01/20/2010 2:37PM

HG 169 (GP)


This week's HandiGambling 169 exercise is the ninth race from Gulfstream Park, a maiden special weight for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on 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.  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.

As of this writing, the turf course at Gulfstream is listed as "good." 

Let's scratch Don Cavallo (1A), My Kingdom Come (13), El Kingdom (14) and Vanishing Buck (15).

Note these rider changes:

Bigshot (9) will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh. 
Dixie Summer's (12) will be ridden by Javier Castellano

Thought there were four runners in here that I'd use in the final leg of my Pick 4 (utilizing the Steve Crist Ticketmaker method):

Lentenor (2) looks very logical on paper.  As a full brother to Kentucky Derby hero Barbaro, he's almost guaranteed to take money in every start, and he'll probably go off favored here for Michael Matz. 
Last time out, in his turf debut, Lentenor didn't have the easiest trip.  He was off awkwardly and had to be lightly steadied along the inside going into the first turn.  Sensing the moderate pace up front, his rider, Jose Lezcano, decided to hustle Lentenor up along the inside on the backstretch in order to grab a better position.  Lentenor angled four wide at the quarter-pole and finished evenly while a bit late to change leads. 
The winner of that race, On Vacation, returned to finish fifth (beaten 2 1/4 lengths) in an entry-level allowance race here on January 13 (81 Beyer).  Lentenor has to deal with a small layoff but should work out a nice ground-saving, pace-tracking trip under Lezcano.

Bill Mott (0-21 entering today's action) and Kent Desormeaux (now 2-41 after a win in today's second) have both struggled thus far at the Gulfstream meet but you have to think a turnaround is right around the corner.  Rock America (5), a $75,000 weanling purchase, makes his debut with some interesting workouts on display.  The December 20 workout matches up with Mott runners Adriano (won Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes on polytrack last year) and Sheikh's Serenade (entry-level allowance winner on dirt last year), and two of his next three works resulted in bullets.  Rock America's sire, Rock Hard Ten, is only 1-27 with first-time starters, but is 3-12 (25%) with first-time turf runners, and the dam is a half-sister to the solid New York-bred turf runner Whitmore's Conn (won Grade 1 Sword Dancer).  Mott's firsters usually don't fire their best first-out, but this colt may be able to sneak into the exotics at a decent mutuel.

I wrote the following when giving out One Sky (6) as a "Spa Baby" selection on August 16, 2009:

ONE SKY should be legged up with eight straight five-furlong workouts on display, and he shows an interesting turf drill at Aqueduct for high-percentage connections.  He should go off a solid price in a contentious field, and Richard Dutrow Jr. sent out juvenile first-turf winner Jung Man Scott earlier in the meet.

If One Sky won that day, my Saratoga meet would have been an easier pill to swallow, but he finished three-quarters of a length shy at 18 to 1 odds.  He didn't resurface after that race until the end of November when he faltered to finish behind Lentenor after pressing the pace.  After that race, he went to the sidelines again, and he doesn't show a published workout in the last 23 days.  He has some tactical speed.  I can't leave him out of my multi-race wagers.

Bigshot (9) always seems to get in some trouble.  He was forced widest at the quarter-pole when only beaten a neck at Saratoga in his turf debut and was "forced into the hedge in midstretch" when finishing ahead of two next-out winners at Churchill Downs on November 28.  He doesn't have to be too far out of it and trainer Ken McPeek has continued his hot stretch at the meet.

As for the rest:

Quando Quando (1) is a half-brother to Perfect Sting, a multiple Grade 1 winner on turf that earned over $2M on the lawn.  Two of the workouts in early December match up with Apple Charlotte, a promising Graham Motion-trained runner that just won her maiden at Tampa Bay Downs with a 79 Beyer.  Quando Quando is bred to the nines but it's never easy to successfully debut going two turns.  I'll be watching him with interest.  

Parthian (3), a $300,000 juvenile purchase by leading sire Giant's Causeway, was bet to even-money for his only other grass run, and he finished evenly for third at Delaware Park.  That race didn't produce anyone of note, however, and Parthian hasn't shown much of a stretch kick in his career.  He is quick enough to be part of the early pace, but hasn't run since October, and may need one off the bench.

Alcomatch (10), a $125,000 RNA as a yearling, is the first foal from unraced Vilia, a half-sister to Grade 2 sprint winner C'est L'Amour.  The second dam (by Blushing Groom) was a multiple stakes-winner on turf in France.  The December 21 and January 7 workouts match up with Christophe Clement's promising three-year-old Nordic Truce, a colt that won the Dania Beach at Gulfstream last week.  As with the case of Quando Quando, we see a well-bred firster with strong connections and decent workouts.

Rascallion (11) has enough speed to be right up on the lead this afternoon, but he hasn't raced since October, and has done his best work to date in turf sprints.  This seems like a tall order.

Dixie Summer's (12) hasn't done much in three lifetime starts and the bargain juvenile purchase may need weaker competition.  The outside post doesn't do him any favors, either.

Sarkar (7) trailed throughout after an awkward start in his career debut at Calder and now must stretch out three and one-half furlongs with no published works in the last 20 days.

Christopher'simage (4) is stakes-placed going two turns on the main track and he faced some of the better juvenile prospects in South Florida (Thank U Phillippe, Fly by Phil, Jackson Bend, Bim Bam) last year.  He goes second off the layoff and is a full brother to stakes-placed dirt router Charming Image (151K, 0-1 on turf).  The second dam was a Grade 2-placed sprinter on the main track.  This colt may have a little ability, but it's questionable whether the turf will be right for him.

Person of Interest (8) didn't do much when dismissed at 24-1 when debuting on New Year's Day, but there is some turf pedigree on display.  He's a half-brother to three turf winners including Savage Beauty (first-turf winner, stakes-placed on grass).  He can do a bit better today.

Four deep for me in the final leg of the Pick 4.  For HandiGambling, I'll play it this way:

$40 Exacta:  Lentenor - Rock America (2-5)
$40 Exacta:  Lentenor - One Sky (2-6)
$20 Exacta:  Lentenor - Bigshot (2-9)

Best of luck to all!