With racing at Aqueduct cancelled for today, I figured I’d take a look at some of the races at Gulfstream. I don’t love betting on Gulfstream, but I’ve come up with picks in three of the maiden races and a handicap later on the card, so I’ll briefly discuss the wagers.
Gulfstream, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at six and one half furlongs
Naturally, Todd Pletcher’s first time starter Cross Traffic is probably going to take a lot of money in this spot and with good reason. Pletcher works wonders with his first time starters at Gulfstream and this one is out of a dam who was a G1-winning sprinter who earned over $800,000. She hasn’t produced much yet, but I’m guessing that this one might be okay. That said, I almost always bet against horses like this because they are so often overbet. I’m taking a shot with Wickersheim (#2), who raced twice in the spring of last year before being laid up. This expensive son of Unbridled’s Song is out of a dam, Sweet Nanette, who was a multiple stakes winner sprinting on the dirt. He now returns in the barn of Martin Wolfson and is getting his first chance to sprint over the surface he’s bred to handle best. In his debut at Keeneland in April he never really had a chance to show what he could do sprinting since he broke very slowly and was not really persevered with by his rider. Next time, he didn’t get the route of ground, but something obviously happened since he’s been away for so long since. I like that he’s placed versus special weight company in the return and think he may offer good value as an alternative to Pletcher.
$10 Win 2
Gulfstream, Race 4: Maiden Claiming $35,000-$30,000 at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for three year-olds
This is the much weaker version of the two divisions of this race on the card and I really don’t want any of the horses who have already run at this level. I was planning on picking Free Range Man, who had some turf pedigree on his dam’s side, but now am left with one other option, and it’s not a bad one: first time starter Aurora Lumiere (#1). This New York-bred’s pedigree is perhaps a bit unfamiliar, but it is strongly geared towards going long on the turf. His sire, North Light, was an Epsom Derby winner, and his damsire, Bering, was a French Derby winner. His dam, Party Girl, won one race on the turf in France before being exported to the U.S. Here, she never won, but did record a best Beyer of 82 on the turf, which means she was a decent racehorse. Party Girl was certainly bred to be more than decent since her dam was a multiple stakes winner on the grass in Germany. Aurora Lumiere should be a big enough price to warrant taking a shot on the best turf pedigree in the race.
$5 Win 1
Gulfstream, Race 9: Starter Handicap $25,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
Game Ball (#3) is as dirtied up a horse as you’ll find. After coming into some excellent form here last winter, he was claimed for $47,500 at Woodbine by Naipaul Chatterpaul. The new connections proceeded to run him in ridiculous spot after ridiculous spot–I mean, his past performances sport names like Boisterous, Flat Out, Fort Larned, and Point of Entry! Despite the bad placings by his owner/trainer, much of the time Game Ball didn’t even run that badly and those efforts in the John’s Call and Laurel Turf Cup would certainly win this race. Now, after getting a much needed break, he’s back in at a realistic class level and distance and is reunited with the rider that took him to success here last season. Between Chosen Empire and Gentleman Jackson, there should be at least some pace, so I like Game Ball to get back in the winner’s circle today.
$10 Win 3
Gulfstream, Race 10: Maiden Claiming $35,000-$30,000 at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for three year-olds
You don’t need to be a genius to see that the two main contenders in here are Ale and Saved the Best. Although Ale has run the better races, Saved the Best (#6) has faced tougher fields and is taking the bigger class drop, so I’ll bet him to win. His morning line odds of 5-1 would be some excellent value. I will primarily use those two, but will also make a small wager on a huge longshot, Keyner Veloz (#10). His horse has shown practically nothing on the dirt, but his pedigree is strongly tilted towards the turf and today he gets his first chance on that surface. His dam ran her best Beyer by about 20 points on the grass and Brahms is primarily a turf sire. Keyner Veloz may have no ability whatsoever, but this is the time that you want to catch horses like this who are finally getting to do what they’re bred for.
$10 Win 6
$5 Win 10