Saturday Afternoon Spot Plays for Starter Stakes Day at Gulfstream Park

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February 15th, 2018

There is no graded stakes action on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, but that is because it is Starter Stakes Day in Hallandale, Florida.

The entire twelve race card is filled with conditional stakes events written for horses that have competed in claiming races in the past.

Here are two horses I will build my Saturday around at Gulfstream Park:

Race 8

Like a few of the other races on Starter Stakes Day, the $50,000 Rough and Ready Stakes conducted at one mile over the main track is led by the presence of runners from the barn.

#4 Aztec Sense is the 9-5-morning line favorite after an easy wire-to-wire score in an optional claiming event on January 12th. The son of Street Sense had things his way from the jump in that race last month where jockey Paco Lopez sped to the lead from his inside draw, was not threatened on the backstretch and pulled away late for an easy win.

The winner of 3 of his last 4 and 5 of 29 overall certainly merits respect, but I am going to take a shot against him in the Rough and Ready because I do not see him making another easy lead. Furthermore, the five-year-old gelding comes into Saturday off of a career best 101 BRIS speed rating last month, so there is a strong possibility he will regress after moving forward so significantly this late into his career last time out.

I will pass on Aztec Sense and his stable mate #7 Solve and instead will take a shot in this spot with #9 Quenane.

Trainer Tamara Levy cuts the son of Algorithms back to a mile after racing at eight and a half furlongs last month. He draws towards the far outside, which should give leading rider Luis Saez the ability to stalk just off the early pace and use the foundation he has coming out of longer races to out finish his rivals.

At anything 6-1 or higher I will be wagering on Quenane to rebound from the poor effort last time out and find the wire first.

Race 10

I will shift my tack to the Gulfstream Park lawn for the second of my two spot plays on Starter Stakes Day.

#4 Gianna’s Dream and #8 Starship Jubilee are listed as the favorites on the morning line for the  $60,000 Mary Todd Stakes, but I prefer the chances of late running #9 Peru.

The daughter of Motivator ships back to Florida after a runner-up effort in the Houston Distaff Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park late last month. The Ken and Sarah Ramsey owned mare enters Saturday in strong form, but has been unable to get to the wire first of late finishing second in three consecutive starts.

While I am concerned with Peru’s inability to get passed her final rival of late, I think the race shapes up well for the late running British bred. Additionally, trainer Mike Maker legs up Eclipse Award winning jockey Jose Ortiz for the initial time. No disrespect to her previous riders, but Ortiz is an upgrade that could get this five-year-old back to the winners’ circle for the first time since July.

Look for Ortiz to angle in and save ground early and come with a well timed late run good enough to get to the wire first in the Mary Todd.

I will gamble on her to win at 4-1 or higher.

It is not a star-studded card on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, but as usual there are plenty of opportunities to make some money.