Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park is highlighted by the Grade 3 Holy Bull, a key race on the road to the Kentucky Derby. That race, however, is just one part of an intriguing late Pick Four sequence, one that begins in the ninth of 12 races on the program.
It’s not an easy wager to hit. The fields are large, and there aren’t many horses that figure to be heavy favorites. I’ll look to take it down with a $36 ticket, and here’s how I’ve put it together.
Spreading the ticket to start
The ninth race is an allowance optional claiming event that looks much more like a stakes race. Many classy runners come in off of long layoffs, including several stakes winners and stakes-placed runners.
I’m going four deep, and my top pick is No. 7 War Stopper. Trainer Todd Pletcher is winning at an incredible clip this meet, and this son of Declaration of War loves Gulfstream Park. His lone defeat in three local starts came in the Grade 3 Ghostzapper, after which he was off for nearly three months. He comes in with three straight bullet workouts at Palm Beach Downs, and if he’s right, I think he’s got a big chance.
I’ll also use No. 5 Coastal Defense, No. 9 Prevalence and No. 12 Candy Man Rocket. Prevalence in particular fascinates me. He was seen as a potential Kentucky Derby horse after two big wins early in the 2021 season. However, he went to the sidelines after misfiring in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial and Grade 2 Pat Day Mile. He’s working well, though, and we know he loves this track.
Two deep in the Sweetest Chant
The tenth race is the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant for 3-year-old fillies going long on the turf. It looks like a fun betting race, but I’ll try to zig where others zag by using just two runners.
No. 6 Ocean Safari hits me as the most likely winner. She ran a big race in the Ginger Brew on New Year’s Day, when she led in the stretch but was passed late. That was her first start off a bit of a freshening, and I think she could be sitting on a step forward here.
No. 4 Ambitieuse, meanwhile, has a very intriguing profile. She broke her maiden over Gulfstream’s synthetic surface last time out. That race didn’t come back very fast on figures, but her two recent turf works are eye-catching. Graham Motion trainees aren’t usually asked for much in the mornings, and this one is bred to be any kind. I think there’s talent here and that she has a big chance at a square price.
Prepping for the Derby with Holy Bull
I profiled the Grade 3 Holy Bull earlier this week, so I won’t rehash all the details here. In a nutshell, I think No. 2 Mo Donegal is vulnerable at what will likely be a short price. I’ll go three deep using top pick No. 9 Giant Game, as well as No. 4 Simplification and No. 8 White Abarrio.
Confusing claimer ends the day
We’ll finish off the Saturday program with a $16,000 claiming event for older turf horses. The likely favorite breaks all the way to the outside, but while I’m using that one, I think there are others to consider.
No. 12 Mo Ready has a ton of back class. He was third in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in October of 2020 but went winless in six starts last year. This is a significant class drop made by aggressive connections, and if he can overcome the far outside draw, he’ll loom large in the nightcap.
No. 3 Boru and No. 10 Vettori Kin present interesting alternatives. The former makes his first start for new trainer Peter Walder, one of the best trainers on this circuit with new acquisitions. Meanwhile, the latter is a stone closer in a race with lots of early speed. He’ll make his first start for new conditioner Martin Drexler, who’s had plenty of success so far at this stand.
R9: 5, 7, 9, 12
R10: 4, 6
R11: 4, 8, 9
R12: 3, 10, 12