The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, January 12, 2023 – With weather projections forecasting an absence of precipitation for Saturday, Tote Busters© will remain in the Sunshine State, covering races from the south and north.

In Oldsmar, three-year-olds will sprint 7 furlongs in the Pasco and Gasparilla, almost always interesting bridge races to the two-turners ahead on February 11.

In Hallandale, Gulfstream is offering its usual blockbuster weekend program featuring a Florida-bred double of the Sunshine F & M Turf into the Sunshine Sprint, races nine and 10.

The fields may be on the short side but the degree of difficulty is high, presenting players an opportunity for value. First up, is Tampa Bay Downs where colts will hold sway in the Pasco Stakes:

PASCO STAKES                                                                Race 6

MOST PROBABLE WINNER Champagne Dream, 6-5

Looked beaten at the eighth pole but kept grinding away to take the G3 Nashua in the final strides in a gutsy effort. Will be set to pounce late with the turnback from the mile in New York.

EARLY LINE VALUE Armstrong, 6-1

Mark Casse enters an uncoupled stablemate here who was a game winner of a Canadian-bred stakes last out. Picks up six pounds from the added-money score, makes his dirt debut but is 2-for-2 with Lasix and gamely repulsed two challengers to win in his Woodbine finale.

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT PLAY: Exacta Box: 2-4-5. [2-Loco Abarrio won his last off the Ron Spatz claim as easy as he pleased]. We’ll bet Armstrong to win at 4-1 or greater.

GASPARILLA STAKES                                                         Race 9


Never has taken a backwards step on the Thoro-Graph scale, has the most experience and is a multiple stakes winner. Strong 5F blowout for this.

EARLY LINE VALUE  Opus Forty Two, 12-1

Broke maiden last out but Arnaud Delacour 27% effective off a maiden win, also blew out strongly and impressed with her turn of foot on the turn to blow the race wide open. Just might be ready for the step-up.

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT PLAY:  Exacta Box 3-4-7-8. [3-Dreaming of Snow (9-2) won last most impressively, plus it’s Gerald Bennett and Samy Camacho. 8-Awesome Pic (9-2) was very game second to ‘Vader’ in Z-pattern performance last out from pole, now switches outside and getting six pounds from the favorite. We’re betting Awesome Pic to win at 7-2 or greater and a saver wager with Opus Forty Two at 7-1 or more.


SUNSHINE FILLY & MARE TURF                               Race 9

Only one problem with the Sunshine F & M Turf: The classiest runners lack turf experience and the one that does has not been at her best for new connections. Consider:

Carlo Vaccarezza has been going well of late but not so his son’s filly. Since showing promise early in her three-year-old year, there have been worrisome gaps in her form. She goes well when fresh and earns competitive figures consistently, but while she’s bred on the dam’s side for turf debut, not so sire Jess’s Dream. But she attracts Rosario so is live in this spot.

Sugar Fix has good company lines and turf record but has not been the same since exiting the Joseph barn, although admittedly facing tougher. Avow has won two of three lifetime for the Pletcher/Irad team and her figures are fast and forward. She is another with bottom side turf pedigree but not from her sire.

We have no idea who the most probable winner is and the value will be the filly that falls through the parimutuel cracks. So, what to do?

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGER: Taking three price shots in an exacta box: 1-Sonar (8-1), who was tentatively handled by her rider in last; 6-Crystal Coast (8-1), who blew out clearly weaker with a strong turn of foot in midstretch and Saez sticks, and 9-Mona Stella (10-1) who needed her last on Tapeta, is now back on her best surface and switches back to Jose Ortiz. Sticking with condition over class and betting Crystal Coast to win at 6-1 or greater.

Sunshine Sprint Race 10

A video review of the 7th race on November 13, sealed this deal for us; it’s just so difficult to get caught moving nearly 5-wide when racing 5-1/2F on November 13. This hard-hitting gelding just loves it here in Hallandale and usually runs his race, even when he doesn’t win. He earns competitive figures with consistency by anyone’s measure and comes in her fresh for a very live Carlos David barn and Paco is taking a return call.

The biggest danger is likely to come from Lightening Larry who has improved markedly for another live barn, Jorge Delgado’s who gets good result when he gives Jose Morelos a leg up. He has enough tactical speed to overcome his rail draw and stalk from close range. He’s a multiple local winner and if he ca duplicate his effort in a Pimlico Grade 3 on the Preakness undercard.

Cheryl Winebaugh’s five year old Boca Boy gets the mini-turnback from 6-1/2 furlongs at Hawthorne and is certainly fast enough to upset this group. We won’t let “the other” David beat us and will include him in a second exacta mix.

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGER: Exacta Box 1-2-5. Exacta Box 1-5-6. Betting Legal Deal to win at 3-1 or greater.

Per usual, suggested exotic wagers to be made a minimums available, or multiples thereof, with straight wagers in $2 units

this is a live column and will be updated throughout the weekend

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *