07/09/2011 11:48AM

HandiGambling 241 (Caress Stakes)

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Today's HandiGambling 241 exercise is the eighth race from Belmont, the $60,000 Caress Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs on the Widener Turf Course.
 
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.

Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers instead of the names of the horses.  
 
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.

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The turf course is listed as GOOD. 

Let's scratch #1 BECKY'S EXCHANGE, #8 EXCHANGE FUNDS, #9 LEGALLY BLANCA, #11 HOUR GLASS and #12 FIVE GRAND GIRL.

I really don't have a strong feeling on this race.  After searching for an alternative to the likely favorite, #3 ROSE CATHERINE, I just couldn't find anyone I really love to upset her. 

I found four main contenders that I would fool around with in multi-race wagers.

#3 ROSE CATHERINE had a big 3-year-old campaign, winning four stakes races sprinting on the grass.  This year has been a bit of a disappointment for her connections as she dropped her first three starts at short prices before scoring at odds-on in the Nonsuch Bay Stakes over the Belmont inner turf on June 8.  
In the Nonsuch Bay, she prompted the pace from the outside before taking charge turning for home.  She kept to her task, but they were getting to her in the lane.  She may have to deal with #7 QUALIA in the early portion of this race, but perhaps she's rounding back into form. 

#1a QUEBRADA SHINER was stakes-placed over yielding ground in the six-furlong Glowing Honor Stakes last fall on the inner, but has been recently plying her trade in route races.  Despite scoring in gate-to-wire fashion three back around two turns, she may be more comfortable going shorter.  I was disappointed in her most recent start as she saved ground in the pocket, but failed to capitalize and failed to crack the trifecta.  She has some tactical speed and may work out a decent stalking trip from the outside.

#10 DONNA GETYOURGUN is an interesting price chance.  She returned from a long, long layoff to win her turf debut at Churchill Downs on June 9.  That afternoon, she made a solid three-wide bid entering the turn before gamely beating back the resurgent Costly in the stretch.  Lightly-raced, it's possible we have yet to see this one's best and she should be rallying in the stretch.

#6 SEA ROAD has a good late kick, but I wonder if she is more effective at slightly longer distances.  All of her wins have come in routes and her recent sprint surges have fallen short.  Still, she is in good form for an excellent barn and should make her presence felt in the lane. 

As for the others:

#2 FASCINATIN' RHYTHM won her most recent turf start, the Jamella Stakes for Maryland-breds last August over yielding ground at Laurel.  She's won a pair of stakes races on dirt in the interim and we could throw out her most recent loss in the Grade 1 Madison over synthetic.  Fascinatin' Rhythm needs a Beyer boost to get this done and may need some pace help up front.

#4 MUCH REJOICING took the Glia Stakes at this distance two back over Sea Road, but she tired badly over "good" going in the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes day.  The nicely-bred filly should go well on the cutback in distance, but I wonder if she'll appreciate the cut in the ground.

#5 DOMINANT CURRENCY failed to change leads when beating a pair of next-out winners at Gulfstream on April 10.  She may have been stymied by a slow pace in her first start against winners here on May 30 and could get faster fractions to attack here.  It's hard to simply discount any Angel Penna-trained runner.

#7 QUALIA may be the key to this race as she makes her turf debut.  Grade 2-placed on the main track, Qualia has always hinted at ability, but a plethora of layoff lines have halted her progress.  She does have good early speed and could find herself on the lead.  Her sire, Saarland, is 2-57 (4%) with first-time turf runners while the dam finished second in her lone start on grass.  Only one of Qualia's siblings has started on grass (placed from four races). 

It's a fun race.  For HandiGambling purposes, I'll key Rose Catherine on top in Exactas:

$40 Exacta:  Rose Catherine - Quebrada Shiner (3-1a)
$40 Exacta:  Rose Catherine - Donna Getyourgun (3-10)
$20 Exacta:  Rose Catherine - Sea Road (3-6)

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Here are quick and dirty selections for some of this weekend's races:

Azalea:  MAY DAY ROSE, WHITE MERLOT, BESO GRANDE
Carry Back:  INDIANO, SMASH, CAL NATION
Delaware Oaks:  ST. JOHN'S RIVER, STRIKE THE MOON, DANCE QUIETLY
Smile Sprint:  IRREFUTABLE, GIANT RYAN, NOBLE'S PROMISE
Man o' War:  GIO PONTI, CAPE BLANCO, MISSION APPROVED
Princess Rooney:  SASSY IMAGE, MUSICAL ROMANCE, INDULGENCE
Swaps:  DREAMY KID, COIL, RUNFLATOUT
Hollywood Gold Cup:  GAME ON DUDE, TWIRLING CANDY, SETSUKO
Dance Smartly (Sun):  BAY TO BAY, NO EXPLAINING, STARS TO SHINE

For in-depth video analyses of the weekend's big stakes races, please click on the following link, scroll down to the second video player, and click on the stakes name on the right hand side:

http://www.drf.com/news/weekend-stakes-preview-videos

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Have a great weekend.