As you watched the earlier races on the Saturday Gulfstream Park card you knew that the 85+ degree temperature was aiding a sun-backed, tight surface which favored speed all day long. In fact, if your horse wasn’t within two lengths of the pace setter at the first call, you had no chance at the win spot. Very key bias to keep in mind as we look back at these preps two months from now.
As expected, the pace came up super hot in the Hutcheson with Travelin Man doing all the early running while Flashpoint and Royal Currier tracked his every step. Despite the speed bias this day, Flashpoint put on the most impressive performance of the day. After cutting hot fractions and then drawing away, it makes you wonder if the Beyer Figure and the BRIS pace/speed rating earned in his Maiden victory was a complete fluke. To check that possibility, I pulled up Simba’s Story’s BRIS speed ratings (horse that finished second to Flashpoint in his debut maiden win) for his three career races run at Aqueduct. Here’s what I found:
12/11 -- 6 Furlongs 3rd Place Finish BRIS Speed Rating = 91
1/15 -- 6 Furlongs 2nd Place Finish to Flashpoint – BRIS Speed Rating = 73
2/13 – 5.5 Furlongs 1st Place Finish BRIS Speed Rating = 95
So, this tells me something is definitely out of whack with the Jan. 15 figures. Wish I did this research before the Hutcheson!
After his maiden win, all the connections were saying Flashpoint is a sprinter through and through and would be pointed to sprint stakes races all year and especially those run at Saratoga. After the impressive Hutcheson victory, however, the connections have caught a little Derby fever so don’t be surprised to see this one in the Florida Derby next. Derby contender or Derby flash in the pan? You make the call. I say go for brilliant sprinter.
What a tale of two paces when it came to the Hutcheson and the Fountain of Youth. To no fault of his own, Soldat simply inherited the early lead on a surface, oh, so kind to any horse that stepped out of the gate first. While this was a useful prep, it was a walk in the park for Soldat. So, give him credit for showing he can handle a fast track and with two 1 1/8 victories under his saddle strap, he’s building a nice foundation going into the Florida Derby. He’ll be rating behind speed in that one and we’ll see if he can muster a stronger late kick than he did while holding off Gourmet Dinner in the final yards of the FOY.
Given the soft pace and speed bias, I have to upgrade Gourmet Dinner’s performance here. I don’t see him as a Derby contender just yet, but he leads the class, in my opinion, when it comes to the second tier competition and looks the type that will always give you a gutsy performance.
Bowman’s Causeway clearly had the worst trip of any prep runner on this day. (Look for a big move forward in his next effort.) He got whacked hard at the start and then had to steady off the heals of Shackleford coming into the far turn losing some valuable momentum on a surface that clearly didn’t favor his closing style. Clean trip puts him past To Honor and Serve at the wire. The latter really disappointed and if To Honor and Serve truly has only one more prep on his dance card, I would say some of the luster is off this gem. We knew he needed a race, but the soft pace and bias should have yielded a better performance. With only six works leading up to this prep, you have to wonder about his soundness.
Here’s our post-race evaluation for the Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth Stakes
Gulfstream Park G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes 1 1/8 Dirt
Winner: Soldat (RANKED #2 – HRN DERBY CONTENDERS)
Beyer Speed Rating: 96
BRIS Pace/Final Pars: First Call = 94; Second Call = 104; Final = 104
Actual Pace/Final: First Call = 89; Second Call = 99; Final = 104
Track Bias: Strong Speed Bias
Tough Trips: Bowman’s Causeway hit hard at the start and steadied late
Impressive Effort: Gourmet Dinner gets a slight nod but none really impressed
HRN Pre-Race Grade = B+
HRN Post-Race Grade = B
Notes: The early pace was very slow and the speed bias was strong. Not a great test for any of the horses entered and a big downgrade for To Honor and Serve.
Gulfstream Park G2 Hutcheson - 7f Dirt
Winner: Flashpoint (RANK #88 – HRN
Beyer Speed Rating: 102
BRIS Pace/Final Pars: First Call = 98; Second Call = 108; Final = 104
Actual Pace/Final: First Call = 96; Second Call = 109; Final = 108
Track Bias: Strong Speed Bias
Tough Trips: Black N Beauty not right from the start and pulled up.
Impressive Effort: Flashpoint overcame the hot pace and drew away impressively. Has the makings of a brilliant stakes sprinter. Florida Derby will tell if this one is Derby legit.
HRN Pre-Race Grade = C+
HRN Post-Race Grade = C
Notes: The impressive victory in superior times by Flashpoint moves this prep up to a C grade but just don’t see this one serving as an important prep to the Derby.
[Are you kidding, Flashpoint is ranked only 88th and Soldat moves to all the way up to #2 in the HRN Derby rankings? Check out the 2011 Kentucky Derby contender rankings and put in your vote today!]
You have to see the amazing offer that DISH is offering to Horse Racing Nation fans. Check out the ad on our home page. Get 80 tracks in your living room, NOW! It's like having your own simulcast center without ever leaving your house (and much better food)! Incredible!!!
Check back on Friday when we’ll be previewing the Gotham Stakes.
GO FAST AND WIN!