The weather should be fine in South Florida this afternoon, and we’re expecting fast dirt and firm turf. First picked post is 1:35 pm EDT.
There’s only one Thoroughbred track running today: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Fortunately, Gulfstream cards eleven races, giving us a good lineup from which to choose our handful of daily plays. We have selected four individual races, a mixed bag of sprints and routes, dirt and turf, and will throw in a couple of multi-race gimmick bets as well. The weather should be fine in South Florida this afternoon, and we’re expecting fast dirt and firm turf. Let’s go.
Maiden Special Weight, 4 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
This baby race for 2-year-old fillies drew a full field of eight. Trainer Wesley Ward, who dominates these juvenile races like a 6-footer in a 5th grade basketball game, starts two: 9/5 morning line favorite 4-Gem Thief and 5/2 second choice 2-Tharos. We think the winner will be one of them, but we prefer Tharos: she’s by Kantharos, who sires speedy and precocious offspring, and she’s evidently pretty impressive physically, as she sold for $275,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland sale in April of 2019. When horses sell for many multiples of a stallion’s stud fee -- Kantharos stands for $30,000 -- they are either runners, or they look like runners. We think Tharos has more than just looks, so our play will be that she can beat her stablemate and break her maiden at first asking. We will bet Tharos to win, hopefully at a price reasonably close to her 5/2 morning line odds. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 2, $30 to win on 2-Tharos.
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Florida-breds 3 & Up
Eight state-breds line up for this maiden dirt sprint. It’s a lightly-raced group, which makes it an interesting race to handicap.
The hot 9/5 favorite is 1-Celtic Brotherhood, who has high early speed and who just missed winning his last race, which was his career debut, setting the pace with quick fractions, leading into deep stretch only to get nipped late and finish second. He earned a decent speed figure in that race, but he was painfully slow at the end of the race, taking nearly 27 seconds to run the final two furlongs. If he were lone speed horse in this field, he’d probably be the pick, but we think he’s a play-against, as 6-Chamberlain has about as much early speed and is also a need-the-lead type. When you have two horses with the same front-running style gunning for the early lead, they will both run too fast trying to get it, causing an unsustainably fast pace, and leaving them both gasping for air late.
This makes 5-Victory Town a strong play: this Mark Casse trainee should get a good trip about five lengths behind the dueling pacesetters, a good vantage point to watch them run each other into the ground. And when they begin to tire, which should be right at the top of the stretch, he will pounce on both, moving past and winning this one fairly comfortably, we think. We will bet Victory Town to win at 2-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 6, $40 to win on 5-Victory Town.
Starter Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Nine older females line up for this turf race, which is restricted to horses who have started for a claiming price of $40,000 or less. This field is filled, as these lower-level turf races frequently are, by fast-early/slow-late types, and while these kinds of horses can win on the grass, especially on turf courses that favor speed, as Gulfstream’s has for much of the past five months, the style that is usually much more effective in turf racing is the opposite: a horse who goes comfortably early, and who finishes strongly. Turf racing is the inverse of dirt racing in this way: while in dirt racing the first thing we look for are horses with early speed, on the grass, we look first for who has the best closing kick.
We mention this because there is only one entrant in the race with a true late-running style: 2-Lido Key, who starts for trainer Kenny McPeek. She’s made up ground closing from the rear in both of her races this year, including her last, when she broke her maiden at Tampa Bay Downs. We think she is going to get an ideal setup for her late kick today, as a fast pace is a virtual certainty. Look for her to sit last, or close to last, early, and to pass ‘em all with a strong stretch run. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Lido Key.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Florida-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Seven state-bred females line up for this 6-furlong sprint. We’re against the heavy favorite, 5-Flora Fantasy, not because there’s anything wrong with her form, but because she comes from a cold barn (trainer Jose D’Angelo is winless in his last twelve starts), and she figures to be wildly overbet.
3-Royal Meghan is a strong play. She broke her maiden two races back, earning a good speed figure in a race at today’s distance, and then finished a decent second in her last, her first start against winners. Her figures are competitive, she has a pace-pressing style, which fits, and as she’s a lightly-raced 3-year-old, we think she has a lot more upside than the other runners in the field. Look for her to be right there with the early pacesetters, and to win with a strong drive down the stretch. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 3-Royal Meghan.
We also like both the late Pick 4 at Gulfstream today, which comprises Races 8 through 11. Here are the top picks in each of them:
Race 8: 5 (Four K’s)
Race 9: 2 (Lido Key), 3 (Bean Counter)
Race 10: 3 (Royal Meghan), 5 (Flora Fantasy)
Race 11: 6 (Kitten’s Clown), 9 (Koko Star)
We think that the 11th race, which is a $65k maiden claimer on the turf, has the potential for chaos, for an inscrutable longshot winner that could blow up the Pick 4 payout. There are twelve entrants in the race, so we are going to play two tickets, with the multiple tickets allowing us to play the sequence with different base wagers. The tickets are as follows:
Ticket A: 5 with 2,3 with 3,5 with 6,9 (8 combinations)
Ticket B: 5 with 2,3 with 3,5 with ALL (64 combinations)
We will play Ticket A with a $3 base wager level, for a total investment of $24. We’ll play Ticket B at the 50-cent minimum, for a total cost of $32.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.