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Saturday, December 19: Gulfstream Analysis/Wagering Strategies

by Jeff Siegel

December 19, 2020

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.

The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

RACE 1: Post: 12:05 ET Grade: C+
Use: 3-Rey de Ligas; 5-Call Bros; 9-Big Perm

Forecast: The opener is a grass grab bag for maiden $20,000 older horses competing over seven and one-half furlongs. Anything can happen. Rey de Ligas has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern and earned a good figure when fourth after a slow start in a recent five furlong dash. Wheeled back off short rest (10 days), the Chilean-bred gelding has room for further improvement, switches to the barn’s “go-to” rider E. Zayas and rates a very slight edge on top at 9/2 on the morning line. Call Bros, runner-up in a slightly lesser race at this trip at GPW last month, is unplaced in four starts over the local lawn but should draft into a comfortable pace-stalking position and have every chance in a weak affair. Big Perm earned a career-top number – one that equals par for this level – when third in a race two weeks ago. If he can build on that effort today he’ll be right there. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but if you find the need to include more, go right ahead.

RACE 2: Post: 12:34 ET Grade: C
Use: 3-Ms Big Spring; 4-Say Adios

Forecast: This restricted (nw-3) $6,250 sprint for fillies and mares came up woefully light. We’ll use two but not with any degree of conviction. Ms Big Spring, the 8/5 morning line favorite, drops sharply in class and may have found her friends. Back to dirt and at her preferred track, the D. Fawkes-trained filly is a two-time winner at Gulfstream Park and projects to enjoy a comfortable pace-prompting trip. That said, she’s hardly one to trust at a short price. Say Adios drops a notch on the class ladder, and though beaten as the favorite in her last pair must be considered a contender by default. She projects as the controlling speed and given that type of trip could take this field a long way.

RACE 3: Post: 1:03 ET Grade: C+
Use: 2-Cobb; 4-Exxtop

Forecast: Modest maiden-claiming juveniles sprint six furlongs in the third race, a shallow affair that has two main players. Exxtop, runner-up against similar competition in his last pair, has speed figures that are par for this $16,000 level and looks ready to graduate, though his failure as a short priced favorite in both of those races is a reason for concern. Perhaps the switch to L. Saez will make the winning difference, Cobb is a seven-race maiden but drops to his lowest level ever and makes a favorable barn switch to J. Delgado. He’s a fit on numbers, switches to I. Ortiz, and is the likely choice and one to beat.

RACE 4: Post: 1:32 ET Grade: C
Use: 6-Happy Champ; 7-Houdini’s Awesome; 8-Mista Donzella

Forecast: Here’s another maiden-claiming mess, this one over a mile on grass for 2-year-olds in for $25,000. Best advice is to spread as deeply as you can afford to. Houdini’s Awesome may be as good as any. The T. Pletcher-trained colt received no wagering action and was well-beaten in his debut vs. infinitely-tougher straight maiden foes at Belmont Park in October, but he did make some minor headway late to indicate he may have at least a smidgen of ability. Happy Champ is another making the maiden-to-maiden claiming class drop while stretching out again and switching to grass in his first start for a tag, so the son of Runhappy certainly has a right to improve, especially if he can secure a front-running trip. Mista Donzella, a second-time starter and likely to improve with this class drop from the maiden $40,000 level, is fairly competitive on speed figures and is worth tossing in somewhere at 12-1 on the morning line.

RACE 5: Post: 2:01 ET Grade: B-
Use: 3-Texas Reward; 4-She’s Classy; 8-Include the Beast

Forecast: After a promising runner-up effort in the mud in her debut, Texas Reward crushed a maiden $15,000 field by 14 lengths over a sloppy track at Delaware Park in late September and returns in a realistic spot to face $25,000 claimers over six furlongs. It’ll be interesting to see how she performs on dry land for the first time, but if the daughter of Texas Red can repeat her last race under these conditions she should be capable of scoring again. Include the Beast was a debut winner at GPW in October while earning a speed figure that makes her dangerous despite the class hike. Drawn comfortably outside, the D. Fawkes-trained filly should draft into a cozy stalking spot and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. She’s Classy is the quickest in the field, though her stamina is suspect. She’ll take them as far as she can.

RACE 6: Post: 2:40 ET Grade: C+
Use: 5-Dillon Rocks; 10-Conforto

Forecast: Conforto drops sharply in class but remains above his claim level, so the M. Maker-trained gelding should be capable of regaining his winning form in his first start since shipping back to South Florida from New York. A perfect one-for-one over the local lawn and with I. Ortiz, Jr. picking up the mount, he’s the logical top pick, but because he must leave from the 10-hole at this seven and one-half furlong distance there probably won’t be a lot of wagering value to be found unless he drifts a bit from his 2-1 morning line. Dillon Rocks is the barn’s “other” entrant and must be given a decent look as well. Both of his career victories (from 21 starts) were earned over the Gulfstream Park grass course and if gets the patient ride he apparently prefers the son of Paynter could spring a mild surprise at 5-1 on the morning line. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but, typical of this type of race, you may choose to toss in a few more.

