Gulfstream Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, February 29

Davona Dale Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 3:59 PM Eastern

Reluctant Bride is very intriguing here opening at 15/1. Favorites Spice is Nice and Tonalist’s Shape are the horses to beat.

Reluctant Bride tries dirt after two turf tries, the first a win sprinting in her career debut and the second a sixth of seven finish in the Sweetest Chant Stakes. The reason she’s so intriguing is Biancone’s record in the past year with horses he tries on dirt. One of those was Sole Volante, who finished third in the Mucho Macho Man then won the Sam Davis. Another is Ete Indien, who finished second in the Holy Bull and has a strong chance to post the upset in the Fountain of Youth (Race 14) today. Another is Diamond Oops, who won a pair of stakes on dirt as well as nearly won the Shadwell Turf Mile. Reluctant Bride is by Speightstown so there’s no question she can run well on dirt and even better, her dam (Sassy Image) earned $800K on dirt and the only other foal is a dirt winner. The 35.4 workout four days ago tells me the filly is fit and none of these, except perhaps the unbeaten Tonalist’s Shape, are monsters so if this filly runs well on the dirt she can help us make a nice profit.

Tonalist’s Shape is unbeaten in four starts and won her last two races, both stakes over the track including at this one-turn mile trip easily. This is her second race back from two months off and second as a three year old so she’s very likely to run big again. Spice is Nice will be OVERBET off a 12 length maiden debut win last month at this mile trip. The win was impressive and the 93 Equibase Figure is as good as the 92 Tonalist’s Shape earned winning at the trip in November. However, no matter how good Pletcher is, he’s just average, perhaps even below average with horses going from maiden to stakes. Going back five years in stakes races which are dirt routes his record is 14 for 61 with maiden winners in their second starts, 18 for 114 with maiden winners moving into stakes and five for 32 with a subset of three year olds. Except for the exacta I’ll try to beat Spice is Nice.

Win: Reluctant Bride at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Box Reluctant Bride and Tonalist’s Shape.
Box Reluctant Bride and Spice is Nice

Doubles: Reluctant Bride, Tonalist’s Shape and Spice is Nice in Race 10 with Hay Dakota, Caribou Club, Krampus and Louder Than Bombs in Race 11.

Canadian Turf Stakes – Race 11 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern

There’s unlikely to be any strong favorite in this race so I’m going with four horses, all at decent odds, as potential win bets and definitely in an exacta and trifecta box. They are Krampus, Caribou Club, Louder Than Bombs and Hay Dakota.

Krampus won this race last year at 9 to 2, after a fifth place finish a few weeks earlier in the non-graded El Prado Stakes. He earned a very decent (for this level) 107 Equibase figure in the process. He hasn’t won in six since BUT his last race, on January 4, appears very similar to his prep before winning last year as he finished fourth, beaten a length and one-half. He returned from two months off for that January 4 race and was risked for a 62,500 claiming price. Tomlinson obliged and I can see why as the lightly raced six year old has a pretty good record of 5-3-2 from 19 turf starts and $350,000 earned. Leparoux gets on and the horse gets a good post to stalk the speed and perhaps win this race for the second year in a row, this year opening at 12/1.

Caribou Club is 9 for 23 in his career, all on turf having earned over $700K and he fits here like a “T.” After venturing to Dubai last March and running poorly as the favorite in the Highlander Stakes in June, Caribou Club put in three “A” races in a row, winning two and missing by a neck in the other. One of the wins came in the similar Grade 3 Baltimore Washington Turf Cup at this mile trip. He ran badly in his comeback but that’s no different than how he ran in his return from Dubai last year before winning and he’s reunited with Lynch, up for all three “A” races but not for the loss last month.

Louder Than Bombs was stakes placed last year as a three year old when second in the Dania Beach, then lost three more, took a few months off and ran poorly in two races before returning to top for to win at Keeneland last October. He’s run so-so in two since but his last effort was sneakily good as he finished fourth of 10 in a stakes on all-weather at Turfway Park, a KEY RACE from which three horses have come back to win, including Guest Suite, who won the Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park recently. If Louder Than Bombs runs back to his form from last winter, he will run a lot better than his 12/1 starting odds suggest.

Hay Dakota, like Krampus, was a recent claim. Taken for $45K last September at Saratoga, I can see why Servis reached in to add this seven year old (then six year old) to his barn. The horse had earned over $300K at the time, including the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes in 2016. Since the claim, Hay Dakota is two for three and gets the rail and Lopez so must be respected as a contender.

Win: Krampus AND Caribou Club at odds of 7 to 2 or higher.
Consider smaller win bets on Hay Dakota and Louder Than Bombs at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Box Krampus, Caribou Club, Hay Dakota and Louder Than Bombs.

Trifecta: Box Krampus, Caribou Club, Hay Dakota and Louder Than Bombs.

Mac Diarmida Stakes – Race 13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:32 PM Eastern

I don’t get it. But I love it. Spooky Channel, who won the McKnight Stakes on the course at 12 furlongs on January 25 at odds of 36 to 1, opens at 20 to 1 today. He ran as well as any horse in this field recently, including Pegasus World Cup winner Zulu Alpha (who was 11 to 1) and Leparoux rides him back. I like him today for the same reasons I said we could NOT ignore making a bet on him last month. He’s now seven for 12 in his career and he’s won at distances ranging from seven and one-half furlongs to one mile and seven-eighths. He’s a Kentucky bred by English Channel out of a Kitten’s Joy mare so can run as far as they write races. He was underbet in the McKnight because most of his races were at Turf Paradise but I wouldn’t blame the horse for that. He joined the Lynch barn last July, ran badly then although eighth in the Fort Lauderdale on the course on December 14 was just beaten three lengths. Lynch was likely getting him ready for the McKnight and that’s why Leparoux rode back and I see NO reason this horse can’t run another big race at high odds.

