Early Pick 5 Analysis for Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream Park

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

March 29th, 2018

The Gulfstream Park racing office has put together quite a card on Saturday afternoon headlined by the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

The 14-race extravaganza offers horseplayers several opportunities at massive pools with none bigger than the mandatory payout in the Rainbow 6 commencing in Race 9.

Before that six-race sequence there is a Pick 5 that we can use to hopefully build our bankroll for the rest of the card. Here are my thoughts on the five races included in the early Pick 5:

Race 1

A state-bred allowance event at seven-eighths of a mile over the main track kicks off the Florida Derby card.

I give a few horses significant chances in the opener, including #6 Star Juancho who looks to make it two straight from just off the pace for trainer Jose Garroffalo. The son of Kantharos should sit a great trip under veteran jockey Robby Albarado. If he can avoid regressing off the career best 94 BRIS speed rating and the quick 17-day turn around he can run this group down late.

#4 Noble Drama and #10 Baba Toi also have big chances to earn win number two.

Noble Drama takes on winners for the initial time after crushing a group of protected maidens on March 9th. Baba Toi cuts back to one turn after encountering trouble at the start, but grinding away a minor share.

#9 Reason to Soar is an intriguing wild card option off the eight-month break for trainer George Weaver. Weaver attracts Eclipse Award winner Jose Ortiz to ride the son of Soaring Empire who has not won since a debut score over this surface 13 months ago.

Race 2

The second is a $20K maiden claimer conducted at seven and a half furlongs over the lawn.

#8 Rigel’s Halo is my top choice in her third career start for trainer David Fawkes. The daughter of Poseidon’s Warrior had a brutal trip last time out at this level, but Fawkes turns to Jose Ortiz in hopes he can work out a cleaner voyage on Saturday. If he can do so I expect this gal to be a major factor late.

#7 Casa Bonita has done virtually no running in two starts versus special weight company, but trainer Jason Servis drops him in for a tag. Servis’ 27% win percentage with horses dropping in to the maiden claiming ranks for the initial time make this filly a must use against this bunch.

#3 Tiki Bar Queen is bred to love running long on the sod. Trainer George Weaver has proven more than capable with first-time starters debuting for a tag going two turns on the grass. She seems live.

Race 3

An open $6250 claimer is up next.

I lack a strong opinion in this one-turn mile event, so I will use several and hope to catch a price before I get to my single in the $150,000 Cutler Bay in Race 4.

Race 4

The aforementioned Cutler Bay run at one mile over the turf drew a compact field of six. I love the chances of #3 Speed Franco.

The $170,000 Keeneland September 2016 purchase has won 2 of 4 since coming back off the freshening for trainer Gustavo Delgado and one of those losses came by a neck last time out in the Grade 3 Palm Beach.

This son of Declaration of War has shown tactical speed in all five career starts, but is all but certain to be outsprinted by the winner of the Texas Glitter at five furlongs #4 Salmanzar. However, jockey Jose Ortiz should have no problem relaxing this colt just off the pace much like Emisael Jaramillo did in his win in the Pulpit Stakes in December. Assuming the Kentucky bred can avoid an early battle with the Todd Pletcher trainee, he should have plenty left late to hold off the run of #1 Thearpist.

I will build my ticket around Speed Franco. I will not cash if he fails to get to the wire first.

Race 5

The final leg of the sequence is the $150,000 Sanibel Island.

The eight furlong affair over the grass drew a strong group of three-year-old fillies led by the 2018 debut of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner-up #8 Best Performance. The daughter of Broken Vow owns a class edge here, but her affinity for finishing second and concern that the Christophe Clement trainee may need one off the bench has me using a few others as well to close out the Pick 5.

Here is my suggested ticket for the early Pick 5. If you have budget limitations I recommend singling #8 Rigel’s Halo in the second. That will cut the cost of my suggested ticket down to $40.

Suggested Ticket:

Race 1: 4+6+9+10

Race 2: 3+7+8

Race 3: 1+3+5+6+8

Race 4: 3

Race 5: 1+2+3+8

Ticket Cost: $120

Let’s get the big day started right!