HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream has carded a spectacular 13-race extravaganza on Saturday featuring nine stakes races, eight of them graded, headlined by the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, a key Kentucky Derby prep race.
In this post, we want to look at some spots on the undercard. We’ll came back in our next post with some pick-4 tickets for the card.
Gulfstream Race 4 – Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) – 3yo fillies, 8.5 furlongs, turf – #4 Coasted (8-5) is the favorite, entering off a four month layoff following her second-place finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She ran some very nice races last year, including that one and a six-length maiden win. However, she likely needs a race, and trainer Leah Gyarmati is 0-23 with 61-180 day layoffs on turf (DRF Formulator). #3 India Montuana (7-2) has already run 12 times but this will be her first start for Chad Brown. She’s set some moderate paces in her last two starts, and while talented, she might be a tad overbet. Our pick is #1 Dream Dancing (9-2) who ran well last time to win an optional claimer for trainer Mark Casse in her first start of the year. She did get some pace to attack in that race, but seemed to take a step forward from her two-year old form. She did finish second to Coasted (by six lengths) at Saratoga, but that was her debut while Coasted already had one start.
Gulfstream Race 5 – Fred Hooper Stakes (G3) – 4/up, 8 furlongs, dirt – We picked #3 Realm (5-1) in the Hal’s Hope last time and we were counting our money at the quarter pole – he had been sitting a perfect trip, the favorite, Tommy Macho, was being ridden very hard, and Realm appeared ready to pounce, only to just flatten out a bit down the lane. We still like him, but our pick will be #4 Bird Song (9-2) for Ian Wilkes, the Hal’s Hope runner-up. He was part of a fast pace in that race and his pace rival, Dolphus, faded to last. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of pace in here so his forward style should help. Those will be our two As in multis. #7 War Story (5-2) figures to be overbet off his Pegasus fifth and his big-fig two-back was on a gold rail. #8 Greenpointcrusader (2-1) had a solid return for Todd Pletcher but pressed a slow pace and the figure he earned wasn’t anything special (yes it was his first start off the layoff but it feels like these Pletcher horses come back ready to go).
Gulfstream Race 6 – Sand Springs Stakes – 4/up, 8 furlongs, turf – #8 Celestine (9-5) is the horse to beat for trainer Christophe Clement, a $2.5 million auction purchase in November. We’d argue that her race in the Just a Game last year on Belmont day was the best run by a turf mare in this country last year, and that includes several from Tepin and Miss Temple City. Either way, she’s back here after the BC Turf Sprint and is the one to beat. #5 Catch a Glimpse (7-5) who won on this card last year makes her four-year old debut after a rough finish to the season. She’s 4-4 going a flat mile, but with Celestine, Mizz Money, and Rontos Lilly in here, there figures to be a solid enough pace for our pick. We’re going to #9 My Sweet Girl (12-1) for trainer Barclay Tagg. Her best races give her a shot and she lost position early on last time when bumped and steadied after the start, plus she probably needed the start off a four-month layoff. We’ll give her a chance at what should be a big price.
Gulfstream Race 7 – Very One Stakes (G3) – 4/up, 9.5 furlongs, turf – We’re fans of #3 Suffused (8-5) and she’s an A in any multi-race play but she got really good going really long and I wonder if this race at “only” 1 3/16th miles might be a touch short. #1 Olorda (5-2) hasn’t run since April but should be the speed for Chad Brown. They’ve always thought very highly of this horse (note the placement in the Grade 1 QE II and Matriarch after finishing 11th beaten 11 in the Belmont Oaks) and Olorda delivered last year before getting hurt. If the price is right (5-1), we could try the improving #5 Try Your Luck (6-1), who was beaten by Suffused last time at 1 1/2 miles. She was only beaten 2 lengths and the 9.5 furlong distance (from 12 furlongs last time) fits her better.
