The Gulfstream Park championship meeting gets underway on Saturday with the 18th edition of the Claiming Crown, nine stakes races for blue collar runners that have run for a claiming tag with purses more than $1 million.
The 11-race card on Saturday opens an exciting meeting at Gulfstream Park that will feature 93 stakes races with $25 million in purses. There will be 39 graded stakes headlined by the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on April 1, a key prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
The excitement is already building for the newest addition to the racing calendar at the Hallandale, Florida track—the first running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
A dozen placeholders slapped down a cool $1 million to run in what will be the world’s richest race, with $7 million going to the winner horse.
Among those pointing to the race are the top two finishers of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Arrogate and California Chrome, the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Highland Reel and Gun Runner, second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and most recently the winner of the Clark handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“The $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the richest horse race in the world, will be historic,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group and General Manager of Gulfstream Park.
“No one has ever put on a race like this in the history of the sport. The Fountain of Youth and Lambholm South Holy Bull continue to be key prep races for the Florida Derby and Triple Crown. Our world-class turf course and main track will play host to the biggest equine stars. Our program will once again be supported by the top trainers and jockeys in the sport.”
The Claiming Crown is a great way to start the meet. The shortest field among the nine stakes is the $200,000 Jewel which drew a field of nine.
The field sizes of the other races will be 11,11,14,14,14,13,14 and 14.
With horses coming from all around the country, the Claiming Crown races are among the best wagering races for horseplayers the entire year.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 10 The Claiming Crown Jewel (Post time 4:34 ET)
#3 Royal Posse 7-5
#1 Bigger Picture 4-1
#7 John Jones 9-2
#4 Mr. Kisses 10-1
Analysis: Royal Posse is back to defend his title here for the RRod barn. The trainer took this guy for just $20,000 in May of 2015 and he has landed in the exacta in 13 straight starts for the barn. He won this race last year in the slop after a second in the state bred Empire Classic. This year he comes in here riding a three race winning streak, winning the Empire Classic this year in a near career top effort. He is 8 for 11 at nine furlongs and looks very tough in this spot.
Bigger Picture is coming off a win in the Red Smith Handicap (G3) on turf at 1 3/8 miles. The Mike Maker trainee has only raced on conventional dirt twice in his career, the last a third versus $25,000 claimers at seven furlongs at the Spa in August of ’14. Maker claimed this guy for $32,00 last November and he has won 4 of 7 for the barn and earned over $300,000. The gelding has worked well on dirt. The barn is 15% winners moving runners from turf to dirt.
John Jones was off a beat slow last out and after pressing the early pace opened heading for home and drew clear to win by nearly five lengths against $35,000 starter allowance foes. The Lacey Gaudet barn claimed this guy for $25,000 and he is perfect for the new connections in four starts including winning the restricted Mister Diz at Laurel Park going six furlongs on turf in his first go for the barn. His last trip was his first at nine furlongs. He is sharp and will be forwardly placed.
WIN: #3 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,4,7
TRI: 1,3 / 1,3,4,7 / 1,3,4,5,7
Get an entire month of Gulfstream Park reports for just $79.95! Michael’s Gulfstream Park Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card! Michael has been handicapping the Florida circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades. The Gulfstream Park meeting gets underway on Dec. 3!