HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., February 25, 2021 — Going to the races Saturday!
Now there’s something I’ve taken for granted my whole adult life–just as the pre-Covid world took virtually everything they’ve done in their lives has–and for this day I feel blessed: Horse racing; loving it warts and all.
I will have some company at Gulfstream Park Saturday as there will be a limited number of people on hand. The live crowd is capped at 2,000, but there probably will be fewer than that.
Don’t know what the admission price will be, but fans must purchase a seat. If it’s anything like Pegasus Day, which had a larger crowd, I will feel safe as the seats are cordoned off at socially appropriate distances, with room to spare.
If you don’t own a small piece of Gulfstream real estate, there’s nowhere else you can hide as certain areas are completely off limits, even to the credentialed media.
This will be my fourth or fifth trip in a year and I can vouch that Gulfstream knows how to do lock-down.
There are nine stakes on tomorrow’s program and we have some ideas to share about the last four races. And we’ll try to come up with an interesting play in Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes, which will mark the return of the undefeated juvenile champion, Essential Quality. Here goes:
G3 HONEY FOX STAKES Race 11
WORTHY FAVORITE: Got Stormy (7-5)
VALUE BET: Zofelle (7-2) to win at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2.6.8 (Jakarta 15-1) Trifecta Wheel 2.6 // 2.6.8 // 126.96.36.199.8
G2 DAVONA DALE Race 12
WORTHY FAVORITE: Vequist (7-5)
VALUE BET: Curlin’s Catch (8-1) to win at 5-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 3.4. Exacta Box 188.8.131.52. (added Lady Traveler 8-1 and Millefeuille 5-1) to the top two. Superfecta Wheel 3.4 // 184.108.40.206 // 220.127.116.11 //18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.11
G3 THE VERY ONE Race 13
WORTHY FAVORITE: Belle Laura (5-1)
VALUE BET: Tuned to win (6-1) at 9-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2.4.5 (added Heavenly Curlin 8-1) . Exacta Box 2.4.6 (added Kalifornia Queen 4-1). Superfecta Wheel 126.96.36.199 // 188.8.131.52 // 184.108.40.206.6.7.10 // 220.127.116.11.6.7.10
G2 FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH Race 14
WORTHY FAVORITE: Greatest Honour (9-5)
VALUE BET: Prime Factor (5-1) to win at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1.2.8 (added Drain the Clock (5-1). Exacta Box 2.4.8 (added Fire At Will 7-2). Exacta Box 2.7.8 (added Tarantino (8-1). Superfecta Wheel 2.8 // 18.104.22.168.8 // 22.214.171.124.8.10 // 126.96.36.199.7.8.10
G3 SOUTHWEST STAKES Race 10
WORTHY FAVORITE: Essential Quality (3-2)
VALUE BET: Jackie’s Warrior (8-5) at early line odds or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1.4.5 (added Santa Cruiser 12-1). Trifecta Wheel 1.4 // 188.8.131.52.6 // 184.108.40.206.6.7
Fountain of Youth field listed in post position with early line odds:
1-DRAIN THE CLOCK (5-1) opted for this two-turner instead of the Gotham, a sign of confidence from the barn, Long on speed and bottom-wide pedigree, he must prove more than a brilliant sprinter. Early speed, pole position and a first-finish line race all work in his favor. Zayas sticks.
2-PRIME FACTOR (5-1) spotted the field tons of experience as the over-bet favorite in the Holy Bull. Outer draw forced him to lost ground on the first turn and throughout the race. Combination of that, two turns and a brilliant late running rival proved too much. Working sharply since, moves inside, Irad remains and rates to move forward in a big way.
3-SOSOSUBTLE (20-1) broke maiden impressively vs. state-bred maidens in main track debut going a flat mile here but loses Alvarado to Papetu, Lasix is off and the pace will be a lot harder than when he stalked the leaders in soft-paced victory JAN 20. Gets Paco and inside draw, however.
4-FIRE AT WILL (7-2) is one of the more versatile horses we’ve seen in recent years, He broke maiden in an off-the-turf With Anticipation at Saratoga from well off the pace, took advantage of a soft pace to win the G2 Pilgrim and athletic enough to work out a pocket trip in the quicker, G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Has had seven works for 3YO debut, every seven days since JAN 9. Should be sharp and fit, ultimate question of class rise on dirt.
5-JIRAFALES (20-1) Like Prime Factor, very short on experience heading into the Holy Bull and raced evenly in the back of the pack throughout while only ridden out. Very likely to benefit, has had two purposeful works since and gets switch to come-backing Javier Castellano. With improvement might land a minor share of this…
6-KING’S OVATION (15-1) showed marked improvement while finishing second to Drain the Clock in the Swale after awaiting a little room at headstretch after having a perfect trip to that point. Galloped out with the winner into clubhouse turn and drilled five-eighths in 59 4/5 for Dale Romans who often strikes when least expected.
7-TARANTINO (8-1) was a great second in Holy Bull in dirt debut aster stalking/chasing the pace throughout, proving clearly second best to Fountain of Youth favorite. Local Zayas either making political decision to stick with local barn or is more impressed with Drain the Clock. Picking up Tyler G certainly doesn’t hurt his chances if he can avoid reaction to recent taxing effort.
8-GREATEST HONOUR (9-5) is a brilliant colt not because he impresses with early speed but rather with the electric turn of foot he showed, putting away the Holy Bull leaders in a matter of strides at headstretch, winning with something left. Scopey, long striding colt looks like he can grow into his frame and improve as the season lengthens. Interesting Derby prospect and most deserving favorite.
9-TIZ TACT TOE (30-1) should be 300-1. First-time gelding does add blinkers but loses Lasix and maiden will try to win a Grade 2 in his dirt debut. Jose Ortiz staying with Greatest Honour–duh.
10-PAPETU (15-1) is loved by his connections who thought enough to ship him to Saratoga for a pair of graded stakes last summer. He was a good second in the Mucho Macho Man going a flat mile in 3YO debut and made some mid-race move in the Holy Bull but finished one-paced. Tough draw but Junior Alvarado has been on a stakes tear since Saratoga but today’s challenge is a formidable one.
The Kentucky Derby trail reaches the Fountain of Youth Stakes this weekend at Gulfstream Park, and it is the focus of the Ron Flatter Racing Pod. Trainer Steve Asmussen talks about his top Derby prospect Jackie’s Warrior. John Pricci of Horse Race Insider offers a preview from south Florida. VSiN’s Vinny Magliulo handicaps Saturday’s preps. There is also Twitter feedback and comments on Churchill Downs’ impending sale of Arlington Park. The RFRP is available for download Friday and free subscription now at iHeart, Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher and at VSiN.com/podcasts. It is sponsored by 1/ST BET.
(Back later with an betting grid update