Friday, March 31, 2017

Florida Derby & Louisiana Derby

Gulfstream Park  - April 1st 2017
Race 14 - 6:40 PM
Florida Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $1,000,000
Distance – 1 1/8th Mile
Surface – Dirt

1 - State of Honor
2 - Talk Logistics
3 - Charlie the Greek
4 - Always Dreaming
5 - Quinientos
6 - Coleman Rocky
7 - Unbridled Holiday
8- Impressive Edge
9- Battalion Runner
10 - Three Rules
11 - Gunnevera
This year the first Saturday in April features two great Derbies – the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby! Both feature strong contenders for the Kentucky Derby / Triple Crown – however I’m going to focus on the Florida Derby because of #11 Gunnevera.

Image result for gunnevera
Gunnevera - the Horse we could all be talking about come Kentucky Derby Time

When last we saw Gunnevera he was long striding his way from the rest of the field in a commanding Fountain of Youth Stakes victory here at Gulfstream Park.

In contention with him were also #10 Three Rules (finished 3rd), #2 Talk Logistics (finished 4th), and #5 Quinientos who finished 6th.

See Race Below:

I believe Gunnevera will likely win again here at the Florida Derby – however the odds makers have caught my attention – so let’s take a look at the other horses.

#1 State of Honor – Very solid horse, he will likely take the lead in this race – especially if he breaks well from the Gate. State of Honor recently finished 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby, and unfortunately faded as they came out of the final turn. I think there’s a very good chance State of Honor could finish in the top 3 – but I believe Gunnevera would have to have an off day for State of Honor to win.

#3 Charlie the Greek – is going off at 50-1 – he’s won 2 races in 12 attempts, and finished his last race 4th against lesser competition. If I could talk to the owners I’d tell them -  

GYROutta Your League!!
 (you have to say it out loud)
GYROutta Your League!!
(I know it's awful).

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
is unhappy about the horrible pun.
But more unhappy that he's not
eating Dolmades, Hummas,
Souvlaki and Baklava!!

Moving on from the bad pun -- #4 Always Dreaming is one of the horses that the odds makers have piqued my interest in.  He’s currently going off at 4-1 – he’s the third favorite in this race – his career record is 2 Wins in 4 Attempts – and his last victory was at this distance 1 and 1/8 mile.

And I usually trust the “locals” to have insight on a race like this – however the horse Always Dreaming recently defeated was Charlie the Greek (2nd) -- (you know the 50-1 horse). I wouldn’t be surprised if Always Dreaming drops to the 5th or 6th favorite come race time – either that or I believe he’ll be overbet.

#6 Coleman Rocky – has 1 win in 5 races, he’s going off at 30-1. Wouldn’t surprise me if this horse looked sharp for about a mile and then dropped off.

#7 Unbridled Holiday – has 1 win in 7 races, he’s also going off at 30-1 – he’ll likely run in the middle of the pack, but I doubt he has enough to out run these horses at the end of the race.

#8 Impressive Edge is currently sitting at 12-1, and he recently picked up a victory in an Allowance Outing. He has 2 Wins in 5 Attempts……I’d really like to “like” this horse more – but either he’d have to blossom in this race or everyone else would have to really come out flat for me to believe he can win this one. He feels like bad bettors bait here.

#9 Battalion Runner – First of all, very cool name – he’s currently going off as the Second Favorite (3/1) in this race – he won his most recent outing and he has 2 victories in 3 attempts –

Now for the bad news – Battalion Runner hasn’t raced in 57 days - so I think he could come out a bit rusty. And this is an unfortunate Post Position for him, because I suspect Battalion Runner will want to compete for the early lead – and with 8 horses between him and the rail it could be a very difficult, energy expending, trip for him in first half mile.

#10 Three Rules – is currently sitting at 8/1 and finished third behind Gunnevera in the Fountain of Youth. 

Keep an eye out for the odds on this horse, because I think he’s underbet here. I think he should at least be the third favorite in this one – and while I don’t think he can beat Gunnevera (if Gunnevera is sharp) – I DO think he has a chance of beating everyone else in this race.

How I see the Race:

State Of Honor will look to grab the rail, dictate the early pace and hope (that because he’s taken the shortest trip, against the rail) that everyone in this race is exhausted in the final furlongs and he can steal the race – meanwhile Battalion Runner will hope to make a quick break and stalk State Of Honor and as they come out of the final turn – Battalion Runner will hit the jets, pass up State of Honor and hope that Gunnevera fades, hits traffic behind him or comes out flat.

