It may be still winter, but the biggest horse race of the year kicks off Saturday with 12 horses and 12 million dollars. The race between California Chrome and Arrogate may have the commercials and the hype, but this is a loaded card with some great racing.
I love 7 furlong races, it’s that magic number that seems to separate both the sprinters and the long distance routers. Those connections and horses that thrive here are few and far between. We start the day with our first Top Tier Single in the 2 HOMESPUN HERO. Michael Maker and Jose Ortiz have this horse ready to go and he should get a great trip from the 2 whole. There is quite a bit of speed to his outside, but the advantage here is quite large. An impressive 12.08 HEP (High Effeciency Pace) figure is clearly the top in the race. Our second pick the 4 WAVE WARRIOR is the only other horse with an HEP figure over 5 and is still a measly 6.04 in comparison. The pace will come from the far outside in the 10 FAST FRIAR and he will have a shot to get out and hold on, the 5 VISIONARY RULER will likely head out front as well. In the end we have 5 total contenders in this race, but one simply stands out.
Our first shot at the Gulfstream Turf for the day, this one seems to be a bit wide open with four solid contenders that don’t separate themselves much in this field. Our top pick 6 DREAM DANCING, doesn’t have the greatest connections in the race nor have they finished in the money in their last three races, but this may be the best horse in this field. We may actually get a decent price on this 7-2 ML, I have a feeling that the Pletcher/Saez connection the 2 GRATEFUL hasn’t done much wrong will take quite a bit of money and may end up being the favorite in this smaller field. The 2 is my second pick of the day, but I don’t see much value here if the money follows the connections.
Another eight horse field and another fairly open field with 4 contenders. The 5 YOU BOUGHT HER comes out on top and at a decent price of 4-1 ML. Having finished 2nd three consecutive times, this is a horse that may improve moving out the extra furlong. A double + pace rating and the 2nd best HBD Late Pace figure along with an impressive 10.15 HEP figure tells us that this should have more turning down the stretch in a race that may be pressed pretty quick. Our second pick the even money morning line favorite 3 CURLINS APPROVAL will have every chance to win this race.
A nice long 9 furlong turf with a wide open field, 8 contenders in a field of 13 is nothing easy to handicap and this winner could come from quite a few different places. Our top pick comes from the far outside, the 13 JAUNT with Jose Ortiz on the mount will drop back and likely have to overcome a wide trip, but seems to be the most talented of the bunch. He won’t likely get a perfect let alone a good trip here so he will have to run his best even to beat what looks like one of the weaker fields for the day. With that we could see a price come home here, our top late pace horse the 3 STAR MAVEN should be coming home strong and may get a shot if he finds the running room.
First of all the Poseidon Handicap is just a great name for a race! But this one looks to be a 1 man show with Pletcher and Johnny V mounting the even money favorite 4 STANFORD. Not much to say from this one time Kentucky Derby horse. Coming off a nice win here on this turf just a month or so ago he looks to be the class of the field and doesn’t have any excuses looking him in the face. If he loses here it won’t be because of something out of his control. I would keep my eye on the 7 PAPA ZULU who is a nice 20-1 morning line. An HBD late pace figure of 102.6 is nearly unheard of in a quality field and he should be flying late. I don’t know if he can find a way up to the win, but he has to be part of your backend exotics.
Three year olds on the turf going 9 furlongs = huh? This is one of those races where I want to find some value and it is going to be out there. Anytime the ML favorite is sitting at 4-1 if you can find the winner it will likely pay well.
Another nice short five-furlong turf spring with quite a bit of speed right in the middle of the field, this one is going to be fun to watch. The 12 EVERYTHING LOVELY is our top pick coming from the outside isn’t idea, but Javier Castellano should be able to find his way with this talented horse. One interesting horse in this field is the 5 ARTESIAN who seems to be making an interesting move making a big drop in distance. This horse has flashed some speed back at Presque Isle early this fall, nothing to throw the bankroll at but something to keep your eye on at a huge ML price.
Five first time starters going 7 furlongs in a less than impressive field. I am going to go with a First Timer here but it wont’ be the Pletcher / Velazquez ML favorite, instead I am looking to the 5 EASTPORT at 15-1 from Claude McGaughey’s barn and with Jose Ortiz up top. Our top FTS in this field has looked good and may get a shot in this field. The other Pletcher horse the 11 COMMANDEERING is our next pick and is still looking at some nice value. Another nice FTS who could show some value here is the 13 RUN FOR THE CUP, a solid Romans / Lanerie connection and a pedigree that you can’t argue with.
Yet another five-furlong turf sprint and this one includes a solid field, I am going to play against the favorite and take a shot with the inside post that doesn’t break well…LOL, always a recipe for success? The 1 RAINBOW HEIR got a horrible draw, but is still the class of the field in a big race. The 11 POWER ALERT is another horse to keep an eye on in this field who will be coming strong from the outside and has looked great in his last few starts. A longshot that I am going to keep my eye on here is the 12 INCENSED who has a nice pace loko here on this field and could get a nice run at the leaders with the outside post.
After a nice short sprint in the previous race we have a field going 12 furlongs in the 10th. Anytime you have a field where every single entry except for one is stretching out and adding at least a two furlongs and that one is the morning line favorite who hasn’t finished worse than 2nd in his last five races. To top that off, his last two races he has lost both by less than a length and may still be improving after moving to the US. The 7 ARLES is our top pick and really seems to be the cut of this field. The 12 SUFFUSED is the only other horse in this field that we will be using on our horizontals. Many will be making a move to go deep here, but this is the race that I will make my stand in the pick4.
Another 12 furlong turf affair, this is the one that I will be playing pretty deep. The 10 MR MAYBE is our top pick and deservedly so, this Chad Brown horse ran a monster back at Saratoga this summer at 13 furlongs an anything close to that he is in the winner’s circle. That being said, he has had some rouf races as well, finishing 4th last time out on the yielding turf at Belmont and a horrible 7th at Monmouth before the big win at Saratoga. The 4 DANISH DYNAFORMER may be the best value here at 5-1 ML and coming off a rally nice 2nd place finish last time out.
Other than horizontal exotics, I likely won’t be playing this race, but I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to watching it. Sit back and watch two of the best horses alive take on each other. The 12 CALIFORNIA CHROME is technically our top pick, but the 1 ARROGATE is right behind him. I really don’t see anyone else coming from elsewhere. That being said it wouldn’t surprise me if one of these top two fell out of the money while the other one won.