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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

UPDATE FINALE: TWO STAKES FROM FAIR GROUNDS AND GULFSTREAM’S TROPICAL PARK DERBY

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, December 22. 2023 — Horseplayers know never to say never. That acknowledged, I almost never have seen a horizontal sequence this side Derby Day as difficult as today’s Late Pick 5 at Gulfstream Park.

That category includes four stakes, two of them graded, and the only plausible “free square” comes in the first leg, a lowly $6,250 claimer that attracted eight players and a 7-5 chance from the connections of the going concern of Jose D’Angelo and Irad Ortiz Jr.

At first glance, we pared the 13-filly Tropical Park Oaks to an uncomfortable six, the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector seven of nine sprinters, losing two 20-1 chances, and the 14-entrants Tropical Park Derby down to eight. Note that we have not yet begun the video analysis required.

Seeking relief, we chose two more manageable, albeit challenging, stakes events at Fair Grounds, the Buddy Diliberto Memorial on turf, the first stop of the road to the G2 Muniz Memorial, and the Gun Runner, the first stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, mini-points included. We’ll start in N’awlins.

FAIR GROUNDS

DILIBERTO MEMORIAL Race 10

DESERVING FAVORITE: 12-Two Emmys (3-1) celebrated Horse for Course goes well fresh and Hugh Robertson outfit sending out live runners.

BEST VALUE: 11-Harlan Estate (6-1) is the now horse getting some class relief, has recency, competitive figures, and Beckman-Cannon Team going well at the moment.

EXOTICA: 9-Rising Empire (6-1)

GUN RUNNER STAKES Race 12

DESERVING FAVORITE: 6-Nash (7-5) visually impressive daylight winner owns layover Thoro-Graph figure.

BEST VALUE: 8-Track Phantom (7-2) excellent energy distribution in recent maiden breaker at today’s trip and will have position should top one falter.

EXOTICA: 2-Catching Freedom (5-1)

GULFSTREAM PARK

TROPICAL PARK DERBY Race 11

DESERVING FAVORITE: 9-Ohana Honor (3-1) has developed rapidly this fall–fast, and progressive on Thoro Graph scale, fits race shape as does switch to Tyler G

BEST VALUE: AE-13 Irish Aces (6-1) fresh gelding, both lifetime wins at this trip, attracts Irad.

EXOTICA: 7-Souper Blessing (8-1), 4-April Fools Andy (15-1)

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