USA Preview: Gulfstream Park Oaks & Florida Derby

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Table of Content:

Gulfstream Park Oaks Read More
Florida Derby – Quick Notes Read More

Gulfstream Park Oaks

A 14-race program loaded with stakes races on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The national attention will be on the finale, the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby, but we’re going to take a look at the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks.

None of the 7 entrants are graded stakes winners, though Crazy Beautiful is Grade 1-placed and a listed stakes winner. Competitive Speed similarly is a listed stakes winner who has placed at the Grade 2 level. Con Lima also has won a listed stakes and is multiple Grade 3-placed. Millefeuille is Grade 2-placed.

Rail speed Con Lima looks loose and lonely up front with a short run to the first turn increasing her advantage. The others would have to be hustled faster than their comfort zone to keep up early, likely to their detriment.

The Forward Gal and Davona Dale typically are the lead-in races at the meet for the Gulfstream Park Oaks. But Forward Gal champ Zaajel opted for last week’s Fair Grounds Oaks, where she beat only 1 rival while defeated 15 lengths. Wholebodemeister, third in the Forward Gal and 6-1/2 length upset winner at 52-1 in the Davona Dale, hasn’t worked since. So the Gulfstream Park Oaks series finale doesn’t bring its best to the ball…and what we’ve seen so far hasn’t dazzled in the local division.

Crazy Beautiful, second in the Davona Dale, may be a touch better around 1 turn than 2, owing to her miler’s pedigree. But this track configuration with a sixteenth-pole finish line in play has been known to carry a runner a bit farther than the paper suggests. Her first start at 3 was a modest runner-up to a bomb of a price, and she doesn’t appear to have any major advantage over the rest of these to take a short price.

Direct to Gulfstream Park Oaks

Horse-By-Horse Analysis:

#1 Con Lima – Ridden by Irad Ortiz and trained by Todd Pletcher. Con Lima hasn’t finished worse than 2nd yet in her first 8 starts of the career. She is very likely to be lone speed in this race breaking from the rail. The question will be the distance for her, but with soft fractions up front it might not matter. She is the most dangerous horse in this race given her tactical advantage. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race 4 times, and a win by Con Lima would give him the record with 5 wins.

Con Lima
Con Lima

#2 Bow Bow Girl – Ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Dale Romans. Broke the maiden last time out when going to the front end, and while she may be good enough against these horses I do not think that time is now. It is always very tough for a horse to face other winners for the first time, and I don’t think she has any kind of tactical advantage here. She certainly has some upside, and as a longshot could be worth a look for a 2nd or 3rd place.

#3 Crazy Beautiful – Ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Kenny McPeek. Finished 2nd last time out in the Davona Dale, but she was also beaten by 6 lengths in that race. I understand why this horse will be one of the favorites, and 1 and 1/16 mile seems to be the best distance, but I think there is value in playing against her. She has lost 4 races in a row, and three of those were 2nd place finishes. You have to use her, but maybe not on top in here.

Crazy Beautiful
Crazy Beautiful

#4 Pens Street – Ridden by Miguel Vasquez and trained by Rohan Chrichton. Went off at 80-1 in the Davona Dale and was beaten by 10 lengths while finishing 4th. This horse really hasn’t improved from start-to-start, and I don’t see it in here. I think she is overvalued on the current line, and for me is an absolute play against.

#5 Len Lo Lady – Ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Dale Romans. It took 7 starts for this one to win her first race. She then finished a decent 3rd place the next time out, but she flat out doesn’t fit in here with these. She has a chance for 3rd, but that is about the ceiling here. There is not much upside here with Len Lo Lady, but at least hall of famer John Velazquez hops aboard.

#6 Millefeuille – Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and trained by William Mott. Had a very nice maiden win at Belmont, and then backed it up with a great performance in the Demoisel at Aqueduct finishing 2nd. She entered the Davona Dale with high hopes, but got a rough trip and was shuffled to the back, and pretty much never ran on from there. I think she will have a big shot in here. She is going to be sitting just off the pace of Con Lima and likely right behind Crazy Beautiful. I think if Con Lima gets loose then Millefeuille is the main danger.

#7 Competitive Speed – Ridden by Luis Reyes and trained by Javier Gonzalez. Tough outside draw for Competitive Speed here, but she can handle it. She made a 5 wide move in the Davona Dale before flattening out to be 3rd at 50-1. She should be sitting right with Millefeuille right off the pace, but the problem is I don’t think she as good as those and the kick might not be there. Reyes has been the normal jockey so he does know her well. She has 3 wins in 6 starts so don’t count her out completely.

The picks:

1: #1 Con Lima
2: #6 Millefeuille
3: #3 Crazy Beautiful
4: #2 Bow Bow Girl

Direct to Gulfstream Park Oaks


Florida Derby – Quick Notes

Greatest Honour won the Fountain of Youth going away by 1 1/4 lengths. But I did not like the way jockey Jose Ortiz was getting after Greatest Honour so much coming into the stretch in the Fountain of Youth. Granted, the Kentucky-bred Tapit colt did finally get going and overtook Drain the Clock in the final sixteenth.

But to me, Drain the Clock was going backward toward the end of the race more than Greatest Honour was going forward. I think Drain the Clock is a very nice colt, but he was racing farther than seven furlongs for the first time in the Fountain of Youth. Drain the Clock is scheduled to run in a shorter race around one turn next time in Aqueduct’s Grade III Bay Shore Stakes at seven furlongs on April 3. That makes perfect sense.

Greatest Honour
Greatest Honour

The way I see it, while the 1 1/8 miles should help Greatest Honour this Saturday, he also must face tougher competition this time.

Another reason I’m not going with Greatest Honour in the Florida Derby is his top Beyer so far is an 89, the figure he recorded in both the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth.

Furthermore, Greatest Honour’s Beyer Speed Figure for the Fountain of Youth was “originally posted as an anemic 83,” Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman wrote. It was “upgraded on overnight review to 89, equal to the career-best Greatest Honour earned in the Holy Bull.”

In other words, regarding his Beyer Speed Figures, Greatest Honour is not exactly setting the bar real high for those trying to knock him off this Saturday.

Like a surfer riding a wave, I’m going to ride a recent trend by making Spielberg my top selection in the Florida Derby.

Speilberg
Speilberg

Two weeks ago, Southern California-based Concert Tour invaded Oaklawn Park and won the Grade II Rebel Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Last Saturday, SoCal-based Hot Rod Charlie ventured to New Orleans and won Fair Grounds’ Grade II Louisiana Derby by two lengths.

Will SoCal-based Spielberg travel across the country and capture the Florida Derby? Maybe. Or maybe not. I am saying maybe not because, quite frankly, Spielberg is far from trustworthy. He has had an up-and-down career up to this point.

The picks:

1: Spieldberg
2: Known Agenda
3: Greatest Honour
4: Collaborate

Direct to Curlin Florida Derby

USA Preview: Gulfstream Park Oaks & Florida Derby
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