Zulu Alpha and Sadler’s Joy open as the two morning line choices and are the other horses with the bulk of the probability to win in my opinion. Zulu Alpha was a pick of mine that day off the fact he liked the course, having won the 2019 Mac Diarmida as the 6 to 5 favorite, and he was not disgraced a bit in his last race before the layoff when fourth of 12 and beaten under two lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Gaffalione rode him fantastically that day when finding a spot on the rail to run through from 10th and although his 2/1 starting odds make him a poor win bet he must be considered a win contender and used on other bets we make involving this race.

Sadler’s Joy is mostly a disappointment, with just one win in his last 12 races. That win, however, came in an identical 11 furlong grade 3 race, the Red Smith, in November before a layoff and poor sixth place finish behind Zulu Alpha in the Pegasus. On his best day he can win so he’s included as well.

Win Bets: Spooky Channel at 5 to 1 or higher.

Box Spooky Channel and Zulu Alpha.
Box Spooky Channel and Sadler’s Joy.

Doubles: Spooky Channel, Zulu Alpha and Sadler’s Joy in Race 13 with As Seen on TV, Ete Indien and Chance It in race 14.

Fountain of Youth Stakes – Race 14 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 6:04 PM Eastern

There is no doubt Ete Indien comes into the Fountain of Youth out of the fastest race of any Road to the Derby event this year. After setting the early pace for the first seven furlongs in the Holy Bull Stakes on February 1, Ete Indien was no match for winner Tiz the Law but was clearly second by 11 lengths over the next horse. The winner earned a 117 Equibase Figure, which to my recollection is unheard of at this time of year for a three year old, and Ete Indien earned a 113 figure which towers over the field. It’s a legitimate figure and his effort was legitimate as he was responsible for the fast early fractions. Since the race, trainer Patrick Biancone put Ete Indien through his paces in the morning with an extremely sharp seven furlong workout on grass in 123.2 followed by another strong workout, getting a half mile in 48 seconds over the deep Palm Meadows surface. Although his sire, Summer Front, was a millionaire and multiple stakes winner, those races were on grass and his progeny have few dirt starts. Just the same, Ete Indien has proven he can run on dirt and unless another horse takes a huge step forward, he should win the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

As Seen on TV and Chance It can also run well enough to win the Fountain of Youth particularly if Ete Indien doesn’t run as expected. As Seen on TV was beaten a head by Chance It in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes and, in my estimation, has the same probability to win as his foe. However, its highly likely As Seen on TV will offer higher odds for win bets. In the Mucho Macho Man, As Seen on TV stalked in second for the first half-mile then battled head-and-head for the entire rest of the race, barely giving an inch until the late stages. The Mucho Macho Man has turned out to be a “key race” since the horse which was two and one-quarter lengths behind As Seen on TV in third place, Sole Volante, returned to win the Sam F. Davis Stakes in easy fashion three weeks ago and the sixth place finisher won his next start. Additionally, the fourth place finisher, South Bend lost in a stakes race by a neck and a head on the wire earlier this month. In the Mucho Macho Man, Chance It earned a 102 figure while As Seen on TV earned a 101 figure and considering Sole Volante improved from a 98 figure to 108, if either colt makes a 10 point improvement they could give Ete Indien all he can handle in this race.

Dennis’ Moment can’t go without mentioning, not only because of his two wins but also because of his two defeats, both unfortunate races where the start cost him everything. In his debut last June, Dennis’ Moment clipped the heels of another horse and lost his jockey and in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall he stumbled so badly at the start there was nothing his jockey could do to get him into the race. Prior to that, Dennis’ Moment won the Iroquois Stakes by a deceptive one and three-quarter length margin, earning a 99 figure. His workouts off the layoff have been very fast, but returning from almost four months off and running two-turns against horses which ran well in stakes race this year is asking a lot in my opinion. As such, I will be taking a stand against Dennis’ Moment as a win contender in this race.

Shotski deserves honorable mention, having earned back-to-back 98 figures when winning the Remsen Stakes in December and when second earlier this month in the Withers Stakes. In both races, the only two-turn races of his career, Shotski led early which could be problematic here as there are many horses drawn inside of him which have early speed as well. Just the same, after leading from the start in the Withers, Shotski was very game in holding second to the wire and he is a horse I think we must consider for any exacta or trifecta tickets we play in this race as he could be

Win Bets: Bet the two of these three, at odds of 3/1 or more, preferably the two at the highest odds near post time:
Ete Indien, As Seen on TV, Chance It.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas: Ete Indien, As Seen on TV and Chance It over Ete Indien, As Seen on TV and Chance It, Shotski and Dennis’ Moment.

Trifecta: Ete Indien, As Seen on TV and Chance It over Ete Indien, As Seen on TV and Chance It, Shotski and Dennis’ Moment over Ete Indien, As Seen on TV and Chance It over Ete Indien, As Seen on TV and Chance It, Shotski and Dennis’ Moment.

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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