Horse Racing Picks for Friday, April 3: Best Value Bets for Gulfstream Park
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I am a horizontal player in horse racing, meaning I look for the best consecutive string of races and build a strategy around that. Typically, the feature race is the second-to-last contest on the slate so most of the time I’ll focus on a late Pick 4 or Pick 5.
First, I’ll be focusing on the Pick 5 at Gulfstream.
Time: 3:08 p.m. ET
The fifth race at Gulfstream Park is where I’ll start. It’s a 1-mile optional claiming event on the turf with the rail set at 60 feet. We will start by looking at the favorite, No. 2 Dalarna (7-5).
He’s a 6-year-old gelding who has won four of his five starts since switching over to the Bobby Dibona Barn. Dalarna is coming in on a three-race win streak since his layoff, all of which came in front-running style. While the win streak is impressive, none of his final times have been all that eye-popping. He’s beaten a number of today’s competitors in previous races, though I’m not certain he ever saw their best efforts. Dalarna is the overwhelming morning-line favorite, and even though he’s coming in on the win streak, I’m going to bet against him in this spot.
Let’s go to my top pick in the race, No. 6 High Noon Rider (6-1). After last year, he switched over to the Saffie Joseph Jr. Barn and in typical Saffie Joseph Jr. fashion, High Noon Rider won his first race for the trainer. Then in his next two starts he had significant trouble.
Two starts back he clipped heels with a foe and was out of it after that. In his last start he settled into the two-path, but then was fanned five-wide coming for home and just couldn’t make up the ground. If it weren’t for these troubled trips, we would not be seeing 6-1 here, but I’ll take the value. High Noon Rider is a closer and should have enough pace in front of him to allow the time to home in front. For these reasons, he is my top pick at a great price.
Finally, we have one of the speed horses, No. 8 My Point Exactly (7-2). Since he was claimed after a start in late October, My Point Exactly has two wins, two seconds and a third from five starts. His two wins both came in gate-to-wire fashion, which is how he is going to have to win this race as well.
He is trained and owned by Carlos David, which in the claiming game, is always an angle I like. A trainer who owns the horse is never going to put the horse in a spot that he or she doesn’t believe the horse can win. If My Point Exactly can get an easy lead, he stands a real chance here, so I will be including him.
Time: 3:39 p.m. ET
Race 6 is a $45K Maiden Special Weight event that will be run on the main track at 1 1/16th mile. It’s an eight-horse field with four of them being Triple Crown nominated.
First up is one of the four Triple Crown nominees and the most expensive horse in the race, No. 2 Or’effice (6-1). He was purchased at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2018 for $725K.
Trained by Mark Hening and ridden by Joe Bravo, the son of Medaglia d’Oro has three career starts. His best finish was in his most recent run, finishing second by a half-length over a sloppy track here at Gulfstream. He’s had an interesting beginning to his career, as he finished a distant fourth in his debut and was put on the turf for his second start, where he again finished fourth, but this time by only 1 1/4 lengths.
Or’effice is coming in off a short layoff, which hopefully will help him in this spot. He’s one that including because of his pedigree, purchase price, continuous improvement and the fact that he’s Triple Crown nominated.
Next we will go to his outside, and the favorite, No. 3 Candy Machine (8-5). Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, the son of Candy Ride is another horse that is Triple Crown nominated. He finished a game second in his only career start at the end of February, here at Gulfstream.
Candy Machine has continued to train well since that time and his pedigree suggests he will like the additional distance. Chad Brown wins at 31% in first route distance races, 29% in second career races and 31% when a horse goes from a sprint to a route. While I’m including him, Candy Machine is not my top pick here.
No. 5 Ellis Island (7-2) is my top selection. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez will be in the irons for this son of Will Take Charge’s second start. Just like the No. 2 Or’effice and No. 3 Candy Machine, Ellis Island is also Triple Crown nominated and similar to Or’effice, he was also purchased at the Keeneland September Yearling sale. The biggest difference was the purchase price, as Ellis Island was purchased for $180K by Winstar Farm and China Horse Club. This is the same ownership group that sent out Triple Crown winner, Justify.
In his first career start, Ellis Island finished third by 3 1/4 lengths over a good track. He was three-wide for most of the race, but finished well closing into a moderate pace. Based on his running style, he should like the added distance, the only question is will he have enough pace to run into. That said, Pletcher and Saez have teamed up 39 times in the last 60 days, winning 26% of the time. With a better trip, the added distance and the jockey/trainer combo, I’m making Ellis Island my top pick.
