Gulfstream has its typical strong Saturday card with a very interesting late pick-4 that includes two three year old Maiden Special Weight races, one on dirt and one on turf, and the G3 Hal’s Hope that marks the return of both Send It In, who hasn’t raced since April, and Irish War Cry, who hasn’t raced since the Pennsylvania Derby.
There are 13 races on the Saturday card, so this sequence covers races 10-13.
Race 10 – This seven-furlong three-year old MSW has a few ways to go but you have to start with #7 Ruler of the Nile (3-1). He cost $1 million as a two-year old in training but it’s probably not a great sign that he’s not debuting until the last weekend of February. He is the likely favorite, going out for Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez. #8 Candygram (6-1) cost $300,000 out of the same sale, but will be a bigger price and Jimmy Jerkens lures Javier Castellano. #1 King Zachary (4-1) caught stakes-bound Principe Guilherme in his debut last November at Churchill Downs, though the rail draw probably isn’t ideal. #5 Bail Out (5-1) might take some money but he’s by Arch and the best recent sibling is turf stakes winner Reload (though he did win on dirt). Shug McGaughey has won with 9 of his last 99 dirt first time starters but three were short-prices that he shipped to easier spots in Maryland (and one was Honor Code). We could move him up if he takes a lot of money but mostly we expect him to need a race before improving stretching out (obviously typical of this barn). #12 Crafty Jack (15-1) will probably be shorter than his morning line price and comes out of a live race (the winner ran a 97 Beyer on debut and the runner-up came back to run an 88 in a win last week) but the stretch from 5.5 furlongs to 7 is a big one.
A – 1, 7, 8
B – none
C – 5
Race 11 – #4 Zefiro (4-1) is first off the claim for Bobby DiBona and gets Javier Castellano and the pair is 2-5 together at the meet. Zefiro had a brutal trip against similar last time and gets a nice rider switch. He’s our top pick and lean here. We also want to use two others. #12 Remembering Mickey (15-1) has back races more than good enough to win here and had a troubled trip – slow start, shuffled back on the bend – last time out. We’ll also use #2 Archvillain (6-1), who ran some decent races last summer. After a throw-out dirt race, he found himself on the lead at Gulfstream Park West last time and maybe didn’t like that style, but she’ll be able to sit off the pace today.
A – 4
B – 2, 12
C – none
Race 12 – The feature race of the day is the one-turn mile G3 Hal’s Hope. The first question is what to do with #8 Send It In (7-2), who ran a 119 Beyer in winning the Excelsior in April, but hasn’t been seen since. That was an odd track at Aqueduct that day and seemed to carry those up near the lead. It was also going 10 furlongs and he’s been a horse that has been better going longer than he gets today. The next question is #1 Irish War Cry (5-2), who ran poorly in each of his last two races last year and is drawn poorly inside.
Our top pick is #3 Conquest Big E (8-1) who ran a huge race last time in the Hooper, where he missed the break, and rushed up with a wide move on the turn, just missing to favored Tommy Macho. Two-back in the Harlan’s Holiday, he got cooked setting a very fast pace which totally fell apart going two turns. #2 Economic Model (3-1) is our other “A” horse, and while he has had his issues, he has ability. Note that he had no chance in the slow-paced Met Mile and then was wide off a gold rail in his two-back race at Saratoga.
A – 2, 3
B – 8
C – none
Race 13 – This does not feel like a typically loaded MSW going long on the grass, and because we spread earlier, we’re going to narrow it down a bit here. #9 Vegas Kitten (4-1) is a first-time Kitten’s Joy starter for Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz who has to be used. #6 Zephan (8-1) showed speed going short on synthetic and stretches out for Jose Carroll, who lures Javier Castellano to ride. Our top pick, however, is #4 Determinant (10-1). He didn’t do much running in his debut, won by the impressive Hawkish, but Mark Casse’s runners often need a race to show their best. He’s well-bred, by Tapit out of Indescribable, a multiple turf/synthetic stakes winner.
A – 4, 9
B – 6
C – none
Here’s the play.