03/08/2012 12:19PM

HandiGambling 273 (Gulfstream Allowance)

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Thursday's HandiGambling 273 exercise is the ninth race at Gulfstream Park, an entry-level allowance for four-year-olds and upward at nine furlongs.

REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE, PLEASE CONTACT CSERVICE2@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE AND THEN POST THE NEXT WEEK'S RACE SELECTION DIRECTLY TO THE BLOG.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
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 GIVE YOUR NAME OR BLOG MONIKER AT THE END OF THE HG PLAY AND/OR ANALYSIS.
 
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.

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.

Best of luck to all.

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As of this writing, the track condition is GOOD. 

Let's scratch #3 BELIEVE IN A.P. and #10 DEVON ROCK.

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There are a couple of logical contenders returning from long layoffs at this demanding distance and they're going to have to be cranked tight in order to handle this competitive bunch.  For HG purposes, I'm looking at a longshot with some recent races that should handle the distance.  As for the surface, well...we know he's going to be a big price...

#2 DREAM MAN has some dirt pedigree as he's by Unbridled's Song out of a mare that won three sprints on dirt.  That mare, Dream Time, is a full sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Finder's Fee, a Phipps homebred that won the Matron and Frizette on dirt.  This is the classy female family of Ballerina winner Furlough, and Breeders' Cup Sprint hero Dancing Spree.  It's interesting, and perhaps a bit discouraging, that trainer Bill Mott has yet to try Dream Man on the main track but the colt's style (no early speed, one run from the back) may play better to turf racing.  He will likely be outrun during the opening half-mile, but there may be some pace for him to attack this afternoon with #1 BIRDWAY and #6 EYE ON JACOB eyeballing the early lead. 
Dream Man has had some tricky trips recently on turf.  If, and that's a big if, he can translate his turf form to dirt, he has a puncher's chance at a nice number. 

#7 SELF CONTROL looks like the horse to beat for trainer Chad Brown.  Unraced since finishing in a dead-heat for second with #9 E. H. INDY in a one-turn mile on January 22, Self Control will make his first start around two turns on the main track this afternoon.  He possesses good tactical speed and should find good early position in the second flight or so.  Before we get too excited, however, we must mention that this Lemon Drop Kid homebred has lost five times at odds of 3-1 or less in his career (four times as the favorite).  Thus far, it's been more sizzle than steak for Self Control but there's no denying that his recent numbers are extremely competitive. 

#9 E. H. INDY finished on even terms with SELF CONTROL on January 22 and it could be argued that he had to overcome a more difficult pace scenario.  The leaders of that race waltzed through fractions of 25.20 and 48.39 and E H INDY trailed the field for a half-mile while Self Control was closer to those tepid splits.  The lightly-raced 5-year-old may get a better setup this time around and he is certainly bred to appreciate this added distance (by the great A.P. Indy out of Grade 1 turf winner Auntie Mame).  He missed over a year of racing earlier in his career due to a fractured hind leg, but seems to be back in good form for trainer Angel Penna.  E. H. Indy should be charging hard in the stretch and can't be dismissed. 

#6 EYE ON JACOB is another with a wonderful pedigree (by A.P. Indy out of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Escena) that has been compromised by layoff lines.  He returns to dirt after some low-priced defeats in Southern California and it's possible that he just didn't do his best running over the synthetic out there.  I thought he ran well two back when setting the pace over a closer-friendly Del Mar oval, but he hasn't raced since August, returns at a tough distance and may face early pressure from the rail horse.  It's Pletcher and Velazquez so you know he'll take action at the windows and he faced some good company in his last start (Grade 1 winner Jaycito, triple-digit earner Centralinteligence, etc.).

#4 GALLANT DREAMS hasn't been out since the summer at Saratoga.  He's a well-bred Live Oak Plantation homebred that chased Uncle Mo, Justin Phillip and Adios Charlie in various starts at three.  I wouldn't be surprised if he improves against this competition, but it's not easy to win at nine furlongs off such a long layoff.  The winner of his most recent start returned to finish fifth in the Travers while the runner-up come back to run fourth in the Indiana Derby.

#5 UNBRIDLED KIMANCHI should benefit from his most recent outing, a similar spot at Gulfstream on February 12.  Although he only finished evenly in the stretch, it was his first start of the year and he seems like a long-winded type that would appreciate this added distance.  He must improve from a Beyer standpoint, but continues to train swiftly for Brian Lynch.

#8 BOMBAGUIA's lone career win came on grass and he failed to make up a ton of late ground when finishing ahead of Unbridled Kimanchi on February 12.  He has some tactical speed, but I wonder if we've already seen his best.  With 11 starts already on his card, one must wonder if there is upside left.

#1 BIRDWAY makes his first start around two turns, but draws favorably and certainly has the pedigree to succeed at this route (by Street Cry from the female family of Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone).  He has some early speed, but must avoid a prolonged pace battle with Eye On Jacob.  He handled wet going nicely on February 9, his first start off a long layoff and may be coming to hand for Nick Zito and Julien Leparoux.  He takes a big step up in class and I'm worried about the pace scenario, but there is some talent here.

Selections:
1. Dream Man
2. Self Control
3. E. H. Indy

For HandiGambling purposes, I'll play it like this:

$50 Win-Place - #2 DREAM MAN

Best of luck to all.

***

I've got a plane to catch for the FormBlog convention so I'll give you the following quick-and-dirty weekend picks.

Cicada:  AGAVE KISS, CORDEROSA, ALYDARLA

Gulfstream Park Handicap:  MUCHO MACHO MAN, JACKSON BEND, SOARING STOCKS

Hillsborough:  HOOH WHY, FEDERATION, UNBRIDLED HUMOR

Tampa Bay Derby:  TAKE CHARGE INDY, CAJUN CHARLIE, PROSPECTIVE

Swale:  GOOD MORNING DIVA, EVER SO LUCKY, HELLO PRINCE

San Felipe:  BODEMEISTER, MIDNIGHT TRANSFER, AMERICAN ACT

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More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.