by Jerry Shottenkirk
August 11, 2018
There’s a clear distinction between open and state-bred stakes races during Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet, which begins toward the end of the year and continues through the weeks leading up to the Triple Crown.
When the Championship Meet is over, that distinction is not as obvious when Gulfstream racing continues. The opening race of today’s late Pick 4 is the Panama City Stakes, a mile turf event for Florida-bred fillies and mares, and there’s a blend of runners that have been successful in open as well as restricted company.
During the current season, most of each type of race is worth $75,000, and they play out in similar fashion, with runners often switching off between one type of race and the other.
The Panama City is loaded, and four names make this suggested ticket. Bitacora comes off a win in the state-bred Ginger Punch, Madame Uno was 3rd in same race, Spicy Nelly was very competitive in upper claiming and optional claiming races – which are on a par with some of the stakes races – and Unbridled Courage, who won the open Treasure Coast against open company last time and was 2nd to Bitacora in the state-bred Ginger Punch. It makes it difficult to pound any single horse on your ticket in this one.
A trio is included in the 2nd leg, as the 10th is a competitive Florida-bred allowance. It’s a New Year, Starship Apollo and Star Juancho each has a legit chance. It’s a New Year makes his 1st local start after running in California. He broke his maiden for a tag at Santa Anita in May and makes his 1st attempt vs. winners.
Starship Apollo is the kind of horse that can show up at any level here and usually gives a good account of himself. He has won twice this year – once for $6,250 and the other at $16,000. He tried the turf in his latest and returns to the dirt today.
Star Juancho was three in the front in the final strides and was caught late in his latest. He’s been competitive at this level and likely will battle for his share.
Forecasting, Straightaway May and Burton are used in the challenging 11th, which is for $6,250 non-winners. Several are dropping in class, and Straightaway May is in from Belmont.
The finale also has a trio on the ticket with Aristteles, Nonno Nino and Gunship. Aristteles has been in the hunt in several mile races for a slightly higher price and moved his act over to the turf, where he’s winless against four starts against a higher level of company. Nonno Nino broke his maiden the last time he was on turf and Gunship comes out of much better races and can get a reversal of form.
Race 9) #1 Bitacore, #2 Madame Uno, #8 Spicy Nelly, #9 Unbridled Courage
Race 10) #1 It’s a New Year, #2 Starship Apollo, #3 Star Juancho
Race 11) #3 Forecasting, #4 Straightaway May, #10 Burton
Race 12) #2 Aristteles, #7 Nonno Nino, #9 Gunship
Total Ticket Cost) $54.00 for $0.50