Irish War Cry makes his 2018 debut on Saturday at Gulfstream Park as the 5-2 morning line favorite in a field of eight in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope (G3) at one mile on the main track.
The Graham Motion trainee went down the Derby Trail last year, winning the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, but was a disappointing 10th at 9-2 in the Run for the Roses.
The colt rebounded with a solid second in the Belmont Stakes (G1), was fourth in the Haskell (G1) and finished off his year with a subpar eighth in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1).
He faces a tough group including Economic Model (3-1), who is coming off a sharp win against $100,000 optional claimers at Belmont Park and the Todd Pletcher trained duo of Malagacy (4-1) and Send It in (7-2).
Completing the field are Conquest Big E (8-1), Tower of Texas (15-1), Quijote (20-1) and Giuseppe the Great (20-1).
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 12 The Hal’s Hope G3 (Post time 5:35 ET)
#1 Irish War Cry 5-2
#6 Malagacy 4-1
#8 Send It In 7-2
#2 Economic Model 3-1
Analysis: Irish War Cry makes his first start since a disappointing eighth in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) last September at Philly. This guy ran big a few times, like his Holy Bull (G2) and Wood (G2) wins, but also tossed in a few mysterious clunkers like his 10th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and his last start. He has been freshened and should be fit off works at Palm Meadows for the Motion barn that is 13% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
Malagacy looked like a serious Derby candidate last year after reeling off wins in his first three starts including the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park but faded to finish fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G2) and was placed on the shelf. He came up short in his return against optional claimers last out at six furlongs but should be tighter off that effort and with the extra ground he looks like a player in this spot. Pletcher is 28% winners moving runners from sprint to route. The barn won this race last year with Tommy Macho.
Send It In is also sent out by Pletcher and this gelding makes his first start since popping a 119 Beyer winning the Excelsior (G3) at the Big A going 1 1/4 miles. That number was 15 points higher than his previous career top and seems a bit out of whack. However, three did come out of that race to win next out including runner up Tu Brutus who won the Flat Out by 11 lengths in his last start and earned a Beyer of 108. Pletcher is 33% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,2,6,8
TRI: 1,6 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8
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