Gulfstream Saturday Late Pick-4

GulfstreamPark-logo-final_newGulfstream 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

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Fast Pace Could Lead to Southwest Chaos

OaklawnLogoThe annual President’s Day feature at Oaklawn is the G3 Southwest Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race. Mourinho comes in after winning last month’s Smarty Jones, but meets a much tougher test today with a lot more speed signed on in what is a very interesting race.

Points – While Bravazo earned 50 points for his Risen Star win at Fair Grounds on Saturday, this race is only worth 10 points to the winner as this is the first of three remaining preps at Oaklawn and the Risen Star was the penultimate prep at Fair Grounds.

Let’s take a look at the field.

#1 My Boy Jack (12-1) – This Keith Desormeaux charge was no match for the ultra-impressive McKinzie in the Sham but ran about as fast as most of the others in here. He will be farther off the pace today, but he’s won from there on the grass, and unlike some of the other closers, he’ll be able to save ground. He’s a part of the play.

#2 Sporting Chance (9-2) – D Wayne Lukas won the Risen Star on Saturday and can win this race with Sporting Chance, winner of the Hopeful. The problem is of corse that he hasn’t run since the Hopeful. He’s also drawn inside the speed and figures to be forwardly placed in a race that should feature a fast pace.

#3 Principe Guilherme (4-1) – He’ll scratch after running on Saturday in the Risen Star. Note that everyone’s morning line is effectively too high because of his scratch.

#4 Mourinho (2-1) – The Smarty Jones last month featured a very slow pace as we noted here. That certainly flattered the Bob Baffert-trained Mourinho, who set fractions that were slower to the half than all three other mile races that day including a $30k maiden claimer. Today, he has to deal with a lot of other pace. Granted, he’s probably not a pure “need the lead” type but he’ll be up on the engine and the pace last time makes him look a lot better than he probably is.

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Saturday Spot Plays

A very good Saturday around the country, including good cards at Fair Grounds and Laurel, was muted just a bit because of a quarantine at New York.

It’s still a strong day of racing and we have a few thoughts.

We previously previewed today’s Risen Star Stakes, a key Derby prep race to be run today at Fair Grounds.

Fair Grounds Pick-3, Races 6-8. For some reason, there is no pick-4 ending in the Risen Star, but there is a Pick-3 that incorporates the three races prior to the feature.

Race 6 (Stall Memorial) – #4 I’m Betty G (3-1) was close to a fast pace that fell apart in the South Beach at Gulfstream last time. #6 Mom’s On Strike (7-2) won the local prep with a strong close. But we also want to use #11 Susie Bee (8-1). Susie Bee was pace compromised last time at Houston and though she had a great trip two-back at Gulfstream, she did beat Truly Together, who ran very well in the Endeavor last week at Tampa. In her previous turf start, she was hurt by a moderate pace behind Grade-1 winners Miss Temple City and Zipessa.

Race 7 (Rachel Alexandra) – #8 Momomoy Girl (8-5) is the favorite, coming off a win on Thanksgiving weekend at Churchill. However, she might need this one off the bench and we want to lean on #4 Wonder Gadot (4-1) in here. Wonder Gadot might have to get a bit faster, but she ran very well last time in the Silverbulletday in pressing a very fast pace that collapsed. She was run down late by a deep closer and can take a step forward here.

Race 8 (Fair Grounds Handicap) – We’re going to try to beat #6 Mr. Misunderstood (3-1), who has won seven straight but they were in weaker fields against straight three year olds. He faces elders for the first time today. Our top pick is #8 Synchrony (9-2), who took a tough beat when wired in the Red Bank at Monmouth last May. It is his first start since then, so we’ll also use a few others. #5 Granny’s Kitten (8-1) may have needed his last start, which also came on soft turf. #9 High Noon Rider (6-1) has steadily moved up the allowance ladder. #3 Galton (5-1) was wired two-back and put in a good late run last time here for Mike Maker and Javier Castellano.

$2 ticket – 4, 6, 11 / 4 / 3, 5, 8, 9 ($24)
$2 ticket – 4, 6, 11 / 8 / 8 ($6)
$1 ticket – 4, 6 / 4, 8 / 5, 8, 9 ($12)

Laurel Race 9 (General George) – There are two key scratches – #9 Great Stuff and #10 Do Share, who probably would have been the top two choices in the betting. #8 Grasshoppin (15-1) is our pick for the upset. He’ll have to improve a little bit but he’s back at his best distance of seven furlongs and both turns back out of two-turn races and gets a big trainer change to Claudio Gonzalez. From his outside post position, he should get an ideal stalking trip outside the speed and get the jump on the late-runners.

