Aqueduct won’t be running again until tomorrow, so I figured I’d handicap a few of the races at Gulfstream today in the meantime, especially since one of the “Horses to Watch” from my list is entered.
Gulfstream, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at five furlongs on the turf for three year-old fillies
Distortion (#8) became a member of my “Horses to Watch” list after she never really got a chance to show what ability she may possess at Saratoga last summer. In her debut, she was off a bit slowly and was gaining some momentum coming into the stretch as multiple stakes winner Kauai Katie led the field. Castellano wheeled Distortion to the outside, but she made a right hand turn for the outer rail and completed the race closer to the fans than the rest of the horses. In her next start, Nick Zito equipped her with blinkers, but she was too keen early in the race and faded in the stretch. She obviously did not have her mind set on cooperating with her rider and Nick Zito wisely put her away to work on her. She now returns in a maiden special weight, but on the turf. There isn’t much turf pedigree to find on her dam’s side, but she is likely to get some from Distorted Humor, who can sire a grass runner. I know she has some speed in her, but I would also expect her to be more relaxed without the blinkers. I know she has some speed in her, so I’m hoping we see a more professional racehorse today.
$10 Win 8
Gulfstream, Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for three year-olds
Sweet Mike and Batten the Hatches can certainly win this, but you know what you’re getting with the two of them. I’m going to instead go for two new faces who have the pedigrees to excel at this trip and perhaps prove better than their more experienced rivals.
Tactical Moment (#7) possesses the sort of pedigree that I love. If he takes after his siblings and ancestors, he should be imbued with a great combination of speed and stamina. His dam, Ellie’s Moment, was a stakes winning dirt router who also was able to win on the turf. As a broodmare, she has produced Super Derby (G2) runner-up Awesome Bet as well as the stakes-placed Moment in Dixie, who was brilliant in winning her first couple of starts at Belmont last summer. That’s fine, but it gets better. Ellie’s Moment is a three-quarter sister to Brian’s Time, a winner of the Florida Derby (G1) who became a top sire in Japan. Although raced exclusively on dirt during his racing career, Brian’s Time has shown the ability to sire turf horses and among his progeny is a winner of the Japanese Triple Crown, which is run on grass. Ellie’s Moment is also very closely related to Sunshine Forever, the Eclipse Award winner in 1988 as Champion Turf Horse. Both are out of full-sisters with Sunshine Forever being a son of Roberto and Ellie’s Moment being by his son, Kris S. If you go all the way back to Tactical Moment’s third dam, Golden Trail, you find that she is the direct female ancestress of Dynaformer, Memories of Silver, and her daughter, Winter Memories. This is a top notch turf family and Tactical Moment, by the precocious Tale of the Cat, is bred to be a runner.
Circle City (#5) was very green in his debut and didn’t have much of a chance sprinting again in his next start when stakes winner Clawback dominated that race on the front end. He’s bred to run much farther than six furlongs and has some turf pedigree. This dam, Miss Halory, produced a turf stakes winner in Stormalory, who earned a 90 Beyer in winning the Transylvania Stakes (G3) over the turf a few years ago. We see Kiaran McLaughlin do this so often with his maidens going to turf for the first time and it would be no surprise to see Circle City win his turf debut in a complete form reversal.
$10 Win 7
$5 Win 5
Gulfstream, Race 8: Optional Claiming $25,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares
Authenticy (#2) was solid if unspectacular in her return and has every right to move forward today in her second start back from the layoff. Yet even if she doesn’t quite run back to that race she can probably still win since this field is sorely lacking in good dirt form. She proved her quality a couple of years ago at Saratoga when she finished second in an allowance race behind the once promising Kinda Spicy and bettered that figure last time. Of course there are concerns with a six year-old mare who has made only four career starts, but there is just no one else to go to here with possible exception of Evening Surprise (#1). Evening Surprise has not yet run fast enough to win this race, but Shug McGaughey is notorious for taking his time with these types. He gave her some easy races at Monmouth, Laurel, and Tampa to start her career and it appears that now he’s buckling down and getting serious with her. She has the advantage of drawing the rail and she possesses enough early speed to be forwardly placed early. As a half-sister to Don’t Get Mad, winner of the Derby Trial (G3), there is potential for better and I see her as the only one capable of giving Authenticity a tussle.
$10 Exacta 2-1 (WINNER; Payout: $39.00)
$5 Exacta 1-2