by Johnny D
December 31, 2021
Happy New Year! And Happy Birthday to horses of all ages!
If I had carrots I’d share ‘em…with the horses, that is. Unfortunately, all that’s left in the cupboard are some homemade pizzelles left over from Christmas and I’ve got plans those this afternoon during the races. Like so many, I’ve advised the better half that beginning Jan. 2 we go ‘spartan!’ That means, in a nutshell, that there will be no pizzelles in the cupboard and nothing to eat that won’t fit in a nutshell!
By the way, if you happen to be a horse, check back then. I might have carrots in the fridge.
Obviously, we’d all like to begin the New Year in the black, so here’s a look at Saturday’s Gulfstream Late Pick 4 with an eye toward solving puzzles (with pizzelles). There’s a decent chance for this sequence to pay well. Lower-level claimers going a route of ground over Tapeta often are a bit of a scramble and there’s two of them in the mix. A turf stakes route for sophs and a 3-year-old dirt mile added money event round out the offering.
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Let’s begin the New Year the right way together. And ‘no,’ you can’t have a bite of my pizzelle.
A thorn between two roses, this $12,5k claimer at one mile and 70 yards for fillies and mares over Tapeta bridges the $100k Limehouse and the $100k Dania Beach. There are several ways to attack this race with lightly raced and stretch out runners adding options to those emerging from common events.
#2 Perfect Kimberly S just missed one back and a repeat of that ought to make her tough. She was favored last out in a race common to many of these. She broke from post 9 of 10 and ran evenly. Before that she was second in the other most common race to most of these. Paco Lopez, who rode her to finish second returns in the saddle. She has just 1 win in 12 starts, but that’s a common theme in here. She deserves respect.
#3 La Rusia attracts top jock Saez for 26% trainer Barboza. They’re surprisingly just 9% over the last 43 mounts together. This filly has some speed and a great post to lay close up early. The issue she must address is 1 win in 26 starts and 11 seconds! Might want to use her in the 2-hole…Duh.
#5 Tidal Waters ran Ok against better, so the class drop helps. Question here is the distance—her first past five furlongs and initial around two turns. Trainer’s not hot this meet (1-17) and jock combo not significant. Don’t know about the finish but she’ll be in front for a long while.
#6 Askew has just two starts and she won one of those—last out here at this distance for maiden $16k. Whose to say she’s not this good? Top jock Gaffalione replaces Leparoux in the saddle.
#7 Hardly Social was second last out in a common race at 21-1. Fillies and mares at this level usually aren’t very consistent so it’s a reach to expect her to repeat that fine effort right back. She’s 1-16 lifetime and finished a troubled sixth, beaten nearly 12 lengths in the previous common race.
#9 Khosea most recently finished third twice in common races with this group. Last out, her second start for trainer Soto, she broke from the outside 10-hole, raced wide and flattened out. She could be expected to perform similarly in here since she breaks from the 9 hole in this 10-horse field. 1 win in 14 starts with 3 thirds tells her story.
Use: #2, #5, #6
Newly turned 3-year-olds get to tussle at one mile on the turf course for $100k in the Dania Beach with rails at 45 feet. There’s not a lot separating these 8 runners and the form is a bit jumbled as these youngsters sort themselves out. What is clear is that trainer Todd Pletcher is off to a torrid Gulf Championship Meeting. He’s hitting at 46% and has two runners in here. That might be enough for some to just use those 2 and move one, saving the headache of attempting to sort these out any further.
#1 Father Glado moves to turf for the first time off a maiden win. Probably not for us.
#2 Smokin’ T broke maiden in his fourth start, third on turf, for trainer McGaughey, who often races runners into shape. He’s improved with each start and will need to move again as he switches his game from Aqueduct to Gulfstream and maiden to stakes.
#3 K. C. Chief has speed and will attempt to steal this race. He should not be able to. He is sharp and fit, always a nice combo.
