Playing against speed in the Ft. Lauderdale

Profile Picture: James Scully

December 11th, 2020

In Saturday’s Ft. Lauderdale S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, the top three choices on the morning line – Factor This (5-2), Halladay (7-2) and Somelikeithotbrown (4-1) – are all confirmed front-runners in the 1 1/8-mile turf affair.

Speed has been important in previous matchups. Somelikeithotbrown defeated Halladay when making the early lead in the Bernard Baruch S. (G2), but wound up second in the Dinner Party S. (G2) when Factor This set the pace. Halladay outperformed Factor This in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) after beating his rival to the front in the opening stages.

None have shown a preference rating willingly, and there’s other possible speed in the 10-horse field. I will go in a different direction.

#8 Spooky Channel has run well on Gulfstream’s turf, winning the 1 1/2-mile W.L. McKnight (G3) in January. Unraced since offering a belated rally for sixth in the July’s Manhattan S. (G1), the 5-year-old gelding cuts back in distance and returns from a five-month freshening. He’s very intriguing at 12-1 on the morning line.

Brian Lynch used the same move at Churchill Downs in May, cutting his charge back in distance off a rest, and Spooky Channel closed boldly to win a stakes-caliber allowance at 1 1/16 miles. The chestnut is 1-for-2 at the 9-furlong trip, and he should get the right set-up with Julien Leparoux.

Spooky Channel is my top choice, but I will a pair of additional late runners, #2 Delaware and #5 Channel Cat, in multi-race wagers.

Here are a couple of other thoughts at Gulfstream Saturday:

In the 6th race, the 6-furlong Sugar Swirl (G3) for fillies and mares, #1 Sound Machine (5-1) appears capable of receiving an ideal trip just off the early speed from her inside post. The 3-year-old shows exits a pair of respectable efforts for Saffie Joseph, and she should appreciate returning to Gulfstream. Jose Ortiz picks up the mount.

The 7th race is a mile maiden special weight for 2-year-olds, and #4 American Law appears to be training forwardly in preparation for his first outing, recording several quick moves at Palm Meadows and Keeneland. By excellent debut sire Constitution (20% first out), the $200,000 colt hails from a classy female family, and he attracts the services of Irad Ortiz Jr. Danny Gargan has won two of his first five starts at the Gulfstream meet, and American Law (4-1 third choice on morning line) looks well-meant here.