by Jeremy Plonk
March 31, 2022
Among 10 stakes on the Florida Derby Day card at Gulfstream Park is this highly interesting 1-1/8 miles contest in the Classic division. The G3 $100,000 Ghostzapper will go as Race 6 on the program. Horseplayers with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets on the entire Saturday card at Gulfstream if your selection finishes second or third. The 14-race program also features $750,000-guaranteed pools in the late pick 4 and pick 5.
Local G2 winners GREATEST HONOUR and FEARLESS are the most credentialed members of this 7-horse cast. CAPOCOSTELLO was a G1 winner in Panama. TWELVE VOLT MAN and CARLOS L are listed stakes winners. No doubt FEARLESS has held the strongest company lines with GREATEST HONOUR a clear second in that regard.
LAUGHING BOY and CARLOS L in posts 2-3 figure to have the most early foot. TWELVE VOLT MAN could be hustled from the outer draw with some natural foot. The early pace does not appear to be overly taxing.
FEARLESS has been second-best in his last 2 local starts to rising star Speaker's Corner in the G3 Hooper and G2 Gulfstream Park Mile. Both of those were 1-turn events and he'll stretch back out around 2 bends on Saturday at the tail end of a taxing meet. To run him back for $100K almost seems like an afterthought with quality races on the horizon in Kentucky and New York. He's absolutely the horse to beat, but this soft placement raises some doubt to taking a very short price -- particularly at a distance in which he's 3: 0-1-0 lifetime.
GREATEST HONOUR looked like a bona fide Kentucky Derby prospect when he won the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth here last winter. But he disappointed in the Florida Derby as the 4-5 favorite and went to the sidelines for 350 days before reappearing last month at Tampa bay Downs. GREATEST HONOUR was lackluster in his G3 Challenger Stakes return and a modest workout tab at Payson Park since doesn't give any hint that he's storming back to form just yet. The 1-1/8 miles is a big ask with little underneath him in the past year in terms of foundation. At 118 pounds, he gets in 6 lighter than FEARLESS and that could help.
Those 2 dominate the betting in all likelihood, but there's a feeling of vulnerability to this eye.
COMMANDEER was blown out in the G1 Pegasus World Cup, but has been working very well for veteran Jimmy Toner since then. His autumn allowance win over LAUGHING BOY at Churchill Downs could put him in the mix here at his best. Tyler Gaffalione has had a strong meet and takes over for the first time on COMMANDEER. As for LAUGHING BOY, he'll have a pace advantage perhaps and a fantastic post draw in the 2-hole. It has been a demoralizing meet for Kenny McPeek's barn, winning only 1 race coming into closing week and having a shedrow of Triple Crown hopefuls struggle to make their way. Julien Leparoux is an underrated rider on speed horses and if he gives LAUGHING BOY his head and lets him run, he could take them a long way.
CARLOS L has been away since May and makes his first start at Gulfstream for Marcial Navarro, who lures Joel Rosario to the saddle. This one likely presses the pace of LAUGHING BOY and is a winner from 6-1/2 furlongs to 1-1/2 miles. Another interesting riding pairing comes with Irad Ortiz Jr. hopping aboard CAPOCOSTELLO for the firs ttime. The Panamanian import was no match in allowance company Jan. 15 in his US debut, but the winner that day (Olympiad) has come back to win 2 graded stakes since.
Claiming Crown Jewel winner TWELVE VOLT MAN has won over the course and distance at the meet. This will be a class test for the Constitution gelding trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
FEARLESS has been in the exacta in 4 straight races over this track since November.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
COMMANDEER was 18-1 in winning an allowance 2 starts back and untouched at 106-1 in the Pegasus World Cup. He'll be let go at an intermediate price here and I like his chances.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$70 win COMMANDEER. $25 exacta COMMANDEER over FEARLESS. $5 exacta COMMANDEER over LAUGHING BOY.