06/15/2012 3:59PM

HandiGambling 286 (Lyphard Stakes)

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This week's HandiGambling 286 exercise is Friday's fourth race at Penn National, the $75,000 Lyphard Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE. 

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PREVIOUS 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.

***

As of this writing, the turf course is FIRM.

Let's scratch #2 SIXTH AND ARCH, #11 DRAMATICA and #12 GOLDEN EXPRESS.

#5 SKY WILLOW showed several gears in her recent 'n1x' optional claiming score at Delaware on May 30.  She saved ground in midpack before shooting the gap on the backstretch to find the pocket entering the far turn.  For a second or two, she was bottled up in behind horses, but regained her momentum to swing three wide in upper stretch.  Once she got going in the straight, she was too much for her opponents.  A lightly-raced daughter of Empire Maker trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, she was the recipient of a clean trip that day, but was flattered somewhat when the runner-up returned to Beyer 84 when second against males in a grassy $35,000 claimer at Delaware.  I'm expecting an improved effort for her second start of the form cycle.

#9 ASK ME ANYTHING showed no rust when returning from an eight-month layoff in an 'n3x' optional claimer at Parx on June 5.  Eager in the early portion of the race, the 5-year-old mare took over turning for home and prevailed over favored stakes-winner In the Slips despite failing to switch leads in the stretch.  That was a career-best performance for Ask Me Anything and one must wonder if she will be susceptible to a regression as she returns only 10 days after that effort. 

#8 ROSALITA'S WISH wheels back on only five days rest after putting up a lifetime-best Beyer Speed Figure in a $25,000 starter allowance at Parx on June 10.  She was able to control an easy tempo that afternoon and may find herself in control of the fractions once again in the Lyphard.  Rosalita's Wish owns a victory over this course and projects to be prominent when the real running begins.  If she can avoid a "bounce" on the quick turnback, she has a chance to steal this thing.

#7 LITTLE OFTEN ANNI has chased some solid runners in New York and Maryland in her three races this season and she has run some races that are certainly good enough to upend these.  A late-kicker, the 6-year-old will need some pace and race luck if she is to successfully charge from the back of the pack. 

#4 NEO'S GRAND FINALE has yet to win on turf, but she's been far from disgraced in her three races on this surface.  She finished behind Little Often Annie in her most recent start, but goes out for a barn that excels at Penn National.  Neo's Grand Finale has some tactical speed and may attempt to race close to the pace.  She's a solid campaigner and offers some value at 12-1 on the morning line.

Perhaps #3 LENAPE RIM, a stretchout sprinter making her turf debut, will force the pace.  Her sire won twice on the grass in England and is 1-11 (9%) with his first-time turf performers.  The dam went 0-1 on grass and has foaled 1 turf winner from 2 sod starters.  In Lenape Rim's lone route effort to date, she finished ahead of two next-out winners when running second in the Malvern Rose Stakes over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.  Last time out, in her first start of 2012, Lenape Rim had the misfortune to chase Lady of Greatness, a Midwest Thoroughbred-owned, Jamie Ness-trained mare that has now won four of her last five races.  There are some angles here to consider.

#1 PARVENU makes the third start of the form cycle for the red-hot John Servis and draws a cozy inside post position for this two-turn test.  This will be her route debut, however, and she was no match for Ask Me Anything when they met at Parx 10 days ago.

#10 DIVA'S GOLD also goes third off the bench, but her two prior turf races are nothing to write home about and she's stuck on the far outside.  A multiple stakes-placed performer on dirt, Diva's Gold is eligible to show some speed in this spot, but her staying power on grass is suspect.

#6 WEEPER is 2-2 over the local strip and can be forgiven her recent loss - her first start following a layoff of over a year - in a tough spot at Pimlico.  She is eligible to show more speed in this spot, but she must prove that she's the same horse that she was pre-layoff.

For HandiGambling, I'll play:

$100 WIN - SKY WILLOW (#5)

Best of luck to all.