10/19/2012 1:46PM

HandiGambling the Valley View (first division)

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This week's HandiGambling exercise is the seventh race at Keeneland, the first division of the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

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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.

Best of luck to all.

***

The turf course is currently listed as "FIRM."

Let's change the rider for #6 COLONIAL FLAG to Shaun Bridgmohan.


I landed on #5 MEDOLINA, a Todd Pletcher-trained filly that was second-best to Pianist in the $85,000 Given Stakes at Belmont on September 20.  Pianist is a very promising horse and will be the favorite in today's second divsion and Medolina may not be facing any fillies of that one's caliber in this spot.  Medolina has kept company with the good fillies Stephanie's Kitten and Centre Court earlier this summer and she may work out a nice pace-tracking trip off what projects to be a moderate pace.  She's 4-1 and the morning line favorite and I have some concern that she'll get bet so I may have to concentrate on using her in exotics and multi-race wagers.

One of the intriguing longshots that I'm interested in using is #11 RUN A RISK, a filly that took on a pair of hot horses in Dayatthespa (returned to win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with a 92 Beyer and has now won five in a row) and Peace Preserver (came back to win the $150,000 Pebbles Stakes at Belmont with a 96 Beyer) when fourth in the $100,000 Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga on August 31.  Run a Risk won over this course during the spring meet.  She must improve a bit against this group, but I think there's some upside potential.

#10 COSMIC ENERGY steps up in extremely sharp form for trainer Tim Hills.  She's won three in a row, but got away with an easy pace in her most recent start.  While the pace is unlikely to be warp speed today, I'm not sure Cosmic Energy will get the same easy trip.  It is heartening that she has shown the ability to sit just off the leaders, however, and she should be in contention when the field swings into the stretch.  We'll find out how good she is this afternoon, but she is certainly moving in the right direction. 

#6 COLONIAL FLAG, Mike Beer's top selection on our "Race of the Day" video feature on the home page, has caught the eye of the Keeneland clockers during her recent morning drills.  According to the excellent "Keeneland Clocker Report" on www.keeneland.com, Colonial Flag gave a "good energetic finish, held a slight edge on Fantastic Song" during her October 6 move.  A week later, she "came to the line under a good hold, a little better than Welcome Dance."  Fantastic Song is Grade 3-placed on grass for trainer Michael Matz with an 85 Beyer top while Welcome Dance looms the speed of the second division.  I didn't like the way Colonial Flag hopped back to her wrong lead during the stretch drive of the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen Stakes on August 25, but she's run some very good races on the turf and fits this race like a glove.

#1 CLOSING RANGE hasn't done anything wrong with three wins and a second on her record and she has enough early speed to find an excellent position going into the first turn.  She's getting tested for class here and was able to parlay an easy lead into a stakes victory at Monmouth last time out.  She's lightly-raced with upside, may get a good trip and is sharp.  At double-digit odds, I wouldn't toss her out of the mix.

#2 VOLCAT also has good tactical speed and will go second off the layoff for trainer Ken McPeek.  She showed her ability by taking the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks over "yielding" ground on July 21 and was flattered when three of her vanquished foes from that race returned to immediately win.  Volcat ran well in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes on September 15 and I wouldn't argue with anyone that wants to use her at good odds.

#9 MISS CATO finished ahead of several of today's rivals when second in the Pucker Up at Arlington.  She's obviously in good form, but may need a bit of help up front to properly wind up her late kick.  She's yet another in this contentious heat that can win.  It will be interesting to see what price she ends up being.

#8 ANGEL TERRACE gave a "very strong finish, last quarter in 23 seconds," according to the "Keeneland Clocker Report" for October 8.  She has yet to win on turf, but came with a good late run in her most recent appearance at Saratoga.  She's in the right hands, but needs a bit of improvement against this tougher bunch.

#3 ZAPPER BELLE failed to make an impact in the Pucker Up and may be a notch below the top contenders in this race.  Winless on turf, she has the tactical speed to stay close to the pace.

#7 ANN OF THE DANCE hasn't won in over a year and is winless from seven turf tries.  She's a one-run closer that may not get enough pace to attack in the stretch.

While #4 NAYARRA hasn't run big numbers in North America, she beat boys in the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Italy last year and may have been compromised by circumstances in her three stateside races.  She may not have stayed the ten furlongs in the Grade 1 American Oaks against the very good Lady of Shamrock and caught wet courses in her last two races.  She doesn't win often, but isn't out of this on her very best.

#12 ALAURA MICHELE drew a terrible outside post position for trainer Bill Mott.  I thought she received a perfect trip three back when third in the Riskaverse Stakes and she may be forced wide going into the first turn this afternoon.

Here's how I'll play HandiGambling:

$30 Exacta: Medolina - Run a Risk (5-11)
$30 Exacta: Medolina - Cosmic Energy (5-10)
$30 Exacta: Medolina - Colonial Flag (5-6)
$10 Exacta: Medolina - Closing Range (5-1)

Best of luck to all.

***

The weekend handicapping videos should be up on the site by this evening.  Here's a quick preview of the action:

...Looking for LUNAR VICTORY and SARATOGA SNACKS to put on a good show in the Empire Classic at Belmont.  The former may work out a good stalking trip while in the clear and may be a bit more effective at nine furlongs...VIA VILLAGIO drops in class, turns back in distance and should get plenty of pace to attack in the Raven Run at Keeneland.  SACRISTY is one of the intresting price horses in that bulky field..Not sure what will happen in the five-horse stake at Santa Anita on Sunday, but will be rooting for veteran TRES BORRACHOS to work out a nice trip from his inside post....

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