The Gulfstream Park championship meeting gets underway on Saturday with the 17th running of the Claiming Crown, with the $200,000 Jewel the marquee event on the 11-race card.
There are nine Claiming Crown races, restricted to the blue-collar claiming horses that make up most of racing today. There is $1.1 million in purses up for grabs.
The Rudy Rodriguez trained Royal Posse appears to be the one to beat in the Jewel, which drew a full field 14. The nine-furlong test is for three-year-olds and upward which have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2014.
The weather will play a role on Saturday as it has been raining in Florida since Thursday and the opening day card seems likely to have the turf races shifted to the main track.
I will be covering the Gulfstream Park meeting on a daily basis with Aqueduct reduced to Saturday only. The inept jockey colony at Aqueduct along with the cut back to four-day race weeks in January have me looking for better wagering opportunities.
Things pick up in January at the Hallandale, Florida track and three-year-olds looking to make it to Louisville on the first Saturday of May for the Kentucky Derby (G1) will have ample opportunities to hop on the Derby Trail at Gulfstream Park.
The Derby Trail in Florida starts with the $100,000 Hutcheson (G3) and $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Jan. 2, then the $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) and $150,000 Swale (G3) Jan. 30, the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) and $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) Feb. 27, and the $75,000 Spectacular Bid March 19.
Those races serve as preps for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on April 2.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 11 The Claiming Crown Jewel (5:05 ET)
#11 Royal Posse 4-1
#8 Rich Daddy 6-1
#9 Indycott 8-1
#10 Freestyler 5-1
Analysis: Royal Posse was bumped coming out of the gate, chased the early pace while down along the inside which was not the best place to be, was fanned out five wide and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish in the New York bred Empire Classic, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. The gelding was nearly five lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. The RRod barn has been on fire in New York and claimed this guy for just $20,000 back in May and won the state bred Evan Shipman with him two back. He has landed in the exacta in five of his six trips at nine furlongs and has landed a wet track, landing in the exacta in three of five.
Rich Daddy was a much the best winner last out against $62,500 optional claimers last out, non-winners of two other than or a race since May 12. The gelding earned a near career top speed fig in that effort and has run well over the main track here and has a win and a third in two trips on off tracks. The nine furlongs is a question mark but he comes in here very sharp.
Indycott was a game winner last out against $35,000 starter allowance foes at Laurel Park. He was making his second start off the claim by the Danny Gargan barn that took this guy for $50,000 three back out of a win at Saratoga at nine furlongs. By A.P. Indy out of a Seeking the Gold mare, he is bred top and bottom to handle a wet track.
WIN: #11 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 8,11 / 8,9,10,11
TRI: 8,11 / 8,9,10,11 / 1,8,9,10,11