Key Races & Bets for Saturday April 1st, 2023

Sir Shackleton Stakes – Race 9 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 3:31 PM Eastern

Main win contenders:
Celestial Gaze and Collaborate are the top two win contenders, with Dean Delivers, Octane, Weyburn and Paco’s Pico four horses which can complete the exacta or trifecta.

Celestial Gaze ran the best race of his career last time out four weeks ago at this seven furlong trip and although it was in a starter allowance race if he repeats that effort, and it appears he can, he can win. That was his second win in a row at the meet and he went from a 99 Equibase Speed Figure effort on 2/12 to a 104 figure which is the BEST earned by any horse in the race so far this year. He showed the ability to relax in both starts, sitting third or fourth after a half-mile had been run and the key was Perez riding him both times when not aboard previously, again riding today.

Collaborate also exits a starter allowance win over the track, on 3/16, Castellano up then as now. That win came in the second start off the D’Angelo claim and the 102 figure was the second best 2023 figure earned by any horse in the field. That last start was at six furlongs but the horse won earlier in his career at a mile on the Gulfstream main track so I’m not concerned about the extra furlong.

As for the other four mentioned above, both Dean Delivers (3-6-1) and Paco’s Pico (3-4-2) have more second place finishes than wins so may be good for a piece, while Weyburn was a non-threatening second last month and could do the same here (although he did win this race last year). Octane finished second after leading late in the slightly tougher Fred Hooper Stakes in January and looks a bit slower than the top two if they all repeat their best efforts.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Celestial Gaze AND Collaborate can be bet to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Betting two horses at greater than minimum odds/fair odds presents a good opportunity to use the free dutching tool at, where you can set the amount you want to bet or the amount you want to win, and the math is done for you to help achieve the best edge. This is just one of many tools, and perks, for bettors at

Exacta: Celestial Gaze and Collaborate over Celestial Gaze, Collaborate, Dean Delivers, Octane, Weyburn and Paco’s Pico

Trifecta: Celestial Gaze and Collaborate over Celestial Gaze, Collaborate, Dean Delivers, Octane, Weyburn and Paco’s Pico over Celestial Gaze, Collaborate, Dean Delivers, Octane, Weyburn and Paco’s Pico

Race 9: Celestial Gaze, Collaborate
Race 10: Sweet Enough, Souper Hoity Toity, Marketsegmentation

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Sand Springs Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 4:04 PM Eastern

The win contenders in this field are Sweet Enough, Souper Hoity Toity and Marketsegmentation.

Sweet Enough gets slight preference not only because she’s drawn well and might prove to be the front runner from the start on a slow pace but also because she’s likely to go to post at the highest odds of the three win contenders. After winning three of eight races in England, the mare came to the U.S. one year ago and ran poorly but was well regarded enough to be entered in a stakes last November off a five month layoff and off that 10th place U.S. debut effort. She showed a lot of interest moving up from eighth to fourth to lead but it was too soon and the competition was too tough so she faded to seventh. Stretching out to two-turns on turf for her next start at the end of December and HERE at Gulfstream, Sweet Enough ran the best race of her career advancing from fourth to draw off late with a 101 Equibase figure appropriate for this non-graded stakes level. She was completely over her head in the Pegasus Turf and Honey Fox Stakes but it shows how well-regarded she was. Actually her Honey Fox effort wasn’t bad at 60 to 1 as she pressed the pace in third until the eighth pole and was beaten just two lengths. If she runs back to her 12/29 race here she can post the upset and I think she can do just that.

Super Hoity Toity might be the top pick is not for the fact she’s been off since October. She did win last July off a seven month layoff, around two turns on the all-weather and Woodbine, and Casse has a good record with horses coming back from these types of layoffs in routes, so I’m not too concerned. She finished her 2022 campaign with a stakes win around two turns and she’s a perfect two-for-two in turf routes so there is every reason to consider her a strong contender.

Also a contender, but not a good bet to win, is Marketsegmentation, because she’s trained by Chad Brown and because she went to post at 6 to 5 in the higher level G3 Endeavour Stakes in February at Tampa in her most recent race. She ended up third in that race with no real excuse but she’s back at Gulfstream, where she won one before that last race, and she’s reunited with Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rode her to both of her career wins.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Sweet Enough and Super Hoity Toity should be considered for win bets at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

This is another race where dutching is called for, particularly as Marketsegmentation could be a prohibitive betting choice, allowing the two horses above to go to post at odds which make it essential to get the best edge we can.

