In it’s infancy, the one mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes that begins the Road to the Florida Derby has proven more of a jumping off point to get the 3-year-old year off to a lively start, a proving ground for precocious types as they stretch a few more furlongs, or a one-turn prep for the more significant Holy Bull and/or Fountain of Youth.
The sprinters in this lineup thus far have been good ones. While the speed table was set for him on debut, the Bill Mott trained Graphic Detail (5-2) made up five lengths in a bit more than a furlong to break maiden and has worked rapidly since.
Simplification (3-1) was a powerhouse breaking maiden in his second start, his first run on dirt, running fast from end to end. But those exertions took a toll with his flat performance while finishing a one-paced third at 3-10. Ouch!
Strike Hard (2-1) is a worthy early line favorite whose both life wins on this trip came at today’s trip. He responded well with the addition of blinkers last time, winning by four, but not enough to snap him out of his left-lead stretch antics in four of his five lifetime scores. Hot-riding Junior Alvarado takes a return call.
But Skippylongstocking (7-2) looks the most interesting of all. Beaten a whisker for third when four lengths behind the favorite, he did the hard work, pressed into a mid-race move to hold position. See the Going Gulfstream Video on the HRI homepage and check it out: GP, DEC 5, Race 10.
Nicely drawn outside in this six-horse lineup, re-riding Tyler Gaffalione should have better options, moving when he’s ready instead of forced into making a premature move. He gets two pounds from the favorite and adds blinkers, working crisply at his PMM base for Saffie Joseph Jr.
Taking Skippylongstocking to win at 5-2 or greater. For something a bit more exotic, check back Saturday am before 10 for some vertical plays along with a look at other 3-year-old stakes from around the country.