We ended up with a pretty good day on Saturday, with three winners on top in nine races and five recommended exactas between the races I handicapped at Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds.
The exactas included three nice hits at Gulfstream Park that paid $56.40, $33.80 and $34.60, and a pair of puny $6.00 exactas at Fair Grounds.
The one race at Gulfstream Park where we missed was the El Prado Stakes, which the entire previous two days I had called The "El Padrino Stakes."
El Padrino is a Todd Pletcher trainee that won last year's Remsen (G2) as a juvenile and came back off a layoff to run second in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday.
So I was just a few letters off.
My second choice in the El Prado was Nikki's Sandcastle, who was 7-2 on the morning line but got a bit overlooked, sent off at 5-1, rallying from the back of the pack to get up late and return $12.00.
Things were looking good as my top pick Salto was on the lead heading for home, and my third choice Empire Builder was rallying in the stretch at odds of 22-1.
Unfortunately the longshot Kharafa rallied to grab the runner up spot at odds of 17-1, which broke up my exacta, trifecta and superfecta tickets.
This will be my last column until Dec. 26 so I just wanted to take a second to wish everyone a great holiday. I have been writing this column for what seemed like three or four years, but when I looked back to see exactly when I started with Vegas Insider, it was in June of 2007.
That is 5 ½ years of handicapping the ponies here and I just want to say thanks to everyone that stops by here to check on my selections and whatever else I may have on my mind.
Without all of your support here at Vegas Insider, I would just be home sitting in front of my computer talking to myself.
Have a great holiday!
Sunday's Best Plays Report includes my eight strongest plays from Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park.
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Here is today's third race from Gulfstream Park to get the day off to a good start:
GP Race 3 Md Sp Wt (1:41 ET)
1 Market Savvy 4-1
3 Jayezaa 12-1
7 Flower Market 3-1
6 Conquesta 6-1
Analysis: Market Savvy put in a good effort on polytrack at Keeneland in her debut, rallying to finish third, beaten 2 3/4 lengths for the top spot. That was a productive race, with three runners exiting the race to break their maiden in their next starts. The $230,000 Keeneland purchase has a nice pedigree, by Street Sense out of the turf stakes winner Cuyahoga ($97,540) who has dropped a pair of winners including three time turf winner Annawon ($79,691). The Sheppard barn is 17% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from synth to turf.
Jayezaa makes her third start since returning off a 2 1/2 month break and returns to turf. The filly was eighth in her lone go on turf back in July at the Spa. The top two in that race were next out winners, with the winner Abaco winning her next three starts, zipping through her first three allowance conditions. This gal was expensive, purchased for $325,000 and is out of the stakes winner Last Song ($336,483). The barn has been on the chilly side here and in New York recently, but this gal figures to be a decent price in this spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,6,7
TRI: 1,3 / 1,3,6,7 / 1,3,6,7,8
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
GP Race 9 OClm $62,500N2X (4:35 ET)
9 O'Prado Again 3-1
3 Chosen Empire 5-1
1 El Commodore 5-2
4 Heavy Breathing 6-1
Analysis: O'Prado Again was the beaten chalk last out at this level on the main track at Churchill Downs in his second start off an 11 month layoff. The winner Majestic Warrior got loose in the stretch and then came back to run a second versus $100,000 optional claimers in his next outing. The colt won the Remsen (G2) as a juvenile and now tries turf for the third time in his career, his best effort a third while still in the maiden ranks. He has a couple of sibs that are grass winners and he looks primed for a top effort third off the bench here for the Dale Romans barn.
Chosen Empire makes his first start since April for the Liz Grey barn. The gelding hit the bench after winning at this level in his last outing right here . The barn claimed him from the Canani barn after losing him back in 2011. He has a couple of quick works on the morning tab and has run well fresh in the past. Gray is a former assistant to Romans.
Wagering WIN: #9 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,9 / 1,3,4,9
TRI: 3,9 / 1,3,4,9 / 1,3,4,7,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Fair Grounds:
FG Race 9 Md Sp Wt (4:55 CT)
6 Gator Zone 3-1
7 Orland Flash 9-2
3 Anahauc 5-2
2 Pure Sentiment 9-2
Analysis: Gator Zone put in a decent effort in her debut at Churchill Downs. The filly prompted the early pace while three wide, made a move around the far turn and battled on gamely in the stretch, weakening inside the final furlong to check in third. She figures to move forward off that effort for the Margolis barn that is 29% winners (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. The filly is out of the stakes winner May Gator ($570,298) who has dropped one other foal to race, stakes winner Miz Ida ($303,985).
Orland Flash steps up off a runner up finish for a $50,000 tag last out at Churchill Downs. The filly pressed the early pace, opened up a lead and could not hold off the winner late, settling for the runner up spot. The field looks almost as tough as these despite the step in class. The three that finished behind her have all run back with a pair of seconds and a third. The barn has been sending out live runners and if this gal moves forward again she should be right in the mix.
Wagering WIN: #6 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 2,3,6,7 / 2,3,5,6,7
Good luck today!