While the northeast is buried in a blizzard and Aqueduct has canceled racing, we will head off to do a little Gulfstream Park betting, with a 12-race card on tap including four stakes, highlighted by the Grade 1 $400,000 Donn Handicap.
The Donn drew a competitive field of ten including Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic third place finisher Flat Out, who is the 3-1 morning line favorite.
The seven-year-old won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup the past two years, and was fifth in the Donn last year, which was his last start for trainer Scooter Dickey. The hall of famer Bill Mott has saddled the son of Flatter in his last four starts.
He has done his best running in New York and has not won outside of the Big Apple since taking a second level optional claimer at Fair Grounds in December of 2010.
Among the foes he faces on Saturday include the 2012 Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, Grade 1 Clark Handicap third place finisher Bourbon Courage and the up and coming Todd Pletcher trainee Graydar, who makes his stakes debut.
Among the four stakes on the Gulfstream Park card, the most intriguing is the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, which is a showdown between Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry.
Animal Kingdom won the 2011 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and in his last start ran well in a runner up finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, which was coming back off a nine month layoff.
Point of Entry won three consecutive Grade 1 races on turf before running second to Little Mike in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in his last outing.
Also in the field is Unbridled Command, who was one of the best three-year-old turf runners last year, winning the Grade 3 Saranac and the Grade 1 Hollywood Park Derby.
Aqueduct canceled due to the winter storm Nemo on Friday and Saturday. I am heading south and my full card report for Gulfstream Park for Saturday is now available.
Michael’s Best Plays Report for Saturday includes his ten strongest plays from Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 11 The Donn Hcp G1 (5:32 ET)
1 Bourbon Courage 8-1
2 Flat Out 3-1
4 Graydar 5-1
8 Take Charge Indy 6-1
Analysis: Bourbon Courage makes his first start since a third place finish in the Clark ‘Cap (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs. The colt made a good late rally, was carried outward in the stretch and bumped with Take Charge Indy and held on gamely in a good effort, beaten a length for the top spot. Two back in the Indiana Derby (G2) he ran a good second to repeat winner Neck ‘n Neck who came back to win the Ack Ack (G3) in his next outing on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs. His lone stakes win last year came in the Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana Downs last September. The colt was working sharply at Fair Grounds for his return and then put in a quick work over the surface here on Feb. 3. The Gorder barn is 29% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. This guy looks like the value of the race fig he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.
Flat Out makes his first start since his third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last fall. The seven year old came with a five wide rally and drifted inward inside the final furlong and was not a real threat to the top pair. He did catch a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. Two came out of that race to win stakes next out, Ron the Greek taking the Sunshine Millions Classic and game On Dude winning the Native Diver (G3) and the San Antonio (G2) in his next two starts. His last three figs look imposing but he seems to do his best running at Belmont Park where he has won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) the last two years. He fits here and has Mott in his corner, but the price may end up on the light side.
Graydar appears to have the most upside in the field. The colt makes his stakes debut here for the Pletcher barn. He popped a 100 Beyer breaking his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths last April, and after a third against Alw-1 foes in September off the bench he passed his first allowance condition last out here with another triple digit Beyer. The runner up in the race was Tiz Yankee, who came back to beat Alw-2L foes in his next start with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. He gets the class test today and he might be up to it.
WIN: #1 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,4,8
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,4,8 / 1,2,4,5,7,8
Michael Dempsey provides his full card handicapping report each racing day from New York. His Aqueduct Report is available every day Wednesday through Sunday. Michael has covered the New York circuit daily for more than two decades.