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Best Plan Yet heads Gulfstream Park Derby field

Gulfstream Park 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
On New Year’s Day, racing fans get their first glimpse of the newly minted 3-year olds. Though still a relatively new race, the Gulfstream Park Derby is beginning to gain a reputation for getting 3-year olds started on their way to the Kentucky Derby. Though the inaugural running did not produce a Kentucky Derby starter, the winner of the 2013 edition of the race, Itsmyluckyday, went on the run 15th in the Big Dance and then bounced back to run a solid second in the Preakness Stakes. The 2014 edition of the race drew an interesting cast, but whether any of them are truly Kentucky Derby material remains to be seen.
Wildcat Red—(5-1) The winner of two of three starts, Wildcat Red is the younger brother of the millionaire Japan runner Racing Machine. Both of Wildcat Red’s wins have come over the Gulfstream main track, and he in fact crossed the wire first in all three starts but was disqualified for interference in the Juvenile Sprint Stakes. He has yet to race beyond 6 ½ furlongs. He has great early speed, but whether or not he can sustain that for a mile is the question here.
Gone as Wind—(12-1) By Smart Strike and out of the Pulpit mare Super Natascha, Gone as Wind sports an intriguing record. He broke his maiden at first asking, and the runner-up, Early Entry, went on to win next out and is stakes placed. In his second start, Gone as Wind finished third behind the highly regarded Coup de Grace. His breeding cross, Mr. Prospector and his sons/grandsons over Pulpit, has not been particularly useful, but Gone as Wind’s performances to date are worth taking note of.
Enthrone—(15-1) This 2-year old son of Northern Afleet has pretty much tried it all in terms of surfaces in his short career, and the only surface he found to his liking was a sloppy one. Aside from that, his best finishes have come on the lawn, which is hardly surprising as his damsire is none other than Giant’s Causeway. Unless the track comes up sloppy again, this is one I would rather pass on.
Aarons Orient—(3-1) A stakes winner, Aarons Orient had his coming out party this summer at Saratoga. The runner-up that day, Pure Sensation, went on to win next out and then finish second and third in two listed stakes. In Aarons Orient’s most recent start, he had problems early, stumbling at the start and bumping with a rival. He tried to recover himself but just could not overcome the poor start. As Pletcher’s representative in what is becoming known as a stepping stone to Derby point races, you have to give some consideration to the colt, especially if you draw a line through his last start.
East Hall—(10-1) Trained by William Kaplan, East Hall has two wins from four starts at Gulfstream Park, albeit one by disqualification of the winner. The 2-year old gelding has so far done well at the GP Derby distance of one mile, but I think he may be overmatched here.
Pablo Del Monte—(6-1) By Giant’s Causeway, the GP Derby will be Pablo Del Monte’s dirt debut. In three career starts, the chestnut colt is 2-for-2 over Keeneland’s synthetic surface. His third career start, the G3 Generous Stakes on turf, resulted in a close 5th place finish as the even money favorite. One Hot Wish, the colt’s dam, was a synthetics and turf runner, and Pablo Del Monte is her first starter. Breeding indicates a preference for synthetics and turf, but Pable Del Monte’s most recent work was a 4 furlong move over the main track at Gulfstream in 47.2 (7/30). He enters this race well regarded, but how he truly takes to dirt remains to be seen. He will race with blinkers off for the GP Derby.
Best Plan Yet—(5-2) Out of the super broodmare Bayou Plans, Best Plan Yet counts multiple stakes winner Awesome Belle, multiple graded stakes winner on turf and dirt Bayous Lassie, and Grade 1 winner Midas Eyes among his siblings. Out of Hear No Evil, Best Plan Yet has done nothing but boost his distaff family’s reputation. He enters the GP Derby on a two stakes races win streak and has another two runner-up efforts in stakes races on his résumé. The downside here is that this will be his first start at a track other than Calder, and I have learned to be wary of very successful Calder runners transferring to different tracks.
Grand Arrival—(20-1) Trained by Nick Zito, Grand Arrival enters this spot off two dull efforts in graded stakes company. He finished 8th, beaten 21 lengths, in the G1 Champagne, and 7th, beaten by 12 ½ lengths, in the G2 Nashua. After facing some of the nation’s top 2-year olds, the step down in class may help, but I am not convinced. Like Enthrone, the only surface this colt has won on was a sloppy one.
General a Rod—(6-1) One of the more lightly raced prospects in the field, General a Rod is also one of the more interesting. In just two career starts, he has recorded a strong win over Keeneland’s synthetic surface and a strong second in his dirt debut to stakes winner Conquest Titan. He has been working over the Gulfstream track for trainer Mike Maker, and though his works don’t necessarily stand out on paper, they are solid works nonetheless.
Though not an all-star field by any means, it is still early in the careers of these 9 colts and geldings. At this point in 2013, we had no idea who Orb was, let alone that he would go on to win the Kentucky Derby. The same can certainly be said about any of these contenders.
                Top Selections: Best Plan Yet, Wildcat Red, Aarons Orient
                Contenders: Pablo Del Monte, General a Rod, Gone as Wind
                Tosses: Enthrone, East Hall, Grand Arrival 


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Older Comments about Best Plan Yet heads Gulfstream Park Derby field...

Could be a star in the making... ya never know!
sounds like a good betting rsce

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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