The question going into yesterday’s Grade 1 Donn Handicap was whether or not a colt with just three starts under his belt was ready for prime time, and it turned out the answer was a resounding yes.
The Todd Pletcher trained Graydar, coming off a first level allowance score on Dec. 8 with a 103 Beyer Speed Figure went up against a more seasoned group that included Grade 1 winners Flat Out, Take Charge Indy, Ultimate Eagle, and Pool Play, and he took them gate to wire to pull off the mild upset.
It looked as if he might be compromised by an expected speed duel with Ultimate Eagle, but that never developed as that foe did not break as alertly and faded after chasing the early pace and was eased and vanned off after the race.
However, Graydar did set solid early fractions of :23.12, :46.87, and six furlongs in 1:10.59 and had enough left in the tank to hold off the late running Bourbon Courage late to win by three lengths under jockey Edgar Prado, returning $13.40 for the win and topping a $2 exacta that paid $57.00.
“He ran an enormous race. We weren’t really sure what the pace scenario was. We figured we’d be stalking (Ultimate Eagle). Edgar and I talked about it and figured that was Plan A. But the last thing I said leaving the paddock was ‘If it works about and you’re there, don’t take it away,’” Pletcher said. “He beat Ultimate Eagle to the turn and he sat off of us. (Graydar) was laying down serious race-horse fractions. It wasn’t like he was walking the dog. He got into a nice comfortable rhythm.”
The biggest disappointment was Flat Out, who was sent off as the 2-1 betting favorite but finished a non-threatening fourth.
As of late Saturday night there was no word from Aqueduct on whether we would be back and racing after losing Friday and Saturday due to the winter storm Nemo.
I figured we would just head out to Florida and I handicapped Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs for Sunday afternoon. My Best Plays Report includes my eight strongest plays from the two tracks.
Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Aqueduct action and my weekend Best Plays Reports for just $99.95.
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Tampa Bay Downs:
Analysis: Fumo Caliente showed some promise with a third place finish in her debut and then regressed slightly last out in a fifth place finish as the beaten fav when dropping in for a tag. Blinkers are added to the mix here she gets a jock upgrade here to Coa. She looks as if she can handle this group and the extra ground here should not be a problem.
Magic Charm acted up behind and in the gate, showed good early zip in her debut and faded to finish fourth against maiden special weight company. She looks well spotted dropping in here for a $25,000 tag for the Delacour barn that is 29% winners (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. This gal has four sibs that are winners, top earner stakes winner Call Her Magic ($195,013).
WIN: #5 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 5,9 / 3,5,6,9
TRI: 5,9 / 3,5,6,9 / 2,3,5,6,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
GP Race 10 The Hurricane Bertie G3 (5:05 ET) 9 Emma's Encore 5-1 2 R Holiday Mood 3-1 5 Fantasy of Flight 8-1 6 Golden Mystery 4-1
Analysis: Emma's Encore stalked the early pace, came with a five wide bid and was no match for Golden Mystery in the stretch in a runner up finish in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint. The outing was her first go off a 3 1/2 month layoff and looking for her to turn the tables here second off the bench. She won four of her nine starts last year including the Prioress (G1) at the Spa last summer. She should get a good pace set up here.
R Holiday Mood exits the same race as our top pick and is the defending champion of this race. Last out she prompted the early pace and weakened to finish third, edged by a neck by our top pick for the runner up spot. It was her first start since running fourth in the Inside Information (G2) last March. The Pletcher barn is 30% winners with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff.
Fantasy of Flight was beaten a neck last out as the even money favorite against optional claimers here going a mile and cuts back to a sprint here. She makes her first start for the Nevin barn that takes over the training duties form the exiled Dutrow. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and if she runs back to her effort three back where she trounced Alw-3 foes at Belmont Park she will be in the mix here.
WIN: #9 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,9 / 2,5,6,9
TRI: 2,9 / 2,5,6,9 / 2,3,5,6,9
Mike DempseyMike 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. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, 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 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. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike daily with top picks from Belmont. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes. Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis. Join Jerry daily with picks from
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