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Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Lead:
Not only will Gulfstream Park kick off its annual Florida Sire Stakes series for the 2-year-olds and 2-year-old fillies on Saturday, but both races will be part of a mandatory Rainbow 6 payout. The Desert Vixen (Race 10) and Dr. Fager (Race 12) are one-third of the sequence that begins in Race 8. The carryover should surpass $500,000 if the jackpot wager is not hit on Friday, meaning Saturday's pool could reach more than $3 million in new money.

Field Depth:
All 9 runners will be making their stakes debuts and 7 of them have won their maiden condition to this point. With such young horses, class isn't as much a relevant handicapping angle -- we don't know their ceiling and maiden races vary greatly in quality. Focus less on who won against open-company vs. state-breds and more on how they did it and what they've done since to project the next move forward.

Five of the 7 maiden breakers won nearly wire-to-wire, but you'd expect that over dash trips with young horses. Rail-drawn LAKI LIO, HOPE IN HIM and LIGHTENING LARRY project fastest as these runners stretch out to 6 furlongs.

Our Eyes:
HOPE IN HIM likely goes favored off a 5-length debut win over LIGHTENING LARRY on June 4. HOPE IN HIM has worked 4 times since, 3 of them in fast fashion, and figures to make the expected improvement from start one to start two that young horses often make. He was sharp early and decent late in his debut for Joe Orseno, and this $190,000 Ocala March in-training purchase was no secret at 6-5. He ran to sales expectations. LIGHTENING LARRY returned from that showdown to win his next start 14 days later on June 28. He, too, was away sharp but a bit tired late when stretching out to 5 furlongs.

BIG AND CLASSY and DEAN DELIVERS both dominated open-company maidens last month. BIG AND CLASSY won an off-the-turfer at 7 furlongs by 5-3/4 lengths in his second lifetime start. That he's already run twice, and beyond the Dr. Fager distance, should not be underappreciated. He did come home in a slow 13.70 final furlong last time while no one cut into his lead; so that may say more about the competition being weak. As for DEAN DELIVERS, he got a zippy 12.28 final eighth in his 5-furlong victory by 7-1/4 widening lengths. He had a very tough trip early from the inside, bided his time, came through bravely on the rail and drew clear once the seas parted. The gutty run wound up spread-eagling the field more than 18 lengths just first through fourth.

Both DEAN DELIVERS and CAJUM MAGIC are trained by local juvenile-focused conditioner Michael Yates. CAJUN'S MAGIC was highly professional in his second-start maiden win vs. Florida-breds. He was away well, but when a rival to his outside engaged, he patiently backed off at the rider's urging, professionally tipped to the 2-path and scooted between rivals when need-be with an example of gears. For a young horse, that impressed most of all in video study of this field. He also got a strong 85 BRIS late pace figure compared to this field when going 5-1/2 furlongs, a bit farther than most of these in their maiden scores.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
CAJUN'S MAGIC has a professional mindset and the additional distance looks to be no problem.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
RMaidens in stakes races often are overlooked, but this early in the campaign, the class difference is nil. Don't be afraid to include PALIMONIUM and MERLIN in the exotics for high-percentage meet connections.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$60 win CAJUN'S MAGIC. $10 exacta key-box CAJUN'S MAGIC with DEAN DELIVERS and HOPE IN HIM ($40).