Key Horse Races & Free Expert Picks For March 28

Orchid Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:17 PM Eastern

Kelsey’s Cross opens at 10/1 and I expect those odds to hold up because the filly is just two for 10 in her career and hasn’t won since September. After breaking her maiden last May on the Gulfstream Turf, she was stakes placed (third) in three straight stakes on turf before dropping to the first allowance level to win, again on the Gulfstream Park grass. After a poor race last October and two poor efforts to start her four year old campaign, Kelsey’s Cross may have shown signs of turning a corner three weeks ago in the Hillsborough Stakes. In that race she lagged last of 11 for the first seven furlongs of the nine furlong trip then split horses late to end up third, beaten three-quarters of a length for second. The winner was Starship Jubilee, who would be the odds-on favorite here, so that runner-up effort makes Kelsey’s Cross a superb fit here, particularly as Geroux rides back. Simply put, it won’t take much more than a repeat of that effort in this field to post the upset win.

Gentle Ruler has won six of her last seven races, including four stakes. The knock is the most recent of those came in October when taking the similar Dowager Stakes. However, I have little concern about her needing a race before picking up where she left off in the fall, both because she won off a November to late March layoff last year and because she put in a spectacular five furlong workout 12 days ago in 57.8. That being said, she opens at 7 to 2 and her best race isn’t superior to the best races of Kelsey’s Cross or Mean Mary.

Mean Mary returns from a two month layoff, last seen winning the nearly identical La Prevoyante Stakes in January. That was her first try in a marathon distance race and she led from start to finish, drawing off to win by five lengths under Saez, who rides back. Of the five horses drawn inside her, there are no “early” pace types so Mean Mary should have the early lead she wants and could be tough to catch. However, similar to Gentle Ruler, Mean Mary opens at 3 to 1 and is likely to go to post at lower odds so may not offer good value for a win bet, particularly as compared to Kelsey’s Cross, who opens at 10/1.

Bets:
Win: Kelsey’s Cross at odds of 4 to 1 or more.
Gentle Ruler at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas:
Box Kelsey’s Cross, Gentle Ruler and Mean Mary.

Doubles: Kelsey’s Cross, Gentle Ruler and Mean Mary in race 10 with Spice is Nice, Lucrezia and Tonalist’s Shape in race 11.

Pick 3: (two tickets)
Race 10: Kelsey’s Cross, Gentle Ruler and Mean Mary
Race 11: Spice is Nice, Lucrezia and Tonalist’s Shape
Race 12: Zulu Alpha

Race 10: Kelsey’s Cross, Gentle Ruler and Mean Mary
Race 11: Spice is Nice, Lucrezia and Tonalist’s Shape
Race 12: Zulu Alpha, Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel, Go Poke the Bear
Note: We should play the pick 3 twice because Zulu Alpha may be a prohibitive favorite in Race 12.

Gulfstream Park Oaks – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:49 PM Eastern

Lucrezia was an easy winner of the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa early last month, the win coming off a two month layoff AND in her first try as a three year old as well as was in her first try around two-turns. Since the race Lucrezia put in a fantastic five furlong drill and gets Leparoux, who rode her only once previously, to a win last fall in a turf sprint. The 98 Equibase figure earned, in a two-turn stakes for three year olds, is HIGHER than the 95 figure 5 to 2 morning line favorite Tonalist’s Shape earned winning the one turn Davona Dale Stakes so there is NO REASON at all Lucrezia should be opening at 8 to 1 as she is except for the bias against winning at Tampa vs winning at Gulfstream Park. Therefore she has to get top billing among three horses who have the bulk of the probability to win this race.

