Awesome Maria, a daughter of Maria’s Mon, won today’s GII “Rampart Stakes” for 4yo & up Fillies and Mares, going 1 1/8 mile, for $150,000 by 8 lengths at Gulfstream Park!
Coming 2nd by those 8 lengths was 25/1 long shot Successful Song with 3rd going to Unrivaled Belle, the 2010 B/C Ladies Classic winner who looked the part of a horse who hadn’t run a race in almost 5 months!
Awesome Maria did what we thought she’d need to do here today which was to rate just a bit and then sweep home for the win in the stretch.
Unrivaled Belle however, seemed determined to try to keep up with the blazing hot early factions set by Persuading of 23.3, 46.4 and 1:10.4 which isn’t the usual style of either filly and both paid the price for it, by finishing 3rd and 4th!
Successful Song’s 2nd place finish was a surprise but with the early scratch of Joanie’s Catch she should have made it on to one of your supers, at least.
So no exotics for us to carry home here but we manage a win on Awesome Maria so not a total loss here!
Awesome Maria’s big win here today is a statement to the rest of the Ladies Handicap division that she will be heard from this season, count on it! She’ll be in someone’s GI tussle soon!
GII “Fountain of Youth” winner, Soldat(seen here), was made the 9/5 favorite and drew gate#1 in Sunday’s GI Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, going 1 1/8 mile, for a field of 8 worthy Derby contenders, all in search of this Million dollar pay-day and a berth in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby!
At 20/1 are the final trio in this field of 8 in Arch Traveler in gate#3, Bowman’s Causeway in gate# 4 and Shackleford drew gate# 5!
With the speedy Flashpoint now in this race, Soldat will not have the lead all to himself, so another wire to wire performance doesn’t seem to be in the cards here Sunday!
We expect early factions from Flashpoint of 23 and 3/5, 46 and 4/5 , 1:11 flat, and from that point onFlashpoint will either fade or do much like what The Factor did in the Rebel Stakes and go on with it. If he does he will vie for the win. Any faster factions then the one’s above and a pace collaspe is unavoidable in the stretch for Flashpoint!
Soldat who will probably stalk until the head of the stretch where he will then challenge Flashpoint and here is where the dice-roll comes in. If Soldat challenges for the lead too quickly, a duel to the death (so to speak) will ensue opening the door for Dialed In, To Honor and Serve and Stay Thirsty in very deep stretch!
You should expect, at least, 3 lead changes, in the stretch, under the above scenario!
So if we were picking today, we’d start with strategies for wagering first. As long as there are 8 starters when the gates fly open, than there’s good value here as all exotics will payout reasonably well, regardless of the outcome!
We think multiple trifectas and the cheapest supers you can find are the best ways to go here to capture the true value from this race!
If you’re going to use exactas, use $1 boxes on at less 3 or 4 here as the best ways to cash in on the underlying value here with exactas!
Next use pedigrees, last three performances and total life earnings as a guide forward! Click on the free pp’s above to help you with that!
As for us, Soldat will find the board, at least, if not win outright. DialedIn will be a deep closer and vie. To Honor and Serve and Stay Thirsty “have too” and I mean “have too“go all in on Sunday or look for something else to do on May 7th! All their tomorrow’s are gone it’s do it now or never!
The wildcard is Flashpoint, if you don’t use him, he just might burst up your best plays.
If you do use him, where?
Best and safest places would be in one of your supers as he may falter by the mile mark but still fill up that super for you. Use him, but not in all your supers!
As for the 3, 20/1 long shots, well remember last year’s Florida Derby where Ice Box and Pleasant Prince both at 30/1 or more took down the 1 and 2 spots!
If you have that feeling, use them only in supers, as a repeat of last year seems against the odds.
You may find the memory of that contest will still be playing on the minds of the “Gulfstream faithful” as that too will only enhance the underlying wagering value in this race!
So the Florida Derby kicks-off the GI portion of the 2011 “Derby Trail” season with millions in purse money up for grabs and a handful of those precious Derby gates to go to the victors!
It’s “Show-Time” everyone, so lets load them up and turn them loose towards Louisville and the 137th running of the “Kentucky Derby”!
