The winter-spring meet rolls on at Gulfstream Park as a new racing week gets underway with a nine-race program on Wednesday. Here are my five favorite races on the card.
Best bet: Exult (Race 6)
Best value bet: Spirit of Power (Race 1)
No. 3 Spirit of Power (9-2) closed smartly for second in her first turf route, and adds a sixteenth of a mile for Saffie Joseph Jr. (22 percent) and Edgard Zayas (17 percent) – appeals at a decent price. No. 6 Five Prizes (5-2, morning-line favorite) is a logical alternative dropping in class for Todd Pletcher (25 percent) and Luis Saez (22 percent) – look for her late. No. 7 Cappy (6-1) earned solid speed figures competing against tougher at Woodbine last year – consider off the bench for Mark Casse (16 percent) and Tyler Gaffalione (18 percent).
How I’d bet it (based on a $100 budget): $7 exacta box 3/6, $3 exacta 3,6/7
No. 7 Papa Katz (6-5, morning-line favorite) was a respectable runner-up at this level when last seen, and goes first off the claim for Orlando Noda (18 percent). Note Irad Ortiz Jr. (26 percent) climbs aboard. No. 6 Stealththirtyfour (7-5) takes a precipitous drop shipping in from New York on the move from Linda Rice to Kelly Breen (11 percent) – dangerous. No. 1 Corporate Affair (6-1) was far behind the top choice last time out but doesn’t have much to beat much to get third here.
How I’d bet it: $12 exacta 7/6, $6 exacta 6/7, $2 trifecta 7/6/1
No. 6 Exult (7-5, morning-line favorite) has never tried synthetic before, but the small price still makes sense. He’s been competitive in each of his last two turf tries at Gulfstream and tries a new low while finding a smaller field than he’s been accustomed to. No. 4 Souper Legacy (9-2) is a two-time winner on synthetic, with a 3: 1-0-1 record at this distance – could run into the exacta on the class drop. No. 5 Pleasecallmeback (6-1) was well-rated third in his last try on the synth. If you can forgive his recent turf flop, he’s a player for a piece while switching to Ortiz.
How I’d bet it: $12 exacta 6/4, $8 exacta 6/5
No. 3 Expect More (even, morning-line favorite) crossed the wire first in his most recent try vs maidens, but was DQ’d to second. He adds Lasix with the lethal pairing of Pletcher and Ortiz in his corner, so he’ll be tough to beat today. No. 7 Carsown (10-1) has flashed promising works ahead of his debut for Joseph, who fires at 25 percent with horses going a route of ground in their debut. No. 2 Tshiebwe (7-2) lands in the Pletcher barn for his first try since October and adds Lasix – the $475k son of Race Day is far from impossible here.
How I’d bet it: $8 exacta 3/2,7, $4 win 7
No. 4 Villegas Swing (5-2, morning-line favorite) goes first off the claim by Steve Klesaris (12 percent) and gets a meaningful rider change to Ortiz – chalk can come through in the nightcap if he doesn’t get caught in a fierce pace duel like last time. No. 2 Big and Classy (4-1) has yet to try sprinting on synthetic and goes as a first-time gelding; consider. No. 5 Lunar Rocket (3-1) tries winners for the first time but makes sense if he can replicate his most recent speed figure.
How I’d bet it: $8 exacta 4/2,5, $2 exacta 2/4,5
Robert Criscola is a free-lance handicapper based in New York.