His first post is 3:55 pm EST.
It's a big day down in South Florida today, where Gulfstream Park will host the Pegasus World Cup. It will be less of an attraction than it was expected to be a few days ago, as the top two horses in the day's biggest contest, the Pegasus World Cup, both scratched out of the race this week. But it's a good race nonetheless, and the undercard is also worth playing. We will take a look at a few of the stakes from Gulfstream, as well as races from Aqueduct and Oaklawn and Santa Anita Parks. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all the races, except as noted. Let's go.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:55 pm ET
$100,000 Jazil Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 4 & Up
A sloppy track at the Big A is the day's safest bet, as the Saturday forecast in Ozone Park is one that only a duck would love. But the wet track makes this a playable race for us: 5-Stan the Man, who would be a contender on a dry surface, looks even better in the slop. His best efforts have been on off going, including a very good second in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park in May, and these races are a cut better than what the rest of the field has been able to do in the slop. He's run on off tracks five times in his career, and finished first or second in all of them, and we think he makes it 6-for-6 today. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Stan the Man.
Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 3:03 pm ET
Grade 3 La Prevoyante Stakes, 1 1/2 miles, turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
The La Prevoyante is a Grade 3 race at a mile and a half on the grass, which is a distance we like to handicap. Ten stayers will line up in the starting gate, including a European shipper from the powerful Aidan O'Brien/Coolmore team. But we like a U.S.-based runner, 6-Lady Paname: this Chad Brown trainee has been away from the races a while, having last raced at Aqueduct in November of 2018. That's a long time, but Brown is good (30% win rate) with horses coming off long layoffs, and she has been working well in the morning. She is bred top and bottom to go long on turf, and has a slow early/fast late style that works perfectly at 12 furlongs. She's a gray; look for her to be absolutely flying late. We doubt we will get her 3-1 morning line price, but we will bet her to win anyway. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Lady Paname.
Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 4:49 pm ET
Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf, 1 3/16 miles, turf, 4 & Up
Twelve older turf horses, plus a few also-eligibles, drew into the Pegasus World Cup Turf. This is a terrific field, arguably better than the World Cup itself. A sign of the quality of the entrants is that a horse like 2-Arklow, who's one of the top distance turf runners in the country, is 6-1 on the morning line.
The most accomplished runner in the field is 12-Magic Wand, who is owned by Coolmore and is trained by Aidan O'Brien. He was last seen finishing second, a nose behind the winner, in the Grade 1 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin, which is as about good a turf race as there is anywhere in the world. Based on that effort, he would be a strong play here, even at relatively modest 7/2 odds.
But there's an issue, and it's with trainer O'Brien. He has suddenly, and rather inexplicably, come up cold with horses he ships to North America. He was 0-for-29 in 2019, and since his trainee Athena won the 2018 Belmont Oaks, he is winless in something like 50 starts. This is too big a sample size to be explained away as chance, and until he wins one of these big races, we will be betting against him.
We like 3-Without Parole, another runner from the Chad Brown barn, to take the trophy here. This horse had a terrific season as a 3-year-old in 2018, but then had a star-crossed campaign last year, finishing a fast-closing third last out in the Breeders Cup Mile. He stretches out to a mile and three-sixteenths today, which is farther than he's ever run before, but we think the added distance will suit him. At 4-1, he merits a play; we will bet him to win, and we will also bet him in the Double with 3-Diamond Oops (see below) in the Pegasus World Cup. The bets: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $35 to win on 3-Without Parole; $25 double, 3 (Without Parole) with 3 (Diamond Oops).
Gulfstream Park, Race 12, 5:34 pm ET
Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 4 & Up
Twelve were entered into the Pegasus World Cup, but one of them, morning line favorite Omaha Beach, scratched after entries were drawn (the expected second choice, Breeders Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run, scratched earlier). That leaves a field of 11 to compete for the winner's share of the $3 million purse.
We like a long shot in here, 3-Diamond Oops. This horse is a Gulfstream Park specialist: he has run at the Hallandale Beach track six times in his career, and won five of them (everywhere else, he is winless in six career starts). He loves the dirt there, he's coming off a big win, and a big speed figure, in the 7 furlong Mr Prospector at Gulfstream, and he's an absolutely juicy 15-1 on the morning line. There are a couple of things he will have to overcome: He has never run farther than a mile before, and will have to stretch out to nine furlongs; and like all runners in the race, he will have to run without the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, but we think the positives make him an excellent bet. We will bet him primarily to win, with a small saver place bet due to his odds. The bets: Gulfstream Park, Race 12, $40 to win/$15 to place on 3-Diamond Oops.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:38 pm ET
$100,000 Fifth Season Stakes, 1 mile, dirt, 4 & Up
The track at Oaklawn Park was kind to speed yesterday, but we are expecting a speed duel in this one, which should set the table for a horse making a late move. The presence of 8-Sevier, who is wickedly fast but has zero stamina -- he can't last six furlongs, let alone a mile -- is going to lead to sizzling early fractions, and a lot of tired speed horses at the top of the stretch. We therefore like 4-Bank It, a Steve Asmussen trainee who will be rolling late. We will bet him to win. Do we like this pick? You can bank on it. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $30 to win on 4-Bank It.
Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:00 pm ET
Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes, 6 furlongs, dirt, 4 & Up
Based on form, 3-Flagstaff would be the play here: he's got the speed figures, the right running style, and a good trainer in John Sadler. But Bob Baffert has suddenly become hot: he's winning at a 32% clip at the current Santa Anita meeting, and that is after a slow start. Primarily because of the hot-trainer angle, which we've learned in the past not to fight, we're picking one of Baffert's two runners here, 6-Speed Pass. This 4-year-old son of Bodemeister is undefeated in two career starts, and has been eye-poppingly impressive in both, but will be making a huge jump in class, going from a first-level allowance to a Grade 2 stakes race. He will find the competition here much, much tougher than he's seen yet -- these are some salty runners he'll be banging heads with today -- and that would normally be enough reason for us to dismiss his chances, but with Baffert having a hot hand, we are comfortable picking him. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 6-Speed Pass.
That's all for today. Enjoy the races, and, as always, good luck at the windows.