Last season, Rydilluc was an absolute beast on turf running
middle distances. After running a well-beaten 5th in his debut on the
dirt, he bounced back to rattle off three straight victories on the turf,
including a facile score in the G3 Palm Beach. Later in the year, trainer Gary
Contessa stretched him out to 10 furlongs in two consecutive races, but the
colt did not appreciate the extra distance, finishing 8th in the G2
Virginia Derby and 11th in the G1 Secretariat. Off since his poor
Secretariat showing in August, Rydilluc returns in the G3 Canadian Turf Stakes, an event that should be
right up his alley in terms of distance and location. Established as the 6-1
co-third choice, the now 4-year old colt faces a field of 11 other rivals in
his 2014 debut.
Mr. Online—Talk about
excellent recent form. Mr. Online enters on a 3 race win streak, and in his
last 8 starts, he has compiled an 8: 5-3-0 record. That streak includes a
stakes win, a stakes place, and a 2nd in the G1 Neartic. His last
two races have been over this strip at this very distance, and with his rail
draw, he stands a good chance of getting an ideal position early on in the race.
Though he moves up in class, I think he can hang with this bunch.
victim of Dubai, Unbridled Ocean was shelved until last month after traveling
to and competing twice at Meydan. He ran 7th over a sealed sloppy
course after the 8.5 furlong NW3X event came off the turf. He bounced right
back to capture a mile long optional claimer last out. Though he is a perfect
2-for-2 at over Gulfstream’s turf course, I don’t like his speed figures. Pass.
has been off for more than 6 months, Rydilluc returns at a distance and at a
track he really appreciates. He’s undefeated both at Gulfstream and at the mile
distance. His last two efforts prior to his layoff were horrendous, but I think
they just showed that he wanted no part of the 10 furlong distance rather than
he couldn’t compete with the top dogs. I like that Contessa worked him 7
furlongs in his last two published breezes, and I believe he should be fit and
ready to roll.
his previous start, Fredericksburg was just nipped at the wire after showing
the way for the entirety of the race by Admiral Kitten in the John B. Connally
Turf Cup after showing the way for the entirety of the race. He set pretty
pedestrian fractions, getting the half in 50.70, and still couldn’t hold off
Admiral Kitten’s late run. Pass.
Shug McGaughey, Reload is a recent dirt to turf transfer. Last out, he won by 3
when running on the lawn for the first time. Like Fredericksburg, he was able
to click off slow fractions, but unlike that rival, he kicked away for home a
clear winner. His turf works have looked good time wise, and Shug has nice
stats for 2nd time grass starters and 2nd off a layoff starters.
Consider for exotics.
Salto—In his last
two starts, Salto has run second to Canadian Turf rivals Guys Reward and Mr. Online.
He appears perfectly capable of taking down lower levels races, but in stakes
races he has been competitive but never a winner. Many times, he has failed as
the favorite in stakes races. I don’t see his tendency to blow stakes races
North Star Boy—Second
in his last two outings, North Star Boy adds blinkers for the first time. He
has had success at the claiming and allowance levels. Aside from appearing to
like the Gulfstream surface, I don’t think he stands much of a chance here.
Joha—Hands down, Joha’s
best season was his 2-year old season. Since then, he has been competitive in
stakes company, but since his G1 victory in 2012, he has only captured the
Basket Weave Stakes at Belmont Park. He usually races on or very close to the
lead, and he has gotten away with very average splits in many of his races but
hasn’t been able to complete the task. With his outside post, I’ll pass.
Bad Debt—A 7-year
old gelded son of Grand Reward, Bad Debt has always been a consistent type. In
his 48 career starts, he has finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd
thirty-eight times. He was the runaway winner of the Millions Turf Preview, but
then ran 3rd in both the Tropical Turf Handicap and the Sunshine
Millions Turf. I don’t particularly like his post, but I do like his chances to
fill out the exotics.
for more than 5 months, Hampstead Heath drops into this spot off a 5th
place finish in the G1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Prior to that, he ran 2nd
in a pair of Grade 2 events at Woodbine. He makes one run, so the post shouldn’t
hamper his race, though the speed bias might. Longshot alert.
son of Grand Reward out of the same crop as Bad
Debt, Guys Reward has had a very rollercoaster career. He had very
productive seasons in 2010 and 2012 but only raced twice last year. Even though
he has raced at Gulfstream 10 times, he’s never won here. He comes in off a win
in the G3 Tampa Bay, but good form at Tampa Bay Downs doesn’t usually transfer
to good form at Gulfstream. Pass.
Kentucky, Abtaal began his career overseas. Second in his debut, Abtaal
immediately turned around and won at next asking, following that win with one
in a Group 3 stakes. After that, he put in good efforts but did not win again
until shipped to the U.S. Seven to eight furlongs appears to be his ideal
distance, and he’ll be running late, much like he did in his U.S. debut. One to
Overall, the turf has been playing fair throughout the meet. Thirty-nine percent of the pace-setters/pressers have won, with 12% wiring the field. This week, however, the speed bias jumped up to 50%, with 30% wiring the field. Posts 1-3 and 8+ have been the spots to be. Despite the long layoff, I really like Rydilluc in this spot. Last year he had a tendency to act up quite a bit, but I hope to see a more relaxed, more mature version of the colt this year after getting time off to rest and get his act together. I really like Mr. Online’s form and Bad Debt’s consistency. Those three are my top selections, and I’ll throw in Hampstead Heath as my top longshot pick.