#4 Biz Biz Buz is entered in a race on New Year’s Eve and could scratch from this. He’s done best work around one turn.
#5 Chanceux made an initial start sprinting on Belmont dirt and then won sprinting over Aqueduct turf. Saez rides for Pletcher, a 23% combo. Noted above the trainer is an incredible 46% at the current meet. This guy has speed and the jock’s not afraid to use it. He’s the favorite based on a bunch of factors but he really hasn’t proven to be that much better than the rest. Also on his side is that he’s made just two starts and has room to improve.
#6 No Nay Franklin just missed in the $75k Armed Forces stakes here in an off-the-turf event in September. He also just missed first out in a five furlong maiden race. Add it up and he’s still a maiden coming off a freshening since September. Pass.
#7 Gingrich romped in a yielding turf maiden Keeneland event in October. He also ran well in two other two-turn grass tries at Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park. This will be his fifth different turf course experience in as many races. He’s not out of this as a late threat and Paco Lopez is along for the ride.
#8 Grand Sonata also hails from the 46% Pletcher barn and has improved with each start. He’s raced on turf and dirt, but his only win came in an off-the-turf maiden at Keeneland. This post is no bargain, but jockey Gaffalione should have somewhere to drop in to save ground in this short field.
Two Pletchers are Better Than One: #5, #8
Hate This Race: #7
This $150k stakes race at one mile is for birthday boy 3-year-olds and often includes those that are a cut below the cr�me of the crop type sophs.
#2 Strike Hard did just that in his most recent effort when he blitzed 7 first level allowance foes in a $75k optional claimer. He’s sharp, has stakes experience when nowhere in the Gr. 3 Iroquois at Churchill and has 2 wins in 4 starts at Gulfstream.
#5 Skippylongstocking finished four lengths behind #2 Strike Hard after forcing a legit pace. He adds blinkers for 24% trainer Joseph, a 24% winning move. He also has Churchill stakes experience, fourth of 7 in the $200k Street Sense. Also, this time #2 Strike Hard draws inside of ‘Skippy and that might favor this guy.
Price Says: #5
Repeat Last to Win: #2
Close out the first Gulfstream card of the New Year with a $10k Claimer at a one mile and one-sixteenth over the relatively new Tapeta surface. These races on ‘plastics’ often are challenging, partly because we don’t have a great deal of information to go on as to which horses might or might not like the surface. That’s not exactly the case in here as many of these have made starts over the local Tapeta.
#3 Uhtred, who probably will be favored off the claim by 22% first after trainer change Carlos Delgado, gets top billing. The trainer and jockey Lopez hit at 28%. The 6-year-old gelding has 3 in the money finishes in 4 Tapeta starts. A 2 for the last 18 record does give pause for concern.
#4 Timmy M. also starts for a new trainer in Pita who’s just 13% with new acquisitions. This one has been in the exacta in 3 starts over Tapeta (his last 3 starts) and races from off the pace.
#5 Farley just missed in a common race with #3 Uhtred last out. He’s added a sharp :59 4/5 workout since and has 2 in the money finishes in as many starts at this level over Tapeta. He’s 8-years-old but, apparently, no one’s told him his age.
#6 Marisa’s Mission is the youngster in the field at 4 and with just 10 lifetime starts. He’s got 3 wins and 1 out 2 on Tapeta, including a third. This will be his first start for as cheap as $10k. He has shown some pace in recent races and should be a decent price at 8-1 on the morning line.
#7 Ambassador Jim is a 7-year-old complete horse making his second start for $10k and he fits in here, too. He was in contention before being gobbled up in the lane by #4 Timmy M. Like the rest in here, except for #6 Marisa’s Mission, he’s 1-for-forever at 1 for his last 13. Winning rider Panici returns.
Youth May be Served: #6 Marisa’s Mission
Not Done Yet: #3 Uhtred, #5 Farley, #7 Ambassador Jim