A fairly extraordinary preliminary allowances is the ninth race from Gulfstream Park today; older horses sprinting seven furlongs and featuring two very talented horses.

Can’t argue with those willing to take a very short price on Associate (8-5) who, when last seen at Santa Anita, was finished third to The Factor in the Grade 1 Malibu. This is what, a five class drop then?

Associate is much improved since Rick Dutrow claimed the horse from Linda Rice in the fall but given the regression last out, albeit vs. much better, we’re uncertain just where he might be in his form cycle today.

That’s why we’ll take Emcee (2-1) who is almost certain to leave the gate no lower than his early line quote, scratches notwithstanding.

Not only did he run fast in his debut last fall, he did it the right way with an opening Compression Line; good energy distribution and an indication today’s added furlong won’t hurt his chances.

Returning from layups of 90 days-plus is a specialty of the McLaughlin barn and he’s certainly been training right along at Palm Meadows for his South Florida debut. Johnny Velazquez gets the call.

Taking Emcee to win at 2-1 or greater, an exacta box with the favorite, and adding the sharp and fast class-climbing Macarthur Causeway.

Running Totals: (1018) 315-202-148 Total Dollar Return: $2,177.20 [win selections only]