Gunnevera will likely hang back – patiently let all of the front runners find their spacing, and when the moment is right – Gunnevera will be asked for his full throttle and we’ll see if he’s got it.

I’m guessing he does….and we’ll be talking about his Kentucky Derby odds soon.

Closing Speed likes:  Gunnevera / Battalion Runner / Three Rules

Louisiana Derby

The Louisiana Derby is primarily a rematch from the Risen Star Stakes  and as you’ll see the Favorite Girvin found himself in the Winner’s Circle (see below)

I like Girvin to repeat here –

If I were betting $6 I would go with –

$1 Exacta – Girvin with Patch, Senior Investment and Monaco

And then also the reverse

$1 Exacta – Patch, Senior Investment and Monaco with Girvin. 

Related image

Saturday, March 11, 2017

San Felipe Stakes 2017

Santa Anita
March 11, 2017
Race 5  - 2:04 PM
San Felipe Stakes (Grade II)
Purse – 400,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 – Term of Art
2 – Vending Machine
3 – Ann Arbor Eddie
4 – Mastery
5 – Gormley
6 – Iliad
7 – Bluegrass Envy

There are two solid Kentucky Derby Prep races this weekend – the first is The Tampa Bay Derby – but in my opinion the only horse that will likely be a threat to contend in a Triple Crown Run would be #5 Tapwrit – he enters the Tampa Bay Derby as the favorite and I think he’ll likely chalk up a win in this one…..

However in the last few races I’ve written about – Upsets have been the norm. This could be a year where some horses develop late and it could be a very difficult season to predict!

Now let’s take a look at the San Felipe Stakes which I believe will be a VERY competitive race.

#1 Term of Art – recently finished 4th in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes here at Santa Anita,  he’s a career 2 for 7 and he’s going off at 20-1....I’m not a fan.

#2 Vending Machine – has 3 wins in 8 lifetime attempts – he recently won (on Turf) here at Santa Anita 49 days ago – he’s also going off at 20/1  -- and he’s worth a look if you like the longshots. What I like about this horse is that he showed a lot of poise in his last race….but I don’t think he has enough talent to take on this group.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
loves candy....
but would be concerned if
this Vending Machine
had any "pop" out.
#3 Ann Arbor Eddie – is going off at 8/1 – and has enjoyed 3 wins in 5 Attempts – he was the FAVORITE in his last race the El Camino Real and finished 2nd --- (although due to interference was pushed back to a 4th place finish). – Ann Arbor Eddie will likely look to control the pace at the lead and hug the rail in this one....but he’ll need help to win.

#4 Mastery – last time we saw this horse he was pulling away with a 5 length win in the Cash Call Futurity in Los Alamitos. This horse is Undefeated in 3 lifetime attempts….however it’s also been 91 days since he raced last. He may be the best horse in this one…..but he may not be the best prepared – this could be another race where the favorite looks rusty…..and falls flat.

#5 Gormley – currently going off at 9/5, Gormely is the second favorite in this race.  His career record is 3 wins in 4 attempts …. and he barely squeaked out a victory in the Sham Stakes 63 days ago here at Santa Anita.

Sham Stakes:

I’m certainly impressed with both Gormley and American Anthem  -- they both show great early speed and they both show a LOT of fighting spirit…..certainly two horses to keep an eye on….from what I’m reading it’s likely we’ll see American Anthem in the Rebel Stakes on Mar. 18th.

#6 Iliad – is currently the third favorite in this race going off at 5/2 – he has 2 victories in 3 attempts and unlike Gormely and Mastery, he has raced recently -- putting up a victory in the San Vicente (here at Santa Anita) 27 days ago.

As you watch the video – here are some things I’d like to point out – Iliad is a BEAST – he looks much larger than the other horses when he reels around the 2nd turn, and he's probably still growing! He also has no problems keeping up with a “hot” early pace (21 seconds) and then finishing with ease…….

Also I’d like to add – kudos to ownership for naming him Iliad…..Classical, Mythical…even Horse Related…..I mean who names their prize horses Gormley and Vending Machine??

**Well Gormley at least is a Sculptor...but Vending Machine??

Finally #7 Bluegrass Envy – comes in as the “Super” longshot 50-1….despite excellent bloodlines (Any Given Saturday) and a much better name than Gormley and Vending Machine…..what he doesn’t have is a win….in 5 attempts. He last raced 42 days ago finishing 6th. Young horses like these can surprise, but I think the talent is too deep for him to compete.

