by Jerry Shottenkirk
December 2, 2017
Gulfstream Park welcomes back live racing on Saturday with an incredibly packed 11-race lineup for the annual Claiming Crown – a multi-race stampede for riches for runners that have run for claiming prices.
A whopping 163 horses (including also-eligibles) are listed on the card, so if you like big, big numbers when it comes to entries, it’s your day. Nine of the 11 races are devoted to the Claiming Crown.
My focus today is on the late Pick 4, which includes nothing but Crown races.
Here’s my approach to the Late Pick 4:
Race 8 - Claiming Crown Rapid Transit
Trainer Jorge Navarro gets attention in any race, and he’ll have plenty of it in the Claiming Crown (CC) Rapid Transit with favored Shaft of Light, who is on a four-race drought. During that stretch he was in one stakes race and some strong optional claiming races for high prices and has been much-traveled throughout the year. Navarro adds blinkers to Shaft of Light today, and the 6-year-old Smart Strike runner is the likely favorite to improve on his 8 of 23 record. He faltered in those races recently after showing his usual speed, and this level of competition should be helpful in getting him to stay the seven furlongs.
However, it’s not like he’ll be running off unopposed. Dark Arden was competitive against strong company in Kentucky and Coxswain lost a five-race win stretch last out and is a real up-and-comer since being haltered for $6,200 four races back.
While Shaft of Light is a proven commodity, I don’t trust his recent form enough to make him a single. Dark Arden and Coxswain also should be taken very seriously.
Race 9 - Claiming Crown Tiara
The CC Tiara is an absolute crapshoot, thanks mostly to talented Gianna’s Dream drawing the No. 12 post. The Twirling Candy filly has won three of her last four. Her last two were at Remington Park, but she has traveled well and should be able to ply her trade without a problem her.
The main problem is the outside post, which opens it up on the this Pick 4 ticket. Also represented here are Temple Fur, Martini Glass, Peru and favored Starship Jubilee, who is six of 10 here and won the G2 Nassau at Woodbine. There’s no reason she can’t run a big one in this spot, but the talented group of fillies and mares here makes it wise to mix it up a bit on the ticket.
Race 10 - Claiming Crown Emerald
The CC Emerald for older campaign looks like a mad scramble to the finish, mainly by Spring Up, Black Tide and Cammack. Spring Up has been off since a photo-finish lost in September at Kentucky Downs and is four of six over this course, including a score in the Mecke Stakes.
Black Tide has been effective mostly in New York-bred races, but he’s also been very competitive when he’s ventured into open company. He’s the real deal and will be a force on the front end. Cammack doesn’t run many back ones and in September in took the Leslie Ahrens Memorial Stakes at Arlington, which marked his most recent start.
Race 11 - Claiming Crown Jewel
Turco Bravo ran in some difficult races in New York and the class horse likely will have a strong presence in the CC Jewel. He’s yet to win a race in 10 tries in 2017 but came close two back when he ran a bang-up 2nd to Madefromlucky in a stakes race.
Gigantic Breeze is also very usable in this spot as he comes in off a win in the G2 Autumn at Woodbine. He’s done a vast majority of his good over all-weather surfaces but has faced some good horses and fits well here.
Here’s the suggested Pick 4 ticket:
Race 8: #4 Shaft of Light, #11 Dark Arden, #12 Coxswain. (4-11-12)
Race 9: #1 Temple Fur, #4 Martini Glass, #5 Peru, #9 Starship Jubilee, #12 Gianna’s Dream. (1-4-5-9-12)
Race 10: #1 Spring Up, #4 Black Tide, #6 Cammack. (1-4-6)
Race 11: #2 Turco Bravo, #6 Gigantic Breeze. (2-6)
50-cent Pick 4: 4-11-12 / 1-4-5-9-12 / 1-4-6 / 2-6 ($45)