01/04/2013 3:38PM

HandiGambling (Cal-bred Optional Claimers)

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This week's HandiGambling exercise is the sixth race at Santa Anita, an entry-level optional claimer ($25,000) for statebred or sired fillies and mares at six furlongs.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PREVIOUS BLOG POST.

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IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE NEXT WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE SEND YOUR RACE SELECTION TO FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN TUESDAY EVENING.

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 DIRECTLY 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.

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As of this writing, the main track is listed as FAST.

Let's scratch #1 METAXA

Even if you toss out the 97 Beyer that #4 TWELVE FOLDS received over this track on January 8, 2012, a number that seems like an anomaly, you'll notice that she seems to do her best running on dirt and may relax more in the early portion of this race with the removal of blinkers.  There does appear to be a good amount of speed in here so it is important that Twelve Folds can rate just a bit and she did come from off the pace to finish second over this surface two back.  Trainer Mike Machowsky is 0-25 over the past year with horses going second off a 45+ day layoff, and Twelve Folds is still eligible for an 'n2L' condition, but Twelve Folds shows a quick recent workout and switches to Rafael Bejarano.  She gets the tepid nod in a very competitive race.

#5 TRAPPER'S BOUNTY offers good value at 10-1 on the morning line.  A seven-time winner, Trapper's Bounty may show better focus with the addition of blinkers (she has two wins with blinkers in his career) and may have been compromised by circumstances in her last two appearances.  On November 22, she attempted to rally over an intensely speed-favoring track.  Last time out, Trapper's Bounty broke awkwardly and rushed up to prompt the pace over a cushion track that may have slightly favored closers.  Trapper's Bounty has decent back numbers on dirt and the ability to rate in a race filled with speed.  She has a bad habit of tossing her head at the break and has suffered from chronic back problems throughout her career, but seems like a good fit at this level and figures in the picture with a patient ride. 

#6 CHURCH AVENUE is very sharp (has won two of last three) and likes to win (10 of 28), but I do wonder if she'll be an underlay in the win pool.  She has never won on dirt, faces more pace competition in this spot, and took advantage of a speed-favoring track at Betfair Hollywood on November 22.  Of the six cushion track events that day, all were won by horses that either raced on the lead or were within a length of the leader at the pace call.  Church Avenue certainly has enough form to win this race, but I'd prefer to use her on the bottom of exotic wagers. 

Don't count out #10 MY BRITE CAROLINE.  She does her best running on this track, drops to the level of her last victory, and makes the third start of the form cycle after a fifth-place finish in a key race (three horses came back to score, including the winner with an 85 Beyer in an open 'n2x' optional claimer). My Brite Caroline can rally from off the pace, should get pace to attack and has price potential for a low-profile trainer.

#7 PROMISCUOUSSUANCES may be the speed of the speed for Doug O'Neill, but this will be her first start on dirt and it's possible that she's more of a grass filly.  She went gate-to-wire in her first start with blinkers on December 6, but got away with murder on the front end (set fractions of 23.93 and 47.22 in a six-furlong sprint) and just held on at the wire (the fourth-place finisher returned to run second, by a nose, in a $32,000 claimer on turf at Santa Anita with a 78 Beyer). It looks like there's more pace and class in this spot.

#8 MISS REDITORE hasn't won on dirt, but wasn't disgraced over this surface when second for a $40,000 tag on April 6.  Julien Leparoux is a very patient rider and figures to have Miss Reditore reserved off the expected fast pace.  The gray mare hasn't won since 2010, however, and finished behind a couple of these last time out.

#12 SHEZABIGBROAD is a perfect 2-2 on dirt (both wins at Santa Anita) so it's somewhat baffling that she's spent the majority of her career toiling on turf.  She's a true closer and should benefit from a good pace up front.  Also, she figures tighter for her second start following a short layoff.  Shezabigbroad looms a solid price and wouldn't be a surprise in the slightest.

#3 SUDDEN SUNDAY seeks her third straight victory, but this will be her first start on dirt and both of her victories have come around two turns.  The runner-up from that most recent start returned to finish second in a $40,000 starter allowance with a 68 Beyer.  Sudden Sunday picks up Garrett Gomez and should revert to late-running tactics in this spot.  She's lightly-raced with some upside, but tackles tougher. Note that trainer Steven Miyadi is 5-13 (38%, $3.04 ROI) over the past five years with last-out winners going route to sprint.

#2 LIA JULIANA rallied from off the pace to defeat $16,000 claimers over the cushion track on December 16.  She broke awkwardly from the inside in her lone start on dirt and is saddled with the rail post once more this afternoon.  This is a big class hike and she'll have to work out a trip from the rail.  Trainer Steve Knapp has a $2.15 ROI from 121 starts with last-out winners.

#11 SUANCES FLOWER owns a win sprinting over the dirt at Santa Anita, but hasn't raced since April and may need a start.  A 6-year-old mare with only eight starts, she's obviously had her share of physical problems and hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in her last four races.  She kept good company during that span as Sean S., the winner on February 10, was in the midst of a four-race win streak while the April 8 winner is now multiple stakes-placed. Trainer Darrell Vienna is 7-45 (16%, $2.35 ROI) over the past five years with horses returning from similar long layoffs.

#9 LUXURIANCE, an Arizona-bred sired by Golden State stallion In Excess, hasn't done anything wrong from two grass starts to date.  She's a half-sister to a five-time dirt winner and defeated two of these in her most recent outing on December 9.  If she can kick on the main track, she is certainly not without a chance.

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:

$40 WIN: TWELVE FOLDS (4)
$20 EXACTA BOX: TWELVE FOLDS - TRAPPER'S BOUNTY (4-5)
$10 EXACTA: TWELVE FOLDS - CHURCH AVENUE (4-6)
$10 EXACTA: TWELVE FOLDS - MY BRITE CAROLINE (4-10)

Best of luck to all.

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The handicapping videos for this weekend's major stakes races should be up on the site late this afternoon.  Here's a very quick preview:

...COIL makes the final start of his career in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes and may get a good setup.  A Grade 1 winner at six furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. Coil had a tough trip over a speed-biased racetrack in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and then faced two very tough runners (Stay Thirsty and Groupie Doll) in the Cigar Mile.  ULTIMATE EAGLE figures to be sharper for his second start following the layoff, but may face some company up front from Coil's uncoupled stablemates, HOORAYFORHOLLYWOOD and BANK THE EIGHT.  With TRES BORRACHOS and KEY DECISION also in the lineup, the pace should be honest and that should really help Coil's chances...COCONUT SHRIMP brings an interesting pedigree to the party in the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct.  She's by Giant's Causeway so it isn't a surprise that she's competed exclusively on the grass.  Still, her dam is a full sister to Haskell winner Any Given Saturday and a half-sibling to Grade 3 dirt winner Bohemian Lady and she figures to offer a decent price for Todd Pletcher and Ramon Dominguez...

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