RACE 7: Post: 3:08 ET Grade: B
Use: 4-Doll Collection; 7-Gerri B

Forecast: Doll Collection has good form over the local main track (a win and two seconds in three career starts), removes blinkers, and shows a bullet five furlong drill (:59 3/5, fastest of 16) earlier this month to indicate she’s spot on in her first outing since mid-September. The R. Nicks-trained daughter of Tapit probably will settle into a second flight, stalking position and then be asked for her best from the quarter pole home. Churchill Downs invader Gerri B turns back from a mile, has speed figures that fit, and may have a bit of improvement in her, having had just five prior outings. She, too, has been impressive in the a.m. of late, as indicated by a bullet half mile drill (:48 flat, fastest of 21) at Palm Meadows 10 days ago. We’ll give Doll Collection a very slight edge on top but include both in our rolling exotics.

RACE 8: Post: 3:38 ET Grade: B
Use: 1-Greyes Creek; 7-Grand Journey; 12-Succeedandsurpass

Forecast: This second-level allowance middle distance turf event for older horses appears to be a stronger-than-par race for the level. There are at least three legitimate contenders, and maybe even a couple more, so we’ll spread the race in rolling exotic play and then press a bit keying top selection Greyes Creek on top. The 4-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile originally brought $850,000 in the 2018 OBS March Sale and makes his first start since July; if he returns as well as he left he should have every chance to extend his winning streak to three. A smart maiden winner two runs back at Churchill Downs and then a winner of a first-level allowance affair with an impressive turn of foot against slow fractions, the C. Brown-trained four-year-old retains “win rider” T. Gaffalione, lands the good rail, and shows a couple of nice, easy breezes at Palm Meadows since shipping in from Kentucky. Grand Journey is a tough-as-nails gelding from the M. Maker barn with an impressive local record (six wins from 11 starts) and, like our top pick, is rested and ready after a three month vacation. The veteran son of Giant’s Causeway will be running on strongly late. Successandsurpass won a nice allowance race at Woodbine last month and lands I. Ortiz, Jr. He’s drawn a bit farther out than we’d prefer but if the G. Motion-trained colt can work out a decent trip the Grade-2 placed colt certainly can act in this league.

RACE 9: Post: 4:12 ET Grade: B
Use: 2-Traipsing; 3-Court Return; 8-Always Shopping

Forecast: Traipsing catches a field with very little pace in it and most likely will be handed the role as the controlling speed if she wants it. Tagged late when second in the mini-marathon Long Island S.-G3 at Aqueduct last month, she shortens to a mile and three-sixteenths today and should be tough on the front end, though she’s won from off the pace as well. Always Shopping went down by a short head in the 12-furlong Dowager S.-G3 at Keeneland two months ago and has proven to be equally effective at a middle distance. She also has winning form over the local lawn, switches to I. Ortiz, J., and is the likely choice and one to beat. Court Return missed by a neck at 41-1 in the E. P. Taylor S.-G1 at Woodbine in October and if she can duplicate that type of performance here she’ll be tough, for sure. However, she’s a one-paced closer and will need some help up front to be effective.

RACE 10: Post: 4:40 ET Grade: B
Use: 4-Haikal; 7-Diamond Oops; 9-Firenze Fire

Forecast: Diamonds Oops loves the Gulfstream Park main track (five wins in eight starts) and returns to his proper level after finishing a respectable sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1. The defending Mr. Prospector S.-G3 champion, the P. Biancone-trained gelding has the proper style for this seven furlong trip, shows a pair of recent bullet workouts, and is reunited with J. Leparoux, who was aboard in last year’s victory. Firenze Fire always is tough when he brings his best stuff and is a major player after finishing an excellent third in the B.C. Sprint-G1 last month. This will be his first ever start at Gulfstream Park, but the winner of 12 career starts has proven to be tough anywhere he goes. Haikal is intriguing in his first start since February and his first since joining the T. Pletcher barn. A prototype late-running sprinter, the lightly-raced 4-year-old has been impressive in recent works at Palm Beach Downs and this Grade-3 winner rates a legitimate look at 6-1 on the morning line.

Race 11: Post Time: 5:11 ET Grade: B-
Use: 1-Girl Dad; 5-Ultimate Gift, 11-Munqad

Forecast: This maiden two-turner on grass for 2-year-olds came up surprisingly light in terms of quality, so let’s look at what we think is the most dangerous newcomer and also include the two best experienced runners. Ultimate Gift debuts for T. Pletcher (a strong 21% with this angle), and while his workout clockings at Palm Beach Down don’t jump off the page this son of Pioneerof the Nile has been given a solid foundation and should be fit enough to be a contender in an open fray. Pletcher’s other starter, Munqad, is hung way outside in the 11-hole but could improve - as many of the offspring of War Front do - in his first start on grass. He was fourth while on the pace in a two-turn maiden affair at Keeneland last time out in October and may be patiently handled today. New York shipper Girl Day is modest on figures but should get plenty of play after flashing enough improvement to wind up second at the Big A on grass last month. The G. Weaver-trained gelding lands the rail and seems likely to try gate-to-wire tactics.