Gulfstream Park has its major 2-day Winter/Spring meet event this weekend with 2 Graded Stakes on Saturday for the Ladies in the GII Rampart Stakes and the GII Gulfstream Oaks!
So lets start our two-day preview with the Ladies races first!
The GII Rampart Stakes is a 1 1/8 mile affair, for 4yo’s & up fillies and mares, for a purse of $150,000!
Coming out for her first test of 2011 is the m/l favorite in Unrivaled Belle at 9/5. Unrivaled Belle had two very major accomplishments in 2010 as she beat Rachel Alexandra in the GII Le Troienne Stakes on Oaks Day at the Downs and beat Harve de Grace & Blind Luck to win the B/C Ladies Classic last fall.
So no small feats to be sure, but again this is her first outing of the season with “winter rust” to shake off here and probably the only reason why she not even money here. Look for a board hit on her for sure and will probably vie for the win with the 2nd choice here!
At 2/1 is that 2nd choice in Awesome Maria. This 4yo out of Maria’s Mon, won last month’s GIII Sabin Stakes here at GulfStream over Amen Hallelujah in a mile tussle that went in 1:36 and 2/5. This one too, is a big time Graded Stakes runner who hits the board for you on almost every occasion and with a graded stakes win over this strip already, we have visions of a big time stretch duel between these top picks and only one will win.
Put both ladies in all your plays but an exacta payout will be on the thin side if these two come 1, 2!
At 5/1 is Dubai Dancer. This 4yo daughter of A.P. Indy was stair-stepping her way up the food chain until she reach the graded stakes level in the GI Gazelle last yearwhere at 1 1/8 mile she finished 6th that day! She’s but one outing this year here in a Aoc at 7 1/2 f finishing 3rd behind Quiet Temper in late Jan. We feel the 5/1 is a bit of a gift here as she has no wins over this strip and seems to have hit a ceiling when running at the graded stakes level or over the mile distances. So supers for her until she show us different!
At 6/1 are a pair of stakes and graded stakes runners in Persuading and Successful Song!
Persuading already has 3 trips out this year here at Gulfstream all at the GIII level and all board hits with a pair of 2nd’s and a 3rd. Makes all the sense in the world to us to move her up to the GII level here. She should be your trifecta and super thinking!
Successful Song is what we call at this blog a “Home Cook in” horse whose career has only taken her between Calder and Gulfstream! If this were a “state-bred” race we’d look harder at her here. She does have a recent 2nd place in an Aoc here earlier this month in a 1 1/8 mile test. So at 6/1 a super might be a better place for her!
At 10/1 & 20/1 are the final 2 runners in this seven horse field and a pair that could burst up your tri’s and supers in Stephanie Got Even and Joanie’s Catch.
Stephanie Got Even, has got 3 race under her belt this year, all at the stakes level or higher, all board hits too. Her last outing was a 3rd behind Hilda’s Passion in the GII Inside Information Stakes here two weeks ago where Hilda’s Passion set a course record for 7f! We can’t hold that 3rd place showing against Stephanie Got Even. We wouldn’t stop you from using her in a super play somewhere either.
Joanie’s Catch might be the busiest filly in all the land with, wait for it, 20 starts in the last 15 months with 5 this year along. This 4yo filly with the less than eye-popping pedigree ran in all the big Grade Stakes races for 3yo fillies last year and did well too. In her 20 starts, 15 of them were either board hits or she filled in the super and she loves to run this Florida circuit too. You Will have a hard time keeping her out a super somewhere, especially at 20/1 or higher as she’s a “picking up the piece’s” type who looks like she is never in the race until you look at the results and find her name in the 3rd or 4th spot! This one loves to run late!
So where do we stand, well we like Unrivaled Belle and Awesome Maria as your 1’s and 2’s as long as Awesome Maria doesn’t wear herself out on the front end and Dubai Dancer and Persuading in the back of your tri’s and supers and in some dime super’s put the 2 long shots in somewhere.
So a very good field for this GII tussle and it should give us some clues for the upcoming races like the Apple Blossom or Louisville Handicaps!
The GII Gulfstream Oaks is a $300,000, for 3yo fillies only, going in a 1 1/8 mile tilt with all kinds of implications for the GI Kentucky Oaks contest on May 6th.
