by Jerry Shottenkirk
March 30, 2018
The search for a single is a difficult one in the all-stakes Pick 4 on Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream.
The four graded events bring forth a strong handicapping challenge and the sequence begins in the 11th with the Grade III Honey Fox, followed by the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks, the Grade II Pan American Stakes and the Grade I Florida Derby.
Here’s a look at the approach to today’s late Pick 4:
Honey Fox Stakes (Race 11)
Stormy Victoria’s deep-closing running style means she needs some breaks along the way, and she beat a decent field in the South Beach Stakes here. She closed 10 lengths and was up just in time. A honest pace and a lack of traffic will be needed, and if she gets those she’ll be the one to hold off.
Lull and On Leave also are in good form and worthy of inclusion. Lull will make her 1st start of the year after finishing up 2017 in California. She romped in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes and earlier won the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint. On Leave stalked through moderate fractions. She’s two of her last three and has a 3rd in the Grade II Goldikova.
Gulfstream Park Oaks (Race 12)
Take Charge Paula has won two of three local starts – all this season – and suffered her 1st lost here when 2nd in the Grade II Davona Dale. She won the Grade 3 Forward Gal and she’ll make her 1st local two-turn attempt in the Oaks. She has front-running speed in sprints, so one would expect her to carve out the fractions going long.
Cache is lightly races and also will stretch out. Her maiden win going seven-furlong was one of the most impressive by a 3-year-old filly here. She ran evenly in the Davona Dale and likely will answer the call with a top effort in facing this distance for the first time.
Pan American Stakes (Race 13)
The Pan Am is about as evenly matched, and it’s a bonus that those evenly matched runners are highly talented. The 1 1-2-mile turf test should be a knockdown, drag out and Bullards Alley, Hi Happy, Sadler’s Joy all are likely to bring their best.
Sadler’s Joy is a Grade 1 and Grade 2 regular and just doesn’t run any back ones. He won the Grade II Mac Diarmida with a flourish going 1 3-8 and is not stranger to this distance.
Bullards Alley’s 10-length destruction of the Grade I Canadian Invitational field at Woodbine is quite memorable, and he was on the board in his last two, including a 3rd behind Oscar Nominated in the Grade III W.L. McKnight.
Hi Happy will get no shortage of play and was recently a bang-up 3rd, just a length behind Heart to Heart in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf. He hasn’t won in five U.S. start but was dominate at the highest level in his native Argentina. It won’t hurt that he’ll have the red hot Luis Saez aboard. Saez won seven races on Thursday’s card.
Florida Derby (Race 14)
Promises Fulfilled wired the Grade II Fountain of Youth field last time and will again attempt to show the way for every jump of this one. The competition picks up in this one, but he’s won three of four and has to be respected.
Strike Power could be the spoiler here as he stalked Promises Fulfilled last time despite coming out of sprints. The fractions were moderate and couldn’t make up the ground. It could be a different scenario as it is doubtful he’ll let the pacesetter get away with a soft early run.
Catholic Boy will have his share of support after a half-length loss to Flamaway in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa. He’s yet to run a bad one and it will be no surprise if he can run down the leaders.
Audible made short work of the Grade II Holy Bull field and has won his last three. He has rallied in all three and could get a perfect trip just off the pace and just ahead of deeper closers.
Here’s the suggested Pick 4 ticket:
11) #2 Lull, #3 Stormy Victoria, #10 On Leave.
12) #3 Take Charge Paula, #4 Cache.
13) #2 Bullards Alley, #3 Hi Happy, #8 Sadler’s Joy.
14) #1 Strike Power, #4 Promises Fulfilled, #6 Catholic Boy, #8 Audible.
50-cent Pick 4: 2-3-10 with 3-4 with 2-3-8 with 1-4-6-8. ($36)