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Appleton Stakes – Race 13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:57 PM Eastern

Main win contenders:
Gray’s Fable is the top contender, with Steady On and Fort Washington also capable of winning.

Gray’s Fable has won six of 22 career starts on turf, one of those the identical Evan Williams Turf Mile Stakes last August. That race is VERY repeatable here because he returned from four months off last out on February 10 and finished very well from 8th with a quarter mile to go, to miss by a half-length at the end. That was the first time Rosario rode and the jockey sticks so second off the layoff Gray’s Fable looks ready to run back to that big win last summer, also noting he was only beaten two lengths when fourth of eight in this race last year and then won the identical Opening Verse Stakes last May as well.

Steady On has done little wrong in five career turf races, winning two and finishing second in the other two. The most significant of those was last month when second, beaten a half-length, in the G3 Canadian Turf Stakes here at Gulfstream under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rides back. The only knock, if there is one, is in that effort last month, and the one two before that in the Tropical Park Derby (on all-weather), Steady On led with an eighth of a mile to go and was beaten near the wire.

Fort Washington is a deep closer who needs help to maneuver through traffic in this 12 horse field and who hardly gets there, having won two of nine on turf and finishing second or third in four others. However, he was just a neck behind Steady On in the Canadian Turf last month and that was his first start off a two month layoff so he can improve physically, PLUS he gets a lot of pace to run at here with up to five of the other 11 (Striker, Winfromwithin, Churchtown, Roaring Forties and County Final) being need-the-lead types.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Gray’s Fable at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Box Gray’s Fable, Steady On, Fort Washington

Race 13: Gray’s Fable, Steady On, Fort Washington
Race 14: Mage, Nautical Star, Forte, Dubyuhnell

Race 13: Gray’s Fable, Steady On, Fort Washington
Race 14: Mage, Forte

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Kentucky Derby Prep Selections:

Florida Derby – Race 14 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 6:40 eastern

This is the Equibase Race of the Week and you can read my entire analysis (free) here

In Summary – Forte is definitely the horse to beat and if he repeats or improves upon his Fountain of Youth effort last month he should win, but he gets a disadvantageous post, as does Dubyuhnell, whose three year old debut in the Sam F. Davis was poor but who won the Remsen last fall at the distance of the Florida Derby.

Mage was making only his second career start and first route in the Fountain of Youth and ran a lot better than it looks so has a shot opening at 10/1, and Nautical Star, who opens at 30 to 1, was privately purchased last month, as well as his stablemate (same owners) Mr. Peeks, who is a MAIDEN with early speed designed to be a RABBIT for Nautical Star.

My bets are likely to be:
Mage to win at 4 to 1 or more.
Nautical Star to win (for a much smaller amount than on Mage) and a $1 exacta ALL over Nautical Star

Then, trying to find ways to make money if Forte wins, more than if betting him to win:
Exacta: Forte over Mage and Nautical Star then also Forte over Mage
Trifecta: Forte over ALL over Mage and Nautical Star and also Forte over ALL over Mage
Then a small exacta box of Mage, Nautical Star and Dubyuhnell
Then a small trifecta box of Forte, Mage, Nautical Star and Dubyuhnell

Arkansas Derby – Race 12 at Oaklawn – Post Time 7:50 eastern

Win contenders and fair odds are:
Rocket Can (3/1) – finishing second to Forte in the Fountain of Youth is like winning.
Angel of Empire (7 to 2) – won the Risen Star and skipped the Louisiana Derby for this instead for Cox
Reincarnate (4 to 1) – little trouble (not as much as some think) in the Rebel but didn’t get near the front as he likes to be and could sit first or second early making him dangerous here.
Red Route One (4 to 1) – likely overbet off his 11th to 2nd Rebel effort. He is improving and adds blinkers but his deep closing style may not benefit here.
Airtime (6 to 1) – Claimed for $50K one before last by Diodoro off a 10 length win, he could run better than his odds suggest as his pedigree suggests he will like this nine furlong trip.

Exacta: Rocket Can and Angel of Empire over Rocket Can, Angel of Empire, Reincarnate, Red Route One, Airtime

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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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