Almanaar, Mr. Jordan key to Gulfstream Late Pick 4
Gulfstream features three graded stakes Saturday and five of the last six races drew at least 12 runners. Let’s focus on the Late Pick 4 (races 9-12) that includes the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) and Hal’s Hope (G3).
9th race: The sequence kicks off with a 5-furlong maiden special weight on turf and the winner could easily come from one of the three inside posts. #1 Spellker, a City Zip filly for Wesley Ward, shows a recent 5-furlong bullet work and looks like the one to catch from the rail. #2 Objective Complete is eligible to fire first-out for Mark Casse. #3 Raging Fever adds Lasix, major player switching to turf in good form.
10th race, Ft. Lauderdale: #8 Almanaar was starting to come on for Shadwell in 2015, winning back-to-back Group 3 events in France before heading to the sidelines in late summer. Gelding raced sparingly in 2016; he probably needed a race when returning off a 17-month hiatus in a stakes-quality allowance in mid-September and experienced a troubled trip finishing third as the favorite in another salty event a month later. Look for Almanaar to come on for Chad Brown at age 5. Top pick should be rolling late from just off the pace.
#1 Heart to Heart must be respected (3-for-3 on Gulfstream turf) but front-runner was all-out last time despite easy lead, figures to catch more early pressure today. #7 Divisidero can make his presence felt if ready to go off the shelf. #6 Lukes Alley showed an affinity for Gulfstream’s turf last year and owns huge BRIS Late Pace numbers. #10 Jay Gatsby often settles for a minor award but he remains eligible to show more at age 5 for James Jerkens.
11th race, Hal’s Hope: Most rivals are exiting setbacks but #8 Mr. Jordan has never been better, registering 105 and 106 BRIS Speed ratings in the last two starts, 9 ¼-length and 3 ¾-length victories. Those numbers essentially lay over the competition the gray gelding is a stakes winner at the one-mile trip (he finished first in another Gulfstream stakes at distance but was disqualified to second). He can make it three straight today.
#3 Bird Song exits sharp allowance tally at Churchill Downs, could carry form forward in stakes bow. #2 Tommy Macho concluded 2016 with a pair of poor efforts, and I’m inclined to give him a race back off the shelf, but his 3 ¾-length victory in last year’s Fred Hooper (G3) at Gulfstream is difficult to ignore. #4 Realm appears headed in the right direction off a third in the Cigar Mile (G1). #9 Unbridled Outlaw is sneaky at long odds with his outside speed and improving form.
12th race: We wrap up with a full field of $25,000 maiden claimers going 1 1/16 miles on turf, and trainers Joe Sharp and Mike Maker are represented by top contenders in #3 Albert Charles and #10 Chasing the Dream.
#6 Fast Fact should appreciate the class drop and #7 Campaigner’s Gold can’t be dismissed off encouraging efforts, and #2 Eye of the Lion could take to turf with a strong showing.
Pick 4 Tickets (races 9-12)
I will play a pair of 50-cent tickets, using Amanaar and Mr. Jordan as singles, and each one costs $37.50.
Ticket 1: 1,2,3 with 8 with 2,3,4,8,9 with 2,3,6,7,10 ($37.50)
Ticket 2: 1,2,3 with 1,6,7,8,10 with 8 with 2,3,6,7,10 ($37.50)