HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Greetings from Hallandale Beach, home of Gulfstream Park and Saturday’s G2 Fountain of Youth. This stop along the Derby trail features the return of Good Magic, last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile winner.
It’s the last of 14 on a marathon Saturday card that features eight additional stakes races and a 3 year old Maiden Special Weight that features Orb’s full brother Personal Time. We’ll look at some other spots in our next post.
Let’s go through the field.
#1 He Takes Charge (20-1) – He’s taken a long time to get going but did register a nice win three weeks ago, leveling off very nicely in the late stages. He’s drawn perfectly, and this is only his second time going two-turns on a fast track.
“He’s the type that goofs off before, during, and after a race. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before things really start clicking for him,” said trainer Mark Casse (via DRF).
#2 Free Drop Billy (9-2) – Some news broke late Friday that trainer Dale Romans might scratch him to run next week in the Gotham.
We’ll see which way Romans decides. He ran pretty well in the Holy Bull, but Audible flicked him aside at the top of the stretch, so it wasn’t a very appealing finish. That race did, however, come up pretty fast. FDB is again drawn very well and is logical though as the second choice, he won’t offer any value.
#3 Peppered (30-1) – His dirt debut in the Kentucky Jockey Club went awry when he was carried out on the first turn as another horse fell. However, his other races, all on synthetic, were slow and this is a very tough race to enter off a long layoff.
#4 Strike Power (4-1) – This impressive son of Speightstown goes out for Mark Hennig and makes his two-turn debut. Via Bloodhorse:
“It’s a concern until they do it,” trainer Mark Hennig said of Strike Power stretching out. “I’ve let him settle behind a horse the last couple times he worked, because that could arise at some point for him. I never would have expected off of all of his training for his first race that he would be that quick. He seemed like he’s a nice horse, but he’s a different horse when he gets in the game and is being competitive. Again, until they do it, you’ve got to have a little doubt in mind.”
He’s had lead-change trouble in each of his two starts, which is a minor concern, and there is also some speed drawn on the outside. He’s obviously talented, but there are enough questions that we want to see him do it going long.
#5 Storm Runner (15-1) – He’s now 2-2 on the first for Dale Romans after grinding out a win over Mississippi on February 4th. He did almost lose a three length lead in the last furlong but held on and now meets a much tougher field. He’s a Get Storm that sold for $5,000 at auction, but now gets a chance to end up in the Derby. We could use him underneath.
#6 Good Magic (7-5) – He’s done nothing wrong in three starts – wide off a gold rail in debut, close to fast pace in Champagne, and romping winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Chad Brown brings him back today and while we did note that this is a tough race to enter off the bench, nobody is better at bringing one back than Brown. It’s hard to see anyone jumping that far up to beat him if can do anything like his Breeders Cup and we’re not trying very hard to beat him.
#7 Gotta Go (10-1) – He was wired by Strike Power in the seven furlong Swale and now stretches out for Ian Wilkes, but he’s “Gotta Go” a lot faster to get on the board here. Looking elsewhere.
#8 Marconi (8-1) – Todd Pletcher sends out this $2-million son of Tapit that’s half to Mucho Macho Man. He’s a late runner that will need a pace meltdown and he’s probably not suited by the short stretch of 8.5 furlong races at Gulfstream. He’s been a bit goofy out of the gate too, though he did track a strong pace last time. We just think this race might be a little too short for him barring a big pace collapse.
#9 Machismo (15-1) – If there is a big pace collapse, it could come from Machismo, winner of a 6.5 furlong maiden race last time. Drawn poorly outside, he’ll be sent for the lead and try to wire the field, which seems an unlikely proposition.
#10 Promises Fulfilled (20-1) – The third of three Dale Romans entries in this race, he’s been in front in all three races but will have to be really ridden to outrun Machismo early. He did run a decent race last time in the Kentucky Jockey Club, setting a strong pace and holding on well for third. The problem is the horses out of that race have come back and run poorly this year (Enticed and Tiz Mischief), and he’s a little on the slow side.
The Pace – There’s a chance for a solid pace, with Machismo and Promises Fulfilled needing to go from the outside. Strike Power will be up in the leading group as well, but will it be a complete meltdown that would help Marconi?
The Play – Good Magic is obviously the horse to beat and we don’t want to take a big shot against him. The longshot we’re most interested in is He Takes Charge from the inside and we’ll play him and to a lesser extent Storm Runner in exactas with Good Magic.