Shapiro: An early Pick 4 on Florida Derby Day

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March 27th, 2020

The Florida Derby and the mandatory payout in the Rainbow Pick 6 headline the 14-race card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, but there are plenty of attractive wagering opportunities early in the day as well.

The early Pick 4 starting in Race 2 can hopefully can help build our bankroll for the big stakes action later on. Here are my thoughts.

Race 2:

A wide-open 7-furlong optional claimer over the main track kicks things off. #6 Traveling Midas is listed as the 3-1-morning line favorite after a solid runner-up effort off the break on Feb. 6. The son of Quality Road is capable of getting to the wire first, but at that price I am willing to let him beat me.

#5 Beau Luminaire merits serious respect as the 7-2-second choice after posting a 100 Brisnet Speed rating in his maiden breaking effort last month. A repeat of that performance will make him tough, but he is unlikely to be alone on the front end in this full field making him difficult to fully trust.

#7 Be Gone Daddy is a long shot worth including. The 5-year-old gelding came from well out of it while against the flow in his first start off a near 2-month freshening on Feb. 22. He has shown an affinity for this racetrack and is capable of running this field down if the pace is contentious early.

#11 Top Seed won under confident handling in his initial try for Shug McGaughey. He has trained forwardly since his debut victory and has a significant chance to make it 2-for-2 to start his career.

#12 Bernin’ Thru Gold has not raced since last summer at Saratoga, but was competitive against some strong competition in New York. The fact trainer Mark Hennig attracts Luis Saez is worth noting.  

Race 3:

#3 Largent did not make the lead last time with #13 Award Winner outsprinting him to the front, but the Virginia-bred did relax nicely off that rival and fought the eventual winner, Penalty, to the wire. If Award Winner draws in from the also-eligible list, that makes things more difficult for Largent, but if not, then I love the Todd Pletcher trainee’s chances of getting the win. The Into Mischief colt has proven he loves this turf course and should be able to dictate terms under Luis Saez from post 3.

If Award Winner draws in, I will likely pull a gameday audible and include #5 Temple and #12 Tribhuvan. Otherwise, I am all in on Largent.

Race 4: $100,000 Cutler Bay S.

The pace should be honest in this one-mile event over the sod, which should set things up for one of the colts that do their best running late.

#6 Vitalogy was closer to the pace than expected in his 3-year-old debut in the Palm Beach (G3) on Feb. 29 for trainer Brendan Walsh. He is likely to come from much further out of it on Saturday, but with a clean trip he is going to be ultra-tough to beat.

#10 Decorated Invader may have been best when last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), but a wide trip cost him. If he is ready to roll off the bench he could spring the minor upset.

Race 5:

There does not appear to be a ton of early zip entered in this elongated sprint over the main track to close out the sequence. Therefore, I will lean on runners that should be prominently placed.

#11 Almashriq looks to be the fastest out of the gate. The pricey son of War Front broke on top and wired out a weaker field in his first U.S. start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. If he can break well and cross over from his outside draw, he has a shot to make it two in a row.

#6 Squeezadios cuts back to one turn and gets a significant rider upgrade to Paco Lopez. The son of Adios Charlie should be in a perfect stalking spot on the backstretch and has three wins and 11 in-the-money finishes in 13 starts at Gulfstream Park.

#7 Wind of Change got off to poor start in his stateside debut at Tampa Bay Downs last month, but adds blinkers and has a right to take a big step forward for high percentage conditioner Efren Loza. He will be a big price.

#9 Intrepid Heart takes on older runners for the initial time for trainer Todd Pletcher. The eighth-place finisher in last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) is likely to be keen off the long layoff, which should have him striking position throughout.  

Suggested Wager: (50-cent Pick 4)

  • R2: 5+7+11+12
  • R3: 3
  • R4: 6+10
  • R5: 6+7+9+11

Ticket Cost: $16