Laurel Race 7 (Miracle Wood) – #7 He Hate Me (7-2) had no chance behind World of Trouble, who wired the Pasco setting a moderate pace. He’s drawn well outside today and is second off the long layoff for Horacio de Paz and will be a fair-priced alternative to #1 Still Having Fun (8-5).

Gulfstream Race 10 – There should be some pace in here and we want to try #10 Peru (9-2) as an alternative to favored Starship Jubilee. Peru beat that rival in the Claiming Crown Tiara and then rallied well behind a wire to wire winner at Sam Houston last time when hurt by a moderate pace.

Gulfstream Race 11 – #3 Page McKenny (6-1) gets a much weaker field than he faced last time and some pace. The short-stretch is a concern, but hopefully Irad Ortiz can put him in the second flight behind the leaders.

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Derby Trail Preview: Risen Star (G2)


The Derby Trail continues in New Orleans on Saturday as Fair Grounds runs a stakes-laden card that is headed by the G2 Risen Star Stakes and Instilled Regard, winner of the Lecomte last month for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Derby Points – This race is an 85 point race, with 50 to the winner. Thus, the winner is almost guaranteed a spot in the Derby starting gate. (Monday’s Southwest Stakes only offers 20 points to the winner, but there are three preps left at Oaklawn, including the Southwest. There are just two left – this Risen Star and next month’s Louisiana Derby – left at Fair Grounds.)

Here is our look at last month’s Lecomte, which features several of these horses. Let’s take a look at the field for the Risen Star.

#1 High North (15-1) – Brad Cox sends out this son of Midnight Lute for his first start since the Thanksgiving-weekend Kentucky Jockey Club. We liked his debut race at Saratoga, where he was wide off a gold rail, and then got wired by Withers winner Avery Island in his second start. After breaking his maiden, he was 4th in the KJC after having some trouble on the first turn behind a horse that had tossed his rider. He mostly had a good trip thereafter but was probably farther back than intended. It is, however, a concern that both Enticed and Tiz Mischief, who ran 1-2 in there, have come back to disappoint in the Holy Bull and Sam Davis over the last two weeks, but High North will be a big price for a good trainer and we’re using underneath.

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Derby Trail Race Review: Sam F. Davis

Flameaway pulled a 10-1 upset in the Sam F. Davis on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, going wire to wire and holding off Catholic Boy, the 3-5 favorite.

PreviouslyWithers, Lewis, Holy Bull

Fractions: 24.18, 47.73, 1:11.25, 1:36.06, 1:42.44
Race Flow: Moderate pace.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 92

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Gulfstream Sunday Late Pick-4

GulfstreamLogoOur Saturday late pick-4 play got de-railed when our key horse Sand Dancer never lifted his feet in Saturday’s 11th race. Let’s try again today. The Sunday sequence includes, like Saturday’s, four turf races and while there are no stakes races, there are two high-end allowance races (legs two and three) that will produce future stakes performers.

Let’s go through the sequence.

Race 9 – This is the most open of the four races and we’ll go deep in this 7.5 furlong turf maiden-claimer. #1 Stay on Base (6-1) draws inside for the first time and was very wide last time in a similar heat. The runner-up from that race came back to win and improve his figure by nine points. #4 Troopingthecolor (10-1) is by turf sire Parading out of a dam that won twice on grass. A competent first time starter should fit here, so #10 Christmas Treat (7-2) fits. #11 Paco Encaso (4-1) tracked a fast pace and lost to a 6-5 winner last time but is drawn poorly today.

Our backups include three more. #3 We Take Checks (9-2) is half to several multiple turf winners and stretches out after running evenly in his debut for Jorge Navarro. #7 Rider of the Blue (15-1) is first off a Marcus Vitali claim (from Mark Casse, however) and is worth throwing in this wide open race. #8 America’s Simmard (12-1) made an early inside move last time in a tougher field and faded only late.

A – 1, 4, 10, 11
B – 3
C – 7, 8

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Gulfstream Late Pick-4


Gulfstream has an all turf late-pick four on Saturday that includes two graded stakes races.

