by Jerry Shottenkirk
August 8, 2021
I'm flipping the Gulfstream Park card upside down Sunday and am going after the Early Pick 4, beginning with the second race and ending with the fifth.
The fourth race is a handicap and marks the return of sharp runner Trophy Chaser, but there are several others with talent and are in good form. The sequence also has an allowance optional claiming race, a maiden optional claiming event and a maiden claiming race.
The suggested ticket amounts to $60 and has a 3x5x4x2 strategy, and here’s a look:
2th Race (1:24 p.m. ET, allowance optional claiming)
LAST LEAF was quite sharp last time as he coasted to the lead and was a clear winner. It was his second start after debuting with a runner-up finish.
This will be his strongest test as he goes against winners, and the six-furlong distance will be his longest attempt. His fractional times have been good, and he’ll likely battle from the first stride out of the gate.
There are others with impressive credentials as they’ve begun their careers, and he’ll have to work to get it.
Others on the ticket: CAJUN COUSIN, YEARS AGO.
3rd Race (1:58 p.m. ET, maiden optional claiming)
CRYSTAL LAGOON rates an edge in a maiden optional claiming race, which is a condition you don’t see all the time. She was in a similar spot last time and her connections used the ‘no claim’ option, and she’s under the same circumstances today. This time she turns back from a mile to six furlongs.
Looks like the Super Saver filly could prefer the sprint anyway and likely will run a good one for newly inducted National Racing Hall of Famer Mark Casse.
This is a lightly raced group, and several have good works. We’ll spread out in this slot on the ticket.
Others on the ticket: TIZ IMPRESSIVE, WALKS LIKE A LADY, KHOZMORE, STARSHIP NUGGET.
4th Race (2:32 p.m. ET, handicap)
TROPHY CHASER has been away from the races since May 2020 and has been highly regarded since he first put down timed workouts in his youth. He continues to be a dazzler in the morning (:46 2-5 breeze last week) and Juan Avila has given him a long list of drills for his comeback.
There is little doubt the graded stakes-placed Twirling Candy horse has the class, but the year-plus layoff puts others in the mix as well. Plenty of runners are in good form in this handicap are usable in this leg of the sequence.
Others on the ticket: PUDDING, DOUBLE CROWN, JACKSON.
5th Race (3:06 p.m. ET, maiden claiming)
FUN LOADED gets his first chance to stretch out after four sprints, and his third-place finish for a slightly higher price last out will put him right in the thick of things here. He showed a willingness to run well without trying for the lead, and that will come in handy going the two turns.
Trainer Saul Matos has a 3 of 11 record and this will make his second third start of the year after a switch in barns.
Others on the ticket: STATEN ISLAND.
Race 2) #2 Last Leaf, #3 Cajun Cousin, #6 Years Ago.
Race 3) #1 Tiz Impressive, #2 Crystal Lagoon, #3 Walks Like a Lady, #6 Khozmore, #10 Starship Nugget.
Race 4) #1 Trophy Chaser, #2 Pudding, #3 Double Crown, #5 Jackson.
Race 5) #7 Fun Loaded, #8 Staten Island.
Total Ticket Cost) 2,3,6/1,2,3,6,10/1,2,3,5/7,8 = $60 for $0.50