Mucciolo: Gulfstream graded plays

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December 15th, 2017

A handful of Grade 3 races will be held on a fantastic Saturday card at Gulfstream Park and I will take aim at the big races.

Rampart S.

Seven fillies and mares will go one mile on the dirt in the first graded race and I give the slightest of edges to Todd Pletcher’s NONNA MELA. Grade 2-winning sophomore by Arch has flashed brilliance in each of her trio of lifetime wins, including a romp in the 2016 Adirondack S. (G2) at Saratoga, and her latest venture was a useful one when an even fifth in the Raven Run S. (G2) at Keeneland in October. Kentucky-bred should be paying close attention early on with Javier Castellano in the silks.

Sugar Swirl S.

Nine fillies and mares will speed six panels in this affair, led by defending champ DEAREST who drew the rail for this dash. While I have a lot of respect for the daughter of Midshipman and wouldn’t be surprised to see her win, I will look for the upset. MISS HOLLYWOOD was a recent $725,000 Fasig-Tipton purchase last month and will hope to earn some of that money back in her first start for conditioner Mark Casse. Five-year-old by Malibu Moon loves it here with a 5-3-1-1 record at Gulfstream and improvement appears likely in just the second run since January. John Velazquez gets the assignment.

My Charmer S.

One-mile turf affair will bring nine to post with Grade 2 heroine ON LEAVE looming as the one to beat for Shug McGaughey. Gray is the class of the field and comes off a huge run at Del Mar when an ultra-game third in the Goldikova (G2) after an impossible trip.

But DEFIANT HONOR has always been a horse who has flashed a lot of ability and her two swift bullet morning drills in anticipation of this race will point me in her direction at a price. Jimmy Toner trainee is a full-sister to the classy RECEPTA and might benefit from being placed in the outer post slot with Velazquez in the stirrups.

Harlan’s Holiday S.

FEAR THE COWBOY draws outside of his two main foes in this race and loves the surface at Gulfstream Park (5-3-1-1). Five-year-old son of Cowboy Cal impressively bagged his last local appearance, rolling to a three-length decision in March’s Skip Away (G3), and he had a nice prep run for this when posting a lifetime-best 105 BRIS Speed number off a short layoff. Kentucky-bred bay will have pace to run at and gets by late beneath Javier Castellano.

Tropical Turf S.

Grassy test lacks a standout and I will tab the Chad Brown-trained CAMELOT KITTEN to get back in the win column. Bay son of Kitten’s Joy has not shown a lot of progression this season after capturing four graded races as a sophomore, though he does come in fresh with good morning works and a nice post draw for a potent barn. Colt will be saving ground and in a field with a lot of forwardly placed types, his late kick might be just enough in the stretch with Irad Ortiz taking over the reins.