Day Results 10 / 0-8-2
2020 Overall 315 315 / 108-107-119
Win % of Top Pick 34.29%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 35.34%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –195-315 61.91%
Top Selection ITM / TP Winter-Sprng 180-291 61.86%
Top Selection Win / TP Winter-Spring 104-291 35.74%
“Key Horses” @ TP Winter-Spring 44-11-11-8 25.00% Win / 68.18% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 45-12-11-8 26.67% Win / 70.45% ITM

On Thursday, we travelled (virtually) down to Gulfstream Park and dipped our toes into the handicapping waters at the sunny Florida oval for the first time this year. Since the beaches are closed, we thought we might have a little fun time in the sun time.

Well, the bad news is that we didn’t have a single winner from our top selection out of 10 races. Wow. That is really hard to do, to be honest. Zero winners. Ten races.

But the good news? Our handicapping was pretty good really. Really. I’m not kidding.

Just consider:

Our top pick finished second on 4 occasions, and ran third once.

Our second pick won on 5 occasions; ran 2nd twice; and finished third once.

So, if you had bet our top 2 picks across the board?

You would have cashed a bunch of tickets. All over the place.

We took Friday off and prepared for Saturday’s mega-card. We are still working our way through the mammoth, 14-race event. But we think there may be some real value — if you can pick a few nice selections.

Here’s a look at our picks:

1st: 5-12-(16)-1/3-7-10-(13)/(15)-8-4-2-9…What a day. What a card. Let’s get it going. Zabava (5) looks the best here, to me. The 4YO Skipshot filly has hit the board in each of the last 3 and figures to be tough in this spot again. But…In 6 tries over this course, this one has a second and two thirds. Hmmm. Enjoyitwhilewecan (12) gets a horrible post position, but does have a tidy record. Will be making the switch to there turf for the first time and the barn hits with .11% of those. Second off the layup and barn hits with .19% of those, too. Dam has one turf winner from 2 starters. My choice. I bet the 12 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. Keep an eye on the AE List to see if any draw in. I will key the 12 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

2nd: 6-8-5/3-12-11/10-1-7/4-9…Travelling Midas (6) has run 4 times over this course in the past with a second and two thirds. Didn’t run at all in 2019. Came back to run a very nice second off a huge layup last time out. If he does NOT bounce, look out here. Overdeliver (8) is 8-1 in the ML and is my first Upset Special of the Day. This 4YO KY-bred has won two in a row after being claimed two starts ago. Goes for a barn that has suddenly sprung up and is now winning at a .27% clip. Make my head wonder, but the horses are running for the shed row. Undefeated in 3 starts here. Take note. Beau Luminarie (5) broke the maiden last time out by 7. Impressive. Barn hits with .29% of those moving up to face winners for the first time, too. I bet the 8-5 across the board — take note. I box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 8-5 over/under the 6-3-12-11-10-1-7 in two smaller units.

3rd: 3-8-12/(14)-(16)-(13)/5-10-4/1-7-2-11…Largent (3) comes from the barn of Todd Pletcher and has never been worse than second in 4 career starts to date. Lost by a head at the wire last time out. Son of Into Mischief looks like he should pop this condition allowance today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

4th: 10-6-9/7-3-4/(16)-1-11-(15)/8-12…Decorated Invader (10) gets a testy post position, and will be coming off a long layup since running 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November. But this one last by less than 2 to Structor and has a great resume. Look for a power performance here to start the New Year. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the numbers listed in two smaller units.

5th: 3-9-5/11/10-2-7/6-4-8…Network Effect (3) gets my top number here. The 4YO son of Mark Valeski did not run well in the Cigar Mile to finish the 2019 year, but that was asking way too much of this one. Toss that effort. The resume is nice. Very nice. Chad Brown wins with .29% off the bench too. My solid pick. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

6th: 2-11-6-3/1-8-10/5-9…G3 Hal’s Hope Stakes…I’m a huge Bodexpress (2) fan and this one should be better with the stretch back out in distance. Rider asked too much too early last time going the 1-mile. If this one can keep it together in the gate and settle just a bit in the early going? Look out at a nice price. I’m all in. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the to 4 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the numbers listed in two smaller units.

7th: 5-7-8/9-2-1-10/(13)-11-4/3-12…Sanibel Island Stakes…Cheermeister (5) gets my top button here. The 3YO daughter of Bodemeister comes in off two impressive wins in a row and 3 in the last 4 starts. The only bomb came in the Ginger Brew Stakes when she broke through the gate before the start of that one. That is the one thing that just destroys most horses. Has speed to burn. Have to catch this one. Walk in Marrakesh (7) ran very well in the last two after coming over from France. Nice 2nd here in the G3 Florida Oaks in the last outing. Gets Joe Bravo — one of the best grass riders in the world — back in the irons. She’s My Type (8) goes for a really hot trainer. Has been 2-2-0 in the last 6 starts. Look for this one to do her best in the late going. Can’t leave her out of the exotics. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.  I key the 5-8 over/under the 7-9-2-1-10-11 in two smaller units.

