Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Today’s the biggest day of the Gulfstream season: the day of the $16 million Pegasus World Cup! This race is like an all-star game of horse racing, featuring a stacked field of 12, including newly crowned Horse of the Year Gun Runner. First post time on the 12-race program is 11:30 AM EST; the Pegasus World Cup will go off at around 5:35 PM EST.
We’re happy to have Shane Claypool (@SaratogaShaneR) providing free picks & analysis of all 12 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!
The Championship meet will be living up to its name this week, as they have a terrific 12 race card with 8 stakes races in total being highlighted by the 2nd running of the world’s richest race, in the Pegasus World Cup. The other 4 non-stakes races are maiden special weights with deep fields with the top connections in the game being represented, so look for a great day of racing with some great competition.
Last week saw a 4 for 12 day in the win column, however a slight tick down in the ROI with our winners being chalk throughout. On the bright side the SHOT OF THE DAY came through in Starship Jubilee. For the meet my statistics are below and with that said let’s get to the selections for this week.
|Top Selection||21 of 79 or 26.6%|
|ROI (based on $2 win wager for top selection)||0.887|
|Shot of the Day||3 for 7 or 42.9%|
Make note of the early 11:30 a.m. eastern start time for this first race of the day scheduled to be run on the turf at 1 1/16 mile for maiden 3 year old fillies. Shamrock Babe (13) is making his first start for the William Mott barn after showing some late improvement passing others in his first start on a good turf surface at Churchill back on November 11th. Jose Lezcano will be in the irons and has worked with the Mott barn making 192 starts between 2017-18 so with that and a firm surface the reasons are there to expect an improvement at a morning line of 12-1. Smart Shot (12) is coming off a 3rd place at this distance last out and since then has two bullet workouts at Palm Beach Downs over their dirt so if she can battle through the tough post position she will be a major player in this one. Amertume (1) comes out of the Todd Pletcher barn and has top call jockey John Velazquez aboard with a solid workout pattern this filly out of Tapit won’t shock if she fires at first out despite being first our from the one post where things can get a little crammed.
We move to the dirt for a 7 furlong Maiden Special Weight for 3 year old fillies. Although I’m not a huge fan of taking first time starters as I feel that you see such an improvement in race career start 2 and on I found myself liking one in Cache (2) out of the Mark Hennig barn. This Distorted Humor filly was a $500,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale in 2016 and has been working out well over the Gulfstream Park course along with a solid track record from the connections in 1st start (22%) and races on the dirt (15%). I also like that Hennig has been selective so far in the meet only starting 5 however has won 3 of those 5 races so he appears to be placing well. Coach Rocks (9) is a logical choice here and for good reason. She has been knocking on the door her last two and will be cutting back in distance in her 2nd consecutive start at the track and surface with Dale Romans top call jockey taking the mount. Secret Pleasure (7) has been off since November 26th where she finished 2nd in her maiden voyage. She transfers to the Looch Racing Stables barn and we’ve seen Churchill shippers fire well 1st time out this meet so at 12-1 with this being the 2nd career start could be a sneaky play.
The first stakes race of the day is the 49th running of the grade 3 La Prevoyante Handicap set for 1 ½ miles on the turf for fillies and mares 4 years old and up. Apple Betty (7) comes out one of the best sires around in Galileo and has won at this distance twice including last out in the grade 3 Dowager so this one is very logical and should be close to the morning line 7-5 price. Daring Duchess (4) is coming off a win in a stakes race at Gulfstream Park at 1 3/16 and with the Eclipse winning jockey Jose Ortiz in the irons this one this 6 year old Arch mare has wins at the distance and is in good form and will try to pull off the minor upset. Summersault (2) has won her last 3 starts on this turf track so she’ll look to improve off her last out start and will need her best to compete with this field.
