At The Track: Big Kentucky Preps Continue With The Florida Derby and The Louisiana Derby

Featured, Sports and Bets — March 28, 2014 at 7:03 am by

I love Maryland racing and I love Laurel Park, and even though the ponies are running there Saturday my horse gambling focus will be out-of-state this weekend.  The top 3-year-olds in the country continue their march towards the Kentucky Derby in Florida and Louisiana as both states feature their respective Derby Days.   Both the Louisiana and the Florida Derby are major stepping-stones for sophomore colts (and fillies) and the winners of both races will most certainly, barring any injury or training setbacks, be running at Churchill Downs on that glorious first Saturday in May.

It’s a rich day in racing.  Besides the two big race days here in America, Dubai has their World Cup this Saturday.  The Dubai World Cup is the richest day of horse racing on the planet and it features 9 races worth a combined 27 million bucks.  The biggest of those races is the World Cup itself which is worth a staggering $10 million.  That’s some serious coin.  So, if the mood strikes you at 9 a.m., fire up the laptop and throw some money on some horses in the Middle East, you’ll feel like an international man of leisure as you count your winnings.

But back to the States.  Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida is one of my favorite tracks, so that’s where I’ll concentrate my efforts.  Sure, I’ll play the Louisiana Derby and give a pick below, but I usually like to concentrate on one card, so since I have to pick one, Gulfstream and the Florida Derby card get the nod.  I’ll give you some races from the undercard there, plus the Florida Derby and the Louisiana Derby . But enough chit-chat, let’s go get ’em.


Gulfstream Park-

Race 2- 100k AOC  1 1/16 miles Turf:  I love turf racing and this 100k AOC is chock full of good gambling options.  You could make a case for several of these horses, but I’ll go with the #8 Hampstead Heath.  Heath’s been doing pretty well in some Graded Stakes races over the last 9 months, but he hasn’t been quite good enough to see the winners circle.  Now, after being shipped to Florida from Canada and running evenly in a Grade 3 event, he takes a drop down into the big dollar allowance/optional claiming ranks.  Granted, most of the contenders here are graded stakes veterans as well, but I think this is a nice spot for our gelding.  Hampstead Heath needed that last race and now he has settled into a sweet looking training regimen.  With a lot of early speed entered, this race may also set up well for him and  the 6-1 odds look fat for a pony that is second off the layoff and looking primed.  If he fires, he wins.   2nd- #4 Padilla   3rd – #2 Seal Cove

Race 4- The Rampart G3:    #2 Devils Cave.  Obvious.

Race 6- The GP Oaks:  Eight fillies are vying for the big time here.  These ladies can further their racing careers with a trip to the Kentucky Oaks or the Black Eye Susan if they can perform well here.  I’ll take a shot with the #5 Whomping Willow.  The #6 In Tune looks to be the one to beat here, and Willow took a while to break her maiden, but if In Tune gets some early company from the 3, our rapidly improving Whomping Willow could Whomp her way to a stalking victory.  Post position fits this scenario and our girl has the breeding to go the two turns and 9 panels.    Worth a gamble.

Race 8- Sir Shackleton Sprint-100k:  Ribo Bobo is the favorite here for good reason.  This lower level stakes monster has won 12 of his last 13 races.  At 5-2 he’s a fucking bargain.  I see no reason to doubt him here, even if Happy My Way is sitting on the rail.  No worries.  The pro will show.   Chalky.  2nd- Happy My Way  3rd- #5 Red Hot Randy

Race 10- Orchid G3:  We are literally liking every other race so far.  Anyway, this contest is a mile and a half turf marathon for fillies and mares.  The #5 Inimitable Romanee won her last race here at Gulfstream going almost the same distance and popping her best Beyer in two years at the age of 6.  Graham Motion may be on to something with this miss, she won her race prior to that going marathon style at 28-1 odds.  She’s favored in this one.  Seems too logical to pass up, specialist win these kind of races in America.  Another favorite winner.  2nd #7 Viva Rafaela  3rd-  #2 Anjaz

Race 11- Appleton G3:  #4 Mr. Online is going to be awfully tough here, but he’s going to have some company out front early and I think now is the perfect time for the #2 Salto to get that elusive first American graded stakes win.  Like that he can save ground while Mr. Online dukes it out for the early lead. Nice works and one of the best jockeys in the turf game add to the appeal.   Player.   2nd- Mr. Online  3rd-  Hey Leroy

Race 12- The Skip Away:  This race looks ready for an upset.  There’s a lot of nice horses here, but none of the favorites are blowing anybody away with their recent form.  With a track that’s been favoring speed for months the #5 Nevada Kid looks like a player at 6-1.  He’ll be the lone speed, and despite never having gone the distance before, lone speed at Gulfstream is very dangerous.  He’s won his last two in more shallow waters but his works are nice and he may be ready to rumble with the bigger kids in this spot. Let’s gamble.

Race 13- Pan American G2:  Now it’s turf marathon time for the guys.  The #7 Amira’s Prince is our choice and he will be a heavy play.  He’s won at the distance, he loves Gulfstream, he has Beyers that jump off the page and our boy Joel Rosario is on board.  If this horse runs here (he’s also entered in Louisiana.)  and he’s 3-1 or better, he’s the biggest play of the day.  Exactas with 1,2,4,5.  Make or break race.

Race 14- The Florida Derby:  It’ll be late when this bad boy breaks from the gate and a long ass day of racing will culminate with a trip to Kentucky for the winner.  I’ve been all over #1 Wildcat Red from the get-go and I’m not bailing out now.  Speed bias, schmeed bias, this colt fought hoof and reign to win his last in the Fountain of Youth.  He looked General A Rod in the eye and beat him.  Now he gets the rail and he’s the speed of the speed.  If there is a bias, the post favors him.  Of course there is the question of distance, but I’m willing to bet that he gets there based on his heart alone, which may be stupid, but I love this guy.  I think he’ll end up at 4 or 5-1 too because folks don’t trust his stamina and his last win keeps getting poo-pooed by all the experts.  I hope he proves em all wrong. Winner, winner, Kentucky fried chicken dinner.   2nd- #3 Cairo Prince  3rd- #4 Constitution


Louisiana Derby–  The #10 Albano (Captain Lou reference?) missed by a nose and lost to favorite #1 Intense Holiday in the Risen Star.    But Albano has improved in every race and if he keeps that up he will win here and turn the tables on Intense Holiday on Saturday.  Albano will be able to stalk the speed from his outside post and let the race come to him.  He was caught on the rail in his last and had to get out front early.  Now this versatile colt can run down the leaders and hold off his late running rival.  9-2 odds add to the appeal.  Louisville calling.





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