12/23/2009 2:23PM

HG 165 (Turf Paradise)

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This week's HandiGambling 165 exercise is the sixth race from Turf Paradise, an allowance race for non-winners of three races lifetime at six furlongs on the main track. 

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.

I landed on three top contenders that I would use in multi-race wagers.  For the HandiGambling, I don't think I'm going to get too clever.

I wonder if Such a Shame (#6) is simply better than these.  He was competitive in maiden races in Southern California, but has really come into his own at Turf Paradise with a pair of runaway victories.  Last time out, he came within two-fifths of the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs and two horses came out of that race to win. 
There may be a reason to tread lightly with Such a Shame, however.  He was listed as a vet scratch on December 5, and may face some pace pressure in this spot.

What does one do with Clean Hit (#4)?  After winning his first two starts as a juvenile, it looked like this Arizona-bred was on his way to bigger and better things.  No less than four of the rivals he beat in the Arizona Breeders' Futurity returned to win including runner-up Hidden Bounty, a stakes-winner in each of his next two races by a combined 13 3/4 lengths.  But Clean Hit hasn't raced since that start on November 29, 2008, and one has to assume that the gelding has suffered from physical problems.  Will he be ready to fire fresh?  What price does one take on this kind of horse?  Both fascinating questions.

Trip the General (#7) may benefit from a hot pace up front, and has successfully utilized the route to sprint move in the past.  Unfortunately, that win was his last - on April 27, 2008 - and he has been mired in a 15-race losing streak.  He earned a nice figure last time out, but he was under the whip 3 furlongs for home, was late to make his final lead change, and just didn't finish with enough oomph.  Given the right setup, he can win this race, but he may be best played on the bottom of exotics. 

As for the rest:

Vindgari (#1) just hasn't panned out.  A $725,000 RNA at the 2006 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the half-brother to Grade 1 winner Geri and Grade 2 winner A.P. Arrow, was exiled to Canada from Todd Pletcher's barn after only two races.  He ran well in the slop last time out and will make the third start of the form cycle this afternoon, but he may be a need-the-lead type, and there are other speeds in the race.

Marozi (#2), a $250,000 yearling purchase way back in 2005, hasn't raced in over two years, but adds Lasix for the first time, and it's very hard to discount anything from the Mike Chambers barn.  Over the last five years, Chambers-trained horses off at least a one-year layoff have won five of 13 starts (36%) with a $3.57 ROI.  Marozi was owned by Sheikh Mohammed while racing in Europe so this looks like a private purchase.  He's never raced on dirt, but did win his maiden over the Lingfield polytrack.  Like many European invaders, he may be slow leaving the gate.

Quintons Speedy (#3) is an intriguing longshot.  As a late-kicker, he may have the right running style for this race, and he'll now make the third start off a five-month layoff.  I'm expecting him to pick up some of the pieces with a good stretch run.

Destinys Roar (#5) exits a solid 'n1x' allowance race, and he may be a sneaky outsider to watch at 15-1 on the morning line.  The winner of that December 5 heat, Maltese Tiger, returned to Beyer 77 when a runner-up in a $20,000 'n2x' optional claimer while the runner-up, Media City, came back to win yesterday afternoon.  Destinys Roar has some tactical speed, and is not without a chance from off the pace.

Both of Hug This Chullo's (#8) victories have come in claiming races, and the gelding failed to stay a mile at this level last time out.  He may have to rate from off the pace in this spot, and both of his wins have come in gate-to-wire fashion.

Heavenly Wind (#9) is the proverbial "could be any kind" of horse. A perfect 2-2, Heavenly Wind has shown good tactical speed, and may work out a nice outside stalking trip.  He's a logical contender, and is certainly capable of the Beyer boost needed to win this heat.

Jack Flash (#10) had no excuse last time out at a mile as he was loose on the lead only to fall shore in the stretch.  His most recent win came in a conditoned $5,000 claimer at Fairplex around two turns, and his recent Beyers are light.

Uncanny Yodel (#11) adds blinkers, and his only two lifetime wins came with the blinks.  He has had trouble leaving the gate in his last two races, and the 2-41 record while competing primarily at Hastings Park is disconcerting.  He hasn't won since October 28, 2007, and is 0-29 on dry surfaces.

An interesting race.  I'll use my three top contenders in multi-race wagers, and will play the HandiGambling as follows:

$40 Win - Such a Shame (#6)
$10 Exacta Box - Clean Hit, Such a Shame, Trip the General (4,6,7)

Best of luck to all.

Next time, I'll get to poster comments, pp requests, and more. 

Happy Holidays!