by Frank Carulli
February 17, 2022
The road to a five-figure Stronach 5 payout recently has gone through Golden Gate Fields, one of four tracks that make up the cross-country wager this week. The last seven times a race from Golden Gate was in the sequence, four of the winners paid $30 or more to win, triggering an average payout of $44,000 for the $1 wager. Here's an early look at this week’s action, with an update to follow Friday after scratches:
LEG A: (Laurel Park, race 8, 3:53 EST) -- Five of the six entrants exit the race won by Visual Artist, who came back to conquer starter allowance foes. MAID THE JOURNEY rallied from the clouds to finish second, but SOUPER EMPEROR, who finished 1-1/4 lengths farther back in third, can turn the tables with a decided tactical advantage in what appears a pace-less race. JACK GAVE BACK benefited from a lively pace battle in front of him and a couple troubled rivals behind when he won by 6-1/4 lengths off the claim for a 27-percent ‘repeat’ barn. He will be an underlay but should be used in the leadoff leg nonetheless.
LEG B: (Gulfstream Park, race 8, 4:11 EST) -- SMILING TEUFLES survived a long duel to win three starts back, was restless behind the gate when second two back and overcame another poor break to upset last out. He’s worth using in his current form. ABSOLUTE GRIT fired three consecutive bullet workouts to prepare for his first start of the year in a new barn. He’s a $50,000 earner at the distance, lures Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride and figures tough if he can avoid recurring trouble lines. ENSIGN PARKER has speed and the rail and could take some catching at a decent price.
LEG C: (Golden Gate, race 3, 4:18 EST) -- CIRCULODEGANADORAS shortens up after she set the pace for 6F before tiring at one mile. She chased a fast pace and held second the last time she sprinted, shows a fastest-of-65 workout after the claim by Wong and can use her speed wisely from the outside. At the opposite end of the spectrum, BIG CHICK draws the rail with slow-starting habits, but she gets class relief, shows decent late kick and benefits from past performance lines that abound with next-out winners. It’s a tricky leg to get through as the field is a combined 99/19-18-19 on synthetic tracks.
LEG D: (Gulfstream Park, race 9, 4:42 EST) -- TIMMY M overcame a slow start to win a turf-to-dirt route off the claim. In his prior five starts on the grass, the winners of those races are a combined 29-for-143 with $918,000 in earnings. EXCHANGE DAY dueled and gave way in the stretch in that same race, but he will take some catching in his third start off a layoff. MARISA’S MISSION improved steadily as a 3-year-old, beat Timmy M to begin his 4-year-old campaign and gets Saez for a return to the turf.
LEG E: (Santa Anita, race 3, 5:08 EST) -- STREET RUCKUS edged clear in the stretch and won a $50,000 maiden claimer to become the only entrant in the field to win at this distance on turf. His connections are red-hot, too, so he is a must use. COSMO exits a pair of double-key races won by Encroachment (3-6, $108k) and Solo Animo (3-7, $78k). His only win, however, was as a 1-to-5 favorite in a 6-horse field. GOLDINI makes his seasonal debut off a 6-month layoff for D’Amato. He gets in light-weighted and doesn’t shy from the photo-finish camera.
Suggested $1 Ticket
Leg A: 2, 5
Leg B: 1, 3, 5
Leg C: 1, 7
Leg D: 3, 4, 8
Leg E: 1, 2, 7