12/23/2011 12:21PM

HandiGambling 263 (Gulfstream turf maidens)

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Friday's HandiGambling 263 exercise is the sixth race at Gulfstream Park, a maiden special weight for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on 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.
 
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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As of this writing, the turf course is FIRM.

Let's scratch #11 VOLITION and #12 CORRECT RESPONSE.

The temporary rail is set at 96 feet.

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The two morning line favorites look very tough in this maiden special weight. 

#1 WHITE HILL boasts an excellent pedigree, top-shelf connections and good form.  He is a half-brother to multiple stakes-winner Eventail (20-5-6-1, 300K, 2-10 on turf), multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady (22-11-7-0, $2,4M, unraced on turf) and stakes-winner Commendation (43-7-8-7, 315K, 4-29 on turf) and will go out for the red-hot Todd Pletcher barn. 
In his career debut on dirt, White Hill finished second to Blameshifter, who returned to win an entry-level optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs with a 66 Beyer.  Switching to turf at Gulfstream on December 3, White Hill received a strong learning run.  He saved ground at the back of the back and had to angle widest turning for home.  By that time, the winner was long gone, but White Hill finished gamely for second (final quarter-mile in 23.63) despite drifting out slightly in the drive.
White Hill draws an advantageous inside post position (considering the rails are out 96 feet) and should save valuable ground going into the first turn. 

Conversely, #10 DREAM MAN drew the far outside post.  A homebred son of Unbridled's Song out of a sprint-winning full sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Finder's Fee, Dream Man suffered through a tough trip (still finished his final quarter in 23.44) in a solid maiden at Belmont on October 9.  The winner of that race returned to finish third (with an 85 Beyer) in an entry-level allowance while the fourth-finisher came back to graduate in a $50,000 maiden claimer with an 83 Beyer. 
Blessed with tactical speed, Dream Man may have enough early zip to avoid being hung out dreadfully wide going into the first turn. 

Those are the two horses I'll concentrate on in exotic wagers. 

As for the others:

I tried to make a very strong case for #2 WHERE'S THE BABY, a gelding that has cracked the trifecta in three-quarters of his lifetime appearances, but he is a rather frustrating horse to watch.  Where's the Baby had good chances to graduate in Chicago earlier in the year, but his penchant for flipping back to his left lead in the stretch run may have cost him better placings.  He boasts consistent Beyer Speed Figures and draws a cozy inside post, but may be best played on the bottom of exotic wagers.

#4 THOMASQUITO finished a neck behind even-money favorite Hold That Camera in the turf debut at Calder on November 12, but finished behind White Hill most recently in his first start over this strip.  Lightly-raced, this 4-year-old has some upside potential and shouldn't be completely discounted.

#6 PRINCIPATO is a gelding out of Pattiano, a multiple stakes-placed mare (35-5-6-6, 234K, 5-29 on turf).  Principato raced evenly at long odds when finishing behind both White Hill and Thomasquito on December 3.  He must improve.

Over the past two years, trainer Jonathan Sheppard is 6-16 (38%, $3.03 ROI) with runners receiving blinkers for the first time.  He'll try the angle again with #8 LOVE OF FLYING, a son of French Oaks winner Latice and a half-brother to Group 1-placed turf runner Fencing.  Love of Flying hasn't shown a strong stretch kick in his career and he squandered a pretty good trip when fourth at Saratoga on September 3.  Most recently, he finished behind next-out winner Big Town (79 Beyer in off-the-turf maiden special weight at Churchill Downs).  Expect some improvement from Love of Flying, but he may have have to move forward a good amount to upend the favorites.

Looking for the speed?  Perhaps it's #5 LIQUID LUCK, who has been within a head of the frontrunner at the pace call of his last three races.  Liquid Luck had to go pretty fast in the early portion of his most recent start at Calder (22.82) and still finished best of the pace runners that afternoon.  His last two turf races have not been bad, but one must wonder if we've already seen the best from this 11-time maiden. 

Don't be surprised by the name as #3 NICKY BOY is a filly tackling males.  She's been placed in some ridiculous spots in her career, including the $100,000 Borderland Derby against the boys in February of 2010.  Her owner even wanted to enter her in the 2010 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but NYRA denied the entry.  Nicky Boy last raced on the fourth of July at Belmont, a maiden special weight in which she finished behind next-out winner Dreamingly (78 Beyer at Saratoga).  A $900 RNA as a yearling, Nicky Boy is in tough.

It's probably too early to give up on #9 DREAMALOT considering the pedigree of this $300,000 New York bred.  A half-brother to Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain, multiple Grade 2 winner Puerto Banus, Grade 3 turf winner Fantastic Spain and multiple stakes-winner Path of Thunder, Dreamalot finished directly ahead of next-out winner Sandyinthesun (71 Beyer in NY-bred maiden special weight at Aqueduct) when seventh on November 20.  He'll face open company for the first time today.

#7 ROYAL CREDIT, a $53,000 yearling that resold for $425,000 last year as a juvenile, makes his turf debut for Amy Tarrant, a trainer that has sent out some big-priced winners following a surface switch.  Still, Royal Credit's sire clicks with only 6% of his first-time grass performers and the placed dam was unraced on turf.  Royal Credit is a half-brother to Nos Bailout, a filly that won her turf debut.

As for HandiGambling, I'll play:

$60 Exacta:  White Hill - Dream Man (1-10)
$30 Exacta:  White Hill - Where's the Baby (1-2)
$10 Exacta:  White Hill - Thomasquito (1-4)

Best of luck to all and Happy Holidays!