Spice is Nice was second in the Davona Dale and along with Tonalist’s Shape are the other two horses who can win this race. Spice is Nice may have a bit more upside of the pair as she is making her third career start but since Tonalist’s Shape is making her third start off a layoff that one can improve again too and perhaps beat Spice is Nice again. A well-bred daughter of Curlin who cost more than $1 million at Auction in the fall of 2018, Spice is Nice won her debut by 12 lengths before the Davona Dale, in which she ran second for the last half-mile. Tonalist’s Shape won the race leading from start to finish but does not need the lead to win as proven when winning the Forward Gal Stakes prior to that after stalking in fourth in the early stages. BOTH fillies are trying two turns for the first time, whereas Lucrezia is not, but both are talented and although poorer win bets than Lucrezia, have to be used on exacta tickets and multi-race tickets like the pick 3.

Bets:
Win: Lucrezia at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Exacta: Box Lucrezia, Tonalist’s Shape and Spice is Nice.

Daily Double: Lucrezia, Tonalist’s Shape and Spice is Nice in Race 11 with Zulu Alpha in Race 12
Daily Double: Lucrezia, Tonalist’s Shape and Spice is Nice in Race 11 with Zulu Alpha, Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel and Go Poke the Bear in Race 12

Pan American Stakes – Race 12 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:26 PM Eastern

This race is nearly a repeat of the Mac Diarmida Stakes run four weeks ago over the track. Zulu Alpha won that 11 furlong grade 3 marathon the same way he won the race in 2019, having won the McKnight Stakes last year at this 12 furlong trip. With a 10 for 28 career record on turf including four for five at Gulfstream Park and two stakes in a row, he could be the one to beat. Just the same, trainer Mike Maker has two others here in Bemma’s Boy and Go Poke the Bear and it is sometimes the case the higher odds of a Maker pair (or trio) can win in this kind of race. In other words, Maker doesn’t enter just to enter so although Zulu Alpha is a MUST to use on double and pick 3 tickets, as well as to key in the top slot on exacta and trifecta tickets, it may be a mistake to overlook Maker’s other two starters, in addition to Spooky Channel.

Spooky Channel won this year’s McKnight Stakes, which Zulu Alpha had won last year, on the course at this 12 furlongs trip. Leparoux was up for the win at odds of 36 to 1 and although the horse ran poorly when fifth in the Mac Diarmida, he still fits here particularly moving back to 12 furlongs. He’s now seven for 13 in his career on grass and he’s won at distances ranging from seven and one-half furlongs to one mile and seven-eighths. He’s a Kentucky bred by English Channel out of a Kitten’s Joy mare so can run as far as they write races and considering he opens at 20/1 I just can’t write him off.

Bemma’s Boy has run BIG both times he’s run this 12 furlong turf trip, first in October the first time he ever ran the distance. That was in a second level allowance race and he was flattered when the runner-up came out of the race to win, before not being disgraced one bit when beaten a grand total of three necks in the River City Handicap in November. After two months off, Bemma’s Boy returned to the 12 furlong trip and rallied from next to last to finish second in the Connally Stakes. Geroux gets on and the gelding gets a good ground saving inside post while opening at 10/1.

Opening at double those odds is Go Poke the Bear and this gelding could be a “Maker Special” as the trainer has a knack for spotting horses running at shorter distances and turning them into marathon stakes horses. He did that win Marzo last fall to win a marathon stakes at Keeneland he may have done it again with this horse. Claimed for $50K in October out of a 1 1/16 mile race, Maker gave Go Poke the Bear three months off and when he returned he ran a career best race to win with a rally from far back in 12th at nine furlongs over the course. My guess is Maker had this race in mind all along and Lopez (who was up for the first time in victory) rides back. Being a son of Kitten’s Joy, Go Poke the Bear can run well at this trip and we be kicking ourselves late if we didn’t at least make a small win bet at high odds.

Win Bets: Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel and Go Poke the Bear (even for a token amount like $5) at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas:
Zulu Alpha over Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel and Go Poke the Bear.

For a dollar or two, Box Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel and Go Poke the Bear.

Trifecta:
Zulu Alpha over Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel and Go Poke the Bear over ALL.
Zulu Alpha over ALL over Bemma’s Boy, Spooky Channel and Go Poke the Bear.