The boys make their debut here in race 4 as we move back to the dirt for a 1 mile maiden special weight for three year olds. Life’s a Parlay (13) will have to deal with an outside post but did race third in his first career start with a running line that indicates the following “Hit gate, green, evenly”. Since that start this $725,000 Uncle Mo colt had a solid workout and you can’t look past the connections of Pletcher and Velazquez. My second choice is another Uncle Mo colt in The Green Mo’ster (6). Romans is 16% with maiden 2nd start and Albarado will take the mount which is something he did for Romans 107 times with a 20% win clip in 2017-18. Point to Remember (12) ran a solid first race at Aqueduct finishing 2nd by 2 ¾ lengths so with a little improvement this one could improve into the winners circle in career start number 2.
The early pick 5 ends with the 4th maiden special weight of the sequence as the boys will go 1 1/16 mile on the turf. Empirically (3) is the only horse in this field to have finished past the wire first which he did in his opening debut before being Disqualilfied and placed 2nd. Since they the connections attempted a grade 2 and another stakes race to not much success however after a layoff he ran 2nd so with a little improvement this one should be a major threat plus he has the services of the red hot Luis Saez for this one. Neepawa (6) made his 2nd career start against my top selection and although was disappointing as the favorite in that one this Scat Daddy is coming off a 2nd place finish in a stakes race at Woodbine however that was on the Tapeta surface so perhaps this one is coming into form or is one that is just better suited for that surface compared to the turf. Pintagrane (9) has a start at this distance last out and finished 2nd in that race despite being a little green so at a morning line of 20-1 is one that is worth playing in the exotics.
We stay on the turf for the 9th running of The Ladies’ Turf Sprint set for 5 furlongs in distance. This field looks to be competitive, but I found myself taking Code Warrior (5) as my top choice. This horse won last out in the AbundntiaB75k where a few in this field are also coming out of. This 5-year-old mare is a graded stakes winner and keeps Tyler Gaffalione in the irons for this one. Although Steve Asmussen has bigger runners going in this card Justa Lady (3) is one that looks to be well placed by the barn after a 2nd place finish in a grade 3 last time she was on turf so perhaps the invader from Kentucky will prove to be much the best in this field. Blue Bahia (12) was last seen on opening day winning the Claiming Crown Distaff Dash and will be one that fits in line with the rest of this field however the outside post will be a disadvantage she’ll have to overcome to compete in this one.
The Rainbow Pick 6 starts the day with over $3.6 million in the prize pool and if there isn’t a single winner today will be paid out to all winners on tomorrows card. My top pick for the 1 mile grade 3 Fred W. Hooper comes in the Speightstown colt Eight Town (2) who has been climbing the ladder to this spot winning in his last 3 starting with a maiden special weight followed by an allowance and then an optional claimer at Gulfstream last out. He will be going his longest distance but the workout record and pedigree suggests the 1 mile and with the Gulfstream course the mile will still only be 1 turn so that relieves any issues with making a first start at 2 turns. Conquest Big E (3) will be cutting back in distance after going a 1 1/16 mile last out in the grade 3 Harlan Handicap. Since that race he has a bullet 5 furlong workout of :59 which was best that day. First Growth (5) will be stretching out but has been running well at Gulfstream making his third start of the meet with a 1st and 2nd in stakes company in those 2 previous starts.
The boys try their hand at the 1 ½ mile turf distance in the 51st running of the grade 3 W.L. Mcknight Handicap. Oscar Nominated (7) has finished in the top 2 in 3 career starts at this distance including a grade 3 win at Kentucky Downs and a 2nd place finish on a soft Woodbine surface. With Jose Ortiz in the irons this son out of Kitten’s Joy will look to get legendary owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey into the winners circle on one of the biggest days of the Championship meet. Bullards Alley (5) will be cutting back in distance after finishing a close 2nd in a2 mile turf journey last out on December 30th here at this track so perhaps Gulfstream will be a track this horse does his best running. Nessy (4) comes off of a 2nd place finish at Keeneland at the distance and will be getting the services of Julien Leparoux for the Ian Wilkes barn and perhaps this one can spring an upset with some good workouts coming into this one.