8th: 8-10-7/1-12-2/5-11/3-6…Sir Shackleton Stakes…Vekoma (8) will be making the first start since running 13th in the 2019 KY Derby. Before that debacle, though, this 4YO son of Candy Ride had 3 wins and a third. Won the G2 Blue Grass Stakes last year in a power performance. Love the distance to start the 2020 season and this one should be good here for a top trainer — who is hitting at a .31% clip this meet. Needs a new rider today. Take note. He Hate Me (10) is a Florida-bred who ran well against open company last time out. Has a win over this track and will be traveling best in the late strides. Could be a odds presence here. Jackson (7) is another Florida-bred, but won a G3 here last time out. That came at 13-1 odds. Won’t get that today, and may be over bet. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 8-10 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

9th: 5-2/7-12/6-4-8-11/9-(13)-3-10…Sand Springs Stakes…This 1-mile Stakes event will be contested over the turf, and I will focus my betting attention on the two two numbers in my grouping. Newspaperofrecord (5) will be making the first start since losing control and mind in the G1 Belmont Oaks last July. Came up empty in the one and that was the only time this 4YO filly has ever finished worse than first or second. Look for a return to top grade today for the Chad Brown-trainee. Works solid at Palm Meadows. Zofelle (2) got left at the gate in the 2020 debut and had no chance. Came from the clouds to run 5th and was beaten only 21/2 lengths. After being 12th early on. Will be kicking on late, but watch out. If she can get a little better start, she will be dangerous late. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-2 in one exacta. I will key the 5-2 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

10th: 5-6-12/7-2-1/9-11/8-4-3…G3 Orchid Stakes…Gentle Ruler (5) won the final two races of the 2019 season for Ian Wilkes and will make the 2020 debut in this spot today. Has a huge closing kick and will need some racing luck late. Jockey has not won a race in 107 starts this meet. That is a dry spell. Any way you cut it. I may look elsewhere until that streak ends. Mean Mary (6) has won the last two and has 3 wins in the first 5 career starts. Is a perfect 2-for-2 here. Has speed to burn and they will have to come catch her. If they can. Elizabeth Way (12) got no favors in the Post Position draw. Has speed, too, and will have to use from this gate spot. Could hook the 6 early on and set up for the late heroics. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 5-12 over/under the 6-7-2-1-9-11 in two smaller units.

11th: 9-5-4/(13)-7-6/12-8/10-2-3…G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks…This one certainly sets up to be a “chalky event” with the top 3 contenders drawing much of the attention. It also promises to have a lot of pace from the top contenders, too, and if they motor a bit too fast? Could set up for a closing bomb. Tonalist’s Shape (10) is still undefeated after the first 5 starts and has 4 wins over this track, to date. Will push the front with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons. Trainer’s stats are a bit eye-popping, too. Spice Is Nice (5) ran second to the top pick last time out here in the G2 Davona Dale. Was making up some ground at the end. Daughter of Curlin should like the extra distance. She only cost $1.05 million at the 2018 KEE September Yearling Sale. Look for some drama late. Lake Avenue (4) could be a nice surprise in this group, too. The 3YO daughter of Tapit desperately and definitely needed the last race. Came up short after a pedal pushing start. If the author can throttle back the front gear just a bit, she may be better at the wire today. I look for some redemption here. I bet the 5-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 9 over/under all the numbers in two smaller units.

12th: 9/6-10/4-1/2-3…G2 Pan American Stakes…Zulu Alpha (9) is 3-5 in the ML and that makes this one a definite “bet against” in most books. But? It’s hard to find anyone in the field that has better credentials or has the ability to upset this 7YO son of Street Cry. This one has won two straight here and has now won 4 of 5 over this course. Looks well positioned in this group, too. If I am looking to beat, I may try the “all button” over the 9 in the exacta, and hope that the odds eek out to 4-5 or, better yet, even money. The horse that I may give a shot with is Galleon Mast (6). This 7YO son of Mizzen Mast is a Florida bred and has raced over this track 22 times. Has a 6-9-5 record in those trips, too. Moves up in class here, but may be worth a shot at 15-1 ML odds. Focus Group (10) has not raced since running 6th in the G3 Sycamore Stakes at KEE last Oct. Does have a win here, though. I bet the 9 to win at 4-5 or even money. Key the “all button” over the 9 in the exacta. I will try the 6 across the board, too, and then box the 9-6-10 in one small exacta. 

13th: 10-12-7/4-(14)-(16)-1-11/3-5-6-2-9…G3 Appleton Stakes…This grass event will be contested at the flat 1-mile distance and it shapes up to be a good one. Despite the disadvantageous post positions, I will go to the outside for my top two selections here — led by Sombeyay (10). Since joining the grass ranks, this one has a fourth, two straight seconds and a win here last time out. Looks like the son of Into Mischief is getting better and better on the sod, and a man who has over 100 winners here this meet takes the reins back. Will be pushing from the get-go and will be a tough out late, unless someone can really hook early and often. El Tormenta (12) could have been the top pick if not for the extreme outside post. This 5YO gelded son of Stormy Atlantic will be making the first start of 2020 and the first start since running a game 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile against the world’s best. Nothing of those kind in here. Will make the first start over this sod, too. May be a tad short, but has a nice running style for this course, too. Love the rider choice. Social Paranoia (7) could spice up the odds rack a bit here. Another from the barn of Todd Pletcher, this one has not raced since last September at KY Downs. Was a force there and has a win in only 1 start over this track, too. Barn does well off the bench. Watch out here, at some odds. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 10-7 over/under the 12-4-1-11-3-5-6,  unless the two AE horses draw in. 

14th: 9-7-12/5-10/4-1-2-11/3…G1 Florida Derby…Independence Hall (9) had his unbeaten streak end at 3 on the 2020 debut in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay on Feb. 8. Looked to be a winner when he powered by the leg-weary runners on the front end. At the top of the stretch, looked like clear sailing. But the 3YO son of Constitution tired in the final furlong and was passed by a horse that came right back and ran 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby. Assuming this one got a little out of the race and has gotten fitter in the meanwhile, he could be a tough out in this G1 event at a square price. Works have been solid and Joel Rosario takes the reins for the first time. My pick. Solid. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the to 3 in one exacta. I will key the 9 over/under all the other numbers listed in two smaller units.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene