Key Bets & Races for Saturday, January 6
Kitten’s Joy Stakes – Race 7 at Gulfstream Park– Post 3:05 PM Eastern Time
Speed Franco is well named as he crushed an 11 horse field last month in the identical Pulpit Stakes over the course at a mile. This 7 1/2 furlong trip is about the same and he’s two-for-two (both wins at a mile on turf) and still improving. His debut win came from off the pace and he nearly went wire-to-wire last out. Jaramillo rides back and the 6 to 1 starting odds make him a KEY bet. Pony Up is a second horse we will have to bet to win if he goes to post anywhere near his out-of-line 10/1 starting odds. He was clearly 2nd to Speed Franco in the Pulpit Stakes last month, 2 1/2 lengths clear of the third horse, and he won his only other start on grass before that, rather easily in a field of 9. Castellano rides back after getting to know him and if he ends up a little closer to Speed Franco in the early stages than he was last month, he has a big shot to win. Fast Boat and Power of Attorney both can win but offer much lower odds for win bets so I will try to beat them with the other two horses, but will use them on exacta tickets. Fast Boat finished third in his debut at a mile on grass then won by almost five lengths over the course last month. Still, his maiden breaker was no better than Speed Franco’s Stakes win but he opens at 5 to 2. Power of Attorney won at a mile on turf in New York on 11/30 in his grass debut and is another nice horse but neither he nor Fast Boat have run in a stakes compared to Pony Up and Speed Franco, who have.
Bet both Speed Franco and Pony Up to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher. Add a place bet on either at 5 to 1 or more.
Play an exacta key box consisting of Speed Franco, Pony Up, Fast Boat and Power of Attorney.
Ginger Brew Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park – Post time 4:06 Eastern Time
Andina Del Sur ran like a horse with a very bright future in her career debut back on 10/28 at Belmont, swooping four wide on the turn to win going away under Rosario, who rides back as she moves from maiden to stakes. That turned out to be a KEY RACE from which the fifth, eighth and ninth place finishers ALL came out of to win their next starts. As a daughter of Giant’s Causeway, Andina Del Sur should get better as the distances increase and should love this two-turn trip, improving a lot in her 2nd career start to boot. Closer Still has improve in each of her last three races, from an 81 Equibase figure, to 90 to 95 last out winning a sprint on the all-weather track at Woodbine. That form is transferrable to turf and as she’s a daughter of multiple stakes winner So You Think (who won 10 times at a mile and one-quarter on grass in his career), Closer Still should have no issue with this 7 1/2 furlong trip. Delamar is another shipper last seen in Canada, having also won at the first allowance condition when last seen. Her last race 93 figure is a fit with these and Castellano rides for Attfield, who already has THREE winners from six starters at the meeting. With two very sharp works on turf at Payson Park coming into this race, Delamar adds more value potential for our wagers in this race as she opens at 8 to 1.
For exactas, in the 2nd position, in addition to the three win contenders I will use Golden Orb and Malibu Saint, who finished 3rd and 1st, respectively, in a similar stakes last month on the course, as well as ThewayIam, who failed miserably in a stakes in California at the end of November when 11th of 12 but who won in her U.S. debut and on grass prior to that.
Bet Andina Del Sur to win at 2 to 1 or more.
Consider additional win bets, on Closer Still (at 3 to 1 or higher) and on Delamar (at 4 to 1 or higher).
Play an exacta consisting of Andina Del Sur, Closer Still and Delamar over Andina Del Sur, Closer Still, Delamar, Golden Orb, ThewayIam and Malibu Saint.
Consider a double using Andina Del Sur and Closer Still in race 9 and using Bal Harbour and Whereshetoldmetogo in race 10.