Image resultTo me the interesting thing about this upcoming race will be how the horses deal with the early pace – will Gormley and Iliad go full out in the first half mile and not have anything left for the last few furlongs – if that were to happen I think this would help both Vending Machine and Mastery.

However if the pace is more modest (late 23’s) than I think we could see a nail biter between Iliad and Gormley with Mastery closing in at the end.

Closing Speed likes:  Iliad / Gormley / Mastery

If I’m betting $24 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box:  2/3/5/6  = $24

*It’s a pricy bet…but if a long shot pulls off an upset , it could be a solid ticket.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fountain Of Youth Stakes

Gulfstream park  - March 4, 2017
Race 13
Fountain of Youth (Grade II)
Purse - 400,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 –  Hurican Americo
2 – Gunnevera                 
3 – Quiinientos
4 – Talk Logistics                                              
5 – Beasley                                        
6 – Practical Joke                                                                         7 – Three Rules
8 – Irish War Cry
9 –  Made You Look
10 – Takaful
11 – Lookin for Eight

There are two races on March 4th that can help horses punch their ticket to the Kentucky Derby – the first is the Gotham in New York – and after reviewing that race I believe the heavy favorite El Areeb, the stunning grey colt – should find himself in the Winner’s Circle.

(El Areeb -- Means The Wise or The Intelligent)
Image result for el areeb horse

The more interesting race should be the Fountain of Youth  which, for a few of these horses, will be a rematch of the Holy Bull stakes  -- that took place here at Gulfstream Park in February.

The winner of the Holy Bull Stakes was #8 Irish War Cry who is undefeated in three career races – #2 Gunnevera finished 2nd (3 wins /  7 races) and #4 Talk Logistics finished 4th (1 win / 4 races).

Irish War Cry broke out into the lead comfortably and never looked back – he has a powerful finish and deserves to be the favorite in this race.

See Holy Bull Stakes:

However there are three horses that could challenge the Favorite –

#6 Practical Joke – Personally I think this horse is over hyped coming into this race – his odds are 3-1 (making him the 2nd favorite) and he hasn’t raced in 119 days – which was a third place showing in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. That said he has won 3 out of 4 races in his career – I don’t like a young horse coming off this big of a layoff but……they like him locally, and it’s wise to listen to the locals.

#9 Made You Look – Is currently sitting at 10-1 – and I’m definitely looking! Made You Look showed a lot of patience in his last race before turning on the jets in the final furlong to win by a few lengths – this horse has a “primo” starting spot to stalk Irish War Cry and when they come out of the turn – I think Made You Look may have enough fight to pull off an upset – the question is if he can keep up to begin with. He only has 3 wins in 6 attempts – but I like this horse.

#11 Lookin For Eight – Crushed his opponents in his last outing (a 7 furlong race) here at Gulfstream --  Lookin for Eight will also likely look to contend with Irish War Cry for the early lead – again the question is who will have the lead as they enter the final turn?  Lookin for Eight has 1 win in 2 races…..and he’s currently going off at 20-1…….I like those odds a lot – especially for a horse sired by Former Preakness Winner Lookin for Lucky.

Two horses I’m concerned about are - #7 Three Rules  and #5 Beasley.

Three Rules faded at the end of a 7 furlong race, and I just don’t see him contending in this one at all…..but I’m looking at his overall record of 5 wins in 7 races – and I’m concerned he may have just been flat in his most recent outing…..we’ll find out soon. His odds are at 12/1.

Beasley – Was Sired by Shackleford and has only 1 win in 3 races – and he most recently finished 2nd in an allowance race --- however his odds are currently 6/1….which is clearly much better than Made You Look and Lookin for Eight? Somebody’s wrong....and I really hope it isn't Me....again!

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
hears the name
Irish War Cry
and is ready to drink
Jameson Whiskey
and listen to U2!
I’m throwing out –

50/1 - Hurican Americo  (1 win / 2 races)
50/1 – Quiinientos (1 win / 8 races)

Irish War Cry is the son of one of my all-time favorite horses Curlin….and it’s difficult to bet against against an “Irish” horse this close to St. Patrick’s Day and that is absolutely terrible reasoning for handicapping horses.....however -- 

Closing Speed likes:  Irish War Cry / Made You Look / Gunnevera             

If I’m betting $12 on this race I like:
$1 Exacta Box – 8,9,11

$ Exacta Box – 3,8,9