Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, February 24, 2018
It’s a 13-race behemoth of a card this Saturday at Gulfstream Park! There’s two stakes races: the Texas Glitter Stakes, for turf sprinters, and the Hal’s Hope Stakes, for older horses going a mile. The first race is scheduled for 12:00 PM EST.
We’re happy to have Shane Claypool (@SaratogaShaneR) providing free picks & analysis of all the races! Based at Canterbury Park, Shane is a very sharp handicapper, and we’ll be featuring his picks & analysis of Gulfstream Saturdays throughout the championship meet! Be sure to give him a follow on twitter when you can.
Good luck to everyone playing along out there!
Another Saturday is upon us, and Gulfstream Park has a card that guarantees not to disappoint, as they will have 13, yes 13 races highlighted by the grade 3 Hal’s Hope. Last week was a little bit of a struggle, as the Shot of the Day finished 2nd and we were only able to find 2 winners out of the 12 race card. The statistics for Saturdays at Gulfstream Park are blow. Let’s see if we can end February on a high note and get to the handicapping.
|Top Selection||31 of 127 or 24.4%|
|ROI (based on $2 win wager for top selection)||0.81|
|Shot of the Day||5 for 11 or 45%|
Our day begins with a 1 1/16 mile maiden $20,000 on the turf. Electro (1) will be making a major class drop from his previous 2 outings in the championship meet as he’ll be coming from maiden special weight to maiden $20,000 and although that is discouraging that the connections are willing to let this one go after running 3rd three races back at Aqueduct it does appear the races he was coming out of were with horses that have gone on to win since. Tyler Gaffalione remains in the irons taking this mount over some others which is encouraging. Signature Twirl (5) will look to make an improvement off his last start at Gulfstream Park after coming from Woodbine where we’ve seen some success this meet with horses coming off the Tapeta surface to the turf. Panama Papers (3) will be dropping form the maiden $35,000 level for the Todd Pletcher barn and has been running competitively hitting the board in his last 2. Leading jockey Luis Saez will retain the mount and with the added ½ furlong this one perhaps could break the maiden in career race 11.
We move to the dirt for a claiming $6,250 N3L set to be run at a mile. King Power (5) has ran his last 4 races at this level and has hit the board in two of the four including a victory 3 back. This 4 year old gelding out of To Honor and Serve is one that should get the lead and that is always an advantage with the short stretch run Gulfstream has while Saez and Armando De la cerda are 26% in 53 races from 2017-18. Hangry (1) will need to run like he did 2 back but has shown better form after getting the services of Miguel Angel Vasquez and although King Power should be in the lead he has shown a history of stopping and not finding the wire and perhaps this one can benefit and pull off the upset at a morning line of 10-1. Salutation (8) will be going the longest he ever has on the dirt after being primarily on the turf the last few races out and will be dropping to the lowest tag to date.
The fillies will travel 7 ½ furlongs on the turf for a claiming price of $16,000 N2L. Here is where I found my SHOT OF THE DAY in Samurai’sfirstlady (9). This 4 year old filly broke her maiden last out at this distance in a maiden $20,000 claiming race and although it may be tough facing winners for the first time this one was claimed by a trainer who is 42% first off the claim and will have the services of one of the better turf jockeys in Irad Ortiz Jr. This one has shown consistent early speed and Irad will look to take this one gate to wire. Plein Air (1) is coming off of back to back 2nd place finishes and was claimed last out when running at this level by Angel Rodriguez who is 36% 1st off the claim. This one will also be cutting back in distance and obtaining the services of Saez. Grace’s Drama (8) has shown speed that is comparable to that of Samurai’sfirstlady and will be cutting back in distance while dropping in for a claiming tag after the connections thought highly enough to try stakes and optional claiming company after breaking the maiden at the $25,000 claiming level.
We go a mile on the turf for race 4 for an optional claiming $25,000 in race 4. I’m going down the rabbit hole a 2nd time taking one that finished 2nd for me as my top choice back on February 3rd in Little Baltar (6). After finishing 2nd last out on a good turf surface he was claimed, and it is encouraging the connections are going to move him up where he will run for a tag of $25,000. This one has been in good form and is a six time winner. Matanzas Inlet (4) is coming off a win last out at this distance and is one of two coming out of the Maker barn and has Gaffalione electing to ride this one over Bingo Kitten. Bingo Kitten (2) will be cutting back in distance and although he is not getting the services of Gaffalione the replacement isn’t too shabby in eclipse award winner Jose Ortiz.
We move back to the dirt for a maiden $25,000 to be run at 6 furlongs. Quickluckycoco (3) has the most familiarity with this distance on the dirt surface. He has shown speed and with many of the other logical horses coming from turf we’ll see if the experience can be beneficial and lead to a victory. Y’all (1) is coming back to the dirt after racing at this distance 2 back after trying the turf for the first time last out. In addition this filly will be dropping in class which the connections will hope gets the job done in career start 7. Return (7) will be trying the dirt for the first time and showed speed last time out on the turf before fading late. Barboza Jr. is 42% on the turf/dirt angle so this one could be live in this one.
Our first stakes race of the day comes here in the 5 furlong Texas Glitter for 3 year olds set to be run on the turf. Todd Pletcher is known for having big days on the biggest days in the game and so I went with one of his entries as my top choice in Salmanzar (1). This one will be trying turf for the first time but it has to be encouraging that John Velazquez is electing to ride this one over the morning line favorite Barbarossa who draws right next to him for this one. Barbarossa (2) will be cutting back and going 1 turn for this one after finishing a close 2nd last out at 7 ½ furlongs. Javier Castellano will get the mount and this colt out of More Than Ready has the turf experience to compete with this group. Reed Kan (6) has won at this distance winning an optional claimer 75k 2 back in his only turf start of his career. This one has shown early speed and the sire Kantharos has shown versatility in his foals to run well on turf and dirt.
