A field of eight will line up in Saturday’s $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) with the speedy Valid the likely one to catch in the 1 1/8-mile test on the main track.
The Donn is one of six stakes on the 13-race card. The supporting features on the card are the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), $150,000 Suwannee River S (G3) and the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (G3).
Valid was sent off as the 9-5 favorite last out in the Hal’s Hope (G3) but got run down in deep stretch by Mshawish, who was making just his second career start on dirt. They will renew their rivalry here Saturday with an extra furlong to do battle.
Mshawish is trained by Todd Pletcher, who also will saddle Madefromlucky and Itsaknockout. Mshawish has won six times on turf including the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) here last year.
Madefromlucky was beaten by Valid in the Harlan’s Holiday in his last outing while Itsaknockout beat third level optional claimers last out here on Dec. 31 in his first start since running ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
The morning line favorite is Keen Ice, who makes his first start since a fourth in the Clark Handicap (G1) last November. Trained by Dale Romans the colt has the distinction of being the lone horse to beat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah last year. The colt won the Travers (G1) over the champ by ¾ of a length.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 13 The Donn Handicap G1 Post time 5:53 ET
4 Valid 6-1
3 Mshawish 7-2
6 Keen Ice 5-2
7 Itsaknockout 4-1
Valid set the early fractions and battled on gamely to the wire to come up just a neck short in the Hal’s Hope (G3), beaten by Mshawish. The Marcus Vitali trainee owns solid early and mid pace numbers and has earned triple digit Beyers in 8 of his last dozen starts. He has done some of his best work over the main track here (12-6-3-1) and has landed in the exacta in three of four trips at nine furlongs. There is some rain in the forecast and this guy is perfect in two trips over wet tracks. The 6-1 morning line looks generous, have a feeling we are going to have to settle for a lighter price here.
Mshawish won the Hal’s Hope in just his second career start on dirt. His first six wins came on turf including the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) here last February. It looks as if the Todd Pletcher trainee has a future on dirt based on his last effort. He has enough pedigree to go nine furlongs, By Medaglia d’Oro out of a Thunder Gulch mare. Jockey Javier Castellano sticks with Keen Ice while this guy picks up John Velazquez.
Keen Ice only won one of nine starts last year but it was over American Pharoah in his Travers (G1) win at 1 ¼ miles. The Dale Romans trainee makes his first start since a good fourth in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs where he was beaten a length. He has worked sharply in the mornings over the surface and looks super schooling in the [paddock on Thursday. His running style is not great for the way this surface has been playing and his price could end up on the light side.
WIN: Valid to win at 7-2 or better.
EXACTA: 3,4 / 3,4,6,7
TRIFECTA: 3,4 / 3,4,6,7 / 3,4,5,6,7
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