Horses of note in the rich carryovers at Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Penn National, and Turfway Park

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March 19th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson analyzes horses of note in the four richest carryovers up for grabs on Friday, March 19 at Gulfstream Park, Penn National, Santa Anita, and Turfway Park.

Gulfstream Park, Race 5, $431,625 Rainbow 6 carryover (post time 3:11 p.m. ET)

Gulfstream’s rich Pick 6 carryover looks fairly middle of the pack as far as handicapping difficulty is concerned. The six-race sequence contains 49 entries (averaging 8.2 per race) and 241,920 possible outcomes.

Of course, you can reduce the number of potential combinations to just 48,384 if you’re willing to single #4 Bluegrass Parkway (3-1) in the ninth race, a 1 3/8-mile allowance optional claiming race on the turf course.

Bluegrass Parkway is only the third morning line choice in a five-horse field, but I loved the way he rallied to secure a dead-heat victory with #5 Battalion (7-2) over this course and distance on Jan. 9. Racing dead last behind pedestrian fractions could have compromised Bluegrass Parkway’s chances, but instead he rallied furiously (dashing the final three furlongs in :34.57) to snatch a share of the spoils.

That race marked Bluegrass Parkway’s first start for trainer Mike Maker, who is a master at claiming turf horses, stretching them out in distance, and turning them into stakes stars. Bluegrass Parkway could well become the next example, with Friday’s allowance heat serving as a steppingstone toward bigger and better things.

Penn National, Race 3, $142,457 Hollywood Hi 5 carryover (post time 6:52 p.m. ET)

Penn National’s jackpot-style Super Hi 5 has been slowly but surely accumulating an impressive carryover. Friday’s pot is up for grabs in Race 3, a $5,000 claiming race which will head to post with a maximum of 10 starters and 30,240 possible outcomes.

The morning favorite is #3 Travelin Gambler (2-1), who has cracked the trifecta in four straight starts over this class level and distance. But although he’s capable and consistent, the four-year-old gelding is also a pure front-runner who struggles to stretch his speed over six furlongs. Travelin Gambler led at the eighth pole of his last three starts, only to falter when it counts. He’s actually finished behind #2 I B Charly (8-1) and #10 Goldmine Kaz (9-2) in recent starts, so my slightly quirky recommendation is to key Travelin Gambler for second and third place only and try to beat him on top with a longshot.

Santa Anita, Race 3, $181,922 Rainbow 6 carryover (post time 5:08 p.m. ET)

If you want to chase a Pick 6 carryover on a small budget, check out Friday’s Rainbow 6 sequence at Santa Anita. With just 42 entries (an average of seven per race) and 108,864 possible outcomes, the 20-cent wager appears winnable with a modest investment.

The trickiest part might be deciding how to play Race 5, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies. Many bettors figure to favor #5 Just Distorted (5-2), who rallied to finish second in her debut sprinting six furlongs over this track Feb. 26. But Just Distorted hasn’t posted a timed workout since then, and the fact trainer Jonathan Wong strikes at just an 18% rate with second-time starters (well below his overall 26% win rate) is cause for pause.

The logical alternative to Just Distorted is #1 Stressed (4-1), who finished just a neck behind Just Distorted in the Feb. 26 maiden heat. The daughter of Goldencents has more tactical speed than her key rival and looms as a major danger in her second start on dirt. Singling either Just Distorted or Stressed is probably the way to play, cutting costs and allowing us to spread deeper in other races. I personally lean toward Stressed as the more likely winner, but it’s a close call.

Turfway Park, Race 3, $78,228 Single 6 carryover (post time 7:16 p.m. ET)

Turfway’s Pick 6 looks harder to hit than the one at Santa Anita, though the 55 horses and 522,720 possible outcomes in the mix are still more manageable than the formidable sequences (featuring 70+ horses and millions of possible outcomes) we saw earlier in the Turfway meet.

The Single 6 kicks off with a $30,000 claiming race featuring just six starters, though don’t assume the small field will produce a chalky outcome. The multiple graded stakes-placed #5 Scabbard (2-1) is the morning line favorite while racing for a claiming tag for the first time. But the son of More Than Ready has always seemed more effective racing around one turn rather than two, so the two-turn mile of Friday’s heat may prove problematic.

#2 Front Man (5-2), who has placed twice over this track, distance, and class level, is a logical alternative at a slightly better price. In fact, I wouldn’t be opposed to making Front Man a single in this small but competitive field.

Good luck!