Mucho Macho Man Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park – Post time 4:37 Eastern Time
Bal Harbour and Whereshetoldmetogo STAND out in this year’s Mucho Macho Man Stakes. I can’t completely knock the two favorites, Dak Attack and Mask, but it’s not just the contrarian in me that thinks they are less playable and less probable than Bal Harbour and Whereshetoldmetogo. Bal Harbour has won two stakes in a row, both at a mile, the first around two-turns in September and the most recent at this one-turn mile trip here at Gulfstream Park, in the nearly identical Smooth Air Stakes last month. Castellano gets off to ride Mask but Velazquez gets on for Pletcher and that’s not an issue. Coming off a career best and FIELD HIGH 100 Equibase figure effort, Bal Harbour can win his third stakes race in a row. His biggest competition could come from Whereshetoldmetogo, who led late and just got nailed by Bal Harbour in the Smooth Air Stakes. Gaffalione was up for the first time that day and rides back, perhaps just a bit more familiar with him, enough so to hold him together in the final yards to win. Considering they open at odds of 9 to 2 and 6 to 1, respectively, both are very playable. Mask won in his debut but that was two and one-half months ago and at 6 1/2 furlongs, and it was a maiden race so he’s got to improve quite a bit against horses who ran more recently and in stakes. Dak Attack won the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes but that was in August and the figure was an 89 which is a full 10-11 points behind (slower) than Bal Harbour and Whereshetoldmetogo in their Smooth Air efforts.
For the bottom of exacta and trifecta tickets I will also use Santiamen, who is two for two, gets Ortiz, and who may be passing a many of these late.
Bet Bal Harbour to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
Bet Whereshetoldmetogo at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.
Play an exacta consisting of Bal Harbour and Whereshetoldmetogo over Bal Harbour, Whereshetoldmetogo, Dak Attack, Santiamen and Mask
Play the same tickets above as a trifecta using the same five horses in the third position as well as the second position.
San Gabriel Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita – Post time 6:30 PM Eastern Time (3:30 Pacific)
Editore has every right to post the upset in this year’s San Gabriel Stakes, opening at 15/1, as he’s in the best form of his life and has run well enough in his two most recent races to beat these. He’s a six year old who has only made 15 starts, the first six in his native Brazil, winning two of those races. He was winless in seven starts in the U.S., all on turf, before something took hold following two months off on October 15 on this turf course and at this 9 furlong trip. He won gamely by a head that day at 9/1 with a 113 Equibase figure, following that up with a win in the Berkeley Handicap (Grade 3) on the all-weather at Golden Gate fields, in a field of 14. The 114 figure earned in that race showed the previous effort to be no fluke and that figure was BETTER than the 112 figure Itsinthepost earned winning the 2017 San Gabriel Stakes. As such, Editore gets top billing.
He Will was narrowly defeated by a nose last month in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Stakes at Del Mar so fits perfectly at this level. Winner of the Lure Stakes prior to that, the horse he beat for 2nd last month came back to win last weekend and Smith has ridden him exceptionally well over the past 14 months, with two wins and two defeats by a head or less in six races. Itsinthepost won this race last year off a neck defeat in November in an allowance race and although his effort when last seen in November wasn’t as good as the previous year it came in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, so on class relief alone he must be respected as a contender. Tequila Joe and Flamboyant both have efforts that may be good enough to win and are certainly good enough to be part of the exacta. Tequila Joe missed by a neck to He Will in the Lure Stakes on 11/2 then found 12 furlongs too far in the Hollywood Turf Cup after that, backing out after a mile and a quarter after being in contention from the opening bell. Flamboyant won this race in 2016 at 46 to 1f and off a trio of third place finishes against tougher must be respected for a piece of the purse at the least.
Bet Editore to win at odds of 4 to 1 or higher and add a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.
Consider a win bet on He Will at odds of 3 to 1 or higher, and maybe a smaller win bet on Tequila Joe at odds of 4 to 1 or more.
Play an exacta box consisting of Editore, He Will, Itsinthepost, Tequila Joe and Flamboyant.
Consider a trifecta box among those five horses as well.
Consider an additional pair of exactas consisting of He Will over ALL and then playing the reverse of that exacta which is ALL over He Will.