We’ve got a 6 furlong claiming $6,250 in race 7. Mitos Y Leyendas (5) is my top choice in what appears to be a pretty open race as are most for these low level claimers. I think the form has been improving and is running for the 2nd time after a layoff while retaining the services of Edgar Zayas. Wild Mongolia (11) will be dropping back in class and was only beat by 1 ¾ lengths 2 back at the 6 ½ furlong level. Last out at the $12,500 level proved to be a little too much but back at this level could prove to be the right combination but this one will have to fight an outside post. Starship Apollo (10) is a popular name in the claiming box as he has been claimed 2 straight and will hopefully find some luck with the new barn in Jose Velez who is 21% for the meet.
The Rainbow pick 6 will start here with a 6 furlong maiden claiming race. The pick 6 will have a carryover of $1.4 million coming into Saturday’s card. Somewhatoptimistic (7) showed speed last out at 6 ½ furlongs and is dropping to the lowest price tag to date while running for a barn that’s 19% this meet in Armando De la cerda. Flirty (9) is dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming after two races that did not show much. Pletcher is a whopping 30% at this angle and Saez maintains the mount. Written (14) will be taking to the dirt for the first time and will need to deal with the outside post but perhaps a switch to this surface will get this filly in her best form to date.
The $250,000 guaranteed late pick 5 being here in race 9 with a 1 1/16 mile $16,000 claimer on turf. Ray’s the Bar (9) won last out at this distance at the claiming n3l level and will be making his first start for the Milton Wolfson barn who is 25% first time off the claim. Encouraged by Jose Ortiz staying in the mounts and the form prior to this victory includes two close 2nd at this distance so this one should be a real threat. Ousby (3) is coming out of the same race as my top pick in race 4 where Ousby finished 3rd to Little Baltar on a good surface. This gelding has been on a good turf surface his last two races and last time running on a firm track was a victory at this level at the mile distance. If Little Baltar gets the victory in the 3rd then you may need to consider upgrading this one in this spot. Beyond Smart (6) has early speed and will try to get a loose lead and maintain enough in the tank for the owner and trainer Michael P De Paulo and Gaffalione will remain in the irons.
The late pick 4 begins with a tough 7 furlong maiden special weight on the main track. King Zachary (1) is one that has been training well for Dale Romans since his maiden voyage back in November at Churchill Downs where he finished 3rd to a next out winner and comes from a solid pedigree being out of Curlin and in a race full of quality first time starters the experience may be the edge needed to get the win. Ruler of the Nile (7) is a first time starter out of the Todd Pletcher barn with top call jockey Velazquez taking the mount. This son of Pioneer of the Nile went for $1,000,000 last year in the OBS March sale so there are big expectations for this one. Ark in the Dark (13) is one that may run better than the 12-1 morning line as he has been training well at Palm Meadows and the Kelly Breen barn does have success first out winning at 18%.
We’re back on the turf with a 7 ½ furlong claiming 16,000 n3l. Zefiro (4) will be cutting back in distance for new trainer Robert Dibona who is 32% first time off the claim. Uncle B (6) will be making a start for new barn and will get the services of Irad Ortiz and will be making his first start as a gelding and his races seem to fit in with this group. Speedy Slew (11) will look to overcome the outside post for Michael Trombetta with Edgar Zayas in the irons after finishing 3rd last out at this level and distance.
The feature race of the day comes in the 1 mile grade 3 Hal’s Hope on the main track. I’ll look at taking Malagacy (6) here in this one. This is a grade 2 winner while on the derby trail and although this one didn’t make it to Churchill for the first Saturday I May he is making his 2nd start after a long layoff and although he was beating last out that race may have been a prep for this one as the added distance is where this horse has done well and comes from a barn that is known for winning big races and Javier Castellano has been with this 4 year old colt out of Shackleford for all of his career starts. Conquest Big E (3) will be making his third attempt in the Championship Meet to get a grade 3 victory after finishing a close 2nd last out in the Fred Hooper so perhaps the 3rd time will be the charm for this 5 year old gelding from Tapit. Irish War Cry (1) was last years Holy Bull winner and had his eyes set on winning the run for the roses but was unable to take the wet track at Churchill finishing 10th. Since that time this 4 year old colt out of Curlin ran some big grade 1 races in the Belmont, Haskel, and Pennsylvania Derby where he was unable to find a win but hopefully the freshening and the start of the 4 year old campaign will get this one back to the winner’s circle.
The card will conclude with a 1 mile turf maiden special weight event. Zephan (6) will be making career start number 2 and is trying the turf for the first time as this Ontario bred ran a on the Tapeta course at Woodbine and showed some early speed so we’ll look for improvement with the first start of the 3 year old campaign to lead to a victory. Vegas Kitten (9) is a first time starter out of the Chad Brown who wins 18% first time out and 26% 1st time on the turf and the pedigree of Kitten’s Joy is known for being able to run on the grass. The Green Mo’ster (2) has talent coming out of Uncle Mo but has yet to show it in two career starts so the trainers will try this one out on the turf and they obtain the top jockey in the meet in Luis Saez.
|50¢ Race 1 Pick 5 $36|
|50¢ Race 2 Pick 4 $18|
|50¢ Race 6 Pick 4 $30|
|50¢ Race 9 Late Pick 5 $45|
|50¢ Race 10 Late Pick 4 $27|
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