Saturday Spot Plays

In our last post, we analyzed the Pick-5 that ends with today’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream, renewing the Arrogate/California Chrome clash from the Breeders Cup Classic. Those are just five of 12 great races at Gulfstream today. Let’s look at a few others, plus a few horses at Aqueduct.

Gulfstream 4th – This is a 9-furlong turf maiden special weight heat for fillies that is maybe not as wide open as the 6th but still a tough race. We’ll key on #5 Dramatic Girl (5-1) for trainer Mark Casse. She comes out of a similar race on January 7th in which she was very wide the whole way. She ranged up 4-5 wide on the backstretch and was stacked wide the entire length of the far turn. Dramatic Girl hung on pretty well until fading a bit late and should move forward. The 7-2 favorite is #13 Jaunt for Shug McGaughey. Jaunt had a powerful first-place finish at Aqueduct in November, but was (rightfully) disqualified for impeding a rival. Then in her first start at Gulfstream, she was a somewhat dull third and today draws the 13 post. McGaughey is in a bit of a slump (1-23 with 2 seconds) so far at the meet, and considering all of that, and the likely short price, Jaunt is one worth opposing here, though obviously if she runs back to her November race (in which she finished ahead of Bellavais, subsequent stakes winner), she can win.

Gulfstream 6th – This 9-furlong turf maiden special weight heat is wide open and is a race that requires going fairly deep in multi-race wagers. But intra-race, we’ll key around #11 American Deluxe (10-1) for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. He is a half to Travers winner VE Day, though that one was probably better on turf. American Deluxe ran fine in his debut (especially considering Jerkens’ runners usually need a start) finishing second behind Ticonderoga, a Chad Brown runner that would go on to be fourth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf. In American Deluxe’s second start, he was trying to rally in behind horses and got stopped, steadying sharply and nearly losing the rider. He wasn’t persevered with and jogged back, beaten 13 lengths. He shows up here off a three month layoff, and yes, he might need a start (though Jimmy Jerkens is 5-18, $1.85 ROI on turf with 60 to 120 days of rest over the last five years), but American Deluxe won’t have to improve that much off his debut race to be in the mix at a big price in a wide open race. We’ll key with the 3, 7, and 10.

Gulfstream 7th – Ladies Turf Sprint – We were going to take #2 Moon River (20-1) on top after she ran extremely well last time, breaking slowly and getting bottled up in traffic in her prep race for this one. However, as I type this, word came in that two of the project pace horses, #3 Ruby Notion and #6 Brandy’s Girl, have scratched, and I just don’t entirely trust that there will be enough pace to set up Moon River. Our new top pick is #10 Triple Chelsea (6-1), who will also come from off the pace but hopefully not as far back. In watching her last race, the Lightning City at Tampa Bay Downs, I was impressed with her very powerful finish after coming through a tight seam to run down Nite Delite, who returns in this race. She will be our key horse. #12 Everything Lovely (4-1) has a few races that would win this, and she moves from the 12 post to the 9 post with the scratches. Of the remaining speeds, #11 Nite Delite (9-2) is likely the best.

Gulfstream 9th – Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint – As we noted in the previous post, we like #1 Rainbow Heir (6-1) here. He should get an inside-out trip behind a lot of pace and has run very well in both turf sprints for Jason Servis.

Aqueduct 3rd – Gander Stakes – Gary Sciacca and Bill Parcells send out #5 Bavaro (9-5, likely shorter), stretching him out to a mile after he crushed a restricted NY-bred stakes field with a 101 Beyer on December 17th. That was an extremely inside-speed favoring track, so maybe he’s worth a small shot against here with #4 Bourbon Empire (3-1), who stretches out after a rallying third against NY-breds on November 19th at Aqueduct. He looks like he’s been pointed to this race since then for Mark Hennig and is half to Lutheran Miss, a six-time winner of $211,000. All six of her wins were dirt routes, so hopefully the stretch-out is within Bourbon Empire’s scope.

Aqueduct 6th – There are a few questions regarding #3 The Hero Within (12-1) in this race, but I think he’ll be worth a play (though likely at closer to 8-1 than 12-1). In his debut race, The Hero Within was bumped at the start, dropped way back (14 lengths according to the chart), was in 8th place at the 8th pole, and weaved his way through traffic to just get up for second. Watch the race back (December 18th, race 6) and you’ll see a horse that looks like he figured it out mid-race. He should be closer to the pace today and if he moves forward at all, should be right there.

Aqueduct 8th – This race should have a very fast pace and there are some with issues leading us to want to take a big price. Certainly we’ll use #11 We Did (20-1) off a wide trip and good rally last time. But we settled on #7 Aragonite (12-1) for trainer David Donk. Aragonite ran two decent races as a young three-year old last winter on the inner track. If you project some improvement into the now-four year old, and give him some pace to attack, as he should get in this race, he’s got a chance to run everyone down at a big price.

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