At the Gate - Saturday
February 9, 2013
By Mike Dempsey
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Back in the “old days” horseplayers like me would go into an absolute panic if there was a winter storm. Before the days of simulcast and online wagering, there would be no action if a racetrack canceled their program.
With winter storm Nemo nailing the Big Apple, the New York Racing Association cancelled racing both on Friday and Saturday, but all we need to do is head south, and there is plenty of great betting action at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Gulfstream Park offers a 12-race card this afternoon with four stakes including a competitive renewal of the Grade 1 $400,000 Donn Handicap.
Flat Out is the 3-1 morning line favorite but the seven-year-old does his best work in New York and we may be able to beat him for the top spot.
The race I am looking forward to the most is the Grade 1 $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, which features a great match up of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and multiple Grade 1 winner Point of Entry.
Animal Kingdom came off a layoff to run a strong second to Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile while Point of Entry ran second to Little Mike in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Also on today’s card are the Grade 3 $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship and the Grade 3 $150,000 Suwanee River.
Saturday’s Best Plays Report includes my ten strongest plays from Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park.
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Here is today’s opening from Gulfstream Park to get the day off to a good start:
GP Race 1 Alw $54,500N1X (12:45 ET)
6 Attendant 6-1
4 Hampstead Heath 5-1
2 Big John B 5-2
8 Laythepistoldown 12-1
Analysis: Attendant ships in from Woodbine for the Frostad barn and returns to turf after running on poly in each of his last three starts. He was not a threat last out in graded stakes company and looks like a good fit here returning to the Alw-1 ranks. His last go on turf came back in September where he was a game second, beaten just 3/4 of a length for the top spot. He returns here off a seven week break and has good looking works over at Palm Meadows. He broke his maiden on turf and may appreciate the return to the weeds here.
Hampstead Heath also goes poly to turf here shipping in from Canada. The gelding broke his maiden on the turf at Woodbine and his first two trips against winners came on poly. Last out he made a good middle move to take over the lead heading for home but could not hold off the winner late in a runner up finish. The cut back in distance here should suit. He broke his maiden off the bench and comes back here off a nine week break for the Lynch barn that is 27% winners with horses coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
WIN: #6 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 2,4,6,8
TRI: 4,6 / 2,4,6,8 / 2,4,6,8,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Tampa Bay Downs:
Tam Race 8 The Manatee (3:55 ET)
9 Spectacular Sky 5-2
8 Appealing Stella 4-1
5 Starship Truffles 3-1
6 Magic Hour 8-1
Analysis: Spectacular Sky is the one to beat in here as Wolfson has a pair entered but Starship ruffles may scratch for a race in Maryland. Our top pick makes her first start since running sixth in the Chilluki (G2) going a mile where she set the early fractions and ran out of gas in the stretch. That loss snapped a three race winning streak for the mare. The cut back to seven furlongs should suit. She owns a solid pace profile throughout and the barn can win off the bench.
Appealing Stella won the Minare last out here in her stakes debut after beating Alw-2 optional claimers two back at Gulfstream Park. The mare should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace and the Cibelli barn has been very live at the meeting here, winning at a 35% clip.
WIN: #9 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 8,9 / 5,6,8,9
TRI: 8,9 / 5,6,8,9 / 5,6,7,8,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
GP Race 11 The Donn Hcp G1 (5:32 ET)
1 Bourbon Courage 8-1
2 Flat Out 3-1
4 Graydar 5-1
8 Take Charge Indy 6-1
Analysis: Bourbon Courage makes his first start since a third place finish in the Clark 'Cap (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs. The colt made a good late rally, was carried outward in the stretch and bumped with Take Charge Indy and held on gamely in a good effort, beaten a length for the top spot. Two back in the Indiana Derby (G2) he ran a good second to repeat winner Neck 'n Neck who came back to win the Ack Ack (G3) in his next outing on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs. His lone stakes win last year came in the Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana Downs last September. The colt was working sharply at Fair Grounds for his return and then put in a quick work over the surface here on Feb. 3. The Gorder barn is 29% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. This guy looks like the value of the race fig he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.
Flat Out makes his first start since his third in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) last fall. The seven year old came with a five wide rally and drifted inward inside the final furlong and was not a real threat to the top pair. He did catch a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. Two came out of that race to win stakes next out, Ron the Greek taking the Sunshine Millions Classic and game On Dude winning the Native Diver (G3) and the San Antonio (G2) in his next two starts. His last three figs look imposing but he seems to do his best running at Belmont Park where he has won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) the last two years. He fits here and has Mott in his corner, but the price may end up on the light side.
Graydar appears to have the most upside in the field. The colt makes his stakes debut here for the Pletcher barn. He popped a 100 Beyer breaking his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths last April, and after a third against Alw-1 foes in September off the bench he passed his first allowance condition last out here with another triple digit Beyer. The runner up in the race was Tiz Yankee, who came back to beat Alw-2L foes in his next start with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. He gets the class test today and he might be up to it.
WIN: #1 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,4,8
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,4,8 / 1,2,4,5,7,8
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #8 Laythepistoldown 12-1
R2: #1 Rosie My Way 10-1
R5: #7 Jay Eye See 12-1
R6: #9 Freedom Child 8-1
R7: #7 Fire Guard 8-1
R7: #3 Prima Zip 12-1
R8: #4 Unbridled Command 15-1
R11: #1 Bourbon Courage 8-1
R12: #1 Gentleman’s Honor 12-1
R12: #12 Leader Avenue 10-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.
Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.
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