Gulfstream’s card today (1/8/17) features several claimers, including a few maiden claimers, but has a very good first-level allowance race, carded as race nine.
Our play is #9 River Dell (6-1), ridden by Javier Castellano for trainer Tom Albertrani. River Dell was a promising two-year old last year who ran fourth to Mohaymen and Flexibility in the Nashua (11/4/15) before being sidelined until October 10th. In that race, he forged a solid pace in a race won topped by Tale of S’Vall (a solid Barclay Tagg runner that usually runs a low-90s Beyer) and Neolithic (a Todd Pletcher runner that is pointing to the Pegasus World Cup at the end of the month). Tale of S’Vall won a second-level allowance at Gulfstream yesterday with a 92 Beyer.
River Dell then moved to Aqueduct and ran a solid third, albeit with a solid pace in front of him, to the impressive Realm (also a Barclay Tagg trainee who returned to run third in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile). The runner-up in that race, Mighty Moses, returned to win an allowance race at Aqueduct for Rudy Rodriguez with an 88 Beyer). River Dell then ran on turf before coming down to Florida and you can discard that race as he is not a turf horse.
I think this is a much easier spot than what he has been facing and he projects to get a nice stalking trip on the outside.
Among the others expected to take money, #1 Fearless Dragon (4-1) had a perfect trip behind the pace last time and while Zulu, the winner that day, is a very good Pletcher runner, I think Fearless Dragon is going to have to improve to win today.
#3 Kelly Tough (5-1) is my second choice. He pressed the aforementioned Neolithic through solid fractions going two-turns last time before fading and has run some solid races for trainer Eddie Plesa.
#5 Heckuvashot (3-1) is the morning line favorite, and one we will try to beat (fully acknowledging how strong Todd Pletcher runners typically run here). This horse didn’t run that well last year at Gulfstream, then went to the shelf for nine months, and just pressed a slow pace in a much weaker field than he meets today. He will have to significantly improve and will be a short price.
#6 Juan and Bina (8-1) is now 1-23 with 10 thirds and while he has figures that are good enough, he never wins and not only that, seems to have gone completely off form based on his last two races.
#8 Direct Message (12-1) (very well named, he’s out of Tweeter) was a horse that I followed last year, and he broke his maiden over this track, but has been out since May and Albetrani is 1-22 with dirt runners off 150-250 day layoffs.
Exacta Box 3, 6