09/23/2009 3:28PM

HandiGambling Fairplex

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Today's HandiGambling 151 exercise is the eleventh race from Fairplex, the $50,000 Governor's Cup Handicap for three-year-olds and upward at 6 1/2 furlongs around two turns. 

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.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.  Past performances are available on the previous blog entry.

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.

Let's scratch #1 Screen to Screen and #4 Fire Break

A contentious race with several evenly-matched contenders.  Paul's Hope (#7) and jockey Martin Pedroza teamed up for a win over this course and distance at the 2007 Fairplex meet in a $25,000 'n2L' claimer, and Paul's Hope has certainly blossomed since that race.  He placed in a pair of graded stakes races earlier this year, and may have been ridden too aggressively last time out by Joel Rosario.  Paul's Hope likes to rally from midpack, and Rosario had Paul's Hope pressing Usurp (#5) from the get-go.  Taken out of his element, Paul's Hope understandably lacked the same stretch punch that propelled him to victory two back.  He is reunited with Pedroza, handles the quirky course, shows a bullet workout on September 13, and should get pace to attack late.  He gets the tepid call in a wide-open event.

Usurp (#5) is 0-3 after trainer Ron Ellis told the DRF that he was "kind of funky coming out of a work," but he ran a good race last time out over a closer-friendly track.  He made the lead rather easily, ran a very fast second-quarter while dueling with two other rivals, put both of them away, and was just headed on the line by Big Bad Leroybrown (#1).  He's won at this distance, but you have to demand a good price as he has no form on dirt.

Dance With Gable (#8) loves dirt, and that makes him a danger in this spot.  He pressed a sub 43 half-mile last time out at Sacramento while in a tight spot on the rail entering the turn, but he looked a winner every step of the way against a pretty good field.  The runner-up of that race, Bamaha Breeze, is a stakes-winner on turf at Hollywood while fourth-place finisher Tribesman was coming off a four-race win streak.  I am a bit concerned about the slight stretchout in distance, however, and I'm also curious how he'll handle this two-turn sprint.  He should be a forward factor, and must be respected.

Lit'sgoodlookngray (#3) looks like a fascinating longshot.  He won his maiden over this track and trip in 2006, placed in the Foothill Stakes here in 2007, and finished a good third behind Talkin to Mom Roo at Fairplex last year.  His last race was solid when you consider it was his first start since February, and he was in it until inside the eighth pole.  He'll make his first start off the Hess claim, shows a bullet workout five days ago, and can certainly move forward in his second race back while returning to a track he likes. 

A Lil Dumaani (#6) has some speed, and that should help him out here, but he has no form on dirt.  I wasn't too impressed with his defeat as the favorite at this distance over Hollywood's cushion track on May 16.  It will be interesting to see how Martin Garcia rides this gelding.  Does he gun for early position, and risk an early duel with Dance With Gable, or does he sit back just a bit?

Big Bad Leroybrown (#2) took advantage of some closer-friendly racing days at Del Mar before being put in a no-win situation against Zensational in the Triple Bend last time out.  He placed in the Pomona Derby here in 2007 in his only start on dirt, and he should save valuable ground under David Flores.  A fast pace would work to his benefit, but I'm not sure he's as good as his form makes him look.

Here's the play:

$50 Exacta - Paul's Hope - Usurp (7-5)
$30 Exacta - Paul's Hope - Dance With Gable (7-8)
$20 Exacta - Paul's Hope - Lit'sgoodlookngray (7-3)

Best of luck!

Be back to answer questions and comments next time.

Take care,

Dan