Time: 4:10 p.m. ET
Race 7 is a $12,500 claiming event that will run on the turf course at the distance of 1 mile. To be honest, this was one where I didn’t love any of these horses. I ended up having two selections here, but more by process of elimination, rather than strong opinion.
The favorite is No. 2 Interest (3-1), which is an interesting name because she had no interest in running last time out after she stumbled badly at the start. In her second start for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., she will be removing blinkers and she will be dropping in class. In addition to an equipment change and drop in class, she also gets jockey Luis Saez for the first time since her lone victory.
Interest has the highest speed figure in his most recent start compared to the rest of the field. Because of the troubled start, equipment change, drop in class and switch to one of the meets leading jocks, I’m making her my top pick, although I’m not that confident.
The other horse that I landed on was No. 7 Silly Notion (6-1). She is coming in after getting claimed in her maiden victory at Tampa Bay Downs. She’s now trained by Larry Rivelli who is winning at 25% after a maiden win last time out and 26% when shipping in from another track.
Additionally she gets Tyler Gaffalione aboard who is winning 18% of his turf starts. Silly Notion came from off the pace in her career debut. No. 3 Fiamma Mamma (15-1) and No. 10 Teacher Dream (6-1) should give Silly Notion enough pace to run into, so I’m going to include Silly Notion in my plays, but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t love either of these choices and ended up on them by process of elimination.
4:41 p.m. ET
Race 8 is a 1 mile Optional Claiming $62,500 event for non-winners of two that has eight starters. All but two of those starters are coming in off a layoff.
No. 4 Off Topic is the even-money favorite. She is by far the classiest horse in the field, having run in four graded-stakes races as a three-year-old. Off Topic hasn’t been in the starting gate since September when she won an allowance race at Belmont. The Todd Pletcher trainee has consistently been working out for the last seven weeks, although none of the works have been all that impressive. While she’s the classiest in the race, she’s only won two of her 10 career starts, her maiden score and her most recent start. She’s one that I’ll be including, but not my top choice in here.
I landed on No. 7 I’ll Take the Cake (9-2) as my top choice. She is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. This will be I’ll Take the Cake’s second start for the Joseph barn after winning in her first. She was able to sit just off the pace and won going away by 1 3/4 lengths. That victory came in a non-graded stakes race in mid-February.
Since then she’s shown up in the workout report three times, with her most recent being a bullet work going 47 2/5 seconds over four furlongs. Saffie Joseph is winning 32% of the time when his start was a winner last time out and 25% coming in off a 46-90 day layoff.
5:12 p.m. ET
The finale is a $25K maiden claiming race over the turf course. It will be run at 1 1/16 mile with twelve starters.
We will start with the odds on favorite, No. 3 Tapit to Ride (1-1). She is getting massive class relief after running against maiden special weight competition in her first four career starts. While she only hit the board once, she’s been competitive in every start. This is her second start off the layoff for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Luis Saez.
Tapit to Ride owns some of the field’s best speed figures and is the one to beat here. Her pedigree, trainer/jockey combo, class relief and this being her second start off the layoff are the reasons I’m making her my top choice in in Race 9.
After the favorite we are going to look to some prices. First, we will go down to the rail to the No. 1 Truly (12-1). This daughter of Will Take Charge has three seconds and two thirds from seven career starts. Her last start was rained off the turf, so we will put a line through that race.
Prior to that, she had four starts after the barn change to Michael Lerman, hitting the board in all four runs and two of the four were near misses by only a head. She has been in contention and at the price should figure to be in contention here as well.
Next, we will go towards the outside to No. 11 Polished Cooper (10-1). After a troubled start, hitting the gate and then being bumped, she finished well, beaten by 1 1/4 in her last start. That was her first start after being claimed for trainer David Fawkes. She gets Joel Rosario in the irons and if he’s able to work out a better trip for her, she stands a real chance with her early running style.
The last one that we will look at is the deep closer No. 7 Cherokee Sound (15-1). In her two most recent starts, she’s missed by less than a length combined, but hasn’t seen the starting gate since the beginning of January. She’s turned in five works since then and three of them have been bullets. She clearly needs pace to run into, but with her close tries and bullet workouts, Cherokee Sound is one that I have to include.
Bets for Friday, April 3
- Win: 6
- Exacta Box: 6,8
- Pick 5: 6,8/2,3,5/2,7/4,7/1,3,7,11
- Exacta Box: 2,3,5
- Win: 7