In this 7 horse field is the 8/5 favorite in R Heat Lightning who finished 2nd to the now injured Awesome Feather in the B/C 2yo fillies race. She’s had two outings this year over this strip both GII’s where she come 4th in the 7f Forward Gal Stakesthen turning the table’s on that same group with a win in the Davona Dale Stakes here last month at a mile distance! She looked stronger and better rated in last month’s outing than earlier this season. So if she continues to improve at 1 1/8 distance she will vie for the win here and will to make a ton of noise up at the Downs on May 6th as well! So she should go right into your exotics thinking, first.
At 2/1 is It’s Tricky coming in here undefeated in 3 stair-stepping starts at Aqueduct winning the Busher Stakes there at 1 and 70 yds in 1:43 and 1/5. This daughter of Mineshaft will be trying the 1 1/8 distance for the first time and is shipping down from the “Big Apple” to boot!
First time at the distance and shipping too, into Graded Stakes company makes 2/1 a bit pricey for us. 4/1 or higher would make her exacta worthy but for now tri’s are all right for her!
At 6/1 are Beso Grande and Island School.
Beso Grande spent her 2yo season bouncing around the Florida 2yo filly circuit where at the stakes level she was a consistent board hitter. This “Home Cook in” 3yo won a mile allow dust-up here in Feb in an average time of 1:38 flat! She is really going to have to pick up her game here on Saturday if she wants’ to be part of the 3yo ladies scene this year. Supers for her until she shows us something at this level.
Island School finished 3rd to Beso Grande in that same mile allow contest here in Feb. This daughter of A.P. Indy has but a Msw win over this strip in Jan. to her 4 race resume. 6/1 seems a bit much for just a Msw winner but perhaps she is ready to bloom into her pedigree here on Saturday and make a name for herself. Still we wouldn’t go any further than a super with her!
At 8/1 is Triune is out of the Mr.Prospector and Nureyev lines has spent all of her time turfing so far. We like her stair-stepping, stakes and Graded stakes experiences and her last 1 1/8 try in the GIII Here comes the Bride contest last month finishing in 4th would give us some interest in her at 8/1. She’d seem to be a better wager then the 2, 6/1 shots here but you’d have to believe she can make the surface/switch in good order on Saturday! 8/1 at the back-end of a tri or super might be worth the try!
At 10/1 and 15/1 are the final twosome of this field in Salary Drive and Kinderley!
Salary Drive is a daughter of Mizzen Mast has had a checked career of dirt and turf outings with Msw and Allow wins with the former being an allow win here at a mile distance in 1:38 and 1/5! She’d be no worse than the pair at 6/1 here. So if you have a feeling 10/1 won’t be a bad thing in a super somewhere as 10/1 will probably drift up!
Kinderley is a daughter out of Bernardini with just a mile Msw win to her name in that 1:38 range again in 3 lifetime outings! We say stay away but a 25/1 msw winner took the Sunland Derby on Sunday and Watch me go at 43/1 won the Tampa Bay Derby.
So she won’t stay at 15/1 and will very likely drift up. So if you think she’s got a shot here, tell you what, put $2 down on all 7 horses to win and if this one comes in you’ll have gas money for the next week. Msw winner aren’t going to win them all!
So we like R Heat Lightning and It’s Tricky in the 1’s and 2’s spots then Triune, Beso Grande and Salary Drive in mixed tri’s and supers
So ladies day is day one here at Gulfstream’s 2-day spectacular this Saturday and it should be a fun one but more on the Florida Derby in our next posting!
Here on the eve of the Florida Derby, one of its main combatants in Gourmet Dinner was removed from training, for a while and off the Derby Trail with a sore shin.
This minor injury was discovered about a week after his 2nd place finished in the GII Fountain of Youth Stakes last month at Gulfstream Park!
It had been something of a mystery why he hadn’t been entered in Sunday’s GI Florida Derby but trainer Steve Standridge said today he didn’t want to rush the horse back for Sunday’s big Derby test as he wanted to do what was right by the horse!
He has been doing some light walking back in Ocala and is set to start some jogging by the middle of next month.
Gourmet Dinner was #2 on the leading graded stakes earnings board this year with $780,000 already banked and was a sure-fire contender for the “Run for the Roses” this May! We wish a speedy return to racing for this big fellow!