All predictions subject to change in accordance to scratches and changes.
Race 2: Sound The Horns, Speightshill, Self Start (4-1-6)
Should be a chalk-chalk finish here. Sound The Horns scored 87 BRIS in debut here on 12/30, same distance of 6 furlongs. Best AWD, fastest for distance and track, and is the absolute speed despite being the lone deep closer. Self Start I only like because of his strong work tab before his first start, including 2 bullet works here.
Overlays: JC’s Not Brown.
Turbin is fastest of those with some trouble in his last trip, 83 BRIS going a mile here 3 weeks ago. Being the lone early closer and in post 5, he fits perfectly with track bias: 33% of mile dirt races have been won by early closers, plus 15% have won from posts 4 through 7. JC’s Not Brown races first under claim by Wayne Potts. Could bounce back in pace; bounced from 82 to 65 after drop in class and cutback in distance. Only horse with any reasonable workout numbers.
Race 4: Cooking Up A Storm, then both halves of the Wayne Potts entry in It’s A Bang and My Charming Cycle, then Seve. (3-1a/1-6) No overlays in this race. Decent value here overall, tho lone favorite should score.
Cooking Up A Storm scored 83 BRIS last time out, finishing 6th of 9 with a 7-wide trip around the last furlong. He did improve on the leader some at the 2nd call, and has a great work tab in prep for today.
Race 5: Honey Bun, Rosie McGuire, Important (8-3-5)
2 favorites around a longshot overlay of Rosie McGuire.. Since she’s the only real value, here’s my 2 cents: debuting 11/28 at Laurel, hardly making a dent against fellow maiden fillies in her debut. Her 24.4 turn time from that debut is fastest of these. Trainer Mary Eppier has kept her from stretching out for 2 months, and gets her a 7 lb allowance.
Race 6: Midnight Skies, Star Touch, Trudys Lucky (5-7-2), as I totally go against the lone favorite. Star Touch is the lone overlays here and the big longshot per ML at 20-1. Fastest speed for the distance at 66, 2 races back. Followed up with 56, 2nd consecutive race running 4-wide. I expect her to run back to her lifetime best.
Race 7: Averils Dream, Paradise Bird, Mesmerize (5-4-2), with longshot over favorite and fellow longshot. Averils Dream is the lone overlay as well as top choice. Fastest consistent pace numbers of the field, she excels here also in turn time. Waiting the longest of these to strech out. Trainer Andrew Ali removes blinkers for this race.
Race 9: I’m Mr. Blue, Beeks, Enough Is Enough (1-2-3), a weak lone-favorite, then longshot then mild value. Overlays: Beeks, Hey Willie.
Beeks is a sprinter with the best tactical speed of the field. Last 3 1st call numbers: 92, 105, 104. 3 works since last race here at Laurel, 1 very fast. Hey Willie just won 1st after layoff on 12/11. Comes out of sharp speed rating gain to 91. Best turn time of the field. Gets 7 lb weight allowance. Only concern is a possible bounce.
Now to Gulfstream Park and all those stakes races:
Race 3 is the Hurricane Bertie Stakes, Grade 3, 100k for fillies/mares 4YO+. Top 3: Curlin’s Approval, You Bought Her, and Improv. 1st and 3rd favorites over a longshot. No overlays in this one. As for Improv’s chances, he has a prior win off layoff as well as after cutback in distance. Racing at 117 lbs, one of 3 horses who get the maximum weight break. Gained in turn time last out despite nearly matching his prior race’s speed figure.
Cherry Wine last reached top 3 in last year’s Preakness, and 3rd in the Blue Grass prior to that. Owns a few shipping victories, and also won an optional claimer here this time last year. Waiting the longest to stretch out (11/19) Gained a bit on the leader last time out.
Overlays: Pretty Perfection, Artesian. Pretty Perfection has the best pace progress of these. 2 races back, she achieved a small new top of 94 in the Lightning City, 12/17 at Tampa Bay. Bounced to 86 while winning an optional claimer on 1/4 here. Cuts back from a series of routes, and gets maximum 6 lb weight break.
Power Alert is fine as cheap winner, but I’m here to present value. Super Spender recovered in pace 2 races back, peaking at 95, then matched with 90 since then. Only late closer in the race. Divine Warrior gained a bit on the leader last time out. Only early closer in the field. You know what I’m thinking: The lone pace shapes of their type in the race will make for a nice exciting finish after the others tire out.
Try Your Luck won last year’s Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes. 4 wins and 3 3rds in last 7 races. Plateau of speed figures in last 3: 94, 96, 94. Prior winner stretching out in distance, today tries after 8.5 furlongs. Positive jockey switch back to Florent Geroux (DG Oaks winner at Kentucky Downs back in September)
Race 11 is the WL McKnight Handicap, Grade 3 event, 12 furlongs on the turf, for 4YO+. Top 3: Danish Dynaformer, Sadler’s Joy, Montclair. Good value overall beyond a weak favorite per morning line. Overlay: Generous Kitten, whom I like mainly for her strong turn time.
In the next post, I’ll give you a capsule look at the horses competing in the initial Pegasus World Cup.