HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 19, 2023 – Perhaps it’s because the Breeders’ Cup Pre-Entries announcement is six days hence, or because 106 horses—9.63 runners per race–were entered overnight on Saturday’s program, but thoughts have turned to fall ad winter racing at Gulfstream Park.
So we’ll be playing a home game this weekend where two always entertaining Florida Sires Stakes, the 7-furlong Susan’s Girl for the girls and Affirmed for the boys, which surrounds the Campbell Memorial for three-year-olds and up, makes for a nice South Florida-bred sandwich.
Consequently, it’s only appropriate we come up with the Skinny on the Rainbow 6 races this weekend at Gulfstream, including A, B, and C horses and perhaps a winning bet grid, too, as we keep the dream alive to find a Breeders’ Cup bankroll at the end of Saturday’s rainbow.
Optional Claiming Allowances RACE 6
The Skinny: Off their latest efforts, Mish (6-5) and Black Belt (6-1) will take beating. The favorite is 6-for-11 here, has won at the trip, and knows how to distribute her energy. Black Belt has also won a half dozen in Hallandale, winning his last with reserves in tact. Peter Walder is profitable with turnbacks.
Coppermeister is 1-for-1 at seven-eighths and Rohan Crichton is 27% effective first time off the claim. Morgan Point (8-1) worked brilliantly for this and Doc Amster (5-1) takes a meaningful class drop.
A: Mish. B: Black Belt (6-1), Coppermaster (20-1), Morgan Point (8-1). C: Doc Amster (5-1)
Optional Allowances RACE 7
The Skinny: Another competitive 7-furlong run looks primarily like a battle between two returnees, Big Martini (5-2) and Classic Car Wash (9-2). The former has worked his way up the ladder, winning three of his last four, impressing in July prior to the layup and is working very well for his return.
But it’s interesting that Emisael Jaramillo opts to stick with Classic Car Wash who hasn’t run since his off-the-board finish in the G1 Blue Grass. Previously, he was second and third in the Tampa Derby and Sam F Davis. He’s won at the trip on this surface and obviously gets class relief in his return.
X Y Point (4-1) was a good second for a new barn and with first-Lasix in his return from a layup SEP 23. The competition would be wise not to allow this guy to get an easy uncontested lead.
A: Big Martini, Classic Car Wash. B: X Y Point. C: Double Play King (8-1)
SUSAN’S GIRL STAKES RACE 8
The Skinny: An obvious favorite and very likely single of the rainbow chasers and, yes, R Harper Rose (9-5) is a deserving hot favorite, forward and fastest on the Thoro-Graph scale and won both starts by a combined 12 lengths. A layover? Yes. A walkover? Not so fast my friends.
There are three contenders worthy of mention, for various reasons: Welcome Back (6-1) had every reason to lose her stakes debut but refused to do so, overcoming a rough trip to do so. The move outside should help her style.
Honey Dijon (4-1) is interesting. She broke maiden impressively in Saratoga then tried Kentucky Downs turf where she showed some early foot, dropped back on the turn, then re-rallied into contention midstretch but tired understandably. She makes her first start with Florida breds for her owner/breeder. Think she’s well meant?
Dancing In Dixie (15-1) showed good extension with a strong finish at two turns on Tapeta. Obviously has the conditioning and Casse barn is 21% following the maiden-breaker and similarly going sprint-route-sprint.
A: R Harper Rose. B: Honey Dijon, Welcome Back, Dancing in Dixie.
GIL CAMPBELL MEMORIAL RACE 9
The Skinny: Very difficult to go past the two favorites in whatever pool you enter. In short, Dean Delivers (7-5) and Big and Classy (3-1) are just that—and fast, too.
When last seen, Dean Delivers set the pace but was no match for Gunite and Elite Power. Not many sprinters are. But he did become G1 placed in Saratoga’s Vanderbilt after winning the G3 Smile Sprint here.
After finishing second to ‘Dean’ in the Smile, he won two of his next three starts. He won each of his last three when asked to go 7 furlongs. He gets two pounds from the favorite.
A: Dean Delivers, Big and Classy. C: Octave (12-1), The Skipper Too (12-1).
AFFIRMED STAKES RACE 10
The Skinny: Before getting to the favorites, what makes this a difficult call beyond the public’s choices is the fact that most of the winning races are coming off sprints shorter than 6 furlongs. Do some pedigree work and pray.
Without overthinking, or overpaying for coverage, the favorites are deserving. Bentornato (9-5) is 3-for-3 lifetime, including two restricted stakes and distributed his energy well on both occasions. Two wins on the main track and a series of good work since taking the state-bred Dr. Fager.
Hurricane Nelson (5-2) is a maiden after two starts but still might go favorite due to his recent top-figure effort. He debuted at Saratoga going 7 furlongs, just getting run down in final strides. Out of the race he was purchased privately by Dean Reeves and turned over to Christophe Clement and had a bullet speed sharpener before leaving Belmont. Local leader Edgard Zayas, who went to Saratoga for a reason, is back aboard.
After that, roll the dice. Echo Lane (30-1), bobbled at the break, rushed up inside into contention, waited for room at headstretch, altered course and finished well just missing, live price shot. Squints (20-1), surrounded throughout his 7-furlong debut, responded to urging at mid-turn and prevailed for Kelly Breen, nailing Echo Lane in the last jump.
Mattingly (6-1) proved clearly best in two starts on Tapeta and makes dirt debut with Sammy Camacho on the re-ride. Lasso (20-1) was a non-factor in the Dr. Fager but ran on fairly well for fourth in G2 Saratoga Special behind a blowout winner. Rye’s My Guy (20-1) broke maiden in a professional effort, his second start and first off the Emmy Gaffney claim.
A: Hurricane Nelson, Bentornato, Echo Lane. B: Mattingly. C: Squints, Rye’s My Guy, Lasso
OPTIONAL ALLOWANCES RACE 11
The Skinny: As if the sequence wasn’t vexing enough, nothing like an inscrutable optional allowances to conclude the sequence. On the first pass we left seven of 13 entrants open and could only narrow it down by none. Hopefully, the ‘A’s’ will live up to their billing, both here and earlier.
We’re compelled to use at least four–three if AE13 Sunshine Frolic (12-1) fails to break in, the others being Sigrun Fast Boy (12-1), The Best Distance (7-2) and Uno Tiger (10-1) many of which are making their second start off the layup.
‘Sigrun’ chased a moderate pace throughout and finished gamely for third against the race dynamics and stretch interference and which, in our opinion, should have been placed second as the winner came out and bumped him twice, the first knocking him off stride costing him second money. He has some tactical speed to the move inside should help.
The Best Distance has been going very well of late, distributes his speed well and is 3-for-8 on AW, 2-for-25 on all other surfaces. Uno Tiger should improve in his LAY-2 scenario, improving last out off the freshening since returning to the O’Connell shed. He also is a synth lover and an 4-time winner at the trip. AE-Sunshine Frolic showed good two of foot in a two-move maiden score last out, extending nicely after taking command.
Tiz Romantic (9-2) makes his second start for Saffie, a profitable 27% scenario and Surrogate (15-1) makes first start off the Dibona claim (22%) GP stable rider Samy Camacho is in the boot and recent 47.40 breeze was 7th best of 68 peers to work the week of OCT. 13.
A: The Best Distance, Sunshine Frolic, Sigrun Fast Boy, Unto Tiger. B: Tiz Romantic, Surrogate
[In all cases with multiple category qualifiers, horses are listed in order of preference]
this begins a live column that will be updated throughout the weekend