HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, December 9, 2024 — It’s not so much that the analyst is making like some version of a Handicapping Tesio, we’re just trying to avoid the wet spots on the weather map.
As this is written, there’s a good chance of dry conditions in New Orleans [no, that’s not a typo], Oldsmar Florida or right here is Hallandale Beach. Here’s hoping the weather handicappers get on a roll.
Louisiana-breds take center stage at Fair Grounds and we’ll be hooking up the two features in a 7th-to-8th Daily Double, the Louisiana Champions Distaff and Louisiana Champions Classic.
Trainer Bret Calhoun has the early line favorite in both races.
In Northern Florida, the Marion County Stakes for is always entertaining and this year’s edition features the return of Breeders’ Cup Sprint pace-chaser Willy Boi and will get significant class relief in this spot. He handles both the Tampa strip and 7-furlong trip.
Two turf races grab our attention at out local venue where Gulfstream will offer two 7-1/2 turf routes–yes, because it’s around two turns–one for each sex.
The female division showcases Delight, who gave a good showing in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. Much of the Handicapping 101 X’s and O’s has been completed, but there’s much video to sort through. Stay tuned throughout the weekend…
PULPIT STAKES Race 4
The Skinny: Blinkers matter, as they did big time when added to the equipment of 4-Ari Gold (9-5) in his maiden-breaking New York finale. Todd Pletcher has chosen a wise spot–no upset there–for the colt’s stakes debut, a short 7-1/2 furlong two-turner, a dynamic he handled, well, handily, on NOV 6.
Ari Gold showed several gears while on the lead and, with plenty in reserve, finished well to complete his job in a very sharp final sixteenth. If he’s not lone speed here, he’ll be main speed, at the least. A repeat performance beneath Saez wins this.
But 2-Lights of Broadway (9-2), making his turf debut, is a stakes winner over the local Tapeta and is intriguing. He did benefit from a quick pace in that score, but battled between horses for a half-mile before setting sail on the clear outside, finishing with a rush to get up after the necessary lead change.
While it’s a small sample, the offspring of City of Lights have been enjoying themselves on the grass and if he’s anything like dad, over a surface other than synthetic, he may show more early speed and we know he can finish up with class, as his last indicates. At early line odds, we’ll gamble.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Ari Gold
POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE PLAY: Lights of Broadway
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box 2-4. Trifecta Wheel: 2.4 // 2.4 // 5.7.8. Trifecta Wheel 2.4 // 5.7.8 // 2.4. [5-Congruent 6-1, 6-Dangerous Ride 8-1, 7-Sendero 3-1]. Betting Lights of Broadway to win at 9-2 or greater
WAIT A WHILE STAKES Race 8
The Skinny: It’s not difficult identifying the right favorite. After all, 11-Delight (5-2) is exiting a decent effort in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf following a dominating score in her prior. On paper, she gets class relief here but is no layover and two other rivals deserve consideration.
If there was a hotter barn than Mark Casse’s in SoFla this week, I don’t know who it could be, and in 4-Personal Pursuit (7-2) he has a live runner. Check out her effort in the G3 Matron Stakes. In poor position throughout, she snaked her way through the stretch with a classy finish, beating half the field in a quickly run sprint. She has nature and nurture on her side stretching out to a second turn here and gets Tyler in the boot.
But we’re also a fan of the recent, privately purchased 7-Malleymoo (8-1), an impressive winner over a dozen rivals on synth debut at Dundalk in October. Trainer Jack Sisterson liked what he saw on video, suggested she be purchased privately, and got his wish. She won her debut as the favorite for Joseph O’Brien. On balance, the synth to turf scenario works well. The pedigree is there and her turn of foot should work nicely on the new Hallandale Beach lawn. Julien Leparoux breezed her and will ride.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Delight
POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE PLAY: Malleymoo
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box: 4-7-11. Superfecta Wheel: 4.7.11 // 4.7.11 // 22.214.171.124.8.11 // 126.96.36.199.8.11. Betting Malleymoo to win at 6-1 or greater.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
Conditioned Claimer [turf only] Race 8
The Skinny: Finally, 4-Mr. Sarcastic (5-1) is getting to do what he does best; some late kick high-stepping over the Tampa turf course. But to stay excited, 5-1 is a must as this two-turn mile is as open as it gets.
Mr. Sarcastic is shipping north from Gulfstream for not only his grass return following two runs on dirt and two recently on Tapeta following a layup. Those last two efforts provide all the conditioning he will need for this.
Of note, three of four lifetime wins have come on grass–he’s 1-for-19 on anything else–and two of those have come on this course. Further, both scores have come in local two-turns.
His last win was here on APR 16 following a surface switch to turf, and it came beneath Daniel Centeno, who reunites with him here for Renaldo Richards, who is 20% and profitable in 2022, and strikes with 22% of his shippers. We see the class rise as a sign of confidence.
With two speed types to his inside, we project Centeno to following them around while saving ground until ready for his late surge
The three rivals were fear most: speedy dropdown 1-Whiskey Plank (5-2); turf specialist 5-On the Couch (3-1), training locally since early November for second start off the Ryan claim–a good thing, and 10-Artemus Bridge (4-1), shipping in and dropping for Steve Klesaris.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Whiskey Plank
POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE PLAY: Mr. Sarcastic
EXOTICA and Straight Wagers: Trifecta Key-Box 4 // 1-5-10. Betting Mr. Sarcastic to win at 5-1 or greater.
LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS LADIES DISTAFF Race 7
The Skinny: Some nice Louisiana-bred fillies have run and won this 1-1/16 miles two turner. Today’s renewal attracted a field of eight and is looks like a three-filly affair among the early line choices: 3-Winning Romance (8-5), 5-A.G.’s Charlotte (3-1), and 8-Fort Polk (4-1).
Unfortunately, the favorite appears to be a tough out, even if she has a lamentably place-laden record. But the good news is she tries and likes NOLA. She’s (6) 2-3-1 on this oval and (5) 1-3-0 at the trip. She disappointed in last but Bret Calhoun is 28% efficient with beaten favorites and DeShaun Parker currently is riding with a hot hand for a barn that’s 21% in LAY-3 scenarios, the case here.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Winning Romance
POSSIBLE WIN-VALE PLAY: A.G.’s CHARLOTTE
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box 3-5-8. Betting rallier A.G.’s Charlotte to win at 3-1 or greater
LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS CLASSIC Race 8
The Skinny: Once again, Calhoun is saddling the favorite, 7-Who Took the Money (4-5), also to be handled by Parker. Gelded four year old also is a LAY-3 runner and loves the surface (5) 4-0-1. His preference for this oval can make up for a pedigree that does not inspire confidence at 9 furlongs. He toted 124 successfully last out so it’s a question of taking a short price on the most accomplished runner. Not for us.
By contrast, we prefer the “other” Calhoun, 4-Highland Creek (6-1), who likes it here well enough– (9) 2-3-1–was second in his only start at today’s trip as his pedigree is certainly long enough to get the trip. He distributes his energy well going long and Beschizza, the last rider to win aboard the gelded four-year-old, is taking a return call.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Who Took the Money
POTENTIAL WIN-VALUE PLAY: Highland Creek
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Trifecta Wheel 4.7 // 4.7 // 3.5.6. Trifecta Wheel: 4.7 // 3.5.6 // 4.7. [3-Toughuponastar 6-1, 5-Behemeh Star 9-2, 6-Ballinonabudget 8-1]. Betting Highland Creek to win at 9-2 or greater.
Per usual, exotic wagers should be made at minimums available, straight wagers in $2 units, or greater
this is a live column that will be updated periodically