Gulfstream Park is about to be the home field for marquee stakes racing. Next weekend, the south Florida track hosts the Sunshine Millions and the Pegasus World Cup on January 26th. We'll have the Sunshine Millions and the Pegasus Cup covered from every angle with our Wagering Guides and on the ground coverage for the Pegasus, keep it here!
Before we get to the headliners, this weekend offers two graded stakes races as Gulfstream Park opening acts.
Gulfstream Park Race 9 - $100,000 TROPICAL TURF STAKES GRADE III
Gulfstream Park Race 11 - $150,000 MARSHUA'S RIVER STAKES GRADE III
The TROPICAL TURF STAKES features seven four-year-olds and up racing 1-mile on Gulfstream Grass. Since the winter meet started on December 1st, there have been 32 races at the distance on turf. The surface/distance has favored stalkers and closers as those running styles have won 19 of the 32 races.
Only two horses managed to go gate-to-wire on the lead and find the winner's circle. Only one of the 32 managed to win from the rail. That rail angle allows you to eliminate VICI (PP:1 ML 9/2) as a potential winner. It doesn't mean the seven-year-old won't finish in-the-money, but it would be foolish to bet against a 97% angle and expect the rail horse to score the W.
Interestingly, the 4/5 morning-line favorite HEART TO HEART likes to win in wire-to-wire (w2w) fashion, especially at Gulfstream Park. The Brian Lynch trainee has won five of seven on Gulfstream Grass. However, his recent form has our handicapper believing HEART TO HEART is a vulnerable favorite, as you can see in our pro-subscriber's bonus commentary.
"It looks like WHITE FLAG has the best chance to upset the 4/5 morning-line favorite HEART TO HEART. WHITE FLAG has finished in-the-money eight of his last 10 races, including five Ws. HEART TO HEART will be happy to be back at GP where he's won five of seven races. He would be rated higher on that record, but his last two were awful. MR FREEZE is taking his first crack at the turf. If he can carry his dirt race form to the grass, 15-1 will look like a steal. VICI returns to turf where he has done his best work. Two recent strong workouts suggest he'll come off his 49-day rest ready to run."
Fillies and Mares own the track for race 11 on Gulfstream Saturday card. Eight ladies, four-years-old and up will race 1 1/16-miles on the turf for the MARSHUA'S RIVER STAKES. The winner gets their picture taken and collects a check for $90,210.
Much like the bias at 1-mile on grass, stalkers and closers have the edge at 1 1/16-miles, winning 18 of 29 races at the distance/surface. However, front runners had a little more success with five winning in w2w style. Also, the rail pulled off three wins; so, the red, one silks aren't an automatic toss out.
The two horse most likely to lead out of the box to the finish line are I'M BETTY G (PP: 6 ML 5-1) and LA SIGNARE (PP: 7 ML 3-1). In the past year, both only came home first when leading all the way around the track.
In his commentary, our handicapper sees one of the two with a real chance to see her name on the $90K winner's check.
"LA SIGNARE is making her first start since July 7th. In her last two starts off the bench, she finished first and second by a ½ length. BELLAVAIS is making her second start after a layoff. She should improve in round two. BOMBSHELL has never finished out-of-the-money in three races at the distance and on turf. VALEDICTORIAN is also making start number two after a short rest, trainer Kelly Breen wins at 19% in race number two."
While Gulfstream Park hosts two of the day's biggest horse racing stakes races. There are seven other stakes races with at least $100,000 in prize money. They include:
Aqueduct Race 8 - $100,000 SAY FLORIDA SANDY STAKES
Laurel Park Race 3 - $100,000 WHAT A SUMMER STAKES
Laurel Park Race 5 - $100,000 NATIVE DANCER STAKES
Laurel Park Race 7 - $100,000 FIRE PLUG STAKES
Laurel Park Race 8 - $100,000 NELLIE MORSE STAKES
Santa Anita Race 6 - $100,000 LAS CIENEGAS STAKES GRADE III
Santa Anita Race 8 - $100,000 LA CANADA STAKES GRADE III
We've got all of them covered with picks, commentary, and suggested wagers.