02/01/2013 3:58PM

HandiGambling GP Turf Sprint

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This week's HandiGambling exercise is the ninth race at Gulfstream, an entry-level optional claimer for older runners at five furlongs on turf.

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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 turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #1 MEMPHISLIVESINME, #2 WICKED TUNE, #10 DON'T PUT IT BACK. 

#11 GIBSON will be ridden by Jesus Castanon

#14 DOGWOODS LANCE will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr.

The temporary rail is set at 96 feet.

Can #12 ARI'S PRIDE make the lead this afternoon?  If not, can he win from off the pace?  Those are two questions I've been debating since this race was drawn.  All three of Ari's Pride's lifetime victories have come in gate-to-wire fashion and there seems to be a plethora of speed runners in this heat.  But in his most recent start, a similar event at Gulfstream on January 10, Ari's Pride made some late noise after being forced to rally widest turning for home.  He was claimed out of that race by Rudy Rodriguez, who haltered Tahoe Warrior for 20K in 2010 and immediately won the $100,000 Turf Sprint Handicap at Calder.  For this owner, Rodriguez is 9-30 (30%, $2.01 ROI) over the past five years with newly-claimed runners.

#11 GIBSON is a stakes-winner on dirt that has run some quick turf sprints in his day.  He figures to be forwardly-placed, but I didn't love his most recent effort, a straight $25,000 claimer in which he was the beaten favorite.  He prompted the early leader from the two path and just couldn't get by that one, hopping back to his left lead when tired in the late stretch.  Trainer Angel Quiroz is 4-18 (22%, $2.53 ROI) over the past five years with newly-claimed runners for this owner.  We'll see if Quiroz can improve him from Michael Maker.

#13 STARSHIP WILDCAT has all the upside potential and he took to turf like a duck to water when graduting here on January 16.  He displayed high early speed in that maiden spot, but he didn't seem to beat much in that race (the third-finisher and beaten favorite is now 0-9 with seven runner-up performances) and could be hung out to dry while contesting the early pace.

#7 STRIKE THE TIGER won the first three starts of his career at two, including the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he's settled in at the $25,000 claiming level.  He failed to parlay a ground-saving trip into a top three finish in his most recent start, but should appreciate turning back in distance and getting some pace to attack.  He's hard to dismiss at what could be underlaid odds.

#4 DON'T SAY NO ran down some of these horses in his most recent effort and was claimed out of the race by the Ramseys and Michael Maker (owner/trainer combination is 68-232, 29%, $1.90 ROI off the claim over the past five years).  I usually prefer to see a Maker-trained runner with a recent five-furlong workout instead of the shorter breezes that Don't Say No displays, but he's an in-form gelding that likes to win and should get enough zip to adequately set up his rally.

#8 FOREST STATION won his turf debut at astronomical odds and will take a substantial class hike this afternoon (the last race was for 'n2L' claimers). A lightly-raced 5-year-old, it appears that he has found his proper surface, but seems like another pace factor in a race jammed with speed.  I want to see him do it again before I jump on the bandwagon.

#9 STARSHIP SULU gave a gritty performance when second at 19-1 odds here on December 28.  He was pressured every step of the way by Gibson, refused to let that one by and was only run down in the very late stages by Don't Say No.  He seems to be improving for trainer Jose Pinchin, but has been beaten by Ari's Pride on a couple of occasions and may be best utilized on the bottom of exotic wagers. 

#6 THE CHILL ZONE finished ahead of three of these rivals at 38-1 odds on January 10, but he got away with moderate fractions on the front end.  He may have to go faster in the early portion of this race.

#5 SOUTHPAW SLAMMER hasn't raced since August and his odds figure to be depressed considering his excellent connections.  He shaded 1:08 for six furlongs in his turf debut last summer and wasn't disgraced in his lone start against winners as Saratoga.  Trainer Chad Brown is one of the best in the country, but Southpaw Slammer is another speed horse and he'll have to overcome a layoff as well.

Both of #3 INDIRECTLY A.P.'s lifetime wins came on wet dirt and he could be buried down inside in the early portion of this race.  This spot could be a bit too tough.

#14 DOGWOODS LANCE goes out for extremely dangerous connections, but hasn't been out this year and is mired way outside.  All three of his victories have come when on the lead.

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:

$70 WIN - ARI'S PRIDE (12)
$10 EXACTA - GIBSON/ARI'S PRIDE (10-12)
$10 EXACTA - STRIKE THE TIGER/ARI'S PRIDE (7-12)
$10 EXACTA - DON'T SAY NO/ARI'S PRIDE (4/12)

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. 

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

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