Handicapping the Hutcheson Stakes

February 03, 2014 10:00am
General a Rod GPD 615 X 415
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Though it doesn't carry any Road to the Kentucky Derby points under the current system, the G2 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park has in the past been used as a launching point for future Derby contenders. This year's edition drew a competitive field of ten that includes a few that we could see stretch out in future races. Over the past decade, the favorites have done well in this race, finishing in the top 3 80 % of the time. During that same time period, trainer Todd Pletcher has accounted for half of the winners, and jockey John Velazquez has been aboard four winners during that span. Pedigree Power's Laurie Ross and I review this year's field. 


Spot—(Pulpit - Quiet Summernight, by Quiet American) makes his three year old debut in the Hutcheson Stakes.  In his first race over dirt, the pretty gray colt rewarded his connections with an 8 ½ length win. He has some speed and prepped with two five furling works in 1:00.  With Quiet American and Travers Stakes hero General Assembly on his distaff side, Spot has a pretty good distance pedigree. He’s breaking from the one post in the Hutchenson and may need to use early speed to secure a position in what looks to be a race filled with plenty of pace. Run, Spot, run!
Spot—gets a healthy dose of stamina from both halves of his pedigree and is one that I believe could go longer later on down the road. He showed drastic improvement in his 4th start when switching dirt, and I am honestly surprised it took his trainer so long to make that switch considering his pedigree. His works over the Gulfstream track have been solid. I don’t like the post, but I think he’s in with a chance.
Pablo Del Monte—(Giant's Causeway - One Hot Wish, by Bring the Heat)  was a ho hum fourth in the Gulfstream Park Derby. Given his breeding, I expect that he’ll be better over the turf. His dam was a winner on turf and Polytrack.  The colt gets a rider switch to Paco Lopez, who may hustle him out of the gate to contest the pace.  Ehhhh.
Pablo Del Monte—I didn’t see anything in the Gulfstream Park Derby to recommend him in this spot. He gets another shot on dirt, but based on pedigree and past performances, this one needs to be switched back to turf or synthetics. No, thanks.
Mighty Brown—(Big Brown - Mighty Martha, by Chester House)  followed up his maiden win with a victory in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa. Toss out his trip over the synthetic track at Ocala eleven days ago.  Mighty Brown may press the pace, but I don’t think he’s up to it, class wise. Note that trainer Tim Ice is 0-17 in graded stakes.  Mighty Brown is also getting another jockey switch. He’s had six different riders in ten starts.  Pass.
Mighty Brown—I adore the Brownie babies, but I have been burned by them enough times to resemble a discarded pan of overdone biscuits. He recently had two nice wins at Tampa Bay, but I’m not buying what he’s selling.
C. Zee—(Elusive Bluff - Diamondaire, by Distorted Humor) has hit the board in all three of his starts, including a second place finish in the Spectacular Bid. His Brisnet speed figures have improved in every start, indicating that the colt is on the upswing.  Toss in a strong four furlong breeze at Calder and we have a logical contender. C. Zee’s dam and two of her half siblings are stakes placed and this is the female family of two-time Champion Sprinter Housebuster.  C. Zee may sit off a hot pace and make his move in the stretch.  Contender.
C. Zee—This is a colt that has shown a fondness for the Gulfstream track. On the distaff side, his pedigree screams sprinter and has a nice dose of class. He put in a strong half-mile breeze on January 25, something you always like to see when heading into a race. Definite contender.
Wildcat Red—(D’wildcat—Racene, by Miner’s Mark) Is a narrow head away from being undefeated. After strongly battling through the stretch of the Gulfstream Park Derby, the tenacious colt was caught on the wrong end of a head bob. He shortens up a furlong for the Hutcheson. The colt doesn’t need the lead to win, but his three furlong “lung opener” in his last breeze should have him on his toes.  Major Contender.
Wildcat Red—There is nothing here to dislike. He put in a huge effort in the Gulfstream Park Derby to just miss in a close decision. He shortens back up here which is a bit surprising as I thought trainer Garoffalo might continue to stretch him out to see if he has a legit Derby contender. Will probably go off favored over this bunch, and why not?
Gambler’s Ghost—(Ghostzapper - Beauty and Style, by Two Punch)showed his fondness for the Gulfstream strip with a haunting five length maiden win on New Year’s day.  The colt flashed speed in that race, hitting the five furlong marker in :57 flat.  He’s posted two nice post-race breezes.  This is a class jump but I think he has a shot.
