Race 8 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:28 PM Eastern
Although the championship meeting at Gulfstream is behind us and although this isn’t a stakes race, the eighth race at Gulfstream is a KEY RACE because I’ve been waiting for Rose Velvet to return to the races since her last start in July, 2018. The mare was purchased privately by Team Valor prior to her U.S. debut in March, 2018, following two races in Italy which were both very good as the first was a runner-up effort in a field of 13, followed by a win by four lengths against males in a field of seven. She took a while to get acclimated to U.S. racing and was off for 14 months but her U.S. debut effort was rock solid when fourth in a blanket finish at this first allowance condition, well regarded at 5 to 1 odds. She came back three months later last June and stalked in second early before making the lead in the stretch but tired badly to fifth then the next month when sent to Monmouth came an effort in a race she absolutely should have won if not for tremendous traffic trouble. She was the best horse by far in that field when sent to post at 2 to 1 but she was without room to run from the quarter pole to the eighth pole and pretty much came to a complete stop when full of run at the sixteenth pole, ending up third. She has been working steadily for her comeback, she gets Lasix for the first time, and hustling jockey Juarez gets on. Her starting odds of 8 to 1 will likely be corrected a bit but considering 7 to 5 morning line favorite Ferdinanda will be overbet and loves to finish second (career record 2-7-0 in 13 turf starts), we still should get decent odds for a win bet on Rose Velvet, who should win if she gets a clean trip.
For the exacta, we should use the favorite (Ferdinanda) as well as Chilled Milk, who has won two in a row on the course.
Win Bet: Rose Velvet to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.
Exacta: Box Rose Velvet and Ferdinanda. Box Rose Velvet and Chilled Milk.
Pick 3 at Laurel in Races 9 – 10 – 11
Weber City Miss Stakes – Race 9 at Laurel – Post Time 5:12 PM Eastern
Federico Tesio Stakes – Race 10 at Laurel – Post time 5:42 PM Eastern
Henry S. Clark Stakes – Race 11 at Laurel – Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern
The reason I’m taking a shot with this three race sequence is the first two legs are “free squares” in my opinion and in the third race of the sequence, there are two contenders for turf and one if the race is moved to dirt. The pick three may not pay a lot but if the payoff is $10 for every $1, considering the very high probabilities of the contenders winning, it could be found money. In the Weber City Miss, Las Setas stands out as she just won two similar stakes in a row, beating some of these, by five lengths each and there’s not much different about this race of this field to conspire to beat her. In the Federico Tesio, Alwaysmining proved he could handle two turns for the first time when winning the Private Terms Stakes last month and making his third start off a layoff should run even better as he goes for his sixth win in a row.
I’ll cover the Henry S. Clark Stakes later in the blog, but if the race stays on turf the winner should be Phlash Phelps or Irish Strait and if moved to dirt, Cordmaker is a standout.
Race 9 – Las Setas
Race 10 – Alwaysmining
Race 11 – Phlash Phelps, Irish Strait, Cordmaker
Dance to Bristol Stakes – Race 10 at Charles Town – Post Time 5:01 PM Eastern
Lake Ponchatrain sticks out here and opens at 2 to 1 but went to post as the 4 to 5 favorite when winning a similar stakes at this distance over the track last month, so I think she will once again be the prohibitive favorite. That’s okay, considering the four contenders in race 11, the Charles Town Classic, are unlikely to be favored and may go to post at decent odds, allowing for some actual value in doubles. There may be value in the trifecta as well. Lake Ponchatrain has won 12 of 23 at Charles Town and as the nice win last month came following three months off there’s improving to do as well. Isotope finished second but was well beaten in that race and although she gets a jockey change to Castellano I don’t think she can turn the tables, but opening at 6 to 1 offers value in the exotics. Tweeting has finished second five times in her 17 race career, to go along with just a pair of wins, including runner-up finishes in her last two races, so she’s the other to play in the trifecta under the logical winner.
Win Bet: In the unlikely event Lake Ponchatrain goes to post at 6 to 5 or better, she would be a good win bet given her probability to win projects to fair odds of 4 to 5.
Trifecta: Lake Ponchatrain over Isotope and Tweeting over ALL.
The best bet involving this race is the Double to the Charles Town Classic, as follows:
Double: Lake Ponchatrain in Race 10 with Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan in Race 11.
Charles Town Classic Stakes – Race 11 at Charles Town – Post Time 5:37 PM Eastern
There are a number of vulnerable low odds horses is year’s edition of the Charles Town Classic. Something Awesome won the race last year and Imperative won in 2014 and again in 2017. However, Something Awesome finished 10th in both races this year and enters this year’s Classic off a totally different pattern then last when having won a stakes at Laurel one month earlier. Imperative has been beaten nearly 60 lengths in his last three starts and is winless and uncompetitive in top company since his 2017 win. 2018 Charles Town Classic runner-up War Story enters the race off both a very poor effort and a five month layoff and Discreet Lover, winner of last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup at 45 to 1, returns off a five month layoff, having finished sixth in last year’s race, with no signs he can run competitively off the bench.
