12/29/2011 12:30PM

HandiGambling 264 (Gulfstream turf)

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Thursday's HandiGambling 264 exercise is the fifth race at Gulfstream Park, a starter allowance for fillies and mares at one mile 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 and the temporary rail is out 24 feet.

Let's scratch #2 STARSHIP SURPRISE, #4 RIVER FANCY, #5 ALWAYSACONTEST and #13 POLITICAL MISS.

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For multi-race purposes, I would go two deep with the most emphasis on #3 PEARLICIOUS, a consistent gray filly that has cracked the superfecta in her last 10 starts.  Most recently, Pearlicious set slow fractions in a turf route at Calder, but was just pipped on the wire by favored The West Rim, a filly that returned to finish third against $25,000 starter allowance company on grass at Gulfstream with a career-best 82 Beyer on December 16.  In a race featuring several questionable speed horses, Pearlicious has shown a valuable tendency to rate as she stalked and pounced to a nose victory against similar competition over yielding going on November 4.  I would love to see Juan Leyva put this filly in behind horses going into the first turn while saving ground.  Hopefully, the speeds won't stop in her face and she'll get a clear run when the real racing begins.  The one concern is whether Pearlicious appreciates the Gulfstream turf course.  In her three previous tries over this surface, she only finished ahead of one horse.  From a Beyer Speed Figure perspective, you know what you're going to get with Pearlicious as she consistently hits the 72-79 range.  A similar number can win this.

#8 MORE IS BETTER was reclaimed by Lisa Lewis at Belmont on October 27 and returns to the scene of a conditioned claiming victory over this course and distance on February 13.  She'll stretch back out following three sprints, but seems most comfortable at this distance with all three lifetime victories coming in route events.  She's a speed horse, however, and may face some pressure from several stretchout sprinters in this spot.  Still, she's been facing better competition and the Lewis barn is one of my favorites (a blind wager on all 335 of her starters over the past five years would have produced a flat-bet profit). 

As for the rest:

I'm probably playing with fire by not including #12 FLY ANGEL FLY in my multi-race wagers as the Velazquez-Walder combination is extremely potent and Fly Angel Fly should get a good pace setup.  A winner over this course last year, Fly Angel Fly returns from a 61-180 layoff with a month gap on the worktab.  Walder does excel with similar layoff runners, however, and Fly Angel Fly looms the filly to beat.  Of the seven other horses that returned from Fly Angel Fly's most recent grass start (September 3 at Monmouth), four of them were next-out runner-ups (78 Beyer top).  She fits this condition snugly and should be charging hard in the stretch.

#9 SHE'S GOT BLING stretches out three furlongs after a tough trip against $40,000 claimers at Calder on November 25.  That race snapped a three-start win streak for She's Got Bling, who got hot at Suffolk Downs over the summer and fall.  Given an alert break, She's Got Bling looms one of several possible pacesetters, but she has always had some distance questions attached to her name (she is 0-8 in route races). 

#7 LAKESIDE CHAPEL is an intriguing longshot as she legged up for this with a dirt sprint prep here 28 days ago and was running on at the end of that six-furlong affair.  She is much more comfortable going a route of ground as she won her maiden over this course and distance in 2010.  The possibility of a hot pace up front works to her favor, but she is still only a one-time winner.  Lakeside Chapel should be moving well in the lane and can improve in her second start of the form cycle.  She's certainly usable in exotics.

#14 JALAL seems to be rounding into form for Scooter Dickey as she makes the third start of the cycle.  She tried to rally into moderate fractions when second against similar competition earlier in the meet and the expected quicker splits this afternoon should really aid Jalal's stretch surge.  She must avoid a wide trip from an outside post, but can't be counted out at this level.

#15 LOTSA NOODLES outran her 90-1 odds when fifth here three weeks ago, but she still finished behind Jalal and has yet to crack the superfecta in three tries on grass.  A pace meltdown could work to her advantage, but I wonder if she's more of a late-running sprinter than a true route performer.

#10 GABY Q exits a sprint win over the main track here on December 3, but there are distance and surface questions that she'll have to address.  In three previous starts on turf, she's been beaten a total of 20 1/4 lengths

#16 SACRED DESIRE seems more like a dirt runner as her grass record currently stands at an uninspiring 17-0-1-0 and she's been blanked from seven trips over the local surface.  She didn't do much when finishing behind Jalal and Lotsa Noodles at 96-1 odds three weeks ago and must improve by leaps and bounds in order to upset these.

#11 BON BON may have moved prematurely before tiring to finish third behind Sacred Desire in an $8,000 claimer on dirt at Calder on November 25, but she hasn't won a race since June 11, 2010 and only shows one exacta finish from six previous tries over the Gulfstream sod.  She does show an improved workout in preparation for her third start of the form cycle, but must show a stronger stretch punch.

#6 A GIRL NAMED MARIA had trouble in a conditioned claimer at five furlongs on grass at Calder on November 26, but both of her lifetime wins came sprinting over the Aqueduct inner track and her career-best Beyer of 57 (earned in her career debut on dirt in 2008) won't get it done here.

In two races since being outfitted with blinkers, #1 JAKE'S MAGGIE MAY has failed to finish ahead of another horse.  She'll now stretch out three furlongs while trying turf for the first time.  The sire connects with 11% of his first-time turf runners and the unplaced dam failed to race on the surface, although she has foaled a couple of turf winners.  Jake's Maggie May could be part of the pace picture, but has many questions to answer.

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling:

$100 Win - #3 PEARLICIOUS

Best of luck to all.