Gulfstream Park Picks: Full Field Lines Up in El Prado Stakes

A full field will line up in Saturday's $75,000 El Prado at Gulfstream Park

A full field of 14 will line up on Saturday in the featured race of the afternoon at Gulfstream Park, the one mile $75,000 El Prado Stakes.

A deep and competitive field will head to the starting gate including a pair of $1 million earners who will be longshots in the race. Get Serious ($1.1 million) and Teaks North ($1 million) are 10-1 and 15-1 respectively on the morning line.

The morning line favorite is the David Kassen trained Nikki’s Sandcastle (7-2), who is coming off a game win in the Claiming Crown Emerald over the turf course at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 1.

The five-year-old gelding is a six-time turf winner and Corey Lanerie gets a return ride on the son of Castledale.

In addition to an outstanding card at Gulfstream Park, it is Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds on Saturday, with the 12-race card featuring five stakes.

The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2) champion Chamberlain Bridge is the 5-2 morning line favorite against eight foes in the $75,000 Bonapaw at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf course.

The Brett Calhoun trainee has won five of his eight starts over the Fair Grounds turf in his career and is the defending champion in the Bonapaw. I have included all five stakes in my Best Plays Report for Saturday.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park.

Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Gulfstream  Park Race 9 The El Prado (Post time 4:35 ET)

5 Salto   5-1

14 Nikki’s Sandcastle   7-2

8 Empire Builder   12-1

1 Bad Debt    12-1

Analysis: Salto is coming off a fourth place finish in the Fayette (G2) on poly at Keeneland. The colt tracked the early pace, took over the lead and did not have enough punch left late, checking in three lengths back of the winner. His last turf try as a solid second in the Cliff Hanger (G3) three back at Monmouth Park behind Tune In. This guy is Group 1 placed as a juvenile and I like the switch back to turf here. The Pletcher barn is 30% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from synth to turf.

Nikki’s Sandcastle held on gamely to win the Claiming Crown Emerald last out over the turf here. The gelding had a couple of tough beats earlier this year and he can run over any surface. His best is turf where he is a six time winner over the weeds and this year he has been very consistent, landing in the exacta in 8 of 10 starts. The break may be key as he breaks from the outside and there is not much of a run up before they hit the first turn.


WIN: #5 to win at 7-2 or better.

EX: 5,14 / 1,5,8,14

TRI: 5,14 / 1,5,8,14 / 1,3,5,8,14


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.

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