by Frank Carulli
January 13, 2022
Who can handle the track? That's the key to solving this week's Stronach 5, which covers four racing surfaces from three tracks nationwide. Gulfstream Park's 10th race was originally scheduled for turf but is now on the main track. The $1 wager features an industry-low 12 percent takeout. Here's a look at the action, with a suggested play:
LEG A: (Santa Anita, race 3, 4:33 EST) -- HAIL COLUMBIA and ARDIS debut with Lasix after a series of weekly workouts dating back to the fall. Hail Columbia is by 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator (6-15, $3.5 million) and Ardis is by multiple Grade II winner Mohaymen (5-13, $998k). SO IT WOULD SEEM gets blinkers, Lasix and class relief after stumbling in her first start three months ago. She worked in :59.1 from the gate to earn a spot on the ticket. HARDDIANE showed promise in her 4-1/2F debut last spring and was compromised by a wide follow-up trip. But she reappears after seven months away with a new rider and Lasix.
LEG B: (Gulfstream Park, race 9, 4:42 EST) -- RAKASA ran into an early traffic jam, recovered to advance steadily between rivals, had aim on the winner for the stretch run but settled for second best. She could return a quick claim dividend in her second start on conventional dirt. AMERICAN OF COURSE won three straight by a combined 18 lengths during a lightly-raced 4-year-old season and is strictly the one to beat. She came back from a four-month layoff, dueled through fast fractions and held third behind a next-out winner.
LEG C: (Golden Gate, race 3, 4:49 EST) -- HERE COMES RALPHIE improved some with Lasix as a 3-year-old, now returns off a 10-month layoff with a fastest-of-41 work in 1:01 over the track. LOVELY HUSSAR had no breathers on the front end in a near miss at 5F. She dueled 3-wide early, shook free of the 90-1 leader on the turn and repelled two stretch challenges before the troubled winner surged late between rivals. MARZANNA hasn't raced since last May, when she checked sharply at 3/8-pole, recovered quickly to finish third and galloped out in front. The two rivals that finished ahead of her, however, are a combined 2-for-22 to date.
LEG D: (Santa Anita, race 4, 5:04 EST) -- STREET RUCKUS returns to the turf, should get the jump on his main rivals and is today's solo play on the added strength of company lines that include recent allowance winners Barbwire and Offlee Naughty, allowance runner-up Prince Abama and MSW winner Crump.
LEG E: (Gulfstream Park, race 10, 5:14 EST) -- Going 4-deep in a crowded turf-to-dirt route, with one less runner than on our original ticket. HAIL TO THE CHIEF gets upgraded with the best main track form, adding blinkers after a pair of third-place rallies. STIRLING DRIVE makes the cross-country journey back to Gulfsteam and is a late-running threat despite unproven dirt form. OVER THE CHANNEL finished first or second in 9 of 16 starts on the grass, but stays in the nonetheless race after early scratces. ALLEY OOP JOHNNY dueled a long way at this level as the beaten favorite at Aqueduct and was claimed by Maker.
Suggested $1 Ticket
Leg A: 3, 4, 7, 8
Leg B: 5, 7
Leg C: 1, 3, 5
Leg D: 7
Leg E: 1, 3, 5, 6