02/02/2012 1:38PM

HandiGambling 269 (Gulfstream Maiden Claiming)


Thursday's HandiGambling 269 exercise is the eighth race at Gulfstream Park, a $50,000 maiden claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs for 3-year-old fillies.

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.


The track is FAST.



I don't really have a very strong handle on this race and won't be playing it with real money.  For HandiGambling, I narrowed it down to four main contenders.

#6 SO VOGUE is a first-time starter by Seeking the Best, a graded winner on dirt in Japan (more of a sprinter/miler type) that is 1-18 with debut runners.  The unraced dam has foaled one winner (on turf) from one prior starter and is a half-sister to Grade 2-placed sprinter Mike's Classic and Grade 1 sprint winner Dublin.  The second dam, Classy Mirage, won the prestigious Ballerina Stakes (G1) sprinting at Saratoga.  So Vogue's trainer, Kirk Ziadie, clicks at a high rate, but isn't known for his prowess with first-time starters (0-8 over the past two years; 10-52, 19%, $1.83 ROI over the past five years).  The thing that caught my eye with So Vogue was her gate workout on January 7 at Calder.  Also working five furlongs in 1:04 that morning was Ziadie's Truly Distinctive, a 4-year-old colt that won a $10,000 'n3L' claimer under jockey Maynor Lopez five days later with a career-best 77 Beyer Speed Figure.  So Vogue is certainly a stab play, but I'll give her shot in a race that I found very difficult to handicap.

#1 CASALINGA earned solid Moss Pace Figures (92 to first call) in her debut run on January 6, but she failed to put away 61-1 debutante Legalized and let that one come back to beat her by a half-length.  The only horse to return from that race to run next-out on dirt was Starship Made It, who graduated for $12,500 at Tampa Bay Downs with a 55 Beyer.  Casalinga has high speed, but will have to deal with #2 DONATE to her inside and is stepping up in class.  Also, her rider, Jose Lopez, has won with only one of his last 94 mounts in North America.  We'll know Casalinga early and she should be a strong factor if she runs back to her debut Beyer of 69.  Her dam, the multiple sprint winner Never Out, placed in the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. 

#8 STARSHIP SABRINA, a $30,000 buyback as a yearling and a $47,000 buyback as a juvenile, may benefit most if Casalinga and Donate hook up in the early going.  In her first start for a tag, Starship Sabrina outfinished a tiring Donate when second on New Year's Day (that race produced next-out winner Wild Country Song, who scored for $25,000 at Gulfstream with a 65 Beyer).  She boasts competitive Beyers and should be charging in the stretch for trainer Steve Dwoskin.  Count her out at your own risk.

When #2 DONATE breaks well, she is very fast out of the gate as evidenced by the 100 Moss Pace Rating for the first call of her debut last year at Churchill Downs.  She also broke sharply two starts back, but couldn't fend off the late rally of Starship Sabrina.  We know Donate is quick, but she hasn't shown much stamina to date, losing ground from the stretch call to the wire in all of her starts.  She is a half-sister to stakes-winning sprinter One Star, a filly that won the OBS Sprint over safetrack footing.

As for the others:

#9 GREAT CHANCE, out of juvenile stakes-winning sprinter Marsheslew (won the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes going six furlongs at River Downs), adds blinkers after chasing the pace in her career debut.  A $28,000 summer yearling buyback that sold for $4,000 that October, She'll have to improve about five lengths on Starship Sabrina in order to win this for trainer Jose Pinchin.

#5 EMMA'S ENCORE is a half-sister to stakes-placed juvenile Bertha Jo (6-37, 112K, ran third in the $118,000 Barretts Debutante going 6 1/2 furlongs at Fairplex).  She'll make her first start for the legendary Allen Jerkens after missing the break against maiden special weights at Keeneland (a race that produced next-out turf winner Callmenancy; 69 Beyer).  Her only start on dirt was against recent stakes-winner Devious Intent so she should certainly appreciate the class relief presented to her today.

#10 WHY SHOULD I has some angles in her corner as she drops in for a claiming tag for the first time while also utilizing the turf-to-dirt move.  That maiden race on dirt didn't produce much, however, as all five of the horses that returned to race finished off the board in their next outings.  Why Should I must avoid being hung out wide with a short run to the turn.

#7 UNION BOSS is by Dixie Union (48-432, 11% with debut runners) out of the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Capitol View (12-41, 447K), a mare that has foaled three winners from as many starters.  There is an 18-day gap in the work tab and the barn is 0-21 with debut runners over the past four years.  Union Boss sold for $160,000 as a yearling, was bought back for $145,000 in March of 2011 and was purchased for $50,000 last May. 

#11 COSMIC ENERGY, a $22,000 yearling, is by Grade 2 route winner Unbridled Energy (3-68, 4% with debut runners) out of sprint winner Cosmic Secrets (3-52, 55K).  The dam has foaled three winners from four runners and is a half-sister to Grade 3 route winner Wildly Special.  Trainer Tim Hills is 0-23 over the past year with debut runners.

#12 MS. TIZNOW is by Tiznow (38-446, 9% with debut runners) out of sprint winner St Ballado's Image (1-10, 31K), a mare that has foaled no winners from two runners, but is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Halo's Image.  The workouts fail to jump off the page and she'll have to overcome the far outside post.

Here's my HandiGambling stab:

$50 Win-Place - #6 SO VOGUE

Best of luck to all.