With several near misses already at Gulfstream Park's winter meet, I'm taking another stab at a multi-race exotic - the Late Pick Four in Races 8-11. Come along for the ride if you'd like:
Race 8 - Forward Gal Stakes - Grade II at 7 furlongs for 3 YO fillies
The field of seven includes two much-anticipated returns here: BC Juvenile Filly runner up R Heat Lightning and well-bred Grade II stakes winner at two, Dancinginherdreams. R Heat Lightning has never been worse than second, including a Grade I win at Saratoga (Spinway Stakes run at today's 7 furlong distance) and Dancinginherdreams, has yet to lose in two starts including a one-turn mile win in Churchill's Pochontas Stakes. On class alone these two will be included on my ticket. But just in case speed matters more than class today, I'll toss Alexandra Rylee onto the ticket, simply because she posses lone speed today and speed kills. With odds close to double-digits she'll probably be double that on the Pick 4 with many singling either of the top choices mentioned above.
Race 9 - N1X Allowance - 5 furlongs on the turf
Most of the time you'd do well throwing a dart at such big fields going short on the turf. I'll include up to four on my ticket. Having looked over the past performances several times already, all of the 11 entrants have either come from the lower claiming ranks or would easily fit there. Removing class from the handicapping criteria, allow me to go with front-runners first and those pressing the pace second. A three-time claiming winner with enough early lick to get to the front, Alfeet Lass breaks from the two-hole with bugboy, Juan Delgado, in the seat - together they have three wins, and a second from six starts together. Lose None drops in from Hawthorne, where she broke the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf two races back. Bonus, she needs not the front. Which trainer stat do you like here for Twentyoneandtwo - first claim 38% returning almost $10 or the goose egg in 8 turf sprint tries? Dismiss at your own peril. How about taking a five-year-old making only her fourth lifetime start in She's a Ketch? Of course trainer, Chad Brown thrives with layoff horses and turf sprinters - winning at 43% in the latter.
Race 10 - Holy Bull Stakes - Grade III - 3 YO colts
Let me start by dismissing the first two in the morning line - Gourmet Dinner and Mucho Macho Man. Gourmet Dinner has been well traveled of late (Florida to Louisiana to Hollywood) and despite some nice sprinting wins in which closed, I don't see a fast pace developing up front for him to run at. Mucho Macho Man, I don't know. I think he's OK, but I'll bet against him at low odds. The two that I'm in with are: Black N Beauty and Dialed In. Like the filly's stake race, I only see one front-runner here and Black N Beauty is it. If Desormeaux can control the fractions, uncontested up front then we may have a runaway winner. I simply respect Dialed In's trainer, Nick Zito too much to dismiss him off of only one start. Who knows he could be the post time favorite.
Race 11 - $40K claiming - 6 1/2 furlongs 4 YO and up
If I'm still in the fray up until this point, I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping.
Got to be honest here - not sure if should single the outside speed in Duffy's Tavern or toss in a closer that may take advantage of too much jostling for the lead from at least two others likely to go with Duffy. When in doubt in a situation like this, I usually take who I think is the fastest and likely to outrun the competition and a presser/closer just in case the first two fractions are contested and go 21.5 and 44. My protection in this case will be two-year-old stakes winner and second-time off the bench starter, Dixie Band. For some reason, I'm thinking that Chairman Tucker may be laying just off waiting to pounce as well. The horse just keeps seeming to nag me into including, so I will.
The 50-cent Late Pick Four Play: 4-6-7/3-5-12/4-9/3-4-6 for $27. Good luck with your wagers.