01/25/2013 4:11PM

HandiGambling Gulfstream Turf

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This week's HandiGambling exercise is the ninth race at Gulfstream, an entry-level allowance for older runners at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf.

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 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 turf course is listed as FIRM.

Let's scratch #5 CHOSEN HEIR and #9 SMALL TANK. 

The temporary rail will be set at 24 feet.

If you take the short comment from #3 RAPACIOUS' last race, you're missing the whole picture.  Making his first start in almost two months, Rapacious broke poorly from the far outside post and was taken to the back of the pack along the inside.  Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. had an opportunity to angle wide turning for home, but opted to keep Rapacious inside and the colt was blocked for the majority of the stretch run while switching leads several times.  When Rapacious finally found a seam in late stretch, he exploded between rivals, but it was too late and he missed by a head.  It was a difficult trip for a lightly-raced runner and he is expected to improve in his second start of the form cycle (trainer Rusty Arnold boasts a $2.33 ROI over the past five years on grass with horses going second off a 45+ day layoff). This distance may be a bit short for Rapacious and there isn't a ton of early pace to aid his late kick, but a repeat of his most recent race should make him awfully tough here.

#8 VAN CITRA has improved since being claimed by trainer Dubis Chaparro on August 23.  He set the pace in that Rapacious race at Gulfstream last month and held gamely until the final half-furlong.  He should appreciate turning back in distance and projects as a strong front-runner in a race lacking much early foot.  Note that Chaparro is only 1-50 over the past two years with turf performers, but Van Citra should be a nice price and could be aided by slow splits.

#10 LEMON VIEW drew a tough outside post, but the veteran has cracked the exacta in 11 of 23 starts and returns to grass following some bang-up performances over the Woodbine polytrack.  Trainer Katerina Vassilieva sent out three winners at last year's Gulfstream meeting (all ridden by Luis Contreras, two in turf sprints, all winners shipping from Woodbine) and Lemon View has run a few races close to today's Beyer par of 89.

Not only did #1 BIG BLUE SPIRIT defeat Rapacious in a maiden heat at Keeneland on October 12, but the promising runner-up of that race returned to graduate with a 78 Beyer at Churchill while the eleventh-finisher came back to take two in a row on dirt at Mountaineer Park.  Never off the board from six starts, Big Blue Spirit has the tactical speed to work out an excellent pace-tracking, ground-saving trip under Jesus Castanon.  What is concerning is that he doesn't show a published workout in over a month and that trainer Darrin Miller is 1-32 over the past five years with last-out maiden winners.

It's a bit surprising that #6 IN THE BEAT has been kept at shorter distances as he is by a Kentucky Derby winner out of a mare by a Kentucky Derby winner.  Both of his route starts can be excused as he faced quality rivals like Discreet Dancer, Neck 'n Neck, El Padrino and Take Charge Indy in those efforts.  Although winless from two tries on turf, he faced a pair of good sprinters in Go Blue Or Go Home (3-5 lifetime) on November 8 at Churchill and Hold On Smokey (14-44 lifetime, has won four of last five starts) last time out at Tampa Bay Downs.  He can be forwardly placed under Alan Garcia and looms an interesting exotics prospect at good odds.

#2 GAELICO has burned money at 3-1 odds or less in his last two races when late to make his final lead change and he had a much-easier trip than Rapacious when finishing behind that rival on December 28.  His best attribute is his tactical speed as he can be up close to the expected moderate pace. 

#4 SHAKESPEARE'S BREW was considered a promising two-year-old in Canada, but minor injuries limited him to only one start as a juvenile and five races at three.  He finished behind Lemon View most recently at Woodbine, but has more upside than that foe and should appreciate getting back to the grass.  He boasts a trainer switch to Chad Brown and that should knock his odds down a point or two as the high-profile Brown barn usually gets a ton of attention at the windows.  Over the past five years, Brown is 4-6 with horses making their first start under his care on turf following 31-60 day layoffs.  Don't be surprised if this colt runs well.

#7 JAMIE'S BOY gets some class relief after chasing decent allowance types on dirt and will make the third start of the form cycle for an underrated trainer.  Still, his lone turf start wasn't very good and he isn't really bred for the surface.  He'll need to greatly improve in order to make his presence felt.

The goal is to key Rapacious, who figures to take money off that tough trip, over some longer-priced horses.  I realize that I could be burned by leaving lower-odds performers like Shakespeare's Brew and Gaelico off my tickets...

Here's how I'll HandiGamble:

$60 EXACTA:  Rapacious/Lemon View (3-10)
$30 EXACTA:  Rapacious/Van Citra (3-8)
$10 EXACTA:  Rapacious/Big Blue Spirit (3/1)

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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Best of luck to all of our FormBlog participants in this year's National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas!!!