Race 9 – The G1 Gulfstream Park Turf is headed by #1 Heart to Heart (5-2), who is looking for an elusive Grade 1 win. The front-runner returned from the Breeders Cup, where he was cooked in a speed duel, in the Fort Lauderdale last month but blew the break and that race can be safely tossed. There are a few others that could challenge him, but he loves the course and is likely clear again. I’ve always felt that nine furlongs was pushing it for him, though he is 2-3 going the distance, granted with soft pace scenarios. Our top pick, however, is #5 Money Multiplier (3-1) for Chad Brown. We’ve always been fans of this horse and while he’s run well going marathon distances, he did impressively win at Monmouth going this distance off a layoff on Haskell Day where he was the only wide winner on the grass. The concern is that his last two races of 2017 were not up to snuff. He didn’t run well in the Turf Classic but did have some traffic in the Red Smith over a deeper Aqueduct turf course (he’s always preferred the firmer courses of the summer, and Gulfstream falls in line there). We will use #4 Hi Happy (4-1) as a backup as he makes his first start for Todd Pletcher as the new face in here. He had a very wide trip in the San Marcos last year and in the November 2016 Seabiscuit, his only other US start, he faded late but it was his first start in 11 months. We’ve always been fans of #8 Channel Maker (10-1) but thought that he had a great trip in the Hollywood Derby and just wasn’t quite good enough. He now has to face quality elders. Ultimately, we will chalk out in this first leg and think that the two favorites are likely winners.

A – 1, 5
B – none
C – 4

Race 10 – The G3 Suwanee River is headed by #9 Kitten’s Roar (2-1), who was wide from a bad post in the G1 Matriarch and is better suited to this nine furlong distance. #8 Elysea’s World (7-2) always fires but never wins, though she was hurt by a  slow pace last time in California and was blocked in the lane two-back at Aqueduct. We do want to use #5 Dream Dancing (9-2) who was hurt by a very slow pace and by losing a lot of ground last time in the Marshua’s River and in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup two-back at Keeneland. She’s a G1 winner going this nine furlong distance. #2 Beauly (15-1) was bizarrely ridden, pushing a strong pace going 12 furlongs last time. It is probably a little risky leaving out both #3 Midnight Crossing (6-1) and #6 Ultra Brat (8-1), who will likely be together on a moderate pace, but we don’t trust either and think they are facing better (and think this is too far for Ultra Brat). Finally, #1 Westit (20-1) should be better suited to nine furlongs than the 7.5 of the South Beach when she was buried inside. Kitten’s Roar is logical but there are some alternatives.

A – 5, 9
B – 8
C – 1, 2

Race 11 – There should be some pace in here and we don’t really want #5 Mojovation (7-2), who has been a little disappointing since an impressive dirt debut win. #8 Sand Dancer (5-1) ran well behind Maraud, a likely stakes performer, in his last start. Trainer Tim Hills is having a good meet (18: 3-2-3). #10 Power of Attorney (9-2) got stopped cold in the lane last time.

A – 8
B – 10
C – 5

Race 12 – The sequence closes with a typically brutal $16,000 claimer going 8.5 furlongs on the turf. #8 Laythatpistoldown (3-1) is the one to beat. He dusted a similar field last time but they did not try him at the next level. #12 Sportscaster (5-1) had some traffic in a similar spot two-back and defeated a $16k field last time but drew terribly. #6 Conquest Sandman (4-1) can win but is taking a bit of a suspicious drop off a win and they claimed him for $50k in August. #2 Here’s to Mike (8-1) might be a cut below but should get a good trip from the inside. We want to throw in #9 Midnight Notes (15-1) who moved way too soon at the Meadowlands last time (though did ride a gold rail two-back). #11 Modern Tale (15-1) was awful last time but does have some previous races that could give him a shot.

A – 6, 8
B – 2
C – 9, 11

The Play – We’ll play the 4A ticket for $1.50, the 3A/1B ticket for $1, and the 2A/2B and 3A/1C tickets for 50-cents. The total play is $47.

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Derby Trail Preview: Sam F. Davis

TampaBayDownsThe Derby Trail comes to Oldsmar, Florida on Saturday with the Sam F. Davis Stakes, the prep for next month’s Tampa Bay Derby. The race is headed by Catholic Boy, a Jonathan Thomas trainee that makes his first start since the Remsen.