The ladies will kick off the final pick 4 of the day with the 21st running of The Hurrican Bertie, a grade 3 dirt sprint set for 7 furlongs. Marley’s Freedom (1) is a west coast invader who took a little bit of time to get going but since her maiden win at the end of the summer meet at Delmar she has been racing well including a 4th place finish in the grade 1 LaBrea losing by 2 ¾ lengths to recent Eclipse winner for best female sprinter in UniqueBella. On top of that the third place finisher won next out I the grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on January 13th. A general rule of thumb I learned along the way is that a west coast shipper should be upgraded when it comes to the main track and the hope will be that this one can surprise some at the morning line price of 10-1. Curlin’s Approval (7) will be cutting back in distance and is 7 of 11 on the Gulfstream Park dirt course. This Breeders Cup filly and mare sprint participant will look to start her 2018 campaign with a victory as the morning line favorite. Moonlit Promise (11) is another Canadian shipper that will be making her first try on the dirt surface and will do so off a 3 race win streak including multiple graded stakes wins. This 5 year old mare out of Malibu Moon appears to have solid workouts at Palm Meadows and it is encouraging that Gary Boulanger comes down for the mount, the only one he has on the card.
The 9th running of the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint will see 11 runners competing at a distance of 5 furlongs. Pay Any Price (8) is riding a 3 race win streak and is a neck away from being on a 6 race win streak and he knows how to win at Gulfstream winning 8 of his 10 career starts so expect him to try and wire this field in his first start of the 2018 campaign. Successful Native (1) has won his last 2 at this distance including the Janus stakes on New Year’s day. Gaffalione had his choice of a couple mounts and is electing to go with this one so perhaps that can lead to an upset with a morning line price of 15-1. Sir Navigator (5) is one of those that Gaffalione passed on however he is being replaced by Jose Ortiz and the connections of Maker and the Ramsey’s are known for getting their photos taken in the winners circle on days like these.
We wrap up the turf racing of this card with the 7 ½ furlong South Beach stakes for fillies and mares 4 years and up. Celestine (11) is 5 of 8 lifetime on the Gulfstream turf and will be cutting back in distance for this one and this graded stakes winning horse should be tough in this one. Stormy Victoria (9) is the other Christophe Clement trainee that will be hoping a cut back in distance will help get this one on the right track. Ghostly Presence (12) is one of the Canadian invaders that won first time on the Gulfstream Park turf and since that win has had a good workout routine including a bullet workout on the 1st at 4 furlongs. The outside post can be a disadvantage with the first turn coming shortly after the break but if this 4 year old filly out of Ghostzapper can get through that obstacle perhaps she can run at a big 8-1 morning line price.
Finally the time has come, the showcase of this event and perhaps the Championship meet, the 2nd running of the $16 million Pegasus World Championship which will be run on the main turf at a distance of 1 1/8 mile. Although the price isn’t there I have a hard time going away from a horse that has done little wrong in his career in Breeder’s Cup Classic Winner, Eclipse Award winner, and 11 time career winner Gun Runner (10). The race last out in the Classic saw him getting pushed to a half mile in 46.1 and ¾ a mile in 1:10.2 but he was still able to cement his legacy pulling away in the stretch for the victory. This will be his final race of his career and perhaps a race like the classic will take something out of this 5 year old from Candy Ride but he will surely be the one to beat and the one everyone will be coming to see. Collected (5) will look to rebound off of his disappointing 3rd as the heavy favorite in the San Antonio but this 2nd place finisher ran a big race in the classic and before that was the Pacific Classic winner at the Del Mar summer meet and you can never count out Bob Baffert in a big stakes race. Sharp Azteca (4) is a last out winner in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct and ran a close 2nd in the Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile so perhaps this 5 year old out of Freud can get to the lead and take this one wire to wire for the upset victory.
|50¢ Race 1 Pick 5 $40|
|50¢ Race 2 Pick 4 $30|
|Race 5 Pick 4 $30|
|50¢ Race 8 Late Pick 5 $36|
|50¢ Race 9 Late Pick 4 $27|
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