Before we get into my analysis of Saturday’s action at Gulfstream and Los Alamitos, there are a few things that we need to talk about. Firstly, it’s been a tough week for everyone in horse racing. The images and videos that came out of San Luis Rey were positively gut-wrenching, and the work that many have done to assist the humans and horses in need is as admirable as it gets. If you want to assist, Santa Anita and Del Mar have teamed up to raise funds, and you can contribute here.
Secondly, and more relevant to my analysis, you’ll notice there’s only an early Pick Five writeup for Gulfstream’s card. I love that they’re holding a card to highlight the best horses in the Caribbean, especially given the destruction wreaked upon those islands by this past year’s hurricanes. However, due to the relative lack of data, I can’t put forth any sort of tickets on those races.
On to the analysis!
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
96 Bets, $48
Each race in this sequence is a stakes race, and some of the fields are large enough to where this could really pay out. We’ll start off with the Hut Hut for 2-year-old fillies, and I’m two-deep. #3 MY FAVORITE GIFT won by a city block in her debut, while #4 BERNADETTA is bred to go long and beat a good horse (Blonde Bomber) in her unveiling.
I’m spreading in the Wait a While. I understand that #6 STAINLESS may be favored, but her best race came over a very soft, slow turf course at Keeneland, and this isn’t a field comprised of pushovers. Of note, #10 SUBTLE STEP did something few Shug McGaughey trainees can pull off. She won at first asking, and that race’s second-place finisher has since come back to win as well.
My single comes in the third. This is the Buffalo Man, and I’m staking my ticket on #4 DIAMOND OOPS. He won twice over this surface before a lackluster effort in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, where he stumbled at the start and probably never had a chance. He’s worked well since then, and I’m not crazy about the likely favorite, #5 MOJOVATION. He ran a big race in his debut, but that came over a very quirky Saratoga track, and he hasn’t fired the same kind of shot since then.
I’m going four-deep in the fourth, the House Party. My top pick is #9 TAKE CHARGE PAULA, who’s yet to run a bad race going one turn and gets a cushy outside draw, but it’s tough to say if she’ll like Gulfstream or not. I want some coverage, and hopefully, I’ve gone deep enough.
We’ll be alive to two horses in the fifth, the Smooth Air. I’m pretty sure Todd Pletcher wins this race, as I’ve used two of his three trainees entered in this race. #1 COLTANDMISSISSIPPI bounced back from a horrible run in the Sapling to romp at Gulfstream Park West, while #9 BAL HARBOUR won the Sapling and sports a win over the Gulfstream main track.
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
48 Bets, $24
We’ve got a rarity here, as this Pick Five includes two Grade 1 races. We start off with an optional claimer, and I’m using both horses not entered for the claiming price. #3 INNYMINNIEMINEYMOE will probably be favored, but I actually prefer #2 LA CHEPIS, who was claimed last time out by Keith Desormeaux and is protected in her first start for that outfit.
I’m buying the second race, a starter allowance where the six horses involved have combined for four wins in 45 starts this calendar year. I hate betting horses that show aversions to winning, but one such horse WILL win this race. Since I’ve got the budget to use them all, that’s what I’m doing.
The third race is the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, and I’m using both Bob Baffert trainees. Of the pair, I prefer #3 SOLOMINI, who may be the bigger price despite his second-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’s only been beaten by Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic to this point, and anything above 2-1 strikes me as an overlay.
The fourth is the Grade 1 Starlet, and I’m against morning line favorite #3 DREAM TREE. She does not seem like a two-turn horse to me, and I think we may be able to get a bit of value going against her. #4 WAR HEROINE is my top pick following a sharp debut at Del Mar, while #2 PIEDI BIANCHI exits the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where she was beaten just two and a half lengths for second money.
My single figures to be a popular one. #4 HOTSY DOTSY is 0-for-14, but she’s run two good races for the level since being claimed by Hector Palma this past summer. She showed improved tactical speed last time out, and given the relative lack of early zip signed on, she could sit a dream trip here. She’s 7/5 on the morning line, and hopefully, she finishes off a profitable ticket for us.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6
72 Bets, $36
I don’t have a single on this ticket, and I found this sequence tricky given the fairly large fields signed on. For that reason, if you hit, you’ll probably be in line for a solid score.
I’m using the two likely favorites to start. #4 FABRICATION returns to his favorite track and gets Tyler Baze, while #7 BIG HUNK takes a big drop in class for a trainer whose horses tend to improve at second asking.
I’m hoping things get a bit more chaotic in the second leg, as I’m not using the 5/2 morning line favorite. #4 HELLUVA CHOICE ships in from the east coast, and we have absolutely no idea how he’ll run against California horses, so I’ll try to beat him. I’m particularly intrigued by #3 ALWAYS NEVER, who ran a very nice race last time out at night over this Los Al track. He sports a recent bullet workout and will likely be the one this field has to run down turning for home.
I thought the eighth was the toughest race in the sequence. #1 PRIME ISSUE will likely be favored, and he’ll certainly be the one they have to run down, but his last two have been bad enough to where I want some coverage alongside him. In particular, while #10 BOLSTER is fast, I don’t think that one needs the lead. He made a middle move last time before flattening out to be third, and that day’s winner has since come back to win. 6-1 is a square price, and I’ll happily take those odds if I can get them.
I’m three-deep in the finale, and the horses I’m using are included with the thought that this race is very likely to collapse. Many horses entered here need the lead in order to win, so I used three that should have something left late. #2 GROUND RULES drops out of a Grade 2 race, while #7 CITY STEEL is a consistent stalking-type and #9 INCENSED has shown an ability to sit behind horses in the past (albeit on turf).