Gulfstream Race 9 – Palm Beach Stakes (G3) – 3yo, 8.5 furlongs, turf – We marked #1 Cowboy Culture (3-1) onto our horses to watch list back in October after his debut at Churchill Downs when he made a big wide sweeping move with a powerful finish to get the win. He returned to win an allowance race at Fair Grounds, with some trouble (though an overall good trip) and then won a small stakes at Fair Grounds with another wide run and strong finish (he beat Girvin, subsequent Risen Star [dirt G2] winner).We’re taking him to win right back for the outstanding trainer Brad Cox. He’s the morning line favorite, but I think #9 Ticonderoga (7-2) might be favored. He was pretty green last year in his first and third starts, likely costing him wins, but ran well in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf when he drew post 14. His issue is that he has no speed, but he’s probably the one to beat. #6 Channel Maker (9-2) was our pick in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf at 15-1 and he ran ok, though he sat a good trip. His best race was the Summer Stakes in September when he was wrangled back off the pace and then shuffled back into the lane. It was a very good effort. However, he’s been off since the Breeders Cup and will likely need one for a Canadian trainer, Daniel Vella, that does his best work north of the border. #5 Snap Decision (8-1) will probably be bet down a bit for trainer Shug McGaughey, and enters off an impressive maiden win. However, in that race, he was given a beautiful ground-saving trip by jockey Jose Ortiz. He’ll have to improve to win here (which he can – he’s half to Grade 1 winner Mr. Speaker). #4 Kitten’s Cat (6-1) beat our upset pick Clyde’s Image last time, but they just loped around the track on a very slow pace. There are some nice horses in this race, but we’re going with the Fair Grounds invader Cowboy Culture.
Gulfstream Race 10 – Davona Dale Stakes (G2) – 3yo fillies, 8 furlongs, dirt – This race is a complete mess with questionable favorites and untrustworthy form. You could got a lot of different directions. #12 Pretty City Dancer (7-2) is logical, but her runner-up in the Forward Gal came up slow and her career-best Beyer of 77 hardly jumps off the page. Of the favorites, we prefer #9 Eloquent Riddle (9-2) for Chad Brown, who makes her first start since November 24th when she was second to Yorkiepoo Princess (who has returned to win two stakes races). #7 Miss Sky Warrior (5-2) is the morning line favorite off her win in the 9 furlong Demoiselle, but she’s off the Thanksgiving layoff, a front-runner in a race with other speed, and not especially fast either. So where to go?
Our top pick is #14 Champagne Problems (20-1) for trainer Ian Wilkes. She is second off the layoff though her return race wasn’t great. She made strides in her second and third starts last year, running figures that would make her reasonably competitive with these, and she’s by Ghostzapper out of an (unraced) AP Indy mare, so a mile should be better for her than the 6 and 7 furlong races that she’s been running. Champagne Problems’ return race this year wasn’t great, but Ian Wilkes isn’t really the type of trainer to throw a horse into a stakes that isn’t doing very well.
If we like Champagne Problems, we have to like #3 Modacious (10-1), who broke her maiden at Parx and ran 2nd with a 75 Beyer in a February 15th allowance (well ahead of Champagne Problems). This is a good race to fool around with some bigger prices.
Gulfstream Race 12 – Mac Diarmada Stakes (G2) – 4up, 11 furlongs, turf – #6 Mr. Maybe (10-1) is our top pick (though he won’t be 10-1) after getting totally blocked and stymied down the stretch of the McKnight time. His two-back race in the Knickerbocker was too short and on yielding turf, so his form is a bit masked. I wish he drew better, but we’ll use #12 Patterson Cross (20-1) at least underneath. He’s an improving marathon runner for Bill Mott who just got beat by #9 Taghleeb (5-1) last time. Taghleeb has been given two straight tremendous trips from Tyler Gaffalione but he obviously thrives in these marathon turf races and is great form. The favorite is #4 Wake Forest (3-1), a consistent runner for Chad Brown but in seven races here, has just one win but five seconds/thirds.