The end of February marks the start of the heat up on the road to the Kentucky Derby and today someone will emerge from the Fountain of Youth as a favorite in the coming Florida Derby, a key battleground on the run to the roses.
The Turk turns his red gel pen today at the all graded stakes Pick Three which features a solid Grade II field of fillies in the Davona Dale, a field of mixed expectations in the Grade II sprint, The Hutcheson, and then the main event, the Grade II Fountain of Youth.
Thanks to Alex Feldstein for the kewl picture of the Gulfstream Park starting gate. Let's get it on!
Gulfstream Park Pick Three Races 8-10 with first post 4:14 ET
As always, check the weather, the scratches and changes, and the track condition prior to sitting down with your past performances. As I'm doing my handicapping a day or two before the actual race, the subtle differences in the field composition is what screws my pace expectations and base handicap up the most, but no crying, just planning, will lead you out of the valley of darkness.
Race 8 is a one mile one turn Grade II, the Davona Dale, for three year old fillies. I've attached some key race video from the Grade II Forward Gal for fillies from Holy Bull day in late January.
A Grade II for three year old fillies in January? Really? Many of the runners were in the first race of their cycle, not to take anything away from the winner, Pomeroys Pistol who opened up a 4 length lead before hanging in at the wire, but where was the response from the competition at the top of the stretch? Absent.
I'm backing one of those no response fillies, the bettor's chalk from the Forward Gal, Dancinginherdreams, with Leparoux up for trainer John Ward. a sharp :47 4/5ths work last week signals good form and I expecting the extra panel will be hers.
Oh Carole may be a bit of a stretch, and I placed her there without looking at the morning lines. I stopped just now and took a peek and the track 'capper had her at 4-1.
I guess I'll digress and suggest friends that what I did just did should be how you use morning lines: build your own running line (or assign letter grades like me) and then look at some other analysis like morning lines or internet hacks like The Turk (Note: You'll find some really good handicappers on the internet too, like my friends at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance, but still, never let anyone influence your opinions or you will never get better.
Oh Carole comes in off a driving win in an N1X on Forward Gal day. Leparoux leaves for Dancinginherdreams but that doesn't mean this girl ain't good an Castellano/Kenneally combined for an overall 29% winners over past year.
I don't know what to make of R Heat Lightning: Making the 5th graded stakes start of her career (the rest of the field have six graded stake starts combined), the horse clearly has very good quality after winning the Grade I Spinaway and placing in the Grade I Frizette and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Also had no response in the Forward Gal, her first race off the layoff and has been training sharply with 4f in :47 and a Pletcher 26% win rate for the 2nd effort off 45-180 days, an a Pletcher/Velazquez team that wins at GP 25%of the time. Don't ignore.
I like Pomeroys Pistol to possibly find the exotic tickets as well as the journeywoman of the group, Evil Queen, making her 11th start.
Not to sound like a broken record, but a Grade II sprint race like race 9, The Hutcheson for Three Year old's in late February seems a bit pointless. That said, the field has 41 starts and has won 22 times, so we'll leave the discussion of what constitutes a graded stake to more intelligent types and handicap whomever shows up.
I like Madman Diaries as my chalk, the morning line 6-1 and fourth choice. A homebred for trainer Wesley Ward, training very sharply at 5f. Ward wins 31% of the time coming off 61-180 day layoff, and this horse has been off since the Breeders' Cup, my only negative. Ward wins 38% of his Turf/Dirt switches and 44% of his route to sprint switches and a gaudy 29% of his dirt races. Very impressive.
Travelin Man will be the bettor's chalk and comes in off a solid 106 BSF maiden breaker in early January. His work has been pedestrian and I'm not going to get all giddy yet but we will take hime seriously.
Crossbow is a Bernadini son from a Forest Wildcat mare. Dominguez gets the mount for trainer McLaughlin and looks to step forward after two solid previous races. Could step forward or step back, we'll see.
Flashpoint is another maiden only winner with high expectations. The Florida bred son of Pomeroy will look to run loose and I'm thinking he'll fade near the end but we'll see.
I like Razmataz and Manicero to possibly hit the exotic and I've soured on Black N Beauty since the Holy Bull but the distance drop may be the ticket. Leave of Absence needs to do something today.
In the Fountain of Youth I'm a fan of To Honor and Serve but I'm backing Gourmet Dinner today. This is a gut call for me, not the best handicapping methodology, but at least honest. Dominguez is up for trainer Standbridge. the Florida bred banged out a smoking 3f in :34 4/5 this week and a :47 3/5 the week before at 4f.
This is gambling, and while I'm gambling I'll throw Shackleford in there for place: a nice N1X win in early February and I expect him to rate off the pace and be there late.
To Honor and Serve is a heavy hitter, a $575,000 KEE sale sticker price on the trendy Bernadini son. A two time Grade II winner. Training well for Bill Mott, I just want to see what he has before getting misty eyed.
Soldat goes on fast dirt for the first time today. I'm a fan of War Front's and Danzig heirs but I'm being fickle and tossing the 103 BSF on the slop in mid January and dialing his BSF expectations back to low 90's. If you're going to be wrong, swing for the fences!
I'm planning a Pick Three that looks like this:
And finally, while still not 'capping real well right now, I nailed a no brainer pick three at Santa Anita last week, singling The Factor and making a good bet strategy with the two low level races that sandwiched The San Vincente. Consistency and pattern recognition is always more important than fancy betting angles.
Have fun, Turk Out!