Gambler’s Ghost—This is one that I think needs the lead. He didn’t do much while sitting off the pace in his debut, but he came right back to wire the field over this track in his second start. As an interesting side note, he’s a half-brother to Bullybullybully who was featured on the show Jockeys. As Laurie said, this is a class jump, but I think he’s worth a gamble.
Long On Value—(Value Plus - Long Message, by Orientate) flashed precocious speed last summer in a state-bred and listed stakes. However, he got a reality check in the Hopeful and Champagne Stakes.  He’s lowered his sights a bit here and has :21 and change speed. He’s been working steadily for his three year old debut, but I think he’s in tough here. Long on Value will certainly live up to his name if he wins.
Long On Value—takes a class drop into this spot after being drummed in back-to-back Grade 1 events against the top dogs of the division. Other than his jockey and trainer, I don’t see anything I like here. I think I’ll pass and wait for him to prove me wrong.
Trail Blaze—(Indian Charlie—Trusty Lady, by Deputy Minister) gets a do-over after his less than blazing performance in the Spectacular Bid, where he was off slow and finished a zip code away from the winner.  The colt is a half to a stakes placed sprinter and his second dam Klassy Kim was a multiple graded stakes winning sprinter. The Pletcher trainee fired a bullet five furlongs in his last breeze. You know he’ll be ready to run. Contender.
Trail Blaze—You can’t ignore a Pletcher trainee at Gulfstream…that’s been my motto for several years. He ran unimpressively in the Spectacular Bid, but I’m willing to put a line through that effort. Contender.
Tashir—(Afleet Alex—Twin Induction, by Slewacide) had a break-through performance in his first race of the season, dominating Calder allowance runners by over nine lengths just 15 days ago.  Don’t discount him because he’s a Calder horse, he owns the highest late-pace speed figure in the field. Tashir is a half to a stakes placed runner and his dam is a half sister to the miler A P Adventure, winner of the  LasVirgenes (G-1). Ok, so his trainer is only hitting with 2% winners in graded stakes, but I think this horse has some upside. Salute!
Tashir—Won by daylight at this distance last out at Calder. I’m on the fence about this one. He’s shown improvement lately, but his losses at Delaware Park make me question his class. He put in a “meh” work on Jan. 11, but trainer Dorochenko brought him back out two days later and he drilled a bullet 5 panels. May be looking at fool’s gold here.
Vinceremos—(Pioneerof the Nile—Kettle’s Sister, by More Than Ready) received a real schooling in his last race, after being bumped at the start and steadied during the race. He was still up to win the one mile maiden race by a length. The Pletcher trainee is cross-entered in the Sam F. Davis.  The far outside post is a tough spot for a lightly raced colt, especially in a sprint. He might be better off shipping to Tampa.
Vinceremos—Another Pletcher trainee, another one to consider. Both starts have come at Gulfstream, and I’m willing to bet he learned quite a bit in his last start. He drew a better post and gets more distance in the Sam F. Davis, but after what he showed last time, I believe he could overcome his far outside post at Gulfstream. Considering his insanely high Dosage Index, which incidentally matches another Pioneerof the Nile baby in Cairo Prince, and lack of noticeable speed in both the mornings and afternoons, I have to agree with Laurie. Ship to Tampa and forego the sprint.



LaurieThere are six in here who might hit the board, depending on the pace scenario. I’ll go with Wildcat Red, C. Zee, Spot and Tashir.


Ashley: My top pick here is Wildcat Red as he stands out even in this competitive field. I'll fill out my exotics with Spot, C. Zee, and Trail Blaze.



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Older Comments about Handicapping the Hutcheson Stakes...

Gamblers Ghost for Eddie K.,and if his price doesn't suit. Look inside and hit the "SPOT"
Wildcat Red/Vinceremos/C. Zee
Wondering if Pablo Del Monte can bounce back at the shorter distance.
yes border to border signs of Drive Friendly and they never did there
Love the format and appreciate the commentary on the contenders, ladies! Y'all did a nice job. (My Texas roots are showing.) ;)

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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, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few 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 befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering 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. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. 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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