Let’s take a look at the field.

#1 Navy Armed Guard (15-1) – He’s a late-runner for trainer Joan Scott that has run two solid figures on dirt, but those low-80s Beyers likely won’t cut it in here. He was beaten by Mississippi, a well-regarded Mark Casse runner that disappointed on Sunday in a Gulfstream Park allowance race. His ceiling seems like a minor share if the race falls apart, and that too seems unlikely.

#2 Flameaway (8-1) – The aforementioned Mark Casse sends out this son of Scat Daddy that is 2-2 on wet tracks, both in off the turf races, but was dusted in the Iroquois after chasing a fast pace. He won the Kitten’s Joy last time at Gulfstream but was aided by the slow pace in there. We’d expect Jose Lezcano to put him on the lead, which should help considering the pace isn’t expected to be too fast, but we just think he’s better on grass.

#3 Vino Rosso (3-1) – This $410,000 son of Curlin makes his third start, second at Tampa, for Todd Pletcher. After being well-bet and taking his debut at Aqueduct, they shipped him here and he won a very slow-paced, and just generally slow, allowance race on December 22nd as a prep for this spot. I wouldn’t read too much into slow time (see Always Dreaming’s March 4th allowance for this barn last year), but he’s facing much tougher horses today and will be a short-ish price. We prefer another, but he’s on the multi-race tickets.

#4 Septimius Severus (15-1) – The often-dangerous George Weaver sends out this son of Roman Ruler who stretches out to two turns for the first time. He was hurt by a slow pace last time at Gulfstream as Impact Player ran away to a  seven-length win and an 86 Beyer. He broke his maiden at Aqueduct while wide on a track that favored horses that raced well off the rail (for trainer Charlton Baker and before the transfer to Weaver). We could use underneath, but that’s about it.

#5 Hollywood Star (5-2) – Dale Romans sends out this well-bred (he’s out of G1 winner Hollywood Story) son of Malibu Moon for his three year old debut after scratching him out of the Holy Bull last week. He’s a deep closer that won the slower Iroquois while aided by a fast pace. That said, you can safely toss his Breeders Cup Juvenile race where he ran on the bad inside. We’re against, however. Romans’ horses last week ran like they all needed a race (Free Drop Billy, Tiz Mischief in the Holy Bull) off the bench and he’s a deep closer that won’t be helped by the pace scenario.

#6 Catholic Boy (8-5) – The favorite makes his first start since the Remsen, a 91 Beyer blowout win over Avery Island, who came back to win the Withers last week at Aqueduct. This is just a starting point for Catholic Boy, so we don’t expect him to be fully cranked, though if he runs back to his Remsen, it will be tough for any of these to pull the upset. He’s a short-price, so we’ll take a small shot against, but he’s an obvious A on any multi-race ticket.

#7 Vouch (8-1) – We bet him in the Remsen last time against Catholic Boy and ran fine. While he was beaten six lengths, he drew poorly, was very wide, tracked the honest pace, and faded late. That was just his second start and it came going nine furlongs. Vouch was giving up a lot of seasoning to Catholic Boy, who was making his fourth start and had already run in two stakes (albeit on grass). Granted it’s not a huge sample, but trainer Arnaud Delacour is 6-12 with a $2.18 ROI (per DRF Formulator) on 60-120 day layoffs in dirt routes. We’ll take a swing here.

The Pace – It shouldn’t be too fast. Flameaway likely goes to the lead with Vouch pressing him from the outside. Vouch should get the jump on the late-runners including favored Catholic Boy.

Overall Thoughts – We’ll take Vouch for the small upset. In a multi-race wager, we will use Vouch and Catholic Boy as As and Vino Rosso as a C.


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Derby Trail Race Review: Holy Bull

Last year, New Jersey-bred Irish War Cry won the Holy Bull. This year, it was New York-bred Audible who earned a blowout victory. The Todd Pletcher-trainee was in New York when a scheduled state-bred stakes race was postponed several times due to bad weather. Pletcher called an, wait for it, audible, and brought him to Florida. It worked out in a big way.

Previously: Withers, Lewis

Let’s take a look at the Holy Bull.

Fractions: 23.59, 47.14, 1:12.00, 1:35.89, 1:41.92 (1 1/16 miles)
Race Flow: Moderate pace
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 99

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