The mad rush and the singular focus on the Breeders' Cup have settled into the regular rhythm of cross-country horse racing dotting the map. If there is a solo act this weekend, it's Gulfstream Park West (GPW). The south-Florida track hosts nine stakes races on Saturday's card, all of them with prize money of $75,000.
It's not a full-blown stadium tour of million-dollar races like the BC. It's more like an intimate, small theater, but you go for the music, not the venue. If the music still moves you, it doesn't matter the band or the place.
Hopefully, our handicapper will strike the right notes and find some hits Saturday at Gulfstream Park West. Before we look at the race list, just a few quick notes on the track.
GPW is in Miami Gardens next to Pro Player Stadium, home of the N.F.L.'s Miami Dolphins. In case you are wondering if Gulfstream Park West a new track? The answer is no. Many horse players know the course as Calder Race Course. In 2014 Churchill Downs Incorporated and The Stronach Group to agreed to operate and maintain the Calder race meet through 2020 and renamed Calder to Gulfstream Park West.
From the past to the present, let's try to get the Gulfstream show started with an early Pick 3 pyrotechnic bang. The first three races include:
Gulfstream Park Race 1 - $75,000 MILLIONS TURF PREVIEW STAKES
Gulfstream Park Race 2 - $75,000 MILLIONS SPRINT PREVIEW STAKES
Gulfstream Park Race 3 - $75,000 MILLIONS FILLY AND MARE TURF PREVIEW STAKES
The first race is 1 1/16th miles on the turf for Florida-bred, three-year-olds and upwards. The field of seven with rush out of the gates at high noon, eastern time.
Meet-to-date, 17 races have been run at the TURF PREVIEW STAKES' distance/surface. In the limited data set we do see a few biases. If your horse has the lead early on, you better worry as early speed only wins at 35%. And stay away from the red silks of the one horse. The rail has one W in the 17 tries.
Horses that fit the profile of a GPW, 1 1/16th mile turf winner and bunched in the middle and include:
SALUTE THE COLONEL (PP: 3 ML 7/2)
SECOND MATE (PP: 4 ML 8-1)
GALLEON MAST (PP: 5 ML 3-1)
ARCHER ROAD (PP: 6 ML 4-1)
It's no surprise then to see our pro-subscriber's bonus commentary include two of the aforementioned horses, including our top choice.
"GALLEON MAST is always close at the wire and gets red hot jockey Paco Lopez, winner of eight in his last 21. CLASS AND CASH [PP:2] has won two of his three at Gulfstream Park West. ARCHER ROAD is making his second start off the bench and trainer Stanley Gold wins at 18% in round two. SWAGGER JAGGER [PP; 7] missed by a neck as the favorite in his last, trainer Michael Maker wins at 25% next time out."
Another group of seven, Florida-bred, three-year-olds and upwards will try to sprint their way to a six-furlong dirt W. It's probably GPW's most common race and plays to a much different tune that the first.
So far, 43% of the 49 six-furlong dirt races have been win in wire-to-wire fashion. That's an amazing edge. If you convert that into tote board odds, it's a little under 6/5 and slightly more than 3/2. If you can consistently pick the horse that hits the quarter-mile marker first, and its odds are 3/2 or higher, that's a positive return-on-investment strategy. Translated to English, a money maker.
Obviously, our handicapper is on top of things as he has one that likes the lead as the top pick, and another as the second choice, and another third, and another fourth.
"KROY [PP: 4] is making his third start off a layoff and should benefit from returning to dirt. Trainer Armando De La Cerda wins at 27% going turf-to-dirt. FIELD TRIP [PP: 3] has won three in a row, including two straight races with the highest speed figure. SPLASH RULES [PP: 5] has been off since August 25th but has strong works since. He should be ready to fire off the bench. MY BOY LENNY [PP: 2] has won two of four and owns one of the highest speed ratings at the distance."
The ladies take centerstage for race number three. Eight fillies and mares that are three-years-old and upwards will look to power their way through 7.5-furlongs on grass. Like race one, the distance and surface favors horses that come from off the lead, but in this case a little closer to the font.
The typical winner in these 7.5-furlong turf races position averages for the quarter and half mile markers are 3.2 and 2.7 respectively i.e. stalkers.
Three ladies fit the profile, JOSDESANIMAUX (PP:1 ML 30-1), SOUTHERN SIS (PP: 2 ML 10-1), and PICARA (PP: 4 ML 7/2). While these fillies and mares might be right on paper, a few that could be a step or two behind or in front of the trio is where our bonus commentary is focused.
"THINKIN COWTOWN [PP: 7] consistently closes on the leaders late. Her off the pace style has won five of 11 on the grass with a second and two thirds. WARRANTY [PP: 8} is making her third start after a layoff and trainer Michael Maker wins at 21% in third tries. REAGAN's ROSE [PP: 5] could have a pace advantage as one of two with some history running on the front. SPICY NELLY [PP: 6] is the other that's recently pressed the early pace."
Hopefully, the opening three races open the show in a profitable way and help fatten your bankroll for the other six, $75,000 stakes races on the card.