That leaves us with four contenders:
Runnin’toluvya doesn’t have any of the questions regarding form, fitness, recent races or the ability to win at the distance of the Charles Town Classic which many of the other entrants have. Going back to June of last year, Runnin’toluvya has reeled off eight straight wins and if not for a neck defeat last May would be going for his 11th win in a row. Many of the wins came against similar horses bred in West Virginia only, but Runnin’toluvya proved superior to his competition in all those races as he was in front with an eighth of a mile to go and coasted home each time. Two of those wins came at the mile and one-eighth distance of the Classic including a then career-best 107 Equibase Speed Figure effort last November in the A Huevo Stakes. Rested for more than four months, Runnin’toluvya returned last month in the local prep for the Classic, the Russell Road Overnight Prep Stakes at seven furlongs and he picked up where he left off in the fall with an easy win. In the Russell Road, Runnin’toluvya earned a new career-best figure of 110 which was better than the 108 figure Imperative earned winning the race in 2017. Although the figure was not as good as the 118 figure Something Awesome earned winning the Classic last year, considering Runnin’toluvya will be making his second start off a layoff and stretching out from seven to nine furlongs, which he did to win the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Stakes last fall, a new best effort and figure are possible which gives him a nice chance to post the upset and win this year’s Charles Town Classic.
Diamond King is another Classic entrant who has no questions of fitness as he just ran on March 22. That was his first effort against older horses and he passed the test with flying colors as he earned a career-best 108 figure winning by three and three-quarter lengths. On this weekend last year, Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes when stretching out from one-turn to two-turns as he is doing here and as the colt is making his second start following nearly six months off, a new career-best effort is entirely possible.
Rally Cry returns from more than seven months off but since his trainer is Todd Pletcher it is unlikely he will need a race before showing his best. According to STATS Race Lens, in the past two years, Pletcher has a strong 13 for 31 record with horses returning from a layoff of 180 days or more in a dirt route. John Velazquez rode Rally Cry to his biggest win when victorious by eight and three-quarter lengths in the Alydar Stakes in the summer of 2017 and at the distance of the Classic and that effort earned the horse a career-best 125 figure which, if repeated, would make him tough to beat. Winless in four races since then, Rally Cry had only two starts in 2018, resulting in fourth place finishes. However, considering Pletcher won this race in 2012 with Caixa Eletronica and again in 2016 with Stanford, I think Rally Cry may be up to the task.
Unbridled Juan shows up every time as evidenced by 16 first or second place finishes in his 29 race career including a five for seven first or second record at this nine furlong trip. He earned 106 figures when third and beaten a pair of necks in the John B. Campbell Stakes in February and when winning the Richard W. Small Stakes last November and another top effort would be no surprise.
Win bets: Runnin’toluvya to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.
Diamond King and Rally Cry to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more.
Unbridled Juan to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more.
Note: This is a race we can, and should, bet at least two of the horses above to win, and 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.
Exacta: Box Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan.
Trifecta: Box Diamond King, Rally Cry, Runnin’toluvya and Unbridled Juan.
Henry S. Clark Stakes – Race 11 at Laurel – Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern
If we are live in the Pick 3 started in race 9 at Laurel, there may be no reason to play this race individually and every reason to sit back and root for the pick 3 to get home. However, if we aren’t, or if the odds on the contenders offer an edge, we should play. On turf, Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait looks most probable, with the former the better value for win bets starting at 9 to 2 compared to 2 to 1. Phlash Phelps missed by a half-length in the Maryland Millions Turf Stakes when last seen in October, on a yielding course, and missed by a head to the very talented Unbridled Juan in an off-turf race (run on dirt) two before that. He shows up nearly every time and no matter the surface the race is run on could be very tough from start to finish. Irish Strait won a classified allowance race in January on the grass before being overmatched but beaten just over a length in the grade three Tampa Bay Stakes in February. He’s won on dirt as well and should fire a nice shot fresh no matter the surface this race is run on. If the race is moved to dirt, in spite of Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait having a good shot to be competitive, Cordmaker is the on to beat based on his big win last month in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes over the track, beating the aforementioned tough cookie Unbridled Juan in the process. A lightly raced four year old, he’s four for 11 overall with all four wins coming on the Laurel main track including two stakes.
Win bet: Phlash Phelps to win at odds of 2 to 1 (turf or dirt).
If the race is run on dirt, Cordmaker to win at odds of 6 to 5 or more.
Exacta: On turf, box Phlash Phelps and Irish Strait.
On dirt, box Phlash Phelps, Irish Strait and Cordmaker.