it's possible we've already seen his best. 

#11 TIMOTHY TEN FOUR is a half to Grade 1 hurdler Bon Fleur and should appreciate today's added distance.  He exits a key race on polytrack and drops in class, but hasn't shown much in his short career. 

I liked #12 HERECOMESEVERYMAN for his career debut on January 29, but the colt failed to make an impression after a poor start.  He drops and adds blinkers for trainer Linda Rice, but is mired on the far outside.  If this horse wins at a $20 mutuel, I'll be the guy kicking myself. 

This one may be too tough for me as it pertains to a real bankroll.  For HandiGambling, I'll go:

$50 Exacta:  Alisal - Oh Oh Bama (6-4)
$50 Exacta:  Alisal - Scappare (6-5)

Best of luck to all.