08/19/2011 3:31PM

HandiGambling Sandy Blue


Tonight's HandiGambling 247 exercise is the fifth race from Del Mar, the Sandy Blue Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf.

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 separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers instead of the names of the horses.
Past performances are available at the previous blog post.
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.


The turf course is listed as FIRM.


Today's Sandy Blue Handicap is the "Race of the Day" on drf.com (http://www.drf.com/#rod).

When Mike Beer and I originally handicapped this race, we were pre-scratches and it looks like the defections may help the morning line favorite, #2 MIZDIRECTION.  At first, the Sandy Blue looked to have a little bit of pace to keep Mizdirection company up front.  With So Belle and Skipton Creek out, however, the chalk may have the lead to herself (unless #8 DOS LUNAS goes back to her old pacesetting ways). 

Still, I'm going to stick with my original selection, #5 GREAT HOT.  Bred in Brazil, she won her first start in her native country before being sent to trainer A. C. Avila in Southern California.  She benefitted from a quick pace up front to win her Northern Hemisphere debut, but got sick after that optional claiming heat and missed some time.  Leading up to her most recent effort, her initial turf and route outing in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on July 24, Great Hot reportedly outworked an older male stablemate, the accomplished turf runner Imponente Purse.  In the San Clemente, Great Hot chased Mizdirection from the outset, but may have felt the effects of her layoff when tiring in the stretch.  She could be sharper for her second start back and it just seems too early to give up on this promising filly off one loss.  It's quite possible that she's better sprinting on the main track, but Great Hot may be a square price and has the tactical speed to work out a stalking trip. 

As I mentioned in the video, I'm a big fan of #4 ELVIES LANE, but think she may be better at shorter distances on synthetic surfaces.  I really liked her runner-up performance to the sharp Logical Single to kick off her sophomore season and she ran okay in a virtual match race against the speedy Ellafitz two starts back on cushion track.  I picked her last time, in an 'n2x' optional claimer on polytrack, and she made a strong wide bid on the far turn before packing it in late.  I'll kick myself if she beats me today, but I may wait until she cuts back in trip.

#2 MIZDIRECTION is the filly to beat as she hasn't run a bad race in her career, is already Grade 2-placed, finished ahead of Great Hot last time out and could be the controlling speed nearest the rail.  She won her maiden very easily despite being late to switch leads and had trouble in her stakes debut two back in the Manhattan Beach.  The concern I have with Mizdirection is the distance.  I wonder if she's better sprinting and I'm not going to take a short price to find out.  Will I use her in multi-race wagers?  Of course, I’m not going to let, arguably, the best horse beat me.  But, for HandiGambling purposes, she seems like an underlay.

#7 BAUBLE QUEEN is an interesting alternative to the favorite as she has already won routing on the grass.  It looks like she's put it together in her last two races, but the chart-caller noted that she "returned to be unsaddled bleeding from the mouth" after her recent win at Del Mar.  She may be a tad hard to rate and will be taking a pretty big step up in class, but looks to have plenty of upside potential and wouldn't be a surprise in the slightest. 

I'm bearish on the other three.

#11 DYNAMO showed off a strong late kick to win her maiden two back at Hollywood Park, but her penchant for bad breaks cost her in her first try against winners at Del Mar on July 24.  Dynamo has some ability, but it will be hard for her to spot ground and still win against the likes of Mizdirection and company. 

#8 DOS LUNAS, a speedster earlier in her career, rated kindly en route to an entry-level allowance score on the Churchill Downs green on July 2.  That race was flattered somewhat when the runner-up returned to score at Ellis Park with a 79 Beyer.  I've never really been a big fan of Dos Lunas, but perhaps she's a bit better now that she's learned to settle in the early portion of the race. 

#10 FIFTH COMMANDMENT chased Mizdirection in vain in the San Clemente.  Perhaps she "bounced" in her second start in this country, but she's finished behind the chalk in both North American starts and must improve in order to upset this field.

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling:

$50 Win-Place - Great Hot (5)

Best of luck to all.