The expansion of racing is a trend that is scheduled to continue over the next few days, as Santa Anita reopens tomorrow, and Churchill Downs opens on Saturday. First post is 1:34 pm EDT.
For the first time in what feels like forever, we have new entries to look at, races at tracks that have been shuttered the past two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Joining Gulfstream Park today are Golden Gate Fields in California and Charles Town in West Virginia. The expansion of racing is a trend that is scheduled to continue over the next few days, as Santa Anita reopens tomorrow, and Churchill Downs opens on Saturday. While we’re incredibly thankful for the tracks that have conducted live racing during the pandemic, having more races to choose from leaves us almost giddy, partly for pari-mutuel reasons, but mostly as a sign that we are beginning to come out of the global nightmare that this invisible germ has wrought.
We’ve selected races at all of three Thoroughbred tracks running today. It should be fast and firm at both Gulfstream and Golden Gate, but the forecast for West Virginia is wet, so we’ve handicapped the Charles Town race for a sloppy track. As always, make sure to check track conditions closer to the races, especially at Charles Town, where the racing is this evening, and both weather and the going could change by the time they run the races. Let’s go.
Maiden Special Weight, 4 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
Seven go in this maiden race for 2-year-olds. All seven are first-time starters, which means there are no race results to analyze, so handicapping this race is a study in pedigrees, morning workouts, and trainer patterns…
We like the filly on the outside, 7-Go Jo Jo Go. She has a win-early pedigree, she’s been working regularly and well in the morning, and her trainer, Michael Yates, wins at a respectable 10% clip with first-time starters. The outside post is also an advantage, especially in a race filled with first-time starters. We will bet Go Jo Jo Go to win at 2-1… The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 2, $20 to win on 7-Go Jo Jo Go.
Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Twelve 3-year-old fillies line up to try to break their maiden going eight and a half furlongs on the Gulfstream Park turf course. We are all over one of them, 11-Thankful, a daughter of American Pharoah who is making her first career start today. American Pharoah has turned out to be a very, very good turf sire, and is also good at siring debut winners, and Thankful is trained by Todd Pletcher, who wins at over a 20% clip with firsters. Add up all three, and we think she can win this. She’ll have to avoid losing ground from her outside post, and she’ll also have to avoid traffic trouble in this big field, but Thankful appears to have enough ability to do both. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 6, $35 to win on 11-Thankful.
Starter Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Racing returns to the Golden State with today’s first from Golden Gate, a starter allowance turf route for older females. We like a shipper from Southern California, 3-Shanghai Truffles. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, this 4-year-old daughter of Shanghai Bobby stretches out today after running in a 5 furlong sprint at Santa Anita last out. Gallagher is good with horses switching from sprints to routes, and is good with turf horses generally, but what we like about Shanghai Truffles most is class: she’s been facing much tougher at Santa Anita and should be able to handle this lesser group. Look for her to get a forwardly-placed trip from her inside post position, pass the pacesetters on the far turn, squirt clear in mid-stretch, and hold off the closers late. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Golden Gate Fields, Race 1, $30 to win on 3-Shanghai Truffles.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
There are only six entrants in today’s featured race at Gulfstream Park, but they’re pretty evenly matched, and it’s a good betting race in spite of the short field. We like 4-Violent Times, who starts for trainer Ralph Nicks .We give her the nod for two reasons: one is recency, as her last race was very good, a sharp second against a tough allowance field; the other is speed, as she has a pretty significant edge in early zip over the other runners. We expect her to get the early lead, and to get it without having to run all that hard, and once she’s in front, she’s going to stay there all the way around the track. We will wager that she can wire this group and will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Violent Times.
$12,500 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This conditioned claimer on the grass drew nine runners. We are expecting a hot pace, and that makes us look to a deep closer, and a big price, in 5-American Royalty. Her recent form is somewhat lacking -- it’s actually pretty awful -- but those races have all been on Golden Gate’s synthetic track, and she has run well on grass before. Look for her to be toward the rear early and flying late. We will bet her to win and to place at 20-1. The bets: Golden Gate Fields, Race 7, $25 to win/$10 to place on 5-American Royalty.
Starter Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of ten goes to the post in the 5th from Charles Town, a starter allowance at 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt. It’s pretty wide open, with the favorite a tepid 5/2. In a race we expect to be run over a sloppy track, we like a filly who has run on off tracks three times in her career and finished in the money in all three of them: it’s 8-Backcat, who starts for trainer Tim Shanley. She has the most early speed in the field, so look for her to go right to the front and to stay there all the way around the track. We’ll play speed in the slop at Charles Town, and in this race, that means betting Backcat to win at 8-1. The bet: Charles Town, Race 5, $30 to win on 8-Backcat.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.