The Caribbean Classic returns to Gulfstream Park for the second consecutive year on Saturday, December 8. Here are free picks for each of the five big international races.
Race 7 (2:46PM ET) Invitational Cup Stakes ($77,500)
3YO + - 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt)
Last Year: Coltimus Prime ($9.60), who had previously won the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, closed strongly to win by 2 1/2-lengths going away, giving Irad Ortiz Jr. his second win of the Classic. Heavily favored Mishegas struggled to finish third for Edgard Zayas.
- Coltimus Prime (Velazquez) – 3/1 – Defending champion returns to the scene of last year’s win. He is 0-for-5 in stakes races in Panama since last year’s Invitational. Note that last year’s winning rider, Irad Ortiz Jr., opted for another mount.
- Mishegas (Ortiz Jr.) – 4/1 – Deep closer was shocked at 4/5 odds in this race last year and not sure we can blame the slop as he’s 2-for-3 on wet ground. He’s a deep closer and leaves himself a lot to do, so that’s always tough.
- California Music (Saez) – 9/5 – Is 9-for-17 in his native Panama and has finished ahead of Coltimus Prime on three separate occasions this year. He’s 2-for-4 at the distance but it’s hard to envision this being his best trip.
My Prediction: Mishegas appears to be catching Coltimus Prime at the right time and I think he puts last year’s shocking upset behind him. Going Strong (10/1) is an interesting longshot as he adds blinkers and breaks from the rail, so curious if he tries to steal this race. If you can figure out who’s going to the lead, you’ve got a horse to have in your Exactas and Trifectas.
Race 8 (3:16PM ET) Lady Caribbean Cup ($89,000)
3YO Fillies & Mare – 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
Last Year: Mexico’s Jaguaryu ($12.40) kicked off the festivities with an authoritative 7 3/4-length victory beneath Irad Ortiz Jr. Venezuela’s Gladiadora closed to finish second as the 5/2 favorite.
- Kutzamala (MEX) (Ortiz Jr.) – 7/2 – Daughter of Point Determined has won 8-of-10 but was shocked in the That’s Life Stakes in Mexico City on October 27. She was 1/10 odds that day and finished off the board. Is a 4-time G1 winner in Mexico.
- Etruska (MEX) (Gonzalez) – 5/1 – She upset Kutzamala in the That’s Life, breaking a streak of three career defeats to that rival. She has always raced Kutzamala well, though and it’s hard to claim a big gap between the two right now.
- Rosa Salvaje (PAN) (Castellano) – 4/1 – Won a Group 2 race in Panama in July but has been off since August, which isn’t a great thing. The addition of Castellano is, however.
My Prediction: Etruska and Kutzamala sweep the Exacta and Salmiana comes close to producing an All-Mexico Trifecta. Panama’s Rosa Salvaje and Puerto Rico’s Regalada (8/1) factor into the results late.
Race 9 (3:46PM ET) Caribbean Cup Speed Stakes ($105,800)
3YO - 6 Furlongs (Dirt)
Last Year: Venezuela’s Master Supreme ($24.40) and John Velazquez took the field gate-to-wire as heavily-favored Crotone broke slowly and finished last. Venezuela’s Forze Mau, the second choice, finished second with Javier Castellano aboard.
- Big Boris One (VEN) (Lopez) – 8/1 – Is 2-for-2 in his career, but flashed a nice bullet workout – best of 109 horses – at Gulfstream on December 1. He drew a nice outside post and is ridden by a capable ‘send’ jockey in Paco Lopez.
- La Polla (PAN) (Rodriguez) – 3/1 – She won a Group 2 race in Panama last out over Candy Power and overall she’s 4-for-12 with seven Trifecta finishes. Being a filly she gets in very light (110 lbs) but not sure if the jockey can make that impost.
- Tati (MEX) (Ortiz Jr.) – 5/1 – Mexican representative blew the doors off an allowance field on October 27 to win by 13 1/4-lengths. Overall she’s 5-for-14 with four seconds. Looks like Irad Ortiz had many choices in each race so hard to argue with his choices.
My Prediction: Not a lot to go off but La Polla has the best class and could be tough with the right trip. Tati could easily finish right up there, along with Big Boris One, who could be any type with just two races to his name.
Race 10 (4:16PM ET) Confraternity Caribbean Cup Stakes ($100,000)
3YO+ - 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt)
Last Year: Panama’s El Tigre Mono ($18.20), ridden by John Velazquez, caught Puerto Rico’s Arquitecto in the shadow of the wire as the race’s favorites, Gran Will (2.20/1) and Igor (2.30/1) struggled in the slop.
- Jala Jala (MEX) (Ortiz Jr.) – 9/5 – She shocked ‘em at 10/1 in the ‘Classic last year but that price will be shorter this time around. Has won four straight in Mexico and note the public’s belief in her – sub even-money each time. She gets an 8lb break from the boys.
- Exclusivo (PR) (Diaz) – 2/1 – Is 15-for-17 in his career and he’s been absolutely untouchable in his last two racing years – 8-for-8 in ’18, 5-for-5 in ’16. The closest anyone has got to him this year is 3-lengths and that was in January. Since May, they haven’t been within 5 1/2-lenghts of him.
- Fray Angelico (PAN) (Saez) – 9/2 – Was burdened with an impossible outside post in last year’s Classic but raced admirably to finish second. Unfortunately, he’s stuck wide again but it’s only Post 9 and he has more time to drop in. According to Trackus he conceded 53 feet to Jala Jala in last year’s Classic.
My Prediction: Jala Jala can’t pull off the Classic/Confraternity Double as either Exclusivo or Fray Angelico get the job done. Fray Angelico should be a popular choice and he has already run well locally.
Race 11 (4:50PM ET) Caribbean Classic Stakes ($300,000)
3YO – 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt)
Last Year: Mexican filly JALA JALA ($22.40) capped a big day for Irad Ortiz Jr. as she trounced the field in the ‘Classic by 9-lengths. Panama’s FRAY ANGELICO finished second and Mexico’s JOYME rounded out a $2,298 Trifecta at odds of 44/1.
- Kukulkan (MEX) (Ortiz Jr.) – 3/5 – Is undefeated in 13 starts, including 6 G1 races. His last five wins all came at odds of 1/5 or lower. Not impossible to envision a scenario that gets him beat – he’s never been away from Mexico City – but he’s definitely the one to catch.
- Bukowski (VEN) (Jaramillo) – 6/1 – Venezuelan import has won 5-of-8 including back-to-back G1 events. He’s won 4-of-5 since April and continues to look strong in his races.
- Sol De Orion (PAN) (Lezcano) – 6/1 – Won a G2 last out in Panama and appears the best suited of that contingent for the 1 1/8-mile trip. Senor Ben Hur, who is always fancied at the windows, has been beaten in two straight at this trip.
My Prediction: Hard to stop the train as Kukulkan makes it 14-for-14 with relative ease. The Panamanian contingent of Sol De Orion, Dario Ruth (20/1) and Senor Ben Hur (10/1) will come with decent efforts and Bukowski is possibly the only logical upsetter.